Tag Archives: Winchester

RETRO-REVIEW: Colt SAA

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The Colt SAA is perhaps the most easily recognizable revolver in the world. READ MORE

saa

Heyward Williams

Some handguns give you a 1200 psi adrenaline flow just handling them. Others are as exciting as a dance on broken ground. The Colt Single Action Army is among the former. The Colt is an icon in the truest sense, and iconic handguns and the use they have been put to in times of war and trouble are immensely interesting. Despite being introduced in 1873 the Colt SAA (sometimes called Frontier Six Shooter or Peacemaker) remains in production and is still a useful firearm. I often carry the Colt Single Action Army in the field, as a trail gun, when hiking, and sometimes just because it feels right. My philosophy of a hard hit delivered with accuracy in preference to a flurry of small caliber shots seems a good fit for my lifestyle. The Colt isn’t at the top of the list for personal defense anymore but then it isn’t at the bottom either. For protection against dangerous animals including feral dogs and the big cats the Colt seems just right. The Colt was the first choice of experienced gunners many years ago, in spite of good quality double action revolvers being widely available. Lawrence of Arabia, Frank Hamer, Tom Threepersons, Douglas McArthur, George S Patton and others relied on the Colt SAA for everyday use. It is a practical and hard hitting handgun and these men were on the point of danger. (Hamer and Lawrence each referred to the Colt SAA as their Lucky Gun or Old Lucky, and each also used the 1911 pistol.)

In the early 1870s Colt Firearms was given the task of creating a new Army revolver. The goal was a handgun and cartridge capable of taking a Native American war pony out of action at 100 yards. (More horses than men were killed in practically every battle in the west.) The result was the solid frame Single Action Army. The .45 Colt used a variety of loads ranging from 230 to 260 grains, at 750 to 900 fps, and in both copper and brass cartridge cases. The cartridge lived up to its promise. While there were other cartridges chambered in the Colt, notably the .44-40 WCF, the .45 Colt is my favorite. It resounds with authority today.

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This is a second generation .45 Colt SAA.

The original Army revolver featured a 7 ½ inch barrel. The later Artillery Model featured a 5 ½ inch barrel and finally a popular 4 ¾ inch barrel or Gunfighter’s Model. The Single Action Army requires the hammer be put on half cock to load. Open the loading gate. Load one cartridge, skip a cylinder, load four and cock the hammer and lower it on an empty chamber. The revolver then and now is only safe to carry with five beans under the wheel as the firing pin would rest on the primer of a chambered cartridge otherwise, an unsafe practice. To unload open the loading gate and kick each cartridge out individually with the ejector button. The first guns were manufactured with iron frames that were case hardened to strength. I still prefer the case hardened look with modern high quality steel revolvers. There are incremental improvements in the type and many different chamberings. The SAA earned a reputation as a durable and hard hitting handgun. The balance of the revolver is excellent. It is among the fastest pointing and hitting handguns I have used. The 1911 fits my hand well and it is superior in rapid fire, the double action revolver required a different grip style to stabilize the handgun as the forefinger works the trigger. But nothing points like a finger like the SAA. Even today few handguns are as fast and sure to an accurate first shot at moderate range. The wound potential of the lumbering old slug is unsurpassed in standard calibers although equaled by strong loads in the .45 Auto Rim.

saa
The .45 Colt responds well to careful handloading.

My modern SAA is the 4 ¾ inch version with case hardened frame. The revolver is plenty accurate for most uses. I have used quite a few loads in this Colt and still enjoy working up handloads and testing factory loads. Winchester still produces the original 255 grain conical bullet. The Super X load is faster than the modern cowboy action loads and breaks just over 800 fps in the 4 ¾ inch barrel SAA. This load exhibits excellent penetration. The bullet will tumble in some media creating an extensive wound the length of its travel. I have the greatest respect for this load as a personal defense load and for defense against animals into the big cat class. I have also tested the Winchester PDX hollowpoint. This load operates a modest pressure but jolts a well designed 225 grain JHP at 800 fps. Expansion is good. This loading would make an excellent defense load for home defense. There are combinations I load myself for occasional use that are even stronger including a 255 grain SWC at 1,000 fps, but I do not need these for most uses. With any of these loads the Colt will group five shots into 2-2.5 inches at 20 yards.

saa
.45 Colt loads compared to the .45 ACP.

A great advantage of the SAA is its balance on the hip. The revolver sets right, with the proper balance of barrel, cylinder and butt to offer a forward tilt on the draw. While I am not adverse to tucking the revolver in my belt — with the loading gate open in the appendix position == you really need a good holster. Among the finest possible holsters to be had is the DM Bullard shoulder holster. This is a relatively fresh design with excellent utility. The holster load bearing harness features a steel reinforcement for rigidity. The holster itself may be detached for belt use if needed. The rig shows excellent fit and finish including creased straps and excellent adjustment. During the winter months there is no handier type of carry. I also use a concealed carry holster with a severe tilt that offers practically as much concealment as an inside the waistband holster. Mine is of carefully crafted exotic leather. Also from DM Bullard this holster is a sturdy companion that keeps the handgun secure but ready for a rapid presentation.

The Colt has the famous plow handled grip and a decent trigger. A tip on firing the beast- don’t take the time to carefully steady the gun and fire slow fire but use it as intended. Draw, cock the hammer as it is brought on target, and press the trigger smoothly but quickly. Colt revolvers are among the most famous of handguns. They are historically important and offer practical utility today. If a sense of history and emotional attachment mean anything to you these are the handguns to have. Don’t lock them in the safe. Fire them often. Carry them. They are valuable but in my opinion more valuable to a shooter than a collector.

saa

Proper Ammunition Storage

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If you are hoarding or only keeping what you need on hand don’t let your investment rust away. READ MORE

ammo storage
Fiocchi’s 80 rounds in a can is possibly the best combination of 12 gauge buckshot and easy storage.

Heyward Williams

Storing ammunition is at least as important as properly storing your firearms. After all, the firearm is no better than a stick or a club without ammunition. While many of us like to have an adequate supply of ammunition for a SHTF situation this isn’t my primary motivation. I am more concerned with an adequate supply of ammunition for training and recreation than for possible use in a societal break down. I have had to curtail my personal training and firearms classes during shortages because I simply could not obtain enough ammunition. There was considerable price gouging at times and I no longer patronize those outlets. Finding twenty nine boxes of ammunition when you really need fifty is discouraging. (Fifty students, fifty rounds each, every class for months is a lot ammunition.) Conversely I walked into Academy Sports a few months ago and saw several pallets of Winchester 9mm ball for $6.99 per fifty cartridges. I estimated 20,000 rounds on the floor. The shortage, it appeared, was over. Now it is back. These things run in cycles — even if the current shortage is short lived, we may see another shortage, particularly around election time.

ammo storage
These boxes are arranged in order of caliber — .45 Colt, .45 ACP.

What are your needs?
I don’t hoard things for their own sake. I like to have a few months supply of the ammunition I really need on hand. When I taught handgun marksmanship and tactical movement students seemed never to bring enough ammunition and others brought gun and ammunition combinations that were not proofed and they malfunctioned. I have learned quite a bit about ammunition storage. As an example I have handloaded my handgun ammunition for more than forty years and cannot recall a misfire cartridge due to storage issues. Ammunition isn’t quite in the category with silver and gold but may be more precious and useful if you need it. It is expensive enough that you should respect the investment and take steps to store it properly. This is more important the greater the amount of ammunition you store. Some like to burn up their ammunition on the weekend and call on Monday and replace it. That’s fine, a minimal inventory works for some of us. I am not comfortable with that program. Buying in bulk and keeping ahead on the ammunition supply is important.

ammo storage
Some ammunition is stored in the original box, and others for more long term storage in the original bulk packing box.

I don’t know if we will face a societal upheaval and you will need that ammunition. I certainly hope not. But if you are in a bad situation the ammunition you have expended in training is the single greatest predictor of survival. My goal for ammunition storage is have a good supply for practice, hunting, and personal defense use as well as training family members. This demands the ammunition be stored properly. I store ammunition in the original box. Sometimes I simply put it on the shelf in the shipping box it arrived in. (Online is so easy!) Unless I am certain I am going to the range the next day or so I never open the boxes and pour the contents into a metal can. Sure, having those 500 9mms in an ammo can is cool enough but they are far more subject to damage from handling and the elements. Also, in the event that you trade one firearm and caliber for another, it isn’t usually possible to trade ammunition as well unless it is in the original box. For most of us, purchasing large quantities of ammunition — a case of five hundred to one thousand cartridges — and storing it properly is important.

ammo storage
Handloads should be plainly marked when in storage.

Ammunition Longevity
I have fired ammunition more than one hundred years old with good results. During my police career I saw ammunition improperly stored in cruiser trunks and in the basement of the PD that became corroded and useless in a few months. Storage is everything for shelf life. Ammunition manufactured since World War One or so was designed to last for centuries. Winchester was given a military contract in 1916 based on one bad primer in 100,000 — and the standard is higher today. I would never purchase older ammunition save as a lark or to feed some non critical use antique. I don’t trust surplus ammunition — there are too many storage and quality issues. Not to mention corrosive primers. Purchasing good quality ammunition means it will last much longer. Quality case mouth seal and primer seal is important for both storage and critical use. My handloads do not have this seal but as I mentioned I have not had misfires, because I store ammo properly. The keys are cool, dry and dark. Cool not cold. A closet in the home is ideal. Stack the original boxes on shelves, on the floor, or in a large MTM plastic box. Heat itself isn’t that destructive in normal ranges but it may cause humidity and condensation. We have all had our glasses or cameras fog up when moving from an air conditioned home to a hot back yard. You don’t want your ammunition supply to be subjected to these highs and lows. Moisture will attack gun powder. In my experience far more failures to fire are related to powder contamination than primer failure. (Don’t store solvents and cleaning compounds with ammunition!) In some instances the cartridge case may even become corroded. This is dangerous as they may lose some of their integrity. Just remember that moisture and humidity are the enemy. Normal fluctuations in household temperatures are okay. I would avoid extremes such as basement storage or storage in the attic. This is especially important with lead bullet loads. Many of them — and some jacketed loads — feature a lubricant on the bullet, in grease grooves. This grease will melt out of the grooves into the powder if the ammunition becomes too hot.

ammo storage
Don’t store ammunition in close proximity with chemicals or cleaning supplies.

Get in Order
Getting the ammunition in the proper order is important. I fire mostly 9mm and .45 ACP handguns. I also use the .223 and .308 rifle. The 12 gauge shotgun is my to go gun. We all need a .22 — then there is the .357 Magnum and the .45 Auto Rim and .45 Colt — so organization is important. Two thousand .45 ACP cartridges are on hand tonight and one hundred .45 Auto Rim, and that’s plenty. I keep handgun ammunition separated by training and service loads. Shotgun shells are more difficult to store and I do not have nearly as many. They are in one corner of the designated closet. My home is one hundred fifteen years old the ammunition storage was once a food larder. Works for me.

ammo storage
This MTM case guard carrier is a good option for smaller quantities of ammunition. MTM also offers much larger boxes that have much utility.

Other points — I keep firearms in a safe. While a couple may be loaded for various reasons I do not normally store ammunition in the safe. Some like to have an ammunition supply in loaded magazines. That’s okay if they are stored properly. Take these magazines, fire them in practice, and rotate the supply. If loaded down from 30 to 26 or 20 to 18 rounds quality AR 15 magazines will run forever. Pistol magazines from MecGar are much the same. Glock magazines loaded to full capacity never give trouble. If you need a stack of magazines loaded at the ready for emergency your zip code is probably written in Cyrillic or located abound Bosnia. These tips, points and cautions will work well for most of us and keep the ammunition supply fresh and uncontaminated.

ammo storage
The author doesn’t store loaded magazines unless a range trip is immediate.

REVIEW: Rossi R92 Lever Action .45 Long Colt

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This is among the best go anywhere solve any problem rifles. READ MORE

rossi r92 45
Short, handy, light and powerful the Rossi .45 Colt carbine has much to recommend.

Robert Campbell

For most of my life I have kept a lever action rifle handy for all around use. I have taken more game with the lever action than with any other type. During my time as a peace officer I kept a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 WCF lever action rifle in the trunk on more than one occasion. Such a rifle is capable of solving most of the problems encountered. I have the greatest respect for the AR 15 rifle and enjoy firing and using my .223 rifles. Few rifles are as versatile, accurate, and reliable as a good AR 15. Few rifles may be used for varmints and deer by simply changing loads- and then fired in a competitive match that weekend! I simply like the lever action and value its simplicity and ruggedness. I have seen lever actions in the hands of outdoorsmen, scouts and working cowboys that were beaten, battered, and even muddy. These things happen after a decade or two of use. But the rifles always work. When the likely profile is that you may need only a shot or two but that the rifle needs to hit hard, a powerful lever action rifle is a viable choice.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is available in several versions. This is a stainless steel version with the standard lever. For hard use this is probably the preferred version.
rossi r92 45
The lever action Rossi is also available with long barrels and even octagon barrels.

Recently I was in the market for a short handy lever action rifle. I did not seriously consider a Trapper model in .30-30 but sought out a pistol caliber carbine. There are many reasons for this choice. First, it is easier to find a range that allows pistol caliber carbines and this is a real consideration in many areas. Second, I am an enthusiastic handloader. As long as the brass holds out and I am able to obtain lead, primers and powder I will be shooting. I don’t hoard ammunition; I simply keep a reasonable supply. Ammunition is for practice, training, hunting and personal defense. My retirement portfolio contains other choices! While I like the pistol caliber carbine I am not sold on the carbine and handgun combination. When carrying the Rossi lever action rifle I am as likely to be carrying a .357 Magnum revolver as a .45, and more likely to carry my everyday 1911 .45 automatic. A long gun and a handgun are for different duties and compromise is evident.

rossi r92 45
While the combination of a revolver and rifle chambered for the same cartridge has some merit the author feels that they are a compromise and chooses his long and short guns on their own merits.

The lever action carbine slips behind the seat of a truck easily. It is flat, light, and may be made ready by quickly working the lever action. Once ready it may be made safe by simply lowering the hammer. Accuracy isn’t the long suit of the short pistol caliber carbine but it is accurate enough for most chores to 100 yards. Versatility is the long suit. It is a bonus that a good example isn’t expensive. I somehow found myself in the possession of Winchester 95 and Savage 99 high power rifles and a good Henry .22 rifle but no short powerful carbine. I addressed this deficit in the battery by purchasing a Rossi 92 carbine. These rifles are available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .454 Casull, and I have seen examples in .44-40 as well. The .357 is economical and the best choice for Cowboy Action. With Magnum loads it is a fine defense caliber and will do for deer. The .44 Magnum is a great caliber. I have used it to drop large boar hogs and it hits like Thor’s hammer. The .44-40 is a handloading proposition for real power. I happened along a .45 Colt example. The rifle looked good, with nice Brazilian wood and the popular large ring lever. Since I had plenty of .45 Colt brass the choice wasn’t difficult. I have reached that pleasant stage in life when every firearm doesn’t have to have a well defined mission to earn its keep, and where a specialized firearm that does a few things well is good to have. The Rossi was destined to serve as a go anywhere do anything rifle. For short range hunting, probably an opportunity rather than a planned hunt, to dispatch predators, pests and dangerous animals, and for personal defense on the road, the Rossi seemed a good fit.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine has a very short lever throw. It is fast, very fast. The saddle ring serves little purpose for most of us. The thong needs to be ditched for serious use.

Despite my Scot blood I am not the cheapest guy in the world but the rifle set me back less than four hundred dollars and I like that. This is the first example I have owned in .45 Colt, but the particulars of the rifle are familiar to me. The sights are pretty basic. There is a front post with a small brass bead and an open sight in the rear. The front post is adjustable for windage — with the proper punch — and the rear sight may be adjusted for elevation by use of the sight ladder. You have to know how to use these sights. I have heard more than a little grumbling concerning the difficulty of sighting in similar rifles. The front post must be set in the bottom of the rear notch for the proper point of aim. You do not hold it in the upper part of the rear leaf or you will shoot impossibly high. A tubular under the barrel magazine holds eight rounds. The lever action rifle was once referred to as a bolt gun — period literature is hard to read sometimes but interesting. The bolt is locked by rear locking wedges. The rifle is unlocked by working the lever. As the lever travels downward, the bolt moves to the rear and the extractor pulls the spent case from the chamber. The fresh round is fed from the magazine into a shell carrier. As the lever is closed the carrier feeds a fresh round into the chamber. Rearward travel of the bolt cocks the hammer.

rossi r92 45
The bead front sight is surprisingly precise at moderate range.
rossi R92
The rear sight is a good example of lever action rifle gear, with a sliding bar or ladder for elevation adjustment.

This is a generally reliable and trouble free system. However, be certain you learn to properly use the lever action. The lever is pressed forward, not down, and a certain cadence of fire comes with practice. I have witnessed the occasional malfunction in which a cartridge jumps from the magazine and under the carrier. This is devilishly hard to clear. A pistol caliber carbine such as the Rossi 92 has more leverage than a .30-30 rifle and the action may be manipulated more quickly. If need be you may put out a lot of lead with the Rossi 92. If you keep extra rounds on the belt the Rossi may be topped off one round at a time. The rifle weighs about five pounds loaded. It is only about 34 inches long — that’s compact. With the 16 inch barrel this rifle handles quickly and tracks between targets well. It is no trick to keep steel gongs moving at 50 yards. To test the rifle, firing at the 50 yard line, I set up an Innovative Targets steel target. This target is a great training aid. Using the steel insert rated for pistol calibers I was able to ring the target on demand.

rossi r92 45
The hammer spur is nicely checkered and gives good purchase. Note the locking wedges and the controversial safety arrangement.

Ammo Options
As far as ammunition, the Rossi was fired for the most part with my personal handloads using a 255 grain cast SWC. With the .44 Magnum carbine I have had to crimp over the bullet shoulder in order to assure feed reliability- loads intended for use in a revolver sometimes did not feed correctly in the carbine. This wasn’t the case with the .45 Colt carbine. Most of these loads generate about 800 fps from a revolver. At 25 yards the handloads struck a bit right and low but this was easily adjusted. In factory ammunition there are several distinct classes of ammunition. These include cowboy action loads that are lighter than standard, standard pressure lead loads, and standard pressure personal defense loads. There are heavy hunting loads such as the ones offered by Buffalo Bore. I fired a representative sample of each class of load. I fired a quantity of the Winchester 225 gr. PDX JHP defense load and also the Speer 250 gr. Gold Dot JHP load. Each was mild to fire and accurate. The bonded bullets should be excellent for personal defense. I also fired a quantity of the Hornady Critical Defense. This 185 grain bullet struck below the point of aim but gave good feed reliability. It would have easy to adjust the sights if I wished to deploy this loading. I also fired a small quantity of the Buffalo Bore 225 grain all copper bullet. What struck me is that these loads are practically indistinguishable as far as recoil. Each was mild, with no more recoil than a .410 bore shotgun. Only the Buffalo Bore load was noticeably hotter. But you are getting serious horsepower.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is fully compatible with factory .45 Colt loads, from standard pressure to +P.

Here are a few velocity figures —
Winchester 225 grain PDX, 1090 fps
Hornady FTX 185 grain Critical Defense, 1180 fps
Buffalo Bore 225 grain Barnes, 1310 fps

rossi r92 45
The 255 grain SWC handload on the left will solve a lot of problems. The Hornady FTX, right, is accurate and mild shooting.

The .45 Colt was designed for black powder way back in 1873. As such it is sometimes smoky and not as efficient as more modern calibers when loaded with smokeless powder. However a good quantity of the Black Hills cowboy action load gave both good accuracy and a full powder burn. A tight chamber and 16 inch barrel increases ballistic efficiency. As an example the Black Hills cowboy action loading breaks about 780 fps from a 4 ¾ inch barrel revolver, but over 1,000 fps from the Rossi carbine. While the bullet doesn’t expand it will do whatever the .45 Colt has ever done. The cartridge enjoys an excellent reputation as a manstopper. As for the gain in velocity over a handgun when ammunition is fired in the carbine, the average is a 100 fps gain with standard loads while heavier loads may gain 140-160 fps. This is a useful increase in power over the revolver but the real advantage is in accuracy. It is much easier to quickly get a hit with a carbine than with the handgun.

The action of the Rossi is easily the smoothest lever action I have used including original Winchester carbines. Pistol caliber carbines have plenty of leverage. The action is both smooth and reliable. The wood to metal fit is good, if not flawless. A point of contention is the L shaped safety found on the bolt. I simply ignore it. I would not remove it, some may wish to use it. Another source of some discussion was the large loop lever. This large loop is a great addition for use with gloved hands, but otherwise it isn’t more efficient than the standard loop. It may be slower to use than a standard loop. Still, it is the same large loop that Lucas McCain and Josh Randall used in the cinema and some like the looks. It is fast enough but in the final analysis serves no useful purpose and makes the light and flat carbine more difficult to store. I would not have sought out a big ring carbine, it was simply what was on the shelf. I did not feel strongly enough about the large ring to let it interfere with my decision to purchase the rifle. The same goes for caliber. Much could be said for the .44 Magnum version. However, the .45 Colt is a proven defense loading. At moderate range it will take deer sized game cleanly. I had the ammo. As for the buckskin tong around the saddle ring, ditch it. It sometimes interferes with handling.

rossi r92 45
At 3 yards the shotshell pattern would do in a rodent or snake. The shot capsule cut through the paper.

Another option with the Rossi 92 is the availability of shot loads. I used a handful of Speer/CCI shot loads in the carbine with good results. I did not cycle the rounds in the action more than one at a time. I would load a single shot cartridge in the magazine, feed it into the chamber, then load another. You feel the cartridge crunch a little as it chambers. I have the impression that the shot capsule might crack and crumble in the magazine from the force of a metal cartridge head under spring pressure butting into the plastic shot carrier. You would have a mess! The shot pattern is useful to 5 yards or so in dealing with vermin and reptiles. I like the option in a go anywhere carbine.

rossi r92 45
This is a Barnes X bullet in the author’s handloads. The .45 Colt is a versatile number that works best inside 50 yards.

When the Rossi is taken as a whole it is a capable carbine for many situations. It isn’t particularly accurate but it is accurate enough. It is inexpensive and fires a proven cartridge, with a good reserve of ammunition. If saddle rings and the big lever appeal to you the Rossi has much to recommend. But it is also a good performer and this is an attractive combination. When you look past the cinema depiction of the rifleman you realize that Lucas McCain was pretty smart to deploy a rifle and it gave him an advantage.

rossi r92 45
The author and the Rossi carbine- this rifle is fun to fire! This may lead to more practice sessions.

rossi r92 45

SEE MORE HERE

 

REVIEW: Bond Arms Bullpup — A Great Carry 9

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This may be the most advanced 9mm handgun on the planet.  READ WHY

bond arms bullpup

Bob Campbell

When we look at a new firearm we like to know where it came from and what operating principles it is based on. The Bond Arms Bullpup is a result of Bond Arms purchasing the rights and machinery to the Boberg pistol. Before that there isn’t a lot owed to anyone for this design. The pistol uses the proven locked breech short recoil principle but with a twist — literally. The pistol features a rotating barrel. A rotating barrel lessens the need for a heavy recoil spring and guide while controlling recoil. This is important in a very small 9mm handgun. Recoil energy is expended over a longer period of time. The barrel rotates 14 degrees during the recoil cycle as the slide unlocks and shoots to the rear. The recoil spring is pretty light, with its main function moving the slide back into battery after the spent cartridge case is ejected. As a result of this design the slide is very easy to rack. Easier than any other 9mm I am aware of.

bond arms bullpup
The mechanism is complicated but works well.

At first glance the pistol appears to have a very short barrel, when you realize the barrel takes up a lot of the slide. The 5.1 inch slide contains a 3.35 inch barrel. This means that the average velocity loss compared to a Glock 19 as an example is less than 40 fps average. That’s impressive and necessary as well as the 9mm demands good velocity to ensure bullet expansion. The Bullpup moniker comes from the pistol’s unique design. The magazine is loaded conventionally but the front of the magazine is closed and the rear open as the cartridge feeds from the rear. A dual tongued drawbar catches the cartridge case rim and pulls it from the magazine and feed it into the chamber. This is controlled feed at its nth degree. The cartridges must be carefully selected. The problem isn’t a blunt nose but cartridge integrity. A firm crimp is demanded. With this in mind, the company supplied a list of cartridges they have tested and which offer feed reliability. Included are inexpensive training loads and top notch defensive loads.

bond arms bullpup
Good sights are essential for combat accuracy.

I am particularly impressed with the grip design. The supplied wooden stocks are attractive and offer good abrasion and adhesion. The stocks are wide enough to soak up recoil and remain slim and trim for concealed carry. The sights are good examples of combat sights. As for improvements over the original pistol the primary improvement is in fit and finish. The Bond Arms Bullpup is as well made as any handgun. It isn’t inexpensive but it is innovative and it works as designed. A big reason the new pistol isn’t as finicky as the original — and the Roberg ran fine with good ammunition and proper lubrication — is that the reciprocating barrel and barrel block now feature a frictionless space age coating. This eliminates the need to keep the barrel and locking block coated. The take-down is the same as the original using a lever to remove the slide. This lever may be turned to the six-o’clock position in order to lock the slide to the rear. The slide does not lock open on the last shot, it simply isn’t practical with the Bullpup design. Be aware during combat practice of how the pistol behaves. Get a rhythm going and perhaps try to count the shots and practice tactical loads.

bond arms bullpup
Firing the pistol is a joy- this is a light recoiling and accurate piece.

When firing the Bullpup 9 I had a pleasant surprise. This is a very nice pistol to fire. It isn’t the lightest 9mm at about 22 ounces but recoil is decidedly light. The trigger action is very smooth. The Lyman digital scale measures 7 to 7.5 pounds on average. Press the trigger straight to the rear until it breaks cleanly and you have a good hit. During recoil allow the trigger to reset. The result is good control and surprisingly good combat accuracy. Most of the ammunition fired has been the recommended Winchester 115 grain FMJ, as well as Sig Sauer Elite 115 and 124 grain FMJ. The pistol is also reliable with modern expanding bullet loads including the Hornady Critical Defense and Critical duty and the SIG Sauer Elite V Crown loadings. Accuracy is exceptional for this size handgun. The pistol will exhibit a five shot 1.5 inch group with most loads at 15 yards, firing from a solid benchrest firing position. Of course this doesn’t have much to do with combat shooting.

Firing offhand it isn’t difficult to keep a full magazine in the X-ring well past 10 yards. I executed the 10 10 10 drill — modifying it to 10 10 7. Ten yards, ten seconds, and seven shots. The pistol stayed in the 8 and 9 ring. This is good performance. The pistol demands attention to detail, both in maintenance and in handling. The Bond Arms Bullpup comes with a hefty list of advantages foremost of which is its small size. Yet the pistol retains a full length, for a compact, pistol barrel and offers light recoil and excellent accuracy. This isn’t a handgun for the slightly interested. For the demanding shooter it is a top notch piece.

bond arms bullpup
This is a group fired from a solid rest at 15 yards.

Among a very few concealed carry holster makers offering a suitable concealed carry rig for the Bond Arms Bullpup 9 is Alien Gear. The soft backing coupled with a rigid Kydex holster makes for good comfort and a sharp draw. There isn’t another holster offering a better balance of speed, retention and comfort along with real concealment.

bond arms bullpup
The pistol carries well in this Alien Gear holster.

SEE MORE HERE

Winchester Ammunition Awarded U.S. Army Order

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Long-time ammo maker gets a big new contract! READ MORE

ammo plant

SOURCE: Winchester

The U.S. Army has recently awarded Winchester an $8.1 million order for 7.62mm ammunition under an existing “Second Source” contract. The ammunition will be manufactured in Winchester’s state-of-the-art facility in Oxford, MS with an estimated completion date of Dec 31, 2019. Winchester has received more than $285 million in orders on this contract since it was initially awarded in January 2016. “Winchester has a proud history of developing products for the military and is honored to have a role in supporting the American war fighter with the ammunition they depend on” said Matt Campbell, vice president of marketing and sales for Winchester.

 

There’s more Winchester arriving every day at Midsouth Shooters! Check it out right here!

Reloaders Corner: AR15 Chamber Options

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It’s vital to understand “which” chamber is in your AR15. What you don’t know can create big problems. Here’s why.


Glen Zediker


I’ve talked over or at least touched upon this topic, here and there, in other articles. And this week I got four phone calls asking for advice on “which” AR15 chamber I’d recommend. I guess that sort of spurred creation of this article. My primary goal (always) is to answer questions, and ideally before they are asked. So…

NATO mark
A TRUE NATO load always has this mark on its base: the cross-in-a-circle stamp. Some commercial ammo that appears to be mil-spec may or may not be, but err on the safe side.

There are a few options today, and, no, it never was “simple.” There have always been two distinct chambers cut for .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO. And that’s the difference right there! See, .223 Rem. is a commercial round, 5.56 is a mil-spec round. Yes. They are “the same,” but they’re not. The difference is in how these two are loaded with respect to pressures. NATO is a whopping lot hotter. To the tune of +15,000 PSI.

The differences in the chambers are, pretty much, that a NATO has a significantly longer throat or leade or freebore, whichever term is preferred. This is the area in a chamber that extends beyond the case neck cut.

Chamber-All gage
I use a Hornady LNL OAL gage to find out exactly the length of the chamber throat. Get one at Midsouth. This read shows “NATO” by the way. Sierra 80gr MatchKing at 2.550 inches to touch the lands. Wylde should read 2.475. SAAMI-minimum will (usually) be 2.395.

This area in a chamber accepts the initial gas expansion, so, in one way, it can be looked at like an expansion chamber. More room for expanding gases effectively reduces stress on the case. When this area is lengthened, there’s more room, less pressure build. When this area is shortened, there’s less room, more pressure build.

As said, .223 Rem. is short, NATO is long. Take a NATO-spec round and fire it in a .223 Rem. chamber and there’s too much pressure. The .223 Rem. will “fit” just fine; there’s no influential differences otherwise in chambering specifications between .223 Rem. and 5.56.

You’ve probably heard all that before. It’s very important to know. “Which” chamber affects making loaded ammo choices, and also in interpreting reloading data.

NATO pressure
Here’s “real” NATO fired in a commercial .223 Rem. chamber. Ouch. The imprints and general beating the case head shows are the result of the additional pressure in the NATO loading, and the .223 Rem. chamber’s inability to excuse that much extra pressure.

Short history as to the reasons these two chambers exist: .223 Rem. in civilian, commercial application was a varminting-type round, along the lines of .222 Rem. When SAAMI (Sporting Ammunition and Arms Manufacurers Institute) laid down the specifications for that round it did so based around the prevalent short .224 bullets of the day, which were often 52-grain flatbase designs. For best accuracy with the little bullets, the throat was kept short, decreasing the distance the bullet had to travel to engage the lands or rifling. Some, most, me included, call this chamber a “SAMMI-minimum.” The mil-spec ammo assembled for M16s used a 55-grain boat-tail loaded to a higher velocity, and the longer throat was specified to handle the extra gas.

What matters is knowing that you don’t have a .223 Rem. chamber. A NATO can handle anything.

Most AR15s I’ve handled in the past good long while have NATO chambers. It’s the only thing that makes any sense for someone, anyone, who wants to fire sto-bot ammo. Not all the mil-type commercial loads (like the “white box” varieties) are true NATO spec, but if the ammo is not marked “.223 Rem.” it might be a tad amount to a lot hotter than a short-throated gun should handle. True NATO ammo has a distinct marking on the case base.

There is now another what’s become “standard” chamber for AR15s, and that’s the Wylde. Named for AR15 accuracy pioneer Bill Wylde, this reamer specs fall between SAAMI-minimum and NATO. Bill started cutting these chambers for NRA High Power Rifle contestants who needed more room in the throat to accept the long 80-grain bullets but not so much room that the shorter 69-grain bullets were having to leap a gorge to engage the lands. A compromise. A Wylde is a good chamber, and a good choice.

Compare .223 chambers
Here’s the best way to see what’s going on with AR15 chambers. These are Sierra 80-grain MatchKing bullets loaded to an overall cartridge length that has the bullet touching the rifling. Left to right: SAMMI-minimum .223 Rem.; Wylde; NATO. Wahoo. Big, big differences. There’s a little more than 0.150 inches between the SAAMI-minimum and the NATO and that space in the throat handles the extra PSI of NATO-spec loadings. It is also, by the way, how to know (or one way to know) the actual “length” of a chamber throat.

Here’s how it breaks down, according to me:
SAAMI-minimum or commercial .223 Rem. chamber is good for those who are wanting the best accuracy from light bullets. Can’t run mil-surplus ammo or NATO-spec commercial though.

NATO is for anyone who wants to shoot anything and everything out there safely.

NATO stamp
There’s a few ways I’ve seen “NATO” marked on barrels, and I’ve seen a good number of barrels that aren’t marked at all. That’s terribly irresponsible. Look for “5.56” since that seems to have become the more common way to denote “NATO.”

Wylde is more or less an “Improved NATO,” and my experience has been that it will safely handle true NATO loads, even if that’s not its intended design. I base that on spent case condition. It will shoot a little better than a NATO with lighter, shorter bullets. The Wylde is available more and more commonly now from different manufacturers and in “drop-in” accessory barrels.

winchester .223 ammo
If you have a “.223 Rem.” stamp on your barrel don’t feed it any ammo that is not clearly likewise marked “.223 Rem.” Should say the same on the case headstamp. If it doesn’t read “.223 Rem.” do not fire it in a barrel stamped “.223 Rem.” This ammo is safe for any AR15. If you don’t see a stamp on your barrel, find out…or just fire .223 Rem.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

EVALUATION: Ruger SR1911 9mm

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A fan of the 1911, the author found this Ruger to be a great pistol, perhaps as good as it gets!


by Wilburn Roberts


SR1911

Ruger is an old-line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. They were a latecomer in the 1911 market but introduced their version that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy, and, as always with Ruger, value.

The Ruger SR1911 9mm is an aluminum-frame 1911 in the Commander configuration. “Commander” is a generic description of a 1911 with a full-size grip and frame but shortened slide and barrel. Taking that 3/4 inch off the slide makes for a fast-handling handgun that’s more compact to carry.

There are many 1911s available. Unfortunately some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made, and with high price tags, but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol. I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus (and it wasn’t only his but as he stated “the conclusion of learned minds”) was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating this pistol I found a service-grade handgun well worth betting your life on. And it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.

SR1911
Ruger’s two-tone treatment creates a handsome handgun. The fit and finish on both pistols tested was excellent. A custom-grade beavertail safety makes handling easier and shooting more comfortable. CNC machined front strap grooves are a nice touch and improve feel.

Examination
The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the chevron-style cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original-style 1911 serrations. The gray hard-anodized aluminum frame look great, well done. The pistol does not incorporate a Series-80-style firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters. The Ruger accomplishes the effect of a drop safety by means of a low-mass firing pin backed up by an extra-power firing pin spring. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more. The hammer is a lightweight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked, which is correct as designed. With the hammer to the rear and the safety on, the disconnector is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is depressed the trigger is blocked. The grip safety is a “memory-bump” type, which aids in properly depressing the grip safety with a less-than-perfect grip.

novak
Lo-profile Novak sights front and rear offer excellent visibility along with precise shot placement at reasonable distances.

The barrel features conventional 1911 locking lugs and barrel bushing. The recoil spring plug is likewise conventional and there is no full-length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years quite a few “target” features have crept into 1911s. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons. The barrel is a ramped type, an asset to improve case head support and feeding reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes can become problematic over time. The trigger is a long target type. I can live with this. The trigger is superb. It is crisp and clean, breaking at 5.25 pounds. The mainspring housing is a flat type, the only way to go with a custom-grade beavertail. The slide lock safety snaps into the locked position smartly indicating a tight, quality parts fit. The grips are hard rubber. They are comfortable and provide good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap beneath the trigger guard that aids in gripping the pistol and also lowers the bore axis. The relatively short height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is so controllable in rapid fire; there is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.

SR1911
The SR1911 comes with two high quality stainless steel magazines. These have stout springs and will feed anything I asked them to digest.

The magazines are well-made stainless steel units, with stout springs. It is a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle the slide at different speeds. A stout spring presents the rounds more quickly for better assurance of feeding reliability.

The 9mm chambering offers modest recoil yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those who cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber. Accurate shot placement can make up for power; the reverse is seldom true. 9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115 grain FMJ is one example, and the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1200 fps we see powerful performance.

SR1911
Despite its shorter slide, lighter weight, but also its 9mm caliber, the Ruger SR1911 is controllable, fast on target, and reliable. Fast, accurate shots are easy with this gun.

The Firing Line
The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the range. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, but after that it was smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired, and ejected every cartridge. Like most firearms the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over others for accuracy but not for reliability.

The combination of lighter weight, shorter slide, and 9mm chambering means that this pistol is fast from leather, fast on target, and offers excellent control. The 9mm just doesn’t kick much so fast and accurate double tap and controlled pair hits were easy. This is simply a great-handling 1911.

ruger-sr1911-9mm-c9

I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.

SR1911
I was able to test and evaluate a number of loadings. The Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P is a good choice for personal defense. The balance of expansion and penetration is impressive. If you do not wish to run +P loads in your 9mm, and many do not, the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip offers good expansion in a lighter load. I fired a number of loads for accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. 15 yards is a long distance for personal defense.

Wilburn Roberts is a veteran police officer, gunsmith, and professor. His articles have appeared in numerous publications over many years.

LINK: Ruger.com

Kel-Tec PMR 30: A Second Look

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This space-age pistol has a lot of uses. It’s a great pistol for hunting, personal defense, and target practice — and it’s also the fun gun of the century! Also, yes, at the time of the article being published Midsouth does have .22 MAG in stock. You can find it by clicking HERE.


Bob Campbell


Kel-Tec
This is a space-age pistol, but then it is a Kel-Tec! With modern construction, light weight and reliability this is one interesting handgun.

I came to the Kel-Tec PMR 30 in a different manner than I would have thought. My experience with their CMR 30 carbine solidified my confidence in the company and promoted my eager appreciation of this .22 Magnum self-loader. When I had the chance to obtain a PMR 30 pistol, I did not hesitate.

These handguns have been scarce on the market. The situation seems better now and I am seeing more PMR 30s in well-stocked shops. The PMR 30 is a unique and highly interesting handgun. This is a polymer frame pistol with a steel slide and barrel that works on the simple blowback principle. The first thing you notice after the space age appearance is that the pistol weighs less than 14 ounces. Even with a fully-loaded 30-round magazine, the piece weighs but 20 ounces. Yes, 20 ounces for a 30-shot pistol!

The pistol is quite narrow overall, although the grip must be deep enough to accommodate the .22 Magnum cartridge. Just the same, the handgun is manageable by all but the smallest hand sizes. The geometry of the grip is subtle until understood, and when looked at with an experienced eye the engineering is impressive. The safety is ambidextrous and offers ergonomic operation and easy reach.

The pistol is supplied with fiber optic front and rear sights. The sights offer excellent visibility and are precise enough for accurate fire well past 25 yards. The pistol is drilled and tapped for optics from the factory. The PMR 30 also features a light rail — unusual for a rimfire pistol. This rail accommodates popular lasers and combat lights including the LaserMax Spartan red laser.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 sights
Optics ready! Note fiber-optic rear sight — very bright — and the front fiber-optic sight is a good choice for rapid target acquisition.

Among the best features of this single-action handgun is the trigger action. The trigger is clean and crisp, breaking smoother than any factory trigger I’ve tried in recent memory.

The PMR 30 differs from most modern handguns in using a heel-type magazine release. While speed is better with the Browning-type button release, the heel-type magazine release is more secure. Just the same, with sufficient practice reasonable speed may be had with the heel-based system, and, with 30 rounds on tap, I do not foresee the need for a speed load. As heel-based latches go, the Kel-Tec is a good design and faster than most.

Kel-Tec
Note the heel based-magazine catch. With such a relatively long and heavy magazine this is a good choice, but it takes a little practice to perform efficient reloads.

Firing Tests
When loading the magazines, be certain to properly center each cartridge and bump the magazine every 5 or 6 rounds to ensure that the cartridges are seated. This improves reliability. The last few cartridges are rather difficult to load. For informal practice loading 15 to 20 rounds is a sound program and a little easier on the self.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 magazine
The 30-round PMR magazine is well-made of good material.

I have been able to test the pistol with a variety of ammunition, including the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP, Winchester’s 40-grain FMJ, the CCI 40-grain JHP, and Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Engineering a pistol to fire the rimmed .22 Magnum cartridge isn’t an easy task but Kel-Tec took the challenge and ran with it.

CCI
The PMR 30 eats a lot of ammunition quickly. It functioned flawlessly with all four different ammo selections I tried.

The pistol is a joy to handle and fire. Although the .22 Magnum exhibits a healthy muzzle blast, recoil isn’t a factor. A combination of a comfortable grip, excellent sights, and a crisp trigger make the pistol easy to land hits with. At close range, the pistol gave excellent results on the combat course, scoring X-ring hits at 5, 7, and 10 yards.

At a long 25 yards, I tested 3 loads. These were the Winchester 40-grain FMJ, the CCI Maxi Mag JHP, and the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP. Firing offhand, there was little difference in accuracy among all four. Boxes of 50 rounds each went all too quickly!

Bob Campbell
The PMR 30 is accurate in offhand fire. Firing quickly the Kel-Tec PMR is a controllable handgun. Get sighted on a target out to 50 yards and chances are you can hit it with a handgun that shoots as flat as a wire.

Shooting from a solid bench-rest firing position, the Kel-Tec was more than accurate enough for small game or pest control. The fastest load tested was the CCI Maxi Mag at a strong 1440 fps. The best group for accuracy was the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP at 3.5 inches, with the Winchester and CCI each cutting just below 4.0 inches. I suspect that with practice, the pistol may be more accurate, however, it is a light pistol and it takes practice to stabilize the piece.

Personal Defense
While I prefer a larger caliber, there is something to be said for a bullet with plenty of velocity. Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense load is designed for defense use and exhibits good penetration and expansion. I would recommend this load, and it is completely reliable in the Kel-Tec pistol. For the recoil-shy this is a first-class alternative to a larger caliber handgun.

Barber Leather Works
The Barber Leather Works Chameleon works well for concealing the PMR 30.

I, frankly, would rather have this pistol loaded with Hornady’s ammunition than a .32 or .380 pistol. Accuracy is good, hit probability is excellent, and you have a good reserve of ammunition. For those who like to practice, the PMR 30 is an alternative to harder-kicking pistols.

The PMR 30 is a surprising piece, well worth its price and one of the top fun guns of the century.


Calibers: .22 Mag. (.22WMR)
Action Type: semi-auto, hybrid blowback/locked-breech system
Frame: 7075 aluminum covered by glass-reinforced Nylon
Barrel length: 4.3″
Rifling: 1:16″ RH twist
Magazine: 30+1 rounds
Sights: Fiber Optic
Trigger pull: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
Overall Length: 7.9″
Weight: 13.6 oz.
Width: 1.3″
Height: 5.8″
Accessories: owner’s manual, hard case, trigger lock, and two magazines
Suggested Retail Price: $415

Kel-Tec.com


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

CORE 15 Scout Evaluation

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As an all-around, go-anywhere, do-anything rifle, the CORE 15 Scout carbine is a top contender. Accurate and reliable, this is also an affordable AR15.


by Bob Campbell


The AR15 rifle is, to me, the Winchester ’73 of this century. Useful for hunting or personal defense, useful as a lawman’s gun, and also a great all-around rifle for building skill, these rifles serve thousands of Americans well. There are more-powerful rifles and a few more accurate, but none as versatile as the AR15. The rifle illustrated is the newest addition to my modest AR15 battery. While “best” is a relative term, I do not own a rifle better made than CORE Rifle Systems CORE 15 Scout. Some have more features, but then so do the higher-grade CORE rifles.

AR15 carbine
The CORE rifle demonstrates classic lines. I added a rail mounted carry-handle to provide a back sight. Compact, powerful, and reliable the AR15 is quite an all-around rifle.

I have been prodded for the last year or so, not to test and evaluate this rifle, but to own and use an example. My oldest son, Alan, can do things with a rifle — and a lathe and press — I could never do, although I can still shoot with the best of them. Alan is also the best shot I know. Several times he has mentioned the fit and finish of the CORE rifle. The CORE slogan, “Where mil-spec is just a starting point” seems to be true.

The rifle illustrated is one of several models offered. The Scout is the base model. However, this is similar to a Colt 1911 Series 70 in concept. If you begin with a great handgun, you may upgrade the barrel and barrel bushing and have a match gun. You may add combat sights and have a good combat gun. On the other hand, you can just purchase a Combat Elite out the door.

The CORE rifle offers much the same options. If you buy a cheap 1911 or a cheap AR15, you will have to replace it at some point when you reach the skill level at which the firearm is limiting your performance. With the CORE rifle, you may add a superior optic or front rail at a later date. In my case, I already own a heavier AR15 with a heavy forend and a good quality scope. I like the Scout rifle for faster work and will probably leave it as issued.

CORE 15 Scout
The CORE 15 rifle is tight and demonstrated excellent accuracy. It is indeed a step beyond mil-spec. The fit and finish is outstanding.

I don’t think it makes horse sense to start with a cheap rifle. I have also seen many, many parts guns that simply did not work. It is fine to build your own if you use quality parts but so many do not. When you consider the amount you will expend on ammunition and training during the course of a few years, the price of a good rifle over a cheap rifle isn’t that great. Besides, the CORE rifle is affordable and well made of good material.

I began my examination by popping open the receiver and checking the bolt. The bolt carrier key must be properly staked or the rifle simply isn’t worth having. The CORE carrier looks good. Next, I checked the trigger. The compression is smooth enough with some take-up and a clean break. The rifle is delivered without sights, so I added a carrier handle with aperture sights. A good fit and all looked well.

The rifle is supplied with a single magazine. I added a stack of Magpul PMAGS and various aluminum magazines from the ready drawer. They have been proofed by previous use, so any problems would have been due to the rifle or ammunition, not the magazines.

Choosing my ammunition wasn’t difficult. The Winchester 55-grain FMJ USA White Box load is a great place to start. Accurate, clean burning, and always reliable, this is my number one resource for checking function in a new AR15 rifle. I lubricated the rifle well and locked the first magazine in. I loaded 25 rounds in the 30-round magazines. These first 25 rounds were far from boring but uneventful. Every load fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally.

The rifle was sighted in at 25 and then 50 yards. Fifty yards is about the limit of my ability to register excellent groups, but the 100-yard groups are not bad, just below the potential of the rifle. It is no mean trick to keep three shots in two inches at 50 yards with iron sights, which I consider good off the bench rest. I fired a few of the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip loads. These are excellent choices for all-around use in.223. The Ballistic Silvertip is offered in 50- and 55-grain weights.

CORE 15 Scout
The CORE 15 is light in the hand and well balanced. It’s a joy firing offhand.

Frankly, with an iron-sighted rifle, it is almost just making empty brass to test such a load at long range. However, each load proved more accurate by a margin than the FMJ load. I like to confirm zero with a new rifle — just in case I get a shot at a coyote or broad-side a deer. I also fired five rounds of a dwindling supply of the Winchester 69-grain MATCH loading. This is a credible loading with much to recommend at the football-field mark.

Settling into a solid firing position off of the benchrest, I kept the rifle as solid as possible and squeezed the trigger straight to the rear with concentration on the sights. I took about a minute per shot. I usually fire three shots at 100 yards, but fired five and took the long walk with anticipation. I did not earn bragging rights, but three of the five rounds were in two inches, the other two opened the group to a full 3.5 inches. The dog will run, but it needs good glass to see the way.

Once I confirmed the zero, my grandson and I fired four magazines at targets at known and unknown ranges. Paper is good to confirm sight regulation, but firing at this type of target builds field skill. The CORE rifle handles quickly and has proven completely reliable. You cannot ask for more than that.

Contact CORE AR15 Rifle Systems


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

Winchester 1886 Called Most Expensive Single Gun Ever Auctioned

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For a rifle of its age, Lawton’s Winchester 1886 #1 was in “Excellent” condition at the time of its sale in April. The barrel and magazine retained 95% of the original blue finish. The receiver shown here retained 90% of the original case colors. Photo courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company.
For a rifle of its age, Lawton’s Winchester 1886 #1 was in “Excellent” condition at the time of its sale in April. The barrel and magazine retained 95% of the original blue finish. The receiver shown here retained 90% of the original case colors. Photo courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company.

A Model 1886 Winchester rifle presented to Henry Ware Lawton, a U.S. Army captain widely credited with capturing Apache leader Geronimo, is now the most expensive single firearm ever sold at auction after drawing $1.26 million at Rock Island Auction Company’s April sale.

According to Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC), other guns have sold higher as a pair, but no other single firearm surpasses this new world record.

The Winchester Model 1886 Sporting Rifle (serial number 1) was presented to Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Capt. Henry W. Lawton by fellow Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, friend and influential firearms designer and noted friend of the Browning family Lieut. George E. Albee. The rifle and a gold pocket watch were presented to Capt. Lawton by the “Cattlemen of Central New Mexico” as a token of their appreciation for his service in the capture of the Apache Indian Chief Geronimo and his band in 1886.

“It is an honor to be entrusted with an American treasure,” said Rock Island Auction Company President Kevin Hogan. “Being serial number one and possessing such outstanding condition would alone be enough to draw six figures at auction. When you add one of the most famous names in the history of the Old West you have a huge crossover appeal and set the stage for something special to happen.”

In the summer of 1886, a force under the command of Capt. Lawton and Capt. Charles Gatewood pursued Geronimo and other hostile Chiricahua Apaches into Mexico and the Arizona territory. In September 1886, Gatewood and Lawton found Geronimo and negotiated the surrender of the last band of hostile Apaches to the U.S. Army. Lawton and Gatewood escorted the Apaches to San Antonio for holding before the band was transferred to Florida.

Albee, a friend of Lawton’s from the Civil War, worked for Winchester and was able to secure serial number “1” of the company’s newest rifle design in 1886. He presented it to his old war buddy and lifelong friend to commemorate Lawton’s remarkable achievement.

Watch the video below for more about this remarkable rifle. Or click on the links below to read a detailed account of the men involved with the rifle.

The Capture of Geronimo, Part I

The Capture of Geronimo, Part II