Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ruger's New Blackhawk: Fun Incarnate

I picked up my Blackhawk last week. It's got a 7 1/2" barrel and is chambered for the ancient .45 Colt (aka .45 Long Colt). I loaded up 100 rounds of .45 colt in Starline nickel plated brass(seen above) and topped 50 with Magtech 250 grain LRNFP's and the other 50 with Speer 200gr SWC--both cast lead bullets. I used WW231 powder (I don't publish my load data for CYA reasons, sorry) and CCI Large Pistol primers. I loaded my own ammo because .45 Colt ammo off the store shelf is absurdly expensive. Twenty rounds of plain old plinking ammo will run you about $17.50. I loaded all 100 of my rounds for about $40. Re-using my brass, the next 100 will cost about $18--about the same as 100 rounds of 9mm bulk ammo. If you're going to shoot .45 Colt and you aren't made of money, a reloading press may serve you well.

I took the old smokewagon out to my dad's farm for a thorough workout. I shot a bad-guy silhouette and didn't keep careful track of my groups. I will sit down and do a serious accuracy workout before I head back to college (I hope). I could make head shots from 35 yards when resting over the hood of my truck. From 25 yards or less and using a one-handed hold, the torso was an easy target. I shot a good number of "X"s once I got my grip figured out. I managed to pick off an unlucky sparrow from about 20 yards using a two-hand hold. I apologise again for not getting solid group sizes or doing any serious testing. It took about three cylinders of ammo to figure out that this gun requires a firm grip to keep the muzzle from diving when that massive hammer comes crashing down on the firing pin. Also, the trigger was a bit heavy. Very clean and crisp, but heavy. The revolver itself points very naturally and I think it is better used with a one-hand grip inside 25 yards. Provided you aren't trying to kill sparrows, that is.

The sights are big and blocky, which is nice because this revolver is capable of pretty amazing accuracy. My only complaint is that the front blade disappears in the glare of the sun. I'm heading out to the hobby shop to pick up some burnt orange paint for it. That should cure the glare and give me a clearer sight picture.

The trigger could use a little work, but is very capable right out of the box. I ordered a Wilson Combat reduced power spring kit to reduce the hammer's "nose dive" effect. Also, the checkering on the grips is a bit rough on your bare hands when it's cold out. With gloves on, the deep checkering really gives you some purchase on the grip. With bare hands and a 30mph crosswind on a 25 degree day, it is painful. No problem because I'm going to dress it up with some black pearlite grips from MidwayUSA.

On the tangible side of things, the Blackhawk is rugged, simple, accurate, and darn near cheap. I was out the door for $422 and change. Rugers are notorious for being overbuilt and tough. The Blackhawk takes that to the extreme. As proof, check out this article by the legendary John Linebaugh. I would feel perfectly comfortable with the Blackhawk at my side as a woods companion. Double action revolvers are faster to shoot, unload and reload. Semi-auto pistols are faster yet. However, as a hunting piece or an insurance policy while checking the back forty, a single action revolver chambered for a powerful cartridge will do just fine. It's also quite a bit of fun on the range.

Now for the intangibles. I love this revolver. It is slow to fire. It is slow to load. It is even slower to unload. But I don't care. It is just a hoot to fire. It has enough recoil to be fun, but without beating on you. It's easy to shoot accurately, and almost impossible for me to put down. I brought my M&P15 and three magazines with me to the range, but I just couldn't put the old single action revolver down! I fired off 48 rounds before I realized it. I was trying to pace myself and try to objectively measure the difference in recoil between the 200 grain SWCs and the 250 grain LRNFPs. I can't tell you because I was too busy enjoying myself while firing bullets the size of ashtrays into the forehead of my bad-guy silhouette. For a few minutes, I was the man who shot Liberty Valance. I was Rooster Cogburn. I was the Man with No Name. I was the Flatland Gun Nut, enjoying myself immensely.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Rant From the Gun Nut

Anyone else out there into single action revolvers? I just got the bug. Well, I got the bug a few years ago. I got the money recently. I'd like a Blackhawk in .45 Colt with a big, cheesy leather rig-- but not because I want to dress up like a cowboy and enter a contest under the pseudonym of "Buckshot Houghton". Single action revolvers look stupid in sleek, modern, plastic holsters. And here we find the source of my rant:

Why isn't there a club for normal folks who just enjoy shooting a single action revolver? I used to shoot IDPA matches as a teenager. I borrowed a Browning Hi-Power from a friend's mom, and held my own against fat old men with 1911s in .45ACP. Of course, I got beaten soundly by men who could've been my grandfather. Men who could reload a S&W 625 faster than I could reload my borrowed Hi-Power. I don't want to take a single action Blackhawk to an IDPA or IPSC revolver class match. There'd be no point. The scoring is based on speed and accuracy. Well, a Blackhawk is really only good at one of those. Reloading anything with a loading gate is next to impossible to do quickly. In short, all I could do is shoot "fun" class matches. My score would be utterly useless, and there'd be no competition.

I don't want to shoot my Blackhawk in competition THAT bad....

My other choice is no better: Dress up like a cowboy and get beaten by fat old men dressed like cowboys. The kind of men who won't listen to Roy Orbison because he's "too new wave-ish". If I'm going to be beaten in a pistol match (which is the most likely outcome), I'd rather not be wearing a silly costume while I get beat by a fat old man in an equally silly costume. Isn't there a club out there for people like me? Honest, hard-working young men who want to enjoy a simpler kind of shooting, not to mention some friendly competition--without playing dress up at the same time?

Before I receive literally a handful of irate e-mails from SASS members, please hear me out. Your pastime is just fine. Dressing up is not for me. If you enjoy it, by all means, go for it. I am only lamenting that SASS is the only club where a Blackhawk wouldn't get smoked by the competition. I want to compete, but I'd rather not dress up while I do so.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Self Defense on a Budget

The P89

I went out shooting with a friend of a friend who let me shoot his Ruger P89 9mm. What shocked me is that he claimed he bought it second hand for $250! After a little research, I found the darn things for just over $380 new. Ruger lists this particular model as "discontinued", but they can still be had new for cheap, and second hand for a song. Even better, they shoot straight and have a reputation for anvil-like reliability.

I've shot the P-90 .45ACP a few times, and put a number of rounds through the P98 9mm. Both were DA/SA triggers with a decocker safety. The DA pull was heavy, but smooth. Not bad, and certainly more than I expected in a "cheap" autoloader. The SA pull had a long take-up (like a two-stage trigger) but broke light and clean. Both were accurate. I shot the 9mm at 30 yards and kept all 10 rounds in about 6" standing unsupported. Pretty respectable, and I was clearly the limiting factor in the "test".

The KP345

So what? Well, Ruger pistols are built like tanks. Sure, they're a little clunky, and if you're tall and skinny like me, they're hard to conceal. However, if you want a defensive piece, or just a fun "full size" plinker but don't have much cash, you should look at the Ruger P-series. They can be had in 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45ACP. Even newer models like the KP345 can be had for about $450 new. No need to sacrifice quality to save money.

A lot of folks who are new to shooting tend to go cheap on their first purchase or two. Fine, if you're getting a range toy. Not fine if you're going to stake your life on it. I've been asked a lot lately what pistol a guy can get into for not much money. I can recommend the Ruger P-series with a clean conscience. If you're lookin' but strapped for cash, look no further.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shooting the Mosin Nagant 91/30

Some of you may recall that I picked up an Izhevsk arsenal Mosin Nagant 91/30. Well, I had a chance to put some Bulgarian surplus ammo through it a couple of weekends ago, and with good effect. Quite good, in fact.

I hung up a target on that tree and fired from 50 yards. Mostly from standing, a few prone, and a few kneeling. My wife also shot it and enjoyed it. 31 rounds later, the tree gave in. Fun Fact: those Bulgarian steel core rounds will penetrate an awful lot without destabilizing (steel doesn't expand like lead will. It only changes shape if hit by something awfully hard.)

I picked up a few pointers about handling the rifle and made some useful observations.
First, it takes about twenty rounds fired quickly to heat this thing up. And it gets HOT. However, if you leave the bolt open and set it aside for about five minutes, it's cool enough to shoot again.

Second, It takes a heavy hand to manipulate the bolt. Mine was a little sticky because there was some cosmoline in the chamber, but I've since cleaned most of it out. Even when clean, it takes a distinct effort to operate the bolt. Don't be afraid to do so.

Third, this thing is really easy to use with big, bulky gloves on. It gets cold in Russia, and the designers obviously had that in mind when they made it. The controls are big and clunky. Not a good recipe for a precision rifle, but plenty for a deer-snuffer or defeating the NAZIs.

The Mosin-Nagant was built to last, period. It is not as refined as a contemporary Mauser, and can't hold a candle to modern bolt actions for accuracy and slickness of the action. However, my rifle is 64 years old and works fine. I'd guess that in 64 more years it will still work fine. It is nothing but wood, iron, and testosterone.

To tell a dirty little secret, this is the most fun gun I own. And I have a lot of cool stuff. Part of it is that this rifle cost $107 after tax. 770 rounds bought online cost me about $120 shipped to my door. It is a medium bore rifle that I can afford to shoot!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

M&P 9 Compact: Micro-Ergonomics

I picked up an M&P 9 Compact a couple of days ago as a carry piece. I am still waiting to take the class, but figured I might as well be familiar with my carry piece by the time I get to qualify.

Here are the specs as they appear on S&W's website:

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 12+1
Barrel Length: 3.5"
Front Sight: Steel Ramp Dovetail Mount (Tritium Sights Optional)
Rear Sight: Steel Novak® Lo-Mount Carry (Tritium Sights Optional)
Trigger Pull: 6.5 lbs.
Trigger Travel: Rest to Fire .300 in.
Trigger Reset: Approx. .140 in.
Frame: Compact
Finish: Slide and Barrel Black Melonite®, 68 HRc
Overall Length: 6.7"
Material: Zytel Polymer Frame, Stainless Steel Barrel/Slide and Structural Components
Weight Empty (No Mag): 21.7 oz.
Overall Height: 4.3"
Width: 1.2"

I put 100 rounds of Winchester White Box 115gr FMJ's through it today. No hiccups at all, and I didn't expect any from shooting just 100 rounds. The pistol came with two 12 round magazines-one has a finger rest, and the other has a flat bottom which requires me to curl my pinky underneath. My wife's hand fits fine with the flat-bottomed magazine. The grip feels terribly good, especially for such a small pistol.

The sights are a three-dot setup, with the front blade nice and narrow. The dot up front is noticably smaller than the other two, and I like it. I prefer Glock's "ball-in-a-bucket" sights, but the S&W's are fine. We only shot 7 to 15 yards, so my accuracy tests aren't exactly strenuous. Either way, my wife put the whole magazine in a 2.5 inch group from 10 yards. I shot a little worse. Sorry, no pictures today, but I promise I will put one up when I out shoot the wife. (Actually, I left my camera home and trashed the targets before I could take pictures.) In any case, this little pistol will shoot better groups than I can. It is VERY accurate and surprisingly easy to control. Micro-pistols can be obnoxious, but this one is very dossile and pleasant to shoot.

A friend had the service sized M&P 9mm at the range today. The difference in accuracy from 7-15 yards was negligable. If we chucked both up in a Ransom rest, I bet we wouldn't see a difference until 25 yards. Both pistols fit together very tightly, and were very, very nice to shoot. Truth be told, it would be very hard for me to buy a Glock over an M&P--and I love my Glock 17. The M&P's are just generally "nicer".

The only downside to this pistol is that it is hard to disassemble. Inside, it looks a lot like an XD, but the trigger is nicer. The trigger pull is a little heavy, but I bet it smooths out with some use. It breaks cleanly and is still easy to shoot. Also, while this is a small pistol, it is a little too big for pocket carry. However, it is ideal for inside-the-waistband carry. The M&P compact is very easy to conceal.

The bottom line: if you want a compact pistol, look no further than the M&P 9C.

*Note: For those of you stalwarts who refuse to carry a 9mm, the M&P compact also comes in 40 S&W.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I Carry A Gun

I don't carry a gun to kill people.
I carry a gun to keep from being killed.

I don't carry a gun to scare people.
I carry a gun because sometimes this world can be a scary place.

I don't carry a gun because I'm paranoid.
I carry a gun because there are real threats in the world.

I don't carry a gun because I'm evil.
I carry a gun because I have lived long enough to see the evil in the world.

I don't carry a gun because I hate the government.
I carry a gun because I understand the limitations of government.

I don't carry a gun because I'm angry.
I carry a gun so that I don't have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.

I don't carry a gun because I want to shoot someone.
I carry a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.

I don't carry a gun because I'm a cowboy.
I carry a gun because, when I die and go to heaven, I want to be a

I don't carry a gun to make me feel like a man.
I carry a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.

I don't carry a gun because I feel inadequate.
I carry a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate.

I don't carry a gun because I love it.
I carry a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.

Police Protection is an oxymoron. Free citizens must protect themselves.
Police do not protect you from crime, they usually just investigate the crime after it happens and then call someone in to clean up the mess. unknown (but obviously brilliant)


I didn't write this. I stole it from personal favorite gun talk board.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mosin-Nagant 91/30: Seventy-Eight Years Of Oppression

click "Play" and listen while you read, to enhance your FGN experience

After weeks of research, and begging my soon-to-be wife for the green light, I bought a Mosin Nagant 91/30 at a surplus store. I got the rifle and field kit (sling, bayonet, ammo pouches, oil bottle, Nagant multi-tool, cleaning kit, and muzzle cap) for $99. A 440 round ammo tin (looks like a tuna can, but much larger) from Russia with love, costs about the same as the rifle. It is 48.5" long, and weighs about eight pounds. The trigger pull is awful--very long, sloppy, and on the heavy side, but it can be compensated for with practice. The rifle itself is only capable of maybe 6MOA accuracy--that is, it should shoot about a 6" group at 100 yards in ideal conditions. They can be altered to squeeze a bit more accuracy out of them, but not enough to justify premanently altering a piece of history.

The story here is not my Mosin-Nagant, but a history of this famous (and infamous) battle rifle. The very design of the rifle is virtually unchanged since 1891, when it was a 51.5" long "dragoon" rifle chambered for the ancient 7.62x54R. The 7.62x54R has comparable power to a 30-06, and thus comparable recoil--which is not for the faint of heart. Military "ball" style ammo should not be used for hunting, but modern hunting rounds for the 91/30 (and its brethren) care quite capable of killing virtually anything in North America.

The Mosin Nagant has many variants, but most only vary in length and country of origin (so minor cosmetic changes are common). Some commonly seen variants are the M28, and M44, which are simply shorter versions of the M91/30. What they all have in common is brutal reliability, brutal power, and a brutal history. It's parent model--the M1891 Dragoon was used by both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eventually it was "modernized" into the M91/30, then the M28, then the M44 and others. The Mosin-Nagant fought Germany twice, and has sufaced in conflicts around the world ever since. It made numerous appearances in Korea, and Vietnam, even holding on to be a thorn in the side of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. One hundred and ten years after its invention, the Mosin Nagant rifle is just as deadly, and will likely be with us for another hundred and ten years.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Fallacy of "One shot, one kill"

If you've read any gun forums, or read a gun magazine in the last 50 years, you've heard the arguments that will go on into eternity: .45ACP vs 9mm, 7.62x39mm vs. 5.56x45mm, Full Metal Jacket vs. Hollow Point, etc. While there is some validity to arguing the point of "which is more powerful" or "which delivers more energy to the target", most of the arguments are based on the "one shot, one kill" fallacy.

In a perfect world, warfighters, cops, and law abiding citizens would be able to shoot a bad guy one time and have him stop, literally dead in his tracks. In reality, unless the bad guy is shot squarely in the brain, he is not automatically out of the fight. Another problem with "one shot, one kill" is that most people, when threatened with death or grievous bodily injury, will panic to some extent and keep pulling the trigger until the target stops (which is the right thing to do, in my opinion). In fact, I have read some doctrine (with which I agree) says to fire controlled pairs until the target stops. That means pop-pop, assess situation, repeat as necessary. I haven't seen first hand, nor heard about a gunfight that was ended by a single shot.

Now this is not to ignore differences in kinetic energy delivered by different rounds. Obviously, a .22LR will not be as likely to end a fight as, say a 10mm. Nor is this to negate the differences in wound channels caused by hollow points, versus the wound channels of full metal jacket rounds. Yes, accuracy is key. However, you should not go into harm's way with the mentality that a single bullet is going to end any given fight. That doesn't mean "spray and pray", it means you should be prepared to hit a target multiple times, regardless of the caliber of your weapon. Just because you put a hole in a bad guy with your STG-58 chambered for 7.62x51mm, doesn't mean he is automatically down for the count. Just because you put a BIG hole in a bad guy with your 1911A1 chambered in .45ACP doesn't mean he is going to stop.

The point of all this rambling is that the caliber of your weapon, and the type of bullet fired is not as important as the mentality (and level of training) of the firer. Don't let someone talk you out of carrying a pistol chambered in 9mm, or buying an AR-15 in .223REM because there is some magic gun out there with a bigger bore, or more kinetic energy. Keep in mind that for a lot of years, people defended their lives quite successfully with .36 caliber black powder revolvers with roughly the same muzzle energy as a .380ACP. Even a dinky little .22LR can kill a human. It is not terribly productive to pick a firearm just because it is supposed to kill with a single round.

So, when you're on the range, don't just practice firing one single round that is carefully aimed. Instead, practice drawing, acquiring the target, putting the sights on center of mass, and firing two or three rounds in a controlled fashion. Get a good sight picture, but don't wait for a perfect one. Remember, that target can close 21 feet in a little over one second. The closer you are to the target, the faster those rounds need to get into the target. Aim, but don't treat it like a bulls-eye match.

One shot, one kill is a great idea, but ultimately an unlikely scenario. Sure, work on your accuracy. When training for self defense or tactical situations, change it up and fire odd numbers of rounds into the target. Don't get your muscle memory used to firing only one round to stop a threat. Be ready to do what you have to do to stay alive. Even if that means not being like Mark Wahlberg.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FAR Too Much Fun At The Range

First off, I am on the camera, and my friend (The Doctor) is shooting. Don't try this at home. This was done on a closed range, and we took extra care to shoot this way. It is not at all accurate and was done for fun. Don't try this at home. We have years of military experience to protect us (not that you could tell from watching this). DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.....EVER.

A Blast From The Past

This show is probably why I joined the Army. I love it when a plan comes together.

Hannibal Smith for President!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Much Fun At The Range

My friend and I found some cheap cantaloupes at Wally World the night before we went to the range. Long story short, .223 beats melon every time.

Here's the offending rifle:

Be safe!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Magpul: Genius At Work

Such a weapon would make a great emergency kit item for downed airmen. More accurate than a standard pistol because of the stock and the 33 round magazine lets the firer stay in the fight longer. Really, bodyguards, SF, or "covert" agencies would probably find a lot of uses for such a compact weapon. Home defense is another great application, but this would be classified as a "Short Barreled Rifle" and be illegal in more than a handful of states. It would also require the purchaser to get a special tax stamp, and comply with all local laws. I sure would love one though!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh, To Dream....

It's true, I have a lot of cool toys. In fact, I just finished a grueling two-year 1911 build-up based on a Springfield GI 1911. (Long story short, just buy the trim level you want and save the time of doing it yourself.) Lately, however, my heart has been lusting after cowboy guns. There's just something cool about big-bore single action revolvers, and lever-action rifles. I'm planning on getting one of each, chambered in the venerable .45 Colt (aka .45 Long Colt). My choice for a revolver is the mighty Ruger Blackhawk (with 5.5" barrel), and for a rifle, the classic Marlin 1894. Heck, I might even get one of those cheesy leather cartridge belts and a ten gallon hat.

Why .45 Colt? Well, quite simply, it is cheap and easy to reload. Also, it can be loaded down for plinking, or stuffed full of powder and tiptoe into .44 magnum territory. I plan on loading rounds that are just a little stiffer than factory ammo, so I can use them in the pistol and the rifle. I say this because master gunsmiths like John Linebaugh have shown that Ruger Blackhawks can take absurd levels of pressure-- levels that would reduce most wheelguns to shrapnel. NOTE: I AM NOT ADVOCATING EXCEEDING RECCOMMENDED LOAD DATA. RELOAD AT YOUR OWN RISK. ALWAYS FOLLOW MANUFACTURER AND LOAD DATA PUBLISHER DIRECTIONS. Loading .45Colt rounds into the stratosphere of load data may cause damage to mechanisms like those found in lever action rifles. Therefore, I'm going to keep my loads in the realm of the reasonable.

The Ruger New Model Blackhawk is available in any flavor you like. Go to to see the full menu. The one I'm after is the one pictured above. I may put either rosewood or fake pearl grips on it. Either way, the Blackhawk is a tried-and-true, rock solid platform. The thought of holding one while a 200 grain lead flat nose bullet downrange at 1000 feet per second makes me smile. Aside from being built to withstand a nuclear holocaust, the Blackhawk isn't too hard on the eyes.

Now for the rifle; the Marlin 1894. This rifle is also available in .357mag, and .44 mag. It is relatively lightweight at 6.5lbs, and fairly short at 37.5" end to end (An M-4 is 35" with the stock fully extended). It has an octagon barrel, and buckhorn sights. It is simple to use, and holds 10 rounds of .45 colt. It makes for a handy "walkin' around gun". The combination of the two should keep two and four-legged pests at bay at most practical ranges. Without loading .45colt into silly levels of pressure, the rifle is only really useful out to maybe 200 yards tops. Plan on keeping most shots inside the 150 yard mark.

So why do I want these guns? My Glock 17 and M&P 15 will do pretty much the same thing, and do it faster and at longer ranges. Well, sometimes a guy just wants to be John Wayne for a few hours. Sometimes I don't feel like dragging around a 12 pound rifle with a 3 pound scope and a pistol that holds 33 9mm rounds. Sometimes you just need to shoot a gun with a bore you can roll a marble down. No, I don't really need more guns, but these two sure would be fun.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Love Me

The last remnants of a fly at 25 yards, courtesy of my Savage MkII.

I was once again at my favorite shooting grounds, putting a few rounds through my .22LR Savage MkII rifle. My shooting buddy and I were taking turns putting up 10 round groups at 25 yards; he with his Remington 597, and me with the trusty Savage MkII. About five rounds into my string, a fly landed at the top of my target. I quickly chambered another Federal Champion 40 grain bullet, and took aim. I never thought I would connect, but I went through the motions: Breathe, release, aim, squeeze....bang! The fly exploded all over my target! I quickly placed my rifle on "safe", removed the magazine, and called the "range" clear so my buddy and I could go inspect my target. I sprinted downrange, spotting the blood splatter.

Same target as shown before; this is as close as my Nikon point-and-shoot will get with decent resolution.

I could not have been any prouder of my self than at that moment, or so I thought. We returned to the firing line, and I reloaded to finish my 10 round string. Just as I flipped my selector to "fire", another fly landed on the shoulder of my buddy's IPSC silhouette target. Pushing my luck, I lined up and started my routine; breathe, release, aim, squeeze....bang! Fly guts dotted the left shoulder of his target. I know, I know, I don't have any pictures posted of the second fly. I will get them if I can find that silhouette again. Or I'll just go shoot another fly.

Aside from my ego-massaging, the point is that once again, my $149 Savage bolt action rifle has proven to be far more than I paid for. Another point is that, with practice, you can also attain this level of marksmanship. Granted, I have been shooting since age 8, and I have been trained by the Army. However, everything I have been taught is available through friends, the internet, books, and good old fashioned practice.

Happy shooting!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gear Review: Surefire Sonic Defenders Earplugs

I lost a lot of hearing in the war. Earplugs are usually uncomfortable, and make communication with your team nearly impossible. Because of this, a lot of troops don't wear them as much as they should. Communication in combat is crucial. If you can't hear your team, then you don't know what is going on, and confusion kills. Unfortunately, you can't call "time out" in combat so you can put your earplugs in. In the very near past, the choice was either save your hearing, or communicate with and understand your team. Surefire has a solution.

I picked up a pair of Sonic Defenders from my favorite gun stuff site recently. I went shooting with a buddy of mine and gave the Defenders a workout. I shot a shorty 20ga. shotgun, my 1911A1, and a Taurus PT1911 for a total of about a hundred rounds. First of all, the Defenders use no batteries, and don't weigh any more than traditional reusable plugs. In addition, you can convert them to standard ear plugs by inserting a removable stopper into the hole that allows you to hear. I put them in and noticed that they did muffle wind noise, and a little bit of "normal" sounds. However, they allowed me to engage comfortably in conversation with my friend, and even use my cell phone with them in. In fact, I could still hear so well that I cringed at the thought of our two pistols barking at the same time. As we walked to the "range" (a desolate area of my friend's property), I noticed that the Surefire plugs were very comfortable, and didn't slip out of place. I had just about forgotten I was wearing them as my friend pulled up his shotgun and shot twice. The Surefire plugs muffled the noise to a very comfortable level. This is a product that does what it claims to do. I give them the FGN Seal of Approval.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Savage 10FP HS Precision: 1/2 MOA

Splotchy, basic cammo designs blend in just about everywhere- even in the urban jungle.

It was a calm evening, about 8:30 p.m., and I was packing up to leave my favorite shooting grounds. I left my Savage 10FP, chambered in .308Win, pointed downrange with a plastic ammo box lying open nearby. Three rounds remained of the eighteen I had brought for testing. A flock of starlings swirled around some trees at about the hundred yard mark. My shooting buddy bet I couldn't hit one at that range, and being a competitive type, I took him up on it. One unlucky bird landed on a low branch. (Relax, the trees were well below the top of the hill at the 200 yard mark.) I sprinted ten yards over to the rifle, put a single round into the magazine, and closed the bolt on a handloaded 168 grain Nosler Competition HPBT. I watched the bird bob and weave on his branch, happily unaware of his fate. The bird turned broadside (if a starling has a broadside), and I squeezed the trigger. A puff of IMR 4064 flashed across the bottom third of my scope, and the crosshairs settled to reveal the bird falling from the tree, dead as a hammer.

Earlier in the evening, my shooting buddy and I both turned in sub-MOA groups with my 168gr HPBT handloads. In fact, the worst group of the outing was just over 1.10" according to my electronic calipers. I was testing two different loads for accuracy, and found my pet load for now. All of my groups for the evening measured .49"-.64". Not bad for a former machinegunner.

Yes, that's a dime in the middle. Holes with check marks were my alternate load; hotter, but less accurate.

This rifle will shoot big bullets in small groups, but what about ergonomics? Well, It fits me like a glove. This is the HS Precision stock, available as a factory option. It costs about $860, while a Model 10FP standard is about $580. In my estimation, it is worth every penny. The stock has a wide, flat forearm that is comfortable for offhand shots, and handy for shooting over sandbags/obstacles/etc. It also comes with three swivel studs- a brilliant move by Savage. One stud is for your bipod, and the other two for your sling. The stock has a coarse, porous finish that really soaks up a good paint job. My favorite feature is the generous recoil pad. It really soaks up recoil, and is sticky so it doesn't shift around on your shoulder.

The bolt action is smooth, but not the best I've felt. Sako has it beat by a mile, but it also cost about twice as much. After an injection of Wilson Combat gun grease, things smoothed right up. The bolt itself has an oversize bolt knob, and a relatively short throw. The business end has four massive lugs that lock up tightly and positively. The action is fed by a four round detachable box magazine. I usually leave the mag locked in place and feed it from the top like an old Remmington 700. The mag aids in clearing the weapon, but really isn't a "must have" in a weapon like this. Still, it isn't a detriment either. Oh, and before I forget, the barrel is free floated and the action is bedded with aluminum pillars.

The Accutrigger on the "law enforcement" series is something of legend. It adjusts down to 1.5lbs, or up to 6lbs. It has no creep or overtravel and breaks like the proverbial glass rod. There's no reason to "upgrade" the trigger in this rifle.

All in all, the 10FP HS Precision is brilliantly designed, and a bargain to boot! There aren't too many out-of-the-box sniper rifles in this price range. Actually, there aren't any. Mine is kitted out with a Millett 4-16x 50mm scope, B-square one-piece base, Warne permanent rings, and a Harris 6-9" bipod. All in all around $1200. Out of the box 1/2 MOA. What more can I say?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

M&P15 User Review

I was in the market for an M-4 clone (or AR-15 carbine, as it is known in the civilian world), and at the top of my list was Bushmaster, Armalite, and Rock River Arms. I had used both the Bushmaster and RRA carbines, and was impressed with both. However, my favorite gun store didn't have RRA in stock (the cheapest of the three makers), they were sold out of Armalites and the Bushmaster had a price tag well over $1,000. The kind salesman pointed out that there was a fresh shipment of Smith & Wesson M&P15's. S&W makes the M&P15 in several configurations: a fixed carry handle A2 style, A3 detachable carry handle, and a flat top with front and rear flip-up sights and a quad rail handguard, just to name a few.

I selected the A3 model, as it has the utility of the picatinny rail, and the lightweight carbine length handguards. This makes for a lightweight package with nearly endless optics possibilities. It came in just under a thousand dollars. The M&P15 came with a padded hard case and a 30 round magazine. The case is okay, and the magazine seems to be very high quality.

I've had the little carbine out to the range a few times and put about 200 rounds through it. I've used Wolf ammunition, both 55 grain and 62 grain full metal jacket. The M&P chowed down on both quite happily. I have yet to sit down and to a serious accuracy test, but I have done a number of 25 yard zero and cqb "double tap" drills. I have also shot a few 100 yard groups kneeling and standing unsupported. I put up about a 6 inch group kneeling, and about a 12 inch group from standing. I'm guessing a prone supported group would come in at about 2 inches, maybe a little more. Add some match grade ammo and that might shrink down toward 1 inch.

Fit and finish are what you would expect from Smith & Wesson. The stock has a little bit of wobble to it, but so does every M-4 I've ever shot. The only collapsable stock I've used that didn't wobble was a VLTOR Clubfoot. In addition, the trigger is about what you would expect from a military rifle. It is a little gritty, and trips at about 7lbs. It breaks very cleanly, but could be better. Rock River's two stage trigger is among the best factory AR triggers.

All in all, the M&P is a very nice M4 clone. It is just a shade cheaper than Armalite and Bushmaster, and is just as high quality.

The M&P15 after a few minor changes:
Millett DMS-1, , Weaver picatinny riser, and Falcon Industries ergo grip.

Monday, June 30, 2008

.22 Talk, Or Everything You Didn't Want To Know About .22LR

Since I'm a broke college student, I mainly shoot my .22LR pistol and rifle. Sure, I have the "Fat Man and Little Boy" pairing of the 10Fp .308Win and Mk.II .22LR; and .45ACP 1911A1, as well as a Ciener .22LR slide. Shooting .22LR isn't the same, but it saves HUGE amounts of money, and still sharpens basic skills. In addition, the .22LR has virtually no felt recoil, so you don't develop a flinch while shooting. The following is an incoherent rambling of things I've picked up about .22LR practice sessions:

First of all, .22s have a lot more grunt than you might think. A month or so ago I killed a starling at roughly 120 yards with a single round of Federal Champion 40gr lead round nose. I have started regularly practicing at 100 yards and beyond with the rifle shown above. The plain jane 4x scope is about the be replaced by one with target style adjustment turrets so I can practice adjusting for elevation and wind with more than just hold-over or hold-off. While I don't recommend shooting small game at ranges over 100 yards, the .22 is lethal at those distances. I've heard tales of old men shooting two liter bottles at 200 yards with custom made .22LR's. What's the point? You can get a lot of quality training/practice out of a .22LR. This can save you money or time at the reloading bench.

I bought a Ciener .22LR slide for my 1911A1 in May. I've put about 1000 rounds through it so far, and I love it. It works flawlessly (or nearly so) on my Springfield Armory 1911 frame. I use the .22 slide for all of my practice. My double taps have become infinitely more fast and accurate. Best of all, because it is the same pistol, I am just as fast and accurate with the .45 slide. God knows how much money I have saved by shooting .22LR instead of .45ACP.

A word on ammunition

I have used a wide variety of ammo, and can tell you that there is indeed a difference. If you are looking to get the most accuracy out of your rifle, use the same type of ammo every time. I shoot Federal Champion high-velocity 40 grain lead round nose. It feeds well in my rifle, and is very accurate. I have also used CCI 40 grain standard velocity with great effect. American Eagle 32 grain plated hollow point high velocity is a close third place.

I consider "Hyper Velocity" and "Subsonic" rounds to be oddballs. Both tend to be very expensive comparatively, and not a lot more useful than cheaper loadings. I have used CCI Velocitor, and keep some on hand for big, particularly nasty critters like possums or coyotes at uncomfortably close range. Velocitors are very accurate and should pack a decent punch, according to my muzzle energy calculations (Velocity squared x bullet weight /450436).

I also tried some Remington Subsonic rounds, and found out a lot about the sound barrier. A lot of widely available SS rounds fly at about 1050fps. This is only subsonic at certain altitudes and temperatures. They are not much quieter than standard rounds. The "advantage" is that subsonic rounds never cross trans-sonic turbulence, hence, they are said to be more accurate and are popular at matches. If you are looking for a quieter round, use.22 CB Long. It shoots a 27 grain bullet at 710 feet per second. They are nearly silent (quieter than my 1000fps BB gun), and have a very short effective range. I would not hunt with them, and they drop FAST past 15 yards. This load is great for teaching new shooters. The lack of recoil and noise builds confidence and reduces flinching or jitters.


If you're looking for a way to polish up your shooting skills, why not go with a .22LR? Pick a rifle or handgun that mirrors your full size rig, and shoot more! Shooting with a .22LR will improve all your basic skills; and in shooting there are no advanced skills, merely advanced applications of basic skills.

Welcome to the Flatland Gun Nut!

This blog was set up for me to "publish" some of my rantings about firearms, training, tactics, and gear reviews. I love shooting sports, and part of my writing will try to better inform my audience about safe handling techniques, and cut through the liberal garbage about guns being the devil. In my travels (which have taken me from the Midwest to the Middle East), it seems that the most adamantly anti-gun people have no idea how a gun works, or how to safely handle one.

As for me, I am an infantryman in the National Guard in the Midwest. I have done a tour in Afghanistan and am looking forward to serving my country again. I have been in ground combat, and earned my Combat Infantry Badge.I have been a gunner on a Mk.-19 grenade machinegun, M240B medium machinegun, AT-4 light anti-tank rocket, M16 series rifle, M203 grenade launcher, ...etc....etc. I am also a Junior in college (granted, I'm older than most students, but not that old) majoring in Criminal Justice. I spent my formative years studying ballistics, reading up on foreign weapons, hunting, and spending many happy hours shooting targets on my range on the family farm. I don't have an extensive arsenal, but a few years ago, I was qualified on almost every small-arm in the U.S. inventory. Right now, I am awaiting the arrival of a Lee Anniversary Kit reloading press so I can start reloading for my Savage 10FP HS Precision. (expect some gear reviews including Millett scopes, Savage accutrigger rifles, and Harris bipods.) Oh, and I also occasionally write for when I can find my thesaurus.

I don't take myself too seriously, but I pledge to keep all my reviews as unbiased as possible, and I will not joke about weapons handling techniques because I don't want to confuse people who seek advice, nor do I want to write anything that can be used by the leftist media or their affiliates to try and take away 2nd Amendment rights, or make gun owners look bad.

Thanks for reading my rantings!