Thursday, February 26, 2009

Puma 92 First Impressions

I took possession of my Puma 92 carbine on the 24th of February, and have spent the past few days getting it ready for a good breaking in. First of all, I ordered from Bud's Gun Shop on the 16th of the month. My rifle is chambered in .45 Colt ("Long Colt") with a 16" round barrel (the new ones all have octagon barrels), standard lever loop, and 8 round tube magazine. It ran me $425 shipped with insurance. The transfer cost me another $25, so in total $450. I had my heart set on a comparable Marlin 92, but the cheapest one of the "cowboy" line costs $675. After looking for reviews online, I found out that the Puma 92 has less fit and finish, but for $225 less, I'll take it.

This thing came COVERED in what appeared to be cosmoline--I mean real, soviet bloc cosmoline. I was able to remove it with a rag and some CLP, and it left the signature rust-brown residue on the rag and a number of paper towels. Upon inspection, the action appears to have lots of tool marks all over it. It actually works pretty smooth since I loaded the action with lithium grease. The wood on the gun looks like walnut, it might not be, but it looks like it and feels very solid. The bluing on the outside of the reciever and barrel is very deep and looks fantastic. The Puma 92 has a thumb safety on top of the bolt near the locking lugs. It simply blocks the free floating firing pin from moving. The jury is still out on whether or not this is a useful feature since the hammer still has a safety notch that has been a proven mechanism for 117 years. And while I'm on the mechanical function, the trigger is nice. It has no creep or over travel and breaks at what my finger says is 4 or 5 pounds.

The most impressive feature of this carbine is its size. This thing is about the size of a Red Rider BB gun. It is positively tiny. It shoulders very well and is lightweight (6lbs) and balanced very well--which makes it seem even lighter. The listed over-all length is 34 3/8", which is just shorter than an M4 with the stock fully extended. This thing could be a very handy truck gun.

It still hasn't been to the range yet, so keep your eyes peeled for a review next week. I promise I'll put pictures in the review, not just a video of Clint Eastwood.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just Shoot Me....

Picture stolen from:

Last October I bought a surplus German flak vest from Cheaper Than Dirt for about $50 + shipping. I got it to wear under my tac vest that I wear for service in the Guard so I could practice shooting with all that bulk on (like I will be in the real world). It isn't very heavy, and it is surprisingly comfortable to wear.

So I was at my friend's range the other day with all my gear on and pondered whether or not this vest still had any protective value at all. All the kevlar panels are marked "1987", and back then this vest carried an NIJ Class IIA rating. That means it will stop most pistol rounds, most shotgun rounds, and NO rifle ammunition. It is mainly meant to keep shrapnel out of your torso, but would concievably have some protective value against firearms. Cheaper Than Dirt remarks that this vest should not be treated as bulletproof, and I agree. But After a quick (highly un-scientific) "test" I would be quick to point out that it does offer some protection.

I TOOK THE VEST OFF and put it on an old tree stump for testing. Do I really have to tell you not to wear this thing while you test it by firing live rounds at it? I will anyway. DO NOT SHOOT YOURSELF OR HAVE SOMEONE ELSE SHOOT YOU WITH THIS VEST ON!!! EVER!!!!

Okay, so James shot the vest with his Steyr M9A1 9mm pistol using 115gr FMJ ammunition from about six feet away. The round DID NOT penetrate the kevlar, but it did tear the inside flap of nylon and boogered up the stump. It stopped, but boy would it have hurt! I'm guessing you may have cracked or broken ribs after this, but you would not have a hole through you. Better than the alternative I guess.

I then stepped back to about six feet and fired one Federal Bulk .22lr copper plated hollow point from my 1911A1 conversion. It DID NOT penetrate, and left no mark except the hole through the front. This probably would have hurt as well, but would likely just be a nasty bruise.

James then let me fire a 12ga 2 3/4" 12 pellet buckshot from about 10 yards (enough to get a pattern going). 10 of 12 pellets hit in a roughly 8" circle centered below where my right pectoral muscle would be. Though they did not rip the inside nylon, they did remove bark from the tree. This would certainly be broken bones and severe bruising. You would likely require urgent medical attention, but again you would have a very high chance of survival with a full recovery.

I did not test any rifle rounds, but this vest was never intended to stop rifle rounds. That and I didn't have any centerfire rifles with me at the time, but they would have shredded it without a problem.


Cheaper Than Dirt no longer carries this vest, but and both carry it. It goes for $70-100 depending on availability and condition. It is no longer considered a bullet proof vest, and should indeed not be used as such. Kevlar degrades over time. Hard use and improper care also reduce the protective qualities of kevlar. These vests are old, and they're surplus. Don't count on one to save your life.

However, I do think they are cheap insurance. If you shoot steel targets, one of these would probably save you from any splatter that might come back. Also, if you wear a vest for work, and need practice shooting in one, this isn't a bad way to go. It's a bit expensive for a training aid, but it does have some protective value. If you can afford a class IV A vest with plates, by all means buy one and use it. For those of you without $2000 to drop, this isn't a terrible option.

EDIT: Cheaper Than Dirt now has some surplus Czech Class IV vests with plates for $700 + shipping. Not a bad deal if they're legit and you can spare the cash.

Monday, February 2, 2009

CMMG+Black Dog Machine= Awesome

M&P 15 with CMMG .22 LR kit installed; Black Dog Machine 26rd magazine holds the bolt open on empty.

I purchased a CMMG .22LR conversion kit from Black Dog Machine about two weeks ago, and got it four days later. The day it came in, I took it out to the range and I proceeded to run about 500 rounds of various kinds of hi-velocity ammunition through it. My friend and I went to remove the kit so we could put it in his DPMS Sportical for a bit. But it wouldn't budge. I've used these kits before, and never had a hard time removing them. Well, a broken Bic pen and some sore fingers later, James noticed that the chamber sleeve was cracked all the way from the "case mouth" to the actual .22lr chamber. After a thorough cleaning, it was evident that no harm was done to my M&P, and the rest of the .22lr kit was in perfect working order. In fact, we really couldn't tell anything had gone wrong at the range. After some Google-fu, I found out that early CMMG kits had this problem. I also found out that CMMG was exceedingly good about replacing broken parts.

The CMMG kit. The front bit that looks like an empty .223 case was the bit that cracked. The new one has worked fine so far.

That night I emailed CMMG about the problem, and promptly got a reply saying replacement parts were on the way. Another couple of days and my replacement part was in, and installed in a matter of seconds. The next day James and I ventured back to the range.

Over the course of the day, I fed my CMMG kit about 1100 rounds of Federal .22lr. The first 500 were Federal Champion hi-velocity 40 grain lead round nose. There were about 120 rounds of American Eagle (Federal) 36 grain hi-velocity plated hollow point. Then another 550 rounds of Federal bulk pack (the cheap stuff). I had two failures to extract, and both occurred after several hundred rounds were fired.

I shot ten rounds for a group at just under 50 yards, standing unsupported. I put all ten into a two inch square. They lined up pretty well horizontally, but I strung them out vertically--mostly thanks to my fading eyesight and lack of breath control. I'll try to post a target later. And I'll try to shoot a decent group. I was able to pick off empty shotgun shells at 35 yards or so once I got warmed up.

My CMMG kit is fed by two Black Dog Machine full-size magazines which hold 26 rounds. Black Dog also sells a skinny body magazine. The full size one fits AR15 mag pouches, so I opted for those. The full body magazine costs $35 and the skinny body one is $30. sells the full size ones for $29.99. Both of my magazines were hard to load the first time. However, I loaded them and let them sit overnight. After that, they load nice and smooth, and function quite reliably. I haven't had any trouble out of either of them, and don't anticipate any. Kudos to Black Dog Machine.

Long story short, if you want a great way to train without breaking the bank, this is a great way to go. The kit itself comes with a 26rd BDM magazine if you live in a free state. Otherwise you get a 10rd version. I bought my kit for about $200 after shipping costs. I got the second magazine from Consider that right now, 1000rds of Wolf steel case ammo is more than $240. The same amount of Federal Bulk .22LR costs about $27. If you shoot an AR at all, this kit will save you money in the long run.

Because this kit occupies the body of your AR15, training with .22LR is 99% the same as training with the much more expensive 5.56x45 or .223 ammunition. The ONLY control that doesn't function with this kit is the bolt release. Though the bolt does lock open on empty, it holds open on the magazine follower itself. Also, my zero with .223 was different than that of the .22LR. That's fine because I use my Millett DMS-1 for .223 and my irons for .22LR. Keep that in mind if you plan to train with your current optics. Another option is to just write down the difference in zero so you can quickly adjust from one round to the other.

As ammunition prices continue to rise, the CMMG conversion kit is a great way to keep shooting.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


They better do it right! No namby pamby NATO/U.N. forces crap.