Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ruger Precision Rifle .223/5.56 Nato RPR Review

Ruger Precision Rifle .223/5.56 Nato RPR Review

Ruger shocked and stunned everyone when they introduced the Ruger Precision Rifle dubbed RPR for short. It was a rifle that featured loaded top end upgrades all in a rifle that can actually print tiny groups and retails for around $1500 on the street… and now they offer this great gun in .223/5.56 NATO and it can freaking shoot.

The Ruger Precision Rifle is competition killer in the factory precision rifle market from a number of perspectives. It includes everything you could possibly want on a custom target rifle and if you do want to upgrade the design the grip, buttstock, forend and selector are all AR15 compatible items. Swapping out triggers is easy as well and rebarreling to one of the many aftermarket options only requires a barrel block and some leverage.

It is all included - billet precision chassis, fully adjustable buttstock, folding stock adapter, AR compatible safety, outstanding factory trigger, tri-lug style bolt, free floated AR15 compatible forend, and AICS compatible box fed magazine. Ruger offered the RPR in .308 and .243 (now discontinued), but they have also kept up with the competitive precision shooting markets demand for 6.5mm Creedmore and 6mm Creedmore. Now of course Ruger has the RPR in the insanely cheap to shoot .223/5.56 Nato chambering.

Bushnell ERS First Focal Plane
Optic is the perfect optic to take
advantage of the
accuracy potential of this rifle
Sure the .308, .243, and Creedmore rounds are fun to shoot, but there are a lot of us who want a “trainer” gun that feels and shoots like our precision gun, but does it at greatly reduced per round price. Maybe there are even a few of us that just want a really accurate .223 bolt action that still feels like a full sized rifle. Though the 6.5 and 6mm Creedmore rounds are “the new .308” and can do everything in a hunt the .308 can, I will say first hand that 6.5 Creedmore are not cheap to shoot by any means. Now we have the .223/5.56 Nato Ruger Precision Rifle which is a delightful duplicate of the other models that you can shoot all day long without a sore shoulder or emptying your wallet.

Without question, varmint hunters are going to love the exceptionally accurate .223 RPR, however I believe this is going to become a hit with two other types of customers - customers who want a trainer for their larger bore guns, and customers who want a precision rifle that “feels” like their AR15 and shoots the same caliber.

As a trainer, even if the Ruger .223 Precision Rifle is only used to practice trigger pull, grip, shooting position, general marksmanship tactics and perhaps hammer a few critters in the process, the gun would pay for itself in ammo savings in only a few thousand rounds. Really, I have to tell you those insanely accurate Hornady 6.5 Creedmore ELD Match rounds are not cheap. The Hornady .223 equivalent are half the price of 6.5CM and a good reload recipe could deliver further savings. This is the category I fall into; wanting a training gun that will allow me to fiddle around with shots and shooting positions to find my sweet spot all without blasting $2 rounds down range. There are a lot of range days that we want to “feel like we are shooting the big gun” or are training a new shooter but just do not want to shell out the cash.

I have a lot of friends in the other category of potential .223 RPR owner who do not want to add managing yet another caliber to their firearm inventory. For them the huge selection of .223 ammo for match, plinking, hogs, and other game is enough. The price point, precision, and user friendly nature of the .223 RPR makes it a perfect fit for these shooters.

Most would expect that the .223/5.56 NATO Ruger Precision Rifle would duplicate the larger calibers in size, length and weight and it does. In fact this rifle is exactly the same weight as the .308 model. Ruger did go with a .223/5.56 NATO chambering presumably some type of .223 Wylde chamber which Ruger notes is completely cross compatible between the calibers. Ruger has really set up this smaller caliber RPR to extend the precision range with a 5 gove 1:7 rifling to stabilize heavy longer bullets better. One feature which I really liked on the original larger caliber rifles was that they were cross compatible between Magpul LR20 and AICS magazines.

The .223 is not and is only compatible with Remington Short Action .223 AICS size magazines. Personally this is disappointing that I cannot run any of the hundreds of GI spec AR 15 magazines on this gun. There would be some real cross compatibility advantages to that in the field, but alas the Ruger only feeds from AICS mags. The reason Ruger went with the much more expensive AICS sized magazines was to allow round with 77gr or heavier .223 bullets to fit, function and feed. If you are going to create a precision rifle, then I suppose the compromise you should be able to shoot the best heavy bullet you want.

The trigger on this unit was not as good as previous RPR triggers I have tested. Our primary tester jokingly noted that the trigger felt like Ruger’s three stage trigger. There was a noticeable second stage before the third stage break. In this case, I would say a Timney trigger upgrade is in order.

As with all the other Ruger Precision Rifles, the .223 model is also a tack driving ½ MOA gun with the right match ammo. We tested a number of .223 Hornady and Federal rounds including Hornady 68gr, 75gr, and TAP 55gr, PMC Bronze 55gr, Federal Match 68gr Sierra Match King, and standard M855 steel core penetrator rounds. The Ruger Precision Rifle performs its best with high grade match ammo. The best two 100-yard groups were Federal SMK 68gr .383”, and Hornady Match 75gr. at .375”. Notable the Federal SMK 68gr round was the clear accuracy favorite in our test averaging .453” across all three of the three-round groups.

100-yard Groups
Federal Match 68gr Sierra Match King - .437”, .383”, .54”
Hornady 68gr Match - .602”, .687”, .531”
Hornady 75gr - .743”, .375”, .773”
Hornady TAP 55gr - .700”, .756”, .649”
PMC Bronze 55gr - 1.908”, 1.717”, 1.386”
GI standard M855 - 2.49”, 2.81”, .699” - Not really sure what to make of this inconsistency

Sure were were able to punch some plinking grade groups with PMC Bronze and the M855 Steel Core rounds were about the same, but feed the RPR the right high grade match ammo and suddenly you are greeted with considerably better than ½” groups at 100-yards. The Federal 69gr Sierra Match King rounds consistently delivered the best groups. Unfortunately we did not have any 77gr rounds to test with.

In my reviews of the first RPR, I asked where my .223 version was and Ruger delivered. The total Ruger Precision Rifle package adds up to a gun which shoots extremely well, is stunningly accurate for the price and is loaded with pretty much everything you could want in a precision rifle for far less than any other offering on the market. 

Ruger… simply amazing gun for the price… now where is my rimfire variant?

Stock Folding, Adjustable Length of Pull and Comb Height
Barrel Length 20"
Barrel Cold Hammer-Forged, 5R Rifling
Handguard Ruger Precision Rifle™ Short-Action
Twist 1:7" RH
Grooves 5
Weight 9.8 lb.
Capacity 10
Height 7.30"
Overall Length 39.25"-42.75"
Length of Pull 12" - 15.50"
Folded Length 31.60"
Width 3.30"
Suggested Retail $1599.00

  • 5.56 NATO "Target" chamber safely accommodates 5.56 NATO cartridges while providing maximum projectile control and accuracy for both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem cartridges.
  • Medium-contour barrel features a Ruger Precision Rifle® Hybrid Muzzle Brake to effectively reduce recoil while minimizing noise and blast to the sides of the shooter (thread protector included).
  • Cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel with 5R Rifling at minimum bore and groove dimensions, minimum headspace and centralized chamber.
  • 20 MOA Picatinny rail secured with four, #8-40 screws for increased long-range elevation capabilities.
  • "Upper" receiver and one-piece bolt are precision CNC-machined from pre-hardened 4140 chrome-moly steel to minimize distortion.
  • Three-lug bolt with 70° throw features dual cocking cams and a smooth-running, full diameter bolt body.
  • In-line recoil path manages recoil directly from the rear of the receiver to the buttstock, not through a traditional bedding system, providing maximum accuracy potential.
  • Ruger® Precision MSR stock with QD sling attachment points features a bottom Picatinny rail and soft rubber buttpad. The left-folding stock hinge is attached to an AR-style buffer tube and accepts any AR-style stock. Length of pull and comb height are adjustable.
  • Equipped with a Ruger Precision Rifle® Short-Action Handguard for improved scope clearance for long-range scopes.
  • Magazine well front is contoured for a positive grip for bracing against shooting supports.
  • Oversized bolt handle for positive bolt manipulation, with 5/16"-24 thread for easy replacement. Bolt disassembly tool is stored in the bolt shroud for easy striker channel cleaning. Also features a Ruger Precision Rifle™ Billet Aluminum Bolt Shroud.
  • "Lower" magazine well halves are precision machined from aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum and are Type III hard coat anodized for maximum durability.
  • Ruger Marksman Adjustable™ trigger is externally adjustable with a pull weight range of 2.25 to 5.0 lbs.; wrench is stored in the bolt shroud.
  • Extended trigger-reach AR-style grip and 45° reversible safety selector. May be configured with any AR-style grip and selector.
  • Barrels can be easily replaced by a competent gunsmith using AR-style wrenches and headspace gauges.
  • Also includes: Two, 10-round, Ruger AI-Style Precision Rifle magazines compatible with longer, higher ballistic coefficient projectiles.


Friday, April 14, 2017

MantisX Digital Trainer Review

MantisX Digital Trainer Review
One of the most interesting trends in the sporting industry is the surge of digital technology. We are seeing digital enabled rangefinders, binoculars, rifle scopes, dog trackers, and now digital coaching trainers. The MantisX is one extremely high tech smart phone powered trainer… yep, for better or worse, every problem and inadvertent movement you make through each shot cycle is beautifully displayed on your Android or iPhone.

First it is important to note that the MantisX is not a shot timer nor does it provide that function. I overheard many people at Shot Show mistakenly think it was a shot timer. The MantisX is a digital trainer that captures every movement you make before during and after taking a shot then tells you what you might have done wrong and then how to correct it.
Imagine having a permanent range instructor that you could use during any live fire, dry-fire, CO2, Simunition, and airsoft pistol or rifle you own regardless if it is fed by bullets or CO2. It is a training partner who is with you at every range session helping you become a better shooter with every shot. Also image that same range partner delivered brutal honest relevant feedback on what you are doing right and wrong without an ego, sigh, snarky comment or glaring look all for a one-time cost of only $149 and is USB rechargeable. That is what the little .75-ounce MantisX trainer is and frankly I love it.
Nested into the MantisX is a lot of technology including a highly sensitive digital accelerometer and a digital gyroscope that tracks every cant, wiggle, flinch, and movement throughout each shot. Even if it takes you a few seconds to stabilize before the shot, MantisX sees that also.
Direction & Magnitude - MantisX tracks the movement of your handgun's barrel during the trigger pull. Shots are grouped according to movement pattern similarity. If you are Heeling 22% of the shots, Pushing 18% of the shots and Slapping the Trigger the remaining 60% of the mag full of rounds shot it will tell you, but usually we all have many other problems we did not know about that MantisX will capture and show as well. The interface is very graphic heavy which makes it easy to quickly summarize everything that has happened.
Shot-by-Shot Analysis - The trainer tracks and scores each shot individually and analyzes trends. Especially for new shooters, there can be a lot of variance in problems from shot to shot. For experienced shooters, we tend to mask a lot of our issues or overcome them in other bad ways… yep MantisX will show you that in a shot-by-shot analysis. Frankly it is a little violating at first and then you heed the feedback and start improving.
Detailed Trace of Entire Shot Cycle - MantisX delivers a movement trace/drawing of how you are moving the gun. Green: Hold/sighting pre-shot.  Yellow: Trigger pull.  Red: Shot breaking and recoil pattern. This was what I thought was most interesting. I seem to be all over the place just before the pull and then I settle the gun milliseconds before the trigger pull. I have never really see this before, but MantisX’s super sensitive digital gadgetry picks that up.
Score - Each shot is scored depending on how much you moved away from your sighted position during the trigger pull. The perfect score is 100 (impossible unless locked in a vice). I placed the MantisX alone on a solid granite counter and tapped on the counter four feet away and it still picked that up in the trace pattern as movement - it is very sensitive.  I was excited that I started getting into the high 95%+ range after a month of working with the MantisX. My high was a 98.7%.
Direction - For each shot, MantisX detects the direction of the barrel movement during the trigger pull. If you tend to shoot left, left sector will light up on the wheel. After a few shots, the training device shows the pattern of your movement.

Suggestion - Analyzing an individual shot or the group of shots, MantisX provides you with a suggestion which could improve your shooting mechanics based on the very common and heavily agreed on US Army “Shooters Wheel of Misfortune”. Click on the problem areas and read the coaching tips to know how to focus your efforts in the next round of shooting. If you work through what seem like really.... remedial shooting 101 suggestions, you will find after you set your ego aside that perhaps one forgets a lot over the after years of shooting.  Great reminders and information to help up all deliver better shots… and all without the snarky comment saying, “dude I have told you this like fifty times so far today.”

The MantisX is less than an ounce but seems very well made and has held up well for me over the last three months of testing. The trainer comes nicely packaged in a small Pelican case which can take the brunt of the abuse from being thrown into a range bag and has enough room for the small included micro-USB charging cord and instructions. Run time has been good and really have only recharged it three or four times over the last four months, however I did leave it sit unused for about three weeks and did need to recharge it. The MantisX seems to recharge in a couple hours which I felt was fast enough.
Setup was super easy on my Android, iPhone and iPad devices. Download the app, hold down the Bluetooth sync button and click Connect on the MantisX App. I had zero issues with connection on any of the devices. Just by turning the unit off and back on I could immediately sync to a difference Android or Apple device.
The MantisX has an integrated standard picatinny rail adapter secured to a rail with a simple standard head bolt which fit well on anything from my Glock, HK, Walther, AR15s, Sig MPX, to my airsoft Umarex trainers.
There are a lot of gadgets on the market these days and in the firearms industry, I have seen some hit and miss tech enabled products - the MantisX is one device which I believe has significantly improved my shooting. The MantisX works with live fire, but also all the other training tools & methods including dry-fire, laser inserts, CO-2 inserts, and airsoft.  
If you simply like firearm gadgets, that may not be enough for you to enjoy using the MantisX. On the other hand, if you are serious about stopping a lot of bad habits, open to having your ego being a little digitally violated during training, and becoming a better shooter fast, then the MantisX is an amazing tool you should consider. For the new and seasoned shooter, the MantisX is an incredible tool to help decipher what you need to work on and since the smartphone apps are constantly getting updated, we can expect new updates in the future.
MSRP $ 149.99
MantisX Training Bundle includes:
  • One MantisX smart sensor (attaches to accessory rail)
  • Smartphone application (iOS and Android)
  • Micro-USB charging cable
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Every MantisX comes with a 45-day money back guarantee.

KyberLight Master Pack Light Saber Review

KyberLight Master Pack Light Saber Review
This is not my usual realm of reviewed products, but this is so freaking cool, I had to share this. If we have a discussion on what is the most elegant battle weapon in science fiction, the light saber introduced in the Star Wars stories must be at the top of anyone’s top 10 list. Wielded by both the “dark side” and “light side”, Jedi and Sith alike it is the signature weapon of the Star Wars series. 

Thinking waaaay back to 1977 at the opening of the original Star Wars, I wanted nothing more in life than a Light Saber. Ohhh what I would have given to have one of the unbreakable KyberLights. KyberLight is everything you wanted back then… and well even now. Let’s face it we are all either Jedi or Sith at heart and we all need a lightsaber complete with color changing blade, clash on contact light flash, and all the appropriate sounds that go with light saber use. The KyberLight delivers the full experience starting at only $199.

The “real lightsaber” in Star Wars was a kyber crystal powered plasma blade capable of cutting through pretty much anything. In the case of the KyberLight it is a well-designed hefty replication of a light saber made of billet aluminum with a blade powered by extremely bright color changeable ultra-high output LEDS that light up an indestructible sparing quality polycarbonate blade. 

Yes - you can do full power contact dueling and sparring with the KyberLight like you would with martial arts bokkens or bamboo trainers. What sold me was the owner did a video of him banging the blade on driveway. Of note, the KyberLight is not a toy I would turn loose in the hands of any kid. Due to the weight, construction, heft and durability of the handle and blade it can about the same serious bone breaking damage as a training bokken even though it is not plasma powered.

Open the well-made box, lift the KyberLight from the box, press the top button on the handle and the KyberLight springs to life. The fixed (non-retracting) blade lights up brightly and that same wonderful sound of a light saber turning on is faithfully reproduced through an onboard soundcard and bottom firing speaker. The “hum” and “movement hum” of the operating light saber is also reproduced as is a clash and flash feature which cycles the color of the KyberLight blade to indicate a hit on the blade.  All the cool features you would expect are there. On this new KyberLight model I reviewed they have upgraded the digital electronics board to be able to also turn off the clash feature and completely turn off the sound. Admittedly after 10 minutes or so, the “hum” can get annoying.
The KyberLight is rechargeable and recharges in around two hours with a continuous run time of 3 hours and intermittent use runtime of around 8 hours. I found the run time more than sufficient.  KyberLight has already offered one digital board swap upgrade for owners, and I would expect as time goes by that more upgrades will follow. My perspective is that the Kyberlight should be upgradable via some type of app, but that may be asking a lot of a $199 sparing quality light saber.
The blade itself is a tapered hollow “unbreakable” polycarbonate blade with a screw in tip that has a mirror inside to help with light diffusion inside the blade to improve the look and brightness of the light. KyberLight also offers replacement blades and in two different sizes, so if you do spar a lot and want a show blade and extra sparring blade you can order a spare. The blade affixes securely to the handle via hex head set screws. Based on the beating I gave the KyberLight, the attachment of the blade is plenty secure.

The first button powers the KyberLight on/off, turns the clash features on/off and can turn off all the sound. The second button cycles through the twenty light colors the super bright LEDS can produce. Including white, there is a pretty substantial rainbow of colors to choose from in both very dark rich colors to lighter hues. You can find your Sith blood red, your son's brilliant Jedi green, and your daughter's light pink colors. 

When you start reading through all the Star Wars nerd posts, you will see many reference that it is hard to have a “daylight” color blade. Regardless of how bright your flashlight is, you probably are not going to see it in full sun. The visible KyberLight blade lighting is only visible in less than full sun situations. On overcast days, it is bright. At night it is blazingly bright. The output of the LED lights is over 300 lumens. Anything over 200 lumens is considered blindingly bright and should not be looked at without a blade in place - which I will note delivers a pretty useful and super bright flashlight with a 3-hour run time.
An important note is that KyberLight backs up their quality with a lifetime warranty. Should you need to replace a part, because the damage was you and not really a warranty issue, KyberLight offers every component as a replacement part.
KyberLight is fully customizable. The pommel, guard/emitter, and grip can all be swapped out with various optional accessories. Kyberlight sells a base model for $199 which includes the bare billet silver aluminum handle base unit, a black grip, black emitter, and silver pommel and cap. The grips, blade, and emitters are all held on with either hex wrench screws or included stylized thumb screws - the hex wrench and extra screws are included. The pommel (bottom base) are simply screwed in and are hollow to allow the speaker to play through the base.
If you are planning to play around with a bunch of different customization options… or cough… have kids then you will want to go ahead and upgrade to the MASTER pack which includes three grips, four pommels, four emitters, plus the base KyberLight unit. This was what I tested and added an optional carbon fiber grip… because I love carbon fiber.
What is amazing is that the MASTER pack still is only a small representation of all the various grips, pommels, emitters, colored “daylight” blades, and other custom parts KyberLight offers. You can get very carried away.

Obviously, there are several other competing lightsaber companies out there making sparing quality cos-play lightsabers which can easily hit $500 - $1000. KyberLight was founded because they wanted to offer a more affordable option which still offered rich features and class leading durability. The result is a light saber which delivers 90% of what we want at a price that starts at only $199, backed with a solid warranty and good customer service. Take a look at the videos on their site to see the KyberLight in action.
As noted previously, this is not my typical product I would review, however sometimes we just have to have a little fun. If you are not a Star Wars nerd/fan, then you probably will not get that I was/still am very excited over the KyberLight. 

My eyes lit up when I opened the box and when I hit that button, I was in elementary school again and was Darth Pandemic the moment I hit the button and the blade lit with life. This is without question a freaking blast...though I do see at least one more being purchased to dual with the kids. You can bet Sith Pandemic will be roaming the streets on Halloween… ya know with my kids. Yep I am a big kid and I am betting you are too, if you love Star Wars male or female the KyberLight is a great durable and affordable fun.
Indestructible Fighting Blade - These custom lightsabers aren't just for show. Each Kyberlight custom saber is designed with combat in mind. Our goal was to make these fully fightable and built to last. Guaranteed! And we back it up with a LIFETIME warranty on every Kyberlight blade.
Affordability – We created the Kyberlight saber to not only be the highest quality custom lightsaber in the world, but to also be the most affordable and accessible for fans of all ages anywhere in the world. We'll stack our Kyberlight Saber up against anything else out there, from quality to pricing... guaranteed!
Base Kyberlight Pack - $199
Master Pack Kyberlight - $299
7075 Aerospace Grade Aluminum
12 W + LED with a Quad Core
Proprietary LED Driver
Proprietary Custom Sound Board
32" Kyberlight saber blade is made from a proprietary plastic blend that allows flexibility and extreme strength
Re-chargeable battery and charger included
Tool kit included (wrench and extra set screws)
To change top piece, remove set screw and slide off.
To change sleeve, remove set screw at the bottom and the converted wheel and then slide upward.
To remove the pommel piece, twist counter clockwise and remove.
To select colors, simply press the color select button (middle button on hilt).
Plug the charger into the charging port. Unit cannot be turned on during the charging process. Charging will take approximately 2 hours and the LED on the charger will turn from red to green when it is ready. The charge will last approximately 3 hours of continuous use and up to 8 hours of sporadic use.
Every Kyberlight saber blade and tips come with a lifetime warranty. If for any reason, you break the Kyberlight blade we will replace it plus shipping. The Kyberlight hilt and electronics comes with a 1-year warranty. If your Kyberlight hilt or electronics are damaged or broken within 1-year after purchase due to normal use including combat, we will replace or repair it for free. We do not cover water damage or intentional abuse. Attempting to repair the Kyberlight yourself will void the warranty. Please email us at to request a return.