Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ruger PC Carbine Rifle with Glock Magazine Magwell

Ruger PC Carbine Rifle with Glock Magazine Magwell

Freaking brilliant! I would like to congratulate Ruger on making the Glock magazine feed carbine we have all been waiting for Glock to make. Sure, a Glock design may have looked different, however the Ruger PC Carbine is everything we want in a basic Glock magazine fed carbine… and with a swapable magwell adapter design, it can also currently accept all Ruger and potentially other brand mags as well in the future.

Ruger has done something few companies have ever done outside of the AR15 market; they designed and offered the Ruger PC Carbine with out-of-the box functionality with another competing manufacturers magazines along with Ruger’s own SR-series magazines. The brilliant 10/22 influenced design is everything we could hope for in a inexpensive, reliable, and easily serviceable $650 MSRP rifle.

The Ruger PC Carbine rifle will likely retail on the street for just under $600 and can imagine it easily being one of Rugers biggest sellers in 2018. The Ruger PC Carbine offers full ambidextrous controls, shares the 10/22 based trigger design, features a take-down barrel design similar to Ruger’s 10/22-TD rimfire, has a trigger which feels better than any 10/22 factory Ruger trigger I have tried, a warp-free synthetic stock with front picatinny rail and user configurable spacers similar to the Ruger Scout rifles, integrated top picatinny rail, ambi-configurable controls, fluted barrel with 1/2x28 threaded muzzle, fully adjustable rear peep/ghost sight, protected scout style front scout sight, and SR-series & Glock 9mm magazine well adapters all included. That is a mouthful of features for a gun with a street price under $600.

The gun features that apocalyptic surviving rugged Ruger feel at 6.8lbs with the upgraded machining design appearances of being made with the “new Ruger machining capabilities.” There the more refined fit and feel precision and machining finish like that seen on the Ruger Precision Rifles that just was not possible on the old Ruger equipment. The Ruger PC Carbine take-down action is rock solid and looks like a Ruger 10/22-TakeDown and an H&K tri-lugs setup had a baby. It is VERY solid and super fast to disassemble and assemble.

From a feature perspective, most people would say it is very well appointed. The front and rear sights are excellent, fast, and rugged all without getting in the way of the typical types of red dots and 1-4 power optics people would attach. Ruger did not mess around with the Ruger PC Carbine design and just milled the entire receiver and integrated a full 1913-spec picatinny rail out of billet aluminum. The rear sight is precision adjustable with marked increments of windage and elevation.

Though I have not attempted to swap out an aftermarket 10/22 trigger, the trigger unit appears to be compatible with 10/22 triggers. Based on the feel of the very good trigger, I probably would not waste the money on an upgrade. It seems logical that if the 10/22 design trigger is reliably igniting hard to detonate .22LR rounds, then it should be more than sufficient for centerfire rounds. 

The trigger and trigger safety should feel familiar to all the Ruger 10/22 rimfire owners as should the charging handle placement and operation. The Ruger PC Carbine also features the same bolt lockback and automatic bolt release feature of the newer Ruger 10/22 rifles. Operation of the Ruger PC Carbine is also similar to the Ruger 10/22 with a simple dead-blow back design. Ruger has shorted cycle time and reduced recoil with a tungsten weight inside the bolt.

The Ruger PC Carbine departs from a 10/22 based design with easily ambi-configurable magazine release and bolt charging handle via a simple 10/22 style disassembly with only two screws. Some serious design work was done to deliver the elegant simplicity of the magazine and bolt handle design. 

My preference on the configuration was an AK/10/22 bolt charging location with the magazine release button on the right hand side. I found this to be the fastest reload. Of note, if you swap to a right handed magazine release, old Gen 2 non-ambi Glock magazines will not work unless you do some Dremel work. 

The reach the magazine release is not trigger finger accessible without releasing the grip, but I found it easy to either slide the support hand back and around the magwell to release the mag or slide the firing hand up while shouldered. Not a high speed AR-15 reload process, but it works just fine.

Ohh that gloriously brilliant magazine adapter setup. I can hear it now, half the folks in the design meeting at Ruger are carrying Glocks and just bitching because the gun only accepted Ruger mags. Finally the lead designer says “OK if it will shut you up, we will make the magazine adapter swappable for Glocks.” 

At least that is how I imagine it. It could have also been the finance guy noting that the most popular pistols on earth are a Glock 9mm and noted that Ruger would sell about 20x as many if it also accepted Glock mags. Whatever the reason, Ruger is sure to hit a home run since the only other widely produced non-AR15 Glock mag compatible rifle is the Keltec Sub2000 which is always backordered. 

The beauty of the mag swap design is that with just a quick disassembly, hit the mag release button, the owner can slide out one magazine adapter and slide in another adapter. Currently Ruger includes both Glock and Ruger SR-Series magazine adapters in the box with one SR-series 10 or 15 round magazine included depending on PC Carbine model chosen. 

Ruger offers optional Ruger American magazine adapters as well. I can certainly imagine that if Ruger does not offer magazine adapter for various other brands of magazine, that the aftermarket accessory manufacturers will have them available very soon. Due to the design flexibility, the Ruger PC Carbine has the opportunity to grab market share with an inexpensive rifle from Sig, H&K, S&W, Glock and many other brand loyalist. After all who would not want an accurate little rugged carbine that can be disassembled to fit into a backpack that can shoot from the same mags as a sidearm. This seems like an automatic win for the LEO, survival, and home defense markets.

Summing up the Ruger PC Carbine, it is a 10/22 that fires 9mm rounds. My FFL dealer and I were dying to shoot this. We walked to his back field and unloaded a magazine full of rounds. My second group at about 15-yards was essentially all in the same ragged hole. Yes the Ruger PC Carbine is accurate, not SUB-MOA 100-yard accuracy, but certainly hit the can at 100-yard accuracy. My initial comment which held true through testing was that it blows the Keltec Sub2000 out of the water from an accuracy perspective. Add in a very nicely fluted barrel with factory support for muzzle devices and suppressors, the Ruger PC Carbine features some nice upgrades that many people would not expect in a $600 rifle.

After an initial break-in period the Ruger PC Carbine was perfectly reliable with a wide variety of ammo. Initially we did have some issues with trigger reset when the trigger was pulled and held back solidly. It was an odd malfunction, however after 100 or so rounds of breakin that issue has not re-appeared.

The take-down feature is elegantly simple. Lock the bolt back, push the locking lever forward and turn the barrel about ⅓ turn to remove the barrel. Install is the same three-second process in reverse. Yes, you can leave a magazine in the disassembled state for fast deployment. With the 16” barrel, with the barrel off the entire rifle can very easily stow into any typical Eddie Bauer backpack which seems like a handy feature for backpackers and those suspicious about world collapse.

Honestly, I love the Ruger PC Carbine. The rifle is just brutal simplicity paired with elegantly rugged functionality - it just plain works. I have often wished upon a star that Ruger would make a 10/22 that fired 9mm rounds from a Glock magazine… no really I actually have. They did and it is a freaky awesome fun and accurate rifle that is just at home in the hands of LEO or homeowner for defense or banging away on cans and steel for smiles. It is not beautiful but the utilitarian functionality and features will make this one of the most attractive rifles in the Ruger line for 2018.

Stock Black Synthetic
Capacity 17
Barrel Length 16.12"
Overall Length 34.37"
Barrel Feature Threaded, Fluted
Front Sight Protected Blade
Rear Sight Adjustable Ghost Ring
Thread Pattern 1/2"-28
Weight 6.8 lb.
Length of Pull 12.62" - 14.12"
Material Aluminum Alloy
Finish Type III Hardcoat Anodized
Twist1:10" RH
Grooves 6
Suggested Retail$649.00

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Black Hole Weaponry Barrels from ARs to Bolt Guns... Still Amazing

Black Hole Weaponry Barrels from ARs to Bolt Guns... Still Amazing

Over the last decade of writing, Black Hole Weaponry barrels have been one of my go-to barrel brands for a dozen AR15s, AR10s, and even a custom bolt gun. In every rifle build BHW barrels have consistently delivered ½-MOA (.5-inch) or better groups at 100 yards from bull barrels down to pencil profiles. 

In total, I have over a dozen BHW barreled AR15s, AR10s and bolt guns. Even my lightweight pencil AR15 7-in barreled build printed right at 1.25-inch 100-yard groups with a proper optic mounted. With the polygonal rifling, the barrels have been easy to clean and are extremely clean shooting.

BHW barrels are insanely accurate considering the price. I was reminded again how accurate BHW barrels could be during test of my 6.5 Creedmore Bolt Gun build. That build featured a Black Hole Weaponry Custom Shop hex fluted barrel which delivered more than a few .25-inch 100-yard groups - in fact I have yet to see any group larger than .5-inch with match loads unless I was doing something wrong with that gun. Recently I shot a heavy BHW custom .223 Wylde AR build against three factory precision chassis-ed .223 bolt guns and the BHW AR build outshot them all easily. The AR build was also not nearly as picky across the variety of ammo as the factory bolt guns. 

What I have liked most about the Black Hole Weaponry barrels is that they are boringly consistent with accuracy and I never have any significant fit or tuning issues with a build. The feature is that I can literally order any tricked out barrel configuration desired from their custom shop with a price tag far less than most any other custom barrel manufacturers.

For those that are looking for sub-MOA accuracy, Black Hole Weaponry has an affordable match grade polygonal rifled 308 barrel that starts around $320. Not heard of Black Hole Weaponry? They sell barrels direct to customers, however they are primarily an OEM barrel supplier for many AR brands you know that punch tiny little groups.

The Black Hole Weaponry barrels deliver simple barrel swaps for AR format barrels and are available in all the standard contours and gas system lengths. If you want a certain weight, feel, barrel profile, fluting, or barrel finish on the stainless barrels in a carbine, mid, or rifle-length gas system, Black Hole Weaponry can accommodate almost any request within their regular list of options including a huge array of calibers. You can even specify a threaded or a standard target crown. The result of all these options provides the AR15 or AR10 buyer with a huge amount of options to customize the fit, feel, and finish desired.

A few years ago the company rebranded to Columbia River Arms and now offers a stock production AR15 barrel line and the Black Hole Weaponry brand was carried forward for fully customized barrels.

Columbia River Arms - https://columbiariverarms.com

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Extrema Ratio Scout Review

Extrema Ratio Scout Review

Without question, Extrema Ratio knives are my favorite “high-tech” premium tier knives. The designs are both simple and elegant with a premium tier cobalt steel that delivers an aggressive extremely long lasting edge. 

Extrema is to knives as Ducati is to motorcycles - a premium brand. The new Extrema Ratio Scout carries through that Italian design legacy combining style and function in well executed simplicity and elegance.

Extrema Ratio are not “just” a tactical knife company and offer a huge array of knives from large tactical kurkas, to folders, to chef’s knives and even euro-legal straight razors. They seem to have a fun attitude to design while still delivering on their hard-use focus. 

Extrema Ratio has offered a number of shorter bladed EDC/CCW knives including the Shrapnel and T4000C reviewed previously, however they now are offering a number of knives with slimmer handle profiles to improve concealment. One of those new knives is this Extrema Ratio Scout - a simple 4-inch bladed spear point blade that is perfect for utility, defense and survival.

Though Extrema knife owners love the hand filling defensive knives, there were a lot of requests for a slimmer knife handle to improve concealment and this new Scout and its Scout 2, Defender and Defender 2 brethren all feature skinny handles as requested. The same stout thick cobalt blades remain, just the handles were trimmed down to about half the original width.

I choose the shorter 4” bladed Extrema Ratio Scout for a number of reasons. The spear point blade is a utility based design that can tackle pretty much any task without being too specific to a tactical focus. The wide blade is just as home dressing a deer as it is spreading peanut butter and jelly on bread and of course the spear point blade is a proven defense profile as well. The other reason I opt’ed for the Scout vs larger Scout is that in most states a 4-inch maximum blade length for fixed blade knife which is still legal to carry concealed (check you local knife laws).

For non-Extrema Ratio fans the design seems a bit futuristic, however once these unique handles and knives are in hand and working on a task, you really appreciate the out of the box thinking ergonomics of the Extrema Ratio design team. The knife feels right and most importantly feels secure.

What I am not a fan of on this knife is the cordura sheath. This is clearly a slim and trim inside-the-waistband knife design, so I was confused why it included a bulky belt sheath. The cordura sheath is really nice quality and MOLLE compatible, but is bulky and feel clunky compared to today’s fast access thin and trim Kydex sheaths. Maybe its an Italian thing. The sheath seemed to be a recycled sheath from one of Extrema’s other knives with too loose of a fit, but the dual snaps are tight enough to keep the knife in place. What the Scout needs is a slim kydex or leather sheath designed for your concealed carry style and placement. My plan is to work up a Kydex or leather sheaths to use with Extrema Ratio Scout as an appendix carry.

The Extrema Ratio Scout features the same Fornprene handle, hardened glass break tang with lanyard hole as the rest of the Extrema fixed blade line. The edge holds extremely well thanks to the N690 cobalt steel. Where some of the Extrema Ratio fixed blade lines are purpose build defense knives, the Scout is a generalist blade shape perfect for utility tasks and bushcraft.

The blade contours are consistent and edge grind is perfect with very minor casting seams on the Forprene handle. The Austrian N690 steel is a cobalt based stainless steel similar in performance to the expensive VG-10 but is actually more expensive. Notably the blade is wicked crazy sharp and it stays that way thanks to that N690 steel. 

In the knife industry, a term “high-tech” is used for the type of knife Extrema Ratio delivers. What makes a knife “high-tech” is subjective, however usually is comes down to combining very expensive premium tier crucible steel such as Austrian N690 cobalt based stainless with a premium finish/milling with design unlike any other knife. Extrema Ratio knives definitely fit into that tier of high-tech knives. There is also the price range of this Italian made knife. Where you could grab a workable $40 knife, this $200+ Scout may seen expensive, but that would be like comparing a Chris Reeve Sebenza to a Buck knife. The Extrema Ratio knives are amazing performing knives.

When reviewing the the tanto blade Extrema Ratio T4000 C I wished it had a slimmer overall handle profile for to allow for more discreet concealed carry. With the Scout I get that wish and would love to see this handle with a 3.5” bladed versions of the Scout and T4000C tanto blades to make it under even more restrictive locals. 

Sure Extrema Ratio knives are expensive, however the knife is the most essential and basic of survival gear and I believe you should always buy the best knife available when your life may depend on it. If you want the best of the best in the production high-tech tactical fixed blade market, Extrema is constantly thought of as the best. I am a very picky guy when it comes to blades, they have continued to impress and refine their designs with every knife.

Total Length of Knife: mm 215.90 (8.50 inches)
Blade Length: mm 101.60 (4.00 inches)
Handle Length: mm 114.30 (4.50 inches)
Total Length of Knife and Sheath: mm 234.70 (9.25 inches)
Weight of Knife: g 136.08 (4.80 ounces)
Weight of Knife and Sheath: g 201.28 (7.10 ounces)
Blade Thickness (Excludes Jimping Section): mm 4.57 (.18 inches)
Blade Width (Widest Section): mm 28.45 (1.12 inches)
Blade Steel: Bohler N690 cobalt stainless steel*
Blade Hardness: Rockwell 58 HRC
Grinding: Flat grind
Serrations on Blade: No
Handle: Forprene “thin” profile
Sheath: MOLLE compatible Cordura w/dual snaps. Can also carry on your belt
MSRP - $197

Extrema Ratio Knives

Xtreme Knives

Why I bought A S&W Governor and Review

Why I bought A SW Governor and Review

The S&W Governor was a gun a publically said I would never buy. I thought it was a pointless gun that can shoot a mixed six round cylinder of 2-¾” .410, 45 ACP, and .45 Colt rounds with dubious utility. In essence a Swiss Army knife, not particularly good at anything but marginally handy at everything when otherwise empty handed. 

I thought why would anyone want a gun that shoots .410, 45 ACP, and 45 Colt and none of them extremely well as a dedicated gun? Owners report typical 3” ten-yard groups - not particularly great at all. My accuracy results were about the same, but notably the Governor does deliver acceptable combat accuracy with .45 Colt rounds and some slug shells. With shotshells of shot, buckshot a pattern or hole of some sort is delivered downrange with the accuracy limits of a 5” sawed off shotgun. Of course the droves of Governor owners did not agree with my initial assessment.

Indeed the Governor is not a 25-yard gun and instead a highly effective seven yard gun. You would not want to be downrange when it goes off, but do not be fooled that you are going to drill 25-yard A-Zone groups like with a Glock or shoot clays with any regularity beyond fifteen yards like with any typical shotgun. 

Maybe I needed something to shoot down misguided drones, use up the surplus ammo from a retired cowboy, or prove to my 1911 friends that the .45 ACP cartridge is not an inherently accurate round. 

Maybe I just wanted the thumb breaking and nail ripping experience of removing spent .45 ACP rounds from full moon clips when I forgot the moon clip loader.

Maybe I wanted to wreak destruction. If you are on the wrong end of the S&WGovernor, the gun can be a nightmare. All of the rounds existing the less than precision Governor are devastating. The gun may not be accurate, but it makes a big hole in anything in front of it.

Actually it was the character Daryl Dixon in the stupid AMC Walking Dead television show that made my buy it… that and my dealer had a screaming deal on this used night-sight’ed S&W Governor. On the AMC Walking Dead show, Daryl pulls the gun off a dead bad guy and realizes it is apparently loaded with explosive incendiary rounds and blows stuff up with it. 

The .45 ACP can be shot with full 6-round
or partial 2-round moon clips
Though my FFL did not have any of the explosive rounds used on the show, we did pop off a few buckshot rounds on his range and the raw insanity of the gun sold me. Like many people, I saw a potential survival appeal of having a gun that can shoot three different rounds including shotshells and with caliber conversion inserts can even shoot everything from .22LR to .38 Special. Anyway I have named this ridiculous gun “Daryl” as a celebration of everything that appeals to the redneck in me.

The Governor is not a “master of all” as many would hope. Despite all that lack of perfection, shooting the Governor is a freaking blast. It is a gun which seems to find its way to every less than serious range day. If the 50 AE Desert Eagle had an alcoholic redneck brother it would be the Governor - both are a lot of fun for a few grin filled rounds of jovial shooting but not particularly practical.

Shotshells are the best to have fun with if you can figure out how to manage the sharp recoil of this lightweight 29-oz revolver. To me the .410 shotshell recoil seems similar to a 44 Mag round. Watching fruit, coke cans, water bottles and clay pigeons explode with the shotshell rounds is a laughter producer. The Governor can realistically teach how to point shoot when loaded with some bird shot. Place a few clays on a backstop and hammer through point shooting them and you will become a better point shooter with a pistol.
A mixed cylinder of .45 Colt,
.45 ACP, Buckshot, #4, and slugs

By contrast I own a Thompson Center Contender with a 14-inch .410 barrel and a Bond Arms .410 pistol. The Thompson Center Contender is arguably as serviceable as an actual full sized .410 shotgun. With that long pistol barrel, I can hit most thrown clays, can connect and drop junk birds in flight out to about 20-yards. The TC Contender is useful in real life as a fairly practical hunting shotgun pistol that still fits inside a backpack. 

The Bond Arms .410/.45 barrels delivers the same realm of accuracy as the Governor with about the same level of utility, but the Bond has the advantage that it can also shoot shoot full power hand bruising 3-inch .410 shotshell versus being limited to just 2.5-inch .410 shells like the Governor. This means that the your are limited to the smaller lead shot payload of the 2.5-inch shells on the Governor.

The advantages the Governor has over the Bond Arms derringers are that it has a longer barrel comparatively to the Bond, has less felt recoil (all be not much less), six round capacity, and offer improved control with a full sized grip. #8 birdshot out of either the Governor or Bond spreads out super fast; the Bond maybe has about a 5-yard max effective range and the Governor stretches the effective range to 10-yards with birdshot. Pellets are still going downrange for both those guns, but the pattern opens up so much it becomes more statically luck than skill on actual critters. At 15-yards with either of these guns there are fist and arm sized holes in the pattern with birdshot, so a miss is likely, but it is still fun to practice at longer distances.

The original marketing from S&W noted “highly accurate with .45 Colt and .45 ACP”, but I would never describe the gun that way. The MajorPandemic.com marketing would have read “Shoots most ammo pretty well.”

The .45 ACPs were some of the least accurate, good plinking rounds, offer really fast reloads with full moon clips, and deliver minimal recoil - if you want to shoot the Governor a lot, you will likely be shooting .45 ACP. Through all my testing, the seemingly giant .45 Colt rounds were by far the most accurate round through the S&W Governor with 3-4-inch seven-yard groups, reliable center of mass hits at 15-yards, and accurate enough to hit a full sized silhouette out to 50-yards. The .45 ACP groups were roughly double the size. Surprisingly some .410 slugs were also pretty accurate, however but the accuracy was still better with the .45 Colt rounds at distance. Though I would not swap my 9mm for the Governor for defense, if I did, my choice would be the devastating Hornady Critical Defense Triple Threat slug/buckshot or a mixed cylinder of .45 Colt and .410 Hornady shells.

For an outdoor trail and snake gun there really is not a better gun for quickly handling everything from snakes to wolves to general personal defense. There is also a lot of utility to being able to easily swap ammo based on the need out on the trail or load a mixes cyclinder of shotshell, buckshot and .45 Colt round. This is where the Governor is like the proverbial Swiss Army knife and handy when you do not want to carry four different guns. Where I really see the lightweight 29oz Scandium alloy S&W Governor as a relevant firearm is in the hiking, trail, packing, or trunk gun category that can be slipped into the pack and deliver a wide array of needs.

Despite being considered “old fashioned” the new breed of defensive .45 Colt rounds are similar is power to the .40 S&W. Notably the Governor is not suitable for the insane 1200 ft/lb Buffalo Bore .45 Colt +P rounds or any other .45 Colt +P rounds, but there are plenty of standard .45 Colt defensive, bonded hunting, and hollow point rounds with energy in the 550 ft/lb+ range.

The Governor can be a small game getter with #4 shot if you are decent at close range stalking. The flexibility of shooting .410 shotshells opens up the Governor to a enormous range of ammo types including birdshot, BBs, slugs, combo defense rounds, survival flares, rubber/plastic less-lethal ball shot, mace/pepper rounds, rock salt, and yes even Dragon’s Breath incendiary rounds. 

The ability to shoot signaling flares and pepper mace, plus deliver a super painful less-lethal rubber or rock salt payload to keep small crowds under control has some appeal in a theoretical sense. In reality, I am betting the actual use of all of the above would be pretty sub-optimal compared to the same rounds in a 12-gauge and risky to try it out. The less-lethal deterrent has some merit in a SHTF survival situation where everyone is going nuts and you are faced with a set of awkward decisions that do not necessitate killing someone. Perhaps a blast in the chest with three or four small rubber balls or rock salt would be enough to ward off an unarmed attacker. Though not the ideal tool, the Governor can be extremely useful tool for a lot of potential situations when you have nothing else.

To carry a variety of ammo simply, a set of Allen 14-round Ammo Much for Rifles makes for a convenience belt or MOLLE compatible ammo carrier in a backpack. I found that each pouch could carry a variety of 14-shotshells, two full speedy loading 6-round .45ACP moon clips, and 2-two round partial moon clips straddling the bottom flap to hold in the .45 moon clips. This overstuffed pouch setup did not add any more bulk and provides a mixed variety of 30 extra rounds that can be easy carried. A fully loaded 30-round pouch of mixed Slug, #4 , #9, buckshot shells and 16-.45ACP rounds plus the Governor loaded with Hornady Critical Defense "buckshot" weights in at only 3.55-lbs - Not bad for a gun shooting some heavy bullets and 36-rounds of ammo. I liked the setup so much I bought a second Allen pouch. 

This is a blast to shoot and I can see it can deliver good enough utility that it is a worthwhile gun. Would this be my “one and only gun”? Emphatically no! I would rather have a high capacity striker fired pistol, AR15, or shotgun first if I could, but the S&W Governor fits into the category of a Swiss Army Tinker knife. A real set of screw drivers, a full sized knife, an actual working can opener, and hole punch would be superior in every way to the Swiss Army Tinker except one. The Tinker allows you to carry the base utility of all those tools in your pocket without a tool belt - the Governor is a lot like that. Toss the Governor into a pack as a survival option with a variety of shotshell, and .45 ammo backing up a hunting firearm or bow or as a camp or trunk defense tool and it is good enough when you have nothing else.

Smith & Wesson - www.smith-wesson.com
Allen Cases - www.byallen.com
Hornady - www.hornady.com
Cabelas Herters - http://www.cabelas.com
Winchester Ammunition - http://www.winchester.com

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mirror Polished Barrett REC7 AR15

Mirror Polished AR15 Faxon Superlative DI Build

My FFL dealer acquired some very old naked un-anodized Barrett Firearms AR15 receivers with their original REC7 Barrett logo. The receivers were actually made a decade or so ago by Saber Defense for Barrett under an OEM relationship. This are fun receivers and with Barrett REC7 AR15s starting around $1900 these receivers have some cache’ since you cannot buy stripped Barrett AR15 receivers. 

Just with the name Barrett on the side, any build is cool enough, but I wanted to really make this build shine… literally.

Getting a mirror polish on aluminum is not hard, but it is time consuming. As long as you start with an unanodized receiver set and have a bench grinder with a set of polishing wheels, the polishing time is under about five hours including the hand final polishing with Flitz polish. In a previous article, I hand mirror polished a completed Matthews 80% billet lower with just a Dremel, Flitz and a rag and that process sucked. This time around I sprung for a $45 Ryobi Bench grinder and a $20 kit of buffing wheels and compound - well worth the investment to polish any metal.

The Ryobi polishing wheel kit includes recommendations for matching wheels and compounds, however after some experimentation, I discovered the hard sewn wheel with stainless polishing compound applied did the best job biting into the oxidized forged aluminum and aggressively smoothing out imperfections. 

Technically hand sanding with increasingly finer grit sandpaper and then polishing would net the best results and a flawlessly smooth finish, but I actually wanted to see some of the imperfections in the receivers to add a bit of character. The second polishing step was to wipe down the entire piece with Flitz, let it dry a bit, buff off with the sewn denim wheel, repeat until the shine started popping uniformly on the receiver and then follow up with a few hours of hand polishing and a coat of oil. The result is a receiver set which has the mirrored appearance of being hard chromed.


For this build I wanted a really unique super lightweight AR15 with virtually no recoil. To reduce both recoil and weight, a super-lightweight Faxon 16” Gunner barrel was paired with a Faxon ultra-light BCG and a Superlative Arms adjustable gas block. This allowed the gas pressure to be metered down further to take advantage of the ultra-light Faxon BCG that requires even less pressure to operate. 

An ultra-light Aero Precision ATLAS free-float handguard was added along with an ALG mirror polished stainless brake, James Madison Tactical trigger kit, Brownells buffer tube and AR lower parts kit, Phase 5 And-Plate Swivel, Strike Industries Poly ejection port cover, Magpul trigger guard, Rogers HABU Advanced Charging Handle, and Rogers Adjustable Cam-Lock Stock.

The Faxon barrels have seriously impressed me with their accuracy, quality, and price. These guys are doing a phenomenal job at making impressively accurate light barrels for AR15s, AR10, and even now Glock barrels. If you do opt for a Faxon barrel add on a matched headspaced bolt; my experience is this add-on greatly increases accuracy. Faxon has two lines of AR15 barrels, a 5.56 Nato production barrel models (usually well under $200) and their match grade .223 Wylde models ($200-$300) - both lines are available in a variety of similar profiles from heavy to light weight. 

The Match grade .223 Wylde models are more accurate, but their 5.56 Barrels are phenomenal barrels on almost any build and about half the cost. Faxon created their own unique “Faxon Gunner” profile which is a modified super light pencil profile with a light taper for improved accuracy under extended fire. I have a couple barrels in this profile and love them. No since adding extra weight where it is not needed. Consider Faxon’s BCGs as well. The BCGs are extremely well made and a much higher grade than the $99-$129 BCGs on sale everywhere.

Superlative Arms arguably makes the finest adjustable gas block on the market. The SA gas blocks feature melonited construction, are offered in a wide variety of .623”, .750”, .875”, and .936” sizes with SA’s patented bleed off system which dumps the excess gases. The quality is outstanding and the 30-position detent system allows a lot of fine tuning and prevents the common self-adjusting problem of most gas blocks.

Though I write for Aero Precision, I picked up this ATLAS handguard on sale at my dealer to get this build done. This is my first experience with the ATLAS handguard and I am impressed. Of note, I originally was going to use a Superlative Arms piston system, however of note it would not fit under the ATLAS handguard. 

Look for that system on another upcoming build. The ATLAS has been minimalistically designed to provide the smallest overall diameter while reducing weight. The very unique mounting system on the ATLAS includes a proprietary barrel wrench and a dual detent-ed wedge screw system. Though it took a few moments to figure out how it went together, it is a pretty unique system and is insanely rock solid.

Bill Rogers is a world class tinkerer, inventor and firearms instructor. Personally I think he has made some of the most unique real-world usable products on the market. This Rogers Stock is what I consider the best multi-position stock on the market because it is the only stock which comes with two shims for commercial or mil-spec sized buffers and also can be tightened into position with an intuitive and very fast cam-lock lever. 

When locked down, the stock feels like a rattle-free fixed stock, but hit the adjustment lever and the cam lock automatically disengages.

Yet another build where Brownells came to the rescue, as they are only a two day shipping route to me for most orders. It never fails that I “only need” a few things to finish a build and this case it was the James Madison trigger kit, lower parts kit, and buffer tube assembly. Brownells helped me get this dones before the end of the year instead of sometime in January.

Eotech are always a favorite optic for fast fun shooting and I had an EXPS3 which is perfect for a build like this. The Eotech EXPS3 also has a QD mount which allows me to swap between other optics quickly and still maintain MOA accuracy when reattached. With a mirror finish, this probably is not going to be a hunting gun and just something fun and the Eotech is the perfect choice for taking advantage of the very fast shooting capabilities of this lightweight near recoil-less build.

The grip featured is my own MajorPandemic.com style modification that I have been doing for years. I start with a standard $4 A2 grip, a paracord slot is milled into each side of the grip, and all the existing texture and finger grooves are ground off. I hand texture the grip with a wood burning iron and then very tightly wrap the back of the grip with paracord. These are insanely comfortable grips and always look awesome for about $6 in materials.

Without the Eotech attached, the final build weight is only 5.65 pounds and the recoil was drastically reduced to almost nothing thanks to the adjustable gas block and lightweight BCG. This build is certainly capable of excellent accuracy, however that was never really the intent of this rifle. For me, this is a fun training gun, plinker, and competition gun to beat on steel and Rubber Dummy targets with that looks different than everyone else’s black rifle… and of course since no one can buy one of these Barrett receiver sets, it makes it all that much more unique. As you can see, a little polish work goes a long way to make something really special and unique.

Faxon - http://faxonfirearms.com
Superlative Arms - https://suparms.com
Barrett - https://barrett.net
Brownells - www.brownells.com
Aero Precision - www.aeroprecisionusa.com
Rogers - www.rogersshootingschool.com
Eotech - http://www.eotechinc.com
Ryobi - https://www.ryobitools.com

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bitcoin - Maybe the Best Survival Currency Ever

Bitcoin - Maybe the Best Survival Currency Ever

After three years of saying maybe I should buy some Bitcoin while it was in the $300-$400 range I finally bought in the middle of 2017 at around $4,000 a Bitcoin. As of December 2017 we are now hitting over $19,000 a Bitcoin and it shows no signs of stopping. That investment has of course has done extremely well nearly tripling my investment in less than six months. If Bitcoin continues to raise at the same rate over 2018 year, I could very well be a millionaire by the start of 2019, but that was not why I purchased it. More importantly, I can access the money anywhere in the world… or even space if needed, even if I am stripped of everything. Perhaps Bitcoin may be the best survival currency ever.

For my “real job”, I create and present on a lot of business solutions and strategies including Blockchain which is the underlying base technology of Bitcoin. The very general concept of all the different blockchain technologies are in essence the same - there are participants which hold accounting-like ledgers and they all share each change to the ledgers on a consensus bases. If one ledger has a block of data chained/linked to it, they all get a copy and have to agree to the change. Usually there are many ledgers, which instills inherent trust among all the participants. The more participants and ledgers the more trust since everyone has to agree on every change to the ledgers - with Blockchain technology, no one is going to pull a fast one and slide something by. Generally all the transactions are encrypted and anonymized.

Bitcoin leverages the Blockchain technology to record the holdings of Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Bitcoin calls the thousands of globally dispersed ledgers “miners”. Miners are all linked, encrypted, and agree on ledger changes. The result is one of the most globally secure currencies ever devised which tracks full or fractional amounts of Bitcoins. In the early days, Bitcoins were actually “mined” or created via a fairly substantial investment of around $1200 considering Bitcoins at that time were selling for under $100. Today that process is so expensive it is less expensive to just purchase Bitcoin. Bitcoin is typically purchased via exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Poloniex and others similar to how you would use an online stock brokerage like an Ameritrade or eTrade. Thought the nerdy folks will hold their own cryptocurrency keys (think of them as stock certificates) on some type of USB device, most people have the online exchanges hold their cryptocurrency keys. The online exchanges allow you to buy and sell just like a stock and most allow you to transfer the sales proceeds easily to Paypal or your regular bank account.

Using Coinbase, the process for me was fairly simple. Set up a Coinbase account, verify some deposits on my bank for a wire transfer and deposits on my credit card accounts and then I was ready to buy. I transferred in money from my bank account which is slower, but less expensive than the higher fee credit card cryptocurrency purchases. Overall the process is pretty simple, but not quite as smooth as online stock trade accounts.

Currently there are hundreds of various cryptocurrencies on the market, however Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are the most popular by far.

Early on I made a lot of money during the internet bubble where stocks were soaring, but those valuation increases are nothing compared to what is happening with Bitcoin. I am not a broker, and admittedly willing to throw disposable income at some risky investments. Some investments have panned out and some I lost my shirt, but I have never had an investment that tripled my money in less than six months with no apparent slowdown. I would never have gambled my house payment, or the kids college money, but I wire transferred a fairly substantial amount of cash into an account on Coinbase (think of them as Ameritrade, or eTrade for Bitcoin) and initially purchased three digital currencies. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

After what appeared to be a stall in Ethereum and Litecoin, I sold them and moved all the money into Bitcoin. In hindsight, it was the right decision and wish I would have dumped all the money into Bitcoin at the start. To date though investments in Ethereum and Litecoin would still have doubled my investment.


Sure I hold out hope that the insane growth continues and I and up a millionaire, but the real reason I wanted to have some money in Bitcoin was that it provides a completely transportable currency even if I am stripped naked and walked over the border of another country. That seems like an extreme example, however throughout history and even currently, political refugees are being forced from their homes with nothing more than their clothes.

How would I start over in another country if that happend to me, or suddenly US cash was worthless, or all Gold and Silver was confiscated like in 1933 as ordered by FDR. Just as I have a stash of cash, hold some silver and gold, the prudent option is to have a currency which can be accessed anyplace in the world. A suitcase of $20s and pound of gold at home does you little good if you are stranded far away from those funds.

Sure it may take a week to reset passwords and reestablish my Coinbase credentials if forced to move without my electronics, however the money would still be there and once accessible, I have now have a tidy sum of Bitcoin which can be transferred into any bank account around the world. If you have not considered Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency as Gold/Silver 2.0, it may be the best investment you could make in your survival.

Bitcoin may be the best survival currency ever, after all US cash, gold and silver have not increased in value much over the last decade. Perhaps it is time to think of survival beyond just physical currencies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Glock G19 and G17 Aftermarket Match Grade Barrel Test Stock Feddersen Faxon ZEV and KKM Tested

Glock G19 and G17 Aftermarket Match Grade Barrel Test Stock Feddersen Faxon ZEV and KKM Tested

For the vast majority of Glock shooters, practical accuracy is far more relevant than what a Glock can deliver when bolted onto a bench fixture, but we still all hope Glocks aftermarket barrels are a drop-in accuracy fix. Every buyer has the same question - “Will a match grade aftermarket barrel really deliver an accuracy improvement?” According to my testing, the answer is it depends.

Many times I have noted that aftermarket Glock barrels are questionable upgrades for buyers looking for a magic fix to improve 7-yard accuracy especially with budget blasting ammo. During a tour a few years ago inside Glock, I observed Glock’s own in-house pre-shipment testing which assures every Glock going out the door can deliver 1-inch 25-yard groups from a shooting fixture - factory Glock barrels have the potential to be plenty accurate. 

In a previous article, I noted an example test where I fed my very accurate KKM barrel complete junk 9mm Maxx Tek 115gr ammo which netted a horrible giant group, but then to prove the point further I then proceeded to shoot a group a third the size with the stock factory Glock barrel with the same ammo. This previous test was just to showcase an extreme example that premium barrels really require premium ammo to outperform stock Glock barrels.

Faxon Glock G19 G17 Barrels
featured 90-degree recessed match crowns
This test confounds people, because after all, why would a premium barrel not always shoot better. The reasons are pretty simple. Most match grade Glock barrels such as Wilson, Storm Lake, KKM and others have historically feature a slower 1:14, 1:16, or 1:20 twist designed to stabilize heavier match grade rounds. In the case of KKM barrels they were specifically designed for 147gr Hornady Tap bullets, but they can shoot 115gr rounds pretty well also depending on the ammo. The 1:9.84 factory Glock barrel twist rate by comparison is fast compared to match barrels; in some cases almost twice as fast. The faster twist is usually more optimal for lighter and usually less expensive 115-124 grain rounds, while also tending to offer better bullet stabilization of less concentric bullets.
Feddersen Glock G19 G17 Barrels

The other reason for improved accuracy with cheap ammo is that factory Glock hexagonal rifling by the design forces even crappy wobbly bullets to center up correctly, heavily distort/deform them to the point that pretty much any round shoots fairly well and usually shoot to about the same point of aim. The problem is that this hex rifling also heavily distort those perfectly concentric match grade rounds, so stock barrel you do not deliver the huge accuracy improvements from super accurate bullets. The less aggressive button rifled match barrels allow those premium match bullets to shine, but do not suffer fools who feed the match barrels cheap rounds.
Faxon Glock G19 G17 Barrels

I was anxious to repeat my previous test with good quality mid-grade FMJ practice rounds. The test included the brand new Glock 17 and Glock 19 match grade barrels from Feddersen and Faxon along with my proven KKM, ZEV and factory barrels shot from a Gen 4 G19 with Apex Trigger and Gen 4 G17 Salient with Salient Trigger. My hope was to understand what ammo quality and shooting distance delivered a noticeable improvement after a barrel upgrade. A lot of other industry tests have focused on ransom rest testing at 25-50 yard ranges, but I wanted to go at this a bit differently because and I have always been focused on practical accuracy delivered as the gun is typically shot -  I never shoot a pistol off a ransom rest in the field and want to know the results I can expect in the field.

After a little testing of a variety of ammo, I found that about 30 cents a round for factory FMJ range ammo was the point where there became a noticeable statistical accuracy advantage upgrading to a “match grade” barrel. Typically ammo of this grade is priced around $15-$25 per box of fifty. Using ammo under that tier of ammo quality, the factory barrel generally delivered similar or noticeably better accuracy than match barrels. As a good representation of “good quality” range ammo, the final testing ammo was 9mm Fiocchi 115gr FMJ, Sig Sauer 115gr FMJ, 124gr FMJ, and Winchester White Box 124gr FMJ. Notable 147gr rounds were not used because these are usually not “typical” range ammo most people shoot or that is widely available as range ammo unless you are a reloader.

Through a variety of test shoots and a lot of measuring, 15-yards seemed to deliver statistically significant and visually notable differences between factory and match barrels shooting mid-grade ammo. 15-yards is also the range at which most people can precisely still see the target with acuity. Sure most of us shoot well beyond that range and many NRA matches shoot at 25 and 50 yards, but 15-yards is a practical distance for most shooters to still see the inner bullseye crisply.

Of course there are Ransom Rests and all sorts of supports, but I had enough faith in my bullseye shooting abilities to go at this 15-yard test with dual sets of standing unsupported five round averaged groups. The worse flyer was thrown out of each group to remove a portion of my influence and allowed the two average groups to tell the accuracy story. A better shooter could certainly improved the groups, but this test is a group average good enough to give readers an idea of what each barrel can do. As you can see on some of these groups, these barrels were certainly capable of impressive accuracy.

With the ammo selected and a 15-yard test based on dual averaged four-round groups, I was ready to test. An indoor range was used during off hours to assure I was not startled or unduly stressed from booming gunfire and I started working through testing. If I saw more than a 50% difference between the first and second group sets, I reshot the groups. Around 500 rounds later I felt I had a fair representation of what each of the barrels could deliver.

Though I am more of a steel banger with my Glocks, I will on occasion bulls-eye shoot to tighten up my groups. The results recorded some of my best Glock shooting ever which included several sub-1” groups, but most importantly I was able to show statistically how a match grade barrel Glock can start to improve accuracy.

Below are my accuracy results for the 15-yard four-round groups. With an air of caution, my suggestion is to look at this grid and the Average group size and Average % Improvement to understand the type of accuracy jump you can expect if you test through to find your Glock’s prefered practice round. This should not be used as a crib sheet of which ammo to feed each barrel. Every barrel, recoil spring variance, and trigger setup will shoot differently in every gun - in a few cases my setup was lucky. The net of this test was that the KKM, ZEV, Faxon and Feddersen barrels really started to shine at the 15-yard line with mid-grade practice ammo.

Though work was done to attempt to make sense from a trend perspective of which twist rate or barrel liked what bullet weight,  the results captured seem to indicate that each barrel simply had preferences or disdain for particular rounds. For whatever reason the KKM really seemed to be all over the place on both the G19 and G17 depending on the ammo used. By contrast the Faxon has the smallest Standard Deviation and thus were more consistent across various ammunition.

(note my original post had some minor formula issues which have been corrected)

Fiocchi 115g FMJ Sig 115gr FMJ Sig 124gr FMJ Winchester White Box 124gr FMJ AVG Min Max Standard Deviation Avg % Group Improvement over Stock G19 Barrel
Glock G17 Feddersen 1:9.84 1.756 1.461 0.804 1.118 1.285 0.804 1.756 0.413 48.8%
Glock G17 Faxon 1:10 1.778 1.301 1.178 0.859 1.279 0.859 1.778 0.381 49.0%
Glock G17 KKM 1:14 1.275 2.398 3.714 1.763 2.288 1.275 3.714 1.056 8.9%
Glock G19 Stock 1:9.84
2.322 3.083 2.073 2.571 2.512 2.073 3.083 0.431 Stock
Glock G19 Feddersen
1.517 0.523 2.525 1.866 1.608 0.523 2.525 0.835 35.9%
Glock G19 Faxon
1.549 1.960 1.829 1.916 1.814 1.549 1.960 0.185 27.7%
Glock G19 KKM
1.423 2.398 3.724 1.763 2.327 1.423 3.724 1.015 7.3%
Glock G19 ZEV
1.581 2.145 2.989 1.694 2.102 1.581 2.989 0.639 16.2%

Faxon Glock G19 G17 Barrels
Faxon - Faxon has come out of the gate hard with arguably some of the most accurate production priced AR15 barrels I have tested. In nearly every test we have completed, even the company’s ultra-light pencil profile barrels have far outperformed heavy typical mil-spec barrels delivers some shockingly small sub-MOA groups. Faxon has now introduced Glock Match Grade barrels. This was my first opportunity to test them and I am again impressed with the barrels. The Faxon G17 delivering the third best overall group and the second smallest group on the G17 platform and overall were the most consistent from round to round. Considering they are offering threaded options, custom fluting and color finishes at around $220 a barrel, I am positive they will become an instant hit.

Feddersen Glock G19 G17 Barrels
Feddersen - Fred Feddersen is widely considered as the barrel genius in the gun industry and the inventor of dual patented SEPR (Single Edged Polygonal Rifling). Fred has received two patents on the SEPR rifling. Feddersen manufacturers match grade barrel blanks many companies use for their barrels and the company is now making Glock unthreaded and threaded and 1911 barrels with the SEPR technology. Noting that the Feddersen G19 and G17 delivered the top two shockingly small groups of this test… and yes folks those were dual 4-shot group averages with the ammo. These were test barrels and not for sale yet, but I hope that Feddersen is intending to get this on his site and into distribution right away based on my tests.

KKM Glock G19 G17 Barrels
KKM - KKM has been long considered the top Glock match grade barrel for nearly ten years and still delivers some impressive groups. This test specifically was a little unfair to the 1:14 twist rate KKM because this barrel loves 147gr match rounds and really starts to strut its stuff at 25-yards and beyond. The KKM barrels can be a bit picky, but are amazing performing barrels when you find the rounds they like.  KKM is still obviously delivering a dependable average 10% accuracy improvement with just range ammo. Feed this barrel the top tier ammo and groups drastically shrink.

ZEV Glock G19 G17 Barrels
ZEV - ZEV initially noted that they use a proprietary rifling, but I have seen in more than one place a twist rate of 1:10 listed. ZEV is another fixture in the competitive Glock shooting circuit and has consistently been the barrel of choice for many pro shooters. ZEV was also the first company to offer “fancy” barrels with various finishes, threading, and even fluting for Glock barrels plus a huge line of Glock performance accessories.  ZEV puts a lot of extra finishing into their barrels that you do not see elsewhere. They do deliver that wow factor and less picky than other faster twist barrels.

Aftermarket match grade barrels can improve accuracy with no impact on reliability. Through the course of planning, initial testing and final testing of eight different aftermarket barrels, I had zero functional issues with any barrel which is a great side note if you want to leave these barrels in your pistol for defense.

Faxon Glock G19 G17 Barrels
The intent of this test was not to show which ammo shoots best in which barrel, or necessarily which barrel shots better, but to roughly prove that match grade barrel can deliver noticeable accuracy improvement at reasonable shooting ranges with reasonable priced ammo. Is it possible some other less expensive ammo would deliver similar result? Sure, but I was looking for a statistical rule of thumb for ammo quality to drive improvements with the match barrels.

Notably, these match grade barrels can statistically deliver accuracy improvements of 20%-100% over factory stock barrels, but at 15-yards that could only mean .5”-1” smaller group which could be a huge deal for buyers. The results proved that to me that these barrels do offer buyers an advantage at 15-yards and beyond. For the person intending on just shooting on the 7-yard line the difference would not be worth the investment.

Though I did not cover it in this test at 25-yards and 50-yards these match grade barrels can make a significant impact to hits on steel or scored bullseye groups. Feed these barrels the really great premium match ammo and I am positive this groups could improve further which could be another interesting test.