Thursday, March 31, 2011

Magpul MBUS Rear Sight Review

Magpul MBUS GEN 1 Rear Sight Review

When I needed a back up sight for my DPMS AP4 I looked at a lot of options. As I have been a fan of high end plastics and a HUGE fan of Magpul PMags I thought one of the Magpul MBUS deserved a try and for under $50 vs the other $75+ options.

Mounting was event-less on my AP4 and has not moved or budged since.  Many would say you need some fancy hex machine screws to hold it on, however the MBUS have a flat head standard screw tipped with lock tight.  The result is a easy mount with only a swiss army knife and with the lock tight it stays put and believe me I have made it a personal challenge to shake it loose.

The back up sight folds flat and provide a uncluttered picture of my Burris FastFire II reflex sight, but are only thumb or finger flip away from a quick pop up for fixed sight shooting.

The price is excellent for the quality and I doubt you will be able to push the durability of the MBUS hard enough to ever break it. Overall great value in the sight market.

One thing I did that I was surprised Magpul did not think of was a adding a notch on top of the sight for close CQB ranges.  I added a shallow Dremal tool notch on the top of the sight and it puts me right on target for the 7 yards CQB ranges.

The dual flippable apertures are nice and work fine however I would have liked them to work with accessory rear sight inserts.  If I want to go with a Trijicon front and rear sight set, I will need to swap to a different sight that would accommodate the standard sight blade insert.

Fixed rear sights are typically in the domains of Daniel Defense fixed rear, however for a flip down back up sight the Magpul MBUS Rear Sight is excellent quality, a great deal, huge value, and fills the need.  Due to the timing I purchased and tested the Gen I version however Magpul now has the Gen 2 version which is a bit slimmer to slide under scoped rifles a bit better.  This original version would be a bit fat to fit under scoped rifles.

The MBUS (Magpul Back-Up Sight) is a low-cost, color injection molded, folding back-up sight.
The dual aperture MBUS Rear Sight is adjustable for windage and fits all mil-spec 1913 Picatinny rail equipped weapons, but is specifically tailored to the AR15/M16/M4 platform.
  • Impact resistant polymer construction provides light weight and resists operational abuse
  • Spring-loaded flip up sight easily activated from either side or by pressing the top
  • Detent and spring pressure keeps sight erect but allows for unobstructed folding under impact, etc.
  • Clamps to any standard mil-spec 1913 Picatinny rail and provides the same height-over-bore as standard A2 irons
  • Protective wings shield the dual flip apertures
  • Detent knob easily and positively adjusts windage
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burris Fast Fire II Sight Review

Burris Fast Fire II Sight Review

Many years ago an magazine editor I was working for once told me to make sure I take pictures BEFORE I start testing. He claimed no one wants to see a beat up product afterward in the pages of print... I disagree.
People should know that you actually put the equipment to the test before a review and not just pull it out of the box snap pics right for pre-arranged article content. The point of all is the my review of the Burris Fast Fire II which has ridden on a Ruger 22LR 10/22 rifle and Mark III pistol and punished on a DPMS 308B and now my DPMS AP4 7.62x51 and then back to the 10/22.... Throught it all it retained zero and I should have mentioned I have never re-zero'ed it since originally sighting in on the 10/22.
Proof is in the testing and the Burris FastFire II shot at zero after the weapons rotation and being re-mounted on the 10/22.
Extras I bought with my FastFire II
  • Picatinny Protector Mount - This adds a clam of metal armor around the metal chassis of the FastFire II. I thought this would be a good idea since I was planning on it finally landing permanently on my AP4 Battle Rifle.
  • YHM - Yankee Hill Machine 1/2" x 1" long Picatinny Riser. This provides a perfect co-witness with your back-up or fixed AR sights.
Why I bought the Burris FastFire II
  • Price/Value - At under $300 retail it is one of the best deals on the market for a quality reflex sight
  • Weight - With the Picatinny Mount it weights in around 1.5oz. That my friend is light compared to 14-16 oz Eotech and the like.
  • Auto-Dimming - Think of this senario, you are transitioning in and out of the light into dark building and your sight is stuck on blaring freaking level 10. Wouldn't you rather have a sight that auto-dims? Many manufacturers are going to this feature now. In even a completely dark room the red dot is still just a little twinkle, but in full sun you get a nice bright laser dot.
  • Auto Off - The auto dim feature works by dimming in theory to a point of "off" after the cover is installed or if for instance the gun is shoved in a safe.
  • Parallax-free - Even if I am now perfectly aligned on my sights it will still show me where the bullet will go.
  • Holds Zero - You have the basic sight adjustments, but you also have a lock that effectively locks the adjustment in place. Never had an issue or problem with the sight holding zero even on the big 308/7.62 calibers.
  • Battery Life - Yes I would love one of the Trijicon reflex sights, however they are out of my price range for this endeavor. The upside is that the original set of batteries are still burning bright. Burris claims because of high tech electrics and auto-dimming that the batteries will last up to 5 years. For over two years so far they have been correct... still my first set of batteries.
I sometimes do wish the On/Off switch would be a little bigger, usually when I am turning the unit on or off, however if it was bigger it might get hit and accidentally turned off or one, so I am personally on the fence on whether this is a big issue.

I do wish Burris had some sort of speed cover that I could flip off and it would automatically turn the unit on. It would be nice if it was something like a Butler Creek scope cover that flipped over to the left side and out of the way, but could be removed if required. Burris has indicated that the smart electrics allow the unit to be left on and when the cover is on the sight that the sight basically turns off until the cover is removed, however since they don't recommend that for long-term storage this would not be my choice of regular operations. My option to make a quick remove cap was to tape on some paracord... works pretty well.

Overall I have been very (with emphasis) happy with the Burris Fast Fire II and am planning on laying down some cash on a second one for my Ruger Mark III Target Pistol and possibly a third for one of my upcoming AR builds which is as good a recommendation as I can give any product.


The FastFire dramatically increases speed and accuracy. It simplifies the act of aiming, eliminating the need to focus on and align the front sight, rear sight and target. With the FastFire, the aiming red dot and target are always in focus and properly aligned for the ultimate in accuracy.
The FastFire II provides the only fully waterproof unit in its product category.
The FastFire sight is very small, mounts very low, and weighs a mere 1.6 ounces. And it has repeatedly proven it’s toughness on the slides of high power semi-autos, on slug guns, on shotguns and on high power rifles.

The FastFire housing is made of metal for strength and durability. It’s lenses are precision ground and polished to exacting geometries to virtually eliminate parallax and to provide a very clear crisp sight picture. It is fully windage and elevation adjustable and lockable. It features both an on/off switch and a light sensor that automatically adjusts the dot’s brightness to the available light. The included plastic hood covers the light sensor and puts the unit in sleep mode when the on/off switch is set to “on.”
FastFire is powered by a lithium CR2032 battery, which is commonly available and long lasting because of the highly efficient electronics and the battery-saver mode. A battery can last as long as five years.
The Picatinny Mount allows mounting on just about any rifle. Special bases are available for the most common firearms.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building my Bug Out Bag Contents

Building my Bug Out Bag Contents

Arguably the contents of one person's Bug Out Bag may not match another and a hot debate would ensue between just two men on what should be in the bag, and if a third debater was added, eternity would arrive before a consensus was made... and that's just before setting one which firearm to bring.

First and foremost a Bug Out Bag (BOB) and contents should be light enough to run with, at get out of dodge speeds, and is only designed to support you for 72 hours.  Obviously this type of pack is not used when shit hits the fan and you have time to react, its used when shit is pressed into the fan at high speed and high volume - the major suck as it were.  Therefore, the contents of the BOB do not need to support extreme comfort living, because if you have that kind of time to pack, you really do not need a 72HR Bug Out Bag in the first place.  Additionally if you need to really bug out, you probably will not have a vehicle, it won't be working, or the streets will be so jammed you can not use it anyway... so plan that whatever you are carrying must be light and small enough.

The theory is that beyond the 72 hours you should be in a safer, happier, and hopefully more stable sustainable environment.  A Bug Out Bag is NOT designed to support life for extended periods of time, nor should it have enough ammo and guns to start and end the war.

I researched a lot of seemingly smart experts and compiled the below list which I think is not only still very light, but more versicle in a variety of situations outside of making fire and eating with the major categories of:
  • Security & Safety
  • Construction & Repair
  • First Aid
  • Hygiene
  • Fire
  • Orientation
  • Shelter
  • Cooking
  • Vessels
  • Water
  • Food & Trapping
  • Reference
  • Power
  • Communications
  • Proof of Identification
  • Payment
My items I assembled can be vacuum packed, is less than a couple lbs., and will easily fit in a small backpack.

You never know when you are going to be stranded and need just a couple things to make your live more comfortable.

COMPLETE LIST OF BUG OUT BAG - This may need to be a trunk kit... it has a few extras however this may give you some ideas for your own 72 Hour kits.

             Trail running shoes
Security & Safety                    
            Ammunition & Clips    
            Defensive Folding Knife           
            Large Fixed Blade Knife          
            3/8" thick zip ducting ties or cuff zip ties
            Safety grade sunglasses and clear safety glasses
            silicon ear plugs           
            Thick leather work gloves        
            Mechanic's Wear Light duty Gloves     
            High Output Tactical Light       
            Expandable Baton       

Construction & Repair             
            Leatherman or Equivalent Multitool      
                        Philips Screwdriver
                        Flathead Screwdriver
                        Hole punch/awl
                        Can opener
            Swiss Army Knife        
                        small knife
                        small nail file
            Cold Steel Mini-Shovel or Equivalent   
            zip ties 
            6' of Duct Tape           
            Snare Wire/rope saw see above in construction
            20' of 550 Parachute cord       
            Hotel type sewing kit   
            Add larger needle for sewing repairs with dental floss   
            100' dental floss - also for Hygiene       
            Sharpening stone         
            Superglue - Painful, but good for suchers also   
First Aid                      
            Band aids        
            Several clean dressings
            Saline solution  
            XL band aids   
            Alcohol wipes  
            Prescription meds as needed    
            Antacid/anti- diarrhea medicine
            Bottle Iodine    
            Contact solution & case as required     
            Gin/Vodka Hip Flask   
            Latex Gloves   
            Suture Kit & Sutures   
            100' dental floss - also for construction 
            Oral B Brushups          
            Hotel Soap bar
            Role of Toilet Paper     
            Paper Towels  
            Tampons & Pads - FYI tampons make great tender     
            Synthetic Car Shamy   
            Baby Wipes    
            Sun block        
            Baby Powder  
            Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer     
            Cotton Towel  
            Underarm Deodorant   

            Lighter X2       
            fire stick/flint    
            9V battery & Steel wool          
            Tender - Tampons, cotton balls soaked in wax 
            Tea Light Candles        

            Cell phone - See below Communications         
            Precision Map Compass          
            button compass           
            State & National Maps with Radio Locations marked  
            Disaster Plan - Shared with Friends and Family
            Rain poncho    
            Ball cap or Safari Hat  
            Space Blanket 

            Stainless Cup    X

            Nagline or Platypus Bottles - 2-3         
            Heavy duty 1 Gallon Zip Lock Bags     
            Ziploc Sandwich bags  
            50 Gallon trash bags    
            20-50 gallon clear trash liners   
            GI Canteen & Stainless Cup (Stainless Canteen Recommended)          
            Water purification tablets         
            water filtration sport bottle & extra filter           
            coffee filters     

Food & Trapping                    
            Fishing hooks sinkers & line     
            Snare Wire/rope saw see above in construction
            Caffeinated Green Tea bags     
            Chicken Bullion Cube  
            Beef Bullion Cubes      
            Flavored Fruit Tea       
            Survival Spork 
            Food for 72 hours       
Reference - Pick at least two               
            US Army Survival Guide          
            Guide to Edible wild plants       
            Herbal medicine guide  
            IPod with Headphones for relaxation & Entertainment  
            Playing Cards  
            SAS Survival Guide     
            CR123 & AA batteries for Lights & GPS        
            Rechargeable 9V, AA, AAA Batteries 
            110V/12V/9V Universal USB recharger          
            Cell phone & GPS Chargers    
            AA/AAA battery Charger        

            Iphone or Smartphone 
                        AP - GPS
                        AP - MAP
                        AP - Flashlight
                        AP - US Army Survival Guide
                        AP - Basic Medicine
                        AP - Morris Code
                        Phone/Email/Address Contacts for friends, family and police
            Walkie Talkie  
                        Set 3 Frequency bands
                        Privacy codes and Rotation schedule
            Signal Mirror   
            Morris Code Sheet      
            Pre-Agreed Cryptographic Message System    
            NOAH Weather Radio

Proof of Identification              
            Driver's License           
            Birth Certificate           
            Marriage License         
            Social Security Card    
            Passport & Passport Card       
            Mortgage/Home/Land Deed Records  
            Account numbers of all monetary accounts       
            Fishing License
            Hunting License           
            Gun License    
            Photocopies of all the above    
            Scans of all the above and load on encrypted USB Drive          
            Other IDs as needed    

            Extra Items for Trade   
            Roll of Quarters           

Shop a complete selection of what you need to fill your Bug Out Bag at 

Replace you Stock Glock Barrel w/ a Lone Wolf Threaded Barrel

 Replace you Stock Glock Barrel w/ a Lone Wolf Threaded Barrel

Why replace a perfectly good Glock Barrel with something unproven?  The simple answer is that it provides you with a number of options and in theory improved accuracy.

The Major Reason Are:
  • The stock barrel's hexagonal rifling is not designed to shoot un-jacketed cast lead bullets.  The lead will build up really fast on the rifling and cause failures or worse.  The standard rifling on aftermarket barrels allows you to shoot the cheap stuff.
  • Most aftermarket barrel profess higher tolerances (tighter fit) and "Precision Match" barrels which should increase accuracy... I will let you know.
  • Most aftermarket barrel are friendlier to the brass with fully support chambers.  This is an important issue is you reload.
  • Aftermarket barrels are available is stock lengths, compensated, and threaded options.  If you are planning on buying a suppressor, it's about the only way you are going to get a suppressor attached.
  • It's a cheap upgrade - most Glock aftermarket barrels cost less than $150.

Installation was as simple as:
  • Clearing the weapon
  • Field stripping the Glock 
  • Swapping barrels
  • Reassemble
  • That's it.
  • Enjoy the benefits of all your hard work

The Lone Wolf barrel comes simply packaged, however I have to say it's handy re-usable packaging for storing whatever barrel you are not using at the time.  Overall I rate packaging an A+

If you are simply purchasing a Lone Wolf barrel only for accuracy gains, this is not something I would promise anyone.  Certainly with tighter tolerances and a match grade barrel most do see improvements in groups, however the predominant advantages remain the above other listed benefits.  I will give an update as some as I have a little more range time beyond simple functional testing.

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Video of How to install a Lone Wolf Barrel on your Glock

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Distance shooting like a sniper with Iphone Aps

Distance shooting Like a sniper... or a really good Competitive Distance shooter.

We all have the image of the quintessential image of a sniper depicted by the Tom Beringer movie Sniper who only needs his rifle and some camouflage to make the impossible billion yard shot. The reality is whether you are sniper or Joe distance shooter, the fundamentals of shooting apply and that does not mean going to the 500 yard range and blasting 1000 rounds downrange like a madman. In fact our range does not allow it for obvious safety reasons, because you have no idea where each of those bullets are going when doing something like that.

A military sniper I met once told me that I would be stunned how few rounds were shot on an average day at sniper training. He indicated it was more like hunting where there is a lot of waiting and maneuvering and calculating but with a heck of a lot more analytical classroom work. We all have the image of these guys waking up in the morning and spending the day driving a thousand rounds down range however when it comes to shooting vs concealment the emphasis is more on prep for the shot, the shot and then a whole bunch of analysis about the shot, where it went and why. Distance shooting has always been a complex puzzle to solve with variables 99.99% of shooters never have to consider at ranges under 150 yards.

Since most modern cartridges shoot flat enough for hunting out to 100-150 yards including the 22LR most of us never really have to think about any significant holdovers. When is the last time you thought about barometric pressure, ambient temperature, ranging, scope adjustment, wind estimation, spindrift, and flight time.  Additionally most target bench rest distance shooters are used to shooting nice and comfy on a level stable bench and picking "nice days for shooting" that are less temperate and less windy ... which inherently restrict the influence of the really crazy variables affecting the bullet path.  After all if you only shoot on nice days with little wind off of a stable shooting bench, sub-MOA (minute of angle) groups are not that tough.  Try it while it's raining at dusk, shooting under a log while laying sideways in a muddy ditch with 30 MPH cross winds at a 400 yard target that is trying to kill you and your buddies and you may not be able to hold the accuracy you thought you were capable of.  Most folks that hunt know that you rarely if ever get the perfect shot, you are too hot or too cold, at a weird angle, your heart is pounding from chasing that damn buck around the forest for an hour and you the only decent place you can find a shot is a kneeling position.  You look through the scope and your heart beat is moving the cross hairs with every heartthrob while black flies and mosquitoes from hell are feasting on you.  Not the same hell as war, but still an odd way to spend our weekends.

I first started doing 200+ yards distance shooting with a .22 caliber Crossman air rifle across our small rural farm as a kid.  The targets were usually junk birds or the mail box post at the end of entry to our lane.  The obvious first lesson I learned was holdover and Kentucky wind-age, which all mean how high do I need to aim for the distance and how far left or right because of the wind.  It was cool hitting that steel mailbox post, because it seemed to take a couple seconds after I pulled the trigger to hear that rejoicing "ting".  After years of "tings" I could get regular hits on that thick pole because I knew exactly the holdovers and only had to worry about the wind.  Those lessons were very hard earned over years and years of shooting and probably enough lead pellets to sink a ship.  How great would it have been to do the calculations up front and make the shot with pellet #1.  Inexpensive and free Iphone apps can now put you on target with the first shot.

iPhone Apps
The first step to shooting accurately at long distances is to figure out where the bullet will go. There are a couple Iphone aps I really like at after some use. One being military's now standard Knight's Armament Corporation KAC BulletFlight series of apps in three versions from basic $3.99 to Military $39.99. If you want a comprehensive feature rich app that gives you cutting edge ballistics calculation including really complex spin drift calculations with most commercial and military caliber data loaded on board, this is the app to download.

 The other iPhone ballistics bullet drop calculation ap I like and probably use more is iStrelok a free app that provides a complete range of ballistics calculation, but lack the extra data inputs and sophistication of Bulletflight.... but hey it's free and has worked great for me breaking clay targets out to 400 yards.  This is more of a fast calculation app designed around Kentucky windage holdovers, however it does calculate scope clicks also.  The app which shows you where to aim on your reticle design, for instance it has MilDot, NP-R2 & R1 Nightforce, TMR Leupold, Ballistic Mildot & XTR Ballistic Mildot, BR, SPR, and host of other reticles loaded. Set up your rifle and cartridge data, enter conditional information distance, wind, temp, slope, and boom it shows you where to aim when your look through the scope. Seems to work very well on everything from the .22LR, .357, 9mm to .308 I have tried with it.

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Another useful app is a distance estimation app for use with Mildot reticle equipped scopes is Sniper Mildot which allows you to set the size of the target with a slider and use the other slider to match the height of the target as seen through your Mildot scope. Most deer chests are 18" tall so you can make pretty accurate yardage calculations with this, but not as accurate as a laser range finder and requires a Mildot scope on the noted calibrated power setting. It took me a little bit to figure out, but in the end, it's a handy tool for any sniper, target, and hunting shooting.

Theodolite is another great Iphone app tool for shooting, surveying, outdoor enthusiast, and handyman use which allows for extremely precise angle calculation to a target, distance & height calculations, GPS, Azimuth bearing, altitude, time, precision compass, and a host of other information critical for positioning and measurement. This is just a stunning display of what the embedded iPhone sensors can do and handy when shooting.

If you want to add some stress to your training, I recommend a Shot Timer,  I have several including IA-Innovative Applications Shot Timer and Surefire's Shot Timer... both free.  These provide the beep and shoot with recording of total times, first shot, split time and shot counts.  I definitely use these with handgun and can provide some stress during long range shooting as well.  Adding a little urgency and stress to your long range shooting I have found really changes your accuracy a bit and not for the better.

Aside from a few GPS programs like RunKeepr and GPSLite that keep me from getting lost another useful Iphone app is Record and Learn which allows you to record commands for dry fire drills and play them in order or randomize them.  This app is especially useful for training for drawing, charging, pointing, re-pointing, moving, gun clearing and loading/unloading drills/maneuvers.

Dry Firing.
I cannot possibly convey how much I have learned from dry firing vs shooting.  If you want to tighten your groups with rifle and pistol, dry fire, dry fire, dry fire. This will improve your grip, will make you PAINFULLY aware of flinching, thumb squeezing, trigger yanks, and the lot of issue that make you miss the target.  As a test the next time you are watching TV, assure your gun is completely unloaded point it at the TV and pull the trigger... did your sight picture move when you pulled the trigger, did you flinch like a newbie, was there any movement.  By dry firing the hell out of my pistols and have significantly tightened my groups and now I am working through the same drills with my rifles.

A Good Rest
A great portable rest is your backpack, Harris bipods, and I have even used bean or rice bags which are really light and still provide the same utility as the lead bags... plus you can eat them if you have to go all nature boy survival.  I also encourage practicing all the various standard and some un-comfortable shooting positions while you are at the range.  The reality is you can practice all you want on a bench, but when you start crouching or laying down, things change.

Ethical Questions
We all know the guy who considers hunting buying a new 300 Magnum each year, puts three rounds through it and heads to a guided hunt where he attempts 300-400 yards shots.  He then brags that it took two shots, but he brought the beast down at 400 yards.  In my mind this is totally irresponsible and inhumane. We have a responsibility for a clean kill.  I pulled off a 150 yard squirrel shot one year only to find that I shot its leg off and had dispatch it upon retrieval.  That haunts me to this day and if it would have been a deer I probably would have never hunted again, but it did teach me to to only take humane shots inside my field shooting capabilities.  If you can't cleanly take the game, don't take the shot.

Also you need to ask yourself can I safely even make the shot from here, am I shooting into a good backstop? All questions you need to answer before setting up to take the shot.

Sniping and hunting have a lot of similarities starting with the hunt which means more glassing and looking with binoculars and less shooting. You probably have spent well over $2500 for a rifle and scope combination, but the most critical hunting gear is an excellent set of binoculars in 8-10X magnification.  I can guarantee you will find more game.  The other piece of equipment that is getting cheap is a range-finder.  A really good one will only set you back about $300 and will provide not only distance, but shot angle and/or adjusted shot distances affected by the angle to the target. Without good range estimation, that $2000 trip and hunt may leave you empty handed from and incorrect holdover.

The Obvious Questions
Have you sighted in and do you know what the rifle will do at the 10, 25, 50, 74, 100, 150, and 200+ yards ranges with the ammo you are hunting and shooting with? A lot of guys figure that if they are good on the 100 yard range, that they are good and that is not the case, experience validating ballistic calculator data is critical. Have you shot off the bench, prone, knelled, and from seated and odd uncomfortable positions? How did that affect your accuracy?

Are you using the same ammo you sighted in with, is it good ammo or cheap stuff that is inconsistent.   Have you dry fired enough to assure good grip, trigger and breath control?

Are you keeping a shot log providing distances, sight in distance, wind, clean/cold/warm bore information, and ammunition variances?  Most guns will shot differently with first round from a dirty and/or clean bore and when the barrel is cold and sometimes the accuracy loss can be significant.  Sometimes you only have the one shot and you better know where the round will go.

All this boils down to know thy rifle and how it shoots.  You are better off having only one rifle and knowing how it shoots than to have 50 and no idea how any really shoot. The mechanics of a great shot is not about how expensive your rifle is, it is about how well you know your rifle and how it and you shoot in various conditions and with different ammo.  Ballistics calculators take some of the guess work out of where the bullet will go, however a great shot takes lots of on and off range practice and is as the saying goes if it was easy everyone would do it.

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