Sunday, December 29, 2013

MMC Mennie Machine Company Tactical C16.1 AR15 Review

MMC Mennie Machine Company Tactical C16.1 AR15 Review

Let’s face it, the gun industry is amazingly incestuous from a manufacturing perspective and very few folks actually make their own parts.  Generally I am not a big fan of most “me too” AR15 companies that are popping up lately.  Most are just screwing together parts from boxes, however some offer something unique and/or have deep machining backgrounds and are actually making their own parts. In the case of MMC they have both.  They have been running AR15 parts for sometime as an OEM manufacturer, so offering completely in-house made rifles was not a stretch. I picked up a lightweight MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 for something light and handy and to see what this newer firearm manufacturer was delivering.



ABOUT MMC MENNIE MACHINE COMPANY
Mennie Machine is not some startup CNC company popped up overnight in order to take advantage of the AR15 market explosion.  MMC was established way back in 1970 and became a prime contractor for the U.S. Government for building high-grade Military components. Over the years they have produced everything from military, automotive, diesel and heavy equipment industries and of course firearms parts. Today Mennie Machine Company has over 300 employees and a 225,000 square foot facility with approximately 180 CNC machines in a ISO/TS 16949:2009 certified facility. By contrast, most large firearms manufacturers are no where near this large or have all these in house capabilities and certifications. They know precision machining, manufacturing, assembly and even distribution. The challenge for MMC will be the name.



MMC is facing a bit of a confusing branding issue, for instance MMC Mennie Machine Company should not be confused with MMC Moores Machine Company who allegedly had some very serious challenges with quality, production, and customer service or MCC Matthew Carbine Company which produces extremely high quality 80% billet lowers, MMC Mennonite Central Committee which is against guns, MMC Firearms Incorporated, or even MCC Montgomery Community College… MMC and MCC are apparently popular acronyms. My advice to MMC, the Mennie Machine Company as a very new brand would be to re-brand quickly to maybe “Mennie Defense” since it is a separately operated division anyway and to avoid the confusion especially with the problematic Moore Machine Company legacy. But what do I know.. I just develop the marketing strategy at a senior level for a Fortune 100 company.



FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES
The first thing to note is that outside of the springs, trigger, Troy Forend, grips and stock, MMC is making all other parts 100% in house. Yes even the entire Bolt Carrier Group, buffer tube, receivers, and detents are made in house. Mennie could obviously make the forend as well and even the grips and stock due to its ability to form plastics as well. Only a couple other AR15 manufacturers can make this claim of in house production which absolutely ensures product spec and source quality. With that noted, MMC is delivering a top notch quality AR15.



The assembly was nice and tight and all the pins were driven in with care without marking up the receivers. All the aluminum bits were nicely Type III anodized which you would expect, however a major upgrade is that all the steel bits including barrel, gas block, even detents and pins are all nitrocarburized (i.e. melonited) for protection. MMC NiBo (Nickel Boron) coats their Bolt Carrier Group.  The BCG is a very nice component that is full auto rated, MPI tested, with a staked gas key. 



MMC own combat muzzle brake design on the Tactical C16.1 AR15 is excellent. It is basically the size of a standard A2 birdcage flash hider but still delivers excellent performance keeping overall length to a minimum.  The compensator even includes a wire cutting notch. I am sure MMC will sell these $60 comps by the truckload.


Mennie Machine includes their own Enhanced Trigger kit which is nitride coated and tuned to deliver a 5lb brake with minimal take up and a shorter reset. It is not a match trigger, but considerably smoother, crisper and lighter than typical stock triggers.  It reminds me of an ALG Defense trigger which are probably the best stock triggers around. With the nitride coating the trigger does take up smoothly and break cleanly.


The gas block is a clean standard melonited unit with a stainless gas tube mounted up to MMC’s own tapered 16.1” pencil profile.  The tapered barrel design drops a lot of weight even over a standard M4 design.  To maintain accuracy MMC has extended and tapered the barrel near the receiver to deliver a bit more stiffness and heat tolerance at the highest stress area on the barrel.  This longer extension seemed to enhance accuracy a bit during sustained fire or may be is was the all the high tech gadgetry MMC uses to chamber the barrels. They use four coordinate measuring machines and contour inspection machines to select the optimal chambering position instead of just ramming a reamer into chamber the barrel like a lot of companies do. Its a process that maximizes chamber to bore alignment on the barrel and improves accuracy.


Other features on the Tactical C16.1 AR15 include the proven Troy 13” Alpha Rail, ambidextrous charging handle, and a standard AR grip. MMC does include my favorite Rogers Super-Stoc multi-position buttstock which locks down solid unlike any other stock out there. One very unique tweak Mennie Machine does to its 6-position buffer tube is to polish the interior. This internal buffer tube polish smooths out the feel of hand cycling and significantly quiets cycling noise as rounds zip downrange. unique looking but very durable  MMC does not make the waffle cut 30-round polymer magazine which performed perfectly on the range.


MMC is starting to do some of their own molding such as the and extended polymer trigger guard. I think they did a great job on the trigger guard as well. All cool touches made in house which I hope they will expand to develop their own grip. A smooth fatter finger-grooveless grip similar to the Magpul grip would be my vote.


Overall quality from part to part was excellent for good reason.  MMC environmentally stabilizes all parts prior to measurement in a lab environment on top of tool, machine inspection schedule intervals and post part inspection and quality control of parts rolling out of machines.


Each rifle is assembled in a precision jig to assure alignment of each part and minimize damage to the rifle.


FUNCTIONS & ACCURACY
In these days of ammo shortage, I simply cannot toss 1000 rounds at a gun to test it like I used to, however I did run a couple hundred rounds of reloads and factory ammo through the MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15. A Eotech 512 was mounted up and I went to work killing paper and steel. What I found was a very consistent shooting AR with surprising accuracy and zero functional issues.  Everything worked as it should and the compensator delivered a noticeable reduction in both recoil and muzzle rise. As equipped the C16.1 is a nice light and fast shooting gun.


For accuracy I broke out boxes of the usual suspects with ammo from Hornady, Federal and Winchester to see what the rifle could do. Even with the less expensive Federal American Eagle ammo, I still managed ragged 1”-100 yard groups with my Nikon 8-32 Monarch Gold topping the gun for accuracy testing. Moving up to the premium target/match ammo lines, I still saw very good consistency, however my groups dropped down to the .75” group range with one good group with Hornaday 75gr TAP ammo coming in at .72”. I am sure some of this accuracy is due to MMC’s tapered barrel design and high tech chamber centering/cutting features, but frankly I was a little surprised that a light weight barrel delivered this accuracy.


FINAL THOUGHTS
MMC is definitely going head to head with high quality/high value brand name companies.  The $1600 MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 adds Nibo BCG, Nitrided trigger, Troy Alpha rail, ambi-charging handle, and of course the Rogers Super-Stoc over the equivalent $1500 Daniel Defense DDM4LV. 

Mennie Machine does have more high tech machining capabilities at its disposal to assure very high tolerances between all components. The result is a very good deal on a base rifle with the solid base upgrades that deliver a premium high grade military-spec rifle.  The premium battle rifle market MMC is targeting is a tough space to be in and requires a deep investment in machining, technology, quality, and as we know from Bravo Company and Daniel Defense “Branding”. MMC’s featured, machining technology, quality, and prices are all in line, but I think their next hurdle will be getting the word out in a very crowded space… maybe this article will help.


The MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 shot well, functioned perfectly, delivered surprisingly good accuracy for a lightweight barrel profile, and the compensator was excellent.  If you see an MMC AR on the shelf, pick one up. I think you will be impressed with the overall fit, finish, and quality of this new rifle company.  If you see Mennie on the side, you can be assured you are getting a very good quality rifle.



SPECS
UPPER RECEIVER - Machined from 7075 T6 to Mil-Spec, Indexing Marks, M4 Feed Ramps, hard coat anodize
LOWER RECEIVER - Machined from 7075 T6 to Mil-Spec, Flared Magazine Well, hard coat anodized
BARREL - 16.1" 4150 CrMV Steel 1:8 twist, Mid-length Gas System, nitride treated, M4 extension, modified Pencil Barrel
CHAMBER - 5.56 NATO
TRIGGER - Enhanced nitride treated Mil Spec single stage trigger, creep adjusted, polished engagement surfaces, crisp 5 lb break
MUZZLE - Compensator
BOLT CARRIER GROUP - Nickel Boron coated (lubeless operation), full auto rated, MPI test, staked gas key
GAS BLOCK - MMC Armory Low Profile Gas Block
CHARGING HANDLE - Ambidextrous, hard coat anodize
HANDGUARD - TROY 13" Alpha Handguard
BUTTSTOCK - Rogers Superstoc & 6 position Mil-Spec Polished Buffer Tube
MAGAZINE - 30 round polymer in black
PISTOL GRIP - Polymer A2 Style Grip
TRIGGER GUARD - Flat trigger guard
MSRP $1639

SOURCES


Saturday, December 28, 2013

CRKT Chogan T-Hawk Survival Axe Review

CRKT Chogan T-Hawk Survival Axe Review
Lately it would seem that all the old hand to hand combat and survival tools are coming back in vogue again due to troops starting to understand that sometimes a knife, sword, or axe comes in more handy than a gun. In the past decade we have seen the word “combat” or “tactical” become attached with swords, tomahawks and axes and new unique designs and some classics making a huge comeback. Tomahawks have actually become one of the fastest growing cutting tool segments in the military simply because they can open crates, doors, be used for making barricades and small structures in the field, for personal defense, … and the list goes on. In short, they are very handy tools to have around when you are on your own in hostile territory.
Ryan Johnson is the primary designer and president of RMJ Tactical has been honing his tactical axe/tomahawk designs for over 30-years. His designs have developed a fan base in the military special forces community do to their size, utility and toughness. One of his more popular design was used as a base to develop the CRKT Chogan and Kangee T-Hawks tomahawks. These two designs are nearly identical which the exception that the Kangee has a pointed spike on the non-chopped edge and the Chogan has a blunt hammer type edge.  The result of the collaboration was a very effective Ryan Johnson styled tomahawk that retails on the street for around $100 as an affordable option the custom made $450 Ryan Johnson handmade custom originals.
FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTION
Like all CRKT knives their overseas production is of very high tolerances and quality and for $100, the Chogan is own of the best deals in tactical tomahawks.  Chogan features a full tang construction made of SK5 Carbon steel for high durability and edge holding and then finished a with black powder coat to provide rust and corrosion resistance. The glass filled nylon handles are bolted on for security and feature a textured finish that provided me plenty of grip even when my hands were wet. The handle area includes multiple lashing points to provide ultimate flexibility to the user.
At only 14” long and nearly .25” thick steel, the CRKT Chogan is easy to pack, however CRKT went a step further and includes a MOLLE compatible belt sheath which protects the user and his equipment from accidental cuts.  The Chogan snaps into the sheath however CRKT has included a snap clasp closure for added security. Also included is a long sling that can be attached to the sheath to carry the Chogan T-Hawk over the shoulder.
The handle is a versatile design that can be comfortably retained in a number of grips from very high for precision bushcraft detail tasks with the cutting edge to a low reverse grip to use the hammer head.  I broke down a paper pallet to feed my Roundboy pizza oven and the chore was surprisingly quick with the T-hawk.
One of the features I have to address is the shaving sharp edge that the Chogan T-Hawk is capable of obtaining. Out of the box the T-Hawk was paper slicing sharp compared to any factory axe, however after a few passes with my fine ceramic steel I was able to shave a nice clean strip down my arm.  Pretty impressive for a tomahawk with an edge designed from a durability perspective.  This keen knife edge sharpness elevates the usefulness of the CRKT Chogan T-Hawk beyond the normal capabilities of a blunt wedge shaped axe we are normally familiar with to a small camp axe that can do work normally requiring a knife. Paired with the handle’s design which allows you to really choke up on the axe head and you have a precision cutting tool that could deliver game cleaning abilities.
FINAL THOUGHTSAs a farm boy raised in the country, I have always appreciated a great hand tool. Among those tools that were handiest was a small high quality carbon steel camp axe.  This is in essence exactly what the CRKT Chogan T-Hawk is with some very nice and useful refinements that make this tomahawk more durable and flexible even in combat situations.  Not that I am running around kicking in doors, but I know folks who do and they find a high strength tactical tomahawk pretty handy.  For me this is a great all around tool that can deliver a huge set of essential functions in a survival and general hunting/outdoor game cleaning duties with its shaving sharp edge. If the need arose it would make a mighty fine combat defense weapon if I found my shotgun, AR15, and Glocks empty. For the prepper, outdoorsman, huntsman, and special operator, this is a handy lightweight tool that delivers a huge capabilities set for not a lot of money.

SPECSCRKT Chogan
Open Overall Length    14 inches
Weight    1 lb. 8.6 ounces
Blade Length    2.93 inches
Thickness    0.23 inches
Material    SK5 Carbon Steel
Blade-HRC    54-55
Finish    Black Powder Coat
Grind    Flat
Style    Axe Edge Front with Hammer
Edge    Plain
Handle Material    Glass Filled Nylon; EDM Finish
Carry System    Black Kydex Sheath with Molle Clip Platform
Weight    3.6 ounce
MSRP $185
STREET $140
SOURCES

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Updating the AK-47 - Midwest Industries Universal AK-47 rail, Burris Scout Rifle Scope, & Mission First AK-47 Grip Update

Updating the AK-47 - Midwest Industries Universal AK-47 rail, Burris Scout Rifle Scope, & Mission First AK-47 Grip Update
My Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47 chambered in the powerful and cheap to shoot 7.62x39 needed an update. With the prices of .223 these days, I found myself pushing a lot of rounds with with the AK simply due to the cost and availability of the ammo. The plastic factory forend began to fail after about a half a year of being beaten down and the accuracy due to the 4140 machined ordinance steel receiver was begging for an optic to tighten things up at distance.  Although the stock grip on the Centurion was far better than most, I still pined for one of the great AR15 style grips I was accustomed to.
Today we are fortunate to have a huge array of AK-47 aftermarket parts available from mild to wild. The challenge is that the AK-47 designs vary a little or a lot so in most cases “some fitting may be required” is a typical caveat found on most AK-47 accessory packaging.
MIDWEST INDUSTRIES UNIVERSAL AK-47 RAIL - Last year I saw Midwest Industries Universal AK-47 rail forend and noted that its design was developed primarily to work around the variances of the AK-47 design. The MI Universal AK-47 Rail design features a locking v-block style design that locks onto the barrel sandwiched between the lower and upper handguard. Once installed on the barrel it becomes a rock solid mount for all sorts of optics.  In this case, I wanted to continue to explore the Cooper Scout Rifle concept in an AK-47 format by adding a Burris Scout Rifle Scout.
Rail installation was simple. Work through the initial stages of field stripping your AK-47 until you have the forend removed. Mount the Lower Rail section and block assembly and assure it stays nice and tight with a dab of LocTite on each bolt. After the lower rail section is mounted, the top rail bolts on and you are essentially done after reassembly.  The MI Universal AK-47 rail does not require the front and rear forend trim rings, however I left them as it looks aesthetically nicer. You are now ready to mount your optic.  The rail is not too far forward that standard red dots, Eotechs feel goofy and they work just find there.  Midwest Industries does offer several versions of the rail which are direct mount compatible with many red dot models. In this case I mounted up the Burris Scout Rifle Scope and was ready to hit the range.
The quality, fit and finish are all top notch on the MI AK-47 forend. The rail is available in a variety of color options including the FDE version shown. For me the most important aspect of this rail is that it has retained zero even after some substantial hit. All around a great investment in my AK that has delivered big accuracy advantages with optics out on the range.
BURRIS SCOUT RIFLE SCOPE 2-7x32 - OK I know this is not what Burris intended when offering this scope, however my logic is a bit different. Cooper’s original scout rifle design was based on the 30-30 Winchester which a bit less powerful that the 7.62x39 AK round, but for practical hunting purposes identical. Cooper’s love for the 30-30 round and the legacy of animals taken with the 30-30 is proof that that the 7.62x39 should be just as good or maybe a bit better. Burris was really intending their Scour Rifle Scope to be mounted to something like the .308 Winchester Ruger Scout Rifle. Based on my testing, maybe they should consider it for the AK-47 as well. This is a slam dunk, holy cow, why haven't we been doing this for years kind of revelation after the first trigger pull.  The Burris Scout Rifle Scope transforms the AK-47 from decently accurate rifle to an effective 300 yard hog/deer hunter. The bullet drops are a bit different, however they lined up well enough and with my Nikon RifleHunter 1000 rangefinder and Strelok ballistic ap,  I was able to even drop rounds pretty accurately out to the 12” 400-yard gong and hold 8”-10” groups reliably at that distance. My aging eyes deliver just a bit of fuzz at 100-yards and the Burris Scout Rifle Scope was the perfect addition to get my AK out of the safe more oftne, on the range or even a hunt.
The 2-7 magnification and BDC reticle really makes a huge difference in my ability to hit things with any precision beyond the 50-yard range. I am not going to say the AK-47 is your next long range precision prairie dog precision rifle, however it delivers 1”-100 yard - 1 MOA groups and can hold that pretty well out to 200-yards after that things open up a bit to about 4” groups at 300-yards from realistic field shooting positions. All that noted, the AK-47 fits the need of a scout rifle for anything under 400-yards.
Fit and finish of the Burris is excellent and I really liked also the overall size and weight which kept things tight and light.   The Burris Scout Rifle Scope is essentially a handgun scope with a Burris Ballistic Plex which delivers approximate aiming points for shots from 100-500 yards with the 308/.223 rounds. The scope can be used as a handgun scope. When mounted to a 308 or .223 it lines up pretty well at 100, 200, & 300 yards, however 400 yards seems to align more to the 500 hash mark… your performance may vary. Once you figure out where the bullts are dropping at distance, it is pretty easy lock down pie-plate sized hits all the way out to 400-yards with the 7.62x39 AK-47 round. A great optic that would be equally at home on a handgun, scout focused AR15 or something like the Ruger Gunsite.
MISSION FIRST TACTICAL ENGAGE AK-47 GRIP - The factory grip was better than average however I wanted the ergonomics of the AR15 grips.  I reached for one of my favorite brands, Mission First Tactical for their AK-47 grip.  “Some fitting may be required” was accurate due to my billet receiver which is a bit different than typical stamped receivers.  Two minutes with the Dremel allowed me to let out the needed material on the grip to clear the handguard and I had a perfect fit. What else can I say about Mission First other than that for me they are one of the most comfortable AR15 and AK-47 grips available and I was a happy camper after this grip was installed.
MAGAZINES… I NEED MORE MAGAZINES - Generally everything on the AK-47 runs perfectly, however I had receiver some “very inexpensive” mags for testing that were so loose that I could  swear the wind could cause them the wobble and occasionally deliver a misfeed. On the other hand the Tapco AK-47 magazine have been wonderful and fit very solid, so I loaded up on Tapco AK-47 magazines during one of the pre-holiday sales to assure I had plenty of extra magazines handy and have never had a functional issue due to them.
FINAL THOUGHTS
Although I had the original two included Tapco mags included with my Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47 I am very happy I know have a supply of good mags to keep my AK running its best.  The Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter has a lot going for it and the billet receiver does make it a more stable and more accurate AK-47 than the stamped receiver versions. With the addition of the Mission First grip for comfort and the MI Handguard and Burris Scope I now have an excellent package that is considerably more accurate as the yards add up.
SPECS
MI AK47/74 Universal Handguard
Fits most AK-47s, AK-74s & Variants, Stamped & Milled
No gunsmith install. Installs in minutes using nothing but wrench included in the kit.
High quality T-marked mil-spec 913 rails for lights, lasers, and optics
Lightweight, rugged construction
Weight - 10 oz.
Made 100 un the USA of 6061 aluminum, hard coate anodized for lifetime of service
“Highest quality & most affordable AK handguard on the market”
Lifetime warranty
Available with Stanradr, Optic Specific or 30mm ML2 Topcover.
$124.95 MSRP (standard topcover)
Colors - Black FDE, OD Green
Burris Scout Rifle Scope 2-7x32
Tube Diameter: 1"
Adjustment Click Value: 1/4 MOA
Adjustment Type: Click
Fast Focus Eyepiece: Locking Ocular
Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated
Warranty: Burris Forever Warranty
Power Variability: Variable 2x-7x
Reticle Construction: Wire
Reticle: Balistic Plex
Illuminated Reticle: No
Holdover reticle: Yes
Finish: Matte
Water/Fogproof: Yes
Shockproof: Yes
Objective Bell Diameter: 1.5"
Ocular Bell Diameter: 1.5"
Eye Relief: 11.0-21.0"
Exit Pupil Diameter: 16.0-4.6mm
Weight: 13.0 oz.
Max Internal Adjustment:Windage: 66 MOA - Elevation: 66 MOA
Street $379
Mission First Tactical Engage AK-47 GripThe backstrap and finger swells are grooved to provide a non-slip grip surface. The grip angle replicates the AR-15. The grip features a secure, water-tight storage compartment
Street $19.99
Tapco AK-47 Mags
30-Round
Holds 30 rounds of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition
Designed for use in the AK-47
Double Stack
Anti-Tilt Follower
Heavy Duty Spring
Body Constructed of Reinforced Composite
Counts as 3 U.S. 922r Compliant Parts (body, floorplate, follower)
Street Price $12.99
SOURCES
Midwest Industries - https://www.midwestindustriesinc.com
Burris Optics -
http://www.burrisoptics.com
Mission First Tactical -
http://www.missionfirsttactical.com/
Tapco Intrafuse -
http://www.tapco.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nikon RifleHunter 1000 Laser Rangefinder Review

Nikon RifleHunter 1000 Laser Rangefinder Review
So you have invested the equivalent price of your first car in the dream rifle, you carefully zero’ed the rifle at 100, 200, & 300 yards to get ready for the big hunt and man can you nail it at those distances. You booked the hunting trip of a lifetime, booked the travel, took time off work and planned to blow your mind with the fun that was coming. We all invest a lot in getting to the point that we can actually take a shot on the range and/or hunt so it makes sense to actually connect with what we are shooting at and that requires knowing the yardage. For well under $400 you can assure you connect with everything from that squirrel at 15 yards to the steel gong at 800 yards.  Nikon’s RifleHunter 1000 has been more than handy investment for me in almost every shooting/hunting situation.


ABOUT NIKON 
Nikon Sport Optics is the same famed camera optics company. Nikon has become fast growing sporting optics manufacturer by delivering outstanding clarity for far less than competitors. In fact I have featured Nikon products in large number of articles because they always deliver the best my builds can deliver from their most affordable optics to the high-end Monarch Gold line.  Nikon’s optics are legendary due to their proprietary anti-reflective coatings which offer high-resolution images in most lighting conditions.


Over the years Nikon expanded its sport optics line form binoculars, to rifle & field scopes, to now a mighty fine line of rangefinders.  Nikon has a range of rangefinder that start at around $150. I picked up the RifleHunter 1000 Laser Rangefinder which is just one step down from Nikon’s top of the line Monarch Gold 1200.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
Nikon’s RifleHunter 1000 Laser Rangefinder is designed to measure distances from 11 to 1000 yards simply in a compact lightweight package. The unit delivers the shot (horizontal) distance based on Nikon’s ID Technology which compensates for incline/decline shooting angles all the way up to a near vertical +/- 89 degrees.  If your are shooting down/up a 45 degree incline and the RifleHunter 1000 shows 100-yards then ballistically you should hold zero just as you would for a 100-yard zero. No other adjustment is required - simple. I personally found this especially handy ranging tree rats (squirrels), however the Nikon would also give you the confidence to range and take the shot on that trophy ram way down below you in the gully.  The unit can also be set for light of sight (linear) distance as well if you have that need as well as swapping form yards to meters.


Operation is simple; look through the 6X monocular eyepiece, press the power button, center your target, press the power button again and about a second later the yardage is displayed in increments of .1 yard/meter out to 999.9 yards and then automatically powers off after 8-seconds… again simple.  False readings can even be minimized by using Distant target Priority Mode versus the initial First Target Priority mode setting which delivers faster measurements.


Consistency can be a bit iffy on some rangefinders. To test this I headed to my range on different days in different conditions and pulled measurements on known 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 yard distances.  After looking through all the data of six range trips, the Nikon RifleHunter 1000 only varied about half a yard from day to day which is excellent for a $386.95 MSRP rangefinder.


FINAL THOUGHTS
As the saying goes, there are hunters who own rangefinders and those that have never tried them before.  Once you try a rangefinder that is well built and easily to use, you will never hit the range or the trail without one whether you have a pistol, rifle or bow in your hand. I hear they are indispensable for golf as well.  I find that I use this tool constantly even just at the range to answer simple questions like was that 100 Meters or 100 Yards or help place target stands for proper 25M AR zeroing.  Even more, once you are in the field the Nikon RifleHunter 1000 gives you the confidence to take and make those shots that are within your practiced abilities.


SPECS
Waterproof/fogproof (except battery chamber)
Measurement Range - 11-1000 yds
Increment Reading - 0.1/1 yds
Increment Reading in ID mode 0.1/1 yds
Magnification 6x
Angular Field of View (Real) 7.5°
Angular Field of View (Apparent) 43°
Viewfinder Display meters/yards
Eye Relief 18.3mm
Diopter Adjustment +/-4°
Power Source 1 CR2 Lithium Battery
Size (Length x Width x Height) 4.6 x 2.9 x 1.6 in
Objective Diameter 21mm
Exit Pupil 3.5mm
MSRP $389.95


SOURCES
Nikon Sport Optics  - http://www.nikonsportoptics.com

Aero Precision Upper Lower Review - Who is AP?

Aero Precision Upper Lower Review - Who is AP?

There are AR manufacturers brands we know and see on the gun shelves and then there are the OEM manufacturers whose names most of use rarely if ever hear of.  These AR15 OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are the ones who make and supply brand-able components for those who assemble and sell AR brands. The vast majority of AR brands, all buy from the same base of suppliers and it becomes all about the quality of those components and the skill of the builders.


Featuring a Mission First Grip and Stock
This is a story I have been wanting to tell for some time as I think many do not realize where their AR parts are really coming from and where they are actually made.  Yep, the secret is out; because it is generally prohibitively expensive to forge, mill, and finish your own receivers, create your own barrels, and make all the other miscellaneous tiny parts, only specialized very high volume OEM shops can deliver high quality cost effective base parts for AR builds.  In the case of receivers, most brands buy uppers and lowers from a very small number of companies such as Aero Precision and have their logo milled, engraved or etched during production.  A year ago, few had heard of Aero Precision unless you are really a hard core AR nerd, however if you are an AR shooter, you have almost certainly handled or own at least one of their OEM premium quality branded upper and lower receivers.


Interestingly enough almost all the base component manufactures start and operate primarily in the aerospace industry where forging and extreme high precision machining are commonplace and quality tolerances are exponentially tighter than any requirements in the firearms industry. Obviously Aero Precision is named for the aerospace market they serve with Boeing being one of their largest clients. Aero Precision slide into the OEM firearms manufacturing business like most of its other OEM competitors after someone in the company made an initial run of receivers and then the rest become history.  In reality to the transition from aerospace production to firearms manufacturing is really more of a FFL paperwork and and extra step in shipment than any real change in production processes... parts look different but forging, milling, finishing, and QC all remain the same.

Now that you know part of the story, it begs the question what makes Aero Precision so well regarded that it has the preferred OEM manufacturer for some of the biggest names in black rifles. According to Aero Precision and a few non-disclosealbe AR brands I spoke with, who brand Aero Precision receivers, it comes down to an impeccably consistent quality. According to Charlie Silkett CEO of Aero Precision, their well respected quality is the result of carrying over the same forging and machining tolerances and quality control processes they use in their aerospace manufacturing.

THAT ALL COOL BUT WHAT DO THEY MAKE THAT I CAN BUY?
Late in 2012 Aero Precision launched a consumer facing site simply to sell it own Aero Precision AR15 products. With the political stupidity that caused the great gun rush of 2013, suddenly people found themselves on Aero’s site buying upper and lower receivers by the truckload.

Aero precision has the only monolithic type upper available in the industry thanks to a totally moronic Patent award to LMT shutting down everyone else and in the process one of the best new ideas in the industry.   Aero’s COP Continuous Optic Platform was not impacted due to their component design which is not a one-piece upper thanks to the rail modularity offered by the COP. The COP is a spectacularly strong upper receiver offering everything you want now with the ability to swap things around anytime you change your mind. Since Aero has licensed the design to another manufacturer in addition to offering it under the Aero brand.

Aero Precision also manufacturers standard Mil-Spec upper and lower receivers as well as a few unique receivers.  Aero has a very well thought out fully ambidextrous lower receiver for only $165. They also make a no-forward-assist upper receiver that still has the ejection port cover door instead of just a slick sided model.  What I have liked best about Aero is they are very very reasonably priced factory direct and even have some great deals on blems, un-anodized, and Ceracoated models, and hand matched sets. If you want it plain, naked, blem’ed or coated they have it available.  I have completed numerous builds with their receivers and never had an issue.

TOLERANCES & QUALITY CONTROL
Instead of pulling random samples, each and every receiver and part is tested with hard tolerance gauges and pins after the end of 50 unit runs.  If a tolerance or pin does not fit correctly the part specs are heavily logged and then scraped or if functional sold as a blem at a substantial discount. Within each lot Aero Precision will then pull 10%-15% of the run as samples for a full 100% CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine) inspection.  This highly detailed computer controlled measurement process is re-calibrated every twelve months and records 150 different part features (such as a bolt release slot) and correlate them against “True Position Tolerance”.  This aerospace tolerance testing gives Aero the ability to visualize part to part variances and how machining tolerances are holding.  

Aero Precision also caries over quality control process sampling and SPC Charting (Statistical Process Control). Instead of just knowing whether a part’s feature is within range, SPC Charting shows you where the tolerances were for each part in the run. The goal is to see all of the measurements groups tightly together within the control/tolerance range, but if you see part feature measurements randomly all over the control/tolerance range there may be some adjustment needed to assure consistent tolerances. “The SPC process gives us and our clients direct visibility into the quality and tolerances of our production process” according to Silkett, “and it provides us a tool in all areas of aerospace, firearms, and precision manufacturing to assure our clients receive the highest quality and consistency in the industry from run to run even comparing products between periods of years”.

When I first started reviewing Aero’s COP and lowers, they had no intention of becoming a AR parts brand, however when customer start demanding to purchase with cash in hand, its hard to say no.

FIT, FINISH, & FEATURES
Due to the cost involved, Aero Precision is taking consistently repeatable manufacturing tolerances to a level unattainable by most machine shops. The un-discloseable customers I spoke certainly believe Aero Precision delivers the most consistent and highest quality products in the industry.  Some of those features noted were a complete absence of tool and casting marks on the forged receivers, consistent and perfect fit between batches, and available options and consistency of Type III hard anodizing finish colors.

All the uppers are forged with 7075 T-6 aluminum, finish milled, Type III hard anodized, include T-markings on the 1913 spec picatinny rails, and are internally dry-lube coated for long-term smooth operation, reliability, and durability.  

NEW INNOVATION
Due to the LMT Patent debachel, LMT and Aero Precision are the only companies selling something that looks or functions like a monolithic upper. Aero’s COP (Continuous Optic Platform) is definitely the most innovative and the only which is forged. The new forged Aero Precision COP uppers are not only an incredible piece of engineering, they have been tested by the military to be the strongest monolithic upper available all while being extremely lightweight and completely modular.  The design was extremely innovative in that the COP kit is supplied with a varied array of full and partial picatiny rail, blanks, and blank/picatinny versions with sling mounts which can be swapped on and off the upper by only removing four screws.  The result is a single platform with near limitless customization that can fit current needs and change easily based on any how the shooter’s style or equipment needs change in the future.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Aero Precision uppers and lower I used are outstanding quality and I completely understand the resounding positive comments made by Aero Precision’s customers. There are a plethora of AR brands out there and I see the questions about various receiver brands online here and there.  Some of those posts ask whether Aero Precision is a good receiver brand.  Based on my experience with the three Aero Precision products, I can state that they are of exceptional quality and I would certainly not hesitate to buy any of their products after all, some of the biggest names in black rifles consider them the best.

SOURCES
Aero Precision - http://aeroprecisionusa.com/

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