Friday, August 21, 2015

Desert Eagle .50 AE Now in Stainless Review

Desert Eagle .50 AE Now in Stainless with Integrated Comp

Stainless steel has become the go to materials for everything from stoves, kitchen outdoor appliances, automotive, architectural materials, throughout the firearms industry and pretty much everything in life… so many asked why there was not a Stainless Steel Desert Eagle amidst every other conceivable finish.

As I have noted in my previous reviews, the Desert Eagle is the quintessential diva of the firearms industry with its sasquatch sized proportions, limited runs of the premium finishes, $1200+ price tags, tough to use ergonomics, it requires extremely hot premium ammo for reliable operation, and of course the $50 magazines. The gun is not cheap to purchase, own or operate by any stretch of the imagination.  Durability though became a confusing point for many owners. Sure the original black oxide finish was pretty durable and the gun itself was a beast of a gun, however with the fancy finishes, many people started to believe it was a gun that needed to coddled.

Enter the brand new all Stainless Steel Magnum Research Desert Eagle offered in .50AE.  MRI wanted to assure that there were no doubts to the durability of this gun and now are offering the .50AE model in all stainless steel to the rabid cheering Desert Eagle fans. Now, you can put the full torturous beat down on the Desert Eagle and still have it look factory fresh with nothing more than a touch up with a scotch brite pad.

The new model is made entirely in the USA plant and features an integrated 1913 lower picatinny rail and an an integrated compensator. The new comp delivers all the benefits of taming this 1400 ft/lbs energy beast. I have steel plates in my arms which usually make .44 Magnum revolvers painful to shoot, however even I could dump a magazine full of rounds rather quickly and painlessly even with my typical recoil sensitive arm.

The integrated compensator design cuts about 1.25” off the total length of the gun compared to the add on compensator models. You do loose a little velocity with the overall shorter barrel, however I don’t think anyone will feel they are suffering from a loss of power from this round.  The Hornady .50AE rounds deliver around 1400 ft/lbs energy, which is still stupid powerful. The .50 A&E round remains one of the top powerhouse handgun rounds made, however now the stainless construction with added rails and integrated comp add a bit more durability and features to the giant gun shooting this round.

This new stainless model is also fully compatible with the existing .357 magnum, .44 magnum, and 50AE Desert Eagle models. As shown, I can easily and quickly swap the slide, magazine, and barrel over to my .357 Magnum model and the .357 components over to the new stainless model. The .44 Magnum and.50 AE models use the same bolt and only require a barrel and magazine swap. Most people really think of the Desert Eagles as a single caliber guns, however with a few barrel and caliber swaps, you can really have some impressive versatility to take advantage of the accuracy the gun can deliver.

I will admit I was not a fan of the Desert Eagel until I shot one, however now I have a hard time not taking it to the range every outing. Its a gun you really want, but after you shoot one, you instantly become a fan of the really impressive accuracy. The new Stainless Steel version most will certainly be a popular hit at only around $200 more than the standard model and can take anything you can dish out and still look factory fresh.


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Magnum Research -

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Burris XTR II 3-15x50mm Scope Review

Burris XTR II 3-15x50mm Scope Review

One of the trends I am seeing in the market are optics manufacturers really starting to push themselves again to deliver exponential jumps in quality. The Burris’ premier XTR II lineup at this year’s SHOT show was definitely one of those optics which is pushing the limits within Burris and is the company’s new flagship optic line.

The original XTR v1 line of scopes was a huge success for Burris, but customers were asking for even more. Not only did Burris deliver a crystal clear 5-time zoom range on this XTR II 3-15x50mm optic, but they upped the tube thickness by 25% over the original. Burris also configured the optic design as a FFP - First Focal Plane scope. FFP is the hot feature among precision and sniper rifle shooters the last few years which in essence zooms the reticle with the magnification changes. 

The result is that whatever holdover you have on the BDC or Mil-dot is the same at any magnification; in this case from 3X all the way through 15X. The big thing with FFP reticles is that this design makes elevation and wind holdovers simple and easy without having to think about what magnification you are on. If you have a 300-yard target and that is the second dot down based on your zero, then no matter what magnification you are on that same holdover will deliver the same shooting solution. Pretty cool. When comparing this to a BDC equipped standard second focal plane scope, the reticle does not zoom, so you hold at the maximum range is not the same at the minimum range.

I choose the G2B Mil-Dot reticle which is a mil-based reticle for my custom AR 308 build featuring components from Aero Precision, JP Rifles, Feddersen, FailZero, and The Mako Group. The G2B Mil-Dot reticle has hash marks in between the mil dots for more precise aiming, distance measurement, holdover and hold-off for wind. The adjustment is calibrated in MRads or more typically known as “Mils” which matches the Mil-Dot reticle gradient. If you see your shot slatter 1 mil to the left you can make that adjustment without doing laborious math to convert what you read in the reticle with a turret adjustment. Burris notes the XTR II this G2B reticle is a “versatile, combat proven reticle that is ideal for mid-to long-range tactical shooting”, however I think it offers a lot even for the less competitive shooter.

There is a lot to love about this very high tier optic. At around $1000 on the street, this optic is not for everyone and is up there with the premium Japanese and German optics companies. For the quality it is a great deal and considerably less expensive than many competitors with similarly featured $1500-$2200 priced optics. The glass is just freaking unbelievably crisp and clear, but this is what you get in the higher tier of optics. Let’s not forget that Burris and Steiner are owned by the same parent company so… I don’t think it's a stretch of the imagination that Steiner engineering and technology had a hand in Burris upping its already exceptional game a bit more.

What Burris delivered with the XTRII really sets the bar for the rest of the market to catch up to outside of maybe Vortex. They have everything packed into this optic with the exception of laser ranging. You have the new style thicker and heavier duty and allegedly brighter 34MM tube, big ass audible click turrets. The turrets MRad adjustments are matched to the Mil-Dot reticle (as they always should be) are zero-able and even feature a resettable zero-stop. There is that very cool FFP design everyone is asking for Christmas, and the reticle is even illuminated.

Now I generally have some serious gripes about illuminated reticles because most companies try to deliver sunlight red dot illumination brightness, however in this case Burris delivered perfection. Too many times, manufacturers make illuminated reticles for daytime use and thus far too bright for the night work they were originally developed for. The illumination on this 3-15x50mm XTR II delivers eleven settings of illumination from “I can barely see a hint of the reticle in a dark closet in the basement with the lights off” to something brighter and useable at dusk. Burris has also included off positions between each illumination setting so you don’t need to cycle through all the brightness settings just to turn the reticle illumination on or off.

Burris even has a well thought out side focus knob which is neither interfered by the illumination knob, nor interferes with it… and then there is the huge magnification range. Normally you would see a 3-10x or 3-14, but here we have a scope that can deliver everything you might need on very close (maybe too close) targets all the way out to the distant capabilities of the shooter with a 15x magnification.  This is a very nice setup affording the shooter lots of flexibility. The range is also one of the widest magnification ranges on the market. Bushnell, Nikon, and Vortex top tier models are almost there with similar features and arguably similar optic quality, however from a price and quality perspective the XTR II is a very attractive option when you add in all the features. Burris has just put in all into an exception package that just works.

I did initially have this optic on my FN SPR and then on a Remington 700 Sniper build with a fancy KRG chassis, however I felt this optics abilities were outrunning the speed of me on the bolt action. On 3x this is a very fast optic which delivers the same point of aim even through the entire magnification range. In the end, I felt this optic was best placed on a semi-auto which could really use the wide zoom magnification range and the extremely user friendly FFP reticle. Some may read that previous sentence and know that I needed a semi-auto for the fast follow up shot I missed the first time… maybe so, however this scope makes it easy to zoom in a bit and still use the same exact hold.

I am not one of those guys who likes or enjoys figuring out the math on a reticle calibrated for 15x when I need to be at 3x of magnification. For me, simpler is better and I like the FFP concept both in theory and in use. Literally just print out a ballistics card noting all the holdover points for your pet round and you are good to go at any magnification. This is a great optic which deserves to be on a rifle that can deliver the accuracy and do it quickly. There is a lot to love about this scope and not much at all to hate and probably the reason I tightened it onto one of my most expensive and accurate AR30 builds to date.

XTR II™ Riflescope 3-15x50mm

All hand-fitted internal assemblies are triple spring-tensioned for absolute shockproofing, even under severe recoil. They are vibration resistant, even on extended vehicular patrols.

- Zero Click Stop adjustment knobs let you quickly and easily revert back to the original yardage setting without counting clicks
- Advanced windage and elevation adjustments are fast and easy; accurate and repeatable reticle adjustments match the measurement system of the reticle
- High-grade optical glass provides excellent brightness and clarity with lasting durability
Index-matched Hi-Lume® multicoating aids in low-light performance and glare elimination, increasing your success rate
- Double internal spring-tension system allows the scope to hold zero through shock, recoil, and vibrations
- Waterproof
- Nitrogen-filled body tubes prevent internal fogging in the cold and rain
- Precision-gauged and hand-fitted internal assemblies maintain a consistent point of impact through the magnification range, regardless of shock and vibration
- Solid, 1-piece outer tube is stress-free and durable; withstands shock and vibration from even the heaviest-recoiling calibers
- Covered by the Burris Forever Warranty™

Item Number: 201031, 201032, 201030
Magnification: 3x-15x
Objective Lens Diameter: 58 mm
Clear Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Ocular Lens Diameter: 44.25 mm
Finish: Matte
Focal Plane: FFP
Main Tube Size: 34 mm
Field of View: 36 low – 7.5 high (ft. @ 100 yds.)
Eye Relief: 3.50 – 4.25 in.
Exit Pupil: 11 low – 3.3 high (mm)
Click Value: 1/10 mil; 100-Click Knob (201031)
1/4 MOA; 100-Click Knob (201032)
1/10 mil; 80-Click Knob (201030)
Elevation Adjustment, Total Capability: 110 MOA
Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA from center.
Windage Adjustment: 55 MOA
Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA in any direction from center.
Parallax/Focus: Side focus/PA
Adjustable Parallax: 50 yds. – infinity
Length: 14.13 in.
Weight: 30.90 oz.
Illumination Control: Rotary dial; intermediate "battery saver" stops
Illumination Settings: 11 brightness settings
Battery: CR2032
MSRP $1200-$1260


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Other Products Featured in this Article
Aero Precision Receivers
Weaver Optics Rings
Feddersen Barrels
The Mako Group Sniper Stock
Magpul Grip
JP Rifles Trigger, Ambi-Selector, Handguard
Fail Zero Bolt Carrier Group

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Hammer Fired Pistols Still Rock

Why Hammer Fired Pistols Still Rock

Yes, I know... Gasp, someone still likes a pistol that is not striker fired. I have owned and carried a wide variety of hammer fired pistols including the H&K P30 line, Berettas, Smith & Wessons, Sig DOA 224SAS, and even some of the hybrid pistols like Walther PPX which "feel" like striker fired pistols even though they have most of the attributes of a hammer fired gun. I have grown to love these great pistols in a different way similar to the way I still regard revolvers.

Striker fired pistols certainly have become the go to design these days because of the simplicity of the concept pioneered by Glock all those years back. It has become a design which is replicated industry-wide in different ways to get around Glock's patents, however the core concept is the same and they all "feel" like striker fired pistols with trigger safeties, short take ups, and short fast resets. Most even offer a Glock'esk style trigger reset only requiring a 1/4 or 1/2 movement of the slide to reset the trigger.

Then on the other side you have double action "style" hammer fired pistols which have as many variations as the striker fired models, however the triggers typically "feel" more like revolvers with long initial take ups and longer feeling resets, but in most cases a better feeling final trigger break. If you happen to have a double action pistol with an un-bobbed exposed hammer, you even have the option to cock the hammer on the first shot to take advantage of the single action trigger break delivering greater accuracy.

Theoretically More Accurate - Many people including myself feel that a hammer fired pistol are typically more accurate due to one annoying issue on striker fired pistols - the twang. To some degree, striker fired pistols always have a bit of a twang upon the release of the trigger due to the sear design which is takes a lot of dry firing practice to overcome the sight picture disturbance. A simple demonstration of this is the factory tested accuracy versus that of even outstanding shooters. During my tour of Glock, I watched as they Ranson rest tested every gun going out the door and their accuracy expectation was 1/4"-1/2" grouping at 25-yards, but most Glock shooters have a hard time doing that at 7-yards even supported off sandbags. The explanation is the sight disruption at the point of the click and twang.  A good old fashioned hammer fired sear engagement generally "feels" crisper and more immediate without the target disruption. I have heard many folks note that a hammer fired pistol always delivers better accuracy for them because they don't like striker fired triggers. Dry fire your typical striker fired pistol versus a hammer fired model in single action mode with the hammer back and you tell me which is easier to keep on target through the trigger pull cycle. I love Glocks and carry them predominantly, however my Sig, S&W and H&K all deliver a trigger feel which does not disturb my sight picture as much for me.

Theoretically More Reliable - Though most would argue that striker fired guns have proven themselves amazing reliable, they cannot overcome one typical noted but rare issue; ammo ignition failure. Through many years and tens of thousands and thousands of rounds, I have only experienced this malfunction three times in my life with factory loaded handgun ammo. In each and every case, the round was inspected, rechambered and shot just fine on this second strike. Of course double actions have the ability to double strike any round with just a second trigger pull that does not fire without the whole extraction process. If you are not a heavily trained tap-n-rack gunner this could be the difference between life and death.

Training is More Fun - Training is probably my biggest reason for loving a double action pistol. Your dry fire training is a whole lot more fun and can be continuous without the 1/2 rack required to reset the trigger like a striker fired gun. Just keep pulling that trigger and you can keep dry firing the gun. Add in one of the LaserLyte Laser training inserts and a few of their LaserLyte trainer targets and you can have a ton of serious training fun in the quiet confines of your living room.  Sure you are pulling a full double action trigger each time, however I would note that this is the most critical trigger control step to master.  The training concept is one reason I probably have more time lately behind my Sig 224SAS and H&K P30L and P30SK pistols than my striker fired pistols, because it's simply a hell of a lot more fun than racking a slide in between each shot.

Potentially Safer - A longer trigger pull has shown to be "potentially safer" in a higher stress situation simply due to a longer and sometimes heavier trigger pull. Simply put it takes more conscious thought to makes the gun go bang than it does with the typical short takeup and relatively light trigger pulls of a striker fire pistol. Remember all those police agencies which upgraded to a 12lb NY trigger to reduce accidental shootings during stress. Obviously, I strongly advocate keeping you damn finger off the trigger unless you intend on firing, however there was enough of a notable problem within police departments with this that many departments mandated a heavy trigger. The roughly 1/2" longer trigger pull on the first shot of a Double Action pistol seems to negate that entire issue. Statically it would seem they are potentially safer and less prone to accidental discharge from negligent finger placement.

I am a Glock fanatic, have a GlockID and probably have more Glocks than all my neighbors combined, however that still does not displace my love for a hammer fired pistol. Sig Sauer, Beretta, and H&Ks all offer something unique to for the shooter and with a few potential advantages in the process. Since we all know you will not honor the "Honey I swear this is the last gun I will ever buy" commitment you have made, I recommend considering a hammer fired pistol to add to your arsenal. After all, I gave you some great points above and you could always tack on "...but honey, I didn't have one like this..."

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New Magpul 10/22 Hunter X-22 Stock

New Magpul 10/22 Hunter X-22 Stock

Back at this year’s SHOT show I was given a peak of a prototype 10/22 chassis. Being a Ruger 10/22 fan with over a dozen various custom 10/22 rifles I was thrilled to say the least.  The Magpul stock I saw then now was just released to the public as of August 2015.

According to Magpul’s marketing, “The Magpul Hunter X-22 Stock is an ergonomic, full-featured stock for the popular Ruger 10/22 rifle.

Made from high quality reinforced polymer, the Hunter X-22 features an ergonomic grip, adjustable length of pull and comb height to fit a wide variety of shooters, multiple sling mounting options, a non-slip rubber butt pad, and M-LOK slots for accessory attachment.

The Hunter X-22 fits standard Ruger 10/22 .22 LR pattern rifles with no gunsmithing, and a reversible barrel tray ensures proper fit with factory pencil profile as well as heavy bull barrels.”

I am looking forward to putting one of these very flexible Ruger 10/22 compatible chassis to the test.  Look for an upcoming custom build soon featuring this new stock.


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Magpul -

XLR Industries Tactical Lite Carbon Remington 700 Chassis Review

XLR Industries Tactical Lite Carbon Remington 700 Chassis Review

So continues the string of reviews featuring and reviewing all the various Remington 700 aftermarket chassis including this stunning XLR Industries Tactical Lite Carbon chassis. From my perspective, this is the most beautiful aftermarket Remington 700 chassis you can buy which still delivers everything a tactical, LEO, competitive, or Military shooter could want.

The main question everyone will ask is why go to the trouble and expense to move from a factory stock to a billet chassis system like this XLR Industries Tactical Evolution stock or a premium target stock? There are a number of reasons to upgrade, however the most popular reason is consistency and improved accuracy due to a platform which is not affected by weather and humidity, and provides the same positive and precision grip/bedding on the action from shot to shot. These higher end chassis also free-float the barrel for the best possible accuracy from your Remington 700 barreled action and in most cases feature positive mechanical bedding which further increases accuracy and negate the need for the mess of resin or epoxy bedding the action.

Accuracy Improvement - That barrel free floating and mechanical bedding systems delivers an accuracy improvement. Every billet Remington 700 chassis I have tested has shown to deliver about the same 15% accuracy improvement over the factory Hogue stock. For example, this reduced my best 100-yard .65”-ish groups down to just over .5” and my more typical .8”-.9” groups down to the .7”-.75” mark. Not transformational, however it is an improvement and delivers more consistent groups which could make a huge difference at 800-1000 yards. I can only speculate based on my experience, but this stock in combination with a match trigger upgrade could increase accuracy by as much as 30% depending on your trigger.

Magazine fed Conversion - Most of the aftermarket chassis, including this XLR stock, also deliver integrated AICS style box magazine compatibility which saves you around $200 for a “bottom metal” AICS compatible magazine adapter for your factory stock. So instead of just a three or four round floor plate style magazine, you can feed your precision beast with 10-rounds at a time and delivers the ability to quickly reload or conveniently unload the rifle without "dumping" your rounds on the ground. AICS obviously makes various capacity magazines however ALPHA, Magpul, and MDT all also offer great options as well. The ALPHA are my favorite simply because they are a very compact double stack design.

Comfort - Yet another benefit of these chassis are that they are typically ergonomically and stability optimized for prone or benchrest shooting positions which deliver more long term shooting comfort behind the gun over long periods of lying or sitting down. 

Most find there is a world of difference in comfort and fit when they get behind one of these chassis. If you want the best accuracy possible from your Remington 700 Action and additional features, then it makes sense to look at one of these chassis systems. Of course the obvious point I should make is that these target and sniper chassis are usually pretty heavy and are not really for field rifles that you are going to lug around for miles or use for a brush/walking stalk hunt. The purpose built chassis are designed for the most part to be supported with a bipod or sandbags and deliver the stability to increase long-range precision.

Adjustability & Customization - XLR are the newer kids on the block when it comes to billet Remington 700 chassis however people are going a bit nuts over them due to the impressive comfort, adjustability and the huge breadth of chassis offered for various guns as well as customization options.

All the XLR buttstocks are fully adjustable for cant, cheek rest position, cheek rest height, length of pull, and buttpad height. You can get insanely comfy behind this rifle. About the only thing it is missing from a comfort perspective is a memory foam pillow. The base of their buttstocks are angled to work with sandbags for elevation adjustments when prone or on the bench.

Easy Upgrade - Among the many different bolt actions XLR offers billet chassis for, the Remington 700 short and long action are of course by far the most popular. Shooters get a drop in stock replacement which delivers everything the professional and amateur shooter could ever want in a precision stock with literally every aspect of the stock is adjustable all while remaining completely backward compatible with off the shelf Remington upgrade components.

The quality is stunning. Made from 6061 T-6 US sourced virgin billet. As with all the XLR industries chassis, the Carbon series is available with any of XLR’s own billet buttstocks. In this case I choose their Tactical Lit stock, so this chassis I am testing is called the Tactical Lite Carbon. If I had selected the Standard buttstock, this model would have been the Standard Carbon. Hopefully you get the idea of their naming convention of the models.

XLR stocks all accept AR15 grips, however it comes with the best one I could ever come up with to put on a rifle like this. The grip is a soft rubber santoprene style ergonomic grip - feels awesome. XLR’s chassis can accept “some” AR15 buttstocks, however why would you go there when XLR’s are better, more adjustable, higher quality, in some cases lighter, and less expensive starting at only $180. XLR’s folding $115 stock adapter can also be added to any of the stocks.

The Carbon chassis has been lightened via a milled skeletonizing which according to XLR does not reduce strength or rigidity. I would fully expect one of their chassis to appear in a Bond film at some point due to amazing looks. Admittedly XLR’s Carbon is the most eye catching of the XLR line with the hexagonal carbon fiber forend which provides many picatinny rail mounting options. The carbon fiber forend is fully free-floated and provides all the advantages of carbon fiber to the shooter. The primary advantages are light weight, duribility, and a stay cool heat dispersion. Plus ya, know it just looks freaking awesome. The XLR Carbon chassis is one of the lightest billet sniper chassis systems on the market.

Where the XLR Element and other similar open top chassis allow you to just drop in an existing Remington 700 setup, the Carbon Chassis has that front forend and receiver trunnion to contend with. In my case I had to swap out both the extended length Xtreme Hardcore Gear 30MOA base and their gorgeous billet rings I already had used for testing on the other sniper chassis. The based was too long and hit the forend trunnion and the rings were too short and didn't allow the scope to clear the forend. Thanks to Brownells coming to the rescue with a steel base and tall Weaver 34mm rings for the new very premium FFP (First Focal Plan) Bushnell Elite scope I used for testing. That fitment ended up changing the entire build. It was a a bit of a pain in the butt to need to re-order and buy all new parts, so this would be the potential notable downside of this chassis. If you are building up a precision rifle with this chassis or any enclosed forend style chassis, I would forewarn you that great attention should be paid to the required base and ring height before you start buying items. This is where XLR's other upen top Element chassis design makes things a bit easier during setup.

The Carbon chassis is not a 2 min chassis swap like the XLR Element. The Carbon stock needs to have the forend and trunnion removed for installation of the action. Once I dropped my Remington 700 SPS AAC .308 action in, the forend is re-assembled back on the chassis. Not a long or involved process, however it does take about 15 minutes versus the 2min swap on the Element chassis.

While I had the action apart and was waiting on the new base, rings and optic to arrive, I added a few upgrades to the action. I did add a really cool looking and great performing Strike Industries Cookie Cutter Brake. The brake is not quite but it works well and adds an awesome look to the build. My Timney Match Remington 700 trigger also arrived. The factory Remington trigger is pretty good, however the Timney trigger is still worlds better. This coupled with the high end Bushnell Elite Tactical optic upgrade and XLR Carbon chassis swap did deliver a bigger improvement than other stocks when compared to my stock Remington. This setup delivered about a 30-40% improvement in groups - likely the extra accuracy was thanks to the Timney trigger and upgraded Bushnell scope.

Remington 700 SPS AAC Tactical barreled action, Brownells Steel Remington 700 SPS scope base,  Weaver Tactical 34mm High rings, Bushnell Elite Tactical 3-15x 34mm scope, Timeny Match 2lb trigger, Strike Industries Cookie Cutter Brake, and KRG Bolt Lift bolt handle.

By far my favorite XLR chassis. Considering the stunning beauty of this chassis and craftsmanship, extra milling, and carbon fiber, the Carbon Tac Lite is XLR’s most expensive at $900. It is a deal, wrapped up in a attractive design that actually, you know… performs as good as it looks.  This chassis represents everything I could want in one chassis.

Carbon Fiber Forend
6061 T-6 billet action block
Type 2 Class 2 anodized finish
12 inch or 14 inch hand guard
Ergo overmold tactical AR grip
Right or left hand configurations
Fully adjustable stock
Sling ready
Single shot or DBM setup
No gunsmithing required
Made in U.S.A
MSRP $920 + Optional $115 Stock Folder Adapter


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Other Products Featured
Brownells -
Remington  -
Strike Industries -