Sunday, April 30, 2017

Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock

Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock

Magpul has been on an aggressive innovation design track for the last couple years with one product after another. One of the coolest products from this year’s 2017 SHOT show was the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock. Magpul took all the great features and ergonomics of their awesome X-22 stock and created a light packable version specifically for the Ruger 10/22 Takedown stock which allows for compact storage of the barrel and receiver.

The notable feature of the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock is that instead of a separate barrel and separate receiver flopping around in you pack, Magpul has designed the hand guard to lock into the under part of the buttstock. This provides an all-in-one stowable secure rifle solution which does not require a secondary soft case to keep parts from banging around.  Deployment is easy - press the release buttons on each side of the handguard and the barrel releases from the buttstock and the barrel breech is pulled from a passed hole. This little hole that the breech keys into offers protection to a critical part of the barrel which if damaged or dented could cause significant problems.

The barrel is then just slipped into the receiver like any other Ruger 10/22 Takedown model and rotated into place. Simple. This stowable feature is the big feature, but there are still plenty more Easter Eggs hidden in the stock.

From a feature perspective this is a standard sized stock with real buttpad and does not feel like the dwarf stock Ruger has included with the factory takedown models. The funny thing is that although the Magpul stock feels larger, it is actually shorter than the factory Ruger stock.  The Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock features a MOE SL compatible buttpad which means that if you want, you can extend the length of the stock by about .5” with a .7” buttpad swap. The larger size has not gone to waste. Magpul has hidden a sizeable ammo compartment and water-resistant compartment inside the stock.

The stock includes a flat and elevated cheek rest. The cheek rest is actually a hinged lid for the ammo compartment which can accommodate three full loaded 10/22 10-round magazines or one magazine and a 50-round paper box of ammo with still a little room to spare. What I liked about this compartment is that it is configurable with slip in dividers. Technically you could jam far more than 60-rounds of ammo plus other items into this space if you worked at it. The taller riser does provide additional space compared to the low riser.  Because I had AR style Techsights on my Ruger 10/22 Takedown I was able to use the high rise cheek rest and maximize my onboard storage.

The other little compartment is located in the base of the grip and is o-ringed and water resistant. The plug is quite tight so I would imagine that it should do a pretty decent job of keeping water out unless the gun was submerged either deep underwater or for an extended period. I would probably place dry tinder or matches in a secondary waterproof bag before stuffing it into this area. In this case a partially disassembled ferro rod with flammable firestarter tinder paracord fit easily into the grip with room to spare.

Though I was not able to test other Magpul accessories, the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock is compatible with Magpul QD mount inserts at four point on the stock and is compatible with the new Backpacker optic mount which provides a solid base sized for any red dot optic.

Install is so simple it only requires about five minutes and just a standard head screwdriver. Of note, the Magpul Receiver and Barrel groups both re-use the factory screws. Unscrew and remove the factory barrel band and handguard from the factory barrel assembly. Unscrew and remove the reciever from the factory buttstock and reverse the previous two processes to install the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock. Really… it could not be more simple.

I would say the gun feels world different and is infinitely easier to shoot, but I still think I would be still somehow under emphasizing the significant ergonomic upgrade over the factory stock. To be fair, the factory stock never felt even close to comfortable for me - it worked, it was just not comfortable. The Magpul’s ergonomics also felt like they delivered more stability than the factory stock. The only downside to the upgrade is that the handguard is a reduced size, but I am more than willing to make that trade for the other features the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock provides.

Even with a standard 18.5” barrel, the Magpul X-22 Backpacker Ruger 10/22 Takedown Stock delivers a disassemble 19.5” packable size. It is tiny… well no, but keep in mind this stock’s length of pull is actually about ¾-inch shorter than the factory Ruger stock. It could be slide into larger sized packs, but is still a little large for most 3-day sized packs. I am looking forward to swapping out the factory barrel for perhaps a lightweight sleeved match grade Whistlepig or Volquartsen barrel to shed a bit more weight. The bottom line is this is a really excellent stock which has some innovative features and features which solve problems like shrouding the barrel breech from damage. This is as good as it gets to pack up your Ruger 10/22 and take it with you.

The Magpul X-22 Backpacker stock takes the function of our full-size Hunter X-22 Takedown, and pares it down for ease of storage and transportation. Made for the Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle, the X-22 Backpacker offers a minimalist solution for the hunter or outdoorsman who wants to transport their rifle in an efficient, convenient package without compromising shooting performance.
Constructed of a durable advanced polymer, the X-22 Backpacker features an ergonomic hand guard, optional QD sling mounting capability, integrated storage compartment in the grip, a hinged storage compartment in the stock capable of storing up to 3 spare 10rd magazines, a MOE SL non-slip rubber butt pad, and a unique locking interface to attach the barrel assembly to the receiver when being transported. Fits all Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifles as well as the Tactical Solutions SBX barrel.
- Made in U.S.A.
- Drop-in design compatible with all factory Ruger 10/22 Takedown
​- Unique locking interface to attach the barrel assembly to the stock body when being transported
- Reinforced polymer construction for strength and durability
- Ergonomic handguard
- Comes with interchangeable standard and “optic height” cheek risers
- Optional QD sling mounting capability
- Integrated storage compartment in the grip
- Hinged storage compartment in the stock capable of storing up to 3 spare 10rd magazines
- MOE SL nonslip rubber butt pad
- MSRP $109.95


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ruger Precision Rifle .223/5.56 Nato RPR Review

Ruger Precision Rifle .223/5.56 Nato RPR Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Friday, April 14, 2017

MantisX Digital Trainer Review

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

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

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

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

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