Friday, December 11, 2020

Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool - It Works

Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool - It Works

Back many years ago a number of very high end manufacturers of receivers and match barrels had recommended lapping upper receiver faces to optimize accuracy. Some of those folks were JP Rifles, White Oak, Shilen, Lilja, Black Hole, and Hart just to name a few of the experts delivering that advice. At that point I was younger, less wise, an inexperienced builder and was happy to just screw together one AR after another. 

This advice came back to me as I was chasing down some accuracy issues with an AR15 which should have been a tack driver - instead my first couple rounds were essentially touching and then the groups would string and wander.

Having eliminated all the usual culprits of barrel nut tension, bad crown, scope mounting, I fired up a browser and picked up a Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool and a tub of Garnett Lapping compound. After using to tool to lap the face of the receiver I was shocked that the $50 investment allowed the premium barrel to deliver tight ½-MOA groups which I knew it was capable of.

THE CONCEPT OF THE BROWNELLS UPPER RECEIVER LAPPING TOOL
The concept of the Brownells Receiver Lapping Tool is pretty simple. The lapping rod is sized to slip all the way into the A15 upper receiver and is then heavily lubricated - thus providing a perfectly straight alignment which the lapping face of the tool can square up the front face of the receiver.  A little lapping compound is applied to the lapping face and the tool is spun with a simple electric hand drill, or in my case I mounted it into my drill press. The lapping tool spins and the lapping compound gently cuts and trues up the face. Usually less than a few thousands of an inch are actually removed in the lapping process. 

The process is a two-three minutes process where new fresh lapping compound is added to the face and fresh oil is added to the spindle inside the receiver. In most situations receivers only needed a little lapping to remove anodizing and true up the face. I did have a couple receivers which did require much more lapping, but that is a story a little later in the article.
Notice how the 4-o'clock to 11-o'clock
position is nice and shiny, but the
other 
11-o'clock to 4-o'clock position
is still black. Keep lapping until
the entire face is silver. Less than a few
thousands of an inch are actually
removed in the lapping process. 

VOODOO OR PHYSICS
Honestly the whole idea seemed like voodoo to me initially. I thought - Why would it make that big of a difference if the barrel is held mechanically solid by a properly torqued barrel nut? I circled back with those same experts to understand what was going on and why this tuning fix worked. The answer was simple physics and the problem is usually to do with unpredictable and often uneven anodizing and/or receiver coatings.

If the barrel extension is not perfectly squarely seated against the receiver face there will be a small gap on one side or the other. The barrel will expand as it heats and then start to wander usually toward that gap as the barrel torque begins to change. What the shooter sees is 2-3 good shots and then shots wandering off in a direction it is a good indication that receiver truing might be the solution. Another symptom is to only see their best groups while the barrel is hot. White Oak noted receiver lapping is critical, as did others, and even a well trained gunsmith. Everyone noted that a barrel will become less and less affected by barrel nut torque the more true the receiver face is.

Sure it could be something else as well. Too loose or tight of torque, a out of round barrel, bad crown, or out of spec headspacing. JP Rifles noted another culprit is too loose a fit between the barrel extension and receiver - they noted when seating the barrel, it should not drop in and wiggle around in there. JP Rifles actually sizes the barrel and receiver so tight that they need to sweat all the barrels into their receivers for the best possible receiver/barrel fit.
Mounting in a drill press allows for
less side to side lapping tool and
receiver movement and thus a better
final result.

PROOF IT WORKS
I was able to secure a group buy on 17.3” AR15 .223 chambered barrels based on Feddersen blanks. After already owning two of these barrels and several Feddersen AR15 pistol barrels, all of them have been insanely accurate ½-MOA capable barrel. Actually I have even seen ¼-MOA after long0term break in. Even the 7.5” Pistol Barrels were delivering 1” 100-yard groups - Accurate I tell ya. One of the friends had put together a build with one of the Feddersen barrels. Though an extremely capable and accomplished long-range precision shooter, he was at best seeing extremely varying 1.25” - 1.75” groups with a serious problem of the groups stringing. I offered to take a look and true up the face and assure the barrel nut was properly torqued.

The face of the “on sale $39 budget upper receiver” was extremely out of true. Where the lapping process usually only take 2-3 minutes, I spent over 10 minutes lapping down the receiver. I had never seen one this bad before so it was a great test. After cleaning and reassembling the upper for him, the friend retested and was now producing consistent ½” or better groups from the same setup and ammo. That my friends is a result and the reason I will never assemble another AR15 without first truing up the receiver face. I am now tearing down ever AR15 I have and using the Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool. I have yet to see a build which the lapping process did not improve the consistency and overall group sizes to some degree.

FINAL THOUGHTS
If you are into AR15 building and into building a quality AR15 at home, then you should consider the Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool along with tools like a good vise, punches and Geissele Action Rod. The tool has proven to me to be a critical tool to assuring accuracy on a high quality build.

SPECS
Brownells AR15 Upper Receiver Lapping Tool - $34.99
Brownells Garnett Lapping Compound - $19.99

SOURCES

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Feddersen Bronze Nickel Alloy 10/22 Receiver and Barrel Update

Feddersen Bronze Nickel Alloy 10/22 Receiver Review


Many of your know Feddersen from my numerous articles noting the mind blowing accuracy of his 10/22 barrels and also a review of his stunning Bronze Alloy 10/22 billet receiver I reviewed about a year ago. To catch everyone up in the event you have not read the above linked article, this building included:
- Feddersen 10/22 Receiver
- Kidd 1.5-lb Single Stage Trigger Unit
- Feddersen 16.25” Fluted Bull Barrel - Muzzle Threaded
- Kidd Charging Handle
- Kidd Match Bolt
- Victor Titan Stock
- The orignal Nikon 3-9 ProStaff scope worked well, but was not able to really allow this gun to stretch its legs beyond 75-yards accurately... yes beyond 75-yards.

I will save you the scroll ahead. This rig delivers sub-1" groups at 125-yards if I do my part. See attached 125-yard group with CCI Velocitor ammo. This is great news and allows me to not worry about my zero changing all while still delivered very tiny .116-inch 5-shot 50-yard groups with Lapua Center-X. Insane accuracy. I love this gun.

SHOOTING AWAY AN AFTERNOON
1-inch squares still seem a little large
for the precision of this rifle even at
125-yards
Last weekend I was able to just shoot away the afternoon nestled into a friend's range on a gorgeous 60-degree day with a pack full of ammo. These days do not get any better than that when you are just alone on the range, quietly plunking away with your Ruger Suppressor muffling the snap of the Ruger 10/22 to a quiet "plunk". There is no better therapy.

I had decided to swap to a Lucid L5 4-16 optic with parallax adjustment and a very nice fine detailed BDC reticle design. Really more than anything I wanted a very fine reticle and also wanted the BDC so I could quickly snap shots of various ranges.  The Lucid 4-16 did that beautifully. 

At this point I know that I am zero'ed at 50-yards with SKPlus Standard two hashes down for 75-yards, four hashes down for 100-yards, and six for 125-yards.  It really is pretty handy and the precision is close enough to minute of rodent hits. Super precision is just a click of two off from those reference points. 

I have Kidd, Volquartsen, Tacitacl Solutions, Clark, Stock, Whistlepig, and even Force, but time and time again the Feddersen barrels are just problem free with ammo, consistant, and super easy to just pull a SwabIt through the bore and be done. Obviously the accuracy does not suck either. This is an 1/8" gun at 50-yards with the right ammo. The prefered subsonic ammo just cannot hold it together like a hyper velocity round like the CCI Velocitor which the Feddersen loves. 





ABOUT FEDDERSEN
The company is known by many names; Feddersen, R4, 1022rifle.com, and Gunbarrels.net.  Feddersen is a name people in the industry know very well. The company was founded in 1979 by Fred Feddersen and has become rather famous for his world record breaking patented R4 SIPR .50 BMG gun barrels.  Fred prides himself on offering the straightest bores in the industry all thanks to his patented process and machines. Each and every step of their in house barrel production is unique and in fact their entire process is patented and a trade secret process.

Unlike many barrel or firearms manufacturers, Feddersen is not buying pre-rifled blanks and just finishing them to their own specs, they are producing 100% of their barrels in house from solid round bar stock.  They have a special drilling process, a patented ultra-sensitive lapping/honing process, unique patented and proprietary SEPR - Single Edged Polygonal Rifling, and one of the few companies in the world which offer a barrel with near perfect centricity and straightness between the bore and profile. 

Amazingly enough their 10/22 barrels start at only $145, The voodoo that Fred’s patented design and trade secret process delivers superb accuracy which rivals the best barrels anywhere. The 10/22 is a pet project of Fred and he continues to deliver new products for the platform including a wide variety of barrels including take-down models and also these receivers.

THE FEDDERSEN BRONZE NICKEL ALLOY 10/22 RECEIVER
Fred offers the receivers in two bronze alloys and aluminum versions. Fred decided on a high bronze content alloy to deliver several advantages.


The bronze nickel based alloys are considerably heavier than aluminum which delivers a stiffer and more substantial feeling 10/22 build which in turn should deliver improved accuracy. The Feddersen Bronze Nickel 10/22 receiver is also naturally slick and for the most part self lubricating. I can tell you that the Kidd Innovations Match bolt glides back and forth like it is on bearings - it is amazingly smooth.


Feddersen integrated an extended 1913 spec picatinny rail into the receiver. Another notable feature is the barrel trunnion v-block area is spec-ed to precisely fit a .920 bull barrel profile, so instead of a gap around the barrel, the trunnion actually provides support to assure there is no barrel droop without any special mounting requirements.

AVAILABLE FEDDERSEN 10/22 RECEIVER MODELS
Feddersen now are in full production of the 10/22 receivers in Bronze Alloy, Bronze Nickel Alloy, and Aluminum billets versions.  The Bronze Alloy Nickel Alloy are $350 retail, this silver colored Nickel Bronze Alloy $375, and Aluminum $275 billets versions. All are available on his site - https://www.1022rifle.com


ACCURACY
The Feddersen barrels alone deliver stunning sub-¼-inch 50-yard accuracy which deliver tricks such as like slicing cards at 25 to 50 yards with the right ammo. The receiver did indeed tighten up my groups even further compared to factory receivers. For this build I choose a 16.5-inch fluted bull barrel with threaded muzzle to use suppressed. A Kidd Innovations match bolt, 1.5-lb single stage trigger, and V-block were used to complete the build along with a Victor Titan stock and Nikon 3-9 ProStaff optic with adjustable objective.


My a point of impact did not change when suppressed at 50-yards with my favorite SK Standard Plus round with my AAC Ti-Rant suppressor installed or removed.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The Feddersen 10/22 receiver is something unique, delivers many features expected of top tier receivers plus the slippery benefits of bronze and the full support of a trunnion v-block area. The raw material look of the bronze alloy is also unique as nearly every other 10/22 receiver is aluminum and colored with some type of anodizing. I like there there is another high end receiver option for 10/22 builders to choose from beyond the typical options such as Kidd, Volquartsen, and Tactical Innovations. What I liked most from this receiver was that it delivered a solid tight beefy-ness to the build that no other receiver offers and with that the potential for improved accuracy - I am certainly thrilled with .116-inch 50-yard groups.


SPECS
Nickel Bronze Alloy $375 retail


BUILD SPECS
Feddersen 10/22 Receiver
Kidd 1.5-lb Single Stage Trigger Unit
Feddersen 16.25” Fluted Bull Barrel - Muzzle Threaded
Kidd Charging Handle
Kidd Match Bolt
Victor Titan Stock
Nikon 3-9 ProStaff scope


SOURCES

Check BROWNELLS for the best deals on firearms and accessories


FJ Feddersen, Inc. - http://www.1022rifle.com/
Kidd Innovative Designs - https://www.coolguyguns.com



Thursday, December 3, 2020

Heckler & Koch H&K VP9 Tactical 9mm Pistol Review

Heckler & Koch H&K VP9 Tactical 9mm Pistol Review


Recently I reviewed the H&K VP9 and frankly am in love with the pistol, the quality and the features are all top of the line. As a defensive pistol it has a level of refinement that is competitively only seen on Sig Sauers and the high tier Walthers, but with features unique to H&K.  The P30 line has been one of H&K's most popular pistol lines and is the reference benchmark for quality in a defensive polymer handgun. That said, H&K fans have been demanding a modern production H&K striker fired option built on the popular P30 ergonomics and magazine. H&K delivered the hugely popular VP9 and now is extending the line with this VP9 Tactical model featuring a threaded barrel. What really sets the VP9 apart from other Heckler & Koch pistols is the common man's price tag and is the company's first sub-$600 priced gun in recent history.  


Now with the popularity of suppressors on the rise, civilians are asking for suppressor ready firearms. The Tactical model is a bit more with a street price usually about $50-$75 more than the initial VP9 model.

Essentially the H&K VP9 Tactical is identical to the original VP9 model with the same supremely awesome trigger break and very fast short trigger reset. The VP9 continues to offer swappable rear backstrap and side grips to customize the grip and the notable charging notches to help with high speed weapon manipulation. Of course the completely ambidextrous design via ambi-slide and paddle mag release is carried over on the VP90 Tactical Model as well. Even the luminous (Glow in the dark) sights and ambidextrous controls are the same. The VP9 and Tactical model are the same guns for all practical purposes.


There was some early rumbling that the VP9 did have a spring which was too weak. I was informed at this year’s SHOT show that all models now feature the same more stiff spring I noticed on this VP9 Tactical. On the show room, you really would not notice, but put an early Gen 1 writers sample VP9 against this new VP9 Tactical and you can feel the recoil spring difference.


There are only two differences between the VP9 and VP9 Tactical. The H&K VP9 Tactical features a threaded barrel and according to H&K’s site the tactical models do not use an O-Ring assisted lockup like other H&K models. Allegedly the O-ring caused problems when a suppressor is attached and only marginally decreases the precision of the barrel-slide lock up. The barrel threading is the infuriating but well thought out 13.5x1 LH thread. Although the intent of was to not allow the suppressor or other muzzle accessory to loosen while shooting due to a right hand barrel twist. It works but irritates me that I need to buy a swap back and forth between 13.5x1 LH and ½-28 thread adapters for my Liberty Mystic X suppressor instead of being able to do an easy swap of the suppressor between other 9mm guns.


Though H&K is usually a little behind the curve in keeping up with the US market, they may actually be a bit ahead of the curve with the pending Hearing Protection Act now having a good chance of becoming law. This is a durable and well tested host that is ready to attach a suppressor whether buyers follow the current tax stamp registration and buying process or get the opportunity to buy suppressors off the shelves if the HPA passes.


I have found the VP9 line of pistols to be extremely accurate with 124gr ammo. At a recent tactical training we had a drill where we had to run from barricade to barricade and pop out and deliver two shots on a steel torso. After the first run and with my confidence instilled in the VP9 Tactical, I ran the course two more times and was delivering quick double tap head shots on the 15-yard steel target. The VP9s are very accurate and with the right ammo notably more accurate than my stock Glocks.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The VP9 pistol represents everything we have asked for and whined about on our Glocks with a level of striker fired pistol refinement which that has only previously been represented in the Walther PPQ. The VP9 Tactical though is not a Walther or a Glock or a Sig Sauer, it is a Heckler & Koch which has its own legacy of extremely high quality, infallible durability and reliability, with leading edge innovations. H&K did not only hit a homerun with this pistol, and the extension of this pistol to potentially capture a new suppressor market with the Hearing Protection Act pending is a very smart move for H&K.


SPECS
Caliber 9mm
Length 7.34"
Width 1.32"
Height 5.41"
Barrel Length  4.09"
Sight Radius  6.38"
Weight (with empty magazine)  25.56 oz.
Weight (empty magazine)   3.28 oz.
Weight (without magazine) 22.28oz
Magazine Capacity 15+1
Trigger Pull 5.4lbs
Trigger Travel   .24"
Return Travel    .12"
Barrel Profile/Twist    Polygonal, 6 grooves, right-hand twist, 1 in 9.8 inches


SOURCES


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Friday, November 20, 2020

Walther PPS M2 9mm Pistol Review

Walther PPS M2 9mm Pistol Review


Even despite the insanity of the gun market some manufacturers have stayed true to their roots. Walther has retained the long history of innovation while ushering in a completely new era of firearms. Sure they still faithfully produce those great symbols of Bond 007 spycraft and have even expanded that line with new entries, but the new Walther pistol designs have rightly captured a lot of attention.  A few years ago I reviewed the original PPS in 9mm - a gun which has become one of my favorite concealed carry guns. The PPS was a gun ahead of its time delivering a feature rich, accurate, and configurable carrying single stack that could behave like a compact, mid and full sized gun.  Based on the two years of carrying and shooting the PPS, it is my perception that it is one of the best subcompact concealed carry single-stack guns on the market despite the introduction of many other competitor firearms.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES
What many did not like about the first PPS was that it was a bit blocky looking and featured a European style guard paddle style magazine release which Americans are not terribly excited over. The PPS M2 resolved those complaints with a standard button magazine release and rounder ergonomics that mimic the amazingly comfortable PPQ and other Walther pistols.

The Walther PPS M2 retains the hybrid design which allows it to morph from a sub-compact sized pistol to a larger hand filling gun. Included with the gun are three magazines - one each in 6, 7, and 8 round capacities. With the flush fit 6-round magazine your pinky is left dangling like it would with any sub-compact or micro-compact format pistol. Just a swap to the 7 or 8-round magazines deliver a full-sized grip and control plus a few extra rounds of ammo. In essence this allows the user to just swap out a magazine to transform the PPS from a full sized feel for home defense to a smaller magazine for concealed carry.  The original point of the PPS is not to be a high capacity firearm, but to deliver an extremely thin and slim profile for concealed carry that is small enough both men and woman can carry comfortably. It is a lifestyle gun that was designed as a carry gun that would always be with you versus being left in the car or at home. The PPS M2 again carried through that design goal in a big way.


Walther did some serious ergonomics studies before moving the mouse pointer in the CAD software. From my perspective, this has to been the most comfortable sub-compact pistol I have handled, carried, and shot. I love my Glocks, however this fits the hand better and has a far better grip surface which all add up to a more confidently handled gun.  I used a few male and female friends as testers to shoot the PPS M2 and all loved it. In fact several loved it so much they may buy one.


The finish and fit are exceptional, the milling on the slides it well thought out with the front and rear serrated slide still providing enough bite to charge the PPS reliably.   The PPS M2 has Low profile snag-free three dot metal luminescent combat sights with the rear sight adjustable for windage (Tritium night sight options are available in the LE version). The luminescent sights which pick up ambient light or a quick flash from your flashlight and glow with usable illumination for about 15 minutes. A Tenifer coated slide and barrel are used for corrosion resistance, and other features include a loaded chamber viewport, red cocking indicator at the rear provides both tactile and visible status, smooth beveled snag-free slide stop with a lock back on empty, and features one of these most crisp, smoothest, and lightest 6.1 lb trigger pulls I have tested on a factory compact gun. The PPS M2 trigger feel is better than the PPS M1 though both tested to break right at the same 6.1 lb point. The short trigger reset is similar to a Glock reset window. Walther did drop the front picatinny mount from the PPS M2 model. Likely with the proliferation of weapon specific lights and lasers, they saw it as an unneeded feature that bulked up the gun.


Some of the other details to enhance functionality are minor but I notice them. Rarely you will end up with an especially non-acrobatic piece of spent brass that will almost make it out of the ejection port. The PPS design has an angled front cut on the port, a bevel on the ejector size, and a ramped area at the top rear of the port on the slide which all work in tandem to lift, turn and push out brass attempting to cause a jam.


The design is really similar to the Kahr PM series of pistols which I think are excellent, however the PPS is more ergonomic and has thinner feeling 1” concealed carry profile.


FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Functionally the Walther PPS M2 is a striker fired pistol which is very similar to a Glock. There are certainly some difference and probably some patent differences, however to my eyes they look the same which is a great thing because it is a proven design. In fact it even takes down identically to a Glock; clear the gun, pull the trigger, pull down on the two take down tabs, and move the slide off the frame.  Walther even has the double guide rod spring assembly we see in the newer Glocks.


Accuracy was excellent for a gun this size and delivered 3.5” 25-yard groups with the Federal Guard Dog ammo on a shooting rest. Functionally I have no issues from the first round to the last shot before writing this article. Excellent reliability all the way around. I have easily cleared a regulation police qualification test with the PPQ and do carry it as needed for some security work.


Holster options are already everywhere, but I choose a Klinger Stingray Flush Fit 0-cant holster which delivered everything I needed for testing of this pistol.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The trigger unit works like a Glock also with all those wonderful internal safeties and there is even the joyous absence of a safety or decocker. The fit and finish is better than a Glock, the trigger is leagues better as well, there is more steel rail contact between the frame and slide with equates to a smoother action, the grip actually offers “grip”. Most importantly the PPS M2  looks like someone with an eye for design actually had a crack at making a decent looking pistol and it is even comfortable to hold, shoot and carry.  The PPS M1 was the the single stack Glock 43 we were waiting for that Walther delivered many years earlier than Glock. Well at least that is how I would compare it to a Glock if I was working the gun counter. The bottom line is that I own a Glock 43 and carry the PPS M1 and M2 versions far more than I ever do the comparable Glock 43 because they feel, carry, and shoot better for me.

The PPS represents a “lifestyle” firearm which is flexible enough to accommodate a very wide array of clothing, defense, and concealment needs. It is big enough to not feel under-gunned and small enough to conceal better than any double stack firearm. They have designed a great PPS design that is realistically sized to offer compact sized power in a sub-compact size people will actually be able to carry. The PPS M2 is a top grade pistol that can easily fulfill everything from home defense to concealed carry and magazine swap options to extend the grip make it that much more versatile. With 6-8-rounds on tap and one in the chamber, this is hopefully a new legacy that Walther will continue with and maybe... just maybe Bond could start carrying one of these instead of that retro PPK with the electronic trigger lock.


SPECS
Standard Model
MODEL: 2805961
Caliber: 9mm
Finish Color: Tenifer™ Black
Barrel Length: 3.18"
Trigger Pull: 6.1 lbs
Trigger Travel: 0.2"
Capacity: 6/7/8 rds
Overall Length: 6.3"
Height: 4.4/4.9/5.3"
Width: 1"
Weight (mag empty): 21.1 oz


LE EDITION - Include Night Sights
MODEL: 2807696
Caliber: 9mm
Finish Color: Tenifer™ Black
Barrel Length: 3.18"
Trigger Pull: 6.1 lbs
Trigger Travel: 0.2"
Capacity: 6/7/8 rds
Overall Length: 6.3"
Height: 4.4/4.9/5.3"
Width: 1"
Weight (mag empty): 21.1 oz


MSRP $599  
Street $549


SOURCES

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