All posts by James

Magpul AR Furniture, Finishing Touches

Windham Carbon SRC Project, Part III

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Alright, so we’ve got the rifle, we’ve got the free float handguard on there, now lets get this thing dressed right.  Don’t get me wrong, the OEM Furniture Windham ships on their rifles isn’t bad as far as standard AR furniture goes.  Standard A2 grip and milspec style handguards with internal heat shields.

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But, there’s always room for improvement.  I’d already decided to go with Magpul furniture, they make a solid product with a lot of nice features, and it gave me the style I was going for- they even had it in a pleasant OD Green shade I liked.

magpulI’d also been wanting to try out an Angled Foregrip (AFG / AFG-2).  In addition to the above, I also ended up picking up a Ranger Green MS4 Dual QD Sling from Magpul that’s a combo 2-point / 1-point sling, and allowed me to make use of my QD points on the CTR stock and Midwest Industries free float tube.

It’s definitely worth pointing out that the Windham rifles all use Commercial Length buffer tubes.  This is a fairly important distinction when buying furniture.

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Install of everything was easy enough, no additional modifications required.

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That’s that.  Looks good (to the end user, anyway), feels good, and after a range day test, shoots plenty good.  I’ll have a full review to come shortly.  I may also do individual upcoming reviews of the additionally pictured Aimpoint PRO, Burris AR Tripler, and Lancer L5AWM Magazines.

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Midwest Industries Gen2 Two Piece Free Float Handguard

Windham Carbon SRC Project, Part II

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I was initially going to do a review and write up on the base rifle prior to doing anything to it.  I think I’ll change that up a bit though, and get it put together before testing extensively, killing two birds with one stone.

That being said, the first thing we’re going to do is get ourselves a base platform to work from, which means getting the factory handguards off of this thing.

The rifle shipped with a decent enough set of standard AR handguards, heatshielded and whatnot, they’d get the job done if that’s all you wanted.  But that’s what not we’re going for here.

I wanted to stick with something that is an easy enough install for most readers, but still gives me what I was looking for in this build.  Specifically I wanted a free floated tube that was lightweight, didn’t require removal or alteration of the Front Sight Base (on this case, worked with the integrated railed FSB), and VERY specifically in the case of this rifle, it needed to install on the factory barrel nut, rather than use one that’s proprietary, as many do, as Windham uses a barrel nut on the Carbon SRC whose external dimensions are standard, but the threading size is different, part of the reinforcement done on their carbon rifle vs. others in the market.  Finally, I wanted one that had integrated QD mounting points.

With those requirements, my best choice was a carbine length (7″) so as to not alter the FSB, and keep the weight down.  That’s still plenty of room to get what I need on there.   Additionally, I’d be going with a 2-piece, to keep things easy on the install.  Lastly, as mentioned, I’d be going with one that would use the OEM barrel nut.  I narrowed my search to two options:

Troy 7″ MRF 2-Piece Free float

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Midwest Industries Gen2 Two Piece Free Float, Carbine Length

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Both seemed decent enough options, but just based on price, and a friend’s report of great customer service on Midwest’s part, so that was that.  **DISCLAIMER: Installation of this part involves very slight modification to the upper receiver.  As I haven’t yet received a yay or nay from Windham Weaponry on whether or not modification in this area is advisable, I have to note that this is done at you own risk.**

The install was easy enough, but did require a bit of cutting to remove the aluminum factory Delta Ring.

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The ring is aluminum, whereas the spring and barrel nut are steel.  Using a Dremel or rotary cutter with a metal cutting disc, it should slice through the Delta ring like butter, without harming the barrel nut below.  Pro Tip: Wrap plastic or some other material around the barrel, FSB, and receiver nearby, there *will* be debris, lots and lost of aluminum dust.  You don’t want that all over the place on your rifle.

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You’ll want to make 2 straight cuts on either side of the Delta ring.  It’ll get hot, so be careful.  Just cut through, being careful not to mar your receiver, especially being that it’s Carbon Fiber and would easily get cut here.  If you’re generating sparks, than you’re too deep, but the sparks should be your disc, not the steel.  Be extremely careful, however, to cut on the sides, not the top and bottom, you do *not* want to damage your gas system.

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Once you make the cuts, that thing will break off with a pair of pliers with no problem.  Next up is removing the spring.  Just bend it off of there with the pliers, it wont be “easy” but it’ll come off with a bit of effort.

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Alright, so you’re ready to go.  *One* minor issue specific to the Carbon SRC- this handguard includes “anti-rotation tabs” meaning it grabs the receiver on either side right below the barrel nut near the pivot pin.  The Carbon SRC, being additionally reinforced in certain areas, is a touch more material here than a normal AR.  Approx 4mm needs to be removed from the corner in these spots.   **Disclaimer: I did stay in touch with Windham and verify a few things prior to this build, when I was initially making making inquires about the barrel nut dimensions.  I don’t have a firm answer on whether or not this is advisable, as this area received additional reinforcement.  At this time, as I have not heard from Windham one way or the other on whether or not this is advisable.  PERFORM THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.**

Once this is done, its easiest to fit the top first, then the bottom.  It won’t *completely* seat together at first, there may be a millimeter-ish gap at the rear, though this should only occur on the Carbon SRC due to the tight fit where we took material off, this likely wouldn’t be the case on a standard AR.

Finally, you’ll want to insert and tighten the set screws, getting them in, then tightening each a little at a time until they wont turn any longer.  It would be a good idea to use the included VC-3 Threadmate adhesive.

Alright, we have our base for adding accessories.  Next up, lets take care of getting the furniture on there.  Stay tuned.

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Windham Carbon SRC Project Teaser

DSC_0060I’m aware that I’ve been absent for a while, but thought I’d come back with a bang.  Since prices have finally settled back to reasonable levels, I’d been doing some AR shopping, and an extremely reasonably priced option caught my eye.

Windham Weaponry, an outfit run by the original Bushmaster team before they got bought out, has an interesting offering in the form of their Carbon SRC (R16M4FTTCF1).  I first ran across one at my local Academy Sports for what I believed was quite reasonable, until I checked Bud’s Gun Shop and found it for what felt like a steal.

I’ll go into more depth about the rifle, as well as all that I plan for it, in later posts, but just a short blurb about the rifle itself- The SRC stands for “Sight Ready Carbine”, and designates is their line of no-sight optics-ready rifles, passing the savings on to you, as it were.  As far as it being a Carbon Fiber AR… I’ll go into more detail, but put shortly, this one stands out from others on the market, and it looks like a lot of attention to detail went into addressing the shortcomings of others out there.

Based on the price, this makes for a great base for a easy-on-the-wallet project.  So, pay attention, things are in the works.

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More to come shortly.

Just Say No… to Nitesiters

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Right, so you’ve got yourself a new handgun and think “What if I had to shoot this thing in low light conditions.  Well, even with a flashlight / weapon light, all I’d get would be a bright area in front of me, but my firearm would still be pretty dark- hell, darker because of the contrast.  Wouldn’t it be just swell if the sights kind of glowed a little bit for me, so I could line ’em up well when my weapon is bathed in shadows?  I wonder if anyone has ever thought of this before!”  Well yes.  Yes they have.  Quite extensively.

The problem?  Those things are expensive!  Who wants to drop a significant percentage of the price you paid for the handgun on some sights that glow in the dark, when I might never even shoot in low-light conditions anyway.  To put people even more on the fence, it doesn’t even look like during bright conditions that those dots are even going to be as effective as the bright white dots on your OEM sights (if applicable), am I right?

Well, some industrious fellow decided to address all of your concerns by coming up with an alternate solution to a couple of miniature radioactive isotope filled vials-  Why not just use a tiny version of those glow-in-the-dark stars that kids put on their ceiling?

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So, granted, “glow in the dark” tech has come a long way since those glow in the dark plastic cars and Halloween masks of the 80’s and 90’s, or at least some of the products available on this awesome site would make you think it.  But is it suited to replace the always-on consistency of tritium firearm sights which last years before dimming out and needing replacement?

Well No.  No it isn’t.

So, to step back a bit and actually show you how these work (and prove I actually gave the things a fair shake), let’s see what comes in the kit, priced at $11.98.

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The basic premise here is: Here are some little dots, made up of photoluminescent paint over reflective material (to pick up and reflect any ambient light back through the luminescent layer), and a coating of clear polymer to protect it.  On the back side, is industrial adhesive.  What really qualifies an adhesive as industrial?  I guess that it’s used in any industry, including the ‘cheap glow in the dark stickers for your firearm’ industry.  You get 8 dots per kit, and peel ’em off of the clear plastic film using the provided pre-rusted razor blade, and use the included compact tactical toothpick to assist in positioning, and if necessary, cramming that little sticky dot into the dimple on your handgun’s sight (as I had to do with the sights on my Colt Commander).  Just to be thorough, the kit comes with a couple of tiny sealed alcohol swaps to clean your sights prior to mounting.  Also included is a tiny tube of Crazy Glue, in case the industrial adhesive isn’t quite being industrious enough.

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And it wasn’t.  After the first trip to the range, my 1911 had lost it’s front Nitesiter.  After this, as much as I was loathe to use superglue on ANY part of my $1k Colt, per the directions, I gave that a shot.  Let it never be said I don’t do crazy things for you people!  The results of my next range trip: Front sight stayed put, rears were both gone.  Not wanting to waste all 8 on one gun, I decided to hold off and see how that front one did with the superglue.

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…it lasted another 100 rounds of 230gr FMJ before it went MIA.  So as far as I’m concerned, use of these things on a “real” handgun is out of the question.

That being said, I went ahead and mounted 3 of the 4 remaining ones on a Walther P22, as this would give the added benefit of slightly larger white dots even in daylight.  The sights on the Walther were flat already, and not dimpled, so I figured that would help as well, and it seems to have- as these have managed to stay put after one trip shooting 150 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag.  Edit: They were all gone by the end of the following range trip.

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So, they work on a low-recoil toy with optimum existing mounting conditions, but how does the brightness compare with tritium?  Well, the website would have you believe that they compare like so:  “5 minutes of sunlight, close lamp light, or Ultraviolet light is all it takes to provide many hours of luminosity.”

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And honestly, they do.  For about 30 seconds after having a UV light flash them briefly (tested using a fluorescent blacklight on the Walther P22), or have a bright tactical light (as used in pictures of the Colt) shined on them for about 20 seconds.  After that, they peter out pretty quick, to just barely noticeable for about an hour.  Seriously, BARELY detectable.  Then after about 2-3 hours, they’re completely inert.  Yes- the website specifically said “5 minutes of sunlight, close lamp light, or Ultraviolet light” was “all it takes” to get it going- well I gave it that chance too, but if someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night, or I pull my firearm out of a holster under my car seat at night, I doubt I’m going to have 5 minutes to charge my sights.  But just to be diligent here, I left them out to gather sunlight for a few days and nights, and kept checking them over a couple of days, just to write off them having to break-in or something, and giving them adequate light to charge.  No change.  Just for the record, all of the shots taken of these glowing were taken within 20 seconds of charging them for at least 30 seconds.

So, the verdict?  If you really need glowing dots to help with a low-light sight picture, stick to the tried and true, get yourself some Trijis or Mepros, and save the glow in the dark stickers for your kids’ bedroom ceiling planetariums.

Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit Review

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Well, the ammunition prices after the last big scare are just starting to settle down again, finally, though as with any of these, things are never going to return fully back to where they were.  Luckily, one of the most common victims to this, the ubiquitous .22lr finally seems to be returning to regular stock levels.  This means using this cheap round for practice via conversion kits is economical again, bringing me to my next review item.

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Enter the Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit, for the 1911 of course.  Available in both full size (5″, Govt. length slide) and Compact (4″ slide).  As an added bonus, the full size 5″ kit, thanks to an extended dust cover (as seen in pictures below), fits both Govt and Commander length frames.

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Not only is it easily the nicest looking .22lr conversion I’ve seen available for the 1911, with it’s Satin Silver or Black cerakote finish, ridged adjustable target sights, and overall apparent fine engineering, but it’s a breeze to install, even at the range or in the field.

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Simply strip the slide from your 1911 of choice, and slip on the Kimber upper, using your 1911’s slide stop, and you’re ready to go.  Despite my skepticism, this kit cycled all tested .22lr ammunition flawlessly in both a cheap Citadel/Armscor 1911 Govt, and a Colt Lightweight Commander.  I honestly didn’t think it would cycle properly given how light the slide was and how heavy the hammer on both of those felt, but I was proven wrong.

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Field stripping this kit for cleaning is similar enough to doing so on the parent firearm, the major difference being how the recoil spring is contained and attached to the barrel lug.  Easy peasy.

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Additionally, it comes with one polymer 10 round magazine, though for practice sake I tended to load it to 7 or 8 to match the capacity of the magazines I use with the parent handgun.

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Just for the record, this kit was tested with the following ammunition, again no failures present, period:

  • CCI Minimag
  • CCI Velocitor
  • Eley Subsonic
  • Winchester 555 box (36gr)
  • Colt (relabeled Aguila 40gr)

So, despite the dropping prices of common ammunition, it’s still nice to save a few cents and make use of one of these .22lr kits just to keep sharp on the cheap, every bit of muscle memory you can give yourself helps.  I found this kit also very useful for getting someone comfortable with the 1911 platform without their first interaction being the gruff handshake of a 230gr FMJ recoil shock, to which they may not be accustomed.

The downside?  Price.  This thing is a Kimber, afterall.  It can be had for the MSRP of $339 from Kimber directly, or via Cabela’s, the later of which frequently has it on sale, more so than other vendors where I’ve seen it.   Also, whatever you do, don’t try to save money and order from Botach Tactical, I wasted about 2 weeks before finding out it was on back order (despite being charged and their website not indicating such).

More Grip for the G42

v5In my previous post reviewing the Glock 42, I mentioned one of the minor drawbacks of the handgun, and a drawback of all subcompact handguns, being that the grip was too short to get your entire hand around.  Even with the tiny hands this gun was meant to fill, you’re left with a pinky hanging off.  Most smaller handguns come with, or at least have an option for, a magazine with an extended floor plate to give you that extra bit, the Walther P22 and Beretta Pico, for instance, come with both types of magazines.

v7While Glock currently offers an extension for sale, it’s not quite as, well, aesthetically pleasing, as a set I found on Glockmeister (where you may remember me finding the parts needed to complete my Glock 19 brass-to-face fix).

v1Enter the Vickers Tactical (produced by Tango Down) Glock 42 floor plates.  These give just enough extra to get your last finger on there, without adding too much to the dimensions of the gun.  The taper was a great touch, adding just a bit of functional flair, without looking too out of place.

v3 v8Until there’s an available +1 or +2 floorplate to get that capacity up to something respectable, these will be a fine addition.

v6They’re also easy to install (despite the “Gunsmith Only” warning on the package).  Without going into too much detail here, simply use your Glock Armorer’s Tool to push in the tab on the bottom of the magazine, go in all the way to the handle of the tool, squeeze on either side of the magazine and pry forward with the tool.  Once it starts sliding off, remove the tool, block the bottom with your thumb (or the spring will come flying out) and slide the old floor plate off.  Slide new plate on until it clicks into place, done.  If there’s a request, I’ll do a follow up on how to do this with picture, or a video.

v4So that’s it, for the record, addition of these removes one (-) from the Glock 42 scorecard.

Glock 42 Review

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Well, let me first say, I hope everyone had a good Holiday season.  It’s been a busy few weeks for me, but we did at least get a chance to get to the range and break in one of my significant other’s Christmas gifts.

Enter the Glock 42.  I know this thing’s been out for a bit of time now and a review on another .380, the Beretta Nano, would probably be a bit more useful to early adopters, but I also know that before purchase, I scoured for reviews on this thing, and every point of data counts.

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Right onto it: Why the Glock 42?  Anybody who personally knows the end user in mind here will know that she has tiny hands.  TINY.  She also has really taken a liking to Glock handguns since being introduced to them- the light weight, the balance, the easy controls, the easy-to-use sights, everything combined to let her shoot more accurately (mostly due to genuinely enjoying practicing with it) than nearly anything else we own aside from a tricked out Kimber Custom Target II.  The problem is, Glocks are fat.  Her shooting was decent, despite not quite being able to get a proper grip on any Glock she’d tried due to the size.  So short of radius-ing the hell out of the grip and hoping to make it a low enough diameter to get her hands around, she’d always end up with sub-standard grouping because of having to reach for the trigger or a bruised right thumb joint from improper grip.  The Glock 42 solved these problems, for the most part.

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First of, it’s tiny, not quite Colt Mustang Pocketlite / Ruger LCP / Beretta Pico tiny, but compared to most subcompacts, this thing is quite the mouse gun.  More importantly, it’s slim, especially for a Glock.  This allows shooters who might be hand-size challenged to get a proper grip on the thing, which is exactly what we were going for here.  Now, there are positives and negatives to this- while it fit her tiny hands perfectly, it still has the same sub-compact issue of length of grip, even her pinky hangs of slightly.  This is easily remedied, however.  The other thing I noticed, was with a proper thumbs-forward grip, this thing sunk so much into my paws that I had to make a conscious effort to not hold the slide release down.  This wasn’t an issue, however, when shooting one handed with either strong or weak hand, and this thing was a pleasure to shoot one handed- this would be a great backup.

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As for functionality- pretty impressive.  It’s not *fully* broken in yet, as we’ve only put 200 rounds through it for our first test.  We used 100 rounds of Aguila 95gr. FMJ as our opener, and 100 rounds of cheapo Academy sourced Monarch 94gr. FMJ to see how low we could go with ammunition quality (while still sticking to factory loads).  In the 200 round breakin, we had a single FTF about 40-round into the down and dirty Monarch stuff, which had been notably weaker than the Aguila.  For a short .380, this thing grouped very well, right in line with other compact Glocks.  One minor nitpick, the 6-round magazines- it’s a tad difficult to get that last round in, as the .380s are short to the point that when loading, the round beneath tends to dip in the front rather than be pushed down, and it takes a bit of effort on that last one.  Due to the difference in Magazine here, the standard Glock speedloader (or SLINO if that’s your opinion on the thing) doesn’t work, and they don’t yet have one out for the 42.  But this is a practice/training issue more than anything.

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Mechanically, this thing is just standard Glock, but scaled down.  Not much to say here- disassembly is identical to any other Gen4 Glock.  A note on that- while the 42 uses Gen4 features, technically (at least per a Glock rep I spoke with) it’s a first gen, as this is a new gun.  Whatever… built with Gen4 features, I’m still going to refer to it as a Gen4.

The Scorecard:

+ Size/Dimensions (Great for an EDC)
+ Price (Typical Glock pricing, not LCP cheap, but quality for the $)
+ Manual of Arms (Same as other Glocks, know one, know all)
+ Accuracy (No sacrifice for size, typical Glock sights)
+ Comfort (Despite being as light as it is, very little recoil)
+ Reliability (Only 1 FTF on break-in, otherwise no issue)

– Magazine (6+1 Capacity, really?  Also mentioned loading issue)
– Size? (Might be a bit tiny for big hands without mag extensions)
– Price? (It’s not AS cheap as some other subcompact .380s)
– .380 (Some might complain about this not being a 9mm)
– Reliability issues with early models (not experienced on ours)

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Surprises for Shooters: Holiday Gift Guide

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Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and if you still don’t have a little gift or two for your loved ones, your time is running out.

So to give you a hand in shopping for the gun owner in your life, or maybe to find yourself a little something on the cheap- I’m going to make a few suggestions for something that would be nice to find under the tree on Christmas morning.

First thing’s first, whether for yourself to help you do your holiday shopping for cheaper, or for someone else you know does a lot of online shopping, an Amazon Prime membership is well worth the price for the free 2 day shipping, as well as other sale prices and whatnot that you wouldn’t normally get.  Be cautious though, I’ll make you buy A LOT more stuff from Amazon that you wouldn’t before.

71KMppUPcxL._SL1242_Alright, so I did a previous article on cleaning kits with plenty of links, and it’s still a good read since I mention technique and whatnot, but to make things easier for this gift guide, I found a couple of pretty neat sets with tools needed for detailed cleaning and maintenance/gunsmith work for specific firearms.  I’ll link a couple, and you can find the rest by following the links from there.

AR15, Sig P226, Glock

But these wouldn’t be complete without solvent and lubricants.

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As mentioned in my previous post, I’m a big fan of Mil-Comm products after some buddies turned me on to them.  See my cleaning kit post for more details- but this is the set that won me over.

Another good gift idea is storage for all the of the above, or for the ammunition that would otherwise be sitting around in piles.

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I personally have a couple of these, and will probably end up with more.  They’re a good size, easy to carry, and have a top tray and lid compartment for smaller items.  It’s nice to have a few so you can keep types of ammunition separate, as in I have one with me I’ll grab when going to the rifle range, one if I’m going to take my shotgun out for some sporting clays, and another if going to the handgun range.

Speaking of going to the range- in sports a lot of people like to take pride in their preferred brand, and shooting is no different.  It’s always a good gift to get some swag adorned with the logos and slogans of your gunmaker or accessory company of choice.

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Beretta, in particular, has a pretty good assortment of both casual and competition wear on their website, and their style in quality is second to none.  They have a lot of sales too.

Another great gift idea, along the same lines as the Flambeau containers, is a good gun/equipment case, and nobody makes them better than Pelican.

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Granted, they’re a bit pricey, but worth every penny.  They’re also good for any other equipment, specifically cameras and accessories.  If you’re taking some kind of expensive and/or delicate equipment camping, these things are the way to go.

**Be sure to check back in the days leading up to Christmas- I’ll be sure to keep updating with good deals as I run across them.**

Fouled Cylinder Chambers from using .38 in .357

DSCN1676It’s fairly common to shoot .38 Spl from a .357 Magnum revolver for practice or competitive shooting events, as it’s cheaper, and has significantly less recoil, without much difference in accuracy (despite the “jump” it has to make).  This leads to an often brought up topic of fouling making it difficult to load .357 Magnum cartridges after prolonged bouts of shooting .38 Spl.

The problem comes from the fact that the .357 Magnum cartridge is a bit longer (and miniscule bit wider) than a .38 Spl cartridge.

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This means the .38 Spl bullet has to jump a bit through the cylinder chamber to get to the forcing cone and into the bore.  This means there will be fouling at a lower point in the cylinder, and that build up and burn in over time (sometimes even after a hundred or so rounds during one session) and make loading of .357 Magnum cartridges difficult to impossible.  See the image below to see a ring of where this buildup was removed from the chambers.

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What you end up with is a .357 Magnum Revolver that doesn’t seem to want to accept .357 Magnum cartridges.  Not cool.

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Luckily, it’s not permanent.  Even if cleaned normally after shooting .38 Spl, you still may need to go a bit further to remove this fouling.  You could use a slightly oversized brass brush (for instance, a .40 S&W brush in a .357 Cylinder) soaked in solvent and just have at it for a while.  A serious while.  It takes A LOT of effort to remove this fouling this way.  Luckily for you, I’m going to show you the easy (well, easy-ish, more on that at the end) way.

Things you’ll need:

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  • Electric Drill (preferably newer than the one pictured)
  • Brass brush of required size (in this case a .40 S&W sized one)
  • Solvent (Hoppe’s 9 / CLP work well, MC25 doesn’t break up the lead as well)
  • Tools for disassembly of your firearm

Naturally this will vary by firearm, but what you’re going to need to do is remove the Cylinder.  My sample here is a Colt Python, so here you’ll get a bonus Colt Python Cylinder Removal quick-guide.

  • Carefully LOOSEN this screw enough to easily turn by hand:
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  • Remove by hand while minding that a very tiny spring and plunger sit inside of it.  It’s not under pressure, but may fall out and be a PITA to find.
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  • Use spur to open the cylinder action, and slide forward off of the frame.
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  • Unscrew the Extractor Rod and remove, along with the parts that are now freed up by this.
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  • Complete.

Yes, that cylinder has some serious burn rings on the front as well.  This Python may have the appearance of a safe queen, but she gets worked out quite a lot thanks to being such a pleasure to shoot.  If there’s interest, I’ll do another quick article on getting THOSE rings off, but the long and short- lead remover cloth, or scotch pads and Hoppe’s 9.

So, what we’re going to do here next is go ahead and chock that brush into your drill.

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Soak the brush in the solvent of your choice, and holding your cylinder in one hand and the drill in the other, get that brush in there and let ‘er rip.  This may seem harsh, but the brass stands no chance against the steel inside of your chambers, you’re not going to damage it, but you will break up the fouling like a boss.  For extra-bad fouling, you may want to tilt the drill a touch in circles to apply extra pressure, but not too much or you’ll bend up your brush too much.

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When this is done, you’ll have A LOT of dirty solvent all over that cylinder.  Give it a good wipe and normal cleaning.  Once that’s done, move to your test area (because I KNOW you didn’t have ammunition near your work space, right?) and let’s see what happens.

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Ta-da!  Your .357 Magnum is back to being a .357 Magnum.

Now, about the EASIEST way of doing this that doesn’t involve jury-rigged powertools.  Just buy this.  Brass screen over a rubber piece will get that fouling out in one pass.  Also works very well at cleaning bores and getting your forcing cone clean.  As a bonus, this is a 9mm size, it works for .38 / .357 / 9mm just like brushes / bore snakes, and one tool for multiple guns is always the way to go.

Cleaning for beginners, Cleaning Kit How-To

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Well, I said I would get to this eventually so here goes.  How to get a new shooter up and running with a basic cleaning kit.  I’m not going to go into detail here on the cleaning process, that would best be covered in individual guides- but we’ll do a basic overview of the process and what bits and pieces you’ll want in your kit to let you do so.

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So first off, basic break down of the process you should be following as soon as possible after shooting.

  1. ALWAYS Verify firearms are unloaded and remove any ammunition from the workspace.
  2. Field Strip (or as far down as you’re personally comfortable with and feel is necessary at the time, the deeper the better) firearms used one at a time.
  3. Give all parts a brief wipe down with a clean and dry rag (or cloth patch if you like).
  4. Spray parts and surfaces down with MC25 Solvent (my preference, plus it smells nice) and allow to set briefly, or, if you like, simply spray or wipe with a rag/patch soaked with CLP.
  5. Spray chamber and inside of barrel liberally with solvent of choice.
  6. Wipe Solvent / CLP soaked parts with clean rag / patch to remove initial fouling.  Repeat above steps until rag / patches return clean results.
  7. Use CLP soaked (followed by dry) Q-tips (seriously, click link, way better than the ones for your ears) to detail clean Chamber, Breechface,  Lugs, and other detailed areas.  Use pipe cleaners (the absorbent kind, not craft pipe cleaners) to get into harder to reach spots.  Additionally, a toothpick or dental pick wrapped in one layer of thin cloth works pretty well for buildup in tight crevices.  Use solvent-soaked toothbrush for very fouled areas, especially fouling on intricate areas.
  8. Run calibercorrect Boresnake through barrel at least 3 times, ALWAYS from Chamber -> Muzzle.  NEVER pull through from Muzzle end to Chamber.  Wipe down the feed ramp with CLP soaked rag / patch again, just for good measure.
  9. Wipe all parts down with dry rag / patches.  At this point, there should be minimal to no fouling showing on any cleaning material after wipes.
  10. Lubricate per needs of your firearm with oil and/or grease*
  11. Reassemble firearm and wipe off excess oils.  You may elect to SPARINGLY apply a bit of CLP to a rag and rub a protective coating on the exterior metal surfaces of the firearm.  This will depend on storage and intended further use, but can be of benefit when the firearm is going back in a safe for a while.
  12. Cycle the weapon’s action liberally to distribute lubricants.

*Opinions on lubricants is another hot-button issue.  My personal theory here: If you have the money to spend, by all means, Mil-Comm makes great products, and my friends who’ve used their stuff where their life depended on it swear by it.  BUT, on a budget, I figure any jackoff in their basement can slap a cool logo and guarantee on a bottle of mineral oil and come up with a story on how long they spent researching it, then charge an arm and leg for it.  Know who does spend a ton of verified money on high-performance lubricants that need to hold up to a variety of environmental conditions for thousands of hours of intense use?  Automotive lubricant companies, that’s who.  Enter the cheapest-per-volume high-performance firearm lubricant you’ll find, and likely one purchase will keep you lubing for years:

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That’s right.  It’s good enough for moving parts in a metal box full of explosions driving a shaft to several thousand revolutions per minute for ~450,000 hours before you should replace it, in nearly any environment you’ll find on Earth.  I think it’ll hold up just fine keeping a couple of surfaces and moving parts slick over the course of a few hundred cycles before it’s wiped off and reapplied.  Similar logic applies to grease- Mil-Comm stuff is the shit, and recommended by SIG for their products.  But Lucas Oil White Lithium Grease is hard to beat with it’s track record and price point.

Additional thoughts-

  • A brass brush, and traditional steel rod with brush attachments are still good to have on hand in case of heavy fouling.
  • A bottle of Windex (or generic ammonia based glass cleaner) is good to have if you’re planning on shooting corrosive surplus ammunition.  Just be sure to clean properly afterwards.  The ammonia doesn’t replace a step in the process, only adds one before you do the first round of solvent.
  • Seriously CLP is awesome.  Have some.  Have extra.  This stuff works for all kinds of stuff, from sticky door locks, to bicycle maintenance.
  • A box of some sort is nice.  I honestly can’t remember from where mine originally came into being.  I believe it was a hard case for one of my father’s old electric grooming devices.  Perfect size for the range bag though, so it just kind of stuck.  Small tool or tackle boxes work pretty well though.
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  • Medical exam gloves are awesome to use while cleaning.  You will get fouling all over your hands.  You will get solvent all over your hands.  You will get lubricant all over your hands.  The pleasant smelling MC25 isn’t too bad to get on yourself, but still best to avoid getting most of these chemicals all over yourself.  Use protection my friends.
  • A Bore Light, such as the one mentioned in a previous post, is a great additional tool to have in the kit, so you can have a look in tight places, and check how spic & span your barrel interior is after running those boresnakes through.
  • As far as a toothbrush, a military-style one that has the large and small bristle area is awesome, but what do I always have around?  Worn out former dental toothbrush, after good cleaning of course.  They last about the same interval anyway.
  • Additionally, a small screwdriver set and punches (as needed by your particular firearms) are good to keep on hand in your kit.

Enjoy, and shoot clean.