Category Archives: Guide

Budget “Precision” AR

In case you haven’t noticed, the entry price of ARs has fallen off a cliff lately.  A look at the front page of Bud’s Gun Shop will usually show you at least one budget entry AR from a maker you’ve either never seen, or didn’t think you’d ever see in the AR Market, for right around $500.

Remember just a few years ago when these were hovering at $1k?  Good times.  Anywho, the price to build ’em has likewise plummeted, so if you’ve ever wanted to put one together, if you’re sitting on a closet full of lowers you bought during the great panic, you’ve been thinking of dabbling in a different caliber like .458, or you just want to mix ‘n match a new complete lower and barreled upper to get what you want, now’s the time.

I happened across some good sales around Memorial Day, but since checking, the prices on some of these have actually stayed at the sale price, so this info should still be pretty close to accurate.  As the first thing I acquired to kick this off was a Palmetto State Armory complete lower, I figured I’d keep it simple and go with a barreled upper and see if I could put something together that would reliably drive tacks at paper or varmints out to 300 yards on the cheap.

Since I was yet to foray into FDE colored stuff, I figured for my cheapo “blemished” lower, I’d have Palmetto send me one with FDE furniture.  I figured I’d probably be chucking it anyway, so  why not have a few FDE bits in the parts bin with all the black stuff.  Note on the “blemished” lower – best I could find that counted as a blemish, was an ever so slight discoloration in the finish.  Most people I know that get these never find the “blemish.”  Unless someone with inside info tells me otherwise, I’ve got to assume if it gets knocked over, or someone sneezes on it at some point in production, it’s marked “blem.”

For the barreled upper – I tried to find something over 16″ in a profile that made sense, but failed to find either while keeping the price point, so settled on the ubiquitous 16″ M4 profile.  Specifically, I went with what was on sale at Primary Arms.  I’ve heard mixed thing about Radical Firearms’ stuff, but most of the issues are with complete rifles, and typical of cheap BCG assemblies.  In this case, I’m just going for a barreled upper, and at that price, I’ll work it out, even if I have to replace the gas block or something. Plus, it’s always nice to throw business to a local manufacturer.

It’s also worth noting that the cheapest they had on sale came with a rather interesting hand guard.  It’s a free floated round tube with MOE compatible slots.  As best as I can tell, it’s a Radical Firearms original part (it is marked with their logo on the forward part of the rail).  While I like the look, and the round shape and size are pretty comfortable – the finish wasn’t great, and after now having used it, I can say, MOE attachment sucks – no wonder they developed m-lok.

So, upper and lower mated with no problem, rifle now needs a heart.  Luck had it that PSA had a Nickel Boron BCG on sale for $100 (and, despite being advertised as a daily deal, appears to *still* be on sale for that price).  I’ve never had a bling BCG, so figured I’d get it a shot.

Note: it’s not a full auto BCG, as a lot of folks tend to like using, with the thought it gives it extra strength / weight due to the extra material, but it’s also a $100 complete NiB BCG, so make of that what you will.

Also needed a charging handle, and figuring I was going to scope this one, and riding on the bling high of the NiB BCG, I went with a Gunfighter Mod 4 CH from Primary Arms that I’d already had waiting for a project in the parts bin, so in it went.

So that’s it, the rifle now passing function check, it was time to put some bits and pieces on there to make it capable of what I wanted out of it.  I already had a perfectly decent optic not in use, an older Bushnell Banner 4-12x40mm Adjustable Dusk/Dawn scope.  It hadn’t had a home in a couple of years, and punching paper at the range or bulls-eyeing prairie dogs doesn’t require mil-dots or fancy target turrets, so this will do.  I also had a cheap, but serviceable AR mount that would work for said scope.  I’ll include both of these, as well as the charging handle in the final price, but in my case, I didn’t have to worry about them.

This brings me around to one of my final points – with the FDE funiture on there, I figured I’d delve into one more thing I’ve been meaning to try out, and this being a cheap build, I’ve got no qualms about it – rattle can painting a rifle.  After doing a bit of research and running across this:

(Credit to jwfuhrman on m4carbine.net)

I went with Rust-Oleum Satin Dark Taupe.  It still ended up being a bit lighter than I wanted, probably a closer match to Magpul’s new “Sand” color, but matching shades of FDE is pretty tricky business, and I’m still happy with the way it turned out.  It’s also worth mentioning that this paint took a good 12 hours before it wasn’t tacky, and about a full day before I was comfortable handling it.  It’s also a tad glossier than I’d have liked, but the feel to the touch reminds me of the satin Cerakote finishes, which is exactly what I wanted.  Also, it’s already began to dull a tad, and should lose that extra sheen with regular use.

Spraying it was as easy as masking parts off and dusting until the black was covered.  It’s worth noting that you’d probably want a good clean and degreasing with brake cleaner or similar before doing this under normal conditions, but as these were new in the plastic and unlubricated, I didn’t need to do that kind of prep.

While I haven’t gotten a chance to test it at range due to weather lately, I did a 25 yard 100 yard zero at a local indoor range using free-to-download targets from ARMA DYNAMICS.  These are a pretty good resource to get a quick and dirty zero if all you’ve got access to is an indoor range.  In shooting it, I noticed two minor things this rifle could still use to make it that much better at it’s given objective, that would still be within what I consider a budget price range:

A bipod (which also required mounting solution, and as this tube had MOE slots, I went with a Magpul MOE 5 slot rail segment)…

…and a fixed stock.  I’d been wanting to try out the the carbine MOE Fixed stock I’d been seeing.  With the extended pad, it’s still just a tad shorter than I’d like, about the length of a 6 position one in from the longest, but it’ll do.

So that’s that, for now.  I’ll give an update when I get to stretch it’s legs a bit, but for the all-in on this one, even if I had to buy the parts I already had on hand, it’s a steal.  As stated at the beginning, if you’re not yet in the AR club and want to, or simply have AR projects you’ve been wanting to start (or finish), now’s the time.

Build Price Breakdown:

BLEM PSA AR-15 FREEDOM CLASSIC LOWER – 7779346B
$129.99
PSA FREEDOM 5.56 NICKEL BORON BCG – 516445123
$99.99
Radical Firearms 16″ 5.56 M4 Barreled Upper – with 10″ MOE FGS
$179.99
Bravo Company / Vltor 5.56/.223 Charging Handle Mod 4
$49.95
Bushnell Banner 4-12x 40mm Adjustable Obj Rifle Scope
$89.99
CCOP High Profile AR-ArmourTac Rifle Scope Mount Rings
$33.55
Rust-Oleum 241238 Satin Enamels Spray, Dark Taupe
$3.98
Leapers Tactical OP Bipod
$32.97
Magpul MOE Polymer Rail Section – 5 Slot
$4.49
Magpul MOE Fixed Carbine Stock
$23.99
Magpul PRS Extended Rubber Butt-Pad 0.80″
$11.95

Total Price as Configured: $660.84
No shipping prices were required in the above build

If I was to spend a bit more on it, the first thing I’d go for would be replacing the milspec trigger PSA included.  It’s not the worst, but it’s a typical milspec AR trigger.  I’d try to catch a sale for a Timney or Geissele.

PSA AR-9 Hybrid, Part 2: SBR’ed

 

If you saw the previous review/build post here, you’d know there was something we’ve been waiting on.

Well, after only 239 days, our Form 1 (e-filed, trust) was approved.  So, $200, 7 Months, and 25 Days, we’ve got our official Federal Government A-OK to put a different shaped piece of aluminum and rubber on the back of our pistol.

Transition was easy necessities were out of the way – that is, engraving the trust name on the receiver, making that a new SBR was manufactured, where and by whom, to match the approved Form 1, and what is now on the NFA registry.

On that note, I have to give a shout out to John Kleiber of Class 3 Weapons in Houston, TX.  If you need some engraving done, or want to skip the process and just buy an SBR’ed lower or full SBR (or just about any other NFA item you can think up), give them a call.

Once that was out of the way, all that was left to do was swap the Pistol Buffer and End Plate for a standard AR Buffer, End Plate, and Castle Nut.  Went with a low cost DPMS buffer tube, as I’ve used these a few times before, matching castle nut, and a PSA End Plate with a QD point.

And, finally, the transcendent moment where you put a stock on there.

I initially went with what I had laying around because I hadn’t decided on anything special yet, so it got an old Windham marked standard AR stock.

After shooting with it once, and deciding I wanted something a bit more stable, and running across one in my local Academy Sports, I picked up the flavor-of-the-month MFT Minimalist I’ve been seeing on 9 out of 10 posts on r/nfa lately.

The hype is well deserved though, its stable, with a nice wide contact surface, and gave a perfect fit on my buffer tube with absolutely zero rattle, while also not being too tight to move freely when engaged.  I’ve heard some cases where people have issues with the Minimalist being a bit too night, but the fit with the DPMS tubed seemed perfect.

It’s noteworthy that PSA has come out with a different model of this lower that has slightly different lines that make it look a tad more like the AR from which it was derived, and has the Last Round Bolt Hold Open feature.  While I like the design a bit better aesthetically, and LRBHO is a great feature – this is primarily a range toy, and that would be one more moving part to fail.

NFA Applications: Post 41P CLEO Notification

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NOTE: This is going to be a quick one, but I intend to expand on it by turning it into a catch-all list of CLEO contact information for every County in Texas, as I wasn’t able to easily find it when searching.

Since ATF rule 41P went into effect, not only are you not able to do Form 1s for a Trust online, but you now have to complete fingerprinting and provide a photograph just as if you were completing for an individual, additionally, each responsible person in your Trust needs to complete a Form 5320.23 with their own fingerprinting and photograph.  The applicant (and each responsible person if applicable) is now required to perform CLEO notification, as well.

If there’s one positive to come out of this, it’s that the CLEO notification requirement is now simply “notification” and no longer requires a sign off.  How this works is- you simply copy your completed Form 1 / 4 / 5 prior to submission, and mail to your “Chief of Police, Sheriff, Head of State Police, or State or local district attorney or prosecutor.”  In practice, the County Sheriff is usually the go-to on this.  Previously, depending on where you live, you may have had to dance around to see which would sign off for you the easiest (if at all), and in the case of a trust with multiple responsible persons, that would have potentially been prohibitive by regulation- hence the easing it by only requiring notification.

Unfortunately, as anyone who follows how ATF regulations goes, there isn’t a clear mechanism for determining this notification.  The ATF put out an open letter to law enforcement letting them know, but there’s no legal guidelines for retention, thus no way to prove you’re in compliance if they don’t keep your records.  Additionally, I know for myself, and I’m sure many others, I’d prefer local LE to not keep a registry of this, and in-fact man state laws prohibit this.  So, for your own legal safety, BE SURE you send that CLEO notification registered mail, and retain the receipt of it with your records.  Only you can CY(own)A.

Edit: Due to elections in Novemember, the Texas CLEO contact list by county may have gotten out of date, I’ll need to confirm that the contact information is good before reposting.

 

PSA AR-9 Hybrid Review

I need to begin this one with an important note: The device seen attached to the pistol buffer tube is a Shockwave Technologies Blade Pistol Stabilizer, which includes an ATF letter indicating that installation of this device and proper use does constitute assembly of an NFA item.  More details on that later.

 

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In a masterstroke, PSA decided to make what they’ve termed a Hybrid BCG that allows use of either Colt SMG-style or Glock magazines with the same upper/BCG.  It’s ramped, so depending on the lower / hammer you’re using, it’ll be easier on your hammer pin, if that’s a concern.  Being PSA, one of the preeminent sources of AR Lowers and pretty much anything else you’d want for an AR build on the cheap while still being able to trust the craftsmanship, they’ve also introduced a few complete 9mm uppers in various common lengths with various popular handguard / rail configurations.

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While they’ve already had both uppers/lowers and complete rifles using their previous AR-9 BCG and dedicated lower for Colt SMG magazines, to coincide with release of this Hybrid BCG, they’ve introduced a dedicated Glock Magazine lower (which appears VERY similar to the popular Quarter Circle 10 GSF lower).  So if you were looking to build a pistol-caliber AR, and already have a good number of Glock 9mm magazines (and who doesn’t?), this can *significantly* cut down on the cost of kitting up for your new firearm.

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Granted, that Dedicated Glock Pistol Lower has been pretty difficult to catch in stock, but when you can catch it, it’s significantly cheaper than the comparable Quarter Circle 10 product, and both the pistol and rifle lowers come with PSA’s pistol buffer.

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While it would be tempting just to get what’s in stock, depending on your build plans, it would be easy to run afoul of the ATF’s “constructive intent” laws with regards to NFA items, in this case, having what you need on hand to construct an SBR.

In my case, I while I *do* plan on SBR’ing this pistol (and plan to do a write on up that process and in the involved costs), I wanted to start with a 7.5″ pistol build, which I’ll eventually build into an SBR by replacing the pistol buffer with a Mil-spec buffer tube and standard AR stock.  Just be wary of what other parts you have laying around, and don’t get tempted to play around with this topic.

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Back on topic- with the task of building a short 9mm AR pistol that can share magazines with my Glocks, and keep things relatively cheap, I decided on the following:

While not currently available, the total cost of this build at the last time the upper and lower were available would be:

  • Lower: $249
  • Upper: $349
  • Optic: $21.99
  • Handstop: $47.26
  • Sling: $23.99
  • Stabilizer: $51.28
  • Total as configured at last available prices: $742.52 (w/o shipping)

As far as the optic- I wanted to try something lightweight and cheap and see how it stands up to use on this 9mm.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend something not proven (i.e., not significantly pricier) on a firearm intended for self defense use, this will be a chance to review a lower-priced optic on what is, for the mean time, a range toy.  Once it’s SBR’ed, unless I’m *really* impressed with that optic, it’ll probably start wearing a Mepro or Aimpoint Micro.

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As far as quality of the PSA upper and lower, everything bolted together as intended, no rattle, and I’ve experienced 0 failures for the first 400 rounds of 124gr 9mm.  This thing is *so* fun to shoot infact, that I’m thinking of Suppressing it after it gets SBR’ed, at which point I’m not even sure anything else would make it to the pistol range with me unless I needed to practice for something specific, even as gimped as it is in not using that brace as a stock and just using it for cheekweld, it’s just that fun.

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That’s that for now, I’ll follow up when I get my Form 1 stamp and can properly finish this thing.  Also, stay tuned for individual reviews of the optic, Odin Handstop (I like it.), and the Stabilizer.

Update 6/21: Form 1 submitted, now we play the waiting game.
Update 2/15: Form 1 Approved after nearly 8 months.

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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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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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.

Considering your first firearm: Part I

What kind of gun should I buy?

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This is one of the more common questions I get, along with “Should I get A or B?”  It’s not the easiest to answer, because it depends a lot on what you’re looking to do with it.  In this post, I’ll try to address this as easily as possible, and point you in the right direction of further researching your decision.

Luckily, I’ve created a handy chart to help!  Follow along to see which type of firearm may be a good fit for you, and follow the green, yellow, and red lines to examples at different relative price ranges with green being the cheapest and red being the most expensive.

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Basically, you first have to ask what purpose you’re looking for your firearm to fill.  The big 4 roles (and most common firearms for such) here being:

  • Home Defense (Shorter Pump Shotguns, Full Size Handguns)
  • Concealed Carry (Compact and Subcompact Handguns)
  • Shooting Sports (All types, regulations specify specifics)
  • Hunting (Rifles, Long Barreled Shotguns, Big Bore Handguns)

 

DSCN1478DSCN1309b644746_10100331270762683_1519565809_nDSCN1503While there’s obviously a bit of a overlap between categories, and there’s a lot of desire in many new buyers to want to get something to fill as many roles as possible, it’s best to decide what you want most and get something that will fill that role as best as possible for what you want to spend.  The problem of having a Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none is going to become apparent fairly quickly when attempting to practice or put the firearm to use for it’s intended purpose.

For instance, a common mistake is wanting to get a shotgun that can just as easily be used for sport as it can for home defense.  The requirements are very different for these two roles, and even in cases where it can be readily converted (for instance, a Mossberg 500 / Maverick 88 could have the tactical stock / pistol grip swapped out for a traditional field stock, and the 18″ barrel changed out for a 28″ Vented Ribbed barrel with a choke, or vice versa) it’s rarely going to do nearly as well as it would just have a dedicated platform for what you’re trying to get out of it.

There are exceptions, of course, for instance practical shooting sports such as IDPA, which specifically exist to promote the use of, and thus increase in skill with, personal defense weapons.

For additional help in choosing a specific firearm for sport purposes, this was an awesome read by a true professional in the world of shooting sports.

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