Category Archives: Shopping

Armson Gen II Retro OEG

After quite a bit of shooting the previously reviewed Troy XM177E2, I’d gotten interested in getting some type of retro optic on there. While I was initially leaning towards the Brownells Retro 4X, finding one in stock (even before COVID has been clearing the shelves) proved nearly impossible.
Edit: Naturally, now that I’m writing this, they’re in stock.

On the strong suggestion of this website’s occasional other writer, I looked into another period-correct option – an Occluded Eye Gunsight. These are essentially the predecessor to the modern red dot – rather than having a see through tube, you have a black tube with a fiber optic (and optionally, a tritium lamp) in the front. When viewed with both eyes open, it projects the sharply detailed, but “soft” red dot over the target. This is very similar to using an Aimpoint or other red dot with the front cover closed, and keeping both eyes open.

While this sounds like a huge disadvantage, upon using it, you’ll immediately find that it has several advantages over a modern red dot, not the least of which is the fact that it’s always on, and it’s brightness is never a factor since the eye witnessing it is always against a solid black background, so when your brain combines the image, the dot will always be visible. You can be looking directly into a light source, and still see that dot. It’s also never too bright for a situation. It’s always just a perfect, soft red dot.

If you get one with tritium (and you should), this extends to low-light shooting as well. The tritum lamp provides just enough illumination to the fiber optic to give you a visible soft red dot that wont interfere with your eyesight in low light.

This is where this gunsight really shines, and why it happens to be “historically correct” on this rifle – during the Son Tay raid, commercial off-the-shelf Single Point OEGs were used. During the practice for the raid, it was found that these drastically increased hit probability at night – and thus we got (as far as I can tell) the first use of a red dot type sight in combat.

The only real drawback is in the potential difficulty in zeroing. For what it’s worth, I think I got lucky and mine was almost dead on at 25y out of the box – but it definitely helped that the M16 carry handle mount mine came on allowed viewing of the iron sights through a channel under it. One of the quirks of how these sights work with your brain is, if you try to actually focus on the dot, it’s likely to “move around” as your brain tries to reconcile what’s going on. What this means is, you have to keep both eyes on the target, not focus on the dot, and make fairly quick shots as soon as you bring the rifle up. These sights are intended for fairly close range work, however, so just getting it in the ballpark of center of mass at 25y is plenty fine – and once you get a bit more used to using it, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting it zeroed more precisely if you’d like. My OEG came with instructions on how to do this.

As a final shoutout, Armson’s customer service is fantastic. I had a brief email exchange with Mr. Hatcher about my sight and ended up with a real “this thing was built specifically for me” feeling from the whole interaction. While they are a bit pricey for something that can be considered such old generation tech – M16 Gen II Retro = $209.95 + $40 for the tritium – these clearly fall into the “don’t build them like they used to” department… even though Armson definitely does continue to build ’em like they used to. It’s also worth noting that they will replace / retrofit older OEGs with new tritium, as well as upgraded adjustment knobs.

Holiday Gift Guide – 2019

It’s about that time of year again – so here are some holiday gift suggestions. I’ll also be listing some early & upcoming Black Friday sales shortly!

Edit: I’ll probably be adding to this over the next few weeks as I run across things or people make suggestions on our Facebook page.

Stocking Stuffers

Ammunition

A box or two of ammunition is always a great option for something that fits just fine in a stocking. Lately I’ve been doing most of my buying from SGAmmo, Target Sports USA, and Lucky Gunner.

Bleeding Control Kit / Basic Trauma Pack – $69.99

I wanted to include something like this in the list – and this particular one seemed to be pretty well reviewed. If anyone with more experience using this stuff has any better suggestions in this price range, let me know!

Maglula UpLULA Magazine Reloader – $27.49

If you don’t already have one of these, or know someone who shoots and doesn’t already have one of these – this is a no brainer. Trust me.

Under $50

Bushnell Magnetic Boresighter – $27

Especially if you’re getting someone some new optics (or know they’re getting or likely to get some for Christmas), one of these is handy – and will at the very least give ’em something to do with the rifle until they can get out to to the range to finish sighting it in properly.

Strelok Pro App – $11.99

Worth. Every. Penny.

So this might be an odd choice for a Christmas list since it’s not a physical good – but getting someone a Google Play / iTunes gift card for this one and giving them the link would be a great gift for anyone who’s thinking of getting into long range shooting. This app is phenomenal.
Available via Google Play Store or the App Store, for Android or iOS, respectively.

OSAGE RIVER Range Bag – $44.99

Available in a few colors in different sizes.

Everyone can use a good range bag or 2. Or 3.

Plano 1612 Water Resistant Field Box – $18.99

These make great ammunition boxes, among other things.

For People You Really Like

MagnetoSpeed Barrel Mounted Chronograph – $179

Caveat – I haven’t gotten a chance to use one of these myself yet, but they’re well reviewed, and for rifle shooting anyway, seem more handy than a traditional shoot-through chrono. If one of you do decide to get one of these, be sure to let me know what you think of it!

Caldwell Precision Shooting Rest – $59.61

Caldwell makes more than just sandbags for shooting rests. This is a nice middle ground between nothing and a full lead sled rig.

LaserLyte Laser Trainer – $98.99

So these are pretty neat – works like a snapcap, but flashes a laser point roughly where the point of impact would be. Granted – it’s a laser, there’s no drop, so this is more of a “make sure you’re not jerking the thing off target” than “practice at home” thing – but still pretty neat. You can also get some accessories for it.

Sig BDX Combo Kit – $1149.99

I’ll take one too, if you would.

So here’s the crown jewel of the list. If you’ve got someone you really want to make smile, this is an awesome piece of kit for the money. I could probably spend a whole article on this one and what it can do, but go check it out. Also worth noting, the list price on this one is $1679.99, get it while it’s hot!

Timney Targa Drop-in Trigger – Install and Review

Though Geissele seems to dominate the topic of aftermarket AR triggers, I’ve long been a fan of Timney Triggers when it comes to other applications, so I figured I’d give them a try when it came time to upgrade the trigger on the AR9 project gun.

That Milspec trigger from PSA won’t do.

So, after watching for deals for a bit, I ended up snagging one for a decent price from grabagun.

I went with the flat bow rather than curved, but even their curved one is quite a bit straighter than many AR triggers.  This is mostly personal preference.

So, the neat there here is – compared to many other AR triggers available – these units are pre-assembled in an aluminum housing that just drops right in place.  Not only does it make them a snap to install, but you can swap them out just as easily.

Here’s what’s included

How to Install:

      1. Typical safety disclaimer:
        Make sure the firearm is unloaded, have no ammunition in your work area, wear protection, look both ways, etc.
      2. Remove the upper receiver.
      3. Remove the Grip, being careful not to lose the Safety Detent & Spring.
      4. Carefully remove the Safety.
      5. Remove the remaining pins holding the trigger assembly in place.  You’ll need these when installing the new trigger.

        You could use a punch to remove these, but they were easy enough to nudge out with the included Allen Wrench
      6. Remove the trigger assembly, and toss into the parts bin / trash.   Seriously though – you probably wont want them again after shooting with a proper aftermarket trigger.
      7. Enjoy the satisfying *thunk* from dropping your Timney Targa trigger into place.
      8. Line up and replace the pins.  Note that there won’t be much tension on these yet to hold them in.  We’re about to remedy that.
      9. Using the provided Allen Wrench, tighten the set screws in the bottom of the trigger module housing.  There’s one on each side.
      10. Replace the Safety.
      11. Replace the Grip, being sure that the Safety Detent and Spring make it back in there.
      12. Function test the trigger and safety, then do a standard AR function test once you replace the upper.

     

Listen to that gorgeous reset and hammer fall.

I can’t wait to try out the Timney trigger I’ve selected for another project, currently being worked on by our other writer.

Huge improvement over the standard Milspec trigger.

Ordering a CMP M1 Garand

Get off my lawn.

As a special Memorial Day themed post, I thought I’d give a rundown of cheapest way to get yourself the rifle you’ve seen in at least one movie today, if you do Memorial Day correctly.

There are, of course, easier ways to get your hand on an M1, simply purchasing at a gun show, or an LGS if they have one would be easy enough, and ordering online from gunbroker or a builder such as Fulton Armory would take just slightly more effort.

But if you want both the benefit of paying as little as $650 for an M1 that’s in guaranteed usable condition, the novelty of legally ordering a battle rifle direct to your door without going through an FFL, the Civilian Marksmanship Program is the only way to go.  As an added bonus, you get to support a really great organization that was legislated into existence with a really great goal – getting surplus military arms into the hands of qualified US citizens in order to ensure the future of marksmanship and gun safety.  Or, I guess, you can check out their actual mission statement.  I was close enough.

Enough babbling.  So, in order to make the cut, you need to meet similar requirements that you’d need to make any 4473 purchase, with 3 additional reqs:

  • Be a US Citizen, Over 18 Years of Age
  • Be a member of a CMP Affiliated Organization
  • Show proof of Marksmanship or Firearms Related Activity

A lot of folks see the $650-750 M1s and love the idea, but balk at the effort needed to order.  But – it’s not really that hard, here’s the easiest path:

  1. Download an order packet here.
    You’ll want to fill as much of this as you can as a fillable form, then print the whole thing.  Pro-tip: Use the checklist page as you go.
  2. Easiest way to take care of the Citizenship and Date of Birth proof, is with a US Passport or Passport Card.  Make a copy of it on a copy machine, print, and put that in with the packet.  Done.
  3. CMP Affiliated club – you may a member of one, and not even know it, esp. if you’re a member of a shooting range or club, double especially if they do any NRA High Power / Service Rifle or CMP matches.
    If NOT, which will still be the case for most people, there’s a quick and easy to this, and it’ll only cost you $25.  Join the Garand Collectors Association here.  Even spending $25, you’re still getting a great deal.  Heck, you’re even going to get 2nd Day FedEx shipping on that rifle for no cost.
    In any case, once you’ve confirmed you’re in an affiliated club, or made it so, either print a copy of your membership card, or just the membership page of the website (they’re not too picky), and throw it in your order packet.
  4. Marksmanship or other Firearms Related Activity.
    Note: Exempt from this requirement if over 60 years old.
    Alright, so this may either be the easy one, or the involved one, depending on your situation.  If you’ve got a CHL / License to Carry, you’re good to go.  Copy and print it, shuffle into the order packet, and you’re done.
    If you do not have a CHL / LTC, you’ll have to meet this one some other way.   Current or past Military or LE service meets this requirement.  Copy a relevant ID card or DD214 and you’re good to go.
    Otherwise, there are a few other options, but the easiest is to print one of these, head to your local range, and get an RSO to sign off for you.  Congrats, the hardest part is over.
  5. Have that form all together, make sure you didn’t accidentally leave any original items in there (they don’t want your passport), get it an a document mailer, and take it somewhere with a notary.  UPS stores are a good bet because you can just send from there, but any kind of shipping / postal shop is a good bet so you can get page 2 notarized and then get the whole thing shipped in one go.
  6. Send to:
    CMP SALES
    1401 COMMERCE BLVD
    ANNISTON, AL 36207
  7. Wait.  Okay, actually this is the hard part.  They’re pretty full up on orders, so much so, that I’m always astounded they even HAVE any surplus Garands left.  If you don’t want to wait *that* long, get a Field Grade or buck up and get a Special Grade.  Service Grades, the current “best” condition USGI barreled rifles you can get, currently have ~ 2 month wait.

The neat part: once you’ve done the above, if you decide to make another order from the CMP in the following 3 years, you don’t need to do any of the above again.  You can just give ’em a call, tell them which grade rifle you want, and read them your credit card number.  You will also be “in the system” for things other than M1s.  More on that below.

The CMP is currently processing a has just started selling a big batch of rifles that we recovered from the Philippines.  Here’s a really interesting video on all that went into that:

Stay tuned for later posts about finishing / oiling that new production CMP marked stock you’re very likely to get.

Additionally, starting next month, surplus 1911s will be a thing, but expect a pretty long wait and possibility you wont make the cut, as they’ve only been authorized to sell a relatively small number of these per year, at least at first.  Maybe that will be increased in a later NDAA, depending on what congress looks like next year.

Budget “Precision” AR

First off – yeah, not a “precision” rifle by any means, but a decent range plinker that’ll tack-drive just fine inside of 300y.  Just thought that was worth mentioning in case the sarcasm in the title wasn’t on-the-nose enough.

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 once the 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.

Black Friday Sale at Silencer Shop

ss_black_friday_16_1200x626_web

As a good follow up to last week’s post about the hope for action on the Hearing Protection Act of 2015, Silencer Shop is currently having a pretty noteworthy Black Friday sale from now until 11:59PM CST on 28 Nov.  If you’ve been thinking about getting a can, it might be worth it to go ahead and pull the trigger this weekend.

In case you haven’t shopped here, or looked too closely, at how Austin, TX based Silencer Shop works, they not only have one of the widest selections of in-stock suppressors available, but a large dealer network that can handle all of your Form 4 paperwork, plus a new Kiosk system at specific dealers which allows you to handle fingerprinting on site, and finally a mobile app that lets you take and submit an ATF approved photo, so no more going to Walgreens for passport photos.

storepage

They’ve got 2 pages of good on sale deals at the moment, although some of the more desirable options are already Out-of-stock (looking at you Gemtech Multimount 9).  If you’re looking for a lightweight & compact .45ACP can, the GM-45 is still in stock, and lited for a very attractive $499, and the Liberty Cosmic is going for $664.

If you find something there you want (the easy part) and can afford (come on, you can’t beat these prices!), you’ll need to select a dealer on the left side menu after selection options.  Prices may vary slightly, as this includes transfer fees.  You’ll want to selection one with the powered logo as this indicates a dealer that will work with Silencer Shop to handle all paperwork, and if available nearby, one with the Fingerprint logo, showing that they have a Kiosk on site.

silencershop

Once added to cart, you will be reminded that you require a tax stamp (for now anyway, COME ON HR 3799!), which you will be able to add to the cart for $205.  $200 of that is to the ATF, and $5 goes to Silencer Shop for setting up such an awesomely streamlined system for making NFA purchases.  For more on that, see here.

If you find any other good deals, be sure to comment below, or on our Facebook Page!

Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck on Black Friday!

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.

 

ar9_greyarsenal1

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.

ar9_greyarsenal20

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.

ar9_greyarsenal23

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.

ar9_greyarsenal17

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.

Magazine Review: ETS & Lancer

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First off, let me apologize for the assault on your eyes that is the above image.  It was created in MS Paint on a laptop via touchpad.  If it has caused any bodily harm, please contact me and I’ll give you the contact information of my attorney.

Okay, so there are a couple of fairly new contenders out there trying to give Magpul a run for their money on polymer magazines.  In a recent project, I tested Lancer’s L5 Advanced Warfigher Magazine, or “L5AWM” magazine in it’s most relevant 30-round configuration with my Windham AR.

While these aren’t brand-spanking-new, they’re new enough that some folks I showed ’em off to hadn’t seen them yet or heard of them, whereas I’m sure any of them could’ve ID’ed a PMAG from a mile away.  They have been getting some attention at SHOT and in other marketing venues, as I’ve been seeing them pop up in pictures of new ARs or platforms using STANAG type magazines, and seem to be the preferred magazine used in SIG’s marketing of the MCX.  Of course it’s today’s SIG, so they probably just picked them because they looked decently sci-fi to go with everything else they’ve been doing lately.

So, aside from looking futuristic enough for SIG, how are they?  Pretty good, actually- Mine were the “smoked” color, which seems to be the most popular.  It’s nice to get a visual read on your round count from any angle, and to even be able to quickly visually identify which ammunition is loaded, and not have an open slit on the side like the window’ed PMAGs.  The material feels a bit harder than the polymer used by Magpul (and Troy), but doesn’t feel the least bit brittle or flimsy.

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The metal upper, which gets these referred to as “hybrid” magazines, sets these apart, and inspires confidence.  It also allows use of the standard loading tool when loading them from stripper clips.  While this has gotten to be standard for other polymer magazines, it still feels nice to have that metal-on-metal contact when doing so.

As far as actual performance, I’ve had roughly 1000 rounds between 3 of these and haven’t had a single failure.  While that’s also singing praises to my Windham AR and the Federal XM193 ammunition being used, not having a single magazine-related failure over that span, even while trying to be a bit more rough than usual, reflects well on these.

They were selling for real cheap for a while, and had been available from Wilson Combat on sale for ~$12 when I snagged them, but they seem to be hitting ‘Flavor-of-the-Month’ status with a price and stock level to reflect that.  At the time of writing, they seem to be going for ~$20.

Edit: Also, happened to find this showing a drop test between these and PMAGs.  Glad someone else decided to repeatedly drop their AR for our benefit, because I wasn’t about to test ’em that hard just for your benefit.

 

Next up: ETS Glock Magazines

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Alright, so these actually *are* new enough that I can definitely call them new, as they seem to have just been announced last October and just started hitting the market around the time of SHOT.  ETS (Elite Tactical Systems), in addition to another translucent polymer AR magazine, brings us translucent polymer Glock magazines.

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Currently available in a variety of sizes and capacities, generally made to match common varieties, that is, a 17rnd Glock 17 sized mag, 15rnd Glock 19 sized mag, 10rnd Glock 26 sized mag, and a 31 round Extended mag.  They’ve also got 10-round limited varieties for folks in places where that’s required, and a 22rnd “Competition Legal” length magazine (140mm).  So, no matter what you’ve got as far as 9mm or .40cal Glock, they’ve got you covered.  They’re also fully compatible with Glock OEM floorplates, and disassemble in the same manner, so feel free to slap a 7151 “+” plate and insert on there and get an extra round or two in ’em.

Also, notably, they’ve beaten Magpul to the market, as Magpul has yet to release their Competition length and Extended magazines, which are currently scheduled for release this summer.  Magpul’s offering also seems to be a bit odd in that they have a lower capacity in the same size magazines compared to both OEM and ETS, their competition, with extended magazines being 21 and 27 round capacities, respectively.  They’re also not compatible with OEM or other aftermarket floorplates, as they seem to be proprietary.

While I haven’t tested these as extensively as I have the Lancer mags, I can say, while my initial impression was a bit leery, due to the cheap-ish feeling polymer and what seemed to be a clearly visible thin-gauge spring, the 31 round magazine performed flawlessly in both my Glock 19 and a PSA 9mm AR pistol over the course of 350 rounds, with only a single FTF in the AR pistol which doesn’t appear to be a fault of the magazine.

One notable quirk, however, is that while these drop free when empty, when fully loaded, they seem a bit tighter going into both platforms with which I tested them.  Not prohibitively tight or anything, but just similar to using magazines that don’t drop-free, kind of like I’ve experienced with some other (very cheap) non-OEM Glock magazines, or older G17 magazines.  Loading one less round seems to have resolved this (30 instead of 31) completely, and I’ll update once I install “+” plates on both.  The company mentions typical marketing-sounding statements about being able to store loaded without worrying about the feed lips, and makes statements about drop tests, and I can confirm dropping and banging these things around both at the range and on an outdoor concrete slab wasn’t able to cause an harm to them in any way or cause any failures, but I just thought this was worth noting.

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At ~ half the price of equal sized OEM Glock magazines, I don’t mind using these for practice, but I’m not sure I’ll trust them for carry until I’ve had the chance to beat them up a bit more and see how they old up.

Edit: Having now had about 1,500 rounds through them feeding an AR9 with no failures, I know they’re at least reliable at that, and they’ve held up to getting lightly banged around.

 

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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