Category Archives: Shopping

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 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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.

L5-AWM

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.

ets site

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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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.

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.