As much as I would like to think there are folks out there randomly visiting my site to see the newest thing I decided to talk about, that is just not how people generally find out about updates.
In an effort to make this easier, I’ve launched a Facebook page where links to new articles will be shared, making it easier or folks that follow to see when something new is up, and hopefully be able to share it more conveniently. It’ll also be nice to be able to have discussions there, where communication will likely be quicker… as much as I try to pay attention to comments on here, if my phone lets me know every time someone comments, I’ll likely be a lot more active in answering questions, or thanking folks for sharing info.
This will also enable me to easier get vendors and other communities involved. So come visit on Facebook and stay tuned, once I get some content linked over there and start getting some likes, I may have to feel out doing a giveaway or setting up an event!
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.
This one’s a little more local/personal than most of my posts, but I just wanted to give a quick shout out to shooters in the Houston area. Everyone in the area knows how bad the flooding has been since a few months ago and the kind of crazy we saw in town, but you may or may not be aware that until just a few weekends ago, one of the only decent Sport Clays courses in the area, at ASC, was down for the count.
While they had a limited reopening, still not too long ago, it was questionable when their sporting clays fields would be reopen, and if so, in what condition patrons would find them.
Well, I’d like to report, that they’re back up and running, and I’m digging the new arrangement. Blue course feels a bit more challenging that it did before (but is still nowhere near the red course’s difficulty, so no need for concern for the casual shooters). A few of the stands weren’t open at the moment, and you can still see that repairs are underway. Also, a new system is in place with a “pay as you go” instead of pre-loaded amounts. The pricing is a bit cheaper to build in the free presentation pairs, but since we usually shoot at those anyway, it’s just additional savings.
I’ll head back out in a week or so for a more detailed report and get some more pictures, as this was just a quickie 50 round run to see how the place looks after being under water for 3 months.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’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.
Install of everything was easy enough, no additional modifications required.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
…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.
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.”
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.
Well, the ammunition prices after the last big scare are just starting to settle down again, finally, though as with any of these, things are never going to return fully back to where they were. Luckily, one of the most common victims to this, the ubiquitous .22lr finally seems to be returning to regular stock levels. This means using this cheap round for practice via conversion kits is economical again, bringing me to my next review item.
Enter the Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit, for the 1911 of course. Available in both full size (5″, Govt. length slide) and Compact (4″ slide). As an added bonus, the full size 5″ kit, thanks to an extended dust cover (as seen in pictures below), fits both Govt and Commander length frames.
Not only is it easily the nicest looking .22lr conversion I’ve seen available for the 1911, with it’s Satin Silver or Black cerakote finish, ridged adjustable target sights, and overall apparent fine engineering, but it’s a breeze to install, even at the range or in the field.
Simply strip the slide from your 1911 of choice, and slip on the Kimber upper, using your 1911’s slide stop, and you’re ready to go. Despite my skepticism, this kit cycled all tested .22lr ammunition flawlessly in both a cheap Citadel/Armscor 1911 Govt, and a Colt Lightweight Commander. I honestly didn’t think it would cycle properly given how light the slide was and how heavy the hammer on both of those felt, but I was proven wrong.
Field stripping this kit for cleaning is similar enough to doing so on the parent firearm, the major difference being how the recoil spring is contained and attached to the barrel lug. Easy peasy.
Additionally, it comes with one polymer 10 round magazine, though for practice sake I tended to load it to 7 or 8 to match the capacity of the magazines I use with the parent handgun.
Just for the record, this kit was tested with the following ammunition, again no failures present, period:
Winchester 555 box (36gr)
Colt (relabeled Aguila 40gr)
So, despite the dropping prices of common ammunition, it’s still nice to save a few cents and make use of one of these .22lr kits just to keep sharp on the cheap, every bit of muscle memory you can give yourself helps. I found this kit also very useful for getting someone comfortable with the 1911 platform without their first interaction being the gruff handshake of a 230gr FMJ recoil shock, to which they may not be accustomed.
The downside? Price. This thing is a Kimber, afterall. It can be had for the MSRP of $339 from Kimber directly, or via Cabela’s, the later of which frequently has it on sale, more so than other vendors where I’ve seen it. Also, whatever you do, don’t try to save money and order from Botach Tactical, I wasted about 2 weeks before finding out it was on back order (despite being charged and their website not indicating such).