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.
As anyone on the ASA’s mailing list would know, the 115th Congress has reintroduced the Hearing Protection Act of 2015 (previously talked about here), this time as H.R.367 “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns.” Yeah, I’m hoping they work on that title a bit, but it was just introduced yesterday and currently has 43 Cosponsors.
Text for the bill has not yet been provided, but in the coming days it will likely be a verbatim copy of H.R. 3799, along with a companion Senate bill. While I’m not getting my hopes up, introduction into the 115th Congress gives it some advantages that it didn’t previous enjoy. While there was a slight increase in the Republican edge in Congress, there was previously and it never even got a committee hearing. No, the advantage comes from the fact that not only would this bill have a significantly better chance to NOT get vetoed, it also has a proponent in the President Elect’s son, who notably met with SilencerCo CEO Joshua Waldron.
In any case, I’m cautiously optimistic, while I wholly suspect the pending stamp refund to get axed from the bill faster than an M-10’s cyclic rate, that was always there as a negotiation concession. As said before, be sure to keep up the communication with your representatives telling them you expect to see their support of this during this session.
Edit: Found this thread, good bit of information on it, and it will likely be updated with a who’s who of key figures in getting this thing moving, so pay attention, and we might end up with a good list of representatives who need to be contacted.
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.
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.
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!
Well, a lot’s happened so far in November- so without rehashing what everyone’s seen nonstop for the last week or so, lets just say, some bills that may have been hung up to to not having a chance of getting signed, may actually start to see the light of day.
The one I’m personally looking forward to seeing get some action would be good ole’ H.R. 3799 / S.2236, the Hearing Protection Act of 2015. In case you didn’t catch it when it was introduced, it’s a House and related Senate bill to remove “Silencers” (Suppressors) from the NFA and regulate like a long arm, 4473 / NICS and out the door (depending on state and local laws). While in the short term, suppressor prices would probably spike as everyone would be buying them up the second they’re deregulated, but long term, once you can buy ’em off over-the-counter, so to say, the boom that will bring to the industry will be fun to watch.
Right, so down to what you can do to help- currently both bills have been languishing in committee since last year, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations for the House bill, and the even more exciting Committee on Finance for the Senate bill. Republicans have House, Senate, and as of January, the White House. There are no more road bumps left to getting this thing passed except the ones we allow. That said CONTACT. YOUR. REPRESENTATIVES. <- The form linked here will autopopulate a letter to your local reps based on the address you use, which you can change. Personally, I added a line at the end indicating that I look forward to action on the bill that has sat since November of last year.
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.