Saturday, December 27, 2008

Take Your Grandma Shooting - Talk About FUN!

That’s right. I said take your Grandma shooting.

I recently wrote about taking my mom shooting (Click Here) so why not your 88-year-old Grandma-in-law?

This Christmas (2008), my in-laws came out to visit (Mother, Father and Grandmother in law). We had the idea to take everyone to the gun range over the holiday. Hey, why not?

We started her off with a Ruger mark 3 then unleashed her on a Smith and Wesson M&P AR15. She had a great time.

Three generations of well-armed, pistol packing ladies!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Building a Custom Ruger 10/22: Part 2 of 4 - Buying

Buying the Parts

(This is one of the most thorough "Build Your  Own" 10/22 tutorials on the web)

Once I figured out some of the options out there (hours) and reading (hours) about the options many experienced 10/22 builders choose (hours), it was time to choose the parts and determine what I can get for $1,100. Most of the laminated stocks were around $150. I figured I'd go for $200 for the barrel, $250 for the trigger, $100 for the bolt and $150 for the scope. That would leave $250 for the receiver.

Browsing the RimfireCentral site will help any gun newbie learn of the preferred places to buy parts online. Plus there are sponsor site links there as well. The other option is to Google the part name and check the links given in the "Shopping results" list often shown at the top of page one of the results. Or check some of the other results which either lead to sites that sell that item, give a review or a forum post. As in part 1, Google is your friend.

I searched the web over for the solid blue stock from the picture from part 1 of this series. No luck and I spent hours trying. Did I mention hours. I found a solid pink version. Maybe there was a time when a blue version was made. Or by forum posts, it sounds like a guy named Tuck does some stock work. Some laminated stocks come unfinished but I was not going to try sanding, staining and finishing a stock. I do wish there were some solid color stocks. But in determining what I would get based on what was commercially available, I read some good things about Revolution stocks and their Yukon looked just like the blue one I wanted. Done.

So in considering the receiver, did I really need the most expensive one? No, but so many people posted about Volquartsen. I'm new to this so I take a great deal of stock in what the masses say and use. The first time I came across the Volquartsen Superlight for $235, I decided right there that I knew my receiver. The word was on the RimfireCentral forums, I heard that KIDD was working on a receiver of their own. But it wasn't available in time for me to make my purchases and I didn't want to wait until the New Year.

I went back and forth between the KIDD and Volquartsen trigger groups. Having decided on the Volquartsen receiver, I felt tempted to stick to the same brand. But in liking to have options, I kept leaning toward the KIDD with its ability to adjust. Although some people posted about their dislike for a double action trigger (KIDD), that point didn't stick in my mind as a deal breaker or issue. The KIDD was more expensive, but I wanted to spend more on the trigger and barrel figuring both would make the most difference. So KIDD it was.

The barrel was the hard part. I was very tempted by the Whistle Pig barrels. But that was all about the color options. There are also some carbon fiber barrels but the word seemed to be that these barrels are picky with the weather. While looking over the KIDD site for the trigger, I started considering getting their parts set. Their match barrel is $200 and they do have a barreled action option where all you would need was a stock. Forum posts showed good marks for KIDD stuff. So the KIDD barrel was the one.

I couldn't tell you why one bolt would be better from another. And I could get one with a KIDD part kit. So I went with a kit that included a KIDD trigger, barrel and bolt. Plus, I went with the $10 scalloped engraving for the bling. Although KIDD had a bolt handle available, I decided to go with the Volquartsen extended handle.

The scope was based solely on forum posts. So many people speak up for the Mueller AVP and how it could be had for $125 shipped. And although most scopes are black, this was one that was available in silver.

The final parts list:
Stock: Revolution Yukon
Receiver: Volquartsen Superlight (Silver)
Trigger: KIDD (Silver w/ red trigger)
Bolt: KIDD (w/ scalloped engraving)
Bolt Handle: Volquartsen
Barrel: KIDD
Scope: Mueller AVP
Scope Rings: 1” dia. .25” height
Extra: KIDD Receiver Pin Kit
Extra: Ruger 10-22 Magazine

KIDD was the place for purchasing the trigger, barrel, bolt, receiver pin kit and bolt buffer as a kit ($571 + $10 for scalloped bolt). I also bought a bore snake ($16) and magazine ($15) plus $5 shipping.
Shooters Discount was the go to for the Volquartsen receiver ($235), the Yukon stock ($122.50) and the Volquartsen bolt handle ($25) plus $18.50 shipping.
The AVP scope ($125) was from The Sportsman's Guide and the scope rings ($40) from a local Sportsman's Warehouse.
The crappy side of the purchasing process was the FFL transfer for the receiver. Some people charge as low as $10, if you can find them. A few sites recommended by Shooters Discount was

Auction Arms
Shotgun News

Unfortunately, the few local options where I might have been able to do a cheap FFL transfer were no longer in business or were in the process of moving. After a week trying to find the cheapest option, I got anxious and called a local gun store. Even though I wasn't getting a whole gun sent to me, the grumpy old fart that ran the place charged me $50 for the transfer + $10 for the background check. What a waste of money. To be fair though, the local guy need to protect their business because there’s not much in it for them for us to buy everything online and use them as a mail box, right? If you owned a small book shop and people kept wanting to have their purchases sent to them via your store, it would be a waste of your business dollars. And, hey, I even asked a guy over the phone at that same shop about a price on a receiver and he never called me back. I figured that they could be $50 more than online and be the same money in the end. Oh well.

But I finally had all my parts. And went a bit over budget at $1,243. This includes the bore snake and magazine. The KIDD pin kit came with the KIDD item group so no way to shave off money there to get back to my original $1,100 price. Since I was still learning, it hadn’t accounted for the $50 FFL. And I could have either gone with a cheaper priced receiver or trigger group to hit my number. But I’ll take a 10% overrun to have my ultimate 10/22. Now it's time to get building.

Next Step: Building...

(Click HERE if you missed Part 1 - Planning)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Building a Custom Ruger 10/22: PART 1 of 4 - Planning

My friend Bruce decided to custom build a Ruger 10/22. So you know, when Bruce does something, he does it right. He researches everything before spending a penny on it. He compares specs, customer comments and prices on every single piece. And what you're about to read is what he did when he built his custom Ruger 10/22.

This is an impressive four part series, laid out in specific detail, on how he did it - from the idea to the beautiful finished product. If you're thinking about building your own 10/22, READ THIS SERIES FIRST. It will save you a bunch of time, help you make educated decisions and eliminate headaches. Read on...

Here is how I have theorized the 4 part post.
  1. Planning
    1. How Did This All Begin?
    2. What do I need?
    3. Start with stock or go all out custom?
    4. Info Resources Used
    5. Nailing it down
  2. Buying
    1. Parts List
    2. Vendors
    3. Playing the FFL Game
  3. Building
    1. Action in the stock
    2. Action + Trigger
    3. Action + barrel
    4. Bolt Buffer
    5. Bolt
    6. Trigger/Action Pins
    7. Barreled Action
    8. Mating with Stock
    9. Scope Rings & Scope
  4. Shooting
    1. Bolt Stubborn
    2. First shot
    3. Day At The Range
      i. Ammo
      ii. Shooter vs. Shooter
    4. Final Thoughts
How did this all begin?
I'm a gun noob. I've never owned a gun and have only shot a gun once in my life. It was an old black powder riffle I shot when I was ~ 12. I've never had issues with guns or gun ownership. And I figured I would eventually buy a 9mm. I guess I had many other hobbies keeping me (and my back account) busy.
Well, I go out to a local range with Kennard, shoot all of his guns (including his stock Ruger 10/22) and go straight to Sportsman's Warehouse to buy my first gun: A Springfield Armory XD-9. Kennard had just bought his stock 10/22 within the previous couple weeks. While at Sportsman's, he mentions to one of the sales guys that he had just bought the 10/22 from them, how he enjoyed shooting it, how customizable the gun was and how everyone should have one. He later told me about the simple changes one could make to their 10/22: Bolt release, extended mag release and bolt buffer.
Being a computer/technology nerd, I started thinking about the concept of building or buying and modding my own 10/22. I've built computers from various parts from various stores and companies. I was just stuck thinking if this could be as simple as buying computer parts and putting a gun of my own together. Really that simple? Or am I getting into something I'll regret? Do I have to be a gunsmith to pull this off? Can anyone do it?
What do I need?
Repeat after me. "Google is my friend." I start searching the web for any info on building/modding a 10/22. Yes, Google is my friend. But I found it strangely hard to find a good site to put it into perspective. Then I came upon RimfireCentral. I found a thread called "To Build From Scratch" ( A couple users posted their parts list with prices. So, knowing nothing about brands and options, I start learning the Who-What-When-Where-Why of how to go about this venture. I must have read almost every thread on the "Ruger 10/22" section of the site. And then I came across my goal ( This is what I'm after.
So I need the following:
  • Stock
  • Action/Receiver
  • Barrel
  • Trigger Assembly
  • Bolt
  • Bolt Handle
  • Magazine
  • Scope, Scope Rail (mount) & Scope Rings (Optional – but why not?)
Start with stock or go all out custom?
This is where "analysis paralysis" starts creeping in. Decision, decisions and more decisions. In the end, I'd say it's all about money. I saw many posts on people doing a full custom build and other posts on people discussing buying a stock Ruger 10/22 and getting one part at a time. I imagine there could be a blog post of it's own on this site about the pros and cons of doing each way. But having the green light from my wife for a custom 10/22 for $1,000-1,100, I had all plans of picking each piece and building it on my own. There are plenty of posts on RimfireCentral about customizing a stock 10/22 and on which parts to upgrade first (various opinions on that) and price ranges for the options.
Nailing It Down
  • Concept
    • Dark laminated stock with silver trigger, action, barrel, scope and rings.
    • Thumb hole
    • I liked the contrast but going with silver can have it's draw backs.
      • Most scopes are black
      • Most scope rings are black
      • Not likely that all the silver parts will have the same shine/finish.
    • .920" barrel
  • Buying a non-factory action
    • It just seemed that buying a stock Ruger 10/22 @ $250 just for the action would be the same as buying a non-factory one.
    • The word is that the Ruger actions are poured/cast metal where the after-market ones are machined. Well, by getting an engineering degree in college, I couldn't help but consider a machined piece of metal better. Or is it? I don't want to get into that debate if anyone feels strongly about poured metal as being better.
    • Options
      • $355 Tactical Solution X-Ring
      • $335 Volquartsen Stainless Steel
      • $235 Volquartsen Superlight
      • $175 M.O.A
      • $93 Ruger – as if you could find a site that had one in stock to buy
  • Buying a prebuilt trigger set
    • KIDD trigger group that can adjust? Not like I'm going to be the super competition guy. Do I need less than 2.5 lb pull? No. Would it be fun to turn it down to 6 oz? Yes.
    • Options
      • $290 KID two-stage adjustable pull weight from 6oz to 2.5lbs. Comes with extended mag release (3 options) and bolt release.
      • $241 Volquartsen TG2000 - Comes with extended mag release and bolt release
  • Bolt
    • "A bolt is a bolt is a bolt???" I couldn't and can't explain the difference.
    • Bolt buffer? Yes, or course.
    • Options
      • $75 KID (+$10 for scalloped finish)
      • $259 Volquartsen CNC machined bolt
  • Bolt Handle
    • Kennard showed me what seemed to be common with the stock (any some after-market) bolt handles: rough up your knuckle pulling the bolt back and catching it on the scope rings.
    • Options
      • $10 KID
      • $33 Volquartsen
  • Laminated Stock
    • Yep, just for the color bling. Not really wanting a wood finish.
    • It seemed that most after market stocks were channeled for a .920" barrel. By what info I could find online, factory stocks seemed to need some sanding to allow a .920" barrel.
    • Options
      • $143 Revolution Yukon (.920" Barrel Channel; 2.5 lbs)
      • $107 Hogue Overmolded Stock
      • $477 Laminated Wood Thumb hole Silhouette – Red (Volquartsen site)
      • $145 Boyds Blaster
  • Barrel
    • The great barrel length debate. 16.5", 18" or 20"??? That is the question.
    • Tapered target barrel (like Kennard's stock Ruger) or .920 bull barrel?
    • Options
      • $200 KID polished or bead blasted Stainless Steel barrel
      • $180 Tactical Solutions (multiple colors)
      • $170+ WhistlePig – If you want custom colors or fade colors, this place rules!
  • Scope
    • How much is too much?
    • I learned online that you just don't expect to shot a 10/22 beyond 100 yds.
    • Scopes can sure get expensive but I'm not going to be up in a tree aiming for a neck. Did I mention sub-100 yds?
    • What did I see mentioned the most online? The Mueller APV.
  • Scope Rings
    • Size depends on the size of the scope
    • Decided to wait until all parts were received to determine what is too small or too high
    • Math was what engineering was all about. I've got to make this a math problem or it just won't be that fun, right?
  • Extras
    • $30 KID Receiver Pin Kit ($22 without countersink)
    • $40 KID Scope Base (not needed if action comes with one)
    • $16 .22 Boresnake
    • $15 Ruger 10/22 Magazine
    • $6 KID Bolt Buffer
    • $12 Volquartsen Bolt Buffer
Info Resources Used
(Primary source) Rimfire Central Forums:
Rimfire ammunition (Widipedia):
Just a site that made the simple part list, well, simple:
KIDD Innovative Design:
WhistlePig GunBarrel Co:
Click HERE for Part 2: Buying the Parts.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

REVIEW: Taurus Millennium Pro 140


It's too bad that this pistol has a potentially lethal issue as I really liked it. 

Guns are getting expensive. Actually, they’re already expensive but it seems that every time I go gun shopping or gun “browsing” I notice prices creeping upward even more. Now it’s very possible that our latest President elect (this was written on November 30, 2008) will have a further negative impact on firearm and ammo prices before he takes office on January 20, 2009.

Thankfully, there are companies like Taurus that make great products while keeping prices reasonable. Taurus firearms are made in Brazil giving them a real price advantage since the Brazilian Real to Dollar exchange gives us a a lot of “bang for our buck”.
My cousin-in-law is in the market for a .40 cal and has looked at Glocks, Springfield Armory, Kahr Arms and Smith & Wesson. He called me after attending a gun show and said, “Man, some of the guns I looked at are really expensive.” I asked him if he’d looked at a Taurus and he said, “No”. This reminded me that my brother has a Taurus Millennium Pro 140 that I’ve been meaning to review.
About a year ago, my brother found himself in a real life-threatening situation on the front porch of his own home. He was faced with an armed individual that seriously verbalized intent to do him harm. Luckily the incident didn’t go beyond that but it did give him a new perspective on gun ownership. I got a call from him the next morning asking if I would go gun shopping with him.
I took him to a local gun shop that has an indoor range. After browsing for a while, he saw a used polymer .40 cal Millennium Pro 140 for just over $209. The price of the new one sitting in the case right next to it was only $299 (Just the other day I saw one for $349 at the same store). He picked it up and it felt really good in his hands, asked me about the Taurus name brand and decided to buy it.

Inexpensive is one thing but shooting well is another. We’ve all shot a buddies “great deal at a gun show” gun that he paid $150 for only to find out that it was a piece of junk, right? Well as an owner of two Taurus firearms, I can say that they don’t make junk. Ok, their model 1911 might not be up to Kimber quality but it’s definitely not junk.
My brother bought the Millennium Pro without shooting one beforehand and after shooting it, we were both a little worried - okay, a lot worried. The gun shot low and left real bad. I don’t mean a little like some guns do, I mean this little gun was way off. After a bit of examination, we noticed that the front sight was not centered in the dove-tail groove. We took it back to the shop and had the sights straightened.
Back on the range, the gun now show straight but still a bit low (not nearly as bad as before the adjustment). I find the sight alignment to be perfectly acceptable for a fixed sight, home defense gun.

As for function, here are some things I really like about this gun:
  1. Grip comfort - I find Glocks to be great shooting guns, but for my hand shape and size, the grips are awkward and uncomfortable. The Millennium Pro’s grip is a perfect fit for my hand. Perfect.
  2. Trigger reset - The trigger take up is long but there’s a reason for this and something that Taurus did that make this acceptable. First, the reset is real short (1/4 inch) and second, the single action/double action striker means that if you have a misfire, completely release the trigger, let it completely reset and get a full double-action pull for a potentially life-saving second strike opportunity. The Video below lets you see this for yourself.
  3. Manual safety - many polymer pistols don’t have a manual safety. They really don’t need them but on the Taurus, if you want it, you’ve got it. If you don’t like it. Don’t use it.
  4. Safety lock - All Taurus firearms come with a key that locks the gun down for safely storing the pistol. This is another “if you don’t like it don’t use it” option, but I like it. It’s a much more elegant and easy to use option than the cable lock that came with my Kimber or the Springfield XD and XDm.
  5. Heinie Straight-8 two dot sights - I love the sights. If hundred dollar bills grew on trees, I’d replace all my fixed sights with Tritium Heinie Staight-8s. Personally, I can line up two dots faster than three. Plus, as I said earlier, the gun shoots a bit low. Put a bit of black space between the two white dots and you’re shooting in the 10 ring. Fast and easy.
VIDEO: Notice the short trigger reset (about the same as the XDm). Also notice the second strike option:

As you can see by reading this article. I’d recommend this gun to anyone looking for a small, compact polymer pistol in 9mm, .40 or .45. The gun has never misfired, failed to feed or failed to extract any ammo we’ve put through it, this includes cheap Russian Wolf and Hornady TAP.
If you money isn’t a issue, I can see you wanting and buying a Smith and Wesson M&P Pro, or a compact Springfield XD instead. But if you’re on a budget, this gun will save you hundreds of dollars and deliver more than enough home protection performance as any brand. Personally, after shooting hundreds of rounds through it on a variety of ranges, I’d trust my life to it.