Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stock Ruger 10/22 vs. Custom Built 10/22

Is it worth the time and money to custom build a 10/22 or is it better to take the cheaper and easier way out and buy a factory built, off the shelf Ruger 10/22? 
We actually have an answer and reason to do both, believe it or not. 
The two guns used in the challenge are an off the shelf Ruger 10/22 with the slightly “fancier” walnut stock (compared to the birch stock) and a fully custom 10/22 that was hand built using hand picked parts (reviewed and shown how it was built here). We used the same Federal .22 LR ammo in both guns, used the same magazines, the same beanbag-style Caldwell rest and of course, the same shooter.
The guns were not clamped into a fixed vice, rather we placed them on a the Caldwell rest shown below. The triggers are so different on each gun, the rest allowed some movement due to trigger pull. Thus one of the reasons we used bags instead of Bruce’s more stable rest with butt-stock clamp.

The Orange Peel targets were placed 100 yards out and the shooting began. We blew through several magazines to get the feel for the guns before we shot for the test. 

First, I shot the gun I’m most familiar with, my factory built Ruger. I put two 10 round mags through the gun, gasping for air between reloads. I was using a Nikon Prostaff 2-7x32 Riflescope. The results are on the left hand side of the image below.

On the right hand side of the image below, are the results of the Custom 10/22. Again, 20 rounds shot out of two 10-round mags. The ‘custom’ shot much more consistently and actually gave me the impression that with some practice, I could and should keep all 20 shots in the 10 ring. The stock gun, on the other hand, gave no such impression. The lack of a hand-lapped barrel and the heavy trigger (vs. the 2 freakin’ pound pull of the custom) added enough variables that keeping 20 shots in the 10 ring was impossible - at least by me.

Nevertheless, the results speak for themselves. Now, is it worth it to spend 2.5 times the money for the results above. Maybe. But there’s more to the equation. 
When you figure in the research (I consider fun), the hand selecting of parts from that research, the pride off self-assembly, picking the exact stock in the exact color and shape you want AND having it easily outshoot a stock gun...well, that makes it well worth it if you can afford it. If not, the stock Ruger will give you (and your kids if you have them) hours and hours of cheap fun that’s hard to beat.
If it had been warmer (it was about 47 degrees and late in the evening) and if we had more daylight, I believe I could have gotten a lot more out of the Custom. We’ll update the article in the spring of 2009 and retest the results. 

Stock Ruger 10/22 Walnut: About $329 (without scope). $460 with scope.

Custom 10/22: About $1200 with
The final parts list:
Stock: Revolution Yukon
Receiver: Volquartsen Superlight (Silver)
Trigger: KIDD (Silver with adjustable 2 lb. 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
Thought you’d like to know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ruger LCP vs. Kel-Tec P-3AT

I finally got the chance to do it! I got to shoot a Ruger LCP side-by-side with a Kel-Tec P-3AT.

The first thing I noticed when you saw the pistols sitting side-by-side is that they are so close in looks, a person might confuse them in a dimly lit room. As you look closer, there are definite differences. But before I talk about the differences of similarities, I must say that I'm not going to comment on the stopping power of a .380 vs. a 9mm or a .45 ACP for that matter. This is a comparison of the Ruger and Kel-Tec pocket guns, not an article on stopping power.

What we will cover are the similarities, differences, accuracy and build quality (not in that order)

My friend Brian called me with some exciting news. His Ruger LCP finally arrived and he had picked it up from a local gun store and was ready to shoot it. As you may recall, when the Ruger was first released, it was so popular that stores immediately sold out. I read that there was a 50,000 unit back order though I can't confirm that that was true. What was true, is that if you wanted one, you had to get on a list and wait. Even some of the lucky people that actually got one early on, turned into opportunists and were selling them for double full retail...and getting it!

Brian was actually one of the patient ones that placed in order then patiently waited over two months for the gun to arrive (August 2009). Naturally, he was excited to give it a spin, but to his dismay, he couldn't find any .380 ammo at ANY of the local gun stores! So, he ordered some and after another painful wait, we finally got to shoot the thing.

As luck would have it, I have access to a Kel-Tec P-3AT (Click here to see my review) so I grabbed it and met Brian at the range. We quickly loaded both guns then decided on how we were going to do the test. We started by putting a full magazine though each gun to 'warm them up' and to get an overall feel. Just as I described in my review of the p-3AT, these guns are a pain in the butt to shoot. The tiny, hard plastic grips are really brutal on the hands. It's hard to shoot 6 rounds without adjusting your hold on the grip.

The Kel-Tec has a straight, non-contoured grip while the new Ruger actually has a thumb groove that I thought would ease the discomfort. It didn't. They felt about the same.

Both pistols have a 6+1 capacity. The Ruger weighs about an once more than the Ket-Tec. And both have a double-action only trigger.

After shooting six rounds through both pistols, I told Brian to help me with a blind shooting test. (the following was performed at an empty range and was carefully supervised). I closed my eyes and had Brian place one of the pistols in my hand, help me aim down range then swap pistols and repeat the trigger pull. Could I tell the difference? Well, yes. The Ruger had a much stiffer trigger. But to be fair, the Kel-Tec has had hundreds or rounds through it while the Ruger was right out of the box. So, that didn't really work very well. At least all of the bullets went safely down range. (This test was carefully monitored and I would not suggest anyone try it).

Second we tried an accuracy test. We placed my target stand 15 feet away and shot both guns at a 12" Orange Peel target. This is where things got interesting. Brian shot first using his Ruger and didn't even hit the cardboard and we were only 15 feet away! Hmm. I in turn shot at the same target using the Kel-Tec and hit the 12" adhesive Orange Peel target 4 out of six times and missed twice by about an inch 7 o'clock. Not too bad for a tiny mouse gun.

Next we switched. I shot the Ruger and he shot the Kel-Tec. This time Brian was all over the target. Nice shooting. But I had a hard time getting two solid shots to land in the '12 circle. Almost every shot was low. Very low. Not good.

My next test was to shoot while resting on the shooting table. Again, the Kel-Tec out shot the Ruger. I tried with all my might to use a good, solid trigger pull. I used every thing I've ever learned to get that Ruger to shoot dead on and it just wouldn't cooperate. It got close, but it consistently low and required a serious level of concentration.

One issue is the Ruger's sights. They are very hard to see. Since little back-up guns are not meant to be used for precision, target shooting, the sights are more of an aesthetic thing than a functional thing. Notice in the accompanying picture that the Ruger has solid black notched rear sight and a tiny (and I do mean TINY) black bump for a front sight (notice the front sight in the profile pictures). It's hard to really get a consistent sight picture.

On the other hand, the Kel-Tec's rear sight isn't notched but is painted bright white. The front sight is a decent little triangle that's also painted white. The correct sight picture is to set the white triangle on top of the white square making a little white "house". Overall, it you are using the sights, the Ket-Tec has sights that can actually be used.

These guns are meant for deep concealment, life-saving, close range, point-and-shoot situations. Nevertheless, you do want the bullet to travel in a predictable path that's somewhere close to the intended target. Also, knowing that guns like these will see most of their use at 10 feet or less, we pulled our target back five feet so we were within the 'statistical use' distance. That made all the difference in the world.

Instead of trying for precision, we tried shooting from the hip. The results were completely different. Both guns performed about the same. From the 'low ready' position, we would bring the pistol up and squeeze off two shots at our torso target 10 feet away, back to 'low ready', then raise and fire two shots again, etc. We were hitting the intended target 100 percent of the time.

As for build quality, the Ruger wins hands down. It's a lot more solid, the plastic feels and looks better, the metal is well coated (notice the metal in the top views of the guns). The Kel-Tec feels cheap next to the Ruger. Also, when pulling the slide back, the Ruger is smooth and solid while the Kel-Tec feels like a toy. Another nice touch that Ruger added is a slide lock. It won't auto lock after firing the last round, but you can pull back on the slide and flip it up to keep the slide locked back. A nice addition.

When the LCP came out, I REALLY wanted one! I passed on opportunities to buy a P-3AT waiting for the much anticipated LCP to come out. After shooting both the Kel-Tec and the Ruger I can't say that I would rather have the Ruger or the Kel-Tec. They both function as well as you can expect from a tiny pistol. Both have pros and cons. If you like the Ruger brand name, get the Ruger. If you think Kel-Tec is the way to go, buy that one.

There are times when it's hard to hide a Kimber Ultra Carry or a Taurus snub .38 and having a small caliber gun is better than nothing. Would I carry one of these guns day-in and day-out? No, but as a summer, pocket gun. I'd feel safer with it in my shorts pocket than nothing. And for the price, you can actually afford to buy one, even though the ammo is hard to find.

Ruger LCP Review

Kel-Tec P-3AT Review

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Smith & Wesson M&P Semi-auto pistols

I shoot and review guns. But the reality is, there are some reviewers out there that have more gun knowledge in their little finger than I have in my whole body. Ronnie Dodd is one of those people. He is the “real deal” and has taught me a lot about fire arms. I’m thrilled to have a firearm review from him on my site. And if you like what you read, visit to learn more.

Ronnie: "I don’t like writing reviews because I know there is so much BS out there and I know some of the folks writing the BS. But, I have been asked by Kennard to do a review on the Smith and Wesson M&P series of pistols so, here goes.
First off I am old enough that I owned and carried one of the original line of M&P – Military and Police – revolvers back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and the caveman police officer carried a revolver. Smith is doing a great homage to that day of yesteryear with the new line of weapons –both pistol and AR based rifles.
Prior to the M&P my favorite weapon was the single stack 1911 design pistol. Not being able to carry that my second choice was the Sig P220. When I took over as Chief of Police for the City of Red Bank the Sig is what we purchased for duty guns.
Since I started shooting the M&P, first the 9MM, then the 45ACP -well, my 1911s’ and Sigs get shot about once a year now and they are delegated to the gun vault! These pistols shoot great. I have shot every one of the weapons and have fallen in love with each one. The M&P initial offering was in 40 since it is such a popular round with Law Enforcement (LE). After tooling up for those, then they offered the 9mm. Unlike Glock which started out as a 9mm and then upped to a 40 without doing a lot of modification to account for the higher pressure 40 cal round. This led to a sometimes hard to control weapon, while the M&P is like shooting a 9mm+ round, VERY easy to control and not near as sharp felt recoil as the Glock.
The weapon are chambered for 9MM, 40, and 45ACP (my favorite of course).
Lets’ start with the negatives on the M&P.
The standard model comes with the three-dot Novak sights. I immediately black out the rear two dots where the sight picture is not “too busy”. If it going to be a gun I carry as soon as possible I replace the sights with a Scott Warren rear, Tactical site, and a High Viz front sight. Now this is just me! The Novaks’ are great sights and excellent shooting can be accomplished with them but at 57yoa my eyes just work better with the Warren and High Viz combo.
Magazines, not clips, are constructed like a true work horse vehicle. All metal body and good followers and springs. The down side is they are pricey. Last I checked they were around $35 a pop. And if you don’t take care of them they will rust. After every training session wipe them down good. I have had all mine coated because I am lazy and don’t keep my practice magazines as clean as I should.
In the Pro Series there have been some failure to extract which has been traced back to some of the finish on the barrels that has gotten into the chamber making the tolerances’ tighter that the standard. This is easy fix should you end up with one of those pistols. Smith has since corrected the issue
Ok, that is it for bad in my opinion, now to the good.
Price very comparable with other guns of this type, holsters easy to find, with mag poches.
One of the first things you will notice when you open the box is there are two extra back straps, a small, and a large – guns comes with a medium on it. What does this mean! If you have a big meaty grip like me you install the large back strap, if like my daughter’s 9mmC then you put on the small. This allows you to tailor the gun to your hand. This will allow you the best grip alignment and trigger pull which should be in a straight back manner.
The guns do NOT have to have the trigger pulled prior to taking the gun down for cleaning. Pulling the trigger unless I am on a target has always made me nervous. Mr. Murphy has a way of doing strange things with guns! Bullets can magically appear in a chamber when it is supposedly empty.
The guns have great “point ability”. Imagine taking your hand and on demand point at something with your finger. The ergonomics of this pistol is such that it is an extension of your hand. Also it has a less perceived recoil because of the ergonomics, especially with the 40 and 45ACP.
The gun has a polymer frame which makes a lighter weight so that in transitions from target to target it is really fast and solid. The slide is a blackened stainless steel and very durable.
Another great plus it the pistol has ambidextrous controls. Slide stops on both sides, magazine release can be reversed in about 2 minutes using the small takedown tool that holds the backstrap in place.
Overall this, in my opinion, is the best SAP that Smith has ever made. I predict that if the durability of this gun holds up it will be the weapon of choice for LE in the future. On the gun that I use when teaching I did a un-official torture test and decided to shoot the gun until I started having problems. The only thing I would do to the gun after shooting it was to wipe it down and a little lube. I was somewhere in the 5K round count when I started having some failure to extracts. I performed a good cleaning on it and we are back and running again. Not something I recommend doing to your gun, but like the guy in the original “Dirty Harry” said, I just “had to know “how good it is. Talon Tactical holster- - Mike Benedict told me several months ago that he was making M&P holsters 3 to 1 over any other holster.
If you are thinking about getting into IDPA or USPSA shooting I recommend the Pro series of the gun, 9mm. This is a gun that is put out by the Smith folks Performance Center. This is a 5 inch gun – overall length little over eight inches - with some tricks to it above the normal pistols. It comes with a green fiber optic for a front sight and a Novak-designed, reduced glare rear sight. The increased sight radius allows for a more precise sight alignment necessary in competitive shooting scenarios. The trigger pull is usually around 4-5lb range and very smooth and very little over travel. Need one gun for the competition game, this is it.
As of this writing I have just taken possession of one of the new 45ACP compacts’. I may have found my ultimate carry gun.
Good shooting and watch the front sight!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Browning ProSteel Gun Safe

Guns make us feel safe right? We keep them on our person, under car seats, in glove boxes, in purses and even on night stands. But what do you do to make your guns feel safe. Do you lock them up or do you just leave them in a range bag on your closet floor?
That’s a dumb question. But what isn’t dumb is being smart with your guns and other personal belongings.
  • Don’t let kids get a hold of your guns! Yours or the neighbor’s kid!
  • Don’t let stolen guns get onto the street to be used in criminal activity!
  • Don’t let your precious heirlooms and other valuables get taken!
  • Don’t let a fire consume these good either.
Getting a good safe is a great idea for more than just gun safety. It’s an actual investment. My wife likes the idea of the safe so we can store important documents and jewelry and I came up with an ingenious idea! The Browning ProSteel Safe I bought has a small hole in the back that lets you run a power cord into it for a dehumidifier. Well this safe will be in a climate controlled environment so I decided that since my safe was within a few feet of my wireless router, I’m going to run a USB cord through the hole (from the back of my Wireless Router) and keep a WI-FI, USB powered backup hard drive drive inside the fireproof safe. How’s that for keeping your data secure?
I went to Sportsman’s Warehouse and looked at several of their models. Then, as I usually do, I surfed the web for some research. What I found out was that most safes are made in the same factory in China. Not a big surprise but that means that the differences are in the models within the brands more than in the brands alone. See for yourself in the photos below.
See any similarities? And even those that aren’t made in the same factory use a lot of the same parts. Yes there are some differences but if you buy a reputable brand like any of those listed above, you’ll be buying a lot of peace of mind and getting a great safe.
I bought a 14-bolt, 60"x30"x25", $1500 Browning ProSteel Copper (versus Gold) with digital keypad for several reasons. Ease, it was at my local store. Function, it had a great interior with TONS us usable space for it’s overall footprint. Price, it was in my price range. Security, I felt it would more than adequately keep my stuff safe (Fire: 60 minutes at 1200 degrees).
Here’s what I mean by lots of usable space. Notice how the door (a spot normally left empty) allows for seven rifles, several hand guns and has pockets galore for anything from knives and holsters to jewelry and passports?
It’s a wonderful idea! The door alone holds the contents of many small safes!
Not only that, the entire interior is covered with a felt-like lining. I have two small hockey puck sized “tap lights” with Velcro on the back and the “hook” side of the Velcro easily sticks to the felt on the ceiling of the safe. Instant interior lighting on the cheap!
Now, I needed to figure out where to put the new safe. According to my wife, it had to be hidden from view, not in the master bedroom but somewhere easy to get to. That didn’t leave may options. So, together we decided to put it in a closet under the stairs. After some tape measurements were taken, we determined it was a perfect fit.
But what effect would a 615 lb. (empty) safe have on my floors? Instead of taking chances, I put two $30 floor jacks in the crawl space under the floor where the safe would live. $60 and a little (I really mean little, those things are EASY to install) work now means no chance of sagging floors later.
Once purchased, I had to get the mid-sized beast home. Sigh. Instead of calling my tough guy buddies, I decided to let the professionals handle it. I called a piano mover that also moved safes. He charged me $250 (about $150 more than the kid at the store) but think of this. The piano mover is insured and bonded! If he scratches you floor or rams a hole into your wall or worse, you’re covered! To me, it was worth the extra money for that peace of mind alone. Isn’t that why we buy safes anyway, peace of mind?
Once installed, I immediately reset the master combination to a crazy number that I hope I never forget (I even reset the fall back combo. The “oops I forgot the combo”, combo). The digital key pad gives you the option of timed delay opening and a cool two series combination that lets you program in two different combinations where both have to be entered for the safe to be opened.
For example, my wife could have a combination that I don’t know and I could have a combination that she doesn’t know but both numbers must be entered for the door to be opened. That way neither one of us could access the contents of the safe without the other knowing it. Overkill in my home but you might have need for this cool feature if you’re a store manager.
Also, enter the wrong code a couple of times and the safe locks you out for five minutes. There are other settings too numerous to be described here but I was surprised by all of options.
After changing the combination to 12345 (just kidding) I loaded the safe with all my firearms. Sigh. While I now have room to grow, I immediately saw that I needed more hardware to keep the safe from looking so empty.
Oh, one more thing, safes need to breath. The doors aren’t air tight. But in the event of a fire, you want that baby sealed tight! So another cool feature is that the seal around the door allows air to pass but when heated up from a fire, it expands to seal the door shut, keeping out some of the heat, smoke and water (from the fire fighters).
Am I happy with my purchase? You bet! When you stack up the incredible usage of interior space, fire-resistance (yes, there are safes with a better rating), overall break-in security and medium sized foot print, the choice was an easy one. The Browning ProSteel Copper is perfect for me.
SPECS (from the Browning web site):
  • 1200° F/60 minute fire protection
  • Attractive wildlife scene available
  • Full DPX® Storage System (on the door)
  • Top door bolts for extra security
Copper Series features
  • 12-gauge steel body
  • 1" formed steel door
  • Force Deflector™ Locking Mechanism
  • Hardened steel pin lock protection
  • 1" chromed locking bolts, three-sided door coverage
  • DPX Storage System
  • UL® tool attack listed
  • S & G® Group II lock with key lock dial and five-year limited warranty
  • Three-spoke handle
  • Available with game scene or scroll graphics
  • Baked on high gloss or rugged textured finishes
  • Elevated floor to facilitate removal of guns
1200°/60 min. Standard Fire Protection
  • 1200° F/60 min. fire protection
  • Three layers of 1/2" fire-resistant insulation in the body and door
  • Palusol® expanding fire seal
No matter what you choose, have a way to lock up your guns. Keep them out of the hands of kids, criminals and please keep them off the streets. We have a right to own and bear arms but that comes with a responsibility. Even an inexpensive, light-weight gun locker bolted to the floor is better than nothing. Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.

REVIEW: Smith & Wesson M&P 15

UPDATED: February 2016
I finally did a trigger job on the S&W M&P 15. 
Details at the end of the article.

March 2009
You want to hear a funny story? Ok, actually I should ask if you want to know how to make my wife really mad? The answer is simple, over the Christmas holiday, go to Sportsman’s Warehouse with your father-in-law to get a bottle of gun oil and come home with an AR15.
Look my wife’ s very accommodating of my shooting hobby. Actually, she encourages it. But spending an unexpected $1100 right a Christmas, understandably, isn’t the best decision a husband can make. BUT...
Oh yea, there’s always a but. But, have you tried to find a buy an AR15 these days?! If you have, then you’ve already figured out what happened to me. I walked in to Sportsman’s Warehouse and the General Manager, Jim Rhodes, and I cross paths just inside the front door. The moment he sees me he waves me over. I know Jim pretty well and he knows I like to buy guns, many have come from his store. He ushers to a side office and whispers, “What if I knew I guy that had a brand new, Smith and Wesson M&P AR15 that he was going to Would you be interested?”
What could I say? I’ve seen the shelves there. I’ve looked online. NO AR15s! “Sure, I’d be interested,” I said as I slipped the marital noose around my neck.
He looked around like a spy about to reveal state secrets and flicked his head to the side, “Come with me...” He turned and briskly walked past the gun counter, that was stacked with people, and threaded us into the back room that had an “Employees Only” sign over the door. There were a couple of guys in the storage room that he asked to leave. This confused me but I went along with it. As soon as he, my father-in-law and I were alone, he pulled a box from the shelf and opened it. Sure enough, a brand new M&P15.
He lowered his voice again, “Look, about every salesman here has a buyer on this. It came in about two hours ago and I bet it’ll be gone in about an hour. No big deal, but if you want it, it’s yours. If not, we’ll sell it pretty quickly.” He stared at me. I darted a glance at my father-in-law. He was wincing as he knew my dilemma. My heart started pounding, my palms sweat and I pulled the noose tight. “Jim, I think I’m gonna have to...” I bit my lip, “Dang it, I’ll take it.”
Jim nodded and and walked out of the room without a word. Ten seconds later he came back in with a sales guy. “Bob, sell this guy this M&P, but keep it back here. Don’t take it out and lay it on the counter.”
Bob looked up at Jim, “Are you serious?” Jim patted Bob on the back and said, “Yep. Take care of this young man.” Then waved and winked at me and walked out.
Bob seemed kind of pissed about something. He grouchily took my info and as he was getting my thumb prints muttered under his breath, “I have a guy that’s coming in for this thing later today.” Ah, I get it now. Well your buddy’s going to be disappointed is what I wanted to say. Little did he know that I was going to have to fight an insurgency on the home front.
As we walked to the front of the store, the sales guy was carrying the cardboard box with the big M&P printing facing outward. We passed a guy that pointed to the box and called out, “Hey!” but the sales guy charged passed him. Bob then flipped the box around so the words were hidden from view. “Damn it. I don’t want no one to know we got one of these.”
Why all the fuss? About a month earlier we got a new President that had a political history that wasn’t gun friendly and the day after his election, guns started flying off the shelves at a record pace, especially anything that could be slapped with the “Assault” label.
It’s actually ironic that a President that has a history of supporting gun control laws is actually responsible for one of the biggest runs on firearms and ammo that I’ve ever seen! Anyway, let’s shoot this thing!
The rifle is a standard S&W M&P15. Nothing fancy, no accessory rails or anything. It has a 16 inch, chromoly barrel, six-position adjustable stock, a single stage 6-7 pound trigger and 30-round magazine. I had to throw on a red dot that I use on my Ruger Mark III as a sighting instrument.
The next hurdle was finding .223 ammo. Wal-mart had it but man was is scarce. At the range, we attached the red dot, loaded the mag and with only the slightest adjustments had it sighted in. We started on the torso steels at 75 yards then moved to targets at 100. The gun shot very true.
The trigger was a bit stiff and “gritty” but I attributed it to newness. The recoil was “gentle” and didn’t match the noise the gun made. It felt like shooting a .22 magnum with the noise of a .22-250 rifle. The adjustable stock, while great for tactical situations, served another purpose. It made the gun easy to shoot for me at 5’ 9” and my father-in-law who’s 6’ 1”.
On the second outing, I only shot 50 rounds. Bruce and I were actually shooting our 10/22s for a side-by-side review of a custom built 10/22 vs. an off the shelf model (review here). But while I was there, I set a 5.5” target out at 100 yards and wanted to see what I could do with an unmagnified red dot at that distance. The dot covered 25% of the center of the target and I didn’t use a resting device but did set the bottom of the magazine on the shooting table.
For a regular guy, I felt pretty good about the results but know I can do better. Out of eight shots, I landed 7 in the target zone and had one straggler. The other way to look at it is that four were in the 10 ring and four we’re out of it. Not Quigley Down Under shooting by any means.
I love this gun and now that my wife has calmed down (mind you, I don’t blame her) I think it’ll be staying in my collection. I have big plans for it too and when she’s not looking, I’m going to add about $300 worth of accessories to it! As a side note, my good father-in-law offered me his own version of a bail out plan and offered to buy the gun from me as to ease my marital pain.
There are so many good quality options for AR15s right now. The hard part is finding one that’s not backordered. When you do find one, you might want to buy it. If we do get an “assault gun” ban, you’ll be glad you did. And even if we don’t, you’ll still be glad you did. Take my word it. Even Grandma can shoot it!

Oh and if you don’t think that owning an AR15 can get you killed, you haven’t bought one on Christmas without asking your wife first. Damn, those things are deadly!

I mentioned the gritty trigger earlier in the article. hundreds and hundreds of rounds never made it better so I finally did something about it. I thought about a drop in but some of the ones that I considered were $300 or more and I didn't want to invest that into the basic M&P so I looked into improving the stock, mil-spec trigger. 

I started by ordering a Taylor Tactical AR Trigger Kit.

I liked the Taylor Tactical solution since it included a super simple over-travel solution and it was very inexpensive. For $35 (as Jan 2016), I got two reduced power hammer springs and two over-travel grip screws. The solution is so ingenious and so simple...simple to install too. 

While I waited for my Taylor Tactical kit to arrive I disassembled my AR trigger and began polishing.

Notice how rough the metal is! The sear face looked the same way!

I used 600, then 1000, then 2000 grit oiled sandpaper then took my Dremel and gently polished the trigger face, sear face and hammer notch to a mirror finish (be careful with the hammer notch!)  I also polished the disconnector and hammer contact points plus the channel that runs down the center of the trigger body but not to a mirror finish, just real smooth. The reason I polished the channel is that I noticed that when the disconnector pivoted it was gritty. To get things mirror smooth, I used Mother's Mag Wheel Polish.

Some things to note. If you use a Dremel, make sure that the polishing bit rotate away from the sharp edge of your trigger face or you could severely damage it by rounding it off. For example, in the image to the left imaging me holding the Dremel in my right hand policing the top of this trigger. You'll want the bit rotating counter-clockwise. Rotate your wrist 180ยบ and make sure you do the same with the sear face. You want that edge sharp for a crisp release.

Out of the box, the trigger started off at a unpleasant, gritty 7 lbs, 9 oz. After the polish and springs the pull dropped to a smooth 5 lbs, 8 oz. And thanks to the over-travel grip screw, the full trigger stroke and reset is half of what it used to be. I went from hating that dang trigger to loving it for only $17.50 plus some elbow grease. 

Things turned out so well, I did the same thing to the trigger on my Father-in-law's DPMS AR. Thus, buying the two-pack. He too loves the result and for $35 bucks for both, it was an inexpensive fix that even I could do.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

REVIEW: Taurus "The Judge"

I got the chance to shoot a Taurus Judge and jumped on it “like a rat on a Cheeto” (I stole that quote from a friend of mine) or like my wife says, “like a hobo on a ham sandwich.” No matter how you say it, I grabbed the opportunity. For you that may not know, the Judge is a revolver that can shoot both .410 shot shells and .45 Long Colt ammo.

My friend Trey called to tell me that his brother Canon (his real birth name) just bought a brand new Taurus Judge. It’s ironic that a gun-loving guy who owns a huge handgun is named Canon, or maybe his love of firearms is due to his name. Either way, it’s a cool name and he does love guns.

Due to Canon’s work schedule, I was “forced” to duck out of work early on Friday so we could get some range time with His Honor, “The Judge”. Canon’s gun is the bobbed hammer, ultra-lite model. Over the years I’ve realized that Taurus has a real problem keeping their web site up to date.

The biggest hurdle for us was finding ammo. It was easy to find .410 #8, #6 and slugs but due to the crazy ammo shortage we couldn’t find any 00 Buck or .45 Long Colt locally. We will get our hands on some and will retest the gun soon.

Once at the range, we started off taking some pictures then loaded it with some #8 birdshot and ran through a few cylinders to get the feel for it. The first thing you notice is how light the gun is compared to it’s relative size. It dwarfs my Taurus Model 85 Ultra Lite .38 Special but is only a few ounces heavier.

The first time the gun was shot (a few days before), the fiber optic peg in the front sight fell out and was lost. That’s not good but I believe it’s a fluke rather than a quality issue. Canon has a replacement on the way and since the plastic FO housing was still in place, sighting was still fine. I would like to see Taurus include a few replacements like Ruger does (as came with my Mark III). How much cost would this add? $.50?
How does is shoot? It kicks. Recoil from the shot shells is heavy, but the soft rubber grips eases the sting. Taurus uses the same, familiar “Ribber” grip on the Judge that is uses on it’s Tracker Series revolvers. It’s a great design for comfort but due to it’s terrific tackiness and bulk, it’s not all that practical for concealed carry.
Next, the bobbed hammer design (there is a model with a hammer spur) removes the option of cocking the gun before shooting. Since this isn’t a deep concealed carry revolver, getting the spur hung on a pant leg or shirt tail isn’t a issue so I’d personally have gone with the spur for fun long distance shots at the range. With a conceal carry gun, like I use my model 85 for, I’d go with hammerless or spurless. Ironically, my model 85 has a hammer spur and Canon’s Judge doesn’t. Go figure.

Speaking of hammers, just like the model 85, the Judge has a key lock built into the hammer to lock it down, preventing it from being shot by an unauthorized user.

As a new gun, the trigger was stiff and heavy. I suggested that Canon sit at home and dry fire it hundreds of times to smooth out the action. I know it works with Taurus revolver triggers because I did it with my Model 85 with terrific results.

After a few warm-up shots, we switched to rifled slugs and shot down range at one of four steel torso targets 75 yards out. These are great targets because when hit with .22 they “ding”, with 9mm they “clang” and with rifled slugs they “GONG”. I like the instant feedback.

Canon told me that the ribbed .410 shells fit in the cylinder chambers a bit tight and he was right. Not a big deal at all but the smooth-sided .410 shells slipped right in and were easily ejected. When you pull the trigger though there was no difference.

The Judge is designed as a close quarters defense or a snake gun that when loaded with light buck or scatter shot, has an effective range of about 10-12 feet. The rifled barrel scatters the pellets very fast. Loaded with heavy buck or slugs that range in significantly extended.

After shooting it, I’d only load it with #6 if I was living in an apartment and was worried about defending myself against an intruder and just as worried about an errant shot going through the thin apartment wall and killing or injuring my neighbor. In an apartment setting, it seems that most confrontations would take place in the 10’-12’ range anyway. Canon said this was his primary reason for choosing the gun.

I’d never think of loading it with anything less than small buck if using it as a hiking or camping gun. If you shot even a small black bear in full attack with #6 pellets at 10 feet, all you’d do is piss him off and make him madder. The #6 scatters to quickly and the pellets are too small to incapacitate any threat but maybe a rattle snake.

Notice in the shot pattern of the #6 shot in the video below. We were shooting at a distance of only 10 feet.

Loaded with a slug the gun would easily, quickly and certainly incapacitate just about any threat you were faced with (save for a Grizzly which aren’t an issue in Tennessee). If the first shot did knock someone off their feet, the second would.

Is the gun fun to shoot? Heck yes! It’s always a blast to shoot a heavy recoiling handgun. In this case, there was also the novelty of shooting a handgun that takes shot shells. The flexibility of the load options (when you can find them) makes the gun a very versatile defense weapon. I really can’t think of a reason to buy the hard-to-find and over-priced .45 Long Colts for defense since the .410 slugs pack such a wallop at normal defense distances. But to each their own.

See how the variety of shot shell loads tore up the target (note: there are three shotgun holes on the target). But is it good for self defense? For an in depth look check this review out -
My overall impression: When I first learned of the Judge’s existence, I thought to myself, “Cool but...”. Now after learning more about it and shooting it. There are a lot of reasons to own one. Most of those reasons are in the load flexibility. If you load it right, when it comes to self-defense, the Judge’s sentence for attackers intent on causing you lethal harm is definitely the death penalty.

Friday, February 20, 2009

REVIEW: Glock 27

Glock. There’s no doubt that in recent years (post 1911) that the Glock has done for pistols what the iPhone has done for smartphones. It seems that every manufacturer now has a similar polymer framed gun design and to think it all started with curtain rods.
That’s right I said curtain rods. In the late 1960s Gaston Glock made curtain rods but soon branched out to making much cooler things like machine gun belts, knives and trenching tools. The Austrian Army was so happy with the products Glock made, they asked Gaston if he could make them a pistol. In 1982 he invented the 9mm Glock 17 (I understand the numeric designation represented Herr Glock’s 17th patent).
The gun was such a success, that in a little over a year they set up a world HQ in Smyrna, Georgia of all places. Go figure.
Here’s an interesting fact that will lead us directly into our review. S&W designed a new round - the .40 S&W. But it was Glock that first manufactured a gun that could shoot it! They beat S&W with their own round! How’s that for an impressive, fast moving company?
This review is for the Glock 27 which happens to be chambered for the .40 S&W.
My friend Doug has a “Baby” Glock 27 that he uses as a full powered carry gun. For light weight self defense, he uses the Kel-Tec P-3AT we reviewed earlier. I’d wager that over the years I’ve put about 100 rounds through his Glock and it still frustrates me.
Let’s start with the good. Glocks...
  • resist rust better than any gun on the market.
  • are EASY to resell due to their popularity.
  • work. Period.
  • sighing system low-profile and adjustable and very quick to get on target.
  • triggers are very light and reset with very little travel.
  • live up to their reputations.
  • are the most popular pistols on the planet.
Now for the bad. Glocks...
  • don’t fit MY hand shape! I didn’t say yours, I said mine.
I said Doug’s Glock frustrates me. And it’s not just his, it’s every Glock I shoot (and I’ve shot many). The grip feels uncomfortable, thick and awkward. Plus, having a fixed polymer grip, there’s really nothing I can do about it. At least the XDm and S&W M&P have replaceable palm swells and back straps (this proves it must be an issue for more people than just me).
People, I love Glocks. I think they’ve done more for pistol making than any other company since Colt did 100 years ago. Now that we’ve established the grip gripe, let’s talk about shooting it.
The first thing I noticed the first time I pulled the trigger on Doug’s Glock 17 was that the trigger was extremely light and the pull short. So light, that the gun startled me when it went off - isn’t that the secret to accurate shooting, letting the gun surprise you?
I asked him if he had the trigger worked and he said “no”. But dang, that thing is sweet to shoot! After the first shot, I actually had to force myself to press lightly. The result was a smooth, easy trigger pull that’s better than the XD, XDm or Millennium Pro, and easily as good as the Smith and Wesson M&P.
The sights are great too! The square notch rear sight that’s outlined in bright white is easy to line up with the front dot. With most guns, if you want screw driver adjustable height and windage you get a big bulky sight apparatus that isn’t conceal carry friendly. Not so with Glock. They have a relatively low profile fixture that’s completely adjustable with a small screw driver and won’t snag a shirt or jacket.
With all that going for me, I still had trouble staying on target. I found that I had to re-grip the pistol after every shot. There was just no way for me to keep my hand firmly in place and not wiggle my fingers between trigger pulls. The recoil of the .40 S&W didn’t help.
Speaking of recoil, Doug and I tried an experiment. We shot his Glock 27 loaded with Winchester white box Wal-mart ammo against my small Kimber Ultra Carry II loaded with Winchester .45ACP. We alternated shots from each gun over and over then came to our own personal, non-influenced conclusion on recoil. Our impressions identical. We both felt that the recoil was about the same but if we were forced to assign each a grade, we both agreed the Glock “popped” a bit harder. Our opinion for what it’s worth.
Doug has several magazines for the Glock. One is a conceal carry mag without the pinky rest while the others all have the the pinky extension. You want to see me really struggle, watch me shoot the Glock without the extra magazine length.
As for the real reason to buy a little pistol, the Baby Glock 27 is small enough to easily conceal. There are thinner guns out there but the overall package isn’t hard to hide and carry all day via ankle, belly-band or IWB. But that extra girth takes it out of the pocket gun arena.
If you want a Glock, there’s only one thing you need to do prior to buying one. Go to your local gun store, pick one up and see how it fits your hand. Nothing else. If it fits, buy it. If not, try an XD or XDm. It’s that simple. You don’t need to test fire one first, take my word and the word of millions of people world wide. The guns shoot great, don’t jam or fail to feed and they are “throw them off a cliff and they still work” rugged.
No wonder they have such a passionate group of followers...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Building a Custom Ruger 10/22: PART 4 of 4 - Shooting it!

Kennard’s Comments:
I’d like to thank Bruce for his in-depth, step-by-step article on building your own Ruger 10/22. I know people that talk about doing it but don’t know where to begin. Well, this is a good place. 

Folks, this rifle looks and shoots like a dream. The trigger is a finger-breaking 2 lbs. The scope has a wide zoom range and an adjustable parallax. I bought an off the rack, Walnut Ruger 10/22 and next to Bruce’s custom 10/22, mine feels like...well, a Lexus and mine feels like a 1979 AMC Pacer. We will have a side-by-side comparison soon. 

Well, some have noted that this 4 part series has taken a bit to finish and it has.  Right before the cold weekends started to hit on a regular basis, Kennard and I did manage to get out to the range and shoot the 10/22.  Being new at the gun thing, I couldn’t be expected to prove much for how good (or not) the gun was.
While shooting, Kennard got the scope dialed in for me.  If I recall, we didn’t have to deal with wind that day.  We started at 50 yards and then moved it out to the 100 yard distance.  We were shooting Federal brand, the 550 count .22 LR box for $14.  Kennard shot a nice group and followed it up with an even better group.  Then another nice group.  Then he told me that the last two groups were using the Federal target ammo (325 count for $14).  Quite a difference that made.
Kennard did pull off a bench rest 1-inch 10-shot group.  We were using the Caldwell Green/Black rest bags.  Now what I can’t recall was whether or not that was a group at 100 or 50 yrds.  As much as I’d like to show you what was done and more details on that day, we both needed to be somewhere so we packed up and left and forgot to bring the target stand back in.  And, of course, we didn’t take pictures of the target were discussing here.  Sorry all.
About a week later, during a cold afternoon, I met Kennard and a few others at the range.  I shot some with the 10/22 at the plinking range.  Once I figured out what range we had dialed the scope into, I started popping spent 22 gauge cases on a ridge @ 75 yards.  Maybe that’s no big deal to experienced shooters but it sure seemed cool to me.  I also shot a couple golf balls off that ridge.  I followed that up by shooting some spent clay targets up against the far 100 yard hill.  I was consistently shooting broken parts and blowing them into even smaller pieces and had a great time.
So here we are some weeks later and we get a weekend day that was going to be above 45 and not too windy.  Kennard wasn’t feeling great but I decided I’d see what I could do to finish up this series even though I’m new at this and can’t pull off much amazement at this point.  The temp even got up to 60 right before plunging back down the next day for some scattered snow.  But I’ll take it.
Crazy me, I started out at 100 yards.  I was all over the place (about a 3-4” radius).  The scope didn’t seem to be dialed in.  The target ammo didn’t seem to make a difference and it was a bit windy.  So what could I prove?  I shot some targets I had up and eventually took a couple shots at the Caldwell Orange Peel target.  Note the two shots on the pic provided here.  And I was only shooting the Federal Target ammo from here out.
After those two shots, I moved the target up to 50 yards in hopes of having something that could be called a group and not look like buck shot.  In the accompanying photo, Group 1 shows a few shots after I hit a few good ones on another target.  Then I moved over to Group 2.  I started feeling better.  Then Group 3.  Holy smoke! That was me???  The one shot out of the group was the third one.  Stupid third bullet going off and messing up a nice group.  But wow!  Group 4 was so sweet until the 10th shot which decided not to be a “me to” bullet and went out on it’s own at 10 O’clock.  Group 5 told me the joy might be over and that it was time to quit for the day.
I then went over to the plinking range to shoot my XD9 with my new LaserMax internal laser.  That will be a post for another time.  All in all, I’m happy with my 50 yard groups.  I’ll need to get Kennard out there and we can update this post.  I’d like to have some experienced people shoot it to really gauge how good it is.  So an update will be in store.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Building a Custom Ruger 10/22: PART 3 of 4 - Putting it Together (Lots of Photos)

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

(Click on most of the photos for a larger view)

First off I had to get the goods in hand. I received the KID delivery first. Note to you: read the instructions before playing with your new toys. I know. So unmanly. But some times it’s a good rule.

All of the parts are just something you can take out of the packaging and admire. But the trigger works out of the box. It’s adjustable, right? Yes. You can do things with it…… like pulling the trigger, right? Yes. But…. maybe if you read the instructions that came with the trigger, you’d know that they highly discourage pulling the trigger without being mated to all the gun parts. Why? They say it could damage the hammer by not having a bolt to hit. Good to know after pulling the trigger twice. “Oh crap! Did I just mess up my expensive trigger group???” Another note to you: when you DO read the instructions and decide to put you finger where the bolt would be (you know… to NOT mess up you trigger hammer), it’s gonna hurt…. so do it 3-4 times. Not that I would do that, of course.

So what can I do with my new toys while I wait on the others to arrive? Well, lay them out on the table and admire them. Oh, admiration be your KID parts.

I couldn’t help thinking that the barrel looked so short. Well, it was a 16.5” barrel. It’s a nice and study looking (short) barrel though.

So why not wait until the whole gun is put together to mess with the trigger adjustments? Because I can even now. I messed around with the two trigger stage setting screws. I also noticed, of course after reading the instructions (Dooh!), that I could also adjust the trigger position forward or back. Nice to know it’s possible to tweak that based on hand size and finger length. But, be warned when you adjust the trigger position back and do not adjust the two stage trigger adjustments. All of the sudden, the trigger wouldn’t go for anything (of course with a finger taking a pounding if it worked). I was thinking I had indeed screwed up the trigger like the instructions warned. But it turned out that I had just tighted up the trigger pull when I moved the trigger away from the safty switch. I adjusted it back and all was good. My finger still hurt though. But I was relieved.

Scalloped edging. Just for bling. The KID site has a better pic than mine but you get the idea; $10 but a nice touch.

The FFL process slowed the building process way down. Shooters Discount was nice enough to send the non-receiver goods to me though. So one day I knew via UPS tracking that I was getting the stock and bolt handle. I left work early, got home just in time to receive the package. Shortly after, I was surprised by the FedEx guy with my scope. That was a nice day. Two+ weeks after my original order, I was able to get my receiver via FFL. I went straight to pick up some rings and head home to start building. Of course, I took the afternoon off work to get going.

First things first. Unpack all the goods and lay them out. This pic shows you everything you need to build a 10/22. Well, except for forgetting to put the magazine in the picture.

Just another layout pic of the heart of the gun.

Now part of my process in building was to see how things fit first. Sure, first time to do something like this. And, of course, this is fun stuff. Was I really going to get this built in time to get to the range? Take your time and get it right. Have a question, google it before you mess something up. So let’s see how the receiver fits in the stock.

Small gaps around. I couldn’t tell if that was good or bad. But it fit and I really couldn’t expect a perfect fit. So now I wanted to check out the receiver parts. Before buying all of this stuff, I had read online about someone having an issue with their receiver when mounting the barrel with the V-block. The suggestion was to alternate tightening the V-block receiver screws a bit at a time. This avoids over tightening one side and causing a slight bend of the barrel to the right or left.

After putting the barrel in the receiver and putting the V-block on, I could notice that slightly twisting the barrel would change how the V-block sat (or fit) the receiver.

What I did was to put my thumb over the receiver pin hole and along the line between the receiver and V-block. As I twisted the barrel, I’d run my thumb over that line to make sure the two parts were flat across the top. To add to this, I had the receiver screws mostly tightened but not all the way. Do visual and feel checks. And don’t skip loosening and tightening the screws to get it right. For the little I know, getting this part right helps you avoid feed issues down the road.

To check to see if my ring size was the right size, I put the barrel/receiver into the stock. I mounted the lower part of the ring. Then I put the scope onto the lower rings to check the clearance from the scope to the barrel.

What I had been told was that having your pinky fit between the scope and barrel was a good distance. Being the engineering/computer/math nerd, I drew out a scematic of height/widths of parts based on the info I could get from vendor/company sites. There just seemed to be many ring height options and I didn’t want to play trial and error. I geeked out and decided on a .25” ring height (the space from where the ring base touched the scope mount to the part of the ring mount where the lowest part of the scope touches the ring mount). And this worked out well enough. My pinky wouldn’t fit but this pic shows a KID bolt buffer spaced between the scope and barrel.

Putting the KID receiver pins in was a step that had me concerned going into this build. A couple posts on RimFireCentral stated that the countersink work was done by hand. The KID site noted RPM info if using a drill press. DO IT BY HAND PEOPLE. It works and you can (and should) do it little bit by bit. The pic below one pin in while I’m working on the second one. The aluminum receiver is soft enough to do the countersink work by hand. And just like the barrel and V-block screws, do a little bit on each side. Just alternate and test the pins until you have the screws going in far enough to clear the receiver into the stock. Fears overcome? Check!

What I didn’t know when buying the Volquartsen receiver was that it came with a bolt buffer. It’s the clear, hard rubber one shown. The KID bolt buffer is the black one with a pin in the middle.

A quirky thing with the KID bolt buffer was that the pin would slide out. So their receiver pin solution resolves the issue of standard receiver pins slipping out when removing the barreled action from the stock. But their bolt buffer pin slides out. I don’t get it. SOLUTION: I took some of my wife’s hair spray, sprayed it on the pin and slid the pin into the rubber buffer. A few seconds and the pin wasn’t sliding any more. Small issue overcome? Check!

I was unsure if having different brands for the bolt and bolt

handle would make any difference. There was a little wiggle room. Here you see them apart and together.

Now putting the bolt/handle into the receiver turned out to be a bit of a chore. You have to put the handle though the side receiver slot first. But then you find that the bolt doesn’t just drop in. I had read about others having grief during this step as well. I found it hard to deal with three parts with two hands. After a few tries, I sought a work around. I used a Spin Doctor hex wrench (used on my road bike), poked through the barrel hole, to push the bolt handle down which allowed the bolt to drop in without a problem. Another issue resolved? Check!

Here are a few pics after the bolt/handle were in place.

So now I reattach the barrel/V-block back on the receiver, attach the trigger group onto the receiver and put the barreled action into the stock. BAM!!! I’m in business now.

This shows the fit in the stock looking from the bottom of the trigger/magazine. The magazine went in and out without issue.

Now I just needed to put the scope on and I’d be done. I did find myself wondering how I would keep the gun steady while putting the scope on. Small head pillows to the rescue. Soft and wouldn’t scratch the stock.

The rings and scope go on and I have a finished 10/22. Day light is gone and I’m not getting out to the range at this point. What do I do? I call Kennard and tell him I’m headed over.

Change anything looking back? Once over at Kennard’s house, he put some lube in the bolt chamber. It helped after pulling the handle many times. After I got back home, I took it apart to give the barrel an initial cleaning and oiled the bolt chamber. It’s not a bad oversight. It’s good practice to take things apart and put back together. Now I’ve got to shoot this thing.
Next Step: Shooting