There is no shortage of companies in the AR game producing their own grip and each promise improved ergonomics, control, comfort, handjobs, etc. I’ve fallen for the marketing hype a few times and tried most of them over the years in an attempt to find the one grip “to rule them all.” Each initially showed promise but all have been discarded over time for one reason or another.


A Hogue grip circa 2005.  I grew tired of the finger groves and didn’t like the texture of the rubber.


Ergo grip also circa 2005.  Too narrow and oddly shaped.


Magpul MOE grips.  Too/large bulky, they feel like a 2×4 in comparison to some.  I’ve come to feel the same about their front grips.

Most recently I’ve been flirting with the straighter angle grips such as the Magpul K-grip and the BCM Gunfighter.


Magpul K-grip.  Too narrow and small.  I don’t think they allow for very good control of the weapon.


I thought I had a winner in the BCM Gunfighter Mod 0, but as time went on I found I did not like how the straighter angle seemed to give me less leverage on the weapon when maneuvering it strong hand only.

So what have I settled on as the best solution in a world of no perfect solution?

The A1.


In another case of the guys that designed the AR15 getting more right than aftermarket parts peddlers (cough piston AR’s cough) would give them credit for, the A1 is still an excellent choice for a grip. While this is completely subjective, to me the A1 strikes an excellent balance of width and angle, and lacks the finger grove of the A2 that many, including myself, despise. Recently I’ve been using a hybrid A1/A2 grip sourced from Accurate Armory that takes the fingergroveless body of an A1 and combines it with the texturing of an A2.  It will be my go to grip for the foreseeable future.


Like M, I have played around with newer “improved” after market grips for the last few years.  I have never had a problem with the A1/A2 grip that a lot of people say, or claim they do, but I am always one to take a look at newer innovation whether it is worthwhile or not.  In the past decade I have tried many of the same grips M has spoken about as well and found them lacking or jus plain hype and marketing.   I despise the Magpul  MIAD and the cheaper MOE grip.  I also found the rubber Hogue to be more of a pain then any real use  and the ergo variants have never held much  for me. 

When the BCM Gunfighter came out, I took a long look and bought one.  BCM has had some real winners with some incremental ( if not necessary ) improvements lately with the obviously nice  charging handles.  The new grip and its new trendy angle got my interest up so I bought one.


Before  I tried this grip, I was using the Tango Down Battle grip.   Now the TD grip was something I really did  live up to what I wanted.  So, to stop using it was not something I did lightly.  After months of using the BCM grip and its new angle that is in such high regard I found out I simply did not like it.   Yes it does put the trigger finger behind the trigger at a straighter angle. Yes, it does help tuck in the arm a little better. Did it help control recoil or some such?  Not that I could tell.  But, the major problem with the grip for me was just what M touched on.  When I operated the carbine with one hand, I had no leverage.  This was not a small problem either. Without the traditional A1/A2 angle , I could not use the leverage of the grip on the rear of my hand, to support the gun as well.


This was greatly exaggerated when I used my alternate killing hand as seen in the picture above.  With the BCM grip, the carbine felt very, very muzzle heavy. It was like it wanted to flip out of my hand, go muzzle down into the dirt while flipping the stock end over end. No joke. That really was what it felt like I was fighting the gun against.   Now I admit this is a training issue, but why get used to it, or fight it when I already had what I needed in the TD grip or the plain old A2 grip.  I have always liked the finger bump on the A2 grip unlike a lot of people so that’s not an issue for me. But the TD does not have any finger grove anyway.  The TD gives me storage as well so there is not real advantage there either in my mind.   


I gave the BCM grip all the attention and effort that it deserves if for no other reason then the popularity and attention it is getting.  It just did not pan out. The grip angle could be over come with training I am sure. But the same can be said about those who think ( thanks to marketing and high profile trainers) that the old grip is some how a hindrance to proper technique.  The AR15 pattern can have some tweaks to make it easier to use there is not doubt, but they are small tweaks.  Despite gun magazines advert, there is not a lot about the AR15 that the inventors did not get right already and Colt Firearms did not damn near perfect.


A few years back I did the whole grip roulette thing my self.  Went from the A2 to the A1 to rid my self of the finger bump.  Then went from the A1 to the Tango Down grip.  The TD is very nice, but I wish it were it bit wider.  Then went to Magpul, I used the slick front strap and smallest back strap.  When I ended up buying my first suppressor I found that holding up a muzzle heavy firearm with the firing hand was easier with a grip that had that finger bump, so I went back to the A2.  So I went full circle.  Other grips I tried and didn’t like included the Ergo (too narrow), Hogue (too many finger bumps), and CAA (functional, but ugly, felt cheap).


Penetration Testing And Using A Car As Cover Part 2

After the results of shooting through a car on the range with a 5.56 a few weeks ago, I decided to test some more with a variety of rounds.


We used the same car as the 5.56 test and shot the target from the same angles and through the same amounts of barrier.  Those being one door, two doors and through both sides of the rear trunk area.  I did not bother trying to shot through the engine block because it will stop just about anything you can carry and fire not crew served.

The first up was the 9mm round.  The round was a NATO  ball round. The caveat is , it was from a Colt 9mm carbine. This adds significant performance to the 9mm FMJ round.  I do not advise anyone to base the performance of their 9mm handgun on what can be done with a rifle firing the same round.


First up  we fired the 9mm through  both rear doors.



Five rounds where fired from 25 yards. Only two made it through and into the target. Two more holes that seemed to be hits turned out to be fragment from the bullet jacket or car door.

Next we fired form the trunk side to side with the 9mm.


Out of five rounds, two made it through both sides of the trunk.

Last we shot  through one door with the target hidden behind it in the classic “movie cop” positioning.



We thought more would make it through in better shape then before when using the same 9mm  round.


Only two rounds out of five made it through. They did stay on path and hit where aimed.  The other three shredded as frag for one reason or another I have no idea why.


Next we fired the  5.45 round form the AK-74  in all three of the same positions as the 5.56 and 9mm.



Almost all made it through both doors. But as you can see they keyholed. There was not much energy left after they hit the target and did not penetrate the plastic barrel  the target was leaning against. But they did go through both doors and hit where we intended them to hit.  Rounds  were fired through a AK74 “krinkov” with shorter barrel so it would be interesting to see the different from the full length AK barrel.  Range was again, only 25 yards.


The 5.45 was nothing but frag when shot through the trunk/rear of the car with five rounds.


The 5.45 went through the single passenger side door very easy with lots of fragmentation. Most rounds hit were aimed but at odd angles showing  the start of the tumbling seen when fired through two doors resulting in obvious key holes in the target.


Last we fired the 7.62×39.


Two rounds out of five, fired from 25 yards from a AK47 , made it through both doors. The M43 round held together twice but the rest became a fine enough powder to just pepper the target with dents.


When fired through the rear trunk of the car, one round of five made a solid hit, the rest became frag that just made it through the cardboard of the target and made no mark on the plastic barrel behind it that we could spot.


The last 5 rounds were fired through the “movie cop ” one door position.  This had us scratching out heads a bit. Most of the rounds fragmented bad enough to not leave any hole that looked like a clean hit.  Large chunks of the round did puncture the target but only maybe two at most.   Lots of bullet jacket did cut through the target though and would obviously make a bad day.  My guess is that 2-3 rounds tumbled or where deflected off target.  Though, I don’t see how sense that target was only about 5 inches behind the rear of the door we shot through.    Gun was the shorter barreled version so make of that what you will.


Once again this shows that most popular common rounds fired at a car being used as cover will give you a large medical bill or a trip to the grave.  Very little of the vehicle offers up real cover and protection.  All rounds fired  were ball ( FMJ )  and would theoretically give better penetration, but that obviously not a given. The reason we used ball this time, is because it is the most common round to find in all of these rounds and  soviet type arms with ball ammo is the main weapon many people will face in certain parts of the world doing certain jobs.  Do to its cheap price, it is also likely to be the choice of some bad guy wanting more firepower.  Most LE and civilians with ammo for self protection would be more likely to have hollow points or soft points or some such so this time we were more interested in seeing what a person could expect to face in such an encounter.   We will be doing this test with more rounds to come to give an idea  just what you might expect if your day suddenly goes very badly.



Unbagging a Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel.

Shawn did an interesting accuracy test on a Colt 14.5 inch M4A1 SOCOM barreled upper of mine a little while ago.  His results can be read here.

Here is what a Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel looks like new in the bag:

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


Note the cardboard wick in the barrel.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrelBarrel markings and F Front Sight Base (FSB) are clearly marked.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


This picture shows the yellow dot of paint found on new Colt barrels.  Also note the flats in the heavy barrel profile and notches in the handguard cap required for mounting a M203 grenade launcher.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


Colt AR15 barrels usually have a date stamp near the hand guard cap, this one is 06/11.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


The wick in the barrel extends past the chamber.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel


While a new in package M4A1 SOCOM barrel comes with a complete FSB (front sight post included), no muzzle device or slip ring/delta ring are included.

Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrels can be found for sale from various sources.  These all are 14.5 inch barrels so it will need a permanently attached muzzle device to be legal on a non-NFA firearm.  The Colt 6920 SOCOM model comes with a similar barrel that is 16 inches in length and does not have the M203 flats milled into it.


Handgun Shopping

Catherine Kim

I love guns.  While some girls enjoy spending their money on shoes, I like to slowly build my armory and gear to appease my many hobbies.  I don’t limit myself to one brand, but I do have my favorites.  Although my collection is not enormous, it is growing and each addition is special in its own way.  I get quite a number of messages through my FaceBook from girls who want to purchase their first handgun, so I thought I would share my journey.  The important thing is that YOU feel comfortable handling and shooting it.  I can’t even count or recall all the handguns I have shot throughout the years, but as you continue shooting you will start noticing immediately what features you like and dislike.

Catherine Kim

Finding that “right” feeling “out of box” handgun was a bit of a struggle for me.  I started out with the Glock because that was the brand I heard the most about and let’s face it… it is inexpensive.  It shot good and it was lightweight, but one of the things I did not like was the way the grip felt.  With my tiny hands it felt so bulky and it was hard to get a grip with the huge hump on the backstrap.  However, a benefit to Glock was the customization potential and its durability.  There are many third party companies that develop add-ons and replacement parts to customize not only functionality but aesthetics as well.

Next I shot and fell in love with the Sig P226 at the range, so I went ahead and bought one.  It shot smooth and felt a little better in my small hands.  The only problem for me was the long double action trigger pull on the first shot. During that time I started dabbling in competitive shooting, and getting that first shot off was more time consuming than a striker fire.  After taking an IDPA class with my Sig P226, I knew I would have to find another gun if I wanted to dabble in competitive shooting (production class).

Someone brought to my attention the Smith & Wesson M&P series that had interchangeable palmswells for the backstrap. So I went and held one with the SMALL back and it felt amazing.  It was the best fitting “out of box” handgun I had ever felt for my tiny hands. It felt controllable, which is extremely important. Especially for women, if the gun isn’t very controllable, you will be constantly adjusting your grip.  Plus it was a striker fire so it was super easy to use and shoot.

Smith & Wesson M&P

So, I went on a hunt for a M&P 9L, which has a 5″ barrel for a little more accuracy and has a longer sight radius with an overall length of 8.38.”   The stars must have aligned because I found ONE (literally one) available in another state through Armslist.  The previous owner had installed a fiber optic front/black wide notch rear sight combo for faster target acquisition.  Although, the stock three dot Smith & Wesson sights are pretty good and personally I think better than Glock.  Every M&P comes with all three sizes of palmswells- small, medium, and large.  It is really easy to change out and does not require tools. Another aftermarket enhancement my M&P 9L came with is an upgraded trigger.  The stock M&P trigger is not very smooth. That’s the only complaint I have ever heard about them, but that can go for many other stock handguns as well. I have the APEX Competition AEK (action enhancement kit) which gives me about a 3lb trigger pull, and they also offer the Duty/Carry AEK which gives you about a 5lb pull. Both have a super crisp and short reset.

Smith & Wesson M&P

Gun shopping is kind of like shoe shopping.  If you are going to purchase an expensive pair of heels, #1. You want to try it on and walk around, #2. You want to make sure it fits, and #3. You want to make sure it’s comfortable. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  Happy shooting.  😉

Smith & Wesson M&P

Car as Cover And The 5.56 On Cars

Most of us know that using a vehicle for cover comes with a few caveats.  We know to use a car as cover, we need to get behind the engine block or try to snuggle down behind a wheel and let the metal of the wheel protect you if that is all you got, but a lot of people do not know that thanks to movie and TV.   On the other hand, we are also told the 5.56 is not very good at penetrating anything thicker than a cotton T-shirt without AP bullets or something made to do so.  Anything short of a bonded bullet or M995 just will not do anything against a car.

Today while doing some training at the local Police range, my friend and I decided to do a little impromptu testing that is not scientific in any way, but it does reflect our experience from doing this quite a few times in the past.   We did not use any ball ammo or M855 or specialty rounds.  We decided to use his department issue ammo.   The round is the Federal 55 grain soft point Tactical Rifle Urban round.   We fired from 25 yards using a 16 inch barrel Colt 6920.


I set up a FBI “Q” target behind the car and he shot through both rear doors to see what would make it through.  Five rounds were fired to have the best chance to see results and to account for anything that might go wrong.


The rounds did make it through both doors.  There was of course lots of frag, but the lead core did make it through and still had plenty enough left to go through the cardboard backer and to kick up dirt and gravel on down range.   The rounds did deflect to the left from a foot to a foot and a half.  Still very dangerous and enough to kill a TV cop or robber.

Next I set the target behind the trunk/read. Another popular place  people who do not know better assume is a safe place ( on TV mostly).


No big surprises here for us. The rounds made it through in enough shape and weight to do serious damage and deliver serious wounds at the least.  Rounds of course deflected once again.


A lot more fragmentation this time from the car and the jacket. This is due to a few rounds hitting the  gas cap area. Some of the holes  were very cleanly cut and showed no signs of key holing.  The soft points did show signs of significant mushrooming with the diameter looking more like a .30 caliber bullet.

Last we fired through just one door.


We both have fired a lot of rounds through single car doors and knew pretty much how this would turn out.  Once we had even fired 40 grain ballistic tips from 100 yards and go penetration through single car doors so we got what we expected.


Every round fired made it through the door with a large amount of upward deflection.  But they did make it.  Large amounts of fragmentation and bullet deformation, but very deadly.   A 5.56 is not useless when shooting through cars at what would be distance used in most police stops or what have you, and I would not want to have to hide behind a car only when some one was shooting at me even with SP bullets.   I hope this will demonstrate just how crappy a car works as cover and shows how a 5.56 is nothing to laugh at when used on a car.  Keep in my the ammo used was meant for anti personnel use only and was not a load meant for better barrier penetration. Had they been something like a bonded bullet or solid copper HP Barness TSX,, the results would have been even more significant.



Knights Armament has produced many rails for the U.S. military.  Most well known are the M5 RAS used on the M16A4 and the M4 RAS used on the M4.  RAS stands for Rail Adapter System.

However prior to the M4 RAS, this was the M4 RIS.  The Rail Interface System was used on the CQBR uppers which led to the MK18MOD0 .

The RIS, bottom one in the photo above, is secured using a clamp on the handguard cap.  You can see this clamp in the photo above.  Easiest way to identify a RIS is noticing that the odd numbering counting up backwards from the front of the rail.

The more commonly found RAS has a spring tap on the front that goes under the handguard cap( and is commonly installed over the handguard cap, newer models have this tab modified to prevent incorrect installation).  On the top rear of the RAS, there is a screw for the clamp that grabs the barrel nut.  Even numbered markings count up from the rear of rail.

A M4 RAS retails for $351 dollars.  For that price you can buy newer better free float rails.  However on the secondary market or from Knights own store you can purchased used or blemished M4 RAS handguards for good prices.  The main reason for this rail popularity is due to its used by the U.S. Military, but it is a good solid piece of kit regardless.

The RIS is harder to find, and mainly purchased by people wanting to make clones of the MK18MOD0.  Personally only reason I own one is that it came as part of a package deal.  The RIS is nice, but the RAS is better.  The only advantage the RIS has is that it can accept a slightly larger barrel profile, but ff you are going to use a barrel that large, you would probably be better off with a different handguard.

If you would like to know more, there is a good old write up about the two rails on Quarterbore.