I have been using the BCM Mod 4 charging handles for years and it is my go-to charging handle on all AR type platforms. I have not purchased the newer BCM charging handles since they modified and changed the design about two years ago (to the Gen2 design).
When I first opened the packaging and threw the new BCM Mod 4 into my new AR, I was surprised that the medium latch appeared to be a lot smaller than the older original Mod 4 charging handles. I was immediately thinking I might have to go with the larger Mod 3 charging handle because there might not be the same amount of latch surface I was used to running.
I pulled one of my older BCM Mod 4 charging handles and compared it to the new Gen2 BCM Mod 4. The new charging handle is a lot sleeker/compact and does not protrude out as far sideways or forward with the latch.
After running the new Gen2 BCM Gunfighter in the same manner I have used the older BCMs, I really see no functional/operational difference even though it is slightly smaller. I can still run the Gen2 medium with the flat/palm of my support hand or with my index finger and thumb grip. With a shooting glove it is even easier as you can be extremely aggressive with the charging handle. I would suggest gloves if you are training hard.
The new serrated cuts in the back of the charging handle latch assist in the index finger and thumb grip, that I primarily use. The additional serrations provide a very positive grip and I can see it working well with a stuck case or having to aggressively charge the handle to clear the weapon or a malfunction that does not require mortaring your AR. This is still enough latch to kick start the thing if you are unfortunate enough to have to do this.
I do not feel it is necessary to move up to the Mod 3 Large charging handle with the new Gen2 design. With the new lower profile of the updated Gen2 BCM charging handles, I do not feel I am losing anything function wise, but it would appear it is even more snag free on gear.
Now if you have one of the older BCM Gunfighter charging
handles, do you need to switch it out for the new design? No. If you are
getting a new AR and want to have the same function and size as the older BCM
charging handles, stick with the same size in the Gen2 BCMs. Is the new design
an improvement over the older charging handle? I believe it is. The BCM Mod 4
medium charging handle is still the best option for snag free and positive
function compared to the other sizes. If you have a G.I. charging handle, upgrading
to a BCM of any kind is a must IMO. The Mod 4 medium is the best all around
size. I have seen them for under $40.00 dollars at several places. If AMBI charging
handles are your thing, BCM has them as well.
I have always been a strong proponent of Aimpoint sights. Really, we all have been at looserounds. You cannot go wrong choosing any of the Aimpoint models that are currently available or have been previously available. When I worked for my hometown police department, I was the only officer with an Aimpoint, I carried an ML2 (purchased 2003). I never had an issue with my ML2, it just kept going strong year after year. I wrote an article for looserounds several years ago about that Aimpoint ML2 after running it on rifles for ten (10) years. (http://looserounds.com/2013/04/23/my-aimpoint-ml2-a-decade-in-use/). Since then I have used several other Aimpoints Red Dot Sight (RDS) optics.
There are a lot of micro RDS optics on the market and numerous are less expensive than Aimpoint. So, I want to put this article in perspective for you. Just like my previous article on the Aimpoint ML2, I am talking about a serious personal defense, military or law enforcement / duty use, micro RDS optic. Something you can trust your life or others lives on. While other RDS optics might serve you just as well, Aimpoint is known for its quality. Aimpoint has the quality and quantity that has served in military and law enforcement units in extreme environments for decades.
In October 2013 and January 2014, I purchased two Aimpoint H1 RDS optics. These Ampoint H1’s have a 4MOA dot and are currently out of production. Aimpoint still makes the H1 micro but it is only offered in a 2MOA dot. When you are testing a RDS sight over several years, it may go out of production, but there are a lot of that sight still out there. Also it gives you an idea of how current models will perform.
I put brand new batteries in the H1’s when I purchased them and set them on setting eight (8). Aimpoint states that on setting eight (8) the micro’s should run for 50,000 hours or five (5) years on the same battery. I would say this is very accurate as I have had both my Aimpoints on over the five (5) years.
Now you may be thinking, I didn’t continually leave the H1’s on and I never used them in any hard use. The H1 micro’s have seen more rounds on rifles than I even know. They have been through countless training classes, schools and testing at looserounds. I have also tested the H1’s on several different mounts over the years. I have used American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) mounts, Daniel Defense mounts, LaRue Tactical Mounts and Scalarworks Mounts. You will see these mounts throughout the pictures in the article. Since the batteries have been on for 5-1/2 years they probably have over 55,000 hours run time on them.
For the past five (5) years my pair of Aimpoint H1 mico’s have been my home defense optics, on various rifles, Colt (LE6920s, AR6720s and currently LE6960). I have also run them on a few S&W M&P15-22s and currently on a Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ AR15 Pistol. While I have kept both H1’s on setting eight (8) the entire time I have had them, I have bumped the setting up and down during use, depending on lighting conditions. During bright days on the range I have had to bump the setting up to eleven (11), or one louder it you know what I mean. I have also run the H1’s on lower settings to sight the optics in on other rifles. I find that dialing down the sight while sighting in RDS optics, gives you a more accurate Point of Impact (POI) on the sight. After shooting or sighting in, I default the sights back to setting eight (8). I find that setting eight (8) is the best all around setting for most lighting situations.
According to Aimpoint, the Aimpoint H1’s have a 50,000 hour battery life, (roughly Five years). Over the last 5-1/2 years the Aimpoint H1’s have stood up to every day work/use, countless range days, carbine course schools (on several different rifles), and looserounds firearms testing for articles, on the original batteries. Now that I have run them this long on the original batteries, I will change them out. I would suggest that you change out the battery every year just to be safe. I have said this before and it is always confirmed, Aimpoint is the only red dot optic I will ever use for professional or serious personal defense use. If you purchase one of the newer Aimpoint models, (i.e. PRO, M4, M4S, H1 – H2 or T1 – T2), with battery lives of 30,000 to 80,000 hours, these will last you a lifetime. There is no other optic that you can bet your life on and gives you that comfort that it will work every time you need it.
This is Part One, of a several part Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ pistol build. This part will focus on the PSA lower, other articles will focus on the 10.5″ upper, parts kit and the completed build. This is my first experience with PSA products, so let’s jump right into the PSA AR-15 lower.
I purchased the PSA EPT SBA3 Pistol Lower while it was on sale. The sale was for 199.00 and had free shipping. Considering the SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable brace is about 150.00 dollars if you purchase it by itself, this is a screaming deal for a complete assembled pistol lower. The PSA Lower can be found here: ( https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-ar15-complete-moe-ept-sba3-lower-5165448150.html). The lower also came with PSA’s Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT) which is a slight upgrade on the trigger. Of course Magpul grip and trigger guard also come on the lower and is pretty much standard with most manufacturers now.
The PSA lower came in very simple and nice packaging. A padded box and a PSA sticker. Simple, no extras and straight to the point. The small PSA box is nice if you want to store your lower for whatever reason.
Over all the lower seems to be mil-spec in quality and materials and finish. A few things stuck out to me when I first looked over the PSA lower. I was surprised to see, in a lower priced this affordably, STAKING. The end plate is staked into the castle nut. This is a minor thing but I think it is important and a sign of quality. There are several manufacturers that sell lowers far more expensive than the PSA’s and they do not stake the castle nut in place.
The next thing I noticed was the beveled magazine well. Another nice touch that makes feeding the magazine into the lower quick, smooth and easy. The lower receiver is a low shelf receiver, so if you are someone who is lucky enough to have a drop in Registered Auto Sear (RAS), you should be good to go.
The last thing I thought was a nice touch is the Palmetto State Armory logo on the SBA3 brace itself. In the future PSA articles this will tie in nicely on other parts. A small marking that shows PSA is tying in all the small details for the purchaser. This has no functional use but makes the buyers experience enjoyable in small matching details. For someone who checks to make sure every part on a Colt rifle or other manufacturer firearm is marked or stamped properly, it is a nice touch. Clearly PSA took the time to have a conversation with SB Tactical to ensure this happened.
So let’s get down to what really matters, how does it function. Well the simple fact is 100%. I have had absolutely no issues with the PSA lower. I have run approximately 750 rounds with the lower, which is not a lot, but a proper built and spec’ed lower will probably never have issues. I did change a few things with the lower. I replaced the PSA carbine buffer with an H buffer as I run an H buffer at the minimum on all lowers I have. I also changed the MOE grip to a Magpul K-Grip as I like the angle better. The safety selector is audible, tactile & smooth when flipping from safe to fire and back.
The EPT trigger is a mil-spec trigger but has PSA’s enhanced polishing and a Nickel Teflon finish. Both the hammer and trigger is polished and coated in PSA’s Nickel Teflon finish. Can you tell a huge difference from a stock mil-spec trigger? That is for you to decide. I compared the EPT PSA trigger to several Colt mil-spec triggers. I could maybe feel a slight difference but all of the Colt’s had thousands of rounds through them. The PSA was smooth right out of the box, very little creep and the break was very nice. I have no complaints and because it was included in the price of the lower, I think it was worth it. Fast and clean follow up shots felt like a well used, broken in trigger.
At this price point, I see absolutely no reason why you
should not pick up a PSA lower. Especially if you are looking for a Pistol
lower with the SBA3 brace. Hell, pick up a few at this price. I am very happy
with this purchase and it should serve me and you well if you choose the PSA
lower. If you are in the market for a rifle lower the PSA rifle lowers are
cheaper than the PSA pistol lowers. I have seen them as low as 120.00 dollars,
depending on stock and grip. If you are building a pistol or rifle I would say
you should give PSA a look, especially if you are on a budget.
One of the best and a very reliable firearm you can decide to buy is a new, police trade-in or used Smith & Wesson M&P9, if you know what to look for. When looking at one of these used M&P9’s there are important things you need to look for. In this short article, I will breakdown some of the key things to look for and/or avoid. A gun store may not let you field strip the gun to insure you are getting what you want, so if they don’t, pass on it. This will cover only M&P9s in a certain date range, before the M2.0 versions. Nothing in this article is applicable to the Shield models.
First let’s talk about the advantages of buying an M&P9 in today’s market. When you understand what to look for in a new or used M&P9, you know if you are buying the most updated version. Since Smith & Wesson has made rolling updates to their M&Ps over the years, it is hard to know what years all of these updates were implemented. Rest assured, if you buy an M&P9 that was produced after 2015, you are more than likely good to go.
Since the M2.0 versions has been released the previous versions of the M&P9s have significantly dropped in price. This makes picking up an older used or new stock M&P9 a great purchase for someone on a budget, or wanting to add to their collection. The M&P9 handguns are a long serving and very reliable design. On average you can get the trade-in /used M&Ps in the Mid to High-300 dollar range. I recently came across a new in box, M&P9 for 349.00 dollars. That is such a screaming deal I could not pass it up. When checking the production date on the new M&P9, it was June of 2017.
Older M&P9s had a twist rate of 1:18.75 with the barrels. When checking the used or new M&P9, look for two things.
First; the barrel should have a visible bull/flair at the end. My understanding is this was a fix to address the early unlocking of the barrel and slide in the M&P. There are some 1:18.75 barrels with and without the bull/flair.
Second; on the underside of the barrel, just in front of the locking lug, there should be a small dot. There may sometimes be two dots. Either way this indicates the barrel is the upgraded 1:10 twist rate. My understanding is all 1:10 barrels in the M&P9 will have the bull/flair at the end. These changes happened sometime between 2012 and 2015, to address accuracy issues.
In approximately Mid 2013, Smith & Wesson upgraded the ambidextrous Slide Stop on the M&Ps. This was to address issues with the auto forwarding of the slide, when inserting a new magazine. While the upgrade may have addressed the issue in some M&Ps, it did not in my new example.
S&W beefed up the build of the slide stop. You will notice a distinct square build-up on top of the slide stop lever.
There have been several upgrades to the M&P trigger components over the years. I do not know what all these individual component upgrades are, nor do I have older M&Ps to compare them to. Upgrades have been made over the years to the sear, trigger bar and various springs, to address the lack of audible trigger reset. The particular M&P9 I purchased has a clear, audible and tactile, reset. I have a new M&P9 M2.0 Compact and the trigger reset on the Older M&P9 is better, but the trigger break is lighter & smoother on the M2.0. Spend a little time pulling the trigger and checking the reset.
There is no way around it, the stock M&P trigger shoe/geometry sucks, compared to all other striker fired firearms. There is a huge, simple, inexpensive fix to the trigger. I would highly recommend checking out the Apex AEK Trigger. This replaces the Sear Spring (with a Heavy Duty spring) and Trigger Shoe. The polymer version is 37.95 and the aluminum version is about 73.00 dollars. This gives you the flatter Glock type trigger face and is a vast improvement on the S&W curved trigger face.
Sights may play a factor in pricing when you have found a good deal. All M&Ps come with steel sights, which is a good thing. The M&P9 I purchased came with standard three dot white sights. Some may come with S&W night sights, and if they do at the 349.00 dollar price, that is a major plus.
Look for all of the updates in the M&P you are looking at. Remember, if you are buying an M&P M2.0 version, all of the updates are already in those firearms and more, (but that is a separate article).
I purchased a new S&W M&P9 M2.0 Compact about six (6) months ago and I love it. I have never been a huge M&P fan. I have liked the Shields and I really like my M2.0 Compact. I believe the M2.0 Compact is the best S&W M&P pistol ever made and it is giving several of my other 15 round capacity firearms a serious run for the money. Having said all that, for the money and reliability, an older M&P9 or even a .40 would be an excellent firearm, at these current low prices.
You should not hesitate to purchase an M&P9 at under 350.00 dollars. I have reviewed several budget defensive firearms, like the Sig SP2022, used/trade in Glock’s and the Canik TP9SF. I would choose the M&P9 over all of them at the current market prices. If you remember to look for the key things talked about here, you will be walking away with the latest upgrades, an extremely reliable firearm, that will be very dependable and reliable for years to come.
We have been lucky enough to get several of the brand new Gen5 Glock 17’s and Glock 19’s, as the Gen5’s have been highly anticipated. This will be one article in a series on the new Gen5’s. Now that we have them, let’s strip one of the Gen5’s all the way down and look at the new parts.
The new Gen5’s have several unique, redesigned, internal components that are very different from all other Glock’s. You can see it is a 2 pin design, like the old Gen1 and Gen2 Glock’s, with a Gen4 magazine release and stippling. I have completely stripped this Gen5 G19 to give you an idea of what the new internal parts look like. When completely stripping the Gen5, you will notice some of the parts are similar in design to the single stack G42 and G43, just beefed up for the larger Gen5’s. Other parts are totally new and uniquely design for the Gen5 Glock’s. This makes the Gen5’s a completely redesigned Glock, that has very few part compatibility with the Gen1, Gen2, Gen3 and Gen4 models.
Below are the parts that are shared with previous generations. Some of this may change in the future as some parts are on the fence for now. I will list these to get them out of the way.
Throughout this comparison I used parts from a Gen2 G19, a Gen3 RTF2 G17 and a Gen4 G19. While I will not go into a complete tutorial on how to strip your Gen5 Glock down, it is not extremely difficult and you can learn how to properly do it with some quality research.
When stripping the Gen5’s completely down, pay close attention to the parts that are significantly different in their design and placement in the firearm, compared to the previous generation of Glock models. Below are several pictures of a completely stripped Gen5 G19, the new internal parts and part comparisons to some previous generations.
LOWER RECEIVER PARTS
The Gen5 has a completely redesigned Lower Receiver. Only two or three small parts are compatible with previous generations and you will see this below as we detail those parts. The Gen5’s have gone back to a two pin frame, like the Gen1 and Gen2 9mm Glock’s. The most noticeable external changes are the beveled & flared magazine well, and the removal of the finger groves. The stippling is very similar to the Gen4 but the little pyramid stipples feel just a little smaller. The Gen4 replaceable back strap system also appears to be the same.
note: I have seen a few places say the trigger guard has been undercut more, to reduce the (Glock Knuckle) effect that some experience when firing. From what I can tell this is not the case. I cannot see or feel that the undercut has been changed at all, it appears the same compared to all my previous generations.
As stated before there are two Pins on the Gen5’s. The Trigger Pin is new and redesigned. The two cut slots in the pin are a-lot shallower and wider than previous generations. It will not work in any other generation. The Rear Trigger Housing Pin is the same as the standard Gen4 Glock pins for the interchangeable back straps.
The Locking Block is a complete redesign. When removed it looks like a Gen3 or Gen4 two pin block. Although it will slide into previous generation frames, the pin holes do not line up.
Ambidextrous Slide Stop Lever:
The Slide Stop Lever is a completely redesigned part. It is thicker and seams more robust than previous generations. The thumb tabs are also angled outwards slightly more.
Trigger Mechanism Housing w/ Ejector & Connector:
The Trigger Mechanism Housing (TMH) with Ejector, are very similar to the G43 in design. The TMH is not compatible with the previous generations. The Connector however appears to be the same as all previous generations.
The Trigger Spring parts, from what I can tell, also appear to be similar in design to the G43, and are not compatible with the previous generations.
The Trigger Bar is another completely redesigned part that is not compatible with previous generations. If you have a Glock 19, you will notice that the Gen5 G19 comes with a smooth faced trigger and not the traditional serrated trigger.
Slide Lock & Spring:
The Slide Lock and Slide Lock Spring design is similar to the G43. It is just larger for the Gen5’s. Although the Slide Lock looks almost identical to previous generations, the cutout for the spring at the bottom is wider to accommodate the new coil spring. The Spring is a coiled spring instead of a leaf spring of the previous generations.
The Magazine Release looks to be a standard Gen4 magazine release. It is just slightly extended and feels more rounded at the edges. It is compatible with the Gen4’s and this mean the Vickers extended Gen4 magazine releases should be good to go in the Gen5.
Magazines are compatible with all generations. The floor plate has just been reshaped in the very front. The Orange follower is just Orange. It is still the same 9mm #6 follower, so in the future you will probably be able to switch out your black followers to Orange, when the followers become available. The magazine body is also the same.
SLIDE UPPER PARTS
The slide on the Gen5’s has been redesigned of course, with an ambidextrous slide stop cut on the right side and reshaped/contoured muzzle end. The breach face is also different to accommodate the new Firing Pin shape. One thing I found interesting, is the slide is just slightly longer than previous generations at the muzzle end. Less of the barrel and recoil spring is protruding from the slide, compared to previous generations. The recoil spring assembly is actually recessed back into the slide slightly.
Barrel & Recoil Spring Assembly:
The Barrel is marked with a 5, noting it is a Gen5 barrel. The barrel has traditional (lands and grooves) rifling and does not have the standard Glock OEM Polygonal rifling. This new barrel is the Glock Marksmanship Barrel (GMB). The barrel has a deeper recessed crown and the rifling extends closer to the chamber. For fun I swapped out the barrels on several different G19’s with the Gen5 barrel and I put older barrels in the Gen5 G19. I did not have any assembly or disassembly issues. I would contact or wait for Glock to approve this before attempting to fire any of the barrel swaps. This might be a sign that you can upgrade your previous generation Glock’s with the GMB barrel. That would be a smart move if Glock intended to sell the GMB as an upgraded barrel.
The recoil spring assembly (RSA) on the G19 appears to be a standard Gen4 duel captured recoil spring. The Gen5 G17 RSA looks a little longer. I believe this is due to the Gen5 G17 barrel lug being different than previous generations. The Gen5 G17 has a G19 sized locking lug. The picture below was provided by an AR15.com member.
Slide Cover Plate:
The Slide Cover Plate is a totally new design to accommodate the new internals. This part is not compatible with any previous generation. The Orange Glock Armorer’s Slide Cover will work for checking your Trigger Bar and TMH connections/tolerances.
Firing Pin Safety:
The Firing Pin Safety is a completely redesigned part, specific to the Gen5’s. Again it can only go in one way. The notch on the left side of Firing Pin Safety faces the Firing Pin. The Firing Pin Safety Spring appears to be the same part as any other generations.
Firing Pin Assembly:
The Firing Pin assembly is very interesting. Some parts are the same as previous generations and others are not. The Spring Cups, Firing Pin Spring and Spacer Sleeve appear to be the same as previous generations . The Firing Pin itself has a redesigned tear drop like rounded tip. The cuts for the Firing Pin Safety connection are also different at the head of the Firing Pin.
Extractor Depressor Plunger:
The Extractor Depressor Plunger Rod, Depressor Plunger Spring and the Spring Loaded Bearing appear to be identical to previous generations with the Loaded Chamber Extractor. The spring looks slightly different in color and is slightly longer. This may be for added strength and pressure for extraction.
The Extractor looks to be similar in design to the previous generations. There are some minor shaping and cut angle differences. Not sure if it is compatible with previous generations but I do not see why it would not be.
If you are not a Glock Armorer, Gunsmith or you are very unfamiliar with stripping your Glock down; I would not recommend any disassembly past regular field strip maintenance. Most people will have no need to break the firearm down to this level. Hopefully this answered some of the questions on the new parts and the compatibility of parts with the previous generations. If you have any questions or we missed something you wanted to know about, leave a comment or reach out to us on our Facebook Page.