All posts by Howard

Video: AK12

This video shows off the AK-15.  The same rifle as the AK-12, but in 7.62×39.  One notable change in the AK-12 and AK-15 over the venerable AK-47/AKM/AK74 is a free floating barrel with the gas tube fixed to the receiver.  It also has a side folding collapsing butt stock.

But the most interesting thing about this video is over at 27 seconds the target they show appears to show key-holing.  This is where the bullet impacts the target sideways.  Not very impressive from any rifle.

M203 Information

I was asked by someone on AR15.com to find some information about the M203.  I am posting it here so it will be available for everyone.

I weight a 9 inch and 12 inch barrel on a precision scale.  Both barrels had grease on them which I did not clean off.  I can’t tell you how much the grease threw off the measurements, but this should still give  you a fair comparison on weights.

The 9 inch barrel is 14.7 oz, or 416.6g.

The 12 inch barrel is 17.54 oz or 497.5g.

It makes me think that since the 12 inch barrel is so close to 500 grams that may have been a target weight for the barrel.  When I first put the 12 inch barrel on the scale it said 500 flat, but when I moved it and wiggled the barrel it ended up settling down to 497.5g.  So in the end, the 9 inch barrel is about .18 pounds lighter than the 12 inch barrel.

LMT M203 with unknown brand 9in 40mm barrel.  LMT Stand Alone Stock, Daniel Defense Front Sight, and unknown rail mount leaf sight.

Also, the Army says that the muzzle velocity of the M320 is 236.22 fps, and the M203 is 250 fps.  But I don’t know what barrel length they are referring to in that.

Setting AR15 Iron Sights for the IBZO.

I know that I have talked about this before, and I promise you I will talk about it again.

While I was in the Marine Corps we shot a qualification course of fire at the distances of 200, 300, and 500 yards.  Using the 8/3 sights of the M16A2 we used the markings on it for 300 and 500, and adjusted it 2 clicks down from 8/3 small gap for 200 yards.

When I got out of the Corps, I found much to my dismay that the carry handle sights I used would bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3 if it was a detachable sight.  Turns out they come from the factory that way.  The intent is that the small peep is used from 300+ and you would use the larger 0-2 aperture on 6/3 or 8/3 for a 200 yard zero during low light or close range shooting.

Turned out the Marines would modify the sights to allow for a 200 yard zero.  And this modification is as simple as loosening a screw.

Now to back track for a moment.  On a rifle length AR15, a fixed carry handle with the 8/3 sight will have a 1 Minute of Angle (MOA) change in impact per click of the elevation wheel.  The detachable carry handle will have an adjustment of 1/2 MOA.  On the carbine, this adjustment is about 3/4 MOA.

So from the factory, the AR rear sight will bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3.  We call this small gap.

One full turn puts you on a 800 yard zero on a fixed carry handle, and 600 on the detachable carry handle.  We call this the large gap.  That size of the gap lets you quickly identify which of those settings the sight is on.

To allow you to set the sight for a 100 or 200 yard zero, you need to allow the drum to rotate below 8/3 or 6/3.  You will need a small Allen Wrench.  I’ve found that this wrench size is not the same on all brands of carry handles.

When the rear sight peep is up and the sight is aligned on 6/3 or 8/3 , you can insert a small Allen Wrench into a screw.

DO NOT REMOVE THAT SCREW.

Just loosen it a turn or two.  This will allow you to rotate the bottom section of the elevation drum.

On a 8/3 drum, -2 clicks gives a 200 yard zero.  8/3 -3 for 100.

For the 6/3 drum, double the number of clicks.  -4 for 200, and -6 for 100.

Snug the screw back down, and double check that you have the right number of clicks.  Zero your rear sight normally and then you will be able to dial your rear sight down for a 100 yard zero.

Voiding warranties and breaking Glock parts

Previously I wrote about my new Surefire light.  I didn’t like the sharp crenelation on the bezel so I threw it in a lathe and turned them off.  I really like how it turned out.

Pretty sure I voided my warranty doing that, but very worth it.

 

Recently I had someone ask me if I had a spare Glock 19 locking block.  Of course I did.  Turns out that they had a broken locking block in their Gen 3 G19.

The owner of that Glock has realized that their trigger pin had broken.  They continued to use the pistol with the broken trigger pin for at least several thousand rounds.  When they were going to replace the broken pin, they found that the 3rd pin had bent and the locking block was broken.  The pistol functioned fine during this time.

My guess is that the broken trigger pin allowed the locking block to flex a little until it failed.  The pins and locking block were replaced and the pistol is back in action.

On that note, when reassembling a 3rd gen Glock, the slide stop goes in after the third (top) pin.  The trigger pin is the last pin installed.  Failing to do so can leave the slide stop spring in the wrong place causing it to not function or to prematurely lock the slide open.

Review – Craft Holsters LT 21/1 Appendix Carry Holster

Holsters are a very personal thing.  Most people who concealed carry will have a box or bin full of holsters because of the nature of holsters.  Most universal holsters end up being universally lousy.  So we end up getting holsters for individual guns and for various purposes.  That excellent drop leg tactical holster fits a completely different niche than a deep concealment holster for use with a suit.  Then there are all sorts of little things like how a holster may require wearing different size clothing.  Unlike for my normal rig, I had to buy a pair of pants one size larger to accommodate a 1911 in my waistband.  I’ve heard from women that there can be some issue trying to mesh good fashion and conceal carry, fortunately for me, fashion is not something I know.  In any event, it is always good to have multiple options for concealed carry.

We were contacted by Craft Holsters asking if we would like to do a review.  I hadn’t heard of Craft Holster before, so I look into them and learned that they are a distributor of several European brands.  I ended up getting from them a LT 21/1 black leather appendix carry holster for the Colt M45A1.  Craft Holsters also offered a variety of other options for the M45A1.

It took about two weeks for the holster to ship.  I received the Falco branded holster in nice plain easy to open packaging.  Right out of the package the retention was good, no fitting or stretching required.

The belt loop is mounting on a strap allowing you to tuck your shirt in over the holster.  I didn’t try doing this as I prefer to wear my shirts untucked.

Retention is very important.  It could range from awkward to disastrous if your pistol falls out of the holster unintended, yet you need to be able to quickly and easily get the weapon when it is necessary.

 

The classic test for retention is to place an unloaded pistol in the holster and shake it above a pillow.  This isn’t always a test that will accurately reflect how well the holster will hold a pistol, but it is considered the standard test.  This holster holds the pistol well and the draw is easy.  It has loosened up a little after the hundred or so draws I have done from it, but it still holds the pistol well.

Some inside the waistband holsters will collapse when the pistol is drawn, making holstering nearly impossible.  Not the case with this holster.  I found reholstering to be easy.

Appendix carry has grown in popularity recently, and there are some good arguments that it is the most superior form of concealed carry for the fighting handgun.  I don’t think I would suggest it for the pure novice as the muzzle stays near and points at parts of body we would rather not harm.  Once someone is competent and confident that they can handle a firearm doing tasks like holstering and unholstering with out shooting them selves, then appendix carry is something to look into.  Appendix carry keep the firearm in a location less likely to be touched by others in casual interaction, and provides a very fast draw even in adverse situations such as when in a grappling fight.

I believe it was Jeff Cooper that said something along the lines of, “Handguns aren’t suppose to be comfortable, they are suppose to be comforting.”  Now days we prefer to have both.  When you first wear a new holster, you are not going to be used it is, and it is likely to be uncomfortable.  This usually changes over time.  I’ve never concealed a 1911 before, so that is a fair sized chuck of steel next to my groin that I was not used to.  I found the LT 21/1 immediately comfortable when standing or laying down.  I even slept with it on.  Sitting was not so comfortable, I found my self slouching to try and get more comfortable.  This will change as I wear it more, and perhaps adjusting how far left or right it is worn.  When wearing a new holster, there is a bit of time when your body has to get used to it.  I hadn’t quite found the sweet spot.  But this is fairly common when trying out a new holster.  You need to take time to get adapted to it.

I usually find it easy to be critical of stuff I work with.  I didn’t find anything that I thought was an issue with the LT21/1 Holster.   I’d prefer for the magazine catch to be covered on a concealment holster, but adding leather there might make it harder to get a high firm grasp on the grip when drawing.  While wearing this I never had the safety swipe off or the mag catch get pressed.  So it is a non-issue.

I like this holster and would recommend it, but for me, I think I will stick to carrying my plastic wonder-nines.  But it is comforting to know that I have a good option for the 1911.

 

First Impressions – Surefire E2D Defender Ultra LED

There is a running joke between myself and a couple of friends of mine about how when you get a new flashlight, in the first few minutes of using it you end up shining it into your eyes to see how bright it is and end up regretting it.  I had this mind when I first got this light out of the package.  So I start turning it on and walking around my home to see how much it can light  up a room.  And, oh boy, it can light up a room.  Then with in the first few minutes of using the light, I manage to sweep it across a mirror right into my eyes.

I’d been looking for a new flash light to replace my old E2D Executive Defender.  I had really wanted a single cell smaller light similar to the Novatac lights I had.  I ended up picking up a new 600 lumen version of the E2D because it was on sale.  My old E2D had a KL4 head that had an output of about 100 lumens.  The first biggest difference between the new light and the older one is a massive difference in brightness.  There is just no comparing the tremendous increase in light output.

The new light on top, and my trusty old E2D on the bottom.  The newer model is a little longer.

When I saw the new pocket clip on the new light, I was pretty excited.  It has a double bend in it so you can use either side of the clip.  Unfortunately I found that this new clip has very little spring tension, and if you use it with the light end up the outside section then catches on your pocket or items in your pocket.  I ended up putting the new head on the old flash light body due to how lousy this new clip is.

Much to my dismay I found Surefire returned to the aggressive crenelations they used to use.  While I do suppose you could use these in a fight, I find they are best at cutting holes in your pockets.  I am probably going to blunt these with a file so I don’t end up having to replace all my pants.

The biggest thing is that the new light has a high 600 lumen mode, and a low 5 lumen mode.  I would really like that, except that it alternates between them.  Using this light for a week, I found that every time I went to use it, it would start on the wrong brightest.  (While it should be a 50% chance to be right, I managed to have be 100% all the time)  Every time I tried to use it in the middle of the night it started on 600 lumens, each time I tried to use it to check out machinery during the day, it would start on 5.  So it becomes an annoyance to have to toggle EVERY time I go to use it to get it into the right brightness mode.

Now if you liked to strobe a flashlight an an attempt to blind and disorientate a target, you will find this light completely useless for that.  Due to the alternating brightness setting, every other flash is far from blinding and then sometimes it will stay on the 5 lumen brightness as you attempt to strobe.

Had I paid full price for this new Surefire light I would have been rather disappointed.  But for a discounted unit, I can make it work for me.  I wouldn’t recommend it for “tactical” use due to the nature of the dual output function, but it will make for a handy every day carry utility light.

My 9mm AR

There are a couple different style of 9mm AR15s out there.  Used to be as simple as having two variations that were not interchangeable, the Colt pattern and the Olympic pattern.  Now there are other variations, but the majority have somewhat interchangeable parts with the Colt pattern.

In the Colt pattern, you are suppose to use a spacer in the buffer tube.  I finally bought a proper spacer, but previously I had been using a stack of quarters.

Proper spacer on the left, $1.25 on the right.(My old “spacer”)  Looks like the spacer is the same height as 4 quarters, and it has a section to slip into the spring.

My first 9mm AR was a Colt upper on a standard lower using a VM Hytech (sp?) Uzi mag block.  It let me used unmodifed Uzi mags, but I couldn’t use the normal AR15 magazine release.

I sold that Colt upper and picked up a 10.5 inch RRA upper.  That RRA upper had a very heavy barrel and ended up being much heavier than the Colt 16″ barreled upper.  I was not too thrilled about that.  Ended up getting rid of that some time ago.

An old picture of a messy desk and the RRA 9mm Upper.

A little while back I saw a guy selling one of the new Colt 9mm uppers that had a flat top for a good price.  I bought it and also purchased a Hahn Precision top loading mag block.

The top loading mag block allows me to use the standard bolt catch, and mag release with Colt pattern mags.  Installing the top loading mag block requires removing the bolt catch, so it isn’t very quick to install or remove.

So my 9mm AR is a Colt 6991 upper on an old SBR lower.  When using a 9mm upper you need to make sure to be using a compatible hammer in your fire control group.  I use a no-notch hammer.  Notched semi auto hammers will cause the action to lock up and make disassembly the firearm a pain in the ass.

One other change I made was to add a gas tube stub to the front sight base.  On a normal AR15, the gas tube prevents the front cap for the hand guards from rotating.  On a 9mm or .22 AR, there is no gas tube.  Some years back I got from Spikes Tactical some sort predrilled rod sections that you install like a gas tube to prevent your hand guard from rotating.  Not necessary, but a nice little little upgrade.

As shown in the picture, I have a KAC RAS quad on it, and I am running an Aimpoint PRO as the optic.  The Aimpoint PRO is an excellent lower cost option for a hard use optic.  If you shop around you can find them in the $350 range.

I don’t shoot the 9mm AR much, but it is a whole lot of fun.  It is excellent for when you are wanting to shoot steel targets at much closer ranges.

In the end, if I were to start from scratch, I would probably either just buy a factory Colt 9mm carbine or perhaps something like the SIG MPX.

The Ultimate AR15

I’ve been sorting though old photos of mine and I came across a later picture of the first AR15 I built.  Back when I decided to build it, I had decided that I would build the  ultimate AR15  One that would do everything I could possibly need it to do.

Oh boy was I naive.  Mainly about AR addiction.

Around the end of 2004, when the silly Assault Weapons Ban ended started a vast rise in the popularity and customization of the AR15.  I had been reading the AR15.com forums for a little while and decided it was time I build one.

I started with an RRA lower.  At the time they were pretty highly regarded, and it is was pretty much all I could get.  RRA tightened up the openings where the take down pins went so it was rather hard to attach or remove an upper for quite some time.  Eventually the lower wore in and is as loose as an GI gun now.

Standard GI style trigger.  We didn’t have Geissele triggers then, so there was no want for anything better.  Like most people today I didn’t care for the bump on an A2 pistol grip.  Unlike many  who were using Magpul or Tango Down grips at the time, I used an A1 grip for its slightly larger diameter combined with a Magpul winter trigger guard.  Really wanted to be ready if I had to use large gloves in Florida’s harsh winters.

This was before push button quick detach sling swivels were popular.  I don’t know if they even existed back then.  HK sling snaps were often considered the way to go.  I used CQD front and rear sling mounts.  I’m still fond of those, but I tend not to use them any more due to the much greater convenience of QD sling swivels.

I used a CAR stock on the gun.  Started with a reproduction aluminum CAR stock as I thought a metal stock would be better than plastic.  Later switched to a surplus CAR stock.  Not quite sure why, but I am still rather fond of the old CAR stock and I still use them.

Now the upper is really the heart of an AR.  At the time I decided I would go with the best, no expense spared.

So I bought a CMMG 16″ M4 upper.

CMMG was pretty highly regarded at the time.  They were being innovative, offering options many other companies didn’t, and they truly had awesome customer service.  They didn’t keep that reputation long.  A 16 inch barrel was chosen due to our laws and it still is an good compromise length for handling and velocity.  I stuck with the standard A2 flash hider.  Later AR uppers I had had Vortex, Phantom, and all many of other muzzle devices.  I tend to find unless you are mounting a muzzle break or a silencer that it isn’t worth the cost of these specialty muzzle devices.

Back then I wouldn’t have considered trying to bench rest an AR15 and shoot sub-MOA.  Wouldn’t have expected to run high power scopes, match ammo, or anything else of that sort.  I was solely familiar with the M16A2 style configuration so the whole carbine config was new to me.

I paid a little more for a chrome bolt carrier.  Chrome bolts weren’t available at the time from CMMG.  (Probably out of stock)  It can be nice to have a chromed or some other fancy finished BCG, but now days I don’t bother with the extra cost.

A Samson quad rail was chosen to free float the barrel.  One with a removable bottom rail was used so that I could easily access the barrel for cleaning, and retained the ability to mount a M203.  (Yea, I wanted a M203 back then)  The Samson rail was well made, but discontinued shortly after I got mine due to some sort of legal issues between Troy and Samson.  Their rail was good and heavy duty, and generally heavy in weight.  While it was a good product, there are so very many better choices now.

A ran a couple different rear sights.  Often I used an A1 detachable carry handle.  Sometimes a standard detachable carry handle.  Later I switched to a Troy rear sight.  The Troy is still an excellent choice.

Used my first Eotech with this rifle, a 512.  Had issues with that one draining batteries when off, and the battery contacts broke.

Wasn’t a bad configuration, but certainly far from the ultimate AR.  I still have the lower, I SBR’d it some time ago.  The upper was sold or traded off for something that would have also been sold or traded off by now.  I don’t miss it.

Thoughts on the Pistol Caliber Carbine

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of the pistol caliber carbine(PCC).  PCC’s can be a whole lot of fun, and still hold a place as a fighting weapon.  Yet these guns are in a sort of odd place.  There are some cheap ones that are hit or miss, some expensive ones that are mostly purchased for the novelty or nostalgia (UZI, MP5), and other oddball options.

Pros:

  • cheap ammo
  • low recoil
  • easy to suppress
  • higher capacity than a pistol
  • easier to shoot than a pistol
  • better sight and optics options than a pistol
 Cons:
  • more expensive than a pistol
  • not concealable like a pistol
  • rifle size and weight with out a rifles performance
  • generally more costly than a pistol

Many people and groups have moved from the SMG and PCC to carbines and Short Barreled Rifles.  Smaller rifles give better terminal ballistics and vastly increased range.

Questions you need to ask are:
  • What price are you willing to pay?
  • What caliber do you want?
  • Do you want something small, or are you will to have something rifle sized? (Barrel Length)
  • Do you want a proper stock, or is the arm brace sufficient?

There are four common configurations of PCCs.

First is a 16 inch barreled rifle with stock.  Be it a .357 level action, or a Hi-Point carbine, these rifles are purchased just like any other rifle.   This is the most common, and the most practical version of the PCC.  Easy to purchase and use.  Only real downside to a rifle sized firearm in a pistol caliber is the barrel length.  Often, pistol cartridges gain little from a 16+ inch barrel, so a standard rifle ends up being larger than what would be ideal.

Face it, a Thompson is more of a rifle than a carbine.

The second common configuration is that of a large pistol.  For example the Tec-9s or semi auto MAC-10s.  These are purchased and sold just like a pistol.   Larger examples can be found in the MP5K and Scorpion EVO 3 pistols.  These are fun, but tend to be the least useful configuration.  They are larger and heavier than a full sized pistol, and can be large enough to make them awkward to shoot.

As cool as this is, it isn’t exactly a practical pistol.

 

Now, there is a better third option.  With the advent of the various forms of arm braces, we see these large pistol firearms gain a great deal of utility with an arm brace.

These arm braces have added a great deal of utility to these huge pistols.

Fourth major option is to go with a short barreled rifle.  This is often considered the best way to go, but unlike the previous options you end up with a multitude of various downsides.  There is a long waiting time while the ATF processes your paperwork.  Then you should keep a copy of that paperwork with you(not the original).  Not to mention issues like not being able to lend it to people or limitations on traveling between states, etc.  Despite all of that, I would still recommend going this route if you intend to use a pistol caliber carbine a good bit.  16 inch barrels are rather unnecessary in pistol cartridges, and it is well worth having a functional stock.  That said, the cost and time involvement to get a SBR makes it not right for most.

I personally use a Colt 6991 9mm upper on a SBR lower.