Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

Optic of the week: Trijicon TA01NSN ACOG

The TA01NSN ACOG is a classic at this point.  A compact fixed 4x scope with a bullet drop chart calibrated for M855 out of a carbine barrel.  People assume it is calibrated for a 14.5 inch M4 barrel, but every time Trijicon has given numbers it sounds like the Bullet Drop Chart (BDC) was based around a 16 inch barrel.

The main thing that sets the TA01NSN ACOG apart from the majority of the other models of ACOGs are the iron sights mounted on it.

The iron sights on this ACOG are more for emergency use, for example should you manage to break the ACOG, or for use in heavy rain at close distances, etc.

The front sight is adjustable for windage, the rear sight is not adjustable.  This front sight also has a vial of Tritium in it allowing it to be seen at night.  In the past, there have been people who expressed a concern about this revealing their location.  If this is a concern to you, the sight can be removed, or simply taped over.

I’ve found some of the TA01NSN ACOG iron sights to shoot massively off left or right, so you will want to check it out before you rely on them.

Older ACOGs have 1/3 MOA adjustment that requires a tool like a coin to adjust.  Newer ACOGs have a 1/2 MOA capped turret that is tool less.

The adjustment caps on the TA01NSN are not tethered.  On some other models they are.  When I was zeroing this old ACOG, the O-ring used to seal the elevation knob broke apart.  I notice this O-ring is amber, while ever other O-ring on the ACOGs I own (and on the windage) are orange leading me to believe that this was a replacement done by the previous owner.  You can see the failed amber colored O-ring in the picture above.

I have seen the adjustment cap threads cross threaded or stripped from abuse.  While ACOG scopes are tough, nothing is impervious to user error. & abuse.

ACOG adjustments can be very annoying.  First, don’t try to turn the adjustments to the extremes, that can damage the scope.  Second is that the scope adjustments can hang.  The scope is compact due to a prism and the adjustments rely on the prism moving against a spring.  This means that sometimes when you dial in an adjustment the scope prism won’t actually mode until you smack the scope or fire a couple of shots.  Normally this would be considered very unacceptable in a scope, but in this case it is considered a quirk of the compact tough ACOG.

The center of the TA01NSN crosshair is meant to be zeroed for 100 meters.  Then each hash mark represent a 19 inch width (a mans shoulder width) at the distances of 200 to 500 meters.  The very top of the bottom thicker bar is the 600m mark.

The 4x magnification aids in locating and identifying targets.  When used on a rifle with a fixed front sight base the shadow of the base will appear in the field of view.  Personally I don’t think it seems as bad as it shows in the picture, but I know it really irritates some people.

I took this opportunity to try the Elcan Specter DR in 4x mode and the TA01NSN side by side.  For speed of acquiring a target, or moving from target to target I felt they were the same.  I would say the increased eye relief of the Elcan may make it a far better choice for a .308 or other higher recoiling rifle.  But for shooting 4x on a 5.56 I didn’t feel one offered any significant advantage over the other.

A last point, the ACOG scopes have tritium illumination.  There are some newer models that use batteries.  The idea behind the tritium is to provide battery free illumination of the reticle in low light situations.  I’ve found that often when it is dark enough to use the illumination, I can’t see the target.  Since the half life of Tritium is about 12 years, some of the older ACOGs got gotten very dim.  Trijicon will relamp a scope for a price, but it will likely be more cost effective to sell an old ACOG and just buy a new one.

I really love the old TA01NSN, but now variable 1-X scopes are taking over that nitch.  While the newer 1-X power scopes tend to be larger, heavier, and far less durable than the venerable ACOG, the capability they offer are leading more people to choose that over the ACOG.  If you are primarily expecting to identify and engage man sized targets at 100-600 meters the ACOG is hard to beat.  If you need the fastest speed for up close, or precision sub-MOA shooting, look elsewhere.

Let’s See Whitworths Shoot!

In our ongoing tribute to our now deceased friend “Hognose” , owner of weaponsman.com , we repost   his best articles.  Kevin O’Brien   US Army Special Forces  Veteran passed away in April of last year.

 

 

Let’s See Whitworths Shoot!

Last month we had a couple posts on the Sharpshooters of the Civil War, and on the Confederates’ unique Whitworth rifle.

Fred Ray, who’s written an excellent book on the Rebel Sharpshooters, sold us a copy of his book (highly recommended, and it’ll be in the next review roundup), and also linked us to a few videos of modern Whitworth shooters. Fred has forgotten more about this stuff than we’ve ever learned, so you can read what he writes with confidence.

Let’s take them in the inverse order from the way Fred posted them: hardest first. Here is a guy trying to hit a target at 1,300 yards with a Whitworth.

That kind of hit was credibly reported by both Rebel and Yankee observers of the Confederate marksmen. (The English Whitworth rifle was only used by the Confederates).

One of the real problems is seeing the target. While many of the wartime Whitworths were equipped with high-tech (for 1860!) Davidson telescopic sights… …this marksman is shooting over irons. One of the real problems at that range is seeing the target. Since more of you are familiar with more modern rifles, consider that the front sight post of an M16A1 rifle subtends just enough arc to match an E-type silhouette at 175 meters.

Another fact that should be evident is the sheer power of the Whitworth. Look at that thing kick! The recoil is visibly greater than that of an ordinary rifle-musket.

Reproduction Whitworths

The class of the repro field is the long-discontinued Parker-Hale, but they are few and far between. After Parker-Hale went the way of all flesh, there was a EurArms repro which used the Parker-Hale barrels with its own lock and stock. Here, Balázs Némeththe proprietor of CapAndBall.eu has gotten his hands on one of them, and not only fires it, but provides a good run down on its unique and remarkable technology.  “The Whitworth,” he notes, “pushed the limits of aimed fire out to 1½ miles.”

Pedersoli is making a new version of the Whitworth. It is available in Europe, but not exported to North America (yet, we hope). Here is his video rundown on the Pedersoli Whitworth. The Pedersoli has hexagonal rifling, but it’s cold hammer-forged. The rifle also has much simpler sights. He did not have a hex bullet mold, so used a .451″ cylindrical round, and still got quite good accuracy at 50 and 100 meters.

The finish on the Pedersoli rifle is, like many of their premium muzzle-loaders, very good.

His enthusiasm for these rifles, so far ahead of their peers that they seemed ahead of their time, is infectious.

Finally, here’s a special treat. It’s our friend from Cap and Ball again, but here he’s firing an original Civil War vintage American target rifle, of the sort that many sharpshooters mustered in with.

If you go to the Fred Ray post that we linked way, way up there, you’ll also see another one about the Civil War buck-and-ball cartridge — the only loading we’re aware of that has its own statue at Gettysburg. But that’s another story!

 

Optic of the week: AK sights

Ok, so this week is sort of a cheat for me as these are iron sights and not an optic.

I’ve found that people unfamiliar with the AK tend to be surprised at how narrow the rear notch is.  AK sights can be quite fast to use if you are used to them, but I have seen novices struggle to line them  up.  It is not uncommon to see AK owners here in the states widen the rear notch.

The AK rear sight is adjustable for distance.

You zero by adjusting the front sight.  It is adjustable for elevation and windage.

You will need a tool to adjust AK sights.  Adjusting elevation requires rotating the front sight post.  1 full turn of the front sight post is about 8 MOA.  You could turn the front sight post with needle nose pliers, but it would be better to use a tool made for it.

Windage is adjusted by pushing the rear sight drum.  This is a friction fit in the front sight base and can be a real pain to adjust.  You might be able to get it to move with a hammer and punch, but it is preferable to use a sight pusher.  It is also not uncommon to hear about cheap sight pushing breaking on AK or SKS sights.

I use the Magna-Matic sight tool, it is the best one that I know of.  While not obvious, the top of the tool is cut to go over the front sight post for adjusting elevation.  The O design instead of a C shaped design helps prevent it from slipping off the sight or breaking while it is in use.

How much windage  adjustment you get per turn of sight pusher will depend on what thread pitch the sight pusher uses.  Rule of thumb is that it will be approximately 1 MOA per 1/10 a turn of the sight pusher.

It is very common for AK sights to be canted, and for them to require excessive windage adjustments to zero, such as this Arsenal AK pictured above.

Some AKs use the “RPK” rear sight.  This has a windage adjustment built into it.  The knob on the right side of the rear sight is spring loaded and can be pulled away from the sight and rotated to adjust windage.  I have no clue how much adjustment per click, but they are very easy to use.

There is also a rare rear sight for suppressed AKs that has a cam for switching between different ammunition.

AK have simple and effective sights, but sometimes they can be a real pain in the ass to get zeroed.

Optic of the Week: C-More Tactical Reflex Sight

C-More ARW-4.  Black aluminum body, 4 MOA dot.

Around 2003ish I learned about the C-More Tactical Reflex sight which paired a C-More Reflex Sight along with a cut down adjustable rear sight carry handle base for the AR15.  I’ve wanted one since then.  Back in 2017 I learned they were discontinued, so I found a used one and purchased it.  I fully expected to have it for two weeks before deciding that I didn’t like it, just to turn around and sell it.  Instead I really love it.

The C-More sights never seemed to gain much ground in the tactical market as they were seen as fragile and unreliable.  Yet they were very common place, and still used a good bit on the competition side of things.

First thing of note with the C-More sight is that there are a huge number of variations of them.  The body can be plastic or aluminum.  It can be a rail mount, slide mount (for pistols) or a bridge mount (for pistols).  The sight can be purchased in different colors, Black, Grey, Red, Blue, and Green.  Also you can change the dot size by replacing a module giving you the choices of 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 MOA dots.  Then there are also differences in the battery compartment and, the intensity switch between models.

I think the C-More is popular in the competition market for several reasons.  Being able to choose a dot size that works best for you(E.G. larger dot for use on a pistol) is a major plus.  Some of the C-More models are rather inexpensive, down to about $240 list price right now.  Also being able to get them in a color that matches your competition gun doesn’t hurt.

Now I don’t know for sure why the C-More Reflex Sight never really caught on in the tactical community.  From what I’ve read it sounds like early on the Army and some individuals tried the polymer C-More and decided it was not durable enough for combat.  I believe this was also done back in a time before reflex sights had become mainstream for combat weapons, and they were still rather untrusted.  In any event, the C-More seemed to have found its home primarily in the competition environment.

For me, my C-More sight found a home on a Colt 6933 upper.

This C-More model gives me a standard rear sight.  If I wanted to I could remove the optic from this base and attach it to a rail mount base.

The Iron Sights provide a lower 1/3 co-witness.

Looking over the sights give an awesome sight picture with a crisp red dot in a thin circle.

Brightness is adjusted by a knob behind the emitter.  On this model the brightness knob has distinct clicks and the first couple of settings are for night vision.  On many C-More models this is just a click-less rheostat.

The battery compartment is in front of the emitter.  On this model there are 2 non-captive thumbscrews holding the top plate on.  Other C-More models use Allen screws.  I don’t think these screws would come loose on their own, but if they did they would be easy to lose.

Windage and Elevation adjustments each have a locking screw.  Neither adjustment has clicks, so you just turn the screw the amount you hope is right, lock it down, test fire, then adjust again.  While click less adjustments are sometimes heralded as superior due to the ability to make smaller adjustments than a set click value, but in reality it tends to just make the zeroing procedure guesswork.

When I came up with the idea of doing the optic of the week posts, I planned to do side my side speed and handling comparisons of the various optics.  For example, in years past it used to be considered common knowledge that the Eotech was “faster” than the Aimpoint.  I believed this for a while and that is why I started with Eotech.  Finally the multiple personal Eotech failures drove me to Aimpoint.  Now when I try these various optics side by side, I don’t notice a measurable speed difference, they all just work (with a few notable exceptions).

I really love this sight, but in the end I do not recommend it.  It has been discontinued, so that makes it hard to recommend in the first place.  Now days we have newer and smaller optics that have proven to be very durable and have much longer battery life(such as the Aimpoints) that render this old design obsolete.  The open design of the C-More allows the chance of dirt or debris to block the emitter.  In the past the light from the emitters of reflex sights were often considered a major deal breaker as it might compromise your location to the enemy.  Over time the massive force multiplier that optics function is considered to well offset the risk of your location being revealed to the enemy by the sight.  I find the C-More red emitter and glare from the lens is very visible from in front of the optic.  It seems more so than newer alternatives.  I tried to get some pictures of this but I was unable to get it to show up well.

I think the C-More is a really nice sight, but it has been eclipsed by newer, better options.

Vintage Marbles Cleaning Kit

Gather around children and I will show you something from a world long past.  During it’s day it was one of the best of it’s type.   Sold in a metal container that had a place for all its items.   A place for everything and everything in it’s place . It was made in a time when things were meant to last and look good. To give you a little pride of ownership.

I am a known fancier of vintage  target gun,. gun  and shooting accessories and various  related  paraphernalia.  One of those items that falls within my interest is the older vintage cleaning tools.  In particular the Marbles brand cleaning kits.   Anytime I get a chance to  buy one I will.    They are a treasure in my opinion.  They are well made  and I love the tin they rod and various items it contains.   They  were considered pretty highly in the day and the USMC even provided a Marbles cleaning rod as  the cleaning kit with m40/M40A1 rifles for a time.   So lets have a look.

Getting a complete kit in good shape with all or most of its accessories is already hard enough.  getting one with the cardboard outer wrap is almost a miracle.  Luckily a miracle happened for me.

Below is a picture of the kit with the outer wrap as it would have been sold.

 

Taking out out of the slip cover you see the  tin  that holds the rod and other parts.

For something that was made to be sold in general stores or sears and gun stores, the metal box is impressive.  There is  no  way something like it would even be sold as a mass market item now a days.  Maybe a reissue to cash in on an anniversary maybe, but  that is it.

Opening it up and first thing you see is another miracle.  Maybe one even bigger than the slip case.  The little paper sheet giving a few tips about the kit , why it does not come with brushes and how to apply the gun bluing on the back side.

As you can see , the kit contains  a rod that will work on 22 caliber rifles up to 10 ga shotguns.  It has a clever rotating tip that allows the brush and patches to follow the lands and grooves.  You can see the  adapter for shotgun brushes and mops and as well as a loop jag. The rod itself is  a sectional rod.  Not idea for cleaning a rifle bore especially if it is a precision barrel. As I have mentioned before a sectional rod will  wear the  bore and scratch it at the sectioned breaks.  The gap between each section will also retain small particles or dirt, sand  or other things that will scratch the bore as you move it  to the muzzle and back to the chamber.  It is  best to use a coated single, solid rod with a bore guide.   But back then, few people knew or cared about such things and others likely couldn’t afford or find a solid rod.     All that aside, the Marbles rod is well made . It has an attractive wooden handle  pinned to the rod that is sturdy enough.  As I said above the end of the road that the brush or jag attaches to  rotates easily and freely to allow brushes and patches to follow the groves of the bore.

To the upper right you can see the Marbles brand oil and bottle. Something  very hard to find.  The oil is advertised as an all purpose type and it smells like no other weapon lube I have  encountered.

To the left is the small bottle of blueing . I have a few other Marbles kits that are not complete, but the all did come with a bottle of the blueing.   Out of curiosity I have tried it on  some of my training guns with worn finish and to my surprise it does work and it works great.  It was pretty impressive how well it worked to me.   It is way more effective and better looking than anything you can buy  now.

Beside the blue in the tin you can see the box of cotton flannel Marbles cleaning patches.   The box is still full with the original patches.

The box has the Marbles logo and artwork. Clearly from  a time when companies had more pride in the art design of their products.

To give an idea just how old this stuff is,  take a look at the printing on something as small as this box.

The inside lid of the tin has various tips and info.  It looks very well done.  Also of course it has the company logo and info about various things.  For those new to guns and maybe buying their first cleaning kit,  it gives instructions on how to clean the bore of  your rifle or shotgun, pistol etc.  Not my preferred method but..    It also has  tips for cold and hot weather.

The lid folds down and secures nicely.  It makes a nice compact  little rig.

One of the trickest parts of the kit is the insert inside of the tin box. It can be removed if you want  to do away with it.   If you do remove the fitted insert you could store considerable more items in the box if you need to.     Leaving it  in place gives you a fitted insert with  sections made exactly for each cleaning item and secure them with metal tabs made as part of the insert.   They are strong and sturdy and with a little effort can be squeezed to hold tightly against the various parts.  It holds it all secure and keeps the rod etc from rolling around inside it or coming loose when moving it around.

 

These old vintage  cleaning kits are real beauties from a time long past.  It may be silly to use the word craftsmanship for a mass market item but I can not help but use it.   It is well made and clearly was meant to be something that you used for many years once you bought it.  Not  use once and toss away  chinese made walmart junk  you will see in modern times from the likes of Hoppes and outers.

A nice relic from  days gone by.

 

 

Optic of the Week: Elcan Specter DR

I was going to review the Glenfield 4×15 scope.

But when I went to remove the cap on the elevation adjustment, the whole set of adjusters broke right off the old scope.  Guess that means I don’t have to say that I could see better with out this old cheap scope than with it.

So, I guess I’ll have to review some other scope, something less interesting.

The first thing people tend to notice about the Elcan Specter DR is the price tag.  With a MSRP a little over $2200 it puts well above the cost of the majority of carbine optics.  What isn’t as obvious until you pick it up is that is fairly heavy.  That said, nothing else offers quite the same capability.

The main draw to the Elcan Specter DR is the ability to quickly switch between 1x and 4x with the throw a of a lever.

It is very easy and quick to flip between the two settings.  A spring pushes the lever up and holds it in place.

Zeroing is easy, adjustments are in 1/2 MOA.  A coin or screw driver can be used to adjust the windage screw on the left front of the scope, elevation is adjusted via a dial that has a lock on it.

 The lock on the elevation wheel slides up and down to allow for adjusting elevation.

Glass clarity and brightness are excellent.  Raytheon Elcan uses great glass in these optics.  While the eye relief is longer than an ACOG, it is still rather unforgiving like an ACOG.

There is a combination reticle, 1-600 has hash marks for either 5.56 or 7.62 depending on the model.  700-1000 marked for use on squad automatic weapons.  On the civilian and military models the reticles differ slightly as the civilian models add circles in the 700-1000 markings.  The civilian Elcan Specter DR is also a different color tan than the military model.  The calibration is only accurate on 4x.

Using the scope at 1x with the red dot illumination it feels very much like using a reflex sight.  But if you move your head away from the sweet spot, it becomes very apparent you are not using a reflex sight.  Yet it is still quite usable with out ideal head positioning.  Keeping the optic on target during rapid fire is easy in both 1x and 4x.  The added weight of the optic even helps reduce recoil slightly.

It even comes with emergency sights for use in case the optic is damaged or heavy rain.

I found at 25 yards the iron sights hit on for elevation, but about 4 inches left.  I don’t know if they are adjustable for windage or not.  It looks like the front sight might be adjustable.

The reticle can also be illuminated, I found this illumination option photographed poorly doing the day, so I put my hand over the object lens so it would show up in the photo.

So many awesome features are stuffed in the Specter DR.  I owned a Gen 2 Military Model in the past, and got rid of it over 2 reasons.  First were the built in ARMS throw lever mount, the second the Elcan base.

In the past I’ve seen the levers on ARMS mounts break, and have had multiple issues with ARMS mounts not fitting on various firearms.  The first ARMS scope rings I had would either be too loose or so tight they couldn’t be mounted on my various firearms.  When I asked about this, I was told that my firearms were out of spec.  So I asked if my Armalite, Bushmaster, CMMG, Colt, Daniel Defense, S&W, and etc stuff was all out of spec.  Now this was some years ago, and I had this issue with several different ARMS mounts including the Elcan Specter DR I owned.  Now I own a set of ARMS rings that work fine on multiple brands of uppers, and I tried this Elcan Specter DR on multiple brands of rail (including some Russian stuff) and it has worked fine.  While ARMS thrower levers would not be my first choice, I could settle for them now.

I really don’t like the external adjustments on the Elcan.  It relies on a spring to take up all the slack.  I worry that grit or debris could get in the external adjustments throwing off your zero.

This is a really cool optic with a couple of built in weaknesses.  Price, weight, ARMS mounts, and external adjustments are what I could say are the downsides.  It is up to you if the capability of the Specter DR are worth it to you, but I’d bet the majority of people do not be using their carbines in a way that would get them their monies worth from the Specter DR.

Inland MFG M1A1 Paratrooper Carbine

Today we have another product from the company with the historic name in firearms history.   I have reviewed 2 of their growing M1 family of rifles in the past two years  and so far they gave all been great.

The prize for me was getting a sample of the paratrooper carbine. Man, who doesn’t want to play with such an iconic gun from WWII? I never saw a real one in the 80s or 90s.   But we all sure saw them in Saving Pvt Ryan and Band of Brothers.  In fact we all saw them so much the price for one went  up to roughly the amount spent on the Manhattan project.     Getting a real one was pretty tough even though the stocks could be bought and put on a standard model.

Then we started to see  remakes come out on the market over the last few years.  And in my opinion the rest of them are crap.  I have played around with the ones made by the other makers and rthey are dreadful.  I passed up  a auto ord. example  it was so crummy.

But the Inland model is another matter.  After the M1 and the experience with it, I was pretty sure the paratrooper would be in the same league.  And., it was.

The gun has the same rear sight as the  other Inland models.  The adjustable type that some dislike because its not the simple rear fixed peep but I love it.   I appreciate some adjustment on any rifle I expect to want to shoot past 50 yards.  And contrary to  the videos of some worthies, they do stay put.   I fired 500 rounds through this gun and it stayed put.  On top of that I tossed it in the back of a truck bed and drove around on the top of a mountain off trail for 6 hours.  That is pretty rough on stuff but it was still tight as a mouses  ear.

The controls on the gun are the same as the other models with the push button safety and the button mag release that sometimes I hit by mistake.  A common mistake it seems.

Now the stock. It is  a metal wire stock with a leather “cheek piece” for some kind of comfort.

It doesn’t offer up much though. But it is not mean to be a McMililan fully adjustable target stock. It’s meant to be a light folding stock for  guys dropping behind lines with  twice their weight in gear to fight for a hand full of days.    It works just fine for that.

I was a little surprised  how the felt recoil of the 30 carbine was increased with the weight of the full wood stock gone.   Now it wasn’t painful or anything close to that, but you do notice it when shooting the  two models  nearly back to back like I have been doing this past year.

To fold the stock..  well, you just fold it.  It does not lock in place and require the pressing of a button . It hinges open , clicks and  is held open via spring. When you want to fold it, just fold it.   It lays down the left side of the gun and still allows the gun to be fired.  The butt plate can rotate to the side I assume to let the gun lie more flat in its case? I really have no idea why it was made to let the butt plate rotate to the side. it doesn’t lock or lock to anything and it doesn’t function as the mechanism that you use to unlock the stock to fold or unfold it.  I guess some one decided to make it that way for a reason that seemed good at the time. Maybe Dan will comment below and offer up and explanation.

The”pistol grip” is a little short for my hand and blocky.  But I would want it that way for a gun I would be jumping out of a plane with.  It needs to be thick, chunky and tough.  It is.   It also  has at the bottom the  rear sling mounting point which is a tough metal part that is part of the folding stock assembly.

Now, how did it shoot? Great.  Even with the stock not locking and place  and allowing some wiggle.

I couldn’t find as large selection of .30carbine ammo to test as I would have liked.    I even resorted to some ammo from the 70s to have enough to offer a variety.  There are some very high dollar high quality specialty  duty loads for the .30carbine out there you can find.  The bottom group in fact was shot using the federal police duty load.

I fired all groups from a bench and bags at 50 yards using the iron sights.  I feel this is a reasonable test of its accuracy  to shoot groups  because the size of the peep is not great for my eyes.  Not to mention using 3/4 inch sized dots as aiming points get hard to see through iron sights at much distance and eye strain starts fast.

I did shoot the  carbine at 100 yards for  group using iron sights.   It took an hour to put this group on target but it was worth the extra effort.   The armscor brand ball ammo shooting great.  It was my favorite ammo to use in the M1s over the last years.   You can see that is well within head shot sized

Like the other M1s, I fired out to 200 and 300 yards on steel man’s chest sized targets and hit without issue.   That is perfectly doable with the M1 if you are  a competent shot .

Not much to say about weather testing this one since it just this week got cold enough for me to treat it like I did the last two and my time with it is up. I did leave it out all night last night in snow and 7 degree temps.   I walked outside , chambered a round and fired it.  What a shock!  It penetrate a cinderblock!  How could that be when  “experts” on older weapons say that it just can’t happen! ?     Must have been a one off fluke.

The next day I made this little test . I soaked the gun in a frozen creek for a few hours in 8 degree temp.

 

 

 

The gun is reliable accurate and looks great.  It is the solution if you want a nice example  that you can shoot without the guilt of a real one being further worn.  I think if I  was a real but about WWII airborne units and their gear it would be a must have for me.  If you buy your own, you can pretend to be in 101st or 82nd or 17th airborne shooting up the krauts. Or if you really did those things, it would maybe be nice to have your old friend in your hands again if you carried and liked the  weapon.  Some say they hated it. But the M1 carbine was much loved by Audie Murphy.

I certainly enjoyed taking some mood and glamour shots with WW2 items.

 

 

The Inland MFG Custom Carry M1911

I been waiting on this gun for a while.   After testing the Inland USGI clone M1911A1 I had  been impressed.  I had seen this model in media release material and after the performance of the stock Inland I was  really curious to see how an Inland done up as a fully modern pistol would do.

I have had this gun for nearly 6 months as I write this. I kept it and waited so long to write about it because I wanted to really be hard on it.   It is more expensive than the 1911s I usually write about.  If you have been reading this website a long time you will know that I even don’t normally go for 1911s that  start going over the 1500 dollar mark.    My philosophy with the 1911 is  less than about 800 or more than about 1600 and as a rule,  a lot of 1911s will give you one set of problems or another.   Too cheap speaks for itself.  Too high and you get into finely tuned special purpose guns that can’t take WW1 trench conditions  no matter what the maker may claim.  With a few exceptions of course.  Heirloom precision, Derr precisions,  guns that are mil spec but have something else about them that drives the price up like coatings,  engraving or rarity.   Now you may not agree with me at all and I am sure many will  but I have been using the 1911 for 30 years now and in my personal experience, 1911s that cost over 1600 dollars and are made by medium sized companies that make “custom production” 1911s , usually will give problems.   Bigger established firms can make ones that work fine and the small  artists like Jason Burton does but the in between places I pass on.    That is one man’s opinion  from experience only.

Now the Inland gun is one of those made in the middle ground  I just mentioned.  And, being  in the “custom production ” class  that sets off my 2nd warning flag.   After spending a fortune on ammo, I can say to you it’s good to go.  It  is as good as the M1911A1 USGI clone with match accuracy.

So lets get to it.

The gun is what it says and  with all the features that implies.  As seen above the frontstrap is checkered with aggressive well done checkering.  That bad camera angle makes it look uneven for some reason but its not.

main spring housing  has matching checkering and is flat and not arched.  The grip safety is the upswept beaver tail with the memory bump to insure you depress it.

You can see the single side extended safety.   I really like the part as it is close to the safety that is my personal favorite.   Just to see what would happen, I removed it and tried 5 different colt and USGI  safety locks and all dropped in place.   That is a good sign in my opinion.  I like my 1911s to  meet or approach the milspec requirement to have interchangeable parts.

The magazine well has a very slight bevel.  That is one thing I did wonder about. I am not a big fan of extended beveled wells but a to of people are.  If you buy this gun you will have to add your own.

You can see  the other features of the gun.   Competition style skeleton hammer, Match trigger that really does break like a glass road and is  lighter than my own guns. Front and rear slide serrations which I love and prefer on guns like this.  A full carry dehorning and no slip grips.  The one bad thing was it came with a full length guide rod which isn’t too bad but it was the two piece part.   I asked why it had the full length guide rod and was told the first guns didn’t and so many people complain wanting it that Inland added it to appease the complainers. That baffles me because I was under the impression it had finally fallen out of the fad but apparently there are still a lot of people that like it for its looks or because they think a custom  or competition pistol is “supposed” to have it..     I replaced the guide rod with a personally owned  GI  part after my first session shooting it.   I fired 15 wilson 10 round mags through it non stop  with no oil to see how it did and at the end noticed the two piece rod  had unscrewed itself.   Don’t use two piece full guide rods people. Barrel is the same match barrel used in the USGI model and is fitted to match spec without being over  tight.   Lastly you can see the standard ejection port work common to all modern carry guns.

Rear sight  is black novak style with a wide notch.

Front is matching flat black wider  blade.  These sights work great for me   and are fast to use.  Both can be drifted out with a punch if you want something else.   I would leave them be myself.

Now on to  how it shot.     I fired all but the last group from  sandbagged position from a bench.  Temp outside was 11 degrees.

As usual the speer ball ammo  is pretty lackluster no matter what its used in.  But I include it because it is common around here  and a lot of people buy it for plinking.

Above is the Winchester personal defense load that is basically the black talon bullet not coated black and sold every where.  It always does well  for me  and this gun was no different .

Here above we have the other NOT -black talon,  but the “ranger T”  which is a black talon +P load  in the winchester ranger police duty load. And of course for those who don’t know it is once again the black talon bullet just not black.

Best group fired with my handloaded Hornady 185 grain jacketed semi wad cutter match bullet.

Above is the most expensive group fired.   This is my carry load of  corbon 185 grain +P   solid copper hollow points.   Very accurate and effective.  I can’t recommend this load or the Barnes  version of it enough. You can also buy the same load marketed under the Colt Brand ammo I  and a various other specialty brands.

Below  is a group fired with my personal  favorite ball round, the winchester 230 FMJ which always seems a bit more accurate than other bulk buy  ball ammo for general use.

 

Lastly  we have the 100 yard long  range shot  by request.  As I mentioned before, the long range shooting  was requested by reader who was also a fellow visitor to Weaponsman’s blog who wanted to see some one  give  users an idea of what carry guns could do if  ever  the need  became a requirement  in a self defense situation or other emergency.   It instantly became a new standard policy for me to test such things.  It is something you should think about and try to test the limits of your own carry guns  and ability because it is something that very well could save your life or stop some kook like we have seen recently.

Group was fired at 100 yards. I did not use a full sand bag bench rest but I did use a support like one would use in real life.    Center of circle was  aiming point.    I used my most accurate load as a bit of a cheat and not a pure self defense or duty load.  Ideally people carrying  would  select the most accurate duty load they can regardless of intended distance they expect to shoot.   I think I can’t ask much more out of the Inland Custom carry.

 

The Inland is a 1911 I would own and use.  And you know how picky I am about my 1911s and who makes them.   Word from Inland is, some even bigger and better things are coming in their 1911s. I look forward to what is coming, I would like to tell you now but these things are not always something they are ready to share publicly without asking permission first.   But I am excited from what I hear.

The custom carry is a solid carry gun that is also competition ready.  The rep who sent it to me had been using this same model for matches for several months before I requested a sample.  You can use it for about anything you would want, I really don’t know what more to say about it. It worked. No excitement. It was as reliable as a claw hammer.    Buy with confidence .  not only can it do all those things well it can also protect  you from those damn dirty apes.

 

If you want more out of my pistol reviews please speak up.  I know reading pistol reviews can get dull  and they are the same over time.  It sometimes feels writing them is  as semi boring as reading them.  I am always looking for ideas of how to spice it up.    If you want more  video or mud tests or  further ranges shot comment below.  Tell me what you would like to see.    Nothing  pointless but anything you want to see that would help you decide if a gun is right for you or what would test its limits  please speak up.

Winchester Model 1897 Riot

I have always loved the Model97.  Just it’s look is iconic.  I doubt any one has made it to adulthood as a gun enthusiast and not seen pictures of Marines in the Pacific, GIs in Vietnam or even some Doughboy in the trenches with a M97.    That isn’t counting all the police units who have used it over the years.   And even in the hands of lowly  Joey Shmoe in the woods and fields for hunting,

The M97 is another  masterpiece from the Master , John M Browning himself.  A more refined and beefed up version of the earlier M1893.  It’s production running from  1897 , Natch, to 1957 with over 1 million made by USRAC, AKA Winchester.  It came in a variety of barrel lengths and in take down and non take down models but offered only in 12 and 16gauge.    On top of that we have seen clones from varies over seas makers since then.

The shotgun is like most in that it feeds from the bottom into the magazine tube and the “pump” is used to cycle the ammo with empties ejecting from the right hand side ejection port.  It does however have an external hammer and a slide does travel reward outside of the action while cocking the external hammer.     If you are not familiar with this, care has to be taken with your grip or you may end up  getting a little love bite from the gun.     Capacity is 5 rounds in the magazine plus  1 in the chamber of an un plugged gun.

The M97 also lacks a disconnector  for the trigger.  Yes that means that as long as you hold the trigger to the rear, and work the action the gun will fire as soon as the action closes and achieves lock up.   The gun can be fired very quickly this way and it is a big thing for guys now a days to want this.  It’s usefulness is arguable though and  in less experienced hands it can be dangerous for the careless.   But then again, what isn’t dangerous when in the hands of the careless? Oh, and the safety is the trigger at half cock.

The saw action in all those ways I mentioned above, and more.  It has certainly qualified as being in any gun hall of fame.    I’m not going to go into its vast detailed history here since everyone and his mother in law has a website somewhere talking about it.   I am going to show how mine shoots.

I fired some 00 bucks and  rifled slugs through the gun only.   My number 4 buck and various other shotgun loads are all 3 inch shells and the old ’97 is a 2-3/4 shell only affair.    Hopefully I will round up some more variety later and edit it into this  and repost  in the near future.

Having an open choke.  I kept it to normal shotgun ranges.   I did intend to fire slugs out to 100 but  there is only so much  the old shoulder can take  from a hard buttplate.

First picture below is  one round of 00 buck at 20 yards.  I fired this at the head of  the target and all but one pellet stayed on the “head” zone.

Above is one round of 00 from 25 yards.    Well within what I would want it to do.    I have noticed though that the federal “military ”  00 buck   full brass buck does not shoot as tight as the  federal low recoil low brass  00 buck load the local police use.   I did not have it on hand today , but in the past the low recoil load shoots excellent in every shotgun I have  used it in.   For a look at that  check out my review of the Inland/Ithaca  trench gun review from last year.  If you are too lazy to do that here is a target fired with the excellent federal low recoil 00 loads  from the other shotgun.   This is pretty standard performance in all shotguns when using this ammo in my experience. It shoots nearly identical in the m97.  The patter in the orange stick is from the shotgun.

You can see how well the low brass/low recoil load shoots even at distances I would  never actually risk shooting at some one with if I were a cop in a urban environment.   I wish I had  some  for this test by I had grabbed the wrong loads before I left sad to say.

Next up was the federal  rifled slug  load.

Above you can see my 3 shot group from 40 yards, off hand.   I really surprised myself because I hate and dread shooting slugs.  I hate shooting them and if I had some other sucker with me I would have made them shoot the slugs as I am wont to do.   The hole that looks like another slug hole is from  the wadding from an earlier shot.   The top left  hole that seems to be a flyer was  a slug I fired from 75 yards as I was finishing up.  I aimed a little higher and since I was off hand and hate firing  12ga slugs , I wasn’t able to  put it into the group from 40 yards.  But I will take it!   I also  fired two  last slugs at the  “head” from  50 yards and was able to keep them nice and tight. This was from a supported position.

The gun is pretty old but it is still very capable  in these modern  times.   It is fast to the shoulder, handles terrific and the action is slick and fast.

Beyond all that is just the plain cool factor. It is a classic and has been something I wanted  for many years.   Mainly since I saw William Holden and his pals wasting people in The Wild Bunch.   A film that obviously has spawned the wild bunch matches in cowboy action shooting.  Those matches have done more than anything to drive up the prices of models and make them harder to find.    Shooters of those matches quickly scoop up any original riot/trench model they can find as well as  longer barreled models for conversion.  Even the Norinco 97 copy  has  become a collectors item more or less.   Even made in China it  is fine gun  if you do run across one  by the way.  Do not hesitate to buy one if you find it and wonder.

The Model 97 Winchester is one of my favorite guns and when I see it and use it I always think of The Wild Bunch.  In fact the two are so intertwined in my mind I sought out the display  at the NRS museum  while in D.C. a few years ago  and took a picture.   The display model is the  gun used by Holden in the film.

 

 

 

The Atlas Flush Cup 3.35″ 1913 Rail

For years I had been using a Harris bipod mounted to one of the two factory swivel studs on the free floating handgaurd/tube that is standard on the colt HBAR Elite.   It worked out fine and I really have no complaints.  But  like everyone else these days, all my more higher end rifle accessories are meant to easily  interface with the 1913 rail.    After getting an ATLAS bipod that uses a QD lever mount last year I  kinda wished it was more like the harris,  By that I mean, it came  in a configuration that let it mount to the stud and with an additional part, mount to 1913 rail.

After getting a second ATLAS bipod , my desire to use it on the HBAR Elite just grew stronger.   At the urging of my Dad I started to look for something that would allow it.

I ran across the subject of this post.  The ATLAS bipod mount and ordered it.

The Atlas Flush Cup 3.35″ 1913 Rail will accommodate hole patterns with a center to center spacing of 1.76 – 2.78″ with a relieved base to accommodate curved surfaces. A standard sling stud and sling stud spacer can be used as one fastener or two button head machine screws can be used. NO HARDWARE IS INCLUDED (see P/N 640382) to attach this rail to the forearm of standard rifle stocks. The Atlas Flush Cup 1913 Rail can also be attached to a horizontal surface on the butt section to attach their BT12 or BT13 Precision Rail Monopods. This rail also has a flush cup for that style of sling swivels.

This short section of rail can be ordered curved to fit  the tube, or to fit a more flat traditional forearm.

You simply remove the two factory studs and replace with the longer allen bolts in place.   These two bolts do not come with the part and must be bought separate.  The hole spacing  is pretty common for most factory guns so it shouldn’t be a issue.   You can see that you have some room for adjustment on the part itself.

It also comes  with a flush cup sling swivel hole.  I have come to prefer using the flush cup QD sling swivels  myself.

The part is very well made as you would expect from Atlas.  After installing it and using it I wished I had known about it sooner.  I would have bought and used this part even without the Atlas bipod.  I like the flexibility that comes with a section of rail. This would have let me move my Harris bipods around faster from gun to gun since I already had a picatinny adapter installed on them and had to remove it to use on this rifle.   On top of that It would have allowed me to use my preferred method of sling swivel.   Obviously since it is a 1913 rail, you can use it to mount anything else you may want,  Like a light or laser depending on your needs or position of mounting.

 

Since I ordered it to be able to use one of my Atlas bipods, that’s what I its used for.   The two mate together perfectly  naturally, is a solid high quality piece of  gear and it just looks nice and tidy.

I am really, really happy with this.  In fact the more I have messed around with it, the more I like it.    My only regret is I did not find out about this part and buy one sooner.

I can give this my highest recommendation.  If you have a precision bolt action rifle or anything that you want to upgrade the front or rear mounting point this is a great choice.   Even better  it was only 19.95.