Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

SLIP2000 FOAMING BORE CLEANER

I have always  been skeptical  about a lot of snake oil on the  market for gun related uses. Oil, grease, solvent etc.   I have seen very little of it that really does work and work as advertised.

Some  of the products I have used for years and can say that it really does work as advertised are..

  1. TM Solutions Bore Solvent
  2.  Butch;s Bore Shine
  3.  J&B Bore Paste
  4. Slip2000 EWL gun lube and CLP
  5. SLIP2000 carbon cutter
  6. Sweets762 Solvent
  7. Slip2000 gun grease
  8. Shooter’s Choice
  9. Breakthrough  Clean Solutions ( yes it really does work well)
  10.  Wipe Out Foaming Bore Cleaner

And now,  Slipp2000 FOAMING BORE CLEANER.

I been using Slip2000 oil , grease and cleaner for about 10 years now near exclusively for my own personal use when I ain’t testing something new just to review.   I trust it for using on my personal guns and long term care.      I had no idea they had came out with a foaming bore cleaner until a month ago.   I saw it at a cabellas and bought it up.

Now I have tried a lot of the foaming bore cleaners on the market and have not been impressed with any of the usual names.  The Breakfree CLP one works OK if you add using a bore brush and a few soaks and some solvent. The others are really crap.  The Wipe Out foaming bore cleaner being the exception,  It truly works as advertise.

A quick note. Foaming bore cleaner works but it can only do so much.  It works best on a a quality barrel.   Your stainless match barrels. you chrome lined AR15 barrels, modern  factory barrels.  It will not clean your pitted and rusted Mosin barrel or your  shot out ruined by corrosive ammo 1903 barrel or  any other rough as 7 miles of bad road bore.   It will work just fine on barrels that are in good shape but just dirty.

The Slip2000 FBC works.  The Slip2000 has really become a brand name I trust and after trying the foam I would almost say to you I would just about completely trust anything new they make based on its maker alone.

One of the best parts of the SLIP stuff is that is will not poison you or give you a third arm growing out of your head or  render you sterile.  I spent many years  in the 80s and 90s foolishly never caring  much about cleaning chemicals for guns and  getting gallons of CLP  and LSA and military bore cleaner all over my hands.  Not very wise. Damage is probably already done but no need for anyone to follow in my footsteps.

Now , it will work if you just spray it in let it set and patch out and follow with some oil.    That will suffice on most guns depending on what round was being used and how much.  But I still follow a soaking with my normal 20 brush strokes.    As I have said before I  count one through and one pull back to be 1 stroke.   I may even add a little solvent to the brush before I do those 20 brush strokes. Usually carbon cutter or TM solutions depending on which one is closest to me.   I then still patch out with a clean wet with solvent patch  a couple times before dry patching to finish.      You don’t have to do that.  But I do it as it is habit. And it will certainly help if you are cleaning a very dirty or fouled barrel.   Alternatively you can soak the barrel with a 2nd spray of the foam  and a quick brush if you rather do that.      Foaming cleaner is not   a miracle worker it does take time to work.   It does  save a considerable amount of time and work for most cleaning session though.  I find it cuts my cleaning time in half at the least.  Use common sense and don’t expect it to be the gun cleaning version of  the all powerful one  himself.  obama that is.

Like other foams it comes with a  hose to  get into the chamber.   Unlike others, it is a lot tougher and heavy duty and stays put.

I wouldn’t  mention this stuff if it didn’t really work for me. If you like foaming bore cleaners or you have been curious I do recommend giving the Slip 2000 one a try.  Give the entire like a try. You won’t be disappointed  If you are, I will refund you what you paid for this article and beat Duncan with a steel rod for puhishment.

 

COLT COBRA REVIEW PART 1

The Cobra arrived from Colt last week and now that it is in my hot little hands, the long promised review can start.

The Cobra came out  over a year ago and made some noise as Colt’s noteworthy return to  double action revolvers.

A lot of people who want Pythons have griped about it  because it is not the Python they have been demanding in recent years .  All I can say to that is 1)  How many of those people were buying those much desired Pythons when colt was still making them and trying to sell them?  There is a reason Colt stops making a certain model and it is not because they were selling too many of them.  2)  Just hold your horses and see how well this “test the waters”  revolver goes, and you may get what you claim you want later.

Colt  has wisely decided to not jump elbow deep into making DA wheel guns again by making the kind of revolver most people who buy and carry revolvers actually want and carry.   This may seem to not make sense to come people when the look online and see all the clamoring for the Pythons.    Well think about all the times you have  been on a web forum and seen people telling some company “Oh, if you make that, you will get all the money!”   Sometimes they even proclaim they would buy one.  In reality, they won’t.  In fact, most of them saying it won’t.   Fact is a lot of people like the idea of something being out there, even if they have no plans to every buy it.       Or it would not be exactly the way the wanted it.   The barrel would be too long, or too short, or the wrong finish, or it would be too expensive or too cheap, or it would not be tactical enough.

With that in mind I think the new Cobra is a good way to test those treacherous waters.   It does not cater to the guys who want 2,000 dollar Pythons just for collectors value, or the big bore handgun hunters. Neither of which are a majority.  It is meant for the real majority.  People who want to carry a small, compact simple revolver.  Now lets take a look at it.

The Cobra has a stainless steel finish – not a bright polished stainless, but the nice balance of satin and matte.   It has the iconic Colt cylinder release and the always present Colt  Horse  logo.   The barrel has the rest of the Company info on the right side.  If you wished you could get one in a polished mirror like finish, the good news is you can polish this finish into a mirror yourself with some elbow grease and the right compounds.  A lot of  buyers have already done this and you can see how to videos on YouTube and gun forums.   I love the look of that mirror finish polished SS but for carry…      I scratch guns up too fast and the reflection  that polished stainless gives off makes me uncomfortable  with the idea of carrying a gun so ostentatious.  Not so much for fashion, but more for I don’t want it to be so obvious.

The muzzle of the barrel has a very nice recessed crown to protect it from damage.  A very nice touch for a gun meant to be used and used seriously.

As you can see above, the front sight is a fiber optic  red/orange  that shows up well in  daylight and gathers all available light when light conditions would make a plain front sight blade hard to see.

The rear sight is the standard revolver humped  up back with notch for alignment.  Which is what you would want from a gun many will stick in a purse, a pocket, or who knows what else that would make it easy to snag a rear sight on when trying to draw. Or have on a belt, that would allow an adjustable sight to tear the lining out of shirts, jackets, or coats.

The left side of the barrel tells you what you are shooting.  The Cobra is a  .38 Special rated for +P rounds.   I know a few have said they would  rather it have been in  .357 Magnum and at first I agreed. Then I remembered how it feels to shoot a .357 in a gun that small and light and how many people with a .357 gun in this  size never really carry .357 loads in it anyway and just use  .38 Spl and  reconsidered.   The .38 Spl in a modern +P load is enough.  It allows the gun to be a bit smaller and not as expensive as well and it sure is easier on the hand for most people who carry more than they ever shoot.     It makes me wonder how well  Cobra chambered in 9mm or 45ACP would would sell though.    As I said above though, lots of people ask for all manner of odd ball things from gun makers. Usually it’s only something the person demanding it would buy.

With loading in mind, the grip are nice soft comfy Hogue rubber grips but with the Colt logo.    These feel great for shooting hot loads.  Now Colt offers the Cobra with other choices in grips. My favorite being the ones made by VZ Grips with the Colt logo made into the G10 material .

Last on our list is the inside.  Everyone knows what the inside of a DA revolver looks like. That is not what I want you to see.  I want you to see what impressed me. The total lack of tool marks or swirls and all the things usually inside of a gun’s guts hidden from the  outer world.

Other than some burnt powder crud, that is some smooth internals.   It looks like it has had attention to detail lavished on it.  This is what people talk about when they are going on about the Colt revolvers of yore.     If you are a  Colt wheel gun guy, I do not think you will be let down.

 

Now, the stock trigger of a DA revolver usually feels like trying to bend a nail to me.  I am a single action semi auto guy to the core. I will never change.    But this trigger feels good!   Easy to  keep the sights on target through the entire pull, and that is a challenge for me usually.   Hand me a gun like this and I will always opt to cock  it to single action fire  if I have a choice.  But with this one, I am seeing what draws some people to a fine DA 6 shooters.  I have dry fired it for about 1 hour every night for 7 days, and I have  learned a lot about how to quickly fire a DA revolver.    If any of you 6 shooters have any tips for me, please share in the comments.

 

That is the end of Part 1 which is usually my  thoughts on a guns looks, how it works, and the features, etc.   In Part 2, we will get it fired up, see what accuracy it has, and shoot it as far as I can manage.

Smith & Wesson M&P9, Version 1, What to Look For

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.

Advantages:

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.

S&W M&P9

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.

Barrel 

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.

Bull/Flair Barrel

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.

Dot mark at locking lug

Slide Stop

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.

Ambi Slide Lock

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.

Ambi Slide Lock

Trigger Reset

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.

M&P Trigger
Trigger Pull

Trigger Note:

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.

Apex AEK Polymer Trigger.

Sights

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.

Rear Sight
Front Sight

Conclusion:

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.

M&P9

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.

Duncan

Optic of the week – SU-231/PEQ Eotech 553

Around a decade ago it was common knowledge that Eotechs were faster to use and better than Aimpoints.  Just like how not very long before that it was common knowledge that the Earth was flat.

The Eotech sights use a laser to project a hologram of the reticle in the optical window.  This allows for a greater variety of reticle patterns then a diode sight like the Aimpoint.  Most common in Eotech sights are a 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA circle around it.  A downside to holosights are shorter battery life.  Battery life on the Eotech is advertised to be about 1000 hours.

There are other variations with additional dots to function as a drop chart.  There are also machine gun reticles.

For the life of me, I could not get the reticle to show up nicely in a picture.  Despite how it looks in the photo, the reticle is bright and easy to see.  If you focus on the reticle, you will see that it is comprised of a bunch of dots, it will appear to be fuzzy if you have the brightness cranked up.  That is just due to the nature of how it works.

Windage and Elevation is easy to adjust using a coin or similar tool.  Both adjustments have positive clicks and are easily accessible on the right side of the sight.

Brightness is adjusted using the up and down arrow buttons on the rear of the sight (there are some models where the adjustments are on the left side of the sight).  If the sight is off, hitting one of these buttons will turn on the sight.

The Eotech will automatically turn it self off it preserve battery life.  Turning it on by hitting the down button will have the Eotech turn off after 4 hours.  Hitting the up button will have it off after 8 hours.  Holding both buttons will turn the Eotech off immediately.

Some models, like this 553 have a NV button that will dim the optic for night vision use.  While you can sorta get away with using most optics with night vision by using a dim setting, that can damage nightvision over time.  NV setting reduce the brightness enough so that you will not damage your expensive night vision device.

I did some shooting with this Eotech and with a Aimpoint T-1 on the same rifle.  Shooting from the bench, or rapidly engaging multi targets off hand was quick and easy with either optic.  Both were fast and easy to use, but I would not say the Eotech was any faster or easier than the Aimpoint.  The only real noticeable difference in use was that this Eotech 553 felt much heavier on the rifle than the T-1.  Looking at the stats on them, the Eotech is about 3 times heavier.  That is an additional half pound on the rifle over the weight of the T-1.

I used to be a major fan of Eotechs.  But over the years I saw multiple Eotech Holographic Weapon Sights fail in various ways.  Battery terminals would break, I’ve seen the prism break loose.  Lenses delaminate, and reticles dimming.  The biggest issue was that many Eotechs would drain their batteries even when off.  I found that my Eotech 512 would drain the batteries even when off.  I had to store it with the batteries removed.  I felt the high failure rate of Eotech sights was damning on its own.

Turns out it gets worse.  L3 was aware of issues with their like of Eotech sights, and were covering it up.  L3 paid a settlement of 25.6 million dollars over this.  The biggest issues they were covering up were that the sight wasn’t actually parallax free and that there could be massive zero changes if the optic was exposed to temperature changes and it turns out that Eotech sights also were not as waterproof as they are suppose to be.

Despite these persistent issues, you still see fans of Eotech sights defend them online.    The most often statement in Eotech’s defense is that the Navy SEALs are using Eotech sights.  I point out that the SEALs use what they are issued, are the individuals are not purchasing these out of pocket.  They also have far more range time and funding so doing stuff like rezeroing before a mission or replacing batteries each mission is a non issue.  But even NSWC Crane had to issue a Safety of Use Message about the Eotech warning about a 4 MOA Thermal Drift problem, fading and disappearing reticles, and 4-6 MOA parallax error.  SOCOM acknowledge these sights have issues.

So if you want a known substandard sight, buy Eotech.

Review: Maglula Mag Loader

Maglula

Last Saturday I was loading some 5.45 into mags and realized I should say a few words on this product.

So, here is a quick unsolicited product endorsement.  The Maglula Mag Loader is great.  The one in the picture above I bought a good many years ago and has loaded at least 20,000 rounds.  It is especially handy when I have loaded 5.45 into C-Products AR mags as they loading them is no where near as smooth as loading .223 into an AR mag.

Operation is as simple as it gets.  Slide it on the mag, and rock the lever back and forth as you drop rounds in the front.  You can also use it to quickly unload mags by holding the mag tilted down and rocking the lever.

If you load and unload a bunch of AR mags, this really saves wear and tear on the thumbs and fingers.  I highly recommend it.

Funny story.  I lent the Lula loader in the photo above to my dad for a rifle class he was attending.  When he returned from the class, he didn’t want to return the loader.  He stated he used it a good bit, and wanted to buy me a new one due to how much he used mine.  At that point I let him know that I had used it for over 10,000 rounds of 5.45.  Wear is not an issue with this loader.  I let him buy his own.

COLT REALTREE ANACONDA .44 Rem Magnum

In 1996,  Colt came out with what is now a very rare variant of the most excellent Anaconda revolver.    The Anaconda being a larger framed ( for 44mag) version of the  Python .357 magnum  revolver.  This limited edition was made in only 1,500 examples  supposedly and was  truly a “system”.

The gun came from the factory with the 8inch barrel,  a Redfield 5 star  pistol optic. rubber grips , base and rings, with the optic and gun finished in Real Tree camo. This was a collaboration between Colt and Realtree (Bill Jordan of Georgia), with design assistance from famed Wildlife Biologist, “Mr. Whitetail” Larry Weishuun.

Beyond the revolver and optic is also came with a colt  belt buckle, Zippo  colt  Anaconda lighter, original Team Colt Realtree heavy duty canvas carry bag and matching bandoleir holster.  It was and  is a heck of a nice kit.     The gun is  rare enough to not be well known even in the gun world.   In fact I have only seen two with my own eyes counting this one.

Even in picture you can see the camo finish is very nice and rare enough for my tastes, pleasing to the eye. And I am not a fan of commercial hunting camo patterns.

While I have this rare animal we will take a look at it in some detail.

The optic is a then top of the line 5 star redfield.  At that period of time,  Redfield was a well thought of and quality maker of weapons optics.  Now the company name is owned by Leupold and  of course that speaks for itself.  But at that time they were a competitor.

The scope of course came with the Redfield flip  up scope covers.

Above you can see the 2x-7x power ring.  The variable power in that  range is very useful for a hunting pistol in my opinion.  I find it is just enough and not too much.    It is clear and as durable as every other Redfield 5 star optic I have used  from that era.

The elevation and windage adjustments are vintage Redfield style.  They did give you some one of a positive adjustment and beat the Leupold friction plate  which I detest.

You can also see the scope rings that hold the optic one.  I  have seen some of these guns with matching camo rings. But I can not offer up any reason why some are, some aren’t beyond speculation.

The base and rings are very sturdy as anything holding a scope to a 44magnum handgun would need to be.

Now moving on to the gun.    First is a very nicely recessed target crowned muzzle.

You can see from the picture that the Anaconda did have the ability to  add iron sights to it though this example did not come with them that I am aware of. I have been told that colt did sell some of the guns without the optic but with irons instead.

Of course the Anaconda has all the inner workings you would recognize from all other colt anacondas and pythons.  Parts not finished in camo are a very nice durable flat matte black. This includes the hammer, trigger, cylinder release etc.

The action of the gun is smooth as glass.  I would also assume that the action on these editions were given some hand care before leaving the factory because it certainly feels like it.

The 8 inch barrel has the roll markings on the left side. Letting you know you have a Colt realtree Anaconda.

The accuracy of the gun is everything you would want it to be.  I am no big bore handgun game hunter so I can’t give much insight into that. I do know an accurate handgun when I see it though.  I don’t need to be Taffin to come to the conclusion either.

Not feeling a need to prove how manly i am or  put up with the recoil of a 44 mag while sitting on the bench concentrating for all I am worth for hours at a time, I used  .44special handloads of a  now deceased friend who was a real genius at casting his own lead bullets for handguns.

At this time these loads are the only  .44spl loads I have access to so i can’t show any other loads. If I get my hands on some more stuff  I will update this post or make a part 2.

I fired from a bench with bags and a rest for the first three groups. And I did cock the hammer for single action firing for accuracy. I am NO wheel gun guy and my short tiny little fingers will forever be incapable of the ability to fire a double action revolver with ease.  So sue me.

 

The last 5 rounds I had, I used for 100 yards.     Since it wasn’t enough to shoot a few warm up  groups and not enough for a full 6 shots I decided to shoot the gun sitting down with  crossed sticks.  I have seen hunting shows and magazine articles of pistol hunters firing from this way in the field so I decided to reproduce it.   I am not sure what is considered a long shot for big bore handgun hunting and I am too lazy to sift through millions of hunting forum opinion posts on what is long and too long and what ranges are ethical shots.  So I apologize if 100 yards is considered a joke for you handgun hunters  or if it is beyond what many feel comfortable taking a field shot on game. I am not hunting and paper rarely complains anyway.   If you are a  HG hunter, do chime in below and I will see what I can to satisfy the testing requirements for you fellows.

Above is the final 5 rounds fired sitting from crossed sticks.    I feel pretty good about it.   My palm would have covered the group.  I suppose it is even good enough for a head shot on a whitetail deer if one was dumb enough to do it.

You see the kind of accuracy one could expect from this fine bigbore  six-shooter.   I have really enjoyed it as the 44spl loads are soft and pleasant. And accurate.

I will try to  gather up a bigger variety of ammo and shoot it at any requested distances before it has to leave my hands. So if you want to see something post your wishes in the comments.

If you want one of these masterpieces, I can’t offer up an ideas of where to get one or really how much.  A quick  search has shown the examples with all the other goodies go for between 2,500 to 2,800. Maybe one could be had cheaper but that would also mean it is in rough shape.   The owner of this model has never told me the painful amount he gave for it.  However it was a “grail gun” for him and worth the price, As long as I have known him he had talked about wanting one.  He finally found  this one at a local shop and made sure he left home with it.    If  you are happy with the gun you bought the price is always worth it no matter what is was.

 

Federal Premium Gold Medal Match 73gr Berger Open Tip Match PART 1

I have been a handloader for over 20 years now and have used Berger bullets most of that time.   The high quality match Berger line has been something shooters not in the hand loading world rarely had experience with unless a  friend who handloads gave them ammo.   Like most advancements from the world of competition and precision handloading, the berger bullets in match rounds trickled down ( or up?) into factory ammo offerings.

With that in mind, the new Federal Gold Medal match  ammo using Berger bullets has been out a while now  and I finally got my hands on enough for testing.  Of course I could have loaded up some myself  but for non handloaders, It wouldn’t have been more than a passing interest.   Now with ammo from a major manufacturer famous for it’s match ammo in hand, It is time  take a look.

 

I shot the  Federal GGM 73 grain Berger loads in my usual manner. I used a precision AR15  as this type of rifle is what this load will most likely be shot from by the most amount of users.   The gun was fired from a bench rest using front  BR rest with bag and  rear sandbags. Optic was 10X leupold tactical model. The upper is the MK12MOD1 SPR with Douglas  1/7 twist.  The Bergers being their usual profile are of the length that  it is very likely they will  NOT stabilize in your 1/9 twist.  Another in a long list of reasons why no one should bother buying rifles with 1/9 twist barrels..   Trigger was the excellent SSA.

I fired comparison groups using the Federal Gold Medal Sierra 77gr HPBT bullet ,  Hornady 75 gr TAP and my own  77 Grain Sierra handloads so the readers can judge for themselves if the price increase for the Berger loads is worth it depending on the level of accuracy and long range performance they need.   One thing to keep in my.  This is part one of the test of the Berger loads and only at 100-150 yards at that.   Before making any decision about the berger loads, keep in mind that the VLD Berger bullets come into their own at longer ranges.

Above is the 100 yard group.  I did have to make  some scope adjusting from  my normal zero that is with 77gr bullet loadings. That is a 5 shot string as I marked it and while I did expect them to shoot well, I did not expect that level of accuracy on my first 5 shot string.

Below is the next 5 round stringer fired at 150 yards.   I wouldn’t expect much difference in group size from 100-150 yards with match quality ammo and this  ammo gave me no surprises.

I next cleaned the barrel so as to start the comparison loads off with the same conditions as I did with the Berger gold medal match.  Once done, I fired the older Federal Gold Medal 77rg Sierra HPBT  match ammo.  It is still  great stuff and is in no way something to consider obsolete or to snub in my opinion. I still love it and use it and will continue to think highly of it for as long as Federal makes it.

Next up is my own personal handloads.

Last up is the 75gr HPBT Hornady TAP/Match ammo. This is the ones that come in the black box with the black coated nickel cases.  Usually it shoots at least 1 MOA for me in my various guns.   It is pretty good stuff and it used to be a little cheaper than the federal and of course cheaper than Black hills MK 262.   It’s only a 4 round string because I  had to use a couple rounds to get zeroed and had no brought enough extra.  Oops.

So far I am really liking the Federal Gold Medal  73 gr  Berger loads.    In part 2 we will see how it does at 500 and beyond.

Optic of the week: Aimpoint T-1

“It is probably the perfect optic for the AR, isn’t it.” -Shawn.

I stumbled across an old email from 2013 where I told a friend that I thought the T-1 was the king of reflex optics.  Despite there being the newer T-2 and similar optics like the Trijicon MRO, I still stick to my statement.

What makes the Aimpoint Micro T-1 great is very small size, light weight (3 oz with out mount) and long battery life of up to 5 years.  That makes a combination that is hard to beat.

There isn’t much not to like about the T-1.  Now if you wanted to start a list of complaints the first would be cost.  After that is that the stock mount is low profile so you would need to either add a riser or use an aftermarket mount if you are attaching it to an AR15.  I prefer the Larue QD mounts for the T-1 but that does add to the price of the optic.

When people talk about the massive battery life of modern optics like the Aimpoints, they are referencing the possible battery life at about three quarters maximum brightness (a normal operating brightness).  When the T-1 is set to maximum brightness, this battery life is shortened to about 10 months.  But to put it in perspective, the Trijicon MRO also has a battery life of 5 years on setting 5 of 8, but only 25 days on the brightest setting.  Many older optics and cheap optics will only run for a few days.

The T-1 is available in 2 and 4 MOA models.

I have a hard time getting the reticle to show up well when I snap photos of them.

Here is a picture of a 2 MOA T-1 with the brightness on max so the dot would show up in the picture.  This one has an IO/Tango Down cover installed, and a KAC battery cover.

This is a 4 MOA T-1 on a Larue LT660 mount.  The dots show up clearly and bright in person, I don’t know how to get them to show up in pictures well.

Adjustments are 1/2 MOA.  Adjustments require a tool, which is provided as the cap for each adjustment.  Be careful as it would be easy to lose the adjustment caps.

Flipping the cap upside down allows you to use it as the adjustment tool.  It shows you which direction you need to turn for the adjustment.

Now I would say that the only real downside to the T-1 is cost.  But if you run it co-witnessed with fixed iron sights, the small window makes it a little harder to use.  You might want to consider a larger optic if you are running it with fixed iron sights.

It is normally recommended to go with the 2 MOA models.  You can turn up the brightness if you want a larger visible dot, and it is suppose to look better if you are using a magnifier.  I have a mix of 2 MOA and older 4 MOA models, and much to my surprise when I was using them size by with with a magnifier the 4 MOA dot was crisper under magnification.

For a long time I said I never saw an Aimpoint fail, but more recently I have.  Both cases were user error.  The first was an used T-1 I purchased where the previous owner cross threaded on an aftermarket KAC battery cap.  When they attempted to remove it they put a wrench on the stuck cap and turned the brightness adjuster past its stops.  I sent the optic back to Aimpoint and while it took a while, they repaired it and sent it back at no cost.  The second case was my fault, and a really simply error.  I have a KAC battery cover, and this cover has a space so you can put a second spare battery in it.  I didn’t have the second battery under this cap, so then under recoil the battery would pop out of place and my sight shut down.  Installing a second battery (as per the aftermarket cap requires) solved this issue.

I love how small and light the T-1 is.  When used you can sort of see around it when you keep both eyes open and it takes up much less space in the view than most other reflex sights.  I’ve bought all of mine used, as they are hard to screw up and and you can save a good bit of money getting it used.  The Micro T-1 is easy to use and I highly recommend it.

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!