Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Colt Accurized Rifle HBAR ELITE CR6724

Today we are going to take a look at an AR15 made by colt that  is one of the best keep secrets in the gun world.   It’s really a shame that it’s not more well know because it is an excellent precision rifle.

If you didn’t know by the image above, this is the Colt Accurized Rifle.  Also known as the the CARA3 HBAR Elite  according to its roll mark and  Model CR6724 for everyone who works at  Colt or those of us who are obsessive enough to refer to Colts by their internal model numbers.

This may very well be the first time a lot of people will have heard of this model but the fact is, Colt has been making it since around 1997 give or take a year.  I first saw it in that years firearms catalog which I had received via the mail same as I did every year.   On it was a 10x mildot Colt brand target/tactical optic. The optic itself was from a partnership with C-more sights and that year several other Colt/C-more branded optical sights  made their debut to many of us.  The 10X colt/C-more is pictured below. The optic did not come with the rifle but the rifle did come with a B-square mount that properly attached to a picatinny rail and had the correct height  for an AR15.

I don’t own one of these optics and never got to try one but all accounts I have heard of the optic have rated it first class.  Now a days a fixed 10x would not find much favor I’m sure.

At the time, the 6724 was pushed as a factory out of the box rifle ready to go for high power.  It longer barrel perfect for attaching some of the front sights used in the national matches, and the flat top upper  to house a rear finely adjustable rear sight.  If you browse picture from back in the day, you will see a lot of rifles that look almost identical to the 6724 being used  with various sighting systems.    Of  course the ad copy also stated the rifle would make a great varminting or target rifle.  That was certainly a fact.

The barrel is a 24 inch  match stainless steel HBAR ( heavy barrel) that is a larger diameter  under the free float aluminum handgaurd tube. Along with the standard milspec testing colt does, the barrel has a 1/9 twist.  Now, this seems unfortunate now, but at the time all the mfgs making commercial ARs  really wanted to push the 1/9 twist. Bushmaster,stated in their literature selling their junk, that the 1/9 twist was superior and the 1/7 wore barrels out too fast and that it wasn’t as accurate. .. Yea…  we see how that turned out.    But that claim did take some kinda of hold obviously as we all still see cheaper guns usually almost always using the 1/9 twist.  The topic is a long  post on it’s own so i will move on.    As the 1/9 was popular among many at the time and used in high power, colt  opted to make the barrels in 1/9.  The extremely long bullets we have no didn’t really exist as well known options back then or I am sure the gun would have come with a 1/7 twist.

Now, if you are thinking that you would like to have one of these guns but would change the barrel out, hold on a second.  Over the years, ,many people have bought one of these rifles and tried 77 grain bullets in it just to see what would happen and found that it shot the 77s perfectly.  What they had no real way of knowing, and what I only found out about 10 years ago myself  from Colt employee is that the barrels are actually closer to 1/8.5 inch twist with the exact twist being a little on the  faster side.  That kind of barrel marking would have been gibberish to most buyers at the time.  Probably even now.  And it would be a lot easier and less of a headache to just stamp it 1/9.   Why they decided to split the difference between a true 1/9 and a 1/7 I have no idea, and its likely lost to time.   Point is, the gun’s barrel says 1/9 but you can shoot 77 gr bullets in it and even some of the bullets as long as the 75gr A-max .  A fellow memeber of Arfcom once told me he one his local range’s 1000 yard F-class match using the Colt CR6724 and the Hornady  75gr A-max bullets.

The muzzle of the HBAR Elite has a nice recessed target crown to help protect it from damage.  The gas block is a milpsec front sight’gas block shaved down to be low profile and it taper pinned in place.  Not screwed on or some other lousy method that is not as tough and durable.

The FF tube is smooth with grooves running some of  the length.  Not likely to get as many cool gun prom points as M-lok or keymod, but completely usable and comfortable for shooting off bags or prone with a sling.   The tube came fitted with two sling swivel studs for various styles.  The front can be used for a bipod and the read the sling.  Or you can use them to adjust how your sling fits to you when going from different formal shooting positions at a match.

The buffer is a standard rifle buffer and colt sends an “accu wedge” with each rifle.  Luckily we all now know ( I hope) that the accu wedge is worthless except for people who can’t stand things like brass marks on their brass deflector or movement of the upper/lower for cosmetic reasons.  The play of the fit of the upper and lower has 0 effect on accuracy.   The lower in this case has been fitted with the newer colt  safety selector that is capable of being switched to the opposite side for lefties.

What is a target/match gun without  a better trigger?  Well, colt has you covered there.  In a time before drop in match triggers like the SSA existed for AR15s, Colt  had the low mass match trigger that came standard in these rifles.

The trigger and pins are all stainless and while It isn’t really comparable to something like the SSA or the MBT or KAC match triggers, at the time it was like a miracle.  It was safe, tough had a faster lock time and it did reduce the trigger pull weight quite a bit.  It’s a single stage trigger and it doesn’t break like a glass rod, but it is far and away better than a milspec trigger.   At one time it was possible to buy it from colt like an accessory, but  that didn’t last long sad to say.   Before triggers like the SSA came along I would have loved to been able to use the low mass colt part in my various carbines and rifles,   Of course now you have your pick of a dozen match triggers.   Colt still sells the gun with this trigger but I think it has more to do with knowing most buyers are going to replace the trigger with a more expensive model anyway and nothing they picked would satisfy everyone.  Better for the gun to be 200 bucks cheaper than try to please everyone with whatever brand they chose.

As a side note colt did for a small run make a custom shop target rifle that was even higher quality than the 6724. It has  a full  1 inch diameter match barrel with a Jewel trigger and choate A2 stock with butt hook, hogue  firing grip.  The barrel was made by one of the big match barrel makers  at the time, either hart or douglas I forget which.  The roll mark on the lower was not the usual style but the  Sam Colt family crest “Armsmear” . Picture of the rare gun below .  Sorry to say I  not only do not own one,  but I have never seen on in person.

 

Back to the point. The  CAR-A3 comes with standard M16  bolt carrier group. Fully MPC tested and milspec.

Unlike the vast majority of it’s  “peers” at the time and even a lot now still, the key is properly staked like all colt rifles and carbines.  Being a target rifle is no excuse to cut corners.

This rifle has been fitted with the magpul PRS rifle stock and the rear monopod that fits to a 1913 rail.   The  masterpiece from magpul is a perfect  pairing with the gun and one of the few after market parts a person can get for an AR15 that actually improved its performance in some meaningful way beyond just looking cool.   The other addition is a rubber ergo grip which is preferred by my Dad.  The gun in it’s box stock form  comes with an A2 buttsock and A2 grip which are perfectly usable.  The A2 stock is lighter so I wouldn’t advise  changing it unless you have to.  Or really  really want to.

Normally this gun has an 18x Leupold target/varmint scope in a larue mount, but for testing out the optic for review and some other points, it is wearing a Night Force  5.5x-22x in a ADM mount. More on those in another post.

 

So.   It’s a match target gun that Colt also no advertises as a LE sniper solution currently so the  question is, how does it shoot?

To show the accuracy of the rifle I followed my usual habits.   I fired the gun off the bench with a rest and bags using my handloads and some  factory match ammo.   This time I am posting the  groups from 100 and 200 yards.   This is going to be a two parter and the extended range testing will be in part 2.  I have fired this gun  for years at very long range and I am saving that for a post on its own in the next week or two.

To start with, I fired the bullet the gun is mostly used to shoot since the majority of owners   think it can not handle the heavier stuff.  The 69 gr bullet is the one conventional wisdom says is the heaviest you can go in a  true 1/9 twist barrel and it be stable in all temps  and at all  reasonable velocities.    In this case it is the old reliable 69 gr Sierra match king.   The gun fires it as well as you can ask.  If it was a 9 inch of 7 inch twist either one, I can’t imagine any complaints.

Now we have the 75gr TAP round above.  Ten rounds of a bullet weight that  often works pretty well in even true 1/9 twist rifles.  The black box stuff isnt marked as match ammo per se, but it is accurate enough to nearly be match often enough.  If you do have a true 1/9 twist and wish you could use heavier bullets, give this stuff a try as the  bullet itself as a length and profile that makes it more forgiving of the slower twist.  It is good stuff and and by all accounts the bullet has good terminal performance even on wild hogs in the hundreds of pounds.

No surprise here. The tried and true  bullet and load to get the most accuracy out of an AR15.  The Sierra 53 gr flat base HP.   Match or milspec barrel and chamber.  At ranges  from 0 to 300 you can see what your gun’s barrel is made of with this load.

This is a fairly new load and bullet.  It is the new ELD bullet that has replaced the older A-max from hornady.  The 73gr bullet is still a bit long and I have my doubts about it working in a true 1/9 twist even if the weight makes it seem like it would.  it is after all the length not the weight.  I have to say I think its a lot easier to load this bullet. I always found the 75 gr A-max bullets really finicky about seating depth.

I did shoot some sierra 77gr HPBT matchkings and they shot as well as the 69s but I apparently forgot to take a picture of them.  Like an idiot .

Last we have the  twenty round group at 200 yards.   I used the 69s only because I had 20 of those left with me.  And some out there thinking of buying the gun may still have  reservations about trusting the gun to shoot the 77gr stuff.  So I wanted to show what it can do with the bullet weight that the 1/9 shooters  stick to mostly.

That is  20 rounds, with one “flyer” that the case neck had split when it fired.   I apparently let a case I had reloaded  one too many times  get into the  ammo I took with me for testing, I  make effort to stick with virgin cases or close when i shoot for groups for review but unlike obama, I am not perfect.    That is a pretty good group if I do have to say so myself.    That should make you feel not too bad about the  1/9 twist even if you won’t take my word that the colt twist is actually faster or some  gun counter expert tells you some half backed story.    I wouldn’t feel a bit shorted if this was the bullet I was actually stuck with using.

On another side note,  all the thinking about 1/9 twists got me thinking about  what bullets a person could use if denied the ability to use the 75-80gr stuff that 1/7 twist excels with.   I have started using the sierra 63 gr flat base and Berger 60gr FB HP  and some others for a future article.

 

The Colt CAR-A3 HBAR Elite   CR6724 is  an EXCELLENT precision AR15 that you can buy straight ready to go. It doesn’t have a rail or some of the other new fad  hand guard but for a gun like this, it’s not needed.  Not everything has to have a keymod or rail on it contrary to popular opinion. I like the sleek  smooth looks on this gun.  If you have to have a tactical HG and or you want to use it for LE sniping or zombies or commies or what have you, colt does make a version with a modular HG that will accept mission necessary accessories. They even make  a version with a 20 inch barrel instead of a 24 inch, which I have long though would make an excellent starting base gun for 3 gun use.

 

Part 2  will be coming and it will be about the rifle being shot for group and performance out to 300-800-1000yds  as soon as I can depending on weather or unforeseen events.

 

 

Colt Lightweight Commander Review Part 2 The Accuracy Test

 

I know it seems like it’s been forever ago since I  did the first part of this review , but a lot has happened.  Sorry about the delay for those of you waiting on this.

In the time between these sections I have had a lot of time with this gun. It has taken over duties as my every day CCW piece, replacing the XSE Gov model I carried for the last 11 years.  That is how much I have grown to love it and trust it.   Believe me, replacing the Colt XSE was not an easy thing to do. Besides the quality and accuracy of that gun, there was a lot of memories and sentimental value that went with it.    Maybe that  was the final reasons I did put it in semi retirement as a constant carry  gun.

While shooting it these months I really appreciate the new dual recoil spring system colt has started using in all of their pistols.  No, it’s not some complicated thing if that’s what you are thinking, just a spring in a spring that can be easily taken out for cleaning just like normal. Its the same setup in the M45A1 and Delta Elites.   It does really well softening recoil on hotter rounds like the 10mm, and on the light weight frame commander it helps a lot with hot rounds I like to use for carry like the Corbon +P  solid copper hollow points.

I fired all my stand by accuracy loads in the commander to test it for groups and one ball round loading just to see,

Groups were fired from a bench with bags, slow fire as is my usual method.    I fired five rounds groups other than the 10 round group in upper right using ball. Only did this cause I had a wilson 10 round mag loaded with ball in my pocket when i went to do this. The ranger T load is upper left

These three groups are my carry load in upper left, my back up carry load upper right, which is the winchester DPX .  Bottom group is the excellently accurate hornady 185 match semi wadcutters.  A load me and a friend have been using for years for the most accurate handload we can come up with.

 

As requested recently, I have started shooting extended ranges ( for handguns) as part of my standard test and review.   This request was made by a reader curious to see what modern handguns could do if needed to shoot beyond distances most think of as normal handgun  ranges in the event of active shooter or terrorist attack. The idea being you HAVE TO made a longer shot for some reason, Maybe because the nut bag is wearing a vest that may explode and kill you if you are too close or the bad guy has a rifle and has ballistic advantage over you.   Either way, the testing has led to some pretty surprising results.   I may be paranoid and crazy but this has made me think it would be wise to start integrating longer shots into regular training  to prepare for that potential since modern handguns and ammo are up to the task with a shooter who can milk it.

First I need to say I did shoot at a man shaped paper target at 75 and 100 yards and  thought I took pictures of it.  Apparently I didn’t because I am an idiot.   Even more so because I burned the paper targets to clean up the area at the strip job we shoot longer ranges at.   So , trying not to litter means I can’t even go back and get the target.

I did take pictures of the 200 yard target.  Luckily.    The groups at 100 were so encouraging it made me try 200.  Bare in mind, it took me  20 or more rounds to get the right hold on the target, I didn’t just walk back 200 and fire for record.  It took some  careful hold and fire and see,kinda thing.   It is doable though and once I had the hold over figured out, it was repeatable. I used a steel gong to get the range down and after the record target we all took turns hitting the gong at 200.   This was a real revelation to a couple of the guy who thought a 45 ACP round  from a pistol wouldn’t even travel that far.

I used a 200 yard NRS bullseye rifle target.  Twenty rounds were fired and I got 8 rounds in the black. I only managed 14 hits total on the paper in the black and white.   Still pretty good I think if I do have to say so myself.

Obviously all shots were from a bench and bags not off hand.  But with enough practice I’m sure a man sized target could be hit with a pistol off hand or from some kind of support like using a car hood or truck bed.

Selection of round used would make it harder or easier as well.  A hotter and lighter  165 or 185 would shoot flatter than a 230 grain bullet fired from a walmart plinking loading.

Making these longer range testings part of the review process has really got me thinking though.  I  have in mind to try some 9mm handguns with some of the hotter self defense loads to see what can be done I think the lighter faster round may show some impressive results  and a future article will definitely be a test of various handguns and rounds at 100 yards and beyond to see the absolute limit to what you may be able to hit if you really need to.

To wrap up,  Colt LWT Commander is super  nice and as I said is now my standard carry gun.  It’s weight and handling make it a real joy and it’s got all the accuracy I need.  It has had 1876 rounds through it this summer of all kinds  of ammo with no problems.   It has lived up to be everything I asked out of it and more.

 

 

 

Inland MFG/Bond Arms “Liberator” Test & Review

 

Earlier this year I received the Inland/Bond Arms  “liberator”   derringer pistol.   With Inland making a lot of WW2 era guns over the last few years and them teaming up with other companies like Ithaca to make others,  it isn’t a surprise the name was brought back as a homage of the old single shot pistol dropped in occupied areas for friendly underground forces to use to  get something better.

So now we have a sort of tribute to the idea.     You can see the  liberator is still quite big for a two shot pistol.  Here is is beside a Colt Defender, sub compact 1911.  This being the first bond arms pistol I had done more than look at as I walked by a display, I was not prepared  for how heavy duty this things are .

Inspecting the piece you can see that they are made very well.

Above is the roll mark and name.  A moniker that pays tribute to the original cheaply made junk gun that was a single shot.  No doubt the Inland’Bond Arms is made to a much higher standard  to say the least.

The wooden grips have a nicely engraved Inland Logo. Though the down side side is , the grips making shooting  sustained fire painful. The beauty is, if you fire your two shots, the guns are strong and tough enough to beat some one to death with it.

Attention to detail is impressive on these pistols.

The trigger is as heavy as you probably guessed considering the type of gun this is and what roles its meant to fill.   I tried on and off for a few months to really master it off hand.  The idea was to get  as good as I could with it and  fire it like I would if I had to in a life threatening situation.    I did manage to keep  all the shots on a  FBI Q target, at the ranges you would use a gun like this after much practice getting use to it.    But that didn’t demonstrate the accuracy of the pistol so i went to the bench and punished my self.

Above is 4 shots of federal HST from 10 yards off the bench.   The trigger is tough to master so it takes a lot of concentration to shoot a type group but the gun can be accurate.

This is a 5 shot group at 15 yards from a bench.  I would have done just four rounds but I pulled one and though I could do better, so I fired an extra round to make up for it.  Easy to get tired with this gun as it is punishing to shoot and the trigger is like bending a nail.

Last we have 10 rounds fired off hand at 15 yards.  This was still slow fired.  I never could get the hang of doing the two fast shots like the guy on the TV commercials.  I squirm at the thought of having to shoot that gun enough to be that good with it.

Bottom line is, the gun is very well made.  The company takes pride in these pistols and their skill at making them. You can tell that by a close inspection.    While had to shoot fast, they can be accurate.  This one showed much potential and if I was the kind of guy who is used to bog bore revolver recoil, I’m sure I could have done better for everyone with it.   I’m not though, and the wooden grips and recoil of such a small gun firing full power 45ACP rounds was more than I could take for long period.    I do see why the bond arms guns are popular with a lot of people though.  They are nostalgic and certainly finely made.