Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

Colt Rail Gun 1911 accuarcy test

A lot of people have been asking me how I like my Rail Gun ever since I got it. I always say the same thing, that I love it and it shoots great. After using it in a few informal matches and classes and such, I have really come to trust it more then any 1911 I have ever owned, Its accuracy is also more then I could have hoped for, even with typical walmart fodder.  Up until now I never bothered to save any targets from range and training sessions with it to show anyone who asks. So today while I was counting up how many rounds I had put through it  since I bought it in the fall of 09 and realized it has over  4200 rounds through it that I know of for sure.  And after thinking about it, I decided it would be a great time to do a more formal accuracy test  on paper to show.  I did 3 five shot groups.  with  black hills match and winchester white box you can buy at walmart in the 100 round pack.  The first group was shot off a bench with a sand bag with the match ammo at 20 yards.

The Colt national match barrel really shined with that ammo and off the bench. I have to say it took some serious concentration to keep a group that small with the site radious of a pistol.

The upper left hand group was shot with the same match ammo, but off hand at 20 yards. I have to say I surprised myself a little bit with that group, even though I have been shooting the pistol at a very intense volume the last few months and the practice shows.

The bottom group was shot offhand at 20 yards offhand again, with the WWB. I was dissapointed a little, but not much. It was WWB after all and offhand.  It is actually pretty good especially with factory plinking ammo.  The orange dots are a little over 2 inches around, so I put a couple of rounds in the picture to give a sense of the group size since I did not add a ruler or anything. Sorry to say I did not measure the groups with a ruler, I think the picture speaks for its self well enough when it is a handgun we are talking about.  In the next rail gun review I will shoot some winchester ranger T and some of the other more popular self defense rounds.

I would have shot more today but I was running out of light and time. Also, all groups were shot with the surefire X300 attached to the pistol. The pistol has also not been cleaned for the last 1700 rounds, just oiled when I feel like oiling it. Lubricant was slip2000 and some  shooters choice grease used very lightly on relevant parts since I carry it as my CCW gun and I sweat a lot.

Testing the 5.56mm MK318 MOD 0 / 5.56 SOST ammo

The 5.56 SOST  is the ammo currently being used by the USMC and other troops in the GWOT,  it has not been available for the public to buy for very long so I, like a lot of other people have been curious about how it performs. The round was designed to  have better terminal performance and accuracy from short barreled rifles with a muzzle velocity of 2925 fps from the 14.5 inch M4 barrel.  The round is a OTM,  this is important to remember as it is not the same as a hollow point.  It does however, offer up better performance and is barrier blind. The bullet itself has a thick copper base and a lead front end with the usual open tip that results from the process of making the bullet.  Also present are the rings seen around the bullet much like a barnes triple shock X.  A lot of people assumed and still do that the SOST is a barnes solid copper TSX, but it is not.

After getting my hands on some of the ammo I decided to test it for accuracy first. Since the ammo is intended for combat weapons, I chose to use my Colt 6940  with milspec barrel with 1/7 twist. I did put a Leupold 18x target scope on the carbine though so i could get all the accuracy out of it I could.  I fired 2 strings of 5 shots at 1 inch dots and one string of 10 shots of M855 to compare it to the common military load all at 100 yards. It was around 1100 AM , sunny with a  2 oclock 18 MPH wind.

Other then the normal 1st round flyer you usually get from hand cycling the action as opposed to letting the recoil operate and chamber  the next few rounds, the ammo showed some  great potential. The group on the left  was a little worse due to my own bad trigger work and lost concentration on one shot, but still pretty good considering. Now I know some claim  5 shot groups tell nothing, but if you over lay to  strings you get a pretty good idea  and you keep barrel heat down and mirage off the barrel messing with the scope.

After shooting the groups I decided to test out how the round matched the trajectory of the M855 since that is one of the things the SOST round was meant to have in common with the green tip. Out to 300and 400 yards  the SOST did match the BDC of my TA31F  ACOG and zero of other scopes and Aimpoint RDS I had on hand zeroed for the green tip. Also when comparing the position of the groups in relation to the aiming points, you can see on paper that the zero held very close for both rounds.

Now, the real surprise for me, was how good the lot of M855 I shot turned out to be!  Many gun board expurts and gun magazine expurtitions will gladly tell you how terrible green tip is in the accuracy department along with its many other flaws , makes it  slightly more useful then tits on a boar hog. After getting the carbine hot  after some drills using the SOST and playing around, I fired off 10 rounds fairly quickly  with the Colt/18x combo.  The results left me a little surprised, rarely have I seen green tip shot for accuracy  with sand bags, a table and a target scope further then 50 yards. And I do not recall having seen any pictures of it doing as well in a true 100 distance group.  I shot the green tip with all seriousness and the same concentrated effort I did with the SOST and the results were pleasing and a little surprising to me.  I have never taken the green tip seriously  enough for my own needs in the accuracy department so this will indeed lead to more testing of the M855 if for no other reason  then to see if this was a fluke.

Now I do not mean to sound like I think green tip is crap, I have seen some  good performance out of it at longer ranges on coyote size targets and even man sized targets. But on the other hand, I have seen some terrible accuracy from it too. Of course lots and different MGGs have as much to do with it as anything, not to metion the different shoots and the quality or lack of  in the guns used.

Back to the SOST, I think its a pretty good round from what I can tell. It is not MK 262 or TAP 75 gr. But for general issue to everyone, it is an iprovement in my humble opinion.  I have not shot anything living with it yet, but I will. Also, in the next few weeks I will test it though a few “barriers” like auto glass, wood, and wall paneling. Hopefully I will get to shoot through some auto doors as well.  I would not use it in my own house if over shooting is a issue, but I would use it for anything else at this point if you can find enough for SHTF bulk storing. And you have the benefit of practicing/training with M855 and still being able to shoot the SOST without a zero change. At this point I can not say it is better then any MK 262 top load in accuracy, but it is not meant to be, but, it is better then M193 by a long ways and it shows the ability to shoot a lot better the M855 and even if it just matches it in accuracy you still have the benefits of better terminal performance and barrier penetration while still holding together to hit the target behind if power point presentations can be believed. Hopefully my future testing will offer at least a tiny sample to help prove or disprove the new round.

Springfield SOCOM II quick review

Today I got the chance to look over and to shoot the SOCOM II rifle a close friend bought. Anyone who knows me , knows I am no fan of the M14/M1A rifle. I will not go into the many flaws it has here, but I will say despite my dislike for the rifle I always give them a fair try and never slam one unfairly just because I do not like them.

The rifle arrived  with the companies 10 round mag. Why not a 20 round mag? I have no idea. The mags when new cost double or triple a USGI  Ar15 mag and I know most buyers would want a USGI 20 round M14 mag to start with. Though I do understand legality can come into play depending where you live.

The stock is a nice touch, it fit well and tight unlike some cheap fiberglass types stocks I have seen with huge gaps. The grip and forearm had a sort of checkering though I felt that other then looks, it was not aggressive enough to be used for real grip.  One thing I did appreciate was the mag well had a nice angled bevel to help inserting and rocking in of the magazine.

After picking it up and handling it, I found the balance to be pretty nice it shoulder well and was short and quick when moving it around tight spots.


The SOCOM was also one of the first M1As I had ever held that the top handgaurd cover fit nice and tight and not rattle around loosely like it normally does on a M14.  On top of the rifle in front of the bolt is a short piece of rail for optics.  This is an idea spot for a T-1 or RMR. I don’t think I would mount something as big as a CompM3 or Eotech, but it is a nice set up for the mini RDS.  Having no optics on had to try out , I can not say anything about  if it would co-witness with irons. The rear peep sight is bigger then the traditional rear sight. i appreciate this since I have never found the normal small peep to be handy for me at close range or moving targets. the frnt sight had a tridium vial and the protective hoods on each side of the front post are nice and wide, protecting it but not so close to cause confusion at night or in a stressful situation.

After shooting it and checking zero, we proceeded to do some faster shooting. the muzzle brake did its job well. Using Federal gold medal 168 grain Match, the muzzle stayed flat and reduced recoil with not much flash at all. However, with lake city ball, the muzzle blast would peel paint from a wall and was loud enough to be a real distraction. The ports on the brake did direct the worst of the flash away from the line of sight enough to reduce it. No night firing was done so I can not comment on how bad it would be at night with Ball ammo.

The gun was very controllable during double and triple taps.  A number or shots were fired at a  IDPA target at 25 yards to test how controllable it was during rapid fire.  A few double taps even manged to cut into each other or a least touch because of the effective muzzle device. Double and triple taps easily stayed on the head while firing as fast as possible  even fighting against the 2 stage trigger.

After having some fun and getting a feel how the rifle generally handled, we decided it was time to test if for accuracy. Since we where not on a range that let us shoot past 25 yards we had to settle for the short range.  two  5 shot groups were fired using the before mentioned federal gold medal 168 match load.  No optics were used nor any kind of tripod/bipod. I know it is only 25 yards and open sighted, but I have to say, it shows some real potential.

5 shot group 168 grain match

Both groups are 5 round strings fired with the Federal gold medal 168grain match load. As you can see in the pictures 3 rounds went into the same hole in both groups. Considering both were shot pretty much off hand, thats not bad at all  even as close as 25 yards!!

Now the downside of the SOCOM II is it suffers the same things as all its other versions. A very slow reload. A safety that is not in a good spot at all. In fact. with the smaller trigger guard and the position of the safety, I found ever time I tried to put my finger into the trigger guard, my finger got hung up  between the two and I had to take a second to make sure I got it in where it needed. Sure this is a training issue, but its a issue that really should not even really be there. Other small issues to me are miner, like having to clean from the muzzle and the gun not having a bolt closure or a better safety but these are all personal, maybe other who love the rifle will train hard enough to over come them and perform beautifully with it.    It is a very accurate rifle from what I have seen and it handles great. Plenty of companies make a rail or a way to mount what else you need on a general purpose rifle so there should be no problem there, And you can replace the stock with a multitude of other options. If you want a battle rifle that is  not too long, this is a good choice and its not as pricey as  some AR10 type .30 caliber rifles though you do not have the versatility of the AR type rifles, you still get one nice sweet rifle that is superior to the normal M14/M1a

Colt nostalgia / Black Dog machine QC Fail

Waaaaaay  back before I hit puberty, I made sure the 1st thing I did before I worried about girls was to make sure I had a colt AR15.  Being a college kid later on I was like every other college kid, I was poor. Liking guns plus  being poor equals only one thing.  22 Long rifle.   In an effort to get more out of my AR15 trigger time, I found and quickly bought  this colt .22 conversion kit.

22LR
colt conversion kit

well, not this one, but one just like it.  The first one I had was identical.  I shot it thousands of times and it never failed me.  It was a dream come true for a kid that could not afford new 5.56 ammo and had no way to get surplus ammo. It was easy to put in, take out and needed little cleaning, The only down side was the one 10 rounds mag that came with it.  Later one, once I got older and got a job and a little money, I lost interest in it and sold it off.   Fast forward to a few years ago when ammo prices  skyrocketed.  Conversion kits sprang up every where and became hugely popular again.  This made me remember my humble old colt conversion kit and all the fun I had with it.

After looking around online and spending a little money I managed to get two more of my fun little buddies.  I even got lucky enough to find an extra mag. 30 rounds!!! and I only had to reload 2 times!! But, one was in such good shape I just opened it and made sure it was fine. The other became the work horse for plinking.

new and used
NIB with used

After using the kit for fun I started thinking in terms or using it to train with in place of 556 ammo, and of course in doing so, the 10 round factory mags just would not cut it.  Around the time I started thinking this, a company known for making 25-30 round mags for various conversion kits became known to me. The company is Black Dog Machine. They had a rep for making some pretty good stuff an I wished for a 30 round mag for my ancient colt kits. One day on a gun board they maintain a forum in, the rep posted they would be selling a mag to fit my beloved kit soon. about three years passed before  they actually had something ready. Sadly it was billet aluminum and was 60 bucks a pop. Waaaay to high for me to bother with. i mean 60 bucks a mag? Who would? That is 6 USGI mags. But they did promise a plastic mag that would soon follow. A couple of years later it finally did, and it was priced right so I got on the phone and ordered one.  When it finally arrived, I popped in my kit and loaded the mag. Went outside and went to chamber a round and ….FTF..   tried again..FTFeed again.   I did manage to get  maybe three rounds in a row to fire and cycle but had a lot more problems.  SO after waiting for around three years for this mag, when I got it, it was a complete piece of garbage.

colt kit with working colt mags and garbage BDM mag

I tried to Email the company to see if I could get help. Nothing. After a few emails and phone calls and even IMs on ar15.com  I still have gotten no response from them. I do not know if they do not sell enough to feel the need to service these mags or what, but I was very let down.  Looking at the mag which holds around 25-28 rounds, it has some nice features. It is solid, has steel feed lips, the ability to take spring tension off for easier loading and just feels well made. It however, does little more then look awesome. Now, I have used the BDM in other brand conversion kits and they did fine. But this mag is so out of spec its crazy. The kit is not the problem  because it works with all the factory mags and they are what the BDM tries to copy. The factory mags are built like tanks and are  the very definition of reliable.  Sadly to this day no one at BDM has deemed it, or me worthy of a response to help me fix the mag. I do not want a refund, I want a hi-cap mag for my Colt conversion kit. But I suppose it is not to be, and BDM will have no more of my money.

Now for the kit itself, if you can find them they do not work with the old airforce mags, the ceiner kits or the old military conversion kit mags. They always come with a 10 rounder though since it was intended for plinking and hunting.  You will not get benchrest accuracy out of any conversion kit and a 1/7 twist does less to help, but thats not the point.  However, it is squirrel hunting accurate within 25 yards with a SP-1 or M16 1/12 twist barrel.  Mine have never let me down ( not counting the BDM mag) and have been the 1st rounds fired by my girl friend and younger kids. If you can find one of these fine old Colt kits and the price is right, I highly recommend it. It will be a lot of fun thats cheap to shoot and a nice example of colts past and the early days of the AR15 making its first inroads to the sporting/civilian world.

TAG Banshee PC

If you are any thing like me, you have likely  went through more then one PC looking for the “perfect set up” for everyday use. After going through a CIRAS and a few other PCs, I kept noticing the same problem for me. Too big, kinda heavy and more MOLLE space then I really needed which made me prone to add too much to it. After looking around for a few months I ran across PC that intrigued me, the TAG Banshee. I ordered one up and after a few days, I had one in my sweaty little paws.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to run a PC as slick as I could be still have some ammo on it so I could at least toss it on and have mags ready to go even without a sidearm.  And to add to that, I wanted it to set up high enough I could wear a war belt with a side arm not in a drop leg and still be comfy. And, to be able to throw the PC on over a regular belt with EDC on and still be fine an able to give me full range of movement.

As you can see Banshee is nice and compact enough to fill this roll for me. I stand at 5 foot 8 inches tall and weigh about 150 pounds so this PC is perfect for my intended use.  The front has room for a triple mag pouch which can hold 3 to 6 mags. The Banshee also comes with a cummerbund that is removable  and covered in MOLLE webbing. They can be opened up via velcro to add soft armor panels for side protection or side SAPI plates and soft armor.

Side soft armor

soft panel
soft panel

Side panels can be removed easily  and side side buckles used instead like most other PCs made much the same way. This can come in handy if you really want to run slick and have no use for the sides. In some cases they would serve no real purpose if empty other then to make you hotter and get in the way of a pistol drawstroke depending on how you may have gear set up.

The Banshee will fit a pretty wide range of plates with plenty of room left over for soft backers. Users with XL size plates may find it snug and they made not fit,  I have no XL plates on hand to test this out myself, but I have heard that some people had trouble.  I use small size ESAPIs myself and they fit almost perfectly with room left over for backers.

ESAPI over PC
ESAPI over Banshee

The quality and construction of the Banshee is just top notch, After using it all fall in a variety of weather ranges and clothing layers, it has worn pretty nice. It seems to barely be noticeable even when fully loaded down and never have I felt over heated or restricted in movement even with larger coats on under it. The stitching is strong and the webbing has stayed stitched on after hours of my fiddling with it trying to decide what I want, and where I want it.  I also noticed no wear after  several days of the extended latch of my BCM gunfighter charging handle rubbing on the same spot over and over.  It washed off pretty easy as well, even covered in gravel dust held in place with slip2000 weapons lube from my weapon.  The shoulder pads are easily adjusted and are also comfy though some guys will buy shoulder pads anyway.

The front top four webbing rows are covered in velcro front and back  for name tags, patchs or any thing else you feel needs sticking to you. I think it was a pretty nice touch even some may not like the fact its a solid color instead of camo for those who order one in multicam or ATACs etc. One thing to think about is how bad it may wear out in the future and become useless. If you worry about that kind of thing I have seen pics on the web of guys removing the velcro.

The front also comes with the built in pouch that is pretty common, you can stick a knife, map, or maybe even a small handgun inside.But I found it a PITA  to get open.  But, it hurts nothing and could be pretty handy if needed.

The Tag Banshee is the best solution I have found for my uses. I highly recommend one for anyone. the catch is though if you are a big fellow, this may not be for you. Im only 5 foot 7 inches and 150 so this fits me perfect. So keep this in mind if you are a lot bigger then me or at least search for pics on the web of other guys wearing one  that may be bigger then me to get a better idea oh how it could fit you.  One warning though, the banshee has been popular of late and a lot of people have been waiting on one they ordered since before November of 2011. So it may be a long wait until those back orders are filled. But hey, that is a pretty good sign its good stuff, otherwise no one would want them. The best part is they can usually be had for under 150 bucks!

Lesser known holster that should not be

1911 with surefire light

I would like to start the blog off with a short write up of a small company I found out about a few months ago on a gun board.  The holster was custom made for me by Dark Star gear in PA.   I was looking for a holster that I could mount on a normal belt or a MOLLE type war belt. After looking at all the more common popular options I just was not happy.  I called up the company  and the owner agreed to make a holster for me with my specs.  I asked for  it to fit a Colt rail gun 1911 with surefire X300 light with the FBI cant in coyote tan.

The owner was a great guy, he was careful to make sure he knew and understood exactly what I wanted. This one is the 1st one he has made for the 1911 type and it is just impressive. The holster  oozes craftsmanship and thats hard to do considering the material its made from. The fit of the gun in the holster is snug.  I held the two upside down could not get it to fall out after vigorous shaking.

belt loops for casual belt/riggers or MOLLE

One other thing that really impressed me was  the slight curve of the holster that is so subtle but perfectly conformed to my body. With a button up dress shirt on, i was able to easily conceal the full rig including the wilson  10 round mag. The belt loops can easily be re positioned however you want and  there are extra holes for attaching a knife,maybe a light, whatever..

If you want a very well made nice custom holster that is not made from one of the more popular well known companies that take forever,give Dark star a try. Ican not say he will make anything you dream up, but I am sure he will try to meet your needs. I will say he does NOT make IWB so if thats what you  want you are likely SOL. I will say I was so impressed I have another one on the way.

If you like what you see them a ring at www.DarkStarGear.com  I hope he can meet your need and you can help out a small biz in Pittsburgh,PA and get a  first class piece of gear for your sidearm.