The SlumberJack Roadhouse Tarp

Last night a friend and I spent a little time on top of the mountain shooting his new issued Colt Commando and cooking over a fire. It started to rain a bit so he busted out this nifty tarp that is used with your vehicle.

It all comes in a nice little package and you of course get the poles with it as well as the tent stakes.

The tarp itself is draped over the back of a SUV on one end then open on the other.

You can adjust it for height and you can use one center pole to turn it into a A shaped tent. Buckles and straps are on the car end and you hook them through the top luggage rack and through the rim on each side rear tire to secure it. You then use the tent poles and tie down the securing rope to keep it stable.

It goes up fast and comes down fast. I really recommend this thing if you like this sort of thing.

PSA EPT SBA3 Pistol Lower

PSA Part (1)

This is Part One, of a several part Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ pistol build. This part will focus on the PSA lower, other articles will focus on the 10.5″ upper, parts kit and the completed build. This is my first experience with PSA products, so let’s jump right into the PSA AR-15 lower.

PSA 10.5″ 5.56mm Slant Rail w/ Flash-can Pistol

Value:

I purchased the PSA EPT SBA3 Pistol Lower while it was on sale. The sale was for 199.00 and had free shipping. Considering the SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable brace is about 150.00 dollars if you purchase it by itself, this is a screaming deal for a complete assembled pistol lower. The PSA Lower can be found here: (
https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-ar15-complete-moe-ept-sba3-lower-5165448150.html). The lower also came with PSA’s Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT) which is a slight upgrade on the trigger.  Of course Magpul grip and trigger guard also come on the lower and is pretty much standard with most manufacturers now.

Packaging:

PSA Lower Box

The PSA lower came in very simple and nice packaging. A padded box and a PSA sticker. Simple, no extras and straight to the point.  The small PSA box is nice if you want to store your lower for whatever reason.

PSA Lower in Box

Specs/Attention to Detail:

Over all the lower seems to be mil-spec in quality and materials and finish.  A few things stuck out to me when I first looked over the PSA lower. I was surprised to see, in a lower priced this affordably, STAKING. The end plate is staked into the castle nut. This is a minor thing but I think it is important and a sign of quality. There are several manufacturers that sell lowers far more expensive than the PSA’s and they do not stake the castle nut in place.

Castle Nut Staking (left)

Castel Nut Staking (right)

The next thing I noticed was the beveled magazine well. Another nice touch that makes feeding the magazine into the lower quick, smooth and easy.  The lower receiver is a low shelf receiver, so if you are someone who is lucky enough to have a drop in Registered Auto Sear (RAS), you should be good to go.

Beveled Magazine Well
Low Shelf

The last thing I thought was a nice touch is the Palmetto State Armory logo on the SBA3 brace itself. In the future PSA articles this will tie in nicely on other parts.  A small marking that shows PSA is tying in all the small details for the purchaser. This has no functional use but makes the buyers experience enjoyable in small matching details.  For someone who checks to make sure every part on a Colt rifle or other manufacturer firearm is marked or stamped properly, it is a nice touch.  Clearly PSA took the time to have  a conversation with SB Tactical to ensure this happened.

PSA SBA3 Marking

Function/Performance:

So let’s get down to what really matters, how does it function. Well the simple fact is 100%.  I have had absolutely no issues with the PSA lower. I have run approximately 750 rounds with the lower, which is not a lot, but a proper built and spec’ed  lower will probably never have issues.  I did change a few things with the lower. I replaced the PSA carbine buffer with an H buffer as I run an H buffer at the minimum on all lowers I have.  I also changed the MOE grip to a Magpul K-Grip as I like the angle better. The safety selector is audible, tactile & smooth when flipping from safe to fire and back.

I used several different AR-15 uppers on the PSA lower. All uppers function 100% with the PSA and I had no issues on the fit or function. The PSA upper I used can be found here: (https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-10-5-carbine-length-5-56-nato-1-7-nitride-12-slant-m-lok-upper-with-bcg-ch-mbus-sight-set-5165449684.html).

EPT Trigger:

The EPT trigger is a mil-spec trigger but has PSA’s enhanced polishing and a Nickel Teflon finish. Both the hammer and trigger is polished and coated in PSA’s Nickel Teflon finish. Can you tell a huge difference from a stock mil-spec trigger? That is for you to decide. I compared the EPT PSA trigger to several Colt mil-spec triggers.  I could maybe feel a slight difference but all of the Colt’s had thousands of rounds through them. The PSA was smooth right out of the box, very little creep and the break was very nice. I have no complaints and because it was included in the price of the lower, I think it was worth it.  Fast and clean follow up shots felt like a well used, broken in trigger.

PSA EPT


PSA EPT Components

Conclusion:

At this price point, I see absolutely no reason why you should not pick up a PSA lower. Especially if you are looking for a Pistol lower with the SBA3 brace. Hell, pick up a few at this price. I am very happy with this purchase and it should serve me and you well if you choose the PSA lower. If you are in the market for a rifle lower the PSA rifle lowers are cheaper than the PSA pistol lowers. I have seen them as low as 120.00 dollars, depending on stock and grip. If you are building a pistol or rifle I would say you should give PSA a look, especially if you are on a budget.

Duncan. 

Legendary Guns of SF 1952-1972 By Kevin O’Brien

Since today is the anniversary or Kevin passing away I decided to also add one of his early articles. Yea you can read it on the website but I wanted something over here today for those who may not know about weaponsman and Kevin’s writing. It can be a refresher for long time readers as well. And really do you need a reason to read some of the man’s work? Click on link below to see images and original article.

This is the first of a three-part series. Special Forces has been around for sixty years (since 1952), and were dividing it into roughly 20-year chunks.

When John F. Kennedy infuriated Army bigwigs by awarding Special Forces the GreenBeret by executive order in 1961, the unit had been in existence for less than ten years. Before it hit its 20-year anniversary, it would go to Vietnam ahead of Big Green and come home ahead of Big Green (in 1971). During this time it went through several generations of weapons, and at the end of this period the old-timers were still hanging on to the weapons they used at the start of the era.

In 1952, SF stood up, first with just one Group targeted on the Russian satellite/slave nations in Eastern Europe. The unit was armed, like the rest of the Army, with the proven arms of World War II: the M1 Garand rifle, the M1/M2 Carbine, and the Browning Automatic Rifle as individual weapons. The most-used crew-served weapon was the venerable Browning Model 1919A4/A6 light machine gun. The standard pistol was the M1911A1 .45. Special Forces, a unit meant to work behind enemy lines, also trained extensively with the weapons of potential enemies and the deniable weapons of the defeated Axis powers and various unaligned nations. During these two decades, the Army replaced its individual weapons twice. Out of all this hardware, only a few weapons became legends.

Shoulder Weapons

The M1/M2 Carbine

M2 Carbine — light, handy, not terribly hard-hitting.

Nobody was neutral about this lightweight rifle that fired a special low-powered cartridge. You lived it or you hated it, no middle ground. The lovers liked its handiness, its lightweight ammunition, and, once Vietnam got going in SF’s second decade of existence, the fact that it was the same weapon their indigenous strike force troopers carried. Having a weapon that didn’t have a distinctive report or flash could be helpful in preventing the VC/NVA from locking on the USSF members of the patrol, while conversely, USSF carrying a different weapon made the Civilian Irregular Defense Group strikers lose confidence in their carbines. The folding-stock M1A1 version was seldom if ever seen, through the 1960s and into the Vietnam decade, the carbines were just generic carbines. The M2 was a selective-fire version. The M3 used a very early and very primitive active infrared night-vision system, with a visual range of barely 100 yards, but it introduced SF to the night-vision concept that would only come to real fruition in the 1990s.

The Browning Automatic Rifle

Early SF guys loved this WW1-vintage hunk of firepower. It had selectable rates of fire, enough weight to be solidly controllable, and fired a powerful round. When the BAR finally succumbed to obsolescence, the web belts that were made to carry its magazines got another twenty-plus years of service.

The Armalite AR-15/Colt Model 601

Before most of the Army ever heard of this rifle, SF tried it out in combat under Project AGILE and liked it. The early Colt Model 601 AR-15 gave an SF trooper nearly the close-range firepower of that BAR in a six and a half pound package — which let him carry prodigious quantities of ammunition. Every M16 and AR-15 variant today is descended from these early guns, but if you’ve only shot the descendants, the sire is a revelation — light, fast-handling, perfectly balanced, and free of the protuberances, knobbly bits and sharp edges that thirty years of improvements have added to the gun. Many modern ARs are half again the weight of the 601, and that’s before you start adding optics and gadgets that trade-off balance and handling for increased capability.

The Carl Gustav M45B SMG

Or as the Joes called it, the Swedish K. An excellent 2nd-generation submachine gun, the K was carried by special ops forces in regular and suppressed versions. There was nothing special about the gun, except perhaps for its thick green paint job; it really didn’t do anything that an M3 grease gun didn’t do, except “be exotic,” which was enough to endear it to generations of SF soldiers. In Afghanistan in 2002 we found a cache with a couple Egyptian “Port Said” copies of the Swedish K, and a couple of our guys spent the rest of their war stylin’ and profilin’ with ’em. Compact assault rifles killed off the pistol-caliber submachine gun, but they’re still good for lots of “cool points.” The one in the picture is a homemade one, from original parts and an 80% receiver from Philadelphis Ordnance.

The CAR-15

This shortened version of the M16 rifle was made in a wide variety of versions and variants. The ultimate version was the XM177E2, (Colt Model 639). This weapon is probably more associated with the elite cross-border reconnaissance teams of the Special Operations Group (SOG) than any other. After the war, though, it was quickly phased out of the inventory — only to inspire the return to carbine-length weapons many years later. Civilian export models were used on the Son Tay Raid, perhaps the most daring (if unsuccessful) operation of the war.

Handguns

The M1911A1 .45

This classic Browning design was the standard US Army sidearm for most of the 20th Century, and still serves in limited places today. It had been the standard sidearm for 40 years and two major wars when SF kicked off, and at the end of this period (1972) it was still the unchallenged king of the handgun hill.

The Hi-Standard .22

Developed for the OSS, this nearly silent weapon was used in covert and clandestine raids. It was also used by the OSS’s other offspring, the CIA (U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers had one in his survival kit, which resides in a museum in Moscow).

The M1935 Browning HP.

This was a prestige handgun by dint of its non-US-issue status. Every weapons man was taught it, along with dozens of other US and foreign weapons, in SFQC. But it was also used when deniable foreign weapons were needed, and tended to surface from warehouse stocks somewhere when large deployments were made. While some BHPs were privately owned, others were FN-made or Inglis-made weapons that somehow wound up in US stocks.

In addition to “service” Hi-Powers, in the Vietnam War presentation Hi-Powers were sometimes given to Sf soldiers completing a tour successfully. However, it seems more common to hear the story of how a trooper got rooked out of a HP than to hear the story of him getting one!
The image came from Stephen Camp’s good (but not recently updated) hipowers-handguns.blogspot.com.

Crew-Served Weapons

60mm Mortars

You can’t be SF and not love mortars. Mortars are SF’s own little artillery pieces, letting us rain down the Judgment of the Lord on whatever heathens need smiting, whether they’re Vietcong (godless Communists, no God at all) or Salafist Taliban (too much God and the wrong kind). And the 60mm mortar is mortar on a personal scale. Think of it as the military answer to desktop publishing… desktop depublishing genomes from the Book of Life. The mortars of this period were the small, light M2 and M19 60mm mortars.

Model 1919A4/A6 light machine gun

This was a standard US weapon for many years; a robust weapon, designed by John Browning (again!) and fielded from tripods or in a peculiar looking bipod/shoulder-stocked version. The famous .50 M2HB is basically this weapon, scaled up. SF used these on vehicles occasionally, and to defend fixed positions, like the A-camps in Vietnam.

Legendary Guns of SF 1952-72

We hope you enjoyed this look at the legendary weapons of Special Forces’ first two decades. In the next installment, we pick up in the lean years after Vietnam and carry on for two more decades into new realms of global responsibility: 1972-1992.

UPDATE: This post has been corrected. The SF CAR-15 was the XM177E2, not XM144E2, as noted by Daniel Watters of The Gun Zone in the comments. Also, two facts should probably have been made clear: the Army then termed it a Submachine Gun, as strange as that seems today when the conceptually similar M4 series is recognized as a Carbine. And the XM177E2 and Colt Model 639 were the same gun with different markings — 177 for the US Military, and 639 for the civilian, foreign and export market

KeyMod vs M-LOK

M-LOK Left, KeyMod right

We were asked, “What are the pros and cons of M-Lok vs Keymod?”

Long ago there was no standard for attaching stuff to firearms. We use sling studs, bayonet lugs, hose clamps, bespoke custom mounts, etc.

Then came the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail. And all was well. It took some time for people to move away from the weaver rail, but eventually most of the world adopted the 1913 rail. Except for Zee Germans, who as always thought they could do better. They came up with their own spec for rails, where they took the surface most likely to get damaged in use and make that the critical dimension. Thus the NATO spec rail was born.

Then people wanted smaller and slicker hand guards. Companies started milling off the rail section and offering bolt on rail sections. But each company had their own system. While the bolt spacing was somewhat standardized due to the sizing of Picatinny rail, how the rail section interfaced was not standardized. KAC, LMT, Larue, Colt, etc all had their own various rail attachments for their slick handguard.

VLTOR designed a new mounting system in 2012. Somewhat similar to the old post and slot system used in shelving, they included a taper on the mounting tab and recoil lugs. Best part is that they released the design as open source, so any company could use it for free.

Noveske and Bravo Company were early adopters and helped popularize the system. It looked like it was going to be the next standard. But then something interesting happened.

Before we get to what happened, lets talk about the other option, M-LOK.

Magpul came up with a new mounting system on their Masada and their early MOE line of accessories. They had slots cut(or molded) into the hand guards allowing accessories to be bolted to the slots. This was 2009. But this MOE slots sucked. They were inconsistent, and the backside of the slot had to be accessed to install an accessory.

In 2014, Magpul came up with a new standard, the M-LOK. M-LOK used slots where the accessory would lock in using a rotating T-Nut. M-LOK is free licensed, not open source like KeyMod. So people can made it freely, but they have to get permission from Magpul. This way Magpul ensures people don’t deviate from spec.

Wow, writing the history there took longer than I thought this article would be.

So what are the cons:

KeyMod accessories can be installed wrong. When I first mounted a KeyMod QD swivel, the next day I read about people mounting Keymod accessories backwards. I said, “How could anyone mount one of these backwards?” Then I found out that I mounted mine backwards. Doh.

Also some companies are cutting corners and making KeyMod accessories out of spec. Either missing the critical taper on the lugs, or missing recoil lugs.

As for M-LOK. M-LOK accessories protrude into the rail, so in areas with little clearances they can be an issue. Or sometimes the screws can protrude enough to touch a barrel in a narrow free float tube.

M-LOK screws protruding past the hand guard

It looked like KeyMod was winning the modular handguard war. Many were pushing it as the superior mounting system and it looked like the Army was going to adopt it for use on newer hand guards and sniper rifles.

Then we get to the interesting test. NSWC-Crane did a test between the two. They deemed M-LOK as being better.

https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2017/armament/McGee19427.pdf

Overall, test and evaluation demonstrated that the M-LOKTM modular rail system surpassed the performance results achieved by other modular rail systems. In repeatability testing, M-LOKTM allowed for the repeated installation of the same accessory rail in the same location on a handguard with an average point of aim (POA) shift of 1.3 MOA, as low as one quarter the average POA shift observed by other modular rail systems. Drop test results demonstrated that M-LOKTM systems maintain securement of accessories to the handguard and sustain less damage from impact forces than some other modular rail systems. Failure load testing demonstrated that M-LOKTM systems support the highest load of all modular rail systems tested. In fact, the test equipment used to interface with 1913 accessory rails secured with the respective modular rail system across testing repeatedly failed prior to failure of the M-LOKTM attachment system. Even so, testing of the M-LOKTM systems failed at loads as high as over three times the maximum failure load of some other modular rail systems. NSWC Crane recommended to USSOCOM that the M-LOKTM modular rail system be utilized over the alternative systems tested. USSOCOM has chosen to incorporate the M-LOKTM modular rail system in acquisition efforts including the Suppressed Upper Receiver Group (SURG) and Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR).

Since this test, interest in KeyMod has been reduced, but it is far from dead. M-LOK is gaining much more popularity.

M-LOK design of just being simple slots has allowed M-LOK mounting slots to be added to a great deal of accessories for other older firearms. Newer gun designs are able to have thin aluminum hand guards with simple slots milled in them allowing for the end user to add what ever accessories they deem fit.

Both are good, but now the consensus is that M-LOK is better.

Greatest innovation to happen to the modern AR-15 and it’s variants?

Over on arfcom yesterday I ran across a thread with a poll asking members what they thought the biggest advancement has been for AR15s. The thread poster then gave a list of choices for readers to vote on. See above. Sadly most of the option were eye roll inducing or not really even worth mentioning. It did get me thinking about the subject though which is rare for something posted on arfcom GD.

First I want to talk about the choices.

1.Red dot sight. While the use of durable, reliable and simple red dot sights have been a great leap forward in helping average dude with hitting it had to have something else that facillitate that. ore on this later.

2. The accessory rail. Primarily this would be the Knights Armament RIS/RAS. Yes there was other but the KAC rails for the M4/M16 was what really kicked it off because it was the rail the military went with. This allowed for a now unlimited variety of force multiplier to be attached to the rifle. A great contender for the number one spot in my opinion and a good argument could be made that it is. But like the first choice something had to come before.

3.Piston. No. An unneeded “advancement” Colt already developed in the 60s that solved a problem that doesn’t really exist.

4. Too idiotic to even address seriously

5. Polymer magazines like the Pmag, Lancer etc. An advancement to be sure. Have we all given up on USGI spec aluminum though? I don’t know anyone that has. Would the AR be less if they never come along? I don’t think so. I think they fall some where with the red dot sights but I would like to hear your opinion on this one.

5. The arrival of the used car salesman equivalent of gun companies. Is this an advancement? I would submit to you this is actually something that is hurting things. More than one first rate Mfg. has told me that PSA and their like are causing them to offer more and more cheap shit models with cost cutting measures to compete. You may view this as a good thing but I don’t think a world of mainly DPMS “sportical” ARs being sold by every company other than the boutique makers as a good thing.

Now. What do I think is the greatest advance for the AR15? The “flattop” upper receiver and the development of the M1913 rail of course. It wasn’t the first of its kind of course, but it was the one the US standardized and adopted. There was attempted at weaver type rails and the Canadians had a version but once Dick Swan and Colt came up with the current rail everything changed. Slowly at first but then like a snowball rolling down hill. The rail led to being able to mount optics lower. This lead to the Ar15 being better developed for precision use for more than just service rifle competition. The 1913 standard helped with the handguard rails like the KAC and on and on and on. Yeah yeah, the MLOK and KEYMOD and whatever MOD are a big thing now, but not on the top of the receiver it ain’t. The flatop upper has doubled the modularity of the AR15 maybe tripled it or more.

A couple of other factors that spurred development in a big way. 1. The 1994 AWB and its end 2. the GWOT. These two aren’t changes to the gun itself from a technical or mechanical standpoint but they sure did speed that up. I think I will leave that for another day or Howard can tackle that if he wants to add to this.

Some smaller things that I think advanced the system in increments. The change over to the then not all that popular but now very useful 1/7 twist and related ammo that followed . At first we got the arguable smaller step up to the 62 grain M855. Meh. Then we got the 69, then 77grain and now 80 and 85 grain bullets. The outstanding accuracy and lethality of the heavier rounds can not be ignored. Of course the ammo was developed for competition at first then as a more accurate round for the MK12 which came about because of the ability to mount optics to the flat top upper.

While not an AR15 but something related, companies finally working out the kinks to get us reliable, durable and accurate SR25 pattern 7.62MM ARs. People forget that while the Stoner SR25 and the “armalite ” ( read eagle arms) AR10 had been around for a while, it wasn’t really until about 09 that we started to see 762 rifles and carbines that you could shoot at a high round count schedule like an M4, be reliable and accurate. And now we have most of them using the SR25 pattern magazine like God and Eugene intended. But that’s a talk for another day.

I’d really like to hear some thoughts and comments about this. What do you think was the biggest advancement. Please don’t count the AR15 itself because of course it was. Some discussion on this would be much appreciated .

If you want to read what the expurts had to say on arfcom. Link below. Though you can save yourself the trouble if you saw the poll image screen shot above on how they voted. Some posters offered up much better possibilities than the original posters nearly joke like selection though.

https://www.ar15.com/forums/general/What-is-the-greatest-innovation-to-happen-to-the-Modern-AR-15-and-it-s-variants-/5-2207990/