Tag Archives: Magpul

Update on my firearm project.

Back around Hurricane Irma I got thinking about what I would get if I were starting my firearm collection from scratch.  I still have an unfinished article based off my musing I might post someday.

I’ve wanted a light weight .308 semi auto with a long handguard for a while now.  I really like the Colt 901 and would love to have one with a long handguard, but Colt doesn’t offer that in the US, so I went with Larue Tactical.

Larue Tactical offers what they a call an Ultimate Upper kit.  This is a somewhat customization kit that including everything necessary for a functional AR minus the serialized lower receiver.  These kits are a great deal for the money, but they tend to have a very long lead time so don’t get one if you are impatient.  If you buy one of their upper kits, you can also order a lower.

I place an order from LaRue on 6/21.

I held off for quite a while as the large frame Larue rifles are Keymod and I’d much prefer MLOK.  But after thinking about it I realized that I am just going to mount a QD mount for a sling swivel and a couple of rail sections, and never take them off.  For me, in the big picture, it doesn’t really matter which system it is.

The upper kit arrived on 8/10.

It is a nicely packed up kit of everything for a rifle except for a lower.

 

There is the option to purchase a couple more of Larue mags at a discount when you buy one of their UU kits.  These are mags are well made and are designed to allow for a little longer overall length on the rounds in the mag over other brands like the Magpul P-Mags.

I also purchased a Surefire Warcomp.  It reduces recoil but is not as blasty or loud as a proper muzzle break.  It will reduce muzzle flash more than a muzzle break, but less than a dedicated flash hider.  The other main benefit is the ability to mount my Surefire silencer.

I wrote a little bit about the Larue RAT stock here.

I decided to go with a light weight profile barrel, the same as on the PredatAR rifles.  The barrel with gas block and gas tube weights 2 lbs 5.6oz.  I choose a light weight barrel as I know I won’t be doing high volume fire through this gun, and I do know that Larue makes accurate barrels.  The 308 rifles have plenty of weight in other areas, so I think this will be a good compromise.  Worse case scenario, the gun can be re-barreled, but I doubt that will be an issue.

To put it in perspective, the Proof Research lightweight barrel is advertised to be 2 pounds 3 oz at $940.  I don’t think 3ish ounces is worth that premium.

Barrel is marked Rearden Steel.  That’s for those of you who get the reference.

The gasblock is keyed the barrel for alignment.

Three setscrews hold the gas block in place.  Flat bottomed holes are cut in the barrel for these set screws.  I used Rockset to help secure them.

The match two stage trigger and pistol grip that comes with the kit is installed on a dry fire trainer so you can test the trigger as you wait for a lower.

I have no idea how much longer I am going to have to wait for the matching Larue lower I ordered for this kit, but I will write about it when I get it.

Where are they now? Monolithic Uppers

 

I was looking at a picture of the LMT MARS-L as adopted by New Zealand and I was remembering how not that long ago I read all sorts of people saying that the future of the AR was going to be monolithic uppers.

Greater rigidity, accuracy & precision, no top rail gap interfering with optics mounting, simpler and less parts, and all manner of other improvements were the reasons why the monolithic upper was the future.

I tended to point out that if the handguard got damaged, then you had to replace a whole larger more expensive assembly.  Don’t get me wrong, I like monolithic uppers and I own a few.

For example this Colt LE6945 pictured has a monolithic upper.

So what was it we were suppose to have by now?

There was going to be this M16A4 Product Improved(Sometimes referred to as M16A5).  This was going to be the USMC new rifle which would be a collapsing stock(Some sources said VLTOR A5, others Magpul UBR) and a VLTOR monolithic upper.  It might have looked something like this:

Photo found on AR15.com

The USMC ended up moving to the M4 and the M27 IAR.  We don’t know how seriously the Corps ever really considered the Product Improved M16A4.  But that didn’t stop rampant speculation by gun nuts.

Anyways I think that the ultimate customization available to the AR is what killed interest in the monolithic upper.  For example some years back Noveske barrels were extremely popular on high dollar custom AR15s.  The more popular monolithic uppers like the LMT MRP used proprietary barrels and so people couldn’t use what ever is the flavor the week.  Similarly preferences in handguards changed.  We went from people wanted a M4 barrel with KAC RAS, to a long free float quad rail, to long slick tubes.  Now MLOK and Keymod are everywhere(but it looks like MLOK is winning).  Someone who bought an expensive monolithic upper is locked into their choice.

I think the monolithic upper has lost out in the AR market, but I expect most any new competitor to the AR15 will likely have a monolithic upper with perhaps something like a removable or interchangeable side/bottom section.

20/20/20/ 1,000

Back  in 2005 I believe it was, I  was at work reading an issue of Guns &Ammo  instead of working.  That month Jeff Cooper was giving his thoughts about the war in Iraq and  dumping on the AR15 and 5.56mm  as he was wont to do. This never did sit well with me. Fast forward to a few months later and Again I was reading Cooper’s column and in it he talked about the  “20/20/20 1K challenge he thought up.  That is, 20 rounds on a 20 inch target and 20 seconds at 1,000 yards.  He opined that  it most likely be done with a 762MM semi auto like the match M14.  That generated a chortle out of me  and got me thinking.    Could it be done?  I wanted to know.  Unlike Cooper I thought using an M14  for the attempt was a dead end as the recoil and movement of the gun  would make it  nigh impossible to keep on target firing that fast.  Not to mention the  gun is a nightmare in my opinion.

In 2006 I started my attempt at making this challenge.  I tried it many times and approached it a lot of different ways.  I never could quite hit the time limit or keep all rounds  on target.  I worked up to it in practice.  I did 500 yards in 20 seconds on a 20 inch target, and got that down pretty good, then I moved up to 700  and so on in increments.  I tried using  heavier and heavier and longer barrels on precision ARs for the extra weight.  I put lead in A2 buttstocks to add more weight and I even considered tying sandbags to the fore arm FF tube.    I stopped short there as it felt like was getting too far from accomplishing the challenge with something a rifleman could and would carry.

The closest I came was 20 rounds on the target but in 21.6 seconds.  Close. But may as well have been  an hour too long.   This went on and on few times a year since 2006.  Then yesterday I did it.

I had no intention or expectation that I was even going to try it again today.  After discussing it with Howard last night, I realized that is why I managed to pull it off.  I was relaxed, I was not putting pressure on myself,I was just having fun after doing some other testing.     My purpose for being at the range was to test the federal gold medal  556mm ammo using the Berger 73 grain VLD  at 500 yards and do the follow up  part 2 of my Colt Accurized Rifle review.   While shooting at a steel gong at 1,000 yards it was  noted how calm conditions were and how dry and hot it was with temps in the high 90s.       I zeroed in on the gong and placed the cardboard target to the left of the steel.    With the idea in mind to get everything right on the steel, note  my data , then shift to the Q target and start the attempts.

With a spotter ready to  shout any misses to me as I was firing, I loaded  thirty round mags with my handloads of the sierra tipped match king 77 grain  bullets and 24.0 grains of Varget.  My idea is I would of course miss a few but If I could shoot more than 20  rounds, I could have extra rounds for the misses and still get  20 on target.

The gun is the Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite.   This is a 24 inch heavy match barrel with freefloat tube.  The gun also has a magpul PRS stock, and Atlas Bipod.  The optic is the Nightforce NXS 5.5x-22x with 56mm objective lens.  For the day’s testing I had took out the colt match trigger and had installed a SSA trigger  and it is a good thing I did.  To help even more I put a sand bag between the bipod and mag well.  This let me push the gun into something to get some weight behind it.

After  two  tries I was getting close  to pulling it off.    I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to pull it off.  So I decided to just see how close I could come.  On the last try I was down to only 25 rounds left after  5 rounds used for sighters because of a  small wind change.

After firing  them   all up it was time to drive down and take a look.   When we  counted them up I couldn’t believe it.    I kept  looking to make sure some holes were not just  holes made by rocks that flew up from near misses.   But I did it, I finally  hit the goal I have been after since 06 when I first seriously started to attempted it.

Below is me with recovered target trying to hide the stupid grin and dumbstruck  face.

After all these years I  finally did it. And its a good thing, at almost 42, I did not have many years left of eyesight that could still be corrected. My only regret is that my friend who is my usual partner in crime for these  pie in the sky attempts wasn’t there to share in the moment with me.   He has always been there to help me with the 1,000 yard iron sight  with AR15A2 hits and the K-31 at 1233 yards and our 1-mile shot.   It just wasn’t the same with him not there to share in the moment with us.

Howard asked me if now that I had done it, could I do it again.  No. I do not think I could pull it off again. I believe the only reason it worked this time as because I was relaxed and not taking it as serious as normal. I had  put no pressure on myself.  Another factor was once again the weather conditions allowed  success that time. The high temp, thin air and almost no wind and what little there was blew in from my 6 oclock.

It’s still strange to think that I have pulled this off after so many years.  It’s that same feeling you had as a kid the day after Christmas. Nothing to look forward to  for a long time almost.

25 rounds fired. 19.8 seconds.  20 inch by 18 inch target, 21 hits, 1,000 yards.  7-10-2018

Optic of the week: Matech BUIS

The Matech sights that come from Colt have the Picatinny marking.  I have not seen this marking on these sights from other sources.

Some time back, I’m not sure when, the U.S. Military adopted the Matech Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) as the new rear sight for the M16A4 Modular Weapon System and the M4/M4A1 MWS. That could lead one to believe that this was the best, most durable, combat ready rear sight around. Boy would you be wrong if you thought that.

Outside the military, many people have different desires for what they want out of the BUIS. Some people want a sight that locks in place and is as solid as a bank vault, those people tend to like the Troy sights. Other people want cheap, so they go with the Magpul BUS. There are a few sights that are adjustable for range with a micrometer type adjustment such as the KAC 2-600m BUIS.  There are a wide variety of features available out there, and the Matech has a pretty unique combination of them.

The main draw to the Matech is that is had a lever on the side for changing the distance setting.  This lets you quickly set the sight for settings between 200 to 600 meters, but you can not make fine adjustment for range.

An annoyance of mine is when I can not find detailed information about a product.  I know this sight was designed for use with M855 on both the M16A4 and the M4/M4A1 Carbines but I have not been able to find out what the calibration on the adjustment is.  It might have been set for the 14.5 inch barrel, or a 16 inch barrel, or the 20 inch rifle.  It might be a blended adjustment meant to be close enough for the rifle and carbine.  We just don’t know.  But in any event, it should at least keep you on a Echo Target (40″x20″) out to 600 meters.

There is a line (with out a notch to lock it in position) between the 300 and 400m marks for zeroing a M16A4 at 25m.  When zeroing a M4 at 25m leave the sight on the 300m mark.

The sight locks down, but it does not lock in the up position.  This was chosen as to allow it to move should the rifle be dropped.  Sights that lock open can be more likely to break when locked up.  Unfortunately these sights tend to wear out and stop locking in the down position.  Countless discussion and youtube videos can be found about this.

For example:

Downsides to the Matech BUIS are:

  •  It is huge, much larger than most other BUIS.
  •  If you over tighten the clamping screw and bar it will break!  Snug it up and tighten 1/4 turn past that, no more than that.
  •  You are suppose to replace the screw that is used to hold it on if it is removed from the weapon.  Most of us won’t have multiple screws laying around.
  •  It wears out!  The rear aperture latch wears out and will not stay latched down.

Now I wouldn’t say it is a terrible sight, but I do not recommend buying one.  If you already have one I wouldn’t bother to replace it unless it breaks or wears out.  Just make sure you check the distance setting on it before you shoot.

Red Rifleman Vol 2: Ongoing Accuracy Testing of the AK47

The AK-47 has been left behind to a certain degree. If we look back on the past 10+ years of civilian small arms development, we can see the AR15 has grown by leaps and bounds while the AK market has had much less evolution.

Sure there have been a few advancements worth noting, such as the gas tube rail mounts and Magpul everything, but by and large the hardcore research and development dollars are sidestepping the AK for the much larger and more lucrative AR15 market.

With the introduction of the .224 Valkyrie, we have developed the standard AR15 into a long range, lightweight semi-auto that can ballistically out-perform the .308 in a 7lb package. That’s just one example of the *many* branches Eugene’s little rifle has moved to.
Compare that development to the AK which has by and large been marginalized by the AR15’s advancements. AK’s just haven’t had the ammunition development, the materials development, or the public attention to advance the platform to the next level.

However… shooters all over the U.S. have made the “standard” AK ubiquitous. Despite its flaws and lack of innovation, many shooters trust this platform with their life. The goal of the Red Rifleman Series has been to explore the AK as is and develop my understanding of the platform further.

Link to Part 1: AK Accuracy @ Thenewrifleman.com

Summary: In part one I created mexican match ammo by pulling commie bullets, adding in Hornady bullets, and re-measuring the powder. Accuracy improved from 8 MOA to 6 MOA with iron sights. Also tested was the Ultimak gas tube which reduced accuracy with mexican match reloads in my AK.
In part two, we are going to get to the baseline of AK accuracy and reliability.

Let’s get started:

Accuracy Testing Round 2:

The first round of testing was a success. Reducing the 8 MOA group to 6 MOA is a good start and the primary driver of that was the Mexican match loads I created in Vol 1. Taking what I learned from that experience, I created another set of Mexican Match loads using the same process but instead substituting a new powder… Accurate 2230.

The Commie bullet was tossed aside and replaced with a .310 Hornady V-Max. In the prior session I had 2 MOA increase in accuracy with irons by just replacing the bullet and re-measuring the powder.

Using 27 grains of 2230 I then set a new Hornady .310 V-Max on top and gave it a crimp. I would be comparing the load to Barnal factory ammunition which retailed about 7 dollars a box at a local retail outlet.

The tools I used to evaluate the loads were a GG&G AK-47 Scope Mount, Warne medium height 30mm rings, and a Atibal Verum 1-4x optic. These will be reviewed together in a separate upcoming article. Glass is essential for accuracy development, and while this isn’t a 10x optic, this rifle might not be deserving of that much trouble in the first place.

I decided that a 1-4x optic would fit the bill nicely as it would give me a fighting chance to improve on my 6 MOA grouping from the last session and continue to evaluate my MM reloads.

The optic was sighted in an inch low at 25 yards and I then proceeded to evaluate the accuracy at 100 yards.

4.2 MOA with 7 Dollar off the shelf Barnaul? I’ll take it.
Mexican Match Reloads were 6 MOA even with an optic. Not worth the trouble at this time to continue this method of reloading.

To my suprise, the Grey Polymer Coated Barnaul/Monarch ammunition was a improvement over the laquer coated bullets I tested last time, and they even bested my Mexican Match reloads. Using a statistically significant 10 round group, I was able to acheive 4.2 MOA of accuracy using $7 off the shelf AK fodder.

Compare that to my MM reloads which landed in at 6.2 MOA… which was where I started using only irons. It is no longer worth the trouble to reload the Mexican Match loading if off the shelf ammo outperforms it.

At 4.2 MOA I was quite surprised. This isn’t a national match rifle, but we consider a “fighting” AR15 good if it keeps everything under 2 MOA with factory ammo. Consider that 62 grain Hornady Black factory ammo was capable of 2.15 MOA between my Straight Jacket and Colt HBAR with 10x  glass as perspective.

The performance gap between the AK and Ar15 using factory ammunition is present, but not insurmountable for a practical rifle. The next step would be to develop a variety of loadings for the AK and evaluate which one performs better than the Barnaul. If the AK is able to score 3 MOA groups, I would be incredibly excited to share what, why, when and how. I will continue to pursue this further.

High Glass, Sore Neck:

One of the problems with glass on the AK is that in prone position, a hyper-extension of the neck occurs. This became an uncomfortable problem during the course of the day. Upright and unsuported, the position is quite comfortable… but going prone is problematic for long strings. The logical solution is a higher comb and this can be acheived with aftermarket upgrades or simply Paki-Tape, a picture of your favorite girl, and foam.

Shooting upright was pleasant with the AK equipped with glass, but shooting prone became a sore point and a pain in the neck. We need a higher comb.

I am looking at option number 1… as desirable and affordable as paki-tape may be, I also want a rubber butt-pad to keep the rifle in position better. The steel butt-plate shifted on my shoulder with every shot and it may as well have been coated in teflon. Solving the sore neck problem may be as simple as purchasing an aftermarket MagPul stock.

Reliability:

We all know that AK’s are reliable. Right? Some recent experience with US made AK’s has soured the reputation among our ranks lately… but overall I would say that I am happy with the reliability of the AK. There is plenty of information on the net to make your own opinion of the reliability of the AK, so I don’t have much new to add here unless… let me find it… what do I have here?

Not so fresh from Vietnam… my father in law’s war trophy. Will it blend, I mean shoot!?

Oh yes, a rusty, used, put away wet, AK-47 magazine from Vietnam. This was in Pop “Doc” Schneider’s attic for many years. My father in law mentioned the AK magazine to me many times. He said that it was with his Vietnam stuff “up there somewhere” in the attic. It was a war trophy brought back when he was a young man. When he passed, my mother in law found it amongst his stuff and gave it to me.

As awesome as it would be to mount on a placard, the AK deserves this magazine. This magazine was *possibly* last fired at USGI’s in Vietnam, and years later a world away… it fed my Romanian SAR-1 on US Soil, liberated from commie hands.  Do you hear the eagles and smell the freedom? The whole session the magazine was used exclusively and the rifle functioned 100 percent without issue.

Vietnam magazine sitting next to the Mexican Match loads.

While US made Ar15 magazines are still rocking from that era as well, we all know that a misplaced foot or drop on the feed-lips can render them into malfunction clearance drill practice magazines…
The AK has once again shown us that it’s a tractor in the world of firearms. It’s magazines are not a weak point in the design.
The NAM mag is back in storage and won’t be used too often. Obviously it has value for who it belonged to and where it was from, but my curiosity was too piqued to not let lead fly.

Wrapping Up:

So we see the AK continues to improve in performance from my perception. Areas of improvement are 1) Continued research into AK accuracy via load improvement. 2) Ergonomic improvements to allow comfortable use of a 4x optic and mount. 3) Improvement of trigger pull. 4) Purchase of 20 round magazines for better prone shooting.

The AK continues to demonstrate to me that it is a reliable, versatile self defense firearm. While my overall opinion that the AR15 is a superior weapon has not changed, my exploration of the AK is meant to have value to the shooters who still prefer the AK platform of which there are many.

We must all be as ready and prepared as we can be for whatever the future may bring. Every man must develop himself into a rifleman and explore his or her potential, and understand the capability of his or her choice of weapon. There will be no gun left behind if things get hot, and every gun should be dialed and ready.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely:
Lothaen!

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.

 

 

The Ultimate AR15

I’ve been sorting though old photos of mine and I came across a later picture of the first AR15 I built.  Back when I decided to build it, I had decided that I would build the  ultimate AR15  One that would do everything I could possibly need it to do.

Oh boy was I naive.  Mainly about AR addiction.

Around the end of 2004, when the silly Assault Weapons Ban ended started a vast rise in the popularity and customization of the AR15.  I had been reading the AR15.com forums for a little while and decided it was time I build one.

I started with an RRA lower.  At the time they were pretty highly regarded, and it is was pretty much all I could get.  RRA tightened up the openings where the take down pins went so it was rather hard to attach or remove an upper for quite some time.  Eventually the lower wore in and is as loose as an GI gun now.

Standard GI style trigger.  We didn’t have Geissele triggers then, so there was no want for anything better.  Like most people today I didn’t care for the bump on an A2 pistol grip.  Unlike many  who were using Magpul or Tango Down grips at the time, I used an A1 grip for its slightly larger diameter combined with a Magpul winter trigger guard.  Really wanted to be ready if I had to use large gloves in Florida’s harsh winters.

This was before push button quick detach sling swivels were popular.  I don’t know if they even existed back then.  HK sling snaps were often considered the way to go.  I used CQD front and rear sling mounts.  I’m still fond of those, but I tend not to use them any more due to the much greater convenience of QD sling swivels.

I used a CAR stock on the gun.  Started with a reproduction aluminum CAR stock as I thought a metal stock would be better than plastic.  Later switched to a surplus CAR stock.  Not quite sure why, but I am still rather fond of the old CAR stock and I still use them.

Now the upper is really the heart of an AR.  At the time I decided I would go with the best, no expense spared.

So I bought a CMMG 16″ M4 upper.

CMMG was pretty highly regarded at the time.  They were being innovative, offering options many other companies didn’t, and they truly had awesome customer service.  They didn’t keep that reputation long.  A 16 inch barrel was chosen due to our laws and it still is an good compromise length for handling and velocity.  I stuck with the standard A2 flash hider.  Later AR uppers I had had Vortex, Phantom, and all many of other muzzle devices.  I tend to find unless you are mounting a muzzle break or a silencer that it isn’t worth the cost of these specialty muzzle devices.

Back then I wouldn’t have considered trying to bench rest an AR15 and shoot sub-MOA.  Wouldn’t have expected to run high power scopes, match ammo, or anything else of that sort.  I was solely familiar with the M16A2 style configuration so the whole carbine config was new to me.

I paid a little more for a chrome bolt carrier.  Chrome bolts weren’t available at the time from CMMG.  (Probably out of stock)  It can be nice to have a chromed or some other fancy finished BCG, but now days I don’t bother with the extra cost.

A Samson quad rail was chosen to free float the barrel.  One with a removable bottom rail was used so that I could easily access the barrel for cleaning, and retained the ability to mount a M203.  (Yea, I wanted a M203 back then)  The Samson rail was well made, but discontinued shortly after I got mine due to some sort of legal issues between Troy and Samson.  Their rail was good and heavy duty, and generally heavy in weight.  While it was a good product, there are so very many better choices now.

A ran a couple different rear sights.  Often I used an A1 detachable carry handle.  Sometimes a standard detachable carry handle.  Later I switched to a Troy rear sight.  The Troy is still an excellent choice.

Used my first Eotech with this rifle, a 512.  Had issues with that one draining batteries when off, and the battery contacts broke.

Wasn’t a bad configuration, but certainly far from the ultimate AR.  I still have the lower, I SBR’d it some time ago.  The upper was sold or traded off for something that would have also been sold or traded off by now.  I don’t miss it.

Magpul PRO LR sights

Last week I bought a set of Magpul PRO LR flip up iron sights.  I got to try them out yesterday at the range and I am liking them.

Magpul PRO

The KAC 2-600m sight are still my favorite, but I think these Magpul PRO sights are well worth the cost.

Magpul PRO

Both the front and rear sight are very low profile.  A very small footprint for either sight.  Both sights have tool less adjustments.  When I first unboxed the sights, I was very impressed with the heavy duty feel of the sights.  The melonited case hardened steel should end up being a very tough, rust resistant sight.

Magpul PRO LR

I really appreciate how the mounting screw for these sights can be tightened by a screw driver or a 1/8 inch Allen wrench.  The PRO LR rear sight has an elevation adjustment wheel unlike the Magpul PRO.

Magpul PRO LR deployed

The elevation wheel is can be set from 2-6 with a single click in between each.  The rear sight offers small and large apertures.  The front sight post is a narrower match style.

I really like these sights, and I recommend them.  These little steel sights feel substantial.  I was worried at first that they would be too stiff and too small to deploy quickly, but since installing them I found that isn’t an issue.  The adjustment are stiff, which I prefer so there isn’t a concern of accidentally adjustment.

The only criticism I can come up with for these are that the back sides when flipped up don’t have the best aesthetics.

Magpul PRO Front Sight Deployed

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a 100 setting for the rear sight.

 

Bad-Element Co. LLC Custom AK Tanker Magazines

The really great thing about being passionate about firearms, is that you research and stumble across unique accessories and gear.  This is exactly what happened when I stumbled on Bad Element Co. LLC (www.badelementco.com) AK magazines. I have been on an AK fix for a little while now and it has been over a decade since I owned one.  I recently purchased a very nice Bulgarian AK74 and have been testing several aftermarket accessories with it. When I ran across Bad-Element I had to get one of their 20 round AK Tanker magazines.  I absolutely love 20 round magazines for rifles. As soon as I received the AK74, I started to research 20 round AK magazines.  I found original AK 20 round (Tanker) magazines were extremely hard to find or get in 7.62×39. Add in the 5.45×39 AK74 round and I found they were almost impossible to get. I made contact with the owner from Bad-Element about getting a 20 round 5.45×39 Tanker magazine.  Since I already had a few Russian Izhmash Plum magazines, I thought a Plum Izhmash 20 round magazine would go very nicely with them.

Bad-Element Co. Custom Tanker magazine
Bad-Element Co. Custom Tanker 20 round magazine

When I received the Bad-Element custom 20 round Tanker magazine, I quickly started to compare it to my surplus Russian Plum Izhmash magazines.  All of the markings on the magazine were identical and I could easily tell it was a quality Izhmash Plum surplus magazine. I’m not  really sure what it is, but as soon as you put the 20 round magazine in the rifle, it just looks and feels better in your hands.

Bad-Element Co. 5.45x39 Custom Magazine
Bad-Element Co. 5.45×39 Custom Magazine
20 Round Tanker Mag / 30 round Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30  Round AK Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30 AK Round Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30 AK Round Mag

Custom Order Magazines:

Bad-Element does all kinds of custom work to all makes and manufactures of AK type magazines. Bad-Element takes existing 30 round AK magazines of all types and custom cuts them down to  (20), (15), (10) or (5) round count magazines.  In-fact, Bad-Element also does AR15 magazine custom work, for those who live in Communist high capacity band States. So check out their full line of magazine services.

There are several ways you can get your custom magazines from Bad-Element. (1) You send in your AK magazines and Bad-Element cuts them down per your round count specifications. (2) Purchase magazines on-line and have them shipped directly to Bad-Element for custom work, then they will mail them to you when finished or, (3) You can purchase already modified magazines directly from Bad-Element.

Function Use/Reliability:

I set off to the range after obtaining a decent quantity of ammunition, supplied by (www.ammoman.com), to test out the function and reliability of the Bad-Element magazine. I had 510 rounds to run through the Magazine.

510 Round 5.45x39mm Ammunition
510 Round 5.45x39mm Ammunition

               Function/Use.

The great thing about 20 round Tanker style magazines, is their ease of use while manipulating your rifle.  With a 20 round AK magazine you get the same advantages you get with a 20 round USGI AR15 magazine and more. (1) It’s compact, (2) rifle fits in smaller spaces and cases with a loaded magazine, (3) still has a decent round count and (4) with the AK, it is much easier to manipulate the charging handle from underneath the rifle, with your support hand.

At The Range
At The Range
20 Round AK Tanker Magazine in Rifle Case
20 Round AK Tanker Magazine in Rifle Case

               Reliability.

I really did not keep exact track of the round count I put through the Bad-Element Tanker magazine but it was several hundred rounds. The Bad-Element magazine performed flawlessly and I had absolutely no issues with reliability. It loaded and emptied the rounds just as you would expect from any quality military surplus AK magazine.

Rounds from Bad-Element Co. Magazine
Rounds from Bad-Element Co. Magazine

Takedown/Quality of Work:

Nothing has changed after modification of the magazines.  Takedown of the magazine is the same as the original 30 round magazine.  Bad-Element has cut the magazine and spring down. The magazine still uses the original surplus follower, spring, locking plate and floor plate.

Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines

The quality of work and attention to detail in modifying the magazine is very nice. Bad-Element has really paid attention to the little things to make the magazine look nice. The magazine has a smooth side cut channel at the bottom of the magazine for the floor plate to slide into.

Izhmash 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Izhmash 20 & 30 Round Magazines

The cut down magazine spring is very nicely done. Looking at just the end of the spring where it locks into the locking plate, you cannot tell which one has been modified. Bad-Element has taken the time to slightly  bend and taper the end of the spring, to match it up with the original 30 round design. After talking with Bad-Element, they advised they use to cut down the bottom of the spring, but now cut down the top of the spring, as it was easier and faster to do. I still could not tell the difference.

20 Round (left) 30 Round (right)
30 Round (left) 20 Round (right)
20 Round AK (left) 30 Round AK (right)
20 Round AK (left) 30 Round AK (right)

Final Thoughts:

I am very pleased with the Bad-Element custom magazine. It looks great and has been 100% reliable. If you have an AK of any type, I would highly recommend getting a few 20 round magazines. If you follow Rob Ski of AK Operators Union, you will see he runs Bad-Element Tanker magazines from time to time. He is usually the first to call out “shit” in the AK community. Since he is running them and is more of an expert than I am with the AK, I think this is a very strong sign of Bad-Elements quality. I will be getting a few more of the Bad-Element custom cut magazines in the near future. As soon as the Magpul Pmag 5.45×39 AK magazines get to me, I will be sending them in for 20 round conversion. Bad-Element also has an Instagram page (Bad_Element_Co. Instagram) where you can follow and contact them about magazines.

Duncan.

Midwest Industries AK Railed Gas Tube, Part 1 Install

Midwest Industries (MI) was kind enough to send us their new AK Railed Gas Tube for review.  This rail has only been out since the end of June and we have really seen nothing on it, other than some pictures. First I have to say, the MI AK Railed Gas Tube looks amazing and after the installation, it is rock solid. I am hoping it performs half as well as it looks.  I was recently looking to get an Ultimak rail when I ran across the new MI AK Railed Gas Tube.  It looks like a promising competitor to the Ultimak, and I was interested in it installing faster and easier that the Ultimak.  In this Part One review, I will go over the MI AK Railed Gas Tube features and some things you need to know when installing it. I will attempt to simplify the steps for installation as there are some dry fit/pre final install requirements.

MI AK Railed Gas Tube, DDI AK74
MI AK Railed Gas Tube, DDI AK74
MI AK Railed Gas Tube
MI AK Railed Gas Tube

Features:

*Provides a lower 1/3 co-witness sight picture with most (Aimpoint type) micro red dot sights.

*Easy Installation, with no permanent modifications to weapon.

*Made to same internal profile as standard AK gas tubes.

*Constructed of 6061 aluminum and 4140 steel, with mile-spec picatinny rail.

*The MI Railed Gas Tube can be found in four configurations, to be compatible with Standard AK 47/74 rifles, Yugo M70, Yugo M92 PAP and Yugo M85 PAP gas tubes.

The MI AK Railed Gas Tube comes with mounting screws, Allen key and blue loctite for the installation. A small word of advice though, as with everything AK related, a big hammer is always needed. I had to use a large rubber mallet to assist with installation. A large flat head screw driver will also help you when dry fitting the railed gas tube.

Loctite / Set Screws / Allen Key
Loctite / Set Screws / Allen Key
Extra Tools Needed
Extra Tools Needed

Installation:

There are installation steps provided with the packaging but I recommend these steps, as different hand guards can affect the installation. With some hand guards it is hard to reach the leveling screws.  I currently have Magpul AK hand guards and there was some back and forth in getting the rail on. As you can see below, you cannot reach the Allen key screws with some hand guards without pre-leveling and setting up the MI Railed Gas Tube.

Leveling Screws w/Magpul MOE Grips
Leveling Screws w/Magpul MOE Grips

Step One, dry fit & leveling.

Completely unload, field strip and remove the hand guard on your AK. replace the stock gas tube with the MI Railed Gas Tube.

Initial dry fit of rail

Make sure there is no gap between the sight block and the gas tube. This is where the rubber mallet comes in handy, to tap the rail in place.

IMG_20160819_103519891

Screw the end plug nut out, until it fits the gas tube to the gas block. This should be done only hand/finger tight.

IMG_20160819_103120025

Insure the rail is level and in the position you want, by adjusting the rear leveling screws on each side with the supplied Allen key, to the barrel.

IMG_20160819_104510278

IMG_20160819_104018814

Insure the gas tube locking lever can move freely and lock the lever down.

IMG_20160819_103550030

Step Two, loctite the leveled tube.

Once dry fitted and leveled, back out the rear gas tube leveling screws, apply loctite to the screws and reinstall them in place on each side.

IMG_20160819_103954364

It is recommended that you let the screws sit in place for 12 hours, before moving on.

IMG_20160817_170506257

               Step Three, Complete installation.

After waiting for the loctite to cure, remove the railed gas tube. Back out the front end plug nut, and this is where the mallet and screw driver come back into play, tap out the railed gas tube.  Re-assemble the hand guard and reinstall the railed gas tube. Once again, I had to use the mallet to tap the railed gas tube in place.

MI AK Railed Gas Tube, DDI AK74
MI AK Railed Gas Tube, DDI AK74

Hand tighten the front end plug nut to the gas block.

IMG_20160819_110032042

Once the front end plug nut is hand tightened to the gas block, apply loctite to the set screws and screw them in hand tight to each side of the railed gas tube.

IMG_20160819_105926882

IMG_20160819_110612822

Installation is now complete.  Check to make sure everything is level and where you want it. You can now mount your optic of choice and head to the range for zeroing.

MI AK Railed Gas Tube w/Micro RDS
MI AK Railed Gas Tube w/Micro RDS
MI AK Railed Gas Tube / Micro RDS / DDI AK74
MI AK Railed Gas Tube / Micro RDS / DDI AK74

I am very excited to get the rail and optic to the range for testing.  This system is much easier to install and remove than the Ultimak rail, as the Ultimak uses barrel bands. I will be removing and replacing the MI Railed Gas Tube during live fire to see if the point of aim and impact is affected and changes. So far I am very happy with the installation and quality of the rail. I actually think it weighs less than the stock gas tube, at least if feels like it does. Stay tuned for Part Two, to see how the rail performs.

Duncan.