Continuing the brief saga of changing over an ordinary gas impingement .223 AR15 into a .300 Blackout, we will complete the barrel change, add a free floating handguard, screw on a can, add the necessary accessories to bring the gun up to our survivalist standard, and head outdoors. Look, I get it. There is no shortage of irony about a rifle that rivals a compound bow in hunting prowess. I hunt with a bow, and while a 50 yard shot is still something on the edge of my comfort zone, a 50-yard subsonic .300 Blackout shot is acceptable. But the more I thought about it, the more I considered blending grizzly bear shotgun wisdom with 300 BLK hunting. There is no rule that says you cannot run both subsonic and supersonic ammo in the same mag. So imagine whitetail deer hunting in thick brush with the first round or two being subsonic and the rest being supersonic. Being a semi-auto AR-platform rifle, I imagine that the second shot could happen almost instantly, but if the target is on the move, all subsonic bets are off and sending any necessary rounds further downrange should be expected. Noise is not the problem now. Range and accuracy is.
Since my testbed AR had an A2 front sight post pinned to the .223 barrel, I took the opportunity to upgrade from the no-frills Magpul MOE handguard to a Midwest Industries free floating M-Lock aluminium handguard about nine inches long. The Midwest Industries handguards come in various lengths and attachment platforms. A detail I really appreciated was the five quick-detach ports; three up front, and two back by the receiver.
Related: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench
As the .223 barrel had an A2 front sight, I chose to abandon it and install a Yankee Hill mini gas block inside the free floating handguard. Since I’ll be running an optic on the top rail, I opted for some Magpul MBUS Pro Offset sights for backup and for longer distance shots. By the way, if you are wondering the difference between a handguard and a forend, the particular part name has to do with whether or not the specific piece of furniture is just for support or to protect your hand from burns. In the case of the AR platform, it is a handguard.
Instead of swapping barrels, many of the Blackout-curious type will just buy or build an entire upper dedicated to the 300 BLK and switch out the whole upstairs, sights and all. In my case, I was not excited about the DPMS AR 15 as a .223 in the first place, and don’t mind making a dedicated Blackout gun. Plus, if your luck holds, you will have nothing more the cost of a barrel which is considerably less than an entire upper. And there is that in-between option where bolt and charging handle jump back and forth between calibers.
As I noted in Part 1, there can be no mistakes with ammo. There is a chance that a .300 Blackout round can cycle into a .223 barrel to the point where it will fire upon a trigger pull. The results of such a mistake can be devastating to both shooter and gun.
But there is another factor that needs to be kept in mind and that is that 300 BLK ammo is widely available over the gun counter in both supersonic and subsonic varieties. And in some cases such as hunting, the shooter may want to switch between supersonic and subsonic on the fly. In my case, I will run two 10 round oranged-colored Magpul Pmag magazines while hunting. One is filled with my subsonic loads and the other with supersonic ones. That way I can carry subsonic for close range brush situations, but if something farther away presents itself, I can eject the subsonic mag, cycle out the chambered round if there is one, and then reload with a mag full of supersonic cartridges.
To keep my two Magpul 10-round orange hunting magazines separated I changed one key feature. I run a black baseplate on the supersonic package and keep the matching orange-colored one on the subsonic. Why that combo? I decided that if I’m needing subsonic in a darkness situation (not necessarily hunting) I need to know with certainty that I have the subsonic mag. If I have a black base plate, it will appear a black or not there under minor light.
On a lighter note, for more fun I use Magpul’s sand colored 30 round Pmags. But as mentioned before, the cost of ammo being what it is makes blasting 300 BLK round after .300 Blackout round downrange is questionably cost prohibitive. But in a nutshell, all my Magpul sand colored mags are .300 Blackout only. And I never run a orange-colored mag for .223/5/56. Never.
No Mr. Bond, I expect you to “dye.”
The Magpul’s sand colored mags were never expected to remain sand colored, but dyed into another color the user prefers. With that in mind, I decided to drop some sand-colored magazines into RIT dye and see what happens. Since the dye color is totally up to the dyer, anything on the rainbow is fair game with camo and combinations also a possibility. Due to the mess of dying something, I picked up a pot at the Goodwill and laid out tinfoil around the stove and counter. With about two quarts of boiling water in my pot, I dropped in the gutted mags (springs and followers removed) into the pot and stirred them around for 10 minutes. The dye set rapidly, but then slowly got darker. I ended up using about a third of the bottle of RIT dye. After another 10 minutes in a warm freshwater rinse and thorough drying, the mags were reassembled and good-to-go.
The ability to interchangeably run both supersonic and subsonic round through the same gun with the same bolt is truly revolutionary. But the ballistics don’t follow the same rules. So to be able to run either/or subsonic/supersonic rounds at whim means that you need keep your .300 ducks in a row, as well as your sights. There is little similarity between the subsonic and supersonic trajectories so you will either need to memorize ballistics tables as well as know which round your sights are zeroed for. Or you can run dual sights. Luckily the limited range of the 300 BLK is something that iron sights can handle no matter the bullet weight. Sure, a 6x optic will give you an accuracy advantage, but any good shooter can squeeze off plenty of precision whether iron or glass.
Considering that I am using “hunting” as a euphemism for…whatever, I am interested in two no-brainer sighting solutions; one for supersonic and one for subsonic. Since I have many other longer range battle-ready options so maximizing the .300 Blackout’s long distance capabilities is not really all that practical when taking the long view. To justify the 300 BLK in a survivalist arsenal, one must maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
Read Also: Survival Debate: Aimpoint vs. EOTech?
On this particular build, I zeroed the Aimpoint H1 for the subsonic bullets at 50 yards, and zeroed the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset sights with the point of impact for supersonic bullets at 150 yards. Of note is that the stock front post has been replaced with Magpul’s MBUS Pro Enhanced Front Sight Post, a tiny screw-in after-market post that improves accuracy by reducing post thickness. There is a stark contrast between sub and supersonic bullet drops. Flying below the speed of sound, a zeroed-at-50 220 grain bullet will drop almost 15 inches at 150 yards, and about 70 inches at 250 yards. Yes, the bullet drops almost six feet! While a supersonic round zeroed at 150 yards will be an inch high at 50 yards, and less than a foot low at 250 yards. So you can see that the use of two independent sighting platforms is worth the effort.
Related: Trick Out A Cheap AR15
Taking that sighting duality a step further, the option of running both subsonic and supersonic ammo in the same magazine. I can imagine where the first or top round or two are subsonic followed by the supersonic ones. This concept is not new. A popular 12-gauge shotgun option here in bear country is to load the tube rotating between double-ought buckshot followed by slugs. And fans of the Taurus Judge handgun have been known to run alternating .45 Long Colts and .410 shotgun shells in their five-round cylinder.
Quiet down there!
Running a suppressor on a subsonic .300 Blackout makes for an interesting option in survival/prepper guns. Although the 300 BLK has distance limits, the radius of effectiveness is up to you. And that is exactly why I turned one of my AR15s into a .300 Blackout and so should you. In my testing, the 300 BLK running subsonic was not all that quiet. Certainly hearing safe, but much like a tiny firecracker going off. Anyone 50 yards away would probably ignore the sound if they even heard it, but closer up, there is definitely something going on. Of course I was in a very quiet area with little more than a slight breeze and a few birds disturbing the peace. Supersonic loads were a different story. Even through the silencer, they were still a pretty good crack.
My audio testing equipment produced numbers in the 120 dB range for supersonic bullets exiting through the Omega suppressor, and 111 dB for subsonic rounds. A 95 dB sound is like a New York Subway, or public bathroom hand dryer, so 111 is not excessive, but certainly not silent. Popping off a couple subsonic rounds in a confined space will still make your ears ring for a moment or two.
I replaced the classic “bird cage” flash hider with a SilencerCo ASR Muzzle Brake. Not to tame any massive recoil, but that it works as a fast attachment mount to the Omega silencer. The ASR does add a bit more weight at the far end of the barrel, and healthy bite into the deep end of your wallet, but it works great. Just don’t forget, as I did, that it also requires the ASR mount on the silencer which will not screw directly onto a barrel. You need to swap out supressor end caps to make the silencer compatible with your mounting system. I grabbed my Omega and bolt gun for a quick hunt only to discover I still had my ASR mount on the suppressor, but I actually count myself lucky to be able to have a problem like that.
The AK 47 round of 7.62 by 39 is actually a little larger than 30 caliber, about .311 compared to .308 to be more exact) meaning the bullet choices for reloading a 300 BLK are as varied as any other popular 30 cal including the .308 and 30-06. Further, a .223 case can be converted into a .300 Blackout case with a little retooling. Enough so that many 300 BLK aficionados are hitting up their .223/5.56 friends for their brass.
Of course there is also the SHTF component to having any particular gun. Bugging in is an obvious use for a quiet rifle. But bugging out is a total no-brainer. Survival of the Fittest is a popular saying that, unfortunately, is backwards. In order to know fitness, you need to know who survived. So really it is that those who survive have the right fitness. But no matter how you slice this cake, doing anything with less noise is fitness. Lobbing 30-cal lead without blowing out your eardrums is more practical than you can imagine.
The first outing with the 300 BLK took place out in the sticks of Montana. I found a place up in the mountains where I could set up my gear in the trees providing a safe shooting area. After a couple hours, I spent some time picking up my brass. I noticed how far and what direction the brass flew. Back home, I was inspecting the brass under a magnifying glass to look for any features or scarring that might indicate problems with the gun. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was holding .300 Blackout brass that was not from my gun. The first indication was a different brand headstamped on the case. Further, some of the same-branded shells were too weathered to have been shot that day, as well there a few with bent throats and dinged case mouths. So there are like minds out there.
The Sound of Silence
I used the first hunting trip with this gun to test its practicality and shake out any concerns. When fixated on quiet, every little click or squeak is loud. The clicks came from my Magpul stock. It is the base model with no way to lock down the extension setting. And the squeak came from both the Magpul MS-3 sling and the Blackhawk Quick Detach clip I used up front on the Midwest Industries free-float handguard.
In the end, this exploration of the 300 BLK has shown promise, but also a full plate of limitations that will keep it off my shortlist of bug out gear. When facing a significant unknown, my first gun to grab would be my Katrina Rifle, and a close second would be my Katrina Pistol. Third would be my Bug Out Long Term (B.O.L.T.) .22 pistol. A Bug Out BUG (back up gun) might be fourth, and then probably a long range rifle like a 30-06 would round out the first five. So a .300 Blackout would be somewhere between six and 10 along with a Project Squirrel gun.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sales of semiautomatic rifles have doubled and sales of handguns have spiked 40 percent in the Golden State ahead of a strict gun control law that will take effect Jan. 1.
Californians will not be able to buy certain weapons, including popular styles of the AR-15, after Dec. 31. The new state law will bans rifles with “bullet buttons.”
Another law that will go into effect bans magazines with more than 10 rounds. It also requires background checks for ammunition purchases.
The last day someone can buy an AR-15 because of California’s 10-day waiting period is Dec. 21, according to a memo from the state’s Bureau of Firearms.
Story continues below video
“Do I need the weapon I just purchased? No. Did I purchase it anyway? Yes. That’s the bottom line: They took the choice away from responsible adults,” one man told Fox News.
Apparently, strict gun control measures are very good for business.
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If you have ever spent any time at all on a survival or firearm forum, you are bound to come across the phrase “Buy it cheap, and stack it deep”. This phrase is, of course, referring to the amount of ammunition one should have if disaster strikes. After years in the shooting community, I have heard many reasons people stockpile ammunition for emergencies. There are really only a few loons out there who prepare for impossible and downright foolish reasons. One guy, I met really believed in an alien invasion followed by an Illuminati takeover.
Sure, there are always a few crazies, but there are many normal people who do have a fear of what could happen in our increasingly volatile world. Like it or not, we have to admit that this is not the 1990s anymore and we are seeing an increase in danger daily. The economy can be compared to a savage ocean. ISIS is rampaging through the Middle East and their sympathizers are attacking innocent people in the USA, Europe, and Canada. Iran’s nuclear program. The riots following Trump’s election. I could go on.
In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the question, “how many rounds should I have on hand in case something happens?” If you read the forums and even some articles, a lot of armchair generals and self-described “experts” say you need to amass 100,000 rounds per caliber, minimal. And while 100,000 rounds is an impressive amount of ammunition, enough to fight a small war, it is completely insane to think you will ever need that much ammunition. Well, if you are going to invade a small Caribbean nation, go ahead and pursue your 100,000 rounds. With the price of ammunition today, you’ll go broke.
Related: Surviving Alone
In all truth, it is impossible to see the future and know how much ammunition you will need. My crystal ball stopped working a long time ago. But I doubt you will be engaging in a firefight after firefight with gangsters or looters every day in a survival situation. Even if you did, what are the odds of you surviving dozens of gunfights? I have done my best to put together a realistic minimal goal for ammunition needs during a survival situation. The focus here is of course hunting and defense.
A .22 is about the most versatile firearm when it comes to food procurement you can own. From squirrel to a feral cat, a .22 can put meat on the table for you and your loved ones during hard times. I strongly suggest everyone have at least one reliable .22 for emergencies. The bare minimal I believe you should have is around 1000 rounds of .22 ammunition. Ideally, 2-5,000 rounds are best. Buy .22 in bulk, in tubs of at least 500 rounds to purchase cheaply.
A .12 gauge or .20 gauge should be something every gun owner owns in addition to a .22 long rifle. A shotgun can be used to kill waterfowl, turkey, game birds, and with a slug or 00 buck loads can be used to kill the larger game and be used in home or self-defense. I strongly recommend pump action guns as they are by far some of the most reliable. To be wise, I would say one should have 2 barrels for each shotgun unless the shotgun is a dedicated home defense weapon. If it is a hunting shotgun, you should have a longer “bird barrel” for shooting bird shot, and a smoothbore “slug barrel” for shooting slugs and 00 buck loads. I suggest at least 300 rounds of game loads such as number 6s or 7s, 50 turkey loads, 200 slugs and 200 rounds of 00 Buck.
The Big Game Rifle
If in addition to a shotgun and .22, you are blessed to own a game rifle, this can be a real tool in keeping your family fed. If it all goes downhill, a game rifle can, of course, be used to hunt game, and it can also be used to hunt feral cattle, pigs and other such domesticated animals that tend to go feral in dark times. For every game rifle I own, I like to have at least 100-200 rounds of game loads. More if you can afford it. If your rifle is properly sighted in, 100 rounds can last you years of procuring larger animals for food.
The Semi Auto Sporting Rifle
In the USA, this includes AR-15s, AK-47s, AK-74s, and so much more. These are not the true assault weapon. In Canada, these usually mean the SKS, M1A/M-14, M1 Garand, and maybe an AR-15 kept for target and competition shooting. A true assault weapon by the true definition is a rifle chambered in an intermediate cartridge that has the ability to switch between semi-automatic and full automatic gunfire. In truth, the inner-workings of these firearms are no different than a semi-automatic hunting rifle.
Read Also: Quick Buyer’s Guide to Imported AK Market
These rifles are highly versatile and can fill the role of both home defense firearm, personal defense weapon, game rifle and varmint rifle. If you only have 1 gun, one of these are your best options. If you have a rifle with a detachable magazine, be sure you have at least 12 magazines. That is my minimum. If the firearm you have is an SKS, M1a, Garand, or any other semi auto that uses at least a 5 round magazine, you probably have noticed they are bullet eaters. In fact, a semi auto can eat more ammunition than a college kid eats pizza.
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When Eugene Stoner invented the AR-15 in the 1950s, I doubt he ever imagined the rifle’s success of today. In the age where hardwood stocks and full power cartridges reigned supreme, the little “Mattel toy” rifle with plastic stock and aluminum parts looked like something from a science fiction film. First adopted by the Air Force, and then by the Military as the M-16, the rifle went on to widespread use in Vietnam. Teething problems and improvements quickly followed for the M-16 and found their way into civilian model AR-15s. This would be the case for the next 40 years.
The AR-15 began as a semi-automatic civilian rifle started when Colt started selling the rifle in the 1960s. At first, sales were slow, prices were expensive, and problems found on service rifles were mirrored in civilian AR-15s. The AR was never a popular rifle during the 20th century for civilians. Surplus WWII firearms, cheap Chinese imported AKs and SKS rifles, and other similar, cheap guns took a huge bite out of the AR’s market. Their reputation as a problematic firearm that jammed when slightly dirty did not help either.
Related: AR-15 Magazine Management Strategies
The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban seemed like the final nail in the pine box for the AR-15. Instead, it spurned one of the greatest quality improvements of a product in firearms history. During the ban, small companies started to improve the AR platform. At the same time, the Military adopted the M-4 Carbine. M-4 semi-automatic clones soon hit the civilian market when the ’94 AWB expired. The War on Terror and the expiration of the ’94 ban in late 2004 unleashed a flood of greatly improved tactical rifles that took the civilian market by storm.
The NRA successfully brought to civilian attention that an AR-15 is not a fully automatic assault rifle, but a very accurate and utilitarian rifle. All of this coupled by an increasingly gun-friendly society spurned sales. Though the AR competed with cheap AK pattern imported rifles in the early 2000s, scores of veterans returning from the Middle East provided a loyal following for the AR-15. With the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and threats of gun bans, the popularity of the AR-15 soared.
Every Shape and Size
With the adoption of the M4 by the US military and the sunset of AWB in ’04, almost all AR-15s are modeled after the M4 carbine. These compact AR-15s with their 16-inch civilian length barrels are built with 3 goals in mind. Accuracy. Reliability. Modularity. The modern AR-15 is the equivalent of the adult erector set. With a small set of tools and an Armorer’s wrench, a shooter can modify his rifle in his garage, or build one from scratch.
The AR-15 outfitted with its flat top receiver can use almost any optic available to man, from traditional rifle scopes, to combat optics such as the ACOG. Quad rails allow mounting of lights, rapid transition sights, lasers, and a whole host of other accessories. I know a shooter who mounted a bottle opener on his.
You can still find full-size AR-15 rifles the same dimensions as the M-16A2/A4, or you can opt for a Carbine length rifle. A mid length rifle is the same size as the carbine length M-4, but they offer the ability to be able to correctly mount a bayonet and provides more reliability with its gas impingement system.
The AR-15 Today
How has the AR become so popular? A huge reason was the threat of gun bans on semi-automatic rifles and what many Americans saw as a possible infringement of their 2nd Amendment rights. In 2008, one of Barack Obama’s campaign goals was a permanent version of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. American shooters poured into gun stores over the next 8 years and purchased millions of semi-automatic rifles that were targeted by left-leaning politicians and anti-gun groups. This repeated itself in 2012 with Obama’s reelection, after the Sandy Hook shooting and right before the 2016 Presidential election. Between 2008-2016, it was estimated more than 1 million AR-15s were produced annually for civilians in the USA. That doesn’t count parts kits and lower receivers for people to assemble their own rifles.
A greatly improved product with the reliability nearly equal to an AK has helped as well. In fact, torture tests have demonstrated that the AR-15 is closing the gap with the AK pattern when it comes to reliability. Longevity, however, remains with the AK, whereas an AR-15 will need some critical rebuilding after 20,000 rounds or so. Aftermarket products such as grips, stocks, sights, and internals have spurned a huge custom rifle movement.
See Also: Sig Sauer MPX-C 9mm Review
Lastly, the increased demand starting in 2008 created an interesting problem. It forced gun makers to greatly increase production, saturating the market and causing prices to drop drastically. Prices have fallen on the AR-15. It used to cost a shooter at least $1000 for a decent AR-15 rifle. They can be had now for $400-$500. No longer is the AK the budget defensive rifle, that has now been taken over by the formerly expensive AR. In fact, a good com-bloc imported AK is now more expensive than an AR-15 from Palmetto State Armory. With a saturated market, improved quality, and a movement behind it, the AR’s time has truly, and finally arrived!
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I’ll admit it readily; I’m a gun snob of the highest accord. I like my guns classy, old, and made of walnut and blued steel, forged and carved by craftsmen from a different era. I’m not saying that I don’t have and use ARs and polymer-framed pistols – I do; they are my “oh shit” guns, and I use and abuse them properly. What I am saying is that if I don’t need to be using that high-capacity new-age gun at a given time, I’m not gonna. Though the AR platform is great for a small-to-medium-game hunting platform, I’d rather ditch the “Rambo” vibe and carry something with a “soul” when I decide to head into the woods for an afternoon of scouting, hiking, or snowshoeing. A well-used and -loved decades-old rifle on my shoulder feels to me like it’s bringing company; call it corny, but I like to think that a small part of every man, woman, and child who ever had that gun in their hands comes with me when I carry these old firearms around. It’s comforting and warming to me – and modern milled-and-molded aluminum and plastic guns just don’t give me the same warm and fuzzy feeling.
To that end, I get picky on the guns that I buy; I’m not an accumulator like many other self-proclaimed gun snobs I know. I buy quality items sparingly, and use every gun that I buy. If a firearm doesn’t perform, just isn’t quite what I had in mind, or falls by the usage wayside, it gets sold or traded off. Too many guns is wonderful, but it’s a maintenance and security liability I don’t want to deal with. So I only buy firearms that I connect with – both literally and figuratively.
The “Walking Around Rifle”
Like the infamous “Scout Rifle” concept idea put to words by the immortal Jeff Cooper, the idea that came to be dubbed my “Walking Around Rifle” probably needs some explanation. While my conceptualization wasn’t quite as specific as Mr. Cooper’s to-the-letter explanation, the idea in my head had to fulfill certain requirements. The idea was kick-started by my sighting of a rifle at a local gun shop – a rifle I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. It was a Savage 23D, a featherweight middle-sized sporter in the elusive and under-appreciated .22 Hornet caliber, manufactured somewhere between 1923 and 1942. The smooth, warm oil-dark walnut with the worn checkering called to me, as did the detachable magazine and slightly worn bluing. The rifle sported an inexpensive Simmons 3-9x scope, probably weighed all of six pounds, and wore a price tag of $350.00. It was lust at first sight. Soon, visions of popping deer-chasing nuisance winter coyotes with the quick-handling rifle were dancing in my head.
I then committed a major gun-buyer faux pas: I didn’t put money down on the rifle. Heating season was coming up, the baby needed winter clothes, and I just couldn’t justify putting bill money down to nab the rifle. (being an adult sometimes isn’t all it’s wrapped up to be). So I put it back in the rack and justified my actions by thinking “surely nobody will want an old .22 Hornet”.
I was wrong. I went back a couple weeks later to find that surely someone did indeed want an old .22 Hornet, and they had wanted it the day before I walked in the door with money. So I was back to the drawing board to come up with a snazzy, lightweight firearm to fill the new hunting/hiking void I’d created in my head.
I sat down and listed my criteria. The needed requirements were few, but relatively specific.
- Caliber – centerfire, flat-shooting, capable of downing small and medium-sized game. I hand-load, so ammunition availability wasn’t too much of an issue as long as I could find brass and it was in a common bullet caliber.
- Bolt-action or break-open, for less moving parts and lower potential for breakage/wear. Likely higher potential accuracy as well over lever actions, pumps, and semi-autos.
- Provision to mount optics, namely a high-quality fixed low-power scope.
- Provision for backup fixed sights – because optics can fail, even good ones.
- Light(er) weight – I didn’t want to pack around a 9 pound rifle – so I was looking for a scaled-down action and lightweight makeup
- Unique if possible, made up of blued steel and walnut – I had to assuage the inner gun snob, after all. I could have sourced a new Remington Model Seven Synthetic in .223 and it would have fit this bill to a T – but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I wanted something less than commonplace.
Why Did I Want a Walking Around Rifle?
I realize some may not see the need for this rifle, and I can understand that. Why carry around a rifle that really is somewhat limited in purpose and versatility, especially when the bug-out AR-15 fits the bill? Why not a bigger rifle/caliber combination, like a .308, that is more capable over a wider array of situations?
Related: The Katrina Rifle
This rifle requirement all stems from what I like to do. My woods time is usually comprised of keeping up to date with bug-out locations, exploring, hunting coyotes, or – most frequently – scouting deer patterns for an upcoming whitetail deer season. A rifle is handy to eliminate pests, use as a signalling device, or even provide security. The rifle has range and accuracy capabilities that far surpass even the most precise handgun, at the price of added bulk. However, when snowshoeing and scaling mountainous countryside with a pack, the added bulk can be a burden – so I needed to be picky about the size and contours of the rifle. Semi-auto firepower wasn’t a requirement – in all likelihood, the rifle won’t even be fired on most excursions – so precision and unobtrusive carrying qualities take precedence over lots of fast follow-up shots.
To sum things up: My rifle’s mission was to be portable,and have more punch and range than a .22 Long Rifle or similar rimfire caliber. The .22 LR works well as a small-game foraging rifle, but just doesn’t possess the additional horsepower I wanted to have available.
So Why These Requirements?
Caliber – Here in Maine, the need for a large caliber to pull anti-animal duty only runs a couple of months – usually September, October, and November, when black bear and whitetail deer season are open, to the delight of local and imported sportsmen. The remainder of the year, most traditionally edible game animals are not legal quarry. Porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, and red squirrels are the only critters that Maine allows sportsmen to pursue year-round. For these animals, a large caliber rifle just isn’t needed for clean kills. Certainly, a .22 Long Rifle can be considered viable for vermin dispatching duties at appropriate ranges. However, once the ranges open up past 50 yards, the stalwart .22 LR’s and even the .22 Magnum’s meager ballistics start becoming a hindrance, and clean kills are not certain. So we need to start looking at the centerfire family of cartridges to carry the fight to undesirable fur bearing creatures (or even emergency anti-deer use) at longer distances. The .22 Hornet, .222 Remington, and .223 Remington/ 5.56x45mm are all cartridges that were squarely in my sights. Surely, the .22-250, .220 Swift, .204 Ruger, and .17 Remington would have all been good, even excellent, at what I wanted – but since I reload, I wanted smaller, efficient calibers that didn’t burn a ton of powder (eliminating the .22-250 and .220 Swift), and were in bullet diameters that I had on hand – namely the common .224” bullet (there goes the .17 Remington and .204 Ruger.). I briefly considered older-though-still-cool-and-sort-of-useful calibers such as the .218 Bee, .25-20 Winchester, and .32-20 WCF, but the difficulty and expense of finding brass cases to reload, plus their lackluster long-range performance, put them out of the running once my brain overrode the romanticism of using the old calibers. So .22 Hornet, .222 Remington, and .223 Remington/5.56mm were the main focus. Rifles chambered in these smaller cased-cartridges also have the benefit of sometimes of having the action scaled down to the caliber – so you’re not lugging around a full-sized rifle that’s just a modified version of a full-sized short-action rifle meant for the .308 class of calibers.
Action Type – Again, though I had an AR-15 that would fill this made-up mission quite nicely, I just didn’t want an AR over my shoulder while hoofin’ it. I’ve shot deer with a Windham Weaponry AR-10, and while it worked very well on a certain 5-point buck, it just didn’t feel right to a guy who grew up carrying leverguns and bolt actions in the woods. Also, once I shot said deer, carrying the AR became a whole bunch of not-fun: the brass deflector and charging handle kept digging into my body, the Picatinny rails caught clothing and abraded it, and the tall profile just made sure there was more surface area to get in the way. Purpose-designed traditional hunting rifles are generally lower-profile, smoother, sleeker – easier to carry once you don’t need them anymore and you’re dragging 170 pounds of dead ungulate weight behind you.
Also – a reasoning that has somewhat more validity – bolt-action and single-actions are USUALLY more accurate than their semi-auto, lever, or pump counterparts. Yes, I know that there are hideously accurate semi-autos, and I’ve shot running deer at 150 yards with a lever action – but the bolt gun will be a bit more effective on little target critters at further distances due to its higher level of intrinsic accuracy. There are always exceptions to rules, but this is a statement I decided to bank on, based on personal experience and expected usage for the rifle.
Optics/Sights– This is a no-brainer. I need to be able to scope the rifle for longer-ranged shots. However, I like redundancy in my firearm sighting methods, so I’d like to be able to have the provision for iron sights. Scopes fog up, batteries run out, slips and falls leave firearms crashing to the ground (probably onto the largest, harshest, most abrasive rock in three counties) and optics get jarred out of alignment or damaged. A backup set of iron sights – no matter how rudimentary – is just a nice piece of security to have.
Lighter Weight– Again, another no-brainer. The less your rifle weighs, the more likely you will have it with you, and the more convenient it will be. The scaled-down action size of the smaller calibers I was looking at help a lot in this department. I almost bought or sought several different firearms that neatly fit the bill; they were all quite capable and fully met my needs…I just never seemed to pull the trigger (pun intended).
I was drawn to the CZ 527. A nifty little scaled-down carbine with a detachable box magazine, it comes in .22 Hornet and .223 (and interestingly, 7.62x39mm Russian…interesting…). But they are difficult to find ‘round these parts due to their popularity and immense handiness, and I ended up finding my solution before I found one of these.
The H&R Handi-Rifle was a great option, too – and I almost ordered one up. They are rugged, dependable, no-nonsense, inexpensive break-open single-shot rifles that feature interchangeable calibers by swapping out the barrels. I’ve had a lot of fun with these rifles over the years, and they certainly hold a special place in my heart. They come in .22 Hornet and .223, (and lots of other calibers and gauges) with black synthetic stocks that lend themselves well to a beat-around rifle. I know it wasn’t walnut or terribly unique, so I kept looking despite the utility.
The Remington 799 is a scaled-down version of the fabled Mauser 98 action, and if I had seen one in .22 Hornet, .222, or .223 (all standard calibers for the rifle), I might have scoffed one up in a heartbeat if it was of decent quality – I had never actually seen one, but the specs look good. Of course, another Savage 23 or a Winchester 43 would have been lovely – but alas, not for sale in my neck of the woods.
The Solution Presents Itself
After the mildly devastating loss of the vintage Savage .22 Hornet, I was on the hunt. No gun shop in the locale was safe from my perusal. There were lots of options that would have fit the bill, but Captain Gun Snob was being fussy. I wanted something a bit different….
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One day, my wife and I were skimming through the local Cabelas, and somehow she actually followed me into the gun library (it hasn’t happened again since, I’ve noticed…). She was present at my side when I sucked in a deep gasp and quickly opened one of the upper glass cases to reach for the gloriousness of a rifle that had caught my eye.
A 1950’s-manufactured Sako L-46 “Riihimäki” in .222 Remington, complete with graceful full-length “Mannlicher” style stock, detachable 3-round magazine, and vintage steel-tube El Paso Weaver K4 fixed 4x scope in Redfield Jr. rings had my complete and undivided attention. I fell in such instant and complete lust with the trim, beautiful little rifle that I didn’t even care if my wife saw the $1,199.00 price tag (which she did). I put the rifle on layaway, and a few too-slow weeks later, the rifle came home with me. My wishes had come true and the fun began.
I stocked up on factory ammo and empty brass where I could find it, and I’ve spent a very joyful past few months developing a handload that shoots well. I also replaced the charming (but prone to fogging) Weaver K4 with a vintage Leupold M8 fixed 4x scope that is a perfect match for the rifle. A canvas sling was added, and the rifle has reached “perfection” status in my eyes. It propels a 50-grain Hornady soft-point varmint bullet at 3200 feet per second out of the 23-inch barrel, and can group 5 of them into a neat 1-inch cluster at 100 yards. The rifle has a hooded front sight, and I found an ultra-rare Redfield scope mount with an integral flip-up aperture rear sight. It rides delightfully next to a pack on my shoulder or in my hand,and fulfills every one of my requirements. I’m a happy camper, mission accomplished!
Yeah, But Does This Have Anything to do With Survival?
Some of you may just view this as bombastic gun bragging, and maybe it is to a small degree. But more than that, I’m trying to portray that there are other options – quality, graceful options – out there to fulfill the needs of the forager/scout/pest control mission. I know that for many individuals, the AR-15 or other military-type platforms are distasteful, impractical, unneeded, or unwanted, and commercial hunting rifle offerings punch the ticket nicely. The AR and other platforms are truly versatile and may be a better way to go if you’re on a one-gun budget for SHTF-type needs, but if you have other plans for scouting, small-to-medium game hunting, or pest eradication post-SHTF, why not have another rifle that doesn’t use your stockpile of “oh no” ammo? Why not have a rifle that says “Hunter” or “Rancher” instead of “Prepper” or “Survivalist” or “Military”? And truth be told, the day may come when your AR-15 or similar rifle may not be able to see the light of day due to legislation; you’ll still want to be able to have a quality, accurate rifle on your shoulder that is capable of pulling off multi-mission duty and not set off alarms. A rifle that shares a common caliber as your SHTF rifle may be a great idea too (like the CZ527 carbine in .223 to compliment your AR). Just food for thought.
What do you think? Do you have a secondary/scouting type rifle in your plans? Or does your situation and prepping make a rifle such as this unnecessary? Sound off in the comments!
Photos Courtesy of:
Lauren Nicole Photography
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I really want a nice AR-15. So I started shopping. But with three kids and higher priorities in life, my philosophy on firearm purchases has always been “quality over quantity.” My wife and I agree on this, thankfully. So when I told her I would like to buy a high-end AR-15 starting at around $2000, she didn’t blink an eye. Just told me to do my research and find a good one.
I did a lot of research when I built the Ultimate AR-15 Link List post and I have spent a lot of time on each of those sites. I’ve also picked up a stack of magazines specific to the topic. I’ve read the reviews and decided what the minimum features were that I wanted; a very minimal AR, flat top, no built-in sights. I plan to get a small red dot or a reflex sight. I don’t need quad rails on the hand guard. I don’t plan to have a bunch of lights, lasers or grip. I want a 16″ threaded stainless steel barrel so that I can buy a silencer if I want. I want a nice trigger that is smoother than the stock one. I also want a billet upper and lower instead of forged. That isn’t asking too much right?!
Several of the manufactures offer everything I want and so I started making a short list with just those sites. Then I picked up a copy of Ballistic magazine it was the Summer 2016 issue. On the front cover was an incredible looking AR-15 that really impressed me. I read the article and just became more and more interested in it. The AR was made by F-1 Firearms. Honestly I had never heard of them. But found them for my prior post. Then I saw that they were based out of Spring, TX. For those who don’t know, Spring is a suburb of Houston, TX on the north west side and it’s really close to where I live.
After reading that article, my research focus turned to F-1 Firearms. What I found was damn impressive. This one small company produces 100% of the important parts of the rifle; the barrel, compensator, upper, lower and the bolt carrier group are all produced in house. Then they use high-end accessories — buttstock, grip, charging handle, and trigger for example — from third-party sellers to complete the build. After learning all this, I was sold on F-1 Firearms and their product. I’d found my AR-15. But I wanted to know more, so I contacted F-1 Firearms and requested an interview and a tour of their facilities. Unfortunately, they don’t do tours. But they did allow me to send a list of questions. Here is the result:
Q: Tell me the F-1 Firearms elevator speech. What would you say if you only had 30 seconds to tell a stranger about F-1 Firearms?
A: F-1 Firearms is the leading manufacturer of semi-automatic rifles and components out of Spring, TX. We utilize state-of-the-art machining combined with the best in industry materials and metals to produce cutting edge, precision based, weapons systems. Our rifles are extremely accurate, sub MOA, and hand finished so every customer can truly see first-hand the accuracy and quality. We stand behind and love our products so much, we offer a 100% product warranty for life on each and every F-1 firearm or component.
Q: How many competitive shooters do you sponsor? Who are they?
A: We sponsor 7 competitive shooters:
|Dennis “Lunchbox” Bechtel||?|
Q: When first designing your rifles, who did you think would be your biggest customer? Were you right, or has your biggest customer ended up being an entirely different group?
Q: Why are you Texas based?
A: We are Texas based because this is where the owner and founder lives and owns another business.
Q: What effect do you feel that another Democratic presidency will have on the gun trade? There is a lot of talk about gun control. How does that affect F-1 and/or the industry?
A: We feel that another democratic presidency will boost sales in the short term (6-9 months post-election) with a plateau 12-18 months out until new Democratic legislation is brought to vote. Instituting tighter Gun control and infringing on the second amendment will most certainly hurt the firearms industry. Luckily with our state-of-the-art machines, we can easily machine aerospace and healthcare products just as easily as firearms.
Q: Do you plan on chambering your rifles in additional calibers? If yes, which one is next?
A: We already produce rifles in 5.56 NATO, .300AAC, 7.62x39mm, .308 WIN, 6.5 Creedmoor. We do have a bolt action coming out soon that will tackle some different calibers.
Q: Have you been able to get one of your rifles into a television or movie yet? If so, which ones?
A: Our rifles have been on television (The Big Gun, Outdoor Channel) and we are actively going into the new Deathwish movie as well as the new Mr. Wick.
Q: Why are optics not an option on all rifles? Either red dot or long distance scopes?
A: We manufacture rifles and components of those rifles. We do not make any optics and in the attempt to manage inventories, carrying a storefront worth of optics would mean we are losing focus on our mission.
Q: Any Cinderella stories? Do you have anyone at F-1 Firearms that started out in a career field totally unrelated to firearms, and then end up in their dream job at F-1?
A: There are a few of us who started out in unrelated industries but we eventually all wound up here where our passion lives. We enjoy working at F-1 Firearms, we make some of the finest rifles on the planet, we have a great team, and every day is different. Its hard to beat that.
Q: What percentage of your customers are female?
A: We sell to a lot of females because of the weight reduction and very light recoil. I would say we sell to probably 25% women. However our social media following is nearly 95% men.
Q: Without giving away any proprietary information, will you tell us how rifles are made? What is the overall process? How do rough materials become a rifle? How long does it take? How many people are involved?
A: For the Chassis we start with raw 7075 T6 Aluminum Alloy that is machined down to a raw upper, lower, or handguard. They are then hand finished and media blasted. The next step is Anodizing. After Ano the parts are pulled for each build. All in all each rifle is touched by a minimum of 12 people in our process.
Thank you F-1 Firearms!
This is me with my brand new BDR-15-3G Billet Full Build Rifle.
When the soldiers left the ships to fight in that big war to end all wars, the troops were all carrying a webbed belt around the outside of their coats or jackets. This webbed belt carried a wide variety of accessory pouches for ammo, weapons magazines, medical supplies, a canteen, maybe a holster for a 1911 Colt .45 and other optional gear items. The external webbed belt kept the gear weight well distributed around the waist and easy to access. Some web gear units even had shoulder straps.
Without carrying these immediate need items on the pants belt itself, the soldiers would not have their trousers weighted down or pulling excessively at the waist. Also this web belt could be quickly detached to set aside, however these rigs were usually carried at all times.
Today, preppers and survivalists would do well to copy this gear carry mode themselves. In fact, such rigs are once again finding favor with outdoors enthusiasts from hunters, campers, hikers, and survivalists working around bug out camps. These external belt rigs can be customized to easily carry needed items that are used often or that can be reached or deployed quickly. With a little planning and thought, such an outside carry belt can be easily designed and outfitted. What gear should be added to such a rig? Make a list then narrow down the choices.
Also Read: Pistol Bug Out Bag For Under $500
Start with a heavy duty belt. Some still like and carry the old military surplus webbed belts and these can work with the proper accessory attachments. Better yet is a thick leather belt that will not bend or bind with a load. I bought a double layered leather 1.5 inch wide belt recently off the rack at Cabela’s. It is super stiff, but will become more pliable with use. It has a good brass buckle. Now I see carry belts with steel lining inserts to add further strength.
Make sure whatever belt you get is large enough with enough adjustment holes to fit over outer clothing including light jackets as well as heavy coats. It may be best to wear a coat into the supplier or retailer to get a proper fit over the outer garment. Try on different styles to see what seems to work best.
Gear to Attach and Carry
So, what to hang on such a belt? The first thing that comes to mind is a sidearm weapon in a holster. This of course can be any handgun that you use confidently and have practiced with often. Likely you wear this outdoors, so if working on a farm, ranch, bug out camp or similar environment, you may want a handgun with substantial enough power to dispatch varmints or other intruders that might invade your space.
The most common choices that most will pick include a 9mm or a .45 ACP. Revolver shooters will pick a .357 Magnum (for which .38 Special ammo can be used), a 44 Magnum (with .44 Special ammo) or perhaps a .45 Long Colt. Obviously other choices are available, too. One of my personal favorites being the .41 Magnum in a Smith model 57 or 58.
Your handgun choice can be fitted to any number of holster types and styles that suit your uses best. Pick a heavy duty, durable holster with good gun retention. A safety strap is not a bad idea, because when working outdoors and such you do not want any likelihood of the firearm dropping out of the holster or being snatched out by a tree limb or vine or trespasser.
Next besides a weapon would probably be a good camp knife. The blade choice should be something between a hunting knife, general purpose Bowie, or heavy blade that can do some chopping along with regular field cutting tasks. An ESEE #6 comes to mind. If you want or need a pocket knife sized utility blade or two, then carry one of those, too in a smaller scabbard.
Now comes all the options that preppers, farmers, or other outdoors workers might choose specifically for the kinds of field work they are performing. It might be a hatchet or small hand ax, a mini-first aid kit with meds, a canteen, compass, cell phone w/case, ammo pouch or pistol two-magazine pouch, bear spray, other accessory pouches (forestry tape, bright eyes, paracord, insect repellant, small digital camera, snacks and nabs, fire lighter, flashlight, multi-tool or other gear items). The balance in picking these items is not to unduly weigh down your belt rig.
Wearing the Rig
Where to wear or use this belt rig? Obviously, outdoors, but such a rig could be worn while working inside and out around the bug out camp, farmhouse, barn, or other situation. It should be an easy take along when riding an ATV, UTV, or even a horse or tractor. The rig would be ideal for walking the property to inspect fences, gates, and for security observation.
The belt rig would be good for hiking trips, too, assuming such carry is permitted on public use trails. WWII soldiers found great utility in the everyday carry of their gear over their coats with a webbed belt. It spread the weight around the waist, but gave immediate access to needed items. Preppers and survivalists can adopt this type of rig for many uses performing a variety of tasks. Be creative in how you design your belt rig so it becomes a real go-to gear carry option.
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Ricky Bryant has not used a regular hunting rifle for years. By regular he means a standard hunting rifle with a factory barrel. Why? Because Bryant of Clinton, Mississippi is owner and operator of BMS Machine short for Bryant’s Machine Shop on Highway 80 East in Clinton. What Ricky probably does not realize is that his shop is making an excellent rifle for prepping and survival work. Quiet, mean, and effective.
Among all the many machined parts for multiple industrial applications that BMS manufacturers in house, Ricky and his team including his mom and dad that work in the business also makes firearm suppressors for all types of firearms. Oh, they also make a customized line of AR rifles and rimfires for sport shooting, self-defense, hunting and of course, prepping.
Suppressor Hunting for Survival Foraging
“We got into hunting with suppressed or “silenced” rifles a number of years ago. We designed our own custom suppressors which are devices that screw mount onto the muzzle of an appropriate rifle. A suppressor actually muffles the muzzle blast sound of a centerfire or rimfire firearm, but many people mistakenly call them a silencer. We make suppressors”, says Ricky Bryant.
“Several of my hunting buddies and me started hog hunting and this is much easier with suppressed rifles. We hunt at night with thermal and night vision gear. Using a suppressed rifle allows us to shoot multiple targets often without disturbing the whole group of pigs. If you were using a regular rifle, after one shot, every pig in the field would be gone in a flash,” stated Bryant. All of the principles that Ricky discusses are just as applicable to prep survival, too.
Related: The AR-15 Discreet Carry Kit
“Over time we have gained a reputation for dispensing with wild hogs, and now landowners are contacting us to help thin their pig populations. It is amazing the damage a group of hogs can do to a field crop or a hay pasture. They just plow it up to the point that a farmer or landowner cannot even drive over the land. We enjoy taking care of those problems.”
Bryant Prepping ARs
Bryant says, “My hunting crew is really into using AR rifles for hunting. While we primarily started hunting hogs, now we make rifles for deer hunting, and even rimfire models for small game, pest control and just general fun shooting.” “We started displaying at outdoor shows and various venues, and the interest in our rifles has really expanded. Virtually every rifle we make is a customized model detailed out by the buyer. Sure, we have standard models for sale now, but the real fun part is making a rifle that fits exactly what the shooter wants.”
“Our ARs come with dozens of options including choices for lower and upper units decked out especially for the customer. We offer a wide variety of handguard types, materials, textures, and profile. We have a selection of custom color coatings that can be anything from matte black, camouflage to an American flag red, white, and blue, if that is what the customer wants. We can do custom engraving, and a customer can even specify a custom serial number that will be registered and unique to that one rifle only.”
Also Check Out: Do You Really Need An AR-15
While visiting the BMS shop I was able to see and handle a wide selection of display models that Ricky keeps on hand. It is amazing the custom details a shooter or hunter can get in an AR rifle or a rimfire like a Ruger 10-22. Any of BMS’s rifles can be suppressed or come as regular stock barreled rifles. The choices are endless.
Suppressed Hunting Cartridges
“We offer a pretty wide selection of AR rifle chamber choices, but of course we have our favorites after hunting with these rifles for years now. The most common chamber caliber choices we offer includes the ever popular .223 or 5.56, and the .22-250 for varmint and predator hunting,” Bryant explained “For hog and even deer hunting we chamber the 300 AAC or Blackout as it is known in some circles. This chamber can be made up for either a suppressed or regular barrel for different types of hunting. The same is true for the 6.8 SPC, which is one of my personal favorites. The 6.8 is devastating on pigs, and it is a good over all choice for deer hunting as well under regular hunting conditions. We also make AR rifle platforms for the larger .308 Winchester for those hunters that want more power and knock down energy.”
Getting A Suppressor Rifle
According to Bryant, “We help the customer through the whole process of designing their rifle and the suppressor they want, then we help with the processing of the federal BATF paperwork application required to legally own a suppressed firearm. Many people do not know that owning a suppressed rifle is even legal, but it is.” Check with your local state laws. “Our suppressors cost about $650 depending on what features the customer wants. Then they pay a $200 NFA (National Firearms Act) fee to obtain the suppressor owner permit.
We advise suppressor owners to set up a legal trust for the permit application and we walk them through that process as well. Once the permit is received back from the BATF, then we can build the suppressor and legally install it on the customer’s rifle and they are ready to go,” says Bryant. If you think hunting or shooting a suppressed rifle especially a custom AR of your own design sounds exciting, then check out the BMS web site or give Ricky a call at the number listed. If you can dream it up, Ricky and his team can build it.
Read More: Flash Suppressor and Muzzle Break Options
Obviously, the hunting applications of a suppressed rifle are beneficial in so many ways, but there is more to it for preppers. During a SHTF and your team is on lock down at home or off to an alternative site, a quiet suppressed rifle has real advantages. There are many times when you want to keep your location a secret and what better way if you have to fire upon targets 4-footed, or two. A suppressed rifle make this possible.
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Whenever the headlines carry news of a new law that limits our 2nd Amendment rights, conversations will often come around to the subject of burying guns or creating a survival cache of some sorts. If not firearms, people talk about burying silver and gold, ammunition, cash, important documents, even caching food storage or fuel on the path to a bug out location. I even know of people who bury gear at their bug out location in the event it is compromised before they reach it.
By Joe Nobody
While I know of no law that would prevent someone from stashing stacks of canned beans and birth certificates, one must be fully aware of the laws in his/her own locale when it comes to burying guns or ammunition. Take the state of Massachusetts, for example: The law requires guns to be stored in a specific manner. All guns, when not in use, with the exception of primitive firearms, must be stored or kept “secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device,” to prevent unauthorized use. Penalties are assessed even if no underage person obtains access (source).
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I’m no lawyer, but it’d seem to me that you’d be violating the law if you’re burying guns in Massachusetts. So – stay mindful of the laws in your area if you’re seriously considering the subterranean storage of guns or ammunition. Even if you find it is legal – is it safe or wise to do so? What if a stranger discovers to tomb? Could children? Those are questions for you to answer. Stay legal. Stay safe.
Guns, ammo, gear, precious metals, and most anything you deem necessary can be buried in a variety of different containers, the extent to which goes beyond the scope of this post. Here we’re focusing on one type of container, the Mono Vault. The Mono Vault is a ready-to-bury storage tube. Constructed of a one-piece molded body, there are no joints along the sides or on the bottom that could leak.
This type of product represents the simplest, fastest, most convenient way to get your goods safely in the ground. Looking like a large PVC pipe with sealed ends, it functions in much the same way. While the tubes do not come cheap, once one goes about pricing similarly-sized PVC pipes, and factors in the value of one’s time, there’s a new appreciation and understanding of the pricing, and the product itself. The tubes come in a variety of different sizes, and all function in the same manner, but for purposes of this post, we’ll be looking at three in particular: the 110s, 130s, and 248s. Each has similar construction, coming in either black or olive drab. The “s” denotes standard wall construction of 1/4”. The top of the containers have a large-mouth spin-on lid with o-ring seal, and atop that sits another cover, the “Burial Shield,” that looks much like the top of a landmine.
Also Read: Implementing A Secondary Survival Cache
The 110s has an inside diameter of 9 3/4” and an inside depth of 7 1/2”. The 130s has a diameter of 9 3/4” and a depth of 23 3/8”. The Mono Vault 248 has a whopping diameter of 12 1/4” and a depth of 45”! Dimensions, diameter, and depth – blah, blah, blah. The real question here is – how much stuff can you cram into these things? Well, we found out. This is the Mono Vault 248 with everything we crammed into it:
- A mid-length AR with collapsible stock, five 30-round magazines, and 1,075 rounds of 5.56,
- A Ruger 10/22 and 1,275 rounds of .22lr,
- A Remington 870 shotgun and eighty 12-gauge shotgun shells,
- A S&W Shield with spare magazine and 450 rounds of 9mm,
- A crank-powered radio,
- A large survival knife,
- Small pair of binoculars,
- A small bag of various “survival” tools (fire-marking products, few first aid products, etc.),
- Small solar panels for charging batteries, and best of all,
- #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.
Look into the top with all of this gear, there’s still room for more. If we’d been more careful with the packing, made boxed ammo into loose ammo, we could have easily double the amount of ammo and packed another 45 servings of freeze dried chocolate drink. For the 130s, we packed what you see pictured:
- A mid-length AR with collapsible stock (upper separated from lower), five 30-round magazines, and 925 rounds of 5.56,
- A S&W Shield with spare magazine and 450 rounds of 9mm,
- A crank-powered radio,
- A large survival knife,
- Small pair of binoculars,
- A small bag of various “survival” tools (fire-marking products, few first aid products, etc.),
- Small solar panels for charging batteries, and best of all,
- #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.
For the Mono Vault 110, we packed what you see pictured:
- a S&W Shield with spare magazine and 100 rounds of 9mm, and best of all,
- #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.
Burying Your Mono Vault!
Bury your tube before filling it, or you may be carrying a very heavy tube. The makers of the Mono Vault write: “Your Mono Vault will float. While this is great on the water, it is not so good in burial applications. Clay soils of an excavated hole can inhibit drainage of any water that may collect. Water collected in the hole can impart tremendous floating forces on your Mono Vault, driving it to the surface and then some. It is advisable to anchor your vault effectively with appropriate compaction or the addition of hardening or sealing agents. A few sacks of concrete in the clean bottom of your backfill can serve to anchor the vault to the bottom of the hole. Use caution with concrete in the vicinity of the lid as most concretes will shrink as they cure and may cause some distortion of the vault and critical sealing surfaces. Choose your site carefully to avoid natural drainages that may direct water to your vault. Slightly sloped or cresting locations may be best.”
Surround the tube with crushed stone before back filling it could offer additional protection. If you’re concerned about the possibility of someone hunting for your cache with a metal detector, you can always throw rusty, scrap metal (old nails, cans, etc.) around the site to help throw people off.
Also Read: Raid Routes
The manufacturer also writes: “In high frost areas where the ground freezes deeper than the cover soil, it may be advisable to cover your Mono Vault with a piece of foam insulation below the cover soil and extending a couple of feet out from the perimeter of the vault. This insulation can reduce freezing of the soils around the neck of the Mono Vault and the resulting pressures and possible distortion. Be aware that such insulation can also slow snow melt so don’t use a square piece that will leave an unnatural looking residual snow pile.
The landmine-looking Burial Shield will help direct water away from the lid, and it protects against possible shovel damage as it is being recovered. The shield will keep the lid area clear of dust and dirt that could otherwise enter the tube when you open it, potentially compromising the unit when it’s resealed.
How Are You Going To Mark Your Site?
Are you going to be able to find it when it’s time? You can identify the site by remembering natural landmarks, making note of them, or by using a portable GPS—just make sure you have good satellite reception. A 10’ difference could mean a whole lot of digging in search for it. There are additional products you can buy to protect the contents. “NoRust” storage bags are available for guns, and your standard desiccants will work wonders for sealing moisture out. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could always use cosmoline on your guns. And remember—never whisper about the location of your cache! What would YOU bury? How would you bury it? I welcome your comments.
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One of the best things about the AR-15 platform is the amount of options available to shooters today.
Owners can customize the rifle to their own needs with thousands of aftermarket options, from grips and stocks to barrels, sights, rails and other accessories. The AR-15 is of the most user-friendly rifles in the world, and all of these modifications can be performed with basic hand tools. For the ultimate “custom rifle,” the AR-15 can be completely built from the ground up.
Some authorities on rifles will point out that manufacturers are continuously responding to the needs of buyers and that virtually any configuration desired by a shooter can be had in a factory configuration. This is sound advice, as most “home-built” AR-15s can quickly approach the cost of a custom rifle and will not have any warranty or other method to protect the buyer in case of error. The $100-$300 saved can be of small solace if the rifle has a part that is out of spec, causing a catastrophic failure.
However, some shooters look at building their own rifle as more of a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction rather than force of economics, if only for the bragging rights of being able to say: “I built it myself.”
Let’s take a look at the specifics of building an AR-15, concentrating on a few tips that always make the job easier.
How to Build an AR-15: Lower Receiver
The lower receiver is the “part” that makes an AR-15 a firearm. “Lowers” must be transferred through a federal firearm licensee (FFL). Sometimes a lower receiver can be purchased as already completed with the fire control group, stock, pistol grip, bolt catch, magazine catch and takedown pins installed. However, stripped lower receivers containing none of these parts can be purchased from some manufacturers. Additionally, 80 percent receivers can be purchased which require some machining and refinishing to be performed. Such a build is beyond the scope of this article, so we will begin with the presumption that the builder is starting off with a stripped lower receiver.
When selecting a lower receiver, the shooter has a variety of choices. Some “boutique-type” manufacturers make runs with unique markings, pictograms or serial numbers. When assembling a bare lower receiver, the prospective builder will need the following tools:
- roll pin punches
- vise grips
- torque wrench
- rubber mallet
- brass hammer
- set screws
- wire cutter
- CLP/ Break Free
How to Build an AR-15: Protecting the Receiver
One of the hazards of any home gunsmithing project is accidentally peening or scratching the receiver. The AR-15 is prone to this, as assembly requires the use of hammers and punches. The best advice to prevent this is to use thin strips of cardboard and masking tape to “mummify” the receiver and protect it from an errant hammer strike.
The easiest step is the installation of the magazine catch. The catch goes into the lower receiver from the left-hand side. The “magazine catch spring” and the magazine release button are then inserted into the right-hand side. The builder must keep pressure on the magazine release button while turning the catch clockwise. Once the catch grabs the threads of the button, it can be released. A takedown tool can then be used to press the button further into the lower; allowing the catch to be installed in the proper position when the shaft of the catch is flush with the face of the button. The magazine catch can be tested by inserting an empty magazine into the magazine well and ensuring that the catch locks into the magazine and allows it to drop free when the magazine release button is pressed.
Probably the most problematic part of the build is installing the bolt catch. There are two holes separated by one-fourth of an inch on the receiver; the catch must fit in between these holes and then a pin is driven through to hold them in place. Traditionally this is done via a long pin which is struck by a hammer, and when done incorrectly can mar the receiver or damage the part. The safest way to install the catch is to use a padded vise grips and squeeze the pin into place.
The front take-down or pivot pin requires a brass detent and a spring and is tricky to install; however, once installed it seldom if ever needs to be removed. The detent spring is placed in the channel with the detent on top. The brass detent will center itself on the detent spring and can be pushed into place. The front pivot pin can then be pushed through the takedown holes in the receiver to lock it in place. The detent will be under a great deal of spring tension and it is possible for the part to slip and send both detent and spring airborne. For this reason, some builders install this part with their hands, the detent, spring and lower receiver inside a large clear plastic bag. If the parts go flying, they can be recovered. It is advisable to apply a small amount of CLP or Break Free to this area to ease installation. Once in place, the pivot pin should be worked back and forth a few times to ensure the detent has seated properly.
How to Build an AR-15: Detents Made Easy
A frustrating part of an AR-15 build has always been the various detents and detent springs. Initial installation is not too bad, but whenever the end-user wants to change a stock or a pistol grip there is always the possibility of either deforming the spring or losing one of the detents. One method to prevent this is threading the detent channels, cutting the springs and sealing the spring and detent with a set-screw. These two areas are for the rear take-down pin near the butt stock and the safety detent near the pistol grip.
These two areas should be cleaned first by blowing compressed air into them from either an air compressor or a can of compressed air found at an office supply store. The builder can then work a 4-44 tap into the channel, threading it into the aluminum and backing it off several times until the pitch of the threads has been set. The detents are then inserted and the springs cut down by at least one-eighth of an inch. Lastly, these channels can be capped with a 1/8-inch set screw. When installed in this manner, the builder no longer needs to worry about losing or deforming these small parts when changing out grips or stocks later.
For the rear takedown detent, the rear takedown pin is installed first. The detent is then dropped through the channel with the spring behind it. If the builder has opted to tap the channel and trim the spring, it can now be capped off with the set screw. If not, this step will be saved for later.
How to Build an AR-15: Fire Control Group
The fire control group may be the second easiest stage in assembly. The disconnector spring is placed on the trigger. The squared portion of the trigger spring is then placed on the sear and in front of the trigger. As a single unit it is installed into the lower receiver and held in place by the trigger pin. This allows for installation of the hammer, and the hammer spring’s legs are set against the top of the trigger pin. The hammer can then be moved forward to line up with the hole for the hammer pin, which can now be tapped into place. Some aftermarket match grade trigger systems contain all of these parts in a single unit which is simply dropped in and retained by the appropriate pins.
Your safety selector presses in from the left-hand side of the receiver and requires installation of the safety detent and spring, with the detent engaging the safety. If the builder has opted to tap the channel and trim the spring, the spring can now be installed on top of the detent and can now be capped off with the set screw. If not, the pistol grip must be installed.
The pistol grip fits into place and is secured by a single screw into the receiver. If the detent channel is threaded with detent and spring installed and capped off, this is a simple affair. If not, then the detent is seated against the selector and the spring rides in a channel on the pistol grip itself. The builder must take care not to crush or deform this spring while installing the pistol grip.
If your lower does not have an integrated trigger guard, then you need to install one. The trigger guard attaches by a contained detent that fits into a recess on the front of the guard; the rear is then moved into position and held in place by a roll pin.
The last part of the build is the installation of the butt stock. If the rear take-down detent has been installed and capped off, this step will be easier. The buffer tube is then threaded into the rear of the receiver. Prior to engaging the threads over the buffer detent, the builder needs to insert the buffer detent spring and buffer detent. The buffer tube is now threaded to slightly engage the threads just prior to the halfway point over the detent. The butt stock slides over the buffer tube and is installed via a screw in the rear of the buffer tube. Finally, the buffer detent is depressed and the buffer and action spring are installed inside the buffer tube.
In the case of a collapsible stock, assembly differs in that an end plate and castle nut are installed with the buffer tube. The plate engages the rear of the receiver and the castle nut holds it in place.
If the rear detent spring has not been capped off with its channel threaded, the builder needs to install this part prior to the buffer tube. Great care must be taken to not crush or deform the spring in this process.
What AR-15 building tips would you add? Share your advice in the section below:
So we know to try to keep any severe damage from happening to our precious magazines – that one’s a no-brainer. But we also need to be aware that during normal use and training, magazines get dropped onto the ground, which is the natural habitat of mud, dirt, dust, snow, small bugs, standing and/or running water, and sand. Also, carbon and powder fouling (especially from suppressed guns), lead, copper, and brass debris from the cartridges will become denizens of the magazine just through normal use.
Next To Godliness
Let this crap build up, and eventually, your mag ain’t gonna run no’ mo’. So you train and shoot… and as a happy consequence, you now have some cruddy magazines. What kind of maintenance do we need to do to keep these crucial systems from becoming your gun’s Achilles heel?
Related: Rifle Magazine Management Strategies
Luckily, MOST modern box magazines can be easily disassembled for cleaning, so you don’t have to make do with turning the mag upside down and shaking to get the sand out via cartridge count holes. This will be a general guide on magazine disassembly – I heartily recommend you perform a little internet/YouTube research or consult your local gunsmith for a magazine disassembly consultation for your specific firearm if it doesn’t seem to work with what I’m outlining here. As stated previously, your standard magazine has just a few parts: the magazine body, the magazine follower, the magazine spring, the magazine insert, and the baseplate.
Magazine Body: The outside sheathing of the magazine, that encapsulates all the parts to the magazine as well as the cartridges. Usually steel, aluminum, or polymer.
Magazine Follower: This component provides a bearing surface for the magazine spring to exert pressure on the cartridges, as well as helping to provide proper alignment to the cartridges. Usually steel or polymer, can be seen through the open end of the magazine when the magazine is empty.
Magazine Spring: A steel coil spring (with very few exceptions). Provides the upward force to feed the ammunition from the bottom of the magazine, out into the gun.
Magazine Insert: A small, flat component that sits inside the magazine body and uses the spring’s tension, combined with a small tab or detent, to keep the baseplate locked in place. Usually steel or polymer.
Baseplate: The bottom flat plate of the magazine. Provides a bearing surface for the spring and keeps dirt and debris from entering the bottom of the magazine. Can be made of a multitude of materials; usually steel, aluminum, or plastic/polymer.
Tools needed are few. A small flat-headed screwdriver is useful for gentle prying, and a punch, or even a bullet nose or pen/pencil can be used to depress the magazine insert to unlock the baseplate. A rubber/plastic mallet or block of wood is useful for using gentle impact coercion to re-seat baseplates.
You won’t need many cleaning supplies, either. I like Q-tips and toothbrushes to get in the hard-to-reach tight areas, and a small, clean, dry rag and a short cleaning rod works pretty well to rid the magazine innards of detritus and debris. Unless your magazine has lots of carbon buildup, you shouldn’t need any solvents or cleaners – it’s best to wipe the magazine internals clean and leave the inside dry and oil-free.
Oil will attract dirt and dust…and it’s also possible penetrating oil can do what it was designed to do and work its way into cartridge primers, neutralizing the priming compound. If you’re in a high humidity or salt area, you can put an extremely light coat of oil on the magazine spring – but remember, it can attract and hold debris. The ONLY time I put heavy oil or grease on the inside of magazines is if they are going into seriously long-term storage. If this is the case, I will mark these magazines with a note that they must be cleaned before use.
For the visual purposes of this article, I’m going to use an AR-10 .308 Magpul PMAG, since these are the same internally as the PMAGs used by pretty much anyone with an AR…and conveniently, the disassembly principles are largely the same as many magazines that commonly used SHTF guns would utilize.
For most modern magazines, disassembly starts with removing the baseplate. The baseplate will usually have a small hole or slot where a protrusion from the magazine insert interfaces to keep the baseplate locked in place mechanically – see the oblong gray surface on the baseplate of this PMAG.
Take your punch and push this magazine insert down, dropping its tab down and out of its corresponding slot on the baseplate. This will allow the magazine baseplate to be pushed forward (sometimes backwards) off the magazine body.
If this is the first time the magazine has been apart, the baseplate will likely fight you to stay on the body. Likewise, if you have a steel magazine with a steel baseplate, you may have internal corrosion locking parts together. Here is where that mallet and/or screwdriver will come in handy. While keeping forward (towards the front of the magazine) pressure on the baseplate with your thumb, try tapping and/or gently prying the baseplate forward if needed. Once that baseplate starts moving forward, you won’t need to keep downward pressure on the magazine insert to keep it from jumping back into its slot in the baseplate.
Keep your thumb at the back of the baseplate and keep pushing forward over the open bottom end of the magazine. Use your thumb to keep control of the insert and magazine spring, as they are under spring tension – and once you pop that baseplate off, there’s nothing keeping the spring in check – and go flying it will. Keeping a thumb or palm over the magazine will help keep things under control.
Related: Sig Sauer P320 Review
Gradually release the spring tension (there can be quite a lot!), and then pull the spring and insert out. The magazine follower may or may not be stuck or locked onto the spring. If it is locked on, the follower will come out with the spring. If it is not, you may need to turn the magazine upside down to get the follower out.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to note the orientation of the spring, magazine insert, and follower – they only go back together one way that will allow the magazine to work! If you reassemble the mag and it doesn’t play nice, chances are a part was reassembled backwards, upside down – or missing altogether. Take a picture or make a sketch or use your eidetic memory for reference until you’ve done this a few times and gotten the hang of things. As I was re-assembling the magazine I took apart for purposes of this article, I actually put the magazine insert on the spring backwards and tried to re-assemble. Nope. It’s good to have reference points, whether you’re a first-timer at magazine work or a seasoned disassembly veteran.
While your magazine is apart, now is an excellent time for upgrades if you want them. Extra capacity baseplates, new stock or increased strength magazine springs, anti-tilt followers, and Ranger pull plates are all great upgrades depending on the magazine you have. Magazine parts are cheap, so if you predict heavy usage for certain magazines your own, throw a few bucks down and let them know they’ll be loved.
Also Read: The Easiest 100 Gallons Of Water Storage
Once you have performed your desired upgrades/maintenance/cleaning, it’s time to reassemble. Essentially this is assemble in reverse order: Magazine follower goes in first – usually it is attached to the magazine spring and not just free-floating. The spring follows the follower, and the magazine insert – also usually connected to the spring – goes in last. You’ll now have to compress the spring by pushing it down far enough into the magazine body to get the magazine floorplate started. Sometimes holding the spring tension in one hand and trying to wrangle the baseplate while holding the magazine body can be a little exciting – you might want to use a padded vise to hold the magazine body (careful not to crush the magazine body!) or borrow a friend to help hold things stable. I was able to get the spring in my Magpul PMAG back in by myself, but it took a couple tries.
The baseplate may need to be gently tapped back on. Just be sure to get it started on the magazine body as far as you can before starting to hit it. Keep the spring pushed down to keep it from catching on the baseplate and binding or kinking.
Once the baseplate is fully seated, the magazine insert should snap back into its baseplate hole securely. You may need to use your punch through the baseplate hole to align things properly – but everything should go together nicely once all the components find their correct homes. My PMAG went together slick with no tapping necessary, but it was relatively new.
- Glock Magazines can be a complete bear to disassemble, since the magazine bodies have small tabs that keep the baseplate locked in place. At my Glock armorer’s course, the instructor said to take a long, skinny tool like an allen wrench or a Glock disassembly tool, and insert it inside the magazine baseplate hole. Push the magazine insert out of the way, and use your tool as a lever to carefully pry against the inside of the magazine body. Careful – this method can damage your magazine if you’re a bit hamfisted. Once you get the baseplate moved forward about one quarter inch or so, take the tool out, position your thumb over the back of the baseplate, and push forward and off, using your thumb to keep the magazine spring and magazine insert from launching. When reassembling, use a small rubber mallet to tap the baseplate back over the tabs to lock in place.
Ruger 10/22 magazines are a different animal altogether, and the description on how to take them apart would fill an article in itself. Luckily, someone else has already done that, and the excellent instructions can be found by clicking here. I use these as reference when I work on my personal 10/22 magazines.
If you’re running a firearm that’s a bit different or you can’t find magazines anywhere, try looking at The Numrich Gun Parts Corporation. Brownells and Midway USA are pretty good sources too for entire magazines or replacement parts. However, I’ve found that far and away, the best luck I’ve had in sourcing oddball magazines is to stay diligent at your local gun shop’s bargain bins and used item bins (any good gun shop has them). They probably won’t be labelled – bring along a magazine for reference. eBay is an excellent source as well if you know what you’re looking for.
Safety glasses are nice for when springs and components go launching. Lots of spring tension usually associated with these activities.
A great many .22 pistol and rifle magazines won’t be very easily disassembled – I was reminded of this when I pulled out a Ruger Mark I magazine for pictures. Best to go online for your specific gun and do some disassembly research.
Wrapping It All Up
Yes, my article above is a little vague on details for specific magazines, and it was intended to be that way. No one article can sum up all the different specifics of each firearm’s feeding mechanism. However, as stated, most modern detachable box-type magazines follow the same basic design and you can probably figure things out on your own magazines with a little head-scratching and common sense.
Also Read: How To Choose An Urban Bug Out Bag
NOW is the time to sit down and learn how to de-crudify your magazines. Once the balloon goes up and you have to depend on your magazines – or salvaged magazines – to save your life, it’d sure be nice to have a basic knowledge and understanding of how magazines work and go together so you can keep your gear running. Having the knowledge to pull damaged magazines apart also helps, since you can cannibalize parts from damaged or found magazines to keep your magazines going.
How about you? Do you have any tips or comments on magazine maintenance you can share with your brethren? Sound off in the comments below!
All Photos By Drew
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The AR-15. AK-47. M1A. Glock 17. SIG Sauer P226. Colt 1911. S&W M&P. CZ-75. Beretta 92. Ruger 10/22. H&K MP5. Walther P22. All of these firearms each have an army of diehard pundits in the firearms world. You probably have at least one of them incorporated in your SHTF plans. It’s possible your very life and chances of survival will depend on one of these some day. However, they all have a common weakness, a vulnerability that can reduce these fine pieces of weaponry to single-shot, barely useful clubs: the detachable magazine.
Even though modern magazine designs, construction methods, and materials are top-notch, they can still fail. Neglect, slightly bent or damaged feed lips, worn magazine springs, sloppy followers, and/or just plain, simple dirt will positively destroy the functioning of an otherwise flawlessly-working gun…and these problems can be virtually undetectable if you don’t know what to look for. Therefore, magazine maintenance should be of the utmost priority – just as important as the cleanliness of the firearm – for anyone who plans on relying on an autoloading firearm when the chips are down.
Related: PMAG Torture Test
However, firearms with detachable magazines aren’t the only problem guns – your grandfather’s trusty old Winchester 1894 .30-30 lever action could have magazine problems. So could the Remington 870 you leave with a loaded magazine in the closet in case of emergency. If your gun is a magazine-fed repeater – detachable or fixed – that feeding system needs to be taken care of. It’s your gun’s lifeblood…and by extension, that means it could be your lifeblood as well. Magazine maintenance is probably the most purposely neglected (“I’ll get it later…”) and/or forgotten aspect of gun cleaning, but it could be considered one of the most important. (We’ll address fixed magazine guns in a future article.)
The Detachable Magazine
The detachable magazine comes in a myriad shapes, sizes, lengths, capacities, colors, and methods of construction. However, the vast majority of “box” magazine designs have similar components: the magazine body, the magazine follower, the locking plate, and the baseplate. Rotary type magazines (such as the Ruger 10/22’s nifty little cartridge feeder) are a bit of a different animal, but the principles are the same – they just keep the cartridges in a circular holding pattern inside the magazine, instead of in a straight vertical stack. Generally, magazines are very simple in design, and really, with just a bit of semi-regular maintenance and cleaning, they will be virtually trouble-free. Most of the parts don’t require replacing or fixing; the only component that may need to be replaced is the magazine spring if the magazine hasn’t seen any damage.
Concerning the spring: you’ve probably heard/read the age-old debate: does leaving magazines loaded for an extended period of time weaken the springs? The general consensus from magazine manufacturers seems to be that leaving them loaded, even over years, does not induce spring failure. Far and away, the most common cause of spring failure is the fatigue caused by constant loading and unloading. Nobody can put a finger on an exact number of rounds that it takes to make a magazine spring fail, so a good way to keep an eye on things is to get a paint marker or silver Sharpie and number your magazines.
Also Read: SHTF Armorer AR15 Bolt Carrier Group
Try to keep a general round count of the number of rounds that have been put through them if possible. When one of your magazines starts to fail or cause firearm malfunctions, (this usually takes thousands of rounds) check the magazine’s round count and use that as a guideline for the other magazines of the same make and capacity. Replace the magazine spring accordingly, at appropriate intervals. Some of us may never run enough rounds through a gun to have to worry about this issue…but it’s always good to have an extra magazine spring or, even better, extra magazine(s) kicking around, just in case.
Another issue: If you drop your magazine on the feed lips and bend them, you have a problem. Most magazines I’ve run have never had a spring failure, but have suffered damage from being dropped onto the feed lips. If you have a polymer magazine like a Magpul PMAG, chances are pretty good you’re still in business. However, steel magazine bodies that have damaged feed lips are probably not worth keeping.
Related: Survival Armorer Basic Kit
You can try to bend them back to factory spec, but the metal has been fatigued, and now has an excellent starting fracture point for future breaking or malforming. If you’re not in a dire SHTF situation, pull the magazine apart, keep the baseplate, spring, and follower, and junk the magazine body. It’s not worth the headache and possible failure to try making the old magazine work. A new magazine is a few bucks – a failure in a survival situation could mean death. Don’t hedge your bets if you don’t have to.
The same goes for the magazine body: if you accidentally step on a steel/aluminum magazine, check the sides of the magazine for dents or damage, and try to run some rounds through it. A pinched magazine body might not have clearance to allow rounds to be loaded, or to be fed. This has happened to me before with metal bodied GI-issued AR magazines…all the more reason to look into polymer magazines like the excellent Magpul PMAG.
Also Read: Boston Shooting Bible Review
An excellent basic test, especially for AR magazines, is to load the magazine up to capacity, and then turn it upside down and briskly smack the baseplate at the bottom of the magazine. If rounds fall out, chances are excellent that your feed lips are out of spec or your magazine spring does not have sufficient strength to keep enough tension on the rounds to feed the gun reliably.
Related: Review of Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum
You will find some older or smaller gun designs have steel bodied magazines with welded or silver-soldered fixed baseplates. For these, there’s not much you can do but baby the magazines you have and keep spares. They’re probably from an older design, so for the purposes of a SHTF gun, I might consider going a different route with a modern firearm platform design that utilizes magazines that can be disassembled for cleaning and parts replacement.
Likewise with many older .22 rifles with tubular magazines under the barrel or in the buttstock. The magazine spring and follower are encapsulated in a (usually) brass tube that slides down into the magazine body, over the cartridges. This is a well-used, much-loved and reliable system, but if that follower tube gets dented or bent, you’re out of business. Maintenance on the follower tubes is also difficult, and replacement parts are getting harder to find. It might be worth looking into a more modern design like a M&P-15/22 or Ruger 10/22 for a SHTF gun.
Stay Tuned For Part II
All Photos By Drew
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Yet another mass shooting has turned an unwelcome light upon civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles derived from military weaponry. These are usually erroneously called assault rifles, by the press, a misnomer that there seems little point in continuing to correct. The public has been made to see these as assault rifles, and has been convinced that they are evil and have no place in civilian hands. We can argue our points, and try to correct misrepresentations; but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, particularly where the law is concerned. You can’t fight city hall. A fight deterred is a fight won. This is where the idea of low profile weaponry comes into its own.
By Neal, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache
Ideally, we are looking for something that does not stand out or draw attention to itself, yet is still capable of providing sufficient firepower. So we do not want military derived guns, with bayonet lugs, flash hiders, aggressive looking assault style stocks, or military finishes. On the other end of the spectrum, we also do not want single shot rifles, bolt actions, or anything else with a slow rate of fire. We want something that fires a sufficiently powerful cartridge to get the job done. So a traditionally designed gun, with a good rate of fire and a respectable amount of power is needed.
Happily, this hardly limits our choices at all. They are:
This was the original assault gun. Created at a time when most guns fired a single shot, and many muzzle loaders were still around, the lever action gives a lone individual the capability of firing off as many as a dozen rounds as fast as the lever can be worked. Working the lever and firing fast was nicknamed, a frontier drum roll. The failure of the military to immediately adopt these guns was responsible for a number of slaughters. Ironically, at the battle of Little Big Horn, Custer’s men were armed with the standard single shot trap door rifle, while an estimated 200 lever action rifles were in the possession of the natives. This is thought to have made a major contribution to his defeat.
By modern standards, the classic lever action holds up quite well. As an example, see the table below. It can be seen that, compared to the AR-15, the modern copy of the old Winchester is better in almost every way. It is slightly smaller, slightly lighter, fires a more powerful cartridge, and nearly matches the rate of fire.
|AR-15||Winchester (Marlin) 92|
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||5 pounds, 14 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||12 per minute|
|Energy||1308 fp||1630 fp|
Disadvantages are that a lever is slower to reload, when reloading becomes necessary, it has a somewhat lower rate of fire (though it still fires pretty quickly), and as a general rule is not as accurate as a good semi-auto, though this is a matter of debate. Considerable as it is, the 10 round magazine capacity is not equal to the twenty or thirty round magazine capacity available for the AR-15.
Also Read: 6 Reasons Why You Need A Shotgun
Still, the point here is that the classic lever action is plenty good enough, considerably less expensive, and far less likely to be banned, restricted, or require licensing than a modern military style semi-auto. These are considered hunting arms, rather than military pieces, and will not draw undue attention when being carried in the woods, or wherever else.
Maligned, ignored, or seen as a specialty gun, the pump is faster than you think. It is surprisingly, one of the more popular deer rifles, and is useful in places where using a semi-auto for hunting is illegal. Like the semi auto, it does not require you to remove your attention from the sighting plane. This is the most popular action style for shotguns, but was somehow never embraced to the same extent in rifles. The only major manufacturer of this action type in a useful caliber is Remington. In its various guises as the model 760, 762, 7600, and model 6, there have been something like a million and a half of these rifles produced, and they are still in limited production today.
This is basically a semi auto rifle with the slide working action bars to cycle the bolt. In the semi auto version (the model 740, 742, 7400, or model 4), a gas piston does the job. The guns are target accurate, and made the news shortly after their introduction when a US shooting team used them to place first in a competition in Norway. I have always been able to get all of my shots into a single hole at 100 yards, which is plenty good enough for defense.
The pump compares well to my benchmark AR-15 in a comparison table below. The pump is slightly longer, and a bit heavier, but fires an overwhelmingly more powerful cartridge. Rate of fire is nearly the same, and with a box magazine, reload is just as fast.
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||7 pounds, 8 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||20 per minute (estimated)|
|Magazine||20 (30)||4 (10)|
|Energy||1308 fp||3000 fp|
Where the AR-15 beats the pump is in its larger capacity magazine, though for a rifle, I still think 10 shots is plenty. Additionally, the AR-15 is three inches shorter and a pound lighter. At distance, the pump’s 30-06 will completely outclass the .223 of the AR-15. Closer in, the higher magazine capacity of the AR-15 gives it an advantage. Most important, for the purposes of this article, the pump Is not nearly as threatening, does not have the assault rifle stigma, and is less likely to be restricted, banned, or scrutinized.
If you must have a semi auto, get one that does not shout assault rifle. I admit to owning several AR-15’s, an HK-91, a pair of Calicos, an M1A, a Thompson, and a few other high profile firearms. I rarely leave the house with them. They are high profile weapons. If we ever lose control of the government to the extent that weapons bans go into effect, these are the first guns that will be confiscated, taxed, or tracked.
Related: Best Survival Carbine
When I want to shoot semi- auto, I take my Marlin Camp Gun. Marlin made these in two versions, one that took standard M1911 .45 magazines, and the other that took standard S&W 9mm magazines. These are wonderful guns, sadly out of production, that are traditionally designed, easy to shoot, and look a bit like junior’s grown up 22 rifle. They are not threatening, and are unlikely to draw any unwelcome attention.
Related: The Katrina Rifle
When compared to the classic AR-15, the camp gun is about the same size and weight, with the same rate of fire, and approximately the same magazine capacity. Both have box magazines for fast reloading. The AR-15 has a significant advantage in cartridge power, but the advantage is less applicable close in. While these guns are no longer made, they can still be found for far less money than what an AR-15 will cost. They also have the advantage of taking standard, cheap, available magazines. Ruger made something similar with its Police Carbine line, also discontinued.
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||6 pounds, 7 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||110 per minute (estimated)|
|Magazine||20 (30)||15 (25)|
|Energy||1308 fp||608 fp|
Browning and Remington, have both been making traditionally styled semi auto hunting rifles for decades. The Browning BAR, and Remington 740, 742, 7400, and Model Four series have been taking deer, elk, and dangerous game for almost a hundred years. Both are semi-automatic, both have removable box magazines, and both are reasonably light and handy. The BAR is quite expensive, but the Remington is no more costly than a decent bolt action rifle. These rifles take full sized cartridges, and can even be chambered for magnum rifle rounds. They are probably better for the individual survivor than a military assault style rifle.
A weapon that is confiscated will do you no good when things go bad. An illegal weapon that gets you tossed in jail will subject you to your own personal SHTF. Neither will enhance your survival. Someday SHTF will happen. It may occur within our lifetimes, and it may not; but it will happen. No civilization lasts forever. In the meantime, the rifles listed above are legal most places, unlikely to cause you any grief with the local authorities, and will serve you will in a SHTF situation.
Stay low, stay out of trouble, and survive.
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Many of us would rather build our own AR-15. It can be much cheaper, depending on the parts, as well as customizing it to our own specifications. Then there are those of us who want to, but have no idea where to begin. So we hit YouTube and Google for research.
Wheeler Engineering’s “AR-15 Armorer’s Essentials Kit” contains several of the tools needed for building an AR-15. In this video OIFEagle will unbox the kit and discuss what tools you can expect to see, and why the kit grabbed his attention. He goes into detail about each tool that you need, and even some you might not know you need, what their function is, as well as the cost.
He purchased his kit for $89.99 at SportsmansGuide.com. (Item Number: WX2-294372) He also encourages people to shop around for a better price; however that is the cheapest he found.
OIFEagle is a U.S. Army Officer, Gentleman, and Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (OIF) He is a Free-thinking Conservative, Christian, Husband, and Father. He is also currently stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.
The main purpose of his video blog is to discuss politics, firearms, gunsmithing, and preparations for the zombie apocalypse.
Video By OIFEagle
Please support their channel by subscribing here
Article by American Preppers Network
The popular AR-15 rifle has been the subject of several recent media reports, and one reporter – Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News – even reported it gave him a “temporary form of PTSD” after he fired it at a gun range.
“Squeeze lightly on the trigger and the resulting explosion of firepower is humbling and deafening (even with ear protection),” he wrote. “The recoil bruised my shoulder, which can happen if you don’t know what you’re doing. The brass shell casings disoriented me as they flew past my face. The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary form of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable.”
But even though people have different reaction to different guns, Kuntzman’s description of an AR-15 rifle received pushback from gun owners. One YouTube video that went viral showed a 7-year-old girl enjoying time on the firing range with her father while shooting an AR-15 for the first time. The father does a great job teaching her about gun safety, and both of them enjoy the experience. Watch it below:
Fresh off watching Mad Max Fury Road for the second time, I am almost ready to drop some cash on airfare and tickets to attend the increasingly popular Wasteland Weekend. For someone like me, a publisher of post-apocalyptic fiction and survival nonfiction, it’s like a dream event right up there with attending the annual SHOT Show in Vegas. Wasteland Weekend… don the roughed up leather jacket, scrap metal and cut rubber for shoulder armor, make a wild Mohawk and prepare to party with post-apocalyptic peeps for an entire weekend.
By DG, founder of Prepper Press
I’d roll into the event in my… on my… hmmmm. Post-apocalyptic ATV? Yes! Now hold up, before you all-too-serious folks dismiss this post, read on as I’ve included more practical SHTF information in the second half. But for now, how would I get to a post-apocalyptic ride like Max’s off road motorcycle? There’s some obvious takeaways here, mainly dirt, scuffs and randomly secured blankets and bags. The ATV, though, while slower than a dirt bike or motorcycle, may be better equipped for riding through the wasteland. It can carry more gear!
Racks & Boom Sticks
Spikes – I didn’t get this far, but if I was going to Wasteland Weekend with an ATV, you can bet there’d be spikes all over it to ward off people and enemy ATVs. The easiest route would be welding pieces of rebar to the rig, but that would likely be more apt to risk hurting the rider than anyone else, but in a Fury Road scenario, you don’t want people jumping onto your ride – let them impale themselves on that pig iron.
Antlers – they look kinda cool, don’t they? All post-apocalyptic like? Horns would also work, ideally Texas long horns. They’re not very practical, but they can offer an imposing appearance, a symbol of… something, I’m not sure what, but I like them. They give the ride character, like it’s ready to butt heads.
Fury Road Boom Sticks – you know the explosive spears they toss in Fury Road to disable vehicles. You need ‘em. I made replicas, took wicker tiki torches, spray painted them black, and “boom” goes the stick – at least we pretend, but if loaded with tiki fuel, it’d do something.
No, I didn’t end up going to Wasteland Weekend, sadly. If I had, traveling from Maine wouldn’t really make arriving in an ATV probable, but maybe someday. In the meantime, the boys had fun pretending to be war boys.
Beyond Appearance, More Practical
So you’re not planning to hit Wasteland Weekend with an ATV or looking to make an “art car” for Burning Man Festival. You’re of the more serious mind, practical and logistical, and you’re certainly not going to waste time and energy making what equates to vehicle cosplay. The ATV is still an obvious asset to have should SHTF, as any fast, light, off road transportation would be. What you need to know.
ATV Specific Gear
Zombies (a.k.a. unprepared urban dwellers invading your neighborhood) are on the hunt and you need to get out of dodge – ASAP! You saddle up your ATV ride, but with what? It calls for some special “insurance” items:
1. A Jerry Can and mount. You can’t roll without gas. One of these cans will carry 5 gallons of spare gas. Double the tanks if your machine can fit them and your planned route warrants it. Want a better idea? Check out the RotopaX gas packs, they’re made for ATVs.
2. A winch. Well duh. Do I really need to explain this one?
3. A basic commercial patch/plug and compact tire pump. That will take care of most tire-related troubles. Toss in some spare headlight bulbs as well.
4. An axe or quality saw. Don’t let a downed tree block your path to safety (and it doubles as an anti-zombie tool).
5. A trailer – that’s right. It’s a whole lot easier to pull gear and there’s a lot more room. You can easily triple your load capacity with a trailer. It’s a no-brainer. Just make sure to get one specific to the task with enough ground clearance to meet your needs.
6. GPS – mounted to the front.
7. Gun carrier – again, for obvious reasons, unless you want it accessible and ready to go at all times. Then figure out an attachment that works for you.
“But wait,” you say. “Fire that ATV up and you’ll be heard a few miles away, eliminating any hope of OPSEC.” They’re called “ATV silencers” and they’re readily available on Amazon and other sites. “Silent Rider” is a popular brand. Did you hear that? No, me neither.
ATV Bug Out Bag – How’s it Different?
So your bug out plan involves departing by ATV – lucky you! Not only can you travel faster, but you can carry more gear. I’m not going to rehash what goes into a bug out bag as I’m sure many of you know, but the ATV allows you to double, or even triple, up on some key pieces of equipment. My advice? More water and more food. Perhaps some additional gear pertinent to your locale (extra blanket, sun hat, etc.). Still, put all of that “stuff” inside a backpack just the same. Who knows what you and your machine might encounter. Plan to bug out by ATV, but be able to take essentials with you by foot if necessary.
The ATV, under certain circumstances, can make a wonderful survival vehicle and/or post-apocalyptic ride. This all assumes you need to get from point A to point B, and the ATV will facilitate that. It could also have utility in a SHTF situation. Say, for example, you need to get firewood or carry water in a trailer, things of that nature. Remember to be mindful of your ATV’s load capacity. You don’t want to exceed it. Ideally you’d come under capacity. Keep your ATV maintained, and ride safe, ride hard!
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The media got the type of gun used by Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen wrong.
Several news outlets, including Newsweek and The Washington Post, reported that Mateen used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
Mateen actually used a SIG MCX carbine, a weapon that does not even look like the AR-15, Bearing Arms pointed out. The AR-15 is a gas-operated semiautomatic rifle that was the base of the M-16 rifle used by the United States military. The AR-15 is a trademark of Colt that has been manufactured by a number of companies over the years.
The SIG MCX is a modular rifle system that has been designed to use a number of different calibers of ammunition. It is manufactured by Sig Sauer. The AR-15 is a larger and less advanced weapon with more limited capabilities.
“The anti-gun politimedia wasted no time at all demonizing the most common rifle in the United States as being the real villain of the Islamic terrorist attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando,” Bearing Arms’ Bob Owens said.
Families of some of the Newtown, Connecticut, victims are suing AR-15 manufacturers, using the argument that the rifles are military weapons that should have never been sold to the public, The New York Times reported.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton used Mateen’s killing spree to call for a ban on what she called assault weapons.
“This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said.
Wrote Owens, “All the media cares about is that they’ve wrapped their anti-gun dreams on demonizing the most popular rifle sold in the United States, and they’re going to keep attacking it, whether or not it was used in any particular incident or not.”
Owens argued that it would not have mattered what the terrorist used, because he was not engaged.
“With an ineffectual police response outside the club and no known resistance inside the club, it was sadly irrelevant which firearm the terrorist chose for his attack,” Owens wrote. “It’s important to be very clear on this: when a terrorist faces no significant opposition, any common firearm can be used to inflict tremendous casualties.”
What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Prepping takes time and preparation. This is essential whether you are doing a Bug In at home with family, a few extended family, neighborhood friends, or a Bug Out solo or with a partnership team. Just know that the more numbers you add, the more complicated and difficult things suddenly seem to become. It is inevitable I guess. Either way you will be facing the daunting task of learning, teaching, practicing and perfecting your TTPs or Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. Far be it for me to preach to you guys all the details of that approach, so I will just highlight some priority topics.
Look at the Survival Cache site under the books section to get some heavy duty reading materials on the subjects at hand. There is rarely a substitute for building a foundation of basic knowledge regardless of the subject. I have probably quoted this before but this comment by Patrick Rogers in SWAT Magazine just about says it right. “When all is said and done, practice does not make perfect. Practice only makes permanent. If we strive for only for mediocrity that is all we will ever achieve.”
Also Read: Review Henry Arms AR-7 Survival Rifle
That is the bottom line with survival prepping. We can read all we want. Attend seminars and take courses to expose ourselves to knowledge. Watch all the You-Tubes we can, but if we never try to perform these skills ourselves, then we are just kidding ourselves in the worst way. And I point the same finger at myself with many of these things. We have got to do better.
Do yourself a favor whether a Bug In or Bug Out alone or with others, conduct a SWOT analysis. These are Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The easy way to do this is to use different colored sticky pads for each of the four SWOT concepts. Have your family, group, or team write down ideas on each topic and stick them to the wall or white board under each category. Compile them, consider them, debated them and then prepare for them.
SWOT Analysis is a commonly used management tool for developing teams to work better toward common goals but also to learn more about the challenges you face as a team. It can be a fun process, if you anoint someone with leadership skills to guide the process and control the discussions.
In terms of practicality, I can only imagine how difficult if not actually impossible to train or prep for every possible contingency. You have to take stock of where you live for example and look at the most likely worst threats. Where I live we are subject to tornadoes, and hurricanes. This year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. There will be more. There are tornadoes every year that rip apart entire communities in my home state. What if one hit your house, or mine or the neighborhood down the road knocking out all power for a month?
Where I live I am 60 miles as the crow flies from a nuclear power plant. What if ISIS somehow bombed that or an insurgent slipped in with a suitcase dirty bomb? Impossible you say? Better rethink that line of denial. Am I spending a lot of time on how to recover from a nuclear plant meltdown? Nope. Do I know what I need to do to get ready for the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane? Yep. You have to regionalize your prep plan when it comes to the potential for natural disasters where you live. Then get our TTP priorities in order and initiate action.
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Then you can start to concentrate or parallel your prep for unnatural disasters such as an economic collapse, a bank closure, widespread power grid lock down, communications crash, epidemics of all kinds (Dah, like what…..measles?), and other SHTF events that are out of our control except for the survival part. Work to those ends. Heed your SWOT, even if all you do in that regard is one for yourself. You have to know where you stand in your world.
Training the Undesirable Tasks
Do not spend all your training time on the things you like to do or already do well. For example, most of uspreppers like guns and shooting. We make a critical error if we dwell on firearms defense and protection to the neglect of many other things. Sure it is important, but if you starve to death or die from weather exposure without shelter, then what have you gained but weapons left to rust.
Stock up your canned goods or dry pack foods. Learn to light a fire in the wind and rain. Get your reserve fuel stocks in order including cooking stove fuels. If you Bug Out, know how to assemble your tent in the dark or by flashlight. Work your “pack and jerk” plan which is to say have supplies ready to go, ready to toss into the pickup bed or SUV at a moment’s notice.
Also Read: You’re a 1000 Miles Away and the SHTF
Don’t just buy a can or bag of survival food. Buy some then prepare it. See firsthand if it is edible or if you spit it out. Can you light that Coleman lantern or replace the mantle screen? Can you sharpen knives, and axes? Have you tried to put a tourniquet on someone? Can you break new ground for a garden, hoe it, and plant it? What would you try to grow? You could actually try that in your backyard this summer.
Maybe a good start to this end would be to make a list of the things you dislike doing the most, then dedicating at least some time to those tasks. Perhaps there is a person on your team or family that might actually enjoy that task. Let them plan for it and lead the practice. Hey, SHTFBlog fans, what are the prepping tasks you hate the most? Tell us in the comments below.
Adverse Conditions Training
Train and practice in good weather and bad. SHTF knows no fair weather birds. In fact many naturally occurring SHTF’s are severe weather incidents. As I look out my office window right now the temperature has dropped 20 degrees in three hours and a winter advisory is out for the evening and tomorrow. How would you like to camp out tonight? It would be a perfect time to test your skills and your will. See, this is just another reason I plan to Bug In.
Related: 1 Pistol, 1 Rifle, & 1 Knife
Suppose right now you lived in Boston and maybe you do. How was that walk to the corner market just to find many items gone from the shelves because restocking was impossible on the impassable roadways? How many times can you dig out the sidewalk or driveway? Are these conditions starting to wear on your psyche? Getting a little edgy are we?
I suppose within nine months we will see a spike in the birth rate in these areas impacted by adverse winter weather. Did your prep plan factor in another child or a first one? Now you have other issues and concerns to deal with. So, don’t just pick the blue sky park days to get outside to execute some of your prep plans. As nasty as it might seem and will be, whether freezing cold or super hot and humid, when a SHTF really does come, the environmental conditions will be real all year long wherever you reside. Know this, prep for it and practice for it.
Plan For Training Then Execute
Neither planning nor training is like reading a book then putting it up on the shelf to collect dust. You may well know how to overhaul that garden tiller motor, but have you done it? A few months ago you bought a new AR for defensive perimeter work and a bright shiny new red dot optic for it. How many rounds have you put through it to date? One box is not nearly enough regardless of the cost of the ammo. Can anybody else in your family or on your team shoot this weapon with reliable accuracy?
Every component and aspect of your prepping plan has to be executed at some point in order for the plan to be effective. Well, there’s a no brainer if I ever heard one. It’s just reality that most of us have longer lists of things to accomplish on our prep plan than we have yet to do. I am with you brothers. You are not alone in the prepper wilderness.
Also Read: Raising A Prepared Kid
For me, I am the best planner, I create impeccable detailed lists, and am a thinker of things to be done. But I am the worst at doing them in a timely manner. My wife on the other hand is a doer, but plans nothing. Whatever she buys she never reads the owner’s manual, while I pour over one for days. She’ll plan a project, have half the tools needed, and always forget some critical phase of the deed. I hope she doesn’t read this. You’d think we would complement each other, but as you know, it doesn’t work that way. Which one of us is it again that is from Mars?
Again, I think the best most prudent approach is an incremental one. We simply cannot do everything at once anyway, though our thought patterns may be able to work and plan that way. If we continue to postpone the inevitable, we are likely to get caught with our pants down around our ankles with Brian Williams there on the chopper flying overhead, but passing us by.
Also Read: SHTF – Women & Sex
I’ve never had to really survive a tough SHTF yet, but I cannot imagine any part of it being much fun. I had to “survive” nearly a week without air conditioning and electricity from Katrina in August heat. It was grossly unpleasant, but it was only 5 days. What if we had to do endure that for a month, a year, longer? Get your TTPs in order and things will go much easier down the road.
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As noted in part one of Bug Out Gun Lights, mounting a light on a weapon, whether long gun or handgun, is a necessary option for every bug in and bug out scenario. The light is not just for discriminating among potential targets, but also to light the escape route, to light the impromptu medical theater, and to signal others as needed. In part one, the generalities of WMLs or weapon mounted lights were explored. In part two of Bug Out Gun Lights we will consider long rifle implications, shotguns, and specific lights.
Have vs. Want
The next time I get mugged, it will be in broad daylight, under a noon blue sky, inside the lobby of a police station, during SWAT open house, while POTUS is in attendance, and I just happened to have started my demonstration of how to load an MP5 with live ammo.
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Unfortunately statistics are not on my side. Most violent encounters in the US happen after the sun is well on it’s way to China. In other words, it’s dark. So training with a weapon mounted light is an important piece of the survival puzzle. FBI stats have shown that over 50 percent of LEOs that were killed in the line of duty met their end during the hours between 8pm and 6am. And even worse, 92% of all assaults on LEOs occurred between those same hours. While you might not be a LEO, the risk of assault, robbery, and pretty much everything nasty in between is more likely to happen at night. Thus the need for a WML. But also the responsibility of the gun owner to absolutely know his target. Wandering in the dark is ignoring 80% of the input the brain prefers to use to process a situation. Sight is our dominant sense, and light is essential for sight.
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Not all LEOs were giddy about dedicated weapons lights when they arrived. In fact, it was the K9 officers who were first in line to adopt WMLs. With one hand perpetually attached to a dog leash, they had only half the number of available upper torso appendages to begin with. By making gun and light one unit, the K9 cops could move around more like their unleashed brethren.
Location. Location. Location.
Now that WMLs are powerful enough to be practical on a rifle, it really is only a matter of time before you get one. But where to put it? Many modern ARs have three linear feet of rail or more, but only the final two inches near the muzzle will work for a light. If you have a fixed front sight, you probably don’t want to mount the light on the top rail since the photons will hit the first object they encounter the hardest (the front sight) and under maximum intensity it causes an unacceptable hotspot that will compromise your vision and aiming. If you are right handed, you might want the light opposite your support hand’s grip (the left side). That leaves the bottom rail and the right side as good choices. A bottom mount behind the muzzle will create a shadow above the gun, while a right mount will create a left-side shadow and can cause issues when rounding corners just as a left-side mount will.
For forest and ranch work, I don’t mind the under barrel mount on my AR. In this case I would rather have a clean view of the ground for safer travel. But a simple twist of the carry position moves the light into the 9 or more likely the 3 o’clock position minimizing any forward shadowing when needed.
Most mounting choices lock-in the light in one of the 90-degree positions: 12 O’clock, 3, 6 and 9 O’clock. The two things to consider are light activation by the support hand, and preferred shadow position opposite the light.
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If an intermediate option to the four standard coordinates is desired consider options such as the Daniel Defense light mount or the Magpul offset light mount. A downside to the Magpul mount is that it is screwed onto the rail (two bolts), and the flashlight is attached to the mount (two more bolts), so switching between using the light in-hand and-on gun takes time and tools. The Daniel Defense option is much simpler but three times as expensive. It uses a single large knob to attach the mount to the rail with the light held to the mount like a scope in a ring.
Muzzle blast and recoil can damage lights and coat their lenses with light-diminishing debris. Some lights like my now-discontinued Leupold have synthetic sapphire lenses to deal with the harsh life of living next to muzzle blast. Other lights might seem tough at the store, but a few mags later are crying for mommy. While I thoroughly appreciate the effort Leopold put into their now-defunct MX modular flashlight system, it should have been built for continuity with interchangeable LED modules since the lens, battery barrels, and switches are good for decades but the LEDs are evolving faster than the Avian Flu. So much good tech has gone to pasture due to fixation on the present.
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Lights must be strong enough to shake off gun recoil. While LEDs usually ignore impacts, the circuits, switches, battery contacts, and lens components can get their bell rung. Batteries have mass and thus prefer to remain still when the rest of the light is accelerated in a direction opposite of the bullet. Simple Newtonian mechanics. This can lead to compression of the springs and contacts that normally ensure a complete circuit that keeps the electrons flowing. Darkness falls whenever there is a break in the circuit causing the light to blink or go out all together. And sometimes the electricity never flows again. But this is a double-edged coin to mix my metaphors. Any working light will work until the trigger is pulled. So basically you have at least one shot with any WML. Good lights will keep running. Weak lights…well, you need to move to plan B.
Most good lights have O-ring seals at all material interfaces. But that won’t necessarily keep the light from unscrewing itself over time or during repeated fire. Keep an eye on the connections between components, and give the light a good shake every once in a while to listen for parts rattling around inside the tube.
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And speaking of moving parts, the design of the switch on paper is completely different from the operation of the switch in a human hand, especially when contacting that wonderful opposable thumb we’ve been taught separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The thumb switch should have the right amount of resistance and tactile click to talk back during the activation. Of all my lights, there is just something about the Surefire and Fenix lights that have that proper click. Although you might have noticed that Fenix does not make any WMLs. That’s because they do, but they are marketed under different brand names and non-competition clauses will prevent Fenix from selling any for at least a few more years.
Toyota spends millions on the feel of it. And so does Geissele, Magpul and Daniel Defense. You see there are very few places on a weapons light that involve human interaction so those companies that pay special attention to the human-flashlight interface are those that I prefer. The reason for stressing this particular tangent of weapons mounted lights is that when the S hits the Fan, your pulse spikes, adrenaline is dumped into your bloodstream, and your vision tunnels, the operation of a WML must be like every other human reaction that has evolved over millions of years. Not time for memorized luminosity sequences. No time to wonder, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, if a click is just a click.
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Another area to consider is the composition of the lens. Super-high-end lights use sapphire glass material, the same stuff in your Rolex watch crystal. Moving down in price is impact resistant glass of sufficient thickness, followed by glass. Then polycarbonate plastic. Then plastic of unknown origin. But anything near the business end of a rifle should not be made of a meltable oil-based material like plastic.
Mounting solutions run from simple to complex, and cheap to expensive. If the light has a built-in rail mounting option, then the rail slots must match the light’s size. On full-sized autopistols like the Glock 17, small form-factor lights may generate a substantial gap between trigger guard and light. A raw fact to keep in mind is that if a solidly mounted light extends further forward than the pistol’s barrel, it will be possible to jam the gun into the perp without concern of a misfire due to the slide being pushed rearward and out of battery while the business end of the gun squishes into the flesh of the bad guy. To put a friendly face on this important fact, there are notable events where a LEOs bacon was saved by the purp punching their lighted muzzle into the cop’s belly or forehead and jerked the trigger but no bang followed. All possible by the slightly-forward mounting of a WML.
On the other side of the coin, if you have a light such as the Surefire x300 Ultra you can enjoy the ease of switching the light between guns, hands or pockets. Do note, however, that the x300U fires up quite easily in the hand and pocket compared to traditional dialed-in flashlight designs due to its pressure activation in addition to its switch rotation. I’ve also fired up my x300 just by grabbing the gun out of a case. If done in the dark, you just shot your night vision all to hell. Just food for thought.
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Inexpensive and versatile mounts include the ExtremeBeam Weaver mount. For $14, you can mount any one-inch diameter light to almost any gun. The mount can grab standard rails, or use the included rail mount to secure it to a barrel. I have used this mount on a 20 gauge Remington 870 shotgun in addition to ARs. There are almost no aftermarket tactical accessories for the 20GA 870 platform since it seems the entire rest of the world only cares about the 12 gauge so I was on my own to find a light mount. Lately I’ve settled in on using the rail mount of the ExtremeBeam Weaver to hold a Streamlight TLR-4 light/laser to my house-bound blued pump blunderbuss.
1000 Is The New Black
For a WML, 500 or more lumens is a great number for a pistol these days. But for a rifle that might breathe some fresh outdoor air once in awhile, 1000 lumens is my new best friend. Surefire makes some triple-cell lights under the Fury name. I have both the tactical version and the regular one. The P3X Tactical Fury has a no-click tail cap switch, but instead just a pressure button that fires the light as long as the rubber is held down. The Tactical only has one setting…full blast, which limits its general usefulness as a flashlight. To keep the light on, the tail cap must be rotated clockwise. I like to mount this light on the nine O’clock position so I can fire the light easily with my support hand thumb while keeping a tight grip on the handguard. If I want the light to stay on, I just grab the tail switch like the cap on a beer bottle and give it a twist.
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The regular P3X Fury has a two-stage tailcap click switch that fires first a 15 lumen beam, the a thousand lumen one if clicked again within a second. I prefer to pocket carry this Fury since most of the time I use it in first gear.
The Dust is Settling
At the moment, we are at an intellectual transition about weapon-mounted lighting. Much of the negative press and skeptical opinions are based upon old knowledge, old designs, old filament lights, and old tactics. Where modern bug out wisdom diverges from conventional law enforcement procedures is with duration of use, location of use, and situational use. Plus, in a bug out you are hopefully not running towards trouble like the LEOs are paid to do. In a true WROL, I will skew the rules in my favor. As they say, a fair fight is any fight you can lose. I know there are risks to using a weapon-mounted light, but frankly we’ve said the same things about so many other aspects of personal safety until the next generation’s embrace of the technology proved our historical concerns to be no longer founded in 21st century reality. So light it up.
Got a weapon mounted light and/or advise about your use of it? Tell us about it in the comments below.
All Photos by Doc Montana
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We all remember the buying panic that left shelves empty after Sandy Hook and President Obama’s subsequent call for increased gun control. In fact, ever since Obama took office, we’ve seen so many of these panics that we’ve become somewhat resigned to scarcity every couple of years.
This experience has gun owners nervously looking at the 2016 presidential election and the possibility of what will happen if Hillary Clinton wins in November.
If you don’t have an AR-15, then now is the best time to buy or build one. And if you already have one or two, but like to keep spares — or want to be sure you can build in the future – then there are three key parts you should purchase now.
Lower receivers can literally be printed on 3-D printers, and trigger groups are cheap and easy to make. In fact, there are several parts that a smart shopper can be assured of supply. Yet there are three specific parts that are expensive, complex and difficult to make at home — and you need to get these now while you can.
Item No. 1: Bolt Carrier Groups
Arguably the most complex assembly in the entire gun, it is also the set of parts that sees the most stress and strain. You can print a lower out of plastic and have it work surprisingly well, but few people are equipped to machine a BCG, and then shot peen the surface to work harden it, perform a magnetic particle inspection for flaws, and then give it a final surface treatment.
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Right now, a basic mil spec BCG can be had for less than $100. (They were going for more than $250 after Sandy Hook.) Buy ‘em cheap and stack ‘em deep.
Item No. 2: Upper Receivers
A skilled home machinist could make these in a garage, but unlike lowers which can be made with jigs and kits, upper receivers are not so heavily supported in the home builder market. And for good reason; they are not a regulated part and require no paperwork to purchase, but they are also very hard to import. Shop around; deals can be had on uppers, especially if you aren’t picky about forward assists and dust covers. Two or three upper receivers put aside now is two or three ARs you can put together in the future.
Item No. 3: Barrels
Another item few can really make at home. These are labor- and time-intensive parts to build, and are often the most expensive single part of any AR build. Because of the time to make them, these are parts that dry up fast — with long waiting lists. Quality barrels can be had at reasonable prices. I’d grab a few M4 profile barrels in 1:7 or 1:9 twist, ideally with a 5.56 or .223 Wylde chamber while you still can. If you are feeling up to it, .300 Blackout, 7.62×39 and perhaps a long heavy barrel is in order. Either way, a few barrels on hand now is security against an increasingly dark future. This is one place where a bit of research and decision making comes in handy now; 5.56 barrels come in several twist rates, and just mentioning them sets off an incredible storm of debate. If you plan to shoot regular ball ammo, then 1:7 or 1:9 for general use is just fine. But if you plan for specialized ammo, or have strong and firm opinions on the matter, then buy the twist rate most suitable for your beliefs or ammo choice. That way you won’t spend the next panic — or even worse, an outright ban — hating yourself for having the “wrong” barrel.
Plan for the Worst
One can argue that there are plenty of AR parts worth stockpiling, or better still, the entire gun. Certainly a powerful argument could be made for adding complete or 80 percent lowers to this list, and I certainly would, but even during panics, 80 percent units can generally be had. Barrels, bolt carrier groups and upper receivers are three of the most expensive and complex parts of an AR, and manufacturers are unlikely to stock excessive inventory beyond projected needs.
America is facing dark and uncertain times, where our civil liberties and very way of life hangs in the balance. We still enjoy relative security and access to many items that gun grabbers want to take away from us. Smart purchases now could mean the difference between having a functional rifle and being at the mercy of an oppressive administration.
Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The cost was a shade over $250 more than the perpetual $299 PSA sale. I had the cash and in the long run think it will be worth it. I’ll probably do a PSA one at some point but who knows.
I also ordered mags for it to maintain the right ratio. This plus some of those new magpul Glock mags is pretty much my prep for the election
Obviously it will need some accessories. Obviously a sling though I think I have one lying around. Also a rear sight. I will buy the same folding one we use at work. That way eventually if/ when I put an optic on it the transition will be easy.
–Commander Zero brought up a good point. Unless you are truly starting with a box of parts, which I generally would not suggest for value, parts compatibility and user error issues, assembly is a more accurate term than building.
-The issue of a decent but budget conscious back up rifle vs a ‘cheap as I can get’ throw away is one I am still mulling over. I need to make a decision this week.
-I need to take a better look at the exact cost difference of a basic PSA (about 3 bills) and one more fitting of a back up rifle.
-An all PSA build might be sort of fun. Also it could be a fun project.
-I can see myself doing both. The question is in which order.
-My gut says the right answer is the back up rifle.
Continuing this story… The innards of the Ruger 22/45 are not the only pieces of metal in need of modernization. There are plenty of upgrades necessary on the outside of the pistol to make this a B.O.L.T.-worthy tool. For instance, the magazine baseplates, the grip, the threaded barrel protector, carry options, and of course the sights. And speaking of sights, the stock Ruger 22/45 iron sights are near impossible to see.
The rear sight is little more than a flat black square notch that centers a thick flat black front sight blade ensuring the stock sights are nearly useless. Low light situations are out of the question, and anything with a dark or variable colored background makes sight alignment nearly impossible. Since sights are imperative to accuracy, quality aftermarket sights are a must. In this case, Williams FireSights were the obvious choice. No, I’m going to take this further. If you don’t update the sights, in specific to FireSights, then it would seem that you are not taking this situation seriously. The fiber optic light gathering and contrasting colors make the Fire Sights embarrassingly better than the stock irons. The brilliant glowing green and orange dots are nothing short of magic. For less than fifty bucks, you can put your 22/45 on target every time, not just when conditions afford visibility of flat black on flat black.
The grips on the 22/45 are, well, like a government issue .45 auto which is exactly where the 22/45 gets its name. As a diehard Glock fanboy who was born with a Glock grip angle on my first toy rattle. But the semi-slippery scales that screw onto to the handle of the 22/45 can benefit from a rubberized upgrade. And it’s Hogue to the rescue. By providing a grippier circumference to snuggle up with, the Houge’s offer a positive interaction between shooter and machine. But as a Glockster, the finger indexing on the Hogue lock in a positive interface making aiming the Lite intuitive and rock solid.
One In The Holster
Carrying all this .22LR firepower all day every day requires a suitable holster. And none serves this duty better than the Blackdog. As a adjustable friction fit Kydex containment system for all things Ruger (and a Benchmark), the Blackdog could care less about barrel length, and to a certain extent suppressor length. Hint, hint. But back on topic, for this exercise I chose the Low Ride Blackdog. I like high ride holsters for aggressive carry, and low ride for day to day open carry.
Holosun? Yea, I Heard Of Them
Finally the optic. I was all ready to snap on an Aimpoint Micro onto the OEM rail. But then Holosun HS503C caught my eye. In roughly the same form factor as the Aimpoint, the Holosun HS503C incorporates two reticle options as well as running on both solar and battery power. One thing I really liked about EOTech sights (about the only thing) is the large sighting ring, something around 65 MOA. A single small red dot is great when you can see clearly and have a good cheek weld, but waving a pistol around trying to find the dot can be a challenge especially if the shooter is in motion. There are just a few degrees of movement where the dot appears in a micro-sized tube at arm’s length. Having the choice of large ring or small dot gives the shooter the best of both worlds.
Also Read: The Hurricane Katrina Rifle
And while the Holosun has a battery life in the ballpark of Aimpoint’s three million minutes (50,000 hours=2083 days=five years eight-and-a-half months). Although the solar does not charge the battery and needs the sun, low light shooting with a dead battery will require iron sights. But enough dust should have settled in five years to not need to sneak around in the dark.
My main comparable in optics on a .22 pistol is my Ruger Mark III Target pistol with fluted bull barrel and Leupold 2X pistol scope. While the Mark III is better at long range and more accurate with the crosshairs, the Holosun topped 22/45 was much faster on target massively lighter.
Sound is a dead giveaway. Even the pop of a .22 will attract attention and scare game. So a true Bug Out pistol would not be complete without a suppressor. Unscrewing the Game Changer Compensator and threading on the Gemtech Outback II drops the decibels to the “what was that?” level. If that.
Gemtech is a leader in suppressor (or silencer to the Hollywood crowd). Based in Boise, Idaho, Gemtech produces some of the finest and lightest suppressors on the planet. The Outback II is a high-end ultra lite .22LR only suppressor. It’s certainly not the least expensive, but certainly one of the higher performing and higher options available from your Class-3 dealer. And if you want to upgrade your Outback II, you can opt for the G-Core upgrade for another pair of Benjis.
Related: CZ75 9mm Pistol Review
Sound suppression should be a fact of life, but instead the NFA makes it a $200 tax plus paperwork, fingerprints, signatures, and a few months of waiting. But that should not be too much to swallow when it comes to an optimal bug out gun. Spinning on a suppressor opens some doors otherwise closed to ear-ringing decibel damage. For the cost of just five more barrel inches and 2.7 ounces, the silence is defining.
When subsonic ammo pops out the far end of the suppressor at less than 1100 feet per second the B.O.L.T. Pistol spatters lead down range both accurately and with no more sound than the bolt cycling, usually by hand.
Compensating For Something?
A stock 22/45 with a threaded barrel comes with a small protector. Tandemkross makes a Compensator that works wonders whether on pistol or rifle. The muzzle jump on a .22 is near-zero, but the compensator does reduce it. I measured the upward acceleration of the muzzle using a Vernier accelerometer comparing the compensator to a bare muzzle and with a supressor. The Tandemkross Game Changer compensator noticeably reduced the muzzle flip, and redirected the muzzle blast away from down. Normally not a problem with a pistol since you are not shooting with the barrel just inches above dirt, but I did notice it when shooting off a snow-covered rest.
Rubber On Road?
So how does all this B.O.L.T. kit shoot? Like a dream! The flow from presentation to trigger pull to bang (or muted pihfft) is a scary reminder how little weight and effort can change the game. Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) lived in a cabin just a few miles upstream from my favorite fishing hole. He was known for quietly poaching deer by shooting them in the eyeball with a .22 rifle. Where long guns differ from handguns is mostly in sight radius. The reason a pistol would ever need a long barrel is not necessarily to give the powder more burn time, or more spins on the bullet as it zings down the pipe, but in fact to hold the front sight further away from the rear peep. But a red dot sight negates all that sight radius stuff since it makes no difference anymore. So a four inch barrel is as useful as an eight inch one. The red dot sight used here makes accuracy not an issue of front post on target, but red speck on topic.
Also Read: Pocket Carry vs Concealed Carry
Holding the gun steady is the issue, not keeping the dot on prey. Painting the target is easy. Pulling the trigger while the dot is where it needs to be becomes the challenge. But that is a good problem. Plus, you can hand the gun to anyone and it will be obvious that the red dot means kill. Nobody would second-guess the operation of a red dot sight where irons take understanding.
At 15 yards off a rest this B.O.L.T. gun easily makes one ragged hole in paper with CCI ammo. Well, most of the time. Enough of the time. Out to 50 yards, it’s possible to keep the pistol on a dinner plate since the Holosun red dot sight couldn’t care less if it was on a handgun, rifle, or Sherman tank. A single point of red light has no sight radius. But if one restricted the target size to the orbital cavity in a deer skull, anything under 25 yards could be considered ethical…in a SHTF sort of way.
Related: Grab ‘N’ Go Pistol Bag
In the end what one needs in a bug out tool gun is a reliable machine that can deal with day-to-day chores as society rebuild itself for too long we’ve tried to find the perfect gun for all situations but in the end what you really need something that can live a few grains of lead downrange and dispatch the furry or feathered food with precision simplicity and elegance. Although the B.O.L.T. gun is not THE perfect solution, it is A perfect solution for an imperfect world.
All Photos By Doc Montana.
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One of the things I am busy with is working on myself trying to get healthy. Think that some good long term personal growth is happening. Don’t want to say anything now as that is a shot you can’t take back. However suffice to say I am tacking a long term personal shortcoming.
Beyond that I am looking at how I want to go about making my back up rifle once the lower gets here. I am looking at the cheapest option (which I am comfortable with anyway) which is probably a barreled PSA upper with one of their premium FN made barrels vs a more mid to upper mid shelf option. The difference might be less than one would think.
Also I have been re watching Jericho on Netflix. Some interesting lessons there. Of course the primary goal was entertainment but it brings up some thought provoking stuff.
Bike rides and jiu jitsu as often as I can plus the usual boring Army PT.
What have you been up to lately?
I may do some other things in the next month or so. Without going into a bad spot (digging too deep into savings let alone using credit) I will do the best I can to get my gunny house in order. You should consider doing the same.
On another note entirely Kenny is officially in Tennessee!
When most people think of survival rifles, they picture a compact, lightweight, single shot or semi-automatic rifle chambered for the venerable .22 LR ,or perhaps a drilling chambered for a .22 LR and .410 or 20 Ga.
However, when people think of the AR-15 rifle, they tend to automatically picture a home defense rifle or a US Military battlefield rifle, and certainly not a survival rifle! But, when properly configured, the AR-15 platform does make an excellent survival rifle. In fact, because of its .223 inch bore diameter and a chamber sized for either a .223 Remington or a 5.56 mm NATO cartridge, it makes an excellent choice for medium-size game species such as whitetail deer, feral hogs and wild turkeys at close to medium ranges, as long as the heavier bullet designs are used. On the other hand, it is also easily converted to fire the .22 LR cartridge via one of several different, readily available, drop-in conversion kits and thus, the AR-15 is a survival rifle extraordinaire!
When I think of a survival rifle, four criteria immediately come to mind. First, it must be lightweight so that it is easy to carry. Second, it must be compact so that it is easy to maneuver. Third, it must be extremely durable and well able to withstand the extremes of the elements — as well as harsh treatment and lack of care. Third, it must be able to fire the .22 LR cartridge.
While there are several extremely well-designed survival rifles out there chambered for the .22 LR, the AR-15 is a far better choice than any of them, because it is able to fire both a high-powered rifle cartridge and a low-powered one by simply exchanging the bolt with a drop-in replacement, and then exchanging the magazine. Also, by installing a collapsible, skeleton, stock in conjunction with a 14 ½-inch or 16-inch barrel, the rifle becomes both very compact and relatively lightweight. Plus, .22 LR drop-in conversion kits are readily available that will easily enable any AR-15 chambered for .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO to also fire .22 LR cartridges, without making any permanent alterations to the rifle.
So, simply by carrying the rifle in its standard configuration chambered for .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO along with a drop-in .22 LR conversion kit, you effectively have two rifles in one that will enable you to harvest game animals, ranging in size from squirrels and rabbits to medium-sized deer and feral pigs. Plus, because the AR-15 was specifically intended to be a battlefield rifle, it was specifically designed to function correctly every time it was needed, even in extremely harsh inclement weather conditions. It also was specifically designed such that all of the internal components can easily be replaced in the field by someone with only a moderate amount of mechanical skill. The AR-15 platform also meets my criteria for a survival rifle that is both extremely durable and very reliable.
Another reason that I feel that this rifle is such an extraordinary survival rifle is because it was specifically designed to be a modular system so that the rifle could be quickly and easily reconfigured to meet the needs of various missions. This has given rise to different manufacturers offering alternate caliber conversion kits in addition to the .22 LR, such as the 6.8mm Remington SPC (special purpose cartridge) or .300 Whisper.
By adding a second upper receiver/barrel assembly with a 14 ½-inch or 16-inch barrel chambered for 6.8mm SPC or something larger, you would have the ability to harvest larger game animals at much greater distances than you would with the .223 Remington, but you would also retain the ability to hunt medium-size game with the .223 and small game with the .22 LR, simply by sliding two pins out from the lower receiver and then exchanging the upper receiver at will.
If you have never considered the AR-15 to be a viable survival rifle, then perhaps you should take a second look at this amazing modular rifle. Not only is it compact, lightweight and extremely durable, but it can be easily reconfigured to fire any number of cartridges, ranging from low power to high power and thus, it actually makes the perfect survival rifle for hunting wild game species. Plus, if you happen to find yourself in a location inhabited by large, predatory animals, then having an AR-15 as opposed to a .22 LR can provide you with the means to defend yourself if necessary. As you see, the AR-15 is truly a survival rifle extraordinaire!
Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The rash of inexpensive ARs clogging gun store shelves right now might not be the greatest battle rifles since the M1903 Springfield, but they can advance well beyond their pay grade with a few mild upgrades that basically undo the cost saving measures installed at the factory. In addition to cost-saving measures, many entry level ARs will lack a forward assist plunger, and a dust cover. While the former might never be used by 99% of shooters, the dust cover can come in handy in certain conditions and environments.
The Walmart Rifle
But neither should be considered a deal-breaker if you find a brand-name good deal. A goal here is to put some dollar numbers on what it would take to bring a budget-priced AR up to speed for real-world challenges.
A required assumption here is that a reputable company that builds ARs will make them more affordable though a handful of minor shortcuts rather than some massive oversights in quality. In fact it might take a doubling or even tripling of cost within the product line to get a functionally better barrel or bolt carrier group. The difference between a $599 and a $1299 AR by the same company will be in the details across three main areas:
1) Those small parts where a few pennies are saved here and there
2) In finishing work done both by machine and by hand especially the trigger group
3) The number of minutes of quality assurance inspections along with accompanying lower standards of acceptability.
Companies known for making better rifles will not make cheap barrels and bolts. That’s too risky and expensive for them. Instead they will use the good stuff and cut costs elsewhere. On the other hand if the AR company is known for inexpensive or poor quality guns with a few or no upper-end firearms in their product catalog, then those better ones are the exception to their rule so upgrading will be, as they say, lipstick on a pig. Just remember that most folks cannot outshoot their rifles, and don’t worry about if or when your round count will overcome the quality of your AR parts since we’re not pushing theoretical limits here. Just putting a trustworthy AR in your hands for less money. Before we get started, know that the fun stuff like optics, red dots, weapons lights, covert carry options, drum mags, bipods and suppressors are all fine goals for the financial future but the first principles are first for a reason.
So to begin, hand select the best inexpensive AR on the shelf. Or better yet, if the gun store really wants to make the sale, crack open a few boxes in backstock. Concentrate on the upper and lower receivers mating, the action of the bolt, and alignment of the gas tube any and rails. There’s no point upgrading if the AR is already damaged goods. Also avoid fixating on any part that will be swapped out. Cheap buttstocks might rattle around or require extra force to slice back and forth. Cheap sights are included to make the rifle work out of the box (a supposed selling point), but since they will soon be tossed into the junk parts box in your shop, don’t waste valuable store time on them.
Related: Magpul P-Mag Torture Test
Next, plan on swapping out the trigger, buttstock, handguard, mag, sights (as needed), and make a few additions while you’re at it. Each replacement part has an important upgrade purpose, and each addition will take the AR up a pay grade or two in stature and use. The new parts can be replace all at once or over time. The point of this article is to give some focus when there you have a gnawing desire to buy a quality sale-priced new AR. If considering a used one, all bets are off.
Triggers are an easy place to both cut costs and raise them. Inexpensive ARs will often have worse-than-normal triggers. Rather than spending your day trying to polish up the already crippled fire control mechanism, just get one of the newer but affordable drop-in trigger kits. While not perfect, the inexpensive kits will put you much closer to the cool kids. One of the $70 ALG triggers would make a good option, or a Mil-spec enhanced trigger group from Rock River.
The buttstock might seem to work fine, even look mil-spec, but cheaper ARs often have brittle plastic mildly adjustable stocks. For the cost of a few boxes of ammo, the Magpul OEM stock can be had for less than $40 and will get you up to speed where your stock will work better, feel better, and hold up to abuse especially if your need pummel something or someone with your buttstock.
The hard plastic two-piece tubes that form the handguard on budget ARs are heavy, slippery, and often lack any attachment points for rails, etc. Again, the sub-$40 Magpul OEM handguard fits the bill and moves you and your rifle into a more productive tactical position.
If your AR came with a Magpul Pmag of any generation, then move on. But if it came with a no-name metal box, then assume the worst and swap it out with a ~$15 Pmag. Not all GI-style metal mags are created equal, especially when you know that the chief selling point of the rifle it came with was a low price. The main points of failure for the cheap mags, assuming they even fit and work in the first place, are with minimally functional followers and springs of marginal quality.
Likely, there will be a standard triangular. A2 front sight pinned onto the barrel. While the finish work after tumbling out of what forge or press might be lacking, its function will be much the same as any other factory installed front post. But the rear sight is another matter. You might be lucky and the rifle came with a polymer Magpul MBUS. If so, great. If not but a rear sight was included, take it off and feel its heft. Some weight a ton because cheap does mean light. Further, the adjustments might be coarse and limited.
Also Read: Best Survival Carbine
Since the point of the rifle is to land a projectile on a target from a safe distance away, the sighting mechanism is as important as any other critical part of the gun. Might be the best $40 spent thus far.
Nickels and Dimes
A few additions beyond the basics include an enhanced trigger guard base and Blackhawk single-point sling adapter. Oh, and a couple of AR tools to become more intimate with your rifle. Start with a couple of punches, and an armorer’s tool. Magpul makes a great enhanced trigger guard for about $9 that will greatly increase the internal space of the trigger guard allowing better and safer operation especially when wearing gloves. The single-point sling adapter sells for less than $7 and allows you to quickly clip a sling to a spot on the buffer tube, or back on the buttstock. When placed on the buffer tube, the rifle becomes single-point compatible without an expensive QD mount added on.
Related: DIY Survival Rifle
The last piece of kit to gentrify your AR is to get some Slip2000 gun lube. I prefer the Slip2000 EWL30 because of its higher viscosity. Since ARs are known for chain smoking gun lube all day long, the EWL30 puts up the good fight between metal surfaces assuring you that your AR is as healthy as it can be.
By adding about $220 to your over-the-counter AR, you will be in great shape to do almost everything anyone buying a budget AR would do. Given recent AR prices hovering under $600 and some holiday or promotional sales dropping in sight of $500, having a plan to capitalize on the savings but not the functionality will make the decision easier. Remember, this strategy requires you start with a good foundational AR so keep with the known brands and compare the specifications. An inexpensive AR from Bob’s Basement Budget Builds might be easy on the wallet today, but it will punish you for years to come.
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The AR-15 rifle is by far the most popular rifle in the US, especially among survivalists and people serious about home defense. The rifle is accurate, powerful enough, and endlessly customizable. The AR-15 has its detractors, and they have their arguments, but ultimately it is still the most popular rifle out there.
The AR-15 is typically chambered in 223/5.56, a caliber that is common, as well as small and compact when compared to rifle rounds. In fact, their size was one of the many reasons the US government chose the AR 16/ M16 platform over the larger, heavier, and more powerful 7.62 rifles. The average soldier can carry more 5.56 ammunition than they could ever carry with the heavier 7.62 rounds.
But even the 5.56 is still a giant when compared to the diminutive .22 LR round. The .22 LR is another popular rifle with survivalists who already own a main defensive rifle. The .22 LR round may be a poor defensive round, but it’s handy for hunting small and medium game, fending off predators, and as a general utility round. The .22 LR is also very small, quite light, and you can carry a box of 500 in a cargo pocket.
The small size, low recoil, low cost and easy shooting ability makes it the perfect round.
So what does all of this have to do with anything? Well, what about the ability to convert your AR-15 to shoot .22 LR? You have probably seen these kits before and heard about how unreliable they are. That is generally true but, thankfully, CMMG has produced a kit that actually works. The CMMG kit is a stainless steel bolt that is an all-in-one kit.
This kit comprises of a bolt, a long extension that acts as a chamber, and an internal buffer. The kit requires you to use a 5.56 or 223 rifle. The internal 223/5.56 bore is close enough to the diameter of a .22 caliber long rifle that the round will remain accurate for shooting. The kit itself is a one-piece design that simply drops into the upper receiver of an AR-15. All you have to do is remove the 5.56 bolt, drop in the CMMG kit and close the receivers.
The kit does require the use of a specialized magazine, as one would expect. The kit comes with one polymer magazine, which will fit with any standard AR-15 lower receiver and locks in rock and ejects easily. The main difference, besides the caliber, is the fact the bolt will not lock open after firing the last round.
But Is it Reliable?
Most of these kits fail in some way. I believe the reason the CMMG kit works so well is because of its polished stainless steel. This allows the weapon and bolts to run with the dirty .22 LR round consistently, round after round. CMMG has had some minor problems with some of their more experimental rifles, but this kit has run like a champ over 450 rounds of Federal auto match. And I didn’t lube the rifle or the kit before firing it. I just dropped it in, threw in a magazine of Federal auto match and started shooting.
The kit’s magazine loads 25 rounds and is easy to load until those second two rounds, where it gets pretty stiff. The charging handle only goes back about a 10th of the standard charging handle range. This is a bit odd at first, and takes some time to learn how to do it. At first, I would instinctively try to rip the charging back.
After 450 rounds, I had 10 misfires. These were rounds that failed to fire, which I chalked up to the standard unreliability you get with bulk .22 LR rounds. Cleaning the kit was as simple as spraying on some CLP, rubbing it down with a rag, and brushing the crevices. That stainless steel finish is a huge aid to cleaning the bolt.
Overall, the kit is excellent. It ran with some basic, cheap bulk ammo. I plan to do more testing with different ammo types, and a variety of brands. If the kit keeps working, it will replace my dedicated .22 LR for my rim fire needs. The only downside is the small loss of accuracy and having to purchase extra magazines online. The magazines cost around $25 apiece, which is somewhat expensive. But the CMMG kit is rock-solid so far, and it’s by far the best .22 LR conversion kit I’ve ever used.
Have you ever converted an AR-15 to a .22? Share your tips in the section below:
At Expert Prepper we’re committed to bringing you the best survival posts and preparedness information. There was a lot of great stuff out there this week, from survival gear reviews to breaking news and the latest and greatest survival tips. Check out this weeks best survival posts below: VID: How to poo in the woods,Because […]
So what am I tangibly doing differently?
In my sleepy little small town western central Louisiana life I am not doing anything differently. Terrorism or whatever is not a concern here. My risk of being involved in something beyond normal crime is very low.
However when I travel to a bigger town I am doing things a bit differently. For Thanksgiving I went to visit my sister in greater Houston. Like always I had my trusty get home bag and Glock 19. I did intentionally fill up (Houston is a half talk away) before going to my sisters place. I also brought my fighting load and my AR-15 with 7 magazines.
In the not so distant future I would like to get a dedicated vehicle gun. A budget AR or AK would fit the bill. I think an AK with a folding stock would be ideal as it would fit in a gym bag for discrete transportation. Also 7.62×39 does better with vehicles which is a consideration. That being said an M4 style AR will fit in a tennis racket bag. Paul Howe has a set up like that which is pretty handy. I will probably get whichever I can find a deal on.
What changes have you made based on recent events?
In this episode David talks about Pros and cons of building vs buying an AR-15, as well as some tips when dealing with AR-15’s The show is scheduled for Monday at 10pm central time at this link. If you cannot listen on Monday, you can always download the podcast for listening at your own leisure. […]
Defensive AR Platform By Richard Bogath I’m probably going to get a lot of crap for writing this article. Far be it from me to tell a person what they should use to defend themselves, their home and family. Some are just as comfortable with a Louisville Slugger as others might be with a handgun […]
First our friend Meister did a good post on the subject and I thought you should check it out.
Second after reading Meisters post then looking back at mine there were some glaring omissions in my first post. So I intend to address those.
Iron sights. This is really only a discussion with AR pattern rifles as the current fad is flat top rails on the receiver (a good idea) and low pro gas blocks to allow the full length rails (a questionable idea IMO) which everyone seems to like today.
Fundamentally I start with iron sights then potentially add an optic. So the end is that I have a set of redundant ZEROED sights for my rifle. Why do I do this?
The first reason is cost. Lets say a budget AR costs $650ish and a baseline professional grade (BCM, Colt, LMT) is $950-1,200ish. After digging deep to buy a rifle you might need to save for awhile to get an optic. Presuming you have an A2 style front sight/ gas block the only cost to a BUIS is the $40-100 for the rear sight.
Note: You do need to make a decision here to go with a fixed site or a folding one. The decision is made based on the type of optic you plan to eventually use. In general magnified optics necessitate a folding site while red dot type sights let you go either way.
Second is redundancy. With sights a rifle is effective to a quarter mile or so with the biggest limiting factor being the shooter. Without sights a rifle might be good to 25 yards or so. If there was a convenient affordable option to have a second extractor and ejector for just $50 I would!
Third to look at the other side; why not have iron sights? To save $50-100 cost and an ounce or two of weight? Pshaw. New topic.
Magazines. I made a critical error in not touching the topic of magazines.
In magazine fed weapons most feeding issues are caused by magazines. Before going any further my immediate test is always to try another magazine. The vast majority of the time it solves the problem.
Mag issues come from crap mags and wear n tear. Don’t buy crap mags. Get either OEM or military contract mags. The only exceptions that come to mind are Magpul rifle mags (I am not sure their Glock mags are ready for prime time yet) and various quality brands of 1911 mags. Removing crap mags from the equation we are left with wear and tear.
Magazines really need to be thought of as a semi disposable item like say tires for a car or socks. They just plain wear out. Once they hit the end of their life span feeding issues pop up and get worse over time until you either totally rebuild it or toss it.
Meisters point about feed lips, etc is valid. That being said unless you have an oddball special snowflake rifle (Valumet .308, etc) or are in one of those states where mags have to be pre ban mags are cheap enough one might consider what their time is worth and just replace bad mags.
Right now PMAGs are well under $15 a piece (10 or more PMAGS @13.25 per at Lucky Gunner). You can consistently find military contract type aluminum (C products, etc) under $10 per, as low as 6-7 is not uncommon.
I believe in stocking mags pretty deep. 10+ per pistol and 20+ per rifle. The biggest reason for this is the darn things wear out. Since I can not say 100% replacement mags will always be available at today’s very affordable prices I have some spares factored in to my stocking levels.
Anyway I think that hits the points I really wanted to add to the conversation.
Before going on I should talk about my background because it applies to this conversation. I have over a decade of service in the Army. Some reserve and some active. Split among various types of units but all people who use their weapons for hard realistic training on a regular basis and in ground combat. I have been to so many ranges, live fires and field problems it would take too long to list. I have also deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The point is not to brag or some junk but to illustrate that I have used/shot a whole bunch of AR type rifles and been around a metric shit ton off them being used/shot. Ditto for optics.
Based on personal experiences and direct observations on combat optics:
-I have seen a handful of Eotech’s and a couple of Aimpoint’s fail. The Eotech’s half strait up failed and half failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. The Aimpoints all kept functioning but failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. These optics were just plain worn out. They all had at least 2 deployments (aprox 27 months of combat time in Baghdad) as well as lots of training and range time. The use these optics took exceeds what any civilian user would do in a lifetime. Except just maybe John who trains a lot and likes to throw his rifle all over the place.
-The screws that hold the batteries in Aimpoint’s tend to occasionally get mis threaded or lost. A couple spares (with the spring etc) per optic in the safe and maybe one per every several rifles in say a squad rifle repair kit would address the problem. They are about the size of a small gumball and I suspect fairly affordable.
-Eotech’s. While I would agree with the consensus that they are the weakest of the big 3 (Aimpoint, Eotech, ACOG) they do not seem to have a single weak point. I should note being the weakest of those 3 is like being the #3 heavyweight power lifter at a major regional meet. Yes you are weaker than the two who placed higher but you are still ridiculously strong.
-ACOG’s are damn near bombproof.
I also got to thinking about the AR-15 platform of rifles. Mostly this is based on military experience but I have a fair bit of experience on the civilian side as well.
Based on personal experiences and direct observations on the AR-15 platform:
-The receiver extension AKA buffer tube on adjustable stock (M4) type rifles is a weakest link of the chain. I have seen several break. They can take very little pressure at an angle before breaking. That IMT junk where you use the butt to break your fall does not work with this setup. Note if you want to whack someone with your M4 buttstock do it in a strait thrust.
-Lots of ejectors and buffer tube springs causing problems. We could debate whether this is a direct failure or a lack of adequate preentative maintenance but all the same. Stock spares of these parts.
-Tons of little pins getting lost during cleaning. So many pins, springs, extractors, etc. Even a few firing pins. My advice is that unless you have a decent place inside with an honest to goodness floor AND access to spare parts in a combat/ survival situation I would only strip an AR-15 down to the complete bolt carrier group, charging handle and the receiver. Clean the barrel with a rod or boresnake, wipe down the inside of the receiver and the BCG to get the crud off, relube and you are good to go.
[As an aside I have often wondered how long I could use an AR-15 with only this method of cleaning. Unless Lucky Gunner decides to send me a few dozen cases of M193 ball we are unlikely to find out but I suspect a very long time. Certainly long enough that a survivalist/ G would rotate back to some permissive area where a detailed cleaning would be safe and prudent.]
-Occasionally extractors strait up break. Again we could debate if preventative maintenance should catch it but I have seen it enough I would say the part is a fairly weak link.
-Once in a blue moon a bolt breaks.
Anyway I hope that my ramblings give you some things to think about and just maybe use to feed your stock spare parts, etc.
The comments section is open as always.
It is only at the margins where things start to matter. To briefly summarize faster twist rate favors heavier bullets and slower twist lighter ones. If you want to shoot the newly popular 77 grain open tip match ammo which are well reputed for both long range accuracy and terminal ballistics you want a 1/7 or 1/8 barrel. If you are a varmit shooter always using those light 50 grain bullets go 1/9.
Good info to have.
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Last week, MVT posted up a video talking through his current fighting gear / load bearing equipment, which includes a new chest rig made to his specs. It also includes a pretty cool first person run through a shooting scenario – worth paying attention here to pick up on some of the tactics/techniques that Max teaches.
The set up that Max shows here – a light battle belt and midweight chest rig is interesting in that it is a pretty significant shift from the heavy British Para-webbing style battle belt that he used to be a big advocate for–here’s the most recent example that I can find:
|Image via MVT.|
10-12ish mags, handgun, 4x canteen pouches on the back and a couple handgun pouches to round it out. We’ll call it a “British-style” battle belt for lack of a better name.
I toyed around with a British battle belt, similar to Max Velocity’s, through part of last year. Went cheap on the belt – got a Condor knock off and their harness, bought a few surplus USGI canteen pouches and used pouches that I had lying around to cobble one together.
Found a lot to like about it – way better load carrying ability and generally more comfortable / better mobility than a comparable weight of chest rig. Gives you the ability to carry a decent amount of food, a canteen, survival gear and a big IFAK, which can be a challenge using other load carrying gear. Good place to put your sidearm and good access to it. Easily adjusts to different weights of clothing, too.
After a bit of T&E, I ended up giving up on a British-style battle belt for my purposes, at least for the time being. Why?
The big deal breaker is operations in/around vehicles, and to a lesser extent moving through structures/room clearing. Canteen/utility pouches on the back and triple-thick mag pouches on the hips extends your width pretty significantly and you start having to turn sideways to get through doors, can’t sit in a normal car comfortably, etc.
|Image via BPRE|
There’s also no lighter/low threat profile to choose from with just the heavy belt. A lighter battle gives you the option of operating with just the lighter, more comfortable, lower profile belt on. Options and flexibility are good.
Of course, this isn’t exactly a revelation–Max’s heavier weight battle belts were a bit of an outlier in the tactical gear world. Folks have been running lighter battle belts in conjunction with a lighter chest rig or plate carrier mounted pouches for a while.
It looks like Max has arrived at a similar conclusion and ditched his big ol’ battle belt, at least for general use. In his recent write-up on the new chest rig featured in the video above, Max says:
I have most recently been settling on using a light battlebelt, which is comfortable enough to wear most of the time, augmented by a chest rig. I feel that this is the most practical application across operational environments; it works well for both dismounted operations, vehicle operations, and with or without armor.
This matches my own personal assessment after running a variety of gear – plate carriers with pouches directly attached, stand alone chest rigs of a variety of sizes, ‘British’ battle belt, etc.
I’m currently mid-process of re-building my kit to incorporate three different layers – light battle belt, chest rig and slick plate carrier. In conjunction with concealed carry/daily carry gear, these standalone pieces give you the flexibility of different profiles to address different situations. Slick plate carrier and CCW if anticipating potential trouble but need to maintain low profile. Light battle belt for running drills on the range or hunting. Throw it all together if the Nazi Zombies are at the front gates.
Chest rig and carrier are sorted out – HSP D3CR and a Velocity Lightweight Plate Carrier. I may down the line drop some coin on a custom rig from Extreme Gear Labs, designers of the D3CR, but generally the stock D3CR does what I need it to do. Looking forward to a couple of the enhancements HSP has in the works this year. The ability to directly attach the D3CR to the carrier, or run it as a standalone rig is money.
Battle belt is a work in progress – ideally want pistol, pistol mags x2, 2-3 rifle mags, dump pouch, IFAK, H2O of some variety, flashlight and multi-tool. Maybe comms, too. Not sure if I can manage all of that with the given real estate, but we’ll see.
Follow up posts/reviews are incoming.
In my experience, most people are continually tinkering with/adjusting their gear. Trying new things, incorporating new ideas or revisiting old ones. Travis Haley makes a big emphasis on preaching the importance of staying dynamic and adaptive…and at worst, adjusting and evaluating what you’re doing exposes you to different ideas and keeps you on your toes.
Interested to hear from the tribe – are you tinkering with your battle rattle? What gear ideas have you tried out recently and left by the wayside?
Here is a linkfor you to keep yourself informed and on the right side of the law. If you don’t want to deal with the headache of changing laws, get an NFA trust and buy a sbr and a suppressor. This post will still help with assembling and sourcing parts for any AR platform build. So we are clear, an AR pistol is not a rifle, disclaimer over.
Deciding on the length of the barrel was not easy, this pistol needed to be easy to maneuver and 100% reliable. If you are having this same issue do this: IGNORE THE INTERNET and anyone who doesn’t even gun. These people will just spew half truths from YouTube videos they’ve seen and act like they know what they are talking about. Do what I did and call someone who actually makes barrels and shoots these guns. I called Ballistic Advantage and explained my situation to the super friendly guy there and without hesitation he said, “You know what, let me get Clint to help you, he makes the barrels.” Again name one company who will do that. Clint got right on the phone, he was genuinely engaged and interested in my build and really gave me that warm and fuzzy of what customer service really is. I told Clint I wanted a 100% reliable pistol that I could trust with my life. Clint asked me a series of questions ranging from what muzzle device, BCG, and buffer weight I planned to use. He made a few suggestions on what he typically does to make his pistols run without issue. We agreed to go with their 10.3” barrel. He then mentioned that he has a line of barrels called the Hanson Series. This barrel profile was developed by Clint Hanson and this is a brief description from their page on exactly what a Hanson series barrel is.
“The Hanson Profile, just like the quality and accuracy you have come to expect from BA, the Hanson continues this pattern. This barrel is essentially shoulder-less, symmetrically limiting barrel “whip”. The Hanson is designed to return to its home position sooner than other barrels which are beneficial for follow up shots at a high rate of fire or full auto fire. It has lightweight feel without the lightweight limitations. It is truly ideal for what an AR-15 is meant to do.”
I finished the assembly of the upper and all but sprinted to the range to test fire and zero the pistol. After having three fail to eject malfunctions and overall shitty function I went home crushed. This pistol that I spent this time and effort into was a dud. The next morning I called Clint at BA for some help and he dropped what he was doing to help me diagnose the issue. I explained the issues that I was having and we were able to come to the conclusion that the charging handle I was using was the culprit. It was warped and the finished was terrible. The charging handle was binding up the operation of the pistol, so I swapped the junk one out for a BCM Gunfighter mod 3. I went to the range the following day and wouldn’t you know it, the pistol ran like a sewing machine. I put 300 malfunction free rounds through the pistol and held groups far better than I was expecting for this length barrel.
|Post course BCG|
The only malfunction I had was due to a muddy magazine that created a double feed. We put approximately 600 rounds through the pistol that day and it ran flawlessly in the mud and rain.
Here is the link to the YouTube video I made from the course.
Something to consider if you plan to build a pistol; a single point sling is key for maintaining a nice cheek weld while keeping that brace clear of your shoulder. All you need to do is push the pistol out and the sling tension will be more than enough to have a nice tight cheek weld.
Let me hear your input!
|Molly and Maynard|
Would I buy a doggy flak jacket or some stupid useless crap? Or would I be able to focus on the actual fantastic resource my dog will be to me. If I was to take my dog and set her free in the middle of the woods alone with no food or water and did the same to an average citizen with no survival skills to speak of (besides an episode here and there of naked and afraid or whatever fake survival show is popular now) and left that person in the same conditions as a dog, who would fare better after 3 days? My money is on the dog; basically what I’m saying is we would need the dog more than the dog would need us.
|Comparison of Sig arm brace and Vltor E-mod stock|
The caliber options were coma inducing when it came time for me to build a new rifle. I relied heavily on others in the industry that are more than helpful with sharing their knowledge on this platform. I knew from day 1 that I wanted something for CQB and home defense so that narrowed my options to 5.56 or 300blk for this build. When it comes to these calibers you should expect a great deal of bias or prejudice written as if it were fact on the “interwebs” so be mindful of that when you research a new rifle build. (Click here for some fact based ballistic data)
I chose 5.56 over 300blk for the following reasons:
|Most of the parts used|
I went with the 5.56 caliber and decided to work out the upper details later so I could focus on completing the lower first since that is the least complicated part of the build.
When it came time to build the lower I chose the PSA blemished stripped lower on sale for $49.99. This would later allow me to spend the money saved on other more important parts of the gun.
I wanted a compact rifle for this build so I explored building an sbr but I didn’t want to deal with the nfa paperwork. The only other option for a compact rifle is the AR pistol. I took advantage of the sales on Black Friday and saved a ton of money when I ordered my Geissele trigger, B.A.D. ambi safety, Magpul pistol grip, Phase 5 Tactical buffer tube, PSA buffer, and Sig arm brace. (Contact me for the specific part and model numbers)
|Phase 5 buffer tube|
In closing to part 1, avoid buffer tubes that do not utilize a castle nut. The buffer tube I had got loose with minimal effort. This could have led to a catastrophic failure if the buffer assembly fell off during firing. Sure, you could Loctite it and leave your trust in some thread locker but I just decided to eliminate the chance for error and went with the Phase 5 pistol buffer tube that locks into place and also uses a castle nut.
|Buffer tube that wasnt used|
Part 2 will detail the process of choosing what would eventually become my complete upper, if you have built or plan to build a pistol AR or AK let me know how you went about it!
|Sneak peek of part 2|
Saiga 12 to a Mossberg 500/590 as a common reference point. I decided to compare the Saiga 12 to the Mossberg 500/590 because they are what I feel is the standard to which every shotgun should be compared to. The Saiga has a few fatal flaws for me and yes most of these can be overcome with modifications to the gun. Keep in mind this review is on a factory Saiga 12, not a super modified aberration of this firearm. The only modifications that I did to this firearm are the addition of the
Carolina Shooters Supply reliability kit, a Polychoke muzzle brake, and some de-burring of the internal rails. If you decide to purchase a Saiga after reading this please follow these steps prior to purchase. Take off the gas plug, visually inspect the gas ports for sign of a “Vodka Special” meaning there is only 2 of the 4 gas ports that are required, if you have a 3 gas port gun and you can live with a possible issue then buy it, but by no means can I suggest that you buy a 2 gas port gun. Yes, you can have the 2 other holes drilled. But why? Buying a brand new gun should never require you to fix a known factory issue. Second item to look for is proper fit of the top cover (some can be a bitch to get on and off). When you are inspecting this gun prior to purchase be sure to disassemble it and inspect all moving parts including the internal rails, feel for burrs or deformities. If you have 4 gas ports, an easy to remove top cover and smooth rails you have a good Saiga. If any of these parts are not up to snuff I suggest waiting or buying a different shotgun. Where you live and the availability of this gun will influence the asking price for this gun drastically. Let’s just agree they are an expensive shotgun. Keep a running count of potential money you will be sinking into this firearm prior to purchase to achieve the end result you require. Let me know if it is a monetarily responsible purchase for your needs after reading. For the purpose of this review I am using the MSRP of $799.99. If you stop reading here and buy a Saiga 12, you have a shotgun that will run 3” magnum shells with relatively no issues and you might be happy with this, I was not. I had major feeding and ejecting issues that got me running to online gun forums to figure out what I can do to relieve myself of an issue that could be a disastrous if I was defending myself or home. Carolina Shooters Supply has an overwhelming amount of parts to maintain, replace, and modify your shotgun and they do a great job of explaining what may suit your needs best. I just went simple and got a reliability kit and went to a 5 position adjustable gas plug, a better functioning gas puck, and a low recoil spring. This kit took me about 3 minutes to install, it takes no skill to do so. This kit gave me the opportunity to now shoot high brass and low brass of most kinds 2 ¾” and 3” both ran decent and after some fine tuning I was satisfied. I went to the range for some fun with a state trooper I know and he brought along his Mossberg 590A1. First thing I noticed in comparison is the simplicity of design and function of the Mossberg. Economy of effort is big with me and the Saiga takes too many movements to get into action compared to the Mossberg.
comparison to the Saiga12. I am no shotgun guru but I was able to shoot 6” groups at 25 yds. and I shot 8” groups at 50yds. In comparison on the Saiga I was able to get a 10” group at 25 yds. It was ugly at 50 yds. The rear sight on the Saiga is terrible; there is no method of elevation or windage adjustment on the Saiga. If your shotgun is like mine and is extremely off target you are stuck with that, just make a Kentucky windage adjustment and try to remember that when your life is on the line. You can again drop some more cash into an improved set of adjustable sights. This is again your call to keep throwing money at this gun or to cut your losses and go in a different direction like I did.
|WASR 10/63 in action|
|Yugo M70 pre beautification|
|Krebs safety for a final touch|
|AK #2 WASR 10/63|
Let us put an end to this madness of bolting on useless heavy junk that has no real business being on an AK in the first place and start thinking about Function over Flair. Focus on the capabilities of this beast and enhance its strong points and avoid the temptation of trying to overcompensate for its shortcomings.
- Tapco G2 trigger or Red Star Arms adjustable trigger (Only needed if you have trigger slap)
- Krebs retaining plate
- Rifle Dynamics AK to M-4 stock adapter
- Milspec buffer tube, castle nut, and Magpul asap end plate
- Adjustable stock that offers a solid cheek weld (B5 systems Bravo stock, Vltor E-mod, etc)
- US Palm AK Battle Grip or Magpul MOE AK grip
- UltiMak optic rail or Troy AK-47 gas tube rail
- Rifle Dynamics rear sight (optional if using optic)
- Bolton gas block if you have canted sights or canted gas block (armorer needed for this)
- Muzzle brake (Too many good options to list, do some research)
|RD venom antidote brake|
When reliability comes in to conversation regarding the AK platform, even AKs can have issues. Luckily we have Rifle Dynamics on call for the unexpected hiccup. Check out what Lance with Olmsted Risk Solutionsdid with when his AK failed to feed reliably here.
|Iraq 2003 I’m on the left with my first AR|
In conclusion, the AR has been a part of my life since 2002 and I will always love my AR, but adding an AK to your armory is a no-brainer when you consider how much it costs to own and shoot in comparison to the AR. The AR hands down is more accurate than the AK, but I’ll take the reliability of the AK that is a bit less accurate over the AR. Expanding your proficiency with multiple platforms is always something to keep in the back of your mind as well, the AK can be a bit quirky and definitely takes practice to get comfortable with.
|1911 on bottom was traded for the AK|
The 1911 is as American as apple pie and pickup trucks, but in my situation it was a redundant firearm that was easily replaced by my Glock 19. The 1911 has amazing knockdown power and would stop a threat with one well-placed round, but so will any caliber firearm. No one shoots only one round in a life or death situation. The 1911 is by no means a piece of junk or a dying platform. For my situation the 1911 just didn’t make sense and the cost of .45 ammo is insane compared to 9mm or even 7.62×39.
|From a recent AK playdate|
- 12 gauge shotgun
- Pistol (9mm, .40, .45)
If there were to be some sort of mass hysteria or zombie apocalypse or any sort of just boring old civil unrest it is not going to be crowds of people running through the streets screaming and lighting people on fire or suddenly feeling the need to just be mowing people down in their Prius while marveling how great the gas mileage is.
If the event that took place was to a level that deprived us of services such as gas, electric, trash removal even police and fire protection services, it would be a slow burning fuse not an immediate rush of panic. Imagine your small town without something as simple as trash removal or when you lose power for 5 days in the winter, now picture losing power but there is no chance for a reconnection for months. How could you realistically expect to be prepared for something like that? You can’t, if you work a job and have the same bills I have it is not realistic to expect you can be properly prepared for more than a week of complete self-sustainment. With that being said just do an assessment of your surroundings, take a look at your neighbors, do they have a garden or have some sort of flag that hints they have military or police training. People such as this could be of great usefulness to your survival, just make sure you have something to offer to a group before you try to assemble one or you could find yourself on the outside looking in. Obviously this doesn’t mean have American Idol style try outs for your Zombie Apocalypse Squad, but just be a neighbor and have a casual conversation about their hobbies and make a mental list of people that you know or could get too quickly so you could start the process of preparing for when your supplies run out. This is where you get to see if you are able to sit back and wait it out or if you need to start the process of playing catch up and scrambling to find things to keep you and your group surviving.
When the group all arrived we did our hugs and handshakes and then we got down to business. Lance went over the range safety rules and safety procedures, showing us the location of the medical kits and the information necessary to call for EMS in the event of an injury. Lance has clearly done his homework on how to run a safe range, it felt good knowing that the person running the range to the time to educate himself on proper range procedures.
|Lance shooting steel.|
We began our first course of fire with some basic pistol shooting drills to reinforce the basics of the SAFE series. Once our fundamentals were solid and we were warmed up we started to do some drawing from the holster drills and Getting off the X type drills. Being from Massachusetts where drawing from a holster is mostly banned at ranges these drills were a breath of fresh air to me, drawing in my living room with snap caps just isn’t the same as drawing and firing live rounds. We did variations on these drills for quite some time and moved onto strong hand only firing and reloading drills in which we would rack the slide off of our holsters or belts to get the pistol back into action. We moved on to shooting some Vtactargets in which Lance would call out a color and number and we would close on the target and shoot the designated number of rounds into each called target. I did almost all of my training with rifles in the military so pistol shooting is far and wide my weakest skill-set. I struggled a bit on these exercises, but anytime that I needed assistance or when Lance would see that I was getting sloppy he would be right over to reinforce the fundamentals in a manner which translated directly into hits right on target. Over the next few days we did some shoot and move drills with everything from a KRISS Super-V to some nice custom Ar-15 rifles in which he hid some of my favorite targets, the Ivan!
|Me shooting the KRISS|
It wouldn’t be an ORSclass without some serious PT involved, so we did a great deal of hill climbing and pull-ups because you only fight as hard as your body is capable. Lance setup 4 steel targets ranging from a sniper’s paradise target to some really challenging gong targets at distances of 15yds – 320yds. Lance was able to make our long days on the range seems like mere minutes when in reality we were spending upwards of 10 hours a day honing our skills in defensive shooting and long distance shooting.
We ended our last range day with a competition, a modified version of H.O.R.S.E. we would take turns calling the most difficult shot possible and it was no surprise Lance tied for first, I surprised myself and got second place but there was no better ending to one of the most memorable training experiences I have ever had in my life. Enough can’t be said to the level of approachable professionalism Lance has integrated into his company’s philosophy of training. I cannot wait to go back and get some more rounds down range, if you are looking to get some training in I highly suggest reaching out to ORS, you will thank me after and tell him KERsent you.
|Lance (right) and I|
The point of being prepared, not a prepper, is that you are prepared for a multitude of scenarios. Will you be able to prepare for everything? No, that is just stupid. But what you can do is be flexible and be willing to adapt to your surroundings and the situations that may arise.
|Range time is key for consistency|
The key to success is going to be having a diverse group of people who can work together, and are willing to teach their skills to others in the group. You almost always see in apocalypse movies two types of people; you have the “gun nut” and they survive solely by that gun. Let’s face reality here, how does the gun get you medical care or food? How does the gun do anything besides provide security and meat? You then have the “complainer”, everyone hates this person. The only thing this person brings to your group is certain death to everyone but themselves, they manage to put everyone in constant danger and do nothing to help. If you need an example watch Saving Private Ryan and take note on how many people die directly due to Cpl. Upham and his poor decisions or pure inaction when his comrades needed him most.
Things to come to terms with when making a list of items for a long term survival; you WILL eventually run out of ammo, if you plan on hedging your survival solely on firearms make sure you stockpile extremely common guns in extremely common calibers. I suggest keeping the same calibers as the military and police such as 9mm, .45, and .223/5.56. If something were to go completely haywire, plenty of ammo and gun parts will be reasonably available. That being said, if you are a long term survival planner then you probably already have some form of back up weapon like a bow or edge weapon that you can use over and over again for years if need be. Remember, as long as trees have branches you have arrows.
Training or researching in one particular field makes you well suited to write a fantastic article on that one item or will make you great on the gun line, but we are talking survival from zombies rising or the Russians or whatever catastrophe you desire. Having a multitude of resources in your brain on how to not only survive but to thrive on your own will be the key to your success. I mention repeatedly on your own for a reason. You can’t count on having a group to help you in these situations. Who says that your crisis will be an invasion like Red Dawn? Your struggle to survive will most likely be a personal one, whether it’s you against an attacker or you against nature. Having a car accident and ending up in a ravine or being snowed in for 8 days with no utilities happens to people all over the world on a pretty regular basis. Don’t be the person who has spent thousands of dollars prepping for global chaos only to lose a battle against Mother Nature when all you needed was some knowledge on how to make a field expedient shelter and smoke signals until help arrived. Be well rounded, take a second before you leave your house and make a conscious thought. Does my phone have a charge, do I have a lighter, do I have my pocket knife, should I bring my gun, does anyone know where I am going and how long I will be gone for? Something as simple as you informing someone of your plans could save your life.
The mini seed bank cost me about 65 dollars and takes up less space than my empty shoe box in the corner of my closet. Next on the list is basic camping gear; tent, battery and gas lanterns, multi fuel stove, coffee pot, water filtration device, 3 internal frame packs, and lots of fishing gear. If for whatever reason I was forced to bug out, I would have enough gear to make a manageable camp for my group to get situated. This stuff takes up very little room. I would love to have at least 8 firearms. This affords me the luxury to issue each person a primary and a secondary firearm. I try to keep a set amount of ammo aside which I call my “Zombie Invasion Reserve”. It’s basically my SHTF cache. I put this designated amount of ammo aside and I date it. Doing this is not mandatory but rotating ammo is the same principle as food. Why not shoot the older ammo first for range time? You don’t want to chance that the round you need to defend your life got moisture in it and it hang fires or dust doesn’t fire at all. There is no use of carrying a heavy ass gun if you don’t have any ammo for it. Remember, guns get dirty and guns need maintenance. Unfortunately this is the bulkiest part of prepping for me. There is no easy way to carry 1 handgun and 1 rifle/shotgun per person plus the ammo for it. This is where having multiple levels of back up plans come into the fold. Bugging in would be optimal for obvious reasons, but let’s say you have to relocate for whatever reason and you need to go mobile. Are you going to just toss your supplies in your trunk, put the guns up front but accidently toss the ammo in the trunk during your nervous frenzy? I hope not, don’t lose your mind and just start throwing your junk. Think about stuff like; what is my destination, what will I need easy access to, and am I permitted to have these items visible in the current state of emergency? Is there a chance I will have to go out on foot so maybe flip flops are a bad idea? Take a few minutes and pack accordingly, you would not want rush and completely screw yourself in the end such as having unloaded guns with the ammo unreachable in your trunk.