Reader Question Burris MTAC vs Vortex 1-8

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How do you like the Burris MTAC? I’m personally between that and the new Vortex 1-8x Strike Eagle. Didn’t know what pushed to one versus the other. Any advice on low power variables? Keep your powder dry.

Ryan here: I really like the Burris MTAC. To my best memory what pushed me to the MTAC over the Vortex was that I liked the reticle better and the Burris MTAC had a good reputation. I have the 1-4X model. I sold an ACOG to get it and finance some spare parts. I wanted a ‘do everything optic’ and a 1 power (or darn close as a lot are like 1.1 to 30 feet or something) scope that could be magnified for longer range work with an illuminated reticle. I shoot better at distance with a magnified optic, honestly I think everyone does. Also the big difference between red dot (or irons) and a magnified optic is that I can see well enough to make good decisions. Yes you can hit at 300-400+ yards with a red dot but you can’t really tell if that person is a threat or a friend coming to help. My experience with shooting the MTAC has been quite positive.

Pros: It holds zero and adjustments are consistent.

The circle and dot reticle is pretty cool. The circle will work for really fast up close stuff and the dot is sufficiently precise for my needs. Its illuminated reticle is nice.

It is a rugged optic. John Mosby had one leave a vehicle onto pavement at freeway speed and all that happened is it jammed one of the adjustment knobs so you could not move it by hand. Short of an ACOG or say a Leupold HAMR I don’t think there is a more rugged optic out there and those are 3x plus the cost of the MTAC.

Cost- The Burris 1-4X MTAC is about $300 with mounting options for $60-200+. In this range the MTAC is pretty affordable and on par with an Aimpoint patrol or Eotech. All of these are within the range of a normal person given some planning.

Cons- Weight. Amazon says it weighs 1.1 points which seems about right.

Battery- They use the CR2032 which is kind of a special snowflake battery. I wish they used CR123 or AAs.

As to the Burris MTAC vs other offerings. I purchased my MTAC a few years ago,I was in Arizona so it would have been roughly 2013. At that time the moderate cost offerings from Burris, Vortex, Leupold, etc that had a 1 (or close) power bottom end topped out at 4 power. One power scopes with higher ends existed but not in my budget. The 1-6 and 1-8x offerings were in the high end Leupold, Vortex Razor and Night Force type with a cost range starting at a grand. I have been quite happy with the Burris MTAC 1-4x and think you would be too.

Fast forward to 2017.  Things have changed. One power scopes with higher top end have matriculated into the moderate budget range of optics. The 1-6 and 1-8x Vortex Strike Eagle offerings look very appealing. Additionally the ability to put a quick switch lever on the scope to make rapid transitions is pretty cool. I really like that.

The Firearms Blog did a review of the 1-6X which seemed positive.

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/04/12/vortex-strike-eagle-1-6×24-ar-scope-review/

I am happy with the Burris 1-4x MTAC on my rifle but that doesn’t mean it is the best thing out there today in that same general (say $300-500 for the optic) price range. New stuff is available and in particular the Vortex offerings look very attractive.

I would have to look at the difference (beside the $100 or whatever cost) between the 1-6 and 1-8 power but unless there is a big downside a higher top end is better. A 1-8X scope from a good manufacturer that fits in an average guy budget without too much pain is pretty neat. At this current time with what is available now should I find myself in the market for another variable 1X scope I would look hard at the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8X. I would spend the money to put it on a good mount.
For full disclosure I have no personal experience with the Vortex scopes in question so what I say is relying on a quick google search and Vortex generally having a good reputation.
Hope that helps,

Survival Gear Review: Leupold LTO Tracker Thermal Imager

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1_Featured_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_truck_engine

2_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_bird_in_treeAlternate universes live just outside the wavelengths of light we can see with our eyes. Doctors use X-rays, astronomers use radio waves, and the more prepared folks can use infrared. IR, or infrared, comes in two flavors, reflected and emitted. Gen 1 night vision uses reflected infrared light to supplement any ambient light. By using an IR emitter or IR flashlight, a scene can be lit up when viewed with night vision optics, yet remain completely dark and invisible to the naked eye.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com

Thermal, on the other hand, uses a special camera to view the heat signature of objects, people, and animals. Those new to Thermal Optics or TO, are in for a surprise. Thermal imaging is like magic when needing to see inside, through, or across the wide open. And now Leupold has put a durable, versatile, and powerful thermal imager onto the market and into the hands of hunters, preparers, and anyone who wants or needs visual superpowers.

Thermal Dynomite

3_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_battery_housingThe Leupold LTO offers a six viewing choices, and a 1x-6x zoom. The LTO runs for 10 hours on a single CR123 battery, and is built like a tank. At a hair over five and a half inches, and a dense 10 ounces, the LTO (presumably Leupold Thermal Optic) is precision machined out of aluminium and has that rock solid Leupold scope feel. The uses for the Leupold LTO are infinite, and range from those anticipated and necessary tasks such as tracking injured game, or peering through brush for critters or people. And I do mean “peering through”. The Leupold LTO can see beyond and through brush that blocks normal vision, and it makes no difference if it’s full daylight or the pitch blackness of night.

Instead of a photograph, a thermal camera creates a thermogram by focusing the emitted infrared light (think heat or temperature) of objects in the field of view, and then digitally processes them. The end result is a image you can see on a monitor or display that converted the invisible (to us) temperature differences in the scene into a set of shapes and colors that we can see and understand. The set of options in the Leupold LTO’s color pallet provide various ways to interpret the heat signatures of objects. Some pallets work better than others with specific subjects.

A fun idea to consider is that rattlesnakes and other animals that use infrared information in their hunting could be viewing the world the same way you might with the Leupold LTO. It doesn’t take an excessive amount of mental gymnastics to imagine seeing temperature, and it certainly didn’t escape Hollywood with such movies as Predator. And whether or not a layer of mud would be enough to hide Arnold from the Predator’s thermal imaging is a discussion for later.

4_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_case_closedThe Leupold LTO is ripe for a good padded case. I don’t know if Leupold has plans for one, but I found a Nitecore flashlight case to be on the right track. It holds the Leupold LTO in a way that it can be used while in the case, as well as being able to wear the Leupold LTO around my neck or belt, and deploy instantly and as necessary. The case uses a Velcro closure flap that covers the eyepiece, but also allows the thermal camera on the opposite side open for business like an old-school holster. If I were Leupold, I would consider a single Fastex buckle cover system that in one-buckle release flips open the two end covers and frees the optics for viewing. Given the hard-use environments that this Leupold LTO will thrive in, and the potential life-and-death situations that the Leupold LTO could find itself in, a dedicated padded case might be more than a good idea.

Now You See It

In the field, the Leupold LTO is nothing short of amazing. The Leupold LTO is simple to use. Hold down the on-button for a few seconds and the Leupold LTO springs to life. The LTO remembers its last thermal color setting, and fires up at 1x. The Leupold LTO can zoom to a higher digital magnification either by steps when clicking the zoom button, or holding the zoom button down and zipping up in magnification level at tiny increments from one to six then dropping back to one again in an infinite circle.

5_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_green_forestAn odd feature that asks more questions than it answers is that when the on/off buttons is toggled, a set of crosshairs appears. Since the Leupold LTO is not recommended for mounting on a rifle even though it’s an obvious one-inch tube that would have not trouble mating with conventional optics mounts. The crosshairs are a helpful addition if you have the Leupold LTO in a tripod mount, or other fixed container, but unlike the FLIR Thermal Optic Cameras, placing the crosshairs on a target does not provide any specific imaging info. However, there is something known as software creep where extra coded and features appear on something not yet designed for the capability of the code. So if I had to guess, it’s only a matter of time before the hardware is durable enough to sit in front of a red dot like the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro giving the shooter a $10,000 experience through a $800 (street price) thermal optic.

And Why?

Here are dozen uses for the Leupold LTO that will make a difference when it matters.

  1. When things go bump in the night. While night vision might be a go-to solution, but when the “bump” is hiding, thermal imaging may be able to see through the concealment. Remember when the Boston Marathon Bomber was found hiding in a sailboat? It was thermal imaging that give away his position.
  2. Locating dangerous heat sources, fires, and overheated electrical components.
  3. Finding people and animals in thick smoke.
  4. Identifying recently driven vehicles.
  5. Detecting heat leaks in your home or camp.
  6. Comparing body temperatures, fevers, and injury hot spots.
  7. Looking back in time to where someone or some animal might have been hiding.
  8. Looking through walls for hidden compartments and doors.
  9. Looking through clothes for the outline of a concealed weapon.
  10. Stalking game while hunting, especially when animals are bedded down.
  11. Tracking an injured animal or person by following the thermal signature of the blood trail.
  12. Identifying the living from the dead.

The Leupold LTO has six different viewing modes or color palettes as Leupold calls them: Red, Green, White-hot, Black-hot, Black-highlight, and White-highlight. Its field of view is about 21 degrees and it has a 6x continuous digital zoom. There is no focus on the Leupold LTO, nor is there a need for one.

Behind the Curtain

The single CR123 battery provides about 10 hours of continuous use, or 20 minutes per day for a month. To access the battery compartment, a knurled ring in the center of the Leupold LTO is spun unscrewing the two halves of the unit. A flexible circuit spans the gap and access to a battery pocket.

6_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_with_fireplaceThe operating temperature for the Leupold LTO is from -4 F to 140F, and it has a range of 600 yards according to Leupold, but I’m not sure what limits it. Likely it is that the resolution of the screen won’t provide much useful information about objects far away because the tiny screen is only 240 by 204 pixels. For reference, an Apple Watch is 312 by 390 pixels and an iPhone 7 screen is 1334 by 740 pixels. So out at a hundred yards, a human is only a few pixels wide and a few more than that tall on the LTO screen.  Another technical consideration when presenting imagery on a screen is the refresh rate or frame rate. The  Leupold LTO runs at 30hz. The human eye can detect the pauses in video if the frame rate drops below 20. So at 30, the Leupold LTO produces an image that mimics real world movement without jerks or jumps.

As mentioned, the aluminium shell is wonderfully strong, but the housing is also water resistant to IP67 standards which in English means IP=Ingress Protection, 6=total dust protection on a scale of 0-6, and the 7= “waterproof” to water immersion up to one meter. The IP67 is also the same rating of the iPhone 7.

The Magic Golden Ring

7_Leupold_LTO_Tracker_thermal_imager_in_handAs a Leupold Gold Ring product, Leupold will stand behind the  Leupold LTO with its excellent warranty for up to five years on the electronics. And frankly I’m not sure what else would need service except for the electronics.  I know there will be blowback when suggesting battery powered devices for survival situations. Of course the electronics can break and the batteries can die, but if it doesn’t and they don’t you have some incredible superpowers in the meantime. And the way I look at it is that many survival situations are short term and you can use all the help you can get. But if things really go bad, possibly for a long time, the first few hours, days or weeks are a critical time where you need as many superpowers as you can get. The  Leupold LTO really will give you superpowers.

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Survival Gear Review: Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope

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Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_Field_test

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_Camelbak_caseAs you build out your optics kit, the spotting scope is a necessary component for longer-term, higher-magnification observing. Unfortunately most quality spotting scopes are larger, heavier, and more expensive. Luckily there is a new spotting scope space that rivals binoculars in size, but offers the performance and magnification of of a quality spotting scope. A new kid on the rather small block of micro spotting scopes is the Celestron Hummingbird ED Spotting Scope. Where the Hummingbird differs from the others in its space is with ED glass, 45 degree eyepiece, and affordable price.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Spotting scopes provide a much more powerful viewing option compared to binoculars and are used for surveillance, target spotting, and, of course, enjoying wildlife. Unless your viewing leans towards astronomy, a 10x bino is on the high side, with 8x a normal power for those who anticipate scoping subjects during or after exertion. Seven power is reserved for use on boats, and anything below that is for the opera or when something small enough to slip into a shirt pocket is needed. But spotting scopes, while rarely starting their magnification in the single digits, quickly move into the 20s, 40s, and higher powers. In the case of the Celestron Hummingbird ED Spotting Scope, two options are available with a 7-22×50 and a 9-27×55.

Mini High Power

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_posingSpotting scopes bridge the gap between binoculars and telescopes. They range in power from about 10x to 60x. Above 60x and you are well into telescope territory. Spotting scopes are also identified by their objective lens (the target-facing end of the scope) diameter measured in millimeters. A small objective is about 30mm while an average scope might be around 60mm. Large spotting scopes have 80mm or larger diameter objective lenses. As the objective grows in size, so to0 does the rest of the scope that houses the scope’s internals.

Related: Opmod Optics 

The numbers of a scope describe the optics but not the optical quality. Many spotting scopes have variable power (zoom) eyepieces that change the magnification through a rotation of a collar on the eyepiece. The difference between zoom and variable power is that a true zoom will retain focus throughout the magnification range while a variable power requires refocusing when the power changes. The light gathering of the scope is noted by the diameter of the outer objective, and the bigger the number, the more light enters the system. Celestron’s Hummingbirds are 50mm and 56mm respectively. Fifty millimeters is not an unusual rifle scope size so for perspective, 60mm is a common starting diameter in a spotting scope company’s product line with the numbers going up from there. Binoculars also use objective diameter numbers as in 10×50 or 4×32. In these cases, the 50 and 32 represent the objective size in millimeters. So, you can see that even a small scope like the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro is on the big size for binocular and rifle scope objectives.

On the other side, telescopes transcend millimeters pretty quickly when above 90mm. Inches are the preferred unit of measure where eight inches (203mm), 10 inches (254mm) and 12 inch (305mm) scopes are common telescope objective/mirror sizes.

Less is More

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_HandOne major way to save weight is to limit the diameter of the optics. The Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope was tested because it was the smaller of the two small scopes and small was the objective, both figuratively and literally. There are plenty of larger scopes on the market, but quality mini spotting scopes are still fairly rare. Possibly because they can be viewed as a contradiction. The smaller the lenses, the less light the scope gathers leading to lower performance as daylight diminishes, or with dawn still in the future. But once there is enough light which happens to be the majority of the day, the limitations of larger heavier objective lenses are lessened. However, if you don’t or won’t carry your spotting scope into the field due to its size and/or weight, then that huge objective lens that likely cost a bundle now distracts from usefulness. So everything is a tradeoff. No point in owning the best if you won’t or can’t carry it, and no point in miniaturization if it loses its usefulness.

Other features of spotting scopes include interchangeable eyepieces, zoom eyepieces, ED glass, mounting options, water and shock proofing, nitrogen or argon filled, rubberized or armored exteriors, fine and coarse focusing, straight or angled eyepieces, integrated shades, transport cases and camouflage covers, and even integrated rangefinders for those with more tactical needs.

Other considerations of spotting scopes include the weight, size, and brand reputation. In the case of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope, the weight is a touch over a pound, the size is about a pistol, and the brand is known for building world-class optics especially those of the high-powered telescope variety.

Through The Looking Glass

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_window_mountThe ED glass, or Extra-low dispersion glass helps to compensate for the difference in how colors of light bend when moving through lenses. The size of the wavelengths of visible light (well, all light for that matter) causes it to have a unique refraction when “bent” with a lens. Objects, especially lighter colored ones, when viewed through a higher magnification (think more bending) optic can cause the light waves to separate into colors causing “fringes” of color to appear especially where there are light-dark boundaries. To combat the so-called chromatic aberrations, rare earth elements are mixed with the silicon when making the glass. In many ways, glass making is like knife blade making. There is silicon and steel, and then there are a multitude of additional elements that can be added in proprietary quantities creating a lens or knife with unique properties and best suited for its tasks.

Out in the field, the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope is a winner for wildlife and bird watching, general observation of the greater outdoors, and a fine close-work mini-telescope. With a minimum focus distance of under 10 feet and over half-an-inch of eye relief, this Hummingbird can sing. Its lightweight and compact size allow for quick and easy handheld use, but bolted to a tripod or truck window mount using its integrated tripod socket locks in a viable viewing platform you can use for hours with little or no eye fatigue.

Soiled

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_Dirt_EyepieceI did notice one thing that hopefully other users won’t encounter and that is it’s hard to clean dirt out of the eyepiece. The dirt was not inside the eyepiece, but I did manage to fill the eyepiece cup with a fine powdered soil. It all started while using the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope in Yellowstone National Park. It was a particularly windy day and while birdwatching at the edge of a open field, the wind caught the light scope and even lighter carbon fiber tripod and tossed them gently to the ground. Fortunately the scope’s fall was broken by grass and silky soft powdered dirt. Unfortunately the scope landed user-side down in the soil effectively plugging the eyecup area with dirt. Most of it fell out and much more blew off with little effort. However the coarse threads of the screw-out eyecup remained filled with dirt as did the rim of the eyepiece lens. The eyecup was glued in place and required forced removal to get at the stubborn dirt. In the end, it was no big deal, and I’m sure the rubber armor covering of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope would have easily protected the scope had the ground arrived sooner.

Prior to the fall of the scope, I got the opinion of a volunteer park ranger and professional bird watcher. He was impressed with the little scope and was surprised not only with the size, but the quality of the optics. I too have used many spotting scopes and owned a Leica for a while and got some heavy use of a Swarovski. My previous carry prior to field testing the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope was a Gold Ring Leupold (American made, not a Chinese budget Leupold-branded one).

Anchorpoint

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_RangerThe Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope has a 7-22x eyepiece that is a functional power given the small objective and desire to be held in the hand. The angled eyepiece is particularly effective for wildlife but can cause issues if used on a bench to view targets. Your eye must be above the scope so if the Hummingbird is on a small tripod that in turn is on the bench, you might have to stand up to see it. When at the range with this scope, I use it on a ground tripod so I can lower it. But that is a case I prefer my straight-sighting Leupold.

Read Also: The Katrina Pistol 

The scope is packaged with a snug padded nylon case with strap and zipper closure, but I prefer an easier drop-in container from which I can one-handed deploy and stow the Hummingbird. So instead of the included case, I use an insulated Camelbak waterbottle case complete with MOLLE attachments and a little additional storage.

Almost Perfect

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_in_handThe optical performance of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope is exceptional except for the final bit of magnification. Above about 18x, I can notice some loss of image quality, and at the full 22x I cannot see near as well as on lower power. Certainly not a deal breaker, but I am spoiled by world class optics with Nikon, Leica, Leupold, and Swarovski. But those brands command impressive prices where a thousand dollars is often the cover charge to get into play. Accessories will follow and, of course, a tripod of equal quality will cost another handful of Benjis. And what usually happens at this point is that a second, less expensive scope is acquired which will get carried, shared, and especially used. So money and the quality it can buy might also be a barrier to practicality and deployment.

Celestron broke new ground with its Hummingbird spotting scopes because ED glass is usually reserved for the larger higher-end scopes. Further, they are affordable, portable, and seem plenty rugged for their intended use. So yes, my new feathered friend and travel partner is a Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope.

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Building a Basic Defensive Arsenal

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revolvers_prep

oil_well_americaTimes are tough. The economy is rolling, but not like a freight train. The country is in heavy debt from social spending and the support of conflicts abroad that are not really our conflicts. The middle class is taxed to death. The oil industry is still dragging. Ironically, we continue to import oil from the Saudis just as we discover a huge new oil field in Texas. Families struggle to support themselves with two or more jobs. Medical care costs are out the roof and insurance is crazy expensive. The post-election turmoil continues. Who knows how that will turn out?

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

With all this going on, how can any person, family or team interested in prepping afford to supply themselves with essentials much less build a decent protective weapons cache? It can be done. It has to be done with consideration for a bare bones approach. Here are some suggestions to formulate a plan if you are just getting started.

Begin with the Basics

chevy_truck_articleA good Ford F-150 or Chevy pickup will get you to work, and to bug out camp just as well as a $100,000 Land Rover. Actually, the pickup is probably the better choice anyway. It is the same concept in putting together a starter kit for personal protection prepping weapons. You don’t need the top bill guns to start out. What you need to do is shop smart and buy wisely.  With all kinds of debates on this topic, everybody has their own thoughts and opinions on what to get. The bottom barrel scratch kit should include a basic defense handgun, a good pump shotgun, and a defensive rifle. Again, this is not a wish list, but a base set of guns to get the job done.

Handgun of Choice

In the realm of handheld weapons there are base choices: a 5-6 shot swing out cylinder, double action revolver, or a magazine fed semi-auto pistol. The choices for a newbie are overwhelming. If you are so new to this game that you know virtually nothing about guns, then do your homework. There are plenty of resources: shop a good prepper gun book, the internet,  and seek out advice from firearms professionals.

As for revolvers, I suggest you find a good .357 Magnum, six shot, 4-6 inch, double action. With this handgun you can also shoot less recoiling .38 Specials in the same gun. There are two bonus features to that. Learn to shoot with less powerful loads that are cheaper to shoot, then have the full power .357 when needed.

9mm_handgunsIf these revolvers are too large to be comfortable for your grip, then opt for a smaller .38 Special with a four or six inch barrel. This is a protective wheel gun, not a concealment firearm. Go with fixed sights such or quality adjustable sights.  If you want to tackle the more complicated semi-auto pistol that is magazine fed through the base of the grip, I highly recommend the 9mm. This is a widely available, mid-range power pistol cartridge.I also recommend professional shooting instruction. Pistols have various safety mechanisms and other factors that demand instruction. Reading the owner’s manual is not enough.

There are dozens of choices for this type of pistol on the market. Choose a high quality pistol brand such as a Beretta, Glock, Colt, Smith and Wesson, Ruger, SCCY, SIG, or CZ. Handle as many full-sized pistols as you can. Steer away from the pocket pistol for an initial handgun.

Handgun costs vary widely for new and used guns. Revolvers can be found from $300 to $1000. Pistols are the same pricing from $400 on the low end to $1000. If you shop carefully, I think you can find a good pistol for $500 or less. Add a couple extra factory magazines and at least 500 rounds of ammo.

Smoothbores

shotgun_stock_ammoLet’s go simple here. Buy a pump action, 12-gauge shotgun. The 26-inch barrel is good, but some can handle an 18-20 inch barrel. Get screw in chokes so you can hunt with the gun. Choose either plain hardwood or black synthetic stocks. These shotguns will only have a bead sight up front to align when looking down the barrel. I am biased toward the Remington 870, but other brands are available.

In regards to bird hunting, buy several boxes of hunting shells with shot load sizes in #6, 7 ½, and 8. For defense, get some loads in buckshot or high brass #2s or 4s. Add a box or two of shotgun slugs for heavy hunting or heavy threats.

A good used 870 can be bought for $150-250. A brand new one can be had for $289 at Academy or other outlets. Buy the base model with matte finish and wood stock at this price.

Prepper Rifles

There is plenty of content available on prepper rifles. Treat this purchase as mentioned above for handguns. Again, let’s cut to the chase. If you could only have one defensive prep rifle to start with, then it needs to be a basic AR-15, 5.56 Nato/.223. There are dozens of options to buy.

ar15_purchase_gun_storeThe basic AR that offers the most versatility is an “optics ready” version or a model with a flat top Picatinny rail for mounting open sights or an optical scope. The hand guard should offer an accessory mounting system, Picatinny rail, M-Loc, or KeyMod arrangement so you can add sling mounts, flashlight, or handstops as needed.  Don’t go wild with accessories on a first, primary rifle. Learn to handle it, shoot it, maintain it and carry it. Accessorize it later. A good AR should cost no more than $800. At present there are nearly 500 AR rifle makers. Stick with a well-known, common factory rifle. Buy a manual on its upkeep, running, and maintenance.

For basics, add at least 10 high quality polymer magazines. Build your ammo stock up to a minimum of 1000 rounds. Add some practice, hunting, and defensive rounds. Load all your mags and mark them accordingly.

This is your basic piecemeal prepper gun kit. At the very least, this is a good place to start: one handgun, shotgun, and a rifle. The options are many. Wade into the swamp as soon as possible, get instruction, and practice. Advance your strategic and tactical skills with time. Soon you’ll be ready.

Photos Courtesy of:

John Woods
Diane Webb 
Stokes-Snapshots

Survival Gear Review: Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Sights

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back up rifle sights

Backup Iron Sights probably got their start by doing absolutely nothing when an optic was bolted onto a rifle that back up rifle sightscame from the factory with irons. But when modern sporting rifles (or whatever silly name the AR15 is being force-rebranded as these days) irons became an deliberate option.  BUS or back up sights (whether iron or not) appeared as conventional sights left in place, as well as sighting tools such as notches and even dedicated sight-like things bolted onto scopes, red dots and anything else someone somewhere thinks might fail.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Where the problem really started is with the quality, cost and effectiveness of our current crop of backup sights. The BUS concept was just too great to ignore in the highly unlikely event that a battery would die four years too soon, or amazingly strong optics in cushioned metal tubes might crack. Or that drop out of a helicopter knocks your scope out of alignment but leaves the rest of your gun safe to operate. In other words, people wanted to use the fabulous iron sights as well as their optics extracting the benefits from both.

Use Me

The odd thing about the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights are that they are not just for backup anymore. In fact the term “backup” has been relegated to just a single letter in the MBUS trademark, and never mentioned again. By offsetting the sights, they work fine even with a heavy optic running on the top rail. In fact, they don’t just back up the optic, they supplement it by being just as effective doing their job as a 3-9x scope.  And the offset aspect of these offset sights allows a natural platform for iron sighting with a slight twist of the gun. Forty-five degrees to be exact. So perhaps a MOSS (Magpul Offset Supplemental Sights) trademark is in order?

Using the same steel processing method as the Magpul MBUS Pro sights I reviewed earlier, the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights give you a similar high performance but at a 45 degrees east option.

The rear Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sight weighs in at about two ounces flat, and is priced at $105. It has two Back up right sightsapertures just like the other MBUS sights, one 0.07 inches in diameter and another almost three times larger at 0.19 inches. The front Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sight weighs just two tenths of an ounce more but costs twenty bucks less at $85. Both occupy about two inches of rail space when stowed

Twice the Fun

BUIS or Back Up Iron Sights are a staple to any AR user who employs electronic or magnifying optics. Until recently, the main concept behind BUIS was far more the BU than the IS. But with the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights, the Iron Sight aspect gets 24/7 attention, and not just when the optic goes down which happens…like never.

In fact, the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights offer an additional level of sighting ability given that they allow for zero to 100 meter sighting capabilities in 100% addition to whatever optic is above the receiver. In other words, you have two complete and independent rifle sighting solutions. One works close up and the other for whatever the glass on your rifle frame is best suited for.

As Magpul was busy finding bolt-on aiming solutions, they were also listening to customers. And one of the rifle sightsinteresting requests from actual users was for a smaller front sight pin allowing better accuracy….well, rather better precision if we want to split etymological hairs…which we do. For the record, accuracy is how close you are to the bullseye. Precision is group size.

Related: Magpul MBUS Pro Sights Review

The MBUS Pro Enhanced Front Sight Post, or (MBUSEFSP?) is a screw-in replacement to the regular MBUS Pro and back up front rifle sightsMBUS Pro Offset front sights. The Enhanced post is a match-grade scant 0.04 inches wide, or a full 0.02 inches narrower than the standard post. While talking in hundredths of an inch doesn’t seem like much, it makes big difference in the real world. For most, the MOE 0.06” front post is plenty small. But for those who anticipate more a 50 or 100 meter use of the backup or offset sights, then the the enhanced post is an excellent option, and well worth the paltry ten bucks Magpul asks for it. But wait, there’s more. Since the post does not rotate as you adjust the elevation like the old A2 front sights did, you can physically rotate the post 90 degrees and wa-la! You now have your thicker 0.06 post painting your target just like old times.

So my question: Why is the MBUS Pro Enhanced Front Sight Post not standard equipment on the Pro sights? Or MOE (Magpul Original Equipment) as Magpul likes to say. But I digress.

The Magpul MBUS Offset Sights have the same look and feel of the regular MBUS Pro sights including the non-locked positioning, solid detents at flat and deployed, and the same easy tool-less adjustment front and rear.  All the MBUS Pro sights are made of case-hardened steel and finished with Melonite QPQ™ which is just a big fancy way of saying that one of the final finishing steps uses a quench-polish-quench nitrocarburizing case hardening process.

Related: Magpul PMAG D-60 Ammo Drum Review

The gamut of BUIS materials runs from plastic, to polymer, to aluminum, to basic steel, to hardened steel. And I assume that titanium is not far behind, but with a price tag halfway to four figures. The material of a back up sight is not inconsequential. Nor is the build quality. Ignoring the constant usefulness of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights for a moment, let’s consider some scenarios where you really need back up iron sights.  If running a magnifying optic, the two main reasons you need back up sights (ignoring the offset, remember), is when you optic is broken or knocked too far off zero. In both cases there is a good chance the backup sights also experienced the turmoil that killed the optic.

If a 1x electronic optic is the main player in your sighting system, the same two maladies as with the magnifying optic are still real, as well as an electronics failure or dead battery. In all cases, the backup sights need to be robust enough to take some shots without complaining. Otherwise they are little more than rail candy.

What’s The Catch?

Being offset sights, the mounting position cannot be directly under the sight since there is usually nothing under the magpul_offset_backup_sights_charging_handle_comparisonsight 45 degree off vertical. Therefore the sight works best when clamped to a rail in the 12 o’clock position. Usually never a problem on the muzzle end of the long gun, but it can present a quandary for some billet uppers (rather than forged), and non-GI issue charging handles like those with ambidextrous controls. On one of my testing carbine-length platforms, the rear Magpul MBUS Offset Sight conflicted with my Raptor charging handle.

For proper operation I would need to either swap out the Raptor for a lower profile handle, or move the rear Offset sight further forward. But it just got more stinky from there. The offset sight could not overcome my billet forward assist/case deflector, and I certainly did not want it hanging out above my ejection port. Soon I had the rear sight forward of my Aimpoint Micro T1. Now I was able to employ only half the possible sight radius, and the peep hole was anything but quick on target. I had to rethink the point of back up sights, and especially offset ones that I fully intended on using in addition to my optic but not a enhanced charging handle.

Also Read: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench Review

Another issue I encountered is that my rifle-length AR has Magpul furniture with no flat top up front.  The rear sight back up magpul sight reviewbehaved itself this time, but there was no easy solution to mount the front sight.  I almost added a inch-long Magpul rail the top of my handguard, but that would put the sight up half an inch and out of reach of the rear sight. So for now, that rifle will have to wait.

To explore the right/left handedness of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights I mounted them correctly but held the rifle left-handed. I also mounted them backwards on the left side of the rifle for muscle-memory comparison.  Left handed shooting is a mirror of right handedness.  Shoulders are switched. Hands are reversed.  And barring backwards eye-dominance, everything else is the same.  Other than non-ambidextrous fire controls, the operation of the gun is symmetrical. 

Which means the right-hand preference of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights requires a slightly unnatural counter-rotation of the rifle to engage the sights with the eye.  Instead of the trigger-side elbow rolling away from the body, the trigger arm must fold under the rifle leading to a counterintuitive twist where holding the rifle still is a new skill to be mastered.  I’m not sure the market for left-handed Magpul MBUS Offset Sights is deep enough for Magpul to take the financial plunge, but it would be a nice offering to our often neglected left-handed brethren.

Magpul Shoots! Magpul Scores!

The weight and cost of the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights are commiserate with others in this space.  So what does Magpul have to offer that the other options don’t? Three things immediately come to mind.  First, the performance of the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights is exceptional and does exactly what it needs to do.  Second, the low weight, low profile sights become almost invisible when you don’t want them active.  And third, being Magpul offspring, they have a proven warranty and exceptional customer service to back up their products even when your backup is a primary.

All Photos by Doc Montana

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PTR-91 or Optics

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Anonymoushighdesertlivin said…
Sound advise. Ryan I too could use some different points of view, if you have the time and energy. Here’s the deal: I just received my refund (915.00) for 2 eotech 512’s I returned to the factory. My intention was to immediately purchase 2 aimpoint patrols to place on my primary and secondary. Now I’ve been lusting after a ptr GI at Atlantic firearms for 899.00. Part of me says, get those weapons up to speed post haste, another part says get the ptr now or maybe I won’t get a chance to in the future. Thinking optics, is more important……but? Thanks in advance. HDL

 Ryan here: HDL, I have two questions:

First have you factored in the cost of all of the necessary stuff to go with that gun (mags, parts, ammo, etc)? Unless you already have it that stuff costs money.

Second what is your capacity to buy the thing you delay down the road in a month or 6? If the budget is real tight and you won’t be able to put much cash into stuff later that leans towards the optics since they are important. On the other hand if you can buy the other thing down the road a bit grab that rifle now and the optics later.

Without getting into specifics I have had a similar situation. I can use a nice scope to finish up a project, it will cost $450ish. The rifle that needs the scope works now but is not optimal. I also want a back up rifle. Don’t have cash to do both at once. My decision is to buy the rifle sooner and the scope later. Why? I am confident I will be able to buy a rifle scope in a year. The rifle, not so much.

Hope it helps, R

4 Versatile ‘Deadeye’ Optics For The Backwoods Rifleman

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4 Versatile ‘Deadeye’ Optics For The Backwoods Rifleman

Image source: huntandshoot.com.au

I absolutely love multi-purpose gear which can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, settings and applications.

But selecting an optic for your rifle can become tricky, because you just don’t know what ranges you will be pressed to engage (whether, say, five yards or 500). Thus, to slap a 20x piece of glass on your AR’s Picatinny rail could leave you at a major disadvantage. That’s why I’ve put together a list of optics that would be ideal for just about anything.

Here’s my criteria for what made the list…

Our selected optics must be operationally independent from batteries and have a high level of:

  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Ingenuity

Also this means that, unlike actual Pentagon-approved military combat missions, we won’t be able to change up and top off our loadout between engagements after a quick stop at the PX … or await extraction via Blackhawk medevac when we’re in a tight spot and losing blood.

Here, then, is the list, starting with No. 4:

No. 4 – Trijicon 4×32 ACOG

Yes, I do know that this particular optic will run you a whopping $1,700. I get it.

However, let’s consider a few things concerning this particular piece of glass. First, I do believe that if you can drop that kind of cash on an optic, then this would be a ridiculously strong option. Not only did it prove to be terrifyingly effective for our Marines in the battle of Fallujah, but it also seems to have been sturdy enough to absorb the energy of an enemy round upon impact -as discovered by Sgt. Todd B. Bowers.

Learn The Secrets Of A Veteran Hunter As He Demonstrates How To Quickly Field-Dress Game

Anecdotal credit aside, the Trijicon ACOG is an optic that extracts ambient light to illuminate the reticle without burning through battery power — and 4x also appears to be a highly versatile magnification. Considering you can shoot with both eyes open, while still quickly transitioning to targets at ranges long enough to stretch the 5.56’s capabilities, I’d call that a win.

No. 3 – Nikon Monarch 3 Rifle Scope 1-4×20

The coolest aspect about “safari”-style rifle scopes is the fact that they enable the shooter to take game at long ranges; while at the same time, they can also be dialed back to 1x for defensive “gee-willakers, Batman, where did that huge lion come from!?”-type of CQB situations.

Image source: Biggamehunt.net

Image source: Biggamehunt.net

For this reason, the Nikon Monarch 3 makes for a great optic because it does offer that same transitional magnification power. Also, it’s made for the ruggedness and durability needed to survive Jumanji.

Combine that with its $280 price tag, and you’ve got a great option. And heck, you don’t even need to worry about batteries.

No. 2 – Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR 2-7×32 Scout

Let’s change this up a bit…

One unique optic possibility is mounting an LER (long eye relief) system, rather than using the traditional kind that sits about five inches from the eye. This setup does offer a few solutions to several fast long/short range-transitional problems, and it’s also one reason why I picked the Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR 2-7×32 LER. Not only does it offer greater magnification capability than you might get from a 4x scope, but the Jeff Cooper-style ‘scout rifle’ concept is certainly a valid configuration to support your objectives. To further explain, here’s Midway’s description on this particular Leatherwood model optic,

“The long eye relief of the Leatherwood Hi-Lux ATR is designed for forward mounting scout style rifles. The maximum 13 inch eye relief gives the shooter a unique advantage whether shooting at targets long range or near point blank.”

It’s a fantastic system and worthy of at least giving it a try. Heck, for less than $140, you don’t have much to lose, even if you eventually end up mounting it on a wayward and greasy Mosin Nagant project rifle, because you couldn’t stand the LER configuration.

Hey I do understand, such a system doesn’t work for everybody.

No. 1 – Leupold VX-2 3-9×40

Leupold is probably one of the greatest and most well-known rifle scope manufacturers of all time, given the rock-solid reputation for quality and customer service throughout the many decades that they’ve been in business. They probably manufactured the scope that was on your grandpa’s old 30-06, and they’re still making scopes that you’ll probably be able to give to your own grandkids. And then, of course, it doesn’t get much more tried and true than the 3-9×40.

The reason I placed the Leupold VX-2 3-9×40 at the top of this list is because there will be absolutely no doubt in this scope’s ability to perform above and beyond expectations.

Based on the familiarity-factor and quality of this optic, the Leupold VX-2 is el numero uno on my list. And by the way, here’s a quick tip to expand your CQB abilities…

RifleHack: Have Your Scope and CQB It, Too

Don’t want to sacrifice your cheek weld with a see-through mount, but you still want to have your 3-9×40 and CQB it, too? Well, if there’s one thing that three-gun matches have taught us, it’s that innovative methods, on how to increase target acquisition speed and sight picture versatility, have created quite a few three-gun winners.

That’s why I mount rapid transition sights on my AR, which are irons that provide a sight picture that’s simply canted 45-degree offset — and yet still sits on the same rail as the primary optic. This enables you to utilize a higher-powered magnification (without it being obscured), and still quickly engage those up close and higher-threat targets by simply tilting the rifle sideways.

Food for thought.

What optics would you add to this list? Do you disagree with anything on the list? Share your tips in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

Video: EoTech & AR15 Carbine POV Shooting

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I realize this will not be the most exciting video ever watched but for those that do not understand the benefit of a holographic optic it is very telling.

I waited a long time before spending the money on a high-dollar EoTech 552 and have never looked back. For close-to-medium ranges it is phenomenal. It offers super fast target acquisition and super rugged. There are other similar optics out there some costing more – some costing less.

Check out this 4 minute video demonstrating a POV display while shooting.

Rourke

 

 


 

 

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When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break? Part 2

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I had planned on When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break? being a stand alone post. Then a couple things happened.

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.

When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break?

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John Mosby wrote When You Break Your Optic which is a very good article discussing the ruggedness of quality modern optics. He brings up some excellent points. Modern quality optics designed for combat use (vs deer hunting, airsoft, etc) are pretty darn rugged. I hesitate to name brands and get too deep into that debate but brands like Trijicon, Aimpoint, Eotech and the Leupold LEO/mil line come to mind. Also the Burris MTAC is hell for stout (albeit with a weight to match).

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.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown Upgrades For SHTF

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Best Survival Rifle

Outfitting the Ruger 10/22 Takedown for SHTF Duty: Since its introduction in March, 2012, the Ruger 10/22 Best Survival RifleTakedown has set the survival world on fire.  Finally, survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts had an esteemed rifle design of known reliability, quality, and accuracy that broke down easily – no tools required! – and stowed into an easily-managed included pack.  With other existing takedown .22 LR designs like the Armalite/Henry AR-7 and the Marlin “Papoose” either impossible to find or of…questionable…reliability and accuracy, the everyone-loves-it 10/22 quickly became the gold standard of survival .22 takedown rifles.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Ruger 10/22 Rundown

The Ruger 10/22 was introduced in 1964, and immediately became popular due to its low cost, innovative and Top Survival Riflecompact 10-round flush-fitting detachable rotary magazine, quick and intuitive handling, and now-legendary reliability and accuracy. The original .22 Long Rifle caliber branched into a since-discontinued .22 Magnum variant, a well as a short-lived .17 HMR model. Many variations have been available over the years, including dedicated target models, youth models, and “tactical” models with flash suppressors and other “tacticool” goodies available.

Also Read: Ruger 10/22 Takedown Review

The aftermarket support for the 10/22 is nothing short of ridiculous and amazing.  A perusal of a Brownell’s catalog or online search for 10/22 accessories or parts will leave most 10/22 owners wiping away drool and wondering which bill(s) can be pushed off until next month. It’s an accessory wonderland that rivals the popularity of the AR-15 and 1911 offerings…and it’s just awesome.

The standard 10/22 Takedown (TD) comes standard with a black synthetic stock, an anodized aluminum reciever and stainless steel 18.5” barrel. The barrel turns and pulls out of the receiver once the bolt has been locked back and the knurled locking nut has been loosened, breaking down into two sections that stow away into a padded case. The case sports two pouches on the outside (one with MOLLE straps) for extra magazines, ammunition, hearing protection, or whatever else you deem fit to keep with the rifle. On the inside of the case, there is one larger velcro-secured pouch that houses the receiver and rear stock assembly, and two smaller pouches, one of which holds the barrel and front stock assembly. It’s a great, reasonably well-thought-out system that is immediately attractive to many.

Downsides of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown

However, in my eyes, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown doesn’t roll off the factory floor in what I would like to call “survival Top Survival Rifleoptimal” configuration. It will certainly work, and work pretty well, in a pinch…however, I’d definitely add a couple smallm not terribly expensive items that make it much more user-friendly for whatever purpose I may use it for.  Call it “mission optimization”…and my mission for a takedown .22 is mainly for small game foraging. (and, of COURSE, lots of entertaining range time eradicating rabid charging soda cans.)  Yes, I suppose that if I had to, I could use it for self-defense – but I think at almost any range under 30-40 yards, a high-quality, accurate 9mm or larger handgun will probably do a better job in that department than a .22 rifle.  Flame away if you wish, I’ll say that a .22 rifle isn’t my first choice for close-range self defense unless it’s all I had.  But I digress.

Related: 7 Ruger 10/22 Accessories You Actually Need

I have two major beefs with the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, and both of them are detrimental to what I think this rifle would primarily be used for.  Here’s what they are and how they can be easily fixed to transform a good rifle into a better one.

Shortcoming #1: Sights

The sights that come with a stock Ruger 10/22TD are a simple brass bead front sight and a folding “buckhorn” type Top Survival Riflerear sight. Now, I LOVE a nice fine brass-bead front sight, so kudos to Ruger for incorporating that out at the end of the barrel. However, the sight picture offered up by the buckhorn back sight leaves so much to be desired, especially when you consider the aftermarket sight support that graces the 10/22 platform.  Yes, I know that factory standard buckhorn sights have harvested millions of animals and perforated millions of targets, as well as having helped untold numbers of first-time shooters cut their teeth on shooting.  But, no matter how you look at it (or through it), they just plain suck.  A simple aperture/peep type sight will improve your view of the target, help you intuitively line up the sights, and basically be more accurate, more quickly. How can you go wrong, especially when great sights are readily available, for not much money?

There are many different options, but the ones that catch my eye (pun intended) are the Williams “Ace in the Hole”, and the NoDak Spud sight.  These offerings combine aperture style rear sights with Picatinny rails that allow you to also mount optics while keeping the rear sight mounted. Pretty cool. As a bonus, you can just flip down the standard Ruger rear sight and use it as a tertiary sight in case your aperture gets banged up or otherwise put out of action. I haven’t yet chosen one of these sight setups for my pictured rifle, but you can bet one is going on ASAP.

One thing I’ve always loved about aperture sights is how much it eases carrying of the rifle in your hands.  To this day, even as I have reached the point in my aging where apparently body parts and systems start going downhill as opposed to uphill, I stubbornly insist on aperture sights for my hunting rifles, unless I’m going to be sitting over an area where I know I’ll be shooting a long distance that requires a scope.  An aperture sight on a light, quick-handling rifle like a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336 means there’s no obtrusive scope in the way of wrapping your hand around the receiver right at the balance point.  It’s indescribably better for close-in woods hunting, where you need to keep your rifle in one hand for a quick shot, but you need an open hand to push branches, etc., out of the way.  That’s my two cents, back to the sights on this 10/22.

To maximize the usefulness of these rear sights with integral scope mounts, I’d set it up with a set of quick Best Survival Rifledetachable scope rings like the excellent Warne QD offerings.  I’ve used Warne rings on many rifles, and they are of the highest quality, fit on Picatinny rails, and, best of all, retain zero, even after hundreds of removal/remountings. I can’t recommend them highly enough, especially for the price point.  Combine the rings with a small, lightweight red dot sight like the ADCO Ranger or a rimfire-oriented (non battery-utilizing!) scope with a 50 or 75 yard parallax adjustment like the Leupold VX-1 Rimfire, and you will be completely set up for sighting the rifle. A quality optic, a backup (or primary!) aperture sight for close-in or fast work, and then a tertiary flip-up buckhorn sight. Gotta love redundancy in a survival rifle!

Shortcoming #2: No Sling Atttachments

The Ruger 10/22 TD doesn’t have any built-in sling attachment points. Yup, truth. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why on earth Ruger would build a rifle with a definite outdoors niche, then not provide a way to keep it on your person easily. The only justification I can think of is that the case has a sling you can use to throw the cased, disassembled rifle over your shoulder – but let’s be honest: a rifle is pretty useless when it’s disassembled. The rifle won’t be apart 100% of the time – it will likely be in your hands or on your person. But if you’re carrying supplies or other items in your hands, your rifle has to go someplace…and sometimes the situation won’t allow for you to take the time to pull the gun apart and stow it in the bag. Yessir, the long gun requires a sling.

Also Read: M6 Scout Survival Rifle Review

I ALWAYS mount slings on long guns that leave the house with me. Even if I’m just going to the range: the sling is useful to stabilize the rifle while shooting offhand, and it makes it easier to bring with me as I go to check the targets – I don’t like leaving unattended guns at the firing line (I shoot at a sandpit, not a formal shooting range.). If you’re outdoors with the rifle, you can hang the rifle upside down on your shoulder or on a tree branch when it’s raining or snowing, so as to keep moisture and debris out of the bore. A sling also serves as a rugged lashing or belt in an emergency, so it’s just a damn good idea to have one.

But, alas, the 10/22 TD does not have any provision for this, so we have to modify the rifle in most cases. There are wrap-around type slings and tie-on D-rings for those who don’t want to permanently modify the rifle or don’t have the tools available, but I’ve never been a fan of the added bulk, and they never seem to go on 100% tight and secured. Installing sling swivel attachments is pretty easy with a couple hand tools and some knowledge; I’ll show you how I did it.

First, I purchased an Uncle Mike’s 10/22 QD sling swivel kit from Amazon. There are kits that have fixed swivel loops that are attached to the rifle, but you have to remember: this is a takedown rifle. When you pull the rifle apart, you don’t want one end of the sling permanently affixed to the forestock, and the other end affixed to the buttstock; it’ll be a severe PITA to stow away. So quick-detchable (QD) sling swivels that are easily removed from the attachment stud are the way to go.

The Uncle Mike’s kit gives you a couple options to work with.Ruger 10-22 Front Sling
In the package, we find a few things:
1. Two screw-in type swivel studs: these simply screw into drilled holes in the stock. They have a pretty coarse thread, since they are designed to be driven into a wood stock. This doesn’t work too well for the 10/22 TD’s moulded plastic stock, so we have to epoxy them in.
2. One blade-type sling swivel stud that is designed to be mounted on the front barrel band, clamped between the two ends of the band where they are screwed together on the bottom of the gun.
3. Two Quick Detachable sling swivels for a 1” sling. These can fit in either type of supplied sling swivel stud.

Now, since Uncle Mike’s was nice enough to give us all the parts, we have to make a decision: drill once or twice? Top Survival RifleWe can either mount both of the screw-in studs (one in the buttstock, one in the forend) or just one on the buttstock and one in the barrel band. I chose the latter setup and collected the tools: a power drill with a 3/16” drill bit, some sandpaper, epoxy, and a flat-headed screwdriver.

First, I marked a line on the bottom of the stock, about 2 1/2” up from the butt. This located where the buttstock stud would be located. There is a moulding line that runs up the bottom of the stock, dead center, so I used this as the centerline for my first mark. I chucked up the 3/16” drill bit in my trusty DeWalt cordless screw gun, and carefully (and slowly!) drilled a hole at my marks. Use care to make sure you’re drilling perpendicular to the stock profile: this ensures that the sling swivel stud will sit flat against the stock when it’s screwed in. I mounted one of the quick-detachable swivels to the stud, and used that for a little bit of leverage to screw the stud into the stock. I started the threads on the stud, then stirred up a small amount of JB-Weld epoxy. Once it was properly mixed, I applied a glob to the threads of the stud, then finished screwing it into the stock. I wiped off the excess and set it aside overnight to cure.

Related: Ruger 10-22 vs. Smith & Wesson 15-22

For the front band-mounted swivel, I did the obvious thing first: I unscrewed the clamping screw, opened the band Ruger 10/22 Survival Rifleup a tad, and inserted the swivel. After pushing the screw through and tightening, it became very apparent to me that it wouldn’t be that easy, for the barrel band slid right off the gun. The blade of the swivel is wide enough so that it opened the band up enough so that it didn’t clamp. OK, back to the drawing board….

Since the barrel band is just plastic, I took it all apart again, and removed the screw and its nut (buried in one half of the band). I took a piece of 80-grit sandpaper and folded it in half, so there was abrasive on both sides of the paper. Then, after opening the band up a bit so it straddled the sandpaper, I  slowly rubbed the band back and forth, trying to remove the plastic on both sides of the swivel/screw area evenly. It took some patience, and a lot of trial-and-error, but eventually I removed enough material so that the blade sat inside the band and the whole works sat securely on the gun. I purchased a black nylon sling, and after threading it through the supplied swivels, I now have a nice, secure sling setup that can be used once the rifle is assembled. The sling dismounts from the rifle with zero effort, and everything stows nicely in the Ruger carrying case.

Other Annoyances

With those two modifications behind us, there are some other less-pressing issues that kinda bug me, but not enough to get me up in arms about HAVING to fix them immediately.  One of them is the 10/22 bolt hold-open system. It’s a complete pain in the ass…there, I said it. However, it IS functional, just different. It’s almost impossible to use with one hand, and once the bolt is locked open, a simple tug-and-release of the bolt charging handle doesn’t disengage the bolt stop and send it forward into battery after picking a round up from the magazine – you know, like how practically EVERY OTHER semi auto firearm in the world works.

There is a quick, cheap fix for this, though: the Volquartsen 10/22 Auto Bolt Stop.  They’re less than 10 bucks through Amazon, and they are easily installed.  I watched this YouTube video from TriggerShims.com and had the Volquartsen piece installed in a few minutes. Definitely worth the trouble, and now my 10/22 works the way I feel it should, and I don’t have to train with different firearms’ reloading techniques. Winning.

Another small issue is the fact that the flush-fitting 10-round magazines are rather difficult to extract from the gun. Again, it’s not awful, but it takes a bit of finagling to get it out of the magazine well.  Larger-capacity magazines, like the Ruger BX-25, don’t have the issue because they have real estate that projects outside the gun that one can muckle onto for leverage. But the 10-rounders require you to squeeze the magazine release while pinching the magazine fore and aft, and then wiggling it around a bit to remove.

Also Read: The Katrina Rifle

Yeah, I suppose I could only use larger-capacity magazines, but some locales don’t allow them for hunting, or allow them at all!This is a moot point post SHTF, but I like using my guns for hunting, etc., now. And right now I don’t like arguing with the magazine just to remove it and refill it to keep the fun rolling.

A cool solution that I’ve found is a magazine floor plate called the Tandemkross “Companion” floor plate. They’re about 10 bucks and extend the floor plate for easy gripping. There is also a spring-loaded floor plate called the SLAM Magazine Base that helps eject the magazine under spring tension. Either of these would definitely help mitigate the magazine extraction issue. I haven’t tried them but they’re on the shopping list.

Bitch Session Over

Okay, now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, I will say that I really do love my Ruger 10/22 Takedown.  It’s a simply awesome (and extremely fun!) way of having a small, lightweight, effective foraging rifle with you wherever you go (laws permitting.).  All my complaints above shouldn’t detract from the fact that all in all, it’s a great platform that accomplishes, quite effectively, what it sets out to do. And with the 10/22 TD readily available for less than $400, it really makes a great choice for someone looking for a rifle for their truck, boat, airplane, or Bug Out Bag. The modifications I’ve suggested above just make it better…even optimal in my eyes.

Costs for this whole setup? If you have the tools, that’s of course a big plus. Plus if you have an optic kicking around ready to use (Like I did for the pictured ADCO Ranger red dot), that’s a huge cost savings. But the main-item breakdown is:

Williams ‘Ace in the Hole” Sight/rail: $62.99
Warne 1” Quick Detachable Low Mount matte rings: $56.42
Uncle Mike’s QD sling swivel set: $10.11
Volquartsen 10/22 Auto Bolt Release: $9.00

Top Survival Rifle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those adds will be a great foundation to your personal customization..everyone has their own personal opinions in slings, optics, magazines, etc. Go peruse MidwayUSA or Brownells for 10/22 gear and start the list like I have. It’s addictive, I’ll tell you…   Any thoughts? Do you have any thoughts or modifications that you’ve done to your 10/22 TD to make it a better SHTF/emergency foraging gun? Sound off in the comments!

Stay Safe!
-Drew

Photos by:
Drew
Ruger
Bald Steve

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