The Ruger 10-22 Rifle: The Quintessential Survival Rifle

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rifle_ruger_22The number designation 10-22 has universally become synonymous with America’s most popular rimfire rifle.  It is perhaps the most prolific semi-auto rifle firing the venerable .22 long rifle rimmed cartridge ever to be manufactured in this country.  There is little doubt this very capable .22 rifle is a perennial favorite among shooters.  This admiration, too, is carried on by many preppers and survivalists as a most basic firearm for a SHTF arsenal.

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

The gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger and Company first introduced the 10-22 Ruger rifle in 1964.  Since then, it has sold literally millions in its same basic configuration, though it has seen some upgrade modifications, and has been offered in a wide variety of models and versions.

The 10-22 is ideal for every rimfire application including informal plinking at tin cans, safe targets of opportunity, small game hunting, and even formal rimfire related action shooting events.  Survivalists even argue its use for close quarter’s defensive work if needed.  

The Basic Specifications

ruger_magazineThe initial model 10-22 for which the base model remains essentially the same includes Ruger’s legendary semi-auto rifle action.  Fed from a detachable 10-round rotary magazine that drops from below the action out of the stock, its reliability in feeding is renowned.  The rifle just simply, rarely, ever fails to feed and function when using quality ammunition.  It can function virtually indefinitely even when black dirty with powder and bullet fowling. The cold hammer-forged barrel comes standard in an 18.5 inch length with a gold bead front sight and a simple adjustable rear in the base model.  The barrel is locked into the receiver via a Ruger designed 2-screw V-block system.  The rifle’s overall length is 37-inches with a weight of only 5 pounds.  

It is indeed lightweight, easy to handle, and shoulder for firing.  The length of pull from trigger to buttstock end is 13.5 inches, so the rifle fits nearly every shooter from adult veterans to youth shooters, and lady’s alike.  It is a highly adaptable rifle, easy to tote and quick into action.  

Read Also: Ruger 10/22 Upgrades

ruger_stockThe standard stock is hardwood finished in a handsome walnut color.  Black synthetic stocks are now available as well.  Ruger 10-22’s come in either alloy steel in a black satin finish or stainless steel with a clear satin finish.  The rifle’s safety is a positive push-button cross bolt manual safety positioned just ahead of the trigger guard. Also ahead of the trigger guard is a bolt hold open slide lever as well as an extended magazine release for easy removal of the flush mounted rotary magazine.  Many “banana” type 25-round magazines are available as well including Ruger’s own fine BX-25 magazine.

Ruger 10-22 rifles come standard with an included scope base adapter that handles both Weaver-type and .22 tip-off scope mounts.  The Ruger can handle a wide variety of conventional optics from glass scopes to battery powered red dot sights, to more sophisticated electronic tactical type sights.  This makes the 10-22 very adaptable to a variety of missions.  

The standard hardwood stocked model with blued steel retails for about $210.  The stainless version with a black synthetic stock goes for roughly $260.  They could be less when sales are shopped a various outlets and used ones occasionally come up for sale at gun shows.  

Ruger 10-22 Model Variations

The Ruger factory now produces 11 model variations of the 10-22 rifle.  By model name these include the Carbine, Sporter, Compact, Tactical with flash suppressor, Tactical with target trigger, heavy contour barrel and bipod, Target with target trigger and heavy contour barrel, and the Takedown.  Several sub-models exist within these main model categories.  For full details, model variations and exact specifications, consult Ruger’s web site www.ruger.com.

The Ruger 10-22 Charger

Newly designed in 2015 from the original 2007 model, Ruger re-introduced a very unique 10-22 model trade named the Charger.  This is a short-barreled pistol version using the same 10-22 action with a new BX-15 magazine with 15 round capacity.  This pistol version has a 10-inch barrel.  The rear of the pistol sports an AR-15 type A-2 pistol grip.  The overall length of the Charger is 19.25 inches and weighs just over three pounds.  

The receiver top comes standard with a factory installed Picatinny rail for optics mounting.  The barrel’s muzzle is pre-threaded and security capped for the simple screw on installation of a suppressor.  The cap serves as a thread protector.  The stock of this model is a brown laminate.  

ruger_compactBrand new for 2015 came the takedown version of the Charger.  This makes for a super compact and concealable pistol package with the Ruger quick take apart design that permits the pistol sections to be quickly taken apart or as quickly assembled.  The laminate stock of the takedown version is a handsome, cool, green mountain coloration. Both the regular and takedown Chargers come supplied with a bipod that affixes to the front sling swivel stud.  The bipod legs are adjustable for height.  This permits steady shooting off the bench or other stationary platforms.  The Charger comes with either a soft carry case or a hard plastic carry case.  

The Ruger SR-22

I have only seen one of these and the dealer sold it in fifteen minutes before I could secure it.  Eventually the supply lines with fill up, I hope.  The SR-22 is an AR-15 type configured rifle, but built on the 10-22 receiver action.  At a distance you would swear or think this rifle was truly an AR-15.  

Check Out: The Walking Around Rifle

rifle_sr_22_rugerSpecs on the SR-22 include a 36-inch overall length, 6.9 pounds, matte black (Or other colors.  I have seen coyote tan.), a flash hider, M-4 type collapsible stock, and front and rear flip up adjustable open sights atop a short front Picatinny rail riser, and a rear Picatinny rail riser.  The rifle retails for roughly $550 if or when you can find one at a gun shop dealer.  

A Plethora of 10- 22 Aftermarket Accessories

If you thought the world of accessories and goodies was crazy for the AR-15 breed of rifles, just check into what is available for the Ruger 10-22s.  If you’re curious, then check out Cheaper Than Dirt as just one example.  

The list of add-ons is long but it includes for the standard rifles many types of replacement stocks including popular pistol grip tactical type black synthetic stocks as well as the new Magpul Hunter stock.  All kinds of replacement stocks of wood, colored laminates, thumbhole stocks and other configurations are available.  

ruger_clear_magazineOther accessories for the 10-22 includes laser sights, all kinds of magazines including 50-round drums, butt pad extensions, extended magazine releases, hard and soft cases, custom barrels, muzzle brakes, flash hiders, triggers, recoil buffers, magazine speed loaders, scope mounts, rings, and armorers component bench mats.  For example CTD lists 273 separate items for the 10-22.  Let the shopping begin.  One other minor sidebar here.  It has been reported, but perhaps just a rumor, that the Takedown standard rifle, and the Takedown Charger’s components can be interchanged creating an impromptu SBR or short barreled rifle, but it could be just a rumor.  

The Ruger 10-22 in any configuration demands to be included in any prepper or survivalist weapons cache.  There are few other firearms so universally adaptable to multi-tasking for SHTF purposes.  It may just be a meager .22 long rifle shooter, but its applications are just too suitable to be passed over.  In fact, a prepper ought to have several of them.  

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Survival Gear Review: Magpul X-22 Hunter Stock for Ruger 10/22 Takedown and TANDEMKROSS Upgrades

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1_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_boxThe Tree Trunk of a rifle is the “stoc” or as we say today, stock. In a nutshell the stock holds the important gun parts and is placed against one’s shoulder when shooting. I think tree trunk is an apt description since until recently, gun stocks have evolved about as fast as trees. But today there is little sacred ground with rifle stocks to the point they have jumped species and the thing we used to call a stock might now be called a chassis and could be confused for an alien visiting from another planet.

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

I decided I was done with wood stocks back in the 1980s and have never looked back. Sure I enjoy the beauty of a artistically carved and finished gunstock, but for real world applications in my life, tree trunks are out. So with my loyalty to the woodstock in the rear view mirror, I am quick to adopt new designs and new technology especially when it comes to interface points between me and the machine. So optics, triggers and stocks are are always on my radar.

Magpul Magic

2_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_apart_sunlightFew companies in the history of the world have revolutionized the rifle stock as fast Magpul. And given that the stock has been referred to as such since 1571, Magpul’s ability to shake up an almost 450 year old technology really says something. Of course, others have dabbled in the buttstock but none with the same vim and vigor as Magpul and its polymer wizards. Beginning with the AR-15 platform, Magpul quickly diversified our appreciation for choice and customization. And then just as fast, Magpul moved beyond the AR and just recently entered the glorious 10/22 marketplace.

See also: 10/22 Takedown Review

Magpul’s first 10/22 stock was the Hunter X-22. An overbuilt chassis with fabulous ergonomics and features. Frankly, my first thought when I held an X-22 Hunter was that Magpul cares more about the 10/22 than Ruger does. My feeling was an outgrowth of something I’ve noticed in the past, and that is that often aftermarket builders of gun parts put quality into their designs proportional to the initial cost of a gun or by its cartridge. And thus the lowly .22 Long Rifle was not worth a full-on stock. Just plastics, lookalikes, and underbuilt experiments. Sure, some were much better than others, but it seemed any major upgrade in .22 stock was as special order.

Compared to the base model Ruger 10/22 Takedown’s black plastic factory stock, the Magpul takes all of the “toy” feel out of original and moves the gun into a whole new rifle experience. There are two primary pieces to a takedown stock, the buttstock with grip and the forend which in the case of the Magpul also contains a separate barrel tray. The weight of the Magpul buttstock is 29.6 ounces while the factory Ruger buttstock weighs 16.7. The Magpul forend weighs in at 8.6 ounces, and the factory Ruger forend is 5.7 ounces. So overall, the Magpul X-22 Hunter stock adds about one pound more than an out-of-the-box Ruger 10/22. The price in weight of the X-22 Hunter is more than made up in performance and off-hand accuracy.

There are two ways to look at the 10/22 Takedown. One way leans heavily towards minimalism. And the other is to overcome the limitations or shortcomings of a light rifle that breaks in two. The Magpul X-22 Hunter Stock clearly bends towards making the 10/22 a better shooter regardless of adding some additional size and weight. But don’t fear, Magpul is working on bending the otherway as well. Stay tuned on that.

3_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_buttstock_mounting_pointThe Magpul X-22 Hunter stock has an M-Lok friendly forend, and a sling-ready back stock. There are also several points to screw in Quick-Detach receptacles. To adjust the length of pull, the Magpul X-22 Hunter comes with additional buttplate spacers. Two spacers are installed at point of purchase, and two more are included in the box allowing the shooter to dial in the perfect length of pull to fit their needs. Additionally, Magpul sells cheek risers that fit the X-22 Hunter. So you can really customize this chassis for serious precision shooting and hunting.

4_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_stock_slingIn my case, I installed a M-Lok AFG or Angled Fore Grip on the underside of the X-22 Hunter’s forend. On the right side of the forend I M-Loked (there is no noun I can’t verb) a QD Sling Mount. So of course I put on a Magpul MS1 Padded Sling. I’ve been using Magpul slings since they first appeared in the homeland, but this is the first padded Magpul sling I’ve used. First of all, the MS1 works as great as the other Magpul slings but the padding really takes the bite out of a long carry over the shoulder or across the back. And for those high-speed situations, the I attacked an Magpul MS1/MS4 Adapter to add a QD or Quick Detach option to the top end of the sling. The Adapter snaps into the M-Lok QD attachment point on the forend

Read also: Leatherman MUT Gun Tool Review

The forend of the Magpul X-22 Hunter stock has a reversible barrel tray that accommodates the so-called “pencil barrel” of base model 10/22s as well as the 0.920 diameter bull barrels. And proving that Magpul really loves us, adjustable shims are included that allow the shooter to adjust the barrel harmonics through a set screw directly under the shim.

The Next Level

5_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_bolt_leupoldTo trick out my 10/22 Takedown Hunter X-22, I first swapped out some internals of Bill Ruger’s 10/22 clockwork. There are obvious upgrades that 10/22s need right out of the chute. The first is a bolt buffer pin and the second is a bolt release plate. To soften the bolt’s equal and opposite motion backward when a shot is fired, I replaced the metal pin from the Ruger factory with a TANDEMKROSS “Shock Block” Bolt Buffer. The Shock Block is a polymer cylinder that works like a drift pin, but is softer and absorbs the shock of a cycling bolt. The Shock Block also reduces the wear on the bolt from repeatedly slamming into a metal stop. I’ve struggled to insert a softer pin into the 10/22 receiver on many occasions so I usually put a mild taper onto the far end of the buffer pin, a TANDEMKROSS Shock Block in this case. To install a subtle taper on the polymer pin to aid in seating without risk of mushrooming either end, I first insert the polymer pin into the jaws of my drill’s chuck. Then I spin it with a piece of sandpaper pinched around the the tip. Ten seconds later I have just the hint of taper to make the pin behave just like a metal one. Better in fact.

See Also: Survival Rifle Debate

In order to sling-shot the bolt closed, I used the TANDEMKROSS “Guardian” Bolt Release Plate. Rather than the “tired but true” clunky bolt release plate of the factory 10/22, a quick swap of the plate makes the 10/22 behave like one would expect this far into the 21st century.

Another important TANDEMKROSS upgrade I made to my X-22 Hunter 10/22 Takedown included swapping out the factory bolt for hardened tool steel CNC-machined “KrossFire Bolt. The KrossFIre is a thing of beauty and has a vertical movement restricted firing pin for more reliable and predictable .22 ignition reducing misfires.

Since I was replacing the bolt, I also swapped out the small but dense factory charging handle with a longer Spartan Skeletonized Charging lever. The TANDEMKROSS Spartan is easier to grab thorough its larger and more ergonomic human interface. But the low mass of the skeletonized grip keeps the bolt cycling at the proper speed.

Check Out: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

6_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_slide_LeupoldThe final receiver upgrade I made, well almost the final one, was to replace the factory bolt-on scope rail with the TANDEMKROSS “Advantage” Charging Handle and Picatinny Scope Base. While providing a slightly elevated scope platform, the real advantage of the “Advantage” is that you can easily cycle or charge the 10/22 bolt from both the left and the right side of the rifle. Rather than being a total rework of the bolt, the Advantage charging handle is component that engages the existing charging handle but offers an ambidextrous option. When I first saw a picture of the Advantage charging handle, I was skeptical that it would offer the fluid and smooth charging of the factory bolt. But at the 2015 SHOT Show I got some hands-on time with one and was impressed. It worked beautifully.

Shooting the Dream

In the field, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown with Magpul X-22 Hunter stock was like a whole new level of 10/22. The feel of the stock in hand felt so much more precise and natural compared to the classic but ancient lines of the traditional stock.
The Ruger rotary magazines are legendary for their durability and reliability. But there is still some room for improvement and I thought I would take a few mag upgrades for a spin. First is a TANDEMKROSS “Companion” magazine bumper. The Ruger magazines are known are smooth and fairly featureless which makes them difficult to extract when they don’t pop out on their own. The Companion bumper adds a rigid base with wings onto the factory magazine.

7_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_magazine_enhancementsAnother TANDEMKROSS adventure is the “Double Kross” dual magazine body. The Double Kross is a transparent housing that combines two magazines into one piece with a two 10-rounds mags 180 degrees apart but in one housing. The Double Kross works great, just like the original. However, it uses the internal parts of two existing magazines so one must swap out the guts, twice. And that is where the adventure is. If you’ve never disassembled a Ruger rotary magazine, you are in for a treat. So much so that TANDEMKROSS makes a “10/22 Rotary Magazine Tune-up Tool which I can attest is worth it’s weight in gold when the springs start flying.

With all this 10/22 magazine goodness, I went ahead and installed a TANDEMKROSS “Fireswitch” extended mag release lever. Using a cantilevered design, the Fireswitch will release the magazine with either a push or a pull on the lever. The Fireswitch is also much easier to use while wearing gloves compared to the stock mag release.

9_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_backpack_slotsRuger packaged the 10/22 Takedown with an oversized backpack. I was not thrilled with the pack, and considered it far too large for the svelte Takedown. But a 10/22 Takedown wearing the Magpul X-22 furniture fits wonderfully into the Ruger backpack. So I put it back into service again.

Big Boy Pants

The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is finally maturing into the rifle I knew it would be someday. But wait, there’s more. But you will have to wait. So stay tuned right here.

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BMS Custom Made Rifles

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bms_rifle_customJust the idea of having a custom rifle built to your own specifications is enticing.  In fact, having anything created on our own behalf for personal use is rather satisfying.  For the prepper looking for something a little more special than a stock weapon, a firearm from a custom machine and gun manufacturing build shop is the way to go. Sure you can pull completely utilitarian products right off the shelf and in most cases they perform well.  Sometimes not.  

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

Ever bought a new pair of tactical pants or a jacket at the store or mail order, then after a few times of wearing it, the garment just does not feel exactly right?  Back in the closet it goes. Maybe later, you’ll sell it at a garage sale.  In fact, how many pieces of gear do you have collecting dust right now that just did not work out as expected?

The Custom Concept

bms_custom_builds_riflesEver attended a really big knife show?  Looking at all the blades hand shaped and hewn by small shop custom steel smiths is exhilarating.  Then examine those individualized handle panels of exotic woods, or high strength synthetics, all shapes, all colors, palm swells, fits and finishes.  Owning a new custom made knife is special.  Using them is even more special.  

Read Also: The SOG Pillar Knife

It is the same with having a custom firearm built to your own specifications.  There is usually a general platform, design, configurations, and materials, but many of the final details are left to the customer.  Options are the element of customizing the firearm to the customer.  That is the purpose after all of having a custom made gun.  It is tailored to just you and virtually nobody else.  

BMS’s Custom Manufactured Rifles

bms_rifle_top_profileBryant’s Machine Shop in Jackson, Mississippi creates specialized rifles from solid billets of aluminum or other materials.   This is not a factory assembly line rifle by any means of the imagination.  It is not a back room sweat shop either where assorted export parts are assembled in dim light to produce a finished rifle.  Quite the contrary as a matter of fact. BMS’s equipment is the best state-of-the-art CNC machines available on the market today.  They design and manufacture a lot of custom parts and pieces for a lot of different industries and purposes all in house.  For our interest, they also manufacture some of the finest AR platform rifles made as well as other rifles, rimfires, and now suppressors.  

They offer the complete package for sport shooting, hunting, and defensive work.  All of these purposes should appeal to preppers and survivalists of all survival core values.  

BMS has been manufacturing custom AR-15 type rifles for several years and can offer an amazing array of customer specific demands for that one-of-a-kind special rifle.  They can also custom build a more standard rifle built in the precision care mode for an exceptional firearm.  

BMS AR-15s can be customized with any number of features including different barrel types, styles, and lengths, various types of forearms, flattop rail configurations, pistol grips and stocks, and other hardware accessories.  Custom colors and coating finishes are also a trademark of BMS.  I suspect if you can think of it, they can figure out a way to do it.  

Related: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

BMS can even supply optical options from conventional optical scopes, red dots, electronic sights as well as night vision and thermal units for night hunting operations.  You just have to contact BMS to explore all the varieties of customizations they can do with an AR rifle.  

BMS’s New Build

bms_rifle_custom_excellenceFor survivalists wanting to add a substantial increase in firepower to their prepping arsenal, BMS is now building AR-10 units chambered for the .308 Winchester or the 7.62 NATO.  The .308 of course amps up considerably more terminal ballistics on target, thus allowing shooters to reach out to touch longer range targets with greater target impact.  Bryant’s new AR-10 is configured from 7075 billet aluminum for both the upper and lower units.  

The set up includes a 556 barrel, a Velocity 3 pound trigger, a Strike Industries stock, Magpul pistol grip, and an extended charging handle for easier reach and operation.  The slim line type handguard can be offered with either M-Lok or KeyMod accessories attachment modes.  

If the idea of having a custom AR-15 or AR-10 built for you sounds intriguing, then contact BMS for details.  Pricing depends on which rifle is ordered and the features specified.  All you need on your end is a licensed FFL for the local transfer shipment.

 

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Back to Basics: The KISS AR-15

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KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-tactical-magpul-aimpoint-comp-ml3-fenix-pd35-troy-magpul-dissipator-stramlight-tlr-1I admit it – like most gun culture involved individuals in America, I also got way too caught up in building an “ultimate” AR-15.  While I didn’t go as wild as some, I definitely spent way more money buying and trying different setups until I settled on my current “Goldilocks”configuration. I use and shoot the hell out of that AR – it’s my SHTF “gotta go!” rifle – but I’ve figured out with actual use that the rifle just has a lot going on for occasional range use, training, and scouting/small game hunting.  It’s heavy for an AR, to boot.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The basic rifle uses a Windham Weaponry 16” heavy barrel SRC upper, modified with a Troy low-profile gas block, 13” Troy Alpha rail and aluminum Sig Sauer flip-up BUIS.  The lower has a Magpul MOE grip and a Magpul ACS stock, both stuffed to the gills with extra springs and pins, small sample tube of CLP, a spare firing pin, and a full complement of CR123 batteries for the 1000-lumen Fenix PD35 TAC light.  With the rubber-armored Aimpoint Comp ML3 red dot optic and steel LaRue M68 QD mount, the rifle weighs over nine pounds with a full 30 round magazine and BDS sling.  It’s set to go for a SHTF event and is a very capable, reliable, great-shooting rifle.  You could ask almost anyone and probably get the reply that it has everything one might need on an out-the-door grab-and-go SHTF AR platform.

But does this AR have things I don’t absolutely need (besides weight)?  Since building that SHTF rifle, my mind has been drifting occasionally to a “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid!), rifle that is lighter, has no frills, and just works for a variety of uses and missions.  I recently assisted my father with assembling a rifle that he dubbed his “ULWC” (Ultra LightWeight Carbine) that utilized a lot of really high-end lightweight parts and a dash of simplicity to create a nice, functional AR that tips the scales at under 7 pounds with a micro red dot optic and 20-round P-Mag.  I wanted to straddle the line between the weight of my father’s ULWC, the utility and mission of Doc Montana’s “Katrina Rifle”, and what I had built already.  Nothing battery-powered, (though retaining the capability of mounting a light)  just tried and true simplicity.

Opportunity Provided By Colt

I’ve had a Colt Match Target Sporter HBAR for years, and I never really shoot the rifle anymore due to its competition-designed setup: it is a standard AR-15A2 configuration, with a 20” very heavy barrel, non-removable rear “carrying handle” adjustable sight, and fixed rear stock with added weights. The rifle shoots great, but its 1:7 rifling rate of twist means that it doesn’t group my preferred 55-grain bullet handloads very well – the 1:7 twist spins the fast-moving little pills too quickly, and the rifle grouped badly with 55-grainers as a consequence.  I didn’t want to stockpile another bullet in the 69-75 grain range and develop another handload for a rifle that didn’t have the capability to mount an optic optimally, so the rifle sat in the safe and gathered dust for a long time.

However, one day I was talking with my brother about possible upcoming AR builds, and he said, “why don’t you just throw a collapsible stock on your Colt?”  A light bulb went off.  I have built up a cadre of friends and local shops who were very capable of excellent AR builds and had all the tools I hadn’t accrued yet….so indeed, why not modify the Colt?  It possesses all the basic upper and lower receiver ingredients for a great KISS rifle – it just needed a different barrel and stock configuration.  I rooted through the couch cushions for extra change and set to work once I had the funds.

The configuration I knew I’d go to was one I’d had in mind for years: Dissipator, baby.

Dissa-whaaaaat?

KISS_SHTFblog-tactical-survival-cache-dissipator-colt-ar15-streamlight-TLR-1sI remember being quite young – probably before my teens – and perusing through the many stacks and stacks of gun magazines my father had accrued: my earliest firearms education.  I remember seeing an a picture of an AR-15 that still sticks with me – it looked like a mean-looking chopped-off standard AR-15A2; and really, that’s what it was.  Later in life, I found that the then-Maine-based company, Bushmaster Firearms, had put a name to the design that Colt had pioneered years ago: The “Dissipator.” A classic Dissipator is a standard AR-15A1/A2 with the barrel –  usually 20” on a standard A1/A2 – lopped off to a handier 16” length.  The flash suppressor sat just beyond the fixed tower front sight and full-length rifle handguards, giving a stubby, businesslike appearance.  But even in my now long-gone younger ages, I knew that the rifle had a longer sighting radius for better accuracy, while boasting the handier CAR-15 shorter overall length.

Original Dissipators had issues with reliability; they had a full-length rifle gas system on a carbine-length barrel.  Gas impulses and resulting short dwell time were funky and the guns had a habit of not cycling properly unless the gas ports were opened up significantly.  Modern Dissipators usually utilize M4-pattern barrels and carbine-length low-profile gas systems under full-length rifle handguards, with the fixed tower front sight not being utilized as a gas block, as per the usual.

Today, things have come full circle.  After the A3/M4 AR variant reared its head, sprouting its myriad spawn and video game experts, shooters started to realize that the extra handguard length meant more rail room for more goodies and sling mounts.  It also lead to a longer sight radius for any attached sights, and with the modern arm-extended “C” clamp method of holding the rifle, more space to muckle onto the forward end of the rifle and not get your phalanges cooked medium rare.  You’ll see many modern builds are actually de facto Dissipators – short barrels with full-length handguards/rails growing around them, and sights that are placed almost to the muzzle.  Hey, if it works, people will figure it out eventually, right?

But I’d figured out long ago that it looked purposeful and damned cool.  And I was gonna get one, dammit. Or, y’know, in this case I’d build one.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Okay, so I had a Colt rifle and the entire interwebs to help me figure the best way to modify it.  Really all I needed was a barrel, appropriately-lengthed gas tube, and a collapsible buttstock.  I’d had the receiver extension, end plate, buffer spring, and carbine buffer kicking around already, waiting for a build.  I sourced a black milspec Magpul CTR stock from the local Cabela’s, and converted the lower from a fixed A2 stock to a 6-position telescoping rear stock one evening after dinner.  Mission one complete.

Related: Theory and Practical Application of the Walking Around Rifle

KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-best-ar-15-colt-dissipator-streamlight-magpul-MOE-tlr-1SNow for the upper receiver modifications, which were going to require more digging to make sure I did things right.  I searched the catacombs of online sources for a couple days, looking for the proper barrel for my build.  I definitely did not desire another heavy barrel; nor did I want a flyweight barrel and its walking groups.  Finally, I found that my local boys at Windham Weaponry do indeed offer Dissipator setups – I could have bought an entire completed Dissipator upper receiver, but settled on just the barrel and gas tube to replace the 20” heavy barrel that was on the Colt.  In the Dissipator models, Windham Weaponry offers a heavy barrel setup, as well as a stepped, lighter M4-pattern barrel.  I opted for the latter, and was 100% confident I’d have a great barrel; I’ve personally toured the Windham Weaponry facility, and their quality control is second to none.  Every person who works there is fiercely proud of their product and what they represent.  As stated before, my other AR build has a W-W upper, and with a good field rest, that rifle will keep 4-5” groups at 200 yards with no issues if I do my part behind the Aimpoint.

Windham Weaponry offers the ability to purchase directly through their website and I could have installed all the hardware, but I wanted to support another local business.  I called on an old schoolmate, Jeff Furlong at Furlong Custom Creations in Raymond, Maine, to order the parts and assemble them to my upper.  I’d had a custom kydex holster made by Jeff years ago, but had never had any rifle work performed.  He has a stellar reputation for his builds here in the area, so I called on him to help with the build.  Jeff helped me sort out what I wanted and needed, and he got to ordering the barrel and necessary accoutrements from Windham Weaponry.  While he was at it, I asked him to source a set of black rifle-length MOE MLOK handguards from Magpul, and a new charging handle.  He had a BCM Mod 4 charging handle in stock, so we threw that on the pile of parts.

I dropped the upper off at Furlong Custom Creations, and less than a week later, I got the message that the parts had arrived and the new parts were assembled on the upper.

And the Survey Says….

Huzzah! I buzzed up to Furlong Custom Creations to collect my upper.  Jeff remarked that it looked “badass” with the Magpul handguards, and I was inclined to agree.  Though aesthetics aren’t exactly the only thing we aim for with our ARs, you know we all smirk inwardly with unabashed satisfaction when another gun guy tells us our rifle looks “badass”, or some variation thereof. I probably would have skipped back to my truck if it wasn’t for the icy driveway.

Once home, I reunited the old receiver mates and assembled the newly transformed upper onto the Match Sporter lower.  The end result was, in my eyes and hands, delightful.  The weight sits just a bit further forward than a standard M4, and the handling qualities are excellent.  The initial handling time I got with the rifle, comparing it to its fully decked-out brother, made me like the Dissipator more and more – maybe there really was something to this simple, lightweight thing.

The first range trip was short – I barely got it on paper at 50 yards before the Maine 4th Keyboard Commando Brigade showed up at the pit with their AKs and .45 Glocks and started performing breathtaking 7.62 drum dumps and even occasionally hitting their Bin Laden targets.  I packed up and headed home before the cops showed up.

I finally got a few minutes to do some accuracy work while on my lunch last week, and the results were very good.  With Federal 55-grain FMJBT ammunition, I was able to keep 5-shot groups to 1” or so at 50 yards offhand.  Benched groups at 100 yards with the same Federal load hovered in the 2”-3” range – adequate for the purposes I need. I’ll try a few different factory loads and also try a handload – but for all intents and purposes, I’m happy with groups this size from an open-sighted rifle.  My old Winchester Model 54 in .30-06 shoots 2-3” groups at 100 yards with open sights, but will cloverleaf three rounds at the same range when scoped – so I know that the larger groups at long range are due to my aging Mark 1 eyeball’s capability, and I’m fine with that.  I accept it, anyway.

Though I’ve only run about 300 rounds through the rifle thus far, I have been very happy with the package and the performance.  Reliability has been flawless – though one really can’t gauge long-term results from just a few rounds downrange.

A Couple Additions

I didn’t want – or really, need – to add a bunch of crap to this rifle; I wanted to maintain the KISS principle to the best of my abilities.  Light weight and no-frills are the core concepts in this build. In my mind’s eye, I only needed two accessories: a good sling, and the ability to mount (and dismount) a light.

For the sling, I ordered a Magpul MLOK-compatible QD sling mount, and attached the circular mount at the 10 o’clock position, as far forward as I could place it.  The Magpul CTR stock already had a quick-detach sling swivel mount built in, so I sourced a pair of Midwest Industries Heavy Duty QD sling swivels from Amazon.  The space in between the swivels was filled with an adjustable Wolf Grey Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Application sling to keep the whole rig in place on my body.  For those of you who haven’t tried a Blue Force Gear Vickers sling, they are phenomenal and highly recommended.

For illumination, I obtained a 3-slot MLOK picatinny rail attachment point, which I mounted at the 2 o’clock position, also as far forward as was allowable.  The small, simple rail is just the right size to mount a Streamlight TLR-1, which can be activated by my support hand fingers without adjusting my grip.  Simple, easy, tough…and with enough illumination power for what I expect to use the rifle for.

Possible future upgrades that are not necessary for this rifle to complete is mission, but are desireable to help improve user-friendliness:

  • a three-dot tritium sight set to replace to stock A2 adjustable sights, as budget allows – but with the Streamlight mounted, the need for the illuminated sights is negated mostly.  If I don’t go with tritium sights, a finer post front sight will find its way on the rifle.
  • An Odin Works extended magazine release is definitely on the list; they are a vast improvement over the stock magazine release, and I install them on all of my AR platform rifles.
  • A Magpul MOE Enhanced Trigger Guard will also be installed in the future to allow for improved access to the trigger with gloved hands.  They are more smoothly contoured as well, and don’t have a tendency to shave skin on my fingers as badly as the stock sharp-edged metal one.  I saw a screaming deal for a BCM extended trigger guard, so that was ordered and installed on the rifle instead of the Magpul part.

Defining the Mission for my KISS Rifle

While some may say the need for this rifle may be vague or non-existent, it fills a very vacant hole in my lineup.  I’m very fond of running guns that are sans optics unless I need them; I like the lighter weight and better handling qualities…a good aperture sight setup is all I need for 90% of my rifle use.  I’m comfortable and pretty quick on target using the built-in, non-removable sights.  For a few bucks, I can always drop some cake on a new flat top upper and have the Dissipator parts swapped on, once my eyes finally give out (I’m fighting it as long as I can, dammit) and I require an optic to keep my rounds heading in the right direction with anything resembling a modicum of precision.

KISS_shtfblog-tactical-survival-cache-KISS-rifle-dissipator-blue-force-gear-vickers-snowBut, what will I do with this rifle?  I’m glad you asked.  Like the aforementioned Katrina Rifle engineered by Doc Montana (check out his article here for a similar rifle concept that is different in execution), I built a rifle around an idea that requires a simple, light, rugged, and above all, reliable rifle that is capable of security detail/protection, hunting, and scouting.  Light weight is essential so that the rifle can be on my person perpetually if the situation demands it.  In a true disaster or SHTF event, having a lightweight rifle as a force multiplier may be the difference between life and death – and if the rifle is so heavy or obtrusive that you leave it at home standing in the corner, it is of no benefit.  This KISS rifle is also a second primary rifle, so that I may outfit my teenaged-but-larger-than-me son with an effective rifle in case of severe emergency and extra security is required.

I also wanted a platform for my KISS rifle that was easily serviceable, with parts readily available, either aftermarket or from salvaging “found” guns if needed – the Colt fit the bill flawlessly in that department.  However, since the Colt is an older “pre-ban” (is that still a bragging point anymore?) rifle, it has larger .169” trigger/hammer pins, not the Milspec standard .154” pins.  This necessitates a couple spares taped to the inside of the Magpul MOE grip….just in case.  A complement of easily-lost detents, springs, and pins also reside in the grip cavity along with a shortened 1/16” hardened steel pin punch and a small sample tube of CLP.  I like being able to effect small repairs and lubrication in the field if necessary, but big parts replacement, if required, and deep cleaning can be carried out at the home/BOL armorer’s bench.

Read Also: The AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

The rifle will likely stay at the homestead, but remain ready to fulfill its duties with a ready complement of four loaded (and regularly rotated) and ready-to-rumble Magpul P-mags for immediate danger work, or a couple five-round magazines with a small-game/varmint handload in case I don’t feel like taking my Walking Around Rifle for a jaunt in the woods.

This KISS Dissipator (KISSipator?) fulfills all the basic requirements I was looking for when I started building the gun in my head.  I got the Dissipator I’d been dreaming of for 20 years, and was able to tailor the long lusted-after rifle and its few accessories to fill a hole in the SHTF arsenal, all while not overloading the rifle with gadgets and battery-powered weights. Mission accomplished.

The Sum of its Parts

The Dissipator configuration is a great choice if you’d like the longer handguards for mounting and grasping real estate, but without the added cost and/or hassle of free-floating rails.  Really, if I didn’t want to retain the capability of mounting a light to the gun, I could have left the standard A2-style handguards on the rifle, mounted the sling to the standard swivels, and had a great rifle for even less money.  As it stands, the cost for the barrel and gas tube assembled to the Colt upper, BCM charging handle, Magpul MOE rifle-length handguards, Magpul CTR rear stock, Blue Force sling and mounts, and the MLOK attachments is $407.00 – much less than the cost of a new, high-quality rifle (with no accessories!), even in this heyday of the AR rifle and aftermarket parts glut.

Check Out: Windham Weaponry

And keeping it simple?  That’s a personal choice.  I like having a rifle that is 100% effective at its intended job without any additional tactical detritus that weighs the rifle down and requires a larger stockpile of batteries.  I was pleasantly surprised at the utility of this rifle, even without all the gadgetry installed.  The fixed rear sight A2 platform is the ultimate in platform simplicity and ruggedness, and may even be the direction you want to go in if you’re looking for these same qualities in a SHTF rifle.

What are your thoughts on this setup?  A waste of a good Colt, or the right direction to go in? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts if you have a minute to share.

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Prepper Guns on a Budget

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money_budget_gunsIf you were charged with putting together a basic 3-gun set of weapons for prepping and survival use, how much money would you need to spend to get the job done.  If you are new to this game, then this may be a perplexing question.  It is one I highly recommend for some judicious research, reading, inquiry and shopping. After all, in a tight situation, your life may depend on the answer. There are a multitude of choices. Think of this guide as a baseline for your budget picks.

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

Let’s suppose we gave you $1000.  Could you assemble a weapon’s set including a basic handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun with that amount?  We’re talking good, serviceable guns, too, not rusted junk either.  Let’s explore the options.

A Presumptive Assumption

shotgun_prep_budgetBefore we wrestle with the suggestion of a mere three gun weapons set, know we are simply laying out the most basic defensive weapons deployment for personal and property security, hunting, and other prepper uses.  We know full well that most preppers will have many more options, but we have to start somewhere, then build on it.  For the purposes of these recommendations, we are limiting our selection to one handgun, one rifle, and one shotgun.  The idea is to suggest that such a cache could be acquired for at least $1000, possibly less.   And we are not necessarily talking used guns either, but that option should be left open.  There is nothing wrong with used guns in great condition.  

Our choices may not be your choices, as there are many, many options in today’s gun market.  Enough so as to be rather confusing to those just getting into prepping and deciding that some form of personal protection in the manner of firearms may be needed.  To that end, our suggestions are focused to fit these restrictive budgetary limitations.  

The Basic Prepper Handgun

For practical purposes here, we are not going to engage in a full or detailed dissertation on all the potential choices as to handgun type, brand, model or caliber.  Thus we are not going to mince words either.  

Read Also: The Katrina Pistol

handgun_bug_outThe recommended choice for a first prepper handgun or rather pistol to be used primarily for self-defense is a semi-automatic pistol chambered for the highly common and widely available 9mm.  Sure there are other choices, but this is a solid middle of the road choice between the .380 ACP and a .45 ACP.  Sorry, but the .22 rimfire is not on the list for defensive purposes.  

Why a pistol and not a revolver?  For a one gun choice, the capacity to quickly change out loaded magazines is paramount.  Indeed, revolvers may be easier to learn to handle and shoot, but they are too slow to reload under most conditions.  A pistol is a better choice when used correctly.  

With very careful shopping, a consumer can find a 9mm pistol in the $300-400 range, $500 tops.  Among the list to inspect would be the SCCY (pronounced sky), Beretta Nano, Glock 43 (used), Hi-Point, Kel-Tec, Ruger LC9 (used), Ruger P-Series, Smith and Wesson (used), Stoeger, Taurus and perhaps some others.  There is no evaluation of these models here, just cost considerations.  

As with all gun purchases, a trustworthy gun dealer can steer you to a quality gun either new or used to suit your purposes.  Just do your research, inquire of other shooters, and go into any gun deal with eyes and ears wide open.  

The Survivalist Rifle

ar_15_budget_rifleNow it gets a bit tougher.  It would be easy to simply suggest getting an AR-15 platform rifle in 5.56/223 or even perhaps the .300 Blackout or 6.8 SPC for a bit more power.  You make that choice, but know the AR-15 would be a good choice.  For some, a bolt action rifle would be good, too.  An AR could be used with basic open sights, but likely a bolt action will need a scope for an extra cost.  Optics could be added later of course.  Either can be used for hunting.

Right now AR prices have moderated especially since the election and the 2nd Amendment scare is over for now, we hope. Dealers overstocked thinking Hillary would win.  Now they are trying to sell off their inventories.  Right now is a good time to buy an AR.

Working gun shows regularly, I have seen new, in the box ARs selling for slightly under $500, $600 tops depending on the exact model.  Check out these brands: DPMS or Bushmaster.  They offer utility bare bones models.  Used ARs can be found, but inspect them thoroughly before buying or get a return guarantee if possible.  Avoid buying somebody else’s trouble.  

As with the pistol, the AR rifle offers quick change magazines that can be pre-loaded and ready.  Under dire circumstances sustained fire can be critical.  The AR accessory aftermarket is loaded with options.  For a basic first prepper rifle, the AR is hard to beat.  

The Elementary Smoothbore

shotgun_stock_ammoBuying a decent shotgun is probably the easiest of the triple threat.  Recommendations are easier, too.  Buy a pump action shotgun, either a classic Remington 870, a Mossberg 500 or Savage in 12 gauge.  Get serious and forget the 20 gauge.  Stick with a basic hardwood stock, but synthetic is OK if the price point is right.  An ideal defense shotgun would have a barrel of 26-inches or less.  The 20-inch tactical barrel is easier to handle indoors and around barriers.  Make sure the barrel accepts screw in choke tubes so the shotgun can be used for multiple purposes such as hunting.

Related: Survival Shotgun Selection

Good, serviceable used pump shotguns can be found for less than $200.  New ones can be found for $269-329 with some companies offering rebates as well.  I just saw an H&R Partner Protection model at Academy for $179, new.  There may be additional sales after the New Year begins.

If you work hard, shop smart, and have some luck, this 3-gun set can be bought for $1000 or close to it.  Next as appropriations become available start stocking ammo.  How much?  At least 1000 rounds each of pistol and rifle ammo and 500 shotshell rounds.  Again, these are starting places.  

Undoubtedly, these recommendations will spark debate, criticism, and opinions.  We welcome that.  The ultimate goal here is to outfit new preppers with the basic gear they need to survive a host of SHTF scenarios.  

Building a Basic Defensive Arsenal

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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

The Ubiquitous 30-30 Lever Gun

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lever_action_chamberDear survivalists and preppers, have we gone AR and AK nuts? Hey, you know what, there are viable alternatives to the multi-round, mag latch, muzzle flash black guns so often associated with the bug out movement. For one, this author contends a good ole reliable, lever action 30-30 has a role to play in our survivalist work. Sometimes the best choice is the most iconic one.

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

If you’re into such things, you can revisit the original lever action rifle developed in 1894.  The Henry “load once, shoot all day” rifles, among other efforts, pre-date the early Winchesters that ‘won the American west‘. The 30-30 came a year later as the first American centerfire smokeless powder load.

Even today, the so-called aged 30-30 Winchester remains the benchmark deer hunting cartridge mainly because it delivers ample killing power at reasonable ranges. Still widely available in factory ammo loads using 150-170 grain bullets, the 30-30 is no magnum, but is still effective.

The Outfit that Fits

lever_actions_saleA lever action 30-30 rifle is a versatile bug out rifle for woods, field, or ranch. It can be used for protection, patrol, varmint control, and hunting. These rifles are generally lightweight, handy to wield, and easy to shoot with low recoil. It is just as useful for protecting the bug in residence. The common variety 30-30 lever gun offers a 20-inch tube with some models sporting carbine, or compact rifled barrels. The under-barrel magazine tube holds 5-6 rounds with one additional loaded in the chamber. Sure, not a mag change, but cartridges are easily inserted into the side action loading gate. Lever action cycling is fast, effective, and accurate. What’s more, the lever action rifle is a reliable, well-tested choice. The lever gun is a good alternative fit for many preppers.

Related: Ruger Charger Takedown

As promoted, the typical lever action rifle is a handy tool. It is straight-forward in its use with no complicated buttons, switches, releases or other distractions. This rifle format is easy to load, operate, and chamber. The lever action is a positive camming action that rarely fails to work.

Normally, the external hammer is positioned in a half-cock safe position prior to fully cocking the hammer for firing. Many of today’s new factory lever guns also offer a slide bolt safety lock that is simple to manipulate. First time and experienced shooters will find the lever gun easy to operate. The mechanism becomes second nature.

Barrel lengths of lever guns vary from short carbine lengths of 16-inches to the factory standard barrel of 20-inches. There are some models that have longer tubes and some with intermediate barrel lengths. Shop for what you can handle best.

Lever guns most often come supplied with factory installed open sights, usually a simple buckhorn adjustable sight dovetailed into the barrel. The forward front sight can be a simple ramp or hooded ramp to reduce glare. Most current production lever guns have the upper receiver drilled and tapped for installing a scope mount for an optical riflescope.

lever_action_kid_rifleLever guns weigh in the neighborhood of 6-7 pounds, loaded. Many models have sling swivel studs to install a shoulder sling for ease of carry or for shooting support. They are not cumbersome to tote and can be pressed into service quickly and smoothly onto a distant target. A sling can be carried across the chest to free up both hands for other tasks, yet the rifle can be rolled out of the carry mode and easily shouldered for shooting.

Lever guns usually come with wood stocks but newer versions are now offering black synthetic buttstocks and forearms. Rifle finishes vary from a standard blued metal, matte finishes, or stainless steel models. Select the features that suit your needs and applications best.

The Lever Gun Market

Lever action rifle models are currently available from Winchester, Marlin, Rossi, Mossberg, and Henry Repeating Arms. These manufacturer’s offer models in 30-30, smaller handgun equivalent loads, and heavier loads like the 45-70. The 30-30 remains the moderate alternative.

See Also: The Theory and Practical Application of The Walking Around Rifle 

A new lever action rifle is going to set you back from $450 to upwards of $600, maybe slightly more. They are certainly cheaper than most AR rifles. Sales on lever guns can be found and shopped. Gun shows will have new and used rifles. If you go the used route, just be certain you are confident the rifle is in excellent condition. Stay clear of rifles with rust or an abusive appearance. You’ll know an overused gun when you see it.

Distractors?

lever_action_standingTo be honest, the typical lever action 30-30 rifle is no AR-15. But, let’s not get lost comparing apples to oranges. The obvious distractor could be the loaded ammunition capacity. However, load up the magazine, put one extra in the chamber and use a buttstock ammo holder to carry six more rounds on the rifle. That is plenty of ammo for hunting and deterring threats. Put twenty more rounds on belt loops or in an easy access pouch on your carry backpack. It sure beats lugging along a half dozen AR mags in a heavy, hot front carry vest. ARs definitely have their places, but not all the time. Preppers should always be open to alternatives; adopt them and adapt to them.  Is the 30-30 lever action rifle an ideal set up? Well, no. It probably isn’t ideal for every bug-out or bug-in application. But, it is another choice worthy of serious consideration. Easy to operate, carry, deploy, shoot, and maintain, the 30-30 lever gun has a lot going for it.

Photos Courtesy of:

John Woods

Interested in writing for us? Send a sample of your work and an introductory statement to joel@survivalcache.com. Please use subject line: ‘Write for SurvivalCache/SHTFBlog’. If you’re a good fit, we’ll publish your work and compensate you accordingly.

Quick Buyer’s Guide to Imported AK Market

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ak-47The Presidential Election, mass shootings and terror attacks on our soil have touched off a “mini-panic”, not quite the size or scale we saw in 2013 after Sandy Hook.  This mini-panic has again focused the attention of would-be gun owners, and current owners of two type of firearms: handguns and semi-auto rifles.  The two most popular platforms of rifles right now flying off store shelves are of the course the AR-15 and it’s many variants, and the many AK type rifles.

By Zach Dunn a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

This is not an article debating the superiority of either of these rifles.  I’ve written this to provide a quick buyer’s guide for anyone looking to buy their first AK.  With several of these rifles available on the US market, I am going to focus on just a few “every man’s rifles”.  The criteria being a rifle must be affordable, reliable, well built, and reasonably accurate.

The Avtomat Kalashnikova (AK)

Mikhail Kalashnikov designed his world changing rifle during the closing days of World War II and it was adopted by the Soviet Military in 1947.  Since then, the number of AK-47s, AKMs, and AK-74 rifles and their many variants are estimated to be between 150-200 million throughout the world as of 2016.

viet_cong_ak47The AK first came to America in large numbers starting in the 1980s.  For 3 decades, it was the semi-auto rifle just about anyone could afford with prices under $400.  I bought my first Romanian AK, a WASR-10/63 in 2007 for $350.  Up until a few years ago, you could still get an AK for around $4-500, sadly those days are gone.  The AK’s reputation as being a reliable rifle has strongly resonated with millions of American shooters, who in turn own millions of AK type rifles.  Though not as popular in the US as the AR-15, the AK is not going anywhere. The AK rifles in America fall into 2 distinct groups: imports, and domestic built rifles. In This article, we will be discussing AK series rifles currently imported into the United States.   

Current Import Rifles

These are the rifles that I recommend for purchase.  The reason being they are made the way a Kalashnikov pattern rifle should be.  The trunnions are forged from solid hunks of steel as are the bolt carriers.  The barrels are cold hammer forged, and most of them are chrome lined.  CHF chrome lined barrels are known to last well over 50,000 rounds, with cases of over 100,000 rounds reported.  With the current geopolitical system, the AK import market in America is limited.  That said, there are still some very solid options available.  

The WASR-10: for years the WASR-10 was derided as just a cheap rifle.  Early versions were known for canted sights and even canted barrels.  But WASRs worked, didn’t jam and were affordable.  For the price of less than $400, you could have a solid semi-auto rifle, 2 magazines, and a bayonet.  American shooter bought them by the truckload.

century_arms_wasr-10After years of complaints, most of the WASRs problems have gone away and new canted rifles are rare.  The WASR is made by Cugir (pronounced Soo-gar) in Romania and is imported by Century Arms.  WASRs are in nearly every way a mil-spec AK built on the same production lines as AKMs for the Romanian military and exports.  The only noticeable differences are the lack of dimples on its stamped receiver and a single stack bolt.  The WASR-10 enter America in the single stack magazine configuration, the mag wells are widened to accept standard AK double stack magazines and some US parts added.  Beyond this, it is an AKM.  Reliability is very high, and most rifles that are now imported are very straight.  

Even with the better quality, when buying a WASR it is prudent to inspect the rifle and make sure the sights, barrel, and trunnions are straight, and the rivets look good.  Additionally, some rifles imported in 2015 had extractor issues, it is a very easy fix taking less than 10 minutes to replace the old extractor with a new one.  At the time of this writing expect to pay between $650 and $800 for a new WASR.  Cost:  Expect to pay between $600-720 on a new WASR, prices are coming down after the election cycle.

Romanian M10/RH10: Think of it as a WASR (which it is), with better fit and finish, and a front sight with integrated front sight.  Offered by M+M as the M10, and imported by Century as the RH10 both offerings are the same firearm.  Folding stocks, AR style flash hider, and polymer stock all are geared towards the tactical shooter or AR-15 owner.  Cost: Average price is hovering around $700-750.

7-6239_imageArsenal: has built a reputation as a solid AK builder, and it is often held up as the best imported AK in the US.  Arsenal imports rifles built at the Arsenal Factory in Bulgaria and before 2014, also imported rifles Russian-made rifles as well.  Their SLR and SAM rifles have built a solid reputation amongst US shooters and collectors as solid, battle ready rifles.  SLR rifles come with a stamped receiver chambered in 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm or 5.56x45mm.  SAM rifles are built in the original AK-47 style with a forged receiver.  

The only complaints that have gained any traction with Arsenal firearms are that the price tag is steep, and when compared to a new WASR, the reliability is about the same.  The fit and finish of the Arsenal are undoubtedly better, though there are reports of bubbling paint (does not affect rifles’ performance).  Cost: SLR Series will cost between $1000-1200, SAM will be north of $1200.

Zastava: Another extremely popular current import rifle is the N-Pap rifles made by Zastava in Serbia.  Zastava has been producing and exporting M70 series AK rifles to the US since the 1980s when American Arms and Mitchell Arms first started importing them in the late 1980s.  Zastava rifles are now, like WASRs, imported by Century Arms International.  Zastava rifles come with a cold hammer forged barrel and is built with forged trunnions. The barrel, however, is not chrome lined.  

New Zastava N-Paps have a mixed reputation.  Their predecessor, the O-Pap rifles had solid reputations. However, N-Pap rifles are known to have poor receivers that stress crack after several thousand rounds. Battlefield Las Vegas has pulled N-Paps off their rental lines after many of their rifles experienced stress cracks in their receivers.  Cost: $650-700.

atfVEPR: In 2014, Obama and the ATF banned the importation of certain arms and ammunition from the Russian Federation.  This included Saiga rifles which were based on the Russian AKM and AK-74.  Saiga rifles were commonly rebuilt and converted to near mil-spec configuration.  When the ban fell, the only remaining Russian-built AKM style rifle that was legal for import was the Vepr.  Veprs are known for their high quality, fit, and finish.  They are built with the same forged trunnions and cold hammer forged chrome lined barrels that AKs around the world are known for.

Veprs are a little different than other AKMs, in that they are RPK style rifles.  Meaning they have a thicker receiver and trunnions and are very close to the Russian RPK family of light machine guns.  

A Vepr can be purchased in both the uncovered sporting configuration or converted into an AKM style rifle.  If purchased in the imported sporting configuration, some work will need to be done to convert the rifle to handle double stack standard AK magazines.  Cost: An unconverted Vepr will run between $680-800, fully converted expect to pay $1100-1300.

Photos Courtesy of:

Rich Miller
Caio Morais’

10 Best Survival Rifles To Protect Your Family

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Today I want to share what has become my favorite article on rifles. When it comes to rifles–and all firearms, for that matter–there isn’t a perfect choice that would be ideal in every situation. Rather, it depends on what your goal is. As the author says, “In the right application, a dump truck is extremely […]

The post 10 Best Survival Rifles To Protect Your Family appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Notes on Keeping Your AR Running

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m-4-soldierThe world is rapidly changing and smart preppers pay attention and try to adapt to the changes. In regards to firearms and ammunition, there is a very real possibility that we will elect a President who is an avowed enemy of the 2nd Amendment. I have discussed the ramifications of this in my article This Election as a SHTF Scenario. Many concerned citizens are continuing to purchase firearms for the hard times they feel are ahead. And many of them are selecting AR style rifles for their personal defense and as part of their preps. I discussed one I recently bought here. And a lot of these folks are not military veterans who have had the luxury of marrying the “Little Black Rifle” in the past. This article is for the new  owner of an AR, or someone with not a whole lot of experience in running or maintaining it.

First, if you are a new AR owner, you need to learn to disassembly your rifle properly. ( I use the term AR to describe the AR-15, M-16, M-4 series of rifles, both military and civilian versions). I’m not going to cover that here. There are a lot of excellent references on the AR system. If nothing else, get a copy of the military armorer’s41fdjvw3mrl__sx387_bo1204203200_ manual or any of the commercial manuals on it

Understanding the Operating System

directm16The AR uses a direct impingement gas system. This means that there is no piston, rather the gas is bled off the barrel and impinges directly on the bolt through the bolt key. This is why cleaning certain areas is critical to keep it running and has an effect on ammunition selection as well. I will discuss ammo in a future article. Here are some of the special cleaning and inspection considerations with the AR series rifles.

Cleaning and Inspecting

Barrel:  The barrel is cleaned like any other rifle from the chamber end using a bore brush,solvent and correct size patches.. But special attention must be given to the chamber due to the design of the locking lugs. A special chamber cleaning brush ischamber-brush needed to properly clean the chamber and the locking lug recesses. This is a critical area of this rifle and causes the lion’s share of malfunctions when excessively dirty! The brush will clean not only the chamber but the locking lug recesses as well. Use Q-tips and pipe cleaners to clean the recesses. There are also special patches and wipe mops designed for this that you can find online.

Bolt Carrier: There are some areas on this that you need to pay special attention to. bolt-2_2The gas key on top of the bolt carrier is particularly important. First, inspect the screws on top and ensure they are tight. Insure the stakes are good so the screws will not move. You should be able to grasp the key with one hand and the bolt carrier with the other and there should be no movement. The key needs to be solid on the carrier or you will have problems with it dragging on the gas tube which enters the mouth of the key. Clean the inside of the tube on the gas key with a pipe cleaner and solvent. A totally worn out .223 chamber brush can also be used. Insure you totally dry it so that there is no solvent or oil in the tube. This is where the gas impinges on the bolt and any solvent or oil will be turned to hard carbon immediately. Inspect the mouth of the hole in the key. See if it is pinged or split. If so, it means the key is striking on and dragging against the gas tube that enters the receiver. Take the stripped bolt carrier and replace it in the receiver and run it back and forth to see if it is dragging on the tube. If it drags, you are going to have to very carefully adjust the angle of the gas tube with a screw driver and bend it so it does not drag. I spent a year and a half rebuilding M-16s for the Army in a Depot level facility, and had to do this often. Care in cleaning the upper receiver and not bending the gas tube to begin with is important.

Bolt: The are a couple things on the bolt you need to pay close attention to. Make sure to clean all the carbon and brass particles from the bolt face, and especially ar-15-boltunder the extractor claw with a tooth brush and pipe cleaners. It isn’t necessary to take the extractor off each time, but if you do, insure you do not lose the pin and the small plastic piece that fits in the spring. Insure you clean the recesses between the locking lugs well. There are three gas rings at the rear of the bolt. Each has a space in it. Insure that these three spaces are not aligned. On the back side of the rings the bolt shaft carbons up heavily. Let it soak in solvent for awhile and scrub the carbon off with a brass brush.

Upper Receiver: The main thing here is to clean well around the gas tube but insure you do not bend it. A cleaning rag for most of it and Q-tips and pipe cleaners around the gas tube will get the job done. Do not get lubrication or solvent in the gas tube.

Lower receiver: Ease the hammer forward and clean the lower receiver with Q-tips and solvent. Lubricate the top of the hammer where the bolt carrier rides over it.

 Other things to inspect: Insure both take down pins are solid. You should be able to push them out with your fingers or a cartridge tip, but it shouldn’t be too easy. Check the flash suppressor on the muzzle and ensure it is not loose. The firing pin tip should be nicely rounded without sharp edges.

Spare Parts

Considering the political climate, having spare parts on hand would be a good idea.  Firing pin, extractor and extractor spring would be a couple of good ones. But there is one part that you absolutely need to have a couple extra of. The firing pin retaining pin

Otis Cleaning Kit

Otis Cleaning Kit

is basically a 3 cent cotter key, without which, you bolt will not function.firing-pin-retaining-pin And they are very easy to loose when cleaning your weapon in a field environment. Keep at least one spare in your field cleaning kit. For more information on cleaning kits, please see my article Weapons Cleaning Kits for the Bug Out Bag.

Lubrication

This is a seriously critical issue with AR style rifles, and is one area that AK’s are better in. You need to properly lubricate your AR to keep it running. There is an ongoing controversy about shooting steel case ammunition in AR’s which I addressed in The Truth About Steel Cased ammunition.  I have seen a pretty fair number of AR’s actually lock up using steel cased ammo and in EVERY instance they were pretty dirty71c-nbsrysl__sl1500_ and bone dry! There are a lot of really good lubes on the market, but if you are a new AR owner you can’t go wrong with Break Free CLP. You can use it as a cleaner, lubricant and preservative.

 Important Lubrication Points On The Bolt Carrier Group

Lube the entire bolt head including the gas rings. Lubricate the locking lugs, and place a couple drops of oil in the two holes in the side of the bolt carrier. Lube the rails on the bolt carrier that ride in the recesses inside the upper receiver.

bolt-1

Lubricate the cam pin and the bearing surfaces it cams on inside the bolt carrier.

bolt-2

If you are a new AR owner, keeping your AR properly cleaned and properly lubricated, will insure it  serves you well in the difficult situations you probably bought it for. As I write this, AR’s are flying off the dealer shelves.

These are just a few hints on keeping the AR running and many experienced AR shooters will probably have more to add so feel free to comment. In future articles I will discuss magazines and ammunition.

Filed under: Azweaponcraftprepper Tagged: defensive weapon, Maintaining an M-14 or M-4, Personal defense, Survival rifles

Book Review: Air Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide

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air_rife_great_quality_prep

I’ll say from the outset that I’m less familiar with air guns than “traditional” guns. Air rifles, to me, have always fallen into the christmas_story_markwith_airrifle_bbguncategory of a BB gun, the “Red Rider” type that Ralphie wished for in the classic movie, A Christmas Story. A “rifle” that kids use as a precursor to getting a rimfire rifle, something they can use to understand the principles of gun safety while knocking soda cans over with an air-powered BB.  This book, along with some independent research, shattered my preconceptions of the air rifle. As it turns out, the air rifle has a rich history and a variety of applications. As much as it hurts to admit, the air rifle may be a valuable tool in skirting gun control laws.  As bleak as it may sound, plinking around with an air rifle may be the only option in the future.

By Mark Puhaly, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

In any event, let’s dispense with the gloom and doom and get into the world of air rifles. Exploring the details of miscellaneous weapons types is always fun.  It’s even more fun when it brings you back to the days of plinking around the backyard as a kid.

Overview 

The modern air rifle, in case you’re unaware, is vastly different from its predecessor. The first air rifle, it seems, dates back to around 1580 air_rife_book_markwith_survivaland now sits in a museum in Stockholm.  After a bit of cursory research, I learned early, advanced air rifles were used for hunting wild boar and deer.  Of course, these rifles were a bit more hardcore than your traditional BB Gun.  In fact, old air rifles were used in military applications as well.  Today’s more modern air rifle can do just that in a survival situation.  And with what seems like ever-increasing risks of additional gun control measures and expensive ammunition, the air rifle makes sense to add to anyone’s collection of survival firearms.   The book covers air rifles from start to finish. All types are covered: CO2 powered guns, spring guns, multi-pump pneumatics, single-stroke pneumatics, and pre-charged pneumatics. The book then moves into the many types of projectiles (more than a novice might think).  For preppers, there’s even an entire chapter devoted to “The Survival Springer”.  These include models of all types and price ranges.  The book also covers sights, scopes, velocity, accuracy, range, targets, training tips, and accessories. Truly, this book seems to cover everything on air rifles.

Related: Back to Basics – Rifle Accuracy 

After reading “Air Rifles: A Buyers and Shooter’s Guide” by Steve Markwith, I’m much more familiar with the versatility of the air rifle and have a newfound respect for them. I’m even itching to buy one (or two) now.  The modern air rifle could serve as an excellent, low-cost training tool for people that live in more suburban environments where shooting bullets off your back deck is less of a… neighborly thing to do.

Likes & Dislikes 

Rich in photos and description, Markwith’s conversational yet informative writing style from his Survival Guns – A Beginner’s Guide holds true here, too. This should be a go-to book for, as the title suggests, anyone thinking about buying an air rifle or anyone that shoots one. I don’t care if you’re a beginner or an expert air rifleman, there’s something in this book that will help.

Also Read: The Evolution of the Black Rifle 

My biggest complaint is that, like Survival Guns, the images are informative but are presented in black and white. The book would be richer if they were in color. The writing is better than the image presentation. $12.95 seems fair for the paperback, but $7.95 for a Kindle version feels a bit high. I generally prefer paperback anyway, particularly where this one is in 8×10” size, but Kindle buyers should be able to get this book for something more like $5.95.

The Verdict 

If you’re new to air rifles, or are even a moderate user, there’s something of use for you here, I’m certain of it. This book would, however, best serve the individual that’s thinking about getting an air rifle, because the money spent on the book up front would save you money many times over by both helping you choose the right air rifle to suit your needs from the outset, and also help you get the most out of it.

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Christmas StoryPrepper Press

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Survival Gear Review: SIG SAUER MPX-C 9mm REVIEW

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sig_sauer_mpx

I was fortunate enough to be able to have some trigger time recently with a Sig Sauer MPX-C 9mmsig_sauer_mpx_firearms_9mm_modular carbine.  It wasn’t nearly enough time – probably 200 rounds over a couple of days – but it was enough to form an opinion on Sig Sauer’s next-generation pistol caliber carbine.  It was also enough to help me learn about the limitations and viability of the 9mm carbine as a tool in a SHTF-type environment.  I wasn’t able to run any drills or courses, unfortunately.  However, I was able to collect some ballistics information and run a few different types of ammo through ‘er, and found some interesting tidbits of information along the way.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

A Quick Overview of the MPX

The Sig Sauer MPX family of guns is a modern take on the submachine gun class of firearms that started with the Best submachine gunThompson “Tommy” gun, and has since evolved into well-known guns such as the German WW2 issue MP40, the Israeli Uzi, and the ubiquitous Heckler & Koch MP5.  These pistol-caliber carbines are defined by smaller frames than their rifle-caliber counterparts, light, quick-handling characteristics, fast rates of fire in full-auto versions, and mild, controllable recoil.

The Sig Sauer MPX, on first glance, appears to be a conglomeration of an AR-15 and an MP5.  Take the upper/lower receiver design of an AR, along with the AR’s charging handle, control placement, and general order of operations, then combine with a short magazine well and collapsible stock from an MP5, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what an MPX looks and feels like.  All of the MPX’s controls are fully ambidextrous – including the magazine release, charging handle, and bolt stop – usually rarities from the factory on an AR platform.

Read More: AR-15 Magazine Management Strategies 

The operating system is still gas-operated, even with the comparatively low-intensity 9mm round.  It’s a short-stroke best home defense gunsgas piston system that sports an auto-regulating gas valve that allows the MPX to theoretically run all weights of projectiles, from target subsonic ammo to full-tilt +P loads without a hitch…and should also allow the use of a suppressor with minimal hassle.  A nice design feature – especially since many of those who purchase 9mm carbines will do so to run them with a suppressor.

The Sig Sauer MPX platform sports an innovative free-floating rail with keymod attachment points, that interfaces into the upper receiver with a slick groove setup – and it is completely removable with no tools required.  Once one pushes out the forward takedown pin, the rail is unlocked and is free to slide forward and off the gun.  ost AR type handguard rails are clamped on the barrel nut with set screws in some fashion or another; the MPX’s system is slick and clean with no extra hardware needed.  Rest assured that it is solid enough for a sighting system to be mounted; at the range I pulled the rail off the gun and reinstalled several times between magazines, and the sights’ point of impact remained unaffected.

Speaking of the sights, The Sig Sauer MPX comes standard with Sig Sauer’s line of folding iron sights, but the full-length picatinny rail in the top of the rifle, combined with the keymod accessory mounting points, allow you to mount your choice of optics, red dots, lasers, flashlights…you know the drill.  Overall, the Sig Sauer MPX-C that I tried did not leave the user wanting or needing to modify the gun with aftermarket go-fast gadgets; the gun already comes ready to rumble once you add your accessories.  It ought to; the MSRP of this little beast is just a bit over $2,000.  Luckily, if you can find them on the open market, they usually bring between $1,600-$1,800.

The Sig Sauer MPX-C model I was able to test had a 16-inch overall barrel length, the last 2 inches or so of which was 9mm Submachine Gun Reviewa three-pronged flash hider.  The stock was a metal-framed collapsible unit that retracted fully to the back of the receiver, as well as having an intermediate length and a fully-extended length, for a total of three positions.  However, one quickly notes that this is not a collapsible in the fashion of an AR-15, where the length of the buffer tube dictates overall shortest length. The MPX-C’s stock rails slide forward to nest in grooves built into the upper receiver, and the buttplate rests solidly against the back of the receiver when collapsed fully; this makes for a very short resulting 28.5 inch overall length on a full 16-inch-barrelled rifle.  With the stock extended, the MPX-C measures in around 33 inches long.

The MPX also comes in much shorter and alternate configurations, some of which you’d need tax stamps for.  For further information on other MPX setups, you can visit their MPX site here. The rumor is that the MPX platform is made to be modular, with easy-to-change barrel/bolt setups, so one can swap the 9mm barrel out for a higher-horsepower .40 S&W or .357 Sig setup.  I didn’t test this personally, but it makes sense, with the increasing demand for modularity in the firearms world today.

Shooting The MPX-C

I only had the Sig Sauer MPX for a couple of quick range visits, so like I said, I can’t give you a full, strong overview of the system, with multiple different loads including handloads, across a spectrum of distances.  I was able to run three different loads through the MPX: Federal American Eagle 115 grain FMJ, PMC “Bronze” 115 grain JHP, and Sig Sauer’s own Elite V-Crown 124 grain JHP, the defense round I use in my carry guns.

Once I got to the range, I deployed my gear and let the others at the range “ooh” and “aah” all over the MPX.  The rifle does draw a crowd, and when handling the gun and admiring the fit, finish and the overall quality the gun exudes, well, I must say it deserves every bit of drool and coveting that is a consequence of its very presence.

Also Read: Survival Gear Review Talon Grips

Once show and tell was over, I stuffed one of the two 30-round translucent polymer magazines full with the little Best 9mm Home Defensecartridges, seated the magazine, and pulled back the charging handle to find my first surprise: the charging handle only pulls back maybe two inches before it stops, fully extended.  Of course, because of the short length of the 9mm cartridge, this makes sense once one subjects a few brain cells of thought to the matter.  However, when one is used to a 5.56/.223 AR platform and the much-longer charging stroke, the short MPX charging handle yank catches you off guard at first.  This short charging stroke is just one of the ways Sig Sauer reminds you that they engineered this platform from the ground up to be made for pistol calibers.

I shouldered the rifle, and happily peered through the standard flip-up sight picture.  And I squeezed the trigger.  And squeezed.  And pulled.  The second surprise of the day came from the vicious, gritty trigger pull of a $2,000 rifle.  What the hell?  Expecting a fine-tuned machine and discovering a heavy, ugly trigger pull wasn’t what I’d come to expect from Sig Sauer – especially at this price point.  I ended up inadvertently yanking the trigger and the round nose-dived into the lower edge of the target, 25 yards away.

Surprise number three came as soon as the trigger decided it would actually go off: BRIIINNNGGGGGG.  The Sig Sauer MPX fired the round and cycled as it should, but the cool-looking, probably-maybe-effective three-pronged muzzle brake rang like a tuning fork that had been tapped on a steel plate.  And it didn’t stop immediately; I had to reach out and physically grab the muzzle device to make it cease and desist the F sharp or whatever the hell note it rang.  I pulled the magazine, jacked the round out of the chamber, so I could safely inspect the muzzle brake – and I noticed that just cycling the action of the MPX made hell’s bells ring again.  Interesting – and I was rather taken aback that this was a feature that Sig Sauer let roll out the door.  I checked the brake – it was pinned and welded properly and legally.  I don’t know if this is the way all factory MPX muzzle brakes work, but I know this one did – and damn, was it annoying.

I ripped off the rest of that one magazine just to have some fun, but then put the MPX away for the afternoon to focus on the guns I brought with me that had nice trigger pulls, and the only noise they made was “bang”.

Nurse, SCALPEL!

At day’s end, the owner of the MPX met back up with me, and we retired to my man cave to see what we could do best 9mm gunabout the trigger pull.  He’d agreed it was pretty miserable; but he just wanted it smoothed out – no reduction in weight of pull.  We stripped the gun into its main components – upper receiver, bolt and spring assembly, lower receiver, and rail.  I dived into the lower to see what made it tick…

…and I was tickled pink to find out that the innards of the MPX’s fire control group are identical to an AR-15.  That was a shrewd move on Sig’s part – if you want to drop in a Timney or Geiselle other such aftermarket trigger group, you just need to find the standard AR-15 parts…no proprietary parts searching, or waiting for the aftermarket to adopt the particular platform…if the aftermarket adopts it at all.  Probably helps with inventory on Sig’s end, too, since Sig Sauer offers a full line of AR type rifles, as well as their new MCX rifle.

I pulled the basic fire control group out of the MPX’s lower, and treated the appropriate parts and areas to a nice loving 2500-grit polish.  A liberal coating of bearing surfaces with TW-25B grease (I love that stuff) completed the package.  About 45 minutes and an adult beverage later, I re-assembled the MPX’s lower and was pleased to find a nice, smooth trigger pull that weighed, by my guess, about 6-7 pounds.  There was zero grittiness, and the pull was acceptable and useful for a MILSPEC type trigger.  I didn’t touch any springs or remove any metal other than what was polished, so the trigger pull weight was largely unaffected.

Second Time’s a Charm

We hit the range again a few days later to finish sighting in the MPX and to do some more testing. I couldn’t do Best 9mm Rifleanything about the musical muzzle device (he will be swapping it out down the road for something that will interface with a suppressor) but with the trigger straightened out, we felt we could try our hand at some accuracy testing.  I brought my chronograph and EDC Sig P320 Compact along too, because I was very curious to see how much velocity the 16” barrel of the MPX was worth over the 3.9” barrel of the P320 compact.

We dialed the gun in using the American Eagle 115 FMJ ammunition, since he has a readily available supply of this fodder.  We sighted the rifle in at 50 yards per the owner’s wishes.  The windage was spot-on from the factory, with just the front sight needing to be adjusted.  My Real Avid AR tool came in handy to get the front sight to the desired elevation, and we were soon in business.  Offhand, we were consistently getting 2” five-shot groups at 50 yards with the American Eagle ammunition.  From the bench, we were able to tighten it up and pull in regular 1 ½” groups with the stock iron sights.  Accuracy was very good; I’m sure if one was to run several ammunition makes with varying bullet weights, you could find a load that performed better.  But the owner was very happy, and that’s what counted in this particular instance.  100-yard offhand fun shots at milk jugs were a hoot, with every shot connecting offhand once we got the “Kentucky windage” dialed in for the added distance.

We ran a few PMC “Bronze” 115 JHPs (I only had one box with me) to test function, group size, and velocity.  The MPX fed the more open hollowpoint with nary a burp, though group sizes opened up to about 2 ½”  at 50 yards, benched.  I borrowed a few Sig V-Crown Elite 124 grain JHP rounds from my Sig P320 carry magazines for function, group, and velocity as well.  These turned in the best group (just over 1 inch across, a ragged 5-shot hole) and functioned beautifully as well.

Overall, my time spent behind the trigger of the SIg Sauer MPX-C was thoroughly enjoyable. The gun shot quite well with open sights, and we had zero malfunctions over about 200 rounds.  Not much of a long-term test, but one hell of a promising start.

Check Out: Buying SHTF ammo

Is a 9mm Carbine Worth It?

So, after having run a full-sized 9mm Sig Sauer MPX-C for a little while and having crunched some performance numbers out of the ammunition to compare a 9mm carbine to a 9mm pistol, I personally have to wonder if the 9mm carbine is worth the added bulk.  The performance gains over the handgun just weren’t as high as I’d thought they would be.  I’ll get into this further in another article – but for those of you like myself, who geek out over such things, I present the following data:

Federal American Eagle 115 grn FMJ:

Sig MPX average muzzle velocity: 1,321 fps

Sig MPX average muzzle energy: 446 ft. lbs.

Sig P320 average muzzle velocity: 1,113.3 fps

Sig P320 average muzzle energy: 317 ft. lbs.

Difference: 208.31 fps / 129 ft. lbs.

Difference per inch of barrel length: 19.65 fps/12.17 ft. lbs per inch of barrel

PMC Bronze 115-grain JHP

Sig MPX average muzzle velocity: 1,238 fps

Sig MPX average muzzle energy: 392 ft. lbs.

Sig P320 average muzzle velocity: 1,052 fps

Sig P320 average muzzle energy: 283 ft. lbs.

Difference: 187.67 fps / 109 ft. lbs

Difference per inch of barrel length: 17.61 fps/ 10.2 ft. lbs per inch of barrel

Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 124-grain JHP

Sig MPX average muzzle velocity: 1,315 fps

Sig MPX average muzzle energy: 476 ft. lbs.

Sig P320 average muzzle velocity: 1,105 fps

Sig P320 average muzzle energy: 336 ft. lbs.

Difference: 210 fps / 140 ft. lbs

Difference per inch of barrel length: 17.35 fps/ 11.6 ft. lbs per inch of barrel

For comparison’s sake, a 62-grain M855 5.56mm bullet, traveling at 2,900 feet per second out of an M4 carbine, Best 9mm SMGgenerates 1,158 foot pounds of energy.  There are other factors to consider (muzzle blast/volume, magazine size, ammunition availability/expense, controllability under rapid fire, weight/added size of an AR or similar carbine), but this is something to consider when weighing the purchase and consequent utilization of a 9mm carbine vs. a 5.56mm carbine for a SHTF gun.

The other issue a potential purchaser would run up against is cost and accessories: When a new Sig Sauer MPX will run you $1,800, and then use proprietary magazines, you have to look long and hard at the system.  If the MPX ran with P226 or c, I could see some definite appeal and justification on the price – you could stock one type of magazine for your carbine and your sidearm.  But it doesn’t, so you can’t.  This is a logistics conundrum you would have to figure out for your own SHTF/survival setup if you want to integrate a 9mm carbine into “the plan”.

For yuks ‘n’ giggles, I priced out a build using a Palmetto State Armory 9mm billet lower that accepts Glock 17/19 magazines.  If you want to buy a pre-assembled upper and a pre-assembled lower through PSA, you can have a bare-bones 9mm carbine that feeds from Glock magazines for between $650-$900, depending on the configuration you like.  You could upgrade to a couple Magpul accessories and throw an Aimpoint T-2 on top of it, and still have enough money left over from your Sig Sauer MPX fund to take the wife out someplace nice for dinner.

If you wanted to go higher-end than PSA and you have the ability to assemble an AR from parts, you could do a ground-up build using the PSA billet lower and high-end aftermarket parts to the tune of $1,200, no optics.  Just something to consider, especially if you’re running a Glock.

I’m not trying to downplay the Sig Sauer MPX, but rather show that there are other options out there that will to the same thing for less money.  However, what you will not have is Sig Sauer’s stellar customer service, unreal build quality, superb reliability, and the smug satisfaction that you have the best of the best protecting you.  Your call.

Wrapping It Up

I thoroughly enjoyed every second I spent with the Sig Sauer MPX-C.  It is a thoroughly thought-out platform, Best SMGdesigned to be the very best at what it does within its envelope.  And the gun certainly does that; the MPX is beautifully made, very accurate, and from what I could tell from my experience, flawlessly reliable, even with gaping hollowpoint ammunition.  If I decided I needed a 9mm carbine for my arsenal and I had the money to buy and support it (extra magazines, spare springs/parts/bolt) I wouldn’t think twice before reaching for my wallet.

Where the Sig Sauer MPX-C would really shine is running with a suppressor and subsonic ammunition.  A fast, light, quick-handling carbine that is quiet is definitely an arm that would be the pride and joy of any survivalist/prepper’s arsenal.  This would go doubly if you lived in an environment where you would be indoors much of the time or clearing houses/apartments or other similar tight spaces.  Even without a suppressor, the blast of a 9mm carbine is timid compared to a 5.56mm carbine or shotgun if you have to pull the trigger indoors.

However, even for a high-end system that will run you towards $2,000, it does have a couple caveats – that miserable trigger and the singing muzzle brake.  Replacing these parts with items that are equal to what SHOULD have come on a firearm with this price tag could set you back another $300 or more – then you add in the price of a few extra magazines ($60 a copy) a high quality optic (at least $300 before mounts), and suddenly you’re sneaking up on 3 grand without even blinking.  Considering that you could build/purchase two extremely badass AR-15s for that price tag, you have to think long and hard about your situation and whether or not the Sig Sauer MPX is the perfect fit for your situation.  If it is the perfect fit and money is no object, you can truly do no better.  It’s worth every penny if you have the niche to fill and the dough to spend.

Questions or Comments – please make them below!!!

All Photos By Drew

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Best Finishes For Your SHTF Gun

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best cerakote paint

We recently had a reader email into the Survival Cache team with a couple suggestions for articles he’s like to seecerakote colors(those types of emails are always welcome, by the way!).   He’d mentioned one specific item he’d like to see gone over.  He wrote, Another article I’d like to see if/when you and your team get the time is something on gun coatings. Like cerakote vs blued finishes etc.”

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

It’s a great question – what firearms finish will work best to protect your gun from corrosion and wear during a long-term SHTF event, or over a long duration of time between cleanings and maintenance?  Well, as someone who was a professional firearms refinisher for many years, with lots of experience in cold bluing, hot tank bluing, nickel plating, and spray-on finishes, I’ll walk you through the differences of some of the most commonly encountered finishes, and the pros and cons of each.  Hopefully this will help some of you decide where to plunk your hard-earned bucks to help preserve your “oh shit” guns when the chips are down.

Why Refinish Your Gun?

Most people that I encountered when I was refinishing firearms brought their guns to me for restoring – they had cerakote rifle finishloved and used and/or neglected a firearm to the point of the finish completely wearing off a gun.  Sometimes they’d been in house fires (brutal on firearms, even when they are in safes), or the gun was found in grandpa’s attic and was covered in bat crap, or they’d found a good deal on a gun they’d wanted because the finish was worn.  In any of these cases, the reason to refinish was generally obvious and easily remedied.

These days, gun owners will bring their perfectly good, sometimes brand-new, firearms to a local finisher, looking to achieve a new finish for reasons other than restoring.  Sometimes they’ve seen that sexy-looking camouflaged AR-15 or Glock on their (insert your choice of social media here) feed and GOTTA HAVE that same look…or maybe Multicam and brightly-colored metallic red/blue/green controls and accessories (why do people do that?!? All I can think of when I see those is those vinyled and painted up tuner cars in the early “Fast and the Furious” movies. But I digress.).  Others, such as predator or turkey/waterfowl hunters, need their dedicated hunting gun camo’d up so as not to draw their quarry’s eye.  I know some people who live for duck hunting will bring their shotguns in to be Duracoated or Cerakoted because of the superior resistance to saltwater corrosion.

Also Read: Top SHTF Guns You Haven’t Considered

However, for the purposes of this article, we will be looking at what available finish will help preserve your gun best when you are most likely to neglect the firearm.  We are also assuming you are bringing your firearm in for a refinish (or possibly refinishing yourself); however, a variety of finish options – most of the ones listed here, as a matter of fact – are available on new guns as well.  Remember, a certain finish won’t protect from serious abuse, i.e. hard drops on concrete or banging into rocks or being run over by National Guard tracked vehicles.  What it will do is block moisture, skin oils and salts, sweat, and mud from contacting the metal and components directly.  This effectively combats corrosion and rust – which we all know will screw your gun up and render it inoperable faster than we can say, “Ahh, shit.”

Cold Bluing

I’m not going to dig too deeply into the ins and outs of cold bluing because I wrote an article about it in one of my Rifle Bluing“SHTF Armorer” DIY posts on SHTFblog.com.  You can read the article here.  However, in a nutshell, cold bluing is the easiest way for most of us to restore a blued finish on our carbon steel guns.  (Cold bluing does not work on stainless steel or aluminum.)  It’s as accessible as going to our local gun shop and grabbing a bottle off the shelf or ordering it off Amazon.  I like Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue, and I have had good results with Birchwood Casey’s Perma-Blue as well.  And when applied properly, it can look pretty good and generally protects raw metal acceptably well.  As a counterpoint to all this convenience, cold blue does not hold up well to long-term use and will quickly wear off.  But it never hurts to have a sealed bottle (it evaporates) in the armorer’s box to throw some finish on a worn gun if needed.

Cold Blue Pros:

  • Cheap and accessible – around $10 for a 3 oz. Bottle of Birchwood Casey Perma Blue, available at most gun shops, even Wal-Mart
  • Do-it-yourself compatible – refinish a gun while you watch “Hogan’s Heroes” and “Desperate Housewives” reruns
  • Looks pretty good when applied properly with attention to detail
  • Good for spot touch-ups

Cold Blue Cons:

  • Does not offer very good corrosion protection – but it’s better than nothing
  • Wears very easily under frequent use, necessitating re-applications or a more serious finish
  • Looks awful and splotchy when not done properly or if oils are present when applying

Hot Tank Bluing

Hot tank bluing comes in a couple different forms, but far and away the most commonly used is a Caustic Black finish.  This method involves immersing cleaned and degreased carbon steel parts into a bath of “bluing salts”, which are made up of sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate (plus other proprietary ingredients, depending on who you source the salts from.).  The salts are mixed with water at certain ratios, then boiled at between 275-315° F.  The chemicals in the boiling bath interact with the steel of the firearm, and convert the exterior surface metal of the firearm to Magnetite, which is also known as “black oxide of iron”.  Magnetite provides a deep, rich blackish-blue color to firearms, and is the most common finish used by many firearms manufacturers due to the ease of consistent finishes in large quantities.  I worked with hot tank bluing for many years, and the chemical composition is corrosive as hell and can burn your skin badly if care is not taken, and specialized equipment, burners, and boiling tanks are required to do the job correctly.

Related: SHTF Guns On A Budget

Hot tank bluing provides very good rust resistance that is made better with the application of a good penetrating gun oil.  Its wear resistance is much better than cold blue, but the finish can still wear over time with daily use – just go into any gun shop and take a gander at any well-used hunting-type rifle.  I bet it’s got use and silver bare metal wear on the high-traffic carrying areas areas.  However, since bluing salts react with the carbon in the steel, hot tank bluing cannot be used on most types of stainless steel – and it definitely cannot be used with aluminum.  Aluminum will usually either get eaten away by the salts or react adversely, possibly causing super heated gas “explosions” in the tank that can cause your boiling hot caustic bath to spray everywhere.  Care must also be taken with firearms like double-barreled shotguns that have a rib between the two barrels.  The rib must be vented with drilled holes, or else the air inside the rib can heat and expand, blowing the barrels apart.  But I digress.

Here is a picture of a rare Marlin “Marauder” in .35 Remington that I reblued probably 12 years ago – it has seen Rifle Finishingregular hunting use in the Maine woods since then.  The finish is barely worn at the carrying points, showing that hot tank bluing is very attractive durable and when taken care of.

Hot Tank Blue Pros Pros:

  • Provides a beautiful, consistent, deep black finish to steel
  • Long lasting, durable, provides good corrosion resistance – especially when combined with regular maintenance and oiling
  • Pricing to refinish by a professional is usually reasonable
  • Has been used for for decades as the go-to finish for most commercial firearms – so you know it does its job well
  • A great way to go to refinish your steel firearm or if you’re buying new

Hot Tank Blue Cons:

  • Lots of specialized equipment and experience required, large initial investment to get set up to hot tank blue
  • Wears, especially at high points/corners after use
  • Can resist corrosion for time, but if no oil is on the surface of the bluing, it can be compromised quickly by humidity, skin oils and salts, etc.
  • Easily scratched if abrasive contact is made by metal, rocks, sand.

Parkerizing

Parkerizing is a finish commonly encountered on many US military firearms from the immediate pre-World War 2 era through the late 50’s, early 1960’s, I’d guess.  If you’ve seen a WWII era 1911 Colt, Springfield 1903, M1 Carbine, or M1 Garand – even up through the M14/M1A, you’ve seen a parkerized finish.

Parkerizing comes in many forms, but usually involves immersing a steel firearm in a manganese, iron, or zinc phosphate bath.  The bath electrochemically deposits a dark gray coating on the metal that is very tough and useful.  The dark gray can sometimes fade to a green-gray color over time or with the application of certain oils or coatings like Cosmoline.  As a primary finish, parkerizing’s porous surface traps oil beautifully, keeping the firearm from rusting for longer periods of time between maintenance or wipe-downs.

Related: Best Handgun Calibers For Survival

Parkerizing is very commonly used as a base coat for other finishes such as paints or spray-on coatings like DuraCoat or Cerakote, due to its granular surface and phosphates in the finish.  According to Wikipedia, Glock also uses parkerizing over its proprietary Tenifer finish as a tough, matte colored surface coat.  Parkerizing is very durable, and its granular-feeling surface deposit finish can hold oils well, helping to preserve the finish that much more.  If your SHTF gun is parkerized, no need to look any further for a battle-ready, rugged finish – WW2, Korea, and Vietnam proved parkerizing’s ready-to-rumble attributes.

Also Read: Survival Guns – A Beginners Guide

Here is a picture of a Ruger MKI target pistol customized by Angus Arms with lots of goodies including a Clark Parkerizing Gun Coatingbarrel, Ultra Dot red dot, Marvel trigger, and a full parkerized finish.  This finish job ran about $125 or so, according to Angus Arms.

Parkerizing Pros:

  • Attractive, matte low-glare finish
  • Battle-proven durability and long life, especially when maintained and oiled
  • Already the go-to, as-bought finish for many popular SHTF-type guns
  • A fantastic base coat with enhanced “tooth” for spray-on type finishes

Parkerizing cons:

  • A bit of a lost art, fewer and fewer gunsmiths parkerize anymore
  • Can’t be used on aluminum, polymer, and other firearms materials. Steel only.

Sprayed-On Finishes

Over the past ten or so years, sprayed-on finishes  – I’m not talking spray-paint here, by the way – have started to really take the firearms market by storm.  These finishes are a superb way to get colors other than the forever-available blacks, grays, and silvers that have been the norm on guns since firearms were invented.  Though there are many spray-on type finishes to consider, we’re going to look at what are arguably the two most popular: Duracoat and Cerakote.

Duracoat

Duracoat, produced by Lauer Custom Weaponry, is a two-part finish that is comprised of a colored resin and a best diy gun finishseparate hardener.  The two parts are mixed like an epoxy and applied via a spray gun, such as an airbrush (my preferred method) or by HVLP paint guns.  When applied, Duracoat dries to the touch in about 20 minutes, and is fully cured after a few weeks.  However, after drying overnight, you can reassemble your firearms if you’re careful not to scratch the finish.

Duracoat was engineered with the DIY guy/gal at home in mind.  With an airbrush or paint gun, a compressor, some scouring pads and sandpaper, and some acetone, (a respirator, safety glasses, and ventilation is also HEAVILY recommended if you’re spraying indoors), the regular gun guy/gal can apply their own finish with excellent results that are generally easy to attain provided the metal prep work is done properly.  There are also certified Duracoat appliers across the country.

Lauer Custom Weaponry has expanded their product line to offer Duracoat in an aerosol spray-paint can, as well as high-temperature coatings (great for suppressors), camo packs (stencils and Duracoat colors required for specific camouflage patterns), spray-on bluing (I’m interested to see how that works), gun “tattoos” (pre-cut patterns for your gun), as well as many, MANY different color offerings.

Duracoat is permanent, and very tough to remove if it is properly applied.  It has a high elasticity for a finish, allowing it to flex slightly and absorb impacts reasonably well, as well as prevent scratches.  I’ve personally Duracoated many guns, including my personal AR-15, and the finish is very tough once properly cured.  Duracoat is air-cured, meaning you don’t need any special equipment to bake the cure.  This makes it superior for items like optics, or any items with electronics/heat-sensitive components.  According to information I found online, Duracoat resists 100 inch-pounds of direct impact, and has passed a 300 hour salt spray test, which exceeds military requirements for finish.

Duracoat Pros:

  • Relatively easy to apply by the average Joe
  • Very effective at resisting corrosion and mild impacts
  • Has some lubricating properties
  • No expensive special equipment required
  • Much higher on the toughness scale than a rattle-can Krylon finish
  • Huge amounts of attractive color options, plays nice with stencils
  • Can be applied over any metals, plastics, wood.
  • Over 250 colors available, colors can be mixed to make custom colors
  • Banned in NYC – Lauer Custom Weaponry has its own line of “Bloomberg” colors, just to piss off a certain billionaire who thinks he knows how you should run your life.

Duracoat Cons:

  • Susceptible to some solvents like acetone or lacquer thinner
  • Takes a long time to finish curing
  • Not as tough as coatings like Cerakote, but still tougher than most standard firearms finishes

Cerakote

Cerakote is the current king of the hill when it comes to firearms finishes.  A ceramic-polymer compound, it’s specially formulated specifically for high-use, high-abuse-destined firearms.  Several firearms manufacturers offer Cerakote as their standard finish since its wear and lubricating characteristics are excellent.  There are two basic Cerakote offerings: Cerakote “C” are a single-component, air-cure finish.  After it is fully cured, Cerakote “C” will endure temperatures of 1700°F, and and has been tested to withstand 550 hours of salt-spray.  Cerakote “H” is a two-part, thermally cured (heated) system.  The heat levels that Cerakote “H” will withstand are lower (400°) but has been tested for 2,500 hours (!) of salt spray endurance.  Needless to say, Cerakote’s resistance to corrosion is superb.  Cerakote “H” also is practically impervious to solvents like acetone and MEK, and can resist impacts of up to 160 inch-pounds.

Related: 6 Tools To Survive Anything

According to their website, Cerakote now offers over 60 different colors, and can be used with stencils and combines with other colors for camouflage patterns- though I’ve read that Duracoat is a bit easier to use with stencils.

Cerakote requires a bit more attention to surface prep than other spray-on finishes, usually requiring a surface blasting with 120-grit aluminum oxide for a proper rough-up so the finish can properly grab.  Hanging racks and a drying oven are also required for heat curing.  Degreaser soak tank, HVLP spray gun, and a good air compressor for spraying and surface blasting are all required, not to mention the proper eye protection and respirator.  An at-home guy can get set up for Cerakoting, but usually, due to the space and tools required, we leave Cerakoting to the professionals who can finish many guns in one shot.

This picture was supplied by Furlong Custom Creations, a local Maine builder/finisher, as an example of cerakoting.best firearm coating

Cerakote Pros:

  • Tough, tough, tough! Probably the most rugged finish available for your firearm.
  • Impervious to solvents, cleaners
  • Can be applied over metals, polymers, wood
  • Can be used with stencils, camo patterns
  • Over 60 colors to choose from
  • Did I mention it was tough?

Cerakote Cons:

  • Usually needs to be applied by a professional with the appropriate gear; not DIY friendly on a low-quantity basis.
  • Generally expensive to have performed, very labor intensive to do properly
  • Once it has been applied to your gun, best of luck getting it off the gun!

Other Finishes

There are other relative “newcomers” to the finish scene that were originally proprietary to specific firearms, like Sig Sauer’s Nitron finish (actually a DLC – Diamond-Like Carbon– Finish from a company called IonBond…it’s expensive, but extremely hard-wearing), or Glock’s Tenifer and Smith & Wesson’s Melonite – which are the same family of coatings that fall under “Ferritic Nitrocarburizing” or Black Nitride.  I know ATEi is offering Melonite finishes if you’d like to get your steel parts finished in this coating.  Robar’s NP3 is a form of electroless nickel plating that has excellent corrosion and wear resistance, as well as looking pretty cool if you like colors other than black for your gun.  Gun-Kote is another type of spray-on finish that meets or exceeds military and aerospace requirements.

Also Read: 5 Ideas For Fire Tinder

There are many other extremely attractive, rugged finish options out there – and third party finishers are starting to come online to provide these finishes to the general public.  I will hang my head and admit that I’m not terribly familiar with these newer types of gun finishes, so I won’t pretend that I do.  If there is a proprietary coating or finish out there you’ve seen or heard of, the best bet is to do your internet research, talk with people who have that finish on their guns, and call the company who applies the finish, and see what they have to say.  It’s your hard-earned money that you’re plunking down to protect a gun that may well protect you one day, so it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to make sure you get what you want.

Which Do You Choose?

So, there are myriad options out there – which do you choose for your SHTF gun?  Personally, if money was no object, I would gladly bring my firearm to a quality Cerakote finisher – even if you just want a black gun – and plunk down my hard-earned dead presidents, knowing that I’d be giving my gun the most love I could.  Cerakote’s hard-wearing properties and resistance to corrosion really make it a stand-out in the finish world.

However, I’ve personally Duracoated my SHTF guns and couldn’t be happier. I painstakingly prepped the surface to be sprayed, and Duracoat hasn’t let me down in two years.  I’m not a crazy high-volume shooter like many – but I’ll shoot a couple thousand rounds out of my AR, and hunt with it every year.  The only visible damage to the finish has been the end of the brass deflector, where it takes many, many high-velocity empty brass impacts.  I have a Remington 870 I’ve Duracoated as well – and it gets almost zero use, standing vigilant guard as a home defense shotgun.  The 870 receives no maintenance and no oil except for its yearly check-up, and there has been no corrosion, even in high humidity Maine summers in a damp basement.  If I was more the DIY type, I’d go Duracoat and never look back.

As far as the chemical finishes go, I’d look at parkerizing, hot tank bluing, and then cold blue – in that order.  These finishes are excellent to good, but require higher maintenance, especially in high-use and high humidity environments.  I certainly don’t turn my nose up at these finishes – I dearly love a high polish, deep hot tank blue on a classic hunting firearm – but for a SHTF gun that needs to perform in ugly environments, the spray-on finishes are the way to go these day.  That’s my opinion – how about yours?

Photo credits: Drew, Angus Norcross, Jeff Furlong

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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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Survival Gear Review: Talon Grips

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Best handgun grips

So I’d just like to come right out at the outset of this review and state that Talon Grips have best handgun gripsprobably provided the most satisfaction-per-dollar of any of the firearms modifications I’ve tried in recent memory. They are quite inexpensive, easy to install, non-permanent, and 100% effective at the specific improvement they offer. They’re just damn cool too. All pros, no cons. This will probably be a short review, now that I think about it.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

A Cut Above

If you read my article “12 Great Preps for Under $30” you’ll remember that I’d listed stick-on gripBest Pistol Hand Grips tape as a great buy, due to the fact that you could buy it in strips at cut it to any desired shape, to add texture and “grippyness” to any item that needed it. Specific examples are: handgun and rifle grips, cellphones and cellphone cases, knife handles, etc.

Talon Grips – hailing from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, takes that idea and go one step farther, providing laser-cut application-specific pre-made grip tape sections. With over 200 different designs available from 22 different firearms manufacturers, it’s a safe bet that there is a patented wrap-around pattern that fits your exact gun. Talon Grips also offers a bewildering array of stick-on grips for smartphones, rifle grips, shotgun fore ends, extended magazines, tasers…even a stick-on bottom coaster pad for YETI Rambler travel mugs.

Also Read: Which Dog is the King of Survival

Talon Grips got their start back in 2009 when a duty Glock 21 was fitted with a set of grip panels Best Pistol Gripmade from skateboard tape. Others in the department had to have their Glocks likewise upgraded. Soon thereafter, sales on eBay started taking off, and more designs were developed – first more Glock models came around, then Springfield XD grips, all cut by hand from rolls of skateboard tape. Soon they were farming out the product to a local die cutter for mass production, and in 2011 a proprietary rubber material was developed specifically for firearm grip application, and a laser cutter was purchased to allow for much more intricate designs. In 2012, a patent was received for the one-piece wrap-around die-cut grip design Talon Grips had perfected. The sky has been the limit for Talon Grips since then, and this 100% Designed- and Made-In-USA product has been taking the firearms world by storm.  Law Enforcement, competition shooters, military operators, and the civilian market all have flocked to this easy to install, effective modification.

The design is deceptively simple in theory, yet intricate in execution.  Talon Grips are comprised of one-piece wrap-around laser-cut (you can see the scorch marks on the white peel-off grip backing when you get the grips) stick-on grip panels that utilize an adhesive that has been formulated to stick to guns (especially polymer) like crazy, yet is (relatively) easy to remove with no gluey residue remaining behind.  The panels are notched, relieved, and contoured to look like they grew on the gun; all of the sets I got had cutouts for existing logos, reliefs for thumb rests, and cut-outs for existing terrain on the gun.  So, like I said: while these are very simple, there has been a lot of time spent designing the grips to fit perfectly…and fit perfectly they absolutely do.

Get A Grip!

The grip material is offered in two configurations: granular (feels like fine 150 or 220 grit sandpaper) and textured rubber, with both makeups being very thin – less than ½ millimeter thick – for no added bulk to the gun.

The granular material is the epitome of traction for those who need 100% hold on their gun no matter what the conditions – sweat, rain, mud, blood. The aggressiveness of the grip has a trade off if you wear your gun concealed: the grain of the grip would be awful rubbing against your skin on an inside-the-waistband holster, and I imagine it would fray or even wear its way through clothing given enough time and movement. But, if you have a belt gun that rides in a holster on the outside of your body (think uniformed law enforcement officer), there’s no better way to go if positive handgun retention and grip is what is needed.

Related: Personal Defense Weapon – Do You Need One?

The rubber material is textured to provide a pattern a bit like a stippled grip, but the formulation Best Handgun Gripsof the rubber is far more tactile and positive than a stippled polymer grip. The rubber grip is far and away the more user-friendly and versatile of the two materials: it won’t harm clothing or skin with contact, but still provides almost a sticky gripping surface for the user to really muckle onto. The only time the grip was anything like compromised was when I submerged the grip module of my test Sig P320 in water. The Talon Grip stayed on the gun just fine, but it had a sort of “squishy” feeling that was definitely odd. However, the valleys of the grip surface allowed water to ooze out, and while it felt weird, the gun wasn’t about to squirt out of my hands. If you’re in a really wet environment frequently, I might lean towards the granular grips. Otherwise, the rubber ones are terrific – and the rubber grips are the ones I personally chose to leave on my Sig.

Talon Grips doesn’t just do handguns – they offer a lot of other cool grips for non-traditional items. I also ordered up a Talon Grip for my Remington 870 home defense shotgun – I’d seen a grip was offered for the Magpul MOE shotgun fore end so I had to try it. I also ordered a wrap-around rubber grip for my work-issued Apple iPhone 6S cellphone.

Also Read: The Rebuilding Survivors

The Magpul grip had slots cut into it to allow the MOE fore end’s molded-in ribs to come through Best Forend Gripthe grip, and there were also cut-outs for the Magpul logo.  The only issue that I ran into with the Talon Grip for this application was minimal: I had to pull the light and rail off the fore end to get the grip on – and to re-install the rail and light on the fore end means pulling the gun apart to access the inside of the fore end.  Not the end of the world for me since I’ve had Remington 870s apart more times than I can count and have all the proper tools, but for the run-of-the-mill gun owner it might be an inconvenience.  But the pros definitely outweigh this small malfeasance, because the traction I get on the fore end for fast, aggressive cycling is unparalleled.

The iPhone grip was pretty cool.  I pulled the iPhone out of the Magpul Bump Case it had been residing in, cleaned it off with the supplied alcohol wipe, and installed the grip.  For clumsy people like me, it felt a touch alarming to have the phone out of a nice protective case, but the positive grip that I now had on the iPhone thanks to the Talon Grip allayed (most of) the anxiety. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a protective phone case but would like more traction on a phone, the Talon Grip is absolutely the ticket. All the cutouts for rocker switches, power button, charger port, and input jack were all precisely placed, and the rubber grip didn’t create any issues slipping the phone in an out of pockets.  While it was really great and I used the phone with the Talon Grip for a week or so, I eventually peeled the grip off and let the phone live in the Magpul case again since I drop phones with alarming frequency, and I have a 2-year-old running around that likes glowing devices.  That’s not a detraction of the Talon Grip; I just needed the protection over the traction – even though the added traction DID keep me from dropping the phone on numerous occasions.

Getting It On

Installation of the Talon Grips is a breeze if you have any attention to detail and patience – you Best Handgun Gripsdon’t have to be a gunsmith to get the benefits of the grips – installation is almost dummy-proof.  You’ll need the Talon Grips, a hair dryer or heat gun, and (optional) a couple Q-tips and some rubbing alcohol. A full read-through of the included instructions is definitely recommended.

First off, disassemble the gun if you can.  You’ll be moving the gun around, pivoting, turning, twisting it to get the best angle to install the grips. Remember, these are a wrap-around design, so at one point, you’ll likely have the gun pointed at yourself or other things that don’t need extra holes. Be smart, take the gun apart.

Also Read: A Community to Die For

Next, we’ll need to clean the application area.  Talon Grips provides an alcohol pad to accomplish this; however, I found that the pad didn’t really reach down into my Sig’s existing grip texture that well, so I chose to soak a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and really get down and dirty with the cleaning.  The alcohol will eradicate any gun and/or skin oils that have accumulated on the gun and provide a really positive adhesive surface for the grips. Let the alcohol evaporate fully before moving on.

For handgun grips, you start on the left-hand side of the gun, when viewed as if you were Best Handgun Gripsshooting the gun.  I did a dry run first, trying out the alignment of everything instead of peeling the backing off and just going for it. Personally, when getting started, I didn’t remove all of the paper backing from the grip at once – I really didn’t want to deal with multiple adhesive surfaces flailing about mid-way through the process, sticking to things other than what I intended them to. I started with just peeling the left-hand grip side and leaving the remainder attached to start – it was easy to pull the backing as you went around the gun.

Using the existing Sig Sauer logo that was on the gun‘s grip, I lightly aligned the Talon Grip on the frame, getting the orientation perfect. I had to pull the grip off once to start again – this didn’t seem to have a detrimental effect on the grip material or the adhesive.  But once I got the initial start of the Talon Grip on exactly right, the rest of the installation fell into place. I just rolled the grip around the gun slowly, adjusting each tab where I needed to. The instructions said not to pull or tug, but a small amount of gentle stretching was required on the right-hand side of the grip to get the opposing-side Sig Sauer logo cutout to align properly.

Also Read: Gun Rights & Common Sense

A little tip from your buddy Drew: don’t press the whole grip down on the left-hand side starter panel when starting out. Be sure to leave the frontstrap side of the grip unattached if possible. I’m telling you this because you’ll find that as you wrap the grip around the gun, you definitely have too much grip for the frontstrap.  Don’t cut this off! Peel back the left hand grip slightly, and tuck this excess material underneath the left-hand grip. Then, once you’re happy with the alignment of the whole system, press the Talon Grip grip down firmly to get the adhesive to grab.

After I was happy with the placement of the grip on the guns, I stole my wife’s hair dryer (for the love of God, don’t tell her please) and secreted away to my basement workshop. I set the hair dryer to “low warm” and directed the hot air stream onto the Talon Grip.  I took care to keep the hair dryer moving and to not let one area of the grip get too hot – Talon recommends getting the surface about the same temperature as a hot cup of coffee. You could watch the rubberized material almost shrink a little and work its way into grooves and recesses, ensuring the adhesive got a firm grip. Once I was satisfied, I let the gun cool completely and returned the thieved hair dryer to its proper location. Once everything was set up, the Talon Grip was adhered strongly to the gun – definitely in it for the long haul. In the time I’ve had the grips on, no edges have peeled and there has beed zero bubbling or relocation needed – a tribute to a sound design, quality products, and a proper cleaning.  As an aside, I might hold off from using the hair dryer on Talon Grips that are applied to electronics – I didn’t use it on the iPhone, and the grip stayed on just fine.

Related: Review Windham Weaponry AR-10 .308

When it came time to peel off the Talon Grip from my iPhone, I really had to work at it to get an Best Pistol Gripedge pulled up enough to get a grip on it.  Once I did have enough for a good purchase-and-pull, the Talon Grip really fought me to stay on the phone.  But, I eventually prevailed (how sad would it have been if I didn’t?) and removed the grip. I’m happy to say there was zero need for removing sticky, gluey residues – because there weren’t any.  Talon Grips are 100% reversible if you want to change to a different texture or want to sell/trade the gun – you can’t say that for a custom stipple job on your gun…and I daresay the Talon Grips function better than a stipple job.

Conclusions

What can I say?  Order some Talon Grips.  Right now.  If you don’t like them, you’ll be out less than $20.  But were I a betting man, I’d wager that you’ll love Talon Grips on your handgun/shotgun/taser/YETI cup that you’ll be a return customer.  They’re effective, inexpensive, easy to install all by your lonesome, an completely reversible. How can you go wrong? Give it a whirl, you’ll be glad you did.

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Survival Gear Review: Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine

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Best AR15 Ammo Drum

The wizards at Magpul have done it again.  As if their game-changing polymer 30-round PMAG Best AR15 Drumwasn’t enough, they upped the ante with a 60-round drum magazine. And sometimes the obvious benefits of something are not, well, obvious.  Such is the case with the Magpul D-60.  The D-60 drum mag was announced at the February 2015 SHOT Show, but didn’t appear regularly on dealer shelves until after Thanksgiving, or even January 2016.

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

But the wait was worth it.  For those who see the wisdom in a drum mag, the PMAG D-60 answers the call for a higher high capacity mag without the absurd length created when just doubling or tripling the size of a 30 round box mag.

Plead Your Case

The D-60 is not without some challenges, but first one must understand the point of a drum mag, Best M4 Drumespecially when the wildly popular, reliable, and inexpensive 30 round PMAGs are common.  So why a 60 round drum instead of two 30 round magazines? Here are some reasons, but I bet you can think of more. Just keep in mind that there are many who can find problems.  That’s the easy part.  The smart folks like those at Magpul find solutions.

Under “survival conditions”…

1. If you leave your gear behind, the more onboard ammo, the better.
2. You might be handing the gun off to someone else so slamming home 60 rounds is easier than explaining the nuances of changing mags.
3. In the unlikely event that your bug out runs into unexpected turbulence, you may only have one hand free at a time, and single-handed mag swaps are a pain.
4.
The sheer firepower of sixty bangs downrange is literally twice that of a conventional mag. Double your firepower, double your fun.
5.
There is just something innately practical about a rifle with a 60 round mag. No baggage, mag pouches, or clumsily reloads necessary.
6. Ammo can be stored long term in the D-60 drums so you will be one more step toward preparedness compared to your ammo mule loaded with bulk rounds.

However, and there always seems to be a however, some challenges to the D-60 need to be addressed, or at the least owned.

1. Compared to a 30 round PMAG, the D-60 is expensive. Retailing for $130 and with street prices not much less than that, a fair comparison might be that the 30 round PMAG costs about sixty cents per round held. On the other hand, the D-60 is about $2.15 per round.
2. Compared to a 30 round PMAG, the D-60 weighs four times as much, but holds only twice as many rounds. Or a sixth of an ounce per bang with the PMAG-30, and a third of an ounce per bang with the D-60. So essentially the D-60 weighs about twice as much per round.
3. Loading the D-60 takes time and effort. Unloading the D-60 takes time and effort.
4. The D-60 is four times thicker than a standard PMAG although it is a hair shorter than a 30 round PMAG.
5. While the design is fairly basic for a drum mag, the D-60 is vastly more complex than a standard box-shaped PMAG.

Backstory

The reason we are hesitant or even skeptical about a 60-round AR15 drum magazine, or any Best M4 Drum60-rounder or more for that matter, is that the choices have been scarce, and the reliability highly questionable at best. With Magpul on board reliability becomes a non-issue and quality control is never a problem.

Building out one’s survival kit requires forward thinking. It must have occurred to Magpul that the price and weight of a 60 round drum compared to a pair of 30 round PMAGs would be a deal-killer for many. And while I understand this logic, and in fact practiced it up to this point, I am now a believer that the drum mag has it’s place in the survival kit. Even more than just a place, the D-60 has distinct advantages that should be taken seriously.

Related: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench

With the D-60’s overall length the same as a standard 30 round PMAG, it’s possible to nestle in D60 Reviewwith bipod and shooting mat getting twice the shots without adjusting position. The D-60 does not even touch the ground when the rifle is sitting on nothing but bipod feet and buttstock.

But that pesky price tag was still hard to swallow. In fact, on a good day a pair of 30-round PMAGs could cost $100 less than a D-60. Oh, and there is the pain in the butt loading of the D-60. In fact, it was that loading round after round that got me thinking about the survival aspects of the D-60. For years, my bedroom nightstand safe held a Glock 17 with laser/light and extra 33 round mag. So why wouldn’t I want 60 rounds? In what universe would 17 rounds, or 30 with the AR not be enough, yet you would only want 17 or 30 more when you could have 33 or 60?

High Speed Low Drag

The original M16 had a 20 round magazine. Most 1911 handguns contain seven or eight rounds in a flush-mount magazine. Then 30 rounds became the M16/M4 norm, and Glocks with their 15 or 17 round mags became the new cool kids. Heck, the west was won with six in the cylinder and 15 in the tube (Henry Repeater in .44-40). Even the higher powered Winchester Model 1894 30-30 rifle packed six to eight rounds.

Also Read: Magpul MBUS Pro Iron Sights

Other have attempt to capture the higher high cap mag needs of AR owners included the 100 round Beta double-drum mag, Surefire’s 100 round and 60 round box magazines, the X-Products 50 round drum, and even Magpul’s own 40 round PMAG. While the aforementioned higher high cap options might have succeeded in pushing the price north of three figures, the reliability of such mags has been a sore spot. The only exception is the 40 round Magpul PMAG, but at Hollywood proportions it is anything but low drag as it rivals the length of some SBR barrels. Literally, imagine your mag longer than your barrel. Maybe ok with your Glock 26, but not your rifle.

With five dozen rounds onboard the D-60 weighs half as much as an ultra-light AR. The three pounds of mag does affect the heft of the rifle but not much it’s swing. The dense ball of ammo sits close to the rifle’s center of mass so rotating the gun side to side, back and forth, and up and down is affected much less than a three-pound-15-inch metal banana poking out of the magwell.

Into the Wild

The Magpul PMAG D-60 is an exceptionally fine piece of hardware. Regardless of how you use it Magpul M4 Drumor what you use it for, the D-60 will perform flawlessly. And that fact alone cannot be said about any other AR15 mag over 40 rounds. Period.

Loading the D-60 is easy but a little on the slow side. There is a loading lever on the drum that relieves some spring tension. The lever rotates about 30 degrees counterclockwise  allowing about three rounds to be dropped into the tower for the first couple dozen rounds. Then the loading lever must be released and re-ratcheted. The third and fourth dozen rounds loads as twos, then ones, and as you approach the end of the fifth dozen, you will need to ratchet a couple times per round. With an adapter, stripper clips can be used, but at the same three-round loading burst at best. I recommend wearing a work glove on your mag-side hand (the D-60s design favors right-hand loading) because your thumb becomes irritated with it’s low-level lever-shoving job.

When fully loaded the D-60 will easily snap home in an AR even with the bolt closed. Plus Magpul assures us that the D-60 will be just fine when stored long term with 60 rounds circling its mainspring. I’m testing that at the moment and will get back to you in a couple years.

The small porthole in the 12 o’clock position on the back shows when the sixtieth has been inserted. Indicators on the window denote approximately every 15 rounds from 10 to 60. Personally, I hope Magpul or someone else releases a aftermarket transparent backplate so the total round count is completely obvious at a glance because the difference between 60 rounds and 58 rounds is the same as one full trip around the spring. I just wish the window was larger, or more simply, there was another similar window at the 6 o’clock position to provide twice the critical information.

The D-60 is for .223/5.56 only.  Reports of successful .300 Blackout usage do exist, but so do stories of D-60 failure and even violent breakage when loaded and fired with .30 caliber cartridges.

Like some TP with your Mag Dump?

To unload the D-60, Magpul recommends that you thumb-out each and every cartridge Best AR15 Drumindividually.  Should you feel the urge to use the loading lever to release spring tension, well don’t!  While a handful of brass will tumble out of the tower, the rest will jam up requiring a time-consuming and possibly dangerous (to you and your mag) operation to open the drum and release the rest of the ammo.

The D-60 should work fine on any rifle that uses standard NATO 5.56 box magazines including the M4, M16, SCAR, MK16/16S, HK416, MR556, M27 IAR, and the Tavor.  However, whether or not the bolt holds open after the final round is dependent on the particular firearm. On all my AR15s the bolt was yawning widely following the 60th bang like a baby bird waiting for a worm. Of course your mileage may vary. And for those long guns with bullpup tendencies, some adjustment of grip on the gun will be necessary when the drum invades your armspace.

To keep the D-60 feeding smoothly, I suspected that the included lubricant wipe of CLP is a hint Best M4 AR15 Ammo Drumthat this drum needs occasional maintenance.  And indeed the fine print that comes with the D-60 suggests that the spiral feeding track be lightly lubed about every 1000 rounds.  That’s just under 17 full mags.  When unloaded, the D-60 disassembles safely and quietly since the spring is not under tension. So care and feeding the D-60 is painless, but does take a slotted screwdriver.

Also Read: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

Magpul includes a soft plastic cover for the business end of the mag.  It is only a dust cover and provides no stress relief for the feed lips.  My assumption is that no relief is needed because the spring tension only amounts to the length of the tower and not the full 60 rounds as if it were a long banana mag instead of a drum.  There is a small attachment point on the dust cover that Magpul included so the cap could be attached to your storage and deployment solution of choice. That way when you need to do a fast reload, you can grab the drum and yank it free from the cap in one smooth move.

Four small 3×5 blocks of dot matrix panels on the back side allow for mag identification using a paint pen or gold Sharpie.  The tiny recessed surfaces will retain the ink providing an all-important asset management notation when needing to ID any particular mag from your pile of others.

Need vs. Want

One real world test I failed to employ is a total immersion in water.  Easy to do, but at the moment I’ll trust that Magpul’s drainage ports will do the job even though they are not as obvious as on other mags.

And another real world test I would love to try but don’t have the heart to do it is drop a fully loaded (almost three pounds) mag from six feet onto cement.  Although Magpul claims the D-60 is built with “next-generation impact and crush resistant polymer” my prediction is that the mag could blow apart spilling its guts rather violently.  Or maybe more likely it would just crack open a little unlike Humpty Dumpty, but nothing beyond what can be snapped back together by hand.  But as I’ve learned from past experience with Magpul polymer, I bet I would just need to apologize to the D-60 and give it a big hug.  Good as new.

WROL 2.0

The 30 round PMAG offered us a durability and reliability we could only dream of before.  And Best M4 Drumnow the Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine offers us the same desired features but at double the capacity.  If you’re building a budget AR, then your list of upgrades might have a bit of a line ahead of the D-60.  But if you drop a grand or more on your tricked out Katrina Rifle, then why would you get nervous about handing over a Benji for a high-capacity drum mag.  Cheap magazines are an illusion. I cannot imagine quibbling over the price of gas while bugging out, so I won’t be complaining about the price of the D-60. But I will be bragging about how great it is.

Photos By:
Doc Montana
Magpul

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The 5 Best Lightweight, Compact, Easy-To-Use Survival Rifles

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The 5 Best Lightweight, Compact, Easy-To-Use Survival Rifles

Image source: Gunauction.com

In any outdoor survival situation, finding and procuring food is a major concern. Although there are numerous edible plants, finding and consuming protein isn’t always easy.

Protein is essential to good health because it increases your metabolism (which, in turn, increases body heat) and provides you with the energy you need to survive.

There are many different types of snares and traps that will enable you to harvest protein-rich small game and fish, but the fact is that carrying a rifle will make procuring this vital food source much easier.

First of all, a proper survival rifle should be compact, lightweight and should break down into two or more pieces for easy carry in a backpack, canoe or kayak. In addition, since the purpose of a survival rifle is to procure food instead of defending yourself against large predators, it should fire the venerable .22 LR rimfire cartridge. This cartridge is readily available, is very compact and easy to transport, and is capable of bringing down most any small game animal.

Vicious New Hand-Held Self-Defense Tool Turns Lethal In Seconds!

There are five rifles that fit this bill and each of them has their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look:

1. The Browning Grade 1 Semi-Auto .22 Rifle. This rifle is the highest quality and most expensive of the five rifles listed here. It’s an excellent choice for a hunting and plinking rifle and has a very attractive appearance with high-grade, walnut fore and buttstocks. Also, both the forestock and barrel are detachable, and it holds 11 rounds in a tubular magazine that is loaded through a port in the buttstock. It measures 37 inches when assembled and 19.25 inches when taken down, and it weighs 5 pounds, 3 ounces. The current manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $699.99.

Savage Stevens Model 30 Favorite Takedown Version Rifle2. The Savage/Stevens Model 30 Favorite Takedown Version Rifle. The take-down version of the Savage/Stevens Model 30 Favorite is an inexpensive alternative to the Browning Semi-Auto 22 LR. It, too, features walnut fore and buttstocks and is has an attractive appearance. However, it differs from the Browning rifle in that it is a single-shot rifle with a lever action that retracts a falling breech block instead of a semi-automatic action. It measures 36.75 inches when assembled, has a 21-inch barrel, and weighs 4.25 pounds. This rifle is currently out of production, but it can still be found on the pre-owned gun market at sites such as Gunbroker.com.

3. The Marlin “Papoose” Model 70PSS Rifle. Unlike the two rifles listed above, the Marlin Papoose is a no-frills, purpose-built survival rifle. It has a stainless steel receiver and a removable, 16.25-inch stainless steel barrel combined with a black, fiberglass-filled buttstock and no forestock. It has a detachable, seven-round magazine, measures 35.25 inches when assembled, and weighs 3.25 pounds. The current MSRP is $328.82.

4. The Henry Repeating Arms AR-7 Rifle. This is also a no-frills survival rifle that has been the exclusive choice of the US Air Force since its introduction. It is available with your choice of a camouflage finish or a black, Teflon-coated finish. It features a semi-automatic action and two detachable, eight-round magazines, combined with a 16-inch barrel and a hollow, ABS plastic, buttstock. The buttstock is designed so that the barrel, the receiver, and both magazines can be stored inside it. It weighs 3.5 pounds and measures a mere 16.5 inches when disassembled. Plus, when the buttstock is sealed with the receiver, barrel and magazines inside, the whole affair floats. The current MSRP for the black version is $290, and the camouflage version retails for $350.

5. The Rossi Single Shot Matched Pair Rifle/Shotgun. This is a unique survival rifle that is available in both blue and matte nickel models. It is available in several different caliber/gauge configurations, but for survival purposes the .22 LR/.410 shotgun combination is the best choice since the shotgun barrel will fire both shot shells and .41 caliber lead slugs. Although no length specifications are listed on the Rossi website, it does say that this particular combination weighs 3.75 pounds. The current MSRP is $263.21.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns. Read More Here.

Survival Gear Review: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench

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Best AR-15 Tool

Best AR-15 ToolOnce Upon A Time….You know, I’ll be honest here.  If you have never used an armorer’s tool to work on an AR variant rifle, I almost hate to endorse the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench as your first tool because you will never know just how bad most other armorer’s tools really are.  You won’t know what it’s like to bruise your palm with over-pressure on a thin slice of metal handle.  Or swear as your knuckles are bloodied when your castle nut wrench slips.  Or scratch the finish off your new AR part.  Or when you strip the hell out of whatever you are working on because your wrench just barely grips the nut before failing in world-class form.

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

Instead I’ll just say there is no reason to go through hell just because I did.  My house is not built with trees I chopped down myself.  Nor did I ever suffer from Cholera before my water was chlorinated.  Or lose a child or two in farming accidents long before CPS laws and the Humane Society.  Maybe these examples are a little extreme, but like any great tool, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench makes the job easier, safer, faster, and certainly more fun.

Everything’s a Compromise

When NASA builds a spacecraft it must compromise on the number of instruments and their placement on the Best Rifle Toolcraft.  Not everything can be everywhere, and some instruments can get in the way of other instruments.  The same is true with Armorer’s wrenches.  It might be a stretch to compare a billion-dollar interplanetary spacecraft to a gun tool, but when creating from scratch anything new that has many functions, you need to work with both the individual components, and the relationship between the components.  That’s one reason there are so darn many Leatherman tool models.  If the leverage handle for one fastening tool happens to land on the sharp end of another tool, then using the implement just got worse.

7-11

The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench has seven tools spread out over 11 inches.  Maximum leverage is applied when the Best AR15 Toolhand is furthest from the rotational point of the tool, but that also means your hand will be applying maximum force to the tool at that point.  Lesser Armorer’s tools I’ve used literally hurt when force was applied because a pointed protuberance occupies what should be a ergonomic grip. I had to either wrap the tool with a rag or wear gloves in order to avoid injury or blood blister. Where’s the fun in that?

Magpul provides not only a rock-solid palm platform for applying muscle-level force to the wrench, but also made the wrench the proper length to bridge the limitations of human anatomy with the foot-pound necessary for a proper rifle build. Even more, the wrench is designed for the extremes of using a torque wrench or breaker bar.  Most of the other “Swiss Army do-it-all” armorer’s wrenches put another tool interface right where you need to apply force with your hand. Or they will offer a sliver of metal handle upon which you will apply massive palm pressure especially when trying to remove an excessively tight part.

Call Me A Snob

I have this neighbor who keeps every tool whether it’s any good or not.  A while ago I helped him with project.  While up on his roof and elbow deep in a skylight project, I asked for a number two phillips screwdriver.  Instead of getting a #2, I got a handful of various screwdrivers of which only one of the seven actually had a useful blade. And it was only useful because it was the best of the worst. When I tossed six screwdrivers off the room, it seemed I hurt my friend’s feelings. But I quickly offered him a deal: Throw away all the junk screwdrivers and I’ll buy one good driver for him. A Snap On to be exact. I could tell by his big eyes when I said Snap On that we had a deal.

My point here is that way too often we settle for less and then assume that a pile of less is actually more when it really is nothing more than a big pile of stinky less that’s only as good as the least worst one. Over the years I have gotten rid of every single lesser tool I ever owned.  I ditched all cheap tools, metal tools made in China or Taiwan or forged in nowhere particular out of who-knows-what , and instead focused my tool acquisition only the highest of quality tools.  Yes, the Snap On dealer knows me by name.  A great warranty is great, but if bugging in because of civil unrest or EMP attack, you only got what you got.  All warranties are null and void because society also currently null and void.

Related: Magpul AR15 Furniture Review

But you don’t need to drop obscene amounts of money for the best tools in the solar system.  You just need to buy the highest quality that meet your anticipated needs.  I say “anticipated” because there are limits to what you can afford and even need.  But the error many folks new to the AR platform make is that they fail to think beyond the immediate need.  I’ll agree that it’s a rude awakening that you have to buy a specialized tool to install a new part on your AR, especially when the tool costs as much or more than your new part.  So now the cost of a tool plus the price of the part…well now we are starting to talk real money.  So why would you pay twice or three times as much as you need to? That would be because “need” is relative.  If you are going to do something only once, then save money and a cheap wrench and some band-aids.  But if you want a tool that will not break, will not fail, will not ever let you down, then there is only one AR armorer’s tool and that is the Magpul.  Try this, ask around to see how many AR armorer’s tools your friends have, and if they upgraded along the way. And if so, how many times?

DPMS Is A Tool

I am so glad the DPMS armorer’s tool is no longer made.  I have a DPMS tool and it looks like a winner, feels like a AR15 Survival Toolwinner, but in use it’s really a whiner.  It’s heavy.  It’s thick.  It feels like a strong tool that could take on the world. Sadly, that is just an illusion.  In practice, the tool is hollow in performance, limited in strength, and wholly lacking in the way the tool grips the workpiece.  But while the DPMS is now discontinued, there are plenty more whiners where the DPMS came from.

Other armorer’s tools have limits with grab, rotation and grip.  The online pictures of the DPMS armorer’s wrench make it look like a keeper, but when gunsmithing with the thing, the tool fails because the Amazon page does not show someone applying pressure to the wrench only to have it spin sideways, skip out of the hold, and flail around the workpiece scratching the heck out of the aluminum parts.  To avoid slipping off the workpiece, or stripping the minimal hold points on the nuts, you need a tool that has been perfected for the task.

Magpul Fanboy? Doh!

OK, I admit I’m a fan of Magpul.  I think they search for solutions like drones search for ISIS.  At the bleeding edge magpul_fanboyof technology to and function, Magpul leaves everything on the field.  It’s designs are as good as can be done right now.  Upgrades follow only when we have learned from the previously generation of tool, whether buttstock, backup “iron” sight, or box magazine. When Gen2 comes out, they (and we) have learned.  So consider the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench a Gen2. Magpul has learned from all the successes and failures of every previous generation of multi-function armorer’s tool that has ever been made.  The restless folks at Magpul noticed that the AR armorer’s tool was broken.  It worked, but was still in need of serious help. So Magpul to the rescue.

Also Read: Magpul MBUS Pro Iron Sights

The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench, aka the Magpul 535, weighs a tenth over a pound, and is 11.7 inches long.  It’sBest AR15 Tool made of heat-treated all-American steel, then covered head-to-toe in a manganese phosphate coating that gives it exceptional corrosion resistance and a refined feel that provides additional grip and a low reflectance that will keep the bad guys from catching the sun reflecting off your wrench when you decide to add a new sling plate on your buffer tube while on the battlefield.

Magpul My Finger

Using only US-made forged steel, Magpul created an AR armorer’s wrench that serves the basic needs of the AR Best AR15 Tooloperator and professional armorer alike with exceptional form, function, and most of all efficient interface with the human hand operating the wrench.  As far as I can tell, Magpul designed this wrench by being honest about what an AR armorer’s wrench is used for.  The list of AR  jobs is longer than that the skill set of this wrench, but that’s the point. Other wrenches tried to do it all, but ended up doing it all poorly.  Since 95% of the need for an armorer’s wrench is found in just two or three tasks, 95% of the design of the Magpul supports these tasks.  The three most common needs for a dedicated armorer’s wrench are to remove/install a muzzle device, remove/tighten a buffer tube castle nut, and loosen/tighten a barrel nut or free float handguard ring.  The icing on the phosphate coating cake of this wrench include two hammer faces, a rifle-length tube wrench, and a bottle-cap that Magpul guarantees will open both SAE and Metric bottle caps.

Related: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

There are many advantages of this Magpul wrench over other wrenches but most of them fit into three categories. First, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench grips it’s workpiece with more contact points than all other wrenches put together. Second, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench has a deeper and more secure interface with the workpiece. And finally and possibly most important is that the wrench fits well into the human hand when applying maximum pressure. Other wrenches manage to put a tool interface just where your hand needs to go causing either pain or need for gloves when twisting the wrench, especially when removing stubborn nuts. Now add to this the lack of workpiece grip of substandard wrenches and you have a perfect storm of disasters just waiting for the right moment to ruin your rifle, break the wrench, and rip the skin off your knuckles.

Castle Me

So let’s take a closer look at the wrench. The castle nut wrench has two sides, each with a significant benefit. The Magpul_Armorer_Wrench_Review_SurvivalMagpul logo’d side will completely engulf a USGI castle nut ensuring that a positive grip that cannot go flying off the handle, so to speak. But it only works on traditional castle nuts with no additional mounting plate features like QD attachment points, or Magpul’s own ASAP sling mount.

So for enhanced plates, the reverse side of the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench grabs the castle nut from a distance with three beefy prongs. And that alone can be worth the price of this wrench. In both cases, this wrench requires it to be slid over the carbine buffer tube so the buttstock has to be removed, and there is risk of scratching the tube’s exterior if you slide it aggressively.

En Garde

The other end of the wrench holds a two-sided handguard interface, one side Survival Gear Review Magpulfor traditional USGI barrel nuts, and one for common free-float tube nuts.  The barrel nut wrench has two more contact palls compared to the DPMS taking the grip even further beyond the halfway point of grip.  Since a barrel nut can be the highest torque interface on the AR platform reaching upwards of 80 foot/pounds, loosening a stuck barrel nut requires significantly more force than than the 80 it was born with.

Also Read: AR15 Magazine Strategy

The free-float component of this wrench contains a seven-pin spanner that will safely and firmly provide torque to those expensive and lightweight floating handguard mounting solutions.  And that too could alone justify the cost of this Magpul tool.  The standard muzzle device uses parallel control surfaces exactly 3/4ths of an inch apart.  The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench embeds the muzzle device tool within the castle nut tool. In fact the muzzle device spacer is the same one used to accommodate the six-position adjustable stock rail running under the buffer tube housing.  The single pear-shaped opening the southern end of this wrench is actually three different tools.

Hammer It Home

Go ahead, admit it. We all use wrenches as hammers sometimes.  So why not just build a hammer or two into the wrench? Done. The dual hammer faces provide ultra-convenient small but reinforced flat surfaces that are most effective for tapping punches and giving that little bit of umpf when necessary.  But when in the shop a dedicated hammer is a wise choice.  But the real impact of the hammers are to provide additional surface area to distribute the force on your palm when anger takes over your build.

The half-inch square hole in the barrel nut side of the wrench accommodates a torque wrench and Magpul thoughtfully provided the common torque specs forged into the wrench.  Magpul recommends using the torque wrench at a 90 degrees perpendicular to the wrench for best results.  And if torque values are important to you, it is imperative to have a quality torque wrench.  The inexpensive ones are known for being way off, often 10 foot-pounds or more.  Another torque wrench issue is that many half-inch wrenches begin their range not too far from the fastener values used on guns.  I prefer a digital torque wrench with a ⅜” ratchet since the wrenches with a smaller socket connector start at a lower value.  Of course you loose some high end, but I do more lower-level torquing than high value twists these days.  The ovalized hole opposite the torque hole is used to tighten/loosen rifle-length buttstock tubes.

Iron Butterfly

One last feature of the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench is that it truly is a thing of beauty…in a Glock sort of way. You won’t mind leaving the wrench out on the bench just to enjoy it sitting there. Or hang it on the wall in a prominent place in your shop. With all the eye candy we hang off our ARs these days, you might as well find pleasure with your tools. Yea, I know how that sounded, but you know what I meant.

All Photos by Doc Montana

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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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Survival Gear Review: Skinner “HTF” Tactical Garment Bag

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Skinner-Sights-HTF-Tactical-Garment-Bag-Revew

The cliché saying is “hiding in plain sight.”  Preppers need to be sensitive to being able to hide critical gear, supplies, Tactical Garment Bagand SHTF stuffs away from prying eyes, thieves, or anybody else that might be snooping around your house or storage areas.  This is why we advise keeping quiet and discreet about your prepping efforts, keeping equipment, gear, and support stuffs out of public viewing sight.  This goes so far as keeping the garage doors down when you are home or not outside or doing work around the house.

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

This includes locking storage rooms, closets, and other storage areas from “friends”, family or guests coming into the home.  Using unmarked, locked storage containers is another way to “hide” stuff.  There are any number of ways to secure and hide your SHTF weapons and at least one stash of a short rifle, handguns, ammo, extra magazines, and other related support gear in one hiding place.  Here is a review of a new piece of gear designed specifically to conceal your first line of defense gear virtually in plain sight just in case of an emergency.  This is a good piece of gear for either a Bug In or a grab and go bag out the back door.

Hiding In Plain Sight Concept

As Skinner Sights owner Andy Larsson says, “Who steals clothing” when thieves or undesirables raid your house?  Best Way to Hide GunsRegardless of whether or not you are an official prepper or just interested in hiding some critical guns, magazines, ammo and other gear in a place that is not likely to be discovered either by a break in or any sort of ravaging during a SHTF episode.  The whole idea behind the Skinner “HTF” Garment Bag is to provide a unique place to “hang” several guns and other gear out of sight from anyone, virtually hidden in plain sight.  I mean walk into your closet and what do you see.  Clothing hanging on hangers from a support rod is an exceedingly common sight in any house or apartment.  Shirts, pants, suits in bags, coats and other items just lined up.

Also Read: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

Nothing there hanging in a closet should appear out of context or secretive.  Think about it.  If you were pillaging through a house as a common break in thief or some ganged up zombie during a SHTF are you going to check out the sizes of the shirts and pants hanging up in a closet.  Would a dress suit be high on your list of stuff to steal?  I don’t think so.  So this is the primary premise behind a common looking garment suit bag hanging in a clothing closet or hallway coat closet among many other suit or clothing storage bags.  When the closet door is opened, it should just look like an ordinary closet with nothing out of place.  But hidden there could be a secret cache of emergency self-defense gear.

Skinner’s Hide Out Garment Bag

Upon initial examination of the Skinner HTF Garment Bag once it is unzipped to reveal the internal design features, Top Survival Blogyou simply have to say “wow.”  I took just a while to really study the inside layout of this new piece of gear.  To simply say it is well designed and completely thought out is a sort of understatement.  Upon building it out, inserting all my gear items, and hanging it up in the closet, I am not sure there is a thing I would change.

Everything about this product is heavy duty.  The bag hanger is super heavy duty despite being made of molded plastic.  One would really have to abuse this hanger to break it.  I mean it was created to support the weight of all the gear this bag will hold, so it is definitely up to the task.  The bag’s zippers and pulls are heavy duty and designed for frequent, problem free use.  With twin zippers from the top and the bottom of the bag, the user can decide which zipper orientation they want to use that it best for them.  I have tried both zippers positioned at the top and then to the left side so they could be unzipped in opposite directions simultaneously.   You can play with this to see how you like the closed zipper placement best.

Let’s review the inside features from top to bottom.  The heavy duty hanger slips through a double sewn opening in the top of the bag for hanging the bag up on a closet rod.  There is a sort of an overlapping cover as well that is part of the outside zipper closure of the bag.  In the very top of the bag is a horizontal pouch for holding a flashlight with a hook and loop flap closure to secure the light.  The pouch is not overly large so you may have to try several different flashlight models to see which one fits well.

On the left side of the bag is a position for a rifle such as an AR or AK up to 40-inches in length.  The buttstock fits Hiding Gunsdown in the bottom of the bag in an open slip pouch and the handguard/barrel is secured by a Velcro strap at the top.  There is ample room here for a scoped rifle with a magazine inserted if desired.  The muzzle of the barrel fits up under the top of the bag cover.

On the right side opposite the rifle containment are two removable holsters held in place by Velcro.  These are positioned one on top of the other with the holstered handgun secured by a strap with a heavy duty locking clip buckle.  The holsters look to be mainly designed to hold pistols, but I inserted a .357 Smith and Wesson N-frame revolver just to see how it fits.  The weight of the revolver caused the holster to sag a bit outward, but upon tugging at it, I do not think it would become detached or come lose.   Each holster also has a dedicated attached pouch to hold one magazine with a flap closure.

Just to the left of the pistol holsters are pouches to hold six additional pistol magazines with flap closures.  Further left of the pistol magazine pouches is a vertical pouch for holding a large knife with scabbard or possibly another piece of gear, perhaps another larger flashlight.  Below the bottom holster are two accessory pouches to be used for a variety of small gear items.  These pouches could hold extra lose ammo, revolver speed loaders, or perhaps even a small concealed pistol like a Beretta Pico, KelTec, or Kahr handgun.  They could also be used to hold critical medications, extra batteries, a pocketknife, some power bars or whatever.

Also Read: Lulu Magazine Loader

At the bottom of the bag are three pouches to hold rifle magazines.  They are long enough to easily accommodate Best Way to Hide Guns30-round AR magazines with no issues.  These are also secured with fold over flaps using Velco to hold the mags in place.  Sewn down the center of the bag is a nylon strap with the function of giving the bag additional stability and form I would imagine.  Keep in mind when this bag is fully loaded it is going to be pretty heavy especially with all the magazines loaded to capacity.  Once the bag is geared up, the outside of the garment bag is zipped closed to hang up.  I think a small padlock could be put on the zipper pulls.  Also quite unique is the fact that the bag can then be laid out (on the bed or table) and folded in half to be secured by two sewn on external straps with snap closure buckles.  The outside of the bag also has two sewn on wrap around carry handles to tote the bag like a piece of luggage.

Unobtrusive hanging in the closet?  Yes, but note upon unusually close examination of stuff hanging in a closet this bag will stand out somewhat.  Clearly the heavy duty hanger could be noticed as something different.  The external carry straps and wrap straps could be noticed attached to the bag.  I recommend when hanging the Skinner Garment Bag in the closet to fit it in between other suit or coat bags to further obscure its presence.  I seriously doubt it would ever be noticed hanging among all the other clothes or bags.

This bag is constructed of heavy duty cordura black fabric with tough stitching.  I have seen photos of the bag in dark green.  I think the black is a better choice as it tends to blend in more appropriately as a garment bag.  The retail pricing is $179 and can be ordered direct at www.skinnersights.com.  So, whether to hide out in a closet or fold over for a grab bag, the Skinner “HTF” Garment Bag is an alternative way to secure an essential cache of weapons, ammo and support gear out of sight in plain view.

Photos By:
Skinner Sights LLC
Dr. John J. Woods

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Oldie Military Firearms For Prepper Survival

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m1doesmytalking_smIf you read the modern prepper press and peruse the current prepper websites, you would be convinced that unless you have a modern tricked out M-4 or a upgraded AK with all the bells and whistles, then you are simply out of luck when it comes to surviving a SHTF situation with WROL or even TEOTWAWKI. Guess what? They are lying to you.

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Filed under: Azweaponcraftprepper Tagged: Beggining preppers, bolt action rifle, Doomsday prepping, Personal defense, prepping, Surplus Rifles for Prepping, Survival and Prepping, Survival rifles