Tag Archives: firearms

AR 15 Armoring. Replacing a bolt catch.

The AR Platform  is probably THE most modular of long gun’s out there. There seems to be no end of parts, upgrades and do-dads available for it.

While there are MANY people out there with the armoring know how to replace their own parts or upgrade/repair their AR’s, there are others who are a little hesitant to take punches to their “baby” and get to work.

This post is to show how easily one can replace the bolt catch on their AR…it’s nothing to be scared of.

Today my Seekins Precision Enhanced Bolt Catch arrived. It offers a larger “paddle” for bolt manipulations, has a textured pattern for positive control and…yes…I thought it looked cool. IMO, if it works as well (or better) than OEM then I have no problem with making a choice based on appearance.

Anyway. First thing you should do is get your work-space prepared.


For this job all you need is two 3/32″ punches, a hammer and some tape.


After securing your lower in whatever block/vice you have, I suggest a layer or two of non-marring tape around the area you are working on to protect the surface from any scratches.


Using a 3/32″ punch and hammer, slowly tap the roll pin securing the bolt catch out.


Since this is a replacement job I recommend not driving the roll pin all the way out. Just tap it till the old bolt catch can be removed. Be sure to retain the bolt catch spring and plunger for re-installation.


Now it’s “in with the new”. Push the spring back into the receiver, followed by the plunger.


Now, temporarily secure the new catch by pushing a second 3/32″ punch through the flange on the lower receiver and the hole in the catch.


Then all you have to do is simply reverse the process by tapping the roll pin back into place.


Viola! That’s all there is to it.




let the hate flow through you

The Costa Hate.

Someone explain it to me. I don’t drink his kool-aid, but I don’t hate the guy’s stuff either. Is it jealousy of his success? Is this some sort of “sell-out” thing, like some folks point at musicians when they go commercial? Sure, this video is a tad loopy, but it’s Airsoft in Japan and they wanted him to do this for a photo-op.

I see a lot of OMG HE’S FLAGGING PEOPLE WITH A GUN!!! going around. But it really looks like he’s pointing over everyone’s head at the far wall. And correct me if I’m wrong, but people actually point and shoot Airsoft at each other all of the time don’t they?

What’s the story with the hate on this dude? He’s certainly bought the AR platform some attention.

tactical preschool 64

This lesson is closely associated with tactical preschool 5 and the geometry of cover.

Your distance from cover will dictate how much area behind cover will open up when you move sideways away from it.

If you are close to cover, a larger slice  of area behind that cover will open up….



…than if you are farther away from cover, where a smaller slice will appear.



two man drills, good stuff or misunderstood?

I have seen, practiced and even operationally utilized some two man movement techniques similar to these but they sometimes left me thinking about the wisdom of them.

I can see the utility in “nuts to butts drills” when used doing building clearing and other situations where you need to maneuver in tight quarters and keep a 360 deg security. Similarly I can see their advantages as immediate reaction drills where you make contact while in a stack or while approaching a scene/suspect with a partner close by.

However, once the bullets start flying I can’t see an advantage in standing close together and slugging it out. One, you present a big target and two, you fail to present the opponent with the attention dividing distraction two people can present. I would think that it would be better to split up and find cover that would allow you to mutually support each other with fire.


reloading recipe

150 gr tsx

For the reloaders out there.

I had some good results today with some handloads for my 30-30 levergun. But for my trigger control from supported prone I almost achieved a one-hole at 100 yds.

The recipe here is:

Barnes TSX 150gr
Win 748 33.5 gr (I don’t have a chronograph but Barnes manuals put it around 2100 fps)
Federal once fired brass
Winchester Large Rifle primers

I’m no benchrest guru and I’m sure others can do better, but out of a levergun at 100 I can’t complain. I have some high hopes for this load this season.

Occam’s Razor for shooters….

The Ockraz Logo
The Ockraz Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William of Ockham was an influential medieval philosopher who is recalled chiefly for the maxim attributed to him known as Ockham’s razor. Also spelled “Occam’s Razor”. The words attributed to him are, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem…or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

I bring this up because I have just read a quote from the Dokkodo, the “The Solitary Path”, which is a short piece written by Miyamoto Musashi shortly before his death:

Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what can be of use to you.

I see a link between the philosophies of these two men and an application to weapon training. I will attempt to explain.

These philosophical issues come to mind because I was recently involved in a friendly conversation debating that “Less Filling. Tastes Great” topic of using the slide release vs “power stroking” the slide on a handgun during an emergency reload.

I have a post here regarding this very issue BTW.

Debate points that always seem to come up when discussing emergency reloads are:

“I use the power stroke because I may be using a weapon I am unfamiliar with and running the slide is fairly universal for all pistols while slide releases may vary.”


“I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.”

Being a fairly recent convert to the slide release method, Occam’s and Musashi’s quotes kind of cut me both ways.

I argue that the “It’s universal for all pistols” point either means you own too many pistols or you are saying you are going to be doing a combat pick up of a pistol…or a disarm.

Per Occam/Musashi…if you have so many different pistols that you may/may not be carrying at any one time, you are violating their precepts. I’m not against collecting guns, I’m not against having different pistols/rifles for different applications, but if you worry that you may not be able to “auto pilot” your weapon because you may be carrying something different on any given day, that’s a problem IMO. Pick one and make it a part of your hand.

The combat pick-up/disarm argument doesn’t hold much water for me either. I’m probably not going to disarm an attacker of his weapon and magazines and have to do an emergency reload with them. And the combat pick-up is such a statistically rare issue that I don’t see it as a valid point. Either way, if they worry you then do the power stroke method if that ever happens.

The second point…”I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.” Is a more valid argument when applying Occam (Musashi doesn’t really apply here). Having one way of operating the pistol regardless of reason (malfunction or running dry) is a stronger point IMO and I have much to agree with.

However I would counter that Occam said “…must not be multiplied beyond necessity” he didn’t say “never multiply”. The slide stop method has some things going for it; speed, efficiency, the weapon/hands stay more oriented to the threat, etc. The necessity of multiplying your manual of arms to gain those advantages may be debatable, but I would debate it.

Either way you choose I find Occam and Musashi’s points as interesting ways to analyze our choices when it comes to weaponcraft. What do you think?

Enhanced by Zemanta

the M4 unreliable….here we go again.

Carbine M4 1
Carbine M4 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article from the Washington Times has been making the rounds:

Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle

I won’t rehash the article and I won’t even type my response to it because THIS GUY has already said everything I would have to say.

The Flaws of the M4 Carbine

Three days ago an article was dropped onto the internets by the Washington Times that rippled through the time space continuum of internet commandos and pajama ninjas. The article was a series of interviews with former and active high ranking officials, as well as former service members regarding the reliability and efficacy of the longest serving weapon system (rifle or carbine) in US Military history. We do not need to address that storied history here, however we do need to address the concerns raised in the article and the already common ways they have been addressed and remedied.

Go Read It.

Enhanced by Zemanta

twist and shoot

Deutsch: Züge einer 9mm Pistole (selbst aufgen...
Deutsch: Züge einer 9mm Pistole (selbst aufgenommen, FDL) (Original text : Züge eine 9 mm Pistole vom Patronenlager aus gesehen) Weitere Nutzung: WaffenWiki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rifling twist rates can be another head scratcher for the new AR owner. The internet is full of different opinions of what is “best”…often times based on what the writer has purchased and is now trying to justify. :)

Like any topic of a technical nature, “best” is a relative term. For the beginner, what you need to learn are some simple rules of thumb to help you base a decision on.

Gun makers realized rather quickly that the accuracy of a firearm improved when the projectile had a “pointy end” and was spun. The “point” gives the projectile a streamlined shape that slices through the atmosphere more efficiently and groves machined into the gun barrel impart spin. The spin keeps the bullet stable along its path of flight and prevents it from wobbling or tumbling end over end, both of which would be bad for accuracy. Anyone who has used a gyroscope in HS science class recalls that a spinning object likes to stay in one place and resists change. That’s what you want in a bullet.

The groves in the barrel, as we all know, are called “rifling”.

A rifle barrels rate of spin is expressed as 1:(X) with 1= “One full 360 degree rotation of the bullet” and X= Inches of barrel length.

The most common “Combat AR” twist rates you will find “off the shelf” these days are 1:7, 1:8, and 1:9. Some AR owners like 1:10 and 1:12 barrels and other variants, but in my experience you will find most guys who “run and gun” using one of these three.


If you do the math of dividing barrel length by twist you see that in the common 16″ barrel length a 1:7 twist will spin a bullet twice with 2 inches of the barrel still to go. A 1:8 about twice even, and a 1:9 will spin it once with 7 inches of barrel to go…so “almost twice”. Based on manufacturing variations that’s all approximate but there you go.


So “whats the point?” you are asking?

Well… bullets of any given caliber (AKA: diameter) come in various sizes. Differentiated by weight (measured in “grains”), there is an entire rainbow of  .223 caliber bullets ranging from tiny 40 grain bullets up to 80 grain whoppers. Because the diameter of the bullet is fixed, what you get are longer projectiles as the weight increases.

Rules of thumb regarding bullet weight:

  • Lighter bullets can achieve faster velocities and shoot with a flatter trajectory. Their lack of mass means they wont stay stable at longer ranges and wind has more effect on them at long range.
  • Heavier bullets will stay stable over longer distances but have a more “arched” trajectory. Wind has less effect on them at long range.
  • The terminal effect of a bullet, or its “striking” power, is due to a combination  of it’s mass and velocity.
  • Heavier bullets cost more.

Like barrels, for the purposes of discussion I will use the three most common (as I see it) bullet sizes; the highly common 55 gr, the “medium” 69 gr and the “large” 75 gr.


Due to a lot of math/physics and stuff I can’t explain, it’s really the length of the projectile and it’s velocity that determine how much spin it will need to fly straight and stable, not the weight. However, we talk about bullets in “grains” so when pairing bullets to rifling twist you just have to consider two facts.

  • Lighter bullets need less spin to get them into a stable flight.
  • Heavier bullets need more spin to get them stable in flight.

So..1:7 is 2 full twists plus a little more out of a 16″ barrel which means MORE TWIST and a 1:9 is 1 full twist which means LESS TWIST. The 1:8 splits the difference.

You would think that “more is better” when it comes to twist, but what happens when small/light bullets are overspun is that they fly to pieces once they exit the barrel. Heavier bullets will “overstabilize” if spun too much. That means the point of the bullet wont come down on the decent end of it’s trajectory.

So which should you get? Well what do you want to do and what size bullet do you want to do it with?

The 1:9 is a common twist rate “off the shelf” when you buy an AR. It will work fine with the commonly found 55 grain bullet up to “medium” sized projectiles like 69 grain. Depending on your particular barrel it MAY even stabilize “heavy” bullets…or it may not. Even if it does, variations like temperature and air pressure MAY make it inconsistent with heavy rounds. So out to 300 yards or so 1:9 should be fine. 400-500 yd shots? Probably not so much.

The 1:7 is the current military standard on the M4/M16 and as such is also a commonly found option. It will throw the medium to heavy rounds out past 300 yards. It can also “sufficiently” stabilize 55 grain rounds. You wont get exceedingly small groups with 55gr, and while it MAY stabilize a lighter round for farther shots, you are also at the mercy of your individual barrel and environmental factors.

The 1:8 slides the options to the center. Some praise it as the best of both worlds while others deride it as the “Jack of all trades, master of none” option.

As you can see, in the end all of them can work fine as a general use option. It’s when you want to specialize in a specific range or hunting environment that a specific combination of bullet/twist becomes the optimum choice.

Enhanced by Zemanta

a guide to muzzle devices: guest post by John Lee

It used to be aftermarket stocks, angled foregrips, oversized selector switches, and pistol grips.  Now muzzle devices are the craze.  As with most things gun related, the sheer number of products on the market and all the marketing chatter makes it difficult for a consumer to make a proper, informed decision.  There are hundreds of muzzle devices on the market, so it can be a confusing world out there.  This is an informative post to help people understand what these devices do, and how to choose a good muzzle device.

Muzzle devices can be categorized into the following:

1. Flash-Suppressors (Flashhiders, will be referred to as FH)
2. Compensators (Comps)
3. Muzzle Brakes (MBs)
4. Suppressors (Silencers) I will not be covering suppressors because I do not have much knowledge on suppressors.

Products categorized within 1, 2 and 3, often share each other’s elements, but are usually dominantly one or the other.  Often times they are misnamed, or called by the wrong name, further adding to the confusion.

1. Flash Suppressors

2013-10-25 20.31.56

Flash suppressors are the most common muzzle devices. A FH is what typically comes standard on your AR-15… it’s known as the A2 “Birdcage” Flash Suppressor.

Despite what you may have read, a good FH really does suppress muzzle flash.  Their main function is to redirect, accelerate, or decelerate the exhaust gasses to reduce flash, or to redirect the amount of hot gasses that are visible.  I won’t go too much into the mechanics of it.

You are not going to completely eliminate flash at night, but you can certainly reduce it to a point where it is hardly visible.  The A2 ‘birdcage’ FH does work pretty well.  If you take it off and fire your rifle, you will know what I mean.  A lot of flashhiders have some compensating features built into them as well.  The A2 FH works well, and does provide a bit of compensation.

Some flash hiders work better than others. Its worth paying more for the good ones.  Some of my favorite aftermarket FH include the Vortex FH and our new VG6 Zeta flashhider that is still under development.  The Vortex is a bit of an industry standard right now, especially if you don’t mind the ringing noise it produces.  (I don’t mind it).  Another good option is the Phantom flashhider, which provides a little bit of improvement over the A2 FH.

2. Compensators


Compensators redirect exhaust gasses to control muzzle movements that happen at the moment of firing. Primarily, they are tuned to a specific caliber, and sometimes for barrel length.

With a Compensator, concussion and noise levels are increased, sometimes to muzzle brake levels.  Although you’re still going to feel most of the recoil with a good comp, you’re gonna keep the muzzle right on target.  They help speed up your follow-up shots.

Compensators are popular with the tactical rifle crowd. The Battlecomp being extremely hot right now. Prices can range from 100-150 dollars.  I personally love muzzle brakes because a pure compensator will not produce the ‘wow’ factor of recoil reduction.

3. Brakes

2013-10-25 20.31.42

Muzzle brakes are probably one of the oldest muzzle devices around.  You see them on weapons from anti-material sniper rifle platforms to artillery pieces. On small arms, they help the shooter manage recoil better, or make it possible for a shooter to fire a firearm that would otherwise be impossible to shoot.  With a muzzle brake, the exhaust gasses hit a wall and push the barrel assembly forward, reducing actual recoil.  Although muzzle brakes have been around forever, it was not until recent years that they gained more mainstream popularity.

What does a muzzle brake do on our rifles?  It is all about recoil.  Most consumers who have not fired a rifle with a good brake do not realize how well good muzzle devices work.  Most muzzle devices on the market right now are competition oriented.

Competition brakes are popular (read necessary, if you want to compete with the best) with 3 gun and other competition shooters.  Look into likes of Mikulek Brakes, JP Brakes and such. These hard-core competition brakes virtually eliminate recoil to the point where muzzle climb is nil.  The downside is, you also get a lot of gas blow-back, i.e. gasses coming right back at you, increasing noise, increasing discomfort, and annoying the crap out of your friends around you. Muzzle flash is also a problem.

Other brakes are marketed more to general shooters.  However, there aren’t that many brakes out there that allow for practical use of your rifle.

One thing of note: competition brakes do not necessarily outperform brakes that are marketed as general use.

Note applicable to all muzzle devices: No muzzle device, especially compensators and brakes, are perfect.  This is because barrel length, ammo, fitment of the reciprocating elements of the rifle and other factors make differences in how the muzzle device is tuned.  Furthermore, stance, size and ability of the shooter makes a difference in subjective felt recoil and muzzle rise.  There is no way around it; lots and lots of R&D time should go in to best fit the targeted consumers.  Your brake might be one customer’s favorite accessory on his rifle.  Others may be unimpressed.  There is definitely a subjective element to it.  My recommendation is to read many reviews and decide for yourself before dropping 150 dollars on a muzzle device.

How to pick a muzzle device: Not all muzzle devices are created the same.  A 30 dollar muzzle device will not get you the results that say, a 100 dollar muzzle device would.  Here are some guidelines on how to pick a well performing muzzle device.  Specifically, the following guidelines are for those of you looking for a muzzle brake and comps for a general, practical rifle, or something that will go on your duty patrol rifle.  For non-tactical, competition specific applications, these guidelines are not as important.

  1. High quality materials: With all the high pressure and temperatures, you need good materials for longevity and sustained performance. Look for stainless steel or better.  Don’t fall for things like ‘mil-spec high strength steel’ or other ‘buzz’ words.  Lesser materials will wear out faster, unless it is a really big muzzle device. Related to this is surface finishing/hardness, as heat treatment or finishes that involve heat treatment will increase longevity in your muzzle device.
  2. Quality/Fit/Finish: Tolerances and precision matter when it comes to performance.  Long story short: get one that has been CNC’d.  Believe it or not, a lot of engineering goes into designing a good muzzle device.  Typical of a top-tier brake, the VG6 products use advanced computational methods and analysis, high speed cameras, and many many rounds of field testing.  To bring R&D results to a product a good device will have to have been CNC machined.
  3. Size and weight: Some customers care a lot about how big the muzzle device is.  For aesthetics, or to maintain a short barrel, or sometimes to pin/weld on 14.5-14.7″ builds.
  4. Looks: Don’t get a product that you aren’t going to love!
  5. Compatibility: Your job may require you to run a muzzle device that is compatible with suppressors and such.  Do the research to find out that your clamp-on suppressor will work with your muzzle device.

Factors 1 and 2 are probably most important indicators of a good, high performance muzzle brake.  I really recommend that you purchase a top-shelf muzzle device, even if it costs more (Except for a few underpriced, high value ones like ours).  It will be worth it.  A good muzzle brake will make a ‘night-and-day’ difference in your follow up shots.  A cheaper one can range from hardly noticeable to marginally noticeable.  Good luck shopping!

-John Lee

Jerry works for Precision Delivery Systems, an AR-15 accessories retail and wholesaler who is partnered up with VG6 Precision, a manufacturer of muzzle devices, mounts, other accessories.  Their most popular product has been the new VG6 Gamma 556 tactical brake.

Check it out: www.pdsrifles.com www.youtube.com/PDSrifles.

The Things Worth Believing In Addendum:

I previously did an evaluation on the VG6. You can read it HERE.

AND a little rule of thumb I always use to tell if a device is a Flash Hider, Comp or Brake is the following.

Flash Hiders typically are cone shaped on the interior with a large exit opening which allows the gasses to escape rapidly forward.

You will also note that the vent slots on this A2 are all on the top side of the device which vent some gasses upward, providing a bit of compensation.

2013-10-25 20.31.56ARR

Comps and Brakes usually have a small exit opening. This forces the escaping gasses to strike the “Wall” at the end of the device and get funneled out of slots and ports along the sides. This is what lets then do what they do.

2013-10-25 20.31.42ARR

For Brakes look for large ports…typically on the sides of the device. For Compensators look for slots/holes that would direct gasses is particular directions…often times UP in order to “compensate” for the tendency of a barrel to rise/jump under recoil by pushing gas upwards. Some devices on the market today are composites that provide the recoil reduction of a Brake and the muzzle control of a Compensator.

2013-06-17 17.07ARR

Note that these are just “rules of thumb” and not hard and fast rules. Read any and all instructions and descriptions before purchasing your muzzle device.


Enhanced by Zemanta