January 27th, 2017

ARchaeology Lesson — The Original AR-10 That Started it All

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

Today, AR-platform rifles are hugely popular. Dozens of manufacturers sell AR-type rifles, in a wide variety of configurations and calibers. But before there were M16s and AR-15s, ArmaLite produced a 7.62×51 caliber rifle, the AR-10. Yes before there were millions of 5.56 black rifles, there was a .30-caliber big brother with reddish-brown furniture. Invented by Eugene (‘Gene’) Stoner for the Armalite company in the late 1950s, this is the father of all of today’s AR-platform rifles. Way ahead of its time, this remarkable, select-fire battle rifle weighed just 7.25 pounds as first developed.

If you’re curious about the AR-10, in this video, Jerry Miculek puts an original 1957-vintage AR-10 through its paces on the range. This extremely rare, early-production rifle was provided by Mr. Reed Knight and the Institute of Military Technology. (The gun in the video was actually produced in the Netherlands under license, see video at 4:40.) This AR-10 is the direct ancestor of the AR-15, M16, and many of the modern sporting rifles that we use today.

The AR-10 was slim and light, weighing in at around 7 pounds. Some folks might argue that the original “old-school” AR10 is actually better that some of today’s heavy, gadget-laden ARs. The AR-10’s charging “lever” was under the carry handle — that made it easier to manipulate with the gun raised in a firing position.

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

You’ll notice there is no “forward assist”. Inventor Gene Stoner did not believe a separate “bolt-pusher” was necessary. The forward assist was added to solve problems encountered in Viet Nam. Some critics say the forward assist “only takes a small problem and makes it a big problem.” For today’s competition ARs (that are never dragged through the mud) the forward assist probably is superfluous. It is rarely if ever needed.

AR-10 Armalite Jerry Miculek

Note also that the handguards are fairly slim and tapered. Today, six decades after the first AR-10 prototypes, we are now seeing these kind of slim handguards (made from aluminum or lightweight composites) used on “full race” ARs campaigned in 3-gun competition.

History of the AR-10
The AR-10 is a 7.62 mm battle rifle developed by Eugene Stoner in the late 1950s at ArmaLite, then a division of the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation. When first introduced in 1956, the AR-10 used an innovative straight-line barrel/stock design with phenolic composite and forged alloy parts resulting in a small arm significantly easier to control in automatic fire and over one pound lighter than other infantry rifles of the day. Over its production life, the original AR-10 was built in relatively small numbers, with fewer than 9,900 rifles assembled.

In 1957, the basic AR-10 design was substantially modified by ArmaLite to accommodate the .223 Remington cartridge, and given the designation AR-15. ArmaLite licensed the AR-10 and AR-15 designs to Colt Firearms. The AR-15 eventually became the M16 rifle.

AR-10 photos from Arms Izarra, a Spanish company specializing in de-militarized, collectible firearms. Interestingly, this particular AR-10 was produced in the Netherlands under license.

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January 27th, 2017

Innovative Pistol — The Hudson H9

Hudson H9 pistol 9mm 9x19mm low bore axis

A striker-fired 9mm 1911, with a lower bore axis. That’s how we’d describe the brand-new Hudson H9 pistol, which debuted at SHOT Show 2017. The feel in the hand will be familiar to model 1911 owners — this single-stack pistol shares the ergonomics of the classic J.M. Browning 1911. It also has a trigger feel similar to a 1911 (but there is more take-up than on a 1911).

The big news is up front — that bulky section in the front of the frame below the muzzle allows the guide rod and recoil spring to be carried very low. That permits the slide to be placed lower relative to the web of the hand. This, combined with the striker firing mechanism, all translates to a lower bore axis and lower Center of Gravity. In practice this does reduce muzzle flip and perceived recoil.

Hudson H9 pistol 9mm 9x19mm low bore axis

We shot the Hudson H9 at Media Day at the Range, and it did seem to be have less muzzle flip than a typical 9x19mm pistol of similar weight. However, we would stop short of calling this revolutionary. To be honest, we think some other gun journalists have gone a bit overboard. The Hudson H9 is an innovative pistol to be sure, but honestly it wasn’t shockingly good. This Editor has shot probably 40 different 9mm pistols, including custom 9x19mm 1911s. The Hudson H9 is good, but, to be honest, my H&K P7m8 is better (in terms of muzzle flip). And HK’s P7 series pistols were designed 40 years ago!

From Russia with Low Bore Axis
If you want to get excited about a low bore axis, check out this Kalashnikov PL-14, introduced in 2015. Note the very low-profile slide, with a grip design that allows the web of the hand to be carried very high. We think this is actually a more advanced design than the Hudson H9. Still, for 1911 fans yearning for a striker-fired option, the Hudson will feel familiar, and it does seem to be well-made and sturdy.

Pistolet Kalashnikov PL-14

Pistolet Kalashnikov PL-14

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January 27th, 2017

Pint-Sized Power — the 3000 FPS 17 Win Super Mag Rimfire

17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire WSM Varminter.com

At SHOT Show 2017, we had the chance to chat extensively with Eric Mayer, head honcho of Varminter.com. An avid shooter and hunter, Eric loves small, efficient cartridges. Eric told us his current favorite rimfire cartridge is the 17 WSM. “Winchester has continued to improve this cartridge since its introduction. We are seeing very good accuracy now, and performance is impressive in the varmint fields”. Eric notes that the 3000 fps 17 WSM 20-grain ammo (photo above) delivers way more punch downrange than a typical 17 HMR load. In this article, you’ll find the highlights of Varminter.com’s review of the 17 WSM round in the Ruger 77/17 cartridge.

Ruger 77/17  17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Win Super Mag or WSM review video AccurateShooter.com

The 17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire (aka Win Super Mag or WSM) is the fastest, most potent modern rimfire round you can buy. This cartridge, which uses a modified nail gun casing, drives 20gr bullets at 3000 fps. The 17 WSM offers superior ballistics to all .22 rimfires, and is a clear step ahead of the 17 HMR. That makes this round a potential “game-changer” in the varmint fields. To gauge the capabilities of the 17 WSM, Varminter.com tested the cartridge in the new Ruger 77/17 bolt-action rifle. Click HERE for Varminter.com Ruger 77/17, 17 WSM Review.

17 WSM shoots faster than the 17 HMR, so the 20gr bullets don’t drift as much in the wind:
17 Win Super Mag Rimfire Magnum Ruger 77/18 Varminter.com review

Varminter.com reports: “The much-anticipated Ruger 77/17 chambered in the 17 Winchester Super Magnum (17WSM) has been released. Our Review Editor, William Chambers, put it through a full range test with all four currently-available ammunition loads. Afterwards, he took it on a short groundhog hunt[.] We put a lot of rounds through the guns we test, at targets, through chronographs and out in the field. This report includes all currently available 17 WSM ammunition and a sneak peek of the really nice Nikon Prostaff 5 riflescope.” READ REVIEW.

As part of its review, Varminter.com tested four different types of 17 WSM ammo for accuracy: American Eagle (20gr V-Max); Hornady (20gr V-Max), Winchester HV (20gr V-Max); Winchester HE (25gr V-Max). In the little Ruger, which suffered from a very heavy trigger, the most accurate ammo, by far, was the American Eagle, with an average 5-shot group size of 1.135 MOA at 100 yards. The Winchester HV was the worst, with a 2.304 MOA average for three, 5-shot groups. CLICK HERE for full accuracy test results.

After accuracy testing, Varminter.com Review Editor Chambers took the Ruger 77/17 on a Groundhog hunt in Northern Ohio. Chambers was successful, bagging this ‘hog’ at 127 yards. The American Eagle 17 WSM ammo did quick work — the groundhog dropped without a twitch (watch video).

Ruger 77/17  17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Win Super Mag or WSM review video AccurateShooter.com

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