Gun Digest will be producing a new quarterly print magazine, called Modern Shooter. It appears that the magazine focuses mostly on AR-platform rifles, AR accessories, and defensive shooting. The new magazine parallels the new Modern Shooter television show, which debuts on the Sportsman Channel next January. Look for Modern Shooter magazine on newsstands in April. The new magazine will also be available in digital format at www.gundigeststore.com.
Each issue of Modern Shooter will focus on a popular firearms category. For example, the premier issue explains how to maintain an AR rifle, and how to “Defend Your Castle” with an AR. This first issue features Richard Mann’s 12 training drills for AR-platform rifles, plus reviews of AR accessories: optics, sights, rails, and adjustable stocks. The premiere edition of Modern Shooter profiles Colt manufacturing, discussing the history of the company. Colt’s new LE6920MP-USA and AR15A4 rifles will be reviewed.
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Now that Lapua is making very high-quality .221 Fireball brass, those of you who own an AR may be considering a 300 AAC Blackout project. For AR shooters, the 300 Blackout (300 BLK) offers the ability to fire a heavy-weight bullet from standard AR15 magazines. When loaded to supersonic velocities with heavy bullets, this little cartridge packs more punch than a 30-30 round. Alternatively, when loaded to sub-sonic velocities, the 300 Blackout is ultra-quiet when used with a suppressor.
Writing for the CTD Shooter’s Log, CTD Mike has authored a good Beginners’ Guide to the 300 AAC Blackout. This explains the basics of this interesting cartridge, which is a .30-caliber round that works with existing AR15 magazines and upper. You can purchase 300 Blackout factory ammunition or you can load your own. The easiest way to make 300 Blackout cartridges is to neck-up Lapua .221 Fireball brass. But if you have hordes of .223 Rem brass, you can also cut those cases down and reform them into 300 Blackout. But that is much more work. With Lapua .221 Fireball brass, you lube the inside of the necks, expand, and you’re good to go.
300 Blackout vs. 6.8 SPC
AR owners who have considered a dedicated upper in 6.8 SPC, should give serious consideration to 300 Blackout instead. First, with so much .223 Rem available, you have a virtually infinite supply of parent brass. 6.8 SPC brass is not so easy to find. Second, to function optimally, the 6.8 SPC requires dedicated magazines. CTD Mike says: “6.8 SPC II and 6.5 Grendel both require specific magazines [that are] different from the Standard NATO Agreement (STANAG) AR-15 magazine. These magazines are not nearly as common … and of course cost a bit more. On top of that, you lose capacity in those calibers, down to 25 rounds instead of 30, because their casings are fatter and take up more space[.]”
The Sound of Silence — Suppressed 300 Blackout Properties
The 300 AAC Blackout is a great option if you live in a jurisdiction that allows suppressor ownership. A suppressed 300 Blackout is ultra-quiet and very reliable. CTD Mike explains: “Unlike 5.56, subsonic [1000 FPS] loadings that still cycle the AR-15 action reliably are easy to make [with] a 220 grain .308 bullet. At close range, these 220 grain rounds really thump, and the real kicker is that using an AAC suppressor with them in a 9-inch barrel brings the sound level to only 125 decibels. That’s quieter than an MP5SD shooting 9mm rounds, and much quieter than a MK23 pistol shooting .45acp rounds. You have to be there and shoot one of these rifles with a ‘can’ attached to realize that this 220 grain bullet is nearly as quiet as a silenced .22 pistol.”
AR15 Podcast Talks about 300 Blackout
If you are intrigued by the 300 AAC Blackout, you should consider listening to an hour-long AR15Podcast hosted by Reed Snyder and co-Host Anthony Hardy. In this Podcast, Reed explains how to re-barrel an AR15 for the 300 Blackout. Step by step, he explains how to remove your .223-caliber barrel and install a .30-caliber barrel chambered for the 300 Blackout. Reed lists the tools you’ll need and he also explains how to tune adjustable gas blocks for best performance with a 300 Blackout upper.
For those who are undecided about adapting their AR15s for the 300 Blackout, Reed weighs the pros and cons of having a dedicated .30 caliber in your AR arsenal. Here are some of the strong points of this interesting cartridge:
300 Blackout cartridges fit and feed in standard AR magazines.
300 Blackout rivals 7.62x39mm performance.
Brass and Bullets are readily available.
Barrel is only part that needs to be modified.
Excellent Subsonic Performance — very quiet.
.30 Caliber suppressors can be used with smaller calibers as well.
About the 300 AAC Blackout (300 BLK)
The 300 AAC Blackout cartridge shares case-head dimensions and body taper with the .223 Remington. Not only does this allow for compatibility with existing magazines and bolts, but it allows reloaders to form their own brass from cut-down 5.56×45 mm or .223 Rem cases. You can also form 300 Blackout cases by necking-up .221 Fireball brass. Take Note: Lapua has started producing .221 Fireball brass — this should be available in the USA by the end of April.
The 300 AAC Blackout is a similar concept to previous wildcats, such as the 30-221 and 300 Fireball, as well as the proprietary 300 Whisper®, except that 300 BLK was the first to be a SAAMI-approved cartridge and any company is free to make firearms or ammunition.
300 AAC Blackout is also finding use with hunters, who may not have been able to legally hunt with .223 in their state, and who prefer .30 caliber bullets for medium-sized game. It provides similar effectiveness to the 7.62×39 or the slightly more powerful .30-30 cartridges except works in the more up-to-date AR-platform rifles. Effective hunting range is about 150 yards. Some innovators, such as Dave Whitford, have also experimented with the 300 BLK for Across-the-Course competition. READ Whitford story in Rifleman’s Journal..
We’ve always liked the capacious, durable range boxes from MTM-Casegard. And now there’s a special “Tactical” version for AR shooters. This detachable-lid Tactical Range Box features a magwell-filling “action block insert” to support your AR securely during cleaning. Magwell posts like this have been used for years by AR gunsmiths. It’s a fast and convenient way to secure an AR.
The Tactical Range Box also comes with two adjustable cradles that will support most conventional bolt-action rifles and lever guns. These plastic cradles are gentle on fancy stocks, and they can be removed and stowed in the bottom of the box during transport.
The Tactical Range Box uses a two-piece design. The removable top storage compartment holds oils, solvents, brushes, patches, and small accessories. Unlatch the top box to reveal a large, deep storage area that will hold tools, earmuffs, ammo boxes and other larger items. MTM Range Boxes are big enough to hold pretty much everything you need at the range, except your front rest and rear sandbag. Midsouth Shooters Supply offers the MTM Tactical Range Box (item 008-TRB40) for just $39.85. Like MTM’s standard Shooting Range Box, the Tactical Range Box is well-built and much less flexy than generic plastic tool-boxes. Check out the features of this range box in the video below.
For more info, contact MTM® Molded Products at (937) 890-7461 or visit MTMCase-gard.com.
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Accurate, modular, and supremely versatile, the AR15 is America’s favorite semi-auto rifle. But let’s face it, the AR is a maintenance hog. The AR’s gas tube blows carbon and soot right into the middle of the bolt assembly where it cakes on to the metal. The AR bolt also has many tiny parts, and small recesses, which must be cleaned regularly. This author has seen numerous ARs fail simply because there was gunk (dried lube, carbon, brass shavings) in the ejector slot or extractor spring recess.
A Clean AR is a Happy AR — Whether You Run ‘Wet’ or ‘Dry’
There are various schools of thought when it comes to maintaining an AR. Some folks prefer to run their AR “dry” with minimal lube on the lugs and friction surfaces. Other shooters prefer to run their ARs “wet”, with lots of lube. But whatever your preference, you need to clean your AR regularly. And nothing is more important than the AR’s bolt/carrier assembly. Because it is involved in feeding, firing, and extracting, the AR-15 bolt/carrier assembly can be considered the most critical portion of the AR-15 from a maintenance standpoint.
Bolt Take-Down Guide on Top Quark Blog
The editor of the Top Quark Blog has created an excellent illustrated AR15 Bolt Take-Down Guide that shows how to disassemble an AR15 bolt and carrier for regular cleaning. Even if you’re an experienced AR15 shooter, you can learn something from this page (sample at right), and you may want to bookmark it for future reference. The photos are large and clear and there are helpful hints for each step of the process.
The author knows his stuff and offers some important insights. For example, he notes that “Extractor springs in most AR15 bolt assemblies are fairly weak, and this can lead to various extraction-related failures. One of the few high points about Colt assemblies is their usage of higher-strength extractor springs. You can tell the difference by looking at the inner plastic insert. ‘Normal’ springs feature a blue plastic insert, Colt strong springs have a black insert.”
There is one notable oversight on this page — the author doesn’t cover disassembly and cleaning of the ejector assembly. This is actually quite important. A few small brass shavings, combined with carbon and lube in the ejector slot, WILL cause malfunctions. In fact, when this editor is called to diagnose problem ARs, the first things I look at (after swapping magazines) are the ejector recess and the slot for the extractor. Clogged ejectors are responsible for fail-to-ejects and other jams. It is essential that you keep the ejector hole clean. Old, gooey lube residues mixed with carbon and tiny brass shavings in the ejector recess will create all sorts of problems. As shown in the diagram below, it is simple to remove the ejector (#6) and ejector spring (#5), by drifting the ejector retaining pin (#4).
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It’s a rare thing when you can talk with a living legend about the sport he loves. We had just that opportunity yesterday at SHOT Show when we chatted with Carl Bernosky, TEN-TIME National High Power Champion. We covered a lot of ground in the interview, discussing the future of the High Power game and the changes in hardware Carl has seen during his storied career. Carl also offers some “rock solid” advice for younger High Power shooters hoping to improve their skill sets. We also talked about Carl’s plans for 2014 and his epic battle with SSG Brandon Green at the 2013 High Power Championships at Camp Perry. Carl and Brandon battled to the last shot of the last relay of the last day. After four complete days of shooting, the two men remained tied on points and tied on X-count. Apply a tie-breaker rule based on X-count at long-range, Green was named the 2013 Champion, with Carl named runner-up. That 2013 event was a true “Battle of the Titans” between two immensely talented marksmen.
We asked Carl about trends in the High Power game. He said that more and more shooters are moving to the AR15 platform. The accuracy is there, and there are advantages to the self-loading actions particularly during rapid-fire. Carl also felt that it takes more training time to master cycling a bolt while shooting in the standing position. Because he does not have to manipulate a bolt, Carl says his self-feeding AR helps him when standing (Carl is considered one of the best standing shooters ever).
Watch Interview with Carl Bernosky, 10-Time National High Power Champion
Though most readers will recognize Carl from reports of his many National Championships, you may not realize that Carl is also a very skilled stock-maker. Carl produces high quality laminated-wood stocks at his shop in Pennsylvania. He offers a full range of stocks for Prone, Palma, F-TR, F-Open, Long Range Benchrest competition, and he also builds fine tactical stocks and hunting stocks. You can see examples of Carl’s stocks at CarlBernosky.com. Carl recently acquired a CNC machine for inletting. This can create ultra-precise inlets for a wide variety of actions.
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If you can’t get enough info on ARs, check this out. The folks who brought you the Firearms Guide, have released a new, comprehensive resource for AR-Platform rifles — of all calibers and configurations. The new AR Rifles Digital Guide presents over 1,300 semi-auto and full-auto AR-style rifles from 65 manufacturers worldwide. AR rifles in calibers from .22 LR to .458 SOCOM are covered with technical specifications, features, prices, and up to 12 high-rez, zoomable pictures for each model. This new DVD also contains a schematics library with printable and zoomable exploded views and parts lists. This is great for gunsmiths and guys working on AR projects.
This $15.99 AR resource DVD has thousands of pages of content, all easily searchable with ten different search criteria including: caliber, price, manufacturer, gun finish, barrel type, country, and more. The DVD’s search engine lets you quickly find AR rifle models, schematics, parts lists, and other information. In addition, the AR Digital Guide features a comprehensive ammo database. Choose a cartridge type and caliber. Then, with just one click, you can access information on bullet styles, bullet weights, features and ballistics of all the currently available ammunition in that chambering.
Easy to Buy, Easy to Run
You can order the AR Rifles Digital Guide DVD directly from FirearmsGuide.com for just $15.99. DVDs start shipping on December 19th — just in time for Christmas. This unique AR Rifles DVD works on Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8. Just drop the DVD in your CD/DVD drive, and it starts automatically — no software installation is required.
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For many cartridge types, Hornady Superformance ammunition provides enhanced velocity compared to some other types of factory-loaded ammo. However, Hornady has found that there may be issues when Superformance ammo is shot in gas-operated guns with barrels under 20″, or with barrels fitted with suppressors. This is because the gas returning from the barrel port may cause the bolt to begin unlocking prematurely. Hornady has published the following information concerning the uses of Superformance ammo in direct impingment and gas piston self-loading rifles.
Internal Ballistics of Superformance Ammo in Semi-Auto Guns
Superformance™ ammunition is tested and is safely within SAAMI pressure guidelines. Gas operated (direct impingement or gas piston) firearms are perfectly safe to use with Superformance ammunition. However, Hornady ballisticians have conducted testing with a variety of guns (including guns equipped with suppressors), and our findings conclude that some systems work far better with Superformance ammunition than others.
It is recommended that to get the best functioning with Superformance ammunition in gas operated/gas piston semi-automatic or select fire guns, rifle length gas systems with 20 inch or longer barrel lengths are best for reliable firing and extraction. Any other configuration — particularly shorter barrels/gas systems — are best served with the installation of an adjustable gas system, ESPECIALLY if a suppressor is to be installed.
Due to the longer duration of peak pressure produced by Superformance, the post peak/declining port pressure at common carbine and mid-length gas port locations is still higher than that produced by standard propellant. This has a tendency to flood the system with a larger volume of gas, at a higher velocity, that tries to open the bolt of the gun too fast. It’s a timing issue. The cartridge case is still swollen from the application of pressure during firing while the gun is simultaneously trying to extract the cartridge case before it has had an opportunity to settle back to its original size, or more simply: the gun is still in the process or firing while it’s trying to extract the cartridge case.
If the firearm and the ammunition are not in sync, there can be what is commonly identified as “pressure signs” on the cartridge case. This is exhibited by the movement/marring of the head of the cartridge case, cratered primers, flat primers, ripped or ruptured cartridge cases, “popped primers”, and/or any combination of these effects. If any of these “pressure signs”; are apparent, stop firing immediately. If an adjustable gas system is installed, it is advisable to reduce the amount of gas flowing through the system by closing the gas port until the gun operates correctly.
With the installation of an adjustable gas system, gas pressure can be metered to a point that enough gas is applied to open the bolt, but at a slower rate to allow the cartridge case to return to its original diameter prior to the movement of the bolt, and thus allow for proper extraction.
Pressure VS Gas Port Location
Due to the longer duration of peak pressure produced by Superformance™, the post peak/declining pressure at common carbine and mid-length gas port locations is still higher than that produced by standard propellant. However, there is very little difference in port pressure between Superformance™ and standard propellants at the rifle length port location.
Superformance and Suppressors
The use of suppressors on rifles creates yet another dynamic in firearms design that is not commonly understood or communicated. Consider the suppressor on a firearm the same as a muffler on a car. The suppressor works as a filter for the gas (noise) that is escaping the barrel during firing. As a “filter”, it takes longer for the gas to leave the confines of the firearm, and thus, it creates back pressure. This back pressure, ESPECIALLY in a gas operated firearm forces an extensive amount of gas back through the firearm’s operating system that may create too much thrust too early during the firearm’s cycle of operation.
To counteract this back pressure, the use of an adjustable gas system is advised. By metering the gas system to ensure that it will cycle the firearm correctly and not flood the system with gas/pressure, the gun will work properly and will still benefit dramatically from the increased velocity potential of Superformance ammunition.
AR-platform rifles are fun to shoot, but .223 Rem centerfire ammo can get expensive if you put a lot of rounds downrange. Dedicated .22 LR uppers let you do live-fire training with more affordable rimfire ammo while retaining the weight, balance, and feel of your AR-platform rifle. You use your regular lower, so the ergonomics and grip feel the same. Likewise, the trigger group is the same, so you don’t need to adapt to a different trigger pull. With these .22 LR upper conversions you can shoot reactive targets at relatively close range, with less noise and recoil. (But remember that rimfire bullets can ricochet, so always shoot at a safe distance and always wear eye and ear protection).
Dedicated .22 LR Rimfire Uppers for AR-Platform Rifles
A number of companies offer dedicated .22 LR rimfire uppers that work with any standard AR15-platform lower. Brownells carries dedicated .22 LR AR uppers starting at $419.99. Brownells offers flat-top AR uppers, allowing you to easily mount the aiming system (iron sights or optics) of your choice. Brownells offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all products it sells, including .22 LR uppers.
AR-Style .22LR Rimfire Rifles (Complete Guns)
Another option is to purchase a complete AR-style rimfire rifle chambered for the .22 LR cartridge. This option may be more affordable than you think. Right now Impact Guns is selling the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 with 16″ barrel for just $509.99 (marked down from $649.99). It’s a nice little rifle. The M&P 15-22 is designed and built as a true .22 LR semi-auto from the ground up, with ergonomics (and most operating controls) identical to a centerfire M&P 15 rifle. Here’s the black and tan version:
H&K offers the HK 416 D145RS, a dedicated .22 LR rimfire rifle. Engineered and built in Germany by Carl Walther, the HK 416 D145RS features a match-grade precision barrel, metal upper and lower receivers, retractable stock, and machined rail interface system with on-rail iron sights. These HK rimfire rifles (which employ a blow-back action) are accurate and reliable. Current ‘street price’ is around $660.00. One purchaser writes: “Great .22. I have had this gun a couple of months and have put about 500 rounds of 5 different brands of ammo through it. Not one FTE. I have shot other brands that can’t get through one 30-round mag without a failure. [The 416] is a little pricey compared to the competition but you get what you pay for.”
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There’s a new gun game focusing on defensive rifle skills — the NRA National Defense Matches (NDM). Think of this as IDPA with ARs. The inaugural NRA National Defense Matches will be held October 12-13, 2013 at Peacemaker National Training Center, in Gerrardstown, West Virginia.
NDM programs are designed for all skill levels, with the goal of developing and exercising defensive rifle skills. There are three types of NDM matches. First, the basic-level match allows novices to shoot from a variety of positions at relatively close ranges out to 100 yards. Competitors will engage targets from standing, kneeling, prone, and ‘roll-over’ prone positions (to simulate actual defensive situations). Next is the advanced-level NDM. This type of match is held on multiple bays with targets placed at seven to 50 yards. Shooters must move quickly from one firing point to the next. The championship-level, open-terrain NDM, calls for shooters to maneuver through undulating forested terrain, engaging targets from difficult firing positions, at distances out to 500 yards. All NDM matches are conducted according to established general parameters, but the actual courses of fire can be adapted to the features of particular ranges, to suit the terrain and range lay-out. Watch the video to see how NDM matches are conducted.
National Defense Match Demonstration Video (Warning: Very Loud — turn speakers down.)
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Compared to bolt-action rifles, direct gas impingement AR-platform rifles tend to be filthy, maintenance-intensive beasts, requiring regular disassembly and cleaning of the innards. Op-rod style AR variants run cleaner and cooler, but they still require regular maintenance. Now there is a versatile, compact multi-tool that performs a variety of critical servicing/maintenance tasks for AR-platform rifles.
Weighing just 6 ounces, the new D-CAT from Space Age Weaponry fits in the storage compartment of a standard AR-15 fixed butt stock. Brownells says the D-CAT (“Deployable Compact Armorer’s Tool”) is the “only tool necessary to assemble the AR-15/M16 from component parts, or perform a complete disassembly”. The video below explains the feature and functions of the $149.99D-CAT.
The D-CAT is made from quality materials: 6061-T6 Aircraft Aluminum, 303 Stainless steel, and H13 Tool Steel. Bits, punches, and other small parts are located in the tool magazine, within the torque handle. Simply rotate the magazine gate to expose the individual compartments. Within the magazine you will find a 1/8″ punch, a flat blade driver, front sight adjustment tool, and a 3/16″ and 9/64″ hex driver. There is also a spare punch pocket and a Hammer/Trigger pin pocket. This is also the mode in which the D-CAT is used as a screwdriver. The driver makes use of a standard ¼” hex well so the tool can be augmented to serve as a general purpose driver for any bit you choose to carry.
Tool Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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TECH TIP by Robert Whitley,AR-X Enterprises LLC
Over the years, while working with various AR-15 cartridges that require a larger bolt-face bolt (i.e. bigger than a 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem bolt-face, like those cartridges that use a 6.8 SPC bolt or the bolt face suitable for the 6.5 Grendel-based cartridges), I have found that there is an increased potential for a certain type of jam if a modification to the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged ejector is not made.
The original AR-15 square-edged ejector design was made for a much smaller-diameter bolt face and the smaller diameter 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem case, and it works perfectly in that application. However, as people have adapted the AR-15 platform to shoot bigger cartridges, some parts have been modified to accept the larger cartridges (i.e. bigger bolt-face bolts for the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel, and different extractors), yet other parts have been all but ignored. One of these “ignored” parts has been the ejector. Most of the larger-bolt-face AR-15 bolts still use the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. ejector. That’s the problem. But there is a simple, reliable fix!
Chamfering AR Ejector for Improved Reliablity with 6mm, 6.5mm and 6.8mm Cartridges
With the larger bolt face and the larger-diameter AR cases, the old-style “Mil-Spec” ejector can cause infrequent but still annoying jams if the ejector is not modified. The jam can occur when a cartridge case feeds up and out of the right side of the magazine, and as it does so, the back of the case must slide across the bolt face and sideways over top of the ejector if it is to center up to the chamber and feed in. If the side of the case catches on the sharp-edged ejector you can get a jam. (See picture above).
Fortunately there is an easy fix for this. One way is to take the ejector out and spin it in a lathe or cordless drill and machine or grind it and round or chamfer the sharp edge. (See picture of rounded ejector next to square edged ejector).
Quick Fix Alternative — Bevel Your Ejector
Another “quick fix” is to leave the ejector in the bolt and chamfer the sharp edge with something like a Dremel tool. (See picture). This fix is easy to do and permanently resolves this potential feeding jam issue. There are no downsides to this modification if done right and I would recommend this modification for the ejectors in all larger bolt-face AR-15 bolts.
This gunsmithing tip provided by Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises LLC, 199 North Broad Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Phone: (215) 348-8789. Website: 6mmAR.com.
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Just a “heads-up” for our AR shooters out there. Check this out. For a limited time, Brownells is selling
Magpul 30-Round Polymer AR mags for just $10.79 each. That’s right — high-quality Magpul PMAG 30s for under eleven bucks. Hard to beat that deal if you are looking for name-brand 30-rounders for your .223/5.56 AR-platform rifle. Click image below to see product info on the Brownells webstore.
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