At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
The RCBS Rock Chucker remains a classic — a big, strong, versatile press that can handle most reloading chores with ease. And now you can get a genuine Rock Chucker Supreme for $126.99 — a very good deal. The Rock Chucker offers plenty of leverage for case-sizing and the “O” is tall enough for long cartridges. The Rock Chucker has a very strong base and should last a lifetime. We’re not fans of the Rock Chucker’s priming system but most serious reloaders use a separate priming tool.
2. Midsouth — 17 HMR V-Max Ammo, $10.45 for 50 rds
Need 17 HMR ammo for your varmint safaris? Then grab this Hornady V-Max ammo while you can at $10.45 for a 50-round box. This is a great price. Other vendors are selling the same Hornady ammo for as much as $15.00 per box. We’ve used this ammo and it was very accurate out of both semi-auto (Savage A17) and bolt-action (CZ 455) 17 HMR rifles.
3. Aero Precision — Upper and Lower Stripped Receivers, $189.99
If you want to build your own AR for varminting, self-defense, or competition, here is a great value for the basics. Right now Aero Precision is offering a combo set of AR15 Stripped Upper Receiver PLUS AR15 Gen 2 Stripped Lower Receiver all for $189.99 with free shipping. The upper and lower are both machined from from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings and have a tough, Cerakote finish. This upper/lower set features 0.250″ takedown pin holes and M4-style feedramps. Both upper and lower take standard AR15 components so you can choose from a wide selection of trigger groups.
The Jewell trigger is still probably the most commonly-used trigger in benchrest competition. Right now at Grafs.com you can get a Remington 700-compatible Jewell benchrest trigger for $179.99 — that’s $20.00 of the regular price. This single-stage trigger adjusts from 1 ounce to 3 ounces pull-weight, and has a crisp, precise release. This will fit Rem 700 actions as well as Rem-compatible custom actions. This trigger does NOT have a safety and it is NOT recommended for hunting applications. (Sale tip from EdLongrange.)
5. Cabelas — Howa 1500 Mini-Action in .223 Rem, $349.99
Here’s a good deal on a great little rifle. Right now at Cabela’s you can get the Howa 1500 Mini-Action in .223 Rem for just $349.99. That’s a bargain — other vendors are charging $500.00 or more for this rifle. The Howa 1500 Mini Action is nearly an inch shorter than a Rem 700 short action, making for a nice, compact carry-around varminter. Your Editor checked out the Howa Mini Action Rifle at SHOT Show. The bolt opens and closes VERY smoothly (way better than most mass-produced bolt guns). The two-stage HACT trigger is excellent — it’s plenty light, with a crisp release and no annoying spring-loaded blade in the middle.
If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with three inner diameters to fit scopes with 1″, 30mm, or 34mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $11.99 while the 30mm model is $13.95 and the large 34mm version is $15.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.
7. Eabco.com — Pillar-Bedded Laminated Stock for Savage
For a Savage-based general purpose rifle, this Laminated Thumbhole Savage Stock is a good choice, and a fine value at just $175.00 including installed pillars. (Most bargain-priced laminated stocks do NOT include pillars). This stock fits Savage actions with detachable magazines. There are four color options: Camo laminate (shown in photo), Brown Laminate, Gray Laminate, and walnut color.
8. RCBS — Buy Green, Get Green Rebate
RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.
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Many of our readers have never had a chance to shoot much past 600 yards. How far away does a 1000-yard+ target really seem to the naked eye? Well this short video answers that question. Gorilla Ammo, the video’s producers, used a camera-carrying aerial drone to fly downrange from the firing line all the way out to 1122 yards (and back again). Watch the drone footage at 0:00-0:07 and especially 0:48-1:03. The “bird’s-eye view” really gives you a sense of the distance. The “fly-back” at 0:48-1:03 time-mark is what makes this video worth watching.
The video features prone shooting at steel targets placed at 750 and 1122 yards. We do apologize for the lame, “oh so serious” voice-over which attempts to make this rather ordinary range session seem like some kind of life-changing experience. (Frankly, you may just want to turn the sound off — it’s that annoying.) It’s really not that big a deal to hit steel at 750 yards with a quality AR-15, chambered in .223 Rem, shooting Sierra 77 grain MatchKings.
Hitting Steel at 1122 Yards with 2540 FPS Ammo Can Be Challenging
The 1122-yard hits are a bit more impressive. Gorilla Ammo lists a relatively sedate 2540 fps Muzzle Velocity for its .223 Rem 77gr SMK ammunition. According to JBM Ballistics, at 1125 yards, that 2540 fps load has 68.3 MOA of drop from a 100-yard zero (firing at sea level and 80° F ambient). Morever the bullet goes trans-sonic around 750 yards (losing stability) and is traveling just 933 fps at impact. And the wind’s the killer — at 1125 yards, with this bullet/load, a mere 2 mph, full-value wind change can move the Point of Impact over three feet!
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This summer, our friend Dennis Santiago made his first-ever pilgrimage to Camp Perry, Ohio to compete in the National Matches. He recounts his experience in a fascinating, informative, and often humorous story on his Dennis Talks Guns Blog. When you have a few moments to spare, you should definitely read Santiago’s account of his First Time at Camp Perry. This is much, much more than a match report. Dennis gives insights into the human side of the experience — and the little things that make Camp Perry so special. CLICK HERE to Read Full Camp Perry Story.
Dennis competed in a number of events during his two-week stay. Shooting “classic” service rifle and his new scoped, “modern AR” service rifle Dennis competed solo (in Presidents 100 and NTI matches among others) and also as a member of the California Adult Team in the 4-man NTT match.
Santiago’s First Time at Camp Perry report is a “must-read” for anyone contemplating a Camp Perry visit. Here are some highlights — but honestly folks, do read the entire story — it’s well worth it.
First Time at Camp Perry, by Dennis Santiago
Perry Ain’t Like Home
Iron Sights and “Perry-Vision”
This range is kicking me hard. I tell people about how hard I was pushing my eye into my aperture. They smile that “welcome to Camp Perry” smile again. They ask what sights I’m shooting on my A2 and I tell them I’ve got an 0.050″ front and 0.038″ rear to maximize depth of field. They smile more broadly and tell me my problem is that I’m from the Western provinces where the sun is bright and the ground is devoid of flora. Lots of light. It’s green here and we have clouds I’m told. Not nearly the same ambient lighting. You have the wrong sights my son. Where the green grass grows you want a big fat 0.072″ front the size of an aircraft carrier deck and a huge 0.046″ hole in the morning and maybe close it down to an 0.042″ rear aperture later if the sun comes out. But that desert glare sight system of yours will lose you about 5-8 points in these parts. Well there you go. Learn something every day.
Baptism at Camp Perry
One’s first visit to Camp Perry is a series of baptismal rites. I shall now enumerate them…
Walk the Base. Do not drive around. Get used to walking. Walk from your hut to everything. Walk to the administration buildings. Walk to the ranges. Walk to commercial row. Walk to the CMP North Store. Walk to the CMP or Army trailer to have the triggers of your rifles(s) weighed. Walk. This is your primary mode of transportation while on base for the next couple of weeks.
Go Shopping. It’s called Commercial Row. It is the best shopping mall for competitive shooters ever. The sale prices here are Black Friday quality. You stock up on supplies. You can buy elusive powders in quantity with the same lot number. Same with bullets and primers. Everything you need to keep making your pet loads. Oddly, not cases. This is a service rifle tournament. Pretty much everyone is using LC or WCC cases. I stocked up. Then I began politely watching my expected cubic feet and gross weight capacity for the drive home as other people asked if I could take stuff back for them instead of shipping their loot.
Learn about the Perils of Perry. One, evacuate the range. It rains at Camp Perry. Sometimes that rain comes with lightning. When that happens range controls issues an evacuation order. Depending on where you are and how much time you have, you either grab your stuff and make for a sheltered structure or leave your stuff under whatever rain cover you have and leave it there until the storm cell passes. This happened on squadded practice day. There was no squadded practice. There was learning to make a better rain cover for the next two weeks because it’d probably happened again. I was particularly proud of my final design which involved a very large tarp and many bungee cords. Modern art to be sure. I received many compliments.
Peril Two — Cease fire, boat in the impact area. One has not truly been to Camp Perry until your shooting string is put on hold while range control sends someone out to tell an errant yacht or jet ski that it’s not a good idea to go into that area with all the buoys with the signs on them that say, Danger. Live Fire. Keep Out.
I brought two rifles with me to Camp Perry. The first was my iron sights-configured AR-15. Being my very first trip to the Nationals, I wanted to check off a bucket list item to shoot irons at a National Match. The gun has a Geiselle trigger and an upper I assembled from White Oak Armament parts. The barrel is a Krieger that had 3,800 rounds arriving at Perry. The sights are pinned 1/4×1/4s. I run Sierra 77gr SMKs short line and 80gr SMKs seated .015″ off the lands Long Line with it.
The other rifle I brought was for NRA week. It’s a 2016 Rule Service Rifle, Optic. It has a collapsible UBR stock and a Geiselle Mk VII quad rail. The barrel is an older DPMS .223 that was cryo-treated back in the day. Round count on arrival at Nationals was around 1,800. Same ammunition combination [as the iron sights rifle]. The chamber on this barrel has a shorter throat so I brought a Lee Hand Press with an RCBS competition seater die to set the 80gr SMKs back to proper jump for NRA week. The sighting system for this gun was one of the very new Nightforce 4.5X Competition SR’s with the CMP R223 reticle. Parallax is set to 200 yards. It’s mounted using Nightforce’s superbly engineered AR-15 service rifle Unimount.
Members of the State of California Teams at Camp Perry. Dennis is front row left.
Coaching — When It All Comes Together, at Last
I coached one of the California teams in the NTIT Rattle Battle match. This was the day I finally began to be comfortable at Camp Perry. Walking up and down the field, first as a verifier and then as a coach, I felt back in the game. At team matches you get to confer with your teammates comparing wind calls and observing the effects of their calls as the shooting members of their squads send rounds downrange. You watch the traces of bullets arcing in the air going left or right of the bull’s center depending whether or not the call was right. This process was cathartic. I began to remember that I really can read a range once I get the hang of it.
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The rear stock and grip (shown above) come from the commercial LUCID AR Stock Kit. But Forum member Brian V. custom-made this one-piece walnut forearm.
Forum member Brian V. (aka “Carbide”) wanted a new look for his “modern sporting rifle”. He was tired of looking at black plastic (or FDE, OD green) and aluminum components on his AR15. So he decided to fit wood “furniture” on the rifle. He ordered a wood butt-stock and fore-arm set made by Lucid, but he didn’t like the two-piece fore-arm of the Lucid stock set. He decided he could build something better than the commercially-available, Lucid-made wood fore-arm.
Lathe-Turned Custom Walnut Sleeve in Front
So Brian took his existing AR tubular fore-arm and epoxied a walnut sleeve to it. With a lathe, Brian then turned the walnut sleeve to his desired dimensions: 2.250″ diameter in back and 2.200″ diameter in front, so there’s a little taper. Brian says “I could have gone a little thinner.” The wood fore-end was then sanded and stained to match the Lucid-made rear section. Brian says “the stain is not quite a perfect match, but but it looks a lot better.”
Does Brian like his new wood-stocked AR? Absolutely. He says the conversion makes the gun more user-friendly: “The wood is warmer to carry in winter and quieter.” He adds that the wood sleeve added about four ounces of weight to the fore-end, but that did not affect the handling.
We think this is a good “do-it-yourself” project that could be done by many of our readers. You can simply install the Lucid stock set or customize the front end like Brian did. Either way, you end up with a good-looking rifle that feels better in your hands.
Establishing zero at 300 yards. Dennis says: “Wow you can really drive that crosshair into the center of the bull with ease” with the 4.5X optic.
Dennis Santiago recently received the all-new Nightforce Competition SR Fixed 4.5x24mm Service Rifle scope. He will be using this at Camp Perry soon, so he needed to get zeros (and click values) for all his yardages. Off he headed to the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club (BRRC) for a Zero Session.
After establishing a 100-yard, base-line zero from the bench, Dennis put on his sling and jacket to work out to 200, 300, and 600 yards. When shooting at 200, Dennis said: “The target is huge in that 4.5X scope. Fun to drive. Next stop NRA Week at Camp Perry!”
Above you can see Dennis working up two elevation zeroes for 600 yards. First he fired a center hold using the crosshair inside the circle to “pie” the bull. Next, he shot with a 12 o’clock hold using the lower leg of the crosshair to bisect the target. You can see the target at 600 yards in the top right of the photo.
Zeroing Task accomplished, Dennis is ready to take this rifle to Camp Perry for the National Championships. He says: “In the end, it’s always about your handy-dandy notebook.”
New 2016 CMP/NRA Rules Allow 4.5X Optics
Dennis Santiago explains the Service Rifle rule changes that now allow scopes up to 4.5X max magnification (and max 34mm objective):
“Per the 2016 Rulebooks of the CMP and NRA, today’s Service Rifle is now defined to include an M-16/AR-15 variant with an optical sighting system not to exceed 4.5X magnification. So, this optic-equipped rifle goes head-to-head with the match-tuned M-16A2/AR-15A2 iron sight guns in the same class. The rules were updated to take into account that some military branches no longer train service members to shoot iron sights as their primary marksmanship method and have switched to reliance combat optics. The rules were debated and tried in 2015 and codified at the beginning of this year. This will be the first Nationals where the old and new generation guns compete side-by-side.
Here is my personal prediction: There will be improved scores by Expert class shooters who figure out how to work with optics jumping into Master class. At the High Master level, there may be a slight rise in numerical scores but there will be a massive jump in X-Count. EICs will remain the all-out race they’ve always been; whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the day.”
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California Governor Jerry Brown just departed for a luxurious European vacation. But before he left the state, he savaged the Second Amendment rights of millions of California gun owners. Less than 24 hours after they arrived on his desk, Brown signed six anti-gun bills railroaded through the Democratic-controlled California Legislature. Among the bills signed by Brown was SB 1446 which will require Californians to forfeit, destroy, or ship out of the state ALL firearms magazines that can hold more than ten rounds. Owners of legally-obtained magazines, previously “grandfathered”, will receive no compensation though they must give up their property. Those who fail to comply will be fined and charged with an infraction, a low-level crime. This magazine restriction goes into effect July 1, 2017.
Gov. Brown also signed SB 1235 which will require background checks for the purchase of any and all ammunition. Ammo buyers’ names and personal information will be logged and tracked in a database.
Notice from NSSF RE California Legislation
The NSSF issued this statement: “The National Shooting Sports Foundation is extremely disappointed that Gov. Brown today chose to sign into law these highly restrictive and unneeded gun control measures, all of which will affect law-abiding Californians while doing nothing to stop the criminal misuse of firearms. By acting within 24 hours after being sent these bills, and not allowing the public to voice their opinions in order to depart for his European vacation, the governor compounded the miscarriage of legislative process and procedure while demonstrating disdain for Californians who now face laws that clearly infringe on their Constitutional rights.”
Gov. Brown SIGNED the following bills into law:
AB 1135 (Levine) and SB 880 (Hall) Firearms: Assault Weapons – Expands the definition of assault weapons based on whether a semiautomatic firearm has a detachable magazine, banning thousands of popular firearms.
SB 1235 (de Leon) Ammunition – Requires authorization to purchase ammunition and track what and how much ammunition each person buys, creating a database of ammunition purchasers.
SB 1446 (Hancock) Firearms: Magazine Capacity – Makes it illegal to possess magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds no matter how long a person has owned them.
AB 1511 (Santiago) Firearms: Lending – Makes it illegal to loan a firearm to a person who is personally known to you (except for family members with restrictions).
AB 1695 (Bonta) Firearms: False Reports – Creates a 10-year prohibition on owning firearms for someone convicted of falsely reporting a lost or stolen firearm.
Gov. Brown VETOED the following bills:
SB 894 (Jackson) Firearms: Lost or Stolen: reports – Would have made it a crime not to report lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement within the arbitrary time limit.
AB 1673 (Gipson) Firearms: Unfinished frame or receiver – Would have expanded the definition of a firearm to include partially finished frames and receivers (no definition of what this means) and require their registration.
AB 1674 (Santiago) Firearms: Transfers – Would have made it illegal to buy or receive more than one firearm in any 30-day period.
If you wish to Contact Gov. Brown’s office to voice your concern about his signing of six anti-gun measures, here is the contact information:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could adjust the bolt cycling energy on your AR-platform rifle? Turn down the cycling rate for slow fire at the bench or varmint hunting. Crank up the energy for 3-Gun matches and rapid-fire disciplines. This IS possible with a handy accessory that fits on your barrel. Wilson Combat offers an Adjustable Lo-Profile AR Gas Block for direct gas impingement AR-type rifles. Wilson Combat’s adjustable gas block replaces a standard AR gas block and allows you to tune your AR’s gas system for smoother cycling and enhanced reliability. Wilson Combat explains: “Adjusting your rifle’s gas port will lower or increase your bolt’s cyclic rate. This tailors your rifle’s performance to your unique needs.”
A simple adjustment of the hex screw at the front of the block modulates the gas volume allowing you to tune your rifle’s function to your favorite loads. This is very handy when shooting non-standard AR calibers, unusual hand-loads, or suppressed rifles. Adjustable Gas Block systems are sold as complete kits starting at $74.95. Wilson Combat offers two diameters (.750″, .937″) and three lengths (Carbine Length, Mid-Length, & Rifle Length), so you can select the right dimensions for your rifle configuration and barrel diameter. The blocks are Chromoly steel with a Melonited finish.
Adjustable Gas Block (Melonite Finish)
Adjustment Set Screw (Installed)
Straight Gas Tube (Installed, Gas Tube Pin Installed)
12″-Long Allen Wrench to Adjust Inside Handguard
$74.95 – $79.95
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For sheer versatility, it is hard to beat the AR-15 platform. An AR can function in a multitude of roles — defending your home, hunting varmints, or competing in Service Rifle or High Power matches. If you’re planning a new AR project, it all starts with the lower. That’s the part that carries the serial number and is logged into the books of your FFL. Once you’ve got your lower, then the fun begins — you choose all the other components: trigger group, stock, handguards, and upper.
Right now, Brownells is running a great deal on stripped lower receivers. You can get an Aero Precision Stripped Lower for just $59.99. It’s hard to beat that price. Aero Precision is a good manufacturer that makes durable and dimensionally-correct lowers. And these lowers are backed by Brownells’ 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Aero Precision Lower Receiver Features
This small pin, mil-spec lower receiver is precision-machined from a 7075 T6 aluminum forging. This versatile lower can be the foundation for rifle builds on 5.56/.223, 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 300 AAC Blackout, 9mm Luger, or other chamberings. Holes, inletting and pin locations have been cut to final dimensions and accept standard AR-15 magazines and components. The safe/fire switch position indicators are stamped on the receiver. FFL required for purchase.
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By Dennis Santiago
It’s called the “Rattle Battle” or more formally, the National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) at the U.S. National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. It requires practice. It takes teamwork. To optimize one’s Rattle Battle practice in California you need a pre-ban AR-15 properly CA DOJ registered [that’s California law] service rifle — something that civilians in California are now banned from acquiring (along with high-capacity magazines). Glad I have my 1989 Roberti-Roos era registered rifle because I do want to represent my state as well as I can at the Nationals. It’s legal to insert a 30-round magazine into this CA-registered rifle.
This is a practice drill shooting 29 rounds in 50 seconds. Hyperventilate, shoot multiple rounds per breath, put them all into the silhouette target. This was slow. I need to build speed to create time to make one or two sight corrections on command in the middle of the string. Practice makes perfect. As they say: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.”
The CMP’s National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) has been a staple at the National Matches since 1922. Also known as the “Rattle Battle,” the event is one of the most unique in the competitive rifling world — scoring is based on how many hits six-person teams can score on a bank of targets during a series of 50-second firing periods at four yardages.
Teams begin the NTIT match with 384 rounds of ammunition, which they fire upon eight silhouette targets from 600, 500, 300, and 200 yards during successive 50-second periods. After each rapid-fire string, team members move forward (to the next-closest distance) carrying all equipment from firing line to firing line. The match emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire and good communication among teammates. The Rattle Battle is always an exciting competition for spectators to watch.
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We like AR-style .22LR rigs for Rimfire Tactical Matches and 3-Gun cross-training. With an AR-style rimfire rifle you can train with low-cost ammunition while enjoying the same ergonomics, controls, and sighting systems found on your centerfire ARs.
Smith & Wesson has upgraded its M&P 15-22, a fun rifle that we’ve praised in the past. The new M&P 15-22 Sport MOE SL model (Magpul Original Equipment Slim Line) features a more comfortable handguard, an improved grip, and an adjustable Magpul buttstock. The dedicated .22 LR M&P rifle retains the look and features of the company’s popular M&P rifle line, with the enhanced ergonomics of Magpul furniture. Click HERE for Spec Sheet.
In our Shooters’ Forum, one member recently asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very comprehensive answer to this question, based on his experience building and testing dozens of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.
Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important
by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).
Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.
1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.
2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.
3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).
4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.
5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.
6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.
7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).
8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.
9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.
10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.
11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.
12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.
13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.
14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.
Geissele Automatics manufactures a line of two-stage triggers favored by top Service Rifle, High Power, and 3-Gun shooters. Geissele now offers a variety of trigger models for both large-pin and small-pin lowers, with pull weights from 1.8 lbs to 6.0 lbs. You select the Geissele trigger with the appropriate first and second stage pull for your discipline (refer to chart below for trigger model specs).
Video Shows Geiselle Trigger Installation in AR15
Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has crafted a video showing how to install a Geissele National Match Trigger in an AR15. This video covers installation of the trigger assembly, the trigger guard, the safety selector lever assembly, and the pistol grip.
AR15 Trigger Installation Video
Follow-Up Video for AR10 Trigger Install
Gavin recently released a follow-up video which covers the installation of a Geissele Super Dynamic Trigger in an AR10. The procedure is mostly the same as for the AR15, but this video also covers removal of the AR10 factory trigger, so it’s worth watching. You may want to turn the volume down on your computer’s speakers before playback. CLICK HERE for Geissele Trigger Instruction Manual
AR10 Geissele Trigger Installation
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The latest digital edition of Shooting Industry Magazine offers a run-down of hot products at SHOT Show 2016. In this FREE April edition, you’ll find a SHOT Show in Review article, a “Show Stoppers” guide to Buyers’ favorites, a list of products you may have missed, as well as a 2016 New Product Showcase. For anyone interested in new shooting products, you really should read this special April issue cover to cover. This year’s SHOT Show, held January 19-22 in Las Vegas had more than 1600 exhibitors, with a record number of new products on display.
Show Stoppers from Las Vegas
One of the Show Stoppers highlights was a quad-barrel AR Kit. The new Multi-Caliber System (MCS) from Windham Weaponry offers plenty of bang for the buck. The kit comes with four different barrels: .223 Rem, 7.62x39mm, .300 Blackout, and 9mm Luger. The gun’s modular design makes it easy to change calibers by swapping barrels and magazine wells. (That’s right, you change the magwell to fit the caliber — a smart idea. That way you can run proper AK-style 7.62×39 magazines). One dealer stated: “You can get all four conversion kits in a hard-sided case at a decent prices. The fact you can change calibers so quickly is going to make this a big seller.”
New Product Showcase
Along with the Show Stoppers Guide, this April issue of Shooting Industry Magazine featured “Products You May Have Missed At SHOT Show” as well as a New Product Showcase. The Showcase highlights interesting new products from Benelli, Browning, Colt, Kimber, Nikon, McMillan, Nosler, Polycase, and many other leading brands.
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Planning to put together an AR-platform rifle? Or are you looking to upgrade your AR with a new barrel, stock, or trigger group? Then you should check out the AR-15 Rifle Build DVD from our friends at UltimateReloader.com. This DVD covers all the details of a custom build, using high-resolution video sequences, and helpful supporting graphics.
In this DVD, Gavin Gear guides you through the entire process including selecting components, acquiring and using the necessary tools, assembly steps and details for each component, and even mounting a scope. Building an AR-15 can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and help it’s not difficult and is a lot of fun. With this DVD you’ll be able to build your AR-15 with confidence.
Right now, as a New Year’s promotion, the AR-15 Build DVD is on sale for just $9.90 (plus $3.80 shipping/handling). This DVD can pay for itself many times over by showing you how to do your own gunsmithing (and get quality AR components at attractive prices).
Upper: Barrel / Gas Block / Gas Tube
Upper: Handguard Installation:
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M-K IIA2 GEN2 Tactical Trigger from The Wisconsin Trigger Co.
Gear Review by Johnny Fisher
Do you shoot an AR-platform rifle? Here’s an excellent trigger upgrade option that has recently returned to the marketplace. The Wisconsin Trigger Company (WITC) has resumed production of the legendary Milazzo-Krieger M-K II trigger for the AR-platform rifles. Not merely marketing a replica of the original Milazzo-Krieger design, Wisconsin Trigger now offers an enhanced, drop-in version called the M-K IIA2. An easy install, the Milazzo-Krieger trigger drops in with no special tools or machining required (and no modification of the safety selector switch).
For those who are looking for an extremely crisp AR15 trigger that closely mirrors the “feel” of a finely tuned M1 / M14 trigger, this trigger might be the solution. The first stage is exceptionally clean and smooth due to a proprietary diamond-grinding process. I felt that the first stage travel was longer than a Geissele, but many guys will prefer that. Upon reaching the very noticeable and defined “wall” of the second stage, a further increase of pressure provides the instantaneous snap one looks for in a high-quality trigger — complete with a total absence of anything resembling creep or slop.
If you follow the instructions in the box and watch WITC’s informative how-to videos, installation of this trigger is extremely straightforward, requiring no special tools or fitting.
As supplied straight from the factory, the first stage requires about 2.25 pounds of take-up before encountering “the wall” of the second stage. For this purpose of this review and to ensure “making weight” in CMP Service Rifle Competitions, the (white) 5-lb. disconnector spring was used. The weight of the second stage came in right at an extremely repeatable 5 lb. 3 oz. (averaging +/- 1.5 oz.) for a ratio of about 40/60 between the two.
Upon release of the hammer, the disconnector reset is decidedly short. National Match shooters in particular will appreciate the very short but easy-to-recognize trigger reset during rapid-fire strings.
Tuning the Trigger Before Installation
As with most National Match-grade triggers on the market, the Millazo-Krieger utilizes proprietary pins that come supplied with this unit. They must be used for final installation and are purposely oversized to a specific diameter for a very snug fit. This is to ensure the trigger and hammer rotate solely on the pins, as opposed to the pins eventually rotating inside the receiver. It is best to use standard sized mil-spec trigger and hammer pins for the setting of tensions (trigger weight) before final installation to help avoid undue wear to the receiver pin holes. Final adjustment of second-stage pull weight must be done BEFORE final installation.
It is recommended to first set the amount of desired disconnector engagement by performing a very simple process that is detailed in the included installation instructions from the TOP of the trigger. The swapping out of disconnector springs and final tuning of the second stage can then be done, but only from UNDERNEATH a disassembled trigger.
The disconnector tensioning springs are easily swapped out by removing the spring plug from the bottom of the trigger housing that exposes the spring pocket. After inserting the desired weight spring, the spring plug must be installed at least flush with the bottom of the trigger housing. Installing it deeper will add trigger pull weight on the second stage. Installing it too shallow will interfere with trigger movement.
The Wisconsin Trigger Company offers a full lifetime warranty to all unaltered parts of its triggers. This lifetime warranty is fully transferable when the trigger is sold to a new user! When have you heard of an AR component manufacturer with a transferable warranty — we’re impressed.
Not just a retailer, John Scandale of Keystone Accuracy is a distributor of these triggers. He currently has many in stock and for sale at a very special introductory price.
What Comes in the Box:
The $265.75 trigger kits come complete with everything you need: Trigger unit assembly, trigger return spring, full strength hammer spring, two proprietary oversized trigger & hammer pivot pins and three disconnector tensioning springs (3.25 lb., 4.5 lb., 5.0 lb.). Also included is a comprehensive installation manual, a color-coded disconnector spring selection chart, some promotional items, and the lifetime warranty card.
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Here’s an AR configuration suited to the new AR Mid-Range Prone Discipline: Moderate-length barrel, Harris Bipod, Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 4-12x40mm scope. Photobucket image by Ingo1978.
The NRA has created a new mid-range, target-shooting discipline for AR owners. The provisional rules for the new AR Mid-Range Prone Competition will allow calibers from .22 up to .308. Rifle weight will be limited to 14 pounds. Competitors may use Harris (or similar) compact, “tactical” bipods, and optics up to 12-power will be allowed (but iron sights can also be used). The goal of this new competition is to get the many AR owners to the range to compete.
The NRA’s Information Sheet for the new mid-range discipline explains: “These rifles are of the ‘AR-Platform’ variety, semi-automatic, chambered in any caliber from .223 cal./5.56mm. up to and including .308 cal./7.62mm. The courses of fire will be the same courses of fire currently used for other NRA Mid-Range (Prone) High Power Competition (300, 500, and 600 yards) and are designed to be fired concurrently with other forms of Mid-Range competition. The targets will be the same targets that are used for Service Rifle, Match Rifle, and Palma Rifle Mid-Range Prone competition. Mid-range telescopic sights will be allowed, but not required. Because this is prone competition, shooters may use tactical front rests such as Harris-type bipods and limited rear rests of the type one might find used in military or police tactical situations.”
A very prominent NRA member who works with the Competition Committee recently posted this explanation of the new AR discipline on our Forum:
NRA Mid-Range (Prone) Tactical Rifle (AR)
For those clubs and match directors who have members with ARs who want to shoot Mid-Range Prone but who don’t want (or can’t afford) to shoot traditional “sling” or F-Class, we have a new opportunity to get those ARs out of the closet and onto the range with very little in the way of additional costs:
It’s called Mid-Range Tactical Rifle (AR). A copy of the description and the Rules (Provisional) are attached as a PDF file and should be published by the NRA very soon. CAUTION — these are NOT official — but I think they are accurate:
In brief, here’s how it works:
1. The event will be fired concurrently with any other Mid-Range event, alongside of F-Class and “sling” divisions.
2. The Event will be fired on the “sling targets”.
3. AR Rifle General Standards:
Calibers: 223/5.56 up to and including .308/7.62mm
Weight: Overall weight not more than 14 pounds
Support: Harris-type “tactical bipod” (no large F-Class bipods).
Optics: Scope not more than 12X
Barrel: Not more than 20″
Trigger: Trigger pull not less than 4.5 pounds
4. This is NOT F-Class — this is designed to be closer to “tactical”. F-Class competition gear is generally illegal; competition stocks are generally illegal. [The event] is designed to attract more law enforcement and/or military (maybe local National Guard?) and other “tactical shooters” out to the range shooting for precision. For more info, check out the attached PDF file.
You’ll find a discussion of this new AR Mid-Range discipline in our Shooters’ Forum, HERE: AR Mid-Range Match Forum Thread. Here are some interesting comments from that thread:
“Opening up mid-range matches for ARs is a great idea. I’m not an AR guy myself, but I have lots of shooting friends who are. They tend to have a lot of ideas what their guns are capable of out to 600 yards, but most don’t take many opportunities to shoot them at those ranges, and none of the existing High Power disciplines are very appealing. Until now. I hope it doesn’t become an equipment race. A 185/200 is a respectable score even with a 12″ 10 ring. I hope everyone is supportive — helping get these guys on the paper and providing positive feedback even for scores that seem modest by F-Class standards.” — Comment by Berger.Fan222
“It looks like the recommended targets will be the same as conventional shooters use (i.e. ~1 MOA X-ring). Given the specifications for rifles/bipods/scopes/etc., I think this would be an appropriate level of difficulty to start. It will be challenging, particularly at 600 yards, but by no means impossible. Of course, at 600 yards, anyone shooting an AR15 (.223/5.56) will be at a disadvantage to ballistically-superior calibers unless they come up with a good way to load 80+ grain bullets that will mag-feed. Personally, I’d like to see this limited strictly to .223 ARs. Almost everyone has one and the mag feed requirement would really keep things even across the board. The inclusion of other calibers will allow this to become a ‘caliber race’ in that .223 will have a very hard time keeping up with other, better calibers at 600 yards.” — Comment by gstaylorg
“Looks like a great new addition. The PDF document says rule 7.20 for course of fire which is mid-range slow fire. I believe all slow fire is currently ‘one round loads’. The PDF explicitly states 10-, 20- or 30-round magazines and no sleds. Does anyone know if this new discipline would be fired from magazine or one-round loads? Shooting from magazine would be keeping with the ‘tactical’ aspect and enforcing mag-length loads. But it does not seem to jive with the ‘one round load’ currently stipulated for slow fire?” — Comment by Highpower-FClass
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AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.
Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.
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At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain Selections. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. 6mmAR.com — Easy-Change Front Bag-Rider for ARs
Here’s a great product from our friend Robert Whitley at 6mmAR.com. This new device is a 3″-wide, flat-bottomed, front bag-rider that mounts to your AR in seconds, without tools. The bag-rider (aka “sled”) really works — stabilizing your AR when shooting from a front pedestal rest. We recommend using the front sled during load development and whenever shooting from the bench. The bag-rider attaches to your AR’s handguard with a Velcro strap, indexing on the bipod stud. Right now the Easy-Change Bag-Rider has an introductory price of $55.00. If you own an AR, you should get one.
2. Target Sports — Federal .22 LR Ammo, 325 Rounds for $24.90
Need good quality rimfire ammo at a low price? This TargetSportsUSA.com deal — 325 rounds for $24.90 — is a very good value. We’re pleased to see rimfire ammo prices become affordable again. Purchases are limited to five (5) 325-round boxes per customer. This is better than most “bulk-box” rimfire ammo. Another good deal right now is the Federal AutoMatch Bulk Pack, 325 rounds for $20.99 at Natchez Shooters Supply (but you are limited to two boxes).
3. Precision Reloading — Forster 2-Die Sets with Ultra Seater
Precision Reloading has Forster two-die reloading sets on clearance now. For $75-$80 per set you can get a precision full-length sizing die plus an Ultra micrometer-top seater. These are good dies — your Editor uses these very same dies for my .223 Rem reloading. Die sets for numerous popular chamberings are on sale now including: 220 Swift, 222 Rem, 22 PPC, 6mmx45, 6mm PPC, 6mm Rem, 243 WSSM, 257 Roberts, 25 WSSM, 7mm BR Rem, 280 Rem, 7mm WSM, 7×57 Mauser, 7mm RUM, 303 British, 30-378 Wby and more.
4. Home Depot — 72″ Wood Workbench for $70.25
This patented Home Depot workbench assembles in a few minutes. Simply unfold the legs, pop in the shelf, and you are ready to start your project. Made from Premium 2×4 Hemlock fastened with glue and screws, this workbench is a great value. The bench (72″ wide x 35″ high x 22″ deep) can easily be stored when not in use. NOTE: The wood is unfinished (can be painted or stained).
5. CDNN Sports — 1911-Type .22 LR Target Pistol
Everyone should have an accurate .22 LR target pistol. This German-made GSG 1911 22LR pistol shares the look, feel, and ergonomics of J.M. Browning’s classic model 1911 so it’s good for cross-training. We’ve tried this pistol and the trigger is pretty darn good — though don’t expect it be be as nice as a S&W Model 41. But consider that the GSG costs just $249.99. By contrast, MSRP on a new Model 41 is a steep $1369.00. For cross-training and target work the GSG is a very good value.
6. Stocky’s Stocks — Composite Stock with Bedding Block
Here’s a killer deal on a versatile Stocky’s Long Range Stock with aluminum V-block bedding system. For just $199.99, order this for Rem/Rem Clone long actions or short actions, with either narrow or wide (varmint/tactical) barrel channel. This would be a good choice for a varmint rifle. This is also offered with a matte black, tan, or olive baked-on textured finish for $229.97.
7. Natchez — Nikon Hunting Scopes on Close-out
Natchez Shooters Supplies is running a big sale on Nikon optics with Camo finishes. Prices have been reduced as much as 43%. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, name-brand optic for your hunting or varmint rifle, check out these Nikon bargains. This scopes all carry full Nikon factory warranty.
8. Amazon – Frankford Arsenal Master Tumbler Kit
This Master Tumbler Kit contains everything you need to tumble rifle or pistol brass. Now on sale for $64.40 with free shipping, this Kit contains: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Plastic Bucket, 3 lbs. Cleaning Media, and 4 oz. Brass Polish.
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Here’s an interesting project — using a second-hand barrel to upgrade an AR15. Our friend Erik Cortina decided to make his AR15, originally chambered in 6.8 SPC, into a 6.5 Grendel. Erik acquired a “pre-owned” 6.5-06 match barrel through our Shooters’ Forum. Erik inspected the barrel with a bore-scope and confirmed it was in good shape after the first few inches (past the chamber). The 6.5-06 barrel had more than enough length, so he trimmed off the chamber end, then contoured the barrel to fit his AR15. This is a smart way to upgrade a gun without spending $350 or more on a brand new barrel.
In the first video, Erik explains the process of converting his 6.8 SPC AR16 into a 6.5 Grendel: “I take the upper completely apart and pull barrel off which will be used to take dimensions for new barrel. The new barrel will be turned from an old competition heavy barrel. All the barrel reaming will be done using JGS reamers. I will also use JGS reamers to make a seating and F/L sizing die.”
In the second video, Erik contours the “pre-owned” barrel to fit his AR. He uses an old bolt-action 6.5-06 competition barrel and cuts it to 17″ long and contours it to fit his AR-15. The barrel is turned down on a manual lathe to .750″ outside diameter for the majority of its length in order to fit the gas system barrel block that is made for a .750″ barrel. After contouring, the barrel will be threaded and chambered.
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If you missed out on some steller deals this past Friday, fret not. Brownells.com still has many products on sale through the end of the weekend. What’s more, you can save an additional 10% by using Code LCX for purchases of $150.00 or more. Today’s daily bargain is an Aero Precision AR upper for $69.99. That’s a steal. Combine that with a $199.99 assembled Bushmaster Lower Receiver (with stock) for a very affordable package. If you don’t own an AR platform rifle, this is a great way to get started.
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