CRKT M16-14SFG Tactical Folder

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The M16-14SFG is a whopper of a pocket knife. Here you can clearly see the AutoLAWKS safety on the back of the G10 handle

As I am sitting on my couch on my day off, eating FunYuns and watching Naked Gun, I realized I haven’t yet done a “Gear” post. So off goes the TV, and on goes the Mac, here we g

Columbia River Knife and Tool (hereafter referred to as CRKT) is an Oregon-based manufacturer of knives, tools, and accessories was founded by Rod Bremer in 1994. They manufacture all sorts of tactical styled stuff, with a focus on knives and tools. Many of their products are designed by renowned custom knife makers, and as such, have their own distinct fashion sense about them, as well as a utilitarian ruggedness.

The particular knife I am going to review today is the M16-14SFG. That sounds very official and military-like, but I have no idea what it stands for. The knife was designed by Kit Carson who retired from the U.S. Army and has been making high-quality custom knives since, so no surprise on the name I guess.

Like many of my reviews, this is a long term review. I purchased this knife from the PX on Fort Leavenworth about five years ago, and it has tromped around in my pants pocket since then, so I think that should qualify as long-term.  Let’s get started

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The hard tool steel blade sharpens up quite nicely. Here you can see me getting ready for bikini season

This pocket knife is a biggun’. It measures 9 1/4″ long when open, and almost 5 1/2″ when closed. The black G10 handles feature tiny scallops all over to provide extra grip. This has saved me on multiple occassions when my hands were wet, or I had thick gloves on.The body has a pocket clip that can be adjusted with into four different positions, sort like a holster, by replacing the allen head screws. However I just stick the thing in my pocket; I have lost probably half a dozen knives over the years to that blasted clip, and I do not wish to repeat that with this one.

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Although probably not recommended, the M16-14SFG makes short work of a common bushcraft task: splitting a 2×6 while using a thick branch as a hammer.

The blade locks in place with a conventional locking liner, that when depressed into the frame, releases the blade. CRKT takes that to the next level. They have also implemented the AutoLAWKS, which stands for Lake and Walker Knife Safety. It is a little red lever on the back on the knife handle, that is automatically activated whenever the blade is opened and prevents it from being closed accidentally, which is very useful when the knife is being used for a difficult job. To release it, you just pull on the lever and depress the locking liner. It can be a bit confusing at first, but it is second nature for me at this point and is easily done with one hand. It always confounds people whenever they borrow it, so I just close it for them instead of explaining how-to.

The blade is nearly 4″, just a scoche under, and features a pointed Tanto-style blade with scalloped serrations CRKT calls “Veff Serrations”. The blade features your conventional thumbstuds for opening, but I prefer to use the “flippers”. The flippers are these lumps of steel that hang out from either side of the base of the blade. They serve to help open the knife quickly, especially when you don’t have the dexterity or fine motor skills( e.g, when its wet and you have gloves on) to use the thumbstuds. They also serve as a very fine hilt, so you don’t cut all your digits off when involved in cutting or thrusting into something.I like most of my fingers, so I find this to be a very neat feature.

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The unique Veff Serrations and the “flippers” help to make difficult tasks, such as cutting this nylon rope, much easier.

    The blade is made from 8Cr14 MOV steel and according to the website, has a Rockwell hardness rating of 58-59, which if you don’t know, is pretty stinkin’ hard. but not yet brittle. Because of the steel involved and the hardness, the blade will sharpen up to literal razor sharpness and will stay that way through extended and rough use.  The serrations are deep and uniquely scalloped. I am not sure sure if that was by design or for cosmetic reasons, but I have found, that it is a vast improvement when I am cutting wire or thick rope over conventional serrations.  

Regardless of how tough a knife it  is, you still need to take care of it. Mine gets sticky, dirt covered, lint covered, and after a while the edge will dull. For maintenance I typically take the whole knife apart and clean every part like I would my CCW pistol. I then sharpen the blade with lubricant and a diamond stone. Looks brand new after every cleaning. 

After five+ years of owning and using this knife, I can say that I am very much a fan. It is apparent that this knife was designed, from the ground up, for hard work and rough jobs. It eats up abuse with aplomb. It has opened up everything from mail to MRE boxes to steel banded-bundles of rail road ties. it has served a screwdriver, a saw, and a fork. It has taken care of hangnails, and even helped me butcher a hog last year. It is my EDC knife and has definitely been a live saver on a couple of occasions. If in a worst case scenario, I were thrust into a self defense scenario, and all I had was my CRKT, I’d be alot more worried for the other guy. Granted, it’s not the best bushcraft knife, or fighting knife, or field dressing knife, or multi-tool. It is not the be-all-end-all knife that will do everything. But boy, is it close!

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The Remington 700 ADL: the Ugly Duckling

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She won’t win any beauty constests,but don’t let that dissuade you, the Remington 700 ADL is a solid buy and shooter

As the leaves begin to turn and deer season is upon us, I felt that it would be fitting to review an old standby, the Remington 700.

The 700 has been around officially since 1962, but its simple push feed bolt design originated with the Model 721 in 1948. Touted as the “most accurate out-of the box production rifle on the market today” with its “three rings of steel” bolt and receiver the 700 has more than its fare share of lovers and haters. Since its inception the rifle has undergone many changes, cosmetically speaking, but the design remains the same. However, it wasn’t necessarily a slam-dunk when it was introduced half a century ago; it first had to contend with the Winchester Model 70.

The Model 70 was “The Rifleman’s Rifle” and was considered the ne plus of American-made bolt guns. Many parts were handfitted, it was made in calibers ranging from .22 Hornet to .458 Winchester Magnum, it was unfailingly accurate and reliable with its Mauser-style controlled round feed bolt, it was also downright beautiful. The Model 70 was the standard by which all bolt guns were measured. However, for the 700’s benefit, that was soon to change.

In 1964, Winchester unveiled their new Model 70. The rifle had undergone numerous cosmetic and design changes that were intended to reduce the cost of the firearm and increase production numbers. The resulting product was poorly received by hunters and shooters all across the world who bemoaned the death of their beloved Model 70. Even to this day, Model 70s are separated into two categories, the Pre-64, and Post-64 models, with the Pre-64 Model 70s bringing a considerable premium. Remington in their wisdom capitalized heavily on this opportunity and began to outsell the competition. They have never looked back.

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You can see the push feed style bolt clearly in this picture, as well as all the scratches, dents, and dings on the stock and scope. This is a well-used, working rifle!

My 700 is one of the ADL variants. This means that it is an economy version of the 700. The biggest difference between this and say, a BDL or a CDL, is that the ADL has a blind magazine and no floorplate. In all truth, it isn’t even marked as an ADL, it just has “Model 700” stamped on the receiver. I purchased this rifle for my 22nd birthday from Cabelas several years ago as a package deal. It came with a scope and was boresighted already for the low, low price of $399.99. I wanted a deer rifle that was in a hard hitting, versatile, and accurate chambering that was easy to find ammo for. With a few years in the Army already under my belt, I knew that the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm was a very capable round out to 1200 meters, had excellent terminal performance, and was easy to find cartridges and reload for. So that is what I chose.

This rifle has a standard contour, 24” free-floated barrel mated to an ugly black composite stock. This rifle with the factory 3-9x40mm scope weighs a fair 7lbs and 10 ounces, which is reasonably light actually. Speaking of the scope, it has no name on it. It is completely bare except for the adjustment dial. Like I said before it came pre-mounted on the rifle, but as we will see, it is more than adequate. The trigger is absolutely exquisite and breaks like a glass rod at 4lbs even. All metal surfaces are coated in a matte finish -“dura-coat” -like substance that certainly reduces glare but does nothing to increase the attractiveness of this wall-flower rifle.

Something I find interesting about these 700 ADLs is that Remington does not acknowledge their existence. There is no mention of them on their website, if you go to a dealer and ask, they will respond with “out of stock/and or production”. According to the to all the company reps, the SPS has completely replaced the ADL as the economy version of the 700. However, if you go to any big box store, e.g. Wal-Mart, Cabelas, Dick’s, etc. they have tons of these ADL package rifles on the shelves and in the back room. Hmmm…

Anyways, I don’t think there is some huge conspiracy against the ADLs, I just find it somewhat interesting.

Shooting the 700 

I have owned this rifle for a number of years and am very pleased with its accuracy. It was not until recently that I became aware of the prejudice against these big-box store package rifles. As I was reading up on the Remmy, deep in the bowels of the interweb amongst the shooting and hunting forums, there seemed to be a consensus against the package deal ADLs. Numerous people seemed very dissatisfied with the accuracy of the 700 ADLs purchased at these big box stores, with some people claiming they couldn’t get these rifles to consistently group shots at all, and others claiming the best groupings they could attain were in roughly 4 MOA area. There wasn’t a hate against the other 700 variants, just the big box store package deal rifles. I found this to be very peculiar, as I have not found this to be true in my own experience. Even a very respected gun writer on a well known firearms review website, whilst testing a 700 ADL in .243, produced rather “meh” results with both handloads and factory ammunition.

Anyways, on to the range!

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To field strip. with your bolt open and the rifle unloaded,simply press the button in front the trigger, and the bolt should fall out.

For testing this rifle I used Winchester 150 grain Powerpoint rated at 2820 fps, Remington 180 grain Core Lokt at 2620fps, and Hornady Superformance Match 178 grain at 2604 fps. The Winchester’s average velocity was 2902 out of my chrony, with a 3 shot group of 1.17inches, The Remington’s average was 2541 with a 1.71 inch group. Here comes the ringer: the Hornady averaged 2650 fps, with a standard deviation of only 5fps between the high and low, and my best group measured a mere .52 inches. Yes, you read that right. A smidge over half an inch. That is downright scary, and as I found out later, very repeatable. A man could get a big head shooting a rifle like this too often.

To be honest, I had often wondered if that no-name mystery scope was worth a hoot. In the past I have often contemplated selling that ugly rifle or trading it if something better came along, but now, I’m not so sure…

Conclusion

 

The Remington 700 has become one of those iconic American firearms that will probably last another century. From police marksmen, to Army snipers, to deer hunters here at home, the Remington 700 has definitely earned the respect of its users and continues to outshine its peers in design, modularity, accuracy, usability, and affordability. The ADL variant, if you can find it, remains a very affordable option for the user who wants a Remington 700 with no frills, but all the sass. Mine is probably gonna stick with me for a while; after all, I do like venison.

Smith and Wesson Model 37 AirWeight

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The Model 37 AirWeight fits nicely in even average sized hands

This is the final installment in the three-part series “A Trio of Smiths”

https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/08/31/a-trio-of-smiths/

https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/09/01/smith-and-wesson-357-magnum/

https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/09/03/smith-and-wesson-model-10/

In the early 1950s, the U.S. was engaged in the height of the Korean Conflict. The Air Force was looking for an ideal emergency/survival sidearm to arm their pilots and aircrew with in case of being shot down behind enemy lines. They had a few eccentric survival rifle designs, but no dedicated sidearm for self defense. During WWII, most pilots were armed with either the Colt 1911 or the S&W Victory revolver, which was a war-time modification of the M&P. Both were fine for front line infantry use, but were less than suitable for the Air Force’s mission. For one, weight savings were paramount. The mighty Colt and Smith clock in at 38 and 34 ounces unloaded respectively, which may not seem like a lot, save for on a fighter jet or long range bomber where ounces count.

The new-at-the-time Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special seemed to fit the bill. It was a snub nosed five shot .38 Special built on S&Ws new J-frame that weighed a smidge less than 20 ounces. It seemed about perfect. Unfortunately, the Air Force wanted it more perfect. They requested that S&W use an aluminum frame and cylinder to cut on weight savings. As testing went on, it was apparent that the aluminum cylinder stretched too much under firing to be suitable for use and was replaced with a steel cylinder. The new pistol, designated the AirWeight, was introduced in 1951 and tipped the scales at a mere 13 ounces. It also found a new audience in plain clothes policemen and civilians looking for a light weight back-up weapon. In 1958 S&W changed the moniker to the Model 37.

Owning the Model 37

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The five-shot cylinder and aluminum frame makes an ideal package for concealment

This example is a three-screw made some time in the 1970s. I must admit that this revolver is not mine, but my brother’s personal revolver. It was originally owned by an older gentleman who shot maybe a box of ammo through it over the course of thirty-five years. He decided that he wanted something else, and my brother was able to buy his nearly mint AirWeight for a fraction of its value. The anodizing and bluing is still intact. The lockup is extremely tight, and the hammer spur and trigger’s checkering are still very sharp. So sharp that I cut the tip of my first finger whilst shooting this diminutive revolver. Because of the light weight and aluminum frame, this revolver is not shot often. The trigger breaks crisply at 2 1/2lbs in single action and 10lbs in double action.

A note of caution, it is not advised to shoot +P defensive rounds through the Model 37 because of the aluminum frame. Some may disagree, but I will err on the side of caution, especially as this pistol is on loan.

On the Range

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This classic Smith, like all the others in my possession, has a classic rebounding hammer with fixed firing pin for the ultimate in reliability and safety

On the shooting range, the Model 37 is rather exciting to behold. Reliability is a non-issue with this high quality S&W revolver. At 7 yards, in double-action mode, 2″ groups are regularly produced. At 25 yards, this revolver produced a little better than 9″ groups with 158gr LRN Winchester white box. The short sight radius makes shooting tiny groups unrealistic, but this pistol is not designed for that. It is designed specifically for carrying comfortably and for combat at close range, both of which it performs admirable. The tiny 1 7/8″ barrel does little for ballistics either: the average velocity for all three brands of 158 gr LRN ammo I tried was a modest 698fps.

It is the actual shooting of this pistol that makes it memorable. The thin-wood stocks of the Smith provide a full grip, but they do little to absorb recoil. As a matter of fact, the only thing absorbing recoil is your wrist. During firing the revolver’s butt will climb up and out of your grip, no matter how firm you hold on. During rapid-fire DA firing, the bucking of an otherwise mild .38 Special round will make you rethink some life decisions.  I have fired some rough .500 S&W and .44 Rem Mag loads in my day, but that little Model 37 is downright painful.

Final Thoughts

The Model 37 is a sleek and dandy little pocket pistol. It is 100% reliable, extremely light weight, and combat accurate. It’s ferocity and potency on both ends of the muzzle make for a excellent packing and self-defense option. I may not be able to wring out the best results from this pistol, but it doesn’t make it any less capable of a firearm choice. Plus, it is so darn good looking.

Mil-Spec Trigger vs Geissele GS2

Hey Everyone! This is a little bit different direction that what I’m used to, but we are going to see how it works. I shot my first video, and uploaded it to YouTube. It is veeeerrrrrrry basic, so be gentle. I am highlighting the differences between the stock OEM trigger in one of my ARs versus the new Geissele GS2 I just installed. Let me tell you that there is a VAST improvement over the Mil-Spec trigger. I am very excited to see how well it shoots now.

Here is the link:     Mil-Spec Trigger vs Geissele GS2

Smith and Wesson Model 10

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This is my second installment in the “A Trio of Smiths” series. https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/08/31/a-trio-of-smiths/

https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/09/01/smith-and-wesson-357-magnum/ Stay tuned of for the final installment:)

The story of the S&W Model 10 begins somewhere in the Philippines in the 1899. At the time, the US Army was involved in the rebellion going on. As this is a gun article and not a political science piece, lets skip to the good parts. The pistol in use by the Army was the Colt New Army chambered in .38 Colt. Apparently, they were having issues with stopping some of the more motivated Filipinos and drug crazed Moro natives with the anemic .38 Colt chambering.

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The Model 10’s cylinder fits 6 .38 caliber pills nicely. Who could want for more?

As a result, the Ordnance Department released a bunch of Colt 1873 SAAs and 1878 Frontiers chambered in the proven .45 Colt to be used by the Army instead. Smith and Wesson got wind of the issue back home and went about developing a new revolver and chambering. The revolver, called the .38 Hand Ejector of 1899, and chambered in the new .38 Special, was the cat’s meow in terms of cartridges of the day. The Army and the Navy ordered a few thousand of these pistols and in light of the new contract, the name was changed to the Military and Police, or M&P, which still lives on today.

Unfortunately for S&W the US military didn’t get overly interested in their new pistol and instead experimented with a few new automatic pistol designs, eventually settling in 1905 with the cartridge we know now as the .45.ACP, and a few years later in 1911 with the Colt M1911. However, S&W sold millions of these pistols overseas to blossoming new nation-states in need of a reliable and affordable sidearm for their militaries .

On this side of the pond, S&W developed lucrative law enforcement contracts; selling their pistol for issue to entire departments. From its inception, to even today in some small departments, the standard issue pistol found in rigs nation wide was probably the M&P (or Model 10 after 1957) in some variation. While the military retained its fan-boy like status for Colts, the cops at home were packin’ a good ol’ Smith.

Owning the Model 10

My Model 10 is the first revolver I ever bought. I wanted an inexpensive, duty-sized revolver that I could use as my nightstand gun and not have to worry about clearing malfunctions or engaging safeties. I found just that in my Model 10. Right now, it rests with a cylinder-full of Hornady Critical Defense 38 Special +P and a HKS Speedloader with matching armament in my nightstand, ready for action.

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The hammer mounted firing pin provides faultless, reliable ignition. The rebounding hammer also allows for the carrying of six rounds in the cylinder safely.

It is a police trade-in and is missing quite a bit of the finish on one side from being carried in a holster for most of its life. The action is glass smooth from time and well worn with age, it has a few dings and scratches on the frame, but the rifling is still strong, and the cylinder locks up tightly when the hammer is cocked. This particular revolver is a 10-8 with a square butt and a pinned, heavy barrel. It weighs a meaty 34 ounces, not a light weight by anyone’s standard. The single action trigger pull is like snapping a thin glass rod and measures a mere 2 pounds. The double action is a steady, rolling tug that breaks at about 8 ½ pounds. Pointing this pistol, with one or two hands, is instinctive and completely natural. It is one of my favorite shooting pistols. To be honest, I will probably get another identical one to match it.

On the Range

My Model 10 will eat up any 38 Special load with aplomb, but it absolutely loves the classic 158 grain lead round nose load, mosying along at 750 fps. The fixed sights are perfectly regulated for that loading at 25 yards, and as we will see, absolutely shocked me with how accurate they can be. At 7 yards or less, in double action mode, it is very easy to get one, nice, ragged hole in the x-ring on a B-27. There is very little recoil, so follow up shots are easy to make. There is also very little report. It is by no means a .22 in that sense, but it is a very quiet handgun considering. Shooting the 38 Special in a K-frame is very gratifying; when you pull the trigger, you are rewarded with a mild “POP”, a tensing of the wrist, and then a nice little hole wherever your sights were pointed. This is, in my mind, the perfect handgun to introduce novice shooters to, once they have mastered the .22 rimfire.

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The Model 10 favored the classic 158gr LRN loads with the best groups coming in just under 1.7 inches at 25 yards, measured center to center

I tested three types of ammo in my revolver: Hornady Critical Defense +P 110 gr, Winchester White Box 158gr LRN, and Federal 130gr FMJ. The Hornady had an average velocity of 1112 fps, the Winchester 748 fps, and the Federal 830fps. As I mentioned earlier, the most accurate load was the classic lead Winchester load. This is not a load I would carry for self defense for a myriad of reasons, but it does serve well enough for neutralizing target medium. It was on the bench that this load/revolver combo really surprised me. At 25 yards, I could muster 2” groups with monotonous repeatability. It also shot exactly to point of aim, which was refreshing, considering the frustrations I have had with other fixed sight revolvers.

Final Thoughts

The Model 10 is one of those ubiquitous firearms that has survived a century of hard use and will probably survive another century without much change to the original design, due in part to the low operating pressure of the cartridge it fires and the sturdiness of the design. The other reason is because it works as a whole package. It is an attractive, collectible, rugged, easy to shoot, working pistol. It is at home in the desk drawer, or on the hip; in the truck glove compartment, or the safe. The Model 10 may not be for you, but that is ok, it is just dandy for me.

Smith and Wesson 357 Magnum

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The 357 Magnum goes well with an factory original antique Smith and Wesson shoulder holster and HKS Speedloader

This is the first installment in “A Trio of Smiths” series

https://thatweirdgunguy.com/2015/08/31/a-trio-of-smiths/

Stay tuned:)

In The Roaring Twenties, during the heyday of Prohibition and organized crime, the standard issue law enforcement sidearm was either a Colt, or a Smith and Wesson revolver in .38 Special. With a 158 grain lead round nose bullet lazily frolicking at around 750-800 feet per second, it made for an adequate man stopper, was exceedingly accurate, and had mild recoil. However, it did make for poor penetration, especially in cases of the new fangled bulletproof vests and armored cars that the bad guys had. The alternative for those in law enforcement on the cutting edge was the 1911 in .45 ACP. Unfortunately, its 230 grain slug going a smidgen faster than the 38’s didn’t improve the penetration enough to make a difference.

In light of this, Colt and S&W both got to work on solutions to the problem. In 1929 Colt introduced the .38 Super Automatic. This hot little round, an update to the old 38 ACP and chambered in the 1911, drove a 130 grain full metal patch(jacketed) bullet at a blistering 1300 fps. This made short work of the bulletproof vests and the armored cars of the time. However, most Law Enforcement was mistrustful of semi-auto pistols and required a revolver to be carried by patrol officers. In 1930, Smith and Wesson came up with a solution called the 38-44. This was the 38 Special cartridge loaded with a 158 grain full metal patch bullet flying along at 1150 fps, but chambered in the heavier S-Frame pistol built originally for the .44 Special. There was an obvious problem though, both of these rounds could be chambered in firearms designed for the older and weaker cartridge. Colt and Smith and Wesson both tried to fix that by changing the head stamps on the cartridge rims but people still put 38-44HV rounds in their much weaker K-frame revolvers. Along with help from Elmer Keith, S&W set about to fixing the problem and developing an even hotter round, and hotter pistol.

In 1934-35 S&W introduced a completely new cartridge: the .357 Magnum. This round was 1/8 of an inch longer than a .38 so it could not be chambered in a pistol that was designed for the .38 Special. The new round’s ballistics were originally a 158 grain bullet at 1500 fps! That is roughly double what the humble .38 Special was capable of. They also introduced a new pistol, called the “Registered Magnum” to house the new round. This pistol was, and is, the most desirable of all Smith and Wesson revolvers as it was completely hand made and customizable with a myriad of barrel lengths in ¼ inch increments, grips, finishes, sights, etc. Even though it was introduced in the middle of the Great Depression and was extremely expensive for the time, Smith & Wesson was backlogged with orders for the entirety of time that it produced the Registered Magnum. The Kansas City Police Department issued the Registered Magnum to its officers, and many other law enforcement officers across the United States carried the Registered Magnum. In 1939 Smith & Wesson stopped producing the Registered Magnum and replaced it with the 357 Magnum, which was still the Registered Magnum, but with the lack of customizable features, and standardized for ease of production and economy. In 1955, Smith and Wesson changed how they named revolvers and began using a numeric system instead of the old titular style. The Military and Police became the Model 10, the Chief’s Special became the Model 36, The Highway Patrolman became the Model 28 and the 357 Magnum became the Model 27, etc.

Owning the 357 Magnum

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The rollmark and pinned front sight are clearly observed in this picture

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The classic Smith and Wesson recessed chambers and lockwork are still tight sixty years later

 

My example is a Pre-Model 27, on a 5 screw, S-Frame. It has a 6 ½ inch pinned and ribbed barrel, with pinned front partridge sight. The chambers are recessed as well. All of these features are very desirable in early S&Ws. The best I can figure is that this pistol was probably made somewhere in the early 1950s as it has the second model hammer. The finish, even though it is sixty plus years old, still has a lovely luster. Somebody really did like shooting this pistol because it has a deeply impressed cylinder ring, but the rifling in the barrel is still sharp. The big wheel-gun balances very nicely, and is easy to shoot accurately with one or both hands, despite its 3lb weight when loaded. The trigger breaks at a clean 3 pounds in single action, and about 10lbs in double action. Overall it is probably the most beautiful pistol I have ever shot.

On the Range

“What?!” you are probably thinking. “You still shoot this pistol?” Oh yes, yes indeed. In fact, this revolver is the most accurate pistol that I own. It makes me look good. Too good, in fact.

When I was on Active Duty Some years back, some Army buddies and I would go to a local gun club off post on our time off. I would bring my trusty Smith with me. My buddies would then bet the local patrons, and on one occasion the owner of the establishment, that no one could hit the little green man in the top left corner of a standard B-27 target from the back of this indoor pistol range, which If I recall correctly was about 100 feet, so roughly 33 yards. Some money would exchange hands, the marks would take their turns shooting, almost everyone would miss. Then, I would roll up to the line, drop in one 148 grain match wadcutter in the big cylinder of that Smith, assume a good Weaver stance, and let fly. When the target came back, there would always be a perfectly round hole in the center of that little green man. We would then leave with our fruits of labor.

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This was my smallest group at just under 1.2″ at 25 yards measured center to center. In my haste, I mistakenly wrote down 38 instead of 357 😦

Like I said, I am a middling-to average shot, but when I benched this pistol the other day at the range, only shooting Mags, the largest group I got at 25 yards was a touch over two inches, with the smallest just under 1 and a quarter inches from center to center. No telling what a Match grade 38 Special could do in this behemoth. I shot several types of 357 through the pistol; Hornady 158gr XTP, Federal 158gr JSP, Grizzly 200 gr LNFP, and some handloads with Keith-style 158 gr LNFP. It favored the Federals in this trial, but I have some more playing to do with this pistol.

Final Thoughts

The 357 Magnum is one of those few truly iconic American pistols and I feel very fortunate to be one the few that has a working example. This pistol exudes history and nostalgia, but not so much to have become obsolete. The classic lines, hand tooling, musclecar-like performance, and tank-like reliability make this one a keeper.

Saiga Entry Level AK by RWC

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The Saiga Entry Level AK is a trim, handy package at just under 35 inches and a little over 7 pounds

Sorry, about the huge delay between articles everybody! I’ve been extremely busy and have been working on several projects that should be released in the near future. Stay tuned!

The AK-47 and its variants are perhaps the most ubiquitous firearms in the world. Many more people can regale you with history lessons on the AK-family of weapons. I will not. I simply want to talk about shooting and handling one of them.

Out of the myriad of variants, two undoubtedly stand out from the crowd in terms of quality: the Saiga, manufactured in the Izmash factory, and the VEPR, manufactured in the Molot factory, both in Russia. Big surprise that the best AK variant is made in Russia, right?

Saiga has been exporting their rifles into the US for years, sans all military features and furniture. The rifles feature a sporting style stock, a unique gas tube/forend arrangement, proprietary magazine, no flash hider, bolt hold open lever, and trigger linkage system. However, they do have a cold hammer forged chrome lined barrel and the extremely reliable, bomb proof, Kalashnikov operating system at heart. Once they get here, the talented consumers either leave them as is, or convert them back to true AK style. There are a number of YouTube videos and online tutorials to walk the hobby gunsmith through the process.

The only trick is, you have to use a number of US made parts in the conversion in order to maintain 922R compliance. Section 922R compliance is one of those redundancies that our government deemed necessary. I will not discuss it here for lack of time and patience. Google it. Suffice it to say that if your firearm is not 922R compliant and you do get in trouble, you could be facing some hard time and a hefty fine.

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In this photo the bolt-hold open lever is clearly observed in action right behind the trigger, and so is an empty bottle of caulk 🙂

RWC has been the go-to importer for Saigas for years, and having been familiar with the process that consumers go through in order to convert Saigas, decided to offer their own converted 922R Compliant Saiga. Currently RWC offers two different versions of converted Saigas. The Entry Level AK, which we will discuss here is chambered in 7.62x39mm and features a polymer AK stock and pistol grip, bullet guide for using regular AK magazines, Tapco G2 AK trigger, and one US PALM 30rd magazine. The                                                                               forend, gas tube, and barrel are stock.

First Impressions

Opening the box was rather anticlimactic. There were no instructions, no paperwork with the rifle. Just the rifle, magazine, and cleaning kit were in the box. According to various online sources, the stock Saigas come with a bunch of nifty paperwork and information. Maybe mine was a fluke, or maybe RWC ships all of their converted Saigas without any paperwork, I don’t know.

The Saiga disassembles like every other AK: ensure the rifle is unloaded, take it off safe, ensure your weapon is unloaded again, press the big button on the back of the receiver, lift the dust cover off, take the action spring out, and the bolt and gas piston slide off the rails. Once you take out the guts, you can remove the gas tube by pivoting the little lever next to the rear sight all the way up. Viola! My rifle was filled, and I mean FILLED with metal shavings. It took a good hour to get up all of those pesky little filings. Once it was cleaned and oiled up, the rifle was clickity-clack smooth.

The trigger was a bit mushy, there was no discernable break, but it didn’t stack either. I measured it at 3 pounds exactly. It is very light! The rifle weighs about 7 pounds and 6 ounces, but seems much lighter as it is very well balanced. Altogether the rifle feels well built and tight. There was a bit of magazine wobble with every magazine I tried, but it did nothing to affect feeding and extracting.

The Range

I’m going to admit something. I had never fired an AK variant before this day. I was a little nervous about the manual of arms and zeroing. I have spent quite a bit of time zeroing M16s in the Army, so the front post arrangement wasn’t foreign, but the drifting of it was. I highly recommend that you get a good quality front sight adjustment tool when you get your AK, or SKS. It will make your day a lot less frustrating.

Anyways. When you zero an M16 you shoot at 25 meters, you place your rear sight on the 8/3rds hash and then add one click up. You then do all elevation adjustments with your front post and an old nail, and your windage adjustments with the rear drum. When you are zeroed, you drop the elevation to 8/3rds and now you are ready for anything from 0 to 300 meters. An AK is completely different. The old Red Army method of zeroing an AK was exceeding complicated, it involved centimeters, and big black blocks at 100 meters and math and stuff. No bueno. I found an easy way to do it online. Put your leaf on the 100 mark. Zero at 25 meters. Shoot at 100 meters to ensure zero, adjust as necessary. Bada Bing Bada Boom!

The ammo I used to shoot was off the shelf Tula 122 gr FMJ 7.62x39mm. Tula advertises this ammo to clock in at about 2396 fps. From my chronograph, I measured a low of 2302, a high of 2406, with an mean average of 2360 fps. Not too shabby, Tula.

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The rear leaf is adjustable for elevation with indents for 0-300m.

Accuracy was quite impressive for what I expected. Like I said, I am accustomed to the M16s wonderful peep sight. Compared to the M16, the AK is severely lacking in that department. The front sight is blocky and covers up about a foot and a half at 100 yards. The rear sight covers up everything not covered by the front sight. In spite of this, I managed to pull off a 2.29” inch 5 shot group at 100 yards. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. Until I printed a 2.55” inch group, and then a 2.38”.That’s better than a lot of M16s (gasp!) I’ve shot. It makes me curious what a higher quality brand of ammo could do. Feeding and reliability was flawless of course, as per the reputation of the design.

Final Thoughts

I was a bit apprehensive at first about owning and shooting an AK, but my mind has been changed for the better I think. The price is a bit higher than your run of the mill    N-PAP or WASR, but you are paying for quality. Plus, Arsenal, the maker of fine AK products uses Saiga parts in their builds, so its sorta like getting an Arsenal AK for cheap.

In summary, I will still cling to my ARs and my Ruger Minis, but this ugly black, stamped, rugged, piece of sin has won a special place in my heart.

Stats

Name:      Saiga 7.62        Action:      Semi Automatic      Barrel Length:   16.5″

Caliber:    7.62x39mm      Weight:   7lbs, 6oz                   OA Length:   35″

Capacity:  10, 20, 30        Trigger Pull: 3lbs     Sights:  adjustable leaf rear, 100-300m. adjustable front post

Price:    $ 849 MSRP

Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit

The Colt 1911 is probably the most iconic pistol of the 20th century.

There, I said it.

I will not go into great detail about the history and the legacy left by this grand old pistol, just suffice to say that it has paid its dues numerous times over. It is an exceedingly popular pistol in several shapes, styles, and sizes. It can also be chambered in a myriad of calibers ranging from .17 to .50. Despite the various configurations that the 1911 can come in, it is a safe bet that the most common is the 5” barrel chambered in .45 ACP.

The .45 ACP, while not a wrist breaker, is a stout cartridge that can generate a quite a bit of recoil in its hotter loadings. It is also a little pricey. Both of these factors can make a range session rather difficult to enjoy and harder for the new shooter to become proficient with their pistol. If only there was a solution.

The Solution

The Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit is a complete kit that contains the 22LR conversion slide, barrel, recoil spring assembly, and one 10 round magazine. The kit mounts to the frame of your existing 1911 single stack with standard length frame and converts it to fire .22LR. You use the same trigger, grips, safeties, and hammer. This kit retails for $339 and since it is not a firearm, can be shipped to your door.

My first thought upon inspecting the slide assembly was how light it was. And rightfully so, it cycles on blowback operation with the 1911’s standard hammer spring, so it has to be light to overcome the resistance. The slide appears to be made from an aluminum alloy and is painted black, as I later found. The ramped barrel is stainless steel and has a target crown. The slide comes with adjustable target-style sights that seem to hold up well to repeated use. It also has an external extractor and a long ejector that is pinned to the barrel in order to more positively grab those pesky .22 shells that can swell and crack in a chamber all to easily.

The kit comes in a hard plastic case with foam cutouts for the slide assembly and magazine

The kit comes in a hard plastic case with foam cutouts for the slide assembly and magazine

The slide has forward and rear serrations that are similar to what is on the company’s .45 version of the pistol, but that serve no use, as the resistance required to pull back the slide is nil. The magazine is made of plastic and has a cutaway portion to show the number of rounds still in the chamber. The assembly has a mixture of the old bushing system and the newer guide rod system amalgamated together. This allows for the whole kit to be completely assembled in one piece while mounting to the frame of the host pistol. The biggest “issues” I have with this whole kit is that Kimber recommends using only high velocity .22 ammo to ensure reliable cycling, and that the slide does NOT lock back on the empty magazine.

Converting your standard 1911 over to the .22 conversion kit is very simple and straight forward. Simply field strip your 1911 as if for cleaning. I won’t go into that process because disassembly on 1911’s that have a bushing or guide rod system will vary. Mount the complete and assembled slide assembly to the rails of the frame and insert the pistol’s original retaining pin in the hole in the frame and Viola! You now have a .22 caliber 1911. You can now train with your pistol and work on areas such as grip and trigger squeeze without having to worry about pain in your wrist and in your wallet.

On The Range

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The Kimber Conversion Slide as mounted on my Ruger SR1911 CMD

I mounted the kit on two different 1911-style pistols for comparison sakes: a High Standard GI .45 with a 5 inch barrel that has sloppy tolerances, and a Ruger SR1911 CMD that is an absolute dream to shoot and is as tight as a pin hole. Once I mounted the kit on both pistols I was amazed at how good they both looked with the conversion slide mounted on. They looked like a real Kimber Target .45 that cost five times as much. One thing is for certain, this is a handsome, well fitting conversion kit.

Mounting on the GI was very easy and it shot ok, nothing to write home about.         Mounting the kit on the Ruger was a bit more difficult. The tolerances are waaayyy tighter and could definitely be determined while shooting and cycling the firearm. However, it shot very tight groups with all the .22 ammo I fed it. I think that this is a valid point to make because of the wide variances in 1911-style pistols out there, from 400 dollar Tisa’s to an Ed Brown ,you will probably have different experiences than I do. In fact I almost guarantee it.

I tested several brands of high velocity, and standard velocity 22 ammo. I also plinked about 500 rounds out of it at various targets and distances to see how well it could run. I had about the same amount of reliability either way. About one out of every 75 rounds would fail to cycle the slide all the way back, or would stove pipe. Is that any better or worse than a dedicated .22 pistol? I don’t think so. When I shot this pistol for testing I shot from 25 yards, and used 5 shot groups. The ammo I used for accuracy testing was Federal High Velocity, which is a 36 grain hollow point advertised as 1260 fps out of a rifle. My chronograph measured the velocity of the round at an average of 1089, with a low of 1032, and a high of 1115 fps. That’s not bad at all for .22LR out of a pistol. From the rest I could eek out 2.2 inch groups with the Federal Ammo. This slide is definitely a shooter, at least from my Ruger. The GI Model was consistently producing clay target accuracy with all brands of ammo. I attribute that to the sloppier tolerances and rougher trigger.

The  can utilize the same controls on the pistol with the kit installed on the host pistol frame

You can utilize the controls on the pistol in the normal fashion with the kit installed

Conclusion

I have to say that I really like this kit. Is it perfect? No. Does it fit the bill for every circumstance that is required of a 22 pistol? No. Does it work within the confines of its design and intent? Yeah. This is a great tool for sharpening your skills on your 1911 without breaking the bank. It is also a great tool for introducing new shooters to the 1911 format. Is it a great hunting or packing .22? Not in my mind, no. But for training, target practice, and platform familiarity this is about as perfect as it can be.

H&R 949: A Working Man’s Trail Gun

Hey everyone, I apologize for the big break in any new posts. I had some military stuff in the interim that had to be done first, and honestly, I was a little apprehensive about posting this review. I am still new to all this so please be gentle 🙂

IMG_1058     My first review will be on the Harrington and Richardson Model 949. H&R has been in business in one form or another since 1871 and has been known for making fairly inexpensive firearms, specifically single shot shotguns and revolvers, that work. The H&R 949, chambered in 22 Long Rifle, was manufactured from 1960 to 1985 in order to capitalize on the Western craze that was sweeping the nation at the time. Several firearms manufacturers were producing variants of the old six -shooters and lever action rifles that starred prominently on the TV shows that were playing at the time and H&R wanted a piece of the pie. Since H&R already had a large selection of revolvers in already in production to base their new pistol off of, they simply updated their existing Model 922 to fit the trending style

The 949 is on the outside, a very typical looking Western-style revolver, with its big blade front sight, loading gate, ejector rod and hand filling walnut grips. A closer look reveals that this is not your run of the mill six-shooter. For one, it is a nine-shooter. Yes that’s right folks, this little chunk of blued steel and wood has nine holes in the cylinder for nine 22 caliber pills to rest. The other big difference is that this revolver is also double action, meaning that you do not have to cock the hammer every time you wish to shoot, you can just pull the trigger.

First Impressions

At first look, the revolver might be mistaken for a larger caliber. It has a full five and half inch barrel and weighs 31 ounces. The wood stocks completely fill up your hand, and fit just like the old familiar Colt Single Action Army. This dwarfs a Ruger Bearcat enormously and is very comparable in size, if not a bit bigger, than a Single Six. The large size is not a detriment, in my opinion, it is comforting. The entire pistol, save for the brass ejector rod is steel, including, surprisingly enough, the ejector housing. This is a sturdy, well built pistol that does not need to be babied. On that note, it is not a handsome handgun either. It has no sleek lines or sensuous curves, but it works, and works well. The big front blade sights sticks up prominently on the end of the barrel while the rear sight is a square notch affair that is drift adjustable in the top of the frame. The firing pin is hammer mounted, so keep that in mind if you pack this revolver.IMG_1060

I should mention that this particular handgun was made in 1971. This is important to note as later versions of this pistol did include a transfer bar and frame mounted firing pin, a six shot cylinder, and Partridge style sights, probably in a bid to compete more directly with the Ruger Single Six. To load the pistol, you simply put the hammer on half cock, open the loading gate and rotate the cylinder, dropping a shell in each chamber. To unload you go through the same motions and then align the cylinder chamber with the ejector rod and push up on the ejector rod. To remove the cylinder for cleaning, you simply pull on the cylinder retaining pin, which is held firmly in place by a ball bearing detent. The single action trigger broke cleanly at 4lbs 4 oz consistently, while the double action pull is considerably stiffer at 12 lbs even. However, I cannot see how often the DA feature would be used that much to begin with, so it is a non-issue for me.

On The Range

Before I go too far into how it shot, I should talk about my criteria, at least for this pistol. I shot 5 shot groups, with the butt of the pistol on the bench, at 25 yards. The reason why I chose 25 yards is because I think that is a more realistic distance for the ranges that this pistol would be used for, i.e small game hunting, than say the seven yard range that seems to predominate pistol shooting these days. I think that 25 yards really opens up a pistol’s potential, and showcases a shooter’s bad habits a lot better than the seven yard range. I am also not the world’s best pistol shot, So if my groups seem looks like crud to you, remember to not blame the gun.

Anyways! I shot 4 different kinds of 22 L.R. in this pistol and chronographed the results. The ammo I used that had the best results was Remington Thunderbolt, 36 grain, advertised velocity 1260 fps; and Federal High Velocity, also 36 grain, advertised velocity 1280 fps. From the Remington Thunderbolt I got an average velocity of 948 fps, and from the Federal I got an average of 1036fps. Advertised velocity on 22 L.R. is typically derived from rifle length barrels, so a pistol, especially a revolver with a cylinder gap will have a considerably lower actual velocity. Both ammo brands shot groups that averaged consistently in the 2.5 to 2.75 inch range, which is fantastic in my opinion. This is definitely MOS (minute of squirrel) accuracy in my neck of the woods. I will note that the pistol also shot about 2 to 2.5 inches low at 25 yards, which I think had to do with my sight picture: I was aligning the blade and rear notch as you would a typical 3-dot sight system, when I think you should probably take a more Partridge-style sight picture, with the blade peaking over the rear notch.

Final Thoughts

After having spent some quality time with this old revolver I can say that it is definitely a keeper. It is accurate, fun to shoot, well built, and very versatile. This revolver would be a perfect addition on hiking trips, hunting and fishing excursions, and introducing the young’uns to shooting. It is capable of feeding and extracting all types of 22 Long Rifle, 22 Long, 22 Short, 22 CB, 22 Shotshell and as such can handle a variety of situations. Even though these have long since been out of production they are fairly common at your local gun stores and pawn shops and are relatively inexpensive with the worst ones going for just under $100 and a mint example going for $300. I can say that H&R did right by this one, and it would definitely be a pistol I’d get again.

Stats

Name:      H&R 949                   Action:      Double Action Revolver                Barrel Length:     5.5 in

Caliber:    22 Long Rifle         Weight:     31 oz.                                                        OA Length:           10.25 in

Capacity:  9                                  Trigger Pull:  4.25 lbs SA/ 12lbs DA               Sights:       Fixed Square Notch/ Fixed Blade

Price:        $100-300 used