About Tom McHale

Tom is the primary author of the Insanely Practical Guides series of how-to books. He believes that shooting can be safe and fun, and works hard to make the shooting world easy to understand. If you want to learn about the world of guns, shooting and the American way, check out some of his books. Have a laugh or two. Life is too short for boring "how to" books.

You can find print and ebook versions at Amazon. For more information, check out InsanelyPracticalGuides.com

Feel free to visit Tom at his website, MyGunCulture.com. It's a half-cocked but right on target look at the world of shooting and all things related. If you want to learn with a laugh about guns, shooting products, personal defense, competition, industry news and the occasional Second Amendment issue, visit him there.

You Might Be A Gun Control Activist If…

Gun-Control-911

You might be a gun control activist if…

You think Shannon watts makes a lot of sense if people would just listen to her.

You think that Shannon could deliver her message more effectively if she talked slow and loud, like you do when visiting foreign countries.

You’ve had a pot luck supper at Michael Bloomberg’s house.

You’ve smoked pot with Michael Bloomberg.

You think that the FBI has fudged crime statistics data for the past 20 years because Wayne LaPierre takes them out for CiCi’s pizza every Tuesday.

You’ve ever said “If it could save just one life…

You’ve never used the phrase “If it could save just one life” when it comes to drunk driving, swimming pool drownings, or car accidents.

You’ve ever uttered the words “If it could save just one life” while drinking a glass of wine by your swimming pool.

You’re convinced that law abiding citizens, who take a class, submit fingerprints, get probed by the FBI and wait months for a permit, are the root cause of drive by shootings.

You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than nuclear weapons, terrorism and the unchecked spread of Shake Weight use.

That millions of Americans who knew how to shoot didn’t make all that much difference when it came to winning World Wars I and II. Everyone knows the French turned the tide in our favor.

You believe that Riker’s Island inmates are more scared of “No guns allowed” signs than clowns, Freddie Kreuger or Rosie O’Donnell.

You choose not to remember that the biggest, baddest assault weapons in existence were owned by private citizens when the 2nd Amendment was written.

You believe you are 937 times more likely to die by spontaneous combustion or killer bunions if you have a gun in your home.

You think that the people with the least amount of relevant knowledge have all the great ideas.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

What a Difference a Trigger Makes

Will adding this to an AR rifle improve accuracy?

Will adding this to an AR rifle improve accuracy?

Gun shop wisdom says a good trigger makes all the difference.

It should be obvious that replacing the trigger doesn’t have any physical impact on a rifle’s accuracy. It’s not like it synchronizes barrel harmonics to the tune of “You’re So Vain” or anything. A trigger doesn’t touch the barrel or impact flight path, yet everyone swears it makes a rifle more accurate.

That’s kind of true. But it doesn’t make the rifle more accurate, it makes it easier for you, the shooter, to get the best accuracy that the rifle is capable of. This is an important distinction.

The reason is that pesky physics thing. When a rifle takes several pounds of pressure to break the shot, and the rifle itself only weighs several pounds, it’s gonna want to move, at least a little bit. A good trigger, with a smooth action and reasonably low pull weight, is going to make it easier for you to break the shot without moving the sight alignment of the rifle. When you’re trying to extract every last fraction of an inch of accuracy, a little bit of unwanted movement means a lot on the target.

According to John Vehr, President of Timney Triggers, “There is only one reason to upgrade a trigger in a firearm – to make you more accurate with the firearm.  A great trigger will allow you to become more accurate by eliminating physical factors like drag, creep and heaviness – Less movement equals better accuracy.  A great trigger will allow the shooter to make the act of pulling the trigger more of a mental decision that a physical decision.  A great trigger is an extension of the mind and should break exactly when the shooter calls for the shot.”

I shot groups with proven accurate handloads before and after the Timney Trigger installation.

I shot groups with proven accurate handloads before and after the Timney Trigger installation.

Gaining more practical accuracy by using a custom trigger sounds great in theory, but I wanted to put it to the test in a quantifiable way.

I decided to take two rifles of proven quality and accuracy, but with less than optimal triggers, and test their accuracy before and after a trigger upgrade. The folks at Timney Triggers sent me an AR-15 Competition trigger for the test. This trigger, the 3 pound 667 model, is a self-contained unit with drop-in installation.

My thought for the test was simple. Shoot groups of 5 shots each with each rifle with its standard factory trigger. While at the range, swap the trigger for the Timney AR-15 Competition trigger, and reshoot the groups. Same ammunition, same rest, same day, same atmospheric conditions and same shooter. When all was done, I figured on applying some common core math to compare the average group sizes before and after. Then I realized that this article was due in 2014, so I skipped the common core stuff and added, subtracted and averaged the old fashioned way.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

Sig Sauer’s Single Action Sensation: The P226 Elite SAO

That's right, there's no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

That’s right, there’s no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

I like action. Who doesn’t?

Single action. Traditional double action. Double action only. Striker-fired action. I like ‘em all. But I especially like single action handguns. Having only one thing to do, release the hammer, single actions tend to be easier to shoot accurately. Repeatable accuracy leads to confidence, and confidence is something I want in spades if I’m carrying a gun for protection.

With that goal in mind – a carry gun that inspires confidence – I checked out the new Sig Sauer Elite SAO. Unlike most traditional Sig Sauer pistols, this one is a single action – kind of like a 1911. Its got an ambidextrous safety lever. You carry it cocked and locked. In fact, outside of cosmetic differences, one of the few

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

observable things different from a 1911 is that the Sig has a hinged trigger while the 1911’s trigger moves straight back like a sliding door.

OK, so that’s some gross over-simplification. The Sig P226 Elite SAO has classic Sig internals – not the hinged recoil action and barrel bushing we’re accustomed to seeing in a 1911. Yet it offers the benefits of a constant, light trigger to aid in accurate shooting. Unlike the 1911, it offers a double stack magazine so you get 15 rounds of ammo, plus an extra in the chamber. Oh yeah, and it’s chambered in 9mm, not .45 ACP.

I keep mentioning 1911’s as a comparison, but if you want to get more specific, you can think of the Sig P226 Elite SAO as a combat version of the P226 X-5 Competition. While the X-5 Competition models are built as elite pistols for professional competitors, they’re not necessarily suited for defensive or combat use. You’ll find allen screws all over the place on a competition X-5 model as the design allows specific adjustment to nearly every aspect of the gun’s operation. Trigger weight, trigger travel, trigger over travel, trigger shape, magazine well style, compensators, flux capacitors and so on. You can also find similarity with the P226 X-5 Tactical model, but the Elite SAO has a 4.4 inch barrel instead of 5 inches. Corresponding overall length dimensions are shorter and weight of the Elite SAO is about one ounce less.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Thinking about getting a gun for personal or home defense? Or maybe for recreation or competition? Then you need to read this first!

Trijicon’s 300 Blackout Optic Offering: It’s Simple and Fast

While a bit slimmer, Trijicon's 300 AAC Blackout model shares many of the same features that made ACOG's so popular.

While a bit slimmer, Trijicon’s 300 AAC Blackout model shares many of the same features that made ACOG’s so popular.

The 300 AAC Blackout caliber is a nightmare for optics manufacturers.

Why? The range of possible projectiles and associated ballistics are crazy. 300 Blackout can be a flat shooting cartridge using a light bullet at 2,500 feet per second. It can be a thrown-brick projectile weighing 245 grains and traveling at 950 feet per second. It can also be just about anywhere in between those extremes.

Like classic ACOG's, the 300 Blackout model features dual illumination sources: fiber optic and tritium.

Like classic ACOG’s, the 300 Blackout model features dual illumination sources: fiber optic and tritium.

Imagine trying to design an optic with ballistic drop compensation (BDC). In plain English, BDC simply means that the reticle is pre-marked to show the hold point for a given distance. For example, if you’re shooting at a target 200 yards away, you just hold the 200 yard reticle mark on the target, and you should make a hit. That’s great in theory when you have a caliber with fairly standard performance over distance like the .223 Remington 55 grain projectile. When a caliber can fire a range of bullet weights ranging from 90 grains to 245 grains, things get tricky.

To put that in perspective, if you shoot a 300 Blackout cartridge with an 110 grain Barnes TAC-TX projectile, traveling at 2,500 feet per second, it will drop about 64 inches at 400 yards, assuming a zero yard zero. If you do the same thing with a 220 grain Sierra Matchking traveling at 1,050 feet per second, that bullet will drop almost 278 inches over the same distance.

The difference in drop between two difference loads in the exact same caliber is a whopping 214 inches. That’s 17.83 feet. To put that in visual terms that’s equivalent to 3.147 Michael Bloomberg’s stacked on top of each other or 4.13 AMC Gremlins. Sorry for two entirely different, yet equally scary, visuals.

Enter the Trijicon TA33-C 3×30 ACOG 300 AAC Blackout

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

Trijicon has taken a whack at this ballistic challenge by using a single reticle, but marking it with realistic and common hold points for both extremes of the 300 AAC Blackout performance range. We’ll get more into that in a minute.

Like other Trijicon ACOGs, the 300 Blackout model is a fixed power magnification design. This one offers straight 3x magnification, which is plenty sufficient for realistic subsonic and supersonic ranges.

The fixed magnification means no zoom rings or controls and generous eye relief, so it’s really fast and efficient. Also like most other Trijicon optics, it’s designed to use the Bindon aiming concept. In Trijicon’s words, “Human vision is based upon a binocular (two eyes) presentation of visual evidence to the brain.” In plain English, that means keep both eyes open. Your brain does magic brain stuff and you see your target with reticle superimposed. The reason is that the Trijicon uses a bright reticle, which allows your brain to merge the target image from your outside eye with the aim point visible through your “scope” eye.

Like other siblings in the ACOG family, this model has a dual illuminated reticle. The distinctive fiber optic tube across the top collects light to amplify the aim point when ambient light exists. An internal tritium lamp provides illumination in low light and pure dark conditions. No controls to turn on or adjust, you just use it, regardless of light conditions. My evaluation model came with a green reticle, but you can also choose amber or red if you like. The green reticle shows up plenty in broad daylight. In low light conditions, the visibility is even better.

Zeroing

For initial zeroing, the optic has two removable caps that cover the windage and elevation dials. Using a dime, empty cartridge case or screwdriver blade, move the dials as needed. Each click will adjust the point of impact by ¼ inch at 100 yards.The arrows on the adjustment dials indicate the direction you want the bullet to move on the target. Simple. My unit came pre-centered and only required a couple of clicks of windage and elevation adjustment to match the point of impact of my Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AAC Blackout rifle.

Windage and elevation adjustment dials are a one-time use affair, or whenever you significantly change your primary supersonic ammo choice.

Windage and elevation adjustment dials are a one-time use affair, or whenever you significantly change your primary supersonic ammo choice.

This ACOG includes a handy reference point on the reticle that simplifies zeroing. When installing on a new rifle, set a target at 25 yards. Instead of using the cross intersection as you would for a 100 yard target, use the pointed top of the long distance 300 meter post, which is the same as the top of the 50 yard subsonic diamond, as a hold point. If your shot impact matches that, the 100 yard zero using the cross above will be pretty close. Now move your target to 100 yards and verify that the 100 yard supersonic aim point matches point of impact.

The reticle

The reticle is simple, yet has both hold point (ballistic drop compensation) and basic ranging tools. It’s also parallax free so it works from zero to 600 meters without the need for parallax adjustment.

The ballistic drop compensation features are clever in their simplicity. Rather than cluttering up your view with lots of marks, Trijicon has figured out how to make the few marks that are there multitask. For example, the primary aim point for 100 yards (supersonic ammo) is a free-floating cross. For 200 yards, there is not a separate mark, you simply hold on the bottom of the crosses vertical post. Horizontal hash marks indicate 300, 400, 500 and 600 yard supersonic projectile hold points.

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

For subsonic rounds, there are two solid diamonds on top of the vertical bar: one above the 300 yard supersonic hold point and the other resting on the 400 yard hold. These are 50 and 100 yard holds for a standard subsonic round.

I zeroed the Trijicon at 100 yards with 110 grain supersonic ammunition. Then I popped in a subsonic rounds put the 50 yard whole point directly over the bullseye on a 50 yard target. The very first shot hit dead center, so that was encouraging.

The reticle also includes basic ranging indicators. The horizontal BDC marks vary in width to represent a 19 inch wide target. If a known object of 19 inches matches the width of one of the crossbars, there’s your range. If it’s in between two, you can guesstimate.

Closing Thoughts

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 300 Blackout model is a fast no-brainer solution. With fixed 3x magnification, there’s nothing to fiddle with. Raise your rifle, open your eyes and go. The two eyes open concept works great unless you’re cross-eye dominant and establishing aim is fast. The reticle offers enough granularity to hit reasonable sized targets out to a few hundred yards. For a tactical or home defense rifle, I do like the “always” on reticle lighting. In the daytime, the fiber optic tube makes the reticle glow brightly and in low light conditions, a tritium lamp lights it up. No batteries to run down and no switches to operate – it’s just on.

 

Ever thought about reloading your own ammunition? Then you might want to check out our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Reloading Ammunition. Practical, yet comprehensive advice and tips will get you started in no time!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Lesson In Flexibility

Beretta's ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

Beretta’s ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

There’s ambidextrous, and there’s ambidextrous.

Some rifles have safety levers on one side, or at least a safety lever that can be relocated to the opposite side of the frame. Others might have a way to move the magazine release button or even bolt release to the opposite side.

The Beretta ARX100 takes configuration flexibility to a whole new level.

The left side looks... almost exactly like the right side.

The left side looks… almost exactly like the right side.

I just got my hands on a sample unit of this rifle and have been shooting it, taking it apart, and shooting it some more. Rather than waste words here with the specs like weight and length – you can find those here – I’ll focus on how this rifle operates and handles.

For starters, let’s take a look at the many components of what I think is the ARX100’s standout feature: flexibility.

Barrel

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

You can swap barrels on a standard AR-type rifle, it just takes some doing.

On the Beretta ARX100 with its default 16-inch barrel, it takes no doing and no tools. Just move the bolt to the maintenance position – I’ll describe that in a minute. Then you can pull two spring-loaded levers downward, and the barrel and extension will release and pull right out the front of the stock. The gas piston assembly comes out attached to the barrel.

The process could not be easier. Unlike an AR-type rifle, you have complete and unobstructed access to the barrel and extension with all those nooks and crannies for easy cleaning. Wow. Impressive simplicity and functional too.

Seeing how this works, I was concerned about the ARX’s ability to hold zero through a barrel change. Hold that thought until we get to the shooting report.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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Shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun in the Dark

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

Recently I wrote about my first experiences with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. I love the “shotgun carbine” idea of a short, light and handy defensive shotgun. What I didn’t get into before was the idea that if you ever had to use a defensive shotgun, it would probably be in the middle of the night, meaning in the dark.

I decided to take a shot at gearing up the Beretta 1301 for night time use and testing it in dark conditions. The perfect opportunity was the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. If you’re not familiar, it’s a three gun event with one important twist of the rules. The competition takes places in the middle of the desert outside of Bend, Oregon, but the shooting doesn’t start until after 9pm. If you haven’t been in the middle of the high desert in the middle of the night recently, I can tell you, it’s dark. Really dark. No residual light from nearby towns. No street lights. Heck, the range doesn’t even have electricity or running water. When the International Space Station passes overhead, they have to pause the match because of the glare.

Anyway, in preparation for my midnight rendezvous, I added some goodies to the Beretta 1301. 

First, I called the nice folks at Crimson Trace and politely explained to them that since I was risking life and limb to compete in this match, they should loan me a light or laser for the shotgun. They sent a Rail Master Pro, which offers both 100 lumen light and a red laser that activates with a simple paddle switch. You can configure the light and laser to operate in different modes – a strobe light, for example, but set mine up so that movement of the paddle would turn on both light and laser until i hit the paddle again to turn them off. I mounted this on the barrel with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension and barrel clamp with rail so that I could reach it with my support hand. As I’m right-handed, I put it on the right side of the barrel, so it’s out of the way of my support hand grip, but easily accessible with my support hand fingers when I want to flip it on.

Next, I called Kristi at Aimpoint. Like my Aimpoint PRO, Kristi has never let me down when it comes to good advice about optics. She loaned me an Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic. I guessed that it would line up perfectly with the iron sights on the. Beretta 1301 and it did. I could see the iron sights through the bottom half of the Aimpoint Micro. If my optic ever failed, then I would have a backup option of using the iron sights. This seemed like a good idea until Kristi reminded me that the whole deal about Aimpoint optics is that the batteries run 75% of forever. In this case, you can leave the Micro on for about 5 years non-stop. I figured I could remember to change batteries every couple of years or so to avoid any risk of downtime. 

Aimpoint_Micro_H1_Beretta_1301_Tactical-1

The Aimpoint Micro H1 mounted on the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s rail.

Now, when I turn out the lights, I have a compact shotgun with a forward-looking tactical light and I see two red dots out yonder – one from the laser and the other from the Aimpoint. 

For ammo, the choice was easy. I needed something reliable with shot size with a dense enough pattern to break stationary and flying clays at high speed, but with enough “oomph” to knock down steel targets with one shot. I chose Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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Shooting In The Dark: Reports From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Everybody knows siblings shouldn't share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

Everybody knows siblings shouldn’t share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

As I write this, I’m coming down off a major high. I’m sitting on an airplane on the way back home from the high desert miles outside of the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon.

I’ve been out there all week at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. Like last year, the event was held at the COSSA range which is located miles and miles from nowhere. This works out pretty well as neighbors in more populated areas might get a bit upset about hearing gunfire all night long for four straight nights.

The event runs most of the week with two consecutive matches. Wednesday and Thursday, media members and the volunteer range officer staff shoot together. This allows the range staff to shoot the whole match, yet be available for dedicated range safety and logistics duties when the professionals shoot Friday and Saturday nights. All results from the two matches are consolidated into a single overall results tabulation, so everyone is eligible for the same prizes regardless of which nights they shoot.

As the name implies, shooting doesn’t even start until it’s fully dark. Competitors, range staff, media and visitors are all required to illuminate themselves with chemical glow sticks. One on the front and one on the back ensures that anyone still downrange from a target refresh will be clearly visible. As a result of the range staff’s care and attention to detail, the event boasts a perfect safety record.

Crimson_Trace_M3GI-32

Lanny Barnes blasts a clay target with her Beretta 1301 Competition. Or is that Tracy’s gun?

As a media hack, I shot the Wednesday and Thursday match. One of my goals was to really kick the tires of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I’ve been evaluating. In my next article, I’ll go into detail about how I configured it for nighttime use, but for now, I’ll note the following. I chose the Tactical version even though there is a 1301 Competition model that offers competitive tweaks like higher shell capacity and larger loading port. The environment was great for really exercising a defensive shotgun – dirty, dusty and dark. Three of us shared the Beretta 1301 Tactical as wanted to run as much ammo through it as possible during the match. Since receiving the gun, I haven’t cleaned it, nor did I do any maintenance during the match. No matter, it ran like a champ with zero malfunctions of any kind. The super compact design of this gun made shooting and moving very easy. I chose to run first rate shotshells through the gun as a prize table was on the line. I used Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot. I could stuff seven shells into the magazine tube plus one more in the chamber. More importantly, the 1 1/8 ounce shot load knocked down steel with authority. The pattern from the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s cylinder bore was even and blew up the clay targets consistently.

One of the benefits of shooting the pre-match was that I could focus on following the big shots during the main match. Big shots like Tracy and Lanny Barnes. You know them, right? Yeah, they are (now retired) Olympic biathletes, so they know a thing or two about shooting under stress and conditioning. You might also recognize the name as Tracy is a writer right here at Beretta USA. Tracy and Lanny both used the Beretta 1301 Competition shotguns. I’m convinced that my deliberate choice to use the 1301 Tactical, with its lower shell capacity, is the only possible explanation for Tracy and Lanny blowing right past my scores in the first few minutes of the competition. But let’s move away from that topic. At least I got some great trigger time with my home defense gun.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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A Closer Look at the SilencerCo SWR Octane Pistol Suppressor

SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 mounted on a Glock 26

SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 mounted on a Glock 26

After waiting long enough for three additional square inches of my hair to turn gray, I finally received my permission slip from the BATFE to take possession of my SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor. Having collected dust in my local FFL’s safe for over 10 months, it’s now mine.

The Octane is a silencer made by SilencerCo, or more accurately SWR. SWR is now a part of SilencerCo, although the brand still appears. The Octane model is designed for pistol calibers, yet is rated for full automatic pistol caliber carbine use. It can also be used in the 300 AAC Blackout, provided you stick to subsonic rounds – it’s not rated for supersonic projectiles. If you try to fire supersonic cartridges through it, the moon is likely to plummet into downtown Possum Kingdom, South Carolina. But seriously, don’t do it. It’s not made for those high-pressure spikes.

Caliber choices

The Octane is available in 9 mm and 45 ACP. I chose the 45 model for flexibility. You can shoot 9 mm, 40 caliber, 45 caliber, 300 Blackout or even 380 ACP. You can also use it on a .22, but that might be a bit silly given the size of the unit.

The only drawback to using the 45 model with smaller calibers is that you lose a couple of decibels of sound reduction because it has a bigger hole in the front. For me, that trade-off was easy. I have incredible flexibility on which guns I can mount a suppressor. Buy one, and cover all of your compatible handguns.

By purchasing different pistons and/or fixed mounts, you can use the Octane 45 with a variety of pistol calibers.

By purchasing different pistons and/or fixed mounts, you can use the Octane 45 with a variety of pistol calibers.

Shooting silently

I’ve used the SilencerCo SWR Octane 45 on four different guns so far including a Glock 26, a Glock 31, a Beretta 92FS and a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout rifle.

For use with the Glock pistols, I used Lone Wolf threaded barrels. These not only provided extra length and threading for silencer attachment, they also use traditional rifling which allows for more liberal use of lead bullets in the Glock. In the case of the Glock 31, which is a .357 Sig chambering, I cheated a bit and ordered a Lone Wolf .40 S&W threaded barrel. As magazines and recoil springs functionally the same, this barrel swap converted my .357 Sig to a .40 S&W. A Glock 31 is now a Glock 22, at least until I swap the barrels again. One more thing on the Glock configurations. Use of Crimson Trace Lasergrips on both models allowed for a great sighing option. The laser is offset just enough to bypass the suppressor.

I converted this Glock 31 to a Glock 22 using a Lone Wolf threaded barrel. It worked beautifully with Winchester Train subsonic ammunition.

I converted this Glock 31 to a Glock 22 using a Lone Wolf threaded barrel. It worked beautifully with Winchester Train subsonic ammunition.

The Beretta 92FS solution is relatively simple. The 92FS doesn’t come with a threaded barrel, but the barrel does extend far enough past the slide to allow a qualified gunsmith to add threading. Companies like Gem-Tech or Tornado Technologies can thread your existing barrel, or you can buy a second barrel which is pre-threaded and that’s what I elected to do so I could keep my factory barrel in its original configuration. Oh, the Crimson Trace Lasergrip solution works great on the Beretta 92FS as well.

A classic combination: Beretta 92FS + Silencer

A classic combination: Beretta 92FS + Silencer

The Daniel Defense rifle was the easiest of all to configure. Remember, the Octane 45 is a pistol silencer, so use subsonic ammo only if mounting it on a 300 Blackout rifle. Using some heat to loosen the factory Loctite, I removed the flash suppressor and direct mounted the silencer using a fixed mount on the Octane. Be sure not to use the compression washer that might already be in place as that can prevent your silencer from mounting perfectly parallel to the bore.

The standard Beretta 92FS barrel extends far enough past the slide to add threading.

The standard Beretta 92FS barrel extends far enough past the slide to add threading.

While any pistol ammo is fun with a silencer, the best solution is subsonic ammo. For the 9mm guns, I particularly liked American Eagle’s 147 grain flat point full metal jacket ammo. With a velocity of about 950 feet per second, it was super quiet using the Octane. Function was also perfect in both the Glock 26 and Beretta 92FS.

For the Glock 31, now converted into a Glock 22, I used subsonic hand loads and .40 caliber Winchester Train ammo. Use of an 180 grain projectile at 925 feet per second resulted in some seriously quiet shooting.

For the 300 Blackout, I used a variety of hand loads constructed with 220 grain Sierra Matchking bullets and factory ammo from Gorilla Ammunition. Gorilla offers a great subsonic round made with Hornady 208 grain A-MAX bullets.

Pieces and parts

Figuring out what parts you need is a little bit confusing. Let me see if I can simplify things here.

First, you will need to know which kind of mount you need based on your gun’s design. Your gun will come in one of two configurations. Either the barrel will be fixed to the frame, and not move upon firing or it will have a recoil operated action where the barrel moves, tilts or rotates as part of the recoil process.

If you have a recoil operated action gun, things are a little complex. Successful operation of a semi-automatic handgun requires many forces to balance in perfect harmony. When the cartridge fires, the slide moves backward a short distance, carrying the barrel with it. The barrel tilts downward, disconnecting from the slide, and the slide then continues on it’s own all the way to the back of it’s cycle. At this point, the recoil spring starts to push the slide forward again. This choreographed movement of the bang-bang process has to be perfect for a gun to function reliably every time.

Adding the weight of the silencer to the barrel can disrupt this perfectly orchestrated routine. So now, when the gun recoils it has to drag the weight of the silencer along with it. The rearward travel may be slower to the point of not completing the cycle. Forward motion from recoil spring pressure may also be slowed.

The solution in the case of the SilencerCo SWR Octane is what’s called a booster mount.

The booster mount makes this Glock 26 function perfectly.

The booster mount makes this Glock 26 function perfectly.

Instead of a rigid connection to the barrel, a free-floated pistol is connected to the gun barrel. The pistol is spring mounted inside the silencer body, allowing movement back and forth. The piston can actually move a little bit, with resistance provided by the spring. The spring action of the pistol inside the silencer actually assists the recoil action of the gun, increasing the likelihood of reliable function.

Here’s how the pistol system works. Pardon the complete bastardization of scientific principles OK?

If you hold the pistol frame with one hand and pull the silencer away from the gun with the other, the piston remains fixed in position, but the silencer body and internals move away from the bore under pistol spring tension. When you fire the gun, the explosion of hot gas coming out the muzzle pushes the body of the suppressor forward against booster spring pressure. At that point, the suppressor piston spring starts to bring the body of a suppressor backwards. This is a good thing, as the barrel is also wanting to move backward as part of the recoil action. The net result is that the silencer is moving on its own, so the barrel doesn’t assume the full burden of lugging the extra weight. All this fancy movement make sure that your gun cycles correctly.

The piston is the only part that attaches to your gun barrel by design. This means you can use one suppressor with multiple pistons to fit different gun barrel diameters and threading types. I ordered three different pistons for the Octane 45 so I can mount it on 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP barrels. Pistons are inexpensive and not regulated like the suppressor body, so you can get them anytime.

Now let’s talk about the other scenario for a minute – a fixed barrel situation.

When the barrel doesn’t move, you don’t want to use a booster. Like the barrel, you want the silencer fixed in place. Rather than using a pistol and spring, you order a fixed mount that is rigidly attached to the silencer body without use of a spring or piston. Using a piston in a fixed barrel scenario will beat up your expensive silencer.

Make sense?

Maintenance

The SilencerCo SWR Octane is designed for easy maintenance. As you can see by the photos here, the insides are easily removed for cleaning and maintenance. The interior baffle structure is made of a series of connecting pieces that come apart when removed from the silencer body. If you want to clean the easy way, take the unit apart and dump the interior pieces into an ultrasonic cleaner like the Lyman Turbo Sonic cleaner like the one I use. Use the ultrasonic on the internals only – clean the body and end caps by hand.

All of the guts are easily removable for cleaning. That's especially important if you shoot lead bullets.

All of the guts are easily removable for cleaning. That’s especially important if you shoot lead bullets.

You won’t need to obsess about cleaning your suppressor, but if you like to shoot lead bullets, you will need to deal with that more frequently. I’ve cleaned mine once, mainly out of curiosity, and have fired somewhere north of one thousands rounds of mixed ammo through it. No worries.

Closing thoughts

The most surprising thing about adding a pistol silencer to my collection is how it changes the whole feel of shooting. The sharp bangs turn to more of a whoosh. You can hear bullets zinging through the air. Recoil feels less abrupt. Newer shooters are less likely to flinch. Depending on your ammo selection, you may be able to remove hearing protection.

All in all, use of a silencer dramatically improves your shooting experience. Bite the bullet. Pay the feds their highway robbery extortion of $200. Get one.

Top Shooting Gear Finds From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

One of the highlights of the annual Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational is schmoozing time with the match sponsors. With more than 40 different companies present, I had many company reps to pester. Unlike chaotic events like SHOT Show or the NRA Annual Meeting, the M3GI has plenty of daylight hours (shooting is only at night remember), and the folks are captive at the remote location. Sponsors can’t run or hide; they simply have to tolerate my endless questions and make the best of it.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds at this years Midnight 3 Gun Event.

Smith Wesson 929 Performance Center Revolver

Look at the lead photo in this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Got it? Now tell me how anyone can pick that up and not immediately try for the 50 yard steel plates. That’s exactly what I did. I’m not the world’s best shot, but I hit it from a standing position nearly every time.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center is a 9mm revolver with 8 round capacity in the wheel. Since it uses rimless 9mm ammo, you use moon clips to load the cylinder. Weighing in at a hefty 44 ounces, the 929 is plenty stable for offhand shooting. The 6.5 inch barrel and corresponding long sight radius makes steady sight picture a snap. It’s a Performance Center model and Jerry Miculek signature design. I want one.

I2 Technologies and Systems Integrations Binocular Night Vision System

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

I2 (pronounced eye-squared) brought about a billion dollars worth of leading edge night vision gear. They are innovators in complete, integrated night vision systems. Their primary wares at the M3GI were helmets equipped with dual PVS-14 mounts. Two PVS-14 Gen 3 night vision monoculars are configured into an adjustable, quick-release helmet mount. This gives the wearer broader peripheral vision, and more importantly, depth perception. Competitors had the good fortune of cleaning a “house” in the pitch dark with a Gem-Tech suppressed Glock and suppressed, full-auto PWS 300 Blackout SBR. After that, one had to clear the “back yard” with a shotgun. A truly awesome stage.

One of the neat little details I learned was that, due to the weight of the gear, you have to configure the helmet with a one pound counterweight on the rear, else you’ll be staring straight at the ground. You can get your own ready-to-go rig like this for just over $7,000. Got a birthday coming up?

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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A Big Little Surprise From Smith & Wesson: The New M&P22 Compact Pistol

Smith & Wesson's new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Smith & Wesson’s new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Yeah, I know, .22LR ammo is impossible to find. But the situation is getting better, and this fun new pistol comes with a starting supply of ammunition – 222 rounds of Winchester to be exact. Yep, it’s your birthday!

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it's just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it’s just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

If you keep up with the .22LR pistol market, you know that Smith & Wesson announced the original M&P22 .22LR pistol way back in 2011. Technically, the original model was an adopted child through partnership with Walther. The pistol was made by Walther, imported and marketed under a partnership arrangement between Smith & Wesson and Walther.

Since then, the companies have moved into more independent ventures, amicably I might add, and now Smith & Wesson has produced a natural born child – the M&P22 Compact. Unlike its predecessor, the new M&P22 Compact model is entirely American made by Smith & Wesson. And it’s not just a scaled down version of the original. The new compact model has been largely redesigned – a quick look at the inside will show you new internals including trigger transfer bar, extractor, ejector, firing pin and feed ramp. Speaking of feed ramps, one of the design goals of the new pistol was reliability with a broad range of ammunition. More on that later.

The specs

Like most .22LR pistols, this one is a blowback design with a fixed barrel. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism with solid safety levers on both sides of the frame. As a side note, the safety levers are now metal with a plastic over mold and noticeably more solid than those on the original M&P22.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

Here are the basic specs:

Overall Length: 6.7 inches
Barrel Length: 3.6 inches
Barrel Rifling 1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand
Overall Height (including sights): 5.0 inches
Overall Width (with controls): 1.5 inches
Total Empty Weight: 17.0 oz.

The pistol has a threaded barrel, but you won’t notice that at casual glance as the threaded portion and thread protector cap are internal to the slide. This means that you will need an adapter to extend 1/2×28 threads past the muzzle so you can attach a silencer. If you have an original model M&P22 be aware that the barrel threading is now larger, so you’ll need a new adapter.

In addition to ambidextrous safety levers, the M&P22 Compact has a magazine release button that can easily be moved to the opposite side, so the pistol is friendly to righties and lefties.

Sights are standard dovetailed post and notch with three bright white dots. The rear sight has also been redesigned to be more easily adjustable so point of impact can be tuned to your specific choice of ammo.

Other features include a front rail for lights and lasers (don’t laugh, this makes an excellent rodent gun, trust me, I know!), two (10) round magazines and a loaded chamber indicator hole in the top of the slide.

The trigger is more of a service gun style as compared to a target pistol, and I think that’s part of the goal of the Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. Comparable in size to a shield, it makes a low(er) cost option for training. The trigger has about ⅓ of an inch of take up, followed by a break at just under six pounds of pressure.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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