The Making of an All-American Boot

What else would my official tour guides be wearing other than Danner Mountain Cascade boots? You'll see these in the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Wild, hitting theaters December 5th.

What else would my official tour guides be wearing other than Danner Mountain Cascade boots? You’ll see these in the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Wild, hitting theaters December 5th.

Few things are more personal than boots.

Perhaps the deep emotional attachment stems from the fact that feet are our primary attachment to Mother Earth, barring any unintended face plants from overindulgence or clumsiness. Or maybe it’s a result of the activities we do in our boots: work, hike, hunt, shoot, walk, run, sleep (sometimes) and who knows what else.

In any case, plenty of us have a love / hate relationship with our footwear. I hate shoes, but I love boots. My feet just aren’t comfortable in anything else. Some people laugh at me because I wear my Danner Tanicus boots almost all the time. They think I’m trying to be all G.I. Joe, but the real reason is that it feels good to wear those giant pillows on my feet – I don’t care if I am wearing shorts or a suit.

A small sampling of some of the stitch down styles made at the Danner Portland, OR facility.

A small sampling of some of the stitch down styles made at the Danner Portland, OR facility.

My boot fetish led me to seize the opportunity to tour the Danner boot factory in Portland, Oregon a few weeks back. One of my favorite parts of this job is touring factories, seeing how products are made and meeting the people who make them. Danner didn’t let me down. Who knew that the process of making footwear could be so darn interesting? Seeing all that goes into the making of my boots also explained why a great pair can cost a few hundred bucks – and be well worth the money.

We’ll focus on the classic stitch down styles that are generally made right here in the US of A. Why stitch down? Because those fancy leather upper sections that you work so hard to break in just right can be reattached to new soles when you wear those out. They also provide a more durable and stable platform on which to walk. We’ll talk more about that later.

Let’s walk through the manufacturing process. Ha! See what I did there?

Call in the cows

Come on, we can’t talk about a classic boot that’s not made of leather, right? When I toured the Galco Gunleather factory, I was blown away by the amount of leather they use. Now I’m not so sure who uses more quality hides.

Each and every half-cow is hand inspected and areas with blemishes or other irregularities are marked so they aren’t used as a boot upper. Cosmetics are important, but you really don’t want a weak spot in the leather to be used in your boot. Testing is done on each hide to grade thickness, tensile strength and adhesion of any colorings or coatings.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Alien Gear’s IWB / OWB Modular Holster: The Cloak Tuck 2.0

This Cloak Tuck 2.0 model came configured as an IWB but included an OWB panel too (left)

This Cloak Tuck 2.0 model came configured as an IWB but included an OWB panel too (left)

In the holster market, newcomers are companies in the business for only a few decades. So I suppose Alien Gear, having been around just under two years, is a certified spring chicken.

The company has grown faster than the congressional benefits plan, and the reasons why must include the comfort and flexibility of their holster designs. I recently received an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 IWB holster for a Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm equipped with a Crimson Trace Laserguard LG-489. The company also included the OWB panel, which allows this holster to be converted to a leather-backed outside the waistband model, but more on that later.

Modularity

The IWB Cloak Tuck 2.0 in use with standard belt clips.

The IWB Cloak Tuck 2.0 in use with standard belt clips.

To understand the rest of the description of Alien Gear holsters, you have to understand the modular design. Simply put, think of the concept as two interchangeable parts: the back panel and the holster shell. Backings are available in different materials and choice of inside or outside the waistband designs. Holster shells attach to the backings with four T nuts and are interchangeable with any backing.

The idea is, that like a good pair of leather upper boots that you can re-sole over time, you can use the backing you prefer, and swap out holster shells when you switch to a different gun.

With any given gun, you can also swap out backings. For example, this evaluation holster came to me configured as an inside the waistband model. However, also in the box was an outside the waistband backing. For OWB holsters, Alien Gear uses a leather panel equipped with four T nuts in the same pattern as the OWB designs, so the IWB gun shell can be attached in a similar fashion. Leather loops are attached to the backing for belt attachment.

The last function that the modular design handles is retention strength.The plastic gun shell screws to the backing through four rubber washers. Tightening or loosening the entire shell sets the level of friction retention you want.

Construction

The 2.0 model has a neoprene backing for moisture resistance and comfort.

The 2.0 model has a neoprene backing for moisture resistance and comfort.

The difference between the Cloak Tuck 2.0 and original Cloak Tuck models is the material used for the large back panel. The original Cloak Tuck uses a leather panel, while the new 2.0 version utilizes neoprene with a synthetic surface on the outside. The idea behind the new neoprene backing is that the entire backing will better shape to your body and create a waterproof barrier between the gun and your body.

The gun shell itself is molded from thick Kydex. The lower edges that surround the muzzle area are rounded part way over the muzzle area of the gun. This nice extra touch prevents sharp edges from your front sight, barrel or slide from wearing holes into your clothes. I also noticed that the company takes the extra time to polish all edges of the Kydex shell so there are no sharp or abrasive surfaces.

Attachment Options

Right to left: Standard belt clips, leather snap loop, C clip and J clip.

Right to left: Standard belt clips, leather snap loop, C clip and J clip.

The Alien Gear IWB holster comes with standard Kydex clips that loop over the top of the belt and catch the bottom of the belt. They’re tuckable and very secure, but you will see the front section of the clip lying on top of the belt.

If you want more concealment, Alien Gear offers a variety of optional clips:

C clips are also tuckable, but only hook on to the top and bottom of the belt, so only small nubs are visible at the top and bottom of the belt. It’s doubtful that anyone would notice them, especially if you’re wearing a black colored belt.

J clips hook on the bottom of the belt only. They even more discreet than the C clips, and quite a bit easier to mount on your belt.

Leather snap loops also offer touchable security, but you’ll see the leather strap on the front of the belt. On the plus side, the snaps allow you to take the holster on and off without threading your belt through the loops.

Other clip options include metal and brown colored clips to better match belt colors.

Holster Insurance

You gotta love the service attitude of most companies in the shooting industry, and Alien Gear is no different. When you buy an Alien Gear, you’ve got three levels of “holster insurance.”

You’ve got 30 days to break it in. If you decide you don’t like it, they’ll buy it back from you. Holsters definitely have a break in period as they shape to the gun, your body shape, and your movements. Most holsters will not be all that comfortable until you wear them a while, so I’m glad to see the Alien Gear folks give you some trial time.

The modular design of these holsters means that the gun pocket and back panel are independent parts. You can break in the body section and swap out the portion that holds your gun. Alien Gear will let you trade in the plastic shell portion for a different gun shape. If you upgrade from a .32 to a .45 or downgrade from a Desert Eagle to a Ruger LCP, you’re covered.

A lifetime warranty backs it all up. If you ever have a problem, give them a call to get it straightened out.

Closing Thoughts

While I’ve read about Alien Gear holsters and seen the catchy ads, I was still pleasantly surprised at the attention to detail in construction.

The modular features are interesting. Swapping out the back would certainly be feasible if, for example, you normally carried inside the waistband and wanted to do a quick conversation to OWB for a class or competition. It’s not something I would want to do daily, but for occasional use, it would make sense given that it only takes a few minutes to do the swap. The ability to trade gun pockets for no charge is also a nice feature for those wanting to upgrade to a different carry gun.

Check ‘em out to see what they’ve got for your carry gun.

More about holsters for concealed carry

If you want to learn a whole lot more about concealed carry holsters, methods of carry and pros and cons of different holster designs, check out our Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters book!

New Smith & Wesson M&P Laser from Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace LG-360

New from Crimson Trace is a green Laserguard for Smith & Wesson full-size and compact pistols. The new super-small LG-360G unit even features scalloped design to match the host gun’s slide serration pattern.

From the company:

Crimson Trace, America’s leading brand in laser sighting systems and tactical lights for firearms, will soon release the LG-360G –a new Laserguard® equipped with a powerful Crimson Trace green laser. This Laserguard is engineered to perfectly fit over the trigger guard and rail system of the popular S&W M&P full-size and compact pistols, and it features Crimson Trace’s Instinctive Activation™ with a pressure sensitive touch pad under the trigger guard. The new LG-360G will also provide the user with a master on/off switch to permit user preferences on when the laser can be engaged—or disengaged.

The Laserguard LG-360G features a unique set of inset scallops that match the in-the-metal patterns found along a portion of the pistol’s slide. Those scallops, along with seamless integration, combine to make the new LG-360G have a factory-built appeal and appearance. This new Laserguard will also permit windage and elevation adjustments that can be easily accomplished with the provided tools. This laser sight can be easily installed by the buyer in a few minutes without any special gunsmithing tools, and it will be covered under Crimson Trace’s popular Free Batteries for Life program.

The Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price for the LG-360G will be $299.

A Spiffy Upgrade for the Ruger 10/22

In about ten minutes, you can replace the standard Ruger 10/22 trigger and magazine release with an upgraded model.

In about ten minutes, you can replace the standard Ruger 10/22 trigger and magazine release with an upgraded model.

I love the Ruger 10/22 rifle. It’s a sweet handling little semi-automatic that you’ll enjoy whether young or old, experienced shooter or not. It qualifies as one of those guns you’ll use your whole life, then pass down to the next generation.

I have to qualify just a bit as there is one part I don’t really care for. That’s the magazine release. The Ruger 10/22 comes standard with a 10-round rotary magazine that fits completely inside of the stock. You can get larger magazines of course, but part of what makes the 10/22 special is its 10-round capacity with no extra bulk. It’s the standard magazine release lever that just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a non-traditional curved lever, in front of the trigger guard, that you push forward to drop the magazine from the rifle. I find it somewhat awkward and non-intuitive.

One of the neat things about the Ruger 10/22 is that it’s been so popular, that companies have developed all sorts of aftermarket accessories and upgrades. For example, you can replace that standard magazine release lever. Better yet, you can get a modular unit that upgrades the trigger and improves magazine release.

I’ve got a standard Ruger 10/22 Carbine that’s itching for some custom work, so I decided to upgrade the trigger and magazine release with a Timney Triggers Ruger 10/22 replacement trigger set. This is a drop-in replacement for the entire action, so trigger, hammer, springs and magazine release assembly are all new. The magazine release is a lever that wraps around the bottom of the trigger guard all the way to the back. You operate it with a quick flick downward with your middle finger. It’s fast and positive.

How to Replace the Trigger and Magazine Release on the Ruger 10/22

Installation is easy. All you need is a flat head screwdriver and something to punch out the trigger housing pins. I used a Real Avid Gun Tool for the whole operation. In fact, I did this upgrade at the range so I could test before and after performance under identical conditions.

Before you do anything, remove the magazine. Now make double sure that the chamber is empty. Put any nearby ammo elsewhere so there is no risk of inadvertently loading the gun. Now double check once more to make sure the gun is completely unloaded!

Timney Trigger Ruger 10-22-3 Loosen the screw in the bottom of the stock, just in front of the receiver. It will come all the way out. Now you can lift the barrel up and remove the barrel and receiver from the stock.
Timney Trigger Ruger 10-22-5 Completely remove the receiver from the stock. The entire trigger assembly is held in place with two punch pins. Oh, one more thing. See that big hole in the upper right of the receiver in this photo? That’s for a large bolt-stop pin. It likes to slip out, so make sure you don’t lose it.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Leupold’s 300 Blackout Offering: The Mark 4 MR/T 1.5-5x20mm

There’s a reason there are so few 300 Blackout optics on the market. It’s kinda hard to design a single reticle to handle the exceptionally broad range of ballistic performance of that cartridge while keeping the reticle clean and simple.

The turrets are calibrated for 1/2 minute of angle adjustment per click.

The turrets are calibrated for 1/2 minute of angle adjustment per click.

Let’s take a look at exactly what I mean by “broad range of ballistic performance.” For purposes of the trajectories shown in the table below, let’s assume a zero yard zero, and we’ll use two common and “representative” projectiles and “standard” velocities. For the supersonic load, we’ll show the flight path of a Barnes TAC-TX 110 grain bullet. I’ll assume a velocity of 2,500 feet per second. For the subsonic load, we’ll use the classic 220 grain Sierra Matchking and assume a traveling speed of 1,050 feet per second.

The purpose of the “zero yard zero” is to compare the absolute, unadjusted flight paths of the two rounds. Basically, we’re looking at shooting each round exactly parallel to the ground to see how it falls over distance.

300 AAC Blackout Trajectory

As you can see, the brick, I mean subsonic round, falls at about four times the rate of the supersonic. That’s a lot to account for. From an optics perspective, the most feasible plan is to design a reticle for the supersonic round and figure out a couple of realistic hold points for a short range trajectories of the subsonic round.

The Leupold offering is more of a scope tinkerer’s dream. With variable magnification and lots of fine lines in the reticle, you can get it to do whatever you want, out to very long ranges.

Leupold Mark 4 MR/T 1.5-5x20mm

The Leupold Mark 4 is a variable scope with the 300 AAC Blackout specific reticle in the first focal plane. This means that the reticle will grow and shrink as you adjust magnification. At low magnification levels, the inverted horseshoe acts like a red dot, especially with illumination on a high level. At higher magnification levels, you have a finely granulated reticle that provides moving target lead information, range estimation tools and holdover points for supersonic and subsonic loads.

The optic itself is all Leupold. It’s solid and all movements operate like clockwork. Flip up scope caps are provided that mount with rubber friction cups. Unlike others on the market, these stay in place until you want to take them off. The magnification dial is stays in place but is easy to rotate with one hand while keeping a firing grip on the rifle. The windage and elevation dials offer quiet, smooth and positive click adjustments, with each click representing ½ Minute of Angle (MOA) or ½ inch at 100 yards. One nice touch for windage and elevation adjustments is an engraved directional indicator that is visible from the back, telling you which way to twist to the dials to move point of impact up, down, left or right.

Subsonic on the left, supersonic on the right.

Subsonic on the left, supersonic on the right.

Let’s talk about the reticle for a minute. It’s engineered to show hold points for both supersonic and subsonic 300 AAC Blackout loads. Leupold’s approach is to split the reticle horizontally – the right side of center shows supersonic information while the left indicates subsonic. Just in case you forget, there is small and subtle hare engraved in the lower right and a tortoise on the lower left.

The supersonic (right side) markings indicate hold points from 100 to 900 yards with marks at each 100 yard increment. Each horizontal indicator bar is sized to represent an 18 inch wide target at the respective yardage length. For example, if the 400 yard hash mark appears to be the same width as an object you know to be about 18 inches wide, then that object is 400 yards down range. It’s a quick and easy ranging system.

On the subsonic (left) side, there are hash marks from 100 to 400 yards with a line at each 100 yard increment in that range. There is not a 50 yard indicator per se, but between the center dot and bottom of the inverted horseshoe, you can do a quick test to find short range impact points for your chosen subsonic load.

One other reticle feature to note. On either side of the center dot are horizontal lines with hash mark indicators that correspond to hold points to lead targets moving at 5, 10 and 15 miles per hour respectively.

To make the distance hold points work for supersonic and subsonic loads, just zero the optic using supersonic (110 or 125 grain) projectile at 100 yards.

The reticle is illuminated with the inverted horseshoe and center dot lighting up in red. A left side knob offers seven different light levels for low light or daylight conditions. One handy feature is that between each intensity setting on the dial is an “off” position. You don’t have to spin the dial all the way back to zero each time you turn illumination on or off. Just keep is one click from your most commonly used setting, give it a click in either direction and you’re good to go.

Leupold Mark 4 MRT 300 Blackout-5

Closing thoughts

The Leupold optic offers precision at longer range. While the markings are a bit optimistic (400 yards for a subsonic 300 Blackout is quite a lob), I guess that’s no different than the speedometer on your Caddy going up to 160 miles per hour. You can lower magnification and turn on the illumination for quick close range performance, but I think this optic really shines when you are engaging targets out past 100 yards. The glass is crystal clear as you would expect from Leupold, and with the finely graduated reticle you’ll be able to account for distance very precisely.

You can find it at Optics Planet.

Win Some Peace and Quiet from SilencerCo and SOG Knives

sog_tacticalgiveaway

If you feel the need for a little more quiet in your life, enter the SilencerCo and SOG Tactical Giveaway.

You can enter daily between now and November 25, 2014. If you win, you’ll get a SilencerCo Saker 762 and an assortment of high-end tactical cutters from SOG. Looks like the perfect Zombie neutralization kit to me…

FNH Makes A Competition Shotgun? The FNH SC-1 Competition Over/Under

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

FN. It’s a little confusing if you’ve been around a while. Is FN the same as Browning? What’s Herstal? What’s FNH? Is that different than Fabrique Nationale? Should John Browning win a Nobel Prize? Are Belgian waffles all they’re cracked up to be?

Let’s answer these questions with a simple history review. In 1889 Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) was formed for the sole purpose of building 150,000 Mauser rifles for the Belgian Government. A few years later, in 1897, FN’s sales manager traveled to the United States to learn more about bicycle manufacture. We don’t know exactly why, or whether or not he wore those tight biking shorts, but on that trip, biker-student Hart Berg met John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace. That chance encounter kicked off a long and prosperous partnership where FN manufactured many of Browning’s designs including the Browning Auto-5 shotgun, Browning Automatic Rifle and the Hi-Power, which was partly designed by John Browning. John Browning did FN such a solid that when he died of a heart attack in 1926, they stuck his body in the FN board room for visitation. Ewww. I know corporate boardroom meetings are boring, but at least they don’t (usually) include dead people.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Consistent with its military heritage, FN made military rifles, refurbished millions more after the big WWII kerfluffle and then went on to make the FN FAL starting in 1947.

In 1970, Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre officially changed its name to FN Herstal. Just because. Later in the 1970’s, FN acquired controlling interest in Browning, hence some of that confusion between the companies. Now having an insatiable appetite for American gun companies, FN next bought the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, including the license to manufacture Winchester-brand firearms.

Since that time, FN has manufactured gajillions of military rifles including the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M-16, M4/M4A1, MK46, MK48 and M240L machine guns, and the MK19 grenade launcher.

As to the name stuff, FN Herstal begat it’s own parent, The Herstal Group. FN Herstal then begat FN America, who begat FN Manufacturing and FNH USA. And so on and so forth. Got it?

Anyway, it all nets out to this. You might think of FN as a tactical arms company and not one to beget a competition clays shotgun. But remember the brief history lesson: one of FN’s first products was the Browning A5 autoloader shotgun, right? Since that time, FN has produced the FN SLP Standard auto-loading shotgun and the FN P-12 pump action shotgun.

But we’re here to talk about the FN SC-1 Competition shotgun, so let’s get to it.

What is it?

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

The FNH SC-1 Over/Under is, you guessed it, a double-barrel shotgun. It’s designed expressly for clays competition, although there is nothing about it that would discourage other uses. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt ducks or close geese with it. Why close geese? As a competition gun, it’s got a 2 ¾ inch chamber. Besides, using 3 or 3 ½-inch shells in a competition gun is kind of silly, and you’d only put yourself at a disadvantage. You certainly don’t need the extra power to break clays and the extra recoil would hurt your second shots, not to mention giving you a tremendous flinch as the competition wears on. Remember, unlike hunting, almost any clay target sport will involve hundreds of shots per day. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into shooting a hundred or so 3 ½ inch turkey loads in one sitting – I have enough pain in my life.

Also giving a nod to its competition design goals, you’ll find ported barrels and easy to configure chokes. One of the two models also features an adjustable comb.

That’s the quick introduction, now let’s talk about the details.

Specifications of the FN SC-1

  • Overall Length: 46.38 inches with extended chokes
  • 30-inch ported and back-bored barrels
  • Invector-Plus choke threads
  • 12-gauge
  • 2 ¾-inch chambers
  • 10mm ventilated top rib
  • Fiber optic front sight with white mid-bead
  • Laminated wood stock
  • Adjustable or fixed comb models
  • Adjustable, recoil activated single-stage trigger
  • Tang safety and barrel selector switch
  • Weight: 8.2 pounds (empty)
  • 5.5 to 7.7 lb. trigger weight

MSRP (Adjustable comb models): $2,449.00
MSRP (Fixed comb models): $2,149.00

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Get Your Beam On! Black Friday Deals From Crimson Trace

1911 Master Series Lasergrip by Crimson Trace

1911 Master Series Lasergrip by Crimson Trace

If you have a gun for self and home defense, it ought to have a laser. It’s an extra tool that can make a huge difference in your ability to effectively use a gun, especially in low light conditions. Looks like Crimson Trace is offering some holiday deals…

Crimson Trace is offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 off retail prices on products from Friday, November 28 through Thursday, December 25. The discount is determined by the product selected and is automatically applied during e-check out in the company’s online store.

Among the product lines that will be on sale only at www.crimsontrace.com are:

  • Master Series® laser sights which are designed for 1911 pistols and are available in multiple woods (from walnut to cocobolo) and in durable G-10.
  • Lasergrips® with Instinctive Activation™ and a master on/off switch.
  • Laserguard®, a laser sight that seamlessly attaches to the trigger guard on many popular pistol models. Many red or green laser Laserguard models are available.
  • Lightguard™ offers 100- or 130-lumen LED white lights and attaches to the trigger guard of numerous pistols.
  • Rail Master®, the compact red or green laser sights—or light— that can be attached to most rail-equipped firearms.
  • Rail Master Pros™, the small durable light and laser combination units that are machined from a solid block of aluminum. Each Rail Master Pro offers four operation modes: light, laser, light and laser and laser with disorienting strobe light.

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices of these products range from $129 up to $649. All Crimson Trace products are also designed to be easily installed by the user. For more details about Crimson Trace and its wide range of innovative laser sight and light products, visit www.crimsontrace.com or call the company’s customer service department at 800-442-2406.

Four Outstanding AR Optics for Less Than $400

If you splurge on a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500-KR, you’re not going to fill the crank case with reclaimed Crisco just to save a few bucks. A similar principle applies to optics. Even with AR-15 prices falling faster than BlockBuster Video’s stock price, you’re still probably going to spend north of $600 on a rifle. Don’t cheat yourself by purchasing an optic not qualified for the task. Cheap optics can give you headaches from fogging, poor light transmission and inconsistent adjustment performance. Most frustrating of all are those times you can’t seem to zero your rifle, not matter what, until you find out the reticle in your scope is moving all over the place with recoil. Remember, friends don’t let friends buy those cheap no-name optics you see at gun shows.

Fortunately, you do’t have to spend more than the cost of your rifle on a quality optic. Here are some of my picks for high-quality optics that you can buy for less than $400 – usually a lot less.

Weaver Kaspa-Z Zombie Scope

Before you start with the hate mail over including a Zombie scope, hear me out. Besides, the dead could rise one day. Check out the audience on the Judge Judy Show, and you’ll see what I mean. Anyhow, my contacts at ATK pulled me aside some months ago and said “Do you want to know what one of our best value scopes is?” Being completely supportive of saving money, I asked to hear the story – and got the full pitch, along with an evaluation sample of the Weaver Kaspa-Z Zombie optic. If you’re not into the whole Zombie thing, that’s OK, as the markings on the scope are subtle. Most of the Zombie cosmetics are in the form of optional stickers.

You won't see a lot of Zombie features on this Weaver Kaspa-Z, but you will get a great deal on a general purpose AR optic.

You won’t see a lot of Zombie features on this Weaver Kaspa-Z, but you will get a great deal on a general purpose AR optic.

Here’s why it’s on this list. Built on a 30mm tube, it gathers plenty of light. With a 16 ounce weight, it’s sturdy enough to use as an impact weapon. The 1.5-6x zoom gives you fast, close range capability as well as precision out to the effective range of a 5.56mm round. The real beauty of this particular scope is the Z-Cirt reticle. It’s brilliant. Variable illumination (green of course) makes it easy to see in low light. The posts and hash marks are pre-mapped to known distances with a wide variety of .223 and 5.56 ammunition and serve double duty as range estimation tools. For example, the solid center dot corresponds to a Zombie’s head at 100 yards and the surrounding parentheses indicate the same target size at 100 yards. The first horizontal hash mark indicates 20 inches (average shoulder width) at 400 yards. With all the ranging and ballistic drop compensation functionality, this reticle is still fast at short to intermediate distances.

MSRP is $299.95, but you can find one on the street for about $199.

Nikon M-223 1-4×20 BDC 600

The Nikon M-223 1-4x20 with BDC-600 reticle.

The Nikon M-223 1-4×20 with BDC-600 reticle.

The M-223 is a one-inch tube model with pure 1x to 4x magnification – plenty for realistic .223 / 5.56mm ranges unless your usage is small varmint hunting at the outer limits of ballistic performance. Turrets adjust in ½ MOA increments with a total adjustment range of 100 MOA. Parallax is fixed at 100 yards, so any potential effect is negligible. Eye relief is generous at four inches, which makes placement on an MSR receiver easy – especially with Nikon’s aggressively cantilevered scope mounts or rings. Both one-piece and two-piece cantilever mounting options are available.

The reticle is developed specifically for 55 grain .223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO cartridges and offers hold points from 100 to 600 yards in 50 yard increments. If you shoot heavier projectiles like 77 grain, you’ll have to establish your own hold point distances out past a couple hundred yards.

MSRP is $299.95, but you can find this one for about $280. Check out other options in the Nikon AR family as you can find great deals on fixed power and higher magnification optics.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

I Feel the Need for .45 Speed!

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

Sometimes we shooters do things because, well, why not? It’s as good reason as any, right?

At first glance, the .450 SMC cartridge may appear to fall into the “why not” category. When you start to look at specifics and potential use cases, it can make a whole lot of sense.

What’s a .450 SMC you ask?

What if I told you…

  • That you could launch a .451 160 grain projectile at .357 Sig velocities?
  • That you could blast a standard .45 ACP 230 grain bullet 32 percent faster?
  • That you could break 1,300 feet per second with an 185 grain .45 projectile?
  • That you could shoot a 255 grain hard cast bullet from an autoloading handgun?
  • And most importantly, that you could do these things from your existing .45 ACP pistol?

Sound farfetched? Nope. Assuming you have a .45 ACP pistol that’s rated for +P .45 ACP ammunition, you can shoot the .450 SMC to obtain this type of performance, and more. As we speak, Doubletap Ammunition offers five different loadings of .450 SMC.

Whose crazy idea was this?

In late 2000, a company called Triton launched the .450 SMC. Similar to the .45 Super, one primary difference was the use of a small rifle primer, theoretically allowing more brass in the cartridge base for strength. Alas, Triton didn’t last, and the .450 SMC faded away.

Fortunately for us speed freaks, the Godfather of Boom!, Mike McNett, founder of Doubletap ammunition picked up the rights and tooling for the .450 SMC cartridge, and it’s now commercially available again.

What is the .450 SMC?

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t simply jam more powder into a standard .45 ACP cartridge case to obtain this type of performance. It’s a little more complicated than that, especially considering that the .45 ACP was designed as a low-pressure cartridge running at about 20,000 psi. There’s margin in the design, but you don’t want to go and drive pressure through the roof.

The solution is to use a different case while keeping the same dimensions. The .450 SMC uses a small magnum rifle primer rather than the standard large pistol primer of the .45 ACP. The small rifle magnum provides plenty of ignition power, but the smaller primer pocket means more brass at the cartridge base, hence a stronger case. As a result, Doubletap Ammunition can load the case with five to six thousand more pounds per square inch of pressure than a standard .45 ACP. Also, the stronger case prevents bulging even in a less-than-ideally supported chamber like a Glock 21.

As of now, Doubletap Ammunition is the only provider of .450 SMC. Founder Mike McNett bought the tooling and is now having a good old time loading lots of .450 SMC in various combinations. And I’m having a good old time shooting it.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

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