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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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Holster Review: Simply Rugged Cuda IWB / OWB Holster

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

Today’s neat holster design falls squarely into the “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” category.

While Simply Rugged Holsters makes a number of different holster designs, the shiny one that diverted my attention away from the squirrel was the Simply Rugged Cuda model. Here’s why.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front - that's it.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front – that’s it.

It’s all the rage out at Gunsite these days.

But seriously, while that’s not the only reason Simply Rugged got my attention, it’s a big plus. The guys and gals at Gunsite certainly know what the heck they’re talking about, and I would be foolish not to take a close look at gear they wear themselves on a day-to-day basis.

The Simply Rugged Cuda is a combination inside-the-waistband (IWB) / outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster. By combination, I mean you can easily convert it from one to the other. Other designs on the market allow you to perform this exorcism by screwing and unscrewing clips or gun pouches or whatever. The Simply Rugged Cuda design has the conversion capability built-in – with no reconfiguration required.

Here’s the secret. The holster itself is a classic pancake design with three belt loops. Depending on which loops you use, you can wear the holster as a traditional strong side outside-the-waistband with standard or canted angle or a cross draw outside-the-waistband on the weak side. Simple enough, right? What Simply Rugged has done differently is add leather straps that hang downwards on the back (body side) of the holster. When you want to wear the holster as an inside-the-waistband, you flip the two straps over the top then down the front. The holster goes in your pants while the straps with snap loops are exposed to latch onto your belt. The beauty of the design is that you leave the straps in place when wearing as an OWB and they don’t get in the way. You can literally move this holster from OWB to IWB in no time flat because there is no reconfiguration. It’s hard to explain, so check out the pictures here to see how it works.

Here's the Cuda in action as an IWB holster.

Here’s the Cuda in action as an IWB holster. Image: Gunsite and Simply Rugged Holsters.

The Cuda model is hand molded to your specific firearm and Simply Rugged will happily work with you to design a holster that fits your gun, Lasergrip and light configuration. No one can guarantee a fit for every combination, but if you don’t see your specific gear combination listed, be sure to check with them first as offerings are always changing. One more thing regarding the Cuda design. The holster is made of thick leather, and while the mouth is not technically reinforced, I’ve had no problem re-holstering even while carrying inside-the-waistband.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

If you prefer a holster with a hard reinforced mouth for absolute frictionless one-handed re-holstering, check out the Defcon 3 model. It’s got a layer of (proprietary trade secret unobtainium) sandwiched between the layers of leather to keep the mouth open at all times. All other features and options are similar to the Cuda, so you can get the Defcon 3 with IWB straps too.

Both Cuda and Defcon 3 designs are open mouth and secure your firearm with fit and friction. This is working out just fine on my Cuda model for a Smith & Wesson E-Series 1911 with a tactical rail. If you feel more comfortable with a top strap, check out some of Simply Rugged’s other designs – you’ll find a variety of models all geared towards heavy outdoor use.

Since you’re wearing a holster every day, or should be, you might want to take advantage of customization options. For example, the holster shown here has the optional basket weave pattern on the exposed side of the holster. BBQ gun anyone?

If you want to learn a whole lot more about different approaches to concealed carry and holsters, check out The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014.

It’s on sale now along with our other shooting books!

7 Things To Know About the .357 Sig, Sort Of…

One things is for sure about the .357 Sig cartridge: velocity makes a big difference. It's tough to find a .357 Sig load that doesn't expand, even after encountering barriers.

One things is for sure about the .357 Sig cartridge: velocity makes a big difference. It’s tough to find a .357 Sig load that doesn’t expand, even after encountering barriers.

.357 Sig is my favorite pistol cartridge. I don’t really know why, I just think it’s cool. Well, seriously speaking, it is a screamer with great street performance and the bottleneck design helps not only velocity, but feeding reliability.

Developed by a pas de deux featuring Sig Sauer and Federal Ammunition in 1994, it’s loosely based on a necked down .40 S&W cartridge – conceptually anyway. The idea of .357 Sig ammo is to launch a .355 caliber bullet form an autoloading pistol a few hundred feet per second faster than a 9mm cartridge can.

With that said, consider these interesting facts about the .357 Sig…

It’s like a .357 Magnum, but not really.

You’ll hear descriptions of the caliber like “it offers .357 Magnum capability in an autoloader that’s not a Coonan.” That’s partially true, if you’re talking about a .357 Magnum firing a 125 grain bullet. DoubleTap Ammunition markets 125 grain .357 Sig loads that clock 1,525 feet per second from a 4 ½ inch barrel. That’s about 645 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, and within .357 Magnum territory for a 125 grain projectile. The ‘not really’ part comes into play when you consider 158 grain .357 Magnum loads. DoubleTap also produces a 158 grain .357 Magnum load that achieves 1,540 feet per second from a 6-inch barrel revolver. That’s about 832 foot-pounds.

It’s like a 9mm on steroids, but not really.

Not many 9mm loads would expand like this after passing through a pine board.

Not many 9mm loads would expand like this after passing through a pine board.

The .357 Sig uses a .355 inch diameter bullet like the 9mm, not a .357 diameter bullet like the .357 Magnum and .38 Special. While the bullet diameter is the same as the wonder nine, most .357 Sig projectiles are shaped differently.

To take maximum advantage of the limited case neck real estate in the bottleneck portion of the cartridge case, many .357 Sig projectiles do not have elongated noses like 9mm designs. The bullet body, or bearing surface, will be long enough so that when seated to the proper depth, every bit of the case neck will be in contact with the projectile. Remembering that the overall cartridge length still needs to remain in spec, this means the nose will generally have more of a blunt profile.

Some 9mm bullets will work and some won’t. If you reload, be careful about this as bullets with the wrong profile are susceptible to pushing back into the case during feeding or recoil, thereby generating dangerous pressure levels.

Read the rest at Guns America!

 

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Four Things You Can Do With a Rifle – Besides Hunt

Mary Kate is actually demonstrating two topics from the list here. She’s plinking with a 1950’s era Hakim 8mm Egyptian battle rifle. Who says history can’t be fun?

Mary Kate is actually demonstrating two topics from the list here. She’s plinking with a 1950’s era Hakim 8mm Egyptian battle rifle. Who says history can’t be fun?

Barbara is more of a hunter than I am. In this issue of First Shots News, she’ll tell you how to get started. While I hunt a little bit, mostly ducks and geese, she’s hard-core and chases down ill-tempered wild boars with flint knives. That’s what I’ve heard, and I’m sticking by that story.

My interest in guns and shooting are primarily a result of… guns and shooting. While I enjoy hunting, my primary interest is shooting just for the sake of shooting.

Embrace History

Rifles, perhaps even more than pistols, can have incredible stories to tell. When I first became interested in shooting, my first through tenth gun purchases were old battle rifles. To be more specific, I made a field trip to the Civilian Marksmanship Program sales center in Camp Perry Ohio to handpick some history. If you’re not aware of the CMP, check out their website. It’s a government chartered (not government operated) organization founded as part of the 1903 War Appropriations Act. the idea was to help the militia, that’s all of us, become proficient and safe markspeople.

As part of the charter, the CMP sells surplus rifles and ammunition. They sold me a Springfield Armory 1903 A3 bolt action rifle and an M1 Garand manufactured in January of 1945. Every time I shoot those rifles, I wonder where they’ve been. Did they make an ocean crossing to Europe or the Pacific islands? Or were they used for training and coastal defense here at home? I’ll never know, but will always wonder.

Walk through any gun show and you’re bound to find hundreds of guns with stories. Old West? World Wars? The first shooting competitions? You never know. Whether you plan to shoot an old rifle with a story or not, it’s a fantastic way to hold a tangible piece of history.

Defend Your Home

Contrary to popular assumption, rifles can be a great home defense option, provided you choose the right platform. Unless you live somewhere like Encampment, Wyoming, you need to worry about over penetration. Consequently, using your .30-06 hunting rifle for home defense is not necessarily a great idea, as projectiles can travel through walls, houses, trees, cars and who knows what else. Here’s where the right platform choice comes into play. Did you know that (generally speaking) a projectile from a Modern Sporting Rifle will penetrate walls less than a standard pistol round? Regular 55 grain .223 Remington bullets are light, and fly very fast, so they tend to tumble and break apart when they hit solid objects like drywall, furniture and especially exterior walls. So, counter to assumption, a rifle can offer less risk of unwanted penetration.

Additionally, rifles are easier to shoot accurately under stress. First of all, you support a rifle with two hands. Second, the sight radius, or distance between sights, is longer. Small movements in the sight picture do not translate into big misses as can be the case with a handgun. Last, rifles offer near infinite customization capability. Lights, lasers, grips and slings can all be added and tweaked to your exact preference.

Read the rest in the NSSF First Shots Newsletter!

 

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10 Reasons the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Is My Favorite Shooting Event

Jerry Miculek of Team Smith & Wesson looks on as a competitor blasts an aerial target (upper left)

Jerry Miculek of Team Smith & Wesson looks on as a competitor blasts an aerial target (upper left)

I had the good fortune to compete in, and cover, the shooting community’s coolest adventure, otherwise known as the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. As the name implies, this is a full-blown outdoor 3 Gun match.

The third annual Crimson Trace event was held at the COSSA shooting range located in the high desert about 7,394 nautical miles outside of Bend, Oregon. The remote location and match schedule ensures several things: it will be dark, as in black hole kind of dark; your equipment will have to perform in exceptionally dusty and dirty conditions (drop a magazine in the dirt here and it will sound like nails on a chalkboard for the rest of the match); and, you will not sleep for several days.

A look down at some of the shooting bays in use.

A look down at some of the shooting bays in use.

1. Sleep

More accurately, lack of sleep defines this event. Shooting begins around 9 pm and continues until four or five in the morning. The first night of competition, I rolled back into my hotel room after sunrise – exhilarated but tired. Lest you think you can catch up during the day, busses leave for the range before lunch for training, safety briefings and sponsor range demonstrations. Next week, I’ll get into some really neat new products demonstrated at the range event.

2. Safety

As safety is the number one concern, range officers are more plentiful than fake ID’s at a Justin Bieber concert. As all of the range officers are avid 3 Gun Shooters themselves, there is a full match for them the two nights prior to the pro match Friday and Saturday nights. We media weasels squad up with the range officers and shoot the full match with them Wednesday and Thursday nights. This is a great win-win solution. We media hacks don’t have to shoot with the pros and face total humiliation, the range officers shoot the full match, and we all work the bugs out before the pros start Friday night. As you’ll see from the photos, every person on the range wears glow sticks front and back for absolute visibility. A big hat’s off to the professionalism and dedication of all the range staff. They preserved the perfect safety record while adding plenty of fun.

Nope, not dark enough yet. A pre-match briefing at Stage 7.

Nope, not dark enough yet. A pre-match briefing at Stage 7.

3. My Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO

I wrote about this gun prior to the match. Hard use in the dusty match conditions confirmed my early opinions. Dumping mags in use dry dust all week got the gun plenty dirty, but it ran like a champ. The best part was comfort of high-volume shooting. I used American Eagle 147 grain 9mm ammo that clocks in around 950 feet per second. The recoil impulse was light and smooth – perfect for high-speed competitive shooting.

4. Live entertainment

During the awards ceremony, Crimson Trace founder Lew “Joe Cocker” Danielson stopped mid-speech, ran to his truck to retrieve his guitar, and broke into a rousing rendition of “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” As a special tribute to the ladies’ present, he followed with an a capella encore performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” Lew explained lack of guitar accompaniment to the fact the song requires seven chords and he only knows four so far. An inspiring moment from one of the industry’s finest individuals. It was epic.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

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