Seeing What You Can’t See, or, How I Learned to Love Thermal Vision

Here's the FLIR view of the brand new Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series CORE with compensated barrel. As you can see, it's was just fired.

Here’s the FLIR view of the brand new Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series CORE with compensated barrel. As you can see, it’s was just fired.

If you really want to be able to see, sometimes you have to use a lens that you can’t see through.

I recently toured one of FLIR’s manufacturing facilities and got quite the education on how to see things you can’t really see. While FLIR makes a wide variety of sensing gear, not just infrared products, they’re most commonly known for commercial and military products that help folks see things not normally visible to the human eye. By using lenses made from exotic materials like Germanium and Zinc Selenide and adding a touch of sensing and computer image enhancement technology, FLIR products are able to present the user with a picture of the environment based on relative heat signatures, or infrared.

The hardest thing to get my head around was the fact that visible light is irrelevant to infrared imaging. You can’t see through the lenses at all, which is kind of freaky when you think about it, especially since they’re called lenses. As visible light has no effect on the infrared image, FLIR products are equally useful in daylight, darkness, and obscured visible conditions.

Everything has a temperature signature, even if that signature is a lack of temperature. Objects that do not “generate” heat still have a signature as they absorb and release heat based on environmental conditions. Every material reacts differently and even minute variances in material shape or thickness result in different relative heat levels. The result of all this is that a FLIR device can create a very accurate picture of your surroundings – regardless of ambient light conditions.

Unlike light-amplification technology like standard night vision, it’s difficult to camouflage an object from FLIR. One notable exception is glass. Infrared does not travel well through that medium, so objects behind glass are essentially invisible. For now.

I’ve been experimenting with two different pieces of FLIR gear: the FLIR Scout Handheld Night Vision Camera and the FLIR One iPhone camera.

The FLIR Scout (left) and FLIR One iPhone camera (right)

The FLIR Scout (left) and FLIR One iPhone camera (right)

The FLIR Scout is a great product for people who enjoy outdoor activities like hunting, camping, hiking and critter watching. As we’ll see, it has a variety of other interesting uses. A monocular, hand-held device, it offers different modes of heat map display including InstAlert options that highlight the hottest objects in bright red.

The FLIR One is a hardware and software combination that turns your iPhone into an infrared-enabled camera. The case contains a rechargeable battery and two cameras: one IR and the other optical. The software combines input from the two cameras to generate a representation of what it sees based on infrared signature and whatever it can detect optically.

Rather than talk about features, let’s take a look at some of the uses I found for these two products.

Spot game

The FLIR Scout base model I tested is capable of spotting a man-sized target at distances up to 350 yards. I believe it. During my informal tinkering, I spotted the doe shown here at a distance of 80+ yards and she was bedded down in a brushy area – completely invisible to the naked eye. This photo was taken in the dark but would have looked the same if taken in broad daylight.

A bedded-down doe at a range of about 80 yards.

A bedded-down doe at a range of about 80 yards.

The InstAlert feature of the FLIR Scout has four intensity modes. If you crank up the sensitivity, as in the photo above, you’ll see “warmer” spots on other objects besides living things. You can easily see moving animals at distances up to a couple hundred yards.

Measure temperature of an object without having to touch it

Jeff doesn’t know this yet, but I’m using him as an example of how the FLIR One can remotely measure the temperature of an object in addition to generating an infrared image representation. As you can see, Jeff has warmed his shirt up to 74.9 degrees by working diligently on his laptop. I’m not implying that I treat Jeff as an object…

I felt compelled to measure the temperature of this inanimate object...

I felt compelled to measure the temperature of this object…

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

SilencerCo’s Osprey Is One Cool Bird

The SilencerCo Osprey is a smokin' hot bird! Yeah, baby, yeah!

The SilencerCo Osprey is a smokin’ hot bird! Yeah, baby, yeah!

At risk of being exposed as a “B” grade cable TV junkie, I have to admit I enjoy seeing my favorite pistol suppressor on AMC’s The Walking Dead. If you’re a watcher of that particular serial carnage, you might have noticed that lead character Rick Grimes has one interesting looking silencer on his gun. That would be a SilencerCo Osprey. It’s easy to spot because it’s shaped a little bit like a smashed Twinkie. It’s not round like all those nifty silencers 007 used back when Bond movies were awesome. One could make the case that it’s reminiscent of saggy underarms you see on old folks – the bulk of the suppressor is hanging down below the bone, so to speak. Just to be clear though, the Osprey is a lot sexier!

A caliber smorgasboard: A 45 Osprey on a Glock 31 (.357 Sig) using a Lone Wolf .40 S&W threaded barrel.

A caliber smorgasbord: A 45 Osprey on a Glock 31 (.357 Sig) using a Lone Wolf .40 S&W threaded barrel.

When you screw the Osprey on to the barrel, it may end up like this. No worries, that's what the clutch lever is for.

When you screw the Osprey on to the barrel, it may end up like this. No worries, that’s what the clutch lever is for.

There’s a  good reason for the unusual shape. To suppress a gunshot, you have to control and slow down more gas than Piers Morgan ejects in an entire hour, and you have to do it in pico-seconds. Or maybe micro or milliseconds. No matter, you have to control the hot gasses quickly, and to do that, you need a certain amount of volume in the suppressor itself. The natural solution to creating volume is to make the tube bigger around, but if you do that, then the large tube blocks your front sights. Come to think of it, and the SilencerCo folks did, why not stray from that whole round tube concept and create more volume under the barrel and less on top of the barrel, thereby increasing visibility for the shooter? After all, people who know, know it’s good to see what you’re shooting at.

So that’s the reason that the SilencerCo Osprey is shaped like a squashed Twinkie. By the way, the Osprey has 30% more internal volume than a cylindrical suppressor of identical length.

There is a catch, however. When you screw that suppressor onto the barrel, how do you know that when it’s tight, it will line up properly so that the chubby part is on the bottom? The technical term for that particular engineering problem is “indexing.” Indexing is just a fancy word for “lining everything up, so it doesn’t look weird.” Here’s how SilencerCo solved the indexing problem.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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!

Princeton Tec’s Switch MPLS Hands-Free Light

The Princeton Tec Switch MPLS offers not only a variety of mounting options, but a gooseneck lamp extension so you can point light where you need it.

The Princeton Tec Switch MPLS offers not only a variety of mounting options, but a gooseneck lamp extension so you can point light where you need it.

If you partake in nocturnal activities like fishing, hunting, camping, pub crawling or recreational coal mining, you need a personal light. To keep your hands free for whatever activity you do, you’ll want a light that you can mount  on your hat, clothing or gear.

I’ve been working with the neat little piece of gear to fit this need called the Princeton Tec Switch MPLS. It’s a tactical light, but really more than that. You can use it for a wide range of activities that require “working-level” illumination.

I originally got it to use for general navigation and administrative tasks while at the Crimson Trace Midnight Three Gun event. Last year I made the mistake of using a small white LED lamp equipped on the bill of my hat. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but I quickly learned that people don’t appreciate the use of bright white light as it tends to spoil everyone’s night vision. Red, blue or green LED lights are much more eyeball friendly in dark conditions.

Talking with the folks at Princeton Tec, I explained that I didn’t yet know how I was going to mount the light. Since the light would be used for loading guns and magazines, taping and resetting targets, and finding the next stage in the pitch dark, a handheld light was out of the question. Since I didn’t know how I wanted to mount this new light we decided to try out the Switch MPLS system.

The battery and lamp of the Switch are contained in a housing that’s designed to accommodate multiple mounting attachments. Since the lamp is at the end of a short gooseneck fixture, you can orient the lamp independently from the body and mount of the unit.

The standard Switch MPLS comes with two mounting options:

MOLLE: You can mount the Switch MPLS to a load-bearing vest or backpack.

MICH: If you wear a helmet for a living, this is probably your best mounting option. With firm attachment to the lower side, the light is pre-oriented towards the front and it’s easy to reach for activation and deactivation. A screw clamps the mount firmly to the helmet.

If you need different mounts, just order the MPLS Accessory kit which has these additional mounting adapters:

PICATINNY:  You can mount the Switch MPLS to a compatible rifle rail, or more practically, any range box, case or other accessory with a rail segment. Of course, you can always attach a Picatinny rail segment to just about anything, so use your imagination for solutions such as internal vehicle mounting.

ACH-ARC helmet rail mount.

Four mounting options are available - two included and two more available as options.

Four mounting options are available – two included and two more available as options. In this photo, the light it mounted on the MOLLE adapter.

The Switch MPLS has three light modes: low-intensity color, high-intensity color and 10 lumen white light. You can order models with red, blue, green or infrared light. All models have the white light option included.

One of the things I like most about this piece of gear is the built-in protection against the user whipping on that bright white light inadvertently. To activate the default red light, just press the main button. To make the red light a little brighter, press it twice. If you really want white light, and are sure you’re not going to ruin your, or your buddy’s night vision, you have to hold the button down for a couple of seconds. This, and only this, activates the bright white light, so you have to be very deliberate about wanting the white light activated.

Cool piece of gear – check it out. You can find them at street prices of about $50.

The Making of a Timney Custom Trigger

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you’re in the business of eking every last bit of performance out of an already fine-tuned product, you have to have a relentless, bordering on obsessive, sense of attention to detail.

Looking at the factory floor of Timney Triggers, the compulsive behavior quickly becomes apparent. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you could eat off the floor” before. At Timney Triggers, you really can. Well, actually you can’t, because eating off the floor would get it dirty. This place is seriously clean and polished. Even the brass outlet covers and ventilation grates on the factory floor are shined. I suspect even a Marine Corps Drill Instructor would have to begrudgingly express satisfaction.

The folks at Timney wouldn't let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

The folks at Timney wouldn’t let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

According to Timney Triggers owner John Vehr, this fanatical approach to organization and cleanliness sets the tone for the level of detail that goes into product design, manufacture, testing, shipping and most of all, service. After all, he wants Timney to be known not for products and inventions, but their service. “I want Timney to be the Kleenex of triggers, so people say ‘Check out my Timney’ instead of ‘Check out my trigger.’” The company intends to get to that point my removing internal competition and focusing all efforts externally. “When we no longer compete with each other, but rather outside competitors, it turns out we’re competing with companies that are competing with themselves,” says John. Every one of Timney’s 22 employees signs posters on the wall that detail Timney’s five commitments and Collaborative way. The fact that Timney has virtually no turnover seems to indicate the corporate culture investment is working.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day touring the (relatively) new Timney manufacturing facility just north of Scottsdale, AZ to see just how Timney trigger parts and assemblies are made. Hint: It’s a fascinating process which is a lot different than you might imagine. Let’s take a look.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

The process starts in the spacious work area / lab / office / studio occupied by mad scientist Calvin. New gun candidates for Timney aftermarket trigger are racked up near Calvin’s desk awaiting scanning with a three-dimensional video imaging system. This captures exact dimensions of the internal receiver space that a potential Timney Trigger product has to occupy.milling machines along a back wall, we didn’t see any powered up the day we were there.

 

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

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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!

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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Silencing the 300 AAC Blackout

You have to admit, a silencer makes any rifle cooler - like this SilencerCo Specwar 762 on a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

You have to admit, a silencer makes any rifle cooler – like this SilencerCo Specwar 762 on a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

Last time we got into an ammunition geek-fest and talked about the variety of commercial ammo available for the 300 AAC Blackout and the endless tinkering you can do as a reloader for that caliber.

Perhaps even more fun than creating endless varieties of ammunition for the 300 AAC Blackout is shooting it with silencers. With subsonic cartridges, usually those firing 208 grain or heavier projectiles at velocities of 1,000 fps or so, you’ll have some serious quiet. Even when using supersonic 300 AAC Blackout ammunition, you’ll notice a dramatically improved shooting experience. Supersonic rounds will still make that little sonic boom, or crack from the bullet traveling through the air, but the gun shot will sound more like a “whoosh” than a “bang.” Hard to describe in words, it’s a little bit like air brakes on a truck. Know what I mean? Trust me, it’s cool.

Before we get started, let me clear up some terminology. Silencer is the correct legal term, and the one coined by Hiram Percy Maxim back in 1902 when he invented the Maxim Silencer. For a long time, the industry used the term “suppressor,” as it was more descriptive. A silencer doesn’t completely silence after all. Recently, industry folks are moving back to the term “silencer” but you’ll see both terms used interchangeably, and both are technically correct – just in different ways.

Let’s talk about some things to consider when silencing the 300 AAC Blackout and close with a look at a few good silencer options currently on the market.

Your gun will experience “the change.”

Even 300 Blackout ammo is cool like these Gemtech 187 grain subsonic rounds.

Even 300 Blackout ammo is cool like these Gemtech 187 grain subsonic rounds.

More likely than not, your rifle will have a point of impact shift when you add a silencer. In plain english, this simply means that the bullet will hit in a different spot when the silencer is on as compared to when it’s off. Just to be clear, assuming you have a half decent gun, your groups will be consistent with and without a silencer, they’ll just be in different places on the paper. Usually, this is not a huge deal – an inch or two difference.

For example, after shooting a bunch of groups with my Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AAC Blackout rifle, I added a SilencerCo / SWR Specwar 762. Measuring the distance between before and after groups, I noticed that my rifle impacted about 1 inch lower and ¾ inches to the right at 50 yards when using the silencer. Your results will almost certainly vary as the “change” results from different barrel harmonics. Every silencer is different and every rifle and barrel combination is different. In any case, this is nothing to get concerned about. You’re not likely to see any dramatic shifts, just be aware that you’ll need to re-zero your optic.

I actually noticed a slight improvement in accuracy when I added the suppressor. While not dramatic, groups using identical ammo in identical conditions shrunk just a bit. Again, your results may vary. Have a little fun testing before and after point of impact and accuracy effects to see how your rifle responds.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

 

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The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Howard Leight Impact PRO and Impact Sport Hearing Protection

You can think of the difference between the Impact Pro (left) and Impact Sport (right) as heavy duty and moderate duty. Or you can consider the possible uses or pistol vs. rifle and shotgun.

You can think of the difference between the Impact Pro (left) and Impact Sport (right) as heavy duty and moderate duty. Or you can consider the possible uses or pistol vs. rifle and shotgun.

You know how the saying goes. Once you go electronic, you never go back.

Foam ear plugs are gross and not all that effective. Custom fit earplugs work great, but you can’t hear a darn thing when you’re wearing them. Passive exterior ear muffs also work really well, but still, you’re essentially deaf to what’s going on around you. You know, deaf to important things, like what the instructor or range safety officer is saying.

Enter electronic hearing protection. While you can get custom fit electronic devices to go in your ear, they’re uber expensive. They’re fit only to you and you can’t really share them with a friend or family member unless you have identical ear canal genes.

Howard Leight offers a couple of different models that accommodate most, if not all, shooting scenarios. The Impact Pro and Impact Sport models have different goals and we’ll talk about this in a bit more detail in a minute.

First, let’s look at what these units have in common.

The Impact Sport models are available in forest green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal shown here.

The Impact Sport models are available in forest green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal shown here.

Both Impact Pro and Impact Sport models will amplify ambient sound so you can hear what’s going on around you – even better than when you’re not wearing the muffs.

Both automatically and electronically reduce gunfire or impulse noise above 82 decibels to help protect your hearing. Remember, each and every exposure to dangerous level sounds permanently damages your hearing, a little bit more each time. It adds up and you never get it back. Always use good ear protection when shooting!

Both have what I consider to be a fantastic usability feature: a single on/off and sound level dial that is recessed into only one side. Stay with me a sec, this is important. Most electronic ear muffs have a knob on each side that sticks out from the ear muff body. Turn the knob past a click and it goes on. Keep turning to increase the volume. Invariably, when you toss this style of ear muff into your shooting back, they will get turned on as the knobs are exposed to whatever junk is around them. Your batteries will run dry. Next time you arrive at the range, one or both sides of the muffs will be, in the words of Patches O’Houlihan, “about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.” The recessed dial on the Impact series won’t get inadvertently turned on and the dial is only on one side to control both muffs. Simple, clever and it’s kind of a big deal. Oh, if you do somehow manage to leave them on, they’ll turn off after four hours automatically. You’ll still have plenty of the 350 hour battery life left.

While we’re talking about nice touches, the battery compartment is accessible from the outside. Other electronic muffs have the battery compartment under foam panels inside of the ear muff itself. This means they get all sweaty and icky when it’s warm. Here in the swamps of South Carolina, I have to remember to remove batteries and prop open the foam covers of other makes to keep them from corroding. Gross. With the Howard Leight models, since the battery compartment is not exposed to the interior, where things get sweaty, you don’t have to perform after shooting drying maintenance.

The Impact Pro and Impact Sport models also feature input jacks for iPods and other music players. You can play Pharrell Williams’ Happy song over and over at the range.

Both models feature insert power and volume adjustment dials and input jacks for music players.

Both models feature insert power and volume adjustment dials and input jacks for music players.

Howard Leight Impact Sport

The primary goal of the Impact Sport model is a low profile. They’re intended for shotgun and rifle shooting and the thin profile helps keep the ear muffs out of the way when you squash your face against a rifle or shotgun stock.

They do amplify safe levels of ambient sound, like conversation, up to three times normal level. At a noisy range, you can carry on a perfectly normal conversation while remaining protected from gunshot noises.

You can find Howard Leight Impact Sport ear muffs in green, Mossy Oak camo or the teal color shown here.

When it comes to ear muffs, smaller size comes at a price. The noise reduction capability is less than that of the Impact Pro models. The Impact Sport ear muffs are rated with 22dB NRR. For outdoor use, these work fine. If you shoot at an indoor range, or use mostly handguns, you’ll want the…

Howard Leight Impact Pro

The Howard Leight Impact Pro electronic hearing protection ear muffs are super-sized electronic high-attenuating wonders. They’re noticeably thicker and as a result, dampen sound exceptionally well. The electronic circuitry reduces dangerous noise, like gun shots, over 82 decibels and also amplifies normal conversation by a factor of four. It’s kind of like having bionic hearing. Cool and functional.

As I shoot mostly pistols and AR type rifles, I find myself using the Impact Pro models more frequently. For me, the wider body doesn’t get in the way when shooting an AR. When I switch to shotguns, I prefer the Impact Sport.

You can find the Howard Leight Impact Sport model for about $50 and the Howard Leight Impact Pro model for about $70.

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