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!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Quick Tour

 

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

The Beretta ARX100 is designed to be a Transformer.

I’ve never watched the Transformers movies, but if my understanding is correct, those flicks were about 1974 AMC Gremlins morphing into deep fried banana splits, thereby earning free admission to the Texas State Fair. Or something along those lines.

Even if I’m a bit off in my understanding of the Transformers plot, you have to admit the idea of effortless transformation on demand is a pretty cool thing. Politicians do it all the time based on poll numbers and density of cameras within 25 yards, so why shouldn’t rifles be able to perform the same feat?

Getting back to the point, since I’m writing this on the Beretta Blog, let’s talk about transformation with respect to the new Beretta ARX100 rifle. Its family heritage is the ARX160 – a 21st century rifle designed for the Italian (and other) militaries and law enforcement organizations. As a result, some mondo engineering has been applied to make this rifle fit not only a wide variety of potential shooters, but also easily adapt to a broad range of requirements. If you haven’t noticed, people come in all shapes and size. Some do most things, including shooting, with the right hands, while others buck the trend and use the left side. Folks are also tall, short and everywhere in between. Don’t even get me started on accessories preferences as it seems no two people on the North American continent can agree on exactly how a rifle should be equipped with optional gear.

Apparently the main design goal of the Beretta ARX100 is to not only accept all these physical and opinion differences, but embrace them. The rifle has been designed to be instantly customizable in many, many ways. Most importantly, all this customization can be done without tools – that’s where the engineering magic comes in.

With all that said, let’s take a quick tour, from back to front. In a future article, we’ll do a deep dive on how the ARX100 operates and shoots. For now, we’ll focus on how it’s put together.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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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Beretta’s ARX100: A Closer Look

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

As the exterior appearance indicates, the Beretta ARX100 is a complete redesign.

If you made me describe one thought about the Beretta ARX100, it would be something along the lines of “ambi-flex-trous.”

Yes, you can easily reconfigure this rifle in all sorts of ways, which we’ll discuss in a minute, but the interesting thing is you can do all of it with a bullet. Macho, isn’t it? So far, I have yet to use a single tool of any kind for reconfiguration. Well, there was one exception. I did need a wrench to remove the factory flash hider, but I don’t think that counts as it doesn’t fall into the category of routine maintenance. Don’t tell the Beretta folks I applied wrenches and a bench vise to their loaner rifle, OK?

Let’s take a closer look.

As the ARX100 is a pistol-operated rifle, there's no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

As the ARX100 is a piston-operated rifle, there’s no buffer tube to prevent a folding stock. It shoots in this configuration too.

The ARX100 looks large and potentially heavy, but it’s not. Judicious use of polymer keeps weight down and unloaded, it tips the scales at just 6.8 pounds. While the stock appears monolithic in design, it breaks into an upper and lower receiver, although the dividing lines are different than the upper and lower components of an AR rifle.

The butt stock is connected to the upper receiver half through use of a hinge, which allows the rifle to operate like a pistol. While the intent is easier transport, shooting with a folded stock feels very Buck Rogers. Since the rifle is piston operated, there’s no buffer tube in the way of pistol operation. The butt stock itself has four different positions to adjust length of pull.

The rifle is covered in web sling attachment points. A rotating swivel is in front of the gas block. The butt has a web sling loop. There are two flat sling loops on each side of the receiver for a total of six.

Rails are also abundant. The entire top surface of the rifle is a continuous rail, so there is no “joint” between receiver rail and forend rail as with an AR rifle. Four-inch rail segments are located up front in the three and nine o’clock positions. There’s a 1 ½ inch rail segment on the bottom in front of the forend cover. If you need to attach a 40mm grenade launcher, remove the lower cover and you’ll find a proprietary rail segment for this purpose. Because military-style rifle. Word is that Beretta may offer a Picatinny adapter at a later date.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They'll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

It comes with non-standard height sights. They’ll get you going, but may not co-witness with your optic.

The ARX100 comes with polymer flip up sights so you can shoot it out of the box. The front sight features a standard, height-adjustable post while the rear has a rotating aperture dial where apertures are calibrated for ranges of 100 to 600 meters. Be aware that these sights are taller than standard AR models, so they may not co-witness as you like. No worries, by pressing a button on each, you can slide them right off the rail if you don’t want them present.

The trigger is all military all the way. It’s big and wide, set in an oversized trigger guard for easy access with gloves. The pull weight leaves something to be desired, measuring 8 1/2 pounds for me, but at least it was smooth and not gritty. The trigger components are held in place by pins, so assuming demand is there, aftermarket companies like Timney should be able to offer replacements.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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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!

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

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

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

I like action. Who doesn’t?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

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

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

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

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

Zeroing

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

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

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

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

The reticle

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

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

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

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

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

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

Closing Thoughts

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

 

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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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