To Restore, Or Not To Restore. That Is The Question

An old and beat up Walther PPK/S (left) restored into a functional (and beautiful) carry gun. Should the well-worn Colt 1903 (right) be given the same treatment?

An old and beat up Walther PPK/S (left) restored into a functional (and beautiful) carry gun. Should the well-worn Colt 1903 (right) be given the same treatment?

I’m a purist. Sometimes.

I tend to think you should generally leave historical specimen guns alone. For example, I’ve got a Japanese Type 99 Arisaka that’s in great condition. It’s missing that jangly monopod, but probably because the soldier who cared for it tossed it in the Okinawa surf in a fit of frustration. I don’t plan on doing a thing to it other than regular cleaning. I shoot it, of course, because that’s what it’s made for. But you won’t find me sanding and refinishing the stocks or thinking about re-coating the metal. And I have no intentions of mounting an Aimpoint Micro on it, even if I had the 3x magnifier to go with it.

The Walther's trigger is radiused, top strap "anti-glared" and the wood grips are even glass bedded to perfectly fit the frame.

The Walther’s top strap is “anti-glared” and the wood grips are glass bedded to perfectly fit the frame.

Sometimes, the decision over whether to “restore” or “refinish” an old gun is easy.

Some years back, before I knew better, I bought a Walther PPK/S from a gun auction site. The ad description was a little light and the photo seemed to show a stainless steel model that needed grip panels and a few miscellaneous parts. And the price was right. A home gunsmith special! No worries, I could take care of that! After all, I owned a Dremel tool, plenty of duct tape and at least two and a half cans of WD-40. So I bought it. The gun arrived, and it turned out to be a blued Interarms import that appeared to have traveled at Warp Factor 12 through an asteroid belt. Pits, dents, explosion craters – the works.

This gun had apparently survived three wars and and two episodes of Real Housewives of East Liverpool, Ohio.

I acquired some new grips and assorted missing parts and took it to the range for a test shoot. Reliability was excellent. It could shoot almost two rounds without jamming. Not bad, but I felt there was room for improvement. And that’s when the Dremel tool came out. I figured that I could polish up the feed ramp and turn that pistol from a Frankenstein into a Franken-Fine!

The radiused trigger makes this an excellent shooter.

The radiused trigger makes this an excellent shooter.

That plan worked out so well that I waited almost twenty four hours before calling the gurus at Cylinder and Slide for help. Among many other things, they specialize in making Walthers sing classic opera tunes.

As you might surmise, this was one of those situations where you deliver a bag of parts to a professional along with a lame explanation. “Boy, the idiot I bought this from sure messed this thing up. Look at the Dremel tool marks on the feed ramp!” Fortunately the gunsmiths at Cylinder and Slide are also trained psychologists and they know when to nod their head and agree.

To make a long story short, I had them do more restoration on that Walther than Joan Rivers face. And it turned out to be stunning. With this gun, there was no intention to “restore” it to original condition. The work was done with the sole purpose of transforming it into a masterpiece carry gun. The trigger is now radiused, meaning beautifully rounded. The top strap is etched to reduce glare. The rounded portions of the top of the slide are matte-finshed, again to reduce glare. The feed ramp is shaped and polished so this gun will eat any combination of .380 ACP ammunition stuffed into its gullet. The wood grips are not just installed, but glass bedded. And of course, the whole gun is polished smooth and re-blued. It’s gorgeous and shoots like a dream. We won’t talk about the total cost of this little project.

The decision to renovate the Walther was an easy one. Interarms imported PPK/S pistols are not particularly rare or historic. This particular gun was an absolute mess and practically un-shootable. And it was butt ugly.

But all restoration decisions are not that easy. Right now, I’m having a dickens of a time deciding whether to do anything with a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

New Book! The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Amory XD-S

Hot off the press! The Rookie's Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

Hot off the press! The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

If you own a Springfield Armory XD-S, or are thinking about buying one, then this book is for you!

In insanely practical fashion, we cover everything you need to know about the Springfield Amory XD-S pocket pistol family. Whether 9mm, .45 CP or the new 4.0 model – we show you how to safely use, maintain and accessorize your Springfield Armory XD-S.

Using light-hearted and plain English style, we provide easy to understand tips and advice. This book includes:

• A guided tour of the Springfield Armory XD-S
• How to shoot your XD-S
• Step by step cleaning and lubrication instructions
• Holster options
• Lasers, lights and sights
• Ammunition for your XD-S 9mm or .45 ACP
• Practical tips and tricks
• And more!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

How To Keep Your AR Rail Cool and Comfortable

One of the last things we’re adding to the DPMS A3 Lite we’ve been customizing with Blackhawk! long rifle accessories are low-profile rail ladders.

Blackhawk! Low-Profile Rail Ladders installed and cut to size.

Blackhawk! Low-Profile Rail Ladders installed and cut to size.

These polymer inserts attach to rail segments by snapping into place on both sides via the groove in between. They hardly add any thickness as the polymer only sits a millimeter or so above the rail itself, but they make all the difference. These rail inserts are designed to do several things:

  • Protect your rails from dings, scratches and dents
  • Provide a non-slip grip to the rail area
  • Protect your hands from sharp edges of the rails

I just left an event at Blackhawk! where professional shooter and instructor Todd Jarrett ran us through a condensed black rifle class. It was a great opportunity to try the rail ladders out. During the session, we did enough shooting for the barrel, gas block and aluminum rail to get hot – and that’s where I really noticed the value of the rail ladders. Even though they’re low-profile, they made a noticeable difference in terms of insulating my hands from heat. Providing additional comfort and grip security was a given – you could feel the difference right away. I was just not expecting them to make a difference with heat control.

This is a nice, and very simple, add-on to most any rifle with a railed front end. The ladders come in 18 slot segments and you can easily cut them to the exact length you want with a pocket knife. I put them on all four sides. If I ever decide to add other rail accessories, I can just pop off that segment and trim to fit the unused rail area.

It’s a nifty little upgrade and you can get them for about ten bucks.

How To Install Flash Hiders Or Muzzle Brakes on the M1A or M14

One of the ongoing tinkering projects around here has been customization of a Springfield Armory M1A Standard, which we reviewed a while back. One of the first things done to this rifle was installation of a tritium sight post for low-light capability with the iron sights. We chose the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (TCCS) and mounted that front sight assembly on the standard front sight dovetail.

So far so good!

I need (OK, want) to mount the Smith Enterprise Vortex and Good Iron Muzzle Brake on a standard M1A, but there are a few steps to complete first...

I need (OK, want) to mount the Smith Enterprise Vortex and Good Iron Muzzle Brake on a standard M1A, but there are a few steps to complete first…

But now it’s time to get crazy with flash suppressors and muzzle brakes. Yeah, I know, those are contradictory things, but as this is a tinkering project, we’re going to try both at different times and report on the results. We’re going to compare the Smith Enterprise M1A / M14 Direct Connect Vortex and the Smith Enterprise Good Iron Muzzle Brake. Not to each other, but to a factory standard configuration. Stay tuned for separate articles on how well they control flash and compensate for recoil compared to the default setup.

But, like many of those Saturday honey-do projects, this one also has somewhat of a domino effect. If you remove the standard flash hider from an M1A or M14, you lose the front sight dovetail. As I really like having iron sights on this rifle, it’s time to figure out how to keep a front iron sight while being able to swap out the standard flash hider with other options.

Enter the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight.

Smith Enterprise offers a couple different options that allow installation of a front sight on top of the gas lock instead on top of the standard bird cage flash hider. For flexibility, we’re going to install the Smith Enterprise GLFS-D-22, which is designed for standard 22″ barrels. It’s really more of a front sight platform as it features standard male dovetail. This allows you to reinstall the factory front sight on top of the gas lock or use an upgraded version like the Smith Enterprise TCCS or match sight models.

Let’s get busy:

Before we can do anything with aftermarket flash hiders and muzzle brakes, we need to relocate the front sight back to the gas lock. This assumes you want to keep iron sights. If you don’t, you can just remove the default flash hider and not worry about the gas lock.

An easily overlooked step is removal of the retaining screw which prevent the castle nut from moving!

An easily overlooked step is removal of the retaining screw which prevents the castle nut from moving!

You’re going to want to remove the barreled action from the stock to make things a bit easier. It also helps to put the barrel in a padded vise, as the castle nut can be tight. You’ll need a pair of castle nut pliers which you can get at Brownells for about $15.

Use the castle nut pliers to loosen the nut. Looking from the breech end, the nut will turn clockwise.

Use the castle nut pliers to loosen the nut. Looking from the breech end, the nut will turn clockwise.

Once the bond is broken loose with the castle nut pliers, loosed the nut a little bit. Then slide the flash hider forward. Then loosen the nut some more. Then slide forward. And so on. Eventually it will come off.

Once the bond is broken loose with the castle nut pliers, loosen the nut a little bit. Then slide the flash hider forward. Then loosen the nut some more. Then slide forward. And so on. Eventually it will come off.

Voila!

Voila!

Since I’m going to keep my front sights, I need to move the base to the gas lock. Loosen the gas plug and remove it. This should be fairly easy. Remember, this is a dry area, so don’t slop gun oil all over it!

When you remove the gas plug, you can clean it off, but keep it oil-free.

When you remove the gas plug, you can clean it off, but keep it oil-free.

Now it’s time to remove the gas lock. This should also be fairly easy. Just unscrew it until it slides off the barrel.

Just unscrew the existing gas lock and remove.

Just unscrew the existing gas lock and remove.

Now just screw the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail into place.

Now just screw the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail into place.

When the new GLFS is lined up correctly, reinstall the gas plug.

When the new GLFS is lined up correctly, reinstall the gas plug.

Now, just mount your front sight on the new GLFS dovetail.

Now, just mount your front sight on the new GLFS dovetail.

Since you’ve moved the front sight post to a new base, you’ll need to head to the range and re-zero your rifle. Bummer, time to go shooting!

Job completed!

Job completed!

After relocating the front sight to the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail, I reinstalled the standard flash hider, but only because I want to try to get some nifty before and after muzzle blast photos when we go to the next step – installing the Smith Enterprise Vortex Flash Hider.

Blackhawk! Storm Sling RS – Hang On To That Rifle!

We’re nearing the finish line on the Blackhawk! AR-15 customization project.

So far, we’ve taken a basic DPMS A3 Lite and…

Now it’s time to add some finishing touches!

Blackhawk Storm Sling RS 677

Note the big elastic band. That’s what makes the Blackhawk! Storm Sling stand out.

With all this gear, it’s time to add a sling. We’ve used a number of two point slings with good success, but one of the things that gets ever so slightly annoying is how the front of the sling and its attachment point tend to get tangled up with your support hand. Of course, the big benefit to a multi-point sling (with an attachment point up front) is that you can use the sling as a shooting aid to help brace the rifle. While even a single-point sling can provide some extra stability, you just can’t created those locked tight, but mildly painful, shooting platforms as with a traditional sling.

Blackhawk Storm Sling RS sling mount adapter

The Blackhawk! Storm Sling RS is a single-point sling that is essentially a loop for your body, with a gliding attachment for the rifle. The main loop consists of a longer section of 1 ¼” nylon webbing that features a length adjustment buckle. This allows you to snug up the rifle as tight to your body as you like. Tighten it up and your rifle will ride high off the ground when you let go. The rest of the sling loop is comprised of a thick, elliptical bungee section that has a bit of flex and stretch. The rifle attachment loop rides on the bungee section so that you can immediately pull the rifle out for easy shoulder transitions and other movements. The back-pressure of the bungee also gives you some extra stability when shooting.

The sling itself features two different attachment buckles. One is part of the loop and facilitates instant removal of the entire sling without need for clearing your shoulders and head. The other buckle is part of the short strap that connects the sling loop to the rifle itself. Use this if you just need to quickly detach your rifle. The rifle itself attaches to the sling strap with a heavy-duty snap hook.

Blackhawk Sling Mount 598

Our DPMS rifle did not have a sling attachment point on the back of the receiver where the buffer tube meets, so we installed a Blackhawk! Universal Single-Point Sling Adapter! While not an exceedingly complex job, adding this type of sling adapter requires a couple of specialized tools and a bit of patience as you have to completely remove the buffer tube. With many AR-15 rifles, the buffer tube is fastened to the receiver with a good bit of enthusiasm. Some companies use Loctite on the buffer tube threads and others stake the receiver nut so you have to break that free in order to remove the tube. All this means that you might have to apply some force – in a gentle and loving way of course – to remove the tube.

Fortunately I had an AR-15 Lower Receiver Vise Block from Brownells and an AR-15 Buttstock Wrench. The receiver block helps holds the AR-15 lower rock solid so you can get some torque on the receiver extension nut. The wrench is a specialized tool that will absolutely prevent you from butchering up your buffer tube. It’s not steel, so you can tear it up pretty easily unless you use the right tool for the job.

Blackhawk Sling Mount 592

After only a mild amount of cursing, we managed to break the receiver nut free, allowing us to install the universal single-point sling adapter. One thing to note if you undertake this task. Beware of springs. You’ve got a couple that will want to reach for the stratosphere when you start taking things apart. Just be mindful of that and you’ll be OK.

The sling itself is a joy to use. The single point attachment, combined with the bungee loop, keeps it completely out of the way. The bungee is strong enough to support the weight of the rifle without excessive stretching, yet allows you to stretch when needed. The most likely scenario is to transition the rifle to your opposite shoulder without need to loosen any sling buckles. Depending on whether you want the rifle to hang on your strong side of weak side, you can loop it either way across your chest. We found that neither orientation got in the way of the stock in your shoulder.

We’ve found that a good sling is kind of like a politician. Once they experience the joys of office, they never want to go back to common life. Once you add a sling to your rifle, you’ll never want to be without one.

Replacing the Buttstock on your AR-15: The Blackhawk! Adjustable Carbine Rifle Buttstock

We’ve been working with the folks at Blackhawk! to completely bling-up a DPMS A3 Lite AR-15 rifle. So far, we’ve added a tactical light, quad forend, thumb shelf and extended safety lever. Some handy upgrades for sure. Not it’s time to work on the back end a little. The standard DPMS buttstock is perfectly serviceable, but we’re going to be trying a couple of different sling options on this rifle, so we’re looking for maximum attachment point flexibility. This rifle could also benefit from a comb design that’s a bit wider and more comfortable.

The Blackhawk! Adjustable Carbine Stock offers some nice upgrades to the standard configuration.

The Blackhawk! Adjustable Carbine Stock offers some nice upgrades to the standard configuration.

Aftermarket buttstocks for the AR-15 offer a wide variety of features, so you can pick what’s important to you. This one, from Blackhawk!, has a forward-angled buttplate, ambidextrous sling attachment points and a wider comb.

There are all sorts of replacement buttstocks on the market. Some offer a wider comb. Others offer integrated storage compartments for things like spare batteries. Or you may want a different angle buttplate design – the Blackhawk! stock we’re installing here has a design that slopes downward and towards the muzzle. Most any replacement stock will give you more flexible options for attaching a sling. This one has multiple sling attachment points that offer ambidextrous attachment options.

Gun words explained - Insanely Practical Guides

Comb

The comb is the top of a rifle stock. It’s the part where you stick your cheek when you’re taking aim for a really important shot. Different comb shapes and heights not only help with comfort and fit, but can help you properly line up your line of sight with a scope or optic on your rifle.

The first thing to figure out when you decide to upgrade the buttstock on your AR-15 is the size of your tube. Stop that! I can hear some of you snickering from here. Really, it’s childish!

The Buffer Tube, or as more important people refer to it, Receiver Extension Assembly, is that round thing sticking out the back of your rifle where the buttstock attaches. They tend to come in two diameters: Commercial and Military. To find out which one your rifle has, just measure the diameter. Commercial tubes are about 1.170 inches in diameter and the military spec tube is somewhere near 1.146 inches in diameter. Or, you could just look in your owners manual – it will probably specify your tube size. The DPMS rifle we’re using here has a commercial tube, so we ordered the appropriately sized buttstock from Blackhawk! To ensure a proper fit.

When doing any work on an AR-15 rifle, I like to separate the upper and lower receivers. I do this for two reasons. First, dealer with smaller sections make the process a little more manageable. Second, it’s safer as the rifle is not capable of firing when it’s broken in half. Just push the two takedown pins as far as they will go and rotate the upper receiver out of the lower half.

Take that sucker apart first! It's easier to work with and a lot safer!

Take that sucker apart first! It’s easier to work with and a lot safer!

Replacing a sliding buttstock is just about the easiest AR upgrade there is. Just pull down on the entire stock adjustment / release lever to make sure the adjustment pin clears the channel in the buffer tube. If you pull the whole release lever assembly downwards, the stock will simply slide off the back of the buffer tube. Piece of cake right? Hey, here’s a great opportunity to get a rag and clean off any gunk that might have accumulated in there.

The whole buttstock will slide right off if you pull the release lever assembly down far enough.

The whole buttstock will slide right off if you pull the release lever assembly down far enough.

Assuming you bought the correct size stock (commercial or military spec) you can just slide the new one on. Just repeat the process by pulling down the release lever and sliding the stock into place.

The new buttstock will slide right on, again if you pull down the release lever assembly.

The new buttstock will slide right on, again if you pull down the release lever assembly.

Finally, check the operation of your replacement buttstock to make sure it moves freely and does not wobble. If it does, you might have bought the wrong size! When you’re satisfied with the fit, reassemble the upper and lower receivers and you’re good to go!

One of the nice features about the Blackhawk! buttstock is the flexibility of sling attachment points.

One of the nice features about the Blackhawk! buttstock is the flexibility of sling attachment points.

Notice the multiple quick detach sling points. They’re on both sides of the stock. There’s also a metal sling stud centered on the bottom. Or, feel free to loop a sling through one of the cut slots. You have a lot of choices!

The angle of the buttplate (downward and towards the muzzle) allows the rifle to easily settle into your shoulder and the back has an aggressive grip texture. All in all, it makes for a great fit.

Next time, we’ll add a universal sling point adapter – that involves a little more construction!

Gearing Up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event: Handgun Selection

The “lots and lots of 9mm” vs. “a handful of big .45′s” debate is about as likely to be settled as Michael Moore speaking at the NRA 2014 Annual Meeting.

While most discussion focuses on real-life pros and cons of a magazine full of 9mm ammo vs. seven or eight big and fat .45 ACP’s, I have an opportunity to consider the tradeoffs in a less threatening manner.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

This August, I’ll be shooting in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition and I need to start thinking about equipment choices. The only constraint I am placing on my decision is the use of Crimson Trace only light and laser gear. Other than that, I’m open to possibilities.

I’m competing in the Range Officer and Media pre-event, so my decision on gear won’t have any impact on the big prize potential. I’m not that fast anyway. So I’m looking at this event as an opportunity to explore viable options for home defense setups and get some dead-of-night practice with light and laser equipped pistols, rifles and shotguns. During the actual competition, I’ll be free to cover the real competitors and report on their gear selections and match performance.

So far, I am strongly considering two handgun options. There’s a third possibility, but it’s a little bit silly. Fun, and certainly dramatic, but silly. I admit it.

Option 1:  Springfield Armory 1911 TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Master Series Lasergrips

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it's SO sweet!

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it’s SO sweet!

This is a high-quality .45 ACP 1911 – we reviewed it a while back and found it to be lacking, well, nothing. With standard factory magazines, it offers 7+1 capacity. Granted, that’s not ideal for the high round count sport of 3 gun shooting.

Right now, I have a set of rosewood Crimson Trace Master Series Lasergrips on this gun. This set features a traditional red laser, which will be fine for nighttime use at the match. However, I just got a set of LG-401G green 1911 Lasergrips. These have black polymer side panels, so they won’t look quite as spiffy as the rosewood grips. On the other hand, the Springfield Armory TRP has a black frame and slide, so there would be that trendy black on black color combination…

This gun also features the Crimson Trace LTG-701 Lightguard for 1911 pistols. While also front-activated, the button is on the underside of the trigger guard. This means that it’s compatible with the Lasergrips. The bottom of your middle finger activates the laser while the side of the same finger activates the light. Nifty.

While I would be severely handicapped by necessity of more frequent magazine changes, isn’t there some benefit to the really satisfying sound that .45 bullets will make hitting those steel targets? And of course, the holes in the paper targets will be impressively large compared to those wimpy 9mm perforations made by my competitors.

Option 2: Glock 17 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

This one is the safe option. A 17+1 standard magazine capacity, means hardly any, if any magazine changes. I guess that depends on my panic under the clock miss-rate performance though.

I’ve got the Glock 17 Gen 4 configured with a Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace LG-850 rear-activated laser. As the Lightguard is front-activated and the Lasergrip rear-activated, these two components are made to work together.

Clearly this is the safe choice. Even now, 9mm ammo is available and (relatively) cheap compared to the other options. Capacity is grande and recoil is minimal so even a moderate shooter like me can do fast follow-up shots. As the steel targets just need to “clang” and not get knocked over, so 9mm has plenty of oomph.

Option 3: Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

Ok, this option really makes no sense at all, as it has less capacity than the Glock 17 9mm and a lot more recoil to manage. I just have a fetish with the .357 Sig cartridge for some unexplainable reason. And it’s my nightstand gun. Remember when I said earlier that one of the goals was to run some realistic home defense gear through the match course?

Although there is one potential benefit to shooting the Glock 31 with its .357 Sig cartridge. The gigantic fireballs and muzzle flash just might temporarily blind the other competitors, allowing me to coast to an un-contested victory. Here’s hoping.

Given my goals for the match, what say you?

A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.

 

1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.

 

1300

The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.

 

1350

While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”

 

1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.

 

1526

The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.

 

1640

The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

Mounting a Tactical Light on Your AR-15

The next step in our Blackhawk! AR-15 customization project is to add a tactical light. Earlier in the series, we added a Blackhawk! Quad-Rail Two-Piece forend. This allows one to hang all sorts of important things on an AR-15. You never know when a rail-mounted accordion will come in handy, right?

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light

We chose two Blackhawk! components for this step: the Blackhawk! Offset Flashlight Rail Mount and the Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V hand-held tactical light.

The Offset Flashlight Rail Mount is a 6061 T6 aluminum component, which is at least 4 better than 6057 T6 aluminum. It has a hard-coat anodized finish to blend in with your rail and minimize any additional glare. The mount will accommodate virtually tactical light with a 1 inch diameter tube. It’s offset design allows different mounting configurations. For example, you can mount the light high, over the rail, or low to use with a vertical foregrip as we’re going to do here.

We chose the Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V light for a couple of reasons. At its brightest setting, it almost outshines Wayne Newton’s teeth. Yes, it’s that bright – about 570 lumens. Other light modes include Medium, Low, Strobe and Off. We particularly liked the rotating dial selector for the different modes. Unlike some other tactical lights where weird end-cap gyrations determine the mode of operation, you set this one with the dial with a positive click and the tail cap activates the desired mode. It’s simple and you know what you’re going to get when you activate the tail cap switch.

The light uses two CR123 batteries. The three light modes, high, medium and low generate 570, 220 and 20 lumens respectively so you can tailor brightness and battery life to the job. The 570 lumen setting will run for about 2 hours while the lowest setting goes for over 33 hours.

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (2) Since the tail cap of the light is larger than the one inch mount diameter, you need to remove the cap to insert the light. No worries, you have to do this to install the batteries anyway.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (1) Note the large and positive mode-selection dial. Not shown is the momentary tail cap button on the back of the light.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (4) Mounting to a picatinny rail is a piece of cake. Just make sure the mounting bolt goes through a rail slot so the mount doesn’t slide backward or forward.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (5) With this mount, the Blackhawk! logo is upside down, but we specifically wanted to try a low mount to use with the Blackhawk! Vertical Grip. If you elect the more common high mount on the other side, the logo will be upright!

 

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light position

For this build, we chose to mount the light on the right side. This allows a standard grip using the Blackhawk! Thumb Shelf and the option to use the vertical grip with the thumb activated light.

 

When 10 Rounds Of 12 Gauge Shotgun Isn’t Enough

Recently I ran across a deal that I couldn’t refuse on a Mossberg JM Pro 930 semi-automatic shotgun. The only problem is that it’s a little light on capacity. With only 9 rounds in the tubular magazine and 1 in the chamber, this shotgun is limited to a measly 10 shots.

And there are times when 10 rounds of 12 gauge isn’t enough. For example…

  • You hear a bump in the night. But your house has 6 porches. When you step out on the porch and fire a couple of blasts in the air, you’ll run out of ammo by the 5th porch. Wise Uncle Joe didn’t think of that did he? No worries, that’s why we’re here.
  • Let’s face it. The job market is tough. If you have to accept a position as a nomadic crime boss, you’ll want extra capacity for those unruly board meetings and employee grievances.
  • Your upcoming social calendar includes a walking dead family reunion.

Of course there are other less realistic scenarios where you might want to carry extra shotgun shells. Like home defense or 3 gun competition. Or maybe you’re a really, really bad skeet shooter.

For those scenarios, you might want to check out the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carriers. Add a “by the seashore” to that and you’ve got a proven tongue twister.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier on a Mossberg JM Pro 930

The Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier is designed to mount to your shotgun receiver or stock and carry from 4 to 8 extra shot shells. Models are available for numerous shotguns including:

Remington 870, 1100, 11087

Mossberg 500, 590, 930

Benelli M1, M2, Super Nova, M4, M1014

There are a lot of variables, so be sure to check the Mesa Tactical web site for details.

Most models are constructed from sturdy 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, so you should be able to mount it to an F-18 Super Hornet, but be sure to consult a competent armorer before attempting installation.

A closer look at the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  2

I ordered the Mossberg 930 (6) shell carrier. This one is constructed of solid aluminum and includes all the parts and tools needed for installation.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  7

One of the “hidden” features of the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier is the adjustable friction mechanism. A channel is machined into the carrier which holds a rubber tube. This tube applies pressure to the shot shells in each port. Mesa Tactical supplies two rubber tubes with different hardness to increase or decrease the amount of friction you want.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  6

Try the default setup. If it works for you, great. No further action is required. If you want the carrier to hold shells more tightly, you’ll need to swap the rubber tube.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  5

On the Mossberg 930 model, 6 screws hold the backing plate to the carrier. Remove those and you’ll have access to the tube.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  4

Replace the default tube with the firmer white tube and replace the backing plate.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation remove trigger group pins

Installation on the Mossberg 930 JM Pro was easy. Just punch out the two pins that hold the trigger group in place. Leave the trigger group in the receiver – no need to take that out.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  3

Mesa Tactical includes a rubber gasket that sticks to the back of the shell carrier. This creates a no-slip attachment and ensures that your receiver won’t get all scratched up. Stick that on the back, making sure you don’t cover up any of the backing plate screws in case you want to swap retainer tubes later.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  2

For the Mossberg 930, the carrier kit includes two sets of pass through bolts. Insert the two female ends through the carrier and then through the receiver. Be careful to keep your trigger group in place – these bolts are now holding that in the receiver.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  1

From the other side, insert the male end of the bolts, with washers, and join them up.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation

The Mossberg 930 carrier kit includes two hex wrenches to tighten the bolts. Finger tight using the hex wrenches will provide all the tension you need.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  1

Here is the Mesa Tactical Shot Shell Carrier mounted. Notice the cutout placed over the area of the receiver where the gun’s serial number is stamped. (The serial number is blurred out in this photo.)

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier top view

A view from the top. The Mesa Tactical ShotShell Side Saddle Carrier. Notice that it’s well out of the way of the receiver-mounted safety.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  3

The grip is solid enough to carry shot shells base up or base down depending on your preference. Or, if you want to carry two types of shells, you can alternate them to easily tell the difference between buckshot and slugs. After some use, I found that I preferred the base down method. With your support hand thumb, you can press down on the top of a shell to “dump” it into your support hand. With proper hand placement and practice, you can drop a shell into your support hand and load it in one fluid motion. OK, it was more like a spastic motion before practicing a few times, but practice makes perfect.

You can find the Mesa Tactical ShotShell Side Saddle Carrier at Brownells.com

Mesa Tactical Products, Inc. Receiver Mount Shotshell Holder
Loading…

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture