This Goofy Gun: The Winchester 9410

Today’s pop quiz! What do the following have in common?

  1. Ben Cartwright
  2. John Moses Browning
  3. Saiga-12 Auto Shotguns

Give up?

It’s the Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

No, the goofball who took this photo was not high on black powder residue. Why, that's a Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

No, the goofball who took this photo was not high on black powder residue. Why, that’s a Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

Admittedly, the Cartwright clan had access to guns from the future, as they shot an awful lot of Winchester 1892’s, which is only two different than the 1894 design we’re talking about here. Close enough. For this pop quiz anyway.

Continuing to refine his lever-action designs, John Browning designed the Winchester 1894 in, you guessed it, 1894. It’s one of the most popular rifles in history with over seven million produced between 1894 and 2006, with those made between 1980 and 2006 technically being made by the U.S. Repeating Arms Company under the Winchester brand.

While there’s a lot of hoopla about the Saiga “assault shotguns”, one can consider the Winchester 9410 as a predecessor – a manually operated “assault shotgun.” Unlike the Saiga, the biggest thing it’s going to assault is rabbits or clay targets, as long as they’re not too far away. And you can only assault things as fast as you can work the lever- up to ten times without reloading.

As you’ve figured out, the Winchester 9410 is closely modeled after the Winchester 1894 rifle, with a few necessary differences. Slender, slick and a natural pointer, the 9410 acts a lot like its ancestor. It’s pure joy to handle and shoot. A couple of the major differences (besides the fact that is’t a freakin’ shotgun!) are a specially designed extractor/ejector for controlled ejection of .410 hulls and a tang-mounted safety added to the ’94 family in 2003.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Anatomy of a Stage at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

I just finished shooting and covering the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational in the high desert miles and miles from Bend, Oregon. It was an enlightening experience, and I’ll write about that in my weekly column on OutdoorHub.com. Shooting at night was also ridiculously fun. More fun than should be legal, perhaps. To give you an idea of what it was like, let’s look at just one of the 9 stages of the event. Keep in mind, this all happens in the pitch dark between 9pm and 3am. 

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

Hey, the following scenario could happen in real life. Right?

First, pick up your fully automatic SCAR, equipped with light and laser of course, and engage two, two-dimensional (cardboard) bad guys. That’s an easy one, problem solved!

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won't solve.

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won’t solve.

But wait, as you’re putting down your SCAR to celebrate your success with a post engagement cookie, you notice a car full of evildoers intent on doing you harm. Fortunately, you have an FN grenade launcher loaded and ready for action. From about 50 yards away, using a Crimson Trace RailMaster green laser aiming system, lob a 40mm grenade through the driver side window. Problem solved.

But hordes of evil two-dimensional dudes are called hordes for a reason. You see more headed your way. You notice 8 of them about 20 yards away. Drawing your Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrip and Lightguard, you sprint in their direction and hit each twice while on the run. Good thing you have a pistol mounted light as they’re blending into a sandy berm, and hard to spot. 

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

But, as you can probably guess, there is no rest for the weary. 8 ground-dwelling DHS drones, looking deceptively like steel plates set in the ground, are headed your way. As you continue to move towards the threats, you take out a couple of them with the remaining rounds in your Glock.

And that’s when the real trouble starts. Your Glock runs dry, and there are still drones to engage. 

No worries, just grab your Lightguard equipped shotgun. While heading down the dark path, whack em’ with some bird shot loads. and take them out.

It’s only then that you spot 8 NSA disk drives with recordings of all your most personal online conversations, cleverly disguised as 4 inch clay targets. These are scattered across a wide area in the sand, so it’s a good thing you have a tac lite to spot them. 

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

After you deal with those you can take a brief rest, until the next stage. 

And so it goes. 9 different stages designed to force reliance on lights, lasers and skill. Just for fun, there’s a daylight hours side match, where you clear six buildings with a fully automatic PWS Diablo short barrel rifle. As you have daylight on your side, that seems easy in comparison. 

Running around the desert shooting all night long is exhausting. But given the chance, count me in to do it again!

Blackhawk! AR-15 Vertical Grip: For Stability, Tactical Lights & Low Heat

Adding The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Moving right along with the Blackhawk! custom AR-15 project…

This time, I’m going to try out a complimentary accessory to the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Rest I installed last episode. The thumb rest can operate on its own to help grip, control and consistent hand placement. It also works great with a vertical grip.

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip will work on most any rifle with a standard rail up front. Of course, if you want the grip to be on the bottom of the forend, you must have a rail on the bottom.

But first, why does one need a vertical grip?

  1. The grip is one layer removed from even the rail, so it’s not gonna heat up with lots of firing. Keeping freshly manicured hands away from that softness-robbing heat has got to be a benefit. Along with a daily soak on Palmolive.
  2. Control. The vertical grip presents a modified weapon support method. It’s especially handy for short-stock configurations, like indoor use.
  3. If you want to add a tactical light, it provides a great way to grip the rifle AND easily control a tail cap activated light. We’ll explore that in a future article.
  4. You have to admit, it looks cool. That counts for something right?
Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Here the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is installed with the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Shelf – they play well together.

 

Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip: Installation and features

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip parts

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is modular in design, so you can customize the height of the grip. The standard vertical grip measures about 3 inches from the bottom of the rail. You can just fasten the included bottom cap to get a short post vertical grip configuration. This works great if you like to use the vertical grip as a partial hand support as shown in the photo later in this article. The kit also includes a grip extension that screws into the primary grip. This adds about 1 ⅝ inches so the total height of the vertical grip, with extension, is about 4 ⅝ inches. All of the parts are hollow and both the flat cap and extension grip piece include rubber gaskets to help seal the interior. This makes a handy place to safely store spare light batteries, small parts, cleaning supplies or maybe a few pieces of Bazooka Joe’s Bubble Gum. Your choice.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation

Since it’s a rail mount grip, installation is a snap. The grip itself has one half of a rail clamp molded in and a separate clamp for the opposite side. Two included hex bolts are used to fasten the grip to your rail. This provides a little extra flexibility for out of spec rails – you’ll still be able to get a solid mount.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation  1

The two included hex bolts are spaced to slide through grooves in the rail for forward / backward stability.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip water tight storage

The flat end cap has a rubber gasket to help keep moisture out of the storage area. Since there is not much surface on the flat one, there’s a large slot on the bottom to make it easier to remove. The extension piece also includes a gasket, but does not need a bottom slot and has a slightly rounded bottom.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest  2

Here’s the standard 3″ vertical grip installed with a Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb rest installed above and just forward of the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest

The combination of the short vertical post and thumb rest works great. The thumb rest allows a little stable forward pressure and the vertical grip post allows a little backward pressure. The overall support-hand grip is rock solid. Of course, if you add the vertical grip extension, you have the additional option of using the vertical grip only with your support hand. In that configuration, you’re grasping the vertical grip more like a hammer.

One of the reasons I elected to install a vertical grip is that I’ll be trying out the Blackhawk! Offset Flashlight Rail Mount with a Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V tactical light. That one has a maximum output of 570 lumens, so maybe I’ll try it out at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Match

Buy the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip Here

 

Scope Review: Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

The Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others

Somewhat like Captain Jack Sparrow, the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope easily adapts to all sorts of situations. Originally designed as a crossbow optic, people quickly realized that it was fit for more combustible applications. As I’ll show in more detail, it has 3 easy-to acquire aiming points which you can use to identify both near and far zeros for your particular rifle, crossbow or shotgun.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope  3

The Hawke 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others. Crossbows, AR-15’s and shotguns to name a few.

 Just the facts about the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope…

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope illumination

The left side-wheel operates the illuminated reticle. Both red and green illumination is available and each color offers five levels of brightness. The “crosses” illuminate – see the reticle image below for detail. The illumination feature is powered by a single CR2032 battery – available most anywhere. Just unscrew the reticle brightness control knob cap to replace the battery.

 Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope windage and elevation

As this is a 1x optic, you’re probably not going to use the windage and elevation controls while shooting. They’re more for adjusting your zero as you change rifles and ammunition types. You might even move this to a crossbow! Each click adjusts the point of impact by 1/2 MOA, or just a hair over a half an inch at 100 yards. I found this to be plenty of granularity to get my favorite .223 load on target. The turrets are finger adjustable, and once you get your settings right, just screw the protective caps back on.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope reticle

Clarity of the scope was really good, with no discernible loss of focus or brightness as you look to the edges of the scope. The photo here shows a view at a berm about 110 yards away. The long horizontal and vertical bars made targeting fast and easy. Also as this photo shows, the cross aiming points show as black when illumination is not turned on. There’s really no need to use the illumination feature unless you’re in early or end of day low light conditions. One more thing – the top of the vertical bar is another aiming point – we’ll talk more about that below.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope coated lens

Lenses are multi-coated and I found visibility to be good. While the objective is 32mm, the tube is 1 inch in diameter.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope mount

Keeping this an all Hawke Optics solution, I used the Hawke 1″ 2-Piece, Reach Forward mounts. As you can see in the photo, this left quite a bit of remaining adjustment play both on the rail and in the scope rings. The eye relief in the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is very generous so you can put this scope pretty much anywhere on the receiver rail. The specs indicate that eye relief is 8 inches. It’s not intended to be a scout scope so you’ll get some shadowing if you try to put it on the front rail. While testing, I placed the scope so the rear lens was about an inch forward of the rear of the receiver. This provided great visibility and unhindered access to the charging handle.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose BRC reticle

Hawke Optics offers free ballistics software for Mac, PC, iPhones and iPads and Android devices. The BRC software has the Hawke reticles and a bunch of cartridge profiles built-in, so you can quickly tell it you’re using the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope with an AR-15. As I was using practice hand loads, I adjusted the actual velocity to 2,700 feet per second instead of the default 3,250. As this is a 1x optic, and I’m half blind, I chose a 200 yard zero. not to actually shoot at 200 yards, but because the “near” zero point for the primary aiming cross works out to 42.2 yards. You can see on the image here that the left columns shows near zero distances while the column on the right shows far zero distances. Using my specially calibrated tennis shoes, I paced off 42 yards and added a bit more. Sure enough, I was right on target with the primary (top) aiming point in the reticle.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Hawke BRC software tells me, that for this reticle, with my specific load and velocity, what the aiming points are for the lower cross and the top of the vertical post – 6.3 and 4.3 yards respectively. So I moved my target in to 6.3 yards, again using my Imperial system calibrated shoes and paced off 6.3 yards. Again, right on target. same with the top of the vertical post aim point at 4.3 yards. Depending on where you set your primary zero, and which load you use, you can develop a useful scenario where you know point of impact for both very short and very long-range. This is particularly handy with AR-15 applications. As the center of AR-15 optics is generally about 2.5 inches above the bore, you normally have to compensate for short-range shots. With the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope, you simply use one of the lower two aiming points to put you right on target at “inside the home” distances.
Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose BRC software

The Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose BRC software comes preloaded with all of the Hawke Optics reticles so you can easily work out point of aim and impact solutions. Here’s the data we used for AR-15 testing with a 2,700 foot per second .223 Remington load.

 

Closing Arguments

The practical flexibility of this optic is just plain cool. I’ve been using it on an AR-15 with great success. My daughter just got a Barnett Jackal crossbow, so the weekend project will be to equip it with the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope and see how that works. Our first step will be to configure the Hawke BRC software with the Jackal’s ballistic data. Here’s the initial report based on the bolt velocity of the Jackal. By the way, crossbow data is preloaded into Hawke BRC software and you can tweak variables like velocity.

Hawke BRC Crossbow data

The Hawke BRC Software give us this projected aim point and range data for the Barnett Jackal crossbow.

So, looking at the right column of far aim point data, we see that the three default aim points correspond to ranges of 20, 40 and 50 yards.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the value of this one. Retailing at $129.99, the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is a great option to consider if you’re on a tight budget. Add the benefit of moving it around from rifle to crossbow to shotgun and you’ve got a winner.

Available Here Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

How To Add Night Sights To The M1A or M14 Rifle, And Other Rifleman Jazz

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (TCCS)

Recently I had a Springfield Armory M1A in for evaluation. Somehow, this military classic (civilian semi-automatic version of the M14) just insists that you use iron sights.

Why?

Got me. But I’ve waffled more on the scope / iron sights decision more than Eric Holder in his Fast and Furious testimony. Some weeks the scope mount goes on and others its back to iron sights. Right now, it’s iron sights, and I think I’m going to stick with those – at least until Honey Boo Boo gains another 5 pounds.

Actually I’ve got even more incentive to stick with irons for a while. Recently I picked up a Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat front sight for the M1A / M14.

Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight for M1A and M14 Rifles

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (left) shown next to the standard Springfield Armory M1A front sight.

As you can see, the front sight post is noticeably wider and not tapered like the standard M1A front sight post. This sight is intended for low visibility, close quarters use. Don’t take it to the National Matches! Here’s why…

Let’s consider the sight picture at 100 yards. My particular Springfield Armory M1A sight is just about .055 inches wide on the shooter side. It’s tapered and therefore narrower than that in the front. This helps create a really crisp and precise sight picture. Many other M1A’s use a National Match sight blade, which is .062 inches wide, so your particular mileage may vary a bit. Keep in mind that numbers will float around depending on exactly how far from the front sight post you place your shootin’ and aimin’ eye. In my case, it’s about 34 inches.

On the other hand, the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight has a post that measures just about .093 inches wide.

What does this mean if your shooting at a target 100 yards away? Let’s do some fancy math and find out…

Gun math

So, solving that equation, dividing by the number of times John Boehner visits a tanning booth and carrying the one gives us the following sight pictures:

My Standard M1A Front Sight post covers a 5.82 inch wide target at 100 yards. With this fancy new match, that means a standard military 20 inch wide target would exactly match the width of my front sight blade at 343 yards.

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight post covers a 9.84 inch wide target at 100 yards. Not trusting my math, I eyeballed this at the range. Close enough. To make a similar military target ranging comparison, the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight would match the 20 inch target width at about 203 yards. That’s kinda handy for ranging a man-sized target at distances us older folks you can actually see with the naked eye.

So, for long targets, you’re going to lose some precision with the Smith Enterprise Tritium Combat Sight. But that’s by design. This sight is supposed to be easy to see in low light conditions. With it’s built-in Trijicon tritium vertical bar, you can’t miss it.

This front sight upgrade also makes a great backup scenario if your M1A or M14 is scoped. Many (maybe most?) M1A / M14 receiver mounts have a half-tunnel cutout that allows you to see the front and rear iron sights under the scope. Smith Enterprise makes an M1A / M14 mount configured this way.

Front Sight Installation

If you have a standard M1A with the factory muzzle break installed, installation is simple.

M1A front sight removal

The standard front sight is a reverse dovetail setup where the sight itself has the female dovetail cut. It’s held in place by a hex bolt. Just loosen and remove that.

M1A front sight dovetail

The front sight will slide right off. Perhaps a gentle nudge will be required to get it moving.
 M1A front sight  1 Save that hex bolt. You’ll need it for the replacement front sight!

Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight installation

The Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight installs exactly the same as the standard sight. Don’t apply any Loctite – yet. First, you’ll want to bring your hex driver to the range with you for zeroing. If you zero for windage by drifting the front sight, then you can have your rear sight mechanically zeroed too. Just place the rear sight at it’s zero windage point, shoot, and adjust the front sight side to side as necessary. Once you’re happy, go ahead the tighten everything up.

Initially, I tried out the Tritium post version of the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight, but they also make one with a round tritium dot, also provided by Trijicon. I’ll be trying that one in a few weeks to see how it compares.

I really like shooting with this configuration. Given my aging eyes combined with iron sights, it’s not hurting my practical accuracy either.

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

You can find the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sights at Brownells

Smith Enterprise M14 Tritium Close Combat Sight
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Shooting Accessory Review: Smith Enterprise Tactical Cheek Piece

The Smith Enterprise Tactical Cheek Piece Completes a Scoped Rifle

Smith Enterprise Tactical Strap-On Cheek Piece side

Smith Enterprise Tactical Strap-On Cheek Piece – Shown here mounted on a Springfield Armory M1A Standard

Which of the following can happen when you mount a scope on a rifle primarily designed for iron sights?

A. It becomes more dangerous-er, and therefore illegal in New York, Colorado and within 500 feet of banks located on the Island of Cypress.

B. Your primary self-defense plan becomes shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand. From 600 yards away.

C. The effective range of your rifle increases 5,432%, allowing you to easily hit targets up to 17.2 miles away.

D. The scope is a lot higher than the iron sights and you have to stretch your neck like a Gumby action figure to see through the scope.

If you answered (B) perhaps you should take up macrame instead of shooting? If you answered (D) you are correct!

For Part 2 of our Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle project, we mounted a scope to the M1A using a Springfield Armory steel scope base. Once mounted on top of the M1A receiver, the rail itself is already higher than the iron sight plane. Add rings and a scope and now the scope sighting plane is roughly an inch and a half taller than the iron sight plane. The walnut stock on this rifle is not adjustable, so unless you can extend your jaw an extra inch or so on command, you’ll find that attaining a firm cheek weld and being able to see through the scope are somewhat mutually exclusive. Accuracy really suffers when trying to hover your face a couple of inches above the stock.

Here’s where a cheek piece comes in handy. There are all sorts of cheek piece solutions. Some of our most decorated snipers in the Vietnam war attached shaped blocks of wood to the top of their rifle stocks. You can do that too. Or you can acquire an elastic slip-on pad with foam inserts to add some height to your stock. We’ve tried those, and while they are inexpensive and simple solutions, they aren’t all that great. Things just move around too much and the foam insert pads can be too squishy, preventing you from getting a solid and repeatable position on the stock.

A number of vendors make cheek rests that strap on with velcro, straps or cords. Many of these have either padding or a firm insert that increases height of the stock. The Smith Enterprise model uses three straps that go around the bottom of the stock and a fourth that wraps around the butt of the stock.

Smith Enterprise Tactical Strap-On Cheek Piece back

The Smith Enterprise Tactical Strap-On Cheek Piece features a rubberized back for a non-slip fit.

The exterior of the Smith Enterprise Tactical Cheek Piece is a solid canvas material. The insert is very firm, with just a little bit of give. This achieves two goals: getting a solid and repeatable position on the gun and providing a bit of recoil dampening for your jaw bone. The insert is just about 1 ½ inches high, so it creates perfect scope alignment on the M1A shown in the photos here. The interior of the rest is made of a rubberized material so it grips the stock really well.

Once we got this mounted on the Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle with walnut stock, it didn’t move around. At all. As you can see by the photos, we mounted this with all three straps forward of the sling loop on the bottom of the buttstock. You may prefer to mount it so that the third strap is behind the sling loop to help prevent forward / backward motion. We just liked the fit as shown, and with the fourth back strap, we did not have any issues with the pad moving.

While this specific model is marketed as a solution for the M14 / M1A rifle, it will fit most any rifle with a more or less standard stock. If you need about an inch and a half of height, check out the Smith Enterprise Tactical Cheek Piece. It’s a solid and well made product.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! The rubberized backing and vertical horizontal strap system ensure that this stays solid in place through carry and recoil. We also really liked the firmness of the cheek insert. It’s solid enough for a good cheek weld, but still offers just a bit of cushion.

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

You can find the Smith Enterprise Cheek Piece at Brownells

Smith Enterprise Strap-On Cheek Pad
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Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard model is the civilian version of the battle classic M14

This rifle is beast. Not a beast. Just beast. If you have teenage kids, you might have already heard things like video games, high school athletes and cars described as “beast.” Apparently it’s a subtle, yet cool, form of praise. Kids these days don’t generally describe praise-worthy things as “richly robust with just the proper hint of panache.”

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle is beast because of its homage (another non-teen word) to military history. The M1A is the Springfield Armory produced civilian version of the battle-tested M14 rifle. The M14 was introduced to field use during the Korean war and is (roughly speaking) the next generation of the famous M1 Garand that had such a dramatic impact during World War II. In fact, the famous World War II general, George S. Patton, called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” We’re not exactly sure what actor George C. Scott had to say about it, but he did play Patton on TV.

After the war, The M14 brought a few changes to the M1 Garand era. Fully automatic capability, 7.62mm / .308 ammo chambering and a detachable box magazine – to name a few. The M1A as a civilian rifle does not offer fully automatic capability, but maintains the detachable box magazine feature and chambers the .308 round. One other notable difference is the lack of a bayonet lug on the M1A. I know, it’s tragic, but it keeps the politicians from hemorrhaging bio-diesel. If you’re hell-bent on mounting an infantry charge down your street, you’ll just have to improvise with duct tape and a Ka-Bar knife.

A Closer Look at the Springfield Armory M1A Standard

 Springfield Armory M1A safety

Safety first! Just like the M1 Garand, the Springfield Armory M1A uses a lever in the front of the trigger guard as the safety. As shown in this picture, the gun is on safe. Nudge the lever forward with the back of your knuckle and it will snap forward, out of the trigger guard, into the firing position. It’s the same basic mechanism used on the M1 Garand. Be careful with this type of safety – to put the rifle on safe, you’re pulling backwards with your trigger finger! Make sure you’re pulling the safety and not the trigger!

 Springfield Armory M1A rear sight

The rear sight on the Springfield Armory M1A has a windage adjustment dial on the right and an elevation adjustment dial on the left. On the M1A Standard rifle, elevation and windage are adjustable in 1 minute of angle (about 1 inch at 100 yards) clicks. The windage dial gives you 16 clicks in either direction and you have sufficient elevation adjustment to compensate to about 1,100 yards. Springfield Armory includes a nifty article by Scott Duff and John Miller that tells you exactly how to properly zero your M1A. The elevation adjustment knob was tight, as to be expected and desired in my opinion. I found the windage elevation knob on the test rifle to be somewhat beyond tight, and I’ve been working out to get in shape for the upcoming Thumb Wars of the Stars special. I tried smothering it with Activia Butt-Modulating Yogurt to “loosen things up” but that didn’t seem to help. Don’t tell the folks at Springfield Armory, but I had to cover it with a cleaning rag and muscle it the first few times. Whatever you do, DON’T use pliers – this will almost certainly crack the adjustment dial. Don’t get me wrong, this adjustment should be firm and very deliberate as you don’t want it moving around on its own. Just be aware that there might be some break-in period required to get things loosened up. And it did loosen up with some use. Before venturing off to any foreign wars, be sure to try the adjustments and break in accordingly.

Springfield Armory M1A mag release

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle ships with a 10 round box magazine. You can order factory 5 or 20 round magazines using the nifty Springfield Loaded Coupon that we’ll talk about in a minute. The magazine release lever is on the back side of the magazine well and releases the magazine when pushed forward. It’s about an inch and a half forward of the safety lever, so you just barely have to adjust your grip to reach it with the firing hand. Seating a magazine in the M1A takes just a bit of practice. The easiest way is to insert it into the magazine well, angled backwards, and rock it into position. It sounds complicated, but is very smooth once you get the hang of it. And the magazine makes a satisfying click when it seats. You won’t be in doubt about it’s locked status.
 Springfield Armory M1A aperture sight The rear aperture sight features fine checkering on the back side to reduce glare. We found this to be a very useful feature! It’s one of those details that no one notices in the store, but really makes a difference on the range. Note the protective wings that help prevent the aperture sight from getting abused.

Springfield Armory M1A stripper clip guide

On the top of the receiver, at the back of the magazine well, you’ll see a stripper clip guide. While the M1A has detachable box magazines, it can still be reloaded with stripper clips from the top. We didn’t use this in testing, but know it’s there. In case you want to get super authentic. The dovetail for the stripper clip guide has a second use as a mounting point for the scope base. We’ll cover that in detail in the next article where we mount a rail base and scope to this M1A.
 Springfield Armory M1A front sling A sturdy sling mount is placed towards the front of the stock on the bottom side. It swivels back and forth, but not side to side. At the rear, just ahead of the rifle butt, is a similar, but fixed, sling mount. Somehow the Springfield Armory M1A Standard just screams for a traditional leather loop sling. No worries, you can get one cheap using the Springfield Loaded Coupon mentioned a little later!

Springfield Armory M1A front sight wings

Like the rear sight, the front post is protected by sturdy steel wings on either side. And the post is not a wimpy little AR type either – it’s a steel blade that tapers like a wedge towards the front. This helps the post look sharp and crisp from the back. And it’s more aerodynamic when charging the trenches at a full run. The sight blade and wings assembly is movable side to side so you can zero the rifle (for windage) and have your windage dial on the receiver exactly centered. A hex locking screw keeps everything in place once you’ve got it set. One other thing to note about the front sight blade. It’s width can be used for rough range estimation. It will exactly cover a 20 inch wide target at about 300 yards.
 Springfield Armory M1A buttplate No, it’s not a collapsible bayonet to protect the rear flank. Nor does it make the M1A more aerodynamic, although you can probably use it while speed walking. But seriously, the fold-out butt plate has a purpose. You can lean it on top of your shoulder for a little extra stability. It’s an interesting feature, especially when shooting from a standing position or moving. It’s one of those things you just have to try to see if it works for you.

Springfield Armory M1A cleaning kit

Unfortunately you can’t quite fit two rolls of Mentos breath mints in the stock storage compartments. However, you can fit the original Springfield Armory cleaning and oiling kit. The top hole is about 10 inches deep while the bottom one is about 6 ½ inches deep. Why waste all that potential storage space in the stock? Later, we’ll mention some factory cleaning and maintenance supplies that will fit perfectly into these two chambers.
 Springfield Armory M1A bolt lock On the left side of the receiver is the bolt lock lever. If the magazine is in place, and empty, the bolt will lock back on it’s own. If you want it locked open while the magazine is out, or full, use the bolt lock lever.

 Springfield Armory M1A gas

About six inches behind the front  sight is the gas port in the barrel and the gas tube below. The nut on the end is removable for cleaning and maintenance. The handy multi-purpose tool (discussed below) will remove this easily. Remember when cleaning that the gas system is supposed to be dry, so no oil or grease in there!

 

Shooting Performance

As the Springfield Armory M1A Standard comes with iron peep sights and no provision for mounting a scope without accessories, we’re not going to address accuracy in this article. Trying to do so would tell you more about the poor state of our eyesight than performance of this rifle! However, we have a second part of this article coming out shortly which details the process of mounting and using the optional scope mounting base. Once we get a scope mounted, we’ll do some accuracy testing with various .308 loads and report on the results.

We did shoot a variety of ammunition through the M1A for function testing and just plain fun. As you might expect from this design, digesting lots and lots of different ammunition was not a problem!

We shot and choreographed the following loads:

American Eagle 7.62x51mm M1A – 2,637 feet per second

Black Hills Match Hollow Point – 2,565 fps

Nosler Match Grade 168 grain Custom Competition – 2,548 fps

Winchester 120 grain PDX1 Defender – 3,034 fps

In addition to the factory loads, we assembled four different hand loads – all with 168 grain Sierra Matchking projectiles. We developed upper mid-range loads for 2,550 to 2,650 feet per second velocity performance using Hodgdon BL-C(2), IMR 4064, IMR 4895 and Ramshot TAC powders. We experienced no feed or function issues with any of the loads tested.

Felt recoil on this rifle was polite and relatively genteel considering that it has a not very soft steel butt plate. Between the M1A’s 9.3 pound weight and gas-driven semi-automatic action, much of the perceived recoil is dampened.

Paperwork

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle arrives in a large cardboard box which includes a variety of instruction paperwork and other extra-special surprises.

The nicest surprise was a printed “booklet bound” copy of the  TM 9-1005-223-12 Department of the Army Technical Manual. Subtitled Operator and Organizational Maintenance Manual – 7.62mm Rifle M14 and Rifle Bipod M2, this 76 page booklet, dated January 1963, is the lightly burnt sugar on Creme Brûlée for any self-respecting gun geek.

Another bonus surprise is a reproduced article by Wayne Faatz entitled The Mysterious Slam Fire.

Springfield also includes a reproduced article by Scott A. Duff and John M. Miller. This one, From the Bench – Zeroing M1 and M1A Service Rifles, walks the reader through easy to understand instructions on how to zero either standard or National Match M1A rifles.

And another! As with all Springfield Armory products we’ve received, a M1A Loaded Coupon allows you to order accessories like extra magazines, cheek pieces, tools, cases, and M1A cleaning accessories at deeply discounted prices. The discount depends on the specific item, but most are available at 20% to 70% off retail. As an example, the Springfield Armory factory .308 20 round magazine sells for $37.50 instead of $54.95. Of course, most of the items on the list are available in third party manufactured versions, but if you want genuine factory accessories, take advantage of the one time use coupon. You can order as much as you want of each item – but one time only.

Oh, and a basic instruction book is included that covers operation, ammo information (mil-spec only recommended), cleaning, and basic maintenance.

Stripping and Cleaning

The subtitle of this section got your attention didn’t it?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re talking field stripping here – with the primary intention of cleaning and lubrication.

Basic takedown is simple. But first, remove the magazine, then check the chamber to make sure there is no cartridge there. Now check it again. Now flip on the safety just for good measure.

Springfield Armory M1A trigger housing removal

The barrel and receiver assembly is locked into the stock by the trigger assembly. To remove the trigger assembly, pull the rear base of the trigger guard (where it meets the stock) towards the butt of the rifle. It will take some muscle!

Springfield Armory M1A trigger system removal

Pulling the trigger guard backwards will release it from a catch, allowing it to pivot towards the muzzle of the rifle. Pull it up all the way and the trigger assembly will come out in one piece.

Springfield Armory M1A field strip

Now the barreled receiver will lift out of the stock. It may need a gentle nudge to get it moving.

There you have it! This simple, no-tools, field strip procedure will give you pretty good access for basic cleaning and lubrication of the main parts.

Accessories and Upgrades

Original Cleaning Kit

M1A cleaning kit

The M1A multi-purpose tool and cleaning kit are accessories that fit in two hollowed-out stock tubes

You can order an original military style maintenance and cleaning kit and store just about all of it in the stock. Shown in the photo is a four-piece cleaning rod, M1A multi-purpose tool, ratcheted chamber cleaning brush, bore cleaning brush and lubricant container. Pack that stuff into the stock compartments and you’ll have it when you need it!

Magazines

The rifle includes a single ten round magazine, but you can order  additional magazines from Springfield Armory in 5, 10, 15 and 20 round capacities. The 5 round magazine comes in a standard box configuration or a low-profile sporter configuration. Perhaps you want to hunt with your M1A? Check your state laws before trying to order different magazines!

Scope Mounts

Springfield Armory offers two different receiver scope mounts for the M1A – one constructed of solid steel and the other aluminum. Both are custom designed to attach to the receiver on the left side and via the stripper clip guide dovetail at the rear. We obtained a steel scope mount and installed it with a Hawke Optics Sidewinder 30 10x scope. We’ll cover that in a follow up article. Springfield Armory also offers a Scout Scope forward mount.

Other

Given the history of the M14 platform and Springfield Armory’s adherence to the core original design, a number of other accessories are readily available from Springfield and third party vendors. Cheek rests, replacement match sights, tritium night sight posts, muzzle brakes and more can all be found at Brownells.com.

Springfield Armory M1A Hawke Optics Sidewinder IR

In part 2 of this article, we’ll mount a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical using the Springfield Armory steel receiver mount

Closing Arguments

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle is, well, kind of nostalgic. True to the basic M1 Garand and M14 military rifle design, it’s a sturdy and reliable war horse. The iron sights feel natural and are quite effective. A good rifleman is expected to hit targets out to 500 yards with them. We’re going to add a scope for fun and some accuracy testing, but odds are, the scope will come off as soon as we’re finished. Somehow, adding optics to this gun just seems wrong and unnecessary.

We loved the Springfield Armory M1A Standard. From it’s walnut stock to iron sights to classic action design, it’s a natural combination of form, function and fun.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! We’re not sure if this is a 4 Nun product because of the history of the design, Springfield Armory’s adherence to that design (mostly) or it’s construction and operation. Probably some of each. Like a Ruger 1022, every household needs one of these rifles.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 2: Bull the Barrel

Soup-it-up-for-Soldiers_custom_ruger_10-22_Step-2

Last Week…

Last week in Step 1: Sportify the Stock, we replaced the standard stock on our Ruger 10/22 with a custom Revolution Extreme one, graciously donated by Brownells. This week, we’re going to replace the barrel with a sporty competition model from Tactical Solutions – also graciously donated by Brownells.

Remember, at the end of this series, we’re going to end up with one heck of a rifle. And we’re going to auction it on GunBroker.com so 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Step 2 Objectives

  1. Take a perfectly good barrel off a perfectly good Ruger 10/22 carbine. Because we can.
  2. Do NOT butch up the receiver. “Butching up” is a techincal gunsmithing term that loosely translates to “gouging metal.”
  3. Do NOT butch up the shiny new Tactical Solutions barrel.
  4. Try to avoid the use of large sledgehammers and/or blowtorches. This might cause the Brownells GunTech Team to resign en-masse and we wouldn’t want that to happen. Who would we call for advice about Step 3?
  5. Make sure that the rifle still feeds and shoots. In a forward direction. Preferably .22LR ammunition.

The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project Parts

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel fluted

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel (fluted)

Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel upgrade adds the “bull” part of this step

  • .920” diameter, 6061-T6 billet aluminum construction
  • Threaded end with included matching thread protector
  • Oversized shank (more about this below)
  • 1 in 16” twist 4140 button rifled steel liner with 11° target crown
  • This one is silver. And quite sporty looking.

Tactical Solutions Compensator

Given the massive power and recoil of the .22LR rifle, we opted to include a thread-attached Tactical Solutions Compensator. Ok, to come clean, we didn’t really add this to help reduce recoil, because it’s pretty much non-existent anyway. It just looks cool, OK? Isn’t that a good enough reason?

tactical_solutions_ruger_compensator

The Tactical Solutions Compensator – more genuine coolnesss

  • 360° gas ports allow for even distribution of gasses for optimum accuracy
  • Machined from solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum
  • No indexing or gunsmithing required to fit on Tactical Solutions ½ x 28 TPI Threaded end barrels
  • 0.920” Outside diameter so it fits exactly flush with the X-Ring barrel

How To Install The Tactical Solutions Bull Barrel

Admittedly, we were more than a little nervous going into this step as our previous gunsmithing experience has been limited to advanced techniques like ordering extra magazines from Brownells.com and replacing the factory grips on a Beretta 92-FS with Hogue Rubber Grips . That one was kind of hairy – we had to remove at least 4 different screws. And put them back.

However, Larry Weeks from Brownells talked us off the ledge and convinced us we could do this without professional assistance. While psychiatric services might be required, there would be no need for professional gunsmithing.

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel includes a very easy-to-follow set of instructions. And, as it turns out, swapping a barrel on a Ruger 10/22 couldn’t be easier. Apparently this rifle was designed with interchangeability in mind. As for the compensator, we were able to do without detailed instructions – you just screw it on.

Here goes…

Installing a Tactical Solutions barrel on the Ruger 20/22

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel comes with a great set of easy to follow instructions. Between this article and the included directions, you’ll be fine!

remove receiver and barrel from ruger 10/22

First, remove the stock by loosening the screw just in front of the magazine well. Lift the barrel from the front to remove the receiver assembly. Seems like deja-vu no?

Ruger barrel to receiver mount v block

Just under the barrel, you’ll see two allen screws holding a barrel retainer v-block. Now would be a great time to find an allen wrench that fits these.

ruger 10/22 magazine release

We found that the magazine release lever and it’s corresponding pin like to fall out fairly easily when not contained by the insides of the stock. No biggie, just be aware of this so you don’t lose the pieces. If your magazine is out during these steps, you might also want to keep an eye on the magazine latch plunger.

ruger 10/22 v block removal

Loosen the allen screws and remove them completely. The barrel retainer v-block will come right off.

ruger 10/22 barrel removal

The Ruger 10/22 barrel will pull right out with hand pressure. If you have an older rifle, or things are crudded up, be gentle – this is probably not a great place to use impact tools or recreational explosives.

tactical solutions fluted barrel threaded thread protector

Since the Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel on this particular rifle is threaded, we went ahead and put the thread protector on so we wouldn’t butch up the threads during the next few steps.

tactical solutions barrel installation ruger 10/22

Using your hands only (no large metal hammers or other tools substituting as hammers! This includes screwdrivers, pliers, and heavy flashlights) insert the new barrel into the receiver.Oh, it probably won’t fit. That’s OK – it’s slightly oversized by design. Tactical Solutions makes the shank just a hair on the large side so you can custom fit this barrel to a variety of Ruger or aftermarket receivers and create a perfect fit for your particular gun.

tactical solutions barrel installation custom fit

Here’s a great time to be really, really patient. If you have to, pretend that you’re in an old 007 movie tinkering with an atomic bomb fuse – except that the clock is not ticking down while the co-star looks concerned. This is an easy step that will have major impact on the accuracy of the rifle. Using some emery cloth, gently sand down the barrel shank. Wipe off the crud, and try the fit. The barrel should eventually fit in the receiver very tightly, but with hand pressure only. Take your time and repeat the sanding, wiping, and test fitting as necessary. Remember, this part is made of aluminum, so it will sand down fairly easily.To the future buyer of this rifle: We were very patient with this step. The fit is rock solid.

tactical solutions custom barrel installed ruger 10/22

If you look closely at this photo, you’ll see that hand pressure has gotten the barrel to fit in the receiver except for the last 1/16th of an inch or so. Leave the hammers in the drawer!

install v block with new tactical solutions barrel ruger 10/22

Place the barrel retainer v-block back in position and tighten the allen screws alternately. This will snug the barrel right up to the receiver.

tactical solutions fluted barrel fit ruger 10/22

Look at that fit. Perfect!

tactical solutions compensator installation

This would be a swell time to screw on the new Tactical Solutions Compensator!

ruger 10/22 rail installation

Now it’s time to put the new barreled receiver back in the stock. See Step 1 if you need a refresher on that.This would be a great time to add the rail that Ruger includes with the 10/22. Simply remove the four screws in the top of the receiver, and fasten the rail using the included screws. Remember to use proper gunsmith screwdrivers here so these very visible screws stay nice and tidy. You can get a set at Brownells.

bushnell red dot ruger 10/22

Since Step 2 resulted in the loss of our factory iron sights (The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel does not have them) we popped a nearby Red / Blue / Green Dot sight from BSA on the newly mounted rail just to test things out. During a future step, we’ll decide what optic should live on this rifle permanently. Let us know if you have ideas!

Voila!

Custom Ruger 10/22 Tactical Solutions Barrel and Compensator

The custom Ruger 10/22 is starting to look somewhat nifty

Purely as a quality control measure, we took the completed rifle with it’s shiny new barrel to the range to make sure it still worked. After all, one of our Step 2 objectives was to make sure that the rifle still was able to fire .22LR ammunition in a mostly forward direction. We tried a small variety of ammo types and experienced not a single problem with ejection or feeding. Considering we just put a whole new barrel on the Ruger 10/22, that was some very good news.

22LR_ammo_eley_remington_CCI_aguila

The custom Ruger 10/22 worked just fine with a variety of ammunition

Yes, this rifle is already more fun to shoot than should be legal. Golf balls will be at your mercy at most any reasonable distance.

Next Steps For The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project…

Join us next week when things get really hairy. Hairy and triggery. We’re taking apart the receiver to install a new trigger group. Be on the lookout for explosions originating from an undisclosed location somewhere in South Carolina.

Stay tuned!

Coming Soon! Colt M2012 CR

Colt is showing a couple of prototypes of a very impressive bolt action rifle. The M2012 CR is a 13 pound, decked to the nines tactical and/or fun long range rifle.

The first versions should be out in a couple of months in .308. Short term plans include .223 and .22-250 chamberings – among others yet to be determined.

With 13 pounds of beef, this rifle should have virtually no recoil. Adjustable comb, 60 degree bolt, and a spiral-fluted barrel make it beastly looking and functional.

Estimated retail is about $3,700 give or take.

Can’t wait to shoot one…

Thompson Center Dimension Is Bisexual – Or More?

The new Thompson Center Dimensiongoes both ways, if you know what we mean. You know, plays for both teams. Switch hits. Do we really have to spell it out for you?

OK then.

Karl from Thompson Center gave us the full tour at SHOT Show 2012 and here’s the scoop.

In short, with the TC Dimension, you can swap barrels, bolts, and scope to different calibers without changing point of impact.

Translation: If you’re huntin’ hogs, put on the “C” group barrel and bolt which gives you .270 Winchester and .30-06, for example. Smaller game? Swap our for the “A” group and try .204 Ruger or .203 Remington.

Thompson Center has created the ultimate Garanimals rifle. Pick a barrel, magazine, and bolt set by letter category – A, B, C, or D – and go to town. No trips to the range to re-verify zero – it just works. Same point of impact. Guaranteed match. Just like the kids clothes. No more embarrassing moments on the hunt when you brought mis-matching parts, or clothes for that matter.

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