November 7th, 2017 by asjstaff

The stylish Henry Octagon in .45-70 Government is a hardworking short-range rifle with a quick and smooth action.

 

STORY & PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

 

For a cartridge introduced in 1873, the .45-70 Government has enjoyed some serious staying power. The same may be said of lever-action rifles that date back a decade further. The combination of the two, first made in 1881, logically joined two good things into something perennially popular.

Bone Orchard offers a .45-70 Government cartridge with a 300-grain bullet.

Bone Orchard offers a .45-70 Government cartridge with a 300-grain bullet.

Today, several companies make such rifles. Henry offers three models, with the Octagon being the most visually striking of the lot. The fit of the metal and wood is tight, and the finish is even and well applied.

A 22-inch blued octagonal barrel is installed on a brass receiver, with brass buttplate on a straight-grip stock of quality walnut completing the first impression. Weighing in at about 8 pounds, the rifle feels substantial without appearing heavy. For field carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.

The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath, the same as Henry’s rimfire rifles. While slower than gate loading, this approach is easier on the shooter’s fingers and doesn’t damage soft bullet points. And, considering the power of the .45-70 cartridge, 4+1 capacity is generally sufficient.

The Octagon sports a quality American walnut grain stock and checkering on the grip.

The Octagon sports a quality American walnut grain stock and checkering on the grip.

WHILE HISTORIC .45-70 LOADS used bullets in the 405- to 500-grain range, most modern hunting ammunition is 300 grains. Loads such as Winchester and Federal with expanding bullets develop velocities in the high 1,800s, and recoil is correspondingly brisk. For this reason, a slipon recoil pad is a recommended accessory.

For people who use .45-70 for fun rather than hunting, such as cowboy action shooters, Velocity Munitions sells a mild 1,100-foot-per-second cast-lead load that makes this rifle an absolute pleasure to run. Other companies make more specialized loads, including Hornady with Leverlution polymer-tipped 325-grain, Lehigh Defense with Xtreme Penetrator fragmenting and multiple projectile rounds, and Buffalo Bore with several hot-loaded magnums in the 3,600-foot-pound muzzle-energy range. The magnum loads, however, are not recommended for use in Henry rifles, as regular 300-grain loads only develop 2,600 to 3,000 foot pounds. The intensity of recoil and muzzle rise with the extraenergetic ammunition can get unpleasant.

The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath.

The magazine tube holds four cartridges and loads from a port underneath.

Accuracy was the same for all three loads tested, an even 3 minutes of angle. Points of impact differed significantly between the full power and the plinking cartridges, as was to be expected. It appears that the barrel band holding the magazine to the barrel has some impact on overall point of aim. When we single loaded each round – cycling them through the magazine – for accuracy testing, the groups were roughly circular. When 4+1 were loaded up, the first shot was always low right, the next two would overlap each other about 1.5 inches away, and the last two would again overlap, another 1.5 inches away, with the three holes forming a straight diagonal line.

While the rifle comes with open sights – brass-bead front post and semibuckhorn rear – the receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail. Having conducted accuracy testing with a 1-4x Trijicon Accupower scope, I would recommend a mildly magnified optic only if you intend to hunt past 75 yards. Up to that distance, and especially for dangerous game, a red dot would be slightly quicker, a little closer to the bore, and more appropriate to the mechanical accuracy of the firearm.

Since the Henry Octagon is intended to be a short-range rifle, the 3MOA dispersion is irrelevant. At 25 yards, it amounts to a 3/16-inch maximum deviation from the point of aim on targets that have much larger vital zones.

The rifle comes with a brass-bead front post and a semi-buckhorn rear sight (shown).

The rifle comes with a brass-bead front post and a semi-buckhorn rear sight (shown).

THE LEVER ACTION ITSELF is quick and smooth, with the trigger crisp but a bit on the heavy side. Again, for a dangerous game rifle, that’s an appropriate design decision that makes accidental discharges under stress less likely. At the same time, it’s unburdened by the dangerously senseless “lawyer” cross-bolt safeties that plague the current Winchester and Marlin competitors. Those block only the striker, making a trigger pull while on safe appear to be a misfire. The Henry has a transfer block, so “safe” is carrying with the hammer down on a live round.

Of the three models Henry offers in .45-70, the All-Weather, the round barrel carbine, and the brass-receiver Octagon, the last is the most stylish. It also brings 4 extra inches of sight radius to the game, along with a slight uptick in velocity and less glare in backlight, thanks to the faceted barrel. It’s also the only one with the oversized lever look for easier use while wearing thick gloves. Strictly from the stylistic perspective, it would look best with some traditional-looking low-magnification scope.

The receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B base or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail.

The receiver is also tapped for a Weaver 63B base or EGW Marlin Picatinny Rail.

Among the rifle’s appeals is its simplicity of maintenance: just open the action and undo the lever retention screw. The lever then comes out, and the bolt follows. For normal cleaning, that is the full extent of the disassembly required.

The Octagon .45-70 is a fashion statement as much as it is a capable tool. But unlike most fashion statements, it’s timeless, eminently practical, and will most likely become a multi-generational heirloom. MSRP is $950.

The Octagon feels substantial without appearing heavy, and weighs in at about 8 pounds. For field carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.

The Octagon feels substantial without appearing heavy, and weighs in at about 8 pounds. For field carry, it comes with sling swivel studs already installed.

For more, see henryrifles.com. ASJ

The Henry Octagon in .45-70 Government is one of three models the company manufactures for that classic cartridge.

The Henry Octagon in .45-70 Government is one of three models the company manufactures for that classic cartridge.

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , ,

April 7th, 2017 by asjstaff

Quality products, an expanding user base, a responsive corporate culture and hands-on ownership have Henry Repeating Arms on the rise.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

Although the brand dates to the middle of the 19th Century, the Henry Repeating Arms company that we know of today was founded in 1996 by a father-and-son team. Originally located in Brooklyn, it started production of .22 rimfire lever-action carbines in 1997. Ten years later, the headquarters moved to Bayonne, N.J. Around that time, Henry added a large production facility in Wisconsin, having bought out a major parts supplier. The two factories together add up to over 400 employees on nearly 250,000 square feet of floor space. In 20 years, Henry Repeating Arms produced more than 2.3 million rifles. Today, they are the seventh largest domestic gun maker in the US. That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident.

This Alabama attorney and Henry fan proudly carries her engraved American Beauty .22 lever action on horseback. (Above) Popular YouTube video blogger 22plinkster fires a Henry in .45-70.

THE ORIGINAL HENRY RIFLE was an important technical milestone, but the brand itself lasted only six years, from 1860 to 1866. The manufacturer, New Haven Arms Company, became Winchester Repeating Arms and its 1866 “Yellow Boy” became a runaway commercial success. It improved on the original design by sealing the tube magazine from the environment, and made it more suitable to military use with gate loading through the side of the receiver.

The Henry brand name went unused until it was resurrected in style by Louis and Anthony Imperato. This wasn’t the first rodeo for Louis, who had resurrected the Iver Johnson brand back in 1973 and, for a time, produced commercial M1 carbines of good quality. With the Henry brand, production began with modestly priced .22 rifles of good mechanical quality but a cheap-looking finish, then quickly progressed to a much better fit and finish, and more recently to a vast variety of rimfire and centerfire models.

The original blued .22 lever action boasts a nice wood and metal finish despite an affordable price.

The mainstay of the Henry brand remains the original H001, with well more than a million manufactured. Originally introduced at about half the price of its Browning and Marlin competitors, this classic proved as accurate and as reliable. Produced in blued and brasslite finish, it set the visual pattern for most Henry models. More recently, a silvery weatherproof finish was added as an additional option for hunting rifles.

Almost all Henry lever-action models follow the same design, using a rimfire-style magazine with a removable follower. While slower to load than the King’s patent gate introduced on Winchester 1866, this style of loading doesn’t ding up bullets or catch fingertips in the spring-loaded gate cover.

Henry’s lightweight AR-7 Survival Rifle in .22 fits inside its own waterproof stock when disassembled.

The tube magazine is covered by a wooden forend, except on the commemorative “Classic” 1860-style model with the original external magazine follower latch. The 1860 model improves on the original in the metallurgy and caliber options – .45 Colt or .44-40 Winchester instead of the weak and less safe .44 rimfire – without losing any of the historic feel. Considering that only 14,000 original Henry rifles were ever produced, having an extra 11,000 made for history buffs in the past couple of years definitely makes them more accessible to modern shooters. Henry also produces improved variants of the semiauto AR-7 Survival Rifle, a kids’ Mini Bolt and a pump in .22LR and .22WMR. Most recently, box magazine lever actions, break-open and suppressor ready models have been introduced – Henry clearly has no intention of resting on its laurels.
IN MY EXPERIENCE WITH HENRY OWNERS, I’ve found that few possess just one. In fact, it’s extremely common even for modest collections to have multiple lever actions, often spanning all calibers from .22 to .45-70. It’s also common for a Henry owner to buy additional Henry rifles as gifts for family members. Of all current rifle brands, Henry appears to command perhaps the highest customer loyalty. So, besides the good quality manufacturing and great accuracy, what draws and retains people to and with this maker to the exclusion of competing brands?

The recently redesigned Small Game Carbine (top) and Small Game Rifle each feature aperture sights for more precise aim.

The common manual of arms across most of the line-up is a true but minor point. The simplicity of their half-cock safety compared to the lawyer-mandated crossbolt “safety” of other brands (something that may be better termed a “disabling button”) is another small point in Henry’s favor. Another brand’s manual of arms was a rude surprise to me: pulling the trigger with the safety on produced what seemed like a misfire, with no indication that the safety was engaged, just the condition for dangerous game hunting! No such issues with Henry .45-70 or smaller rifles.

22plinkster, who goes by Dave Nash but withholds his real name, holds a Henry .22WMR pump.

Many new shooters who have tried lever actions alongside other types come back to the Henry rifles citing the subjective “fun of operation”, just hands-on enough to be interesting but sufficiently efficient for real-world uses such as hunting and marksmanship training.

Perhaps the more prominent reasons for the brand’s consistent popularity rest in the character of the company’s owner and employees. The slogan “Made in America or not made at all” speaks convincingly to people who prefer to see precision manufacturing jobs stay stateside. The lifetime warranty on rifles is another obvious argument for Henry. Since the defect rate is low, Henry has been able to honor warranties in a timely manner, and this sometimes includes completely replacing arms that have been damaged beyond repair by floods or fire.

Of all the current makers of firearms, the Henry company may have the most personally accessible owner. Deeply involved in the dayto-day operations of the company, Anthony Imperato remains reachable at trade shows and by phone or email. To Anthony, the reputation of the enterprise is a personal matter, and he tries to communicate to Henry customers as directly as possible. The personal involvement by him and other key members of the company have fostered an extensive and widely flung community of Henry rifle owners worldwide. As of this writing, the Henry Repeating Arms Facebook page has nearly 450,000 likes, an impressive level of popularity for a niche manufacturer selling a conservatively styled product.

Two Henry Big Boys on a safari, one in .45 Colt, the other in .45-70 Govt.

A Henry Big Boy in the classic .30-30 chambering.

As a student of commercial and political advertising, I must also note that when our previous president was snarking about people “clinging to their guns and their religion,” Henry print ads had a photo of a Bible in them. And while Henry doesn’t position itself as a “Christian” company, the manifested respect for its core constituency at the time when they were seemingly being beleaguered from the bully pulpit of the White House was a class act, and the attitude was noted and appreciated. Numerous tribute models celebrating public service and trade organizations – from the Boy Scouts to EMS – also added to the appreciation of the gun maker.

In the past two years, the number of models in the Henry line-up has nearly doubled. The expansion of its user base with less traditional owners has also accelerated, in part due to restrictions choking off more mainstream modern designs, and also to the quality and “non-scary” look of the rifles themselves. With a quality product, a growing user base, a responsive corporate culture and a hands-on owner, Henry Repeating Arms seems to be the poised to carry the old brand name far into the future with grander outlook than ever before. ASJ

A Henry Yellow Boy in .22 adds a classic look to this Western scenery.

Even a 6-year-old can understand gun safety if taught correctly, and this Henry Mini Bolt is just the right size for her to practice what she has learned.

Contact: Henry Repeating Arms henryusa.com

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , ,

January 3rd, 2017 by asjstaff

SIG Sauer’s 9mm pistol feels both new and familiar, and is an impressive addition to the MPX line.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

The MPX family of pistol-caliber firearms fixes the main flaw of close-bolt blowback designs: excessive bolt weight. Adapting the AR-15 platform to 9×19 Luger with a gas-piston action, SIG engineers cut the overall weight and the reciprocating bolt carrier in particular, making MPX lighter than other 9mm ARs and cutting the recoil intensity at the same time. The resulting weapon is available as a 16-inch carbine, and as submachine gun, short barrel rifle and pistol, all available with 8-inch or 4.5-inch barrels.

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

In the carbine form, the 7.6-pound overall weight of the weapon is no different from a rifle-caliber AR-15, making it more of a practice version of the 5.56, with less expensive ammo, less concussive report but substantially similar handling and manual of arms. The shorter barrel and forend of the 8-inch SBR and submachine gun variants bring the weight down to 6 pounds, and collapsed length down to 17 inches.

Unfortunately, National Firearms Act restrictions make the SMG unavailable except to government or corporate users, and the tax stamp and yearlong ATF turnaround on approving applications restrict the SBR. That leaves the pistol as the less legally encumbered purchase that can be turned into an SBR at a later date.

The 9mm Luger cartridge generated far smaller volume of gas than 5.56x45mm, so the MPX gas port is almost right at the chamber to generate sufficient pressure for cycling. With most 9mm loads, 8 inches is sufficient to get most of the potential velocity increase from the limited case volume. With the A2 flash hider, the muzzle signature is nonexistent.

 Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

As with other gas-operated pistol-caliber guns, the MPX favors full-power ammunition for reliability – in my testing, it ran perfectly with 115-, 124- and 147-grain SIGbrand defense and range ammunition, but short-stroked occasionally with wimpy commercial remanufactured ball. With full-power ammunition, MPX has less felt recoil than blowback guns had with subpar loads.

WHEN SUPPORTED, the MPX pistol is superbly accurate. When rested on an convenient cardboard box and sighted with a red dot, the pistol shot very small groups at 25 yards, especially favoring 124- and 147-grain SIG JHP ammunition.

Similar or slightly better results were obtained using the MPX submachine gun in semiautomatic mode. In auto mode, running at about 850 rounds per minute, it remains fairly controllable and will keep two- or three-shot bursts in A zone at 25 yards. The mechanics of the MPX design are very sound. Compared to HK MP5, it runs a good deal cleaner, especially when sound-suppressed. Takedown for cleaning and especially the reassembly are much simpler, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

MPX ergonomics are similar to AR-15, but with an emphasis on ambidextrous controls. Slide lock levers and magazine release buttons are duplicated on both sides, a helpful feature. On the left side, the controls could use more separation, as trying to lock the slide back sometimes caused a dropped magazine. The transparent, metal-reinforced polymer magazines made by Lancer are extremely reliable, durable and were easy to load. While more expensive than typically used single-feed Glock magazines, they are far more convenient in use. Available in 10-, 20- and 30-round capacity, MPX magazines fit any purpose, from combat to concealed carry to shooting from a range bench.

THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE between the SBR and the pistol is ergonomics. The pistol comes with a QD socket at the rear of the receiver, right under the rail for the arm brace or the stock. In theory, a solid shooting position can be established with the use of both hands and a stretched sling. In practice, holding a 6-pound weapon in outstretched arms gets tiring fairly soon. Practical accuracy is no better than with a conventional pistol, and the sling length and position make effective concealment difficult.

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.

 A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

Furthermore, the ambidextrous charging handle retained from the AR-15 has a tendency to entangle with the plastic sling fixtures, pulling the bolt out of battery and disabling the gun. At close range, especially indoors, the MPX pistol would be more stable if fired from the hip using a green laser for aiming.

In my opinion, the best fighting pistol made by SIG would be something like a full-size P226. The MPX is terrific as a carbine or a submachine gun, but – thanks to filling a regulatory niche created by illogical government regulations – is a pistol in name only. In reality, it’s a stockless carbine and would be best treated as a pre-SBR that the owner gets to take home before the tax stamp arrives.

If NFA regulations and restrictions aren’t your cup of tea, the 16-inch version of the MPX is superbly accurate, has almost no felt recoil and has a proper stock without requiring a tax stamp. For unsuppressed use, carbine-specific 9mm loads, such as 77- (2,000 feet per second) or 115-grain (1,500 fps) Overwatch, provide flat trajectory and effective terminal ballistics. From the 8-inch barrel, Sig V-Crown defensive loads are superior. With lower muzzle pressure than the pistol it also suppressed even more effectively, particularly with the SIG subsonic 147-grain load.

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

Unlike the 5.56mm AR-15, the MPX has no perceptible gas blowback reaching the shooter. Given the excellence of the MPX concept, we can only hope that NFA regulations would be rolled back in the coming year, putting all of its features into the hands of a large and very appreciative group of American firearms enthusiasts. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on SIG Sauer’s MPX line, see sigsauer.com.

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , ,

September 15th, 2016 by asjstaff

The Savage 220Y And The Winchester SX3 Provide Accuracy And Power Where Rifled Shotguns Are Needed Or Required

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

This 25-yard, three-shot group from a Savage 220Y firing Brenneke K.O. slugs measured 0.5 inches.

This 25-yard, three-shot group from a Savage 220Y firing Brenneke K.O. slugs measured 0.5 inches.

In modern America, rifled shotguns are hybrid creatures spawned mainly by regulatory compliance. Several states require them for deer hunting, with the justifications ranging from reduced range for densely populated areas to deliberately limited effectiveness to give deer a fighting chance. Their technical provenance, however, goes back quite a bit further.

The first bolt-action rifle adopted by Prussia in late 1840s, the Dreyse “needle gun”, used projectiles somewhere between 16 gauge and 20 gauge – a 1-ounce bullet riding a paper sabot at around 1,000 feet per second. As rifle designs improved and metallic cartridges came into use, several 1870s designs in Europe and the U.S. settled around .44 caliber, with ¾-ounce projectiles launched around 1,500 fps, a velocity sufficient to expand soft lead and provide massive stopping power on soft-skinned foes such as humans or leopards. Incidentally, that ballistic envelope is very similar to today’s 20-gauge hunting loads.

Dupleks Monolit 32 produced 0.6-inch three-shot groups at 25 yards with rifled Winchester SX3.

Dupleks Monolit 32 produced 0.6-inch three-shot groups at 25 yards with rifled Winchester SX3.

As people came upon more thick-skinned game, including Cape buffalo and grizzly bears, large-bore rifles gained popularity, culminating in the massive .700 Nitro Express. Similar to the 12-gauge shotgun in bore size, the .700 NE had three times the energy and massively greater penetration. Limited to lower-pressure actions, shotguns could not compete.

Big-bore rifles, however, had their downside as well. They were very expensive, had massive recoil and launched a day’s wages downrange with every trigger pull. Shotguns, while less powerful, were far cheaper to shoot and didn’t beat up the hunter nearly as badly. For most North American game, whether dangerous or merely edible, 12-gauge slugs were more than sufficient at close range.

At distance, some accuracy could be gained with rifled chokes or fully rifled barrels. As game regulations forced rifles out of hunters’ hands in several states, rifled shotguns enjoyed a resurgence. A few hunters even chose them over rifles for close-range use because of the massive payloads available, up to 2 ounces in 12 gauge. In many areas, the rifled shotgun became the working man’s safari rifle.

I TESTED TWO EXAMPLES of such hunting arms, the bolt-action Savage 220Y, a lightweight youth 20 gauge, and a Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck, a gas-operated semiauto 12 gauge. Both have fully rifled barrels intended mainly for sabot slugs. In addition to sabot loads, I also tried Brenneke-style slugs, which work in smooth or rifled barrels.

Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck rifled shotgun with Holosun red dot sight.

Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck rifled shotgun with Holosun red dot sight.

The Savage 220Y has no provision for iron sights, so I used it with a 1-4x Vortex scope. With ¾-ounce Brenneke K.O. slugs, it had moderate recoil and gave consistent three-shot groups at ½ inch at 25 yards, the longest distance available to me during the testing. Minimal muzzle flash, good accuracy and respectable terminal performance – around 18 inches of gel penetration with slight expansion to about 0.72 inches – all combine to make it a very viable load for deer or hogs. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest slugs suitable for rifled bores, at under a dollar per round! Rated at 1,475 fps at the muzzle, it comes out just a shade slower from the 22inch tube.

The Savage shotgun also did its part to help accuracy. Its Accutrigger is nice and crisp, and the bolt action was smooth. The only catch was inserting the two-shot box magazine: it has to be pressed against the back of the magazine well to lock in. Single shells may be loaded over an empty magazine through the ejection port.

A folding rear notch sight allows use of optics mounted low on the cantilevered rail of the Winchester SX3.

A folding rear notch sight allows use of optics mounted low on the cantilevered rail of the Winchester SX3.

I then tried 250-grain Hornady FTX and 260 Winchester Dual Bond Elite sabot slugs. Streamlined expanding bullets in plastic sabots have a reputation for accuracy, and both are rated at 1,800 fps muzzle velocity for flat trajectory. With the barrel slightly shorter than the test rig, both were in the low 1,700s from the 220Y, with a pronounced muzzle flash.

With both loads, I was quite surprised by the initial results: a bull’s-eye with each, followed by a hit half an inch off, followed by a third nearly 2 inches from the initial hole. I reshot the groups with both, and every time they opened up to nearly 7 minutes of angle with just three rounds.

Reading up on the problem, I discovered that sabot slugs shoot straightest from a cold bore. On the return range trip, I was able to shrink the groups by cooling the barrel for a couple of minutes between shots with the bolt open. Both loads shot within 1 inch at 25 yards, reasonable for 100-yard shots on deer, but not living up to the reputation.

With the flatter trajectory offset by decreased accuracy, these looked less useful than the Brennekes, except for one factor: most deer hunting involves one shot on a stationary deer. The first-shot accuracy – point of impact corresponding to the point of aim exactly – was excellent with both loads, and the flatter trajectory (about half as much drop at 100 yards compared to Brenneke) makes range estimation less critical.

THE WINCHESTER SX3 comes with a four-shot tube and an optic rail cantilevered off the barrel. That way, barrels may be swapped and replaced without a substantial shift in the zero. It also had a set of post and notch iron sights visible through the trough in the optic rail.

While adequate, these sights didn’t strike me as ideal, so I put a Holosun red dot on the rail for accuracy testing. I picked it over a larger magnified optic for two reasons: proximity to the bore line and the unlimited eye relief. I wasn’t sure what kind of recoil to expect.

It turns out that my concern was unfounded. The SX3 had no more recoil than the 20-gauge bolt action, thanks to the gas-operated autoloading. The solar-assisted red dot has two reticle options, a plain 2MOA dot and a dot inside 65MOA circle with hash marks for horizontal and vertical reference. That second reticle proved very useful for testing.

Since the main reason to choose a 12 gauge over a 20 is the raw power available, I went with two full-bore loads, Brenneke Green Lightning Short Magnum and DDupleks Monollit 32. Brenneke 1¼-ounce slugs rate at 1,475 fps, but actually recoiled less than the 1⅛-ounce Monolit rated at about 1,400 fps, which suggest the DDupleks load is more optimized for the relatively short 22-inch barrel. In fact, chronograph reports velocity closer to 1,500 fps.

Downrange, Brenneke Green Lightning expands very little, around 5 percent, but has nearly 35 inches of penetration. Combined with a semiwadcutter profile, it is less likely to glance off such barriers as hog skulls, and that makes it a very viable dangerous-game round.

The Latvian-produced Monolit 32 is a full-machined steel wadcutter supported by plastic driving bands and base. It shows no expansion upon impact and tends to resist deflection by branches and foliage. Gel penetration with it exceeds 40 inches in a straight line. Also, breaking large bones on the way to the vitals will use up quite a bit of the energy.

The two rounds are worthy of each other in terms of accuracy. With just a red dot sight, Brenneke yielded 0.6-inch groups at 25 yards, while Monolit spread 0.67 inches. The groups were extremely consistent and not affected by the barrel heating up. Points of impact moved very little between these two loads, at least at the distance to my backstop.

Direct loading of a Brenneke K.O. slug into the Savage 220Y ejection port.

Direct loading of a Brenneke K.O. slug into the Savage 220Y ejection port.

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL FIVE loads I tested were short, 2 3/4-inch shells, and both shotguns had 3-inch chambers. To maximize accuracy, you’d want to use 3-inch-long versions, as the projectiles wouldn’t have to jump extra quarter inch of freebore.

I picked the shorter loads to save wear on my shoulder which, in retrospect, turned out to be excessive caution. The recoil from both shotguns was fairly mild.

As a point of caution, the muzzle rise was fairly pronounced with both, so it’s worth holding onto the forend well to avoid a black eye from the scope eyepiece. Using a hasty sling, rifle style, provides both the stability for aimed shots and the extra resistance to muzzle rise.

For most meat hunting, the first shot matters the most, and each of these rifled shotguns should provide sufficient accuracy and power out to 100 to 150 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter and the size of the game. For dangerous game, the more powerful 12-gauge autoloader would also provide quicker follow-up shots in case the quarry isn’t alone or the first hit isn’t perfectly placed. For stalking meat game, either would work well, weighing in at around 8 pounds with the respective optical sights. ASJ

The Savage 220Y shotgun with 1-4x Vortex scope.

The Savage 220Y shotgun with 1-4x Vortex scope.

Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: , , , ,

July 13th, 2016 by asjstaff

Seven-shot Rifle Comes In Sporter, Classic, Varmint Models

Review And Photographs By Oleg Volk

Keystone Arms has long been known for single-shot .22-caliber bolt-actions for kids. Last year, they introduced a very unique repeater bolt action, which was released during the rimfire-ammunition shortage that happened not long ago. This gun came out with no fanfare and made very little impression in the gun industry. The Model 722, named for its seven-shot capacity and caliber, comes in three variants: the simple $262 Sporter, the more refined $315 Classic and the $340 heavy-barreled Varmint. They share all parts except the barrel and stock.

The bolt has a locking lug opposite the handle, which acts as a second lug, and the short length of the action permits a 20-inch barrel.

THE SEVEN-SHOT MAGAZINE is genius. The thick stainless-steel lips are smooth to the touch, and all seven rounds can be loaded quickly and effortlessly. Since all of the external edges are smoothly radiused, a handful of these mags can be carried in a pocket with no worry of them scratching each other.

You won’t find a magazine catch on this gun. The magazine is retained on both sides by a springy mag well. The magazine locks in solidly until the shooter pulls down on the magazine with moderate effort, and they cost around $22 each. Even though I have several, I found myself just reloading the same one in the field because the process was so quick and effortless.

The action is smooth and easy to run, and the symmetrical design operates with only a 50-degree throw, easily clearing even the largest scopes.

The seven-shot capacity is dictated by the curve of the ammunition stack. If there were more than seven, the cartridge would have to curve forward even more, requiring a more complex magazine body shape.

ALL VARIANTS OF the Model 722 come with a crisp 2-pound trigger with an overtravel adjustment. The bolt has a locking lug opposite the handle, which acts as a second lug. The action is smooth and easy to run. The symmetrical design operates with only a 50-degree throw, easily clearing even the largest scopes. The short 1.5-inch cycle distance makes for very quick loading. The short length of the action permits a 20-inch barrel on a very light and compact gun. The 13.25-inch length of pull makes it feel even smaller. The safety is a lever – forward for fire, back for safe. It clicks very positively, but the angle of throw is fairly small, so it’s sometimes hard to tell at a glance if it’s on. On the left side of the receiver there is a spring-loaded bolt retainer. The bolt does have to be cycled briskly for reliable ejection.

There isn’t a magazine release on this rifle. The magazine is retained by a springy magwell.

KEYSTONE ARMS’ SISTER company is Revolution Stocks, a premier aftermarket manufacturer. It’s no surprise that the stock quality for all three variants is superb, with a tight wood-to-metal finish. The decades of metalworking experience behind the Crickett brand also make for excellent action fit. Keystone didn’t skimp on the manufacturing process – even the trigger guard is a nicely machined part.

Just push the magazine in until it locks solidly into place, and pull down with moderate effort to remove.

THE CLASSIC IS lightweight at just 4.6 pounds, and feels even lighter, thanks to the good balance. The Varmint is a couple of pounds more, but the sculpted thumbhole stock makes

steadying it off-hand quite easy. The Classic comes standard with Williams Firesights, fiber optic front post and semibuckhorn rear that adjusts for windage and elevation. Picking up the front is very easy in any kind of light, but the bright fiber optic pipe on the front sight obscured at least 2.75 inches of the bull’s-eye, making precise alignment difficult. At best, my groups were 2 inches at 25 yards. After trying several kinds of ammunition, I gave up and scoped it with the dedicated Primary Arms 6x rimfire BDC scope in low rings and tried again. The results improved greatly: From prone at 80 yards, the CCI Green Tag ammo grouped at 1.25 inches, or about 1.5 minute of angle. Ammunition quality matters. Bulk .22 gave me 3MOA at best. Even with bulk Federal ammo, the BDC reticle made hits on pop cans placed 50 yards downrange routine. Shooting off of a lead sled indoors, without wind, produced 1.25MOA with Aguila Match, 1MOA with Aguila Super Extra subsonic and 2MOA with Federal 550-round bulk pack. I am guessing Green Tag would have come in at about 1.25MOA as well.

THE REAL ACCURACY testing was with the Varmint version. Prone at 25 yards produced a single seven-shot hole scarcely larger than the bullet diameter. Topped with the superb 6-24x Weaver with an adjustable objective, this rifle made extreme accuracy the default result. The slim 1-inch tube with a 40mm objective permitted low rings and thus minimal sight height over bore. The mildot reticle provided for drop compensation, and the focusable objective made for a crystal-clear view of the bull’s-eye obliterated by precision fire. Both CCI Green Tag and Aguila Rifle Match grouped near 0.6MOA, and Eley Match was right at 0.5MOA at 50 yards – a great performance for any rifle, and even more so for the budget-priced 722.

The Classic comes standard with Williams FireSights, fiber optic front post and semibuckhorn rear that adjusts for windage and elevation.

One exception to the versatility of the Varmint model comes from its match chamber incompatibility with the CCI Stinger hypervelocity round often used by actual varmint shooters. The Aguila equivalent works fine, as does the Winchester, but neither hypervelocity load equals the standard velocity loads in outright accuracy under controlled range conditions. In the real world with wind drift and imperfect range estimation, the faster loads perform almost as well as the match bullets.

Twin forend studs allow for simultaneous installation of a bipod and a shooting sling. Despite the greater weight, I consider the Varmint version the best of the three models not only for rested shooting but also for field hunting. The exception would be left-handed shooters, who would have to stick with the ambidextrous Classic stock design.

All variants of the Model 722 come with a crisp 2-pound trigger with an overtravel adjustment.

OTHER THAN THE QUICK but imprecise iron sights, Classic is a strong competitor to CZ455 Military Trainer. With optics, the 722 Varmint gives up nothing at all to the competition. Overall, the rifle is just fun to use. Its operation is so transparent that it feels like a natural extension of the marksman. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more info, go to keystonesportingarmsllc.com.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

June 30th, 2016 by asjstaff

Jard’s J67 Bullpup Carbine Comes With Uncommon Features • GUN REVIEW J67

Review And Photographs By Oleg Volk

This 7-pound bullpup has an overall length of 26¼ inches with a 16¾-inch barrel that is optionally threaded for a flash hider or sound suppressor.

This 7-pound bullpup has an overall length of 26¼ inches with a 16¾-inch barrel that is optionally threaded for a flash hider or sound suppressor.

Dean Van Marel of Jard, Inc. designed the J67 bullpup to be simple and inexpensive. Based loosely on Sten and Sterling submachinegun features, this odd-looking bullpup folded from aluminum sheets is quite different in actual use. At 7 pounds, it hearkens back to the age when pistol-caliber guns were sometimes front-line infantry weapons. Unlike Sten and Sterling, J67 ejects down behind the magazine and the controls are ambidextrous. The safety lever is modeled on M1 Garand, and Marel chose Glock magazines, common and available in various calibers, as the standard. In my experience, the Glock magazines worked perfectly, but aftermarket magazines wouldn’t lock into the magazine well at first. The mag-release lever has to be manually pushed forward the first time on each new aftermarket magazines, such as those from ETS Group and Magpul, but then the mags worked fine. Designed with a mag catch on both sides of the well, the J67 works only with Gen4-compliant magazines.PHOTO 8 J67_X5L_D6A0449hires

THE ACTION is straight blowback, but delivers less recoil than most .22 rifles. The trick is a relatively heavy – 18.8 ounce – bolt and substantial over travel past the magazine on each cycle. The same layout gives Keltec RDB and Ultimax 100 their low recoil, as well. Overall construction is extremely simple, and takedown is easy: Back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it for field stripping!

Because the felt recoil on the J67 is so low, the shooter may not find it necessary to upgrade to a recoil pad.

Because the felt recoil on the J67 is so low, the shooter may not find it necessary to upgrade to a recoil pad.

THE CARBINE’S OVERALL LENGTH is 26¼ inches, which includes the 16¾-inch barrel, and the muzzle is optionally threaded for a flash hider or sound suppressor. The carbine would work well suppressed, as the vents gas well away from the shooter. I shot 150 rounds of various ammunition and had zero stoppages of any kind. Moreover – and very unusually for 9mm carbines – the J67 shot all kinds of bullet weights and types well. Everything from Liberty 50-grain hypervelocity loads screaming at 2,550 feet per second to Federal 147-grain subsonic JHP fed, fired, extracted and printed between 2 and 3 minute of angle. Since the J67 is not a target rifle, I did my testing prone without a bipod: multiple five-shot strings of the same load grouped variously between 2 and 3MOA due to the marksman’s limitations. For a 9mm Luger long gun with a nontarget scope, that’s very respectable. It offers an excellent single-stage trigger – a Jard specialty – that helps with practical accuracy. Although each load shot tiny groups, the difference between impact centers of different loads could exceed 4MOA, so zeroing for a specific cartridge is recommended for long-range use.

After 150 rounds fired over the course of 30 minutes, there was very little debris in the J67’s action. There is a lot of room for particles to settle, should the gun run dirty for an extended amount of time.

After 150 rounds fired over the course of 30 minutes, there was very little debris in the J67’s action. There is a lot of room for particles to settle, should the gun run dirty for an extended amount of time.

PHOTO 5 jard_J67_bolt_D6A0879hiresAS REMARKABLE as the accuracy was for the variety of loads the J67 digested – ball, frangibles, hollow points, the highly sculptured G2 Rip – they all ran fine. All of the spent the brass collected right under the gun too. The ejection port is far enough forward that conventional marksmanship position with a shooter’s left hand under the buttplate works fine. Since I didn’t like the look of the corrugated metal buttplate, I originally put a Hi-Viz gel recoil pad on it. I shouldn’t have bothered, as the felt recoil, even without the pad, is negligible – easily less than with a semiauto .22 rifle. The length of pull is already fairly long at 14¾ inches, and one enhancement I do recommend is a neoprene cheekpad for use in cold weather. The heat endurance is good: I felt no appreciable change in temperature of the forend or the receiver after 150 rounds fired over half an hour. I deliberately photographed the action without cleaning it: very little junk goes into the receiver, and there’s lots of room for particles to settle should running dirty be required.

In field testing, we used numerous types of ammunition to include Liberty Civil Defense, Maker Bullet, L-Tec, Southern Ballistic Research, G2 RIP, Freedom Munitions and Federal, and all worked without failures over numerous rounds shot.

In field testing, we used numerous types of ammunition to include Liberty Civil Defense, Maker Bullet, L-Tec, Southern Ballistic Research, G2 RIP, Freedom Munitions and Federal, and all worked without failures over numerous rounds shot.

The nonreciprocating charging handles felt a little gritty at the start of the stroke, and could use more surface area for comfort, but it’s a minor gripe. Jard plans to offer larger charging handles as options. I would have liked some form of manual or automatic bolt hold-open, both for administrative chamber checks and to know when to reload. The absence of felt recoil or any hesitation during feeding makes it hard to feel when the gun runs dry. Fortunately, in serious use, that would only happen every 33 shots. While the carbine ships with a 17-round Magpul magazine, extended magazines make sense for the ease of handling as well as the higher capacity. I found that the safety lever flag would sometimes get activated when pushed against a bag in prone, but a stronger spring is available on request.

THE GUN MIGHT LOOK rough but it balances beautifully, and may run effectively with one hand. Because of its reliability with hypervelocity ammunition, the J67 has a pretty good aimed range. I ran with a 5x Primary Arms scope and a red-dot for closer ranges. At very close distances, Viridian X5L light/laser provides another aiming option with less bore offset than the topmounted red dot.

Field-stripping the J67 is a breeze. Just back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it!

Field-stripping the J67 is a breeze. Just back out and remove the thumbscrew in front of the action, pull the lower back to separate it from the upper, pull the captured recoil-spring assembly and drop the bolt out of the back of the upper. That’s it!

.IN SUMMARY, the J67 is a reliable and capable carbine that’s fun to use. Excellent practical accuracy and imperceptible recoil make it a contender in recreational and hunting applications. Excellent reliability and suppressor compatibility make it viable for self defense. At $899 list price, it’s not as inexpensive as intended, but the performance justifies the price and then some! The only serious competitor to it in low recoil and accuracy is the more expensive Sig MPX. To learn more, go to jardinc.com/jard-j67. ASJ

Jard’s J67 bullpup carbine was created for use with Glock Gen4-compliant magazines, and offers extremely low felt recoil – less than most .22s – and high accuracy.

Jard’s J67 bullpup carbine was created for use with Glock Gen4-compliant magazines, and offers extremely low felt recoil – less than most .22s – and high accuracy.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

May 25th, 2016 by asjstaff

Evaluating Guncrafter Industries’ Model No. 4 50 GI

Story and photographs by Oleg Volk

Handguns are almost always inferior to rifles in terms of accuracy and stopping power. Since defensive fighting usually happens up close, those qualities are important, but casual carrying of long guns is not socially acceptable in much of the world. The solution is to use the most powerful handgun that’s still practical for unsupported firing. Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 Hunting pistol attempts to create exactly that kind of weapon by combining 6 inches of barrel with a .50-caliber bore, the largest legally possible without National Firearms Act paperwork. That way, the projectile already has an impressive frontal area, 23 percent wider than .45 ACP, and 15 percent higher velocity for the same 230-grain bullet weight. For hog hunting use, slower but much denser 300-grain bullets are available. While less energetic than a hot 10mm auto load, the 50 GI is more efficient by not having to use as much of the kinetic energy to expand the projectile.

Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch, whether you’re carrying for self-defense or hunting hogs

Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch, whether you’re carrying for self-defense or hunting hogs.

The 50 GI accomplishes all that with the pressure of only 15,000 pounds per square inch. With the 6-inch barrel, especially, it gives much-reduced muzzle blast compared to other powerful defensive chamberings intended to supplant .45 ACP. While the case has a rebated rim like .50 AE, it’s straight rather than tapered. Seven cartridges fit a regular 1911 magazine.

Gun reviewer Oleg Volk reports that the plain rear sight combined with a tritium front sight works well in moderate light, and it’s easy for the eye to pick up the chartreuse vial.

Recoil was the same as with a standard .45 ACP Government model, and the pistol showed impressive practical accuracy. Fired at the rate of about a shot per second, Model 4 gave one inch dispersion at 10 yards with all four loads. The sights as supplied were regulated for 230-grain HP and 300-grain JFP ammunition, with 185-grain HP hitting slightly lower and a 275-grainer an inch higher. At 25 yards, the groups predictably scaled to 2.5 inches, which is quite good for a fighting pistol with iron sights. The combination of plain rear sights and tritium front worked well in moderate light, with the eye focusing on the vial with ease. With the long slide providing a nice forward balance, the sights returned on target readily. Overall weight is only a couple of ounces more than a regular M1911. The pistol is available in a wide variety of finishes and with various sight options.

Unlike the texturing on some high-powered handguns’ grips, the 50 GI comes with enough to hold onto it while it kicks, but isn’t so rough that it’ll chew up your hands at the range. The reviewer reports that while it shoots like any 1911 out there, the difference is in how much impact it delivers downrange.

Magazines required a good smack to seat on a closed slide when full, and dropped free when empty. The textured slide release worked well, so that I didn’t even bother with dropping the slide with the weak hand. The degree of texturing was sufficient for retention, not enough to abrade the hands. Unlike .357 Coonan, the Model 4 in 50 GI didn’t require conscious wrestling back out of recoil. It shot like any other 1911, with the sole difference of delivering a greater impact downrange. The report was not noticeably different. The muzzle flash was not visible in daylight.

So for the cost of dropping the full capacity from 8+1 to 7+1, it is possible to get a well behaved but more powerful weapon with the familiar form factor. The only down side I found has been the price: the pistol lists for a bit over $4,100, magazines are $50 each, and the ammunition runs $30 to $50 per 20-round box. I plan on talking to a couple of manufacturers to see if cheaper target ammunition may be developed for practice. ASJ

A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.

A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

May 3rd, 2016 by asjstaff

International Guns And Gun Laws

Story by Alexandria Kincaid

Picture a tiny, Christmas town filled with classic Alpine chalets and surrounded by mountains, with the citizens working dutifully to contribute to the common good,  and you will envision Zermatt, Switzerland. Zermatt is a picturesque tourist town that would fit the typical political progressive’s idea of utopia on earth: modern, clean and government-controlled. Environmental preservation is key. Residents pride themselves on the pure, glacial water flowing through the town. Cars are banned, except for the few licensees who are permitted to drive electric vehicles. I spoke with a shopkeeper who explained the government’s protection of the Swiss deer. If you hit a deer on the road, you had better report it and pay your fine. Unlicensed deer murderers are not tolerated. Switzerland’s per-capita income is extremely high, but according to this shopkeeper, much of her taxes fund government programs.

Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates. 

On our first morning in Zermatt, my husband and I, like most tourists, gazed at the Matterhorn through our hotel room window and eagerly stepped out for a walk. This walk is where the progressives’ utopia would end: Within five minutes of leaving our hotel, a young man with a rifle slung over his shoulder passed us heading in the opposite direction. No one was staring. No one was concerned. No one got hurt. The man, in fact, was the epitome of normal. He looked ruddy and healthy, and was clean-shaven and well-dressed.

While visiting Switzerland, I came across a local gentleman walking down the street casually carrying his rifle. This is common here, and not considered a cause for alarm. (OLEG VOLK)

While visiting Switzerland, I came across a local gentleman walking down the street casually carrying his rifle. This is common here, and not considered a cause for alarm. (OLEG VOLK)

FIREARMS IN SWITZERLAND are no cause for concern. Until recently, the Swiss could own almost any kind of firearm, including anti-aircraft guns and howitzers. Since 1291, it has been said that Switzerland does not have an army – it is an army. With a “rifle behind every blade of grass,” the same was thought about the United States years ago. Swiss men undergo mandatory military training, which is voluntary for women, and until 2011, these militia men and women ranging in age from 20 to 42 were even required to keep their military rifles at home. In 2011, the laws were changed and now allows the militia an option to keep their rifles in a local armory.
Like the US, Switzerland’s leniency towards firearms has taken a bashing from gun prohibitionists in recent  years. The Swiss also receive pressure from the UN and the European Union, to which Switzerland does not subscribe, but from which the country will apparently be influenced. In 2013, anti-gun organizations attempted to ban army rifles from homes altogether. To the relief of Swiss gun owners, the change was rejected by 56 percent of voters. However, some changes to the laws were implemented, such as a list of now-forbidden firearms.
Despite the recent changes, Switzerland still has a relatively lenient gun-ownership system. Approximately 2.3 to 4.5 million military and private firearms are estimated to be in circulation in Switzerland – a lot of firearms for a country with a population of only eight million people. While citizens wishing to purchase a firearm from a dealer must obtain a government-issued permit, the government routinely and without hassle provides these permits to applicants who do not have a criminal background and are not mentally ill.
Transfers between private individuals do not need a government permit, but the buyer and seller must create a written record of the transaction, keep the record for 10 years and provide a copy to the government. No government background checks are required on these private-party transfers.

WHILE THE EXACT NUMBERS differ depending on who is counting, the conclusions about Switzerland’s gun ownership and crime rates are the same: gun control laws are relaxed (virtually any citizen can own a firearm), gun ownership is high and crime rates are low.

In 2011, the Swiss Federal Police compiled statistics on gun-related crimes which showed that during 2009, the police investigated 236 homicides, of which 55 were allegedly committed with a gun. During the same year 524 aggravated batteries were reported, 11 of which involved gun use and 3,530 robberies were reported, of which 416 were committed with a gun. Switzerland has a population of 7.9 million. Switzerland also has the third-lowest homicide rate of the top nine major European countries. To date, Switzerland has not hosted a school massacre. This is true, despite kids and guns mixing freely in the Swiss culture. The traditional Swiss Knabenschiessen is an event for boys and girls age 13 to 17 years old in Zurich where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. The event has taken place since 1657. The Swiss support this mix of kids, Sturmgewehr (the “SG” in Sig SG), Alps, cowbells, music and rifle fire as an event the whole family can enjoy.

Many people across Europe own firearms, and shooting events are highly anticipated community and family affairs. (OLEG VOLK)

Many people across Europe own firearms, and shooting events are highly anticipated community and family affairs. (OLEG VOLK)

Contrary to popular belief, Switzerland is not alone among European countries in its relaxed gun laws and low crime rates. Numerous Europeans own guns. Luxembourg, Finland, Lichtenstein and Belgium are a few other countries that allow citizens to obtain firearms after getting a permit; however, the applicant must generally provide a reason such as hunting, sport shooting or collecting. Self-defense licenses allowing a person to carry outside their home are generally more difficult to obtain but are available. Austrians also own quite a few guns. Austria maintains an expensive training, testing and permitting process. However, Austrians enjoy the ability to freely purchase some firearms, including certain bolt-action firearms and shotguns, provided they are registered within six weeks after purchase.

I expected my journey to countries with high numbers of Nazi concentration camps, such as Poland, to have citizens armed to the teeth in case they should have to defend themselves against such atrocities again. Not the case. While Polish laws are lenient on firearm ownership, citizens do not naturally opt to own them, and this country has some of the lowest gun ownership rates in Europe. (ERIC KINCAID)

I expected my journey to countries with high numbers of Nazi concentration camps, such as Poland, to have citizens armed to the teeth in case they should have to defend themselves against such atrocities again. Not the case. While Polish laws are lenient on firearm ownership, citizens do not naturally opt to own them, and this country has some of the lowest gun ownership rates in Europe. (ERIC KINCAID)

IN OUR QUEST for more information on both history and firearms, my husband and I traveled to Poland to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. How could the Poles not own guns? After all, it was the few Poles with firearms – just 10 handguns – in the Warsaw ghetto who were able to resist and begin the uprising against the Nazis. If the Polish people, comprising a population of about 45 million, each had owned even a single firearm, they could prevent an atrocity like the Holocaust from ever happening again. These prison camps have enshrined several tons of human hair, the prisoners’ eyeglasses, luggage and other belongings behind glass. We stood in the same spot as did the helpless, disarmed victims who were taken off the trains like cattle and sorted to live or die. I grew up listening to stories from my German grandparents of the horrors of World War II in Europe. The Poles, I thought, must own firearms. Not so.
Polish gun ownership is the lowest in the European Union. Yet, while recent changes to their gun laws would allow virtually any Pole to acquire a firearm, not many of them choose to take advantage of this newfound ability. Perhaps this will change in the future.IMG_2387

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES with stricter gun-control laws include Germany and France. Despite this, Germany still has a high rate of firearm ownership – millions of firearms are legally possessed with a Waffenbesitzkarte (firearms ownership license). Hunting and sport shooting are held in high regard, although self-defense is not deemed an appropriate reason to receive an ownership permit. Better than the Oktoberfest, the German’s annual Schützenfest in Hannover attracts over 5,000 marksmen every year. The highest scoring sharpshooter is crowned the Schützenkönig amidst the parade (the longest in the world), bands, rides and beer tents.
France restricts the types of weapons and magazine capacities for firearms and requires a government-issued permit to own a firearm. The French do not have the gun culture found in other countries like Germany or Switzerland. After the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, Americans were quick to point out that if anyone had been armed, the death rate could have been much lower. Americans also pointed out that the gun-control laws banning certain firearms, limiting magazine size and emphasizing hunting and sport rather than self-defense did not prevent the terrorists from bringing guns into the country and slaughtering over a hundred people. Despite France’s gun-control system for citizens who obey the laws, the terrorists in Paris used AK-47s that were illegally possessed and illegally transported into the country. It appears that Europeans are reassessing their situation. While the Knabenschiessen and Schutzenfest attest to the fact that many Europeans view firearms and shooting as a wholesome community activity, the increase in defensive weapons sales also attest to the desire of Europeans to use firearms in self-defense.PHOTO 6 Birkenowfenseandruins
In fact, after the influx of Islamic refugees to Germany in 2015, guns began “flying off the shelves,” according to a Czech TV report, in the countries where citizens could purchase them, particularly in Austria. The increase in crimes, including rapes and assaults, in countries where these immigrants are welcomed and where they are passing through has made citizens stop and think about their personal safety. Austrian gun stores reported being sold out.
When in fear for their safety, Europeans, like everyone else, desire the right to defend themselves, but some of these countries’ progressive laws have made their citizens vulnerable to attack from individual criminals and terrorists because some deny gun ownership to people wishing to own firearms solely for self-defense reasons. If the high rate of firearm purchasing in countries where this is possible is any indication, Europeans wish they had a Second Amendment.

COUNTRIES WITH STRONGER gun-control laws include Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and South Africa. After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, the government instituted strict gun control through the National Firearms Agreement, which restricts possession of semiautomatic and automatic firearms, requires registration, permitting and instituted a buy-back program (which brought in over 650,000 guns from the citizenry). Previously, only handguns needed to be registered in Australia.

Switzerland holds a traditional annual event for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 called the Knabenschiessen where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. (OLEG VOLK)

Switzerland holds a traditional annual event for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 called the Knabenschiessen where they enjoy the pleasure of competing with Sig SG 550s. (OLEG VOLK)

Similarly, after highly publicized criminal activity including a mass shooting in the late 1980s, the United Kingdom enacted new gun-control laws that included banning certain firearms such as semiautomatic rifles, creating a strict licensing and registration system and instituting a buy-back program. An outright handgun ban was passed after another mass school shooting in 1996. Despite these laws, crime rates continued to rise, and recent facts – checked by Politifact – indicate that England and Wales have more than double the violent crime rate of the United States (comparing violence with injury against a person, serious sexual crime and robbery).

In the back of a little antique store in Sainte Mère-Église, France, among much WWII paraphernalia, I found this fantastic war-related rifle collection. The town is just a few miles from Utah Beach. (ERIC KINCAID)

In the back of a little antique store in Sainte Mère-Église, France, among much WWII paraphernalia, I found this fantastic war-related rifle collection. The town is just a few miles from Utah Beach. (ERIC KINCAID)

All firearms in Brazil are required to be registered with the government, and self defense is not a valid reason to request a permit. All guns are registered, confiscations occur and permits to legally own guns are routinely denied. This has not stopped Brazil from being a world leader in homicide, a fact supported by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
South Africa is another country with a strict permitting system for legal gun ownership, and a professional hunter described to me how the right, let’s say, “motivation” for owning a gun, as well as certain financial incentives, is what will ultimately decide who can possess a firearm. Despite the strict permitting laws, South Africa’s gun violence stems from the illegal possession of firearms by the people who do not respect the law and disregard the permitting process.This seems to be a reoccurring theme. All of the countries with strict gun-control laws also boast higher violent-crime rates than countries with higher rates of legal gun ownership. England and Australia have virtually banned gun ownership, but have the highest rates of robbery, sexual assault and assault with force. Britain has the highest rate of violent crime in all of Europe – higher in the early 2000s than the United States or even South Africa. In addition, these countries may have low legal firearms ownership rates, but the possession of illegal firearms can be very high, particularly in Brazil and South Africa.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, guns are part of life the world over. Countries with gun cultures that respect firearms and integrate ownership and responsibility into daily life and sporting events enjoy high rates of legal gun ownership and lower rates of violent crime. In other words, there is no correlation between legal gun ownership and increased crime rates. Instead, countries with some of the strictest gun-control laws boast the highest illegal gun possession rates and correlating murder rates in the world, such as Brazil. Even with high rates of legal gun ownership, the United States and Switzerland do not lead the world in violent crimes, homicides or gun violence. Instead, it correlates to low rates of crime. These facts are laid out plainly in research that has been conducted and compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Institute and in additional fact-checking supported by Politifact. In summary, you can own firearms in many other countries, and in some a wide variety that are not readily available to US citizens. The laws often created by a country’s history and culture define the rule. ASJ

Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates. (ERIC KINCAID)

Gun laws around the world vary greatly. Many countries have very lenient gun-ownership laws, and statistics show that they benefit from very low crime rates. (ERIC KINCAID)

Posted in History Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

April 30th, 2016 by asjstaff

Petite vz. 58 Bridges The Gap Between Submachine Gun And Rifle

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

The Samopal vzor 58, or Automatic weapon model 58, was put into Czechoslovak military service in the late 1950s. A very lightweight 7.62×39 carbine with a short-stroke piston action, it was one of the first Czech arms to use the Soviet cartridge instead of the longer native round. Lighter than the AK-47 by 1.3 pounds, it also used alloy magazines that weighed half of the steel AK-47 mags. Although similar in overall size to the AK, the slimmer pistol grip and stock gave it a more dainty look. Besides Czechoslovak army use, the rifle was exported to about 20 countries, mainly in the Third World. With the 15.4-inch barrel extended to 16 inches with a shroud and automatic capability removed, it is now available in the US through Czechpoint USA of Knoxville, Tenn.

The action design is a short-stroke piston that acts on a locking block, which is separate from the bolt and carrier but attaches to both. It’s almost like a rifle version of the Walther P38 or Beretta M9.

SINCE THE FIRST 1915 Fedorov’s Avtomat chambered for the 6.5mm Arisaka cartridge, Russian, then Soviet and later Eastern Bloc countries made little terminological distinction between submachine guns and light automatic rifles. What they termed automatic rifles were full power 7.62mm types, while the PPSh41 and AK-47 were both commonly termed avtomat. A technical term for submachine gun existed, but it wasn’t in common use. The doctrinal niche for the early automatic rifles was almost the same as for the pistol-caliber SMGs. To that end, the Czechoslovak vz58 was designed more along the lines of an MP5 or XM177 than an M16 or a Sig550. It’s handy in close quarters and usable further out, a more defense-oriented design than the rifleman’s ideal rifle of certain military branches that is only usable up close as an afterthought.

The action design is quite unusual: a short-stroke piston acts on a locking block that is separate from the bolt and the carrier, but it attaches to both. It’s almost like a rifle version of the Walther P38 or Beretta M9 in that regard. The lugs of the locking block engage with the steel rails inside the machined aluminum receiver.

The lightweight magazine, externally similar to the AK mag, holds 30 rounds and rocks in the same way, though with far less effort required for proper alignment with the receiver. With the action locked open after the last round or manually with the plunger near the trigger guard, the magazine may be topped off with stripper clips. Ten-round magazines are also available for bench shooting or in restricted states. The magazine may be safely used as a hand-hold, and there is absolutely no play in the lockup.

THE RIFLE IS AVAILABLE in three variants: with a fixed resin-impregnated wood stock, a folding-wire stock and a collapsible stock with railed forend. I mainly use the fixed wood stock by preference. Because of the short length of pull and relatively light weight, the carbine can be effectively run by 10-year-old kids. Felt recoil is very mild, even below that of the heavier AK-47, and the rotary safety is easy to reach, at least for right-handed shooters. While manual bolt hold-open is provided, bolt release requires operating the charging handle integral to the bolt carrier. All major action components, including the bore and the gas piston, are chrome-plated for better corrosion resistance.

The lightweight magazine holds 30 rounds, and 10-round magazines are available for bench shooting or for restricted states. The magazine can also be topped off with stripper clips.

RELIABILITY IN MY USE has been 100 percent over about 1,000 rounds without cleaning. The rifle runs extremely cleanly, and the receiver contains minimal carbon residue even now. However, the lightweight barrel and the operating system does impose tactical limitations, the most obvious being accuracy and heat endurance. The rifle can fire about 60 rounds in a row before the forend gets uncomfortably hot. For military use, that can be an issue, while for personal defense less likely. With the stock iron sights, I and other shooters got groups around 5 minute of angle with Comblock military surplus and Russian commercial ammunition, and about 4MOA with premium US and European brands, like Federal and Fiocchi. The constraint is almost certainly the sighting. The railed forend on the tactical version proved too unsteady for the red dot. Other forend options exist for this rifle, but I have not upgraded it yet. Neither of my carbines have side rails for optics. People who set up their vz58 rifles with magnified optics and raised cheek rests report 3MOA dispersion.

That makes sense: The 5.56mm version of vz58 with a red dot yields about 2MOA, thanks to the relatively heavier barrel – the outer diameter is the same and the bore is smaller. I left my 7.62 carbines unscoped, but replaced the front sight post with a Hi-Viz fiber optic for quicker acquisition. The rear-sight leaf marked from 100 meters to 800 meters is an exercise in optimism for single shots, but reflects the old military doctrine of creating beaten zones at long range using small arms.

In my mind, the best niche for this carbine is self-defense. It’s reliable, handy and may be fired with one hand if necessary. I have yet to find a record of a nonmilitary self-defense situation in which 4MOA or the two magazine rapid-fire heat endurance would have been deal-breakers. Using the tactical version with a vertical foregrip extends the heat endurance to about 100 rounds the barrel can take more heat than the shooter’s support hand. The 2011 tactical version I have was not a success overall: the current Czechpoint offering uses a modified Magpul forend instead for much better ergonomics.

The rifle runs extremely cleanly, and the receiver contains minimal carbon residue even after 1,000 rounds. The lightweight barrel and the operating system seems better suited for personal-defense.

Czechpoint USA’s vz. 58 Carbine in 7.62×39 is the equivalent of the Czech automatic weapon model 58 with a few modifications: an extended 16-inch barrel with shroud and the automatic capability removed.

THE RIFLE FEEDS SOFT-POINT and hollow-point ammunition reliably. So far, the best defensive loads I found are Corbon DPX, G2 Trident Ripout and Federal Powershock. All give substantial expansion – up to 0.9 inches with Trident – and 16 to 20 inches of gel penetration. While the vz58 classic has no flash hider, it produces minimal illumination with these loads. The tactical model comes with a needlessly concussive pinned-and-welded muzzle brake best replaced with a flash hider by a gunsmith. Vz58 is very suppressor friendly, despite the gas system without a manual regulator. One of the demo rifles used by Czechpoint is a short-barreled suppressed version that they run very hot during range events.
Vz58 appears to be what the Ruger Mini-30 was supposed to become, a light and handy .30-caliber carbine for short-range use. It fills the same niche as the M1 carbine, providing a little less accuracy but more power. The vz58 handles out of proportion to its specifications and proved reliable with a wide variety of ammunition. It’s one of the most pleasant intermediate cartridge rifles in range use, and I recommend it as one of the basic choices for self-defense. ASJ

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

February 23rd, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

Story by Alex Kincaid • Photographs by Oleg Volk

 

After the new ATF rule affecting gun trusts was signed into law on January 4 2016, I quickly turned to my newly published book, Infringed, to see how much of the information would now be out of date. I devoted several chapters to explaining the possession and transfer of National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms and the benefits of gun trusts.

After reviewing all of the chapters with gun-trust specific information, I smirked to myself. Only one paragraph out of the entire book would need to be updated. Like much of the current gun-control measures, the new gun-trust loophole rule doesn’t accomplish much except to cause spontaneous, enthusiastic applause from those who believe the rhetoric.

A new mandate titled Rule 41F is going to take effect on July 13, 2016. This rule will make changes to the current laws surrounding National Firearms Act guns in gun trusts and the new paperwork required to transfer them.

It was asserted that Rule 41F will prevent gun violence, because it will require background checks “for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.”

The problem is, every person who uses a trust to purchase a firearm has always – even before this new rule – undergone a background check by completing Form 4473 at the dealer’s office

The problem is, every person who uses a trust to purchase a firearm has always – even before this new rule – undergone a background check by completing Form 4473 at the dealer’s office, just as with every other gun purchase in America. It is also worth noting that criminals do not create gun trusts or submit paperwork to the ATF to purchase a firearm. Even more, in a properly drafted gun trust, the trust terms specifically prohibit the transfer of firearms to anyone who is prohibited under federal, state or local law from possessing a firearm. In fact, one of the primary reasons I draft gun trusts for my clients is to help gun owners and their families obey the gun laws by working within the confines of our government’s parameters.
The “most dangerous weapons” referenced by the current Administration are firearms subject to the NFA – silencers, short-barreled rifles and shotguns and fully automatic firearms, to name a few. These firearms are rarely used by criminals. The mass shootings that have supposedly prompted this new rule did not involve NFA firearms.

 

Why doesn’t the new rule affect crime?

Because it targets law-abiding Americans, not criminals. Contrary to the proposed assertion that Rule 41F only succeeds in imposing a new tax burden on working Americans to the tune of at least $5.8 million a year, and imposing more bureaucracy on law-abiding citizens who wish to acquire NFA firearms, lawful purchasers of these items will now need to submit even more paperwork – photographs and fingerprints – to the ATF and yet more to local law-enforcement agencies – a notice that they are attempting to purchase an NFA firearm. All of this is in addition to the special ATF forms requiring personal information and undergoing the regular NICS background check, which has always been standard.
Targeting law-abiding citizens to effect gun control is not new. When Congress passed the NFA in 1934, it did so with the intent to tax certain firearms so they would be unaffordable. The authorities knew the criminals would not register their firearms. Instead, they intended to make the purchase of certain firearms so expensive, due to the new tax, that the average American could not afford to purchase them. In 1986, another law affecting citizens was passed – the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) completely banned civilians from possessing or transferring machine guns manufactured after 1986. This law was passed even though approximately 175,000 machine guns were in circulation at the time, and not a single one was linked to criminal activity. The new law, however, made the limited machine guns that could still be possessed and transferred unaffordable for most. Despite the inconvenient effects of Rule 41F, rest assured that the rule does not affect the heart and soul of gun trusts. It does not change the primary reasons for creating a trust to hold your firearms. The rule only creates an inconvenience that should prompt you to create a gun trust and purchase NFA firearms prior to the rule’s effective date of July 13, 2016.

The ATF has not weighed in on their interpretation of Rule 41F. This means that the laws are still not fully understood or in place.

Why do gun owners create gun trusts?

A gun trust is a special type of trust that is designed to hold all of your firearms and firearms-related accessories. Gun trusts make it much easier for your loved ones to handle your firearms should you become incapacitated or die, boosts your ability to share and transfer NFA firearms and helps ensure all state and federal laws are followed.
Gun trusts have become the planning tool for gun owners whose collections include NFA firearms. One of the primary reasons is the ability to share possession of the NFA firearms with other trustees. Unlike other firearms, unless restricted by your state’s laws, NFA firearms can only be possessed by the person to whom the firearm is registered. There is no exception for family members or other people with whom you live. If you leave your NFA firearm at home where it is accessible to other people, you and the other people in your home are violating federal law.
Most NFA gun owners are aware of this gun-trust benefit. But many gun owners are not aware that gun trusts are important tools for all gun owners, whether or not a collection includes NFA firearms.
Gun trusts are important for all gun owners, because they prepare you and your loved ones for your death and incapacity by responsibly addressing your firearms and keeping your affairs out of the court system. Planning for the possibility that you will be incapacitated (whether from age or accident), even if temporarily, is important for everyone. It is even more important for gun owners, because if you don’t plan, then government has a plan for you. The government’s plan is a public, expensive, judge-controlled system that will take away your right to own a firearm.
All gun owners should try to avoid the court system if they are incapacitated or die by creating general estate planning documents and a gun trust.

AWC Silencer

One of the primary reasons to have a gun trust is the ability to share possession of NFA items such as this AWC silencer. (AWC SILENCERS)

What does a properly drafted gun trust look like?

When properly written, gun trusts are powerful asset protection and estate planning tools. A well-drafted gun trust will achieve the following for the gun owner who creates the trust:

1) Ensure that friends and family can lawfully possess and transfer trust-owned firearms during the gun owner’s lifetime;

2) Create a private plan that completely avoids the court system for all firearms if the gun owner becomes incapacitated or dies;

3) Assists gun owners in sharing NFA firearms with other law-abiding gun owners;

4) Helps the successors and heirs understand the gun owner’s desires related to all the trust-owned firearms;

5) Helps the ones you care about to comply with firearms laws when they possess or transfer the firearms;

6) Assists the gun owner to own firearms in more than one state; and

7) Ensures that neither gun owner nor any loved ones commits an accidental felony. All of these gun-trust benefits are not affected by Rule 41F.

 

How Will Rule 41F Affect Gun Trusts?

Tax Stamp

A $200 tax stamp is required when transferring any NFA-categorized firearm or instrument.

Rule 41F only affects gun trusts that will hold NFA firearms. If your trust holds or will acquire NFA firearms, know that anyone who is listed as a responsible party of the trust will need to provide additional information for the government registry.
All questions about the new rule cannot yet be answered. This is because the ATF will be issuing further guidelines in the future. These guidelines will explain the ATF’s interpretation of Rule 41F. Until these guidelines are issued, some questions about how Rule 41F will affect trusts remain unknown. For now, we know the following:
If your gun trust was prepared by my office, we may suggest a few revisions, but your gun trust is still a great tool and will not be invalidated by the new rule. Under Rule 41F, the only responsible parties in our trusts are the trust’s current trustees and the grantor (creator) of the trust. We are creating a method (and waiting for the ATF guidelines) to make the future acquisition of NFA firearms as seamless as possible for our clients. We will be updating you with more direction as soon as we believe the advice to be solid and unchanged by the new ATF guidelines.
♠ If you do not have a gun trust, now is the time to get it done and submit paperwork to the ATF for any NFA firearms you have been hoping to acquire. If you submit the paperwork prior to July 13, 2016, you will not need to submit an extra set of fingerprints or a photograph, or send a notice to your chief law enforcement officer (CLEO);
♠ If you acquire NFA firearms after July 13, 2016, you will need to submit a photograph, fingerprints and a CLEO notice, but you do not need to update the ATF when adding more trustees to your trust (responsible parties) after you receive your tax stamp. So, if you create a trust and submit an application to acquire these “most dangerous weapons” prior to the rule taking effect on July 13, then you will not need to provide additional information unless you make another purchase after adding responsible parties to your trust. There is no need to update the ATF when adding responsible persons (more trustees) between applications.
♠ My colleagues and I are actively working on materials to update trusts, advise if your trust needs to be updated, and provide future guidance on utilizing a gun trust.
♠ If you have a trust provided by a gun shop or an online form, we can assist you in reviewing your trust to determine if any changes need to be made. For people who purchased an NFA trust from a gun shop or someone who isn’t a lawyer, you are likely in need of a lot of assistance.

PHOTO 5 gemtech_22mag_suppressor_1617In summary, the undesirable affect on most individual gun owners of the proposed rule is that anyone considered a responsible person on a gun trust must submit a photograph, fingerprints and send notice to law enforcement to receive or make an NFA firearm.
Sharing the possession of NFA firearms through a gun trust remains a wonderful benefit of a properly drafted trust. However, our gun trusts are designed to provide this benefit and so much more: They are legal gun safes that will alert unknowledgeable citizens and attorneys to the restrictions on the transfer and possession of firearms, they outline a plan for the gun owner’s death and also for the gun owner’s incapacity, and they create a dynasty trust for the gun owner’s children. ASJ

Posted in Industry Tagged with: , , , , ,

February 11th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

Tiny Packages Pack Firepower

Why Industry Big Guns Have Faith In This Tiny Shooter

Story and photographs by Oleg Volk

Alexis Nicole Welch

Meet 8-year-old Shooting Phenom Alexis Welch

Some people are larger than life. They are rare. Even more rare are children whose accomplishments would make any adult proud. Alexis Welch of western Kentucky is one such kid. If a writer used Alexis as a book character, most of the readers would have accused them of being unrealistic – nobody is that multitalented, at least in the mundane world where most people live. And yet, Alexis is quite real and keeps getting more impressive by the day.lexis started shooting at age five. Her grandfather Tryce “PaPa” Welch had already raised one competitor, his daughter Stephanie who became a professional motorcycle racer. Her career was cut short by an injury after a very promising start. Unlike her mother, Alexis had little interest in riding dirt bikes, but a keen desire to shoot guns. The competitive aspects of marksmanship were a mystery to Tryce, so he educated himself and started training Alexis.

Tryce and Alexis Welch (Oleg Volk)

Having mentored his own daughter, Alexis’ mother, in dirt-bike motorcycle racing, Tryce Welch started over with Alexis and supported her passion for shooting sports.

Her first rifle was an S&W MP15-22, initially fired off the bench and later unsupported. Alexis is small for an 8-year-old, so gun weight has been a concern. Constant physical exercise and good technique have allowed her to run adult-size firearms effectively. After she attended several rimfire matches, Tandemkross, a New Hampshire company specializing in parts for customizing competition guns, sponsored her. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to the Welch family, who live in Owensboro, Ky., which is along the Ohio River across from Indiana, and have been following Alexis’ progress ever since.

Alexis Welch and Dani Bryan

Alexis has attracted the attention of shooting competitor superstar Dani Bryan (right), who has worked with Alexis to prep for matches. In this training moment, Alexis is focusing in on the CMore sight topping her Volquartsen Scorpion .22 match pistol, which features a personalized and custom mount by Bill Striplin.

This girl’s main talent goes beyond pure shooting ability: she’s enthusiastic, effective and friendly. Articulate and unaffected, Alexis can work with adults, as well as play with kids. Picking up where Tryce started, firearm coaches Gary Welborn and Bob Sanders volunteered their time to train her, and during her first public shoot, Dani Bryan, a female firearms instructor and competitive shooter, took the time to coach her too. Alexis is very popular with teen marksmen as well, many of them treating her as an honorary little sister, and helping her learn more about the sport. She’s recently gained the affectionate nickname “Monkey,” and ran with it.

After Tandemkross, she was discovered by many sponsors to include Volquartsen Custom, Leupold Optics, Striplin Custom, Owensboro Rifle and Pistol Club, Sound Gear, Beck Defense, Gemtech, Weapon Shield and, unofficially, Trijicon. Besides institutional sponsors, Alexis has also been supported by the Bragg family, Richard and Carol Stokes and over 1,750 other fans who hail from as far away as Brazil and Russia. A custom rifle maker, Fighting Sheepdog, just joined in with a truly unique, pint-sized AR-15 that has a hydraulic-recoil compensator and other personalized features to make it just right for this diminutive shooter. Tryce supplies the chauffeuring and the ammunition.

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)

Alexis makes a great student, according to her coaches, but she is always ready share what she has learned with others.

My first photo shoot with Alexis was a pleasant surprise. There aren’t too many adults, much less preteen kids, who can keep focused and enthusiastic about work for over 10 hours with only a few short breaks. Alexis could, and she did it with good cheer. Her images proved to be marketing gold, equally for promoting shooting sports, the right to bear arms and her increasingly numerous sponsors. Her eagerness to surmount every available challenge energizes her fans and supporters.

Starting with Steel Challenge in May, Alexis has participated in NSSF Rimfire Challenge, USPSA and multi-gun competitions. She’s had a good start on her future titles by winning the Indiana State Steel Challenge Champion Ladies 12 and under open category. Most recently, she was a guest at an event organized by Hunter “Nubbs” Cayll, known for shooting competitively even though he does not have hands, and shot her first event with a full-sized AR-15. Just prior to that, she helped in the production of a video for a veteran fundraiser, competently running M249 and M60 machine guns, as well as firing a 7.62mm SVD sniper rifle that intimidated some of the adult participants. She’s a member of Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers youth group, USPSA Juniors and a noncompeting member of 4-H Shooting Sports. Not limiting her interests to gunfire, Alexis plays soccer and softball, sings, plays music and practices gymnastics. Proving wrong many who perceive kids who shoot as hillbillies, she’s also a straight-A student. She’s already giving back by helping her 5-year-old brother learn gun safety and marksmanship, and often helps instruct adult novices as well.

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)

Alexis can handle full-sized firearms, but most of her arsenal is specially designed to be very lightweight, like this Volquartsen Ultralite .22 match rifle in Blackhawk Axxiom stock and with a CMore sight on a personalized custom mount by Bill Striplin.

Alexis’ plan for the future is to excel in shooting sports, get a college education and serve in the military. She will probably do well with it, given a history of challenges such as being born deaf and having to do speech therapy after successive surgeries. She’s already an effective ambassador for gun rights and shooting sports. To expand on the saying that the mind is the weapon and everything else is just a tool, I would estimate that the personality and mind of Alexis Welch will play a large role in the next generation’s work to retain our firearms freedoms. ASJ

American Shooting Journal February 2016 CoverEditor’s Note: You can follow Alexis on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/alexisnicolefanclub.

The American Shooting Journal was proud to have Alexis Welch on the cover of our February 2016 issue. 

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)

Alexis Welch, seen here aiming a 7.62x54R Tiger rifle customized to SVD configuration and topped with a 6x PSOP scope, is only 8 years old, yet she competes in numerous shooting competitions, is sponsored by known industry names, plays soccer and softball, sings and is a straight-A student.

Posted in Shooters Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 9th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

The Triple Play

Aero Precision’s M5E1 is an evolutionary improvement on the basic AR-10 theme.

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

 

The Aero Precision M5E1 is a logical development from their more basic M5 .308 autoloading rifle. It is positioned as a firearm that’s practical in the field, yet more accurate and capable of sustained fire than typical hunting or defense rifles. The main upgrade is the strengthened receiver designed to give monolithic-rail effects without its logistical disadvantage, namely the difficulty of changing the forend. The area where the freefloated handguard and the barrel attach to the receiver has been beefed up relative to the typical AR-10-style guns. The mounting surface for the forend is machined into the upper receiver, so the free-floated rail attaches with just four pairs of screws and no need for additional rings or hardware.

Aero Precision M5E1 (Oleg Volk)

Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind.

Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

The creation of this rifle was driven by the need for a relatively handy rifle that yields maximum muzzle velocity.

Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

The rifle I tested was a combination of all three variants offered by Aero Precision. It came with an adjustable Magpul CTR stock designed for the 16-inch carbine, a 15-inch forend for an 18-inch midlength rifle and a 20-inch barrel for a full-length rifle. The goal was to have a relatively handy weapon yielding maximum muzzle velocity. A variable-length stock allowed adjustments for various shooting positions and for body armor. Of the two colors available, I chose the flat dark earth cerakote, mainly to reduce the gun’s visibility and its tendency to warm up in direct sunlight during hot Tennessee summers. The edges of the receiver and the forend have all been carefully chamfered and smoothed, making gloveless handling comfortable. Extensively ventilated KeyMod handguards with a full-length Picatinny top rail proved well suited for field use, requiring only a short rail segment up front for the bipod, or a direct KeyMod bipod stud. The stock offered a quick-detach socket on both sides, and the QD rail-mounted receptacle for the front of the sling completed this field-ready rifle.

Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

The edges of the receiver and the forend have all been carefully chamfered and smoothed, making gloveless handling comfortable.

In cold weather, the all-metal forend would be insulated with rail covers, while in warmer weather, free air flow around the barrel would take priority. Due to the long barrel, the rifle starts out front-heavy, but adding a scope and a full 20-round magazine brings the balance to the front of the magazine well.

In keeping with the intended use of this rifle, I put a 1-6x Vortex Razor HD scope on it. With the optic set to six power, the M5E1 can be used to engage goblin-sized targets out to 600 yards from a bipod or an improvised rest. At intermediate magnification, it’s excellent for unsupported shooting. And at true 1x with daylight-bright reticle illumination, it works as an expedient red-dot sight for tracking motion. A rifle-length barrel with a flash hider keeps muzzle flash from showing up in the field of view, even in low light. The same length and the attendant inertia keep the muzzle rise to a minimum, so shooters can spot their own targets through the scope at all magnifications. The recoil is negligible, allowing full concentration on marksmanship without concern for the kick.

Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

The area where the freefloated handguard and the barrel attach to the receiver has been beefed up relative to the typical AR-10-style guns.

The rifle functioned reliably with over a dozen types of ammunition, from steel-cased ball to hunting soft points and match hollow points. The trigger is smooth during take-up, with a crisp breakpoint but still at military standard weight. Running it in winter gloves, I came to appreciate it for the tactile feedback it provided. The enlarged integral trigger guard helped make gloved use safe.

My M5E1 was test fired from a rest at the factory on my request, grouping around 1 minute of angle with Federal 168-grain Gold Match ammunition. All of my testing was conducted by a former Marine Corps rifleman under less formal conditions from sandbags or from a Lead Sled, usually with some crosswind.

The Averaged Results

Prvi Partizan 175-grain match 0.75 MOA

Pierce Munitions 168-grain match 1.5 MOA

Federal Fusion 150-grain 2 MOA

Hornady 168-grain match 2 MOA

The shooters remarked that they considered the rifle capable of better precision than it demonstrated, though I am convinced that 0.75 MOA is quite respectable, especially when the limitation of the six-power scope is considered. The barrel twist rate is 1 in 10, optimal for 175-grain bullets, while the older 1-in-12 standard works fine for the 168s. For short-range plinking or CQB training, the difference in mechanical accuracy would be of negligible importance, but heavier bullets would work best for deliberate long-range precision work. With initial muzzle velocity around 2,500 feet per second, most 175-grain loads stay supersonic out past 1,000 yards – well outside of the optical range of our setup.

Aero Precision (Oleg Volk)

The trigger is smooth during take-up, with a crisp breakpoint, but still at military standard weight.

The fit and finish of the rifle are excellent. Internals showed almost no visible wear after the first 400 rounds. While the lower has a threaded opening for a tension screw, I found it unnecessary because play between the lower and the upper was already negligible. I would have preferred an extended charging handle latch, but that’s an easy fix.

The rifle weighs 9.6 pounds empty, on par with an M1A match or FN FAL. Loaded and scoped, it tips in at 13.6 pounds. Its realistic niche is for a designated marksman or a hunter working from a blind. Despite the weight, the gun travels well slung, thanks to the absence of any protrusions. The M5E1 is an evolutionary improvement on the basic AR10 theme, and is a very enjoyable to operate and unfailingly reliable. With the recent price drop bringing the complete gun to the $1,300 to $1,600 range, depending on the variant, it is quite competitive with other precision alternatives. And that has long been Aero’s chosen field, good performance at a reasonable price. ASJ




Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

January 12th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

ATF’s Final Lost-and-Stolen in Transit Rule

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has published the final lost and stolen in transit rule in the Federal Register. NSSF has actively opposed the rule since a version was first published in 2000. The rule becomes effective 30 days from today, on Feb. 11. Apart from ATF’s lack of statutory authority to impose the rule, the major problem with this rule is that it requires FFLs to report as lost or stolen in transit firearms that have already left their inventory. Once firearms have been sold FOB, shipped and recorded as a disposition, this rule essentially requires that they still be considered part of the shipping FFL’s inventory for purposes of timely reporting to ATF in the exceeding rare case when they are lost or stolen while in transit. Rather than putting the onus on the receiving FFL, who would best know whether the firearms they paid for and are expecting have arrived, and continuing the effective long-standing voluntary reporting program, ATF chose to publish the final rule:

Here is the whole shebang: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-01-12/pdf/2016-00112.pdf.

Photograph by OLEG VOLK

Posted in Industry Tagged with: , , , , , ,

December 14th, 2015 by asjstaff

The Good Guys

Navigating The ATF’s Labyrinth Of Laws

 

Story by Alex Kincaid • Photographs by Oleg Volk 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE, or more commonly referred to as the ATF) is going the extra mile to win your enthusiasm. Check out the agency’s Internet K-9 page, portraying the playful side of the dogs that are responsible for sniffing out the next bomber. You’ll be greeted by a cute and fluffy retriever holding an ATF ball, and while you’re there, click the link to go to the Kids Page with pictures to color and word games. This reminder of your own family is just a click away from pages showing the grim truth of what can happen when firearms wind up in the hands of murderers and drug dealers. The message is clear: It’s a wonderful world – but everything you deem precious could be taken away. The ATF wants you to believe its agents are here to help.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 implemented the first tax on machine guns (like this Browning 1917 machine gun), short-barreled shotguns and suppressors (silencers).

The National Firearms Act of 1934
implemented the first tax on machine
guns (like this Browning 1917 machine
gun), short-barreled shotguns and
suppressors.

Despite the failings and negative media exploitation of the ATF as a whole (Waco, Ruby Ridge, Operation Fast & Furious, ammo bans, new gun-trust rules and the enforcement of numerous executive orders come to mind), the individual agents who process our National Firearms Act (NFA) and Federal Firearms License (FFL) paperwork are usually kind, helpful and often sympathetic human beings. Many of them are not anti-gun. I know ATF agents who have served our country through military service, or have operated their own gun-related businesses.

 

The enlightened gun owner must remember that it was not the ATF that passed the tax act in 1789, or the NFA in 1934, or even the GCA in 1968; Congress did.

 

The truth is, many gun owners loathe the ATF. Gun business owners fear they will fail to dot an “i” or cross a “t,” and lose their livelihood. Gun owners unabashedly abhor the unrelenting infringement on our constitutional protections by our own government, and many fear they will accidentally commit a felony and face prosecution for their ignorance. One of the ATF’s assistant directors suggested that no matter what side you are on, we can all agree that we do not want the bad guy to have a gun. If we can agree on that, then we’re working together.

The problem, of course, is the law’s ever-expanding definition of bad guy, and what, exactly, constitutes public safety. In the 1920s, public safety meant not allowing hardworking Americans to enjoy a beer at five o’clock. A tax on alcohol in 1789, rather than any criminal activity, gave birth to the agency and it was nestled under the Department of Treasury. While prohibition ended in 1933, the NFA passed Congress in 1934, implementing America’s first tax on firearms and giving this tax-enforcement agency another reason to exist. At that time the NFA imposed an outrageous $200 tax – the equivalent of over $3,526 in today’s value – on gangsters’ favorite firearms: machine guns, shortbarreled shotguns and suppressors (silencers).

A CZ Scorpion with a Sig Arms brace. One of the latest controversial components on the market is an arm brace for an AR-style pistol. However, if used as a shoulder mount, as seen here, that might turn your simple pistol into a potentially illegal short-barreled rifle, according to the ATF.

A CZ Scorpion with a Sig Arms brace. One of the latest
controversial components on the market is an arm brace for
an AR-style pistol. However, if used as a shoulder mount, as
seen here, that might turn your simple pistol into a potentially
illegal short-barreled rifle, according to the ATF.

Rather than expect the criminals to obey the law and register firearms – which no one actually expected would happen – Congress intended to remove these weapons from circulation amongst the citizenry by taxing them into infinity. If citizens could not afford them, they could not buy them; if they could not buy them, they could not get into criminal hands. By passing the NFA, our government officially allowed criminals to dictate the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, and concurrently targeted the firearms possessed by responsible gun owners in a severely misguided effort at crime control.

National Firearms Act Rules NFA

Today, nothing sends chills down the backs of law abiding gun owners quite like a federal law-enforcement agency specifically trained to spot and apprehend people for violating firearms laws. This chill is not because these gun owners intend to commit crimes – it is because they do not.

Firearms laws are not like speed limits where there are clear signs posted along the highway to tell you what the limitations are and when you might be facing a violation. Instead, gun owners are left to their own devices to sort through the many levels of federal, state and local laws, as well as the ever-expanding interpretations of those laws by the ATF and judges who do not always agree.

The American gun owner suffers from the affliction of so many laws, and most have little, if any, comprehension of all the ways they can run afoul of the imbroglio comprising America’s gun law system. There is no cure for criminal conduct. Once you have violated the law, accidentally or not, you cannot simply undo the criminal behavior. In other words, you cannot give a gun back to the person who sold it to you in another state without using an FFL, and make things OK. I have posed this question to ATF agents, who confirmed that there is no way to undo criminal behavior and make it right. While firearms prohibitionists cannot understand how a person could accidentally commit a crime, it is actually pretty easy to transgress in the world of gun laws and face imprisonment or a hefty fine.

 

Do you think you own an ordinary pistol? 

Take your ordinary pistol (less than 26 inches in length) and add an angled foregrip. You still legally own a pistol. Add a bipod, and you still legally own a pistol.

Add a vertical foregrip, and you have suddenly manufactured a firearm subject to the NFA – which is subject to enforcement by the ATF – that exposes the accidental transgressor to federal felony punishments.

You now own a firearm known as an AOW, or any other weapon. Because the firearm is now subject to the NFA, the gun’s lower receiver must first be registered, or serial stamped and recorded, as an AOW. Registration requires payment of a $5 tax and ATF approval.

Possession of an unregistered AOW is a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

If you take the same pistol, but add a full stock to it so it is hen designed to shoot from the shoulder, you have unlawfully manufactured a short-barreled rifle, or SBR. SBRs are NFA firearms as well. The SBR’s receiver must be registered as an SBR, a $200 tax must be paid and ATF approval must be issued before the rifle is manufactured. Possession of an unregistered SBR is also a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Another hot topic is the Sig Arms brace, a device that looks similar to a buttstock, but operates solely as an arm brace, based on the design. Wrap it around your forearm for stability, and you have an ordinary pistol; use it to shoot from your shoulder, and you may have an SBR, according to the ATF.

 

Did you inherit a collection from your grandfather?

If grandpa brought something back from the war, such as a fully automatic rifle, and never registered that rifle with the ATF, you are in unlawful possession of an NFA firearm.

Even though Hirim Maxim designed numerous sound suppressors for all types of industrial equipment, only the suppressor designed for use with a firearm has been subject to an extra tax and approval by the ATF since 1934.

Even though Hirim Maxim designed numerous sound suppressors for
all types of industrial equipment, only the suppressor designed for use with a firearm has been subject to an extra tax and approval by the ATF since 1934.

Do you think you know whether you possess a machine gun? Did you know that Congress changed the definition of machine gun when it passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986? Since then, you own a machine gun if you simply own a part “designed and intended solely and exclusively” to convert a weapon into a machine gun. This has come as a shock to some of my clients who have been greeted by ATF agents asking to collect their machine guns. You see, until the 1980s, it was fairly common to purchase a part known as a drop-in auto sear (DIAS), which, when installed into certain AR-style rifles with M16 internal components, would convert the rifle into a fully automatic firearm. Up until 1998, the ATF’s position was that any DIAS manufactured before 1981 was not subject to the NFA. In 1998, however, a federal judge decided that the ATF does not have the authority to make such an exception to the law, and that all firearms dealers “would do well to assume” that any transfers of DIASs are subject to the NFA, regardless of when they were manufactured (United States versus Cash, 149 F.3d 706, CA7 1998).

The AR-15 and M16 rifles are almost identical except for one minor detail: the M16 comes standard with an auto sear, making it an automatic rifle, and subject to rules of the NFA.

The AR-15 and M16 rifles are almost identical except for one minor detail: the M16 comes standard with an auto sear, making it an automatic rifle, and subject to rules of the NFA.

The problem does not stop with simply having too many laws. It is one task to decipher thousands and thousands of laws that regulate firearms, many of which defy common sense, but it is a completely different task to have to battle the amorphous beast that is the ever-changing American gun-law system. The ATF may make a decision one day and change it the next. This is the same with federal court. A federal court on one side of the country may decide a case one way, and a federal judge in another district may decide differently with a very similar set of facts.

It is no wonder that when most people think about the ATF, they think about rules, restrictions, enforcement of rules against people who didn’t mean to break the law and iron-fisted enforcement of rules that make no sense. If you have the sense that the gun laws that apply to individual gun owners are daunting, think about all the rules, regulations and penalties that apply to gun businesses.

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congress passed another federal law that I frequently see folks unintentionally violate: the Gun Control Act, or GCA. This law imposed stricter licensing and regulations on the firearms industry, established new categories of firearms offenses and prohibited the sale of firearms and ammunition to felons and certain other persons. This law prevents young soldiers who may sacrifice their lives for our country from purchasing a handgun from a gun shop to defend their own families until they reach the age of 21. It also prevents a gun owner from transferring firearms across state lines without using a dealer. There is no exception for family. If you want to give a firearm to your brother who lives in another state, you must send it to an FFL in his state instead of handing it to him at the Christmas family dinner. If you don’t, you have committed a felony, and so has he.

Gun owners frequently ask if ATF agents actually pursue such cases. The answer is: it depends. Many times, either no one is the wiser or ATF has more important things to do. However, I have been told by ATF agents that they will pursue cases against people who ignorantly violate the law. History also tells us that the ATF has been known to go after the unsuspecting gun owner or gun business owner. After the passage of GCA in 1968, a Senate subcommittee in 1982 concluded that 75 percent of ATF prosecutions “were aimed at ordinary citizens who had neither criminal intent nor knowledge, but were enticed by agents into unknowing technical violations.” The subcommittee’s report supported the passage of the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act in 1986. Compromises to the proposed new law led to some harsh outcomes for gun owners, such as the ban on post-1986-made civilian machine gun sales. This ban was passed despite the fact that over 175,000 machine guns were registered with the ATF at the time, and not a single one had been used in a crime.

Under federal law, the federal government is not supposed to maintain a registry of gun owners. In fact, the FBI is required to destroy background check records for gun purchasers before the start of the next business day. The truth is, the federal government still has several hundred million records of gun owners, including multiple sales reports, trace records and the records of dealers who have gone out of business.

When I asked a former director of industry operations about her opinion of the ATF’s reputation, she explained that the ATF has a difficult job. People are trying to do the right thing, but too often, there are misunderstandings about the laws.

This former director confirmed that people are “on their own” to figure out how to correct gun-law violations. Having sat through my own FFL licensing inspection meeting, I can confirm that it is impossible, in a few hours, for an agent to thoroughly review and educate new gun dealers on the laws. They hit the highlights, ask if you have any questions – questions which most people won’t even know to ask – and check the boxes that they went over a particular law with you and that you had no questions about it.

She also recognized that based on her prior experience working for the ATF, very few people actually intend to break the laws, but there are too many rules and regulations, especially for dealers and manufacturers, to do things perfectly on a daily basis.

I entirely agree with this point. It has been my experience as both a prosecutor and a civil-law attorney that most lawabiding gun owners who have run afoul of the law did so not because they were attacked and had to defend their lives, but because they violated a law they didn’t know existed. The gun laws affecting most gun owners every day are those that pertain to how a person can carry (open, concealed, loaded, unloaded), where they can carry (illegal in a guided federal park cave tour but legal in the open park area), who can

possess a firearm (age restrictions, state law restrictions, permitting restrictions), and how they can transfer a firearm (in state, across states, sale, inheritance) without committing an accidental felony.

kincaid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the day, the ATF is charged with public safety and helping gun owners and gun businesses comply with the laws. Many of the agents who work for the ATF try to do just that. The Department of Justice’s direction to the agency, à la Operation Choke Point, an initiative that investigated US banks and the businesses believed to be a high risk for fraud and money laundering, or Operation Fast & Furious, where the ATF purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel, has recently left a growing section of the public who are disquieted by the motives, character and actions of ATF. The recent proposals for more gun control and the country’s great divide on the protection to be afforded by the 2nd Amendment further enhances this distrust, and keeps the pro-gun community on the defensive.

The enlightened gun owner must remember that it was not the ATF that passed the tax act in 1789, or the NFA in 1934, or even the GCA in 1968; Congress did. If we could just agree on one more thing – what that little word “infringed” really means – we might gain an agency that could focus entirely on its intended purpose, and protect the law-abiding citizens from the true criminals. ASJ

InfringedAlex Kincaid is not only a nationally renowned gun-law attorney, she is also the author of Infringedwhere her years of expertise and working with our nation’s laws come together.

 

 

 

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