Let’s say I wanted a rifle, chambered in 5.56, with a 16-inch barrel, and I wanted it to be about the same size as an SMG.
Some may say I’m crazy, others may have seen the title of this article, and are also be Die Hard aficionados.
If you were in the latter group, you’d know that this is possible with guns like the Steyr AUG.
The Steyr AUG is a bullpup rifle that manages to pack a lot in a little space. It does this by placing the action behind the trigger group. This includes the magazine, bolt, and ejection port.
What the engineers at Steyr did was create a simple rifle, that incorporated a 16-inch barrel in a gun the same size as an SMG. Seriously, let’s use Die Hard as a reference because…I love Die Hard.
The Steyr AUG is only 28.15 inches with a 16-inch barrel and its chambered in a rifle caliber. That’s a pretty substantial rifle in a tiny package. That’s the magic of a bullpup.
Smaller guns are easier to handle in close quarters, but in rifle calibers that usually means a shorter barrel.
A shorter barrel in a rifle caliber usually means less range and a drop in ballistic performance. The Steyr AUG is the best of both worlds in many ways.
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The Steyr AUG’s current incarnation is the Steyr AUG A3 M1. This particular rifle sports a 1.5x optic, but is available with a 3x optic, or no optic and a scope rail. This is the NATO model, so it does accept AR 15 magazines.
The downside is that you lose the ability to swap the gun to a left-handed configuration. With the standard model you can do that, but has to use the less common AUG mags. Although, the 42 round semi-transparent AUG magazine has a place in my heart.
The gun weighs 8.8 pounds with an optic, and in the world of lightweight ARs, it’s a little hefty. However, once you pick it up the balance is perfect. The slightly heavier than average weight isn’t that significant.
The optic on the gun sports Pic rails for attaching a small red dot, or whatever else you may want. There is also a small section on the left-hand side for an accessory. It is perfect for a light attachment.
A Streamlight TLR-1 with a simple switch lever works well here. It’s made for a pistol, but due to the rails placement near the support hand, it’s easy to turn on and off.
Other than that there isn’t much room for accessories. You can’t load this thing down like a traditional AR, but do you need to?
One of the cool features is how easy and quick you can remove the barrel. Right above the folding pistol grip is a small button, you move the button forward with one hand and pull the barrel with the other. Bam, it’s off.
In the past Steyr produced the AUG para kit which allowed you to convert the gun to 9mm with just a few changes, the barrel is one of them. Those kits seem few and far between these days.
You can swap the barrels out though. You can add a 20 inch, or even a 24-inch barrel to your AUG. This allows to convert the AUG to a DMR style weapon or pretend it is the squad support model of the AUG.
This is my first real experience with a bullpup. I’ve played and toyed with some in the past, but this was my first time running and gunning with one. I’m keeping that in mind as I judge ergos.
Everything feels right about this gun. The stock is nice and full and fits comfortably into the shoulder. The 15-inch LOP is excellent with or without armor. (Disclaimer I’m also 6’4” and have gorilla arms.)
The grip angle is perfect, and it better be because it can’t be changed. I’ve always like vertical foregrips, and this one works as intended. Without it, you wouldn’t have much space to grip the rifle.
Since this gun doesn’t have a proper forend trying to rest it on barriers is almost impossible. Also if you don’t like the location of the VFG… Well too bad, because it can’t be moved.
Lastly, the gun is equipped with two QD sling swivels for right-handed users only. Perfect for my favorite Blue Force Gear Vickers sling.
As a Marine and AR owner, I’m used to a more standard layout, and my muscle memory was clinging to that style. It took a lot of practice both dry and live fire for me to master the ergos. Admittedly reloading is nowhere near as intuitive as an AR or standard layout rifle.
I did a lot of practice reloads and eventually found my way of reloading efficiently, but I don’t feel I’d ever be as fast as I am with a standard rifle. The gun has two mag releases and both work depending on your style of reloading.
The first is a small button forward of the magazine well. The second is a rear lever placed right behind the magazine. I prefer the rear lever. If I keep my thumb pointing up on my fresh magazine my thumb presses the lever up and releases the magazine.
I grip it with the same hand, remove it, reload, and carry on.
The controls used outside of reloading are very simple and intuitive. The charging handle is placed on the left side and easy to reach and use. That being said it takes a little force to get that bolt back.
The safety is just a square push button, and it works as intended, is easy to use, and provides a tactile method of knowing what state your rifle is in.
The gun points exceptionally well. It feels so natural to take it from low ready to high ready and fire. It’s short size, and excellent balance comes into effect here. It points so well it’s honestly easy to fire with one hand.
I’m no physics buff, but the fact that most of the gun is to the rear and barely any barrel is forward of the shooter means the muzzle is much easier to control. Remember the exaggerated C-Clamp so many guys use with ARs?
The same theory is in effect here. Recoil is typical of a 5.56 caliber weapon, so there isn’t much to say other than its minimal and pleasant.
The most prominent downside to the AUG is its trigger. If you run Timneys in your AR, then you will be aghast at the AUG’s trigger. It’s functional, but far from the match grade performance many of us are accustom to.
It’s squishy, the pull is long, and it’s quite gritty. It’s 9 pounds, and you feel every ounce of it. I wouldn’t take it to an NRA High Power match, or a precision rifle contest. With that said it’s not bad enough to make you miss, just bad enough to open up your groups a bit.
This rifle could be used for a wide variety of purposes. It’s certainly an exciting gun to bring to 3-Gun, albeit reloading may be a little tricky for speedy purposes. It’s certainly a great home defense weapon.
The compact size is perfect for inside the house and close quarters use. It’s balanced well, in a competent caliber, and even equipped with a suppressor it’s still roughly the same size as a standard AR 15.
As a duty gun, it’s served several countries exceptionally well. At one point it was even adopted by the Department of Homeland Security. The AUG is one of the longest-serving bullpup rifles out there and its proven in terms of reliability and usefulness.
It’s an excellent gun for smaller shooters who want to exercise the most control over their weapon possible. It’s got a great length of pull, gives the shooter an excellent degree of control over the gun, and with a little time and effort put into training, the controls are flawless.
The last use is, of course, the best one, it’s fun. It’s fun to shoot, it looks like a space gun, and its a dream to shoot. Plus, it’s excellent for shooting glass. (last Die Hard reference I promise.)
We all like accessorizing our guns, but unfortunately, the AUG doesn’t have a massive aftermarket. There are a few companies producing some excellent, high-quality upgrades. Corvus Defensio comes to mind immediately.
The big problem is that the AUG itself doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization. It’s a simple weapon, and it was designed over thirty years ago.
The thing never went click when it should have gone bang. I went through everything from nice TAP ammo to cheap Tula and it worked. No issues ejecting, loading, or firing. The AUG has been around long enough that any such problems would be corrected by now.
The gun gets really high marks in some areas and low marks in others. The trigger kinda sucks and I’m taking a point away solely for that. Reloading is an iffy proposition, and will never be AR fast, but with practice, it’s intuitive enough. The other big flaw is that should the gun have a failure the placement of the ejection port makes squick access difficult.
The gun is quite accurate and capable of producing respective groups. It well beyond Minute of Bad Guy accuracy and out to several hundred yards I can hit the chest area of my targets. The trigger is kinda crap takes a point off.
I’m going to give it one point for the barrel and bipod options and 1 point for potential. The Steyr AUG is so simple it seems like it would be easy to do caliber conversions, offer different forward grips, and really change things up. Unfortunately, the rifle isn’t popular enough in the US to receive the AR treatment.
So this is obviously subjective and my 5 rating is clearly based on a lot of inherent bias about this gun. It looks cool to me. Sorry, but it always will. Objectively I can say the finish is nice and evenly applied, and looks smooth and classy. The stock’s FDE mixed with the black metal gives a nice balanced look of colors.
This is not a cheap gun by any stretch. It’s not even really a cheap bullpup these days. On average it’s at least 500 bucks more than the base model of the Tavor. Compared to the AR market it’s even higher than some nice Daniel Defense AR rifles. I’m giving it a 2 because if you want an AUG it’s really your only option… and it’s not FN SCAR money.
The Steyr AUG is a great gun. It does have some flaws, and if it was available for around 1,500 bucks it’d be a real winner. This particular model typically retails for over 2k and that’s a hard sell. It’s a straight-shooting, compact, and well-designed platform that shows us what a bullpup can really do.
Do you have an AUG? How do you like it? What other bullpups do you love (Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns)? Most importantly, what is your favorite Die Hard movie? Let us know in the comments!
Eyes and ears…the two most important things to have at the shooting range. You don’t want to end up like this guy…
We bought 6 of the most popular ones across different price points and tried them out with several buddies over a bunch of range trips.
By the end, you’ll know which one is best for your budget and intended use.
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When you get shooting glasses…you want to make sure they meet some standard of impact resistance. Otherwise, what’s the point?
There are three major standards:
It’s recommended the minimum to meet is the civilian ANSI Z87.1 and if you’re really at risk of frag or projectiles…to meet the US military specs.
Now that’s out of the way…let’s get on with the 6 best shooting glasses!
My overall favorite for style, coverage, and protection is the Wiley X Saber.
It covers more angles and exceeds the military MIL-RF-31013 standards for impact resistance, UV protection, and optical clarity.
Nosepiece is pretty comfortable and adjustable while the frame is normal thickness. It didn’t smush into my head when wearing electronic earmuffs.
Also light…but not the cheap kind of light.
Smoke grey is also perfect for sunny days or gloomy days like the above.
Radians Revelations are what I consider the bare minimum to get. $8 bucks and available in a couple colors. They are decent in style but I do feel their affordable price point in the construction.
Meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards for high-velocity impacts so they’ll protect your eyes.
One great thing is that the frames are pretty thin and can bend up at angles to match almost all faces.
I got the light smoke lens and it’s a good mix for daytime and when it starts getting dark (or indoors).
All my people out there with prescription glasses…Allen Over Shooting Glasses don’t look sexy but it will go over most regular glasses.
If you have prescription sunglasses…make sure they are not glass since glass plus impact is not good. I’d opt for something like this that meets ANSI Z87.1 standards.
I always wear contacts and regular shooting glasses at the range…but this one I wore my regular glasses at home for 3 hours. It definitely adds weight but after a while, you don’t notice it.
The sides are a little thicker so it can interfere with earmuff style hearing protection. I’d opt for earplugs when wearing these.
Smoke color isn’t too dark so it should be usable for indoors shooting.
If you’re really into clay shooting…Radians Clay Shooting Glasses might be for you.
The color is meant to make the orange clays pop out. It works somewhat and I like how there’s no frame on the top to obstruct views…especially when looking upwards.
Nose is not that comfortable since it’s not adjustable. But the frame is a thin wire so earmuffs are not a problem. Very light overall but also a little flimsy.
Meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards for higher velocity.
If only I could pull off red lenses…
You can never go wrong with Oakley.
I’ve been rocking the Oakley Radar for years since it has great coverage, meets the standards, and has different sized nose pieces.
It feels great even with earmuffs and never falls off when I’m sweaty.
I also like how it makes the colors pop out and it does help a little when I’m shooting with fiber optic sights.
Another Oakley pair that was designed specifically for shooting is the Oakley Tombstone that doesn’t have the top frame. There’s the Spoil version for smaller heads and the Reap for normal/larger heads.
I really like the Smith Aegis Echo II. It has everything I want in a frame…
Meets ALL three standards, has great coverage, and fit everyone that tried it because of the adjustable nose piece. Think Oakley’s “Asian Fit” for us with smaller noses.
Also has a super thin frame that doesn’t get caught up in even tight earmuffs.
It feels quality and that means a little more weight than the others.
My only complaint is that the frame that’s “missing” in the top middle makes it a little bit too aggressive. One person asked if I was on SWAT and another if I was from the Matrix.
Otherwise…it comes with a case and two lenses so you can shoot in both day and low-light.
This is my pick for something more premium that really protects your eyes and has you set for whatever environment. As long as you can pull off the look.
There you have it…my pick for the affordable range is the Wiley X Saber.
While for those that enjoy the finer things in life (and want extra protection and lenses)…the Smith Aegis Echo II.
Now that your eyes are protected…get yourself the best ear protection out there too. We cover everything in-hand from earplugs to all the most popular electronic earmuffs in Best Shooting Ear Protection.
Are PSA’s low prices too good to be true?
For years I’ve heard of Palmetto State Armory and their ultra-affordable AR-15s. The only negative things were some finishing issues and shipping delays here and there.
But… for a long time I was a little obsessed with name brands and scoffed at sub-$500 rifles.
I finally bit the bullet…
I got three of their uppers (16″ 5.56 with front sight block, 16″ 5.56 free-float rail, 18″ stainless .223 Wylde), one of their lowers, and shot a lot of rounds through them.
By the end you’ll know if a PSA rifle/upper is right for you…and the best model to get based on your use.
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PSA sent me these three uppers and one lower for testing.
But they are going through the same testing procedures I do for all my other guns.
And at a higher round count since reliability is key when I recommend more budget-friendly options.
I spoke with PSA and the reason their AR-15s are so affordable is due to full vertical integration. From raw metal to the finished product…they do it themselves.
PSA has their Freedom line which is their most affordable and is pretty much mil-spec (meets military specifications).
However, like I outlined in our AR-15 Buyer’s Guide…I like a mid-length gas system way better than the standard carbine-length.
It gives you more rail space and a softer shooting impulse since the gas tube is longer and gas block is more forward.
Unless you’re going for the pure M4 look…I’d opt for something in the mid-length arena. Or at least their Magpul MOE furniture models so you can add some rails in the future.
For my upper with a FSB (front sight block…that triangle thing you see above), I went with a 16″ mid-length Magpul model and Nitride-coated barrel.
This gives me a longer handguard (with M-LOK), ability to add rails, Magpul rear flip sight, and a nicer barrel finish compared to phosphate.
Since it has a pinned FSB…it’s a little front-heavy….but that’s the nature of the beast. The FSB is pinned well and the handguard is really on there. You can see my segment of Picatinny I added to the handguard’s M-LOK attachment points.
The next upper would be my favorite overall setup. 16″ mid-length with a 13.5″ M-LOK free-floating barrel and Nitride barrel.
Now you get the benefit of not having a FSB which helps the weight balance, and also having a free-floating handguard that increases accuracy by taking away contact points on the barrel.
For absolute reliability I’d still opt for the FSB model…but free-float AR’s are now the standard, you can attach a lot of stuff, and the gas block is really on there.
The last model is the 18″ .223 Wylde which is a relatively new chambering that will shoot BOTH 5.56 and .223 but offers a slight accuracy edge. Usually you’ll see the more accurate barrels in stainless which is what we have here.
This comes in an even softer shooting rifle-length gas system and 15″ M-LOK free-floating rail.
All came with mil-spec A2 bird-case flash-hiders that were installed correctly and didn’t require superhuman strength to take off and switch for some compensators.
PSA seems to have three tiers of barrels.
The two 5.56 uppers I received were Nitride coated instead of regular phosphate…while the Wylde was stainless steel.
Nitride (two left black ones) is smooth while stainless is…stainless. The BCG on the right gives you a sense of what the rougher texture phosphate looks like. Nitride is supposed to be a little tougher and I like the smooth look.
I took apart the free-floating 5.56 and Wylde. Straight gas tubes…
And at least 35 in-lb of torque on the gas block with some sort of weird spill on the 5.56.
There’s not too much to say here…everything is where it’s supposed to be.
If I had to nitpick…there’s some super small machining marks on the forward assist for two of the uppers I had. Not even sure you can see them in the pics.
The Magpul mid-length polymer handguard is what it is. A great update to the mil-spec plastic handguard that can’t attach anything.
The free-floating M-LOK handguards work too. The thin profile feels great in the hand…but could use a little more TLC in the CNC to get rid of sharper edges.
Also the 13.5″ is a little on the purple-ish side and a little off in orientation between receiver and handguard…but nothing an Allen wrench and a small turn didn’t fix.
The more “premium” Wylde upper was properly aligned and colored.
As mil-spec as they come. Everything is as it should be and the gas-keys are properly staked.
The 5.56 uppers had phosphate coated BCGs (mil-spec) while the Wylde had a Nitride coated one.
If I had to nitpick again…the coating is a little bumpier than other phosphates I’ve used, but since only the rails of the BCG contact anything…there’s no real downside.
I found that the mil-spec phosphate BCGs were not MP marked (magnetic particle inspected) while the more premium .223 Wylde one was.
All the bolts were listed Carpenter 158 steel (mil-spec) but I’ve seen some PSA models where it is 9310 steel. Fine for civilian use but if you really want mil-spec…go for the Carpenter 158. The carriers were all 9620 steel (mil-spec).
Charging handles were mil-spec as well.
Since I’ve gone with aftermarket charging handles…I cannot go back (Best AR-15 Charging Handles).
I built the lower as a kit so I added a few dings here and there (How to Build an AR-15 Lower). I got the Magpul kit which has their buttstock, grip, and trigger guard.
This one also comes with PSA’s EPT trigger which is silver compared to mil-spec phosphate black. Much less grit!
But for this one I did have a little trouble threading the grip screw initially. I’m thinking the coating was a little thick since I had to muscle my way through the initial turns.
Otherwise everything installed as it should.
What really matters…right?
I took a bunch of ammo, a buddy, and the two 5.56 uppers to the range. With the goal of putting as many rounds downrange as possible.
I cleaned the barrels but otherwise did not do any break-in procedures. I started with ~300 rounds of Wolf Gold (Best AR-15 Ammo) through each one before the accuracy tests.
For the 16″ with FSB…there were two failures to load a new round after a magazine change in the first 40 rounds. However after that it shot without a hiccup.
For the M-LOK free-floating version, there was one failure to load on the first magazine change and no more problems afterwards.
This is likely due to all the parts breaking in.
Recoil was standard and mild for both 5.56 uppers. After a few mags I was easily hitting 12″ plates at 100 yards with my EOTech.
But still made me realize how spoiled I’ve been with adjustable gas-blocks and compensators (Best AR-15 Upgrades).
For the free-floating version, if you grip around the gas block like I do…you’ll feel a little heat when dumping rounds. Not enough to burn…but enough to have a red hand after 500 rounds.
Here’s my buddy and me at our second range day. I’m running my competition lower with a much better trigger (Best AR-15 Triggers).
The uppers worked flawlessly after the initial break-in on the following lowers:
While the lower worked with the following uppers:
The 5.56 barrels are the middle of the road for PSA. Let’s see how they fare.
I let the barrels cool down and then ran through Wolf Gold, PMC Bronze, American Eagle, and Federal Gold Match.
I used my standard testing platform for all my AR-15 stuff…
Targets were placed at 100 yards and I shot at a pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds. 10 shots each group.
Mil-spec is 3-4 MOA which means 3-4 inch groups at 100 yards. The FSB version falls within that (targets are 8″). With PMC Bronze doing the best of the plinking rounds at around 3 MOA.
Gold Match does the best but keep in mind it’s about $1 a shot. If you’re shooting that on a regular basis you’re probably looking at other rifles (Best AR-15s).
All in all…it’s as I expected. When there’s a front sight block there’s a whole lot of stuff touching the barrel which doesn’t help accuracy. Let’s see the free-floating model.
Much better! Looks like all the groups closed up. PMC Bronze and American Eagle are pretty even at what looks like 2 MOA. Gold Match is still the ultimate winner but it’s not THAT much off from PMC and AE.
When you have a free-floating handguard there’s less contact with the barrel and the accuracy shows.
Now how about the .223 Wylde we’ve forgotten?
Since this is a more premium barrel and made for accuracy…I did a break-in procedure with it as well as with PSA’s .224 Valkyrie (coming soon).
I cleaned the barrel and shot 1 round through before using copper solvent and a brush. Repeat the shoot and clean for 5x total. Then I changed it up to 5 shots before cleaning. Repeat 5x.
I then plinked ~200 rounds.
Finally, I was ready…
I used a different lower with a Triggertech trigger which I might actually like more than my Hiperfire (Best AR-15 Triggers). I started running low on Gold Medal so the last group only has 4 rounds.
It really looks like the FSB version instead of something that uses a tighter chamber and a free-floating handguard.
I’ll continue testing but right now looks like I would stick with PSA’s regular 5.56 offerings (free-floating of course).
The thing with PSA is that they are always in and out of stock of everything. And they have almost every combination under the sun…which makes it nice but also a headache to find what you want.
No fuss of building anything…out of the box ready to go.
I again like mid-length gas systems and it looks like their Nitride barrels are GTG. Their more premium selections (CHF) should be great as well if you have a little more to spend. I haven’t spent time with their regular barrels (phosphate), but other reviews vouch for them.
I personally like free-floating M-LOK handguards since they give you added accuracy and lots of space to put stuff. Unless you really want the look of a FSB…go for free-floating!
Already have a lower and want an affordable upper? There’s a bazillion options again…so here’s a search for 16″ mid-lengths to narrow it down a little:
Remember to choose the options with BCG (bolt carrier group), CH (charging handle), and Magpul MBUS (flip backup sights) if you need them.
Looking at complete lowers? I prefer the Magpul editions…mil-spec buttstocks and pistol grips are not great.
A little something I learned recently…retailers must add on a 11% tax for fully assembled firearms.
PSA has rifle kits which…if you’re a little handy…will save you a bunch when you build your own lower.
And be sure to get a stripped lower since the kit will contain everything except that.
Follow our How to Build an AR-15 Lower guide to put it all together.
After some minor break-in to loosen things up…my PSA uppers were fully reliable at my current round count of 1500 across all three.
It’ll do its job within mil-spec with regular plinking ammo, and seems to like PMC Bronze overall the best (Best AR-15 Ammo). Little bummed out that the .223 Wylde didn’t perform as well as it should.
Magpul kit makes it pretty good with the buttstock and pistol grip. Free-floating handguard is thin but a little too sharp around the edges.
Pretty average here but could use more consistency in color.
Bang for the Buck: 5/5
You can get a fully reliable AR for under $500…and even lower if you get the kits.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The online legends are true.
Based on my testing I can totally recommend Palmetto State Armory for an affordable AR-15 that will go bang every time.
My favorite would still be their mid-length free-floating options…but their more M4-looking FSB ones also fit the bill.
For now…stay away from their Wylde and soon I’ll have reports on their .224 Valkyrie and more. Plus I’m going to put much more rounds in all three and update if anything changes.
And once you get one…check out our AR-15 Definitive Resource for everything AR.
What do you think of the review? Is a PSA AR-15 on your horizon? Or if you already have one…how’s it working out for you?
The post Palmetto State Armory (PSA) AR-15 [3 Rifle Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.
Many people associate SHTF gear with doomsday preppers, underground bunkers, and enough ammo to support a small army.
The truth is that everyone should have an emergency supply for when shit really hits the fan – not just people who like to plan hypothetical zombie apocalypse-nuclear winter scenarios.
Speaking of zombies, if you haven’t read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) Zombie Apocalypse Plan you really should – no joke, it’s a great start to SHTF planning.
Setting aside some ammunition, extra weapons, and other survival gear is a great way to ensure the safety of you and your family in the event of an emergency.
Today we’re going to look at some SHTF gear essentials that every survivalist needs to have.
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Above everything else, you want to have a self-defense handgun that’s powerful enough to neutralize any incoming threat.
This will be your primary pistol, so you want to make sure that it’s something you’re comfortable shooting; don’t go purchase that .50 Desert Eagle just yet.
Personally, I believe that the best SHTF gun is a 9mm – and this has nothing to do with the debate over which cartridge is better.
The truth is that the 9mm is one of the most commonly used cartridges in the world, so coming across ammo for it is going to be much easier than a 10mm or .41 mag.
Remember, even the best gun in the most powerful caliber in the world is completely useless if you run out of ammo.
I find the absolute best SHTF gun to be the Glock 17.
Some might argue that there are better guns on the market, but the G17 is built for durability and usability.
And in a survival scenario where you might not have the time to pamper your gun like you normally would, you want a dependable gun that will still shoot accurately and cycle through ammo even with some wear-and-tear.
If you’re like most modern firearms enthusiasts, you’ve probably already got an AR-15 on hand.
If not, it’s a great home-defense weapon that you should consider adding to your arsenal. You can learn more about buying your first AR-15 by checking out our AR-15 Beginner’s Guide.
Depending on what kind of shit hits the fan, you might want to have something a little more versatile (or at least harder hitting) on hand than an AR-15 – especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.
Some would say that a Scout Rifle fits that role, and it did…70 years ago. While a scout rifle isn’t a bad idea, there are better options.
The AR-10 is a perfect example, get one chambered in .308 Win with a variable scope and you’ve got a great rifle for taking down game, protecting yourself from two-legged threats, and keeping the whole thing light enough to hike with and giving yourself 20 rounds on tap in case things go really sideways.
The Pew Pew Tactical Complete Buyer’s Guide to AR-10s will help you get started off right.
Remember, part of what makes a good SHTF gun is being able to easily replenish ammo, even in a post-apocalyptic world.
You might also want to get you a .22LR rifle if you don’t already have one.
It won’t protect you against the bad guys, but it’s useful for hunting small game to eat… if need be.
The Henry Survival Rifle is a 3.5-pound .22LR rifle that’s portable, accurate, and perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.
As the saying goes, “a .380 in your hand is better than a .45 in the glovebox.”
While I recommend keeping your .45 ACP a little closer than the glovebox (or .357 Mag, 9mm, 10mm, .44 Mag, or whatever handgun you prefer), having a backup pocket pistol on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
The idea is to have a compact gun available that you can easily grab in a pinch. I like the .380 ACP because it’s small and lightweight, but still powerful enough to neutralize a threat at close range.
Like most Glock models, the G42 is a functional handgun that’s designed specifically for performance.
In other words, it’s not flashy and it doesn’t come with extra features. But it is durable and extremely dependable, which happen to be the two most important things to look for in a backup handgun.
As the smallest of the Glock models, it should go without saying that the G42 is an incredibly easy gun to carry in your coat pocket or strapped to your ankle.
One more thing…Ammo is everything when it comes to the .380 ACP. Unlike some of the harder-hitting cartridges that’ll stop any threat dead in its tracks, the .380 ACP is only as effective as its ammo.
Using it effectively in a high-stress situation means shooting premium, self-defense ammo – not cheap rounds.
One of the more popular choices is Hornady’s Custom 90-grain XTP Jacketed Hollow-Point .380 rounds. They come highly recommend for self-defense by our friends at Lucky Gunner and they’re reasonably priced.
If the .380 ACP isn’t your style and you’re looking for something a bit more tried and tested in the field, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned .38 Special.
The Bodyguard 38 is a modern take on a law enforcement classic – the .38 snub nose.
While the Bodyguard 38 (and other .38 specials) may not be popular services pistols in today’s generation, they’ve more than proven themselves to be powerful, dependable, and more than capable of acting as a backup pistol.
Overall, the pocket pistol makes a great addition to your SHTF Kit because it’s small enough to carry on your person at all times. I recommend a .380 APC or a .38 Spl because both of them are small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to take down a threat at close range.
Ideally, the pocket pistol is something you’d only want to use as a last resort – like if your primary gun jammed or it ran out of ammo.
The last thing you want to do is stockpile ammo for an end-of-the-world scenario, only to discover that it’s corroded and functionally obsolete when it comes time to use it.
A lot of people tend to forget that ammunition has a shelf life. However, that shelf life is completely up to you. Store it right and it will last long enough for your grandchildren to use, store it wrong and you’ll kill your stock before the next deer season.
One of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of your ammo is by storing it in safe, secure containers where it’s protected from dirt and moisture.
You can learn more by reading our guide on long-term ammo storage.
In the meantime, a simple Ammo Can will go a long way towards preserving the life of your ammunition.
Honestly, every SHTF prepper should have at least one Ammo Can lying around. They’re cheap, easy to come across, and are worth their weight in gold if you ever are in a situation where you actually need to use your ammo stockpile.
Keeping a Silica gel packet in your ammo can will help ensure that your ammo lasts almost forever, they are cheap and easy to get – keeping one in every can is SOP for me.
What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?
Ideally, every home and automobile should have a first-aid kit – especially people who’re outdoor enthusiasts. For most situations, the standard first-aid kit found in most workplaces will get the job done.
But if you’re in a situation where you really did have to use your SHTF kit, there’s a greater likelihood that you won’t have easy access to paramedics and hospitals in the event of the emergency. For this type of scenario, you’re really going to want to have a little more than a burn kit, some gauze, and antiseptic ointment.
The Grizzly Series First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits is a heavy-duty kit designed specifically for the survivalist and apocalypse prepper.
It comes with everything you need to treat injuries, including QuickClot, syringes, and a tourniquet so that you can stabilize trauma victims until first responders arrive.
If you’re looking for something a little more extensive and are willing to pay more for its durable design, the Echo-Sigma Trauma Kit is also an excellent choice.
Designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day, the Echo-Sigma kit comes with all of the tools necessary to treat sprains, fractures, and cuts, as well as stabilize people who’ve experienced serious trauma from knife and gunshot wounds.
And as a bonus, it comes in a pouch that’s easy to carry around if you have to walk for extended periods of time.
We cover how to build the ultimate Range Med Kit too if you like customizing.
You’ll be surprised how much use you can get out of a good quality knife.
Not only does your survival knife act as your last line of defense, it can also be used as an important tool – especially if you’re stuck outdoors for an extended period of times.
Food prep, shelter building, making tools, and even first aid (cauterizing wounds and cutting bandages) can all be done with the help of your survival knife.
The KA-BAR is a tried-and-tested survival knife that’s been a long-time favorite among survivalists – partly because it’s also the combat knife issued to members of the US Armed Forces.
Another popular knife for your hunting trip or bugout bag is Survival Knife by Ontario Knife Company.
Functionally, it’s similar to the KA-BAR except that it comes with a gut hook for cleaning game, as well as a sawback – the serration on the top of the blade just past the hook. It’s made out of 1095 steel and has a 5” blade length, with an overall length of 9.26”.
And don’t forget a Whetstone for keeping your blades sharp without damaging them, like some of the other knife sharpening devices on the market.
Some other tools you might want to consider for your survivalist kit include:
If you ever find yourself away from your toolbox, each of these compact tools makes it significantly easier to set up shelter, make fires, and work on anything that needs tinkering.
As you already know, good gun maintenance is essential to ensuring that your gun is accurate and dependable. If you happen to find yourself in a shit-hits-the-fan moment, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need on hand.
After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to trek to the nearest outdoors store and buy more equipment.
For this reason, I recommend keeping a few extra cleaning kits around. Preferably one for your SHTF Bag and another for the trunk of your car.
Our favorite M-Pro 7 kit from Best Gun Cleaning Kits is perfect for handling most of you gun maintenance needs on the go, and it’s compact enough to be stowed away without taking up significant space.
I also recommend picking up a few packs of Break Free Weapon Wipes. They will go a long way in keeping your guns, knives, and tools clean, lubricated, and protected against corrosion – especially if you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your weapons and tools daily.
And if you don’t already have one, you should think about getting a CCW holster so that you can carry your handgun on at all times.
You can see some recommendations by reading our concealed carry holster review.
For a survival scenario, I recommend something lightweight and effective, without any of the frills. Concealment Express has a number of lightweight holsters for $35 that are durable and comfortable to carry around.
This really should be self-explanatory. You need food and water. You also need a way to get food and water after your stores have run out.
Getting food is where your firearms will come in handy, but water is a little more complex since you can’t just drink any water you find laying around – that is a quick way to get all kinds of nasty sicknesses.
For water purification, you need two options at least, one for you to get drinking water right now and one method for you to purify a lot of water.
Don’t forget – water isn’t just for drinking. You’ll also need it for cooking, cleaning, and treating injuries.
To get drinking water right away, I love my LifeStraw.
But when it comes to purifying larger amounts of drinking water you’ll need something like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.
Before the apocalypse strikes, you should have stocked up on food and water also.
I know a basement full of MREs is the more classic prepper thing to do but…anyone that has had to eat MREs for an extended period of time can tell you that…almost any other option is preferred.
Each of these pails is a 30-day food supply for one person. That is a lot of food! Throw in the fact that each of these only weighs 23 pounds and what you have is a fairly lightweight option for long-term food supply.
Long-term water storage is a little more complex than food, you’ll need water – obviously, but you’ll also need a water preserver.
Combine these two so that your water supply will last long enough for you to get through whatever has hit the fan!
Prepping for air isn’t something that you may have thought off before – but it should be on your list. If you really want to be prepared then you’ll want to find yourself a full biological suit…
…but for more run-of-the-mill applications, a good respirator will do the trick.
Being stuck in an emergency situation means that you could be forced to pack up and move at a moment’s notice.
For this reason, you need to have a dependable backpack large enough to carry your essentials like water, knives, tools, and first aid kit.
I recommend a 60-liter backpack because it’s large enough to hold your necessary equipment but not too large that it starts getting bulky and in the way.
The Tactical Backpack by Trekking King is a popular 60-liter backpack that’s durable and comfortable enough to withstand long hikes and hunting trips.
Aside from looking cool, the Tactical Backpack has a number of extra compartments for maximizing your storage capabilities. You can load it up with survival material and store it in your trunk, garage, or closet and grab it at a moment’s notice.
Here are a few things that you want to keep in your backpack to keep you prepared for the unexpected:
You should also think about buying a Shemagh from Condor Outdoors.
This traditional Middle Eastern headdress was made popular in the western world by the British SAS. It’s a versatile cloth that can be used for a number of things including:
When you’re building an SHTF bag, your goal should be to anticipate and prepare for any situation – not just the apocalyptical, but also the more common such as an earthquake, tornado, fire, and whatever else is possible to your local area.
Choosing good survival gear isn’t always about maximizing your firepower.
It’s also about making sure that you’ve got clean water, shelter, and enough supplies in the event that you have to gather your things and leave at a moment’s notice.
Are you a prepper? Do you have a store of SHTF gear? Let us know all about it in the comments!
Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: adventure medical, Aero Precision, clp, Condor, Echo Sigma, estwing, Gear, Gear Reviews, gerber, GLOCK, Henry Repeating Arms, Hornady, ka-bar, leatherman, micropur, Ontario Knife Company, Prepping, Remington, Review, Smith & Wesson, streamlight, trekking king, zippo
Looking for bull barrel accuracy in a lightweight package?
Check out the new generation of barrels…carbon fiber, baby!
We cover the most popular ones in Best Carbon Fiber Barrels…but today we focus on BSF which brings us perforated carbon fiber instead of a wrap.
Plus…compared to the others out there…the BSF is the most affordable (I use that term loosely).
I only heard about BSF in the last year but they are making a splash in the carbon fiber (CF) arena with their perforated barrels instead of standard wraps.
My understanding is that there’s a 416R stainless steel match barrel underneath there that is covered with CF. However…95% of the CF doesn’t even touch the steel (only 4 contact points: chamber, before/after the gas block, and near the muzzle).
This creates air gaps that cool the barrel through the perforations.
I was lucky enough to try this out in a new build thanks to Rainier Arms who sent me a barrel for testing.
The barrel was a sight to behold. Even the wife said it was cool…and by now all the barrels and uppers around the house look the same to her.
I tried out the 16.5″ .223 Wylde in 1:8 twist which clocks in at 26.9 oz. Compare that to a standard M4 profile 16″ barrel at 28 oz. If you want to go bull barrel stainless…it can reach 3 lbs (48 oz). I couldn’t find exact numbers since I could only find 18″ bull barrels that are over 3.5 lbs.
My full build which contains all my favorites:
It is a little more difficult to install since there’s no barrel shoulder to gauge where to put the gas block. But if you have an electronic caliper…you should be good.
My go-to Superlative Arms block (this time in .936 for the bull barrel) went on easily after I made a small etch marking on the stainless section of the barrel.
Otherwise with my combo of the Brigand Arms CF handguard…I found that it rubbed the top of the gas block. Which technically makes it no longer free-floating…but I wanted to see how it would shoot still.
What you’ve been waiting for…does it actually work?
I conducted two rounds of tests…one with the touching CF handguard and one with the free-floating.
200 round break-in, targets at 100 yards, and shooting at a fast pace (as soon as sights were back on target) with no cooling down period.
And an assortment of my Best AR-15 Ammo.
If these were my regular groups with some cool-down and a slow steady shooting pace…I’d be a little disappointed. But I wanted to test how the heat dissipation worked and how it would perform in a little more competitive arena.
In that regard…I’m pretty impressed. It was pretty happy with Wolf Gold (the cheapest ammo) and very happy with Gold Match ($$$).
I also shot 30 rounds as fast as I could at the range and held the barrel. Only warm!
In my second round of tests on another range day, I used the Midwest Handguard and Aero upper. And a new Triggertech trigger which I actually like the most now.
And the results were on par…
All in all…pretty happy about the groups when I was shooting as fast as I could get on target with no cool down.
I’m sure if I started hand-loading I could really close up the groups. But it’s a pain to prep .223/5.56 brass so I stopped doing that. But even with this I was ringing steel at 300-400 pretty easily on a 1-6x scope.
No failures of any kind in the ~400 rounds I shot through.
Great groups when you consider shooting with no cool down and as fast as I could get back on target. A 5 would be consisten sub-moa even at high speed.
I’d make it a 10 if I could. But it really stands out…especially with the sweet carbon fiber drilled holes.
Bang for the Buck: 3.5/5
It’s $500…would I count it as double a really high quality 16″ Wylde barrel? Probably not. But if you’re at the top of your game or want an unfair advantage in relation to your groups opening up due to heat…this could be it. However…the most affordable out of other CF options.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I believe the hype of carbon fiber barrels now.
Take a lightweight bull barrel profile with great groups at speed…and you have a winner. If you have the coin for a sweet new build…check out BSF. It’s definitely my new competition rifle.
Ringing steel at 100 was easy standing up and with a 1x. The rifle was well balanced and once I got the Superlative Arms gas block tuned in…it felt like a pea shooter.
I’ll be reporting back as I get more rounds and comps through it.
Otherwise…check out our other Best AR-15 Barrels for something more bang-for-the-buck for the everyday shooter.
What sight combines a red dot and old school irons?
The answer is…SeeAll Open Sights ($99).
I heard about these a few years ago but their initial reviews weren’t that great due to ugly lettering in the sight picture and a weird set screw mount.
They’ve fixed all that AND added tritium for some glow-in-the-dark goodness. Let’s see if that’s enough for redemption.
The SeeAll is electronic free but still offers nearly parallax free targeting like in red dots. That means when you move your head around…the reticle stays on the target.
It does this with a magnifying lens in the front…and a smaller green/tritium section more forward that holds the reticle. In my case…a nice triangle that makes it very easy to figure out the point of impact.
Original versions had some lettering visible in this view so you can see how that would be distracting. There’s still a “R” to the bottom right but it’s barely visible when you’re on target.
SeeAll sent me two versions of their MK2 tritium models for testing.
One for pistols which attaches via a dovetail insert. Make sure you have a pistol sight pusher since it took a little while to go on my Glock slide.
I shot with the pistol version at the range a few times and also once for low-light competition. I figured that way the tritium could help out.
Here’s how the tritium insert looks in a dark closet.
And it with me in action.
Since I was running a TLR-8 flashlight I depended on that more instead of the tritium (see the Best Pistol Flashlights article for more). But it’s as bright as my normal tritium night sights.
I didn’t practice TOO much with the SeeAll on my pistol and I found it took more time to find the triangle.
My best explanation is that when you have a “U” or two-dot rear sight plus the front sight post, you can see how to adjust your handgun to line everything up.
With only the triangle to look for, especially in low-light, I found it more difficult than regular night sights to acquire the sight picture.
Therefore, I suggest pistol use only if you really train with the SeeAll, or if speed isn’t that much of a concern (the triangle system does seem plenty accurate). I can also see it great for beginners that are having some trouble with focusing on the front sight in a traditional rear/front system.
However…it’s different with a rifle.
The rifle version of the SeeAll comes with a good large knob Picatinny mount. No more set screw nonsense.
Note that you’ll need a riser for the AR for a comfortable shooting position.
On a rifle, I can get pretty consistent with my cheekweld and buttstock position. That made it a lot easier to acquire the triangle target.
Hitting 100-yard steel plates became a breeze.
This is where the SeeAll really shined. Now you get something that doesn’t need batteries…but still offers nearly parallax free shooting.
Here’s a video from SeeAll themselves on what it looks like when you’re actually shooting.
However, for both versions of the SeeAll…I wished it didn’t obscure the bottom part of the target as much. For something called the SeeAll…it needs to do better in that department.
Pistol requires some more extensive training to acquire the target at my normal speed…but was easy on a rifle. The sight also cuts off too much of the target…especially when you’re comparing it with red dots.
I didn’t torture test it but it seems pretty robust in a machined metal casing and the lens is really beefy and recessed. Plus tritium has its great half-life of 12 years.
The triangle target is more precise than standard pistol irons. And it was more than enough to hit plates at 25 yards.
Most people have never seen one…so be prepared to get asked what it is. Fit and finish were great. But I do wish that it was a little shorter in profile…especially when on a pistol.
Bang for the Buck: 4/5
The tritium version sells for $99 on SeeAll’s site but it looks like near $200 on Amazon. Not bad for something tritium based. And there’s a lifetime warranty…AND a 30 days no-questions return policy.
Overall Rating: 4/5
If you’re looking at a non-powered optic that gives you nearly parallax-free viewing…AND has tritium for low-light shooting. You should give the SeeAll a try.
Seeing if a holographic weapons sight is for you?
We bought the two most popular holographic sights right now…plus a third underdog contender.
And we break them down into what we think is the best. If you can’t wait, here’s our picks:
Without going too much into everything…why would you even want a holographic sight compared to a red dot?
Red dots (or reflex sights) operate by having an LED project a dot towards a lens, which is specially coated so that it bounces back towards your eye. Check out our Best Red Dots Under $200 article.
Holographic sights use a laser transmitted hologram of a reticle through a series of lenses back to your eye.
Since it’s laser based instead of LED, the battery life is significantly less. But it allows for more specialized reticles (the big difference in my mind) and also does not need a specially coated lens.
You also tend to get a bigger view window with holographic sights.
Now onto our favorites…
EOTech is the giant in the holographic sight game.
Sure, they had a little snafu a few years back about thermal drift (where the reticle doesn’t return to zero if subjected to extreme temperatures). But they are back and better than ever.
If you’re still worried about the thermal drift (all sights, red dot or holo, have them)…check out EOTech’s response for their new sights. When put through temperatures of -4 to 122 degrees F, there is a max drift of 3.5 MOA.
It has a big rectangular window that is very clear. And the famous 68 MOA circle with a 1 MOA dot in the center.
Here it is at the range. I had trouble getting clear shots of the reticle in high brightness. But it works great even in the sunniest of days in the desert.
And a better image of it inside.
The shorter EOTech’s have a couple variants…but I like the EXPS2-0 compared to the regular XPS line since it is 1/3 co-witness which doesn’t get in the way as much if you have irons or backup irons (Best AR-15 Backup Irons).
It also has a robust quick detach (QD) rail system and the buttons on the side (essential if you’re going to run magnifiers).
The 2-0 designates that it is the 68 MOA circle with 1 MOA center. A must if you ask me. If you’re running night vision, opt for the EXPS3-0 which has some settings for NVGs.
Here’s a video of it in action with a little simulated head movement to show how it’s devoid of almost all parallax.
The reticle makes it super easy for close up shots when I used the optic for pistol caliber carbine (PCC) competitions. While the 1 MOA dot was useful for farther plate racks.
I even took it on and off a couple of times while testing and it always stayed in zero (plate racks at 25 yards).
My choice for best overall holographic weapons sight.
The AMG UH-1 is a newish sight from Vortex and is the only real holographic contender to EOTech. It’s affectionately known as the “Huey” because of the UH-1 designation.
Built like a tank…it looks like it’s much bigger than the EXPS but it’s about the same length. It’s the extra hood that protects everything that makes it seem that way.
Since it’s new, it doesn’t have the military track record of the EOTech but so far no major complaints besides a first initial batch that had some reticle flaring that is now fixed. Plus it’s Vortex so it has a lifetime transferable warranty.
Speaking of reticles…the Huey’s reticle is my favorite out of the bunch. Still has the large circle for CQB but also has a nice chevron at the bottom for shorter engagements.
I set my zero at 25 yards for the shorter PCC competitions…but if you zero at the standard 100 yards…the triangle will really help. Also has a great integrated QD mount that maintained zero between testing.
One thing I gotta knock it down for is…the greenish tint. It’s a lot more apparent than the EOTech which if it has one…is nearly imperceptible.
It didn’t matter too much during actual shooting…but looking at it by itself it bugs me a little.
Another is that the buttons are on the back so it might also interfere with magnifiers.
However, one cool thing is that it has a rechargeable battery inside that you can charge through USB.
I tried it out to see if it works…and it does. But realistically I’m not sure if I’m really going to be plugging in my upper to my computer when swapping batteries seems so much easier.
Speaking of batteries…the AMG UH-1 has a sweet 1500 hour battery life compared to the EOTech’s 600 hours.
Overall, my runner-up if you want to get into the holographic sight game at a slightly lower entry fee.
Ok…it’s not technically a holographic sight. But instead the Holosun 510C brings together the best of both worlds of red dot and holographic.
Long battery life and a sweet reticle that isn’t “fuzzy” like normal holographic sights.
The center is a 2 MOA while the outside ring is 65 MOA. You can also cycle between using the dot only, ring only, or the combo.
Has a greenish hue on par with the Vortex. Again, it was hard to get good pictures at the range.
If you’re solely looking for the circle and dot reticle…you can’t go wrong with this optic.
It’s crisp and nearly parallax free like its brethren.
AND with a 50,000 hour battery life since it runs off LED and not lasers. PLUS it has solar capability that switches in the sun so you aren’t running off batteries. Finally, it’s lighter and has a smaller profile.
Buttons are on the side for easy access and also has a QD attachment system that also maintains zero. Has NVG capabilities but is less waterproof than the others.
My pick for the best worth-it “holographic-esque” sight.
If you’re looking for something more than a simple red dot…holographic sights are the way to go.
The big player and my favorite model is the EOTech EXPS2-0 which has the clearest glass, great button placement, and decent battery life.
My runner-up is the Vortex AMG UH-1 which is built tough, has my favorite reticle, has a longer battery life, but has a greenish hue.
Lastly…if you’re interested in the holographic reticle, go with the Holosun 510C which sports an impressive 50K battery life.
Did we miss any holographic sights out there? Find out more of our favorite optics and scopes in our Gear Reviews section.
The post Best Holographic Sights [Real Views]: EOTech, Vortex, Holosun appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.
We’re talking, complete rifles selling for $500-$600, uppers for $200…that kind of cheap.
Of course, when you’re looking at something that uses an explosion to fire a 55gr projectile out at 3,200 feet per second, is it really the best idea to go cheap?
That’s what we wanted to check out.
Found a Radical Firearms upper for sale for the rock-bottom, the you-bet-your-ass price of $190. This was an assembled upper minus BCG and charging handle, for less than $200 even with shipping
What do you think? Is a $200 upper worth it?
Let’s check it out.
Radical Firearms is a relative newcomer to the AR-15 world. I first heard about them when they brought some of their work to SHOT Show in 2016 or so, but they’ve been around for about five years now.
In that half-decade, they’ve expanded rapidly and carved out a niche for themselves as one of the best budget manufacturers in the business.
How did they do that?
They decided to start making as many parts as they could in-house.
This afforded them the opportunity to exercise a high degree of control over their manufacturing, while also allowing them to cut out a lot of the middleman markup that gets slapped on rifles by “manufacturers” that just assemble guns from third-party parts, rather than making everything in-house.
And make no mistake, they are a manufacturer. They make every part of the rifles they sell, other than barrels, pins/springs, and LPKS. Their site also says they don’t make BCGs but I think that info is a bit out of date as I’ve seen a number of Radical Firearms branded BCGs out there.
They are also an American manufacturer, which I know is important to a lot of folks, and best of all they prefer to hire vets and LE personnel when they can, like many in the firearms industry.
This all leads me to this review and why I bought a Radical Firearms upper of my very own.
Now, like I said, Radical and PS buried the hatchet over the misunderstanding and everyone moved on. But it left a terrible taste in people’s mouth. I know the smell of PR spin when it passes my nostrils, and this felt a little…off.
So I decided to see for myself, and I didn’t want to contact Radical about getting a T&E upper in to check out.
I wanted a regular standard upper off the warehouse shelf, just like the one you would get if you ordered one.
I searched around and found one at Optics Planet and snapped it up during last year’s Black Friday sale.
I did this for two reasons.
So is Radical Firearms another in a long line of fly-by-night machine shops turning out AR parts with sloppy standards and poor practices?
Or are they something else? Maybe even a sorely needed quality, American manufacturer offering good rifles at great prices?
We wanted to know, and sure to find out.
The upper we got had a 15” MLOK rail, and A2 flash hider, and not much else going for it. I like the shape of the handguard, it has a sort of quasi-rounded thing going on with a flattish bottom.
Machining is totally adequate. I noticed no rough edges, file marks, burrs, or other machining imperfections.
Everything is totally in spec and I had no problems fitting the upper to a variety of lowers, including two Aero lowers, a Spikes lower, and an Anderson lower.
Now, the upper I received was sans BCG and charging handle, so I added my own until I could get a Radical Firearms BCG, which we’ll talk about it a minute.
For now, threw in a spare Aero Precision BCG and a generic charging handle that came from somewhere.
Then, throw BCM Gunfighter handles on all my guns, so this one probably came off a complete upper or something.
With that, I inspected the upper, daubed a little Dykem layout/machining fluid on the screws holding the handguard in place so I could see if they were turning or working themselves out under recoil, lubed everything that needed lubing, slapped the upper on an Aero complete lower, and hit the range.
I packed a little over 250 rounds on that first outing, a mix of Federal American Eagle, range-quality handloads, and a box of Federal Gold Medal, all with 77gr bullets to take maximum advantage of the 1:7 twist barrel.
I also slapped a Bushnell TRS red dot, my personal favorite cheapo optic, on top of the upper’s full-length rail. I chose this because I figure most people who buy these aren’t going to be putting something super expensive like the absolutely amazing Aimpoint PRO on top of it.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with a budget rifle, as long as it works. If you aren’t a precision shooter, the difference between a sub-1” group and a 2.5” group isn’t a big deal, but you will pay through the nose for the former and can throw together a rifle that’ll do the latter for about $600.
I zeroed this setup in at 25 yards, and then stepped over to the 100, 200, and 400 yard stretches to see what it could really do.
Again, this is with a mix of ammo, and honestly, I didn’t expect much out of the upper. At $190, if I could hit pie plates at 100 yards, I’d have gone home happy. I set out to build a beater gun after all.
But holy Kahuna did I underestimate this upper.
I was hitting 6” steel plates at 100 yards with absolutely boring regularity, the staccato pingpingping of rapid-fire impacts setting the plate swinging on the chains.
At fifty yards, I was left with one ragged dime-sized hole.
Reaching out to 400 yards, I was able to fairly easily smack a steel pig silhouette target, though I was pushing myself more than the rifle, and I’ll take credit for any misses.
Punching paper with the Gold Medal ammo was equally surprising. I swapped in a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x scope and after a quick bore sight and about a third of a mag to really dial the scope in, I was getting easy 2 MOA groups at 100 and 200 yards, and a best group of 1.8 inches (measured center to center with calipers) at 100 yards.
I noticed no keyholing or other weirdness, and I shot the full 250 or so rounds without a single issue (this was with beat up PMAGS and one steel GI mag).
Now, is any of that matching accuracy? No, of course not. I have AR’s that’ll punch ¾ MOA groups all day.
But those rifles have an extra digit on their price tag. Nowhere do I see Radical Firearms claiming to make the most accurate guns in the world for $600. I see them saying they make guns that work for $600, and their upper certainly reflects that.
Since November, I’ve put about a thousand rounds through this upper, cleaned it once, lubed it three or four times, and I’ve experienced precisely two malfunctions, both from the same mag.
That mag also had problems feeding in a $2,500 rifle where it actually causes a double feed (and some swearing).
Overall, I was very impressed with the Radical Upper I received.
The rumors and the gossip and the snide remarks are all just hot air. I think Radical Firearms is a good company that makes great products, and they are definitely a manufacturer to keep your eye on.
When I was researching them beforehand, I saw a lot of comments from others about the low quality of their products, and machining issues, and “Chinesium” and on and on and on.
But I noticed that these were always comments from people who had a “friend” who owned one. Or somebody was quoting somebody that overheard somebody that…was full of it.
I haven’t seen very many complaints ( none, really) from people who own Radical Firearms products, and I can say, since I purchased this thing with my own money, that I also have no complaints about the upper I bought and tested for this review, and others are saying the same.
Will it knock the wings off a fly at a thousand yards? Not unless you get very lucky, but not every rifle needs to be that accurate.
For me, for this rifle, I wanted something I could abuse and knock around, and still count on it to hit what I was aiming at inside 400 yards or so. And this does that.
If you’re looking for a reliable beater gun, an entry-level upper for a new build project, or even something that’s competition-ready on a tight budget, I can’t think of a better value for your dollar than these uppers.
And they’re available in everything from 7.62×39 to the hot new .224 Valkyrie, so you can get one for every occasion.
I’m happy with this purchase, and anyone who complains about a $200 upper that goes bang every time and puts rounds on target is probably just looking for something to complain about.
What do you think of the Radical Firearms upper? Would you put one on your gun?
Putting a pistol caliber cartridge in a rifle is easy…but a rifle round in a pistol? Now that takes a bit more effort…
While rifles chambered in classic handgun rounds seem to be all the craze right now, we seem to forget that the opposite exists…kind of. Although not exactly a rifle round, the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge is also not quite a pistol round either.
Clearly, the Five-seveN is truly a unicorn of the gun world. It is a lightweight polymer pistol that shoots FN’s own 5.7x28mm round.
When NATO requested an alternative to the 9x19mm round, FN Herstal was the first to respond, presenting the 5.7x28mm cartridge. The 5.7 round was originally developed for the P90 until the Five-SeveN pistol went into production in 1998.
In the early 2000s, NATO conducted a series of tests with the goal of standardizing a personal defense weapon round and replacing the iconic 9mm.
The 5.7x28mm surely impressed—it was highly effective, performed at extreme temperatures, and could even be manufactured on the same production lines as the loved 5.56x45mm NATO round.
The Five-SeveN is a full-sized pistol and a compact-sized weight. It has a nearly completely polymer frame, with some small steel internal components.
While the grip is considerably thinner than most full-sized pistols and a bit long, which could be a bit uncomfortable for some hand sizes, it features ambidextrous controls that are conveniently placed for thumb or trigger finger manipulation.
Although the grip can feel a bit odd at first because it is so untraditional, it grew on me as I manipulated the gun and actually shot it.
Adjustable rear sights for both windage and elevation, which is important because of the round’s uncommon ballistics.
Since the 5.7×28 cartridge is so small it is easy to fit a lot of ammo into a single magazine, especially when using a double stack-double feed design.
The design of the magazines is equally brilliant and lightweight. They hold 20 rounds and load in a similar fashion to standard AR magazines–you simply push the round straight down instead of maneuvering it in and under like in most pistol magazines.
The Five-SeveN is also easy to disassemble with a simple takedown lever.
Shooting the Five-SeveN is an absolute BLAST.
Imagine the almost non-existent recoil of a .22 LR juxtaposed with the noise of an AR. The first few shots fascinated me yet confused me.
I had never shot anything like it and could easily tell it is one-of-a-kind.
The lightweight frame makes for a comfortable range session while magazines are a breeze to load.
Sadly the rigger is not the greatest but features a pretty crisp break and moderate pull weight, my groups were pretty consistent with how I would normally shoot a handgun; maybe slightly better at longer ranges – likely due to the high velocity of the 5.7 ammo.
I could see this gun being liked across the spectrum, from novice shooters to seasoned vets.
The Five-SeveN has a sleek and almost futuristic look to it. It comes in either an all-black finish or a tan frame and black slide (my personal favorite).
The rail can be outfitted with a flashlight and aftermarket night sights are available for purchase as well.
Threaded barrels do exist for this gun and I can only imagine what a great time it would be shoot suppressed.
The 5.7x28mm cartridge was designed to meet a goal and in that role it is unequaled – but the Cold War is over and the need for armor penetration in an EDC is limited at best.
There is quite a bit of debate surrounding the topic of whether the Five-SeveN can be used as an effective carry gun:
On the pro side, it is extremely lightweight, has a decently heavy trigger pull and safety, very high magazine capacity, and effective stopping power.
Looking at the cons we have expensive to shoot ammo that is only available in FMJ, and the high possibility of over penetration due to such a fast round.
As with most things, it is a personal choice as to whether this is a viable carry gun or just a fun range toy to make your friends jealous. However, we tend to be on the side of the fence that says there are Better Options for Full-Size EDC.
Nice grip texture, super lightweight, but an oddly shaped grip could be uncomfortable for some.
Better than most handguns, especially at longer ranges.
I had no issues with it jamming, ever. After doing some research I did not conclude that there were any known reliability issues and NATO testing definitely backs up the effectiveness of the round.
This category is lacking a bit because the gun is not very common and the design is unique. It might just be better to leave it as it comes from the factory and trust FN’s creative design.
I like the almost futuristic and very sleek look, but it does not necessarily look special, especially for the price.
This is the real kicker. The actual gun is expensive and the ammo also expensive. While it could make a great splurge purchase, it is not exactly a cheap plinker.
Really the only downside to this gun is the price, not only out the door of your FFL but also in trying to keep it fed. There is also the fact that although 5.7x28mm was a perfect solution the problem it was designed for – there just isn’t much of a need for it currently.
But, if you have the money and the desire, it will always turn heads at the range.
If you have the chance to shoot a Five-SeveN, you should. It is unlike any gun I have ever shot and is truly a remarkable weapon.
The unicorn of the polymer pistol world is definitely not for everyone but has surely caught the attention of many. An amazing combination of a lightweight frame, high-speed but low recoil round, and loud bang come together to make the FN Five-SeveN noteworthy and intriguing.
Do you have a Five-SeveN? Plan on getting one? Let us know in the comments! Check out more of our favorite guns & gear in Editor’s Picks.
Put down the Phillips screwdriver and hammer. Yes, I see you, banging away at your trigger pins and moments away from the inevitable slip-and-gouge across the side of your AR lower. A gouge you’ll either pay to have repaired or, more likely, leave as a permanent, scarred reminder of your penchant for the Wrong Tool for the Job.
I’m the first to admit building up your collection of task-specific firearms-related tools takes time and a not-inconsiderable amount of money. In the past few years I’ve been going through trigger pull gauges like crazy thanks to theft and random, odd breakages.
I’m also no stranger to frantically rushing around town for a uniquely-sized hex key or some bizarrely-shaped bit (the latter of which is typically on a foreign-made optics mount, leaving me cursing and sweating to meet my review deadline). All that said, I have a pair of tool kits that have proven to be invaluable: Brownell’s Magna-Tip Super Set and Gunsmith Master Punch Set.
Brownell’s Magna-Tip Super Set comes with 58 bits and two handles, one short and one long. There are also 22 and 44-bit sets available but I highly recommend the largest. Why? Because the 8-bit set includes flat blades in nine different widths and six thicknesses, a variety of Allen bits, and even a tiny torx.
As the name implies, the bits are magnetized which has been extremely useful for hanging onto tiny screws. To satisfy my OCD side, it comes in a hard plastic case with a carefully-graphed chart showing where each bit should be placed within the many holes. I’ve also found I can store the numerous tiny hex keys that come with aftermarket triggers and optics in the compartment with the shorter handle.
It made my life – and my job – much simpler last week when I needed to play musical triggers with a few ARs to install a Timney Calvin Elite AR trigger in a DPMS Hunter for a business trip. The pistol grip screws all had different sizes and types of heads and I had bits for all of them.
And when I install an aftermarket hammer spring in one of my hunting revolvers later today I know I’ll have the correct bits for the job. Damaging the side plate of a cherished gun because you don’t bother to use the right screwdriver is no small failure (in my opinion).
Brownell’s Gunsmith Master Punch Set is similarly valuable. I’m not quite as obsessed with it as I am the Magna-Tip Super Set, but it comes in handy on a regular basis.
It includes four starter punches for stuck pins, four hardened-point pin punches, one prick punch, four brass punches, three nylon front-sight drift punches, and one center punch. There’s also a small neoprene mat, a nylon bench block, and a hammer with one nylon and one brass head.
This set comes in a polyethylene case with removable dividers. Having the right punch for various gunsmithing jobs big and small has saved more than a few guns from scratches, gouges, and being thrown out the window in frustration.
The only downside I’ve found to the Magna-Tip Super Set isn’t product-related, it’s human-idiocy related. When the day arrives that you – or someone else, ahem – accidentally spill the box of neatly-organized bits, you’re probably going to lose it (your composure).
The good news is the bits are all engraved with their part number, so if you stick the diagram on the inside of the lid, you can easily figure out where they go. Organizing them is a bit time-consuming – pun intended – but worthwhile. When the bits are arranged by size, finding the specific bit you need happens a lot faster. Just don’t lose them.
As for the Gunsmith Master Punch Set, I have no complaints about the tools themselves. I do wish the compartments were sized differently and the removable dividers were, well, not removable. One of the long dividers with no replacement cracked badly the first week I had the set. In addition, the neoprene mat is too small for the majority of my needs. None of those are terrible flaws, just minor frustrations with nothing to do with the punches or hammer. At some point I’ll buy a different case.
Bottom line? It’s much cheaper to buy the right tools than it is to pay to repair gouges. Ask me how I know. I’ve Dremeled down more than a few screwdrivers from the hardware store to precisely fit various revolvers and far prefer having these sets on hand.
The Magna-Tip Super Set is awesome; I have a gunsmith friend who owns multiples of it and have been seriously considering buying another myself. The punches are necessary tools if you do any work on rifles and Brownell’s set provides the varied types needed for different tasks which I appreciate.
Now, put the Phillips down and get some proper tools. Not only will you not regret it, you’ll love it. And your guns will thank you, too.
Rating (out of five stars):
Tool Quality * * * * * / * * * * * (Gunsmith Master Punch Set/Magna-Tip Super Set)
I’ve used these tools hard and they’ve withstood it all. The Magna-Tip Super Set, specifically, has been fantastic. There have not been any issues whatsoever of bending, let alone breaking. These are some of my favorite tools.
Case Quality * */ * * *
The case the punches came in is all right. I believe the case itself will likely last for some time as long as I do not drop it; the hinges and corners are unlike to survive a fall. The dividers are brittle which would be less of an issue if it came with extras for every piece rather than only the shortest ones. I’ll replace the case.
As for the Magna-Tip Super Set case, it’s made of tougher stuff than the punch set’s. I like the individual slots for each bit. I do wish it closed more securely; the lid is secured by a slight ridge at its center and has been finicky. And, yes, it’s been spilled. So while it’s good, thick plastic, the latch is iffy.
Value * * */ * * * *
Can you ever really give something five stars for price? It isn’t as though spending money is fun. The Gunsmith Master Punch Set gets three stars because although the tools themselves are great quality, the case is not. At $109.99 I would hope for a slightly better case.
The Magna-Tip Super Set has an MSRP of $129.99 which is pretty fair considering the overall quality of the set. Considering the screwdrivers and hex keys I’ve broken I have to say it’s well worth the price.
Overall: * * * */ * * * *
I highly recommend the Magna-Tip Super Set and recommend the Gunsmith Master Punch Set as well. Between the two the Magna-Tip Super Set is my favorite. It really has proven invaluable (in fact, I have the short handle and various bits with me right now on an out-of-state hunt). Having the right tools makes your work a whole lot easier.
Need some protection for your hands from weekend shooting to busting down doors?
We bought a bunch of the most popular tactical shooting gloves out there and tested them with competitions, range trips, and even a house move or two.
While emphasis will be on what’s important to civilian shooters (price, fit, touch-screen capability, durability etc.), we also cover some tactical aspects as well.
By the end you’ll know the best glove for your end use. Here’s a sneak peek of our results:
Why gloves? Let me list a couple of reasons:
The most important thing to me…if you have the best glove out there and it fits like a grocery bag or a kid’s mitten…it’s not going to work out.
Here’s measurements of my hand so you can compare when I go over the sizing. Overall I have skinny wrists, not that much of a palm swell, and long fingers.
Now let’s get to it…
I’ve had a couple Mechanix original gloves for shop work but the few times I took them to the range I felt their fingers were a little too bulky for some firearm tasks.
Enter…their newish Fastfit Gloves.
I wore mediums and using their sizing chart I re-confirmed I was indeed medium.
Here’s some other useful stats:
For me they didn’t fit quite right because of my palm size. You can see there’s a lot of gap in there.
And the cut between the index finger and thumb is a little restricting for handgun shooting. Rifles are fine.
Also very thin so great for dexterity but not very warm or heat resistant if that’s your thing.
But for $14 and pretty good durability from what I’ve seen from friends…you can’t go wrong for a first pair of shooting gloves. Especially if you have slightly meatier hands.
My main recommendation for affordable shooting gloves are Magpul Technical Gloves.
I went with medium and they fit a lot more snugly one me…especially at the cuff. The Mechanix ones were just too loose and flared for my tastes. However…with the smaller cuff you’re going to have a lot harder time taking these off.
You can see it fits a lot better and the cut of the thumb and index finger is much more conducive for shooting. There’s also extra material on three fingers that enables touch-screen access.
At first I thought it would disrupt precision shooting but it’s at the tip of the finger enough that I had no problems.
Thicker material than the Mechanix and what I think is a good Goldilocks zone of dexterity and protection. Also some terrycloth material on the back of the thumb for sniffles or cleaning optics. Awesome for $20.
The FDT stands for full dexterity tactical and they live up to their name. The Delta Glove version is the thinnest version.
If you want full dexterity at the expense of some protection…these are the best on the market.
I’m a large for SKD gloves and I fit very snugly even though I sized up.
No complaints in the finger or palm swell area.
But note that the words “PIG” are rubberized textures that work well but will eventually fall off. However the tips of the gloves are still touch-screen enabled.
Some more stats:
They look great too and you can see how thin they are even in the back. If you need knuckle protection look elsewhere. The design is cool but I have a feeling it’s going to start peeling when I wear it more.
A little more at $30 but currently my favorite when dexterity is the primary focus.
My current favorite shooting glove…the Alpha version of the PIG FDTs.
The thicker OG version…I think this glove checks all the boxes. Still super dexterous while having some additional protection…all the while fitting like…a glove.
I went with large on this like the Delta version.
I’ve used these gloves the most and they shoot pistols, ARs, reload magazines, and move couches perfectly. A little slower to dry since it’s thicker and has some synthetic suede.
You can see a lot of it is giving dexterity for the trigger finger and it shows in those knuckle breaks. It’s almost the same as the Delta but with more warmth and protection. Plus I like having the ability to tighten the wrist strap.
Lastly, it has a nice soft material behind the thumb…again great for your nose or cleaning lenses.
The most expensive on the list but if you shoot a lot or value protection/dexterity…I highly recommend the Alpha gloves.
Side-note: I had a defect with my Alphas where the ring finger on one hand was twisted so a seam was on my finger pad. Not a deal breaker but annoying. I emailed SKD and they took care of the problem in less than an hour and two emails.
There’s a lot of tactical shooting gloves out there…and I couldn’t buy & test them all. But here are some of my honorable mentions that I’ve used or know are popular.
After a good amount of testing…here are my final recommendations.
For the best overall glove…
If you want the glove with the most dexterity:
And if you want the most affordable but still very capable:
How’d I do…any I miss that I should test out next? Let me know if the comments below. And be sure to see more of our favorite gear in Editor’s Picks.
So you’re ready to build your own AR-15 upper but aren’t sure of the upper receiver?
We’ve got you covered with our personal go-to mil-spec receiver and also a couple of unique options that will turn heads.
If you haven’t read my AR-15 Guide that goes over all the components of an AR, I’d suggest starting there first. Otherwise, I’ll suppose that you’re well-versed in everything AR and ready to just see what’s the best upper receiver.
*Updated 2018*: More lightweight uppers.
Here’s a sneak peek of our best uppers list if you can’t wait:
I’ve built almost a dozen AR-15 uppers for myself and friends and have almost exclusively gone with Aero Precision. They got their start manufacturing for the aerospace industry (name checks out) and moved into AR-15 parts. Now they are really gunning with complete AR-15’s and even barrels too.
You might have heard about forge marks, which are above the forward assist. This just designates which metal forging company created the upper blank. The end company (such as Aero) is the one that actually machines the upper.
So the forge mark by itself means nothing since the quality really comes from the final company (and there are differences). As far as I know, Aero uses several forges but mostly the “broken A” which comes from Anchor Harvey Aluminum.
The gold standard ($80) in my mind that lets you choose your own forward assist and port door. Comes with M4 feedramps, laser engraved T-marks for the rails, and also available in several colors for a little bit more.
I’ve had no problems with any of my builds and if you do any searches you’ll see that it’s almost exclusively positive comments. Remember to finish out your stripped upper with an upper parts kit ($17)
The upgraded version of the mil-spec that gives a billet look without the doubling in price. My personal favorite now for my builds and what lives on my home defense gun (full review).
Remember to finish out your stripped upper with an upper parts kit ($17) or simply look at assembled uppers which are basically the same price with the upper parts installed.
No need to scrape anything when installing…or go nuts on the port door.
And if you’re balling on a budget, you can get a “blemished” version (~25% off) of the stripped or assembled upper (depending on their stock). “Blemished” just means there’s some cosmetic abnormalities that will not affect actual function.
The last two builds I’ve done have been with Aero blem uppers and I had to really look to find the cosmetic problem. And of course they’ve all worked fine.
Here’s the latest one…looks like there’s a scuff & a dimple. I put more scuffs on mine during a match! If you want to save a couple bucks I’d go this route.
Bad thing is that they are usually snatched up as soon as they become available.
If you have never used the forward assist and want to shave some weight off…you can get a no forward assist upper ($84). This type of upper is also known as a “slick” upper.
In my opinion I just like the look of the forward assist and I go by the mantra that I’d rather have it and not use it, than need it and not have it. Especially on a more duty rifle build.
The MUR upper receiver ($200) has thicker walls to make it a more rigid shooting platform which should translate to more accuracy. Plus it looks different and cool enough to get some envious looks.
If you want to go light…but not at the expense of extreme lightening cuts and possible reduced reliability.
Plus…I dig the Tron-esque design.
My newest muse…
Probably as light as you can go…and geared towards turning heads at rifle competitions (not home-defense). If you’re in a dusty environment I’d keep it covered…but otherwise initial reports say that the large cuts don’t affect function even with tons of rounds downrange.
I have one on the way for my new competition gun so I’ll report back soon.
Now that you’ve seen our suggestions for the best AR-15 upper receiver (both stripped and assembled), you’re one step closer to your build. Check out the rest of our AR- 15 Guides to continue your parts selection and overall education. And if you’re ready to build…here’s our AR-15 Upper Assembly Visual Guide.
The post 7 Best AR-15 Stripped Upper Receivers [Hands-On 2018] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.
I settled down by the third shot, and after I squeezed the AccuTrigger on the Savage A22, the bushytail tumbled out of the tree. I was happy, and more importantly, Dotzie was happy.
IN MY MISSPENT YOUTH, I knew an old codger who I thought of as my mentor when it came to rifles. He had survived Korea and a battle that took place in a location now called the Frozen Chozin. He had a house full of guns, and was always shooting, reloading, or doing something with a rifle. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, while staying out of his way at the same time.
“Boy,” he told me, “everyone needs a good .22 rifle, if for nothing else than just to shoot.” By “just to shoot” he meant target practice, can plinking, hunting small game, pest control, and anything else a body would need a rifle for in a caliber below a .3030. To him, a dependable .22 was a tool much like an axe or a wrench; and when you needed one, it had to work and work well.
Long known for their brand of no-nonsense firearms, Savage Arms (savagearms.com) has returned to the forefront in recent years with high-quality rifles that work well when you need them to. Savage wowed the rimfire world a couple of years ago with the introduction of the A17, the first high-performance semiautomatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR cartridge. They followed that success up with the A22 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum rimfire). Now, Savage is adding another new model to the A series: the A22 in (you guessed it) .22 Long Rifle. Here are some thoughts on this nifty little rifle, and why I think my old long gun mentor would approve.
Like the A17 and A22 Magnum, this rifle features a thread-in barrel with zero-tolerance head space, much like Savage builds their centerfire rifles. The barrel is “button” rifled and recessed on the business end, which is going to save on accuracy over time by protecting it. This is important if you are as hard on guns as I am, hauling them around in vehicles, getting knocked around while carrying them and the like.
The A22 comes equipped with a Savage AccuTrigger that outdoes many triggers in the centerfire line. No pulling the trigger housing or disassembly required. A small, simple tool, supplied by Savage, is inserted through the trigger guard and turned one direction to lighten the trigger pull, and the other to make it heavier. This could easily be done in the field if necessary. The trigger is the most important element of any rifle and the AccuTrigger is a good one.
The A22 has a smooth-cycling, straight-blowback action that reliably feeds a variety of .22-caliber ammunition from the magazine to the chamber. This little rifle ate every kind of .22 ammo that I fed it, including CCI Mini Mag, Federal Hunter Match, Aguila Sub Sonic and Super Extra, and Remington Gold Bullet and Target rounds. The A22 chewed them all up and spit them out without fail. That in itself is no small feat for any rimfire autoloader.
COMPANY LITERATURE TELLS US that Savage engineers did some exhaustive factory testing, and it appears they were successful across the board. The 10-round rotary magazine reliably fed the rounds every time the trigger was pulled. The magazine is flush mounted, and two other hunters besides myself who carried the A22 liked this feature.
For those times when you may want more ammo on hand, Savage also partnered with shooting accessories supplier Butler Creek (butlercreek.com) to increase the rifle’s ammo capacity by creating a 25-round, spring-fed aftermarket magazine. I haven’t got my hands on one of these magazines yet, but that is definitely my plan.
At the risk of sounding like the typical prattling gun writer, I must say I was very impressed with the A22’s accuracy. Holetouching groups did not seem to be a problem out to 50 yards, which I deemed far enough for squirrel shooting. The rifle comes equipped with adjustable open steel sights, so it’s ready to shoot right out of the box, but it is also drilled and tapped for scope mounts, allowing shooters to easily add their favorite optic.
The rifle I tested had a Bushnell 3.5-10x A22 Rimfire Optics scope mounted on it, and at first I thought this was too much scope for a .22 rifle. But after shooting this rig for a few days I really began to like it. This optic has a turret calibrated for high-velocity .22 ammo, and you can have a lot of fun with this system out to 125 yards. You can check out more info on this particular scope and many others by visiting bushnell.com.
I do herby proclaim the A22 to be a shooter, both in accuracy and proficiency of putting rounds down range. At a suggested retail of 281 American dollars, I doubt you can find a .22 rifle that is this much gun for less money. I think my old rifle guru would approve. ASJ
Finally, a mere 55 years later, Dixie Gun Works has added the Uberti Cattleman Flat-top to their catalog, and it was worth the wait. In addition to being historically correct, this is a six-gun built for accurate and ﬁne shooting.
The details of that historical correctness begin with the cartridges this gun is chambered for. Currently (although things can change), the ﬂat-top Cattleman is offered only for the .45 Colt and the .44/40. Of those two cartridges, the .45 is certainly the most common today, just as it was years ago. If all of my wishes had come true, this new gun would be offered in .44 Smith & Wesson Russian/Special too. However, with the .45 Colt and the .44/40 to choose from, one of the .44/40s was my choice.
THE MOST OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE between this target model and the standard frame guns, in addition to the ﬂat-top frame, is the sights. At the back, the rear sight sits in a dovetail and it is easily windage adjustable, with a small set screw to lock it in place. The front sight is a blade pinned into a lug soldered to the top of the barrel. Originally, the front sight could be changed, and that should be possible on this gun too (simply drive out the pin), but a new front sight blade would have to be made.
Another feature I really like is the wide trigger. Instead of the standard narrow trigger found on most Colt Single Actions and their clones, this trigger is the same width as the trigger guard. That will give the trigger ﬁnger a much better “grip” while aiming for the shot.
Interestingly enough, in reviewing some original ﬂattops, I discovered that not all of them had the wide triggers. Additionally, a few of the models with wide triggers had their triggers checkered. To me, that’s an interesting detail about the rare original Colts, and likewise for these rather uncommon copies.
Shooting the Flat-top in .44/40 is like shooting a very rare piece. As you may know, Colt originally made only 21 of their ﬂat-top Single Action Army revolvers in this caliber. (Of course, that doesn’t count the 78 ﬂat-top .44/40 Bisley Models which were also made.) Most of my shooting was done with black powder loads, but that is certainly not
a requirement. I will even admit that my best shooting was done with smokeless powdered loads.
THOSE LOADS ARE GOOD ENOUGH to mention in detail. First, the bullets used for all of my loads were cast from Lyman’s mold #427098, usually out of a soft 30-1 alloy, sized to .429 inches, and lubricated with BPC lube (Black Powder Cartridge lube from Montana Armory). Primers used were always CCI’s standard Large Pistol.
The black powder load used 33.0 grains of GOEX’s Olde Eynsford powder, which ﬁlls the Starline .44/40 cases almost to the top. Then the powder is compressed simply by seating the bullet down on it.
For a smokeless powder load, all of the above remains the same except for the powder charge. Instead of using black powder, I used a charge of 7½ grains of Unique. That is basically a recommended load, not near maximum at all, and some very comfortable shooting can be done with it. That is an accurate load too, good enough for pleasing groups and controllable enough for Cowboy competition.
To make load identiﬁcation very easy, I load my black powder ammo in Starline’s nickel-plated cases, while the smokeless load go into standard brass cases.
Both of those loads seem to hit at about the same elevation. For my “accuracy check,” I posted a couple of pistol targets at 50 feet, and ﬁred the ﬂat-top from a rest. While holding the sights at 6 o’clock, right at the bottom of the black, very good hits were made, mostly in the 10 ring. The smokeless load did produce a somewhat smaller group than the black powder loads, but I only made this comparison once, and I’m certain a lot of “human element” was involved.
WHAT WAS A LOT MORE FUN, as you could probably guess, was plinking with the black powder loads. One particular small target was teasing me, and that was a clothespin hanging on a wire at a distance of 25 or 30 yards. There was a good dirt bank backstop behind it, and I could spot exactly where my shots that missed actually hit. It took me only three tries to hit that clothespin, and it disassembled quite nicely on my third shot.
AS FOR TECHNICAL INFO about the gun, the 7½-inch-long barrel is riﬂed with grooves .004 inch deep and a rate of twist at one turn in 20 inches. The groove diameter of the barrel is .429 inch. This gun’s front sight is a silver blade that is held with a screw in the blued steel base. The rear sight is a nice wide square notch that sits in a dovetail. It is windage adjustable and it has a set screw to hold it in place. This gun measures 13.25 inches overall, and it weighs about 2½ pounds. Dixie’s price, at this writing, is only $450.00, making this a lot of gun for the money.
Shooting with the Flat-top Cattleman is, for me, a real pleasure. And now, if they’ll bring back the ﬂat-top Bisley Model, I hope my name is at the top of their list.
I also hope that I don’t have to wait another 55 years. ASJ