November 18th, 2019 by AmSJ Staff

The German Mauser Karabiner 98 Kurz

Story and Photographs by Alex Kincaid
“I‘ll take a semiautomatic rifle any day of the week over a bolt action, and twice on Sunday.” That’s what my husband told me when I confessed my love of the Mauser M98 bolt-action. A discussion ensued, and we were not talking hunting – we were discussing war. Our passion for rifles and history often leads to a great deal of research and conversation. Neither of us has served in the military, but the conversation thankfully extends beyond the theoretics of our living room to those who have first-hand experience to tell it how it is, or was. Speaking with veterans is an opportunity neither of us will ever turn down. Our veterans, after all, are our heroes.

IT HAS BEEN MY HONOR to personally listen to tales of heroism and horror from World War II vets who have experiences ranging from retrieving the bodies of their fallen comrades on Utah Beach to fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, the final Nazi Germany offensive. I have watched one of the Chosin Few, a US Marine Corps division who fought in the Chosin Reservoir, wipe tears from his face as he divulged only a small part of his experience in Korea; a friend and firearms instructor who is a Vietnam Marine shared with me the day he almost died, and now celebrates annually; Purple Heart recipients from our recent wars in the Middle East have revealed acts of horror impossible to comprehend without experiencing them firsthand; and in addition to America’s heroes, I have also heard firsthand from those who served in the Axis military.

In all these conversations, I have never heard how any particular rifle was more responsible than another for saving or taking human life, or for winning or losing a battle. These surviving storytellers instead focus their successes on much more important phenomena: battle strategy, bravery and luck. Statistical history suggests that many soldiers never even fired their rifles in combat during WWII. Some data suggests as few as 12 percent, with arguments to the contrary, and at least one expert suggests soldiers purposefully missed their human targets. Similar studies suggest that small arms were only responsible for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the total WWII casualties.

The K98k was one of the final developments of the Mauser line.

Statistics, however, do not stop the debates. Historians and gun enthusiasts continue to credit or blame particular rifles with winning or losing battles. Competitors challenge one another to long-distance matches with antiques, and well-known shooters film their time on the range, allegedly staging a direct comparison of era rifles to prove one is better than the other.
While these feats are interesting, and provide direct comparisons of a specific rifle feature, a complete analysis of any war rifle must take into account much more than test fires of speed and accuracy on a range. Battle rifles deserve a comparison that includes details of their intended purpose and the battle strategy for implementing that purpose. After all, isn’t a perfect rifle one that reliably performs as it was intended in an effective and efficient manner?

Weimar Eagle proofing stamp (Beschußstempel) on the author’s K98k rifle. This combination of stamps and a few other features on this rifle provide some evidence of where and when it was originally manufactured. She determined that this one is a 1939 Sauer & Sohn-manufactured rifle.

THE GERMAN MAUSER KARABINER 98 KURZ, or K98k, is a true phoenix from the ashes of WWI, and despite the challenges faced by its creators, it fulfilled its purpose during WWII, is respected by gun enthusiasts around the world and has served as a stable platform for the development of modern rifles for almost 100 years.
After the Great War, nations around the world realized the need to improve standard military rifles. American military planners studied the effectiveness of bolt-action  repeating rifles, and concluded there was a need to develop a semiautomatic infantry rifle. The Germans, on the other hand, were saddled with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The signing of the treaty on June 28, 1919, not only officially ended World War I, but restricted the German army to 100,000 men and forbade the country from producing military weaponry.

The famous Mauser claw extractor firmly holding the 8mm (7.92 x 57mm) round in place. This demonstrates a control-feed bolt-act ion versus an open-feed bolt action with three Nazi proofing stamps (Waffenamt stamps).

Those determined to re-arm a German infantry would have to do so secretly while outsmarting the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission inspectors tasked with ensuring the treaty’s terms were followed.
The Germans worked to improve upon their WWI Mauser Gewehr für Deutsche Reichspost, or Gew 98, bolt-action rifles by creating the K98k in secret manufacturing plants. The resulting surreptitious rifles were fully assembled under two floors of underwear manufacturing in Switzerland.

Alex Kincaid settles in on a target with her 1939 German Mauser Karabiner 98 kurz, manufactured by Sauer & Sohn. (OLEG VOLK)

BY JUNE 21, 1935, the K98k was officially adopted as the German service rifle. Its 24-inch barrel and overall 43-inch length is much shorter than the Gew 98. Without a bayonet, ammunition or a sling the K98k weighs 8.38 pounds. With iron sights it has a 550-yard effective firing range, which is increased to over 1,000 yards when fitted with a telescopic sight. The rifle holds five 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridges (originally 197.5 grain), which can be loaded from a stripper clip or one by one.

Like a Porsche, the K98k is German perfection in design and engineering, and carries this ideal through multiple features, but its heart and soul is its Mauser M98 action. Why is the Mauser action so much better than other bolt-action systems? It exemplifies two words: strength and reliability.

One reason for the Mauser’s strength is that the bolt’s two main locking lugs were moved to the front just behind the bolt head, unlike early repeaters with only one lug or their lugs positioned at the back of the bolt. These lugs allow for higher-pressure cartridges to be fired safely, and are the reason that the Mauser system is stronger than that of the Lee-Enfield and Mosin-Nagant actions, which require some strengthening to handle the same pressure. Backing up the two front lugs, the Mauser action also includes a third safety lug at the rear of the bolt.

Not only does the Mauser action deliver the power to handle the higher caliber rounds, it also has the strength via its extractor to eject fully loaded, heavy-dud rounds every time. Not all bolt-actions are capable of this feat, and can leave duds dancing around in the ejection port, causing jams.

AS FOR RELIABILITY, the Mauser action eliminates operator-caused malfunctions that other bolt-actions cannot, including jams due to double loading, failures to load – due to short-stroking or otherwise – and failure to eject duds and casings. It is the Mauser’s large and nearly indestructible claw extractor, which gives the action its control-feed operation, keeping the round under the control of the bolt from the moment it is stripped from the magazine. The control feed, as opposed to push-open-feed bolt-actions, ensures that each cartridge is held to the bolt face until achieving a positive insertion into the chamber, regardless of rifle position. The Mauser action also prevents double feeds, because it is impossible to have a round in the chamber and grab a second round.
Keeping the cartridge on the bolt face until ejected also allows the shooter to reliably extract a round even if the bolt is never fully closed. If you fail to lock the bolt with a push-feed action, you can leave the round seated in the chamber, and you will have to get it to fall out or even pick it out with your fingers – not a good situation for a soldier or hunter. This task may not even be possible, depending on what is causing the malfunction in the first place.

As a primary goal for improvement to their battle rifle, the Germans sought to ensure that soldiers always loaded a new round. To enhance this feature, they developed the follower at the magazine into a bolt catch. The bolt on a Mauser action cannot be pushed forward while unloaded because the follower in the magazine pops up and blocks the bolt from going forward until it is actually reloaded (pushed down by another round). Also, due to the ejector’s location, it is impossible to short-stroke a Mauser action and close the bolt without ejecting the casing and without loading another round. By the time the bolt is far enough back to eject the empty shell, it is far enough back to grab another round while cycling it forward.

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL German production criteria, it was impossible to cheaply mass-produce K98ks. Each K98k went through an elaborate 25-hour process before it was considered perfect. The barrel was entrusted only to graduates from a special barrel-straightener’s school. It’s no wonder Germany’s unemployment rates dropped substantially after Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations (now known as the United Nations) in 1933.

The StG 44, or the Sturmgewehr 44, introduced in 1943, was the first modern assault rifle.

The painstaking measures required to ensure that every part of each rifle was manufactured to perfection also required a special army of inspectors. Each had their own stamp of approval, called an Absnahmestempel (acceptance stamps), aka Waffenamt stamp. These stamps appear on multiple K98k parts as either Weimar or Nazi eagles, depending on the manufacturer and year of manufacture. Each rifle was test fired, as opposed to just spot checking and testing a single rifle per batch. A test round was even pushed backwards through the barrel and then forensically examined for any imperfections. Only after passing this arduous testing did the rifle receive the Beschußstempel, and rifles that were deemed highly accurate were fitted with telescopic sights and became sniper rifles. Despite the elaborate manufacturing and inspection process, over 2 million German soldiers were armed with K98ks by the time German forces invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The cost of this rearmament was not cheap – over 90 billion Reichsmarks were spent between 1933 and 1937 alone.

Of course, times change, and towards the end of 1943 the German standards gave way to the greater need for mass production. Production time per rifle was reduced to as little as 14 hours. If you compare only the bolt of an early production K98k with one from a 1944 rifle, you will see that the Porsche is now compromised for production purposes and offered as a Volkswagen. The earlier bolt is beautiful and polished; the latter, simple but functional.

THE GERMANS TURNED TO alternative manufacturers later in the war – namely, their prisoners. Albert Speer implemented the supposed plenipotentiary Heinrich Himmler’s earlier request to produce arms in concentration camps. It is estimated that the camp at Buchenwald produced over 340,000 K98ks on behalf of the manufacturer Gustloff Werke. Old photographs depict prisoners at the original concentration camp of Dachau, repairing and assembling K98k rifles from components. During my visit to Dachau, there were no obvious signs of the manufacture of K98ks that once took place there. In fact, it wasn’t until after our visit that I learned Dachau prisoners had produced the means to empower their enslavers.

Due to the Germans attempting to outsmart the Treaty of Versailles’ Control Commission, deciphering the origins of a K98k can be a puzzle-solving process. Special K98ks, such as those issued to the Waffen-SS, bear unique markings. Among the 14 million K98ks produced, over 100 combinations of manufacturer code and date markings are known to exist, with new variations still being discovered.

To me and many other collectors, this is all part of the challenge of collecting historic rifles. I have been able to determine that my first K98k has a combination of Weimar Beschußstempel and Nazi eagles. The number coding, the date and the combination of eagle styles tell the rifle’s tale, and clearly identifies it as one manufactured by Sauer & Sohn in 1939. Also, part of the fun is telling a rifle’s tale post-war. K98ks were reconditioned and put to use all over the world. The Norwegian armed forces continued to use recycled K98k actions in military and civilian sniper and target rifles into the 2000s. US soldiers even encountered K98ks in Iraq. Some of them, ironically, were employed by the Israeli army, but only after stamping Israeli markings on top of the Nazi symbols.

The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, is a German recoil-operated air cooled machine gun, first tested in 1929, and introduced in 1934.

BY FAR THE greatest critique of the K98k is its rate of fire. As with any other bolt-action, soldiers could only fire as quickly as they could operate the bolt. Critics of the German’s bolt-action-armed infantry blame Hitler for losing WWII because he refused to arm his infantry with faster, semiautomatic rifles.

When WWII began, the German infantry was not unlike other armies – armed with a mix of bolt-action rifles and some form of machine gun. Germany’s strategy for implementing these weapons differed.

They emphasized the machine gun, usually an MG-34 or an MG-42 (Maschinengewehr 34/42) as their primary infantry weapon. A German squad early in the war would have four machine guns, and after 1944 six. The K98k was only intended as the backup support to the more ominous weapon and for sniping. German battle strategy did not intend for individual soldiers to engage the enemy.

In contrast, the Allies employed machine guns as support and point defense weapons. The American’s squad-based weapons, usually Browning automatic rifles, were not comparable to the German’s belt-fed or saddle-drum magazine that could fire faster (1,200 rounds per minute) and longer. This opposite strategy left the American soldiers relying on their individual firepower.
In that situation the US rifle caliber. 30 M1 Garand was the “greatest battle implement ever devised,”according to General Patton, because at a minimum it equalized the American’s firepower with that of the Nazis.

Eight millimeter (7.92 x 57mm) rounds in the quick-loading stripper clip.

Both military doctrines had advantages and disadvantages. If you arm one squad with K98ks and the other with M1s or submachine guns at less than 500 yards, the soldiers with the M1s or submachine guns have the advantage. But when you add the use of a machine gun to the mix, per the German strategy, that system takes the advantage. Even in urban combat the K98k still had benefits including its powerful ammunition that was better able to penetrate walls and other cover. The Germans recognized the importance of a submachine gun and married its advantages with a higher-caliber round towards the end of the war–creating the Sturmgewehr 44 – but mass production of these new rifles was not fully accomplished before the end of the war.

TODAY, THE MAUSER M98 action remains the precision instrument in the world of bolt-actions. Almost every centerfire bolt gun today uses a Mauser M98 action and operating principles with minor differences. Quite an astounding fact, given that Peter Paul Mauser patented the M98 bolt-action design in 1895. Not only does the action live on as the old faithful and reliable of bolt-actions,it carries on as a top-of-the line luxury action as well. For a mere $12,495, the new Mauser M98 Magnum combines the strength of the ’98 action with modernized features. The Mauser action is also appreciated by elite snipers who value the first shot, guaranteed hit over faster repeat fire.

Although German WWII K98ks are highly sought after by collectors, they can still be found as foreign capture rifles imported to the US. I found mine a couple of years ago on the shelf at a Big Five Sporting Goods store for a few hundred dollars. These war relics live on as inspiration, history and as platforms for the next leap forward.
And yes, dear husband, I see your points about the semiautomatics. They certainly hold their place in both war and hunting. Finding one that provides the powerful, first-shot, reliable tack of a Mauser action is indeed possible. For three to four times the price, I might find a one to match the power and precision of a M98. AmSJ

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

August 6th, 2019 by AmSJ Staff

For Half A Century, This Unassuming Rifle Has Made It Easy For Owners To Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY TOM CLAYCOMB

I’m convinced that the Ruger 10/22 is the most popular .22 rifle of all time. Not only is it a great little rifle right out of the box, but there are probably a million aftermarket items available that enhance its functionality even further, making it the most “trick-out-able” gun on the market.

Now, your vote may be swayed by the current AR platform rage, but that involves multiple calibers and brands. I’m talking about the most popular single gun, and the Ruger 10/22 owns that honor, hands down.

Not bad for a rifle that first hit the market in 1964.

The 10/22 became my go-to rifle pretty quickly. How could I not love it? It’s extremely dependable, accurate and, as I mentioned, you can trick it out as much as you want. But it was my quest to hunt the elusive whistle pig (which in southern Idaho, where I shoot, refers to a Townsend’s ground squirrel) that led me to desire a higher level of accuracy, which in turn led to this article.

I love hunting varmints in the spring, and on good days I’ll shoot 400 to 500 rounds at these ornery targets. But if you’re like me when shooting hundreds of rounds using a gun with a small capacity clip, you’ll get frustrated, and I mean fast. In fact, it’s easy enough to get frustrated if you don’t have two or three fully stocked 25-shot banana clips on hand.

As my experience progressed, it got to be fun to see how far out I could hit whistle pigs. I hit one a year or so ago at 197 yards, and then another at 207 yards. If they hold still and let you get three shots to zero in, you can hit them out there. Of course, the gale-like winds we encounter regularly out on the high plains here in Idaho don’t help with long-range shooting.

To determine which item helped my accuracy and how much, I shot first with the plain 10/22 and economical scope, then I added the VX2 Leupold and shot it again, added the Timney trigger and shot, and then the Brownells barrel and Boyd stock. At each step I measured groups.

I noticed that while sighting in with a new scope, I’d have one or two fliers out of a 10-round group. Then, when I listened good, I observed that there’d be a difference in the loudness or volume of the report, which meant it had a little less powder than the previous shot.

I then begin to doubt the ammo more than my shooting ability, a conclusion that was confirmed when my buddy told me that even with good ammo, match shooters weigh their bullets and kick out those with the highest and lowest weights. I also shot his tricked-out 10/22, and although I thought he might have gone a little overboard with his, it got me thinking about which steps I should take with mine to achieve a higher level of accuracy.

In other words, which items helped me and which ones did not?

TRICKY, TRICKY

Hunting whistle pigs requires a scope because they’re small targets. You may have to take head shots when they pop out of their holes, so I didn’t begin this test using open sights. In fact, with a cheap scope and Remington ammo I was already getting between .65-inch and 1.0-inch groups at 25 yards. Then I shot some Eley ammo and got my groups
down to .4 inches.

Installing a Timney trigger is very easy. Remove the one screw holding on the stock and remove the stock. Many times the pins holding in the trigger will fall out, but if not, push them out. Install the trigger, replace the pins and remount the stock. That’s it.

The first thing I did was install a Leupold VX2 4-12 AO CDS scope that I’d had painted in the company’s Custom Shop to match my new Boyd stock. Now I could really focus in and I was able to get my shooting down to groups of .6 inches with the Remington ammo and .4 with the Eley.

My original trigger had a pull of 5.5 pounds but it had a rough spot and some drag, which hurt my accuracy. So after adding the scope I installed a Timney trigger with a 2¾-pound pull. This lighter setting aided my squeeze immensely.

Installing a Timney 10/22 trigger was super simple. In fact, my son-in-law located a YouTube video that showed everything we needed to do, so we did the first one together. The video said to remove the stock and pull the pins. Well, we removed the stock and two pins fell out, so I looked at him and said, “I assume those are the two pins we’re supposed to take out.” They had been held in place by the stock, so the process couldn’t have been simpler.

Despite the wind being pretty bad, with the new scope and trigger I was able to shoot groups between .5 inches and 1.0 inch using Remington ammo, and with the Eley I was consistently getting .5-inch groups. I now felt as if I had a good shooting rifle.

The next step was to put on a Brownells barrel and a Boyd Stock. Removing the barrel was also pretty simple. First you remove the stock, and then there are two Allen bolts holding a block that pins in the barrel. Remove them. My barrel was tight, so I ran home and used a wooden dowel rod to tap it off. To mount it again, just reverse the
order of steps. Then I slid on the Boyd stock and tightened it down with the one screw. What a sweet-looking rifle!

The following day I had to teach some seminars at Sportsman’s Warehouse, but as soon as I was done I took off for the plains. Now, I didn’t measure it, but I’ll estimate that the wind was blowing around 15 miles per hour. The next day there was a little less, probably 8 to 10 mph, so that helped. But with my new, tricked-out 10/22, I was able to achieve .4- to .6-inch groups with the Remington ammo, and .2- to .3-inch groups with the Eley. I now had a shooter.

If you believe different brands of ammo vary in your bigger caliber rifles (and I do), the variance is even more so with a .22. So on the final day, just for the sake of this article, I shot four brands. Here were the best groups that I obtained with each brand.

Federal Target Grade Performance: 1.3-inch group

Winchester M22: .9-inch group

Remington Golden Bullet: .4-inch group

Eley Force: .2-inch group
TEST PARAMETERS:

Tests were performed at 25 yards off a stable bench with Altus shooting bags;

Distances were set using a Leupold RS-1200iTBR/W Digital Laser Rangefinder;

Five-shot groups were fired;

Shooting was done out on the prairie, so wind was a factor. For example, using Eley ammo indoors, I believe I could have obtained .1-inch groups.

The Leupold Custom Shop matched the pattern of this Boyd stock.

SUMMARY:

Here is how I would rank (from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most important) which item most affected and/or improved accuracy besides choice of ammunition:

1. Scope You must be able to pinpoint one spot or you just aren’t going to be accurate.

2. Trigger If you can’t get a good squeeze, you just aren’t going to be able to tighten up your groups.

3. Boyd stock My stock is super comfortable and I feel like I have a good grasp of my rifle. Does that really help the accuracy? I think it does, if only minutely. Your mind will not drift off thinking how awkward or uncomfortable it is to hold. And although it is not a factor on a .22, Boyd claims that they help reduce recoil on larger caliber rifles.

4. Bull barrel I think this add-on would play a bigger factor on hot days when you’re pouring out the ammo. A lighter barrel would get warm.

The famed Ruger 10/22 was already a great little rifle before author Tom Claycomb tricked it out using parts shown here.

5. Cool factor If you want to have a rifle that takes people’s breath away, a scope out of the Leupold Custom Shop and a Boyd stock will surely help. Tell Leupold what type of stock you’re buying and they’ll paint your scope to match it. What’s cooler than that? In addition, both companies have options too numerous to mention. 

Here’s a different take on whether getting a Ruger 10/22 is worth it by Youtuber GunGuyTV.

AmSJ

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

March 19th, 2019 by AmSJ Staff

Magpul Expands Into Traditional Rifle Stock Offerings, Including A Model For The Remington 700

REVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD SHARRER

Magpul Industries has long been known for manufacturing superior rifle (and now pistol) magazines, as well as improved stocks for ARs. The company has now expanded into more traditional rifle stocks and is taking them to new levels.

I was recently sent a Magpul “Hunter” stock for the Remington 700 series rifles to test. Now, admittedly, I’m not much of a hunter. I choose to spend my shooting time a bit more tactically, but with that said, I really do like this stock.

The version I received was in basic black, but other available colors include flat dark earth, stealth gray and olive drab green. This stock features reinforced polymer construction, and includes such unique features as a spacer adjustable length of pull with a range of adjustment from 13 to 15 inches in half-inch increments. That is a wonderful addition to any stock, in my opinion.
I think of myself as an average-sized guy (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), but I’ve yet to find a stock that fits me out of the box. The ability to simply add or remove spacers to get the gun to fit me the way I like it is an excellent improvement over a “standard” stock.

Another unique addition is the ability to adjust the height of the cheek piece.
A high cheek riser kit is available that enables users to modify the height of the stock comb and allow a proper cheek weld behind a scope.
Most “hunter” stocks seem to be set for iron sight use, and adding even a low mounted scope forces the shooter to compromise a good cheek weld to use the scope.
This leads to less accuracy and a slower shot, as the shooter has to find the eye box behind the scope. Not with this set-up. Simply mount the gun to your shoulder, get a solid cheek weld and the crosshairs are right in front of your eye. Nice!
The stock comes out of the box it set up to use both the OEM bottom metal and the blind magazine standard on the Remington 700 series rifles. There is, however, an option to replace that with detachable AICS-pattern magazines. A section of M-LOK compatible slots in the forend make attaching accessories easy and fast. This is a “drop-in” product. No fitting or inletting is required.

The Magpul Hunter stock makes an excellent after-market addition to a Remington 700 short-action series rifle.

Here’s what others are saying bout the Magpul Hunter 700 stock from Reddit and AR15 Forum:

heathenyak: picked up an older 700 bdl the other day in .338 win mag because why not. The action is smooth as glass. I’ll be taking it out to the range next weekend or the following

nomadicbohunk: It shoots sub moa no problem. We’re actually pretty impressed with it. The only work I’ve done to it was to stiffen the stock and bed it. He wishes he’d have bought a few of them.

tomj762: Yeah I thought it was the Remington 770 that gets a lot of hate. The 700 gets accreditation for being a rifle you can buy for under $1,000 and get out of the box 1,000 yard precision.

Chowley_1: Or spend $650 for a Tikka and have a vastly superior rifle.

wags_01: Bolt gun mags aren’t cheap. AICS .308 mags run ~$70 too.

Isenwod: Considering it’s been the platform for every military sniper rifle since the 70s, I would say not.

morehousemusicplease: grip angle is excessive for my liking price isnt bad at 260 which puts it in line with the b&c.

The_Eternal_Badger: Admittedly no one has really handled or used the Magpul stock yet, but if it’s up to their current standards I can’t see how it wouldn’t be a better deal with equal or better performance out of the box.

THellURider: Honestly – I’ve wondered why they hadn’t released this many years ago. And then I remember that they’re more a marketing and design company than a manufacturer of anything with more than 1 moving part.

Hunting rifle: Going to be tough to beat a B&C Alaskan (I or II) or if you’re going to go spendy, McMillan Edge.

KC45: I’ve never been much of an aftermarket stock guy. I bet for 99% of shooters here a decent factory stock will do just as well and the money they save would be better spent getting some good precision shooting training/instructions and on ammo (or components). It’s the indian…not the arrow

JohnBurns: Mid-priced platform for bench shooting? Sure. That style of hunting, that guy’s set up is all wrong. Ultra light hunters want small, light, compact rifles with small, light scopes. Leupold VX6 2.5-10, McMillan Edge, on a light profile 260 rem – yes.

Lost_River: Great video quality. However it pretty much showed nothing in regards to technical information.

Bubbatheredneck: What does it offer vs the AICS? And no mountain hunter is gonna lug that beast around very long if it is as heavy as it looks..

Dash_ISpy: I like my Magpul 870 stock. Id probably get one of these as well. I wonder if itll be easier to integrate a mag. Im not excited to spend $300 extra just for a mag.

bulldog1967: it doesn’t do anything my Tikka T3 in .270 WSM doesn’t do.

Foxtrot08: That set up will be my next rifle. My current rifle is an older M700 long action, in 300WM on a B&C Alaskan II stock. Barrel has been blue printed, and bolt has been fitted. Not 100% light weight, but I haven’t needed it yet, as I only do day hunts on the western slope of Colorado.

LuvBUSHmaster: My .300 WinMag 700 BDL could use some MAGpul love but I need specs and a Long Action Model.

RePp: I don’t need another stock but for that price it will be very hard to beat. Now those magazines I will buy a shitload of. A polymer AICS mag like that will be a huge hit.

If you are looking to upgrade your Remington 700 stock, be that of your favorite deer rifle in .308 Win, a suppressed 700 SD in 300 Blackout or any other short- or long-action 700, you should give this option a good long look. ASJ

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

October 17th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

[su_heading size=”30″]The Prentis Henry Rifle No. 19 Witnessed Generational Strife[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANK JARDIM

One tangible connection to the human cost of the Civil War can be found in the Frazier History Museum in Louisville,  Ky., in the form of a beautifully engraved Henry repeating rifle, serial number 19. The original owner was Connecticut native George Dennison Prentis, who was the editor of the Louisville Journal from 1830 to 1860 and a staunch abolitionist. After succession, he was an outspoken advocate of the Union even though his newspaper was absorbed by the pro-Confederate Louisville Morning Courier. On July 14, 1862, he wrote a report for the newspaper that praised the Henry.

This particular Henry rifle, with the serial number 19, originally belonged to George Dennison Prentis, then given to his son Clarence. It can now be found at the Frazier History museum in Louisville, Ky.

This particular Henry rifle, with the serial number 19, originally belonged to George Dennison Prentis, then given to his son Clarence. It can now be found at the Frazier History museum in Louisville, Ky.

“It behooves every loyal citizen to prepare himself upon his own responsibility with the best weapon of defense that can be obtained. And certainly the simplest, surest and most effective weapon that we know of, the weapon that can be used with the most tremendous results in case of an outbreak or invasion, is one that we have mentioned recently upon two or three occasions, the newly invented rifle of Henry.”

It is very likely that his Henry was a gift from the manufacturer. The Connecticut-based New Haven Arms Company hoped to make the Henry the standard-issue rifle of the Union Army and sought favorable endorsements in hopes of securing government contracts. As a matter of fact, a similar engraved rifle was presented to President Abraham Lincoln.

Ultimately, 1,731 Henry rifles were sold to the US Government for a $63,943 (about $50 each). Far more (approximately 10,000) were bought by individuals and state regiments like the 66th and 7th Illinois and the 97th Indiana. The rifles were highly prized on the battlefield. Confederates described the Henry as “that darn Yankee rifle that they load on Sunday and shoot all week.”

Over a century after being hidden by Confederates at the end of the Civil War, this rifle was found in a Memphis, Tenn., basement.

THE PROGENITOR of the Winchester repeaters, the Henry was a technological marvel in its time. It fired a .44-caliber, self-contained, metallic, rim-fire primed cartridge. The magazine held 15 shots, and one more could be loaded in the chamber, giving it more firepower than any other rifle on the battlefield. It was accurate by the standards of the day too, equipped as it was with a graduated ladder rear sight. Army tests showed it could keep 100 percent of its shots inside a 25-inch circle at 500 yards and a 48-inch circle at 1,000. Bullet weights were either 200 or 216 grains over 26 to 28 grains of black powder, giving it a muzzle velocity of 1,125 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 568 foot pounds. Ballistically it was between today’s .44 Special and .44-40 WCF of the same bullet weight, which leads me to wonder how much energy it had left at 200 yards, much less either of the Army test ranges. Compared to the standard rifled musket of the era, the .44 Henry was a pipsqueak, and that insured it would never be selected for general issue to troops. However, at ranges of less than 100 yards the Henry’s accuracy and power were perfectly adequate, and its speed and firepower proved devastating to the enemy in  close combat.

THE HISTORY OF GEORGE PRENTIS’S Henry rifle is not a happy one. Though he supported the Union, his two sons, William Courtland and Clarence J., believed in the merits of the Confederate cause and actually fought for the South. William took his father’s rifle to war and died leading his troops in the Battle of Augusta, Ky., on September 18, 1862. The rifle and the sad news made their way back home to George. The Henry left his home again, for the last time, when his remaining son joined the Confederate cause. Reaching the rank of colonel, Clarence survived the war and his father pleaded that he be shown clemency. The rifle never came home. Hidden by Confederate soldiers, it was rediscovered a century later in a Memphis, Tenn. basement. ASJ

The Henry repeating rifle holds a longstanding legacy for its accuracy and being a technological marvel in its time.The Henry repeating rifle holds a longstanding legacy for its accuracy and being a technological marvel in its time.

Posted in History Tagged with: , , ,

July 6th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

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.
Well, look no further, the Austrian Steyer AUG fits that need.

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.

Steyr AUG

Steyr AUG

Prices accurate at time of writing

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 we’re Die Hard fans.

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.

AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR
AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR

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.

AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15
AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15

Table of Contents

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My AUG

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.

Best Magazine
Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

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.

AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG
AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG

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.

Not much room for accessories...
Not much room for accessories…

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.

Ergonomics

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.

Base Ergonomics

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.

AUG ADS
Aiming down the AUG optical sight

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.

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Reloading

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.

Reloading the AUG isn’t the most natural of movements…but you can train into it

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.

Controls

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.

AUG Safety
Square cross bolt safety located back and above of the trigger

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.

Live Fire

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?

AUG ADS Side
AUG cheek weld is easy to aquire

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.

Uses

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.

AUG ADS Rear
Careful of that ejection port, lefties beware of righthanded rifles!

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.)

Upgrades

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.

AUG taking a nap on a tree
AUG taking a nap on a tree after a long day at the range

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

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.

Ergonomics 3/5

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.

Accuracy 4/5

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.

Accessories and Upgrades 2/5

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.

Looks 5/5

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.

Bang for Your Buck Value 2/5

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.

Overall 3.5/5

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!

The post Steyr AUG [Hands-On Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

May 31st, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

You’ve probably heard that the US military is replacing the M16/M4 and looking into new rifles and ammo.  (US Army and Marine Corp) Wondering why they’re looking into 6.5 Creedmoor in particular? No, its not because the Russians are out gunning us. Here’s the scoop.

There are a couple things you should know about 6.5 Creedmoor and today, we’ll put this round into sharper focus for you.  So let’s look at it in more detail so that you’ll see why it works for the military and why it could work for you.

Creedmoor Kicks Ass at Long Range

6.5mm Creedmore Cartridge
6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge

Right off the bat, the US Special Operations Command understood all the good things about this cartridge as an alternative to its existing ammo.
The cartridge was introduced in 2008 as one of the first and best cartridges for precision long range shooting.

At the time, there weren’t a lot of civilians shooting long range, but in recent years, the company has seen demand grow in the hunting industry, and grow as manufacturers continue to put out more affordable long range rifles.
Today, it is the go-to cartridge for many hunters and competitive shooters.

Long Distance Shooters
Long Distance Shooters Love Creedmoor

Precision long range shooting skill a learned trait which is an advantage to have in combat and the military seems to be catching onto Creedmoor’s awesome reputation and populatiry for shooting close and tight precision groups at 500 yards or more.

Having a bigger bullet means you’ll do bigger damage to your target, whether your target is a tango or a blood thirsty wild hog.  

Our brothers in arms go through enough shit.  The last thing they need is hellish recoil.
If there’s one thing you won’t get with 6.5 Creedmoor, is its crazy blowback.

US Military in Desert
These guys don’t need to be dealing with blowback.

6.5 Creedmoor is specially designed for low recoil rounds without compromising pinpoint accuracy.
Did you also know that it can go subsonic after 1,300 yards?

When it comes to tactical applications, this cartridge packs a serious wallop

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQHVgZq_6nk?start=90]

6.5 Creedmoor vs.  .308 Winchester

There are some long range groups think that there aren’t any real differences between 6.5 Creedmoor and the long-established .308 Win.
But those people would be ill-informed.
The truth is, they are very similar, however there are some things in which they differ.

First there is the huge gap between the two when it comes to ballistics.  6.5 Creedmoor loads can reach a thousand yards with less than three hundred inches of drop with proper windage.  
This is true of just about any ammo, particularly Hornady 178 grain HPBT, that is used with a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.  
The .308 Win doesn’t compare to that kind of numbers.

6.5 Creedmore and .308 Winchester Cartridges Compared
The Cartridges Compared

Another area in which 6.5 Creedmoor often bests .308 Win is in its accessibility.  
A lot of .308 ammo is out of stock when you visit
the major online ammo dealers.
But if you run a search for Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 gr AMAX, they’re everywhere.

And thats the other thing that is very good news for the military and all of us: there are plenty of dealers – large and small – from which they could order 6.5 ammo in bulk.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor
Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor

Another argument that comes up is about barrel longevity, claiming that the 6.5 Creedmoor only last for 2-3,000 rounds whereas the .308 Win will be good for as many as 10,000 rounds.

This is simply bogus since it all depends on whether you’re shooting 1 MOA.
Theres just no way that the .308 could be reaching that mark at 10,000.

If you’re using it with a precision rifle or for seasonal deer shooting, you’re going to go long ways with your 6.5 Creedmoor, no if, and, or buts..about it, except the butt you put a bullet in.

And thats another thing.  Combat isn’t always what it looks like in movies and on TV.  For those that have served can tell you that there are many days where you don’t see much action and, even when you do, its not necessarily a rapid fire situation.
But Murphy’s law does exist when the shit hits the fan.

If you’re an active duty sniper (Marksman Observer), you’re gonna get a whole lot more life outta your 6.5 Creedmoor than you would with the .308.

Solving the Problem
What’s really crazy about the 6.5 versus .308 argument is the simple fact that 6.5 Creedmoor was specifically conceived to be a cartridge that would be superior to the wildcat cartridges of the day.
As the story goes at the Civilian Marksmanship Program 2007 National Matches at Camp Perry, Hornady engineer Dave Emary decided to remedy what he saw as a problem among competitive shooters.

Dave Emary
The Man Himself

As Emary saw it, people were trying to push their cartridges to the limit, attempting to defy the laws of physics by brainstorming methods by which to get their cartridges to perform at levels that weren’t made to.  Problems would then crop up as a result of these jeri-rigging formulas.

In Emary’s own words, “People were having a lot of problems with functioning the 6mms.  They were running these things at very high pressures to try to get the performance they need to compete.”
“Our solution was to go to a 6.5, firing a lot higher BC bullet, and not have to push it as hard to get what they wanted.”

Dave Emary in the Hornady Workshop
Dave Emary in the Hornady Workshop

Emary and his team solved this problem by taking existing .264 cartridges and altering the specs, giving the cartridge the capacity for long-ogive, high-ballistic rounds.
Lo and behold the 6.5 was born, a short-action rifle cartridge capable of insane performance.

Make Your Hunting Experience a Good One

Like I said earlier, this cartridge isn’t just a slam dunk for the military should they end up choosing it over the others they’ve been testing.
Its also a damn good option for almost any civilian hunter or gun enthusiast.

If you didn’t hear the news: USSOCOM has adopted the 6.5 CM as their new Precision Rifle cartridge. It was a close call between the 260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor, but the 6.5 CM won the day due to the military’s belief that the 6.5 CM has more room for innovation for the future.

Many target shooters have taken to the Ruger Precision Rifleand my targets gets shredded to pieces.  The results are always incredible.  At long range, many are saying the the CM leave 2.8 inches at five hundred yards.

Ruger Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rifle

But the advantages for game hunters is where this one really shines.  Its got a sick muzzle velocity due to its extra powder space and its able to accommodate a wealth of different medium-burning rifle powders.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t automatically think of long-range shooting when it comes to big game.  After all, ethical hunting requires limiting your range to as short as possible to ensure a clean kill. 

That being said, it should also stand to reason that if 6.5 Creedmoor can take out a target at 500 yards, its going to take care of business at 100 yards with no problem.

Long Range Hunting
If you can kill it from this far away, then you can kill it from just about anywhere in between.

From personal experience, I’ve seen how this can perform in a close quarters situations and I was every bit as impressed as I was when I hunted with the .308.
The round went right where I wanted it to and I bagged a deer without a rechamber.  Like I said: clean humane kill.

Why 6.5 Creedmoor is Awesome for Target Shooting

Better grouping and more affordable ammo makes the 6.5 Creedmoor a no-brainer for those who camp out a lot at the firing range.

Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor
Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor

When we take into account the rising cost of ammo in the last few years and the scrutiny that many firearm and ammo companies have faced, 6.5 ammo maintains a reasonable price point and remains readily available.

Bulk Ammo Storage
And cheaper when you buy in bulk. so stock up.

And when it comes to high-end ballistics, you can’t beat these suckers.  The BC numbers on these bad boys are awe-inspiring (approximately .610 G1 at 140 grain).  If you’re looking to impress, you really can’t go wrong with the 6.5’s remarkable 1,400 fps at 1,000 yards(!).

Best 6.5 CM Ammo

If you want the very best from this cartridge, you’ll have to get into reloading. You can start with our Beginner’s Guide To Reloading But if you’re not into that, then you’ll need something you can pick up at the store.

Training/Plinking

If you’re on the range to have fun, you don’t want to spend a fortune. But this also isn’t the kind of caliber that you buy cheap, crappy ammo for – you’ll want something that shoots consistent and for a fair price.

Sellier & Bellot is what you’re looking for, from 9mm to 6.5CM they make a good product for a good price.

Sellier & Bellot 6.5 Creedmoor 140g FMJBT - 20 Rounds

Sellier & Bellot 6.5 Creedmoor 140g FMJBT – 20 Rounds

Match Grade Long-Range Target

Of course, once you’re ready to really stretch your legs and see what this bad boy can do – it’s time to get out the good stuff!

Match grade ammo isn’t cheap, but it is amazing. Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Extremely Low Drag match bullet is outstanding for factory ammo. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve been getting half-MOA with this ammo.

Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 120gn ELD Match - 20 Rounds

Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 147gn ELD Match – 20 Rounds

Prices accurate at time of writing

Hunting

When it comes to hunting ammo, you want great ammo. Not only for accuracy but also with a bullet that will expand and do a lot of damage to your target to ensure a clean, humane kill.

Hornady with their Super Shock Tip bullets gives that every time. A polymer tip gives you the ballistics of FMJ with the expansion and killing power of a hollow-point.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 129 gr SST Polymer Tip - 20 Rounds

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 129 gr SST Polymer Tip – 20 Rounds

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best 6.5 CM Rifles

A cool cartridge is only as good as the weapon that throws it, just like a weapon that throws it is only as good as what it throws.

Hunting Rifle

For a budget hunting rifle, it’s hard to beat the Savage Arms 12 FV – not only is this a solid rifle out of the box, but it is at a price that is hard to beat. I commonly see this is the $370-$410 range. 

Savage Arms 12 FV

Savage Arms 12 FV

Prices accurate at time of writing

Long-Range Precision Target Rifle

I already said it, but when it comes to long-range target shooting the Ruger Precision Rifle is just too good to beat. For the price, the options, the aftermarket, and the out-of-the-box quality – you want this rifle.

Ruger Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rifle

Honorable Mention Rifle

A dedicated rifle for every role is the dream for many of us, but if you don’t have the room in your safe (or your budget) for that then you might want to consider a middle of the road do-it-all rifle.

The Tikka T3x is that rifle. Rugged, lightweight, smooth as butter action and outstanding trigger – a Tikka T3x is my go-to hunting rifle.

On the precision side, Tikka offers a 1 MOA from the factory guarantee and lives up to it!

Best Scopes for 6.5 CM Rifles

Once you have your ammo and rifle picked out,  you’ll want to invest in a quality scope.  Depending on what role your 6.5 Creedmoor will be filling you might want a couple of scopes!

For hunting, you’ll generally want something a little lower magnification, like this Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x.

Crossfire II 2-7x32 by Vortex

Crossfire II 2-7×32 by Vortex

But if you’re looking to do some real precision shooting, really put this cartridge to the test, then you’ll need something with a LOT more magnification: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x fills the bill!

Highest Magnification
Vortex Golden Eagle HD 15-60x52

Vortex Golden Eagle HD 15-60×52

Other Accessories

Another important thing to keep in mind when purchasing any cartridge is maintenance.  If you’re going to be participating in extended shooting sessions, you should always bring along the proper gear for cleaning your rifle and cartridge.  Maintenance will help you to sustain that pinpoint precision you’re hoping for.

I always take my J Dewey Rods’ Complete Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Kit with me when I know I’m gonna spend all day at the range or out in the field.  The 6.5 kit costs around $30 and includes everything I need for proper upkeep.

J Dewey Rods

J Dewey Rods’ Complete Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

You get a BAC Chamber Kit, a B-6.5 Bore brush, an M-22 Bore mop, a CH-308 Chamber brush and a 100 count of P-221 1 ½” Round Patches.

Closing Thoughts

So what’s the bottom line? Quite simply, 6.5 Creedmoor is a formidable cartridge for tactical and target shooting applications alike.  

At the end of the day, the battle between 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester will wage on, but I think it’s clear that 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t going anywhere.

If anything, it’s only going to continue to grow in popularity as more and more long range shooters embrace it.  

What about you! Did you get the 6.5 Creedmoor? Take any game this year with it? Do you agree with the military adopting it? Let us know in the comments!

Reviews by Megan Kriss, revised by ASJ Staff

Posted in Ammo Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 20th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

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…

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

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.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Table of Contents

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Who Is It For?

  • Budget conscious buyers who want something that works and can overlook some details like perfect finishing and dead-on accuracy
  • Someone who wants a lot of options in terms of barrel length and handguard
  • People who can wait a while for something to go into stock or ship

Why Is It So Cheap?

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.

Fit, Feel, & Finish

PSA has their Freedom line which is their most affordable and is pretty much mil-spec (meets military specifications).

PSA 16" Freedom Rifle

PSA 16″ Freedom Rifle

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Barrels & Gas Systems

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.

PSA 16" Mid-Length Uppers

PSA 16″ Mid-Length Uppers

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

 PSA 16" Nitride with FSB
PSA 16″ Nitride with FSB

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.

PSA Pinned FSB
PSA Pinned FSB

The next upper would be my favorite overall setup.  16″ mid-length with a 13.5″ M-LOK free-floating barrel and Nitride barrel.

PSA 16" Nitride Free Floating
PSA 16″ Nitride Free Floating

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.

PSA FSB vs Free-Floating
PSA FSB vs Free-Floating

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.

PSA .223 Wylde 18"
PSA .223 Wylde 18″

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.

Barrels

PSA seems to have three tiers of barrels.

  1. Premium: chrome-lined or CHF (cold hammer forged) that are made by FN
  2. Standard: Nitride, Melonite, and stainless barrels
  3. Basic: phosphate coated

The two 5.56 uppers I received were Nitride coated instead of regular phosphate…while the Wylde was stainless steel.

PSA Barrel Coatings
PSA Barrel Coatings

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…

Straight Gas Tube
Straight Gas Tube

And at least 35 in-lb of torque on the gas block with some sort of weird spill on the 5.56.

PSA 5.56 Gas Block Torque
PSA 5.56 Gas Block Torque

Upper Receivers

There’s not too much to say here…everything is where it’s supposed to be.

PSA Upper Receivers
PSA Upper Receivers
  • Ejection port door works
  • Forward assist works
  • Charging handle feels mil-spec and works
  • T-Markings present and easy to read
  • Evenly phosphate coated

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.

Small Machining Marks on Upper Receivers
Small Machining Marks on Upper Receivers

Handguards

The Magpul mid-length polymer handguard is what it is.  A great update to the mil-spec plastic handguard that can’t attach anything.

PSA 5.56 Uppers
PSA 5.56 Uppers

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.

PSA Handguard Misalignment
PSA Handguard Misalignment

The more “premium” Wylde upper was properly aligned and colored.

BCG + Charging Handles

As mil-spec as they come.  Everything is as it should be and the gas-keys are properly staked.

PSA BCGs Disassembled
PSA BCGs Disassembled

The 5.56 uppers had phosphate coated BCGs (mil-spec) while the Wylde had a Nitride coated one.

PSA Phosphate & Nitride BCGs
PSA Phosphate & Nitride BCGs

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.

PSA Bolts
PSA Bolts (Bottom is Wylde)

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.

PSA Charging Handles
PSA Charging Handles

Since I’ve gone with aftermarket charging handles…I cannot go back (Best AR-15 Charging Handles).

Lower

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!

PSA Lower
PSA Lower

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.

How Does It Shoot?

What really matters…right?

PSA 5.56 Testing
PSA 5.56 Testing

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.

PSA Break-In
PSA Break-In

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.

PSA 5.56 Uppers
PSA 5.56 Uppers

But still made me realize how spoiled I’ve been with adjustable gas-blocks and compensators (Best AR-15 Upgrades).

Adjustable Gas Block & Compensator
Adjustable Gas Block & Compensator

One thing…

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).

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/6anh6ves58.jsonp https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

Compatibility

The uppers worked flawlessly after the initial break-in on the following lowers:

  • Aero Precision (x2)
  • Colt
  • Anderson
  • Daniel Defense

While the lower worked with the following uppers:

  • Aero Precision (x2)
  • Colt
  • Daniel Defense

Accuracy

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.

PSA 5.56 Testing Rounds
PSA 5.56 Testing Rounds

I used my standard testing platform for all my AR-15 stuff…

Testing PSA FSB
Testing PSA FSB

Targets were placed at 100 yards and I shot at a pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds.  10 shots each group.

PSA FSB Accuracy
PSA FSB Accuracy

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.

PSA Free Floating Accuracy
PSA Free Floating Accuracy

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?

PSA .223 Wylde 18"
PSA .223 Wylde 18″

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).

PSA Breakin Procedure
PSA Breakin Procedure

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…

PSA .223 Wylde Testing
PSA .223 Wylde Testing

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.

PSA .223 Wylde Accuracy
PSA .223 Wylde Accuracy

Disappointing…

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).

Recommended Models

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.

Complete Rifles

No fuss of building anything…out of the box ready to go.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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!

Uppers

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:

PSA 16" Mid-Length Uppers

PSA 16″ Mid-Length Uppers

Prices accurate at time of writing

Remember to choose the options with BCG (bolt carrier group), CH (charging handle), and Magpul MBUS (flip backup sights) if you need them.

Lowers

Looking at complete lowers?  I prefer the Magpul editions…mil-spec buttstocks and pistol grips are not great.

PSA Complete AR-15 Lowers

PSA Complete AR-15 Lowers

Prices accurate at time of writing

Rifle Kits

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.

PSA 16" Rifle Kits

PSA 16″ Rifle Kits

Prices accurate at time of writing

And be sure to get a stripped lower since the kit will contain everything except that.

PSA Stripped Lower

PSA Stripped Lower

Prices accurate at time of writing

Follow our How to Build an AR-15 Lower guide to put it all together.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

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.

Accuracy: 3/5

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.

Ergonomics: 4.5/5

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.

Looks: 4/5

Pretty average here but could use more consistency in color.

Customization: 5/5

It’s an AR-15 with M-Lok so the sky’s the limit.  Check out my list of the Best AR-15 Upgrades & Best AR-15 Optics if you need help.

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

Conclusion

The online legends are true.

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

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.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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?

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