May 17th, 2018 by asjstaff

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.

PacRim Canceling the Apocalypse
You heard the man, the apocalypse is on hold…for now…

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.

Table of Contents

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The Essentials to Have on Hand

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.

Golden Desert Eagles
This is NOT SHTF Gear!

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.  

Another good choice is the .45 ACP, as it’s an even more powerful cartridge that’s also commonly used.  You can see our list of recommendations for good .45 ACP pistols and 9mm pistols.  

What about Rifles?

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.

Pew Pew Upgraded AR-15s
Pew Pew Upgraded AR-15s

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.

Best Semi-Auto Precision Rifle
Aero Precision M5E1 .308

Aero Precision M5E1 .308

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle

Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle

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.

Get a Compact Backup Handgun

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.  

Glock 42

There are a number of excellent .380 ACPs on the market, but I prefer the Glock 42.

Most Reliable .380
Glock 42

Glock 42

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 thingAmmo 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.

Best .380 Defensive Round
Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain 380 ACP

Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain 380 ACP

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38

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.

Keep in Mind When Choosing a Pocket 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.

Storing Your Ammo Safely

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.

Silica Gel Packets

Silica Gel Packets

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?

Readers’ Ratings

5/5 (7)

Your Rating?

Get a Good First Aid Kit

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.

Grizzly Series First Aid Kit

Grizzly Series First Aid Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Echo-Sigma Emergency Systems Trauma Kit

Echo-Sigma Emergency Systems Trauma Kit

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.

Heavy Metal Equipment

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.

Ka-Bar 7" Knife

Ka-Bar 7″ 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.

Ontario Knife Company USN-1 Survival Knife

Ontario Knife Company USN-1 Survival Knife

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.

Gun Equipment for Your SHTF Cache

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.

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

M-Pro 7 Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

CLP Break-Free Wipes

CLP Break-Free Wipes

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.

Food, Water, and Air

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.

Better Than a LifeStraw
Sawyer Gravity Flow Water Filter

Sawyer Gravity Flow Water Filter

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

3M Respirator

3M Respirator

Prices accurate at time of writing

Other Essentials to Have on Hand

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.

Trekking King Tactical Backpack

Trekking King Tactical Backpack

Prices accurate at time of writing

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:

  • Protecting your face from UV rays, dust, and sand
  • An arm sling, emergency bandage, or tourniquet
  • A headscarf
  • An improvised bag, or “hobo sack”
Condor Outdoor Shemagh

Condor Outdoor Shemagh

Surviving Whatever Is Thrown at You

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!

The post Essential SHTF Gear: When The World (Almost) Ends appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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

May 8th, 2018 by asjstaff

How many cop or detective movies have you watched where the hero had a .38 revolver?  

Damn near all of them, right?

That’s because the .38 revolver is a ridiculously reliable gun.  You won’t be winning any long distance sharpshooting challenges with it, but you will feel safe carrying one.  Just look how confident those old-timey cops and private dicks were.

Why a .38?  

First off, let’s talk about what makes the .38 caliber and a revolver worth carrying.  Some people might consider the .38 and even the .38+p ammo to be outdated.  

The .38 ammo is pretty much the same size as a 9mm.  Where it IS different is the actual weight: a .38 is heavier than a 9mm.

Both have their benefits.  The .38 is a little slower-moving but has more mass.  The 9mm has more punch to it and travels faster.

Caliber Comparison
The .38 Special looks like a longer version of the 9mm.

One of the main reasons you’d want to carry a .38 this because it predominantly comes as a revolver.  Revolvers, as we know, are very reliable. There are less moving parts and there’s less to go wrong.  That’s why a lot of the police and other agencies used it in great quantities before the advent of reliable semi-automatic pistols.

Agencies eventually moved to the more common use of semi-automatic pistols but it wasn’t necessarily because of a lack of confidence in the caliber, it was more because of the greater number of rounds in each gun that semi-autos provide.  

If you have the option of carrying five rounds vs 15 rounds, there’s little choice as to which one is better to have in a gunfight.

How Does a .38 Revolver Compare to Other Concealed Carry Guns?  

Carrying a Ruger LCR .38 SPL Revolver in an Alien Gear Holster

As mentioned before, the revolvers carry less ammo and are little slower to reload unless you practice a lot, but you need to compare reliability versus additional ammo.  At close range, how many rounds will you really get off before you either neutralize the target or they runoff?  

Something else to sway you one way or the other might be the weight of the trigger.  Most of the dual action only revolvers are about 12 pounds versus most semi-auto pistols are around the 5-pound range.  If you have weaker hand strength, this can be a big problem

1. Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips

Ruger LCR Revolver

Ruger LCR Revolver

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Ruger LCR comes in a lot of calibers, .38 just happens to be one.  What you get with the LCR internal hammer, alloy frame revolver is is an ultra-lightweight, reliable carry gun.  The internal hammer helps remove the possibility of any snags as you’re drawing it from your holster.

2. Taurus Model 85

The Model 85 is one of the most popular guns in the Taurus fleet.  What makes it the popular kid in class is the +P capability.  It’s light and accurate—as accurate as a short barrel revolver can be.  

Many of the Taurus guns have an internal lock.  Using the provided key, you can immobilize the gun.  This is a great feature for those of you with kids in the house

3. Charter Arms Undercover Lite Standard

Charter Arms Undercover Lite Standard

Charter Arms Undercover Lite Standard

Prices accurate at time of writing

There are a couple features of the Charter Arms Undercover Lite that are appealing.  

The first is the weight.  This thing is feather light at about 12oz.  You can carry it all day and not know it’s there.  

The other feature you might like is the longer grip.  You’ll be able to get your whole hand on the handle.  Some revolvers have small handles and aren’t easy to deal with the recoil like this Charter Arms .38 will.

4. Colt Detective Special

Ahhh, the Colt Detective Special…

This is the gun you see in most of the older movies from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.  You’ll find a lot of people who modded their Colt .38 Special to fit their needs. Some cut the barrel, others got rid of the squared off butt of the grip, some cut the trigger guard, or whatever they needed.

The newer variants of the Colt Detective Special are a lot more in tune with the others on the market, but stay true to the name.  Really, the main things that changed over the years were materials and build quality. The same basic premise design is still there.  

They shortened the barrel at the manufacturer so you didn’t have to chop it off like they did in the 20s and 30s. This one you will need to find used because they stopped making them about 1995, but they are a great little gun.  If you want something similar but current, you can look into the Colt Cobra.  

Colt Cobra

Colt Cobra

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. Rossi 352

Rossi 352

Rossi 352

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 352 from Rossi is on the budget side of the price grid, but don’t let that fool you; it keeps up with the other models just fine.  It has a stainless finish and a contoured rubber grip to help with managing the recoil.  It can handle 5 rounds of +P ammo, too.

Rossi makes about 50 different variations of revolvers, so if you 352 isn’t your cup of tea, there should be one to fit your needs.

6. Smith & Wesson M&P 340

Smith & Wesson M&P 340

Smith & Wesson M&P 340

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Smith & Wesson M&P 340 is a great option for a carry gun.  They are lightweight and have an internal hammer making them ideal for a carry gun.  Because they have an internal hammer, they are dual action only.  They come with night sights, but if you want one, you can get the model with the Crimson Trace laser.

7. Smith & Wesson 642

If you want the polished look, the Smith & Wesson 642 is your beast.  This guy is similar in features and weight to the M&P 340 but gives a different look.  Rated for continuous +P use, you can fire off all 5 rounds, reload, and shoot 5 more with no worries about the 1.875-inch barrel looking like a Looney Tunes character shot it with a plugged barrel.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, the .38 is still a gun and caliber you should consider when choosing a carry gun.  When you’re just starting out with guns, a revolver is never a bad choice.  They are reliable, easy to use, and the +P rounds have some good power to stop a would-be assailant.

Lots of Holsters, Boondock Saints
Lots of Holsters, Boondock Saints

When you are shopping for a .38 to carry, think about your carry position.  They can be thicker than some semi-auto pistols and may print easier. Something else to consider too is the double action trigger.  It can be a little harder to pull and have a longer pole than some people are used to. If you just starting out, it’ll be easy enough to train with.

While you think about carrying position, also think about what holster is right for you. We can get you started with our Best Concealed Carry Holsters article!

A .38 is not by any means a long-range weapon.  It’s meant for close-up, down and dirty action.  This is because of the short barrel, most of them are around 2 inches.  That’s why they are good last resort or backup weapons, too.

When it comes to a .38, what are your preferences?  Let us know the comments below!

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

February 19th, 2018 by asjstaff

There is a lot of love for semi-auto pistols nowadays, but it is hard to beat the reliability, power and clean manufacturing of a revolver. In this TFB Review, we take a look at the stout Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum with a 2 3/4″ barrel.

model 66 Specifications

The Smith & Wesson Model 66 comes in two different configurations of barrel lengths from the factory. Consumers can either choose a 4.25″ or a 2.75″ barrel option. The specific variation of the Model 66 that we took to the range is the 2.75″ option.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The rundown of specifications for both Model 66 revolvers follows as such with only the barrel and overall length differentiating the two options:

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum / .38 Special + P
  • Capacity: 6-Round Cylinder
  • Barrel Length: 2.75″
  • Overall Length: 7.8″
  • Front Sight: Red Ramp
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Black Blade
  • Action: Single-Action / Double-Action
  • Grip: Synthetic
  • Weight: 33.5 Ounces
  • Cylinder, Barrel & Frame Material: Stainless Steel
  • Purpose: Competitive Shooting, Home Protection & Recreational Shooting

The MSRP of the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is $849.

The Model 66 is a K-frame revolver by Smith & Wesson. The K-frame was originally introduced in 1899 specifically for the .38 S&W Special cartridge. So to see the Model 66 in a K-frame size as a .357 Magnum is pretty unique even if the outward appearance is pretty unassuming. It also boasts a 2-piece barrel, a full-length extractor rod, and a ball-detent lock-up mechanism.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 barrel compared to S&W Model 66 2-piece barrel

Overall, the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is very close in size to a Smith & Wesson Model 686. Most people should appreciate the leaner K-frame of the Model 66 versus the beefier L-frame of the Model 686 if you are contemplating purchasing a shorter barrel length like this revolver we reviewed.

Trigger time

Unboxing the revolver at the range, it comes with your standard issue of contents. You receive an owner’s manual, cable lock, red chamber flag (plastic disc to set on the cylinder facing when closed) and a key set for the internal lock. From the factory it comes clean and dry; not excessively oiled or lubed.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

To get a good feel for this revolver, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum target rounds were fired. The .38 Special rounds were very enjoyable, controllable and light to shoot. The .357 Magnum rounds were still controllable but had a lot more snap. The snap was not surprising, but the fact that it was easily controllable with the moderate-sized handle was a pleasant surprise. The power of the .357 Magnum cartridge hit your hand hard, but the dexterity from the rubber grip and its length helped control it.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The single-action trigger pull of the Model 66 was very light and crisp. The break of the trigger was definitive and clean. Even with the shorter 2.75″ barrel, essentially anywhere I aimed I was hitting that mark perfectly.

The double-action trigger pull was consistently heavy from the initial pull up until the break of the trigger. So while it was heavy, there was no feeling of stacking or a compounding resistance that would make you squirm wondering when the double-action trigger may finally fire. The break of the double-action trigger pull, just like the single-action, was definitive and smooth.

After methodically firing 100 rounds (50 rounds of .38 SPL and 50 rounds of .357 Mag), I gained a few other impressions and thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum.

post-range thoughts

After all of the firing stopped and the earmuffs came off I had a few more thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver. For one, I would have liked to have seen the rear sight have a white outline of some kind.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 rear sight compared to S&W Model 66 rear sight

I hail from MN so this range day was conducted indoors and most indoor ranges (ironically enough) have really poor lighting in the shooter’s bay, but phenomenal lighting out by your target. As a result, even with young eyes, you have to work to drop that red ramp front sight exactly where you need it to be.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The Smith & Wesson Model 686, by comparison, comes with a white outline rear sight standard. I would believe these sights should transfer over easily enough and I would like to see those on the Model 66 as well.

I view the Smith & Wesson Model 686 as a benchmark of features and quality for revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum. So a lot of the comparisons I make will treat that as the yardstick.

A 2nd item that differs from the Model 66 in comparison to a lot of the other revolvers Smith & Wesson puts out is the black accents. On most Smith & Wesson revolvers the trigger, hammer, cylinder release and potentially other small pieces will be case-colored; that swirled look of almost running water on metal. It can be very beautiful when done well, but I thought the black accented features on the Model 66 was a refreshing change from what has become standard protocol for Smith & Wesson.

Model 66

[Bottom Left to Top Right] S&W Model 66 (note black accents) versus S&W Model 686 (note case-colored accents)

As you can see above, on the Model 66 the extractor rod, cylinder release, trigger, and hammer are all accented black. They appear more pronounced in a profile image like this and better match the black grips. In comparison to the Model 686, the case-colored pieces get almost washed-out when paired with a brushed stainless finish and are not as easily noticed or appreciated.

Another attribute of the Model 66 I liked was the satin stainless finish. You might be thinking that is not a big deal, but let me explain. Once again, a standard Model 686 provides a brushed stainless finish. Often times, you can see actual brush marks on a brushed stainless finish leading the user to almost believe a new revolver is… used. The satin stainless finish appears cleaner, exhibits no finishing marks and its matte appearance looks clean even after shooting a lot of rounds.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 (note brushed stainless finish) versus S&W Model 66 (note satin stainless finish)

A final thought I have on the Model 66 is the black rubber grip. The rubber material is very tacky and gives you great dexterity when shooting .357 Magnum rounds. So all-in-all, the large grip accomplishes what it sets out to do which is give the user a sturdy purchase to control and accurately fire the revolver.

Since this is only a 2.75″ barrel, I would have liked to potentially see a little smaller grip even with all of those positive, previous comments. I would not put this specific variation of the Model 66 into the category of a range pistol even though it shot really well. Its outward appearance and likely intended purpose would be for carrying; whether that is concealed or open. So to have a shorter handle would benefit anyone trying to carry it.

In summary, I believe the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver is a well thought out pistol. The MSRP of $849 is still within a tolerable range for most people’s checkbooks and my few complaints about a possibly shorter handle and improved rear sight are more personal opinions than engineering flaws.

If you are contemplating purchasing the Model 66, I can confidently say after spending significant time with one that you would not be disappointed.

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

February 6th, 2017 by asjstaff

Surprising Results

Have you ever wondered if your Apple Macbook Pro stop a .22 bullet? How about a 9mm? Well 22 Plinkster Youtuber was curious, so he put this technology to the lead test.

If you didn’t know the construction of an Apple Macbook Pro its pretty impressive. For the test a Smith & Wesson.22 long rifle caliber and 9mm is used against the laptop from approximately 7 yards away. See the video below and the surprising results.

Results
As speculated the Mac Book Pro stopped the .22 cal round, no penetration at all. The big surprise came from the 9mm being the higher velocity bullet, still did not penetrate the laptop.

Though the Apple laptop is not meant to be used as a bullet proof device, its great to know that it can stop a .22 cal and a 9mm handgun. This device could save you if such emergency arises. Thanks to 22 Plinkster for testing this tough technology. We always knew that the gun industry would connect with the technology world in a possible life saving scenario.

Video Transcription

Hey guys, 22 Plinkster here! I’ve got in my hands a Macbook Pro. This is probably one of my number one requested things to see if a 22 will go through, and a viewer was nice enough to send this to me. A lot of people carry macbooks in their backpacks, and also when they’re working at their desks, and you never know when an intruder may come up to you with a 22 pistol and you have to probably defend yourself and defend your life with your macbook pro. But the question is, will it stop a 22 longrifle? We’ll be using a Smith and Wesson M&P 22 compact, loaded with some CCI Minimags, 40 grains traveling at 1235 feet per second, so put in the comments below: Will a Macbook Pro stop a 22 longrifle?

[Intro music]

Ok, lemmy load up five CCI minimags. Again, these are 40-grain, round-nose, non-hollow-point bullets. Traveling at 1235 ft/sec. Using my Smith and Wesson M&P 22 compact, and a SilencerCo barrel suppressor. So, I’m gonna put five rounds into it. [five shots] Alright, five rounds into the macbook pro, let’s see if they went through.

The million-dollar question: Will a Macbook Pro save your life, in case you had it in your backpack and you’re walking, or if someone came up to you and decided they wanted to put a round in you with a 22 longrifle and you could throw it up, would it save your life? Let’s take a look.

Lookit there. Only one round went through. Shot it five times, this round right here went completely through the laptop, so… the other ones stopped cold. That’s pretty impressive! So basically, if a gunman came up to you and all you had was your macbook pro to save your life, you have a four outta five chance that this would stop a 22 longrifle. Let’s look inside and see what it looks like. Probably going to be glass everywhere. [laughter] so there you go! That is pretty impressive. The one that went through was right there. Went right through that key, so that’s pretty awesome. So will a Macbook Pro save your life? Well, the odds are pretty good! Thank you very much for watching guys, until next time, Y’all be safe, and keep plinkin’!

I know what you’re probably thinkin’, what are the chances of someone having a 22 longrifle and you have a macbook? But most people carry a 9mm, right? Well, good thing you say that, I’ve got my Smith and Wesson, M&P 9mm Performance Center, Shield, and I’m gonna put one round in it with some 147-grain federal HSTs. This should blow right through it, but I’m kinda curious to know.

[BANG]

Holy cow, I guarentee ya that went through! Alright, let me go take a look at it. What say you, did it go through? Or not? Right, here’s the shot. Look right there! It stopped a 9mm, Federal HST. You can actually– I don’t know if you can see it or not, but right inside there is actually the bullet. So it stopped a 147-grain federal HST cold. And if you had this in a backpack, you know, there’s several layers of cloth that it would have to go through before it actually hit the macbook. That is pretty impressive! So I know you guys were worried or concerned, saying ‘hey a 22 longrifle’s not very powerful’, but this goes to show you that electronics are pretty dense, and a macbook pro can stop a 9mm Federal HST 147 grainer. Now that’s impressive.

Sources: 22 Plinkster, Eric Nestor

Posted in Just Plinking Tagged with: , , , ,

July 14th, 2016 by asjstaff

.44 Russian A Stubby, But Accurate Load

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY MIKE NESBITT

PHOTO 1 4

The nostalgia of shooting blackpowder – pistol or rifle – is a lot of fun, and the .44 Smith & Wesson Russian blackpowder load is known for its accuracy. That’s demonstrated (inset) by Mike Nesbitt’s (left) and Lynn Willecke’s (right) offhand 12-yard shots on target. americanshootingjournal

The .44 Smith & Wesson Russian is a rather stubby little cartridge. It has an overall cartridge length that is just a bit shorter than a Sharps .45-caliber paper-patched 550-grain bullet, but its performance outshines its size. In recent years cowboy-action shooters have brought new life to this fine old load.

One attraction for me is shooting blackpowder revolvers and lever-action rifles from the 1870s. Of course for me, shooting those guns is rather restricted to using the newly-made copies. Regarding revolvers – which we’ll concentrate on for the rest of this short tale – my guns are mostly second- and third-generation Colt Single Actions in .45 Colt and .44-40, and the Uberti versions of the S&W Russian Model 3. For me, the .44 Russian has a particular appeal because it actually predated the Colt Single Action and, well, the S&W revolvers did make their mark on the Western frontier, didn’t they? There is evidence of the slightly older S&W .44 American revolvers being present at The Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874. Maybe I’m just trying to justify my preferences, but even so, the Uberti copies of the S&W New Model Russian 3 are very good and certainly worthy of consideration as a nice shooting handgun.

PHOTO 2

The famous S&W New Model Russian revolver is made as a replica by Uberti, a company known for replicating guns of the Old West.

HISTORICALLY, THE .44 RUSSIAN goes back to 1871, and it was a trendsetter because inside it used a lubricated bullet with the lube grooves seated down inside the cartridge case. It was also a trendsetter because of its accuracy; it has an accuracy that other cartridges often strive for but seldom duplicate.

Joining me with his own .44 Russian revolver was Lynn Willecke, whom I’ve been shooting with since the 1950s. We shot using bullets from Lyman’s mold No. 429383, which is still being made for the .44 Russian or Special. We often remarked that the bullet shot out of a .44 Russian seemed to be made for it. It turns out that it was. We shot blackpowder loads, using Olde Eynsford 2F powder in new Starline cases.
IN MIKE VENTURINO’S book Shooting Sixguns Of The Old West, he gives the .44 Russian quite a bit of attention. He comments on the accuracy of the cartridge and he even used an original S&W Russian 2nd Model with a 7-inch barrel to test it. Venturino also used Lyman’s No. 429383 and checked load speeds using 19.0 grains of GOEX FFg at 690 feet per second. He also checked speeds using the same weight of FFFg at 740 fps.

PHOTO 3

Lyman’s mold No. 429383, used to make the .44 Russian.

Willecki and I chronographed the load we were using. You can consider our findings to be an extension of Venturino’s published data. Our results were not quite the same since our Uberti revolvers have 6½-inch barrels, and we shot with 20 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F powder under Lyman bullets. Olde Eynsford was not available when Venturino tested his round, or I’m sure he would have included it. The average velocity from the five shots we checked was 705.3 fps, and the extreme spread of those velocities was only 10.7 fps. The tightest extreme spread of velocities Venturino recorded was 19 fps and that was with GOEX FFFg powder. In my opinion, the data from Venturino’s book (written about 20 years ago) and what we recorded supports one another very well.

A loaded .44 Russian cartridge (right) is compared to a paperpatched .45 bullet weighing 550 grains (left).

A loaded .44 Russian cartridge (right) is compared to a paperpatched .45 bullet weighing 550 grains (left).

THERE WERE A FEW differences between Venturino’s test and ours. Venturino shot at a distance of 50 feet with the gun firmly rested over sand bags. That’s the proper way to check accuracy. Willecke and I wanted to test ourselves just as much as our guns, so we shot offhand with a two-hand hold, and our targets were only 12 yards out. The results were very pleasing. I complained because Willecke outshot me – again – by getting a higher score (50-3X), but he too complained because my five shots fell into a slightly tighter group. Actually, we were both very satisfied.

WE MOVED ON to plinking and our hits were more frequent than our close misses. Neither one of us kept track of our hits, but the blackpowder loads were just as accurate as those loaded with smokeless powder, which were mainly loaded with Unique. All our bullets were lubed with a blackpowder lubricant because with good lube, blackpowder loads don’t seem to get the gun dirty.

The .44 Russian certainly lives up to its reputation for accuracy – if you accept our judgement, rough testing and all. We enjoyed our time so much that you can count on seeing us with one of these .44 Russian revolvers again. ASJ

Posted in Black Powder Tagged with: , , , , , ,

April 27th, 2016 by asjstaff

The Reasons Women Carry Are Diverse – Here’s Why Veteran And Mother Rachel Trexler Does

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL TREXLER 

“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” The Rifleman’s Creed vibrated through my bones the day I became a United States Marine, and has recently taken on a whole new meaning. As the years have passed by, I find it challenging to recall the entire creed, which has intermittently faded over time. However, that first phrase always remained near my heart and astonishingly enough, relates to my children. I know that might sound different – the words gun and children combined together – but just like my rifle, my children are mine, there “are many like” them, but these two are mine.

After college, Trexler joined the ranks of United States Marine Corps, which solidified her natural tendency towards patriotism and protecting people. On the left is her drill instructor Sgt. Parrish at her USMC graduation on Parris Island in South Carolina.

After college, Rachel Trexler (right) joined the ranks of United States Marine Corps, which solidified her natural tendency towards patriotism and protecting people. On the left is her drill instructor Sgt. Parrish at her USMC graduation on Parris Island in South Carolina.

My name is Rachel Trexler and I grew up in the rural backcountry of Mims, Fla., I am a Marine Corps veteran and a mother of two adorable hell-raising tiny humans: my son, four-year-old Rylan, and his nine-month-old sister Raven. As I kiss their faces, my warrior heart echoes the reminder that there is no limit to the fierceness with which I will protect my family, which is why now, as a stay-at-home mom, I still choose to carry a gun in my day-to-day life.

I WASN’T RAISED AROUND FIREARMS. It wasn’t until the age of 14 that I fired my first gun. I can recall being anxious – it was a revolver – and I was qualifying my horse to receive a law enforcement certification. It is necessary to train any horse that might be used in a law-enforcement capacity, to include search-and-rescue and crowd control, to be accustomed to gunfire, a condition known as being “gunfire neutral.”

It is necessary to train any horse that might be used in a law enforcement capacity, to include search-and-rescue and crowd control, to be accustomed to gunfire, a condition known as being “gunfire neutral.”
Years later, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology and an Associate of Science in Crime Scene Technology. However, it was when I answered the call to join the ranks in the military that cemented the magnitude of our country’s freedoms, and the sacrifices others have made defending them. I can unequivocally say being in the military made a huge difference in becoming the woman I am today. It is not to say a woman has to be trained by the military to appreciate and/or own and shoot guns, but I still have fond memories of the M-16A2 service rifle with old iron sights. There is nothing compared to learning to shoot day in and day out – and it was all about you and your rifle. I memorized its statistics and range, I field stripped it, cleaned it and put it back together a million times over – I literally slept with it pretty soundly too, if you ask me.

After honorably discharging from the Marine Corps and spending several years in security, not to mention becoming a mother, Trexler wasn’t finished. She put herself through the law-enforcement academy in Florida.

After honorably discharging from the Marine Corps and spending several years in security, not to mention becoming a mother, Trexler wasn’t finished. She put herself through the law-enforcement academy in Florida.

I HAVE SINCE HONORABLY DISCHARGED from the Marine Corps, but have not stopped improving my shooting skills, and I now practice the art of tactical accessorizing. Much like the awesome feeling of getting a new pair of heels, I felt like a newly crowned beauty queen when I was gifted an Eotech Holographic sight for my AR-15 – was it Christmas Day? Being fashion conscious, I can’t leave the house without my Emerson Karambit knife. For Valentine’s Day, I was the girl who got a Tiffany’s dog tag with my children’s and fiancée’s initials inscribed, as well as a Gerber Ghostrike blade to take down the mountain with me as I shred on my snowboard. Outstandingly, women are now influencing the firearms market, which at one point exclusively targeted male consumers. I’m proud to be one of these women. Not all people choose to carry a weapon. Some choose to carry nothing at all, and that’s OK in my eyes. This is one of the rights protected by the United States Constitution. Anyone can choose.

FOR ABOUT EIGHT YEARS, I was head of security for a restaurant/bar in the historic downtown district of Melbourne, Fla. Closing in the dark and very early hours of the morning, I was grateful for my Second Amendment rights, as I retrieved my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield from the safe and headed for home. While the current debate on the legal right to carry intensifies, the number of women who are choosing to bear arms is increasing exponentially. My Shield is a prime example of this; gun manufacturers continue to increase products geared towards the ladies. After all, it’s a .40-caliber that can be worn on the waistband of my yoga pants and offers the luxury of a low recoil. The fact that two perfect worlds – gun carry and yoga pants– collide with my 5.11 range/yoga pants solidifies that women have made their presence known and manufacturers are listening.

It was clear in the academy that Trexler was not only serious but skilled, taking second place in a shooting competition – second only to a former Army Ranger. It would be hard to beat that guy, no matter who you are.

It was clear in the academy that Trexler was not only serious but skilled, taking second place in a shooting competition – second only to a former Army Ranger.

IN BETWEEN HAVING my son and daughter, I chose to attend the police academy, ultimately achieving my law-enforcement certificate. It was during one of these academy days that I found myself competing against a fellow veteran – former 1st Battalion Army Ranger Nicholas Worthy (see American Shooting Journal’s Behind The Badge feature Heart Of Bronze in the July 2015 Issue) – in the tactical shooting challenge. Even though I took second in that competition, it was that decorated ranger who took first. He is now a field training officer with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and my handsome fiancée. Our beliefs run parallel – whether you are purple, minion blue, male or female, everyone is equal.
The Second Amendment, by varying degrees depending on the state, has recently led to a controversial topic – open carry. In Florida, legislators are introducing bills that would allow citizens to carry weapons openly. In my own rationale, any person who carries a gun also bears the very heavy yet necessary burden to carry responsibly. This responsibility extends to whether I carry openly or concealed. However, if Florida does pass open-carry laws, I just might be able to accessorize a few new holsters that would match my daily wardrobe.
As my wardrobe collection expanded, I found a convenient place for my Heckler & Koch P2000 SK .40, which is now secured under my steering wheel. It’s kind of the same to me as Burberry in the fashion world, and I love them both. There are plenty of other mothers like me, such as my children’s godmother, Deputy Michelle Sweet. She works for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and was a stay-at-home mother for 10 years. One day, she put on a pair of combat boots, pulled up her hair and enrolled alongside me in the academy. Deputy Sweet’s importance to the law-enforcement field is magnified because she is a woman and her leadership cannot be overstated.
Because of women in strong roles and their resilience in a historically male-dominated career, other women confidently set their sights on similar positions, and are getting the opportunity to serve alongside male counterparts in all areas of formerly male-only jobs, including military combat roles, SWAT teams and other special operations units. This is proof that we as a society are evolving when it comes to understanding the capabilities women possess.

As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, not only does Trexler enjoy shooting as a hobby, she is often found armed to the teeth in daily life. The bad guys would choose poorly if they targeted her.

As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, not only does Trexler enjoy shooting as a hobby, she is often found armed to the teeth in daily life. The bad guys would choose poorly if they targeted her.

IN 1788, RICHARD HENRY LEE proclaimed, “To preserve liberty, it is essential the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them … ” It is pertinent that those of us who carry and train with weapons aid in the next generation’s safety, so mothers like us will practice, as well as teach our children the importance of gun safety and awareness. What is the best part of being friends with other mothers who carry? I don’t need to discuss why I just locked my purse up in her safe and opened that bottle of wine for a girl’s night in. The responsibility to maintain our guns in a safe manner falls directly on our shoulders. Practicing safety is paramount; there is no room for error.
When it comes to shooting, my family-owned Armalight AR-10 will always leave me smiling like I’m back cheering on the football field. My Burris 8-32×44 scope is excellent at spotting the rounds I’m sending down range. After all, it’s a long, long walk to that target. That unmistakable sound of a .308 or 7.62×51 will turn heads like a woman in a red dress.
What’s so exciting about our present day is there is no longer a norm for how things should be. Our rights protected under the Constitution are applied equally to everyone, as they should be.

MY NEXT MISSION IS LAW SCHOOL, although now that military infantry divisions are open to women, a girl could be tempted.

A mother of two and engaged to marry former Army ranger Nick Worthy – the man she met in the police academy who bested her in a shooting competition – Trexler is at the top of her game these days and a great person for ladies who want to be inspired.

A mother of two and engaged to marry former Army ranger Nick Worthy – the man she met in the police academy who bested her in a shooting competition – Trexler is at the top of her game these days and a great person for ladies who want to be inspired.

Going forward, I’ll be keeping a close watch on the evolution of new gun laws that may allow firearms to be carried on school campuses. Human beings have an inherent right to protect ourselves, our families and our properties. Our founding fathers placed such importance on this, it is second only to my freedom of speech.
Our first president, George Washington, declared, “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself … They are the American people’s liberty … ” The Bill of Rights is just as ingrained within my veins as my blood type. The Second Amendment, withstanding all opposition thus far, still remains to ensure that individuals who wish to bear arms can do so. And with that, the numbers of women who choose to legally own, carry and shoot guns will continue to multiply.

THE REASONS A WOMAN CHOOSES to carry are often as diverse as women themselves. But for me, I carry because I choose to be a wife and mother who will always be at the ready; to fiercely guard and protect those I love. I’m the woman who chooses to accessorize with an extended mag in my everyday carry, because the cop I’m marrying just simply wouldn’t fit in my purse. ASJ

Rachel Trexler is a modern-day woman by all standards, and represents what is fast becoming the norm across the nation. What many do not realize is the journey she took to go from girl to badass, with the credentials to prove it.

Rachel Trexler is a modern-day woman by all standards, and represents what is fast becoming the norm across the nation. What many do not realize is the journey she took to go from girl to badass, with the credentials to prove it.

Posted in Women and guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,