Muzzle Blast, Recoil, Gun Weight, Balance, Handling & Steadiness

Or, the virtually ignored factors that make you miss and how to correct for them.

In America, if a gun feels good and is easy to hit with, the standard pat answer is that it has “good balance.” But that’s only part of the equation and using it as a pat answer is like picking one number and saying it is the correct answer to every mathematical equation. That just don’t cut it. Most people let the manufacturers tell them what they want. But often the manufacturer is concerned with their profit margin more than the fine points of gun responsiveness in the hand and the ease of hitting with it. Indeed, this subject is rarely pursued very far. The result is that many people have guns that are not well suited to them and cause them to miss more than they should. There are several virtually ignored factors that can explain misses, and we will explore them here.

Muzzle blast is as big a factor in flinching as recoil is. It is much more serious than recoil, as it can quickly produce permanent hearing loss. Handgun cartridges like the .454 Casul have a decibel level so high that both ear plugs and earmuffs together cannot guarantee you will not have permanent hearing loss. Imagine shooting one without any hearing protection, as you would be doing if you were carrying one and suddenly had to fire it.
Many African guides will not let their clients use a ported Weatherby Magnum because one shot from these rifles has produced permanent hearing loss in the hunter, as well as guides and trackers standing nearby. While supersonic velocities that add a sonic boom to the muzzle blast are fine in rifles, they are hell in handguns where anything over 1,100 feet per second adds far too much noise. The old high-velocity .32-20 loads (not the mild cowboy action loads of today) were among the first big offenders. There is an old saying that every .32-20 revolver has been dropped once, when the owner first fired it and then grabbed his ears in pain. That’s why the Kimball .30 carbine auto pistol and the Ruger single-actions chambered for the .30 carbine never caught on. It hurts your ears too bad to shoot them. They should have taken note that this was the reason the Army developed, then quickly abandoned, a .30 carbine pistol in World War II. No one could stand firing it.
I have known men to quit shooting .44 Magnum handguns and other overly loud guns simply because of the excessive noise. There is a limit to what you can take and still shoot straight. Those who say it doesn’t bother them all seem to have hearing loss. That’s too high a price to pay.

If you flinch from the noise, there is good reason. Decibel level should be a consideration in your purchase. Muzzle brakes divert gas and noise back at you, reducing felt recoil while destroying hearing. It’s better to be kicked than deafened. Silencers do not remove all the noise from your gun any more than your car muffler eliminates all the noise from your car, but they do bring it down a lot. I still wear hearing protection when shooting a silenced gun, which should tell you just how much noise remains. Silencers are also the most efficient muzzle brakes possible, as the powder gases are expending all their energy pushing forward against the silencer’s baffles instead of simply being diverted back towards your ears like a conventional muzzle brake does.
Silencers should be totally unrestricted as hearing protectors. As long as they are on the NFA list, along with machineguns and cannons, many people will be afraid to own or use one out of fear of overzealous law enforcement agents spotting them and harassing or even killing them. Few can afford the $200 transfer tax or are willing to jump through the hoops the government requires for their ownership.

Recoil is another factor that causes flinching and therefore misses. To begin with, no one ever seems to teach people how to handle it, and then some guns are really fierce kickers. To shoot a gun with heavy recoil, like a big elephant gun, you should lean into the gun so it can push you straight upright instead of backwards, which can result in you falling. Women in particular are prone to balance a heavy rifle by leaning backwards so the weight is better centered over their body for more comfort. When you are straight up or leaning back a bit, don’t be surprised when a .577 3-inch Nitro Express shoves you off balance and you find yourself sitting on the ground. Leaning into the gun is only part of handling that much recoil. Hold the gun tightly without being so tight you shake, for a big 4-gauge rifle is capable of leaping out of your hands when gripped normally and fired.

Bring the buttplate firmly into your shoulder so it does not work up momentum before it impacts you, but not so firmly that the muscle is compressed. You want to have some give left for when the recoil comes. Now relax the rest of your body and let it shove you upright. Roll with the punch and do not fight it and you will be fine. Brace against a .577 Nitro Express or a 4-gauge and it can injure you, no matter how big and strong you are. These techniques are useful on all smaller calibers and will enable you to handle recoil properly.
Gun design factors immensely into recoil. Military rifles like the M1903 Springfield and the 98K Mauser have broad recoil-absorbing buttplates so the soldier can shoot 100 rounds a day without flinching. Sporting rifles are as slaves to style as a fashion-minded woman, as evidenced by their slim stocks. The narrow, hard, rubber recoil pads put on these guns as a solution to the increased recoil are virtually useless. A wide Sorbothane pad works well, though.
A M1903 Springfield weighs 8¼ pounds, but many men, in mindless imitation of factory sporting rifles, cut the wood down, reducing the weight and unleashing the recoil. Bad idea. Gun weight is a major factor in recoil. A 15-pound .577 Nitro Express is not bad to shoot. A 14-pound one is still tolerable. At 13 pounds, it kicks hard. Below that, I don’t want to fire it. Some years ago I saw an ad for a 7-pound .500 Nitro Express for sale with a box of 19 cartridges. Next month it was for sale again with a new address and 18 rounds. This repeated every month with only one round fired each time. Finally someone bought it and shipped it to a gunmaker to add lead fore and aft until it got up to a shootable weight. No man familiar with that caliber would have ever fired it at 7 pounds.
Not all stocks are well designed for recoil and no one set of stock measurements can fit everyone. The U.S. military settled on short stocks, figuring the tall men could adapt. The 13-inch length of pull used on American military rifles resulted in some men getting the cocking piece of the Springfield’s bolt in their eye when they had to work the bolt fast. In the British gun trade, where gunstocks are fitted to 1/16 inch in all directions, the only time a 13-inch length of pull has been used was for short women under 5 feet tall. I am 6-foot-2 and need a 15 9/16-inch length of pull.
A gun fitting with a try gun that is adjustable in every possible direction is standard for customers of Best Quality doubles in the British Isles. A properly fitted gunstock drastically reduces recoil, while ensuring that the gun is accurately pointing exactly where you are looking when the gun is cheeked. It’s worth a trip there just to have that done. You then can get your guns restocked or altered to your measurements. This is important because a stock that does not fit you will make you miss either high, low, or to one side or another because that’s where the gun is wanting to point.

Scopes can figure into the equation, as scopes on rifles with heavy recoil can produce the famed “Weatherby eyebrow,” when the recoil drives the scope into the shooter, making a cookie-cutter scar around his eye. Now there’s a quick way to get a flinch! Some of the best and most experienced shooters have fallen prey to this infamous injury, also known as scope bite. The solution is the forward-mounted Scout Scope. A 2¾-power Scout Scope will shoot just as accurately as the largest magnification conventional scope out to 300 yards, and you have no business shooting game past that range under normal circumstances. Indeed, 200 yards is a reasonable limit for the hunter.

After all, it’s called “hunting,” not “long-range sniping.” You are supposed to be a good enough hunter to get close to your quarry. Personally, I don’t get the thrill of shooting something that is a tiny speck in the distance that I do in shooting something that is up close and personal.

Balance is a variable factor, as all men do not need the same balance point. Basically, the balance point should be between the hands, where both hands work equally to lift the gun. A bit of muzzle heaviness for rifles can be desirable.

The problem is that not all men lift equally with both hands, so the balance point varies with the individual. You can also have two guns with the exact same balance point, yet one will feel like a fence post in the hands and one will come alive in your hands. Leverage plays a role here, among other things. Weight further out feels heavier than it is, although it has no effect on the balance point. This is why the barrels are swamped on Best Quality shotguns.
Grip size and position are important. The smaller the grip, the lighter the gun feels, because the tighter your hand is closed, the stronger the grip. Thus a small grip is taking less effort to use and that makes the gun feel lighter.
Grasping the barrels of a side-by-side double makes your pointing four times as accurate as holding a beavertail forend. Laying the thumb alongside those barrels is a guaranteed way to ensure master eye dominance. That will not work on an over-and-under, where nothing can prevent the other eye from seeing the great mass of both barrels, while the master eye sees only a narrow rib. The other eye may fight for dominance in this situation and in the odd times it wins, you miss to one side. The deep grip and the wind resistance of the over-and-under’s barrels help defeat liveliness in that design.
Remember that the O/U was the first double developed, but it was quickly abandoned in favor of the vastly superior side-by-side configuration, which achieves its highest form in the Best Quality game guns of the British Isles. The O/U is an aberration that caught on because it is in style. A successful marketing campaign worked well, as most shooters are as fashion-conscious as a well-dressed woman and just as quick to give in to peer pressure to conform to the rest of the pack. The supposedly big advantage of a single sighting plane on the O/U is all the expert shotgunner should need to recognize a con. You point a shotgun. You are not supposed to even see the barrels, let alone sight down them. You don’t aim it like a rifle. Unfortunately in America, a nation of riflemen, this sounded right to too many suckers. So they end up not hitting as many birds as the older generation did with their old side-by-side guns.
Dead Foot Arms

A fitted side-by-side game gun is so much a part of you that man and gun are one at the moment of firing in a mystical zen-like experience that is the highest thrill in the shooting sports. When they say a Best Quality game gun feels lively, they mean it feels alive in your hands with a will to hit the target all on its own. It is the only design that enables you to hit every time.
Game guns are usually fitted with straight grip stocks, as these point better. Some have a half-pistol grip stock known as a Prince of Wales grip. You can make the 90-degree straight-up overhead shot commonly encountered on driven grouse shoots with either of these, but it is difficult, if not impossible, with a full pistol-grip stock, so you rarely see full pistol-grip stocks on game guns.


For ease of handling on fast-moving birds, game guns are made as light as possible. The accepted limit is 96 times the weight of the shot charge thrown, as any less produces severe recoil. That means a 6-pound gun for a 1-ounce shot load. Game guns usually run 6 to 7 pounds. They are almost always 12-gauge because the British carry their shells loose in a shell bag and a smaller-gauge shell that could fall through the chamber and lodge in the forcing cone could be missed in the hurried loading when shooting driven game.
A proper shell loaded on top of it then produces a blow-up. This happened to General Franco in Spain when his loader didn’t realize a smaller-gauge shell was in the shell bag and the result was a blown-up barrel on a fine Purdey shotgun. For safety reasons, it is just better to only have 12-gauge shells there and the best way to ensure that is to not have a gun in a smaller gauge.

The twin pistol grips of the Thompson submachinegun combine with a 15-inch length of pull on the stock, perfect balance and leverage, and heavy weight to produce a remarkably steady gun – possibly the steadiest of all time. You can’t improve on this one, but you sure could put those twin pistol grips on other designs to good effect. They enable the hands and body to brace the gun in a most natural way that is extremely effective for both accurate pointing and steadiness. The current semiauto M1927A1 Thompson made by Auto Ordnance has a legal-length 16-inch barrel that doesn’t hurt its steadiness a bit. It is an extremely efficient hunting and protection rifle.
Steadiness is to be desired at all costs in a rifle if you are going to shoot well with it. Remember that offhand shooting is often the only shooting available in the field. African hunting rifles are often found to be on the heavy side, not only for recoil mitigation but also because it is difficult to impossible to hold a light rifle steady after running after game in the African heat. Anything less than 10 pounds was proving troublesome in these conditions, which proved common in Africa.
Double rifles are traditionally very steady once they reach this weight and that is no wonder, considering the fact that they are the rifle version of the Best Quality game guns. Even among them, some stand out. I was particularly impressed with the .500 Nitro Express double rifles made by the Best Quality gunmaker Paul Roberts of J. Roberts & Son in England. Paul’s response at the time was, “After 27 African safaris, I think I should know what a double rifle should feel like.” Well, he certainly does.
A long barrel can be of great help for offhand shooting, as its leverage gives the steadiness of more weight without you having to lug that weight around with you. On two separate occasions I have been able to get the first two shots in an inch offhand at 100 yards with a long-barreled M1873 Trapdoor Springfield and with a long-barreled M96 Swedish Mauser using the issue iron sights. After two shots, the weight that had been working in my favor then began to work against me and fatigue started opening up the groups. Now, if I could just shoot that well everyday. This is a good time to point out that the inverted V front sight is far, far superior to the blade front sight favored by the U.S. military. It is easier to pick up in low light and does not need front sight hoods or wings to protect it. It is just as accurate as the blade for fine shooting. General Thompson knew this when he put a big rugged hollow ground one on his Thompson submachinegun.
The worst thing you can have on a rifle is a light barrel. I will never forget the time I was shooting out the X ring of the target with my Stoeger .22 Luger. A friend handed me an AR-7 survival rifle. These have a bare barrel of minimum length and it stows in the plastic stock. I could barely stay on the paper with that thing. The light barrel just would not settle down and be still. Later I learned to hold it in the crook of my left arm to fire it, but I still hit better with the pistol. There is one exception to the rules and that is the little M1 carbine, which in my book has earned the title of steadiest gun. It’s not its balance, as adding a bayonet doesn’t change the steadiness. Bill Ruger copied its length, weight, balance point, length of pull, drop at heel and comb when he made his great semiauto .44 Magnum carbine and its 10/22 companion gun in .22 LR, and they are no steadier than other guns their size.
We may not know exactly what they accidentally hit on in the M1 carbine that makes it so steady, but the fact is, it just is! Its handling properties are superb and it takes to instinct shooting like a duck takes to water. No wonder it is the weapon with the most hits on enemy soldiers for the number of rounds fired of any weapon ever issued by the U.S. military before or since. It also is the perfect small game rifle, killing cleanly without ruining a lot of meat, yet it still is capable of taking big game. Inland Manufacturing makes a splendid example of the M1 carbine today.
Finally, you may find a particular gun that just suits you best. I know one English Best Quality gun maker who hunted with another make of shotgun of good but not Best Quality, simply because he never missed with it. That’s the best reason of all to choose a gun.

Story by Jim Dickson, Some photos from Tactical Life & GunsAmerica

Mosin-Nagant Rifle

This view is more than meets the Eye for Long Range Shooting – this old war Horse of Russia

Anyone that is into long range shooting should have heard of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. The M91/30 Mosin-Nagant with 7N1 ammo is a formidable long range rifle system. Don’t judge the cover by the looks. This rifle played a major role in history for the Russians and other countries. Not surprisingly, this weapon system was also modified for sniping during the past wars.
The video below from Youtuber TibosaurusRex demonstrates just how effective an unmodified military rifle can be in experienced shooter. This rifle is in 100% original military configuration and had NOT been equipped with any optical sights, yet it slams steel at 944 yards as easy as anything else on the shelf.

Many assume these rifle like this (purchased for under $100) must need modification to shoot well… but what many fail to realize is that these rifles were not designed by sporting companies for recreational activities, they were designed by teams of engineers with massive government resources for life-and-death purposes.

These rifles were designed to be harmonically balanced and were inspected to meet serious military manufacturing and design specifications. The Mosin Nagant rifle has served the Russian military and many other countries for over a century now. The surplus rifle market here in the United States has been flooded with these rifles, most being sold at incredibly low prices.

Covered in grease and boxed in wooden crates at gun shows and gun shops, these old rifles look less than impressive. When fed quality ammunition such as the 7.62x54r model 7N1 military sniper cartridge, it’s more than capable. The shooter in this video hit a target 944 yards away, with supplied iron sights, and that’s enough evidence to prove its worth! If you like plinking at long distances and strap for cash, then the Mosin-Nagant rifle is a winner in cost and accuracy.

Sources: TiborasaurusRex Youtube

Dead Foot Arms

Tokarev SVT-40

The Forgotten Tokarev

Initially losing to Simonov’s AVS36, Tokarev’s design was later retried and adopted as the SVT 38, later becoming the SVT 40 after the Finnish Winter War debacle that the Soviet Union found itself in, just prior to the Second World War.
The SVT-40 saw widespread service during and after World War II. The initial reaction of the troops to this rifle was negative. Among the issues were that the rifle was too long and cumbersome, difficult to maintain, and the magazine had a tendency to fall out.

In service, SVTs frequently suffered from vertical shot dispersion. The army reported that the rifles were of “flimsy construction and there were difficulties experienced in their repair and maintenance”.
The stock, made of Arctic Birch, was prone to cracking in the wrist from recoil. This was generally remedied by drilling and inserting one or two large industrial bolts horizontally into the stock just before the wrist meets the receiver.

Many rifles were also poorly seated in their stocks, letting the receiver shift on firing. This led to a field modification that selectively shimmed the stock with birch chips, usually around the receiver and in between where the wood stock meets the lower metal handguard.

However, on the plus side the SVT-40 design is pretty much forward thinking in many aspects, the rifle featured a 10 round detachable magazine, short stroke gas piston operated tilt locking bolt, and an extremely lightweight construction compared to numerous other designs of the time.

The SVT-40 was also the second most produced semi-automatic rifle of the Second World War after the M1 Garand, with over 1.6 million rifles manufactured during the war. Had it not been for the war itself, the SVT 40 was well on the path to completely replacing the Mosin Nagant.

But with the changing infantry tactics against the German Army, and the severe shortage of manufacturing capability, in addition to some reliability and accuracy issues, led to the diminishing usage of the rifle during the war, with product ceased at the end. Of course, Simonov got the last laugh with elements of his AVS-36 being incorporated into the 7.62x39mm SKS, making the SVT 40 obsolete by the war’s end.

Dead Foot Arms

Sources: Wiki, TFB Youtube, Miles V

Savage MSR-10 Rifles

With the MSR-10 rifles for hunting and long-range shooting, Savage Arms gives shooters some excellent choices.

Story by Craig Hodgkins | Photos by Savage Arms

Savage Arms’ line of next-generation semiautos comes to the marketplace with an attitude – the company has cleverly co-opted the MSR acronym for branding the guns, using the tagline “MSR now stands for Modern Savage Rifle” – but the guns are poised to deliver in the field and on the range as well, with everything from expanded caliber choices and badass designs to a full suite of custom upgrades packaged as standard features.

The new MSR-10 Hunter is part of a four-gun family of next-gen semiautos from Savage Arms. (Inset) The Long Range ships with one 10-round magazine (foreground) and the Hunter uses a 20-rounder.

Although the four-gun family includes two MSR-15 models in 5.56mm (the Recon and Blackhawk), our focus here will be on a dynamic duo of aptly named, hard-hitting MSR-10s, the Hunter and the Long Range. And while the company’s slick new AR-15 rifles are already gaining a reputation as straight shooters, the chance to zero in on building a better AR-10 was a perfect fit for Savage – offering opportunities to play to the brand’s strengths, including longrange accuracy and innovation.

SAVAGE MAY BE BEST KNOWN for its extensive collection of bolt-actions for hunting, competitive shooting and plain old plinking, but the company has also been in the AR business, off and on, for years, quietly creating custom barrels for other manufacturers.

Simply put, the AR-10 platform offered Savage engineers a chance to innovate. According to Al Caspar, president of Savage Arms, “One of the stumbling blocks to unbridled creativity with the AR15 platform is the nagging need for conformity – in other words, keeping the rifle compatible with a variety of accessories. With AR-10s, there are far fewer such constraints. Savage engineers were able to think outside the box to bring gamechanging features to both the MSR Hunter and MSR Long Range.”

While developing its modern, precision AR-10s, Savage also addressed other longstanding shortcomings of MSRs designed for larger cartridges.

“For example,” Caspar added, “AR10s have traditionally been heavy, bulky and unwieldy. We tackled these issues head-on, shaving off unnecessary weight and trimming size with a smaller, lighter chassis that strikes a perfect balance between performance, fit and function. As a result, both the MSR-10 Hunter and MSR-10 Long Range feature a compact AR-10 design that feels and handles more like an AR-15.”

The buttstock on the MSR-10 Long Range is a Magpul PRS Gen3.

“Savage’s AR-10s also feature custom-forged uppers and lowers for a look unlike anything afield or on the range, plus a free-floating forend that locks down so tight you can bridge a scope mount from forend to receiver with no loss of accuracy. Tactical Blackhawk! grips, buttstock and flip up sights are also standard.”

Professional 3-gun competitor Patrick Kelley knows a thing or five about the needs of long-range shooters, and he knows the Long Range model well, having been involved in early testing of the gun.

“It’s got all the cool features that a free gunner would want in one package,” said Kelley at the recent SHOT Show in Las Vegas. “A longer gas system, 5R-rifled barrel, Melonite coating, 22-inch barrel length for 6.5 Creedmoor, 20-inch in .308 Win. An M-Lok hand guard.”

Dead Foot Arms

“The upper and lower are both proprietary,” Kelley added, “and shorter in length, which allows us to make the gun more compact, bring the center of balance back closer to the center line of the shooter, which makes for better handling. The bolt carrier group is also lighter than a standard bolt carrier group. Again, less reciprocating mass means a lower recall impulse.”
“It’s got every feature in it it should have,” Kelley concluded, “at a price point that will make you smile and make you want it all the more. (This) rifle has all the cool features that little boutique gun makers can do, but in one rifle from a large manufacturer: Savage Arms.”

A closer look at the muzzle of the Long Range model.

BOTH MSR-10S ARE AVAILABLE in .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor chamberings, each of which offers applications in hunting and long-range shooting. The .308 Win. is a fine all-around choice for big game, not to mention a top traditional pick of snipers and other long-range shooters. A relative newcomer, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a long-range performer developed for target shooting but perfectly capable in hunting applications as well.

The nonreciprocating side charging handle on the Long Range model.

Savage tailored barrel length to caliber and purpose. The .308 Win. version of the MSR-10 Hunter sports a 16-inch barrel (and weighs just 7.5 pounds), while the 6.5 Creedmoor Hunter carries an 18-inch barrel. MSR10 Long Range barrel lengths are 20 inches for the .308 Win. and 22 inches with 6.5 Creedmoor.

Regardless of length, all barrels are button-rifled and paired to their particular action with Savage’s obsessive attention to precise headspace control. To further enhance accuracy while reducing fouling, the bore features innovative 5R rifling. And to extend barrel life, Savage applies an ultradurable, Melonite QPQ surface hardening treatment inside and out.

Although the MSR-10 Hunter hit the market too late for extensive range testing before our monthly print deadline, American Shooting Journal columnist (and current cover boy) Mike Dickerson enjoyed obvious success with the brand-new gun on a recent west Texas hog hunt. (MIKE DICKERSON)

With roughly 10 million modern sporting rifles already in the hands of American gun owners, there’s no denying the platform’s appeal for a variety of uses. And, after talking to thousands of shooters online and in person at ranges across the continent, Savage knew exactly where to aim with their new line. The company is convinced that both new MSR-10s will quickly find a place in the hands and hearts of discerning shooters, and with early results trending so favorably, it would be hard to argue otherwise. AmSJ

Better Bang For Your Buck

Despite the continuing impact of inflation, you can still find some excellent hunting rifles that won’t break the bank.


Progress and the march of time can be very hard on the wallet, especially when it comes to hunting rifles. Consider, if you will, the classic Big Three of American hunting rifles. According to a 2004 gun-value reference in my collection, you could at that time buy a new Remington 700 BDL rifle for about $500, and the ADL model went for even less. A new Ruger Model 77 All-Weather rifle could also be found for less than $500, and the same could be said for a Winchester Model 70 Black Shadow.

In testing, the Mossberg Patriot in .25-06 Rem. produced sub-minute-of-angle best groups with five factory loads.

Today, the latest incarnations of these flagship models of American hunting rifles all have a suggested retail price of close to $1,000. In little more than a decade, these iconic American rifles have essentially doubled in price.

Not everyone can afford to lay out that kind of change for a hunting rifle. The Even fewer can afford semicustom or custom rifles, and if you have to ask the price of, say, a fine European double rifle, you may want to be sitting down when you hear the answer.

Of course, gun makers are well aware of this economic reality and have scrambled in recent years to produce more affordable guns for the masses. Many of these guns won’t win any beauty contests. Some may be described as downright ugly. Actions may be less than silky smooth, and stocks may bend in a stiff breeze. They’re often described rather euphemistically as “budget-friendly” or “entry-level” rifles. These are, of course, handy phrases when you’re trying to avoid using the word “cheap.”


Have the manufacturers cut corners on these guns? You bet they have, but they had to in order to make the guns less expensive to produce and offer them at what are, by today’s standards, crazy-cheap prices.

TODAY, VIRTUALLY EVERY MAJOR mass-manufacturer of hunting rifles has added an inexpensive rifle to their product lineup. While some have derisively called this a race to the bottom, I don’t exactly see it that way. Sure, I’m fond of guns that have richly figured walnut stocks, elegantly engraved receivers, and fit and finish reflective of old world craftsmanship, but those guns won’t smack deer into the freezer any more effectively than most of today’s more affordable rifles. Advances in manufacturing processes and materials now enable gun makers to offer inexpensive rifles that resist the elements, work reliably and shoot tight groups – and that’s all many buyers, especially first-time buyers, are looking for in a hunting rifle.

ABR Rifle

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more popular inexpensive rifles currently on dealers’ shelves. Since there must, I suppose, be rules to the game, I’ll limit this discussion to rifles that you can buy at a real-world price of $500 or less.

Remington Model 783
Remington’s entry in the bargain hunting rifle category is the Model 783, which has a free-floated, button-rifled barrel and pillar bedding. (REMINGTON)

Consider, for example, the Thompson Center Venture rifle, with which I’ve had a fair amount of experience. These rifles feature a free-floated barrel with 5R rifling and pillar-bedded action. I used the Venture Compact model chambered in .308 Win. on a memorable Texas deer hunt, dropping two whitetail bucks and two does with four shots guns over two days of hunting. Several other outdoor writers did the same. I didn’t subject that rifle to accuracy testing, but I did test an identical gun chambered in .22-250 Rem. Five of six factory loads shot sub-minute-of-angle best groups, easily living up the rifle’s MOA accuracy guarantee.

I was impressed enough that I bought a Venture Predator rifle, chambered in .204 Ruger, and it regularly shoots half-inch groups with its preferred load. That’s more than can be said of many more expensive rifles. You can find the Venture for less than $500, but if that’s too rich for your blood, you can look for the no-frills TC Compass rifle for less than $400.

The TC Venture is one of the author’s top choices in bargain-priced hunting rifles.

Another $500 rifle I’ve had some experience with is the Winchester XPR rifle. The one I tested, chambered in .30-06 Springfield, put six different factory loads into groups averaging 1.3 inches, but that’s only part of the story. It dropped a 165-grain Federal load with Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets into average groups of 0.58 inch and a best group of just 0.31 inch. This gun is quite similar to the Browning AB3 rifle. Both have decent triggers, a boltunlock button, 60-degree bolt lift and detachable box magazines. Both are offered in a variety of configurations and calibers, and if you shop around, you can find either one on sale for about $500.

One of the most aesthetically pleasing and feature-rich offerings among the bargain-priced rifles is the Mossberg Patriot. This rifle’s lines are very much in a classic configuration, and you can get it with stocks that are walnut, laminate, black synthetic or synthetic Kryptek Highlander camo. Standard features include drop-box magazines, fluted barrels with recessed crowns, a spiral-fluted bolt and adjustable trigger system. I tested one in .25-06 Rem., and five different factory loads turned in sub-MOA best groups. Surprisingly, I’ve seen the basic black synthetic model retail for less than $300.

The Winchester XPR rifle in .30-06 shot tight groups for the author using a Federal Premium 165-grain load with Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets.

ANOTHER POPULAR ENTRY in the value-priced category is the Ruger American Rifle. I haven’t tested one yet, but have just received the Predator model, chambered in – wonder of wonders – 6mm Creedmoor. I plan to give this one a thorough workout as soon as I can obtain enough ammo to put it through its paces. Available in several configurations, this rifle has an adjustable trigger, cold hammer-forged barrel and a tang safety. It utilizes an integral bedding block system to free-float the barrel and has a removable rotary magazine. The one-piece bolt has three locking lugs and a 70-degree throw to allow ample room for mounting scopes on the bases supplied with the rifle.

According to Big Green, also known as Remington, the bargain-priced Remington 783 is “not dressed to impress, it’s dressed for work.” With a MSRP of $399, the 783 has freefloated, button-rifled barrels mated to receivers that are pillar-bedded to a high-nylon-content synthetic stock. The rifle is equipped with an adjustable trigger and, notably, detachable steel magazines. The bolt has two locking lugs and a 90-degree lift.

The author reports that the Winchester XPR rifle has a decent trigger, 60-degree bolt lift and detachable box magazine.

The main thing going for the Savage Axis rifle is the fact that it is, well, a Savage. That usually means you can expect good out-of-the-box accuracy. With an MSRP of around $368 and a real-world price of around $330 for the basic model with a black synthetic stock, you’ll get a rifle that uses the classic Savage locknut approach to set headspace set to minimum.

Dead Foot Arms

This has always driven some purists mildly nuts, but it significantly contributes to the accuracy Savage rifles are known for. Barrels on the Axis are button-rifled. The two locking-lug bolt is unusual in that it uses a floating bolt head design, which theoretically also contributes to accuracy. Detachable box magazines are part metal, part plastic, with metal feed lips. Triggers on the Axis models I’ve seen aren’t overly impressive, but at a cost of about $450, you can step up to the Axis II rifle and get the Savage Accutrigger and a Weaver Kaspa 3-9×40 scope.

The Ruger American Rifle has quickly become one of the most popular of the economy hunting rifles. (RUGER)
Savage rifles, including the budget-friendly Axis and Axis II (shown) models, are known for their outof-the-box accuracy. (SAVAGE)

These rifles and others like them may not be your firearms cup of tea, but taken as a group, they fill an important gap in the marketplace. They give people who might not
otherwise be able to afford a decent rifle an affordable entry point into hunting. If we’re going to preserve our cherished hunting traditions in this country, we’re going to need their participation – and their votes – in the years ahead. That’s worth thinking about the next time you bypass the bargain-rifle section of your local gun store. AmSJ

Russian Alpha AK

Alpha Inspired

Here’s a tricked out AK47 that you don’t come across everyday. Have a look at this Russian Alpha AK. Not the real deal but a clone imitation of the ones used by the Russian Counter Terrorist unit. Here is a list of items that Vicker and company used to clone this Alpha AK:

  • Arsenal Semiautomatic Bulgarian-made AK in 5.56
  • Russian-made Zenit rail
  • Wilson Raptor Light
  • Traumix – extended charging handle
  • Krebs extended safety
  • Texas Weapon System top cover
  • Throwlever mount with a MicroB and my favorite red dot, Aimpoint
  • US Palm Pistol Grip
  • SRVV side folder trunnion
  • Brownells Aluma-Hyde paint

Larry here demos and goes over some of the pieces that was used and he gives us some sources to check out.

Video Transcription

Hey everybody, if you’re fans of my shows, you probably noticed a couple years ago I had the opportunity to go to Russia, and do some filming with the Alpha Guys, the FSB Alpha Counter-Terrorist guys. Now while we were over there, we noticed they had some tricked-out AKs with a lot of western influence, but also with some Russian accessories, stuff that I’d never seen before. I snapped some pictures while I was there, put ’em on social media, and it went viral. We’ve had a lot of requests, and now I’m gonna run you through my own personal Alpha Clone AK.


Now I call it “Alpha Inspired”, because it’s not exactly like theirs, but it is very similar. I’ll take you through it.

First off, I used an Arsenal Semiautomatic Bulgarian-made AK. In five-five six. The only reason I use five-five six is that’s what I had on hand. The Russians we saw, they were using five-four-five and Seven-six-two by thirty-nine. Not that they are opposed to five-five six, matter of fact we saw at least one guy who was using an M4 in five-five six. Their AKs were five-four-five or Seven-six-two by Thirty-nine. So if you wanted to be spot-on correct, those are the two flavors you need to take a look at.

The guns we saw were in the mid-length format, just like this one, alright? Also, the ones we saw had some variety of the Bulgarian Krink Flash suppressor like this, the four-piece flash suppressor. The rail is a Russian-made Zenit rail. This was very difficult to source; it still is. Alright, I’m gonna tell you right off the bat, if you’re gonna try to clone this gun, this is not gonna be an easy piece to get. The proper Zenit rail for this is difficult to get, but in my opinion it’s key, because it kinda makes the gun. Now they were running PQ15s, this happens to be a Wilson Raptor Light that I had given to me, so that’s what I put on it. Very grip and extended charging handle, this is a Traumix one, and I’ve just been told prior to filming here, that this is no longer made. However, I will give you a source for some key parts for this at the end of the video.

Now it has a Krebs extended safety here, and that’s exactly what the Russians were using, they were also using a Texas Weapon System top cover. Now this top cover has a mixed reputation for retaining zero, but I asked the Russians about it, and they were perfectly happy with it, so for their purposes, it retained zero just fine.

Now they had a mix of red-dot sights, of course I saw some micros, and that’s what -needless to say- I stuck on here, I have a Throwlever mount, with a MicroB and my favorite red dot, this Aimpoint product was a no-brainer.

Coming back here, it has a US Palm Pistol Grip, Also it has an SRVV side folder trunnion. Alright, now, that’s another Russian product, and it is not easy to get. So once again, I’m gonna point you in the direction where you can find one of these SRVVs. It does fold to the side, retractable buttstock, and of course I topped it off with my Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling. And Brownells Aluma-Hyde paint, and you have what I call my Alpha-Inspired AK Clone.

Now, my recommendation: Go to Luke is the guy that runs that website, and he will help you source some of the key parts to build your own Alpha Clone. Pretty cool gun.

Hey thanks for watching the Vickers Tactical Youtube channel. To subscribe click here, and to watch some of my favorite videos, click here. Have a good one. LAV out.

Source: Vickers Tactical Youtube, Reddit,

Henry Rifle is the People’s Choice

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


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

rider on horse w 22

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

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

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

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

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

The tube magazine is covered by a wooden forend, except on the commemorative “Classic” 1860-style model with the original external magazine follower latch. The 1860 model improves on the original in the metallurgy and caliber options – .45 Colt or .44-40 Winchester instead of the weak and less safe .44 rimfire – without losing any of the historic feel. Considering that only 14,000 original Henry rifles were ever produced, having an extra 11,000 made for history buffs in the past couple of years definitely makes them more accessible to modern shooters. Henry also produces improved variants of the semiauto AR-7 Survival Rifle, a kids’ Mini Bolt and a pump in .22LR and .22WMR. Most recently, box magazine lever actions, break-open and suppressor ready models have been introduced – Henry clearly has no intention of resting on its laurels.

IN MY EXPERIENCE WITH HENRY OWNERS, I’ve found that few possess just one. In fact, it’s extremely common even for modest collections to have multiple lever actions, often spanning all calibers from .22 to .45-70. It’s also common for a Henry owner to buy additional Henry rifles as gifts for family members. Of all current rifle brands, Henry appears to command perhaps the highest customer loyalty. So, besides the good quality manufacturing and great accuracy, what draws and retains people to and with this maker to the exclusion of competing brands?

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

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

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

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

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

Two Henry Big Boys on a safari, one in .45 Colt, the other in .45-70 Govt.
A Henry Big Boy in the classic .30-30 chambering.

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

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

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

Contact: Henry Repeating Arms

Savage 22 Long Rifle

Everyone needs a Good .22 – The Savage A22 impresses with its Accuracy and Volume.


Dotzie was telling me to hurry. Treed at the base of a big white oak, my little mountain cur barked impatiently to inform me there was a squirrel up above that required my undivided attention. Out of breath from hurrying to her side, it took me several minutes to spot the gray squirrel pinned to a limb. Still a little shaky, I pulled a miss on my first shot and the squirrel darted through the upper limbs to begin his high-wire act.

I settled down by the third shot, and after I squeezed the AccuTrigger on the Savage A22, the bushytail tumbled out of the tree. I was happy, and more importantly, Dotzie was happy.

savage22 & dog

IN MY MISSPENT YOUTH, I knew an old codger who I thought of as my mentor when it came to rifles. He had survived Korea and a battle that took place in a location now called the Frozen Chozin. He had a house full of guns, and was always shooting, reloading, or doing something with a rifle. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, while staying out of his way at the same time.

“Boy,” he told me, “everyone needs a good .22 rifle, if for nothing else than just to shoot.” By “just to shoot” he meant target practice, can plinking, hunting small game, pest control, and anything else a body would need a rifle for in a caliber below a .3030. To him, a dependable .22 was a tool much like an axe or a wrench; and when you needed one, it had to work and work well.

Long known for their brand of no-nonsense firearms, Savage Arms ( has returned to the forefront in recent years with high-quality rifles that work well when you need them to. Savage wowed the rimfire world a couple of years ago with the introduction of the A17, the first high-performance semiautomatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR cartridge. They followed that success up with the A22 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum rimfire). Now, Savage is adding another new model to the A series: the A22 in (you guessed it) .22 Long Rifle. Here are some thoughts on this nifty little rifle, and why I think my old long gun mentor would approve.

Like the A17 and A22 Magnum, this rifle features a thread-in barrel with zero-tolerance head space, much like Savage builds their centerfire rifles. The barrel is “button” rifled and recessed on the business end, which is going to save on accuracy over time by protecting it. This is important if you are as hard on guns as I am, hauling them around in vehicles, getting knocked around while carrying them and the like.

The A22 comes equipped with a Savage AccuTrigger that outdoes many triggers in the centerfire line. No pulling the trigger housing or disassembly required. A small, simple tool, supplied by Savage, is inserted through the trigger guard and turned one direction to lighten the trigger pull, and  the other to make it heavier. This could easily be done in the field if necessary. The trigger is the most important element of any rifle and the AccuTrigger is a good one.

The A22 is equally at home on the range. (SAVAGE)

The A22 has a smooth-cycling, straight-blowback action that reliably feeds a variety of .22-caliber ammunition from the magazine to the chamber. This little rifle ate every kind of .22 ammo that I fed it, including CCI Mini Mag, Federal Hunter Match, Aguila Sub Sonic and Super Extra, and Remington Gold Bullet and Target rounds. The A22 chewed them all up and spit them out without fail. That in itself is no small feat for any rimfire autoloader.

With a weight of just over 5.5 pounds, the A22 is an easy-carrying rifle for all manner of small game.

COMPANY LITERATURE TELLS US that Savage engineers did some exhaustive factory testing, and it appears they were successful across the board. The 10-round rotary magazine reliably fed the rounds every time the trigger was pulled. The magazine is flush mounted, and two other hunters besides myself who carried the A22 liked this feature.

For those times when you may want more ammo on hand, Savage also partnered with shooting accessories supplier Butler Creek ( to increase the rifle’s ammo capacity by creating a 25-round, spring-fed aftermarket magazine. I haven’t got my hands on one of these magazines yet, but that is definitely my plan.

At the risk of sounding like the typical prattling gun writer, I must say I was very impressed with the A22’s accuracy. Hole touching groups did not seem to be a problem out to 50 yards, which I deemed far enough for squirrel shooting. The rifle comes equipped with adjustable open steel sights, so it’s ready to shoot right out of the box, but it is also drilled and tapped for scope mounts, allowing shooters to easily add their favorite optic.

The ten-round, flush-mounted rotary magazine is another fully functional design feature on the A22.(SAVAGE)

The rifle I tested had a Bushnell 3.5-10x A22 Rimfire Optics scope mounted on it, and at first I thought this was too much scope for a .22 rifle. But after shooting this rig for a few days I really began to like it. This optic has a turret calibrated for high-velocity .22 ammo, and you can have a lot of fun with this system out to 125 yards. You can check out more info on this particular scope and many others by visiting

I do herby proclaim the A22 to be a shooter, both in accuracy and proficiency of putting rounds down range. At a suggested retail of 281 American dollars, I doubt you can find a .22 rifle that is this much gun for less money. I think my old rifle guru would approve. AmSJ

Winchester Proto-M14 Rifle

If you are an M14 Fan, raise your Hand

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States spent 12 years looking for a successor to the M1 Garand rifle. The new standard infantry arm was expected to be select-fire, lightweight, accurate, controllable, and fire a heavy .30-caliber projectile. It would replace not just the M1, but also the BAR and perhaps the M1 Carbine as well – a true universal weapon. Of course, these requirements were complete fantasy, un-achievable in the real world – but that did not prevent Remington, Springfield Arsenal, and Winchester from trying to meet them.

Winchester produced a prototype M14 with select fire weapon complete with a removable bipod. It was extremely light and made from an ordinary Winchester M1 Garand Rifle with many modifications.

This rifle is a Winchester prototype, which has been substantially lightened from the M1 it began life as. A pistol grip has been added, along with a fire selector lever and a box magazine system. A detachable lightweight bipod allows it to be used for supporting fire.
It is chambered for the T65 or 7.62 NATO cartridge, which dates it as definitely post-WWII.

The mighty M14 rifle is a battle rifle that refuses to be shelved. It has been dusted off and implemented in the war against terror in current times.

Video Transcription

Win M-14

Hey guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on, I’m Ian, I’m here today at the Cody Firearms Museum, part of the Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, and I am taking a look at a very interesting prototype Winchester Select-fire Magazine-fed version of an M1-Garrand. Now, this was obviously part of the development program process for the M14 rifle, where exactly it fits in that process, I really don’t know. There doesn’t appear to be much documentation on this.

Unfortunately, while there are good references out there on the Springfield and the Remington corporate versions of the different rifles that ended up as part of the M14 project, there doesn’t seem to be much reference material out there on the Winchester guns, and this is one of those. The Cody museum has the Winchester firearms collection, which includes a lot of prototypes; some which we have looked at, some which we’ll look at in the future, and some like this one.

So, I can’t really tell you the where and the when and how this did under trials, but we will take a close look at it, and I can point out a whole bunch of very interesting features of this particular prototype example. Now the first thing I want to mention is that this gun is really light. You look at this and you expect it to weigh something like twelve or fourteen pounds, right? Because it’s got the big ‘ol bipod on the front, presumably it’s maybe heavy barrel, it has a selector switch -which you can’t see because it’s on this side of the gun-, magazine fed– in reality, this thing is at least two pounds lighter than an M1. I bet this is between seven and eight pounds; I don’t have a scale to weigh it on, but, what’s actually going on here, there’s a lot cut away on the inside that you’ll see. The bulk of this flash-hider bipod assembly is made of aluminum, the butt-plate is made of aluminum, there might be some magnesium parts in there somewhere, they’ve cut every ounce possible out of this gun. And it’s really an impressive gun to handle as the result! Now, let’s just go ahead and take a closer look at it, let me take the stock off and I’ll show you some of the internals.

Alright, so the first– the most obvious difference, is that a pistol grip has been added. This didn’t involve any actual modification to the trigger group, this is actually kind of like the Baretta BM59 Garand modifications where they’ve added a pistol grip to the stock. So, pretty simple there, we’ll take it apart in a moment. A magazine has been added, they put a magazine catch at the front, which is not a bad idea, this keeps it out of the way of all the trigger assembly stuff that’s already in there. This is a custom proprietary magazine, it’s designed for 308, this is a 308 NATO gun, which suggests that it was definitely post-WW2. Now what’s interesting here is they have actually used an M1 receiver. So this is a Winchester M1, it’s a 1.6,000,000 serial number gun, but you can see when I open it, there’s a block here in the back of the receiver, because it’s a 306-length receiver with a 308-length magazine.

That was an easy way to not have to re-do a whole bunch of tooling to make 308-caliber receivers for experimental guns. No, instead we just use a 306 receiver. The extra space actually kind of helps, The bolt has a little bit farther that it can travel, and during that time, the magazine has more time to feed a cartridge up into position.

The handguard here has been beefed up a little bit, we’ll take a look at that from the inside, but first let’s take a look at the bipod.

Alright, so the main body here is this big aluminum flash-hider conical deal, the legs are spring-loaded, so I can pull the leg down, snap it into place up here like that. This does– this rotates, but it has a limited arc of rotation. Now, to take this off, all I have to do is flip this latch down like that. This whole assembly is actually locked onto the bayonet lug, very much like one of the world-war-two grenade launchers. So with that undone, this whole assembly comes off. There you can see the inside of the flash-hider, just a big cone. It locks onto the back, there’s our locking tab, pretty simple. There we go. Bipod assembley, removes quickly and easily. Now I think I mentioned, this is -I think- thin hollow-tube steel and aluminum, this whole assembley is quite lightweight by itself.

Start by taking out the magazine, set that aside, then just like a regular M1, the trigger guard opens up, the trigger assembley comes out; because of magazine conversion this has the floor plate, magazine catch, the mag catch is built right into this, it’s pretty simple, just a spring and a catch. That catch locks in this notch in the front of the magazine.

Now, we can pull the stock off just like a typical M1 again. You can see the opening in the heavier wood down here on the front handguard. Obviously, it’s been cut away a bit for the detachable magazine, that’s about it. This is also a very light piece of wood. I’ve also mentioned the Aluminum buttplate, checkered back here, so it will stick to your shoulder a bit.

Now inside here is where we’ve got a lot of interesting stuff going on. So, first off, you’ll notice, the OP-rod is completely straight, it doesn’t have a dogleg in it. That’s one of the potential weakpoints on a standard M1, that OP-rod can bend at that dogleg end, and it was a somewhat complex manufacturing step, to get the tooling set up to bend just the right dogleg into those OP-rods. Well, they got rid of that on this winchester prototype, so it runs straight backwards. The recoil spring here has been reprofiled a bit to match.

Now, this is our selector lever, and it moves this guy just a little bit up and down. It does that through this pin, which obviously has a cam surface inside here. So, that’s going to engage or disengage an auto-sear in the fire-control group. What I’m more interested in, is there’s very little ‘stuff’ back here. The front arms that you would normally have on a standard clip-fed M1 are gone, we’ve taken a look at another magazine-fed M1 that had a box added to it here to support the magazine, that’s not there. Pretty dramatic change, the bottom of the barrel has been milled flat, that gives room for this straight OP-rod, and that cuts a significant amount of weight out of the gun. Presumably they found that that didn’t have a deleterious effect on the gun being able to withstand firing, but obviously by using a box magazine, they’ve been able to get rid of all of the mechanism in here that Garrond designed for the clip-feeding and ejecting process, that’s all gone. In fact, the cutout for the clip-release is also gone, there is no clip-release on the gun.

The upper hand-guard was widened to match the lower. Over here you can see it’s a very thin piece, you can see a bit of it’s cracked off, that’s probably too thin right there, but it is a prototype rifle, so.

The action, however, is still basic all-M1 Garrond.

Well thanks for watching, guys. I hope you enjoyed the video, I wish I knew more about exactly the backstory to this rifle and how it actually performed –I don’t, unfortunately– but who knows? Maybe with some video out there, someone will be able to find some of the records, and even if they don’t, it’s a really interesting look at some of the things that could be done and -were- done to the M1 Garrond in the attempt to make it into a light machine gun. Thanks for watching, I’d like to thank the Cody Firearms Museum for letting me take a look at this, and of course, tune in again to

Sources: Forgotten Weapons Youtube, Eric Nestor, Cody Firearms Museum, Wikipedia

300 Blackout vs 556 – Which Caliber is better?

We all love the AR platform because its so reliable and as long as you keep it maintain, it can last a life time. The only drawback from this platform is the 5.56 cartridge. Some folks want a little more punch.
There have been some cartridges that have come down the pike as an alternative, but the only one that stands out is the .300 AAC Blackout.
The .300 AAC Blackout was designed to give the AR platform extra umph in terms of power and penetration on intermediate ranges with reduce recoil while holding the 30 round mag.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

Its original intent was to provide outstanding terminal performance and accuracy going through suppressed with subsonic or standard ammunition. So here are the numbers.

Strengths & Weaknesses
Both calibers are used for the same general purpose.
Both cartridges are perfect for target shooting, hunting, home defense, and plinking.
Somethings to consider from each strengths & weaknesses.


-The 5.56 is half the cost of 300 BLK and is available in more high-end loading suitable for precision rifle fire.
-The 5.56 also shoots flatter, has less recoil, and the ammunition weighs about 40% less.
-The 5.56 is also safer for use inside a building for home-defense because the rounds are designed to break apart upon impact.
.300 Blk
-The .300 Blk has a wider range of projectile choices
– Due to the .30 caliber bore, burns its full potential in a 9-inch barrel, and is a much better choice for hunting.
-Has the ability to cycle both super and subsonic ammunition without modification.
– Its strengths shines with short barreled rifles and silencers and when barrier penetration might be needed.
– Whether for hog hunting from 0-200 yards or conducting CQB work, this baby is godsend.

Back to more numbers.

The table above you can see the compared ballistics of both the 300 BLK and the 5.56 NATO.
– Shows the barrels that the cartridges were designed approximately 20-inches for the 5.56, 9-inches for the .300 BLK, and the most popular civilian barrel length of 16-inches.
Exterior ballistics are the qualities associated with how a projectile flies through the air.
**The wind drift, bullet drop, and zero range all fall into the category of exterior ballistics.**

You can tell that the 5.56 is significantly flatter than the 300 BLK in flight.
This is due to a faster velocity.
-The .300 BLK uses bullets with a higher ballistic coefficient but isn’t moving fast enough to take advantage of its sleeker projectiles.
This is why the 5.56 shoots flatter, with less wind drift although having almost half as much energy.
Terminal Ballistics

Terminal ballistics of a round are the qualities it has when it hits the target.
The sectional density, the relationship of its mass and its weight, its ability to penetrate rather than fragment, and the wound channel it creates due to its bore size are all the study of terminal ballistics. (tissue damage)
It’s important to note that while energy numbers can give you an idea of power around is, it’s only a single data point.
The stouter bullets, with more mass of a larger caliber seems to be the more effective round.

To the untrained observer the 300 BLK seems to have the edge in terminal ballistics.
So which is better?
Target shooting, training, or plinking is just plain fun.
-It can get expensive when shooting so many rounds, so this round goes to the 5.56.
-The 300 BLK’s lethality and stopping powers isn’t needed when all you’re doing is punching targets that don’t fight back.
If you’re pressed with the $ issue, stick with the 5.56.

Home Defense
For home defense, you should be thinking heavy hitters, walk softly and carry a stick chambered in 300 BLK.
-Having a suppressor with subsonic ammo in a home defense situation is ideal for your hearing.
-The .300 BLK is still great when you either can’t or care not to have NFA firearms.
-If you find yourself in a state like California defending against zombies, with a tight magazine ban and zero NFA goodies, get the bigger bullet.

With modern bullet designs the gaps between the killing power of calibers is shrinking.
-If you’re into small game, go with the 5.56. The wide range of factory loading for predator hunting edges out the 300 BLK.
-If you plan on hunting medium or large game such as deer, hogs, or smaller bears, the 300 BLK is far superior.
-The extra mass gives more reliable penetration than the 5.56.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the comparison visually from Youtuber Langley Firearms Academy.

In the End
The .300 BLK will never replace the 5.56 for the most ubiquitous AR-15 cartridge but it does have some key areas where it really shines.
Let us know below when you can think of a time where you wished your AR-15 had some “umph” to it?