DPMS AP4 LR-308

At first glance, looks like the M4 Carbine, but Looks can be Deceiving

Half a century ago, boards were formed and studies commissioned to find a replacement for the .30-cal. cartridges employed in U.S. military service rifles. The goal was to develop a high-velocity, small-caliber cartridge in a lightweight rifle. Eventually, a spin-off of a successful varmint round, the .223 Rem. (5.56×45 mm NATO) cartridge, was selected, and Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 rifle was re-engineered, scaled down to accept the .223 and named the AR-15. The selective-fire rifle was adopted first by the Air Force, and then by the Army and Marine Corps, and dubbed the M16. In the past, rifles chambered in .308 Win, such as the M14/M1A and AR-10 variants, have been reclaiming their place on the battlefield as special-purpose rifles for designated marksmen.

DPMS Panther Arms has been one of the manufacturers leading the resurgence of AR-10-style rifles with its Long Range 308 line. Now, in response to the need for smaller, faster and lighter carbines, DPMS has released its newest innovation, the AP4 LR-308. A compact version of the Long Range 308 rifle, the AP4 LR-308 is, at first glance, a ringer for its little brother, the M4 carbine. But looks can be deceiving.

Much was done to the LR-308 platform in order to trim it down. The milled billet 6061-T6 aluminum lower receiver remained the same, but the extruded 6066-T6 aluminum upper underwent a face-lift. In order to meet the requirements for the Army’s Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), DPMS added a brass deflector to the new generation LR-308 and incorporated the now-familiar forward assist into the backside of the brass deflector. Unlike the AR-15/M16A2 design, the AP4 LR-308 forward assist engages the flat surface on the back of the enlarged bolt carrier rather than a series of cuts milled into the side of the carrier.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

A detachable A2-style rear sight (Fig. 1) was supplied on the AP4 LR-308 mounted to the receiver’s top Picatinny rail.

The bolt and chromed bolt carrier differ in size and design from familiar AR-15 components. We installed an optional 308 Miculek Compensator (Fig. 3) for part of our testing, and it tamed perceived recoil to almost .223-like levels.

Inside the LR-308 bolt, the standard single extractor spring was swapped out for a two-spring system in order to enhance reliability. Incorporating a standard six-position collapsible stock with the LR-308?s longer bolt carrier required a mini buffer that measures 3/4 inches less than a standard carbine buffer.

308_barrel

The AP4 LR-308 barrel is of 4140 chrome-moly steel and sports a standard M4 contour beyond the front-sight assembly. Underneath the handguard, however, the barrel has a heavy profile, measuring nearly an inch in diameter.

The standard AP4 LR-308 handguard is a ribbed aluminum free-float tube, but our test rifle arrived with an optional DPMS four-rail, free-floated handguard. Due to the increased diameter of the barrel extension and the barrel nut, standard AR-15 handguards will not fit the AP4 LR-308. Also included on our test rifle was a detachable A2-style rear sight, which was attached to the Picatinny rail system on top of the upper receiver.



The fit and finish of our test rifle were exceptional. The take-down pins were remarkably tight, as was the upper-to-lower receiver fit. DPMS’ Teflon finish on the hard-coat anodized aluminum was smooth and uniform, as was the chrome plating on the bolt carrier, firing pin and retaining pin.
4x16_scope
For accuracy testing, we used a 4-16X variable scope with a fine reticle. We used three different brands of match ammunition from Federal, Hornady and Black Hills. It favored the 168-gr. Hornady AMAX Match loads, producing groups as small as 0.68 inches at 100 yards. The AP4, with its 16-inch barrel, produced an overall average of just smaller than a minute of angle (1.047 inches) with the three brands of ammunition.

Throughout the testing, we used just one 20-round magazine. It was one of the new steel magazines for the LR-308 platform from DPMS, which replaced the company’s old plastic 10-round units. Throughout several hundred rounds, the AP4 LR-308 functioned reliably. Of the three malfunctions we experienced, the magazine failed to sufficiently engage the bolt stop twice when it was empty. A single stoppage was a short stroke that prevented a cartridge from being picked up. Upon opening the rifle up, the reason was obvious, the three gas rings on the bolt had aligned.

Looking at the bolt after a hard day on the range presented another surprise. We expected to see a lot of carbon build-up on the back of the bolt, as is usually the case on short-barreled AR-15s, but there really wasn’t any on the AP4.
Side-by-side the AP4 LR-308 and the M4 look almost identical, but inside the AP4 LR-308 is a powerhouse. While it’s not touted as a sub-m.o.a. rifle, our AP4 had the accuracy to match.

Here’s Youtuber 1957Shep taking this for a run.




Top 10 Warmest Winter Hunting Clothes

If you plan on doing some extreme hunting this upcoming winter, make sure to check out these warm winter hunting clothing out there. There’s nothing worse than finally getting to your hunting spot, only to be freezing cold 20 minutes later. This is the modern day not the old days, you can find some of the warmest winter hunting apparel on the market.
Not all of the best hunting ranches are located in nice, warm weather climates. No matter if you’re hunting in Alaska or the brutal winters of New England, you’ll be grateful for the warmth these pieces provide.
Not only do they help you stay toasty, but you’ll be able to hunt longer and harder, increasing your chance of another great harvest.

  1. Cabela’s Stand Hunter Extreme Parka
    Cabela’s Stand Hunter Extreme Parka is a must-have for anyone who hunts in extreme winter weather. Designed with both Woolitimate fabric and Thinsulate Platinum insulation, this parka keeps you warmer than you can imagine. To ensure warmth, yet cut down on bulk, Cabela’s varies the level of insulation to give you warmth where you need it most.
    The parka features 150-gram Thinsulate throughout, with 200 grams surrounding your core and 300 grams down your spine and around the kidneys to help heat the areas that impact the rest of your body. With a removable 150-gram Thinsulate hand warming muff, two chest hand warmer pockets and a removable hood, even your appendages stay toasty warm.
  2. Cabela’s MT050 Whitetail Extreme GORE-TEX Parka for Men – Price: $299.99 $309.99
    Continually evolving with cutting-edge innovations, the Cabelas\u00ae MT050\u00ae Whitetail Extreme\u00ae GORE-TEX\u00ae Parka for Men delivers the best hunting parka for wet- and cold-weather hunting.



  3. Bulk Ammo In-Stock

  4. Core4Element Elevation Jacket
    The Core4Element Elevation Jacket features Down Tek’s 700-fill power Canada Goose down to keep you warm and dry even in the harshest of conditions. The Canada Goose down is not only a great insulator, but it keeps on working even if it’s wet and is lightweight enough it doesn’t hold you back. The water-repellent finish keeps water out and heat in, even during the pouring rain. With extra features like a fleece-lined collar and inside hand warmer pockets, this jacket will soon become the one you grab when the weather is at its worst.
  5. Mycore Control Heated Jacket
    The Mycore Control Heated Jacket features two heating elements strategically placed to keep you warm. With one at the pulse point on each wrist, your hands and core stay warm, even when it’s brutal outside. With three different levels, you can find the right level of heat no matter what the weather. And with a two lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that last up to 12 hours, it can keep you warm no matter how long you stay in the woods.
  6. Under Armour Timber Jacket for Men – Ridge Reaper Camo Barren – $250.00
    Engineered for powerful warmth during thoseong whitetail sits, the Under Armour\u00ae Timber Jacket for Men comes through in the most extreme conditions. But that doesn’t mean this Under Armour hunting jacket feels heavy or makes too much noise.

  7. Cabela’s MT050 Whitetail Extreme GORE-TEX Pants for Men – Cabela’s O2 Octane – 48 $259.99
    Continually evolving with cutting-edge innovations, Cabelas MT050 Whitetail Extreme\u00ae GORE-TEX\u00ae Pants deliver the best hunting pants for wet- and cold-weather hunting. Weve improved these Cabelas hunting bibs with the reduced bulk of Adva

  8. LaCrosse AlphaBurly Pro Hunting Boots for Men – Mossy Oak Break-Up Country – $169.99
    A smart pick for scent-free, waterproof hunting,aCrosse\u00ae AlphaBurly Pro Waterproof Hunting Boots keep feet comfortable and hunters focused on the hunt. Handcrafted rubber-over-neoprene construction provides warm, scent suppressing, waterproof.

  9. Sitka Coldfront Bib Pants
    The Sitka coldfront Bib Pants use innovative technology to keep you warm. Designed with a special three layer GORE-TEX shell, it blocks wind and water, while retaining your body heat to keep you warm.
    The micro-grid fleece lining adds extra insulation while wicking away moisture. The high back and reinforced seat keep snow and wind from blowing into your clothes, ensuring you stay warm and dry. With optional bib straps, these can be worn as pants or bibs. These pants also feature Opti-Fade camo, based on how animals see, making you nearly invisible in the woods.
  10. Cabela’s Stand Hunter Extreme Coveralls
    If you’re looking for a coverall, these are the pair you need to have. Cabela’s Stand Hunter Extreme Coveralls are engineered to keep you warm even in the extreme cold. By using its Zone Insulation System, these coveralls vary the Thinsulate level to give you the warmth you need, while still allowing you room to move. They feature 150-gram Thinsulate Platinum insulation throughout, with 200 grams surrounding your core, 300 grams down your spine and kidneys and 500-gram insulation on the seat to ensure you’re warm no matter what it’s like outside. And with a removable hand muff, hood and hand warmer pockets, you’re comfortable no matter what.
  11. Sitka GORE OPTIFADE Concealment Waterfowl Timber Hudson Jacket for Men – 2XL – In Stock
    The Sitka® GORE® OPTIFADE™ Concealment Waterfowl Timber Hudson Jacket for Men brings precision engineering for extended exposure to wet and frigid conditions. This Sitka jacket additionally provides optimal mobility for easy, accurate shooting. Innovative GORE-TEX® with STRETCH technology and body-mapped insulation across the shoulders and neck ensure not only weatherproof protection but reliable warmth without excess weight or bulk. The Sitka GORE OPTIFADE Concealment Waterfowl Timber Hudson Jacket for Men moves with the hunter for unhindered shooting and uncompromising shielding from the elements. Updated body-mapped PrimaLoft Insulation—60-gram in the shoulders and 40-gram in the sleeves and body—maximizes heat retention without sacrificing mobility, allowing the shooter to engage birds effortlessly. Machine wash. Imported.Manufacturer style #: 50204. 100% polyester Body-mapped GORE-TEX® with Stretch technology PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation: 60-gram across shoulders, 40-gram in sleeves and body Sculpted hood for visibility High handwarmer pockets 2 chest and shell pockets Magnetic tuck-away call pockets Water-sealing cuffs.

  12. Sitka Blizzard Bib Pants
    Keep yourself warm and dry with Sitka Blizzard Bib Pants. With 650-fill power white duck down and PermaLoft Down Blend Silver insulation, these pants blend two of the best insulators out there to bring you a pair that won’t let you down. Not only do they keep you warm even in the roughest of conditions, but with GORE-TEX laminate and a water repellent finish, these pants keep you dry on the outside while wicking material keeps you dry on the inside. With extra features like a high back, reinforced seat, cargo pockets and side zips, these pants are a must have for anyone who hunts in extreme conditions.
  13. Cabela’s Wooltimate Ninja Hood
    If you’re looking for complete coverage, consider Cabela’s Wooltimate Ninja Hood. Made from Cabela’s unique Wooltimate fabric, it’s the perfect blend of warm wool and soft Berber fleece. Add in 100 grams of Thinsulate insulation and odor-resistant Polartec Power Dry grid fleece lining, and you’ll be amazed at how warm and comfortable this hood is to wear. With complete head and neck coverage, nothing but your eyes are exposed, ensuring you stay warm during your whole hunt.
  14. Cabela’s Instinct Stand Hunter Parka for Men with SCENTINEL Scent Control Technology and 4MOST DRYPLUS – $199.99
    When it’s time for muscle memory to take over, you need to be able to trust your instinct. The Cabela’s\u00ae Instinct Stand Hunter Parka for Men with SCENTINEL Scent Control Technology and 4MOST DRYPLUS delivers the most trustworthy men’s hunting jacket.

  15. RedHead Mountain Stalker Elite Parka for Men – TrueTimber Kanati – LT – $169.99
    The RedHead\u00ae Silent Stalker Elite Parka for Men is ready for the coldest hunts with 100% polyester construction, Thermolite\u00ae Micro Insulation: 200-gram in the torso, 150-gram in the sleeves, and the famous BONE-DRY\u00ae 100% waterproof/windproof.

  16. Under Armour Ridge Reaper Alpine Ops Parka for Men – Ridge Reaper Camo Barren – 3XL – $280.
    When warmth matters as much as agility and ruggedness, step up to the Under Armour\u00ae Ridge Reaper\u00ae Alpine Ops Parka for Men. This precision-engineered Under Armour hunting jacket brings 800-fill-power goose-down insulation for extreme warmth

  17. Cabela’s Stand Hunter Gloves for Men – $69.99
    If you’re interested in trying mitts, Cabela’s Canadian Stand Hunter Gloves keep you warm no matter what. With over 1,000 grams Thinsulate Ultra insulation, it doesn’t matter what Mother Nature throws at you, you’ll be ready. These 3-in-1 gloves come with a removable power-stretch inner liner that features Data-Tip technology, allowing you to use your touchscreen phone without having to take off layers and expose skin to the elements.
    The outer mitten’s all-weather grip palms not only allow you to grab onto things, it also stops saturation even in the pouring rain. The mitts’ feature trigger finger zippers to give you easy access when it’s time to pull the trigger. And the extended cuffs and two-way wrist cinches will stop cold air, wind, and snow from traveling up and under the fabric.
    Designed and field-tested as the ideal gloves for warmth and readiness in brutally cold conditions, Cabelas\u00ae Stand Hunter Gloves for Men have you coveredike nothing else on the market. 3M\u2122 Thinsulate\u2122 Insulation\u20141,000

Some FAQ’s
What are the warmest hunting clothes?
According to the internet the following extreme garment will keep you toasty allowing you to hunt longer and harder:
  • Cabela’s Men’s MT050® Whitetail Extreme® GORE-TEX® Parka
  • Under Armour® Men’s Timber Jacket
  • Cabela’s Outfitter’s Wooltimate Jacket with 4MOST WINDSHEAR
  • Sitka® Men’s Downpour Pants.
If you’re ready to head out for some duck hunting, go here to see some Top Duck Hunting Jackets.

Sources: Cabelas, Flickr/Tom K, Molly Carter



Rockin’ The Reptiles

Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV Derringer

Story and photographs by Tom Claycomb III

I’ve never classified a gun as a fun gun to shoot, but that’s how I would describe the double-barreled Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV derringer. Bond makes a variety of calibers and styles, but I decided to go with the IV due to the longer 4¼-inch barrel, which I had hoped would be a bit more accurate, have less recoil and tighter groups.

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The Snake Slayer IV can handle .45 Long Colts and 2¾- and 3-inch .410s. I guess it was really designed as a concealed-carry gun, but I wanted to use it against snakes while fishing. It would also be good for shooting big halibut before you boat them. A .410 will do the job nicely and not ricochet.

PHOTO 2 IMGP5722-min
The first time I shot the Snake Slayer IV, my daughter Kolby joined me. Just as I set up a target, a ground squirrel ran out. I had a 2 ¾ ounce No.6 chambered and killed it at 20 feet.
Every time my daughter Kolby and I go fishing in Oregon, we see rattlesnakes. One year I heard her scream – a snake had jumped in the boat with us. On another trip on a river in Idaho, I saw six rattlesnakes and one of those floated right by me. That would have caused panic if it had tried to crawl up on the driest thing around, which was my head!

While in town, I originally thought to carry my Slayer with .45 Long Colts, but then I tested the new Winchester PDX-1 shells. Wow, they’re bad – in a good way! They have four discs and 16 BBs. They would stop a bad guy in his tracks. I shot various loads through the gun, and the first time I used the PDX-1 it made my jaw drop. It was noticeably devastating.

Snake SlayerBond SSIV
The Snake Slayer IV can interchange 20 barrels for a range of 25 different calibers.
The first rattle out of the box with a .45 Long Colt, I managed a 2½-inch group at 10 and 15 feet using Hornady’s 185-grain Critical Defense ammo. That would be more than enough to stop a bad guy – that’s a big bullet! But, like I said before, my main use for this gun would be to shoot snakes, and after shooting a .410 with No. 6 shot, I found that it had a wicked pattern, so I’m pretty confident it would work as a self-protection load as well.



When I took my Slayer out for some extensive shooting, I managed a 4-inch group at 15 feet, but I’m not renowned for being a great pistol shot. I then shot groups of two out of the same barrel and managed 2-inch groups, so there is a little variation between barrels, as you would imagine. Not a big factor, though, because it’s a short-range weapon.
I need to point out that the gun is diverse because you can interchange 20 different barrels, or 25 different calibers with one base unit. That has to make these one of the most versatile guns on the market.

It is a heavy, nice-looking and well-made duty pistol designed to last for generations. I also love that it has an equally nice and heavy-duty leather holster that is form-fitted with a latch to hold the gun securely.

Bond Arms has transformed the lowly derringer into a linebacker. AmSJ

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While fishing, a watersnake swam within a foot of me. This is why I carry the Snake Slayer IV. IT can readily be used as a great concealed-carry gun too.


Sig MPX 9mm – Accurate Adaptation

SIG Sauer’s 9mm Pistol feels both new and familiar within the MPX line.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

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

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.
The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.
An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.
 A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.
A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

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

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

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

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.
The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

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

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

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.
With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.
Here’s Rob Pincus checking out the Sig MPX 9mm at Reno Guns & Range back in 2019


Review: VERTX EDC Ready Pack

Any dedicated carry bag will be a slightly less covert method of transporting a rifle simply due to the advertising around its intended purpose. However, the VERTX EDC Gamut Plus does not overtly market the backpack as a rifle bag and does an excellent job of staying low profile while offering a feature-rich backpack.

When transporting firearms to the range, this bag can allow for easy transport without catching the eyes of your neighbors. The great feature of this pack is the ability for it to quickly adapt and transition between covert and overt while truly filling both rolls.

Construction and Observations

The EDC Gamut Plus comes in Greener Pastures, Smoke Grey, and Black and retails for $219.95. The bag appears very durable, constructed of 220/310 Cordura material, and uses YKK zippers. I purchased the bag for a low profile means of transporting SBRs and pistol AR’s. The dimensions are 24”x16”x9”. The 24” dimension is very important as many bags do not offer this great of a height and therefore significantly limit your options for carrying a rifle. After testing I found that up to a 14.5” upper would fit inside the bag when broken down.

 

While a 16″ upper was a little too long, a 14.5″ upper with a short muzzle device would most likely fit.

The bag held an assembled PWS Mk107 with a 7.75” barrel. This did require the use of a Maxim PDW brace as that shortened overall length by 1.545”.

 

A PWS MK111 with an MK107 upper can fit fully assembled in the pack.

 

The MK111 pistol with the 11.85″ barrel will fit well when broken down.

This brought total overall length to just under 22.75”. While I do not have a LAW Tactical folder to test folding AR’s, a 10” AK with a folding stock fit well with approximately 1.5” to spare when in the bag at an angle. This 1.5” should make up for the length added by a LAW Tactical folder.

 

A side folding AK with a 10″ barrel fits well in the bag with room to spare.

All measurements above pertain to the large main pocket in the bag. The main compartment also has a zipper stop on both sides to allow for added privacy when searching through the main compartment. These can also be readily unsnapped to access content in a timely fashion.

 

Zipper stops offer the ability to only open the top of the bag for added privacy.

Mesh pockets and micro Velcro line the interior of the largest compartment. The mesh pockets are divided by zippers and offer great storage options for medical gear, extra magazines, laptop chargers, etc.

 

The mesh pockets provide organized compartments for smaller gear.

There is also a well-padded laptop compartment that was designed to fit up to a 17” laptop. I have used this pocket primarily for extra rifle magazines and it has worked well. Inside the pocket is more micro Velcro that can be used in conjunction with other Vertx accessories for better organization and retention.

 

The laptop compartment is well padded to protect your electronics.

The quick access pocket in the back of the bag is a cool concept but difficult to match with a larger weapon system. A standard pistol would work well in this compartment, however, a stabilized pistol often is too long or too wide if using a folder.

 

This pocket would be excellent for a small sub gun styled firearm, but it definitely works better for collapsible stocks and braces due to their thinner profile.

 

Notice the bulge in the back of the pack due to the thickness of the brace.

A folder does work, but is uncomfortable on the back and pushes out the pocket in a way that the pocket was obviously not designed. There is a zipper that allows access to the backing panel.

 

This zipper could allow the user to add a ballistic plate.

This panel adds structure and stability to the bag but can be removed and replaced with a ballistic plate for added protection.

There are also two water bottle pockets on both sides. Inside the pockets is a cinch cord to retain the bottles by placing the elastic cord around the bottle. These were designed for 27oz (to 32oz) Nalgene bottles can be stowed but are difficult task to fit.

 

Notice the retention lanyard around the bottle.

Side pockets are also available beneath the water bottle compartments on each side. These work well for cell phones, pens, wallets, and other flat items.

 

More pockets to organize small, flat items.

On top of the bag is a zippered pocket Vertx refers to as an admin pouch. This pouch is a nylon pouch without padding and is great for carrying small items you need to have in a convenient location without searching deeper into the backpack. I like to keep an extra set of Surefire Sonic Defender earplugs, sunglasses, compression bandages, or a cell phone charger. It also includes a small lanyard with a clip to attach keys, identification, etc.

 

This pocket offers quick access to a few small items on top of the bag.

A key component of any backpack system is the shoulder straps. The shoulder straps on the Gamut Plus are well padded, with 1919 straps that run along the shoulder straps and allow for attachment of added tools or pouches if needed.

There is a removable sternum strap included. Keepers are also included at the bottom to manage the excess straps at the bottom of the bag once the straps have been fit to the user. A waist strap is attached for those wanting added stability.

An incredible design feature of the Gamut Plus is the outermost pocket. The outmost pocket can be unzipped and the shell of the pocket can be stuffed into the bottom stow area. This allows for an overt package with quick access to gear attached to the molle and provides identification patches to be attached to the Velcro.

 

Open the Velcro at the bottom of the bag.

 

Push the shell into the pocket.

 

Velcro shut the bottom and you have an overt exterior that is convertible in seconds.

A medkit or magazines could be attached to the MOLLE segments, but there are minor stability issues if the large pocket is not filled.

 

A small Dark Angel IFAK and FASTMag are attached to the MOLLE.

Since there is not a firm backer to the outermost pocket, the weight from the mag holders or other accessories can pull outward instead of remaining perfectly vertical. The “shell” also has G hooks that can be attached to the loops on the side of the pack.

 

Notice the G-Hooks attached to the outer shell.

Other large items can be then retained such as a ballistic or motorcycle helmet thanks to this sling load system. The outer shell is also able to somewhat expand in an accordion fashion while also compressing down to a small size when not in use.

Conclusion

While many bags only do one job well or many things poorly, the VERTX EDC Gamut Plus seems to break the rule. I experienced no durability issues, SBRs and stabilized pistols were retained well, and the only issue with the pockets is that you may lose gear due to the multitude of pockets! The outer appearance is definitely disguised well and could truthfully also be used for standard school or office activities as well. Next time you are looking for a backpack you should definitely check out theVERTX EDC Gamut PLUS.

Photos from Marlena Michaels Photography

Review: Buffalo Bore “Full-Power” 30 Carbine Ammo

A Classic One

The Following Excerpt is a review by Rusty of Firearm Blog.

There are millions of United States Carbine, .30, M1 Carbines out there.  There’s a lot more to these light, handy, and once-affordable carbines than one might think if one hasn’t handled them before.  Despite their oft-repeated combat ineffectiveness, they make a well balanced and light home defense carbine.  I personally know someone who uses the M1 as their carbine of choice for such a purpose.  My personal version is a papered, 1943-dated carbine of General Motors manufacture.  While I enjoy taking it to the range, the .30 Carbine ammunition that I’ve been able to get for it  has been somewhat low-powered.  I’ve often wondered if I had to use this carbine for defensive purposes, what would be available as quality ammunition for such a purpose?

More power

When looking for higher-powered ammo, usually Buffalo Bore is one of the first places I check.  As a customer, I appreciate their posted velocities being tested out of standard length barrels.  I also have verified many of their velocities from various calibers and they are always true to the claim, unlike some other manufacturers.  Buffalo Bore did indeed have some “Full Power+ 30 M1 Carbine” loads, moving at 2100 fps.  I decided to try a few boxes to see if it performed as claimed.  BB (Buffalo Bore) has FMJ, Soft Point, and JHP loads in 110 grain, but only the FMJ and SP loads were available at the time I ordered them.  Most of these rounds run $28.79 for a box of 20.  While more expensive than the average of 30-40 cents per plinking round, they offer a different level of capability.

Old and new packaging

 

Left: Old style packaging with FMJ
Right: New Packaging with SPRN

New Box Buffalo Bore

Newer hard plastic packaging from Buffalo Bore

Full Power+ FMJ
Full Power + FMJ

Cold, Hard Data:


Once I received the ammunition, I went to the range with my Carbine, a Magnetospeed V3 Chronograph, the BB Full Power+ ammo and some Remington UMC for comparison.  Temperatures were in the high teens and low 20’s for the duration of my testing.  Note: This is not as in-depth an ammunition test as Andrew’s gelatin tests.  I do not have a good setup for gelatin testing.    Testing was done prone, off a front rest.  First off was the Remington UMC 110gr FMJ that I use for plinking with this carbine.  I obtained the following data:

Remington UMC .30 Carbine 110gr, velocity in fps:

  • Max: 1936
  • Min: 1885
  • Avg: 1906
  • ME: 850 ft/lbs
  • Energy@ 100Y: 587 ft/lbs
    Carbine with chronograph

I then switched over to the Buffalo Bore FMJ load.   Right away, I noted that recoil was a bit more pronounced.  Cartridge ejection also varied greatly from the Remington ammo.  The Remington cases ejected to my 3-4 o’clock position, while the BB cases ejected to my 1 o’clock (and quite a bit farther).  There were no malfunctions with this ammunition using the 15-round surplus magazine.  The BB load yielded the following data:

Buffalo Bore Full Power+ 30 M1 Carbine 110gr FMJ, velocity in fps:

  • Max: 2128
  • Min: 2087
  • Avg: 2110
  • ME:  1082 ft/lbs
  • Energy @ 100y: 740 Ft/lbs

This average velocity is extremely close to, though a bit more, than Buffalo Bore’s stated velocity of 2100fps.  Once again, I have always found them to be truthful about their velocities.

A note on accuracy:

While groups at 100 yards were a bit tighter with the BB ammo than with the Remington ammo, this is a pretty old carbine.  Although its bore and rifling are in pretty good condition given its use and age, surplus M1 Carbines are known to on average produce 3-4 MOA groups, depending on barrel band and recoil plate fit.  Both groups fired were within this average, and nothing to write home about.

Calculating conclusions:

There are other options for defensive .30 carbine ammunition out there.  Hornady makes a FTX version in their critical defense line, and IWI .30 carbine SP ammo is also available.  These two loads do not approach the BB ammo in terms of velocity and energy, however.  Only the Underwood/Lehigh 85gr “extreme cavitation” round approaches the velocity of the BB round, but does not match the muzzle energy.  To put the BB load’s muzzle energy in perspective, 1082 ft/lbs is roughly comparable to a Federal .357 Magnum 158gr JHP out of a similar length barrel.

The Buffalo Bore ammo proved it was more powerful than the standard M1 Carbine ammo.  In fact, the Full Power+ ammo has as much energy at 65y as the Remington UMC ammo had at the muzzle.  If one uses the M1 Carbine as a defensive arm, one would be much better served by the BB ammo for such purposes.  I would recommend the use of the SP or FMJ rounds if one can find them.  Though pricier than standard plinking ammo, it is always wise to use the best rounds available for one’s purpose.  If one is looking for a good defensive round for the .30 carbine, take a look at Buffalo Bore.  It’d be a great load for one’s Magal, Automag III, Cristóbal, Franchi LF-58, Kimball, or for the good old United States Carbine.

Buffalo Bore’s .30 Carbine Soft Point Round Nose Ammo

For more information, please visit Buffalo Bore.

GUN REVIEW: Czech Out This Gun – vz58

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

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

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

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

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

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Czechpoint USA’s vz. 58 Carbine in 7.62×39 is the equivalent of the Czech automatic weapon model 58 with a few modifications: an extended 16-inch barrel with shroud and the automatic capability removed.
THE RIFLE FEEDS SOFT-POINT and hollow-point ammunition reliably. So far, the best defensive loads I found are Corbon DPX, G2 Trident Ripout and Federal Powershock. All give substantial expansion – up to 0.9 inches with Trident – and 16 to 20 inches of gel penetration. While the vz58 classic has no flash hider, it produces minimal illumination with these loads. The tactical model comes with a needlessly concussive pinned-and-welded muzzle brake best replaced with a flash hider by a gunsmith. Vz58 is very suppressor friendly, despite the gas system without a manual regulator. One of the demo rifles used by Czechpoint is a short-barreled suppressed version that they run very hot during range events.
Vz58 appears to be what the Ruger Mini-30 was supposed to become, a light and handy .30-caliber carbine for short-range use. It fills the same niche as the M1 carbine, providing a little less accuracy but more power. The vz58 handles out of proportion to its specifications and proved reliable with a wide variety of ammunition. It’s one of the most pleasant intermediate cartridge rifles in range use, and I recommend it as one of the basic choices for self-defense.

Here’s Youtuber Larry Vickers running the Vz58.

AmSJ



Chiappa Little Badger

Chiappa’s Little Badger Survival Rifle

 
Review and photographs by Frank Jardim
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The Chiappa Little Badger weighs less than 3 pounds and has an overall expanded length of 31 inches.
 
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The Little Badger is rugged and mechanically simple, just as any perfect survival rifle should be.

I first encountered the Chiappa Little Badger single-shot, I pegged it as a survival rifle. It comes in basic black, either in 22LR or 22WMR, both of which are fine for small game. With an overall length of 31 inches, it is already small, but it also folds over and onto itself, creating an extremely compact triangle about 16.5 inches tall and 8 inches across the base. It weighs less than 3 pounds, making it only slightly heavier than large center-fire pistols.

The Little Badger’s overall design principal is minimalistic. The Chiappa engineers gave the little gun everything it needs but resisted the temptation to load it down with things it didn’t.



For example, it has no foregrip other than four 4-inch pieces of Picatinny tactical rail attached to the flats of the barrel shroud. They form a good gripping surface and give the shooter a place to mount a 4X scope and perhaps a tactical light for hunting nocturnal creatures, like raccoons and opossums. If you mount a scope, the factory offers a horizontal bar you can attach to the grooved thumb portion of the hammer that lets you cock it from either side of the scope. Also, there is no safety other than a half-cock notch on the hammer. A survival rifle should be rugged, and mechanically simple. The Little Badger fits the bill.



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The Little Badger has an exposed hammer and is a break-open-action single-shot with a robust ejector that can lift the spent case halfway out of the chamber. The action is unlocked by pulling back on the finger lever in front of the trigger guard and bending the muzzle down at the hinge.

The factory sights are M1 Carbine-style fixed front with an adjustable rear. The large knob allows for precise click adjustments for windage, and elevation is adjusted using a sliding rear aperture that has six different positions, four of which are numbered, but this slide can easily be pushed out of place if you aren’t careful. The sights, like the rail, ammunition holder and buttplate, are made of plastic, which didn’t appeal to me, but this is not an expensive rifle with an MSRP of $225, and they worked fine. My only concern is that they might not prove durable enough for long-term field use. Then again, my testing was not destructive and these parts might prove fully adequate. The rifle’s receiver, barrel shroud and trigger guard are made of hard zinc alloy. The hammer, trigger, action-release lever, extractor, all the screws and pins, barrel and wire buttstock are made of steel.

The wire buttstock was surprisingly comfortable, and its length and comb height can be adjusted to a limited degree by loosening the screws that hold the left and right sides of the receiver, pulling the upper and lower legs of the stock in or out, and then retightening. I found that my eye naturally lined up with the sights, so I didn’t change a thing.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

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A practical feature on this Chiappa is the 12-cartridge holder built into the buttstock. The simple friction-fit slots hold the rounds steady, but is not so tight that the bullets couldn’t be knocked loose if you dropped the rifle on a hard surface or went thrashing through the brush.

During accuracy testing, I shot from a sandbag rest at 25 yards. To get shots on my point of aim, I set the elevation slide to “2.” My best results came from Winchester 22LR, 36-grain, copper-plated hollow points, which turned out an average group size of 1.42 inches and an average velocity of 1,199 feet per second, measured 12 feet from the muzzle. A close second was the Federal Lightning 22LR 40-grain, solid lead bullet, which turned out groups averaging 1.54 inches and an average velocity of 1,204 fps. I experimented by plinking with a mixed bag of loose ammo that I had accumulated over the years and found that the rifle seemed to shoot quite well overall. I started to feel as though I couldn’t miss with it, which I credit to an excellent trigger. This is a survival rifle with a target rifle’s trigger. It breaks crisply at just under 5 pounds. Tin cans, milk jug caps, broken PEZ dispensers and squirrels, beware! There is a new sheriff in town and it is a Little Badger.

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The barrel comes handily threaded at a half inch by 28 threads per inch for a suppressor.

I had a lot of fun shooting this rifle. In the process of evaluating it, I concluded that this is a great rifle to teach youngsters to shoot with. Its small scale and light weight made it easy for them to hold. It is a single shot, which takes a lot of the is-that-magazine-empty anxiety out of the instructional process. Using the round ammo holder in the stock, young students feel they have responsibility for their rounds, and allows you to visually keep track of it so no one ends up having unauthorized ammo for show-and-tell back at school. We all know these days that that will lead to expulsion from school for the student, and potential life imprisonment for you.



In many respects, this rifle is a reincarnation of the old Quackenbush and other youth bicycle rifles. Inexpensive, small, light, collapsible for easy transport and intended for fun wherever a kid’s (or grown-up’s) feet might pedal them, this type of rifle was very popular around 1900. The Little Badger even comes with its own light nylon backpack carrying case, adorned with a Little Badger head. The Chiappa Little Badger is a kid-sized gun that any boy or girl could easily learn to shoot with, and then keep for the rest of their lives. AmSJ

Author’s note: You can get more information on this and other Chiappa products at Chiappafirearms.com

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GUN REVIEW: Volquartsen’s .22LR Featherweight

Volquartsen’s .22LR Featherweight

Review and photographs by Oleg Volk

The original function of the basic Ruger 10-22 was reliable shooting with passable accuracy. Over time more specialized models appeared, such as heavy-barreled target versions for utmost accuracy, and lightweight take-down designs for portability. Gunmaker Scott Volquartsen’s genius was to find a way to combine light weight with high accuracy. His UltraLite .22 is a featherweight even by rimfire standards, with the barreled action massing under 2.5 pounds, and the lightest of the stocks adding less than a pound to that. The lighter weight is mainly attributed to the materials used for the barrel: a carbon-fiber tube with a thin steel liner.

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Eight-year-old competitive marksman Alexis Nicole sporting her Volquartsen UltraLite weighing in at just under 3.5 pounds.


Carbon fiber has been used in the aerospace industry since the 1970s. Light, strong and distinctive looking, it has more recently become the prestigious and coveted component of fast cars, super-light bicycles, portable but rigid camera tripods and last, but not least, competition rifles. Thermal expansion of carbon-fiber parts is half steel and a third aluminum. That’s a great plus for all carbon-fiber constructions, but presents additional challenges to mixed-metal and composite designs. The same challenges are, of course, present whenever any two materials are mixed in an area subject to intense heat. More importantly for the shooters, carbon fiber conducts heat half as quickly as steel and nearly ten times slower than aluminum, protecting the shooter’s hands from burns. Wood insulates even better, but a much greater thickness is required for the same strength. The insulating quality of the material is terrific for hunters who don’t subject their barrels to intense heat. This is also true for rimfire shooters whose guns burn miniscule amounts of powder with each shot.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

alex_volquartsen_ultralite_BDM50rd_DSC7361hires-minOn the down side, carbon-fiber composites are expensive, and machining them uses up drill bits fast! That’s partly the reason why the Volquartsen UltraLite lists for $1,100. The other is the adjustable 2-pound trigger which, by itself, sells for $260. The fit and finish of this gun is far ahead of the standard 10-22, which the UltraLite shares an overall design with, but the details are much finer. The muzzle, for example, may be threaded for a sound suppressor or for Volquartsen’s well-designed muzzle brakes. Since the 22LR has little recoil, much of the brake function is to divert the noise of the report away from the shooter. Other options include extended magazine releases, numerous hard-anodized colors, a variety of stocks, and either a Picatinny rail or threaded holes for direct mounting of the industry-standard C-More red-dot sight. All said and done, one of these rifles will cost from $1,400 to $2,000. What kind of performance would you get for that much money?

Practical accuracy is often unachievable even with mechanically accurate lightweight rifles because pulling the trigger would disturb the aim. With the crisp, highly adjustable triggers of the UltraLite, the entire potential of the precision barrel proved easy to realize with good ammunition. With bulk loss-leader cartridges, groups were as huge as 2 inches at 25 yards. The CCI Mini mags shot slightly better than 1-inch groups at 25. Eley Match grouped pretty much on top of each other, with 2/3-inch groups at 50 yards! It pays to put premium ammunition into this premium gun. The other contributor to accuracy is the rigid laminate thumbhole stock, which locks the rifle securely to the shooter’s hold.



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Without the advent of technology and lightweight options like Volquartsen’s UltraLite, the next generation of competitive shooters would possibly have to wait a few more years before starting out.

The emphasis on weight becomes important in two venues: hunting and competition. Meant mainly for rimfire steel challenge and similar fast-paced disciplines, the UltraLite swings quickly and easily. The greatest benefit accrues to kids and smaller-statured women. With Blackhawk Axiom’s collapsible stock and a red-dot sight, the UltraLite used by eight-year-old competitive marksman Alexis Nicole is still under 3.5 pounds, and fits her tiny frame perfectly. When she grows up, the same stock extended will still fit her. For now, variable length means the ability to fine tune the length of pull for standing, sitting or prone positions. Without the carbon-fiber barrel, she would have had to use a thin, sportier-weight steel barrel, get less accuracy and still struggle with more weight up front.

Lightweight rifles also give an advantage to hunters who use bigger scopes and sound suppressors. Even with a hefty varmint scope and a rimfire silencer, the resulting rig is portable and not excessively front-heavy. Placing the same accessories onto a bull barrel 10-22 would have resulted in a barely portable rifle that would also be difficult to steady offhand. Ruger’s own target model weighs more than twice as much! Could a big, strong male wrestle this rifle along? Sure. But it would be less fun for him, and next to impossible for the bantam-sized rifle operators like Alexis. Since weight and balance are critical for teen and preteen competitors, the extra cost is hardly optional. Without the investment of this specialized tool, the next generation of competitive shooters would have to wait a couple of years before starting out. AmSJ

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Jordanne Calvin demonstrates the light weight and balance of the Volquartsen carbon-fiber-barrel-based .22. The UltraLite is an excellent option for competitors and hunters alike, especially those using larger, heavier long-range scopes.

Windham Carbon Fiber AR-15

Review and photographs by Norman Gray

Since the weight of an AR-15 rifle varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, it can sometimes be an undesirable element for women who shoot them. A fully accessorized AR-15 can weigh upwards of 10 or more pounds with a fully loaded, high-capacity magazine. This weight can cause the shooter to lean backwards to compensate, and in turn, makes these heavier guns un-enjoyable. If you’re physically fit and do strength training, weight has a reduced affect, but supporting a heavier rifle will eventually affect the shooter causing them to focus more on the weight and less on the target. If you can identify with this, please read on.

The second concern I commonly hear has to do with a heavy trigger pull. This can be just as much a concern as weight. Women, including my wife, have disparaged the heavy trigger pull of an AR-15 as well as some handguns, especially ones with double-action-only triggers. Many old military rifles including AR-15s have what is referred to as a “military trigger,” and on average have an 8- to 10-pound pull.


The original reason for this was so that when the adrenaline was flowing, the shooter would not be able to pull the trigger easily, and experience an unintended discharge. A suggestion would be adding a Timney drop-in trigger. They are easy to install (they drop in using the existing pins) and you have several  trigger-weight options to choose from.

The EOTech 518 and G33 3X Magnifier makes a great pair for your primary sights

Many years ago while walking the floor at the 2015 Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade, or SHOT, Show I met with the representative from Windham Weaponry. I told them my concerns about women having to deal with heavy ARs and how some companies are starting to employ polymers to reduce the weight of both the upper and lower receivers.
Their rep walked me over to a display and handed me their Windham Weaponry Carbon Fiber “SRC.” I couldn’t help but notice the reduced weight of the rifle. I was impressed and knew this could serve as a great alternative to the heavier aluminum receivers. I had seen some polymer receivers around, but at the time didn’t know of anyone who effectively used it for both upper and lower receivers.



Windham states that this rifle weighs 5.85 pounds without a magazine. Using a postal scale I weighed the rifle with the factory sling and an empty aluminum 30-round magazine; it came to 6.25 pounds. I weighed it again with the sling and 30-round magazine (full); it came to 7.25 pounds. At this weight the R16M4 was still lighter than most AR-15s.
If you were to add Magpul’s all-steel MBUS-Pro sight set, it would raise the weight 3.3 ounces. For this review I added an EOTech model 518 HWS (holographic weapon sight) which uses AA batteries (13.3 ounces) and a G-33 3X magnifier (11.9 ounces). The total weight with a sling, loaded 30-round magazine, sights and magnifier finished at 8.75 pounds. That’s where most AR-15s start stripped. I approached this like I would backpacking: ounces count and can add up quickly.

SRC

This SRC starts with a 16-inch, M4-style, chrome-lined barrel which has a 1-in-9-inch right-hand-twist rate that works well for stabilizing bullets from 55 to 75 grains. It finishes off with an an A2 flash suppressor. The gas block sports a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail for mounting any front sight you choose, as well as has a standard bayonet lug and sling swivel.
A word of caution: use a sight constructed of steel, as the gas block will heat up considerably and possibly melt other sights. The handguards have a double-layered heat shield to protect from the heat and are constructed of plastic. They are easily grasped and can be replaced with a quad rail handguard.



An A2 pistol grip offers your shooting hand a secure grip and, as with most parts, it can be replaced with a grip more suited to your hand size. The six-position telescoping buttstock is easy to adjust; grasp the buttstock trigger bar by the rear-sling loop and squeeze it while moving the stock forward or backward to the desired length of 6.5 to 10.5 inches.

The EOTech 518 and G33 3X Magnifier is rock solid on the carbon fiber Picatinny rail

Now we have come to what makes the Windham Weaponry rifle so unique: the carbon-fiber upper and lower receiver. They’re molded to look much like what you’re used to, yet discernibly different, containing more angles than curves. On the upper receiver the Picatinny rail is also made of carbon fiber and offers a strong and secure point to mount optics.
The charging handle, dust cover and forward assist button is metal, mainly because they have moving parts or springs and are high-stress areas. When disassembling a normal upper, you would remove the charging handle by pulling it to the rear until it stops, then lifting straight up and out, allowing the side tabs to clear the cutouts in the upper receiver. With this model, you simply pull straight back and out and reassemble the same way. You must use caution when disassembling or reassembling the upper receiver as the bolt and charging handle will fall out if tipped up, possibly causing damage.
All other areas of the rifle are the same as common models. On the lower receiver the magazine release, bolt catch, safety selector and trigger are metal as well. The markings for the safety selector are icons molded into the receiver; a bullet with an X inside means safe (safety selector pointing forward) and a plain bullet means fire (safety selector point up). The serial number is etched inside of a box under the selector and highlighted with silver, so it’s easy to read. The trigger guard is oversized to allow shooting in cold climates with fingered gloves, and there is room on the rail for backup iron sights, optics and a magnifier, but it’s tight.

I disassembled, inspected, cleaned and lubricated the rifle and headed to the range. It did not disappoint. Oh and do not fear, the rifle comes with a detailed “how to” manual on safety and instruction, disassembly, cleaning, lubrication and re-assembly if this is your first AR15. I had some random leftover ammo from other tests and loaded them into the Windham-original magazine first. I fired all 30 rounds with no stoppages.

I then fired the test ammunition through the chronograph using the factory and Magpul’s 20- and 30-round magazines; again, no stoppages. I also wanted to see how the carbon fiber dissipated heat. With the help of my son we fired 120 rounds through the rifle and I carefully placed my finger on the receiver, and while very warm, it did not burn my finger. It also cooled to the touch relatively fast despite being a direct-gas impingement system, which means the gas from the round is tapped off from the barrel and moved through a gas tube and then back to the bolt to cycle the action.

This Carbon Fiber SRC performed as hoped with all the ammunition and magazines tested. The cooling and heat-dissipation properties of the carbon fiber are noticeably better than their aluminum counterparts, and so is the overall weight with the accessories tested. If you wish to keep the rifle as light as possible, use a 10- or 20-round magazine with iron sights.

The only problem I encountered was that the rear takedown pin will walk out if not pushed all the way in until you hear or feel a click. Other than that, I highly recommend this rifle to any shooter who wants a light and dependable M4-style rifle. The choice is yours in the end on how light your rifle will be, but rest assured, you’re starting out with a rifle whose manufacturer is confident enough to give you a lifetime warranty that is even transferable. Lastly, something I feel is very important: Windham rifles are 100 percent American made in Windham, Maine, just outside Portland. –AmSJ