[su_heading size=”40″ margin=”0″]Chiappa’s Little Badger Survival Rifle[/su_heading]
Review and photographs by Frank Jardim
The Chiappa Little Badger weighs less than 3 pounds and has an overall expanded length of 31 inches.
The Little Badger is rugged and mechanically simple, just as any perfect survival rifle should be.
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap] 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.
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.
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.
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. ASJ
Author’s note: You can get more information on this and other Chiappa products at Chiappafirearms.com
Exclusive interview by Frank Jardim
Caylen Wojcik was a U.S. Marine Corps scout sniper for eight years as a trainer and warrior. He served as the chief sniper in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, conducting 100 sniper missions until he was seriously wounded during Operation Phantom Fury. He returned to training duties during his recovery and now works in the private sector for Magpul Industries as its director of training of Precision Rifle Operations. He is a man who knows what it’s like to be behind a sniper rifle in battle. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
Frank Jardim You’ve spent a good deal of your life preparing snipers for battle and being a sniper in battle. What do you think is important for people to know about snipers?
Caylen Wojcik It doesn’t take long for commanders to identify the extreme effectiveness and lethality of a well-trained and equipped sniper on the battlefield. I think with the duration of our current conflict that snipers will ultimately benefit, for many years to come, as their effectiveness on the battlefield is solidified, without question. It’s important to understand that not everyone can become a sniper. Snipers aren’t cut from a “sniper cloth,” nor do they magically acquire skills with an application of “sniper dust.” Being a sniper requires more than just marksmanship skills. Snipers are highly intelligent, extremely resourceful, incredibly disciplined and above all, undeniably passionate about the science and art of sniping. Those traits cannot be cultivated. The skills, however, can be cultivated and honed through effective training. It’s important to remember that snipers’ continue to be effective problem solvers on the battlefield.
FJ How do you explain the relative celebrity of present-day snipers compared to those from previous wars, when they remained virtually unknown outside of their units and the shooting community? (I don’t recall anybody making a movie about Carlos Hathcock.)
CW In terms of factual events, the only movie I’ve seen (or know of) about a sniper besides American Sniper is Enemy at the Gates, which was a rendition of the Soviet sniper Vasily Zeytsev, who was a Russian hero of WWII, and was incredibly lethal during the Battle of Stalingrad. Snipers pride themselves on being silent professionals, as their passion for the job is enough for personal satisfaction. Very few snipers, if any, will actively seek out recognition for their accomplishments, as it usually finds them.
FJ Were snipers used as effectively as they could have been in the units you fought with? Did commanders understand how to deploy expert riflemen?
CW Sniper employment is a steep learning curve for both the sniper and the commander, especially if it’s their first time around in combat. Commanders in the past had very little, if any, training in how to employ snipers on the battlefield. Young snipers, learning sniper employment on a fundamental level at the Scout/Sniper Basic Course, need to be excellent communicators of their capabilities and limitations with their supported unit commanders. In my experience, once we got the major bugs worked out and both the commander and sniper understood each other, things went smoothly and effectively. Having been at war for the past 13 years, there are many seasoned commanders and snipers who are passing on those lessons learned to make both sides run more smoothly.
FJ Have the current infantry rifles and training helped or hurt basic combat marksmanship among typical soldiers?
CW I’m not currently on active duty, nor have I been since the Marine Corps adopted the ACOG as their primary sighting device on the service rifle. Several of my peers are now Marine gunners who are directly responsible for the development of that system and they speak highly of the increased average qualification scores. The addition of requiring Marines to qualify on combat marksmanship is also a huge step forward from my time when only known distance rifle qualification was scored. More emphasis on close-quarters marksmanship and weapons manipulation was definitely required to adapt to our modern battlefield. ASJ
[su_heading size=”30″]The Civilian Marksmanship Program is currently leading a renaissance in ﬁrearms precision and accuracy with a massive new instructional range facility and more than a thousand sanctioned matches each year.[/su_heading]
STORY BY FRANK JARDIM • PHOTOS BY TIM HEADY
[su_dropcap style=”light”]T[/su_dropcap]he acronym CMP stands for Civilian Marksmanship Program, and if it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been around for 114 years. Once a government-funded program administered by the U.S. Army, it was reformed as a private, self-supporting, nonproﬁt in 1996. Its core mission is instructing the citizenry, and particularly the nation’s youth, in the principles of safe ﬁrearms handing and cultivating the knowledge and skills required for precision shooting.
The Talladega Marksmanship Park is equally impressive from the air. (CMP)
A marker explains why an Army camp is named after a Navy man.
Great shooting requires practice, and the CMP promotes that through their support of 5,000 local aﬃliated shooting clubs and state organizations that run CMP-sanctioned courses and competitive shooting matches across the country. That amounts to over 1,400 sanctioned matches a year attended by more than 10,000 shooters. The CMP codiﬁed the competition rules and trains and certiﬁes the range oﬃcers who run the matches. They also train and certify master instructors who teach thousands of new shooters each year using CMP course materials in more than 100 sponsored clinics nationwide.
Through their online Competition Tracker system, they maintain the match scores for every shooter in every CMP competition, as well as a listing of all upcoming matches, making it easy for shooters to ﬁnd out when and where they can compete, register for those matches, and track their progress up to the national level.
Reﬂecting its military roots, high-power military service riﬂe and service pistol competitions have always been a major component of the CMP. However, they are by no means the whole show. To paraphrase the American poet Walt Whitman, “The CMP is large. It contains multitudes.” Today, its 30 instructional and competitive programs also include air and .22 rimﬁre pistols and riﬂes.
A closer look at the Kongsberg Target System.
AN EMPHASIS ON PRECISION marksmanship is the common element is all CMP matches. These are not running-and-gunning, action-style, three-gun, speed or steel matches. CMP competitors shoot traditional bull’s-eye targets at speciﬁc distances from established positions (prone, sitting, kneeling and standing), usually with iron sights. Sometimes riﬂe shooters can use a sling.
Not to diminish the challenges of other shooting sports, which often pose a high level of diﬃculty in other methods and techniques, but the CMP fosters in its competitors
a great deal of personal discipline and technical knowledge.
Competitors prepping their gear before going to the ready line.
A Kentucky Junior Service Rifle competitor competes in a local CMP match.
The CMP high-power riﬂe competition, for example, with its 200-, 300- and 600-yard stages, allows shooters the chance to develop their understanding of some of the most diﬃcult (and interesting) technical aspects of shooting. To put the bullet in the X ring, the shooter needs to understand trajectory, adjust the sights for the bullet’s drop, evaluate the wind speed and direction to calculate the required amount of windage compensation, and deal with any heat mirage that may blur the view of the distant target.
The view from the rear of the ready line during a USAMU rifle class at Camp Perry.
Akin to the “World Series” of shooting sports, the CMP holds their National Matches every summer at Camp Perry, Ohio. Bordering Lake Erie, the Camp Perry ranges are considered by many to be the largest and best in the county. Among the 6,000 participants from all the CMP disciplines, you will always ﬁnd America’s ﬁnest military and civilian marksmen.
The National Matches, a tradition at Camp Perry since 1907, also include top quality training seminars for novice and advanced shooters. A newcomer to competitive shooting could attend a one- or two-day CMP– USAMU (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit) Small Arms Firing School for riﬂe or pistol (or both) and learn the basics of ﬁrearms safety and marksmanship on the spot.
I HAD THE CHANCE TO TALK with CMP’s Mark Johnson to get the scoop on what accomplishments he was most excited about this year. Johnson is not the type of chief operating oﬃcer to sit behind a desk all day, evidenced by the fact that we talked by phone as he was driving back from a CMP competition in Oklahoma.
A shooter rolling with the recoil of his service rifle.
While he paid respectful homage to the National Matches, which he refers to as the CMP’s “crowning jewel,” it was the growth and success of the Junior Air Riﬂe Camp that he seemed to ﬁnd most exhilarating. These weeklong summer camps are held around the country with a goal to teach 9- to 12-year-olds safety and marksmanship lessons of universal value. Participants bring their own equipment and the fee is a nominal $285 per youth and $50 for their adult coach. As of this writing, 14 of the 16 camps are already full.
You might be surprised to learn that the most popular competitive shooting sport among precollege boys and girls is three-position air riﬂe shooting. Its growth shows no sign of slowing down, so this particular competition is helping to develop our next generation of marksmen.
The U.S. Army Mobile Ordnance Maintenance truck stands by to service military and civilian competitor rifles.
But just because kids love it doesn’t make it a kid’s sport. The 10-meter, three-position (prone, kneeling and standing) competition is also an international sport and an Olympic event. In fact, those Junior Air Riﬂe camps that Johnson is so proud of boast multiple Olympian alumni, and two medalists, including 2016 Gold Medal winner Ginny Thrasher (see American Shooting Journal, September 2016).
The CMP actually sanctions two classes of air riﬂe competitions for juniors that diﬀer only in the equipment needed. Sporting Air Riﬂe competition uses basic target riﬂes that cost $105 to $525 and requires no specialized shooting clothing. Precision Air Riﬂe uses Olympicgrade guns that cost $850 to $1,275 and require the full complement of target shooting clothes and accessories. By the way, those prices are from the CMP online store and represent a discounted cost only available for qualiﬁed club members.
Apparently, kids are having some success convincing their parents to let them give the less costly Sporting Air Riﬂe a try (or perhaps it’s the other way around), as it has become a major entry point into competitive shooting for them. Three-Position Air Riﬂe can be a life-long hobby and college students can compete in NCAA matches or via Junior ROTC programs as well.
Many competitors continue to use the rifle designed by the namesake of the Talladega Marksmanship Park range, John Garand
Another thing Johnson was really proud of was the CMP’s new Talladega Marksmanship Park in Talladega, Alabama. This is the third, and by far the largest, modern instructional range facility they have constructed, and it is the most technologically advanced in the world. The two others are 80-port indoor air riﬂe ranges at their Camp Perry, Ohio, and Anniston, Alabama, locations, where they also operate retail stores.
THE NEW MARKSMANSHIP PARK is huge, covering 500 acres, with riﬂe, pistol and shotgun ranges. At maximum capacity it could accommodate 3,000 shooters at once, and transportation around the ranges is provided.
The facility includes a 13,000-square-foot clubhouse with classrooms, lounge, and a Creedmoor Sports Pro Shop. Inside, visitors can follow the progress of competitors on monitors if the Alabama heat or humidity gets to be too much for them.
The park has an amazing combination 200-, 300- and 600yard riﬂe ranges, a 100-yard multipurpose range and a 50-yard pistol range, all equipped with state of the art Kongsberg Target System (KTS) electronic targets and scoring monitors which detect, record and display every round the shooter ﬁres. This means you can maximize your shooting practice time because you don’t ever have to leave the ﬁring line to change targets. You don’t even need a spotting scope. And, for fans of shotgun sports, there are trap, sporting clays and ﬁve-stand courses.
The facility plays host to the whole gamut of CMP Games and matches, including the popular GSM (Garand, Springﬁeld, Vintage Military) matches where shooters use as-issued historic riﬂes. The CMP knows there’s more to shooting than just the black bull’s-eyes, so you’ll also ﬁnd a wide variety of popular action shooting sports like 3-Gun, Steel Challenge and IDPA. Even better, Marksmanship Park is open to the public and charges only $20 to shoot all day.
Over the years, the CMP had often made surplus military riﬂes and ammunition available to qualiﬁed club members at reasonable prices. In fact, if you have ever heard that you could get a surplus M1 Garand riﬂe directly from the government, that’s part of the CMP program. At this point, however, virtually all of those M1 riﬂes and carbines, M1903 Springﬁeld and M1917 Enﬁeld riﬂes are sold out.
The good news is the proﬁts from the sale of those historic riﬂes funded an endowment that will keep the CMP in operation, training new generations of marksman, for the foreseeable future.
In light of the recent shift in political control since the last election, I asked Johnson if there might be some possibility of more M1 riﬂes turning up. He told me that had I asked that question six months ago, the answer would be no. But since then, one of the last great stockpiles of M1s, currently held by the Philippine government, just might be making its way home from the islands.
So keep your ﬁngers crossed, and get yourself involved with the CMPaﬃliated club in your area. Only qualiﬁed club members will be able to buy these riﬂes should they become available. “How do I qualify,” you ask? It’s very simple. Just join a CMPaﬃliated club and shot in a CMPsanctioned match.
There are plenty of targets at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s new Marksmanship Park in Talladega, Alabama, and each shooting bay is equipped with state-of-the-art Kongsberg Target System (KTS) electronic targets and scoring monitors which detect, record and display every round the shooter fires. (CMP)
You can ﬁnd vast amounts of additional information about the CMP and its great programs when you visit TheCMP.org. ASJ
[su_heading size=”30″]The Operator Model tactical brass recovery system from TBR really works.[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY FRANK JARDIM
The hinged anodized aluminum frame provides a rigid mounting point to attach the unit to the riﬂe and support the bag.
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]L[/su_dropcap]ew Grasser is a Marine Corps veteran who owns and operates Tactical Brass Recovery (TBR) in New Salisbury, Ind. He’s spent a lot of time watching spent cases eject from AR-platform riﬂes, AK-47s, SCARs and even TAVOR bullpups and tactical shotguns. He has tested scores of riﬂes and ammunition types and recorded the results, noting what is consistent, what is variable and what is bizarrely rare. He’s even made high-speed video recordings of ejecting cases so he can study their movements in slow motion.
Lew Grasser tested scores of riﬂes and ammunition types before he developed the Tactical Brass Catcher.
He’s done all this research to design and build the brass catcher he wished he had during his active-duty days. The TBR Operator Model is the culmination of years of research and experimentation, and is far and away the best designed and most practical brass catcher I have ever seen.
The Operator Model retails for $220, which may seem like a lot of money. However, in testing I found its features were exceptional. For one thing, it actually catches the brass. I don’t mean some of the brass. I mean it catches all of the brass, and not just a magazine’s worth. The bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases. In addition, it not only catches the spent cases, but also holds them captive in the lower part of the bag, keeping them out of the action where they could cause a jam. The top of the catcher is designed with enough depth to prevent the newly ejected case from bouncing right back into the riﬂe’s action. It also has an inner fabric curtain that eﬀectively prevents the brass in the bag from slipping out the way it came in, even if the riﬂe is tilted or manipulated on the run.
AS THE NAME SUGGESTS, military and law enforcement applications were foremost in Grasser’s mind during product development. The unit is light but exceptionally rugged. The hinged, ⅛-inch-thick anodized aluminum frame serves as the rigid mounting point to attach the unit to the riﬂe and support the bag. The bag itself is made of heavy canvas that won’t melt like nylon bags. It has a zipper in the bottom to empty it.
The unit mounts to the front handguard on the right Picatinny rail section via an American Defense-made quick-release throw-lever.
The bag comes in 16 colors, including most common modern camouﬂage schemes. Laser-cut ABS plastic parts support and reinforce the bag and mate it closely to the receiver. The ﬁt is close, but it doesn’t come in contact with your riﬂe’s receiver very much, and the ABS plastic is much less likely to damage the ﬁnish where it does. The whole device is rigid, yet ﬂexible. If you were to fall and mash this catcher between your riﬂe and a hard place, there’s enough give in the aluminum and plastic components that isn’t likely to damage, or even scratch, anything. The unit is assembled with 18-8 stainless-steel button head screws and nyloc locking nuts. It weighs only 12 ounces.
It mounts to the front handguard on the right Picatinny rail section via an American Defense-made quick-release throw-lever. It locks securely and won’t come loose unless you press the release bar in the lever and rotate it 180 degrees. You can take it on and oﬀ in less than a second. Once on, the catcher is held in place with a ﬁve-position, tensioned, ball-detent locking hinge of Grasser’s own design. This might seem like overkill, but it conveniently allows for a choice of positions to facilitate storage of the weapons equipped with the bag in vehicles, racks or cabinets.
The honeycomb pattern atop the unit provides strength and rigidity while allowing a clear view of the action and chamber at all times.
TO USE THE BAG, you pivot it against the receiver and fold up the plastic top of the bag so the scissor arms on each side are fully extended. The tension on the elbow of the scissor arms comes from a nyloc nut. I expect that as the joint wears, it would be a simple thing to tighten it up with a partial twist of that nut. It is elegant in its simplicity. I was able to keep my ejection port cover closed with the Operator Model attached; but whether you can or can’t do the same will depend on your handguard.
Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.
The ABS plastic top of the brass catcher is cut with a honeycomb pattern to provide strength and rigidity while allowing the shooter (or range oﬃcer) a clear view of the action and chamber at all times while the catcher is in place. An important added beneﬁt of this honeycombed lid is that gases from ﬁring are continuously vented up and out of the bag. A solid bag or box would capture the gases and force them to vent back into the action and along the side of the receiver where they could get into the shooter’s face and optics.
The virtue of a product that actually delivers on its promises should appeal to you, whether you are a Special Response Team oﬃcer who doesn’t want his team members falling on his ﬁred cases during a hot building entry, a competitive shooter, or a reloader who simply wants to recover all your brass.
For more information, you can visit the TBR website at TacticalBrassRecovery.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (502) 716-8405. ASJ
Bag capacity is 150 5.56mm cases or 75 7.62x51mm cases.
[su_heading size=”30″]For more than 50 years, Triple K has been a ‘go-to’ manufacturer for American-made magazines, grips and leather products.[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY FRANK JARDIM
Scores of ﬁrearms-related businesses have come and gone, but family-owned Triple K has produced their American-made core product line for more than 50 years.
Many shooters know the California-based company for their popular civilian and police holsters and leather equipment, and gun collectors worldwide know them as the ﬁrst, best and often only source of replacement magazines for vintage autoloading pistols and riﬂes.
More recently, they’ve developed an equally solid reputation for reproduction rubber and wood grips and buttplates for all manner of historic handguns and shotguns. The company’s slogan is “If it’s rare, obscure or collectable, Triple K has you covered,” and they truly do. I called them once for magazine for a century-old Belgian Bayard pocket auto. Not only did they have it in stock, company president Kurt Krasne knew the part number by heart.
A Triple K employee creates one of the company’s leather holster products at the factory in San Diego, Calif.
HIS FATHER, JERRY KRASNE, CREATED Triple K in 1963, and named it after his children – Kim, Kurt and Karen. In 1946, Jerry’s father and grandfather had started a family department store that sold inexpensive men’s clothing and World War II military surplus, and Triple K was originally an offshoot of that business. Jerry graduated from Stanford with a BA in economics and joined the business in 1952. He expanded the store to include ﬁrearms and sporting goods. They were increasingly successful, but Jerry recognized there were bigger business opportunities outside their local retail market in manufacturing.
The early 1960s were the heyday for the importation of collectible firearms, and Jerry saw barrels of otherwise great World War I-era Spanish Ruby automatic pistols coming into the country that were virtually unmarketable for lack of magazines. He decided to get into the magazine manufacturing business and sought out the skilled workmen and machinery he needed to do it.
The ﬁrst magazines he manufactured included models for Beretta 1934, Browning 1910, and Walther Model 4, and he sold them from a one-page catalog sheet. Today, Triple K makes and stocks about 1,100 different magazines, and continues to seek out vintage pistols so they can reverse engineer the magazine and add it to their line. They have produced over a million magazines and are the largest maker of obsolete magazines in the world.
Triple K’s next major product line was leather cowboy holsters and gunbelts. At the time, the Western was the most popular ﬁlm genre in America and it seemed like a good idea to feed the market Hollywood had created for buscadero rigs. Jerry bought a single sewing machine and hired a man to run it, and gradually acquired more equipment and know-how by buying out closing businesses. The family department store also had a lot of police customers from the local station on their street, and soon Triple K was manufacturing all types of leather duty holsters and equipment for law enforcement.
This pair of replacement grips for a vintage Colt pistol is one of thousands available from Triple K.
ALL OF TRIPLE K’S LEATHER PRODUCTS begin as 100-percent American vegetable-tanned leather hides, which are inspected and laid out by hand on pneumatic presses for die cutting, then dyed, and sewn into holsters, belts, slings, saddle bags, cartridge belts, ammo pouches, shooting bags, concealed carry purses, riﬂe scabbards, handcuff cases, baton carriers, and dozens of other ﬁnished leather products for shipment to distributors worldwide. They offer most leather products in walnut oil (brown), plain (natural), and black ﬁnishes, and in plain or basket-weave pattern.
Not only do they still make those low-slung cowboy-movie buscadero rigs, but they also make a replica of the holster worn by Han Solo in the Star Wars movie franchise. You won’t ﬁnd that one in their catalog, though; it’s one of many private-label leather products they manufacture for many other retailers, including Cabela’s.
In 2013, Triple K acquired Vintage Gun Grip Industries Inc., a Florida company that specialized in reproduction grips for collectible ﬁrearms. Vintage had even more grips products than Triple K had magazines. Each grip set is hand-poured and cast from precise molds made from the thousands of original historic grips in their reference collection. Need a set of black hard-rubber grips for your 1892 Colt New Army Revolver, Frommer Liliput, M1934 Beretta, or Remington .41 rimﬁre double derringer? Triple K will make them for you, and if you need the screw hardware, they can sell you that too. Screw hardware cost between $5 and $16.
Most grip sets cost $34, which represents the labor to make them more than the material. Many are in stock, but if they have to pull out the molds, it will take a couple days to get them poured, cured, sanded, cleaned and shipped to you. Be patient. You could not do it yourself for less or any faster.
MANUFACTURING BUSINESSES don’t typically run three distinctly different operations, but Triple K is far from typical. For founder Jerry Krasne, the business was simply an extension of his hobby, and to this day the company mirrors his passion for gun collecting, shooting and hunting. In order to make a magazine properly, you need to have the gun it ﬁts into, so Jerry sought out examples of every vintage autoloading pistol in existence and created one of the largest and most varied reference gun collections in private hands.
Eventually, he started recording information on the weapons, along with excellent line drawing, and published them in The Triple K Encyclopedia & Reference Guide For Auto Loading Guns. Now in its 16th edition, it remains a key reference guide for collectors. Looking through the book, it is nothing short of astonishing to realize that Triple-K makes magazines for virtually every pistol and riﬂe in it.
Kurt, Kasey and Jerry Krasne represent three generations of Triple K.
Magazines vary in cost but generally run around $38 to $44 for the rarer vintage guns. These are usually made up in runs of 40 to 50 magazines and stamped from laser-cut blanks, which are then hand-welded. I asked how many years it would take to sell 50 1910 Izarra magazines, and Kurt informed me that sometimes he is quite surprised at how quickly what seems like a lifetime supply is depleted. They will sell one or two now and then, and out of the blue collectors can start ordering ﬁve at a time and then the company has to make more. Fortunately, their manufacturing process is now so reﬁned they can quickly set up the tooling to efficiently make small runs.
Magazines for more common guns generally cost less because they make a lot more of them and use more efficient production methods, like ﬁne blanking and automatic welding. For example, a standard magazine for the 1911 Colt is $16 and $30 for the German P08 Luger. Triple K also has magazines for weapons still in current production (for example, Glock, SIG, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, AR-15 and AK-47). They stock no fewer than 17 different magazines for .45 ACP Colt 1911s.
For more information, visit triplek.com, or call (619) 232-2066. ASJ
[su_heading size=”30″]The Century Arms UC-9 Carbine remains a popular semiauto version of the classic Uzi.[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY FRANK JARDIM
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]he classic Uzi 9mm submachine gun was developed by Uziel Gal in the 1950s for the Israeli military, and in its day was considered an excellent combat weapon. And although guns with similar features had become pretty standard by the end of World War II, the Uzi changed the paradigm for submachine guns with its compactness, ergonomics and easy handling.
These reasons are also why the gun continues to be replicated by a variety of manufacturers. One of these, Century Arms, Inc., has found success with their semiauto version, the Centurion UC-9.
The original Uzi was made mostly of welded metal stampings and had a rock-solid metal collapsible or ﬁxed wooden buttstock. It featured a simple blowback design, utilizing the weight of the heavy bolt alone to keep the action locked, and the recoil energy of the ﬁred casing to cycle it. The ﬁring pin was machined into the bolt face, and the weapon ﬁred from an open bolt. Though very heavy – over 9 pounds loaded – its good balance permitted one-handed ﬁring.
This compact balance was achieved by setting the 10inch barrel deep in the stamped sheet metal receiver so its breech was above the trigger. The bolt encased the barrel breach to about the midway point and the magazine was inserted up through the grip frame. All of the mechanical operation of ﬁring took place directly above the gripping hand rather than in front of it, as on a typical, much longer submachine gun (such as the MP40). The Uzi grip was positioned on the receiver slightly rear of center to counter the effects of recoil.
The Uzi saw use in the hands of good guys and bad through the 1980s, and was a staple in movies and on TV. Anyone who remembers seeing the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on the news knows it was used by our Secret Service too. Seemingly out of nowhere, an agent pulled one out and stood watch as other agents wrestled the attacker to the ground. It remains perhaps the second most recognizable submachine gun in the world after the Thompson.
The Centurion UC-9 utilizes many original Uzi part designs, coupled with an American-made semiauto-only bolt and receiver.
ISRAELI MILITARY INDUSTRIES(IMI), the original maker, ﬁrst offered semiautomatic versions of the Uzi, and these guns are rightly considered the best. Other clones, both domestic and Chinese, soon followed. And, as parts kits from demilitarized IMI- and FN-made subguns ﬂooded into the American market, several other ﬁrms started making receivers for gun-building hobbyists to assemble their own semiauto guns.
The Centurion’s semiauto grip assembly and safeties.
Century Arms, already famous among collectors for their semiauto copies of post-World War II select-ﬁre military weapons, set about producing their own ﬁnished semiauto carbine. Their Centurion UC-9 utilizes many original-part designs coupled with an American-made semiauto-only bolt and receiver.
The UC-9 is mechanically identical to previous Uzi clones. It has a 16-inch barrel instead of the 10-inch one found on the submachine gun. One caution: 10-inch barrels for it are available on the parts market, but before installing one, you will
The rear aperture uses a 100-yard and 200-yard flip rear sight, but elevation and windage are easily adjusted at the front sight
need to register the gun as a Short Barreled Riﬂe (SBR) with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and pay the appropriate taxes.
It ﬁres from a closed bolt using a striker and modiﬁed trigger components. The extra spring in the striker makes the bolt more difficult to pull pack than the fullauto version. The top cover is original, but the ratcheting mechanism is deactivated. That feature kept the bolt from ﬂying forward and accidentally discharging a round if the cocking handle slipped from the shooter’s grasp, and is useless on a closed-bolt semiauto.
The UC-9 will accept 25- and 32-round magazines.
The receiver has a rounded bar welded along the inside of the right side of the frame behind the ejection port. The semiauto bolt has a corresponding groove cut down its right side to clear this bar. Because of the bar, a full-auto bolt will not ﬁt in the receiver. The bottom left side of the bolt is milled away to accommodate the striker mechanism beneath it. The arm of the striker has a cut to engage the sear in the trigger mechanism. A portion of the bottom on the right side of the bolt is also relieved so it will clear the other side of the sear.
The Century Arms Uzi clone field strips easily into just a few parts.
The safety in the grip assembly is marked only “F” for ﬁre and “S” for safe. The thumb selector is blocked internally and cannot be pushed forward into what would normally be the full-auto position, though a stamped line indicating the “ghost” location is still there.
There are a few other differences between the semiauto Uzi and its full-auto ancestor. The semi’s push pin that holds the grip assembly onto the frame is larger (9mm versus 8mm), its sear is lighter and smaller, and machinegun barrels won’t ﬁt because of changes in the mounting points. All these changes allow the ﬁrearm to be sold as a normal semiauto long gun. OVER THE YEARS, Century Arms has received criticism regarding the quality control of the classic modern military ﬁrearms they re-engineered into legal-to-own semiautos. In their defense, much of this criticism has stemmed from a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. As any gun manufacturer will tell you, it’s hard enough making something work perfectly when you design and build it from scratch, and Century’s semiauto military clones are short-run projects compared to your typical sporting arm. It’s the difference between a few thousand units and tens of thousands.
I’ve never had a problem so serious that I had to return a ﬁrearm. I’ve heard of some over the years, but to my knowledge Century took care of each customer. And, in my opinion, on those occasions when Century didn’t get it right, they got it mostly right and it was a matter of some ﬁne adjustment to get it perfect. The way I see it, at the low price point they sell these collector ﬁrearms at, mostly right is still a bargain.
Shooters of smaller stature will have no problem firing the Centurion UC-9 at the zombie of their choice.
THE ACCURACY OF THE UC-9I tested surprised me in light of the short sight radius and less than comfortable metal stock. The rear aperture is set for 100 and 200 yards, but elevation and windage are easily adjusted at the front sight and I zeroed for a more realistic 50 yards for my testing. I set my chronograph up 15 feet from the muzzle. The UC-9’s weight made felt recoil light.
The most accurate load during testing was Federal American Eagle 124-grain FMJ, which averaged 2.38 inches at 1,232 feet per second, with the best group being 2.25 inches. All of the other loads I tested were 115-grain FMJ, and I achieved the following results:
CCI Blazer Brass averaged 2.59 inches at 1,396 fps, with the best group being 2.31 inches. Black Hills averaged 3.66 inches at 1,382 fps, with the best group being 2.19 inches. Winchester USA Forged steel case averaged 3.63 inches, with the best group being 3.75 inches, and Remington averaged 4.59 inches with the best group being 3.75 inches.
The author believes the UC-9 displays solid workmanship. Here is a comparison of some front-of-frame welding on an FN subgun (left) and the Century Arms UC-9.
The heavy, 12-pound single-stage trigger pull was sort of like pushing a refrigerator, but once I got it going, it moved along pretty easily.
Out of hundreds of rounds shot in testing, I had a handful of failures (ejection and sometimes chambering) that seemed related to the squared-off tip of the ﬁring pin penetrating the cartridge primer. More common was a chambering failure of the ﬁrst round from a fully loaded magazine. It would commonly get hung up at a 45-degree-angle point on the feed ramp and rim in the feed lips. However, the more I shot, the less this issue occurred, and I attribute it to the old military-surplus magazine, which I neither cleaned nor oiled.
General workmanship of the UC-9 was very good despite what some web critics claim. I compared the welding on the front of the frame to a part from a genuine FN demilled subgun, and the UC-9 was just as well executed, if not better.
There’s no practical advantage to a very heavy 9mm semiauto carbine like this, but if you have pangs of nostalgia for this historically important design, the UC-9 is a worthy clone at an affordable price.
Frank Thomas fires the Century Arms Centurion UC-9 at a recent Zombie Shoot event in Kentucky.
The MSRP is $749, but actual selling prices are closer to $650, and magazines are as cheap as $10 each.
For more on the UC-9 and other Century Arms ﬁrearms, visit centuryarms.com or call (800) 527-1252 to locate a dealer near you.
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]I[/su_dropcap]f you have not yet seen The Gunfather presented by Brownells on Outdoor Channel, you’re missing out on some fun family television that brings back the value-oriented programming reminiscent of the Andy Griffith Show. In its first season last year, it won the network’s Golden Moose Award for Best General Interest Show, and was renewed for 2016.
Louie learned to work with his hands at the urging of his father during his early teens. It’s a skill that suits him well today with vintage cars and heirloom firearms.
Louie is quick to acknowledge that everything he has accomplished has been a family team effort.
The Gunfather is about Louie Tuminaro and his close-knit Italian family, native New Yorkers who moved to Hamilton, Mont., to pursue Louie’s dream of creating the best gun store in the West, together. There are three generations of Tuminaros on the show: Louie (51 years old), the Gunfather, and Theresa (48), his wife of 24 years and who is nicknamed T-Bone; Louie’s dad Joe (77), who is called Pops; and Louie and Theresa’s kids, “Little” Louie (14) and daughters Nicole (20) and Allie (22), round out the extended family. Louie’s firearms business, the Custom Shop Inc., is a family operation and we see the Tuminaros in action working together to get things done. Louie is the driving creative force that made the Custom Shop a reality in 2007, but he is quick to tell you that the Tuminaros are a team, and moreover, he loves his team.
Thanks to Pops, Louie learned to work on cars and guns. Those hobbies turned fascination to business, turned TV show. Louie’s father has always been an avid hunter, competitive shooter and gun collector.
Three generations of Tuminaros – “Little” Louie, Louie, and Joe, or Pops – demonstrate everything this family is about: being and creating together.
Louie’s focus at the Custom Shop is mainly buying, selling and restoring high-quality collectible firearms from the 1940s through the early 1980s – where there’s strong nostalgic interest – as well as sought-after out-of-production classics like Colt’s snake guns: Python, Cobra and the Anaconda. In addition to all of this, he wanted to do for firearm enthusiasts something akin to what custom-car shops do for car buffs. The firearm restoration services he offers are extensive. Louie is particularly passionate about restoration work because, from his point of view, he isn’t working on just any gun. The firearms on his workbench are someone’s precious family heirlooms. Clients aren’t looking to increase collector value of their restored guns, but rather restore the appearance and function for personal enjoyment. They bring their treasured guns to the Custom Shop because Louie has a reputation for candid assessment of what can and can’t be achieved in a restoration and surrounds himself with exceptionally talented artisans to execute the work. When Louie opened up his shop in Hamilton, which is located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, he discovered a wealth of local talent that shared his interest in this level of firearms work and perfectionism – people like Pam Wheeler, the checkering queen, who has been hand cutting checkering for 30 years.
Louie and Pops are both self-taught gunsmiths and do most of the typical mechanical repairs, fine-metal polishing and refinishing in house. They also have their own stock-duplicating machine that can reproduce any gunstock accurately. Though they can make any gunstock for a customer, Louie explains that it isn’t always economically practical. It requires lots of hand sanding, inletting, fitting hardware and finishing. The result can be a stock that costs more than the rifle it’s being installed on. On restorations, they will try to preserve and repair the original wooden stock whenever possible. They keep duplicated stocks, identical to the factory originals and fitted with original hardware, for the more common collectible rifles – for example pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters – on hand all the time. When more elaborately figured wood blanks are used to make stocks for the highest grade rifles, prices can run up to $3,500, but that’s not a lot when the rifle is worth $15,000. The Custom Shop sells several stocks a week, mostly to customers who have had theirs broken during the course of shipping by common carrier. In addition to the stocks Louie crafts with his own hands, he has scores of new old-stock-original replacements for top-end Browning, Sako, Colt Sauer, Weatherby and J.P. Sauer and Sohn‘s rifles ranging from $400 to $3,500.
Louie says he got his love of shooting and skills from Pops. They were a working-class Long Island family. They weren’t poor, but they didn’t have much money. Louie and his little sister Lisa walked to public school, and their parents taught them traditional values, the importance of hard work, integrity and respect. Pops made a career with the Ford Motor Company in sales, and once Louie turned 10, Pops brought him to work every Saturday to help out washing cars and doing the jobs a kid could do. Louie developed a serious love for cars at that time, which he still has to this day. Pops taught him what a proper work ethic looked like and encouraged him to develop skills with his hands. Together these things led to a healthy confidence and a liberating realization that he could do things for himself.
Outdoor Channel films the Tuminaro family in their daily life without scripts or prompts.
For teenage Louie, the realization came the day the water pump on his 1972 Chevelle Super Sport quit. Instead of taking it to the repair shop, Pops took Louie to the auto-parts store and let him fix it for himself. When Louie reached his early 20s, he asked Pops to help him get an entry-level job at an auto customizing shop because the creativity and variety of the work was irresistible to him. Within two years Louie was managing the place. It was during this time that he met Theresa, who changed his life for the better in countless ways. They were inseparable and a perfect match. Louie calls her his rock. A rock is the best foundation to build on, and build they did.
“Little” Louie teaches his dad a thing or two about precision shooting.
It wasn’t long before Louie decided to go into business for himself. The work ethic, skill and confidence he learned as a boy continued to pay off and he soon had the largest car-audio equipment business in Suffolk County, N.Y. It was the first of many successes. Theresa would later manage their sports bar while raising their daughters. Pops, in addition to being a car man, was an avid gun collector, hunter and competitive pistol and shotgun shooter. Louie grew up watching with curious fascination as his father worked on guns on the kitchen table. When he got old enough, he was working beside his father, and the two enjoyed being a part of the shooting and hunting fraternity, which is large and vibrant in Long Island despite what anti-gun politicians from New York would have you believe. They hunted and vacationed in upstate New York, and Louie quickly got Theresa enthusiastically involved in the shooting sports too. When the kids came, they were naturally raised as shooters. The family hobby laid the ground work for the family business to come.
Daughter Nicole keeps the tuminaro heritage alive with her love of firearms and shooting skills by rockin’ the clay field.
Louie had actually entertained the notion of going into a firearms business for several years before the golden opportunity finally presented itself. He’d made a lot of contacts in the community through the course of buying and selling guns that interested him, but it was the sale of his business that was the major catalyst for the career change. For the first time in his life, Louie had financial resources and time at his disposal simultaneously. At that time, Theresa had concerns that the neighborhood they lived in and loved was not headed in a direction they wanted for their children, and Louie had been charmed by the West during the time he’d spent hunting there. One day, Louie just walked through the front door and told Theresa that he thought they should consider moving to Montana and open a gun store. She was looking for houses on the Internet that same night. Theresa’s support buoyed Louie up for this bold move. Truth be told, the prospect of leaving everything they had known behind them scared her, but she had confidence in her husband, and saw a great opportunity to grow as a family. Pops, by then retired, was likewise supportive. Louie did his research and planning with their help and they left a life on the Atlantic shores of Long Island to set up a new family business venture in Big Sky Country, in full view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. “We grouped together as a family and ran this company,” Louie told me. “We started it, designed it and created it. We did everything as a family. I consider us all a part of this.”
The Custom Shop, as a physical location, is an artistic expression of the family. It was intended to look as if it had been in business on that little old-town street for a century. The interior was built with reclaimed lumber and decoratively peppered with just enough taxidermy and vintage Western decor to give it a 19th century style but with a modern flair. Custom Shop’s signature 10-foot outdoor-sculpted sign featuring a huge Colt cap-and-ball revolver next to the words Custom Shop was the product of Louie’s imagination and several months work.
Nicknamed T-Bone, Theresa is a driving force in the Tuminaro household and business, and that’s a good thing.
As a business, Custom Shop became a huge success with international clientele. A great deal of that comes from the Tuminaros’ basic business philosophy. “We put all our heart into what we do,” Louie says. “A lot of our business is repeat customers and referrals because when you treat somebody right, you’ve got them forever. It’s very important that you win the trust of your customers. The only surprises I want my customers to have are good ones. If I say a gun is 98 percent, it’s probably really 99 percent.”
Seventy percent of Custom Shop gun sales are via their website, which is exceptional because each firearm they offer is presented for online customer inspection using five to 10 excellent digital photographs. These images are professionally staged and extremely detailed. Derek Poff, the man responsible for them and a show regular, has 20 years experience behind the camera.
While Louie and Pops are working on guns or away with little Louie scouring gun shows and estate sales across the country for marketable firearms, Theresa is the public face and voice of the Custom Shop. When you call, you talk to T-Bone. If you want something, you’d be wise to tell her because when she says that she’ll be on the look out, she’s 100 percent serious. She created and maintains what she calls “T-Bone’s Watch List” located on a corkboard behind her desk. When the boys bring home the gun you want, you will get a call from her and the first right of refusal. This takes a lot of mental energy and time, but it shows just how seriously the Tuminaros take customer service.
The Tuminaros are all NRA members, and Theresa came up with the slogan “Family, Freedom and Firearms” to describe the things that are most important to them. The thing that sold Outdoor Channel on The Gunfather was that it is really a case study in successful, multi-generational parenting. For the Tuminaros, shooting and other outdoor sporting activities were the family recreational outlets, so it was a perfect fit for the network. Viewers enjoyed the insights into the firearms business, but the more compelling aspect of the show was the genuineness of the Tuminaros just being a family. Louie says, “We love Outdoor Channel for letting us share our family with America. They don’t script us. They let us do what we do. What you see is who we are. When you see me kiss my father and tell him I love him when he’s leaving, well, I do that every day.” When viewers see Louie put aside the gun business for an afternoon to support his son in his first paying job outside the family, it is very clear that The Gunfather puts being a father far ahead of guns. Family comes first, exactly like Theresa says.
If all this sounds refreshingfor television, by all means tune in to Outdoor Channel on Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. to watch the second season that started on Dec. 28. If you want your family heirloom firearms restored or to buy or sell collectable guns, contact Theresa. If you become a fan of the show, and I suspect you will, make sure to thank her because she’s the one who made it happen. The day Louie walked in and said “I think we should be on TV,” she got on the phone and cold-called Outdoor Channel, miraculously got connected to a show producer (that just doesn’t happen), and won him over on the idea of a program about their family. Is it any wonder why Louie has been so successful? Between Theresa and Pops, how could he fail? ASJ