When Winchester produced its famous 1873 lever-action rifles and carbines, Colt wasted no time in chambering its single-action Army revolver in Winchester’s calibers from .44-40 down to .32-20. There are times when the quick handling and easy portability of a handgun is of paramount importance for self defense, but when faced with dire threats cowboys knew it was much better to have a repeating rifle. A handgun and longarm in the same caliber was a winner on the American frontier. From a self-defense standpoint, today’s shooters can find a practical, cost-effective, modern parallel to the 19th century Colt/Winchester pairing in Hi-Point carbines and pistols. Hi-Points are chambered in popular pistol cartridges such as .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9mm Luger and soon .380 ACP, and the .40 S&W and .45 ACP model carbines and pistols even share a common magazine. I tested a model 995ts carbine and C9 pistol chambered in 9mm and was favorably impressed.
It is known that you can get a Colt Defender pistol and Model 6951 AR-15 type carbine in 9mm; however, this combination will cost you about $2,000. The Hi-Points I tested cost less than $500! That puts Hi-Points into a unique niche as the least expensive centerfire firearms on the market. There is a lot more to the differences between Colts and Hi-Points than price, so to narrow the focus of the discussion, I will evaluate the Hi-Points as personal home-defense firearms. In this respect, based on my testing, Hi-Points represent an exceptional value.
Be careful not to make the mistake of assuming inexpensive means poor quality. Hi-Point firearms are engineered to be inexpensive. When I disassembled them, I was struck by the clever way parts were designed to serve multiple purposes and the use of highly efficient manufacturing techniques like metal stamping, zinc alloy casting, metal injection molding, button-rifled barrels, powder coating and injection-molded plastic. The martial spirit of the highly effective Soviet PPSH-41 submachine gun and the clandestine American FP-45 Liberator pistol of World War II are channeled through the Hi-Points. All of these firearms let the ease of manufacture and effective function dictate their form.
An important consumer byproduct of the care taken in designing the Hi-Points is that the production cost of parts is so low, the firearms are warranted forever. Not just for the original owner, but every owner (the instruction sheet with older production guns may still indicate the warranty is limited to the original purchaser, but the distributor at MKS assured me that is not the case). If any of Hi-Point’s firearms has a problem, it will be repaired by the factory free of charge. From my research, they are living up to their promise, and their reputation is excellent.
If Hi-Point’s design has a negative, I believe it is the trigger pull. The one I tested initially was heavy and erratic. Sometimes it let go crisply; other times it creeped one or two times before it released the sear. This trigger spoiled a lot of groups. I think the crux of problem is that by design, each pull of the trigger is doing a lot more than just releasing the sear. When you take the gun apart you’ll see what I mean. It is what it is, but take heart! If your trigger is stiff and creepy like a zombie, I found that dry firing the action a thousand times, like I did while I watched a TV show, improved mine significantly.
The 995ts carbine is a good choice for targets from 15 to 50 yards. It is probably effective at ranges greater than 50 yards, but if you are shooting at someone that far away, it may prove difficult to make a case for self defense in court. It comes with a 10-round magazine and mine had a very handy factory two-magazine clip. This clip attached to the web of the stock allowing me to carry 30 rounds total, in and on the gun. The buttstock had a recoil-absorbing butt pad that was probably more important with the .45 ACP version than it was with the 9mm I tested. The carbine was pleasant to shoot and the military aperture sights were easy to adjust and use. This model has plenty of surprisingly rugged polymer tactical rails to mount all of your accessories and they make a nice-looking vertical foregrip and muzzle-brake, which I did not test.DEAD FOOT ARMS
The carbine used in this test had several hundred rounds through it before I formally evaluated it. I’ve been using it during our local Zombie Shooters United competitions in central Kentucky for over a year and it has never malfunctioned in competition. I do recall, when I first zeroed it for 25 yards, that the trigger pull was quite heavy. However, during my test for this story the trigger seemed a lot better.
As one would expect, ammo matters. The best of the three different loads I tested was remanufactured semi-target-grade, 124-grain, full-metal-jacket ammunition from AwesomeAmmunition.com. The average 50-yard, open-sight group from five separate five round strings was 2.25 inches, which is pretty darn good for a pistol cartridge at that range. The velocity through the carbine’s 16.5-inch barrel was 1,143 feet per second and was measured 12 feet from the muzzle.
Of the 115-grain full-metal-jacket factory ammo I tested, Winchester Target was clearly the better of the two. It was close behind Awesome Ammunition’s magic beans, with an average group size of 2.98 inches and 1,332 fps. The Winchester groups were more than an inch tighter than another popular low-cost factory ammo. This pattern of performance held for the C9 pistol too. Awesome Ammunition was the most accurate, this time a 124-grain, jacketed hollow point, followed by Winchester and the other famous brand, coming in at a distant third place.
Don’t expect the C9 pistol to shoot like a Colt Gold cup. It’s no target pistol, but it will be head-shot accurate at 7 yards and center-mass effective to 25 yards. I was able to easily put five shots through a green bean can at 7 yards with one hand after I broke in the trigger. When I bench tested at 7 yards, I found the same Winchester load I used in the carbine, printed groups averaging 1.62 inches and had a velocity of 1,104 fps. That cluster of 25 test rounds left a ragged hole in the target which you could cover with the bottom of a soda can. That’s pretty impressive for a $140 pistol. As a point of interest, I shot groups with this same load benched from 25 yards both before and after I broke in the trigger and the difference was dramatic. Breaking in the trigger shaved 2 inches off the group size, dropping it from an average of 9.74 inches to 7.75 inches.
The Hi-Points are heavy guns, but they are reliable, bargain priced, decent shooters and all American made. Without a doubt, they will be the best home-defense guns you will ever own for the money.
Story and Photos by Frank Jardim AmSJ
Dotzie was telling me to hurry. Treed at the base of a big white oak, my little mountain cur barked impatiently to inform me there was a squirrel up above that required my undivided attention. Out of breath from hurrying to her side, it took me several minutes to spot the gray squirrel pinned to a limb. Still a little shaky, I pulled a miss on my first shot and the squirrel darted through the upper limbs to begin his high-wire act.
I settled down by the third shot, and after I squeezed the AccuTrigger on the Savage A22, the bushytail tumbled out of the tree. I was happy, and more importantly, Dotzie was happy.
IN MY MISSPENT YOUTH, I knew an old codger who I thought of as my mentor when it came to rifles. He had survived Korea and a battle that took place in a location now called the Frozen Chozin. He had a house full of guns, and was always shooting, reloading, or doing something with a rifle. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, while staying out of his way at the same time.
“Boy,” he told me, “everyone needs a good .22 rifle, if for nothing else than just to shoot.” By “just to shoot” he meant target practice, can plinking, hunting small game, pest control, and anything else a body would need a rifle for in a caliber below a .3030. To him, a dependable .22 was a tool much like an axe or a wrench; and when you needed one, it had to work and work well.
Long known for their brand of no-nonsense firearms, Savage Arms (savagearms.com) has returned to the forefront in recent years with high-quality rifles that work well when you need them to. Savage wowed the rimfire world a couple of years ago with the introduction of the A17, the first high-performance semiautomatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR cartridge. They followed that success up with the A22 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum rimfire). Now, Savage is adding another new model to the A series: the A22 in (you guessed it) .22 Long Rifle. Here are some thoughts on this nifty little rifle, and why I think my old long gun mentor would approve.
Like the A17 and A22 Magnum, this rifle features a thread-in barrel with zero-tolerance head space, much like Savage builds their centerfire rifles. The barrel is “button” rifled and recessed on the business end, which is going to save on accuracy over time by protecting it. This is important if you are as hard on guns as I am, hauling them around in vehicles, getting knocked around while carrying them and the like.
The A22 comes equipped with a Savage AccuTrigger that outdoes many triggers in the centerfire line. No pulling the trigger housing or disassembly required. A small, simple tool, supplied by Savage, is inserted through the trigger guard and turned one direction to lighten the trigger pull, and the other to make it heavier. This could easily be done in the field if necessary. The trigger is the most important element of any rifle and the AccuTrigger is a good one.
The A22 has a smooth-cycling, straight-blowback action that reliably feeds a variety of .22-caliber ammunition from the magazine to the chamber. This little rifle ate every kind of .22 ammo that I fed it, including CCI Mini Mag, Federal Hunter Match, Aguila Sub Sonic and Super Extra, and Remington Gold Bullet and Target rounds. The A22 chewed them all up and spit them out without fail. That in itself is no small feat for any rimfire autoloader.
COMPANY LITERATURE TELLS US that Savage engineers did some exhaustive factory testing, and it appears they were successful across the board. The 10-round rotary magazine reliably fed the rounds every time the trigger was pulled. The magazine is flush mounted, and two other hunters besides myself who carried the A22 liked this feature.
For those times when you may want more ammo on hand, Savage also partnered with shooting accessories supplier Butler Creek (butlercreek.com) to increase the rifle’s ammo capacity by creating a 25-round, spring-fed aftermarket magazine. I haven’t got my hands on one of these magazines yet, but that is definitely my plan.
At the risk of sounding like the typical prattling gun writer, I must say I was very impressed with the A22’s accuracy. Hole touching groups did not seem to be a problem out to 50 yards, which I deemed far enough for squirrel shooting. The rifle comes equipped with adjustable open steel sights, so it’s ready to shoot right out of the box, but it is also drilled and tapped for scope mounts, allowing shooters to easily add their favorite optic.
The rifle I tested had a Bushnell 3.5-10x A22 Rimfire Optics scope mounted on it, and at first I thought this was too much scope for a .22 rifle. But after shooting this rig for a few days I really began to like it. This optic has a turret calibrated for high-velocity .22 ammo, and you can have a lot of fun with this system out to 125 yards. You can check out more info on this particular scope and many others by visiting bushnell.com.
I do herby proclaim the A22 to be a shooter, both in accuracy and proficiency of putting rounds down range. At a suggested retail of 281 American dollars, I doubt you can find a .22 rifle that is this much gun for less money. I think my old rifle guru would approve. AmSJ
Putting a pistol caliber cartridge in a rifle is easy…but a rifle round in a pistol? Now that takes a bit more effort…
While rifles chambered in classic handgun rounds seem to be all the craze right now, we seem to forget that the opposite exists…kind of. Although not exactly a rifle round, the FN 5.7x28mm cartridge is also not quite a pistol round either.
Clearly, the Five-seveN is truly a unicorn of the gun world. It is a lightweight polymer pistol that shoots FN’s own 5.7x28mm round.
When NATO requested an alternative to the 9x19mm round, FN Herstal was the first to respond, presenting the 5.7x28mm cartridge. The 5.7 round was originally developed for the P90 until the Five-SeveN pistol went into production in 1998.
In the early 2000s, NATO conducted a series of tests with the goal of standardizing a personal defense weapon round and replacing the iconic 9mm.
The 5.7x28mm surely impressed—it was highly effective, performed at extreme temperatures, and could even be manufactured on the same production lines as the loved 5.56x45mm NATO round.
The Five-SeveN is a full-sized pistol and a compact-sized weight. It has a nearly completely polymer frame, with some small steel internal components.
While the grip is considerably thinner than most full-sized pistols and a bit long, which could be a bit uncomfortable for some hand sizes, it features ambidextrous controls that are conveniently placed for thumb or trigger finger manipulation.
Although the grip can feel a bit odd at first because it is so untraditional, it grew on me as I manipulated the gun and actually shot it.
Adjustable rear sights for both windage and elevation, which is important because of the round’s uncommon ballistics.
Since the 5.7×28 cartridge is so small it is easy to fit a lot of ammo into a single magazine, especially when using a double stack-double feed design.
The design of the magazines is equally brilliant and lightweight. They hold 20 rounds and load in a similar fashion to standard AR magazines–you simply push the round straight down instead of maneuvering it in and under like in most pistol magazines.
The Five-SeveN is also easy to disassemble with a simple takedown lever.
Shooting the Five-SeveN is an absolute BLAST.
Imagine the almost non-existent recoil of a .22 LR juxtaposed with the noise of an AR. The first few shots fascinated me yet confused me.
I had never shot anything like it and could easily tell it is one-of-a-kind.
The lightweight frame makes for a comfortable range session while magazines are a breeze to load.
Sadly the rigger is not the greatest but features a pretty crisp break and moderate pull weight, my groups were pretty consistent with how I would normally shoot a handgun; maybe slightly better at longer ranges – likely due to the high velocity of the 5.7 ammo.
I could see this gun being liked across the spectrum, from novice shooters to seasoned vets.
The Five-SeveN has a sleek and almost futuristic look to it. It comes in either an all-black finish or a tan frame and black slide (my personal favorite).
The rail can be outfitted with a flashlight and aftermarket night sights are available for purchase as well.
Threaded barrels do exist for this gun and I can only imagine what a great time it would be shoot suppressed.
The 5.7x28mm cartridge was designed to meet a goal and in that role it is unequaled – but the Cold War is over and the need for armor penetration in an EDC is limited at best.
There is quite a bit of debate surrounding the topic of whether the Five-SeveN can be used as an effective carry gun:
On the pro side, it is extremely lightweight, has a decently heavy trigger pull and safety, very high magazine capacity, and effective stopping power.
Looking at the cons we have expensive to shoot ammo that is only available in FMJ, and the high possibility of over penetration due to such a fast round.
As with most things, it is a personal choice as to whether this is a viable carry gun or just a fun range toy to make your friends jealous. However, we tend to be on the side of the fence that says there are Better Options for Full-Size EDC.
Nice grip texture, super lightweight, but an oddly shaped grip could be uncomfortable for some.
Better than most handguns, especially at longer ranges.
I had no issues with it jamming, ever. After doing some research I did not conclude that there were any known reliability issues and NATO testing definitely backs up the effectiveness of the round.
This category is lacking a bit because the gun is not very common and the design is unique. It might just be better to leave it as it comes from the factory and trust FN’s creative design.
I like the almost futuristic and very sleek look, but it does not necessarily look special, especially for the price.
This is the real kicker. The actual gun is expensive and the ammo also expensive. While it could make a great splurge purchase, it is not exactly a cheap plinker.
Really the only downside to this gun is the price, not only out the door of your FFL but also in trying to keep it fed. There is also the fact that although 5.7x28mm was a perfect solution the problem it was designed for – there just isn’t much of a need for it currently.
But, if you have the money and the desire, it will always turn heads at the range.
If you have the chance to shoot a Five-SeveN, you should. It is unlike any gun I have ever shot and is truly a remarkable weapon.
The unicorn of the polymer pistol world is definitely not for everyone but has surely caught the attention of many. An amazing combination of a lightweight frame, high-speed but low recoil round, and loud bang come together to make the FN Five-SeveN noteworthy and intriguing.
Do you have a Five-SeveN? Plan on getting one? Let us know in the comments! Check out more of our favorite guns & gear in Editor’s Picks.
Let’s say I wanted a rifle, chambered in 5.56, with a 16-inch barrel, and I wanted it to be about the same size as an SMG.
Well, look no further, the Austrian Steyer AUG fits that need.
Eyes and ears…the two most important things to have at the shooting range. You don’t want to end up like this guy…
We bought 6 of the most popular ones across different price points and tried them out with several buddies over a bunch of range trips.
By the end, you’ll know which one is best for your budget and intended use.
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When you get shooting glasses…you want to make sure they meet some standard of impact resistance. Otherwise, what’s the point?
There are three major standards:
It’s recommended the minimum to meet is the civilian ANSI Z87.1 and if you’re really at risk of frag or projectiles…to meet the US military specs.
Now that’s out of the way…let’s get on with the 6 best shooting glasses!
My overall favorite for style, coverage, and protection is the Wiley X Saber.
It covers more angles and exceeds the military MIL-RF-31013 standards for impact resistance, UV protection, and optical clarity.
Nosepiece is pretty comfortable and adjustable while the frame is normal thickness. It didn’t smush into my head when wearing electronic earmuffs.
Also light…but not the cheap kind of light.
Smoke grey is also perfect for sunny days or gloomy days like the above.
Radians Revelations are what I consider the bare minimum to get. $8 bucks and available in a couple colors. They are decent in style but I do feel their affordable price point in the construction.
Meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards for high-velocity impacts so they’ll protect your eyes.
One great thing is that the frames are pretty thin and can bend up at angles to match almost all faces.
I got the light smoke lens and it’s a good mix for daytime and when it starts getting dark (or indoors).
All my people out there with prescription glasses…Allen Over Shooting Glasses don’t look sexy but it will go over most regular glasses.
If you have prescription sunglasses…make sure they are not glass since glass plus impact is not good. I’d opt for something like this that meets ANSI Z87.1 standards.
I always wear contacts and regular shooting glasses at the range…but this one I wore my regular glasses at home for 3 hours. It definitely adds weight but after a while, you don’t notice it.
The sides are a little thicker so it can interfere with earmuff style hearing protection. I’d opt for earplugs when wearing these.
Smoke color isn’t too dark so it should be usable for indoors shooting.
If you’re really into clay shooting…Radians Clay Shooting Glasses might be for you.
The color is meant to make the orange clays pop out. It works somewhat and I like how there’s no frame on the top to obstruct views…especially when looking upwards.
Nose is not that comfortable since it’s not adjustable. But the frame is a thin wire so earmuffs are not a problem. Very light overall but also a little flimsy.
Meets ANSI Z87.1+ standards for higher velocity.
If only I could pull off red lenses…
You can never go wrong with Oakley.
I’ve been rocking the Oakley Radar for years since it has great coverage, meets the standards, and has different sized nose pieces.
It feels great even with earmuffs and never falls off when I’m sweaty.
I also like how it makes the colors pop out and it does help a little when I’m shooting with fiber optic sights.
Another Oakley pair that was designed specifically for shooting is the Oakley Tombstone that doesn’t have the top frame. There’s the Spoil version for smaller heads and the Reap for normal/larger heads.
I really like the Smith Aegis Echo II. It has everything I want in a frame…
Meets ALL three standards, has great coverage, and fit everyone that tried it because of the adjustable nose piece. Think Oakley’s “Asian Fit” for us with smaller noses.
Also has a super thin frame that doesn’t get caught up in even tight earmuffs.
It feels quality and that means a little more weight than the others.
My only complaint is that the frame that’s “missing” in the top middle makes it a little bit too aggressive. One person asked if I was on SWAT and another if I was from the Matrix.
Otherwise…it comes with a case and two lenses so you can shoot in both day and low-light.
This is my pick for something more premium that really protects your eyes and has you set for whatever environment. As long as you can pull off the look.
There you have it…my pick for the affordable range is the Wiley X Saber.
While for those that enjoy the finer things in life (and want extra protection and lenses)…the Smith Aegis Echo II.
Now that your eyes are protected…get yourself the best ear protection out there too. We cover everything in-hand from earplugs to all the most popular electronic earmuffs in Best Shooting Ear Protection.
Are PSA’s low prices too good to be true?
For years I’ve heard of Palmetto State Armory and their ultra-affordable AR-15s. The only negative things were some finishing issues and shipping delays here and there.
But… for a long time I was a little obsessed with name brands and scoffed at sub-$500 rifles.
I finally bit the bullet…
I got three of their uppers (16″ 5.56 with front sight block, 16″ 5.56 free-float rail, 18″ stainless .223 Wylde), one of their lowers, and shot a lot of rounds through them.
By the end you’ll know if a PSA rifle/upper is right for you…and the best model to get based on your use.
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PSA sent me these three uppers and one lower for testing.
But they are going through the same testing procedures I do for all my other guns.
And at a higher round count since reliability is key when I recommend more budget-friendly options.
I spoke with PSA and the reason their AR-15s are so affordable is due to full vertical integration. From raw metal to the finished product…they do it themselves.
PSA has their Freedom line which is their most affordable and is pretty much mil-spec (meets military specifications).
However, like I outlined in our AR-15 Buyer’s Guide…I like a mid-length gas system way better than the standard carbine-length.
It gives you more rail space and a softer shooting impulse since the gas tube is longer and gas block is more forward.
Unless you’re going for the pure M4 look…I’d opt for something in the mid-length arena. Or at least their Magpul MOE furniture models so you can add some rails in the future.
For my upper with a FSB (front sight block…that triangle thing you see above), I went with a 16″ mid-length Magpul model and Nitride-coated barrel.
This gives me a longer handguard (with M-LOK), ability to add rails, Magpul rear flip sight, and a nicer barrel finish compared to phosphate.
Since it has a pinned FSB…it’s a little front-heavy….but that’s the nature of the beast. The FSB is pinned well and the handguard is really on there. You can see my segment of Picatinny I added to the handguard’s M-LOK attachment points.
The next upper would be my favorite overall setup. 16″ mid-length with a 13.5″ M-LOK free-floating barrel and Nitride barrel.
Now you get the benefit of not having a FSB which helps the weight balance, and also having a free-floating handguard that increases accuracy by taking away contact points on the barrel.
For absolute reliability I’d still opt for the FSB model…but free-float AR’s are now the standard, you can attach a lot of stuff, and the gas block is really on there.
The last model is the 18″ .223 Wylde which is a relatively new chambering that will shoot BOTH 5.56 and .223 but offers a slight accuracy edge. Usually you’ll see the more accurate barrels in stainless which is what we have here.
This comes in an even softer shooting rifle-length gas system and 15″ M-LOK free-floating rail.
All came with mil-spec A2 bird-case flash-hiders that were installed correctly and didn’t require superhuman strength to take off and switch for some compensators.
PSA seems to have three tiers of barrels.
The two 5.56 uppers I received were Nitride coated instead of regular phosphate…while the Wylde was stainless steel.
Nitride (two left black ones) is smooth while stainless is…stainless. The BCG on the right gives you a sense of what the rougher texture phosphate looks like. Nitride is supposed to be a little tougher and I like the smooth look.
I took apart the free-floating 5.56 and Wylde. Straight gas tubes…
And at least 35 in-lb of torque on the gas block with some sort of weird spill on the 5.56.
There’s not too much to say here…everything is where it’s supposed to be.
If I had to nitpick…there’s some super small machining marks on the forward assist for two of the uppers I had. Not even sure you can see them in the pics.
The Magpul mid-length polymer handguard is what it is. A great update to the mil-spec plastic handguard that can’t attach anything.
The free-floating M-LOK handguards work too. The thin profile feels great in the hand…but could use a little more TLC in the CNC to get rid of sharper edges.
Also the 13.5″ is a little on the purple-ish side and a little off in orientation between receiver and handguard…but nothing an Allen wrench and a small turn didn’t fix.
The more “premium” Wylde upper was properly aligned and colored.
As mil-spec as they come. Everything is as it should be and the gas-keys are properly staked.
The 5.56 uppers had phosphate coated BCGs (mil-spec) while the Wylde had a Nitride coated one.
If I had to nitpick again…the coating is a little bumpier than other phosphates I’ve used, but since only the rails of the BCG contact anything…there’s no real downside.
I found that the mil-spec phosphate BCGs were not MP marked (magnetic particle inspected) while the more premium .223 Wylde one was.
All the bolts were listed Carpenter 158 steel (mil-spec) but I’ve seen some PSA models where it is 9310 steel. Fine for civilian use but if you really want mil-spec…go for the Carpenter 158. The carriers were all 9620 steel (mil-spec).
Charging handles were mil-spec as well.
Since I’ve gone with aftermarket charging handles…I cannot go back (Best AR-15 Charging Handles).
I built the lower as a kit so I added a few dings here and there (How to Build an AR-15 Lower). I got the Magpul kit which has their buttstock, grip, and trigger guard.
This one also comes with PSA’s EPT trigger which is silver compared to mil-spec phosphate black. Much less grit!
But for this one I did have a little trouble threading the grip screw initially. I’m thinking the coating was a little thick since I had to muscle my way through the initial turns.
Otherwise everything installed as it should.
What really matters…right?
I took a bunch of ammo, a buddy, and the two 5.56 uppers to the range. With the goal of putting as many rounds downrange as possible.
I cleaned the barrels but otherwise did not do any break-in procedures. I started with ~300 rounds of Wolf Gold (Best AR-15 Ammo) through each one before the accuracy tests.
For the 16″ with FSB…there were two failures to load a new round after a magazine change in the first 40 rounds. However after that it shot without a hiccup.
For the M-LOK free-floating version, there was one failure to load on the first magazine change and no more problems afterwards.
This is likely due to all the parts breaking in.
Recoil was standard and mild for both 5.56 uppers. After a few mags I was easily hitting 12″ plates at 100 yards with my EOTech.
But still made me realize how spoiled I’ve been with adjustable gas-blocks and compensators (Best AR-15 Upgrades).
For the free-floating version, if you grip around the gas block like I do…you’ll feel a little heat when dumping rounds. Not enough to burn…but enough to have a red hand after 500 rounds.
Here’s my buddy and me at our second range day. I’m running my competition lower with a much better trigger (Best AR-15 Triggers).
The uppers worked flawlessly after the initial break-in on the following lowers:
While the lower worked with the following uppers:
The 5.56 barrels are the middle of the road for PSA. Let’s see how they fare.
I let the barrels cool down and then ran through Wolf Gold, PMC Bronze, American Eagle, and Federal Gold Match.
I used my standard testing platform for all my AR-15 stuff…
Targets were placed at 100 yards and I shot at a pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds. 10 shots each group.
Mil-spec is 3-4 MOA which means 3-4 inch groups at 100 yards. The FSB version falls within that (targets are 8″). With PMC Bronze doing the best of the plinking rounds at around 3 MOA.
Gold Match does the best but keep in mind it’s about $1 a shot. If you’re shooting that on a regular basis you’re probably looking at other rifles (Best AR-15s).
All in all…it’s as I expected. When there’s a front sight block there’s a whole lot of stuff touching the barrel which doesn’t help accuracy. Let’s see the free-floating model.
Much better! Looks like all the groups closed up. PMC Bronze and American Eagle are pretty even at what looks like 2 MOA. Gold Match is still the ultimate winner but it’s not THAT much off from PMC and AE.
When you have a free-floating handguard there’s less contact with the barrel and the accuracy shows.
Now how about the .223 Wylde we’ve forgotten?
Since this is a more premium barrel and made for accuracy…I did a break-in procedure with it as well as with PSA’s .224 Valkyrie (coming soon).
I cleaned the barrel and shot 1 round through before using copper solvent and a brush. Repeat the shoot and clean for 5x total. Then I changed it up to 5 shots before cleaning. Repeat 5x.
I then plinked ~200 rounds.
Finally, I was ready…
I used a different lower with a Triggertech trigger which I might actually like more than my Hiperfire (Best AR-15 Triggers). I started running low on Gold Medal so the last group only has 4 rounds.
It really looks like the FSB version instead of something that uses a tighter chamber and a free-floating handguard.
I’ll continue testing but right now looks like I would stick with PSA’s regular 5.56 offerings (free-floating of course).
The thing with PSA is that they are always in and out of stock of everything. And they have almost every combination under the sun…which makes it nice but also a headache to find what you want.
No fuss of building anything…out of the box ready to go.
I again like mid-length gas systems and it looks like their Nitride barrels are GTG. Their more premium selections (CHF) should be great as well if you have a little more to spend. I haven’t spent time with their regular barrels (phosphate), but other reviews vouch for them.
I personally like free-floating M-LOK handguards since they give you added accuracy and lots of space to put stuff. Unless you really want the look of a FSB…go for free-floating!
Already have a lower and want an affordable upper? There’s a bazillion options again…so here’s a search for 16″ mid-lengths to narrow it down a little:
Remember to choose the options with BCG (bolt carrier group), CH (charging handle), and Magpul MBUS (flip backup sights) if you need them.
Looking at complete lowers? I prefer the Magpul editions…mil-spec buttstocks and pistol grips are not great.
A little something I learned recently…retailers must add on a 11% tax for fully assembled firearms.
PSA has rifle kits which…if you’re a little handy…will save you a bunch when you build your own lower.
And be sure to get a stripped lower since the kit will contain everything except that.
Follow our How to Build an AR-15 Lower guide to put it all together.
After some minor break-in to loosen things up…my PSA uppers were fully reliable at my current round count of 1500 across all three.
It’ll do its job within mil-spec with regular plinking ammo, and seems to like PMC Bronze overall the best (Best AR-15 Ammo). Little bummed out that the .223 Wylde didn’t perform as well as it should.
Magpul kit makes it pretty good with the buttstock and pistol grip. Free-floating handguard is thin but a little too sharp around the edges.
Pretty average here but could use more consistency in color.
Bang for the Buck: 5/5
You can get a fully reliable AR for under $500…and even lower if you get the kits.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The online legends are true.
Based on my testing I can totally recommend Palmetto State Armory for an affordable AR-15 that will go bang every time.
My favorite would still be their mid-length free-floating options…but their more M4-looking FSB ones also fit the bill.
For now…stay away from their Wylde and soon I’ll have reports on their .224 Valkyrie and more. Plus I’m going to put much more rounds in all three and update if anything changes.
And once you get one…check out our AR-15 Definitive Resource for everything AR.
What do you think of the review? Is a PSA AR-15 on your horizon? Or if you already have one…how’s it working out for you?
The post Palmetto State Armory (PSA) AR-15 [3 Rifle Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.
Many people associate SHTF gear with doomsday preppers, underground bunkers, and enough ammo to support a small army.
The truth is that everyone should have an emergency supply for when shit really hits the fan – not just people who like to plan hypothetical zombie apocalypse-nuclear winter scenarios.
Speaking of zombies, if you haven’t read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) Zombie Apocalypse Plan you really should – no joke, it’s a great start to SHTF planning.
Setting aside some ammunition, extra weapons, and other survival gear is a great way to ensure the safety of you and your family in the event of an emergency.
Today we’re going to look at some SHTF gear essentials that every survivalist needs to have.
Table of Contents
Above everything else, you want to have a self-defense handgun that’s powerful enough to neutralize any incoming threat.
This will be your primary pistol, so you want to make sure that it’s something you’re comfortable shooting; don’t go purchase that .50 Desert Eagle just yet.
Personally, I believe that the best SHTF gun is a 9mm – and this has nothing to do with the debate over which cartridge is better.
The truth is that the 9mm is one of the most commonly used cartridges in the world, so coming across ammo for it is going to be much easier than a 10mm or .41 mag.
Remember, even the best gun in the most powerful caliber in the world is completely useless if you run out of ammo.
I find the absolute best SHTF gun to be the Glock 17.
Some might argue that there are better guns on the market, but the G17 is built for durability and usability.
And in a survival scenario where you might not have the time to pamper your gun like you normally would, you want a dependable gun that will still shoot accurately and cycle through ammo even with some wear-and-tear.
If you’re like most modern firearms enthusiasts, you’ve probably already got an AR-15 on hand.
If not, it’s a great home-defense weapon that you should consider adding to your arsenal. You can learn more about buying your first AR-15 by checking out our AR-15 Beginner’s Guide.
Depending on what kind of shit hits the fan, you might want to have something a little more versatile (or at least harder hitting) on hand than an AR-15 – especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.
Some would say that a Scout Rifle fits that role, and it did…70 years ago. While a scout rifle isn’t a bad idea, there are better options.
The AR-10 is a perfect example, get one chambered in .308 Win with a variable scope and you’ve got a great rifle for taking down game, protecting yourself from two-legged threats, and keeping the whole thing light enough to hike with and giving yourself 20 rounds on tap in case things go really sideways.
The Pew Pew Tactical Complete Buyer’s Guide to AR-10s will help you get started off right.
Remember, part of what makes a good SHTF gun is being able to easily replenish ammo, even in a post-apocalyptic world.
You might also want to get you a .22LR rifle if you don’t already have one.
It won’t protect you against the bad guys, but it’s useful for hunting small game to eat… if need be.
The Henry Survival Rifle is a 3.5-pound .22LR rifle that’s portable, accurate, and perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.
As the saying goes, “a .380 in your hand is better than a .45 in the glovebox.”
While I recommend keeping your .45 ACP a little closer than the glovebox (or .357 Mag, 9mm, 10mm, .44 Mag, or whatever handgun you prefer), having a backup pocket pistol on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
The idea is to have a compact gun available that you can easily grab in a pinch. I like the .380 ACP because it’s small and lightweight, but still powerful enough to neutralize a threat at close range.
Like most Glock models, the G42 is a functional handgun that’s designed specifically for performance.
In other words, it’s not flashy and it doesn’t come with extra features. But it is durable and extremely dependable, which happen to be the two most important things to look for in a backup handgun.
As the smallest of the Glock models, it should go without saying that the G42 is an incredibly easy gun to carry in your coat pocket or strapped to your ankle.
One more thing…Ammo is everything when it comes to the .380 ACP. Unlike some of the harder-hitting cartridges that’ll stop any threat dead in its tracks, the .380 ACP is only as effective as its ammo.
Using it effectively in a high-stress situation means shooting premium, self-defense ammo – not cheap rounds.
One of the more popular choices is Hornady’s Custom 90-grain XTP Jacketed Hollow-Point .380 rounds. They come highly recommend for self-defense by our friends at Lucky Gunner and they’re reasonably priced.
If the .380 ACP isn’t your style and you’re looking for something a bit more tried and tested in the field, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned .38 Special.
The Bodyguard 38 is a modern take on a law enforcement classic – the .38 snub nose.
While the Bodyguard 38 (and other .38 specials) may not be popular services pistols in today’s generation, they’ve more than proven themselves to be powerful, dependable, and more than capable of acting as a backup pistol.
Overall, the pocket pistol makes a great addition to your SHTF Kit because it’s small enough to carry on your person at all times. I recommend a .380 APC or a .38 Spl because both of them are small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to take down a threat at close range.
Ideally, the pocket pistol is something you’d only want to use as a last resort – like if your primary gun jammed or it ran out of ammo.
The last thing you want to do is stockpile ammo for an end-of-the-world scenario, only to discover that it’s corroded and functionally obsolete when it comes time to use it.
A lot of people tend to forget that ammunition has a shelf life. However, that shelf life is completely up to you. Store it right and it will last long enough for your grandchildren to use, store it wrong and you’ll kill your stock before the next deer season.
One of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of your ammo is by storing it in safe, secure containers where it’s protected from dirt and moisture.
You can learn more by reading our guide on long-term ammo storage.
In the meantime, a simple Ammo Can will go a long way towards preserving the life of your ammunition.
Honestly, every SHTF prepper should have at least one Ammo Can lying around. They’re cheap, easy to come across, and are worth their weight in gold if you ever are in a situation where you actually need to use your ammo stockpile.
Keeping a Silica gel packet in your ammo can will help ensure that your ammo lasts almost forever, they are cheap and easy to get – keeping one in every can is SOP for me.
What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?
Ideally, every home and automobile should have a first-aid kit – especially people who’re outdoor enthusiasts. For most situations, the standard first-aid kit found in most workplaces will get the job done.
But if you’re in a situation where you really did have to use your SHTF kit, there’s a greater likelihood that you won’t have easy access to paramedics and hospitals in the event of the emergency. For this type of scenario, you’re really going to want to have a little more than a burn kit, some gauze, and antiseptic ointment.
The Grizzly Series First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits is a heavy-duty kit designed specifically for the survivalist and apocalypse prepper.
It comes with everything you need to treat injuries, including QuickClot, syringes, and a tourniquet so that you can stabilize trauma victims until first responders arrive.
If you’re looking for something a little more extensive and are willing to pay more for its durable design, the Echo-Sigma Trauma Kit is also an excellent choice.
Designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day, the Echo-Sigma kit comes with all of the tools necessary to treat sprains, fractures, and cuts, as well as stabilize people who’ve experienced serious trauma from knife and gunshot wounds.
And as a bonus, it comes in a pouch that’s easy to carry around if you have to walk for extended periods of time.
We cover how to build the ultimate Range Med Kit too if you like customizing.
You’ll be surprised how much use you can get out of a good quality knife.
Not only does your survival knife act as your last line of defense, it can also be used as an important tool – especially if you’re stuck outdoors for an extended period of times.
Food prep, shelter building, making tools, and even first aid (cauterizing wounds and cutting bandages) can all be done with the help of your survival knife.
The KA-BAR is a tried-and-tested survival knife that’s been a long-time favorite among survivalists – partly because it’s also the combat knife issued to members of the US Armed Forces.
Another popular knife for your hunting trip or bugout bag is Survival Knife by Ontario Knife Company.
Functionally, it’s similar to the KA-BAR except that it comes with a gut hook for cleaning game, as well as a sawback – the serration on the top of the blade just past the hook. It’s made out of 1095 steel and has a 5” blade length, with an overall length of 9.26”.
And don’t forget a Whetstone for keeping your blades sharp without damaging them, like some of the other knife sharpening devices on the market.
Some other tools you might want to consider for your survivalist kit include:
If you ever find yourself away from your toolbox, each of these compact tools makes it significantly easier to set up shelter, make fires, and work on anything that needs tinkering.
As you already know, good gun maintenance is essential to ensuring that your gun is accurate and dependable. If you happen to find yourself in a shit-hits-the-fan moment, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need on hand.
After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to trek to the nearest outdoors store and buy more equipment.
For this reason, I recommend keeping a few extra cleaning kits around. Preferably one for your SHTF Bag and another for the trunk of your car.
Our favorite M-Pro 7 kit from Best Gun Cleaning Kits is perfect for handling most of you gun maintenance needs on the go, and it’s compact enough to be stowed away without taking up significant space.
I also recommend picking up a few packs of Break Free Weapon Wipes. They will go a long way in keeping your guns, knives, and tools clean, lubricated, and protected against corrosion – especially if you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your weapons and tools daily.
And if you don’t already have one, you should think about getting a CCW holster so that you can carry your handgun on at all times.
You can see some recommendations by reading our concealed carry holster review.
For a survival scenario, I recommend something lightweight and effective, without any of the frills. Concealment Express has a number of lightweight holsters for $35 that are durable and comfortable to carry around.
This really should be self-explanatory. You need food and water. You also need a way to get food and water after your stores have run out.
Getting food is where your firearms will come in handy, but water is a little more complex since you can’t just drink any water you find laying around – that is a quick way to get all kinds of nasty sicknesses.
For water purification, you need two options at least, one for you to get drinking water right now and one method for you to purify a lot of water.
Don’t forget – water isn’t just for drinking. You’ll also need it for cooking, cleaning, and treating injuries.
To get drinking water right away, I love my LifeStraw.
But when it comes to purifying larger amounts of drinking water you’ll need something like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.
Before the apocalypse strikes, you should have stocked up on food and water also.
I know a basement full of MREs is the more classic prepper thing to do but…anyone that has had to eat MREs for an extended period of time can tell you that…almost any other option is preferred.
Each of these pails is a 30-day food supply for one person. That is a lot of food! Throw in the fact that each of these only weighs 23 pounds and what you have is a fairly lightweight option for long-term food supply.
Long-term water storage is a little more complex than food, you’ll need water – obviously, but you’ll also need a water preserver.
Combine these two so that your water supply will last long enough for you to get through whatever has hit the fan!
Prepping for air isn’t something that you may have thought off before – but it should be on your list. If you really want to be prepared then you’ll want to find yourself a full biological suit…
…but for more run-of-the-mill applications, a good respirator will do the trick.
Being stuck in an emergency situation means that you could be forced to pack up and move at a moment’s notice.
For this reason, you need to have a dependable backpack large enough to carry your essentials like water, knives, tools, and first aid kit.
I recommend a 60-liter backpack because it’s large enough to hold your necessary equipment but not too large that it starts getting bulky and in the way.
The Tactical Backpack by Trekking King is a popular 60-liter backpack that’s durable and comfortable enough to withstand long hikes and hunting trips.
Aside from looking cool, the Tactical Backpack has a number of extra compartments for maximizing your storage capabilities. You can load it up with survival material and store it in your trunk, garage, or closet and grab it at a moment’s notice.
Here are a few things that you want to keep in your backpack to keep you prepared for the unexpected:
You should also think about buying a Shemagh from Condor Outdoors.
This traditional Middle Eastern headdress was made popular in the western world by the British SAS. It’s a versatile cloth that can be used for a number of things including:
When you’re building an SHTF bag, your goal should be to anticipate and prepare for any situation – not just the apocalyptical, but also the more common such as an earthquake, tornado, fire, and whatever else is possible to your local area.
Choosing good survival gear isn’t always about maximizing your firepower.
It’s also about making sure that you’ve got clean water, shelter, and enough supplies in the event that you have to gather your things and leave at a moment’s notice.
Are you a prepper? Do you have a store of SHTF gear? Let us know all about it in the comments!
Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: adventure medical, Aero Precision, clp, Condor, Echo Sigma, estwing, Gear, Gear Reviews, gerber, GLOCK, Henry Repeating Arms, Hornady, ka-bar, leatherman, micropur, Ontario Knife Company, Prepping, Remington, Review, Smith & Wesson, streamlight, trekking king, zippo