Rifle Archives - Page 2 of 5 -
October 17th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

[su_heading size=”30″]The Prentis Henry Rifle No. 19 Witnessed Generational Strife[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANK JARDIM

One tangible connection to the human cost of the Civil War can be found in the Frazier History Museum in Louisville,  Ky., in the form of a beautifully engraved Henry repeating rifle, serial number 19. The original owner was Connecticut native George Dennison Prentis, who was the editor of the Louisville Journal from 1830 to 1860 and a staunch abolitionist. After succession, he was an outspoken advocate of the Union even though his newspaper was absorbed by the pro-Confederate Louisville Morning Courier. On July 14, 1862, he wrote a report for the newspaper that praised the Henry.

This particular Henry rifle, with the serial number 19, originally belonged to George Dennison Prentis, then given to his son Clarence. It can now be found at the Frazier History museum in Louisville, Ky.

This particular Henry rifle, with the serial number 19, originally belonged to George Dennison Prentis, then given to his son Clarence. It can now be found at the Frazier History museum in Louisville, Ky.

“It behooves every loyal citizen to prepare himself upon his own responsibility with the best weapon of defense that can be obtained. And certainly the simplest, surest and most effective weapon that we know of, the weapon that can be used with the most tremendous results in case of an outbreak or invasion, is one that we have mentioned recently upon two or three occasions, the newly invented rifle of Henry.”

It is very likely that his Henry was a gift from the manufacturer. The Connecticut-based New Haven Arms Company hoped to make the Henry the standard-issue rifle of the Union Army and sought favorable endorsements in hopes of securing government contracts. As a matter of fact, a similar engraved rifle was presented to President Abraham Lincoln.

Ultimately, 1,731 Henry rifles were sold to the US Government for a $63,943 (about $50 each). Far more (approximately 10,000) were bought by individuals and state regiments like the 66th and 7th Illinois and the 97th Indiana. The rifles were highly prized on the battlefield. Confederates described the Henry as “that darn Yankee rifle that they load on Sunday and shoot all week.”

Over a century after being hidden by Confederates at the end of the Civil War, this rifle was found in a Memphis, Tenn., basement.

THE PROGENITOR of the Winchester repeaters, the Henry was a technological marvel in its time. It fired a .44-caliber, self-contained, metallic, rim-fire primed cartridge. The magazine held 15 shots, and one more could be loaded in the chamber, giving it more firepower than any other rifle on the battlefield. It was accurate by the standards of the day too, equipped as it was with a graduated ladder rear sight. Army tests showed it could keep 100 percent of its shots inside a 25-inch circle at 500 yards and a 48-inch circle at 1,000. Bullet weights were either 200 or 216 grains over 26 to 28 grains of black powder, giving it a muzzle velocity of 1,125 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 568 foot pounds. Ballistically it was between today’s .44 Special and .44-40 WCF of the same bullet weight, which leads me to wonder how much energy it had left at 200 yards, much less either of the Army test ranges. Compared to the standard rifled musket of the era, the .44 Henry was a pipsqueak, and that insured it would never be selected for general issue to troops. However, at ranges of less than 100 yards the Henry’s accuracy and power were perfectly adequate, and its speed and firepower proved devastating to the enemy in  close combat.

THE HISTORY OF GEORGE PRENTIS’S Henry rifle is not a happy one. Though he supported the Union, his two sons, William Courtland and Clarence J., believed in the merits of the Confederate cause and actually fought for the South. William took his father’s rifle to war and died leading his troops in the Battle of Augusta, Ky., on September 18, 1862. The rifle and the sad news made their way back home to George. The Henry left his home again, for the last time, when his remaining son joined the Confederate cause. Reaching the rank of colonel, Clarence survived the war and his father pleaded that he be shown clemency. The rifle never came home. Hidden by Confederate soldiers, it was rediscovered a century later in a Memphis, Tenn. basement. ASJ

The Henry repeating rifle holds a longstanding legacy for its accuracy and being a technological marvel in its time.The Henry repeating rifle holds a longstanding legacy for its accuracy and being a technological marvel in its time.

Posted in History Tagged with: , , ,

July 6th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

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.

The Steyr AUG is a bullpup rifle that manages to pack a lot in a little space. It does this by placing the action behind the trigger group. This includes the magazine, bolt, and ejection port.

Steyr AUG

Steyr AUG

Prices accurate at time of writing

What the engineers at Steyr did was create a simple rifle, that incorporated a 16-inch barrel in a gun the same size as an SMG. Seriously, let’s use Die Hard as a reference because we’re Die Hard fans.

The Steyr AUG is only 28.15 inches with a 16-inch barrel and its chambered in a rifle caliber. That’s a pretty substantial rifle in a tiny package. That’s the magic of a bullpup.

AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR
AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR

Smaller guns are easier to handle in close quarters, but in rifle calibers that usually means a shorter barrel.

A shorter barrel in a rifle caliber usually means less range and a drop in ballistic performance. The Steyr AUG is the best of both worlds in many ways.

AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15
AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15

Table of Contents

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My AUG

The Steyr AUG’s current incarnation is the Steyr AUG A3 M1. This particular rifle sports a 1.5x optic, but is available with a 3x optic, or no optic and a scope rail. This is the NATO model, so it does accept AR 15 magazines.

Best Magazine
Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

The downside is that you lose the ability to swap the gun to a left-handed configuration. With the standard model you can do that, but has to use the less common AUG mags. Although, the 42 round semi-transparent AUG magazine has a place in my heart.

The gun weighs 8.8 pounds with an optic, and in the world of lightweight ARs, it’s a little hefty. However, once you pick it up the balance is perfect. The slightly heavier than average weight isn’t that significant.

AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG
AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG

The optic on the gun sports Pic rails for attaching a small red dot, or whatever else you may want. There is also a small section on the left-hand side for an accessory. It is perfect for a light attachment.

A Streamlight TLR-1 with a simple switch lever works well here. It’s made for a pistol, but due to the rails placement near the support hand, it’s easy to turn on and off.

Not much room for accessories...
Not much room for accessories…

Other than that there isn’t much room for accessories. You can’t load this thing down like a traditional AR, but do you need to?

One of the cool features is how easy and quick you can remove the barrel. Right above the folding pistol grip is a small button, you move the button forward with one hand and pull the barrel with the other. Bam, it’s off.

In the past Steyr produced the AUG para kit which allowed you to convert the gun to 9mm with just a few changes, the barrel is one of them. Those kits seem few and far between these days.

You can swap the barrels out though. You can add a 20 inch, or even a 24-inch barrel to your AUG. This allows to convert the AUG to a DMR style weapon or pretend it is the squad support model of the AUG.

Ergonomics

This is my first real experience with a bullpup. I’ve played and toyed with some in the past, but this was my first time running and gunning with one. I’m keeping that in mind as I judge ergos.

Base Ergonomics

Everything feels right about this gun. The stock is nice and full and fits comfortably into the shoulder. The 15-inch LOP is excellent with or without armor. (Disclaimer I’m also 6’4” and have gorilla arms.)

The grip angle is perfect, and it better be because it can’t be changed. I’ve always like vertical foregrips, and this one works as intended. Without it, you wouldn’t have much space to grip the rifle.

AUG ADS
Aiming down the AUG optical sight

Since this gun doesn’t have a proper forend trying to rest it on barriers is almost impossible. Also if you don’t like the location of the VFG… Well too bad, because it can’t be moved.

Lastly, the gun is equipped with two QD sling swivels for right-handed users only. Perfect for my favorite Blue Force Gear Vickers sling.

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Reloading

As a Marine and AR owner, I’m used to a more standard layout, and my muscle memory was clinging to that style. It took a lot of practice both dry and live fire for me to master the ergos. Admittedly reloading is nowhere near as intuitive as an AR or standard layout rifle.

I did a lot of practice reloads and eventually found my way of reloading efficiently, but I don’t feel I’d ever be as fast as I am with a standard rifle. The gun has two mag releases and both work depending on your style of reloading.

Reloading the AUG isn’t the most natural of movements…but you can train into it

The first is a small button forward of the magazine well. The second is a rear lever placed right behind the magazine. I prefer the rear lever. If I keep my thumb pointing up on my fresh magazine my thumb presses the lever up and releases the magazine.

I grip it with the same hand, remove it, reload, and carry on.

Controls

The controls used outside of reloading are very simple and intuitive. The charging handle is placed on the left side and easy to reach and use. That being said it takes a little force to get that bolt back.

AUG Safety
Square cross bolt safety located back and above of the trigger

The safety is just a square push button, and it works as intended, is easy to use, and provides a tactile method of knowing what state your rifle is in.

Live Fire

The gun points exceptionally well. It feels so natural to take it from low ready to high ready and fire. It’s short size, and excellent balance comes into effect here. It points so well it’s honestly easy to fire with one hand.

I’m no physics buff, but the fact that most of the gun is to the rear and barely any barrel is forward of the shooter means the muzzle is much easier to control. Remember the exaggerated C-Clamp so many guys use with ARs?

AUG ADS Side
AUG cheek weld is easy to aquire

The same theory is in effect here. Recoil is typical of a 5.56 caliber weapon, so there isn’t much to say other than its minimal and pleasant.

The most prominent downside to the AUG is its trigger. If you run Timneys in your AR, then you will be aghast at the AUG’s trigger. It’s functional, but far from the match grade performance many of us are accustom to.

It’s squishy, the pull is long, and it’s quite gritty. It’s 9 pounds, and you feel every ounce of it. I wouldn’t take it to an NRA High Power match, or a precision rifle contest. With that said it’s not bad enough to make you miss, just bad enough to open up your groups a bit.

Uses

This rifle could be used for a wide variety of purposes. It’s certainly an exciting gun to bring to 3-Gun, albeit reloading may be a little tricky for speedy purposes. It’s certainly a great home defense weapon.

The compact size is perfect for inside the house and close quarters use. It’s balanced well, in a competent caliber, and even equipped with a suppressor it’s still roughly the same size as a standard AR 15.

AUG ADS Rear
Careful of that ejection port, lefties beware of righthanded rifles!

As a duty gun, it’s served several countries exceptionally well. At one point it was even adopted by the Department of Homeland Security. The AUG is one of the longest-serving bullpup rifles out there and its proven in terms of reliability and usefulness.

It’s an excellent gun for smaller shooters who want to exercise the most control over their weapon possible. It’s got a great length of pull, gives the shooter an excellent degree of control over the gun, and with a little time and effort put into training, the controls are flawless.

The last use is, of course, the best one, it’s fun. It’s fun to shoot, it looks like a space gun, and its a dream to shoot. Plus, it’s excellent for shooting glass. (last Die Hard reference I promise.)

Upgrades

We all like accessorizing our guns, but unfortunately, the AUG doesn’t have a massive aftermarket. There are a few companies producing some excellent, high-quality upgrades. Corvus Defensio comes to mind immediately.

The big problem is that the AUG itself doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization. It’s a simple weapon, and it was designed over thirty years ago.

AUG taking a nap on a tree
AUG taking a nap on a tree after a long day at the range

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

The thing never went click when it should have gone bang. I went through everything from nice TAP ammo to cheap Tula and it worked. No issues ejecting, loading, or firing. The AUG has been around long enough that any such problems would be corrected by now.

Ergonomics 3/5

The gun gets really high marks in some areas and low marks in others. The trigger kinda sucks and I’m taking a point away solely for that. Reloading is an iffy proposition, and will never be AR fast, but with practice, it’s intuitive enough. The other big flaw is that should the gun have a failure the placement of the ejection port makes squick access difficult.

Accuracy 4/5

The gun is quite accurate and capable of producing respective groups. It well beyond Minute of Bad Guy accuracy and out to several hundred yards I can hit the chest area of my targets. The trigger is kinda crap takes a point off.

Accessories and Upgrades 2/5

I’m going to give it one point for the barrel and bipod options and 1 point for potential. The Steyr AUG is so simple it seems like it would be easy to do caliber conversions, offer different forward grips, and really change things up. Unfortunately, the rifle isn’t popular enough in the US to receive the AR treatment.

Looks 5/5

So this is obviously subjective and my 5 rating is clearly based on a lot of inherent bias about this gun. It looks cool to me. Sorry, but it always will. Objectively I can say the finish is nice and evenly applied, and looks smooth and classy. The stock’s FDE mixed with the black metal gives a nice balanced look of colors.

Bang for Your Buck Value 2/5

This is not a cheap gun by any stretch. It’s not even really a cheap bullpup these days. On average it’s at least 500 bucks more than the base model of the Tavor. Compared to the AR market it’s even higher than some nice Daniel Defense AR rifles. I’m giving it a 2 because if you want an AUG it’s really your only option… and it’s not FN SCAR money.

Overall 3.5/5

The Steyr AUG is a great gun. It does have some flaws, and if it was available for around 1,500 bucks it’d be a real winner. This particular model typically retails for over 2k and that’s a hard sell. It’s a straight-shooting, compact, and well-designed platform that shows us what a bullpup can really do.

Do you have an AUG? How do you like it? What other bullpups do you love (Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns)? Most importantly, what is your favorite Die Hard movie? Let us know in the comments!

The post Steyr AUG [Hands-On Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

May 31st, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

You’ve probably heard that the US military is replacing the M16/M4 and looking into new rifles and ammo.  (US Army and Marine Corp) Wondering why they’re looking into 6.5 Creedmoor in particular? No, its not because the Russians are out gunning us. Here’s the scoop.

There are a couple things you should know about 6.5 Creedmoor and today, we’ll put this round into sharper focus for you.  So let’s look at it in more detail so that you’ll see why it works for the military and why it could work for you.

Creedmoor Kicks Ass at Long Range

6.5mm Creedmore Cartridge
6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge

Right off the bat, the US Special Operations Command understood all the good things about this cartridge as an alternative to its existing ammo.
The cartridge was introduced in 2008 as one of the first and best cartridges for precision long range shooting.

At the time, there weren’t a lot of civilians shooting long range, but in recent years, the company has seen demand grow in the hunting industry, and grow as manufacturers continue to put out more affordable long range rifles.
Today, it is the go-to cartridge for many hunters and competitive shooters.

Long Distance Shooters
Long Distance Shooters Love Creedmoor

Precision long range shooting skill a learned trait which is an advantage to have in combat and the military seems to be catching onto Creedmoor’s awesome reputation and populatiry for shooting close and tight precision groups at 500 yards or more.

Having a bigger bullet means you’ll do bigger damage to your target, whether your target is a tango or a blood thirsty wild hog.  

Our brothers in arms go through enough shit.  The last thing they need is hellish recoil.
If there’s one thing you won’t get with 6.5 Creedmoor, is its crazy blowback.

US Military in Desert
These guys don’t need to be dealing with blowback.

6.5 Creedmoor is specially designed for low recoil rounds without compromising pinpoint accuracy.
Did you also know that it can go subsonic after 1,300 yards?

When it comes to tactical applications, this cartridge packs a serious wallop

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQHVgZq_6nk?start=90]

6.5 Creedmoor vs.  .308 Winchester

There are some long range groups think that there aren’t any real differences between 6.5 Creedmoor and the long-established .308 Win.
But those people would be ill-informed.
The truth is, they are very similar, however there are some things in which they differ.

First there is the huge gap between the two when it comes to ballistics.  6.5 Creedmoor loads can reach a thousand yards with less than three hundred inches of drop with proper windage.  
This is true of just about any ammo, particularly Hornady 178 grain HPBT, that is used with a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.  
The .308 Win doesn’t compare to that kind of numbers.

6.5 Creedmore and .308 Winchester Cartridges Compared
The Cartridges Compared

Another area in which 6.5 Creedmoor often bests .308 Win is in its accessibility.  
A lot of .308 ammo is out of stock when you visit
the major online ammo dealers.
But if you run a search for Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 gr AMAX, they’re everywhere.

And thats the other thing that is very good news for the military and all of us: there are plenty of dealers – large and small – from which they could order 6.5 ammo in bulk.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor
Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor

Another argument that comes up is about barrel longevity, claiming that the 6.5 Creedmoor only last for 2-3,000 rounds whereas the .308 Win will be good for as many as 10,000 rounds.

This is simply bogus since it all depends on whether you’re shooting 1 MOA.
Theres just no way that the .308 could be reaching that mark at 10,000.

If you’re using it with a precision rifle or for seasonal deer shooting, you’re going to go long ways with your 6.5 Creedmoor, no if, and, or buts..about it, except the butt you put a bullet in.

And thats another thing.  Combat isn’t always what it looks like in movies and on TV.  For those that have served can tell you that there are many days where you don’t see much action and, even when you do, its not necessarily a rapid fire situation.
But Murphy’s law does exist when the shit hits the fan.

If you’re an active duty sniper (Marksman Observer), you’re gonna get a whole lot more life outta your 6.5 Creedmoor than you would with the .308.

Solving the Problem
What’s really crazy about the 6.5 versus .308 argument is the simple fact that 6.5 Creedmoor was specifically conceived to be a cartridge that would be superior to the wildcat cartridges of the day.
As the story goes at the Civilian Marksmanship Program 2007 National Matches at Camp Perry, Hornady engineer Dave Emary decided to remedy what he saw as a problem among competitive shooters.

Dave Emary
The Man Himself

As Emary saw it, people were trying to push their cartridges to the limit, attempting to defy the laws of physics by brainstorming methods by which to get their cartridges to perform at levels that weren’t made to.  Problems would then crop up as a result of these jeri-rigging formulas.

In Emary’s own words, “People were having a lot of problems with functioning the 6mms.  They were running these things at very high pressures to try to get the performance they need to compete.”
“Our solution was to go to a 6.5, firing a lot higher BC bullet, and not have to push it as hard to get what they wanted.”

Dave Emary in the Hornady Workshop
Dave Emary in the Hornady Workshop

Emary and his team solved this problem by taking existing .264 cartridges and altering the specs, giving the cartridge the capacity for long-ogive, high-ballistic rounds.
Lo and behold the 6.5 was born, a short-action rifle cartridge capable of insane performance.

Make Your Hunting Experience a Good One

Like I said earlier, this cartridge isn’t just a slam dunk for the military should they end up choosing it over the others they’ve been testing.
Its also a damn good option for almost any civilian hunter or gun enthusiast.

If you didn’t hear the news: USSOCOM has adopted the 6.5 CM as their new Precision Rifle cartridge. It was a close call between the 260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor, but the 6.5 CM won the day due to the military’s belief that the 6.5 CM has more room for innovation for the future.

Many target shooters have taken to the Ruger Precision Rifleand my targets gets shredded to pieces.  The results are always incredible.  At long range, many are saying the the CM leave 2.8 inches at five hundred yards.

Ruger Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rifle

But the advantages for game hunters is where this one really shines.  Its got a sick muzzle velocity due to its extra powder space and its able to accommodate a wealth of different medium-burning rifle powders.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t automatically think of long-range shooting when it comes to big game.  After all, ethical hunting requires limiting your range to as short as possible to ensure a clean kill. 

That being said, it should also stand to reason that if 6.5 Creedmoor can take out a target at 500 yards, its going to take care of business at 100 yards with no problem.

Long Range Hunting
If you can kill it from this far away, then you can kill it from just about anywhere in between.

From personal experience, I’ve seen how this can perform in a close quarters situations and I was every bit as impressed as I was when I hunted with the .308.
The round went right where I wanted it to and I bagged a deer without a rechamber.  Like I said: clean humane kill.

Why 6.5 Creedmoor is Awesome for Target Shooting

Better grouping and more affordable ammo makes the 6.5 Creedmoor a no-brainer for those who camp out a lot at the firing range.

Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor
Holes in Target from a 6.5 Creedmoor

When we take into account the rising cost of ammo in the last few years and the scrutiny that many firearm and ammo companies have faced, 6.5 ammo maintains a reasonable price point and remains readily available.

Bulk Ammo Storage
And cheaper when you buy in bulk. so stock up.

And when it comes to high-end ballistics, you can’t beat these suckers.  The BC numbers on these bad boys are awe-inspiring (approximately .610 G1 at 140 grain).  If you’re looking to impress, you really can’t go wrong with the 6.5’s remarkable 1,400 fps at 1,000 yards(!).

Best 6.5 CM Ammo

If you want the very best from this cartridge, you’ll have to get into reloading. You can start with our Beginner’s Guide To Reloading But if you’re not into that, then you’ll need something you can pick up at the store.

Training/Plinking

If you’re on the range to have fun, you don’t want to spend a fortune. But this also isn’t the kind of caliber that you buy cheap, crappy ammo for – you’ll want something that shoots consistent and for a fair price.

Sellier & Bellot is what you’re looking for, from 9mm to 6.5CM they make a good product for a good price.

Sellier & Bellot 6.5 Creedmoor 140g FMJBT - 20 Rounds

Sellier & Bellot 6.5 Creedmoor 140g FMJBT – 20 Rounds

Match Grade Long-Range Target

Of course, once you’re ready to really stretch your legs and see what this bad boy can do – it’s time to get out the good stuff!

Match grade ammo isn’t cheap, but it is amazing. Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Extremely Low Drag match bullet is outstanding for factory ammo. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve been getting half-MOA with this ammo.

Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 120gn ELD Match - 20 Rounds

Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 147gn ELD Match – 20 Rounds

Prices accurate at time of writing

Hunting

When it comes to hunting ammo, you want great ammo. Not only for accuracy but also with a bullet that will expand and do a lot of damage to your target to ensure a clean, humane kill.

Hornady with their Super Shock Tip bullets gives that every time. A polymer tip gives you the ballistics of FMJ with the expansion and killing power of a hollow-point.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 129 gr SST Polymer Tip - 20 Rounds

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 129 gr SST Polymer Tip – 20 Rounds

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best 6.5 CM Rifles

A cool cartridge is only as good as the weapon that throws it, just like a weapon that throws it is only as good as what it throws.

Hunting Rifle

For a budget hunting rifle, it’s hard to beat the Savage Arms 12 FV – not only is this a solid rifle out of the box, but it is at a price that is hard to beat. I commonly see this is the $370-$410 range. 

Savage Arms 12 FV

Savage Arms 12 FV

Prices accurate at time of writing

Long-Range Precision Target Rifle

I already said it, but when it comes to long-range target shooting the Ruger Precision Rifle is just too good to beat. For the price, the options, the aftermarket, and the out-of-the-box quality – you want this rifle.

Ruger Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rifle

Honorable Mention Rifle

A dedicated rifle for every role is the dream for many of us, but if you don’t have the room in your safe (or your budget) for that then you might want to consider a middle of the road do-it-all rifle.

The Tikka T3x is that rifle. Rugged, lightweight, smooth as butter action and outstanding trigger – a Tikka T3x is my go-to hunting rifle.

On the precision side, Tikka offers a 1 MOA from the factory guarantee and lives up to it!

Best Scopes for 6.5 CM Rifles

Once you have your ammo and rifle picked out,  you’ll want to invest in a quality scope.  Depending on what role your 6.5 Creedmoor will be filling you might want a couple of scopes!

For hunting, you’ll generally want something a little lower magnification, like this Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x.

Crossfire II 2-7x32 by Vortex

Crossfire II 2-7×32 by Vortex

But if you’re looking to do some real precision shooting, really put this cartridge to the test, then you’ll need something with a LOT more magnification: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x fills the bill!

Highest Magnification
Vortex Golden Eagle HD 15-60x52

Vortex Golden Eagle HD 15-60×52

Other Accessories

Another important thing to keep in mind when purchasing any cartridge is maintenance.  If you’re going to be participating in extended shooting sessions, you should always bring along the proper gear for cleaning your rifle and cartridge.  Maintenance will help you to sustain that pinpoint precision you’re hoping for.

I always take my J Dewey Rods’ Complete Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Kit with me when I know I’m gonna spend all day at the range or out in the field.  The 6.5 kit costs around $30 and includes everything I need for proper upkeep.

J Dewey Rods

J Dewey Rods’ Complete Bolt Action Rifle Cleaning Kit

Prices accurate at time of writing

You get a BAC Chamber Kit, a B-6.5 Bore brush, an M-22 Bore mop, a CH-308 Chamber brush and a 100 count of P-221 1 ½” Round Patches.

Closing Thoughts

So what’s the bottom line? Quite simply, 6.5 Creedmoor is a formidable cartridge for tactical and target shooting applications alike.  

At the end of the day, the battle between 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester will wage on, but I think it’s clear that 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t going anywhere.

If anything, it’s only going to continue to grow in popularity as more and more long range shooters embrace it.  

What about you! Did you get the 6.5 Creedmoor? Take any game this year with it? Do you agree with the military adopting it? Let us know in the comments!

Reviews by Megan Kriss, revised by ASJ Staff

Posted in Ammo Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 20th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

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…

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

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.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Table of Contents

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Who Is It For?

  • Budget conscious buyers who want something that works and can overlook some details like perfect finishing and dead-on accuracy
  • Someone who wants a lot of options in terms of barrel length and handguard
  • People who can wait a while for something to go into stock or ship

Why Is It So Cheap?

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.

Fit, Feel, & Finish

PSA has their Freedom line which is their most affordable and is pretty much mil-spec (meets military specifications).

PSA 16" Freedom Rifle

PSA 16″ Freedom Rifle

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Barrels & Gas Systems

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.

PSA 16" Mid-Length Uppers

PSA 16″ Mid-Length Uppers

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

 PSA 16" Nitride with FSB
PSA 16″ Nitride with FSB

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.

PSA Pinned FSB
PSA Pinned FSB

The next upper would be my favorite overall setup.  16″ mid-length with a 13.5″ M-LOK free-floating barrel and Nitride barrel.

PSA 16" Nitride Free Floating
PSA 16″ Nitride Free Floating

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.

PSA FSB vs Free-Floating
PSA FSB vs Free-Floating

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.

PSA .223 Wylde 18"
PSA .223 Wylde 18″

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.

Barrels

PSA seems to have three tiers of barrels.

  1. Premium: chrome-lined or CHF (cold hammer forged) that are made by FN
  2. Standard: Nitride, Melonite, and stainless barrels
  3. Basic: phosphate coated

The two 5.56 uppers I received were Nitride coated instead of regular phosphate…while the Wylde was stainless steel.

PSA Barrel Coatings
PSA Barrel Coatings

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…

Straight Gas Tube
Straight Gas Tube

And at least 35 in-lb of torque on the gas block with some sort of weird spill on the 5.56.

PSA 5.56 Gas Block Torque
PSA 5.56 Gas Block Torque

Upper Receivers

There’s not too much to say here…everything is where it’s supposed to be.

PSA Upper Receivers
PSA Upper Receivers
  • Ejection port door works
  • Forward assist works
  • Charging handle feels mil-spec and works
  • T-Markings present and easy to read
  • Evenly phosphate coated

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.

Small Machining Marks on Upper Receivers
Small Machining Marks on Upper Receivers

Handguards

The Magpul mid-length polymer handguard is what it is.  A great update to the mil-spec plastic handguard that can’t attach anything.

PSA 5.56 Uppers
PSA 5.56 Uppers

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.

PSA Handguard Misalignment
PSA Handguard Misalignment

The more “premium” Wylde upper was properly aligned and colored.

BCG + Charging Handles

As mil-spec as they come.  Everything is as it should be and the gas-keys are properly staked.

PSA BCGs Disassembled
PSA BCGs Disassembled

The 5.56 uppers had phosphate coated BCGs (mil-spec) while the Wylde had a Nitride coated one.

PSA Phosphate & Nitride BCGs
PSA Phosphate & Nitride BCGs

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.

PSA Bolts
PSA Bolts (Bottom is Wylde)

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.

PSA Charging Handles
PSA Charging Handles

Since I’ve gone with aftermarket charging handles…I cannot go back (Best AR-15 Charging Handles).

Lower

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!

PSA Lower
PSA Lower

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.

How Does It Shoot?

What really matters…right?

PSA 5.56 Testing
PSA 5.56 Testing

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.

PSA Break-In
PSA Break-In

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.

PSA 5.56 Uppers
PSA 5.56 Uppers

But still made me realize how spoiled I’ve been with adjustable gas-blocks and compensators (Best AR-15 Upgrades).

Adjustable Gas Block & Compensator
Adjustable Gas Block & Compensator

One thing…

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).

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/6anh6ves58.jsonp https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

Compatibility

The uppers worked flawlessly after the initial break-in on the following lowers:

  • Aero Precision (x2)
  • Colt
  • Anderson
  • Daniel Defense

While the lower worked with the following uppers:

  • Aero Precision (x2)
  • Colt
  • Daniel Defense

Accuracy

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.

PSA 5.56 Testing Rounds
PSA 5.56 Testing Rounds

I used my standard testing platform for all my AR-15 stuff…

Testing PSA FSB
Testing PSA FSB

Targets were placed at 100 yards and I shot at a pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds.  10 shots each group.

PSA FSB Accuracy
PSA FSB Accuracy

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.

PSA Free Floating Accuracy
PSA Free Floating Accuracy

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?

PSA .223 Wylde 18"
PSA .223 Wylde 18″

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).

PSA Breakin Procedure
PSA Breakin Procedure

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…

PSA .223 Wylde Testing
PSA .223 Wylde Testing

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.

PSA .223 Wylde Accuracy
PSA .223 Wylde Accuracy

Disappointing…

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).

Recommended Models

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.

Complete Rifles

No fuss of building anything…out of the box ready to go.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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!

Uppers

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:

PSA 16" Mid-Length Uppers

PSA 16″ Mid-Length Uppers

Prices accurate at time of writing

Remember to choose the options with BCG (bolt carrier group), CH (charging handle), and Magpul MBUS (flip backup sights) if you need them.

Lowers

Looking at complete lowers?  I prefer the Magpul editions…mil-spec buttstocks and pistol grips are not great.

PSA Complete AR-15 Lowers

PSA Complete AR-15 Lowers

Prices accurate at time of writing

Rifle Kits

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.

PSA 16" Rifle Kits

PSA 16″ Rifle Kits

Prices accurate at time of writing

And be sure to get a stripped lower since the kit will contain everything except that.

PSA Stripped Lower

PSA Stripped Lower

Prices accurate at time of writing

Follow our How to Build an AR-15 Lower guide to put it all together.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

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.

Accuracy: 3/5

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.

Ergonomics: 4.5/5

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.

Looks: 4/5

Pretty average here but could use more consistency in color.

Customization: 5/5

It’s an AR-15 with M-Lok so the sky’s the limit.  Check out my list of the Best AR-15 Upgrades & Best AR-15 Optics if you need help.

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

Conclusion

The online legends are true.

PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde
PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde

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.

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Palmetto State Armory (PSA) Complete AR-15s

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , ,

May 16th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Looking for bull barrel accuracy in a lightweight package?

Check out the new generation of barrels…carbon fiber, baby!

BSF Barrel, No Handguard
BSF Barrel, Fully Exposed

We cover the most popular ones in Best Carbon Fiber Barrels…but today we focus on BSF which brings us perforated carbon fiber instead of a wrap.

Plus…compared to the others out there…the BSF is the most affordable (I use that term loosely).

Carbon Fiber Goodness
BSF Barrels .223 Wylde Carbon Fiber 1/8 Twist

BSF Barrels .223 Wylde Carbon Fiber 1/8 Twist

Who Is It For?

  • Competition shooters who want a stiff bull barrel profile but not all the weight
  • Shooters who don’t want their barrel heating up and all the accuracy problems that come with it
  • Someone who needs your barrel to look really really cool

About BSF

I only heard about BSF in the last year but they are making a splash in the carbon fiber (CF) arena with their perforated barrels instead of standard wraps.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZneBNCxA8k?rel=0&start=12]

My understanding is that there’s a 416R stainless steel match barrel underneath there that is covered with CF.  However…95% of the CF doesn’t even touch the steel (only 4 contact points: chamber, before/after the gas block, and near the muzzle).

This creates air gaps that cool the barrel through the perforations.

BSF Barrel Closeup
BSF Barrel Closeup

I was lucky enough to try this out in a new build thanks to Rainier Arms who sent me a barrel for testing.

Fit & Feel

The barrel was a sight to behold.  Even the wife said it was cool…and by now all the barrels and uppers around the house look the same to her.

I tried out the 16.5″ .223 Wylde in 1:8 twist which clocks in at 26.9 oz.  Compare that to a standard M4 profile 16″ barrel at 28 oz.  If you want to go bull barrel stainless…it can reach 3 lbs (48 oz).  I couldn’t find exact numbers since I could only find 18″ bull barrels that are over 3.5 lbs.

BSF Complete Upper
BSF Complete Upper

My full build which contains all my favorites:

Install

It is a little more difficult to install since there’s no barrel shoulder to gauge where to put the gas block.  But if you have an electronic caliper…you should be good.

My go-to Superlative Arms block (this time in .936 for the bull barrel) went on easily after I made a small etch marking on the stainless section of the barrel.

BSF Barrel with Superlative Gas Block
BSF Barrel with Superlative Gas Block

Otherwise with my combo of the Brigand Arms CF handguard…I found that it rubbed the top of the gas block.  Which technically makes it no longer free-floating…but I wanted to see how it would shoot still.

My second build was with a Midwest ML G3 handguard which made it true free-floating plus a stiffer Aero upper receiver instead of the F1.

Competition Rifle with BSF Barrel
2nd Rifle Build with BSF Barrel

Testing

What you’ve been waiting for…does it actually work?

I conducted two rounds of tests…one with the touching CF handguard and one with the free-floating.

BSF Barrel Testing
BSF Barrel Testing

200 round break-in, targets at 100 yards, and shooting at a fast pace (as soon as sights were back on target) with no cooling down period.

And an assortment of my Best AR-15 Ammo.

BSF Barrel Groups
BSF Barrel Groups

If these were my regular groups with some cool-down and a slow steady shooting pace…I’d be a little disappointed.  But I wanted to test how the heat dissipation worked and how it would perform in a little more competitive arena.

In that regard…I’m pretty impressed.  It was pretty happy with Wolf Gold (the cheapest ammo) and very happy with Gold Match ($$$).

I also shot 30 rounds as fast as I could at the range and held the barrel.  Only warm!

BSF Barrel 30 Round Dump
BSF Barrel 30 Round Dump

In my second round of tests on another range day, I used the Midwest Handguard and Aero upper.  And a new Triggertech trigger which I actually like the most now.

BSF Barrel Testing, Round 2
BSF Barrel Testing, Round 2

And the results were on par…

BSF Barrel Groups, Round 2
BSF Barrel Groups, Round 2

All in all…pretty happy about the groups when I was shooting as fast as I could get on target with no cool down.

I’m sure if I started hand-loading I could really close up the groups.  But it’s a pain to prep .223/5.56 brass so I stopped doing that.  But even with this I was ringing steel at 300-400 pretty easily on a 1-6x scope.

Specifications:

  • Lightest .936 bull barrel
  • Chambered in .223 Wylde
  • Twist Rate 1:8
  • Drilled to vent heat-fastest cooling carbon fiber barrel
  • Carbon sleeved space between the carbon and stainless barrel- there are air gaps in between the stainless and the carbon
  • Can be held without burning hand after 60 consecutive shots
  • Match grade double stress relieved
  • Roll wrapped carbon is 3 times stronger than stainless steel

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

No failures of any kind in the ~400 rounds I shot through.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

Great groups when you consider shooting with no cool down and as fast as I could get back on target.  A 5 would be consisten sub-moa even at high speed.

Looks: 5/5

I’d make it a 10 if I could.  But it really stands out…especially with the sweet carbon fiber drilled holes.

Bang for the Buck: 3.5/5

It’s $500…would I count it as double a really high quality 16″ Wylde barrel?  Probably not.  But if you’re at the top of your game or want an unfair advantage in relation to your groups opening up due to heat…this could be it.  However…the most affordable out of other CF options.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Conclusion

I believe the hype of carbon fiber barrels now.

Take a lightweight bull barrel profile with great groups at speed…and you have a winner.  If you have the coin for a sweet new build…check out BSF.  It’s definitely my new competition rifle.

Ringing steel at 100 was easy standing up and with a 1x.  The rifle was well balanced and once I got the Superlative Arms gas block tuned in…it felt like a pea shooter.

Competition Rifle with BSF Barrel
Competition Rifle with BSF Barrel

I’ll be reporting back as I get more rounds and comps through it.

Carbon Fiber Goodness
BSF Barrels .223 Wylde Carbon Fiber 1/8 Twist

BSF Barrels .223 Wylde Carbon Fiber 1/8 Twist

Otherwise…check out our other Best AR-15 Barrels for something more bang-for-the-buck for the everyday shooter.

The post BSF Carbon Fiber Barrel [Review] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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

May 2nd, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Deer seasons in most of the USA doesn’t start until September – but if you’re looking to harvest some whitetail this year you’re probably already planning your hunt now.  

Hopefully, you’re planning on shooting and developing your loads for upcoming hunts and maybe spending some time hiking, working out and getting ready for long days in the field and packing that hard-earned venison back to the trailhead. If you haven’t started yet, get going.

Hunting Is Never This Easy
Hunting Is Never This Easy

This fall some 10 million hunters will go afield in search of the whitetail buck of their dreams.  On average, about 6 million deer will be harvested.

Though the numbers seem astronomical, consider this.  In 1900 it is estimated that less than 500,000 whitetail deer remained in the US.  As of 2013, there were an estimated 32,000,000 whitetails.  

A true conservation success story and one that points to the hunter as the true conservationist.

The whitetail deer is the most popular big-game species to hunt.  Partly because of the sheer numbers, but also because the whitetail can be found from as far north as the  Arctic Circle in Canada to Brazil and Peru in South America.

From the east coast to the west coast whitetails can be found in every state in the Lower 48.

Whitetails live in vastly different habitats.  You may find them in the edges around agricultural operations such as beans, corn, and alfalfa.  Some you find at high elevation in the aspens in Colorado and Wyoming. Others prefer the tight, close confines of the river bottoms.  

Because of the adaptability of whitetails, where you hunt will largely determine the rifle and ammo combination needed to be successful.

The whitetail is the smallest of the deer species in North America.  On average a mature buck will weigh about 150 pounds, and a doe about 100 pounds.  They are thin-skinned and have a relatively dainty bone structure.

So cleanly killing a whitetail does not take a specialized or heavy rifle and cartridge.  A well-placed bullet from nearly any centerfire rifle will allow you to ethically take whitetail deer.

What About The Guns?

There are a lot of options when it comes to rifle and cartridges, let’s take a look at some good choices for whitetail hunting to get you started down the path to a whitetail hunting career.

(top to bottom) Tikka T3 Lite .308, Savage Model 99 .300 Savage, Winchester Model 94 Trapper .30-30
(top to bottom) Tikka T3 Lite .308, Savage Model 99 .300 Savage, Winchester Model 94 Trapper .30-30

 

.30-30

You’re kidding, right?  With all the fast new and sexy cartridges out there, why do I list the .30-30 first?  

In all likelihood, the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire has taken more whitetail than any other cartridge.  Often packaged in a compact, light and easy to carry lever-action rifle, the .30-30 makes a lot of sense.  

There are a lot of whitetail in the river bottoms and thick forest and swamps.  Shots will be short. You’ll likely be on a stand or stalk hunting and catch a glimpse of a whitetail sneaking through the woods.  

Traditional open sights or a peep sight are quick to acquire and quite accurate for 50-100 yard shots.

Any good bullet designed for tubular magazines will be fine.  My Winchester Model 94’s prefer 150-grain flat-points. 

Normally you need to use round nose or flat nose bullets in a tube magazine for safety reasons, however, Hornady now offers a tube magazine safe spitzer cartridge using their FTX bullets.  Although these cost a bit more than standard .30-30 rounds, they offer better penetration, better accuracy, longer range, and more reliable feeding.

Hornady LeverEvolution .30-30

Hornady LeverEvolution .30-30

.308 Winchester

The .308 was originally designed as a military cartridge.  Sportsmen quickly realized that the .308 cartridge design was very accurate and could be housed in short action rifles, making them quite handy in the field.  

The .308 gives up very little performance as far as velocity and energy compared to the 30-06. What it doesn’t do is recoil very much. A .308 with good 165 – 180-grain bullets will easily handle all your whitetail hunting from very close cover to 300+ yards with good optics.  

I am a fan of Nosler Partitions and have never had one fail me.  My hunting partners use Barnes TTSX and Hornady GMX with equal success.

Federal Vital-Shock .308 Win 180gn Nosler Partition

Federal Vital-Shock .308 Win 180gn Nosler Partition

.30-06 Springfield

Another military cartridge adopted for sporting use.  The .30-06 is a do-it-all cartridge.

With the exception of big bears and the dangerous game of Africa, you would be well-served with a quality bolt action rifle in .30-06 to take on virtually any big-game species on the planet.  

In fact, in his book “One Man, One Rifle, One Land”  JY Jones writes about his quest to take all 43 North American Species with the same .30-06 rifle.

Loaded with bullets from 150-180 grains, the .30-06 is a solid choice for someone who wants to hunt big game and do their hunting with one rifle.

Winchester .30-06 180gn AccuBond CT

Winchester .30-06 180gn AccuBond CT

The Modern Sporting Rifle – AKA:  The AR-15

I know, ‘who hunts deer with an AR?’.  Truth be told, lots of folks do.

The AR is one of, if not the fastest selling rifle platform available today.  The simple fact is the AR is today’s modern sporting rifle. 

Light, handy, ammo is stocked in every gun store in the nation and in all different loads, and priced so an AR-15 is within reach of nearly anyone.

However, several states require deer hunting to be done with a cartridge larger than .23cal and/or have magazine restrictions for what can be used in a hunting rifle – check your regulations before deciding on your rifle!

If it is legal and you do choose standard .223/5.56mm as your cartridge you should be aware that although possible, these cartridges limit you greatly. Choose heavy grain, soft tip ammo and keep your range within 150 yards and a standard AR-15 will serve you well.

Federal Power-Shok .223 64gn SP

Federal Power-Shok .223 64gn SP

But if you’re looking to expand your options – you can always choose a new upper for your AR-15 and unlock a whole new world of ballistic possibilities!

Uppers in cartridges such as 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 Remington SPC are fine options – however, the far more popular is the .300 Blackout.

The .300 Blk gets a lot of press for use in AR’s and some specialty handguns.  It was designed in part to work well in AR’s as well as for use in suppressed weapons systems.

If you want to hunt with the .300 Blackout, stick with bullets that 150 grains and you will get adequate energy and penetration on deer-sized game out to 200 yards.

Winchester Deer Season .300 Blackout 150gn XP

Winchester Deer Season .300 Blackout 150gn XP

Prices accurate at time of writing

While the above cartridges will likely serve the vast majority of whitetails hunters just fine, there are those who may wish to stretch the yardage a bit or pursue bigger game.  If you want to stay in the AR platform look closely at the AR-10 platform and move into the .308 Winchester with 150 or 165-grain bullets. 

We’ve laid out the differences between the AR-15 and AR-10 and should Help You Decide Between the AR-15 and AR-10.

Now you have a powerful cartridge in a semi-auto package capable of taking game cleanly at extended ranges.  You will pay a penalty in weight and cost, but it is a viable option if you plan to hunt in areas where shots may be long.

(Left to Right) .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from 350lbs Black Bear, .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from Cow Elk
(Left to Right) .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from 350lbs Black Bear, .308 165gn Nosler Partition taken from Cow Elk

These are the only 2 bullets I’ve recovered from game shot with a Nosler Partition.

While not at all an exhaustive list, I believe anyone looking to start big game hunting with whitetails will be well served with the above choices.  

As for what rifle to buy, you have to decide.  My personal experience has been mostly with bolt actions;  Remington Model 700, Tikka T3 Lite, Ruger Mod 77, Ruger American Predator and semi-custom Mauser 98’s.  All work well. All are accurate. All kill whitetail deer just fine if you place your shots correctly.

If you’re interested in the newest iterations of hunting rifles, check out our Best New Hunting Rifles of 2018.

Gear For Your Hunt

Now that you have a rifle in hand, what else do you need to have to be able to spend the entire day in the field hunting?  

I’m a little over-the-top in what I carry. I grew in the Scouting program and I am a firm believer in Being Prepared.

Also, being from the Northwest I carry more gear than the average hunter because we have wide temperature swings, it will most likely be raining and/or snowing and I want to be sure I am 100% able to function on my own and not be a burden on my partners.

Let’s take a quick look at the very minimum I would have in my pack for a day of whitetail hunting in northeast Washington.  I will not go too much into clothing since that is a regional and seasonal variable that everyone needs to deal with on hunt-by-hunt basis.

In the photo below is my gear:

Hunting Gear
My Hunting Gear for NE Washington

Here’s a quick run-down of what you see and why.  Starting in the upper left of the photo:

  • Sawyer water filter to make more water as needed.
  • Food.  You need to stay fueled all day.   The colder the weather, the more you need.  I always have soups, coffee, tea, etc to help me warm on a cold day.
  • GSI Bottle Cup.  Stainless steel.  Can be used on a stove or over a fire.
  • Esbit Folding Stove.  Quick and easy way to heat water for lunch.
  • Fire starters:  At least 2 lighters, matches, flint and steel and fire starters.  It is critical you learn how to make fire and do it every time.
  • Leatherman Multi-Plier.  There is always something you need to hold, cut, bend.  My multitool has been in my pack since 1994.
Leatherman Wave Multitool

Leatherman Wave Multitool

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • Space Blanket:  Use it as a tarp, a ground cover or a sleeping bag.
  • Rangefinder and binoculars.  I like the compact models.  The ones shown are both Leupold brand products.  You need to be able to glass at distance and in thick cover.  The rangefinder is handy if you are in a more open area or are shooting cartridges or a muzzleloader with less range.
  • A headlamp and a flashlight.  Ever boned out a deer trying to hold a flashlight with one hand?  I like the Zebra Light for my headlamp.  A single AA battery gives me 200 lumens at the top end and multiple lower settings.  A great tool for traveling early morning and at night. I like Surefire flashlights because they always work.  I use the G2 series.  Relatively inexpensive and very bright and durable.
  • 50 feet of paracord.  Get real, made in the USA cord.  It has a multitude of uses and always comes in handy.
  • The little bottle is a Nalgene with a flip-top filled with cornstarch.  I use it as my wind-puffer. An easy way to keep track of the breeze and thermals as you move during the day.
  • Stoney Point shooting sticks.  This size is perfect for sitting or kneeling shots.  Any rest in the field will help make your shots more accurate.
  • Map and compass.  Yep, I have a GPS.  I never use it for navigation.  The GPS will crap out at the most inopportune time.  Heavy snow and thick timber will not allow a signal. Carry a topographic map of the area you are in.  Get a good quality compass. LEARN HOW TO USE THEM TOGETHER! A compass does not tell you where you are.  It only points North.
REI Map
Outdoor Co-Op REI Has Some Great Articles on How to use a Map and Compass!
  • Meat care:  the long white bag like the Kifaru Meat Baggie.  These 1 ozs. bags will hold 75 pounds of boned meat.  You can usually get an average whitetail in one bag. The bag holds the meat in a vertical tube to make it easier to pack out in your backpack.  I use two bags for my deer hunting. All the meat that will be ground goes in one. The big cuts go in the other.
  • Meat Knife – Havalon Piranta: A changeable blade knife.  You should be able to easily skin, bone, and process a deer with two blades.  I also carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves to keep my hands dry and a bit warmer.  The nitrile also provides a better grip.

Again, this is what I have found works for me.  Every area and every hunt is different, so adjust your gear accordingly.  But you will find after a few trips there are some things that always get used and will go in your pack every time you go hunting.

A note on meat care:  I mentioned boning your deer.  I am a big proponent of quick and quality field care.  I will go out on a limb here and say that most ‘gamey’ meat results from poor care of the animal in the field.  

With any animal the number one enemy is heat. Get the animal broken down and cooling immediately. That means skin off, and meat off the bones.  There is a tremendous amount of internal heat and the quicker the meat is separated from the bones, better.

Because nearly all of our hunting is done in the backcountry we bone our animals on spot using the ‘gutless method’.  Check the link and do some research on your own.  I think you will find it’s a quick, clean and easy way to care for deer.

They even have videos taking  you step by step as they clean a Bull Elk!

Large-bull-elk-on-the-ground-guided-by-Jay-Scott
Large Bull Elk, photo by Jay Scott

Tips and Tactics

Because whitetails live in such vastly different habitats, tactics must be adjusted depending on the location.  However, there are a few things that remain constant that will help you tag a whitetail this year.

Be Patient

Whitetails are creatures of habit.  They stay pretty close to one area and tend to use the same trails and routes.  My preferred method of hunting is to find an intersection of two or more trails in the timber or edges of food crops. I’ll then find a good place to sit, usually on the ground with a tree or log to my back.

Then I get comfortable and wait. Be sure to situate yourself so you are downwind of the prevailing winds in the area.  If you have too much scent blowing across or down the trail you may alert the deer.

Stay out all day

Take another look at my pack list.  Once I leave camp I intend to stay out until dark.  I have my lunch, a closed-cell foam pad to sit on and appropriate clothing.  Yes, I get cold. Yes, I get bored. Yes, I have sat in the pouring rain and wet snow all day.  

But here’s the deal. Most hunters go back to camp in early or mid-morning. Most go back when the weather sucks.  I have found that whitetails, especially in cold weather tend to get up and mosey around about 11 in the morning. They get stiff and cold too.  

They will get up, eat a little, take a leak and maybe look for an area in the open if the sun is out. I have killed the majority of my whitetails mid-morning.

Use your binoculars

Whitetails like thick stuff.  Human eyes are good, but not great.  For the most part, we detect motion.

So if a whitetail is moving through heavy timber or brush you may notice the movement, not necessarily the deer.  With binoculars, you can pick apart the timber. You see more color. You see shapes.

Schwarzenegger binos
Use Your Binoculars!

One of my PH’s in South Africa taught me a lot about thick cover hunting.  He always said, “look through the bush.”  Meaning, look beyond the stuff on the edges.  

Look through the screen. Change the focus on your binoculars so you see through different layers of the cover.  You will be surprised how much more is out there than if you just sit and watch.

Hunt late 

Whitetail bucks are solitary creatures.  However, if you can hunt a late season, your odds go up.  

In general terms, the rut begins to crank up in mid to late-November and will run through December and January in many parts of the country.  As the rut approaches, the bucks begin to wander more in search of ladies.

As such, they spend more time on the move and are a lot less wary.  They are intent on breeding. Not necessarily paying attention. That said, if you are hunting a late season and you have some does or youngsters walk past your stand, get ready.  

Often a buck will be following behind to determine if a suitable mate is ahead of him. Be sure you are dressed for the weather this time of year. It will be cold and often wet.

Shoot fast

While in your sitting spot keep your rifle across your lap and at the ready.  

You will often only have a couple of shooting lanes and even if the deer are just walking you only have a few seconds to make your shot.  

If you have to reach for your gun and make noise or sudden movements, you will very likely not get a shot. You must be ready to quickly identify if your buck or deer is legal and then make a very quick decision to either shoot or not shoot the deer.

Cold Buck
Cold Buck

I shot this buck on cold November day after I had built a fire to warm up and have some coffee.  It was 11 am.

Have fun

How can you not?  You are hunting. You are in the woods, with a rifle in your hands, a tag in your pocket and a whitetail somewhere in the neighborhood.  

Yeah, you may walk miles. You may freeze on stand. You may get wet.

So what? You’ll likely be in camp or home sometime tonight. You can get dry, warm and fed when you get back.  

Take a camera and shoot photos of your gear, your stand, your rifle. Shoot a pic of that pesky squirrel telling the whole basin you are under his tree.

Hunting is about making memories and enjoying your outdoor heritage.  Tying your tag on a whitetail and enjoying the pure organic protein the venison provides is a bonus.

What deer have you harvested? Planning your first trip? Let us know in the comments!

The post Introduction to Deer Hunting appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

April 29th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Seeing if a holographic weapons sight is for you?

Top Holographic Sights
Top Holographic Sights

We bought the two most popular holographic sights right now…plus a third underdog contender.

And we break them down into what we think is the best.  If you can’t wait, here’s our picks:

  1. Editor’s Choice: EOTech EXPS2-0 ($490)
  2. Runner Up: Vortex AMG UH-1 ($499)
  3. Most Worth It: Holosun 510C ($299)

Holographic vs Red Dots

Without going too much into everything…why would you even want a holographic sight compared to a red dot?

Red dots (or reflex sights) operate by having an LED project a dot towards a lens, which is specially coated so that it bounces back towards your eye.  Check out our Best Red Dots Under $200 article.

Best Budget Red Dots
Best Budget Red Dots

Holographic sights use a laser transmitted hologram of a reticle through a series of lenses back to your eye.

Holographic Sight Light Path
Holographic Sight Light Path

Since it’s laser based instead of LED, the battery life is significantly less.  But it allows for more specialized reticles (the big difference in my mind) and also does not need a specially coated lens.

Budget Red Dots All On
Red Dots All On

You also tend to get a bigger view window with holographic sights.

Tested Holographic Sights
Tested Holographic Sights

Now onto our favorites…

1. EOTech EXPS2-0

EOTech is the giant in the holographic sight game.

Sure, they had a little snafu a few years back about thermal drift (where the reticle doesn’t return to zero if subjected to extreme temperatures).  But they are back and better than ever.

John Wick I'm Back
John Wick I’m Back

If you’re still worried about the thermal drift (all sights, red dot or holo, have them)…check out EOTech’s response for their new sights.  When put through temperatures of -4 to 122 degrees F, there is a max drift of 3.5 MOA.

My favorite is their new EXPS2-0 which is shorter than the most popular previous model…the 512.

EOTech EXPS2-0
EOTech EXPS2-0

It has a big rectangular window that is very clear.  And the famous 68 MOA circle with a 1 MOA dot in the center.

EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom
EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom

The perfect blend of quick acquisition and fine-tuned accuracy.  Note that the above is 3x magnified using a Vortex 3x to show the reticle (Best 3x Magnifiers).

Here it is at the range.  I had trouble getting clear shots of the reticle in high brightness.  But it works great even in the sunniest of days in the desert.

EOTech EXPS2-0 At the Range
EOTech EXPS2-0 At the Range

And a better image of it inside.

EOTech Reticle
EOTech Reticle

The shorter EOTech’s have a couple variants…but I like the EXPS2-0 compared to the regular XPS line since it is 1/3 co-witness which doesn’t get in the way as much if you have irons or backup irons (Best AR-15 Backup Irons).

Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third
Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third

It also has a robust quick detach (QD) rail system and the buttons on the side (essential if you’re going to run magnifiers).

EOTech EXPS2-0 Side
EOTech EXPS2-0 Side

The 2-0 designates that it is the 68 MOA circle with 1 MOA center.  A must if you ask me.  If you’re running night vision, opt for the EXPS3-0 which has some settings for NVGs.

Here’s a video of it in action with a little simulated head movement to show how it’s devoid of almost all parallax.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/fm4jzt1fuw.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
The reticle makes it super easy for close up shots when I used the optic for pistol caliber carbine (PCC) competitions.  While the 1 MOA dot was useful for farther plate racks.

I even took it on and off a couple of times while testing and it always stayed in zero (plate racks at 25 yards).

My choice for best overall holographic weapons sight.

EOTech EXPS2-0, Adjustment
EOTech EXPS2-0, Adjustment

Stats

  • 11.3 Oz
  • 10 ft waterproof
  • CR123A Battery
  • 600 hours battery life
  • Not NVG Compatible

2. Vortex AMG UH-1

The AMG UH-1 is a newish sight from Vortex and is the only real holographic contender to EOTech.  It’s affectionately known as the “Huey” because of the UH-1 designation.

Vortex AMG UH-1
Vortex AMG UH-1

Built like a tank…it looks like it’s much bigger than the EXPS but it’s about the same length.  It’s the extra hood that protects everything that makes it seem that way.

Since it’s new, it doesn’t have the military track record of the EOTech but so far no major complaints besides a first initial batch that had some reticle flaring that is now fixed.  Plus it’s Vortex so it has a lifetime transferable warranty.

Vortex UH-1 Reticle, 3x Zoom
Vortex UH-1 Reticle, 3x Zoom

Speaking of reticles…the Huey’s reticle is my favorite out of the bunch.  Still has the large circle for CQB but also has a nice chevron at the bottom for shorter engagements.

I set my zero at 25 yards for the shorter PCC competitions…but if you zero at the standard 100 yards…the triangle will really help.  Also has a great integrated QD mount that maintained zero between testing.

Vortex UH-1 Reticle
Vortex UH-1 Reticle

One thing I gotta knock it down for is…the greenish tint.  It’s a lot more apparent than the EOTech which if it has one…is nearly imperceptible.

Vortex AMG UH-1 At the Range
Vortex AMG UH-1 At the Range

It didn’t matter too much during actual shooting…but looking at it by itself it bugs me a little.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/memlo34369.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
Another is that the buttons are on the back so it might also interfere with magnifiers.

However, one cool thing is that it has a rechargeable battery inside that you can charge through USB.

Vortex UH-1, USB Charging
Vortex UH-1, USB Charging

I tried it out to see if it works…and it does.  But realistically I’m not sure if I’m really going to be plugging in my upper to my computer when swapping batteries seems so much easier.

Speaking of batteries…the AMG UH-1 has a sweet 1500 hour battery life compared to the EOTech’s 600 hours.

Overall, my runner-up if you want to get into the holographic sight game at a slightly lower entry fee.

Stats

  • 11.8 Oz
  • 10 ft waterproof
  • CR123A Battery
  • 1500 hours battery life
  • Not NVG Compatible

3. Holosun 510C

Holosun 510C
Holosun 510C

Ok…it’s not technically a holographic sight.  But instead the Holosun 510C brings together the best of both worlds of red dot and holographic.

Long battery life and a sweet reticle that isn’t “fuzzy” like normal holographic sights.

Holosun 510C Reticle, 3x Zoom
Holosun 510C Reticle, 3x Zoom

The center is a 2 MOA while the outside ring is 65 MOA.  You can also cycle between using the dot only, ring only, or the combo.

Holosun 510C Reticle
Holosun 510C Reticle

Has a greenish hue on par with the Vortex.  Again, it was hard to get good pictures at the range.

Holosun 510C At the Range
Holosun 510C At the Range

If you’re solely looking for the circle and dot reticle…you can’t go wrong with this optic.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/5pzuqp0psm.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 
It’s crisp and nearly parallax free like its brethren.

AND with a 50,000 hour battery life since it runs off LED and not lasers.  PLUS it has solar capability that switches in the sun so you aren’t running off batteries.  Finally, it’s lighter and has a smaller profile.

Holosun 510C Side
Holosun 510C Side

Buttons are on the side for easy access and also has a QD attachment system that also maintains zero.  Has NVG capabilities but is less waterproof than the others.

My pick for the best worth-it “holographic-esque” sight.

Stats

  • 8.3 Oz
  • 1 meter (IP67)
  • CR2032 Battery
  • 50,000 hours battery life
  • NVG Compatible (10 day and 2 NVG)

Conclusion

Three Mounted Holographic Sights
Three Mounted Holographic Sights

If you’re looking for something more than a simple red dot…holographic sights are the way to go.

The big player and my favorite model is the EOTech EXPS2-0 which has the clearest glass, great button placement, and decent battery life.

My runner-up is the Vortex AMG UH-1 which is built tough, has my favorite reticle, has a longer battery life, but has a greenish hue.

Lastly…if you’re interested in the holographic reticle, go with the Holosun 510C which sports an impressive 50K battery life.

Did we miss any holographic sights out there?  Find out more of our favorite optics and scopes in our Gear Reviews section.

The post Best Holographic Sights [Real Views]: EOTech, Vortex, Holosun appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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