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ISSUE 26

BUYER’S GUIDE SLIP-JOINT KNIVES

PG. 46

GUN LIFESTYLE: GEAR • TECHNOLOGY • SPORT • OUTDOOR • HOM OME & PERSONAL DEFENSE Century Arms, Magpul, KE Arms, Copper Knuckles, Starlingear, Steve Ryan Knives, Adidas, Walmart, PG. 12

RECOILWEB.COM ISSUE 26

ROLL YOUR OWN AK MODDING THE AK-74 AK SUPPRESSORS DIY: 4-MINUTE AK FIXES ZEROED IN: JIM FULLER


THE RUGER AMERICAN PISTOL IS DESIGNED WITH THE TOUGHEST STANDARDS IN MIND. ™


Short Takeup Trigger with Positive Reset

Anything Else Would Be Un-American.

Designed with the latest U.S. Military standards in mind, the Ruger American Pistol is built to perform ™

in the harshest conditions. A true American innovation, this pistol was developed through a rigorous “Voice of the Customer” process – where numerous law enforcement and military trainers, firearms experts,

Recoil-Reducing Barrel Cam, Low Mass Slide, Low Center of Gravity and Low Bore Axis

distributors and retailers provided input, feedback and testing in the determination of the form, function and features of this firearm. The resultant new pistol is a revolutionary platform for Ruger, one that utilizes the combination of a recoil-reducing barrel cam (which is designed to better spread recoil energy over time) with a low mass slide, low center of gravity and a low bore axis to provide an unparalleled shooting experience. Performance Tested for Sustained +P Ammunition Use

Genuine Novak ® LoMount Carry Three-Dot Sights

Modular Wrap-Around Grip System for Adjusting Palm Swell and Trigger Reach

Safe, Easy Takedown with No Tools or Trigger Pull Required

Ambidextrous Slide Stop and Magazine Release Allow Actuation with Either Hand

BUILT TO PERFORM IN THE HARSHEST CONDITIONS.

RUGER.COM/AMERICANPISTOL

© 2015 Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

040516


© 2016 Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc.


Fire the PMR-30ÂŽ pistol and in a fraction of a second, light weight unleashes heavy duty. Thanks to a unique Kel-TecÂŽ hybrid blow-back system that takes a .22 magnum, 30 round magazine. Innovation. Performance. Kel-Tec. See more at KelTecWeapons.com


IS S U E 26

FEATURES 50

CENTURY’S AK SBR Short .30-Cal. Doesn’t Suck. Any Questions?

60

SOVIET STYLING, AMERICAN EXECUTION

50 60

The Dead Air Wolverine PBS-1 and Gemtech Arsenal Inc. AK

68

REBUILDING THE AK-74 Using American Components to Improve Bulgarian Hardware

88

FROM POLAND WITH LOVE

8 68 88

Building a Custom AKM From a Polish Parts Kit

104

WHO KNEW? A Guide to 7.62x39mm Ammo

116

THE OTHER AK The 74’s Not Dead. And We Can Prove It…

142

IT’S ME BREN GUN, INNIT? We Get to Break CZ’s Newest Carbine

150

104

116

DIRTY SECRETS Trail Shoe Tips to Make the Switch From Pavement to Off-Road Running

142

150


DECISIVE

PRINCIPLED

VERSATILE

TRANSITION FROM YOUR LIFE IN SPECIAL OPERATIONS TO PARAMILITARY WITH THE CIA’S DIRECTORATE OF OPERATIONS. With your special operations training, you’ve proven that you’ll push yourself to the limit in defending what makes our country great. Now, we’re inviting you to go beyond – to serve our nation’s interests as a Paramilitary Operations Officer or Specialized Skills Officer with the CIA.You’ll conduct intelligence activities globally using your significant combat and leadership experience in Special Operations or Combat Arms (Infantry and Aviation). Every company has a mission statement. Some are just more meaningful than others.

THE WORK OF A NATION. THE CENTER OF INTELLIGENCE.

For additional information and to apply, visit:

cia.gov/careers

Applicants must have US citizenship and the ability to successfully complete medical examinations and security procedures, including a polygraph interview. An equal opportunity employer and a drug-free workforce.


FIREARM SAFETY IS TOP PRIORITY

IS S U E 26

DEPARTMENTS 12

ON THE COVER

124

GONE SHOOTIN’ Alliance PD

18

DOWNRANGE Editor’s Letter

134

DIY 4-Minute Fixes

24

INCOMING New Gear

162

MINDSET PTSD Defined, Part 2

32

VISIT Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles

40

TRANSPORT

170

Grip Strength

PRODUCT DISCLAIMER

184

WANNA TRADE PATCHES?

Prices and details for items featured in RECOIL are set by the manufacturers and retailers, and are subject to change without notice.

210

GOING HOT

OT-90

46

UNUSUAL SUSPECTS Slip-Joint Knives

76

ZEROED IN Jim Fuller

PT

RECOIL reminds you to be safe and always obey firearms safety rules: 1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. 2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire. 4. Be aware of your target’s foreground and background. All contents in RECOIL Magazine are professionally photographed in a closed studio or range. Do not attempt to re-create any photographs depicted in this magazine.

RECOIL (USPS 013-320), September/October 2016; Number 26, is published bimonthly by TEN: The Enthusiast Network, LLC, 261 Madison Avenue, 6th floor, New York, NY 10016. Copyright © 2016 by TEN: The Enthusiast Network Magazines, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY and at additional mail offices. Subscriptions U.S. and U.S. Possessions: $49.97 per year (6 issues); Canadian, $55.97, Foreign, $61.97 (including surface mail postage). Payment in advance. U.S. funds only. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5): NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address changes to RECOIL, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Please allow 8-10 weeks for delivery of first issue. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission. This book is purchased with the understanding that the information presented herein is from many varied sources for which there can be no warranty or responsibility by the publisher as to accuracy or completeness.

MISFIRES In Issue 25, we’d inadvertently omitted that Taylor Elizabeth Photography was responsible for the photographs in our Gone Shootin’ article on 88 Tactical. We regret the error.

Throughout this issue you will see certain images are labeled as being 1:1 Actual Size. This designation is for the print edition of this issue. Because of the various screen sizes on different tablets and computers, we cannot always provide actual life size images in digital versions. We apologize if this causes any confusion and thank you for your understanding.


COVER PHOTO BY K KENDA LENSEIGNE

ON THE COVER R

1 RIFLE

MAKE:

MODEL:

MODEL:

26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

12

URL:

URL:

MAKE:

Magpul

MODEL:

PMAG 30 AK Gen3 MSRP:

$27

5

MSRP:

$2,000

2 MAGAZINE (SHOWN HERE)

6

Bracelet

$1,000 approx. www.centuryarms.com

2

MAKE:

Starlingear

MSRP:

1

6 BRACELLET

Century Arms C39 SBR

10

www.monkeyedge.com edge.com

7

8

7 BRASS KNUCKLESS

MODEL:

Copper knuckless MSRP:

$100

URL:

www.kearms.com

URL:

www.magpul.com

8 NECKLAC ACE

MODEL:

3 MAGAZINE (COVER)

Walmart

MAKE:

Chinesium Goold Chainn

MODEL:

$8

MSRP:

www.walmartt.com

US Palm AK 30 Magazine

4

MSRP: MSRP: URL:

$20

URL:

www.uspalm.com

4 JACKET

MAKE:

Adidas

MODEL:

Superstar Track Jacket MSRP:

$70

URL:

www.adidas.com

5 RING

MAKE:

Starlingear MODEL:

Monkey Puncher MSRP:

$625 URL:

www.monkeyedge.com

OFF THE COVER 9 PANTS

MAKE:

Adidas

MODEL:

Superstar Track Pantt MSRP:

$65

URL:

www.adidas.ccom

10 KNIFE

MAKE:

Steve Ryan Knnives MODEL:

Model 1 MSRP:

$1,200 URL:

www.monkeyeedge.com

9


Visit www.etsgroup.us and see why our AR and GlockÂŽ magazines are the most durable and reliable clear polymer magazines out there. Use coupon code ETSRECOIL to receive 10% off your order at www.etsgroup.us


The past decade has been an interesting one for AK aficionados.

Elsewhere at RECOIL, there are big changes a’ coming. For the

Once the low-budget AR-15 alternative, import restrictions have

past few seasons we’ve tried to get a TV show off the ground, and

squeezed supplies to the point where the economic argument for

while we came close a couple of times, the networks always ran

their acquisition is no longer valid. But as students of all things

away mewling like little girls from what we were trying to achieve.

firearms related, a passing familiarity with the world’s most ubiq-

So screw ’em. Instead, we’re rolling out a metric ass-ton of video

uitous assault rifle should be a necessity, even if it’s only with the

content online, which will be a departure from the usual “bro with

neutered, semi-auto variant. That is why in this issue we’ve cast our

a handycam” trope that defines much of firearms-related videos.

beady eyes over what’s available to the U.S. market, as well as how

In short, we aim to bring the same quality and production values to

to improve and make the most of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s brainchild. 

this medium that we brought to print just a few short years ago. So

We’ve not neglected our usual departments, either. Summer

stand by. There will be blood.

means it’s time to hit the trails, so if you’ve been thinking about adding some rough country kicks to the wardrobe, check out our trail running buyer’s guide, and while you’re at, see about developing a bit more grip strength to better manage pistol recoil. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t feature at least one vehicle, and in this issue we just might have raised the bar in terms of off-road capabil-

IS SU E

26

ity, as this one’s amphibious. And tracked.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

18

IAIN HARRISON RISON


7.5 FK CARTRIDGE: 100 GRAINS 2000 FPS 900 FT/LBS ” 6 BBL

fkbrno.com


Editorial. Editor/ Iain Harrison Senior Editor/ Patrick Vuong Managing Editor/ Laura Peltakian Feature Editor/ Rob Curtis

Advertising. General Manager/ Mark Han Associate General Manager/ Danny Chang Network Manager/ John Schwartze Advertising Operations Coordinator/ Monica Hernandez

Contributing Editor/ Steven Kuo Web Editor/ David Reeder Photography Studio Manager/ Jorge Nuñez Contributors/ Sara Davidson, Ryne Gioviano, Chris Heising, Chris Hernandez, Daniel Jackson, Kenda Lenseigne, Erik Lund, Tom Marshall, David Merrill, Neal H. Olshan, Straight 8, Taylor Elizabeth Photography, Peter Suciu Special Thanks/ Cowtown Range, Monkey Edge, George and Vlad V

National Sales Offices. New York Office/ 212.915.4000 261 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 Los Angeles Office/ 310.531.9900 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245 Irvine Office/ 949.705.3100 1821 E. Dyer Rd., Suite 150, Santa Ana, CA 92705 Detroit Office/ 248.594.5999 4327 Delemere Court, Royal Oak, MI 48073

Art Direction & Design. Creative Director/ Alan Alpanian Group Art Director/ Ti Tong Art Director/ Gene Coo Assistant Art Director/ Kanoe Irvine

Chicago Office/ 310.531.9896 Tampa Office/ 813.675.3479 To advertise on this magazine’s website, or any of TEN: The Enthusiast Network’s other enthusiast sites, please contact us at recoil_advertising@enthusiastnetwork.com.

Manufacturing Operations. VP, Manufacturing Operations/ Greg Parnell Archivist/ Thomas Voehringer

TEN: The Enthusiast Network, LLC. Chairman/ Peter Englehart Chief Executive Officer/ Scott P. Dickey

Submissions. recoil@enthusiastnetwork.com

Chief Financial Officer/ Bill Sutman President, Automotive/ Scott Bailey EVP/GM, Sports & Entertainment/ Norb Garrett

440 Stainless Steel BLADE

Subscriber Customer Services.

Zinc Black Epoxy Powder Coated Handle 9-1/4” Overall Length 3-5/8” Blade Length

Domestic/Canadian: 888.681.7064 Foreign: 386.246.0439 recoil@emailcustomerservice.com

5” Closed length 5.0 oz. Weight

BACK ISSUES To order back issues, visit https://www.circsource.com/store/ storeBackIssues.html.

Extras : Hollow Ground Blade

REPRINTS For high-quality custom reprints and eprints, please contact The YGS Group at 800-290-5460 or TENreprints@theygsgroup.com

Model: 114B

Black Butterfly

GET YOURS AT www.bearandsoncutlery.com

Chief Commercial Officer/ Eric Schwab Chief Creative Officer/ Alan Alpanian EVP, Operations/ Kevin Mullan VP, Editorial & Advertising Operations/ Amy Diamond SVP/GM, Performance Aftermarket/ Matt Boice

This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that the information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by TEN: The Enthusiast Network, LLC., or the publisher as to legality, completeness and accuracy. Any submissions or contributions from readers shall be subject to and governed by TEN: The Enthusiast Network’s User Content Submission Terms and Conditions, which are posted at http://www.enthusiastnetwork.com/submissions/

MADE IN THE U.S.A.

Chief Marketing Officer/ Jonathan Anastas

EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS Editorial contributions are welcomed, but editors recommend that contributors query first. Contribution must be accompanied by return postage and we assume no responsibility for loss or damage thereto. Manuscripts must be typewritten on white paper, and all photographs must be accompanied by captions. Photo model releases required on all persons in photos. Recoil reserves the right to use material at its discretion, and we reserve the right to edit material to meet our requirements. Upon publication, payment will be made at our current rate, and that said payment will cover author’s and contributor’s rights of the contribution. Contributor’s act of mailing contribution shall constitute an express warranty that the material is original and no infringement on the rights of others. Mail contributions to: Recoil Magazine, 1821 E. Dyer Rd., Suite #150, Santa Ana, CA 92705. ADVERTISING INFORMATION Please call Recoil Advertising Department, (949) 705-3100. Related publications: 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Four Wheeler, Jp, Truckin, Diesel Power, 8-Lug HD Truck, Dirt Sports & Off-Road, Hot Rod, Car Craft, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, Mustang Monthly, Vette, Chevy High Performance, Lowrider, Classic Trucks, Super Street, European Car, Motor Trend, Truck Trend, Automobile, Sound & Vision, Stereophile and other specialty magazines. Printed in the USA Copyright © 2016 by TEN: The Enthusiast Network Magazines, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

VP, Financial Planning/ Mike Cummings SVP, Automotive Digital/ Geoff DeFrance SVP, Aftermarket Automotive Content/ David Freiburger SVP, In-Market Automotive Content/ Ed Loh SVP, Digital, Sports & Entertainment/ Greg Morrow SVP, Digital Advertising Operations/ Elisabeth Murray SVP, Marketing/ Ryan Payne

Consumer Marketing, Enthusiast Media Subscription Company, INC. SVP, Circulation/ Tom Slater VP, Retention & Operations Fulfillment/ Donald T. Robinson III


.45 WEIGHT .40 RECOIL .44 POWER = 7.5 FK SYSTEM

The 7.5 FK Field Pistol is an innovative and completely new design from FK Brno. It uses a proprietary recoil mitigation system, which minimizes recoil and muzzle climb. Chambered in the revolutionary 7.5 FK caliber, it fires a 100 grain bullet at 2000 fps, generating almost 900 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle, from a 6” barrel. The 7.5 FK Field Pistol is guaranteed to group less than 4” at 110 yards (100m), while still achieving stopping power/terminal ballistics equivalent to the venerable .44 Magnum, without the recoil. With such accuracy and power, and 14+1 magazine capacity, imagine the possibilities you can achieve in long range shooting/hunting/silhouettes/defense and combat shooting. Visit our website at fkbrno.com to see how we’re redefining the pistol.


}IDEwinder }ling-p§ck ®

CONCEALED CARRY COMPATIBLE

HYDRATION BLADDER COMPATIBLE

EXPANSION OPTIONS

LARGE LOADOUT CAPACITY


MULTIPLE STRAPPING OPTIONS OPTIONAL DIVIDER PANEL PADDED LAPTOP COMPAERTMENT

This unique pro-quality sling-pack holds laptops in its padded compartment and fits a lot, yet is nimble enough to rotate from back to chest. This maneuver gives on-the-go access to frequently used gear while carrying heavier loads on the back the rest of the time. The ergonomic padded and ventilated shoulder strap is comfortable for day long wear. The main compartment is fuzzy-lined for attaching dividers, patches or Hazard 4® holsters. Wherever and however hard core your work or play, the Sidewinder's got your back, and your front. Get full details at Hazard 4.com

THERMOFORMED, VETILATED BACKPAD

DROP-DOWN ORGANIZER


1

AR cleaning kits are a dime a dozen, but AK owners finally get some love with the RealAvid AK cleaning kit. The kit comes with all the 7.62mm bore brushes, swabs, and scrapers you’ll need to clean your AK like a proper Ukrainian farmboy. It features a double-ended chamber brush that’ll reach into the chamber and a scraper made especially for the contours of the AK bolt and piston. The gear, plus a bunch of patches, all store neatly in a compact, zippered case that might keep you from losing something. Maybe. MAKE:

Real Avid MODEL:

Gun Boss AK47 Cleaning Kit MSRP:

$111

2

This is no coffee table book. Iannamico has collected the history, facts, and photos of nearly every variant of the AK-47 produced. Worried the Yugo you bought might actually be a Romanian WASR? Look up the markings. Aside from an exhaustive explanation of each AK variant broken down by country of origin, information about the rifle’s development, production and use, along with breakouts on subjects such as COMBLOC rifle accessories, mags, bayonets, and cans make this the absolutely definitive source of info about the AK. MAKE:

AK-47: The Grim Reaper 2nd Edition MODEL:

URL:

www.realavid.com

by Frank Iannamico NUMBER OF PAGES:

26

MSRP:

IS SUE

1,1000 $700

1

3

We were looking for a way to bring an AKM project gun into the 21st century without the need to permanently modify the rifle. We found Troy Industries’ AK47 M-LOK handguard and top rail combination provided the accessory and optic mounting points needed. The railed gas tube fits like a stock tube, but Troy uses a locknut to secure it between the gas block and the front trunion. The short bottom AK-47 bottom rail gives a rounded grip that’ll feel familiar to many AR shooters used to modern, free-float handguards. The lower rail connects to the sling loop plate and is held fast by a pair of large set screws that jam the handguard into the trunion. Overall, it’s a solid setup that installs in minutes on most AK variants. MAKE:

Troy Industries MODEL:

URL::

www.smallarmsreview.coom

AK47 Top Rail and M-Lok Bottom Rail BOTTOM RAIL LENGTHS:

10 or 13.5 inches

244

MSRP: M

REC O ILW E B .C O M

$1150 Top, $$125/$140 $ Bottom URL: UR RL:

ww ww.troyind.com i d

4

ALG Defense dropped jaws with the release of the AKT last year. The Pennsylvaniamade trigger destroyed the idea that pulling an AK trigger has to feel like breaking a green tree branch. The company pushed ahead and has now released a set of high-performance springs for the AK. The AK Recoil Spring will outlast a stock spring thanks to a couple of dead coils and some heavy math. And, ALG says its High Energy Main Spring produces 25-percent more torque than a stock main spring for more consistent primer ignition and lower lock times. By the time this hits the press, ALG should’ve released the AKT-E trigger that has a more durable, action-enhancing coating along with slight changes in geometry that result in an even crisper feel than the original AKT. MAKE:

ALG MODEL:

AK Recoil Spring & High Energy Mainn Spring

MAKE:

Magpul MODEL:

PMAG 20 AK/AKM MOE & Sand Baseplates MSRP:

$13 (Plates $11/5) URL:

www.magpul.com

MSR RP:

$12/$9 $12/ /$9 50 /$9.50 URL L:

www w.algdefense.com w

2

3

5

Thirty rounds are great for go time, but any admin rifle work with an AK can be made easier by reducing the size of the donkey dick AK magazine. Zeroing from a bench, stowing a truck gun, or running an underfolder, Magpul’s 20-round AK/AKM magazines present compact, durable, and reliable alternatives to COMBLOC mags. They feature a stainless steel spring, a textured surface for positive manipulation, and interchangeable baseplates. We’re also showing a five-pack of Magpul’s new, optional Sand baseplates that’re easily customized with RIT dye for quick identification of empties on the firing line.

4

5


Caracal USA is proud to introduce the Enhanced Model F semiautomatic 9mm pistol. Completely redesigned for 2016, the Enhanced Model F retains the same class-leading shooting characteristics and all the exterior dimensions of the original Model F, plus a few new upgrades. Coming soon.

CARACALUSA.COM

REDEFINED


6

The original jerry can, so named after the Allies nickname for German soldiers in WWII, is a monument to fine engineering. The can is so good at its job that it’s still used today, and very little has changed about it since it was put in use back in 1939. The iconic shape has recently taken on a new mission, though, as a bespoke mini-bar. Danish Fuel rejuvenates military surplus fuel cans by cutting them open then sandblasting, powdercoating, and adding shelves and hardware to accommodate a few bottles of booze, some tumblers, and a few drink making accessories. It comes in several colors with your choice of walnut or oak shelving. Let’s jump on this one before the skinny jean crowd sees it. Made in Denmark.

26 IS SU E

MAKE:

Danish Fuel Bar Cabinet

REC O ILW E B .C O M

26

MODEL: COOL FACTOR:

Ridiculously high MSRP:

$680 URL:

www.onecph.com/danish-fuel

7

8 9

If you’re married to the SCAR 17, the situation may call for converting to AK calibers and COMBLOC mags. Enter Handl Defense with their MK17 line to convert the SCAR 17-type rifles to 7.62x39 and 5.45x39, although it’s anticipated by the company that .260 Rem, 5.56x45, 7.62x51, and 300 BLK will be added to the lineup late this year. Handl will be offering a complete rifle as well as a complete conversion package. It’ll include a complete trigger module, complete barrel with HD handguard, caliber specific bolt, universal BCG, and recoil assembly, so customers have the option to convert their existing SCAR 17S or purchase a whole new rifle. According to the company, end users should be able to do the conversion themselves, and the package will include all the necessary parts.

The Knight’s Armament Company Precision Bipod is the toe-touching yoga beast of rifle supports. With as much movement as this little guy is capable of, POA adjustment isn’t a hassle thanks to few well-placed controls that adjust tension, cant, yaw, and leg height with easily manipulated buttons and levers. The unit mounts on any pic rail with a sliding QD mechanism, and it comes with a set of aggressive serrated feet that’ll hold fast on most surfaces; pop the stock feet out and slap in a set of Atlas rubber feet or spikes (not included) for grip on other surfaces.

MAKE:

URL:

Handl Defense

MAKE:

Knight’s Armament Company MODEL:

Born from the maker’s time in the service, these finely machined stainless steel chillers replace the (likely) carcinogenic tank parts the guys behind Battle-Rattle once used to chill their scotch. Even if you’re not trying to avoid flashbacks to time spent in the desert drinking warm water from leaky water buffalos, you’ll still appreciate the unadulterated flavor of your drink by skipping the ice cubes and dropping a couple of these babies in your evening retreat. You can order the chillers in sets that combine tiny flashbangs, frags, mortar rounds, tank rounds, anti-vehicle mines, and tracked vehicle sprockets. MAKE:

Precision Bipod BIPOD ADJUSTMENT HEIGHT:

6.875 to 9.25 inches

Battle-Rattle MODEL:

Whisky Chillers

MSRP:

MATERIAL:

$437

Stainless Steel

MAKE:

MSRP:

shop.knightarmco.com

RZE

$80/set

MODEL:

MODEL:

URL:

HD MK-17 AK Trigger Module

Unimag

www.battle-rattle.com

MSRP:

10

You still love your first .223 Rem AR-15. But, let’s say you’ve since grown and explored the world of calibers available in that wonderfully adaptable AR platform. Now your magazine collection is as shameful as a middle-aged woman’s shoe collection. RZE’s Unimag claims to help by taking the place of seven different mags with the use of its tilting follower and pinched, stainless steel, magazine body. Even if you’ve only got a few uppers in the array of ammo RZE says the mag will handle, the Unimag could reduce the space and attention needed to maintain a small herd of magazines. We’ve just gotten a sample at press time, so look for a range report on www.recoilweb.com after you read this.

CALIBER COMPATIBILITY:

Not available at press time

5.45x39, .223 Rem, 300 BLK, 7.62x39, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 458 SOCOM, .50 Beowolf

URL:

www.handldefense.com

MSRP:

$40 URL:

10

7

8

6

9

www.rosszhengengineering.com


11 12 13 14 15

Texas Weapon Systems

MSRP:

$170

MAKE:

MAKE:

Garmin

Liong Mah Designs

MODEL:

MODEL:

Tactix Bravo

Remedy

BATTERY LIFE:

MSRP:

Watch: 6 weeks, Tracking: 50 hours, Navigation: 20 hours

$300

MSRP:

www.liongmah.com om

The CG1 from 9 Line Tactical isn’t your granddaddy’s trifold wallet. In fact, it doesn’t fold at all. Made of aluminum with stainless steel screws, the CG1 can block radiofrequency ID signals to protect your personal data and has a patent-pending internal spring that can hold up to 10 cards. Weighing 4 ounces and about the size of a thick smartphone, the wallet also has a pocket clip that can double as a money clip if you prefer to separate your cash and cards. The CG1 is available in all sorts of colors and materials — from carbon fiber and titanium to a flat dark earth model with Punisher skull. Keep in mind, the premium accouterments cost extra. MAKE:

9 Line Tactical MODEL:

CG1 Tactical Wallet MSRP:

Starting at $55 URL:

www.9linetactical.net ical.net

If you either don’t want to spend the time learning the idiosyncrasies of an AK trigger, or simply want all of your long guns to feel like a high-end AR, then perhaps you might like to consider the CMC drop-in trigger for your gat. Contained within a robust, cast-and-machined housing, it enlists elements of both east and west and results in a 3-pound rollover break with a 1/8-inch reset. Which may actually be too light for 7.62 rifles, unless of course you want to impress all your friends with a little bump fire rock and roll. Installation is no more involved than swapping out Stoner’s bang switch, and can be accomplished in less than one beer. MAKE:

CMC Triggers MODEL: DEL:

AK-47 Trig Trigger Kit MSRP:

$225 URL::

www.cmctriggers.com www.cmctrigger

URL:

$600 URL:

URL:

www.texasweaponsystems.com

12

www.sedirect.com

13

14

15

11

29 REC O ILW E B .C O M

MODEL:

Dog Leg Rail Gen-3

New York City knife-maker Liong Mah designed several popular models for Columbia River Knife & Tool (including the Journeyer, as seen in this issue’s “Unusual Suspects” column). But he also crafts fine tools under his own brand, Liong Mah Designs. The Remedy is one such example. Its blade is 3.75 inches long and made of S35VN, a premium stainless steel that’s incredibly tough, easy to sharpen, and fights off corrosion like a boss. It’s also expensive, hence the knife’s price. But when you consider the Remedy’s handle and pocket clip are made from 3D-sculpted titanium, the price makes sense. With a good feel in hand and a smooth flipper opening, the Remedy could very well be your everyday-carry solution — if you have the scratch.

26

MAKE:

Garmin’s Tactix Bravo will attract anyone in the big watch/big function crowd, but it was purpose built for camowearing problem solvers. For anyone who grew up with a tape deck and a poster of Pamela Anderson on his bedroom wall, it’s nuts to think that Garmin can shove a navigation computer in a wrist watch. But, that’s where we are, and Garmin is on v2 of its military-grade wrist-top plugger/ workout partner. This one’s got a non-reflective black PVD case, night vision readability, sapphire glass, daily location logging, GLONASS and GPS compatibility, advanced workout recording, and it can control Garmin’s line of action cameras via Bluetooth. All that and I bet you’ll think the coolest thing about it is that throwback analog display. We do.

IS SUE

For years, anyone showing up to the range with an optic fastened to the AK’s dust cover was subjected to well-deserved derision, as the stamped sheetmetal is as robust as a politician’s morals. As a means to cover up the bolt carrier, it works slightly better than wet cardboard, but is just about useless as an optics mounting platform. Texas Weapon Systems addresses all of these shortcomings with a dust cover that not only is hogged out of aluminum bar stock, but is secured very tightly at both ends by precision machined steel hardware. In fact, once installed it’s probably the stiffest component on any stamped AK, barrel included. We bolted one up to a Yugo N-PAP and gained not only the lowest rail possible for a red dot, but also the longest sight radius with the optional back up peep. Two thumbs up. Shown with optional Rear Peep Sight.


ALWAYS


Smart, comfortable, everyday carry apparel and gear built for life’s most demanding missions. Shop 511Tactical.com

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© 2016 5.11, Inc.

4

1. VTAC® GAME STALKER KNIFE

2. TMT® L2 FLASHLIGHT

3. RIDGELINE PANT

4. APPENDIX IWB HOLSTER

5. SENTINEL WATCH

6. COVERT FLEX SHIRT


26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

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The Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles is home to one of the largest collections of Jeeps anywhere in the world.

SOME OF THE CORNHUSKER STATE’S BEST MILITARY RELICS STORY AND PHOTOS BY PETER SUCIU

There are plenty of museums that

HMMV isn’t the largest military his-

are truly off the beaten path, but the

tory museum in the country, nor does

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles

it have the most extensive collection

(HMMV) in Lexington, Nebraska, isn’t

of military vehicles. However, this

exactly one of those — at least not if

free-to-visit museum, which is open

you’re driving on I-80 through Amer-

year-round (except for Christmas and

ica’s heartland. While not perhaps as

New Year’s Day) is home to around

well known as Fort Bennett or West

100 vehicles that date from the

Point, this museum is absolutely worth

first half of the 20th century to the

the trek for anyone with an interest in

modern day. Unlike many other his-

military vehicles, anti-tank weapons, or

tory museums where the old vehicles

just happens to be a fan of M*A*S*H*.

are essentially props that need to

Run by a nonprofit organization,

be towed out of the way, the goal of

staffed by volunteers, and funded

HMMV is to restore each vehicle to

entirely by donations and grants, the

working order.


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Currently the museum’s collection ranges from tanks and half-tracks to a full-size helicopter. HMMV is also home to one of the largest collections of military ambulances in the world, and has jeeps from every branch of the service.

1. One of the few remaining World War I-era Mack Trucks in the world is at the HMMV. Introduced in 1916, it was used by both the British and American military.

“We currently have vehicles and other military equipment from the First World War to the modern day,” said Gary Gifford, the director of the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles.

HUMBLE ORIGINS While HMMV may be the envy of many a military vehicle collector, it

2. During World War II the U.S. Army drafted the Chevy pickup for action. This example has been restored to its former glory complete with wartime olive drab paint.

actually has rather humble beginnings that go back 30 years. The museum was founded by Lexington sons Chris Larsen, Dave Smith, Terry Lauby, and Al Martin. Armed with only

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a determination to preserve historic

REC O ILW E B .C O M

34

vehicles, the four were collectors who often let local veterans ride in the annual Veterans’ Day celebrations. The response from veterans and parade

3. From 1959-1962 American Motors built the M422 “Mighty Mite” — a lightweight 1/4-ton 4x4 for the United States Marine Corp. It was built with an aluminum body so that it could be easily airlifted anywhere the grunts needed to go.

1

goers inspired the four to comb Central Nebraska to find other vintage vehicles that could be restored — and soon it was more than four personal collections, it was worthy of a museum. In 1991 the four found a permanent site, ideally situated off exit 237 of Interstate 80, and by 1998 a

2 4. Officially known as the Carrier Personnel Half-Track (or M3 Half Track), this goanywhere vehicle was introduced at the tail end of World War II.

16,000-square-foot facility was constructed to help preserve the vehicles and protect them from the harsh Nebraska winters. The location remains ideal, as the sight of a World War II vintage Sherman tank, a Chrysler M-60 main battle tank, and an FMC XM-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle are hard to miss from the highway. The core of museum’s collection is built around pieces found within a 150-mile radius of Lexington. These efforts to preserve the history struck a resonant chord in what could be considered one of the epicenters of surplus vehicles because many of the old jeeps, trucks, and yes, even tanks,

4

3


HEARTLAND MUSEUM OF MILITARY VEHICLES were repurposed for use by farmers in the late 1940s and early 1950s when tractors were in short supply. When the farms grew and commercial vehicles became available, those old military workhorses were retired, parked in barns, or used as windbreaks and simply left to rust away. The four

1. Named after General Omar Bradley, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle was introduced in 1981 and has seen service around the world. This example is painted to resemble those that were used in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

founders managed to save many vehicles before the elements transformed them into irretrievable elements of the Nebraskan landscape. Originally, the museum focused on World War II-era vehicles. But, as the collection grew it expanded to cover a

2. Vintage armaments — a captured World War II German 50mm mortar (left) along with a German Maxim machinegun from the First World War.

greater range of military vehicle history — not just those with wheels and tracks. While the museum added a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, donated by the U.S. Army, it also has not one, but two, M-60

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tanks in its collection. Recent additions

REC O ILW E B .C O M

36

include two UH-1 “Huey” Helicopters. “One of the two helicopters was a gunship that was used in Vietnam,” said

3. The Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles continually improves its tribute to the TV show M*A*S*H while honoring those who served in such units during the Korean War.

1

Gifford. “It was shot down in the war, but restored to working order. We’re proud to have it. The other was a medevac helicopter that was used in the Gulf War.” A partnership with the Commemorative Air Force has allowed a restored 1942 twin-engine Beechcraft C-45

2

to fly on museum “missions,” while the group also brings other vintage aircraft to Heartland events. Many of the donated vehicles retain their pet names that were given by farmers and veterans — proving these are vehicles with a heart. The museum is also home to what can be described as truly a one-of-akind project — a fullsize replica of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), as popularized by the movie and TV series, M*A*S*H. It features authentic U.S. Army surgical tents and equipment. “It is an ongoing project,” added Gifford. “We have people come in and see it and often get donations to make it better. We are always adding those things that should be there.”

3


W W W. E O T E C H I N C . C O M

An

Company

©2015, L-3 EOTech

HHS II (G33 / EXPS2-2)


HEARTLAND MUSEUM OF MILITARY VEHICLES 1. A nicely restored German Kubelwagen with tropical paint and medical identification markings.

1 SMALL ARMS AND ANTI-TANK WEAPONS While the focus of HMMV is about the vehicles — and does include such unique vehicles as a German Volkswagen Kübelwagen and a Schwimmwagen (floating car), it also offers numerous displays that honor the American G.I. The museum also isn’t just about vehicles, it includes a small collec-

2. Part of the museum’s fine collection of American small arms of the 19th and 20th centuries, including a Civil War Springfield rifle (top), a Thompson SMG, a Spanish-American War Krag–Jørgensen rifle, two versions of the Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle, an M1 Carbine and M1 Garand, Vietnamera M14, and the infamous M16.

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tion of infantry weapons and, more

REC O ILW E B .C O M

38

importantly, an impressive display of anti-tank weapons and ordnance including land mines. “That collection is always growing, as one of our guys deals in that sort of thing so he’s always finding great additions for the museum,” said Gifford. The small arms range from World War I rifles to more modern military black guns, but also included are several

3. While the museum has a fine collection of vehicles, it also has a collection of small arms that are meant to take out tanks and other armored vehicles, including variations of the bazooka, an aerial bomb, antitank rockets, and, of course, mines!

2

bazookas and similar anti-tank weapons. “We have some impressive tank killers,” said Gifford. That would only be fitting for such an impressive tank and vehicle museum.

HEARTLAND MUSEUM OF MILITARY VEHICLES ADDRESS:

606 Heartland Road Lexington, NE 68850 HOURS:

Open daily except Christmas and New Year’s Day Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. ADMISSION:

Free TELEPHONE:

(308) 324-6329 URL:

www.heartlandmuseum.com

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TWO-TRACK

REC O ILW E B .C O M

40

MIND ONE COMMIE’S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE

BY JOHN SCHWARTZE PHOTOS BY ROB CURTIS


Let’s face it, who hasn’t fantasized about having their

Dead Air Armament founder Mike Pappas is living proof

very own tank without being subject to the usual prereq-

that the average civilian can realize that dream as well

uisite of military service or stealing one from a National

— assuming your local laws permit such a thing. If not,

Guard armory? Schwarzenegger’s YouTube charity videos

perhaps it’s time to move or write to your congressman.

might make you think he’s the only one with the money

After looking at different options for surplus military

and connections to be able to personally own and oper-

vehicles on the market, Mike found this OT-90 the most

ate some decommissioned iron, but there’s hope for

conducive to his needs. It holds 11 people, can float,

those of us who’ve felt that same indescribable yearning

and (at 12 tons) is light enough to be hauled on the

that could only be satisfied by having tracked armor.

back of a big-rig trailer as a “wide load.” The history of

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41 REC O ILW E B .C O M


this particular tank is a little unclear. It was a Russian BMP-1 converted to an OT-90 by the Czechs, and although bullet strikes are visible, he’s not sure if Slobodan Miloševic may have had it terrorizing the Balkans. For those of you already calling us out on our nomenclature, you’re right, the OT-90 is an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) as opposed to a tank. As a varia-

Mike wasn’t interested in the original guns, which he could’ve only taken possession of if they were cut up. Since trying to find 14.5mm ammo isn’t very easy, and cut-up guns are essentially junk anyway, Mike passed in favor of retrofitting the turret for an M2 and 1919.

tion of the BMP-1, the OT-90’s original 73mm turret was removed at some point prior to sale for a lighter version that held a 14.5mm KPVT to work coax with a PKP rifle. Mike wasn’t interested in the original guns, which he could’ve

only taken possession of if they were

he puts it, the whole process “wasn’t

cut up. Since trying to find 14.5mm

that big a deal.” He took possession

ammo isn’t very easy, and cut-up

about a year after the money changed

guns are essentially junk anyway, Mike

hands and paperwork was filed. The

passed in favor of retrofitting the turret

whole ball of wax, including importing

for an M2 and 1919.

fees, only came to about $60,000.

A friend of Mike who is a military

The process would be a bit easier if

vehicle broker, and had also imported

one were to buy something stateside

a BMP-1 for Oakley, helped him with

like an old M60 Patton. Since it’s

the transaction and necessary paper-

essentially a big gun with wheels,

work. The broker did a Form 6 and

purchasing a domestic tank would

Mike filled out an end-use certificate

be more of a straight transaction,

along with some export paperwork

although we’re sure the turret would

required by the DoD and ATF, but as

have to be inert.


If you’re serious about buying something like this, Mike also suggests finding a vetted broker in your own state who can import a vehicle.

While you might have the desire, but

Firing this thing up took some work.

veicle before, as Mike hadn’t, the driving

Mike had to call the exporter to help him

controls are not overly complicated, but

identify switches that were written in

he suggests being mechanically inclined

Cyrillic. Although it took some back and

if you plan to purchase a used tank or

forth, he got it off the trailer and spent

IFV. Trying to find someone who can

the ensuing months labeling the controls

work on them is a pretty tall order. Parts

in English. The startup is a little complex

are available online, but Mike says the

ing a cheap WWII-era Tiger tank online,

until you get the hang of the procedure.

market for communist-block armor is

but at around 60 tons, it’s impractical

The UDT-20 19L V-6 engine is multi-fuel

very competitive. Apparently militants

for anything other than sitting still or

capable, and runs on the same things

buy these up for their local conflict and,

leasing it to museums. It’d make quite

you’d put in an M35A2 truck. On a full

after it’s over, sell whatever they can’t

a conversation piece though if you have

tank it has a range of roughly 400 miles.

afford to maintain.

the aptitude to support this sort of pos-

not the means to own a tank, at least you know that having a military vehicle of this ilk is not impossible. Do your homework and don’t make an impulse buy. You might get excited about find-

session. You could create license plate

Inside, the IFV is surprisingly spa-

If you’re serious about buying

cious. Mike plans on replacing the HF

something like this, Mike also sug-

holders that say “My other car is an

radio with a modern version, in addition

gests finding a vetted broker in your

IFV” and actually mean it.

to instalilng a 2M/440. Other than

own state who can import a vehicle.

that, it really only needs some cosmetic

In the event you can’t find one who

touches here and there. Mike decided

you feel comfortable with, contact

to leave the troop weapon portholes on

Mike through his company so he can

each side cradled for AKs as they were

turn you on to some reliable sources.

originally intended. Larger portholes in

It’d also make sense to ensure you

front for Vz.59s are also going to be left

have somewhere you can actually

as-is, since Mike already has one and

drive it. If you don’t live on or near

plans to get another.

lots of accessible undeveloped land,

No, the OT-90 is not street legal. Mike

don’t have adequate storage, and

lives in a rural area that enables him to

don’t have neighbors who aren’t

use an off-road vehicle license to cruise

threatened by the sight of a war

it around. If you’ve never driven a tracked

implement, this really isn’t for you.

1982 OT-90 JPJ ENGINE:

19L UDT-20 V-6 DRIVETRAIN:

Five-speed manual LENGTH:

3x

CREW

23.39 feet

8x

FIGHTING COMPARTMENT

WIDTH:

9.65 feet HEIGHT:

6.91 feet

WEIGHT - EMPTY:

27,577 pounds (approx.) WEIGHT - COMBAT:

29,762 pounds (approx.) MAX SPEED - ROAD:

40 mph

HEIGHT: 6.91 feet

MAX SPEED - OFF-ROAD:

28 mph

MAX SPEED - WATER:

8 mph

CREW:

3: driver/gunner/commander FIGHTING COMPARTMENT:

8 fully armed troops ENGINE BHP:

300 bhp

FUEL TYPE:

Diesel

TANK CAPACITY:

15.89 cubic feet (main) + 2 x 6.36 cubic feet (aux)

LENGTH: 23.39 feet

2x WEIGHT (COMBAT)


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UNUSUAL SUSPECTS For some people, carrying a 4-inch

chance the blade could close on you while in use. And, of course, is the knife legal?

a flick of a wrist or the press of a button

This comes before the questions of price,

is a fantasy. Thanks to fear-mongering of

fit and finish, and appearance. Keep in mind that the knives we

banned. In places like New York City,

reviewed are just that — reviews. This

one-handed opening knives can earn you

doesn’t mean all these knives are A-OK to

an uncomfortable experience with NYC’s

carry the world over. RECOIL, this author,

finest. And in restrictive European nations

and online forums aren’t lawyers. Always

like Germany, the law dictates knives can’t

do your own research.

lock. As a result, some manufacturers have returned to a classic design: the slip-joint folding knife, sometimes called a non-

Tech-Tool Carbon 1

26

Choosing an everyday carry (EDC) knife

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MAKE:

5 Boker Plus MODEL:

locking folder.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

STORY AND PHOTOS BY DANIEL JACKSON

tactical folding knife that swings open with

Hollywood in the ’50s, switchblades were

46

SLIP-JOINT KNIVES

OAL:

for jurisdictions with strict knife laws

6.57 inches

comes with its challenges. Usually, the

2.8 inches

blade must be short. Short blades are often attached to short handles — not

BLADE LENGTH: BLADE MATERIAL:

12C27 stainless steel WEIGHT:

friendly for fullsized hands. Plus, a non-

2.1 ounces

locking folder means there’s always the

$50

MSRP: URL:

www.boker.de/us MAKE:

1 Spyderco Inc. MODEL:

Roadie

MAKE:

3 Case XX Knives MODEL:

OAL:

Smooth Persimmon Orange Bone Seahorse Whittler

BLADE LENGTH:

6.13 inches

BLADE MATERIAL:

2.25 inches

WEIGHT:

420HC stainless steel

MSRP:

3.2 ounces

URL:

$98

5.08 inches 2.09 inches

N690Co stainless steel 1 ounce $80

www.spyderco.com

OAL:

BLADE LENGTH: BLADE MATERIAL: WEIGHT: MSRP: URL:

www.wrcase.com MAKE:

2 Cold Steel MODEL:

Lucky

MAKE:

4 Columbia River Knife & Tool Inc.

WEIGHT:

2.9 ounces MSRP:

$60

URL:

www.sogknives.com MAKE:

7 Lansky Sharpeners MODEL:

2.75 inches

BLADE MATERIAL:

440C stainless steel

WEIGHT:

5.4 ounces

MSRP:

$25

URL:

www.lansky.com

2.75 inches

WEIGHT:

8CR13MoV stainless steel

MSRP:

2.9 ounces

URL:

$45

www.coldsteel.com

BLADE MATERIAL:

8Cr13Mov stainless steel

BLADE LENGTH:

BLADE MATERIAL:

$130

BLADE LENGTH:

3 inches

7 inches

6.5 inches

1.2 ounces

OAL:

6.9 inches

OAL:

BLADE LENGTH:

S35VN

Sliptron

World Legal Knife

Journeyer

2.63 inches

& Tools MODEL:

MODEL:

OAL:

5.88 inches

MAKE:

6 SOG Specialty Knives

www.crkt.com

OAL:

BLADE LENGTH: BLADE MATERIAL: WEIGHT: MSRP: URL:


FLIP THE PAGE FOR MORE DETAILS ON EACH KNIFE.


INTERROGATING THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS

SPYDERCO

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ROADIE

REC O ILW E B .C O M

48

COLD STEEL

LUCKY

411: Spyderco started designing the Roadie after the TSA proposed a rule in 2013 allowing small knives back on commercial flights after banning them following 9/11 attacks. Political pressure killed the rule, but Spyderco moved forward with this 1-ounce knife, featuring a way of opening the blade it dubs a Double Dent. This little puppy is made in Italy and comes in five colors.

411: Cold Steel’s Lucky is a modern reimagining of the gentleman’s upscale penknife. Instead of multiple blades, the handle — big enough to wrap three fingers around — houses one smooth-edged blade and another serrated for more aggressive cutting. The Italianmade knife sports a pocket clip. It keeps its weight at 1.2 ounces by attaching the blade straight to the carbonfiber handles.

PROS: The sheepsfoot blade makes the knife look innocuous. The Double Dent dimples at the tip of the blade are a design improvement from nail nicks. The finger coil extends the grip for us big-handed folks.

PROS: Two blades give you double the cutting area and the ability to adapt the knife to almost any cutting job at hand. Aesthetically, the knife has more curves than Kate Upton.

CONS: With only a lanyard hole, carrying options for this little number are limited. For its size, the blade width is thick. Cutting ease might be affected after repeated sharpening. $80 for this much knife is steep.

CONS: The second closed blade interferes with your grip. The serrations are ground best for a lefthanded person to use. An MSRP of $130 ensures only gentlemen buy the knife. With no liner, the blade scrapes at the carbon-fiber handle, creating black dust that looks like dirty oil.

CASE

SEAHORSE WHITTLER

411: The distinguishing feature of Case’s Seahorse Whittler is the 2.25-inch Wharncliffle blade, straining forward from the handle. A pen and a coping blade, each about 1.25 inches, back up the main edge. Added up, the ensemble totals to over 4.5 inches of knife, polished at Case’s factory in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Handle options also include G-10 and other shades of bone.

PROS: The angle of the Wharncliffe blade provides some powerful cutting. The traditionallooking knife is a style statement. Three blades mean there could be one for food prep, one for sharpening pencils, one for minor surgery, etc. CONS: There’s no lanyard or pocket clip, limiting carrying options. Even opening and closing the knife put scratches on the mirror-finished blade. Bone, being a natural material, will not last as long as synthetic components.

CRKT

JOURNEYER

411: Designer Liong Mah, who works in New York City, wanted to design an EDC tool for regions with tough rules on locking mechanisms and blade lengths. The Journeyer features a 2.75-inch, hollowground blade that comes in the choice of half-serrated or straight edge. While it’s a slip-joint, there’s a pin in the pommel that users can insert to lock the blade. The pin doubles as a wrench.

PROS: The stonewash finish invites hard use. The T-6 torque wrench works on the knife’s pivot screw — a self-fixing tool! Serrations allow this knife to take on bigger cutting tasks, like sawing rope.

CONS: The pin has popped out of its place in the pommel. For some locales, having a one-handed opening knife, like the Journeyer, can be a no-no. Words to describe the clip: small, pointy, stiff.

BOKER PLUS

TECH-TOOL CARBON 1

SOG

SLIPTRON

LANSKY

WORLD LEGAL KNIFE

411: Boker, which has ground blades since 1869, updated the multitool concept with the Tech-Tool Line. With carbon-fiber scales, the Carbon 1 is the most recent evolution in a line that offers variations with G-10 handles and additional tools like saws and scissors. Each one, though, comes with a hollowground blade, clip, glass-breaker, and reasonable price point because they’re made in Taiwan and China.

411: The SOG Sliptron is a no-frills EDC knife made in Taiwan. It’s made from stainless steel from tip to pommel and weighs 2.9 ounces. It may not have a lock, but the spring holding the blade in place falls into a grove when the blade is opened, securing the business end open. Of the knives featured here, this one’s the thinnest.

411: In creating the World Legal, designer Mikkel Willumsen attempted to marry tactical aesthetics with requirements to carry in 156 countries. The Chinese-made knife looks like a rhinoceros, what with a black nylon handle and the blade’s dynamic grinds. It weighs in at 6 ounces and can hang from a lanyard hole or the handle’s four places to reposition the clip.

PROS: The mirror-finished blade opens with a decisive snap. That’s German engineering for ya. Why aren’t more EDCs outfitted with glass-breakers? The clip was smooth slipping in and out of pockets.

PROS: It takes a good push to close the blade. An acute point and shallow grind, makes a blade designed for one thing: cutting. Tactical feel? Legal design? You can have the best of both worlds.

PROS: World Legal comes with a full handle, one you can really grip. The edge’s S-curve maximizes the blade’s cutting ability. Its price of $25 is just right for our wallets.

CONS: With everything else fitted and polished to a crisp, it’s disappointing to see the blade loosening on the knife. There’s nothing to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade.

CONS: Despite grooves on the side, metal handles don’t provide much grip. Its thinness is ideal for pocket carry, but there’s no clip. Branding much? SOG engraved its logo into the blade and cut it out in the handle.

CONS: Thanks to its massively powerful spring, ready the Band-Aids should the blade snap on your hand. Wide blade and some delicate work don’t mix. 440C steel is a dealbreaker for hard-core knife nuts.


SHORT. .30 CAL. DOESN’T SUCK. ANY QUESTIONS? STORY BY IAIN HARRISON PHOTOS BY KENDA LENSEIGNE


Believe it or not, Century Arms is the

in the AK realm, having a long enough

meat comes as a bit of a shock. Fortu-

most prolific AK builder in the U.S. It

memory to recall the Tantal fiasco,

nately, this being an SBR, the mass is

shipped over 60,000 guns last year, a

and B, we love SBR’d AKs, as the x39

distributed between the hands, rather

number that dwarfs any other manu-

round shines in this application.

than hanging forward in space, and it’s actually quite nimble when it comes to

facturer or vendor, and in order to keep up with demand, it was forced to add capacity to its Vermont facility — a

LIFT HOOD, KICK TIRES The chopped C39 lets you know

transitioning between targets. Racking the bolt produces another pleasant

piece of good news that no doubt was

right up front that its receiver is milled

revelation. Instead of feeling like you’re

celebrated by Senator Sanders.

from a solid chunk of 4140 American

ripping a beer can in half, the carrier

We laid hands on the newest of the

steel, as it’s one heavy mofo — if

glides back and forth on well-machined

milled-receiver C39V2 models because

you’re used to the feel and heft of

and polished rails. And why shouldn’t

A, we’re leery of Century’s reputation

stamped-receiver AKs then the extra

semi-literate peasants have nice stuff?

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51 REC O ILW E B .C O M


CENTURY’S AK SBR latter, sadly, no longer available due

is an optics rail. AKs are notorious

But, of course, you say — it would

to the plant going bang after being hit

for their widely varying manufactur-

look pretty stupid without one. This

by a missile in 2014), we were able

ing tolerances, especially between

barrel, however, is a little different

to produce 2.5 MOA groups from a

different nation state producers.

from the usual AK tube as not only is

sandbag rest. According to the Century

When it comes to mounting glass it

it made in the USA, it’s also concen-

rep who furnished the carbine, that

would seem that the various satellite

tric and finished in black nitride, which

particular gun had close to 12,000

members of the former Warsaw Pact

means that it should not only be accu-

rounds through it, which made its

had an informal competition going

rate, but also last a long time. Whoa,

performance all the more impressive.

— to see who could deviate furthest

there! An accurate AK? What is this

Traditionalists will be less impressed

from the Russian design without

unicorn of which you speak? Century

by the A2-style birdcage flash hider.

being slapped down by Moscow. As

uses a variety of barrel manufacturers

A curious mix of west and east, it

complex pieces of kit like optics were

to produce blanks for their guns and,

marries the familiar AR looks and per-

never supposed to be issued to every

in our sample at least, the quality of

formance with a .30-cal exit hole and

infantryman (after all, the biggest

surface finish both inside and out was

left-handed metric threads, and is one

news of 2013 in Russian defense

part that the end user will probably

equipment procurement was the

swap out.

adoption of socks — we kid you not),

Pressed into the receiver is a barrel.

superior to just about anything we’ve laid hands on in the AK world. Drawing from our stash of Federal

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soft points and Ukrainian FMJ (the

REC O ILW E B .C O M

52

Naturalized citizen. While it might be a Russian design, the C39V2 is as American as apple pie.

Riveted to the left side of its monolithic receiver in the usual spot

there was considerable latitude in design and execution.


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CENTURY’S AK SBR

IS SU E

26

To U.S. engineers, this proved to

REC O ILW E B .C O M

54

Garden-variety AK iron sights are

less important in the USA. As Century

be somewhat frustrating and in the

included, and come complete with

wisely opted for salt bath nitride treat-

end they simply said, “Screw it! We’re

the usual crappy sight picture and

ment throughout the gun, it’s even less

designing our own.” So they did.

short radius, perfectly matched to the

significant of a problem.

And the result is not bad. While it’s

7.62x39 round’s mediocre perfor-

just about possible to field strip the

mance. OK, that’s a bit much, but you

as an aftermarket AR unit, but it’s

weapon without removing the mount,

probably get the idea that we’re not big

pretty sweet nonetheless, breaking

trying to reassemble it is an exercise

fans of the AK’s issued sights. Then

at 5 pounds and with around 3/16ths

in frustration (note to Century: QD

again, is anyone? Purists will probably

of an inch of travel to the reset point.

latches are a thing these days). The

bitch about the front sight’s 90-degree

It’s a competent combat trigger, es-

mount is, however, robust and offers

gas block — heresy on a .30-cal AK,

sentially a single stage, but with a

some fore-and-aft latitude when it

but from a manufacturing perspective

long, rollover-style break that’s smooth

comes to attaching your favorite optic.

it simplifies matters, as anyone who’s

and doesn’t stack toward the end

Evidently, the consensus at Century

tried to drill an angled hole in a curved

of the stroke. Use it like a very light

HQ was that everyone’s favorite optic

surface will attest. The one benefit

double-action trigger and you won’t be

is an Aimpoint Micro, as there was a

that a traditional, 45-degree block

disappointed. Unlike most U.S.-made

dedicated mounting bracket for that

provides, namely that of being simpler

AK triggers (and the majority of foreign

sight packed with our test gun.

to clean after using corrosive ammo, is

ones found on stamped receiver guns)

The C39’s trigger is not as good


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CENTURY’S AK SBR Magpul furniture comes as standard,

the C39 sports a double hook design

lock into place. We had no problem

that engages both sides of the ham-

and their black plastic handguards

with it in a Yugoslavian M70 variant,

mer. This provides the weapon with

and pistol grip fill the hands well while

and given our previous experiences

redundancy — in the event that one

providing a secure grip. The Zukhov-S

with their 5.56 products and that

of the hooks breaks the other will con-

stock folds to the right and provides

this one was still a few months from

tinue to function until a replacement

enough clearance between it and the

launch, didn’t get too bent out of shape

part can be installed.

bolt carrier to permit the user to fire

— we note it here simply for the sake

while it’s folded. It’s also adjustable for

of journalistic integrity. All other mags

the safety and mag release, are of

length of pull, which will be appreciat-

locked up and functioned flawlessly.

the product-improved type. While the

ed by corn-fed American shooters who

safety lever has a notch cut into its arm

usually have trouble adapting to Soviet

unstoppable reliability, it’s a mechanical

to act as a bolt hold open, we’d like to

hardware originally dimensioned to fit a

device subject to the laws of physics and

Siberian dwarf in winter clothing.

chemistry — all guns fail at some point,

The AK’s two other controls, namely

see a Krebs-style tab added as well, as the milled receiver is smooth enough to allow operation with the trigger finger. Our test gun did allow an enthusiastic user to push the lever past the “on” detent, stopping only when it hit the red-dot sight. It’s a fault, but you’d have to be trying pretty hard to achieve the same result in normal use.

Our SBR’s finish was streets ahead of that usually found on current production AKs, which typically resembles truck bedliner applied with a 12-inch roller by crack-addled howler monkeys.

Despite the AK’s reputation for

so you’d better be able to recognize

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE We tried out the American AK with a

and rectify the problem. In this case, all was proceeding swimmingly until

mixture of Combloc steel mags, Mag-

we switched to some extremely hot-

pul and US Palm’s polymer offerings,

loaded Yugo M67 ammo and got halfway

and a prototype 50-round drum from X

through a magazine before a case locked

Products, which had evidently been set

itself into the chamber, and the C39’s

up for a stamped receiver and wouldn’t

extractor pulled through the rim.


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CENTURY’S AK SBR

Unlike a typical AK, this one doesn’t have a cleaning rod jammed under its

Despite popular belief, AKs malfunction just like every other firearm. You can believe in their infallibility, or you can practice your IA drills — your call.

keep the muzzle on target throughout

AK that arrives ready to rock straight

the recoil impulse. In fact, compared

from the factory, then the additional

to the Battlecomp-equipped, fullsized

$200 payment to Uncle Sam could be

AK we used for comparison purposes it

worth the price of admission. Previ-

actually felt more controllable in rapid

ously, you’d have to either buy a rifle,

strings. No doubt this had something

then send it off to an AK gunsmith to

to do with its additional weight, but the

be shortened, or else buy it as a pistol

gas system would seem to play a large

and then turn wrenches to fit a stock,

part as well.

which in some instances could be just

The C39V2 SBR is not for everyone.

as involved. For around a grand, the

In fact, there are several states where,

cost/benefit equation tips in the Cen-

due to their oppressive laws, it’s not

tury’s favor, and once you experience

even an option. But if you’re in the

how smooth a well-setup AK can be,

market for a short, sweet-shooting

you might just be swayed.

barrel, so we were forced to use the MS Clean kit that rides in our range bag. On examining previously ejected shells, it was readily apparent that this particular batch of ammo was way over pressure, as most of them had blown 26

or punctured primers. Switching back IS SU E

to steel-cased rounds produced no further stoppages, with all remaining cases ejected to the 2 o’clock position, landing about 10 feet from the shooter.

58

Due to the stub of a barrel sticking

REC O ILW E B .C O M

past the gas port (which appears to be correctly sized), the C39V2 SBR has very little dwell time. This translates to a smooth-shooting carbine and, despite

SPEC CB BOX

its lack of a brake, we were able to

CENTURY C NTURY ARM ARMS M

C39V2 SBR

CALIBER

7.62x39 BARREL LENGTH

ACCESSORIES

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WE GO HANDS ON WITH DEAD AIR AND GEMTECH AK CANS STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE MERRILL AND IAIN HARRISON


The idea of slapping a suppressor on

mie thread patterns are nowhere near

an AK has always been appealing.

as common as their western brethren.

In practice, however, an AK with a

Today we’ll be covering two differ-

silencer can leave much to be desired.

ent, but equally brand-new (and all-

Right from the start you’re fighting an

American) options from Dead Air and

uphill battle. There are several issues

Gemtech. Both companies approach

at play, each being a potential deal

the unique challenges of putting a can

breaker in their own right. And when

on a Kalashnikov from discrepant di-

IS SUE

they form a confederation? Let’s just

rections, but they have the same goal

26

say that after a couple of attempts

dead in their sights.

ourselves, we haven’t bothered to try Part of what gifts the mythological

address these issues such as cutting new threads and having other [invari-

reliability of the Kalashnikov is the

ably expensive] custom work done,

shear volume of gas the system puts

Dead Air set out to solve them all in

out. Sticking a muffler on the muzzle

one go. Instead of trying to tailor the

can surge the gas flow, causing issues.

rifle to the silencer, they decided to

Not only is recoil more violent, but the

tailor the silencer to the rifle.

rifle is louder than other rifles at the

They call it the Wolverine PBS-1. As

shooter’s ear due to increased ejection

the name implies, it’s aesthetically pat-

port exhaust. You’re also amping up

terned after the original PBS-1. We’ve

the wear and tear on your rifle.

seen cans like this before from some

Muzzle thread concentricity is an

other manufacturers, but unfortunately

ongoing concern with AK rifles. Having

a few of those companies stayed a

bore and threads aligned to NASA-

little too true to the original, unexcep-

level tolerances is less of a concern

tional Soviet design with layouts largely

when running a short, slant brake. But,

consisting of thin and straight baffles.

mount 7 or 8 inches of suppressor on

They typically had the same unexcep-

the end — and concentricity matters

tional performance, too.

a helluva lot more. Soviet manufactur-

Dead Air promised the internals

ing was never highly regarded for its

would be modern, so we headed out to

precision, and that theme continues

Utah to meet the Wolverine PBS-1 in

with many an AK, despite advances in

person. Bear in mind, our observations

modern manufacturing techniques. Fur-

are based on preproduction samples.

thermore, mounting solutions for com-

Some aspects of the Wolverine PBS-1

61 REC O ILW E B .C O M

again in a long time.

While there are umpteen methods to


SOVIET STYLING, AMERICAN EXECUTION

IS SU E

26

Dead Air Sandman-S (left), Wolverine PBS-1 (right)

REC O ILW E B .C O M

62

may change by the time it ships. We’ll

Internally, the Wolverine PBS-1 is not

Not only did the PBS-1 styling allow

point out anticipated changes as we

exactly the same as the Sandman-S. It’s

for a classic look and feel, but that

move along.

evolved into its own design, but the team

bulbous base allows for a multitude

In order to address the gas issues,

at Dead Air retained the desired lower

of threading arrangements. While the

the team at Dead Air used their Sand-

backpressure. And, its endcaps are in-

Wolverine PBS-1 is a direct thread

man-S silencer as a starting point. The

terchangeable with the endcaps from the

silencer, there’s a little more go-

Sandman-S is a lower backpressure

Sandman-S, though the final standard

ing on than initially meets the eye.

model, which is louder at the muzzle

exit diameter had yet to be determined.

The mounting system is a two-piece

The suppressor core is machined

affair consisting of a thread adapter

than the larger Sandman-L model, but is quieter at the shooter’s ear. “It’s a balance,” says Mike Pappas,

from Stellite and fully circumference

(available in a number of foreign and

welded for maximum strength. “We

western pitches) and a locking collar. The adapter and locking collar are

HMFIC at Dead Air. “If you maximize

wanted to make it as tough as the rifle

muzzle suppression, you pay the price

it’s made for,” says Gary Hughes, AK

counter threaded to each other to

at the ejection port.”

nerd supreme of Dead Air.

prevent unintentional removal. In other


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SOVIET STYLING, AMERICAN EXECUTION

but it took a couple of tries to get comfortable with the mounting system.

All of this adds up to: Don’t do anything special, just put it on and shoot.

Dead Air says this is one of the areas they’re looking to improve on production models.

IS SU E

26

Due to the, ummm “generous”

REC O ILW E B .C O M

64

SO HOW’S IT SOUND? We don’t hold an OSHA compliance verification rating, but nobody shooting

tolerances of foreign thread patterns,

the Wolverine complained about the

words, if the thread adapter is a left-

the bore diameter of the Wolverine

noise levels. We were comfortable shoot-

hand thread, the locking collar is right-

PBS-1 is slightly larger than your

ing without hearing protection in the

hand. To install, the Wolverine is first

average silencer. One of the reasons

open air. The general recommendation

threaded onto the barrel as far as it will

for a replaceable endcap is that even

for any supersonic suppressed centerfire

go, and then the locking collar is tight-

with the most egregious threading,

is going to be to wear some ear pro. No

ened down to the rifle. There are relief

the endcap is still the part most likely

issues with short-barreled 7.62x39 nor

cuts in the locking collar to engage the

to be struck by an exiting projectile.

full auto, or even when mounted on a

spring-loaded pins on AK front sight

Dead Air says this will be an excep-

rare Yugoslavian 7.62N AK.

bases to further fasten the suppressor

tional performer for short-barreled

and keep everything in place.

rifles, even on non-AK western guns.

speaking with a terrible fake Russian

For us, we plan to mount one on a

accent and toasting За здоровье!

On the preproduction models we shot, it took a little bit of work to lock

SCAR CQC for maximum annoyance

everything down. It wasn’t difficult,

and confusion.

Pick one up and in no time you’ll be

Anticipated release is late summer 2016 with an MSRP of $1,050.

MAKE:

Dead Air Armament MODEL:

Wolverine PBS-1 CALIBER:

7.62N and below, to include 5.56, 5.45, and 7.62x39 CONSTRUCTION:

Stellite and Stainless Steel LENGTH:

7.2 inches DIAMETER:

1.5 inches (body), 1.9-inch (base) WEIGHT:

20.8 ounces DECIBEL READINGS:

137dB [muzzle] 142dB [at-ear] (from 16-inch 7.62x39 AKM) MSRP:

$1,050 URL:

www.deadairsilencers.com


SOVIET STYLING, AMERICAN EXECUTION MAKE:

Gemtech MODEL:

Quickmount adapter is then installed,

CALIBER:

which also serves as a flash suppressor

CONSTRUCTION:

Titanium LENGTH:

7.5 inches 1.625 with shroud

being hearing safe. Although we didn’t

WEIGHT:

have a dB meter on hand, report from

DECIBEL READINGS:

the supersonic, steel-cased ammo was

7.62x39 / 142.4 at 1 meter left / 138.5 at shooter’s ear 5x45x39 / 142.4 at 1 meter left / 138.0 at shooter’s ear

comfortable in the 50-yard, U-shaped bay we used and the perceived noise of bullets on steel was louder than the muzzle blast. Again, this was a purely subjective

$999

test, but we wound up putting several

URL:

magazines of each caliber through the

www.gemtech.com

same can, with the small-bore sounding

being full-auto rated with a heavy-duty

quieter than its big brother. Swapping

cans this issue hails from the great

blast chamber. Although it’s presently

between guns proved to be an easy

state of Idaho, where Gemtech created

available only as a package deal through

(if hot) exercise, which we expect has

it in a joint venture with Arsenal. The

Arsenal, there are plans to release it as

something to do with the can recip-

brand-new, as of March 2016, design

a separate product in the future.

rocating about 1 ⁄8th of an inch on the

The second of our dedicated AK 26

We shot the suppressor on both 7.62 and 5.45 rifles and had little in the way of expectations when it came to

MSRP:

IS SU E

when the can is not in place.

DIAMETER:

19.5 ounces

REC O ILW E B .C O M

muzzle threads. A proprietary, two-lug

Arsenal, Inc. AK 30 cal

66

tricity and runout in both the bore and

was developed in order to complement

In order to ensure longevity in a

mount at each shot, as shown by our

Arsenal’s lineup of both 7.62 and 5.45

platform that’s notorious for third-world

high-speed camera. This movement

rifles. That means this is a 100-percent

levels of quality control, Arsenal hand-

may serve to scrape carbon from be-

titanium unit that adds only 19.5 ounc-

selects each rifle that’s to be paired

tween the mount and the corresponding

es and 7.5 inches to the muzzle, despite

with a suppressor, checking for concen-

surfaces in the suppressor body. 


Disruptive Technology Accuracy Defined

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USING AMERICAN COMPONENTS TO IMPROVE BULGARIAN HARDWARE STORY BY ERIK LUND PHOTOS BY CARMEN LOUT AND MARK KUCZKA


material to their Russian comrades

an example of which notoriously accom-

guage can be, sometimes words fail

for examination and testing. Once the

panied Osama bin Laden everywhere he

us. In some cases, it’s not the fault

Russians realized the full tactical and

went.

of our vocabulary. The few words that

terminal potential of lightweight bullets

are reserved for special occasions get

driven at high velocities, it didn’t take

to attract foreign sales, the AK 100

overused, and over time, lose the effec-

the Russian design bureau long to de-

series of rifles were introduced. The

tiveness of their meanings. Such is the

velop their own equivalent cartridge.

entire AK series was upgraded with new

As beautiful as the English lan-

occasion when trying to describe Mikhail

In short order, the 5.45x39mm car-

During the mid ’90s, in an attempt

polymer furniture, side-folding stocks,

Kalashnikov’s Avtomat Kalashnikova,

tridge was born. But the new cartridge

receiver-mounted rails for the attach-

model of 1947, commonly known as the

wasn’t the only improvement to the new

ment of various optics and lasers, and

AK-47.

rifle. The new AK-74 would feature a

a new corrosion-resistant black finish.

radical (for the time) muzzle brake to re-

Additionally, a 5.56x45 NATO caliber

and iconic are so regularly associated

duce recoil and improve accuracy when

version of the AK was introduced along-

with the AK that they lose their potency,

firing in the fully automatic mode. The

side the standard Russian calibers of

doing a disservice to the worthy recipi-

Russians have always appreciated com-

7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm.

ent. Yet, despite such high praise, the

pensators and muzzle brakes on their

AK rifle has only gained a small foothold

weapons, dating back to the 1930s. Two

version featuring a 12-inch barrel or a

of acceptance on American soil. Like a

of the best World War II submachine

standard version with a 16-inch barrel.

boxer past his prime, is it time for this

guns, the PPSh-41 and the PPS-43,

All of the rifles were renumbered as

legend to quietly slip into retirement?

both used integral muzzle brakes.

the AK-101 through the AK-105, but

Words like legendary, revolutionary,

Rifles were offered in a compact

AK rifle is a long and well-documented

during the Soviet May Day military

ignation of the standard AK-74 was not

IS SUE

story, but 1974 was a particularly impor-

parade, it didn’t take Western observ-

changed to a 100 series number. It was

26

tant year for the AK-pattern rifle. During

ers long to identify the new service rifle

simply redesignated the AK-74M (with

the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese

by its recoil-reducing muzzle brake and

“M” being the Russian abbreviation for

captured examples of the new American

a new-style magazine whose slightly

Modernized).

M16 rifles and 5.56x45mm ammuni-

less angular profile betrayed the secret

The history and development of the

So when the AK-74 made its debut

interestingly enough, the numerical des-

tion. It didn’t take long for the North

of its new caliber. Several variants of

reliability, ruggedness, and dependabil-

Vietnamese to pass along the captured

the AK-74 were developed, including

ity, it has also earned several dubious

a folding-stock version designated the

accolades. Haters cite several design

AKS-74 and the very compact AKS-74U,

faults overshadowing the AK to such a degree so as to make it nothing more than a Cold War relic that can no longer effectively compete with modern-day rifles like the M4/AR-15 series. Which is ironic, given the M4 is almost

REC O ILW E B .C O M

While the AK has set the standard for

69


IS SU E

26

REBUILDING THE AK-74

REC O ILW E B .C O M

70

eligible for Social Security. The list of gripes is long, but not entirely unjustified. For example, the

New life for the old warrior? The retrofitted AK-74 exceeded all performance expectations.

In order to give the AK-74 a fight-

and MOE AK grip would significantly

ing chance, I selected an old parts

improve the rifle’s ergonomics. The

kit AK-74 built by a well-known AK

slightly longer stock and grip would

builder that I had sitting around as

make it fit way better, and the grip

tools to properly zero. The safety

the basis for the retrofit. Based upon

provided a more natural hand and

selector is just plain odd in both loca-

the commonly cited “problems” with

trigger finger position. Installing the

tion and operation. The trigger pull

AK rifles, four areas were targeted for

Zhukov extended handguard required

is heavy, mushy, and has a tendency

upgrades and improvements.

grinding off the original handguard

sights are small and require special

retainer band, but it was well worth

to slap back against the operator’s

ERGONOMICS

trigger finger during the firing cycle, which starts off being annoying and

There’s no arguing about it, the

the modification. The extended handguard provides that extra bit of rail

AK isn’t a very user-friendly design.

space with M-LOK slots for attaching

But perhaps our expectations should

lights, lasers, or other accessories,

freakishly small, it has no (or inad-

be tempered by previous Soviet

while still allowing adequate room to

equate) provisions for the attach-

doctrine — after all, handing one

drive your support hand further out on

ment of lights or lasers, and typical

man a rifle and the guy behind him a

the rifle, giving the shooter that extra

accuracy is usually good enough to

five-round stripper clip in preparation

bit of leverage when controlling recoil.

hit the broad side of a barn. Barely.

for the lead dude to get shot probably

While the addition of the Magpul

When compared to a modern-day M4

wouldn’t fly these days. One can only

products totally changed the handling

rifle, the original AK-74 rifle is lacking

surmise that any end user’s concerns

characteristics of the AK for the bet-

in a serious way, but is this really a

weren’t a big factor. The first thing

ter, one more critical item needed to

valid comparison? Is it really fair to

this rifle needed was some improved

be addressed. Arguably one of the

handling characteristics and the new

worst features on the AK is the safety

line of AK products from Magpul

selector lever. Awkward in design and

seemed a perfect option.

operation, it possesses more sharp

eventually becomes downright painful. The pistol grip and foregrip are

compare the capabilities of a modern day M4 loaded with all the newest technology available against a stock AK-74? Maybe it’s time to even out this fight by giving the Cold War warrior a modern retrofit.

Krebs Custom enhanced safety lever improves on the poor factory design and allows for locking the bolt open. It’s a “must have” addition to any AK rifle.

After careful consideration, the

edges than a blender blade, and its

new Zhukov extended handguard

operation really left one wondering,

combined with an MOE AK fixed stock

“What in the hell were they


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REBUILDING THE AK-74 thinking?” No doubt about it, this one

disconnector engagement. Trigger

was destined for the trash can.

pull weight can be adjusted between

Not a commonly seen aftermarket

3.5 and 8 pounds and, depending on

part, locating a new safety selec-

your preference, can be adjusted to

tor lever meant finding an American

operate as a single-stage or two-stage

company that actually builds custom

trigger. Simply put, this trigger system

AK rifles. A quick bit of research

is awesome and offers performance

revealed that one of the oldest and

comparable to the best triggers avail-

most successful custom AK manufac-

able for the AR. Best of all, it retails

turers in the USAX is Krebs Custom.

for 50- to 75-percent less than most

Krebs offers an enhanced safety

of its AR counterparts.

lever (ESL) for the AK that features a protruding hump at its base to allow the operator’s trigger finger to contact the hump.

IS SU E

26

Once installed and properly fitted,

REC O ILW E B .C O M

72

OPTICS One feature that any modern rifle should possess is some kind of optic, and the AK rifle is no exception. The

the selector stays securely in place

Mini-Red Dot Sights (MRDS) segment

until slight downward pressure on

of the optics market is really making

the hump with the trigger finger is

great strides in performance,reliability,

applied, disengaging the selector

and durability. They’re extremely

from its safety detent and moving the

small, incredibly lightweight, and offer

selector to the fire position. The trig-

good battery life. The Leupold Delta-

ger finger is then free to make contact

point is a top choice when mounted

with the trigger. In actual practice, the

on a pistol slide due to its crystal

safety can now be disengaged almost

clear glass, rugged construction, and

as quickly as the standard M4 selec-

dependable performance.

tor. The Krebs ESL upgrade is worth

Any MRDS that can handle the

its weight in gold and should be con-

abuse of being mounted on a pistol is

sidered essential on any AK project.

certainly strong enough for a rifle. Leupold offers two reticle options, a 12

TRIGGER A key component of accuracy is

MOA Triangle and a 3.5 MOA Dot. The triangle reticle is a good choice for

a good trigger in the 3- to 4-pound

the pistol, but the dot offers a good

range, with no perceivable sear move-

compromise between close-quarters

ment prior to a crisp release. It should

speed and longer-range accuracy, and

have a modest amount of pre-travel

is perfect for rifle use.

prior to reaching the release point and

Mounting the Deltapoint only

a strong, short, positive reset. And

required a quick trip to the Midwest

the factory AK trigger possesses none

Industries website to locate the AK

of these attributes.

Mini-Dot Mount. This dual-purpose

Red Star Arms (RSA) came to the

mount is designed to replace the

rescue. Among the many products

factory rear sight leaf. Not only does

that RSA offers is a little known

it provide a platform to mount the

gem, the RSA Adjustable AK Trigger

Deltapoint (other mounts are available

System. These trigger components

for different MRDS models), but a new

are completely milled from solid

rear sight notch is also machined into

steel bar stock for long-term durabil-

the unit. It’s designed to provide a

ity — no MIM or cast parts here. The

lower third iron sight co-witness with

trigger offers a full range of adjust-

the MRDS dot. The entire mount is

ability for pre-travel, over-travel, and

adjustable for windage and requires no


REBUILDING THE AK-74 special tools other than the included

preciated for years until Hornady

standard hex head wrench. Best of

Manufacturing announced it would

shoulder, the MRDS was on target and

all, the entire unit, with the Delta-

offer a 5.45x39 round loaded

the iron sights were perfectly aligned

point mounted, weighs only about 2.6

with a 60-grain VMAX bullet. By

in the lower third of its glass window,

ounces.

importing steel cases from military

should a battery failure occur. The

ammunition plants and loading

trigger was simply perfection. It oper-

them in the United States with

ated as smoothly and as perfectly as

AMMUNITION

domestic powder and bullets, the

any two-stage AR trigger, adjusted to

munition put through it, and the AK

company wound up with the best of

perfectly respond to the preferences

is no exception. While the AK will

both worlds.

of the operator. At the shooting range,

A rifle is only as good as the am-

the short take-up followed by a crisp

never be known as the proverbial tack

THE MODERN-DAY WARRIOR IS BORN

driver, much of its accuracy issues

IS SU E

26

come from poor-quality ammunition.

gong. Several five-shot groups at 100

AK is capable of producing all the

nomic controls and handguards,

yards all hovered just over the 2-inch

accuracy needed within its ballistic

an outstanding trigger, a premier

mark. A quick run through chrono-

envelope. One big bonus for AK fans

MRDS integrated rear sight mount,

graph showed muzzle velocities near

is the availability of relatively cheap

and superior quality ammunition,

the advertised 2,800 fps mark.

ammunition, as compared to the price

the new Cold War AK-74 warrior

of 5.56 rounds. Russian and Bulgarian

stepped onto the battlefield. The er-

with the addition of a Surefire

5.45x39 military surplus ammuni-

gonomic upgrades were an instant

M600U light, the AK is still going

tion is quite plentiful and reasonably

improvement. No longer was the

strong and is performing competitively

priced at the moment.

rifle awkward. The controls were

alongside some of the best AR setups

easy to manipulate and intuitive.

ever built. Haters are always gonna

The MRDS was instantly available

hate, but this time around the hate

with a normal shoulder mount and

is well deserved. Once the AR crowd

cheek weld. No more ridiculously

realizes how much fight is still left in

high scope mounts that required

this modern-day warrior, they’re

a chin on the stock to properly

gonna hate the fact that they don’t

acquire the reticle.

have one.

ammunition is slightly corrosive and requires a specific cleaning regimen to prevent rust. With match-quality ammunition unavailable, the true potential of the AK-74 would go unap-

SPEC C BOX

a loud smack on the 100-yard steel

Fully upgraded with new ergo-

A word of warning if you choose to

REC O ILW E B .C O M

4-pound release was rewarded with

When fed good-quality ammo, the

use this ammunition: Some surplus

74

Every time the rifle snapped to the

Small, lightweight, and rock-solid, the integrated optic mount and Leupold MRDS far outperforms its small footprint.

ARSENAL

SLR 105

URL

www.arsenalinc.com

ACCESSORIES

CALIBER

5.45x39mm

Magpul MOE stock . . . . . . Magpul MOE Pistol Grip . . Magpul Zhukov Handguard Red Star Arms Trigger . . . .

BARREL LENGTH

16 inches OVERALL LENGTH

37 inches WEIGHT (UNLOADED)

6.7 pounds MAGAZINE CAPACITY

30 rounds

Several range sessions later and

MSRP

$ $1,100

. . . .

.................. .................. .................. .................. Krebs Custom AK Safety Lever . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midwest Industries AK Mini Mount . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leupold Deltapoint Mini Red Dot Sight (MRDS). . . . . Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. $55 . $18 . $91 . $82 . $54 . $80 $400 $780


26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

76

JIM FULLER, THE SUBORDINATION OF EGO FOR MARRIED LIFE, AND WHY PROSTITUTION IS A MORE ETHICAL CAREER THAN POLITICS

BY DAVID REEDER PHOTOS BY STRAIGHT 8


IS SU E

26

AMERICAN AK

REC O ILW E B .C O M

78

You cannot disscuss AKs in America without talking to Jim Fuller. It’s just not done, but be forewarned — he is

Jim Fuller can be described as many things; craftsman, gunsmith, patriot...but not diplomat.

decade or so. What’s the single greatest

with tight tolerances, etc., where the

aspect of the Kalashnikov design?

East was more concerned with func-

Jim Fuller: Its renowned reliability,

tionality, simplicity, and ease and cost

partly due to a combination of loose toler-

of manufacturing. From the Great Wars

and he won’t never win any awards for

ances and flexible design. The tapered

forward the East used a lot of stamped

diplomacy. A wry man of blunt speech

case ammo is another primary factor.

sheetmetal designs, while we milled

going to tell you exactly what he thinks,

things from blocks of steel and alumi-

and fierce loyalty, Fuller looks like a Sam Peckinpah gunslinger who just woke up

When discussing the AK, particularly as

num. The one exception I can think of

and talks like he had a blood transfusion

compared to the AR, you often men-

is the grease gun [the M3 submachine

from Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov

tion “Eastern thought” versus “Western

gun] of WWII. To my knowledge this was

hisself. We caught up to the preeminent

thought” when referring to the role

the only stamped sheetmetal gun our

AK-47 gunsmith during a brief lull he

perspective plays in opinions about and

military ever fielded.

had between teaching classes, taking

use of the AK. Can you talk a little about

classes, and building American versions

that or clarify what you mean? Is there a

tolerances of the AKM work well at

of the iconic COMBLOC rifle.

single fundamental difference between

keeping things from binding up, whereas

Eastern and Western rifle philosophy, or

stiff tight tolerances are less forgiving

is it a layered contrast? 

and bind up much easier. Today, though,

RECOIL: You’ve been building AKs and AK variants since the ’80s and running Rifle Dynamics full time for the last

JF: In America’s industrial heyday we designed things to be strong and precise,

The flexible sheetmetal design and

I would say it’s more layered. I mean, if you look at some of what the Russian


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IS SU E

26

AMERICAN AK

REC O ILW E B .C O M

80 Tier 1 guys are running it’s very remi-

gunsmiths back then were Vietnam veter-

niscent of our M-4. Even the AK-74 that

ans and understandably hated the AK. I

most of their modern fighting guns are

realized if I wanted any work done on it, I

based on is chambered in the 5.45x39

would have to do it myself. So, I bought a

round. That caliber was their answer to

few and began learning them inside and

our 5.56 round … kind of a melding of

out. Fortunately they were cheap back

two schools of thought. Some of their

then, because I really screwed one up

new gas system designs are quite forward

learning what made them tick.

thinking and are becoming more complex

Then, in 2001, a friend from Poland

designs as well. The Russians are evolving

sent me some arsenal blueprints and

the AK design.

information from field trials conducted by the Polish government. After getting it

Did you ever have the chance to meet

translated I found it to be a treasure trove

Kalashnikov himself? Ever train, study, or

of info. It kinda filled in the holes from

visit in Russia or some other “AK place”

what I had learned from working on Chi-

overseas in the pursuit of your craft, or

Com and Hungarian guns, which were

did you stay largely CONUS and work at

mostly all that was around back then.

it yourself?  JF: No, sadly I didn’t get to meet him.

One of your goals has been to help

It was on my bucket list and will never be

further the “normalization of the AK” in

crossed off now. I did pursue the AK on

modern U.S. society. What do you mean

my own though. Back in the early ’80s

by that, and do you honestly believe it’ll

when I discovered the AK myself, nobody

ever happen? 

here would work on them. Most of the

JF: By normalization I mean a true U.S.


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AMERICAN AK spec, preferably something close to Rus-

have development budgets like the big

sian with improvements that bring the

guys so it will be awhile for us.

gun into the 21st century, while staying true to a design that made the Kalash-

Can you give us your take on the cur-

nikov the most dependable fighting rifle

rent direction of the firearms industry

ever. That’s really hard to do unless the

writ large? 

IS SU E

26

military sets standards that all will need

REC O ILW E B .C O M

82

JF: I really only pay close attention

to follow in some way, and I don’t see

to the AK community, which is small in

that happening anytime soon. There are

comparison industry wide, but rapidly

some companies trying to develop U.S.-

growing. Ten years ago when Karen

made parts; some are giving it honest

[Jim’s wife] and I started Rifle Dynam-

effort, but sadly most have followed a

ics, not only was there not much avail-

path of trying to cheap out the building

able for the AK, there was nowhere near

process. This has resulted in low-end

the current market for it. Over the years,

substandard guns that are failing regu-

that has changed. A lot of big-name trig-

larly. We’ve been working on our own

ger pullers are running AKs these days,

parts with some success, but we don’t

which certainly drives the market for

Rifle Dynamics (RD) was founded in 2007 with the express purpose of producing a line of “…fighting rifles anyone could count on.” The fighting part of it is significant. Fuller draws a distinction between guys who shoot and true riflemen. “We are shooters before gunsmiths,” he says. “There’s a difference between how a shooter and a gunsmith approaches the gun. We build guns that shooters want, not necessarily guns that gunsmiths like.” RD, which began in Jim Fuller’s garage, specializes in the Kalashnikov rifle. Its purpose is to help popularize the AK platform here in the United States, to take it to a place they believe it should have been a long time ago. Fuller says their philosophy is, “Let’s just all make the industry bigger and better. Let’s normalize the AK.” To that end they do more than sell RD rifles. They do their best to support all AK shooters, including providing tutorials on buying a budget AK for those who can’t afford one from RD, helping people watch for crooked trunnions and proper mag fit, for instance, and disseminating knowledge. RD began just building custom rifles, but as they grew more accustomed to the commonality of what people wanted they developed their own production guns. All the variants of the RD500 and RD700 series are the result of what they learned over the years, and feature the work Jim’s crew is probably best known for — their muzzle devices and gas blocks, and also their AK sights. Jim readily admits his rifles are in the higher price range, but there’s a reason for that, and they’ve addressed the need for something more affordable with such rifles as the RD-M. However, he’s no longer interested in trying to justify the cost. He says he’s, “…not trying to rip people off, just trying to give people the best gun he can for the money. Buy one, or don’t.” His own favorite, by the way, is either his own AKS 74URD or the AK105, which he describes as the “ultimate expression of the Kalashnikov design.” “Working on AKs is more like blacksmithing than gunsmithing,” Jim laughs, “but the design works. Buy Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Yugoslavian, Chinese, Egyptian, or another American gun, but get one that does what you need it to do.” www.rifledynamics.com


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AMERICAN AK His personal guns, from left to right: Finnish M39 Valmet 1942 on an 1895 Russian Mosin receiver 1955 Israeli FAL Prototype clone, 80-percent original 1954 Tula SKS Norinco NHM 91 de-banned 1981 Chinese Type 56 S-2 1952 Russian Type 2 AK-47 reweld Arsenal 556 AK modded to RD spec On the floor Left to right: RD DMR prototype AKS 74URD (Fuller’s favorite) 25

RD 502 Prototype IS SU E

RD 300 Black Out Prototype

REC O ILW E B .C O M

84

guns, accessories, and training. Innova-

liberal. I think the results were like,

tion is happening, a lot of decent parts

70/30 or so. Liberal beach commu-

and products are coming, more and

nity mindset and pro-gun conservative

more “made in USA” stuff is becoming

thought doesn’t mix well. It taught me a

available. Which makes me really happy

lot about politics and made me realize

as long as it’s a purposeful product and

that prostitution is likely a far more ethi-

not just sellout stuff. America was once

cal and moral way to make a living than

the world’s industry leader in many

holding public office.

things, but industry mindset got sidetracked into thinking “Make it cheaper

You’ve been married 32 years now.

so we can make a better profit” instead

How did you meet Mrs. Fuller? What

of the old-school mindset of “Make it

does she shoot? What advice would

better so it’s worth more.” One mindset

you give a young man who is about to

drives innovation; the other kills it.

propose to a young woman? 

You ran for office once, and said it didn’t

for a company I used to work for. After

go well. What was that all about? 

two failed marriages, when I met Karen

JF: Karen was a part-time bookkeeper

JF: I ran for city council in Redondo

I knew she was everything the others

Beach, California, in 1995 and was

weren’t, and I wasn’t going to let her get

beaten badly by a typical California

away. Make sure you and she both know

Rifle Dynamics may build COMBLOC weapons but they are all American. Says Fuller, “We live the old-school industrial mindset that once made the USA an industry giant.”

for sure what you’re looking for in a life partner and in a life together. Be prepared to put your ego away when necessary, and most of all, never give up on something because you think it’s broken. Try to find a way to fix it. Karen built and runs her own RD 502 and carries a Glock 19.


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AMERICAN AK

JIM

If you’re interested in more about the American AK Maestro, check RECOILweb.com for more about Jim Fuller and Rifle Dynamics.

FULLER AGE: 60 BORN & RAISED: California LIVES: Nevada WIFE: Karen, Married 32 Yrs SONS: James, Ian, & Matt FAVORITE BOOZE: Any good whiskey FAVORITE ALBUM/SONG: Five Finger Death Punch, Got Your Six

IS SU E

26

BACKGROUND:

REC O ILW E B .C O M

86

Spent most of his early years in the construction industry, but worked on the side in executive protection, bail enforcement and gunsmithing 1998 - 2003 Firearms instructor for Front Sight 2003-2009 Firearms instructor for Suarez International 2007 - Established Rifle Dynamics

JIM FULLER’S EVERYDAY CARRY AKS 74 Two Emerson Super 7s Glock 19 Gen 2 Glock 43 with light HSP/G-Code Holsters

What’s your typical everyday carry?  JF: A Glock 19, a Glock 43, two Em-

JF: In my opinion, the most important thing is if you are going to do anything

sure you understand the difference between those two markets.

erson Super 7s, and if I have a rifle with

that involves fighting guns, then be the

me, it’s my AKS 74URD.

absolute best you can make yourself

If you knew a fight was coming and you

be. If someone is counting on a gun you

had to pick a rifle other than a Kalash-

If a new/young gunsmith or entrepreneur

work on or build for self-defense, you

nikov or an AR platform of some kind,

came to you for advice today about

better take that seriously. If you’re not or

what would it be? If you just had to.

opening a shop or starting a business,

you can’t, then go make lower-tier guns

JF: If I just had to … the FAL or

what would you tell him?

and products for recreational use. Make

the M1A. I love the 7.62x51 cartridge.


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OM T S U C A G N BUILDI M A POLISH AKM FROIT PARTS K

CURTIS BY ROB S O T O H AND P STORY

m foreign come fro y e h T . by asts agical be rought on AKs are m mystery b in d e ht d u ig are shro g that m . One thin lands and re lo n a rb AK marws and u er of the rv e s import la b o l a casu munist ar to the ntic com be uncle uy authe b ’t n a c ctories. citizens munist fa ket, U.S. m o c t c ti en shelf, bu e in auth K off the A n AKs mad a y u b that enough to mponents It’s easy ported co im f o p esti a mash-u s o me dom it’s likely side with te ta ore s d l. le a emb it leg M were ass s to make rt a p ding d u re b ufactu s are il cally man companie e m o S s, r. laws late Good gun rts, too. on those a p e d a all U.S.-m guns with l. mmie sou but no co


IS SUE

26

FROM POLAND WITH LOVE

REC O ILW E B .C O M

90 We wanted the best performing AK intertwining our American heart with a

Gary Hughes helps out by test firing the newly built RECOIL Custom AKM.

AN AK IS NOT JUST AN AK In fact, the Soviets learned this

3 milled-steel receivers. By the mid ’50s, the Soviets finally

lesson the hard way. At the time

figured out the sheetmetal thing, per-

out the middleman and build our own

Mikhail Kalashnikov was dreaming up

haps with help of the captured German

AK from an imported parts kit.

the AK-47, he was likely looking at the

weapon designer Hugo Schmeisser,

COMBLOC soul, so we decided to cut

German sheetmetal masterpieces, the

the Kalashnikov of the StG 44. The

Mike Pappas from Dead Air Arma-

MP40 submachine gun, the MG42,

original AK went the way of the Apple

ment. The two are partners in a side

and the StG 44. The stamped-metal

Newton and was replaced by the iAK,

project called MOD Outfitters, an

construction of these firearms was a

otherwise known as the AKM (AK Mod-

outlet for their huge fascination with

departure from the milled manufactur-

ernized). The AKM was everything the

imported guns. And we mean huge;

ing methods of the day.

AK-47 should have been, incorporating

We linked up with Gary Hughes and

Pappas has his own BMP (see page

In those stamped guns, the Soviets

the accumulated features of the AK-47

40). Hughes just likes the AK platform

saw a way to equip their enormous army

platform with lighter and less expen-

for its elegance.

with easily manufactured, inexpensive,

sive riveted sheetmetal construction.

“The thing I like about AKs is that

accurate, and reliable assault rifles.

The AKM assumed the AK mantle

they are brutally simple,” says Hughes.

Turns out, the original AK-47 met only

and never looked back. Soviet allies

“It’s the assault rifle concept boiled

two of those four criteria and had is-

who adopted the AK retrofitted their

down to its essential ingredients.”

sues with durability and accuracy.

operations and began pumping out

If the AR-15 is a Lego set for

According to Frank Iannamico in

AKMs by the hundreds-of-thousands through the ’60s and ’70s.

grownups, we guess that makes the AK

AK-47: The Grim Reaper, the Commies

something like an Erector set. Where

gave up on the newfangled stamped

an AR clicks, bolts, and pins together,

metal Type 1 AK receiver and replaced

how Kalashnikov’s AK-47 resulted in the

building a reliable and accurate AK is

it with the more reliable and accurate

standard Polish AKM parts kit we have

more involved.

milled-steel Type 2 and later, the Type

before us for our building pleasure.

And that’s the abbreviated story of


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

We picked up an AKM receiver from Childers Guns. Childers developed a

We bought a Polish AKM parts kit

IS SUE REC O ILW E B .C O M

92

For all you AR guys who are too

from Arms of America. The kits include

following (and a wait list) by providing

ashamed to ask, a trunnion is a hefty

all the parts of a surplus Polish military

excellent quality receivers that mate up

union that supports the barrel (front

AKM, minus the receiver, which is

with Polish parts as if it were the original

trunnion) or the stock (rear trunnion)

crushed or torch cut during the demill-

murdered receiver’s unbloodied identical

in the receiver. Rivets are used to

ing process, and barrel. In place of

twin found in a Polish orphanage and

connect the trunnion and receiver.

the original barrel, AoA provides an

delivered to our doorstep. With only a

The trunion also imparts structure and

American-made, button-rifled bar-

couple of U.S. made parts in the mix.

rigidity to the stamped steel receiver.

rel they’ve populated with parts from

The best trunnions are forged from

SIDENOTE ON SCREWS VS. RIVETS

the original kit. This saves us a huge amount of time and hassle.

Screws suck. AKs can be built with

steel; cast trunnions are best used in prop guns and as paperweights. Our AKM kit came with forged trun-

screws in place of rivets, but a properly

nions, as do nearly all military surplus

installed rivet is much stronger. Screws

parts kits. The demilling process is

are faster and require fewer tools, but

a bit like a slaughterhouse for guns,

your rifle will look weird, Kalashinkov’s

though. Popping thousands of rivets

ghost will weep, and your rifle will fall

a day can get messy, and it’s not

apart one day just like the Soviet Union.

uncommon for a kit to arrive with a

And, no amount of Loctite could’ve kept

cracked trunnion. Ours did, and we

the USSR from falling apart.

were glad to have a spare on hand to

26

Mike Pappas figured out a method to confirm and reset the headspace using a set of feeler gauges. Once headspace is set, gauge the distance between the front trunnion and the sight block. When reinstalling the barrel in the trunnion later in the build process, insert the gauges, and they’ll act as a stop when the barrel reaches the previously recorded depth.

WTF IS A TRUNNION?

swap in.

BUILD PARTS LIST ARMS OF AMERICA

Polish AKM Parts Kit with 4150V Nitrided Barrel

$539

www.armsofamerica.com

CHILDERS GUNS

AK47 Receiver with Straight Selector Notches

$90

www.childersguns.com

AK BUILDER

AKM Fixed Stock Rivet Kit

$9

www.ak-builder.com

mitment. You get a single shot at

ALG DEFENSE

AKT Trigger

$49

www.algdefense.com

installing one, and the tools to work

TAPCO

Interfuse AK Slant Flash Hider

$10

www.tapco.com

with them aren’t common, either. Un-

AK BUILDER

Spare Rear Trunion

$30

www.ak-builder.com

less you’re as lucky as we are, you’re

CERAKOTE

Sniper Grey

$60/16 ounces

www.cerakoteguncoatings.com

not going to be able to pillage your

Here’s what we started with: a Polish AKM parts kit, a Childers Guns receiver, ALG Defense AKT trigger, and a Tapco muzzle device. The kit came with some auto parts that we tossed.

TOOL TIME Rivets are no joke. They’re a com-


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE

IS SU E

26

Tools of the trade. Clockwise from top left: AK Builder Riveting Jig and 7.62x39mm Headspace GO/NO GO Gauges (center), Robert Forbus Barrel Pin Tool, AK Builder AK Trunnion Rivet Hole Drilling Fixture, AK Builder Barrel Press Kit, Toth Tool and Engineering Rivet Jaws on Harbor Freight 24-inch Bolt Cutters, AK Builder AK47 Trigger Guard Rivet Jig.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

94 There aren’t many showstoppers on

TOOLS, JIGS & FIXTURES LIST HARBOR FREIGHT

20 Ton Hydraulic Press

$200

www.harborfreight.com

the AKM, but plus or minus a couple

CRAFTSMAN

12-inch Bench Top Drill Press

$150

www.craftsman.com

thousandths of headspace can result

TOTH TOOL AND ENGINEERING

Rivet Jaws for Bolt Cutters

$75

www.tothtool.com

a rifle which fires out of battery or

HARBOR FREIGHT

24-inch Bolt Cutters

$16

www.harborfreight.com

separates the heads from cases.

AK BUILDER

Riveting Jig

$250

www.ak-builder.com

AK BUILDER

AK47 Trigger Guard Rivet Jig

$65

www.ak-builder.com

rel and used a set of automotive feeler

AK BUILDER

AK Trunnion Rivet Hole Drilling Fixture

$73

www.ak-builder.com

gauges to record the gap between the

ROBERT FORBUS

Barrel Pin Tool

$55

www.robertforbus.com

front trunnion and the rear sight base.

AK BUILDER

Barrel Press Kit

$95

www.ak-builder.com

With the feeler gauges stacked in the

AK BUILDER

7.62 x 39mm Headspace GO/NO GO Gauges

$65

www.ak-builder.com

gap during reassembly, they act as a

AK BUILDER

5/32-inch (4mm) Drill Bit

$3

www.ak-builder.com

stop, ensuring the barrel is seated at

AK BUILDER

#16 (4.5mm) Drill Bit

$3

www.ak-builder.com

the same depth it was headspaced at.

COMMON TOOLS

Automotive Feeler Gauges, Dremel Rotary Tool, Cordless Drill, Hand File, Rubber Mallet

We checked our AK-Builder built bar-

The work begins with removing the partially installed barrel pin using

buddy’s shop for riveting tools and alignment fixtures.

BUILD Our kit came with a populated

the Forbus barrel pin tool guiding the hydraulic press’ ram. With the pin

We used specialized AK gunsmith-

barrel. We didn’t have to worry about

out, the barrel is pushed out using

ing tools from AK Builder, Toth Tools,

fitting the gas block and sight block,

the hydraulic ram with the trunnion

and Robert Forbus Engineering Works

or drilling/reaming the barrel pinhole.

supported by the AK Builder Barrel

in addition to a standing hydraulic

Even so, if there’s one thing, just one

Press fixture.

press as well as some common tools,

thing, that you take away from this

such as a drill press, rubber mallet,

article, it’s the importance of checking

barrel, it’s fixed in the AK Builder drill-

Dremel, and files.

the headspace.

ing fixture. We line up the rivet hole

Now that the trunnion is free of the


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE Deburring the rivet holes ensures the rivets seat properly for the strongest connection while also looking good.

in the trunnion with the bit and clamp the fixture in place, then we slide the

spacer. The four front and one rear

drilled and so long as nothing moves,

trigger guard rivets get the business.

the rivet hole in the receiver and the

The fit of the trigger guard can affect

trunnion are lined up for success. We

the magazine release, so carefully test

repeated the same process for the

the parts with many different types

remaining five front rivet holes.

of magazines. Some filing of the mag

with a drill and a Dremel, and dimple the two bottom holes into a match-

well is normal, but ours needed no attention. The rear trunnion is treated similarly

ing recess in the trunnion using the

as the front trunnion, except we have

press and the riveting jig. This is an

two long rivets instead of shorties.

important step that locks the receiver

Pappas suggests rounding over the end

and trunnion together when a swell-

of the long rivets so they come out of

neck rivet is installed. Some builders

mashing process with an aesthetically

mistakenly relieve material from the

pleasing mushroom shape.

receiver here to get the swell-neck

Drop the bolt in, and check the ejec-

rivet to sit flush. Doing so leaves

tor clearance. On an AKM, the ejector

only the rivet core to hold the parts

is just a protruding tang on the left bolt

in shear, and the rivet will eventually

guide rail. The bolt has a slot that runs

snap.

its length for the rail/ejector. As the

The six short front rivets are crushed into place using the Toth Tool rivet The AK Builder Riveting Jig properly supports and forms rivets for the front and rear trunnion and can dimple the AKM’s lower front trunnion holes painlessly.

The rivets in the recessed area of the AKM’s front trunnion are best reached with the Toth Tool and Engineering Rivet Jaws.

We move on to the trigger guard and

receiver into the trunnion. The hole is

We deburr and chase all the holes

Our AKM parts kit came with a cracked rear trunnion (aka buttstock tang), right. Because it’s not uncommon, we had a spare on hand and carried on without a hitch.

jaws mounted on a 24-inch bolt cutter.

Filing the ejector in the Childress AKM receiver. It’s part of the welded-in guide rail, and it’s usually left long and needs to be filed down to allow the bolt to pass over it.

bolt retracts, the brass hits the tang and gets chucked. Childers leaves the


LEARN TO LIVE READY AT REMINGTON HANDGUNS.COM

Proudly Made in the USA by American Workers


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE We mount the front trunnion in this AK Builder AK Trunnion Rivet Hole Drilling Fixture, slide it around a drill press table to line up the holes with the drill bit, lock it down, then slide the receiver on to drill a rivet hole. Reposition the fixture for each rivet hole.

rail tang long so it can be filed for a precise fit to the bolt. We were careful

guide spring, snap on the cover, and

to take material off from back to front

run the bolt carrier, feeling for bind-

since we want as much ejector contact

ing. There’s a little hitch as the bolt

at the business end as we can get.

slides from the guide rails to the front

Time for the barrel. We grease up the

and files down until the bolt travels

press and line things up. A penny pro-

smoothly … or as smoothly as we

tects the crown from the ram as thou-

think it should. It’s an AK, after all.

sands of pounds of pressure force the

26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

Proud papa in the shop with his assembled, but uncoated, Polish AKM.

After six hours in the shop, we

barrel into the trunnion. As it gets close,

take the AKM to the range and

we insert the feeler gauges we talked

run a few boxes of steel cased,

about earlier, taking the guesswork out

7.62x39mm, 122-grain Tulammo

of finding the stopping point. We pull

through it. Boom. First five rounds

the assembly, check the headspace,

and we’re dancing inches from steel

and drive the barrel pin in and, yep,

more than 200 meters out without

check headspace again. All good. Phew.

ever touching the sights. Not bad.

The handguard and gas tube are

It’s a good idea to keep a lot of different mags at hand to test-fit the magwell and mag catch on a newly assembled receiver.

trunnion. We chase it with a Dremel

barrel, put it in the AK Builder barrel

installed and we head for the fire

98

We install the piston, bolt, and

But, not done, either. As mean and hungry as the gun

controls. We rough fit the ALG Defense

looks in the raw, it deserves a finish.

AKT trigger kit then load it into the

We head over to meet Rodney Backus

receiver. Check the feel and, whoa,

at the Park City Gun Club. Backus

that ALG trigger is sweet. A lot lighter

Cerakotes gun parts in the back of the

than we expected.

upscale, indoor range.


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE

When people say “922R” they’re referencing U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 44, Section 922, Paragraph R with additional references to U.S. Code Title 27, Part 478.39. It applies to the assembly of rifles and shotguns from imported parts that would otherwise be banned from importation — you know, guns with evil features like detachable magazines and (gasp!) bayonet lugs.

IS SU E

26

Bakus let us try our hand with Cera-

REC O ILW E B .C O M

100

kote. Under his guidance we sandblast

ADJUST The AKM was mint. Spitting aces

enough of the gun to realize it’s worth

and looking sharp in its wood-toned

paying someone else to do it. At press

commie uniform. Just the way Hughes

time, we’ve still got some of that abra-

likes it. We know he’s a bit of a purist

sive medium stuck in our sinuses…

because he looked at us a little funny

We head out for lunch as Backus

when we talked about swapping the

stays to load the coated parts into

wood for some Magpul furniture and

his oven; but not before covering up

adding a railed gas tube.

all our sins with his far more skilled

Rodney Backus, with the Park City Gun Club, Cerakotes the barrel of our AKM. PCG’s fledgling Cerakote operation might be low volume, but it’s high quality.

His look communicated a clear mes-

hands, we surmise. When we see the

sage, “Don’t put that shit on that gun

AK next, he’s reassembled it for us,

here; I want to know that it was beauti-

and it’s glorious.

ful when it left.”

These sections of the U.S. Code provide instruction pertaining to the number of foreign manufactured parts allowed during assembly. The short story is that you are not allowed to use more than 10 imported parts. The longer story is that not all “parts” are considered parts, at least legally speaking. The government provides a list of 20 items that can be counted as parts on any given rifle or shotgun. Seeing as how this is a general list and not specific to an AK, not all parts on the list apply. Confused yet? You legally can assemble these guns, provided you have the requisite number of domestically manufactured parts. For this reason, the vernacular of 922R is “parts count.”

We get it. Once we get the bonestock Polish AKM home, our AR roots

Our AKM, finished in Sniper Grey Cerakote and wearing its original Polish furniture.

Your standard AK with a threaded barrel is made up of 16 of the 20 items listed. In order to remain legally compliant, six of those 16 parts will have to be replaced with domestically produced items. For this build we used an ALG Trigger (three parts: trigger, hammer, disconnector), barrel (one part), receiver (one part), muzzle device (one part). Of course, you can always add more than six, as seen in some configurations with Magpul furniture. Look on RecoilWeb for a longer piece on staying 922R compliant.


Diagnosis:

CANIS LATRANS Hunts in packs. Preys on livestock and pets. Known to attack humans.

fig.2

fig.1

Treatment:

TAKE YOUR SHOT ThermoSight RS

ThermoSight T70

fig.3

ThermoSight RS

ThermoSight T70

• Affordable Thermal Night Vision Scope

• MIL-Qualified Thermal Night Vision Scope

• Multiple Resolutions & Lens Options

• High Performance OLED Display

• Protective 3" Standard Eye Relief

• Lightweight Tactical Clip-On Design

• InstAlert Customizable Color Palettes

• Multiple Power Management Options

TM

TM

TM

GIVE THEM ONE AND CALL US IN THE MORNING.

www.flir.com/recoil


FROM POLAND WITH LOVE SOURCES Park City Gun Club: www.theparkcitygunclub.com

IS SU E

26

MOD Outfitters: www.modoutfitters.com

REC O ILW E B .C O M

102

RECOIL CUSTOM

The RECOIL Custom AKM ditches the original Polish AKM furniture and replaces it with modern parts from Magpul and Troy.

MOD OUTFITTERS AKOLLABORATION AKM CALIBER:

7.62x39mm BARREL LENGTH:

16 inches OVERALL LENGTH:

35.5 inches

won’t let us leave it be. Within days,

shoot. We posted respectable 1.75-inch

it’s wearing Magpul furniture and a

groups at 75 yards with the 122-grain

Troy Industries front end. Serendipity

Tulammo and an Aimpoint Micro T-1.

struck when it came to the sling; Blue

We attribute the surprising (to us) ac-

Force Gear had just made a run of its

curacy to a combination of the button

limited-edition AK slings in wolf gray

rifled barrel and a lot of care and atten-

that matches the gray Cerakote.

tion during the build process.

SHOOT

functions reliably, and feels great.

On balance, our AKM shoots well,

MAGAZINE CAPACITY:

30 rounds WEIGHT UNLOADED:

The only gripe we have with the

Replacing the stock buttstock with the

MSRP:

whole build is with the Troy lower rail

MOE AK improved the shoulder pocket

$1,150

— installation was mildly challenging,

fit without affecting the length of pull.

www.aimsurplus.com

and we found it loosened a bit even

The MOE+ grip fills the hand far better

FEATURED ACCESSORIES: Magpul MOE AK Stock Magpul MOE+ AK Grip Troy AK47 Rail, M-Lok, Bottom, Short Troy AK47 Rail, Top Blue Force Gear Limited Edition AK Sling Version 5 Aimpoint Micro T-1 w/LRP mount SureFire M300 Mini Scout Light Price as featured:

after applying blue Loctite to the jam

than a skinny stock AK grip, and the

bolts. Tightening those bolts through

Troy railed gas tube seems to be hold-

the M-Lok slots is a PIA, but once we

ing our low-mounted T-1 steadily in a

retightened it and applied a more seri-

lower fourth cowitness.

8.1 pounds

URL:

$60 $25 $125 $150

ous level of Loctite, we found it a solid $65 $800 $300 $1,150 + optic

and comfortable handguard. With the new furniture in place, we took the gun out to see how it would

We’re only 800-plus rounds into our relationship with this little Polish looker, but so far it’s a love affair that’s left our ARs wondering where we’ve been.


Experience it for yourself at

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can pass through 10 layers of concrete,

optimized for self-loading rifles. The case

the heart of a legendary weapon system

is highly tapered, contributing to easier

that never stops functioning whether

feeding and extraction, but also resulting

covered in mud or dipped in concrete.

in the extremely curved and very distinc-

Others seem to think that it’s the spawn

tive AK magazines known the world

of the devil, an overhyped, inaccurate,

over. The first Soviet military production

blooping mortar round that’ll turn you

7.62x39mm cartridge was designated the

into a Bernie-loving Communist just by

M43, spec’d out with a 123-grain steel

looking at it.

core and copper-plated boat tail bullet

Cut away all the hoopla and inter-

A GUIDE TO 7.62X39MM AMMO

IS SUE

26

BY STEVEN KUO

REC O ILW E B .C O M

104

net bravado, and you’ll find that the

along with a Berdan-primed steel case. Most of the domestically manufac-

7.62x39mm is a solid intermediate rifle

tured commercial ammo in this guide

round that’s proven to be very effective

use brass cases and Boxer primers,

for its intended purpose. As a fighting

while the former Eastern Bloc churns

cartridge with an appropriate projectile,

out pallet after pallet of steel-cased and

Many aspects of guns, ammunition,

it’s shown to deliver great penetration

Berdan-primed ammo. To help mitigate

accessories, and other related topics

and good terminal performance within

corrosion, steel cases and jackets feature

engender strong and passionate opin-

close to medium range. For sure, its

some sort of coating or treatment, such

ions — often outsized to any rational,

ballistics wouldn’t be your first choice

as lacquer, polymer, or zinc. We asked

objective assessment of the issues at

for long range, but as you’ll see in our

renowned AK builder Jim Fuller (see

hand. Take the 7.62x39mm round, for

testing, it’s not an inherently inaccurate

page 76) about steel cases. He said,

instance. Some people seem to think

round, as some may believe.

“AKs are designed for steel cases; they

that it’s the most amazing thing ever invented, a one-shot man stopper that

Designed at the tail end of World

run best. The AK’s extractor is wide and

War II, the 7.62x39mm cartridge was

designed to pull steel cases. The round


can take a beating in the action. Still, I

tion, some manufacturers don’t institute

don’t usually see problems with brass

list prices, so those with asterisks are

cases in 7.62x39mm AKs, though brass

estimated. There’s everything from

can get ripped up in 5.56mm AKs or

cheap FMJ hoser ammo to state-of-the-

This article focuses on commercial ammo, but many folks have stocked

out-of-spec chambers.”

art defensive ammo. In particular, take

up on imported surplus ammo. Supplies have dried up with importation

note that we achieved some impressive

having been halted, but you may still have opportunities to purchase

the standard here in the states — the

accuracy with a cartridge that many

surplus ammo. They’re typically steel cased with corrosive Berdan

primer has a cup and anvil, while the

believe is inherently inaccurate. That’s

primers. Corrosive primers contain chemicals that leave salts behind

pocket in the case has one hole in the

not the case, as shown by sub-MOA and

after being ignited. Salt attracts water, and anyone who’s spent any

center, making it easy to reload. Berdan

MOA groups from some offerings — as

time near the ocean can tell you what saltwater does to metals.

primers don’t incorporate an anvil; it’s

well as some surprisingly good results

in the case instead with two flash holes.

from some cheap imported ammo.

Therefore, if you use ammo with corrosive primers, you need to be

The difficulty of removing Berdan prim-

Please check out the sidebar on testing

diligent about cleaning your weapon after sending rounds downrange

ers and lack of support in the reloading

procedures and keep in mind that the

— how soon afterward depends on your climate. In extremely humid

marketplace makes reloading them much

accuracy results shown here are from our

conditions, corrosion has been known to start right after a range

more challenging — most U.S. shooters

particular test rig, and your mileage may

session. In very dry areas, you’ll have more leeway. In either case, salts

don’t seem to bother trying.

vary. Even so, our group sizes ranged

from corrosive primers can scatter throughout your weapon, so you need

from 0.87 MOA at the very best to 3.86

to be thorough. Normal cleaning regimens aren’t always sufficient.

Regarding primers: Boxer primers are

Without further ado, please peruse the following pages highlighting 20 different

MOA at very worst. Average group size

7.62x39mm loads. To see how three

went from 1.09 to 2.62 MOA. And the

In fact, hot soapy water is a very effective cleaning method, readily

additional 7.62 loads performed, go to

smallest group size for each product

removing the salts. Of course, water is a source of corrosion itself,

www.recoilweb.com/762guide. Please

went from 0.87 to 2.23 MOA. Pretty

so carefully dry and lubricate your gun afterward. Compressed air is

note that MSRPs are shown, but street

damn good for a so-called inaccurate

convenient; some like to spray WD-40 or similar.

pricing is often much lower. In addi-

Commie round. Who knew?

Muzzle velocity is affected by environmental conditions, so we did all our chronograph work in a single session. Monitoring weather conditions with a Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter, the temperature rose from 78 to 80 degrees from the beginning to the end of the session. Humidity stayed constant at 39 percent, We strived to do as much fair and consistent testing as possible

barometric pressure was 27.43 in-hg, and our elevation was

within the amount of ammo and time we had available. For one

2,374 feet. We used a MagnetoSpeed V3 ballistic chronograph,

product, we only had a single 20-round box to provide for both

which was awesome. With 23 loads to test, we had a lot of

the chronograph and accuracy testing. To be consistent across

work to do while trying to minimize weather changes. We

all the products in this guide, we settled on five rounds for the

strapped the MagnetoSpeed to the barrel, plugged in the

chronograph and three five-shot groups (reporting the best,

control unit, and it reliably captured every single shot, writing

worst, and average maximum spread center-to-center).

the data to an SD card. It’s so convenient we could have easily done accuracy testing at the same time, but with it attached

Before even hitting the range, we weighed 10 rounds from

directly to the barrel we wanted totally clean results for the

the same box of each product on a Mettler laboratory scale. It

groups. As with the weights, we present all the statistics for

was recently calibrated and is accurate to one hundredth of a

you to assess the relative consistency.

gram. We present the average, minimum, maximum, standard deviation, and extreme spread of these measurements to give

For accuracy testing, we broke out a CZ 527 bolt-action rifle.

you a sense of the consistency. We also note in the product

Featuring a micro-Mauser action, it’s available in a variety

specs which bullets attract a magnet due to steel in their

of configurations and calibers, including a 7.62x39mm

jackets — some ranges and competitions prohibit use of

magazine-fed carbine with an 18.5-inch 1:9.5 cold hammer

such bullets.

forged barrel that we used. The CZ also has a single set


WHO KNEW?

During the accuracy sessions, we again monitored

7.62x39 chambers are ideal for shooting steel-

environmental conditions with the Kestrel. The

cased surplus ammo. Designed to shoot 0.311

temperature varied from 64 to 70 degrees, humidity

bullets, some American brass ammo may not

trigger, which essentially became a hair trigger

from 61 to 69 percent, and barometric pressure

perform as well as the imported steel-cased

once set. We made use of that and topped the

from 27.53 to 27.58 in-hg. Winds ranged from

variety because of SAAMI brass dimensions

gun with a Nightforce Competition 15-55x52mm

around 1 to 5 mph at half to three-quarters value.

and varying bullet diameters.” Indeed, some

monster of a scope. To make it easy to measure

Kestrels have a sterling reputation as weather

of the imported steel-cased ammo did much

distances through the reticle, we ran it at 40x.

meters, and the 5700 Elite adds to that with built-in

better than we would have expected, and some

ballistics and Bluetooth. We look forward to shaking

domestic ammo did worse. Please keep in mind

out these new features in more depth.

that the accuracy results shown in this article

CONTINUED

We shot from a concrete bench at targets at 100

are from this particular rifle. As you know,

meters (109 yards), utilizing Bullseye Camera Systems’ AmmoCam Long Range Edition to keep

Readers should note that CZ states the

ammo will perform differently from rifle to rifle,

eyes on the targets. At that distance, we were

following: “Built to CIP specifications, our

so take these results for what they are.

hardly stretching its transmission capabilities, but it worked perfectly. Placed downrange, a plastic ammo can houses the camera, transmitter, and battery pack. Back at the shooter’s position, a receiver/wireless access point with another battery pack allows you to connect with an iPad or other

IS SU E

26

device and view the targets. The app allows you to

REC O ILW E B .C O M

106

save shot sequences, highlighting a new impact by switching before and after images. This was a cool feature, but it takes time and with the huge amount of shooting facing us we abandoned that idea and just used the camera to observe. The battery life is rated at 12 hours — sure enough after six-hour range sessions, the status lights showed 50 percent. WEIGHT WEIGH (GRAMS)

MUZZLE VELOCITY (FEET/SECOND)

GROUP SIZE MAX SPREAD CTC (MOA)

AVG

MIN

MAX

STD DEV

ES

AVG

MIN

MAX

STD DEV

ES

MIN

MAX

AVG

BEAR AMMUNITION COMPANY: BROWN BEAR

16.31

16.19

16.37

0.06

0.18

2,449

2,434

2,469

12.9

35

1.27

1.68

1.47

BEAR AMMUNITION COMPANY: SILVER BEAR

16.31

16.23

16.39

0.04

0.16

2,463

2,439

2,475

14.6

36

1.62

1.85

1.74

CORBON: DPX RIFLE

17.93

17.71

18.24

0.15

0.53

2,358

2,342

2,378

15.7

36

1.39

3.86

2.62

DOUBLE TAP: BARNES TSX

17.71

17.63

17.78

0.04

0.15

2,067

2,042

2,084

15.6

42

1.78

2.20

1.97

DOUBLE TAP: JSP

19.38

19.28

19.51

0.06

0.23

1,969

1,945

1,990

16.6

45

1.02

1.26

1.13

FEDERAL: FUSION

17.51

17.43

17.56

0.05

0.13

2,432

2,418

2,454

13.4

36

1.92

2.54

2.13

FEDERAL: POWER-SHOK

17.49

17.44

17.55

0.03

0.11

2,357

2,340

2,372

13.6

32

0.87

1.90

1.36

G2 RESEARCH: TRIDENT

17.65

17.57

17.82

0.08

0.25

2,457

2,442

2,472

13.5

30

1.11

2.13

1.53

HORNADY: 8078 (SST)

16.13

16.07

16.16

0.03

0.09

2,351

2,329

2,371

17.3

42

1.32

1.38

1.34 2.15

PMC: BRONZE

17.60

17.54

17.65

0.04

0.11

2,248

2,224

2,276

21.5

52

1.19

2.58

PRVI PARTIZAN: FMJ

17.48

17.39

17.53

0.04

0.14

2,555

2,541

2,563

9.1

22

2.16

3.14

2.55

PRVI PARTIZAN: PSP

17.54

17.45

17.63

0.06

0.18

2,521

2,503

2,537

13.0

34

1.37

2.56

1.96

RED ARMY STANDARD: FMJ

16.29

16.19

16.41

0.07

0.22

2,413

2,391

2,430

16.9

39

1.80

2.87

2.19

RED ARMY STANDARD: HP

16.35

16.19

16.54

0.11

0.35

2,432

2,406

2,466

25.9

60

1.67

2.54

2.17

SELLIER & BELLOT V332242U (FMJ)

17.16

17.03

17.21

0.05

0.18

2,347

2,321

2,391

27.9

70

1.03

1.14

1.09

TULAMMO: UL076240 (FMJ)

16.31

16.22

16.43

0.06

0.21

2,431

2,413

2,459

21.1

46

1.97

2.08

2.03

ULYANOVSK CARTRIDGE WORKS: FMJ

16.36

16.22

16.45

0.08

0.23

2,477

2,435

2,543

41.8

108

2.23

2.78

2.55

WINCHESTER: SUPER-X

17.89

17.79

17.94

0.04

0.15

2,375

2,360

2,393

13.4

33

1.30

2.59

2.09

WOLF PERFORMANCE AMMUNITION: POLYFORMANCE FMJ

16.30

16.21

16.37

0.06

0.16

2,446

2,426

2,476

20.4

50

1.74

2.38

2.07

WOLF PERFORMANCE AMMUNITION: POLYFORMANCE HP

16.24

16.19

16.31

0.04

0.12

2,439

2,421

2,448

11.3

27

1.88

3.19

2.56


WHO KNEW?

BEAR AMMUNITION COMPANY

IS SU E

26

BROWN BEAR

REC O ILW E B .C O M

108

BEAR AMMUNITION COMPANY

SILVER BEAR

CORBON

DPX RIFLE

DOUBLE TAP

BARNES TSX

DOUBLE TAP

JSP

BULLET (MAGNET?):

BULLET (MAGNET?):

BULLET (MAGNET?):

BULLET (MAGNET?):

BULLET (MAGNET?):

123-grain HP (yes)

123-grain HP (yes)

123-grain lead-free solid copper (no)

123-grain Barnes TSX (no)

150-grain Speer JSP (no)

CASE:

CASE:

CASE:

CASE:

CASE:

Steel (polymer coated)

Steel (Zinc plated)

Brass

Brass

Brass

PRIMER:

PRIMER:

PRIMER:

PRIMER:

PRIMER:

Berdan (non-corrosive)

Berdan (non-corrosive)

Boxer

Boxer

Boxer

ORIGIN:

ORIGIN:

ORIGIN:

ORIGIN:

ORIGIN:

Russia

Russia

USA

USA

USA

OVERALL LENGTH:

OVERALL LENGTH:

OVERALL LENGTH:

OVERALL LENGTH:

OVERALL LENGTH:

2.181 inches

2.178 inches

2.178 inches

2.182 inches

2.176 inches

MSRP / PRICE PER ROUND:

MSRP / PRICE PER ROUND:

MSRP / PRICE PER ROUND:

MSRP / PRICE PER ROUND:

MSRP / PRICE PER ROUND:

$7.60 (20 rounds) / $0.38

$8.72 (20 rounds) / $0.44

$42.92 (20 rounds) / $2.15

$39.95 (20 rounds) / $2

$32.95 (20 rounds) / $1.65

URL:

URL:

URL:

URL:

URL:

www.bearammo.com

www.bearammo.com

www.corbon.com

www.doubletapammo.net

www.doubletapammo.net

NOTES: Through the Bear Ammunition Company, Barnaul offers a family of products with the “Bear” moniker — Brown Bear, Silver Bear, and Golden Bear. The Barnaul Cartridge Plant has a long and storied history dating back to Emperor Alexander II in the 19th century. It was one of the first cartridge plants in St. Petersburg, supplying products to the Russian Army during World War I. With the German siege on the city during the following world war, the plant was moved to Barnaul and produced about half of Russia’s ammo during the war. And they’ve kept going ever since. Brown Bear ammo is steel-cased and polymer-coated. It performed well in our testing, displaying excellent consistency on the chronograph (though average on weight) and surprisingly good accuracy in the CZ 527, at a very economical price. Its 1.27 to 1.68 MOA groups were the smallest of the imported steel-case offerings by a good margin.

NOTES: The next step up from Brown Bear, Silver Bear ammo has zinc-coated steel cases. In turn, Golden Bear (not tested) features brass-plated steel cases. In our testing, Silver Bear didn’t group quite as well as its little brother (with its smallest at 1.62 MOA), but was very consistent on weight. Muzzle velocity consistency was above average. It was also a pretty hot round, with an average muzzle velocity of 2,463 fps.

NOTES: Corbon’s a family owned business known for its defensive loads. Hailing from South Dakota, they’ve been making ammo for over 30 years. The DPX bullet is designed to perform well after penetrating a heavy barrier, maintaining 100 percent of its weight due to its homogeneous solid copper construction. Yet while it punches through hard barriers, Corbon states that it only penetrates 11 to 18 inches in ballistic gelatin, ideal for tactical applications. Its best group out of our CZ 527 was good at 1.39 MOA, but the average opened up to among the largest in this article. Consistency on the chrono was good, but on the lab scale was the least. We should note that Jim Fuller cited Corbon as one of his favorite loads for performance and accuracy in his builds.

NOTES: Doubletap Ammunition has been manufacturing ammo since 2002 and is known for producing a wide variety of loads and calibers. Indeed, they sent us three varieties to test (two shown here). Barnes TSX is one of our favorite hunting bullets, delivering deadly results with its all-copper construction. However, it may have also suffered a bit from the CZ’s chambering (see testing sidebar), with accuracy that was just average in our testing; the smallest group was 1.78 MOA. Consistency on the scale was good and on the chronograph above average. It was also the slowest 123-grain load, at 2,067 fps.

NOTES: Our CZ 527 really liked Doubletap’s heavy 150-grain Speer jacketed soft points. Designed primarily as a hunting load, this round posted excellent accuracy and consistent group sizes, hovering just a bit over 1 MOA. Its smallest group was the second best in this guide. The 150s were less consistent on weight and muzzle velocity, but you can’t argue with the superb results.


THE 74â&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NOT DEAD. AND WE CAN PROVE IT...

STORY BY TOM MARSHALL PHOTOS BY CHRIS HEISING


There’s little question that the last

we tried out two 74-style rifles and

from 7.62x51mm to 5.56x45mm. The

two years have given rise to a massive

some pretty cool accessories.

motherland may have had no desire for such evolution (because, in Soviet

expansion of the AK consumer market in America. Domestic companies, many of whom made their names on

THE REST OF THE STORY The “original” AK was produced

Russia, the rifle evolves you!), but some quantity of 5.56mm rounds were

the back of the black rifle, are now

in the ubiquitous 7.62x39mm, itself

captured during Vietnam and sent back

neck-deep in Kalashnikov accessories.

a bastardization of the 7.92mm Kurz

across the Iron Curtain. This, at least in

Everything from handguards and butt-

introduced to the Eastern Bloc by the

part, gave rise to the 5.45x39mm and

stocks to triggers and optics are now

Vermacht. This was the only AK cham-

the AK-74 that fires it.

being made in the USA for Russia’s

bering worldwide, from the late ’40s

chief non-vodka export. Several com-

until the AK-74 was released in (you

introduction of AK variants to the

panies are producing full AK rifles with

guessed it) 1974. Why the sudden

American consumer. The 7.62x39mm

100-percent American parts. Let’s all

change after nearly three decades?

has always been the more prevalent

United States was experiencing a flurry

5.45mm to a somewhat cult following

26

time and appreciate the irony …

IS SUE

just read that last sentence one more

Fast-forward some to the eventual

On the other side of the planet, the

of the two red cartridges, leaving in the commercial market. The smaller

from the M1 to the M14 to the M16 in

round offers a couple of noteworthy

family Kalashnikov has been left be-

half that span — about 15 years that,

advantages to its bigger, older brother:

hind in this collective embrace of the

in military procurement, might as well

it’s lighter-recoiling, flatter-shooting,

American AK revolution: the AK-74.

be time travel. The rise of close-range,

and farther-reaching. And, for a long

But we think times are changing for

low-intensity conflict precipitated a shift

time, 5.45 ammo was significantly

this little brother of the iconic “peas-

toward lighter, hyper-velocity cartridges.

cheaper than just about any other

ant’s rifle.” In order to make our case,

Hence the USA, and then NATO, shift

mainstream rifle round out there.

It is, however, an unfortunate truth

117 REC O ILW E B .C O M

of service rifle development. We went

that one member of the immigrant


IS SU E

26

THAT OTHER AK

REC O ILW E B .C O M

118 Soviet military surplus ammo practically washed up on our shores by the container load, and we remember

With or without a truckload of accessories, AK guts are robust and just about foolproof.

SO NOW WHAT? There are still a couple of compa-

THE GOOD STUFF We got our grubby meat hooks on a

nies supporting the ’74, and a few

pair of 5.45mm guns. The first is an

more jumping on the bandwagon.

Arsenal SGL-104. Arsenal has long been

could be had for $100 and the change

The biggest new headliner is Mag-

held in high regard as a premium import-

in your cupholder.

when a spam can of 1,080 rounds

pul, which announced the release of

er/converter of gen-u-wine Rooshan AKs.

Then 2014 happened. Said surplus

5.45mm magazines at SHOT 2016.

They’re often touted as the best there is,

ammo, known as 7n6, was “reviewed”

Unfortunately, full production is still

and particularly popular with purists who

by the ATF and “determined” to be

far enough off that we couldn’t get test

insist on guns of true Russian pedigree.

armor piercing due to its mild steel core.

samples. Century Arms is also import-

This particular SGL comes to us courtesy

Importation was immediately banned

ing non-AP 5.45mm ammo under their

of Atlantic Firearms. If you’re shopping

partly because a 5.45 AK pistol, which

Red Army Standard brand. Speaking

for an AK and you’ve never heard of

none of us have seen in the flesh, was

of ammo, what’s left of the 7n6 is cur-

Atlantic Firearms, come out into the sun-

approved for import in 2011. You might

rently about 20 cents a round. Wolf,

shine and breathe some fresh air. Then

remember that they tried a similar stunt

Silver Bear, and Red Army are about

get on their website and browse their AK

with M855 green tip, which was shut

a quarter a shot, plus or minus. At

buffet for your “people’s rifle” of choice.

down by the handful of politicians who

those prices it’s still competitive with

They carry most of the popular brands

do their effing jobs. Unfortunately, no

both 7.62x39mm and .223/5.56mm.

at a variety of budget levels and we can

retroactive courtesy was extended to the

Hornady also does limited runs of

almost guarantee they have the particular

5.45. Some folks spent their life savings

5.45mm utilizing their 60-grain V-Max

AK you’ve been looking for.

to buy vaults full of 7n6. The majority

round. This is premium ammunition,

dropped the AK-74 like a hot potato and

and priced accordingly, but it’s great

Petronov Armament, a boutique

what little aftermarket support there was

SHTF ammo if you can fill two or three

builder near our stomping grounds in

stagnated or vanished until recently.

mags and leave them in your go-bag.

Arizona. These are parts guns on U.S.

Our other ’74 comes by way of


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THAT OTHER AK receivers, beautifully finished with

test gun popped the Lyman gauge at

KG Gun Cote. They are built largely to

an average of 7½ pounds, with little

order, on customer spec. The HMFIC

stacking and negligible over-travel.

over there, Anthony, was super cool

Petronov Armament currently uses

to deal with and takes his customer

Tapco units in all of their builds. While

service seriously. Since we can’t leave

recently eclipsed by the ALG trigger

well enough alone, we had him deck

— itself facing stiff competition as of

this one out with the highest of high

late — the Tapco G2 trigger has been

speed, in deliberate contrast to the

a mainstay of the AK aftermarket for

traditional Kalash layout. As a team,

as long as we can remember. While

we’re split between the purist and

it’s no miracle out of the box, a savvy

tactical parties. This particular author

smith can do wonders with it. Petronov

doesn’t care about roll marks or prov-

is no exception — the trigger on their

enance so long as it can run hard, run

sample gun broke at a surprisingly uni-

fast, and ruin a bad guy’s day. Mods to

form 3 pounds, 5 ounces, with a small

this gun as follows:

slice of take-up and zero over-travel. It

Colorado Shooting Sports’ AK

stacked a little under the gauge, but

“Lightning Bolt” (a bolt carrier with

on the range we had smooth pull-

ambi charging handles and modified

through with a rolling break reminis-

top cover to match)

cent of some three-gun triggers.

IS SU E

26

Petronov Armament custom charg-

REC O ILW E B .C O M

120

We let multiple shooters run these

ing handles

guns with a combo of the Red Army

Attero Arms optics mount (red dot

Standard FMJ, Hornady V-Max, plus a

direct-mount that replaces the rear

couple of boxes of Tiger Imports just for

sight leaf while still providing co-

good measure. If you’ve shot a 47 and

witness with a built-in notch-style

never a 74, go find one and put some

rear sight)

rounds through it. While the 7.62x39

Krebs Custom safety lever

doesn’t have a particularly punishing re-

Burris FastFire III 3 MOA reflex sight

coil, the 5.45 is a stark contrast. Run-

VLTOR stock tube with QD mounts

ning the Arsenal’s iron sights at about a

Echo93 sling and light mount with

shot a second gave us a group the size

Inforce WML

of a grapefruit at 50 yards, right around

Full complement of Magpul furniture

the A on an IPSC silhouette. The SLR

The bone-stock Arsenal 104 weighed

seemed to pull right a little bit if you

in at 7.42 pounds, which is just about

tried to run your trigger finger at the

my perfect weight for any rifle. The

cyclic rate; having said that, the 5.45

Petronov, accessorized well enough to

is an impressively smooth shooting car-

give any mall ninja tight pants, clocked

tridge with a short, sweet nudge that’s

in at 8.84 pounds. This is about a half-

mostly straight to the rear.

pound heavier than I’d hoped for, but

Our 8-pound-plus Petronov fran-

there’s no breaking the laws of physics

kengun recoiled like a rimfire. Among

and, honestly, it was hard to feel the

the little bit of extra weight, the inline

difference on the firing line.

AR stock, and the vertical foregrip (slant-chopped for us by Echo93),

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE Speaking of triggers, (we were,

this gun seemed to weld itself to the shoulder pocket. The dot on our

weren’t we?) let’s talk about those for

FastFire twitched a little, but never

a minute. Arsenal’s factory triggers

came off target. It didn’t matter if we

are definitely some of the better stock

were shooting two rounds or 20. We

units in the AK marketplace. Our

couldn’t fire fast enough to get this


THAT OTHER AK good and hot, then chambered a round

back. If anything, it seemed to vibrate

of Red Army Standard. Something just

more than kick. Group size was cut

didn’t feel quite right when the round

popular as its bigger brother. If you

down by about a third with the help of

seated, so we ran the bolt again and

choose to walk the path of the AK-74,

the FastFire’s 3MOA dot.

out came a case and spray of powder

you’ll likely be scrounging for parts

grains. The bullet had separated and

and accessories. But a quality 74 build

The only malfunction was a stuck

was lodged in the chamber, which

also has enough speed and accuracy

case in the Petronov rifle. As much

may have resulted from a lacquer

to give most entry-level ARs a run for

as we love V-Max bullets, the Hor-

buildup, or it could have been that this

their money, with the level of simplicity

nady 5.45 ammo we had on hand is

particular bullet was seated too long

and resilience inherent to the Kalash-

lacquered (note that current produc-

in its case, jamming it into the lands.

nikov OS. Whether you want to raise

tion is polymer-coated), which may

A cleaning rod and a few taps from

eyebrows at a local match or drop bad

have contributed to the stoppage we

a mallet freed said slug and the gun

guys who mean you harm, we think the

subsequently encountered. We ran a

ran fine afterward. We don’t count it

AK-74 is a rifle you can, and should,

few mags of this ammo, got the gun

against magazine or rifle.

get behind.

Both guns fed and fired like champs.

The 5.45x39mm will never be as

ARSENAL

SLR 104-31

URL

www.arsenalinc.com

IS SU E

26

SPEC SPE EC BOX

RAISING THE DEAD

gun to do anything but pop straight

CALIBER

5.45x39mm

122

BARREL LENGTH

REC O ILW E B .C O M

16.25 inches OVERALL LENGTH

36.875 inches WEIGHT (UNLOADED)

7.3 pounds MAGAZINE CAPACITY

SPEC CB BOX

30 rounds

MSRP

$ $1,099

PETRONOV ARMS

AK-74

URL

www.petronovarmament.com

ACCESSORIES

Magpul MOE AK Handguard . . . . . . . . . Magpul MOE AK+ Grip . . . . . . . . . . . . . Magpul MOE Stock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Magpul RVG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VLTOR RE-47 Receiver Extension . . . . . Echo93 Seatbelt Sling . . . . . . . . . . . . . Echo93 Mk65 Light Mount . . . . . . . . . . Inforce WML . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attero Arms Optic Mount . . . . . . . . . . . . Burris FastFire III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Colorado Shooting Sports Lightning Bolt .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. $37 . $25 . $40 . $25 . $90 . $35 . $50 $130 . $75 $299 $289

CALIBER

5.45x39mm BARREL LENGTH

16.25 inches OVERALL LENGTH

36.875 inches WEIGHT (UNLOADED)

7.3 pounds (8.8 pounds as featured) MAGAZINE CAPACITY

30 rounds

MSRP

$ $899 PRICE AS FEATURED

$ $1,995


26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

124

ALLIANCE PDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S RANGE ALLOWS CITIZENS TO TRAIN LIKE THE MEN IN BLUE STORY BY CHRIS HERNANDEZ PHOTOS BY TAYLOR ELIZABETH PHOTOGRAPHY

ALLIES

IN ARMS


ALLIES IN ARMS One wouldn’t expect to find one of America’s best police training facilities in a tiny town of 22,000, serving a police department of 40 officers. One also might be surprised to learn this training facility consists of not just a pistol range, but also a 330yard rifle range, a huge live-fire shoot house, demolitions range, facilities for quick-mounting real doors onto dedicated frames for breaching, a to-spec simulated airliner fuselage, and even space for a helicopter LZ. One might not know that some of the world’s best tactical trainers make frequent use of this amazing facility in this otherwiseunknown town. And one might be shocked — as we were — to discover this police training facility is also open

26

to private civilians.

IS SU E

Welcome to the Alliance, Ohio, police

REC O ILW E B .C O M

126

Some of the world’s best tactical trainers make frequent use of this amazing facility in this otherwiseunknown town.

surprising thing about the facility,

other police ranges for many reasons,

which is worth an estimated $1.7

all of them good. We recently spent a

million, is that it was built with, and

week there attending Alliance Police

operates on, zero tax dollars. The

Department’s Explosive Breaching

facility was originally funded by private

Class, and found ourselves impressed

donations, and is kept afloat by stu-

with everything about the place. And

dent tuition and commercial sponsors.

it’s not just a police range — industry

We’d never been to a police range with

heavy hitters EAG, Sentinel Concepts,

advertising banners hanging off the

and LMS Defense all teach classes in

shoot house, but they’re part of the

Alliance. Cars can be shot on Alliance’s

landscape in Alliance. We’re not aware

range, so Will Petty teaches occa-

of any other police range in the country

sional vehicle CQB classes there. John

that costs nothing to local taxpayers.

“Sheriff of Baghdad” McPhee will soon

And it’s worth noting that Alliance’s

start teaching classes there. Basically,

range actually does the opposite of

Alliance Police Department operates a

pulling money from citizens’ pockets.

tactical training dream come true.

Every year, hundreds of students come

[Editor’s Note: EAG Tactical suffered

We’re not aware of any other police range in the country that costs nothing to local taxpayers.

From a cop’s perspective, the most

training facility. It stands out among

to Alliance from all over the country

the loss of Pat Rogers, its founder, this

and the world. Those students eat at

past May. Rogers stood as a legend in

local restaurants, shop at local stores,

the firearms training industry. He taught

and rent local hotel rooms. One hotel

shooters under the banner of his own

has rented over 600 rooms to students

company for 27 years, drawing on his

this year alone, contributing $7,800 in

experience in law enforcement and the

hotel taxes back to the city of Alliance.

Marine Corps. We’ve heard the instructor

As Officer Joe Weyer, head of train-

cadre will carry the EAG Tactical name

ing for Alliance PD, puts it, “Alliance

forward, continuing the mission to train

is cheap to stay in, cheap to eat in,

gunfighters and honoring Rogers’ legacy.]

cheap to fly to, and cheap to train in.”


IS SU E

26

ALLIES IN ARMS

REC O ILW E B .C O M

128

That low cost is a huge draw to those looking for good training, and a big boost to the local economy. And while taxpayers don’t have to fund the facility, they’re welcome to train there. Alliance PD teaches six courses, four of which (combative carbine, combative shotgun, defensive pistol, and low-light pistol) are open to private citizens with concealed carry permits from any state. EAG Tactical, Sentinel Concepts, and LMS Defense

ance, and he’s had hundreds more in his

all teach classes at Alliance’s range,

private concealed carry permit classes.

and almost all their classes are open

As you’d probably expect, the civilian

enrollment. Every class taught by EAG is offered in Alliance, as is every Sentinel Concepts class. Alliance PD is a good counter to the

Alliance PD is a good counter to the “police are at war against the citizens” argument.

students who come to Alliance tend to be training junkies with money, gear, and time to train. The guy who open carries a Hi-Point in a non-retention crossdraw

“police are at war against the citizens”

holster probably doesn’t have much

argument. Weyer told us hundreds of

interest in what Alliance offers. But if he

non-military, non-law-enforcement stu-

ever develops interest, Alliance PD will

dents have come through courses at Alli-

welcome him to a class with open arms.


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ALLIES IN ARMS Military units, on the other hand, are very interested. Several have

engage moving targets inside (or out-

trained in Alliance, and one Air Force

side on the pistol and rifle ranges).

26

unit uses the facility for a full week

IS SU E

with target stands allow students to

For those not looking for live fire

every year. The facility is attractive to

training, or working their way up to

the military because it has a Class 5

it, Alliance keeps a UTM force-on-

weapons vault with alarm, no noise

force package on hand. The package

or laser restrictions, and a range

consists of 26 rifle bolts, six Glock

big enough to land a helicopter. The

slides, six M&P slides, 10,000 UTM

shoot house is pretty enticing as well;

rounds, and all required personal

it’s 8,100 square feet, divided into

protective equipment. UTM rounds

multiple rooms and hallways, rated

for classes can be purchased from

for calibers up to 7.62x51, has BTI

Alliance PD on site, at dealer cost.

breaching doors, and contains frames

Students also have access to a limited

for quick-mount drywall so teams can

number of loaner helmets, plate car-

practice explosively porting walls to

riers, and plates if they don’t have

quickly get muzzles into rooms. It

their own. Other benefits for students

also boasts a catwalk, 16 surveillance

include 20-percent discounts on Team

cameras with live feeds, and FLIR for

Wendy helmets, 40-percent discounts

recording nighttime training. LMS of-

on Vertx gear, and on-request support

fers a low-light course, part of which

from CamelBak.

is live fire with night vision in the shoot house. Remote-control robots

But what’s even cooler than discount gear is Alliance PD’s network of

Joe Weyer, head of training in Alliance, served as a Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment before entering law enforcement in 1996. After becoming a cop, he realized that police training nationwide was often stagnant and obsolete, especially in small agencies with limited training budgets. “Tactics passed down from one decade to the next within one small organization can’t keep up with the rest of the tactical

130

community,” he said. “We started hosting training so we could bring in

REC O ILW E B .C O M

outside experience, ideas, and gear. We wanted to avoid the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mentality.” Joe discovered he had tapped into a training gold mine for his officers. “Hosting classes gives our officers training we could never afford otherwise. And we’re not just sending an officer to one class every once in a while. Going to a class one time doesn’t make you a subject matter expert. Each time we host a class, even if it’s the same class we’ve taken before, we gain valuable new information and training. If someone says, ‘I already took that class,’ I ask, ‘Are you prepared to teach it with confidence?’ If not, there’s more to learn.”

partnerships. In town, Weyer has city-

nated a car bomb with 100 pounds of

repossessed abandoned houses where

explosives during a post-blast class for

students can perform real breaches

foreign students.

on real doors with real shotguns, or

Foreign students also make extensive

conduct nighttime entries with NODs

use of the simulated airliner fuselage.

and UTM guns against role players.

It’s laid out with the exact dimensions

Weyer also has an abandoned factory,

of a particular model of a real airliner,

the “life after humans” building, which

with seats at the correct intervals,

is a nightmare for students to clear.

overhead storage bins, and real interior

Close to town, Weyer has access to

aircraft skin. It’s even — wait for it —

800- and 1,000-yard ranges, and at

built for live-fire training. Our federal

another nearby site he even deto-

air marshals have their own training

The shoot house is pretty enticing as well; it’s 8,100 square feet, divided into multiple rooms and hallways, rated for calibers up to 7.62x51, has BTI breaching doors, and contains frames for quick-mount drywall so teams can practice explosively porting walls to quickly get muzzles into rooms.


ALLIES IN ARMS program and facilities, but several other

no reason to spend money on tuition,

nations need facilities to develop and

travel, and lodging when they can

sustain their air marshal skills. Alliance

teach their officers all about modern

provides one of the only places in

police tactics (like how to speedload

America for them to do it.

your trusty six-shooter with ball ammo

For Alliance PD officers, Joe

because “hardball drops them all”).

Weyer does what any host would do:

Alliance PD doesn’t have that prob-

in exchange for access to his facility,

lem. Joe Weyer’s friendly “extortion

he extorts trainers for free class slots.

scam” has gotten APD’s officers over

a shooter who trains constantly. She regularly attends classes

Alliance PD probably has some of the

$80,000 in training, from the best

instructed by such noted instructors as Mike Pannone, Jeff Gonzales,

best-trained SWAT and patrol officers

instructors in the country, at no cost to

and Pat Rogers. Most of her camera shooting can be found at www.

in the country. When this author was a

the city’s residents.

taylorelizabethphoto.com, but RECOIL readers might want to check out

small-town cop, his training budget and

26 IS SU E

her “Seeing Red” collection at taylorelizabethphoto.smugmug.com/

facilities only gave him two options: bad

police, military, and armed citizens

GALLERIES/TRAINING-CLASSES. Follow her on Instagram

training, or worse training. But Alliance

tons of training advantages and only

@taylizphoto and keep an eye out for hashtag #valordog too.

has officers with only a few years

one disadvantage (it’s in Ohio, which

on who’ve attended more advanced

we suppose isn’t a disadvantage

a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, was a member of

courses than we have in over 20 years.

for people who live in Ohio). With-

the UN police mission in Kosovo and an embedded adviser with the

out question, the chance to train in

Afghan army. He’s been with a large south Texas police department for

police departments is the honest yet

Alliance was worth the trip. Anyone

over two decades and has written several novels. Find him online at

self-defeating belief that all training

serious about developing real firearms

chrishernandezauthor.com.

can be taught by the departments’

skills should plan at least one course

own instructors. “Trainers,” who may

in Alliance, but be warned: that one

have been off the street for literally

course will likely convince you to go to

decades, think they know it all and see

many, many others.

One affliction crippling many

Chris Hernandez is a former Marine turned Army tanker. He is

BREACHING

REC O ILW E B .C O M

132

All in all, Alliance PD’s facility offers

Taylor Elizabeth Lange is a Houston-based photographer and

We took an Explosive Breaching course at Alliance PD, taught by retired Special Forces NCO John Mayer. Mayer, a self-described “breaching nerd,” put us through a math-heavy classroom portion before taking us outside to shoot through simulated locks with shotguns, knock through doors with battering rams, cut through barriers with torches and saws, and detonate carefully crafted breaching charges. Because Alliance PD has access to numerous condemned houses in town, we also had the opportunity to shotgun breach real doors. Contrary to movie depictions and popular belief, explosives aren’t meant to destroy a door with a nuclear blast; their real aim is to open doors with as little force as possible. Some breaching charges literally push a door open with less force and damage than you’d have from a strong kick. Alliance is hosting another Explosive Breaching course this fall,

ALLIANCE POLICE TRAINING 12251 Rockhill Ave NE Alliance, OH 44601 www.alliancepolicetraining.com

For Alliance PD officers, Joe Weyer does what any good trainer would do: in exchange for access to his facility, he extorts trainers for free class slots.

and we’ll post a full course review on RECOILweb.com soon. Alliance Police Training can be found on the web at www.alliancepolicetraining. com. Follow them on Instagram, @alliancepolicetraining, and watch their Facebook page for training announcements, www.facebook.com/ alliancepolicetraining.


MAKE SIMPLE IMPROVEMENTS TO YOUR AK IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO POACH AN EGG STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE MERRILL

Though the AK and her variants may be the most prolifically used rifle in the

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26

world, in some (alright, many) aspects

REC O ILW E B .C O M

134

it can be a bit long in the tooth. About a decade ago, the lower prices of the AK made for a cheap and fun project gun to tinker with in the garage or workshop — and you could do so on a tight budget. This article hearkens back to that time, and though the base models may have increased in cost, the modifications haven’t. The goal was to highlight easy projects

even featured inside these very pages.

that gift clear improvements for the

None of the projects require permanent

modern shooter that also keep the cost

modification on irreplaceable parts, and

as low as possible.

the parts you modify are easy to swap

For this article I used a vanilla

out if you end up hating it or simply

homebuild pieced together from a

dick it up too bad. Almost everything

Romanian “G” kit. There’s absolutely

shown can be completed with handtools

nothing special with this rifle what-

so you can pretend you’re in a cave in

soever, and if you’ve seen one you’ve

the Khyber Pass, though the vaunted

seen them all.

Dremel is highly recommend for some.

In the true spirit of the Kalashnikov,

WARNING!

When handling firearms, always observe safety rules and the precautions set forth in the firearm’s owner’s guide. Be certain that your firearm is unloaded and made safe before proceeding with this DIY.

Whether you’re just trying to save

every one of these mods is robust and

a little money, want a fun weekend

readily performed if you’re comfortable

project, or simply desire to make your

with common tools. You can do all of

rifle a bit easier to rock — this one’s

them in one go for under $20. If you’re

for you. So suit up and prepare to do

not comfortable with tools, each project

things that will make the purists purple

also has at least one commercially

with indignation.

available alternative — some no doubt

In no particular order …


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FOUR-MINUTE FIXES

SIGHTS One issue with standard AK iron sights is that the slot in the rear sight is just too darn tiny. Lining up your front sight within that small notch may be fine at a static slow-fire range, but at close dynamic ranges where speed is key it can be detrimental. While AKs from some nations have wider rear notches than others, all can be improved. Widening the rear slot not only makes for faster target acquisition, it also won’t affect accuracy too much — we are talking AK

Opening up the rear with a triangle file is easy. Go slow, keep it

here after all. While you’re at it, you can take off some of the sharp

square, then touch it up with some cold blue, or my favorite: spray

corners if you want.

paint. Shoot for a notch between 0.135 and 0.145 inch.

HANDGUARDS

LIGHT MOUNT

You shoot, the handguards get hot. Science. While some AK handguards have heat shields, not all of them do. Even if you wear gloves, heat can be an issue. One solution is to make your own cheap heat shield, and all that’s required is a can of cheap beer. It’s actually important that you go with a cheap brand, because some

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26

of the nicer ones have plastic liners on the inside.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

136

Drink the beer. Cut out a handguard-ish section, and shove it into the lower handguard. Some guys like to use epoxy to keep it in place, but I don’t bother. While you’re at it, if you have a Romanian donkey dick handguard and you’re tired of it mucking up your magazine changes, give it the old chop-chop. Play your cards caref ll and you’ll o ’ll have ha e an Afghan AFG. carefully

There’ve been a lot of different ways to mount lights on AKs over the years — from handguard replacements to barrel mounts and more. For this you need a piece of add-on Picatinny rail (I used a polymer Magpul MOE section, because I had one laying around), four large washers, and two longer machine screws of the appropriate pitch for your rail. Assemble the rail with two washers and a nut on each screw. Remove the top handguard, place a washer on either side of the lower handguard, and reinstall the top rail. Tighten. You may have to make a small relief cut to make the rail even, depending on your handguard and rail placement. No, you wouldn’t want to put a laser on it, but now you can mount any rail-compatible light easily to your rifle.


FOUR-MINUTE FIXES

SLING MOUNTS

SAFETY

Mounting anything other than a factory carrying strap can be difficult. You have that small front attachment point and further complicating matters the rear attach point is sub-optimal for modern slings. Make a better front point with 8 inches of 1/16 coated steel cable and a pair of ferrule stops. My cable happened to be ugly green; maybe you’ll have better luck. Use the ferrule stops to make a loop with the coated cable, ensuring to remove the plastic that goes inside the stops. Clamp it down. If you want to get fancy, put some heat-shrink tape on it. Loop it through the factory front point and attach your sling. Using two ferrule stops allows for a rigid section that’s a perfect place for your sling. There are two ways to take care of the rear mount: You can either remove the buttplate and loop some 550 cord around the top screw and replace the plate, or simply move the rear sling mount from the bottom of the buttstock to the outside-top. If you’re doing the latter, ensure that you don’t inadvertently screw

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26

through the channel for the cleaning kit.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

138

There are several beneficial mods you can perform on the AK safety. Many guns, especially ones built from kits in America, feature a full-auto selector. No, it doesn’t do anything cool for you like make it go bang faster, and can actually be a hazard. The “auto” portion of the safety pushes against your disconnector and drops the hammer during removal, and sometimes does this even if you just snap it on “safe” too hard. No bueno. Simply contour that tab to match a semi-auto safety and not only will it be easier to remove and reinstall, it’s much safer as well. Unless you’re using some very particular models, your AK doesn’t have the ability to reliably lock the bolt to the rear. Bust out that Dremel and cut a charging-handle-sized notch in it. Now you can pull the bolt back and sweep up the safety to lock the carrier in place, which is especially handy on ranges that require a bolt locked back when the line is cold. If you have fingers like Les Claypool, the AK safety is probably easy to employ. For those of us with human-sized phalanges it can be a pain in the ass. I used some scrap metal to add a tab to the safety for easy manipulation with the trigger finger. I happened to spot-weld the tab in place, but I’ve also seen it done with rivets and other forms of welding. Deburr and spray paint when complete.


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FOUR-MINUTE FIXES

GRIP While currently grips on AR-15s are becoming more and more upright and AK-esque, there are

FLUFF AND BUFF

some out there that want an AR grip on an AK. While you can buy an adapter, it’s not needed for most of them. Obtain your desired grip that doesn’t have a high backstrap. Hog out the front and top with a Dremel to match an AK grip. Drill a new grip screw hole, and insert a shorter M6 screw. A2 grips make perfect project grips for this. Remove the nubbin on the front or stipple to your heart’s content. The inside will be rough, but no one sees that anyway.

No, don’t use sandpaper. Just a little polish on the rails and bearing surfaces to smooth it out. You’ll be

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26

pleased with the results.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

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1422 114 IS SU E

26


WE GET TO BREAK CZ’S NEWEST CARBINE BY IAIN HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY BY KENDA LENSEIGNE

You may have noticed a certain theme permeating this

Spring in 1968, the subsequent invasion by Warsaw Pact

issue, and arrived at the conclusion that in the case of this

forces, and the Velvet Revolution some 20 years later. A

article, one of these things is not like the others. A very mod-

symbol of Czech independent thought could be found in its

ern NATO carbine in an issue with lousy 75-year-old Cold War

service rifle, which although it may have looked like an AK-

designs might, at first glance, be a little jarring, but there’s a

47, shared nothing with Kalashnikov’s design apart from the

distinct lineage here, so bear with us.

caliber. Despite becoming a fully fledged NATO member in

The Czechs have a long and distinguished history of

1999, the 7.62x39 Vz58 (see RECOIL Issue 15) still serves in the Czech military, but it’s being slowly phased out in favor

firearms in the world inventory. Illustrious examples of their

of the 5.56 Bren 806, itself a product-improved version of

designs include the CZ 23 submachine gun — the first to

the original 805.

employ a telescoping bolt, the elegant CZ75 handgun and, of

CZ-USA has been importing the pistol version of the 805 922(r), while they worked on a way to keep the number

destroy Her Majesty’s enemies in conflicts ranging from WWII

of evil, foreign-made parts down to the 10 permitted in a

to the Falklands.

carbine. We’ll leave for another time the debate regarding

Despite falling into the Soviet sphere of influence follow-

the mental capacities of those who decided that 10 overseas

ing the defeat of Nazi Germany, a strong independent streak

components made for a gun was A-OK, but 11 constituted a

remained, leading ultimately to the reforms of the Prague

threat to all that was good and wholesome in the world.

1433 REC O ILW E B .C O M

for the past year due to the idiotic requirements of USC

Bren gun, variants of which were employed to close with and

26

course, the ZB vz. 26, which formed the basis for that other

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producing some of the most iconic, high-quality, military


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26

“BOTH FEATURE AN ALUMINUM UPPER RECEIVER, SQUARE-PROFILED CARRIER, MULTI-LUGGED BOLT AND POLYMER LOWER.”

REC O ILW E B .C O M

144 HANDS ON

end result is the same. Comparing both

In the event that Germany ditches the G36 altogether, CZ has a viable replacement in the 805. Sharing a border does them no harm, either.

allow both left- and right-handed shooters to run the gun without taking their

There’s little doubt that CZ’s engi-

guns side by side leads us to suspect

neers took inspiration from the FNH

that the Bren was designed from the

SCAR when they developed the 805

get-go to be a 7.62 NATO rifle. The

carbine. Both feature an aluminum

distance from the barrel extension to

upper receiver, square-profiled carrier,

the rear of the receiver is identical to a

of an ambi safety is a necessary, rather

multi-lugged bolt, and polymer lower.

SCAR 17, rather than the smaller 16 –

than a luxury, feature, as it’s too stiff

Both are able to swap out barrels at the

if there were no plans to chamber it in

and awkward to reapply with the strong

user level. And both have folding stocks

the longer cartridge, why saddle it with

hand thumb. Flicking it back on with

that are adjustable for comb height and

additional weight?

the index finger is effortless, however,

master hand off the pistol grip — even when locking back the bolt during stoppage drills. In this case, the presence

and ensures the booger hook is off the

length of pull. The Bren, however, ben-

This theory is reinforced when we

efits from being a couple of years late

consider the lower receiver, specifically

to the party, as they’ve incorporated a

its replaceable magazine well, which

couple of worthwhile improvements in

provides ample space for a bigger mag,

is on the left side of the lower receiver,

terms of modularity.

should the need arise. In this respect,

within easy reach of the index finger

bang switch during this operation. An elongated bolt hold-open button

the Bren is ahead of the SCAR as in the

if you’re a lefty. Right-handed users

short-stroke gas piston mounted above

latter, there’s no way to convert a SCAR

are forced to use the thumb of their

the barrel to drive a bolt carrier located

16 to 7.62, though SCAR 17 to 5.56

support hand to press the button as

in its alloy receiver. Whereas the Bel-

conversions are currently in service with

the cocking handle is pulled to the rear

gian rifle’s carrier is longer and rides

Army SF. Having one common platform

— this sounds awkward, but is actually

on steel rails bolted to the receiver’s

to handle all foreseeable calibers will no

easier to do than describe, and after

flanks, the 805’s rails are milled into

doubt appeal to the bean counters.

a couple of tries becomes fluid and

Like the SCAR, CZ’s design utilizes a

the aluminum extrusion; there are advantages to both systems, but the

Actual users of the carbine will also appreciate the ambi controls, which

natural. There’s no bolt release catch, however, so those of us used to press-


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If you’re going to rip off a design, rip off a good one. Similarities between the FN and CZ rifles are very noticeable, even if the SCAR does its best to disguise them with its camo pattern finish. What? You mean the anodizing is supposed to match?

back of the receiver. This frees up the bolt carrier — then pull to the rear, whereupon the cocking handle can be lifted out after removing the recoil spring assembly. If you were anticipating being able to strip the bolt out of the carrier, you should probably adjust your expectations at this point. Yes, there’s a convenient, spring-loaded catch at the carrier’s ass end, which should enable the user to simply press it and then

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26

pull out the firing pin, cam pin, and

REC O ILW E B .C O M

146

ing the left side of the gun with palm or

hook design that yields a 5-pound,

bolt. However, this has been rendered

thumb are going to have to relearn that

two-stage pull with a rollover break.

useless by an additional, staked-in

part of the reload. Instead, the cocking

Like a lot of modern firearms, the

cross-pin, which retains the bolt assem-

handle is simply pulled to the rear and

mechanism is housed in a replace-

bly even if the catch is operated. Why

released. In practice, this proved to

able trigger pack that can be swapped

design and implement a mechanism,

be just as quick as reloading an AR —

out relatively easily, so if you feel

only to defeat it? This had us scratching

possibly because the chunk of steel

the need to ship it off to a smith,

our heads also, while reaching for the

sticking out of the receiver is a huge

it’s a straightforward job to pull the

roll pin punch. A couple of whacks with

target and almost impossible to miss.

pack out and drop it in the mail.

a hammer and the carrier was stripped,

Alternatively, you could just send the

revealing a well-designed cam pin and

by the way, is reversible for wrong-

complete lower, as unlike an AR, it’s

track that should contribute to the

handed users, and we suspect that

not a serialized part.

Bren’s longevity. After reassembling the

That reciprocating cocking handle,

some irascible old sweats used to

carbine, (but leaving out the seemingly

The first stage of field stripping the

manipulating a Vz58 for 20 years are

Bren is HK-esque, as it involves re-

superfluous pin) it was time to head to

probably going to swap it to the star-

moving two, non-captive pins in order

the range.

board side, even if they’re righties.

to disengage the lower receiver, simi-

In order to accommodate the widest

lar to those on the CZ Evo. Whoever

possible range of physiques, not only

designed these evidently had a sense

is the stock adjustable, but the pistol

of humor, as the detent springs used

grip is, too. Punching a pin at the

to prevent the pins from walking out

base of the backstrap allows different-

are a) shaped like hypodermic needles

sized inserts to be slipped into place,

and b) cunningly arranged in order to

though the standard one that came

stab whichever appendage you use to

with our test gun proved comfortable

push them out. Use a tool — you’ll

for a wide range of shooters.

thank us for this little tip, honest.

The Bren’s trigger is a pleasant sur-

Once the lower is off, the buttstock

ROUNDS DOWNRANGE During live fire, the Bren’s similarity to the SCAR was readily apparent. We pride ourselves in the ability to break bowling balls. When notified, CZ customer service was top notch and shipped out a replacement firing pin the same day.

While the stock trigger is a welcome improvement over the Belgian gun, there’s still a fair amount of bolt slap as the working parts slam home — we’d expect a 7.62 version (should it come to pass) to be equally as hard on optics. Recoil is negligible and what

prise. Based on the AK (itself ripped

assembly can be slid downward after

little there is in an 8-pound 5.56 is

off from the Garand), it’s a single

pressing its release button at the

further damped by the Bren’s effective


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little muzzle brake, to the point that

the bolt? Well, apparently it has a

away with wiping down the BCG and

there’s more sight disturbance at the

purpose after all. After jamming in

re-oiling it, but anyone who uses the

end of the firing cycle than when the

a magazine, we ran the bolt and

Bren hard in dusty conditions is going

bullet exits.

pressed the trigger. Click.

to want to be able to clear out the

It’s a sweet shooter, and the trig-

26 IS SU E

SPEC SPE EC BOX

REC O ILW E B .C O M

firing pin channel, clean accumulated

action drill, the charging handle was

gunk from the bolt carrier bore, and

It’s only after the second magazine’s

yanked to the rear, but failed to come

service the extractor and ejector.

worth of El Pres and Bill Drills that

back all the way, resulting in a live

None of which is currently possible in

the user will notice that their sup-

round still partially in the chamber.

the field.

port hand is getting a little uncom-

Enthusiastically mortaring the weap-

Despite the Bren’s shortcom-

fortable. By the end of the third

on produced no further progress, so

ings, it’s one of the most appealing

mag, the carbine reaches a point

we popped the lower receiver off to

carbines we’ve shot in a while, as it

where it’s too hot to handle without

reveal the firing pin wedged solidly

offers all the functionality of a SCAR

some serious discomfort and the risk

between the bolt carrier and receiver.

at half the price. Perhaps we’re mak-

of blisters. And by mag number four,

In fact, we’d Mongo’ed it to the point

ing too much out of the problem of

you won’t want to shoot it anymore.

where we’d bent the firing pin, ren-

the BCG either spontaneously disas-

The aluminum fore end is an effec-

dering the gun completely useless.

sembling itself or requiring an armorer

It would appear that we weren’t

to clean it. After all, it’s not like we’re

that come bolted to it do exactly

the first to discover that the conve-

noted for being easy on gear. Nor is it

bugger all to mitigate heat transfer.

nient, spring-loaded catch that was

likely that the average American user

Insulating panels are a must for any-

supposed to retain the firing pin

is going to shoot the rifle to the point

one who wants to run this carbine

during normal operation, and then

at which it needs to be thoroughly

hard, and hopefully the aftermarket

allow the user to quickly disassemble

field cleaned in order to maintain

will respond.

tive conductor, and the alloy panels

148

Jumping straight into an immediate

ger just begs to be worked rapidly.

the bolt carrier for routine mainte-

reliability. Let’s face it, the majority

We developed an affection for

nance, had problems. Rather than fix

of carbines are taken to a controlled

the Bren as it’s easy to operate, ac-

the original defect, the factory opted

range, shot from a concrete bench for

curate, and reliable, right up to the

to add another pin to the carrier,

few minutes, then put back into their

point that the RECOIL curse kicked

thereby disabling the QD feature and

cases for an air-conditioned ride back

in. It wasn’t until our third range

leaving the user unable to strip the

to the safe. On the other hand, should

session that we had a stoppage. And

bolt in order to clean it. As work-

you have more demanding require-

boy, was it a doozy. Remember that

arounds go, it’s barely adequate.

ments, you should be aware of the

seemingly useless pin that retains

The casual shooter will probably get

issue and its ramifications.

CZ

BREN BRE EN 805 805 CARB CARBINE CA ARB RBINE BINE

URL

cz-usa.com

CALIBER

5.56mm BARREL LENGTH

16.2 inches OVERALL LENGTH

38.5 inches WEIGHT (UNLOADED)

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26 IS SU E REC O ILW E B .C O M

150

TRAIL SHOE TIPS TO MAKE THE SWITCH FROM PAVEMENT TO OFF-ROAD RUNNING PHOTOS AND STORY BY SARA DAVIDSON

Let’s be honest here, treadmills suck and pounding pavement is boring. Winter is long over, so save yourself the sole-crushing (see what we did there?) monotony and head off-road and get dirty. Trail running is no longer a fringe sport full of feral-looking runners who think running 100-plus miles in a day is delightful. Ultramarathoners don’t own the market on running’s dirty side, so feel free to jump off-road and play in the woods without committing to Herculean distances or super gnarly terrain. And it’s fun. We promise. Really, we promise. The blood will wash out. (OK, we can’t promise that.) While you can run trails in your roadie kit, those who want to do more than dabble on dirt should consider investing in some specialty trail shoes. Note that their aggressive tread patterns work superbly at the range - a fact that hasn’t been lost on top-level 3 gun competitors. We talked with a couple mileage addicts about three key factors to consider when shopping for shoes: form, fit, and function. We talked with a couple mileage addicts about three key factors to consider when shopping for shoes: form, fit, and function.  


FORM Trail shoes aren’t just road shoes in obnoxious

FUNCTION The biggest place new trail runners can screw up is not letting the terrain inform the shoe

colors. They typically have a thicker, more rugged

choice. “The terrain you’re going to run on is as big of a factor as fit, form, and everything for

outsole with lugs for better traction, higher col-

the shoe,” Rolph says. “Different shoes are made for different things.”

lars to aid in lateral stabilization, and rock plates

Be thoughtful about what kind of trails you’ll be running (rocks, gravel, sand, slick clay,

to protect your tender feet from pointy rocks.

sloppy mud) and what kind of terrain (steep ups and downs versus flat and rolling), then use it

Monogamous with a certain brand and style?

as the principal criterion of your shoe choice. Making the wrong choice will hurt — literally.

Some road shoes have a trail-loving counterpart,

“In 2008 I ran the Javelina Jundred,” Smith said. “That was my first 100-miler. I showed

but make sure you check your options before you

up to the game with some Nikes — they were billed as a trail shoe at the time. For a lot of the

simply settle for more of the same.

more pedestrian trails they were fine, but once I got out there on the rocks and sand it was hor-

“Don’t just buy your road brand in a trail version,” says Travis Rolph, retired Army Special

rible. My feet were beat up.” So where to start? First — before you fire up Google to order a new pair — a primer on shoe stuff:

Forces and two-time finisher of the 170-mile Grand to Grand Ultra seven-day stage race. “Make

STACK HEIGHT:

sure that it’s going to work for you and the style of

Stack height, some-

running that you’re going to do.”

times used interchangeably with “cushion,”

IS SU E

26

In the beginning, don’t go too far from your

REC O ILW E B .C O M

152

concrete-running comfort zone; phase in a new pair

is the measurement

of shoes gradually. “If you’re already minimal or

of how much shoe is

zero drop, you want to look for a trail shoe that of-

between your foot and

fers the same kind of capability,” says Mosi Smith,

the ground.

a former assistant coach for the Navy Marathon Team with more than 40 ultramarathon finishes.

FIT Fit is more important on trail than pavement

“Some people like shoes with less cushioning which tend to give you better ground feel and stability,” Andersen from Crozet Running says. “Other people really like the max-cushion shoes which feel like you’re running on clouds as you descend over technical terrain.” If your feet feel beat up, try going up in stack height for some extra cushion. If you feel like you’re fighting your shoes, try going lower.

because your feet move around more when cover-

OFFSET: This is the difference between the stack height of the heel and the stack height of the

ing the rocks, roots, holes, and other hazards of

toe. Traditional running shoes typically have an offset in the range of 8 millimeters to 12 millime-

off-road terrain. Besides being uncomfortable, a

ters, but shoes with a low offset — 4 millimeters down to zero — are becoming really popular.

poorly fitting shoe can lead to run-ruining blisters, lost toenails, or injury. “The No. 1 mistake that most people make in

But don’t confuse the two terms. The Olympus (featured) has a huge stack height of 36 millimeters, but a zero offset. That means your foot is flat from heel to toe, but

purchasing running shoes is getting shoes that are

you’re way off the ground. Make sense?

too small,” says John Andersen, who owns Crozet

TECHNICAL FEATURES: Some shoes

Running, a specialty store geared toward trail run-

now come in waterproof versions. We

ning near Charlottesville, Virginia.   

love Gore-Tex for running in fresh snow,

Andersen, who is training for his first 100-

but these versions can be hot and trap

miler, recommends newer trail runners “listen to

water in your shoe. Polartec — like

their feet,” and find a shoe that doesn’t cause

in Altra’s Lone Peak NeoShell — is

rubbing or pressure points, and feels comfortably

waterproof on the outside yet manages

snug in the heel. “Because the trail is softer than

to be fairly breathable. Water-phobic

pavement, and the uneven terrain breaks up your

models will also increase the shoe’s

running gait,” he says, “most people can success-

sticker price.

fully run in a much wider range of shoe types.” Still unsure? Most staff at specialty running

Our take? Your feet are going to get wet; the fastest way through the mud

stores will help fit you for shoes, and most have

and water is usually straight through. Go

generous return policies if what you bring home

get dirty.

doesn’t work out. 

Still with us? Good. Now for the fun part.

THE TEST CREW A little about our shoe testing crew: Jared Byrd, 32, was 9th overall at Alabama’s Pinhoti 100 with a personalrecord time of 22 hours and 19 minutes. He’s training for June’s Big Horn Trail 100 in Wyoming and the Washington’s Bigfoot 200-mile Endurance Run in August. Leah Pan is new to the ultrarunning scene, but has already finished five 50Ks and her first 50-miler and 100K. She has eyes on a 100-miler next year but isn’t ready to admit that publicly yet. Sara Davidson, the author, is a Washington, D.C.-based runner with more than 30 ultramarathon finishes. She’s training for her third 100-mile race in November. *Shoe weights in the following spec boxes are given for a single men’s shoe, size 9, regardless of the shoe pictured.


DIRTY SECRETS

1

ALL AROUND

THE NORTH FACE

ULTRA ENDURANCE MAKE:

1 The North Face MODEL:

Ultra Endurance WEIGHT:

11 ounces OFFSET:

8 mm

CUSHION:

Medium MSRP:

$125

URL:

www.thenorthface.com

26 IS SU E

FIT:

We did order a half size up, then they fit like Goldilocks: Not too loose, not too snug, just right.

AUTHOR’S

REC O ILW E B .C O M

154

TOP PICK

2

NOTES:

The Ultra Endurance is a versatile option for runners who tread a wide variety of trails. These were the dark horse in our shoe test fight, but ended up being the surprise favorite of one tester who wore them for a 72-mile race in the gnarly Georgia mountains. The molded-TPU toe cap offered protection from toenail-trashing rocks and the Vibram Megagrip outsole severed up great traction on the course’s 40,000 feet of elevation change. The low collar on these shoes made them low profile, but still supportive, and the toe box was roomy, but not too loose for steep downhilling. These fit so well he forgot all about them, which in shoes, is a great thing. *The authors’ pick for best all-around shoe: The North Face Endurance. This shoe was one of the most versatile of the models we tested and performed well on a wide variety of trails, from rolling rail-trail to gnarly single track. Even after lots of punishing unishing miles it still feels great.

ALL AROUND

PEARL IZUMI

E:MOTION TRAIL N2 V2 MAKE:

2 Pearl Izumi MODEL:

E:motion Trail N2 v2 WEIGHT:

10 ounces OFFSET:

7.5 mm

CUSHION:

Medium MSRP:

$120

URL:

www.pearlizumi.com FIT:

These, like the North Face Ultra Endurances, fit so well that we put them on and forgot we were wearing them.

NOTES: NOTE

With a 7.5mm heel-to-toe offset and super roomy toebox, these Pearls are a great option for runners who want to try Altras, but aren’t ready for a zero-offset shoe. The seamless upper on the N2s “fit like a sock,” one tester said, greatly improving the overall comfort. In fact, these no-fuss shoes fit so well they practically disappeared on our feet. Our tester found the Carbon Rubber outsole on these to be on the stiffer side, but loved them for shorter distances. Want even more cushion? Try the Pearl Izumi N3s.


DIRTY SECRETS

3

ALL AROUND

ALTRA

LONE PEAK NEOSHELL MAKE:

3 Altra

MODEL:

Lone Peak NeoShell WEIGHT:

11.9 ounces (10.6 ounces w/o NeoShell) OFFSET:

None

CUSHION:

Medium MSRP:

$150 ($120 w/o NeoShell) URL:

www.altrarunning.com

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26

FIT:

REC O ILW E B .C O M

156

Roomy, but runs slightly small. Order a half- to full-size up. EXTRA FEATURES:

Polartec NeoShell upper, gaiter trap

4

NOTES:

Altra’s Lone Peak is the middle child of the brand’s trail shoe line and hits the sweet spot between cushion and performance. With a 25 millimeter stack height (and StoneGuard rock plate) the Lone Peak offers enough cushion to protect on technical trails while still a being a light and fast shoe. The Polartec lining on the upper means these kicks will be waterproof and breathable, which will help keep your feet warmer and dryer. Proof? These shoes were comfortably dry just minutes after sloshing through a calf-deep stream during a frigid February 50K.

MAX CUSHION

ALTRA

OLYMPUS 2.0 MAKE:

4 Altra

MODEL:

Olympus 2.0 WEIGHT:

11 ounces OFFSET:

None

CUSHION:

Max

MSRP:

$150

URL:

www.altrarunning.com FIT:

Roomy with an extra-wide toe box. Runs slightly small. Order a half- to full-size up. EXTRA FEATURES:

gaiter trap

NOTES:

Altra’s Olympus is one of the beefiest shoes on the market right now — with a stack height of 36 millimeters — giving cushion lovers plenty of protection from rugged terrain. This his update keeps the brand brand’ss extra roomy “foot-shaped” toe box, but swaps the original’s shallow tread for a new deeper and grippier outsole. The Vibram Megagrip material of the 2.0s performs better on slick rocks and mud, meaning you’re more likely to stay vertical on wet footing.


DIRTY SECRETS

5

MAX CUSHION

HOKA ONEONE

CHALLENGER ATR 2 MAKE:

5 Hoka OneOne MODEL:

Challenger ATR 2 WEIGHT:

9.5 ounces OFFSET:

5 mm

CUSHION:

Max

MSRP:

$130

URL:

www.hokaoneone.com Roomier than its predecessor. If you like extra toe-room, order a half-size up.

IS SU E

26

FIT:

REC O ILW E B .C O M

158

6

NOTES:

A longstanding gripe with Hoka — early to the max cushion party — has been the narrow and shallow toe box. But the ATR 2s have the best Hoka toe box we’ve tried. These kicks have enough cushion to take on the gnarliest of terrain, but a low enough stack height to still be lightweight and responsive. We did notice that the back of the shoe (plus a thicker insole) comes up higher than earlier models, giving one of our testers a heel blister issue.

MAX CUSHION ON

NEW BALANCE

LEADVILLE TRAIL* MAKE:

6 New Balance MODEL:

Leadville Trail* WEIGHT:

10.4 ounces OFFSET:

8 mm

CUSHION:

Max

MSRP:

$125

URL:

www.newbalance.com FIT:

True to size, roomy toe box

NOTES:

This stability shoe from New Balance has two types of cushion — N2 in thee forefoot and a full-length REVlite foam midsole — which made them ideal, our tester said, for any trailil surface. f Th The company’s ’ “toe protect” toe cap kept the rock-kicking pain (and swear words) to a minimum, and the superb fit from the no-sew upper kept our tester blister free on a recent 50K. Want the cushion in a neutral shoe? Try the company’s Fresh Foam Hierro. * Our tester wore the V2s; specs above are for the V3s — on sale now.


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DIRTY SECRETS

7

SOFT GROUND & MUD

LA SPORTIVA

MUTANT MAKE:

5 La Sportiva MODEL:

Mutant

WEIGHT:

10.7 ounces OFFSET:

10 mm

CUSHION:

Medium MSRP:

$135

URL:

www.sportiva.com Snug performance fit. If you like your shoes on the roomier side, order a half-size up.

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26

FIT:

REC O ILW E B .C O M

160

8

NOTES:

We thought we knew how to tie our shoes, but then we pulled out the Mutants and were reduced to reading the directions. The asymmetric lacing system puts both laces the outer side of the shoe; once tied, the laces tuck into their own pocket to keep them out of the way. Yay! No tripping on untied laces. But where the Mutants really shine is on sloppy trail. Their super sticky FriXion XF outsole was excellent on the spring season’s slick and sloppy footing. The snug midfoot wrap keeps your heel secure on downhills while the comfortably roomy toe box allowed for optimal foot splay. These are now our go-to shoes for sloppy and slick runs.

SOFT GROUND & MUD

SALOMON

SPEEDCROSS 3 MAKE:

6 Salomon MODEL:

Speedcross 3 WEIGHT:

10.9 ounces OFFSET:

11 mm

CUSHION:

Medium MSRP:

$130

URL:

www.salomon.com FIT:

Snug like a glove. Unisex sizing.

NOTES:

The Speedcross 3’s aggressive tread and Mud & Snow Contagrip outsole make thhem ideal for the sloppiest pp of runs, especially in winter’s worst conditions. The high collar and snug mid-foot fit meant these shoes stayed on our feet when the sucking mud tried its hardest to pull them off. Salomon’s speed-lace system helped dial in the fit even more. While not our first choice for dry conditions, these soft-ground superstars eliminate any excuse to skip a muddy run. The FORCES model (shown) is non-reflective for tactical use.


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PTSD manifests as a depression and stress disorder, but one that plays a movie of the traumatic event on a continuous loop in the brain. The person who suffers from this feels alone, as if being in a deep hole with no way out and with no energy to begin the climb. Others offer suggestions, but they are not in this hole with the one who suffers. Going deeper in that hole, and allowing more dirt to fall on the problem will not solve anything and will not allow the sufferer to emerge to live in the light again. The reality is that emotional suicide is committed long

HEALING THE INVISIBLE WOUNDS! STORY AND PHOTOS BY DR. NEAL H. OLSHAN

before the physical act takes place in many instances. A veteran friend who I saw the other night at a U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

26

benefit function, and who carried the IS SU E

scars of combat, looked upset. When I asked why, he told me that he had just seen someone with whom he had served and asked how he was doing.

162

The person said very curtly, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fine.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

Why?â&#x20AC;? My friend was upset because he knew the man had been suffering from PTSD, but was acting as if everything was OK. Many who suffer from PTSD try to keep up a brave front to the world, but those who are close family and longtime friends know there is a serious problem and that the person has changed dramatically. In the last column on PTSD, we talked about the downward slope to alcohol, drugs, violence, and suicide, but it is important to know that the person who suffers is not alone and can reach out to form connections that will aid in their recovery. Before I talk about those connections, I want to emphasize that we associate PTSD primarily with veterans, but I have worked with many police officers who face daily instances of Jax71/istockphoto.com

traumatic events. Many of these are facing the unknown when they knock on a door for a domestic violence call


PTSD DEFINED, PART 2 or walk up to a car on a dark road.

got out of the service. We lived and

Many are killed or injured each day,

breathed every day with the same guys.

but until retirement, they face that

We went to hell and back with them. We

danger. They have also seen the dead,

literally put our lives in their hands. Now

children who died needlessly, women

it is all gone and you feel left out in the

who were battered beyond recogni-

cold surrounded by people who did not

tion, those who were severely burned,

go through it with you, who don’t under-

and car accidents that mangle bodies

stand what is going on in your head …

in unthinkable distortions. These first

That is why I think it hits a lot after we

responders need to have an outlet,

get out, why it doesn’t happen when the

a place to talk and know that their

group is together. We need to be there

choices were the best they could make

for each other at that moment.”

at the time. Unfortunately, Hollywood

IS SU E

26

Josh Jackson, a police officer in Northern California and operations director of LMS Defense.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

164

Staff Sergeant Robert Rouleau, Operation Determined Response (USS Cole 2000), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan 20012002), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005-2006 and 2008).

Vartenin Ashaq was born in Iraq and

always shows them drinking at a bar at

faced being the victim of oppression

the end of the day. Perhaps that is true

under Saddam Hussein. Her father

in some cases — and that may be the

owned a printing business, and one

place to vent — but alcohol and de-

day, the minions of Hussein killed her

pression are bad bedfellows, particu-

brother, and her father’s business was

larly when you take them home to your

taken from him. At the age of 18 she

family. Josh Jackson, a police officer

became a citizen of this country, the

in Northern California and operations

one that gave her family safety and

director of LMS Defense, stated that

freedom and she felt that she wanted to

he felt that having channels of commu-

make a difference and give back. She

nication among police officers who can

became a linguist for the Department

openly talk about the emotional impact

of Defense and delivered “intelligence

of some of their experiences would aid

products” translated into and from

in relieving the stress associated with

Arabic to facilitate operations of several

the job.

combat and intelligence teams from

Robert Rouleau, a veteran, told

2009 to 2011 in Iraq and then from

me the following: “The big thing that

2012 to 2013 in Kuwait. Every nine

people need to understand about PTSD

months she was moved to a new unit,

is that we had a 24/7 support group

and each time she had to build trust

we trusted that vanished the day we

with that group. Although not specifically classified as a soldier, she was in combat theaters as mortars exploded close by, was under fire, and worked with interrogations as a linguist. She has been part of a double whammy — the victim of a cruel dictator and a participant in a war zone, and all as a very young woman. There are times when we can wonder how much the human

(Right) Vartenin Ashaq 1, Department of Defense linguist, on mission over Forward Operating Base Camp Echo, near the southern city of Diwaniyah, Iraq. (Far right) Vartenin and husband, Bill.

body and mind can endure. With the love of her husband and family she has been able to work through many of the horrors that she remembers, but still cringes at loud noises, especially those produced by airplanes and motorcycles. Now let’s look at what we can do to help those who suffer.


PTSD DEFINED, PART 2 WHEN SHOULD I GET EVALUATED FOR PTSD? If you continue to experience PTSD

medication. In many cases, especially at the onset of treatment, talk therapy and medication may be combined.

Veterans Administration

symptoms for more than three months. If you experience repeated night-

PSYCHOTHERAPY Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for

place available to the military veteran

If you think about the traumatic

PTSD. Typically, you meet with your

to establish that their condition is

experience even when you did not

therapist once a week for three to six

related to their service. This may involve

want to do so.

months. There are different types of

both treatment and benefits. Although

If you repeatedly avoid situations

CBT that are effective for PTSD.

there has been a significant amount of

If you are constantly on guard or easily startled.

controversy regarding multiple aspects

26 IS SU E

MEDICATION Medication can raise the level of

of the Veterans Administration care of veterans, it is the only option available

If you feel numb or detached from

serotonin in your brain, which can

to veterans unless they have health

others, activities, or your surroundings.

help to make you feel better and

insurance for treatment from a private

experience fewer symptoms of PTSD.

source; however, the V.A. is the only

The two serotonin uptake inhibitors

pathway to benefits.

Current research recommends that if

REC O ILW E B .C O M

The Veterans Administration healthcare system is many times the only

mares about the experience.

that remind you of the experience

166

WHERE SHOULD I GO FOR TREATMENT

you answered â&#x20AC;&#x153;yesâ&#x20AC;? to any three items,

that are currently approved by the FDA

you should seek more information

for the treatment of PTSD are Zoloft

from a mental health care provider. A

and Paxil.

positive screen does not mean PTSD

Caution: Some physicians will

and only a qualified mental health care

prescribe medicines called benzodi-

provider can diagnose you with PTSD.

azepines for people with PTSD. These medicines are often prescribed to

TYPES OF TREATMENT THAT ARE EFFECTIVE FOR PTSD

people who have problems with anxi-

Pros

ety. While the medication may help at

Typically, the first and perhaps only

first, they do not treat the core PTSD

alternative for the veteran.

into two categories, psychotherapy,

symptoms. They may lead to addiction

Involved in cutting-edge research for

sometimes called counseling, and

and are not recommended for long-

the treatment of PTSD.

term PTSD treatment.

Typically located in most major cities.

Treatments available for PTSD fall

Those in treatment are from the military.

FINDING A THERAPIST You need to interview a potential

Cons

therapist and ensure that they are ex-

Long, and at times deadly, waits for

perienced in providing the latest PTSD

evaluation and treatment.

treatments. The three interview ques-

An overwhelming bureaucracy to fight

tions that demand a positive response

through for services.

prior to engaging in any treatment

Little or no ability to obtain second

plan are:

opinions outside of the Veterans

How long have you been in practice

Administration.

and are you licensed? Have you treated PTSD previously? If you choose a psychologist or

Law Enforcement Police officers need to see if their

counselor, do they work with a doc-

department offers critical incident stress

tor who can prescribe medication.

management or utilizes any employment assistance programs. Alternatively, most

Beyond these questions, you should

police officers will be covered by private

get a feeling of trust with the therapist

insurance and can read below regarding

that would allow for full disclosure.

steps to choose a therapist.


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PTSD DEFINED, PART 2 Psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician who has the ability to prescribe medication.

RESOURCES

Pros ozgurdonmaz/istockphoto.com

The psychiatrist can prescribe medication for your PTSD. Some psychiatrists also provide talk therapy. Cons A high percentage of psychiatrists do not accept

Psychologist by their particular state to practice psychology. Ask and verify that they are licensed. You may also check with the psychology board of your state to

IS SU E

26

inquire about any complaints.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

168

mag m ma aagnetcreative/istockphoto. t com m

Men and women who were licensed

insurance and your first visit can be very expensive. It may be difficult to find a psychiatrist medication and therapy.

Counselors

interview and evaluate the therapist

A counselor will typically have a

and make a decision regarding pro-

master’s degree and will provide talk

ceeding with treatment. Your treat-

therapy.

ment is typically customized to your You can choose whether you want to be seen by a male or female therapist.

PTSD Returning from the War Zone…A guide for families of military members www.ptsd.va.gov The National Center for PTSD www.ptsdinfo.org

DEPRESSION Pros It may be easier to obtain an appointment with a counselor than a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you

Cons

Call 911, go to an emergency room, or call 1–800–273–TALK (1– 800–273–8255)

provides talk

You have the opportunity to research

particular situation and circumstance.

IN A CRISIS?

who prescribes

Pros and pick your own therapist. You can

I have taken the liberty to reduce the number of references since the Internet is flooded with resources. After putting the term PTSD in the search engine, 12,000,000 citations were listed in less than the blink of an eye. Experiencing PTSD is not a sign of weakness. Don’t allow the stigma of PTSD to be a barrier for you to receive help. Sometimes you need a buddy to help you over the wall.

National Institute of Mental Health depression fact sheet www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/ depression-listing.shtml

have to pay for each session, typically

Your insurance company may not be

the expense is less than a psycholo-

ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE

accepted by the therapist you choose

gist or psychiatrist; however, many are

and therefore you would have to pay

providers with insurance plans.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Facility Locator findtreatment.samhsa.gov

Cons

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information and Resources www.alcoholanddrugabuse.com

cash. Your insurance company may require a substantial co-pay for each visit. Therapists specializing and experienced

A counselor may be limited in their

in the treatment of PTSD may have lon-

training regarding the treatment of

ger wait times to get an appointment.

PTSD.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Neal H. Olshan is the developer of Evolution of Mindset and is a consulting psychologist for corporations and the sports industry for athletic improvement through the use of his Mindset program. He is also a pilot, an award-winning photographer, an author of both fiction and nonfiction books, and the chief combat psychologist for LMS Defense.

Ask Dr.O

Writing PTSD Part Two has proven to be a more complex task than first perceived. Each of us, in our own small way can make an impact. If a friend or fellow warrior is having problems, don’t ignore…get involved. There are a multitude of avenues to pursue from direct contact to helping financially. Due to the significant growth of veterans’ aid groups, always check and verify before sending your donations. Please send me your thoughts. Suggestions or questions and ideas for future columns are always welcome. Contact me at mindsetdoc@gmail.com.


COME TO GRIPS WITH YOUR FIREARMS TRAINING STORY AND PHOTOS BY RYNE GIOVIANO

Would you rather “blast your guns,”

depending on what you’re shooting. It

curacy, but it may also keep the gun in

or get tight groupings downrange?

should go without saying, then, that a

your hands should someone attempt to

Exactly. Grip strength is one of those

firmer and steadier hold of the firearm

take it from you.

undervalued aspects of training that

is certainly better than the opposite.

often gets pushed by the wayside.

Recoil control and maintaining front-

Most people would rather do endless

sight focus are all enhanced through a

sets of bench presses or curls with

steadier and stronger grip.

hopes of getting huge. It’s not uncom-

We also need to be able to exhibit

mon to see considerable strength gains in seemingly unrelated exercises purely by training your grip. Grip strength 26

is important not only to your overall IS SU E

health, but it’s also the key to effective firearms training. Let’s talk about training your grip.

170 REC O ILW E B .C O M

WHY IS GRIP STRENGTH IMPORTANT FOR FIREARMS TRAINING? Your gun’s connection to your body

Matthias Drobeck/istockphoto.com

is, at least partially, through your grip

WARNING! The exercises and content expressed in this column are for illustrative purposes only. Consult your physician before trying any physical activity or nutritional plan. RECOIL and its contributors are not responsible for any harm or injuries sustained while attempting these techniques.

WHY IS GRIP STRENGTH AN IMPORTANT INDICATOR OF HEALTH? Believe it or not, there is a decent

this strength over time. Very rarely,

amount of research pointing to grip

if ever, are you going to just shoot

strength as an overall predictor of

through a mag or two. You’ll be spend-

health. Studies have associated a

ing a good amount of time shooting,

strong grip with reduced cardiovascu-

and you don’t want grip fatigue to be

lar risk, reduced complications from

the reason why your accuracy and

surgery, and reduced length of hospital

precision go downhill after 30 minutes.

stay. One even suggests it may be an

It’s not just enough to be strong; you

accurate predictor for determining

also need the endurance in your grip to

all-cause mortality, heart disease, and

sustain a firm, steady hold over time.

stroke mortality. How you ask? Simple;

Another important aspect of grip

grip strength tends to be lower in less

strength is weapon retention. Sure,

physically fit people. Maintenance of

a firmer hold can result in better ac-

muscle strength throughout life can


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HOLD ON TIGHT! reduce the likelihood of functional limitations that may

THE

EXERCISES

closely relate to early death, especially in elderly populations. So, are we saying that working on your grip strength can keep you from a heart attack? Certainly not, but staying

A. DEADLIFT (OVERHAND GRIP)

physically fit, and using grip strength as a metric, can be

Begin in a standing

your litmus test to determine if your health is going in the

position with your shins in

right direction. Just make sure, as we’ll cover shortly, you’re

front of the bar.

choosing free weight exercises over machine-based ones. The carryover into activities of daily living, and the other

Sit your hips back while

benefits like stability, range of motion, and usable strength

reaching forward. This is to

is considerably better with free weights.

ensure you’re getting long and not bending at your

HOW DOES GRIP STRENGTH IMPROVE SHOULDER HEALTH? You may be wondering what grip has to do with your

spine. Once you feel your

shoulder. Quite a bit,

hamstrings tighten up,

actually. You can find out

bend your knees to reach

for yourself by doing this

the bar, if you need to.

simple exercise:

Keep you lower back flat.

IS SU E

26

Keep your arms at your

REC O ILW E B .C O M

172

sides and make a fist.

Grip the bar with both

You’ll feel tension in your

palms facing you, and pull

hand.

your shoulders down away

Squeeze your fist a little

from your head.

harder, and you’ll feel it in your hand and forearm

Brace, crush the bar, and

Squeeze harder and

drive your feet through the

you’ll feel it in your

floor.

hand, forearm, biceps, and triceps.

Slowly return to the

Squeeze as hard as you possibly can, and you’ll feel it all

starting position.

the way up to your shoulder and perhaps even further. Complete three to five So what’s going on here? Why is it that your grip can af-

sets of three to five heavy

fect your entire arm? Studies have found strong correlations

repetitions. Bonus points

between grip strength and rotator cuff function. It’s called

if you hold the bar as long

an irradiation pattern. Basically, what’s happening is your

as you can on your last rep

grip tension is spilling over to neighboring muscles. This ef-

before lowering it to the

fect can cause the muscles of your rotator cuff to tighten up

ground.

and center the ball in the socket of your shoulder. It’s not uncommon for people who have some shoulder pain when doing certain strength training movements to be pain-free when focusing on crushing the handle while going through an exercise.

HOW DO WE TRAIN FOR GRIP STRENGTH? Let’s take a look at some exercises that can go a long way in improving your grip strength and your performance at the range.


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THE

HOLD ON TIGHT!

EXERCISES

B1. TOWEL ROWS

B2. KETTLEBELL CRUSH GRIP OVERHEAD PRESS

Wrap two towels around a bar at

In a standing or half-kneeling position,

roughly shoulder width; one for each

grab a kettlebell by the “ball,” not the

hand.

handle.

Position yourself under the bar, and grab each towel firmly.

While gripping it firmly with both hands,

Slowly pull yourself toward the bar,

press the kettlebell overhead. Be sure

making sure to drive your shoulder

not to arch your back in the process.

blades together. Slowly return to the starting position

Slowly return to the starting position.

and repeat eight to 10 times. Complete three sets.

Complete three sets of eight to 10

IS SU E

26

repetitions.

REC O ILW E B .C O M

174

C1. KETTLEBELL BOTTOM’S-UP CARRY Position a lighter kettlebell upside down, and grip the handle. With a 90-degree bend in your arm, bring the kettlebell up so your upper arm is horizontal and the bell is above your head. Walk slowly for about 20 to 40 yards. Do this three times on each arm.


THE

HOLD ON TIGHT!

EXERCISES

C2. PLATE PINCH Grip two lighter weight plates between your fingers and thumb at your side. Turn the grooves inward and pinch them together. Hold for 20 seconds, or walk for about 20 to 40 yards. Do this three times on each arm

Captains of Crush

IS SU E

26

These little hand grippers are fantastic to improve your grip strength. It’s a good idea to just keep one in your pocket, and use it throughout the day. They come in several strengths, going from 60 pounds all the way to 365 pounds of resistance. www.captainsofcrushgrippers.com

REC O ILW E B .C O M

176

PROGRAMMING Here is a sample of how a program might look with grip strength being the primary focus. Outside of something like this, you can easily program the plate pinch or kettlebell bottom’s-up carry toward the end of your regular program. Ideally, you want these at the end to save your grip for the more difficult exercises that may require a higher amount of strength.

DIRECTIONS Complete each letter in its entirety before moving on to the next letter. For example, you’ll complete one set of B1 followed by one set of B2 for a total of three sets each. Once that is completed, move onto the C1 and C2.

EXERCISE

SETS

REPETITIONS

REST (SEC.)

A. Overhand Grip Deadlift

4

4

60-90

B1. Towel Row

3

8

45

B2. KB Crush Grip Overhead Press

3

8-10

45

C1. KB Bottom’s Up Carry

3 per side

20 seconds

30

C2. Plate Pinch

3 per side

20 seconds

30

CONCLUSION Grip strength can be the critical component to your firearms training that you may be neglecting. It can be as easy as adding in one exercise or making a change to one you already do regularly. You’ll be able to get a firmer grip on your firearm, which should also result in tighter groupings down range. After all, the connection between you and your firearm should be a strong one.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ryne Gioviano is a frequent contributor to our sister publication, RECOIL OFFGRID magazine, and the co-owner of Achieve Personal Training & Lifestyle Design located in Aurora, Illinois. He holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology and is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. www.achieve-personaltraining.com.


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ON THE RIGHT TRACK

WE’RE HUNTING FUGITIVES AND BRINGING YOU ALONG FOR THE PURSUIT BY DAVID REEDER

If you’ve been watching RECOILweb.com, you know we’ve recently added a couple of new series. One is called “Monday Morning EDC,” which, as you can probably tell from the name, talks about various everyday-carry implements and loadouts. They’re basically pocket dumps for the responsible armed American. Another is “Everymen Tactical,” in which we provide tactical gear

IS SU E

26

usually reviewed by SMEs to workaday Americans and see how it holds

REC O ILW E B .C O M

178

up. We’ve also been writing a lot about tracking. Why tracking? There are a number of reasons, many of which you might not have considered. The tracking skillset involves

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organization we’ve been training with, has a mantra that says, “Weaponize the Senses.” We’re adding some new contributors to the team, too. Most recently we’ve run several articles by John Darwin (a pseudonym), a SOF professional who competes, teaches precision marksmanship, and has to swim a lot because of his job. Watch for those. There’s plenty more to follow and lots going on. Read RECOILweb.com or watch us on the Instabookfacialgramz at www.facebook.com/ Recoil.gun.lifestyle and @recoilmagazine. Go check out Greenside Training. Look for the #weaponizethesenses hashtags on FB and IG. Can’t get to a Greenside course? Learn from Grasky, Scott-Donelan, Hull, Vaught, or Winegar, but definitely add it to your training lineup. That’s it for now. Go forth and conquer. Grab your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and head to RECOILweb.com for more exclusive content.

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PRESENTED BY BROWNELLS & THE CREATORS OF

12

04

08

CODE: L8X USE AT BROWNELLS.COM OR CALL 800-741-0015 OFFER GOOD THROUGH AUGUST 19, 2016


EDITOR’S LETTER

W

e may be taking a

(and who isn’t?) then you might want

break from America’s

to take a couple of basic steps to im-

most popular rifle in

prove your rifle, before diving head-

RECOIL, but AR-15

long into the sea of go-faster parts. A

junkies can still get their fix in this

decent trigger is always a good place

issue of Brownells Gunnery. In it, we

to start, as is ditching the A2 pistol

examine three different builds, from

grip for something a bit more com-

mild to wild and select components

fortable. Once you’ve got the lower

for each one from what may be the

receiver squared away, you can then

largest collection of quality parts the

think about building a custom upper.

Internet has to offer.

Perhaps you’ve got an SPR itch that

We’re often asked on social media

needs scratching, or you’re jonesing

T

he story of the AR-15 rifle is as unquestionably American as what it stands for. Bristling with innovation,

as to what AR rifle we’d recommend

for a recce build — if you use your

for a particular application. In many

existing lower as a jumping off point,

cases, the user would be best served

you’ve already saved a bunch of coin

marketplace. An underdog that grew

by building their own, as not only do

that can be plowed into better com-

to become a lion. And the proud and

they get the end result they want,

ponents for the upper.

relentless guarantor of life, liberty, and

but they also learn every aspect of

There is a downside to rolling your

but initially misunderstood. Ridiculed at times, but a behemoth in the

the pursuit of happiness.

their carbine inside and out. If you’re

own, however, and if you’re just get-

contemplating going down this route,

ting into the AR building scene, be

7.62mm AR-10 design, the AR-15 was

then there’s a plethora of information

warned — they multiply like rabbits.

developed in the 1950s. Drawing on

out there to help you get started, in-

The fact that they’re mostly black is

his aerospace engineering experience,

cluding a detailed step-by-step guide

probably a good thing; that way when

Stoner utilized the latest in materials

on RecoilWeb.com.

your significant other sees your new

and — importantly — manufacturing

Scaled down from Eugene Stoner’s

build, you can always nonchalantly

processes. He chose steel, aluminum,

AR-15, it’s possible to upgrade a

pass it off as the rifle that’s been in

and synthetic materials as well as

basic rifle to the point it’s no longer

the safe forever.

precise machining tolerances. In par-

Due to the modular nature of the

recognizable. If you’re on a budget

Iain

ticular, its modular design contributed to a weapon system that has not only stood the test of time, but has gotten even better over the years like a fine bourbon. The AR-15 platform is truly America’s rifle — the modern musket, a paragon of versatility. After a tragically rough start in the Vietnam War, the U.S. military officially adopted it as the M16A1 service rifle by the end of the decade. With continuous improvements and refinements, it’s now wielded by our warfighters, relied upon by our first responders, humped through the brush by hunters, a ubiquitous sight at ranges in the hands of competitors and recreational shooters, and the last line of defense in homes across the nation.

2

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THE INCREDIBLY VERSATILE AR-15 The AR-15’s modularity extends from muzzle to buttstock and from outside in. Everything from furniture like handguards, pistol grips, and buttstocks to key internal components like bolt carrier groups, barrels, and fire control groups can be easily configured by end users and those with armorer-level skills. The ergonomics of an AR have long been appreciated — the straight-line design makes it comfortable and controllable to shoot, the controls are well-positioned for quick and intuitive manipulation, the trigger is easily improved to perfection, and the stock accommodates different-sized shooters. The direct impingement operating system provides great potential for accuracy, and numerous other short- and long-stroke gas piston systems and conversions are a result, there’s a veritable cornuco-

be assembled on the cheap. The AR

pia of offerings on the market. The

platform is king of the hill in com-

has been much maligned, has many

timeworn adage of having the right

petitive action shooting sports, with

extremely effective loads on the

tool for the job is never truer than for

its soft recoil, accuracy, ergonomics,

market now. And for those who prefer

guns, and the AR platform allows you

and ability to be tuned exactly to your

other calibers, it’s easy to switch

to do just that.

preferences. So pro three-gunner

available for those who prefer them. Even the 5.56mm caliber, which

uppers or even acquire complete

One could almost suffer from

Nick Saiti builds a three-gun rifle on

AR rifles off the shelf in alternate

paralysis by analysis due to the huge

a moderate budget of $3,000 that’d

calibers of almost any stripe.

number of products out there. In the

work for competition as well as any

pages that follow, take a gander at

number of other purposes. And our

your AR, with a convenient Picatinny

three different examples of AR builds

own HMFIC Iain Harrison gets the

top rail making it stupid simple to

to provide inspiration and ideas.

best assignment, creating a dream

It couldn’t be easier to accessorize

mount optics of all kinds, as well as

Every red-blooded American should

gun on a hefty $7,500 budget. Please be sure to visit our website

the sheer market power of the huge

have an AR, and frequent RECOIL

installed base of AR rifles, leading to

contributor Mike Searson puts

and Facebook page to share and

a massive ecosystem of products and

together a novice-level build, showing

discuss your own builds, ideas, and

services supporting the platform. As

that a perfectly serviceable rifle can

opinions about customizing AR-15s. BROWNELLS.COM

3


BY MIKE SEARSON

T

here was a time when an urban kidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knowledge of firearms was very limited. It was a hazard of being

born and raised in New York City,

service realizing how easy it is to build

where the only people with firearms

an AR from scratch.

were either cops or criminals. That all changed at the ripe old

Back then you had few resources

AERO PRECISION AC-15 OEM RIFLE When building a rifle, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a couple choices of where to

for building an AR. You either went

start. You can buy stripped upper

age of 17 after enlisting in the Marine

the route of military surplus parts

and lower receivers and build the exact

Corps and cutting my teeth on the

kits or parts kits from questionable

rifle you want. There is a bit more skill

M16A2 service rifle.

companies that advertised in weekly

needed to build a complete rifle from

publications devoted to firearms sales.

stripped receivers, but a few special-

Marines not only learned to shoot, clean and maintain the M16, but most

The AR was still the redheaded

ized tools will make the job easier.

importantly, we learned how to break

stepchild of the firearms world, but

Alternatively, Brownells offers partially

the rifle down completely and reas-

over the years people sought out mili-

assembled OEM rifles by companies

semble it. This skill actually won the

tary guys with time on the M16/AR to

such as Aero Precision that save some

author a phone call home for being

build rifles for them on the cheap.

time and keep you from losing detent

the fastest private in the platoon to

4

spec rifle while blindfolded, I left the

Today, AR parts are easily available

springs or crushing a roll pin or two.

reassemble a rifle the first time out.

from reputable companies such as

The bolt is properly staked in the

Aside from a phone call home

Brownells that not only stock every

carrier, the gas tube perfectly aligned,

(which was an extreme rarity in the

part under the sun, but they even

and those two parts that cause us the

wireline era before cell phones, In-

have an area on their website dedi-

most grief (from a time perspective), the

ternet, email, and text) and an ability

cated to teaching people to build and

bolt catch and ejection port cover, are

to break down and reassemble a Mil-

work on their own guns.

properly installed from the beginning.

BROWNELLS.COM


AN AR BUILD FOR LESS THAN $1,500? DO TELL MORE.

FURNITURE Looking at furniture, here’s the

ACCESSORIZE One of the virtues of the AR platform

Troy 11-inch Alpha Rail in FDE.

is that you can accessorize it until your

Handguards such as this step away

heart’s content. Over the years, ARs

from the old-school Picatinny quad

have been adorned with flashlights,

rails, which add weight to the rifle

green lasers, IR lasers, night vision

and make them susceptible to rail

scopes, long-distance scopes, reflex

clutter. Troy’s handguard attaches

sights, silencers, and anything else you can think of.

The mid-length gas system is

easily and has a built-in safety design

the best fit for a 16-inch rifle. The

to prevent overtightening and causing

barrel has M4-type feed ramps and

damage to the rail or receiver.

Yet, you really only need two accessories to complete a basic rifle: a light and a sling. Those two accessories, however,

is machined from 4160 chrome-moly

Three rail segments are included

steel with a QPQ corrosion-resistant

and allow you to put your rail sections

finish. Barrel twist is a 1 in 7-inch

where you want them. It’s a good

twist that lets you run a larger variety

idea to install them before you mount

rifles, you simply installed sling swivel

of ammunition than just run-of-the-

the rail on the rifle.

studs where you needed them and

need a few adapters of their own. In the old days with wood-stocked

For a buttstock, check out the

attached your sling. For decades ARs

The factory trigger breaks at a

Magpul CTR in matching FDE. It in-

followed the military model: two sling

crisp 5.5 pounds with no creep or

stalls in seconds over the buffer tube

swivels are perfect for mounting a pa-

slop. We were considering an after-

and adds little weight to the rifle.

rade sling, but not so much for running

mill 55 grainers.

market trigger as part of this build,

Perhaps round out the basic build

a gun in the real world. You can mount a pair of flush-fitting

but decided to stick with the “if it

with a set of Magpul MBUS Gen 2

ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

Sights. Guys might have been leery

Midwest Industries QD Swivels easily

of these when they first came to mar-

on the Troy rail and CTR stock, and this

chassis that allows you to add

ket a decade ago (when many ARs

setup lets you run a Viking Tactics V-Tac

whatever custom touches you prefer

still sported carry handles ...), but

Sling with IWC QD sling attachments

when it comes to stocks, rails, sights,

most have come to find them a good

installed on the sling itself.

slings, etc. Technically it is shootable

value for irons if your rifle has none.

What you have is a perfect starter

in this skeletonized configuration if

Everything else from this point on

The V-Tac sling is more than just a carrying strap. It’s completely adjustable

you want that futuristic, retro Escape

are accessories that might not be

and can be used as a stability-enhancing

From New York look, but let’s build

essential, but add considerable utility

shooting aid — something that many

out a proper rifle.

to the rifle.

manufacturers seem to forget these days.

BROWNELLS.COM

5


Up next is the flashlight. The Stream-

dot sights have become popular and the

light Pro-Tac HL Light is an inexpensive

Vortex SPARC II offers a balance between

handheld light with three settings. The ad-

value and performance.

vantage of a light like this over a dedicated

comes with three different risers; the tall-

use it as a handheld, should you need to

est allows a co-witness arrangement with

do so. Maybe you need to sling the rifle

the Magpul BUIS. Its 2 MOA-sized dot

because you’re carrying something or

has 10 intensity levels and is night vision

someone, or you’re conducting a search

compatible. They may not be seeking any

and don’t want to point your rifle in an

military contracts, but decent shooters will

unsafe direction to use your light. It gives

be able to shoot clover leaves at 40 and

you those kinds of options.

50 yards all afternoon with it. The low price point may lead some

cated weapon light, you will need to buy

shooters to dismiss it as a budget optic or

a couple of parts to attach it to your rifle.

as an Air Soft Plus kind of deal, but it’s

The Viking Tactics Flashlight Mount bolts

durable and accurate enough for anyone in

the Pro-Tac HL to our forend. Rather than

the market for an inexpensive red dot. It’s

go with a tape switch and run a cord, look

a sight that any AR shooter can afford.

for something that would make Marine Corps drill instructors and primary marksmanship Instructors have a full-on stroke: a Magpul vertical fore grip. They have their place on full-auto guns or

PERFORMANCE

3

4

5

6

with a few hundred rounds of PMC Bronze 5.56 (also available at Brownells) and some standard GI 30-round magazines.

from sliding forward of the muzzle, but on

The SPARC II caught our eyes immedi-

a rifle they can cause you to “muscle the

ately and it co-witnessed perfectly with

weapon.” Guys got over that when they

our front sight. At 50 yards we shot two

found better ways of attaching light to rifle

quarter-sized groups. Then we turned our

than with hose clamps and electrical tape. It

attention to whacking tennis balls and

allows you to run the light better by putting

steel silhouettes at varying distances.

7

8

9

At this point we really regretted not

the switch, letting you activate and deacti-

going with a magnified optic, because the

vate the light with a single finger. Because

potential for accuracy with the Aero OEM

you’re not using a quad rail handguard, you

rifle is definitely there. A 4x scope would

have the option of grasping the handguard in

have helped us see the target better and

a traditional grip and not using the VFG if you

reduced our group size significantly.

so desire. And, options are good.

2

We took this very build out to the range

short-barreled shotguns to keep your hand

your non-shooting hand in close proximity to

1

It’s a rugged and reliable sight that

weapon light is that you can remove it and

While it’s less expensive than a dedi-

MAKE / MODEL / PRODUCT ID# / PRICE

10

11

Aero Precision has the two key elements of the rifle down to a science: the barrel

6

OK, THERE’S A THIRD ACCESSORY: OPTICS

and trigger, or as we refer to them: the

A few years back, many people would’ve

may seem very basic to many readers,

heart and soul of the gun. This rifle build but if you’re an adherent of the K.I.S.S.

mon advice would have been to put the

principle it will meet 99 percent of most

money into an improved trigger, but as

shooter’s needs for a defensive, three-gun,

age catches up with us all, easily seen red

or even a patrol carbine.

BROWNELLS.COM

Troy Industries AR-15 Alpha Rail 11-inch Handguard FDE 100-009-694 $180 Magpul AR-15/M16 CTR Mil-Spec Buttstock, Dark Earth 100-003-137 $57 Magpul AR-15/M16 MBUS Gen 2 Sight System 100-006-941 $90 Streamlight Pro Tac HL Tactical Light 100-011-262 $80 Viking Tactics Light Mount 100-004-371 $25 Magpul AR-15/M16 RVG Vertical Grips 100-005-592 $24 Vortex SPARC II Red Dot 2 MOA 100-014-334 $200 Viking Tactics V-TAC Original Sling 100-000-669 $40 Impact Weapons Components Micro Flush Quick Detach Sling Mount 100-009-719 $20 Midwest Industries Inc. AR-15/CAR-15 Quick Detach Swivel 100-003-224 $15

TOTAL:

AMMO

scoffed at optics on a basic AR. Com-

Aero Precision OEM Mid-Length 16-inch Rifle 100-018-335 $560

$1,291

PMC Ammunition Inc. X-Tac 5.56 Nato Ammunition 105-000-391 $10


1

4

2 7

10

9

BROWNELLS.COM

7


W

hat would you do with a million dollars? The freedom to choose

forges, anvils, and lengthy beards.

help things along, a starting point

Anyone who has tried to install take-

of a budget is something few people

was given. Brownells has partnered

down pins knows what I’m talking

get to experience. Initially this was

with Bravo Company Manufacturing

about. After everything is said and

the charge I received for this article.

to offer a “near complete rifle.” The

done, there’s a feeling of fulfillment

Build a good all-around AR-15 from

BCM AR-15 OEM RECCE mid-length

in putting a gun together versus buy-

the Brownells catalog. This is going

lightweight 16-inch rifle is basically

ing one off the shelf. Whether this is

to be a walk in the park. I finally

an AR-15 without a handguard or

real or not is inconsequential — it’s

have the opportunity to put together

buttstock. The thought behind this

the feeling that counts.

a dream gun. I wonder how heavy

is to give the shooter the choice to

The first step is purpose. Every

thermal scopes are?

add their preferred accessories and

shooter knows there is no such thing

create a semi-custom rifle.

as an “all-around” rifle. You need a

without the hindrance

Then came one of the weightiest

8

Now there are parameters. To

words in the English language, “But.”

Shooters have been piecing togeth-

You can build a range-ready rifle, but

er guns since the birth of gunpowder,

It’s like playing a round of golf with

you have a budget of $3,000; range

or at least since I started shooting.

only one club. Technically it can be

ready, meaning everything needed

Which is pretty much the same

done, but it won’t be pretty. You

to shoot including optics. Come on!

thing. The process usually consisted

simply can’t make it through life with

Suddenly, all the visions I had of

of scouring the land for the perfect

just one gun. This is what I have

lights, lasers, night vision, and satel-

parts then fastening it all together.

convinced my wife of anyway, and

lite dishes were circling the drain.

It’s a medieval process involving

she doesn’t even play golf.

BROWNELLS.COM

separate firearm for every activity.


THE BALANCING ACT The three most important parts of an AR are the sights, the barrel, and the trigger, with reliability as a given.

good news for heavier bullets, but

buttstocks (pun almost intended), as

might not pan out for the lighter stuff.

they are just a place to shoulder the

For now the barrel is on probation.

rifle. The important concern is to get

The rifle comes with a slew of BCM

a good cheek weld and the length

When these components are covered

upgraded parts. The mod 4 charging

of pull that you need. Adjustable

you can handle most situations within

handle is solid and has little flex with

stocks are usually a bit heavier than

reason. The tricky part of this build

one-handed manipulations. The mod

fixed. Giving up the adjustability for

was to find the balance of good and

3 pistol grip, oversized trigger guard,

a few ounces doesn’t make sense in

good enough, while staying within the

and QD endplate just made the cut.

this situation. The Magpul adaptable

budget. There are key areas in which

The PNT trigger broke at a decent 4.5

carbine storage (ACS) stock is a

you just can’t cut corners. The BCM

pounds, but when it comes to triggers,

comfortable adjustable unit that has

rifle is a great foundation for a solid

decent isn’t enough. The “stock” trig-

storage to boot. More importantly, it

build. Functionality always takes pre-

ger is the first casualty of the build.

doesn’t break the bank.

cedence over aesthetics. The upper

The JP EZ trigger comes with the

TO THE FRONT!

and lower receivers are both made

necessary trigger parts along with

from 7075-T6 aluminum and are

anti-walk pins, different-weight springs,

Type III Class 2 hardcoat anodized.

a safety, and everything needed to

searching for a handguard. First, it

The bolt is at Mil-spec standards,

install. The beauty of this trigger is its

needs to be long enough to get a

being both high-pressure tested and

adjustability. The factory rates these

stable grip on the gun and also not

magnetic particle inspected. Basical-

as being from 3 to 4.5 pounds, but I

to rest the barrel on any surface

ly, they are harder than trigonometry.

have felt a few that have gone off at

resulting in shots off target. Real

These parts can stay.

a whisper. As this is going to be an

estate is important. You want to have

all-around rifle the weight was set at 3

enough room for future additions,

setup was the barrel. This is the part

pounds, not going crazy light and still

i.e. lights, lasers, and bipods. The

that is most responsible for the accu-

having a short, positive reset. This is

Samson Evolution series 15-inch

racy, and if you can’t hit what you’re

the one part that takes some care and

handguard fit the bill. This unit does

aiming at, what’s the point? The

understanding to install. Graciously,

not offer M-LOK or even KeyMod

barrel is 16-inch, chrome-lined, light-

JP included a how-to DVD to walk me

attachments, but has its own pro-

weight profiled, with a mid-length gas

through.

prietary system for installing rails.

The biggest concern with the BCM

system. The lands and grooves make one rotation every 7 inches. This is

Now to the parts that are nonexistent. I don’t put much stock in

There are a couple of factors when

While this unit doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of others, it

BROWNELLS.COM

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5 2

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gets the job done and is most likely the easiest to install. Insert irony here. The least expensive

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GLASS CEILING The budget keeps popping up like the boss inquiring about TPS reports. All of the

ounces less than the Vortex. The only thing better than the quality of this scope is the full lifetime warranty that comes with it. When I started shooting rifles the scope

item on the list has the biggest effect

scratching, skimping, and frugality were

on the shootability. The DPMS Miculek

not in vain. My plan was to save as much

was one of the places I looked to save

compensator has three large baffles

money as possible on everything else so I

money. After traveling that road, I never

that work hard to direct gases up and

can splurge on the optic. The Vortex Razor

want to go there again. There is absolutely

away from the rifle. The comp can be

HD 2 was the goal, but alas the numbers

no substitute for quality glass. Go to any

rotated to tune it for the most effective

just didn’t add up. Unless I could figure

precision rifle match. I dare you to find a

redirection of muzzle energy. The general

out a way to shoot without a buttstock

scope that costs less than the rifle.

consensus is to rotate the comp to the

or handguard I was out of luck. So I had

1 o’clock position to compensate a

to settle for the Leupold VX-6 1-6 power

able mount has to go with it. I can’t seem

right-handed shooter’s hold.

scope with a CMR2 reticle. I say “settle,”

to think of the right words to convey to an

Now that the scope is selected, a suit-

A small, powerful, and rugged light

only because the price is a little less, but

intruder that they should hold on while

is a definite necessity. Imagine trying to

this scope gives every bit as much as the

I tighten my scope mount. That would

investigate that bump in the night without

Razor HD 2 and in some places more. It’s

be embarrassing. Warne makes a quality

a light. The Streamlight TLR-1 Hl weapon-

a true one-power scope, meaning it can

product that has been tested through

light fits these criteria perfectly. Made out

be used as a red dot optic. Although the

the rigors of competition. This is a good

of shock-resistant aluminum and produc-

illumination is not quite daylight visible,

place to finish the build, “But.” Brownells

ing a whopping 800 lumens, it is hard to

the clarity of the glass makes up for it. All

is the one-stop shop for every gunsmith

beat this little gem, especially for $140.

this and it weighs in at a mammoth 10

and serious shooter I know. I imagine it

BROWNELLS.COM


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There were a couple of honorable mentions on the parts list. If I just had

MAKE / MODEL / PRODUCT ID# / PRICE

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a little more money an adjustable gas block and a throw lever for the scope would have made the cut. I had to re-

2

mind myself that this was not a dream build, but an exercise in budgeting.

ON THE RANGE

3

Now to reap the rewards of all the work, I finally get to shoot this thing! I ran a few run-and-gun-style stages, and as I

4

suspected the AR was flat. In shooting, as opposed to my singing, flat is a good thing. With all the lightweight parts, the

3

5

gun was very balanced and easy to swing. A common selection of ammo was used in testing accuracy. The worst 100-yard

like Santa’s workshop, with gun elves

group was accomplished with 55-grain

scurrying about franticly with firearms

XM193 at 1.367 inches, and the best

and ammo all around them. In the hustle

group with Federal 69-grain SMK at

and bustle, things get overlooked and

0.657 inch. This lay to rest my probation-

the Warne mount was out of stock at the

ary concern of the barrel’s accuracy.

time. I chose an Aero Precision Ultralight

Separately, the parts for this build

SPR mount. This has everything I need

hardly raise an eyebrow, but combined

in a mount that’s rigid and lightweight.

they present a rifle of unexecpected

I rack this up to the cost of having

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capability. This is the closest you can

one place where you can build a gun

get to an “all-around” rifle, holding

from the ground up and not have to

its own in any situation you can throw

leave the confines of your living room.

at it. It would be a stretch to take it

It’s a far cry from the old days where

on a hunting trip, but game has been

you would run up your phone bill

taken with lesser guns. In the end, this

tracking down parts from the farthest

is a scenario I didn’t expect — “good

reaches. With Brownells the farthest

enough” parts came together to make a

you might have to go is to the mailbox.

great gun.

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Samson Manufacturing Evolution Series 15” handguard 100-011-403 $190 DPMS AR-15 Miculek Comp 231-000-038 $40 Magpul AR-15/M16 ACS Mil-Spec Buttstock 100-003-527 $85 Leupold VX-6 1-6x24mm Multigun CDS Scope 526-000-240 $1,200 Aero Precision Ultralight SPR Scope Mount 953-000-013 $95 JP Enterprises AR-15 / 308 AR EZ trigger 452-000-120 $190 Streamlight TLR-1 HL Weaponlight 100-011-713 $140 Midwest Industries AR-15/M16 M-LOK Aluminum Rail Sections 100-016-991 $17 (x2)

10 Magpul

MS4 Dual Quick Detach Multi Mission Sling System 100-013-980 $57 11 Magpul

AR-15/M16 PMAG 30-Round Gen 3 Magazines 100-011-220 $14 (x2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TOTAL:

AMMO

Nick Saiti has been a world-class competitive shooter for over 10 years and is a 4 division USPSA Grand Master. As impressive as he is to watch behind an Open division pistol, he’s currently third in the nation in the sport of three-gun. Considering himself a professional gunslinger he happily imparts his unique perspective and knowledge teaching at www.secretweapontraining.com.

Bravo Company AR-15 OEM Recce Mid-Length Lightweight 16-inch Rifle 100-019-539 $900

$2,959

Federal Gold Medal Match 223 Rem 69-grain 105-200-477 $27

PMC Bronze 223 Rem 55-grain 105-000-350 $8

BROWNELLS.COM

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L

ook, we get it. Not everyone has the scratch to put together a build like this, and just about all of us can

come up with more pressing applications for seven G’s. But sometimes you just gotta go with the premium

government-profile barrels became

product. After years of building rifles

all the rage, despite being the most

for competition, hunting, training,

idiotic shape ever devised — if

and self-defense, there comes a time

anti-gun politicians sought to ban

cheap, but they manage to shave a

in a man’s life when all those times

rifles based on looks, we can only

couple of ounces from the overall

you decided to substitute the cheaper

surmise that the public bought them

total and the only way to get to our

component, or delayed gratification

for the same reason. Fortunately, the

weight limit is by an ounce here and

in order to wait for a special offer,

wheel of fashion turns and the AR is

a gram there.

eventually pay off. This is our dream

slowly getting back to its roots, so we

Two more ounces are saved

rifle, and this is why we chose the

decided to see if all of the additional

through the use of a Rubber City

components we did.

functionality and refinements of the

Armory lightweight bolt carrier group,

last 20 years could be squeezed into

but perhaps more importantly, the

stripped-down carbine and slowly,

a carbine that weighed about the

carbine’s recoil impulse is softened,

like a faded, middle-aged action mov-

same as the original.

as there’s less disturbance as the

The AR-15 started out as a lithe,

ie star, succumbed to the vicissitudes

12

Our build started with a matched

bolt slams home. RCA employs salt

of a Vegas buffet diet. The AR porked

set of receivers from Battle Arms

bath nitriding as a means of surface

out. At the end of the last century,

Development. Milled from 7075

hardening both bolt and carrier,

it seemed the prevailing mindset

aluminum bar stock and heat treated

which increases lubricity and corro-

was that naked rails were a very bad

to a T6 temper, they’re plenty strong

sion resistance to levels above that of

thing, so all sorts of crap needed

and have had every bit of excess fat

hard chrome.

to be bolted on in order to maintain

trimmed away. Additional time on

One of the most critical compo-

the gun’s modesty. Sixteen-inch

a CNC machine means they’re not

nents of any build is the barrel, and

BROWNELLS.COM


stiffening it and improving its thermal

stock mechanism ultimately won

transfer properties. The result is a

out. Teaming it with a Battle Arms

lightweight barrel that performs like a

Development Sabertube allowed us

heavyweight — perfect for this rifle.

to eliminate a conventional stock and

As we’d already decided on using a

save a couple of ounces there, while

it’s also the place where the biggest

Gemtech ONE suppressor for this

the folder enables the carbine to fit

weight savings are possible. In past

project, an adjustable gas block was

inside a backpack, without having to

builds we’ve used pencil profile

added to the parts list in order to man-

be disassembled.

tubes when the rifle is designed to

age gas flow and reduce the amount of

be carried much and shot little, but

propellant coming back at us.

their lack of thermal mass means

There’s not much point in creating

In order to bridge the gap between bolt carrier and buffer created by the folding stock mechanism’s additional

that they heat up very rapidly when

an intrinsically accurate rifle if the

length, LAW employs a steel plug

shot, which more often than not

human directing it can’t utilize that

which sticks out of the carrier’s rear

leads to a degradation in accuracy.

accuracy. Stuffing a gritty, 7-pound

end. This adds a little mass to the

Given the high quality of this build,

GI trigger in a high-end carbine is

reciprocating parts, so in order to

we wanted to be able to get solid,

like wearing old work boots with a be-

maintain our anorexic program, we

600-meter head shots after dumping

spoke suit — there’s a time and place

gutted the sliding weights from buffer.

a mag into close range targets, so a

for both, and this ain’t it. Two-stage

These typically act to counteract bolt

lightweight profile barrel might be

triggers are favored for long-range

carrier bounce in full-auto fire, but

good for hitting our weight goal, but

work, while single-stage units are at

as this build is strictly semi-auto, we

wouldn’t be much good for hitting

home while hammering close range

felt no remorse in taking them out.

anything else.

targets. The AR Gold drop-in unit

Returning the working parts to battery

spans both of these applications as

was handled by a JP tuned recoil

solid reputation when it comes to

it’s a two stage with a very short, light

spring, which, thanks to being ground

producing consistently accurate,

first stage and an even shorter reset,

and polished is smoother than a con-

lightweight barrels through the use

so given its jack-of-all-trades demean-

ventional music wire spring.

of a carbon-fiber wrapping process.

or, we added it to the spec sheet.

Proof Research has developed a

In it, a conventional, match-grade

The next set of components had

We’d initially ordered a Seekins NOXS 12-inch handguard to

stainless steel barrel is turned down

us struggling to justify the increased

cover our carbon fiber barrel. While

to sub-pencil diameter, then carbon-fi-

weight, but the additional utility

lightweight, contoured and sexy, the

ber filaments are wound around it,

offered by the LAW Tactical folding

BAD receivers were also very picky

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regarding the forend theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d accept. Several options were tried and each presented the same problem, namely a

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one of our test shooters thinking that he

1/8-inch wide gap at the top rail. After

At the sharp end, the finishing touch

much trial and error, a Bravo Company

was provided by a Gemtech Quickmount,

was laying down rounds with a brake-

KMR Alpha 13-inch rail was settled

which interfaces with their cans to

equipped carbine.

upon. While we could have knocked 2

permit removal after heavy doses of sus-

So was the goal achieved? Yes and no.

ounces off the total weight by going with

tained fire. Although itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strictly a flash

While the carbine we built tipped the

the magnesium alloy version, it seemed

hider with no recoil reducing properties,

scales at a rather appealing 6 pounds, 2

like everyone else in AR-land had come

the combination of a tuned gas system

ounces, we completely blew the budget

to the same conclusion.

and reduced reciprocating mass left

when it came to the optic. Figuring

BROWNELLS.COM

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MAKE / MODEL / PRODUCT ID# / PRICE

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that you only live once, we picked the most bad ass, versatile carbine scope in existence. The only downside to the magnificent Leupold Mk 8 (apart from

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its stratospheric price tag) is its weight. True, it feels like you could use it as a pry bar or to subdue unruly bar patrons, but the downside to its robust construc-

7

tion is that it feels like you’re zip tying a brick to the upper receiver. Still, we’d saved so much weight in other areas

8

that we felt justified in adding it to the carbine. At least, that’s what we kept telling ourselves. One of the great appealing features

9

of the AR-15 as a platform is the nearly infinite number of component variations. We don’t claim to have put together the ultimate AR, but this one’s a rifle that

10

blows up our skirt when it comes to quality components. No doubt you’ll have your own opinions regarding the parts we picked, but that’s the great thing about this nation and free enterprise — you’re entirely at liberty to pick whatever you

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Battle Arms Development Inc. AR-15 BAD556-LW Lightweight Billet Receiver Set 100-016-158 $500 Proof Research AR-15 / 308 AR Carbine Fiber Barrel 100-018-045 $940 Seekins Precision AR-15/M16 Adjustable Gas Block 100-011-244 $58 WMD Guns AR-15 Nitromet Gas Tube 100-010-979 $17 Gemtech One Suppressor 7.62mm NATO Quick Detach 100-019-855 $1,100 Bravo Company KMR ALPHA Keymod Handguard, 13-inch 100-018-333 $190 AXTS Weapons AR-15 Raptor Charging Handle 5.56 100-011-154 $86 Rubber City Armory AR-15 Low Mass 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group 100-017-608 $250 Bravo Company AR-15 BCMGunfighter Pistol Grip MOD-2 100-014-276 $30 Battle Arms Development Inc AR-15/M16 Sabertube Quick Detach Buttstock 100-021-002 $180 American Trigger Corporation AR-15/M16 Gold Trigger Module 100-004-262 $284

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Leupold Mark 8 Close Quarters Battle Sniper Scope 526-000-136 $3,000 13

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JP Enterprises AR-15/M16/308 AR Tuned Buffer Spring 452-000-118 $19 CMMG (not pictured) AR-15 Lower Gunbuilder’s Lower Parts Kit 100-014-538 $47 Battle Arms Development AR-15 Ambidextrous Safety Selector SS 100-016-586 $79 Law Tactical AR-15/M16 GEN3-M Folding Stock Adapter 100-015-850 $220 Battle Arms Development AR-15/M16 Enhanced Pin Sets 100-015-185 $37 Bobro Dual Lever Precision Optics Mount 34mm 100-203-561 $325 Viking Tactics V-TAC Padded Sling 100-002-868 $45 Gemtech AR-15 Quickmount Phantom Flash Hider 100-015-089 $100 Bravo Company AR-15 BCMGunfighter Vertical Grip Short KEYMOD 100-015-178 $40 Troy Industries AR-15/M16 Folding Battle Sight Set 100-011-225 $220

want to scratch the rifle building itch, and there are a huge number of companies out there to help you do it.

TOTAL:

$7,767 BROWNELLS.COM

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