5.56mm vs. 223

LuckyGunner (who now has a blog) looks at the difference in depth. As in pretty darned serious depth. Good stuff.

CNCing an AR-15 Lower from Delrin Plastic

Jason at Shall Not Be Questioned followed up on his CNC-milled aluminum AR-15 lower with a CNC-milled Delrin AR-15 lower.

How meaningful is gun control in a world of Internet CAD files, CNC machines, and 3D printers?

Which AR-15 Collapsible Stock is the Toughest?

Military Time GearScoutButtstock Bashfest: GearScout finds out just how far tough talk goes

MagPul stocks take the top two honors. Via Linoge.

Bonus! Cheaper Than Dirt’s Best-Selling AR-15s of 2011. I like this Colt SP6920 with MagPul MOE furniture. I never have pulled the trigger (enjoy the pun!) on an AR-15. I’ve always found another place I thought I could get more bang for my buck (more puns), like camera equipment. I’ll get around to it one of these days.

History of the AR-15 Forward Assist

Eugene Stoner thought it was a bad idea and the different branches of the armed forces fought over it. See the PDF at that link.

A survival plan everyone needs

Tam on James Wesley Rawles’ new book:

It’s very well organized and focuses on plenty of seemingly mundane and practical things, like food, medicine, communications, dealing with neighbors and forming strong communities, unlike a lot of other “survival manuals” that are five chapters of gun wanking sandwiched between an introduction, two pages about beef jerky and astronaut ice cream, and the index. (Incidentally, my roomie, super radio alpha geekette extraordinaire, found no major nitpicks in the section on communications…)

Remember: Preparedness isn’t just about being prepared for Armageddon, it’s about being prepared for almost anything: blizzard, blackout, hurricane, job layoff… This book is an excellent look at the proper mindset and preparations for being ready for life’s curve balls.

Didja notice that one wild, out-there scenario – “job layoff”?

It’s amazing how many “survival” plans don’t make any arrangements for something as common as not having a job for six months. In this wildly unlikely apocalyptic scenario a mere mortal might be expected to somehow accomplish the heroic feats of not having the power cut off, reigning victorious against the forces of not having his car repossessed – not by shooting the repo man but by not getting behind on his car payment to begin with – and defending the sanctity of the family domicile by not having the mortgage company righteously and legally foreclose on his deadbeat ass.

Some online survivalists find it easy to rationalize mis-allocation of funds. “The UN invasion of the U.S. could happen simultaneously with a bird flu epidemic and an F10 earthquake. I’d better max out the credit card and buy a generator, 50 cases of MREs, another AR-15, and 10,000 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition.”

Going in debt to buy crap is not really a great plan for securing your family’s future. I’m all for reasonable preparedness, but preparedness involves insuring against events based on their likelihood and the cost of insuring against them. A power outage or a blizzard that lasts a few days aren’t uncommon events and they’re cheap to insure against. The End of the World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) is unlikely and it’s expensive to insure against.

A better bet for a rational person is to live in the economic reality they’re most likely to face. What’s your plan if you lost your job tomorrow?

  • Do you have credit card debt and can you service it without a job?
  • Could you make the payments on your car using your unemployment benefits?
  • Could you pay rent or make the payments on your house with the money in your savings account?
  • Could you keep up with other expenses such as gasoline bills, utilities and phone bills with your emergency fund?

If you answered “no” to any of the above you’ve got more pressing problems than surviving TEOTWAWKI. Act accordingly.

Previously –¬† Where do you put money if you’re concerned about bank failures?

MSNBC claims black man is evidence of white people being racist

A black guy who doesn’t like Obama shows up at a political protest with an AR-15 rifle and a pistol on his hip. MSNBC runs a clip carefully designed to show the rifle, but not the guy’s black skin. MSNBC reporter says she’s disturbed by “racial overtones” of these “white people” showing up with guns because they don’t like having a black president.

Anyone else getting tired of being called a racist because of the color of your skin? Or more likely because your politics don’t align with the Obamessiah.

Lots of people are covering this today. Ace of Spades has the best video clips.

More 10/22 goodies

Check it out. Ruger 10/22 bullpup conversion with walnut Steyr AUG stock.

Practical? Beats me. Pretty nifty, though.

FWIW, someone on The High Road had good things to say about the item just below that at the link, their combination extended mag release and bolt hold open. “A true extended mag release drops mags fast and clear. Pull the lever back while holding the bolt open, effortlessly activates bolt hold open.”

I really dig the looks of the Tactical Solutions magazine release, which has that falling block lever look. TacSol makes all kinds of 10/22 accessories, from receivers to lightweight aluminum barrels with steel cores and threaded ends. They even make suppressors to fit on that threaded end.

For .22 pistols TacSol has lightweight aluminum barrels with steel liners and optional threaded ends and scope rails: the PacLite for Rugers and Trail-Lites for Browning Buckmarks. I’ve shot Dave D.’s Buckmark with a threaded Trail-Lite and liked it a bunch. Every TacSol barrel I’ve handled has had unusually good machining and finishing.

Volquartsen, Tactical Innovations, MOA, and Tactical Solutions make 10/22 receivers. Someone else has one with a Picatinny rail and hooded AR-15 rear sight. Darned if I could find it in a Google search, though. If you know the link post it in comments. LATER: jcmiller in comments found it: NoDak Spud NDS-22 receivers. They’re affordable, too, at $160.

Impractical but cool guns – the AR-7

Tam started a meme: guns that are impractical, but cool.

My pick is the AR-7. It’s cool but not very practical.

Why it’s cool

  • It was designed by Eugene Stoner, who designed the AR-15/M-16.
  • Thanks to aluminum and plastic parts it weights just 2.5 pounds and is largely impervious to rust.
  • The barrel unscrews from the action, instantly cutting the stored size in half.
  • The barrel, action, and magazine can be stowed in the buttstock, making for an unbelievably compact design.
  • When thus stowed the whole thing floats. It was originally designed to be a survival rifle for downed Air Force pilots.
  • James Bond used one. So did Maxwell Smart.
  • You can insert the AR-7 into all sorts of wild-eyed fantasies of surviving alone in the wilderness.

Why it’s impractical

  • Magazine capacity tops out at 25 rounds and those are hard to find. Most people live with 10 round mags.
  • The gun has never had a reputation for accuracy or reliability.
  • Sight adjustments are crude.
  • The ergonomics are hella uncomfortable. You have to hunch your body around the gun to get your eyeball aligned with the sights.
  • Armalite couldn’t make money on the design so they sold it to Century Charter Arms, who couldn’t make any money so they sold it to Henry Repeating Arms. That’s not a good sign.
  • Here’s the killer: there are much better guns available that do pretty much the same thing.

Example. The Marlin Papoose/70P has a barrel that unscrews. The gun floats when cocooned inside the factory storage case. The Papoose is as accurate and reliable as other Marlins such as the venerable Model 60, weighs just 3.25 pounds, and unlike the AR-7 has studs for sling swivels. Newer Papoose models are made from stainless steel and plastic for worry-free carry in Argentina’s rainy season.

For that matter, if you own the ever-popular Ruger 10/22 you can remove the barrel and action from the stock in 10 seconds flat by removing a single screw using a screwdriver or a coin from your pocket. Unlike the AR-7 you can fire the 10/22 while it’s thus disassembled.

Not only can you find plenty of high capacity magazines for the 10/22, you can start with a factory 10/22 and gradually replace every single part until there’s nothing left that was made by Ruger. A Ruger 10/22 has more accessories than a teenaged transgendered schizophrenic.

Back from the Maryville gun show

Went with Uncle. It was a small show, so we walked around it twice. Some of the big guys I expect at the Knoxville shows – Georgia Arms and the people with big display cases of magazines – weren’t there. I saw some nice older Smith & Wesson revolvers.

Because of fears over another ban any “black” semi-automatics are fetching high prices. A lowly Hi-Point carbine that sold for $150 a year ago had a $299 price tag. Glock 31 round magazines that I bought for $30 just after the election were going for $75.

AR-15s are sky high. Uncle pointed to a complete lower with a collapsible buttstock for $499. Bear in mind that isn’t even a complete gun – it still needs an upper to work and the upper will cost $500 or more even for a cheap one, assuming you can find one.

I took a pass on the guns and bought ammo, which is also scarce and expensive these days. I snagged 200 rounds of Winchester white box 9mm at $30/hundred and 100 rounds of WWB .45 ACP for $40.

New pocket knife

The only other thing I bought was a new pocketknife. I’ve been carrying a Buck Strider Tarani 882 for a couple of years. It’s an extremely well made knife and I like the ergonomics, but the weight and the sharp edges of the G10 scales wore holes in all of my pants pockets. I tried carrying it by the clip, but that didn’t work for me because of knife’s blockiness and weight – it tended to bang on doorways and block my hand from going into the pocket. The Tarani is a good knife, just not a good pocketknife for me.

I just bought three new pairs of pants yesterday, so now seemed like a good time for a new pocketknife. I picked up a Benchmade 550HG Griptilian. It’s a one hand opening, lockblade folding knife. The Mel Pardue blade is a modified sheepsfoot profile with a thumbhole.

I’ve tried carrying most of the designs for opening a knife with one hand – the thumbstud, the thumbhole, and the flipper – and the thumbhole is the one that works for me every time without really having to even think about it. The only design I haven’t tried is the patented Emerson Wave, which Spyderco is now using under license. The Wave seems like it would be mighty hard on the pants. In that YouTube clip the guy’s pantspocket is worn ragged.

This is my first Benchmade, but the company has a good rep. This knife has their signature ambidextrous Axis lock, which is supposed to be rock solid. The lock offers a very slight bit of resistance to opening, which should help it stay closed in the pocket. That same action helps it snap all the way shut when closing.

Weight is about 2/3rds of the Buck Tarani and there aren’t any sharp edges outside of the obvious one, which was very sharp out of the box. I’ll touch it up on the Spyderco Sharpmaker tonight. According to the owner’s manual Benchmade knives include a lifetime sharpening service. Send the knife to Benchmade with $5 to cover shipping and handling and they’ll sharpen your knife and return it. Nice.

P.S. I never got around to sharpening it, but this knife is much sharper than my old one (which I sharpened at home and also had a pass by the professional knife sharpener at the Knoxville gun show). The new knife is slightly narrower at the spine than the old one, but the grind is much more aggressive. The new blade isn’t quite as sturdy – I won’t be as carefree about prying with this as the old one – but the narrower profile is better for slicing and kitchen-type tasks.

Brownell’s has their AR-15 magazines

Last night I ordered a half dozen Brownell’s 30 round AR-15 magazines. They were listed as backordered, but I received email tonight saying they had shipped.

Chris Byrne has a comparison of different AR-15 magazines, and he liked the Brownell’s, so that’s why I bought those.

Pictures and Ruger 10/22 notes from the Manchester, TN Appleseed shoot

Manchester, TN Court House

Notes and pictures from last weekend’s trip to the Appleseed rifle training class at Arnold Air Force Base in Manchester, TN.

Ruger 10/22s

Gun-wise, way more than half of the shooters were using the Ruger 10/22. It’s accurate, affordable, shoots cheap .22 LR ammo, you can buy one at your local Wal-Mart, and there’s a smorgasbord of aftermarket accessories. All of the 10/22s had Tech-Sight aperture sights except for a few scope users. There were also a couple of AR-15s, some SKSes, an M1 Carbine, and a few bolt-action .22s. Someone had an M1A, but it seemed like it was just being shot every now and then for fun.

The 10/22s in Manchester went from mostly off the shelf except for the ubiquitous Tech-Sights to models customized with bull barrels and benchrest-style thumbhole stocks. A heavy benchrest barrel is probably an impediment at Appleseed. It won’t shrink your groups much, but it will tire you out over the course of hundreds of rounds fired each day.

The only person to shoot rifleman the first day was Sean, who was shooting next to me. He was using a mostly-stock 10/22 with a carbine-length, tapered barrel that he bought used at a gun show. The only mods he was aware of were the Tech-Sights and Hogue overmolded stock (which is also a factory option). He’s active military and is a scout for his squad. He didn’t use the more-stable loop sling because he felt that he wouldn’t have time to get into it, but he managed to easily shoot Rifleman using the hasty sling.

On the second day Yvette, a mother of six, shot rifleman. (She’s the lady in Oleg’s pictures.) She was also shooting a 10/22 with a few minor modifications (I dig that extended bolt handle), but with a factory stock and tapered barrel.

Lance was the third person to shoot rifleman. As I recall he was shooting a blued, wood stock 10/22 with a tapered carbine barrel. I think he may have been using a scope. Lance and Yvette both shot with a loop sling.


Going into the first day I had all seven of my magazines stoked, thinking I’d have a hard time keeping up with reloading. It turns out there was always plenty of time to reload magazines between courses without rushing.

I had the impression that I’d need high capacity magazines for Appleseed, so I brought three Butler Creek Steel Lips 25 rounders to go with four factory 10 rounders. When I was sighting in the week before I had some jams with the Butler Creek mags, so I was disinclined to use them.

It turns out you never need more than 10 rounds during an Appleseed course of fire, so the 10 rounders were fine. You do need at least two magazines for courses that require magazine changes (loaded either 2 and 3 rounds or 2 and 8 rounds). A third or fourth magazine is a good idea in case one magazine develops problems.

Speaking of which, my Ruger factory 10 rounders worked fine the week before and on the first day, but I had failures to feed on two magazines the second day at Appleseed. I’m new to the 10/22 so it’s possible I didn’t clean or lube the gun properly, so I need to work on that. An instructor told me he has had problems with factory 10/22 mags so he always keeps a spare on the mat in case of magazine issues. That’s good advice.

My factory magazines did not go into the gun very smoothly. I had to wrestle with them a little to get them in. I need to see what I can do to improve that. One nice thing about the 25 round Butler Creek magazines is that they stick out of the gun far enough that you can can get a good handhold on them to stick them into the rifle.

10/22 Tech-Sights

The only thing that’s absolutely critical to replace on the 10/22 is the sights. The standard folding leaf sights are too hard to see and they can’t be adjusted precisely. Every 10/22 shooter at Manchester who wasn’t using a scope was using Tech-Sights.

Tech-Sights use an aperture rear sight. Normal leaf or open sights use a flat rear blade with a notch cut out. To align the sights you place the front sight in the notch. That requires your eye to do the impossible: focus on the nearby rear sight and the faraway front sight simultaneously. You can’d do it, so one of the sights is always fuzzy.

An aperture rear sight is a circle that you let go blurry.¬†Just position the front sight at the center of the circle. Your eye does this naturally, so you don’t even have to think about it. The Tech-Sight is mounted farther back than the factory rear sight, and adds about eight inches to the sight radius to increase accuracy.

Tech-Sight installation and adjustment

To install the new front sight tap out the old one. The instructions say to use a brass punch and hammer. I don’t own a brass punch, so I used a steel punch I had handy and covered it with two small pieces of duct tape to keep from scratching up the old sight. A half dozen mild taps were enough to push out the factory front sight.

The new front sight didn’t want to go in. After repeated taps failed to nudge it in I used a file to lightly file down the leading edge of the new sight using about as much pressure as you’d use to file your nails. One stroke didn’t do it – it still wouldn’t quite go in. After the second stroke of the file I was able to get the front sight into the dovetail. I only took a tiny, tiny amount of material off to make it fit. After the front sight was in I used the supplied set screw and hex head wrench to screw it into place so it wouldn’t come loose, with a dab of blue Loctite threadlocking compound on the screw to glue it in place.

The rear sight gets screwed into the holes in the receiver for the rear scope mount. Just remove the filler screws and screw in the rear sight, again using a little blue Loctite to keep the screws from backing out. You can fold down the factory rear sight and leave it in place, or drift it out with a punch just like you did with the front sight. I left mine in for now, and it never got in my way.

If you buy Tech-Sights you’ll want the sight adjustment tool, which is the same as an AR-15 sight adjustment tool. To adjust the rear sight for windage rotate the adjustment wheel clockwise to move the bullets to the right, and counterclockwise to move the bullets to the left. To adjust the front sight for elevation turn the sight clockwise to move the bullets up and counterclockwise to move the bullets down.

I liked the Tech-Sights on the 10/22 so much I want to get a set for my SKS.


Appleseed teaches use of the sling in all shooting positions. They recommend a military web sling, which I bought in preparation for the class.

Then I got jammed up. Two nights before I hit the road I discovered the sling was slightly too wide to fit into the factory sling mounts on my rifle. The next night after work I scrambled to find some that were wide enough, but couldn’t, so I bought a Gander Mountain hunting sling that came with mounts.

The hunting sling was wide at the top to spread the weight over the shoulder. That extra width made the hunting sling a bit unwieldy to get my left hand around it in a hasty sling setup. The second day an instructor offered me some sling mounts to work with my GI web sling (thanks, Steve). The narrower military sling wraps easily around my hand and doesn’t get in the way. By unclipping it from the back of the gun you can wrap it around your bicep for a loop sling setup.

P.S. In this long post about guns there isn’t a single gun picture. During the class there was too much to do and think about when we were shooting or getting ready for the next course. During the day my camera never left the car. Other people took pictures, though, and you can see them at the Appleseed forums.

P.P.S. Many thanks to the all-volunteer staff of Appleseed for running a great class, and thanks to Dave D. for helping me get the 10/22 ready for the class.

Home from Appleseed
Ruger 10/22 buying advice
Ruger 10/22 parts – anything else I need?

Ruger 10/22 parts – anything else I need?

I’m getting ready for the Manchester, TN Appleseed shoot September 20-21. I bought a 10/22 a few weeks ago. On Friday I went shooting at Dave D’s. He let me try a couple of his 10/22 builds to see what I liked.

I definitely dug the Tech-Sight. I liked the aperture rear sight which is what I expected and also really liked the tall, skinny AR-15 front sight included with the Tech-Sight kit. I’m definitely buying a TSR100 and a sight adjustment tool.

I shot one of Dave’s 10/22s with a Volquartsen hammer that lowered the trigger pull to around 2.5 pounds. That’s definitely on the list. I liked it much better than the factory trigger pull, which wasn’t terrible to begin with.

I didn’t have any extraction problems Friday but I’m taking his advice and picking up a Volquartsen Clean Edge extractor. Even if I don’t install it right away I figure it’s good to have a spare extractor around. They’re one of the most-broken parts on an autoloader. Along that same line of thought I’m ordering a spare Ruger factory steel firing pin. At $2.99 it’s cheap insurance.

From everything I’v read slings are a big part of Appleseed training. I’ve found a couple of slings at Cheaper Than Dirt and Midway USA. I can’t tell from the pictures or description if they’ll work in the hasty sling configuration. I’d really appreciate it if anyone can point me to slings on either of those sites that would work well for Appleseed.

Dave showed me auto bolt releases and extended magazine releases. They were kind of cool, but I may wait on those for now. I’m starting to get the hang of the 10/22’s funky bolt release, which requires you to press it and release it while holding the bolt to the rear. It’s odd from a UI point of view, but it works.

Magazine-wise I’m buying a couple Butler Creek Steel Lips 25 rounders and some Ruger clear factory 10 rounders.

Anything else I should get while I’m shopping?

Bought a gun at Wal-Mart for the first time

Next month I’m attending an Appleseed shoot in Manchester, TN. None of my guns is quite right for an Appleseed shoot, and the 10/22 is their recommended gun barring anything else appropriate.

Friday I strolled into the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart to look at .22 rifles. I was glad to see L. manning the counter. (Doesn’t everyone know their Wal-Mart gun counter clerk by name?)

I asked to see the Ruger 10/22 in the rack. L. said he loved his. I mentioned why I wanted it and he had heard of the shoot I was going to, and we swapped stories about travelling that part of Tennessee on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. Another customer came by and endorsed the 10/22. He had replaced the barrel and stock on his with custom parts. (The 10/22 rifle along with the AR-15 rifle and Colt 1911 pistol is one of the most accessorized and customized guns in America. You can replace every single part on those gun with a different part made by someone other than the original manufacturer.)

To buy a gun in the United States you have to provide a photo ID and fill out an ATF form 4473. I’ve done it more than a few times, but Wal-Mart was by far the most exacting about it. As L. told me, “You’ve probably filled out one of these before, but it’s a little different at Wal-Mart.” He cautioned me that Wal-Mart doesn’t accept abbreviations. I’d have to spell out Tennessee and Street, Avenue, etc., and that I’d have to give the year of my birth in four digits.

When I finished the the 4473 I was asked to put N/A in spaces I had left blank, such as my Social Security number, which is optional. The form went to NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) for approval. A little while later NICS came back an approval number. An assistant manager and co-manager came to the gun counter to verify the paperwork and to make sure the serial number on the paperwork matched the serial number on the gun.

After I paid one of the managers escorted me to the exit. He carried the gun, not me. On the way to the exit he told me I’d need my receipt. At the exit he asked the greeter to check my receipt, even though he had watched me pay. Lots of folks are unhappy about Wally World’s rules for buying guns, but I guess they feel the need to protect themselves from potential liability. I knew what to expect and it didn’t bother me.

Ruger makes several dozen variations on the popular 10/22. The one I bought isn’t listed on Ruger’s Web site because it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive. It has a 22″ stainless steel barrel, a little nicer stock than the standard Ruger 10/22 Carbine with checkering and no barrel band, a longer length-of-pull better suited to an adult than a youth, and standard sling swivels. Price was $238 before tax.

The Appleseed folks recommend folding down the 10/22’s standard folding sight and instead using a TechSight brand aperture sight. That works for me – I much prefer aperture sights to open sights. The Tech-Sight extends the sight radius another eight inches and is easier to adjust for windage and elevation than the 10/22’s standard sight. For sixty bucks or so the TechSight is a square deal.

What’s in a Name?

Reporters love using the term “assault rifle.” So much so that after the Virginia Tech shooting they called Cho’s Glock an “assault pistol” even though the Glock is by far the most common police handgun in America. Whatever sells papers, I guess.

Uncle has the latest, in which an AR-15 is an assault rifle when in the hands of citizens, but a “patrol rifle” when used by a police. You’ve heard the story this week of a spurned deputy who went nuts and used his department-issued AR-15 to kill six people? CNN is calling his AR-15 a “police-style” rifle.

How to Survive and Prosper in the Coming Scooperocalypse

Lately I’ve noticed that cans of things that used to include scoops – coffee, for instance – no longer come with scoops.

It’s as if the new Kraft Foods announced that eliminating scoopers would save millions of dollars and put the company on a path to record earnings.

All across America families are transferring the old scooper to the new coffee can, baby formula can, and drink mix can. Millions of homes are one careless moment away from tossing away their only scooper. With no more being made, scooped food will be a thing of the past.

How should you prepare for the coming Scooperocalypse? Everyone else who’s predicting dire events suggests buying gold and guns. Therefore I’m recommending that your Scooperocalypse plans include stockpiling gold double eagle coins, an AR-15 rifle and ammunition, and enough scoopers for your entire family and unprepared neighbors. You may even want to buy additional scoopers to barter in the coming scooper-based economy. Buy them as soon as possible before runaway scooperflation sets in.