Editorial: Modernizing the Wheel vs. Newly Invented

I was talking with someone the other night about guns (Yes, I do talk about other things than guns… sometimes) when they asked what I thought was the 5 top new innovations were in the industry. This is a topic I have been wanting to write about for a while, I just have never had the words.

M1 vs SCAR

When it comes to the gun industry we have cycles we go through. The inventing and learning cycle and what I call the modernizing of the wheel. In the inventing and learning cycle we have invented things like the tube sights for long distance shooting and learned things like rifling. With the modernizing the wheel cycle, which we are currently in, we are just finding ways to make these older designs fit the 21 century.

In the 1950s and 1960s the .308 Winchester and the .223 Remington made their debut in the in the shooting world and we are still using them as a our standard calibers. The FN-H SCAR is a modernized version of the FAL. The target cameras are the updated version of a spotting scope.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with the advancements we have made. However, I want to see something new. I want to live in a time like my grandfathers era when a lot of new things were introduced.  He saw the explosion of “modern guns with the invention of the  “plastic gun” or “black gun”, He also saw the invention of the standardized 30 round magazines as well as being able to control the muzzle climb with an intermediate cartridge.

I am not saying we don’t live in a time without people like Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov.  I am just saying we haven’t really seen something that has made a small arms like the M16 or M14 go almost obsolete. We saw the M16 quickly replace the M14 as the US service rifle in the 1960s.

As strange as it might seem, history shows us that the government is the main reason for innovation and invention in this industry. Until a government demands a new product to suit their new need, we do not see new creations. A government contract can be in the price range of billions which goes towards R&D and eventual release to the general public.

While some might think with the increased use of drones, it may be a long time before we see anything new.  I am a believer that we will always need boots on the ground, if for no other reason than for intelligence gathering, for aid and for maintaining goodwill.  I am excited and hopeful for the future of our industry.

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308 Review

For those of you not familiar with Windham Weaponry and would like more history on them, you should visit  The Windham Weaponry Story…

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308 Review

Introduction to the .308 AR Style Rifle

I have always preferred the larger .30 caliber round over the 5.56×45. While the military finds the 5.56 round “adequate” it leaves much to be desired for more applications in the civilian market. For everyday plinking the 5.56×45 (.223 Remington) is fine but if I want to take that caliber for other hunting type purposes I might not legally be able.

The AR-15 style rifle is Legos for the adult world. You can customize it to make some really interesting firearms. With thousands of different products designed for this platform, the possibilities are endless. As each year passes, people are inventing better and better products for the AR.

The issue that I have with the AR platform is the caliber. While it is true that you can build an AR in every caliber known to man, the staple calibers are the ones we want more of.

While the AR-10 style rifles have been year for years, The magazines use to be outrageously expensive until the DPMS/SR-25 style mags started getting manufactured by companies who knew how to make great magazines. This was part of what I saw as the awakening of the .308 AR rifles.

Specs   

Windham Weaponry R16FSFST-308
Rifle 16 Shaved Front Site (SIC) w/Telestock (found on the invoice shipped with the rifle) R16SFST-308 L

Caliber: .308 Win. / 7.62x51mm
Action: Semi-Automatic, Gas Impingement System
Capacity:  20 + 1- Ships with one 20 Rd Magpul Magazine (accepts all std. sizes)
Safety:  Manual Lever with Indicator Markings on Both Sides of Receiver
Receiver: Flat Top Type Upper w. Mil Std 1913 Rail / QD Sling Sockets in Lower
Receiver Material: Forged 7075 T6 Aircraft Aluminum with Integral Trigger Guard
Receiver Finish: Hardcoat Black Anodize Finish
Bolt Material:  Carpenter 158 Steel
Barrel: 16.5” Medium Profile, Chrome Lined with A2 Flash Suppressor
Barrel Material: 4150M Chrome Moly Vanadium 11595E Steel
Rifling: 1 in 10” – Right Hand Twist – 6 Lands & Grooves
Stock: 6 Position Telescoping Buttstock with Windham Weaponry Logo
Forend:  Midwest Industries 15” SS Key Mod Free Float Handguard w. Rail Segment
Pistol Grip: Hogue Beavertail Overmolded Grip
Rear Sight:   None – Ready for optics or other type accessory sights
Front Sight: None
Weight / Length:  8.0 lbs. (without magazine) / 38” (34.1875” with Telestock collapsed)

Packaging: Hard Plastic Gun Case with Black Web Sling, Operators Manual. Transferable Lifetime Warranty.

The Quick Detach Points and Keymod

The lower on this rifle comes with two QD sling attachment points located below the charging handle. The Midwest Industries Keymod handguard has 5 QD points located on the left and right hand sides of the handguard as well as one at the muzzle end of the handguard. This gives the user multiple points and configurations for their needed sling setup. I personally only like single point slings so this was right for that setup.

This was the first time using the keymod rail system and overall I really like the design. It is simple and easy to install the rail pieces where you want and need them in a very short amount of time.

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The Trigger

The trigger is built by Windham Weaponry. The say they take great pains to make the trigger as smooth and crisp as possible but if you are unhappy with their trigger they do offer other replacement triggers from companies like CMC, POF and Geissele.

The trigger pull is a bit heavier than I like, but I never found myself jerking the trigger or having any other trigger related accuracy problems with the installed trigger.

The Pistol Grip

At first when I saw the Hogue overmolded grip I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. After getting some heavy range time in all kinds of temperatures, this is now my second favorite grip of all time. With gloves on, this grip wasn’t tacky but when I had sweaty hands in the heat it was.

The Stock

The stock is the standard 6 position stock with the Windham Weaponry logo. The stock is nothing to write home about. But I like the fact that using a stock like this helps keep the rifle at a very consumer friendly price. 

The Barrel

The 16.5 inch barrel is the perfect length for shooting from the bench, to run and gun, or stalk hunting.

This length is my ideal length for a .308 semi auto rifle. It keeps the weight down so the rifle is more versatile.

The Bolt Catch

This was my only “problem” with the gun. When the bolt was locked to the rear just tapping the barrel against the rifle rest would send the bolt forward.

The Charging Handle

I have trained on the stock charging handles and all I have to say is real estate, real estate, real estate! I like my charging handles to have as much real estate as possible. The more grip I can get on the charging handle the better in my mind. If I have to rack the gun back, I want to go with as little effort as possible. The small stock charging handle is something I would change if I owned this rifle.

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Sights

This rifle does not come with any sights.

Shooting

This gun looks like a tank and is built like one too. It can take a beating and still come back for seconds.

In the 500+ rounds we shot through this gun, we never had a hiccup or anything. It just kept begging to be fed.

We had this rifle on the 25 yard bay out to the 300 yard bay and I always kept 1-3 inch groupings. This is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of what the gun can produce but more of a mark on my shooting abilities.

Cleaning

This rifle is like any other AR style when it comes to cleaning. The 500+ rounds had very little carbon build up. The barrel stayed relatively clean. I would bet we could have shot another 1000+rounds  before it even started slowing down.

Overall Thoughts

For the price I have not seen a better .308 AR. Flat out, Windham Weaponry knows their sh*t. They know how to build quality rifles at a great consumer price point. They don’t focus on the bells and whistles because they know you are going to want your own bells which is where can see your savings. 

Out of the box, the only thing you need to add is a sight. You can buy .308 rifles for the same price and you are going to end up wanting to replace the other companies “quality” parts. Windham Weaponry, from what I have shot and seen are not like that. You might find something you want to change, like the stock or the charging handle. But let’s face it, if you are working on a budget, the Windham Weaponry .308 line, as is, will impress you with their quality.

The firearm industry is made up of a lot of really great people who are just trying to make the best and toughest products in the world. I have met the people at Windham Weaponry a few times at SHOT Show and was impressed by the great people. I believe that they are always trying to make something that is going to stand the test of time. .

Name this Gun 11-26: Robinson Armament XCR-M

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Specs

Calibers: .308, .243, .260
Overall Length: 37″ (18.6″ barrel) Collapsed
Folded Length: 30″ (18.6″ barrel)
Weight Empty:9.25lbs (heavy contour barrel)
Barrel Lengths: 16″, 18.6″, 20″
Top Rail Length: 20″
Side and Bottom Rails:9.4″

Daniel Watters Correctly named this rifle.

 

I am someone who prefers the larger cartridges like the .308win. It is interesting to me to see a semi auto chambered in the .243win as it isn’t as common to see. The GEARS Crew has a bolt action .243 that we have used from time to time in testing. The design is reminiscent of the Scar and the ACR rifles. The rifle does use SR-25 style mags vs. the expensive AR-10 style, that also means it uses the .308 P-mags from Magpul.  This rifle has a left side charging handle. The rifle uses a long stroke gas piston.

What are your thoughts on this rifle?

Mossberg ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN™ 27204 .308 Bolt Action Review

I have been provided the materials needed for this review. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Normally I don’t put the model number in the title but with the number of different options Mossberg offers  for the rifle I want to be specific on which rifle I reviewed.

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Specs

Caliber: .308 WIN
Capacity: 5
Barrel: 22” Fluted
Rail: 6” Picatinny Rail
Scope: UTG 6-24x50MM w/ Illuminated Reticle, Sun Shade and Lens Protectors
Twist: 1:10
Length Of Pull: 13.25″
Finish: Matte Blue
Stock: Synthetic (Multi-Cam Camo)
Weight: 9.5 lb
Overall Length: 42″
MSRP: $891

Features:

LBA Lightning Bolt Action Adjustable Trigger
Free-Floating Button-Rifled Fluted Barrel
Scope and Bipod Included
4+1 Capacity, Top Load Magazine
Free Gun Lock/2-Year Limited Warranty

First Impressions

Growing up in the Boy Scouts, I knew Mossberg for two reasons. They made the Mossberg .22 bolt action rifles my troop owned for shooting sports and we had a Mossberg 500 12 Gauge shotgun we would use. When I was in the market for a new 12 Gauge I contacted Mossberg because they make the Mossberg 500 Flex which lets you customize your shotgun for your shooting needs.

You can pick up a wide range of different parts to make your gun more tactical or more home defense. If you want to keep it a normal bird gun, you can change the length of pull with different recoil/length of pull pads that snap in and out of the buttstock.  After a year of shooting the Mossberg 500 Flex 12 gauge, I wanted to do more work with Mossberg.

I requested the Mossberg ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN™ 27204 .308 Bolt Action Rifle for review. The gun, out of the box, makes you feel like you were just handed a sniper rifle and you are going to be able to take down all the bad guys from 4 miles* away. The scope is over a foot and a half long (w/ sun shade) and it has a the multi-cam stock fluted barrel and bipod.

Man, this Mossberg ATR looks like it can hit a dime from miles away*. (* The GEARs Crew understands that the max effective range of a .308 Win is 800-1000 meters. The distances named are for this writers dramatic impact only and should not be the expected results.)

Shooting and Feel

After getting the Mossberg ATR sighted and realigned I started out shooting 20 rounds at the 100 yard range getting the rounds to go through the same hole. When I felt comfortable, I moved on to the 300 yard range and noticed that the optic was fuzzy in the beginning. I had expected this, since it is not a very high end scope.

I had the steel gong as my target which I figured I would hand load each round and do a rapid engagement of 10 (3-5 seconds per shot to reload) back to the 300 yard target, even with my speed the rifle maintained about a 6 inch grouping. After about 80 rounds my shoulder was not fatigued. The rifle had the right length of pull for my size, making this rifle rather enjoyable to shoot with all day.

The barrel is threaded into the action and not one solid piece. This is normal, however the chamber is not as forgiving to someone who is hand loading each round vs. using the magazine to load the rounds. I would have liked to have seen a feed ramp on this, but for the price of the Mossberg ATR, it still feeds like it should.

The bolt does have good play and good flow when manipulating the bolt to load rounds.

The recoil as mentioned above is not overwhelming so if you shot more than 100 rounds you shouldn’t be running for the ice pack.

Scope

The UTG scope is good if you are not planning to shoot past 100 yards. The scope that Mossberg mounted on this rifle was fuzzy until we shot about 20+ rounds. The scope prisms must have moved to the correct spot and cleared up enough to shoot the 200 yard range. It was still fuzzy and hazy at 300 to the point you could not see your hits on high visible targets.

When we first took the rifle to the range the scope had not been zeroed and it took about 20 rounds to zero in. I never used the Illuminated Reticle since it was a bright sunny day every day we went to shoot.

With this being said, if I am able to continue reviewing this rifle, I would look at a relatively inexpensive scope upgrade to a Redfield Revenge 6-18x44mm scope with an MSRP of $314.  This upgrade keeps the look of the rifle and scope package with a better optic.

Bipod and Rail

The Caldwell bipod is “adjustable” however, when I tried adjusting the height, the legs never matched up enough to give a stable shooting platform. Thankfully, I did most of my shooting off the bench and not from prone, so the short legs were at the correct height.   I personally feel that Mossberg would have been better suited to have the bipod attached by picatinny rail verses the “permanently” mounted Caldwell. In keeping with how I would upgrade this rifle, I would unmount the bipod and have a gunsmith mount a 3” picatinny rail on the flat bottom of the stock allowing for a bipod and other types of sling mounts.

The scope rail is a 5” picatinny rail. This is nice, but in terms of upgrading this rifle I would change to Leupold dovetail scope rings and so I would have to change the rail. Mossberg does make this possible as the rail is not wielded to the action.

Modularity

Mossberg introduced the Mossberg flex line of shotguns and MVP rifles. Although this rifle doesn’t need to be changed into a pistol grip rifle, I would have liked to have seen the buttstock length of pull modularity added into the design of the of the ATR™ NIGHT TRAIN line of centerfire rifles.

I think Mossberg is really onto the next gen of designs by adding features like the modularity they have already introduced. It would be great if companies like MAGPUL who already make stocks for Mossberg shotguns started adding new stocks and parts to Mossberg Flex line of modular rifles and shotguns.

Trigger

For those of us who are trigger snobs, you should like the Mossberg’s no gunsmith needed adjustable trigger. I didn’t mess with this trigger adjustment as I was having issues with the scope and my review focus changed.

Final Thoughts

The Mossberg ATR was designed for someone getting into the art of distance shooting. This gun is for someone who doesn’t want to spend $800 on a bolt action rifle that won’t have a long life and then drop another $400 or $500 on scopes and rings and bipods just to get your first shot down range. This gun has it all for $891 MSRP.

Out of the box, this rifle is ready to be sighted in and taken on a hunting trip or just to the distance range. The upgrades I have talked about are not something you will have to get if you are starting out and learning how to shoot. As a shooter gets more proficient at shooting longer and longer ranges that is the time to start thinking about upgrading.

I have loved shooting the Mossberg ATR. As a proficient distance shooter, I would love to be able to report back with my findings after some simple upgrades to an already extremely well built bolt action.

Colt LE901 Modular Multi-Caliber Rifle Review

I have been wanting to get my hands on the LE901 since Colt first debuted it at SHOT Show 2012. After 2 years of waiting, I finally got the chance to shoot this AWESOME rifle.

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In the caliber war debates, I have always stood with the .308 WIN as my favorite AR caliber. There is something about sending 150 grains of lead down range without killing your shoulder that always makes me happy.

Colt LE901 specs

I had this rifle for 3 months and we shot roughly 500 rounds down range without one problem. I asked Colt to send the mag well adapter, 5.56 spring and buffer and a LE6940 5.56 upper with the LE901. I shot mostly Liberty Silverado .223 ammo using the Colt LE6940 and found that the combo worked well at keeping the barrel clean.

Thoughts about the multi-caliber system

I hate spending money twice on the same part for two guns like a trigger or butt stock. I know what I like, so typically I am going to replace the parts that don’t feel right, with ones that do. This rifle makes that problem go away. You only have to own one lower, one trigger group, one pistol grip and one buttstock that is your personal preference.  Then you have different uppers for the different needs. This way you can have a .308 win for the bench and a .223 for run and gun.

 

 

Caliber change

To change the gun just takes just a few seconds. All you need to change is the buffer and spring. Have your mag well adapter block on the 5.56 upper and that just drops in the mag well and using the same pins for the .308 win upper.  This is quick and easy to do on the fly, making this gun a breeze to use in either caliber.

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Other Calibers

Since the .300 blackout was designed for the .223 AR platform you could also use it for this rifle.

The LE901’s .308 upper is propriety and only used on this rifle. This means you don’t have the option yet, to change to the other heavy calibers like other AR-10 style rifles, namely .243 win.

When that day comes, this rifle truly will start exceeding anything else in its class. The AR-15 already has so many different uppers from .22 conversions to .50BMG bolt action to crossbows. The introduction into the .308 mag well calibers truly unlocks it full potential.

Shooting from the bench

This rifle has the stock Colt trigger which I really have never been a fan of, but it still does a good job of not being sloppy and hard breaking.

On the bench at 300 yards I was shooting a 2 inch group which is more a comment on my lack of distance skills than the rifle itself.

Run and Gun

We took this gun and set up a few shooting courses at the range for fun and found we like the heavier .308 more for the course than we did with the lighter hitting 5.56. We kept forgetting the .308 Magpul P-mag Colt shipped with the rifle, was 20 rounds and that our 5.56 P-mag is 30.  We would run the course like we had 30 rounds vs. the 20 we really had loaded.

Cleaning

This rifle is like any other AR style when it comes to cleaning.

Ambidextrous controls

Since I am right handed, I mostly used the bolt release on the right hand side of the rifle which was nice. However, I would have also liked the ability to lock the bolt on the same side.

Owning this rifle

I do plan to buy one of these rifles someday, for the simple fact that it is one lower for multiple uppers.

Overall thoughts

I loved this rifle and I do plan on trying to get another one for review and maybe purchase in the future.

As a stock Colt rifle this is built to be used and abused and takes it. The Colt tradition of making great firearms is very much alive and well in this rifle.

Press Release: ARMALITE INTRODUCES THE AR-31

Press Release: ARMALITE INTRODUCES THE AR-31

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(Geneseo, IL) ArmaLite Inc. proudly introduces the new AR-31. The AR-31 shares the design and the accuracy of our highly acclaimed AR-30A1 bolt-action rifles, but with three MAJOR differences: the AR-31 is chambered in .308 Winchester, it is a short action version of the AR-30A1, and it accepts Armalite’s AR-10B double-stack magazines. That means you can use 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 round mags with the AR-31. For your sub-MOA accuracy needs, think ArmaLite’s AR-31!

• Specifications
• Caliber: .308 Winchester
• Barrel: 24″ Double Lapped, Chrome Moly
• Rifling Twist: 1:10
• Muzzle Device: Muzzle Brake
• Trigger: Single Stage
• Stock: Adjustable Cheek Piece (height) & Buttstock (length)
• Overall Length: 45.4″ – 47.4“
• Weight: 14.1 LBS
• Accuracy: .29” – .60” @ 100 yds. (“Guns & Weapons For Law Enforcement”
February 2014 Edition)
• MSRP: $3,460

About ArmaLite: ArmaLite has one of the broadest product lines in the firearms industry. We manufacture and sell semiautomatic rifles in a variety of calibers including 5.56mm and 7.62mm, long range super-accurate bolt action rifles in calibers including .308 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua, .416 Barrett and .50 BMG. Visit ArmaLite at www.armalite.com.

 

 

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Aaron–FN-H SCAR Mk 17

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SCAR SPECIFICATIONS:
Caliber: 7.62 NATO
Action: Gas operated, Semi auto center fire
Receiver: Aluminum upper, polymer lower
Barrel: 16.25″ cold hammer forged, chrome lined
Overall Length: 38.5″ and 28.5″ with the stock folded
Trigger pull: nonadjustable, single stage; 6lbs, 5oz
Empty Weight: 8.0 LBS
Capacity: 10 or 20 round proprietary box magazine
Price: $2,900-$3,350

The SCAR Mk 17 was a new addition to the U.S. arsenal that entered service in 2009. It fires the bigger 7.62×51 NATO round compared to the 5.56 that the US uses most. This versatile solution was made by FN Herstal out of Belgium for the US SOCOM forces.

The 75th Ranger Regiment were the first soldiers to get their hands on the SCAR’s first models. The US military has canceled orders on the Mk 16 version of the SCAR and has started to get the SCAR Mk 17 with plans to purchase 5.56 conversion kits for the rifle. This was one of the competing firearms to replace the aging M4 Carbine.

For the civilian market, FNH has also created a semiautomatic version imported over as the SCAR 17S. SCAR is an acronym for “Special Operation Forces Combat Assault Rifle,” with the name proclaiming its original intended purpose.

There are many other things that this rifle has improved on P1110336-1024x684P1110336-1024x684from the current assault rifles the US uses. This rifle contains a short recoil system similar to a Saiga shotgun, allowing a cleaner operation than a direct impingement system. FNH is claiming a 90% cutback of the carbon build up in the action over the AR style of rifles.  This should mean a lower amount of maintenance that you would have to perform to keep this firearm functioning.

The short recoil system helps lessen the recoil with shooting larger calibers. A firearm with short stroke recoil has a heavy bolt carrier assembly that the piston is in contact with for only a short amount of time. The recoil force is spread over a longer period of time with this beefy bolt carrier, allowing for more accurate follow up shots on target.

With the SCAR 17, the controls are mostly ambidextrous. The magazine release and the safety can be operated from both sides of the firearm but the bolt catch is only on the left. The charging handle is actually attached to the bolt like an AK is which is potentially dangerous to the user, and will reciprocate with the bolt while firing. While firing a firearm with a reciprocating charging handle, it can throw off the balance of the firearm while shooting.

 

Sam Cadle – Gun Review: Custom DPMS LR-308

Sam Cadle – Gun Review: Custom DPMS LR-308

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The DPMS LR-308 is not a new rifle by any means.  In 2005 the original LR-308 was named “Gun of the Year” by the NRA publication, American Rifleman.  Since 2005 DPMS has released 8 different rifles built on the same receiver in various in different configurations.  The rifle I am working with is from my personal collection, and is for competition shooting in practical and precision rifle matches.  This is was the first time I was able to shoot this rifle since receiving it back from my gunsmith.  The rifle for review is a custom built original, slick-sided LR-308 built for long range precision.   It was built from a stock LR-308 that had a 24” stainless steel bull barrel and A2 stock out of the box.

Click here to finish reading his review over at The Firearm Blog