Editorial: Standardizing vs. Proprietary

A few weeks back I reviewed a Windham Weaponry .308 AR style rifle. When I finished the review I contacted my local gunsmith as well as Windham and asked if they knew of any standardization in the .308 AR market.  I wanted to know if anyone had made a pattern for the upper and lower as well as the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG).

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The question seemed straight forward, however the answer isn’t. Long story short, no. No one has made a standard to which everyone is following.

(Note: I am using the 5.56×45 and the .223 Remington interchangeably in the article even though they are not the same cartridge.  AR stands for Armalite Rifle not Assault Rifle).

History

In 1955 and 1956 Armalite designed the first prototypes of the original AR-10 chambered in the 7.62×51 (.308 Winchester.)  By 1957, the first AR-15 using the intermediate cartridge 5.56×45 NATO was designed and then sold to Colt due to financial problems that Armalite was having.

Is Anything New Anymore?

Since the AR-10 was designed before the AR-15 it would seem we haven’t taken a step forward but a step back in time. Thanks to Government bans, such as the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban that ended in 2004 and other set backs, the modern sporting rifle world has been trying to play catch up for the past 11 years.

Intermediate vs. Rifle Cartridges

I have never really been a fan of the .223 Remington (5.56x45NATO) and I know I am not alone in this distaste. I have always liked the 7.62x39mm or the newer .300 AAC Blackout when it comes to intermediate cartridges. The .308 win is a rifle cartridge that fits more than just the distance shooting bill. The fact of the matter is that the .308 and the 5.56 have been on the battle field for almost the same amount of time and yet we chose the less ballistically versatile round for civilian and military applications.

DPMS/SR-25 Magazines vs. Proprietary

When building a new firearm platform you have to consider the way your firearm is going to hold rounds. In the the bolt action world we typically use an in-stock style magazine, for the lever actions and shotguns we use a tube and elevator (shell carrier) system, for the semi and full autos we have a choice. Belt fed (seen mainly in past in full auto only but is making it way back in semi auto versions of full auto machine guns) or magazine fed.

The .308 ARs are all based on the smaller AR-15, so you would think after seeing the success of the AR-15 magazine market it would be smarter to stick with what works. But we are still in a relearning stage in the firearm world about supply and demand. The FN SCAR 17 uses a proprietary .308 mag but the SCAR 16 uses STANAG (AR-15 style magazines). When FN released the SCAR 17 to the general population they had problems keeping magazines in stock because they were trying to keep the military contracts filled and just they couldn’t keep up with demand. That’s a problem with proprietary.

The DPMS/SR-25 style magazines are now being made by a number of different magazine manufacturers which means I can order as many as I want.

Standardizing

The AR-15 is known as the Legos for adults. Everything is changeable. If I want a nickel boron BCG I can find a company I like and replace mine in my AR-15.  If I want a new charging handle I get one. If I want to put a .50BMG bolt action upper on my lower I can. This seems to me like a great idea. However in the .308 AR world we have yet to reach an agreement as to what the specs should be.

Final thoughts

Until they all come to an agreement about standardizing, the consumer market for the .308 AR is left with fewer options.  To me, more options means more money back in the pockets of the firearm manufacturers.  More money to the manufacturers means more money can be spent on R&D, which means more advanced guns in the future.

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. .

The Pedersen Device–1903 Springfield

I typically don’t do articles about historical firearms because my knowledge on most of the subjects would not make for good info. I saw this video and since our family owns a 1903 it is something that is close to my heart. My father was given our 1903 rifle by my late grandfather.

The 1903 is an old sporterized Rock Island Armory 1903 A3 that has been used a deer rifle for years. I love the rifle as it is very accurate and just a great .30-06 rifle.

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This image found on the http://www.nramuseum.org. shows the similarity to a the modern AR-15 5.56 to .22lr conversion kits in how the bolt has a “shell” to extend into the barrel giving the converted caliber a new chamber.

The cartridge used was a .30-18 auto.

Poll: What type of firearm do you shoot the most at the range?

POLL: MSR Distance

 

Remington 11-87 Sportsman Field 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.

Skeet shooting is one of my favorite past times, give me a thrower, clays, ammo and a shotgun and I will be busy for hours (or until the clays run out). I had the rare chance to meet up with Jessica of the Freedom Group (who owns Remington) at SHOT 2014 so we could review firearms from the Freedom Group. Naturally I was drawn straight to the shotguns because of my love of them.

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I was fortunate to grow up in a Boy Scout Troop who owned 2 Remington 870s and a number of other shotguns. During shooting campouts I would run (with the guidance of an NRA certified adult) the shotgun and .22lr rifle groups. Over the years we had various leaders of the troop bring in shotguns on the campouts that included semi auto, pump, bolt action and break action. I had a chance to really get a feel for many different kinds of shotguns and brands.

Remington 11-87 Sportsman Field

SPECS:

Weight: 8.25 lbs. (3.7 kg) with 28inch barrel
Length: 48”
Barrel length: 28”
Cartridge: 12 gauge
Action: Semi-automatic
Feed system: 4+1 rounds, internal tube magazine

KEY FEATURES:

· Wood and Satin Blued Configuration
· Solid Walnut stock and fore-end with Satin finish and Fleur-di-Lis checkering
· 12 gauge with 28″ RC barrel and Mod Choke
· Dual bead sights
· Nickel plated bolt and gold trigger

Shooting

I got this shotgun back in March 2014, we have taken it to our range every time and shot about 500+ shells through it. I have only cleaned it about 3 times. One of the shooters we work with was not a proficient skeet shooter. He just doesn’t have many hours logged on the shotgun range. After about 10 clays thrown, with the Remington 11-87, he started asking for 2 clays to be thrown at a time. He was hitting them about 75% of the time. He commented later that it gave him fast follow up time making it easier to hit the clay before it was too far out. He felt he did much better with this shotgun because of how smooth the recoil was and the fact it was semi auto.

Between myself and a friend of the GEARs crew we shot 95 shells for 90 clays.

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My Final Thoughts

I loved this shotgun. I really like everything, from the looks of the shotgun to the recoil to the smooth action. This shotgun just felt great in my arms.

The MSRP is $845 which is a middle of the road priced semi-auto 12 gauge. If you are looking for a shotgun that is going to last you for generations to come with easy maintenance, this is a shotgun you will want to put on your list.

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.

Name this gun: BCM Europearms CM4 Storm

 

SPECS:

Calibers available: 9mm Luger, 9×21 IMI, .40 S&W
Barrel Length : 6.8inches including muzzle device (175mm)
Overall length: 15.5 inches (395mm)
Weight: 5.2 Pounds (2400g)

Versions available:
CM4 (Carbine)
PM4 (Pistol)

The BCM Europearms PM4 Storm semi-automatic carbine is designed in Italy and has its roots based in the Spectre M4 which was developed by the Italian company SITES in 1980s. This firearm was designed by the same people who designed the Spectre M4 (seen below).

1-italian-spectre-m4-submachine-gun-andrew-chittock
SITES (Società Italiana Tecnologie Speciali S.p.A.) Spectre M4

The BCM Europearms PM4 Storm was designed for the civilian and security markets. The availability outside of Italy is unclear to Gearsofguns.com at this time.

The platform does not have a manual safety since the firearm uses its own proprietary  SA/DA trigger group. The first trigger pull will always be double action only and each subsequent trigger pull will be single action similar to that of a revolvers SA/DA trigger.

MSRP for the pistol is 1200 euro and 1400 euro for the carbine. 

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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.