Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 25: Military Armament Corporation Model 10

Hey guys, I'll be brief in text as we have a video that speaks volumes. This past Tuesday a couple of the Ann Arbor gun guys went out to pick up our very first NFA regulated machine gun a Model 10 sub machine gun - better known as the infamous MAC 10.

video

Hopefully we'll be able to get out to the range as soon as possible to test the firearm out. Expect a plentiful amount of pictures and videos to come in the next few weeks.


Until then stay frosty...
-AA Gun Guys

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 24: Picture of the Day

Today's picture of the day is a snapshot of the Ranger XL shooting glasses by Randolph Engineering. They're high-end eye protection designed for competition shotgunning, target shooting, and hunting. I posted this picture because some people may find them useful as a reference, without many pictures online.

I ordered them over the phone and will actually be sending them back. I wasn't satisfied with the gray polarized lenses - the optical properties suffered in the thick bullet-resistant polycarbonate lenses. And at this price point, they better be perfect. If you're in the market for a pair of RE Rangers, I'd be sure to try them on first. They're well-made, but not for everyone.

Looks like I'm going back to a cheaper alternative.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 23: Picture of the Day

Today's picture of the day is a cool shot that we got taking a spent shell out of my newly acquired turn of the century Hopkins and Allen 12 gauge side by side with Damascus twist barrels. I had done a lot of research on Damascus style barrels and it seemed like there were a lot of people who were strongly against even thinking of shooting ammo through it, but for every against there was another for.

I was set on firing it and so started my search for ammo that would work. The gun, and Damascus barrels in general, was made to shoot black powder loads so thats were I started to look. We found some online but almost everyone suggest reloading custom shells - something I am not currently setup to do.

As a wonderful surprise a friend of ours actually hand loaded some during a impromptu range visit. He swung by, saw us, drove a few miles back to his house and in a matter of minutes was back with some freshly loaded 12gauge black powder loaded shells. On his way walking over to us when he returned I asked if the shells were indeed loaded with black powder, he remarked, "oh yeah its black powder, hell the powder itself is as old as the gun". Now thats cool!


Thanks for reading and as always stay tuned for more reviews, tidbits, rants, and general gun things!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 22: American as Apple Pie - The M16 Part 1


To start off I just want to say that I had never been an AR-15/M16 'guy' until a couple years ago. I had always seen my self as an AK47 aficionado in the 50 year long debate. I think one of the reasons for this was the fact that many people take the M16's history away from it in a ritualistic sort of way that was never seen in the AK world (or at least wasn't seen to the same magnitude). On top of the people who defaced their M16s you had another camp that believed because they spent more than double, in some cases triple or greater, the cost of an AK47 clone that their firearm was a better platform. Those people had an air of undeserved arrogance to them - sometime that I know turned off more than myself to the wonderfully rich world of the AR-15.

Its important to note at this juncture that I will undoubtedly be switching and using the terms AR-15 and M16 almost interchangeably throughout this post. Of course some will argue they are not the same, and of course they're not, but for the purpose of this article it will work just dandy.

Over the last few year I've had a few AR-15s come and go because I really did not see a point in the items I had. That all changed when I fell into a period in my life when I became fascinated with the history of the Vietnam War. When I started researching the original M16s I found out the tremendously rich history that they have had over the last five or so decades. Everyone has heard the horror stories of the original M16s failing and costing American lives during the early part of the Vietnam War but thats only a small enclave in an extremely large cadre of history. From the original AR10, AR15, and M16 to the M16A4 lets take a brief look at the life of this truly unique firearm.

Birth of the Assault Rifle
Starting a few years after World War Two, the United States military began dissecting infantry combat experience that had been seen during the war. What was shown was that most combat that a typical infantrymen saw was at closer than 300 yards. The Russians and to some extent the Germans had learned this a bit earlier as they began to develop the world's first assault rifles. Where as the standard rifle from World War Two could be used at ranges upwards of 600 yards, and the standard sub machine gun or machine pistol would be lucky to hit anything past 110 yards, these new rifles met in a happy middle almost perfectly meeting the 300 yard engagement distance. The Americans wanted to get their hand into this new technology and around 1948 the United States government wanted to move to a smaller, but higher velocity projectile, that they could design an assault rifle around.

Eugene in a Bottle
In the early 1950s almost simultaneously two things begin to happen that will lead to the eventual creation of the AR15. Eugene Stoner begins work in his AR10, and the U.S. Government launches project Salvo to search for a suitable 22 caliber rifle platform. Stoner's AR10 design was originally based on the 7.62Nato (7.62x51mm) cartridge that the American M14 had been using but decided it could be easily scaled down to accept a 22 caliber cartridge. At the same time that Stoner began to convert a AR10 to a smaller cartridge, a search for the perfect 22 caliber cartridge was in progress. Eventually a brand new round was produced by a joint venture between Remington, Sierra Bullets, and Armalite (the company Stoner was working for at the time). The final projectile design was based on the popular .222 cartridge that was used for hunting.

When the final product of so much blood, sweat, and tears rolled out of the prototype labs at Armalite the rifle was designated the AR-15. At this point many people were extremely excited to see the rifle as it was years ahead of its time - using many polymers that had not even been thought usable in weapon systems. Unfortunately early tests produced poor accuracy and reliability results - a fault of the new .223 cartridges only found out years later. The AR-15 got it's first taste of a poor reputation and the Armalite corporation was not pleased. The AR-15 rights were sold to Colt Firearms. Eugene Stoner not far beyond, 'decided' to follow his rifle to Colt to continue its evolution.

Growth as a Firearm
In the next few years the AR15 had begun to pick up a following among a few in the U.S. military brass. U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay, was one of the original fans of the M16, ordering the first set to replace aging M1 and M2 Carbines that Airforce security staff were still using. Once LeMay had the chance to inspect the weapons in person he became a major proponent in increasing awareness of the new "space age rifle". The Department of Defense and other top ranking officials in the U.S. Airforce began to think of the actual possibilities for the rifle. The ARPA staff decided to give the rifle an official test and purchase around a few hundred and sent them to field test them in a new cold war conflict that began to attract American concern - the Vietnam War. Perhaps surprisingly to a few including the original Armalite staff, the AR15 received amazing battlefield reviews and was nick named the "little black rifle" by the few South Vietnamese who had used it in combat.
Rock Bottom
When the glowing reviews came in the Airforce and Army signed contracts with Colt to produce almost 100,000 rifles for the newly designated M16, and with continued success the entire U.S. military had orders placed for
upwards of 800,000 rifles. Unfortunately for the M16 this is where it takes a punch to the gut. As soon as a small majority of American servicemen were equipped with the new rifle, catastrophic malfunctions began to become the norm. Most of these errors were due to poor choices made by the U.S. Army and only a very few could blame the rifle's design for their occurrence. The majority of the issues with the original M16 in Vietnam dealt with reliability and could be counted on one hand, they included lack of positive extraction of spent shell casings and issues with the bolt not going into battery. These issues happened for majority of reasons but the main two happened to leave the Army brass at fault.
  1. Use of poor powder (poorly made 'ball' instead of 'stick' powder)
  2. Rumor of 100% self cleaning leading to the rifles not even being issued cleaning kits
The use of the powder choice was in part due to the lack of production power of Du Pont at the time. Du Pont quoted the military and told them there was no way that they could mass produce the specific powder the M16 required. The military then went to Olin Mathieson Company who could produce a powder that met ARPA requirements. However, this powder raised the cyclical rate of fire from 650-800 rounds per minute to over 1,000! Not only did this increase the rate of fire to a rate that the gun was not designed for but the powder itself burned extremely dirty and allowed for the gun to become encrusted in carbon dirt extremely rapidly. This in-conjunction with the lack of foresight from top military officials who allowed the rifles to be distributed with out cleaning kits provided a rifle that was useless after a few shots.


Many soldiers who were issued the original M16 often remarked they had single shot weapons. After the first shot in a firefight of a well used rifle and the rifle would jam. This sparked the many stories from the battlefield such as soldiers trying to find sticks to ram out the spent casing like their M16 was a muzzle loading musket, or soldiers picking up any gun but M16s to use whilst in combat. These stories and many others at first come across as fictitious or rumors when in fact they're true.
We left with 72 men in our platoon and came back with 19, Believe it or not, you know what killed most of us? Our own rifle. Practically every one of our dead was found with his M16 torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it.
- Marine Corps Rifleman, Vietnam.
Quick Fix or Design for a Lifetime
These issues were soon figured out and procedures to rectify them began to be set into place, unfortunately not before American deaths were to occur. The first set of changes to the rifle was to chrome line the chamber, add a forward assist, and increase the weight of the buffer system to slow the cyclical rate down to its intended speed. The changes, while minimal, corrected almost all of the immediate issues with the firearm. This new M16 wore the designation XM16E1 and in 1967 adopted as the mainstay of the military forces in Vietnam. Soon after the XM16E1 was released another variant the M16A1 was introduced. The M16A1 just continued on the progress of the XM16E1 and added an entire chrome bore and a few other tweaks such as changing the flash hider. For the duration of the Vietnam War the United States would be equipped with the M16A1. It wasn't until much later when the M16A2 arrived on scene with its own set of objectives as a rifle.

It is interesting to note that at the time of inception of the M16A1 to main military service the Department of Defense queried over 2,000 users of the M16 and out of the entire reach only 38 reported they would like to see the M16 replaced - out of those 38, 35 wished the M16A1 would be replaced with the XM177 (CAR-15) the shorter carbine version of the rifle similar to the current day M4/M4A1. This number is perhaps even lower than what a similar polling of the M16A4/M4 would bring.

A Tribute
After researching much of the history of the AR-15 and so forth the M16 series of rifles I became very interested in creating a replica. I had chosen a time period in the Vietnam War that had been the most intriguing to me -1968 - specifically the Tet Offensive. Now I could go in depth about the Tet Offensive but that will have to wait for the time being. The thing to know is that 1968 was the year in which the M16s and XM16E1s were being transitioned to the M16A1, and specifically the Tet Offensive was right in between the transition so a lot of the M16A1 have minor features that the later (1969 and on) A1s did not have.

My main reason in building this reproduction was to honor those who had served and to preserve history as best as I could. You wouldn't believe the amount of people that wonder about that funky looking AR15 when I take it to the range - it is a blast!

Without further adieu here are some pictures of the Ann Arbor Gun Guys having a great time with my tribute to those who preserved freedom so many decades ago.





Thanks for reading and stay with us as some cool articles are in the works.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 21: M1871/88 Beaumont Part Two - The Aceh War

Due to overwhelming interest in our article on the M1871/88 Beaumont Vitali we've decided to follow up on a bit of the history of the rifle. Thanks to a few of our Dutch friends we have been able to gather quite a bit of information about the historic and military background behind this forgotten rifle. That being said we've decided to focus on one of the most in depth and perhaps bloodiest conflicts that the Beaumont participated in - the Aceh War.

For many people locating Aceh (pronounced Ah-tjeh) on a map is difficult or even impossible. Aceh is a small area on found on the very northern tip of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The land of Aceh was somewhat special, especially for two major colonial players at the time - the United Kingdom and the Dutch. Since the area had began to be colonized in the early 16th/17th century the two powers always thought the opposite had hidden motives of pushing the other out of the territory, when in fact, they were complimentary to each other. The Treaty of London signed in 1824 expressed what territory each laid claim to. The British would have claim on the Malaysian corridor and the Dutch - Sumatra and its surrounding land. One important feature of the treaty was that it provided provisions for the independence of Aceh something the Dutch government did not like. This provision was declared in the Treaty as the British government saw the Dutch stepping on the proverbial toes of the UK's commercial ventures in Sumatra and specifically the pepper trade in Aceh.



Between the Treaty of London and the fact that the Acehnese began negotiating with other 'Western' powers the Dutch had become enraged and in 1871 signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty where the British gave the Dutch full control over Aceh in order to gain a more equal trade partnership in the East Indies. This had appeased the Dutch until in 1873 the Acehnese began speaking with the United States - thus provoking the Dutch even further. The Dutch believing that they had full control of the Aceh territory deemed these 'talks' inappropriate and declared war on the providential body. What was to occur during the decades after would be known as one of the bloodiest conflicts in Dutch history.

After declaring war on Aceh, the Dutch sent an expeditionary force under the leadership of Major General Johan Koehler to forcedly take the entirety of Aceh - no simple task. Securing coastal villages was simple however in 1874 Koehler launched an attack on the sultan's palace, thereby eliminating all political resistance. After bombing the palace Koehler sent 3,000 troops ashore to capture the palace. Much to the surprise of Koehler the Acehnese resistance was much fiercer than expected and the army group was driven from the palace back onto the naval vessels at a significant loss. Over 80 Dutch soldiers and the Major General himself had been killed. Many criticize Koehler's tactics and stubbornness and claim he was at fault for the tremendous losses. This defeat extremely reduced the moral of the expeditionary force and resulted in the tarnishing of the otherwise impeccable Dutch reputation. To secure some time to recuperate the Dutch Navy blockaded the area as it was the only tactical decision that could be made.



It is important to note here that Koehler's intelligence on the enemy that he was to fight was grossly inaccurate. Two critical pieces of information arise in hindsight only.
1.) The Acehnese manpower was incredibly miscalculated. The most recent estimates put the total man power at somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 foot soldiers during the two expeditions.
2.) The government in Aceh had modernized their military force almost over night. The modernization, while not a full modernization as the equipment was second rate, occurred at a such a pace that there was absolutely no way they could have done it with out aid from 'Western' powers. Some believe that the UK and Italy both provided equipment and funding to fight off the Dutch, but this is unconfirmed.


Second Aceh Expedition
Soon after the first unsuccessful expedition the Dutch launched another one this time with more extensive preparations. This time the force was led by General Jan van Swieten and managed to capture the palace at the capital city of Banda Acheh. The sultan had been warned and fled before the raiding party could capture him but was found and killed soon after. The Dutch approved and put in power a new Aceh sultan that could be manipulated easily. However the new sultan was looked upon by the Aceh population as a puppet and regarded worse than the Dutch. Control over the territories were almost impossible to maintain and intense guerrilla fighting broke out throughout the countryside. This lasted for almost a decade until the Dutch realized they had to change their tactics.


Every Day Struggle
In 1880 the Dutch changed their tactics from an all out assault on the countryside to try to grab as much land from the insurgents as they could. The problem was it was an unsustainable method of warfare. Every time the dutch would capture a new province, they would lose another, previously held. This was extremely draining on the financial reserves of the colonial Dutch thusly prompting the change in the tactics to a more conservative approach. Instead of trying to capture all of Aceh the military would pull back to the territories that the Dutch had the strongest grasp on - the capital Banda Acheh and the coastal port city of Ulee Lheue. Everyday activities became a dangerous thing in Aceh, and even transportation required armed escort.



Continuation War
For a brief period there was a lull in major conflict in Aceh. This would not last as in 1883 the British naval vessel 'Nisero' was stranded and the crew was taken captive. After being strong armed by the British, the Dutch reluctantly sent a force to rescue the crew who had found themselves in a territory fiercely uncontrolled by the Dutch military. A local tribal leader Teuku Umar was asked for assistance but declined. The British shipmen were eventually rescued but only after tremendous payouts had been handed to the local leaders and the sultan himself.

Once the British crew had been rescued the Dutch minister of warfare once again declared all out warfare on Aceh, not surprisingly it once again had little effect. Even without much success the Dutch kept trying to implement a sustainable warfare doctrine. One of the new ideas they attempted after the 'Nisero' fiasco was to try to buy the help of local tribes and warlords with opium, weapons, or money. One notable warlord who was 'bought' was Teuku Umar, the same Teuku Umar who refused to allow the crew of the Nisero to be released. This is notable because it shows the feeling between the Acehnese and the Dutch as after Teuku built a somewhat respectable army at cost to the Dutch, he used his forces to attack the Dutch instead of helping them maintain peace inside the boarders of Aceh. This was known as Het Verraad van Teukoe Oemar - the treason of Teuku Umar, a significant incident that would assist one major in the Dutch army years later.



This stalemate was not broken until Major J.B. van Heutsz, an up and coming officer in the Dutch Army in the East Indies theater, was appointed Governor in the late 1890s. With the help of an old colleague one last 'new' plan was formed. The Dutch formulated that the sultanate was not the main source of power in Aceh yet it was the local hereditary chiefs. To take the countryside one must win over the local chiefs - whether with diplomacy, bribes, or warfare. This method of counter insurgency worked and by 1904 99% of the territory had been conquered, thus ending one of the longest war's in the history of man.

While Aceh had been conquered in 1904 some estimates put small factions holding out until the Japanese took over the Dutch East Indies in the time up to and including the second world war. While the groups were extremely limited and subject to only living in the greater highlands of Aceh it is an important medium to show the absolute length of the war and insurgency.

Hopefully you guys out there learned a lot about Aceh War - the Beaumont's baptism by fire.

Thanks and stay tuned!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 20: Cabela's Survives a Tornado

Cabela's is by far the best store in southeast Michigan for the hunter and outdoorsman. I could spend days in there in never get tired looking through their stockpile of firearms, inventory of hunting gear, and collection of taxidermied trophy animals.

The village of Dundee, Michigan was hit by a tornado overnight and damage was reported in the commercial district where Cabela's is located. Monroe county is currently under a state of emergency and many major roads are closed due to fallen debris and downed power lines. I was able to drive down there (roughly 20 miles south of Ann Arbor) and take a few pictures of the area right off US-23.

Cabela's opened late at 1:00pm today, but there was no readily apparent structural damage to the building other than a few demolished trees and signs. Other buildings in the area weren't so lucky. Most of Dundee's power is out (including street lights) and the whole area is swarming with cleanup personnel and law enforcement officers.

So to all you readers worried about the status of your favorite store, fear no longer. Cabela's is still up and running!




Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 19: Cheap Ammo

Shopping for ammo online can save you a lot of money if shop around and know whats good versus what's junk. But if you're in the market for cheap practice ammunition for common calibers, Wal-Mart is actually a great place to go. This afternoon, I bought a few boxes of Federal Champion 9mm Luger 115 Grain FMJ RN. At $9.97/50 it's the best deal in town.


I read somewhere that Federal Champion is simply Federal American Eagle re-boxed for Wal-Mart, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this were true. The case markings are identical and the rounds are indistinguishable. The prefix of the item number printed on the box is “WM” which gives credibility to this idea. Seeing as American Eagle is my favorite type of practice ammunition, this is a good thing, especially since I can’t find F-AE for much less than $12 anywhere while F-C goes for roughly $10.


The Ann Arbor Gun Guys team has registered for the Handgun I & II classes at the Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI). The classes require a combined ammo count of 1100 rounds per student, so needless to say, we’ve been scrounging local Wal-Marts to slowly build up to the couple thousand rounds of 9mm we’ll need by mid-July. This ammo fits the bill for training applications, and we’ll provide detailed range reports after we’ve been through the classes.

On the topic of ammo cost, you may have noticed that we added an “ammo fund” donation box through PayPal on the sidebar of this blog. Not that I we expect anyone to actually use it, but hey, if you ever win the lottery and want to donate to the common people, we’ll be here! For the rest of you, please "follow" this blog if you like what you see!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 18: Streamlight TLR-1s Video Review

My new Streamlight TLR-1s came in today, and I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to start creating video reviews. This is the first movie of this kind that I've ever made, so please comment with suggestions so we can make more helpful reviews in the future.



Feel free to subscribe to our new YouTube channel!

Video Transcript:


Hey everyone, and welcome to the first video review by the Ann Arbor Gun Guys, covering the Streamlight TLR-1s. This is the newer edition rated at 160 lumens and includes a strobe function. I noticed there’s a general lack of information on this model so I decided this would be a fitting target for our first video review.

Of course the first step after unboxing is installing the batteries. Some people have trouble with this at first, so I wanted to demonstrate the process really quickly. There is a lever on top of the light that is only accessible when it is uninstalled from the weapon. To unlock the battery door, push this lever all the way up and lock it to the forward position, which unhinges the bottom of the door. You can then unseal the o-ring and pop the door open, allowing installation of the batteries. To finish reinstalling you simply following the directions in reverse. You have to lokc the o-ring in there which can be a little difficult at first, but then just push it in while flipping the hinge forward and you’re good to go. Simple, right? Some people complain about the tight-fitting o-ring, but it’s a solid way to make sure the light stays waterproof and functional, so I’m all for it.

The strobe light is only accessible by double-tapping the momentary on switch within 0.4 seconds. A single tap will give you solid light, and the permanent on maintains the solid light. It ‘s advertised as being a programmable strobe, but as far as I can tell from the operating instructions, that just means you can disable the strobe if you wish, so not too big of a feature there.

The light is easily installed on a variety of weapon systems. It comes with an assortment of rail keys to fit whatever configuration you might have. The light is attached with the aid of a single screw that can be adjusted by hand or with a large flathead screwdriver. So I’ll show you how it works really quickly on this Glock 19.

And you just tighten her up, and you’re good to go. You’re ready to light ‘em up. Now I’ll show you a few demonstrations with the lights off and let you know how it goes.

Well, that’s all for now. It’s a great little tactical flashlight and is a great choice for any home defense application. Thanks guys, and stay tuned for more reviews.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 17: Handgun Carry Options

For all the talk about handguns on this blog, we haven't talked much about methods of carrying them. I thought I would offer a quick review of some of the carry options that I routinely use for concealed carry, and discuss the pros and cons of these systems.


From left to right in the top image: Wilderness magazine pouch, Raven magazine pouch, Ravine G19 holster, MTAC G20 Holster. All on Wilderness Instructor belt.


Raven Concealment Holster & Magazine Pouches

I love the fact that Raven holster systems are modular. I can wear the same holster either inside or outside the waistband by simply swapping out the stock OWB for accessory IWB hooks. I was able to order 1.75” belt loops even though they don’t list them, simply by adding a comment to my online order. I can easily conceal my Glock 19 in this holster under a t-shirt whether it’s worn inside or outside my waistband, though the IWB configuration hugs noticeable tighter to my body. Overall, I prefer IWB carry for everyday concealment and OWB for range use and tactical shooting, but that’s mostly individual preference.

One thing I don’t like about the Raven holster system is the inability to adjust retention strength. Both the holster and magazine pouches are molded kydex and you’re stuck with the factory setting, which is quite strong. I found the gun retention to be nearly perfect, but the magazines are much too difficult to remove for my taste. I have to wear them farther back on my belt to maintain the leverage needed for crisp reloading drills, which complicates things if you find yourself on the ground, especially in the supine position.

Minotaur MTAC Holster

The Minotaur MTAC holster sold by Comp-Tac is a fantastic holster for concealing large handguns like the G20. This leather-kydex hybrid combines the comfort of leather with the rigidity of polymer, and is fully adjustable for retention and cant. In terms of IWB carry efficiency, it’s very close to the Raven holster. You can also purchase addition kydex halves to make the same primary body function with any model of pistol. In the future I’ll probably stick with Raven simply because it can be worn outside of the belt, but if you like the comfort of leather and only desire to carry inside your belt, the MTAC is one of the best options out there.

Wilderness Tactical Belt & Magazine Pouches

I’m generally a fan of products by the Wilderness. They make a fantastic belt: I wear a 5-stitch instructor belt every day, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I also use their slings on two long guns. I hate to say it, but their magazine pouches are garbage. I bought the horizontal style because I thought it would ease concealment, but it’s bulky and wears awkwardly. Even though it was specifically sold to accommodate the 10mm double stack magazines of the Glock 20, the fit is far too tight, and the magazine catches on a seam in the nylon totally preventing smooth draws. So while I recommend most Wilderness products, I’d stay away from their mag pouches.


*The arrangement shown is clearly for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to be an actual layout for practical carry.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 16: Ruger 10/22

The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular rimfire rifles ever manufactured. Originally released in 1964, the 10/22 is traditionally chambered in .22 Long Rifle, yet limited variants were produced in .22 WMR and .17 HMR. One advantage to the 10/22 over other popular .22LR rifles such as the Marlin Model 60 is it’s 10-round rotary magazine, which is much faster and more practical than a front-fed tubular magazine. I recently decided that I needed one for small game hunting and target shooting.


My Model

There are countless subtypes of the 10/22 available from the factory, but I opted for the Sporter (Deluxe Sporter according to Cabela’s) edition, primarily for the high-quality checkered American Walnut stock. When I picked it off the shelf, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the flip-up rear sight and the crisp trigger.

The first day at the range, I shot 675 rounds out of the stock rifle with bulk ammunition without a single hiccup. It was a dream to shoot, and extremely easy to disassemble and clean back at home. It’s no Glock, but cleaning and maintenance on this rifle is just about as simple as it gets. Just one screw to remove the stock, and 2 pins to remove the trigger assembly, and one pin to remove the bolt.


Customizations

One of the reasons for the huge popularity of the Ruger 10/22 is its customizability and the availability of aftermarket accessories. You turn any run-of-the-mill 10/22 into a specialized hunting rifle, a compact survival tool, a tactical military-style practice gun, or an expensive flashy competition rifle. Most of the 10/22’s out there probably remain in the category of your standard stock weekend plinker, but the potential is there if you want to take advantage of it.

I opted to spend a few bucks optimizing my rifle for hunting small game, since I tend to focus on hunting-style customizations on my long guns. My main addition was a Vortex Crossfire 4x32 scope with Leupold scope rings. The 4x fixed magnification 32mm scope is one of the most popular general-purpose hunting optics ever made, and on a rimfire allows generous accuracy from 25-100 yards and beyond. That’s more than enough for targeting treed squirrels, so I’m happy.

The 10/22 Deluxe Sporter comes with 1” sling swivels, but the availability of slings in this width is lacking. I replaced these swivels with 1.25” quick-detachable swivels and swivel bases from Uncle Mike’s, so I could pair it with a thicker Wilderness sling. If you’re trying to figure out what parts you need to make the same replacement, both swivel taps in the Sporter stock accept ½” wood screws.

All 10/22’s come with one 10-round rotary magazine. Before experiencing this style of magazine I’ll admit I was skeptical about it, but they are incredibly reliable and compact. I’ve shot over 700 rounds through one of my rotary magazines without a single failure whatsoever, without cleaning it at all. I’m impressed considering how dirty rimfire cartridges can get after high-volume shooting.

I purchased a 25-round steel extended magazine by TacticalInc.com, but I can’t comment on this yet. These magazines are adjustable by 4 different screws, and so far I haven’t found a configuration that feeds or ejects reliably. I hope I can tune this magazine properly, since a high-capacity .22 could prove quite useful during a zombie apocalypse. I'll update everyone later on whether this mag is functional or a piece of junk, I just haven't figured it out yet.


Overall Impressions

The Ruger 10/22 has quickly become one of my favorite guns that I’ve ever shot. It’s accurate at close to medium ranges, useful for hunting and survival applications, and is American-made. It’s light weight in relation to other hunting rifles helps in making it highly portable, but its low mass makes off-hand shooting a bit of a challenge, so a shooting rest or proper shooting position is preferable for ethical kills. The price of .22LR ammunition easily allows high-volume shooting on any budget, and this is the kind of gun you can shoot all day for the price of going out to a movie. A .22 will eventually pay for itself in ammo savings along, but it’s also a blast to shoot.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 15: Vive Fusils Français

Just recently I had the opportunity to purchase a MAS 36/51, the infamous French rifle of the early to mid 20th century. At first, like so many others, I was a little ignorant and clueless about the MAS 36/51 but after a couple solid days of research I ended up bringing home a neat piece of history.

History of the MAS 36 series

The MAS Modèle 36 like many of France’s firearms previously adopted was created at Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne, hence the prefix on its designation – MAS.

The MAS 36 was most well known for being the main battle rifle of the French during World War Two however this is only partially true. Many people do not know that originally the MAS 36 could not be outfitted to all troops during the early part of the war, and were reserved for only frontline troops that would bare the majority of the German onslaught. Soldiers that found themselves in the rear, fighting in French colonies, or with a more logistical role were often using Lebel or Berthier rifles when MAS 36 rifles could not be supplied. Later in the war the more outdated rifles were phased out and French soldiers began to use the MAS 36 and the British Lee Enfield (to an extent).

After World War Two the French continued to use the MAS 36 extensively as it began to consolidate colonial territories. In 1949 the French adopted the semi automatic MAS 49 and began to issue it to the frontline troops of the time. While the MAS 36 was still being used it was no longer the “new kid on the block” and in 1951 the French military began retrofitting MAS36 with the ability to launch the standard 22mm NATO rifle grenade.

The new designation for the rifle was MAS 36/51 and had found a home back on the frontline allowing extra firepower on the squad level.

This new variant of the rifle saw much turbulence as France defended itself from insurgent forces in The First Indo-China war (1946-54) and the Algerian War (1954-62). The MAS 36 even found its way into the Suez Crisis (1956). The MAS 36/51 served its user well up until the time it was pulled from service well into the 1960s, a truly amazing run of over 30 years of combat action.

Mechanics of the MAS 36/51

At the end of the Great War the French took ideas implemented by rifles of the major participating countries, both allied and enemy. Some of these include the bent curve found on the American P1917 Enfield, the 5 round box magazine of the German Gewehr, and the design of the locking lugs on the bolt from the British Lee Enfield. They took these concepts and designs and formulated an extremely robust rifle that would last many years even in the toughest combat environments.

The MAS 36 series has a cool feature that can’t be found on many other rifles. Beneath the barrel a chamber holds the bayonet until needed, and then at that point it can just be flipped around and locked into that very same chamber to secure it for use. A cool feature for sure!

Unlike the early MAS 36s the MAS 36/51 is equipped with items to allow it to fire a wide assortment of rifle grenades. The upgrades in 1951 installed a very intricate grenade launching sight and spigot to affix the projectile too. With these installed the user can fire high explosive, anti-tank, and general purpose grenades up to 400m, a tremendous addition to the standard rifleman’s arsenal.

The MAS 50 years later…

I had a great opportunity when buying this rifle. The gentlemen whom I bought it from originally purchased it in 1999 and had never shot it. When I picked it up it was still covered in packing grease I can only imagine was from the 1960s when it was taken out of service.

Overall thoughts on the rifle are pretty high. The rifle is built like a tank and the weight for such a relatively short rifle shows it. The sights are crude but allows for a soldier or even untrained peasant to be considerably accurate. The action of the bolt is not smooth or crisp but gives the feeling of robustness. Overall the MAS 36 feels like the AK47 of its day, it’s just unfortunate that it never got the repertoire to go along with it.

That’s it for now, stayed tuned more to come.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 14: Picture of the Day

People own firearms for a variety of reasons. They're fun to shoot at the range, enjoyable to collect, and capture important pieces of history. First and foremost however, they are purpose-built tools.

As I described in one of my recent posts, I have optimized one of my tools for hunting game. Spring turkey season kicked off this week, and after numerous failed attempts, I finally harvested my first bird on Thursday. It feels great to put your own food on the table after spending days in the field, and hunting can be a rewarding way to experience an American pastime while giving you a reason to keep your shooting skills sharp.


Turkey sandwiches, anyone?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 13: Picture of the Day

Today's picture of the day: the worst centerfire ammunition I've ever shot. This 9mm ammo is manufactured by MFS 2000 in Hungary, I bought it at Cabela's because it was on sale for $12 a box (now $10), making it the cheapest brass-cased 9mm that I could find. Today I had a 9% (!!!) failure to fire rate out of my Glock 19, which has NEVER had another malfunction. 2 of the 9 failed rounds didn't fire on their second strike, either. The primers are pure trash.


My Glock has worked flawlessly with Speer, Fiocchi, Winchester, Federal, and Sellier & Bellot, but this stuff is pure garbage.
Do not buy it.

On the other hand, I got the opportunity to practice FTF drills...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 12: Mossberg 500 Turkey Shotgun & Optics

If you didn't know, this Monday kicks off Michigan's spring wild turkey season! So I figured I would make a post introducing you to my turkey shotgun and the rationale for selecting good turkey hunting gear. My focus will be on shotgun optics, because this topic isn't often discussed but it can provide a distinct advantage out in the field.

The platform I selected was the Mossberg 500, because it's and can be configured for any possible purpose. It is pump-action, which brings down the cost, and is easier to field strip. I can use this gun for hunting deer, small game, turkey, and as a home defense weapon simply by dropping in the appropriate load. The 500 is durable and relatively inexpensive. The base model I purchased included a thumbhole Monte Carlo stock and fiber optic sights, with a 20" barrel and a threaded choke.


HUNTING OPTICS

Like I said, I use my shotgun for turkey, deer, and small game, and I decided to mount a 1.5-4.5 x 20 scope to assist in hunting. If you don't already know, the first set of numbers is the magnification, which is adjustable in this case, and the second number is the aperture size. The larger the aperture, the more light gets transmitted through the glass, assisting in low light conditions.

If you get a Mossberg is like mine, it should be "drilled and tapped," and have 4 screws on the top of the receiver that can be removed to mount a rail. I bought a two-piece Weaver rail, which is just screwed in to allow attachment of scope rings. I got a nice set of rings that I trust to withstand the recoil of my 12 gauge without loosening up over time. Then there's the scope itself. So total, it's three pieces you'll need to get to mount a scope.

My scope setup consists of the following parts:
- Weaver 48473 Matte Top Base Pair For Mossberg 500
- Leupold Quick Release Weaver Style Rings 49853, 1", Low, Matte
- Nikon Monarch Turkey Shotgun Scope 6590, Turkey Pro Reticle

Scopes made specifically for shotguns usually have longer eye relief, which is helpful if you use magnum hunting loads. Also, keep in mind that the eye relief is shortened with a variable power scope at higher magnifications.

Any rail will do, as long as it's drilled for your specific shotgun. The cheaper ones are made of aluminum and the more expensive ones are steel. I just went with aluminum to save a few bucks, and I prefer the two-piece rails for aesthetic reasons. As for the rings, just make sure they match the diameter of your scope. Most scopes are 1" in diameter, but there are other configurations out there so just be sure you match them. I went with this Leupold model because I liked the quick-release style where you don't need a torx wrench to remove the scope, because I remove it for shooting clays. They come in several heights, and "low" should be sufficient for scopes with an aperture less than 25mm.

With the Turkey Pro reticle of this particular model scope, the center crosshairs are very faint, while the circle around the center is heavy. I think this is perfect for switching between shot and slugs, but a different reticle might be ideal for a dedicated slug gun. Nikon's Monarch African Rifle scope looks almost identical, but the parallax is set for 100 yards (vs. 50 with the turkey) and the reticle is a German variant.

There is slight chromatic aberration evident when the sun is positioned just right, but not noticeable unless you're looking for it. It works great with both eyes open and allows fast target acquisition. The optical quality seems pretty consistent at all zooms, and it works well in low light, considering the small aperture.

I don't have a ton of experience with scopes, but I do have experience with camera optics, and you get what you pay for. Nikon is a great trade-off of cost and quality in my opinion, and I have been very happy with this model.

OTHER DETAILS

One of the most important aspects of preparing a shotgun for hunting season is a task called patterning. Every shotgun, barrel, and choke will behave differently when fired, so it's important to try a large variety of different shotshells to see what performs best in your setup. After trying half a dozen different kinds, I settled with 3" Winchester Extreme Elite magnum turkey loads in #4 shot because they pattern most consistently in my particular gun.

Shooting trap is a lot of fun. All you need to guarantee several hours of fun at the range is a cheap plastic clay thrower, a box of sporting clays, and a friend. Shooting trap with a scope mounted is cumbersome, so it's best to either take it off or use a dedicated shotgun for this purpose. You usually use a wide choke while shooting clays due to the small shot size and close range.

Speaking of chokes, selecting one will be the topic of a future post. You can use whatever choke comes with the gun, but many choose to upgrade to attain more consistent patterns. I use a Briley Ported Super Turkey in this gun, and it was worth every penny.

I tried to cover a lot of ground in just one post. This was essentially an overview of my gear, why I chose it, and what you need if you're looking to build a similar shotgun. If you have any questions feel free to comment.

Good luck this season, everyone!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 11: Picture of the Day

The old saying of "a picture is worth a thousand words" isn't always true. Ever since the induction of the National Firearms Act of 1968/86 fully automatic firearms have been extremely regulated and pricey! That little engraved four letter word makes this $10.00 piece of stamped steel worth upwards of four thousand words - if the words happen to be United States Dollar...


Stay tuned for more pictures and information from your favorite firearm owning Ann Arborites...

Day 10: The 1871/88 Beaumont Vitali


Today we'll look at one of my newly favored rifles - the Dutch Beaumont Vitali. It's a long story on how exactly I came to learn about the Beaumont, but I am glad that I did as today it is one of my favorite rifles. First we'll look at the history of the rifle a little bit, then move into specifications, and finally what makes it a great rifle to own.


A Brief Beaumont History:
The 1871/88 Beaumont - Vitali is an original 1871 Beaumont with the famous Vitali box magazine installed in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The original Beaumont 1871 was a single shot and when it came into service it had an outstanding repertoire for being an excellent rifle. Designed for the Dutch armed forces by Edouard De Beaumont, a rather strange and eccentric man, to replace the Dutch variant of the Snider-Enfield that had been in use in the previous few decades.

Two things happened during the lifespan of the Beaumont that played a significant role in its future - the creation of the 8mm Lebel and of the Vitali magazine feeding system. Vitali was a general in the Italian army and a impressive thinker when it came to the future of firearms. Vitali created a small and odd, yet rather beautiful, box magazine. Shortly after its creation the Swiss and Italian armies bought the rights and retro-fitted its current breach loading rifles with the new design - thereby giving them a substantial increase in firepower over other countries of the time. While the Dutch were slow to see the benifit they eventually adopted the Vitali and began the mass retro fitting of all the original Beaumont, now being called Beaumont-Vitalis.

The other event that took place during this time was the creation of the round that changed warfare, the 8mm Lebel. The 8mm Lebel was significant for two reasons. The first being that it was a smaller projectile than the standard military rounds of the day. Second, it was the first military cartridge adopted that used the newly invented smokeless powder. The combination of these two made for an extremely accurate, powerful, fast moving round that required more than a significant amount less of rifle cleaning and maintenance compared to black powder. While the Beaumont was originally designed fire black powder propelled projectiles they were re-configured to handle the increase in pressure from smokeless rounds when they had their Vitali magazines installed.

Specifications of the Beaumont Vitali 1871/88:
When the retro-fiting occurred the Beaumont was already significantly outdated due to the recent progressions in technology such as the 8mm Lebel. The original Beaumont cartridge was 11.3x50mm with a rimmed case, similar to a 50/90 Sharps. It held a 345 grain projectile and was propelled by black powder. To get the most energy it could from the rifle it used a 32.5 inch barrel. When the rifles were updated in the late 1880s they had changed the cartridge dimensions to 11.2x52mm, still using a rimmed case, but now using a small amount of smokeless powder. Similar to other cartridge designs during the time many people did not know how much power they could really get out of the smokeless powder so the effective power of the round did not change much.A really neat thing that I had noticed on the Beaumont rifles is how the sight markings were inscribed. As if from a right handed person's point of view, when looking at the left side of the sight you see sight markings that graduate every 100m. If you were to roll the rifle over counter clockwise to see the other side of the sight, you would notice that they are upright even thought the rifle is now inverted! The right side of the sight is incremented by 50m and this ingenious setup allows the rifle's user to quickly make adjustments within 50m accuracy with just the roll of the rifle - very cool stuff!

Why the Beaumont?

But why the Beaumont? What is so special about this rifle that has singled it out amongst so many other possible purchases or intrigue. To be honest, at first it was price. I had found one for $150 which unfortunately had been "sporterized" and completely sanitized of its historical value. After I had bought it I immediately felt terrible, being the lover of all guns historical. At that time I had the good fortunate of meeting a truly amazing guy who not only gave me a stellar deal on a Beaumont that he was selling but also told me all the history I could ever want to know about them (even how to reload for them)!


Speaking of reloading for the Beaumont, its the only way to go! With prices well over $90.00 plus shipping for a box of 20 newly crafted 11mm Dutch you have two choices, hang the gun on your wall or reload. I had no intention on letting this rifle collect dust so with the help of the previous owner I got all the information I needed to reload. With the rifle the previous owner included a handful of custom shells to reload with. These shells are an unholy combination of resized 45/70 Government brass which is then wrapped up in a cut down 32 gauge shot shell to fit snugly in the chamber. With this "brass" I loaded it with 57 grains of black powder, a regular large rifle primer, and capped it off with a 345 grain lead projectile.

These bad boys shot like a dream. Not too much kick, but just enough. The end specs of the cartridge shot from my rifle is close to: 345gr Lead Projectile, with 57gr of Triple Seven black powder substitute, producing around 1570fps and a similar muzzle energy near 1600 ft-lbs.


In the end, the most simple and unthoughtful reason I could give for my extreme passion towards the Beaumont is the history it holds. I could go on and on about the many different aspects that make this rifle special but it would take books.

I hope you enjoyed this installment of the Ann Arbor Gun Guys! Check back for some reviews on the C-93 (semi-auto version of the HK33) and a new AK74 built by Lancaster Arms.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 9: Picture of the Day

To keep the content rolling I decided to post up a picture from one of our recent rainy range days. The authors of this site are busy finishing up the semester, but expect a drastic increase in post frequency starting in May. In the meantime, please bear with us!