Category Archives: Shooting in General

Shooting the PTR PDWR – So Cool!

Folks, the PTR PDWR is a fun gun!  Yeah, I said the “gun” word because it just fits.  After taking the time to lubricate and clean the pistol as I wrote in the last post, my two brother-in-laws and I took it out to the range.

Plain and simple, it ran like a top.  We did not have one single problem of any kind.  We were running surplus aluminum mags from Robert RTG.  The ammo was Prvi Partizan (PPU)  .308 M80 145gr FMJ.  I’ve had great luck with PPU ammo over the years and have run a variety of their calibers and loads.  This .308 ammo comes in a heavy plastic sealed “battle pack” that SGAmmo sells.  If you don’t know SG Ammo, they are a great ammo supplier that is a family run business.  I buy most of my ammo from them and have nothing but good things to say about them.

We sighted the Vortex 1-6×24 Strike Eagle scope in at at about 25 yards and then just had fun.  We weren’t shooting for accuracy but were having fun shooting “zombies” as we called them with the big Splatterburst 18×24 silhouette targets that I really like.

This time out, I was using my new Howard Leight electronic ear muffs.  These are cool because they have directional sound amplification for normal sounds – like talking with your friends.  When you shoot, they immediately cut the sound off and protect your ears.  This is a real nice feature for me as I can’t hear a thing when I wear ear muffs due to my hearing loss and have to take them off to talk to someone.  At any rate, these Howard Leights have a great reputation and I must say that I am very happy with them.

One of my brother-in-laws was wearing my new MPOW headphones and thought they did a really good job on cutting down the sound.  These are a bargain price at Amazon and work way better than my old cheap Silencios in terms of hearing protection.

Now we did have a funny lesson learned – see how short the barrel is relative to the Caldwell front bag?  Yeah, if you get the muzzle brake over that bag and fire, it will rain some kind of brown pebbles (corncob media maybe?) down on you as the muzzle blast shreds the top of the bag 🙂  I have to confess, I am the one who did it and had to use duct tape to seal the top up so we could use it the rest of the day.

The whole point of the range visit was for me any my two brother-in-laws to have fun and function test the PDWR.  It performed admirably – neither of them are shooters and, for Jamie, this was his first time shooting anything – I think he did great.

Not one single problem – no feed issues, no ejection issues – it just performed great through about 200 rounds.

At any rate, I did learn a few things:

  1. It upheld the good opinion I have of PTR firearms.
  2. The SOB brace can handle .308 recoil just fine and lines the eye up for the scope great.
  3. As expected, the Vortex scope was great.
  4. The weight of the PDWR absorbs quite a bit of recoil making it a pleasant shooter but there is still recoil that moves you off target with any kind of rapid fire.
  5. The muzzle brake does an okay job but I am going to check into alternatives to cut the recoil down further.  The bird cage design is okay but there are definitely better designs out there.  The PDWR has a 5/8″-24 TPI threading so there are definitely options.
  6. The PDWR handguard moves forward and backward more than I care for.  I am going to experiment on tightening it up or either moving to a DTAC handguard or back to the original PTR handguard.  Note – the PDWR uses a MP5-style handguard.

Bottom line, I am very happy with the PDWR and plan to work with it some more on the above plus see how it does as I work my way back to 100 yards.  Everything in this sessions was at 25 yards or less and I am curious how it performs as the distance grows.  I would recommend the PDWR to anyone looking for a short HK91/G3-type roller lock for short distance use.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



 

Lubricating the PTR PDWR and Cleaning the Barrel

The last step in preparation for my first trip to the range was to clean and lubricate the PTR PDWR.   One thing I learned with my for PTR was that proper lubrication makes a world of difference and I could tell in working the PDWR that it definitely need lubricating so here’s what I did.

If you have any questions about field stripping, watch this video:

Also, if you need any parts diagrams or more detailed questions, be sure to read the HK G3 Armorer’s Manual.

In general, you know you need to lubricate all moving parts of the firearm such as the trigger and bolt.  So let’s start with the trigger.

Lubricating the Trigger Pack:

I employ a very old rule of thumb – If it slides, grease it.  If it rotates, oil it.  That simple rule has helped me take care of a ton of rifles and pistols over the years and can help you too.  [Click here for more on lubricating a firearm in general]

I used a small squeeze bottle filled with Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 to reach in and lubricate all places where a part rotated on a pin.  I then worked the various parts of the trigger pack to make sure the oil go to where it needed to go.I used Tetra Gun Grease to liberally coat the top of the hammer.

Lubricating the Bolt Assembly:

Now the HK bolt assembly is involved and the following is a diagram from the HK G3 Armorer’s Manual:

 

In short, I oiled all of the internals but did not fully disassemble the bolt.  I put the assembly into a non-marring vise, twisted the bolt head off and then reached in with the squeeze bottle to lubricate the rollers, locking piece, firing pin, etc.

After that I applied a thin coat of Tetra Grease to the bolt carrier body and put more on the bottom and sides of the bolt where it would be making contact with the receiver and riding over the hammer.

Cleaned the Barrel:

One thing I always do before heading to the range is to clean the barrel.  If you look down in most, you will see varying levels of crud ranging from oil to dust to stuff left over from machining.  In the case of the PDWR, the barrel looked pretty good but I still wanted to clean it.

Over the years I have tried all kinds of different approaches to cleaning barrels.  The fast and easy one I use now on non-precision firearms that just need a touch up is a bore snake.   These things are caliber specific and give you everything you need in an “all in one approach”.  I spray CLP on the snake and down the barrel then I drop the weighted cord down the barrel and pull the snake on through.  I repeat this until the bore is shiny bright.

Note, there are a ton of brands including cheap generic imports.  I’ve used Hoppes and Sage & Braker brands with no problems at all.

At this point the PDWR was ready for the range.  The action felt and sounded good.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



 

The PTR PDWR – A Compact .308 Powerhouse

As you know, I really like AK firearms but I also like firearms based on the HK roller lock design.  Maybe 3-4 years ago I owned a PTR-KMF4R and it was very accurate and I also learned a lot in terms of maintenance, tuning, etc.  Of course, I had to mess with it and add a PRS stock, new trigger, and scope but it really was very accurate.  As my interests changed, that rifle was sold to fund other projects but I was impressed.

With the reversal of the ATF position on arm braces, I again found myself looking at heavy big pistols that needed braces.  I really like the maneuverability of these weapons.  While looking at options for my next project, I ran across the PTR-105, also known as the “PDWR“.  This thing’s specs rock and I figured out quickly this was my next project.

  • 8.5″ heavy bull barrel with a 5/8×24 thread and 1/10 twist
  • 23.5″ overall length
  • 8.1 pounds empty
  • Milled aluminum handguard that uses proprietary removable rails.  Note, the PDWR actually uses MP5 handguards so you have a ton of options if you want to try different models.
  • It has both button and paddle mag releases
  • The trigger is a lawyer friendly 9-10 pounds
  • 7.5″ welded top rail for optics, which means no additional optic rail is needed as you typically do with non-PTR firearms.
  • It has a swivel cap on the end that is actually a short tube that is the same diameter and pitch as an M4 buffer tube – which means putting on a buffer tube for a brace would be easy plus not come loose.

To this, I should add that you are basically looking at a cut down semi-automatic HK G3/91.  This means you have tons and tons of options for magazines and parts not to mention know how.  I buy my HK-related parts from either HKParts.net or RobertRTG.

You can avail of the various books and manuals out there such as the  HK G3 Armorer’s Manual or either of these operating manuals – an HK91 Scanned Copy or this HK G3 Green Scanned Copy

Also, for those of you unfamiliar with PTR – they have been around for a while now.  They are currently made in Aynor, South Carolina with their original tooling and designs coming from an HK G3 licensed factory in Portugal that they bought in 2003.  This helped them really get started and they have been refining their products ever since.

So, I did some shopping around and ran into Kelley Enterprises via Gunbroker.  They had great reviews there so I also visited their website and met Chuck, the owner.

Chuck is one of those guys who really knows guns, likes his job and likes to talk with folks.  I called him once to talk about MP5 clones and had a great experience with that (which is a blog series for another time) and then when I wanted to find out about this PDWR, he gave me a great price.

Folks, how often do you run into somebody who does exactly what he says, follows up and even sends texts with all the tracking info?  I have nothing but good things to say about Chuck and have now ordered two roller locks from him (this PDWR and a POF-5). You can either visit his website, email or call him at  (305) 923-6560.

Chuck shipped the rifle to my FFL – Scott Igert of Modern Antique Firearms.  Another man of integrity and deep knowledge that I profoundly respect and recommend to anyone who is looking for an FFL in the Southwest Michigan or Northwest Indiana area or is considering buying one of the many unique firearms that passes through his shop in Benton Harbor, MI.

So, I ordered early in the week, Scott had it by Friday and I was there on Sunday to pick it up.  The two first things I noticed were the weight and the big magazine for holding the .308 (7.62×51) rounds.

I’ll tell you what I did to the pistol in the next post but I will say this – it ran like a top.  Not one single problem after almost 200 rounds but that is a story for another day.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 

HK G3 .308 Winchester & 7.62 mm x 51 mm NATO Do Everything Manual


Do everything manual
List Price: $5.45 USD
New From: $5.45 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Firearms Lube Tip – Use Mobil 1 Synthetic 5W-30 Oil and The Right Dispenser

I’ve been experimenting with different lubricants for a year now because a lot of the firearm “oils” are 99% marketing and 1% oil at a premium price.  You’ll notice that how to lube a firearm is a religious argument for many and I’m not going to get into that.

After doing a lot of digging, I bought two different types of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) (Dexron III and ATF+4) and Mobile 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 engine oil.  I then loaded up a bunch of squeeze bottles that have needle dispensers on them, labeled each and proceeded to try them out.

Here’s the big secret – they all work.  Of the three, I like the Mobil 1 mainly because it doesn’t have a red color or the smell of transmission fluid.

I’ve now used it to lubricate my AKs, RPK, Uzi, POF-5/MP5 and PTR PDW and am very happy with the results.  It works just fine and a quart will last you forever.

I still prefer Tetra Grease where sliding parts are involved.  As the old saying goes, “if it rotates then oil it.  If it slides, then grease it” has always worked for me though I do admit to reading armorer manuals to see their recommended lube points.

The Right Dispensers Make a Huge Difference!

Regardless of the oil you use, having the right dispenser really helps.  Growing up, we used engine oil out of the tried and true cans with the finger squeeze pumps.  I really don’t use that type of dispenser on firearms but do when I work on cars and what not where a large volume is needed.

With firearms, you’ll notice that you often need to get the right lube to the right place.  In the shop, I use the squeeze bottles.  The dispenser pens are something I take in the field as they don’t leak and will not make a huge mess if crushed — let me assure you the bottles will do just that so that is why they stay in the shop.

You can get both of these dispensers very easily off Amazon.  Be sure to read reviews as some brands leak and others don’t.  The ones I am listing next are what I currently use.  I use the 25 gauge needle especially for reaching down into fire control groups and lubricating pins and their attached parts such as triggers, hammers, selectors, etc.

The 18 gauge is good for general use when I want to apply oil in larger quantities:

I have give of the Titan precision oiler pens and all work great:

Now there are still times where I want to spray on thin oil.  While I have used a ton of CLP over the years I find myself using Rem Oil quite a bit.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 

Has Shooting Messed Up Your Hearing? Cost Effective Hearing Aids Definitely Do Exist and You Have Choices!

Folks, I have shot firearms almost my whole life.  My dad would hold the .22 rifle up and let me pull the trigger when I was too little. Over the years I progressed to bigger and bigger firearms of course.  My buddies and I would give each other a hard time about ringing ears after shooting.  I didn’t even know about hearing protection until I got a Desert Eagle .44 Magnum and the dealer said I better get some good ear muffs.  After going shooting, I was sold.  Fast forward about 30 years and I always wear hearing protection and make anyone shooting with me do the same.  Now you may wonder why I feel so strongly about this plus my support of making suppressors as easy to purchase as any firearm.

Plain and simple, let me tell you that my hearing is shot.  I can’t hear my wife half the time – all joking aside.  I can watch people talk in a noisy room and not hear a thing they say.  I need to ask folks to repeat stuff – it’s very, very frustrating.

I have seen several hearing doctors over the years and they all point the finger to my years and years of shooting as the culprit.  It’s known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).  The sudden pressure of a firearm round going off can do a world of hurt to your ears.  I’m not going to go into details in this post but if you want to read more about the damage shooting can do to unprotected ears, click here, here, or here.

So now we are at the heart of this blog post -the current doctor identified my hearing loss in both ears, the right more than the left and in the upper frequencies.   I needed hearing aids —  he told me  that surgery would not help me.   Now please note I did have a professional exam by an ear-nose-throat specialist.  Hearing loss can happen for many reasons including impacted wax in the ear canal, viruses, etc.  It pays to know what you are dealing with and what your options are.

After the exam, I had a follow up appointment and talked to a lady in the doctor’s office about the hearing aid models they carried and they started around $1,500.  She was recommending a pair to me for $5,000.  Holy crap!!! The good news, she said, was that if I lost one, they would charge me $100 to replace the unit.  Wow…

All the models she showed me had pros and cons but what struck me was that the technology was totally unimpressive for the price.  Why can I get a quality Plantronics Voyager ear bud for my phone that supports Bluetooth for $59 from Amazon???  Their hearing aids required a giant clunky box to be worn around your neck just to do Bluetooth.  Seriously, my stinkometer started going off the more I thought about the pricing.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy anything and returned home after scheduling a follow up visit to decide on whether to buy the $3,300 or $5,000 models.  By the way, I needed a pair so I’d assume single units would be half what they quoted me.  It was a fortune regardless.

I was at home thinking about this problem and it dawned on me that a doctor’s office was likely to be higher than a kite and that the power of market demand must mean there are others offering lower cost solutions so I did a quick search on Amazon and jackpot.  There are tons and tons of hearing aid / hearing amplification products on Amazon and the prices start under $100.

I did my research and opted for the Britzgo BHA-1222 because it used rechargeable batteries and got good reviews plus the cost was very low.  It seemed like there wasn’t an exact match for what I wanted – more frequency modes to try which sounds best, digital noise cancelling, adjustable tube for behind the ear and rechargeable.  The last part – rechargeable – matters to me because I have a hard time with small parts due to my tremor.

The BHA-1222 is not perfect but it fit my criteria for good enough — Interestingly it is listed on Amazon.com in multiple places and the reviewer scores vary a great deal.  In the end, I had a very simple theory – my hearing was shot and just about anything would be an improvement so pick something good enough and learn.

Each hearing aid arrived in its own case with its own charger, ear pieces, etc.  The below only shows one white package but I really got two sets of everything.

The hearing aids are not ear specific out of the box.  In other words, there is only one model you order regardless of ear.  You can twist the flexible tubes around to fit your ear.

The top silver button switches from high-frequency boost to low-frequency boost.  The middle rocker is for volume and I have mine as low as it will go.  The bottom is a stiff on-off switch.

I paid $129.50 for a pair and it shipped direct from Britzgo.  It arrived maybe 2-3 days later – I was pleased with that.  The instructions say to charge them for 7 hours so I did that.

I then selected the ear cone that fit my ear best and had to fiddle with getting the thing on right.  I’m getting better at sliding the unit behind my ear and the little probe into my ear.

After a month of using them, I have some observations:

Pros:

  • Cost effective – I’ve learned quite a bit so far and feel like I’m getting pretty good value.
  • They do have good battery life – I haven’t run out yet and charge them each night.  What is cool is that the charging cable has a USB cable on one end so that gives you a lot of flexibility for charging in the field, on trips, etc.
  • Boosts the volume all I need – I am at the minimum setting right now.  I’d say my hearing loss is right on the border hence some sounds seeming loud to me.
  • I can hear sounds I haven’t heard in a long time at low and even normal volumes.  It’s pretty cool actually and hard to describe.

Cons:

  • Despite noise cancellation claims – it still boosts either some or all of the other sounds besides what you want.  It can be distracting but I can deal with it.
  • I wish I could lower the volume further.  Even at its lowest setting, some sounds are too loud.
  • I am using the smallest ear cone and it fits but the right hearing aid has a tendency to fall off.  I’m still working on the fit.
  • If someone drags a chair across tile or concrete the sound will make me jump!  My wife gets quite a kick out of that.
  • We went and saw the new Star Wars movie and while it did a remarkable job at some points early on, I had to take them out as the high-volume sounds like explosions were clipped and I am betting that was intentional to protect the wearer (me) from further hearing damage.  This is actually a pro come to think of it 🙂
  • I wish the tubes from the amplifier units to the ear cones were adjustable – I think that might be one reason why the right hearing aid falls out but I can mange for now.

So, it’s a bit mixed but all in all I am good for now.   At this price, I can afford to start and learn.  If I find something better, I can change.  If I lose something or ruin one, I am not going to panic!

For example, I may consider something from Otofonix or the Banglijian BLJ-109 at some point in the future.

I wanted to write this up and share about shopping for hearing aids on Amazon as I have had many people tell me that they can’t afford hearing aids even though they want them – well, at least you have options now.  I’d still recommend starting with a doctor first to make sure you know if you are a candidate for hearing aids and how much loss you need to compensate for.

In terms of the listings on Amazon – read the features and the reviews.  I always pay careful attention to what people write and not just the score.  There are a ton of vendors with a ton of models so be careful – I see some get lousy scores and I would flat out avoid anything less than four stars but it does depend on the price and how much you want to gamble.  My preference is to see at least 30 reviews but you will notice many of the hearing aids have fewer reviews so the more reviews the better in general.  No reviews at all would be too risky for me.

By the way, I did buy a small semi-rigid case to go in my pocket and hold both hearing aids.  I am very happy with it.

I hope this helps you or someone you care about who needs help finding an affordable hearing aid.

To help you start digging here are a number of affordable models on Amazon that have a four star rating currently and are backed up by Amazon’s excellent customer service:

The following are the same model as what I am currently using – the Britzgo BHA-1222:


See larger image

Additional Images:




Britzgo Digital Hearing Amplifier (Rechargeable) BHA-1222 (Pair) / Varta Battery/ 5th Generation Digital Chip – USA/ FDA Approved/ Personal Sound Device


Features: EXTRA LONG LIFE RECHARGEABLE VARTA BATTERY, CHARGE PROTECTION. SAFE. Save money with a rechargeable hearing aid made by the industry leader. Intentionally designed with an extra long battery charge, and charger protection to increase the battery life., AMERICAN MADE KNOWLES SPEAKER- SUPERIOR AMPLIFIER WITH 2 FREQUENCY MODES Hear through a top quality Knowels speaker and multiple settings. The BHA-1222 has 2 preset amplifier modes accessed by pushing the “M” button on the device. Program 1- High frequency range and, program 2- low frequency range for your comfort., 1 YEAR WARRANTY, FREE REPLACEMENTS, 90 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE! If for any reason you’re not completely satisfied with your hearing aid, we will issue a refund or replace as requested., SIMPLE TO USE & EASY TO WEAR Easy, one finger button controls. Easy to wear and lightweight. Adjustable tubes for both right and left ears. Comfortable fit., DOUBLE LAYER DOMES & DIGITAL CHIP TO DECREASE WHISTLING SOUNDS Our 5th generation digital chip is equipped with Smart Noise Cancellation that significantly reduces ‘white noise’ and ambient distortions, paired with our double layer domes, this hearing amplifier allows the user to hear what’s most important.

Britzgo Digital Hearing Amplifier ( Rechargeable)

Personal Sound Amplification Device

The BHA-1222 is our most popular rechargeable hearing amplifier, and one of the best selling rechargeable aids on the market. Smaller lightweight size, makes for a comfortable fit and it’s simple to use.

Our unique design includes German made Varta internal batteries. They are known for outlasting the competition, and are safer to use. Simply recharge your battery when it runs low, and save money on replacing batteries.

This BHA-1222 comes with a 5th generation digital chip ,and is equipped with Smart Noise cancellation. This eliminates unwanted white noise, whistling and general auditory distortions, allowing the wearer to hear what is most important.

There are 2 excellent sound presets that enhance high and low frequencies with one simple touch-control button. These frequency settings are channeled through a top grade Knowles speaker, made in the USA.

The BHA-1222 is backed by a 1 year warranty. If for any reason you decide that our hearing amplifier isn’t right for you, within 90 days, we’ll issue a full refund. No questions asked.

List Price: $349.00 USD
New From: $129.50 USD In Stock

Rock Island 52000 10mm 6″ High Cap Pro Match Pistol – First Impressions of the Big Rock

I must admit I have a fascination with the 10mm auto cartridge.  First, it has cool ballistics. Second, it can be found in a number of semiauto pistol platforms including my favorite 1911/2011 platform.  Third, I’ve wanted one since Miami Vice in the 1980s 🙂  Honestly, it is the first two reasons – the ballistics of the 10mm are pretty amazing and I wanted something in a 1911/2011 style pistol.

While some folks were reading the blog post, they pointed out a common misconception that the 10mm and .41 magnum are similar when, in fact, they are not.  I went over to gunnersden.com and grabbed some data from their ballistics table for pistol cartridges to show the 10mm compared to the .40, .41 magnum and .45 ACP.

 

Over the past year, Scott Igert, of Modern Antique Firearms, has helped me track down two 10mm pistols that I want to share with you including the Rock Island 52000 6″ Pro Match Ultra (some call it the “Big Rock”) and the Dan Wesson 6″ Bruin.  In this post, I’ll focus on the Big Rock.

My first choice was a STI Perfect 10 but they had stopped the 10mm model I wanted in 2016.  I wasn’t too keen in buying an out of production model so I continued digging around and wound up reading about the Big Rock. Now I realize you can’t compare STI and RIA pistols so let’s just shelf that right up front.  What did intrigue me about the Big Rock were very good reviews and a very affordable price point for a true double stack 16+1 10mm pistol with a 6″ match barrel.

In case you aren’t that familiar with RIA pistols, they are made by Armscor of the Philippines. Armscor is the biggest producer of 1911 style pistols in the world including making pistols for Auto-Ordnance, High Standard and even the STI Spartan. These folks know their way around a 1911 and the Philippines has a big time gun cultuure either equal to  the US or only second to the US.

While their manufacturing has traditionally been in the Philippines, my understanding is that some production may be moving to the US, but the Big Rock I bought was made in the Philippines by gunsmiths in their Medallion custom shop.  The Medallion gunsmiths hand select and assemble each pistol resulting in a pretty solid pistol with an excellent prive:value combination.

Now, value really depends on the customer – either me or you.  So let me tell you key features that mattered to me:

  • 4140 Ordnance Steel that is CNC machined – folks, read up on the first batches of 10mm pistols including the Deltas. They would shoot themselves loose.  Metallurgy has come a long way.  I read good reports of the fitment and functioning before I bought the pistol and mine arrived snugly assembled. I loathe loose slides and barrels – the Big Rock is solid.
  • 2.5 pounds unloaded and 2.9 pounds loaded – I wanted it to soak up the recoil of the pistol plus heavier pistols always work in my favor when it comes to dampening my tremor.
  • 16+1 rounds – because you don’t buy toilet paper a square at a time 🙂  Seriously, I prefer more ammo and I like thicker grips. Years ago I had a Desert Eagle .44 Mk.V and loved the feel. This is the same way.  I wear XL-sized gloves due to big palms and relatively short fingers. I really like the feel of the 2011 family. In the event I were to ever use this pistol in a self-defense situation, I would prefer the extra rounds.
  • On a related note, the pistol has G11 grip panels that aren’t overly aggressive cut. G11 is basically a family of epoxy refinforced fiberglass laminates. They are strong, durable and aren’t going to split, warp, or wear like wood.  Havin worked with it on knives, I knew this would be a solid route to go. My first preference in a 1911 single stack are the rubber Hogue grips but he Big Rock’s grip would be too big for me.  I didn’t even try changing the G11 panels out once I received it. The big frame and these G11 panels work well together,
  • 6″ bull barrel with 6 grooves, a 1:16 twist and integral feed ramp – this barrel will be more accurate than I ever will be. I liked the fact it did not use a bushing, that the feed ramp was there and it had the right twist rate for 10mm.  As an aside, I went with the 6″ barrel because this will be a range or hunting pistol. If I wanted something for carry or duty, I would have gone with the RIA Tac Ultra FS (Full Size). RIA also makes a Tac Ultra MS (Mid-Size) with a 4.25″ barrel.  You’ll notice I didn’t mention Glock or SIG and that’s just because I wanted a 1911/2011.
  • Adjustable trigger pull from 4-6 pounds and adjustable over travel – I am a trigger snob. The Big Rock’s trigger is pretty decent but the trigger on my Dan Wesson Bruin is fantastic. When I have time, I want to dial the pull down some. The over travel is set right I just wish it broke a bit lighter, It’s a tad gritty but I expect that to wear in and smooth out as the parts get to know each other.
  • Fiber optic front sight and adjustable LPA-TRT rear sight – as I get older, I find simplicity more and more appealing. The problem with optics is that they break, the point of impact shifts, batteries die, you have to fumble to turn them on in a high-stress situation, etc. I wanted good reliable sights. Now I will tell you the front fiber optic sight was too dark for me out of the box and I had Scott work his magic on upgrading the sights but that’s a story for another time.
  • Picatinny Rail – on pistols that I may use for self defense, I like to mount a true weapon light and laser. The Big Rock has a nice long steel rail to do whatever you want. I mounted a Streamlight TLR-2 HL G, which is a reliable 800 lumen light with an integral green laser.  I’ll tell you more about that in a future post.
  • Magazine funnel – when I am in a rush, I want a nice big magazine well to shove the next mag into.  I find them more forgiving and faster than having to slam a magazine into a tiny opening.The Big Rock comes with a nice big funnel already installed
  • Parkerized finish – I do manganese parkerizing and like the dull black look. Keep it oiled and you are good to go. Note, Parkerizing isn’t a rust proofing – it modifies the surface layer of steel allowing for other things to get a good hold. For example, parkerizing and grease, parkerizing and cosmoline or parkerizing and then a weapons finish such as Molyresin.

Now you notice I didn’t list the dimensions as important considerations and that was because I didn’t really care how long (9.75″), wide (1.41″) or tall (5.5″) the pistol was. If these are important to you, great – they just weren’t important to me when I bought this pistol.

In buying this pistol, it was not easy to find and required some serious online hunting at Able, Buds, etc.  Honestly, the biggest problem with the Big Rock is finding a dealer that has it in stock. Scott was looking for me and I also had a number of automated searches set up on GunBroker and finally one showed up for sale by Elk County Arms & Ammo of St. Mary’s,PA, for $1,2339.49 out the door. These folks were professional and a delight to deal with. They promptly processed Scott’s FFL information and shipped the pistol just a few days later.  If you see something listed by them on Gunbroker you’ll notice a ton of positive reviews and one of them is mine!

To break the pistol in, I bought 500 rounds of S&B 180 grain FMJ and then Underwood 155gr XTP and 180gr bonded jacketed HP ammo. I also bought three more magazines direct from Armscor’s website.  I had to call them and confirm the magazine so here’s the link if you want to do the same.

So, the pistol comes seriously covered in oil. WhenI was taking it out of the bag,I couldbn’t help but think “Wow – this is awesome!”  Getting ready to go to the range, I field stripped it, cleaned the barrel and lubed everything just like I would any other 1911 with the exception that you have to unscrew the guide rod and there is no bushing to deal with.

We set up the target and the pistol functioned great with the S&B 180gr FMJ rounds. With the Underwood, things got ugly fast. Literally every 3rd to 5th round the pistol would fail to feed (ejection was fine but not feeding). This happened regardless of magazine or Underwood load.

So, I took it home and contacted Underwood and they questioned the recoil spring. I bought  Wolff 22# spring and started monkeying around with stripping the frame further and got the mainspring and trigger jammed – this was totally my fault and I decided to have Scott send it back to RIA to fix both my mistake and to check about feeding HP ammo. I was fully prepared to pay them for my mistake but they took care of everything in about 2-3 weeks and sent the pistol back to Scott noting that they could find nothing wrong with the pistol that would affect its ability to handle JHP ammo.

Now Scott is a good friend of mine and has been around guns and reloading his whole life plus is a career police officer so he is very pargmatic about everything.  Scott was also intrigued about what was going on with the Big Rock and took a closer look at the Underwood Ammo. He noticed there was quite a lip at the top of the case and that almost all the Underwood ejected cases had a scrape/gouge created during feeding, He then speculated that the match chamber of the Big Rock probably needed a more of a taper whereas the Underwood ammo was all straight. The next photo shows the scrape and gouge in one example Underwood round:

Scott took home a box of the Underwood ammo and put a slight taper on all and I met him the next day with my pistol – they all fed. We also took a box of SIG V-Crown 180gr JHPs which came from SIG with a visible taper and they fed just fine as well.  In the next photo, the Underwood round is on the left and the SIG is on the right – you can see the difference!

I contacted Underwood and told them about my findings and was a bit disappointed that they blamed the pistol and did nothing to compensate me for all the hassle – heck, I would have been happy to get a couple of more boxes of ammo from them. By the way, my 10mm Bruin feeds the Underwood ammo no problem so the issue is with that particular pistol and ammo combination.  Underwood did say they would take my findings into consideration and potentially change their production method but it did not sound certain at all.  Bottom line, I will not be ordering more Underwood ammo for this pistol.

So, a very valuable lesson was reinforced again — it pays to test ammo and find what is reliable in your pistol.  As the saying goes, practice, practice, practice.  Scott is going to take the balance of my 500 rounds of Underwood ammo and put a taper on them so I am not out my investment plus make me some ammo.  I’m also going to finally get into reloading myself based on his recommendations plus will contact some of the other ammo companies to find out who else tapers their ammo just in case.


April 2018 Update:  I did resolve this reliability problem with Underwood Ammo in the Big RockClick here to learn how.


The Big Rock is a very cool pistol and I am impressed. Their excellent customer service also was a very pleasant surprise.  I feel that my problems were ammo related and no way reflect on the pistol but want to be candid with you folks so you can learn from what I experienced.  I’ll be posting more in the future about my Big Rock so you can keep tabs on my project.


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Remembering My Dad – Carroll Spafford & The M1 Garand Story

Well folks, yesterday was my dad’s birthday and he would have been 91 years old.  I owe him a lot and often think of him.   The pain of losing him is less but I miss him.  He started me shooting when I was so little that he had to hold the .22 rifles and BB Guns and help me aim.  He taught me the basics of shooting rifles and shotguns along with a very heavy dose of how to keep them clean and oiled plus firearms safety.

At any rate, I want to share a special story with you – how a great bunch of guys on AKFiles cared in amazing way and helped me get a Garand for my dad.  It’s a very, very special memory for me so I am combining two posts I did back in 2011 telling the guys there how things went with the purchase and the first trip to the range.  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time just in case something ever happened to the original posts.  So, here they are in memory of my dad.

This first part of the story is from a post I did on AKfiles on February 15, 2011, telling guys how things went — I can’t believe it’s been over six years:

Well gentlemen,

The Garand arrived today via FedEx from CMP and was in fantastic shape. The finish is great, fittment seems solid, action is smooth and the wood is in pretty good shape. I’d say the CMP outdid themselves. You know what, they shipped it FedEx Priority Overnight because they knew why I had ordered this rifle from the very start. I am so very impressed by the staff I talked to there.

So, after looking the rifle over around 9:30am this morning, I called my parents to come over for lunch. My dad had no idea what was going on. I had them sit down on the couch and gave my dad a 1960s Garand tech manual I told I had found and let him read it while my wife and I finished getting things ready.

So he’s looking at the manual and my mom and wife are in the room and I ask him – “Isn’t that the rifle you had in the Army but could never afford?” My dad said “Yes” and was thumbing the pages of the manual while I went downstairs. He really had no idea.

So I went downstairs, got the rifle in its CMP case and came up to them without my dad seeing what was in the case and he really didn’t pay it any mind. So I told him “I think its about time you have one” and at first it didn’t really hit him what I said. He even took the rifle from me without really saying anything.

I told him “Dad, this is your rifle and we are going to enjoy it together this summer.” At that point, I think it registered and he asked “It’s mine?” and I told him it was and that it was a real Springfield Armory M1 and not a reproduction. The government Springfield Armory has always been special to him because he grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and I guess because it was close to home.

He was looking it over and while he did that I told him about all of you and what you did to help. The prayers, the well wishes, guys wanting to send money, the stories of their fathers, what the CMP did to help and at that point, the only time in my life I have ever seen it, my father started to cry. He told me he never thought he would hold one again.

After a few minutes, we got ourselves together and he started really looking the rifle over. He pushed down the follower assembly, or whatever you call it, in the magazine well and carefully pushed the bolt closed saying he didn’t want to get “Garand thumb” and he explained what that meant to us and then the stories began.

Towards the end, he looked at the rifle again and tears started one last time.

Guys, thank you so much for all you have done. He was so excited – so happy. It was amazing and I am not a good enough writer to tell you how he looked other than to say he was profoundly touched by all that you guys did to help, what the CMP did and so on.

I have a lot to learn about M1 Garands, that’s for sure and I look forward to learning about this one with my dad.

Tomorrow we go to find the results of his bone marrow tests and I told him that no matter what he and I have the Spring and Summer to look forward to so we can take his new Garand out and test it.

Never take your loved ones for granted and do whatever it takes to be able to spend some time with them. Life is precious and time is short.

Thank you my dear, dear friends. You are all amazing.

The second part of the story is from July 27, 2011 when my dad I finally were able to take the Garand to the range:

It’s funny how fast time flies by. As you know, I bought an M1 Garand for my dad and gave it to him. Getting to the range with him was always on the “to do” list but never quite made it to the top due to job conflicts, health, kid stuff, and so on. Before I knew it, time flew by. You don’t realize how fast time slips by until you look back.

On June 27th, my father in law fell over a small 18″ tall dog fence, cracked a neck vertabra hitting a couch and compressed his spinal cord. He will not recover from the injury and subsequent complications caused by kidney and heart disease. It was such a freak accident because he was only 75 and full of energy. Now, he is sedated and kept alive by machines in ICU but still able to think and move his eyes. Calls and well wishes from you guys really, really helped. Bubbazan, Elkaholic, Ding … you guys are great. I can not thank you enough.

I told my wife that it really showed me that we can’t take loved ones for granted or leave loose ends undone. I told her I absolutely had to take my dad to the range with the new Garand. We are home this week catching up on bills and work while my wife’s family takes turns watching my father in law. Thus, I got an opportunity and seized it. Sometimes, and this was one of them, you need to make things happen and that’s what I did.

It’s been real dry and hot here which, for my dad, is perfect because there are fewer mosquitos – when they bite him he swells up huge because his compromised immune system goes nuts. Monday night I had a crash course in M1 Garand disassembly, cleaning and lubrication. Youtube videos and some web pages people had sent me helped tremendously. The CMP armorer knew about the situation with my dad and other than cosmoline in the stock, the rifle was immaculate. The trigger group was gun metal grey and lightly oiled inside. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn I was looking at a new rifle based on the quality of the parts, lack of wear and cleanliness.

I used Mobile synthetic grease to lubricate the rifle. It really made the rifle nice and slick. I was very concerned about recoil hurting my dad so I installed a medium Limbsaver Slip-On Pad just to be safe. It fit great and really cushioned the butt. So, I packed it up and made sure I had the ammo, targets, hearing protection, and so on for the range.

On Tuesday, my dad arrived and we loaded his van up and headed to the sportsman’s club for an afternoon of shooting. When we got there we had the range to ourselves as it was 3pm. It was sunny, hot and no mosquito in sight – things were looking great.

We set up on the range. My dad was definitely excited – he’s always been a big one to understate things but I could tell. Bear in mind an 85 year old man doesn’t move too fast and he was clipping right along. We set up on the 50 yard line to do our testing.


Now I had cleaned and inspected the rifle as best I could. Even so, we installed it in a stand and fired a test round with 25′ of string. Of course, my dad had the honor of pulling the cord and doing the first test firing.

The rifle functioned flawlessly on Greek M2 ball ammo. No bulges, primer looked great – the cartridge looked just fine. We inspected the rifle and everything looked great. My dad had this huge grin on his face.

Of course, the next thing to do was to fire for effect! The old man got down on the bench and lined up. He did it so smoothly that you just knew he and Garands knew each other. I was running around taking photos.

He squeezed off his first shot from an M1 Garand since the last time he fired one in Korea in 1945 – literally 65 years ago. Now bear in mind this was round #2 from the rifle – no changes to the sights plus my dad hasn’t been shooting for almost a year.

That definitely excited both of us so he got down to business


He fired 7 rounds – each time we’d unload the rifle and walk down to look at the target (I forgot my spotting scope). He was happy and talking about the rifle, how to adjust the sights, it was great. My dad got tired and asked that I shoot the rifle. I went on to fire 9 rounds realtively quickly from 50 and 100 yards before we had to leave. Not one single failure or problem of any kind – not one. The rifle functioned perfectly. I got a real nice note from the lead armorer at CMP wishing my dad well and I think they are an awesome group – all of them.

After shooting the rifle I was amazed at how little recoil there was. More of a push than a slam plus the recoil pad made it a joy. My dad said it didn’t hurt at all. We were able to spend about two and a half hours at the range and just had a great time. I’m definitely going to take him more this summer. We have a checkup on his cancer at the end of August and we’ll need to decide whether to keep watching, or just what. When we were packing up, I told him that I couldn’t afford the fishing boat but at least I could get him a Garand and that brought out a big smile. It was a great day – I was so happy and he was too.

Again, I want to thank all of you for your awesome support. We all have our own personal trials but having people go out of their way to help is an amazing thing. I feel very lucky to have a wonderful family and to count so many of you as friends.

God bless all of you and your families.

Sincerely,

George

In closing

Never miss a chance to spend time with your families.  Just before my dad passed away on September 20, 2014, we were planning on taking the Garand out to the range.  The day we were to go he decided against it as he didn’t feel up to it.  A day or two later he passed away in his sleep.  I really wish we had that one last shooting session but I do have some great memories and they outweigh the regrets.

We miss you dad.

 

In case you are wondering, here’s a bit about my dad:

Carroll Spafford, 88, of Stevensville, formerly of Battle Creek, MI, passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 20, 2014, at the Hanson Hospice Center.

Born in Boston, MA on June 26, 1926, to George RH Spafford and Hazel Holmes (Mr. & Mrs. Spafford) of Everett, MA.  His parents, older brother (George Kendall) and younger sister (Phyllis) moved to a farm his parents bought in Derry, NH, when he was a young teenager.  While there, he attended Pinkerton Academy in Derry and graduated in 1945.

On March 30, 1945, Carroll enlisted in the US Army and was sent to Korea to join the 6th infantry division guarding against any attempts by the Japanese to retake Korea.  While there he rose to Corporal overseeing a seven man heavy machinegun squad.  He was honorably discharged on December 30, 1946, and returned home.

As part of the GI Bill, he attended the Wentworth Institute of Technology and obtained his MC&TD degree in 1949.  After several years working, he then attended Ohio State University and received his MBA in 1955.

Carroll’s career took him to Detroit and Ford Motor.  While in Detroit he met and married Alpha Lee Turman on November 26, 1964.  Following a brief stint working in research at the University of Michigan he then accepted a rewarding position at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, MI, where he taught business management and economics/

In 1967 he and Alpha had a baby boy, George, who was joined by his sister, Rebecca, in 1971.  They had a small farm North of Battle Creek with a collection of dogs, cats, horses and gardens plus summer car trips all over the US that occupied their time.

In 1986, he retired from KCC and he and Alpha volunteered at Junior Achievement in Battle Creek.  In 2002, he and Alpha moved to Stevensville, MI, in order to be closer to their grandchildren.

In 2012, Alpha passed on and Carroll continued on with the help of many talented and much appreciated care givers.  He is survived by his son, daughter, three grandchildren (Paolo, Alyssa, and Erika), his sister (Phyllis) and a very large extended family who all love and miss him greatly.

ATF letter stating you can build an AR pistol from a receiver transferred as such and never assembled as a rifle

Okay, I posted a couple of ATF letters and a guy sent me a message asking if I had the letter specifying that an AR pistol can be built from an AR receiver that was transferred as a receiver and never assembled as a rifle.  It just so happens I did save that one back when I built a couple of AR pistols a few years back.  I like to have the letters of anything someone may ask about and keep them in my case with the weapon when I take it shooting.  At any rate, here is the ATF letter in case anyone else needs it:

Please note that I am not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice.


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The actual March 2017 ATF letter approving stabilizing braces has a section about customization you need to know about

Yes, I am late to the game on actually reading the March 2017 ATF letter clarifying the use of stabilizing braces.   It’s been on my to-do list for some time and I finally did.   I do think this is very helpful – notably:

With respect to stabilizing braces, ATF has concluded that attaching the brace to a handgun as a forearm brace does not “make” a short-barreled rifle because in the configuration as submitted to and approved by FATD, it is not intended to be and cannot comfortably be fired from the shoulder.

With that said, folks need to bear in mind  the very next paragraph:

If, however, the shooter/possessor takes affirmative steps to configure the device for use as a shoulder-stock – for example, configuring the brace so as to permanently affix it to the end of a buffer tube (thereby creating a length that has no other purpose that to facilitate its use as a stock), removing the arm-strap, or otherwise undermining its ability to be used as a brace – and then in fact shoots the firearm from the shoulder using the accessory as a stock, that person has objectively “redesigned” the firearm for purposes of the NFA.

So what this means is if you put a brace on a pistol, use it as-is.  Do not remove the Velcro straps, stick foam in the brace to make it solid, and/or attach the brace in such a way that it is permanently so long that it could not connect to the forearm.

I always recommend that people read guidance directly for themselves.  Here is a link to a PDF copy of the letter so you can do so: Reversal of Stabilizing Braces – ATF-letter – March 2017 — please note I changed the file name when I saved it but the content is all original.

All in all, I think this is a much needed clarification overall.  Just bear the customization clause in mind when you are building, or modifying, your weapons.

Yes, for the record, I do not like the fact that short-barreled rifles or shotguns need special regulation per the NFA but the braces do provide an option for folks. Also, please note that I am not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice.


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The MTM K-Zone Shooting Rest is Pretty Good – Add Weight To It!

Okay folks, I needed an inexpensive portable shooting rest that supported the front of a back and a rifle to keep in my shop.  I dug around a bit and found the MTM K-Zone Shooting Rest on Amazon.  It had 4.5 stars with 480 reviews.  I knew it would be plastic so some of the reviews that called it light duty didn’t bother me.  At any rate, for $39.99 and Prime shipping, I went ahead and ordered it.

It arrived a week ago and I took it out of the box immediately noticing that some assembly was required and then the included pieces caught my eye.  I noticed that a lot of the major parts were in halves and unscrewed.

 

At first I thought they were saving money and were pushing some of the labor onto they buyer.  I actually opened the instructions and immediately saw that they had left it this way for people to fill the voids with bird shot to make it heavier – YES!!!!!!!  I was all over it like hens on bugs.  I had a bunch of 7 shot in containers that I then 3/4 filled the various voids leaving room for plastic on the top.

  

A perk of having a gun parts business that makes plastic furniture via compression casting is that you have gallons of liquid plastic!!  I mixed some up, added just a touch of black dye for giggles and poured it in on top of the shot thus sealing everything up nice and sound – no irritating rattling.  Now, if you don’t have plastic laying around, you could mix up epoxy or Bondo and have very similar results.

Once the plastic cured, I then used the included screws to put everything together.  It’s pretty straight  forward with easy instructions to assemble it.  I used the rest this morning and it was nice and solid.  Sure, it’s made from plastic but it ought to work just fine for what I need.  If you are looking for a nice basic rest, check this out.  By the way, one nice feature is that you can pull the buttstock extension out and just use the front portion as a handgun rest.  Pretty cool.


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See larger image

Additional Images:




MTM K-Zone Shooting Rest (Red)


Features: K-Zone Shooting Rest is a fully adjustable rugged rifle and handgun shooting rest, Precision dialed screw pedestal adjusts forearm level for exact positioning., Front and rear shooting pads are made of non-marring rubber, Handgun pad can be adjusted for different sized pistols and removed for tactical AR-15 style firearms, Heavy-weight performance with lightweight design; Weighs 4 pounds; Made in USA

There is nothing better than a cool sunny day, a box of ammo and your new or favorite rifle to sight in. MTM Case-Gard`s k-Zone Shooting Rest t is the tool you need for better accuracy. Designed for precision sighting in of rifles and for testing ammo and reloads. Rock solid performance from a lightweight fully adjustable rest.

FEATURES:

  • Non-marring molded rubber pads front, middle and rear
  • Quick and easy to adjust bench rest style handwheel elevation system
  • Lightweight – just 4 pounds and has compartments to add weight if you choose
  • Ideal for hunting rifles, AR-15`s, lever action rifles, slug guns, handguns, etc.
  • Can used as a front rifle rest or handgun rest by removing the rear pad section
  • Overall length of rest can be adjusted up to 7.5` to fit your gun perfectly
  • Handgun rest pad storage box has 4 positions and can be easily removed
  • Four smooth rubber feet provide a wide slip-free stance on any shooting bench
  • Made in USA

Rifle Not Included

List Price: $39.99 USD
New From: $29.99 USD In Stock