Do You Want A Remarkable Two Stage Trigger For Your AR That Doesn’t Cost a Fortune?

I appreciate a good trigger – in firearms in general and definitely in ARs. To me, this usually means a two-stage trigger that doesn’t have a heavy pull and I can feel the second stage starting to engage with a relatively clean break. I can tolerate military heavy triggers (5-8 pounds usually with long pulls) but they are not my first choice and I really don’t like them in any form of rifle where I am trying to get a degree of precision.

I’ve tried many different triggers over the years and have typically gone in two directions – living with the stock trigger in the rifle / the trigger that came with the kit if it was for self-defense or I went with a Geissele SSA-E. That is an amazing trigger but is expensive even on sale.

I recently noticed that Palmetto State Armory (PSA) is now selling their own two-stage trigger and the reviews were very favorable so I ordered one in as an experiment to go in an AR DMR I was building using a mix of parts – the barrel was a 20″ model by Ballistic Advantage on an Aero Precision upper with a MI Combat rail handguard. I wanted a decent trigger for the rifle but really didn’t have the budget for a SSA-E but didn’t want to use a Mil-Spec-ish trigger either. Guess what I paid? $64.99 with free shipping!

The PSA 2-Stage AR Trigger

I’ve read in several places that Schmid is making the trigger for them. It has a Nickel Boron finish to enhance lubricity, the first stage breaks at 2.0lbs. The second is 2.5 pounds and the total comes in at 4.5 pounds. The trigger isn’t adjustable.

The trigger comes with everything you see – the trigger, hammer, disconnector, pins and springs.

Installation

The trigger installs just like any other AR trigger. The reference source I used to learn how to assemble AR lowers way back when is the guide on ar15.com and has a section on the trigger. A good installation video is from Brownells:

When you are done it will look something like this:

Comparisons

On top is an Aero Precision Mil-Spec fire control group. I’m using one of our AR trigger slave pins to pre-assemble the trigger, disconnector and the disconnector spring.

Okay, I had a couple of triggers that I could do pull tests on to give you some comparisons. Testing was done with a Wheeler trigger pull gauge that I really like.

This is my Wheeler Professional Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.

I created the following table by using the Wheeler gauge to do 10 test pulls of each trigger so you could see the average, minimum and maximum pull.

TriggerMinMaxAvg
Aero Mil-Spec6# 4.8oz7# 2.3oz6# 12.4oz
PSA EPT – Enhanced Polished
Trigger Group
6# 3.9oz6# 15.9oz6# 12.3oz
PSA 2-Stage Trigger4# 6.0oz4# 12.1oz4# 9.5oz
Minimum, Maximum and Average Trigger Pull in Pounds and Ounces Per Trigger

Conclusion

How did it feel? Well, there was a bit of pre-travel slack to pick up but then it broke pretty nicely. For $64, I was impressed! It’s kind of a no-brainer for me now that the next time I build a basic AR, I will use this trigger.

Maybe some day when I have time I’ll compare it to a Geiselle SSA-E side by side but for now, I’ll tell you that you can’t go wrong for the price. I actually ordered in another to replace the EPT trigger I have in another basic 16″ PSA AR that I have.

I hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


PSA Has Evolved Their AK Offerings Considerably – Taking A Close Look At A GF5

When I first started buying from Palmetto State Armory (PSA) maybe 10+ years ago, they were a source for cheap but decent AR parts plus other brands of parts, like Magpul, and ammunition. If you compare what PSA is today to way back when, they have achieved a lot – most folks don’t know that PSA is part of a large portfolio of companies under JJE Capital.

Early PSA AK’s were rough. I bought an AK-E a number of years back and then an AK-V and I could see the quality was improving. They have continued to evolve their offerings. The GF3 was even better and with the GF5 series I think they are getting a lot of things right — I should add their versions of the 100 series of Russian rifles to that list as well.

PSA will tell you

  • The barrel is cold hammer forged chrome moly vanadium steel with a chrome lining and made by Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN for short) – these are top notch barrels.
  • Hammer forged front trunnion – US makers tried to do castings originally and they just do not hold up
  • Hammer forged bolt and carrier – not everyone forges their carriers and you see photos online of them cracking/snapping where the gas piston goes into the body of the carrier.
  • The trigger is an ALG AKT enhanced model – these are excellent AK triggers and I really think it was a good idea that PSA went with them
  • They have a lifetime warranty.

Now PSA says they have torture tested the rifles to 10,000 rounds with no problem. A number of folks on the Internet have posted videos blowing through tons of ammo, in the case of JMAC they did it at full auto and the rifles have held up admirably.

Yeah, I ordered one

The fit and finish of parts was excellent. Rivets were formed very nicely and the tooling marks were reduced in my opinion. In short, it looked pretty good.

Now let’s get into some photos – click on one to see it full size or to then move around and look:

Conclusion

The rifle looked really good and everyone who I know who has shout one speaks highly of them. PSA sure is selling a ton of them.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How To Rebuild A Residential Diving Board

Have you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place because you need to get something done but a vendor fumbles the ball … badly? That happened to me recently. We have a home made in the 70s and the pool is the same. While we have replaced the liner a number of times over the years, it was the original slowly falling apart diving board. We actually bought our home in 98 and the previous owner had put a 2x8x6 between the board and the spring to keep it alive.

Let’s fast forward to about a month ago. We were getting ready for a family reunion to be held at our place so I got the pool ready for the summer and decided I better check the diving board. Oh man, it was shot. The fiberglass underneath had torn around the board it encased and there was just no way it was safe.

One thing I have learned about pools over the years is that you can usually find parts. So, I new it was an 8′ residential diving board and the hole pattern for mounting it was 4.5″ on centers in the back and the front single hole was 36″. I did some digging and the hole pattern and distances from the back and sides corresponded with the SR Smith 8′ Frontier II board.

A number of vendors carried it online and the problem was that I needed it with only about a two week lead time before people started arriving for the party. InTheSwim said they had it and it would arrive in time. I used my wife’s card on the website and it wouldn’t go through so the website gave me an 800# to call. I did, the lady told me it was a fraud screen, I approved a text message sent to my wife’s phone and the InTheSwim operator told me it was all set and I should get an email shortly. She never said she resubmitted it … About an hour later, still no email so I called and I am pretty sure the same lady answered and said the order was fine …. in fact it was not.

After a week of no updates, I called and after confusion on their part, they found the order in limbo, fixed it and told me it would probably still make it in time. Okay… I kept tabs on it and finally called and said I needed the board. They told me it would not even ship until after the party. I asked that they expedite it, that I would even pay for it and they said they had no way to do that. I then told them in no uncertain terms to cancel the order. If that reads like a rant, it should. I hate it when a vendor fumbles the ball and literally does nothing to make it right.

I was left with two options – disappoint a bunch of relatives or figure out how to fix the board. I decided to do the latter and I suspect this is the part of the post you really care about.

What went wrong with the board?

Many, if not most, residential diving boards have a fiberglass top and bottom but the core is wood. Through the tears, rotting wood was plainly visible. I put the board on sawhorses, put the old supporting board underneath it and flipped the diving board over to access the bottom. Again, the diving board was resting on the old supporting board – I new that if I didn’t support it, the odds were high that it might snap. Once supported, I used a diamond masonry cutting wheel in my 4.5″ Ryobi cordless grinder to slice off the torn fiberglass to see what was going on. I had a hunch that If I could salvage the top of the board, I could fix the bottom and I was right.

Important Safety Comment: Wear eye protection and a quality face mask (N95 or better) when you are cutting or sanding on fiberglass. You don’t want stuff getting in your eyes or lungs. I also wear gloves to protect my hands.
I used a masonry cut off wheel – in this case a diamond coated one – because the glass fibers can dull saw blades, etc. Just about anything can cut open fiberglass – it just depends on whether you care about what is happening to the blade.

Once I cut open the bottom that held the wood, I could see it needed to be replaced. What is there are three pieces of wood and there is a cap on each end with nails that held it together. Over the years as holes and cracks opened up, water got in and slowly rotted the wood. I really wasn’t surprised when I went to lift the board off the spring – it weighed a ton due to the waterlogged wood.

The wood wouldn’t lift right out so I would prop it up and cut it with a small hand held Ryobi circular saw into thirds. I used a small pry bar and lifted the sections out. I didn’t cut all of the fiberglass out yet thinking that I might use some of it to make things stronger. In hindsight, I’d now tell you to remove all of the hold fiberglass wrapping on the bottom -there was no need to save it.

Wood and Fiberglass

In a perfect world, I would have the exact same size of wood and better yet, treated wood, to replace the rotten wood. I didn’t have time for wet treated wood to dry so I went to Home Depot and bought two 2x12x8 pieces of dry pine lumber. One to go in the board and one to still support it even though it probably wasn’t needed.

I also stopped by the adhesives section of Home Depot and picked two 1-gallon jugs of Bondo fiberglass resin and three packages of fiberglass cloth – if I had it to do over, I would have bought a couple more for complete overkill in terms of strength. I knew I had a spare cloth at home so I had four fiberglass cloths total. I also bought a spare package of hardener just in case.

Here’s one of the jugs of resin. Because I work with plastics, I had a large selection of mixing cups and stir sticks. I used 32 oz cups and a half tube of hardener at a time. I would mix them and then pour the contents into a second 32oz cup. This is known as a double pour and reduces the odds of you pouring unmixed contents and making a mess.

Note: The Bondo fiberglass system uses a polyester resin vs. true epoxy. Polyester is cheaper than epoxy but not as strong. I’m pretty sure it will hold up and we’ll see over time. I’m writing this post a week after our reunion and the board looks just fine – no cracks. m

Cleaning Up The Board and Preparing It

With the wood out, I then removed all of the debris to get a better look at what was going on. I removed almost all of the old fiberglass that was holding the old board – I now know I could have removed all of it.

Here I am scuffing up everything really good with 80 grit sand paper in my orbital IR 6″ sander. If you want the fiberglass to bind really well, the surface must be abraded. Just remember, if the surface is smooth and shiny, your adhesion is going to be bad. A very abraded clean surface is ideal.
Here’s a better view of the center front hole and the big crack that went completely through the fiberglass top. Note, after sanding, cleaning and degreasing, I closed all holes with black Gorilla tape before I started apply resin.
Here’s a close up of the back two holes – they are worn open and stress cracking around them.
One more view of the big crack at the center. I sanded the heck out of everything with 80 grit, sprayed down the inside with brake cleaner thoroughly to degrease it and then stuck big pieces of gorilla tape over each hole. The diving board surface was ready.

Preparing The Wood

The wood was completely dry – let me stress that. If you seal in wet wood, it will rot so make sure your wood is dry.

One thing I noticed with the rotted wood that I pulled out was that they had rounded over all of the corners/edges of the wood to not stress the fiberglass. That made a lot of sense to me. I put a 3/8″ carbide tipped round over bit in my trim router and rounded over the new board too and then sanded it with 80 grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for maximum adhesion.

The 2x12x8 boards were longer than the original so I trimmed them down. I then used a round over bit on both and sanded them. My plan was to embed one in the fiberglass but still have a support/buddy board underneath. Note, I did not drill any holes. My plan was to center the new pine board insert and drill the holes later.

I did test fit everything before I went to the next step. You don’t want to mix up resin and get part way in only to find our boards are the wrong length.

Gluing The Board In Place

Okay, to close the bottom back up, I did it in steps. For the first one, I mixed up 32oz of resin, liberally brushed it in the bottom of the board really thick. I then clamped the ends and put weights in the middle to keep everything pushed together. You need to have this planned out because once the resin sets, it’s game over. I had the clamps and everything ready to go.

This falls under the “make do with what you have” category. The blue clamps are really strong and are on both ends. In the middle we have two brake calipers from a 96 Landcruiser and two full 5-gallon cans of gas. The more pressure pushing the parts together and the adhesive into as many spaces as possible is what you want.

The next step was to put down the first layer of fiberglass cloth. I laid the cloth on top of the board and trimmed it to fit inside and just up the sides. I then mixed up a 32 oz container [don’t forget to do a double pour and use the right amount of hardener] and rapidly brushed it on very thick to the front area I was working on, applied the cloth and then another coat of Bondo on top. If you’ve not done fiberglass before, start with one section and learn. You want to get the cloth in place and wetted down with the liquid before it all sets. Also, have a bunch of nitrile gloves near by or you will get this stuff all over your hands no matter how hard you try. I wear gloves and have at it. I use my hands to rub the liquid into the cloth.

I did the front, the back and then the middle. If you need to stop, just sand the surface, blow it off and continue.
This is about the first half of the board. I let it cure and then sanded it before I applied more.

So I did the front, the back, then the middle. I used the full length of the cloths and overlapped at the middle. At this point, it was rock hard and I really wished I had just cut out all of the old fiberglass walls that surrounded the old wood. I thought it might make it stronger but then realized this wasn’t the case. I sanded again and cut my fourth and last cloth down the middle. I applied one length on the left and one on the right to strengthen those areas that still had the remnant walls that I should have removed.

Here it is with all of the layers applied. My next move was to sand and then paint it.

Drilled The Holes

Before painting, I flipped the board over, removed the Gorilla tape. The brownish color of the Bondo clearly showed me the old hole positions and drilled two 1/2″ holes in the rear and one in the front using the clearly visible filled in holes. I carefully pushed the support board under, clamped it in place and drilled it as well.

Painting The Board

To paint the board whatever color you want, use boat paint – what they call the top coat or deck paint. Years and years ago, I painted our board because it looked really tough and found out you had to add non slip grit to the paint or people would slide off. Yeah, there’s a story there about a teenager falling off so make sure you get the non-slip additive for whatever paint you buy.

I used Rust-Oleum’s Topside White for the board and a Ocean Blue paint made by Pettit for the trim. The only reason I went with the Pettit paint was that the local boat store carried it and Lowes didn’t have the blue colored Topside paint.

So, when you are applying this, do it in a well ventilated area, make sure it isn’t going to rain if you are outside (I was in my driveway) and follow the guidance carefully. One thin coat a day. If you try and do a thick coat or too many coats, the paint will not cure to a hard finish and stay in an odd tacky/smudgy state. I had this happen to me years ago because I’m not patient but I sure hard to learn patience with some of the specialty paints.

I did two coats of regular white Topside paint on the bottom to protect the fiberglass from UV rays (they really mess up plastics, epoxies and what not unless they are designed for them) and I applied two coats of the white with the grit mixed in on the top.

That’s two coats of white TopSide Paint on the bottom. I did NOT use the non-slip there.
I painted the top with the non-slip additive and didn’t worry about the old blue colored side paint.
It was hot out and even so, I let the top cure for a day before I applied blue painter’s tape to protect the top while I painted the side trim blue.

Painting The Pedestal and Support Board

While waiting for coats of paint to cure on the board, we removed the pedestal and spring unit, wire brushed it, sprayed it down with brake cleaner and sprayed on three coats of white Rustoleum spray paint.

We cleaned it and applied three coats of gloss white Rustoleum spray paint.
We painted the support board too. All I had was white spray Rustoleum at that point so that’s what I used.

Wrapping Up

We reinstalled the pedestal and spring unit first. I bought new stainless nuts and washers so it looked better.

We installed the pedestal and spring assembly first before the diving board. Have a solid surface to put the support board and diving board really helped. They are too heavy to move all at once … at least for me. My son helped – those are his feet 🙂
The board is held in place by stainless hardware” 6″ carriage bolts, 2″ fender washers, rubber gasket washers under the fenders on the top. On the bottom are regular washers , lock washers and nuts. Your hardware will depend on your board’s configuration and how thick it is. We salvaged the carriage bolts and I wire brushed the tops so they looked better but I bought everything else at Ace Hardware.
Another view.

In Closing

InTheSwim really damaged their reputation with me. On the other hand, this was done in a matter of days, cost us about $300 vs $800 (for the board and hardware) and all the kids at the reunion had a blast. So, problem solved — it worked out to our advantage actually. I’m curious to see how it holds up over time and I have high hopes given how it turned out and performed at the reunion.

One last parting shot.

If you have a diving board, I’d bet you could do the same and save time and money as well. I hope this gives you some food for thought.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Fitting A Quick Takedown Pin To A Kalashnikov USA KP-9

Since Kalashinkov USA introduced the KP-9, I’ve had a handful of guys ask me to make a quick takedown pin for it. Well, it turns out it is a unique size and the hinge pin would need to be around 3.75mm – smaller than what any of my vendors could reliably hit. My existing pins all have a diameter of .156″ or about 3.96mm so they would not work.

So, what to do? I’d bought a KP-9 with their brace and it was a nice weapon in terms of fit, finish, and operation. I’d pressed out the unique hinge pin and saved it so I could have replaced it but I decided to go another route. By the way, the original pin was swollen at the ends from being set but the middle measure 3.75 so that’s the number I was going with.

KP-9 right out of the box.
There’s the hinge pin between the rear sight and the start of the dust cover rail.
There is a spring on the pin to help the dust cover pop up when the recoil rod is pushed in. Note, the fitment of the cover to the rear sight block and rear trunnion is very good. If it weren’t for the spring, the cover would stay down. By the way, the big black round thing you see on top of the barrel pin has a groove behind it. When the brace is swung into the folded position, a tab on the brace goes into the groove and holds it in the folded position.
This is the origianl hinge pin and the spring that pops the dust cover up. The pin is 2.75mm wide and about 24-25mm long – mine measured 24.31mm after I pressed it out. Some deformation would have occurred when it was pressed in and the ends flared open.

How To Remove The Original Pin

I used a punch on my air hammer to pop the old pin out. You could also press it out or drill it out.

I used my ATS air riveter to pop out the pin in a matter of seconds. You could press or drill out your pin.

Reaming the Hinge Hole

If you look at the hinge, there is enough material around the hinge pin material to ream it out a bit. I decided to get a 0.1563″ (3.97mm) cobalt reamer and a 4mm cobalt reamer. My thinking was to first try the smaller reamer and if that proved to be too small, I’d step up to the 4mm (0.1575″). I bought mine from McMaster-Carr but you can get them from any reputable vendor.

Reamers are cool – they make perfectly round holes and you can do them in a hand drill if you are so inclined, which I was. Secure your weapon in a vise so it can’t move, use a drill bit or other pin to align the hinge parts from the other direction. As you ream, this slave pin, or alignment pin, will be pushed out of the way as a reamer’s head is blunt.

Put your reamer in your drill chuck and coat it with cutting oil, then slowly insert the reamer into hole – let it cut – don’t force it. You’re not taking off a ton of material so I reamed the hole out in one go.

The slave pin did it’s job and I had a true hole in the end. Okay, the .1563″ reamer’s hole worked but was too tight – If you don’t intend to pul the pin much, it would work but it was not what I wanted. I then did the same thing by inserting a slave pin but this time used the 4mm reamer and it worked great.

You see, getting the hole size right matters a great deal compared to some weapons such as the M92 and Krinks – they want to cam the cover up so there is tension that locks everything in place. With the KP-9, the fit of the dustcover relative to the rear sight block is so good that there isn’t tension so you need the quick takedown pin to fit snugly and the detent ball to do its job.

Our AK-V pin fits great. This is with the 3/4″ ring installed.
Here’s the full view of the hinge. Note the detent ball on the pin that keeps it from accidentally sliding out of the hole.
The way a quick release pin that has a ball bearing detent works is that a spring is behind the ball bearing pushing it up but it is captured in the hole. By sticking up, the ball bearing limits travel. Having a circular surface if you pull hard enough during extraction then the ball bearing is pushed down, the pin pulls free and then the spring pushes the ball bearing detent back up once it is clear.. Insertion is just the reverse.

In closing

I really like how it turned out. For folks who want to add a quick takedown pin, just order the AK-V pin [click here to open that page in a new tab] and then ream your hinge open. Note, you might want to get the same size reamers and see which you prefer – start with the smaller one first of course.

The pins make removing the dust cover really easy.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

There Is A Great Counter Top Ice Maker Available That Is Very Affordable On Amazon

We have an expensive Whirlpool fridge that had (past tense) an ice maker built into the door. It managed to work until its warranty expired and then it stopped. It turns out those things are a known problem and expensive to replace (over $1,000). Well, the chilled filter water still worked so I wondered about other options.

Yes, good old fashioned ice trays are an option but we rarely have room in the freezer section for them, we forget to fill them and they are slow to make ice. It was an option but not realistic in our family.

What I really wanted to do was to find a counter top ice maker. We stayed at a cabin with one last year and it did a pretty good job. I had no recollection of the make or model of it so I turned to Amazon and started reading.

First off, there are tons and tons of options ranging from relatively small counter top ice makers all the way up to commercial units on Amazon. I wanted something that wouldn’t take up a ton of space, had a refillable water supply tank (not plumbed in other words) and could crank out ice quickly.

The good news is that there are a number of units to choose from. I read reviews and went for a combination of great reviews and price to select the AgLucky HZB-12/B. When we bought it, the price was $119.99 and there was a coupon for $10 off. When I checked the price just now, it was $129.99 and no coupon but this gives you an idea of the price.

It scores 4.4 stores with 14,024 reviews and to be honest, I can see why. It does the job very well with some small issues but for the price, I’d buy it again. We’ve used it a ton for a month now and am quite happy.

The units is 12.6″ tall, 8.7″ wide and 12.3″ deep. It is not large and there are color options. We went with grey and there is also black and red.

Setting Up The Unit

It comes completely assembled in a sturdy box. You do need to go through the top of the unit and remove the tape they installed to secure everything at the factory. I washed it with mild soap and rinsed it thoroughly. I then ran a couple of containers of test water through the unit to make ice that we tossed out.

It took less than an hour from when I got it out of the box, cleaned and tested it to when we were then cranking out ice. Not bad at all.

Ice Volume

They say it makes cubes every 6-8 minutes and that is about right – it really does. It can crank out 9 ice cubes with each batch at that pace – it’s surprisingly quick especially compared to old fashioned ice trays. By the way, the ice produced is shaped more like a cylinder that is hollow at one end – they are not really “cubes”. I think it can crank the ice out so fast because it focuses on cooling extended metal rods to make the ice.

Definitely use filtered water. We keep a large plastic cup near the unit to refill the unit with filtered water. Yes, there are much more expensive units you can tap into your water line with but we wanted portability

The Basket

The ice basket is in the front of the unit and is not refrigerated. Why, I am not sure – maybe to keep costs down. As the ice melts, it drips and goes into the water tank directly below the ice tray.

The basket sits in the angled surface and the small column you see at the bottom of the photo. The bottom is actually the front of the machine. You fill the unit with water up to the top of that column or any existing ice will be sitting in water. So, you both get ice out of the top and add water as well.

The basket is also relatively small – the whole unit is small. We keep the provided ice scoop by the unit. If more ice will be needed in the future, we would dump the ice from the bin into a plastic bag and freeze it. To be honest, it works but if you need a bunch of ice fast for a party, you may still want to buy ice.

There is an infrared sensor at the back edge of the ice bin – just above the rear of the basket. If a cube gets in front of it, the unit will assume the bin is full and stop making ice even though the bin has room. I just got in the habit of looking when I walked by and would use the scoop to move the cube out of the way.

Just above the back edge of the basket, find the black dot on the left side and somewhat clear dot on the right side. When ice breaks the infrared beam between the two units, the machine stops making ice. That could be when the basket is legitimately full or if an ice cube happens to be stuck in the way. This is a trivial issue really.

Sound Level Is Acceptable

When the fan kicks in to make ice, it is about 60-62 db at about a 6″ distance according to a sound level app on my phone. This puts it at the level of normal conversation or background noise. 70db, for comparison, is the sound level inside a car or an office. Our house is relatively quiet but we got used to the sound and the sound it makes when the ice drops off the fingers and is pushed into the bin. Sure, I wish it was quieter but for the price, I will happily live with it.

In Conclusion

The AgLucky unit is a work horse. It does its job and is totally worth the price for us — it’s nice to have a ready supply of ice again.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

My Galil Ace .308 DMR

Okay, I wrote about Galil Ace .308 Pistol some years back and it got sold at some point to fund other projects. However, when I sell firearms it’s not that there was any problem – like tons of other projects, I finished it, learned from it, got bored of it and sold it … that’s my usual progression for 99% of the firearms I buy. At any rate, some time last year it really dawned on me that the hands down best factory manufactured rifle that you can buy in the US today are the Galil Aces. I’m sure someone will argue with me but the evolution of the design that they did is remarkable regardless.

This is the original 308 Galil Ace before updates. I took the photo right as the sun was going down so everything had a bit of an orange hue to it.

RS Regulate Handguards

So, I bought a .308 Galil Ace rifle knowing I would get rid of the handguard. Yes, the factory one is functional but it is way too fat for me I prefer a long narrow one aluminum handguard. Even before I bought the rifle, I knew I would get one of RS Regulate’s GAR-14M-N handguards. The biggest problem you will run into with an RS Regulate product is finding one – his scope mounts are the best out there and the handguards are excellent as well. As a result, you may have to hunt around. I found one in grey thinking I would refinish it but the contrast actually looks pretty cool so I am running with it.

The original handguards do have rails under those covers but the combination is too fat for my taste.
This is the RS Regulate GAR-14M-N handguard in Desolation Grey. Installation is very straight forward and instructions are provided.
The two short screws and spacers are for attaching the handguard to the barrel. The long screw is for the rear. Install the rear end cap before you install the rear screw. Use blue Loc-tite on all. Use needle nose pliers to hold the spacers in place when you side the side screws into the handguard and on to the barrel.
The end cap goes to the bottom rear of the handguard and sits on the inside. Two additional short screws are in another bag for it. See the long needle nose pliers at the top? Something like them will enable you to install the spaces very easily.
This is the end cap right before I installed the screws.

Vortex PST II Scope

Because of the accuracy reports (1 MOA-ish) I also planned on getting a decent scope to make the Ace a designated marksman’s rifle (DMR). To explain, a DMR is a supporting rifle that usually has better accuracy and/or reach than the rest of the squad but it typically doesn’t have the accuracy of a true sniper rifle. From what I read, the Galil Ace would fill a DMR role no problem so I wanted a scope with a decent range starting with a low value so I would have a decent field of view (FOV). What I bought was a Vortex PST II 3-15×44 — first off, Vortex is my favorite scope maker and second, the second generation PST scopes are very clear and have good light transmission. I purposefully did not go with a 50mm objective because while it does pull in more light all things being equal, I didn’t want an topic standing up a mile above the receiver either.

American Defense Scope Mount

I’ve become a scope mount snob over the years after having a ton of problems with cheap ones – screws stripping out, moving on the rail, letting the scope move, quick release levers that bend on break off, crappy finishes, etc. To be honest, I am done with the cheap ones. My go to for scope mounts is American Defense – I also use the offset Vortex mounts that are also made by American Defense.

Why American Defense? They are solid quality all the way through – they are everything the cheap ones are not and have never let me down. So, yes, I will pay a premium for them and be happy about it. For this build and the smaller objective, I used a AD-Recon-X-30-STD.

This is an American Defense AD-Recon-X-30-STD scope mount with quick release levers. Excellent quality.

In Case You Are Wondering – Why .308?

Well, I am done adding yet another caliber and had a good selection of range and match .308 ammo that I can try out. When I do take this to a range, I’d like to find out what this particular rifle likes and buy more. By the way – for folks relatively new to firearms – you will find out that some ammo works great in one firearm and horrible in another so always experiment and find out what load your rifle likes. Handloaders spend hours agonizing over every possible details to find the round that works best at a given range and situation.

The Result

It came out pretty cool – I thought I would refinish the grey but it grew on me.

In Closing

The .308 Galil Ace is pretty slick. I really like the components I picked and now need to find time to go to the range. I will be adding a Magpul bipod before then as well.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

How to Load Our Old Second Generation 9mm RIA Mags For Reliable Shooting

7/25/22 Update: This only applies to our second generation magazines. With our current mags, we are using Mec-Gar P18 tubes that were designed to stabilize 9mm rounds so no extra work is needed. We now have 10, 15 and 17 round mags available.

To maximize reliable feeding from our second generation 9mm magazines, there is a process you need to follow. We start with a 10mm magazine and both narrow down the feed lips and reshape the top. This angles the cartridge correctly but we also need to ensure the cartridge is seated to the back of the magazine. Why? Well, let me explain a bit.

The RIA A2 HC pistols use an enlarged mag well to hold a staggered magazine – it’s not a true double stack because the rounds alternate going into the magazine and feed from a single position at the top. An important detail that not many realize is that the 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto chambered pistols all use the same frame.

The same frame is used for a number of chambers including 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto. Notice the bulged mag wells and that the grip panel bushings are integral with the frame.

Even though the frame is the same, there is a huge difference in the size of a 9mm vs. a 10mm round so the mags are subtly different as well. The magazine dimensions in terms of width and height are the same but the feed lips differ slightly plus the follower stabilizing guides that are pressed into the body differ as well.

These are A-Zoom snap caps that are made from solid machined aluminum. They are made to the dimensions specified by SAAMI for the 10mm Auto round (at the top in red) and the 9×19 Luger round at the bottom in blue. You can immediately see the difference in size.
Look at the difference in sizes in the mag well. The 10mm (Red on the right) is far longer than the 9mm (Blue on the left).
Here they are from a different angle – 10mm at the top and 9mm at the bottom
Left is a 10mm mag and on the right is a 9mm mag. In terms of stabilizing the follower look at the large diamond shaped depression at the top of the front magazine groove. The 9mm mag’s depression is deeper and longer.

A 10mm magazine body can stabilize the follower when feeding 9mm rounds but it takes a couple of tricks to do it. First, the magazine has a 10% stronger Wolff spring that is pushing the follower upward. Next, the cartridges must be loaded evenly and pushed to the back. Do you remember the old AR15/M16 magazines with the tipsy followers? These are very much the same. If you load the rounds by hand and push down too much on the front, weird things can happen with the rounds further down in the mag.

To compensate for the follower, use a good magazine loader so the rounds go into the mag relatively level and consistently. I prefer the MagLula Universal loader (sometimes called the UpLula). You can get into a quick rhythm where you load a round and keep it seated to the back with your index finger as your withdraw the ramp/tongue of the MagLula. If you don’t keep your finger there, the retracting ramp may pull the round forward out of position.

This is the MagLula universal loader.
When you go to load a round, you squeeze the loader shut so the steel ramp is closed as shown, you push down so the rounds below are pushed down as well and you then insert the new round.
Before you release the loader and the ramp retracts, use your finger to hold the round in place so it stays seated at the back of the mag.

The very last step is the tap the base of the mag on the table. You might need to push the first round back a hair with your finger but you will notice the top round is now firmly held in place and will not “tip” down when you push on the bullet. This is where the 10% stronger Wolff spring really factors in – it is pushing the follower upwards and in turn all of the rounds are held in position by the feed lips.

Once the mag is loaded properly, the cartridge should be held firmly in place and not want to “tip” down.
The Wolff spring and follower are pushing the rounds up against the feed lips thus holding them in place.

Yes, there are a couple of extra steps here – use a loader, push to the back and then tap the mag’s base on the table. It may feel awkward at first because you don’t normally do these extra steps but they get easier and faster the more you do them. If you do them, the mags are very reliable.

Click here to go to our 9mm RIA A2 HC magazine page.

If you have a new RIA A2 HC pistol, be sure to field strip, clean and lubricate your pistol. Then rack the slide back and forth a couple hundred times before your first range visit. If you do this, you are helping the pistol wear in and will have a much better range visit. If you don’t, you are going to get frustrated fast. Note, you need to shoot 200-500 rounds to wear, or break your pistol in. The need for the parts to smooth out and get to know each other is very common – just bear in mind the RIA pistols do not work smoothly right out of the box.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



The GUTA RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System Is Great For Vehicles That Lack Real Time Monitoring

We had a 2,200 mile trip planned expensive things are with a 2016 Ford Transit 150 that had six year-old tires on it – yeah, they need to be replaced but money is tight with inflation thanks to the politicians. The tread was definitely above the wear bars but the outer layer of rubber was starting to crack. So, I really wanted something to let me know how the tires were doing during the trip.

One thing I really like with my 2021 Ram 2500 is that I can see the tire pressure in real time. Our 2016 Transit has a basic tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) but doesn’t report to you what the pressure is – it has has an indicator light if something goes wrong. I really wanted something real time for the van and had seen aftermarket TPMS units that had a receiver and sensors that went on the tire valve stems in place of the caps before.

I started doing some research and while there were a lot of different cheaper models out there, I went with the M20-4 (meaning 4 sensors included) model from GUTA on Amazon based on reviews. I’m actually writing this 1,100 miles into our trip and am quite happy with the unit so let me tell you more about it.

Out of the Box

Literally, the unit comes ready to go other than needing a quick topping off of the main receiver’s battery using a Micro USB cord. The sensors have their batteries loaded and are already programmed to the unit.

What you see on the box was included along with 4 sensors and 4 spare O-rings. I didn’t use their adhesive pad and just opted for a couple small pieces of velcro.

The unit recharges its batteries via the solar panel or you can plug it in – the provide both a car/truck cigarette lighter to USB adapter as well as a short cord, I planned to just run via solar so I didn’t bother.

I bought the four sensor model and in the box there are four ready to go sensors with their batteries installed already programmed to the receiver. The are labeled LF (Left Front), LR (Left Rear), RF (Right Front) and RR (Right Rear). Left and right are from the driver’s perspective looking forward.

All of the sensors were labelled, had the 2032 battery already installed and were programmed to the M20 receiver.

One of the reasons I bought the GUTA M20-4 was that nobody reported needing any extra antennas to pick up the data from the TPMS sensors. Our Transit is a full size 150 model so the wheelbase is about 148″ so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem.

In terms of the sensors, they just go on the valve stem in place of the valve cap. Be sure to put the right sensor, such as the LF- Left Front – sensor on the right tire of course.

To install them you put the jam nut on first and thread it to the bottom. Then screw on the sensor until it stops – you will hear air leak for a second until the sensor seals as you continue threading it on. You then use their special wrench to snug down the jam nuts to lock the sensor in place. Done.

Here you can see the brass jam nut. By snugging this up against the back of the sensor you are pretty much locking the sensor in place due to the tension it creates. Note the elevated black plastic on the sensor under the jam nut – this is where you use the other end of the wrench to open the sensor to replace the battery when it dies.
This odd looking wrench serves two purposes – the left end us for unscrewing the battery cap on a sensor unit. The right end is offset to make reaching behind the sensor to tighten or loosen the jam nut easier. The offset allows the wrench to clear the sensor body and appropriate engage the jam nut. I put this wrench and the spare O-rings to seal the battery compartment in a clear plastic storage bag and put them in the van for future use.
Rather than use their supplied mounting material, I used some industrial Velcro. You stick it on to a clean surface and let it cure for 24 hours. It does a great job after that. The reason I did this was I wanted to be able to move the unit around some without the Velcro showing.
To give you a sense of scale, you can see the van’t instrument console and my hand – I wear an XL-sized glove. The receiver is small but I find the numbers of the display very easy to read from a normal driving position.
The top back of the unit has the solar cells and I have found they do the job. I let them charge during the day and just let the unit run. I don’t turn it off. By the way, there’s a little sun icon that means it is charging and there is also a battery charge indicator in the display as well.

The Device’s Configuration Screens

Well, the mechanical installation was very easy. The set up screen took a few minutes to figure out but wasn’t too bad. The set up screen lets you select pounds per square inch (PSI) or Bar, whether you want Farenheit or Celsius and then the Low and High pressure literally for each tire. An alarm will sound if either the low or high pressue is exceeded – I’ve experienced that. There’s also a high temperature tire warning that applies to all tires.

For the van, I set the low pressures all to 65 PSI and I set the max to 100. The tire temperature was set to 158F by default and I left it at that figuring I would see what happens and adjust accordingly – I had no idea what to expect actually. I did do some reading and somewhere between 190-225F is the maximum safe temperature for a tire to reach – it depends on your tire’s temperature rating.

The unit supports two modes – Mode 1 is for normal street driving and Mode 2 is for offroad or something. I had no need to explore this as our van isn’t going to go offroad.

By the way, you can add sensors or reprogram/pair sensors if need be and the instruction manual tell you how. They sell versions of this system with more and more tires supported and different displays let you see the status. Again, I just bought the model for four tires. I could add sensors to support a trailer though even with the model I have.

The Results

Honestly, I am very happy. It’s been intriguing to see how temperature affects tire pressure – that one I expected. In general, as temperature increases, the volume of a gas increases so this means that the pressure would increase in the tire.

What I didn’t really expect was to see that with driving, the back tires were a tad warmer than the front and also had about 2 PSI more pressure than the front. Tire temperatures where about 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside tire temperature when driving. It’s 95F here and when we were parked on asphalt the heat of the day would take the tires up to about 101-104F and then they would cool down as we drove.

The pressure is real time but the temperature cycles from tire to tire every 5 seconds, Note the pressure when the temperature was 61F. So you can’t tell which tire was sending the temperature in the photo but in real like, the little tire part of the graphic would be flashing so you’d know what it’s temperature is.
Here are the pressures at 77F – again, one tire was at 77F and I bet the others would have been very close to that.
This one is close to 91F. Note, all of these photos are with the same tire pressures. I filled the tires, installed the sensors and have just watched the numbers change. We had ten hour days with me driving so it gave me something to do in addition to staring outside, self-mediation and pondering existience 🙂

I think the manual said the 2032 batteries in the sensors would last about 6 months. I guess we’ll just have to see about that. Cold Michigan Winter weather takes its toll on batteries because as the temperature drops so does the chemical reaction in the batteries and thus less voltage is produced. I’m really not worried because I did open a sensor and it is real easy to replace the batteries.

To sum it up – The installation was very easy and I like being able to see the pressures at a glance. Knowing that there would be an alarm if a threshold is passed or the pressure starts dropping rapidly too are all reassuring.

So, I like the system and would buy it again.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



When Strength and Quality Matter Most

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