Category Archives: AR & Related Rifles and Pistols

Study looks at how well magazine springs hold up over time in storage and with use

Have you ever wondered how well your magazines are going to hold up? I know I’ve wondered that not to mention there are tons of armchair warriors on the Internet offering up their opinion or parroting others. So, what are the facts?

On the AmmoToGo blog called “The Lodge” is a very interesting report entitled “Magazine Spring Torture Test” that reports the results of an actual study they funded. The analysis was done by Applied Technical Services and is very much worth your time to read it.

The magazines tested is quite a list:

  • Magpul Gen 2 Pmag (30 round)
  • Magpul Gen 3 Pmag (30 round)
  • Magpul Gen 3 Pmag (40 round)
  • Amend2 AR-15 Magazine (30 round)
  • Lancer AR-15 Magazine (30 round)
  • USGI AR-15 Magazine (30 round)
  • Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Magazine (8 round)
  • ETS Glock 17 Magazine (17 round)
  • Glock 17 Factory Magazine (17 round)
  • Magpul Glock 17 Magazine (17 round)
  • Glock 17 Factory Magazine (33 round)
  • USGI 45 ACP 1911 Magazine (7 round)
  • Wilson Combat 45 ACP 1911 Magazine (8 round)

Click here to go to their site and read the report. Note, they provide a PDF where you can read about the data from all magazines tested – you definitely will want to check that out also.

Hope this helps you out – I found it very interesting. Finally results from a real study that you can review. Kudos for them to take the time and money to produce and share this!

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 in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Do you really have backup iron sights (BUIS) that you can count on? A lot of shooters do not and it’s not just the fault of the hardware

I’m sure there are a lot of shooters like me who buy and install back up iron sites on their weapons just in case the optic fails. Except for pure range toys that will never see use beyond having fun, I do think BUIS are a really good idea – optics fail for any number of reasons with batteries being dead quite possibly being the #1 issue – especially given how folks love their red dot, green dot and holographic sights. You need a backup for aiming your firearm.

What happens if the battery in the Vortex dies? Well, I do have the backup Magpul sights … right?

A quick comment about “BUIS” – it stands for Back Up Iron Sights. I’m a creature of habit and that’s how they were first introduced to me but not everyone uses that term. For example, Magpul calls their units MBUS – Magpul Back-Up Sights. Other’s just say “back up sights” or even just “attachable” or “folding” sights. So, if you are wanting to search and see what your options are, it will take some searching.

Four Camps of BUIS Users

In talking with shooters, regardless of their firearm platform (AR, AK, Stribog, HK, etc.) about their BUIS, I usually find they fit in one of four camps:

  1. Installed the BUIS and run them full time with their optic in a co-witness manner
  2. Installed the BUIS and periodically use them in a co-witness model but fold them down when not in use
  3. Installed the BUIS and only use them when needed but did sight them in. For example, if they need to remove the optic to deploy the sights or are using offset sights and tilt the weapon 45 degrees to use them.
  4. Attached the units to the Picatinny rail, did not sight them in and have never actually practiced using them to hit targets at the range … “but have them just in case”.

With scenario #1, you know those sights will work – it doesn’t matter if the scope is powered off as long as you can see through the glass.

With #2 & #3 – the sights will probably work as long as you can see through the glass or otherwise see them. Hopefully the shooter has practiced enough how to use the units.

The last one is the most concerning – camp #4 – to be honest, a person in this camp doesn’t really have a backup. Yeah, they have the sights but they aren’t dialed in and lack experience with them. This is a gamble you do not want to take. If this describes you – please don’t take it personally and read the next section – I want to help.

As far as I know, all BUIS are two parts – a front sight and a back sight. In the above photo – I am using Magpul polymer MBUS folding units and are on each far end of the top rail. They fold down until needed and then spring p when you push a lever on each.

If You Are In Camp #4…

First off, I am glad you invested in BUIS – if you are reading this and you haven’t yet, then do so. With that said, do you have quality units or did you buy something dirt cheap off Amazon or eBay. I’d recommend going with a brand name and not cheap airsoft import stuff – I like Magpul (they have a ton of models so click here to see them) plus, in all fairness, there are other quality BUIS sets from the likes of ARMS, Bobro, DiamondHead, Troy and others. Cheap stuff may not hold their zero or break easily. Buy quality to have true BUIS that you can count on.

Second, make sure they are mounted properly. Did you follow the instructions from the vendor who made them? Sometimes there is more to do than slap them on the Picatinny Rail.

Your backup sights should have come with instructions and any specialized tools – be sure to read and follow them. The little black key you see is used for adjusting a Magpul front sight.

Second, you need to sight in the BUIS. I use a laser to help get in the ballpark in the shop and then I do the final tuning at the range. Read up on the recommended range for your firearm and type of optic. For rifles, I go for 50 yards because then you are then zeroed for 50 yards and at 200. The BUIS are just that – emergency backups. I look to be in the ballpark with them and am not looking for perfection but some guys are amazingly proficient with them.

Third, absolutely take them to the range and practice with them!!! Buying, installing and zeroing the BUIS are only part of the game – you must also know how to use them. If they fold, practice on opening and closing them while shooting. If they are offset, practice transitioning to them. Bottom line, you need to practice hitting targets with them and adjust the sights and what you are doing accordingly. The more you practice the greater the odds that things will work when you need them. If you don’t practice then you are taking a huge gamble both on the BUIS and your ability to use them – so don’t gamble.

Magpul sells both basic polymer and pro steel versions of their MBUS. Above is a polymer rear unit on one of my ARs. I fold both the rear and front sights flat until needed – the small lever you see to the left of the mounting screw both releases the sight so it flips open via a spring and then locks up up right. I can count on them because they are zeroed and I practice with them.


The whole reason I wrote this is that it seems like I have encountered a lot of shooters this past year that had BUIS and fell square in camp 4 – they had never sighted them in or practiced with them. This is very concerning to me – they are gambling on something that shouldn’t be left to chance. So, yes, I think BUIS are a great idea but you need to sight them in and regularly practice using them also. If you don’t, then your backup probably isn’t a backup.

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 in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Are You Looking For A Rifle Sling That Has Great Quality And Is Affordable? S2Delta 2-Point Modular Slings Are Good To Go

A good sling for a rifle is really worth it if you plan on carrying them around much. The challenge can be finding one that is quality made that doesnb’t break the bank in terms of cost. Over the past few years, I’ve found a vendor that makes their slings in the USA and does a really nice job – that group is S2Delta.

S2Delta was founded by two Marine Recon vets in Albuquerque, NM, that offers a variety of accessories includling slings, rifle rests and patches. It also looks like they are working on bringing a Remington 700 short action rifle chassis to market as well. My experience with them focuses on their two point modular slings. Let’s review a few things first.

What do they mean by 1-point vs. 2-point slings?

When you see companies refer to a sling being one or two-point, they are referring to the number of places the sling attaches to the weapon. A one-point sling connects only at one point and exactly where depends on the length of the weapon and the preferences of the operator. For example, a relatively short AR may be attached at the end of the buttstock and swung up into position as needed. I’ve also seen guys run connectors along the stock on purpose built end plates just in front of the castle nut.

A two-point slings connects to the weapon and two points – at forward and rear positions usually. I’ve seen guys run their forward position way out at the end of their handguard or even the front sight. The rear tends to be towards the rear of the stock.

Personally, I tend to run two point slings given how I like to distribute the weight of the weapon and how I swing it up into firing position. If I have something relatively small and light, I might run a one point sling but again, this really depends on what you prefer and you learn this over time.

What is a modular sling?

A sling has to connect to the weapon somehow. These days it might be strapped, clipped, a “mash hook”, snap gate D-ring or some form of quick detach (QD) swivel. Instead of dedicating one sling per method, a modular approach became popular that allows you to take a base sling and then pick the connector of your choice to use at one or both ends. You could also start one way and then change just the end vs. the whole sling.

This helps settle the debate of “what connector is best?” Instead, you let your needs dictate what to use. For example, with MP5s I would use HK hooks. With ARs and AKs with modern furniture, I tend to run QD swivels. Again, it’s up to you and what your weapon can support.

What makes a sling “good”?

Ah yes, the quality section. Years ago, I wanted to carry slings forRonin’s Grips and bought a bunch of import samples and all of them were junk meaning they were made from questionable materials and methods. It dawned on me that bringing another sling to market without a differentiator was pointless so I dropped the idea.

Ok, so what you want to look for is the use of wide heavy duty nylon straps, reliable connectors and slides, plus good stitching in a nutshell. So let’s look at each of these points.

Let’s start with the connectors that attach the sling to the weapon – the cheap no-name or import airsoft-grade slings have connectors of real bad quality. I’ve seen hooks snap, QD swivels jam or disintegrate… I dropped an AR on concrete once when the QD failed for example. The connector is very important.

By the way, remember the Die Hard movie scene withere Bruce Willis’ character is dangling from an HK strap? That was a pretty cool memorable movie scene but I wouldn’t say it should set expectations in reality.

These days, I tend to prefer the QD swivels as most of my rifles have them so I can move a sling around quickly if I need to. Also, if I am cleaning, working on the weapon or even firing from the bench, it’s super easy to disconnect the sling and set it to the side.

This is an S2Delta sling with one of their supplied QD swivels that is installed in the handguard of a 16″ AR. Note the beefy stitching and the clips they are using to secure the modular end to the sling.
Here’s one of the S2Delta supplied quick disconnect swivels

For the straps, I prefer nylon and you need them to be at least 1″ to 1.25″ wide to fit swivels, etc. When you get up to the area that will be on your portion, look for 1.5-2″ or even having padding. If you are wearing body armor, the weight is distributed. If you aren’t then the weight of your weapon will only be distributed by the area of the sling that is in contact with how you have it slung on your body. A weapon can get uncomfortable surprisingly fast if the weight isn’t distributed. For heavier long range rifles, I will either get a sling with a pad or buy a pad to help spread out the load.

S2Delta modular sling on DMR with a 20″ Ballistic Advantage barrell, Magpul PRS Lite stock and Vortex Diamondback scope. Note the ample 2″ wide portion of the sling for the shoulder.

Another thing to consider are the slides, D-rings and other strap management parts – cheap ones tend to be thin and flimsy while the quality parts tend to be beefy and a reinforced plastic.

Last but not least, look at the stitching. Edges should be double stitiched and ends box stitched (think of a rectangular box with an X stitched inside extending to each corner.

Solid stitching for sure.
Another up close shot of the stitching.

The end of the day, the sling is only as strong as its weakest component.

Oh – I should mention length. For two point slings look for at least 50-55″. To short and you will not be able to carry the rifle in a patrol postion perpendicular to your body. A rifle over your shoulder may take too long to deply depending on what your use is.

By the way, before you take that comment to be purely tactical. A charter captain I met this summer in Alaska told me the story of his good friend who was nearly killed by a brown bear. The friend had the rifle on his back and couldn’t deploy it hast enough when the brown bear did a surprise charge from the brush. He would have bled to death from the mauling excepthe got real lucky that there just happened to be a helicopter nearby that could medevac him out. The friend still hunts but carries a .44 magnum in a Kenai-style chest holster and has his rifle much more accessible.


I am now using four of their two-point modular slings on a variety of AR configurations ranging from a 16″ defensive carbine up to a 24″ Criterion varmint barreled custom Aero designated marksman’s rifle with a Vortex PST Gen II scope that weighs quite a bit. The first time I tried one was back in 2019.

The S2Delta slings are made in the USA from good materials and I have not had any problems so far. You get a very good level of quality at an affordable price is what it boils down to.

If you are looking for a good two point rifle sling that you can count on, check out S2Delta. They offer a variety of colors and connection methods. Plus, they use Amazon to handle their sales and shipping so it makes things easy.

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 in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Are You Looking For A Lubricant That Performs Better Than CLP? Check Out Kentuckiana Gun Works – Enhanced Reliability Oil

So I stopped in to talk to Scott Igert, my good friend who owns Michigan Gun Exchange, a few weeks back. Scott told me about a new gun oil that he had samples of that the maker had handed him directly and that I ought to take a look at it. I kind of groaned because everyone and their brother claims to have the best gun oil. Some have ok oil and some don’t (remember the canola oil mess some years back?) but nobody has THE best oil.

Many times the oils they are selling you are an existing product that has been put into tiny containers with some really splashy marketing and packaging. For example, if you find a red colored weapon oil that feels, smells and is colored red like ATF, then it is probably some variant of automatic transmission fluid – Dexron, ATF, etc. If it’s colored blue and smells and feels like hydraulic fluid then that might well be what it is. Now I am not saying all products are that way but a lot are.

So, somewhat warily, I took the sample bottle home with me. It had to wait a bit until I could get around to focusing on it. The product is “Enhanced Reliability Oil” From Kentuckiana Gun Works (KGW).

In looking at the oil, it was yellow-ish with a hint of red. It’s a blend of something – but not something right out of a bottle. I felt it and it had a nice 30 weight-ish feel to it. It wasn’t really thin but it was slippery.

The smell was that of a petroleum oil but nothing uniquely stood out.

Did I taste it … no, I have standards to uphold at least while I am sober.

Okay, those quick observations may sound ridiculous to you – well, the taste part was a joke – but many products you can kind of group by color, feel and smell. This one I couldn’t because the color was unique plus it felt like a decent lubricant so I decided to dig a bit more.

I took a few drops of some common lubricants and put them on a piece of white printer paper. Left is the KGW product, then Super Lube, them CLP, followed by Mobile 1 5w-30 synthetic engine oil and finally Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5w-30. Super lube is clear – it just turned the paper black. KGW has a slight red hue and then the others are different yellows. The CLP soaked in the fastest by the way reflecting how thin it is.

Did Some Digging

I visited their website and also did some searching. KGW is a new firm so there really isn’t much info out there which meant I needed to reach out to Kohl Oettle, the owner of KGW who developed the oil. Scott had his contact info so we traded some emails.

Kohl was a tanker in the Marine Corp Reserve for six years and had developed a dislike for CLP as a lubricant – CLP stands for Cleaner Lubricant Protector just in case you didn’t know. Kohl pointed out, “We used CLP on everything, m4, m16, 240, m2, m48 etc, and in every application it burned off and ran off so quickly that I developed a real hate for all types of CLP. I wanted something that was thicker, handled heat better, and just lasted longer. “

That resonated with me because CLP is just way too thin for me. When I have big clunking parts, I need a thicker lubricant such as as oil or a grease to have reliable lubrication especially during break in. I still use CLP as a cleaner once in a while but I haven’t used it as a lubricant for probably 16 years — tt dawned on me that I started working on AKs around 2006 and CLP was just too thin to use as an assembly lube on those rifles so it’s been more like 16 years.

So I asked Kohl what set his oil apart from the tons of other products on the market. He responded, “It’s not trying to do everything. It wasn’t designed to be a cleaner. It’s a damn good oil and protector, without all the cleaners that make so many others thin, and less heat tolerant. I do have a very small amount of carbon deposit reducers in my oil, but just enough help control the carbon buildup and thus make the bolt reciprocate much easier. It’s not nearly enough to be used as a cleaner, and that’s on purpose. “

For the last seven years, Kohl has worked in industrial maintenance working on a variety of machines ranging from food processing to automotive parts manufacturing. As part of this, he learned that one of the most effective means of keeping a machine running reliably was to use the proper oil and grease.

What I found especially interesting was that Kohl tinkered with the the blend until he achieved the viscosity and lubrication he wanted through trial and error. He primarily had the AR-15 and similar rifles in mind when he was designing it but it will work on other pistols, rifles and shotguns as well. By the way, I mentioned earlier I thought it was about 30 weight – Kohl told me it’s a tad thicker than that.

When he was ready, he took to shooting classes and and shot thousands of rounds through a variety of weapons. He also sent out samples to people and a local gun store helped him sell his oil and collect feedback for 18 months. He took this feedback and further refined his product.

I respected what he did. Both Scott and I started our respective businesses and learned over time the same way Kohl has done.

Assembly Lube Testing

I used the KGW Enhanced Reliability Oil as an assembly lube for the fire control group, bolt catch, bolt, and bolt carrier. I grease the takedown pins so not there.
I ensured there was a thin film on both the top/front of the hammer as well as the bolt carrier.

My testing has been limited so far but I will update this post after my first range trip. I recently built two AR rifles and used Kohl’s oil as an assembly lube. I could tell everything was moving very easily. In this regard it worked great. Time is a challenge these days and I hope to get these rifles to the range in the next 3-4 weeks but didn’t want to hold up getting the word out there.

You can buy the oil direct from KGW’s website or you may find it at your local gun store as their business expands.

By the way, I don’t make any money off this post and Kohl didn’t ask me to. I just know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur trying to start a small business – I figured helping Kohl was the least I could do after all the folks who helped me.

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 in**@ro*********.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 AR Build Kits Are Affordable and Fun To Build

I’ve pointed thius out before – I really enjoy building firearms. I don’t have the hardcore machinist skills to build one from scratch – I wish I could though – but I do enjoy assembling and tinkering plus I don’t mind some fitting / fabricating. With this in mind, I have a lot of fun building ARs from PSA kits because they are affordable, reliable and accurate. I’m not going to waste time with the whole manufacturing tiering or the rediculous “poor” labels – that’s all they are. Now, if you are in the military and you need special weapons, you aren’t reading this post – it’s that simple. If you are like most folks and want to build an AR that you can enjoy with friends and family, then read on.

Founded in 2008

For those of you who do not know Palmetto State Armory (PSA) – they have been around since 2008. It was founded by Josiah McCallum after his Iraq deployment and he started it in his garage. To put it mildly, he has been growing PSA ever since into the powerhouse it is today. Folks, PSA has a ton of offerings now – ARs, AKs, pistols, ammo, parts … the list goes on and on. One thing you will notice is that they are constantly learning and evolving.

I’ve Only Had One Problem

So, I bought and built my first PSA AR many years back – I looked at my order history and it looks like it was 2014. In all the years, I can only remember one problem – they forgot to include the disconnector. I contacted customer service and had one a few days later. That was probably a year or two after my first one and I’ve not had a problem since. You’ll notice now they bag their parts by grouping so this probably helps with quality control considerably.

Have I ever had a part fail? No – not that I recall. I normally will put a few hundred rounds through a build, eventually get bored of it and have my FFL, Michigan Gun Exchange, sell it to fund another project. So all I can tell you is that my experience with their AR kits has been very favorable and have no reservations telling someone to use them – especially if they want to start and learn.

What options do they have?

Whew – they have tons and tons of kits and parts you can choose from. Different barrel lengths, handguards, furniture, triggers, and so forth. You can buy a kit with everything except for a stripped lower receiver or you can buy assemblies such as a build kit for a stripped lower to then use with whatever upper receiver you want.

The point is that they have something for everyone and if you are patient and watch their Daily Deals (you can sign up for their emails) then you can get a great deal. For example, the kit I built this time is their “PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO 1:7 MIDLENGTH NITRIDE 13.5″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK MOE EPT RIFLE KIT W/ MBUS SIGHT SET” – which means in has a 16″ barrel that is chambered for 5.56 NATO with a 1:7 twist and black nitried finish, has a 13.5″ M-LOK handguard, comes with Magpul MOE grip and buttstock, their enhanced polished trigger (EPT) fire control group and has a set of Magpul BackUp Iron Sights (BUIS). Yeah, they pack a lot into that description. The kit comes with everything you need except for a stripped lower receiver (I used an Anderson I already happened to have) and the best part was that it was only $479.99 vs. the list of $799.99.

This is PSA’s Model 516446780 parts kit that comes with everything you need except for a stripped mil-spec lower receiver.

Serves as a foundation

The AR parts are all Mil-Spec – what this means is that rifles that use parts built to the original military specification dimensions can use other parts. For example, I prefer the Magpul ACS stocks – they just feel better to me. Because the PSA buffer tube is Mil-Spec, that meant I coul easily replace the MOE buttstock that came with the kit with an ACS.

My point is that a PSA kit can serve as a foundation that you can very readily build on. Down, the road if you want to change out barrels, triggers, uppers, etc. you can easily do so. If something has a problem and you need to replace, again, there will not be a problem finding parts.

By the way, I would recommend a spare parts kit regardless of brand AR you are using – they are usually relatively inexpensive and include wear items, such as the firing pin, plus parts that get lost – for example, the takedown detents.

A quick comment on the EPT triggers

The PSA EPT triggers are a decent. I recently did a test on a number of triggers and a Mil-Spec Aero brand trigger had an average pull of 6 pounds 12.4oz. The PSA EPT had an average pull of 6 pounds 12.3oz and that was with both lubricated by oil. So, not a huge benefit but I do like them – just don’t expect a world of difference is my point.

If you really want a remarkable trigger, buy the PSA 2-stage trigger that has an average pull of 4 pounds 9.5 oz when lubed. It’s a must-have upgrade for only $64.99 and yes, you can always change to it later.

How do you assemble these kits?

Really, the only thing you need to assemble is the lower. PSA has already done the upper and headspaced it just to be safe. In theory, Mil-Spec barrels going into Mil-Spec uppers should not need headspacing but the reality is that you better check it just to be safe and PSA does.

I did a whole series of posts back in 2017 about building AR lowers – click here for a list that will open in a new browser tab.

The reference source I used to learn how to assemble AR lowers way back when is the guide on There are now tons of videos out there as well and you can learn a great deal by investing a little time to watch them. For example, here is one from PSA and here is one from Midway USA.

This is my latest 16″ PSA AR build. It has a MOE stock, Magpul BUIS and a Vortex Optics UH-1 sight.

Recommended Tools

Over the years, I have bought and tried quite a few tools but there are just a few that have stood the test of time that I still use. I figured it might help you to have a list so you can consider whether you want to pick them up or not.

  • Trigger Guard Jig – there are a ton of ways to do the trigger guard roll pin but a tool makes it really simple and reduces the odds of marring the finish or snapping an ear off the receiver.
  • Magazine Catch Punches – folks, Wheeler and others make long roll pin punches that have a vinyl coating to help install the mag catch. They are totally worth it. No more tearing up your finish or having to apply duct tape – these tools help you get it right the first time.
  • Front Pivot Pin Detent Jig – installing front pivot pin’s detent and spring is next to impossible without the right tools. Wheeler and others make a very simple pin set to help you save your sanity.
  • Trigger slave pin – greatly simplifies installation of the assembled trigger, disconnector and spring assembly. We make one 🙂
  • Magpul Castle Nut Wrench – I have used a wide variety of tools over the years ranging from the old GI tool to bizarre looking combination wrenches. If you want a solid tool that will hold up over time, the Magpul wrench is the way to go.
  • Gunsmith Punch Set – there are tons of makers. Basically you want a wide range of punches and roll pin punches. I have a mix of punches from Tekton, Weaver and Wheeler plus ones that I have no idea where they came from.
  • Non-Marring Hammer – You’ll need a small hammer from time to time that will not tear up your finish – I use Vaughan hammers.
  • Automatic Punch – I have a tremor so my hands shake. To stake the rear castle nut, I just use a good General brand automatic punch. It’s not as deep/good of a stake as a hammer driven punch but I do the automatic punch repeatedly to deform the surface and lock the nut.
  • Magpul BEV-Block – If you plan to install barrel nuts or muzzle devices, you will need a really secure means to hold the barrel and receiver securely. DO NOT use the blocks that just use the pivot and rear pin holes your you are apt to bend them. I did that once. Get a BEV block. It’s way, way easier and does a great job.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for something fun to do and there are tons and tons of tutorials out there – build an AR. The PSA kits are reliable and very affordable with different options to suit your tastes.

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 level a scope reticle

First off, I better explain that a recticle is the formal name for the cross-hairs or series of fine lines that are inside a scope that you use to aim with. There are a ton of different ones out there and one thing you want to do is to get them level with the rifle.

Let’s start with why this matters

The reason for this doesn’t affect the old traditional cross-hair designs but it does the ones that have additional marks to help you better determine the range and the necessary hold based on Mil-Radians (Mils) or Minutes of Angle (MOA).

These are examples of reticles found in a very interesting post about the topic on Wikipedia.

If you search, there are tons and tons of posts about different types of reticles and how to use them. The important point I want to make is that for any of these more modern reticles with additional lines to help you accurately, the horizontal lines must be parallel with the rifle.

How do you level a reticle?

The first way is the old fashioned “eyeball” method. Hold the rifle and make sure the top of the receiver is as level as possible (meaning the rifle is not tilted left or right), look through the scope and adjust it in the rings until it is true to the top of the receiver and then start tightening down the rings while confirming nothing shifts. It’s not the most precise method but it does work, I’ve done a ton of rifles that way, but there is another approach using levels.

In it’s most form, you put a small level on the top rail or flat spot of your recever, tilt it until it is level and then put the level on the top turret and adjust the scope until it matches. Having something to hold the rifle in place while you work really helps as does having a second level so you can both confirm the receiver and scope are level as you work. You can often find single vial levels at hardware stores or through industrial supply houses. The one negative to this approach is that the levels can slide off if you don’t have things secure. I like to use a Tipton Pro Rifle Vise to hold the rifle in place while working.

Wheeler Engineering does offer a basic level set that works. I don’t use it though because it’s rear receiver piece has a magnet to secure it and that will not work in an AR or other weapon that is made from aluminum and not steel. For this reason, it wasn’t something I could use.

These days, when I have time and I want to try and get the scope as accurately positioned as I can on the first try, I use a Wheeler Engineering Profession Reticle Leveling System. It’s easy and fast.

First, you put the level on your receiver/rail and level the receiver. Then you put the clamp on the barrel and level it – I compare both the receiver and the barrel bubble levels before I move the receiver level to the top scope turret. Once the level is on the top turret, I adjust the scope until the bubbles match and it’s done. I’ve used this for a number of years now and am very happy with it.

The professional leveling system has two parts – the barrel clamp and the separate level you use on the receiver and then the scope turret. The two parts are made from aluminum and come in a nice protective case. If it weren’t for the case, mine would look much more beat up. Protecting the parts makes sense for another reason – you don’t want things to get bent, gouged, dented or whatever and then throw off the readings or mar the finish of your weapon.
The first thing you do is to use the small level (shown behind the backuop sight) to true the receiver. Then you adjust the barrel clamp until it is level also. Just visible under the handguard is the front of my Tipton vise.
After the barrel clamp has been levelled, you move the small level to the flat top turret and then rotate the scope however you need to get it flat also. Compare this level to the barrel clamp level to make sure they agree. The more care you take to get the bubbles centered and matching, the better.

I do use a Vortex torquing screw driver to tighten the scope ring screws and am careful to confirm the scopes levelling does not shift in the process. Vortex scopes say not to torque them past 18 inch/pounds (please note that is inch pounds and not foot pounds just to be very clear – you don’t want to damage your scope but at the same time, you do want it secure).

Again, with any of these methods, it really helps to secure the rifle in a vise where you can adjust and then secure the rifle so the top is horizontally true.

Yeah, this is my real work bench. It was worse than normal as I still had all of the packing from the scope,rings and upper on the bench. The Tipton gun vise has served me very well over the years. By the way, notice the level on the turret – you reall want that perpendicular to the rifle. In this photo it is slightly crooked and no longer perpendicular and risk the scope not bein accurately levelled to the rifle.


The Wheeler Engineering Professional Leveling System has served me well and I have used it on a number of projects over the years. I have no hesitations in recommending it to you as well.

Sabatti Urban Sniper with a Vortex PST scope.
Ruger RPR with Vortex PST optic sporting its sun shade.
IWI .308 Galil with a Vortex PST Gen 2 Scope.

I hope this post 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 in**@ro*********.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 A Really Good Deal On 36″ Black Tactical Rifle Cases

Palmetto State Armory has a lot of good deals on a variety of firearms and accessories. One that I like is their 36″ rifle soft sided rifle case. It follows the trend of tactical bags having a million pockets, straps and even shoulder straps. I have a few of them and use them for AKs and ARs primarily – they are well made and very affordable.

The nylon used seems solid – I’ve loaded them down with a lot of weight from whatever rifle is in the bag plus a bunch of loaded mags, bipod and any accessories such as flashlights, etc. Neither the nylong fabric nor the zipper has let go. When you look at the stitching, it’s pretty good as well – certainly for the price point.

One side of the bag has pouches where you can fit at least 8-30 round mags plus there is a big pouch behind the mags where you can put a bipod, light, etc.
The main compartment protects your rifle very well. What you see is a 16″ AR that I built using a PSA kit and Anderson receiver with a standard bird cage muzzle device and Vortex UH-1 optic. There are straps there if you want to secure your weapon even further.
Like many tactical bags, these have the backpack should straps on the side opposite the mag carrier should you need them. The most I ever do is throw one strap over my shoulder and carry it but the option is there. You can also see all of the stitching that goes into the bag.
This is the compartment behind the mags and you can see even more pockets to hold paperwork / maps / notes on the rear wall where my thumb is.
Look – more pouches! I am sure some of you are way more organized than I am. There is a zippered pouch directly behind the mag carrier. I have never used it – ever on any of my bags but it’s there 🙂
A weak spot in cases can be the zipper. On one hand, they do give you a very robust zipper but they also give you straps to compress the bag and take the load off the zippers if you really load the case down and are worried about straining them. I’ve not loaded a bag to that extent but I think it’s cool that they include them just in case. Also note the double stitching on the zippers. Really cheap cases will both use a junk zipper and single line of stitching.


If you look for the bag alone, they often have it for $49.99 (they do right now and list is normally $69.99 which is still a pretty good price for what you get) and then they will run specias were you can get the case and some number of magazines for $99.99 – right now for example, you get 7 of the MagPul MOE AR 5.56 mags. They also have a combo deal that I haven’t seen them offer before – PSA branded Walker ear muffs, shooting glasses and the case for only $49.99.

Click on a photo to open the PSA listing in a new tab:
There are three 36″ case options that PSA currently offers on their website.

In summary

What I am trying to tell you is that if you have a rifle, pistol caliber carbine, shotgun or whatever that will fit in a 36″ case, you can’t beat the combination of price and quality. My normal go-to for soft-sided cases these days is Survivor Equipment brand on Amazon but when I need a black 36″ tactical case, I go with PSA because you often can score some great deals on 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 in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

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.


The trigger installs just like any other AR trigger. Click here for a post I wrote some years back on installing an AR trigger and it will open in a new tab.

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

When you are done it will look something like this:


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.

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


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 in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.