Category Archives: USA

PSA AK-E: First Range Trip

Well folks, we finally had a chance to go to the range for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day and the only shortcoming was that we had a number of rifles and pistols to test and not enough time to shoot a ton of rounds through each. To be honest, we had a blast 🙂

One of the rifles that went was my PSA AK-E. It was the smoothest cycling AK out of the box that I have encountered and I think it’s due to a combination of pretty good fitment and their nickel-boron coating of the bolt and bolt carrier. I’ve written a number of posts about my journey with the AK-E so click here to open a tab/window and see those posts.

We were shooting 124 grain 7.62×39 FMJ ammo by Golden Tiger. This is great ammo and my favorite to use. For AK bulk ammo, it’s relatively accurate, reliable and consistent — notice that I say relatively. It will hold its own with any of the bulk steel case ammo or even do better. I’m not comparing it to hand loads or specialty ammo.

Niko is a heck of a shot and is familiar with AKs as well. He had to do Slavic Squat shot 🙂

I wish I could tell you that we shot hundreds of rounds but there just wasn’t time. We shot three mags through it – 90 rounds and did not have one problem. Yeah, it’s not many rounds but I figured some of you would like an update and I’ll post again after the next range trip.

Observations:

  • The little Vortex Crossfire did a great job and we had fun punching paper. The scope and the RS!Regulate optic mount worked out just fine. I’ve used the combo before and expected such.
  • The rifle functioned just fine with no feed or ejection problems
  • The rounds were grouping pretty well – we were not shooting for accuracy – more for function testing
  • The trigger was very nice – ALGs are great in general and what I like to use these days.
  • The brake did a decent job. I think a JMAC RRD-4C brake would have reduced recoil further but out of the box the recoil was not bad at all. When you think about it, even an AK with no brake is surprisingly pleasant to shoot during semi-auto fire
  • I definitely liked the feel – the weight and balance – of the rifle – the RS!Regulate handguard, our AK-12 grip and a Magpul ACS stock worked very well together
Me with my favorite AK shooting shirt 🙂

When we were done, I did take the rifle apart and did not see anything concerning. So, I definitely want to shoot it more and the rifle is off to a good start.


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WWI 4.7-inch Gun Number 395 At The VFW Post 1137 in Watervliet, Michigan

One day when we were driving around, a WWI-era cannon caught my eye. It was positioned in front of VFW post 1137 in Watervliet, MI. Artillery of that era has a number of distinct markings – notably wooden wheels! So, I stopped and took photos – two times actually. One time in the Winter of 2019 and again in July of 2020.

Well, age and the elements are taking their toll but you can still see the 4.7″ M1906 and get a pretty good idea of what it looked like in its prime. Kudos to someone for making a stand to take the load off the old wooden wheels that could never handle it at this point.

Getting The Clues I Needed To Research The Cannon

In most artillery of this age, you can find what you need to start digging on the muzzle and the carriage. With this in mind, I made sure to get some photos as best I could of the info at those points.

The markings were hard to make out with the naked eye due to paint but with some digital photo editing, I could pull out the details. Northwestern Ordnance Co. 2665 Pounds. No. 395.
Getting in even closer and seriously tweaking the photo to enhance clarity, you can see that it says Northwestern Ordnance Co. 1918. The weight is definitely 2665. The initials in the lower right I am not sure of. I wonder if they were the inspector’s initials or some code. I can make out the letter H but not what is before it. You can see the bore area near muzzle still has its rifling.
It looks like there were three initials to the right of the gun’s number – “NO. 395”. The first two initials are too worn for me to make out but the last one looks like an “H”. I’m guessing but “R.B.H” maybe?
The emblem on the carriage was far easier to read and also our single best clue as to where to start digging. It was carriage number 702 for the Model 1906 4.7 inch gun. The carriage was made by Studebaker in 1918.

Doing The Research

From the carriage, I knew to start my Internet searching on M1906 4.7″ guns and Google immediately returned images, books and blog posts that confirmed that.

Here it back in the day! This is from the Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

Wikipedia gave me some info but then thanks to the Internet Archive Project, I found two scanned copies of US Army books that had lots of old pictures, diagrams and really comprehensive information about the 4.7″ gun. There is so much detail in these books that I am just going to give a quick overview in this post and you can learn more from these books:

Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.
Source: Handbook of Artillery: Including Mobile, Anti-Aircraft and Trench Materiel, May 1920.

More Details

The 4.7 inch (120mm) field gun was designed and issued by the US Ordinance department beginning in 1906 with the first units being delivered in 1911. It was manufactured by the Northwest Ordinance Co and carriages were made by three firms groups: Rock Island Arsenal, Walter Scott Co and Studebaker Co.

Apparently there were logistical problems with the unique ammunition it used resulting in limited numbers being built. Despite larger orders being placed, only 209 guns and 470 carriages were produced. 64 of the units were sent to France. 994,852 of the 4.7 inch shells it used were produced. Most of the units were used for training and the guns stayed in reserve storage until 1932. [Source – Wikipedia]. Note, that Wikipedia link is pretty cool for a quick high-level summary of the 4.7″ gun.

More Photos of Number 395

The photos below were taken on the two different visits mentioned above. If you click on one, you can see the full-size photo and navigate around as well.

Summary

I’ve heard from guys who grew up in this area and they tell me the gun moved around some over the years before landing at its current location in front of the VFW post. If anyone has more information, I’d sure be curious to hear it.

With that said, I now know a little bit more and hope you found this post interesting.


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Looking for a Cool AR Rifle Project? Build a .50 Beowulf

Interest in the Beowulf round is growing as people buy the low cost 12.7×42 chambered pistols, rifles and kits. 12.7×42 is the metric designation for the Beowulf and is being used by groups wanting to avoid a trademark problem with Alexander Arms.

The Beowulf is one heck of a thumper delivering massive kinetic energy on target from the base AR-15 platform. That’s the remarkable part – it uses a standard AR lower! To give you an idea of the size of the round take a look at this photo. From top to bottom: .50 Beowulf 350gr XTP, 5.56×45 55gr FMJ , 7.62×39 123gr FMJ and a loose 9mm 124gr Hornady HST. The Beowulf sure dwarfs the little 5.56×45 round!

I’ve owned two .50 Beowulf’s and my current one was built using an Alexander Arms DIY kit that allows you to add the handguard and brake that you want. They are built on standard AR lowers so if you have an AR today, it’s just a matter of adding an upper in this caliber or you can do a whole new dedicated build – it’s up to you. I’ve also done a number of posts about my builds in case you want to learn more – click here to see a list.

A Beowulf upper can mate to any in-spec AR lower. This is a Spike’s lower with an Ergo group, Magpul PRS III and Geissele trigger.

What caught my eye the other day and prompted me to write this post is that Primary Arms has noticed the growing interest in .50 Beowulf and is now carrying a variety of parts and ammunition. They have a lot of products in stock and they ship fast. I’ve placed a couple of orders with them for parts over the past month and they are still shipping stuff out either the same or next day – that’s remarkable given how busy the industry is right now.

To give you some examples of .50 Beowulf products that Primary Arms has currently, they have the Alexander Arms DIY 16″ barrel kit and also the Timber Creek Heart Breaker muzzle brake, which is my favorite Beowulf brake.

This is the 16″ DIY kit. Alexander Arms has done all the fitting for you. It comes with one magazine as well. In terms of the upper kit, I found the machining and parts fitment to be excellent.
This is the Timber Creek Heart Breaker and it does a remarkable job of reducing the recoil. It has three heart shaped ports on each side that redirect the blast backwards to propel the rifle forward and reduce recoil. The three circular ports on the top help reduce climb. Seriously, this is a solid brake.

For ammo, there is an increasing variety out there – Alexander Arms makes their own with a variety of loads plus there are other sellers out there with their own offerings. I’ve found the Alexander Arms 350 grain Hornady XTP ammo to be accurate and the XTPs really open up on impact.

The is older packaging. In 2019 I noticed Alexander was using an eye catching color scheme of navy, black and white – same ammo just a different box. The Alexander Arms .50 Beowulfl 350gr XTP ammo is packed 20 rounds to a box and Primary Arms has it in stock.
Here’s the whole Beowulf.

So, if you want a fun build, get the kit, the handguard you want, the brake you want and take it from there. For folks who like optics, I’d recommend something that can help with fast moving up close targets as well as out to about 200 yards — I paired mine up with a Vortex 1-6×24 Strike Eagle and the 1-8×24 model would be great also.

This is my 1-6×24 Vortex Strike Eagle using a Vortex cantilever mount on my current Beowulf rifle.

One last comment, I make my own magazines using the reliable but inexpensive aluminum D&H magazines that PSA sells. They typically go for $9.99 on sale to $12.99 normally and right now they are on sale in case you want to snag some – they also have their special going on where you can get one of their 36″ rifle cases plus 7 D&H magazines for $109.99

This is one of the 30 round D&H 5.56 magazines that you can use to hold up to 10 Beowulf rounds.
This is the very well made 36″ PSA rifle case deal that includes 7 D&H mags.

Conclusion

That’s it for now. I hope you found this helpful and have fun building and shooting a .50 Beowulf.


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My Favorite .50 Beowulf Muzzle Brake

I now have built my second Beowulf and guys ask me about the recoil all the time – the short answer is that it’s very manageable. With just a bit of tuning, I’d put it somewhere between a 20 and a 12 gauge shotgun shooting 2-3/4″ magnum loads. Now that there are a ton of options both from Alexander Arms as well as generic 12.7×42 uppers (the metric designation for the Beowulf so they don’t have to pay royalties to Alexander Arms), a lot of guys are getting into the .50 Beowulf cartridge and ask me about what brake to run with.

My favorite is the Timber Creek Heartbreaker. It does a remarkable job of venting gasses backwards to compensate for the recoil it would otherwise have. I liked it so much on my first build that it was what I used in my second build. It’s very affordable and I’d be surprised if you can find a brake that does a better job!

Side view of the Heartbreaker and you can see where it gets its name.
View from the top. Note the brake includes a jam nut.

Finding The Brake

My first recommendation is to check out Primary Arms – they carry them and ship fast.

The second option is to buy the brake from is eBay. Just make sure that the thread of the brake matches the thread on your barrel because there are two different threads floating around out there.

My Alpha Wulf

I did a series of blog posts when I built my second rifle. My pet name for it was the “Alpha Wulf” or the leader of the pack. It’s all premium parts and probably my best AR build when it comes to paying careful attention to details during assembly. Here are the posts:

I’m a big fan of the .50 Beowulf cartridge and hope you find this post helpful!


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Motivational Video: US Navy Seals and SWCC – “Never Quit”

Many folks have heard of the US Navy’s Sea Air and Land (SEAL) teams. The SEALs have been in a ton of movies and books but they are supported by another critical special warfare group – the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC). These are the teams that man the small boats that deliver and pick up the SEALs.

I have a lot of respect for the SWCC crews and get a real kick out of their boats – wow. These things are packing some serious firepower.

So, I ran across this cool motivational video this morning and thought I would share it:


Please note that all images are extracted from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).

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.