My First (and possibly last) AR-15 Build


Today’s post is brought to you by Patrick Shipp, Patrick has served his country down range in Iraq and on the front lines of the energy war in Washington, DC.

Roaming the aisles of The Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly, VA, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of today’s small arms industry. Nearly every make and model of rifle, shotgun, and hand cannon in the world is there, and eager buyers are salivating at the thought of owning that which the liberal media has made taboo. Among the tables of Colt 1911s, Remington 700s, and Winchester Repeaters, there are a few vendors who are targeting a more discriminating customer; the AR-15 armorer.

Merriam-Webster defines an armorer as “one that repairs, assembles, and tests firearms.”

I wasn’t looking to build the best AR, but wanted to gain a better understanding of how the rifle operates. I began my build with some internet research. There are over 150 individual parts in an AR-15, and all of them must function together in order to effectively send 62 grains of lead towards the intended target. All of the parts can be purchased online and shipped directly to your home, with the exception of the stripped lower receiver. This is the serial number component, and must be transferred to the customer through a Federal Firearms Licensee. I bought my Smith and Wesson M&P stripped lower at the gun show for $130. At the show, I also purchased several Magpul components, including flip-up front and rear sites, a pistol grip, trigger guard, and adjustable buttstock. The remaining components I purchased online from Del-ton (flattop upper receiver), Midway USA (buffer tube, buffer spring, buffer, lower receiver parts kit, and bolt carrier group), and Ebay (replacement buffer tube for the one I over torqued). Where there was an option to, I bought mil-spec components. I switched out the 18” barrel on another AR platform for a 20”, and used the 18” barrel on this build. I found a handguard left over from deployment and got to work.

I went to my local range, Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, VA, and had the armorer there put the barrel on my upper receiver. There’s a lot that can go wrong, including miss alignment which could affect gas tube alignment, so I went to the pro. He switched out the short barrel, and installed the longer one for fifty bucks. That was money well spent. I did the rest of the assembly in my basement, using Cheaper Than Dirt’s YouTube videos on building a lower receiver and the Army’s TM9-1005-319-23. It’s important to know that all of the components fit together in a specific order. Anyone who has ever tried to repair their car knows what I’m talking about. Step-by-step instructions are essential to success. Watch the video and read the instructions a couple of times for real success. With the lower complete, I replaced the fixed front site post with a gas block with picatinny rails and attached the front and rear sites. I snapped top and bottom together, performed a functions check, and took it to the range. This was the most nerve wracking part. I knew everything had been done correctly, but in the back of my mind, I thought, “what if this damn thing blows up in my face. I’m going to look like an idiot.” One hundred rounds later, and I was satisfied with my work.

No after action review is complete without the obligatory what went wrong, and for me, those are the most important lessons learned. My buttstock has a little bit of wobble when fully extended. Though the buffer tube and buttstock are mil-spec, I can’t help but think that the replacement tube I bought after busting the one from Midway USA was not the correct diameter. The upper and lower aren’t as tight as the pros prefer, though you can purchase a small plastic block that will make the fit snug. I would recommend always buying a matched upper and lower to avoid any wiggle. The bolt carrier group from AR Stoner is snug, and did cause the rifle to fail to cycle completely. I have tried sanding, and will take the Dremel to it sometime soon. After the fact, I read some disparaging reviews on Midway USA, regarding the AR Stoner bolt carrier group. I’d say this is one of the components where you want to spend a little bit more, especially if you’ve incurred some savings elsewhere by catching Magpul and CMMG lower reciever components on sale.

All in all, I’m pleased with the outcome. The final cost to complete, I’d estimate at about $900. You can purchase a complete stock AR-15 for this much, and add the Magpul components for another $150 or so. The bolt carrier group is an easily replaceable part if the Dremel doesn’t work, and the wobble reminds me that I need to look into getting another buffer tube. The feeling, though, of firing the weapon you built, well, that’s just priceless.

See you at the range.

20 Rules of a Gunfight, Reloaded

This is the Laymen’s Tactical version of the rules for gun fighting. If you’ve been in the military they may look a little familiar, but in law enforcement it is MUCH different. Survival is the only thing that matters in a real life shooting situation.

  1. Your number one Option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to three skill sets: Avoidance, Deterrence, and Situational Awareness.

  1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns

  1. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH

  1. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.

  1. Only hits count.

  1. Close doesn’t count.

  1. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.

  1. Move away from your attacker. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

  1. Distance is your friend, but cover is a better one.

  1. If you are not shooting, you should be doing 3 things: Communicating, Reloading, and Running.

  1. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting is more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun in your hand.

  1. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME

  1. In combat, there are no rules: Always Cheat; Always Win! The only unfair gun fight is the one you lose.

  1. Have a plan.

  1. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work.

  1. Use cover or concealment as much as possible. The only visible target should be the one in your gun sights.

  1. Don’t drop your guard.

  1. Always tactical reload and threat scan 360 degrees.

  1. Watch their hands. Hands kill!  Gun Fighter’s Motto: In God we trust! Everyone else, Keep your hands where I can see them.

  1. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

Did you see some terms that you don’t use in everyday life? Have you really thought about a plan for different situation that you find yourself in often? Is there a way to avoid the fight?

Think about these rules, then think about what you need to do so that you are actually as prepared as possible when “it” does hit the fan.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Holsters on a Budget 101


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…my gear, my way.

It’s kind of humorous if you ask me, but people want the “right” gear so they look cool at the range, while carrying concealed or during training. While I can absolutely understand this feeling, this isn’t high school people! This is real life and what works well for one person may not work well for you. Body types, personal styles and budget vary and you have to do what is right for you. Mr. Ingersoll touched on this a few posts ago and pretty much said that what you can afford and works for you is what you should buy. I’m just expanding upon his observations in this post and sharing my personal set up. I’ll share links for the makers of my gear and let you look around for yourself.

My personal preference is to have a holster for each specific purpose when carrying my Beretta 92FS. To this end I have two outside the waistband holsters (OWB), one inside the waistband holster (IWB), and one trigger guard style holster. Mr. Ingersoll has at least that many holsters for his Beretta 8040 to include a Safariland duty holster and a few others. I personally prefer a paddle style holster over belt holsters as they are easily removed when needed and are very stable on my frame. Speaking of frames, I’m over 6ft and pushing 300lbs. I am a very big guy, so my set ups may not be the perfect set up for you.

blackhawkYou may ask why I have two different OWB style holsters. That’s a good question and I will explain my logic and how it came to be. The first holster is an Uncle Mike’s paddle set up with no retention of any kind other than friction. I have had it for years and it was cheap. I have used this holster for concealed carry and training only because it has no retention level protection in case of a gun grab situation or fight. The second OWB holster I have is a Blackhawk! SERPA.  I carry in this holster in situations when it’s appropriate to open carry. The SERPA is an affordable holster with lots of options. It comes with both a paddle and belt attachment when purchased and it’s designed to work with both a shoulder rig and tactical thigh rig with no modifications, just a few screws. There is a lot of bang for your buck with this holster. Is it the end all, be all holster that some say it is? Not by a long shot, I would definitely prefer several others but just can’t justify spending the money. It ‘s a level 2 retention holster where a button must be depressed to release the handgun and the tension is adjustable so it meets my need for open carry. It’s minimal protection, but it is protection from someone walking up and pulling your gun out of the holster or it falling out during a struggle.

OldFaithful-Empty2When it comes to inside the waist band (IWB) carry I carry an Old Faithful that I built from a kit. This is a hybrid style holster that has a leather backing against the skin and one side of the gun combined with a Kydex shell on the other side. It makes for a very durable and comfortable holster. There are quite a few of different companies that are making this style of holster these days since it gained so much popularity in the CCW crowd. I’m not sure who started the design but certainly the first one I heard about was the CrossBreed Supertuck however, this is a far more expensive and their lead time is fairly long. So by buying this easy to assemble kit form Old Faithful, I saved a ton of cash and now have an intimate understanding of my gear. Without a doubt I recommend trying the kits on the market.

Now I may have failed to mention this, I carry every holster in the appendix or modified appendix position. So make note of that if you plan to order a similar holster. This particular holster is cut for that positioning and is very comfortable for all day wear with only slight adjustments when sitting or getting in and out of a vehicle. Some people may ask why I carry in this position when so many other positions work well and  are more comfortable. The answer is simple, I don’t want people to see my gun (if it is printing) when I can’t see them. In other words if you know I have a gun, I want to know that you know! Secondly I have much more control over the weapon in this position during a struggle or just in general.  I even carried in this position while on duty as a police officer and kept the duty holster tension screws on my belt loose enough to adjust the location as needed.

Credit: Aegis Armory

Credit: Aegis Armory

The final holster I have for my Beretta is a trigger guard style holster from Aegis Armory. This an absolute minimalist style holster that only covers the trigger so that it isn’t engaged accidentally.  This is my T-shirt, shorts, and flip flop gear. You basically stick it in your waistband and go, another word for this is “Mexican carry” but with this holster there is some retention on the firearm. It comes with a lanyard that you attach to a belt or belt loop. When drawn the holster just pulls away because it is only held on with a small amount of tension. On a smaller weapon this would be a great pocket holster or even a neck holster. This also makes a great “car carry” holster. Wrap the lanyard around your emergency brake handle or whatever you have available and tuck the pistol between the seats.

So there you have it, my gear for my needs and on my budget. Would I love to have several Raven or G-code holsters? Oh yes I would, but I just can’t justify buying the high dollar gear when what I have fits my needs rather well. I’ll upgrade one day but for now I definitely don’t care what others think about my choice of holsters or even my beat up old Beretta. The guy wearing all the latest gear and shooting the H&K SOCOM 45 at the range the other day couldn’t hit the ten ring to save his life. I on the hand tore one big ragged hole with 50 rounds in the target.  Buy what works for you and save the money for ammo and training!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Caliber Considerations for CCW

Beretta 92FS

Beretta 92FS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post comes to you from Dave Windham again. Dave’s knowledge and experience with concealed carry, firearms implementation and associated equipment is a valuable asset.

What’s in your pants???

Did that get your attention? Good, now please read on so that you understand the question.  I’m really exhausted of (primarily men) purchasing the largest caliber gun possible because it’s the manly thing to do while ignoring the basics of firearm handling and simple logic. They ignore the simple fact that despite their manliness, they may not be able to effectively control a large bore handgun. I’ve seen people purchase guns that don’t even fit their hand so that they have a “45” as opposed to any other caliber handgun.

Let me start by saying I don’t advocate or consider mouse guns an option. I don’t even like these mini guns as back up weapons. Personally a .38 +p or .380 is about as small as I feel is an effective caliber in any gun fight and many folks in the industry agree. What I am addressing is 9mm, through 45ACP. Many novice or inexperienced shooters just don’t consider 9mm as being a good round in a gun fight and think that bigger is always better. Let’s look at the evidence, and you make up your mind.

The chart above shows the penetration of the handgun rounds that we are discussing, while the page linked to next shows the expansion of the said rounds upon penetration.  Please note that manufacture and bullet type, weight, etc. do cause dramatic changes in these findings.  Do your own research or study the research of professionals to make your own choice and reach your own conclusions.

As you can see, there isn’t a clear and simple “best round” or “magic bullet”.  With different manufacturers or slightly different bullet styles the results are almost identical from 9mm all the way up to 45 ACP.  With this knowledge there are several other factors that you need to consider.

The first factor is what really happens in a gun fight. A real life gun fight isn’t anywhere close to static marksmanship practice on a range or even competition shooting. Your body goes through all sorts of changes when lead starts flying in your direction. Your heart rate rises, your motor skills are significantly decreased, and your vision is greatly affected.  Now ask yourself, do you want a smaller amount of ammunition and all the recoil you can handle or do you want something easily controlled that you are a very good marksman with?

To get the feeling of what it feels like to be in a critical incident, try this. Run around the block twice in all your gear, fully clothed in the middle of summer, then drop and do 25 push-ups and then 25 sit ups. Now stand, draw your weapon and engage multiple targets at multiple ranges running between cover and concealment points. Make sure you have to reload so that you make a magazine change and experience all aspects of your loss of motor skills. If you can, even induce a feeding malfunction during this drill.

Ok, so now that you know that your 3 inch groups at 10yrds on the range don’t amount to a hill of beans in real life you now have to consider what really ends a gunfight. Almost all accounts of these incidents and personal accounts from police and military personnel, as well as personal experience I know that hydraulic failure is what normally ends the fight. That’s just a nice way of saying the aggressor has bled out and can no longer function.  Do you really think that .12 of an inch in expansionor a fraction of an inch in penetration is going to make a huge difference?  The truth is that it really doesn’t. What’s far more important is shot placement.

In my opinion having a gun that I can make extremely quick follow up shots with, and that carries several more rounds only makes sense. Both I and my wife carry full sized duty style weapons in 9mm. She carries a bone stock M&P Pro with a 4.25in barrel and I carry a slightly customized Beretta 92fs that was once my duty weapon with two police departments. I have 20 rounds on tap while she has 17 rounds at the ready if needed. Now you may ask, is it concealable? The answer is hell yes. It’s all about holster choice and clothing choice. I’ll discuss some of my holsters in a post at a later date.

The point of this is to make you think. Why do you carry what you carry? Is it the best choice or a compromise? Could you be more effective with a different gun? Your life truly depends on your choices for your ccw defensive firearm, so take the time to do some research and make solid decisions.   Happy training and be safe!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Beretta/Stoeger Cougar

Good Day All,cougar

Today I’m going to tell you about a firearm that is near and dear to my heart, the Beretta Cougar my first handgun. This Particular handgun was brought to the market in 1994 and received a slightly less than stellar reception. This can be attributed to two things in my opinion, Beretta‘s famously understated advertising and the Glock craze that was going on at the time and still continues today. Don’t get me wrong, the Glock is a fine firearm, but it is far from the only game in town.

English: This is a picture of the rotating bar...

Beretta Cougar Rotating Barrel Lockup (Credit: Wikipedia)

The Beretta Cougar was brought to market with several different models (F, G, and D) and calibers (9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig and .45ACP). Those of you familiar with Beretta’s more commonly available models the 92/96/M9 the Cougar will have a very familiar form factor and controls. The profile from the operator perspective of the handgun is identical to the 92 making it a very comfortable pistol choice for prior military personnel like myself. The cougar operates on a rotating barrel locking system where the barrel does not tilt up like on most other pistols. The barrel instead rotates to unlock the barrel from the slide when it recoils then extracts the spent cartridge and loads the next into the chamber. This method, in theory, is more accurate than the other more common system that is used in most other handguns. It keeps the barrel on the same plane throughout the entire operation cycle. Personally I’m not aware of any other firearms that use this same system other than the successor to the Cougar, Beretta’s PX4.

The Beretta Cougar holding it's own next to more "modern" handguns in a large round count class.

The Beretta Cougar holding it’s own next to more “modern” handguns in a large round count class.

I purchased the .40S&W model from a fellow police officer friend of mine quite a few years ago who had bought it and never shot it. I have put several thousand rounds through it since, without much issue other than replacing the extractor and extractor spring as they had worn out after a significant period of time where I was shooting hundreds of rounds on a weekly basis. When you shoot a lot, parts tend to wear out. This is true of any firearm even the precious Glock.  This pistol conceals as well as any other large frame semi-auto with the correct holster selection and is as reliable and rugged as its bigger brother the 92FS/96FS/M9. Shortly after returning from my second tour to Iraq I signed up for a class from a local training group. The class was a one day defensive handgun class with a 600 round count for the day. My Beretta was pitted against Glocks, Springfield XD‘s, S&W M&P‘s, and of course the expensive and very awesome Sig. My Beretta did not experience any malfunctions other than the ones we purposely induced for training purposes. I definitely had the most different handgun on the line that day and it performed flawlessly. Later on I wound up using my Cougar as a duty weapon while working a private security job with the NCDOC, I shot a perfect 100 on both day and night qualification and later as a police officer I qualified with it again as an off-duty gun and shot 100 day and night. This pistol in my hands is far more comfortable and accurate than the Glock 23 I was issued as my duty weapon as a police officer.

English: Beretta 8040 Cougar Pistol disassembl...

English: Beretta 8040 Cougar Pistol disassembled to show parts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several things are important to consider with this particular pistol. It is a little lacking in the accessory department. Holsters are available but usually require special order, the choice of sights are a little limited but both Trijicon and Meprolight night-sights are available. Grips are available from Hogue in the aluminum and wood variety and of course you have the option of using the universal grip sleeve from Hogue as well. Another important note is that Beretta is no longer manufacturing this pistol, it is now being made by their subsidiary Stoeger. Stoeger is based out of Turkey and makes mainly shotguns similar to the models already made by Beretta and Benelli. Stoeger does not manufacture the .357Sig model, but I personally don’t really see this as a great loss. The .357Sig cartridge is an expensive and difficult to find round and as far as I’m concerned the merits of it’s ballistics don’t outweigh it’s cost and difficulty to procure. It is also important to note that the .45ACP model is actually a larger pistol than the .40S&W and the 9MM models so holster selection is made a bit more difficult for that particular model. The offering from Beretta did not have an accessory rail available on this pistol. I don’t see this as a shortcoming personally. Adding a light/laser on a handgun makes it bigger and harder to conceal. I carry a Flashlight with me all the time anyway and I have trained using my support hand to use a flashlight in low-light shooting situations. There are Stoeger models that do have an accessory rail on them if that is a necessity for you. The best part about this pistol? you might ask, well it’s very budget friendly. My father and brother both just bought Stoeger Cougars in .40S&W and 9MM respectively. The total bill for both handguns came in at under $900 out the door from a local dealer here in NC, and that is during the current buying frenzy going on. I’ve given you quite a few things to consider here, take the knowledge and run with it. As always stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.

Enhanced by Zemanta

.22 Training

Hey Folks,


Ammunition (Photo credit: simonov)

Ammo prices have gone through the roof. Gun store shelves are bare as can be. This is most likely a sign of many more things to come. Given new state government regulations in New York and several states to come, it is now going to be very difficult to train or even just enjoy a day at the range. I’m sure most of you have considered this and have already or are planning on taking appropriate actions.  Today I am going to outline why a .22 is going to be such an important firearm in your collection for training and survival.

There are many things to consider when training and above all is whether or not your training has any true value. By this I mean that you should be getting true benefit from it. If you are not benefiting and growing with each day of training you put in. Another very important thing to consider is that you can’t reap any benefits from training if you can’t afford to do it. Ammo in major rifle and handgun calibers is so hard to get ahold of that I myself have just stopped trying for now. I’ve built a very modest stock of what I can carry in a “worst case” situation and that’s been about it. Even now .22 ammo is hard to find but when you can find it, it is still cheap and available in bulk packs of 500 or so rounds for what you’d pay for a 20 round box of 5.56/.223. Firearms in .22 are usually more inexpensive than major caliber firearms with a few exceptions and from what I’ve seen are still widely available. This makes a similar “for training use only” firearm to what you already own a little more budget friendly.

I myself do not own a .22 version of my defensive carbine or handgun, but I do own a simple bolt action .22 that my father taught me to shoot on.  Time with that rifle is spent on the range perfecting the basics of marksmanship (Trigger manipulation, breathing, sight picture and sight alignment). With constant work in these areas it is of great benefit to me in both rifle and handgun shooting.  Not flinching is something that I constantly have to work on as well and I’m certain that most of you have this issue as well.

The topic of the .22 as a survival rifle has been covered by so many others and there is a wonderful wealth of knowledge available all over the internet.  I am not a survival expert, that’s not my training background. I am a self proclaimed firearms expert with much to learn still. Here is what I do know. .22 rifles are quiet, light and you can carry hundreds of rounds in a package about the size and weight of one .223 30-round magazine. This affords you a very portable package that can be packed with you virtually anywhere that will allow you to get small game and extend your life span in a survival situation. So the next time you see that old .22 just sitting on the rack at your local gun shop, give it a serious consideration. That very firearm might be the most important purchase you ever make. As for now train, stay safe and have a good ‘un.

Enhanced by Zemanta

RV Travel With Firearms

*I am not a lawyer and none of the information in this post is to be construed to be legal advice.*

Recreational Vehicle

Recreational Vehicle (Photo credit: *Grant*)

Afternoon all,

Late last month, my father and I began a discussion about traveling with firearms. My dad has purchased a small RV and was keen to hear my opinions on carrying a firearm while on the road. This sent me on a trip of my own to do lots of research on the subject.  I rarely travel myself so I had to rely on the experiences of others to formulate an educated answer to my dad.

The first thing I did was look through several forums and blogs that are more dedicated to this particular issue. The one thing that I was able to take from them is that research on your destination’s local and state laws is paramount. First and foremost is the importance of the decision to carry a firearm with you in the first place. Carrying a pistol or rifle come with an inherent responsibility that you owe to every single person, place or thing that you encounter. Your decision to carry could affect the lives of many more than just yourself and travel companions. Once that decision is made, the decision on what to carry comes into play.  The primary question here is; what is your perceived threat? Do you spend a lot of time out in more primitive camping areas? Are predatory animals a concern? Do you tend to just pull up to any ole’ parking lot to take a rest for the night? Truck stops? What kind of lockable storage is available in your rig?  These are important questions to ask yourself and making a list of your answers is helpful.

Once you’ve narrowed down your needs then a selection is to be made. One thing to keep in mind is that RV’s are small cramped quarters. Shouldering a shotgun or long rifle isn’t going to be a practical option inside the RV. My suggestion here is to have a couple options on board. A handgun of course makes excellent sense inside a vehicle, I also suggest the consideration of a pistol caliber carbine that shares an ammunition and magazine commonality with your handgun. The same system applies if you’re more of a wheelgun fan, carbines are available in .38spc/.357mag and .44mag.  Of course you have the option to carry whatever you wish but this pairing in my opinion works well for the traveler. Whether you decide to go the route of a two firearm solution or a single firearm is a very personal decision and budget certainly comes into play here however, there are a few budget friendly options in these categories that offer all the benefits at the price of one “top shelf” handgun.

Gun laws are what will be the most important thing to consider after you’ve decided to carry a firearm in the first place.  Different states and municipalities have different laws and ordinances and when you place yourself with a firearm in that area, your ignorance of these regulations will not be a defense to your prosecution if you are discovered armed. These laws can limit the magazine capacity, length, and size of what weapon you can legally possess. There are a few websites that consolidate applicable laws in an easy to find database. is an outstanding and very well researched example of one of these. Getting yourself a concealed handgun permit/cwp/chl…whatever your state calls it, is a very advisable thing for you to do.  Many states have reciprocity with other states that allow you to freely carry your loaded and concealed handgun into and through that state, without fear of prosecution.  Be advised though, that these reciprocity agreements do tend to change some, so research immediately before your trip to see if anything has changed. There are also many states that are so called “open carry” states. This means that a loaded firearm can be openly carried without breaking any laws. What this means to the RV traveler is that your firearm can be close at hand provided that it is not concealed from view in your rig.

If you still have any questions after your research is done, a phone call or visit to the attorney general’s website for the state you plan to travel to could help to clear up a lot of things. Many places also recognize the fact that when your RV is no longer moving down the highway and is serving as your “home”, the legal definition of your vehicle changes to a dwelling much like a hotel room is recognized as your dwelling when you’re inside.  This is a good question to have in mind while you’re researching laws or if you call to the attorney general’s office. If traveling through more restrictive states, the federal standard for transporting of a firearm is to have it locked in a secure area (locking storage box or safe) and ammunition is to be locked away separately. I myself have no desire to visit places that would require me to give up my right and ability to protect myself and my family. The important thing to take away from this post is that your own research is necessary and so important to keep yourself on the right side of jail walls. The reason for traveling is to see wonderful sites and enjoy your time on the road. Simply ignoring the laws will result badly for you. Make good choices and train with your chosen firearms. That is what will make the difference if you’re ever forced to use them in defense. Enjoy your travels and have fun. As always stay safe, train and have a good un’.

If you’re looking for more information on the RV lifestyle, I urge you to head over to It is a great resource on the in’s and outs of living full time in an RV and has plenty of information for even the casual traveler.

Enhanced by Zemanta

FrogLube CLP a Natural Alternative

Hey Folks,

I used to use this for my Beretta mostly.

Shooter’s Choice Grease. It works very well but it’s expensive for what you get.

Today I’m going to get going on a category that is near and dear to the hearts of all shooters everywhere.  Cleaning and lubricating products. For years I was an uncommitted user of many different products to clean and lubricate my firearms. I’ve used many different options, from the standard CLP (Cleans,Lubricates,Protects) from my military days on up to using automotive greases and some purpose made lubricant greases for firearms. I will say that everything that I’ve used works and works fairly well. I certainly can’t complain about any of the products that  I’ve used because they all work. Each lubricant used is purpose made to lubricate machinery or engines or of course firearms in particular.

Ed's Red made from several different automotive lubricants.  Works well and cheap, but you don't want to breathe it.

Ed’s Red made from several different automotive lubricants. Works well and cheap, but you don’t want to breathe it.

Perhaps one of the cheapest solutions I came across in my research of cleaner/lubricants was a homemade option known simply as “Ed’s Red”. This product is a concoction of several different automotive lubricant products all put together to create a very large amount of homebrew gun oil. I have a supremely large amount of it still sitting in my garage ready for widespread use on lots of guns for a long time. All of these products have a flaw however, if you can really call it that. Everything I’ve used is all petroleum based and toxic (albeit in large amounts) which as I get older and spend more and more time with my 4 month old son isn’t all that desirable. For 8 years I used solvent tanks and copious amounts of Gov’t issue CLP with bare hands and often times I would take my chow break… or more likely at that point in my life, a smoke break without washing my hands to clean off these hazardous chemicals that had been absorbing into my skin for the last couple hours. I never gave this a second thought frankly and I shudder to think about all the chemicals I’ve ingested over the years. Don’t worry though, there is another option.

FrogLube 4oz tub $9.99 from

FrogLube 4oz tub $9.99 from

Today we’re going to go over a fairly new product simply known as FrogLube. This is a CLP product that is made from an all natural and non-toxic compound of plant material.  I initially dismissed this product to be honest. I thought to myself that there is no way this could be as good as my old tried and true methods. I can report today that my initial thoughts were incorrect. I had done some more research on the product and found it to be a very interesting idea and my mind went back to those days sitting on a bench cleaning tons of M-4’s without gloves and the idea of a non-toxic, non-petroleum based product was looking very good. I bit the bullet and ordered a 4oz tub of the paste variety of the FrogLube. I was excited to try this stuff out so since I had just purchased a new firearm I thought that this would be a perfect platform to test this lubricant. FrogLube is a product that requires seasoning of the metal, kinda like a cast iron skillet. You heat up the metal gun parts and apply the FrogLube all over and let it sit for about a half hour to an hour and once cooled you simply wipe it off. When the firearm is shot and warms up, the FrogLube leeches out of the pores in the metal creating a liquid barrier for the friction points. This allows you to run your firearm “dry” or with only a very thin film of lubricant applied to the friction points. The paste variety of the FrogLube will melt its way into all the nooks and crannies of your firearm, making it pretty easy to apply. In my research I found that it is recommended to apply two treatments of this product initially for optimal performance. I broke down my Kel-Tec SU-16C and began the cleaning and treatment process. Using my wife’s hair dryer I heated up the metal parts of the rifle and began to apply the FrogLube. The application process went very quickly and easily as this rifle was brand new and only required minimal cleaning as I went. After the parts cooled I wiped off the excess lubricant and found the parts to have a very slick feeling to them, almost as though they had been well broken in from hundreds of round of shooting. The very next day I treated the rifle with FrogLube a second time and the results were similar to what they were yesterday. There was a very nice slick feeling to the metal parts which as I have discovered is also a water resistant protective coating as well. The next day I took the Kel-Tec to the range to break the rifle in. This particular rifle is noted in the owners manual to require a 200 round break-in session to ensure subsequent reliability. Since treating with the FrogLube the rifle ran flawlessly only having a double feed malfunction, I wasn’t the shooter during that string of fire and can’t comment on that malfunction and after it was cleared there were no more hiccups with the rifle. I got this rifle very hot and after it cooled down and I brought it home I broke it down to clean and it simply wiped clean without scrubbing or excessive effort.

froglubeMy final impressions of this product are that I’m excited about it.  It’s a Non-Toxic U.S. made product from a veteran owned business that has a fantastic wintergreen smell to it.  You can apply it with your bare hands safely (be cautious though since the parts you will apply it to are going to be very hot). Very simply this product works and works well. Since my test at the range the other day I have since treated two of my pistols and my daily carried CRKT M-21 knife. The CRKT is prone to rust from moisture and sweat from wearing close to the skin in my pocket. I haven’t seen any rust on the blade since FrogLube was applied. If this product meets the criteria that you are looking for, I have no reservations recommending it to you for whatever use you can find for it. As for now stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Kel-Tec SU-16C


AR-15 (Photo credit: robscomputer)

Ok folks, today I’m going to get us started off with perhaps one of the most widely adopted weapons platforms in the U.S., the 5.56mm/.223rem semi-automatic sporting rifle/defensive carbine.  When most think of this platform, they immediately jump to the AR-15 series of rifles.  These are a battle proven design that I carried for many years in the U.S. Army and placed my life on the line with on more occasions than I would have liked.  The AR-15 today is one of the most reliable and adaptable platforms known to man.  There are pistol variations and sniper variations and everything in between.  Perhaps the most widely used is the 16″ barrel model which is the shortest legal barrel length for a rifle under the National Firearms Act, that is without paying for a $200 tax stamp and registering it as an SBR (short barreled rifle) but we will get to that another day.

This is a common work around for the “dirty” gas impingement system.

The AR platform is of course not without it’s drawbacks.  First and foremost is that they are generally expensive.  It’s not uncommon to see rifles on the rack at your local dealer with a base price of over $1,000.  Now I don’t know about you but  I don’t really have a grand sitting around that’s really all that disposable for a firearm purchase.  The other problem with the cost is that generally that $1,000 will only get you a base rifle with no bells and whistles that are so popular today. They also work off of a direct impingement gas system which is a fairly dirty way of doing things.  This system uses a tube from the gas block to vent hot gasses and carbon from the barrel back into the upper receiver to push the bolt carrier group back against the buffer and recoil spring.  This causes a buildup of carbon and fouling inside your upper receiver and in your trigger group in the lower receiver as well.  There are short stroke gas piston models that utilize a piston to drive the bolt carrier group instead of the hot gas along which certainly run cleaner.  I myself have zero experience with this particular system as it was not adopted by the U.S. Military and they are cost prohibitive for me to own (take that $1,000 price tag for a base model and jack it way up).  There are also conversion kits to a gas piston system for the AR-15 which seem to be well received.

English: Kel-Tec SU-16C with stock in folded p...

Kel-Tec SU-16C with stock in folded position. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enter the Kel-Tec SU-16C.  At $575(Price paid, MSRP is listed at $770) this 4.7lb firearm is a long stroke gas piston operated carbine with a 16″ threaded barrel.  It accepts the same reliable magazines that feed the AR-15 platform which range in capacity from 5rds on up to 100rds and any muzzle device that the AR platform accepts.  This firearm is constructed of a glass reinforced polymer known as Zytel where possible and steel where necessary to save weight and reduce cost.  It sports a parkerized finish on the steel and the barrel is chrome lined (earlier versions were unlined and newer versions I’m told, will be salt bath nitride treated).  It has an integral picatinny rail on the upper receiver for optics mounting and the fore end converts to a bipod to stabilize longer shots.  The “star” bolt will look familiar to those of you who know the AR platform.  This model also has the underfolder stock that permits the carbine to be fired while folded, and stored very compactly.  The front sight was borrowed from the AR platform as well.  The operating system for this rifle however, is pure AK-47.

Just last week I took my SU-16C to the local range to put it through it’s paces.  Prior to my range time I took the time to fit the carbine with an A2 flash hider.  Ammunition used was 55gr American Eagle Tactical 5.56mm.  The owners manual very clearly states that the carbine requires at least a 200 round break in and that you may experience a few malfunctions during this process.  I experienced none, although in full disclosure my buddy that went to the range with me experienced a double feed during his string of fire.  The double feed was cleared and no other malfunctions were experienced.  Being as my local range is an indoor facility, the range only goes out to 25yds, so that is the distance to which this carbine was zeroed.  Sight adjustment is simple and straight forward.  If you shoot high adjust the front sight post up.  If you’re shooting right, adjust the rear sight to the right.  I was able to get a good zero in 9 rounds.  Kel-Tec includes a tool to adjust the windage, they do not include a tool to adjust the front sight elevation, so I was left to make adjustments with a pick from my OTIS cleaning kit and a Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool.  You can buy a tool to adjust both windage and elevation from Kel-Tec for around $15.  This kinda bothered me though.  If they are going to include a tool to adjust one sight, why not include the ability to adjust all of them?  One issue I experienced was heat.  This carbine does get hot, although so does an AR when you put 200 rounds through it in fairly rapid succession.  If you intend to do a fair amount of shooting I highly suggest a good pair of shooting gloves and judicious hand placement.

My final impressions of this little lightweight carbine are quite favorable.  Accuracy is on par with any AR type rifle I have fired.  This carbine is well suited for outdoor use when you’ve got miles to cover and weight is a concern.  It also makes a pretty outstanding truck/ranch gun.  The durability remains to be truly seen as I’ve only done the initial break-in on this rifle but it’s looking promising.  Just prior to writing this review I did notice upon a teardown and cleaning that just in front of the hammer, it appears as though the hammer had impacted an area of plastic in front of the trigger housing group and has caused some stress to the plastic.  A phone call to Kel-Tec support left me with the answer that this is a common wear point on the SU-16 series of rifles and will not impact the performance of the rifle in any way.  I will however be keeping a keen eye on this and make any updates necessary.  All in all I’m satisfied with this carbine and look forward to using it for years to come.  As for now stay safe, train and, have a good ‘un.

Enhanced by Zemanta