Category Archives: Product Reviews

First Range Report – Savage Model 10 FCP-SR and Primary Arms 4-14 ACSS FFP Illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR-308

Years ago I used to have a very, very accurate Remington 700 Sendero in .300 Win Mag.  I sold it some years ago and replaced it with a Savage 10 with the 4-14 ACSS scope in 7.62 NATO.  While I miss the long range accuracy of that .300 Win, I’ve not been disappointed with the Savage.

Two weeks ago I took it to a square indoor range and put 30 rounds down the tube to see what kind of groups I might expect without making any adjustments to the rifle or glass.  The only ammo I had on had was some Fiocchi 165gr Sierra HPBT Game King, which is a great hunting round.  I’m fond of the 165gr as a general purpose  bullet as it performs very well out to about 700m, and the Game King is designed as a purposeful hollow point.

I was ok with the results; best group, once it was sighted in, was just about an inch at 50m; so 2 inches at 100 is fine for hunting, however, my projected application for the Savage is to distract and disrupt a ‘zombie apocalypse’ against my neighborhood.

As I hadn’t shot this rifle, admittedly, I did things backwards.  All I did to prep it was to patch the barrel and check the optics for solid mounting.  After I shot it and came home, I took it completely apart, cleaned it, and then used a torque driver to tighten the action screws to the recommended inch pound setting from Savage.

I went back to a square outdoor range with 3 different brands of ammunition in two weights:  168 & 175gr – two with Sierra HPBT Matchking projectiles and one set with Berger projectiles.

All shots from the bench, cool to warm barrel, no cleaning between groups, 100 meters, temperature around 80f, partly cloudy, humidity about 75%.

Suffice it to say that the results, with much higher quality ammunition and having the rifle prepped made quite the difference!

This is the result:

Berger Match Grade 308 Winchester Ammo 175 Grain Open Tip Match Tactical 

This was the most accurate (and most expensive) rounds used in my Inherent Accuracy Test, Phase 1.  As you can see, it’s pretty good ammo.  The small squares are 1/4 inch X 1/4 inch, and this is a really good just under or at 1/2 inch group.  The Berger rounds use the best of everything, to include Lapua brass, match projectiles, special power blends, and match primers.  It shows.  But they’re spendy.  Between $1.30 and $1.50 a round, depending on where you get them, and that doesn’t include shipping!  Add another .40 to .60 a round after shipping.  Sometimes you can get free shipping if you buy lots of 200 rounds.  That may come later for me if I choose these as my primary, but even so, they’re expensive!  That’s about $30 a box or more.

Next up is Federal Gold Medal 308 Winchester 175gr Sierra HPBT Match King.  This group was just over a half inch but under 3/4’s of an inch.  The price point difference between this and the Berger is significant, at about $7 a box cheaper than the Berger.  The Federal rounds are also top quality, with the same Sierra bullet, ‘virgin’ brass (so described by Federal) proprietary powder mix, and really consistent primers.

The Federal is less expensive by quite a bit, ranging from .92 to $1.70 per round (this price had a free shipping note so long as you purchase 200 rounds).  The range is a lot wider, but at the least expensive end, adding shipping to the cost makes it about $1.50 or so a round, or $25 a box, and with the eye of a coupon shopper, you can probably get these for less than $20 a box, shipped.

Last, but certainly not least, as the ammo is MOA capable, is Fiocchi’s submission to the 175gr match market.  Titled, ‘Fiocchi Exacta Rifle Match,’ it’s performance was acceptable, though a bit disappointment as it is about the same price as the Federal, which performed clearly better in this test.

I have some IMI 175gr BTHP SMK OTM Razor Core Match coming, so this portion of the test won’t be complete until that gets expended.

After the 175gr performance comparison is complete, I’m going to do 168 gr as well, same brands (except Berger, as they don’t make 168’s), same conditions as much as possible.  I’m including the 168’s as potential ‘go to’ ammo as I was weaned on them back in the day, and I wouldn’t fee right not giving them a chance.

Stay tuned.

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Product Review: Nikwax Cotton Proof

Updated at AP on 15 June 18.

I’ve used this product in all seasons, hot, wet, and cold.  Still have enough left in the large container to either re-impregnate the items below or to put in a few other things.

  • Survival Smock
  • M-65 Field Jacket
  • 2 Pr BDU pants
  • 2 Winter Camouflage Over Jackets
  • 1 Pr Winter Camouflage Over pants

So far, everything has held out beautifully when it comes to repelling water/snow.  In the rain, it takes a very heavy downpour for the material to start taking on any water (the NYCO mix is what weakens the waterproofing property because it’s for 100% cotton…).  When it comes to snow, when body heat starts melting the snow, it flicks off as small water droplets leaving the material dry.  All in all, staying drier keeps me warmer longer.  This is a great product!

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Originally published on 11 April 2017.

In the quest for staying dry as long as possible in cold, wet weather, while looking for a Goretex rejuvenator, I happened upon a product by Nikwax, called, “Cotton Proof.”  Now, truth be told, I’m always skeptical of the ‘magic pill’ offered by various companies, but, as I wear a lot of Nyco things, to include field jackets and smocks, I figured, ‘what the hell, it might just be worth trying out.’  After all, cotton is known as ‘the cloth of death’ in anything but warm weather, once it gets wet.

Here’s their video on the product:

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So, I go ahead and watch the video and decide to order it and give it a shot.  I bought mine on Amazon.

Once it arrived, I read the directions and followed them explicitly.  One thing many don’t do is to remove all soap residue from their washing machine prior to treating their items.  The instructions will tell you explicitly to do just that.  So, that’s what I did by running three ‘heavy load’ cycles with only hot/warm water and two ounces white vinegar in each cycle.

Once the machine was clean, I washed the items I was going to experiment with in ‘Sport Wash’ twice, as I noticed residue in the first rinse from previous washings.  I’ve got some Nikwax Tech Wash on the way for next time, but hey, this was an experiment.

The directions will tell you that you don’t need to dry the items once pre-washed, and that’s true.  For 3 to 4 medium & large mixed items, you need to put 7 ounces (I estimated between 3/4 of a cup and a full cup, so I could have been a smidge off) in the washer after it’s completely full.  So, place the items in the washer, start the fill,, and once all items are submerged and completely under the surface, put the Cotton Proof in.  Once you do that, you run the ‘heavy’ cycle as normal, to include the rinse and spin cycles.

When it’s done, put them in the dryer with no softeners on delicate/low.  I put the timer on max, for 60 minutes; everything was dry in about 40.

After everything cooled, the first thing I did was take an item over to the mud sink faucet and turn on the water, letting it pour on the material.

The water bounced off for about 45 seconds with a steady stream hitting the material at a perpendicular angle before the tiniest wet spot was visible!  So, I shut the water off, shook off the item, and it was completely dry again in about 90 seconds or less.  Not bad for a 50/50 Nyco item!  From what their instructions/adds/videos say, it works better on 100% cotton, but will suffice with nylon blends.  Man does it!

So, I give this product 5 stars for those who like to walk around in the bush or rain or whatever and want to stay dry as long as possible.  I’m actually looking forward to a ruck walk in the rain in the next week for a minimum of 5 miles to see how it performs.

Comparision / Contrast: Old v New AR Platforms – Pt 2

Posted at AP on 11 Oct 18.

Before we get into this installment, I freely acknowledge that there are as many people out there who simply loathe the M16/AR15/M4/M4gery platform and would rather throw rocks at an enemy than use one, as recently evidenced by comments not making the cut here (I don’t do vitriol) or seen at other sites posting the first installment of the series.

There are also those who really, ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ about continuous product improvement, and honestly don’t care to compare/contrast older versions with newer versions of anything, and operate on what is known as, “The Law of Primacy,” which basically means, “first learned, longest remembered, revered, trusted, etc (put in your own descriptor..)  I actually was in this category for 20 years after retiring from active duty, so much so that I moved to the 7.62NATO round in a M14 type rifle and didn’t consider an AR until about 6 or 7 years ago.  Of course, a lot has changed for the better since even then.

 

 

So, if you’re one of those who reacts in an unhealthy way at the mention of ‘AR’, don’t bother reading on, as all this will most likely do is raise your BP, your ire, and possibly cause you to violate our comment standards when/if you comment.

For the rest of the readership, as you saw in Part 1, the M-16 and its civilian cousin, the AR15 (exception to the designation was the fully automatic USAF AR15) started out with a whimper instead of a bang.  It took some time for Colt to clear up the problems being faced on the battle field due to poor powder replacements in the round, no cleaning equipment, no solvents, and extreme malfunctions solely due to those reasons.

However, once Colt got on the ball, the problems were fixed and the rifle and carbine kept being put through Continuous Product Improvement evolutions to became the most loved/hated platform in the US.  I was weaned on the USAF AR15 slab side (my first issue rifle had the 3 prong flash suppressor on it).  We had no forward assist available, but the thing was, we didn’t need it.  Colt had fixed the issue, so we were fine with what we were given, not that we actually knew what had been improved (E-2’s and 3’s aren’t the most informed people in the military….just sayin’), we just knew it fired when we pulled the trigger and hit what we were aiming at to the maximum range we were allowed to shoot (usually 200 meters or less, most often 100 meters).  Most of us, including me, hated it though, because we were trained by men who’d used the first generation in Vietnam that had problems.  We all lusted for the M-14, which we would NEVER see as a general issue rifle.

My personal dislike for the AR carried over throughout my career, even though I used another variant or two, specifically, the GAU-5A and the ‘Colt Commando.’  Those were, at least, more maneuverable and as we were always getting in and out of vehicles (trucks, jeeps, cars (armored and standard), a lot easier to use and control, especially if you were a dog handler (like I was for 3 years) or were working a support weapons crew, such as the 81mm Mortar (also like I was for 5 years).  Great also for vehicle patrols and other tasks.  The pic below also shows how we adapted the slings in order to carry in more of a ready position.  We taped our unused sling swivels, though….noise and all that.

When I retired from active service, I decided to go with .30 caliber weapons for my personal use and for competition.  So, in a short time, I had an ’03A3, a nice Garand, and a really nice pre-ban Springfield M1A (later sold and replaced with a Fulton Armory refurbed Norinco with all TRW parts except for the receiver).  Used them for 20 years.  Below photo of yours truly with his Fulton Armory reworked Norinco.

Then, age started to catch up to me, and I knew my days of running around with a 10 pound rifle and 13 magazines of 7.62NATO were numbered.  So, all the .30’s eventually got sold, and I listened to some folks talk about how much more improved the AR was.  I was hearing things about 600 meter capabilities, super-stiff barrels in 16, 18 & 20 inch lengths, double-chrome lining, Nickel Boron coated BCG’s, and some superb triggers.

Usually, what sounds to good to be true actually is too good to be true.

In this case, the upgrades and improvements were, in fact, true, and the AR’s I own now run circles around what I was issued, and, in the case of the Colt SP-1 still out there for sale for collectors when they can find one.  I like the SP-1 for nostalgia’s sake; the one I’ve fired hits where it should hit, but it is limited by the barrel twist, the sights, bullet weight, and issue trigger.  But it is the closest thing to what I used during my first couple tours on active duty, save for the lack of select fire.  In comparison, the AR below is an earlier iteration I had for a couple years; bought it right before the first panic in ’09 for about $1300 and watched it go up in value to over $3,000 almost over night.  I decided to go with the ‘Canadian’ influence of a retractable stock but a full length 20 inch barrel.  I wanted to squeeze the most performance possible out of the 5.56NATO round.  It had a Nickel Boron upper, NiB BCG and bolt, 20 in chrome lined FN barrel in a 1:8 twist (it ate everything pretty well), Gisele trigger, Magpul everything, Vortex flash suppressor, fold down BUIS, and an ACOG.  I regret selling that one.  That particular rifle is shown in the feature image at the top of this post.

What’s available for purchase now?  Almost endless accouterments as well as configurations.  I’ll list just a few of the improvements.  Yes, some of them are expensive, but I figure you get what you pay for, and I know my AR’s are pretty much bomb proof.  They also fall into the definition of ‘practical combat carbine.’  Also available is the very popular AR ‘pistol.’  They’re kinda neat for carry in a car, so long as you have a CPL.  Most states won’t allow a rifle to be carried loaded in your vehicle, but, and AR pistol may be, so long as you have your CPL.  Laws vary, so check out your own state’s requirements.

Here’s some of the upgrades available that I’ve chosen for my latest iteration, one that I’ve had for about 3 years:

  • FN manufactured, double chrome lined barrel.  Very stiff; basically a cut down machine gun barrel.  Able to stay very rigid during long firing periods (equates to a smaller cone of fire).
  • Barrel Twist – 1:7 takes the 62gr, both OTM and M855.  Personally, I’d prefer a 1:8, as it’ll eat everything ranging from 55gr to 77 gr, but I’m not quite ready to re-barrel my ‘go to.’
  • Vortex Flash Suppressor – Nothing says ‘no flash signature’ like a Vortex.  You can still see flash signature with the ‘Bird Cage,’ let alone the 3 prong.
  • Folding BUIS w/chevron sight post to replace the standard – Great for snap shooting and back up should my optics go Tango Uniform.
  • Battery Assist Device (BAD) by MagPul – HUGE debate out there in ‘subject matter expert’ land as to what one might do if they train with a BAD and have to use a ‘battlefield pick up.’  I am not in that camp.  I’ve been using the AR system long enough that if a BAD isn’t there, it’ll take about 3 nano-seconds to revert back to activating the standard bolt release.
  • Nickel Boron Bolt and Bolt Carrier Group – Carbon doesn’t adhere nearly as bad as it does on the standard issue or chrome BCG or bolts.
  • Bravo Company Bolt Upgrades – Rubber donuts, stronger ejector springs, and superb gas rings that last longer.
  • Better ergonomics on the pistol grip, adjustable stock, and fore-grip.
  • 200 lumen mounted light on foregrip; safety bail operated.
  • Geissele trigger.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Vortex Strike Eagle variable scope.  Not top line, but is superb and takes enough of a beating to make it balance out on the ROI scale.
  • American Defense Industries quick release scope base – If the vortex goes ‘kaput,’ I can remove it with a flip of the levers and employ my back up iron sights that are pre-zeroed.
  • Heavier buffer/stronger buffer spring – It’s for the carbine, of course, but it does help keep things non-maniacal during follow up shots.
  • Magazines – Mix between MagPul window and stainless steel magazines.  I like both; both take rattle can camo very well.  The MagPuls are thicker at the base, and therefore don’t fit as well into USGI type double mag bandoleers (which I like for ‘extra comfort’).

All in all, the newest iteration I own, and the ones available from quality manufacturers have long outdistanced what was originally issued and available to the civilian market.

Are there better platforms out there?  Sure, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more versatile platform with as many different configurations, optics, furniture, ammo choices, not to mention cost reductions and availability.  Nicely appointed AR’s are going for $500, sometimes less, and the quality isn’t half bad.

Well, that about does it.  Hope you enjoyed the series.

Comparision / Contrast: Old v New AR Platforms – Pt 1

Posted at AP on 2 Oct 18.

“Ch-ch-ch-changes…..Time May Change Me, but I can’t Change Time…”

Interesting start to a new post, huh?  Kinda sorta ‘Bowie-like’ but different….as you can see by the featured photo, this is going to be a comparison contrast with some history thrown in regarding the quintessential American, ‘Go-To’ rifle, the AR-15.

Let’s start out with a little known trivia fact:  Which US military branch had a fully automatic version of the M16 actually designated as the AR-15?

Drum roll:  The US Air Force. The USAF chose Colt’s Model 604 and had it designated the AR-15.  Same thing as the M16 feature image above (not A1), complete with select fire capability but with all the wonderful improvements (to that time) that Colt had made to ensure reliability in combat conditions.

Colt Model 604 was the AR-15/M-16 model developed primarily for the US Air Force. It differed from the XM16E1 and M16A1 in that it did not have the forward assist feature. The “early” models were built with a Partial Fence Lower and 3-Prong Flashhider, and the “late” models were built with Full Fence Lowers and A1 Birdcage Flashhiders.

From what the records indicate, once powder issue had been resolved and fouling was no longer a killer in the field, and the buffer spring had been strengthened, the forward assist was no longer necessary.  We always thought we were being short changed with the AR-15 version, but in all the time I was in the field in swampy, wet, winter, and dry conditions, never once did my issued AR-15 fail to go into battery when firing, so apparently, Colt did fix things.  They even got rid of the three prong flash suppressor that could, but didn’t normally, get caught on local vegetation.  More often it was used to pop open ‘C Rats’ or ammo cases (the violator getting caught became miserable for a few weeks), and then, ‘poof,’ all our rifles were either retrofitted with ‘jungle tips’ (original reference by USAF Security Forces in the 70’s) properly known as ‘bird cage’ flash suppressors or returned to Depot after new ones had arrived.

    USAF Air Base Ground Defense troop with a M16

Then there’s the ‘forward assist’.  The originals on the M16A1 actually fit the thumb as opposed to the ‘push button’ type seen today.  And, it was necessary, from both a physical point of view (the buffer springs weren’t quite strong enough to deal with the crap encountered in the bush) and there was a more important psychological perspective to deal with:  way too many GI’s were afraid of having to break down their rifle because it wouldn’t go into battery during a fire fight.  Even with the problem fixed, the ‘A1’ was a good idea if only for confidence and a ‘make sure’ tool.  So now, everyone who’s anyone won’t buy a M-forgery or full length rifle without a forward assist.  Every single upper I’ve purchased has one ‘De Rigueur.’  You simply cannot find an AR lower without one (which is kind of ironic, in that buffer springs now are available that when compared to the older ones are on steroids!)  At least I haven’t been able to do so.  Basically, it’s an unnecessary feature that will never be used in earnest, which is to ensure that a gunky, muddy, debris encumbered bolt carrier group will seat so the weapon may fire.  All one needs for this rifle to be reliable is a good, strong buffer spring, and routine cleaning, and it won’t fail.  Maybe your mileage has varried/will vary, but I’m pretty confident in what my AR’s have that makes the Forward Assist obsolete.  Colt had fixed that , too, in the USAF’s AR15, and that’s why the USAF didn’t see them for quite a long time (from what I understand, current issue has them – most likely an economy of scale thing….cheaper to make them with them, than make a separate run without them).

Ok…on to basic history:

Military problems with the AR (M-series) in Vietnam:

  • Original powder used to achieve 3K feet per second velocity produced excessive (and I mean excessive) fouling that caused the rifle to jam very quickly (propellants used in today’s 5.56NATO doesn’t foul the chamber or barrel nearly at all).
  • Fouling led to ‘failure to extract’ spent casings, and that got a lot of people hurt/killed.
  • Barrel and chamber were chromoly, not chrome-lined, and were subject to rust/corrosion if not cleaned often.
  • Cleaning kits were in short supply.  REALLY short supply.  Rifles were supposed to be delivered with them, but Colt and the Army got caught short. Troops wrote home begging for .22 cleaning kits from their families.
  • Colt originally claimed the rifle was ‘self-cleaning,’ (which is why they didn’t worry about the cleaning kits) which obviously was not the case.

By 1967, the M16A1 was issued.  Improvements included:

  • Chrome Lined chamber & barrel:  One of the best things they EVER did.  To this day, until Nitride barrels, a good AR has had a single or double chrome lining for increased barrel life and reduced corrosion and failure to extract (dirty chambers can still cause an occasional problem if ignored, so it’s a good idea when cleaning to clean the chamber and not just the bore).
  • Lubricants – LSA, that wonderful, white, gooey lubricant also known as a something to do with elephants that is not mentioned in polite company.  This is where we all learned it ran better when wet.
  • Cleaning Solvents – Worked like a charm (with a lot of scrubbing – nothing like the wonder solvents of today) compared to letting it clean itself.
  • Cleaning Kits & Training in how to clean the weapon:  Go figure.  Who knew?
  • Charging Handle changed out from the ‘triangle,’ which was hard to grip and pull with wet hands, to the more user-friendly version seen today as ‘standard issue.’

The powder wasn’t changed, though, until 1970, to one that was much less prone to foul the weapon to the point of despair.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I was asked on the range one day not long ago if I was using the civilian version of what I used on active duty.  My answer was something along the lines of:  “Not hardly.  This thing is a ‘space gun’ compared to what we had.”  And it’s true.  There have been so many improvements to the basic AR platform that comparison can be likened to a World War II Thunderbolt compared to a F-16 fighter.

When one compares even the improved version of the civilian model, the Colt SP-1 (the one I owned for a short time was made in 1976), is almost prehistoric compared to my 16″, Nitiride 1:8 twist, NiB Bolt & BCG, flat top, 6 position Magpul stock, Gisele trigger, Primary Amrs optic mounted, 62gr shooting, MOA capable/performing (depending on the ammo…) carbine.  Not. The. Same. Animal.

I like the SP-1 a lot, generally for nostalgia, and if I find another example reasonably priced, will buy it again.  It shoots well, and is a great collector’s piece as most are still in great shape and made by “Colt Patented Firearms”, while sporting the ‘prancing pony’ logo.  If there wasn’t anything else for me to grab, I’d take one and have confidence in its performance within its limitations.  On the other hand, if I have my ‘druthers on grabbing something for a problem, I’m reaching for my modern carbine that has every possible improvement to the platform in the way of reliability, accuracy, and durability.  No question.

Next installment:  Comparison of the current practical combat carbine.

 

 

The Foxfire Series – An Introduction

Posted at AP on 8 June 18.

While many in the prepper world have heard of this amazing book series, many times more folks have not!  In fact, I’d venture that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are concerned about possible hard times on the horizon who haven’t heard about this treasure trove of information!  This post is offered in that light – to raise awareness of what treasure of knowledge can be obtained for small cost in dollars.

These wonderful books contain priceless information that anyone, of any age, anywhere, can use to increase their knowledge of, ‘the old ways’ for that will see them through harsh times, off-grid living, or learning and teaching the ‘old’ traditions.

The book began as an English class project published in a magazine, and eventually morphed into a series of encyclopedic paper bound ‘manuals’ with it’s own website and organization, which, if you have a mind, you can become a member.  Foxfire’s mission is to preserve the traditions and practices of Southern Appalachia, however virtually all the information can be adapted to anywhere in the world, as the practices are time tested and proven and will work anywhere.

The history below is taken directly from the foxfire website:

“In 1966, a new teacher at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School was struggling to engage students in his high school English class. In frustration, he asked them what they thought would make the curriculum interesting. They decided to create a magazine, honing their writing skills on stories gathered from their families and neighbors, and producing articles about the pioneer era of southern Appalachia as well as living traditions still thriving in the region.

They called it “Foxfire” after the glowing fungus that clings to rotted wood in the local hills. This spark of an idea, and the work that followed, has turned into a phenomenon of education and living history, teaching readers, writers, visitors, and students how our past contributes to who we are and what we can become – how the past illuminates our present and inspires imagination.”

The good news is that for those who bargain hunt, older copies can be found for almost the original price (about $4 per volume) at flea markets, old book stores, and, of course, on line auction sites, such as ebay.   The older the copy and the better shape it’s in, the price will be higher of course.  You can also go to on-line sellers such as Amazon and buy single copies, partial sets, and the entire set if you prefer.  It’s all there for you.   I started with the single book, and after reading a few chapters, quickly went out hunting the other volumes!  My first is an original 1972 copy in ‘like new’ shape (at least it was when I bought it – now it’s well-read and a bit worn).

The first volume covers many subjects.  This is from the front overleaf, but is also on the cover as the image at the top of the post shows:  “The Foxfire Book – Hog dressing; log cabin building; mountain crafts and foods; planting by the signs; snake lore; hunting tales; faith healing; moon shining; and other affairs of plain living.”

The books are not dry, either.  They’re written exactly as the words were spoken and/or written by the people being interviewed, and keep your attention, and transport your mind into their world.  Plain speaking; they tell you why and wherefore with no pretense:  “this is the way I was raised up.”

Get the first volume, “The Foxfire Book,” and judge from there.  As you increase your interest, and decide to buy the second, third, and subsequent volumes, consider passing the ones you’ve read to someone who is of like mind….but you’ll want to make sure they return it and get their own!

 

Winchester 670 Range Performance

Posted at AP on 31 Oct 18.

In part 1, here, I described the Winchester 670 and a little bit of its history along with some of the unique features I found:

  • Completely unbedded action.
  • Original ‘Tip Off’ scope ring mounts.
  • A 3X9 X 40 once inch ‘tee vee’ screen scope.
  • Factory iron sights.
  • 19 inch carbine barrel.
  • Exceptional trigger (for an ‘economy’ rifle).

On the weekend of 26 October 2018, I took it to my KDR (Known Distance Range) to check out it’s accuracy potential on a bench.  I took two different brands of ammo with me that had some common characteristics (besides being .30-06).  Both had a 165gr Sierra HPBT Game King mounted on very nicely polished brass.  Brands:  Omega Ammo (now apparently out of business – their link loads with ‘we’re down for maintenance’ and has been doing that since February 19) & Fiocchi; and both loaded to, or close to, match specs.  Temps were in the mid 40’s and it was raining most of the time I was there.  So, it was good weather to check how it’d perform during a hunt.

Generally, the Omega had better (tighter) groups and the Fiocchi was a bit hotter, as it’s point of impact with the same aiming point was about 2 inches higher than the Omega.  I was pretty pleased with both brands, but the Omega edged out the Fiocchi.  You used to be able to find out more about Omega ammo, here, if you wish.

The next image is of the iron sight check out at 25 AFTER the scope was sighted in.  I did this so that when I went to 100 yards, the scope would have been taken off its original zero, and would be prone, if the mounts/rings weren’t solid, of having a different point of impact.

To continue, the upper holes outside of the ‘X’ indicate what I did to bring it center and down on the ‘X’.  The very tight group in the ‘X’ is how it fired at 25 yards with semi-quickly bolted rounds, simulating rapid fire on say, a bear, or something, coming at the shooter.

Now, remembering that this target was shot at 25 yards, I was still pretty happy.  I don’t have the eyesight anymore to shoot iron accurately beyond that, so that’s where it’ll stay for anytime I need to flip the scope out of the way.  And, yes, the scope was tipped off to the left, and re-secured before I went to 100 yards.

Stealing my own thunder, I was amazed at how it kept its zero at 100 after being tipped over.  Very solid mounts, and great performance from a scope that’s about as old as the rifle.

The first target is two groups of 3.  You might find the points of impact as interesting as I did.  The second target with blue lines indicating the group was the first 3 rounds; the second target with the yellow lines was the second string of 3 rounds.

The red dot is about 1 1/4 inches or so in diameter, so all in all, I find this rifle to be a keeper.  One thing I always look for to confirm inherent accuracy potential is the ‘triangle’ shaped group.  It means the barrel harmonics are consistent with the cone of fire; the closer the group, the more consistent the harmonics.  For an economy rifle, this one has superb harmonics, especially when taking into account the lack of bedding and stock features.

All in all, I fired 40 rounds of both Omega and Fiocchi through this neat little rifle.  Its performance, with no custom work on it at all, convinced me that back in the ’60’s, even an economy rifle could perform to match levels.

This one made the trip last November and didn’t need to be used, but it was ready…

Your Rifle and You – Squeezing the Best Performance from Your ‘Go To’

Disclaimer:  This is not a post about building a ‘sniper’ rifle.  There are a myriad of articles and posts out there on turning your economy poodle shooter into a super accurate ‘sniper’ rifles or, at the very least, long range super accurate SAR’s (Surgical Asshole Remover).   Why?  I’d be willing to bet that 99.99% or more of the readership here and elsewhere are not, ‘snipers.’  Anything offered here that a trained, qualified, and certified ‘sniper’ would read wouldn’t be anything more than basic information.

So, this post is about squeezing the most accuracy from your chosen platform and what, in fact, determines a rifle’s ‘inherent’ (as in already present the rifle based on how it was built and the quality of the parts from the original build) accuracy.  It’s also not how to do it on the cheap, either.  Bottom line is that you get what you pay for in all endeavors in life, 99.99% of the time, and the more quality you can afford, the more you’re lessening the chances that your rifle will take a dump at a most inopportune moment.  Notice that I wrote, ‘lessening the chances’ and not, ‘removing the chances.’  Remember that anything man-made will break over time and use, and that quality is the key to lowering the odds of when and where.

Ok, on to how to get better performance from your rifle.  The foundation of rifle performance is contained in one word:  Consistency.   The more consistent performance, the more accurate the rifle.  This foundation is comprised of three elements, like a three legged stool.  Take one away, and the stool falls over.  All three have to be there for the stool to stand.  They are:  The platform itself, the shooter, and the ammunition used.  If anyone of the three are not consistently (shot after shot) performing to their potential, accuracy is going to suffer.

Let’s knock out the ammunition first.  Crap ammo makes for crap accuracy.  Sure, in a SHTF situation, “any chair in a bar fight.”  Ammo is ammo, and the worst ammo in the world beats no ammo.   Right now we’re looking at squeezing the most accuracy out of your chosen rifle.  There are two ways to do that with the ammo:  First, buy nothing but match or super match grade ammo.  Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s very consistent.  The other way is to hand load your rounds.  This is also expensive at first, and must be learned.  Single stage presses are the way to go for hand loading extremely accurate ammunition.  Progressive presses don’t have the capability to accurately measure each step of the loading process, such as primer seating depth, bullet seating depth, or powder throws.  The ‘sweet spot’ load for each rifle is going to be different depending on the case (and the preparations performed on the brass prior to loading), the primer, propellant, and projectiles used.  Further, the bullets must all be seated consistently to get to the level of similar performance down range.  That means micrometer bullet seaters.  More money, but worth it if your goal is maximum down range accuracy.

Next up is the shooter.  If the shooter isn’t taught or if taught, doesn’t train on the basic fundamentals of shooting in trigger depression, natural point of aim, wind reading, distance come ups, and follow through, no amount of money spent on ammunition is going to make a difference at longer ranges.  It takes discipline and time to achieve the discipline that leads to consistent habits when one gets behind the sights of a rifle position not withstanding.  If follows, then, that if you are trying to squeeze out every drop of potential accuracy at longer ranges, you must practice dry fire a lot.  Further, when performing your dry fire, you must aim at achieving flawless dry fire to apply during live fire.  Old saying:  Perfect practice makes perfect.  Shooting is a perishable skill.  If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Lastly is the platform.  First things first on caliber:  For this subject/post, it really doesn’t matter.  All calibers have their advantages and disadvantages and limitations.  In the hands of a shooter who knows what he’s about (has been trained in deliberate, accurate, deadly shooting), has quality ammunition and a quality platform, whatever caliber is being employed will work for the projected down range result.

So let’s get to what needs to be present in the platform in order to squeeze out the most accuracy possible.

 

                              This example is a 1:7 twist. The 1:8 is identical except for the twist rate.

First, the barrel in optimum length for the performance of the caliber.  For some platforms, this can be as little as 16 inches; for some, as long as 26 inches.  Coupled with barrel length is the twist rate of the rifling.  For example, my ‘go to’ AR has a 1/8 twist rate to provide the best stabilization for the ammunition I use.  It’s also a versatile enough twist rate that I can go up or down on the bullet weight and still achieve acceptable performance at various ranges within the limitations of the round itself.  Finish also has a bit to do with it.  Chrome lining has come a long way, (my wife’s AR has a double chromed lined FN MG barrel and is very accurate) but there are also improvements such as Melonite, Nitride, and other barrel finishes that increase barrel life and accuracy while reducing barrel damage from the elements or infrequent cleaning like chromoly barrels are subjected to during their life.  Bottom line:  Get the best barrel you can afford – look for sales.  I was able to get a 1/8 twist 16 inch barrel mid length Nitride finished barrel assembly for $134.99 ($152 shipped) from Palmetto State Armory.  They’re still on sale if you’re so inclined – down from $169.99 before tax/shipping.  It was a very good deal!

Barrel Mounting – On any platform, you’re going to need to ensure the barrel is mounted properly (trued) to the receiver (aka ‘action’) so that when checking the head-space for the bolt, there is no error.Bolt runs and inner receiver – should be gently (very gently) polished to reduce bolt lug, bolt body, or gas key friction during the bolt’s travels during extracting, ejecting, and stripping a new round to load into the chamber.  Suggest jeweler’s rouge or JB’s Bore Bright polishing.  Remember, gentle action is what the doctor ordered.  You can always polish more, but once material is removed, you can’t put it back.  On chromoly barrels, I use the JB’s to condition the barrel when new to remove any factory residue from the manufacturing process, burrs, and other imperfections.  It does make a difference!

 

               AR Feed Ramps

 

                           M1A Feed Ramps

Feed ramps – Polished as described above.

And now, the trigger.  You can spend a lot of money on a really good trigger; it all depends on what you’re after.  Me?  I like the Geissele Super Dynamic strain of triggers as shown below, but there are other really good triggers out there that don’t cost as much – again, it’s all about what you’re after.  Some don’t like the flat trigger, but for me, it makes consistent trigger depression straight to the rear of the trigger well pretty much a given.

                                 Geissle Flat SDE

Lastly are the sights.  You can spend a lot of money on optics or irons, your choice.  I’ve owned ACOGS, Leupolds, Vortex, Primary Arms, Aimpoint, and a few really cheap ones.  Right now I’m pretty much settled on, depending on the purpose of the rifle, as all of the above except ACOG.  the eye relief is too short for my comfort.  If you choose to go with optics, remember that the scope base and rings are just as important, even more so, than the choice of scope.  If you go with iron sights, and they’re going to be your primary sighting system, make sure they are designed and constructed for the use you’re preparing for.  Match sights, such as diopters are really that adaptable to SHTF or survival roles.  Then again, if that’s all you got, “any chair in a bar fight.”  Bottom line is that you want to always buy the best you can afford for the capability your’e after.

And that is pretty much it.  Follow the road map above, and you’ll wring out the best accuracy possible from your chosen platform, caliber notwithstanding.

 

Survival Artillery Update: The Desert Eagle .44 Mag & .50AE on the Range

Posted at AP on 13 March 19.

As you may have read on an earlier post, I recently came into a DE .50AE and ordered a .44 mag barrel for it as I am looking to retire (sell – interested parties may drop me a note at defensivetraininggroup@outlook.com) my 629 in the original post as I like the magazine fed DE better than the wheel gun SW 629.  Habit and all.  I still have my favored SW 686, and 66, and a Colt Lawman III, but I like pistols better.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the 629 is a sweet piece, very accurate, and a joy to shoot.  It is, however, to me, a PITA to clean, especially around the face of the cylinder, the inside strap, the forcing cone area, and so forth, the carbon so it looks good (ie, ‘new’).  I am OCD about carbon on a stainless side arm, just sayin’. The DEAGLE is much more forgiving when cleaning, and is very simple to get clean all the way down to detailed disassembly.  For whatever reason, carbon easily comes off standard finishes such as the Israeli DE I own.

On to the range test.  The week before, the new .44 mag barrel arrived, as did the extra magazines I ordered for each caliber (looking pays off as I averaged $38 per mag shipped (both calibers) – which is good for IMI factory mags), so did my new case (I had decided to build a case with both barrels, 4 mags of each, and at least 40 rounds of each caliber for travelling purposes.  Here’s the case:

Didn’t want to pay for a Pelican, and this one, by Plano, serves nicely.  Pretty rugged, and can secured completely for air travel.  I like it so far.  The only nit to pick is the top layer of foam is way too thick.  After I cut the outlines for everything I wanted, the DE had about an inch and a half of foam above it, so it can be jarred.  Don’t like that, so I’ll get myself a couple of thinner layers that hold it where I want.

During dry fire familiarization, I noted the trigger is very nice; no creep and breaks clean.  The standard iron sights are very well centered with no adjustment necessary, but they’re black, so only good for illuminated scenarios (note to self:  gotta get some tritium sights! – Update:  Done.  Gotta get them installed!)

Range Day:  Got everything together and headed out.

Disclosure:  Until the .50AE, I had never fired any side arm larger than .44 magnum before, so I was mildly anxious as to what may occur when I touched off the first round.  I did some research and everything I read said the same thing:  “recoil is significant as is the fireball….” Great, I thought to myself; how’s this gonna look when I fire the first round, put it back in the case and go home???  (I had fired a Desert Eagle in .41 magnum in ’94, but only about 20 rounds, and only once.)

Well, time to cowboy up and put all that away, so….break it out!  I had purchased some .50AE ammo from Steinel; 335 gr flat-nosed FMJ.  Reasonably priced at a dollar per round.   Not ‘nicely’ priced (‘nicely’ to me is a 50% off sale, and then I buy a bunch!); but reasonably priced.  And it should go without saying that at that price, going to the range and popping off more than 20 rounds at a time will be extremely unusual.  Of course, other ammo manufacturers charge way more, so I’m not bitching; just being tight in the wallet (the Steinel 355gr pictured below is no longer made, but they have made a new 300gr JHP with Gold Dot projectiles).

The first 10 rounds of .50AE all hit the target at 25 meters, but the jerk behind the trigger needed some calming down….so I switched to the .44 mag barrel and did about 30 rounds of 240gr Federal American Eagle.  That seemed to help.  I save the last 10 rounds of .50AE for last.

Now, this Steinel ammo is fairly hot, coming out of the 6 inch barrel at 1410FPS.  BIG fireball; VERY loud.   Digression:  It was so loud that a shooter from several lanes down came over when I had completed the first mag and asked, “Excuse me, but WHAT exactly are you shooting?!?”   Of course I showed their party the pistol and they were very appreciative with the male partner asking his female partner if he could save for one…at that point, I decided to go back to my lane and shoot some more rounds.  Digression complete.

Bottom line is that the Steinel ammo shot so well (especially for my first time firing this caliber) that I ordered more for ‘the next time’.  And yes, I’m considering hand loading it also.  Update:  Have ordered 100 rounds of Steinel’s new 300gr JHP (Gold Dot) .50AE for Phase 2 of the range testing.

Ammo experimentation will be on-going; Buffalo Bore, for example, says that their hard cast 380 gr .50AE ammo doesn’t clog the gas port (I still get a kick out of shooting a ‘gas operated’ pistol!).  Here’s a quote from their site:  “Magnum Research warns against using hard cast bullets in the Desert Eagle, as the gas port can become fouled and I suppose this is true with soft bullets (these are very hard at around 22 BHN) with a plain base. Our load features a very hard bullet with a gas check on the base and in several hundred rounds of firing, did not foul the gas port on either pistol. ”  So, I’m considering getting some of that for giggles.  One thing about that hard cast, heavy projectile:  the penetration is amazing!

During my .44 magnum shooting, I also used some Winchester 250gr Platinum Tip.  Both performed very well, as expected, and since it was my first time, I only went out to 25 meters or so.  All in all I shot 80 rounds.  The last 10 rounds I fired were .50AE at 20 meters at an 8.5X11 target pictured below.  Once I get myself disciplined with this new pistol, I think I’m going to really like it for days out in the bush where dangerous things live.  Of course, I’ll carry 5 mags (overkill of course, but hey….).

As you can see, once I settled down, the group did, too.  All 10 rounds would have been immediately fatal.  So I’m happy with the new acquisition and it’s capabilities.

Next up on the improvements is to get Trijicon sights for both the .44 and .50AE barrels installed.  After that, it’s basically practice, practice, practice.

To tell the truth, if I’d have known how well these handle, I think I would have purchased one long ago.  Now, I have 2 calibers that take about 5 seconds to change out from one to the other.   Versatility is great!

Out of the Box Product Review: Falcon 37 Advanced Engagement Charging Handle

Posted on AP 25 March 19.

The purpose of this post is provide initial impressions on this product and to get a sense if it is actually a product/operational improvement as claimed or simply a slick gimmick.  I must admit when I ordered it the jury was out – I was really skeptical.  I kind of had nightmares (sort of) on this thing not necessarily because it might not perform, but that Bravo Company just might be starting to add less than stellar outside of their company products for sale, as certain companies who shall not be named have in the last few years.  See, BC to me is from the Greek root word for, “Quality.”  Expensive most times, but you get what you pay for, right?

To continue without digression, in the interest of total transparency, I am one of those guys that always has an issue with eye alignment on my optics when running an AR.  All. Ways.  I’ve tried everything, from taping pads to the top of my stock to changing the cheek weld, to just about anything and everything.  Accuracy has not been what it could be when taking long shots with it because of the lack of consistency in the hold.  I have been trying to figure something out for decades on this issue.  The reason I could not use an ACOG (had 2; sold them both) was very close eye relief with no support for a proper sight picture (cheek weld was wrong for me).

So, a week ago I’m on Bravo Company USA’s site, and I see an advertisement for the, “Falcon 37, Mod 1 AECH (Advanced Engagement Charging Handle with a couple of slick gifs showing how it works.  Here’s the one I watched:

Ok, so I’m a ‘gear-o-holic’ – I figured what the hell; I’ll bite.  If BC is selling it, it’s got to be at least a quality item.  I’ve never had a quality issue in all the years I’ve used their products.  If it isn’t what they and the company who developed it said it is, I’ll simply return it and put my old BCGunfighter charging handle back in, right?  So, with shipping, $85 later it’s on it’s way, and it came quickly, US Priority Mail, but due to family obligations, I couldn’t mount it until today (Sunday – 24 Mar).

                           In the Package

 

    The Entire Assembly Not Yet Assembled

 

                               Shown in Black for Contrast – Note the Riser Function

Here’s what the web site says about features/patents:

Features:
  • Ambidextrous – Right or Left handed, same movement for obstacles/barricades.
  • Racks like a Pistol Slide, off/non dominant hand over the top, charge, release
  • Smoother to Operate
  • Requires only Major Motor Skills, critical under extreme stress
  • No reaching under optics that extend over the charging handle.
  • Patent Pending latch eliminates latch release
  • Diverts gas away from shooters face even while using suppressors
  • Two positions available for optic used and eye relief of shooter
  • Fully Adjustable in the field
  • Faster malfunction clearing than regular and enhanced charging handles
  • Faster bringing optic to bear against target with proper cheek weld

US PATENT # D787,625 S MACHINED FROM 7075-T6 ALUMINUM – HEAVY DUTY BLACK HARD COAT ANODIZED MATTE BLACK PER MIL-A-8625A TYPE 3 CLASS 2.

Took about 5 minutes to set up, and that’s because I took my time.  It’s simplicity in itself putting it together.  Clear your AR, open it up and remove the bolt carrier and charging handle.  Put only the new charging handle in and replace the bolt carrier.  Mount the rest (slide handle) where you want your cheek weld without ‘turkey necking’ and snug them down with a Phillips head screw driver.  Don’t crank on it.  Finger tight works – later when you get it in the position you want, you can lock-tite the screws if you’re worried about vibration loosening the screws.  You determine the right position by adjusting your stock to where you would have it if firing with a scope (currently I tried it on 2 carbines – one with an Aimpoint M4 and one with a Vortex Strike Eagle – both adjustments are the same for me.  Charging the weapon is just the same as you might do when you operate a pistol slide.  No learning curve there.

It also seems to have promise in shortening the time to ‘slap, rack, and clear,’ whether in training or in a SHTF-I-need-this-to-fire-NOW! situation.  Think about it for a second:  ‘CLICK!’ – Tap bottom of mag:  Check – Rack charging handle:  Now, instead of taking the weapon out of the firing position to do so with the standard charging handle, you simply reach across with your non-shooting hand and pull it back and let go.  About a second faster, based on my anecdotal experiment.  I’m no expert by any means, but it does seem more user friendly.

Assembly is ‘GI Proof’ (the standard is defined by putting a piece of equipment in a locked room with two GI’s for an hour with simple assembly instructions and tell them they can’t break it.  When you open the room an hour later, it’s not broken, and it’s assembled properly, it might be worth using).  It’s Mil-Spec and simple.

The big advantage to this new-fangled charging handle is that it elevates your cheek weld to the correct position for your optics so well that you have an instant sight picture!!!  Oh, joy!! RAPTURE!!

The Out of Box test passed – this is what I see:

  • Mil-Spec construction – Fit and finish very nice.
  • Simple installation
  • Excellent eye alignment with optics
  • Excellent manipulation capability.

So, next time on this subject will be a range report to see how it did in the field.  It will be interesting in that it’s is supposed to eliminate gasses spraying in the shooter’s face, which equates to faster re-acquisition and added focus on the job at hand.

Lotta promise here…we’ll see what it delivers.

PS:  I ordered a Flat Dark Earth model for the carbine pictured above.  No need to paint.  Here’s the key I learned too late for the first order if you’re active, former, or retired military and you want to order:  Go to the basic web site, here, and click on the link for the discount.  15%.  Not too bad.  It’s an honor thing.

Disclaimer:  I have no interest in any of the companies or products listed or described above except as a consumer – I don’t get a dime for this review, nor would I want one.  I only want quality equipment.

 

Survival Artillery: The S&W Model 629 and the Desert Eagle XIX .44 Magnums

Posted on AP on 23 Feb 19.

         If this was your or one of your kids doe, these two would do whatever they thought it took to keep you away to include                attacking you.  And then comes the question:  Where are the other pack members?  Are they surrounding and flanking you?

I do a lot of hunting in wolf and bear country and the season I hunt in doesn’t have the bears fully hibernating yet, and the wolves, well, they’re ALWAYS out there looking for kills to claim during deer season.  In fact, in the last 3 years in my hunting area, we’ve spotted more wolves just before and during deer season than any other time of the year.  Wolves are smart – have they learned that the humans’ ‘bang stick’ provides fresh kills they can steal from humans by intimidation?  Possibly.  I’m no scientist, just guessing here, but the fact is, we see more wolf sign and wolves near our trails and stands during deer season than any other time. And…wolves are pack animals.  They hunt and fight as a unit.  They have a rank structure, leaders, and really aren’t a species one might want to say, be coy with.

                         You knew bears would eat your kill if you let them, too, right?                                               Extrapolate that out to bears will fight to keep what they claim….that means you!

So, that said, most, if not all of our hunting party, and many people we run into in town or wherever are sporting .44 magnum revolvers.  Some sport .357’s, but by and large it’s a .44 magnum used for self-defense.  Not too many .44 magnum pistols seen as they’re really pricey, but they’re not unknown.  Personally, I’ve grown to like the idea of a semi-auto .44 magnum pistol, and will be trying out my Desert Eagle this year.

By the by, everyone is aware that black bears do attack without warning, right?  There’s a belief out there that bears don’t like humans and will avoid them if possible.  The facts don’t bear (pun intended) that out.  Take the pic below – If that was me in the pic, I’d have either one of my .44’s out and trained on that bear’s skull.  Period.  Then I’d let him get about 3 feet closer and then defend myself.  Bears are not to be trifled with, nor should they be underestimated.

I’m sure you’ve read the old joke about people asking park rangers what to do about bears.  The rangers told them to have pepper spray and wear bells on their clothes.  The bears would hear the bells and give them a wide berth, but if not, the pepper spray would dissuade the bears from attacking.  The people asked the park rangers when they would know they were in bear country.  The rangers told them, “You’ll see piles of bear scat that has bells in it and smells like pepper…”

Personally, I prefer a good .44 magnum.

                       “Now where is my bear stopper?!?!?!?!”

I’ve got a back up S&W 686 with a 6 inch barrel for back up, but nothing makes me feel more secure than having a .44 magnum revolver/pistol strapped to me when I’m in wilderness, especially if I’m by myself.

My self-defense revolver that is my current ‘go to’ for a survival scenario is a ported S&W Model 629-2 with an 8 and 3/8th’s inch barrel.  As Smiths typically prove to be, it’s very accurate and easy to shoot, even with the long barrel (maybe I should say, “especially with the long barrel….balance & sight radius).  I carry 305gr HSN hard cast Bear rounds in it with four speed loaders in my jacket pockets.  Might seem overkill to some, but I don’t complain about having 30 rounds of survival artillery for unwanted predators who decide I might taste good.

The reason I described the Smith as my ‘current go to’ is because I just came into a Desert Eagle XIX in .50AE, and have a .44 Magnum barrel assembly ordered and on the way.   Once I get it converted (a matter of seconds with the DE) to .44 Magnum, it’ll be off to the range to see how it handles and groups against it’s competition – my 629.   The 629, with irons, groups nicely at about 3 inches or so at 25 yards.  Again, that long sight radius helps considerably; the recoil is very manageable, especially as it’s ported, allowing for fairly quick follow up shots if necessary.

As .44 magnum ammunition goes, for range work and basic putzing around during work or fun weekends at the hunting property, I load with Federal American Eagle 240gr JHP.  It’s reasonably priced, pretty much always available, and performs pretty well.  It’s not a ‘superb’ loading, but it serves well.  It’s also a recommended round for the Desert Eagle .44 magnum by IMI/Magnum Research.  So, that gives me some peace of mind as well.

So, onto having either one of these as a survival weapon (and not to discount also having, say, a .22 side arm for taking small game, too).

Let’s do the negatives first:

  • The pistols (both of them) are heavier and much larger, than, say, a .357, or any polymer based sidearm.
  • The ammo is heavy as well.  Carrying a 50 round box along with 4 loaded spare magazines for the Eagle or 4 loaded speed loaders for the Smith will significantly add to your survival pack, weight and space wise.
  • Both are very expensive.  The 629 is running anywhere from $1,000 upwards to $3,000, depending on the model and shape it’s in and the DE is running about $1,200 to $1,800 and more (depending on the finish) in a single caliber.  If you buy a .44 mag and then decide to buy a conversion barrel with a couple mags to give you yet another capability (say, for engine blocks with the .50AE) that will set you back another $500.  And we haven’t even discussed ammo yet.  So it’s not an ‘every man’s’ solution.
  • Holsters for both are expensive and large.  Vertical shoulder holsters are not the answer for those of us who aren’t 6’5″ or have a long torso with short legs.
  • Smith’s  629 does need a lead removing polishing cloth to keep the front of the cylinder clean as well as other parts of the revolver.  It does get stained (not that you’d mind it being stained when it saved your life…just sayin’).
  • The DE needs slight lubrication and complete field stripping to clean.  It gets D.I.R.T.Y…..ask me how I know.

Here’s what I see as the positives – YMMV:

  • It’s good to about 75 meters and will stop just about anything it hits.
  • I can get similar hard cast alloy rounds for penetration that’s shootable out of both platforms (yeah, I get what I pay for, and for hard cast, I buy 50 at a time to cut down on initial outlay).
  • Both speed loaders or extra magazines add to the amount of SHTF firepower one might need in a survival situation.
  • Both platforms are VERY rugged side arms.  Very.  Rugged.
  • The DE in .50AE with an additional barrel and some magazines runs less than the exquisite SW Model 629 and gives you additional capabilities.
  • The S&W is a proven performer, and there’s nothing else I can add to that.  The stainless construction DOES help in the field, that’s for sure.
  • The DE is designed for a 6 O’Clock hold on the target, which is my favorite hold. and is factory zero’d for 100 meters, so it’s going to hit high, hence the hold recommendation.  The 629 beyond 20 meters needs to be aimed a skosh low (at least my copy does).   Either works well at reasonable distances.  I haven’t shot the DE at 50 meters yet, but I have the Smith.  Hits in the kill zone without a problem.  I’ll do an update with the DE in the near future.
  • If you were beset by humans for whatever reason, one bottom line fact remains for both platforms:  Even with no ammunition, you can beat an aggressor to death with both of them.  All steel sidearms, made with precision FOR precision when shooting.
  • Can’t go wrong with either one.

What have you chosen, or would choose for, ‘Survival Artillery’?