Saturday, September 28, 2013

.444 Marlin- When You Need To Bring Enough Gun

The .444 Marlin cartridge turns 50 next year. I can relate. I did that last year. Still, I think I’m as good as ever. And the .444 Marlin is still damn effective, too.

Back to the cartridge. Marlin and Remington came up with it way back then as a replacement for the thought-to-be-on-it’s-last-gasp .45-70 (which even now is still soldiering strongly on). The idea behind the round is a that it fires, or maybe “lobs” is the better term, a big, heavy, lumbering bullet that hits like a freight train.

Imagine a .43 caliber, 240 grain bullet launching at 2350 fps out of case that is 2.25 inches long, with an overall length of 2.55 inches. This load gives you almost a ton and a half of energy. If you can’t anchor a deer, or black bear, or moose, or wild boar, or whatever with that, you should give up hunting and either become a vegetarian or buy your meat at the store.

Sure, it is a short range load. So is the .30-30, 300 Blackout, any handgun round… you get my point. Still, there is a place for short-ish range pumpkin launchers. The .444 Marlin is a premier example of this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

AR15 Functioning- the ins and outs of feeding your AR15

“Hey Blog Sarge, you sure tried to make short barrels sound as good as long ones in your last blog. You a little defensive about short barrels, or what?”

On my last blog, I made a strong case, or at least I hope I did, of why a short barrel is just as good for most normal shooting as a long barrel. 

Still, I will press on and probe the issue of AR15 reliability, or, as I like to call it, the ins and outs of feeding your AR.

Bear in mind that the gun only needs to do two basic types of actions once the round has gone pop, it needs to; 1)extract and eject the spent case then 2)feed and chamber a new round from the magazine.

Basically, if your AR15 is fed good ammo and is maintained well, failures will be as common as short songs by Phish; it will pretty much not fail you. If it does, either due to failing to extract/eject or failing to feed/chamber, here are some questions to ponder. While not a definitive list of causes, these are the ones I have seen the most and will get you started.

-Are your magazine lips deformed, possibly from a hard drop?
-Is the magazine follower sticking?
-Is the bolt clean? (Be honest, is it really clean? Even on the rear of it?)
-Is your chamber clean?
-Do you have the right amount of lube, neither too much nor too little? (ARs often like to run wet but too much can also gum up things)
-Is your gas tube clean?
-Is your gas key clean?

Let’s talk about the last two, the gas system. An obstructed gas tube and/or gas key can lead to failures and the gun will look fine. I have seen nice, clean guns that would neither reliably eject nor feed. The cause was an obstructed gas system. The original AR platform relies on the gases flowing through the tube, into the gas key and into the bolt carrier. If that gets compromised it will render the weapon unreliable

How to go about correcting the above issues is often obvious, (clean the darn thing) so I will not go further into it here. But, if you have a problem you can’t figure out, feel free to stop in and chat. Bring your rifle and we can look it over. Case it and we will clear it at the counter then see if we can spot anything.

If your rifle needs a good cleaning we can do that. We also offer ultrasonic cleaning for hard to reach areas. We’re happy to help diagnose problems.  If you want us to clean it, ask for an estimate on shop time rates and we’ll have it spiffed up nicely when you pick it up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Short People- The Second Yoga Blog

“Now”, said the yoga DVD narrator, “stand in mountain pose and simply fold forward at the waist, legs straight, knees locked and place your hands flat on the floor”. Right. Place this flat on the floor lady.

And this brings us to rifle barrels and the question, are longer barrels inherently more accurate? One might think so given the long tubes on sniper-type rifles. But let’s check this out.

On my 5.56 build I have a 16 inch Wilson barrel and it shoots sub m.o.a. consistently. I have longer barreled rifles that cannot match this. More important is barrel quality and twist rate. My 300 BLK build’s original cheapest-I-could-find barrel was horrible, doing 8-10 inch groups at 100 yds. I got a 16 inch Wilson barrel from the shop and it now shoots much better. I haven’t shot for best group yet, but casual plinking groups of 1.5 m.o.a. are fine with me.

Now, I have also shot a number of iron sighted rifles and the longer barreled guns almost always yield better groups. And I have witnessed the same results from my fellow shooters. BUT, these guns were all iron sighted. Add an optical sight and the barrel length becomes insignificant.

So, I think the answer is no.  Kind of.

As far as group size at normal ranges, I don’t think the length of barrel matters much if at all. It has never seemed to make a difference to me, given a good optic on the gun. If you are using iron sights, the longer sight radius will definitely make a difference in how accurate you can shoot the gun, but that doesn't mean the barrel itself has more inherent accuracy potential.

Will a longer barrel group better at extreme-for-the-caliber ranges? Very likely it will. But not due to inherent barrel accuracy. Lemme ‘splain Lucy. With a longer barrel on a rifle, to a point at least, you may well realize an increase in velocity due to efficiency. You will be allowing more time for powder to burn and propel the bullet where a shorter barrel might waste burning powder on muzzle flash. This higher velocity will result in shorter travel time to the target, thus reducing the impact of wind drift, bullet drop and Coriolis effect. Reducing these factors will help with group size.

So there you have it, Blog Sarge’s take on the long and short of barrels. 

Cheers and happy shooting.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blacking Out- The Dean Martin / 300AAC BLK Blog

Dean Martin once said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they get up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

I heard that the other day and laughed. Then thought of drunks blacking out, which lead me to think of my 300 Blackout rifle, which lead me to a blog idea. Like how my mind works? It is kind of like living in a free-association exercise all the time. It must suck to work with me and listen to this all day.

I like the Blackout. No, not "Blacking Out." I speak of the 300 Advanced Armament Corporation Blackout cartridge, also called the 7.62x35, 300BLK and 300 AAC.

Like many who have gotten into building ARs, I wanted something just a bit bigger for using on deer and pig hunting and also as a mild-shooting house gun. Yeah, I built a pig gun. And no, I've never seen a pig around the old homestead. But I remain hopeful. When I do, you can expect an Ann Arbor Arms pig roast.

A friend asked me the other day about some alternative calibers for a prospective AR purchase, what calibers I had considered before I built my 300BLK and why I decided upon the 300BLK. I thought it’d be a great blog.

There are a whole host of other calibers out there that are suitable for an AR build. Some have much more oomph than the 300BLK.

I wish the 5.56x40 WT (Wilson Tactical) from Wilson Combat would catch on but so far it isn't showing the kind of excitement needed for bigger popularity. It’s basically the same idea as the BLK but has a case length of 40mm as opposed to the Blackout’s 35mm length. The extra case length translates into more powder capacity. With the 110 gr Barnes TSX bullet, it gets about 150 more fps than the same bullet in my BLK, hot-stepping along at just north of 2500fps with max loads. But more velocity from the ammo is worthless if you can simply not get the ammo. I do not currently reload so that was a big factor.

The 6.5 Grendel has a slimmer .26 caliber bullet of similar weights to the lighter 300BLK rounds, but pushes the projectile faster. Ammo availability is also a big concern here.

The 6.8spc also was considered. It is a fine round, pushing 110 gr .277 diameter bullets to 2700fps. Like the others above it would be fine for deer and pigs and has reached a better level of popularity than they have. Ammo is easier to find that the 5.56x40 and 6.5 Grendel.

Bigger rounds are available, too. I considered the 450 Bushmaster and 50 Beowulf cartridges, too. Both send huge hunks of lead and copper downrange and moderate velocities and are devastating close range hunting and combat loads. The 450 was my second choice after the 300BLK and might still be a future build.  Hornady tells us the 450 can send a 250 grain bullet downrange at 2200fps.

So why did I choose the BLK? One big factor was that the BLK uses the same bolt and magazine as the 5.56x45 I had already built. The BLK uses trimmed and shortened 5.56 cases so there are no modifications needed to bolts and magazines. Bear in mind that I was building during the lean times last winter when there were almost no AR parts to be found.  Also, the idea of a round that could eventually be used suppressed in an AR handgun or SBR was attractive.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kuhl Change- The Little River Band Blog

I was listening to oldies rock on Sirius XM and Little River Band came on singing “Cool Change”. I always loved that song. Must be because I am a water person. It got me thinking of blogging about our new clothing line, Kuhl.

So, I took to the range wearing my Kuhl pants on the hottest day of the summer to wring the pants out. Literally wringing them out almost, it ended up. Reviewing Kuhl pants on a hot day. There's something else that's ironic. Quick, somebody call Alanis Morrisette.

So how did they do? I like them. Mine are the “Revolvr” pants which are made of a lightweight, yet durable fabric comprised of 26% nylon and 74% cotton. 

I liked the way they moved with me. Even when bending into a squat position they had good flex. Breathability was good, too. Going prone, the flat button design helps avoid digging into the stomach if you land on a hard object and makes the wearing of a sturdy gun belt less of a pain. The right hand thigh pocket is a good place for a cell phone, unless you will be doing strenuous activity. The roomy feel allows freedom of movement, critical when doing drills involving squatting, kneeling and tactical movement. After the range session they laundered well and showed no signs of damage.