Monthly Archives: October 2010

Own (a certain muzzle brake)? Get your Form 1 ready.

According to 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(24):

The terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm muffler” mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

According to this ATF ruling, even if a device was not intended to “silence, muffle, or diminish the report of a portable firearm,” when it becomes readily usable for that purpose, it is a sound suppressor under the above US Code. The device in question was a paintball gun “suppressor” that reduced the sound of a .22 by under 8 decibels.

No definition of actual sound reduction required to be considered illegal was given in the ruling. Therefore, we may assume that any device capable of reducing sound by even a single decibel is illegal. There are no allowances for devices that were not ostensibly intended to reduce the report of a firearm, but do so as a consequence of their design.

Unfortunately for owners of (a certain muzzle brake) such as myself, in my recent testing, it proved to be one decibel quieter than the same weapon without a muzzle device (This is in line with other informal testing that I have seen conducted by people such as myself – however, it is more offensive to the ears of some people because of the frequency of the report, not because of the number of decibels emitted).

Were I to continue using this device, knowing that it apparently diminishes the report of a firearm, it would seem that I would be committing a felony.

I must make it clear that I will continue to use this device and that this post was created solely to point out the ridiculousness of what is apparently interpreted to constitute a “silencer” under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(24). See this page for information on a related topic, although the following would seem to indicate that since the brake does not have any of the following features, it would generally not be considered a silencer on its own:

General characteristics of known firearm silencers include:
1 Ported inner tube (bleed holes)
2 Expansion chambers
3 Baffles or washers which create seperate expansion chambers
4 sound dampening material such as foam, steel wool and other materials
5 End Caps
6 Encapsulators

"Keyholing" 5.45 – What is the cause?

Anyone who is familiar with the Century Arms “Tantal” 5.45x39mm AKs has probably heard that some of them had issues with keyholing. That is, the projectiles would impact their target at an angle, leaving a “keyhole” impression instead of a round hole. I owned a Century Tantal, and while I had several complaints about the weapon, it did not keyhole when I put Russian surplus ammunition through it – though the person I sold it to did have such problems.

It was widely accepted that the cause of this was the use of barrel blanks that were originally intended for use with .224″ diameter projectiles. These barrels weren’t able to stabilize the .221″ diameter 5.45 projectiles.

Recently, I loaded some 60gr Hornady 5.45 projectiles in 5.56 cases. I fired them through a 5.56mm AR-15 with a 1/7 twist barrel at a target 50 yards distant. Not only did they not keyhole, they actually kept a pretty tight group considering the factors involved (shooter stance, optic, etc). I’m going to do more testing, but it appears that the simple explanation of “5.56 barrels won’t stabilize 5.45 projectiles” isn’t entirely true.

Also, I’ve been loaned a few more weapons for review by a generous benefactor – a Sig P226 X-Five Tactical, an FN FNP-45, and a Sig 556 Pistol. They’ll be reviewed shortly.

"Heller II" Appellate Brief Filed

Because the District of Columbia continues to enforce unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, despite the 2008 Heller v. DC Supreme Court ruling, a “Heller II” brief has been filed, challenging the restriction on what DC calls “assault weapons” and bans on weapons that can take magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Although a certain number of justices will certainly allow personal bias to override what should be a clear decision, I have faith that this legal attempt will be successful, just as Heller and McDonald were.

MSNBC Goes "Full Retard"

At approximately 2:50, the announcer in this video states that .50 caliber machine guns can be bought over the counter in the United States, and, along with assault rifles, are the weapons used in most killings in the Mexican drug war.

If we can buy .50 caliber machine guns “over the counter” here in the US – then we can buy cocaine by the pallet at Costco.

Sionics SAR-15

It’s that day of the week again – another AR-15 review on Vuurwapen Blog.

This time, the rifle comes from a new company with an old name – Sionics Weapon Systems.

Without going into too much detail, an unrelated company named SIONICS (Studies In the Operational Negation of Insurgents and Counter-Subversion) was founded in the ’60s by, as the Los Angeles Times described him, a “flamboyant soldier of fortune.” The company made sound suppressors for several weapons before drifting into oblivion as its founder was eventually arrested for allegedly being hired by Larry Flynt to kill Frank Sinatra.

The company of today shares nothing but the name with the company of old; Sionics Weapons Systems (no longer using the acronym SIONICS) focuses on the assembly and sale of AR-15 pattern weapons, not suppressors and celebrity assassinations.

The owner of the company wanted to produce an AR with specific design criteria:

- Utilize quality components

- Ensure tight upper/lower receiver fit and matching anodized finish

- Eliminate as many logos as possible

The result is the SAR-15. I was loaned a T&E sample for the purposes of this review, but had a chance to examine several other SAR-15s as well. This particular model sells for $1,049 with the MBUS rear sight, but without the RVG vertical grip.

In terms of upper and lower fit, the SAR-15s ranged from “tight” to “where’s my hammer and punch?” I prefer a looser upper/lower fit for easy disassembly without tools, but a sizable portion of the AR market does put upper/lower fit high on their list of desired attributes.

The owner stated that the logo was chosen to be “neutral” in the event a police officer equipped with a Sionics rifle used it in an on-duty shooting; more aggressive logos, he felt, would not be beneficial in this instance.

Speaking of logos, other than the one seen above and the logos on the Magpul accessories, there are none to be found on the weapon. As with upper/lower fit, a number of people prefer ARs that do not have obvious manufacturer logos. Those two groups often overlap, so some might be pretty interested in the weapon on that basis alone.

From my observations, people who don’t like excess logos generally don’t like HK-type bullet pictogram markings, especially those with markings in the full auto position, and on the right side of the lower. However, a lot of people do like them, and you can’t please everyone. I doubt that alone will cost Sionics many sales.

Other than the upper and lower receiver, and the Magpul accessories, all of the components used come from Daniel Defense. The owner of the company wanted to source as many parts as he could from just one company, and Daniel Defense was able to provide what he needed. All SAR-15s have hammer forged barrels, M16 carriers, and mil-spec diameter receiver extension tubes, among other features. We’ll get to those in a second.

One of the first things I look at when I pick up an AR is how it was assembled. Certain things are pretty easy to see – whether the receiver extension tube, for example, was held from rotating while the castle nut was torqued. It doesn’t affect function, but it shows how much attention the assembler paid to the task at hand.

Another easily identifiable item is the muzzle device. Of the 4 SAR-15s I examined, 3 were perfectly timed; the one I received for T&E was off by just few degrees. However, as it had been used by other people before me, I can’t say that it was assembled that way. It’s possible that someone removed and reinstalled the device while using a sound suppressor that required a unique mount.

The front sight base is F height and attached with taper pins.

As mentioned previously, the barrel is a DD hammer forged unit, which means that it’s 4150 steel, 1/7 twist, chrome lined, with a 5.56 chamber and leade.

M4 feedramps were machined prior to anodizing and heat treating. The chrome plating is easily visible in this photo.

As stated previously, the weapon uses an M16 pattern carrier group sourced from Daniel Defense. The key was properly staked, and although the bolt was unmarked, DD states that they HP and MP test all their bolts and barrels. Although a notched hammer is used, the carrier is of the shrouded firing pin design.

The BCG does not feature a logo.

I do like the MOE grip and handguards, but am not convinced that the stock is a worthy upgrade over the standard M4 type, for I like both the friction lock and the QD sockets offered by the Magpul CTR, and the MOE offers neither. Other than a decent rubber buttpad, I just don’t see what it does that an M4 stock doesn’t do – beyond not look like an M4 stock.

The ubiquitous PMag is an excellent choice for an OEM magazine, and one that more and more manufacturers are choosing on what seems like a daily basis.

Moving on to the lower… I should mention that the receivers are 7075-T6 aluminum and Type III hard anodized, as per usual. As those who’ve seen the DD LAV video know, it’s also important that the lower is “nicely engraved, not rollmarked” and features a “nice beveled magwell.”

Those who seek perfect fit and finish might be disappointed by the little ding next to the bolt catch roll pin hole. It’s possible that this lower was chosen for T&E and not retail sale because of the ding – a similar mark is the reason one of my Bravo Company lowers was considered a “blem” and sold at a discount. I did not see similar dings on the other SAR-15s, but then again, I did not have as much time to look over them as I have had to look over this one.

I would prefer a little more staking on the receiver endplate, but was pleased to see that an effort had been made. High volume manufacturers use machinery to ensure consistent and forceful staking on this and other areas, but smaller manufacturers may not have the capital or space for this.

The receiver extension tube is mil-spec in diameter and offers six adjustment notches.

All Sionics carbines come with H buffers. I’m glad to see that they made this choice over the carbine buffer.

I’m not a huge fan of notched hammers, but all Daniel Defense lower parts kits come with their peculiar hammer design, so there wasn’t much of a choice to be made.

I also like to see grease on the fire control group contact points, and was disappointed to not see it here, but it’s possible that whoever used the weapon before me removed the grease during a cleaning session.


I will have a range report shortly, but based on my initial observations, the owner of the company appears to have done exactly what he set out to do: build a quality carbine, devoid of logos or markings, with a focus on tight upper and lower fit. The quibbles I have with the assembly of the weapon are easily rectified and often self-correcting as the company matures – note the low serial number of this T&E weapon. Both the owner and the gunsmith expressed a willingness to change their practices as necessary.

I do think that Sionics faces a tough road ahead – there’s no shortage of competition offering cosmetically identical weapons, and new companies often face skepticism from potential customers. However, those who value the concept of matched upper and lower receivers for a tight fit but still want features such as 1/7 twist and a chrome lined, hammer forged barrel might wish to investigate what Sionics has to offer.

Cerakoted 1911

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to cause rust on a variety of finishes or materials that most consider to be quite rust resistant.

Last year I finally found a finish that would resist the attack of my sweat – electroless nickel. However, because I got tired of an all-silver firearm, I recently decided to see what else was out there, and found Cerakote.

Though I’m normally the type to do it myself, the price was definitely right – about $60 for everything but the frame, including return shipping. I also wanted to make sure that the application and curing processes were done right.

That they were, for I was quite impressed with the finished product (frame retains satin electroless nickel done by me):

The real test came when I carried the pistol, and it passed with flying colors. Over several months, in both leather and kydex holsters, not a speck of rust has appeared on any of the Cerakoted parts (or the frame, for that matter).

As I expected, it has shown wear – as has the nickel – but this has not affected the corrosion resistance of those parts, as far as I can tell. Frankly, it’s not showing as much wear as I thought it would, so that’s a pleasant surprise – though I’ve only put 800 rounds through it. I wiped it down several times along the way, mainly because I don’t like getting carbon all over my hands just because I picked up a firearm. I noticed that the Cerakote was easier to clean than the electroless nickel. Neither was difficult to clean – the nickel just took a little extra pressure and a few extra passes with a rag to remove carbon.

What was greater than originally expected was frame to slide fit. It was exceptionally tight at first, but to be fair, Jim at only had one of the two major components to work with. I worked the two parts back and forth by hand several hundred times before I fired a round through it – and haven’t had a single failure of any kind, so that’s definitely no longer an issue. If anything, the action feels “slicker” than it did before, or when comparing this 1911 to other 1911s I own. However, I don’t have any issues with the slide being too slick to manipulate, even when sweaty or wearing gloves.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the work Jim did. I would like to note that I sent it to him without identifying myself as a “blogger” or telling him that I was going to do a review. This is representative of the work he did for a “regular customer.” I don’t think he could have done better.

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