Monthly Archives: December 2010

Troy Industries Customer Service Update

Many months ago, I wrote about a problem I had with Troy customer service – that they wouldn’t repair a TRX Extreme handguard because I was not the original purchaser.

Well, some folks at Troy saw that earlier this month, and since the people who had handled my issue are apparently no longer working customer service, I was emailed a UPS tag and asked to return the handguard. Only a few weeks later, it was back on my doorstep, looking like new – very impressive, considering the holidays. My hat is off to Troy – for both their response to me and for improving their customer service department.

Sabre Defence Bankruptcy?

Rumors are swirling about a possible Sabre Defence bankruptcy. It’s not exactly “new news,” since they were sued by a creditor last month, but the rumors seem to have solidified into something more lately. I still hope they’re wrong – Sabre makes a pretty decent product – but if they’re true, this could be an early signal, along with the essential elimination of Bushmaster in all but name, that the AR-15 industry is entering a period of serious adjustment.

While the eventual winner may be the consumer, who will hopefully receive a higher quality product at a lower price as companies fight for sales, it’s going to, for lack of a better term, suck for the companies (and their employees) that end up consolidating and/or going out of business.

Elzetta ZSM – Shotgun Light Mount

Having had prior experience with Elzetta products, I was pretty sure that I’d like their new shotgun light mount, the ZSM. In fact, when I heard about it months ago, I shelved plans to buy a railed forend for my Mossberg 500.

As it turns out, I made the right decision. Like the ZFH-1500, which attaches to the front sight base of an AR-15, the ZSM requires nothing more than a flashlight – you don’t need any rails. Everything, including adapters for 20 and .410 gauge shotguns, as well as flashlights from .7″ to 1.05″ in diameter, is included, and the standard model retails for only $39.95. The railed forend I was looking at was $75 – and would have required another $30-40 for a flashlight mount. Beyond that, it was of dubious quality – whereas the ZSM is of the highest quality. Every component – even the raw materials and the supplied allen wrenches – is made in the United States.

Elzetta also sent me their ZFL-M60 light, which has an excellent flood lens – although they’re sold as a package for $194.90, I’ll be reviewing them separately. I will say, though, that the “flood” effect is phenomenal indoors.

The ZSM places the light just below the bore of my Mossberg, with approximately 1/2″ between the light and the barrel. It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into the exact placement of the light, for not only did I find it to be an easily accessible location, but so did several other people with varying hand sizes and thumb lengths. Because of the position of the light, as well as the flood lens, the gold bead front sight reflects enough to be very visible against all backgrounds without reflecting so much that it obstructs my view of the target. Frankly, it’s better than any night sight I could imagine.

As I mentioned before, the ZSM is of the highest quality – the polymer is identical to that of the ZFH-1500 mentioned above, which I used on a rifle that sometimes had half a dozen 30 round magazines dumped through it at a time, for several thousand rounds, resulting in barrel temperatures over 600 degrees. After that, I took the light mount off – there wasn’t a single mark, burn, line, anything that indicated heat had compromised the strength or form of the mount. Given that, I don’t think it would be possible to load and fire a shotgun fast enough to cause damage to a ZSM mount attached to said weapon.

I loaded up several Walmart “bulk packs” (100 shells) of 12 gauge birdshot, as well as a box of 00 buck, and headed to the range. The only damage done was to my shoulder – the mount and light stayed in place and maintained perfect function. Obviously, that was a limited test, and I will continue to beat on this device until it fails – which might be a while. In the meantime, Elzetta has definitely earned my admiration for a well-designed and well-executed product, made entirely in the USA, which sells for a very reasonable price.

History Tuesday: The More Things Change…

…the more they stay the same.

I recently purchased a copy of Roy F. Dunlap’s excellent book, Ordnance Went Up Front, and will be doing weekly articles on various portions of the book. Today seems as good a day as any to start.

When discussing Italian pistols, Dunlap had this to say:

In settling on a small weapon for a small cartridge, my own idea is that the Italian Army, or Beretta, whichever was responsible, showed good enough sense. For a couple of the war years it was the fashion to deride the Beretta, along with all other handguns weighing less than two and one-half pounds and less than .45-caliber, some of the deriders being quasi-military experts who could not hit the ground twice in succession with the .45 and who got their dope from the ballistics section of ammunition company catalogs. Then somebody discovered that the British service pistol cartridge since 1933 has been the .38 S&W cartridge, to replace the .455 caliber, and since the British are very realistic in their attitude regarding the lethal qualities of their equipment, a few minds began to wonder.

The final blow to the heavy handgun partisans came when Uncle Sam quietly began issuing plain ordinary Colt .380s – standard commercial autoloaders. True, they went to high officers, but that did not alter the fact that they were officially qualified as a last-ditch, close-range, self-defense weapon, which is exactly the status of any military pistol, regardless of size, shape, weight, origin, or training-camp sales talks.

The average military man cannot hit much with any pistol, and as a rule, the bigger the gun the less he hits. That is why the Uncle called for the M1 carbine in the first place. In the hands of gun-masters such as Charles Askins, Jr. or Al Hemming or Harry Reeves the handgun is more deadly than the rifle is with the average soldier behind it. However, men like that are so scarce that they cannot be counted in any army. The old claim of “the .45 knocks ‘em down if it hits ‘em in the arm of leg” carries no weight with anyone who has actually seen any bullet work on humans. Sometimes a .45 might flatten a man with a minor wound, but I have known of Jap soldiers who absorbed a burst in the body from a Thompson and went down fighting. The .45 carries a lot of shocking power, it is true, but the point nearly every pistol argument misses is that a hit with any bullet above a .22 rim fire will slow a man enough from what he is doing – running away, running toward you, or shooting at you – to give you time to put in a fatal hit or hits. And I do not think anyone will argue that the smaller calibers are not easier for the unpracticed man to handle. A hit with a 9mm or .38 is 100% more effective than a miss with a .45, regardless of the wound it causes.

Elsewhere in the book, he states:

With only a little practice (and some intelligent instruction) the pistol can be mastered well enough to be an effective short-range weapon, but as a rule, the soldier does not get practice. Shooting in the army is discouraged. Too much bother handling the range, use too much expensive ammunition, dangerous anyhow – may shoot somebody.

I also plan to look into the legalities of “transcribing” this book into Kindle format, for used copies are expensive and not always easy to find, and I have found it to be incredibly informative. I think it would be interesting to anyone who likes firearms, or even history – his observations on African, Egyptian, Philippine etc culture are quite interesting.

AR-15 Rate of Fire as a Function of Buffer Weight and Action Spring – Initial Comparison

I must stress that this is an initial comparison based on limited data points, but I feel that it will be fairly accurate once more data has been gathered.

Many rounds were fired through a number of uppers, but I spent the most time with a 20″ rifle gas upper; data can be seen below. The barrel used had a 5.56mm chamber and a .092″ gas port, which are standard M16A2/A4 features.

Although the BCM action spring and the “generic” action spring were identical in appearance, their performance was quite different. Given the same weapon, recoil buffer, magazine, ammunition, environmental conditions, and even number of rounds in the magazine, the BCM spring reduced rate of fire by approximately 70rpm compared to the generic spring.

Time in each component of bolt carrier travel was reduced, however, the most significant change occurred during the “hang time” where the bolt carrier group was at its rearmost point of travel; the BCM spring delayed forward movement by as much as 35%. In terms of real world performance, the BCM spring allowed 35% more time for the magazine spring to properly feed the “stack” of ammunition.

Even the Wolff reduced power spring slowed rate of fire more than the generic spring. All springs had less than 300 rounds/cycles “on” them prior to testing.

While the switch from Carbine to H buffers resulted in a significant (~50rpm) drop, going from H to H3 – double the weight difference of the carbine to the H – only reduced rate of fire by 6-13rpm. I have many theories, only some of which are grounded in reality. It may be that simply having any amount of tungsten in the buffer changes the way the buffer acts when it reaches the rearmost point in the receiver extension tube, for the average rearward velocities of the H and H3 buffers were nearly identical, whereas other times and velocities differed.

Although I am not ready to release data for other uppers (even on an “initial” basis), their behavior with the above buffers and springs seemed similar.

Before anyone asks, I don’t have sufficient data for the H3/generic spring yet.

Rates of fire were calculated on high speed video, which was calibrated prior to testing. High speed video of my uppers on registered, full auto lowers were used to calculate theoretical rates of fire for semi-auto lowers. Rate of fire reduction is not the only reason to select an action spring and buffer. Your individual results may vary based on dozens of factors.

Bushmaster .308 ORC – A2 vs. PWS FSC30 (Now Longer and With More SCAR)

Among the hours spent at the range today on half a dozen different projects, I shot the Orca with a PWS FSC30 attached. It doesn’t look like a huge difference on video, but the muzzle stayed on target instead of dipping, and I didn’t notice as much of a shove, recoil-wise, as I did with the A2.

I noticed with both the SCAR-17S (which uses the same device) and the Orca with the FSC30 that I wanted more than just earplugs. I’ve fired a wide variety of weapons, including some that are much larger than 7.62x51mm, and have never wanted double hearing protection as much as I did when I fired these two cannons.

Here is a comparison with the SCAR-17S (both weapons equipped with FSC30).

High School Student Wrongly Suspended

I’m cross posting this article from my political blog for its gun-related subject matter.

I know, I know – the créme de la créme of Fox News personnel didn’t cover this story.

But a few seconds on Google could have helped the junior staffer write a better article.

Contrary to the claims in the article, DeReu did not violate federal gun laws. She had an unloaded firearm stored in the locked trunk of her vehicle.

Title 18 U.S.C §922(q) The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 States:

(A) It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.

(B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the possession of a firearm—

(iii) that is— (I) not loaded; and (II) in a locked container, or a locked firearms rack that is on a motor vehicle;

Nor did she violate Montana gun laws. They apply only to school buildings.

Fox took the clueless school superintendent at his word: that DeReu violated state and federal laws, and that the school could lose funding as a result. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There’s a whole lot of stupid in this story, but little, if any, comes from the 16 year old honor student.

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