Monthly Archives: September 2011

T&E: Centurion Arms Rail System

Rainier Arms has provided a Centurion Arms midlength extended rail system for T&E.

Even when barrel nuts are considered, it has roughly the “length to weight ratio” of a Daniel Defense Lite Rail (this one is 12.4oz, compared to a DD 12.0 FSPM at 13.6oz). Plus, it offers rotation limited QD sockets. Although the current trend seems to be toward handguards that only have a top rail, the Centurion rail is different enough to warrant some attention. So far, I’ve only photographed and examined it, but it’ll go on a rifle soon.

centurion arms midlength rail system

End of Month Thoughts – AR-15 Lower Receiver "Printing" & CZ 805 Kills Russians

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. An AR-15 lower “printed” at home, using a 3D printer?

My initial thoughts are that even if the lower was manufactured from a weak material, it would most likely maintain functionality for a magazine or so – if it was fired only and not tossed around – which is…interesting, and possibly of use.

Also, in one of the coolest firearm videos I’ve ever seen, a bunch of dirty Russians with AK-74s and RPGs are laid to waste by guys with CZ 805s and Mechanix gloves.

I saw a pallet of those 805s at the CZ factory in Uhersky Brod (by the way, the design really reminds me of the SCAR, but I know the 805 has been in development for a long while). I was hoping that they would be exported to the US, but I’m satisfied with the way they’re being used in that video.

Russia to quietly phase out AK-74?

Beyond the temporary cessation of AK-74 purchases reported by Steve at The Firearm Blog recently, this article from RIA Novosti seems to suggest that the Russian military is looking for an entirely new replacement.

Military sources say the army is reserved about all these rifles, whether made in Izhevsk or Kovrov. They think these rifles are fine, but do not meet the modern requirements of the Russian army, which will define the performance specifications for the new gun.

I do read RIA Novosti daily, and am not surprised that the country would seek a new rifle. Russia’s defense spending has been increasing greatly over the last few years, and the Libyan conflict meant the cancellation of billions of dollars worth of arms contracts. In addition, international pressure caused the cessation of arms sales to Iran last year. Russia is very, very unhappy about all of this, and some of the slack might need to be picked up domestically.

AR-15 Buffer Comparison – Enidine Hydraulic vs H2

I was recently loaned an Enidine hydraulic buffer by Rich at Arizona Armament, and dropped it in my Spike’s Tactical lightweight AR-15 for some comparison shooting with the “regular” buffer that rifle normally is used with – an H2. Right now, I’m just presenting some initial findings, not a comprehensive evaluation.

I’m not thrilled with the Enidine. Although it cycles slower, the difference comes from a slower return to battery, which I have not found to be conducive to higher reliability. This, coupled with the shorter stroke caused by the Enidine buffer, gives me reason for concern at this early point in my evaluation.

CTT Solutions Tactical Training & Consulting

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention Mike Pannone. He’s the owner of CTT Solutions and a very experienced individual. I first met him almost 5 years ago, right after I returned from Iraq, and he was about to teach a designated marksman course. Since that time, we’ve encountered each other at the range quite frequently, and he’s taken time out of his day to help me polish my skills with carbines and pistols on numerous occasions – rather generous, considering that he’s in high demand as an instructor.

In fact, a few days ago, I met with a group of highly professional individuals who have been paid to attend courses taught by various instructors, and those courses taught by Mike Pannone were literally the standard by which the other instructors and courses were judged.

I made a short video promoting Mike and his company. Because it’s a bit more advertising-oriented than my normal videos, I’ll just be putting it on the blog, the readers of which I have found to be more professional, experienced, and reasonable than the general audience found on YouTube. If you’d be turned off by a bit of a “sales pitch,” I won’t be offended if you skip the video – but if you get the chance to take a course taught by Mike, you’ll find that the info in the “sales pitch” is more of an understatement than an embellishment.

300 AAC Blackout Subsonic Velocity Data

As mentioned previously, I am working with a series of 300 AAC Blackout uppers courtesy of Deliberate Dynamics and Rainier Arms. These uppers have Noveske stainless steel barrels and will be run through a series of tests to determine their suitability for various purposes, both “military” and “civilian.” Jim of Deliberate Dynamics did the shooting today, while I “shot” photos. I particularly like this shot, which shows what I believe to be a bit of flame coming out the ejection port along with the case.

8" Noveske 300 AAC Blackout

One of the first things we wanted to do was see what the performance of the 220 grain subsonic load was from these uppers. Since we had 8″, 10.5″, 12.5″ and 14.5″ barrels at our disposal, a good chronograph, and factory ammunition, it was a fairly easy task. These are preliminary numbers, and will be followed up with more thorough data analysis – but for now, they’re pretty solid.

14.5" Noveske 300 AAC Blackout Chronograph Data

I’ve been loading 300BLK for a few months now, but I think most people will be interested in the performance of factory ammunition. In this case, it was Remington R300AAC8 – the aforementioned 220 grain subsonic stuff. Although supersonic loads – and factory brass – have been promised for a very long time now, it’s disappointing to see that they have not been forthcoming.

Noveske 300 AAC Blackout

We encountered no functional issues, which was a good sign for both the caliber and myself, since I put the uppers together. The Troy mags, as well as PMags, fed the fat 220gr loads just fine. If you’re not familiar with 300 Blackout, it uses 5.56 bolts and magazines, and a modified 5.56 case that’s shortened 10mm and necked up to .30 caliber. The advantages of 5.56 mags and the strength of a 5.56 bolt, as well as .308 diameter projectiles, make this a much better choice than 7.62×39 for the AR-15 platform.

8" Noveske 300 AAC Blackout

 

As for the performance of the subsonic load, all shots remained subsonic, which is, of course, a good thing. However, this means that the guys with 8″ uppers are going to be using a load that’s a little slower than it could be, just so the guys with 14.5″ and 16″ uppers don’t have that supersonic “crack.”

12.5" Noveske 300 AAC Blackout

The 8″ averaged 954fps, the 10.5″ 993fps, the 12.5″ 1014fps, and the 14.5″ 1025. This is clearly a load that’s optimised for shorter barrels. However, I wasn’t impressed with the standard deviation – over 40 in all but one example. And the extreme spread was, well, extreme, exceeding 100fps in several cases.

14.5" Noveske 300 AAC Blackout

I would like to see more ammunition available in this caliber. Not only would more loads be nice, but I’ve never found Remington ammunition to be “the best,” or even above average. Right now, though, this 220gr load is just about the only thing I can find, other than expensive Cor-Bon stuff, and 175gr CMMG ammunition that reportedly won’t cycle in anything but CMMG uppers. I’ll be loading various projectiles, but as I said above, hard data will be presented with factory ammunition. My final report will be a comprehensive evaluation of the caliber.

Kudos to Surefire Customer Service

I bought several Surefire E1Bs years ago, and they’ve seen heavy use since then.

Surefire’s warranty covers everything but bulbs and tailcaps, but when one of the E1B tailcaps failed – instead of wearing out, it actually came apart – they covered it without any hassle, sending a new tailcap out right away. I didn’t mention that I would thank them online, or that I had a blog – just that I needed a part replaced.

Since I had already had the entire lens section of the other E1B replaced under warranty – and that failure was entirely my fault – I am very happy with the way Surefire takes care of its customers.

Worn Surefire E1Bs

When Will We See True Firearm Innovation?

As yet another major firearm manufacturer announces a “groundbreaking, game-changing” product that is anything but, I have to ask – when will we see something that’s truly innovative?

Every new firearm that’s been announced for the last few years – heck, probably more – has been presented to the consumer as if it is nothing short of revolutionary – in fact, that word is often used to describe the new product of the month. Almost invariably, though, this “revolutionary” firearm is simply an amalgamation of previous designs packaged in a new shell with a fancy name.

The Nano does not change any games, despite Beretta’s claims to the contrary. Its major design feature, the removable frame insert, is very similar to what we saw a few years ago in the Sig P250, which is in fact licensed from Steyr in the case of the P250 (Kudos to Steyr for being the originator of this design, even if nothing has really come of it). Even if being able to change grip sizes without changing serial numbers is mildly interesting, Sig has discovered that people prefer their handguns actually function before they think about whether or not they would like to have two grip sizes or change between different calibers.

In the long gun market, we have items like the Benelli Vinci, described as, you guessed it, a “revolution” in shotgun technology. It’s basically the Benelli operating system in an easier-to-manufacture package, with the side benefit of it being more suitable for rapid disassembly. Its most promising technology is the concept of a quick-change tubular magazine that could be manufactured in several lengths, but Benelli isn’t interested in selling this to civilians.

The silver lining for me is that products like the P250 and the Vinci haven’t done very well on the market. Unfortunately, at least in the case of the P250, this has more to do with a complete lack of reliability than the fact that the weapon wasn’t worth buying in the first place.

It’s my opinion – worth what you paid for it – that twenty-year-old – or perhaps even older – specimens of these companies’ firearms are more reliable, durable, and useful than their newer designs. Sig P228, anyone? Benelli M1 Super 90?

I don’t know when we can expect to see true innovation, with the potential for market success, from a firearm manufacturer, but I don’t think it will come from any of the companies that seem to currently be led around by the nose by their P.T. Barnum-like marketing folks. We need another Browning, another Stoner, another Glock. Not another Beretta Nano.

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