Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bullpup Kits and 12ga Shotguns

I'm not typically a big fan of bullpup kits that convert a standard rifle into a bullpup rifle.  It always seems kind of cheesy to me.

Every once in a while a product comes along that changes the way I think about things.  The Kushnapup is one such product.  The rifle they convert?  Well, it's not really a rifle, it's a shotgun.  The Saiga 12ga. to be exact.

You can see the bullpup kit in the picture to the right.  It looks very modern, and draws its inspiration from the Steyr AUG it would seem.

Most bullpup kits look rather gaudy to me, but this kit seems well thought out, at least from the pictures I've seen.  It almost looks "right" to me.  The addition of the top rail and EOTech sight clinches the deal for me, I want one.  Now all I have to do is go buy a Saiga 12ga shotgun, a gun I'm really not all that interested in.

The stock is in the "pre-order" phase so apparently you can't get your hands on one just yet.  Once they're shipping I might have to run out and pick up both the stock and a shotgun to put it on for a review.

Here's a video from the manufacturer showing it in use.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Misinformation about Wolf Ammo

Wolf .223 Ammo
One of the most maligned products I've seen in the firearms community is Wolf ammunition.  Wolf ammunition is made in Russia and is sold under the Wolf Performance brand name here in the United States.

Much of the misinformation surrounding Wolf ammo comes from the fact it uses steel cases.  From this fact several myths have arose over the years and have been spread across the internet via the various discussion boards.

Here are a few of the myths.
  1. Steel cases damage your chamber
  2. Steel cases damage your extractor
  3. Ammo is lacquer coated and it causes malfunctions
I address some of these myths on my YouTube Channel with a recent video.  Here's the video:

The myths become out of control when you have bloggers like TacticalYellowVisor giving outright bad advice.  I stumbled across their blog this morning and was amazed at how bad the advice it offered was.

They instruct the reader to modify their rifle for the sake of improving reliability when in fact they will make the rifle less reliable with Wolf if they follow TacticalYellowVisors advice.  Here's a quote from their blog:
-make sure you have a 5.56 chamber. if you can't be sure of the chamber then have it reamed to be sure.
Wolf .223 is, well, .223 and not 5.56mm NATO.  Looking at the image above, you can clearly see that the box is marked ".223".  What this blogger is telling people to do will potentially make the rifle LESS reliable.

Wolf ammo can cause problems because of carbon build up in the chamber caused by the steel case not sealing completely against the chamber walls.  By reaming a .223 barrel to 5.56mm NATO you will increase the leade (throat) which in turn will allow even more carbon past the steel case allowing it to deposit in the chamber.  By following this bloggers advice, you will increase the likely hood of causing malfunctions, not reduce them.

Extractor mark on Wolf case.
The best advice someone can give you about running Wolf ammo is to do the following.  Buy a couple of boxes, take it to the range and shoot it.  Look for tell-tale signs of problems like the image to the right shows.  If you see damage like this on the spent cases, your rifle is out of time and will not be reliable.  If you don't see extractor marks such as this on your rifle, you're good to go and Wolf should run fine in your gun.

You may have problems with your rifle not cycling Wolf .223 as it's typically loaded to lower pressures than standard NATO 5.56mm and even much of the commercial .223 currently produced.  If you have an adjustable gas rifle like a Bushmaster ACR, FN SCAR, or even one of the gas piston AR conversions, simply add a little more gas until it cycles.  Generally speaking this shouldn't be necessary for most people using Wolf ammo.   I run Wolf in an assortment of 5.56mm and .223 rifles every week without issue.

In my experience Wolf ammo runs just fine in most modern rifles.  You will need to clean your rifle to maintain reliability, but firing 500-1000 rounds between cleanings isn't unheard of.  Wolf doesn't damage your rifle any more than brass cased ammunition does, so don't worry about firing it if everything checks out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Swiss to lose their rifles?

Swiss family enjoying their Sig 550
A news report posted Feb 9th, 2011 tells us that the Swiss are set to vote on a referendum that will outlaw ownership of military rifles (select fire), and pump action rifles, by Swiss citizens.   The Swiss have over 500,000 Sig 550 variants in private citizens hands alone, which is their standard military rifle.

The Swiss approach national security differently than most other 1st world nations, especially those in Europe.  Their standing army is relatively small and all men are required to serve in the militia.  Men from 18 to 34 years of age must obtain military training and then return home, as a member of the Swiss militia, with their rifles.  Only 5% of the Swiss army are professional (full-time) soldiers, the rest are conscripts in the militia.

The Swiss have a long history of firearms ownership and their country is often cited as an example of how private citizens owning military firearms doesn't necessarily increase crime.  Swiss crime has always been low, even for Europe, despite having millions of gun owners in a nation of only 8 million people.  Gun related murders totaled just 24 in 2009.

Why are the Swiss entertaining this legislation then?  The leftists behind the referendum claim it's to reduce the number of firearms related suicides.  Switzerland has the highest rate of suicide in Europe it's reported.

Here in the United States, we're all too familiar with these leftist anti-gun tactics.  We have our rights threatened every year by those on the left who claim they want to "save the children" or, more recently, to prevent violence against politicians.  All it takes is one shooting which gets national attention, and the proposed legislation begins to fly around the hall of Congress.  It seems the Swiss suffer from a similar phenomena in their small Alpine country.  Anti-gunners are the same all over.

I hope the Swiss are able to defeat this referendum and maintain their rights, not to mention keep their militia and thus national defense strong.  It seems the gun grabbers never worry about things like national security or personal safety in their never ending quest to grab guns.

I'll leave you with this video about Switzerland and their time honored tradition of firearms ownership.

The Swiss voted to keep their firearms.  News can be found here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Beretta ARX160 Rifle

Beretta ARX 160
Beretta is set to introduce a new 5.56mm military select fire assault rifle, they're calling it the ARX 160.

The ARX 160 is a polymer rifle that is similar in concept to the Bushmaster ACR.  When I say "similar" that's about as far as I would go in comparing the ARX 160 to anything else currently on the market.  But like the ACR it's mostly crafted from polymer as both the upper and lower assemblies are based on this modern material.

Here are a few of the impressive features of the ARX 160.
  • Polymer construction
  • Ambi-mag release
  • Ambi bolt release
  • Ambi ejection port (configurable)
  • Quick change barrel
  • Folding stock
  • Adjustable stock length
  • Ceramic heat shield
  • Pin-free disassembly
  • Full length top rail
Let's dig into some of the more interesting specifics.

First, the rifle is fully ambidextrous.  You can easily hit all of the controls from either side of the rifle.  You can also quickly change the location of the charging handle without actually disassembling the rifle.  You can also quickly change the ejection side from either left or right, again without disassembly.

Button for changing ejection side
Let's talk about how to change which side the rifle ejects from as I find this to be the most interesting new feature.  All that's required to change which side the rifle ejects from is a bullet tip.  Simply insert the tip of the bullet into the hole located just in front of the stock and push until it clicks. 

Once you do this, the rifle immediately starts ejecting from the opposite side of the rifle.  No other action is required.

Next, a nifty feature is the ability to quickly change which side the charging handle is on.  To accomplish this, simply lock the bolt to the rear and push the charging handle through the ejection port with your finger until it locks on the opposite side of the rifle.  The rifle has ejection ports on both sides of the receiver.  It's amazingly simple.  Again, no disassembly is required.

While rifles like the ACR and SCAR boast user changable barrels, Beretta takes simplicity to a new level.  The ARX 160 has a lever just in front of the magazine well that is similar in design to a Glock disassembly lever.   To remove the barrel, lock the bolt carrier to the rear, pull down on the lever (like a Glock) and pull the barrel free of the rifle.  That's it.

One of the biggest concerns regarding polymer rifles with polymer uppers (where the barrel mates to the rifle) is heat.  Rifles like the G36 have struggled with this issue since their introduction.  I've personally seen G36's damaged by heat.  With the ARX 160, a ceramic heat shield protects the rifle from damage and from what Beretta says, you'll melt the rifle barrel before you damage the polymer.

The good news is that Beretta plans to sell a semi-auto version of this rifle to the American public.  There's no release date as of SHOT Show 2011, but the rep at the show tells us that it will take place in "months not years".  Let's hope it makes it to market before any new gun laws are passed.  The Beretta rep at SHOT Show also told us that it will be "well below $2,000". 

At first I wasn't excited about this rifle based upon only seeing pictures of it. Now that I've learned the details, I can honestly say this looks like one very exciting rifle.