Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bump-Fire Wars to Heat Up?

Slide Fire Solutions SSAK47
Slide Fire Solutions was the first to come to market with an innovative bump-fire stock for the AR15 series of rifles which they called the SSAR15.  Their design is simple, light weight and works amazingly well.  As a testament to the innovative design, they have been selling their original SSAR15 stock as fast as they can make them.  Towards the end of 2011, Slide Fire Solutions introduced their new SSAK47 stock which performed the same bump-fire magic for the AK family of rifles.

Finger Stabilization Device
The concept of a bump-fire stock isn't new.  Bill Akins pioneered the concept with his Akins Accelerator stock for the Ruger 10/22 and SKS rifle back in 1998.  The Ruger 10/22 stock was sold to the public for a short time, about 200 units, before the ATF ruled the device was a machine gun and confiscated springs within the Akins stock that made it a machine gun under the law.  The SKS version never made it out of the prototype stage and was never offered on the commercial market.

Back in August of 2000, Bill Akins was awarded a patent on his bump-fire stock concept.  Bill contends that his patent covers the finger rest necessary for making bump-fire possible.  Bill has posted online that his patent protects this "finger stabilization device" and cites claim #19 of his patent.  All bump-fire stocks on the market rely upon this finger stabilization device to work.

Fostech Bumpski AK stock
In 2011 Bill Akins transfered the ownership of his Patent to Fostech Outdoors.  Fostech recently announced their Bumpski stock for the AK rifle as well as the AA2, which is a recreation of the original Akins Accelerator for the Ruger 10/22.  The AA2 lacks the spring found in the original Akins Accelerator and instead relies on isometric tension supplied by the shooters non-shooting hand.  This keeps the device legal in the eyes of the BATF.

On January 27th a press release went out from Slide Fire Solutions stating the US Patent Office had issued a Notice of Allowance (NOA) which states they are entitled to a patent under US law for their submission.

For immediate release 
January 27, 2012 
Moran, TX - Slide Fire Solutions, LP today announced that the United States Patent Office has issued a Notice of Allowance concerning its patent application "Method of Shooting a Semi-Automatic Firearm." The allowed patent claims will give Slide Fire exclusive rights to make and sell gun stocks that enable a shooter to repetitively discharge a firearm incorporating Slide Fire's sliding stock technology. 
"We are thrilled that the patent office has agreed that our invention deserves patent protection," said the inventor of the Slide Fire gun stock, Jeremiah Cottle. "We have several other patents pending based on the same technology, both in the United States and internationally. We are optimistic that the patent office will issue patents on those applications as well." Cottle is the president Slide Fire Solutions. 
About Slide Fire Solutions: Slide Fire Solutions is a privately held company based in Moran, Texas and owns all rights in its ground breaking "slide stock" technology. Building on principles of "bump firing," Slide Fire's invention allows a shooter to discharge a firearm such as an AR-15 or AK-47 as quickly as desired, without springs and without automatically functioning mechanical parts. The exclusive design offers many hours of entertainment for recreational shooters. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has concluded that the Slide Fire device is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act. 
For more information, please visit www.slidefire.com.
Laura Shackelford
Director of Operations
Slide Fire Solutions, Inc.
Since both Slide Fire Solutions and Fostech are now in possession of what appears to be conflicting patents to the laymen, one can only speculate what this might mean.

I will keep you posted of any new developments as I learn of them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Russian Service Rifle?

Russian Marine with an AK-74M
It is being reported that the Russian military will be adopting the new AK-12 rifle to replace the AK-74M service rifle.  The Russian military has been saying for some time now they wanted to move away from the AK-74M and adopt a more modern design. With the AK-12 it would appear they've found their replacement.

I haven't read any concrete reports that the Russian military has officially adopted the AK-12, so far only reports in the blogoshpere have surfaced.  If the reports are true, hopefully the western mainstream media will pick the story up and include more details.

Let's take a look at the features of the AK-12.

AK-12 Spec Sheet
  • The new rifle sports an ambidextrous forward charging handle.  This would seem to imply the operator can move the charging handle to either the left or right side of the rifle.  This is a feature found on modern western designs such as the Bushmaster/Remington ACR and FNH SCAR.
  • A smaller ejection port is being used.  I'm not clear on what the benefit is with this modification, I hope to learn more regarding this tweak to the design in the future.
  • A new ambidextrous selector switch allows the operator to select between safe, semi-auto, 3 round burst and full-auto firing modes while maintaining a firing grip on the rifle.
  • The rifle employs a hinged top cover which has become a popular aftermarket modification to AK rifles here in the US.  The Russians first employed this system with their AKS-74U rifle.
New AK-12 Rifle
  • The rifle has a monolithic rail that runs the full length of the receiver.  Rails are also present on the side and bottom of the hand guards.  It appears another rail, that isn't at the same height as the monolithic rail, is present on the top of the gas block just behind the front sight.
  • A new stock is used that is adjustable for length of pull and folds to the side for storage.  The pictures I've seen seem to indicate the stock will fold to the right side of the rifle, just under the ejection port leaving enough room for the operator to engage the trigger while it is folded.
  • A new pistol grip that appears to be larger than the AK-74M's "paint brush" grip is mounted to the rifle.  The contour of the grip reminds me of a Hogue grip.
  • A new muzzle brake is used.  It seems a bit long so it's not clear to me what additional functionality might be intended with this new device aside from being a brake.
  • The literature also indicates an "improved barrel rifling" is used. Again, it's not clear to mean what exactly this means.  I hope to learn more in the future.
It's being reported online that the new rifle will be available in 5.45x39, 5.56x45 (NATO) and a "heavy" caliber such as 7.62x51 (NATO).  If true, I find it interesting that the Russians would chamber their new service rifle in NATO calibers such as the 7.62x51 and 5.56x45mm while maintaining the 5.45x39 as their primary cartridge.

The new rifle leaves much to be desired in the aesthetics department, but functionality over form is the primary goal of any military arm.  The new rifle looks like an afterthought, as though the Russian designers were clinging to the basic AK design while trying to lump on as many modern features as they could.  This is the same path I fear the US government might take in choosing a new service rifle for the US Army.

I hope to have more information about this new rifle in the future.

UPDATE:  3/20/2012
I have it on good authority that the AK-12 will likely not be the next official Russian military service rifle.  The rifle is only a prototype and may not see full production and there has been little interest by the Russian military in adopting it.  At best the rifle may be sold as an export item assuming it ever goes into production.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Magpul PMAG announced

New PMAG 30 M3
Have you noticed lots of sales on the current generation of PMAG?  I have, and I've taken advantage of the price cuts to stock up on a considerable number of the popular magazines.  It would seem the sales were the result of Magpul clearing the way for the next generation of magazine.

The new magazine is called the PMAG 30 M3.  The original PMAG had a few issues that users brought to the attention of Magpul.  One of the most pressing issues, which ultimately spawned a separate product line known as the EMAG, was the incompatibility of the PMAG with foreign weapons systems like the SCAR, MR556A1 (416), SA80 and others.

If you're a subscriber to my YouTube channel you may remember a video I posted showing how to modify your PMAG to work with a SCAR 16S so that it wouldn't cause severe damage to the bolt of the rifle.  That was an extreme example of the incompatibility of the PMAG with some rifles designed to use standard STANAG M16/AR15 magazines.  If you're the proud owner of a HK MR556A1 you might have discovered your stash of PMAG's wouldn't seat in the rifles magazine well.

The original PMAG could be over inserted by forcibly slamming the magazine home causing the weapon to malfunction and in some cases making the extraction of the magazine very difficult.

The sides of the original PMAG's floor plates featured a wide ledge that made extraction from a double or triple magazine pouch difficult.

Ranger Plates
All of these issues have been addressed with the new PMAG 30 M3 magazine.  The new magazine is touted as being compatible with most rifles designed to use the M16/AR15 STANAG magazine.  The new magazine also features a new over travel stop to prevent it from being over inserted into the magazine well.  Finally, the new magazine has the ability to use different floor plates to suit your needs including the popular Ranger Plate or a new plate that is narrow for use in double or triple magazine pouches.

The magazine uses the same basic polymer construction with some design improvements to the geometry to improve durability and feeding reliability.  It also features a new paint pen dot matrix on the bottom of the magazine designed to allow the user to mark the magazines for easy identification.

The new magazine isn't on the market yet, it is planned for release in the spring of 2012.  No price has been set at this time.

Stay tuned for an evaluation of the new magazine once they release.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bushmaster ACR barrels about to drop?

The new Bushmaster catalog is listing (3) new barrels for the 5.56 rifle and (4) new barrels for the up and coming 6.8 SPC rifles on page 59.

New ACR barrels
The 5.56 barrels will be available in 10.5", 14.5", 16.5" and 18.5".  The new barrels do not have the M4 style profile and appear to have a slightly smaller diameter.  This promises to improve the balance of the ACR rifles by reducing the forward weight of the rifle.  The 10.5" and 14.5" barrels will feature 1/7" barrels with AAC Blackout flash suppressors (non-suppressor model) while the 16.5" will feature a 1/7" twist and a suppressor mountable AAC 51T flash suppressor.

The 6.8 SPC barrels will be offered in 10.5", 14.5", 16.5" and 18.5" lengths.  No mention is made of the rifling twist rate.  The 6.8 SPC barrels will all feature A2 style birdcage flash suppressors.

I'm looking forward to the release of these barrels in 2012 so I can finally SBR one of my ACR's.  I guess I better get that paperwork started now.

US PALM annouces new Quad Stack 7.62x39 AK Mag

US PALM Facebook post
US PALM posted on their Facebook page this week that they will be unveiling a new quad stack AK magazine made from polymer for the 7.62x39 cartridge.  The quad stack magazine is 1/8th of an inch shorter than the US PALM AK 30 magazine.  US PALM is pricing the new magazine at $99.95 which falls in line with the pricing of the new Surefire MAG-60 quad stack magazine for the AR15/M16.  The new magazine will be shown at SHOT Show 2012.

Russian 60 round 5.45x39 mag
A polymer extended capacity magazine for the AK isn't a new concept, the Russians have a similar magazine available for the AK-74.  The Russian magazine is designed to work with 5.45x39 rounds and holds 60 rounds.  US PALM is rocking the boat a bit by putting their twist on the Russian concept and designing it to work with the 7.62x39 cartridge.  The US PALM magazine will hold 45 rounds.

I hope these work well and sell well so that perhaps US PALM considers making a polymer 60 round 5.45x39 quad stack mag.  The Russian magazines are nearly impossible to get, only a few exist in the US and I suspect these came in through gray market channels.

I will be visiting the US PALM booth at SHOT Show and hopefully getting some pictures and video of this new product.

Stay tuned for our SHOT Show 2012 coverage starting next week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SHOT Show 2012 - Sin City here we come!

The MAC crew is headed out to Las Vegas in two weeks to attend the 2012 SHOT Show.  

You didn't just ask, "what is SHOT Show?"  Did you? 

For those that might not know what SHOT Show is, it's the largest firearms industry event in the country.  Manufacturers, importers and dealers of all types get together in Sin City to checkout new products, make deals and to meet each other face to face.  It's more fun than should be legal, or so I'm told.

This will be my first year going to SHOT Show.  Yes, it's true.  I've never gone before.  I've tried once, but that's another story from a past life... back when yours truly was dating a United Airlines flight attendant and she gave us a couple "companion passes" to fly down to the show.  The only problem was, there weren't any available flights!

Here we are in 2012 and we're doing things differently.  The tickets are purchased.  The hotel is booked.  The requests for interviews are collected.  We are going!  Kilgore and I will be there all week meeting many of the folks we've worked with over the past year and meeting plenty of new people as well.

What does this mean for the MAC Corps?  It means we'll be on the floor with cameras talking to leaders in the industry about stuff I know you're going to want to see and hear about.

Is there something you would like us to check into?  Swing by our online discussion board and post your request in our SHOT Show 2012 thread.

The journey begins on January 16th.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bumpfire Stock Wars

For the last year I've been following the development of two bumpfire stocks made by Slide Fire Solutions.  In 2011 they introduced the SSAR15 stock for the AR15 rifle, and I reviewed the stock on the Military Arms Channel soon after the introduction.

I found that the SSAR15 stock worked as advertised and I have actually been quite impressed with its performance.  I eagerly awaited the then rumored AK version to be released.  Just before Christmas on 2011, Slide Fire Solutions released their SSAK-47 XRS stock for the AK rifle.

I completed my review of the new SSAK-47 stock immediately after its announced release and once again found the device to work exactly as advertised.


Imagine my surprise when I learned just after New Years 2012 that another company named Fostech announced their own bumpfire stock.  The new stock is called the Bumpski and Fostech published a video on YouTube demonstrating the new device.

Of course this piqued my interest, so I started to dig around to find more information about this new stock.  There is one key difference between the two stocks, the Bumpski is made from aluminum vs. the plastic used in the construction of the Slide Fire Solutions devices.

Not much is known about the Bumpski just yet.  The stock isn't currently shipping but I've been told the first shipment should be heading out the doors at Fostech to dealers and customers by the end of January.

I was able to speak with Judd from Fostech who gave me a few details over the phone about the stock.  The body is in fact made from aluminum that is anodized black.  It is a drop in replacement for your existing fixed stock on your AK rifle.  It works using the same principals employed by the SSAR15 and SSAK-47 stocks.  The rifle is free to move forwards and back on the stock while the shooter keeps their firing finger fixed on a rest.  The recoil coupled with the forward pressure of your non-shooting hand causes the rifle to bumpfire controllably.  This process is demonstrated in the SSAK-47 review video above.

The SSAK-47 stock retails for $289.95 and the new Bumpski stock retails for $449.

Then I noticed that Bill Akins, the inventor of the Akins Accelerator, was posting on the Firing Line Forums about the new Bumpski stock.  Further investigation uncovered that Mr. Akins actually holds a patent on the key principals of the bump fire stock being used by both companies.  Mr. Akins has since transferred his patent to Fostech, the creators of the Bumpski stock.

Here is a post made by Mr. Akins on the YouTube video posted by Fostech of their new Bumpski stock.
kkibler1, Look up U.S. patent 6,101,918 that I invented and was granted a U.S. patent for on Aug 15, 2000. Pay particular attention to the claims in my patent most especially claim #19 regarding the finger stabilization stops. My patent is now an asset of FosTech Outdoors while Slide Fire Solutions does NOT have a patent of any kind. So you might want to rethink your above statement. It pays to research & know what you are talking about before posting.

BillAkinsProduction 11 hours ago

A quick search of the US Patent database does in fact return a hit on Bill's patent which was granted on Aug 15th, 2000. 

What does this mean?  In the short term it means we have two products to choose from.  In the long term does this mean Slide Fire Solutions and Fostech will become embroiled in an ugly legal dispute over the patent?  I certainly hope not.  I hope that both companies can enjoy success in the marketplace with their products.

I plan to do a complete review of the new Bumpski stock at the end of January.  Stay tuned!