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Meet the Colt Trooper: Oft-Forgotten Workhorse Wheel Gun

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 23:01

The Colt Trooper was billed as a heavy-duty no-nonsense swing-out cylinder revolver and it was popular across three decades. (All Photos:

First introduced in 1953, the Colt Trooper was a six-shot revolver that had a lot of style and remained in production for over 30 years.

Borrowing the company’s standard E-frame double-action revolver format from the Colt Officer’s Model, the Trooper was, when it was first introduced, something of an entry-level multi-purpose .38 Special. Complete with adjustable Accro-style rear sights and a “quick-draw” front ramp it was marketed towards police use, hence the name.

At introduction, the wheel gun was also produced in a similar-sized .22 LR with a 4-inch barrel that was sold as an economical “trainer” revolver. As with all E-frames, it had a hammer-mounted firing pin. At the time of its introduction, it was one of Colt’s least expensive medium-frame revolvers, costing about $71, while the Model 357 cost $75 and the Officer’s Model Match ran $79.50.

By the late 1950s, with the Colt .357 Model discontinued and the new premium Colt Python making headway with those who could spare the coin, the Trooper was likewise upgraded to a large I-frame format. With a frame-mounted firing pin, it was offered in .357/.38 with checkered walnut grips. In 1966, the price of the Trooper in .357 had risen to about $92, which was still a bargain as the new Python, with Colt’s Royal Blue finish, was $140 at the time. As such, it was the ideal companion for hunters or as a service weapon or for home protection.

This circa-1965 Colt Trooper is looking for a good home and is a good example of the I-framed 4-inch .357 Magnum variants offered at the time.

Meanwhile, this circa-1966 6-inch Trooper, also in .357 Mag, shows what the breed looked like when stretched out a bit

While the Python and the then-newly designed Diamondback had a high vent-rib full lug barrel, the Trooper kept its old-school thin barrel and distinctive ramped front sight. Well, for a while at least.

In 1969, the model was tweaked further with the introduction of the J-frame MK III standard, which had a coil mainspring and redesigned lock work to allow the guns to be more machine-fitted rather than hand-fitted. These guns had a very different profile from the earlier Troopers.

This Colt Trooper MK III in the Vault dates to 1981 and has a 6-inch barrel. Like most Troopers observed in the wild, it is in .357

The MK III Trooper was offered in .357, .38 Special, .22 Magnum, and .22 LR with a choice of 4-, 6-, or 8-inch solid-rib barrels. For those looking for an even more low-frills version of the Trooper, Colt produced a variant with fixed sights but retained the same profile, and marketed it as the 35-ounce Lawman for about 15 years.

One of these things is not like the others! Another circa-1981 Colt Trooper MK III, this beautiful revolver is chambered in .22 LR and carries a “Colt Guard” electroless nickel-plated finish, which was only offered by Colt in the early 1980s before the company switched to stainless steel.

By 1983, the Trooper was in its last days and had been re-engineered to the MK V standard, which saw the gun with a different frame and firing mechanism that incorporated a longer mainspring. These changes were billed as producing a gun that had a lighter, faster double-action trigger pull with advantages for police competition or target shooters. Nonetheless, the final Trooper was the last of the line and only stuck around in Colt’s catalogs until 1986.

Although Colt had brought back several past revolvers in recent years, such as the Python and Cobra, the Trooper remains on the retired list.

However, since they don’t have the same point on the radar with gun collectors as they aren’t “snake guns,” the humble Trooper hasn’t seen the same wild spike in prices that has bitten other Colt wheel guns of the same vintage.


Colt Troopers were made from 1953 through 1986, and are beautiful old-school wheel guns that are often overlooked.

For other rare, interesting, and just downright unusual guns, head on over to our Collector’s Corner, where history is just a click away! 

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Categories: Gun News

The ‘Elephant Gun’ from Finland: The 20mm Lahti L-39

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 05:00

The Lahti L-39 is a Finnish 20mm anti-tank rifle used during World War II. Nicknamed “Norsupyssy,” Finnish for “elephant gun,” it had excellent accuracy, penetration, and range for its time but its size made transportation difficult.


The L-39 was developed during the 1930s by Aimo Lahti, a Finnish weapons designer. He was kind of the John Moses Browning of Finland. He designed two competing anti-tank weapons — a 13.2mm machine gun and a 20mm rifle. After test firing both weapons, it was concluded that the 20mm rifle displayed better penetration power. In 1939, as World War II loomed over Europe, the L-39 went into production.

A soldier looks down the sights of an L-39 during WWII. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)


Almost as soon as it saw combat, it was obsolete. Although it could penetrate most tank armor during the 1930s, by 1940 tank armor beefed up and the gun was no longer effective. It was used very successfully for long-range sniping, tank harassment, and anti-aircraft. A fully automatic, double-barreled variant of the gun, called the 20 ITK 40 VKT, was developed and used as an anti-aircraft weapon.

Soldiers with an L-39. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)


The L-39 was, by all accounts, a superb weapon. It was a semi-automatic, gas-operated rifle with the piston located beneath the barrel. Ammunition was fed from a detachable top-mounted magazine. Spent casings were ejected from the bottom just in front of the massive trigger guard. Magazines held 10-rounds.

The rifle fired a 1,850-grain 20mm projectile at approximately 2,800 feet per second, which works out to something in the neighborhood of 32,000 ft.lbs of energy.

Recoil was not for the faint of heart. To reduce it, the barrel was topped off with a five-hole muzzle brake and ample leather padding on the shoulder brace. The wood jacket on the barrel acted as a liner so the barrel could be handled when it was hot.

Soldiers moving an L-39 into place. Note the skis of its sled mount and the large muzzle device. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)


The gun weighed 109 pounds and this made it difficult to move around easily. As a result, it was usually manned by a team of two. Due to the stiffness of the recoil spring, a rotating crank lever was used to pull the bolt back. Once back, a large button inside the trigger guard released the bolt and the L-38 could be fired. The bolt had to be released in this manner after every shot.

The front of the trigger guard was protected by a rubber buffer to shield the operator’s hands from the spent casings ejecting at high speeds. It was possible to lose a finger if a shooter’s hand got caught between the guard and an ejected casing. A metal sled acted as a bipod and pivot point.

A Lahti L-39 mounted on an M29 Weasel at the Green Mountain Boys machine gun shoot in Eden, Vermont. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


A total of 1,906 L-39s were manufactured by Finland. Some remained in service after WWII as anti-helicopter weapons, but an estimated 1,000 along with 200,000s rounds of live ammo were shipped to the United States as surplus for collectors. As they fire a round larger than .50 caliber, they’re considered destructive devices and are subject to the 1934 National Firearms Act.

A Lahti L-39 mounted on an M29 Weasel at the Green Mountain Boys machine gun shoot in Eden, Vermont. Photo: Ben Philippi/

Back in the 1960s, you could pick up an L-39 for as little as $99!! Included in that price were eight magazines, a snow sled mount, wooden crate, muzzle break, armorer’s tool kit, and spare parts. These days, there’s still a few Lahti’s available at auctions. Depending on condition and accessories, they sell anywhere between $5,000 and $12,000 — a big mark up from the 60s. It just goes to show that investing in guns can be an excellent idea.

Check out the Collector’s Corner.

An L-39 mounted on a Finnish Navy speed boat. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)

The Lahti L-39 being used as an anti-aircraft weapon in 1942.

An L-39 that has been camouflaged for winter warfare. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)

Soldiers with an L-39. (Photo courtesy: SA Kuva)

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Categories: Gun News

Taurus Introduces New Compact G3c 9mm Pistol

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 02:02

Taurus this week announced their newest 9mm polymer-framed striker-fired pistol, the G3c, pitched to personal defense and EDC users.

The $350-ish G3 was introduced late last year, essentially as a more full-sized version of the company’s successful G2c series pistols. Whereas the Glock G19-sized G3 runs a 4-inch barrel and 7.28-inch overall length, the new G3c is more compact due to its 3.2-inch barrel and resulting 6.3-inch overall length. Likewise, the smaller frame height trims the magazine well slightly, with the G3c able to use 10- or 12-round mags as well as the standard G3’s 15- and 17-round sticks.

Weight of the new Taurus G3c is 22-ounces, unloaded, and will be available with 10- or 12-round magazines, depending on state limits. It is just slightly larger than the Springfield Armory Hellcat but costs about $200 less. (Photo: Taurus)

While Taurus has its roots in Brazil, the company has been expanding in the U.S. for years and has a new production facility in Bainbridge, Georgia. (Photo: Taurus)

Standard features include dovetailed all-steel adjustable sights that are billed as “accepting common aftermarket” replacements– Rival Arms points out that most standard Glock-pattern sights work– as well as a Tenifer finished slide, Teflon-coated internals, and a stainless steel barrel. The gun also has both front and rear slide serrations and uses the Taurus 3rd Gen trigger, which has a flatter face and shorter reset.

Missouri-based Crossbreed Holsters announced this week they have several offerings for those looking to carry the new Taurus G3c compact. (Photo: Crossbreed)

The MSRP of the Taurus G3c is $305.74– a price that should drop into the high $200s at retailers– and the gun ships with three magazines, which is nice in a world where many companies often just want to toss in a single mag and charge for extras.

How does it shoot? Drew with Beyond Seclusion has an early 500-round review on the new 9mm, below.


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Categories: Gun News

Supreme Court Snubs 2A by Turning Away 10 Gun Cases

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 00:59

The U.S. Supreme Court this week denied nine of the 10 pending gun rights petitions without comment, with the only action seen on two of the nine justices saying they would have heard a case on carry rights in New Jersey, or, to be more accurate, the lack of them. (Photo: Chris Eger/

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up no less than 10 pending Second Amendment cases centered on gun rights appeals.

In their 57-page list of Orders released this week, the nation’s high court refused to accept cases backed by those who felt their right to keep and bear arms was infringed by odious laws in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. The cases included questions on “assault weapon” bans, strict “may issue” permitting schemes that reject far more applicants than they grant, and handgun sales.

In many cases, the appeals had been in the courts for years and continue the shut-out of Second Amendment challenges taken up by the court since 2010.

“It only takes 4 justices to take a case and there are 4 justices (Gorsuch, Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh) who are all on record saying the Court needs to take another Second Amendment case soon,” noted UCLA law professor Adam Winkler. “Those justices could have forced the Court to take one of the 10 cases but they didn’t.”

Speaking of Thomas and Kavanaugh, members of the court’s conservative wing, the justices went on record dissenting with the rest of the bench in one of the gun rights cases– a challenge brought by a business owner who services ATM machines in high-crime areas in New Jersey against the Garden State’s near-total prohibition on carrying a firearm in public as a violation of his Second Amendment right to bear arms. The two outlier justices said the case asked valid questions that the court should have answered.

“The question [of] whether a State can effectively ban most citizens from exercising their fundamental right to bear arms surely qualifies as such a matter,” said Thomas. “We should settle the conflict among the lower courts so that the fundamental protections set forth in our Constitution are applied equally to all citizens.”

While national gun control groups such as Brady, Everytown, and Giffords crowed their support of the court’s orders, firearms industry and Second Amendment groups showed their disappointment on the justices’ continued pattern of inaction.

“What is clear is the four associate justices could have likely voted to hear any of the ten petitions, but not all four chose to bring the cases before the court,” said Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President, and General Counsel. “It makes one wonder if one or more of the other conservative justices are disinclined to accept Second Amendment cases because they lack confidence that Chief Justice Roberts, the swing vote on these firearm-related cases, could be trusted to interpret the Second Amendment as written, or faithfully apply the precedence of the Heller and McDonald decisions, both of which he ruled in the (5-4) majority.”

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Categories: Gun News

California Assembly Shrugs off Shut Down, Passes Anti-Gun Bills

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 05:20

While Gen5 Glocks, like this G26, are available on the consumer market in most states, California will not approve it because it doesn’t meet the state’s “microstamping” requirements. (Photo: Chris Eger/

While most of the state has been shut down, California’s Democrat-controlled state Assembly is hard at work passing anti-gun legislation.

The body last week gave a thumb’s up to a pair of measures that would tack on a list of civil fines on Federal Firearms Licensees for what gun rights advocates contend are “inconsequential” errors and strengthen a law that effectively serves as a ban on modern semi-auto handguns.

The first bill, AB 2362, addresses how licensed gun shops in the state conduct business. The bill would impose a civil fine on such shops found to have made errors making them out of technical compliance with state regulations with fines ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per instance. The NRA contends the move is “an obvious attempt to drive dealers out of business for inconsequential violations.”

The second bill, AB 2847, changes California’s controversial “microstamping” law on handguns. Firearm industry groups argue the current requirement for semi-auto handguns to mark cartridges in two places with a microscopic array of characters, that identify the make, model and serial number of the pistol upon firing is “impossible to accomplish” and has only worked to artificially limit choices available to California gun buyers.

Nonetheless, while the proposed modification would adjust the microstamping requirement from marking in two locations to marking in just one, which seems like a relaxation, it would also delete several older models from the state’s currently shrinking roster of approved semi-auto firearms for each new model that is added.

“AB 2847 is an attempt to save a clearly unconstitutional law, and further restrict the rights of Californians by removing 3 handguns from the roster for every allegedly microstamp-compliant firearm added, no matter how expensive or obtainable that firearm may be,” says the Firearms Policy Coalition, who is opposing the bill.

The measures now proceed to the state Senate where other anti-gun bills are currently under review.

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Categories: Gun News

75mm of Freedom: M116 Pack Howitzer Maintains Its Thunder

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 05:00

The 75mm M116 Pack Howitzer was designed in the United States in the 1920s. It met a need for a compact artillery piece that could be moved across difficult terrain, replacing the 1900s-era Vickers Mountain Gun previously used for that purpose.


Having a total weight of just 1,340-pounds when combat-ready, it was light enough to be towed by a truck or jeep, however, that is not its best attribute. Typically referred to as the “Pack Seventy-Five” the gun was designed so that it could be broken down into several pieces to be carried by pack animals such as mules. Pieces weighed between 160- and 235-pounds each.

The M116 required a crew of six and could fire a shell up to 9,500 yards– a little over 5 miles. It had a muzzle velocity of 1,250 feet-per-second, which sounds low but keep in mind this was for a 14.7-pound shell. The rate of fire was 3-to-6 rounds per minute, depending on the hustle of the gun crew.

The gun saw combat in World War II with the U.S. Army, primarily by airborne units, with paratroopers using them either landed in the knocked-down form delivered via silk or as fully-assembled guns landed by gliders. A series of special “paracrates” was designed for the gun to be dropped in nine disassembled loads to include a starter-pack of 10 shells and support gear. Provided the airborne cannoneers could find all of the pieces to reassemble the gun quickly, they were in business. 

Original caption: “Artillerymen of 463rd Paratrooper Battalion prepare to fire 75MM Pack Howitzer in snow-covered position near Haguenau, France, 1945. This gun can be broken down into six pieces and dropped to the position by parachute.” (Photo: Pvt. William E. Miller/U.S. Army via Library of Congress)

The gun also proved useful in fighting on islands across the Pacific, where its small size came in handy on inland trails carved through the jungle. It was also supplied to foreign forces.

In addition to the U.S. Army’s Watervliet and Rock Island Arsenals, at least four commercial factories turned out M116 howitzers and their carriages during WWII– including General Electric who converted their Erie, Pennsylvania streetcar motor factory, above, to make the guns. (Photo: Library of Congress)

In all, some 4,939 of these handy howitzers were produced and the gun remains in service in some third world countries and ROTC units as saluting guns while over 75 are on display across the country, often in museums or in VFW parking lots– in demilled format. 

But some in private hands aren’t demilled.

Dom Spano (right) and his friend set up his circa 1943 G.E.-produced 75mm M116 Pack Howitzer at the Green Mountain Boys machine gun shoot in Eden, Vermont in 2014. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


The war-era G.E.-produced M116 featured in the video above belonged to Dom Spano. He collects artillery, military vehicles, and select-fire weapons. He brought his M116 to the Green Mountain Boys machine gun shoot in Eden, Vermont in July 2014. Although he never ran the serial numbers to see if his gun saw action in WWII, he was pretty confident that it had.

Civilian ownership of a working artillery gun, or destructive device, is regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, with exceptions for black powder cannon. It’s not unlike owning a machine gun or suppressor. You must live in a state that allows ownership of such items, have a Type 01 Federal Firearms License, (FFL) a Special Occupation Tax (SOT) to sell, and an ATF Form 4 (transfer of registration) with $200 tax stamp to purchase.

Solid 75mm rounds that were found in a scrapyard in Kentucky. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


Spano estimated the value of his M116 to be around $30,000. Many machine guns can cost far more than this. Finding ammunition is often the hardest part of owning a howitzer. The ammo seen in the above video was located. It had been lying around in the dirt and water for many years, hence the corrosion.

Shell casings can be fired many times. With a little tape, the rounds fit the cases. Primers need to be made. Then, just add powder and you’re all set to go. The only real moving part on Spano’s M116 was the recoil system. “As long as it’s maintained properly, the gun fires reliably and safely,” he said.

If you enjoyed the video above, below are a few more videos of large caliber weapons. Enjoy.

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Categories: Gun News

Rossi Introduces New Rio Bravo .22LR Lever Gun

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 03:09

Rossi bills that the Rio Bravo is suited for small-game hunting, target shooting, pest control, and youth training. (Photos: Rossi)

Rossi this month announced their new Rio Bravo lever-action rimfire rifle, based on their popular R92 series cowboy guns, chambered in .22 LR.

The hammer-fired rifle has an under-barrel magazine tube that holds up to 15 rounds of .22LR and is fed in much the same way as the familiar Marlin Model 60. With an 18-inch barrel, the overall length of the Rio Bravo is a handy 36-inches. Weight is 5.5-pounds and the carbine includes a cross-bolt safety and sling studs.

The traditional version of the Rossi Rio Bravo uses German beechwood furniture and has buckhorn sights. (Photo: Rossi)

Rossi plans on offering the Rio Bravo in two different versions. A traditional model, with German beechwood furniture rather than the company’s traditional Brazilian hardwood used on their other cowboy guns, will have buckhorn sights. A subsequent model with synthetic furniture will have a fiber optic front sight with an adjustable rear.

MSRP on the Rossi Rio Bravo .22 LR lever gun is $346.97, a price likely to drop into the ~$290s with retailers. It is not clear if the price for the synthetic/fiber-optic variant will be different.

Rossi firearms, a Taurus subsidiary, are increasingly manufactured at the company’s new Bainbridge, Georgia facility, although it is not known if the Rio Bravo will be produced in the Peachtree State.


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Categories: Gun News

Dealer Spotlight: Carroll’s Gun Shop in Wharton, TX

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 13:00

Carroll’s Gun Shop has been an institution since 1960. (Photo: Carroll’s Gun Shop/

John Herlitz is the owner of Carroll’s Guns Shop where, since October 2019, he has been serving the fine people of Wharton, Texas guns, and ammunition. To be clear, Carroll’s has been an institution in the town of Wharton since John Carroll opened it in 1960.

After serving Carroll as a sales rep for 20 plus years, Herlitz got the chance of a lifetime to take over the shop in 2019 and he didn’t pass.

We caught up with Herlitz to talk about what makes Carroll’s special, how helps move inventory, and why Texans love guns. What makes Carroll’s Gun Shop unique?

Herlitz: Well, 60 years of business in Wharton County. We have over 1,200 guns and a huge used gun department and we handle everything from police supplies to hunting stuff. We have probably a thousand knives in stock at any given moment. We have everything firearms-wise. We just sold a serial number one Gatling gun for $48,000 through in May. We probably have close to 75 WWI/WWII era 1911s. Everything from carried-issued Colt 1911s to some A1s to Union Switch & Signal. Just sold a 1912 U.S. Navy-marked gun that was untouched. You recently sold a Gatling gun through, what made you buy that?

The Gatling gun is all ready to ship from Texas to a new home. (Photo: Carroll’s Gun Shop)

Herlitz: It was actually on consignment. It was really cool, it worked like it’s supposed to. I put it up on, then one of your writers did an article about it in February. In April a gentleman, who’s a collector of U.S. field artillery pieces, read the article and decided that he wanted to own it. I mean, it’s exactly out of the manual on how that’s supposed to work. So great. What would your customers say they love about working with you guys?

Herlitz: Our customer service, our knowledge, and our selection. We’ll try to special order just about anything if we don’t have what they need. So we have a great collection. In the store, I have a combined 100 years of experience with Carroll’s. I have two employees that have been here since the mid-seventies. A couple of other guys’ve been here between 7 and 10 years. Couple that with my 20 plus years just in firearms experience, and we’re 125, 130 years of gun industry experience, and I only have five employees. Wow, that’s incredible! What do you like about working with

Herlitz: It’s just everything. We touch so many more people than we do just with our doors. And then we’re on a main artery between Houston and South Texas, so between Houston and Mexico. So, every single day, a half dozen or more people walk in that say, “Well, I just was driving by and never been here before” or “I’ve been driving by for years and I just never had time to stop” or something like that. With I can touch just so many more people and 24/7. When the sale is made, for the one flat commission rate that I pay, they handle the payment, absorb the credit card fee, and chase the FFL — which is probably the biggest pain in the butt of all internet sales. Then they email me the FFL and the shipping label. I just slap it on the box and go, and I’m done. It can’t get any easier.

Besides great guns, at great prices, Carroll’s also offers a wide variety of knives, like these Silver Stag Knives. (Photo: Carroll’s Guns Shop/ The guns that you sell through, do you find that you sell a lot local, or are they going all over the country?

Herlitz: They’re going all over the country. Every once in a while, we ship one 20 miles; but usually, it’s all over the country. Do you feel like people who live around you like shopping local more than shopping online?

Herlitz: I think so. I say that because I don’t get a lot of requests to receive guns that they’re buying online. Typically, it’s when somebody, and usually a regular customer, has found some used gun online or some rare new gun online that I can’t get or haven’t been able to get. They usually try to buy from us first. All right. Last question for you here. And it’s a little bit more abstract, I thought I’d end with a fun one. Why do you think Texans love guns so much?

Herlitz: The Alamo. Nice. That’s a good answer. I haven’t heard that one.

Herlitz: I mean, it’s in our DNA.

See all the guns that Carroll’s has to offer through by checking out their unique page.

Oh, you like HKs? Carroll’s has HKs. (Photo: Carroll’s Gun Shop/

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Categories: Gun News

Happy Flag Day: A Gallery of Patriotic Flags, and Guns

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 02:43

First designated in 1916, while the country was on the eve of World War I, Flag Day is June 14 and celebrates the good old Red, White, and Blue.

Less than a year after the country declared independence from King George III, the Continental Congress resolved the basics of the American flag on June 14, 1777, that it be of “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation,” and it was soon carried into battle at Brandywine just three months later. Recognized at sea on Continental Navy vessels the next year by foreign governments, there has been no turning back.

President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing the first national Flag Day in 1916 and, in 1949, President Harry S. Truman– who served in WWI– signed the Congressionally-approved national observance into law.

The 15-star/15-stripe flag was one of the country’s first, flown from 1795 through 1818. Americans fought under it in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812 where it was immortalized by poet Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, as The Star-Spangled Banner. There have been over 27 versions of the U.S. flag, with the current 50-star variant the standard since July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th state. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A Volant Eagle on the side plate of a Springfield Armory-produced rifled musket that was later converted to a cartridge breechloader. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Civil War reenactors with a popular variant of the 34-star U.S. flag. A 19th Century Massachusetts-born sea captain, William Driver, defiantly flew his old flag from his Nashville, Tennessee, house during the conflict, reportedly telling a mob that came to take it down, “If you want my flag you’ll have to take it over my dead body.” According to legend Driver was the first to term it, “Old Glory.” (Photo: Chris Eger/

The battle flag of the Civil War-era 28th Regiment Indiana Infantry (Colored) at the Indiana War Memorial (Photo: Chris Eger/

U.S. military firearms of WWI, including the M1903 Springfield, M1917 Enfield, Chauchat light machine gun, M1911 .45 Government Issue, and Colt and S&W-produced M1917 .45 ACP revolvers (Photo: Chris Eger/

U.S. military firearms of WWII, including the M3 Grease Gun and Thompson M1 submachine guns, the M1 Carbine, the “Liberator” single-shot .45ACP pistol, and M1911A1 .45 Government Issue, (Photo: Chris Eger/

Other U.S. WWII standards included the M1903A4 sniper rifle, M1 Garand rifle, and M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, all three in good old .30-06 Springfield. (Photo: Chris Eger/

U.S. martial arms from 1795 through the M16 (Photo: Ben Philippi)

A Mansfield, Ohio-made .45 by Hi-Point (Photo: Chris Eger/

So nice, you want to see both sides (Photo: Jacki Billings/

(Photo: Jacki Billings/

Nothing says, “America,” quite like an M1911, although it should be noted that this one is by way of Brazil (Photo: Chris Eger/

Speaking of Taurus (Photo: Chris Eger/

Notably, Taurus has opened a new production facility in Georgia and is making more guns in the U.S. these days. (Photo: Chris Eger/

A 2nd Amendment-themed 1970 Vette designed by Danny “The Count” Koker of the TV show “Counting Cars,” and owned by Andy Ross, musician, and host of “Maximum Archery” on Sportsman Channel. (Photo: Chris Eger/

(Photo: Ben Philippi)

(Photo: Ben Philippi)

(Photo: Ben Philippi)

Branden Spear holding his Mossberg 930 12-gauge shotgun in front of his patriotic house in Cambridge, Maryland. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

A popular trope is that on U.S. military bases the flagpole’s finial– the golden ball at the top of the pole–contains a razor, a match, and a bullet, just in case the base falls, so that the banner doesn’t fall into enemy hands. (Photo: Chris Eger/

(Photo: Jacki/Billings)

A memorial to Vietnam Vets somewhere in the California desert (Photo: Ben Philippi)

As noted by our video editor, Scott Gara: “The American flag laid over my grandpa’s casket before he was laid to rest. He was a veteran of WWII and ran a merchant store of a cargo ship in the Pacific theater.” (Photo: Scott Gara/

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Categories: Gun News

How to Clean an AR-15

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 04:30

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Maintenance and cleaning of a firearm will extend the life of your gun and increase its overall reliability and safety. If you are new to the AR platform and need a little help cleaning it, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are cleaning the AR-15 and similar variants.

There are some variations from one model to another, so if you have any concerns, check the manual from the manufacturer.

Steps to Clean an AR-15
  • Remove magazine and ammunition and clear the gun
  • Separate upper and lower receiver
  • Remove bolt carrier and charging handle
  • Clean barrel and upper receiver
  • Disassemble and clean the bolt carrier
  • Clean and inspect the lower receiver
  • Lubricate and reassemble the rifle
  • Function test
  • Store your AR-15
Tools You’ll Need
  • Gun mat or proper surface to clean the rifle
  • Cleaning patches and/or rags
  • A bore-guide, preferably for the AR-15
  • Cleaning rod with nylon brushes or jag. A bore snake also works.
  • Gun cleaning solvent — the brand of your choice, as long as it’s made for cleaning guns
  • Gun lubricant — the brand of your choice as long as it’s recommended for firearms

Now that we have everything we need, it’s time to get our hands dirty.

1. Remove ammunition, magazines, and clear the rifle

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

This is the very first step for a reason! Too many accidents happen when weapons are being cleaned so make sure ALL ammunition is removed from the rifle. Magazines and ammo should be moved away from your cleaning area — preferably in another room. Once ammo and mags are removed from the area, be sure to check the rifle’s chamber visually and manually before proceeding to the next step.

2. Separate upper and lower receivers

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Once the rifle has been confirmed clean, the bolt and hammer can be released. It’s important to do this step because the upper and lower receivers cannot be separated with the bolt back and hammer up.

From here, you will remove the front and rear takedown pins that hold the receivers together. Start with the rear pin and push it out of place. The entire upper receiver should pivot upwards. Next, push out and remove the front pin. Once both pins are out, the upper and lower receiver should separate easily.

3. Remove bolt carrier and charging handle

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

The bolt carrier should slide right out of the breech of the upper receiver. Be careful not to drop it and make sure no parts fall out as you remove it.

The charging handle is removed afterward by bringing it to the rear, then guiding the front portion of the handle through a designated wide spot to free it from the upper.

4. Clean the barrel and upper receiver

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Tools: Rag, bore guide, cleaning brush, gun cleaning solvent, gun oil

Use a rag to remove grease and grime from the upper receiver, using caution when working near the gas tube so as not to damage or plug it. Remove any excessive carbon buildup you find along the way.

Install the bore guide into the receiver and put the upper receiver assembly in a firm and stable position. Using a solvent soaked patch, pass the cleaning brush through the bore of the barrel from breech to muzzle. This may take some effort depending on the friction generated between brush and bore.

Repeat this process until patches come out of the muzzle with no contaminates. Once the bore is clean, pass an additional patch — this time soaked in gun oil — to lube and protect the bore.

Use either a rag or chamber brush to clean out the chamber and barrel extension to free it of any carbon or debris.

5. Disassemble and clean the bolt carrier

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Tools: Rag, gun oil, small tool

Disassemble the bolt carrier by removing the cotter pin with a small tool (like an Allen wrench) and set the cotter pin aside. Once the pin is removed, allow the firing pin to fall out of the back end of the carrier. Set aside with the cotter pin. With the firing pin removed, rotate the cam-pin 90-degrees so it rests at the 11 o’clock position from the bolt. Remove it from the bolt carrier. With the cam-pin gone, the bolt can be pulled out of the front of the carrier.

Inspect the bolt, spiral gas rings, firing pin, and cam pin for carbon buildup, excessive wear, or damage. Lastly, inspect the carrier itself for buildup or wear and tear. Ensure the gas tube screws are tight and still staked, if applicable.

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Once all parts have been cleaned and inspected, they can be lubricated with a light coat of gun oil on the contact points and reassembled.

Clean the charging handle with a rag and then lubricate with gun oil before reassembly with the upper receiver.

6. Clean and inspect the lower receiver

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Tools: Rag, gun oil, small tool

With a rag, wipe out any excess grime from the receiver. The magazine well can get dirt and carbon in all the low spots so wipe them out as well.

Inspect the trigger mechanism — ensure all springs, keepers, and pins are still in place. Remove any excess lubricant or buildup. The trigger well is the low spot that will catch most of the crud that flies around inside the rifle during shot strings, so clean this area thoroughly.

Ensure the safety functions properly and remove any debris that could cause it to malfunction.

Inspect the magazine release for proper function and remove any dirt or contaminants that may inhibit its function. Do the same for the bolt catch, making sure it pivots freely. Clean any buildup and lubricate it lightly before reassembly.

Remove the buffer from the buffer tube by depressing the detent with a small tool. Inspect the buffer and spring for damage or contaminants. Remove any debris or buildup and wipe down the inside of the tube to ensure it’s clean.

Reinstall buffer and lubricate all points on the trigger assembly and any other moving parts you may have missed before reassembling the rifle.

7. Lubricate and reassemble the rifle

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Reinstall the charging handle and bolt carrier into the upper receiver. Make sure the bolt carrier is all the way forward and bolt is in battery. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the hammer is back and held by the sear.

Assemble the two receivers and hold tight against each other while pushing the takedown pins back into place.

8. Function test after assembly

(Photo: Jeff Wood/

Now that the rifle is clean and back together, it’s important to function test. Check the safety for proper rotation to all positions. Pull the charging handle back to make sure it moves all the way to the rear with no stops or tight spots. Upon releasing the charging handle, the bolt carrier should slam shut completely into battery.

With the rifle still clear of any ammunition, point the AR in a safe direction and check the trigger function by pulling the trigger. Ensure the trigger resets properly by holding the tripped trigger to the rear and recharging the rifle. The trigger should reset.

If everything works as it should, the rifle is ready to put away.

9. Store your rifle

After cleaning your AR-15, it’s time to store it in a safe, dry place. A gun safe with a dehumidifier is best, but anywhere that is secure with stable temperature and low humidity will do.

Ready to add to your AR collection? Head over to and check out our extensive array of AR-15 rifles.


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Categories: Gun News

Plinking with the Browning Challenger III

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 04:00

If an old school plinker is your desire, the Browning Challenger III could be the gun for you. Made between the 1960s and 1980s, the Challenger was created in response to the Ruger Mark II. Up until that point, .22 LR pistols were primarily made for hunters; but the Ruger Mark II and Browning Challenger changed that, marketed towards recreational shooters.

Browning Challenger III Specs

In looking at the aesthetics, one can see an attention to detail in its styling — a contrast to predecessors. Rounded beavertail, curves cut in the slide, and a unique stepped sight all lend to a more pleasing appearance. In true Browning style, it also has the iconic gold trigger and medallion.

The Challenger III sports 10-round mags. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

The 5.5-inch bull barrel is coupled with target sights while the rear sight is adjustable. It’s worth noting, the front sight is stationary. Interestingly, the rear sight is attached to the barrel to improve accuracy, which does make racking the slide very awkward. The bottom-fed magazine is true to its era with 10 rounds. The alloy frame, however, was innovative for the time. Hefty in the hand at 35-ounces, the weight does help when steadying on distant targets and transitions.

Shooting the Browning Challenger III

How was it on the range? The Challenger feels nice in the hand and the grip angle is natural. I tested the Challenger on an array of steel plates and noticed that transitions and precision shots were easy. It felt like an extension of the hand.

The trigger has a long pull and is on the heavier side, compared to other .22 LR match pistols. I adapted to this quickly and feel this pistol would be a great one for beginners. In fact, there are endless stories about the Challenger being the first pistol for many.

The Challenger feels nice in the hand. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

For all its perks, the Challenger is ammo sensitive. I had to go through a variety of ammunition to find what worked best. Keep in mind, though, .22 LR is notorious for being finicky so this was no surprise. I started with my trusty ole Remington Bucket O’ Bullets, which is a less expensive high velocity round. Unfortunately, Remington didn’t work so well. I bumped it up to high-velocity CCI rounds which didn’t yield different results.

Moving down in velocity to 1,240 FPS with Federal helped smooth out some issues but it wasn’t perfect. Finally, I discovered with standard velocity 1,200 FPS Federal ammo, the Challenger performed best. It seems this gun prefers standard velocity rounds, most likely because when the pistol was first introduced high-velocity rounds were not prevalent.

Final Thoughts

(Photo: Taylor Thorne/

This classic .22 LR pistol is sure to please. The Browning Challenger III is a staple in the plinking world, capable of sporting, hunting, and bullseye shooting. Replaced eventually by the popular Buck Mark, the Challenger is still a fun throwback living up to its name.


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Categories: Gun News

Springfield Armory Grows Hellcat Micro Compact Line to Include FDE

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 02:32

For those who have been holding out for an FDE Hellcat, your ship has come in. (Photos: Springfield Armory)


One of the most popular micro-compact 9mm pistols in the country isn’t just available in black anymore as Springfield Armory announced this week an FDE desert flat dark earth Hellcat option is now a thing.

Debuted originally last September in black only, the Hellcat is the Illinois-based company’s answer to Sig Sauer’s P365 series. Using a 3-inch hammer-forged barrel– which translates to a 6-inch overall length while standing just 4-inches high– the 18.3-ounce pistol offers an 11+1 capacity in a flush-fit magazine. This can be stretched to 13+1 with an extended mag that bumps height to 4.5-inches.

The expansion now means the Hellcat is offered in black or FDE and in standard or optics-ready models. (Photo: Springfield Armory)

Now, the same gun is available in FDE in addition to the legacy black frame/slide and is offered in both a standard and OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) configuration. The latter uses a milled slide intended for micro red dots such as the JP Enterprises JPoint and the Shield RMSc.

“The Hellcat was an immediate hit upon its release late last year, offering shooters and CCW enthusiasts a paradigm-shifting combination of high-capacity and compact size as well as the ability to mount an optic,” said SA in a statement this week.

Our own Jacki Billings has been testing and evaluating a Hellcat for the past few months and has a rundown on the platform in the below video review.


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Categories: Gun News

NRA: 2020 Annual Members Meeting Rescheduled for September

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 01:15

The 2015 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits at Nashville’s Music City Center saw 78,865 in attendance over a three-day period (Photo: Chris Eger/

The National Rifle Association this week announced the previously canceled annual member’s meeting is back on but with a new date and location.

The 149th Annual Meeting of Members had previously been scheduled for April in Nashville, Tennessee but was canceled several weeks prior due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NRA this week posted on social media that the event has been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5, and will now be held at the Springfield Exposition Center located in downtown Springfield, Missouri.

“The Meeting with take place in Halls A/B/C of the Expo Center and commence at 9:00 a.m. Central Time,” said the group. “All members are invited to attend.”

The Springfield Expo Center boasts some 170,000 sq. ft. of space and is smaller than Nashville’s Music City Center where the NRAAM was originally set to be held earlier this year. The rescheduled event will likewise be a more scaled-down affair than originally planned. While the NRA’s meeting last year in Indianapolis featured 880 exhibitors and vendors and drew over 80,000 attendees, the Springfield Visitors Bureau told local media that between 1,000 and 1,250 people are expected to attend the September members meeting.

The NRA, founded in 1871, boasts over 5 million members.

“But with their bylaws, they still have to have their membership meeting,” Dana Maugans, director of sales with the Springfield Visitors and Convention Bureau, told the Springfield News-Leader. “They are going to have their membership portion of the meeting here. But it will not be nearly as large as the convention trade show that was planned.”

Maugans said the down-sized event will still likely bring almost $1 million to the city.

The next scheduled event is the 150th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston, Texas, May 14-16, 2021, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where the group last met in 2013.

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Categories: Gun News

National Range Day Encourages Black Guns Owners to Head to the Range

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:00

National Range Day encourages black gun owners to head to local ranges for a fun day celebrating gun ownership. (Photo: Tig Davis)

National Range Day looks to promote black gun ownership through education and training nationwide on June 13. The range event invites black gun owners to come together at local ranges to train, learn, and meet other gun enthusiasts and instructors.

Organizer Marchelle “Tig” Davis of My Sister’s Keeper said this is an excellent opportunity for new gun owners and seasoned veterans to network, shop for guns, and even sign-up for future gun-related classes with local instructors. In addition to promoting gun ownership, Davis hopes the movement can also dispel stereotypes.

“In light of recent events, I thought it necessary to create a national movement to encourage all African Americans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. We feel that our right to bear arms enforces and protects our right to free speech,” Davis said in a news release. “This day will defeat stereotypes regarding black gun ownership and signify a major shift in US gun culture.”

Marchelle “Tig” helping a student in a handgun class. (Photo: Tig Davis)

Tiffany Showers of Girls Get Tactical LLC based in Florida said education and creating a welcoming experience for gun owners is vital, which is why she is participating in the event.

“I myself am African American, and I think it’s important for the African American community to participate in National Range Day. Many in my community want to get into firearms and exercising their 2nd Amendment rights but don’t know where to start,” Showers explained to via email. “My fellow instructors and I will be there to walk you through steps, give tips, take tours of the range, and even give on the spot classes. Our job is to create a safe and inviting encouraging environment for all!”

(Photo: Tig Davis)

Those interested in celebrating National Range Day should contact local instructors for details on the event. If you don’t see an instructor or business listed nearby, contact the National African American Gun Association. Attendees are also encouraged to wear all-black and use #nationalrangeday to spread awareness on social media.

For more information, head to My Sister’s Keeper for a list of participating black-owned firearms businesses.

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Categories: Gun News

My First Gun: Mason Summers Talks the CZ 513

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 05:00

COVID-19 has a lot of people stuck indoors and, as a result, many of us sit around with our loved ones reminiscing on pre-pandemic times. As I sat in my home surrounded by my family, I began to recall my early days of shooting my first gun. My son Mason jumped into the conversation detailing the first gun I gave him — a CZ 513 chambered in .22 LR.

Check out the video above to hear all about it and see who returned home with an extra $20 in his pocket after a friendly shooting competition.


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Categories: Gun News

Seven Great Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 04:30

Father’s Day is right around the corner on Sunday, June 21. What better way to show your appreciation than with a gift or two? has a vast amount of potential gifts. We took the liberty of putting together a little list to give you some ideas.

The Ruger Wrangler. A six-shot single-action .22LR revolver. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/


Ruger made headlines earlier this year when they released the fun and affordable single-action six-shot .22LR revolver called the Wrangler. At $200, it’s hard to beat.

Revolvers have always had a place in the heart of shooters. What better way to spend an afternoon with dad than picking cans off a fence line or seeing who can do better on a paper target from 25 yards? The only thing more American would be shooting while eating a piece of apple pie. Revolvers are timeless, much like diamonds, only cheaper, and better.

Available in three Cerakote colors, silver, burnt bronze, and black, the finish is designed to last many years of use. And course it fires the affordable .22 LR ammo, of which we plenty for sale here.


Check out our Ruger Wrangler review below.

DANIEL DEFENSE RIFLE had the pleasure of visiting the Daniel Defense factory a few months ago in Black Creek, Georgia. Although they’ve only been making guns for 20 years, they’ve risen to join the ranks of household names such as Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger. Their attention to detail and customer service has helped make them successful. In 2018, they sold upwards of 40,000 rifles. Their success has allowed them to purchase state of the art machinery and move into a 300,000 square foot factory. They make almost every single part of their rifles in the USA.

The Daniel Defense DDM4V9.

Whether it be one of their AR rifles such as the DDM4V9 pictured above, or their brand new Delta 5 bolt action rifle pictured below, they deliver quality firearms. The Delta 5 is available in .308 Win, 7mm Express, and 6.5mm Creedmoor. They’ve taken the modularity of the AR platform and integrated it into the bolt action rifle. It has an interchangeable cold hammer-forged barrel and user-configurable stock. It features a Timney adjustable single-stage trigger, Picatinny scope base, and a three-lug bolt with a 60-degree throw.

If you want to reach out and touch dad’s heart, the Delta 5 is a guaranteed bullseye.

The Daniel Defense Delta 5 rifle. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/


See our Select-Fire Daniel Defense factory tour below.


Barnes VOR-TX rifle ammo.

Why not prepare for the fall hunting trip now with the gift of a box of good quality hunting ammunition in the caliber of your father’s favorite rifle? always has an extensive supply of hunting ammo in stock and ready to go. Click on the link below and then use the filter on the left side of the screen to select your caliber, manufacturer, and so many more options to narrow down your search until you have just what dear old dad would want.


We even put together an article on the best ways to store your ammo. If done properly, it will last for many years.


From left to right. A Butler Creek 25-round magazine for the Savage A17. A Magpul PMAG D60. An Amend2 A217 mag for Glock 43.

You can never go wrong with the gift of magazines to keep that favorite firearm well fed. has a huge selection of all shapes and sizes. Whether it be a 25-round Butler Creek magazine for the Savage A17 rifle, a 60-round Magpul PMAG D60 magazine for your AR-15, or a 6-round Amend2 A217 magazine for you Glock G43, we got your covered. Just remember to keep your state’s capacity laws in mind before ordering. If you live in a state that doesn’t have any, high-five a bald eagle and keep in touch with your lawmakers to make sure it stays that way. 

To find the perfect Father’s Day magazine, click on the link below and choose from the filter on the right side to find exactly what you’re looking for.



Leupold BX-1 8x42mm binoculars.

It’s always nice to carry a lightweight and compact pair of binoculars when walking outdoors. You never know what you’ll see. As many of us know, Leopold makes fantastic firearm optics, but they also make superb binoculars.

The BX-1 is a compact binocular that features a BAK4 roof prism. The glass is crystal clear and the rubberized exterior offers excellent grip.

In general, anything over 8x in binoculars starts to get jittery without utilizing a support of some kind, so these are around the upper end of that range. Further, the 42mm lenses allow in a good amount of light allowing these binoculars to be used in low light conditions. It’s the perfect combination for hand-held binoculars.



The Remington No. 1 .22 short rifle cane (right) next to a photo of Abram Hewitt, circa 1865.

If your father is a distinguished gentleman who’s fond of pets, why not splurge on a Remington No.1 rifle cane long shaft chambered in .22 short with a dog’s head on the handle?

These were quite common in the 1850s. This particular cane is stamped in 1872. These are very rare, especially in good condition like this one. The shaft measures 36.5-inches from the bottom to where the handle starts to curve. There is a button to fire the single-shot .22 short bullet from the end of the cane. Serial number 1453 which is marked in three places and all numbers match. It doesn’t get much fancier than this.


CLASSIC ENAMEL GUNS.COM MUG enamel metal camper mug.

Last but not least, here is a classic and always handy old-school enamel camper mug for your consideration. This rugged little mug is perfect for camping and home. On one side, it’s got the’s name and logo, and the other sports the classic target of a bad guy. It holds 16-ounces of coffee or whatever else you might want to put in it.


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Categories: Gun News

What to Look for When Buying an AR-15

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 03:19

If you know that you want an AR-15 but don’t know what to look for, or what all the terms mean, it can get confusing. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Over the past 60 years, the AR-15 has become “America’s rifle” and grown exponentially in popularity. Here is how to pick a good one.


First, as the AR platform is perhaps one of the most modular firearms in history, these guns are available in formats to appeal to a wide array of users. Choose a gun that fits your needs. If you are looking for a hunting arm, there are several ARs built specifically to fit that market in calibers such as 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC, and .300 Blackout. For those looking for a target shooter, heavy-barreled guns with 20-inch barrels abound. A good general-purpose sporter? Look for something more like a $600 entry-level S&W M&P15 or Ruger AR 556 with a 16-inch barrel and M4-style stock. Some people collect PEZ dispensers and pay more than that. Want something more compact? AR pistols can fit that bill.


The AR-15 first hit the consumer market in the U.S. over 50 years ago, as witnessed by this 1963 Colt ad. (Photo: Chris Eger/

One top thing to avoid when it comes to buying an AR-15 is to steer clear of unsolicited advice that is arbitrary when it comes to brand names. For example, Armalite designed the rifle in the late 1950s and sold all the rights to Colt, who was the leading producer of these guns in both select-fire and semi-auto formats for more than two decades. Does this mean that Colt’s AR-15s are the pinnacle of AR-15 development? Not necessarily. Likewise, do not turn an inexperienced nose up at a so-called “bottom shelf” AR brand just because owning one would be something “the poors” do.

When it comes to choosing these guns, the components, how they are mated together, and how the company stands behind their work is everything. So, let us get into that.

Barrel length and type

It is not rocket science, the longer the barrel on a firearm the chances are higher that a cartridge will have more complete propellant burn and impart the maximum velocity to the bullet. In short, longer barrels wring more performance. This has been extensively tested by a number of big brain guys in the firearms industry when it comes to 5.56 NATO-caliber firearms and it seems like there are somewhat diminishing returns in barrels longer than 24-inches and a nosedive in ballistics in those below 14.5-inches in length. As such, splitting the difference with a 16-to-18-inch barrel is something of a sweet spot for 5.56 with the 20s providing a good length for those who are aiming for more of a target rifle.

Barrel profile is also a subject that is up for debate for the rifle’s purpose, with lighter “pencil” barrels offering decent practical accuracy while keeping the gun light, and heavier profile barrels better geared for work at a distance. Most common ARs on the commercial market today have barrels made of 4140 chrome-moly steel– which most users will never put enough rounds through to shoot out– while those advertised as being “mil-spec” will typically be made of stronger MIL-B-11595-E chrome-moly or 4150 steel. Target-style barrels will usually be of 416/410 stainless. Chrome lined or nitrided barrels will last longer.

This all brings us to…

Twist rate?

Any rifled barrel has a “twist rate” which is simply a way to determine the degree of spin imparted on a projectile that passes through it. Measured typically in inches, a 1-in-7 twist rate just means that the rifling will spin a bullet fired through it one complete revolution every 7-inches. Relax, there isn’t a test on this later, just keep in mind that lighter bullets work better on a looser twist while heavier bullets perform better on tighter barrels with faster rifling.

This M16A4 style semi-auto clone uses a 20-inch stainless barrel with a 1:7 twist rate and is ideal for heavier loads. (Photo: Chris Eger/

For example, when it comes to AR-15s firing 5.56 NATO rounds, a heavy 77-grain bullet would perform better in a gun with a 1-in-7 twist and be less than optimal in one with a 1-in-12 twist rate. Likewise, light bullets, such as a 55-grain load, works great in a slower twist rifle such as a 1-in-12 but starts declining in performance in a tighter barrel such as a 1-in-7. All of this goes back to satisfying the purpose you are buying the AR for and then matching your ammunition selection to your gun of choice.

Lower and Upper construction

Keeping in mind that the AR-15 came originally from a gunmaker that was a subsidiary of an aerospace company, it should surprise no one that the upper and lower receivers of the rifle were made from aluminum, typically billed by makers as being “aircraft grade.” In a nutshell, 6061 aluminum is less expensive while 7075 is stronger. Likewise, buyers will also see receivers listed as being either “forged” or “billet,” meaning they are either produced by hammering two receiver halves together or milling one from a single piece of aluminum, with each having their fans.

AR uppers and lowers usually start as a lump of aluminum and evolve into something more ballistic (Photo: Chris Eger/

Almost all ARs these days have M4 feed ramps, which is something you want.

Polymer AR lowers have also been in circulation for years, with mixed reviews when compared to aluminum lowers, especially for heavy use in centerfire guns.


No, this doesn’t have anything to do with glasses. The bolt carrier group, or BCG, of an AR platform does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to how it performs. Heavier mil-spec BCGs, sometimes listed as “full-auto” although they do not violate NFA rules when used in a semi-auto AR, can help provide better lock time and reduce wear and tear as they have more mass. Lighter competition bolts also have their place.

The construction of a BCG will range across alloys from 8620 steel, to 9310 and Carpenter 158 steel, and finally to S7 tool steel with tensile and yield strength increasing– along with cost– across that range. Does that mean that 8620 is junk? Not by any means as it is typically seen as being mil-spec for bolt carriers. When used in a bolt itself will 8620 hold up as long as a C158 bolt? Probably not. Keep in mind that the tougher the steel used means the longer the BCG will last, and the BCG is a typical failure point on an AR once you get past 1,000 rounds.

The BCG is the heart of an AR. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Added to this are “enhanced” bolts that use more exotic coatings like DLC, titanium nitride, chrome, and nickel boron with updated profiles. This contrasts with most standard bolts that have a dull black manganese phosphate coating. More than just being pretty, enhanced bolts are more on the high-performance end.

To make sure a BCG is thoroughly tested, check to see if the bolt itself is shot-peened for surface strength, high pressure tested for shock resistance, and magnetic particle inspected for integrity– processes typically listed as SP, HPT, and MPI. Further, gas keys should use grade 8 screws (not “YFS” screws) that are properly staked.


Throughout most of the existence of the AR-15, the platform came standard with a two-piece A1 or A2 style plastic handguard, with and without a heat shield strip on the inside, that didn’t allow for much in the way of customization or support for accessories like lights and bipods. While this old -school style of handguard is still popular with DCM rifles for competition or those seeking an increasingly popular “retro” look, ARs these days are typically offered with a free-floating accessory rail that provides for adding everything under the sun.

Handguards and rails on ARs can get pretty varied. (Photo: Chris Eger/

While KeyMod mounting systems had the early jump in this field, they have been losing ground to Magpul’s M-LOK system which has become the de facto standard, even in the military.

Speaking of rails, ever since FN produced the M16A4 for the Marines in 1987 with a removable handle and full-length M1913 Picatinny top rail for optics and back-up iron sights, such a format has become the benchmark for ARs except for throwback builds.


Unless buying a high-end AR, most commercial guns on the market today are offered with a “standard” or “mil-spec” trigger which generally breaks in the range of 5.5-to-8.5 pounds. For seasoned users, these triggers are often described as “heavy” with a good bit of creep. However, they are a good baseline for ARs, which is probably the reason why gunmakers put them on their entry-level offerings. Should you want something better and more responsive, there are seemingly dozens of aftermarket trigger makers including CMC, Geiselle, Rise Armament, Timney, and others that cut the pull weight down to as low as 2-pounds while offering a much crisper break.

In closing

With all that in mind, sit down and look at what you want from your prospective AR, then identify those attributes and begin your search for a platform– be it a rifle, carbine, or pistol– that best suits those needs. A little homework will help you with that selection and save you from either under- or over-buying. With so many options out there these days, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find something that checks the boxes and is still tough enough to get it done.

Then again, you can always explore AKs.


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Categories: Gun News

Henry Model X: The Old West Gets a Modern Flare

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 07:45

The Henry Model X was teased in 2018 but is now finally a reality. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

In 2020, Henry released the Model X which was, quite simply, a tactical lever-gun. Gone are traditional lines and materials in exchange for features more suited to home defense or truck gun scenarios. Want to mount a light? There’s M-LOK for that. Fiber-optic sights? Yep. Picatinny rail? Yep. Threaded muzzle? Hallelujah!

I’ve served in law enforcement for over 20 years and was a SWAT team commander for a while; therefore, the tactical side of my mind runs pretty deep. Appreciation for gear, tactics, and weapons in this field is a well-populated neighborhood in my head, but it’s across town from where the Old West dwells. When the Henry X made its debut, these two worlds collided.

Model X Specs

Compared to a Big Boy, you can see the places where Henry shortened and altered the design. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

I had to stop and give some thought to what it was I was seeing with the X. The departure was definite, but the base of the original weapon was still plainly evident. There was no wood, there was no brass. The checkered, wooden handguard of old was replaced with a rail capable of accepting M-LOK accessories. The Model X brings a side-loading gate—a brand new feature for Henry. This was critical for this model, but more on that later.

The forend has a sling mount, M-LOK slots, Picatinny Rail, fiberoptic front sight, and threaded muzzle. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

The Henry Model X comes in a wide variety of calibers to suit various shooters — .45 Colt, .357/.38, .44 Mag/.44 Spl, and .45-70 when you want something to stay shot. There’s even a .410 shotgun model for additional versatility.

MSRP on the Model X is $970.00, though street prices hover around the $750.00 range.

Shooting the Henry X

Henry sent me a Model X in .357 Mag. and I quickly rode out to the range for testing. Hornady supplied the ammunition with the LEVERevolution lineup catering to lever-action shooters. This series utilizes a patented elastomer Flex Tip so there’s no explosive primer trickling in the magazine tube.

Hornady was kind enough to send out some .357 in their LEVERevolution line, plus .38 in American Gunner. They all fed well and were accurate while keeping magazine anxiety at bay. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

In addition to an ammo box full of 140-grain .357 Mag LEVERevolution rounds, I also loaded up American Gunner 125-grain .38 SPL, and an odd assortment of other brands in both calibers before heading out to the range. The 17.4-inch barrel paired with the calibers had me wondering what the results might look like on paper.

To test the accuracy of the Model X, I used the CTK Precision P3 Ultimate Shooting Rest. Upon setting up in the rest I was immediately impressed with the sights. The front sight is a nice, bright green dot, while the rear is two bright red dots. My first outing was on a day filled with cloud cover, yet the sights still picked up enough light to glow.

The sights are outstanding, even on overcast days. I like the distinction between the two colors.
Another departure, this Henry has a grip cap with subdued badging. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

The initial readings, starting at 25-yards, were all around 1-inch groupings with Hornady ammunition. Eventually, I pushed out to 50-yards, and the groups only expanded slightly — around 2- to 3- inches. I was able to hit a 100-yard steel target repeatedly but did not calculate groups at this distance.

As far as general function, the Model X was strictly solid. Having the side-loading gate was huge, as compared to the previous loading mode of using the magazine tube. Unscrewing, removing the magazine liner, then loading was anything but tactical. Now, that liner can be bypassed simply by feeding rounds through the side-gate in the receiver. With a total capacity of 7+1, I would load the Model X and run through eight rounds quickly. With practice, it’s fast and in .357 the recoil was light and manageable, .38 was even lighter.

Tactical Features

In front of the Picatinny rail, you can still load the magazine the old-fashioned way. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

What makes the Model X such a departure from Henry’s line? It’s all in the features. The furniture is black, polymer, and weather-proof. Next, the barrel is a bit shorter at 17.4-inches so that makes it wieldy in tight corners.

The larger loop on the lever takes into account gloved hands but isn’t so big as to leave hands swimming needlessly. The stock has more of a pistol grip with a grip cap, plus there’s an actual recoil pad on the buttstock.

The Model X nestled in the CTK Precision Shooting Rest. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

The forend has M-LOK slots on the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions with a Picatinny rail on the bottom. The side gate allows shooters to load the magazine at the receiver so this opens up the muzzle for—you may have guessed it—a threaded muzzle for suppressors sporting 5/8×24 threads. Screwing on a suppressor would have been silly in previous models because you’d have to take it off every time you reloaded. That has been rectified with the Model X making suppressor easier.

The back of the gun features a larger loop, a fiberoptic rear sight, and Henry’s new side-loading gate. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

While I could not arrange a suppressor in time for this review, I did add a couple of different lights on for the bottom and a Trijicon MRO green dot for the top. Due to the comb height, I found it necessary to depart from the Henry Picatinny rail on top and use one from Ranger Point Precision. Even with a flat mount for the MRO, the normal Pic-rail from Henry was a bit too tall. Ranger Point Precision’s rail mounts closer to the top of the receiver and had me obtaining good sight picture through the optic. While the fiberoptic sights were outstanding, I wanted to have something reliably giving me target information in the dark and the MRO handled this in spades.

Final Thoughts

By mounting a light and the Trijicon MRO, you can ardently protect your home even in the dark.
CTK Precision’s excellent gun rest allowed me to wring out the best accuracy. (Photo: Sean Curtis/

All-in-all, this rifle is outstanding. It fed reliably, shot accurately, and at 7+1 capacity on the .357, it may be a viable defense option. I’ve always appreciated Henry for building quality firearms made in America. To me, they represent the Old West while combining beautiful aesthetics with purposeful function.


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Categories: Gun News

Iowa Pro-Gun Bill Passes to the Governor’s Desk

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 05:18

Cities and counties looking to drop the hammer on gun owners in Iowa will find it harder under a pending bill headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Lawmakers in the Hawkeye State last week approved a measure that would help protect shooting ranges and further bar cities and counties from regulating guns.

Iowa HF 2502 passed the state House 52-44 in February before clearing the state Senate 32-17 this month and now heads to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for her review. The measure has several sections that help ensure the right to keep and bear arms.

The bill prohibits county or city governments from requiring current or planned shooting ranges from jumping through zoning hoops or local ordinances that are more stringent than required by state law. Likewise, under the measure, local governments cannot adopt any ordinance regulating the “ownership, possession, transfer, transportation, registration, and licensing of firearms to include the modification of firearms.” Cities and counties that do would be subject to legal action from any person adversely affected by such local regulations.

When it comes to local governments implementing “no gun” zones in public buildings, HF 2502 stipulates that they can only do so if they made arrangements to provide armed security or police protection to ensure the safety of such buildings. A fiscal analysis of the bill cites that a single security officer and the required screening equipment needed to protect a single “gun-free” building would cost at least $48,890 per building, per year.

Finally, the measure bars local governments from enacting any sort of local regulation regarding the storage of guns or ammunition.

While anti-gun groups such as Everytown and Mom’s Demand Action called the legislation, “extreme” and are asking Gov. Reynolds to veto the bill, HF 2502 was supported by local and national Second Amendment groups.

“Preemption legislation is designed to stop municipalities from creating a patchwork of different laws throughout the state that may potentially turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal for simply crossing a jurisdictional line,” said the National Rifle Association in a statement concerning the bill. “It also ensures that Second Amendment rights are equally protected for all Iowans, regardless of where they reside.”

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Categories: Gun News

Colt Gold Cup: Still Looking Good Decades Later

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 05:00

We at love a good, nostalgic competition pistol and what better one to dive into than the Series 80 Colt Gold Cup from the Vault.

History of the Gold Cup

The Gold Cup Match Pistol’s history begins in the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship– today’s Civilian Marksmanship Program. Created in 1903 as part of the War Department Appropriations Act, the measure was designed to improve military marksmanship while also granting civilians the opportunity to learn and practice their marksmanship skills in the event they were called to serve in the U.S. military. President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of War Elihu Root, NRA President General Byrd Spencer were among the supporters of the act.

The National Dogs of War Trophy, which continues as one of the most prestigious team trophies in U.S. marksmanship, was the first award. When National Trophy Matches expanded to include pistol events, the first pistol trophy awarded was the General Custer Trophy. It typically goes to the national trophy individual pistol champion. The national matches began in Caldwell, New Jersey but migrated to Camp Perry in Ohio in 1907.

The Colt Gold Cup is a beautiful competition gun. (Photo: Don Summers/

At the 1932 National Matches, Colt debuted its first national match model for competition. By 1933, the company offering a National Match Pistol for consumers to buy straight out of the factory. These Colt models differed from standard options as they incorporated a match-grade barrel, checked trigger, checked mainspring housing, walnut stocks, and internal parts that were hand-honed.

Colt discontinued production in 1941, due to World War II, and it wasn’t until 1957 that the firearms maker introduced a revamped version of its competition classic by way of the Gold Cup.

Gold Cup Specs

The Gold Cup released in 1957 featured adjustable sights, a wider trigger with a stop, and many other cosmetic and practical changes. Opting for a lightened slide, the Gold Cup saw some issues with hotter loads, and ultimately, the slide cuts were eliminated in the later 70 series manufactured between 1970 and 1983.

Match trigger and sights come standard since 1933. (Photo: Don Summers/

For today’s article, we’re taking a look at the Gold Cup Series 80 National Match. This version was manufactured from 1983 to 1996. The gun uses a Collet bushing instead of the traditional barrel bushing. The Collet has four fingers to keep the barrel centered, improving overall accuracy. While a nod towards accuracy, the Collet design came with its drawbacks — namely that the fingers would break.

The “80 Series” designation comes from the fact that it includes the safety enhancement first introduced by Colt in 1983. Aimed at increasing drop safety for carry guns, it tacks on additional features such as a safety plunger in the slide and a corresponding lifter in the frame to depress it, with the caveat that it adds some extra trigger smush.

The 80 series also offered a half-cock option using a shelf instead of a hook. The shelf provided a little more in the way of safety as it was sturdier than the hook and less prone to breaking. The pistol features Colt adjustable rear sight as well as wide groove adjustable target trigger, undercut front sight, flat mainspring housing, and hand-honed internals.

Shooting the Gold Cup

The Colt Gold Cup is made for match day. (Photo: Don Summers/

At the range, I started the 8+1 Gold Cup with Winchester 230-grain full metal jacket rounds at around 15-yards. The first thing of note is the pistol’s matte finish really cuts down on glare. After firing the gun, I have to say I really like the way it shoots. It’s a well-balanced model not to mention it’s a looker. With faux ivory grips and a rich, Colt Royal Blue finish it’s simply beautiful.

I did have some trouble aiming initially with the Gold Cup. The all-black front sight post on a black bullseye was a little difficult to see but with time — and maybe a different target — I would certainly adjust. I saw a decent grouping for me but, given a little more time, I could have adjusted the rear sights to get my shots a little closer.

Final Thoughts

The Gold Cup is a great match pistol with a beautiful look. I liked it so much I kind of want to keep this gun for myself. In short, the Gold Cup is surely a winner.


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Categories: Gun News