Tag Archives: gear reviews

Drop-In Trigger with a little something extra

Tac-Con is a company with an interesting idea. The 3MR: a drop-in trigger that offers a third fire mode (if you count safe as one mode). This new mode basically cuts down on trigger reset by using the motion if the bolt to assist. If that doesn’t sound impressive check it out in action:

 If you watch the video closely you will notice the guy is pressing the trigger for every shot- and the reason that they have an ATF approval letter confirming that the trigger system does not convert a rifle into a machinegun. Price-wise they run a little more than slide-fire type stocks. The third selector switch setting is intriguing- definitely more streamlined than a sliding stock. 

I’m not convinced it will perform quite as speedy with an average user running the rifle. I’d like to see one of these up against a skeletonized 3lb Timney to know if the assisted reset really is a cut above a match trigger. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on as initial evaluation units make the rounds.

How to make your 10/22 look Scary (good)

Recently I was looking at my basic 10/22 and decided to perform a few upgrades- mostly cosmetic upgrades that do not change the rifle, hence the term cosmetic.  Hoplophobes sometimes refer to these as “Evil or Scary Features” – which is ludicrous because inanimate objects such as firearms are not capable of having characteristics like evil or good intentions. Then again fear of inanimate objects is also considered irrational among the sane.

So let’s see what it takes to make this 10/22 look so scary that Shannon Watts  (aka Shannon Troughton aka sneaky astroturf-er) would have puppies if she ever saw it: 

Step 1- get a distinctive barrel and install it

Step 2- find some new furniture. The aftermarket selection for the 10/22 is vast. I shopped around for a long time and after agonizing over different approaches and price points decided to go with a Troy Industries chassis- the T-22 sport. While it’s on the high end of prices  it does include built-in Troy Battlesights. And it definitely looks scary. Eventually a box like this arrived for me:

Sweet! So what’s inside? I’m hoping for a bonus catalog of objects that look “evil” despite the fact that they could not possibly be evil:

Score! On to assembly…

Step 3- Two hex screws hold the chassis together. Remove them to begin the assembly process.

The T-22 chassis comes apart into two pieces- note that the rail is one continuous piece (scary good work Troy!)

Step 4- Don’t blink because the rest happens quickly- install the receiver assembly into the lower part of the chassis

Step 5- Now slide the rail/barrel shroud onto the receiver and replace the hex screws – voila!

Now that’s a nice looking rifle if I’ve ever seen one. Do you hear that barking in the distance? Sounds like new puppies are arriving somewhere in Indiana.


How to Replace the Barrel on a 10/22 Rifle

Recently I embarked on a little project – I wanted to take a stock Ruger 10/22 rifle- complete with the woodish stock as shown above- and give it some cajones. Simply stated, my initial goal was to make it look as scary as Sen. Feinstein (in any decade) looks without her Joker makeup on. Ok, maybe not that scary but at least scary enough to make Double-Barrel Biden blow all 18 pellets.

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First step- find a distinctive barrel. I ordered one from McGowen in MT. It took awhile since they made it custom from a blank, but it is beautiful:

  • heavy contour .920 – heavier barrels can get hotter before they lash- i.e. Better accuracy
  • stainless to add an element of distinction
  • flutes cut  into barrel to conduct heat more efficiently
  • threaded end- for resale value, compensator use, maybe even adding an AR style flash hider someday
  • Note: If you plan to change a barrel and reuse an existing stock be advised that you may need to remove material from the old stock- especially if you switch to a heavy contour barrel.or buy a new stock-there are many options out there at many price points.
  • Also be advised that you must check the chamber headspace after removing or changing any rifle barrel. More on this later.

So once you have a barrel, verify that safety is on and clear (unload) the rifle. Once the weapon is clear disassemble the rifle. Even if you needed the link to the manual you should now have the trigger group and bolt removed from the receiver. Remove the barrel retention screws from the v-clamp as shown below:

Once the screws are removed the v-clamp should also come off easily. Now you’re almost there- you can remove the existing barrel by pulling it forward. It will probably be a tight fit (that’s good) so don’t be afraid to work at this a little (a vice is helpful for this). The barrel will slide out and you should have a stripped receiver as shown with the barrel at bottom of the photo.

Now for the easy part- slide the new barrel into the receiver. Align it into the receiver on the barrel shank as shown here:

A snug fit is what you’re looking for and the flat edge of the barrel should line up with the barrel retention screw housings. Now replace the v-clamp and those retention screws- Brownells says you can tighten the v-clamp down to 45in-lb of torque.

Now replace the bolt, buffer and trigger group and you have one very important task to complete before you continue reassembly:

Check the headspace

This is very important for safety any time you alter the barrel (and thus the chamber) of a rifle. If the chamber headspace is out of spec the firearm is not safe to operate. This includes the risk of a KB- aka detonation. Don’t take a foolish risk- buy or borrow a set of go/no-go gauges to check the chamber. You can also ask your local gunsmith to check a chamber for you but it may cost you as much as the gauges.

They work quite simply- the gun should chamber the go gauge and should not chamber the no-go gauge. If both those events occur you passed the chamber check! Congratulations- now you should be all set to install the receiver assembly into a stock. That stainless barrel is a nice look, isn’t it?


5 actually useful AR upgrades

After trashing Gun Digest's suggestions for 'sure-fire' AR accoutrements the least I could do is offer up my list for someone else to trash. So here are the kR-15 top 5 AR accessories/upgrades. Remember that my criteria here are performance and usability.

Iron Sights

As mentioned previously I this space, iron sights seldom let you down. They never run out of battery and good ones won't break if your rifle takes a tumble. If you learn how to properly operate your rifle you should be able to use iron sights effectively up to at least 300 yds. Gun Digest also mentions this but presumes that everyone will have an optic- I contend that optics are not necessary for every user.

Trigger Upgrade

Upgrading your trigger to a 3 or 4# is the biggest accuracy improvement you can make to your AR. The trigger is the last human input to a weapon system before it fires- it's where you either hold the gun on the point of aim or jerk it off target. The drop-in assemblies are super easy to install- I prefer Timney but there are other options out there.

Aftermarket Stock

The two things I look for in a stock are minimal weight and solid, repeatable cheek weld. Adjustable length is a nice feature but whether it's useful depends on how your body fits your rifle. There are countless options for stocks so try a few out at your LGS. A good cheek weld will improve your accuracy because it helps you take the same sight picture every time you shoulder the rifle.

Pistol Grip with Backstrap

A recent trend in pistol grips is to offer interchangeable backstraps. These provide options for an optimal fit into almost every size hand. Why is this important? It relates back to improving recoil control and trigger press- if the grip is properly sized to your hand it will be easier to maintain a straight rearward press of the bang switch.

Extended Bolt Catch Release

There are differing schools of thought on a extended bolt catch- some people view it as a potential training scar because if the SHTF you may end up using someone else's rifle that doesn't have one of these. And that could cost you precious seconds…or not. I can't live my life off this scenario– it is incredibly unlikely at this point in time. The benefits of having all the rifle controls accessible from my control hand outweigh the risks of reaching for it on doomsday and not having one there. There are many options out there for these (start with Magpul or Troy if you're stumped) – shop around and find one you like.

And there you have it- no cheese graters, cappuccino makers, key rings or emergency life rafts. Just 5 upgrades that add up to utility and improved accuracy for your AR-15.


Trijicon RMR – less than perfect

Last weekend I took my rifle out and my RMR was fully washed out- darkly shaded firing line and very bright outdoor range and I couldn't see the triangle downrange- it only showed up if I looked at the shaded ground or covered the sight. I suppose that's what they make iron sights for but it was disappointing.

At this point I'm not sold on the RMR as a primary optic- the dual illumination sometimes is affected by bright overhead lights and now by the shade on a bright day. What's the point of having no battery in your optic if it only illuminates part of the time? It may be the amber reticle but regardless the RMR can't hang with the Aimpoint T1 Micro. I like the 1:00 mount option shown in this video – maybe that will be the best use for my RMR. Also note that they filmed this on an overcast day…

Magpul BAD lever in action

Popular opinion on the Magpul BAD (Battery Assist Device) lever is a mixed bag:


  • Critics claim that the lever can interfere with bolt hold-open and also that teaching yourself to use one could be a problem if you end up using a different rifle that doesn't have a BAD.
  • Proponents like the fact that this device moves all the rifle controls to the control hand. The paddle control is now accessible on the right side of the weapon.

My personal experience is that the lever is a major upgrade to the AR-15 platform. My control hand can operate the entire rifle and bolt locking and release is far more intuitive – after just a short amount of trigger time using it becomes natural. Check out this video demonstrating the speed the BAD Lever adds to reloads:

Failure with my Carry Gun: this is why I practice

As mentioned in yesterday's post, practice with your carry ammo and carry mag at least once a year. Don't wing it- I mean real DGU practice. Draw from concealed and fire at a target 7 yards away. The goal is to be able to draw from concealed, aim and fire in one second. I tried this with my Walther PPS last weekend and was horrified to experience 2 FTFs (Failure to Feed) in 7 rounds of .40 S&W 165 gr Winchester PDX1.
This is a great reason to practice- sometmes you identify serious flaws in your personal defense plan. Now I know that something is wrong with my carry rig (using practice mags and practice ammo I have had zero failures for about 1800 rounds). Time to isolate the problem quickly and get certain that this equipment failure is resolved.

The two most likely possibilities for this problem are: bad mag or bad ammo. I swapped my carry mag for the spare (never the training mag) and now the one that jammed up can be used for training and hopefully will help me identify the problem- obviously if the mag causes a FTF with my practice ammo I will know what's wrong.

Today I fired 21 practice rounds through the mag hat participated in the FTFs last weekend with zero failures (the streak continues!). For now the mag seems to be ok… so what about the ammo?

I discovered an interesting difference between the PDX1 ammo and my practice loads: the PDX1 ammo is actually much shorter (1.119″ avg OAL) than my practice ammo (always between 1.125-1.135″ OAL). Some firearms have tighter toerance than others- I suspect this Walther falls into the 'tighter tolerance' category.

Resolution: try longer ammo. I found some Hornaday Critical Duty ammo that had about half the rounds masuring at 1.130 – which is my target OAL for practice loads. Luckily there are a few spares in the box so I can test my theory… if there are failures I will report them.


After experimentation at the range the Hornaday Critcial Duty ammo fed flawlessly through the PPS- regardless of OAL. The PDX1 ammo has a more jagged edge to the projectiles while the Critical Duty is more rounded and consistent- that could also be hanging up the rounds in the magazine.

I'm going to avoid the PDX1 rounds from now on. And keep testing every 8-12 months.

Better Ban These Now – for the sake of the children

If we could save the life of just one child by banning these weapons of war from our streets wouldn't it be worth it?

This video is pretty amusing- and MattV2099 brings it home with his Standard 30 t shirt at the end. I hope Bloomberg, Feinstein and co. get a look at this so they can start new legislation- the video is about as grounded in reality as her entire perception of the world.


American Defense Co-witness Mount

American Defense Manufacturing really went the extra mile to make things right for my co-witness project with my Trijicon RMR. The QD riser mount they sent didn't line up with my sight plane but after I contacted them to explain the situation they offered to make a new mount to the specs I sent. They actually ran about 25 of these risers (new size on the box was “mid”) so if you want one I suggest specifying that size with your order.
The new mount is now installed and as you can see below is aligning with my Troy iron sights for a perfect absolute cowitness. Make the jump to see the sight picture with the rear sight folded down (which is how I will typically run my rifle).
The RMR is a great optic- it has a slight magnification which my LGS (local gun store) didn't like but I find it easy to focus on. Likewise many question the 12moa triangle base but as you can see it doesn't overwhelm the view.
The dual-illuminated option is great because the holographic triangle never needs batteries. Indoors the washout factor has been minimal indoors- I can't wait to see how it handles in daylight.

It’s almost ready…

This is a photo of the new Co-Witness riser mount for my Trijicon RMR. American Defense Mfg sent me a photo to show that it's getting close. The mount is partially complete here- the top needs some further machining, the coating and assembly of their awesome quick-detach latch.
The latch clamps onto the rail like a vise but unlike any other QD latch I have used it opens with almost no effort thanks to the release- its far superior to the Aimpoint T1 micro QD system. In a few more days the riser will look like this:
American Defense really went the extra mile here- after I ran into a height problem trying to co-witness and I explained my effort to diagnose the problem they made me a new mount to my own specification. This is a great product backed by good people- they offer a wide range of QD mounts and are worth a serious look if you want to maximize use of bipods, lights, optics, pretty much anything you want to hang on that picatinny rail.