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Author Archive | Matt

Review: American Rifle Company (ARC) M3 Scope Rings

In this review I will be looking at the M3 Rings from American Rifle Company (ARC). These rings were loaned to me by SexyWeapon.com for the purposes of this review.

The best optic in the world is only as good as the rings that connect it to your rifle. Your scope rings are the interface between your optic and your rifle. They allow the optic and rifle to work together in an efficient manner. Poorly made rings can damage an optic, lose their adjustment, or make a rifle impossible to zero. Quality rings are not an option – they are a necessity.

Specifications and Features

The M3 Rings have many of the hallmarks of quality that we have come to expect from similar products. They are precision machined from 7075 aluminum and feature a black, mil-spec hard anodized finish. They are made in various heights (low to extra high) and sized for 1”, 30mm, 34mm, 35mm, and 40mm diameters. These are the kinds of features that we have come to expect from quality mounting systems but the M3 Rings have several features that really separate them from the crowd.

The most obvious feature is what ARC calls their Tangential Scope Clamp. The part of the ring that clamps on to the scope tube consists of upper and lower parts that are hinged together on one side and connect of the other side via an overlapping surface with 2 screws. The overlapping surface provides a hard stop so that the ring can not be over tightened. The 2 screws are placed on a tangent to the scope tube so that the ring is not distorted in a way that damage the scope tube when the upper portion of the ring is tightened. When the hinged side, overlapping surface, and 2 screws on a tangent are combined you end up with a ring that very evenly disperses the clamping pressure over the entire contact area of the ring to the scope. When you have them in hand and can see how they work, it is very impressive. You can read a more technical explanation of what is happening on the ARC website.

Some scope rings have their weight reduced by milling away parts of the ring where it contacts the scope. This reduces the contact area between the scope and ring which can lead to slipping or scope damage from the clamping forces being concentrated on a smaller area. ARC lightened these rings by milling deep recesses into the surface but not all the way through the material. The result is a lightened ring that doesn’t compromise the contact area between the M3 Ring and the scope. It is a subtle but important touch. The .965″ width of the M3 Rings also helps to provide plenty of contact area between the scope and rings.

One less obvious feature of the M3 Rings is the way that the rings interface with the rail. The crowned interface of the ARC M3 Rings allows for rail variations which are very common among rail manufacturers while still providing very precise contact. Each ring has 2 recoil lugs milled into the bottom of the ring to distribute recoil forces over a large area. ARC has a full explanation along with diagrams and comparisons on their website.

In Use

I was provided a set of extra high, 30mm rings for my review. These rings are a good height for use on an AR-15 flat top upper (they might be a touch short if you have a fixed front sight). I mounted an Aimpoint M2 and a Leupold MK4 1.5-5×20 MR/T for the test. The first thing you will notice is that the hinged upper portion of the rings make mounting the optic extremely easy. Installation is a breeze. You can simply lay the scope in the rings, close the top portion, slide the scope forward and back to set eye relief, and then tighten the two tangential screws.

Since these were loaners rings, I didn’t apply a thread locker as I usually do with all my rings. It was also a good chance to see how the rings would behave without an thread locker. They performed admirably. I wasn’t able to witness mark the screws (like I usually do) but I noticed no loosening of any of the rings under recoil. Once a zero was established, it was held. There were no surprises which is a very good thing when it comes to scope rings. I would still apply some a mild thread locking compound if I was keeping these rings. It is cheap insurance.

I generally do not take notice of whether or not a mount or rings scuffs the rail that they were attached to but since ARC claims that their M3 Ring’s crowned interface will not disfigure the rail, I decided to check. I noticed no marring after the first install and only minimal scuffing after installing and removing the rings a handful of times. This marring probably had more to do with me moving the rings around on the rail than it did with the rings themselves.

Conclusion

These M3 Rings from American Rifle Company really seem to represent an evolutionary step in scope ring development. The hinged, tangential design is amazingly efficient and well executed. It not only protects the scope from damage, but it makes installation simple. These rings represent the culmination of so many good ideas that they just seem to be on a completely different level than other scope mounting products on the market. Everything from the hinged interface and tangential screws to the improved rail interface and construction materials represent quality and innovation.

You can read more about or purchase the M3 Scope Rings from American Rifle Company on SexyWeapon.com.

BattleComp 2.0

BattleComp 2.0 is here. It has the same external dimensions as the A2 flash suppressor which allows the BattleComp 2.0 to integrate with most of the same devices that are meant to work with the A2 flash suppressor. The interior dimensions are nearly identical to that of the BattleComp 1.0 and 1.5 which means that it delivers all the performance that you have come to expect from BattleComp. It comes with a shim kit and Rockset.

You can check it out on the BattleComp website.

Tula Ammo Interview at LuckyGunner.com

Did you know that Tula can produce 500 million rounds of ammunition in a year? That is about 16 rounds every second, 365 days a year. Did you know that their 7.62×39 is tested to work in temperatures ranging from -58⁰ F to 122⁰ F?

LuckyGunner.com just posted an interesting review/interview with the manufacturers of Tula Ammo.

Boker Plus Vox Access Tool

Knives are for cutting, not prying. However we all still occasionally find ourselves in situations where we have to pry something and a knife is the only suitable tool that we have on hand. The risk is that you will break the tip of the knife, ruin the edge, or slip and get a nasty cut. If you had a light weight, easy to carry tool that was purpose built for prying, there would be no need to risk ruining a knife (or loosing a finger).

The Boker Plus Vox Access Tool, or VAT, is made from 5mm thick titanium which makes it very strong but still very light weight. It weighs less than 1 ounce and is 3 5/8″ long so it should be very easy to carry in a pocket or on your key ring.

The VAT has several functions. It has a pry tip, a bottle opener, a carabiner, a nail puller, and a glass breaker that is protected by two rubber o-rings. A tool like this also tends to have many improvised uses that you will discover as you use it.

Save your knives for cutting. Consider adding a pry tool to your every day carry gear.

Double and Single Finger Knucks from Afrankart

I recently came across these Single Finger Knucks (SFK) and Double Finger Knucks (DFK) that are made by Afrankart. At first, I was struck with how unique they look – they have a very distinctive style. However, it is also very apparent that these knuckles are very functional.

Double Finger Knucks

Single Finger Knucks

The knuckles were obviously made for striking. They are .625″ thick which is quite thick compared to many knuckles on the market. Thicker knuckles transmit impact over a larger area of your hand which means they hurt less and have less potential to injure the user. Great care has been taken to round all the edges to increase comfort and there appears to be plenty of material behind the finger hole to support the finger during a strike. The striking surface of these knucks is tapered so they concentrate the force of the strike.

The DFKs are available with 2 different striking surface configurations: pointed and rounded. The pointed version looks brutal. The SFK is available with the rounded striking surface only.

These can be made from several different materials and finishes. Aluminum and brass are available with a machine finish or bead blasted. G-10 is available as a more discreet, non-metallic option. Andy tells me that these will be available in Carbon Fiber soon.

The finger holes measure .950″ which should comfortably fit up to a size 13 ring finger. That should be large enough for most users.

If you are interested in purchasing a set of these reasonably priced knucks, contact Afrakart via email at afrankart@woh.rr.com.

If you want to learn more about the effective use of tools like this, I highly recommend reading and attending training conducted by Modern Combative Systems.

Familiarize yourself with the legality of such tools in your area before purchasing.

Troy BattleRail Alpha

The Troy TRX Extreme BattleRails have been a big success with shooters thanks to their light weight, small outside diameter, and reasonable price. The new BattleRail Alpha builds on the success of the TRX Extreme by refining the mounting system and adding new features.

The BattleRail Alpha is a free float hand guard for the AR-15 family of rifles. Like its predecessor, it is light in weight and has a very slim outside diameter. This smaller outside diameter allows the support hand to wrap around the rail more effectively which increases grip and control.

The BattleRail Alpha features a new mounting system that attaches via the standard AR-15 barrel nut. There were occasional problems with over torqued/stripped screws on the TRX BattleRails, but the system has been improved to preclude that from happening on the BattleRail Alpha. The most obvious addition is the built in spring loaded front sight. This will be a useful addition for some users, but it may interfere with some ways of mounting a weapon light.

This has all the makings of another big hit from Troy Industries.

PWS Precision Rifle Compensator (PRC)

PWS continues to turn out muzzle devices for a wide variety of applications. The new Precision Rifle Compensator (PRC) is purpose built  to reduce felt recoil on precision rifles. There are many compensators on the market that can do the same thing, but the PRC is designed for rifles used for more serious tasks than hunting and competition (though it would work just fine in those roles too).

Like other compensators, the PRC reduces muzzle flip which allows the shooter to maintain their sight picture throughout and after the shot. Seeing your shots go down range and seeing the effect of your shot is obviously better than not seeing it. This can be vital to a shooter’s situational awareness. Unlike other compensators, the PRC is designed to reduce the shooter’s ground signature by directing the blast in a such a way that the amount of dust and debris kicked up around the muzzle is minimized. Ground signature reduction is an important part of remaining unseen.

The PRC helps the shooter see more of the target while being seen less by the target.

Review: Carlson Comps .22 Thruster

The .22 Thruster from Carlson Comps is a muzzle device that is purposely created to enhance the function of .22LR conversions for the AR-15. It has become very popular to use a .22LR conversion unit for an AR-15 in order to keep the cost of practice down. A shooter could shoot several hundred rounds of .22LR ammo for a fraction of the cost of what the same number of 5.56 ammo would cost. It is an inexpensive, practical, and effective way to train.

.22 Long Rifle ammunition is inexpensive for a reason. It is often not made with the highest standards of quality and consistency. Different brands of .22LR often perform drastically different. In fact, the same brand can often vary quite a bit in performance between manufacturing lots. The bottom line is that the wide variety of tolerances and inconsistency of .22LR ammo can make designing a .22LR conversion unit that functions across a wide variety of ammo very challenging.

Fit and Finish

Muzzle devices are utilitarian objects that should be all function with little regard for form but that doesn’t mean they can’t be well made. The .22 Thruster is nicely machined and nicely finished. The black finish has a slightly glossy finish that seems to hold up well to normal handling. Most of the .22 Thruster is covered with very finely cut checkering that provides enough grip to allows it to be installed and removed quickly without tools. The quality is obvious.

How Does It Work

The .22 Thruster can help a .22 conversion cycle a wider variety of ammo. It does this by serving as an expansion chamber which creates more back pressure. The extra back pressure helps cycle the bolt.

The .22 Thruster has a similar effect to that of a sound suppressor, not in that it suppresses sound, but that it increases back pressure much like a sound suppressor does. To be clear, it does not decrease the sound signature but it does increase back pressure. This extra back pressure can be the difference between a round fully cycling the bolt and short stroking. It can be just enough extra pressure to cycle a round that may be just a bit underpowered or a particular round that your .22 conversion may choke on periodically.

Greg, owner of Carlson Comps, is quick to point out that this is not a cure all for malfunctioning .22 conversions. It can’t be a cure all due to the inconsistency of .22LR ammo. However, it may be just enough to reduce some or all of the malfunctions for certain types of ammo.

Installation

The .22 Thruster installs like any other muzzle device. It can be threaded directly onto the barrel. It can also be tuned through the use of peel washers. The user can adjust the size of the expansion chamber by stacking peel washers on the barrel before installing the .22 Thruster. This allows the user to tune the device to their particular weapon or a particular brand of ammo.

It does not need to timed or aligned any specific way. There are three small holes on the device that serve no purpose other than to make sure that the device is never confused for a sound suppressor. These holes can be oriented in any direction.

Does It Work

I set out testing the .22 Thruster with a grand plan in mind. I was going to put hundreds of rounds through a .22 conversion, logging each malfunction along the way. I hoped to have a large data set from which to draw conclusions about the muzzle device. Greg warned me that my plan might be a bit grand due to how unpredictable .22LR can be. He was right.

A friend and I put hundreds of round through his dedicated .22 upper only to find that we couldn’t find an ammo that would malfunction consistently. I needed malfunctions to determine whether the device was working and I couldn’t deliver them.

I have not given up and will continue to test the .22 Thruster. I have plans to try a few drop-in conversions that I am hoping will be less reliable. I will write an update with my findings when that time comes.

The concept is simple and solid. Expansion chambers work. Like Greg says, this is not a cure all, but it can certainly help.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that most people who are using .22 conversions are also using muzzle devices that are designed for the 5.56 that offer no benefits to their .22 conversion. The .22 Thruster is designed specifically to increase the function of .22LR conversions and it does that based on a solid concept.

Carlson Comps offers the .22 Thruster and several other muzzle devices on CarlsonCompsInc.com.

Midwest Industries Rear Sling Adapter for the AK-47

Midwest Industries (MI) has a new rear sling point for the AK-47. It is a rotation limited QD sling swivel socket that can be attached anywhere on the rear stock utilizing two short screws. The adapter can be mounted to any stock with a solid core, wood or plastic. In spite of the name, this isn’t just useful for single point slings. It would make a great rear sling point for a 2 point sling as well.

Since the adapter attaches via screws, it should be useful on stocks on other weapons as well. This could be great on something like a wood stocked shotgun or even lever action rifle.

Mounting a sling on an AK has always been a bit of challenge. This adapter from MI is something that has been needed for a long time.

Spikes Tactical 14.5″ Light Weight Mid-Length AR-15 Upper

AIM Surplus recently listed the highly anticipated Spikes Tactical 14.5″ Lightweight 5.56/.223 Upper Receivers. These uppers were so highly anticipated that they are already sold out less than 48 hours after they were listed.

The fact that they are already sold out isn’t surprising given the excellent value that these uppers represent. They feature a 14.5″ light weight mid-length HP and MP tested barrel with a pinned Vortex flash supressor, Magpul MOE hand guards, a bolt, carrier, charging handle, and Spikes Tactical ST-T2 heavy buffer. That is a lot of upper for just $539.95 shipped.

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