Women's Defense Instructor, part time writer, knuckle dragger, father, and student. I am an certified intelligence analyst and have been published in the "Small Wars Journal", I am also a gunsmith, life long shooter, hunter and general gun nerd.
The muzzle device is one of the easiest but yet most important upgrades that can be done to a rifle in this case an AR. The standard A2 type is listed by the military as a compensator but is actually a flash hider. There are more types of muzzle devices available than can be listed here but they can do any thing from completely get rid of muzzle flash, act as a rebar cutter (yes those exist), get rid of muzzle climb (used in competitions VERY loud), and others that are flash hiders or compensators and also act as a mounting point for a suppressor. Depending on what you use your AR for will help determine which muzzle device you chose. Like all things with a modern sporting rifle there are so many to choose from you can spend as much or as little as you want. The good thing is the muzzle device is one of the easiest things to change and can greatly change the performance of your weapon.
AR buttstock/flash hider tool which you should have if you own an AR series rifle. Or a military style AR wrench which will let you add/remove barrel and remove the flash hider
a 1/2 breaker bar, 1/2 torque wrench that can have 25-30ft lbs - 3/4″ wrench can be used
Peal washers are handy to have just in case the supplied crush washer is not big enough
It is also easier with a work bench and vise with vise block. If you are a serious AR user you should have these; if you do not never fear just get someone to hold the rifle for you.
Follow the manufacturers directions for installation.before starting this removal and installation process.
Remove any existing muzzle attachment and clean the threads of your barrel.
Install the supplied crush washer making certain the small-protruded portion of the washer is contacting the flange surface of your barrel.
Hand-tighten your new muzzle accessory in place.
Using a 3/4 wrench, tighten the accessory at least 1/4 turn and continue to tighten until the middle exhaust port is on top dead center with your sight line.
Military requires that the device be tightened to 25-35ft lbs.
Now the good part, I got on Troy’s website and sent their customer service group an email. I received a CALL from Troy’s customer service within an hour wanting a description of the problem, type of rifle I was using and the magazine back. I immediately received an UPS return authorization and the promise they would test this magazine and the dimensions on magazines currently being run. I was also told I would receive some new magazines to test. Troy has tested their magazine to destruction but wanted some field tests from customers.
While disappointed with my first experience with Troy Battle magazines, I am very impressed with their level of customer service and am looking forward to getting the magazines on the range and in the field and giving them a good going over.
In the next couple of weeks I will have a review posted and hope to be able to provide some data on an alternative to the PMAG.
Range testing of the Vortex Crossfire 2.4-12×44 with Dead Hold BDC
Zero: 50 yards
Firing range: 200 yards
Targets: Clay Pigeons
Round: 55 grain Wolf Precision Ammunition
Conditions: Temperature mid 50s, no wind to speak of, sunny, the perfect shooting day.
200 Yards: Scope and rifle shot exactly to the range card provided by Vortex LRBC app on their website .5” high at 200 yards. While not firing for groups at 200 yards once hold over was found first shot hits were easy and boringly consistent for three different shooters.
15 Yards: Moved power to 4 and range some close ran drills. Again rifle and scope shot exactly to the range card 2.5” low at that range. While the rifle is used as a hunting rifle at 4 power the rifle performed well at rapid fire drills. Engaging targets with both eyes open and achieving A zone hits (remember to account for close distance) was not a difficult task even with a 9lb rifle not a trim carbine.
While it may seem counter-intuitive the .223/5.56 round according to several ballistics charts the 50 or 200 yard zero work best. For example the above mentioned 55 grain round will shoot to within 3” from muzzle to 300 meters while a 100 yard zero is -12” at 300 yards. Several AR experts such as Paul Howe, Travis Hailey, and Kyle Lamb agree.
While it may seem odd to have such a large variable power scope on an AR platform I use it to deer and coyote hunt and it performs very well. Vortex also has a drop card generator on their website that works very well. With any variable optic is important to know your range card, taping it to the inside of the butt stock is a good idea. The Crossfire II is a very good mid-range priced optic backed by a 100% no questions asked warranty.
The LAR-8 is a reasonably priced, reasonably light AR platform 7.62×51 rifle. Another selling point is that it is “supposed” to be able to use any FN type magazine metal, polymer, inch or metric. Since FN magazines are in good supply they are also pretty inexpensive yet another selling point. From personal experience these rifles are built to very tight tolerances and are very accurate and can shoot better than I can. These points would indicate that this would be a very good firearm to have, light, accurate, and shoots a powerful round.
First I have to tell a story to get to the problem.
The above qualities convinced my dad to buy one of these rifles and since I had not heard any bad things about them I also thought was a good idea. His first shooting season after purchasing the weapon went fine through zeroing his optic nothing bad so far. He reloads and we notice that the brass is kicking out funny then the weapon goes down. No immediate action drill will help so we inspect the weapon an there is part of shell casing stuck in the chamber. A shell casing stuck is never a good thing so we get a cleaning rod out and corrected the problem. He reloads next round does the same thing it is ripping the bottom of the cartridge off. So we stop shooting that rifle and the next business day he calls Rock River. They tell him he is probably not keeping his weapon clean and that he needs to get a chamber brush and keep the lugs really clean. I for one have never heard of a chamber getting so dirty after 30 rounds that it will cause rounds to stick so tight the extractor rips the case in half. Also keep in mind that my father is a former Marine and knows a little about weapons maintenance as he had to battle the Jamming Jenny of Vietnam fame. So dad makes sure the weapon is clean before next range season fires approx 10 rounds thru the rifle and it has the same issue. At this point I had to stop him from throwing the rifle against a tree and to have him send to Rock River. The following week he gets a return authorization from Rock River and sent the rifle back. In a couple weeks he gets the weapon back with a note saying the rifle has had 100 rounds through it with no jams and also advising him to call the tech guys. That should have been a warning now to the problem…
The magazine chosen for this rifle while dependable in an FN does not like the AR platform. Per RRA’s tech guys it is advised that the owner should use only polymer magazines and that this particular person when using metal magazines disassembles them and coats the inside with car wax to make sure it works. Meanwhile RRA reject the polymer mags they receive at a rate of 60% because they will not work the tech gun told my dad they reject 6,000 out of every 10,000 magazines received that are made to their specs. The RRA website states “These are inch pattern based RRA LAR-8 magazines no guarantee is made of their compatibility with any rifle other than the RRA LAR-8.” So much for the FN compatibility, the magazine if not absolutely perfect causes the round in the chamber to become stuck and the bolt to rip the base off of the casing. Also on RRA’s website “Due to the progressive improvements to the design of the LAR-8 magwell (they know they have a problem) some magazines may not fall freely from all LAR-8 (if it works at all) and/or may require filing of the spacing tab. Great just what we need to be doing filing away on a magazine to either make it work or ruin it.
Rock River’s solution to my dad’s rifle is that he, send it in again and they will test and replace all of his magazines at no cost. Not fix the lower or magwell but to test and basically get custom magazines for his individual rifle. So as I see it RRA wants the buyers of this rifle to buy enough magazines and test them to find which ones will work. At RRA stated rate of discarding magazines 60% an owner would have to buy 10 to get four that will work that is an extra $200 dollars just to be able to shoot your firearm.
This would be a nightmare for a police force that contemplated this weapon as a Designated Marksman’s rifle, a tough three gun shooter, shooting enthusiast, or hunter wanting something more than a 5.56 in an AR platform to hunt with. This is what happens when someone tries to get fancy and move away from the SR-25 magazine. We know that the PMAGs will work every time and cost the same as RRA polymer magazine.
Rock River makes some very good firearms their LAR-47 is a great idea and has gotten rave reviews. The use of the FN magazine for this weapon was not one of their better ideas and RRA knows they have a problem. I do not think they have it fixed yet and so cannot recall the rifle so they offer stop gap measures to get the shooter by.
So buyer beware the LAR-8 will NOT use any FN magazine and if you decide to purchase one be prepared to shell out another $200 in magazine costs just to get four magazines. Or spend a little extra money and get an LWRC REPR, Colt 901, Armalite, Knights Armament, or if you are stuck on using FN mags get an SA58 from DSArms.
This is a follow up on the Every Day Carry (EDC) article. Several people asked me, what we carry can tackle our immediate needs what about if we need more? Hopefully this will give you an idea of why and what to carry. I want to stress this is not a “bug out bag” but more of a “get home bag” what I mean by this is the idea is to have enough supplies to survive an incident that cannot be handled by your EDC. These would include an first response to an accident or incident, being stranded in car due to weather or a wreck, being caught in a disturbance (riot) or any number of situations where you need more than what you have in your pockets. In saying this you can go way overboard, I still want enough room in my bag to be able to use it to carry stuff not just emergency supplies however as in all things the choice is yours.
Like your EDC your carry bag should be something that does not stand out. In some locations the messenger shoulder bag is a popular item to carry for laptops, IPads, lunch, etc if this is prominent in your are these are a great choice. However where I live these are not so much in vouge but a backpack (even camo) or a Maxpedition type bag is. So whatever you choose to use be sure that it has the space for what you need and it is easy to carry.
As we discussed in EDC handgun, reload, less than lethal, knife, first aid, wallet, phone is your basic load. The bag is just an expansion on that. Your bag should contain at least two magazines or reloads for your primary handgun, a bigger knife, an expanded first aid kit, something to write on and with, a survival kit(build your own or there are several decent pre-made ones), food and medication for at least 24 hours. A solar cell phone charger would be a great addition ( I need to add one myself). But we have to be mindful that this is just to get us home not our blowout bag so watch the weight. A great option is to find a bag with MOLLE type webbing on the outside an Army surplus backpack, Eddie Bauer has one as do several others that allow you to add pouches to the outside of the bag without compromising much inside space.
My bag consists of the following and I think it is comprehensive enough to get me through an easy 24 hours, longer if I needed to.
I have an Army surplus assault bag (where I live this is something no one even bats an eye about).
Three extra magazines for a total of 49 rounds in the bag plus 33 rounds on my person. If I need more than this I should have brought a rifle to work that day.
Individual First Aid Kit-actually my IFAK is set up as a pretty good trauma bag and I can treat up to a sucking chest wound. I do not have airway gear yet because I am not trained up on it as well as I should be. In addition to the IFAK I have a
Large roll of gauze
Wound irrigation syringe
Sting-eze pen for bug bits
Beyond medical supplies I have put together a pretty decent survival kit
Two Mountain House meals
Three Cliff Bars
1 Five hour energy drink
tea and sugar
.5 liter folding water bottle
1 gallon zip lock and 1 quart zip lock (these are always handy
SOL survial kit from Adventure Line Medical
There are various other odds and ends but you get the idea. While this may seem like a lot it really is not and by using the MOLLE webbing and three extra pouches there is still plenty of room in the bag for stuff.
Everyday carry (EDC) has become a very hot topic for the armed citizen internet world and has been touched upon here on the Knesek blog as well. I am one of the instructors For the Women’s Self-Defense Class at Thor Firearms Distribution in Rogers, AR and in that class we discuss EDC as a vital part of your personal protection. EDC is only limited by your imagination and how much you want to carry. This is the basics of what I recommend feel free to add to this. Just be sure you are legal such things like collapsible batons are illegal in the State of Arkansas.
The basic EDC kit that I teach is: (Assuming has a conceal carry permit)
Primary weapon plus a reload: Choose a pistol that is comfortable to you and that you can shoot well and carry EVERY day.
First aid kit: To me one of the most important parts of your EDC. Remember if you are willing to take a life you must be willing to save one.
Less than lethal: Can carry more than one of these. I like a ranged option such as pepper spray and a close in option like a stun gun or a kubuton or tactical pen.
Flashlight of some type
Knife: A lockblade with a least a two inch blade will work.
Wallet: With ID, Conceal Permit etc… always try to have $20 in cash
Cell Phone with 911 programmed into the phone and an ICE (In Case of Emergency number saved) first responders are trained to look through your phone for an ICE contact.
EDC Kit for a non-firearmed civilian:
Same as above but the primary weapon should be a ranged Less than Lethal weapon. The idea is to keep the assailant at a distance to facilitate escape.
This is my EDC that I try to have on a daily basis:
Primary Weapon 9mm Glock 19 or a Taurus Millennium Pro 9mm with a reload (sometimes I carry both).
First aid kit: I have an Adventure Line Trauma Pak that I have added a SWAT-T Tourniquet. There are many quality small trauma kits from ITS or Dark Angel Medical. These will fit in a cargo pants pocket or a purse. Remember that we are more likely to need first aid than we will our weapons (at least I hope so).
Less than Lethal: Top Cop pepper spray, I have a Monkey Fist attached to my key chain. Tactical pen (do not laugh) not only does it write it acts as a great striking weapon and one end can even break out the side window of a car in case you crash into the water.
Streamlight key chain flashlight: this little light is pretty bright and not as bulky as some lights.
Leatherman Micro: Handy assortment of tools including a Phillips and flat head screwdriver, small knife, scissors, bottle opener, file.
Two Para-cord bracelets: You never know when you might need rope. One is usually enough but I wear the second to remember my grand-mother by.
Wallet with ID and Conceal Handgun Carry License.
I hope this provides a baseline on what to carry with you to make sure you get home because that is the goal of all of us.
This is going to get a little technical but bear with me. True mil-spec for the M16 family of weapons can be a slippery slope for discussion. The fact of the matter is that there aren’t any commercially available rifles that fit full MIL-STD, the bottom line is that commercially sold rifles are not subjected to government inspectors and deviate from the procurement data sheets which require certain characteristics. In saying that, the “mil-spec” AR rifles that you see on the market are built with same components that provide uniformity and interchangeability of various components such as roll pins, buffer tubes, etc.,
Below is the actual list of government specifications on this type weapon:
Accuracy: 5″ at 100 yards with iron sights.
Barrel: MIL-B-11595E / 4150 Chromemoly (with other chemical requirements from the military)
Barrel Life: Minimum 6000 rounds.
Bolt: High Pressure Tested (HPT) (which means they shoot a super over pressure round and make sure it does not blow up), Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI) this is an x-ray for metal, Shot Peened which is a surface hardening process which gives more strength to the bolt.
Upper and Lower forged 7075 aluminum.
To compare, we’ve selected the commercial DPMS Sportical rifle:
Barrel 4140 Chromemoly Rockwell Hardness of 28-32 (less carbon and is a weaker steel and therefore will not last as long. Only Chrome lined as a factory add on.)
Upper Receiver: Extruded 7029 T6 aluminum (extruded mean basically was cut from a mold, 7029 is also relatively soft.)
Lower: Forged 7075 aluminum.
Bolt: Not HPT, MPI or shot peened.
The end result in purchasing such a rifle is ultimately paying a little less for a rifle with about 3000 rounds of barrel life, softer uppers and barrels.
Now, to go forward a bit, on the other side of the coin…there ARE some high end commercial AR type rifles that can outperform and outlast some of the standard GI rifles, for this example I have elected to look at the LWRC M6 series, some other carbines that beg mentioning would be the HK MR556, THOR TR15P CQB, KAC SR15 and so on.
Accuracy two independent tests confirm that the LWRC can shoot sub 2″ at 100 yards with iron sights.
The M6A2 comes with a target crowned match barrel that further increases accuracy. This rifle is in use by the DEA and the particular issue rifle tested fired 1.44″ average groups with a best of 1.28″ with 55 grain full metal jacket ammunition.
Barrel: 4145 Chromemoly which is considered a superior steel for shock and wear resistance also has a NiCorr surface conversion that extend barrel life to 20,000 rounds. Even the new M855A1 round in use by the Army which has cut mil-spec barrel life for 3,000 rounds. LWRC is good for 8,000-10,000 per LWRC testing for the Individual Carbine Program for the Army.
Bolts: HPT, MPI, shot peened, also given a special nickle coating that nearly eliminates corrosion and is self lubricating. This aids in one of the AR platforms most common malfunction of running a dry rifle.
Short Stroke Piston: This prevents propellant gasses from getting into the chamber and covering the bolt and internal parts with gunpowder residue this aids in reliability. The piston further cuts down on recoil which aids in accuracy.
Upper and Lower receiver is 7075 forged aluminum.
The back up sights are also forged from 7075.
The LWRC M6A2 5.56 is the issue rifle for the DEA who use it from Columbia to Afghanistan.
The Ultra Compact Individual Weapon (UCIW) was just selected as the personal defense weapon for the British military and will be issued to their Special Forces, helicopter, and vehicle crewmen. Who demand a compact weapon that is capable of throwing out a wall of rifle fire not sub-machineguns or pistols in 9mm.
Also Shooting Times declared the LWRC M6 the best option for the Army’s Individual Carbine Program (ICP).
The LWRC is beyond a mil-spec rifle (whatever that means) as the current mil-spec was written in the 1960s using 1960s technology with just a few adjustments in the last few years but nothing in the way of the operating system or how the rifle is put together. Colt was even told with withdraw their piston rifle from the ICP as the Army had no intention of changing rifles or operating systems. With a 20,000 barrel life and match grade accuracy and all of the M4 reliability issues corrected the LWRC is the an excellent option for the serious shooter.
Fair warning this is not my typical post here, but I wanted to let everyone know about our new firearms center in Northwest Arkansas.I learned about THOR Firearms Sales and Distribution by seeing a sign for a concealed carry class on a building next to a resturant I frequent and took a peak in the building and saw signs for EO Tech, LWRC, Barrett, and THOR Firearms inside needless to say my interest jumped because until now there was really no place to get this type of gear in North West Arkansas. I followed this up with an email and two days later I was talking to John and Kyra Fleming. We talked for two hours during my first conversation with them and knew right then I had met two people with the same passion for firearms, training, and customer service that I have.
August 24th was the Grand Opening of what is going to be the center for firearms sales, distribution, and training in Northwest Arkansas. John and Kyra along with their staff are dedicated to making the shop into the gun store you always wanted to go to. If you want to come in an grab a chair and talk guns, emegency preparedness, training, or any other topic this is the place to do it. The one thing we cannot stand for is a customer not to have a gun in their hand when they come in the shop as we know that we are offering the highest quality tactical and self defense firearms around. So if you are in the area come see us we are stocked with some of finest firearms you will ever find. Very few shops are going to hand you an HK P30 and then turn around and pull a LWRC REPR off the wall for you to handle next. We also have TAG brand nylon gear which is the operators choice, we also have emergency food for the preppers which we are as well. Our inventory is always growing as we are Kimber Master Dealer, Beretta, Heckler and Koch, Smith and Wesson, Sig Sauer, and we are sole FN Military / Law Enforcement dealer in the area. As mentioned before if we do not have it we will get it for you. This store is the place for shooters run by shooters.
With the heat wave we have experienced I was looking for a minimalist IWB holster that I can use with shorts and a t-shirt. After seeing an article on the VersaCarry in one of the firearms magazines I thought I would give it a look.
What I was looking for in this holster was:
How well does the pistol conceal: With summer weight clothes keeping your handgun conceal is tough. I have worn this for the last three weeks nearly exclusively and have had not issues with printing or odd bulges. I was even standing with a group of police officers and they did not notice until they asked what I was carrying. At which point they wanted more information on how to get one.
Comfort: I have no complaints about it either standing or sitting. I have worn it in the car while driving and while sitting in restaurants. Something you will have to do though is wear two t-shirts one between yourself and the pistol and then of course one to cover this pistol. It may seem that defeats the purpose to being cooler but I have found that a dry fit between the pistol and skin with another shirt covering is comfortable enough. I have also back packed with it on and while I did move it from the 4-3 o’clock positions it was not uncomfortable at all.
Speed: I want to make sure I did not lose much draw speed between this and my other concealment holster and have found that I am nearly identical from the signal to first round on target.
Multi carry options: You can carry strong side, at the 3,4,5 o’clock position, small of back, and cross draw. With a pocket pistol you could even do the appendix carry.
Affordability: For $25.00 which includes the optional trigger guard (not really an option you need to buy this) it was affordable enough to try.
To test how well the VersaCarry holds the pistol I held it upside down for five minutes it moved half an inch, I then did jumping jacks, and sit ups and no movement. It does work best when using a pistol belt I have also carried while wearing a dress belt and on a trip to the store one early Sunday morning while not advisable with gym shorts.
While I very much like this rig I have a couple of complaints.
You cannot re-holster with the VersaCarry System once you have drawn you must Clip, Click and Conceal your rig. Defensive hangun instructors would say this is a deal breaker from the start. However I am willing to go to pocket carry for the short period of time it takes to put your rig back together.
Single action handguns are advised to NOT carry cocked and locked as you do not have a fully enclosed trigger guard. As I stated above buy the optional trigger guard (for me was not really an option) it is a good piece for added safety and adds nearly nothing to the weight of the piece.
While not a substitute for your high-speed duty holster it is very much suited for what it is designed for…a lightweight carry system that offers great concealability at an incredible price.
I whole heartedly recommend this pistol and will buy purchasing another when I get my new pistol.
I would like to begin by giving the good folks at Vortex Optics a big thank you and it is great to know that a company still stands behind its guarantee. I had a problem with my scope, I called customer service, mailed it in and had a new optic back in less that five business days.
The beauty of the Picatinny rail system is the ease in which you can add all kinds of stuff to a firearm that has the rails on them. If you are mounting a scope that does not have integral mount on it you still have to do a little work to do.
If you mount more than one scope a year you will want to invest in a Wheeler scope mounting kit it is a bit pricey especially if you add the 30mm tool but well worth it. It comes with an inch lbs torque driver, fixtures for smoothing out 1″ and 30mm rings, thread locker for your bases if mounting to a non Picatinny rail, and what they call the level,level,level.
Also go ahead and buy a gunsmith screwdriver set Wheeler makes a good set as does Weaver, and B Square you can go crazy with these sets with some offering 70+ bits. The bits work better than the supplied allen wrench. If you do not have this kit you will need the allen wrench that comes with the mount, an inch pounds torque wrench with socket adapter and a good selection of sockets, a small level two if you have them.
You need a work space that you can lock your rifle into to ensure that everything is level. There are a ton of gun maintenance vises out there but MTM makes some good affordable products and there are any number of bench vises that will work. If you do any amount of work on ARs and you have a work bench and vise spend the money on armorers blocks. They will pay for themselves many times over especially after your first build.
Mounting the Scope: I mounted a Vortex Crossfire II using a 1″ Primary Arms Deluxe AR one piece scope mount
Step 1: Unload the weapon then check it again to make sure. Lock the rifle into your vise fixture or your rest. Clean your rails and the attachment point(s) on the mount to insure no debris or gunk is on them. Nothing is more frustrating that some little something keeping you from leveling your mount.
Step 2: Smooth out the inside of the scope rings. Follow the instructions provided in your Wheeler kit. This makes sure than any ridges or high spots created in the manufacturing process of the rings get removed. This allow for the entire ring to grip the optic which gives you the rigidity you need for accuracy. If you do not have the de-burring fixtures I personally would not attempt this step. You could removed too much metal and ruin the rings.
Step 3: Attaching the mount, this is where it can get a little time-consuming. Separate your rings and put the screws and tops to the side in a box or other place you will not lose them. Put your scope mount on the rails as far forward as it will go while still being in full contact as you do not want part of your mount hanging off and hand tighten (as you might have to move it), then put the scope in the bottom rings. Next set up your normal cheek weld and starting with scope as far forward as it can go move it towards your eye until you get the full view thru the scope. Remove the scope and now make sure the mount is level with the rifle then lock your mount down to the rails using your torque wrench tighten to the manufacturers specifications. Do not over tighten as you can damage the mount or screws. If your attachment screws are big enough for a socket use one and not the screw driver slot.
Step 4: Establishing eye relief, with the mount ready to go put your scope back into the open bottom rings and reestablish your full field of view. Now put the top of the rings down and screw down enough to where you can still move your scope. Now level the scope with the mount. I use the top cap on the scope as that gives a flat surface for the level and put another level on the mount. Now move the scope until it is level. Re-check your eye relief and tighten your ring screws. Again tighten only to the manufactures specifications do not over tighten as you can knarf up your screws. You do NOT need to use thread locker. If you do not have a torque wrench hand tighten until the screws stop do not try to force it. For example the screws that came with my mount are only tightened to 20 inch pounds.