Category Archives: Quartermaster

Brownells’ SAA Action Stones

Christmas is a wonderful time, especially if you’ve saved enough to buy yourself a new gun. For me, it was a Cimarron M1860 Type II Mason cartridge conversion in .44 Special. The revolver is well fitted and the cylinder throats and barrel dimensions matched. In casual shooting at the local Washoe County range, the revolver gave me 1-handed, softball-sized groups right over the front sight at 15 yards. The action was a little rough, even though the trigger was crisp.

I sometimes allow shooting to smooth up an action, but even after 200 rounds, the action was still rough. Eddie Janis of Peacemaker Specialists, in conjunction with Brownells, put together a set of three stones shaped and sized for the interior recesses of the average Colt SAA, its clones and copies. Janis wrote the instructions, which are clear and easy to follow. Upon disassembly, it was easy to feel the burrs on the inside of the action and the hand (which revolves the cylinder) showed gouging from a sharp burr in the frame slot in which it rides to rotate the cylinder.

The first stone wears quickly because it is coarse and very soft. It also quickly removed the burrs from the action mortise. The second stone is also soft and coarse and is wedge shaped to fit the hand slot. The instructions implore you not to use force with this stone because it is very fragile, especially since it has no support riding high into the recesses of the frame. Gentle pressure and frequent oiling combined with repetition smooths out the hand slot. The third stone is an extremely hard Arkansas stone and it is used to polish the surfaces very smooth. This third stone may or not fit the hand slot, and in this case it didn’t, so I used it just inside the frame.

I did use the third stone to carefully smooth the hand, which had been gouged by the burr inside the frame. The instructions warn you not to remove too much material on critical parts—such as the hand and bolt—and to use the hard stone to just polish these surfaces. The same goes with the hammer, bolt cam and trigger. While you need a jig to work on the hammer/trigger engagement surface, the working surfaces of the hammer and trigger can be smoothed to ease their passage across each other as the hammer falls. Janis suggests a Dremel to polish the curved inside surface of the trigger where it rides over the hammer, but I just used the hard stone.

One important note to remember: There are deep machining marks inside the frame. You need to smooth them—not remove them. Once they are smoothed over the revolver will run smoothly, and what’s left of the tool marks will hold oil.

In two hours I was finished. You must get all the stone grit out. I washed the parts in hot soapy water, blew them dry with a hair dryer and oiled them with FP-10. Two additions: I added a Heinie Music Wire Bolt & Hand Spring (Brownells has ’em) and I put a small lock washer between the frame and the mainspring. Doing so lightens the hammer cocking effort without sacrificing power or modifying the spring itself.

The Heinie spring works much smoother than the stamped sheet metal Uberti spring, and the washer reduces hammer-cocking effort without thinning of the mainspring or sacrificing reliable ignition.

The Brownells Colt SAA Hand Slot Stone Kit sells for $52.99, and the Heinie SAA Trigger/Bolt spring was $7.50. I’ve since slicked up a Cimarron 1872 Open Top and an 1849 Wells Fargo model with equal success. The stones can be purchased separately, and mine will be good for several more guns. If you can follow instructions you can achieve excellent results on the first try. I’m glad I tried it. The only other thing you need is a good screwdriver set. Of course, Brownells has ’em, too—including gun-specific sets with one just for the SAA with the bits stored in the handle.
By Jeff John

200 South Front Street
Montezuma, IA 50171
(641) 623-4000

Cimarron Arms
P.O. Box 906
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
(830) 997-9090

Old West Reproductions
446 Florence South Loop
Florence, MT 59833
(406) 273-2615

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Leave it to the shooters at Brownells to take an already excellent carbine sight—the L3 EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight—and make it even more versatile. With the “standard” EOTech EXPS, you get their well-known 65-MOA circular reticle with orienting “quadrant ticks” at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock—fast on close-range targets and great for ranging, since the 65 MOA circle neatly frames your average man from ankles to topknot at 100 yards—and a choice of either one or two 1-MOA dots. With the 2-dot system, as incorporated in Brownells’ CQB T-Dot, the center dot provides zero at 50 and 200 yards, while the lower second dot gives you an aiming point for 500 yards. This arrangement is for 5.56x45mm arms nominally tweaked for 62-grain slugs at approximately 2,900 fps, and easily accommodating other .223 rounds.

What Brownells did is create an opening in the lower part of the circular reticle spanning about 5 to 7 o’clock. Coming up from 6 o’clock below the circle is a bold “T”—sort of a pedestal—which puts you spot-on for close-quarters work from 7 to 25-plus yards, an ideal setup for home defense and other urban work. Just park your target on top of that “T” and fire—and with the center dot zeroed, you don’t have to worry about the sight-line / bore-line differential.

All the usual EOTech HWS attributes are there, including a bright, clear viewing screen with unlimited eye relief, an extremely rugged weatherproof and waterproof protective housing, 1/2-MOA windage and elevation adjustments, side-mounted protected fingertip-controlled On/Off and brightness controls, a tethered battery cap for its single-123A lithium battery, long runtimes and much, much more. This puppy is built for battle, priced at $549.99 at Brownells.
By John Connor

200 South Front St.
Montezuma, IA 50171
(800) 741-0015

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Diamondhead USA D-45

Diamondhead USA

For years, short, light, unmagnified optics—mostly reflexes and red dots—ruled the rails of AR-platform rifles. But now there are dozens of variable-power scopes designed specifically to ride the 12 o’clock rail and provide both speed and precision from close quarters to “out past Fort Mudge.” Regardless how hardy your optic is, it’s always smart to have backup iron sights (BUIS) on-board and on-call instantly.

That was no problem with the shorty optics—standard iron sights worked fine. But the new variable-power scopes, averaging a foot long and extending to the rear of the receiver, squeezed standard iron sights out of that limited 12 o’clock “rail estate.” An obvious answer was angled off-set iron sights. But they created their own nasty problem, snagging on hands, arms, clothing and foliage. The D-45 Off-Set Integrated Sighting System is a compact, high-quality cure.

D-45’s fold neatly on the rail and since they stand only 1/2-inch tall when folded, they can actually fit under your scope. Look closely at the photo on the left and you’ll see the D-45 rear sight tucked under that Optisan Mamba 1-4×24 scope, and at right, deployed. D-45’s unfold on two axes, springing out to the side and up at the touch of a lever. If your optic goes down, just hit the levers, roll your rifle to the left and engage! Deployed, D-45’s even duplicate the same height-over-bore of standard iron sights, and they hold zero like a vise.

I’m always doubtful about crankin’ complexity into design, but the D-45’s are a rare case of an innovative design executed flawlessly, offering strength and reliability. You get the tremendous speed and precision of Diamondhead’s unique sighting geometry, rendered in 6061 T-6 aluminum, mil-spec hard coat anodized and covered by a lifetime warranty. List price is $298 for the set.
By John Connor

Diamondhead USA
622 Union St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 739-6970

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CCW Breakaway Pants

I have been checking out two pairs of pants designed specifically for carrying a wide range of handguns in perfect concealment. The CCW Breakaways feature reinforced, adjustable front pockets fitted with hook-and-loop strips to allow you to configure them for handguns of various sizes and shapes, as well as accessory magazines or for routine pocket use. In addition, a simple twist of the gun hand opens the pockets for an unencumbered draw by releasing two snaps hidden beneath a flange at waist level. The flange, when properly folded over, lies under an ordinary pants belt and precludes inadvertent release of the snap closure. The examples I chose are “business/formal” double pleat slacks in both available colors—black and khaki. There are very attractive, of excellent quality and have survived a couple of wash cycles without shrinkage or loosing shape. Cargo pants and shorts are available, as are blue jeans. All variations are made in the USA of substantial 8.5-ounce, 100 percent cotton chino twill.


Cool but not “Tacticool.” There is nothing about the appearance of the
Breakaways to indicate the presence of a full-sized handgun.


Pocket carry is no longer the sole province of the mouse gun. The wearer enjoys
full range of motion and even the 38-ounce Custom Gold Cup rides comfortably.
The 1911 and 4-inch barrel revolvers represent the maximum practical sizes.

An instructional CD is provided for adjusting the holster pockets and clear instructions are available online. Trial and error was used to establish optimum accessibility and comfort. I’ve checked mine out with a 1911, a SIG 210 and a 4-inch barreled S&W Mountain Gun—finding all models ride more comfortably than the general run of IWB carry options and are substantially faster to deploy, particularly from the ultra-discreet Pocket Billiards presentation. The holsters also adjust to perfectly fit a Ruger SP101 and the FMK Generation II pistols. Waist sizes are 32-44 with lengths of 30, 32, 34 and 36. Retail is $85.99.
By Mike Cumpston

CCW Breakaways
1619 Lowell Lane
New Cumberland, PA 17070
(717) 774-2152

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LimbSaver Tactical Snap-On Recoil Pads

AR’s dish out a distinctive type of recoil to the shooter, and most AR’s still operate using the original, direct gas-impingement system. Love it or hate it, it’s a simple, reliable system with a minimum of reciprocating parts, which should minimize perceived recoil. Yet, for the size of the cartridge being fired, the AR designs leave me with the impression recoil is somewhat sharper than firing the same cartridge in a bolt gun of the same weight. This is particularly true of AR’s chambered for the 7.62×51/.308 Win cartridge, which necessarily operate with heavier reciprocating bolts and bolt carriers.

In my experience, the only exception to that generalization is DPMS’s new GII .308, which, while weighing only 7-1/4 pounds, recoils less than any .308 AR I’ve ever fired. The GII design uses a lighter bolt and bolt carrier and an advanced muzzlebrake.

Just introduced to smooth out and soften AR-generated recoil is a series of AR-sized recoil pads from LimbSaver. LimbSaver is no stranger to the shooting community, offering a complete line of recoil pads, barrel dampening donuts and slings.

Their proprietary secret has been NAVCOM, a tacky, rubber-like compound first used to reduce noise and dampen the shock absorbed by the limbs of compound and recurve bows, hence “LimbSaver.”

The AR pads are more sophisticated incorporating “collapsing air chambers” and upper and lower “impact pillars,” which even out recoil impulse while contributing to “controlled force direction” to minimize muzzle jump.

The new AR pads come in two sizes. The one pictured on the 3-position Vltor Modstock of a Colt 7.62 AR is called a “Tactical Snap-On Recoil Pad.” It neatly slips over and envelops the buttplate while adding about an inch to the length-of-pull. It’s a general use, non-specific pad adaptable to a variety of 3- and 6-position, AR stock models.
The other LimbSaver model carries the moniker “Tactical Pre-Fit Recoil Pad” and is specifically dimensioned to fit a variety of Magpul buttstocks.

LimbSaver claims their new pads reduce felt recoil by up to 70 percent and reduce muzzle-jump.

I’ll let the muzzle-jump claim slide, but the LimbSaver pads definitely dampen the unique recoil sensation dished out by AR’s.

The other quality I like about the pads is they add a non-slip surface to the steel buttplate of an AR. When you rest a LimbSaver fitted AR down butt-first, it stays and doesn’t slide down the wall or skate across the floor.
By Holt Bodinson

Sims Vibration Laboratory
50 W. Rose Nye Way
Shelton, WA 98584
(360) 427-6031

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Red Army Standard Ammo

Our domestic market for commercial centerfire ammunition continues to remain surprisingly bleak, but, thanks to some entrepreneurial outsourcing by Century International Arms (CIA), ammunition for the popular Soviet milsurp calibers to keep our AK, AKM and Makarovs shooting, is coming our way.

CIA is importing ammunition from Romania and Ukraine to keep our AK, AKM or Makarov arms shooting, such as this polymer-coated, steel-case 7.62x39mm 123-grain FMJ ammunition.

Century is turning to the ammunition making capacity of Romania and the Ukraine to bring fresh milspec 5.45×39, 7.62×39 and 9mm Makarov ammunition to the marketplace. Even the packaging is new and flashy.

The ammunition comes in “Range Packs” with six boxes of rifle cartridges in each pack. The 5.45×39 and 7.63×39 range packs contain a total of 180 rounds and the 9mm Makarov, 150 rounds in 3 boxes of 50 rounds each.

The ammunition is non-corrosive with polymer-coated steel cases and lead core, FMJ bullets. Projectile weights are 69 grains in 5.45×39, 123 grains in 7.62×39 and 94 grains in 9mm Makarov. The 7.62×39 is also available with a HP FMJ and a copper-jacketed FMJ called “Elite.”

I recently had an opportunity to test fire the Romanian 123-grain FMJ 7.62×39 in Century’s American-made Centurion 39 Sporter—a very high quality AK clone. At 50 yards with open sights, the Romanian ammunition would hold a 5-shot group of 2 to 2-1/2 inches. The average velocity over a PACT Professional Chronograph was 2,399 fps. Those results are what I would expect from milspec ammunition. Pricing will be pretty much what you dealer decides.
By Holt Bodinson

Century International Arms, Inc.
430 South Congress Ave., Ste. 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
(800) 527-1252

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The Best ACOG Yet?

I have lots of trigger-time with Trijicon’s ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) optics, and hold ’em in high regard. They’re always clear, sharp, rugged and their fiber optic and tritium dual-illumination system is outstanding. But when I picked up the new TA11-G I noted it’s longer and heavier than my 4×32 TA31RCO compact, so what’s the big deal? Two minutes later I stopped, lowered the carbine and asked myself, “Whoa! Could this be the best ACOG yet?”

The TA11-G 3.5×35 ACOG offers faster target acquisition, more eye relief, superior close-range performance and brighter light gathering as the payoff for the greater weight and size.

Compared to the compacts, you get faster target acquisition, more eye relief, superior close-range performance and brighter light gathering—that’s the payoff for the weight and size difference.

Briefly, the TA11-G is a 3.5×35 ACOG designed to operate as effectively at almost muzzle-contact distance as it does out to 800 meters, with faster pick-up and a significantly brighter, bolder reticle than its senior cousins. Rather than using a red or amber chevron or cross-hairs, the reticle on the G is a brilliant green donut—a thick circle, which hovers atop the familiar black-line bullet drop compensating “post.” It’s calibrated for 5.56mm.

That donut is extremely bright! The human eye “acquires” bright green faster than any other color; for example, when red and green reticles are illuminated at the same power levels, green can appear up to 25 times brighter. The G really illustrates that.

The donut is 4 MOA in outside diameter—perfect for quick ranging—and the “hole” is 2.2 MOA. At close range the donut seems more clearly defined than a typical, fat red dot, and at longer ranges the donut-versus-dot means you won’t be “masking” a significant chunk of your target.

This one’s as good for the game-getter as it is for a grunt. Find a supplier where you can visually compare it with, say, a TA31-F. Retail is $1,502.
By John Connor

Trijicon, Inc.
49385 Shafer Avenue
P.O. Box 930059
Wixom, MI 48393 USA
(800) 338-0563

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Scope Mount Design

Take pity on the poor manufacturers of scope mounts. They try to help shooters attach telescopic sights to rifles. A worthy cause, but when somebody heads to the range after screwing everything together, sometimes the rifle shoots so far off, the scope’s adjustments can’t get the bullets anywhere near center. And after the guy takes everything apart so he can return the mounts for a refund, the stupid rings have left a bunch of dents and scratches on the tube of his new $500 scope!

In reality, at least 90 percent of the time the problem is the top of the rifle’s action tilting this way and that, due to over-enthusiastic polishing at the factory. Or the scope mount holes are drilled off-center, or the barrel threads aren’t exactly concentric with the action. As for the “ring marks,” some scopes have slightly over-size tubes, and not all are cheap! But the scope mounts get the blame.
When scopes were first attached to rifles this problem didn’t really exist, because scopes were very long. They had to be, since the lenses of the day didn’t bend light very well. Some scopes were even as long as the rifle’s barrel, so they pretty much had to line up, and high-magnification “target” scopes stayed around until well after World War II.

Hunting scopes, however, got shorter well before the war, and eventually ended up in mounts 3 to 6 inches apart. With a 3-inch ring spacing, a misalignment of 0.01 inch results in a point-of-impact change of a foot at 100 yards. The average business card is about 0.01-inch thick, so a little error in rifle action polishing or machining can make a big difference.

Many scope-mounting holes aren’t drilled precisely either. It’s especially difficult to get two holes only 1/2-inch apart exactly in line with the barrel—assuming the barrel’s aligned correctly in the first place. I’ve seen the muzzles of 24-inch barrels almost 1/4 inch out of line with the center of a bolt action.

As a result, when making bases and rings for factory rifles, manufacturers must make them to fit an “average” rifle, but can’t account for every variation. In fact, one maker, whose precise bases and rings appear on many fine custom rifles, refuses to make mounts for one very popular factory rifle because that rifle’s actions vary so much he knows shooters from Alaska to Arizona would complain about his mounts.


The most common type of scope mount uses bases screwed to the rifle,
then rings clamped to the bases.

The Redfield System

However, there are ways for scope mounts to compensate for variations in rifle actions. One of the most popular mounts made, the design once known as the Redfield (now more often called Leupold) uses a front ring with a bottom dovetail. The dovetail rotates into a slot in the base, and the rear ring fits between two opposing screws on the base. Turning these “windage” screws back and forth aligns scope with the barrel of the rifle.

This is one of the oldest scope mount designs around. John Redfield started making iron sights in 1909, but 5 years later started making scope mounts, and by the 1930’s was producing the “Junior” mount, basically the same system produced by Leupold and several other companies today. At first scopes didn’t have any internal adjustments, but in the first half of the 20th century most had internal elevation adjustments, but some didn’t have windage adjustments. Consequently scope mounts were expected to make any necessary right-to-left changes.

Lack of internal windage adjustment lasted longer in European scopes than in American ones. In fact, when Swarovski started making scopes in 1952, some of their models lacked internal windage. Until about 1950, very few factory rifles from either side of the Atlantic were drilled and tapped for scope bases, and the job was done by gunsmiths of varying skill. Windage-adjustable mounts were essential not just for some scopes, but to compensate for varying scope screw holes.

By 1960 most hunting scopes had internal adjustments, and just about all factory centerfire rifles came drilled and tapped for mounts. Consequently, some shooters aren’t aware of the purpose of windage screws on Redfield-type mounts.

A friend of mine became a local hero a few years ago on “sight-in day” at a local range. Another guy started whining loudly about the new scope he’d just mounted on his deer rifle, since it didn’t have enough windage adjustment to get on a 2×2-foot target at 100 yards (a rare instance of the scope getting blamed, instead of the mounts). My friend noticed the guy’s scope sat at a noticeable angle on the rifle and suggested he could solve the problem with a screwdriver from his range kit. The whiner was suspicious at first, but eventually agreed. It turned out he’d simply tightened the left windage screw until it stopped, and the scope was several degrees off-line.

Unfortunately, Redfield-type windage screws don’t always hold the rear ring firmly. A number of years ago I was visiting Dave Talley in Glenrock, Wyo., before he moved his shop down to South Carolina, and he showed me his old .375 H&H. You’d think it would have Talley rings, but instead the scope was in Redfield mounts—and the rear ring had shifted backward at least 1/16 of an inch between the windage screws. “I don’t shoot it much anymore,” Dave said, “but I keep it around to show people what can happen on a hard-kicking rifle.”

In the Redfield system only the front dovetail ring has a firm connection to the base. It will hold scopes fine on rifles up to about .30-06 in recoil, but above that something sturdier works better, the reason several companies now offer mounts with dovetails on both rings. They’re very strong, but don’t always align the scope on every rifle. Burris’s Signature dual-dovetail rings solve that problem. They feature offset polymer rings inside the primary steel rings, allowing the scope to be adjusted in any direction desired, even up and down.


European claw mounts have a front ring with two hooks that slide into slots in their base,
and a rear ring that clamps into its base, often with a spring. The rear ring traditionally
has windage screws, because until relatively recently, many European scopes didn’t have
internal windage adjustments.


This Thompson/Center Icon has sturdy tactical rings clamped to integral Picatinny bases.


The sleek Conetrol rings are attached to the bases with opposing screws,
delivering strength with windage adjustment.

Simple & Inexpensive

The other really popular mount is the inexpensive model made by Weaver. Their tip-off rings attach to cross-slotted bases via clamps tightened by a cross-bolt, and are simple and strong. The only mechanical problem is the top-clamp around the scope tube, with screws only on one side. Tightening the screws tends to tilt the scope slightly. If you install enough Weavers, it becomes automatic to start the scope slightly tilted, but a bunch of companies (including Weaver) make rings to fit Weaver-style bases with screws on both sides of the top of the ring.

Weaver Tip Offs aren’t the most esthetic mount in the world, but they work far better than many rifle snobs realize and can even be used as pretty precise detachable mounts. Unfortunately, like dual-dovetail rings, they don’t offer any flexibility to accommodate variations in actions.

Bushnell used to offer aluminum rings for Weaver bases with the scope holes slightly offset, so one ring could be turned around for some “windage.” Sometimes a Weaver ring or base isn’t machined quite the same as the other and the same thing can be tried.

I’ve even swapped the Ruger factory rings on No. 1 single-shots from front to back and found enough variation to solve occasional windage problems, but the rings on Ruger bolt-actions are of different heights, so trying-and-switching requires more than one set of rings.


Some European rifles like this Sako come with deeper grooves on the receivers for scope mounts.
The rings on the Sako are Burris Signatures, with offset synthetic inserts allowing the scope
to be closely aligned with the barrel.


Probably the simplest and cheapest mount is the Weaver Tip Off. It’s pretty strong,
and if the slotted nuts are tightened alternately and gradually, it is quite
repeatable when detached and reattached.

Spendy Claw Mounts

Another scope mount variation called the “claw” developed in Europe. The front ring has a pair of hooks (“claws”) on the bottom that fit into matching holes in the front base. The rear ring attaches with a clamp, often but not always spring-loaded, so the scope can be quickly detached. Claw mounts often have some sort of windage adjustment in the rear mount, and are usually put on rifles by precise German gunsmiths, who normally get them straight.

They do cost a lot, however. When several of us optics writers went on a tour of various Zeiss facilities in Germany 20 years ago, Zeiss had just introduced a new and improved variation of the classic claw mount. We stopped at a gun shop to watch one being installed, and stood there for half an hour while a gunsmith tinkered away.

The Zeiss tour-guide talked all the while about the mount’s many advantages, then asked if Americans would be interested in such an obviously superior method of mounting scopes. One of us asked how much it cost, and the answer was about $600, before the necessary gunsmithing charges, the equivalent of $1,400 today. Several of us simultaneously answered “No!” Americans prefer cheaper mounts we can install ourselves, even if we whine about them afterward.

One variation not often seen these days is the side mount. Used both in Europe and the US, side mounts were primarily developed for lever actions with top ejection, and bolt actions with a slotted rear bridge. Since no rifles come drilled and tapped for side-mounts, they also require a gunsmith’s services, one reason the very fine Griffin & Howe side mount isn’t seen very often anymore, though it’s still available.

Almost all modern scope mounts feature some variation on all these systems. Even the slick-looking Conetrol rings are essentially a clamp-on, though the opposing screws on each base also provide windage adjustment. And all except rings screwed directly to the action can be made more-or-less detachable.

The ability to remove and reattach a scope quickly was considered just about essential until after World War II, when scopes started being sealed against internal moisture. Before then scopes fogged frequently, and hunters often needed to use the rifle’s iron sights.

Another solution was mounts allowing use of irons without removing the scope. These also have several variations, the simplest a pair of holes through the rings under the scope, but tall side mounts were sometimes used. Their main disadvantage is the difference in height between irons and scope, preventing the same cheekweld when switching between them.

However, due to the lack of bases on top of the action, side mounts can also allow the scope to be mounted very low. Consequently the scope’s reticle could be very close to the same height as the rifle’s iron sights, and with the scope detached the same cheekweld also worked for the irons. One of the rifles in my collection is a custom Springfield with a very low-mounted Lyman scope in a detachable Griffin & Howe side mount, with the scope’s reticle only a fraction of an inch higher than the iron sights.


Modern “tactical” rings are basically a very sturdy variation on the old Weaver design.
When clamped onto a Picatinny rail they’ll hold big scopes firmly even on rifles like
this Savage .338 Lapua Magnum.


One of the most popular mounts in America was first offered by Redfield in the 1930’s.
It features a front ring with a dovetail that turns into a slot in the base, and a
rear ring secured by opposing windage screws. This particular mount was made by Leupold.

Integral Bases

All these mounts use bases screwed to the action, but some rifle actions have integral bases. These vary from simple grooves like those found on .22 rimfires to complex dovetails and slots like those found on CZ, Ruger and Sako centerfires, or Picatinny rails, either machined or permanently attached. Scope rings that screw directly into the threaded holes usually used for bases are a variation on the same mechanical theme. Both eliminate intermediary bases, so connect the rings to the action more securely, at least in theory.

For several decades easily detachable mounts went out of style, though some hunters of dangerous game always preferred them, believing iron sights were quicker and more foolproof on up-close animals that might be rapidly advancing. Today detachable mounts are making a comeback, especially with hunters and target shooters who travel a lot, in part due to larger scopes: It’s easier to pack a rifle inside an airline case when a big scope is removed. Plus, a spare scope can also be sighted-in and ready to go in another set of rings.

There’s a definite trend toward simpler mount designs, especially clamp-on rather than turn-in or claws. Most “tactical” rings made today are essentially very rugged versions of Weaver Tip Off rings, and the Picatinny rails on so many actions are variations of Weaver bases, even though the precise dimensions are supposedly slightly different. Most heavy-duty clamp-type rings use sturdy bolts tightened with hex nuts, rather than the slotted screws of Weaver Tip Offs.

Also, today, many if not most mount manufacturers recommend certain torque settings for the screws on their bases and rings, partly because too many scopes get crushed or marred by heavy-handed installers who assume tighter is better. As noted earlier, dents and scratches on scope tubes are almost always blamed on mount rings, but normally the fault lies with whoever mounted the scope. They don’t make sure everything’s lined up straight in the first place, then really crank on the ring screws to “make sure the scope doesn’t slip during recoil.”

Most scopes for really hard-kicking hunting rifles, however, will stay in place with the 15- to 20-inch-pounds recommended by most manufacturers. Knowledge of correct torqueing has resulted in a pile of torque drivers appearing on the market over the past few years, but these can vary considerably in quality. I recently talked to a guy who claimed one of his scopes slipped with 20 inch-pounds of torque on the ring-screws, so now he used 27 inch-pounds, but I would bet a new set of Talley rings his torque driver isn’t very accurate.

Installed correctly, today’s scope rings almost always work very well. If we understand the reasons for the ways they’re designed, we might not even blame them when something goes wrong!
By John Barsness


Talley offers two basic types of mounts, steel rings that clamp to bases (above, top gun),
and an aluminum lightweight where the bottom half of the ring screws directly to the rifle’s
receiver. The best-known integral base system in America is on Ruger’s bolt-action and
single-shot rifles. Their stout steel rings (below) also work as detachables.


Burris Company
331 East 8th Street
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 356-1670

10225 State Highway 123 South
Seguin, TX 78155
(800) 266-3876

Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
P.O. Box 688
Beaverton, OR 97075
(503) 646-9171

Precision Reflex, Inc. (tactical rings)
710 Streine Drive
P.O. Box 95
New Brennan, OH 45869
(419) 629-2603

Talley Manufacturing Inc.
P.O. Box 369
Santee, SC 29142
(803) 854-5700

Weaver Optics
1 ATK Way
Anoka, MN 55303
(800) 379-1732

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Hornady Critical Duty Handgun Ammunition

Building on the success of the popular Critical Defense ammunition, Hornady took the concept one step further on the road to developing the illusive “magic bullet.” The existing round had proven very successful at meeting the FBI performance standard delivering favorable expansion and penetration in calibrated ballistic gelatin even after passing through heavy clothing including high-loft fabric and leather. Reasoning law enforcement personnel are very likely to become involved in engagements where a variety of barriers are present, Dave Emary, the Hornady engineer who developed Critical Defense, went to work on a round delivering optimum performance against such common barrier material as plywood, steel, wallboard and windshield glass.

A Hornady shooter fires Critical Duty rounds through barrier material, cloth and into ballistic gelatin. Note the camera mounted on the Glock.

Critical Duty ammunition features the FlexLock bullet. The notes relate to the BB calibration of the gelatin block (above). The bullet’s inter-lock (below) prevents jacket separation and the crimp groove elimimnates bullet setback.

According to the FBI protocol, two pieces of 20-gauge galvanized steel is equivalent to the weakest portion of a car door. Two pieces of 1/2-inch gypsum board is a fair proxy for internal residential and business structures, 3/4-inch plywood is also a common structural material and laminated automobile windshield glass is standard for the industry. The hoped-for outcome is the projectile will penetrate these barriers, penetrate 12 to 18 inches in ballistic gelatin and expand to 1-1/2 caliber in the process. In order to perform consistently, the bullet must be extremely well stabilized to eliminate yaw upon and after impact, resist deformation and plugging upon contact with the initial barrier and still expand in the medium.

Key elements in the emergent Critical Duty rounds are embodied in the FlexLock bullet that came out of Emary’s research. Flex Tip technology maintains the integrity of the bullet and aids in expansion. An interlock rather than core-bonded jacket allows use of a tough antimony/lead alloy core promoting penetration, expansion and maximized weight retention. Initial rounds include a 9x19mm load with 135-grain projectile at standard and +P pressures.
Emary had warned us to be wary of any manufacturer claims of absolute 100 percent perfection adding that windshield glass would occasionally defeat the new bullets. Nevertheless, on this occasion, the Critical Duty rounds, shot through the various barrier materials did, in fact, achieve an amazing consistency in expansion and penetration. All met the FBI performance expectations.

I requested a sampling of the 9mm load to test in my own pistols. These included the standard pressure load from the Grand Island visit and a box of the +P loading of the same bullet. The Critical Duty rounds are in nickel-plated brass to resist corrosion and facilitate low-light chamber checks. The rounds are sealed at the primer and case mouth. Low flash powders are optimized for each load and do produce narrow extreme spreads over the chronograph. I shot 5-round groups from 25 yards through my SIG 210 Legend and a loaner Kahr CM9 with 3-inch barrel. The FBI standard is rather fussy about accuracy, deploring groups that exceed 1.25 inches—though probably from a machine rest. The SIG clustered the standard-pressure load in 1.2 inches and the +P in 1.4 from my casual setup, clocking 965 fps and 1,140 fps respectively. The Kahr Arms pocket pistol put the standard loading at 891 fps into a 3.8-inch group and the +P at 1,023 fps into a 3.2-inch group. I did not have enough ammunition on hand to do expansion tests with the smaller pistol, but the FlexLock bullet is promoted as performing across a wide range of velocities, providing hope decent expansion and penetration will extend to the smallest of 9mm concealment arms.

A couple of years ago at the Texas Department of Public Safety Academy, one of the instructors remarked, “We are on the verge of getting the ‘Magic Bullet.’” While his enthusiasm was directed toward the industry-wide state of bullet technology, the Hornady Critical Duty offerings surely bring us a step closer to that goal.
By Mike Cumpston

Hornady Manufacturing Company
3625 West Old Potash Hwy
Grand Island, NE 68803
(308) 382-1390

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Order Your Copy Of The GUNS Magazine May 2014 Issue Today!

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The M1 Garand Rifle

Since I first got my DCM Garand (I will have owned mine three decades this year), I’ve been wondering when a good book on its design and evolution would appear. For such an important rifle, it seems other more exotic and sometimes lesser guns got better treatment. Now perusing Bruce N. Canfield’s epic work The M1 Garand Rifle, I understand.

Found within the 875 pages of this 6-plus-pound hardcover book are the first elemental self-loading rifles (some sleek, some more like nightmarish contraptions) from around the world born in the pre-WWI era, subsequent designs born in the conflict and continuing post-war developments, many of which are illustrated in full color.

The choice of ammunition for the new rifle was exhaustively tested before the choice to stay with .30-06 was final. It may have been final, but as WWII loomed, the Garand wasn’t in its final form and other designs, most notably the Johnson rifle, were advocated. A chapter is included covering this controversy.
Although one of Garand’s earliest rifles had a detachable magazine, Canfield covers the reasoning used to go with the en-bloc clip instead of the detachable box magazine as many of our other arms used.

The post-WWII era brought about new designs and a renewed interest in detachable box magazine, and these ideas proceeded even as the Korean War loomed and a shortage of usable rifles brought the M1 back into production.

WWII- and Korean-era sniper rifles are covered in detail as are the many M1’s sent around the globe to arm friendly governments. One photo depicts an M1 recovered from insurgents in 2008 during the Iraq war. Foreign-made M1’s by Beretta and Breda are shown with the markings found on M1’s issued by the Danish, Indonesian, Yemeni, as well as the Beretta BM-59 and its clones.

If you ever wondered about the varieties of implements issued to shoot, launch grenades, stab (bayonets), carry ammo, types of ammo and care for the M1, you’ll know after reading the chapter on “Accessories, Accoutrements, Appendages and Related Weaponry.”

As usual with author Canfield’s previous works, the book is very well researched, and written in an easy, accessible style. For the collector, the book demystifies the various changes and for anyone considering purchasing a rare “as issued” WWII-era Garand, this book will help ensure the parts are as they should be.

The M1 Garand Rifle, Bruce N. Canfield, ©2013, Hardcover, 8-1/2×11 inches, 872 pages, 2,150 photos (color and b&w), ISBN: 1-931464-56-1, $95.99, Mowbray Publishing, 54 East School Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895, (800) 999-4697,
By Jeff John

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Order Your Copy Of The GUNS Magazine May 2014 Issue Today!

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