Feb 032018

I live in California.  In many ways it is a wonderful place to live (or at least that is what I keep telling myself).  The weather is awesome and…  well, I am struggling to come up with anything else, but the weather is pretty nice.

Political climate here is a little bit tricky, especially if are a gun owner.  As far as California political class goes, the residents of California are classified along these approximate lines (from most respectable to least respectable): Hollywood people (Harvey Weinstein et al), Sacramento politicians (finance by Harvey Weinstein et al), left wing academia (PhDs in basket weaving preferred), rapist and murders, non-violent felons, people who work for a living and, finally, gun owners.  If you happen to be a gun owner, it does not matter what else you do.  In other words, a PhD in nose picking does not redeem your sins if you happen to be a gun owner.   The only exception to that is if you are a gun owner wealthy enough to lavishly donate to carious politicians’ re-election campaigns.  If you do that, you can go out to the parking lot with a machine gun and mow down a bus full of nuns.  Noone cares for as long as re-election checks keep coming in.

Ultimately, California is marching toward finally abolishing firearm ownership, but they can’t do it outright, so for now they seem satisfied with making it ever more difficult in a step-by-step manner via a bunch of regulations that are so spectacularly idiotic only a politician could come up with them.

One of them is the definition of an assault weapon.  Not satisfied with the definition already on the books, California came up with their own ever changing definition.  I am not going to into all the details, but basically, if you have a centerfire semi-auto rifle (like the ubiquitous AR-15) you have to be real careful with how you equip it.  For example, if you have such a rifle with a detachable magazine and pistol grip, you are a felon.  However, if you have a finned grip that does not allow you to wrap your thumb around the grip, you are a law abiding citizen (for now).

Basically, if you have a detachable magazine with any of these, you are a felon: pistol grip, collapsible stock, flash hider, bayonet mount.  There may be more “evil” features, but these are the ones I remember.

To keep your build featureless, you have to either give up on a detachable magazine and separate upper and lower receivers to reload or make sure you do not have any other restricted items on your gun.  Here is an example:

Featureless build: Fixed ACE UL stock, Strike Industries finned grip, no bayonet mount, JAP linear device from AR-15 Performance

Featureless build: Fixed ACE UL stock, Strike Industries finned grip, no bayonet mount, JAL linear device from AR-15 Performance

Most of these different options are reasonably well explored, but with muzzle devices it is not all clear.

We know that flash hiders are not allowed (all the birdcage A2 style devices, multi prong flashhiders, etc).

We know that simple muzzle brakes like the ones used on competition guns to cut down on muzzle rise are good to go.

I think we can be reasonably certain that linear compensators are fine as well.  They do not do a whole lot to reduce recoil, but the re-route the sound forward so there is a little less muzzle blast to the side and quite a bit less back to the shooter.  The JAL linear comp that is in the picture above is one of those.  I generally like the muzzle devices from ARP since several tend to be very compact:

The specific linear compensator I use is this one:

Of the ones ARP sells, only JAL linear comp and SSB Shorty Brake can be used in California.  The hybrid design of the Vortex Comp makes it illegal here.

One other linear compensator I have used is from Kaw Valley.  It is a fair bit bigger than the JAL, but it works and many people like its aesthetics:

As far as competition brakes go, I do not have too much experience with those.  There are a couple that I have used and I still have one from Adams Arms:

It does provide for noticeably faster shot-to-shot speed even with a mild recoiling 5.56 chambered AR, but this thing is impressively loud.  One thing to look for with muzzle brakes is where the vents are.  If you ever shoot prone, you do not want any vents on the bottom of the brake or you will be breathing a lot of dust.  Also, having the vents on the top and non on the bottom helps control muzzle rise.

There are obviously many other good designs out there.  I am not up to speed on the latest ones since I do not shoot in competitions and I do not like loud muzzle blast.

I do recall trying Lantac Dragon and it was effective.  The rest of muzzle devices I have experiemented with were flash hiders and hybrid brakes which are no longer allowed here in Commiefornia.

 Posted by at 7:27 pm
Jan 312018

As I plan what to test in 2018 a few things come to mind.

Generally, I would like to do a careful overview of different 1-8×24 scopes priced in the $1k to $2k, so I will be doing that more or less continuously as I go along.  Besides, I do not yet know which scopes I will be able to get my hands on, so I will have to adjust on the fly.  This is a market segment I am interested in, so I plan to explore it thoroughly.  The products that come to mind right now are as follows (I am itnerested in FFP or DFP 1-824 scopes):

Burris XTR II 1-8×24 (I have this one and I plan to compare it to competition)

Trijicon 1-8×28 (I know where it stands, so I am not sure I will seek one out again)

GPOTAC 1-8×24 (I am very curious what they did with the illumination on this one)

Primary Arms Platinum 1-8×24 (I really liked the Griffin Mil reticle, so I want to test it)

Nightforce NX8 1-8×24 (the compactness of this scope is very appealing)

I know there will be one or two new designs, but I am not sure whether they will be here mid year or for next SHOT, so that remains to be seen.  I am comfortable extending this into next year if it means covering more products.

Am I forgetting any interesting offerings in the $1k to $2k range?  The only one I can think of is the Bushnell SMRS 1-8.5×24 and I am still a little mixed whether I want to test it or not.  It is another scope that has been out for a bit, so I know how it stacks up.

Another question is whether I should consider looking at some of the similarly priced 1-6x scopes out there.  When you increase the magnification ratio, one of the things that really has to be looked at carefully is performance at 1x.  It is easy to introduce distortion and make eye relief less flexible.  I expect that in the over-$1k price range, it is paid attention to, but it may worthwhile to see how performance on 1x compares between similarly priced 1-6x and 1-8x designs.

If you would like to make any suggestions or comments, please do so here on my Facebook page.

 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Jan 202018

As I plan out my SHOT Show schedule, I stumbled onto a new riflescope company called “Zero Compromise Optics”:

The webpage shows a couple of seemingly well thought out design and the rumor is that this is a new venture for Jeff Huber who ran Nightforce for many years and made an impact when ran Kahles USA later on.

Jeff knows what he is doing, so this got my interest peaked.

I will go chat with Jeff at SHOT and let you know what I think.


 Posted by at 10:14 pm
Jan 192018

Just saw this:

In a nutshell: the CEO of Scottevest clothing company is an arrogant jackass who just pissed off a significant portion of his customer base.  While I do not watch Fox news, this arrogance should not go unpunished.

I do not care much what he believes in his private life, but this is a bit much.  I have a few pieces of Scottevest clothing and they are going into the trash.

I’l be spending my money where it is appreciated.  Scott Jordan can go screw himself.

 Posted by at 9:59 pm
Jan 172018

This was prompted by a question I received on the Hide in this thread.

Here is the actual question: “Ilya, just curious, what could be the optical or opto-mechanical compromises associated with super short scopes like this, if any?”

I figured that it may take a little effort to write down, so instead, I talked into the camera for a few minutes.  I forgot to fix the focus distance, so the focus is hunting all the time.  My apologies.

I will try to re-record this at some point.



 Posted by at 3:11 pm
Jan 162018

written on January 16, 2018

I do not usually post much about new product introductions, but this one addresses something I was just discussing, so I figured I should.

I wrote a little bit about Shield red dot sights lately and I just so an announcement that they are introducing an even smaller version of their diminutive RMS reflex sight.

This one is called RMS-C and it is basically a narrower version of the RMS (all pictures are from the press release, not something I took):

I liked the RMS so much that I cut my Glock 43 for it.  It does overhang a little, but my options were limited and it does work well.  Now, as soon as it is available, I will get the RMS-C for my Glock 43.  Anything cut for the RMS will work with RMS-C (same screw locations), so this should be a painless transition.

Kudos to Shield, for quickly reacting to the market.

Now, I need to decide what gun I should put the regular RMS onto…  Don’t tell my wife, but I think I need a new gun.

It is already available for sale directly from Shield in the UK:

RMSc – Reflex Mini Sight Compact 8MOA

As soon as I see it for sale by a US-based distributor, I’ll add some links.

 Posted by at 11:51 am
Jan 132018

Elcan Spectre TR is a very unique riflescope. Elcan generally seems to march to the beat of their own drum and it seems to work out pretty well for them. I generally like Elcan products and have a lot of mileage with them. Some people like them. Some hate them. Few are ambivalent. I am generally in the former category since all the Elcans I have seen to date really agreed well with my eyes.

Elcan Spectre TR on a California-legal AR (yes, this state stinks so so much)

Elcan Spectre TR on a California-legal AR (yes, this state stinks so so much)

Interestingly, a lot of the complaints I have seen about Elcan center around their use or ARMS mounts.  While I  have not had any problems with the ones on my Elcan Spectre OS, but I still upgraded them to the new adjustable levers.  Spectre TR, however, eschew ARMS hardware entirely and instead utilize two simple nuts (that look like they are around 1/2″ or similar metric size; I didn’t bother to measure exactly).   The windage and elevations adjustments are external as is the case on most Elcans and were exceedingly robust in  my practice.

Generally, I really liked this scope and it is a strong contender for my “if I could only have one” crown. I spent a few minutes talking to the camera and here is the video. Let me know if there is something you are interested in, that I havn’t touched on.

Three magnification levels really extend the flexibility of this site beyond what you get with a single or dual power option. Generally, for a regular 5.56 carbine, my go to set-up is Elcan Spectre OS 4x with an add-on miniature red dot sight. Spectre TR functions basically as a red dot at 1x, offers optically excellent 3x for general purpose use and allows you to flip up to 9x for extended range.

I would have preferred a mrad-based reticle, to the BDC Elcan uses, but that is my complaint with many riflescopes. It appears that the military insists on the BDC set-up and companies who really focus on military sales simply go with what their customers ask for. Personally, I think that is a mistake, but to each his own. If you use something long enough you can get used to almost anything.

While the reticle in the Spectre TR is available in 5.56 and 7.62 versions, I really think the 7.62 version is a bit fit for this scope. It is a bit on a heavy side and makes a better match to a DMR style rifle than to a lightweight carbine. I had it on a lightweight carbine and took a class with it. While it worked well, it had a significant effect on the balance. There, my Spectre OS 4x is a much better fit.

On the 18″ Grendel that I shoot a lot and on the AR-10, it was a much better fit in terms of balance and the reticle worked reasonably well with both 123gr Hornady Grendel load, and with precision 308 ammo in the AR10.

 Posted by at 10:58 am
Jan 092018

My name is ILya and I am addicted to takedown rifles.  If there were a “Takedown Rifle Addicts Anonymous”, I would probably be a charter member.  The only thing that is stopping me from owning them all is the inadequacy of my wallet and the entirely indecent behavior of rifle manufacturers (how dare they expect me to pay them!).

Still, I own a few here and there and my favourite one is easily Ruger’s 10/22TD.  Or at least that’s the one I shoot the most.

Naturally, since I can’t leave things well enough alone, I made a couple of changes to mine.

First of all, while it is capable of excellent accuracy, I few it as a general purpose plinker, so I have not replaced the factory barrel (yet).  However, as soon as I get out of California, I will do two things: I will by a suppressor and get Tactical Solutions SB-X barrel.  It is not cheap, but it is a very nice quality barrel that allows me to avoid registering my rifle as a SBR.

As it is, the two main things I did was replacing the stock and the trigger.  Since this is not intended to be a match rifle, both upgrades were meant to make an improvement without breaking the bank.

With triggers, I went with Ruger’s own BX trigger group.  It is not as nice as some fancy triggers out there, but it is inexpensive and surprisingly good for the money.

With stocks,  I tried both the X-22 and X-22 Backpacker from Magpul and decided that for my purposes the X-22 Backpacker is a better design.  The length of pull is sorta midpack which is fine for me, but I really like the storage compartment in the stock and the ability to latch the barrel to the stock when disassembled.  That makes it perfect for shoving into a backpack when I am so inclined.

With optics, I should probably do a separate piece on rimfire scopes, but I will offer a couple of options.  Since I plan to mostly plink with it, I am not really looking for anything with adjustable parallax.  I am also not necessarily set on a scope with 50 yard parallax setting although that is handy.

What I do find important is to have magnification below 2x on the low end.  It really helps shooting quickly and shooting off-hand.  The scope on my 10/22 is an old Burris Fullfield II 1.75-5×20 with a very bold #4 reticle.  I might replace with something more modern at some point, but it is veyr compact, so it fits the rifle well.

Generally, tweener scopes make a really good match for a plinker and the two I have tried on this rifle are Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 and Burris Droptine 22LR 2-7×35.  Both are lightweight and very good for the money.  The Razor is not cheap, but excellent.  The Burris is more of a budget option, but you’ll be amazed with how nice it is for the money.

To be continued….

 Posted by at 5:17 pm