Archive | July, 2010

Buck Vantage Pro Review

31 Jul

I picked up a Buck Vantage Pro and wanted to share my impression of the knife after a week of EDC use.

The Buck Vantage line is available in three grades: Select, Avid and Pro or good, better and best, respectively. Each grade is then available in two sizes: a 2 5/8″ blade (small) and a 3 1/4″ blade (large). Rather than try to describe all the differences between each grade, I would encourage you to visit Buck’s web site and check out the full specs on each.

I have the model 347 or the ‘large’ Buck Vantage Pro which has CNC contoured G10 scales and a 3 1/4″ blade of S30V. Heat treating on the Pro (as well as the Avid blades) is by Paul Bos, the guru of heat treating. All of the knives treated by Paul have his name and flame logo stamped or etched on the blade. Paul’s shop is actually located within the Buck factory in Post Falls, Idaho – a pretty cool arrangement.

Under the G10 scales are dual stainless steel liners with an integral liner lock. My preference would be for Buck to offer a titanium liner option for reduced weight, but that would bring a substantial increase in price.

The Vantage comes with a drop-point blade that resembles the blade offered in the Buck Mayo TNT titanium frame lock. In practice I’ve found the blade shape to be good for slicing veggies and opening packages. I even used it to dig a stray field point out of a tree during a pre-season bow practice session.

The Vantage offers one hand opening through either a thumb hole or a flipper. I tend to use the flipper although the thumb hole works just as well. Lock-up is solid whether flicking the blade open or using the thumb hole.

The Vantage Pro is an easy carrying knife that rides comfortably in the pocket. It’s pocket clip is attached to the end of the rear bolster allowing for ‘deep’ carry. In other words, when the knife is clipped in your pocket, all you see is the clip. One can debate the merits of this, but I like the design. The clip is also reversible for left or right pocket carry.

Buck has a devoted group of fans (including myself) and collectors, but they also have their detractors who consider them a second tier manufacturer below Benchmade, Spyderco and others. In the case of the Vantage Pro, it’s quality is easily as good or better than similar knives from other makers but at a substantially lower price.

In fact the Vantage Pro is an extremely good value. I can’t think of a knife from any other manufacturer that offers S30V steel, G10 scales, is made in the USA and retails in the $60-$75 range like this knife does. Add in Buck’s Forever Warranty and reputation for excellent customer service and you have a winner! Check out the Vantage Pro for yourself and I think you’ll agree.

Benchmade Subrosa Hitting the Shelves

30 Jul

The much anticipated Benchmade Subrosa (790) has become available in stores recently and the initial user reviews on the various knife forums are strong. Custom knife maker Matthew Lerch, who specializes in high end folders, is the designer.

The Subrosa is a titanium framed mono lock with Benchmade’s Nitrous assist. I have their Stryker with the Nitrous assist and the mechanism has become my personal favorite among the various assisted opening designs. The Subrosa’s blade 3.76″ of S30V with a shape that reminds me of the legendary Benchmade 710.

Here are specs on the Subrosa from Benchmade:

“Benchmade’s first assisted titanium monolock is sure to fit naturally in the palm like an extension of your own hand. The Subrosa has a nitrous assisted mono-lock and a clip point blade with a thumbstud opener. The S30V premium stainless steel blade has a 58-60HRC and machined titanium handles with a steel carry-clip.

Features
Thumb-stud opener
Nitrous assist mono-lock
Clip point blade
Country of origin: USA
Specifications
Blade Length: 3.76″ (9.55cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.125″ (3.175mm)
Open: 8.40″ (21.33cm)
Closed: 4.64″ (11.78cm)
Weight: 3.80oz. (112.37g)
Handle Thickness: 0.41″ (10.41mm)”

Retail prices are around $200. That’s quite reasonable for a higher-end gentlemans folder.

Ruger to Pursue M4 Upper Contract?

29 Jul

During their 2010 Q2 conference call this morning, Ruger CEO Michael Fifer discussed the possibility of government contracts for the Ruger SR-556 AR platform rifle. According to Fifer the Ruger SR-556 program is so new it would likely take years to gain a foothold in the military and police markets. However he did mention the possibility of pursuing a contract to supply replacement M4 uppers to US armed forces. When queried about the caliber of these replacement uppers he stated “I don’t even think the Pentagon knows”. Additional details on their pursuit of an M4 contract, or what the possible specs would be (would it have a piston????), were not discussed.

Fifer talked about the large number of first time gun buyers during the recent boom in gun sales and whether they will become repeat customers. He believes some of these new buyers are likely to purchase a second or third firearm since they had already crossed any perceived barriers when purchasing their first gun.

Fifer does not think the recent favorable Supreme Court decisions in Washington D.C and Chicago will have a large impact in the firearms market. These cities have quickly passed new laws making private firearm ownership nearly impossible, according to Fifer.

When asked whether Ruger would enter the derringer market, Fifer said the derringer market was good but quite small at about 50,000 units annually. A Ruger derringer would be a nice compliment to their SAA revolvers, but don’t expect them to enter such a small market.

Below is the Ruger press release announcing their 2010 Q2 earnings:

————————————————————————————

Ruger Reports Q2 Earnings, Declares Dividend
SOUTHPORT, CONNECTICUT–Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE-RGR), announced today that for the second quarter of 2010, the Company reported net sales of $64.4 million and earnings per share of 43¢, compared with sales of $72.4 million and earnings per share of 46¢ in the second quarter of 2009.

For the six months ended July 3, 2010, net sales were $132.7 million and earnings were 86¢ per share. For the corresponding period in 2009, net sales were $135.9 million and earnings were 76¢ per share.

The Company also announced today that its Board of Directors declared a dividend of 10.0¢ per share for the second quarter, for shareholders of record as of August 13, 2010, payable on August 27, 2010. The amount of the dividend was based on a percentage of Operating Profit after adjustment for certain items, the same approach used by the Company since 2009. Under this approach, the amount of the quarterly dividend fluctuates directly with certain operating results of the Company.

Chief Executive Officer Michael O. Fifer made the following comments related to the Company’s results of 2010:

* New product introductions remain a strong driver of demand and represented $42 million, or 32% of sales, in the first six months of 2010.

* The estimated sell-through of the Company’s products from distributors to retailers in the first half of 2010 increased 1% from the first half of 2009, despite a reduction in National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks of 2% during this period.

* Cash generated from operations during the first half of 2010 was $17.8 million. At the end of the second quarter of 2010, our cash and equivalents totaled $58.7 million. Our current ratio is 4.0 to 1 and we have no debt.

* During the first half of 2010, capital expenditures totaled $12.6 million, much of it related to tooling and equipment for new products. We expect to invest approximately $18 to $20 million for capital expenditures during 2010.

* At the end of the second quarter of 2010, stockholders’ equity was $109 million, which equates to a book value of $5.68 per share, of which $3.05 per share was cash and equivalents.

* For the third consecutive year, a Ruger handgun has been named the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence “Handgun of the Year”. The Ruger SR9c is the compact version of the SR9 striker-fired pistol, one of the slimmest and most ergonomic 9mm pistols on the market today.

The Company filed its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the second quarter of 2010. The financial statements included in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q are attached to this press release.

The Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q is available on the SEC website at www.sec.gov and the Ruger website at www.ruger.com/corporate/. Investors are urged to read the complete Form 10-Q to ensure that they have adequate information to make informed investment judgments.

About Sturm, Ruger
Sturm, Ruger was founded in 1949 and is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of high-quality firearms for the commercial sporting market. Sturm, Ruger is headquartered in Southport, CT, with manufacturing facilities located in Newport, NH and Prescott, AZ.

Les Baer Tactical Bolt Action Rifles

28 Jul

There are a couple of good write-ups out there on the new Les Baer Tactical Bolt Actions, all reporting amazing accuracy with the rifle. Apparently they live up to the guarantee of 10 shot 1/2″ groups at 100 yards with match grade ammo!

Models available include the LBC Tactical Recon:

And LBC Tactical Varmint:

Stanton Wormley, Jr. (American Rifleman) reported his best average group with a .308 Tactical Recon was 0.38″ using 168 grain Hornady TAP FPD: American Rifleman “Accuracy Matters with Les Baer’s Tactical Recon”

Greg Rodriguez (Shooting Times) reported a best average group with a .206 Rem Tactical Recon was 0.39 with 139 grain Cor-Bon Scenar: Shooting Times: Les Baer’s Bolt Action

There are also some good comments on the new rifles over at Accurate Shooter Blog: New Tactical Bolt Action Rifles from Les Baer.

Steyr Arms to Import MA-1 and SA-1 Pistols

28 Jul

Steyr Arms will be importing their MA-1 and SA-1 pistols to the US starting in August of 2010. From Steyr Arms:

We are pleased to announce that Steyr Arms will again import the Steyr MA-1 and SA-1 line of pistols starting in August. SAI will import additional quantities of both models in both a 9mm version as well as a .40 S&W. The MA-1 and the SA-1 were two of Steyr’s best selling models, but the fall of the dollar versus the euro over the last several years caused the price point to escalate far too high to import. Internationally, the pistols sell for 610 Euro or over $800 at a 1.4 exchange rate.

However, SAI felt the price point needed to be much lower to truly compete in the US market. Due to a bulk buying agreement with Austria and the recent rise of the dollar against the Euro, it became much more economical to import some additional pistols into the USA.

Starting in August, SAI will be re-releasing both the MA-1 and SA-1 versions at a suggested retail price of $649. We are very excited to be able to offer these items again to the Steyr fanatics out there. Thank you for all of the emails and feedback over the last two years encouraging us to bring back the pistol! For more information about the pistol series, see your local Steyr retailer or call us at 205-655-8299. Steyrarms.com.

Drooling Over the Barrett REC7 AR Rifle

27 Jul

I’ve been drooling over the Barrett REC7 in 6.8SPC lately. I don’t know whether it’s because of the rifle itself or the fantastic job Barrett is doing in marketing it. In any case, I want one!

The REC7, previously known as the Barrett M468, is a piston driven M4 style AR. It’s available in either 5.56 or 6.8SPC. MSRP is in the $2,500 range. Here is some info from Barrett’s web site on the REC7:

Cool under pressure.

Under the familiar exterior lies an evolutionary design that few can match. REC7 rifles are made for those who value quality, dependability and performance . . . and for those who don’t have the option to fail.

The REC7’s operating system was designed to be soldier-proof, the highest accolade as to which a firearm design can aspire. A minimal number of parts and a clean-running piston system add up to a low-maintenance design with increased reliability. The piston operated system keeps heat and fouling out of the receiver, which means less time cleaning and more time putting bullets where they need to go. Cooler parts last longer, cooler guns run longer. REC7 was made to run hard.

The 17-4 stainless piston transferring energy to the bolt carrier is the most robust in the industry. Its hardened one piece piston is superior to multi-component designs. The bolt carrier, machined from a monolithic block of 8620 steel features an integral piston strike face — no separate gas key to shoot loose and another industry first.

The REC7 gas block is chrome lined and the gas regulator is nitrided for added durability, with a 1913 rail machined into the hardened billet gas block. Operators can configure the REC7 with iron sights or run slick for use with optics. The gas regulator position is firmly held in place with a substantial detent that cannot get knocked out of position with hard use.

The REC7’s forged 7075 aluminum upper and lower receivers are Type 3 hardcoat anodized. The mil-spec lower receiver houses an ultra-dependable single stage trigger. The upper receiver supports a free-floated, 16-inch, hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel with M4 feed ramps. The A2 style flash hider reduces muzzle flash and acts as a standard interface for accessories and support gear.

No matter what your mission, the REC7 can get the job done. Whether that mission means putting venison on the table, taking home a trophy at the local rifle match, serving a high-risk warrant, or jumping out of a C-130 at zero dark thirty — REC7 has you covered.

Remington Versa Max Sneak Peek

26 Jul

Remington offers this sneak peek of their new VersaMax shotgun during a 250,000 round torture test.

I can’t see many details about the gun from the video clip, but they sure have a pile of spent shells there!

——————————————————————————————

7/27/2010 Update: Remington is continuing to build our anticipation of their new shotgun. Below is a banner ad from their web site indicating the gun will handle “any load, anywhere, every time.” The styling looks much like an 1100 / 11-87 which is a good thing in my opinion.

————————————————

Update 7/29/2010:

Remington loaded another quick video clip today of the new VersaMax. This time giving a closer view of the gun firing three quick shots of 3 1/2″ loads.

————————————————-

Update 7/31/2010:

Remington added two more video clips of their new shotgun today and confirmed the name of the new gun as Versa Max (apparently two words).

Here is a quick view of the gun’s case with the Versa Max logo:

And here is a butt to muzzle close-up clip of the gun. Looks sharp:

—————————————————————————————–

Update 8/4/2010:

Remington released a new video on the Versa Max introducing a self-regulating gas system they are calling ‘Versaport’. The Versaport system self regulates the number of open gas ports in the chamber/barrel area based on the length of the shell. So you can load and shoot any combination of 2 3/4, 3 and 3 1/2 inch shotshells without needing to adjust the gas system.

————————————————–
Update 8/5/2010

The Shooters Log over at the Cheaper Than Dirt site has an in-depth sneak peek on the Versa Max with specs, models and MSRP’s.

One little tid-bit from their post: Remington engineers fired 250,000 rounds through the Versa Max in testing which would be an average of 425 every day for a year.

It has a hardened anodized aluminum receiver, a TriNyte coated barrel and gas system with nickel plated internal components providing corrosion resistance.

Canik USA to Import Canik 55 Pistol

26 Jul

Last week I blogged about the Turkish made Canik 55 pistol which resembles the CZ 75. Well I discovered that a company called Canik-USA has been formed to be the exclusive US distributor for the pistol, designated as the model .

MSRP on the base model is $485.00 so the street price should be pretty attractive.

Here are some specs on the base model ‘C100B’ from the Canik-USA web site:

“With the artistry and craftsmanship of Canik55 it is no wonder why they have become a leading provider for the Turkish military and police forces. As the only privately held Turkish company with a NATO quality assurance certification we strive to provide the most accurate out of the box quality heirloom firearms.

Our classic line of pistols including the C100, S120 and L120 are improved versions of the classic 75B pistols made famous by Ceska Zbrojovka.

Model: C100
Frame/Slide: Alloy/Steel
Finish: Black
Caliber : 9 mm Parabellum (9×19)
Body: 7.2 in.
Height: 5 in.
Width: 1.38 in.
Weight: 24.4 oz.
Barrel Length: 3.9 in.

Specifications:
• 3 hammer position safety (de, half and cocked)
• Cold Forged barrel
• Luminescent rear and front sights
• 2 – Mec-Gar® brand 13 round high capacity magazines
• All components are chrome plated
• Low trigger pull weight
• Double action/Single action trigger mechanism

Standard Accessories:
• Lockable hard molded case
• ASTM F 2369/California AB106 DOJ-approved safety device
• Cleaning rod and brush

Not Available in California, Massachusetts or where prohibited by law.

Canik-USA is not affiliated in any way with and is not an authorized dealer of Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod.”

USNI Proceedings Takes Aim at M4 Myths

26 Jul
Bartholomew over at The Firing Line Forum did an excellent job of summarizing an article in the current US Naval Institute Proceedings magazine. I think you’ll find the article and the summary below quite interesting. Many thanks to Bartholomew for letting me re-post his information!
The July 2010 article of the USNI Proceedings magazine includes an extremely interesting article by Kirk Ross (a previous USNI award winner for his historical writing of battles in Afghanistan) called “What really happened at Wanat?”.

Wanat by itself has been a rich source of discussion in Internet gun forums, so I was interested in seeing what new information the author brought to illuminate that battle. I was surprised to find that rather than just address Wanat, the author ended up challenging all kinds of currently held ideas on the M4 and the history behind it.

Here is a short summary of some of the key points I found interesting:

1. In 2006, the Center for Naval Analyses conducted a survey of Afghanistan and Iraq combat veterans (at least 5 engagements) and found the following results:

A. Despite studies by NSWC Crane in the 1990s and the two more recent Extreme Dust Test studies indicating that generously lubricated weapons perform better even in dust, the CNA survey found that soldiers using dry lubes decreased the probability of a stoppage by half.
B. Ironically, the more times a soldier cleaned his weapon during the day, the more likely he was to experience a stoppage.
C. Magazines were the number one complaint cited by the CNA survey participants.
D. Over 1/3 of survey participants had not been issued a cleaning kit for their rifle (these are combat veterans with at least five engagements!)
E. Accessories ziptied, corded or duct taped to an M4 increased stoppages by 2-3 times and more accessories = more stoppages regardless of how they were attached.
F. Soldiers using rebuilt M4s (apparently not a small number) were 3.5 times more likely to have a stoppage.
G. Based on the survey, CNA concluded that stoppages during engagements happened between 6.75-2.37% of the time or less with the M4. Large-impact stoppages (unable to engage the target for a significant portion of the fight) happened between 1.21-0.42%

2. The author also goes into some detail on the infamous Extreme Dust Test pitting the M4 against the SCAR, HK416 and XM8. Some of the new details from that test that I was previously unaware of:

A. The M4s chosen for that test were drawn from Army inventory and competed against brand new rifles from the manufacturers.

B. Six of the ten M4s chosen in the test did not meet the minimum military requirement for cyclic rate of fire (i.e., they were undergassed – not a great thing when the test involves lots of foreign debris).

C. Colt alleges that the ATEC testers were unfamiliar with the M16’s 3-round burst cam and counted 1 and 2 round bursts resulting from the funky camming mechanism as “stoppages” during the course of the test.

D. After this test, Colt conducted a DoD certified testing facility, Stork East-West Technology Corporation, to repeat the Extreme Dust Test with the above factors corrected and MilSpec 810F followed (Colt alleges this was not followed in the first test). In that test, the M4 suffered 111 stoppages over 60,000 rounds.

3. Colt takes off the gloves and flat out calls the writers at Army Times shills for H&K – “Numerous media outlets have blamed the M4 for the death of Soldiers at Wanat, or continue to deride the weapon in favor of the commercial off-the-shelf products of Colt competitors-part of what Colt alleges to be a “concerted media campaign” led by writers at Army Times, Military.com, and others to promote the products of German firearms manufacturer Heckler & Koch.”

4. Gas pistons – The Army has dismissed gas piston ARs as offering no significant increase in reliability (compared to the 20″ rifle) repeatedly. Colt started offering the Army a gas piston option (the Model 703) as early as the late 1960s. Every comparative assessment since then has reached the same conclusion.

A. “A December 2005 study conducted by the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), for example, which evaluated the HK416 and Colt’s Close Quarters Battle-Receiver (CQB-R), concluded that CQB-R “out performed the HK416 in mechanical reliability.”32 Other reports have rendered similar conclusions about other possible M4 replacements, including the XM8. The Army’s own April 2008 Small Arms Capabilities-Based Assessment, carried out to support “a small arms acquisition strategy through 2015,” did not fault the M4 carbine, but instead called for improvements in ammunition, sights, and optics.33″

5. Everybody agrees the M16 magazine is a problem.

6. Widespread agreement that full-auto and exceeding the 12-15rpm sustained rate of fire seriously degrades reliability.

Overall, regardless of whether you like or hate the M4, there is a lot of information in this article challenging how you think about it. It challenges the wisdom of the gas-piston conversion, it challenges the “latest & greatest” wisdom on weapon maintenance (lots of wet lube) in a dust environment. It challenges the perceived reliability problems of the M4. I’ve got some thoughts about some of the conclusions; but I am still digesting the article at this point.

Get American Handgunner, American Cop and Guns Magazine FREE!

26 Jul

You’ve gotta hand it to FMG Publications for offering FREE digital subscriptions to American Handgunner, American Cop, Guns and Shooting Industry magazines. Just visit their respective web sites and you can start reading! You can even browse back issues and sign up to receive an email notification when the next issue is published. Click on the thumbnail images below to go straight to the digital edition page of each magazine.