Category Archives: Weapons

Budget Semiauto shotgun

I was asked about the Black Aces Tactical Semi-Auto Shotgun, because TFB did a Video on it. No, I don’t know anything about this shotgun, and like James, I don’t trust it. Because Turkey can be slim shady and not very cash money on the products they export. I’ve seen things. Things I can’t unsee. There is one Turkish budget builder that I don’t instantly puke over, and that’s Stoeger. Mainly because of the ownership and the design which is a trickle-down Benelli. His budget of 500 bucks, that’s just an artificial self-imposed challenge and I’d rather save money for another month or two and splash out for the Stoeger M3000 Freedom Series. It’s 200 bucks more than Jame’s pick, but comes with better sights and an optics mount, and an action that is seriously Tried and True. I used to sell these Great Value Benellis left and right and they were SOLID and RELIABLE. So don’t take a chance on unknown factors. I sold them to guys that shot CASES of shells through them every single weekend. I don’t remember any of them having issues save for one guy that “cleaned it” but didn’t put it back together right. I fixed it within about a minute and it was good to go again. Maybe the Black Aces thing is fine. Maybe it’s not. Here’s the thing though. This is a DEFENSIVE SHOTGUN. That means it CAN NOT be allowed to fail. I’m not rolling dice on that. You don’t need a side saddle… The fanny pack thing is JUST FINE. In fact, I actually dig that as you can carry a LOT of shells instead of wasting time futzing around with elastic loops and velcro. Yeah, having shells on the gun is fine, but having a whole bag of shells on tap is even finer. And putting shells on the stock – that’s stupid. Try firing a shotgun from the weak shoulder with a face full of 12 gauge shells waiting to break your face. You still gotta be able to switch shoulders. I would think that James, having taken a class or two now and running The Gauge now… would have picked up on that. Oh well. He’s still learning.Anyway, don’t worry about the accessories which are not absolutely necessary… get the better gun and take accessories off another gun if you think you have to have them. Also, his choice of light is a good one.

The Stoeger is also just flat out better looking… Which isn’t important, but a nice bonus when you can get it. The larger bolt handle, better feed gate, and higher capacity out of the box. Winner on every metric. This is the Poor Boy’s Benelli for a good reason.

this happened

I’d write or even video a proper review of it, but to do that I’d have to shoot it. And ammo is a hundred freaking bucks a box right now. So… I’ll wait until I get some that’s reasonable. I only have 50 rounds for it at the moment. *sigh*

The is a Peacemaker chambered in .45 Colt, from the movie 3:10 to Yuma. It’s made by Cimarron. And it’s the smoothest SAA Clone I’ve ever seen right out of the box. Bonus: Due to the Cimarron’s use a clever rebounding firing pin… it’s safe to carry with all six, like the Ruger Vaquero and Beretta Stampede.

I’m a 1911 guy, but…

You guys know I’m not in the Gun Business anymore – Not in any way. But once in a while, I do talk guns. Mostly folks who know very little about them, who want to run their mouths about how great their Taurus is and then ask me what I think. I have to put in effort to not roll my eyes… Smile, and say they’re a great value for the money. And then I exit stage right as quickly as possible. But sometimes, I actually have a great conversation about guns. These are rare these days, and I enjoy them. But I’ve seen a trend with Gun Guys… This is something that kinda makes my eye twitch just a little… “I’m a 1911 Guy, but…”

So, saying you’re a 1911 Guy is supposed to give you some sort of Authenticity. A Ballistically Moral High Ground. Or some sort of Trendy Gun Hipster Status. Maybe it’d to establish some sort of Fudd ground… Like saying “I’m a 1911 Guy” makes you a True Gun Guy.

And then they say “But”. When you say “But”, that pretty much means that what you said just before, is total bullshit. “I’m a 1911 Guy, But…” tells me that no, you’re not a 1911 Guy. Usually, the sentence finishes up with them saying they carry a Glock or an M&P or something other than a 1911. Look, it’s simple… If you don’t carry a 1911, then you are not a 1911 Guy.

“But wait”, you say… You are going to tell me that you shoot your 1911 at the range the most often. That you’re a competitive shooter and you use a 1911 in your matches. Really? So you do all this training and exercising of your skills with a 1911… But when it comes to what you stake your life on, you do so with something else? What you just explained to me is that you don’t actually shoot with your Carry Gun, you just carry it. For emergency use. Dude… WHY do you even carry a gun? Just to have? So that life-saving device that you carry with you isn’t the one you train with the most? It’s not the one you challenge yourself with? Of all the guns you train with… the one you should be using is the one you are packing to bet your life with – and the lives of your loved ones. That’s the one you need to be working out with. So no, you’re not a 1911 Guy. You’re a Poser.

NOTE: The only guys that get a pass on this, are you guys out there at carry a gun for a living that’s either Department Issued, or Department Mandated… I know most Departments don’t even allow 1911’s anymore – and that’s sad, but not your fault. You get that pass, because it wasn’t your choice. I’m talking about the guys that have a choice.

I’m a 1911 Guy and a SIG P22X Guy. Any SIG Pistol that starts with “22” is awesome in my book and I love them. 220, 224, 226, 227, 228, 229… and I do quite often carry an M11A1, which is essentially just a 228 with factory night sights. I’ll carry that piece on special occasions, now and then. And I’ve shot the hell out of them for hundreds of thousands of rounds, and I’m very familiar with their handling characteristics.

Back to the 1911 again. The gun I carry most of the time, almost daily, is a 1911. Because while I love the SIG 22X platform with that smooth DA/SA trigger and rebounding hammer… There’s something very special to me about the 1911. No other pistol allows me to make such accurate first-round hits. And no other hit in a firefight is so important as the first round. Most of the time, that first round is also the last round. I love that the 1911 points so naturally, it’s a thought and not an action… I don’t do it – I just think it and it’s done. Sorcery. That’s a 1911 for me. And that’s why it’s my preference for the majority of my Pistol Packing Policy.

Out of all of the myriad of 1911 types and configurations out there… All of them being excellent, of course… my very favorite is the classic Light Weight Commander. In .45 Auto. This formula fits me to a T. I could actually quite easily just forego all other pistols and carry nothing but an LWC-1911-45. If I knew I was walking into a situation where I was going to have to draw and shoot, and that my life was on the line… I’d want no other gun on me.

(If I knew it was going to be an actual firefight and concealment wasn’t a requirement – SHOTGUN – but that’s another article)

Armchair QB MARLIN

Once Again, I am delving into the Dankness that is the Office of the CEO… This time, in the new office of MARLIN FIREARMS as now owned by RUGER.   The big question is what is to be done with Marlin now? 
The short answer, and the first answer… Is to keep doing what is being done.  And that includes  Existing manufacturing processes.  Quality Control Must Not and Can Not Slip.  Period.  The last time Marlin was acquired – it was a disaster.  That can not happen again.  Better to ship Late than to Ship Shoddy.
Now, Ruger acquiring Marlin offers Marlin some good opportunities. Such as rapid prototyping of new products and manufacturing of new lines for future products.  While keeping the traditions of Marlin’s history and style in current product lines.   This gives Ruger the opportunity to keep all of the Modern Cowboy Action under one roof.  Because Ruger has made lever actions in the past – and few if any remember them fondly.  This is going to take some of the Cowboy Steam away from Cimmaron and back to US Made. 
Doubling Down on the Cowboy Action genre is going to be important not just because of historic political reaction trends… But because the Western Genre is always cool and popularity surges happen. 
So let’s talk about the Western Expansion plan.  The CB line needs to be expanded first and foremost.  

The CB line offers the handsome straight stock configuration and a long octagonal barrel to give the rifle that distinctly old west and mesquite smoke flavor to the .45-70. But this is something that needs to be spread out across the line. I’d like to see a 39CB… A CB version of the 39A – which is pretty much the finest .22LR lever action rifle in the history of mankind.

The next CB’s that needs to happen is a longer barrel version of the 1894CB series. Currently limited to 20″. Which is a length that makes ballistic sense… But it just doesn’t have the look or feel. It’s also only available in .357 Magnum. Which is great. But I want to see it in .44 Magnum as well. And while we’re at it… Where is the option for .45 Colt? A gun that can handle .45 Colt loads, as well as .454 Casull. Because right now, anyone wanting a .454 Leve Action is going to have to go either Brazilian or Italian. And that just isn’t right.

While we’re at it… Let’s talk about the hottest thing happening in Lever Actions right now… Midwest Industries forends. Like them or not – they are popular like Sports Cars with Automatic Transmissions. Why, Marlin, are making customers go to the Aftermarket to supply what they want? That needs to be fixed. Why can we not buy this out of the box, directly from the manufacturer? Through an FFL of course. The Tactical Lever Action is here. And for that – You Are Welcome, Sirs. I was one of the few pushing this before anyone else was thinking about it. Two guys pushed it actually… Myself, and Gabe Suarez. And now the concept has taken root. Proving the Inception Principle… the most dangerous thing is an idea.

Let’s get into maybe what Magpul could contribute… A version of their shotgun stock not only looks good – but allows for some adjustability in length of pull to make sure the rifle fits the owner. And thanks to a suggestion, what a different forend might look like. Combined with a Big Loop… This is going in a good direction. Hmm… I don’t like the position of the Red Dot. Let’s move it forward.

There we go. That’s better.

There are two Lever Action Users out there. The Traditionalists, and the Modernists. The Traditionalists are the Cowboy guys and the Collector guys. They need to be satisfied. And a Cowboy Action Shooter guy is going to want his lever action in .45 Colt. Why not offer something for them? And that brings me to another product line… A Marlin 1892. That Winchester 92 pattern rifle is the most elegant designed lever action ever produced. Overseas reproductions corner the market. Here’s where Ruger’s manufacturing can come into play. With some design changes to incorporate greater safety, and enhanced accuracy.

The Marlin Product Line as a whole needs to be streamlined. Because it’s rather confusing to the Casual Observer. I’d kill off the .444 as it’s own line and just include that caliber into the 1895 Line. I would also add the .460 and .500 Magnum chamberings into the line somewhere. These would be great in a Trapper type carbine or a Co-Pilot.

I’d ax the Bolt actions the 795’s and the XT series completely. A big question surrounds the Model 60. Should it stay, or should it go? Personally, I’d hate to see it go. They always sold well, and many of us have fond memories of them and we probably still have one or two in the collections at home. So the options are, leave the line as it is… Expand the line to match the planned spread like the rest of the brand… Or we kill the line completely. Killing the Model 60 would be wrong. So we’re going to have to expand it.

So what are your thought and what would you do? And don’t say bring back the Levermatic. For the Love Of All That Is Holy…

Gerber vs CRKT

For a decent budget knife, CRKT and Gerber are both competing for Sub-80 Dollar knife budget. Both have some interesting knives, and both are knife companies I used to hate. But when you kinda start to groove on these new mini-cleaver type folders, these companies are a great choice. But which one is better?

Let’s look at their two very popular options. CRKT’s PILAR in size Large. The Large PILAR isn’t much bigger than standard PILAR, but it’s enough to make all the difference in everyday use. I am quite fond of it, and it makes small cutting tasks kinda fun. It’s a delightful knife.

The Gerber Flatiron is just cool. The blade shape, the handle shape… It’s a great knife to hold on too… and if your cutting jobs are mundane, this is a cool way of taking care of that work. You just like HOLDING it.

Both knives are of the same construction type… An asymmetrical frame lock on one side and composite scale on the other. Both sport a pocket clip. But that’s where the similarities come to a screeching halt. Because, let’s be frank here… The Gerber’s pocket clip blows. And as of yet, know one has stepped up to make a replacement that might work better. It carries just fine, but getting it to clip over your pocket is a real PITA, and I’m not talking about the bread. It almost ruins the knife.

Overall, the CRKT is the easier knife to carry, open, close and put back into the pocket. It fulfills the function of a folder better. And I think the build quality is a bit better too. The blade steel is D2, which is an advantage. Though, the Flatiron is available in D2 as well. But D2 out of China is pretty much just meaning its made out of some sort of actual steel and not just melted tin cans.

Once both knives are open though, the edge (sorry) goes to the Gerber with it’s longer cutting edge and straight razor geometry. It cuts better and can take a finer edge than the PILAR. And that sounds like it makes the Flatiron a clear winner… But the problem is that it’s stiff to open, even after a redesign has improved it. It’s stiff to close, even after a redesign to improve that as well. And again, the Clip is the worst thing in the world. It’s so bad, that I’d rather take it off completely and just carry it in a sheath… which doesn’t exist.

So which one wins? The CRKT wins. Overall it’s the better pocket knife – which is what these are. And it’s fun to use. Whereas the Flatiron just because a pain in the ass.

Accessorizing your gun

If you are going to set up a Rifle with accessories… You really need to take in the purpose of what the rifle is for. What the Mission and Objectives are. We see failures of this in AR-15’s all the time. So much so that it seems like people just like hanging toys off their rifle, because such owners at the Range and in the Classes tend to spend more time fiddling with the accessories rather than concentrating on the task at hand, which is engaging and destroying the target. The mission of a tactical firearm is the application of fine-focused violence.

The question is where, when, and at what range that violence needs to be administered. When you apply these such failures of reason to a noble arm such as a Marlin Lever Action, you compound the Sin and you should probably either fall on your sword, or fix your Kit. Let’s look at this rifle below… As it sits, this gun is Clown Shoes.
The Strengths of a Lever Action is the svelt profile, lightweight, and exceptional handling while delivering reliable and hard-hitting, sledgehammers to the target. But that’s not what we have here.


Taking a Lever Action and turning it into a modern Cowboy Tactical gun is fine… I’m not mad at that. I’ve done it myself and have promoted the practice over a decade ago. The areas we need to look at are the Optics and the Objects hanging off the forend.
Ignoring the fact that the Scope Mount is backward… This is a completely wrong scope mount to start with. It’s far too high for the gun. The natural line of sight on a Lever Gun is very low over the action and barrel. You know this if you are paying attention because that’s where the iron sights are. Not up high. The Scope is also set far too back. If this scope is actually set for your eye relief, then you are mounting the rifle incorrectly and you probably need to take a class. Then there is the question of if this is the right optic for the mission. If the mission is precision marksmanship, then the scope is probably incorrect, and the vertical foregrip is an interference.
If the mission is CQB work, then the scope is also incorrect, and the Bi-Pod is only adding hindering incumbrance and opportunities to snag on things and otherwise screw things up.
So, to fix this… You need a different optic, or at least move the scope foreward enough for good eye relief and to avoid the scope cutting your eyebrow. Google Weatherby Eyebrow.

Here we see a scope mounted properly. Low enough that you don’t need a cheek riser, and forward enough for good eye relief. Also note – the occular bell of the scope is not interfering with the hammer.
Here’s another good example of a tactically minded lever action. The Extended Eye Relief scope, or EER, is mounted well forward which gives you good clearance, doesn’t upset the balance of the gun, and it allows for fast target acquisition. And you can see, it’s nice and low. This is perhaps the most ideal set up for a magnifying scope on a lever action.

Then you need to decide if you should ditch the VFG or the bi-pod.
Considering that this rifle is a short to intermediate-range brush gun, I’d suggest tossing the bi-pod. I’d also suggest ditching the VFG because Hand Stops or an AFG would work better. For a short-range gun, I’d suggest an optical gunsight that maximizes your field of view. That means something none-magnified. But if you have failing eyes and you need some degree of Zoom, an EER optic would be much better suited to a Lever Gun.

In the case of non-magnifying optical gunsights. You can run any sort of Red Dot you like… The only requirement being that you mount it low. Something in a form like an ACOG will not do as that is designed to go on a flat topped AR and put the line of sight up where a regular AR iron sight is. This is too high for a Lever Action. Also, I’d suggest avoiding any bulky Red Dot sights. Go with something compact. Go with something that offers a wide field of view. These can be mounted further back on the receiver, and you’ll end up with a very nicely balanced weapon.

If you have to put anything out in front of the action. Bi-Pods and VFG’s are just not helping you. They are taking away from the advantages the lever-action platform gives you. Which is exceptional handling. If you need grips and pods and such… Honestly, you probably need a different rifle. At most, a lightweight and low profile tactical light. I’ve seen some accessory items that will allow you to carry one or two spare rounds on the fore end. Okay, that’s cool. Kinda dumb, but it’s cool though. Because you can’t reload a Lever Action Rifle like it’s a Tactical Shotgun with a fast move and slip that shell into the breach like John Wick. That’s not happening. But a spare round handy is fine if you like it.

The absolute best Lever Action set up though… Is completely naked with a sling.

That Old itch again…

I’m getting that old timey itch again… for a Cowboy Gun. I’d love a Colt Single Action Army, and for me that means a Ruger Vaquero. The Transfer Bar Safety is the business and that’s a requirement. Because if I am only going to have 6 rounds in the gun, I want to keep all six chambers loaded. A Six Shooter is best with Six. Not the standard Colt load five and carry it with the firing pin down on an empty cylinder.

I know of three cases in the last decade where a person with a single action revolver dropped the gun and it hit hammer first, discharging the firearm and the bullet impacted the person in the lower abdomen. One case was fatal, one wasn’t quite but should have been, and the other the person was luckly and only lost a testicle and has to use a pump to have an erection… Okay, so two of them should have been fatal. But never mind all that… my point is the Transfer Bar Safety is a Must Have item for me.

Ruger makes a fine revolver and their Single Action Revolvers are, in my opinion, the best value for the money. I was also a fan of the Beretta Stampede, which also had a transfer bar safety. Unfortunately, they discontinued those… They were great looking pistols to be sure. I know other makers are putting out fine Colt Clones… and there is nothing wrong with them at all. They are probably better guns than the original Colts were. They are made with the original pattern and some slight upgrades… and they have the firing pins on the hammers as the Colts did. So those are non-starters for me.

I think I am most fond of the 5102 model at this moment. Not sure why, maybe I’m itching for that big fat .45 Colt round. Because that cartridge proves that these guns are just not Outdated by any means. That cartridge is still getting work done, and in a Ruger… it can do even more. I also like the 4.6 inch barrel. Just a little shorter, I think it feels just as good, points just as good, and looks just right to me.

Springfield Armory MC Operator

If I were in the market for another full sized, railed 1911, I’d be looking for a Springfield Armory MC Operator. Let me tell you why…

Back when I was still in the Gun Industry, a Springer Rep came with a number of guns to try out first hand. I shot the lot of them, but the one I kept coming back to was the MC Operator. It just felt awesome in the hand, was exceptionally accurate for me, and it was flawlessly reliable.

A couple years after that, I was visiting the MARSOC armory at Camp Lejeune. We were fitting holsters for their new Colt Rail Guns, that won the contract to replace the MC Operators. The Marine Operators there spoke highly of the Springers and talked about how they never had problems with them… and the new Colts were giving them fits and nightmares. This made a lasting impression on me… and here I am years later again, and the MC Operator remains just as accurate and reliable for those that I know that have them and shoot them.

There are a lot of great railed 1911’s out there on the market. But few provide the bang for the buck value that the Springfield MC Operator gives you.

Cleaning and Lubrication

Over the last month, I’ve had an abundance of questions regarding Weapon Lubrication, Cleaning, and about what oils I’ve been using as of late, and what CLP I recommend.

First off, I don’t recommend any CLP product. Because the functions of Cleaning and Lubrication tend to be at odds with one another so any single product doesn’t do both of those jobs well. Some products do one job better than it does the other, and other products the opposite. I favor using the right tool for the job. So I like a dedicated cleaner, and a dedicated lubricant.

MPRO-7 Cleaner is my cleaner of choice. In fact, I’m due to grab another bottle as I am getting low. Anyways.

For a Lubricant, I still have some Slipstream, but as supplies run out and production is stopped, I’ve been using something else more and more. Mobil 1. And here’s why. Oils designed for engines have a lot of other additives than just the base oil. These additives increase the lubrication properties, and they help break down carbon and helps prevent carbon from sticking to the metal. The additives in the oil keep that carbon emulsified and as those particles are in a solution, helps move it away from friction points. A firearm works a lot like an internal combustion engine. Heat and carbon are a result of a cartridge’s Combustion. And no matter how slick the surface is, carbon is going to want to stick to it, build up, and cause problems. This is why Crusader started recommending using the Slipstream oil on top of the permanent application process and eventually stopped doing permanent lubrication altogether. While a lube free coating sounds like a good idea at first, like Socialism, the actual use of it causes its own set of problems and eventually, it’s just a bad idea.

Guns can be Hot. Guns can be Dirty. Guns can be Dry. But they can’t be all three and keep having fun. If you want it to run Hot and Dirty, it’s got to be Wet. Just like a weekend in Vegas.

Ka-Bar Mark 98

What the Mark 98 is, and what it’s supposed to be, might be two different things. Let’s find out.

Let’s first talk about what the Mark 98 is. It’s a beefy liner-lock folder that looks ruggedly handsome. With the battleship gray coating over all the metal, and the G-10 scales, and the pronounced fuller reminiscent of their standard Ka-bar fighting knife, the Mark 98 looks fantastic. It has a 3.5″ spear point blade and unfolds out into an overall length of just over 8 inches. The knife has some heft to it, and it’s handle is thick, making it feel suitable for hard use.

The blade material is 5Cr15, which is a Chinese version of 5Cr15MoV… which is kind of a nothing special type of Stainless Steel. I like it better than AUS-8, personally. It takes an edge well, easy to resharpen, and holds it pretty well for actual real world use that doesn’t involve slicing cardboard strips. So I’m expecting the blade steel to be just fine.

I was pleased with just how smoothly the blade flips open, and that the blade was almost perfectly centered right out of the box. If there is anything concerning about the design, it’s that the liner lock is just a hair thinner than I really like. But it seems to work well. The blade locks up tightly, with no play at all. The detent holding the blade closed is a bit weak, so it doesn’t resist the flip open, so you don’t get that distinct snap on the open without a bit of wrist flick action. But when you do, is opens smooth as a puma.

The knife feels good in the hand. The scales are contoured well, and shaped well. You could really lean on this knife doing some serious cutting tasks, and it wont be uncomfortable through the job. Can I say again just how good looking this knife is? The flipper is a little of spoiler for the lines, but it’s functional and not obtrusive.

The best thing about the knife, is the price. BladeHQ has it right now for less than $20. The question though, is if this Chinese made Ka-Bar is worth the money. The answer to that, is up to you and what you want to do with the knife. So to put this to the test, I have this knife to my Son that broke a previous knife I gave him that featured D2 steel. He’s rough on knives. So he’s going to carry it and use it every day for a month or so, and we’ll check back on it and see how it’s held up. Because if it survives his use – it’s a sold knife and worth the money.

To Be Continued!
Update: After several months of hard use by my son who works in Maintenance for a large facility… The knife has held up just fine. The finish has proven strong, and the blade has held its edge very well. The knife has shown far more value than its cost. Overall, thumbs up.