Fixed Bladed EDC.

One of the things I always have with me, is a small fixed bladed knife. Sure, I always have one or two folders with me as well… But I like having a small fixed blade on me.   Here’s the three I usually rotate though, depending on what the day has planned.


Left to Right:
Benchmade’s Adamas Push Dagger.
Benchmade’s SOCP Dagger.
Ka-Bar’s Becker Necker.
Reason for these three is the light weight, small profile.  I never wear them around the neck, but they do well in a Boot or on the Belt.  Or other places one might hide a little knife.  The SOCP though, sometimes I’ll clip it to the front of the shirt like a pen.   Just easy that way, and quite fast to use.

The Necker has a nice usable shape.   I use it quite often for regular cutting tasks.  Cooking Prep and such.  It is one of my favorite all time knives.  I like the bottle opener too. Quite handy.   This one has a lot of utility while the others are strictly defensive tools.

The Adamas is an interesting bit of kit.  The chisel grind makes it not so useful for normal cutting tasks… but the double edge blade is wicked sharp.  For it’s purpose, it is scary effective.

The SOCP is the cool guy blade.  The point is like a needle.  The blade… not so sharp.  It’s not supposed to be.  This one is all about the deep puncture, with little other utility.   This is a rip cord type tool.  You pull it when there is no other option.    I know a lot of guys like to modify their SOCPs… but I’ve not done so yet.  I may in the future though.  Were I to do so… I think I’d strip the coating off it, bevel some edges, and acid etch the steel to give it some more character.    Of all the three, this is the one that comes with me most often.


Your Gun is Useless

That cool 2000 dollar rifle you bought.  Useless.  That pistol you bought that was all the rage on the internet… Useless.  What you bought is a very expensive Safe Ornament.

No matter how good that gun is… It’s as useless as tits on a warthog. Unless you have spare magazines for it.  Ammunition for it.  A ready kit to carry loaded magazines.   And unless you have trained with it.

There’s a reason that the Army and the Marines drill their people on Disassembly and Reassembly.   Do you know how to strip that new weapon down, and reassemble it?   Can you do that in the dark?  Do you even know your weapon?

I know a couple guys that have bought very nice, high quality arms… and they’ve done nothing with other than to remove it from the box and put it in the safe…. and they brag about having it.   Dude, you don’t have anything.   You don’t even own a Cartridge for it… you have nothing.

Take that gun out… Get to know it.   Train with it.

ADDENDUM:  I’m not talking about Collector guns, Collectors, or guns bought as investments.  So Investors and Collectors – don’t get your panties in a twist, this wasn’t about you.

AR Pistol Project, “Kahlan”.


Built for me by a friend off an Anderson lower, and sports an 7.5″ Barrel, M.I. Handguard, Noveske KX5 Flaming Pig, Ergo Grip, Shockwave Blade Wrist Brace.
The Lucid will be replaced with something smaller and lighter so it can be returned to it’s normal home on a different AR.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the little AR.  It’s been proven to be an absolute tack driver.  I’ve not shot it yet with this muzzle device, so we’ll have to wait and see how she shoots now.  Same barrel, but different Barrel Nut, Different Muzzle Device, and different hand guards can all make significant differences.  I still need Iron Sights, and I’m going to need an AFG or some hand stops of some sort.


Should a hand slip forward of the guard… That could be trouble.  So that will have to be prevented.  But I do like the snub-nosed look.
I want the MagPul Pro flip up sights on here, because not only are they great, but they are very compact.  I don’t want a lot of stuff on this piece.  I want it simple, but effective.  So everything will be as minimal as possible.

Acute New Gun Itch.

Lads, I’m suffering from an acute case of New Gun Itch.  It’s unbearable.  It’s come down to one of three options.


This is the IWI ACE.  It’s an evolution of the AK-47, through the Israeli Galil family tree.  A gun shop just south of me has one at a reason price.   The ACE’s are expensive, but there’s really nothing quite like it on the market.  It’s probably the best AK type rifle on the planet, though it’s so evolved, it’s not really accurate to even refer to it as an AK type rifle anymore.   I’ve played with one a bit and it’s very very good.   I really like it.   The only thing about it though that I don’t like – is that it’s a Quad Rail gun with Rail Covers.  And I hate that.   Seriously, that alone could mean it’s disqualification from consideration… but everything else about it is just so dang good.   Bonus, it can use most common AK mag types.  Which is good, because I’ve more than a few.


The CZ Bren 805 Pistol.   The rifle would be fine, but I’d want this as an SBR eventually so I’d take this and put a Pistol Brace on it.  The Bren is for those guys that want a SCAR, but want it for a Thousand Dollars Less.  And yes, I’m that kinda guy.  But also I want an SBR… so this meets and greets those desires perfectly.   I’m also a huge fan of CZ, more than I can say… I truly am.  I admire CZ a great deal.  There is really no other Firearms company like them.  The Downside to the Bren is that it’s 5.56mm and I already have a shorty 556 gun that I quite like, and it’s about to get even better.   So this would be slightly redundant, but I could see this taking over as primary rifle.


Then there’s the Evo.   Another CZ that I really quite like.  The carbine version is rather long-ish.  But it’s super light and balances very well.   I dig everything about it.   Its’ a 9mm though, and that makes it a Good/Bad thing.  But the Good does outweight the bad.  And considering that I’m thinking about another short weapon firing a rifle cartridge, giving up ballistic advantages for not using rifle cartridge is really a non-issue.   The Evo’s mags are pretty easy to find for 20 to 22 bucks… It’s not really an issue either.


I guess one could say that it comes down to caliber… but really it’s more of a Rock Paper Scissors deal here.   Any one of these three would be a winning a choice.  I really like them all.     I think I’m leaning to the Bren.

But then there is the Wild Card option.   A PTR-91 PDW.

Which of course, is just another SBR Vehicle.    Once the paperwork came back on that one, I’d but an HK Collapsable stock on it.
So… 4… Four options.

Is there room at the table for a new Auto Mag?


NewAutoMagI got a press release from Laura Burgess Marketing that AUTO MAG is trying to make a come back.   First thought was “Wow, that’s cool!” Followed up by the next thought, “They’ll fail again… Because the same conditions that caused them to fail the first time are only worse this time.”

But is that true?   What caused the Auto Mag’s failure back in the 80’s?

First, let’s talk about what the Auto Mag was.  It’s whole point was to deliver a .44 caliber slug at .44 Magnum power, in an Automatic Pistol.   The idea to make the .44 Magnum feed in an Automatic, was to give it a Rimless Case.  To do this they used a .308 rifle cartridge, and cut it down to length, and there you go.   This actually worked quite well.  Unfortunately the ammunition was expensive back in the 80’s and is even more so now.

To handle the .44 Magnum level power in an automatic, the gun needed to be strong.  They used a fixed barrel for Revolver like Accuracy… this limited the locking options.  And since it needs a more robust locking mechanism, so they used a rotating bolt.  We also see this in the Desert Eagle.

The design of the Auto Mag is interesting.  It feels better in the hand than the Desert Eagle, more ergonomic.   And it’s much better looking.  But it’s also a complicated design and manufacturing it is a process that has more steps in it than other pistols…. which makes it a more expensive pistol to make.   Back in the 80’s, they didn’t have the CNC milling technology like we have today.  Even with that, there is a lot of hand fitting/finishing of the internal parts, and being a large pistol, requires a lot of material.  So it’s going to remain an expensive pistol to produce.

Expensive to make.  Expensive to shoot.  This is not a pistol for everyone.   This isn’t just Mercedes Benz level of handgunning… This is Maybach level.  This is… Exclusive.  Is there room at the SHOT Industry table for something more exclusive and expensive like this?


Because it’s cool.   See, outside of Food, Shelter, and Clothing… Men only spend money on Two Things.  Sex and Violence.   And the Auto Mag is a combination of both distilled into a handgun that is above the means of the every day common man.    Like owning a Porsche 911 Turbo or dating a Super Model.   It’s Mid Life Crisis that you can hold in your hands.  It is designed to make everyone at the range envy you and want to be you.    And unlike the Desert Eagle, it has no history of being gaudy like something a New Orleans Pimp would have.  You’ll never see an Auto Mag in Gold Titanium Tiger Stripes.  Because it doesn’t need that…. It doesn’t need the Bling.  Because it’s one of those few things that are an instant Classic.  And there is nothing else like it on the market.   Comparing it to a Desert Eagle is like comparing a luxury yacht to a tug boat.

Auto Mag will sell every single gun they make.

But does that mean they will fail again?  Because it’s exclusively priced… and ammunition is terribly expensive…  Few people will be able to get one.   And you don’t want a company to crank out as many as they can produce only to sit in stockpile.   For the company to succeed, they will have to stay small… And keep the production tight to keep overhead down.   Success or Failure is going to depend on Management, not Marketing.   Since they are the only ones making anything like this.  It’s their game to win or lose… and that’s going to be an internal struggle, not external.

Suggestions for Auto Mag:
1.  Offer a Blued Steel version.
2.  Don’t do Distributors… Go Customer & Dealer Direct to maximize your profits for the first 5 years.  Or longer.
3.  Don’t look at how other gun companies market.  Look at how Omega and Breitling Watches markets.  Your customers are going to be their customers.  You’re going to be exclusive as hell… so be exclusive.

The 6 best cartridges you are not using.

More than in any other industry, merit has nothing to do with success.   Especially when it comes to Cartridges.  Here’s my The 6 Best Cartridges that you are not using:


#6.  .338 Federal.  By simply taking a .308 case and blowing it out to .338 Diameter, Federal created something very special.  .338 projectiles are very naturally stable and aerodynamically slippery.  They retain a great amount of accuracy and impact energy at long range… all while operating in a non-magnum, short action.   A little more “push” than a .308, it’s kick isn’t as “sharp”.     This is a fantastic cartridge, and one that would do especially well in a suppressed AR-10 platform.  Think about that for a bit.  Big Bore, without big recoil.  Going bigger than .338 you start to get Nerf-like trajectories.   This is pretty much that Sweet Spot for bullet diameter and weight, while still being able to reach out there and smack something down.  A friend of mine took an elk with a .338 Federal at 600 yards.  Dropped it like it was pole-axed.  When he opened the Elk up he described the heart tissue was like “pudding”.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2012-07-30 21:20:06Z | |

#5.   .280 Remington.  Also known as the 7mm Remington Express.  Same cartridge, different name, because of “Marketing”.   This is basically a .30-06 necked down to 7mm/.284 diameter.  This is giving you better exterior ballistics than your .30-06, and more terminal effect at long range, with about the same felt recoil as your regular old .30-06.  And you are not giving up as much bullet weight as you are with .270.   It’s the perfect balance.   But too many guys have never even heard of it.   It’s not their fault though… There’s been a great deal of cartridges based on the .30-06 case, but the .280 Remington is probably the best of them.


#4.  .35 Remington.  What everyone considers a Lever Action cartridge, this one came out in 1906 and was first chambered in a Semi Auto hunting rifle.   It wasn’t until 1950 that Marlin finally chambered their new 336 rifle in .35 Remington.    This is a good upgrade over the .30-30, which has bullets typically from 150 grains to 170 grains… The .35 Remington has bullets typically from 180 grains to 220 grains, yet offers a similar trajectory to the .30-30.  So shooters of the .30-30 can pick up the Big Brother and will be able to make good hits right out of the gate.  There is a bit more felt recoil though.  More Push but it’s not a sharp or unpleasant kick.  It’s really quite moderate with velocities around 2100 to 2200 FPS.  Like the .30-30 it’s, good out to about 400 yards, but is far more capable at harvesting larger game.   It’s been referred to as Bear Medicine in Appalachia… referring to Black Bear.  And for that purpose, it’s probably ideal.  Especially in a light and handy Lever Action rifle.


#3. 7mm-08.  By necking down the .308 case to .284″ you get pure magic that hasn’t really been explored enough.  That 7mm slipstream is far superior to .30 caliber… Allowing for improved long range results.  The only problem though is that while the 7mm-08’s projectile is smaller and lighter, it’s not as fast at the muzzle because the longer bullet is taking up more internal case volume.   Because of this, it gets dismissed off hand by most shooters that take a cursory glance at it.   It’s ideal for small framed shooters who don’t want recoil and don’t want to go down to .243.


#2.  .257 Roberts.   It was popular in years prior and is now in a rather deep decline.  I was in Cabella’s the other day and mentioned .257 Bob and the guy had no idea what I was talking about.   The Twenty Five Bob is based on the 7x57mm Mauser cartridge, necking it down to a Quarter Bore.  The result is an accurate, flat shooting cartridge that gives very little recoil in return.  I’ve seen guys shooting .257 Roberts at over 4000 FPS…. Exploding prairie dogs like grenades.  And the cartridge can handle more typical 100 and 117 grain hunting projectiles at 3000 to 3500 FPS.   Smoking hotness.  More so than the more common/popular .25-06.



#1.  .357 SIG.  One of the more misunderstood loads out there.   By taking a .40 cal case and necking it down to 9mm, SIG and Federal worked together to give you a cartridge that’s pushing that 9mm sized projectile about 200 FPS faster than the standard Luger/Para loads.

Now, it’s not really a .40 case, as it’s made with thicker walls to help withstand about 5,000 PSI higher in pressure than the .40.   It’s often compared to the .357 Magnum – which is just an unfair comparison.  You are not getting the heavier 158 grain projectile options out there.  And it’s not really a 9mm as .357 SIG projectiles are more bluntly shaped than those for the Luger/Para loadings.  It’s really it’s own little beast.  Most common commercial loads are loaded down from peak performance, as ammo makers want to make sure that the projectiles stop within the FBI recommended 13 to 18 inches of Gel.

This reminds me of how Porsche down tuned the Cayman.  The Cayman was priced exactly between the entry level Boxster and the high end 911 sports car.  It’s performance was also tuned to be exactly in between the Boxster and 911.  It was the Average because it was Tuned to be Average.   The reality is that you can take the Cayman, tune it to it’s full potential, and it’s going to stomp a mud hole in the higher end 911.   See, the .357 SIG is much the same.  There are loads for the SIG round that exceed 1700 FPS.  Out of a shorter barreled auto pistol barrel, not some 6″ horse pistol.  That is fantastic.


Now lets not just end the conversation with Velocity.  There is more to it than that.   Reliability is another important factor.  A bottle necked cartridge is going to want to feed much easier as you have a smaller peg fitting into a much wider whole.  (this is why no one wanted to come in sloppy seconds after Eightball)  Also having that higher pressure impulse, the ejection is going to be much easier as well.  There will be less case drag as the slide pulls away from the breech, so sticking cases are not going to be a problem like you can get in some 9mm and .40 loads.

Accuracy is where the .357 SIG wins.   In talking with some US AIR MARSHALS, they discussed at length the importance of accuracy.  After Reliability – which was a Pass or Fail for them – Accuracy was their #1 factor.  Accuracy in a Firearm comes from Consistency, and that starts with the Ammunition.  .357 SIG is remarkably consistent, making it naturally accurate.  .45 and .40 are not naturally accurate.  Throwing projectiles shaped more like Pumpkins and little Missiles, it’s quite an achievement that they are as accurate as they are.  9mm has an easier time of it.  .357 SIG though, being accurate isn’t a challenge.  Kenyan that’s running away from a fat kid… it’s just too easy for him because he’s build for it.   Shooting at a full 25 yards, it’s far easier to make your hits with .357 SIG than with .40 cal even with the same gun.    If money wasn’t an object for everyone, I’d suggest getting .357 barrels for all your .40 cal guns and never look back.

Scout Rifle Guidelines


The Scout Rifle concept isn’t a hard set of Rules that Define a Scout Rifle as a Scout.  They are really just guidelines that are flexible to fit within your needs, not someone else’s definition of what your needs are.

The Steyr Scout. The first Production "Scout" Rifle.
The Steyr Scout. The first Production “Scout” Rifle.

I had dinner with Jeff Cooper many moons ago.  We talked for a good while about the Scout Rifle as a Concept and about the Steyr Scout specifically.     He truly loved the concept… but not so much the Steyr product that bore it’s name at the time.   He indicated that it captured the concept for the most part, but was not perfect.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout. The Heir to the Empire, bearing the Gunsite seal of approval.
The Ruger Gunsite Scout. The Heir to the Empire, bearing the Gunsite seal of approval.

For example… .308. Jeff Cooper himself, who made up the concept only used .308 as an example. He did not say that it HAS to be .308. Evidence to support my assertion, he was also fond of the .376 Steyr cartridge and shot his .376 Scout rifle quite a bit.  He also had a .358 Lion Scout concept, which turned into the .376, which he called his Scout Dragoon.  All were following the Scout Concept, not a hard set of rules.  

The Savage Scout. A good alternative for a factory Scout that fits the concept just fine.
The Savage Scout. A good alternative for a factory Scout that fits the concept just fine.

The main concept of the caliber for a scout is that it’s a cartridge potent enough for your area of operation, and in a common caliber so ammo availability isn’t an issue.   .308 Win is a great option, but not the only option.  .30-30, .307 Win, 7.62x39mm… .300 BLK, and yes, even 5.56mm… pretty much any cartridge you can get your hands on that serves for 95% of your likely targets is going to work just fine for YOUR SCOUT.

You can create your own Scout based on your own needs. I think the Jeep motto works well here. It's not bought, it's built.
You can create your own Scout based on your own needs. I think the Jeep motto works well here. It’s not bought, it’s built.

The Forward Mounted Optic is also not a Requirement, but a configuration that Jeff Cooper found to work well with his Scout Concept.    But many Scouts can use a normal configuration of scope, Red Dot, or other Optical Gunsight.

In my opinion, the best Scouts can also be Lever Actions… a .30-30 or even a .45-70 makes for an IDEAL Scout platform.

What the Scout boils down to is a light, handy, jack of all trades rifle that can do most of the practical things you might need a rifle for out in the field. A General Purpose Rifle, rather than something specialized. But “General Purpose” sounds Generic and unappealing.

In my opinion, the best Scout rifles I’ve seen are actually .30-30 Lever Actions… what are called “Lever Scouts”.  They fit Cooper’s Philosophy of Use just about perfectly.  They are light, thin, handy, and potent enough.  They have a reasonable capacity, reasonably accurate, and always have and always will embody the Scout concept – arguably more than some Scout rifles which are too bulky and heavy for the intended purpose.   In fact… Take any Marlin Lever Action in .30-30 and put a decent Sling on it… and your done.  You have your Scout.

Lever Scouts > Bolt Scout.

Ruger’s Light Weight Commander


I stopped into a joint called “Nichole’s Store” in Rockhill, SC and found this little guy sitting there, all alone in a display full of other Ruger 1911’s.  This little one was all alone, because he’s a Davidson’s Exclusive.  Ruger is the Master of Distributor Exclusives.  I didn’t even know this guy existed.


This finish on the slide looks blued, not coated.  If it is coated – I don’t know what it is.  But it has some color tinge to it, it’s not just black.  Depending on how the light hits it, it can look purplish, bluish, or brown – ish.   It’s pretty unique and the photo does kinda capture it, but then it really doesn’t.  It looks very nice in person.


Like all Ruger 1911’s, the gun feels pretty solid and well made – and smooth.  But without feeling tight like a custom.   You can tell this is a Working Class Production Gun.  With tolerances generous enough for Reliability over Bank Vault Pleasures.  One one is going to mistake this for a Nighthawk or a CAG… But no one is going to mistake it for a Rock Island or ATI either.

It has two warts.  One you can see… the Novak Rear Sight.  Which is The Devil on a gun for this purpose.  The purpose being, this is a Defensive Gun.   Which means it’s a Fighting Gun.  And Novak Sights should not be on any Fighting Gun.  Ever.   The sights need to be replaced anyway, as they are just white 3 Dot sights… and any defensive pistol NEEDS Tritium.  That’s not a point I’ll argue about.  That’s God’s Own Truth.  This is why He created Tritium.  So it can be used on His Saint, John Moses Browning’s handguns.  While I’d be getting Tritium sights – I’d just make sure the Rear wasn’t Novak, and that it was a Straight 8 instead of 3 Dot.

The other wart is the Manual Safety… it flicks on with a nice snap.  The way it should.  But it flicks off, with no click, no snap, no tactile sign, and no audible tell.  It just… slides off.  Way too easily.  Like it was loose or broken.   That is a huge turn off to me.  Going Off Safe should be Tactile and Deliberate.  This feels like it could slide off if you had it in the holster and jumped up and down more than once.  This is of course, an easy fix.  But it’s a fix that would have to be made before you loaded it.

Overall.  I love this gun.   Well done, Ruger.

Colt needs to step up.


COLT.  One of the most famous names in the firearms industry.  And one of the most poorly managed companies, with some of the most lack luster products for some of the highest dollars.   Colt is one of the least impressive companies still in business.  They think their name still holds currency in the market, and for a small, dwindling market segment, they do.  But that base is shrinking.  Colt may be coming out of bankrupcy again – but if they don’t change, they are going to go right back into it.

Any Colt firearm only looks good if you don’t look at any of the competition’s products.

From these images it looks like Colt is making some fine weapons.
And really, they are.  But there’s a problem.  They are over priced.  Somewhere about 200 dollars over priced.  At the same time they are not up to snuff, compared to the competition.


Let’s look at the Mustang.  The competition is the SIG 238 and the Kimber Micro.  All three of these pistols are subcompact .380 Autos, all similar design and function.  And all taken from the original Colt Mustang, that Colt killed, SIG resurrected, and then Kimber and Colt came on with the Me Too theme.


Of the three, the Colt is the most expensive, and as you can see, the least desirable.  It’s the worst finished, with the worst sights.


The other Colt guns leave me a bit unimpressed.  The slides are alright, but the frames all feel like they are unfinished sand-castings. Of course, they are not… they are Media Blast finished… but they feel… sandy.    Rough.  Sets my teeth on edge like fingernails on a chalkboard.


SIG’s 238 set the bar for what this sort of pistol needs to be like.  And Kimber took that challenge and came in with a tie score.


The Kimber – being not a favorite brand of mine by any means… has a strong game in the Micro.   Making the Colt look like the Ugly Step Sister… which it is.


Other than the finish, the Colt’s molded in front sight is just flat out unacceptable.  The others have dove-tails with high viz sights.  The Colt’s is No-Viz.


You can see, of the Three Amigo’s, the Colt is one no one wants.  It’s clearly the worst of the three, and yet carries the higher price tag for no reason.   (The Kimber in the photo is wearing the Crimson Trace Grips, which makes it more expensive than the standard Micro.)


Here’s the Cold Railed pistol.  A Tactical pistol with an all the bells and whistles price take, but has no bells and no whistles.  It’s pretty much at the same level as a Springfield Loaded Model, being simply a railed 1911… but has a premium price tag only because it bears the Colt name.   Rough finished frame, notchy feeling action, and a trigger that feels like you are dragging a piano over a gravel road.  This is not a good gun for the money.


If you get one, you are going to need to an action job, trigger job, new sights, and you are going to want to get that frame cerakoted or something.  So about 500 dollars worth to put this gun where it needs to be.


While I do like the look of it in the photos I took… yes, it looks nice.  It just doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as it looks.   Honestly, for less money, you could buy a Springfield MC Operator or a SIG 1911 TacOps, and have a better gun right out of the box, and save enough money for some spare mags and a case of ammunition.

What does Colt need to do to fix these?   Well, finish them for one thing.  Everyone else is throwing on some checkering or a nicer finish, and coming in at less cost.  Let’s start with that.  If Colt can step up to that level… That would be nice.  A move in the right direction.

We don’t even need to talk about the Reliability issues.   The Defender model of 1911 is one of their most popular models.  It’s also the most unreliable 1911 I’ve ever seen next to any Kimber Ultra pistol.  I saw one guy that had bought two of them.  Both of them didn’t work.  Both went back to the factory.  Once returned, one of them still had the reliability of a 4 year old.   And the one that “Worked” had the most sporadic ejection I’ve ever seen on any gun.  It was more like an open pan of popcorn… it could spit cases out in any direction.  Including into my forehead and teeth.  Some directions seemed physically impossible.    And that’s just the guns from one customer.  One man.  There have been others.  Many others.   In fact, of all the Colt Defenders I’ve seen sold or have sold myself.  Well, I don’t know of any that didn’t cause the owner some sort of grief.   I do know a couple guys that have them and say they have no problem with them.  But these guys don’t actually fire the guns.  If you don’t actually shoot it – of course it’s not going to cause you any problems.  Problems are only going to pop up when you pop rounds.  So these guys are saying that the guns don’t spontaneously self destruct, I guess.   Grips don’t suddenly spring off the gun and fly across the room… No problems then.

I’ve never seen a reliable Colt Defender.  Ever.  I’ve never seen a reliable Kimber Ultra either, but you can get an Ultra for a lot cheaper than a Defender, and any of the Ultra series guns are probably better guns than the Defender.  Maybe even more reliable.  Maybe.

If Colt is going to really make a come back with the American Gun Owner – Colt is really going to have to step up.

The Pros and Cons of Polymer Cases.


I’ve been talking with some folks about Polymer Cased Ammunition… and I found myself defending it.   Which is interesting because for all the bonus points polymer cased ammo gives you, there is one distinct drawback I’ll get to in a bit.

Polymer cases give us some advantages.  First off, is weight.  Now I’ve read some things that say you can save as much as 60%, but I think those numbers are either bogus, or maybe only in specific calibers… I don’t know.   But a more accurate figure I believe is the 40% reduction in cartridge weight.  The other big advantage is in cost.  Brass is expensive and the cost of that isn’t going back down anytime soon.  Or ever.  Brass requires a lot of work to make and shape.  Brass can sometimes get short in supply, and the commodities market can fluctuate the prices.  A polymer case can smooth all of those problems out.

As a former Light Infantryman, I can tell you… a 40% reduction in our combat load – that’s amazing.  That alone makes it work considering. That means we could be 40% lighter… which is nice.  Or we could carry 40% more.  Which is better.

Some folks question the strength of the cases, at the case heads and rims with a pure polymer case.   Valid concerns.  An Extractor could more easily tear through the rim instead of pulling the case out.   On the other hand, a polymer case would be less likely to be stuck in the chamber and thus would always be easier to get extracted than a hot expanded brass case that’s now fire-formed to the chamber.

An alternative to the polymer case head – is to use a polymer case body, but with a Brass, Steel, or Aluminum case head.   A two part case has been proven to be very reliable in Shotguns.   Because almost all shotgun shells are using a two part case.  How often do you ever see or even hear about a case head separation in shotgun shells?   Even back when the hulls were paper, you didn’t hear of it.  Ever.  You just didn’t.

Some guys argue that rifle and pistol cartridges operate under much higher pressures than shotgun, so this would remain a bad idea. Those guys don’t understand the Internal Ballistics.  See, all that pressure isn’t contained in the case.   It’s  contained in the Chamber.  See, we even have caseless ammunition and that stuff works without exploding the action.

Manually cycled repeaters will have had all the internal pressure dropped off to nothing before you open the chamber to cycle the action.   Automatic firearms all have mechanisms built in to allow the reduction in chamber pressure before the action starts to open.  This is for the most part, a non-issue.

We see case failures mainly because of a couple reasons.  One being incorrect headspacing in the firearm.  And two, cases that had been reloaded too many times at high pressure, causing the metal to become brittle, or thinned out due to metal flowing.   A rifle case gets longer when it’s fired.  This is why Reloaders have to use something called a Case Trimmer… Metal flows, gets trimmed, case walls get thinner.   This is a Material Science issue that Polymer could resolve.  Polymer is elastic so it can move, and then return to shape in exactly the same way metal doesn’t.

No, those are not the problems with polymer cased ammunition… The real problem with polymer cased ammunition is heat.  But not for the reasons your thinking.   You’re thinking a plastic cased round could melt into the chamber and cause a serious stoppage.  That’s not the problem.   Let me explain this… We’ve got a thermal dynamic issue here.   When a cartridge is fired, there is more than just pressure that is created.  There is heat.   A lot of heat.  The brass case will absorb some of that heat, and some of it will be conducted into the chamber walls.  And then upon extraction, some of that heat is pulled back out of the chamber and ejected with the empty case.

With a polymer case, the heat is insulated from the chamber.  At first, we might think that’s a good thing.  Keeps the chamber cooler.  At first it does.  But remember, energy can not be created or destroyed… it can only be contained or directed.  And with an ammunition cartridge being fired – it’s obviously directed.  This puts all that thermal energy at the case mouth.  Here’s what’s going to happen… we’re going to have a problem.  Increased Throat Erosion is going to be a problem, exacerbated by differential heating.  Especially in M-16 or other MSR type guns which are often taken from stone cold, to red hot in the matter of a moment.  All that heat hits the throat first and then radiates back to the chamber.  Over time, this differential heating will cause problems.  Though these problems will not develop quickly… but I do foresee them developing over time.   Much like the point of impact shifts in Ruger Mini-14’s as those barrels heat.  And eventually there could be fracturing.   With brass cases, the chamber and bore will heat up more evenly and we don’t get any differential problems.

To counter these problems the firearms will need to be manufactured with high quality materials and will need to be made to high standards.   Many guns we use now, will have no problems.  But the cheaper guns will become even… cheaper.    So… don’t use a lot of polymer cased ammo in cheap guns.

Here’s the thing though… I think polymer cased ammunition is the way of the future.    It’s advantages far outweigh the minor disadvantage.  Again, the main advantages are reduced weight and cost.  And I think the most key advantage is cost.  Ammunition cost remain the #1 Stranglehold on the shooting sports.  Ammo is expensive and makes shooting an expensive hobby, thus limiting it.  None of us shoot as much as we want.  None of us are really shooting what we want.  Cost of ammunition effects our choices on calibers and the guns to shoot them.  In one particular article, a number of top instructors picked their favorite calibers and almost all of them mentioned ammunition cost as an important factor in their selection.   I wonder if their selections would have been different if the costs were different.  Hmmm.     And how different would our own choices be?    What guns in what calibers would you be shooting if ammunition costs were different?    How would this effect the gun industry as a whole?   I think it would help the whole industry.   But that’s just me.