Tag Archives: Rifles

Updated: The Mossberg 464 SPX: 6 Reason to buy one.

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I can admit it when I’m wrong.   I can change my opinion when new information comes to light.   And I can change my opinion when something I once thought a disgusting abomination proves to be actually useful.   Well, in this case, that Something is the Mossberg 464 SPX.   When I first saw it in photos I thought it was a joke.  When I first saw it in person at SHOT Show, I was horrified.
But over time, the Mossy 464 series has grown on me.  And the SPX version has even become less offensive to my Lever Sensibilities.
Now I’m at the point that not only to I actually like them… But I actually really WANT ONE.

Here’s what I like about the 464 SPX from O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
1. It has good sights and not Buckhorns… No one likes Buckhorns, not even guys who know how to use them. And these work in lower light conditions. 
2. The stock adjusts to fit different sized shooters, or the same shooter through all four seasons.
3. The muzzle end is threaded. This means you can take off the flash hider and put on a muzzle brake, or a suppressor… Or a thread protector and have nothing on it. You have options.
4. It’s a Mossberg… so while it’s not a Japanese made Winchester, or a questionably made Marlin, or Brazilian or Italian made whatever… It’s a solid, hardworking US Made rifle that’s going to get the job done.
5. The safety is actually in a logical place for a Lever Action.
6. These things actually shoot very well.  

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It does look better with a coating on it.

Ugly? Indeed… But it works. And that makes it rather attractive to me.  I think if I had one I’d get the gun Cerakoted for improved corrosion resistance, put a sling on it and cover the rails…  Maybe change the stock to a lighter unit.  But that’s less important.  I’d put a Battlecomp on it first chance I got.  And then I’d call it good.    

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Updated:  Okay, you guys know I am not one to leave well enough alone.  I’ve been looking at the 464 series of rifles and there seems to be some holes in the line that could be filled.
The 16″ barreled SPX loses a round of capacity and a chunk of velocity from the standard 464 rifle with the 20″ barrel.  I think it would be nice to offer a 20″ SPX and let it take advantage of that extra oomph and extra round.  That’s one thing.  The other thing, is the they have a nice weather proof marine finish… but with a not so weather proof wood stock.  How about a Marine Finished SPX?  And how about a Marine Finished 464 with a regular furniture, but in a sturdy synthetic?  I know I’d like that.  I’d also like a Trapper version of the 464.  Traditional, but in 16″.  Okay, we’ve got this ball rolling… Where is a .45-70 gun?  That’s right… I’m looking for a Guide Gun Alternative here.  The 464PH, Professional Hunter, make it like the Marlin’s SBL… top rail, big loop… Do the same config in .30-30 as well.  And while we’re talking calibers… Let’s look at a .44 Mag version of the SPX and Trapper.

Hardest Kicker

I’ve shot a lot of hard kicking rifles and shotguns before.  But one stands out in my mind as being the coolest, and the most brutal.  But like spicy food, I really loved it.
It was a bubbafied Mosin Nagant, that I bought from a co-worker when I worked at Basin Sports.   It was shortened, and the foreend was bobbed… I don’t have a photo of it, but it looked something like this:

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10 rounds – you would feel it for 5 days.  And I’m a guy that can shoot shotgun slugs all day long… .300 Ultra Mag, no problem.  But this little beast made me remember it.  It made my shoulder remember it.  But it was a great little carbine.  Very accurate as far as Mosins go, and light enough to pack it around.   Great hiking gun.  Great hunting gun.  I gave it to my brother in law as a Christmas present because he needed a hunting rifle and that little Mosin would do great in his area of operation.

What’s been your hardest kicking gun?

Armchair Quarterbacking: BERETTA.

I’ve not always been a fan of Beretta.  I’ll admit that.  When I was first told to turn in my 1911 to be issued an M9, I was not a happy camper, and that caused a burning hatred of the 92 series pistol that lasted for a good many years.  Two decades later and I find myself to be a rabid 92 series fanatic.  It took a long time to come around… but the gun garnered my favor the hard way.  It earned it.  Working at the gun counter for almost a 9 years, I had sold a great many Beretta products.  And I do not remember a single one that ever came back with an issue.  Say what you will about Beretta, I know they have their share of detractors out there… But I love Beretta.  But I also know they are far from perfect.  Let’s hit the high notes:

The 92FS:
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I hate to admit it, but this gun is a dinosaur.  I love mine, and I think these are the best looking automatics ever built… But the design is dated and need revision.  Oh, wait… You did revise it.  And you called it the 92A1:
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You added a rail.. which is a good… but better yet you gave it a dovetailed front sight post which was desperately needed, and you improved the internals… All of this is good, fine and well… Making this gun the best 92 you can buy.  But then you changed the trigger guard to differentiate it from the M9A1.  What I don’t understand though is why do you have these two very different pistols?  Because a holster for an M9A1 wont work with a 92A1, not even close.  I do not see the roles that these two different pistols fill.   This pistol just leaves me scratching my head.  So here’s what you need to do.   Kill the 92A1.
Wait, what?  I just said it improved everything an was the best 92 you can buy!   Yes, I did.  But it still needs to die.   Namely because it doesn’t stand out in the 92 series line.  Same with the 96A1.   I would build the 96A1 within the same frame as the M9A1, same trigger guard.  Giving the 96A1 the Civilian frame with the rounded trigger guards makes no sense.  It’s a tactical gun and needs to be better compatible with the lights.  I think this will fill that 96 nitch much better.    Now, back to the 92A1… Yes, kill it.   And fill the hole in the line up with with a reintroduction of the 90-TWO, renaming it simply as the 2092:
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This gun looks amazing, feels amazing, and shoots as good as it looks.  The reshaped safety levers are an improvement.  This gun moves the Beretta family forward.    It only failed because someone gave it a stupid name and your Marketing effort was completely lacking.
This was the stupidest name ever in the firearms industry.  It was a failure from the start.  But the pistol was awesome.  It needs  second chance.  So rename the bloody thing and bring it back.  Also, make a 2092 INOX.  And just for fun, maybe INOX slides on the blackened frames and barrels… and vice versa… because two tone guns are sexy.  There should also be a COMPACT version of the 2092 as well.

Here’s another gun that needs to make a comeback:
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The Billennium.  But instead of it being blinged out… Just make it Black and Inox.  Here’s why.  It answers the #1 Complaint that people hate on the 92 for – the Slide Mounted Safety.  The Billennium’s Frame Mounted Safety – Especially if you matched that up with the old Vertec Frame – would be a WINNER.
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You guys actually had it… and like the 90-Two… you failed to market it correctly.  In fact, I didn’t even know this thing existed.  All steel though – so it was a heavy pig.  Nice idea, bad execution.  Make THAT but with an alloy frame and your current rear sight… Beretta… I’m telling ya… WIN.    How come this hasn’t been done already?

The NEOS.  I like the pistol.  But it’s skinny grip and extreme angle is ridiculous.  Have you looked at a Ruger MKIII or Browning Buckmark?  Well look again.   Because I don’t have hands like an adolescent E.T.
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This is why I’ve never bought one.  I can’t even hold on to the thing.   However I’ve sold it to people with smaller paws than mine, and they have loved it.   Never have I sold one to a guy with bigger hands though.   Look at Ruger… They have the option of a .45 like grip frame.  Do that, but with maybe your Storm.  A Storm like grip frame.  Seriously Beretta, as much as you guys may like this thing as it is – at American Gun Counters, it turns off far more people than it impresses.

The Storm Series:
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I love the Storm Pistols.  Two things though… the Sub Compact with the tilting barrel…  Get rid of it.  It does nothing the Compact can’t do and it’s using a different action so it’s not really a sub compact version.  The SD as shown.  Where are the 9mm and .40 cal versions and where is the Compact version?  Remember when the Navy bought a lot of HK pistols recently?  They bought the compact version of the HK45, and not the full sized.  Huge handguns are good… but sometimes those Operators who operate operationally need something a bit smaller so they can conceal them.   And US Citizens like do something called EDC with guns with many of these features.   That Midsized handgun is the sweet spot, and you need to maximize that.

This Thing:
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I could write a 2,000 word report on everything wrong with this thing alone… But I don’t have time.  So I’m going to quickly outline what it needs to fix it.  It needs a major work-over.  The pyramid iron sights… Kill it.  Run a full rail across the top end to end.  Let customers use AR style irons of their choice.  No one likes these sights that doesn’t work for Beretta and have to say they do.   Extend the the body out till only an inch from the muzzle.  Thread the barrel.  Give it a thread cap.  Threads should be a common type.  Supply a flashhider/muzzle brake with it.  I like the lack of rails on the side and bottom, but put mounting hardware in there so rails can be added where needed.  The bottom of the pistol grip makes fast reloads a challenge.  Shape it like a normal pistol grip.  The Bolt Release needs to be a Safety.  On both sides, make it ambi.  Push the bolt handle out front and give it an HK style bolt catch and release.  That stock.  Get rid of it.  Put on a SCAR style Folding/Adjustable stock.  Done.  Now just rename it.  Your other rifles are the ARX series… call this one the ARX9 or ARX40 or ARX45 per caliber and you have a WINNER.   You’ll sell more than you ever had before.

I’m only going to touch on 1 shotgun.
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I want a pistol grip version and I want the feed tube to run out to the end of the barrel.   Make these options.  I also want mounting points at the front end so I can attach a short rail section to add a tactical light.  That’s it.  Simple.

The two most interesting new combat rifles

I remain terribly jaded about new guns and I feel like I get more and more guarded the more new and more improved something claims to be. However there are two new rifles out that have raised my critical eyebrow.
#2.  The Beretta ARX100.
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This is the third choice to the SCAR or ACR question. This is the Dodge to the Ford vs Chevy debate. It brings to the table some new concepts, while keeping within the confines of the tradition auto-rifle layout that is familiar to most American Shooters. But it does so with a wicked truly modular approach reminiscent of H&K.

#1.  The IWI TAVOR (TAR-21)
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This rifle is special.  In my opinion it’s the best new developed combat purposed arm since the AK-47.  It’s the promise of the Bullpup Rifle Concept, finally fulfilled.  And it’s been the one rifle that I’ve been wanting for over a decade now.  Now that it’s out and people have been trying it out – it’s not disappointed.  It really is that good.    It gets the #1 Position for a many of reasons.  First, it’s a Bullpup.  Which means you don’t have to SBR it to make it short and maneuverable for CQB or Vehicle purposes.  You don’t have to get it as a pistol and put on an Arm Brace to skirt the $200 Tax Stamp and months and months of waiting for the Approval to come back.  You can cross most state lines with it (Just stay away from New England) without having to ask permission or document notification or other red tape BS.   It gives you rifle length ballistics instead of SBR ballistics.  This is a huge advantage with 5.56mm.    And unlike most Bullpups, you can fire it off the left or rifle shoulder, or convert it to left or rifle as you wish.  Best yet… It’s not Vapor Ware.   I can go to two local shops and find one available.    And when I do eventually get one – I’m getting one, just a matter of timing – I’ll be able to trust it with confidence.  The Israelis have engineered this rifle extremely well… because it had to be.  While it’s still quite new in the history of small arms, it’s been proven constantly in conflicts since it’s come out.   You can buy it in different flavors… one, like the IDF’s version (but semi-auto of course) and the others with all full length Picatinny rail on top for all your Optics mounting needs.  Black or Tan, and with 16″ or 18″ barrels.   I think I’d take a black, 16″, flat-top version.

The Thirties

One of my least favorite things at the gun shop is when some guy who we don’t know, sends in his wife who we don’t know, to buy some “300”. We don’t know the people, so we don’t know which 300 the guy might have. 300 generally means a .30 Caliber of some sort and well, there are too many common options to just pick one. During hunting season, this happens on a regular basis. So guys, if you do send your girl into town to pick up a box of ammunition – do your wife a favor. Rip off the end tab of your last box of ammo and send that with her so the guys at the gun store know exactly what you need, and we don’t think of you in a less than flattering manner.

Let’s look at some of these 30 cal cartridges. There are 10 different common 30′s. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

The .30-30 Winchester. The Thirty really started as a market success with the .30-30 Winchester. This was the first serious high velocity metallic cartridge using smokeless powder. It was a hot rod back in its day. Shooters were amazed. These days, the .30-30 is often scoffed at by those that don’t get it. Personally, the .30-30 remains a favorite of mine. It’s mild, yet potent enough to take down an elk at 200 yards. Typically it fires bullets from 150 grains to 170 grains, at moderate velocities from 2250 FPS to 2400 FPS. Accuracy is average to pretty good from most rifles. Most of which are lever action rifles with open sights. The best I’ve ever seen a .30-30 do was half inch groups at 100 yards in a rifle that had about 250 bucks worth of gunsmithing to tune it for better accuracy.

The .30-06 Springfield. This is the classic .30 caliber cartridge that America has used all around the world fighting for our freedom. The Aught Six as it as loving called, has fathered more offspring cartridges than anything else. Most notable is the .270 Winchester, which has become the second most popular cartridge according to nationwide sales… but that is another story. The Aught Six fires bullets usually between 150 grains to 200 grains, but there are loads out there going lighter or heavier… I’ve seen them as low as 110 grains and as high as 225 grains. Velocity is high, but remember, this is not a Magnum cartridge. Velocities are typically centered around 2800 FPS. Accuracy is very good, but could be better because the case has a lot of wasted space in it, reducing the efficiency of cartridge and allowing for less consistent powder burn. This cartridge went to war in WWI in our bolt action Springfield 1903 rifles, then into WWII in our M1 Garands, and into Vietnam still in our 1903 Springfields that were accurized and scoped and used as sniper rifles. Because of the shear number of surplus rifles on the market, and because of the almost universal acceptance, use, and general fondness of this cartridge… it has become the Number One cartridge in America for overall sales. Still today, it remains the Top Dog. Every company that makes a rifle, makes one in .30-06. There are those that love it with a passion, and there are those that don’t really like it… but no knowledgeable shooter disrespects it.

The .308 Winchester. After WWII, the M1 Garand was altered and the action was tweaked to fire from a detachable box magazine. This needed a cartridges that was shorter for better feeding. This is where the .308 Winchester came to the spotlight. This gives us almost the same performance of the .30-06, but does so with greater efficiency and thus better overall accuracy. Again, like the Aught Six, the Three’oh’eight fires rounds from 150 grains to 180 grains like most of the .30 cals going on… but does so at about 2700 FPS, which is only about 100 FPS slower than the Aught Six.

The .300 Savage. This one goes back to 1921 and was the first “300”. It was hugely popular for a time, and chambered in Savage’s strange yet good model 99 lever action. It’s a bit shorter than the .308, and milder, pumping out 150 grain loads to a pleasant 2630. You can bump up the loads to 180 grainers, but the speed drops off a bit too much I think. So while it’s a lighter hitter than the .308 and a harder hitter than the .30-30, it occupies a comfortable place in that middle ground. It very well could be the ideal .30 caliber for light carbines. Imagine a Model 7 Remington in this cartridge… that would be great combination. The round is very accurate and just a pleasure to shoot.

The .300 Winchester Magnum. In 1963 gun makers decided to go big in terms of velocities. Winchester hit the home run with the .300 Win Mag, and its the ballistic equivellent of the Mona Lisa. A work of art. And a work by which all other .30 caliber magnums are compared to. It’s powerful and has a strong kick to it, but not too hard as to be punishing. In a full sized rifle, it is quite manageable. You can load a 180 grain bullet up to 3,000 FPS… a dramatic increase in horsepower. People just call this round “The Win Mag” and most everyone knows exactly what you are talking about.

The .300 Remington Ultra Mag. Remington had to do something big, so they came out with the .300 Remington Ultra Mag…. or the .300 RUM as I like to call it. This cranks to the same slug as the .300 Win Mag about 250 to 300 FPS faster and hitting harder by about 600 foot pounds of energy according to typical load data. This cartridge is a dragon slayer. There are some out there that are hotter, like the .30-378 Weatherby magnum, but not by much. If a scope is going to get bucked off a rifle and break mounts and rings – most likely the gun is going to be a .300 RUM. Around where I live, we call these “Elk Cannons” and we sell a ton of them. For long range knock down, this has it. The .300 RUM can body slam an Elk at a thousand yards.

The .300 Winchester Short Magnum. When this one first came out a few years ago, I scoffed at it. “Same ballistics as a .300 Win Mag? What’s the point?” Well, what it gives you is that classic Win Mag power, but it does so with greater accuracy and with about 20% less felt recoil. I set up two rifles exactly the same… Synthetic stocked Weatherby Vanguards, using the same rings and bases I mounted the same scopes on each. The only difference was that one was a Win Mag, the other a Short Mag. The Win Mag kick was tolerable, but after 10 rounds I was done shooting it for the day. I shot a sub 1 inch group with it and it was great. Reaching out with that much crushing power, that is a lot of violence to focus into a inch. Then I shot the Short Mag. I shot a one hole group, and it was actually fun to shoot. Less recoil enough to shoot all day… I ran out of bullets for it. Same speed, greater accuracy, less recoil… this round has no downsides. Marketing didn’t come up with this round like I thought… this is ballistics engineering at its finest.

The .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Mag. Remington wanted to do something in a Short Mag type platform and they came out with the Short Action Ultra Mag… and it flopped. It’s a decent round, just a tick behind the .300 WSM, but it does so in a slightly shorter length, allowing it to be able to be used in .308 length actions. This allows us to make AR-10/SR-25 type rifles that hit like a .300 Win Mag. To me, that makes it a winner. I think this is just about the perfect cartridge for military applications in GPMG’s (General Purpose Machine Guns such as the M-60 and M-240). The US Military wants more power? Here it is. Take our current crop of .308 caliber SR-25 sniper rifles and rebarrel them to .300SAUM… presto. While I think the SAUM has it’s place, it is a commercial flop. The WSM beat it, but I think this is more of a perception matter than performance. People hear “Ultra Mag” and they want a dragon slayer, not just another Win Mag Mirror. I think Hornady could lend a hand and blend some powders and do their alchemy and come up with a Heavy Mag load for the .300 SAUM and it would then enjoy a ballistic advantage… But that is neither here nor there.

The .30 T/C. With the trend for making all things short and chubby, someone had to do it… so TC did. They made a .30-06 Short Mag. This cartridge mirrors the classic .30-06 ballistics. But it is more than that. It does so in a shorter, more efficient case. It’s the same length as the .308 Winchester but a touch chunkier. It is of course more accurate thanks to the greater efficiency. It also does two things that we are going to take as a bonus. It has less felt recoil, and it’s actually faster than the Aught Six by a few FPS, and in some loads up to 100 FPS faster. Not much… and nothing to make me want to run out and buy a new rifle in this caliber. It’s a like a hot handloaded .308, and in my opinion nothing more. TC brags that it’s the first cartridge with the TC head stamp, and that’s fine. Bully for them, but I’m thinking it’s rather un-needed. Now if they had taken this chunk of brass and necked it down to a 7mm, 6.5, or a .25 caliber – maybe we would talk.

The .300 RCM. The RCM stands for Ruger Compact Magnum, and in the same 24 inch barrel, it’s a clone of the .300 WSM. The RCM uses a different powder blend and gets up to speed quicker, meaning it works in shorter 20 inch barrels. I guess that’s nice. For guys guys that want short barreled Magnum rifles… all three of those guys should be happy with the .300 RCM. I have to be honest here, these last two rounds, the .30TC and the .300 RCM… the .30 caliber market is crowded enough and good, proven, classic calibers are being pushed out by these new rounds that do things slightly different. Yes, yes, yes, it’s accurate. But so was the .300 Savage. I don’t see a place for the .300 RCM in the future, and I think the .30T/C is going to die out as well, rather sooner than later. But that’s just my prediction. Who knows. It could really take off like the .300 WSM did. Now, Ruger has a version of this cartridge in .338… the .338 RCM and that has some serious potential there. I like that idea, but in the .300 class, it’s like just another boy band. We’ve heard that tune before and looks the same as the others.

If I was to pick a new .30 caliber round for all around use, I’d pick the .300 WSM. It does everything right, and nothing wrong. As a beer commercial once said, “Tastes Great, Less Filling”.

 

Crazy Gun Sales

I’ve never seen gun-sales like today. It’s been busy since Black Friday, and really busy all week. But I’ve never seen it like today. We broke records. We completely sold out of all AR rifles. They are gone. Done.
We have more on order, but I don’t think we will ever have the AR stockpile like we had before… They are going to trickle in and be sold before they hit the shelves.
All of our 5.56mm/.223 ammo in 50 round packs or larger is all gone as well.
I still have .223 Remington in 20 round boxes… your Varmageddon, V-Max and Ballistic Silvertips, and that’s it.
I’ve never seen anything like this.

Edit:  To give you guys an idea of the volume I’m talking about… When it comes to inventory, Basin Sports is one of the biggest new gun dealers not just in the state of Utah, but in the western states.  We had one hell of an inventory of tactical rifles.  Yeah… they are all gone now.

Random pics of me with my favorite rifles.

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This is “The Green Marlin” which became the Cowboy Assault Rifle, or CAR-30-30, or Tactical Lever Action.  It started out as a stock Marlin 336C which had some serious water damage to the stock that ruined the finish.  I was going to do a John Deer logo on the side of it, but then I decided I hated that color.  The gun its self though was straight up awesome.  Barrel cut down to 16 on the dot, and an 11 Degree Target Crown and a 1 Piece firing pin and the Trigger Happy trigger from Wild West Guns.  The result was a 30-30 that would print 1/2″ groups with LEVERevolution ammo.

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This is what replaced my Crusader Modified Rock River… which no matter how good or accurate it was, it was too damned heavy.  This is a very lightweight build that Gundoc tweaked for me.  Slipstream treatment and a Battlecomp round out the details.  Topped with an EOTech, to get on target fast.  Accuracy is more than enough to make me laugh wickedly.  Yeah, I’m not giving anything up on the Rock River’s accuracy.

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Now, I’m holding a Rossi M92 in .44 Mag.  And I do love the 92′s, the gun in the photo that brings this to the front of the pack, is the one Evil Jim is caressing.  That’s his SBL.  This is the .45-70 Thumper that forced me – FORCED ME – to buy a Guide Gun of my own.  I don’t have a pic of me holding mine, so this one will do.

Notice that out of all these rifles in this post – most are Lever Actions.  There’s a good reason for that.  I love Lever Action Rifles.  Especially one’s with some modern touches that enhance the Lever’s ability to hit – and knock the shit out of the target.
It was asked, “What is Crusader going to do if there is another Assault Weapons Ban and you can’t build AR’s anymore?”  What will we do?  We’ll do custom Lever Actions.  I’m one of the few Trainers out there that actively train  - an encourage – Lever Actions.

Unpossible!

There is a certain outdoors oriented magazine that recently did a test on cheap rifles.  They took the most popular rifles that retail for less than 500 bucks, and did a quick and dirty accuracy test.

Weatherby Vanguard
TC Venture
Marlington X7
Savage Axis
Ruger All American

The results were than the Marlin X7 rifle handed it to all the others.  Drastically.  According to this test, the Marlin was much more accurate than all the others, showing a one hole group compared to the other’s patterns.

Okay.  I’ll buy that.  This Marlin X7 was more accurate with the Test Ammo than the others.  But they didn’t test other loads through the other guns.   Generally what happens is that one gun can favor one particular load more than others.  As is this case.  In spite of what this test shows, I’d much rather have a TC Venture or a Vanguard than the Marlin X7.
The Savage is at a disadvantage here.  At 299, it’s the cheapest.  But for a hundred bucks you could drop in a Timney trigger.  But it up to the 400 dollar range, still well within the test price range, and then you would have a very competitive rifle.

I’d like to see this test conducted again, with the Savage trigger swapped, and with a number of different loads tested for a more “Accurate” test result.  Because I’ve personally seen groups from the Vanguard S2 rifles and the TC Ventures that were just amazing.  I’ve also heard reports from more than a few Marlin X7 owners that these rifles are indeed shooters.  I can’t deny that.  One is from a source that I will not question.  I have nothing against the Marlin rifle here… But fact remains that this test was rather shallow and only skimmed the surface.