Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tinkering Thusday - Tank Fighting AR

So, some of y'all know that I want a .50 BMG platform of some such. Pudge did too. He just took a rather interesting path to one....

SHTF 50: A ‘Budget’ 50
Well everyone, I did something. Again, I have Mack to thank for his wise words. (Something tells me I call Mack because I know he will agree that it’s a good idea. And if he doesn’t agree then I know I went off the rails…this pretty much never happens!)[I have talked him down once -Ed] I bought a Safety Harbor Firearms SHTF 50 BMG single shot upper with 29” barrel. Why did I buy this you ask? That’s a very good question and the only answer I have is, well, because.

While perusing the finest junk pocketknives and beef jerky at a recent gun show I came upon this behemoth of a 50 BMG upper and knew I wanted it. To be fair, I have been looking at this exact upper for over 2 years now but had never seen one in person. After a quick call to Mack to tell me yes and make sure the price was decent and a call to tell Red that I love her[Red is gonna kill me one day -Ed] I shook the man’s hand and toted a giant hunk of steel home that would’ve fit right at home with my gym set.

I had an extra Anderson lower (Of course it's the Poverty Pony -Ed) sitting at home just waiting to be outfitted with this new upper. After some digging through the old parts bin and a couple of gracious birthday gifts (perfect timing) I had everything I needed to complete my ‘budget’ 50 BMG. I know budget and 50 don’t really go together, but for what this gun is I think they fit nicely especially considering I have less than $1,600 total spent on this project.

I wasn’t quite sure at first what to expect once I got everything put together but I was excited. The upper comes with a heavier hammer and stronger hammer spring. It is even easier to install than setting up a standard AR. You do not need to install the bolt catch, the disconnector, or the buffer retainer. Everything else goes together like normal. Instead of just buying the parts I needed I went ahead and got a full LPK so I can easily convert this to another caliber later if I so choose.

Starting off I knew that I wanted a fixed buttstock and needed a decent scope on it. The stock was an easy decision as I had a readily available solid A2 buttstock. The sight was not quite so easy. Lots of research later I decided on a Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14 power. So far so good on this thing. The eye relief was my biggest concern but it is a non-issue here, this thing gave me plenty of standoff so I didn’t have to worry about scope bite. I haven’t shot it a ton but the sight is holding up well.

Speaking of holding up to recoil, I was pleasantly surprised with the recoil on this gun. With the weight of the gun and the muzzle brake I would equate the recoil to just a hair more than a 12 gauge 3 ½ inch slug. Not something you want to shoot all day but definitely not as intimidating as it first appeared. Luckily, my first shot was on target and I was able to get zeroed in only 4 rounds. (My checkbook appreciated this fact as well. However, I’ve only been spending $2-$3 per round so also not as bad as most people make it out to be.) After getting sighted in I decided to see what a 660 gr round would do to a cinder block and I was not disappointed. One shot dead center absolutely obliterated the cinder block and sent a 1.5lb piece flying almost 10 foot in the air and the same distance away. I’m thinking I should take a poll on what to try and destroy next.

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to really stretch out the legs on this gun and see what it (and me) are capable of at distance. I’ll make sure to keep everyone updated on how the gun, the sight, and my shoulder hold up after some more rounds downrange.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wildcat Wednesday - A Book Review After a Movie

So, Tuesday; Jackie and I went and saw "Midway" at the theater. I'm reserving judgement until I see it again. Which will probably be next Tuesday. So look for a movie review forth coming.

However, I will say one thing that I already disparage the movie for is the complete and total disregard, nor mention, of that great Grumman product, the F4F Wildcat.

When I was a kid, Uncle Cart helped me glue together a Revell model of a F4F-3 of VMF(A)-211. Some of you long time reader's may know that as the unit of Hammering Hank, which was the first American unit to meet the Japanese somewhat organized, prepared, and well led.

Of course, the great old black and white propaganda piece "Wake Island" inspired my love of all things Wildcat.

So, all this superfluous back story brings us to our book review this evening.

"Wildcat: The F4F in World War II" is written by the dean of naval aviation historians, Barrett Tillman. And is a great book.

He covers the development of the F4F from the F3F biplane, it's adoption by the USN/USMC and the Fleet Air Arm.

And of course, the book covers the hellish darks days of 8 Dec 1941 until May of 1943, when the F4F Wildcat, generally driven by pre war regulars, held the line against a numerically and somewhat technically more advanced foe. And hold the line they did, with guys like Butch O'Hara, Jimmy Thach, and Marion Carl driving the stubby little fighter hard against the very best the IJN had to offer.

The F4F was kind of slow, kind of fat, and kind of short legged. But it was rugged Grumman designed American made Iron, with four or six John Browning blessed .50 cal machine guns, and if it could get a bead on a Zero, Jake, Rufe, what have you, it would probably flame the lesser Japanese airplane and generally get it's pilot home.

More importantly, even though the final ledger sheets may not have been in our favor at Wake, the Marshalls, Santa Cruz, the Eastern Solomons, or numerous battle over the Canal; we wore down the might of the IJN's finest fighter pilots in the process. And where as our top guys would rotate back to P-Cola and Sand Diego to train the fresh new butter bars of the Citizen Navy, the Japanese had their honchos fly until they died. And the Wildcat brought our guys home more often than not.

So, go buy Mr. Tillman's book. And his books on the F6F, F4U, SBD, and F8U.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tinkering Tuesday - Honing the Hudson

So, Pudge was out and about defending us from Pinelandia agression. And well, I was drinking beer and watching football.

Hudson H9A (Worth the weight loss?)
Everyone here knows how much I love my Hudson H9 and how much I continue to gush over it every chance I get. Every time I shoot it next to another gun it reminds me how glad I am that I took a leap of faith. And even though that company went defunct, I recently took another leap of faith. The second year of Hudson’s existence they teased at the idea of an aluminum framed Hudson dubbed the H9A.

Well before that could come to fruition the company fell into issues and is now a thing of the past. However, KE Arms decided to throw us H9 owners a bone. KE Arms were the ones who were preparing to produce the aluminum frames for the Hudson and after all the proceedings got sorted out KE decided to release the frame. So, the moment I saw these hit the store I grabbed my credit card like a giddy boy on his first date trying to impress a girl. (He did go to West Point, so in his defense that was like five years ago - Ed)

After a hiccup of getting a slightly out of spec frame on my first go around I received its replacement and I was back in business. (As a quick aside, KE Arms was absolutely amazing to deal with. I did get a bad frame but replacing it was as quick and painless as waiting for a new toy can be.)
After receiving my frame I quickly fired up the old youtube like any good gunsmith and found someone who had already figured out how to fully disassemble the pistol and I went to work. It took me maybe 30 minutes total to find a video and get all the parts switched out and have my very own working H9A.

The majority of that 30 minutes was me examining the pistol so I knew exactly how everything worked on this machine. Now the H9A that I now have is slightly different than what was planned to be released but ever so slightly. The planned release handgun would have barely noticeable different slide serrations, polymer grips, and a G10 beavertail vs the steel one currently in place.

Besides these parts my H9A is as close to coming out of the factory as it could be. One of the best parts about this transition is that the Hudson uses a chassis system so all the hard abuse contact points that one would worry about with other aluminum handguns is a moot point here.  I’m expecting my H9A to hold up just as long as it’s steel frame brother.

Now to the couple of key facts and information that everyone really cares about. By just changing out the frame my Hudson went from a solid 34 ounces to a much lighter 28 ounces. That may not sound like much, but, almost half a pound in handgun speak is a ton of weight. This 28 ounces is much closer to Mack’s favorite Tupperware the G19 which comes in at 21.52 ounces and is very similar to the standard 4” aluminum framed 1911.

Still heavier than plastic but much more agreeable for a long day on your hip. But the best part about this diet is that this gun is amazingly balanced, dare I say even more so than the original, and still shoots amazingly. I was trying to keep my expectations low because I really didn’t believe that it would shoot the same, maybe close, but not the same. Well, I was very happy to be wrong here. This gun just plain shoots. It almost makes me look like a competent handgun shooter.

Thanks to Mack and some other friends who love to help me spend my money, I actually used a second Hudson for this and in turn was able to use my steel framed gun side by side. Minus actually feeling the weight difference when picking the guns up I could not tell any difference in the recoil. I shot everything from steel cased 115gr to 158gr (158 grn? What the hell were they? - Ed) hollow point self-defense ammunition and the gun recoiled the exact same round for round as the original.

I haven’t had any issues conceal carrying my steel H9 but I can tell you right now it will get replaced by my new H9A due to the fact that it shoots just as smooth but with less weight. My steel gun will still get run hard during competitions but my new carry gun will be the H9A. And just as before, if you run into a guy that goes by Pudge at the range, stop by and say hey and I’ll probably force you to shoot my H9 and now H9A.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tsundoku Tuesday- Fleet Admiral Fabels

 Gonna hit y'all with a book review today. And for once; it is a book I'm not going to fawn over.

If you ask anyone to name American military leaders you are going to get a diverse selection. Bradley and Spruance. Patton and Halsey. Nimitz and Eisenhower. And maybe, if discussing with a serious student of the War; you might get King and Marshall.

However, very few people are going to mention Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief.

Now, Bill Leahy was the fist officer in the American military to for real wear five stars. General Washington would have worn six if we were splitting hairs and General Pershing, when told to design his own insignia, simply had four stars gold plated. Saying that even as General of the Armies wearing more than four stars didn't seem right.

Rank insignia aside; FADM Leahy is certainly an interesting character. During the latter part of 1944; he for all intents and purposes was President. A task he was preformed most adequately. However; the man was far from perfect.

That being said; Phillips Payson O'Brien does his level best to make FADM Leahy seem like the man who won World War II and set the stage for our eventual victory in the Cold War.

His book "Second Most Powerful Man in the World" is a long over due single volume study of FADM Leahy. That being said; I have problems with many of his conclusions and theories. My issues with his scholarly work mainly derive from the lack of footnotes and his mistakes on simple matters of the historical record.

For instance; the United States Navy fielded four Iowa class battleships in World War II.

I had issues taking anything else in the book seriously after that.

Furthermore, Professor O'Brien seems bound and determined to portray General Marshall as an idiot. And I'm not really sure why.

He hardly mentioned FADM King.

And the praise he heaps up FDR is more befitting to a 1946 propaganda news reel than a scholarly text.

Jackie bought me this book for my birthday. I wouldn't recommend spending any money on it.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Damn Near Free Friday - P-85 Edition

So, continuing with the theme from this week of cheap guns; we'll take a look at something I bought out the back of Shotgun Firearm News a couple of weeks ago. We'll discuss price here in just a minute.

Why yes dear reader; that is a Ruger P-85. The few Ruger auto aficionados among you may recognize that as a pre-Mk II P-85, meaning it is a super early gun. Like first production guns in 1985 old.

So, the P-85 is a Browning style action modified to be DA/SA. Pretty straight forward.
Well designed, over built, blocky to the point of what some would call ugly, the gun just works. Ruger originally designed the gun, or at least began the process for the 1984 Joint Service Pistol Trial. Just think, we could have been carry that lovely piece of American made hardware.

So, Jackie buys my Old Man a subscription to Shotgun Firearm News every year for Father's Day. And after Pop reads them; he gives to me. And in the back each month there are generally cheap surplus pistols for sell.

Over the last six, eight months I've been looking at an ad for P-85 pistols, and have seen the price steadly decrease. When it hit $165; I said screw it and called in his my credit card and file copy of the store's FFL handy.

The gun didn't come with a magazine nor did it come with a case. And it was sticky. Yeah, ewwwww.

As a funny aside; the weapon has an import mark stamped on the under side of the frame. So, Ruger sold this particular gun somewhere aboard and then some Yankee surplus warehouse brought it back home. But being headquartered out of New Jersey, they couldn't bring in the 15 round standard magazines.

So, when it showed up at work, I field stripped it, put it back together and then did a 4473. And shot a box of Remington overrun 115 grn  FMJ through it. No issues. Other than it being legit sticky to the touch. Ewww.

And I took it down to Florida last week. Where Pudge provided some ammo for further testing.

Yeah, it ate a whole box of Tul Ammo and didn't seem to care. Other than still being sticky to the touch.

All the Ruger 9mm P- series guns feed from the same mag. So I use my stash of AWB compliant ten rounders for general range use and run Mec-Gar 15 and 17 rounders for self defense or competition.

So, in summation, a cheap, well built American pistol function just like it ought to. And gives me a fun knock around gun to wave about proving I'm not a raving Glock fan boi all the time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Weapons Wednesday - Guns for the Space Force

 The following post is a pretty good write up over a couple of different topics. As we all know I'm a fan of "ghost guns" because Molon Labe; and I also think pistol mounted micro red dots are the wave of the future. Pudge did pretty good on this one.  And we'll begin this with a meme that hit's a little close to home to an old O-3 with a DD-214 body.

Space Force Assemble!!!!

 Not too long ago I shared with all of you my experience and thoughts of building my NAG 19 (Not-A-Glock). Well, Oops, I did it again. But this time I decided it was time to go full Space Cadet and I added a red dot sight and compensator. This is going to be my first impressions and thoughts on both pistol mounted red dots and compensators on handguns.

Better than what we posted yesterday

We’ll start with my thoughts on a pistol mounted red dot. I am guilty of being one of those guys that said, “insert some new technology here doesn’t belong or causes more issues than it solves;” (Pudge can't help that he is a Troglodyte whom thinks handgun perfection was attained in 1911 - Editor) but, I can definitely see benefits here. Not too long ago people were saying the same thing about red dots on rifles and now most of us can’t hardly imagine our rifles without them. I figured if this is the way of the future I better at least check it out and decide for myself.

 Since I run an Eotech on both my personal rifle and one of my work guns and am new to red dots on handguns I decided to go with a Holosun 507c. Now what does that have to do with Eotech? The 507c has an Eotech style reticle which I thought would be perfect to learn on. I am used to it and it gives me more error when I’m inevitably searching for the dot. It’s absolutely easier to find this reticle in a small window than just a dot. However, if you want just a dot or even just the circle you can do it with this sight. I also chose it due to the price and the reviews of many satisfied users. It fits on any standard RMR cut slide so no special slide cut is needed and there are many places you can find RMR ready slides of all styles. (For those wondering I went with one of Brownell’s RMR cut with window G19 slide.) [Hear that Pete? We'll take some sweet sweet ad money now. -Editor]

 So what can I tell you so far? I’m a fan. Not a running off to put red dots on all my handguns type fan, but a fan none the less. I can see the benefits of running a red dot. It can allow for very precise shooting at distance, does not cover up your target, and allows you to only have a single focal plane vs trying to transition between three different focal planes (rear sight, front sight, and target).

The first few times I shot a handgun with a red dot I couldn’t decide whether I absolutely hated it or just didn’t like it. After delving into what the ‘experts’ on youtube had to say I decided maybe it could turn into something I might want to have. I would like to thank/recommend Aaron Cowan from Sage Dynamics and all his videos available to help if a red dot is something you might want to try. He has lots of reviews as well as lots of instructional videos and information.

After a few outings with mine I think that I’m really going to like it. Both for the ability to shoot more accurately at distance as well as the ability to better focus on the target. You just focus on the target and bring the dot to your eye and you’re ready for business. For accuracy you now have a 2 MOA dot (depending on red dot) vs a thick front sight post and rear sights covering your target.  I’m currently slightly slower shooting with a dot than without but what do you expect after spending so long shooting handguns with irons alone. I am very confident that after a few more outings with this red dot that I will not only be more accurate but faster as well.

 Now on to compensators on a 9mm handgun. Why do I need a compensator on such a wimpy caliber? I don’t. But, if I can shoot a handgun with less recoil why wouldn’t I? It allows me to get back on target faster and in turn have faster follow-up shots. This especially comes into play as I learn to use a pistol mounted red dot. This compensator keeps the dot in the window the entire recoil cycle so I don’t have to continually search for it and never lose focus on target. After a lot of research I decide to go with the Agency Arms 417 compensator for both performance and because well, I personally think it looks pretty awesome on the front of my Space NAG. The 417 has very good reviews due to its performance and light weight construction. I am super happy with this compensator. It allows me to run this pistol very fast and accurately which is good in all aspects of shooting.

Originally, I was having issues and thought I was going to have to try a lighter recoil spring due to the decreased power to cycle the slide but after a couple of outings I am getting very comfortable with the reliability of this Space NAG. Being a custom build with everything but Glock OEM parts I think it just needed some good ol’ shooting to get broken in. A few more rounds and this very well may become my holy shnikes gun. Though I still need to add a set of backup sights before that time comes. I like the red dot, but just like on my rifle, I’m not so trustworthy I don’t need backup sights.

[Editor aside: I was really surprised with the difference in shooting a non comped Glock platform compared Pudge's comped NAG when shooting some 124 grn +P stuff.]

So far I’m extremely happy with my Space NAG. Now I just need to get recruited into the Space Force since I have a handgun befitting a member of such a unit! -Pudge

I would like to interject that while shooting the Space NAG I felt like I was "chasing the dot" a whole lot. But once you find it, figure out how to quickly reacquire it; and utilize it right; the system is a game changer. I'm a fan

Tune in tomorrow; where hangover permitting we are gonna talk about the ultimate bargain basement blaster. Thanks for stopping buy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tactical Tuesday - Battle of the Tauri

A special post from everyone's favorite co-blogger Pudge today. After months of vicious campaigning; I acquiesced to his desire to review Taurus pistols here. If anyone needs me I'll be taking a scalding hot shower to try and rinse off some the shame.

Battle of the Tauri-

As Mack knows, and I like to remind him every chance I get, I am a connoisseur of all firearm types both fine and fancy and crappy and crappier. Today I wanted to discuss two different Taurus pistols: the PT111G2/G2c and the TH9c. I acquired both of these pistols for different reasons. I will start off by saying that neither of these pistols would necessarily have been my first choice and I’m trying to figure out what exactly to use each of them for but I also would not over-look either if budget was a huge constraint or needed a handgun I wasn’t emotional about. I purchased the PT111 for roughly $200 brand new with a $50 dollar gift card (so $150 total) and the TH9C was purchased from Academy Sports for a little under $300 and it came with a free Rossi RS22. (In the intelligence community; this is called an indicator. -Editor)

The blog's first Taurus guns! What a momentous day!

I want to first start off by saying that there are slight changes between the PT111 and G2c. They are mostly cosmetic and are essentially the exact same pistol so I am referring to both when I discuss it vs the TH9c. The PT111 is a 12 round striker fired handgun with a thumb safety and is restrike capable. The TH9c is a 13 round (flush fit) or 17 round (extended) DA/SA, hammer fired handgun with thumb safety/decocker. We’ll try to begin understanding these handguns with the boring specs as compared to the ‘perfectly’ imperfect G19.

Barrel Length
Overall Length
13/17 extended

With that out of the way, let's discuss the good, the bad, and the eh…

The PT111 is not a terrible shooter but the trigger is not very smooth and not the cleanest breaking.(It sucks balls. -Editor) You aren’t going to win any accuracy shoots but it is more than enough minute of bad guy accurate. Interestingly enough it comes with an adjustable rear sight that is definitely usable. I think my favorite feature of this gun is the restrike capability. With good ammo you should never need this but it is a nice feature when Murphy tries to attack or you are like me and love some steel case (I can hear Mack groaning right now). 

The grip is very sandpaper like and really helps keep the gun from moving during rapid fire. On the downside this same grippiness is very rough against bare skin when being carried concealed. I like the thumb safety on this handgun. It is easy to reach with my stubby thumb and manipulate. The magazine release is reversible. Of note here though is that the thumb safety is only set up for right-handed shooters and is not reversible. The handgun takes down and reassembles like all the other plastic fantastic. There is a loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide. I want to note that Sig P226 magazines are verified to work very well in the PT111 if you want to have some larger capacity magazines. (As an aside, just the other day at work a customer was complaining that Mec-Gar -226 mags do not always work though. -Editor)

The TH9c definitely has some good things going for it. The double action trigger is long and heavy but the trigger in single action is slightly better than the PT111. I think the trigger being not quite as heavy in single action allowed for slightly better accuracy. (Accuracy was tested based on my abilities off-hand from between 5 and 15 yards.) This handgun also has restrike capabilities due to it being DA/SA. Unlike the PT111 the magazine release is already ambidextrous because it uses a cutout on the front face of the magazine. (I think Taurus made a huge mistake here by not making these magazines compatible. They are the same magazine tube but the cutouts are different. Keeping them the same would have been great due to the ability of the PT111 to use Sig P226 magazines and some of the original 24/7 magazines.) The TH9c does come with a 13 round flush fit and a 17 round extended magazine. The 17 rounder has a sleeve to provide some extra grip but can be removed allowing you to use it in the full-size TH9. One feature I do not understand at all is the decocker/thumb safety. It can be flipped up to carry the handgun cocked and locked or use it to decock the handgun and carry it hammer down on fire giving you a DA first shot. Again, similar to the PT111, the magazine release is ambidextrous but the decocker/safety is only set up for right-handed shooters and not reversible. The full size TH9 however comes with an ambidextrous decocker/safety already installed. (Not sure why they would do this on the full size and not the compact.) The grip is plenty grippy without being overly aggressive like the PT111 can be. The extra grip available with the 17 rounder inserted is definitely nice but not necessary. I think given the chance I would prefer the full size TH9 due to the extra grip and barrel length.

If I had to choose one after firing both side by side I would choose the TH9c. Even with very similar dimensions and feel in the hand, the recoil felt smoother and lighter and the trigger pull was slightly better with the TH9c. I will however continue to keep the PT111 in my carry rotation in certain circumstances because I have verified its reliability and it is an easy handgun to grab and stow. There are, without doubt, better options out there for a concealed or fighting handgun but if this is all you can afford and need something now or are looking for something to tuck away in a bag or vehicle and not have to worry about then don’t overlook the venerable Taurus models PT111G2/G2c or the TH9c. - Pudge

There you have folks a review of some bargain basement bullet throwers. I'm gonna go see how many beers I can drink before I black out tonight. I can't believe Pudge convinced me to shoot the damn things.

We also kept going into our bargain basement and did some more shooting which we'll talk about here soon. Thanks for stopping buy. -Counter Jockey.

Tinkering Thusday - Tank Fighting AR

So, some of y'all know that I want a .50 BMG platform of some such. Pudge did too. He just took a rather interesting path to one.... ...