DIY Archive


AA9130 – Archangel Opfor® Precision Rifle Stock for Mosin-Nagant Review

AA9130-1Want to radically change the personality and performance of your Mosin Nagant rifle? You know, the old school Russian rifle that was made in obscene numbers (some say more than 37 million) from the late 1800s through the mid 20th Century. There are a variety of ways to tweak your old battle rifle. One of the most striking products for bringing a Mosin Nagant rifle into the modern era of material, design, accuracy and ergonomics is the American Made Archangel Opfor AA9130 Mosin Nagant replacement stock.

ProMag Archangel OpFor AA9130 mosin nagant stock reviewI have read many folks quick dismissals of this stock on the grounds that it is just an aesthetic change and made of cheap plastic. In fact, the look is what first grabbed my attention. Archangel sent a black Archangel AA9130 stock and accessory Picatinny rail for review as part of our Mosin Modernization Project. We used it on our “Modern Mosin Sniper build”. After installing the AA9130 stock on our updated mosin and shooting it many times over the past few months, my experience suggest that some (if not most) of the nay sayers are selling the Archangel AA9130 OpFor stock well short.

Don’t call me Bubba
Sergei Mosin is visibly upset by archangel stock 12628641_156093031436712_6915055820046844618_oSpend a little time lurking in Mosin Nagant Collector circles and you will find that one dude is more universally hated than Hillary at an NRA convention.
His name is Bubba.

Exactly who Bubba is can be confusing since there are multiple camps, each with their own description of Bubba.

To the Purist, Bubba is anyone that makes ANY changes to a Mosin from it’s original military parts, condition and configuration. Bubba is a defiler worthy of a public stoning. Maybe even a firing squad. For the Purist, the mere existence of the Archangel stock for Mosins is Bubbatastic blasphemy. While I respect the Purist passion and have a rack of Mosins that I treat with a Purist’s reverence, I also feel sorry for them as they really are missing out.

Others take more relaxed approach and only assign to Bubbadom those who make permanent mods to a Mosin, or a more rare collectable Mosin. Limited modifications on the leadt collectable Mosins are accepted and may even be celebrated.

And then we have the self described Bubbas of the world, who happily hack, drill, mill, and weld anything that doesn’t get away fast enough.

For the Limited Modders and Bubbas with an open mind, the Archangel AA9130 stock offers one of the easiest and most thorough Mosin modernization transformations available. And installation requires no permanent modifications at all.

Mosin Nagant Archangel sniper build - Jeff shooting from Hyskore ten ring shooting benchSome reasons an Archangel AA9130 stock might be right for you:

Let’s be honest here, not everyone appreciates the aesthetics of the late 18th Century. Beat up wood stocks in the various unnatural shades of the reddish brown lacquer preferred by Crazy Ivan are soooo last Century.
Given the simple two-screw stock attachment on Mosins, it is easy to upgrade to the modern Precision Rifle look of the Archangel stock.
I won’t criticise anyone that upgrades their mosin purely for looks. I especially like the look of the desert tan Archangel stock. However, I tend to think there are more compelling reasons.

Mosin Nagant Archangel sniper build - AA9130 stock

Mosin Nagant Archangel sniper build – AA9130 stock with ATN X-Sight


I am 6’4″ tall with obnoxiously long arms. Apparently, the Russian soldiers the Mosin was designed for were more, um… “vertically challenged”. I like rifles that allow the stock length from the rear receiver tang to the shooter’s shoulder, called ” length o pull”, to be adjusted to better fit my dimensions. The Archangel stock not only allows the length of pull to be adjusted, but also has a height adjustable cheek rest to help the shooter get consistent proper alignment with their aiming optic.
Additionally, standard Mosins don’t benefit from the modern pistol grip stock configuration, which is arguably more comfortable. The Archangel stock improves trigger hand ergonomics via a more vertical grip orientation as well as adding palm swells and valuable storage space inside the pistol grip.

Removable magazines
Can you tell this is a big deal to me?
ProMag Archangel OpFor AA9130 mosin nagant stock - removable mosin magazineA huge shortcoming of the original Mosin Nagant configuration is the 5 round fixed, non-removable magazine. Loading the standard Mosin is typically accomplished via the use of a stripper clip with 5 round inserted in front of the open bolt, pushing down the 5 rounds past the interruptor, then removing the stripper clip. It is every bit the pain in the butt that it sounds like.
If a modern scope has been added to the top of the Mosin receiver, then it will likely block stripper clip loading access such that rounds must be added to the Mosin one at a time.
The Archangel removable magazines are available in 5 and 10 round capacities and solve both of these problems. For many that wish to add a scope to a Mosin rifle, the Archangel stock is the obvious solution. It should be noted that the first magazine I tried with the Archangel mosin stock had issues retaining the rounds when not installed in the rifle. A quick call to customer service resulted in a new magazine that works properly being delivered a few days later.

Accuracy upgrades
Pillar receiver bedding
A time proven method to improve the accuracy of a rifle is to install rigid cylinders of a specific length to hold the receiver at the right distance from the trigger assembly and firmly in relation to the stock. Installation of bedding pillars is often a gunsmith job, which can be pricey. The Archangel AA9130 OpFor stock comes with bedding pillars installed.

Free floated barrel
Even very modest modern rifles often have free floated barrels. ie. Barrels that do not touch the stock at all. Standard Russian Mosin Nagant rifles are usually not free floated. The reasons free floating the barrel improves accuracy can be complex, dealing with the flex and harmonic resonance as the bullet travels the length of the barrel and exits. Lets just say that a free floated barrel is often more accurate than an otherwise similar barrel that is not free floated.
Often, but not always.

Barrel tension block
There are a variety of Mosin models, with different barrel lengths and thicknesses. Even within the same model there can be wide differences in how accuracy is effected by free floating. Finland was taken by Russia and fought against Russia at various points during the heyday of the Mosin. The Finns were known to apply a variety of tweaks to Russian Mosins to make them more accurate. Sometimes they would free float the barrel, other times they achieved better accuracy by applying pressure to the barrel.
Archangel equipped their OpFor AA9130 stock with a barrel tension adjustment block which allows the builder to try the barrel free floated or with a user adjustable amount of upward pressure applied to the the bottom of the barrel.

Mosin Nagant Archangel sniper build - JJ install Timney Trigger Mosin Nagant

Mosin Nagant Archangel sniper build – JJ installs Timney Trigger Mosin Nagant

Timney trigger
The Mosin Nagant trigger can often be tweaked by a skilled gunsmith to have a reasonable pull weight and decent break. However, my experience is that it is rather difficult to get a light Mosin trigger that is also drop safe… And safety is kind of important. Speaking of safety, the Mosin Nagant lacks a modern trigger safety.
Timney Triggers, one of our favorite trigger companies, makes an adjustable, single stage trigger for the Mosin Nagant that includes a lever operated trigger safety. We HIGHLY recommend the Timney Triggers Mosin Nagant trigger for anyone that likes a crisp, short throw trigger. However, adding a Timney Trigger to a standard Mosin requires some inletting of the wood stock on the right side above the trigger. While removing wood to make room for the trigger safety lever maybe easy for some people, others either aren’t comfortable inletting the stock, down have the right tools, or just don’t care to.
The Archangel stock makes the upgrade to a Timney Trigger easy since it comes with an easily removable filler in the place where the safety lever will reside. No inletting of the Archangel stock is required.


Atlas Bipod installed on Archangel AA9130 stock

Atlas Bipod installed on Archangel AA9130 stock

As noted earlier, the removable magazine allows for easy loading even when a scope is installed over the opening in the receiver. While this technically does not make the rifle itself more accurate, the addition of a magnified optic usually helps the shooter to more precisely aim the rifle, effectively making its use more accurate. Check out our Mosin Scope Mount article for various options to mount a scope on a Mosin Nagant rifle.

Adjustable Comb Height and Length of Pull

Allowing the rifle to be fit more precisely to the shooter can go a long way to making a rifle more accurate. The Archangel AA9130 OpFor stock has a cheek rest that can be adjusted vertically (comb height) to help the shooter more naturally align their eye with the scope or iron sights. As noted earlier, I also appreciate that the length of pull can be adjusted… longer for me, shorter for those with shorter arms. My only complaint is that the adjuster knobs can be a bit difficult to turn.

Easy accessorising
Adding a bipod, flashlight (or “torch”, if you are tacticool), laser, camera, or other accessory to a standard mosin may be possible, depending on how skilled Bubba is with duct tape or zip ties… But it is not considered good form. Far better is the Archangel stock’s more modern model AA124 1913 Picattiny rail system (optional) that allows simple addition or removal of accessories via a standard 3 inch rail section can be attached to the bottom of the Archangel AA9130 stock handguard via 3 included Allen screws in a matter of minutes. Additionally, the Archangel mosin stock has a Quick Disconnect QD sling swivel mount on the underside of the forend, and two QD fittings near the rear of the stock, one on each side.

Here is the bipod we chose for our Mosin Modernization Project – Modern Mosin Sniper build, the Atlas Bipod.

But it is cheap plastic
Yeah, it is plastic, but I think this is a good thing. Plastic stocks do not need to have a finished applied, so no more of the famous flaking Russian varnish. Far less worry about dinging or mosin_nagant_archangel_sniper_build (16)scratching the more durable plastic stock. And a plastic stock is far more dimensionally stable as temperature and humidity change. Speaking of humidity, plastic stocks don’t rot or hold damaging moisture up against the gun’s metal quite the way wood does if the rifle gets really wet. I love a nice flamed finish Mosin stock as much as the next guy, but for a rifle I plan to shoot, I prefer a stock that I won’t worry about getting scratched.
If you are the type to paint your rifle, then you will be pleased to learn that the Archangel AA9130 stock takes Cerakote and Duracote well.


Pretty simple. There are detailed instructions in the package, but here are the basics:

  • Remove the barreled action and trigger/mag assembly from your donor mosin
  • Place the barreled action in the top of the Archangel stock
  • Install the two action screws. One is inserted up from the bottom, forward of the mag well and onto the receiver lug, the other is installed down through the receiver tang.
  • Check trigger and interruptor range of motion and function. It may be required to remove some material from the stock if it interferes with either.
  • Install the bolt in the action.
  • If also installing a modern scope, then you may need to install a downturned, bent bolt so that the bolt handle does not hit the scope or mount.
  • Also check whether the barrel is totally free floated, or if any material needs to be removed along the barrel channel. Depending on barrel outer diameter, a section of PVC pipe wrapped in sandpaper can make removing the right amount if material easy.

In my installation of a 1932 Izhevsk 1891/30 with Timney Trigger I chose to remove the barrel tensioner block and install the AA124 1913 Picattiny rail. After dry fitting I also had to inlet the left side of the receiver well to allow the interruptor to move properly. The whole installation process took less than 20 minutes.


Unless you just have “a thing” for the old wood stocks, I struggle to understand why anyone would NOT put their mosin in one of these stocks. Ok, maybe that is a bit strong. I actually like the ATI Monte Carlo stock for a Mosin Brush Gun, as it is a bit lighter and easy to carry. However, for any sort of supported shooting, whether it be off of a bench, shooting rail, or the ground, the Archangel mosin stock is really hard to beat. I would like it to be lighter and for the adjustment knobs to turn more easily. Otherwise, it has served well in our testing and continues to impress. If I could only have one Mosin, I think I would put it in the Archangel mosin stock.

Gear Score
For less than $200 the Archangel stock completely transforms the shooting experience for any flavor of Mosin Nagant rifle.

Gallery of Archangel AA9130 images


WMD Guns AR Ultimate Chassis – SHOT Show 2016

Lee from WMD Guns show us their new AR15 and AR10 Ultimate Chassis system.

In short, the Ultimate Chassis is a WMD Guns Beast AR15 or WMD Guns Big Beast AR10 that is sold without the furniture.
This allows the dealer to supply the furniture that they prefer or the end user to pick exactly what they want, instead of buying a complete AR, then tossing the unwanted furniture.

WMD Guns Ultimate Chassis features:


WMD Guns Beast AR Pistol – SHOT Show 2016

Lee from WMD Guns show us the prototype for their new AR15 Beast pistol.

This .223 Rem / 5.56 AR-15 in pistol configuration features:

*Lee asked that I mention that the colors will be matched better on the production units.


Duck Shot Seasoned Shotgun Shells – SHOT Show 2016

Greg says this is a gag gift, but I’m not so sure. Duck Shot are shotgun shells that have spice infused shot and gunpowder.

The prospect of pre-seasoning a bird as it is shot sounds like a real time saver to me.
What do you think?


Blue Force Gear uLoop and Dapper Pouches – SHOT Show 2016

Anthony from Blue Force Gear shows us two new products for 2016, the uLoop universal sling attachment and Dapper Pouches.


Unique ARs New Products – SHOT Show 2016

Unique ARs intros four new AR15 handguard designs (or AR10) for 2016 at SHOT show 2016:
-One Shot – skulls
-Blaster – custom front end
-2016 Hex – ultra light weight
-Chain – big chain links

If you aren’t familiar with , then check out our 2015 UniqueARs Jax pattern handguard review.
Prior to that review I had only seen pictures of UniqueARs handguards on AR15 and AR10 rifles (and a few AR pistols). They looked cool, but sometimes things look cool in pictures and not so much in person.
The Unique-ARs handguards actually look better in person than they do in pictures. Unfortunately, 2 dimensional pictures can’t really show the full details, rounded and angled edges, etc.


Rock Solid Industries Mosin Nagant and K31 Products – Shot Show 2016

Rock Solid Industries Mosin Nagant and K31 Products - Shot Show 2016Ken at Rock Solid Industries gets us up to speed on new RSI products for 2016. Check out the video for more details on:

  • Mosin Low Pro scope mount
  • K31 scope mount with Scout base and bridge mount.
  • K31 peep sight
  • K31 10 round box magazine (!!)
  • Mosin bolt spring
  • Mosin Nagant Zipper Strip stripper clip
  • K31 bolt spring
  • Muzzle brakes and flash suppressors
  • Trigger shoes
  • New Mosin Nagant and K31 laminate stock from RSI and Bluegrass Gun Works
  • Mosin action screws with hex heads
  • LEFT HANDED Mosin Nagant bolt!
  • Berdan primer pocket clean-up tool for reloading European Berdan primed brass


AMG Lock Stock and Barrel Glock Carbine Kit – SHOT Show 2016

My EDC handgun is a Glock 17 Gen 4.
I like that it is a proven pistol, with lots of upgrade options and accessories.
But it will always be a pistol… or so I thought.
An intriguing Glock 17 upgrade that I stumbled across at SHOT Show 2016 was the “Lock, Stock and Barrel” Pistol to Rifle conversion kit from American Manufacturing Group.
In the video Brian shows us the Glock conversion kit, gives all the details, and a sneak peek at the new barrel shroud assembly that they are working on.

Stay tuned, as Gear Report will get a conversion kit for testing soon and will post a full review and video after we have given it a workout.


Dead Foot Arms MODIFIED CYCLE SYSTEM (MCS) Folding AR Stock – SHOT Show 16

Dead Foot Arms MODIFIED CYCLE SYSTEM (MCS) Folding AR Stock - SHOT Show 16 - Gear Report

Dead Foot Arms MODIFIED CYCLE SYSTEM (MCS) Folding AR Stock – parts view

The AR platform was around for decades with very little change. However, the past few years have seen an explosion of new parts and accessories. Most are subtle changes to established parts… a new sling QD location on a collapsible stock, a different handguard profile, a pistol grip with a slightly different shape or texture…
It is far more rare that someone brings an AR product to market that fundamentally changes how the AR operates. While Dead Foot Arms isn’t the first to introduce a folding AR-15 stock, they offer the first folding AR stock that I have seen which allows the AR to be fired with the stock folded. The ability to fire with the stock folded is one of the last holdout features where the AK platform has an advantage over the AR platform. If Dead Foot Arms has gotten this right, then this could be a game changer for folks that need (or want) a folder that works while folded.

The Dead Foot Arms folding AR15 stock relies on a re-engineered Bolt Carrier Group called the Modified Cycle System (MCS).
I saw the new MCS installed on a rifle at the Dead Foot Arms booth at SHOT Show 16 and was impressed. Of course, at the booth there was no way to verify reliable operation, how the parts hold up over time or how the MCS deals with recoil, compared to a standard BCG and buffer setup. We talked about getting a unit to review and I will follow up now that I am settled in the office again after SHOT.

Why the name “Dead Foot Arms”? That is an excellent question, and one that I will pose to the guys next time I speak with them.


SD Tactical Arms .308 AR10 Billet Upper – Lower Set – SHOT Show 16

Darrel at SD Tactical Arms says the product he is most proud of at their booth this year is their billet AR10 upper and lower set (not just an upper, as I say in the intro)… and we can see why. The fit is uber tight, with a nice flared mag well, oversized, relieved trigger guard, and slick side upper. Gear Report will be anxiously watching to see how testing goes and when these parts hit the shelves.

SHOT_Show_2016_Day3 (119)We happen to be big fans of the SDTA Obama end of term Countdown Clock as well…


Hiperfire 2016 New Products HiperGrip HiperComp ECL Trigger – SHOT Show 16 – Gear Report

In the video below Terry at Hiperfire surprises us with some new product announcements that expand the Hiperfire brand from just triggers, to also include the HiperTrain trigger demonstrator, the HiperGrip AR15/AR10 grip, and HiperComp AR platform compensators / muzzle brakes.

Expect the HiperGrip around March, HiperComp over the summer, with .30 cal versions a bit later.



Reloading 22 long rifle Cartridges with Sharp Shooter 22 long rifle Reloader – Shot Show 2016 –

Brian from Sharp Shooter has done what many have said was impossible, and made what appears to be a simple and easy 22 long rifle cartridge reloading kit, as well as kits for other rimfire cartridges. I caught up with Brian at Shot Show 2016 to get the details on how it works, what it costs, and where to find it.


How to Buy an AR15 Rifle, AR-15 Pistol, AR10

So, you want to buy an AR15, AR10, or some other AR platform rifle or pistol variant (there are LOTS of them), but you aren’t sure which one you should buy?
We are here for you. The Gear Report team have a wide variety of AR-15 and AR-10 style rifles. Who better to help you sort out what to buy?how to buy an ar-15 rifle - ap-15 aeroprecision

Quick recommendation:
If you don’t want to read lots details or make a series of decisions… you just want a decent quality, general use AR at a good price… buy this:
AERO AC-15 Complete Rifle

Our Armorer, Jason, builds a LOT of ARs for Law Enforcement agencies and is a loyal AeroPrecision advocate. It is not the cheapest AR you will find, but the AERO AC-15 Complete Rifle is well built, reliable, and comes with iron sights and a 30 round Magpul P-Mag. So, the only other thing you need is ammo. In my opinion, it is worth spending a little more to get the higher quality of the AERO AC-15 Complete Rifle. If you keep it and shoot it, it will serve you well. If you decide to sell it, it should hold it’s value better than the bargain basement brands. Click here for full specs or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Deeper look at YOUR needs:

Quad rail AR15 handguards are TacticalThe AR15 platform is like an adult set of Legos. With so many options it is easy to get sucked in to all of the latest high tech, tacticool “upgrades” without really understanding the options or why you might/might not want them on YOUR AR-15.
To make an informed decision you need a logical process, just like in our handgun purchase guide (How to choose the right handgun for personal protection or concealed carry). By answering the right questions you are less likely to blow your money on cool stuff, just to find out later that the latest tacti-cool accessories are useless to you, or worse, detract from how YOU intend to use YOUR AR15.

Steps to choose the best AR (each step is explained in more detail below)

  1. What is your AR15 budget?
  2. Short list of AR manufacturers
  3. How will you use your AR?
  4. clipart0279_moneyWhich ammunition cartridge is right for your AR?
  5. Which AR configuration can you shoot effectively and comfortably?
  6. Practical usage test
  7. Where to buy?

Step 1: What is your AR15 budget?

Set your budget FIRST, then narrow down to the right AR platform rifle or pistol within your budget. Write down the maximum that you are willing to spend on an AR platform rifle… if you write it down it is harder to fudge on the number later and make an emotionally driven poor decision. The good news is that even if the perfect AR15 for you is not within your budget today, you can likely start with a quality basic AR that can be upgraded later. Keep in mind that most new AR users have ideas of what setup they want, but as they gain AR experience they tweak the setup to better meet their needs. Starting basic, then upgrading as you get more AR experience makes more sense than stretching your budget for features that you might not really need.

Step 2: Short list of AR manufacturers
180px-Bushmaster_Firearms.svgThere are a bazillion AR makers these days, but not all ARs are created equal. Narrow the list to brands of AR15 that are considered reliable enough to bet your life that they will work when you need them to. I generally recommend sticking with the bigger brand names like:

Testing the Gibbz Arms side charging AR15 upper

Testing the Gibbz Arms side charging AR15 upper

Or premium specialty brands like:

While many folks are happy with bargain options like polymer receiver ARs, I recommend that you consider a forged aluminum lower receiver to be your minimum requirement and avoid polymer receivers until you know more about ARs and are sure that it will be sufficient for your intended uses.

Jeff took this mid sized white tail buck with the WMD Guns WMD-10

Jeff took this mid sized white tail buck with the WMD Guns WMD-10

Step 3: How will you use your AR?

With so many options on how to configure an AR-15 you really need make sure your rifle is configured appropriately for your needs.
To do this you MUST define how your AR will be used. Are you buying an AR for home defense, coyote hunting, deer hunting, hog hunting, dynamic competitive shooting, static competitive shooting, as a truck gun, for a SHTF situation, your LEO duty weapon, something else?
Be honest with yourself. If you really just want one because they look cool and you don’t like the government telling you not to get one, then the rest of the considerations below aren’t really going to matter for you. Just get the AERO AC-15 Complete Rifle and be done with it. It will do everything you need at a reasonable cost.

Step 4: Which ammunition cartridge is right for your AR?
best hunting ammo best hunting ammunition hornadyI believe that some holy wars have been fought with less disagreement and conviction than ammo debates concerning which cartridge and caliber are favored among gun owners. However, I’ll make this easy for most people… choose an AR chambered in 5.56×45, or .223 Wylde because it is the most common AR chambering (notice I left .223 Remington out), making ammo generally more available and available in more types. However, the AR platform has been adapted to a variety of other cartridges, often with specific uses in mind.

Every cartridge option is a compromise between a variety of complex factors including:

  • how many rounds of ammo you can carry in the AR (bigger, heavier rounds generally mean the gun will hold fewer rounds)
  • how many rounds can you carry to reload the AR after firing (bigger, heavier rounds likely mean that however you carry spare rounds will have to accommodate them)
  • 7.62x39 ammo

    7.62×39 is a relatively plentiful Comm Block cartridge in the US

    cost of ammunition

  • availability of the cartridge in general
  • internal ballistic characteristics of the round (how it behaves in the gun, mostly concerned with recoil)
  • external ballistics of the round (how it reacts in flight and upon impact)
  • availability of ammunition variants that meet your intended uses (personal defense, hunting, plinking, law enforcement, etc.)

Our goal is to help you pick the best option for your specific needs. If you aren’t well schooled in the pros and cons of all the different caliber options, then you should probably limit your choices to the most popular and readily available options until you learn more… .223 Remington/5.56×45, 300 AAC Blackout, 7.62×39 are relatively easy to find cartridges with a wide range of uses.

*When might .223 Remington / 5.56 Nato NOT be the best choice for you? When you need:

  • a heavier or more powerful round for barrier penetration, taking large game ethically, shooting longer distances, etc.
  • a lighter or less powerful round to limit penetration, over-penetration, or barrier penetration
  • a more compact option
  • to share ammo with other weapons
  • you intend to shoot with a silencer

I found the following in a popular shooting forum post from 2010, so it is missing some of the newer options, but should give you an idea of the scope of options:

“AR-15, without bolt modification
best hunting ammo best hunting ammunition.17 Remington
.20 Tactical
.20 Practical
.20 Vartag
.204 Ruger
.221 Fireball
.222 Remington
.222 Remington Magnum
.223 Remington (5.56x45mm)
.223 Remington Ackley Improved
6mm TCU
6mm Whisper
6.5mm Whisper
7mm Whisper
7mm TCU
.300 Whisper (.300/221, .300 Fireball)
300 AAC Blackout *Jeff added
.338 Whisper

AR-15, with bolt modification

1943 izzy mosin 9130 ex sniper ammo

7.62x54r is one of the few rounds you are unlikely to find in the AR platform

223 WSSM
5.45x39mm (.21 Genghis)
243 WSSM
6mm PPC
6mm WOA
6mm BR Remington
6mm Hagar
6.5mm PPC
6.5 WSSM
6.5 WOA
6.5mm Grendel
6.8x43mm SPC
.30 Herrett Rimless Tactical (6.8x43mm case trimmed to 41mm and necked up to .308; the 6.8mm version of the .300 Whisper)
.30 RAR
300 OSSM
.357 Auto
.35 Gremlin (necked up 6.5 Grendel to 358)
.358 WSSM (various names, but all are some form of a WSSM necked up to 35 caliber, some are shortened to make them big game legal in Indiana)
.458 SOCOM
.50 Action Express
.50 Beowulf

AR-15 using a simple blowback operation

mossberg 715 T Tactical .22lr rifle review video - fake charging handle & plastic sight adjuster

Mossberg 715 T Tactical .22lr rifle (click image for review)

.17 HMR
.22 LR
.22 WMR
30 Carbine
357 Sig
400 Cor-Bon
41 Action Express
10mm Auto
45 GAP
45 Super
45 Win Mag

This list is in no way complete.

This list does not include complete different uppers like the FN 5.7 or the one that shoots .410 shotgun, crossbow bolts or bolt action uppers like the 50BMG”

With your cartridge chosen you can narrow your focus to the vast range of AR configurations available.

Step 5: Which AR configuration can you shoot effectively and comfortably?

how to choose a concealed carry handgun - AR pistol in .300 Blackout

Yes. This AR in .300 Blackout is a “pistol” and might be a good personal defense choice

Every feature on an AR can impact fitness for use for any given activity. For example, an AR configured for static competitive shooting might benefit from a long, heavy barrel and have a high magnification scope for long distance shooting… which would make it really hard to use for home defense or as a general SHTF weapon due to reduced field of view, bulk, and optics durability. If you didn’t define your intended use in Step 3, you really can’t progress and make a logical decision on what to buy.

Big options to consider:

  • Rifle vs Pistol: Will you need the more compact pistol and be able to use it effectively without shouldering it? Will the ballistics a short pistol barrel work for your intended use (generally, rounds designed for rifles are less effective when shot from shorter pistol barrels)? Hint: Most people should start with a rifle.
  • Weight: Will you always use it from a shooting rest where weight doesn’t matter, or will you carry it where lighter weight is desired?
  • Adjustable: Will you be the only one shooting it, and always the same way, or will you need the ability to adjust things like the length of pull, and cheek rest height?
  • Modularity: Will you set it up once and leave it in that configuration, or will you add and remove parts and accessories routinely for different tasks?
  • Radical Firearms .300 Blackout 16" upper

    Radical Firearms 300 BLK upper, Ergo grip, Blackhawk adjustable stock

    Aiming: Are you a die-hard iron sights user that will only ever use an integrated A2 carry handle sight, or would a flat-top upper with a rail to accommodate a wide variety of optics choices better suit your needs?

  • Barrel length: Is your AR for home defense, where a shorter barrel will make for easier handling indoors, or a varmint hunter that wants a long, heavy barrel to stretch the effective distance of your AR? Be aware of the 16″ minimum length for Short Barreled Rifles (SBR) in the USA. Any less than 16″ and it either has to be registered as an SBR with a $200 tax stamp, or mounted to a pistol lower and used only as a pistol (never shouldered).

Some examples: Minor differences in the shape or texture of the pistol grip, hand guard or buttstock can make a big difference in utility, comfort and functionality. If you will night hunt with an IR illuminator and Night Vision scope, then you will need a “flat top” AR with a Picatinny rail on top for mounting the scope, and likely also need the ability to attach the IR illuminator to the handguard via a picatinny rail, keymod slot, m-lock slot or similar modular

WMDguns Big Beast .308 AR10 stills side with spent cases

WMDguns Big Beast .308 AR10 with Luth AR MBA- fixed stock

attachment method.

When you have sorted out your desired options, shoot as many as you can since AR configurations that look similar often feel very different when you shoot them. Many ranges have rental guns that you can try. Some gun shops have ranges where you can test fire. Or maybe you just ask around at the range to see who will let you try their AR. Sometimes you can’t try before you buy. However, most of the time you can if you invest a little effort. Please don’t make the mistake of buying an AR that your life might depend on some day without at least putting a few rounds down it to be sure it works for you.

Step 6: Practical usage test

If at all possible, test the configurations on your short list for functionality as well as practical usage. Many folks make the mistake of only shooting their guns under low-stress, very tightly controlled range conditions. By this point in the process you should have narrowed your options to a relatively short list. Test how these ARs perform for you ar trigger upgrade review close range carbine shootingunder your intended usage conditions. ie. If you will hunt deer at 200-400 yards from a tree stand, then you should test by shooting 200-400 yards from a seated position similar to how you sit in your tree stand. If you will only shoot 50 yard paper targets from a shooting rest, then test in that configuration.

Step 7: Where to purchase

While I am a big proponent of buying guns online, I recommend that a first time AR buyer do a lot of research and hands-on evaluation (noted above) before making a purchase. If you use your local gun shop to do this research, then consider buying your AR from them to support their business and make sure they are around the next time you want to get your hands on something to physically see it before you buy it.
If you would rather buy online, here are some trusted retail shops that will ship to your local FFL to keep the transaction legal:

Let us know in the comments what you decided to buy and if this process was helpful.

AERO AC-15 Complete Rifle Specs:

Upper Features:

  • Upper: Standard M4 Upper Receiver
  • Barrel: 16″ 5.56 NATO, Carbine Length, 1:7 Twist, 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium, QPQ corrosion resistant finish, M4 Profile
  • Sights: Magpul MBUS® Rear Sight, A2 Front Sight
  • Handguard: Standard M4 Carbine Handguard with double heat shield
  • Gas System: Carbine Length Gas System and A2 Pinned Front Sight Block
  • Bolt Carrier Group: M16 Cut, 8620 Steel, Phosphate Finish, Properly Staked, Carpenter 158 Bolt, HP and MPI Tested
  • Muzzle Device: Standard A2 Flash Hider

Lower Features

  • Lower: Gen 2 Lower Receiver with flared magwell and upper tension screw
  • Lower Parts Kit: Standard AR15 Lower Parts Kit
  • Buffer Kit: Standard Mil-Spec AR15/M4 Buffer Kit
  • Stock: Standard M4 Collapsable Stock
  • Grip: Standard A2 Pistol Grip
  • Magazine: Magpul 30 Round PMAG®



How to Make the ATN X-Sight Focus Ring Easy to Turn for Less Than $10

Common problem

One of the most common complaints about the ATN X-Sight digital day/night scope is that the objective lense focus ring can be hard to turn.
On both of the X-Sights that ATN sent for review I found that the focus ring is really stiff the first time it is turned, but seems to loosen up and turn a little easier for a few minutes. The stiff X-Sight focus ring can be annoying when using just the ATN X-Sight by itself for shooting during daylight hours.

How to Make the ATN X-Sight Focus Ring Easy to Turn for Less Than $10

Janne Kruse posted this picture on FB of an ATN X-Sight equipped with a Coaster and aftermarket IR illuminator

However, when using the ATN X-Sight Night Vision function an IR illuminator is required. ATN provides an IR illuminator which can be attached to a picatinny rail on the left side of the ATN X-Sight housing. Unfortunately, the position of the IR illuminator blocks the focus ring for a right handed shooter that wants to keep their right hand covering the trigger and adjust the X-Sight focus ring with their left hand. Many predator hunters opt for a brighter, but larger aftermarket IR illuminator, which makes it all but impossible to reach the X-Sight focus ring with the support hand.

Cheap DIY solution
A popular solution common with traditional scopes is the addition of an external ring to the zoom and/or focus ring to give the operator more leverage and make turning the ring easier. Many folks buy a “breakaway nylon coaster” for fishing for about $20 – $30 from fishing supply shops online. The “coaster” is sometimes in the $5-10 range with high shipping fees driving up the total price. I recently saw what appears to be the exact same product, but branded and sold as a clamp for securing sewage lines on RVs selling for less than $7 with free 2 day shipping via Amazon Prime (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial)
Here it is:

How to Make the ATN X-Sight Focus Ring Easy to Turn for Less Than $10 - 2 coasters

This picture shows an X-Sight user that installed a coaster on the front and rear lens adjustment rings

Simply slide the clamp over the focus ring with the tightening mechanism oriented vertically or canted towards the IR illuminator, tighten the clamp so that it won’t slip, and trim off any excess.
With the clamp in place you will have more leverage to turn the stiff ATN X-Sight focus ring. This is our favorite sort of DIY upgrade… cheap and easy!

What is the ATN X-Sight?

The ATN X-Sight offers a fantastic value for a digital rifle scope with features that traditional rifle scopes can’t begin to match. ATN offers the X-Sight in two versions, differing only in the optical magnification. Here are links to each X-Sight version on

We will post a full review of the ATN X-Sight soon.



F & H Forge Hand Forged Tomahawk HammerHawk Hammer Poll Review

F&H Forge tomahawk spike axe and railroad spike knife review

This tomahawk & knife were offered in the give-away

Which came first?

The F & H Forge Tomahawk or my obsession with the History Channel show Vikings?
The answer is not straight forward.
Last Summer I saw a FaceBook drawing from F & H Forge of Stuart, Virginia, for the winner’s choice of a hand forged railroad spike knife or hand forged Tomahawk. The knife was cool. Very cool, in fact, but something about the tomahawk seemed to speak to me and my Cherokee ancestry. As I typed my entry indicating that I would choose the tomahawk it felt like a done deal… like I wasn’t entering a drawing, but rather, claiming my prize. Fate would see to it that this stunning Tomahawk would make it’s way to me.

Then the drawing ended and I felt shame.

My gut had lied to me.

The tomahawk had not arrived at my door.
A few months later I  stumbled on Vikings and started binge watching my way through the bloody ascent of Earl Ragnar. One of the main characters, Floki, carries two tomahawks and is obscenely effective with them. More than once while watching Vikings I lamented not winning the drawing for the F & H Forge Tomahawk.

F&H Forge tomahawk spike axe and railroad spike knife review - Vikings Floki


As Summer transitioned into Fall I noticed a hidden private message inbox in my FB account and found an old, unread message from one of the head honchos at F & H Forge, Jared F. (I assume he is the F in F&H) that I had won the drawing!
Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!
f&h_forge_hammer_tomahawk (5)I was both thrilled and dejected, as it had been OVER 3 MONTHS since the note was sent. I figured I had missed the note and my chance at the Tomahawk had evaporated. I knew it was a long shot, but I replied with regrets that I had JUST found the note.

Turns out F & H Forge had not given the Tomahawk to someone else. They put it back in inventory and sold it. Much to my surprise, they offered to make a new one and send it to me. Further, since they were making it from scratch anyway they offered my choice of a Spike Hawk or a Hammer Poll.
Seriously? How cool is that!?

I was back to being thrilled again! I deferred the choice of what type to them… they are the experts, after all. It took a few months for F & H Forge to work my freebie into the production schedule, but when they did, they did it right. Pictured below is the Hammer Poll Tomahawk that F & H Forge made for me.

History of Hammer Poll tomahawks
F & H Forge Hand Forged Tomahawk HammerHawk Hammer Poll ReviewFor some background on Hammer Polls, check out this page from the TRADE AXE & TOMAHAWK COLLECTORS ASSOCIATION.

I honestly had no idea the depth of history around this particular type of tomahawk in North America or that there was a class of tomahawks referred to as OTNA – for those used by Other Than Native Americans.

Here is the note I received from Jared at F & H Forge:

“I chose a hammer pole for you. It was made from an old ball pein hammer and I left some minor hammer marks in it and did an acid finish to give it an original look. The handle is straight grain white oak. Also put a leather wrap grip on handle. The leather allows for an awesome grip but can be removed very easily. “

As can be seen in the pictures, it turned out fantastic. The F & H Forge Hand Forged Tomahawk HammerHawk Hammer Poll  is a great mix of practical, artistic and historical.

*More details below the pictures*

F & H Forge hammer poll tomahawk Specs:

  • Handle length: 18 inches
  • Handle diameter: 0.8 inches x 1.1 inches
  • Head length: 6 inches
  • Head width: 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 24.8 ounches

F & H Forge hammer poll tomahawk Features:

  • Axe edge is SHARP and will no doubt cut wood
  • Hammer face is very utilitarian
  • Leather wrap on handle is aesthetically pleasing and functional, providing significantly better grip than the bare wooden handle
  • Acid finish treatment really gives the hammer poll tomahawk an aged look, which combines nicely with the clean, straight oak handle
  • The simple “F & H” stamped Makers Mark on the blade is a nice touch
  • As a hand forged item, every little detail of the metalworking process is evident and highlighted by the acid finish

Cost and options

Here is what F & H Forge told me about options if you would like them to make something for you:

“We currently don’t have a web site. Hoping to have one up soon. The tomahawks and knives can range from $60.00 and up. Average hawk or knife runs around $125 to $150. Alot depends on the style and materials.”

Contact them via their Facebook page. Here is the link: F & H Forge Facebook page

Gear Score
The F & H Forge Hand Forged Tomahawk HammerHawk Hammer Poll is a unique item with both historical and artistic significance. I highly recommend F & H Forge for any custom creations you desire

Pictures of other work by F & H Forge: