CategoriesGun Reviews

Mepro Tru-Vision Rifle Red Dot First Impressions

Meprolight is the latest optic company to join the rifle-mounted optic fray with their new Tru-Vision red dot. They sent me one to try a couple of weeks ago. Normally, I would run it through the paces, use it in a variety of environments, shove a ton of lead downrange using it as my aiming point, and then give you my overall thoughts in a full-on review. But I’m going to do something different this time: start with my first impressions and issue an after-action follow-up later. So read on today and stay tuned for later.

Early testing included shooting at 50, 100, and 200 yards.

The rifle red dot field is crowded. Many legacy brands such as Leupold, Vortex, and others jumped on the bandwagon long ago and have been steadily improving their offerings over the years. A case could be made that Meprolight has been playing from behind this whole time, with a very narrow red dot selection that didn’t really compete at the same level. Until now.

At least that’s my initial impression. I’ve shot with the other brands, so I have something to compare to Meprolight’s latest version, and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

First, the specs, courtesy of Meprolight’s website:

  • Weight: < 285 gr.
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): < 73 x 56 x 68 mm
  • Display Window Dimensions: 25 x 20 mm
  • Aiming point diameter: 2.0 MOA
  • Reticle Pattern: Dot
  • Reticle Color: Red
  • Click Size: 0.5 MOA (0.14 mRad)
  • Brightness levels: 12 Day + 4 Night + Automatic Adjustment
  • Power Supply: 1x CR123 Battery
  • Weapon Mount: Picatinny Rail Quick release (Mil-STD 1913)
  • Environmental: MIL-STD-810


As I mentioned above, the optic came to me a couple of weeks ago, so I haven’t had much time to play with it. When it arrived, I did my usual unboxing ceremony to get first impressions of the customer presentation. I work in marketing at my day job, so I always pay attention to a product’s initial impression to the consumer.

What caught my attention the most about the Tru-Vision’s packaging wasn’t so much the box, although that was very nice and clean, but how Meprolight placed the optic on a tiny pedestal of Picatinny rail like it would soon be mounted on a rifle. It was also sheathed in a microfiber shroud that not only protected it during shipping but can prevent scratches moving forward. Not being a big fan of carrying extra stuff, however, I took the shroud off and tossed it back into the box, likely to never be seen again. But that’s just me. If you like that sort of thing, it’s a nice cover.

Mounting the Tru-Vision took all of five whole seconds, thanks to the Picatinny Rail Quick release (Mil-STD 1913). Knowing I would add a magnifier behind it, I mounted the red dot a bit forward of the chamber, a perfect distance for maximum eye relief both with and without the magnifier behind. Weighing in at less than 285 grams or around 10 ounces, the optic barely added any significant heft to the AR.

Meprolight Tru-Vision red dot with Holosun magnifier
The Meprolight Tru-Vision plays well with any brand of magnifier. In this case, a Holosun 3x.

The optic came with a Lithium 123 battery already installed, so I held the up arrow button and the red dot lit up the window. Next, I fiddled with the up and down arrows, adjusting the dot brightness from impractically blinding down to barely visible. The buttons were easy to use and big enough to easily accommodate my fat digits. That’s when I noticed the pentagonal NV button. Yep, the Tru-Vision works with night vision. Alas, I don’t own any night vision gear, but it’s nice to know the function is built in. In addition to manual brightness settings, the optic also features an automatic brightness control system that enables clear visibility of the red dot in any lighting condition.

Meprolight Tru-Vision, Holosun magnifier, and 30 rounds of .223.
The full set-up: AR-15, Meprolight Tru-Vision, Holosun magnifier, and 30 rounds of .223.

The non-reflective window is gigantic by rifle optic standards at 25 x 20 mm, making aiming with both eyes open easy and clear. The window glass is smooth and even, with no parallax around the edges.

The advertised battery life is ridiculously good, with up to two years claimed on the full automatic setting, which includes sleep mode, auto shut off, and shake up/wake up when it’s time to shoot again.

Zeroing & Shooting

Since no optic is ever zeroed from the factory and I needed a long-distance outdoor range, I reached out to a friend who has a makeshift setup on his farm. When we got there, he had thoughtfully set up targets at 50, 100, and 200 yards. Since I don’t typically shoot my AR farther than that (yes, I know it can be done—I’ve done it—but it’s not common), I settled on zeroing to the 100-yard mark, a common range for an AR point-of-aim/point-of-impact crossing distance.

All seemed in order until I pulled the rifle out of the bag and noticed the Tru-Vision’s battery cover had unscrewed itself. Thankfully, it’s held on by a small tether, so I didn’t have to hunt for it, but it was a bit annoying to have to reseat the battery and screw it back on. This was all before I had fired a shot, so it made me wonder if it would back itself out under recoil. I got it all put back together, turned on the optic, and settled the rifle into the bag rest.

100 yard target using Meprolight Tru-Vision red dot on AR-15
It took only a handful of shots to zero at 100 yards.

The view through the spotting scope revealed the first shot poked a hole in the target at the 7 o’clock position, about seven inches low and left. Each click on the Tru-Vision is .5 MOA, so I cranked it up and right three clicks each. Thanks to generous adjustment screws, moving the dot was super easy with the flathead screwdriver from my multi-tool. Each click was also tactile and audible, assuring me of the changes. Did my adjustment work? Well, the second shot landed on the 9 o’clock edge of the bullseye, close enough for my needs. It was zeroed in my book.

Next, I flipped the Holosun 3x magnifier up behind the Meprolight Tru-Vision to see if it needed any adjustment. My third and fourth shots struck 5 o’clock and 3 o’clock, respectively, showing no need for changes.

 night vision compatibility button
Yes, that’s a night vision compatibility button.
red dot on AR-15
Adjustments are easy with big screws and big buttons.

Satisfied the dot was as zeroed as I needed, I spent the next several minutes poking holes at 50 and 200 yards to see what sort of holdover was required. Much to my surprise, the shots went exactly where the dot was aimed at both distances. The normal holdovers didn’t seem to apply.

Initial Findings

My first impression of the Meprolight Tru-Vision is that it is an easy-to-use, solid rifle red dot that gives other contenders in the space a real run for the money. Speaking of money, it sells for $479.99.

A few things I haven’t tested yet but will for my full review are true battery life, ruggedness, how well it holds the zero, and whether it handles weather. Stay tuned for reports on those items and more in my later review.

One more thing: remember the battery cover issue from earlier? Apparently, it was a fluke, as it held tight the rest of the day.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Room Brooms: The Top 5 SMGs in Movies

A while back, we talked about the best boomsticks in film, and today, we are going to take a look at the best room brooms in film. Room brooms are what I’m calling submachine guns. Submachine guns are pistol-caliber weapons designed for close-range combat. They really came to be during World War 1 when warfare was constrained to trenches.

In these cases, the room broom was a trench broom. Over time they developed more into close-quarters combat weapons and have slipped into a bit of a niche these days. However, over the years, Hollywood has given us some seriously awesome movies featuring some seriously awesome room brooms, and we’ve gathered the top five.

1. Road to Perdition — The Thompson

The Thompson isn’t the first of the room brooms, but it’s pretty close. It’s certainly one of the OGs of the SMG design. It was used by Marines in the Banana Wars, gangsters at home, and by the military as a whole during World War 2. In “Road to Perdition,” we follow Tom Hanks as Michael Sullivan, a mobster’s enforcer, and his favorite long gun is the Thompson SMG.

The Thompson is a legendary SMG, and it serves our hero well. (Photo: Dreamworks Pictures)

Specifically the more expensive and fanciful M1921 Thompson. This gun is complete with the gangster grip, the cooling fins, and finely made wooden furniture. Sullivan wears a Cutt’s Compensator, and he tends to prefer the fifty-round drums over the stick magazines. He carries it in a very nice case as well.

He’s a master of the gun and mows down entire groups of bad guys when necessary. He doesn’t seem to aim much, and short controlled bursts aren’t his skill, but he makes music with room brooms.

2. The Dogs of War — The Uzi

“The Dogs of War” is a good film but an amazing novel. Read the novel and watch the film. In the film, Christopher Walken leads a mercenary group in an attempted coup in Africa. “The Dogs of War” is a manual for mercenaries, and it features a number of weapons, including a gas gun posing as an early multiple grenade launcher.

The Dogs of War, Christopher Walket with Uzi
Uzis and Christopher Walken….what could be cooler? (Photo: United Artists)

That’s not the gun we are talking about, we are talking about room brooms, and Christopher Walken carries a full-sized Uzi. Walken’s Uzi also wears a Sionics suppressor which was a premier option for 1980 and would make the gun quite quiet if combined with subsonic 9mm ammo.

His Uzi also wears a Starlight scope which was high speed for the era. It was an early night vision optic, and a suppressed, optically enhanced Uzi would be quite high speed for the era. It would certainly work for commandos on an operation to take down sentries silently and launch their attack.

3. Big Trouble In Little China — TEC-9

Remember what Jack Burton always says…. Well, he says a lot of things. Arguably he’s the perfect example of talk is cheap, and that’s why you should do it often. I love Jack Burton and the film “Big Trouble in Little China.” It’s an over-the-top, crazy movie that would never get made today.

TEC-9 in Big Trouble in Little China
The TEC-9 fits our bumbling hero well. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Out loud mouth ‘hero’ is in a magical world of demons, monsters, and wizards wielding both his mouth and a TEC-9 at the same rate and volume. He often shoots, wildly missing, and proves himself largely ineffective. He might not be smart or good at much, but he tries, and we love him for it.

The same could be said about the TEC-9. This blowback-operated gun came from the mind of George Kellgren, who was an early adopter of polymer frames. They were notoriously hated by the anti-gun lobby and not super useful for much more than plinking. The gun is a handful, and as the owner of a semi-auto version, I will tell you to stay away.

4. Cobra — Jatimatic SMG

“Cobra” is such a weird movie that it leaves me asking more questions than the film has answers for. Who is the Zombie Squad? Why does he cut pizza with scissors? Why is his first name Marion? Why do the bad guys bang axes? I can’t answer you there, but I can say that “Cobra” likes room brooms, specifically the Jatimatic SMG.

Sylvester Stallone in Cobra with Jatimatic SMG
This movie left me with a lot of questions…but I loved the SMG and laser sight. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Throughout the film, the character of Cobra faces off with a cult of axe-wielding psychos. Their mistake was bringing axes to a Jatimatic fight. The Jatimatic is a Finnish SMG developed in the early 1980s. It’s an open bolt blowback operated SMG with an odd bolt guide that has it going up a seven-degree inclined plane. This supposedly reduced recoil and enhanced control.

As far as room brooms go, it’s pretty unique and not something you see every day. It stands out and looks cool, and looking cool is half the battle. Cobretti tossed a huge laser sight on the top from a little company called Laser Products Corp, which went on to be Surefire. Also, the shoulder rig Cobretti has for the Jatimatic is top-tier awesome.

5. Die Hard — MP5

Yippie kai yay, and you know the rest. Bruce Willis had a bad day in one of the best Christmas movies of all time. This movie is full of legendary weapons from the late 1980s and early 1990s. We got the Beretta 92, the HK P7M13, and of course, the MP5. Well, to be fair, it’s an HK 94 that was chopped and converted to full auto.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard with MP5
I think Die Hard is for sure the reason why the MP5 was ever so famous. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

The end result is an MP5A3 wannabe with the collapsing stock and all. It does admittedly lack the lugs, But we can still love it. At this time period, the MP5 was the premier SMG, and in the hands of the high-tech terrorists led by Hans Gruber, it absolutely fits. Our hero commandeers one of these room brooms from a bad guy named Tony, and honestly, it’s the best Christmas gift he could have ever gotten.

Actually, McClane gets his hands on three different MP5s throughout the movie. One of the coolest scenes establishes McClane as the badass he is by writing, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.”

Rooms Brooms For All

Submachine guns work well in movies. They are bigger than handguns but smaller than rifles. The stock is almost always optional, and the smaller a gun is, the easier it is to fit on camera with the hero present. Add in the easy availability of 9mm blanks and the crazy muzzle flash, and it makes sense that they pop up so often in films.

What’s your favorite appearance? Share with us below!

CategoriesGun Reviews

Guns of Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Love and Hate

There might not be any cooler date night movie than “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (well, in what might be considered RomCom, anyway). Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship understands the thin line between love and hate that occasionally surfaces, and in this movie, we end up with two hitmen facing off. They just happen to also be married.

So, what guns do they use? Pretty much everything under the sun. Here are a few of our favorite firearms appearances in the movie.

Sometimes even hitmen wear eye pro, apparently. (Photo credit: Vulture)

Beretta 92FS

Although there are really too many firefights to count in this movie, there’s one in particular that stands out. We’re talking about the moment after the two main characters decide to join forces rather than kill one another. Thanks to their alliance, hits have been put out on both of them by their own agencies, and this results in a dramatic battle in a KostMart. In the fight in question, a lot of guns are shown, but there’s a Beretta 92FS in Mrs. Smith’s hands that’s pretty awesome.

beretta 92fs
Mrs. Smith, played by Angelina Jolie, dual-wields a pair of Beretta 92FSs that have been converted to full-auto. (Photo credit:

The 92FS is a gun Beretta bills as the “world’s most reliable pistol.” It’s a double-action/single-action gun chambered in 9mm with a capacity of either 10 or 15 rounds, depending on the magazine. Yes, Mrs. Smith’s guns held more, and they were also apparently converted to be full-auto capable (because of course they were). This is a full-time gun with a 4.9-inch barrel and an overall length of 8.5 inches, meaning it has some heft to it. There’s even a stainless steel version.

Smith & Wesson Model 442 Airweight Centennial

brad pitt and angelina jolie
Mr. Smith aims an S&W snubby revolver while Mrs. Smith enjoys having the bigger gun. (Photo credit:

Yes, a snub-nosed revolver found its way into a movie about a bunch of hitmen. The Smith & Wesson 442 Airweight Centennial was pulled out of a toy train box by Mr. Smith, who then attempts to hand it off to Mrs. Smith. Irritated at being handed a “girl gun,” Mrs. Smith gets her husband to trade with her, leaving her with a Heckler and Koch USP Elite. As for the snubby, it remained in Mr. Smith’s hands as they exited their home’s basement under the expected hail of bullets.

If you’ve shot the Airweight you’re familiar with its snappy felt recoil and muzzle rise. It’s a J-Frame pistol chambered in 38 Special, although it is +P rated, with a five-round capacity. The gun weighs a scant 14.7 ounces, empty, and has an enclosed hammer. Perhaps not an incredibly likely gun for a hitman, but it was tiny enough to fit in the toy train box it was pulled from during the movie. It does make sense as a Get Out of The House gun.

Fab Arm SDASS Martial UltraShort

angelina jolie with a shotgun
The UltraShort shotgun from Fab Arms is a 12 gauge with serious tactical leanings. This shotgun makes an appearance early in the movie after Mrs. Smith figures out who Mr. Smith really is. (Photo credit:

A modified Fab Arm SDASS Martial UltraShort shows up in the movie during the 1st significant firefight. It’s a 12 gauge shotgun, sure, but it has a 14-inch barrel. The manufacturer makes this one for law enforcement. In the movie, Mrs. Smith uses it to fire some furious shots when she and Mr. Smith initially confront one another about their not-so-secret assassin identities. Turns out shotguns can make big holes in walls (okay, so we knew that).

This shotgun has a six-round capacity, a pistol grip, and a cooling barrel shroud. It’s certainly portable, which makes it a decent option for a hitman. Who cares if the recoil is a bit much or if it’s difficult to aim? When you’re blowing holes in drywall, subtlety and precision no longer come into play. Whatever the case, this looks like a fun gun to shoot, and we applaud Mrs. Smith for breaching walls and pieces of furniture properly, with a 12 gauge shotty.

Browning M2HB

Browning M2HB in corner
A machine gun casually leaning against a wall? Why not? (Photo credit:

This gun wasn’t actually fired in the movie, it’s more like a sort of gun-related movie Easter egg. When everything hits the fan and Mr. and Mrs. Smith realize they’re both hitmen/assassins/whatever, Mr. Smith eventually escapes to a friend’s house where he looks for weapons. In the corner of the room, there’s a Browning M2HB just sitting there. Even better is the fact this friend is another assassin, and he lives with his mom.

Some movie reviewers have asked why on Earth you’d want a 50-caliber machine gun just sitting there, but we ask, why not? You know you would if you could.

The Ma Deuce is an awesome machine gun, one most of us wish we could own. Not only is it chambered in 50 BMG but it has a cyclic rate of 450 to 600 rounds per minute. Think of the feral hogs you could take out with this thing. Imagine the coyotes. You could even cut down trees if you were so inclined. This was an awesome inclusion in the movie. We’re just sad they didn’t use it.

R-47 Widowmaker (Sort Of)

rocket launcher brad pitt
Mr. Smith utilizes an extremely cool-looking R-47 Widowmaker to obliterate Mrs. Smith’s hiding place. Granted, the weapon doesn’t exist, but it’s still cool. (Photo credit:

Not gonna lie, we wish this one was real. A rocket launcher of sorts dubbed the R-47 Widowmaker is used by Mr. Smith against Mrs. Smith after she shoots him in the chest. She didn’t miss, he was just wearing a bulletproof vest that was apparently rated for the caliber of her weapon. In fact, he doesn’t really seem phased at all. The rocket launcher in question gets used to blow apart Mrs. Smith’s hiding place and we have to admit this is one impressive, admittedly fake, weapon.

Technically, the R-47 is a totally made-on-set weapon, but you might notice it bears some similarities to the M136 AT4. The studio said they didn’t use an AT4 in the design of this fake rocket launcher, though, so who knows? There’s an AN/PVS-4  night vis scope on it, though.

As for the rocket launcher, its diameter is extreme, which makes it both wholly unrealistic and absolutely perfect. These are the kinds of weapons we like to see appearing in movies. If it was real, it’d be on our wish list.

What was your favorite firefight in Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Tell us in the comments section.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Revolution — Red Dawn The Game

I never played the original Homefront, but I’m vaguely familiar with it. I remember hearing it was a mediocre game. That bummed me out because I love the idea of a game where America gets invaded, and you get to be a guerilla fighter. Why we never got a Red Dawn game is beyond me. I did play Homefront Revolution for about two hours when it first came out, and it was a giant buggy mess. However, six years later, I decided to give it another go, and I’m glad I did.

The bugs and frame rate issues are seemingly fixed, and we get a first-person shooter that puts us in the role of a guerilla fighter in an alternative history of 2029. In this world, North Korea is a dominant force and a major superpower. America fell into debt and defaulted, causing an invasion by North Korea and its advanced military force. You are a guerilla in Philadelphia getting a modern take on the revolutionary war.

Those night sights glow quite brightly.

You’re part of a small band of rebels who resist the North Korean occupation. The story is mostly skippable and unremarkable. We get a handful of characters, and all but two are somewhat forgettable. The bad guys are just the North Korean troops and officers, no real nameable villains. Most story elements revolve around giving you an excuse to get in firefights and blow stuff up. I’m perfectly fine with that because it wasn’t the story that captured me; it was the world of the game.

America Under Siege

Homefront Revolution is an open-world sandbox-style game. It’s not exactly a huge sprawling world, but a combination of different zones that are all fairly small and compact. They are dense areas, though, that never feel small, but they aren’t big wastelands of nothing. There is seemingly always something going on and something always to be aware of. There is also verticality, and climbing up and around buildings can be a legit way to get around.

Each of these worlds is either a green, red, or yellow zone. Red zones are open battlefields and bombed-out portions of Philly. Here you’ll run into patrols, tanks, and roaming airships you have to avoid. You’ll find snipers waiting for you to make the wrong move, and you’ll see other resistance members engaging in open warfare.

homefront revolution sniper
When you face down a sniper with a pistol you need to be sneaky.

Yellow zones are civilian ghettoes where there are patrols, drones, and various light armored vehicles roam around. Here you can run into regular people alongside soldiers. The soldiers are always looking for you, and as a wanted resistance member, you have to keep your head down.

Green zones are the North Korean strongholds where the upper crust of North Koreans live, as well as diplomats and American traitors. It’s heavily patrolled by NK forces, complete with soldiers, tanks, drones, and more. Starting a fight here is tough, and stealth is your friend.

The Minimanual of the Guerilla

I will say each zone is unique and interesting. The red zones make you feel like you are in a bombed-out city. Buildings are crumbling, and you can scale and parkour your way around. You can get in street-to-street gunfights. You might need to pin down a sniper so you can cross the street to take them down. In the beginning, you might only be doing that with your handgun, and that’s thrilling.

The weather effects are fantastic. In the game, the sun had set, and a raging thunderstorm moved in. Rain and lighting were pounding the environment, and the light from trash fires set the mood as I crept through the wrecked urban sprawl.

homefront revolution environmnet
The creators really captured the environment of a blowout city.

A patrol walked the streets, and I crept into the third story of a building where a barrel trap sat. I released the barrels on the patrols and opened fire with a light machine gun. I killed three troops and a couple of drones. The mothership moved in, and I had to hit and run before I it found me and turned me into a pink mist.

In the yellow zone, you’ll run into people being harassed and homes being raided. You can choose to provide aid or avoid it altogether. When civilians see your weapons, they’ll scurry away or even straight up tell you to leave because the Resistance just causes trouble for them.

loading screen
Is that a Magpul AFG I see?

As you spend more time in the zone accomplishing objectives and missions, you’ll win the hearts and minds of the people. They will then rebel and begin fighting back, and the patrols will lessen significantly. That’s the world the game builds, and it’s fantastic.

The Guns

The Homefront Revolution guns are a mixture of fictional and real. What’s neat is that while there are only a few guns in the game, the game allows you to upgrade them to various configurations. You can swap your M4 assault rifle to an LMG configuration by swapping the upper receiver. You literally just pop the upper off and toss on the belt-fed upper. This changes the caliber to 7.62 NATO as well. Or you can turn it into a grenade launcher.

Your handgun allows you to rip the slide off of your gun and then toss on an SMG upper and stock, almost like a RONI or KPOS conversion. The pistol is some odd configuration of 1911, M9, and maybe P226, but it looks real. The shotgun is a Mossberg 590/500 series that can be converted to a Sidewinder-style drum-fed automatic shotgun or the Inferno launcher.

The SOCOM 16 is your battle rifle, which can become a sniper rifle in .50 BMG or into the Freedom Launcher that launches fireworks at bad guys. There is also a Crossbow that can transform into an awesome blunderbuss or a flamethrower as well. It’s a neat system overall.

video game gun upgrade shop
You can outfit your guns with various accessories.

On top of these swaps, you can add optics, vertical grips, lasers, and a few more gizmos to make your gun work for you. You can also wear gear that affects your weaponry, like a tactical vest, to carry more ammo.

Homefront Revolution — An Underrated Classic

When the game was released, it got terrible reviews, mostly tied to its technical issues. All these years later, those issues seem resolved. It’s a fun game that makes you feel like a guerilla. Your armament is interesting, and the game environment provides a unique experience. Homefront Revolution is a great first-person shooter, and I look forward to playing the three DLCs that came with it.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Cleaning Rope vs. Universal Gun Cleaning Kit

When it comes to keeping your firearm clean, you do not need a kitchen sink’s worth of tools and chemicals. A universal gun cleaning kit, a cased set with jags, brushes, and rods for different calibers, might be the ultimate setup if you have a number of different firearms. But they can be expensive and full of items you may not use. A good bronze brush, cotton patches, and appropriate oils and solvents can solve just about any cleaning task. Perhaps the most important step to proper cleaning is getting down the bore. For this, there are usually two options: a cleaning rope or a cleaning rod. Both have advantages and disadvantages, yet both are worth having.

The Cleaning Rod

It is easy to get out of control with cleaning accessories. This set will clean muzzleloaders from .32 to .75 caliber. But I only own a .54!

When it comes to a universal gun cleaning kit, you are going to get a few different cleaning rods. The cleaning rod is just that—a rod that you use for cleaning that is shoved down the bore. Specifically, they are typically made of soft brass or aluminum. Some, like the Tipton, are made of carbon fiber. Some are single pieces while others are threaded sections fastened together to the desired length. Both are female threaded for male cleaning accessories such as bore mops, bore brushes, and jags.

A few passes with a bore mop or bore brush dipped in solvent can dislodge hard fouling like lead and copper buildup. After which, you can fit the rod with the jag. The jag will hold a solvent-dipped or dry patch that you can run through the bore to finish the cleanup. You know you have a clean bore when your patches come out light grey or white. A follow-up using a lightly oiled patch finishes the cleaning job and helps to insulate the barrel from rust.

A brass cleaning rod laid next to brushes and jags, from gun cleaning kit
A brass cleaning rod set with an accompanying handle, brushes, and jags. This compact setup comes out of a caliber-specific gun cleaning kit. Multiple rods for multiple long gun calibers found in some universal kits can be tricky to store.


  • Fast when assembled. While not as quick to use as a cleaning rope, when the cleaning rod is assembled and threaded to a brush or jag, it is a uniquely stable platform that can make quick work of stubborn fouling. A brush or patched jag can be run at both the muzzle and breech end for double the passes.
  • Easy to check your progress. Because you have to change cleaning patches as you go, you can determine just how much cleaning remains.


  • Bulky. A disassembled rod and accouterments will take up more space, particularly if you need one to clean a full-length rifle or shotgun.
  • May damage some bores. Some shooters will not use a cleaning rod for fear that the rod will rub and damage the rifling of the bore. Others will not use soft aluminum rods because aluminum corrodes like steel rusts and the aluminum oxide, an ingredient in sandpaper, might sand the bore. Some play it safe by using softer, rustproof brass rods. Truthfully, you are probably more likely to shoot out a barrel than damage it with a rod. I have never incurred such damage. On the other hand, damage is a bit more likely if you run a benchrest gun that gets more cleaning in a month than what an ordinary hunting rifle might get in ten years.

The Cleaning Rope

A Hoppe's Boresnake cleaning rope run through the muzzle of a NAA Mini Revolver.
A cleaning rope, like this Hoppe’s No. 9 BoreSnake, takes up very little room but you are limited to bore cleaning only.

A cleaning rope can go by many different names, but Hoppe’s BoreSnake is the original and the name has been used to describe similar products. A typical cleaning rope is a few inches longer than a given barrel length and has large and small ends. The large end is the cleaning surface. The small end is usually weighted to easily drop down the bore. After applying solvent or oil to the large end, funnel the small end down the bore to the other end. When the small end comes out, grab it and pull the rope through the bore. Repeat as desired.

Some cleaning ropes will substitute a large woven end for a threaded end to use with brushes and jags like a cleaning rod. Avid’s Bore Boss has a bronze bore brush on top of the large mop end. The original BoreSnake has a bore brush embedded inside the rope.


  • One step use. With a cleaning rope, all that is required to clean the bore is to run the weighted end down the bore and pull it out from the other side.
  • Ease of storage. Cleaning ropes can be rolled into a small bundle that makes them effortless to carry when you are on the go.


  • Must be laundered. Sooner or later, the cleaning rope will have to be cleaned as it acts like a bore brush combined with a long patch. The entire unit has to be laundered.
  • No shortcuts. Where a cleaning rod’s jag can be refitted for patches at both ends of the muzzle, you have to repeat threading the rope down bore for each pass.
  • Hard to read. When a white cleaning patch comes grey off a jab, it is easy to tell that you need to continue cleaning. Ropes are usually colored, which can hide how clean or unclean the bore is.

Where Both Meet

A small gun cleaning kit paired with a cleaning rope.
A gun cleaning kit with rods or a cleaning rope? Why not both?

If you have multiple firearms in different calibers, or you conceive the possibility that you might, it is probably worth the investment to buy a universal cleaning kit —even if you won’t use some of the rods, mops, and jags right away.

Cleaning ropes are minimalist by comparison. It is just a bristled rope and you can buy multiples for different calibers. It is an excellent way to clean the chamber and bore of your firearm and they are infinitely easier to store. I keep a 22 caliber BoreSnake in my range bag and hunting kit since most of my firearms have a .22-inch bore. If I am ever experiencing issues with a given gun, I have that rope as part of that kit. After a few passes, I can be back in action with a bore that is fairly clean.

For more detailed work, I prefer to use the rods and brushes I leave at home. You might have different prerogatives. I ran into more than a few outdoorsmen over the years that simply take a rope to the bore of their rifle without touching the action. That is fine for your average hunting rifle or shotgun, but not enough if you shoot revolvers and semi-auto pistols. A full disassembly is needed every once and a while; it is here that a kit with rods and brushes shines. On the other hand, it is hard to beat the field-expedient rope when you are on the go. For that reason, it is a good plan to get your hands on both.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Guns of 2010 Killers Movie: Armed and Humorous

When you think of great gun movies, you probably don’t immediately jump to the 2010 movie “Killers.” After all, it’s both a comedy and a somewhat unlikely cast for running guns (except for Tom Selleck). It stars Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, who play a newlywed couple where one of them tries and fails to conceal their past as a professional assassin.

In the 2010 movie Killers, Ashton Kutcher plays a former professional assassin who tries to hide his past from his new wife. (Photo credit:

Spoiler alert, the assassin was Kutcher. Anyway, the movie does include a nice selection of firepower, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. Here are our top five picks for guns of “Killers.”

Magnum Research Mark VII Desert Eagle

katherine heigl with desert eagle
Actress Katherine Heigl wields her main weapon in “Killers.” The Magnum Research Mark VII Desert Eagle in 50 AE is an interesting choice for a movie about an assassin. (Photo credit:

Although it might be a bit unlikely an assassin would stash a Desert Eagle for later use, that’s exactly what Ashton Kutcher’s character did in “Killers.” And when it became necessary, he handed it off to his wife, played by Katherine Heigl. The Magnum Research Mark VII Desert Eagle would be Heigl’s main weapon for the duration of the film. She used it about as well as expected given her character, and did things like accidentally dropping the magazine out of the gun during a particularly tense moment.

Is a massive handgun in 50 AE realistic for this? Maybe not, but it’s a movie.

The Mark VII Desert Eagle is, of course, chambered in what was most likely 50 AE. This model was the original 50 AE from the company and it wasn’t until they decided to change the components of the 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum guns that Magnum Research came up with the Mark XIX for 50 AE. It’s a gas-operated pistol with a 7 +1 capacity and some serious heft. It weighs around 72 ounces, empty, which does help mitigate felt recoil and muzzle rise. You have to admit it’s an intimidating-looking gun on the silver screen.

Glock 21

glock 21
Actor Ashton Kutcher’s main handgun in the movie was a Glock 21. The Glock 21 is a less surprising movie choice although the fact that it’s a 21 rather than a 17 is somewhat unique. (Photo credit: ammo for sale)

No movie is complete without a Glock, but most movies seem to tend toward including a G17, their popular 9mm model. In “Killers,” they instead chose the G21, which is chambered in 45 ACP. They might have given Heigl a bulky Desert Eagle as her main handgun, but Kutcher got a plastic fantastic Glock.

Throughout the movie, the G21 is used for everything from interrogation to car chases to the usual action of it being taken away by the bad guys and used against the good guys. Oh, and Kutcher uses it to threaten Heigl’s dad at the end (played by Tom Selleck).

The G21 is a full-sized pistol with a capacity of 13 +1. Because it’s a 45 ACP, it’s a little heavier when loaded, but even that’s only around 38 ounces (the Desert Eagle is far heavier). Glocks are understandably popular for their durability and price point, but they really do tend to shoot well, too. We’d be interested to hear what you think about the caliber choice for the movie, though.

Colt M4A1

M4A1 in the movie Killers
Yes, an assassin out to get former-assassin Ashton Kutcher uses a Colt M4A1 in the movie. Complete with a carry handle. (Photo credit:

Yes, apparently if an international assassin wants to take out a former assassin, they use out-of-date firearms. In this case, it’s the Colt M4A1, and while the AR platform itself is certainly not outdated, the M4A1 version is questionable. From its old-fashioned iron sights to its carry handle, this is not quite what you’d expect an assassin to use.

In the movie, the gun is wielded by actor Kevin Sussman who is attempting to carry out a hit on Kutcher so he can collect the money for it. Of course, he ultimately fails, and we like to think maybe it’s because he didn’t use a tricked-out modern version. Just saying.

We all know the M4 has been around for a while. It’s a full-auto capable gun used by the military, which is probably why it was chosen for the movie. The M4A1 variant was designed in the early 2000s and began seeing use by the United States Military in 2010. This is where we get into a classic versus modern (civilian, no-stamps, no-full-auto) platform debate. What do you guys think?

Heckler and Koch UMP45

The Heckler and Koch UMP45 makes an appearance when yet another assassin takes a shot at carrying out a hit against Kutcher. Dressed as a courier, the would-be killer leaps from a van wielding the UMP45. Does he succeed? No, and Kutcher takes his gun for later use. This is a relief because it’s always frustrating when perfectly good guns and ammo are ignored by the main characters.

Kutcher and Heigl in the aftermath of a firefight with their guns.
Kutcher and Heigl in the aftermath of a firefight with their guns. (Photo credit:

This is a submachine gun that went into production in 1999, meaning your average guy can’t own one, not even with a stamp. It was actually used by the 5th Special Forces Group against insurgents in Iraq but hasn’t seen extensive use. It’s a blowback-operated, mag-fed gun that has a cyclic rate of around 600 rounds per minute. It’s a fun gun, and we just wish we could get our hands on one (legally). There are other chamberings out there and even a semi-auto version in 9mm.

Benelli M4

Calling shotgun got tactical in “Killers,” and also showed how this particular shotgun is a dual-purpose weapon (or so Hollywood thinks). In one scene, Kutcher basically uses the Benelli M4 as a makeshift pull-up bar in a closet. Could it work? Yes. Would we want to hang our weight from a shotgun? Not particularly. What if we hurt it?

benelli m4
The Benelli M4 is a well-made shotgun that sees some serious tactical use in “Killers.” (Photo credit:

The Benelli M4 is, as you can see, a shotgun of tactical design. It’s a piston-driven, auto-regulating, gas-operated system that was first designed for the United States Marine Corp. So, of course, it’s a 12 gauge. It’s drilled and tapped for optics but does have a Picatinny rail atop the receiver and ships with irons. The gun has a 5-round capacity, an 18.5-inch barrel, and a 14 3/8-inch length of pull. Whether or not it’s to be trusted as a pull-up bar is on you.

What’s your favorite scene from “Killers”? Share it in the comments section.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Gungrave G.O.R.E. — A Flashback to the PS2

Gungrave. Why does that sound so familiar? I saw the advertisement for a game called Gungrave G.O.R.E. and was struck with an odd feeling of nostalgia. I couldn’t place it. It looks anime-like, and I know for sure I didn’t watch any anime. These days, all mysteries are solved by whipping out my old phone and typing it in. A YouTube video for a PS2 game called Gungrave hit me hard with nostalgia and woke up some lost memories of my youth.

Back in 2002, I played a game called Gungrave on my PS2. I had completely forgotten the game and had no idea there was a sequel. To be fair, this was the fourth entry in the series, and I honestly thought it ended after the first game. With that flashback and nostalgia in mind, I hit the download button on Xbox on Gungrave G.O.R.E.

That guy is having a really bad day. (RED Entertainment)

Gungrave G.O.R.E. offers neat character designs, huge bosses, and decent graphics. I played in the cel-shaded mode to give it a cartoonish pop to it. The graphics are overtly cartoonish, and that offers its own charm against the old ultra-violence of the game.

You play as a character named Beyond the Grave, or Grave for short. He’s a dead hitman revived to fight crime. He carries around a coffin on his back for reasons unexplained, and it also doubles as a melee weapon. On top of that, you also carry a set of akimbo pistols that each have two barrels, so you fire four shots with every trigger pull. It’s all about style and flare and not so much tactics and intelligence.

The Plot of Gungrave G.O.R.E.

I don’t like anime because of what I call “Stupid Anime Bullsh!t.” It’s cheesy characters, massive exposition dumps, poor storytelling, and oddly sexualized cartoons. With that in mind, I most certainly dislike the plot of Gungrave G.O.R.E. It’s a quasi-silent protagonist who is trying way too hard to be a brooding bad boy.

gungrave gore hero
Typical anime antagonist dresses like a weirdo and is silent and too serious. Check. (RED Entertainment)

He barely says anything, and all he needs is his two guns. Literally, that’s it. The game has you chasing a criminal organization called the Raven Clan, who is producing a drug called SEED. SEED users eventually turn into monsters, and you’ll fight plenty as you play. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you the story. You’re part of a team, but you seem to be the only one doing anything of note. You have an annoying narrator telling you the obvious as you play, and she gets annoying fast.

I don’t mind games with shallow plots. It is all about the gameplay, anyway. Just know that going into this game, you won’t find anything of note story-wise. The story is just a vessel to get you into different environments, killing people. You can certainly skip all the cut scenes, but if you do, you’ll miss some great translation errors.

The Gameplay

Here is the gameplay loop. You enter an environment composed of hallways, then you traverse forward, shooting everything that moves and most things that don’t. Your weapons in Gungrave G.O.R.E. are isolated to your pair of pistols and your coffin. You have a variety of techniques and combos you can employ with those weapons.

This includes some serious gun-fu, charged shots, the ability to take hostages, and a number of special abilities called demolition shots. You chew through hundreds of enemies throughout the game, blasting away with your guns in a symphony of gunfire and chaos. Your finger might get tired of pulling the controller’s trigger.

gungrave gore shooting
Two guns that fire four rounds with every trigger pull. (RED Entertainment)

I don’t understand how the Raven Clan can recruit so many people because by level three. I had to have killed thousands. The enemies vary from guys with guns and rocket launchers to guys with tire irons. Big ups to the tire iron guys rushing a man rapidly firing two pistols in their direction. There are a number of mutant bad guys and various shielded enemies. Certain enemies require you to use certain techniques to defeat them.

gungrave gore environment
The environment varies from dingy hallways to the jungles of Vietnam. (RED Entertainment)

Your level objective is literally “Kick their Ass,” and that’s it. Your real objective is to try to get a high ‘beat’ score and a high Art score. Beat score is you keeping up a combo and builds by shooting bad guys and the environment. Art score is built by using executions and Demolition shots. You get graded for both at the end of the level.

The real fun comes from trying to get your Beat score as high as possible, and you can get it up to the thousands of beats with proper planning.

Is it fun?

That’s the magic question. I guess it’s okay. Honestly, I got a little bored midway through and was just hoping to finish levels. The enemies are repetitive, and the bosses never felt super difficult, either. If I had paid $50 for it, I’d have been disappointed, but I didn’t, so here we are. Learning how to mix the beat and art score on top of not dying can be a thrill, but it’s repetitive to a degree.

Not to mention the environments are super tight, and there is no room for exploration. It’s just a run to the finish line.

The Guns

The fictional pistols are the only guns present. I went to the Gungrave G.O.R.E. Wiki and looked up the stats on these bad boys. They are called the Cerberus…which makes no sense since Cerberus had three heads and these guns have four barrels. They fire two 15mm bullets per trigger pull, so they aren’t slouching in the power department.

gungrave gore bad guys
You’ll be swarmed with bad guys at every level. (RED Entertainment)

If you beat the game, you can unlock the Evo Cerberus and Golden guns, which handle differently. The Golden guns shoot much faster, and the Evo Cerberus deals a lot more damage. That’s it for the guns, and don’t expect anything realistic.

Getting Gorey

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is an okay game. Maybe if I was a die-hard anime fan, I’d be more into it, but I found it to drag on. I wished the levels were over about midway through, and I trudged through the game to get it done. It’s just not for me. It’s a mindless shooter that can be fun if you’re into that, but it’s not for me.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The .22 LR For Defense: Can It Hold Its Own?

Why would anyone choose to defend themselves with the .22 Long Rifle? Surely, there are other choices that would be far better. Let’s take a look at why we might decide to rely on the .22 LR to defend life and limb.

There are those who will laugh at the idea of using a .22 for defensive reasons. Those same people were likely never shot with one.

A 9mm round next to a .22 Long Rifle round. Quite a size difference!

The .22 Long Rifle needs little introduction, having a long and storied history in American shooting lore. It dates back to the late 1880s. A high percentage of shooters have started shooting with the .22 LR because of the advantages that it offers. Namely, low recoil, muzzle blast, and noise. It’s probably a fair statement to say that the .22 LR is one of the most popular calibers in the United States, given the recent shortages of the .22, and the rate at which people were madly emptying it off the shelves.


.22 LR ammunition is inexpensive. Because of the lower cost of the ammunition, shooters can store away a goodly supply for a rainy day. As well, .22 LR firearms are generally less expensive than those that come in larger calibers. The low muzzle blast, noise, and recoil make it easy to control by both beginners and advanced shooters. Firearms in this caliber are typically light and easy to handle.

If you’re venturing out into the wilds, you can tote along a nice supply of .22 LR ammo in a pack; a brick of 500 rounds is not out of the question, as it doesn’t weigh very much.


Below are some velocities that were listed by manufacturers to give you a general idea of what the .22 LR is capable of. Keep in mind that these are likely taken from rifle-length barrels, which will be different than short pistol barrel velocities.

  • CCI Stinger: 32 grains—1,640 feet per second.
  • CCI Mini-Mag: 36 grains—1,260 feet per second.
  • CCI Velocitor: 40 grains—1,435 feet per second.
  • Remington Golden Bullet: 40 grains—1,255 feet per second.
  • Remington Thunderbolt: 40 grains—1,255 feet per second.
  • Federal “Punch” Personal Defense: 29 grains – 1,070 feet per second.
  • Winchester “Silvertip” Hollow point: 37 grains – 1,070 feet per second.

Federal has even come out with a specific load for the .22 LR, their Personal Defense “Punch” ammunition. It features a nickel-plated lead core bullet. It’s a flat-nosed bullet intended to penetrate sufficiently with short-barreled handguns. Federal states that it achieves 1,070 through a two-inch handgun barrel, and 1,650 from a 24-inch rifle barrel. This is something to take notice of when a manufacturer specifically makes rounds geared toward defense for the .22 LR.

Federal Personal Defense .22 caliber.
Federal’s Personal Defense Punch ammunition is specially made for defensive use in .22 LR pistols. (Photo: Federal)

Winchester also has a defensive load: the Silvertip hollow point in .22 LR that is designed to break up into four pieces upon impact. Their quoted velocity for this 37-grain slug is 1,070 from a two-inch barrel.

I have some thoughts on a bullet designed to break up (mind you, I’ve not tested the Silvertip, nor heard reports about its effectiveness), especially in a small caliber such as the .22 LR. It’s already very small. I’m not sure that having it break up even more is such a great idea. I’d personally feel more comfortable having a .22 LR round that holds together in one piece and penetrates deeply so that it reaches vital organs. That’s just me.

On the other hand, having a couple of separate wound channels might be an advantage. I guess the jury will be out on this one (no pun intended) until reports of the round’s street effectiveness start rolling in.

Personally, I think it’s refreshing to see ammunition manufacturers making rounds specifically to enhance the .22 LR for defensive purposes. It also indicates that people want these products, or the ammo makers likely would not be making them. So a demand apparently exists.

Other Applications

Various military units have used the .22 LR, as far back as WWII. It can be suppressed to extremely quiet levels, which lends itself to a number of applications. And it’s not just the US that has used it; Israel and other countries have taken notice and employed the .22 LR. Israel used a suppressed version of the Ruger 10/22 to take out rioters by shooting them in the leg as a “less lethal” option (it turned out to be a bit more than “less lethal”, however, and was discontinued).

Militaries have been using the .22 LR in suppressed versions for sentry removal and removal of guard dogs for many decades. During the Vietnam war, suppressed .22 LR pistols (mostly the High Standard HDMS) were used, mostly by Special Forces and the CIA. From what I can gather, the OSS used the High Standard pistol and suppressor during WWII, as well.

In Northern Ireland during the 1970s, the British Army issued the Walther PP to their soldiers for self-defense when they were off duty.

Law enforcement has even been known to use it on occasion when they need a quiet round that won’t over-penetrate.


Given its long and storied military career, there can be little doubt that the .22 LR is lethal. Shot placement, naturally, has always been stressed as being paramount. Shot placement with any caliber is important, but even more so when we are talking about a tiny round such as the .22 LR.

I doubt that anyone knows exactly how many people have been planted due to the .22 LR, but one thing is for certain: It is a lot! Not necessarily because it is a super-lethal round. Rather, because the .22 LR has been around for so long and in such huge numbers.

Nevertheless, incidents abound where the .22 was used to defend the home successfully—especially .22 rifles, with their longer barrels and higher velocities.


Undeniably, the .22 LR allows people to practice a lot more than with any other caliber due to being the least expensive round out there at this time. I’ll be honest, I shoot my .38 revolver very sparingly because, at the time of this writing, FMJ ammo for it costs about $35 for a box of 50. It’s one of my handguns that gets shot very little and carried a lot more than it’s shot. I should practice more with it, but the reality is that I’m not made of money.

The .22 LR ammunition, however, costs a fraction of what the larger calibers do (and this has always been the case). This allows for far more practice with the “Mouse Gun.” There’s a lot to be said for someone who practices a great deal with a firearm. They will feel more confident with the gun and be a more effective shooter as opposed to using a gun that they are unfamiliar with and scared of.

Many years ago, I heard an account of an elderly woman who was living in South Africa. She had a .22 LR Colt Woodsman pistol that she shot very often and became extremely comfortable and skilled with. As fate would have it, a marauding band of would-be murderers descended upon her ranch one night and she had to use her .22 to defend herself. If my memory serves me correctly, she took out ten of the miscreants. Each one was found to be shot in the head. Think about it—a grandmother took out a large number of hostile attackers with headshots. At night. Could we all do as well as she did?

Evidently, the practice and low recoil of that pistol allowed her to feel at ease with using it. And use it she did!


This is possibly the best aspect of the caliber—there almost isn’t any recoil! Follow-up shots are lightning-fast. New shooters aren’t scared away. They can focus on learning accuracy and delivering fast shots, which equates to confidence. To be an effective shooter, that’s important.

Diminished Physical Capacity

Some people are not combat-trained or competition shooters who spend every waking moment training or reading up on guns.

For people who have physical infirmities that prevent them from working the slide on heavier calibers or even picking up heavier firearms, the .22 can provide a valued alternative. The recoil springs on most .22 caliber firearms are fairly light, allowing people who can’t operate the slide on, say, a 9mm to be able to do so on a .22 LR.

As we age, arthritis becomes more of an issue with many of us. Things like racking a heavy slide can cause pain. Recoil jolting our hands can also cause pain. You don’t see too many elderly folks at the shooting range firing Airweight revolvers with full-house .357 Magnum loads (to be fair, you don’t see many sane younger people doing that either).

The point is, the .22 LR is less punishing on our bodies than other calibers. For people with physical issues, that can be important.

And .22 LR rifles are even tamer to shoot, with nearly no recoil and less than moderate muzzle blast. Lots of shots can be delivered into very tight groups in a short span of time. A lot of rounds in a small area quickly can spell success for self-defense.

Good For Non-Gun People

Let’s face it, not everyone is a “gun person.” If you’re reading this article, you very well may be a gun person, or at least you’re interested in self-defense enough to read this article. Non-gun people are not going to appreciate such aspects of shooting as recoil and muzzle blast.

The fact that the .22 LR does not have a huge muzzle blast or recoil might make it the most attractive option for those who want to defend themselves with a firearm. Is the .22 LR optimal? Not really, but it gives a niche group of people an option.

Ruger 10/22 with spare magazines.
The Ruger 10/22 is a great choice for non-gun people to use for home defense. Ruger makes extended magazines that elevate the little carbine’s effectiveness.

My youngest daughter is not a gun person at all. I did, however, teach her how to use a Ruger 10/22 in the event there are invaders while no other family members are home. She is well-versed in how to operate it. I’d never ask her, at this point in time, to pick up an AR-15 because it would scare the living daylights out of her. But that 10/22, with its lack of recoil and minimal muzzle blast, is a realistic alternative.

Now for the best part: that 10/22 has a 25-round magazine in place, and there are a couple of other magazines handy nearby in case 25 shots are not enough. Realistically, though, it’s likely that 25 rounds will persuade a home invader to leave very quickly. And if he does not leave, that is a lot of potential holes in his body.

Increased Capacity

When revolvers are chambered for the .22 LR, they typically have more capacity than higher-caliber revolvers. Given that the bullets are smaller, having more of them offsets their low power, at least a little bit.


One of the defensive roles that the .22 LR handgun sometimes takes on is as a backup to a full-sized handgun. Being light and small makes them concealable and handy.

Penetration And Performance

As mentioned, the .22 LR is no powerhouse. Penetration seems to vary greatly. My friend, James Hebert, does ballistic testing, and he showed me some results that he’s experienced.

Bullets fired into ballistics gelatin.
CCI 40-grain Mini Mag through four layers of denim into 10% ballistic gelatin. Fired from an NAA Mini Revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel. (Photo: James Hebert)

A 40-grain CCI Mini Mag was fired into 10% ballistic gelatin from ten feet. The handgun was an NAA Sidewinder, fired from ten feet through four layers of denim. The penetration appeared to be around eight or so inches at the deepest. The slugs appeared to stay intact with little deformation.

When fired into 10% ballistic gelatin from a Marlin Papoose (16-inch barrel) from 25 yards using CCI Blaser 40-grain lead bullets through four layers of denim, penetration was 12-13 inches.

Bullets fired into gelatin.
These rounds were fired from a Marlin Papoose with a 16-inch barrel through four layers of denim into 10% ballistic gelatin. They penetrated 12-13 inches. (Photo: James Hebert)


Acknowledging the .22’s limitations, there are, in my opinion, enough pluses to outweigh the disadvantages.

Lightweight, small handguns can be very attractive for concealment. Ones that do so with very little muzzle blast and recoil make the package even more alluring. Even for people who are not into firearms, the .22 LR can allow them to become proficient enough to defend themselves.

Of course, the added velocity of a rifle-length barrel only adds to the effectiveness of the .22 LR.

No one is saying that the .22 LR is a miracle worker. However, it sure beats having nothing at all. In the right hands, it can get the job done if the shooter does their part.

The post The .22 LR For Defense: Can It Hold Its Own? appeared first on The Mag Life.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Breakthrough Clean Technologies .22 Cleaning Kit: An Evaluation

Whether you are a new gun owner or a veteran shooter, you can’t overlook a good cleaning kit. A universal cleaning kit with jags and brushes to clean firearms in different calibers might be the ultimate if you have a healthy collection of firearms. But sometimes a well-rounded caliber-specific kit is appropriate. Breakthrough Clean Technologies sells a number of these kits from 22-45 caliber in for both rifles and pistols. I own more 22 caliber rifles and pistols than anything else and I clean them all with a full-sized rifle rod. So, I got the Breakthrough’s Vision Series 22 caliber handgun cleaning kit to dedicate to my pistols.

Although you may want to add additional pieces, Breakthrough’s kit is more than complete for most needs and is ready to use out of the box.

The BCT .22 Cleaning Kit

The kit comes in a lockable plastic case and includes a plastic palm handle, two threaded brass rods, a bore mop, a bore brush, and two cleaning jags. In addition, it includes Breakthrough’s proprietary oil, military-grade solvent, and twenty synthetic patches.

Breakthrough Clean Technologies 22 kit opened on a table.
The kit includes all that you will need for initial cleaning, but an additional bronze cleaning brush would add a bit more flexibility.

There are plenty of inexpensive kits out there and they are often lacking in some way to keep down the costs. Some don’t include small amounts of oil, solvents, or patches to get you started. Others use threaded plastic handles that loosen up over time or plastic jags that become brittle and break when using the solvents and brisk motions you would expect during a cleaning session.

Breakthrough gives you enough cleaning supplies to get through a few cleaning sessions before you replenish them, and they did not skimp on the actual kit itself. The plastic handle has a brass threaded portion inlet into the handle and the included jags are all brass. One jag is the traditional eyelet type that allows you to scrub the inside of the bore and chambers of your pistol, while the other is a compression-fit jag that is excellent for pushing lead and copper fouling off the rifling and into the patch.

A range rod, handle, and jags lined up on a table.
The kit itself is bog standard but is thankfully all metal in construction!

The brass rod is fairly standard equipment, as it is soft enough to prevent wear on the bore as it goes to work. When threaded and attached to the jag, it can clean up to an 8 1/2-inch barrel—more than enough length for most handgun barrels. The brush uses synthetic bristles instead of the usual bronze brush you will find in most kits. Some have stated concerns with bronze brushes wearing out the rifling of the barrel, but this is unfounded. In any case, a synthetic brush is tough enough for fouling.

Oil and solvent bottles lined on a table alongside a packet of patches.
The oil and solvent could be replaced with any alternative once you run out, but Breakthrough’s option not only works, but it also does not smell!

In Use

After a few hundred rounds through my Ruger Wrangler Birdshead, it was starting to get sticky to operate. I disassembled the revolver and laid out the Breakthrough kit to try it for the first time. I am used to dipping patches and brushes into a solvent, but the included solvent is in a spray bottle. I was able to hose down the problem areas, particularly around the revolver cylinder, its chambers, and down the bore.

For a quick through with the brush, the eye-lit jag was easy to feed patches and I used it to clean the cylinder chambers while I used the compression jag in the bore. Slivers of leading came out on the first patch. Although I still prefer a bronze brush, the synthetic brush and solvent solution had done their job well. With a few more passes using clean patches, I was finished with the bore. I repeated the same process with the cylinder of my revolver and was able to get it clean in short order.

The author squeezes a bottle of oil against a cylinder pin of a revolver.
I usually opt for an oiled rag, but the needle bottle is less wasteful and targets exactly where you need lubrication.

After giving the revolver a wipe-down with solvent, I followed up with oil. It comes in a bottle with a needled point, allowing me to apply just a few drops at a time on the moving parts. A lightly oiled patch down the bore and chambers, as well as a quick oil wipe-down, finished the operation in all of ten minutes.

And perhaps the best part of all is that Breakthrough’s oil and solvent do not stink! But don’t worry, you can always stock up on Hoppes No. 9 when you run out. Likewise, the synthetic patches that Breakthrough supplies do not shed fibers while you are working with them. I prefer cotton patches for this reason and generally stay away from synthetic patches, but these left nothing of themselves behind.

A Few Things to Add

The Breakthrough Vision Handgun kit is an excellent buy that will outlast some of the others on the market, but there are a few additions you might want to look into to make your kit complete.

For those occasions where you will need a screwdriver to take off grips and adjust sights, a dedicated screwdriver/punch set is recommended. Breakthrough does not provide one with this kit, but it is a worthwhile trade-off to get cleaning supplies you will certainly use instead of a screwdriver that you may not need for a modern pistol. Still, a good screwdriver set is good to have for the abovementioned tasks. A screwdriver is often included in some small kits, but they tend to be ill-fitted to machine screws and take up space in lieu of cleaning supplies. A universal cleaning kit will often come with a screwdriver and a good set of bits, but you are also stuck with the space and expense of having caliber-specific accessories you may not need.

The only change I would make to the Breakthrough kit is the inclusion of a small bronze brush. I use a larger one to break up stubborn fouling baked onto surfaces like revolver cylinder faces and feeding ramps. I would prefer a pocket version over the redundant cotton bore mop that serves the same function as a jag. I could have made good use of an included brush to scrub the cylinder face and inside the cylinder frame to get at tough fouling that the bore brush is ill-suited to reach. Such a brush would also be handy for cleaning around the muzzle and along the rails of an autoloading pistol. But this is a relatively minor gripe. A small bronze brush is inexpensive enough to purchase and a hard-bristled toothbrush can be a good substitute. But all in all, the core of the kit is built to last and the included cleaning supplies are easy to use and effective. For most of us, a Breakthrough Kit with a bronze brush will cover most cleaning needs for very little money.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Review: SnapSafe Two-Gun Keypad Vault

Firearms storage is one of the less-exciting topics that’s vitally important to address. It may not be as exciting as the latest Blaster 3300 or solar-powered eye pro, but it’s something that must be considered. If you own firearms, you either own or need to own a safe (or two, or three). But if your safe or safes are all the massive, upright kind, how fast you can really get at your home defense gun? Do you have a setup that allows you to keep your handgun out of unauthorized hands while remaining accessible to you? The SnapSafe Two-Gun Keypad Vault addresses that problem, making it possible to safely store your home defense handgun without making it impossibly slow to get to it.

The safe has a four-button keypad that can be programmed for any code between four and six digits long. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

What is the SnapSafe Two-Gun Keypad Vault?

The SnapSafe Two-Gun Keypad Vault is pretty much what it sounds like: A safe large enough for two handguns (or one handgun and some ammo). It’s small enough to fit into tight spaces such as under a desk or bed but big enough to get your hand into it without a struggle. It’s possible to utilize this safe for long-term or short-term storage, and we’re going to tell you how.

This is a basic safe with redundant locks. It’s made from 16-gauge steel, which is 1.6mm thick. This type of steel is an A36 mild carbon steel alloy that’s regularly used for structural work. It has a minimum yield of 36,000 psi and tensile strength between 58,000 and 80,000 psi. Basically, that means it’s strong enough to withstand a beating, but given enough time, you’re going to get through it. That doesn’t translate to this safe being a poor choice by any means, just that measures should be taken to use it correctly.

Features of this safe include a programmable keypad that can use a four to six-digit code, a tubular round key backup, and a spring-loaded door. There’s also a removable inner shelf that can be used to hold another gun or other objects. A protective foam liner on the interior of the safe helps protect guns from scrapes and minor damage. This safe is recognized by the California Department of Justice as an approved Firearm Storage Device (FSD).

snapsafe handgun safe
The safe is made from 16 gauge steel and has a keypad and backup lock. (Photo credit: SnapSafe)

How big is the safe?

On its exterior, the safe measures 9.0 inches wide, 8.8 inches high, and 12.7 inches deep. That’s not too far off its internal dimensions, although the inside is a bit smaller due to the thickness of the steel and overall construction. Inside, the safe is 7.5 inches wide, 6.4 inches high, and 10.5 inches deep. Shipping box dimensions put it at 16.5 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 12 inches deep. It weighs 12.8 pounds, shipped, and a bit less once it’s out of the packaging. It’s not a bulky or otherwise massive safe.

snapsafe keypad vault on shelf
The safe can be placed on a bookshelf, but we only recommend this method if it’s for temporary storage while you’re in the immediate area. (Photo credit: SnapSafe)

How do you use the safe?

It’s possible to utilize the SnapSafe in various ways. The safe can be used for temporary storage on a bookshelf or pushed under a table, counter, or desk. If you use it in this way it’s important to remember how easy it is for someone to simply pick it up and walk off with it. That makes this type of use a good idea only if you are present and keeping an eye on it. Some gun owners use the safe this way to keep their gun locked up while they’re sitting at their desk or in their living room watching television. It’s certainly a great method for keeping hands off your gun when you’re still in the area.

bolt holes in safe
A pair of pre-drilled slots in the bottom of the safe makes it possible to bolt it down. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

If you intend to leave firearms in this safe longer term, you’ll want to bolt it down. SnapSafe makes this possible thanks to pre-drilled holes in the base of the safe. Sturdy bolts can be used to attach the safe to the floor, and it’s highly recommended. If the safe is literally bolted down, no one’s going to wander off with it (and its contents). Many gun owners choose to use it this way for long-term storage of their preferred home defense handgun. They might bolt it down in a closet or even under an end table. Your storage options broaden quite a bit when the safe is securely attached to the floor.

snapsafe shelf interior
In this picture, the shelf has been lifted so you can see the angled ledge it rests on. Having the shelf at an angle makes it easier to access your gun. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

How does the safe work?

To use the safe to store your handguns, program it. The safe comes with a manual that’s easy to follow; programming takes seconds. The keypad runs on four AA batteries, which are not included. Take care to choose a numeric code sequence someone else won’t readily think of. That means no birthdays, holidays, or overly simplistic things like 1234. Of course, it also needs to be something you can remember under pressure. To that end, we suggest practicing opening the safe until it becomes second nature. That means pressing the keypad from whatever angle you’d be accessing it, whether that’s reaching down from the bed or around a corner under an end table or desk. Ideally, you won’t need to hunker down and stare at the safe while you’re opening it.

The backup key comes in handy and should be stored in a location where it cannot be easily found. That means storing it right next to the safe is a no-go, as is hanging it from a hook you keep specifically for key storage. Be creative, but don’t make it impossible.

This safe has a door that’s constantly under spring-loaded pressure. That means when you activate it through the keypad or key, the door pops open. There’s no pulling it down or fussing with it. It also allows the safe to have a sleeker construction with hidden seams to make it pry-resistant. Hinges are similarly recessed to prevent someone from breaking in.

Is the safe fireproof?

No, this safe is not fireproof. Frankly, the heat generated by a house fire will do damage to the contents of most safes. Some just take longer than others. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to get your hands on a fire-resistant safe, just that it’s wise to be realistic about its limitations.

snapsafe vault with two guns in it
The safe is designed to hold two handguns. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

How many guns does it hold?

SnapSafe designed this model to fit two handguns, one per ledge. It’s certainly possible to cram more in there, but once you do that it’s not possible to safely remove a single gun without a struggle. We suggest sticking to two handguns total, although we like to put one handgun on the bottom and store ammo and spare, loaded magazines on the shelf. By doing that it’s a lot easier to draw your defensive handgun and also snag a spare mag if need be. That brings up an interesting point: If the same isn’t bolted down, the rush to get your gun can involve everything getting knocked around. Bolting it down means drawing the gun is a much smoother, faster process.

Should I get a SnapSafe Two-Gun Keypad Vault?

Speaking from personal experience and the use of more safes than can be counted, I’d say yes. As long as you use this safe correctly, it’s a great option for locking up the gun you want on hand to defend your home. And because you can fit two guns, you can use it for your main gun and a backup or for both yours and your other half’s main guns. SnapSafe makes good quality safes, and this keypad vault is yet another example of their reliable functionality. Remember, it’s your responsibility to safely store your firearms, and that is likely to mean having more than one safe.

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