CategoriesGun Reviews

The Henry Long Ranger Express: A Half MOA Lever Gun?

Man, I love me some lever action rifles. I expect I’ve mentioned that before in other articles. But they aren’t exactly cutting-edge designs. My favorite deer rifle is a damn-nice 1963 Marlin 336, but I’d never expect precision accuracy from it. Well, in the video linked below, Pat RMG [YouTube channel] takes the new updated Henry Long Ranger Express to the range and gets some surprising results.

A half MOA lever gun? Come on, man…

The Henry Long Ranger Express

Henry has been building lever guns since 1860 and they’ve gotten pretty good at it. The Long Ranger Express is brand new, and like the original Long Ranger, Henry claims it delivers “bolt action performance with the speed of a lever action.” The gun features a six-lug rotary bolt, aerospace aluminum construction, a free-floated barrel, and a five-round detachable box magazine instead of the more traditional tube mag. The gun is chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO and the barrel twist rate is 1:9.

Henry Long Ranger Express; Half MOA Lever Gun
Henry looks to have brought lever action design into the 21st Century.

The Range of the Future

Pat decided to investigate those claims and puts the Long Ranger Express to the test at a state-of-the-art electronic range in Tennessee. The range uses sensors to measure velocity and provides the shooter with hit data on an X and Y axis in real-time via a tablet at the shooting station. It totally eliminates the need to manually set and check targets, which can affect the breathing of a precision shooter. “Once you settle in at the table,” Pat says, “you’re settled in, and you can lay this on the bags and just go ahead and go to work.”

Henry Long Ranger Express; Half MOA Lever Gun state of the art range
Now THAT’S a range!

Precision Also Means Finding the Right Ammo

Pat tried several different ammo brands and loads before hitting the sweet spot. He zeroed the Henry at 50 yards with some 55 grain reloads, which gave him consistent, repeatable groups.

He then moved to some 55 grain Tula, with less than stellar results. Pat says accurate hits at 200 yards were “impossible” with the Tula. He got similar results by just “slapping the trigger” and not worrying about his breathing. But to be fair, you kind of know what you’re getting with Tula.

Henry Long Ranger Express ammo
Pat cycled through lots of ammo choices. He wasn’t impressed by the Tula.

Winchester White Box was next, yielding about 1.5 MOA at 300 yards. He got about the same performance from PMC X-Tac and Hornady Superformance 75 grain match. He was still looking for the right load when he decided to take a break and let the gun cool off. By that time, he was getting heat mirages off the suppressor.

The Magic Bullet

When he got back from his break, Pat went to some Hornady Match 75 grain boat-tailed hollow points (different from the previous Hornady ammo). He took the Henry out to 300 yards and the Hornady Match delivered a 0.48 MOA group. “The cool thing about this electronic, is you can’t freaking lie.” The rifle and ammo “got together and made absolute magic. Half MOA at 300 yards? I’m pretty freaking impressed. “

Henry Long Ranger Express Lever Gun 0.48 MOA at 300 yards
With the right ammo, the Henry delivered a 0.48 MOA group at 300 yards.

Pat says he didn’t expect the Henry to be that accurate, especially with a 400 buck 9x scope on it. “Maybe I had a really good day,” he says. He considered putting a more powerful scope on the gun to really study his shot and push the rifle, but decided he got good enough results to leave it.

Hornady MATCH 223 Rem 75 gr BTHP
The Magic Bullet.

More to Come

Pat bought a year’s membership at the range (I don’t even want to know what that cost) and says the Henry will go back for more. He also says, “I’ll probably sell my soul for more of this Hornady Match.” He might have to because that stuff ain’t cheap.

Henry Long Ranger Express at the range
Pat promises more on the Long Ranger Express at the uptown range.

What do you think? Has Henry brought the lever gun into the 21st Century? Do Pat’s initial results interest you in giving the Long Ranger a try? Let us know in the comments. Happy precision shooting, y’all.

 

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Umarex-HK MP5 in .22 LR: “Hardcore and Heavy Duty”

Most of us wouldn’t mind owning an MP5, would we? Be honest now. Well, our options recently expanded with the HK-licensed MP5 in .22 Long Rifle from Umarex. Umarex has a good reputation and their partnership with HK makes me confident that the new gun is a quality product. In the video linked below, YouTube’s Todd the Gun Guy gives us a quick rundown of the HK MP5 22lr Umarex features and tells us what he thinks of it.

YouTube’s Todd the Gun Guy says Umarex “knocked it out of the park” with the .22 Long Rifle MP5 clone.

Before we get into that, though, let’s take a look at the specs from the HK website:

  • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
  • Magazine Capacity: 25 or 10
  • Barrel length: 16.1 inches
  • Overall Length: 26.4 to 32.3 inches depending on how you set the telescoping stock
  • Width: 2.3 inches
  • Height: 11 inches
  • Weight (empty magazine): 7 pounds
  • Action Type: Blowback
  • Trigger: Single-stage
HK MP5 22lr Umarex
Todd says the Umarex is “flawless” and that it eats everything you put through it.

“It is flawless.” That’s one of the first things Todd says about the HK MP5 22lr Umarex, so I’d say we’re off to a good start. The gun has pretty much the same weight and dimensions as the actual MP5 and includes some nice features. It ships with one 25-round magazine (or a 10 rounder if you find yourself unfortunate enough to live behind the Blue Curtain) which is equipped with a thumb assist. That’s a nice touch.

 magazine thumb assist
The 25-round magazine includes a thumb assist, which is nice. No word on whether the 10-rounder has one too, but it’s likely.

There is a right-side mag release button and an ambidextrous paddle-style release underneath, just aft of the mag well. Todd says the mag well is a little tight, but it will likely loosen up with use.

The Umarex-HK MP5 LR magazine releases
You can use either mag release: the right-side button or the underneath paddle. Not fully ambidextrous, but close.

It has the famous MP5 charging handle so you can slap it to your heart’s content, though Todd says the slap is more difficult if you mount an optic on the Picatinny rail up top. The gun comes with standard MP5 sights, so you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

The Umarex-HK MP5 sights
You can use the included iron sights, install an optic, or both, as Todd did. Just keep in mind the optic makes it harder to do the cool guy slap on the charging handle.

The Umarex is classified as a true rifle, thanks to the 16.1-inch barrel and the telescoping stock, so no NFA BS. It’s also available in a pistol configuration, though with the current ATF shenanigans, it remains to be seen how that one will play out. The barrel is equipped with a faux suppressor, but you can put a real one on if you want. Todd just says it looks goofy because it’s a pencil barrel. You can also suppress the pistol version if you want.

telescoping stock catch
The telescoping stock on the HK MP5 22lr Umarex is easily manipulated with the catch underneath.

The faux suppressor makes the 7-pound gun very front-heavy, but Todd says it shoots great. The single-stage trigger has some take up with a heavy wall. For all that, Todd says it’s a nice trigger. “I’ll tell you what,” he says, “this thing is a shooter. I mean it is awesome!” The price isn’t bad either, going for around $479.

HK MP5 22lr Umarex
The HK MP5 22lr Umarex is less than 500 bucks? Not bad.

“She’s a keeper in my book for sure…Umarex knocked it out of the park.” Sounds like Todd likes it. What do you think? Does an HK-sanctioned .22 Long Rifle MP5 for under 500 bucks interest you? Let us know why or why not. Happy shooting, y’all.

 

CategoriesGun Reviews

The New 9mm AXE Tomahawk by BUL Armory

The BUL Armory AXE line of Glock cloned pistols hit the market in April of 2022, and the lineup in this series is certainly interesting. There are a ton of Glock clones, knock-offs, and wannabes out there. Normally I say if you want a Glock, then buy a Glock. As a member of law enforcement, I carry a Glock daily. The only complaint I really have about them is that they’re so dang ugly. Glocks are reliable and because of their popularity, they are also extremely easy to find parts, accessories, and magazines for. So why buy a Glock clone that is nearly double the price of a Glock? Let’s look at BUL’s new line of AXE guns and you can decide for yourself.

AXE Series by BUL Armory

I have talked about BUL Armory before. Made in Israel, they produce mostly 1911, CZ, and AR clones. Their line of weapons is on the higher end and the price goes along with it. When I heard they were producing a line of Glock clones I was interested to see how they could dress up the reliable but simple Glock.

What they have done is create a line under the name AXE with several models that dictates how much “custom” work the gun has. They have marketed them as the Tomahawk, Cleaver, and Hatchet. The “C” designation is for compact or the equivalent to the Glock 19 and the “FS” is for full-size Glock 17. The Tomahawk has the most customizations, so that’s the one we are going to review and take to the range.

Quick Specs from BUL for the Tomahawk C

  • Barrel length: 102mm/4.02 inch
  • Slide: Tomahawk serrations with a weight reduction cut
  • Steel 3-Dot sights (Glock dovetail)
  •  Optic ready: Trijicon RMR footprint
  • Fluted barrel
  • Magazine capacity: 15 rounds X3
  • Weight without magazine: 560g
  • 3.5 – 4.0 LB trigger pull
  • Available colors: Black (PVD) / Silver (Natural finish)
  • Integrated flared magwell with side cuts
  • High grip beavertail
  • Trigger Guard with a high Double Undercut
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Extended Slide Lock Lever (stainless steel)
  • Ambidextrous integrated thumb rest
  • Flat face trigger shoe
  • 1913 Picatinny rail
  • Aluminum guide rod
  • Dimpled stainless steel pin kit

How does the AXE compare to the Glock 19?

Side by side, the AXE (left) next to the Glock 19 looks like an extremely upgraded Glock.
Side by side, the AXE (left) next to the Glock 19 looks like an extremely upgraded Glock. The fluted barrel catches the eye right away, which can be seen through the cut-outs on the top of the slide.

My first question when getting ahold of the AXE was how much of it is interchangeable. From a quick field strip, I could see right away that not all of it is. The AXE looks more like a gen 3 Glock on the inside. It has a standard single recoil spring (not the double recoil spring like the newer Glocks). The slide rails on the lower frame are slightly different so the slide from the AXE would not fit on my Glock 19 frame. This however was a gen 5 Glock and as I no longer have a gen 3, I was not able to see if the AXE slide would fit on an older Glock frame.

AXE’s slide (right) does not have the double recoil spring and has just a few other changes from the Glock 19 gen 5 pictured beside it.
AXE’s slide (right) does not have the double recoil spring and has just a few other changes from the Glock 19 gen 5 pictured beside it.

The AXE barrel is identical to the Glock, and I was able to swap them without issue. The sights, magazine release, slide lock, and the slide backplate all appeared to be interchangeable with Glock parts. The big question, and most important to me was the magazines. I like Glock magazines more than I do Glock pistols so being not being compatible would be a big issue for me. There was no need to worry however as Glock mags will work great in the AXE line of pistols.

Glock 19 magazine in BUL AXE Tomahawk pistol
Glock mags from my Glock 19 worked just fine in the AXE Tomahawk.

The most notable difference in the AXE frame is the checkering on the grip. The finger guard has a slightly different shape to it, and they placed an aggressive serrated finger stop on each side for the shooter’s support hand.

On the Range

BUL Armory Tomahawk range day

The AXE Tomahawk did well on the range, but I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have just a little bit lighter trigger. The trigger pull was great but comparable to my Glock. For the extra money, I was hoping to have just a little bit lighter weight and smoother pull. It did have a little more kick to it than the Glock due to the lighter weight of the AXE, but this was expected.

The checkering and serrations on the gun were comfortable for me. A few other people that shot it said the grip checkering was too aggressive for them, but I like having something that gives
me a good grip on the gun.

I fired all three of the 15-round magazines that came with the AXE and then used some of my 15 and 17-round Glock magazines. I never had any issues with cycling and the magazine release was very easy to find. AXE flared out the mag well which made mag changes easy. The AXE magazines have a wide base to they can be pulled from the gun, but they fall freely so I’m not sure there was a need for that. I preferred using my Glock mags in the AXE as opposed to the ones that came with it.

BUL Armory AXE grip checkering
The checkering on the AXE grip was very aggressive but felt comfortable to me.

There are a few small things I would have liked to see changed but overall, I think this is a great gun. BUL Armory has a good reputation for making quality guns and this one is a looker. The cut-out on the slide reveals the fluted barrel, which is the Tomahawk’s best feature, and I even like the red trigger safety they placed in the trigger. BUL Armory offers the Tomahawk with a gold barrel for those who want a little more bling. Because it’s lighter, it makes it comfortable to carry and the overall look to me is appealing compared to a Glock. If you see one in your local gun shop, check it out and see what you think!

CategoriesGun Reviews

The New 9mm AXE Tomahawk by BUL Armory

The new BUL Armory AXE line of Glock cloned pistols hit the market in April of 2022, and the lineup in this series is certainly interesting. There are a ton of Glock clones, knock-offs, and wannabes out there. Normally I say if you want a Glock, then buy a Glock. As a member of law enforcement, I carry a Glock daily. The only complaint I really have about them is that they’re so dang ugly. Glocks are reliable and because of their popularity, they are also extremely easy to find parts, accessories, and magazines for. So why buy a Glock clone that is nearly double the price of a Glock? Let’s look at BUL’s new line of AXE guns and you can decide for yourself.

AXE Series by BUL Armory

I have talked about BUL Armory before. Made in Israel, they produce mostly 1911, CZ, and AR clones. Their line of weapons is on the higher end and the price goes along with it. When I heard they were producing a line of Glock clones I was interested to see how they could dress up the reliable but simple Glock.

What they have done is create a line under the name AXE with several models that dictates how much “custom” work the gun has. They have marketed them as the Tomahawk, Cleaver, and Hatchet. The “C” designation is for compact or the equivalent to the Glock 19 and the “FS” is for full-size Glock 17. The Tomahawk has the most customizations, so that’s the one we are going to review and take to the range.

Quick Specs from BUL for the Tomahawk C

  • Barrel length: 102mm/4.02 inch
  • Slide: Tomahawk serrations with a weight reduction cut
  • Steel 3-Dot sights (Glock dovetail)
  •  Optic ready: Trijicon RMR footprint
  • Fluted barrel
  • Magazine capacity: 15 rounds X3
  • Weight without magazine: 560g
  • 3.5 – 4.0 LB trigger pull
  • Available colors: Black (PVD) / Silver (Natural finish)
  • Integrated flared magwell with side cuts
  • High grip beavertail
  • Trigger Guard with a high Double Undercut
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Extended Slide Lock Lever (stainless steel)
  • Ambidextrous integrated thumb rest
  • Flat face trigger shoe
  • 1913 Picatinny rail
  • Aluminum guide rod
  • Dimpled stainless steel pin kit

How does the AXE compare to the Glock 19?

Side by side, the AXE (left) next to the Glock 19 looks like an extremely upgraded Glock.
Side by side, the AXE (left) next to the Glock 19 looks like an extremely upgraded Glock. The fluted barrel catches the eye right away, which can be seen through the cut-outs on the top of the slide.

My first question when getting ahold of the AXE was how much of it is interchangeable. From a quick field strip, I could see right away that not all of it is. The AXE looks more like a gen 3 Glock on the inside. It has a standard single recoil spring (not the double recoil spring like the newer Glocks). The slide rails on the lower frame are slightly different so the slide from the AXE would not fit on my Glock 19 frame. This however was a gen 5 Glock and as I no longer have a gen 3, I was not able to see if the AXE slide would fit on an older Glock frame.

AXE’s slide (right) does not have the double recoil spring and has just a few other changes from the Glock 19 gen 5 pictured beside it.
AXE’s slide (right) does not have the double recoil spring and has just a few other changes from the Glock 19 gen 5 pictured beside it.

The AXE barrel is identical to the Glock, and I was able to swap them without issue. The sights, magazine release, slide lock, and the slide backplate all appeared to be interchangeable with Glock parts. The big question, and most important to me was the magazines. I like Glock magazines more than I do Glock pistols so being not being compatible would be a big issue for me. There was no need to worry however as Glock mags will work great in the AXE line of pistols.

Glock 19 magazine in BUL AXE Tomahawk pistol
Glock mags from my Glock 19 worked just fine in the AXE Tomahawk.

The most notable difference in the AXE frame is the checkering on the grip. The finger guard has a slightly different shape to it, and they placed an aggressive serrated finger stop on each side for the shooter’s support hand.

On the Range

BUL Armory Tomahawk range day

The AXE Tomahawk did well on the range, but I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have just a little bit lighter trigger. The trigger pull was great but comparable to my Glock. For the extra money, I was hoping to have just a little bit lighter weight and smoother pull. It did have a little more kick to it than the Glock due to the lighter weight of the AXE, but this was expected.

The checkering and serrations on the gun were comfortable for me. A few other people that shot it said the grip checkering was too aggressive for them, but I like having something that gives
me a good grip on the gun.

I fired all three of the 15-round magazines that came with the AXE and then used some of my 15 and 17-round Glock magazines. I never had any issues with cycling and the magazine release was very easy to find. AXE flared out the mag well which made mag changes easy. The AXE magazines have a wide base to they can be pulled from the gun, but they fall freely so I’m not sure there was a need for that. I preferred using my Glock mags in the AXE as opposed to the ones that came with it.

BUL Armory AXE grip checkering
The checkering on the AXE grip was very aggressive but felt comfortable to me.

There are a few small things I would have liked to see changed but overall, I think this is a great gun. BUL Armory has a good reputation for making quality guns and this one is a looker. The cut-out on the slide reveals the fluted barrel, which is the Tomahawk’s best feature, and I even like the red trigger safety they placed in the trigger. BUL Armory offers the Tomahawk with a gold barrel for those who want a little more bling. Because it’s lighter, it makes it comfortable to carry and the overall look to me is appealing compared to a Glock. If you see one in your local gun shop, check it out and see what you think!

CategoriesGun Reviews

Tippmann Arms M4-22 Micro Pistol

When I saw the compact size of the Tippmann Arms M4-22 Micro Pistol in the gunshop, it had my full attention. I mean, this thing is small!! It has a collapsible pistol brace, and if that’s not short enough for you, the brace actually folds to the side! We are talking seriously compact; it will very easily fit into a day pack with room to spare.

The Tippmann Arms M4-22 Micro Pistol will easily fit into a day pack with room to spare. Several hundred rounds and a few spare magazines would round out the package. The Tippmann is on the right, with a Henry Survival Rifle on the left as a comparison.

And that is what attracted me to it—the ability to throw it in a backpack. It would be especially useful for hiking in the backcountry to have a compact firearm along without anyone knowing about it (unless you wanted them to).

Another thing I liked is that it’s chambered in .22LR. Many people fail to take the .22 Long Rifle very seriously, but it certainly can perform a number of jobs. Poachers love it because it’s relatively quiet and can take game at close range with good shot placement. You can carry a lot of rounds, too. It would be nothing to throw a couple hundred rounds into that day pack and go hiking for the day, secure in the knowledge that you have a nice ammo stash along for the ride.

Another huge asset is that the .22 is not very loud, so shooting is more pleasant. And of course, it doesn’t recoil much at all, it’s barely perceivable. And right now, .22LR ammo is far cheaper than any other caliber out there, so you can do a lot of shooting for a reasonable price.

Tippman Arms M4-22 with Blackhawk chest rig
It’s difficult to tell that it’s “just” a .22LR pistol from a glance. This little firearm is seriously compact and great for training.

Tippman Arms MR-22 Compact Pistol Features

The overall weight is 4.4 pounds. Despite how light it is, the little AR feels solid. It should, considering it’s made from Aluminum. Despite the fact that it’s chambered in .22LR, it feels like you’re holding a standard AR-15. Here’s a closer look at all of the features.

Barrel

The seven-inch barrel is made of 4150 solid steel and the gun has a 5.5-inch M-Lok Handguard. The barrel is not exactly heavy, but neither is it pencil-thin, so it has a nice heft. The muzzle is threaded for a 1/2×28 A2 birdcage flash suppressor, so any muzzle device that will fit regular ARs will also fit this one, allowing the user to tailor this pistol as he wishes.

The flash suppressor is standard AR, as are the threads so that any muzzle devices that the user wishes can be attached to the Tippmann. The handguard is well thought out. Flip-up sights round out the package (they’re very similar to what Mag Pul produces).

Controls

A nice touch is that all of the controls you’d find on a “regular” AR are also on the Tippmann. The bolt release, magazine release, safety, charging handle, and even the forward assist all function exactly as they do on a standard AR-15. That makes the gun really nice for training because the controls translate perfectly to its full-size cousins. I’m told that aftermarket trigger groups will also fit the Tippmann (although I cannot verify this firsthand, as I did not drop in any trigger groups myself).

Tippman Arms M4-22 Micro pistol controls
The controls of the Tippmann Arms M4-22 Micro Pistol are exactly like those of a standard AR-15; safety/selector and bolt release on this side of the gun, as well as the charging handle.
Tipman Arms m4-22 micro pistol magazine release, dust cover
Here we see the magazine release is exactly like that of a “real” AR-15, as is the dust cover. The forward assist even works!

Sights

There is a full-length Picatinny rail on top, and the pistol comes complete with front and rear flip-up “iron” sights. These sights look very similar to those manufactured by Magpul. The sights are excellent and easy to adjust to get on target. When not in use, they fold down to protect them from damage and make storage easier. They’re easy to use, as AR sights are. One neat aspect is that there is a small, fold-down aperture in the rear sight, so if you want a smaller aperture, leave the aperture in place. If you want a ghost ring type, fold the little aperture tab down, which opens up the aperture to a larger opening. Very ingenious!

Tippmann Arms flip up rear sight
The flip-up sights are very nice. Here we see the rear sight, adjustable for windage. There is also a choice of two apertures; small and large. The large is of the ghost ring variety. Here the small aperture is flipped down, allowing the use of the ghost ring. This was a really nice touch.

Bolt 

The bolt is very simple, and field stripping is a breeze. Just remove the pin in the lower receiver as on a regular AR and tip the receiver up. Then, withdraw the charging handle, which brings the bolt out of the upper receiver. To clean, wipe down and lube the bolt, clean the barrel and chamber area, and you’re done. That’s it, there’s nothing else to do. The bolt is nickel-plated, which simplifies cleaning.

Tippmann Arms M4022 micro pistol, field stripped with bolt out for cleaning
Here is the bolt. It comes out of the receiver in one piece and is nickel-plated for easy cleaning. Field stripping is amazingly easy.

Pistol Brace

I mentioned that there is a pistol brace on this pistol. It is set up very nicely with four notches so it can be adjusted to four different lengths. It will also fold directly to the side of the pistol, adding to the compactness. Major kudos to Tippmann Arms for the design on this!

Tippman Arms m4-22 micro pistol telescoping brace
The brace can telescope, has four different locking positions, and will accept a quick-detachable sling swivel.
brace folded to the side
If the brace is still a bit too long, fold it to the side for an insanely compact package!

Magazines

The magazines for the Tippmann are a marvel in and of themselves. Outwardly they resemble standard AR-15 magazines so it’s difficult to distinguish the two from each other. There’s a small tab that you push in the upper corner, which allows the user to pull the top portion of the magazine up, exposing the guts. The magazine can now be loaded by pulling two tabs down, which compresses the spring, making it very easy to feed the bullets into the magazine. After it’s full, just push the guts back down into the magazine body and you have what appears to be a standard AR mag again. The magazines are surprisingly robust, too. They can be had from most places for about $25 each, making them a very reasonable buy.

Tippman MR-22 magazine loading tab
To load the magazines, the tab is pressed, allowing the innards of the magazine to be pulled out the top (both halves remain attached to each other).
Tippmann Arms MR-22 micro pistol magazine, opened for loading
Here we see the inside of the magazine extended. There are two tabs with which the magazine spring can be depressed, making it very easy to insert rounds into the magazine.

As an added bonus, these magazines insert and extract exactly as they would on a normal AR-15. And since their dimensions mirror those of standard AR mags, they will fit in all mag pouches, facilitating training.

MR-22 compact pistol magazine
Magazines for the Tippmann Arms M4-22 outwardly resemble those of full size AR-15s, so they can be used with the same magazine pouches, which further facilitates the training role.

At The Range

With great glee and excitement, I retired to the range with my new toy to see how it would fare. Initially, the sights were pretty far off at 25 yards, so I took some time to adjust them and get it zeroed. It wasn’t long before it was perfectly zeroed and we were off to the races.

Jim Davis shooting Tippman Arms MR-22 compact pistol at shooting range
The Tippmann Arms M4-22 handled like a dream. The compactness really made it fun, as did the lack of recoil.

I had several brands of ammunition with me, as I wanted to see how the Tippmann functioned with a cross-section of .22 LR rounds. I started off with Aguila, which has proven to be a great shooter in my Ruger .22 firearms. Unfortunately, the Aguila would not reliably feed all the time in the M4-22, so I had to stop using it.

I then switched to Armscor and that was even worse. It absolutely refused to feed the little Tippmann.

After that, I went to the old stand-by, the gold standard in .22 LR ammo, CCI Mini-Mag, which functioned perfectly. I’d also brought a supply of Federal Subsonic 45 grain .22 LR, and the Tippmann also functioned perfectly with those rounds.

I spent a goodly amount of time trying out the various rounds, and it was frustrating that it would not feed everything. To be honest, my Ruger 10/22s and MK IV have me spoiled, as they have fed every type of .22 ammo that I could stuff into them with supreme reliability. Granted, when the M4-22 worked, it worked beautifully. However, the lack of reliability compared to that of my other .22 firearms was intensely frustrating. After all the hype that I’d read about this pistol being so reliable, this aspect was the fly in the ointment, as my expectations were dashed.

As for how the M4-22 Micro Pistol handled, it was an absolute dream! Being so compact, it was perfect for close-range engagements and the maneuverability made it a real pleasure to use! Of course, there was virtually no recoil because of the .22 LR caliber being used.

Accuracy

Once it was zeroed in, the M4-22 was extremely accurate for a pistol. Groups at 25 yards came in at around one inch consistently. At 50 yards, they were around three inches. However, I’m convinced that the groups would have been smaller if my eyes were not aging as they are and perhaps an optic was used. Suffice to say that this pistol is more accurate than I am and I don’t think any of our viewing audience will be disappointed in that department.

Tippmann Arms MR-22 compact pistol target group at 25 yards
Accuracy at 25 and 50 yards was quite good and would have undoubtedly been better if I had used optics.

In Conclusion

Because this AR feels and acts like a standard AR, it is especially useful for training purposes. Overall, the Tippmann Arms M4-22 Micro Pistol is a very neat firearm that allows the user to train as if he had a standard AR-15 in his hands (minus a slight amount of recoil) because the controls and feel are exactly the same as a standard AR-15. That training will be far cheaper using .22 LR than with .223/5.56mm also.

The cool factor of the Tippmann Arms pistol is off the charts. The side-folding, telescoping pistol brace contributes to it’s excellent handling characteristics as well as the ability to take it places where a rifle could not go unnoticed.

Now, if they could just get it to function 100% with varied ammo, it would be a slice of heaven. If you can get past the ammo sensitivity, this might be the perfect small firearm for you. For me, it was a tough decision. I decided not to keep the Tippmann despite the cool factor, because, frankly, I have other .22LR semi-autos that feed any ammo that I run through them. MSRP at the time of this writing is $649.95, but they can be found on gun shop shelves for considerably less — mine was under the $600.00 mark.

 

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Umarex-HK MP5 in .22 LR: “Hardcore and Heavy Duty”

Most of us wouldn’t mind owning an MP5, would we? Be honest now. Well, our options recently expanded with the HK-licensed MP5 in .22 Long Rifle from Umarex. Umarex has a good reputation and their partnership with HK makes me confident that the new gun is a quality product. In the video linked below, YouTube’s Todd the Gun Guy gives us a quick rundown of the HK MP5 22lr Umarex features and tells us what he thinks of it.

YouTube’s Todd the Gun Guy says Umarex “knocked it out of the park” with the .22 Long Rifle MP5 clone.

Before we get into that, though, let’s take a look at the specs from the HK website:

  • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
  • Magazine Capacity: 25 or 10
  • Barrel length: 16.1 inches
  • Overall Length: 26.4 to 32.3 inches depending on how you set the telescoping stock
  • Width: 2.3 inches
  • Height: 11 inches
  • Weight (empty magazine): 7 pounds
  • Action Type: Blowback
  • Trigger: Single-stage
HK MP5 22lr Umarex
Todd says the Umarex is “flawless” and that it eats everything you put through it.

“It is flawless.” That’s one of the first things Todd says about the HK MP5 22lr Umarex, so I’d say we’re off to a good start. The gun has pretty much the same weight and dimensions as the actual MP5 and includes some nice features. It ships with one 25-round magazine (or a 10 rounder if you find yourself unfortunate enough to live behind the Blue Curtain) which is equipped with a thumb assist. That’s a nice touch.

 magazine thumb assist
The 25-round magazine includes a thumb assist, which is nice. No word on whether the 10-rounder has one too, but it’s likely.

There is a right-side mag release button and an ambidextrous paddle-style release underneath, just aft of the mag well. Todd says the mag well is a little tight, but it will likely loosen up with use.

The Umarex-HK MP5 LR magazine releases
You can use either mag release: the right-side button or the underneath paddle. Not fully ambidextrous, but close.

It has the famous MP5 charging handle so you can slap it to your heart’s content, though Todd says the slap is more difficult if you mount an optic on the Picatinny rail up top. The gun comes with standard MP5 sights, so you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

The Umarex-HK MP5 sights
You can use the included iron sights, install an optic, or both, as Todd did. Just keep in mind the optic makes it harder to do the cool guy slap on the charging handle.

The Umarex is classified as a true rifle, thanks to the 16.1-inch barrel and the telescoping stock, so no NFA BS. It’s also available in a pistol configuration, though with the current ATF shenanigans, it remains to be seen how that one will play out. The barrel is equipped with a faux suppressor, but you can put a real one on if you want. Todd just says it looks goofy because it’s a pencil barrel. You can also suppress the pistol version if you want.

telescoping stock catch
The telescoping stock on the HK MP5 22lr Umarex is easily manipulated with the catch underneath.

The faux suppressor makes the 7-pound gun very front-heavy, but Todd says it shoots great. The single-stage trigger has some take up with a heavy wall. For all that, Todd says it’s a nice trigger. “I’ll tell you what,” he says, “this thing is a shooter. I mean it is awesome!” The price isn’t bad either, going for around $479.

HK MP5 22lr Umarex
The HK MP5 22lr Umarex is less than 500 bucks? Not bad.

“She’s a keeper in my book for sure…Umarex knocked it out of the park.” Sounds like Todd likes it. What do you think? Does an HK-sanctioned .22 Long Rifle MP5 for under 500 bucks interest you? Let us know why or why not. Happy shooting, y’all.

 

CategoriesGun Reviews

Wilson Combat SFX9: First Shots with the Honest Outlaw

If you’re into guns at all, you likely know that Wilson Combat is a name to be reckoned with. Bill Wilson, the owner, doesn’t play around when it comes to building quality firearms. Well, the Honest Outlaw, who I just learned is actually named Chris, had one of the four new SFX9 models on the range and gives us his first impressions in the video linked below.

The Honest Outlaw gives us his first impressions of the Wilson Combat SFX9. Honest. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

The SFX9 is available with a five, four, and three and a quarter-inch barrel, and the latter comes with a 10-round magazine. Additionally, the “X” type model has a full-size grip and a 15-round capacity. Chris has the four-inch version so that’s what we’ll focus on going forward.

 four versions of the SFX9
There are four versions of the SFX9. Chris reviews the four-inch barrel version here. (Wilson Combat)

Wilson Combat SFX9 Specifications

The SFX9 is similar to the Wilson Combat EDC9, which I saw confirmed by Bill Wilson in another place, but with a solid frame, unlike other Wilson Combat 2011-style guns. Chris goes into the specs so let’s list those from the Wilson Combat website:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.4 inches
  • Sight Radius: 5.6 inches
  • Height: 5.25 inches
  • Width: 1.4 inches
  • Weight Empty: 29.3 ounces
  • Weight Loaded: 36 ounces
  • Accuracy Guarantee:1.5-inch group at 25 yards

These are the standard specs. Wilson Combat offers other options that you can view on their website, including your choice of frame colors and trigger shoes.

Honest Outlaw handgun review
The SFX9 has some very nice features with more options available. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

More Features and Initial Impressions

The weight of the gun jumps out immediately. Twenty-nine ounces for a metal-framed gun is pretty light. It isn’t steel, but high-grade aluminum. The grips feature the Wilson Combat X-Tac pattern, and the grip modules are replaceable. The gun has a low-profile mag release that Chris didn’t like at first, but once he started handling the pistol, he found it “really usable.”

The SFX9 has Wilson Combat X-Tac Grips
The SFX9 comes standard with Wilson Combat X-Tac Grips. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

The SFX9 features the company’s “Bullet Proof” safety and slide stop. Chris says that Wilson Combat safeties are some of the best on the market. The gun comes with a skeletonized combat hammer. The slide has front and rear cocking serrations and the gun has a fluted barrel. “Looks [effing] awesome,” Chris says.

Wilson Combat SFX9 closeup of Bullet Proof safety, slide stop, and Trijicon RDS
The SFX9 features Wilson Combat’s “Bullet Proof” safety and slide stop. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

The optic mount is cut deep into the slide so the optic co-witnesses with the sights. The sights themselves consist of a red fiber optic front and a blacked-out rear notch. One thing Chris doesn’t like is the red front sight combined with a red dot optic that has a small window, like the RMR. He says it’s confusing to see two red dots through the same window. He thinks the sight setup is just about perfect for no optic, but if he keeps the SFX9, he will probably black out the front sight too.

Wilson Combat SFX9 sights
Red fiber optic front sight with a blacked-out notch in the rear. The optics cut allows co-witnessing. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

Of his initial impressions, Chris says that “I noticed already, just the quality of the gun. This is immediately so smooth out of the box. The slide is so easy to cycle, the safety is so impeccable, like all of the controls are super slicked up.” The trigger is a crisp 3.5 pounds that worked very well in dry fire.

Sounds Great but How Does It Shoot?

Now, if you’ve ever watched the Honest Outlaw channel, you know that Chris is a really good shot. I mean, I despair of ever approaching his proficiency with a handgun. With the SFX9, the dude was consistently ringing steel at 50, 75, 100, and 130 yards. In the cold and wind. I should also note that the SFX9 held a nice group at 10 yards, though Chris thought the zero on his optic was off just a bit.

Aiming handgun at 130 yards
Chris was consistently ringing steel at distances up to 130 yards with the SFX9. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

As noted in the specs, Wilson Combat has an accuracy guarantee, shooting from a bench rest. It looks like the SFX9 is meeting that standard. Chris held a 6-inch group, standing, at 50 yards. The gun is as accurate as he is. And before you start wondering about his ammo choice, all 100 rounds were remanufactured 147-grain ammo. No soft shooting match grade stuff in this test.

Chris loved the accuracy provided by the Wilson Combat workmanship and hand fitting, even with cheap ammo. He had zero malfunctions in those first 100 rounds. “First impressions of this gun,” he says, “are extremely positive and I’m happy that they are.” After all, the SFX9’s base price is $2895. And that’s inexpensive for a Wilson Combat gun.

Wilson Combat SFX9
The SFX9 is a very nice gun with a very high price tag. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

Real World Accuracy and Reliability

Chris likes Wilson Combat, as opposed to some other high-end guns, because Bill Wilson understands that guns have to function in less-than-ideal conditions. He doesn’t make “bullseye guns.” Wilson Combat guns just work. The tolerances are tight enough to provide outstanding accuracy but not so tight that they have reliability problems. They can shoot cheap or remanufactured ammo right along with high-dollar match stuff. Wilson knows that you might use his guns competitively or even to save your life.

Chris comes back to accuracy, saying, “this gun is extremely accurate. One of the most accurate guns I’ve ever shot, especially for a four-inch. A notch above, in my opinion, some of the other manufacturers in its class. Premium price, but premium performance.”

Honest Outlaw shooting Wilson Combat SFX9
Chris says that the SFX9 is one of the most accurate guns he’s ever fired. (Honest Outlaw YouTube Channel)

Chris says he thinks the SFX9 is “not a first gun.” It’s more like a gun that an experienced shooter buys in order to have extreme satisfaction in a carry gun or to show off. Kind of like what Enzo Ferrari once said, he makes cars for young men that only old men can afford. That’s how I see Wilson Combat guns. As Chris says, the SFX9 is “Very accurate, very reliable, very fast, but very expensive.”

Chris is planning a 1000-round test over the next few months, so we’ll keep checking back to see how the SFX9 holds up. Do you think a Wilson Combat, or another high-end gun, is worth the price? Hit us up in the comments and tell us why or why not. Happy shooting y’all.

 

CategoriesGun Reviews

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 – The Mag Life

Back in 1949, the Mark I .22 Long Rifle caliber pistol was introduced by Ruger, and it just so happens that this was their very first product! At the time, its general profile was somewhat similar to the German Luger of World Wars I & II fame. Fast forward to present day, Ruger is now on the Mark IV series.

The Mark I, II, and III series are all excellent pistols but they had one irking factor that shooters weren’t very fond of. More on that later, and why it led to the Mark IV series.

I confess that I’m a .22 Long Rifle whore. There, I said it. They tell me that the first step is admitting that it’s a problem. Except, it’s not a problem because I can stop any time I want, honestly! So a Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol followed me home.

Basic Features of the Ruger Mark IV 22/45

The pistol is chambered in .22 Long Rifle and features a 5.5-inch long bull barrel (complete with recessed target crown), which helps the pistol balance extremely well. It’s not a lightweight pistol, but the outstanding balance really evens things out. Immediately upon picking it up, It felt almost “heavy” in my hand. I say almost because it’s not a particularly heavy pistol, it’s just well put together. It’s 34.4 ounces, so it’s not a featherweight, but considering the heavy barrel, I don’t see the weight as being excessive. Perhaps “solid” is a better descriptive term.

The heavy barrel wears a recessed target crown, which contributes to the accuracy.

The frame is Polymer and the grips (which are removable and can be replaced) are “synthetic.” Grips that are wood and comprised of other materials can also be had if the user desires. The grips resemble those of a 1911 and feel really comfortable in the hand.  I actually had to do a double take when I read that the frame is made from Polymer; I’d thought it was metal because it is so solid, and it actually feels like metal. The receiver is made from alloy steel. The front of the grip is serrated and the backstrap is checkered, which adds to the positive grip. Overall, the entire grip strongly resembles a 1911 in angle, girth, and feel.

On top of the receiver, there are holes drilled and tapped so that a Picatinny or Weaver rail can be easily added for mounting optics and such. Some other versions of the Mark IV actually come standard with the rail attached, and the option to add one easily is a welcomed option.

The overall length of the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 is 9.75 inches and the height is 5.5 inches. As far as pistols go, this one is on the larger side. But then, it’s not something you’re likely to try to slip into a pocket for concealed carry. There is a 22/45 Lite version that is smaller and…you guessed it…lighter, and such a pistol might be better suited in the event that someone would want to carry it concealed. That said, these pistols really aren’t intended for the concealed carry crowd.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol in hand
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 is not generally looked at as a concealed carry pistol, given its size.

Attracted to their accuracy and durability, I had wanted one of the Ruger Mark series pistols for a number of years, but I heard horror stories about field stripping and cleaning them. Those accounts always turned me off, as I’m not the most mechanically inclined person on the face of the earth. In fact, I’m a complete simpleton when it comes to such things. Ruger listened to peoples’ complaints, and in 2016, they introduced the Mark IV series.

What really turned me on to the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 was when I saw how easy it is to take down. Push one button, and the receiver pops up similarly to that of an AR-15, and the entire upper receiver detaches from the lower. The bolt pops right out! That’s it! So easy I can do it in about two seconds (literally). Remember that irking factor that I’d mentioned at the beginning of this article that shooters didn’t care for? Ruger is on top of their game and remedied that issue forever.

Takedown button
The takedown button is the magic button that makes the MK IV even more fun! It makes field stripping take seconds rather than hours.
Ruger Mark IV field stripped
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45, field stripped and broken down into its three main components. The whole process takes a few seconds.

The construction of the bolt is cylindrical, as is the receiver, so the two fit together well.

The magazine release is conventionally located on the frame so that it can be activated with the thumb. It’s easily pressed and the magazine ejects positively (dare I say forcefully). Speaking of magazines, the Mark IV mags hold ten rounds and are constructed ruggedly. They’re very easy to load, as they have buttons on the mag that you can pull down, relaxing the spring, so the rounds can easily be loaded. Two magazines are shipped with each Mark IV pistol.

One thing that I don’t care for is the fact that there’s a magazine disconnect, so the pistol will not fire without a magazine inserted. I’d prefer to be able to fire it without a magazine. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is what it is.

Now we come to the safety, which is very well executed on this pistol. It operates very similarly to a standard 1911, and is easily swiped off without a lot of effort to fire the pistol. The placement is outstanding; it’s right there where you’d expect it to be. All in all, the safety gets the highest marks. An added bonus is that the safety is ambidextrous. Ruger had this one easy; they just emulated the 1911 style safety, and couldn’t have done a better job.

Ruger Mark IV safety and bolt release
The safety and bolt release are both placed perfectly and operate flawlessly.

The slide release is just forward of the safety, and it is a good one. Normally, I don’t much concern myself with slide releases, instead preferring to release or withdraw the slide by grasping over the top of the slide and pulling back with my hand. However, with the MK IV, one cannot do that because the bolt is enclosed in the receiver (as we mentioned, like an AR-15). As such, there is no conventional slide, the bolt moves within the receiver; instead, one has to grasp the cocking tabs or “ears”, at the rear of the receiver to charge the pistol. To be fair, this is not difficult. However, for those who are used to simply going over the top of the slide with the palm of the hand, we will need to revamp our method for this pistol. It’s a mild inconvenience that I wouldn’t consider to be the end of the world, but just be aware of it.

When the last round is fired, the bolt is locked to the rear. At the range, though, I found that I naturally placed my thumb on the slide release, so the slide often did not hold open after the last round was fired. That’s a software problem (the shooter) and not a hardware problem (the firearm).

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 bolt locked open
The bolt locks to the rear when the last round is fired, except when the shooter rests his hand upon the bolt release.

Next we come to the sights. There are things that I like, such as the rear sight being adjustable. One thing that I dislike is the fact that the front sight (a ramp type) is all black. For me, it really needs to have either a dot or some color on it. For that matter, the rear sight is also all black, though this is not as critical for me. I believe I’m going to use an old trick that a buddy taught me and put a dab of fluorescent nail polish on the top of the front sight ramp to help me to be able to see it better. Aside from that, the sights seem to be just fine with the pistol. I also understand that one can purchase a different front sight post, which is held on by a screw and should change out very easily. I will look into acquiring one of those.

black sights
The sights are good, but the all black profile hinders being able to see the sights when the target is dark.

Why did I buy the Ruger Mark IV 22/45?

It’s doubtful that I’m going to carry it concealed for protection. However, I will be using it to give my family some trigger time and run them through some shooting drills to get them more accustomed to such things.

It will also be used a bit just for fun. I seldom shoot for “fun” anymore. Each time I go to the range, I follow the advice of my friend and fellow instructor (Bob): always have an agenda, a schedule to improve one or more skills for each range session. Well, I’m still going to do that, but considering this pistol is a .22, I will also enjoy shooting it. I will still run drills incessantly, but there will be some fun had along with it all.

Beyond that, it’s just a good idea to have a .22 pistol that you can throw in a day pack and take with you on an outing, along with several hundred rounds. Between the pistol and ammo, the extra weight won’t add much to the pack, and you’ll likely not even realize you’re carrying it. Unless you happen to need it.

That brings me to my next point: the .22 Long Rifle. That’s really the reason that I bought this pistol, I wanted a .22 pistol.

Why the .22 LR? Those who know me might be rolling their eyes right now because they realize I’m going to beat a dead horse again about the virtues of the .22LR. If you haven’t heard this spiel yet, you may find it interesting. If you have…read it again anyway because it’s true.

.22 Long Rifle Virtues

It’s inexpensive. 

Which means you can stock up on a LOT of rounds for a rainy day (and currently, it appears that we may have a rainy day coming). What’s more, you can actually afford to practice and train a whole lot more with the .22LR than with, say, .45 ACP.  At the time of this writing, my local gunshop has .22LR for about $11.95 per 100 rounds of CCI, which is generally agreed to be the Gold Standard by which .22 ammo is judged. Bulk packs cost about $50 for 500 rounds, depending on the brand and quality. Some is more, some is a little less. Quality does vary, but generally, most of it is pretty decent stuff.

It’s light and compact.

The .22LR is smaller than almost any other round on the planet. Especially when compared to other pistol bullets. It weighs less and takes up far less space. A brick of 500 will fit into a backpack easily and weighs a couple pounds.

It’s than quieter than other calibers.

This helps the shooter if he’s trying to be more discreet, although this is more-so true in rifles than pistols. Still, it’s not as noisy as many other rounds. That makes it easier on the ears, and the sound does not carry as far, so shooting the .22 is more discreet.

Far less recoil than other calibers.

This is great for new shooters because they won’t become recoil sensitive as with some other calibers. For experienced shooters, this allows a high rate of fire without recoil throwing them off target. A win/win for all involved.

There is a wide variety of .22 ammo configurations available,

Options range from subsonic rounds to match rounds. Hunting rounds, target rounds, and all sorts in between. There’s even birdshot and snakeshot. Note that not all of them will cycle semi-autos reliably, so a bit of research and some testing on your part will be time well spent.

Its popularity ensures that it will be available wherever bullets are sold.

Those are many of the advantages, but there are a few disadvantages as well. The powder used in .22 ammo often burns dirtier than other rounds, and can gum up the action of your firearm(s). And the round itself is not as powerful as most others. Yes, there are tradeoffs, but I believe, for many purposes, the advantages outweigh the costs. Is the .22LR the ultimate round for every purpose? Not by a long shot. However, as a long-term survival round, it is very hard to beat!

I typically buy a few boxes of ammo each week, and over time, that adds up. I look at this caliber as a long-term investment, and long after I’ve expended my other calibers in a disaster scenario, I’ll still have .22LR in supply. My advice is to buy it when it’s available to you, as there is no guarantee how long it (or any other item these days) will be on the shelves. We’ve seen how panic buying can wipe out store shelves.

At The Range

As expected, reliability with the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 was superb. There was one misfire, which turned out to be a generic .22 round that I rechambered and it still would not fire. It turned out to be faulty ammo, rather than the pistol’s fault. In the end, the pistol’s reliability was perfect.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 with ammo and shooting gloves
Several types of ammo were used with the Mark IV, and all were reliable.

I ran several brands of ammunition through it, including CCI (the gold standard of .22 ammo), Aguila, Federal, and some other bulk pack ammo. Suffice to say that the 22/45 will likely run with anything that you can stuff into the magazines.

Regarding the magazines, as mentioned, the button on the side makes it nice to load them. When you pull down on the button, the spring tension is released so that feeding the rounds into the magazine is much easier. They are also fairly sturdy affairs and are likely to last a long time. I’m going to pick up a few more at GunMag Warehouse, as it’s always nice to have a few spares on hand.

Accuracy was, in my opinion, extremely good. The best group of the day that I shot was 2 ½ inches at 15 yards from the offhand position. Given the fact that I had a 25-mile-per-hour wind hitting me in the face when it was 40 degrees, I consider that to be pretty decent. Undoubtedly, the pistol is capable of better accuracy than I am, and under better conditions, I’ve no doubt that groups will improve. As it stands, that size of a group is pretty good for a pistol.

Target group using CCI 40 grain 22LR ammo
Accuracy was no problem, and the pistol is definitely more accurate than the author’s abilities.

At one point, my daughter wanted to try the Mark IV out, so I let her shoot a few magazines through it. She exclaimed, “It’s pretty quiet and there’s almost no recoil!”

I replied, “Well, that’s kind of the point.” The .22LR just seems to endear itself to shooters with no effort on its part whatsoever. Incidentally, she shot the Ruger quite well, turning in respectable groups.

Despite the inhospitable weather, I felt my mood brightening the more I shot the Mark IV. It’s just a very fun gun to shoot! The recoil is so light that it almost feels as though the pistol isn’t cycling properly, but rest assured, it is.

Shooting Ruger Mark IV 22/45 at the range
The pistol shoots so softly that it almost feels as though it’s not cycling.

The trigger is quite good; upon going through the takeup, there is a wall, followed by a very clean break. It’s not necessarily a “light” pull but is very crisp and predictable and should please all but the most discriminating shooters. Let’s face it, there will be complainers, but in my opinion, if you can’t make the Ruger trigger work for you, you probably have no business picking up a pistol anyway. As with most other pistol triggers, this one is likely to smooth up with use over time. And I can promise you, this pistol is going to see a lot more use in the future, as many range trips will be had.

Not only will I get more trigger time with the MK IV, but my family will as well, as some fun training time will be had by all.

If you’re in the market for a reasonably priced, accurate, comfortable pistol that you won’t go broke feeding, that has Ruger’s awesome reputation behind it, then you need to pick up a Ruger Mark IV 22/45. It will bring you years of enjoyment, as well as put a smile on your face.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 in 9mm

Springfield Armory has just introduced a 9mm version of their popular Garrison 1911 and it looks like a winner. Coming on the heels of the popular .45 ACP version, the Garrison is a quality, versatile 1911 platform with a relatively inexpensive price tag. TheFireArmGuy [YouTube channel] gives us the rundown, complete with range footage and field strip, in the video linked below.

The FireArmGuy gives us a quick rundown on the new Springfield Armory 1911 Garrison in 9mm. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

Let’s take a look at the specs before moving on:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 9+1
  • Recoil System: GI
  • Barrel: 5-inch forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp, 1:16
  • Overall Length: 8.6 inches
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 38 ounces
  • Sights: Low Profile Combat 3 Dot
  • Colors: Stainless Steel or Hot Salt Blued
  • MSRP: $899 Stainless Steel or $849 Blued
The 1911 Garrison in a Stainless Steel and Hot Salt Blued Finish.
The 1911 Garrison is available in a Stainless Steel or Hot Salt Blued Finish. (Springfield Armory)

Our host has the stainless-steel model, so we’ll move forward with that. The frame and slide are forged steel with diamond checkered thin line wood grips featuring an attractive Springfield Armory crossed cannons logo. The gun has a textured backstrap and the front of the grip is smooth.

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 grip and beavertail
The grips are of diamond checkered wood and the contoured grip safety has an extended beavertail. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

The contoured grip safety features an extended beavertail, and both the hammer and trigger are skeletonized. The extended thumb safety is not ambidextrous, being only on the left side of the frame.

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 3-dot sights
The gun has standard 3-dot sights. The top of the slide is matte finished to reduce glare. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

The rear sight is a Novak style low profile ramped set up with the post front sight. Both are adjustable. The stainless-steel finish is glossy on the flats and matte on the rounds, including on top of the slide to mitigate glare. The same glossy and matte pattern comes on the blued version. The Garrison has standard 1911 dimensions and disassembly.

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 glossy and matte finish
The rounded areas of the Garrison are matte finished, while the flat areas are glossy. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

The gun ships with one 9-round single stack stainless-steel magazine and a padded soft carrying case. You’d think they would include an extra mag but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 magazine
The Garrison ships with one nine-round stainless-steel magazine (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

Right out of the gate, he says the “overall shooting impressions are excellent. When I took this to the range…it was very, very nice. No recoil and it kept you on target.” The trigger breaks at about 4.5 pounds and is “So smooth, so light, and the reset is, like, nothing.”

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 trigger
As you might expect, the Garrison has a very nice 4.5 lb. trigger. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

He notes that shooting 9mm ammo from a full-size 1911 like the Garrison will really build your confidence as a shooter. “When you shoot 9mm out of a full-size handgun like this, it is so smooth.” The 9mm barrel is fully ramped and being a 70 series gun, it doesn’t have a firing pin block. “Makes it nice and smooth. Easy to handle.”

barrel
The Garrison features a fully ramped forged barrel. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

Smooth seems to be the operative word in this review. Not a bad thing to say about any firearm. He notes that lots of people love 1911s but want to shoot 9mm because of the increased magazine capacity, softer recoil, and cheaper ammo. Coupled with the 1911 trigger, “You just can’t beat it. It’s a good-looking and shooting handgun. So, if you’re one of those people, you’ll love the Garrison.”

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 takedown
The Garrison has standard 1911 dimensions and the same takedown procedure. (The FireArmGuy YouTube Channel)

Does the Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 look like a winner to you, especially at that price point? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Happy shooting y’all.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Lever Action Rifles: Why You Need One

I love lever action rifles. I just do. I’ve carried the same Marlin lever gun every deer season since 1978. It’s never given me a reason to switch to anything else. So, when I saw that Chris and Jake from 1911 Syndicate had a video called “Lever Actions — Why You Need One,” well, I couldn’t resist. The video linked below is partly an ode to the coolness and reliability of lever guns and partly a review of the Marlin Model 1894 CSBL chambered in .357 Magnum.

Lever action rifles are about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

They start with a rundown of the Marlin’s specs, so I’ll do the same:

Marlin 1894 CSBL

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum (also shoots .38 Special)
  • Capacity: The website says 6+1 but Chris says it holds 8+1 in .357 and 9+1 in .38
  • Barrel Length: 16.5 inches
  • Overall Length: 38.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs. 7.1 lbs. with the Leupold VX Freedom 1.5-4x scope
  • Barrel Twist Rate: 1/16
  • Price: Around $1000.00, which Chris and Jake say is “More than reasonable.”
Leupold scope on a rifle
Lever action rifles are known for cold weather reliability (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Note: The Leupold scope doesn’t look like that out of the box. It was Cerakoted to look like the one Chris Pratt had on his lever gun in one of the Jurassic Park movies. I don’t know which one. They all run together for me.

Speaking of Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park, it was that movie, and another called Wind River, that sparked Chris and Jake’s interest in lever guns. I totally get it. Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon is the primary reason I own a Beretta 92. You want what you want. And after hearing about Wind River, I want to see it now.

Anyway, Chris gives us a quick look at the origins of lever guns, starting with the 1860 Henry Rifle chambered in a .44 caliber rimfire, and transitioning to Marlins. He says of Marlin and Henry, “Those are the two big names. They’ve been around the longest.” I’m thinking he should have included Winchester there, but hey, it’s his video.

Chris and Jake from 1911 Syndicate
Chris and Jake from 1911 Syndicate on why lever guns rule. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Marlin was founded in 1870 by John Marlin, who previously worked at Colt during the Civil War. He started out making .22, .32, and .38 caliber derringers. He made his first rifle in 1875, based on the 1861 design of Charles Ballard. Appropriately, he called it the “Ballard Rifle.” It was apparently a good firearm and quite popular with shooters of the day.

The first Marlin lever action rifle appeared in 1881, chambered in .45-70 Gov’t. It was very successful and established Marlin in the lever action market. The Model 1894 was introduced, strangely enough, in 1894 and was available in .25-30 Winchester, 32-20 Winchester, .38-40, and .44-40. Chris says it was chambered in .357 Magnum and .38 Special, but he is mistaken since those cartridges were not introduced until 1935 and 1898, respectively.

1911 Syndicate aiming rifle
Lever guns are great for backcountry adventures. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Pop culture references aside, Chris and Jake also wanted to get into lever guns because of their reliability in cold weather. Lever guns have historically been popular in cold environments and have held up well. Chris says he found out that guns with side ejection ports, like the Marlins, are a little better in the cold than guns with a top ejection port. The latter are apparently more susceptible to freezing. I never thought about that, but perhaps that’s because the top ports tend to be more exposed to rain and ice? Maybe.

Lever Actions rifle with leupold scope and ammo saddle
Lever action rifles are versatile and fast. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Chris and Jake chose the 1894 CSBL because they wanted a gun that shared a cartridge with Jake’s newly purchased Korth .357 Magnum revolver on backcountry outings. They also considered a .45-70, never a bad choice, but the fact that a friend was willing to lend them this particular Marlin sealed the deal. I totally get that, too. One place they went just a bit wrong was they wanted that shared cartridge to be able to “put down a big animal if need be.” Chris says he feels like if he drills nine rounds of .357 Magnum into an animal, “if he gets me, he earned it.”

Well, maybe so, except they then talked to a Yellowstone Park Ranger who advised Jake to use the .357 on himself if encountered an angry grizzly. I was kind of thinking the same thing since my choice to protect myself from a grizzly would be .44 Magnum or .454 in the revolver and a hot .45-70 load in the lever gun. But that’s me. You do you.

marlin 1894 csbl
A lever gun can have you covered against a hostile grizzly…just not in .357 Magnum. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

But they understand that situation and the .357 will do fine against most anything else that wants to be unfriendly. Against aggressive mountain lions or black bears, they say, it’s “Probably gonna be awesome. Against a megalodon in the sea, which is like a [grizzly] bear on the ground, not gonna go so hot.”

But they love how the dude in Wind River apparently shoots a 500-grain 45-70 load that sounds pretty awesome. Chris says he confirmed that from some old-timers on the forums. Plus, he adds that “if Chris Pratt decides a .45-70 is what he’s gonna use to put down a T-Rex, well dammit, I want one also.” Personally, I’m in full agreement on that.

Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park with a 45-70 lever action rifle
Whether it’s bears or velociraptors, the 45-70 has your back. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Chris does admit that he wouldn’t shoot a 45-70 much, but he says that the Marlin 1894 loaded with .38 Special “shoots like a 10/22,” and, “.357, through this gun, shoots like a 5.56.” That does sound nice. “It is super, super controllable,” he says. Jake adds, “I gotta be honest here, I want a .45-70.”

Chris makes a good point about why lever guns are so fun. When you played cowboys and Indians as a kid, what gun did both sides likely have? A lever gun of some kind. What was your first BB gun? For most of us, it was a Daisy lever action, probably a Red Ryder. We’ve had them all our lives and they are just fun guns all the way around. In fact, this whole thing reminds me of my colleague David Reeder’s article on Tactical Lever Guns. You should check it out.

taking aim with marlin 1894 csbl
The sound of a good lever gun’s action is a treat for the ears. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Finally, we get to reliability. Chris and Jake say they’ve heard some things about the technology being old and complicated, and that can be true. But some time on the forums has convinced them that if gunsmiths in the 1890s can make them reliably, modern materials and techniques can do the same. You can learn a lot on the right forum.

I think part of the reputation for unreliability comes from the unfortunate period when Marlin was owned by Remington. Those guns were just garbage for the last few years of that arrangement. But I have high hopes for the Marlin brand now that Ruger is running the show. I think Marlin will be back to its old self.

marlin 1894 csbl
Seriously, you know you want one. (1911 Syndicate YouTube Channel)

Chris concludes by saying he thinks the lever gun is “a great option for cold weather, jungle, you know, on the island running from velociraptors and everything.” At which point Jake works the action, producing that lovely sound. If you don’t know that sound, man, you need to go get yourself a lever action. ‘Nuff said.

 

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