Archive for the 'AR-15s' Category

5 Most Produced Military Rifles Ever

BY Herschel Smith
7 hours, 54 minutes ago


The writer has it at (5) Lee-Enfield, (4) AR-15/M-16, (3) Mauser Gewehr 98 / Karabiner 98k, (2) Mosin-Nagant, and (1) AK-47 and derivatives.

They don’t do much in the way of producing evidence for their assertions and I have my doubts.  For example, who is to know how they counted AR-15s/M-16s?  If you sum the total deployed to SE Asia, Iraq, Afghanistan, other armies across the globe, and AR-15 and variants, including upper and lower receivers sold separately, would you have come up with their number of 20 million?  I seriously doubt it.  I think there have been more than 20 million full ARs sold in America just in the civilian market alone.

However, it’s worth nothing that the gun that was built for conscripts (AK) who didn’t know how to shoot and didn’t want to mechanically understand the gun has been quite successful.

That’s one observation that should be made, of course, that genius Eugene Stoner designed his rifle for the professional soldier who needed MOA or sub-MOA performance, and wanted to understand how to work on his rifle.  As it is said, the AR is an MOA gun, while the AK is a minute-of-man gun.

Furthermore, America was built, at least up until the 1980s or so, with garage, backyard and farm mechanics working on cars, gun, and machines of all sorts, repairing them, cleaning them, and making them better.  Eugene Stoner knew this, I suspect, and didn’t worry too much that it was “too professional” of a rifle for the professional soldier.

From my point of view, Stoner understood the AK about as well as Kalashnikov did. Watch and tell me I’m wrong.

Here are the preceding two videos of Stoner and Kalashnikov at the range (Link 1 and Link 2).  One day I’ll embed the entire Eugene Stoner tape library for viewing.

Happy 100th Birthday Eugene Stoner!

1 week, 6 days ago

We wonder if Herschel has made the pilgrimage to Stoner’s gravesite. OTOH, we probably shouldn’t joke about this; avoiding a pay cut from Herschel seems prudent right now.

Source:  Includes several videos and info on 8 or so AR model variants. One of the videos is a very interesting interview about his work and the weapons he developed.

Indiana’s own Eugene Morrison Stoner cut his teeth in small arms as a Marine Corps armorer in World War II and left the world some of the most iconic black rifles in history.

Born on Nov. 22, 1922, in the small town of Gosport, just outside of Bloomington, Indiana, Stoner moved to California with his parents and graduated from high school in Long Beach. After a short term with an aircraft company in the area that later became part of Lockheed, the young man enlisted in the Marines and served in the South Pacific in the Corps’ aviation branch, fixing, and maintaining machine guns in squadrons forward deployed as far as China.

Leaving the Marines as a corporal after the war, Stoner held a variety of jobs in the aviation industry in California before arriving at ArmaLite, a tiny division of the Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation, where he soon made his name in a series of ArmaLite Rifle designs, or ARs, something he would later describe as “a hobby that got out of hand.”

Can A 1/9 twist AR-15 Stabilize Heavier Bullets?

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 1 day ago

Our buddy Andy at Practical Accuracy has some real world data for you.  I think the case is closed, at least for me.

One corollary point is that the only real expert is you after shooting thousands of rounds down range.  Use your own gun, your own tuning, your ammunition, your eyesight, and your optics, and spend time at the range.  There are no two pieces of equipment exactly alike.

458 SOCOM vs 5.56: Big Bore Ballistics in a Standard AR-15

2 months ago


The standard AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO is truly America’s rifle and is a symbol of American ingenuity and freedom. Although the 5.56 NATO has proven itself in the jungles of Vietnam and deserts of Iraq, some gun owners wanted something more…

They wanted more stopping power, better terminal ballistics, and a rifle cartridge that could be used for both home defense and big game hunting.

The 458 SOCOM cartridge is the answer that these gun owners were looking for, as its heavier bullets can deliver bone-crushing kinetic energy that can stop feral hogs or whitetail in their tracks.

However, is investing in a big bore 458 SOCOM upper receiver really worth it? Or is it better to stick with the AR-15 platform mainstay, the 5.56 NATO?

In this article we will help you answer these questions and more as we compare the 458 vs 556.

what is the difference between 5.56 and 458 SOCOM?

The primary differences between 458 SOCOM vs 556 is bullet diameter each cartridge fires and the intended engagement ranges. The 458 SOCOM fires a 0.458” diameter bullet that is intended for close-range engagements while the 5.56 fires a 0.224” diameter bullet that excels at long-range shots.



Muzzle Velocity and Kinetic Energy

When it comes to muzzle velocity, there are only a handful of rounds that are faster than the 5.56 NATO. However, the 5.56 cannot keep up with the 458 SOCOM in terms of muzzle energy.

For this example, we will compare the Hornady Frontier 55 gr FMJ (M193 clone) for 5.56 and the SBR Ammunition 300 gr Barnes TTSX load for 458 SOCOM.

At the muzzle, the 5.56 round is blazing down range at 3,240 fps compared to 1,835 fps for the 458 bullet. Although this is only one example, essentially every 5.56 factory load will have a higher muzzle velocity than the 458 SOCOM since the 5.56 is firing lighter bullets.

However fast the 5.56 bullet might be, the 458 SOCOM is using a considerably heavier bullet that carries a lot more muzzle energy. At the muzzle, the 458 SOCOM bullet delivers a whopping 2,243 ft-lbs of kinetic energy compared to 1,282 ft-lbs for the 5.56.

Although the 458 SOCOM round has almost double the kinetic energy at the muzzle, the round quickly loses fps and ft-lbs of energy as it travels downrange due to its bullet design. By 300 yards the 300 grain bullet has gone subsonic and by 600 yards it carries around 500 ft-lbs of energy. To put that into perspective, that is still more than a 45 ACP +P round has at the muzzle, but it illustrates the primary difference between 5.56 and 458 SOCOM. In contrast, the 5.56 55 grain bullet goes subsonic around the 700-yard marker.

The 458 SOCOM was clearly designed for close-range shots at self-defense distances where it can use its massive kinetic energy advantage to devastating effect. While the 5.56 had long-range shooting and marksmanship in mind for longer engagement distances.

There’s a lot of data at the source.

Fixing Your AR-15’s Headspace

BY Herschel Smith
2 months ago

With a good manufacturer you shouldn’t have to worry about this.  It could be the BCG if there’s a head space problem.  Otherwise, send the gun back and demand your money back.

Beginners Guide to the AR-15

2 months, 1 week ago

Many Traditional Americans have bought an AR-15 recently but have used it little or not at all. (Ahem, you know who you are!) The first thing to do is read the whole manual that came with your weapon. The manual should have a parts list diagram. This will be important info providing proper terminology. Most say what to do next is to take it partially apart (field strip), clean it, and reassemble it, even before shooting. You should at least field strip it and wipe down the excess manufacturer’s oil.

There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of information about the AR-15 platform on the web. Most of it is useless. It’s super high-speed operators, the bulk of whom are total jerks, trying to impress and one-up each other, whose language and decorum are despicable, which doesn’t help the average family with their homesteading, church, or team-building needs.

The object should be to train with the AR platform to get beyond your hunting knowledge. Your women folk also need to learn to run the gun.

Get very familiar with the weapon platform, how it performs, its capabilities, and its uses. Training with an AR is different than hunting; the platform is designed primarily for defense. That’s why you bought it, right!?!

Well, you need practice in all phases; handling and manipulation, including loading/unloading/reloading mags, safety, sling, sights, how and when to use the “ping pong paddle” – bolt catch/release lever, safety positions, the six-position buttstock, learning/running drills, shooting static/moving targets, shooting while you’re moving, etc.

You can see how this is definitively not a bolt gun and not like hunting! The time to learn your AR isn’t when your family is in trouble but before.

Some background reading is here: The AR15 as the Rifleman’s Weapon.

This video is pretty good at showing terminology and the basics of manipulation.

Next: how to field strip and clean your AR-15.

John Lovell at Warrior Poet Society is the rare exception. Instead of being a rude, know-it-all tough guy, he’s an experienced action guy with the heart of a teacher. Here’s his How To Shoot an AR-15/M-4 Carbine video, including some step-by-step written instructions.

In this video, we learn a wonderful beginner’s shooting drill. The reason for three shots is, again, defense, not hunting. I like that he teaches to get the hits on target first and, with practice, increase the rapidity with which you can run the drill. When proficient, increase the distance from the target. Later, add mag reload. This is also a fantastic handgun basic training practice. Found at this channel with other good vids.

I’m a proponent of the idea that every adult, 12 years and up, should have at least basic proficiency with every weapon type in your household. A father can determine if children are mature enough to begin serious training, but they should be training in their youth, boys, and girls.

Readers, please weigh in with beginner to helpful intermediate knowledge, books, channels, links and etc. Thanks.

Why The AR-15 Is The Most Popular Rifle In America

2 months, 1 week ago

Housekeeping Note: Herschel is offline this week. We’re certain that the quality of the posts will suffer, but the quality of the discussion in the comments doesn’t have to!


…After the American experience in Korea, where servicemen faced massed assault from Chinese forces, it was decided that the World War II workhorse M1 Garand rifle was no longer adequate; its low capacity and lack of full automatic fire hamstrung U.S. troops.

The Pentagon wanted a new rifle. Around the same time, there was a push among NATO members to standardize a rifle caliber to simplify wartime logistics. American design philosophies dominated both, and the Army’s parochial Ordnance Corps dominated the discussion on design. Ordnance Corps officers clung to the popular myth of the heroic American rifleman, who wins the day with a few well-aimed, long-ranged shots from a full-power rifle.

Thus, the M14 was born, as well as the new NATO bullet, 7.62x51mm. But everyone soon discovered the difficulty of controlling full-caliber rifles on full-auto; 7.62 NATO weapons quickly turned into anti-aircraft guns in longer automatic bursts, rendering the feature ineffective. These experiences were supported by the results of Project SALVO, a Pentagon research project to develop next-generation infantry weapons. SALVO concluded that a smaller bullet traveling at high velocity would be as lethal, if not more so, than big calibers like 7.62 NATO; the SALVO report recommended that the Pentagon should adopt a little-known gun called the AR-15, designed by ArmaLite engineer Eugene Stoner, and based off his earlier file design for the AR-10.

The AR-15 was unlike anything seen before: It was constructed of forged aluminum and plastics, used a direct impingement gas operating system, and was chambered in the new 5.56X45mm cartridge. It was the antithesis of the M14. Naturally, the Ordnance Corps hated it, and moved to kill the project by resorting to testing practices and emulation that were ultimately unfair to the AR-15. The weapon languished in design committee as Army traditionalists butted heads with Robert McNamara and his RAND Corporation  “whiz kids.”

The article goes on to discuss the interesting history of the AR-15 type platform.

Can You Mix & Match Bolt-Carrier Groups?

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 2 weeks ago

This all may be a bit overdone in my opinion.  Drop a BCG in and run the gun.  If you have problems, note that and get another BCG.  Well made guns will work right.

I like Battle Arms Development BCGs and Radian Raptor charging handles.  The two taken together make the parts feel like glass.

But not all BCGs are created equal.

Finding The Correct Barrel Twist Rate

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago


The rate of the rifling twist inside a rifle barrel would seem to be mostly a gun thing as opposed to an ammunition thing. However, for ammunition to shoot accurately, the bullet must be stabilized, and for a bullet to be stabilized, the rifling rate-of-twist must be compatible with the bullet’s length and velocity. This means that twist rate is very important to ammunition, and it is why the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) establishes standards for twist rates as they relate to arms and ammunition.

This is a good thing. It’s why when you purchase ammunition for your firearm, you can expect that ammunition to shoot at least reasonably well. Most ammunition manufacturers make ammunition to SAAMI specifications, which means the bullets—at their launch velocity—will mesh well with the rifling-twist rate of the gun for which you bought them. It can, however, be a bad thing, as history has shown.

In 1955, Remington introduced the .244 Rem. cartridge. It fired a .244-caliber bullet and had a stipulated rifling-twist rate of one turn in 12 inches (1:12). The cartridge worked great with bullets in the 55- to 90-grain weight range. However, that same year Winchester introduced the .243 Win. (I’m betting Winchester had a spy inside Remington.) The .243 Win. also fired a .244-caliber bullet, but Winchester very wisely specified a 1:10-inch twist rate for the rifling. This meant Winchester’s 6 mm cartridge could handle heavier—longer—bullets of 100 grains. Both cartridges became popular, but the .243 Win. won the battle even though it was not quite as fast as the .244. Why? Twist rate. Eight years later Remington tried to save its .244 by reintroducing it as the 6 mm Rem. and tightening the twist rate from 1:12- to 1:9-inch. This allowed the cartridge to better compete with the .243 Win. But, it was too late.

Remington has always seemed a bit late to the game.

Almost the exact same thing happened to Remington again in 2008. That’s the year Hornady introduced the 6.5 Creedmoor, which fired a .264-caliber bullet out of a cartridge case similar in size to the .260 Rem. Remington had introduced the .260 in 1997 and it had become a very popular cartridge for long-range target shooting and hunting. However, Remington stipulated a 1:9-inch twist rate for the .260, while Hornady stipulated a 1:8-inch twist for the Creedmoor. Because of the Creedmoor’s ability to handle longer, more aerodynamic bullets, Remington got twisted out of the conversation again.

I’m not really sure that’s completely why – I think free bore had something to do with it too, maybe a lot more things.  The folks at Hornady don’t appear to like free bore at all and want the bullet as close to the leade as possible, just at the rifling, in order to avoid bullet deformation.  That’s one reason they don’t like the 300 Win Mag (stock ammo, not reloaders) and do like their own 300 PRC.

While all this was going on, developments with what is now the most popular rifle cartridge in America were struggling through another twisted situation. In 1964, the .223 Rem.—yep, here we go with Remington yet again—was introduced. It was initially famous as the cartridge of the AR-15 and, in 5.56×45 mm form (which isn’t identical) as the cartridge of the military’s M16. The .223 Rem. had a specified twist rate of 1:12 inches, which was about perfect for a 55-grain bullet at 3,200 fps.

But, in the early 1980s, the 5.56 NATO cartridge was standardized. Externally, the cartridge-case dimensions of the .223 Rem. and the 5.56 NATO are identical, but the chambers are different, and the 5.56 NATO is loaded to higher pressures. Also, it is a military cartridge for which there are no SAAMI specifications. Initially standardized with a 62-grain bullet, 5.56 NATO rifles have a much faster 1:7-inch twist rate. This allowed the 5.56 NATO to stabilize longer bullets that were heavier and shot flatter. Aficionados of the .223 Rem. caught on and started re-barreling .223 Rem. rifles with faster-twist barrels and loading their own ammo to take advantage of newer and longer bullets.

However, most ammunition for the .223 Rem. is still built to work with the original 1:12-inch twist rate. Why? Well, there are many, many thousands of .223 Rem. rifles out there with a 1:12-inch twist. If you have one of those and purchased ammo loaded with a bullet that needs a 1:8-inch twist, you’ll struggle to hit a snuff can at 100 yards. But, some ammo makers are now offering .223 Rem. ammo that needs the faster twist.

Rifle manufacturers are doing the same. For example, Savage initially used the slower twist rate for the .223 Rem., but by 1995 all Savage 110 rifles in .223 Rem. had a 1:9-inch twist. In 2007, Savage added a 1:7-inch-twist-rate barrel to several models, but when it entered the AR-15 market in 2017, the company settled on the 1:8-inch twist for its MSRs in .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO.

Of course, factory .223 ammo designed for a 1:12-inch twist will shoot just fine in the faster 1:8- or 1:7-inch twist barrels and in 5.56 NATO rifles. (Do not shoot 5.56 NATO ammo in rifles chambered for the .223 Rem.) This is one of the reasons many modern AR-15-style rifles are chambered for the 5.56 NATO instead of the .223 Rem., and it’s also why many manufacturers now load 5.56 NATO ammo and sell it commercially. Some manufacturers also cut .223-caliber chambers to the .223 Wylde chamber to allow for the firing of both .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO ammunition—more accurately in the case of .223 Rem. and safely in the case of 5.56 NATO.

Cartridge designers have now finally learned and are specifying fast twist rates when new cartridges are introduced. Just look at the 22 Nosler, 224 Valkyrie, 6 mm ARC, .277 SIG Fury; the list goes on. Today, longer, more aerodynamic bullets pushed through fast-twist barrels shoot flatter and hit harder at distance.

Tim Harmsen at Military Arms Channel did a video of an M-16 shooting in a 1:12 twist gun into ballistics gel, and other media, and it seemed to outperform the shorter barrels with tighter twist.

Anyway, it’s ironic that this discussion occurred the next day after we touched on these issues.  Also, in my AR-15 category there is a lot of discussion on ballistics and twist rate.  I won’t recapitulate it here.

Take all of this for what it’s worth.  He speaks it as gospel, and I suspect not much of it is.

I will remark that I very much like the performance of the 6mm ARC.  It’s a pure pleasure to shoot, without recoil noticeably stronger than the 5.56 and yet with vastly superior results.

Accuracy Is All About Testing And Practice

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago

Our friend Andy at Practical Accuracy has given us an awesome video on the use of 55 gr. bullets in a 7:1 twist barrel.

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