Long Guns & Rifles

The Latest in AR Trends, and My Thoughts on Each (for whatever it’s worth…)


Like any industry, the firearm industry has its trends, and even its share of fads.  This is especially true in the tactical, or “tacticool” community, where things change as fast and as often as Kate Upton changes outfits for the SI Swimsuit edition.  Hey Now…

Tactical, “Tacticool” Trends:

The Navy’s MK 12.  A few years back, the MK 12, all variants and copies, were hot.  With an 18 inch barrel, the MK 12 is short enough for most CQB work and doesn’t compromise balance, maneuverability or handling too much.  Yet, the slightly longer barrel length (when compared to a “standard” AR, with a 16 inch barrel) lends itself to a rifle length gas system, (for lower perceived recoil and better reliability with a wider spectrum of loads), allows for a longer sight radius (the distance between front and rear sights) which aides long range accuracy.  The longer barrel also allows for a longer powder burn time before the bullet exists the muzzle, which improves bullet velocity, and terminal ballistics.  I get it.  Too bad anything MK 12 was priced through the roof, and for whatever reason, 18 inch barrel ARs have yet to really catch on.  (Though perhaps this is itself a currently changing trend.  See trends in competition.)

Today it’s Short-Barreled Rifles (SBRs).  SB-whaaat?  In the eyes of the Law, any rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches is considered an SBR.  If legal in your state, you must pay the BATF a special tax of around ~$200 to own one.  That’s $200 beyond the cost of the rifle.  To get around the official SBR designation and still have a “tacticool”, SBR-like rifle, it’s popular to use a 14.5 inch barrel and a permanently attached muzzle device long enough to bring the overall barrel length to just over 16 inches.  (Permanently attached muzzle devices are considered part of the barrel and counted when measuring barrel length.)  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Sure, if your job is clearing houses, dwellings, or caves, then it makes total sense.  Otherwise, for most civilians, and unless you just want it because, “it’s cool”, I don’t think the SBR makes much sense.

When you shorten the barrel of a gun, any gun, there is less time for gun powder to burn before the bullet exits the muzzle.  Less powder burn time results in less bullet velocity.  Less bullet velocity results in less kinetic energy, or terminal ballistics.  Bullet velocity also has an effect on bullet drop, and Point of Impact (POI).  It’s simple physics, and this is one case, where less definitely isn’t more.  When talking 55 – 77 grain .22 caliber bullets, I’ll take as much oomph as possible, thank you very much…  I didn’t even get into the fact that barrel length largely dictates gas system length.  Gas system length affects both perceived recoil and reliability, or at least the flexibility to reliably run various loads of ammo.  (That’s why a lot of carbines specify the strict use of full power, 5.56 ammo. ARs with carbine length gas systems may not function reliably with lighter powered .223 ammunition.)  Also, the shorter sight radius associated with shorter barrels makes it harder to be accurate on long range targets.  The slightest change in sight picture or sight alignment at the gun can translate into big changes on the target.  This gets magnified as target range increases.  Finally, you may want to change-out muzzle devices (if legal in your state.)  That’s a more difficult task when the muzzle device is permanently attached.  Yes, we’re splitting hairs, but to me, that’s too much compromise to save 1 – 1.25 inches in overall length when compared to a “standard” 16 inch barrel with 1 inch muzzle device.  (And honestly, as a civilian, how often will you or I be clearing rooms, or otherwise engaged in a CQB situation with our ARs??… Hopefully Never!)  ARs with the “standard” 16 inch barrel, or slightly longer 18 -20 inch barrels work great for most civilians.

Trends in Barrel Twist Rates.  It’s like the AT&T commercial, faster is better.  If you plan to routinely shoot heavier bullets, like 77 grain match bullets, then faster rifling, like a 1:7, or 1:8 twist rate will be a better choice.  In general, the faster twist rate gives you more flexibility in terms of the ammo you can accurately fire from your AR.  Options are good.  However, don’t rush to throw out all those ARs with 1:9 twist barrels, especially if you’re predominantly punching paper with with 55 – 62 grain bullets.  You never know, that 1:9 twist might just surprise you with some heavier bullets.

Trends in Action Type.  DI still works just fine.  Not long ago you couldn’t get away from the Direct Impingement (DI) Vs. Piston debate.  Bottom line: Shooting generates heat, and guns are mechanical devices.  The heat has to go somewhere, and all mechanical devices require some level of cleaning and maintenance to reliably function properly.  The military has been using select fire DI guns for over 50 years.  For most civilians, with semi-auto ARs, DI is just fine.

Trends in Gas System Lengths, and Buffers. Rifle Vs. Mid Vs. Carbine?  H, H2 or H3 Carbine Buffer?  Carbines can be picky.  Rifles with carbine length gas systems result in higher perceived recoil when compared to rifles with mid and rifle length gas systems.  Also, if the gas system and the buffer aren’t paired well, it could result in reliability issues, or at least limit the ammo you can run.  On a rifle with a carbine length gas system, you might need to run nothing but full power 5.56 MIL spec ammo for reliability.  This may or may not be an issue for you, as it’s pertinent to someone building a rifle, but at least now you know.  If you buy something off the rack, be confident your manufacturer did their job, and put the right parts together.

Trends in Competition Shooting.  3-Gun competition is hot . 3-Gun specific ARs are Smokin’, and with good reason.  ARs have been hugely popular on the competition circuit for many years.  This is nothing new.  This popularity is a result of the AR’s reliability, ease of use, low recoil, standard 30 round count, the plethora of available accessories, and the rifles inherent good accuracy, which can be made outstanding.  What is (relatively) new, is the action shooting sport of 3-Gun, and man has it caught on!  Everything that makes the AR perfect for more traditional bullseye competitions, plus the AR’s well balanced, highly maneuverable, quick handling characteristics make it perfect for high action, run and gun type sports like 3-Gun.  Stag Arms was first to recognize this trend, design, build and market a rifle just for the needs of 3-Gun competitors.  Rock River Arms, DPMS, Bushmaster and many others have since followed suit.  Most factory 3-Gun ARs have 18 inch, upgraded or match grade barrels, upgraded triggers and other components aimed to give you the edge in competition.

Trends in Hunting.  In many states, it is not legal to hunt deer, or larger sized game with the the 5.56 NATO, .223 Remington as they are considered too light, or small, for ethically harvesting such animals.  That said, those cartridges are just about perfect for hunting predators, like coyote and fox, whose numbers seem to be exploding everywhere across the country.  (Read into that however you like…)  Many manufacturers have models designed and marketed specifically to the wants and needs of predator hunters.

Trends Caliber Selection.  We Americans love our big, 30 cals.  Anyone else notice how much more popular the .300s have recently become in the industry rags?  On my last trip to the newsstand, the .300 Blackout, .300 Whisper and the [smaller] 6.8SPC seemed to be everywhere.  Hmmmm, I wonder if the 5.56 ammo shortage has anything to do with this??  If you do go with something different consider ammo costs, availability and what NUTNFANCY calls SWAC, for Size And Weight Constraints.  This isn’t a big deal if you’re shooting close to “base”, or going afield with 5 – 30 rounds for a day of hunting.  However, if your lugging your AR, along with hundreds of rounds of ammo for long periods of time, over long distances or over harsh terrain, it’s a valid consideration.  Honestly, and unless your using your AR to hunt deer and larger sized game, the standard 5.56 or even .223 is just fine.  The 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington cartridges are low recoiling / easy shooting rounds.  They are effective defensive rounds.  They are relatively inexpensive to shoot as prices are coming back down, and they are relatively in abundance, making them easy to find just about anywhere in the United States.

Trends in Color.  Like household television sets from the 70s, color is in!  Sure, black is timeless, you can’t go wrong black, and the AR-15 is known as “The Black Rifle”.  However, “Pimp My Ride” style paint jobs and finishes have finally hit the AR-15 scene; and actually the entire gun scene.  Whether it’s done through changing the furniture, adding accessories or painting, adding color to your AR-15 is big.  Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green and OD Green are some of the more popular choices, though I’ve seen hot pink, tiger stripes and various camo patterns.  Manufacturers have taken note and in some cases offer rifles or parts with special color coatings.  DuraCoat, Cerakote and even the good ole rattle can let you get the job done after purchase.

Trends in Accessories.  Good stocks, especially collapsible stocks, triggers, tactical lights, lasers and pistol grips are always “IN”.  Since popular thinking recently changed on how you hold the handguard of your AR to drive or control the rifle, the once extremely popular Vertical Grip (VG) is now “OUT”.  In a similar vein, the once very popular quad rail is also “OUT”, replaced by slimmer, lighter and smoother handguards.  (Though if you do run a quad rail, rail covers – in various colors – are definitely in.)  There are also most definitely trends in muzzle devices.  The best device for recoil control and minimizing AR Bark seems to constantly change.  Honestly, run what you like, and what works for you and how you use your AR.  Don’t be afraid to go against popular thinking.  Trends and fads be damned!

So there you have it.  You’re now up to speed on the latest and greatest in AR Trends.

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

So, you decided to get an AR-15.  Good decision!  You will not be disappointed.  Now, should you build it yourself or buy it off the rack?  I mean, it’s a grown-up version of Legos, and called “Barbie for Men” for a reason.  (Though I know some women building their own AR-15s.)

Off The Rack: The case for buying your AR-15 off the rack of the LGS (Local Gun Store):


Stag Arms Model 3G

  • Warranty.  If a factory warranty is important to you, then buy an AR-15 off the rack of your local LGS.  Start slapping parts together yourself, and you might just void any and all warranties, even if the parts all come from the same manufacturer.  Be sure to check the fine print.  At best, you’ll be managing multiple warranties, and be subject to vendor finger pointing.
  • You Almost Can’t Go Wrong.  The AR-15 is currently the most popular rifle in America.  There are so many reputable, quality manufacturers producing AR-15s that it’s hard to find a bad one, at almost any price point.  Stick with a well known name brand with a good reputation for quality, and you should have a reliable AR-15.
  • Fit and finish.  Vendors that manufacture parts and assemble complete rifles in-house can control more variables.  This theoretically allows them to produce parts with tighter tolerances for a better fit, and more consistent finishes in terms of color, parkerizing, anodizing, oil, cosmoline, etc.  There might be slight fit or finish variations if you build your own with parts from different vendors.  Additionally, and without getting too detailed, there are mil-spec and non mil-spec (aka commercial) grade AR-15s, and AR-15 components.  If you buy a quality AR off the rack, don’t lose any sleep over the distinction.  If you build your own, pay attention to what you order as mil-spec and commercial parts aren’t always interchangeable.  Buffer tubes and buttstocks are the prime example. 
    • One nice thing about the mil-spec designation, is that it’s an industry wide reference standard.  This standard gives one confidence that a collection of mil-spec parts from high quality vendors will successfully fit together, and function reliably.
  • Simplicity & Time to the Firing Line. It doesn’t get much easier or faster than, walk in, lay your money down, and walk out with a fully assembled, AR-15.  Good-To-Go.  Pick one in-stock and you can be target shooting in just hours. Choose to build, and you could be waiting on parts for months, and months, and months…  With a build you need to source every part yourself, and if you don’t do your research, some parts that come standard on a fully assembled AR-15 can be easily overlooked.  Good examples are things like the lower parts kit (LPK), the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG), sights, charging handle, magazines, etc.…
    BCM Charging Handle

    BCM Charging Handle


    Stag Arms LPK






  • Friendly LGS Charisma & Customer Service.  Some things just can’t be bought over the Internet or through a catalog, like good banter with the LGS counter guy.  Seriously, if you are new to shooting, or to the AR-15 platform, there is something to be said for being able to bring your rifle back to the store.  Support and advice might not be as easily forthcoming with an Internet or catalog based build.
  • Cost.  Like the stock market or the price of gold, AR cost is currently in flux.

Before December 2012, making the decision to build or buy an AR-15 on cost alone was almost a “no-brainer”.  Basic AR-15s were in the $800-900 range.  There was almost no way build one of similar quality for less, especially when you added in the cost of the specialized tools necessary.  Higher-end AR-15s, like the Stag 3G, were in the $1,400 range, and an outstanding value at that!  (I priced that Stag 3G part-by-part, and couldn’t build the exact same rifle for less.)

Then tragedy struck.  Politicians and the media reacted (illogically in many cases).  Ban fears peaked.  AR-15 demand rose sky-high.  The law of supply and demand sent prices through the roof.  That was if you could find one.  For an 8-12 week period, an AR-15, (any AR-15), was literally worth more than a few ounces of shiny yellow metal.  In gun stores across the country there were none to be found.  (That $1,400 Stag 3G jumped to $2,600 – >$3K.  Plain Jane ARs owned the $1,400 – 1,600 price point.)  At the height of the run on ARs, it easily became more cost effective to build your own, even though the price of parts also went up, and even with the added cost of the specialized tools.

Thankfully, as of mid-summer 2013, cooler heads are starting to prevail.  Prices are coming down, almost hitting that point where it’s again more cost effective to buy off the rack.  Though the AR-15 may never be as affordable as it was before November – December 2012.

The case for building your own AR-15:


Basic AR-15 Builders Kit without Lower Receiver

  • Ya Get What You Need.  You Get What You Want.  Nothing you Don’t.  When you build your own AR-15, you’re not paying for parts you’re going to replace, and it’s common for AR-15 owners to make changes to rifle form and/or function.
    Geissele S3G Trigger

    Geissele S3G Trigger

    Vltor AEBK-MG EMOD-M Kit FGrn-1

    Vltor Collapsible Buttstock Kit

    For example, young shooters and shorter stature folks need a shorter length of pull, (the distance from the end of the buttstock to the trigger).  Likewise, people with smaller hands tend to prefer smaller, thinner pistol grips.  The opposite is usually true for taller folks.  With that in mind, a collapsible buttstock (where legal so know your state laws), or a different pistol grip will allow you to better fit the AR-15 to your body.  It’s also likely that in the never ending quest for accuracy, you’ll drop in a new trigger or install a free floated handguard.  You might want fold down backup iron sights (BUIS), or those fancy offset versions.  (Hot-rodding ARs is hugely popular.)  When you build your AR-15, instead of just getting, (and paying for), whatever the manufacturer chose to include on an off the rack rifle, you can hand pick every one of the parts to meet your requirements and wants.

  • Higher Quality Parts for Your Dollars.  You won’t save money building an AR-15 over buying off the rack, even at mid-summer 2013 prices.  However, for the same money, you will likely end up with a better overall rifle, made from higher grade components.  (Do not skimp on parts If you build your own.)
  • Knowledge is Power. Put it together bit by bit, and once done, you’ll know exactly what each part does, where it goes, how it fits together, and how the whole rifle works.  The knowledge you gain by building an AR-15 yourself is empowering, rewarding and practical.  You’ll learn solutions for commonly known conditions. For example, there is usually some level of play between the upper and lower receiver groups.  This is normal, and should not affect reliability or accuracy.  However, for those seeking near perfection, there is an under-a-dollar, O-ring fix that eliminates this play.  Likewise, all guns are mechanical devices.  At some point, on any mechanical device, somethin’s gonna go.  When this happens to your rifle or one of your buddies’, you’re gonna be the guy who knows how to fix it.  Same at upgrade time, you’re the guy that’s going to help.  When you build your own, you start to become a Go-To, Subject Matter Expert.
  • Satisfaction & Pride. Like anything else, there’s a certain sense of personal satisfaction and pride that comes from building your own AR-15.
  • Custom Cool Factor.  In addition to everything listed above, though no less important, when you build your own AR-15, you end up with a completely custom rifle, built to your liking, tastes and fit for your purposes.  You’ll have something unique.  Certainly something you can’t just pull off the rack at the LGS.  That’s cool!

Anyway, that’s my take.  Let me know what you think.  Did you build your own or buy one?

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

The AR-15 is currently the most popular rifle in United States of America.


A Colt variant of the AR-15
Photo courtesy of Colt

The AR-15 conversation?  These days you can’t mention the AR without getting one of three responses from the non-gun crowd:

  1. Why does anyone need that?
  2. What are you getting ready for war?, and finally (my favorite)
  3. Isn’t that an assault weapon??!

Without getting political, my quick responses are as follows:

  1. Take a look around.  This isn’t a country of need.  Besides, “need” is a horrible argument against anything. ‘Nuff said on that one…
  2. Not necessarily, but I bet you’ll be knockin’ on my door if [when??] the shit finally does hit the fan.
  3. Invariably the person telling me the AR-15 is an assault weapon is someone with very little, to zero, firearms knowledge or experience.  They’ve typically never had firearms training, don’t hunt, don’t target shoot and don’t even see the value of guns for self defense.  Additionally, most of the folks frowning on civilian ownership of the AR-15 can’t define an assault weapon as outlined by the Federal Ban that became law in 1994 under Bill Clinton.  Firearms safety has been drilled into my head since I was 5 years old.  I’ve been shooting for 35 years.  Now someone who knows nothing about guns is going to tell me what guns I can and can’t own – mostly because of how they look.  Isn’t that completely un-American, against everything this Country was founded upon?!  (Look for a future post to cover pieces of the original “Firearms Assault Weapons Ban” from 1994, with commentary on why many of the provisions were, and remain, completely ridiculous.)  So then, with that out of the way…

Here are some great reasons why the AR-15 has tremendous civilian appeal:

  1. Military & Law Enforcement Heritage – Let’s face it, some folks just like what the military and law enforcement community use.  Why?   Because it’s a known quantity.  The thinking is, hey, if it’s good enough to pass military testing, selection and use, with a proven, successful track record, then it’s definitely good enough for anything I might run into as a civilian. Put another way, Military and LE use of the AR-15 / M16 platform prove it to be an extremely reliable and effective rifle.  They wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t.  Plus, some people just like what is ‘tacticool‘ – the tactical, cool stuff used by military and police.
  2. Historical Significance & Collectability – Per my previous post in this series (click here if you missed it), variants of the M16, all select fire derivatives of the semi-auto only AR-15,have served active duty in the U.S. Military longer than any other rifle in history – and still continue to serve.  Hell, a version of the M16 killed the most wanted terrorist in the World.  That’s quite a track record and claim to fame.  For most, the AR-15 is the closest thing available to owning an M16.  It’s like owning a working part of American History.  The feelings of nostalgia that exists for “The Guns that Won the West” are exactly what the AR-15 will illicit in the not too distant future.  Historical significance & collectability are great reasons to own an AR.


    A Smith & Wesson M&P15 with Magpul furniture
    Photo courtesy of Shooting Illustrated

  3. Modularity – Just like it’s M16 counterpart, the AR-15 can be configured and adapted to the needs and wants of the shooter.  The joke is it’s “Barbie for men”, and there are even “Build a beAR” workshops you can attend.  The look & feel, the configuration and even the caliber can be quickly, easily and frequently changed.  You can add rail sections, or rail covers or install accessories on those rail sections like sights, optics, forward grips, tactical flashlights or laser pointers.  You can swap complete upper halves to easily change barrel lengths or to perform a complete caliber conversion.  One of the best and most rewarding things is that you can do it all yourself.  There is no need for the time and expense associated with gunsmith performed customizations.  Plus, customizing your AR-15 is downright fun and personally satisfying for the Do-It-Yourselfer.  Additionally, modularity has key advantages from cost and training perspectives.  Buy a basic AR-15 and enhance it as funds allow, or as you grow and evolve as a shooter and have a better idea of what you want, need and will use.  From a training perspective, the modularity of the AR-15 allows you to focus on learning and developing muscle memory for one action, one set of controls and procedures, one trigger squeeze, etc. etc.
  4. Versatility – With modularity comes great versatility.  The AR-15 is simply so good, at so many things.  It’s an extremely capable rifle platform.  Changing uppers let’s you change barrel lengths, handrail sections, accessories and even calibers.  Why is this important?  Well, a short, 14.5 – 16” barrel with a tactical light and a red-dot style optic make it a great CQB, (Close Quarters Battle) or home defense gun.  An AR-15 with a long, 20 – 24” barrel and a high quality, variable powered optic can be a precision rifle.  An AR-15 with a 16 – 18 “barrel, a low powered optic or red dot (or high powered optic and offset iron sights) and a tactical light make it a jack of all trades; akin to the the Navy’s MK12 SPR (Special Purpose Rifle) and the U.S. Navy SEAL’s Recon Rifle.  Caliber conversions are important because they let you completely change the capabilities of the gun.  Downsize to .22lr for even cheaper and less recoiling plinking, or for small game hunting.  Upsize to a 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, one of the increasingly popular .300s or even something bigger, and you’ve got a more effective long range rifle, big game hunter, or truck stopper!  Again, all with one action, one set of controls and procedures, one trigger squeeze, etc. etc.


    Popular AR-15 Calibers:
    5.56 NATO, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf
    Photo courtesy of gunrunnerhell

In short, the AR-15 is reliable, effective, easy to shoot, modular and extremely versatile.  (Those are the same key attributes that have kept the M16 in military service for the past 50+ years!)

So then, How Would a Civilian use an AR-15?

  1. Pleasant Plinker – The low recoiling 5.56 / .223 rounds are pleasant and easy to shoot.  (While often used interchangeably, 5.56 and .223 rounds are NOT the same.  The 5.56 is loaded to a higher chamber pressure than the .223.  So make sure your AR is stamped 5.56 on the barrel before shooting that round in your rifle.)  Either way, you can literally spend a day at the range without physically beating yourself up, and without developing poor shooting habits, like flinching.  (It used to be relatively cheap to shoot…)
  2. Gun For New Shooters – In addition to being very reliable and producing low recoil, the AR-15 has simple, straightforward controls.  The AR-15 is easy to operate.  This combination makes the AR-15 an excellent choice for teaching new shooters the fundamentals of safety and shooting.  You can focus on things like, “Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction”, and, “Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot”.  Then it’s simply manipulate the safety, get your sight picture, align the sights with the target, focus on the trigger squeeze and Bang
  3. Home-Defense– In addition to all those things that make the AR-15 great for teaching new shooters, it is generally shorter and lighter than most shotguns and hunting rifles.  The combination of these features make the AR-15 better suited for CQB than say your 28” bird barreled 12 gauge, or your 22 – 26” barreled bolt-action hunting rig.  Chances are it’s also a lot easier for the Mrs. or smaller statured shooters to handle than a larger, heavier and harder kicking shotgun or rifle.  By “handle” I mean physically moving from room-to-room, shooting on target and getting follow-up shots on target as necessary.  Additionally, the standard .22 centerfire round of the AR-15 is more effective than a 22lr rimfire round, and won’t be as likely to over-penetrate as 00-buckshot or a 30-06.  Over-penetration has to be a consideration whenever you’re thinking about or planning for home defense.  Search the Net and you will find some great articles and TV shows within the gun community that argue why the .223 is a great choice for home defense, especially with some of the newer advancements in ammunition and projectiles.
  4. General Defense – All those things that make the AR-15 a great home defense / CQB gun also make it a good “ranch rifle”, a tool traditionally used for outside the home defense or pest control.  Got a large piece of property, boat or RV to defend?  If you do your part, the AR-15 will do the trick out to about 300 yards.
  5. Hunting – In its standard 5.56 / .223 chambering, the AR-15 is a great varminter for pest control against prairie dogs, ground hogs, foxes and coyotes.  Traditionally it’s not much of a hunter beyond that.  The 5.56 / .223 is too much for use on small game you’d want to harvest, but not quite enough for medium sized game, like deer, or bigger animals.  (There are very few states that allow you to legally hunt deer sized game or larger with a 22 caliber bullet.)  However, with the proliferation of caliber conversions comes capability, in the form of new complete uppers.  You can easily change, you’re 5.56 / .223 chambered AR-15 into a 6.5 Grendel (.264), a 6.8spc (.277), a .300 AAC or .300 Blackout (the .30 cals) or even something bigger and heavier– all of which are large enough, and legal, for taking medium and large game.
  6. Training Aid – The AR-15 is a great gun to bring to any type of rifle or carbine training course.  Whether you are learning precision long range shooting, going through a shoot house in low light or learning anything in between, the AR-15 can be configured specific to the course, and it’ll get the job done.
  7. Competition –3-Gun Nation anyone??   The AR-15 is extremely popular all levels and in all forms of the competition circuit, from the casual to the highly competitive and professional.  Your right out of the box, bone stock, entry level AR-15 is a great way to get into the sport.
  8. “Second Kind of Cool” to use a Nutnfancy’s termYou have to admit the AR-15 is one wicked cool looking gun.  For some folks, that cool factor alone is reason enough.

So there ya have it, a detailed explanation of what makes the AR-15 so appealing to civilians.  It’s easy to understand why almost every gun owner in America wants one.  I’ve also given you plenty of legit, legal reasons for owning one, with a description of how thousands of law abiding civilians across the United States of America are legally and enjoyably using their ARs!  Go get yours while you can.


Be aware!  Be Prepared!  Be Safe!

The story of the AR-15 / M16 is one of Persistence & Continued Evolution.

Introduction of the AR-15

In 1958, the ArmaLite Division of Fairchild Aircraft Corp. introduced the first prototype of what it called the AR-15 (“AR” for ArmaLite Rifle).  It was a scaled down version of ArmaLite’s bigger, select-fire AR-10, and instead of shooting the full-power 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, it shot a.22 cartridge.  The AR-15’s .22 chambering resulted in low recoil, making it easy to consistently shoot accurately in semi-auto, and easily controllable in fully automatic, while still providing terminal ballistics acceptable for the battlefield.  With a 20” barrel and a loaded 20-round magazine, the AR-15 weighed just more than 7 pounds.  This was a big departure from traditional U.S. infantry rifles like the M1903 Springfield, the M1 Garand and the M14, all of which were larger, longer, heavier and for the M14, arguably uncontrollable in full-auto.

The more agile, low recoiling and controllable AR-15 looked like the perfect solution for a U.S. military that wanted a smaller, lighter rifle for anticipated close range combat environments.

Colt Steps In.  Birth of the M16.

In ~1959 ArmaLite sold the rights to the AR-15 rifle designs to Colt, who designated it the M16, and aggressively marketed the design to branches of the US Military.  (Even as far back as the late 50s and early 60s Colt offered a semi-automatic version of the AR-15 to civilians.)  Full-scale military tests of the M16 platform were conducted during the first half 1962 in South Vietnam.  Successful feedback in performance and terminal ballistics resulted in U.S. Air Force adoption of the M16, and small scale testing by U.S. Navy SEAL Teams.  Based on U.S. Air Force findings, the rifling rate of the standard 20” barrel was changed from 1-in-14”, to 1-in-12” which improved accuracy, but may have resulted in reduced lethality.  At some point not long after, (early-to-mid 1960s), the M16 was adopted as the standard infantry rifle by almost all branches of the U.S. Military.

Problems Arise On The Battlefield.


US M16A1

On Feb. 28, 1967, the XM16E1 was standardized as the M16A1 rifle.  It was also the height of a jamming epidemic.  Reports from the battlefield included widespread chronic failures to extract, with cartridge cases seized in the chamber of the gun.  This condition rendered the rifle inoperable, and required a time consuming clearing process that left the soldier extremely vulnerable during the time required to perform the operation.  For too many U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, this became a catastrophic, fatal flaw.  As a result, many troops at the time didn’t want the M16.  Confidence in the platform was at an all-time low.

When word of the problems with the M16A1 reached U.S. Congressional leaders, the House Armed Services Committee of the 90th Congress established a Special Subcommittee in May of 1967 to investigate M16 Rifle malfunctions.  Throughout the summer of 1967, this three-member Special Subcommittee, chaired by Representative Richard Ichord (D-Mo.), diligently researched root cause of M16 malfunctions.

The M16A1 Rifle Comes Into Its Own.

In October 1967, the “Ichord Committee” published a 51-page report on M16 extraction failures.  Root cause was identified as the gunpowder used in the ammunition.  Specifically, the gun powder resulted in high chamber pressures and significant carbon fouling.  (In layman’s terms, gun powder residue built up enough in critical areas of the gun to seize what should have been moving parts.)

Remediation included changes to the gunpowder used in M16 ammunition and chrome chambers, which were more resistant to powder fouling.  These recommendations were immediately put into action and soon after reports of malfunctions dissipated.  The M16A1 rifle began to prove itself in the violent battles of the A Shau Valley in 1969 and the incursion into Cambodia during the summer of 1970.  Battlefield reports then indicated the M16A1 as a highly effective infantry weapon and it served U.S. Armed Forces through the 1980s.

Continued Evolution.

The M16A2

In 1980, NATO member nations formally adopted the 5.56×45 mm cartridge as the chambering for all NATO rifles.  In November 1983, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted an improved version of the M16A1 chambered for the 5.56×45 mm NATO round.  The rifle is called the M16A2.  In addition to being chambered for the new round, significant M16A2 improvements included improved rear sights, a brass deflector, a heavier barrel, 1:7” rifling and a “BURST” setting delivering three rounds with every trigger pull instead of full-auto.  The U.S. Army follows the Marines Corps adoption of the M16A2.

Colt’s XM4: The Army’s M4 Carbine, and the M16A4

For Special Operations Teams Colt experimented with shorter and lighter “Commando” variants of the M16 platform as far back 1966, but in 1984 they focused on an M16A2-based carbine for wider use.  That carbine was designated the XM4 and combined the compactness of a 14.5” barrel and collapsible stock  from the “Commando” series with the new 5.56×45 mm NATO chambering and other M16A2 improvements, like “BURST”, the brass deflector, 1:7-inch rifling, a bayonet lug and the ability to mount the M203 grenade launcher.

Although at first equipped with M16’s signature carrying handle, the XM4 was later produced with a removable carry handle and a flat-top upper receiver, used for easily mounting optical sights.  In September 1994, the Army standardized it as the M4 Carbine and began distributing it to combat units. Not long thereafter, Colt began to produce M4 carbines equipped with the Knight’s Armament Rail Accessory System in place of the standard forward hand guards.

This forward rail system allowed easy mounting of more accessories like tactical lights and laser aiming devices.  The flat-top M4 Carbine with rail system proved so successful that a new a full length rifle with the same features was soon adopted as the M16A4 Modular Weapons System (manufactured by Colt and FN).

The Rest Is History…

Today, M16 variants, like the M16A2, the M4 Carbine, and the M16A4 Modular Weapons Systems remain in service, equipping all branches of the U.S. Military.  They are the rifles protecting our shores, helping ensure freedom for others, and fighting the global war against terrorism.  AR-15 / M16 variants are also currently used by many Law Enforcement Agencies across the country.



The M16 earned what will likely be its greatest distinction on May 2, 2011, when a variation of the M4 Carbine (the HK416) was used to kill terrorist leader, September 11 mastermind, Osama Bin Laden during the heroic SEAL Team raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

So from the first field tests in the early 60s, through a tenuous time in 1967, to making history in 2011, variations of the M16 platform have served the American military for 50 years – persevering, evolving and continually improving along the way.  With 50 years of service, the M16 platform remains in service longer than any other rifle in U.S. military history.  It has also been named No. 2 Top Combat Rifle of All Time by the Military Channel.

50 years of history have proven that the AR-15 / M16 platform is relatively small, fast, light weight, easy to shoot and battlefield effective.  Yet perhaps its greatest asset is its ability to be quickly and easily tweaked to fulfill a variety of different missions.  The basic modularity of the gun, the ever popular flat top and forward rail system and the extensive variety of available accessories allow the AR-15 / M16 to be configured to satisfy just about any requirement.  It is the platform’s ability to easily change configuration that has kept it in service for so long, and it continues to evolve today.

(Special Thanks to American Rifleman, Heckler & Kock USA and Colt for much of the background information and pictures.)

Well, I’ve decided I want a Black-Rifle.  That’s right, an AR-15.

It is the civilian, semi-automatic-only version of the enduring M16 military platform.  It is currently the most popular and sought after rifle in America.  Love it, hate it or fear it, please follow along in this multi-part series as I cover:

2012 SHOT Show Wrap-Up (Part 2) – Finally!

In case you missed it, here are links to my previous 2012 SHOT Show posts.

Anticipation – What I’d really like to see this year!

Part 1 – How we did against what we wanted to see.

In those posts, I talked about what we wanted to see at this year’s show, covered some overall industry trends, and basically judged how SHOT 2012 delivered against our wants.  (All-in-all, we did pretty damn well, especially for an evolutionary, not revolutionary year.)  To finish our SHOT Show 2012 coverage, this post highlights other guns, gear and equipment that peaked our interest, or further exemplify the industry trends we highlighted.


The Springfield XD-S in .45acp.  Furthering the trend of ultra concealable, small form factor pistols in larger calibers

Like the rest of the XD line, this is a polymer frame, double action only handgun, using Springfield’s Ultra Safe Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System, with a 1911-esq grip safety, and a loaded chamber indicator.  Dimensionally, the XD-S is 1″ wide, 6.3″ inches long overall (with a 3.3″ barrel), 4.4″ inches tall and weighs in at 21.5oz unloaded.  It even has an accessory rail for a light and/or laser sight built into the frame – a pretty cool feature for a gun this size.  At first glance, you’re likely to guess this is just another new entrant in the red-hot “pocket” 9mm niche.  You’d be wrong.  The XD-S is chambered in .45acp.  I find this to be a really great looking little gun.  Pleasing to the eye, it definitely has that “Second Kind of Cool” appeal.  With only a 5+1 capacity, round count seems a bit light.  I also want to shoot it myself before I pass judgment on things like recoil and follow-up shots.  It might be perfect for those guys that just like .45 acp, and want something smaller than what they’re carrying now.  Who knows, maybe there’s an XD-S in 9mm or 40 on the horizon??  Check back in after I get my hands on one at the range and shoot it, but in the meantime, here’s a link to Springfield’s site so you can check out the XD-S for yourself:  http://www.xdspistol.com/



The trend of high-quality, user configurable, accurate and versatile firearms continues to evolve.  I think it’s great!!  Sure, ‘kit guns‘ have always been around.  Likewise, the military has always been focused on modularity for quick and easy combat and machine gun barrel changes, an/or quick, low-cost caliber changes.  However, current factory offerings are taking things to an entirely new level for the civilian market.  The custom hot-rod, ‘pimp my ride‘ craze has finally hit the firearms market…and why not?!

The Mossberg Flex

I’m a huge fan of O.F. Mossberg & Sons.  My first shotgun was a Mossberg 500 with interchangeable barrels; a 28″ bird barrel with threaded chokes, and a 24″ rifled slug barrel for deer and bear sized game.  It was a recommendation from my LGS owner, and a great one at that!  It is the definition of high-value, and it’s made right here in the U.S.A.  I couldn’t be happier.

While maybe not as popular as some other well known brands, Mossberg has successfully passed the stringent US Army’s Mil-Spec 3443E test and as such, has a very proud history of use in Military & Law Enforcement applications.  Additionally, Mossberg shotguns have always had some great design features, like the easy to reach, easy to operate, ambidextrous tang safety.  In my opinion the tang safety is a superior design to those offered by most of the competition.  (Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you start losing birds and other game  – or worse – because you couldn’t get that safety off fast enough.  I’ve seen it happen on at least a few hunts.)

Now, anyone who currently owns a Mossberg 500 already knows how versatile of a platform it is.  You’ve got 18.5″ home defense barrels, all kinds of different length and configurable choke bird barrels, various rifled slug barrel choices (with & without the cantilevered scope mounts) and muzzle loader conversion kits. Yes, I can make my Mossberg 500 pump gun a muzzleloader!  Hell, I think they even have a line thrower conversion kit.  O.F. Mossbertg & Sons has always been about high-value and versatility.

With the FLEX, Mossberg is capitalizing on this platform, making the 500 even easier to customize, and more versatile than ever.  Compared to a standard, or old school 500, the FLEX has some design changes to make stock and forend changes easier for the end user.  Expect numerous accessories to customize the look, operation and performance of your ride…err, shotgun.

The Thompson-Center Dimension

Thompson/Center Arms (now a subsidiary of Smith & Wesson) conjures up one of two images for most firearms enthusiasts; muzzleloaders, or break-open, single shot hunting firearms, available in both handgun (The Contender) and long gun (The Encore) configurations.  Now, if you’re familiar with these platforms, you already know that like O.F. Mossberg & Sons, T/C has a long standing history of providing high-quality, high-value, and user configurable (modular) platforms.  Nothin’ new there.  What was new back in ~2008, was T/C’s first attempt at a bolt action gun (The Icon).  It was a resounding success.  Then in 2010, T/C released an everyman’s version of that bolt-gun (The Venture), touting similar high-quality craftsmanship and accuracy in a more affordable, high-value package.  For 2012, Thompson Center has released something new that is a combination of the high-quality, high-value, modular firearm platforms they’ve always been known for, with their more recent experience and success for producing bolt-action hunting rifles. The Dimension is born.  If O.F. Mossberg & Sons just ‘pimped’ your ole’ pump-scatter-gun, Thompson/Center Arms just did it to your bolt-action rile:


Everything Old is New Again…

Colt Manufacturing – At one point in the not too distant past, and for a long while, Colt was synonymous with high-quality handguns – with plenty of military and LE support.  The Colt Single Action Army, aka ‘The Peacemaker’.  The Colt Python.  The Colt .45, M1911.  In the late 70’s and early 80’s, many believed that if you had a S&W revolver, and a Colt .45 M1911, you pretty much had the best-of-the-best – almost all your handgun bases covered.  Then unfortunately, at some point around the late 80s and early 90s, Colt kinda’ lost their way a bit.  Like the “bad” Harley years under AMF, it was generally accepted that Colt’s Quality Control suffered.  In ~April 1985, the Beretta Model 92 beat out the Colt .45 to become the U.S Armed Forces chosen handgun.  Around the same time, a rash of ‘new‘ companies, with some ‘revolutionary‘ handgun designs began entering the U.S. handgun market (like Glock in ~1986).  Yeah, between the perfect storm of QC issues, and then-new “space-aged” designs, people drifted away from Colt.

Well, now Colt Manufacturing is making somewhat of a comeback and enjoying a bit of renaissance.

While not new this year, except for the black finish, the Colt Rail Gun 1911, chambered in traditional .45 acp was on-hand at SHOT 2012.  Michael Bane, of ‘Shooting Gallery‘ highlighted that gun in his segment on “Most Significant Guns of the Year“.

The original mini-1911, the Colt Mustang Pocketlite, is also back.  Like the original from 1986, it has an aluminum frame and is chambered in .380.  It was on-hand at SHOT 2012, and from all the coverage I saw, it was pretty well received.  (Though personally, I’d have rather seen a 9mm).  No doubt, between Sig’s p238 and 938 offerings, Colt has some serious catching up to do… That said, you have to give them credit for bringing back an “old favorite” design. One that is as welcomed today as when the original debuted – if not more so.

Rock River Arms Polymer 1911

Rock River Arms is known for custom quality, yet affordable (high-value) AR Platforms.  Handguns?  Not so much.  Maybe until now.  The polymer 1911 in .45acp is nothing new, not even in double stack variants, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t caught on as much as other polymer framed handguns.  New for 2012 RRA has jumped into the handgun market…and their first offering is a polymer frame 1911.  From all the research I’ve done, I’m a fan of their AR platform.  Some of their AR offerings and parts ranks high on my list, so I’m anxious to see how this poly 1911 is received.  That said, and while I’m certainly no 1911 expert, I just can’t get excited about “ole’ slab sides” that is anything but….well, ole slab sides….  You can check it out here: RRA 1911 Poly 



Holsters, Knives and other gear:

Blackhawk  – High-quality gear, but probably best known for their SERPA Holster system.   New for 2012, and debuted at SHOT is their women’s line of holsters.  I’d swear I also saw a convertible IWB / OWB holster…  Check em out here: http://www.blackhawk.com/

ESEE Knives – Outstanding, hard-use survival blades.  New for 2012 are the Cadiru and Laser Strike Series – as well as the Venon Green series.  Check em out here: http://www.eseeknives.com/index2.htm

Spyderco Knives – Outstanding blades of all kinds.  Let’s just say that at a minimum, I’ve got a Delica 4 FFG VG-10 that’s with me at almost all times.  Need something for defensive, utility, everyday carry, fishing / hunting, marine or other purposes?  Spyderco has you covered.  Check em out here: http://www.spyderco.com/

SOG Knives – I won’t argue with Gunny!  SOG offers some great blades for defensive, utility, hunting and survival purposes.  Check em out here: http://www.sogknives.com/

Gerber – Innovative, high-value products, and not just great blades – entrenching tools, axes, survival kits, etc.  Check em out here: http://www.gerbergear.com/

Leatherman – Looking for something significantly more hard-use and heavy duty than the average multi-implement knife?  Hey, sometimes you need a real set of pliers with your blades and drivers – and wouldn’t it be nice if the blades and other implements locked open?  Back in the early 1990s, I bought what was then their completely revolutionary original version.  I’ve been a huge fan ever since; upgrading or getting different variants and giving them as gifts on more than a few occasions.  While there is a lot more pretty good competition these days, you can never go wrong with an original!  Leatherman is contnually innovating and improving their products, with some new offerings for 2012, and they’re all made right there, in the U.S.A.  Like my Spyderco Delica 4 FFG, you can bet there’s a Leatherman almost always on my person, or very close at hand….   Check ’em out here: http://www.leatherman.com/

Victorinox – The classic Swiss Army Knife.  Possibly a “first” or only knife for many. For 2012 are some “new” twists and re-releases of old favorites.  Victornox is also getting into the fixed blade market aimed specifically at hunting and survival.  Check em out here: http://www.swissarmy.com/us/content/swissarmy/category/1

FourSevens Flashlights – Very high-quality, high-value LED flashlights.  Because who doesn’t need a flashlight?!   For 2012 they’ve rebranded from 4Sevens to FourSevens.  Otherwise, it’s the same great products with slightly different names, and a few new, high-end offerings.  Word to the wise, if you can snag some Quark, Mini or Preon 2 products on sale with the old branding DO IT… DO IT NOW!  (That is if you can still find them with the old branding.)  Even if you don’t find a sale, FourSevens lights offer almost unbeatable value.  You’ll be amazed at the amount of light you can get from something so small and light weight – yet still tough as nails.  I got Mini 123’s for every member in my family, who promptly put them on their key chains.  Never be without a flashlight again.  Check em out here: http://foursevens.com/

MaxPedition – Hard-Use Gear Everyday.  Being an evolutionary year overall at SHOT, MaxPedition continued to show-case current favorites (like the Jumbo Versapack) and new variants on those favorites.  If you need a new adventure bag for every day carry, travel bag, backpacking or survival, give these guys a good look.  Check em out here: http://www.maxpedition.com/


Again, this wasn’t everything at SHOT – there are literally thousands of things at SHOT.  But beyond what I really wanted to see for 2012, this is just the stuff that caught my eye and gear I always stay current with.   Look for product reviews and links to other reviews as content expands.  Post comments, questions or check my links for additional coverage.

SHOT Show 2012 – Wrap-Up!

SHOT Show 2012 is in the rear-view.  YouTube videos abound. Blogs are updated.  Print rags are readying future articles.  We were looking for some very specific things this year at the SHOT Show.  (In case you missed it, click here to read my previous post on what exactly the SHOT Show is, what we were hoping to see.)


Overall Thoughts & Some Trends I’ve Spotted

I’ve watched countless YouTube videos.  I’ve read all kinds of blogs.  This could just be a function of what I’m “tuned-into” at the moment, but here are some trends I’ve noticed from SHOT Show 2012 coverage:

  1. Likely somewhat of a function of the overall economy, but overall, it seemed like an evolutionary year, as opposed to being revolutionary.
  2. Highly concealable, pocket pistols rule the day!  Increasing numbers of ‘pocket pistols’ are being chambered in larger calibers – like the 9mm, .40S&W and even the .45ACP.  This isn’t a new trend, but it certainly continues with offerings like the Sig p938, the Beretta Nano, the Springfield XD-S and Colt has even gotten back in the game with the everything-new-is-old or everything-old-is-new-again Mustang.
  3. Modularity!  Modularity across the board in ARs (of course, where ‘ya been), but also in pistols, rifles and shotguns.  One gun value.  One gun versatility – HUGE versatility.  One gun training / muscle memory.  More gun for less money.  Empowered owners; no gunsmith required to change calibers.  Start small and expand over time based on needs and budgets.  It’s a trend I really like, and I’m very happy to see.  Perfect handgun examples include the Beretta Nano, a new Rock River Arms pistol offering, the Thompson Center Dimension and the Mossberg FLEX top the non-AR platforms for me.
  4. Better triggers.  Most shooters know trigger squeeze is one of the keys to accuracy.  The modern [r]evolution in better factory triggers arguably started almost ten years ago with the Savage Arms then new AcccuTrigger, but more and more manufacturers are putting high quality triggers in their factory guns.  This is something that not too long ago, a typical intermediate or expert shooter would pay good money for, after the initial purchase, and requiring the work of a qualified gunsmith.
  5. An increasing number of firearms, accessories and related products aimed squarely at women shooters.  It’s a trend I welcome.  I’m happy to see it!
  6. Factory competition firearms.  Handguns and long guns setup for 3 Gun, IDPA an other forms of competition, like Stag Arms 3G, as well as offerings from Ruger and CZ.
  7. Airsoft!  YouTube video and blog updates about Airsoft guns seemed to everywhere.  Why not?  They’re cool. They look like the real thing.  The shooting fundamentals are the same and you can practice shooting them arguably many more places than your real guns.


So, how’d we do with what we really wanted to see??!! 


The Sig Sauer p938 is Here!!

Hoped for by many for a while, rumored as early as September 2011, then formally confirmed by the company in November, the Sig Sauer p938 is in fact a reality, and it sure to be a home run!!  It is exactly what the market has been demanding from Sig.  This highly anticipated,  mini-1911 pocket gun is now chambered in 9mm.  As expected, it is the p238’s slightly bigger brother – same height, same width, same single action trigger and battery of arms, just .4″ longer overall and ~2 ounces heavier.  Aimed squarely at the concealed carry, personal defense market the Sig p938 was on-hand at SHOT Show 2012.  From what I’ve read four variations of the p938 will hopefully hit the market around April.  I think we all hope street price is well below the ~$795-823 list, and that the p938  doesn’t suffer from some of the initial growing pains experienced by it’s “Little Brother”, the Sig p238.  Click here for more pictures, spec and information.



While on the topic of Sig, the Sig Sauer p224 and p290 were also on-hand.

  The Sig Sauer p224 is considered by many to be Sig’s answer to the Glock 26 / 27 sub-compact, double-stack backup or concealment guns.  If the p226 is the “Father” of the the p224, this is the “Grandson”.  It is intended as an on-duty backup gun or an off-duty / civilian concealment gun.  It will be offered in traditional Sig DA/SA or DAK, which is Sig’s version of Double Action Only.  Click here for more.





New for 2012, the Sig Sauer p290 has double-strike capability.

Highly anticipated in 2010, released at SHOT Show 2011 and then unfortunately not the hot seller Sig had hoped for (due to its weight and perceived bulk), the Sig p290 Double Action Only (DAO), polymer frame, hammer fired “pocket” pistol now has double strike capability.  Certainly a welcome feature, especially give its intended defensive purpose. Click here for more.





The Beretta Nano

Announced in early September 2011.  Released at the end of October.  The single stack, polymer frame, striker fired Nano with no external controls from the World’s Oldest gun maker was on-hand at SHOT Show.  Judging from all the coverage via YouTube vids and other blogs, this pocket gun is certainly a big hit.  In one YouTube video I watched of this year’s SHOT Show, Beretta representative Ben Cook mentioned that new color, and NEW SIZED grip frames will be available.  However, Beretta didn’t have any of those new grips frames at the SHOT Show, and Ben didn’t go into much detail.  (What new colors will be available?  What new sizes will be available?  Will the new sizes be minimally different, to accomodate different sized hands – or fundamentally and game-changing different – like giving users the ability to drop a serialized, stainless steel Nano frame into a full-size double-stack frame or anything in between ? )  Nor did I hear anything about a .22lr conversion kit or extended magazines.  I keep watching closely for updates, and will post when there is news.  Click here for more from Beretta on the BU9 Nano.


Unfortunately (but as generally expected), there was no surprise of a new single stack, smaller G26 / G27 to compete with the likes of the Nano, the PM9, CM9, PF9, etc.  That said, there was plenty to be excited about from Glock, with two “new” Gen 4 models: the full-size G21 in .45 ACP and the mid-compact G32 in .357 Sig.  The first Gen 4s were released at SHOT Show 2012 and every model in the Glock Gen 4 lineup offers multiple, adaptable back straps, new gripping surface, an ambi-magazine release, and the new recoil system.  All of these modifications are in response to customer feedback and demand. They are geared towards making this rock-solid, reliable performer more user friendly and comfortable to shoot.   Click here for more.


The Black Rifle – The Stag Arms 3G 

So what it announced a couple ahead of the SHOT Show? The Stag Arms 3G was on-hand, and it was a HUGE hit.  Aimed primarily at the 3-Gun competition shooter, it features a stainless steel, heavy fluted  18”, a rifle length gas system, the new Stag Arms 3G compensator (said to reduce recoil to provide faster, more accurate follow up shots), a long, free floated Samson Evolution handguard (which supports multiple modular rail sections in various positions), a Geissele Super 3-Gun trigger (specifically developed for 3-Gun competitions), Magpul MOE pistol grip and Magpul ACS collapsable buttstock.  The Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights (RTS) are optional.  While pricier than some of their previous models, the Stag 3G is still very high-value!  You get a lot of high-end features for the extra dollars.  3-Gun shooter or not, this is one hot, top quality AR.  I imagine it will serve all AR shooters well, except for maybe the those in Close Quarters Battle, but I want one in my gun case!  I anticipate this will be one of the hottest ARs of the year, and you can check it out here: Stag Arms Model 3G  Hmmmm, my AR Build Vs. Buy decision is no longer so easy…  



So, that’s SHOT Show 2012 Wrap-Up, Part 1. Please stay tuned for Part 2, and thanks for reading!