AR 15 Build Field Report

by Woodsbum

Similar to last week’s report, I wanted to follow up and tell you about how my newest AR 15 build faired while out in the field. Again, I don’t really have much in the way of pictures to show you. When I go shooting I do not go to a range. I take off to the hills and shoot clay pidgins, potatoes, or tannerite. Couple that with the fact that only I am out there and you have a very difficult time shooting while taking “selfies” of your firearms in action.

When I break in a new AR, I tend to use steel cased Wolf ammo to wear in the chambers a bit and make other rounds cycle easier. On this outing I blew off the last 90 rounds of steel case I had and then started on factory and reloads. Other than my brother’s reloads which usually have feeding issues, I had no other failures at all. Overall I put about 400 rounds through it.

The Vortex Strikefire 2 optics are just awesome, like always. One of the many things I love about them, aside from how easy it is to get on target and the fact that they just work flawlessly, is how easy it is to sight in with this optic.

Here is a “redneck” guide to sighting in an optic without using paper targets: I usually pick a very soft dirt pile and pop off a couple rounds to see where it is hitting. Then I adjust until I get to where I am on target at 25 yards. I then move it out to 50 and repeat the process. Finally I move to 100 yards and do it one last time with full sized clay pidgins. If I am using only a red/green dot optic I stop here. If I am sighting in a scope I have more to do. To fine tune a scope I move from full sized clays to the broken pieces and repeat the process while slowly moving down target size. This will usually get me down to about a 1″-2″ group at 100 yards.

A couple of the things I really loved about my new build are the weight and the handguard. By installing one of the keymod rails, I actually opened up the entire barrel length to allow for better heat dissipation. Although the barrel did get hot while rapid firing (as expected), it cooled off within just a couple minutes rather than having to wait several minutes like any other configuration I have used. It really was nice to have that full handguard covering almost the entire barrel as well. I did not have to worry about melting things into the barrel after shooting or burning myself by being stupid. It truly is a great configuration. And in regard to the weight, it was an absolute pleasure to shoot such a light rifle. I don’t consider the .223/5.56 to have any real recoil, so that was never a consideration with regard to weight. It was just so nice and easy to carry. I truly love this new build.

For those of you who have been skeptical about ordering from Daytona Tactical, I will give you a few tidbits. Their order processing is VERY slow. From the time that I ordered until my parts were delivered was almost 3 weeks. They also ship via USPS, so that does suck a bit. You can’t track your packages like you can with FedEx or UPS. The product is quite good, however. I have absolutely NO complaints about the items I received and the pricing was absolutely amazing. If you are after a quick build that you just want to be able to shoot, then I REALLY and HIGHLY suggest you make an order through Daytona Tactical. You will be happy with the results.
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Beretta 92a1 Field Review

by Woodsbum

I went out and tested out the work done to my Beretta just to see how it would shoot. Unfortunately for you, the reader, I have no pictures due to several reasons:

  1. I am TERRIBLE at taking pictures when out shooting.
  2. When I shoot, I do not shoot targets. I normally shoot clay pigeons, potatoes, or tannerite.
  3. Going out and cooking off some rounds is very therapeutic for me, so I don’t pay much attention until after I have started putting things away.

Here is what I can tell you about how well it shoots after all the upgrades and modifications I made to it.
  • The trigger pull is very smooth with much less effort needed in both single and double action.
  • The cases are no longer being flung 10 yards away when ejected. They travel about 10-15 feet and land all in about the same area.
  • The pistol now comes right back to target after each round is expended. It is now a very easy and gentle jump of the barrel. Double tapping or swapping targets while coming right back to a nice sight picture is so easy.
  • The clunk felt when the slide hit the stop was very obvious and deliberate. The recoil buffer I put in really made that less of an impact.
  • This part is hard to put numbers to, but it actually felt like it was quicker to cycle rounds.

All said and done, I am VERY happy and impressed with the final product. Anyone that has been thinking about doing some work to their Beretta 92 should look at all the modifications I made. It will raise your pistol to an entirely different level.
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Low Cost AR 15 Build

by Woodsbum

A couple of weeks ago I ran across some $50 stripped AR 15 lower receivers. Since I already had one that was set up similar to an SPR, I thought it would be nice to do a low cost AR 15 build with this one. The lower is from Anderson Rifles and I went shopping online for some good parts deals to complete my build.

As a disclaimer, I did have a few parts already. This meant that I did not have to buy a buffer tube, buffer, spring or stock. I also had an old milspec trigger group and handle. Total this saved me about $60-$70, so keep that in mind as I go through this build.

First thing I went looking for was a lower parts kit. This landed me on Red Barn Armory’s website. What I liked about their site was that I had the option to build the parts kit and upgrade or leave out parts as needed. Because of the parts I already had, I got the rest of the lower kit and even upgraded my pins as well as added a Magpul sling attachment point for $27. Total price to complete my lower was $135 with shipping.

I then went looking for some upper parts. Since I was more interested in cost than I was anything else, I investigated some complete upper builds. The best deals I found were on the Daytona Tactical site. I found a complete upper (no BCG or charging handle) deal for $235. With shipping it was around $255. This was an important upgrade for me so that I had a free floating handguard build to increase accuracy. The full length of the handguard also left the rifle with a great look that reminds me of the Star Wars T-21 rifle.

For those keeping track, I have now acquired all the parts needed for an AR 15 except a BCG, charging handle, and some sights. This brought me to Amazon for some good deals. The BCG I got was $100 and seems to be of decent quality and seems to function properly. I did splurge a bit on the charging handle. I got a BCM Gunfighter charging handle. The cost of both of these items was about $145.

Last thing I got was a Vortex Strikefire 2 red/green dot optic. Because I get special pricing through several of my group affiliations I only paid $140 for mine. If you get this one through Amazon, it will cost you right at $179 if you have Prime.

The top rifle is the finished build. The bottom one is my wife’s with all sorts of addons and goodies.

New build on top

New build on top

To summarize my total cost of build – $670:
  • Total lower costs: $135
  • Upper costs for free floating handguard/barrel no BCG or charging handle: $250
  • BCG and charging handle: $145
  • Optic: $140

For anyone building this from scratch it would be an additional $100 for this optic and the other lower receiver parts that I had.

Now as a point that must be addressed, I did find complete lowers for $199 at a local gun shop. This would mean that you could actually get a complete rifle done for $500 to not include your optic. This is how this works:

The costs of this build is actually cheaper than you can get an M&P Sport AR rifle. The Sport doesn’t have a forward assist and has an A2 front sight post. It does come with a flip up rear sight, but the MSRP is $739.00. Again, building the AR like I propose is much less costly and already gives you several upgrades from the onset.

Good luck if you decide to do your own build. It is quite fun and fulfilling to know that you literally built your own rifle from parts!
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WDFW In Service Training

by Woodsbum

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife In Service Training for hunter’s education instructors. These happen every couple years where all instructors are invited to go over different subjects associated with teaching hunter’s education. The best way to imagine it is a lot of retired hunters hanging out together while a few people under 60 years old run around helping to keep their elders out of trouble.

It really isn’t quite that bad, but it is no joke that the average age of the participants was probably in the 60’s. This really made me think about how the sport of hunting might actually be dying out. This is actually a quite scary proposition for many reasons. Hunting not only helps to maintain the annual surplus of game animals, but hunting and sporting is the main source of revenue for government conservation programs. If you have never heard of the Pittman Robertson Act, you really should do some research. To assist, I have added this video.

As the numbers of hunters, shooters, and sportsmen diminish so do the funds associated with conservation programs. When bird watchers buy a set of binoculars the funds from that sale go to support, but that is only a single sale. The reoccurring sales to hunters and shooters is where the majority of the funds come from. This is actually a scary realization for most because it means that the harder it is for people to shoot and hunt, the less conservation program funds will be coming in.

Along with the realization that we are seeing fewer and fewer young hunters comes the reality that much of the information being passed along in sporting goods stores and gun shops is not that accurate. Let’s use the increase in wolf population and electronic devices on archery equipment as two examples. People talk about how the wolf population in Washington is growing so quickly that the numbers are almost out of control. Some people claim to have seen wolves in town or near towns, watched them take down an elk, or any other sort of bush story. From what I heard from the WDFW representative that is in charge of tracking wolf populations, this really isn’t going to be the case. There are several packs throughout the state, but the numbers are not high enough to cause enough harm to anything (including livestock) to warrant any special programs to control their numbers. There have also been very few reliable sightings by those outside of the WDFW organization. In regard to electronic devices on archery equipment, the law is quite clear: No electronic devices are allowed on archery equipment (excepted lighted arrow nocks). This means that the sights that have battery powered lighting systems for the pins are not legal. Capt. Mann from the enforcement program did say that a sight that has been disabled will not usually warrant a ticket, but it is still an electronic device by definition. Disabled to him did not include just “taking out the battery” of the device. To him a device must actually no longer function as an electronic device to be okay. He stated that it was easy for someone to just take out the battery, put it in their pocket until in the woods, and then reinstall it.

These were just a couple things that really struck me, but there were many other speakers and subjects covered. There should have been a bit more education on the two subjects that are almost never covered in any great length during a class: archery and muzzle loading. This is especially important since there are a few states that require an additional hunting class to enable them the opportunity to bowhunt for instance. Alaska actually just starting requiring all archery hunters to have an approved bowhunter education class with no grandfather clause for those that have already successfully bowhunted in the past. According to WDFW, there are some “Advanced Hunter Education” classes in the works that might help new hunters to be more successful. I do know that the NBEF Bowunting Class that I help teach does double the success of hunters that take it. Maybe there will be more of a push to teach new hunters these skills. One can only hope.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the IST and do plan on going back. It was quite nice to see all the key players in a single room and gathered for the single purpose of passing along information to the instructors and getting it to their students. I would love it if they happened more often than once every three years, but it really was a hard weekend and I am no where near 60 years old.

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Ray Mears – The Forgotten Forest

by Woodsbum

Every once in a while I get wild hair to go and track down some more main stream bushcrafting programming. One of the few people that I do like to watch is Ray Mears. Although he is a bit goofy at times the cinematography and many locations that they shoot in are just incredible. This episode is no different. I love the shots of all the cattails. They always remind me of playing around the lakes and stock ponds as a kid.

Enjoy this episode. Even if you ignore a lot of the “TV Drama” the images are definitely worth the watch. There are a few good tidbits in there if you keep the sound on….

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