Category Archives: Shooting hardware

Rifles and their parts

Ruger American 6.5 Creedmoor

I have had quite a few Ruger firearms over the years, and for the most part my experience with the company has been a good one. My first real rifle was a Ruger, and both family and friends have also used a bunch of different Ruger models over the years. I have always thought Ruger produced a good firearm for the price, today we will be taking my first look at the Ruger American line of rifles. I’m curious to see if they match up to my decades of experience with Ruger.

Go Wild
There are many different Ruger American models, but the one I will be looking at today is the Go Wild model. This model comes with custom Cerakote and camouflage, and its chambered in the very popular 6.5 Creedmoor. As I opened the box I thought it had a handsome look to it, but looks don’t go very far in these mountains so I wanted to see how it performed more than anything.
I lifted the gun from the box, and the first thing I though was it seemed lighter than it looked, if that makes sense. It was noticeably lighter than I expected it to be, and other comparable rifles nearby. This is obviously a good thing in my estimation, as I had planned on having my wife use the rifle during our hunting season. She is quite petite, so smaller and lighter is better.

With the gun shouldered, I ran the bolt a few times which felt better than I expected. The three-lug bolt of the American needs less lift to unlock from the breech, sixty-degrees of lift instead of the standard ninety-degrees. The smooth raceway had the bolt sliding very clean, and with the short lift it made it quick to reload.
The synthetic stock got my attention next, it came as no surprise that the stock felt a bit cheap. Its unfortunate that many gun manufacturers are using these very flexible polymer stocks, but it is also very predictable. And to be fair, if the gun shoots well I probably wont be complaining about the flexible stock too much. The barreled action has a nice Burnt Bronze Cerakote color, that goes well with the camo pattern on the stock. The muzzle of the twenty-two inch barrel is threaded 5/8-24 and comes with a radially ported brake to aid in recoil reduction. The barrel twist is a pretty standard one in eight.
The rifle is fed through a detachable box magazine compatible with AICS type magazines, this came as a pleasant surprise as I have an assortment of magazines I’d like to try in the rifle.
The tang mounted safety was easy to reach and manipulate, as was the bolt release on the left rear side of the action. The simple design was easily understood and in no time I was ready to outfit it. The gun came with a scope rail already mounted which made mounting a scope much easier. I mounted one of my scopes in a pair of Warne low rings, the US Optics TS25X fit perfectly on top of the rifle. Though I think I will also add a stock-pack to get a better cheekweld.

Range time
After getting the rifle setup with a scope, bipod and some ammo, it was time to get it hot. I arrived at one of my shooting spots with an assortment of ammunition, some Hornady Match 120 grain, as well as some Federal 130 grain Gold Medal ammunition. I had also brought some handloads of my favorite hunting load, which consisted of Cayuga solid copper bullets. I’ve used them several times in the past on both deer and elk, and if my better half was to use this rifle for hunting I wanted to see how it shot these bullets.
With a target set up at one hundred yards, I laid on my shooting mat to zero the little Ruger. Using the Hornady ammunition I zeroed the rifle, and fired a quick three-shot group.

I corrected the point of impact to correlate with my point of aim, and then it was time to have some fun. I tested my other ammo selections, and all of them shot very comparable which is always nice. I then turned my attention to the hill beyond my target, surely there was an opportunity to test this rifle at some longer ranges. With my binoculars I picked out a couple targets that were about ten inches in diameter. One of them I ranged at four-hundred and sixty yards, not too far but definitely something realistic for a deer in these mountains. After zeroing the turrets on my scope, I adjusted 2.1 MRAD of elevation to correct for the distance. The wind was dead calm, so I held center on the target, and pressed the trigger.

I hadn’t mentioned the trigger yet, but it was better than I expected it to be. I’m not a big fan of blade safeties on bolt action rifles, but this certainly hasn’t prevented a clean and easy break on this rifle. The trigger had no discernable friction, the only movement I noticed was when it broke.
I watched the bullet impact my target a little high of center, I need to chronograph these bullets from this rifle, as I think they are flying a little faster than I expected. I fired another shot to confirm, and then began a search for another even further target. I found one that measured eight-hundred yards away according to my rangefinder, this was a shot I was confident the little Ruger and I could make. I dialed 5.2 MRAD into the riflescope, and leveled up the rifle on my rear bag. Adjusting the parallax on my scope made a clear image of the target, all that was left was a clean release.
I could do this all day. The Ruger American was just a hoot to shoot, I was impressed with how much I liked it. I made this and several other shots at similar distances, until I was quite sure that the rifle would be suitable for a spot on our hunting team. The fun factor doubled when I installed my Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20, the titanium suppressor added mere ounces to the rifle, and took away the need for hearing protection in this wide open country. Watching and hearing bullets impact at these great distances was very satisfying. Continue Reading Here…


Browning Citori Quail 16 Gauge

You don’t need to be a shotgun connoisseur to understand a nice shotgun when you pick it up. I am neither a connoisseur nor even a serious shotgunner, but I’ve shot enough of the finer ones to know what it feels like. Today we’ll venture into to another story about a handsome Browning double, the Citori 16 Gauge.

The Citori White Lightning
The Browning Citori line of shotguns has long been famous for its quality and performance. A beautiful match of attractive wood and steel are the basis for the gun, matched with a pair of 28-inch sixteen-gauge barrels. The receiver has beautifully engraved patterns to match its clean and smooth lines. Like most over & under shotguns, the gun is opened with a lever on the spine of the action. The Citori features a full-width tapered locking bolt, this makes for additional strength in keeping the gun closed. The locking mechanism is also tapered, allowing it to seat ever deeper with the wear that will occur over decades.
Behind that, is the safety selector. Again, like most over & under shotguns, the safety doubles as a barrel selector. You can slide the safety left and right to choose which of the two barrels to shoot first, and fore and aft to select safe or fire.

The mechanical intricacies are beautiful, the ejector system utilizes a spring to drive up the impact of the ejector upon opening the gun fully. This ensures that spent hulls are thrown clear of the breach, allowing for fast and unobstructed reloads. The ejector springs are only actuated upon firing that chamber, so unfired shells are easily retrieved from the chambers.
This gun featured two and three-quarter-inch chrome-lined chambers, and an elevated rib for better sighting picture against the bead at the end.

Sweet Sixteen
I’d never been fortunate enough to play with a sixteen-gauge gun. I’d shot countless twelve gauges, twenties, .410’s and ten gauge shotguns. But the little sixteen was new to me, and new things are usually a little bit exciting. Being a little bit bigger than the twenty gauge, I figured the sixteen would be great for wing-shooting small birds like those portrayed in the little Browning’s engravings. Doves and quail seem like an obvious choice, but ducks and pheasants would also be a perfect target for this gun.
The first issue I ran into was ammo related, turns out that in our current ammunition situation, sixteen-gauge ammo is a little more difficult to find than others. But I was lucky enough to land a couple boxes of Federal ammunition, one was a fairly standard trap load of 1 oz 8 shot. The other was a hunting load, ideal for a pheasant hunt loaded with #4 shot loaded a bit quick at 1425 fps. I was going to shoot it all to see what I did and didn’t like about this little gun. Continue Reading Here…



Laugo Alien 9mm Pistol

The Laugo Arms Alien pistol has been turning heads since it was first shown to the public, I myself remember working through the crowd at SHOT Show to get hands on it. My first impression was and still is impressed with the design, the odd shapes and lines are combined with some of the most familiar and comfortable pistol features that many of us crave. Today we’ll take a closer look at this Xenomorphic Czech wonder.

Laugo Arms got its start working with Česká zbrojovka (CZ) working on the Scorpion EVO. The stated focus at Laugo is to move beyond conventional designs and to innovate new and better ideas. Their first product is the Alien pistol, named I assume due to its appearance and similarity to the protagonist in the 1980’s horror sci-fi films of the same name. But does this odd pistol design actually deliver enhanced performance, or is it just another gun fit for “the company”.

The Alien
From a very objective look, the Alien is a semi-automatic nine-millimeter pistol. But there is a great difference between the way the gun operates, and what you might be familiar with. If you are a bit of a CZenofile like me, the grip and angle of the pistol will feel quite familiar. The pistol frame is actually two pieces bolted together, and the feel of the grip in my hand is a perfect match. The texturing feels very good and allows better control of the pistol. The all-metal construction of the pistol makes it feel a bit heavier than most, and at 2.4 pounds you know you’ve got something significant in your hand. The 4.8 inch 9mm barrel is nested low in the frame, giving the Alien one of its innovative claims of the lowest bore axis available. The full-sized pistol uses seventeen-round standard capacity magazines, and they are fed into the magwell by a smooth and contoured flare making reloads quick and easy. Other familiar features of the pistol you may expect are quality adjustable iron sights including a fiber optic front sight, and a 1913 standard pic rail for accessories (like a flamethrower) under the front of the gun.
The features you may not know about are where it gets quite interesting. The Alien utilizes a gas-operated piston delayed blowback system, this combined with the extremely low bore axis keeps the Alien more on target during recoil than traditional pistols. In addition, the iron sights or red dot optical sight (both are included) are mounted to the non-reciprocating portion of the pistol which allows the shooter to remain focused on targeting while the Alien reloads itself.

On the Range
I’ve had a couple opportunities to shoot the Alien, and I found it to be very interesting and entertaining. The pistol comes as part of a complete kit from Laugo, a very high quality polymer case, that includes both sight rails with iron and optical sight, extra magazines, a custom holster made by Elornis Industry and a few more extras.
After loading some magazines and feeling the pistol weight in my hand, I actually felt like I liked it more. This may not be the perfect gun to carry around on a daily basis, but it feels great to have it in the hand. The grip fills the palm of the hand perfectly for me, and feels outstanding much like the high-end pistols from CZ. The next thing up for touching was the trigger, which is again all metal and utilizes a blade safety like many modern pistols. Pulling the trigger there was a short take-up and a very clean break. It felt outstanding, comparable to the guns of professionals I’ve been lucky enough to shoot. The recoil of the pistol wasn’t significantly noticeable at first, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. But after shooting it for a while, I began to notice a different pattern. Also while watching others shoot the gun, it certainly seemed to have less muzzle rise than comparable pistols being shot side by side and using the same ammunition.

I did notice that after much shooting, the pistol did begin to warm up perhaps a little more than I had anticipated. Likely due to the gas being captured in the gas block and building heat. But it felt so good and was so smooth shooting I didn’t notice the heat for long.
With the pop of a single captured pin at the front of the pistol, the whole sighting-rail came right off, and it was switched out for the rail-mounted red dot. Easily switching back and forth between the two took only seconds. The removal of the rail allowed the shooter to see the cunning inner workings of the Alien, much simpler than a terraforming reactor. The hammer and sear are actually mounted in the bottom of the sight-rail, and swing down instead of up. The deeply mounted barrel was under the gas block, with the piston and recoil spring assemblies positioned in the block.
The pistol shot excellent with no failures, it was as pleasant to shoot as any pistol I’ve ever shot, I could feel a desire to keep it growing inside. Accuracy from the gun was what you would expect, easily stacking shots on top of each other up close. And predictably hitting targets further out. Continue Reading Here…

Smith & Wesson 629 .44 Magnum Mountain Gun

I grew up watching 80’s films, so revolvers’ always seemed present in my gun repertoire. My father and grandfather both shot revolvers’ whenever they had occasion to shoot a pistol. My taste’s have changed over the years but I can still appreciate a cylinder with holes bored for six.
Today’s subject is one of those classic pistol designs that seem timeless in their execution, the S&W 629 Mountain Gun chambered in the admirable 44 Remington Magnum.

The model 629
Is a more modern version of the gun that made the 44 magnum famous, the model 29. The pistol features double and single action functions, one of the most simple and easy to not screw up designs ever. The cylinder has chambers for six cartridges, and is opened by pushing the left side release actuator. The gun comes with a rubberized grip making it easy to hold onto, and an adjustable rear sight to make sure you hit whatever you are aiming at. The four inch barrel was in very good condition, almost new to the naked eye.

The .44 Magnum
I’ve been loading .44 Magnum since I got my first wheel gun over a decade ago. I’ve found it to be a relatively easy cartridge to load, and in the interests of fun I’ve also loaded up a few .44 Specials. The .44 Remington Magnum offers big bullets going real fast, at least for a pistol. With bullets in the 200 to 240 grain class, you can shoot velocities near double that of the very popular .45 ACP.
Harnessing all this power has been the job of many strong revolvers over the years, but it has also been popular in some lever gun models. Perhaps the ultimate duo, a Winchester 94 in .44 magnum with a S&W revolver to match.

Ammunition
Since buying ammunition these days is still as pleasant as washing stray cats, I decided to use some of my own rolled magnums. Several comfort loads that I’m used to would do the trick. The first is my old standby, a 240 grain cast lead slug with a grease ring. Loaded with some H110 it has always been a soft and accurate shooting load, I’ve been able to reliably hit targets at deer hunting distances in the past. The next load up was some Berry’s 240 grain copper plated flat-points, loaded again with H110 which seems to be the go to powder for many of these pistol cartridges. Once I had a box of each loaded up, I headed to the mountains to see how this Mountain Gun fit in to the scenery.

On the range
One thing I appreciate about the .44 Magnum is that even though its just a pistol, it still has enough energy to shoot further distances than one would typically shoot pistols. Not exactly long range, but I like the idea of a strong handgun that a guy could actually use to sneak up on a deer and take a shot.
I started out shooting at paper targets at approximately fifteen-yards, hitting NRA targets at that range was easy, so much so that I began to try shooting some groups to see just how accurate the gun is.
Once I had convinced myself I could shoot no better at that range, I decided to shoot at a steel target fifty-yards away. A full size silhouette was still relatively easy to hit, and I stacked a bunch of lead on the front of that target for the next few minutes. The 629 seemed to like the lead bullets better than the plated ones, but both loads shot well enough for predictable hits.

The .44 is no slouch, you are quite aware of its presence every time it goes off. The soft rubber grip was very comfortable to hold onto, and its sticky quality made it easier to hold onto under recoil. The short four-inch barrel sure loved to climb, I probably need to work on my pistol driving skills, but I think it wasn’t just me.
Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most was the clean and perfect trigger break. It felt so good it reminded me of a good rifle, I think this also made the pistol so easy to shoot well. I only needed to line up the sights, and apply a touch of pressure and watch the impact through a small cloud of smoke.

There is an allure to cranking the hammer back on these heavy revolvers, like reminiscing from one of those old 70’s movies imagining a quivering villain before you as a cunning threat rolls off your lips. The heavy feel in your hand, and the impressive recoil and noise seems to command attention. Continue Reading Here…

Big Bore ’94 XTR .375 Winchester 1894

This story has been a long time in the making. More than twenty years ago, my best friend walked into a local gun shop looking for a Big Bore 94 XTR chambered in .375 Winchester. I’ll spare you the details about why he was looking for that specific rifle, but he was surprised to find they still had one back on the shelf, still new in its original box. Perhaps more importantly with the original price tag on it as well.
He brought the rifle home, and it would soon become part of the random collection of guns that we would shoot every weekend we could. I made him promise that he would never sell the rifle unless it was to me, but with the closing of the Winchester facility in the early two-thousands, the value and demand for rifles like that one went up significantly. And much like other 90’s fads, the old Winchester fell from favor. At the time I couldn’t pay what it was worth on the market, so despite my broken heart, it left with brown Santa for the state of Wisconsin. I never forgot that rifle, and have longed for one like it since.
I recently made the find of another Big Bore 94 nearly identical to that one. And I knew that the universe had brought it back to me, so out came the credit card.

The 1894
The iconic Winchester Model 1894 has long been revered as a game changer. Over the long century that it has been manufactured, countless game animals have been taken. Chambered in a great many differing cartridges, but very commonly seen in 30-30 WCF. The gun feels fresh out of the old cowboy movies most of us watched growing up.
The Big Bore line of 94’s has a much shorter lifespan, they were made back in the 70’s and 80’s timeframe, before Winchester’s demise. The rifle uses the same lever action as other model 94’s but uses typically larger cartridges like this .375 Win, or something like a .44 Magnum.
The rifle I bought is like new, but almost the same age as me. And much like me, there are certain advantages of being manufactured back in the seventies. The rifle is simple, no safety or locking devices are built into it. It uses the old half-cock safety, and the cartridges are fed through the feeding ramp on the right side of the receiver.
It has a fine set of iron sights, but this rifle also came with an offset scope mount and a similar vintage Bushnell 2-8 power scope mounted. Something I wasn’t sure I would like, but I was certainly willing to give it a try.

Custom made ammunition featuring 200 gr bullets

The .375 Winchester
The .375 Winchester is a rimmed straight-wall cartridge. Its derived from the old 38-55 cartridge from back in late nineteenth century. The more modern .375 Winchester running on smokeless powder can push two-hundred grain bullets around the 2400 FPS mark, which isn’t an insignificant thing. I always dreamed about using this rifle for a sneaky deer hunt, putting the moves on a nice buck deep in the forest. This year instead, I plan on using the Winchesters big 200 grain bullets on a bull elk. The deep and dark woods where we pursue elk in the fall are ideal for a rifle and cartridge like this.

The Ammunition situation
A quick look at the ammunition market gave me the too familiar discomfort that you have likely experienced in recent years. Boxed ammunition for this rifle was outrageous, topping six dollars a round. Even unloaded brass was more expensive than I would allow myself to spend, so I decided to roll some of my own loads. As it happens, I had a set of RCBS dies in my inventory, and a few boxes of Sierra 200 grain flat-point bullets. I could fashion the brass from the large volume of 30-30 cartridge cases I had accumulated over the years. With some sizing grease, some trimming and cleanup, I was quickly manufacturing my own .375 ammo.

To the field
It had been more than twenty years since I’d shot a .375 Win, so I couldn’t wait to see how this dream gun from the past would perform. After testing a few of my handloads for safety, I started shooting at the fifty-yard-line. I was quickly reminded of why I liked this gun all those years ago, its small size and easy handling characteristics make it a piece of cake to shoot. And yet when the hammer drops, there is a deep thunderous roar that lets you know this isn’t a 30-30.
I made some scope adjustments, to correct the zero of the rifle with my loads. I decided to zero it at about seventy-five yards, for the following reasons which may or may not be mistaken; This is certainly not a long-range rifle, the flat-nosed bullets are nowhere near as efficient in flight as our more modern bullets. And despite their muzzle velocity of near 2400 FPS, much of that velocity is spent by the time it reaches two-hundred yards. I figured that though I could shoot beyond three hundred yards, I probably wouldn’t with this rifle. And even more likely it would be used inside a hundred yards, the thick forests where our elk hide can get you into archery range if you are sneaky enough. Continue Reading Here…

Winchester Model 12

I don’t find every old firearm to be interesting, but there are the occasional ones that grab my attention for any number of reasons. The Winchester model 12 just happens to be one of the few that did pique my interest, and today I’m here to tell you a little bit about my experience with it.

History
The Model 12 is a pump action twelve-gauge shotgun, iconic in that it has the classic features that make a pump-gun so appealing. And it may not be the first, but it certainly trained generations how to shoot airborne game among many other things. The Model 12 was also used by the US Military, making it an actual war weapon unlike your AR 15.
My father grew up shooting an old model 12, barely a teenager when it was given to him by my grandfather he used it for hunting pheasants and ducks in the marshy wetlands beyond grandpas pasture. As a child I remember seeing Dad tinker with it amongst his other guns.

The model 12 uses traditional wooden furniture, with an easily identifying ribbed front grip. A shallow rib runs the length of the barrel, with a targeting bead on the muzzle end. The barrel itself is a thirty-inches long and has a three-inch magnum chamber. It features a familiar safety at the front of the trigger guard, and an action release just behind it. The tubular magazine holds six 2-3/4 shot-shells, and it is clamped to the barrel at the front of the tube.
I looked up the serial number and if the internet is to be believed, this gun was manufactured in 1917, making it a hundred and five years old.

In the Field
After some inspection and thorough familiarizing myself with the gun I decided it was time to see how it shoots. I loaded up some clay targets and a few boxes of shells and headed to the hills. The family and I spent a good part of the afternoon shooting the model 12, smashing clays and pumping fresh shells through the gun.
This model 12 in particular appears to be in pretty good shape, and yet we did have just a few hiccups with it. The trigger on the gun doesn’t reset when pumped, you can literally hold the trigger down and pump shot after shot like the old western revolvers. A couple times it felt as though the trigger followed the bolt home and didn’t go off, leaving a dead trigger. This is likely as much a result of my children’s inexperience with shotguns as anything. On a couple occasions the bolt felt stuck in battery, requiring an extra shove from me to extract the spent shell.
Despite these hiccups, we still had a great afternoon on the mountain. The barrel was made way before interchangeable chokes, so you get what it came with as far as that goes. I imagine it is set fairly tight, as the shot pattern seemed much smaller than I expected. This made shooting the hand-thrown clays a whole lot more challenging. We were shooting one-ounce loads from Winchester and Fiocchi, both using 7.5 shot.
I am certainly not the best wing-shooter, but I did feel like I was cheated out of a few hits by the model 12. Shots I am very confident I’d of made if I were shooting one of my guns. Continue Reading Here…

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CZ Ultralight hunter 12g

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a CZenofile. From the beginning of my development as a gun nut, I have always had a found feeling towards CZ’s firearms and their brand in general. So it came as a great surprise to me when I was handed a CZ over-under twelve gauge, I didn’t even know they made shotguns. I was more familiar with their bolt-action rifles and their classy pistols.
But like the true gun nerd that I am, I embraced this new knowledge and set of barrels.

The Upland Ultralight
I was quite surprised when I opened up the box, not only was it different than what I expected, it was also green. Surely I thought someone had left their spray-paint unattended in the company of this CZ, but to my surprise it appeared to be a factory Cerakote job. Not out of this world I guess, but not something I expected to see in a double barreled European shotgun.
The barrel set was twenty-eight inches long, and came with a full set of hand-installed chokes. Over-under shotguns are such simple mechanical devices, so it comes as no surprise to me that they are all so very similar in their function and controls. I say simple, but they are beautifully simple as I found out upon disassembly. Necessity and my child-like curiosity both managed to remove the receiver from the buttstock, and the mechanical beauty of pins and levers inside the gun impressed me.
The barrel lock and safety are the only controls besides the trigger itself, the latter being mounted in the tang of the receiver. The safety is slid forward with the thumb to disengage and fire the gun, but in the safety button itself there is a smaller selector to determine which of the two barrels goes off first. There is a very brilliant and simple connection that shifts the triggers movement between the two different sears.
The barrel lock engages the bottom of the barrel block, securing the action closed. Somehow despite the simplicity of the mechanism, I managed to goof it up. The engagement seemed off somehow, but everything seemed to lock up and function as it was supposed to after reassembling the receiver.
In my journey to the center of the receiver I noticed something that I had missed. The Upland Ultralight is light for a reason, one of those reasons is the aluminum alloy receiver. I noticed during my recreational investigation that the barrel hinge pins are steel pressed into the aluminum receiver.
The furniture on the CZ was a traditional wood, to be honest quite plain. I suppose the designers at CZ were thinking this gun would be more of a work horse than a delicate mantle-piece. That would also explain the Cerakote finish I suppose. The butt of the gun featured a simple rubber pad.

The Huglu barrel set was also made to work more than show off. The absent middle rib surely reduced additional weight on the gun, as did their twenty-six inch length. The ejectors that typically toss spent shells from the chamber were not spring loaded, they simply lift the shells from the chambers for the shooter to remove and put in his pocket.

Time to shoot
Once again I sought the shooting company of my Father, his seasoned input on shotguns and their various virtues would come in handy.
After switching out the two full chokes that came in the gun for something a little more modified, it was time to start throwing birds.
I love the challenge of hand-thrown clays, there is so much more finesse and the ability to really mess with the shooter. Dad and I have been throwing targets by hand since I was old enough to shoot a shotgun, so today was surely going to be a fun time. And just to have something to compare it to, Dad brought along his Browning Citori.
After warming up on some pretty straight forward trap targets, we decided to start mixing it up a bit with report pairs and other angles. Throwing targets from way off to the side of the shooter greatly resembles the speedy Green-wing Teal that I enjoy chasing through the muddy marsh. The lightweight CZ is very quick to shoulder, and despite its ultra-light weight the recoil didn’t seem unreasonable at all. To be fair we were shooting one-ounce loads, but that didn’t stop us from hammering a whole lotta clays.
I found that I wasn’t as good with the CZ as I’d hoped to be, I’d like to blame it on the gun not fitting me or something but it’s more likely due to my lack of practice. Speaking of fit, I didn’t have an issue with it, but my dad did mention the comb was a bit low for his face. He does enjoy adjustable combs on most of his doubles, so it could just be he’s a bit spoiled. Continue Reading Here…

The CMMG Banshee 9MM Mk4

Nine millimeter carbines have become extremely popular over the last few years, and with ammo prices maintaining their ridiculous highs it should come as no surprise that people are looking for less expensive range guns. Today we are talking about the Banshee from CMMG, it is a nine-millimeter carbine that is a bit different than everything I’ve ever tried before.

The CMMG Banshee is a nine-millimeter AR style pistol, it features a five-inch Chromoly barrel with a 1-10 twist. A pistol brace is mounted at the back on the buffer tube, and using both 6061 and 7075 alloys for the upper and lower receiver help keep the weight of this little pistol down to four-point-seven pounds. The overall length of the pistol is just under twenty-one inches, making the Banshee Mk4 a very mobile and handy weapon. Other features such as custom furniture and six different Cerakote colors to choose from put the Banshee on many shooters want list.

Many of the nine-millimeter carbines on the market today are of the blowback type. This simple design operates much like a semi-auto pistol, utilizing the recoil and pressure generated at the breech of the barrel to open and cycle the action. It is less expensive and requires fewer parts in most cases which makes it a good option for entry-level priced pistol caliber carbines (PCC’s).
More advanced designs like the MPX utilize a gas system like those seen in many AR pattern rifles for more reliable function. And still others like the old roller guns from HK utilize a different locking bolt and a gas-operated system for their legendary reliability.

The Banshee utilizes CMMG’s Radial Delayed Blowback system to improve several aspects of the carbine. One of the many complaints with blowback systems is the heavyweight that is typically required to hold back the bolt long enough for the bullet to get down the barrel. Heavy bolts made from blocks of steel are usually the culprit.
Another of the complaints heard about blowback-operated guns is the recoil impulse felt by the shooter. With nothing holding the bolt closed but its weight and spring pressure, a blowback gun begins moving and opening the action as soon as the shot is fired. This added to the heavy cyclic weight of the bolt increases the feeling of recoil and motion. The more advanced designs of the gas-operated systems don’t start operating the action until the bullet has left or nearly left the muzzle. And with their lighter bolt carriers they feel much smoother in operation. The radial delayed system of the Banshee allows greater reliability than traditional blow-back designs. It also makes the weapon more stable and controllable by reducing the recoil impulse with its lighter bolt carrier group.

The Banshee
The Banshee has several features that will make it extremely popular for AR-style rifle enthusiasts.

-Radial delayed blow-back system. The flagship feature of the Banshee series of rifles is the CMMG’s patented radially delayed system. The beveled lugs on both the bolt and barrel extension cause the bolt to be pushed open as it pivots inside the carrier, the time it takes to rotate the bolt out of battery allows chamber pressures to drop to much lower pressures before opening. This feature also allows the Banshee to use much lighter carriers than traditional blow-back designs.

-Ripbrace “not-a-stock”. The pistol brace that comes with the Banshee has several locking points that are locked into position using the common rocker lever under the “stock”. The difference between this one and others is that the Ripbrace has beveled pin bosses in the rear-pulling direction, this allows the stock to be pulled as far to the rear as the user would like without the need to push any release rocker. It makes for fast and simple deployment of the weapon.

-Sixty vs. ninety degree safety. Most AR’s can take a an ambidextrous safety, but the ambidextrous safety provided by CMMG has a reversible center barrel that allows you to choose either sixty or ninety degrees of motion to safe or fire the weapon.

-Standard AR mags with adaptor. The Banshee Mk4 utilizes standard AR 5.56 sized magazines. The 9mm cartridges are made to fit using a magazine insert that uses its own internal feed ramp and follower.

-Ambi mag catch. Magazine catch controls are located on both sides of the receiver, allowing ambidextrous control of the magwell and it’s contents.

-Extended mag release. The Banshee comes standard with extended magazine release buttons, I found them more than adequate and added ease when dropping the magazine.

-Threaded barrel and compensator. The Banshee comes with a linear compensator to reduce muzzle rise, and underneath the muzzle was threaded 1/2-28. This is a must nowadays, as suppressor have become extremely popular.

CMMG has offered a wide selection of configurations for the Banshee, including six different Cerakote colors; black, green, tan, bronze, grey, and titanium. The Mk9 series of Banshee utilizes pistol magazines, but that’s for another story.

On the range
After mounting up a Sig Sauer Romeo on top of the Banshee, and grabbing a few accessories for it, I headed out the door with great expectations. I don’t much care for proper ranges, and I avoid them as best I can. So into the mountains I fled with a Banshee under my arm.
I began loading the curious magazine, which was much easier than I had anticipated. The inner mag adaptor has feed lips that mate to the existing P-mag feed lips, the front of the magazine adaptor is a long feed ramp. Stuffing thirty rounds into the magazine went quick, and it was time to empty it.
Shouldering this tiny little pistol felt so easy, the lightweight and size of it make you almost ball up into a a solid mass of pistol, elbows and arms bones. I started popping off several rounds, and the bumping of this little banging Banshee felt like just like I hoped it would feel. The light weight was matched by its light recoil, and before I knew it I was back to fumbling fresh cartridges into the magazines. I made a few adjustments to my Romeo, and went right back to shooting. The linear compensator wasn’t particularly noticeable, hard to say how much of a difference it made with such light recoil anyway.

My nine year old had come along with me, and as kids often do he started hinting at interest in shooting the Banshee. He’s shot plenty of other guns so this wasn’t a big ask, but I was supremely pleased as I watched how simple it was for him to handle and manipulate the gun. I collapsed the brace to better fit his little stature and off he went.

I am not one for making a racket, so it was time to see how this pistol would do suppressed. I had brought along my Yankee Hill Machine R9 suppressor, because I knew it was up to the task and easily swapped out the muzzle threads to fit the Banshee. I was shooting 124 grain supersonic ammunition so I wasn’t expecting it to be extremely quiet, but it did seem to be quieter than I expected. Most of the PCC’s I have shot in the past were blow-back designs, but delayed guns like this Banshee seem to be quieter still due to their breech staying closed longer.

With the Romeo and the R9 installed, we spent a good portion of the day making little piles of brass all over. I’m not sure what kind of accuracy you might expect from a 9mm carbine such as this, but hitting things like soda cans and six inch steel plates at fifty-yards seemed pretty easy. I would have liked to try some different ammunition in the gun to see if it had a preference for one over another, but the way things are at the gun counter right now I was lucky to get what I could.

Pros and Cons
There are quite a few pros when it comes to the Banshee, many of which I’ve already mentioned above. For me, the best pros of the Banshee are the weight and controllability. It almost felt like a toy compared to a CZ Scorpion or an MP5, and it was easy to control with almost zero muzzle rise when suppressed. The quality of the Banshee felt at or above its price point, with smooth fit and sexy finish. And all the little things like the extended mag buttons and such made this rifle feel perfect in my hands.

I suppose there are a couple things that I could call cons, but I’m not sure they can be blamed on the Banshee’s design alone. Short guns like this can be more than a little handy, and if you aren’t careful with your hand, you may find it has some new holes in it. CMMG put a good little hook at the front of the handguard to keep you from getting your fingers to close to the muzzle, but it’s still close enough that a careless move could cost a finger. This is of little concern to me as I will probably always use a suppressor on the gun. I’m still unsure if I would prefer the Mk9 Banshee over the need to put adaptors in several P-mags, but that is another thing to evaluate. Continue Reading Here…