From the Trenches to the Fields

The Trenches of WWI

After April of 1917, the United States Army was waging a terrible war in Europe. The US Military was deadlocked in a struggle with Germany in the war to end all wars. The conflict saw the use of machine guns, artillery, and chemical weapons. The carnage was on a scale previously unseen on the word stage. Despite the use of devastatingly effective weapons, the major powers that were competing for dominance locked themselves in a never-ending stalemate. The standoff was partially due to the implementation of trench warfare. Out of date military tactics had not kept up with weapons technology. The commanders on both sides failed to come up with strategies that allowed armies to take ground without heavy casualties. US soldiers needed something different to assist them in sweeping out German trenches. John Browning had been kind enough to develop something years earlier that would assist our troops in doing just that.

The army issued the M1903 Springfield to most of its doughboys during the war. The Springfield is a legendary bolt-action rifle that is effective to up to 1,100 yards. Although the Springfield was an effective battle rifle, it only shot one round at a time, and the bullet only hit in one area. A shotgun offered something different, although not effective at long range; a pump shotgun could engage a large number of targets inside 22 yards. Couple that with a bayonet and one shotgun soldier could give a whole squad of enemy troops a very hard time. The army chose to use a slightly modified version of the Winchester Model 1897, or M97. The M97 used a perforated steel heat shield on top of the barrel, and a bayonet lug for attaching the M1917 bayonet. It held a maximum of five shells in the chamber with one in the barrel, for a total of six rounds. Unlike most modern hammerless shotguns, the M97 could be slam-fired. All the shooter had to do was hold back the trigger while pumping through the rounds and the weapon would continue to cycle. Incredibly, American Soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting deployed themselves in positions where they could take out enemy hand grenades in mid air. Enemy messenger pigeons were also on the target list. The gun was so effective that in late September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest. They were attempting to ban the Winchester model 1897 shotgun, arguing that the weapon was illegal because it caused unnecessary suffering. The United States Army promptly rejected the German’s diplomatic proposal.

An M97 and a Norinco

The Model 1897 improved upon its predecessor, the Model 1893. Winchester strengthened the frame to allow for 2 3/4– and 2 5/8-inch shells. The designers placed the ejector on the side, rather than the top, which allowed a much greater amount of strength in the frame. While firing, the recoil of the gun gave a slight forward motion to the slide handle, which released the action, enabling immediate cycling of the gun. If the operator was not firing the gun, the slide handle had to be pushed forward manually in order to release the action slide lock.

Winchester produced several variants of the Model 1897 until 1957. During its 60 years on the market, Winchester produced over one million 1897s. Recently, Norinco (Interstate Arms) has developed a Winchester clone called the 97. Modern variants include the 97W, and the 97T. The 97W is the standard Winchester clone, while the 97T is a trench gun replica. Both are popular models since the original trench guns can cost upwards of 3,000 dollars, and are highly valued by collectors.

The 1897 in all its variants continues to be a popular choice among shotgun enthusiasts. Its legendary wartime record, combined with over a century of hunting experience, makes the 1897 a solid choice for any collector.

Check out our available Norinco Shotguns here.

Carolina Cup Gear Review

On Monday at the Shooter’s Log, I took a look at the 2011 Carolina Cup and the kind of match it was.  In short, it was the perfect example of what an IDPA match should be.  Today on Gun Nuts I want to take a look at the gear I used for the match and how it performed, starting with my most important piece of gear: my gun.  I’ve been running a Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations for a while now, and as many people have seen the gun has picked up some customized touches.


The gun is now sporting a 10-8 Performance Flat trigger, TechWell TGO Magwell, 10-8 Performance u-shaped rear notch, and an STI single side thumb safety.  During the Carolina Cup, the Sig went 213 rounds of ammo without a single bobble or malfunction, and has fired over 2000 rounds now since its last stoppage of any type.  One interesting issue I ran in to is something I’ve experienced with Techwell grips in the past, where the grip screws will start backing out after 50 or so rounds of ammo.  I’m going to put some small star washers under the screws to see if that solves the problem, because the current remedy of “tighten the grip screws every couple of stages” is kind of annoying.

My holster remained the same holster I’ve been using all year for IDPA – a Comp-Tac Speed Paddle, although the model I use for the Sig TacOps is somewhat…modified.  To find a holster that fits the Sig’s slide profile, I actually special ordered a Speed Paddle for a Sig P250 with an open muzzle, and then cranked the retention down until it fit the TacOps.  The result is a really great holster that provides excellent retention and speed for IDPA.  At the upcoming Virginia State match this weekend I’m going to be using a Galco Triton, my actual carry holster for the entire match.  My belt is also a Comp-Tac, their polymer reinforced belts are absolutely top notch.

People don’t think that their clothes are part of their gear, but the fact of the matter is that they certainly are.  One of my biggest sponsors is Woolrich Elite Tactical Gear, who has provided me with vests, shirts, and pants for shooting IDPA and USPSA this season.  The Elite Pant has honestly been the best thing that’s happened to me this season.  Even in the sweltering North Carolina heat, I was comfortable in my Woolrich pants, and I was especially glad to be wearing them on a number of stages that involved low cover.  For CDP shooters, the pant’s “cell phone pocket” that’s located on the thigh is the perfect place for the barney mag.  I’ve got to stick that extra round somewhere, and it’s much easier to get to in a simple flap pocket than it would be if I had to fish around in a deep cargo pocket.

My magazines are probably the most important part of the gun, and for mags I have been using Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines with great success.  They work reliably, are cost effective, and the best part about the screw-on basepads is that they don’t fall off when you’re practicing reloads on an unforgiving concrete surface.  I have 10 of these mags, and whenever I’m at the gunshop I’ll usually buy 2 or 3 more if I can afford it.  Since life is too short for crappy mags, you can’t have too many!

The gear you use is an important part of your competition system.  On Monday I’ll talk about how important it is to have ammo in your gun that you trust 100% in addition to everything else.

Down Zero TV: Classifier Breakdown

On today’s special Down Zero TV, we take a look at our first USPSA Classifier Breakdown.  Today’s classifier is CM 09-14: Eye of the Tiger.  This is a classifier that has given me trouble in the past; when I shot it for the first time I managed to score 18% in what I termed my first ever “classifier meltdown.” So when I had the chance to go after it again, I was pretty excited. Plus I got to play with slow motion on my video editor and mess around with voice overs.

Now, I mentioned in the video that I need to work on my press-out, and that’s very true. The problem is that I’ve developed an excellent physical index for my draw, which means that in most situations when I’m facing the target I can just draw the gun and it will magically appear in the A-zone or the down zero area. This becomes an issue when I’m drawing to a low probability target like a head box or a partially obscured target. You’ll see in the video that my gun comes out to the target, then bobs up as I correct my aim to get the shots on target. That bob is HUGE in terms of the amount of time it takes in the draw stroke and was likely the difference between an A-class score and a B-class score on that particular run.

I’ll always probably be a little intimidated by Eye of the Tiger, since it’s the only classifier that I’ve ever well and truly screwed up on. But to go from an 18% to a 68% is a pretty huge improvement!

Tiny Gun, Huge Punch

Many people have differing ideas about what a backup gun is. Is it a good idea to sacrifice magazine capacity for size? What caliber is best? What about reliability or accuracy? Some of you might be familiar with small pocket-sized pistols such as the Ruger LC9 or the Kahr PM9. These small, concealable firearms allow shooters to carry a bit of extra firepower out of sight. The new Diamondback firearm is something to consider. What if you had a firearm smaller than most .380 pistols that can carry a six-round magazine of 9mm stopping power, ready to fly at a moments notice? Enter the Diamondback DB9.


The first and most obvious advantage to this firearm is the ballistic superiority of the 9mm cartridge. Some experts say that the .380 round, in general, will expand or penetrate, not both. 9mm ammunition tends not to have this problem. There is a reason why many law enforcement and military personnel use the 9mm. It is light enough to carry a lot of ammunition, and heavy enough to put a bad guy down, which, for a belly gun, seems ideal to me. The next major feature this firearm brings to the table is its incredibly small size. At only .8 inches wide, it is just a tiny bit wider than the handle on my coffee cup. It fits on the inside of my belt line much more comfortably than any other 9mm’s I have tried. This could be, however, due to the lack of a slide catch on the side of the weapon. The grip is still easy to handle despite its ultra thin physique. The extended bottom plate makes holding this firearm much more comfortable. The ridges on the sides of the grip help to hold the gun firmly in your hand. Striations along the slide aid in chambering a round. When empty, the gun weighs in at only 11 ounces and has a very balanced feel. A steel trigger with dual-connecting bars allows for a crisp smooth, five-pound double-action-0nly (DAO) trigger pull. I noticed almost no creaking when cycling the weapon. Accuracy seemed to be spot on, the rounds shot to point of aim with no problem. The three-dot sight system on top of the gun is adjustable for windage, but did not need adjusting out of the box.

In firing the weapon, recoil was fairly pronounced but in a straight line, as opposed to whipping to one side or the other when cycling. We experienced no jamming or feeding problems when firing rounds through the gun.

Overall, the Diamondback DB9 is an excellent choice for a backup or belly gun. I like the idea of carrying something with a bit more bite than your average .380 pocket gun. A lot of firepower in a tiny, travel-sized package is to me, just plain genius.

Specifications and Features:

  • Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
  • Weight: 11 Ounces
  • Length: 5.60″
  • Height: 4.00″ with mag
  • Width: 0.80″
  • Barrel Length: 3.00″
  • Firing Mechanism: Striker Fire

9mm 1911s

It is quite obvious that I am a big fan of the 1911 platform, so much so that I will shoot a 1911 in CDP at the inaugural IDPA World Championship later this year. That being said, shooting a lot of .45 ACP can be unpleasant, especially when you are running a 350-round practice session.

Down Zero TV Special: Bushmaster ACR Run & Gun

One of the hottest rifles to hit the market in the last year was the Bushmaster ACR, or Adaptive Combat Rifle. The rifle’s inclusion in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare caused a legion of fanboys to spring up overnight declaring the ACR the best rifle ever. I finally got to shoot one at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, where the side match was sponsored by Bushmaster using the ACR. However, I’m strictly an average rifle shooter. To really see the rifle put through its paces, here’s Dianna Liedorff from Team FNH rocking the Bushmaster ACR at the Bianchi Cup side match.

Dianna is one of the top female 3-gun shooters in the country, so watching her shoot the rifle is a lot of fun. It’s nice to see professionals doing what they do best. If you’re interested in getting one of your own, you can purchase a Bushmaster ACR here, and don’t forget to get some 30 round magazines to go with it!

The 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup

Now that it’s Tuesday, I can finally look back and process all the great stuff that happened at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, from the shooting to the events and all the great people that I get to see at that match.  Our previous update took a look at the shooting from Day 1, where I shot the Practical and the Barricades, and needed a strong performance on the Plates to keep me in the running for a win in Production/MM.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as the Plates struck me down with all their fury and I finished the plates with a disappointing 360-36x.  Even with that score, I had a chance to hit my goal of a 1600 if I shot a 440 or better on the Mover on Day 3…and I came so close, shooting a new match-personal best on the Mover of 438.  That left me with a final score of 1598-80x, which was good enough for 4th Place in Production/MM division.

Now I’m obviously disappointed with that score – I know I can shoot better, but I struggled on the Plates and the Barricade.  However, there are a lot of positive takeaways from this match; one of the big ones is my X-count.  Using a factory stock Sig P250, almost half the rounds I fired were X’s, meaning they hit the 4 inch black circle at the center of the target.  That and my score are definite improvements from 2 years ago when I shot The Cup in ’09.  So obviously I’m getting better…just not fast enough for my taste.

Caleb shooting the Celebrity Pro-Am photo by Maggie Reese

Saturday brought my favorite day of Bianchi Cup – the Colt Speed Event and Celebrity ProAm Shoot Off.  This event is put on for fans and for bragging rights; it’s a head to head shoot-off at five pieces of steel each.  Fastest time wins.  The top 4 finishers from Production, Metallic, and Open all compete to see who’s top dog, and then the organizers turn the celebs and media in attendance loose for the ProAm.   The Celebrity event follows the same structure as the Colt Speed event, but with a slightly…uh…looser interpretation of the rules.  That loose rule interpretation resulted in me being matched up against Dave Sevigny, and you know what?  I did alright.  I’ll have video of the Caleb vs. Dave matchup and the full story later in the week.

The 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup was a great experience for me this year.  I learn things about my shooting during this match that I couldn’t learn from shooting Steel Challenge, IDPA, or USPSA and those lessons make me better at each of those sports.  I’ll be back at the 2012 Bianchi Cup looking to improve my score by another 150 points, win Production/MM and put myself in the Top 20 again in Production Division overall.

Once again, if you’d like to run any of the gear I used during the Cup, here is the gear breakdown.

The Gear

We’re going to have a tonne of exclusive video and other coverage up this week on the Shooter’s Log from Bianchi Cup, so make sure you check in tomorrow and through the rest of the week as the good stuff keeps on coming in.

Down Zero TV: Epic Steel Time

Last Saturday, I was shooting in Arnold, MO just south of St. Louis for the Central States ProAm Speed Plates match. This is a state-level match that is styled after Steel Challenge, but also includes “outlaw” stages in addition to the standard Steel Challenge stages. I actually prefer outlaw steel matches because by including stages not in the “standard” Steel Challenge book, they actually level out the playing field a little bit. Check out this week’s video for two of the twelve stages I shot on Saturday.

Gear Breakdown

And as usual, I’m wearing my Woolrich Elite Tactical Pants.  But let’s get on to the match itself.  We started shooting early in the day with six stages before lunch.  At the half-time break, I was leading Production division by about 16 seconds, which meant all I needed to do was not pull a Peyton Manning and choke in the second half.  My biggest weakness in matches like this the mental aspect; if I know I’m shooting well and have a lead, I honestly start to make mistakes.  Especially if there’s a chance that I could walk away with the top dog award.

The second half of the match was a real roller coaster ride for me – for the first time in 3000 rounds, my Sig P250 malfunctioned.  I had two separate failures to extract with the gun which caused me to really struggle on two of the final six stages.  I was able to pull it back together, and the Sig ran flawlessly for the remainder of the match.  After some waiting, the final results were posted – and I brought home my first Production win of the season!  Check out the Top 5 Production shooters from the match.

Now comes the funny part – when I got back to my hotel, I took my Sig apart to see if I could figure out what caused the malfs.  It turns out there was a bunch of crud caked on the extractor as a result of me not cleaning the gun for 3000 rounds.  Apparently you do in fact need to clean guns occasionally.  After cleaning the gun, I’ve not experienced any further issues.

For the rest of the week I’m in Columbia, Missouri for the NRA Bianchi Cup.  Shooting officially starts on Wednesday, and I open my run at the Production Division with the Practical and the Barricades Wednesday morning, followed by the Falling Plates on Thursday.  I close the week on Friday taking my shots at the Mover.  Stay tuned for updates from Bianchi Cup!

Down Zero TV Stats

  • Major Match best finish: 1st (Production)
  • Major Match Most Accurate: 0 (no competitions yet)
  • Major Match Top 10 Finishes: 2
  • Rounds fired: A bunch

Colt SP901 Modular Carbine

At the 2010 SHOT Show, Colt relased the military version of their Modular Carbine, the CM901. This select-fire version was able to quickly and easily be converted from a standard 5.56 NATO platform to a 7.62 NATO platform, or even 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. This year, Colt released the civilian version of the CM901, the SP901.

The SP901 has ambidextrous controls – safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever and magazine release button.

Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.

Best of all, the “Modular” part of the rifle comes from the fact that any standard upper can be fitted to the lower receiver and fed with normal AR magazines with the use of an adapter. This adapter is still a closely guarded secret but look forward to seeing more on the Colt Modular Carbine after the new year. Stay tuned for more!

The Colt CM901 Modular Carbine is a select-fire AR (AR-10/AR-15)-platform weapon, so it will immediately look, feel, handle, and shoot in a way that’s immediately familiar to all military end-users, including general infantry personnel. It also benefits from the AR platform’s now legendary ergonomics/usernomics.

2) The CM901 multi-caliber battle carbine can be configured in any/every caliber between 7.62×51mm NATO (7.62mm NATO)/.308 Win. and 5.56×45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem., including 6.8 SPC (6.8×43mm SPC) and 6.5 Grendel, depending on what U.S. military end-users require. To switch from 7.62mm to 5.56mm, just push out the two receiver pins, take the 7.62×51mm upper module off, slap the 5.56mm upper module on, push the two receiver pins back in, and you’re good to go.

3) The CM901 universal lower receiver will accept any/all legacy MILSPEC 5.56mm NATO AR rifle/carbine/SBR upper receivers already in the U.S. military inventory, including the, Colt M4/M4A1 Carbine 14.5″ AR carbine , M4 Commando 11.5″ AR SBR, MK18/CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) 10.3″ AR SBR, and M16A3/A4 20″ DGI rifle uppers. The CM901 lower will also accept the Colt LE6940 16″ monolithic upper and Colt LE6920 16″ M4/M4A1 Carbine-type uppers. Thus, 5.56mm barrel length is determined by whatever AR upper you want to use. Defense Review test-fired the Colt CM901 7.62mm upper sporting a 16″ barrel, but it’s DR’s understanding at present that 13″, 18″, and 20″ barrels will also be available per customer request (unconfirmed/unverified).

4) While the CM901 7.62mm upper receiver is a monolithic upper/rail format with a direct gas impingement (DGI) operating system, the CM901 can utilize just about any 5.56mm rifle/carbine/SBR operating system that Colt manufactures, including the Colt M4/M4A1 DGI system, Colt APC (Advanced Piston Carbine)articulating-link gas piston/op-rod (operating rod) system, Colt AHC (Advanced Hybrid Carbine) DGI/piston-driven hybrid system, and Colt ACC-M (Advanced Colt Carbine-Monolithic) monolithic DGI upper. Defense Review does not yet know whether or not the CM901 lower can be configured to work with the Colt SCW (Sub-Compact Weapon) SBR upper, since the SCW utilizes a special short buffer system and buffer tube, which allows it to utilize a folding/telescoping buttstock.

5) The CM901 sports fully ambidextrous controls a.k.a. “full ambi controls”, including ambidextrous safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever, and magazine release button.

6) The CM901 when configured for .308 Win utilizes the MagPul 20LR 7.62 magazine. The weapon will also accept the SR25/M100 7.62mm magazine. The weapon when configured for 5.56mm will accept all “MILSPEC” 5.56mm magazines.

7) Being an AR, the CM901 can utilize some aftermarket tactical AR rifle parts and accessories, like telescoping/retractable buttstocks, and trigger/hammer groups. Colt Defense had both Vltor IMOD and Vltor EMOD stocks for the CM901 prototype on hand, while I was there, but you can stick a MagPul CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) stock or LMT SOPMOD/SOCOM/Crane NSW stock on there, if you’d like. Editor’s Note: Defense Review likes all three buttstocks (Vltor IMOD, MagPul CTR, and LMT SOPMOD).

The CM901 will provide the military end-user with a select-fire AR platform weapon in any caliber between 5.56mm and 7.62×51mm, allowing him to use any “MILSPEC” 5.56mm AR upper receiver he wants, also allowing him to use any 5.56mm AR operating system Colt Defense offers, and lets him choose his barrel length. Colt Defense is even in the process of developing their articulating link piston and DGI/piston hybrid operating systems for the 7.62×51mm CM901 upper receiver module.

The CM901 Upper Receiver Modularity concept: just change out your upper receiver assembly to re-configure the weapon for the mission, without having to re-zero your weapon and you’re ready to go. Examples of upper receiver configurations users could have are:

Military operators are already used to swapping out AR uppers with optics pre-mounted and zero’d. They like this system, and they trust it–and it’s already battle-proven.

Defense Review spoke with CTT Solutions/Grey Group Training tactical instructor, retired U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) assaulter/operator, and Defense Review contributor Mike Pannone a few days ago about the CM901, and asked him his opinion about it vs. the FN SCAR weapons, assuming FN fully develops the SCAR “common receiver”. Mike prefers the AR rifle system’s upper receiver modularity to the FN SCAR quick-change barrel system/”trigger module” combo, and he had this to say (or, in this case, write) about a barrel change/lower receiver module system (SCAR) vs. modular upper receiver change system (CM901):

People often confuse quick change with modularity when it comes to weapons systems. They are in fact completely different concepts in nearly every regard.
For the sake of discussion let’s talk about quick-change barrels vs. modular upper receivers (AR/M-4 type platform).

First, the definition: quick-change means that parts of an existing weapons system can be replaced with the same replacement part (think fixture point, not cosmetics or barrel length) in a relatively rapid manner with minimal or no tools. I emphasize “relatively” because that is subject to end user specifications. Quick change can be 5 minutes (LMT MRP barrel) or 10 seconds (M249 barrel), so it’s relative.

Modular means a family of parts and accessories will fit on any system that uses a standardized mounting platform. The AR family of weapons and the [Mil-Std-1913] Picatinny rail are the best example of modularity. The AR system, as well, is in its 2 primary components a modular system; push two pins and you can swap complete uppers, even between nearly all manufacturers.

The capability provided by the CM901 gives an additional dimension to [military] operators. No longer will a warfighter get stuck running a DMR [Designated Marksman Rifle] in an urban warfare environment, where the platform might not suit that particular moment of combat. Those days of a sniper carrying a rifle in a backpack, while fighting his way into position with a handier weapon, are a thing of the past with the advent of the CM901. Today, a warfighter can have his cake and eat it too, fighting with a MK18 Mod1 on a CM901 lower while the .308-based CM901 is carried in a padded backpack. When the occasion arises, the operator can change out the 5.56mm CQB-R and instantly go to a .308 rifle [CM901 7.62mm upper] for the counter sniper role, or any situation that requires a designated marksman.

The only downfall I see would be the logistics of keeping two separate calibers within one shooter’s loadout. But with 5.56 [mags] carried on the vest, the .308 magazines could be carried in a pack since the shooter is already dropping the backpack in order to access the .308 platform.

Colt Defense’s approach to weapon design is to determine the warfighter requirement and then to provide a solution.

Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.

The following are some Colt CM901 specs:

Direct Gas System

  • Caliber: .308 winchester
  • Barrel: 16.1″ heavy profile full floated, chromed, 4 grooves, 1:12″ RH twist
  • Pronged Flash Hider and Bayonet Lug
  • Ambidextrous Controls
  • Flip-Up, adjustable front and rear sights
  • Length Extended: 37.5″
  • Length Collapsed: 34.24″
  • Weights: 9.4 lbs
  • Accepts Mil-Spec 5.56 Colt Uppers
  • Matte Black


Colt CM901 7.62×51mm Carbine Features:

• Universal Lower Receiver-
– Unique design enables use of multiple calibers from 5.56 x 45mm up to and including 7.62 x 51mm available within a single serialized receiver
– Compatible with legacy M4/M16 magazines, and upper receiver/barrel assemblies with multiple barrel lengths
– Built in ambidextrous bolt catch, magazine catch, and selector
– Compatible with M4/M16 Trigger mechanisms
– Configurable with new Colt operating systems and designs

• Modular One-Piece Upper Receiver-
– Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum
– Steel inserts in critical wear areas provide higher level of reliability and extended service life of upper receiver
– Integral continuous MIL-STD-1913 rail extends the length of the receiver, providing rigidity, and uninterrupted mounting space
– Rigid MIL-STD-1913 rails at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
– Removable Lower Rail at the 6 o’clock position allows for attachment of accessories like the forward grip, M203 and M320 grenade launchers, and other mission essential ancillary devices

• Barrel
Free floating barrel, 4 groove, 1 in 12” twist rate
Available in optional barrel lengths of 13”, 16, & 18”
Suppression Capable- Utilizes the SEI Vortex Compensator

• Bolt
– New advanced material providing extended service life of the bolt and reduces life-cycle costs

• Magazine
New Robust Polymer Construction
Compatible with the M110, MK11, and SR25 metal magazines

• Adjustable Folding Front Sight
Offers mounting of multiple sights and ancillary devices without obstruction of standard front sight post

• Mil-Spec Hard Coat Anodize-
– Available in multiple camouflage colors and patterns

Colt CM901 Benefits:

– Modular operating system

• Universal Lower Receiver permits the individual user — with no special tools — to convert a “single serialized lower receiver” into multiple caliber, barrel-length, and operating system configurations

• Eliminates need for non-standard weapon systems, and training for those systems, that are currently employed in the Battlespace in order to support Warfighter Multi-Caliber requirements to meet changing mission needs

• Designed to accept all legacy M4/M16 Colt upper receiver assemblies

• Designed for ease of disassembly, maintenance, and reassembly

– Stable platform for mounting optics and other ancillary devices to enhance mission performance and capability

• Reliable Zero Retention and Zero Repeatability provided by the rigid one-piece upper receiver design

• One-Piece Upper Receiver design reduces the number of components, increases rigidity, and provides system weight savings

– Improved Durability and Reliability

• Hardened Steel inserts in high wear areas of the upper receiver provides extended life

• New Advanced Bolt material enhances system life

• New Extractor and Extractor Spring enhances system reliability and durability

– Improved Accuracy

• Free Floating Barrel system incorporates a new barrel extension to upper receiver interface to improve accuracy and hit probability

– Ergonomically compatible with the M4 Carbine

• Very low Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities (DOTMLPF) footprint in fielding to the Warfighter

• No need to re-train Warfighters on new system, only familiarize with upgrades

– Quality- ISO 9001:2008

– Made in the U.S.A and built to U.S. MIL-SPEC”

Autoloaders: .22 Rifle Edition

There have been many different autoloading rifles chambered for the extraordinarily popular and inexpensive .22 Long Rifle cartridge over the years. A few stand out as the leaders of the pack. Autoloading .22s fall into one of two design categories: traditional or modern.

Traditional Designs

Browning SA-22 Grade 1

Browning SA-22 Grade 1

The Browning SA-22 is one of the first autoloading .22 rifles ever produced. Production started in 1914, by FN Herstal in Belgium, and continues today in various countries, depending on the Grade level. The rifle’s takedown design features a slim and stylish receiver and barrel, and requires no tools to separate the two compact halves. There are several different Grade levels and options currently available, and many more offered since its introduction. Since 1914, the number of SA-22s sold has exceeded over half a million.

Introduced in 2006, the Mossberg 702 Plinkster is a lightweight, rugged, and reliable. It features an aluminum receiver with grooves for mounting a scope, free-floating barrel, and a bolt hold-open function. There are several versions available, featuring different stocks, colors, and finishes.

The Remington 597, introduced in 1997, is built in Remington’s Mayfield, Kentucky manufacturing plant. It features a free-floating barrel and a unique bolt-guidance system that uses two steel guide rails for added stability, reliability, and greater accuracy. Although it is not the most popular of the autoloading .22 rifles, there are several models available, as well as many different aftermarket parts and accessories.

Ruger 10-22

Ruger 10/22

Ruger hit the jackpot when they released the 10/22. It is arguably the most prolific autoloading .22 rifle on the planet. Since its introduction in 1964 more than a million of these rifles have seen action. The 10/22 is well-suited for target shooting, plinking, and small game hunting. It is well-balanced, rugged, reliable, and accurate. Though it is available in a wide variety of configurations from the factory, the aftermarket scene is where you will find a massive amount of accessories and replacement parts. In fact, you can find an aftermarket version of every part of the rifle, allowing you to create a 100% custom 10/22.

The Cradle of Pistol shooting

Smith & Wesson M&P with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

Next week, I’ll be at Gunsite Firearms Academy with Crimson TraceS&W, and Galco.  We’re going to be playing with the new Crimson Trace Lightguard for the M&P pistol, pictured at left from SHOT 2011. Galco has a new holster that’s designed to fit the M&P with the Lightguard attached, which we’ll also be trying out.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. Today, we’re talking about Gunsite Firearms Academy, the cradle of pistol instruction.  I’m not old enough to actually have taken classes at Gunsite when Jeff Cooper was teaching, nor do I “remember” in the strictest sense the great rift when Col. Cooper sold Gunsite, then eventually reacquired it. What I do remember is sitting in the Coast Guard Academy pistol team’s ready room reading Cooper’s Corner in the back of Guns and Ammo and actually thinking about pistol shooting as more than just a sport. You see, without Jeff Cooper and Gunsite, we wouldn’t have our modern shooting culture. 99% if all not of the modern training schools owe their origins to Gunsite in one way or another; trainers came from there, added their own techniques and knowledge to the Modern Technique, and pistol shooting grew as a martial art across the nation until we have what you see today.

The same is true for competition shooting as well – without Jeff Cooper, there would be no IPSC, and without IPSC we wouldn’t have IDPA, Steel Challenge, USPSA, and 3-gun. Just like in those early days, competition shooting still continues to drive innovation in the combat shooting arena. When Rob Leatham and Brian Enos started shooting modern Iso instead of a Weaver-ish stance, it was a huge breakthrough. Now modern Iso is the industry standard, with only a few schools still teaching Weaver.

Choke Tubes Explained

The inside bore constriction at the muzzle end of a shotgun’s barrel is known as the “choke.” When a shotshell is fired, shot travels down the bore, exits the muzzle and begins to “spread out.” Just as a nozzle on the end of a garden hose controls the spray of water, the choke controls the spread of shot, making it narrower or wider.

The three basic chokes for a shotgun are known as full (tight constriction and delivers a narrow, dense spread), modified (less constriction and delivers a medium-width spread) and improved cylinder (even less constriction and delivers a wide, open spread). A gun with no choke is called a cylinder bore and delivers the widest spread. There are also a number of specialty chokes that provide narrower or wider spreads – some of the most popular are for skeet shooting and turkey hunting.

The Ruger SR1911

It’s the most famous pistol ever produced. More than 100 years old, the design has endured largely unchanged. Almost every pistol manufacturer throughout the world has made one at some point or another, and yet most attempts at improvements fall short and John Moses Browning’s design continues along the same as it has since 1911. That’s right, the 1911 pistol is an icon and is revered by many as quite possibly the perfect design.

Sure, metallurgy and materials technology have allowed for newer more modern designs that incorporate super-light super-strong polymer components. Advances in cartridge development has created loads with faster muzzle velocities and bullets with better expansion. But JMB’s famous design persists as a viable combat pistol.

This year, the 100th anniversary of the military’s adoption of the design, many manufacturers have come out with commemorative models of the 1911. Rumors circulated around the internet and were whispered in hushed tones at the 2011 SHOT Show by retailers and manufacturers alike anticipating the announcement that Ruger would be bringing to market their own variation of the 1911.

At long last Ruger has confirmed the rumors in a recent press release announcing their reincarnation of the design.

Ruger is proud to announce their new SR1911, an “All American” classic rendition of John Browning’s most famous handgun design. The public debut of the Ruger SR1911 pistol will take place during the NRA Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania April 29 – May 1.

The single‐action .45 Auto Ruger SR1911 features a bead‐blasted stainless steel frame and slide, precision CNC machined for a precise slide‐to‐frame fit. The stainless steel barrel and bushing are produced simultaneously, from the same ordnance‐grade barstock, for a precise fit and improved accuracy. The slide features rear cocking serrations and a dovetailed three‐dot sight system with a Novak® rear sight and standard front sight.

“We are very proud to offer a 1911 pistol, an icon of American gun design and manufacturing,” said Ruger CEO Michael Fifer. “In this 100‐anniversary year of the introduction of the Government Model 1911 it is only fitting that such a firearm be completely manufactured in America with all American‐made components.”

The Ruger SR1911 pistol features a titanium firing pin and heavy firing pin spring, which negates the need for a firing pin block, offering an updated safety feature to the original “Series 70” design without compromising trigger pull weight. An extended thumb safety offers improved manipulation and an oversized beavertail grip safety provides positive function and reliability. A visual inspection port offers visual confirmation of a round in the chamber.

Positive extraction is facilitated by an improved internal extractor. The plunger tube for both the slide stop and thumb safety is integral to the frame and will never shoot loose. The swaged link pin also will not shoot loose. The SR1911 uses a skeletonized hammer and an aluminum, skeletonized trigger with an adjustable over‐travel stop. The Ruger SR1911 features a standard recoil guide system and flat mainspring housing.

The Ruger SR1911 grips feature a Ruger logo in checkered hardwood panels. Each pistol is shipped with one 7‐round and one 8‐round stainless steel magazine, bushing wrench and a soft case. The SR1911 will fit currently available 1911 size holsters.

The SR1911 slide and barrel bushing are both CNC machined from a single piece of stainless steel bar stock to ensure that both pieces fit together perfectly. The frame and plunger housing of the pistol is investment cast as a single piece as well.

The most notable thing about Ruger’s SR1911 is that it uses an older design that does not incorporate Colt’s Series 80 firing pin block. The Series 80 design, and the similarly designed Swartz safety device, consisted of a series of levers that blocked the firing pin, preventing the gun from firing unless they were moved out of the way by depressing the trigger. This additional lock-work, by necessity, made the trigger more gritty and difficult to pull. By eliminating the Series 80 firing pin block and going with a light titanium firing pin and stronger firing pin spring, Ruger made the trigger that much lighter and smoother. The trigger itself, along with the hammer, features the lightweight skeletonized design sought after by many 1911 aficionados.

To purchase your own Ruger SR1911 pistol, or to find accessories for the Ruger SR1911 or other Ruger firearms, visit

Ruger SR1911 Specifications

Caliber .45 ACP
Capacity 7+1 and 8+1 (both magazines included)
Trigger Pull 4 pounds
Weight 2 pounds 11 ounces
Overall Height 5.5 inches
Overall Length 8.6 inches
Barrel Length 5 inches
Sights Novak 3-dot

The Guns of Top Shot 2

Tuesday night’s episode of Top Shot Reloaded was by far my favorite, not just because it featured my friend and season 1 winner Iain Harrison, but because it had (in my opinion) the most awesome firearm selection of the episodes so far.  What really made the episode interesting is that the guns were personally selected by Iain for the challenge (which itself was strongly influenced by Iain’s 3-gun background).  The first gun that Iain chose for the challenge was the Sig P228, also known as the M11 in the US Army.  This gun competed against the Beretta for the Army’s XM9 pistol trials, and successfully completed the trials along with the Beretta.  The Army eventually chose the Beretta due to its lower overall price than the Sig P228.  However, the Sig P228 still saw service with the Navy SEALs and a host of federal law enforcement agencies.

The next gun up was the Browning Hi Power.  This gun was the standard service sidearm of the British military for quite some time; in fact it was the most common military sidearm in the world until it was gradually phased out by most countries in favor of more modern designs such as Glocks or Sigs.  Interestingly, the Hi Power was replaced in service with the British Army by the Sig P226, the big brother of the Sig P228.

The two rifles on Tuesday’s episode of Top Shot are both icons of military service.  The AR-15 rifle is the most common sporting rifle in the United States today, and has served the US military in conflict since the 1960s.  The AR15 is arguably the most common rifle in the free world, with its only competitor being the second rifle Iain selected for the episode: the FN FAL.  The FAL has been referred to as The Right Arm of the Free World, and has been used by more countries as their battle rifle than any other long arm in the free world.  Reliable, accurate, and in my opinion just a dead sexy platform.

The challenge itself was a lot of fun, but the guns were what made it for me.  Brownings and FALs are extremely evocative for me, bringing to mind images of soldiers in South America fighting against drug dealers and corrupt dictators.

If you missed Tuesday’s episode of Top Shot on History, check it out at the link.

Barrel Twist AR15

Barrel Twist in the AR-15

Since the early days of firearm building, armorers noted that if they imparted spin to the projectile that it greatly enhanced in-flight stability and accuracy. The earliest rifles had numerous bands of metal that were forged together and twisted to create the helical shape of the rifle groves. As machining processes were developed and refined, hammer forged barrels became popular as they were much stronger and much more precise.


The Ruger SR9c in action

Yesterday, we had a post up about the Ruger SR9c, which is in my opinion one of the “best buys” on the market for someone looking for a compact defensive firearm. It’s so good that it can be used as a competition firearm quite readily. Here are some match videos of the Ruger SR9c in action.

The video to the right is the Ruger SR9c shooting Limited-10 division at the 2010 USPSA Indiana State Championship. Despite scoring minor, the little Ruger helped me finish 12th overall in a division dominated by double stack 1911s in .40 S&W and Glock 35s hotted up to be race guns.

This second video really lets the SR9c shine – in an IDPA match, using the Ruger I finished 3rd overall in Stock Service Pistol, out of 40+ other shooters. It’s a great gun, and even better – you can easily remove the magazine disconnect safety to make it an even better gun!

Lone Wolf Timberwolf

We’ve got an exclusive first look at Lone Wolf Distributors’ brand new .40 caliber race gun. This custom race gun was developed in part by Team Cheaper Than Dirt! shooter Patrick Kelley, and incorporates Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame and their hybrid ported Werewolf slide.

USPSA legal