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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 www.maggiereeseshooting.com

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.

Bianchi Cup Day 1 Report

Yesterday marked the first day of competition at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, and it was certainly an interesting day.  I opened the

Maggie Reese shoots the Practical

day shooting the Practical Match, and then followed up later on the Barricade event.  As much as I enjoy shooting Bianchi Cup, yesterday was a rough day.  The squads on the Barricade and the Practical started late due to equipment failure, which was compounded by a scheduling foul-up that by the end of the day had lots of shooters unable to shoot their events.  The Barricade, my second event started almost 2 hours behind the scheduled start time, which was a cause of frustration for many shooters.

Off of the bad stuff and on to the shooting, where we’ll start with the Practical.  As usual, I’m using my Sig P250 for all the shooting this week, and for ammo I’ve been shooting Speer 115 grain FMJ Lawman ammo.  The Practical is broken down and shot at 4 distances, 1o yards, 15 yards, 25 yards, and 50 yards.  At 10 yards there is also a string of six shots of weak-hand only fire.  After struggling at 10, I put together several good strings at 15, 25, and 50 to keep myself above 400, staying on pace for my goal of breaking 1600 and winning Production Marksman division.

On the Barricades however, it was a different story.  At 25 and 35 yards, my right side target looked like it had been hit with a shotgun, and not in the center of the target.  No tens, four 8s, seven 5s, and one miss absolutely wrecked my score, and after I had been having a good week in practice it was particularly crushing to turn in a 390 on the Barricade event.  However, my score on the Practical was high enough to compensate for that, keeping me on pace to break 1600, which would be an improvement of 150 points from my very first score at Bianchi Cup.

The scores were posted for review in the evening – I’m currently in 2nd place in Production/MM division; I’m going to need to a good showing on the Plates and a very strong Mover to close that up.  I’m excited for the Mover on Saturday, it’s been my best event historically and I think I can pick up quite a few points this year.

Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?

Hurricane Katrina in Atlantic

Hurricane Katrina in Atlantic, 2005 Credit: NASA, Public Domain

Widespread catastrophes have been filling the news bulletins in recent weeks. The tragic earthquakes in Japan and strong thunderstorms whirling across tornado alley are just the most recent in man’s ongoing struggle with Mother Nature. What kinds of disasters do we have to deal with here in the United States? The truth is our country is so vast that there really isn’t a catastrophe that couldn’t happen here. Too often people are caught off guard and act surprised when their home, sitting in the bottom of a flood plain, suddenly has a water slide where the stairs used to be. In this article, the first of a three part series, I’m going to talk about some of the potential hazards that face us every day here at home, and what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.


One of the most obvious hazards that face our country today is terrorism. Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, federal agencies have thwarted a number of attacks on U.S. soil. Terror attacks can come in many forms and can have disastrous results. Aside from numerous conventional attacks like an improvised explosive device, or a hidden bomb on an aircraft, a chemical, radiological, or biological attack could come at any time despite the best efforts of our government. A chemical attack is anything that uses the toxic properties of a chemical substance. Chemical agents used could be anything ranging from the earlier forms of chemical warfare like chlorine or mustard gas. Some of the newer and more frightening agents are v-series nerve agents or sarin gas. A biological attack, on the other hand, is particularly frightening due to the fact that it may be some time before the population even realizes that an attack has occurred. Smallpox, anthrax, and tularemia are just a few of the agents potentially deployable to cause mayhem in our cities. From a radiological standpoint, there are basically two different types: an improvised nuclear device and a dirty bomb. With a dirty bomb, radioactive material rigged to a conventional explosive, spreads radioactive material over a widely populated area. An improvised nuclear device, on the other hand, an actual nuclear explosion occurs with mushroom cloud and all. Find yourself in a situation like one of these unprepared and the results could be catastrophic for yourself as well as those around you. Defending against terrorism is now and continues to be a top priority of our government, and our allies around the world.

Natural Disasters

Since this is not a perfect world, global terrorism is not our only concern. In the arena of widespread catastrophes, hurricanes seem to cause an incredible amount of damage. Hurricane Katrina stands out as the single most costly natural disaster in the history of the United States, and one of the five deadliest hurricanes. The storm cost this country approximately $81 billion (2005 USD) and about 1,836 human lives. While extensive and costly damage is difficult to avoid, it is possible to avoid loss of life. Some estimates claim that nearly 80% of the 1.3 million residents of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area evacuated. Many evacuees did not leave their homes with the proper supplies resulting in countless abandoned vehicles along the interstates. Those that sheltered in place, despite the mandatory evacuation, had far worse issues with supplies like clean water, food, and medicine. Despite the tireless efforts of nearly 47,000 National Guard and federal troops, many people died of dehydration, crime, and lack of medicine. As the region slowly returned to order, the aftermath the storm left behind burned permanent images into the national consciousness. Using some of these images we can learn from our past mistakes, and move forward better prepared for what Mother Nature has in store.

Natural disasters are no stranger to the Japanese. The recent earthquakes in Japan have had the world watching in a state of sympathetic awe. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake measured a magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale. The subsequent tsunami generated waves of 128 feet and destroyed entire coastal regions of Japan. If we could harness the surface energy of that quake, we could power the entire city of Los Angeles for an entire year. The quake also moved parts of Japan almost eight feet closer to the United States. Earthquakes remain one of the deadliest forms of natures’ fury that mankind has struggled with in our history on this planet. In the United Sates, we too have to deal with earthquakes in many regions, the San Andreas Fault lies in the western part of the country, and one day, as it has in the past, it will release untold amounts of energy and the population will feel the effects across a vast distance.

Hurricane Katrina flooded housing

Image Ownership: Public Domain

In the middle part of the United States, where I have lived all my life, we face a particularly sneaky nuisance. Hiding inside many thunderstorms that roll across our vast Texas skies tornadoes loom, waiting to drop down from the clouds and destroy everything in their path. When I was a child I remember my mother and father telling me that if a tornado ever comes, to grab a mattress and hide either in the hall closet, or the bathtub. I remember being terrified every time we went under a tornado watch, and when the air raid sirens blared across the neighborhood a couple times a month in spring, I would grab the family dogs and take cover, hoping the storm would spare my house. I was fortunate to have never been directly hurt in a tornado, but many others were not so lucky. So far in 2011, 875 tornadoes have claimed nearly 500 lives across the United States. 2011 is on pace to be the most active year on record for tornadoes.

These are just a few brief examples of widespread mayhem that can occur with little or no warning. We have only scratched the surface of what has and could potentially go wrong on the world stage. Despite the apparent differences in threats that face us, one thing remains constant. Time and again, it is clear we can save more lives with better preparation. If everyone in New Orleans had a 72-hour kit ready to go, the death toll would most likely not be quite as severe. Being properly prepared with quality gear could be the deciding factor between being, and not being around for the next series of events to unfold. Stay tuned next week when we tackle what type of equipment you need to be one of the survivors, and not one of the statistics.

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

Today in History: The Hughes Amendment

Do you remember the shocking images of the North Hollywood shootout? How about the days of prohibition when early fully automatic weapons such as the Thompson submachine gun and the Browning Automatic Rifle, were used to commit numerous crimes in our country? To some the banning of machine guns seems like a natural, moral act. To others, the perception is a violation of gun owners’ rights. Whatever your political view, in the early morning hours of May 19, 1986 the federal government did exactly that. The amendment was part of a larger act called the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA). This law had many smaller portions such as the “Safe Passage” provision—which states that gun owners would not face incarceration for a firearms offense if they were considered to be “traveling.” This law also established a registry prohibition, forbidding the government from keeping a registry directly linking non-National Firearms Act firearms to their owners. Later revisions include a national background check, as well as a clarification of prohibited persons. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) interpreted the Hughes Amendment as a prohibition on the civilian possession of any fully-automatic firearm manufactured after May 19, 1986. This led to freezing the number of privately-owned fully-automatic firearms at about 150,000 nationwide. This freeze led to great controversy. At the time there had been almost no record of a legally owned, civilian fully automatic firearm used to commit a violent crime. The director of the BATF, Stephen Higgins, testified that the misuse of legally-owned fully-automatic firearms was “so minimal as not to be considered a law enforcement problem.”

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”

Umarex Unleashed – M4 OPS Semi Automatic Carbine

Carl Walther Germany, through a license agreement with New Colt Holding Corp., unveils the Colt Tactical Rimfire semi-automatic rifle in .22 LR and is importing them through Umarex USA.
Teaming with aesthetic appeal, Walther creates a weapon that has the look and feel of a standard 5.56×45 NATO M4. This weapon has a full-length Picatinny quad-rail system for mounting endless accessories such as the Umarex Colt .22 Tactical Rimfire Folding Rear Sight or the Umarex Colt .22 Tactical Rimfire Carry Handle.

The Details

Umarex Colt M4 OPS Semi Automatic Carbine

Umarex Colt M4 OPS

A flat top receiver and 16.2-inch barrel allow for easy maneuverability. The adjustable telestock, mounted on the back of the weapon, allows the firearm to fit any shooter’s style. The aluminum barrel sleeve is CNC-machined and anodized for a finishing touch. The barrel twist is 1 in 13-3/4 inches with six rifling grooves. Unlike a traditional AR-15, this firearm uses a blowback operation instead of a direct gas impingement.

The slide, held to the rear by an internal slide catch that activates when the magazine follower extension pushes upward when the last shot fires, allows for fast tactical reloading.

The front and rear sights are adjustable for elevation and the rear sight is also adjustable for windage.

You can adjust the bolt speed for your particular ammunition type by simply turning a screw with the provided Allen wrench. To access this screw, merely disengage the charging handle and tilt the upper receiver forward. This will present the screw just below the charging handle. This position is ideal for cleaning the weapon as Walther recommends that you not take down the firearm any further.

The magazine release is easy to reach and is located just above the trigger guard on the right side of the lower receiver just below the dust cover. The safety, located just above the pistol grip on the left side of the lower receiver, rotates forward and backwards at a somewhat odd 180 degrees.

During our testing, using Aguila, Armscor, and Federal bulk ammunition, the weapon cycled 100% of the time with no jamming issues. The 10- round magazine was a bit cumbersome due to its relatively low capacity. The single-stage trigger has a pull of 6 pounds, 9 ounces.

Included accessories are:

  • A wrench for removing the muzzle break
  • An Allen wrench for the bolt speed adjustment screw
  • An owner’s manual

The Downside

Although the look and feel of the Tactical Colt M4 is very close to a traditional AR-15, some minor differences are present. The bolt stop paddle is present but not functional, as well as the forward assist located just to the right of the charging handle.

True Value

The value of this firearm lies in its appearance and low cost of ammunition associated with the .22 LR. Perfect for plinking, the Colt .22 Tactical Rimfire is an excellent choice for any shooter who wants a rifle that is both fun to shoot and great to look at.

Be sure to check out the Umarex Colt M4 OPS Semi Automatic Carbine.

Team CTD Match Recap: Washington State Steel Challenge

This past weekend, both Pat Kelley and I shot the Washington State Steel Challenge match.  For those that have never shot it before, Steel Challenge in its traditional format consists of the same 8 stages at every “official” match.  The best way to practice for Steel Challenge is to do just that – set up the stages and shoot them over and over and again until you develop a serious index and are able to shoot every stage as fast as possible.  At the top of the game, guys like Dave Sevigny and JJ Racaza are shooting the match in less than 100 seconds aggregate time with iron sighted guns.  It is the purest display of speed in the shooting sports – either you hit the steel faster than the other guy or you don’t, no ambiguity whatsoever.

Duty Calls – CZ 75 P-07 Duty

CZ 75 P-07 DUTY

CZ 75 P-07 Duty

The CZ P-07 is a new addition to the CZ handgun lineup. The advanced OMEGA trigger system installation improves trigger pull and allows fewer moving parts. The user can mount a laser sight or light attachment on the Picatinny rail, which rests on the underside of the barrel. A 16-round 9mm or 12-round .40 caliber magazine allow for a large amount of ammunition. You also have the ability to choose between a decoking lever or a manual safety by a simple parts change. Gunsmithing is not required to complete this task. Equipped with a three-dot sight system, excellent accuracy is easy to achieve. The polymer frame design and sleek slide profile reduce the weight drastically. On the polymer frame, the striations make the grip more secure. The advanced design and superior materials extend the service life of the CZ P-07 Duty. At only a pound an a half, the lightweight and sleek profile makes the Duty an excellent choice for concealed carry, or open carry on the hip.

This firearm is also featured on the cover of our June 2011 catalog.

Down Zero TV: I want my Single Stack back

This week on Down Zero TV, I took a short break from shooting IDPA matches and trying to get down zero to shoot the first match in the Northwest Championship USPSA Series. The Northwest Championship is sort of like the NASCAR “points” series, except for USPSA in the state of Washington. There are several matches across the different USPSA clubs in the Northwest, with each match being worth either 1 or 2 points. At the end of the season, the match percentages are averaged and the winners are awarded class and division trophies. The first Section match of the season was held at Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club in Bremerton, WA. Here’s the match breakdown, all six stages with third-person video.

My Sig P250s are currently being worked on, so I switched things up to a classic single stack 1911, in this case it was a Colt 1911 XSE Rail Gun. Here is the gear used in the video that’s important:

The reason I shot Limited-10 instead of Single Stack is twofold. First off I just like L10.  There’s something about it that amuses me more than shooting Single Stack or Production, and I’ve said before that I believe it’s USPSA’s most under utilized division.  The second part of the reason is that with all the practice I’ve been doing for Production division, I’m getting in the habit of developing strategies around 10 round guns, and I don’t want to break that habit until I switch to Single Stack and CDP before the World Shoot.

For my first championship series match, I’m not really happy with my overall performance.  While the scores haven’t been posted yet, I’m confident that I did well enough in L10 to set the stage for a successful run at the Northwest Championship, but at the same time I know that I didn’t shoot to the best of my ability.  The next Northwest Championship series match that will be a part of Down Zero TV will be July 24th; I’m going to have a lot of opportunities in the meantime to tighten up my L10 game to make a run at that title!

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.

Shooting in Foul Weather

Gathering rain clouds don’t have to postpone your springtime trip to the range.

As the winter weather ebbs away and warmer breezes encourage us to get outside and enjoy the return of spring, many of us begin to gather our rifles, pistols, and shotguns and head out to the range to get some practice after a long winter spent indoors. With the return of warmer temperatures comes spring rains and weather that is, while somewhat warmer, a wet and soggy mess. It’s not just the rains that can turn your outdoor range into a mud hole, melting snow after months of accumulation can turn normally solid ground into a boot sucking swamp.

Most people are deterred from heading outdoors when dark clouds gather and rain pelts the roof of the house. Even when the sun is shining, a soggy trail suitable for only a 4-wheel drive vehicle can keep many shooters from reaching their outdoor shooting range. But others, like myself, are undeterred. Come rain, shine, snow, or hail… ok, maybe not hail. That stuff hurts. But barring hail, lightning, or a howling tornado, you can likely find me braving the elements.

Foolish? Some might say so, but I disagree. There is an old axiom that you should “Train like you fight.” Now, I’m not in the military, and I’m not a law enforcement officer. I’m not out there practicing dynamic entries or running a “tactical” pistol and rifle transition course, though I might practice transitions for an upcoming 3-gun match. Even though, in all likelihood, my life will never depend on my skills with a rifle or pistol, I feel that it is valuable to shoot under varying environmental conditions.

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.

Dry Fire Practice – Is It Safe For Your Firearm?

Many of us who grew up around firearms have been warned for years never to dry fire any firearm. But can you really damage your firearm by pulling the trigger on an empty chamber? The answer is, as you might have guessed, “it depends.” Most modern firearms are safe to dry fire, but there are some notable exceptions.