Interviews at Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun 2015

I did some interviews at SMM3G last week with other competitors.

3 Gun History

Eric and Kurt Miller have been shooting 3 Gun for 20 years, including the original SOF matches that started it all. In this interview we discuss how the sport has evolved over time. Unfortunately I was too young at the time to have competed in SOF 3 Gun, and I feel like I missed out.

I do wonder how popular a match where all the stages were semi-surprise format would be today? The few events I have been to that have had blind stages I scored disproportionately higher on those stages than I did on others at the same match. I agree with them that the surprise stage format really levels the playing field.

Shotgun Reloading

We can argue about the real world practicality of shotguns and these techniques, but for the purposes of the game it is a large part of it and necessary to be competitive in most divisions.

Kurt Miller is one of the elder statesmen of 3-Gun. In this video we discuss how 3-Gun reloading techniques have evolved and why he reloads the way he does.

Jay Carillo is relatively new to the 3 Gun world, but he has a passion for it and has moved up the ranks fairly quickly. He explains how he loads 4 shells at a time in this interview:

Notice they both agree that the load 2 or load 4 system is easier for novices to master in less time. Either way if you’re using a tube fed it would make sense to have both the shell caddies and load 2 or 4 systems available depending on the match. At a match like SMM3G there are few liabilities for the newer systems. At a match like Hard as Hell crawling through tunnels, well the floor of the tunnel was littered with broken shell carriers.

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February-March 2015 Local Matches

Rio Salado Sportsmans Club Multigun Match 2-14-2015

First match using the KE Arms Rifle and Nightforce 1-4x Optic
3rd/22 Open. 9th/87overall

Rifle:KE15 16″ Barrel
KE Arms Match Trigger
KE Arms Delta-S Handguard
Suarez International Kompressor
Voodoo Innovation Competition Lightweight Bolt Carrier Group

Shotgun:
VEPR-12 with Vortex SPARC II
(It needs a deep cleaning and scrubbing of the gas ports)

2 Gun Action Challenge Match 3-21-2015

5th/63 Shooters Over All

Same KE15 rifle as above and my Suarez International Glock 17 with RMR.

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New RECOIL Web Articles

I have a few more articles up on RECOIL Web

Drop in Carbine Handguard Alternatives

Shotguns at SHOT Show 2015

Viral Video: Unplanned Targets

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Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 1-6x JM

As I discussed in my 3 Gun Division Break Down: Tac-Scope article 3 Gun or Multi-Gun Competition has been fueling the quest for do everything optics.  Tac-Scope equipment division rules and 3 Gun stage design reward having a single optic that can handle as wide a range of shooting problems as possible.  The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 1-6x JM (hereafter Razor HD) is as close to a true do everything optic that I have had the opportunity to use. The Razor HD is made in Japan, but the quality of this optic is as good as any American or European glass I have used.  It has a 30mm tube and the optical clarity and light gathering is excellent.  The photos below really don’t do it justice compared to viewing through it yourself.

Mounting

IMG_6506The Razor HD is heavy at 25.2oz.  For this much functionality, the weight is a necessity.  I used an Aero Precision lightweight scope mount to add as little extra weight as possible.  You will need an extended or potentially extra long extended scope mount to help mount the Razor HD properly with it’s long eye relief.  It is important to note that the eye relief does get shorter the higher the magnification setting.  Make sure the scope is mounted to work well on the highest magnification.  The Aero Precision mount was easy to install and solid. IMG_6511 Caps off showing exposed turrets. IMG_6514 The windage and elevation adjustments are 1/2 MOA per click. IMG_6754 Switching from 1 to 6 power is a very long movement requiring 180 degree rotation.  I added a The Shooters Source Universal Scope lever to help turning the magnification up and down.  It has a long plastic strap that has threads molded into it.  It is tightened by twisting the knob and the extra length is cut off.IMG_6751 The brightness adjustment knob is pulled out into the unlocked position to turn it on or off.  Every other position is off, making it easy to turn on to your preferred setting from off with one click.   For daylight visibility I used setting 10 or 11 most of the time in the Arizona Desert.  The battery cap is easily opened with a coin and houses a single CR2032.

Looking through the Razor HD Gen 2

The JM Reticle was designed in conjunction with renowned competitor Jerry Miculek to give action shooters fast and functional aiming.

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Magnification on 1X

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Magnification on 1.5X

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Magnification on 2X

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Magnification on 3X

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Magnification on 4X

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Magnification on 5X

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Magnification on 6X.  Plates are 14″x16″ at 300 yards.

Using the Razor HD

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The Razor HD was very easy and fun to use over all.  The long eye relief, true 1X setting, and active day light illumination make the Razor HD almost as good as using a red dot at close range.  The reason I say almost as good is there still is a window the shooters eye must be behind.  However even from awkward positions like shooting underneath a car off both shoulders it was not noticeably slower for me than using a red dot.  The BDC worked well out to 400 where I was able to use it a few times.  The only time I was able to shoot to 600 was at the end of a stage at Hard as Hell 3 Gun after running through a trench and up a hill from a semi-supported position, so I would not consider that a good test of how well the BDC actually works vs my ability under stress.  Watch the highlights video below to get an idea of how well the Razor HD works in solving different shooting problems:

If you’re looking for a do everything optic the Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 1-6x JM should be at the top of the list.  I have never had a single optic that worked as well under so many different conditions.

Photos by Whiskey Two Four Studios

Posted in Competitions, Optics | 1 Comment

OPEN DIVISION: 3 Gun Divisions Break Down

Open Division is the almost anything goes division. When people use the term “race guns” they are often referring to Open Division equipment. There is a common misconception that buying expensive equipment is a substitute for skill.  Without the requisite skill level more advanced equipment can actually be a liability.  Open is a very competitive division, albeit usually smaller than Tac-Scope.  You must put the time in practice to do well in Open.

There’s also a misconception that Open Division guns aren’t “practical”. The truth is if you look at the features of current generation service weapons many would fall into Open Division if used competitively.  Many of the same concepts like dual optics on rifles, red dots on shotguns, and most recently now red dots on pistols are carrying over.

Again I will be referencing Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Rules as they generally set the standard for other major multigun matches. The current version of the rules apply the principle of if its not prohibited, it is legal.  Firearms must still comply with minimum caliber requirements and ammunition restrictions discussed in the Limited Division Article. In short .223 is minimum rifle caliber, 9mm minimum handgun caliber, 20 gauge minimum shotgun caliber. Generally no armor piercing or magnetic projectiles are allowed, this includes steel shot and bi-metal jacket projectiles.

Handgun

5.2.1.1 Handgun holsters must safely retain the handgun during vigorous movement, and must completely cover the trigger. The belt upon which the handgun holster is attached must be worn at waist level. Shoulder holsters and cross draw holsters are prohibited.

Optics, compensators,  porting, and other modifications are all allowed.  Using a red dot on a pistol takes more practice and training than using iron sights.  Once mastered it offers some distinct advantages in speed and accuracy.

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Travis Gibson’s Cameron’s Custom 2011. An example of a typical Open Pistol. Note C-More sideways to get lower to the bore. The optics and comps on Open Pistols often require specialized holsters.

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Kelly Neal with Open Pistol equipped with Leupold Delta Point

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Craig Outzen’s Open 2011 holstered with optic cover on to keep it clean between stages.

RMRGlock

My Suarez International Glock 17 with Trijicon RMR and Viridian X5L Light/Laser and 33 Round Magazine. Take the mag out and replace with standard length and it could be used as a duty or carry gun in traditional holster. Any one of these features can make it an Open pistol. Weapon lights may or may not be allowed in Tac-Scope or Limited. Lasers count as an optical sight as does the RMR.

5.2.1.2 Magazine length may not exceed 170mm.

Magazines can be 30mm longer than in Tac-Scope or Limited. Glock 33 rounders are over this length limit.  Some matches have no capacity restriction so open is truly open.  I typically just use my Limited length mags when competing in open with mag length restrictions because Open length mags/extensions are typically harder to find or more expensive.

Rifle

More than one optic is allowed.  It is common to use a magnified optic on top and an offset red dot.  The down side to an offset red dot is most of the time they can only be used from the strong side shoulder.

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Leupold sponsored shooter Kelly Neal with Open Rifle. Note variable optic on top and Delta Point mini red dot offset on handguard. Kelly tells me he uses the Delta Point to 25-50 yards depending on the stage and shoots through the scope for further distances.

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Author’s Open CAV-15 MKII RIfle 2005. I had to drill and tap my free float tube to mount an OKO red dot sight offset with an ACOG on top.

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Author with Open CAV-15 MKII Rifle 2009. Note Aimpoint Micro on Daniel Defense offset mount. There are now a number of purpose built options for mounting offset red dot sights.

Stacked Optics are another option for dual optics.  The down side is more bore offset and two different cheek welds.  The up side is it can be used off either shoulder.  I’m in the minority preferring stacked optics.  As a lefty I have to switch shoulders too often on stages designed for right handed shooters to use offset red dots all the time.  With a 50 yard zero the bore offset issue is minimized.

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Leupold HAMR with Aimpoint Micro in Hahn Precision Mount

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Eye on the red dot

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Eye on the HAMR.  Rifle is a GWACS Armory CAV-15 MKII with 16″ Lightweight Barrel.

5.2.2.1 Supporting devices (e.g. bipods) are permitted, and may start any stage folded or deployed at the participant’s discretion.

SMM3G Rules allow the removal or installation of the bipod at the shooter’s discretion.  Confirm that this is allowed at the match you are attending as this rule can differ.

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Bipods aren’t useful as often anymore, but they’re a good thing to have in Open if you do find somewhere to use them. Mine is on a QD mount so I can pull it off when I don’t need it. A swivel pod is a must for use on uneven terrain.

Muzzle Devices

Compensators and Brakes larger than 1″x3″ are also allowed.  Most people in Open still use  comps/breaks that would be legal in Tac-Scope or Limited.

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JP Enterprises Tank Brake-Open Division only.

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JP Cooley Brake-Limited and Tac Scope Legal.  Also legal in Open if you want to use one.

Shotgun

Shotgun is perhaps the most radical departure in equipment from the other divisions.  Higher capacities and faster mechanical reloading methods set Open Division shotguns apart.  There is no limit on shotgun capacity in Open.

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Travis Gibson with an Open Remington Versamax. Note extra long mag tube and optic.

5.2.3.1 Speed loading devices and/or detachable box magazines are permitted.

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Wyatt Gibson with Roth Concept Innovations “RCI-XRAIL” equipped Benelli. The XRAIL is an automatically rotating tube assembly. When one tube empties the next alligns to keep feeding. These can hold over 24 shells. X-Rail users often don’t feel the need to use speed loaders since they start with so many shells in the gun.  Photo by Pat Kelley

Magazine fed shotguns are often seen as a short cut to fast loading.  While this can be true, they still require practice and a more educated user because they have idiosyncrasies that tube feds do not.  The most common mistake I see new shooters make is buying a mag fed shotgun not understanding they are only allowed in open.  If you have a mag fed shotgun and no other open equipment, I would generally recommend getting a tube fed and shooting in Limited or Tac-Scope.  Or simply accept that you will be at a disadvantage and shoot for fun.

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Saiga-12 in use by author 2012. With the sunset of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, the door was openned for magazine fed shotguns. They have become increasingly popular in recent years. A number of specialized companies make products for the Saiga-12 and the AKDAL MK1919 to turn them into competition shotguns.

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Saiga-12 with 20 round MD Arms Drum 2009. When drums run they are great, but I found them to be too unreliable. Most mag fed shooters prefer straight insert mag wells for faster reloading than the traditional Saiga-12 rock-n-lock. Mag wells preclude the use of drums.

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The VEPR-12 is probably the most cost effective shotgun to buy for open division. It comes with most of the features people were spending hundreds to add to Saiga-12s including: straight insert magazines and last round bolt hold open. The downside is there are fewer magazines available for them, and SGM magazines are likely to require end user repairs to work.

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Johnny Lim of Limcat with his custom AKDAL MK1919. Note large capacity magazine fabricated by attaching multiple mags together. Photo by Sterling White.

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Craig Outzen with his Firebird Precision Custom AKDAL MK1919

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Craig Outzen with Firebird Precision custom AKDAL MK1919. Note mag pouch on his leg.

5.2.3.2 Tubular speed loading devices must feature a primer relief cut.

Old Tech-loaders without the primer relief cut caused a few catostrophic failure of chain firing all the shells in a mag tube as the one at the rear discharged setting one off after another.  It has likely been almost 20 years since this design safety change has been made.

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Jojo with his Open Benelli  set up to accept Tech-Loaders. Note the large speed ramp to help align the loaders, and quiver of loaders on his leg. Photo by Sterling White.

Red dots are a big advantage on Open shotguns for making slug hits at range.  Personally I find they help shoot close range target arrays faster as well.  With both eyes open using a red dot on a shotgun is like using an aimbot cheat code in first person shooter games.

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Flying clays are not a problem to hit with both eyes open using a red dot.

Conclusion

Open Division is best for experienced competitors intimately familiar with their equipment.  If you only have a few of the open features it’s best to decide to either go all the way or down grade to another division.  Open is a very fun division to compete in at high round count matches like Ironman or Hard as Hell.  Less reloading and mechanical shotgun loading advantages make those kind of stages significantly faster.

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.308 in Competition: Observations

Over the past couple years I’ve shot .308 in matches a lot more than I ever have before.  The .223 ammo shortage created by the Barackalypse Part II in December of 2012 is partially responsible for this.  The other factor was I was actively testing .308 platforms including the MK17S SCAR-H, the same gun with the CAV-MFG PMAG Fire Control Module, and then a Windham Weaponry SRC-308.  For those who haven’t read my posts before, I view matches as a laboratory to validate firearms, equipment, and techniques.  During this time frame I shot around 4,000 rounds of .308 in matches.  Some of the observations I have may seem obvious, but its different reading about something in a few sentences from a third party than experiencing it yourself.  Note I’m not criticizing the rifles themselves; they both worked as they should.  This is a discussion of using .308 rifles in general.

I used my SCAR-H to win Heavy Metal Limited Division at the 2012 Independence Day Action Rifle Match.

Effect on Target
Matches rarely account for the terminal effect of larger cartridges in their scoring.  The closest thing we get is engaging moving/falling steel targets.  When .308 impacts a steel target there is no debate if it was a hit or not.  With .223 at further distances sometimes targets won’t move enough for an RO to call a hit if it was marginal.  On falling targets like LaRues .308 more easily knocks them down, where .223 may require multiple hits higher on the target.  The MGM Targets Double Spinner is easily rotated in 3-4 hits with .308 vs 8-12 with .223.  The number of Double Spinner targets at the Ironman 3 Gun for example made using .308 a potential advantage where it normally isn’t at most matches.  The .308 rifles generally worked the best on intermediate to long range stages in open field conditions.

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Liabilities

Memorial Day Rifle Match 2013.  There were no divisions at this match, everyone competed against each other heads up.  A lot of people used .22s and Pistol Caliber Carbines.  I used the SCAR-H to keep testing the CAV-MFG P-Mag compatible lower.  Not the most competitive rifle at close range against much higher capacity, lower recoil .22s and .223s carbines, but I still placed 25th/90 Shooters.

Rifle Size
.308 rifles are inherently larger than .223 rifles, even if they have the same length barrel.  Using the SCAR-H inside the car in the video above was more difficult.  You’ll see the same with the Windham SRC-308 in a video below.  Both have 16″ barrels but are several inches longer than an equivalent rifle in .223.

Capacity
20 round magazines are the standard in .308 rifles.  For some of the stages you see me shoot in these videos if I was using .223 I would not need to reload, or certainly reload less running with 40 round mags.  With .308 I have to be much more conscious of how much ammo is in my rifle and reload proactively.  It’s similar to the difference in stage planning between shooting a double stack 9mm with 20+ rounds and a 1911 with 8 round magazines.
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I’ve found sometimes that carrying enough ammo for a stage along with pistol and shotgun ammo was difficult.  Magpul’s 25 round LR PMAGS definitely helped.  The AF Weapons Magazine coupler with 25 round mags was even better to start with in the rifle.

Recoil Costs Time
Every miss with .308 costs more time for a follow up shot.  This may be imperceptible for some people, but for me it is a noticeable amount of time longer waiting for the sights to settle.  Recoil is higher and it takes longer to restablize shot to shot.   Sometimes I could get split times close to shooting .223, but only from a standing position on close range paper where I could muscle the gun more; doing this over time is more fatiguing.  When stabilizing off barricades, techniques that would be solid with .223 require more readjustment with .308 shot to shot.  All these fractions of a second add up.  It is impossible to beat a peer level shooter time wise using a .308 even if capacities are equal.

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Muzzle Blast
Brake or no brake, flash hider or bare muzzle, .308 always has more muzzle blast than .223 with an equivalent muzzle device.  Why does this matter in a match environment?  Shooting prone kicks up more dirt.  If there is too much dirt in the air it can be impossible to see the targets down range.  This happened to me several times while shooting .308 and I had to consciously pause for the dust to settle or spent more time hunting for the targets.  I have had this happen with .223 rifles as well, but it is much less common in the same conditions.  Using .308s in confined spaces is not pleasant.  Even with muffs and plugs ear protection.  The muzzle blast is much more capable of damaging props and barricades.

6a0133ec985af6970b01b7c72db410970b-800wiWindham Weaponry SRC-308

How is this relevant?
You may be thinking “I’ll never shoot matches, so why should I care”.  Here is why.  I never would have been able to categorically understand the liabilities of using a .308 had I not been forced to solve a wide range of shooting problems using one.  .308 no doubt has significantly better barrier penetration and terminal effect than .223, but is that worth the negatives?  That’s a question you have to answer for yourself by testing your rifle and yourself in practical conditions and considering your operating criteria.

 

Posted in Competitions, SCAR-H | 5 Comments

Ruger 10/22 Tactical Take Down with AGP Arms Stock Kit

In late 2011 AGP Arms of Tempe, Arizona released an aftermarket mod kit for the Ruger 10/22 to turn it into a take down rifle.  You can watch my original video on it here.  Ruger also released their own take down model not long after in 2012.  AGP unexpectedly was selling a lot of folding stock assemblies to people who bought factory take down rifles.  Unfortunately the front stock sections would not work with these without modifications.  AGP made a new stock fore end piece to work with the factory rifle so they could more easily sell their stocks to any owner of a Ruger 10/22 Take Down.  I got a 10/22 Tactical Take Down Model to try out with their new stock system.  Here I will discuss the features of the rifle as it comes as well as the AGP Arms stock kit.

From the Factory

IMG_6912 The rifle comes in a nice bag that makes carrying it in the disassembled state easy.  The dimensions of the bag are approximately 22.5″x8.5″x7.5″.  It can stretch out a bit further if necessary.  At the top are two carry handles that would be useful for pulling it out of a storage bin or from behind the seat of a truck.  On the back are 4 d-rings that the included carry strap can attach to at two points to wear over one shoulder.  If one were so inclined a second strap could be added to carry it backpack style.  The bag features two external pouches.  The bottom pouch has two pockets for BX-25 magazines, though you could probably fit 3-4 in there if you do not use the dividers.  The top pouch is the right size for the owners manual and more ammo or cleaning supplies. The only real criticism I have of the case is I wish they had not put MOLLE on the bottom pouch or the Ruger logo on the top.  The case is fairly benign looking otherwise and could pass for a tripod case or camera bag.  Not alerting your neighbors you own guns every time you go to the range can be a good thing for some people depending on where they live. IMG_6935IMG_6933 The two halves of the rifle fit neatly into their separate compartments.  The compartments are padded to protect the rifle from wear in transport. IMG_6924 The components of the rifle outside of the bag.  The rifle comes with one 10 round magazine. IMG_6902 An optional weaver style rail is included.  I would recommend replacing this with an aftermarket M1913 picatinny rail if you want to run a wider range of optics.  Take care when installing the screws not to over torque them and strip them out.  The Iron Sights are a bit too low to work with the rail mounted.  Note the silver tensioning nut that must be adjusted for the barrel to attach properly.  IMG_6927 The rifle assembled.IMG_6931 The sticker that comes on the buttstock explains the disassembly process.  The magazine must be out with the bolt locked back to disassemble the rifle. IMG_6919 The rifle receiver and barrel with the stock removed to illustrate how the take down system works. IMG_6921 With the bolt locked back and the magazine removed, push forward on the take down lever and twist the fore end clockwise to unlock the barrel.  Then simply slide it forward to remove it.

AGP Arms Folding Stock and Accessories

IMG_6918 Removing the factory stock is simple and only requires the use of a flat head screw driver and a 5/32′” Allen wrench.  The safety needs to be half way between safe and fire when removing the receiver from the stock. IMG_6894 Installing the AGP Arms stock is also very easy.  Use the factory screw for the receiver, and the included shorter screw for the fore end.  I found it easier to install the new stock with the barrel in the receiver.  I installed the stock portion first, then butted the fore end up against the stock taking care to line up the screw hole.  The entire process is easily accomplished in less than five minutes. IMG_8805 One of the things I really like about the AGP Stock is how solid it locks.  The wide upper tube of the stock feels like a fixed stock and is comfortable against the shooter’s face.  All the components are made from quality injection molded glass filled nylon.  It feels strong and nothing flexes or feels like you might break it if you grip it too hard.  I prefer the pistol grip to traditional stocks with as much time as I spend shooting AR15s and other modern semi-autos.

IMG_6896IMG_6898 Close up of the docking port on the front of the fore end.  Optional injection molded rails (sold separately) can be mounted here.  The attachment screws thread directly into the plastic so take care not to over torque them.  I personally preferred the feel of the handguard without them installed.  If you want to use a light, laser, or side sling attachment you may find them useful.

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The optional rubber butt pad (sold separately) is not necessary for recoil, but does help extend the length of pull from the normal 11.75″.  With the 1″ pad installed the length of pull is 12.75″, which works fine for me as it is close to the 13″ LOP I prefer.  It also has a nice non-slip surface to keep the stock firmly seated in the shooter’s shoulder. IMG_6901 IMG_6900 There are multiple attachment points for Uncle Mike’s QD swivel sockets.  One is underneath the fore end.  There are sockets on the stock at the front and rear both left and right sides.  Note the button for the folding stock release on the left hand side. IMG_6904 The stock folds to the right and does not lock in the closed position.  It does not move much though.  While you can slam the stock open, I would recommend holding down the button when you open the stock to prolong the life of these parts and avoid damaging them. IMG_6905 The muzzle is threaded to 1/2″-28 TPI making it a natural fit for common .22lr suppressors.

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The rifle still fits in the factory case with the AGP Stock and accessories installed. SBREDIT The AGP Arms stock would be particularly useful for a registered Short Barreled Rifle.  I edited this photo to give an idea of how small that could be.  A new case could be made that was more of a square rather than a rectangle like the factory case making it even more compact.  Ruger is releasing a 10/22 Charger take down pistol that could be well suited for this purpose. IMG_8812 Don Langworthy shoots the fully outfitted Ruger 10/22 Tactical Take Down indoors at Shooters World Phoenix.  Note the bolt mid cycle.

How does it shoot?

IMG_8810 The 10/22 Take Down works as well as any other 10/22 I have used.  That is to say the quality of the ammunition used directly impacts performance with regards to accuracy and reliability.  Malfunctions should be expected with cheap bulk pack ammo, and for plinking this is honestly fine.  If the rifle is going to be used in a survival or hunting role, pick correspondingly better ammunition.  I used Winchester high velocity .22lr for most of my testing and experienced no malfunctions with this ammunition.

Conclusion

Comparing the Take Down Tactical (MSRP $429.00) vs the standard Tactical model (MSRP $339.00) the Take Down is a distinctly better value.  The Take Down Tactical comes with the case and iron sights that the standard Tactical model lacks, in addition to being a able to break down into a more compact form.  The difference in features is well worth the extra $90.00 in my opinion. The AGP Arms Stock kit adds versatility and handling characteristics to the rifle and is well made.  With an MSRP of $129 without the accessories and $149.00 it is priced similarly to other total replacement stock systems.  As of this writing it also appears to be the only such stock system available as a replacement for the 10/22 Take Down.

Photography by Whiskey Two Four Studios

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