Slip 2000 EWL vs FrogLube

Posted on July 15, 2014
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When I tried out the FrogLube CLP on my cheap AR15 I was pretty happy with the performance but I did have some concerns, like its (in)compatibility with other lube and cleaning products. After reading the story about the Filthy 14 (a BCM mid-length carbine with an ungodly number of rounds through it) I thought I'd give another product a try - Slip2000 EWL. It costs about the same as FrogLube. When I ordered it I also got a bottle each of their carbon cleaner and general gun cleaner/degreaser.

So which one is better? I won't know until I get it, but I expect they'll perform about the same. It's hard to not want to try a lube that lets a rifle go over 30K rounds though, so I just had to try the Slip2000.

Since I keep reading about different products having compatibility issues, I'll use FrogLube exclusively on a couple of my guns and the Slip2000 exclusively on the others. I don't have enough guns (or ammo) to definitively test which one is better but it will still be interesting which guns are easier to clean, which ones can go the longest between cleanings, etc.

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Primary Arms Red Dot: MD-06 vs MD-06L

Posted on July 7, 2014
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Just a quicky - I've been looking for a cheap red dot for my cheap AR, and for the 4th of July weekend Primary Arms had their MD-06 and MD-06L on sale for only $49.95 (you also need a riser; there cheapest one is $19.95, gives a lower 1/3 co-witness with your iron sights).

At that price, I couldn't resist. As far as affordable red dots go, the PA unit rates highly. The only thing to decide was to get the MD-06 or the MD-06L.  One has the brightness control on the right (MD-06) and the other on the left (hence the 'L' suffix). The other difference is the 'L' has a slightly longer hood that's threaded for an optional glare blocker. Because of this, I chose the MD-06L and it got here today.

First impressions: for the price it's really nice. It took a little while to get used to both eyes open but once I did it's easy to look through and easy to acquire the target. The screws included with the riser are Philips head; would have been nice if they'd been hex head. Back to the optic...

Like I said, easy to look through. However when I line up, my right eye is right through the glass, but the brightness control on the left is kind of visible as a ghost image in my left eye. Hope I get used to it... I guess I could just close my left eye, but the whole point of a red dot is to be able to shoot with both eyes open.

After looking at it, I don't think the extended and threaded hood are that big of a deal, and I'm hoping to order the non-L version to compare - except that they'r out of stock:) Well I'm pretty sure that PA honors 'rain checks' (i.e. back orders) but I'm thinking of getting a Bushnell TRS-25. It comes with a riser, so total cost is the same as an MD-06 + riser at non sale price. Probably a more interesting comparison than MD-06 vs MD-06L.

Any way, just a first impression... but if you're thinking about getting the MD-06 and are right-eye strong, I suggest the MD-06 over the MD-06L.

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Do you really need a (4150/CHF/chrome lined/melonite/stainless) barrel?

Posted on June 30, 2014
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When people get together to do a group-bash of cheap AR rifles, something that comes up a lot is the 'cheap' 4140 steel barrels used in most of the lower tier guns. All 'tier 1 operators' should use a barrel made from 4150 steel, definitely chrome lined, and preferably cold hammer forged (CHF). Of course if you want to be a 'elite operator' it also needs a Colt or FN stamp on it. Melonite is gaining in popularity, and most high grade target rifles use stainless steel barrels by outfits like Krieger, Lilja, Noveske, Satern, etc. So obviously if you want to be 'top tier' you have to run one, right? Well, maybe...

It's true that most really cheap AR-15 barrels are made from 4140 steel with no lining (chrome) or internal treatment (melonite). It's also true that an unlined 4140 barrel will probably wear faster than an unlined 4150 or stainless steel barrel. It doesn't follow though that ALL 4140 barrels are cheaply made, inaccurate junk nor that a 4140 barrel won't have a long enough wear life for your rifle.

For example, DPMS barrels. DPMS is a brand that gets bashed pretty often as being an 'inferior AR' on some of the forums. I'll even admit to having a slight bias against their complete rifles (mainly 'cause their Sportical is just so damned ugly). But their barrels have an excellent reputation for accuracy - at least the 16" NATO heavy contour and the 20" Service Rifle barrel. In fact, no less than Glenn Zidecker has given these 2 barrels a thumbs up in The Competitive AR15 Builders Guide: How to Choose and Assemble All the Components to Construct Your Ultimate AR-15, and he certainly knows his way to an accurate AR-15. Rock River Arms rifles also have a great reputation for accuracy, and they use... unlined 4140 barrels. As with everything of course, you get what you pay for, and the DPMS and RRA barrels are at the higher end of the price range for unlined 4140 barrels.

What about durability? I think for most shooters the 4140 barrels are fine. Unless you're shooting full auto (highly unlikely) or doing lots of mag dumps, these barrels should last a very long time. I think I read somewhere the average AR-15 owner puts about 500 rounds through it during the life of the gun (actually, probably the life of the owner), and these barrels should be good for at least 2500 rounds before accuracy starts to fall off - that's 5 lifetimes for the average AR owner. Of course if you shoot lots of matches or take lots of courses you could shoot out the barrel in less than a year, but for most of us a 2500 round lifetime is plenty - especially if you have more than one AR in your safe.

I'll admit that most of the barrels I find interesting are chrome lined (Colt, Daniel Defense) for a hard use gun and stainless steel (Wilson Combat, Lilja) or melonite (AR15 Performance, Black Hole Weaponry) for accuracy. I have 3 plain 4140 barrels though - a DPMS 20" HBAR in a DCM Service Rifle, a PTac 16" on my cheap AR, and the barrel on my 6.8 SPC Rock River hunting rifle. I don't shoot the Service or hunting rifles much, but accuracy on all 3 is more than acceptable. My cheap rifle is going to get a lot of use this year because I'm very interested to see how it holds up over, say, 5000 rounds. I'm ordering a red dot for it after the 4th and taking a carbine class with it in August. Will post some groups soon. In conclusion, I'd say always buy the best barrel for what you're building - and keep in mind that could be just a lowly, unlined, 4140 steel barrel.

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It’s Official, Silver Bullet Gun Works in Sparks, NV BADLY f****d up my gun

Posted on June 23, 2014
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slide-damageLast October I bought an Armscor 1911 pistol. I wanted to experiment with a cheap 45 auto and see just how good (or not) it was. From the factory, it was good, but my eyes don't work as good as they did when I was young so I needed to replace the GI-style sights. At the recommendation of an acquaintance I took it to Silver Bullet Gun Works in Sparks, NV. Probably the biggest mistake I've ever made.  When I picked it up, I could tell it was messed up. I had some friends look at it, and all agreed it needed to go back, so it did. They agreed to fix the problems, called me to tell me it was done, and when I picked it up the second time it was still f****d up. Naturally they denied there was anything wrong. Since no refund was coming and I wasn't going to let them "work" on it any more (hey, maybe at least it was still usable, why let them finish destroying it?) I took it home and stewed on it awhile.

My first thought was to send it back to Armscore. I knew they could fix it, I just didn't want to have to pay to have a brand new gun fixed because of the incompetent "gunsmith" at Silver Bullet. My next thought was to just use it as is... but I already had a lot (more) than I'd planned into it and I wasn't even sure if it would be safe to fire. What else might they have done to my slide besides f*****g up the sights?

Finally I decided to take it to a real gunsmith and get it fixed correctly. Got the call tonight, it's done. So what did the REAL gunsmith find? First of all, the divot on the slide could not have been caused by a brass plunger on a rear sight installation tool. Steel is much harder than brass, so brass will not deform steel. The bulged metal on the slide and impact marks mean they probably wailed on the rear sight really hard with a hammer and punch to get it seated. I knew that but it was nice to have my opinion validated by a gunsmith. Unfortunately, that's the GOOD news...

The BAD news is they really butchered the slide when "installing" the front sight. They cut out the mounting hole too large and failed to mill a small flat spot for the sight to seat on - that's why it was canted. When they noticed the hole was too big, they filled it with JB weld. As far as I'm concerned they wrecked my slide, hoped I wouldn't notice, and failed to make it good when I did notice problems. Thankfully my REAL gunsmith was able to fix it, and for less than what a new slide would have cost.

Lesson learned. If you need gunsmith work done in Reno or Sparks, STAY AWAY FROM SILVER BULLET GUN WORKS. THEY'RE INCOMPETENT, THEY'LL F.U. YOUR GUN, AND THEY WON'T MAKE IT RIGHT.

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Semi Scale Rifles

Posted on May 27, 2014
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How I learned to Stop Worrying and Just Build What I Like

m4-rifle

I'll admit to an obsession a strong preference for 'authentic' (i.e. 'mil spec', NSN, etc) parts and I absolutely HATE 'tacticool' AR-15's. So naturally I'm drawn to the clone segment - rifles that are built to look as close as possible to actual military issued rifles. Most ( a key word) of the parts are available on the civilian market, and many (another key word) are actually affordable, so building one should be no problem, right? Well, sort of...

My first attempt at building a clone was a SOPMOD Block II. I bought the correct Daniel Defense RIS-II in FDE (before they were pulled from the civilian market), found the correct KAC front and rear BUIS, even sourced a genuine Colt 14.5" SOCOM barrel. The only compromise was going to be the flash hider: A SureFire SF3P (pinned and welded to make it legal under NFA) 3 -prong unit since the military issue 4 prongers aren't sold to civilians.

So I'm sitting there fat, dumb, and happy with all my parts and I decided to buy the correct weapon light - an EOTech WMX200. Guess what? You CAN'T FIND THEM, and when you do they're listed at $600 or more. Really. For a glorified flashlight. As usual for me, economic concerns were over-ridden by a lack of common sense and an overwhelming desire for forbidden fruit so I ordered one anyway... and got an email apologizing for it being out of stock and notifying me that my credit card payment had been refunded. Undeterred, I spent hours searching the internet for someone, ANY one, who might have the WMX200 in stock. My hours of searching netted two companies listing them as in stock - and both attempts at ordering had the same results as my first attempt.

NO ONE seems to have these things in stock., and supposedly they were discontinued by EOTech. I found out that's not correct, instead they're now being made by a company called Insight. I called Insight and was assured that they're still in production, still available to mere civilians, BUT (another one of those annoying but key words) they don't do direct sales... I'd have to find a dealer with one in stock. Sure, they might as well have told me to find a unicorn horn...

I reluctantly bought a SureFire M600 and mounted it on the rifle. It works fine and it even looks OK... but it's not the correct light for a SOPMOD Block II. It also lacks the really cool strobe feature of the WMX200. Oh well, in the weapons world sometimes things suck and I haven't mentioned the $2500 to $3000 it costs for the correct Elcan optic...

So I put my SOPMOD project aside and started looking for a simpler clone to build. After all there are lots of cool military rifles out there and my Black Rifle Disease knows no bounds... and I REALLY want a clone. It turns out that even the simplest of clones, say an IDF carbine, are more difficult and more expensive to build than you'd ever imagine. So I started thinking about SEMI scale rifles. 'Semi scale rifle'? What the heck is that???

If you're familiar with model airplanes, you know the difference between precision scale, stand-off scale, and semi scale. In case you're not, I'll break it down. Precision scale means as close to the original as humanly possible. In the AR world, that would be a rifle that is identical to the military version except for not having 3 shot burst or full auto capability. Everything else would have to be correct though - Colt upper, lower, BCG, barrel, etc. and yes you'd have to track down one of those elusive SureFire 4-prong flash hiders.

Stand-off scale allows a little more leeway for the sake of practicality (and in the case of an AR clone, affordability). An expert could spot the difference, but most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference (at least without a reference manual). For example, in the case of a Block III, you'd still have to use a SOCOM profile barrel but it could be a Bravo Company (or any other maker's) barrel as long as it had the SOCOM profile. You'd still need to use the SureFire flash hider, but the 3-prong version would be OK. Still no substitute for that WMX200 though...

Semi scale allows a LOT more leeway than even stand-off scale, and to a casual observer might look the same. Anyone with a little knowledge can easily spot the differences though. So how much can you change and still call it semi scale? I'm going to arbitrarily say the furniture has to be correct (which means RIS-II rails on a Block II), the visible portion of the barrel has to be correct (so you could use an M4 profile barrel since the SOPMOD differences are under the rail where no one can see them), the flash hider has to look 'close' to issue (on a Block II I'd go with either the SF3P, a BE Meyers 249F, or maybe even an A2 if I had enough beer in me) and BUIS and optic have to look 'plausible' on the Block II that could mean an Aimpoint PRO Patrol red dot or a Vortex Viper PST 1-4x.

The main advantages are cost and convenience - you don't have to spend hours (or days, weeks, months...) searching for parts and then dropping beaucoup bucks on them. For me, the gun will be a lot more fun to shoot if I don't have to worry about breaking expensive (and maybe irreplaceable) parts, and some of the cheaper parts might actually be an improvement over the 'correct' ones - for example i consider the Aimpoint Pro an improvement over the EOtech. So - if you like clone rifles but are tired of looking for parts and don't want to (or can't) spend big bucks on certain rare things, consider building a Semi Scale rifle*. You'll get most of the advantages of a clone (good looks, practicality) without the disadvantages of insisting on rare parts. What do you think?

(* Semi Scale Rifle copyright Ken Deboy, all rights reserved)

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FrogLube CLP

Posted on May 15, 2014
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FrogLube CLPLife used to be simple - at least for cleaning and lubing guns. Just use Hoppe's solvent, Hoppe's gun oil, and be done with it. Of course back then my guns were either single shot, bolt action, or pumps - no semiautos.

Today things are more complicated. Most of my guns are semiauto, and there is a ton of different gun cleaner lube systems on the market, mostly incompatible with each other. I invest spend a lot of money on my hobby and I need something I know will make help the guns last a long time and work the way they should.

When I asked at the LGS what to use on my AR rifles they said FrogLube. I'm not so sure... I like that it's non-toxic and doesn't stink, but I've also read it can gum up a gun, doesn't protect against rust as well as some others CLP's, isn't that great for removing copper fouling, etc. Of course all that is from the Internet so it must be 100% correct...

So I have my concerns but I decided to try it. One problem is when I put my AR's together I use a lot of lube on the pins, springs, etc. and since I wasn't planning ahead to use FrogLube I just used regular (petro based) grease which is incompatible with FrogLube.

Since I don't want to fuck up any of my nice guns I'm going to test it on my $500 AR15. In the mean time I'm looking for a more traditional CLP to use on everything else, at least until I can test the FrogLube myself to see if I like it. Anyone have any suggestions?

(Image: FrogLube)

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What to expect when you quit drinking…

Posted on May 14, 2014
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I sure wasn't expecting THIS... woke up this morning feeling super tired and groggy - and I'd overslept. WTF is up with that? The last time I went without beer for a couple days I woke up in the mornings feeling refreshed and energetic. Makes sense, right? Alcohol is a depressant so taking a break from it means more energy... but not this time.

OK, so last time I took a break I was a moderate drinker and I've been hitting it pretty heavy ever since my dad died in January... but THIS??? It was worse than a hangover (at least as far as I remember - I haven't had a hangover in a very long time).

So I did a little Googling and found out that fatigue is one of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It makes sense I guess. Yesterday was my first day without in a long time, I also noticed I was a lot hungrier than normal.

What I'm getting is this: when you quit drinking, your body has to do all kinds of things to get used to working without the alcohol - that's why I feel tired. From what I've read, it can take a month or longer for the fatigue to go away. Also, alcohol has a lot of calories so if you suddenly quit your body is still used to all those calories so it sends the hunger signal to your belly. This goes away quicker than the fatigue - at least I hope so...

Another things I've found I can expect are mood swings (I already have those - lol) and profuse sweating. I guess when you drink a lot and don't eat healthy, your body accumulates a lot of toxins and stores them in your fat cells. As you lose weight and the fat cells melt away the toxins are released and your body has to do something to get rid of them - usually by trying to sweat them out.

My strategy is to first cut out any food that's high in fat. That way hopefully I'll lose weight and get rid of the toxins faster. Second, eat stuff that has lots of antioxidants to help my body deal with the effects of the newly released toxins. Finally, drink a shitload of water to help flush them out as fast as possible.

Or maybe I'll just give up and start drinking again...

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$500 AR15 – final parts breakdown and costs

Posted on May 8, 2014
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$500-ar

Yesterday I ordered the last piece I needed to complete my $500 AR-15, a Global Military Gear AR15/M4 Rear Flip-up Sight so as soon as it gets here I'll be able to range test this puppy. Anyway, here is the final parts breakdown along with costs...

Upper assembly: PTAC Mid-length upper assembly, 1:9 barrel, with bolt carrier group and charging handle, $309.99 plus shipping. I decided not to include shipping costs because I didn't have to pay sales tax, which more than made up for the shipping cost.

Lower receiver: Aero Precision blem stripped lower, $65.00 with free shipping. This was part of a larger order so I didn't have to pay a separate FFL transfer fee. If ordered by itself, figure on $10-25 for the transfer fee - lower receivers have to be shipped to an FFL.

Lower parts: Misc DelTon, Windhan, and RRA, $32.07. I feel like I cheated on this - most of the parts I had on hand, left over from a previous build. I did have to order a couple of springs, detents, and all the parts for the bolt catch assembly. Everything was added to other orders, so no shipping costs. If you were starting from scratch, figure on about $50 for the cheapest LPK (including shipping costs).

Stock, Model 1 collapsible rear stock: $42.00. As I mentioned in a previous post, this stock was a disappointment but it was the only one I could find that would let me keep this build at $500 or under. Also added a 20 round PMag for 13.99 to the stock order.


Rear sight: Global Military Gear AR15/M4 Rear Flip-up Sight, $27.95 with free shipping. This was the hardest part to find - most of the cheap rear sights have reviews that report serious problems - like coming loose or even falling apart after moderate use. The Global Military unit only has a few reviews but no major problems reported so far. It looks well made from the photos, so I decided to give it a try - and I'll post a review once it gets here and i can test it. I could have saved a couple dollars by getting a fixed sight but I decided to go with a flip-up unit since I plan to put a scope on the rifle for accuracy testing.

TOTAL COST: $491.00

So yes, it is possible to build a $500 AR-15 if you're careful, and IF you're able to add the parts to other orders to avoid shipping costs. Ordering the parts separately and paying an FFL fee would bring the cost up to around $530 - still a cheap rifle, but over budget. That's it for now. I hope to take it shooting in a few weeks and I'll post a full range report once I do.

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$500 AR15 – Almost Finished

Posted on May 2, 2014
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Santa came in his brown truck today so I had all the parts to finish my $500 AR15 when I got home from work - so that's what I did:) So far I'm into it $310 for a PTAC upper plus $15 shipping, $65 for an Aero Precision blem lower, $42 for a stock kit from Midway, $32 for misc. lower parts (I had some already as leftover parts from other projects) and $13 for a PMag. That leaves me $24 for a rear sight. I think I will be able to finish this for $500...

Was it worth it? Maybe. I was pleasantly surprised with the PTAC upper. It looks great and none of the problems I've read about online.

Blem lower... well, it's a blem so I wasn't expecting perfection and I didn't get perfection:) The finish is actually very nice. You can tell it ain't quite right though. The corners at the front are a lot sharper than a non-blem and other areas aren't smoothed all that well. One side is noticeably thicker than the other - you can't see it when the gun's assembled and it probably won't affect function - but it's there. The one thing that IS noticeable is the holes for the trigger guard were drilled too high so the ears hang down quite a bit. Again, won't affect function but it's not quite right.

Biggest disappointment is the stock. It's uncomfortable, hard to adjust, rattles even when it IS adjusted, too short, NO cheek weld, and the castle nut doesn't include provisions for staking. If I could change just one thing about this build it would be a better stock. Of course that would put me over $500 and blow the budget, and keeping it under $500 is kind of the entire point.

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More man toys coming…

Posted on April 24, 2014
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fit-bodyI couldn't resist - after reading so much on the raging debate over AR15 poly lowers I had to get one to see for myself...

People seem to love them or hate them, no middle ground (seems to be that way about a lot of things in thhe AR15 world...). The haters do have a point - most AR15 poly lowers do seem to have a fatal flaw: the back end where the buffer tube attaches. This seems to be a high stress area and the mechanical design of the stock-type AR15 lower is just too weak in this area if the lower is made from polymer. Also, many of the poly lower manufacturers seem to have quality control issues that cause other problems too - like magazines not fitting correctly, mis-aligned hammer and trigger pins, safety selector issues, etc. Maybe OK for a toy gun or something to experiment, but no good for a "bet your life on it" gun. So I decided the haters were right (for now at least) about most poly lowers on the market. Except for the CAV-15, formerly made by Cavalry Arms and currently made by GWACS Armory.

The CAV-15 eliminates the main weak point in a poly lower by making the butt stock 1 piece with the rest of the lower. Many people don't like the fact the stock isn't replaceable, especially since it's shorter than a standard A2 stock. So if it's no stronger than a regular aluminum lower and you can't swap out the stock, what's the point? Weight. A fully populated CAV-15 lower weighs about a pond less than a complete aluminum lower. Some people also claim a poly lower can take some forms of abuse that would destroy an aluminum lower since the plastic can flex instead of breaking like aluminum would.

cav-15-mk2-poly-lowerSo naturally I have to try one. I have two on order from GWACS Armory. They're fast - I ordered yesterday morning and by afternoon I had a shipping notification with tracking number. I expect they'll get to my FFL by middle of next week. They come in several colors (the Zombie Green is especially cool) and I got mine in FDE. The first one is going to be a semi-cheap build with a JSE Surplus barrel (M4 profile, 1-9 twist, melonite treated) mounted on a free SAA upper receiver I got when I ordered parts for another project. BCG is a cheap "mil spec" piece I got from AIM Surplus for $79.95 with free shipping and I'm slapping on a MagPul MOE (also in FDE). Should be fun and I expect to have it completely done in about 3 weeks - still saving up for a scope and mount. From what I've been reading about this lower I don't think I'll be disappointed in any way...

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