Ruger unveiled their first Direct Impingement AR15 at the end of September, but it looks like another entry into the limitless supply of consumer level AR15s. Breaking the Ruger AR-556 down into its individual components will give us a better understanding of the quality of the weapon. Does it keep quality up and costs down? Does it do anything new? Let’s take a look. What I like About the AR-556: F marked front sight , machined in house at Ruger, and features anti-glare serrations and a QD sling swivel on the bottom . That is a clean looking FSB, and the integration of a QD socket was a nice touch by Ruger. It is pinned on the upper portion of the barrel, so gunsmithing the weapon will be a bit different then your standard AR15. Hammer forged 4140 steel barrel, in 5.56 NATO with a medium contour and 1/8 twist. Here we have a carbine length barrel forged on Ruger’s hammer forge. I am glad they are making use of their equipment to produce CHF barrels and in an appropriate twist! If the bullet can fit in the magazine, this gun can stabilize it. 55-77 grain ammo will not be a problem. HPT barrel and bolt, shot peened bolt. A good step. The introductory video makes me believe they HPT each bolt and barrel together before they leave the factory. This is an important step to ensure the barrel and bolt don’t break from an unseen weakness before the gun leaves the factory. A More Robust Grip . A nice polymer grip with a palm swell and better ergonomics than a stock A2 grip. What I don’t like: The barrel isn’t the better 4150 blend of steel , but this will be inconsequential to most shooters. The barrel is not chrome lined. Carbine length gas system . More and more manufacturers are moving towards mid-length gas systems in the 16 inch carbine platform. Mid length gives you more room for your support arm and the mid length gas system is a bit easier on the internal components. The rest of the rifle is pretty standard for an AR15; a Standard 6 position telescoping stock, skinny carbine hand-guards, and a Ruger (Magpul?) flip up BUIS. Apparently the delta ring and barrel nut are not mil-spec components ; that’s something that could get in the way of certain upgrades, namely free float rail systems that clamp to a standard USGI barrel nut. Since we cannot see what that barrel nut looks like, I cannot say for sure. The barrel nut and delta ring are “patent pending”. What? WHY? Would I Recommend it? This rifle is geared towards entry level AR owners. If the reports come in that the rifle is reliable then there isn’t much that bothers me with the weapon. For someone scraping the bare bottom of the budget barrel, sure I am sure the Ruger will keep up with whatever the casual shooter can throw at it. If someone you know has to have an entry level AR15 and they wont spend a dime more than $700 then sure, the AR-556 looks like a good choice. Comparing it to the Smith and Wesson M&P Sport , I might be tempted to take the Ruger based on some of the features. For someone who can build their own rifle or has a higher budget, there are better choices on the market. √ Nifty features for an entry level AR15: CHF barrel, 1/8 twist, HPT Bolt/Barrel √ FSB has a QD sling socket and is actually a nicely designed component √ Price: MSRP is affordible × Non-milspec barrel nut may inhibit the use of certain free float rails × Carbine length gas system / hand-guards are getting dated × Non chrome lined barrel Edit: corrections made. Rifle is not chrome lined! Share: Google Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit More Tumblr LinkedIn Pocket Email Print
Sometimes, especially in the prepper/survivalist equipment world, one can tell upon cursory visual inspection or review of specifications that an item or piece of gear has value; but until you actually put the piece to work with your own bare hands, the level of utility and the piece’s place in the universe is often difficult to quantify. This is exactly where I found myself at the precise moment I opened the white box with the orange circle and “HENRY” logo emblazoned on its cardboard face. My FFL dealer looked at the mysterious contents of the box, narrowed his eyes, cocked an eyebrow, and queried, “Why’d you get that?” I wasn’t exactly sure myself at that intersection of space/time coordinates, but I was certainly going to find out. Our subject? An arm that’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery to most who see it: a .410 shotgun made by Henry Repeating Arms…that’s a lever action . Quick Navigation What’s In The Box?? Going Down The Tubes But…Why a .410 Lever Action? No Really – Why a Lever Action? Running and Gunning Two examples for you to consider: Little Bore Fish in a Big Gauge Pond What’s In The Box?? Yes, the "Henry Repeating Arms" model H0-18-410 is indeed a lever-action shotgun. Though the idea is not new – not even by a long stretch (Winchester’s John Browning-designed model 1887 has been knocking ducks out of the sky and arming Terminators since the late 19th century), Henry’s interpretation and execution of the concept is but a new take on the theory. Built on Henry’s .45-70 lever-action frame , the .410 is an old friend as soon as it jumps into your hands and you cycle the action. Though possibly seeming obsolete to the uninitiated and unappreciating unwashed masses, Henry’s team has paired a satin-finished, nicely fitted and checkered American walnut stock fore and aft with a matte blued finish on the steel – a combination guaranteed to make levergun lovers such as myself go a little weak in the knees. Henry offers two versions of their .410 shotgun – a 24-inch barreled model with a big ol’ brass bead for sighting reference along with screw-in chokes, as well as a 20-inch barreled system with adjustable rifle-type buckhorn sights, a drilled and tapped receiver, and a fixed cylinder bore choke. My shotgun is the former configuration with the longer barrel and bead sight – I chose the extra versatility of the screw-in chokes (a single, full choke is provided, though other chokes are available at about the $20 mark ) over the more precise sighting possibilities of the rifle sights – it’s a shotgun, not a rifle, right? More on this later. Image from henryusa.com Rounding out the package is a nice squishy black recoil pad on the walnut buttstock (to soak up the negligible recoil of the mighty .410), and a welcome addition that many shotgun manufacturers seem to neglect: integrated sling swivels for a standard hunting-type sling. There is no compatibility from the factory with tactical-type single-point or two-point slings – and that’s fine by me; this shotgun’s comfort zone doesn’t include room clearing. The only accessory I added to this Henry .410 was a Butler Creek Ultra Padded nylon sling with cartridge loops so I could have an extra six shotgun shells ready to rumble. Also Read: AR-7 Survival Rifle Review Do You Have Concealed Carry Weapon Insurance? Self-defense can land you into major legal battles, or even jail . USCCA provides top-class CCW insurance plus training for you and your family at $22/mo with $2,000,000 in coverage. Join USCCA I did want to make special mention of the trigger on this Henry; though most mass-produced shotguns have a trigger that breaks like a green maple branch, my subject .410 had a trigger that belongs on a moderately-priced precision rifle; I’ve never had any lever-action rifle – let alone a shotgun – with a trigger break as clean and crisp as this particular Henry offers. Outstanding quality from the fine people in Bayonne, NJ! Also of note is Henry’s proud proclamation: “Made in America or not made at all!” Going Down The Tubes The most obvious feature that sets Henry leverguns apart from other manufacturers such as Marlin (whose lines the Henry seems to borrow from) and Winchester is the loading and feeding system. All three of these manufacturers sport tubular, in-line cartridge magazines that live underneath the barrel. However, while Winchester and Marlin load through a spring-steel loading gate on the side of the receiver, Henry chose to buck the convention and utilize a tried-and-true, proven magazine system that incorporates a removable brass feed tube ( a la pretty much every tubular magazine .22 LR rifle EVER) to house the spring and cartridge follower. A short twist on the knurled end cap and the brass tube slides out with well-oiled, smooth precision, allowing the shooter to drop five 2 ½” long .410 shells into the magazine through the cartridge-shaped portal on the bottom of the blued steel magazine. Push the brass feed tube back down into the magazine, twist to lock, work the lever, and you’re in business. The simplicity of the feed tube system is appreciated – though often maligned by those who have only used other manufacturer’s traditional loading gate systems. Also Read: Survival Gear Review: Benjamin Trail NP2 Pellet Rifle Though for brass-cased cartridges, I’ll admit I generally prefer a loading gate system (mostly due to familiarity), the feed tube has some definite benefits to our survivalist-bent target audience. First and foremost, you can load the Henry with one hand. Lock the Henry between your knees or in another secure area, and one hand can easily retract the feed tube, drop in the desired payload, and replace the tube; rifles with loading gates universally require one firm hand on the gun to hold it from getting away, and the other hand to wrestle cartridges firmly into the magazine. Secondly, you can load the Henry quite easily with gloves on; a traditional loading gate system will, in my experience, chow down on your glove with reckless abandon as soon as you need to push that cartridge in past the loading gate. Third, you don’t need lumberjack hand strength to load the gun – trained and supervised children, the old, the weak, the tired – all can feed and use the Henry with aplomb and ease. Fourth, it’s simple and safe to unload: pull out the magazine feed tube and dump the unfired rounds on the ground or convenient surface, then lever the round out of the chamber; your gun is clear. Traditional loading gate systems require you to lever every single round through the gun to unload – a system that’s rough on ammo and very safety-intensive; if you’re tired, cold, or otherwise distracted, the possibility of a negligent discharge increases dramatically. Another side benefit of the tube feed system that is shotgun-shell specific: I’ve tried Winchester .410 shotguns based on the 94 rifle pattern, and loading plastic shells through a feed gate pretty much guarantees plastic shavings in the gun; the shotgun shell hull can get peeled as it pushes past the receiver, cartridge stops, and feed gate, ensuring a rainbow-colored smorgasbord will be decorating your shotgun’s innards. A tube feed system negates this issue entirely. The brass feed tube, though, is the Achilles’ heel of the Henry’s “repeater” title: you’d best take good care of the brass tube magazine parts – if the tube is neglected, lost, bent or damaged, you have reduced your repeating shotgun to a really nice single shot lever action. The brass feed tube is the shotgun’s (and, as an extension, possibly YOUR) life support: while the tube is sturdy and well-made, it’s an essential requirement to treat it well. Nurture the brass feed tube’s very well-being and keep an eye on it to ensure your Henry is functioning to its maximum capability when you need the Henry to nurture your very well-being. But…Why a . "410 Lever Action" ? And here we are: figuring out why we’re even considering the Henry .410 Lever Action Shotgun for our survival uses…and possibly, why it even exists in the first place. The crux of the issue is twofold: the .410 isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and the lever action traditionally is a tad odd for a shotgun. Let’s address these issues separately, then discuss how this Henry rises to the task despite the rather unorthodox approach. Related: The Katrina Rifle The .410 shotgun (the .410 is not a gauge, but technically a bore size/caliber.) has long been cursed for its supposed lack of punch. Aficionados and “specialists” (snobs?) deem the .410 to be the ultimate expression of technique and skill – if you can kill it/hit it with a .410 when everyone else needs a 12 gauge to accomplish the same mission, then clearly you must have no shotgunning peer in the immediate area. The plain and simple fact is that – all other things like shot size and barrel length being equal – the shot in a .410 is moving almost as fast as the shot from a 12 or 20 gauge…so pellet for pellet, the .410 has the same theoretical power as a bigger gauge of shotgun, just less volume. Case in point: a box of 2 ½” .410 shells – Remington Express Long Range manufacture in no. 7 ½ lead shot – boasts 1,250 feet per second (FPS) velocity on its box. For comparison’s sake, "Remington Express Long" Range 12 gauge, 2 ¾” shells with 7 ½ load shot are advertised at 1,330 fps. That’s 80 fps advertised velocity difference on a pellet that is truly minuscule: a no. 7 ½ shot pellet is .095” in diameter and just 1.46 grains – so we’re talking not even a foot-pound of energy per pellet difference between a 12 gauge and a .410 with this one example of shot size and manufacturer. Your mileage may vary, but I’ll bet not by much. Where the bigger gauges shine is sheer density of shot – a 2 ½” .410 throws but ½ ounce of shot, or a quantity of about 170 pellets at number 7 ½ size – where a 2 ¾” 12 gauge kicks out 2.5 times as much 7 ½ sized shot at 1 ¼ ounces, or about 425 pellets. So just by comparing the number of little lead spheres coursing towards your chosen target at high velocity, it’s easy to mathematically devise that it’s just simply gonna be easier to hit a moving target with more pellets with the bigger 12 gauge than the .410 – so a .410 will require practice and a touch of skill to get a handle on hitting moving targets with any kind of authority. However, with solid hits in a vital area, I’ll lay wages that your small game target isn’t going to be able to tell if you shot it with a .410 or a 12 gauge. “But what about slugs?” You may ask…and that’s a great question. A 1-ounce Foster-type lead slug from a 12 gauge has legendary impact power – I’ve personally seen deer flip hooves-over-head upon being the recipient of a solid 12 gauge slug hit in the brisket, and many authorities recommend a 12 gauge with slugs as a big bear deterrent in Alaska…so the 12 gauge with slugs is nothing to sneeze at. However, the .410 bore throwing slugs is a wholly different kettle of fish. You Might Like: Walking Around Rifle A Remington 2 ½” long .410 slug load shoots a ⅕ ounce slug – roughly 90 grains – at about 1,830 FPS velocity. This equates to roughly 650 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. However, that stubby little lightweight slug sheds velocity FAST – at 50 yards it’s moving at a shade over 1300 FPS and the bullet energy has been halved at less than 350 ft-lbs of energy. At 100 yards, that ⅕ ounce of cast lead is barely serving up 200 ft. lbs of energy. Folks, we’re looking at roughly the same performance as a .357 Magnum shooting a 125-grain bullet – from a handgun . Around the parts I hail from, we consider 1,000 ft-lbs of energy to be a good baseline for killing a whitetail deer – so though I’m sure they have felled many a deer, to be safe the .410 slug loads really need to be kept to coyote-sized game for clean kills. No Really – Why a Lever Action? Aye, there’s the rub. People can get the philosophy behind the .410 and generally agree it has merit within its envelope – but try to get them to understand why a lever-action SHOTGUN makes sense and you’ll start to lose your audience’s understanding. Why get a levergun when there are other time-proven designs in .410 like the Remington 870, or even a break-open H&R/New England Firearms Handi-Rifle? Well, the lever-action shotgun has immediate appeal to me (and I’ll bet a lot of others) because I (we) grew up shooting leverguns. My first “real” deer rifle was a Winchester 94 “Trapper” in .44 Magnum. My first repeating rifle was a Marlin Model 39A. To this day, the gun I reach more most often when deer season opens up is a rare Marlin 336ER in .356 Winchester. To me, lever actions epitomize simplicity, speed, effectiveness, and fast-handling qualities – and this Henry is absolutely no different. I’ve been able to harvest multiple flushing ruffed grouse in thick cover with the Henry due to the Henry coming to the shoulder in a lively fashion and behaving like my beloved Marlin deer rifle. If you’ve used leverguns in the past, the Henry .410 lever action shotgun will certainly play nice for you. Survival Debate: Henry A7 vs Springfield Armory M6 Another argument that can be mustered in defense of the Henry is reliability. Leverguns have long been lauded as reliable arms – they work as long as they’re not broken, and they usually will run well even when gummed up with many years worth of outdoors gunk caking their innards. Where Henry Repeating Arms built the HO18-410 shotgun on their .45-70 platform, the design was already optimized for flawlessly eating big stubby ammunition – so the .410 is a logical progression and functions with precision. I have had zero malfunctions with the Henry, whether cycling the blued steel lever as forcefully as I could, or at a leisurely rate. The design works, and works well – and a good man with a levergun can easily keep pace with a guy running a pump-action…or possibly stay nipping at the heels of a guy with a semi-automatic shotgun. A facet to consider that certainly doesn’t harm the reliability is that the Henry’s action is completely enclosed. With no loading gate at the side or bottom to expose the shotgun’s guts, the likelihood of debris entering the firearm’s innards is lowered substantially. I’ve frequently returned to the truck after a day of hunting close cover areas, only to find a fir branch or pine needles stuck in the gun’s action. A clean gun is a happy gun, and the longer you can keep foreign objects from collecting in the gun, the better the chances are the gun will work when you need it. The last Henry debate point I’m bringing to the repeating shotgun table is safety. Lever action arms are oft reviled in the safety department due to the fact that (surprise, surprise!) the gun will probably go off if you’re a moron and keep your finger in the trigger guard while cycling the action during a brisk unloading session. As stated previously, the Henry negates this issue handily by allowing the user to dump all the rounds out of the tubular magazine, and then cycle the action once to extract any chambered shells. If this manual of arms is followed, there is zero chance the gun can go off while unloading – even if your finger somehow finds its way onto the trigger. Related: Tru-Bore 12 Ga Chamber Adapter Review Also, the exposed hammer allows a level of visual safety that just isn’t available on other repeating shotguns. A simple visual inspection can tell you if the gun is cocked and ready to fire – a wonderful benefit for teaching, and also for loaning the shotgun to people who may not be “gun guys/gals”; you can glance at the gun in their hands – even from a distance – and know instantaneously if the Henry is cocked and ready to fire. A round of applause to Henry for also resisting the urge to install an eyesore and annoyance of a cross-bolt safety in the receiver to please lawyers – the gun’s lines remain clean and unfettered, and the internal hammer safeties ensure the gun won’t go off unless the trigger is pulled. Running and Gunning I certainly wasn’t going to have a gun like this Henry in my possession and just shoot it a couple times at clay pigeons and dig it out to show friends the “bet you’ve never seen one of these!” shotgun. No sir, I wanted to test the utility of the Henry .410 and find its place in the big scheme of prepper stuff. Field work was required. Henry was kind enough to expedite sending the shotgun to me to make sure I could test the .410 on my yearly bird-hunting expedition in Northern Maine. Knowing ruffed grouse would be the primary game, I needed to settle on dialing in the ammunition for the task at hand, and also pattern the shotgun to check shot density. Knowing roughly how big a grouse was, I tried different shot sizes at different distances to see what appeared to be the best envelope that the Henry was most effective inside. Fortunately, the grouse is approximately the same size as other small game, so it was a great benchmark to compare how the shotgun would work against other, rather diminutive fur-bearing creatures. Normally, when I hunt birds with 12 or 16 gauge shotguns, I gravitate towards #5 or #6 shot to wrangle a bit more distance and punch; the heavier shot provides a better chance at hitting game when coursing through light foliage. However, I found that even with the supplied full choke, #6 shot just wasn’t putting many pellets on the target area at my self-imposed 25 yards. So, I made the decision to bump down a shot size to #7 ½, and had much better shot pattern density with 10-12 pellets in the desired 8” target area at 25 yards. Pacing back to even just 30 yards, the shot pattern opened wide and I was lucky to get more than 4 or 5 pellets on the circle – so now I knew the shot size and range where the shotgun would be most effective for me. Chances were excellent that I would be shooting at moving birds, so that shot pattern would need to be effective and predictable – and the 2 1/2″ Remington Long Range Express loads I settled on delivered the goods nicely. Since the action length is limited to use of 2 ½” long shotgun shells only, I was curious about the effectiveness with its smaller shot payload – most other semi- and pump-action .410s offer 3” chambers, with a correspondingly heavier shot charge. While I didn’t have a 3” gun to test against and maybe get some on-paper results, I’m happy to say that in the real world, the 2 ½” chamber worked well – as long as I stayed in that 25-yard box. Two examples for you to consider: Case one: while hunting grouse with a buddy on our trip, he flushed a grouse from a juniper bush below me and the bird took off like a feathered Apache helicopter and made a beeline for the heavy cover to my left. I heard the bird break, caught the motion, and fluidly brought the shotgun to my shoulder in a well-rehearsed, almost subconscious motion. The bead found the bird rocketing past me through light scrub brush, swept past in a quick lead, and the bird fell a split second after the trigger broke cleanly beneath my finger. The range was about 15 yards, and I was stunned I had made the shot – I’d had it in my head that the little .410 just wouldn’t make the grade on wingshooting. I was delightfully wrong. Case Two: on the same trip, I had a grouse glide past my head and land on a stump, about 50 yards away. I readied the Henry for action on my shoulder and stalked slowly to about 35 yards. At this point, the bird was getting seriously cagey with my approaching presence, so I cocked the shotgun, took careful aim, and let fly, thinking that the still target would provide enough possibility to a few pellets to hit effectively. Pellets did hit – I’m not sure how many – but they lacked the authority or numbers for a clean kill, and the bird toppled, hitting the ground running hard through the dense brush. I gave chase for about 20 minutes, and thankfully the bird was harvested a few minutes later by my hunting partner. I made a mental note not to move out of the comfort zone of the shotgun again; wounding and not recovering game is one of the worst feelings ever. I did buy a couple boxes of slugs for the Henry and tried them out off the bench at the 25-yard mark. I’m sure the full choke didn’t help things – the big brass bead sight sure didn’t – but the slugs formed a huge 10” pattern on the paper, with one of the slugs keyholing. If you’re planning on possibly shooting slugs more frequently from your .410 Henry, I would steer you towards the shorter rifle-sighted version which has no choke to contend with, as well as the capability of mounting optics; slugs were not a viable option in my gun except at very close range. In my eyes, the 24” barreled bead-sighted Henry like mine is far better suited to be a shot-delivering shotgun than a slug-delivering shotgun. But really, that was my plan all along anyway. "Little Bore Fish" in a "Big Gauge Pond" Reading reviews for the Henry online, I seem to see writers simply noting that the Henry is “a lot of fun!” while casting off the utility the levergun provides. Perhaps they didn’t like the compromise the littlest shotgun represents, or the fact that slugs didn’t play nice with this model and so it’s not truly a do-it-all wonder gun. However, limiting this shotgun to the “fun only” category is a serious mistake – and in doing so, many potential users likely miss out on a great opportunity to have a nicely effective gun for a lot of purposes. Also Read: 30-30 Lever Guns Obviously, this shotgun can be used for small-game hunting – I’ve proven that many times with the shotgun since it’s been in my possession. Ruffed grouse, gray and red squirrels, and nuisance chipmunks have all fallen to the the little Henry that could while in my hands. Rabbits and hares, woodchucks, beaver, porcupines, and other similarly-sized critters will all crumple convincingly to a well-placed pattern of appropriately-sized pellets from this levergun. Its foraging and pest control potential is all out of proportion to the size of the hole in its muzzle, and when you consider the fact that you can fit roughly 2-3 times the amount of .410 ammunition in the same space as box of ammo for a 12 gauge, its place in the great survivalist universe starts becoming clear. Leave this beautifully made shotgun and a bunch of shells at the homestead, farm, or BOL, and be guaranteed to have an effective gun for feeding your family, eradicating unwelcome rodents in your garden, and even providing defense if need be at close range with slugs or buckshot rounds. Though some may throw up the “ but the .22 will do all that and more ” rebuttal with quivering bottom lip and furrowed brow, the point of fact is that the shotgun is a much more effective arm at the .22-type tasks than the .22 actually is, inside range limitations, and providing ample ammunition supply. And if your survival or hunting plans includes people who simply aren’t practiced on precision firearms shooting, the shotgun will prove to be a better arm for supplying these types with a gun they can effectively collect game with. The slower loading speed and limited 5-shot capacity ensures that the supply of ammunition won’t be ripped through too quickly, and the .410’s small(er) ammunition size ensures that a heady supply can be kept in a short amount of space – so the apartment dwellers and tiny home denizens can raise their hands in supplication to the prepper shotgun Gods as well. Long and short? The Henry H018-410 .410 "Lever Action Shotgun" is a beautifully built, high quality, very rugged shotgun that will serve many people well as long as they stay inside its working range – and as long as they wander past the unknown and give the lever action .410 a chance to prove its worth. Other interesting articles: Remington TAC 14 Shotgun Review for 2020: Survival Shotgun The Ubiquitous 30-30 Lever Gun "Survival Gear Review" : 1887 T-Model 12 Gauge Shotgun Survival Gear Review: Henry US Survival AR-7 Rifle
A data driven discussion on bolt thrust, the ballistic inferiority of 6.8 SPC, and all other manner of geeky ballistic data! Heaven! Summary: 5.56 aint that bad. Share: Google Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit More Tumblr LinkedIn Pocket Email Print visit website
VZ Grips who has long been an industry leader in manufacturing Micarta and G10, and Carbon Fiber pistol grips for some of the worlds most popular pistols recently announced they are bringing their technology and skills to the AR-15 market. The announcement from VZ Grips initially was rather vague on what textures and colors would be in the initial offering, but one thing that is known for sure is that there will be twenty different variants of their AR-15 grips in the very near future. This move by VZ Grips seems to be a logical step in the companies gradual entrance into the AR-15 and rifle market. Recently they started to produce several types of textured rail covers for both M-Lok and KeyMod style fore rails. The recent news was also followed by a list of the texture patterns that VZ intends to release this initial batch of AR-15 grips in, the patterns are as follows. Alien G10 Diamond Slant G10 Frag G10 Operator II G10 Recon G10 VZ Grips is releasing these grips three days earlier than projected for people who have signed up on the companies web page. While these grips might not appeal to all AR-15 owners for a variety of reasons including their projected cost of $95, there is no denying that VZ Grips makes a fantastic product. I have used VZ Grips on several pistols over the years including my daily conceal carry sidearm and will say if these grips are anything like their other grips, they will be well worth the money you spend on them. Image Courtesy: TheFirearmsBlog.com We hope you enjoyed this quick look at a brand new offering from VZ Grips. We have reached out to the company in the hopes of being able to perform some sort of test and evaluation process on them. As of the time of this article they haven’t returned our emails or phone calls. We here at the site are hoping that VZ Grips also has plans for AK-47 grips as well, we can always hope. Rick Feature Image Courtesy:thefirearmsblog.com
A good, old-fashioned 1911 is a great firearm that everyone can appreciate. But there’s no denying that it has some heavy criticism nowadays, especially when compared to modern firearms which don’t suffer from the same design flaws that were common back in the early 20th century. With the right accessories and upgrades, you can make your 1911 a truly amazing firearm that can hold its own against the best of the newer models. In this guide, we’ll look at what upgrades you should consider if you want to boost your 1911’s accuracy and overall performance. At a Glance: Our Top Picks for 1911 Accessories and Upgrades OUR TOP PICK: Magpul MOE 1911 Textured Grip Panels Sig Sauer 1911.45ACP Threaded Barrel Novak - Semi-auto Tritium Dovetail Front Sight Parrish - 1911 Auto Bushing Comp PSA 1911 Trigger Comparison of the Best 1911 Upgrades and Add-ons IMAGE PRODUCT Our Top Pick Magpul MOE 1911 "Textured Grip Panels" Made of Polymer Black, Gray, Green or Dark Earth Color Easy Install Grip Panels for Both Sides of Grip View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews "Sig Sauer 1911" .45ACP Threaded Barrel Threaded Best Barrel Upgrade For Use With Suppressors "View Latest Price" → "Read Customer Reviews" Novak - Semi-auto "Tritium Dovetail Front" Sight Best Sight Tritium Dot Dovetail Mount View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews Parrish - 1911 "Auto Bushing Comp" Easy to Install Fits All Calibers Best Compensator View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews PSA 1911 Trigger Best Trigger Aluminum Construction 3 holes for Variable Installations View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews Why You Should Consider Adding Upgrades The 1911 has been around for over a century! Not many firearms can lay claim to that kind of long lifespan and popular use. And it’s not a collectible or only resting on museum shelves. No, the 1911 is still an excellent pistol, but there’s no denying that it faces a lot of tough competition from more modern guns that can easily take advantage of technological advancements. 1911 Upgrades ( Source ) Adding some sweet accessories or upgrades to your 1911 is a great way to bring the weapon into the 21st century. Since the 1911 is so popular, the good news is that you’ll be able to find a plethora of awesome attachments and upgrades. It’s a great gun by itself, but upgrades can make a good 1911 a beast in its own right, even when compared to modern day weapons. Many of these enhancements come from law enforcement or civilian experimentation, so there’s sure to be something for everyone no matter your intended use. When you do think about getting some upgrades, it’s a good idea to put together a general plan or wish list and make sure everything can go on the gun together. Nothing would be worse than buying two attachments only to find out that they’re mutually exclusive! For the best results, figure out what parts of your 1911 you want to improve the most and work up from there. Quick Take - The Best Upgrades for your 1911 These are our recommendations for the best accessories for your 1911: Magpul MOE 1911 Textured Grip Panels Sig Sauer 1911.45ACP Threaded Barrel Novak - Semi-auto Tritium Dovetail Front Sight Accessories Perfect for your 1911 Let’s get into some of the best upgrades you could add to your personal 1911. We’ll examine each type in detail, then provide a phenomenal example of an attachment so that you’ll know what to look for. Grips Grip will affect your handling of the 1911 more than you might think. It can affect your accuracy and stability as you pull off rapid shots and will also make the weapon easier or harder to drop when in inclement weather. Improving your grip is a great passive benefit that anyone can appreciate. 1. Magpul MOE 1911 Textured Grip Panels CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Diamond-Shaped Cross-Section Good for Ambidextrous Safeties Easy Handling During Slippery Weather Cons Magazine Cut Out Might Need Trimming These are fantastic grip panels that you can attach very easily either yourself or with the help of a gunsmith. The grips are made to work with ambidextrous safeties, which is something you don’t see in many grips, and have diamond-shaped cross-sections. These are designed to be very easy to hold and dig into your palms as you hold the weapon. This will aid you when you’re trying to hold it as it fires and can provide some great tension if it’s raining or your palms become sweaty. A gun that slips out of your hands is a sizable danger, so we’re glad to see this protective functionality in the grip pieces. There’s an aggressive magazine drop cut out of the grips, though we noticed that you might need to trim it a little more yourself, depending on its condition upon arrival. However, we feel that this is really just a minor flaw since you can get these grips in four colors for a very reasonable asking price and for a minimum of installation trouble. They’re an excellent pair of grip panels that can improve anyone’s 1911 by a large degree. Bottom Line The Magpul grip panels are an affordable modification that we'd like to see every 1911 user take advantage of. They'll make firing your weapon more comfortable, ensure that you have less of a risk of dropping the weapon from sweaty hands and improve your accuracy passively by helping you maintain an excellent grip on the pistol. They can come in several colors depending on what you like best. Barrels A good barrel will give direct improvements to your accuracy, even if your mechanical skill stays the same. When in competition against newer firearms, any extra accuracy you can squeeze out of the gun is a win in our eyes. You can either go for a gunsmith fit barrel or a match-grade pre-fit barrel. The former is a better deal since your accuracy will be much better, especially at farther ranges. 2. Sig Sauer 1911 TACOPS Threaded Barrel CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Good Weight and Length Excellent for Use With Other Accessories Cons Expensive This barrel will improve the accuracy of your 1911 immediately. As soon as the first shot is fired, you’ll be able to tell a great difference in the range at which you can reliably hit targets. The barrel has a threaded interior, which means that it’s going to help spin your round as it exits the gun and maintains its accuracy over a longer space. Velocity won’t be helped very much, but we’re looking at barrels for their accuracy improvements more than anything, and the 1911 has enough velocity that this shouldn’t be a problem anyway. The barrel is also designed to allow you to install some additional accessories on its front, such as a suppressor. We really like attachments that play well with others. This barrel is a great addition to any modification suite you’re planning for your 1911 since it can be combined with other attachments and make your firearm even more of a force to be reckoned with than it already is. Bottom Line This barrel does a phenomenal job of improving the accuracy and effective range of your 1911. While you will suffer a slight velocity reduction, the threading in the barrel will spin each round issued by your 1911 and cause them to hit targets further and more accurately than ever before. It’s also easy to combine with other adjustments due to its shapely construction. Sight Most original-style 1911s will have small, mil-spec sights that might not compete with the better optics afforded by many modern pistols. Instead, you can add much better sights that will allow you to shoot more accurately and in better lighting conditions than the standard set. There are both fixed and adjustable sights available for your 1911, depending on your preference. 3. Novak Semi-Auto Tritium Dovetail Front Sight CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Great Dot for Shooting in Low Light Easy to Change and Remove as Necessary Cons The White Ring Might Be Distracting Here we have an excellent government-style sight that you can mount atop your 1911 with a minimal effort or trouble. We recommend using a gunsmith just to be sure the mounting goes perfectly, but it’s an easy-enough piece to take off if you need to adjust something or if you don’t want the sight on for a particular shooting session. The sight uses a tritium dot that's bright enough to work in most low-light conditions. This is great for use with a 1911 sight since you might use the pistol in urban or interior quarters during tactical exercises. The dot isn't very ideal for high-light scenarios, although in this case having a sight to aim your shots more precisely is still going to be a net benefit for your firearm. The sight is made from durable materials and is mounted on the dovetail, a perfect location for a 1911 sight. The price is pretty reasonable for all of the functionality you get with the purchase and its easy modifiability means that even if your first mounting isn’t perfect you can tinker and mess around with it until you’re satisfied. It’s a great example of an attachment sight for an older weapon. Bottom Line This dovetail sight is very easy to install and remove, so you can switch up your weapon depending on your mood on any particular day. The sight is particularly helpful for shooting in low light environments and is balanced and weighted very well: a critical component for a lightweight pistol attachment. Compensator The 1911s recoil can be tricky to learn. As an older weapon, it certainly has a bit of a kick that takes some getting used to! You can add a decent compensator to reduce the muzzle rise as you rise. This will redirect the recoil rather than reducing it. In this way, you can improve your accuracy and keep your barrel on target even as you squeeze off multiple shots in rapid succession. 4. Parrish EZ Equalizer 1911 Auto Bushing Comp CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Controls Recoil Very Well No Gunsmithing is Needed Heat Treated to Resist Corrosion Cons The Color Might Not Match With Gun The Parrish is a great compensator that’s presented for an affordable price . It’s very easy to install; you won’t need to go to the gunsmith and wait for very long before you can have your piece installed and ready for action. Right away you'll notice a solid difference in recoil control as you squeeze off rounds. The compensator is well-made and well balanced and is treated with a coating to resist heat damage and the corrosion that can come with that effect. It's pretty lightweight, so you shouldn’t notice much of a difference before and after you install it onto your 1911. Most importantly, your shot won’t be thrown off by having to adjust to a new balance or tilt to the feel of the firearm. The only tiny flaw we found is that the color likely won’t match the metal shade of your 1911 right off the bat, but with a little paint beforehand you can take care of that quickly enough. Or you can just ignore it; you’re getting the compensator for its performance boost, not its appearance. If you want to control your 1911’s recoil and make staying on target easier with quick, successive shots, we can’t recommend the Parrish enough. Bottom Line This compensator is so easy to install you won’t even need to consider the gunsmith. You can remove or attach it as you please and immediately feel the results as your 1911’s recoil is handled much more vertically than before. This will help you place shots where you want them, and it works with all calibers of rounds suitable for a 1911. It’s also been treated to resist heat and corrosion. Triggers Many 1911s could benefit from a little trigger work. This will allow you to improve your trigger's pull quality and improve your accuracy passively since each trigger pull will jostle the weapon less intensely in your hand. A trigger upgrade will likely need to be performed by a good gunsmith, but you'll see immediate results and really feel the age reduction once the upgrade is complete. 5. PSA 1911 Trigger CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Affordable Improves Trigger Responsiveness Cons Gunsmith May Be Necessary Let’s take a look at a great trigger from PSA for a 1911 specifically. It’s made of aluminum. This is to keep the trigger durable, yet light enough to both not distort the balance of the gun and to ensure that each trigger pull is smooth and buttery. It’s a far cry from triggers made with bulkier, thicker metals that have difficulty sliding past other machine parts. The trigger is a three-hole variant, so there are a multitude of sensitivities you can specify for your particular weapon. In general, we like sensitive triggers because they translate to better response time and better accuracy since you'll be pulling the trigger less hard and shifting your gun less as a result. Don't worry about a trigger that's too sensitive if you're good on your safety training and always have your safety on unless you're about to fire. Because modifying your trigger affects the whole gun and a bad installation can have ramifications that might break the weapon, we recommend heading to a gunsmith to make sure that the trigger is installed correctly. While this might take time and money, we feel that you’ll really love the improved performance of your 1911’s trigger. Bottom Line This great trigger is light and made of aluminum. This affords it some supreme durability without compromising its ability to smoothly slide past the other parts of the gun, making each trigger pull satisfying and consistent. You will need a gunsmith's help for effective installation, although the three-hole style allows you to specify the kind of sensitivity you want for your ideal 1911 trigger setup. Conclusion With all of these upgrades, you can imagine how well your 1911 will perform in the field. It’ll be like a new gun, but with the solid, steady core of a trusty 1911 pistol. With these upgrades, you won’t need to say goodbye to your reliable 1911, you can keep it with you through the years, confident that it will take care of business just as well now as it did decades ago.