My new AR-15: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before I begin today’s report, I want you to know that I’ll be out of the office all this week. I’m traveling to Arkansas to film some episodes of the new American Airgunner. I’m asking the veteran readers to watch for new reader’s comments and to help them whenever you can. I know that you do this all the time anyway, but I wanted you to know that I won’t be able to answer questions as easily this week as I normally am. My wife, Edith, also closely monitors the blog. On to today’s report.

I’m writing this report as an airgunner who’s discovering something new — something that he’s wondered about a long time and finally decided to see whether the things he’s read were true or not. I’m writing it about a firearm because airguns are what I normally do. Firearms aren’t my regular beat, so anything I do with them is a stretch. I want to put myself on the same footing as someone who is new to airguns and doesn’t know what to believe.

The AR: What is it?
I could spend the rest of my life writing about the AR-15 and not exhaust the subject. It is without question one of the world’s most recognized and talked-about firearms. Love it or hate it — you cannot deny its success.

I was one who hated it. My experience began with the M16, which is the true full-auto assault rifle that civilians cannot obtain legally without going through many government hoops and paying dearly. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the rifle that lacks the full-auto capability. Full-auto operation is one of the main things that defines an assault rifle. So, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle — nor can it ever be, legally.

But it looks enough like the M16, except for the full-auto part, and it operates enough like an M16 that shooters have accepted it as a legal substitute. Some shooters aren’t even aware of the differences between the AR-15 and the M16 and use the model names, interchangeably.

My experience with the M16 began in the Army, and I documented it quite well in Part 1 of this report, so I won’t repeat myself. The bottom line is that the rifle isn’t as accurate as I want a rifle to be.

Over the years, I watched people with AR-15s, and all I saw was confirmation that it, too, was not a very accurate firearm. At least not by my standards. If I backed an AR owner into a corner, he would tell me about its high rate of fire, the interchangeability of parts and all the development that has gone into the rifle over its half-century life-cycle. Then, I would counter with the rifle’s 3-minute-of-angle accuracy and make a yucky face. And we would agree to disagree.

Yet, all the while I was watching from the sidelines, I saw occasional references to superb accuracy from certain rifles. When I tracked them down and eliminated all those that were based on 3-shot groups and 5-shot groups, I was left with a small but insistent core of reports that the AR really could shoot well. There were stories of half-inch 10-shot groups at 100 yards — stories that I wanted to believe, but simply could not. I’d shot too many M16s and AR-15s to believe that one could really be that accurate with 10 shots. Yet, like a child full of expectant hope, I never lost interest.

Then, I had an opportunity to make a trade of an AK rifle for an AR-15. That was the stimulus I needed to do the real research into the gun. About 20 years had passed since I last looked into the gun, and I discovered that things had changed dramatically. New propellants were discovered that made the rifle sing like never before. New bullets were developed that, combined with new rifling twist rates, made huge strides in the accuracy department.

The deal with the AR-15 fell through, but I had done the research and was now ready to make my move. So, when the right AR upper came along — one that promised the kind of accuracy I was looking for — I grabbed it.

You saw the potential for accuracy in the first report. Today, I’ll expand on that and tell you how I’ve learned to live with this rifle. The gentleman I got it from gave me a load that I tried immediately. I used both his recommended bullet plus another that I had on hand that was almost as heavy. My barrel has a 1:8″ twist rate, so it stabilizes heavier bullets. I don’t shoot the 55-grain bullets that many shooters use. I shoot a 77-grain boattailed spitzer and a 68-grain match hollowpoint that both stabilize in the rifle when a full load of powder is used.

On my second time out with the rifle, I shot three 10-shot groups at 100 yards. That may not sound like a lot of shooting, but I wait for the barrel to cool between shots, so it takes close to a full hour to complete.

I also load these cartridges to a longer overall length than the magazine will tolerate. This is something I learned from one of our readers, and the guy who sold me the upper confirmed it. Where most AR guys want the largest capacity magazine they can get, I’m loading each round singly and pushing the bolt release to close the bolt. I’m like a man who never takes his Ferrari out of first gear! AR owners would turn inside-out if they saw me shoot.

But I get results!

The first three 10-shot groups measure 0.913 inches, 0.827 inches and 0.562 inches. I’d say that was a success! I won’t bore you with the load details because every rifle is unique, but both the 77-grain and the 68-grain bullets were accurate.

Group 1 AR-15
Ten .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.913-inch group.

Group 2 AR-15
Ten .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.827-inch group.

Group 3 AR-15
Ten more .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.562-inch group. This is what I’ve been looking for in an accurate rifle for the past 40 years!

I load the bullets longer than the magazine will tolerate because that way the bullet can be closer to the rifling in the bore when the cartridge fires. That improves accuracy. Looking at the three groups above, I think you would agree.

One problem with a semiautomatic rifle is that it throws the empty cartridge case far from the gun. With an AR-15, this can be adjusted somewhat by increasing or decreasing the amount of gas that flows to the bolt, and my rifle was properly set up to operate with the loads I was using. Still, the cartridges landed ahead of the firing line some 6 to 10 feet, and I had to wait for a cease-fire to go out and collect them for reloading. If the grass was tall, I might miss some.

So, I bought a brass catcher. Again, I did it my way. Most brass catchers attach to the rifle. The one I bought is separate. It’s large and catches anything the rifle cares to toss, as long as it’s in the right place on the shooting bench. Since buying it, I’ve shot the rifle about 70 times and it never missed one cartridge.

Another problem with semiautomatics is the cartridges must be resized their full length after every firing. This works the brass and shortens the life of the case. I’m using maximum loads from the standpoint that I can’t get any more powder into the case, but the pressures I’m loading are more than 10,000 psi below what a standard 5.56mm cartridge generates. I am at 42,000 psi, where 5.56mm rounds easily hit 52,000 psi.

I’m loading .223 Remington cartridges rather than 5.56mm military cartridges. The difference is that my commercial case is thinner and holds more powder, and the leade in the .223 barrel is shorter than the leade in a 5.56mm barrel. Because I work the brass by resizing and because I use maximum loads, I’ll be lucky to get 10 reloads from my cartridges — while I’ve gotten over 50 reloads from other cartridges in rifles that generate less pressure at firing and whose cartridges I don’t have to full-length resize.

I took the rifle out again last week and fired it with some new loads. The day I went, it was raining and I shot in pouring rain. A light mist doesn’t affect accuracy too much, but driving rain can play havok with accuracy at 100 yards. Perhaps that’s why the best group I managed to shoot that day measures a whopping 0.835 inches between centers. And, yes, that was sarcasm. I’m still very pleased with these results.

AR-15 on range in downpour
On the range during a driving rain. You can see my brass catcher. It never misses!

Group 4 AR-15
Best 10-shot group of this rainy day was a 0.835-inch group.

Am I pleased?
How could I not be pleased with these results? This is the level of accuracy I’ve been after for the past 40 years. Yes, something miraculous has happened. I’m shooting the best I’ve ever shot with an AR-15 — a rifle I thought was hopelessly inaccurate. I hope you realize that this does relate to airguns in a big way.

You may have a blind side to certain airguns like I did with the AR-15. You may hate spring guns or PCPs the way I hated black rifles. Maybe it isn’t ultimate accuracy that you want, but rather distance. Maybe you’d like to be able to hunt jackrabbits in the Texas panhandle, where a fleeting shot at 50 yards is the best you’re ever going to get. Or maybe you want accuracy, just like I did. Maybe you read about all these accurate precharged pneumatics, but just can’t believe what you’ve read; because when you see guys actually shoot them in front of you, they never do as well as they seem to claim on the internet.

Maybe you want the airguns that give one-shot kills. Maybe you’re tired of tracking game after you shoot it and wonder how all those airgun hunters are dropping as much game as they claim but you’re lucky to get one or two.

Whatever it is that you want, the way to get it is to do what I’ve done. Sift through all the reports looking for the kernels of truth. They’re there for you to find. And when the day comes that you have that pleasant experience where something goes exactly as you hoped it would, all your efforts will prove worthwhile.

By the way — writing a nice, flattering report about the AR-15 is penance for all my bad thoughts. I wonder now what I’m going to have to say about some airguns I also have thought ill of?

90 thoughts on “My new AR-15: Part 2”

  1. I’ve avoided AR’s up until recently, when I got one that fell out of the sky into my lap. Free! Byesplatno! As duskwight would say… So I guess I’m meant to have one for now. It wasn’t really free though, just most of it. I had to buy the trigger group, selector and mags. I got the mags and thought I had the rest taken care of by getting a Bushmaster lower parts kit, but alas, Bushmaster messed up and gave me 2 bolt catches and no selector! So I have an AR that functions fine but has no safety other than me. This doesn’t really bother me except for the hole in the receiver where it’s supposed to go that can allow entry of all kind of FOD. So I have an oversized selector on its way. Couldn’t find any ammo reasonably priced. Everyone thinks that 223 surplus seems to be worth over a buck a cartridge!!! 🙁 So I bought brass and 60 grain Blitz King bullets which were the only thing I needed to make my own. Hopefully, I can find a load that’s reasonably accurate in a 1:9 twist barrel and that will cycle it. For a basically free gun, 3-4″ at 100 would tickle me pink, because for me an AR is nothing more than a plinker… I have other guns for home protection, hunting and the like. Now I just need time to develop that load.


  2. B.B. and Everyone else who knows PCPs,

    Late last month as a 50th birthday present from my wife to me (we do this to make sure I get something I really want) I purchased a factory refurbished Marauder and a brand new Hill MKIII pump. I didn’t try anything out until my birthday and hadn’t a chance to use it again until today.

    On day one I pumped the Marauder from 0 to 2500-2600 psi with exactly 250 pumps; even early strokes were moderately difficult. (I’m out of shape, but at 6′ 1″, 315 lbs. I still can bench press 285 pounds.) Yes, as per the Hill’s instructions, I paused every 50 strokes to allow the pump to cool. I’ve shot two mags total through the Marauder, which brought the gun’s gauge down to 2000 psi.

    I decided to pump it up to 2500-2600 psi again, but after 200 strokes, NOTHING. Neither the gun’s gauge nor the pump’s gauge has budged. The pumping effort is SLIGHTLY less difficult than before. My wife can feel no escaping air from any of the connections as I pump. I have followed all owner’s manual instructions carefully.

    Any ideas? Is the rifle dead or is the pump dead (or already in need of expensive replacement parts after the first few hundred strokes)?

    If the rifle’s dead, I’m probably out of luck as it was a private purchase. If the Hill pump is dead, I’m still probably out of luck as Pyramyd’s return policy gives me only 4 more days to get it into their hands (at my cost) and even then, P.A. either does not accept returns on defective products or does accept returned defective products but charges a 15 percent “restocking” fee – I can’t figure out which.

    This is the most disappointing airgun purchase I’ve ever suffered through, in part because this gun plus the Hill pump amount to the most I’ve ever spent on an airgun. Plus, my wife’s in tears for giving a “bad” birthday present, and on top of it all, I just turned 50! (LOL) Salt in the wound, etc.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas about what is wrong with the rifle, pump, or both. And thanks in advance for any clarifications you can provide me regarding P.A.’s policy for returning defective stuff.


    • Michael,

      this may sound really dumb so forgive me but have you made sure the bleed screw on the pump is fully closed before you begin pumping? The high pressure pump trades volume of air moved for high pressure so you may not hear the air escape as you pump. Try some soapy water at the Foster connection on the rifle when it’s connected to the pump as well as where the hose is connected to the pump.

      good luck.

      Fred DPRoNJ

    • Michael…

      When you say “nothing”, do you mean that the rifle’s guage stays at 2000, while the pump’s guage stays at zero ? Or do you mean that the pump’s guage goes up to the same pressure as the rifle’s guage and stops there ???

      Before I forget….I only pump 20 strokes at a time, not the 50 that is usually suggested. Once in a while I do 30, but not very often.


    • Michael…

      When you pump, you do it slow….

      Pull the handle all the way up and count to two. Then shove the handle down and count to two. Keep repeating..

      Pumping furiously will only get the pump hot , without giving the gun any air. The valve ports are small and it takes the air some time to move.


      • IT’S FIXED! Turned out the nut at the pump end of the hose needed an eighth of a turn. I did the old soapy water trick on every single connection, from the rifle reservoir back to the pump’s main shaft.

        Yep, I pump at a medium pace and at a constant pace. Both gauges refused to move at all.

        Whew! I am happy and my wife has stopped walking around the house like she had given me a dead opossum for a 50th birthday present.

        I knew that if I asked everybody here for input, I would get a lot of smart, informed, and concerned questions. All of you are great. Thanks so very, very much.


          • Michael..

            A new pump seems to get hotter than one that is broken in. They gradually become more polished.

            When you open the bleed valve, do it as quickly as you can. It helps blow the water out of the pump.


        • Michael…

          That’s something you have to watch…leaky fittings.
          When you put the works together it can leak. You get that fixed, and later on it can start leaking again. It’s one of the first things you should check for when pressure won’t build and hold on the pump guage.

          If the pump handle tries to rise slowly while you are waiting for cooling time, there is a leaky valve. One of mine had dirt in the check valve in the bottom.


        • Great news, Michael. I think your wife should be well pleased for having given you this terrific birthday present! I’ve had a Marauder for three years now, and I just love it. I don’t know how you’re going to match this when your wife’s birthday rolls around!

          When you hand pump, use your size to your advantage. On the down stroke, let your upper (and even lower) body weight do as much work as possible. Lock your elbows, if ergonomic for you, and enlist gravity.

          Depending on how you use the rifle, reducing its power can get you a lot more trigger time for your hand-pumping effort. The Marauder has a transfer port adjuster that can vary its velocity across a huge range. My .177 rifle is adjusted down to 11.5 foot pounds. In this configuration, it gets 48 “match grade” shots from 3000 psi (<2% variation), and 90-odd "plinking grade" shots. I can provide details if you're interested.

          One more thing: you'll probably never find yourself out of luck if your m-rod one day has a mechanical problem. Crosman is terrific about supporting these rifles. They'll sell you any component of the rifle – every screw, o-ring, valve, etc. – and at a reasonable cost. Check out the parts diagram:


          Happy birthday!


          • Michael,
            The 50 strokes and then giving it a rest is a typical recommendation from the mfg, but I’ve found a different “standard”, and the following is of course keeping in mind that pumping strokes are nice and slow with a 2 second rest at the top and bottom of each stroke.
            When to give your pump a rest kinda depends on ambient temperature.
            If ambient temp is cold (like 40F), then you may be able to go for more than 50 pumps before a rest.
            If ambient temp is warm/hot(like90F), then you may have to give it a rest before you reach 50 pumps.
            To make a long story short, just feel with your fingers where the pumptube meets the base. If you feel slight warmth, that’s ok, but really warm is resting time, and never let it get HOT!!!
            And the time that’s given for the pump to rest is also dependent on ambient temp, again feeling for a cool temp at where the pumptube meets the base. Usually, somewhere between 10~20 minutes will give a nice cooldown rest (depending on ambient temp).
            Heat is what breaks down the pump seals.
            So if you never go past warm…you’ll most likely have a long time between pump rebuilds.
            When I opened my Hill pump up after a year of daily use…I was curious about the condition of the insides…none of the seals were bad/cooked, it just needed a little cleaning and lubing.
            Yes, this method of pumping/resting takes a long time, and because of that, I ended up buying a ShoeBox Compressor and Guppy tank (and loving both!!!).
            But my Hill pump is still good in case I ever need it.

            • Dave,

              I have found that I tend to heat up more quickly than the pump! When I touch the tube near the base after 30 or more pumps, it is warm, not hot. By then I’m already resting, hence my taking the moment to check out the pump’s temp.

              I’ve looked at the Shoebox models, but I feel that by the time you buy the Shoebox, a decent sized SCBA tank and fittings, and a decent shop compressor (I do not already have one, so that would have to be factored in), one is already at about 40%-45% of the cost of a 4500 psi dive compressor. I would rather put $50 per paycheck aside for three years and just get a Bauer. I could top off a Brancato minnow in about two minutes. If I do that ten times a week, I could use the compressor for about 25-30years and then sell it, with such little time on the meter, for $800-$900.


          • Jan,

            I am aces when it comes to my wife’s birthday, Valentines, and especially our anniversary. I know her favorite candy, flowers, restaurants, and I know her taste in jewelry.

            If wifey ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

            As for pumping, the upstroke is toughest for me both because of my weight and because in my youth I was a powerflifter wannabe and damaged my lower joints and lower back

            The downstroke is only a bit of effort at the top, when I’m still using my arms a bit. I’m going to build a pumping platform, with a base that pins down and immobilizes the pump base and which I can stand on to make myself about seven feet tall (with a wall on one side and a railing on the other for my safety). Once I can straighten my elbows, a full downstroke takes no effort — NONE. That’s 6’1″ and 315lbs. for you. (I also get no trouble at bars.) Regarding the upstroke, I’ll just dead lift it with my legs. My quads could use the workout.


            • Michael..

              I know about keeping the wife happy…
              A few years ago my wife bought me my first R7 right after we went to the Findlay airgun show. She got the package deal with a scope.
              The barrel drooped, and was bad anyway (horribly rough bore and shotgunned). The scope was bad too. I had a tough time telling her I was happy with it.
              It meant a lot to me, so I decided to keep it and fix it myself. I did not want to secretly send it back for a replacement.
              So I got a new scope, rings, and a new barrel behind her back.


            • I’ve only got the AirForce pump (which appears identical to the Crosman, but for the label and fitting), and that pump has practically no effort on the upstroke… Downstroke, however? I have to wedge my thumbs against my gut and drop (by lifting my knees) to complete the downstroke over 2500psi. 2000 to 2500psi can be done with locked elbows and knee drops. Below 2000psi is just a “heavy” bicycle pump…

              And the Condor tank (based on needed strokes per 100psi) is at least 50% larger than the Marauder reservoir.

              I’m still waiting for the Crosman articulated linkage pump — after all, it was first announced a year ago…

          • Not to mention having both striker pre-load and striker stroke length adjustments. Makes an AirForce gun with just pre-load seem simple.

            I haven’t touched the adjustments on my .177 Marauder, but it is the one air-gun that I’d run through a chrono (heck, the 60 rounds I chronographed probably came close to matching the 20 year total for my .22 Diana m54).

            In my burn-down test, using H&N Barracuda Match 10.7gr, starting at 3000psi, and graphing the velocities (and, since the Marauder has a gauge, recording the pressure every 10 shots), I concluded the factory settings gave a usable range from 2700 to 2200 psi — and that translated to about 35 shots.

            Mine was using 20psi per shot from 3000 to 2600, only 10psi per shot from 2600 to 2500, 12.5psi from 2500 to 2375, and 17.5psi from 2375 to 2200. These were all in the 18-18.25 ft-lbs range (~875fps)

        • Great news. Tell how the rifle works for you. It’s one of my favorites and a definite classic for the future. We will be able to say that we were there at the beginning of the Marauder.


          • Matt,

            I shoot from a seated modified NRA position or from a bench, which is good because this rifle is HEAVY with my scope, probably 11 pounds or so. The trigger is a nicely distinct two-stage, but I need to adjust the weight down. Reasonably quiet, but only slightly quieter than my 10 meter springers.

            The best thing is the accuracy. Just stunning, almost (ALMOST) as good in my 10 meter basement range as my FWB 300s. Coincidentally, they weigh about the same and are roughly the same volume!

            I can see why the modification market is so big on these. It’s a great platform to improve upon. I’ll have my brother-in-law cut down, sand down, and refinish the stock. That’ll make it attractive and shed maybe a pound of weight. I’ll shop for a smaller, lighter weight scope for it, but my requirement for adjustable parallax might limit my options on that front, unless you know of a very small and lightweight scope with adjustable parallax. I might lower the weight another pound that way. I do plan to adjust the valve setting and hammer weight for low power / more shots.

            Cool gun.


  3. O.M.G., Mr. B.B.! Not the dreaded “yucky face”! Only thing worse is the ‘ol deadly “stink eye”. All seriousness aside, amazing shootin’ & truly inspiring for me. Come home safe. Thanx, ya’ll. Shoot/ride safe, Beaz

  4. OK,

    this is for all you re-loaders out there. I was under the impression that if you are reloading rifle brass to be used in the same rifle, all you needed to do was re-size the neck, not the entire cartridge. Why is BB re-sizing the entire cartridge?

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • Fred,

      It’s a general practice to full-length size brass for any reloads that are going into an auto loading gun. This is done for reliable cycling. With a good chamber in a manually loaded gun like a bolt acton, it’s better for accuracy to just neck size them.


      • Probably the handgun I shot the most rounds with was a TC Contender in 30/30. I competed in 200 meter IHMSA matches. I would just resize the necks on the brass. I used to use 147 grain bullets and MP 5744 powder. The 30/30 was almost 100% reliable on the 55-60 pound 200 meter ram targets. I only hit a ram one time when it didn’t drop. Must have been a low belly hit or something. Power and accuracy.

          • B.B., I don’t have any of my old TC stuff any more. I haven’t handloaded ammo for maybe 6-7 years now. But I think the 5744, if still available, would work. I was using it on jacketed bullet loads.
            BY the way, really nice groups you got with your rifle in this article.

            Take care, Jon

  5. BB,

    THANK YOU for using a brass catcher. I hate going to public ranges where guys stand 4 feet to my left and blast away on an AR-15 while I get hit in the face with their brass while trying to sight my 30-06.

    Whether or not you reload – I wish all semi auto shooters would use brass catchers out of respect for their fellow shooters.

    I “respect” the AR as a platform, but I personally feel like it has too much bad stigma – not as a “assault rifle”, but with ignorant shooters. From my experience, it seems 90% of AR owners know very little about their rifle and just want some thing TactiCOOL to blast as fast as they can with no thought. I want no association with that.

    • Yeah, that’s a brass catcher I could even stand to use. I only ever seen the ones that fit on the ejection port of the gun. I can’t use those due to the fact I fire an AK47. The charging handle would shred those little bags since it’s a part of the bolt carrier and moves with everything else. i remember catching hot brass from my gun and the guy next to me in Germany on our qualification range which was the most pathetically tiny thing I ever saw. I caught a hot casing in the small of my back once. Want to talk about hurt….What made it worse was I couldn’t reach around to get it off my back safely with all my gear on, so I had to let it set and cool until the first 20 shots were done. As i sit here thinking about it, those were some of the best times of my life.

    • etamme,

      Yeah — I was one of those who knew next to nothing about the AR until very recently. I finally got Patrick Sweeney’s first volume on the rifle and now everything makes a LOT more sense!

      I love this brass catcher. Now I can shoot my 5.7mm Johnson Spitfire that takes about 5 minutes to form a single case (on custom $250 dies!). I will never lose another case.


    • Maybe I need to look into that brass catcher. I have a square one about 2 feet on a side, and even with it right next to my M1, I will still miss some brass that goes almost directly forward. But that may be more of a problem with my reloads than my brass catcher.


    • BB said “On my second time out with the rifle, I shot three 10-shot groups at 100 yards. That may not sound like a lot of shooting, but I wait for the barrel to cool between shots, so it takes close to a full hour to complete.”

      So an hour for 10 shots is about 6 minutes per shot.

  6. Okay, I gotta ask.
    Now that you have the AR, do you find that you want to walk into the nearest dept store and shoot the place up ;-(
    We were at the range yesterday. It was crowded and a couple of benches down was a young fellow teaching what seemed to be his girlfriend and either his sister or hers how to shoot.
    They were fine until we pulled out the Mossberg Tactical (.22LR). Right away you could sense that they were nervous.
    Gotta love what the media has done.

    • If you want to see nervous, whip out a real AK-47. You want to see nervous, they will start looking at you like a terrorist. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have my normal woodland camo pants on and a t-shirt that says “INFIDEL” in both english and arabic. For some odd reason the humor is lost on many people.

      • John,

        Contrast that with Texas, where they look at you with adoration and generally want to strike up a conversation no matter what gun you’ve got in your hands…and that often leads to discussions of trading/selling/buying guns right there, on the spot. No FFL required.

        I’m never leaving this state 🙂


        • We can still do some trading around in Michigan which is rifle friendly but not entirely pistol friendly. I traded an old black powder gun for a Marlin 60 which absolutely refuses to feed correctly and I also traded a kayak for a Mossberg 100ATR. That thing will kick you like an angry mule so I rarely use it. I prefr something that doesn’t hit me quite so hard which is why I love my AK-47 so much. I can shoot the thing all day and not hurt my shoulder.

          • John,

            I am cracking up — aloud — as I write this. I have a buddy who somehow came into possession of an antique black powder 4 bore. He has shot it quite a bit (pretty brave, IMO). His nickname for it? “Angry Mule.”


            • I’m guessing the thing has quite a nasty kick. It’s an interesting gun. I’ve never seen anything with 4 barrels before evcept the military’s mini-gun. It’s more of a shredder than a gun though.

                • B.B.

                  Yes, although a 4 barrel sounds incredible. Some folks call ’em 4 bores, others call ’em 4 gauges, my friend will sometimes call it a .100 caliber just to make people blink.

                  I prefer to call it his 26mm.

                  But seriously (and hilariously) he did nickname it Angry Mule. He’s an average sized guy, I suppose 5’10”, 160 -170 lbs., and when he shoots it offhand, he leans forward as much as he can without pitching, and the blast puts him back on his heels and stumbling at least one step backwards.

                  He uses hand packed wads of pure lead shot in it, but if he had someone cast a bullet (heck, maybe even a roundball), it would have to be what, 1600 – 1800 grains?

                  Now if you really want to see about as “fer as it can go” (must be near Kansas City), do a youtube search for a relatively long video in which an outdoorsman tests a “punt gun.” Just search “punt gun.” It’s a gunwale-mounted boat gun in 2 bore for bagging half a gaggle of geese off a pond with one shot. It also is a way to move a 400 pound rowboat 50 feet backwards in a hurry! Punt guns usually fire off loads in the 4000 grain range.

                  I’ve never seen a one bore, but they have existed. Probably 6000 – 7000 grain shotguns. A half bore would have a muzzle you could fit a Campbell’s soup can into, I imagine. I could be wrong, but I think another name for a half bore is “A Gauge.” No doubt this is because people see one invariably exclaim, “What A Gauge!”


                  • Think you have decimal place error there…

                    .100 is smaller than .177 pellet.

                    1.00 caliber/bore OTOH.

                    “Gauge” is the number of lead balls of bore diameter that weigh 1lb. So a 4gauge would shoot a 1/4lb lead ball. 7000gr to the pound, so… 1750gr for a single ball.

                    • Wulfraed,

                      Yes, I meant to write the number for one hundred caliber, but perhaps a number that big is just a bit bewildering.


        • Someone was trying to buy my Savage 10FP police sniper rifle off me at the range in California. He said, “I would buy that for $500.” Really? I wasn’t offering. That price would hardly do after what I went through to get that gun. 🙂


  7. That’s some fine shooting. When I was in basic training in the army in 1987 they set a standard of 3 shots inside a quarter at 25 meters which I was able to set inside a nickle which is pretty impressive with iron sights and using a rifle that has been fired and fairly well abused by every recruit to have touched it since the unit was issued m-16a1’s maybe around 1970. We are not talking about a well cared for well maintained rifle. We are talking about a ratty piece of equipment that has been dropped countless times, dragged through mud, rocks, sand, snow, ice, and any other mess a drill sergeant could think of to put a recruit through. So I’d call my grouping fairly exceptional for that particular gun. My permanent station gun was even worse. They never handed out the same gun to you twice. It was never zeroed to my eyes and harder to hit a target with. Yet I could still put my groups inside a quarter on qualifying ranges if given 15 minutes of test firing the thing to figure out where the shots were landing.

    I still really don’t like the M-16/AR series all that much to this day. I still prefer my AK series weapons simply because they are so simple to maintain and far more reliable. My accuracy is slightly less but since I don’t use it for competition that’s not the big concern. My AK-47 gets put to use pest hunting. My Hungarian AMD65 which is a much more compact AK-47 is my home defense gun of choice. When A street punk kicks in your door with his manly “9 millah meetah” The sight of something like my AMD65 is enough to make his manhood wither to nothing and he’ll run….If I let him.

    But all of this will be a moot point. It is looking like the days of trading guns with other people and even having these kinds of guns might be coming to an end. I’m watching the government very carefully with gun control. I keep in contact with my house representative and senators (both of Michigan senators are pro-gun control). It’s looking like the back room policies that we never hear about until it’s too late sounds like they are pushing gun registration and a mandatory gun-buy back program. The more I listen to my reliable sources the more ugly gun control legislation is starting to sound.

      • They’d have a hard time grabbing mine. I make my own for my own use. So there are no serial numbers, no registration, and no knowledge by the government that my AK’s even exist. Current BATFE laws say you can assemble it yourself as long as it is for your own use. So I can’t ever sell or trade these AK’s. Not that I’d want to.

  8. Nice Shooting!!
    You are forgiven my son.

    BTW, You said you are lucky to get 10 reloads from a cartridge. How do you tell when one isn’t reusable anymore? Does it split or something?

    • chuckj,

      A cartridge can tell you it is finished in a number of ways. The most common is the neck splits, like you thought. With some cases you’ll get a split toward the rear pf the case and smoke will issue from the receiver with the shot. That’s scary, but not overly dangerous with the right guns that are in good shape.

      Another way a cartridge gives up is when the primer pocket enlarges so much that the new primers are loose to seat.

      I examine every case before putting it through the reloading process, because there is so much work that goes into it. I don’t want to waste time on a case I have to toss.


  9. If you loaded cartridges so they would fit in the mag, fired them in semi-auto mode, and fired at a normal pace (which obviously would start heating up the barrel), how much accuracy do you think you’d lose?

  10. I love my Bushmaster M4A3, open sights with a Geissele SSA trigger, I’ve shot 2″ 10 shot groups at 100yds. I’ve achieved this on many occasions, so it’s not a fluke, and that’s using “Plain Jane” ammo (Remington, PMC, American Eagle etc). Just wish I could ammo at reasonable prices.

  11. Nice shooting, B.B. Your rifle is definitely not an assault weapon with that single loading. So this proves that the right kind of AR can be extremely accurate. Clint Fowler wrote about it, “At first I was not impressed by this gun, but it intruded itself on my consciousness against my will. The little sucker can shoot. Not all of them though.”

    So, you traded away an AK for this? 🙂 Hmph. I have a great idea for a gun article. Somebody lavish the same care on the AK platform as is done for a top-grade AR and see where it gets you. There is no shortage of accuracy projects out there. Why not this one that will tell us so much about the two platforms? A lot of the work is already done with some of the modern AK designs.

    Speaking of design, my observation about my Mauser is that the sights and trigger cannot do justice to that superb action. The front sight is a triangle, and the rear sight is an extremely wide notch. The trigger is heavy and creepy. The whole set-up, I’m informed, was for low-light shooting and rapid sight acquisition, basically to pick off anyone who survived the machine guns. Couple that with the short length of the k98k and you can see that even with the bolt-action design,, they were already moving towards the short-range assault rifle concept.


    • Matt61,

      I see AK-47’s the same way as I see Ruger 10/22’s. Both are huge successes because of their reliability (i.e., not prone to jams), and not because of their accuracy.

      When I started doing research to buy a 10/22, I encountered a lot of information, including a great deal that was purely bogus. It was hard to see the trees from the forest. The one thing that I started to pick up on, after reading hundreds of opinions and experiences (i.e., personal reviews), was that the more you put into a 10/22 to make it more accurate, the less it behaves like a 10/22, and thus eventually isn’t a 10/22. The more accurate it is made, the more prone to jamming it becomes. Suddenly, you no longer have that “fun gun” that everyone loves, and that made it such a success. Some people put so much into their custom Ruger 10/22, that the cost eventually rivals that of a real target rifle, like an Anschutz. I personally don’t see the point in that.

      So, again, based on a lot of research, I found my way to a stock Ruger 10/22 Target Model, and I’m very pleased with it. The only negative is the fact that the first round tends to be less accurate than the remaining nine. This, apparently, is because of the extra head-space between the bolt (or whatever the thing is that includes the firing-pin on a semi-auto) and the chamber (or the area around it). So it isn’t a match-grade rifle, but that’s mostly because of the first round. Bottom line is that when I can get 10 (or 9) accurate rounds, they are accurate.

      American style AR’s were originally created to be very accurate, but proved to be horribly unreliable in the field. Reliability issues were fixed, and they’ve maintained a lot of their accuracy. BUT, accuracy was a primary goal, whereas it was not so much of a goal with AK-47’s. That’s not to say that they were designed to not be accurate, accuracy simply was not top priority, as it was with America service rifles. I believe that the AR’s were lethal out to 600 yards, whereas the AK-47’s were out to 400 yards. But, unlike an American AR, even a busted up AK-47 could to made to work out in the field, and they require little maintenance.

      So I think that what B.B. did was in-line with the spirit of what an AR-15 is all about. Doing the same with an AK-47 isn’t consistent with its purpose, although it could be an interesting project.

      One last thing, Smith & Wesson has a target grade model M&P AR-15 that cost a lot more than other models of that product line. Because I’m not so “gunsmith” inclined, that’s what I would get, as opposed to building my own.


      • Most of the early reliability problems with the M-16 can be traced to bad ammo. The army use a ball powder with the wrong burn rate that was very dirty burning to boot. The fixes were the forward assist, chrome bore, and lots and lots of cleaning. Of course, issuing proper cleaning equipment helped a lot too! With the right ammo, even an early M-16 will run and run.


        • Mike,

          Correct. I know almost nothing about these types of rifles, other than what I’ve seen on the History and Military Channel. However, AK-47’s are so easy to maintain, that it is said that you can clean it with almost anything, including just your finger. That’s all I’m trying to say. AK-47’s, like Ruger 10/22’S, have extreme reliability built in by design. I like my Target Model 10/22 because it allows me to extend distance, and is reasonably accurate out to 100 yards. They are just really fun guns!


  12. I have a Colt SP-1 AR-15, the original. Back in the 80’s, I shot it in our local NRA High Power Matches. I made up a brass deflector that would mount on the carrying handle. It was made from a piece of aluminum bent to form a “L”. Riveted to one leg of the “L” was a piece of medium weight leather. The other leg of the “L” had a hole drilled in it for a bolt that went through the hole in the carrying handle to secure it to the rifle. The brass would hit the leather and drop straight down. Since the leather would give, the brass wouldn’t bounce back into the ejection port. It worked great, I still have it. As you see, I like the “Red Neck” fixes!


    • Mike,

      One guy at my range just drapes a shop towel over his receiver. The ejected case has enough energy to move the towel, but then it falls on the bench if he’s got the number of folds figured out right. It’s a real Bubba approach that I have tucked into the back of my mind for the day I forget to bring the catcher.


  13. Yes, J-F, the orangutans are endangered. So is everything else out there including all of my favorite animals–tigers, elephants… At least the orangutans can do well in captivity with their intelligence, but the other animals need space. The whole thing makes me sick. I should probably take a break from YouTube.

    But there are limits to orangutan intelligence. There was a video of a contest between a human gymnast and an orangutan to see who could hang from a bar longer. Around three minutes, the human was grimacing and trying to give his hands a rest alternately. The orangutan peacefully relieved himself. But then at 5 minutes, he casually brushed the bar with his foot. Instant disqualification! At 6 minutes, the human dropped off the bar with a yell. With the clock at around 15 minutes, they were interviewing the winner while the orangutan was still happily swinging on the bar in the background.


  14. Although I qualified with the M16, I never liked or even trusted it. I remember wishing that Ruger’s design had won the contract instead. The last rifle I liked was the M14. And of course the 106 recoilless, with which I hit everything I aimed at, even though every time it fired, the concussion made my back and chest try to meet in the middle of my insides, and fires burned fitfully for minutes all over the tarmac. (clearly we need an airsoft 106 so I can practice with the cheaper plastic pellets).

  15. I have to admit that the vision of BB showing up at a range, getting out an AR-15 equipped with a massive scope and then preceding to feed single rounds in by hand and shoot them rested for maximum accuracy is pretty amusing! I live the contrast between that and the stereotype black-rifle-guy with “tactical” accessories clamped all over the gun and a magazine big enough to get through the Battle Of The Somme without reloading.

    For the first time in years I actually went to a range (I’ve been shooting airguns at home exclusively since I started shooting again a few years back) with a friend to do some .22 pistol shooting. I had completely forgotten about the noise (even with the ear protectors) and the air pressure wave that hits you when someone lets off with a .45ACP in the next stall! Shooting the FWB-602 or the Weihrauch seems bucolically peaceful and soothing in comparison.

    I only got hit by hot brass once and it was from the pistol I was firing. To my mind, that’s just yet another thing to like about revolvers and single-shots!

  16. Nice shooting, B.B! Very interesting article. When I read about your brass catcher, I was reminded that when I was a young Lt in Vietnam, I had an interesting experience with that brass. I was a Forward Air Controller, flying a Cessna O1 in 1969.
    I found a camouflaged hootch down in the trees and decided to do what I had read about in stories. I would shoot my Car15 out the window, and into the hooch. (It seemed like a good idea at the time).
    Being very careful not to shoot the wing strut, I fired a few shots semi automatic. I didn’t realize where the brass would go. Who knew? (Remember, I was a 22 yr old Second Lt).
    The brass flew out with great force into the windshield, and one of the fired cartridges went down the collar of my flight suit. HOT!!! I almost dropped the gun out the window. It raised an enormous blister.

    On another note, how about an update on a CZ 641 accuracy. I got a new one, and it seems very accurate, although not the exist thing to shoot well I have ever used. Really like the rifle, it is very accurate for the money.

    Love the blog, thank you for all the info.

  17. Hello Tom I am curious if the rate of twist on your AR15 is 1 in 7″ or 1 in 9″, I own a SIG 556 and it is excellent with most bullets but prefers 5.56 62 grain bullets and has a 1 in 7″ twist rate, 200-300 meter hits are not a issue. However when I fired M16A2 the recoil is more controlled because of Direct Gas Impingement operation. My main criticism for M16/AR15 is that it fouls itself quickly when gas enters the receiver and carbon cakes on after 60-100 rounds! all firearms and air guns have advantages and dis advantages which is interesting! Enjoy your AR!

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