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Adam Borisenko

Swampfox Liberator II: Second Generation Improvements

Up-and-coming American optics manufacturer Swampfox recently introduced their second-generation Liberator red-dot: the Liberator II. For rifles, pistols or shotguns, the Liberator II is an affordable way to bring your gun to the next level.

Liberator II Overview:

  • Improved Raw Battery Life
  • New Shake N’ Wake Sleep Feature
  • Crisper Dot
  • Two Included Mounts
  • Shock Proof
  • Waterproof

Swampfox is a relatively new American optics company that focuses on providing quality sighting solutions at an affordable price. As their red dot-sights grow in popularity, they continued to refine their designs to bring improvements over the original models. This started with their pistol optics when they introduced second-generation versions. Now, their Liberator sight is getting the same treatment.

Liberator II on low profile mount.
Liberator II on low profile mount.

Bigger Battery

The Liberator II boasts a much longer battery life than the original Liberator. Swampfox accomplished this by not only raising the raw battery life from 3,000 to 10,000 hours, but by implementing their new Shake N’ Wake technology. While the first Liberator had an auto-off feature that activated after 4 hours, a press of the button was required to wake it up again. The Liberator II now goes to sleep after only four minutes of inactivity, and automatically turns on again after sensing motion. When it eventually comes time to replace the Liberator II’s battery, the convenient placement of the battery compartment on the side of the optic means it can be done while still mounted to the gun. In turn, you don’t lose your zero.

Better Emitter

Swampfox managed to kill two birds with one stone when they improved the Liberator’s emitter. Not only does its higher efficiency raise the optic’s battery life by a factor of three, but also produces a cleaner, crisper red dot for accurate shots up to 200 yards. The 2 MOA dot has ten levels of brightness adjustment, controlled by buttons on the side of the optic. There are eight brightness settings for daylight levels, and two for use with night vision.

With the improved emitter, there are also fewer options for the optic. The Liberator I was available with either a green or a red circle dot reticle. The Liberator II is only available in red, and the reticle is now only a dot rather than a circle dot. This is presumably due to limitations with the new emitter, so it is not known if Swampfox will eventually release a green dot version of the Liberator II.

Liberator II Reticle, only available in red.
Liberator II Reticle, only available in red.

Mounting Options

The Liberator II, like the original, comes with two mounts right out of the box. One high, and one low. Attached using Picatinny rail, the high mount is ideal for AR-15s that need the extra height to achieve co-witness with the iron sights. The low mount brings the red dot much closer to the bore height, making it perfect for pistols, shotguns, or rifles with a dropped stock. With these mounting options, the Liberator II is a perfect fit for home-defense, hunting, or competition setups.

Liberator II on High Mount
Liberator II on high mount.

Beat It Up And Get It Wet

Because Swampfox designed the Liberator with such a variety of applications in mind, it certainly needed to handle a variety of abuses as well. It’s one thing to design an optic that can withstand the shock imparted by 5.56 recoil, but .308 and 12 gauge are entirely different animals. Swampfox not only guarantees that the Liberator II can handle the increased forces from higher caliber shooting, but they guarantee it for 50,000 rounds.

It is also fully waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes in addition to being fog and scratch-resistant. While these claims are impressive, a true torture test would help to reveal their veracity. I’m curious if the Liberator II can live up to its waterproof rating after suffering from thousands of rounds fired and sustained abuse in the field. I used to have a waterproof watch and found out the hard way that banging it around for a few months made it considerably less waterproof.

With the Liberator II’s MSRP set at $189.99, Swampfox continues to provide quality optics options for shooters on a budget.

For more information on Swampfox Optics, please visit swampfoxoptics.com.


Zero In On Aiming Solutions:

  • Best Concealed Carry Optics: Red Dot, Green Dot Or Iron Sights?
  • 7 Out-Of-Sight Optics For Every Range And Budget
  • Red Dot Optics And MOA
  • Gear: Lighting It Up With A Laser Sight

Zastava ZPAP: Zero Compromises

Zastava has undoubtedly dominated the American AK market this past year, but is that because of their superior quality? Or was it simply because their ZPAP rifles were the most consistently available?

ZPAP Quick Facts:

  • 7.62x39mm Semi-Automatic AK Style Rifle
  • Based On Yugoslavian M70
  • Made In Serbia By Zastava
  • Yugo Pattern Furniture
  • Yugo Pattern Scope Rail
  • Blued Metal Finish
  • Chrome Lined Barrel
  • Available With Wood Or Synthetic Furniture

The ZPAP M70

The Yugoslavian pattern AK, or M70, has gone through a series of developments both as a military service rifle and civilian sporting rifle to become what it is today. Our previous article on Zastava explains these improvements more in-depth if you want to dig deeper. But the pertinent information is that the current generation of Zastava AKs, the ZPAP, are the best the company has produced.

Zastava ZPAP with dark walnut furniture.
Zastava ZPAP with dark walnut furniture.

Made with a bulged RPK-style front trunnion, a 1.5mm thick stamped steel receiver, and a chrome-lined barrel, the ZPAP eliminates any past issues of the PAP rifles. With the availability of new production imported AKs reduced to Cugir, WBP Fox, and Zastava, the Serbian arms plant seems to have found a good balance of price and features for the American consumer. Zastava’s AKs have a nicer fit and finish than their Cugir counterparts and are cheaper and more abundant than the Polish Fox rifles to boot. For those looking for an AK that’s as pretty as it is functional, ZPAPs are an excellent choice.

ZPAP Customization

Something worth keeping in mind is the fact that the ZPAP's only compatible furniture component with AKM pattern guns is the pistol grip. While some people may have no problem leaving the rifle in a stock configuration or customizing it with surplus Yugoslavian accessories, those who wish to customize their gun beyond that may experience some difficulty doing so.

As a result of the ZPAP's growing popularity, the aftermarket options have also been expanded. Despite this, AK parts for Yugo pattern guns simply aren’t as common or available as those for AKM pattern ones. A WASR or WBP Fox can accept a far wider variety of furniture—both surplus and aftermarket—than the ZPAPs. If you intend to trick out your AK into a tactical abomination of rails and gadgets, an AKM pattern gun will give you a much easier time.

Considering that the wood furniture model is made from appealing and durable dark walnut, and the polymer version is reportedly very ergonomic and comfortable, it's possible that the ZPAP can fill all your needs right out of the box.

The polymer model’s furniture includes several modern features that may make upgrades unnecessary. The handguard and stock should be very durable considering they are constructed using materials like rubber-coated fiberglass, carbon fiber, and glass-reinforced polymer. Other polymer furniture sets like Magpul’s Zhukov line have been reported to not always survive being mortared on the ground, especially in cold temperatures. While I have not tested the new polymer Zastava furniture, it seems better constructed than most other options on the market, especially for a Yugo pattern gun.

Additionally, the polymer ZPAP’s handguard has three optional segments of Picatinny rail that can be attached for mounting accessories. The stock is adjustable for both length of pull and for the height of the cheek riser. The stock also has four QD sling swivel inserts built into it and comes with a removable recoil mitigating butt pad.

ZPAP polymer handguard with removable picatinny rails.
ZPAP polymer handguard with removable Picatinny rails.

Mounting Glass

Another proprietary feature of the ZPAP is its Yugoslavian pattern scope rail mounted on the left side of the receiver. Like the furniture options, optics and mounts with a Yugo-style rail are less common than their Russian equivalent. While Russian and Belarussian-made military optics can still be purchased for AKs with a standard-spec rail, compatible Yugoslavian optics like the M76 ZRAK scope are rare and expensive. If you want a more functional optic, however, companies like RS Regulate make Yugo-pattern mounts with a Picatinny rail that facilitate the mounting of more modern options.

ZPAP polymer stock stock and Yugo style scope rail.
ZPAP polymer stock and Yugo style scope rail.

The Zastava ZPAP may have some eccentricities due to its Yugoslavian origin, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a Kalashnikov. If the non-standard furniture and scope rail don’t bother you, ZPAPs are currently one of the nicest new AKs money can buy. Currently priced in between Cugir WASRs and WBP Foxes, ZPAPs have seen quite a lot of recent success in America. They’re undeniably high-quality rifles, but if the price of WASRs continues to drop to more normal levels, ZPAPs may see a dip in sales unless they follow suit. Until then, ZPAPs continue to be a great option for AK buyers.

For more information on Zastava Arms, please visit zastavaarmsusa.com.


More On AKs

GX4: Taurus Enters The Double-Stack Micro 9mm Game

Taurus’s new GX4 is the latest pistol in a recent trend of micro-compact double-stack 9mm pistols intended for concealed carry. 

GX4 Features:

  • Its internal steel frame gives the polymer pistol more rigidity, improving its accuracy potential.
  • Controls are contoured and recessed helping ensure a smooth draw.
  • The trigger is a big improvement over previous Tauruses, much snappier and smoother.

The 9mm has become the de facto cartridge for concealed carry pistols. Anything smaller has been deemed too anemic for proper self-defense, and anything larger is difficult to make concealable. Modern manufacturing improvements have allowed companies to finally start making auto-pistols as small as a .380 but with the same stopping power as a typical full-sized duty gun. Magazine capacity has also seen major improvements with the development of double-stack mags only slightly larger than single-stacks of previous generation CCW guns.

Taurus is tackling this market with the new GX4. The gun ships with two flush-fitting 11-round magazines. Taurus also makes extended 13-rounders as well as an 11-rounder with a pinky extension floor plate, both provide the shooter with a more solid grip on the pistol. In both cases, it puts the pistol in the running against other popular options in this class of handgun, with Taurus offering a price advantage.

Taurus GX4
Taurus GX4

Glockish

Like many modern handguns, the Taurus GX4’s design takes inspiration from the Glock. It is striker-fired and utilizes a familiar trigger safety. It has no external controls besides a slide stop lever and magazine release button. Like a Glock it has a polymer frame, but it also has an internal steel frame to minimize flexing and provide better engagement with the slide.

Thought was put into the design to tailor the GX4 towards concealed carry. The controls and profile of the gun have been contoured and recessed to ensure a snag-free draw from a waistband. At the same time, aggressive stippling and texturing has been added to the grip, which features swappable backstraps. The stippling provides the shooter with more control over the small GX4, which has snappy recoil like all micro 9mm pistols do.

The trigger is another major area of improvement over older Taurus triggers, which were typically mushy with a very long take-up. The new trigger is reportedly much nicer with a clean break and short reset. Serrations on its flat face also help the shooter maintain control and proper grip angle while firing.

GX4 trigger
GX4 Trigger

The market can only handle so many pistols of this style. As more companies release their own versions of the micro-compact double-stack 9mm carry gun we will eventually see which survive into the future and which will fall into obscurity. As it stands Sig and Springfield are winning this fight, but companies like Ruger and now Taurus are challenging their position with similarly styled, more affordable options.

The Taurus GX4 has a 3.06 inch barrel and weighs 18.5 ounces unloaded. The MSRP is $392.42.

For more information on the Taurus GX4, please visit taurususa.com.


More Taurus Handguns

The Cugir WASR-10: Function Over Form

WASR rifles are workhorses and a longstanding fixture of the American AK market. Built tough enough to take a beating and ask for seconds, these Romanian AKMs are still highly sought after despite the availability of shinier, prettier Kalashnikovs.

What Sets The Romanian WASR Apart From Other AKs?

  • Built With Original Soviet Manufacturing Methods
  • 80,000-100,000 Round Lifespan On Full-Auto
  • Chrome-Lined Barrel
  • Standard AKM Pattern Design
  • Several Available Variants

Romanian-made AKs have been coming into the U.S. from the state-owned arms factory Cugir since the 1990s. While the cost of AKs has exploded this past year, for most of the WASR's importation history the rifle has been one of the most affordable and quality AKs you could buy. Comparatively, WASRs are still typically cheaper than Zastavas or WBP Foxes.

While Cugir’s pistol version of the WASR, the Draco, has been very difficult to find for some time, there seems to be a steady stream of WASRs. 

Cugir WASR-10
Cugir WASR-10

Made To Be A Worker, Not A Looker

WASRs are excellent rifles, but they’re not for everybody. Depending on what you want out of your AK, a Cugir gun may or may not fit.

These are military rifles, and they feel like it. Rugged and solid in construction, WASRs long for use. The bluing found on Zastavas will look much nicer for your social media posts. But the Parkerization on WASRs will stand up to your abuse.

While Zastavas and WBP Foxes come with handsome wood, the furniture on a WASRs was meant for replacement. Whether your version includes blonde balsa or cheap black plastic, they are as fragile as they are ugly. Upgrading the furniture is priority No. 1 on any new WASR, but there is plenty of military surplus wood or quality aftermarket parts to address this shortcoming.

Finding furniture for a WASR is much easier than for a Zastava, due to the fact that it is a standard AKM pattern. This means that furniture designed to fit the original stamped Russian AKM design should fit the rifle, regardless of country of origin. My WASR has a mix of Romanian and Russian wood installed on it. As for installation, swapping furniture is a breeze for any skill level.

Other features of the WASR that are desirable are its scope rail and threaded muzzle. Mounted on the side of the receiver, the scope rail is the standard Russian style that has a plethora of optic mounting options both original and aftermarket. There are original Russian PSO magnified scopes and BelOMO Belarussian red dots as well as aftermarket mounts that provide Picatinny rails atop the receiver.

The muzzle is also threaded for the AK-standard 14×1 LH pitch. This allows for the largest compatibility of 7.62 muzzle devices. Whether that is the included regular slant-brake, something fancier, or even a Wolverine PBS-1 suppressor, it can be mounted to your WASR with ease.

In fact, essentially every element of the WASR is built to standard AKM spec, outside one small detail. Standard AKMs have a distinctive dimple on the side of the receiver above the magazine well, and even older WASR variants like the SAR-1 featured it. Newer WASRs lack this dimple, but there is a good reason for it. As explained in a previous article on Cugir and the Draco, due to importation laws AKs are brought into the United States with single-stack magazine wells. They are opened up stateside by the importer, in this case, Century Arms. According to AK YouTuber Rob Ski, who has spoken to workers at the Cugir plant, leaving the dimples off simply makes it easier for the Century employees to file off the necessary metal within the magwell. Cugir compensates for this by welding a reinforcement bar inside the receiver, so strength is not compromised. Considering this portion of the importation process had some past quality control issues, if this change makes it easier for Century to restore the rifles to their proper configuration, it seems worth it.

WASR-10 with Belarussian optic
WASR-10 with Belarussian optic. Notice the missing receiver dimple. Photo: Wikipedia

Built Cugir-Tough

Besides the select-fire feature, WASRs are essentially indistinguishable from their military counterparts. In fact, semi-auto WASRs have actually seen military service, under the United States of America no less. In the early 2000s the U.S. Army needed 7.62×39 AKs to supplement certain forces in the Middle East and Africa, so they procured a number of WASRs. Used by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of these rifles were even sold as surplus stateside a few years back.

The popular rental-gun range Battlefield Las Vegas has some of the best data on AK lifespans in the world simply due to how many people visit them each year. Their WASRs, which they have converted to full-auto, have had more rounds put through them than possibly any other WASRs on Earth. Battlefield Las Vegas claims, they have never shot out a WASR’s chrome-lined barrel, and the rifles they have killed were due to cracked trunnions. This is typical for stamped AKMs after 80,000-100,00 rounds. Even after reaching the failure point, all it takes is a front trunnion and barrel swap to put a WASR back into commission. With this kind of longevity, it's safe to say that most WASRs will outlast their owners.

Ugandan Security Forces in Iraq holding WASR AKs, standing with US contractor
Ugandan Security Forces in Iraq holding WASR AKs, standing with an American. Photo: Atlantic Firearms

Variants

There are a few WASR variants currently imported by Century. We already discussed the standard AKM-pattern model that comes with either wood or plastic furniture. This is the most common variant, called the WASR-10. Here is a brief overview of three other variants:

WASR-10 UF: The under-folder model, the rifle is exactly the same as a standard WASR besides the rear trunnion and stock. AKs require a special rear trunnion to accommodate an under-folder stock, making it much easier to buy one built at a factory rather than converting a fixed-stock trunnion model yourself. These are less common but make for a good choice if you value compactness. Keep in mind the lack of a cheek rest on the under-folder stock makes it uncomfortable to shoot.

WASR-10 Underfolder
WASR-10 Underfolder.

RH10: These are one of the more common variants, and again are the same as WASRs in every detail besides one: the gas block. The RH10 features a combination front sight block and gas tube, unlike standard WASRs where they are separate. The difference is mostly aesthetic and does not affect the rifle’s function, but the combo gas block makes it far easier to chop the barrel and convert it to an SBR if you so desire.

RH10
Cugir RH10. Photo: Primary Arms

WASR Paratrooper: The paratrooper model has a combination front sight and gas block similar to the RH10, but it is one inch shorter. This is because the paratrooper model is actually based on the Romanian PM md.90 short rifle, or Draco configuration. These are imported with a barrel over 16” purely for legal reasons. The paratrooper model also has a standard rear trunnion but comes with a Romanian push-button wire folder stock instead of the normal fixed-stock. These models are not as common as the RH10 but are even better for converting to an SBR due to the shorter gas block and included folding stock.

WASR-10 Paratrooper
WASR-10 Paratrooper. Photo:Primary Arms

WASR 2s and WASR 3s

Quite a few years ago, Romanian AKs were available in three calibers: 7.62×39, 5.45×39, and 5.56×45. These were known as the SAR or WASR 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Cugir still has the manufacturing capabilities to produce these calibers, as they still build them for military contracts across the globe, as well as for their own armed forces. While AKs chambered in the other two calibers will never be as popular as the original 7.62 version in America, 5.45 has been gaining a following here as of late and 5.56 is more common for American shooters to have already stockpiled. Why have they not been imported for so long? Zastava and WBP Fox have no history producing 5.45 guns, so Cugir remains our last hope for newly produced, foreign-made AK-74 style rifles. Hopefully, Century will eventually place another order for WASR 2s to provide more competition within the American 74 market which is currently dominated by the sub-par rifles of Palmetto State Armory.

Romanian AKs of any variant or caliber are excellent, military-grade Kalashnikovs. For those seeking a real workhorse AK that will make it through the apocalypse, you can’t go wrong with a WASR.

For more information on WASRs, please visit centuryarms.com.


More Kalashnikov Goodness

ZEV OZ-9C X Combat: Competition And Combat Ready

Zev’s new OZ-9C Combat X pistol takes their already popular custom Glock-style design and streamlines it for duty use.

Enhanced Features Not Found On Standard Glocks:

  • Steel Receiver
  • Extended Slide Rails
  • PRO Match Barrel
  • PRO Curved Face Trigger
  • Slide Cut For An Optic

Zev Technologies got their start making aftermarket Glock triggers designed with competition use in mind. Today they are still famous for their triggers, but they do a whole lot more. Not only have they expanded beyond Glocks into making custom, high-quality replacement parts for Sig pistols and AR-15s, they also build their own guns from the ground up.

The newest of Zev's homegrown pistols is called the OZ-9C Combat X. Chambered in 9mm and inspired by the Glock platform, Zev has taken what they learned from past iterations of their custom Glocks and further tailored them towards duty use.

Zev OZ-9C Combat X. Profile
Zev OZ-9C Combat X. Profile

Steel Beats Plastic

Standard Glocks are built on polymer frames that are susceptible to flexing under stress. For those who wish to squeeze every last bit of accuracy out of their pistol, a polymer frame simply won’t do. Zev has eradicated this issue by designing the OZ-9C Combat X around their patented steel receiver, something the company considers the heart of the gun. Machined from a solid block of stainless steel, the receiver tightly mates the slide to the grip and brings several improvements over standard Glock designs.

The steel receiver extends the entire length of the gun and includes longer slide rails to provide increased contact, thus stability. The result, a gun that is more accurate and has less recoil than its polymer counterparts. These improvements ensure that the shooter not only has a more accurate first shot, but more accurate and quicker follow up shots as well. The steel also improves durability, and the extra weight helps to give the gun a balanced feel. These are all very welcome improvements in a gun designed for combat.

Get A Grip

As can be deduced from the gun’s name, the Zev OZ-9C Combat X is essentially a combination of two prior Zev designs, the OZ-9C compact Citadel slide and the X grip. With the combination of these features, Zev has created a gun with a compact slide on a full-sized duty grip. For a duty gun, this is the best of both worlds. These features allow the shooter to maintain maximum control over the handgun with a comfortable grip while still benefiting from the shorter and lighter slide. Recoil management and manipulation of the controls are aided by the large size of the X grip on a package that’s still handier than a typical duty gun.

OZ-9C Combat X's Competition Features

Improved accuracy is certainly something that competition shooters appreciate, but at the end of the day, all that’s at stake is their scorecard. In a life-or-death situation where you may only have the first shot to solve your problem, you better make it count. The Zev OZ-9C Combat X gives every advantage possible to its user concerning accuracy.

Besides the steel receiver improving lockup and mitigating recoil, Zev’s new combat pistol also includes a PRO match grade barrel and a PRO curved-face trigger. Both built in-house, these additions assist the mechanical and practical accuracy of the gun.

The OZ-9C Combat X is also available with a pre-installed Trijicon RM06 red dot sight. While I’m a big proponent of mastering iron-sights, a gun packed with as many upgrades as the OZ-9C Combat X would feel wrong without an optic in 2021.

Zev OZ-9C Combat X With Trijicon RM06
Zev OZ-9C Combat X With Trijicon RM06

Each Zev pistol is custom built to order, so if you plan on buying one keep in mind that it will be at least 14 days before you see it. The base model OZ-9C Combat X has an MSRP of $1,368 and goes up to $1,819 for the package with a Trijicon site. A hefty sum when compared to the Glocks from which it was developed. Do the upgrades warrant the price tag? Will the Gucci-tier custom Glocks that Zev makes catch on within law enforcement? Or will Zev maintain its position as a premier manufacturer of competition-style handguns? Time will tell, but it's certain that no matter how nice Zev’s guns are they will not be taking the place of Glock for the average, casual shooter.

For more information on Zev Technologies, please visit zevtechnologies.com.


More Fancy Duty Guns:

Zastava Arms: Quality And Quantity

The famous Serbian arms plant Zastava continues to keep the U.S. market supplied with AKs that are well-built, fairly priced, and relatively easy to find.

Who Is Zastava Arms?

  • Storied Serbian weapons factory founded in 1853.
  • Produced arms used prominently in wars past and present.
  • Supplier of civilian and military markets.
  • Good reputation for well-built AKs.
  • Currently import AKs, bolt action rifles, and pistols.

We’re all aware of the current state of the U.S. firearm market. The run on guns and ammo this past year has left many scrambling to fill holes in their collection they feared may never get filled. This was especially true for AR and AK-style firearms, due to the uncertainty of their futures. Overnight, an executive order could ban the popular semi-automatics or simply cut off firearms imports. Either of which would deal a death blow to the availability of quality Kalashnikovs. These threats help explain why so many people were willing to pay significantly more for an imported AK than they were during previous years. For several months during the scare, if you were trying to buy a foreign-produced AK, you were lucky to even find a new one in stock.

Zastava ZPAP M70 Rifle, wood
Zastava ZPAP M70 Rifle, wooden furniture.

When it comes to quality AKs currently being imported, your options are essentially Cugir from Romania, Zastava from Serbia, or WBP Fox from Poland. Russian and Chinese guns are off the table due to sanctions. Bulgarian Arsenals are either no longer imported or are imported in scant quantities. AKs from smaller producers—Hungary, Egypt, Finland—are no longer options either.

Between Cugir, Zastava, and WBP Fox, which is the highest-quality AK is debatable. When it comes to quantity, there is no doubt—Zastava wins the numbers race stateside. The Serbian guns so saturate the market that if you bought a foreign-made AK this past year, odds are it's a Zastava.

The Long Zastava History

Zastava Arms got their start in the mid-19th century, at first producing cannons. From there, the company expanded to small-arms manufacturing and produced guns used in both world wars. In all, the company operated continuously for more than 150 years. Though, a good portion of those was as a part of Yugoslavia. The history of Yugoslavia is a complex one and not the focus of this article, however, some of the details surrounding it are important to know due to the weapons Zastava made during this era.

Of all the Communist nations to exist, Yugoslavia was unique. They were not a part of the Soviet Union, nor were they members of the Warsaw Pact. The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia towed a fine line for most of its existence, resisting influence from both Moscow and Washington D.C. The country's member states existed in peace until the death of Prime Minister Josip Tito in 1980. The resulting hardships would escalate into the Yugoslav Wars of the early 1990s and the eventual dissolution of Yugoslavia in that decade. An event that once again left the Zastava Arms factory within Serbian control.

The uniqueness of Yugoslavia is reflected in the very arms they produced. The Kalashnikovs they designed were as different from Russia’s as their own version of socialism was.

The M70, Better Late Than Never

While they successfully produced and tested domestically made AKs before this date, Yugoslavia did not adopt a Kalashnikov as their standard infantry weapon until 1970 with the Zastava AP M70 series of rifles. As the development of the M70 series continued, small changes and improvements were made incrementally culminating in the AP M70B2. Seeing the largest production numbers by far, these are the Zastava rifles known the world over.

Zastava M70AB2 Underfolder
Zastava M70AB2 Underfolder. Photo:Wikipedia

There are two variants of these prolific select-fire rifles: AP M70B2 fixed stock model and AP M70AB2 folding stock model. Compared to previous iterations of Yugo AKs, this series’ receivers were stamped from thicker-gauge steel and featured a bulged front trunnion to improve durability.

All M70 rifles were outfitted with grenade-launching capabilities as well, accomplished with a special muzzle device to accommodate a rifle grenade and a gas-cutoff lever that doubles as a grenade sight. Integral to the launching of rifle grenades due to their weight, the gas cutoff lever closes the gas port and ensures 100-percent of the blank cartridge's gasses exit the muzzle. Following Newton’s third law, the extra force necessary to launch a rifle grenade imparts just as much energy back into the rifle. Thus the thicker receiver and bulged trunnion of the M70B2, a design point making the rifle more resistant to excess recoil.

Zastava M70AB2 with gas cutoff lever/grenade sight raised.
Zastava M70AB2 with gas cutoff lever/grenade sight raised. Photo: Wikipedia

Proprietary Wood

One of the most distinctive features of any Yugo-pattern AK is the non-standard furniture. Instantly recognizable, Yugoslavian AKs feature longer handguards with three vent holes as opposed to the standard two. The pistol grip is made of black plastic and is differently shaped than bakelite or wooden grips that most countries produced. The fixed-stock model’s wooden buttstock also has a different profile and length of pull. Due to the way each piece of furniture is installed, pistol grips of any origin can be attached to an M70, but handguards and buttstocks must be specifically intended for Yugo-pattern rifles.

Globetrotter

While AKs of all makes and models are found scattered across the world, Yugoslavian AKs are especially well-traveled. Zastava exports to over 40 different nations and M70 rifles can be seen in the hands of both government forces and their opposition across the Middle East and Africa. The M70’s prominence during the lawless years of the Yugoslav Wars also resulted in plenty circulating on the black market, as well.

Ramadi Police with M70AB2 in 2008
Ramadi Police with M70AB2 in 2008. Photo: Wikipedia

More Than The M70

Zastava produces more than AK-pattern M70 rifles, including several popular pistols and rifles here in the United States, including:

  • Zastava M48: A clone of the German Karabiner 98k bolt action, this rifle is one of the more abundant and affordable Mauser-style rifles you can find in the U.S. Produced after WWII, this was Yugoslavia’s service rifle until the adoption of the M59.
  • Zastava M59/66: A Yugoslavian produced SKS clone. It’s one of the more common SKS varieties to be found in America and can usually be recognized by its distinctive rifle grenade muzzle device.
  • Zastava M76: Yugoslavia’s designated marksman rifle. Chambered in 8mm Mauser like their M48, this technically is also an AK-pattern weapon, just larger and outfitted with a scope. Some have been imported into the U.S., but they are not very common.
  • Zastava M91: This DMR replaced the M76 in Yugoslavian service. Now chambered in 7.62x54r and more aesthetically similar to the SVD it takes inspiration from. Despite the visual similarities to the SVD, the M91 still uses a scaled-up AK action like the M76 and shares nothing in common internally with a Dragunov. This rifle is still currently being imported.
  • Zastava M57: A Tokarev pistol clone that is yet again distinctly Yugoslavian compared to other TT variants. These are abundant in the United States, both old surplus imports as well as newly produced versions. They are available in both the original 7.62x25mm chambering as well as 9mm.
  • Zastava ZPAP92: Based on their M92 carbine, this is Zastava’s 7.62x39mm semi-auto pistol AK. These are also currently imported.
  • Zastava M90 and ZPAP85: The 5.56x45mm versions of the Z-PAP rifle and ZPAP92 pistol, respectively. The ZPAP85 is currently imported, and the M90 for the U.S. civilian market will be imported in the future.
Zastava ZPAP85 Pistol
Zastava ZPAP85 Pistol.

Import History

Over the years Zastava guns have been brought in by several different importers, but with the creation of Zastava Arms USA in 2019, they became the sole importer of Zastava products out of Serbia. Now Zastava has a direct line of communications with their sizeable American market and can better listen to what consumers want. Perhaps this is the reason why Zastava AKs have been easier to find in stock this past year compared to their competition. Neither Cugir nor WBP Fox has the means to listen and respond to their customer base as well Zastava now can with their American branch.

The semi-auto imports of M70 rifles are known in the United States as the PAP series. When it comes to early Zastava imports there are PAPs, N-PAPs, and O-PAPs. The current M70 imports are called Z-PAPs. If you are in the market for a Yugoslavian-pattern AK, the Z-PAP is the way to go unless you want an underfolder model. Some of the variants imported before the Z-PAP had issues that the Z-PAP seems to have corrected, so do your homework before buying an older PAP model. The currently-imported Z-PAPs seem to be the highest quality semi-auto AKs Zastava have ever sent to the U.S., so as long as the fixed-stock variant is alright with you, this is the model to get (not to mention that newer ones are far easier to find as well).

Another example of how Zastava USA can respond to their customers’ wishes is that the Z-PAP now features a chrome-lined barrel. Yugoslavian AKs infamously did not have chrome-lined barrels as most other variants did, and while this is not necessarily a problem unless you are firing corrosive ammo, Americans wanted a chromed barrel so Zastava delivered. This is another advantage of the Z-PAP over older PAP models.

Current Zastava Imports

Zastava USA has more than AK variants for sale, they also have Zastava-made handguns and bolt-action rifles. Their AKs that are currently available include three 7.62×39 versions- a rifle with wooden furniture, a rifle with polymer furniture, and a pistol. They also have the 5.56 ZPAP85 pistol and the 7.62x54r M91 rifle. They offer three kinds of bolt action rifles and have a few varieties each of their Tokarev and CZ99 handguns.

Zastava ZPAP M70 Rifle, synthetic
Zastava ZPAP M70 Rifle, synthetic furniture.

Zastava-made AKs not only continue to be a good choice, but they may be the best they’ve ever been. Zastava Arms of Serbia and their newly formed Zastava USA branch seem to be going after the American AK market hard in terms of both the quality and quantity of their rifles. Their Z-PAPs are arguably the nicest new AKs on the market right now and are more abundant than WASRs or Foxes. For those looking to grab a foreign-made AK before it's too late, Zastava is definitely a name to consider.

For more information on Zastava Arms, please visit zastavaarmsusa.com.


Da Comrade, We Have More AK Info:

Going Big: Springfield Hellcat 15-Round Magazines

Springfield's new 15-round Hellcat magazines bring even more firepower to a small package.

How Do The Hellcat 15-Round Mags Improve The Pistol?

  • Enhances firepower over the original 13-round magazines.
  • Only marginally larger in sized that the smaller-capacity mags.
  • Features texturing to enhance grip of the micro-9mm.

Clint Smith, famous firearms instructor, once said this about concealed carry pistols: “For carrying them, none of them are too small. For fighting with them, none of them are too big.”

This is a concise way to summarize the dilemma of creating the ideal concealed carry handgun. In a word: compromises. The gun’s design must balance concealability with usability, weight with durability, size with capacity. Everything is a tradeoff. The most popular carry guns released in recent years are getting closer to finding that happy medium.

Springfield Hellcat OSP With 15 Round Mag
Springfield Hellcat OSP With 15 Round Mag.

Springfield believes they have achieved this balance in their Hellcat pistol, especially when paired with their new 15-round magazines. Springfield asserts the Hellcat is the “smallest, highest-capacity micro-compact 9mm handgun in the world,” a claim the company made when only the original 13-round magazines were available.

The new magazines are only slightly larger than the 13-rounders. As with all things in gun design, this is still trading some concealability for capacity, but the negligible difference in size helps to compensate for the almost 15% increase in ammo capacity. For maximum concealability, the Hellcat can still be carried in the holster with a flush-fitting 11-round mag. If you also carry spare magazines, however, there is really no reason to stick a 13-rounder into your pocket when the 15-round magazine is so similar in size.

The first widely adopted pistol to use double-stack magazines was the Browning Hi-Power, a large-framed service pistol that also had a 13-round capacity. This was considered a technological marvel when it was first invented, but modern pistols like the Springfield Hellcat show how many bullets can fit into a small package. Both 9mm handguns, the Hellcat is significantly smaller and more concealable than the Hi-Power. Yet it can now be carried with larger magazines than what were originally fielded with the full-sized duty gun.

Springfield Hellcat 15-Round Mag, Black.
Springfield Hellcat 15-Round Mag, Black.

Available in both black and desert FDE colors, just like the Springfield Hellcat itself, the new 15-round magazines have an MSRP of $39.95.

On a side note, Sig Sauer recently alleged that Springfield's Hellcat magazines infringe on a patent held by Sig, but Springfield refutes these claims. Sig's P365 and Springfield's Hellcat have been competing over which gun is the best compact, high-capacity 9mm for concealed carry, and it's been a tight race. Both are fine pistols, but it will be interesting to see how Sig's claims play out in court.

For more from Springfield Armory, please visit Springfield-Armory.com.


Load Up On More 9mm Knowledge:

Bond Arms’ PT2A Handgun: The 2nd Amendment Right In Your Pocket

Some people memorize the 2nd Amendment, others carry a pocket constitution. Why do that when you could have it engraved right on your gun? The Bond Arms PT2A is a little pistol with a lot of style.

Bond Arms PT2A
Bond Arms PT2A.

A Modern Derringer:

  • 2 Model Choices
  • 4 Caliber Choices
  • Rosewood Grips
  • Stainless Steel Construction
  • Included Leather Holster

Not Just For Doc Holiday

Bond Arms got their start when they realized that derringer-style pistols needn’t be relegated to cowboy movies or Wild West reenactors. The two-shot, double-barreled pocket gun once favored by gamblers still has a place in the modern concealed carry world. Perhaps not as a primary carry piece, as not even the most skilled shooters would recommend only carrying a two-shot gun. But for a deep-concealed backup pistol you’d be hard pressed to find one much smaller. Bond Arms' Protect The 2nd Amendment, or PT2A for short, puts a new twist on their old line of derringers.

Legend has it that Doc Holiday actually did die with a derringer in his hotel room. Not just any derringer either, but a Remington Model 95, the same classic model that Bond Arms based their design on.

 

19th Century Concepts Meet 21st Century Engineering

Unlike the original Remington Model 95, the Bond Arms PT2A handgun is built from stainless steel using modern construction techniques. The result is a gun just as small as its predecessor but with a lot bigger punch. Capable of withstanding much higher chamber pressures, the Bond Arms PT2A’s two variants can fire four different modern calibers. One version is chambered for .38 Special and .357 Magnum, while the other can take either .45 Long Colt or .410 bore shotgun shells. Whichever chambering you choose, just know that you’re doing a lot better than the anemic .41 Short found in an original Remington 95.

Other features found on Bond Arms derringers help bring the gun to modern safety standards. The PT2A has retracting firing pins, a cross-bolt safety, a spring-loaded cam-lock lever, and a rebounding hammer. These elements ensure that you can carry your PT2A without worrying about it going off in your pocket. Despite this, please remember that carrying in a holster that covers the trigger is always safer than pocket-carry.

Speaking of holsters, the Bond Arms PT2A comes with a BAD premium leather driving holster. The “2nd A” embossed on the side makes the holster thematically consistent with the engraved derringer it houses, and the brown leather compliments the gun’s wooden grips.

PT2A in holster.
PT2A in holster.

Other modern features of the PT2A include extractors that automatically eject spent casings and the ability to swap the engraved 4.25 inch barrel with any other standard Bond Arms barrel. Alternate barrel length options range between 2.5 inches to 6 inches. Keep in mind that changing the barrel also means losing the words of the Second Amendment that are engraved on the original. MSRP for the PT2A is $887.

Protect Yourself While Protecting the 2nd Amendment

By purchasing a PT2A, your support for the Second Amendment couldn’t be more apparent. Not only are the words of the Second Amendment proudly engraved into the side of the pistol’s barrel, but “2nd A” can also be found on the carved, high gloss rosewood grips and on the holster as well.
It’s not just symbolic support, either. With every purchase of a PT2A, Bond Arms donates a portion of the profits to organizations that fight to protect gun rights in the United States. Whether you’re in the market for a practical little derringer for defense, or for a piece of patriotic art to hang on the wall, the Bond Arms’ PT2A is a good choice both mechanically and aesthetically.

For more info on the PT2A, please visit bondarms.com.

More Concealed Carry Options:

The Cugir Draco: When Demand Outweighs Supply

From Dracos to WASRs to PSLs, Cugir Arms imports have long been a staple of the U.S. gun market. Now that the demand for Dracos is higher than the supply can provide for, what does the future hold for this little Romanian pistol that punches above its weight?

Dracos-What Are They?:

  • Semi-Automatic 7.62x39mm AK Pistols From Century Arms
  • There Are Four 7.62x39mm Variants-Three Made In Romania And One Made In The U.S.
  • Romanian Draco Variants Differ In Three Major Ways-Barrel Length, Handguards, And Rear Sight
  • New Ones Have Not Been Imported In Several Months, Very Hard To Find One Currently [May 2021]
Cugir made Draco Pistol, imported for the US market by Century Arms
Cugir made Draco Pistol, imported for the US market by Century Arms.

As an importer as well as manufacturer, there are many AKs for sale with “Century Arms” in the name. All the imports are good to go, but the domestically produced models should generally be avoided if you are looking for a serious rifle with the famous reliability of a Kalashnikov.

The Draco AK pistol, manufactured in Romania by Cugir Arms Factory and imported by Century Arms, is ubiquitous enough that “Draco” is now used by many as a generic term for any model of AK pistol. For years they were bought and loved by a variety of people. Military history buffs bought them to make PM md. 90 clones. People looking for a truck or backpack gun bought them for their compactness. Gangster-rappers flashed them as status symbols.

Now in 2021, AKs of all kinds are as popular as they’ve ever been in the United States, but the once abundant Draco is sold out everywhere you look. As I write this, there are multiple Draco guns listed for auction on Gunbroker, with active bids going for well over $1,000. From the best I can tell, the last time Romanian Dracos were in stock and being sold new online was five months ago and they were listed for $699.

Did the supply and demand really become so skewed these past few months that these guns have doubled in price? A year ago they were less than $600, so what happened? Full sized WASR rifles have been imported more recently and sold for relatively normal prices for the times, so why no more Dracos? Before we dive into that question, let’s briefly talk about the history of the Cugir Arms Factory and the weapons they have to offer.

Cugir History


Located in Cugir, Romania, the Cugir Arms Factory can trace its weapon manufacturing roots back to the late 18th century during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today they are a subsidiary of ROMARM, the state-owned defense conglomerate.

After the second world war, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. During the early 1960s, the Soviet Union encouraged all Warsaw Pact states to domestically produce their own assault rifles chambered in 7.62x39mm. Romania accomplished this in 1963 when they produced their first AK variant, a clone of the Russian stamped AKM that they called the PM md.63. The underfolding variant came as the PM md.65 two years later. They would eventually also develop a side-folding carbine variant with a shorter barrel and combination front sight and gas block (as opposed to standard AK variants where the front sight is a separate piece from the gas block) called the PM md.90. This variant is what became known in the United States as the Draco, although it was obviously imported as a semi-automatic pistol for legal reasons.

Romanian Military PM md.63
Romanian Military PM md.63. Photo:Wikipedia

The first Romanian AKs to be imported were during the Federal Assault Weapons ban of 1994 to 2004. Skirting prohibitions in the law, they lacked several features found on standard Kalashnikov rifles. Without getting too bogged down in the convoluted history of different variants, the first imported Romanian AK you should know about was called the ROMAK-1 and it became available in 1999. This is the model that eventually became known as the WASR-10, but it was also imported under the names CUR-1, WUM-1, and SAR-1.

Cugir SAR-1 semi-auto AKM
Cugir SAR-1 semi-auto AKM. Predecessor to the WASR. Photo: Wikipedia

Romanian AK … Worth A Dang?

The reputation of imported Romanian AKs in the U.S. has been all over the place since they first started coming in. Some of the criticisms are warranted, while others are not. The fact of the matter is that there have only ever been two significant and real problems with these guns, one of which was caused by Cugir and the other the fault of Century.

The first of these problems that you may have heard about were canted sights, meaning that the front sight post was not installed on the barrel at the correct vertical angle. The result of this is generally a fully functional rifle that will likely need the front sight drifted to the extreme right or left in order to obtain a proper zero. In the most serious cases the rifle is unable to be zeroed. This was mostly a problem in the early 2000s when Cugir was having some quality control issues. When shopping for a Romanian AK, especially an older import, this is certainly something you should check for. Since then, Cugir has improved their QC and this has not been an issue with their new rifles for years.

The second issue was caused stateside by Century during the importation process. For legal reasons, foreign AKs can only be imported into the U.S. with non-standard magazine wells sized to fit single-stack magazines. Once imported, Century completes some light modifications to bring the rifle into standard spec. One of these modifications conducted by Century is the opening up of the magwell to accept standard double-stack AK mags. Once upon a time, like the canted sights, this was an issue. The magazine well would either be opened up too much or too little, resulting in magazines fitting in the rifle too tightly or too loosely (some amount of mag wobble is normal for AKs, but too much is bad). Again, this ceased to be an issue quite some time ago.

Small, But Mighty Draco


Cugir produces three 7.62×39 Draco variants for the U.S. market, the Mini Draco, the Micro Draco, and the standard Draco with a 12.25 inch barrel. The standard version is the most desirable for its ability to take standard AKM pattern handguards, unlike the Micro or Mini versions. The 7.62x39mm cartridge performs extremely well out of shorter barrels, only losing a couple hundred feet per second of velocity when compared to a standard 16.3 inch barrel. That being said, the 12.25 inch barrel still results in better ballistics than the 7.75 or 6.25 inch barrels of the Mini or Micro, again making the standard Draco the preferred variant. Furthermore, as civilian shooters often like to emulate what militaries do or use, the 12.25 inch Draco is much closer in form to several military AK variants than either two of the other models.

As they come out of the box, Dracos in their pistol format are essentially range toys. They can be used to blast for fun, but without any proper way to utilize the sights one can’t expect to make good hits with it outside of a few yards. This may be fine for the casual shooter who just thinks little AKs are cool, but many people who purchase these intend for them to be serious fighting rifles if the need ever arises.

Because of this, the single most important modification that can be performed to a Draco is the installation of a pistol brace or rifle stock following proper ATF approval to register it as an SBR. With the additional point of contact provided by the brace or stock, the Draco’s standard AK rifle sights become usable again. This is what brings the Draco out of toy territory and makes it a truly functional weapon.

When it comes to modifying the rest of the pistol, it accepts any standard pattern trigger, handguard, dust cover, safety selector or magazine that can be installed on a normal AKM. The barrel is also threaded for 14×1 LH so it can take a wide variety of common muzzle devices. Once SBR’d, Dracos can be transformed into handsome military clones such as the original Romanian PM md.90 it was developed from, or the Russian AK-104.

Romanian Military PM md.90 Short Rifle
Romanian Military PM md.90 Short Rifle. Photo:Wikipedia

The Romanian Draco AK pistol is a versatile little gun ideal for a variety of applications. When combined with a folding brace or stock they have nearly the same firepower and usability as any full-sized AK variant but in a package small enough to be stowed under a car seat or in a backpack. It is easy to see why this gun is desirable enough that many people are willing to shell out twice as much as they would have a year ago to get one today. But where are the new ones?

Are They Avialable?

I reached out to Century Arms about the status of more imports hitting American shores, but have not heard back yet. If they respond I will update this article with their answers. In the meantime, it unfortunately seems that Draco pistols will continue to sell for ludicrous prices on the second-hand market until more are imported, if ever. Until that day, I recommend that you keep an eye out for any fairly-priced imported AK, Cugir or otherwise.

Century Arms' AK Offerings

Imported ModelsDomestic Models
WASR-10VSKA
WASR-10 UFVSKA Synthetic
AES 10BC39
WASR MC39V2
PSL 54RAS47
Draco (Romanian Made)Draco (U.S. Made)
Mini Draco
Micro Draco
Draco NAK9

For more information on imported Cugir AKs and Dracos, please visit centuryarms.com.

More AK Stuff:

Liemke Kieler Thermal Monoculars: See What’s Hot

Track game through the morning fog or the cover of darkness with Liemke’s Kieler thermal monoculars, now available in the United States.

Possible Uses Of A Thermal Imaging Device:

  • Locate lost game after sunset
  • Night hunting
  • Hunting in areas with regular high fog or mist
  • Nature Observation
  • Surveilling your property at night
  • Locating a leak in your HVAC system
  • Developing and testing firearms or suppressors

Once only available to Europeans, Germany’s premier thermal imaging manufacturer has begun importing their monoculars into the United States, giving American hunters access to the same game-changing tech that our friends across the pond have been enjoying for years.

Liemke has been producing thermal imaging gear for both civilian and government use since they were established in 2008. Cutting-edge German engineering quickly made Liemke an industry leader in the European thermal market. Now that they are expanding their sales to the United States, companies like FLIR and Pulsar have new competition in town.

Night hunting has grown in popularity in recent decades, in no small part due to booming boar and coyote populations that need culling. When tracking game without the assistance of sunlight is your goal, thermal monoculars and scopes are the best way to locate animals without compromising your own position with illumination.

Liemke is initially entering the American market with two thermal monocular offerings, the Keiler 13 Pro and the Keiler 35 Pro. Both models have recording capabilities and internal storage of 16GB, which can be transferred to another device via cable for the 13 Pro or via Wi-Fi for the 35 Pro. They record at a 50 Hz refresh rate to ensure the footage is smooth and the image quality is high. All Liemke products also include a three-year warranty.

Keiler 13 Pro

Keiler 13 Pro Ceramic
Keiler 13 Pro Ceramic

Featuring a 13mm objective lens, this pocket-sized monocular brings high-performance in a small package. As rugged and waterproof as any other sized model, the Keiler 13 Pro detects heat signatures at a maximum of 500 yards, with a field of view of 50 meters at a 100-meter distance. The resulting image is viewed on the 720×540 pixel resolution display. It has an optical zoom level 1.2x and a digital zoom of 2x, providing for a total capable zoom of 2.2x.

The Keiler 13 Pro, the more compact model of the two, weighs only 11.64 ounces and is described by Leimke as pocket-sized. Pockets come in many sizes, however, so it would be appreciated if Leimke posted the device’s actual dimensions. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can run continuously for 12 hours. With such a small size and long battery life, the Keiler 13 Pro seems ideal for those looking to carry a light pack into deep country. MSRP is $1,332.

Keiler 35 Pro

Keiler 35 Pro
Keiler 35 Pro

As the 13 Pro features a 13mm objective lens, the 35 Pro has a 35mm lens. Larger in every way, the 35 Pro is capable of detecting and recording heat signatures up to 1,350 yards away. Its 2.5x optical zoom combined with a 2-4x digital zoom means that the 35 Pro can enlarge an image up to 10x its original size. The image is displayed on a 1,280×960 pixel screen, higher resolution than the 13 Pro.

The 35 Pro is also powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but it is only guaranteed to have a minimum of a 7-hour battery life due to the more demanding power requirements over the smaller model. At 14.81 ounces, it is only about 3-ounces heavier than the 13 Pro. This model is more suited for those who value performance over portability or price. MSRP is $3,332.

For more information on Liemke thermal imaging devices, please visit liemke.com.


Zero In On Optics:

Maintain Your Gear: Fix It Sticks All Purpose Driver Kit

The perfect size to throw in your glovebox or range bag, Fix It Sticks’ new All Purpose Driver Kit makes light work of field repairs.

Fix It Sticks All Purpose Driver Kit
Fix It Sticks All Purpose Driver Kit, in open case.

Included In The Kit:

  • Ratchet T-Handle with Locking Hex Drive
  • T-Handle extension
  • Magnetic velcro patch
  • 22¼-inch Drive Sockets
  • SAE: 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, ½ and 9/16 inch
  • Metric: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 mm sockets
  • 46¼-inch Electroless Nickel Plated Hex Bits
  • SAE Hex: 0.05, 1/16, 5/64, 3/32, 7/64, 1/8, 9/64, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, ¼ and 5/16 inch
  • Metric Hex: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6, 8 and 10 mm
  • Torx: 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45
  • Phillips: 0, 1, 2 (x2), 3
  • JIS: 0,1,2,3
  • Slotted: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Stay On The Range Longer

I know I’m not the only one who has had range days cut short by unforeseen problems that I didn’t have the tools to fix. I have tried too many times to tighten a screw with the blade of a knife. Some of my guns would certainly have been less scratched if I had had an All Purpose Driver kit in my bag.

Fix It Sticks are intended for use on any machine with bolts, nuts, or fasteners. Cars, guns, and everything in between can be fixed utilizing the tools found in this small case with dimensions measuring 8.25 X 5.5 X 2.375 inches.

The included bits and sockets come in both metric and standard sizes and can be attached to either the T-Handle directly, or to the T-Handle extender for additional reach and leverage. The MSRP is $200.

Fix It Stick T-Handle
Fix It Stick T-Handle.

For more information on Fix It Sticks All Purpose Driver Kit, please visit fixitsticks.com.

Other Tools To Keep Your Guns Working:

First Look: Bergara Premier Competition Rifle

Capable of precision shots right out of the box, Bergara’s new Premier Competition Rifle was designed with shooters’ needs in mind. Loaded with features more typically only found on custom built rifles, the Bergara aims to make precision rifle competitions as accessible as any other shooting sport.

Standard Features Of The Bergara Premier Competition Rifle:

  • Arca-Swiss Rail
  • MPA BA Competition Chassis
  • TriggerTech Trigger
  • Heavy Profile Stainless Steel Barrel
Bergara Premier Competition Rifle, profile
Bergara Premier Competition Rifle, profile

The Rifle

Available now chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor as well as 6mm Creedmoor sometime later this year, the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle is only an optic away from being a very capable long-range rifle. The MPA BA Competition Chassis that the rifle is housed in provides for a very solid base, capable of maintaining extreme accuracy even while suffering from abuse in the field.

Several points of adjustment on the stock ensure that the shooter can get behind his scope as comfortably as possible. The Arca-Swiss rail on the front end of the handguard allows for three different mounting options. The special screw hole on the bottom is designed to accept standard camera tripods, and picatinny rail on the lower and upper halves can mount a bipod and night vision respectively. The rifle’s #7 profile stainless steel barrel is 26 inches long and features a 1:8 twist rate for the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering. Manufactured in-house by Bergara, the barrel was designed to stay cooler longer and to have minimal impact on accuracy when it finally does heat up. The rifle feeds from 10-round detachable box magazines.

bergara barrel
Bergara Barrel, stainless steel #7 profile.

Guns From Spain, Si Or No?

When I think of Spanish guns, I admittedly think of Stars, Llamas and CETMEs before I think of precision competition rifles. That being said, Spain has one of the longest histories of firearms development in the world and I have full faith in their ability to manufacture quality products.

Spanish firearms have sometimes had a less than stellar reputation in the United States, but this is mostly due to Spain’s unique copyright laws that allowed them to legally manufacture many clone weapons of other country’s designs. Rumors were once spread that these Spanish copies used subpar materials in their construction, but this has been proven false and the once-cheaply-imported Spanish surplus has gone up in value as more people recognize their quality. Bergara Rifles are quite a different beast than the Spanish imports of yesteryear, but they are certainly still holding themselves to the very high standard that is necessary for precision rifle manufacturers.

The Bergara Premier Competition Rifle is guaranteed to be capable of producing at least 1 MOA groups at 100 yards using match-grade ammo. Its MSRP is set at $2499.

For more information on the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle, please visit bergara.online.

More From Bergara:

SIG SAUER MODX-45 Pistol Suppressor

Sig Sauer’s newest suppressor, the MODX-45, brings modularity alongside durability.

MODX-45 Spec Ranges:

  • Length: 3.25-9.25 inches
  • Weight: 5-9oz
  • Noise: 133-149dB

Constructed from seven 3D-printed titanium baffles, the MODX-45 utilizes the latest 3D-printing technology to make this new .45 ACP suppressor as light as it is strong.

MODX-45 Suppressor on 1911, profile
MODX-45 Suppressor on a Sig Sauer 1911

Sig Sauer took the same concepts that made their previous MODX-9 popular and scaled the design up for the .45 ACP cartridge, making this a perfect match for a Sig 1911, P220, or any other .45 with an appropriately threaded barrel.

The modular nature of Sig’s segmented, 3D-printed cans allow for the shooter to easily and quickly trade compactness for quietness. With the included tool, the titanium baffle segments can be added or removed to bring the silencer from 3.25 inches to 9.25 inches, lowering the decibel level from 149dB to 133dB with an additional seven points of variation in between.

modx-45-db-chart
MODX-45 full range of adjustment.

For Pistols Or PCCs

Suppressed pistol caliber carbines have grown in popularity as both range toys and serious self-defense weapons in recent years. The previously released MODX-9 seems like such a great match for Sig’s own MCX 9mm carbine that I can’t help but wonder if they will ever release a .45 variant MCX to pair with the new MODX-45. As it is a naturally subsonic round, .45 remains a popular choice to suppress regardless of the platform.

Not everyone believes that the added modularity is beneficial, however. Time will tell if cans with adjustable lengths will become the norm, or if they will one day become a forgotten trend replaced by suppressors of more monolithic construction.

The MODX-45 has an MSRP of $1000

For more information on the MODX-45 pistol suppressor, please visit sigsauer.com.


Get More Suppressor Info:

Ed Brown MP-F4: The Latest Custom M&P

Ed Brown, renowned for their custom 1911s, continues their Fueled Series with its new custom Smith&Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm—the MP-F4.

Full List Of Customized Components On The MP-F4:

  • Machined Pins
  • Slide Backplate
  • Magazine Baseplate
  • Magazine Well
  • Extractor
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Accuracy Rail
  • Slide
  • Barrel

The recently announced MP-F4 from Ed Brown is the fourth and latest installment in their custom Smith and Wesson M&P line that they call the Fueled Series. Much like with their 1911s, the Fueled Series guns are improved and customized on both a micro and macro level.

MP-F4 with Trijicon RMR, profile
Ed Brown Custom MP-F4 S&W M&P 2.0 9mm

The luxurious overhauls included in this package begin to blur the line between a competition pistol and a defense gun. The components that have been upgraded lend themselves to not only improved reliability and accuracy, but to quicker reloads and cleaner trigger pulls. Effort was also certainly put in to making the MP-F4 a handsome gun as well, at least for those who are partial to the “space blaster” aesthetic.

Optics And Suppressor Ready

In 2021, is a custom gun really custom unless it has a red dot and a can? The suppressor market has exploded in recent years and has helped encourage manufacturers to ensure their threads are concentric and their guns are up to the extra abuse imparted by shooting suppressed. The MP-F4 comes with a match grade, 416 stainless steel barrel. It is fluted, threaded (with a custom thread protector), and titanium nitride coated to give it a distinct golden color. The ported slide reduces weight while also exposing more of the barrel to view.

The custom slide is also cut to accept a Trijicon RMR or any other compatible optic. When ordering the MP-F4 from Ed Brown, one can either purchase the standalone pistol or buy it as a package with a Trijicon RMR or SRO.

The Heart Of The MP-F4

Ed Brown begins each custom Fueled Series job by replacing the factory front rail block with an improved accuracy rail. Ed Brown claims that this new rail enables their gunsmiths to fit each gun to much tighter specs than what are normally found on Smith and Wesson M&Ps. By securely mating the slide to the frame, the accuracy rail eliminates rattle and improves the mechanical accuracy of the system.

MP-F4 accuracy-block
Ed Brown's custom accuracy block ensures the slide and frame are tightly mated to reduce rattle and improve accuracy.

The upgrades found throughout the MP-F4 mean that the gun can outperform most shooters who pick it up. For those who have religiously trained on their standard M&Ps, this may be just the gun to squeeze that last bit of possible accuracy out of the platform.

The MP-F4 begins at $2,195 and goes up from there if packaged with an optic.

For more information on the MP-F4 and the Ed Brown Fueled Series, please visit edbrown.com.

More Concealed Carry Guns:

XD-M Elite Compact OSP: Springfield’s New Carry Option

Springfield offers a new optics ready 9mm compact for concealed carry in the XD-M Elite Compact.

Why The XD-M Elite Is Ideal For Concealed Carry:

  • Small and light enough to be easily concealed
  • Large enough to be shot comfortably and accurately
  • Optics ready out of the box as well as enhanced iron sights
  • Plenty of aftermarket support and accessories available

Springfield Armory recently unveiled the newest pistol in their X-DM Elite series, the X-DM Elite 3.8 inch OSP. The Springfield XD started its life in Croatia in the early 1990s as a duty sidearm known as the HS2000, and since Springfield acquired the rights to license it in 2002, they have changed quite a bit more than the gun’s name.

XD-M Elite Compact with HEX Dragonfly
Springfield Armory XD-M Elite Compact OSP

Today’s handgun market is being driven by concealed carry considerations. Companies are no longer simply trying to make a gun as small as possible like they were when .25 ACP pocket-guns were in vogue, the contemporary concealed carrier now demands usability as much as concealability.

This is why the most popular new CCW guns of today were designed with ergonomics, practical accuracy, and tactical manipulation in mind while still keeping the pistol as compact as possible. Springfield’s new XD-M Elite Compact OSP follows in that trend.

The 9mm Compact's Basics

The XD-M Elite Compact OSP is offered in 9mm with a 3.8 inch match-grade barrel and a shorter grip than standard Springfield XD models. The Compact OSP ships with two 14-round magazines that sit flush inside the gun’s flared magwell, intended to help hasten reloading. If you value ammunition capacity over concealability and reload speed, however, you can easily remove the flared magwell and instead use standard XD-M 19-round magazines in conjunction with magazine sleeves. Doing this transforms the gun into what is essentially a compact XD-M Elite slide on top of a full-sized frame.

The slide serrations have been enlarged to ensure the gun can be easily charged even with wet or dirty hands, and an ambidextrous slide stop lever and magazine release facilitates right or left-handed shooting.

The XD-M Elite 3.8 inch Compact OSP’s trigger utilizes Springfield’s META system, which they claim offers the “finest trigger pull available on a production polymer-framed pistol.” I have not tried the META trigger system myself, however I find Springfield’s claim to be dubious considering they did not limit their comparison to striker-fired pistols. Perhaps it is the best trigger on the market for a polymer-framed, striker-fired gun, but in a world where there exist polymer-framed DA/SA and SAO pistols, I have trouble believing that a striker-based system could offer a better feeling trigger. Of course, the shooting community will ultimately be who decides how good the META trigger system truly is.

Red Dot Or Iron Sights?

The OSP in the gun’s namesake stands for Optical Sight Pistol, one of the biggest improvements Springfield has made with their new XD-M Elite Compact. The Springfield Standard Footprint found on the XD-M Elite Compact OSP slide can accommodate both popular aftermarket pistol sights as well as the HEX Dragonfly it is being marketed with. The gun can be purchased as either a standalone pistol or as a package with the HEX Dragonfly.

If carrying with a red dot isn’t your taste, the seamless cover plate can be left on the optical mount for iron sight use. The gun comes standard with Springfield’s Tactical Rack U-Dot rear sight and a high-visibility fiber optic front post, making it a viable defense pistol even without mounting a red dot.

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP Specs
Caliber: 9mm
Action Type: Striker Fired
Controls: Ambidextrous Slide Stop and Magazine Release
Magazine Capacity: 14- and 19-Round Magazines
Weight Unloaded: 29 Ounces
Barrel Length: 3.8 inches, Melonite finished, 1:10
Overall Length: 6.75 inches
Height: 4.58 inches
Sights: Fiber-Optic Front, Tactical-Rack U-Dot Rear; Springfield Standard Optics Footprint, HEX Dragonfly
MSRP: $633 (Just pistol), $818 (Packaged with HEX Dragonfly)

For more information on the XD-M Elite Compact OSP, please visit springfield-armory.com.

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