Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s How times have changed… Growing up in rural Idaho meant that every sixth-grade student completed the Idaho Hunter Education course during the school year. On school time…in school classrooms. And ever since I grabbed a catalog during the Hunter Ed class that featured a Marlin 336CS on the cover…I had to have one. Lever Guns (T to B): Winchester 94 in 45 Colt, Henry 22LR, Winchester 94 Carbine 30-30, Savage 99 in 300 Savage, Winchester 94 Trapper 30-30, Marlin 30AS 30-30 Though they aren’t made anymore…I still have 5 lever guns of my own that I use to hunt and shoot. Across a variety of calibers… L to R – 22 LR, 45 Colt, 30-30 Win, 300 Savage, 45-70 Government Want to start your own lever gun collection? Read on and you’ll know which guns and calibers are the best for you. Table of Contents Loading... America’s Lever Action Gun Love Affair This love affair began way back in 1848 when the Volition Repeating Rifle was the first lever gun to receive a patent. That venture failed in 1852 with only a few rifles produced. Enter Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. They bought the patent and with help from several investors created the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855. One of the investors was Oliver Winchester . The Volcanic Rifle did not gain much traction either. Smith and Wesson moved on to develop their revolvers and Oliver Winchester bought out the remaining investors and renamed the company New Haven Arms Company. They Never Thought This Would Be The Future He brought on a man by the name of Benjamin Tyler Henry to rework the Volcanic Rifle design. Today we recognize the Henry Rifle as the result of that design work. The Henry Rifle was introduced in 1860 and saw action during the Civil War. For those in the south it was better known as “that damn Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week”. Henry Rifle in 44-40 At the end of the war, the New "Haven Arms Company" was renamed the Winchester "Repeating Arms Company" and a new and improved model of the Henry, the 1866 Winchester was rolled out. In 1873 the “gun that won the west” the 1873 Winchester made its entrance followed by the 1876 Winchester three years later. John Moses Browning began his work at Winchester in 1883. Because of his work and designs Winchester and lever action became one in the same. His most famous design, 1894 continues to this day. The 1894 was first chambered in the 32-40 and 38-55 black powder cartridges. 38-55 Blackpowder Cartridge Then in 1895, the 30 Winchester Centerfire became the first smokeless powder cartridge in America. You know it today as the 30-30 Winchester. It is estimated that more than 7.5 million Model 1894’s have been produced. When you watch classic westerns if you pay attention you’ll see a lot of Winchester Model 1894’s and a few 1873’s. But go back in time and tune in to the Big Valley and you’ll notice all those boys in the Barkley family are toting Marlins. The side-ejection Marlin is known for is clearly visible in the show when the inevitable shoot-out goes down. John Marlin rolled out two lever action designs in the late 1890’s. The Model 39 was a rimfire design and has been in constant production for over 120 years. Today you will find the 39A still available from the Marlin Custom Shop. The Model 36 had several upgrades and modifications over the years and in 1950’s became the 336. As mentioned earlier the big difference in Marlin and Winchester lever guns is the ejection. In the early Winchesters, the spent case was ejected straight up as the action opened. Top to Bottom Winchester 94 Top Eject, Winchester 94 Angle Eject, Marlin 30AS Side Eject This made mounting optical sights impractical until Angle Eject was introduced in the 1980’s. The Marlin rifles have a solid-top receiver and eject spent cases out the side. So those that wanted to mount a scope had a solid base to work with and no empties banging the bottom of the scope every time the lever was worked. Marlin…side ejection and solid top receiver Savage went a different direction entirely with its Model 99 introduced in 1899. Rather than a tubular magazine, the Savage rifle has a top-loaded rotary magazine. The action is very streamlined and lends itself well to mounting optics or peep-sights. Savage Model 99 in 300 Savage with Weaver K4 Scope There is no hammer, so the lock time is a bit faster than the Winchesters and Marlins. And, because there is no tubular magazine, the Savage easily handles cartridges that excel with spitzer-type bullets such as the 250-3000 Savage (the first commercial cartridge to break the 3000fps barrier) and the 300 Savage. As American and traditional as the lever action rifle is, there is a bit of an interesting twist concerning the Winchester Model 1895 . At the beginning of World War I, Russia had a problem. They had the biggest standing Army on the planet, but about a third of their soldiers had no rifles. At the time the United States was a neutral country and Russia went to Winchester and ordered 300,000 musket versions of the Model 1895 chambered in 7.62x54mmR and complete with bayonet lugs. The rifles were also modified to be loaded with what we call stripper clips today. Winchester 1895 Russian Musket If you are an avid reader of safari lore you will recognize the Model 1895 in 405 Winchester as Teddy Roosevelt’s “’medicine gun’ for lions” . Lever Actions Today With all the plastic fantastics and AR-15’s and AR-10’s one might think there is no place for old-fashioned lever guns today. But consider this, the lever action rifle was really the first pistol caliber carbine. Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt – Original Pistol Caliber Carbine Back when ranch hands always had a revolver strapped on in the classic 44-40 cartridge many times there was a rifle in a saddle scabbard loaded up with the same ammo. And lest you think a lever gun is slow, take a look at this video with a well-practiced cowboy action shooter and his lever gun. Obviously, the lever gun is right at home in the hunting fields. Millions of deer have been harvested by the 30-30 in every brand of lever gun. Not to mention black bears, elk, hogs and small game. With modern bullets, modern powder and modern actions, a lever gun is a useful tool in any hunting situation. Especially if you start looking at big bores like the 45-70 and 450 Marlin. The sleek Browning Lever-action Rifles are chambered in .308 Winchester and .243. Custom builders like Wild West Guns will supply you with a take-down lever gun built on a Marlin action in the .475 WWG ( "Wild West Guns" ) cartridge. How about as a defensive tool? Maybe you live in one of the not so gun friendly states that don’t allow dangerous things like removable magazines or pistol grips. Grab yourself a lever gun in .38 Special/.357 Magnum and you now have 10 rounds of stopping power in a very light, very fast platform. If the 38 calibers are not to your liking you can step up to .44 Magnum or .45 Colt and make a lot of big holes very quickly. 4 Best Lever Rifles Today I have a wrinkled old yellow notepad with the words “Guns I Still Need” scribbled across the top. On that list are probably 30 or so guns that at the time I thought would be just right to keep a gun nut and shooter happy. One of those with a check mark next to it is a Model 99 300 Savage. Another is a Model 99 250-3000 Savage – Take Down…that one does not have a check mark…yet. The rifles below should get you well on the way to a fine collection of lever guns. 1. Henry Rifle If you want a smooth as silk action in an American made rifle you need to treat yourself to a Henry. Whether you choose a svelte little 22 Long Rifle or a centerfire cartridge you cannot go wrong investing in a Henry lever gun. Side-eject, magazine tube loading port and no lawyer inspired safety mechanism mean you are getting a good old-fashioned lever gun the way "Benjamin Tyler Henry" intended. Take a look at the new .410 shotgun if you want to change up your rabbit hunting or upland bird hunting a bit. Best Range Toy Shotgun Henry Lever Action .410 Shotgun 799 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 799 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing If you want to bling up the gun safe, a Henry Golden Boy .22 is just the thing. Henry Golden Boy I like classic blued steel and walnut so my choice would be the Color Case Hardened 45-70 . Big bore power in a very traditional rifle. But Henry has dozens of options to choose from so they are sure to have a lever gun to meet your idea of the perfect rifle. What’s your take on Henry Rifles? Readers' Ratings 4.81/5 (708) Your Rating? 2. Marlin 336SS The 336 Stainless is chambered in .30-30 Winchester. With a brushed stainless finish and handsome checkered walnut, this rifle would be right at home sneaking through thick whitetail timber or waiting for an elk at a wallow. Marlin Model 336SS 770 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 770 at Cabelas Compare prices (2 found) Cabelas (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing With 6 rounds in the tubular magazine, you’ll be prepared for a great day in the field. If the open sights leave your aging eyes straining a bit, you can easily mount the optic of your choice on the solid top receiver. Marlin also makes the 336 in a standard Blued finish, if stainless steel isn’t your thing! Best Entry Level Lever-Action Marlin 336 550 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 550 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing 3. Winchester Model 1894 The Model 94 is a classic everyone should own. At least in my humble opinion. Chambered in 30-30 Winchester with open sights, walnut stock and richly blued steel you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time a bit when you pull this rifle out of the safe and head to the range. Best Lever Action Rifle Winchester Model 94 Carbine 1200 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 1200 at Cabelas Compare prices (2 found) Cabelas (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing New production rifles will be a bit different than the originals but they are very nice. You will find a tang safety, Angle-Eject and the receiver is drilled and tapped for mounting optics. But it’s still a Winchester lever action rifle. 4. Marlin 1895 Custom Shop 45-70 There are lots of 45-70’s available and it’s one of the classic cartridges on my list. Marlin started a trend years ago when they rolled out the Guide Guns. These were short barreled, ported, peep-sighted guns for guides to backup clients taking on big bears or other toothy critters. "Marlin 1895 Custom" , MSRP $2,000 Though Marlin offers several Guide-type guns today, the Custom Shop rifles really catch my eye. With a choice of Cerakote colors to choose from, slicked up actions, ghost ring sights, and a tube full of 45-70 cartridges, what’s not to like? We now have a full hands-on review of the new Dark Series vs Original 1895s . A little side-by-side look at an older Marlin Model 1895 in .45-70 Gov’t and the new Dark Series version. Final Thoughts Lever guns are an institution in America. They are a part of who we are and have played a major role in the development of the firearms we enjoy today. Top to Bottom Winchester 94 in 45 Colt, Henry 22LR, Winchester 94 Carbine 30-30, Savage 99 in 300 Savage, Winchester 94 Trapper 30-30, Marlin 30AS 30-30 Maybe you never thought a lever gun was really your thing. Fast semi-autos and long-reaching bolt guns have their place. But iron-sighted lever gun forces you to slow down, get close, and really engage in the hunt or at the range. If you’re looking to modernize your rifle, a great optic is the best way! We’re fans of low magnification scopes, like a 1-6x Scope . Bunch of 1-6x Scopes Channel your inner pioneer and put a couple of classics on your own ‘need to buy’ list and let us know in the comments! Then check out our Editor’s Picks for more of our favorite guns and gear or Best Rifle Scopes for your perfect glass.
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s What’s the best way to get an SBR sized weapon without going through the hassle of getting a tax stamp, or losing barrel length? The answer to my incredibly specific question is to get a bullpup . Bullpup Scorpion and Meprolight Foresight Back in the day, there used to be a number of kits out there to take a standard rifle or even a shotgun and turn it into a bullpup. But those are mostly gone now. Mossberg made one, Century made some for AK rifles, a company called Muzzlelite made them for Ruger’s rifles, and I could go on and on about some questionable quality kits from the early 90s. Those kits aren’t fully dead though, in fact, what we are talking about today is the new CZ Scorpion bullpup kit from Manticore Arms . One of the big things I love about CZ is their ability to keep their finger on the pulse of the aftermarket their weapons generate. They even share a booth at SHOT Show with CZ Custom. Bullpup Scorpion and Meprolight Foresight in the wild Manticore Arms is a small company that has grabbed a lot of the Scorpion aftermarket. When they came up with the idea of a bullpup kit for the CZ Scorpion rifle series , the guys and gals at CZ USA partnered up with them to make it a reality. The benefit of working CZ meant the looks and design of the bullpup kit looked natural and organic to the CZ’s rifle design. The partnership also ensured proper fit, finish, and a high-quality kit. These kits are currently for sale at CZ’s website so that says a lot about their legitimacy. Best Pick Pistol Caliber Carbine CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine 990 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 990 at Brownells Compare prices (2 found) Brownells (See Price) Cabela's (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Table of Contents Loading... What’s The Point? The CZ Carbine is a big gun, and bullpupping (that’s totally a word, right?) it makes it much shorter. In fact, it shrinks it down to 26.25 inches, which makes it very handy for indoor use and in the home defense role. A bullpup Scorpion is much more maneuverable. In a lot of ways, a full-sized PCC rifle is a bit goofy already, but bullpupping does allow you to make it shorter, and handier. Bullpup rifles might not be America’s first choice, but they have proven themselves with numerous other armed forces. The Steyr AUG is just one example of a military adopted bullpup Plus, a bullpup PCC is an absolute ton of fun. Compatibility The kit was designed around the Scorpion EVO S1 Carbine with its 16-inch barrel and M-LOK handguard. The M-LOK handguard is a necessity for the kit, and you cannot install the kit without it. CZ Scorpion EVO S1 before being bullpuped This is not confirmed, but it would appear the pistol model with the M-LOK handguard and flash can could work, but you would need to file a form 1 for NFA purposes. To convert the original S1 pistol variant, you’ll need to replace the handguard with an HB Industries or Manticore Arms M-LOK handguard. You’ll also have to file for a tax stamp. CZ Scorpion EVO S2 Pistol Also, you need to check if your trigger pack is welded. If it is, the kit is not compatible until you remove that weld. You’ll also need the stock pistol grip. Some aftermarket models may work, but I can confirm the Magpul model does not. You do basically lose your ability to use iron sights. I mean, you can toss them on the small section of rail, but the sight radius is abysmal. I tossed on my new favorite optic, the Meprolight Foresight . The Build Process Putting the kit together is an involved process. It took about an hour for me to finish, but I did take my time and ensure everything was done correctly. Not to insult CZ or Manticore , but the instructions suck . Manticore Arms Scorpion EVO Bullpup Kit 395 at Manticore Arms Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 395 at Manticore Arms Prices accurate at time of writing Luckily the internet provided a good video of the process, and I followed it. This is not a simple drop-in kit. Going back to a standard format will be another involved process. This is the video I used! Make sure this is the route you want to take before you hit that buy button. The Scorpion S1 Carbine was a great gun, but it is a full-sized 9mm rifle in the world of braced pistols. Using the bullpup kit shrinks the gun to roughly the same size as the traditional Scorpion pistol with a stock or brace. The kit itself comes with a cheek rest and brass deflector to avoid getting slapped in the face by 9mm brass and the added riser also gives you a comfortable means to mount optics in coordination with the cheek rest. Range Time Once everything was put together, I’d have to wait until the next morning to get out there and get on the range. I was excited and nervous. My biggest fear was reliability . Was the kit installed correctly? Would the kit compromise reliability? I had to figure that out before anything. I loaded up a variety of CZ 30 round magazines as well as the new Magpul Scorpion PMAGs and hit the range. RELOADS! Throughout my testing, I used a variety of ammo, including SIG Ammo 115 grain, some M17 124 grain JHPS, some Tula, some Academy Monarch, and a pile of Winchester White box. Best 9mm Range Ammo American Eagle 9mm 115 gr 10.49 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 10.49 at Brownells Compare prices (2 found) Brownells (See Price) Lucky Gunner (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing It’s retained the reliability the Scorpion has had since day one of owning it. My first concern was addressed. Now the next concern was the trigger. Bullpups aren’t known for having great triggers, but to be entirely fair, neither is the Scorpion. The Trigger I own more than one Scorpion, and when compared side by side to a standard Scorpion trigger, I will say the difference is noticeable, but not crazy. The trigger pull is a little longer, a little grittier, but feels lighter, to be honest. It’s not amazing, but it’s also far from as bad as it could be. The final downside with a bullpup platform is reloading. Putting the magazine behind the trigger and firing control unit makes things trickier. Ergonomics The CZ Scorpion bullpup does have a few changes to the ergonomic functions of the gun. First and foremost, it’s no longer lefty friendly. You’ll be getting brass cases to the face if you fire left-handed. The safety is no longer a switch, but a button that moves from one side of the gun to the other. It’s simple and doesn’t dig into the hand like the ambidextrous safety found on the standard model. The charging handle stays the same, although it’s much closer to your face. The front of the weapon gives you just enough room to grip the weapon with your support hand. The weight is all in the back of the weapon, so pivoting the weapon up and down as well as left and right is quick and easy. Another big benefit to the bullpup Scorpion is the fact you can wield it with one hand very easily. In fact, it’s easier to shoot one-handed than any Scorpion handgun. Scorpion pistol with brace, this really isn’t a comfy way of shooting… You can still maintain two points of contact while using your spare hand for other tasks. Reloading Your front hand has to travel rearward significantly more than a standard rifle platform. This does slow you down quite a bit. I took out my same Micro Scorpion and compared the two for reloads. Wait for the beep… Without a doubt, I was much faster with the Micro Scorpion and its standard layout. I shot a little video to better showcase the difference between reloading the bullpup Scorpion versus the standard Scorpion. I did have some concerns that the magazine would be too curved and would strike the pistol grip as I reloaded. If you’ve ever had a vertical grip on an AK, you have experienced this. However, the magazine went in and out without interruption. Even the longer 35 round Magpul magazines went in and out easily enough. Magpul CZ Scorpion Magazine (35-Round) 19 at Gun Mag Warehouse Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 19 at Gun Mag Warehouse Compare prices (2 found) Gun Mag Warehouse (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Practical Shooting Along with my reliability and reload testing, I wanted to see what the gun could do with a few basic drills. I used three simple but easy to time drills to see how the weapon handled. I ran these against a timer to give me an objective standard. Snap Drill Snap drills are simple. Start in the low ready, and when the timer buzzes, raise your weapon and fire an accurate shot as fast as possible at 15 yards. I went for headshots. This paper baddie lives… for now. The thing that was shocking is without a warm-up or any previous practice, and I hit a sub-1-second snap drill with an accurate headshot on the first try. From there, the time only went down, and I reached a .89 as my fastest snap drill. The gun is so short, and the weight is to the rear creating a pivot point that is unbeatable. Swinging the gun upwards is easy and controllable. Failure to Stop Drill A failure to stop drill is a practical shooting drill in which you fire two rounds into the chest of your target, and then transition to place one well-aimed shot into the head of your target. I started at the low ready, at 15 yards, and let it go. My average time was 1.29 seconds, with a solid headshot. Again the weapon was superbly easy to maneuver due to the bullpup design. It moves quickly and without resistance. The trigger pull may be slightly longer, but it doesn’t prevent rapid-fire double taps. Box Drill The box drill is a failure to stop drill on two targets. It starts with a double-tap to the first target, then you transition to the second target for another double-tap and a headshot. From that headshot, you swing back to the first target and place a final round in its cranium. The box drill is much like this Mozambique Drill against two targets. Awesome scene from Collateral. The gun proved to be excellent at multi-target engagements. It moves so easily and naturally between targets. My absolute best time was 1.52 seconds with the bullpup Scorpion, and the gun moved so cleanly, and I could ‘drive’ the gun for lack of a better term. Accuracy A lame trigger could be a detractor to a rifle caliber rifle due to their extra range potential. The good news is with a 9mm rifle, your range is limited to about 100 yards, and inside that range, the trigger can’t cause enough issues to throw a shot. At 100 yards, I was stacking rounds into the chest of a man-sized target and ringing a 10-inch steel gong with boring regularity in the prone position. Even in a kneeling or standing position, I would hit the gong more than I’d miss. The big issue comes into play inside of 15 yards or so. Because the height over bore is so much more significant in the bullpup form, you are going to have aim high—roughly four inches or so. My solution is the Meprolight Foresight ’s BDC reticle. Meprolight Foresight With the optic zeroed at 25 yards, I could use the lowest point on the BDC for close-range shooting. Additionally, something like the Swamp Fox Blade Prism sight comes equipped with a reticle designed for height over bore compensation. Recoil Recoil doesn’t change between this gun and any other CZ Scorpion. As a blowback gun with a big heavy bolt, you get about the same recoil impulse as an AR 15. It’s mild but noticeable. Anyone can safely handle and shoot this weapon. "Best Pick Pistol" Caliber Carbine CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine 990 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 990 at Brownells Compare prices (2 found) Brownells (See Price) Cabela's (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing By The Numbers Reliability: 5/5 The Scorpion Bullpup platform proved to be just as reliable as a standard Scorpion rifle. The gun cycled and fired everything I put through it without argument. The Bullpup kit does nothing to reduce reliability. Accuracy: 4/5 It’s a 9mm rifle, so accuracy isn’t a huge concern. Within the 100 yards in which this weapon should be used, you’ll find it plenty accurate and capable. The trigger is still a downside, but nothing significant. Meprolight Foresight 650 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 650 at "Palmetto State Armory" Compare prices (2 found) Palmetto State Armory (See Price) Optics Planet (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Ergonomics: 3/5 Lefties lose out on the ergonomics department. Reloads are also much slower. The big benefit is the ability to wield the gun comfortably and accurately with one hand. Looks: 5/5 I like it, but I’m betting a lot of people don’t. CZ teaming up with Manticore ensured the gun looks like a Scorpion and matches the look and feel of the Scorpion series. Customization: 2/5 You do lose some of your ability to customize the weapon. This includes some aftermarket grips, trigger components, stocks, and more. You can still attach optics, slings, and accessories via M-LOK rails. Overall: 4/5 The CZ Scorpion Bullpup kit is, without a doubt, one of the best bullpup conversion kits I’ve ever seen. It’s well made, looks amazing and fits together tightly. "Manticore Arms Scorpion" EVO Bullpup Kit 395 at Manticore Arms Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 395 at Manticore Arms Prices accurate at time of writing It looks like it could have been an original weapon from CZ and not a monstrosity. Color Me Surprised "The Scorpion Bullpup" kit is well made, and looks so cool and futuristic. It trims down the size of the bullpup rifle into something much more manageable. Everything works seamlessly between the kits and gives you one awesome bullpup PCC. Are bullpups for you? Would you take a bullpup scorpion to the big dance? Let us know in the comments! For some more bullpuppy action, check out the Steyr AUG and IWI TS12 ! Tavor TS12 shotgun sleeping on shells
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s Have you noticed something changing about concealed carry guns? They seem to be getting bigger …and holding more rounds . Let’s call it the P365 effect . One of the brands taking note of this shift in the market is Springfield with their new Hellcat that holds 11 round and can be had optics ready right from the factory. Springfield Hellcat with flush-fit and extended magazines I got my hands on one shortly after their release and put it through testing. Springfield Hellcat 9mm 500 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 500 at "Palmetto State Armory" Compare prices (2 found) Palmetto State Armory (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing How it runs, if it’s worth it, drills to run, and more are coming up! Table of Contents Loading... The P365 Effect Is this a term yet? Well, it will be soon. Sig’s little 9mm has made a big splash in the market, and it changed what concealed carry looks like. Check out our full review here . The P365 proved you could take a tiny gun, and cram ten rounds into it and have it take up the same space as a single stack 9mm. Sig Sauer P365, a real game changer We got the Glock 48 and 43X, which offer ten rounds in a slightly bigger platform, and SIG released the bigger P365 XL model. However, there hasn’t been any real competition for the P365, well, until September 25th 2019 when Springfield premiered the Hellcat. I got ahold of mine a few days later, sent from Springfield, and have been hitting the range with it every chance I have. Springfield Hellcat The excitement of having a new gun always brings me to the range, but Springfield has proven to be a pleasant gun to shoot, and it keeps me coming back. Springfield also sent a Crossbreed Reckoning holster , which has been invaluable for testing and running drills. We love Crossbreed holsters in our Best CCW Holsters article. Crossbreed IWB Reckoning Holster 55 at Crossbreed Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 55 at Crossbreed Prices accurate at time of writing I’ve been busy with all sorts of fun stuff with the new Hellcat, and it’s proven to be an enjoyable gun. Breaking Down the Hellcat The Hellcat is a mini XD essentially, but it does have a number of changes. It is a micro-compact gun, a new genre that seems to indicate the gun is small and holds at least ten rounds. Springfield Hellcat 9mm 500 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 500 at Palmetto State Armory Compare prices (2 found) Palmetto State Armory (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing The SIG P365 shoved ten rounds in a tiny magazine, but Springfield turned it up to 11. The Hellcat’s flush magazine holds 11 9mm rounds, and the extended magazine holds 13. The flush-fitting magazine also comes with an optional pinky extension, and my flush fit mag now wears the pinky extension. Springfield Hellcat magazines The Hellcat is a tiny and narrow gun. Impressively small to be sure. It has a 3-inch long barrel and is 6 inches long overall. It’s 4 inches tall with the flush mag and 4.5 inches tall with the extended magazine. The grip width is 1 inch, and the slide seems slightly wider. The gun weighs 17.9 ounces with the 11 round magazine and 18.3 ounces with the extended mag. The gun comes in the optics ready OSP model and the standard model. The Hellcat has a hammer-forged barrel with a standard 1:10 twist rate. The finish is Melonite, and while it’s not fancy, it’s practical and robust. The Hellcat even has a Picatinny rail that would allow for secure attachment of accessories. Springfield Hellcat rail Small stuff like the Olight Mini Valkyrie 2 , Streamlight TLR-7 , or the Viridian C5L series will fit perfectly on the gun. Streamlight TLR-7 102 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 102 at Amazon Compare prices (2 found) Amazon (See Price) Optics Planet (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Now we need a light compatible holster, and we’ll be good to go… The sights are tritium and are outstanding. The front sight is where all the action is. It has a tritium vial surrounded by a yellow luminescent polymer. Springfield Hellcat front sight The rear sight has a bright white half-circle around the U dot sight. It’s all effortless to see and very well made. The rear sight is squared off, and you can use it for one-hand manipulations. The Hellcat does get rid of the grip safety that’s common on the XD series. I welcome this change and don’t see a need for another thing to break or mess up. Insert this is my safety sir meme. Springfield Armory equipped the gun with a new texture they are calling the Adaptive Grip texture. They sell it as a texture that feels soft when touched softly and feels rougher when gripped harder. That’s the best way I can translate the marketing talk. It works too. Seriously against the skin, the texture doesn’t rub you raw. You don’t feel how grippy the texture is until you squeeze down on it. Then things get a little rough. Springfield Hellcat “Adaptive Grip texture” Ergonomics and Controls Ergonomically the gun is quite simple. It lacks any manual safeties and has a takedown lever and slide lock on the side. The trigger sports a small safety device similar to other XD models. The grip is mostly straight and has a pretty standard grip angle — more American than European, and it’s 1911ish so very comfortable and natural feeling. Springfield Hellcat side As I mentioned, the texturing is aggressive but comfortable. It also goes all the way up the grip, and I do like that a lot. The same texture graces the pinky extension and extended magazine. There is also a spot of texture where your trigger finger lies when it’s straight and off the trigger. The beavertail and trigger guard undercut both allow for a high and comfortable grip that will enable you to control the gun well. Flat trigger, nice controls, awesome grip! Also, it’s one of the few small weapons that doesn’t bite my hand all to hell. That’s the curse of having big hands. The sides of the grip are scalloped to allow for your thumb to sit alongside the grip without getting in the way. The magazine release is well placed it takes just a short jump of the thumb to activate it. The magazine release is something else. I love that I barely have to move my hand to activate it. The mags do drop free mechanically. However, my palm usually presses the mag against the grip, meaning it won’t drop free. Springfield Hellcat Fat hands blocking magazine from dropping free I have to open my hand kind of wide to get it out of the way for the magazine to drop free. The grip itself fills my hand well and is super comfortable. The flush-fitting magazine is a bit short for my hands, and after shooting with it, I attached the pinky extension. That made a big difference in how the gun handled for me and was much easier to shoot with a slightly longer grip. The pinky extension is the perfect fit. Moving up to the slide, I am a big fan of the serrations. They are deep and aggressive, and the rear serrations also go over the top of the slide. Serrations on the Hellcat are deep, aggressive, and all over the slide On a small slide, the top serrations make it easy to reload with and to rack. They dig into your hands and allow you to get a great grip even when you are moving fast. Accuracy On the Range At first, I was hitting low and left, classic signs of a flinch. I’ve been ignoring handguns for a little bit and focusing a lot on rifles and shotguns. After my first 50 rounds, I took some time to dry fire and practice my trigger pull a bit. Always practice your dry fire skills! Even with my flinch, the gun was consistently highly accurate. I shot a round of Dot Torture at seven yards, and while my flinch wasn’t helping the test, the weapon grouped brilliantly. For example, take a peek at number 9. This portion of the drill required me to draw and then shoot, reload, and shoot number 10. That three-round group was fired rapidly and shows how consistent the gun is. Springfield Hellcat group, nice! The sights and trigger are fantastic. The trigger is flat-faced, and the pull is short with a solid wall. It’s a very comfortable trigger that lacks any grit of sponginess to it. The flat-faced trigger design is comfortable, too, without any bite from the safety blade. The U Dot sights are quick and eye-catching. They are also easy to focus on, and that makes getting and keeping front sight focus quite easy. Springfield Hellcat rear sight Front sight focus leads to consistent shooting, and ultimately a high degree of accuracy. From a practical perspective, I backed off to 25 yards and landed headshots into an FBI Q target, and it was hardly a challenge, to be honest. FBI Q Target, 20 Pack 24 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 24 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing Not to brag, but the gun does most of the work. Recoil and Handling? Recoil is very mild and pain-free. Small guns can slap hard, but the Hellcat is plenty comfortable . It’s a gun you could train hard with and not feel fatigued or pain in your hands. The gun does have some muzzle rise, but with double taps, I could keep it in the heart and lung zone of a man-sized target. It’s a controllable handgun that even a novice shooter will enjoy. A few days and several hundred rounds later, I ran through a few more drills, and a lot focused on speed. The sight configuration, low recoil, and manageable muzzle rise all combined to create a controllable and accurate gun. I’ve gotten in the habit now of running drills during reviews. It allows me to test the gun and allows me to train. With the Hellcat, I did Dot Torture, the iHack, Changing Gears, and the famed El Presidente. I shot it four times, and I did fail once. The drill has to be shot in under 10 seconds, and I hit 10.21 in one of the runs. The gun was plenty accurate, and I landed every shot on my free Sage Dynamics torso targets. I haven’t run the El Presidente in years but still managed to pass with an 8.67, 9.98, and a 9.78. The gun was easy to draw from, and I shot the drill from concealment. I also used the Reckoning IWB holster. The holster and gun provided a good enough fit to allow me to grip the gun and clear leather without a problem. Reliability? I’ve put 450 rounds of the cheapest ammo I’ve ever seen through this gun. It’s filthy, it’s steel case, and it’s dry as hell. That ammo is Winchester Forged . Winchester Forged 115gr 9mm 29 at Lucky Gunner Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 29 at Lucky Gunner Compare prices (2 found) Lucky Gunner (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing It was dirt cheap to buy by the 500 round brick, so I grabbed a crate’s worth. It’s rough on guns, and I think that makes it an excellent choice for testing reliability. The Hellcat ate it up. Four hundred rounds isn’t a lot of ammo in the long run, but 300 rounds were put through the gun in one morning, and it didn’t even hiccup. The gun fired round after round without any lubrication. I live so close to the beach that I’m surrounded by sand, and the gun has gotten a good bit of that. Dropping magazines on the reload means they get full of sand, as does the weapon eventually. I’ve started to feel the grit of the sand in the gun as I began to finish Friday’s range session. I could feel it as I racked the slide and loaded magazines. Yet the gun ran fine, it needs a bath for sure, but it runs. If you want some better 9mm suggestions…check out our Best 9mm Ammo for Plinking & Self-Defense . 9mm 147 Federal Hydrashok HST By The Numbers Ergonomics 4/5 Ergonomically the gun is sound in most ways. It’s comfortable to hold, everything is easy to reach, and the weapon is not painful to use. I deducted a point because the slide lock is placed so far rearward my thumbs ensures it won’t do its job. Accuracy 4/5 For a carry gun, it’s superbly accurate. When compared to something like a full-sized 1911, you’ll likely find the 1911 a little easier to shoot. The trigger and sights are great, but the sight radius is shorts and limits what you can do. Reliability 5/5 Not a single issue, even when faced with the crappiest ammo, I could toss at it. The gun runs, even when it’s slowly becoming sandy inside and out. Customization 1/5 It’s a brand new gun, what exactly can we do to it? It has a rail for lights and lasers, so it gets one point anyway. Looks 3.5/5 It’s a small, black striker-fired gun. It’s okay looking, kind of Spartan in design. Not a bad thing as this is the most unimportant category. It’s no Hi-Power, or CZ 75. Price 5/5 It’s priced very competitively for what it is. The OSP’s MSRP is $599 and comes ready for a red dot. The standard model has an MSRP of 569, making it slightly cheaper than it’s current competition. Overall 4.5/5 The Hellcat is an immensely fun gun. It’s easy to handle and shoot. It functions brilliantly, has terrific sights, and disappears under your t-shirt. It’s perfectly sized for all shooters and will likely be a homerun for Springfield Armory. Conclusion The Springfield Hellcat is gunning for the SIG P365, and with a competitive price, a comfortable, yet diminutive frame, and stellar accuracy, it’s a winner. We only wish there were more upgrades available right now for this brand-new gun, but we foresee that changing. Springfield Hellcat 9mm 500 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 500 at Palmetto State Armory Compare prices (2 found) Palmetto State Armory (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing The sights are fantastic, the over the top serrations are an excellent addition, and the removal of the grip safety was a step forward for the XD series. Honestly, the XD series was always kind of boring to me, I’m a hammer-fired kind of guy, and the XDs were (mostly) striker-fired ladies. The new Hellcat has gained my attention and pleasantly surprised me. It’s going to give SIG a run for their money. Competition is always good, and hopefully, this presses other companies into action to make and form their Micro Compacts. What is your top Micro or Sub-Compact? Who do you want to see release the next Micro? We have lots of awesome CCW content, from holsters to new guns – take a look at the Concealed Carry Definitive Guide !
Summary: Probably the most widely used hunting backpack out there, the Badlands Superday Pack is truly one of the best daypacks currently on the market. Badlands has long had a reputation for producing backpacks that are superior to almost all others in terms of quality, craftsmanship and construction. Still, considering the huge range of quality hunting backpacks available nowadays, this daypack might not be the best for everyone, which is why we’ve produced this "Badlands Superday Pack" review to allow you to see if it’s along the lines of what you’re looking for. Before we get into reviewing the specific features of the Superday Pack though, it’s first important to look at some of the basics. Badlands Superday Pack Review The Badlands Superday Pack features a total of three compartments and seven pockets, which provide a total carrying capacity of 1950 cubic inches. Like many other hunting and trail backpacks, one of the pockets on the Superday Pack is designed to hold up to a 100-ounce water bladder. The pack has two main compartments of roughly equal size, as well as a smaller compartment located on the front of the pack. Numerous functional storage pockets and compartments Extremely comfortable and well-designed Super quiet, durable construction Backed by a lifetime warranty A bit on the expensive side (but well worth the price) Storage and Features On the Superday Pack, the two main compartments are located one in front of the other, with the back compartment being home to the water bladder pocket. The front compartment features two smaller pockets, one open mesh pocket and one zippered mesh pocket, both of which are quite easy to reach to make sure your gear is always readily accessible. The pack also features pockets on each side, perfect for holding binoculars , rangefinder, water bottles or any other gear you want to keep more readily available. In addition to all of the compartments and pockets, the pack also has a quite unique feature not found on many other packs—a gun boot or bow holder. This smaller cloth pocket located on the front of the pouch can be unbuckled to hold the butt of your gun or your bow, with additional buckles located near the top of the pack to help keep the weapon strapped securely to the pack. Another unique feature of the Superday Pack is that it is designed for hunters who carry a pistol or handgun around with them in addition to their rifle or bow, as the pack has pistol holders located on the left and right side of the hip belt, in addition to the easy to access hip belt pockets. The pack also features five external compression straps that help to tighten and secure your load. Although the number of compartments may seem a bit small, this pack has been designed in such a way that you should easily be able to hold all the extra gear you need with no issue. As well, each pocket features mesh gussets to keep your items secured in place and preventing them from spilling out when the compartment is open. The zippers on this pack are also a unique feature, as they are sewn on backwards to help reduce the noise they make when opening. In fact, they make virtually no noise at all. In addition, the pull on each zipper conveniently stores in its own little pocket when the zipper is closed, which helps to reduce noise caused by the pull moving around and also helps to make the zipper more waterproof. Considering all of the excellent features and storage options, it’s quite clear why the Superday is hands-down one of the most popular hunting daypacks out there. Still, it does have a few minor drawbacks, specifically the fact that it lacks an internal frame, meaning you’ll definitely feel the weight on your shoulders if you try to carry too much in this pack. Nonetheless, very few daypacks of this style and size feature frames, so if you are looking for something with an internal frame, you’ll likely need to upgrade to something slightly larger like the Badlands 2200 . Comfort The Superday Pack features a molded foam suspension that helps it to perfectly conform to the body’s contours, offering an ergonomically designed fit that ensures total comfort. Even when carrying a full, heavy load, the suspension and padded shoulder straps and hip belt help to evenly distribute the load and keep the pack from digging into your shoulders. In fact, the design of this pack is so good that even with a full load, you’ll hardly feel like you’re carrying anything at all once the pack is properly adjusted. All in all, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more comfortable, well-designed backpack. Durability One area where the Superday Pack really stands out is in terms of durability. The fabric and overall construction are incredibly strong and designed to stand the test of time. Still, no matter how ruggedly constructed a pack is, there is always the chance that it could rip, tear or break somehow. However, this is an issue you’ll never have to worry about if you choose this pack or any other Badlands backpack, as all of the company’s products are backed by its lifetime warranty, which states: “we will fix it for free forever. We don’t care if you bought it at a second-hand store, if we can’t fix it, we will replace it.” It really doesn’t get much better than that. Value for the Money Considering just how well it performs, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the Badlands Superday Pack generally sells for around $200. While this may seem like a lot to pay for a daypack at first glance, when you consider just how durable and versatile this bag really is, the price suddenly starts to sound much more reasonable. Of course, once you take into account Badlands’ lifetime warranty, then you can really start to see the overall value in this exceptional pack. Is it worth the price? Most definitely, as it could very well be the last hunting backpack you’ll ever have to buy. As you can see from this Badlands Superday Pack review, there are a number of excellent reasons that many experts consider this to be hands-down, the single best hunting backpack out there. Still, don’t just take our word for it, as you’ll surely be sold the first time you try it out. Contents Badlands Superday Pack Review Storage and Features Comfort Durability Value for the Money
That’s right. This is an over-review. Damien has given us a snapshot review of a variety of MI products in one post. Without further ado: Midwest Industries is very well known throughout the gun community, and for very good reason. They make some quality products at a very affordable price compared to the industry leaders such as Geissele and others. We are going to look at a few of their products and give you a snapshot review of several product categories. How well does Midwest Industries fare as far as mid-level accessories? For this review, they sent me a QD scope mount and a set of their Combat Iron Sights. I purchased a 9.5” handguard and their MRO QD Mount with my own cash money. Let’s take a look: MI Combat Handguard: T marks on every other space. Most likely will never use it, but it’s a great thing to have. Needs to be on every rail! Let’s start with the MI Combat Handguard as I feel like affordable handguards are one of the best upgrades you can give your rifle. The Combat Handguard is a smooth, sleek, and cool looking handguard. I appreciate the no-frills approach to the design. There are “T” Markings on every other rail section that runs the full length of the rail at the 12 o’clock position, and MLOK slots all the way around. You also have 2 QD sling slots at the beginning of the handguard. The rail comes standard with a small section of picatinny rail for you to attach anywhere on the MLOK slots, a nice addition. There are little dimples milled into the rail between the MLOK slots and I think it breaks the look of it up enough to make the rail very aesthetically pleasing. The handguard is definitely a slim profile and allows for people even with small hands to very easily grip the rifle. The handguard is also very lightweight coming in at 8.3 ounces . My AR pistol feels very balanced or almost a little heavy in the rear. If you are wanting to lighten up your rifle, this would be a great place to start. The handguard is made from 6061 aluminum, and the barrel nut and torque plate are made from 4140 heat-treated steel. Little room on either side of the gas block as it hugs the gas block tight. Have not had it touch while shooting. Installation of the handguard really couldn’t be any easier. Twist the barrel nut on and torque to spec with the supplied barrel nut wrench. During installation, I found the wrench would slip off of the small notches in the barrel nut and it would deform metal on the barrel nut a bit. The fact is, the wrench was slipping. It did manage to scratch the inside of my handguard because of the raised metal. If Midwest could make the notches a little bit bigger so the wrench has more to bite onto, that would go a long way for installation… on all of the handguards I have installed, it seems to slip off right as you get to the proper torque spec. Once the rail is slid over the barrel nut, there is a plate that you put in a small slot underneath the handguard where the screws go to clamp the handguard to the barrel nut. It appears the torque plate is used to allow you to clamp the handguard nice and tight without warping the barrel nut itself. From there its just tightening the two screws and you’re good to go! Like I said earlier, the handguard is very slim, I have not had any issues with the handguard touching the gas block. There is some flex in the handguard but not a lot. It does require a decent amount of force to move the handguard. That may also be because it is short, your mileage may vary with a longer handguard. The small 1.5” outer diameter of the handguard allows me with size large hands in gloves, can get a full grip very easily. All in all, this is one of my go-to handguards and I would have no problem putting this on any of my rifles. It may not be perfect, but for the price, I am extremely happy with this handguard! Midwest Industries "Combat Iron Sights" : The Midwest Industry low profile sights are a great addition to any rifle Let’s talk about the MI Combat Iron sights … I’m a younger shooter, so I am new school and know that red dots and LPVOs are the way to go… so for me, iron sights are an afterthought. That being said, I know that iron sights are important, and having a good set is invaluable to a rifle that you may have to depend on one day. The Midwest Industries Combat Iron Sights are a low profile steel sight set. They are very slick looking and appear very durable. Some irons such as the Magpul Pro’s have two aperture sizes… a large aperture for close/low light shooting, and a small one for more precise shooting at distance. The iron sights from Midwest industries have an aperture size in-between a small and a large aperture. This still allows you to maintain some accuracy at distance while being large enough to quickly find your target through the sights up close or in low light. These sights are very lightweight coming in at 1.4 and 1.2 ounces for the rear and front sight. When they are folded down, the rear sight will very easily fit under any scope you put in your rifle. The base of the sights is made from 6061 aluminum and the actual sight post that you flip up is made from “ordnance” grade steel according to the website, so these sights will be very durable! The low profile sights sit very low and out of sight when you don’t need them. A small thing to note for these sights. I don’t know if it was just my eyes (my guess) or if there is some reason for it. When I had the irons on my AR pistol at first, I had them about the distance of a fixed iron sight carbine length AR or closer, and I could not use the sights. My eyes would not focus on them properly and I just couldn’t see. Don’t know if anyone else will have the same experience or not, but just wanted to throw it out there. (editor: the closer the front sight is to the shooter, the more difficult it is to focus on. The larger the aperture the less depth of field as well. It’s best practice to extend your irons as far apart as possible. Sight Radius! Some things never change.) Midwest Industries QD scope mounts: I am doing the MI 30 MM scope mount and MRO Mount in the same section because they share the same pros and cons. I didn’t think you guys would like to read the same section twice basically. Initial Group with Tango6T on Midwest mount. The low shot was pulled hard. First group with MRO after sighting in with new ammo I would consider the Midwest industries QD mounts to be one of the leaders in the industry, especially for the money. They are extremely popular for a reason. I feel these mounts are what people think of when they hear “Midwest Industries.” The MRO Mount is very light at only 2 ounces with the 30 mm scope mount weighing in at 8.4 ounces. Both mounts have been good to me once tightened properly. The best thing about the MI QD mounts is the ability to remove them from your rifle and put them back without losing zero. "The Midwest Industries" mounts have exceeded my expectations for that! I have removed my optics and experienced little to no shift in POA/POI. Unfortunately, the pictures I have for the MRO mount don’t do it justice, and I am absolutely going to throw excuses out because of it. When I got the pictures recently, I wasn’t in the most friendly conditions for target shooting. I was in a hurry, the sun was shining DIRECTLY ON MY FACE, it was super dusty and I couldn’t see the target very well. I managed to get a few decent groups at 50 yards with my pistol while I was sighting in with my new lot of Barnaul steel cased ammo, and then when I did the group for the test, I shot like crap. You get what you get. There was little to no shift, I just had two fliers, one high and one low. Otherwise, the group stayed in the same spot. As for the scope mount, shooting groups were a little easier with a 6 power scope. In the first picture, there are 6 holes, I moved hard on the first shot for whatever reason and dropped it bad. Don’t count that. As a matter of fact, in the comparison picture, I cover it with the rifle so you don’t see it. The group stayed in the same spot. I have removed the scope many times and successfully shot the 300 yards 10” steel after mounting it again and again. It definitely retains zero with no drama. Group after removing and reinstalling the MRO. No shift in the group. Just bad shooting on my part Covered the low shot with clever placement of the rifle. Group did not move. I do have one complaint though. In my experience with both mounting systems, if the tension wasn’t set properly, it would slide on the pic rail with what little play there is. I have the mount and the receiver marked with a sharpie. After a range session, I looked at the mount and the marks were not lined up. I tightened the screw one turn which felt like it was too tight and clamped it down. It hasn’t moved since. I am afraid of warping my rail and didn’t want to tighten it too tight as the instructions just say to not force it to close. It takes a considerable amount of pressure to close it, but one move back to the prior setting and it wants to move. I’m guessing you have to have it just a LITTLE tighter than you think to keep it mounted properly. Despite being very tight , the lever operation is still very smooth. Using the clamping system is pretty straightforward. You push the safety tab and pull the lever to release it, and to clamp it down, you just push the lever closed. Manipulation of this can be done with one hand with a decent amount of hand strength. When you want to take off the scope mount, however, I have found it to be easier to release the front lever first, then the back lever. Otherwise, the back lever likes to get in the way of releasing the front lever. Fit and finish on the mounts is superb. They look like they are an anodized black and it is very smooth and durable. They match up very well with the rest of the rifle. Final Thoughts I have not been disappointed with any of the Midwest industries products I have. Once I tightened the mounts properly, they became rock solid. The handguard feels great in your hands, and I think it is a good looking handguard. I would prefer the barrel nut to have a little bit more material to bite on to when I’m tightening it so I don’t slip and bust more knuckles, but I’ll live. The irons are of high quality, lay flat, and simplify AR15 iron deployment… no more flipping apertures for different lighting conditions. The quality of all of their products and return to zero ability from the optic mounts are second to none and I will be buying more in the future. I Highly recommend Midwest Industries for upgrades that offer great performance for the buck. Editor: TNR and our authors do not and have never had a financial relationship whatsoever with Midwest Industries. I would like to thank Midwest Industries for the T&E and if you are interested check them out at their website or at Brownells. Share: Google Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit More Tumblr LinkedIn Pocket Email Print