Category Archives: Weapons Accessories

Ay, yi yi yi yi Relief….

This guy seems to shop at al-Bubba the gunsmith:

Aye Relief


These ISIL imb-isils are answering the shouted question, “How many brain cells have you got?” Note the cat in the second line with two fingers, and the guy in the back, behind the clown with the Syrian-flag headband, holding up all five fingers? They’re the brains of this outfit.

But Bubba is their armorer. Putting the scope where the rail is, not where the scope needs to be, is a bit like the drunk who was looking for his car keys a couple of blocks from where he lost them, “because there’s a streetlight here!” Let’s zoom in a little closer on this lash-up, because the picture’s kind of dark. We’ll lighten it with an Auto Levels tool and see if that helps the Bubba job stand out (it embiggens, but has lousy resolution).


The scope is on a who-needs-a-jeezly-cheekweld height mount, and seems to be mounted at an angle to the bore better measured in degrees than in Minutes of Angle or Miliradians. But wait, what’s that opposite the scope?

Why, yes, it is two fore-grips, because Allah helps those who keep a grip, evidently. The clown is gripping a Grip-pod, and right behind it there’s a folding grip, which looks to us like the Command Arms product. (Funny. Grip-pod doesn’t list ISIL when they mention “Who Uses Grip-Pod“. We thought “there is no such thing as bad publicity!”)

And, of course, for extra Tactical Operator fetish points, al-Bozo here is pulling the old two-magazines-and-electrical-tape spare ammo storage trick. Somewhere, Gecko45 just had a nocturnal emission.

This Arab assclown is undoubtedly more of a threat to himself and those around him than he is to any enemy other than an unarmed child, but then, that’s the history of Arab arms in a nutshell, isn’t it?

Despite that, these inept brain-deads have been beating, defeating, hell, clobbering, the guys that were well disposed to us in particular and to civilization in general. We live in interesting times.


Brownell’s “Edge” — Like Amazon Prime, but for Us.

If you’d like us, at some time or other you’ve probably thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if Brownell’s or Midway had something like Amazon Prime.” Wouldn’t it?

Well, Midway hasn’t been heard from yet, but Brownell’s now does offer such a thing; they call it Brownell’s Edge.


In the gun and sporting goods world, deals like this can be good or not so good. For example, Sportsman’s Guide has a “Member’s Only” club which we found to be an incredible pain in the neck to operate. Coupled with the cellar-dweller quality of much of their merchandise, we let it lapse. So how does Edge stack up?

Amazon Prime is the daddy of loyalty programs. Prime’s “killer app” — free two-day shipping on most in-stock items — is a sweeter deal than Brownell’s is offering under Edge. Instead, with Edge you get free standard shipping, and discounts (the size of which do not seem to have been revealed) on 2-day or overnight shipping. There are also surcharges for FFL or signature-required items. (Of course, Amazon’s deal might be better, but Amazon is hostile to ambivalent towards firearms-related products. At least you know Brownell’s likes taking your money, something  that’s always in doubt with Amazon).

Free or discounted shipping, then, is the keystone of Brownell’s Edge offering, and the math is simple: are you likely to spend more than $50 this year on shipping? If so, Edge is probably a win for you. If not, it’s a loss. (What Brownell’s may be hoping is that all of us sign up for Edge and then make damn sure we buy enough tools and supplies that we earn back our $50. That was certainly Amazon’s plan for Prime, but they wound up losing money on it).

We did a quick look at Brownell’s, throwing some parts and tools we needed in our cart. A High Standard slide stop spring, a set of roll pin starters (we’ve gotten away with not having those, but they are convenient). $55 worth of tools. $8 worth of shipping. So we’d need a little over six orders this year to pay for Edge. That’s borderline for us — we have a metric crapton of tools already — but the temptation to “get something for nothing” is strong (despite it being as great a violation of God’s natural order as a perpetual motion machine, “something for nothing” still exerts a siren’s call).

There is one more benefit to Edge, that can pay for itself sooner, later or never. That is free return shipping, if you order the wrong thing. Those of us who are infallible don’t need this, but you guys out there may benefit.  Seriously, for the working gunsmith or armorer, ordering an extra or a mistaken part, or having a customer/client/cop/op change his mind about, say, a set of sights, is pretty routine. Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Hey, Jerry, those Trijicon sights for your Glock came in. Stop by and I’ll set ‘em up for you.”

“Oh, geez. I got a new one and it came with night sights, so I don’t need ‘em.”

“Well… okay then, keep us in mind.” Click. $%^$!! Now we gotta pay to ship ‘em back….

If you’re that guy, at least now you can send the sights back without paying shipping. Brownell’s Edge lets you print an RMA label and stick it on the box, and off it goes, with Brownell’s eating the return postage (hoping that they’ve capitated these costs adequately when they offered this for $50).

Hat tip, Tam, on whose site we first heard of this.

In addition to the Edge launch, Brownell’s is flagging four items as SHOT Show launches (the show opens today). They are:

  • Brownell’s own .308 magazine, for KAC/SR-25/M110/Mk11/DPMS type ARs;
  • Truglo TFX night sights, for several common defensive pistols;
  • The X-Products Can Cannon;
  • The X-Products 50-round drum for Colt-style 9mm lowers;
  • Several “Grace” brand premium tools with wood handles.

Big News From MagPul: Glock Mags

MagPul has had several announcements of new products. We’ve featured their video press release on the D-60 60-round AR drum, because the product tickled our fancy. On the other hand, we initially let their AK announcement slide. There were two reasons that we might have included it here: (1) it’s a big deal that they have an AK product line, and it will give tacticool AK fans an alternative to TAPCO, and (2) the video is hell for clever, and humorous, and God knows we haven’t had enough grins lateley, and there are plenty in this. So we’ll run the video now, even though we didn’t run it here when they first put it up.

Now, there was one reason we didn’t originally run the video: the video was great, but the product didn’t excite us all that much. We’re not huge fans of the AR Stock of the Week club, and while we like Magpul’s mags, they didn’t announce mags for the AK. That got us thinking about why they didn’t announce AK mags at the same time as they made a humorous video launching their stocks. As we see it, the possibilities are:

  1. They don’t think there’s a market at all. AK owners tend to be bottom feeders, mag-wise; they buy dirt-cheap surplus mags, or cheap-in-both-senses TAPCO ones. Is there a void at the top of the market? If so, is it large enough for a new mag to have a positive NPV, considering tooling costs?
  2. They don’t think they could be price-competitive. Not only do their top-line AR mags sell for more than the popular AK mags, their budget-line AR mags do, too. We’d guess an AK mag (with its greater size) would cost more in material and take more machine time; we doubt they’d be able to bring it in for less than their AR mags.
  3. They’re planning to launch an AK mag, but it wasn’t ready for SHOT. Strong probability, because our instinct tells us there is a narrow niche at the top of the AK mag quality continuum, and Magpul with their brand ID could own that niche.
  4. They’re planning to launch an AK mag, but, Steve Jobs-style, they’re holding the Big Reveal for last (Jobs was legendary for his presentations that would seem near winding up, and he’d say, “Wait. There’s one more thing… ” and a roomful of Apple fanboys would go nonlinear. Under this scenario, the AK mag will hit Magpul’s facebook on Sunday night and be there to greet SHOT attendees on Monday. That’s our guess, and we have friends looking for stuff.

CORRECTION: Uh, we’re as dumb as a box of rocks. The reason Magpul didn’t announce AK mags is because they already have AK mags. In fact, it seems that they’re in their second generation of them. D’oh. Thanks to Shawn at for catching our error.

End of Correction.

Having a diverse product line has other benefits for a company so tightly wedded to injection-molding technology. Injection-molding tools and machinery are very expensive, but they need to run all day to earn back the investment in them. Many products means you can respond flexibly to the market, without idling machines for longer than a die change.

But the BIG News from the Colorado Escapees…

…Has to be the Magpul Glock mag. They teased it yesterday morning with this image on their Facebook page.

Magpul Glock Teaser

Then they announced at noonish yesterday. Video, with the soundtrack of a somewhat incongruous Jobim standard where the industry is fixated on death metal:

There’s no voiceover on the video, which makes us wonder if it was put together in hell-for-a-hurry.

And Da Facts:

The PMAG 17 GL9 is a 17 round Glock 9mm handgun magazine featuring a new proprietary all-polymer construction for flawless reliability and durability over thousands of rounds. High visibility anti-tilt follower, SS spring, easily removable floorplate for cleaning, Dot matrix for mag marking, ridged floorplate edges for better grip, 17rd indicator windows. Drops free loaded or unloaded. The same boring reliability you expect from an OEM magazine. MSRP $15.95

If you’ve ever paid $30 to feed your Glock, this has got to be tried out. The factory Glock mag is polymer overmolded on steel internal parts, which is part of why it’s so expensive. (Overmolding is high-value-added as injection molding goes). The Magpul mag has no overmolding — it’s plastics all the way down.

The Glock magazine is one of the cornerstones of Glock reliability. Gaston Glock understood in a way that the US Army does not understand that the magazine is an absolutely critical component of the interactive, even resonant system that is an autoloading firearm. (The mags for the AR system were originally intended to be single-use disposable). Glock mags are built like Glock’s knives and shovels (which ought to be more famous. The Glock field knife is a baby Ka-Bar). So MagPul has struck the king here, and struck him in one of his highest-margin fiefdoms. If they’ve got it right we’ll soon know, and the sad panda flag will be flying over the accountants’ cubicles in Deutsch-Wagram.

One last note to put a smile on your face: these mags will generate a lot of sales — many millions of dollars — and a lot of work hours and workers’ income, and of course, corporate revenue and, one hopes, profits. There will be some new pickup trucks in the Magpul lot in 2015, and somebody’s going to get a new kitchen or a big-game hunt out of it. And all that stuff is going to get taxed to some degree or another, and not a dime of those taxes will go where they would have gone, to the state of Colorado and jurisdictions within, if John Hickenlooper and his legislative loyalists had not declared war on the 2nd Amendment. That’s economic growth that Hick and friends chose to, shall we say, out-grow. But hey, he thinks magazines like this are a crime wave in the making, so they’re banned in Colorado anyway.

Yikes. Magpul Launches 60-Round Drum

Well, we guess we all know what Magpul is letting out of the bag at SHOT next week. The video dropped at about 1300 Eastern Time yesterday, and we don’t know anything else about it. It’s a 60-round drum with a loading lever to allow “easy” hand-loading. They show it with ARs, a 416 (wait, that’s an AR, HK fanboys!) and a SAW.

Looks like you could definitely melt a barrel with a few of these things. Looks like Magpul got close.

It’s pretty bulky. There are good drums on the market already, including a couple with NSNs, but drums tend to have problems as practical mags. (When we tried to use them in SF, it was as a single mag to use gaining fire superiority as part of an ambush drill. We wound up regressing to standard capacity, 30-round magazines).

Some of the drums out there work well, and each has some pros and cons. But none of them has Magpul’s name and brand recognition behind it. Maybe we need to gather a few drums for a drum-off?

PPShooting Around Corners

Waffen Revue 25 - StG44If you’re the kind of gun and history geek (hey! own it) we generally attract to the blog, you’re already familiar with the Krummlauf (“crooked barrel”) attachment to the German MP.44 series assault rifles.

The Krummlauf  is well-documented in books like Small Arms of the World, surviving period documents, and that sort of thing. It was made in several versions, differing in the degree of “bend” (30, 45, and 60º IIRC) and could be used for firing from cover (down), or the whole weapon could be turned over for firing around corners (sideways). It had its own 1.5x optic, and the extended, curved barrel was both vented for relief, and rifled.

Whether it was intended for urban warfare (firing around corners in the assault), armored warfare (firing from behind cover in a halftrack) or positional warfare (firing from trenches) is a matter of speculation. The problem with this kind of specialized weapon, for the Germans or anybody, is that you only need it once in a while, but you have to carry it all the time. That is, if you’re going to have any hope of having it with you on the rare occasion when you do need it.

There’s a number of surviving Krummlauf attachments and MP44 Krummlauf hosts, at least a half dozen, with at least two on the NFA registry (there are probably more that those numbers). One was auctioned recently by Rock Island and has a very complete description, with an explanatory video by Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, on its auction page.

grease_gun_around_corners_ps_march_52The US experimented with something similar, but vastly simpler. We deleted the German prismatic sight, and didn’t even make a complete barrel, creating something more like a bullet trough for a spray of 230-grain solids to go off in the general direction of the enemy. This has been widely reported to have been done by the OSS. The historical writeups are thinner than on the Krummlauf, but they’re there. The gun seems to have first come to public attention in the Korean War era. For example, it was featured in Popular Science magazine in March, 1952 (image left). The article suggests that the gun was meant to be used, and hints that there might have been an optic, but, “Sights are secret.” The gun was also featured in LIFE in 1953, and those photos turn up online here and there.

LIFE OSS curved barrel

But we never knew until we stumbled over it on the excellent site, that there were at least two Russian variants of the same thing for the PPSh-41, which was made in staggering quantities. Unlike the common PPSh, these variations are extremely rare, probably for the same reasons of impracticality that limited distribution of the German and American ones. The more sophisticated showed a similar design approach to the Krummlauf, with the added benefit of being easily convertible in direction. This video shows the gun:


The second was a bent-down version, called in one reference the Model 1945, that looks more like a gimmick than a real, working gun.

ppsh-45 curved

It honestly looks like someone heated and bent a regular PPSh. (As we’ve seen from our recent M4 at Wanat series, heating barrels can be A Bad Thing®).


We’d love to have the whole who-shot-John on these, but we don’t. Maybe some commenters can help.

One of the most interesting questions is this: were the American and Russian “corner guns” simply examples of convergent evolution, or did they come about after examining German Krummlauf units?

Ian notes, in his video about the Krummlauf, that the Germans tried doing an open trough like the later American Grease Gun modification, but gave it up and went with a rifled curved bore instead.

The SIG Brace / Not a Stock / ATF Letter Trip

donovan leitch 1967Remember the old Donovan song? Eh, unless you’re like us, old enough to remember the introduction of that new “dirt” stuff, maybe you don’t. The trippy 60s songwriter sang the very zen line:

First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

To which we’ve always mumbled, “Don’t take the brown acid….” (Sorry, another cultural flashback). Anyway, Donovan’s flickering mountain is a bit like the various ATF letters explaining their attitude to arm braces on AR pistols over the last couple of years, since they first provided a Firearms Technology Branch blessing to the Sig Brace.


First, it was a stock that made the gun an SBR, then it wasn’t a stock, then it was.
Then, it wasn’t a stock that made the gun an SBR, then it was a stock, then it wasn’t.

We’re not sure what to make of the ATF apparently taking up the recreational herbs and spices of the Sunshine Superman his ownself, but we’ve been whipsawed by the letters and haven’t written about them. Regulatory stuff is kind of boring, at least until ATF shows up looking for someone to feed their stats machine and settles on you. (And trust us on this: every Federal law enforcement agency has a stats machine, and it looks just like the one in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.)

Fortunately, the Prince Law Firm’s blog has been on it, and these guys are, like, real lawyers with bar cards, and ostentatious diplomas, and continuing education credits, and everything. Adam Kraut, Esq:

Well, it appears very clear that FTISB and ATF as a whole are paying very close attention to what people are doing and how they are utilizing products, including reviewing internet postings, pictures and videos. All of the stabilization/cheek enhancement products on the market have a legitimate purpose and have assumedly been approved by FTISB at some point. But, it appears that some individuals are not looking to purchase these products for their legitimate purpose and use and instead intentionally intend to misuse them from the moment they are purchased.

As was noticeably absent in the letter discussed in my blog post Cinderella and ATF’s Determination: The Fairy Tale of an AR Pistol to SBR through Magic, this letter does mention intent, in fact several times.

ATF didn’t appreciate people purchasing various stabilization products/cheek weld enhancements for the purpose of avoiding the payment of the NFA tax (which could constitute tax evasion). This is why the intent aspect, as stated in the definition, is important. If an individual purchases one of these products intending to use it in the manner for which it was made and then misuses it, as ATF previously held in the Bradley letter, he/she has done nothing illegal. There is no law dictating the end use of a product. However, if an individual purchases one of these products to install on their pistol and intends to use it as a faux stock, he/she has very clearly created an illegal SBR.

We think the consigliere has done a good a job as anyone can hope to of reading the ATF tea leaves, so we’ll leave it at that (do go Read The Whole Thing™).

Now, we’d like to make some comments about the ATF technology evaluation process in general. Kraut notices that they did something they usually don’t do, explicitly warn that this paper really isn’t worth more than the paper it’s printed on. He quotes commentary on the latest “brace” letter, this one to Thorsden Customs. What the letter itself (hosted at Prince Law) says, is:

In closing, we should remind you that the information found in correspondence from FTISB is intended only for use by the addressed individual or company with regard to a specific scenario described within that correspondence.

This is apparently new boilerplate. But the fact is, that is the nature of all ATF determinations. They are ephemeral, have no precedential value, and are only binding on citizens, not on the ATF. The ATF can, and does, overturn them at any time on nothing more than a whim, and the courts have rules that these will-o-the-wisp whims require near-absolute deference.

ATF-Molan Labe

Finally, a couple of exit thoughts: If the ATF didn’t take an elephant’s gestation to process SBR paperwork, maybe so many people wouldn’t be looking for an end-around. Want to increase compliance with the law? Make it easy and convenient. If somebody’s not making it easy and convenient, maybe they’re not really interested in increasing compliance with the law.

X Products AR Can Launcher

There’s modular, and there’s crazy modular. Here’s an AR upper with a twist — it contains a plugged, ported barrel, and launches an ordinary 12 oz. soft drink can out to 100 yards. Coming soon from X Products, you can preorder it (as an upper) now with a $20 deposit.


More fun than anyone should have… The Can Cannon is a patent pending launching device that uses a propriatary gas ported barrel and pressure tube to launch heavy, thin wall objects, without burning a hole in them or directing hot gas directly into them. Currently set up for launching full un-opened 12oz soda cans, when used with standard mil spec blanks it can reach an average distance of 105 yards!
Why would you launch a soda can? Because it’s fun! Plus, it’s an incredibly fast and fun decoy to shoot at. Every demonstration leads to more smiles and laughs than any product we’ve ever introduced. BATFE approved design is not considered a Destructive Device or firearm.

via AR-15 Soda Can Launcher – Accessories Launcher – X Products.

Expected cost of the whole thing will be $399 or less (again, this is upper only) and it works with GI M200 blanks.

X Products is, of course, well known for its line of 50-round drum magazines for ARs and various other rifles in 5.56, 7.62 and 9mm. One is shown above in the Can Launcher, and the one below is in a Black Rain Ordnance AR.

X-15_Drum_in_Black_Rain_Rear_ViewThe metallic X Products drums are heavy for a 50-round mag, but reliable (although they can be… selective… about the supposedly-STANAG weapons they’ll work with, X is pretty up-front with this information).

You’re probably wondering a few things. Like: how does X make this work? And how did they get ATF to sign off on this as a non-gun? And we wouldn’t be if we didn’t have answers for you.

That big, soda-can-caliber cylinder threads on like a free-floating fore-end, but the barrel of this AR is radically different. It’s short, and ported, and capped. When you drop a can in, it rests on the cap and creates a de-facto high-pressure-low-pressure system like that going on inside a 40mm grenade.

The blank’s high pressure in the barrel exits through the ports into the large area behind the can, pressurizing it and sending the can downrange with a satisfying toonk!

The pressure in the “low pressure chamber” behind the can is sufficient to launch the can.

The ATF, for their part, appears satisfied that the capped blanks-only barrel is not intended for live-ammunition use. (And indeed, if you tried it, you would not be pleased with the result).

There are videos of this in action at the link above. So, how much did we like it? Enough to put ourselves down for one:



We have absolutely no earthly, practical use for the thing (X Products suggests launching decoys for training gun dogs, but our dog only thinks he’s big enough to do that). But we are buying it because it’s neat, it will be fun if we can figure out where to shoot it, and because imagination ought to be encouraged, and we know no better encouragement than the profit motive.


A More Flexible Benchloader?

If you ever had to load hundreds (or thousands) of M16 magazines, the second greatest thing ever invented was the stripper clip and stripper-clip-guide system. The mag is easy enough to load by hand, but it’s time-consuming to do it by onesies. Still, the GI system is only the second-best. The best is Maglula’s machined Benchloader, if you’ve got loose rounds: drop the mags in, drop the rounds in, schoooonk, you’re done. Machinery FTW! How it works is not rocket surgery, but here’s a link to a demo of the device from Brownells so you can see it in action; it’s .mp4 video so we couldn’t embed it in WordPress. And here’s a photo of it:

maglula benchloader

Standard Benchloader

The Israeli company’s patented (7,059,077) Benchloader has had two limitations: the first is range of mags. The original Benchloader was limited to 30-round GI mags. It couldn’t handle the 20-round mags we still like (although we have an idea for an adapter), or newer things like Magpul PMags (people are always confusing Maglula and Magpul, but they’re entirely different companies), or even the near-GI-dimensions steel H&K Maritime mags that many SFers swore by in our day. So there’s a “standard” and a “universal” version, but the “universal” version just gets you a few other 30-round mags: HK 416/SAR-80; Beretta AR-70/90; and Magpul, Thermold, Orlite, and SIG polymers (we hear it works with Lancer polymers too, but Maglula doesn’t claim that). Note what it doesn’t work with: 20- and 40-round alloy mags, non-STANAG curvatures like the original 1960s Colt mags, any of the snail and drum mags, and Surefire Suomi-style mags.  And limitation two, it was X-Pensive. How expensive? Try $430, for either version. Not all our ARs cost that much!

"Universal" Benchloader

“Universal” Benchloader

Caldwell mag charger

Caldwell Mag Charger, a $70 plastic alternative.

If you handle a Benchloader, you see part of why it’s so costly. It’s machined from aluminum alloy,  anodized, and a precision product all around. And another contributor to the high price is that it has had little competition, at least until the 2013 introduction of the Caldwell Mag Charger, which is a little more fiddly but works with ammo dumped in from 50-round boxes. (Too bad GI ammo comes in 20-round boxes, if it’s not in strippers).

But now Maglula is introducing am injection-molded plastic version, the Range Benchloader, that promises to sell for about $170 and work with a wider range of magazines. Some blogs (like The Firearm Blog and MyGunCulture are claiming it works with Surefire mags, and we’re also hearing claims it works with Beta C-mags; we note that Maglula is not making those claims, yet*; we’d want to see it do it before we committed the money for that purpose. (We do note that graphite lube is critical to reliable functioning of C-mags, in our experience. The manufacture suggests a squirt every 20 rounds, and we’re not sure what the best way to do this with a Range Benchloader would be, without some experimentation).


Maglula rendering of the Range Benchloader

Note the polymer mag catch, and that the mag is free below that, allowing odd-shaped magazines -- in theory.

Note the polymer mag catch, and that the mag is free below that, allowing odd-shaped magazines — in theory.

We think that the Range Benchloader would ideally be attached to something beefier for loading larger mags, something that would support the mags in roughly the way the original Benchloader did, and we’re not sure how long its polymer magazine catch will hold up in real use.

We’re also not too sure how it will work with odd-shaped magazines. In theory, both it and the Caldwell entry can take them, but the Range Benchloader is designed with feet under it, to be laid on a range bench for support. The mag, if it were wider than STANAG, would have to hang off the edge of the bench. Would that work?

Underneath, the Range Benchloader has feet.

Underneath, the Range Benchloader has feet. It looks like it also has two sockets for permanently screwing down to a support or bench.

Only one way to know. Anybody want to see it tested against the original Benchloader and the Caldwell Mag Loader? It might be a while. Maglula has shown only these renderings, and is only promising the Range Benchloader in January, 2015. (The company also makes a variety of smaller loader/unloaders, particularly useful for all those double-stack pistol mags, and Benchloaders for some exotics, like Galils or those AUGs and G36s that use non-STANAG mags. They also make an ingenious loader that applies GI stripper clips to Mini-14 magazines. Here’s a link to a .pdf of their one-page 2014 catalog).

* the Maglula page on the Range Benchloader only claims compatibility of the same mags already claimed for the Universal Benchloader, plus the Lancers we mentioned above: specifically “M16 / AR15 / M4 USGI (NATO STANAG 4179); Magpul PMAG; Lancer; H&K metal 416/SA80; Beretta AR 70-90; Thermold; Orlite; SIG Arms (black AR mags). Maglula also notes that it comes with a carry case.

A King’s Ransom (Rest)

You could not read The American Rifleman or other high-end gun periodicals in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s without noticing that, when the writers were serious about measuring the accuracy of a handgun, they used a machine rest, and often mentioned it by name: the Ransom Rest. A Ransom Rest is a handsome assembly of machined castings, and its purpose is to take much of the human factor out of accuracy testing, much like the more complicated and heavier machine rests the military uses for acceptance testing of rifles. Bolt it down to a bench, and human shooters’ individual variation in pistol accuracy is erased. This is what the base Master Series Ransom Rest looks like:

Ransom Rest

To use it, begin with a cleared and triple-checked pistol. Remove the grips from your pistol and with an appropriate grip insert mount the pistol in the rest, using the three “star nuts” on the left plate. There is a sequence to tightening the nuts, explained in the instructions. Adjust the trigger lever (big red handle) and the trigger release finger (small red plastic-covered rod) so that the release finger contacts the trigger at center and the trigger lever is about level behind the firearm. Then adjust the gun onto target with the bolts, and bolt it down. There are some small differences in setting up the rest for revolvers and auto pistols; Glocks and other polymer pistols need more settling shots than steel or alloy-framed pistols from which the grips are removable.

And this is how it’s used (there would probably be sand or shot bags on that board, if it were not bolted down; C-clamped beats shot bags, and bolts beat C-clamps):

Ransom in Action

After each shot, the muzzle will flip up. This is the Ransom’s recoil-absorbing design, and you return the rest (not touching the pistol or the trigger lever) to horizontal.

You should fire a cylinder or mag of rounds just to set the Ransom in, and adjust if necessary. (It’s amazing how recoil exposes what you thought was “tight enough” and really wasn’t). As a rule of thumb, it will take more rounds to settle a more powerful pistol. Until it has settled properly, the rounds will string along the vertical axis.

Ransom Rests are still made in today. The manufacturer appears healthy, and they stand behind their product; they’ll refurb your old Master Series rest or other Ransom rest at a fair price.  You can buy new Ransoms at Midway or Brownell’s. But you don’t see them nearly as much in gun reviews, these days. Why is that? We see several reasons:

  • Certainly part of it is the long-running cultural shift from revolvers to auto pistols. As we’ve shown in the past whilst quoting old magazines, revolvers had a much bigger market and mind share thirty years ago, and the Ransom Rest was originally conceived in the day when target shooting was dominated by revolvers. Even when they were supplemented and even replaced it was only by a single auto-pistol at first, the M1911, to which the Rest was readily adapted. Modern polymer pistols have been harder for the Rest to come to grips with (pun sort of intended).
  • With an auto pistol, the Rest is less accurate than a good shooter firing from a sandbag, unless it is re-sighted every shot (which it probably should be, anyway, but many reviewers don’t do that).
  • The shift in the center of gun-culture gravity from professional reviews to enthusiast reviews over the years has meant a corresponding decrease in data-driven information collection. Even as chronographs have become more affordable and usable, fewer reviews of guns and ammunition contain meaningful chrono data, and very few of them are atmospherically normalized to an ISO standard atmosphere, even though the math is trivial (and some of the e-chronos will do it automagically).
  • Fad and fashion. A lot of reviewers monkey-see, monkey-do their reviews. (Nothing wrong with that, if the review you’re copying is a thorough one. Everybody has a first day on the job).

Finally, they’re expensive. But the Ransom Rest is a pretty useful thing for several purposes. The company also makes a series of rifle rests that the benchrest community swears by.