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Understanding Handgun Calibers: The Definitive Guide

Looking to purchase a handgun, but not sure what caliber is best for you? In this article, we will go over some of the most common handgun calibers and make some recommendations for you about when to use each one.

Handguns are very widely used. They are commonly used for home defense, personal defense, and can be used for hunting as well. There are tons of different calibers out there, and it can get a little confusing.

Understanding Handgun Calibers- The Definitive Guide

Understanding Handgun Calibers- The Definitive Guide

We’ll get this started with common pistol calibers, from small to large.

.22LR

Yes, the rimfire cartridge commonly found in bolt action rifles. While not all that common, .22LR can be found in both pistols and revolvers. They don’t see much personal defense or home defense use because the round is so small, but they are pretty fun for just plinking around.

Due to the fact that the ammunition is readily available and pretty inexpensive, most people like their .22LR pistols and revolvers for range shooting. However, some people do decide to carry them. You know the old saying, the gun on you is better than the one in the gun safe. If you’ve got nothing else, carry a .22LR by all means, but you can certainly do better.

.380 ACP

Next up we’ve got another small round, the .380 ACP. These bullets are .355 inches in diameter, weigh between 90 and 100 grains, and are fired around 1000 feet per second. These projectiles are still very small, but the round is barely suitable for personal defense.

This round is commonly found in really small frame concealed carry pistols. Many of the pocket pistols and secondary weapons that you see are chambered in .380 ACP. I carry a .380, but only in the summer, when people are wearing less clothing. I would definitely recommend 9mm over .380 for personal defense, but .380 is acceptable.

However, for home defense, you aren’t worried about the size of the weapon, so I would recommend a larger caliber projectile.

9mm Luger

Now we’re getting into more widely used rounds. 9mm is one of the most common rounds in the world. The bullets are .355 inches diameter as well, but they weigh 115 to 130 grains, and are fired around 1100-1200 feet per second. These bullets are much larger and are fired faster, so this is a better round for any defense purposes.

9mm is a great round for range shooting and any defense purposes. There’s an absolutely gigantic array of weapons available, ranging from tiny carry weapons to full sized weapons. You can get a single stack carry weapon in 9mm, but also a double stack weapon with a 17+ round magazine capacity for home defense. For range shooting, the recoil is manageable, and the ammunition isn’t that expensive.

.40 Smith & Wesson

While this round is not nearly as common as it used to be, .40 Smith & Wesson is a pretty good round. The projectiles are .4 inches in diameter, weigh between 135 and 165 grains, and are fired around 1100 feet per second.

.40 S&W is sort of on the way out, due to the fact that 9mm offers such similar performance in a smaller frame. 9mm is a smaller round, so you are able to fit a few more in a magazine, while achieving similar ballistic results to the .40 S&W.

However, despite this fact, I still think that .40 S&W is a great round for any defense uses. I would shoot 9mm at the range over .40 S&W, but I feel very comfortably carrying around a .40 S&W weapon. There aren’t quite as many weapons out there, but they are suited great for personal and home defense uses.

.45 ACP

Now we’re getting into much larger cartridges. These projectiles are .451 inches in diameter, weigh between 165 and 185 grains, and are fired around 1050 feet per second, dependent on the round.

These are large, heavy bullets that are fired pretty fast. For this reason, they are great for defense uses and as a hunting sidearm.

Due to the size of the cartridge, there aren’t many .45 ACP weapons that are meant for concealed carry. There are a couple, but your magazine capacity is going to be extremely small. I would recommend .45 ACP for home defense, such as in a full-size 1911. This same weapon would be decent for a hunting sidearm, but slightly larger cartridges might perform a little better for this. .45 ACP will take care of smaller targets, but if you’re going to hunt deer with a handgun, you probably want a bigger round.

I’m not going to say you shouldn’t shoot .45 ACP at the range, but the ammunition is pretty pricey. Your wallet will probably thank you if you shoot a smaller cartridge.

10mm

This is the largest pistol cartridge we will talk about. There are some exceptions out there (looking at you, Desert Eagle), but 10mm is the largest pistol cartridge that is really commonly found. The projectiles are slightly smaller than .45 ACP, with a diameter of .40 inches. However, they are usually about the same weight, but are fired at 1200-1300 feet per second.

These projectiles generate a lot more energy because they are moving so much faster. In terms of terminal performance, .45 ACP is a larger bullet, so they create larger holes and damage more tissue, but these bullets are moving faster. It’s almost a tie between the two for which one does better in terms of ballistics.

However, I prefer 10mm for hunting because it retains energy over a longer distance. 10mm performs similarly to .45 ACP in terms of handgun hunting. Both are decent cartridges that can put a deer down, dependent on your shot. Personally, I like 10mm better due to the flatter trajectory, but both are decent.

Similar to the .45 ACP, 10mm is decent for defense uses. The round has a lot of recoil, so I wouldn’t recommend it for plinking at the range.

Let’s get into revolver rounds now.

Note: If you have a handgun, i think you should have best handgun safe to keep it safe. It’s very important.

.38 Special

These projectiles are .357 inches in diameter, weigh between 125 and 150 grains, and are fired around 950 feet per second. In terms of ballistics, these bullets are larger and heavier than 9mm bullets, but aren’t fired as fast. For the sake of comparison, it definitely outperforms .380 ACP.

Due to the similar performance, I would recommend this for the same uses as 9mm. It’s great for home defense, self defense, and range shooting. It’s a pretty commonly carried cartridge, because there are some tiny revolvers that are available in .38 Special.

.357 Magnum

Up next is another great defense round. The bullets are also .357 inches in diameter, and are commonly 125 or 158 grains, but they are fired much faster than .38 Special ammunition. These rounds are fired closer to 1200-1400 feet per second. For this reason, it is an even better defense round. It will do a ton of damage in tissue.

The revolvers are usually not that large, so you can carry them somewhat easily. They are great for home defense as well, and would definitely be fun to shoot at the range.

.44 Remington Magnum

These bullets measure .429 inches in diameter, weigh from 240 to 300 grains, and are fired between 1200 and 1400 feet per second. As you can see, these are some giant rounds that are being fired extremely fast.

While they aren’t as wide as .45 ACP pistol projectiles, they are significantly more heavy, and are fired significantly faster. This round is really devastating. However, as you can imagine, the cartridge itself is pretty large. It’s fired from much larger weapons, so you won’t find many people trying to conceal this.

When you get into these much larger revolver cartridges, you get more into handgun hunting. Due to the fact that the projectiles are so large and are fired so fast, many people do different kinds of hunting with these revolvers.

.44 Magnum is the first of our revolver cartridges that I would recommend hunting with. It will put down all different kinds of animals with relative ease. It’s an excellent choice.

However, this combination of size, weight, and speed also means that the round is good for home defense. While its certainly not my first choice to shoot at the range, it is a great revolver to have in the nightstand.

.454 Casull

Similar to the pistols, we won’t talk about the absolute largest revolver cartridges available (such as .460 S&W Magnum), but we will talk about .454 Casull, which is absolutely giant. The bullets are .452 inches in diameter, and are usually over 300 grains. They are fired at 1500 to 1600 feet per second.

Once again, these are fired out of huge revolvers. You could definitely hunt with these, and you can definitely defend your home with it as well. They are huge bullets, and will do all kinds of damage within a target.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope Review

In this article we will review this extremely popular riflescope from Vortex Optics. Vortex is very popular in the industry, and for good reason. They produce some extremely high quality optics, and are available at a pretty reasonable cost.

What Calibers Can You Build an AR-15

We will fully review the optic in terms of pros and cons, and make some buying recommendations.

The Features of Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40

vortex diamondback 4-12x40 review

vortex diamondback 4-12×40 review

This optic measures in at 12.8 inches long with a 40mm objective lens. The magnification range is from 4-12x, and the eye relief is 3.1 inches. Your field of view through the scope is 32.4-11.3 feet at 100 yards.

In terms of size, this scope is not that large, despite its magnification range. It has some weight to it, but compared to other scopes with similar magnification, this one is definitely around the same size. The eye relief is somewhat short, but it definitely works for shooting this scope.

  1. Highlights

The scope offers some excellent optical features. The internals of the scope are fully multi-coated. This allows for maximum light transmission, especially when paired with the large 40mm objective lens. To put it simply, this light allows maximum light to go through, so you will be able to clearly see everything through the scope.

Another huge pro of this scope is that the reticle is on the second focal plane. This means that while you change the magnification range, the scale of the reticle remains the exact same. Especially when you are using the bullet drop compensating reticle at longer distance, this is a huge pro for you.

Pros

One other thing to consider with the optical features of the scope is how acute the adjustments are. Each click of the turrets allow for a ¼ MOA adjustment. This translates to ¼ inch at 100 yards. As you can see, this is very precise. The turrets also allow for an easy return to zero, once you are done shooting at long distance.

However, the best feature of this scope is the durability. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, and the internals are contained within an aluminum housing that is given a hard anodized finish. This makes for a very tough scope that can withstand the elements and any amount of recoil that you can imagine.

Cons

In terms of the optics though, there are a couple cons that we found. For one, dependent on the range at which you zero the rifle, the parallax at close range makes the scope nearly unshootable. However, this scope really isn’t meant for shooting at close range, as evidenced by the minimum 4x magnification.

Another con that we identified is that the eye relief is pretty unforgiving. While the scope can withstand the recoil, the eye relief is pretty difficult to manage, especially with larger caliber weapons. When using a higher magnification, this eye relief becomes difficult to manage.

Lastly, it can have some glare in it at some times. We would recommend adding a sunshade to optimize this scope.

Comparison

We will compare this scope to some of its competition: the Leupold VX-R 4-12x40mm and Nikon P-308 4-12x40mm. This comparison will give you an idea about what to expect when purchasing the Vortex Optics Diamondback.

As is well known, Leupold makes some of the highest quality scopes on the market. When comparing the Vortex to the Leupold, the Leupold is clearly a better scope. The optics are way clearer, it is just as durable, and we found the reticle to be easier to use. However, Leupold scopes are notoriously expensive.

Comparing the Nikon and the Vortex is a much closer comparison. Nikon offers great optical features, but the scopes are extremely similar in the end. They are both very accurate and easy to shoot with. The reticles are comparable, and the scopes are nearly identical overall. We give a slight edge to the Vortex, but it is very close.

Check Price

  1. Recommendation

Upon first looking at this best scope for ar 15, it’s clear to see that it’s obviously meant for long range hunting or hunting with a larger caliber weapon. It is extremely durable, and it can withstand any recoil from the weapon. As such, it’s great for big game hunting or for use when shooting shotgun slugs.

However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to use the scope for anything else. Due to how precise the adjustments can be on this scope, you could use this for longer range target shooting. After all, this scope does zoom out to 12x, and it does have ¼ MOA adjustments. For target shooting of this nature, the eye relief may not be as much of a concern either.

  1. Conclusion

Overall, this is a quality scope that offers some great optical features. It is very clear, and extremely durable. While there are some shortcomings that are to be expected of a scope of this nature, it is a great product for multiple uses when it’s all said and done. Regardless of your use for the scope, you will pleased with its performance overall.

What Are The Best Red Dot Sight For Ar 15 Rifle?

Red dot style sights are by far the most popular choice for AR-15s and other AR-frame weapons.

As such, there are hundreds of different options available on the market. Every single person has their own personal favorites, but we can all agree that it is very difficult to settle on one option.

What Are The Best Red Dot Sight For Ar 15

What Are The Best Red Dot Sight For Ar 15

In this article, we will review five of the top choices.

These optics are all great choices, and will serve your weapon very well.

We will talk about all three in terms of pros and cons, and then we will make some buying recommendations.

Top Our Pick For Best Red Dot Sight For Ar 15 In 2018

Review of 6 Best Red Dot For AR 15 On The Market

Continue reading for our full review of the best red dot sights for an AR-15.

1. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope

This red dot sight from Bushnell is extremely compact. It measures only 2.4 inches long, and only weighs 3.6 ounces. You will hardly even notice that it’s attached to your rifle.

Similar to the previous optic, this scope has unlimited eye relief. You can shoot it with your head placed wherever you want, and with both eyes open. As long as your zero is accurate, your shots will be on target. Just like with the Vortex, this allows for extremely fast target acquisition.

In terms of light transmission, this scope performs almost as well as the previous Vortex. It has Bushnell’s Amber-Bright technology and the internals are fully multicoated. The front lens of the scope is amber in color, which improves your vision down the sight. However, this scope isn’t quite as bright as the previous one, due to the fact that the objective lens is 5mm smaller. This will slightly limit the amount of light that can enter the optic.

Another similarity to the Vortex is that the scope offers a high level of durability. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. Once again, this is a great feature for hunting.

However, where this scope starts to lag a little behind the Vortex is in its accuracy. The reticle of this optic, which is a simple red dot, is 3 MOA in size. This is a pretty large reticle, so at longer distances, you run the risk of your target being completely covered by the reticle. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for precise shooting at longer ranges.

Overall, this is an excellent value purchase. It is a quality scope, and will serve your AR-15 well. While some have experienced some issues with the newer version of this scope, we did not have any issues with ours. It was bright and easy to see

2 .Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights

I’m sure you’ve heard of Vortex Optics, as they are extremely well known and respected throughout the industry. They produce many different optical products, including quality riflescopes and tactical-style red dot sights. They offer an excellent combination of quality and affordability.

The Strikefire II is an internal reflex sight that has very bright red or green reticle. It is extremely easy to use, and offers pretty accurate shooting. The entire system is designed for AR-frame weapons, so it is naturally a great choice.

The optic measures 5.6 inches long and weighs 7.2 ounces. The objective lens is 30 millimeters, and the internals are fully multicoated, which will allow for maximum light transmission. This means that the scope will be extremely bright and easy to see through.

When you’re looking down the optic, there is no parallax and it has unlimited eye relief. This allows for easy shooting with both eyes open. The reticle is a simple dot, but there are 10 brightness levels and you can choose whether it is red or green. The lowest settings are night vision compatible. For these reasons, the sight is extremely fast to acquire targets.

When you power the scope up with the rear-facing controls, it automatically reverts back to the previous brightness setting it was on. If you accidentally leave the power on, it will automatically turn off after 12 hours. This significantly increases the battery life.

The scope itself is also very durable. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. The optic is made from an aluminum alloy , and has been given a hard anodized finish to match this. This optic would be excellent for hunting or any other outdoor shooting, due to how durable it is. Another aspect of the durability of this scope is the fact that it will hold your zero for thousands of rounds.

The adjustments with this scope are very easy to make, and each click results in a ½ MOA movement. This means that your point of impact will move by half of an inch at 100 yards. For an AR-15, this is an extremely precise adjustment, which allows for very accurate shooting.

Overall, this sight is extremely easy to use, and it is packed with features. It offers some of the best bang for your buck we have seen. We found that it was very easy and enjoyable to shoot, and we were able to shoot very accurately with it.

3. Ohuhu Red Green Dot Gun Sight Scope Reflex Sight with 4 Reticles

Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Riflescope w/ BDC 800 Reticle,Black

Ohuhu is a company that produces many different products in quite a few different areas. One of these products is their red dot style sight, which is one of the biggest sellers on Amazon. This scope is an exposed reflex sight, which means it basically just has one external “window” where the reticle is projected. It is available in a tan color and in black.

Due to the style of sight it is, this scope is extremely small, and the adjustments are extremely easy to get to. They are made with an Allen key. The adjustments of this scope aren’t nearly as precise as the previous ones, so it will not shoot nearly as accurately.

The scope itself is decent. It has no eye relief and no parallax, just like the previous sights on our list. When it holds its zero, it is an extremely easy scope to use. However, we did have some accuracy concerns with the sight. Some of the reticles don’t line up with others, and it is known to lose a zero with a little recoil.

As the name may imply, it has four different reticles you are able to choose from, and you can choose whether they are red or green. There are multiple brightness settings, but even at the highest setting, it isn’t always bright enough for normal use.

The scope has some durability concerns, due to how cheaply it is made. There are plenty of examples of this sight breaking after very limited use.

At the end of the day, Ohuhu isn’t a rifle optics company. Vortex and Bushnell are. To expect the same quality as the other companies would be foolish. However, if you aren’t going to shoot your weapon much, and you are looking for a very inexpensive option, this optic may be decent for you. We would recommend spending the extra money for the Bushnell, but this might work

4. Holosun HS503C Paralow 133x54x72mm Circle Dot Sight

Holosun HS503C Paralow 133x54x72mm Circle Dot Sight

Holosun HS503C Paralow 133x54x72mm Circle Dot Sight

This sight from Holosun is an extremely basic red dot style sight. However, don’t let that turn you off from how high quality this sight is. This is actually one of our favorite red dot sights, despite its simplicity.

The optic measures 5.24 inches long, and weighs in at a tiny 4.25 ounces. As you can see, it’s a really small optic. It’s an internal reflex style red dot, which basically means that it’s a small tube with two lenses and the actual reticle is inside the tube, between the lenses. The dot is red, and the scope has no magnification.

When many people hear the term “red dot sight,” they are thinking about an external reflex sight. An internal reflex sight works pretty much the same, but the reticle and lights are all internal. In my opinion, these are more durable and reliable than external reflex sights, and I think they look a little better.

The pros of this optic are the ease of use, the solar power, and the durability.

When we say the ease of use, we mean in so many different ways. For starters, the optic is extremely easy to fire with. The reticle is extremely simple. It’s a simple dot reticle or a circle/dot combination, which is very easy to acquire targets and shoot accurately with.

The optic is also extremely easy to adjust, as most red dot style sights are. All you have to do is open the turrets, and use the simple mechanism to move the reticle. The clicks are easy to hear and feel, so you can get some peace of mind in your zero.

Another factor of this ease of use is how easy it is to install the optic. It has a simple cross bar style mount, meaning that you can easily mount it to either picatinny or weaver style rails.

The solar power also leads directly into the ease of use of the scope. Solar power is something not commonly seen in optics. For us, we really liked the feature. The reticle brightness adjusts for how bright it is outside, and when it’s bright enough to power the solar panel, the optic just stays on the entire time. As you can imagine, this makes it very easy to use.

The scope also has a battery backup, when it’s not bright enough out to use the solar power. The battery life is great, and the scope will automatically turn off after a wait period.

The cons of this optic are that it is pretty pricey, and it isn’t the most precise optic available. The price comes largely from the solar power. Similar optics without this feature will be much less expensive  (In my research). In our opinion, it’s worth the added cost though.

5. UTG 4.2" ITA Red/Green CQB Dot with QD Mount, Riser Adaptor

UTG 4.2" ITA Red/Green CQB Dot with QD Mount, Riser Adaptor

UTG 4.2" ITA Red/Green CQB Dot with QD Mount, Riser Adaptor

The UTG 4.2” ITA scope is extremely affordably priced, but also offers some decent features. While it isn’t the highest quality scope available, it definitely works for basic tactical uses and range shooting. We wouldn’t shoot competitions with it, but it is an acceptable optic.

The optic measures 4.17 inches long and weighs 9.8 ounces. Similar to the last optic, it’s a simple red dot with no magnification at all. However, this one differs in that it has a T-style reticle, which can be either red or green.

The pros of this optic are ease of use, and durability. Since this optic removes the solar power. While the optics of the previous sight are higher quality, this scope is decent. For basic shooting, it is more than acceptable.

The ease of use of this scope is extremely similar to the Holosun, so we won’t simply repeat the same features. However, this scope also has a quick detach base, so you just have to flip a lever to take it off of a picatinny-style rail.

As with the Holosun, this is a very durable optic. It’s waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and the internals are durable enough to withstand the recoil of multiple weapons. You can use this optic on shotguns and rifles with larger calibers as well.

The cons are that the reticle isn’t as easy to use, isn’t quite bright enough, and it is not that precise. I prefer the circle/dot combination reticle to the T-style. I think that the target acquisition is slightly slower, and it makes it harder to get a precision shot.

Speaking of the reticle, on bright days, it can be very difficult to see. The red dot works better than the green dot, but both are difficult to see when it’s really bright out.

Lastly, the adjustments of this optic are not that bright. If you’re shooting at longer distances, it’s going to be hard to be very accurate with this scope. The reticle is large, and you can’t adjust it that precisely.

6. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight, Black

Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight, Black

Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight, Black

Last up, we’ve got an excellent optic from Sig Sauer. Similar to the previous two optics, this one is an internal reflex sight that is very compact in nature and has no magnification range.

It measures in at only 2.47 inches long and weighs only 5.1 ounces. As you can see, this is a truly tiny optic. It’s got a simple 2 MOA red dot style reticle, and really does have some great features. In terms of optical clarity, this may be my favorite on the list.

The biggest pros of this weapon, other than the extremely compact size, are the durability, MOTAC, and optical settings. As with all of the other optics, this one is very durable. However, Sig takes it to another level by guaranteeing that the optic is IPX-7 rated.

The MOTAC is a Sig creation. Essentially, the optic is motion activated. It will turn on when it senses motion, and turns off when it doesn’t. It’s that simple. It saves a lot of battery. I still prefer the solar power of the Holosun, but by a very slim margin.

Another pros of this optic is that it has two night vision settings to go along with eight normal settings. This is a much wider variety than the other optics mentioned.

Just like the other sights on this list, the red dot is large, and the adjustments aren’t that precise. It will be difficult for longer range shooting, but it is more than acceptable for CQB style shooting, and casual range use.

Buying Recommendations

Now that we’ve talked about the three scopes, lets make some buying recommendations.

Simply put, the Vortex is the best of the group.

If you are going to be shooting in low-light conditions or under night vision, the Vortex is your best bet. It will allow more light to pass through, and will be easier to see down.

For hunting, the Bushnell and the Vortex are both great options, due to how durable they are.

Conclusion

Hopefully our review of the best AR-15 optics was useful to you. When considering some of the things that we have mentioned, it should be way easier for you to select an optic for your weapon.

Buying a red dot for your AR can be an overwhelming experience. Choosing one of these, especially the Bushnell or the Vortex, will be a great choice for you.

For range shooting, either of these two options is a great choice. They are both good optics, but the Vortex may be slightly more accurate, especially at longer distance.

What Is The Legal Barrel Length For An Ar 15

If you are trying to build an AR-15 and avoid having to go through the process of getting an ATF-approved tax stamp, you’re going to need to know the legal barrel length for your weapon.

In the military, M4 barrels are 14.5 inches long. This was a vast reduction in size and weight compared to the 20 inch barrel of the M16.

What is the legal barrel length for an ar 15

What is the legal barrel length for an ar 15

However, what barrel length is legal in the civilian world?

The Simple Answer for legal barrel length of AR 15

Putting it as simple as possible, the answer to this question is 16 inches. However, as with many things in the firearms world, there are some workarounds to this.

Muzzle Device

The first workaround is a permanently attached muzzle device, such as a flash suppressor.

In this situation, you are able to buy a 14.5 inch barrel and a specific muzzle device, and have a gunsmith pin-and-weld the muzzle device to the barrel.

In most of these flash suppressors, it will be specifically stated that you are able to have it pinned and welded, so be sure to check if it’s possible before buying the muzzle device.

Essentially, pinning and welding the muzzle device makes it permanent, which in turn makes it part of the barrel. For that reason, you are able to count the extra length of the flash suppressor as part of your barrel length.

Keep in mind that this will come at an added cost, since you’ll have to purchase the muzzle device and also pay to have it welded on for you.

AR-frame Pistol

Black Pistol with High Capacity magazine full shot

Black Pistol with High Capacity magazine full shot

The 16 inch barrel length only applies to rifles, NOT pistols.

You are able to build an AR pistol in various pistol and rifle calibers, which would eliminate the need for the 16 inch barrel. If it is technically a pistol, the barrel can be much shorter.

However, when building an AR pistol, there are a few laws that you need to keep in mind. Since that isn’t the point of this article, we won’t go too much into them. It basically boils down to the buttstock of the weapon, and there are some specific design features that must be accounted for. Make sure you know your laws if you take this route!

Get the Tax Stamp

Lastly, if you want a shorter barrel, you can always just get the tax stamp from the ATF. Once your weapon is classified as a short-barreled rifle (often called SBR), the length of the barrel won’t be a problem.

This is a somewhat length and time consuming process, but it is the only way to legally have an AR-15 rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches. Related that, if you are intending buy a scope for your ar 15, you should choose Nikon or Vortex, it’s my favorite.

Conclusion

To make a long story short, the answer to the question is 16 inches. Your AR-15 barrel must be at least 16 inches in length to be considered legal by the ATF. Anything shorter than that, and you will have to get an SBR tax stamp from them.

However, as we mentioned in this article, there are a couple workarounds you could pursue to avoid having to get the tax stamp. But, like with anything, make sure you know the laws about what you are doing.

1

Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose?

For many reasons, shotguns are considered the ideal home defense weapon. At short range, they are extremely deadly. For home defense, this is an ideal situation. In the event that someone were to break into your home, a shotgun should be the first weapon you reach for.

Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose

Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose

However, shotgun shells can be a little confusing. What really is the best shotgun ammunition for home defense?

In this article, we will go over some of the best options, and talk about what makes them so great.

The Basics – Types of Shotgun Ammunition

Shotgun ammunition can be a little confusing. There are three different main types, and beyond that, there are sizes for each.

The primary types of shells are buckshot, birdshot, and slugs. Birdshot has more, smaller pellets. Buckshot has fewer pellets, but they are significantly larger. A slug is one solid piece of metal, and they are usually very large in size. This turns your shotgun into a crude rifle, and is very effective for taking down big game.

Next up, there are numbers associate with each type. For example, there is 00 buckshot, #4 birdshot, 4 buckshot, #8 birdshot, and many more.

As the number increases, the number of pellets within the shell increases. However, this also means that the size of the pellet decreases.

So, for example, #8 birdshot has hundreds of pellets that are .09 inches in diameter. #2 birdshot has 90 pellets that are .15 inches in diameter.

#4 buckshot pellets are .24 inches in diameter, and 00 buckshot pellets are .33 inches in diameter.

Make sense so far?

So, Which of These are the Best for Home Defense?

As you can imagine, buckshot is the best for home defense. Birdshot has more pellets, but they are very small in size, and usually don’t penetrate deep enough to be effective against a human target.

Buckshot penetrates much deeper, and it has larger pellets to damage more critical tissue.

Slugs would be effective in bringing down a target, but they require much greater accuracy, and they penetrate too deep. If you were to miss your target, that slug would travel through anything in its way for quite some time. This can be dangerous in a home defense situation.

What About Specific Ammunition?

How to choose a shotgun

How to choose a shotgun

In general, 00-1 buckshot are more than effective rounds for home defense. If you aren’t interested in buying ammo specifically for home defense, any of these buckshot shells will work. In fact, the military and many police departments use simple 00 buckshot for their shotguns.

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However, there are some ammo choices available that are made specifically for home defense. Keep reading to check some of these out.

  • Federal Premium Personal Defense PD13200. This is a simple 00 buckshot shell. It is aimed for home defense, and is loaded with 9 pellets. It offers reliable, tight shot groups, and does more than enough damage.
  • Federal Tactical 1 Buckshot. This is a 1 buckshot round. Similar to the previous ammo, this ammo offers reliable groups. However, this one has 15 pellets as opposed to 9.
  • Winchester PDX1. These rounds are more specifically for personal defense. In 12 gauge, there is a segmenting slug and one shell that has a slug and buckshot in it. The segmenting slug will break apart on impact, which damages more tissue. The slug and buckshot round spreads apart very rapidly, so you are able to cover more surface area.

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, shotguns are absolutely key to home defense. However, due to how confusing shotgun shells can be, it is difficult to choose one specific ammo for home defense.

Generally speaking, buckshot is a great choice. While there are fewer pellets, they are much larger. However, if you are looking for a shell that is specifically for home defense, there are a few out there. Winchester specifically makes a great shell for personal defense.

You can’t go wrong with most buckshot, but getting a more specific shot for home defense certainly wont hurt. The extra cost will be worth it in the event that you need it.

What Exactly Is A Round Of Ammunition?

Obviously, ammo is round in shape. However, what really is one round?

I’m sure most people have the general idea right. One round is one cartridge or one shotgun shell. However, the term is commonly mixed up with the term “bullet.”

What Exactly is a “Round” of Ammunition

What Exactly is a “Round” of Ammunition

So, in this article, we will cover the absolute most basic parts of ammunition. In doing so, you will understand what exactly a round is, and how it is different from a bullet.

Handgun and Rifle Ammo Components

When looking at a handgun or rifle round, they are really pretty similar. These rounds are composed of a bullet, which is located inside a casing, which is filled with a propellant.

The bullet is the “front” of the round. It is the actual projectile that will fly through the air. It is also the part that will enter the target, whatever that may be.

This bullet is crimped into the casing, which is the larger brass part that makes up a good portion of the round. This casing will be ejected from the weapon after the trigger is pulled.

The casing has a primer on the very back of it. When you pull the trigger, the firing pin in the weapon will strike the primer. The primer has a very sensitive igniter in it, which will light the propellant.

The propellant is located inside the casing. It is never seen by the normal shooter, because it is contained within the casing and is completely consumed after firing. After the primer is struck, the igniter lights the propellant. The propellant, or gunpowder, burns rapidly, which creates gas pressure. This gas pressure is what actually fires the bullet downrange.

All of these components added together are referred to as a cartridge. One “round” of ammunition is simply one cartridge.

Shotgun Ammunition

Shotgun ammunition is slightly different. Instead of having a brass casing, shotgun shells have a plastic hull. These plastic hulls are crimped at the end opposite the primer.

Instead of one bullet, shotgun shells have “shot” in them. Shot refers to the pellets that are located within the hull. Shotguns traditionally fire many pellets, as opposed to only one bullet. The shot is actually inside of the hull, as opposed to rifle ammo, where you can see the projectile.

Shotgun shells also have what is called a “wad.” The wad is located between the powder and the shot. Its purpose is to protect the shot and trap the gas behind the shot, which allows the shell to work.

Other than these terminologies, shotgun shells work very similar to handgun and rifle ammunition. They have a primer, which ignites the powder and propels the shot downrange.

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Conclusion

As you can see, ammunition is pretty simple. One “round” simply means one cartridge or one shotgun shell. It’s really that simple.

Ammunition can get a little confusing, but understanding the basics will give you a better grip on ammunition as a whole.

How Hot Does A Gun Barrel Get? How Get It Cooler Faster?

As much rifle shooters know, rifle barrels can get extremely hot. While all barrels will heat up, it is most noticeable in rifles, since the metal of the barrel is exposed. However, how hot can they actually get? What damage could this cause?

How Hot Does A Gun Barrel Get? How Get It Cooler Faster?

In this article, we will start with the basics, and eventually work into answering these questions.

The Basics – Why Does a Barrel Get Hot?

To understand this question, you have to understand how a bullet is fired. When you pull the trigger, it causes a firing pin within the weapon to strike a primer on the bullet. The primer ignites the gunpowder, which burns extremely fast. As it burns, it generates gas, which creates pressure and pushes the bullet out of the barrel at a high rate of speed.

The answer is right there. Gun powder burns and expands extremely rapidly, which is very hot. In fact, gunpowder burns near 5000 degrees Farenheit.

Repeating this process over and over again generates more and more heat. This heat transfers to the metal of the barrel, where it can’t dissipate as quickly, and the barrel will feel hot to the touch.

Okay, Cool. So What Does That Mean?

Alright, so now you understand WHY your barrel can get hot. What are the side effects?

First and foremost, a hot barrel can seriously affect your accuracy. While it depends on the exact rifle and barrel, some barrels can be extremely negatively affected by heat.

Match grade accuracy barrels are often less heat tolerant, so you will find that your shooting may be a little off. Common AR-15 and AK-47 barrels on the other hand are more heat tolerant, so you can shoot them more.

However, it could also be much worse than this. In serious situations, you could harm your barrel or your weapon. It would be very hard to do this, but it is absolutely possible to damage your weapon.

How Hot is Too Hot?

Basic reticle scope

Basic reticle scope

So, how can you tell when your barrel is too hot, and how hot can they get?

While there isn’t exactly much science behind it, an extremely common recommendation is that if your barrel is too hot to touch for more than a second or two, you probably shouldn’t shoot with it. Like I said, there isn’t much science behind it, but this is the line of thought that I subscribe too.

But, as far as how hot the barrel can get, it is absolutely possible to have the barrel be glowing red. For this to occur, it would have to be around 1500 degrees Farenheit. However, in a range setting, this would be nearly impossible.

I Want to Shoot More! How Can I Cool Off My Barrel?

There are a couple tricks to cool your weapon off faster.

First, try bringing more than one rifle to the range, and alternating between the two. This will give each rifle time to cool off.

When letting your rifle cool off, take it out of the sun. You should also leave the action open, and stand it straight up and down.

You could also put a cool, damp rag on the barrel, but make sure you get any surface rust off the barrel afterwards.

Conclusion

As you can see, barrels can get extremely hot, and shooting it while it’s too hot could be detrimental to you and the barrel.

Remember, if it’s too hot to touch for a second or two, don’t shoot it! Keeping this simple rule in mind will prevent you from shooting a barrel that is too hot.

If your barrel is too hot, try leaving it in the shade with the action open and standing it up on the butt. This will help it cool off faster.

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How To Store Ammo In The Rightway

Alright, so you’ve just got yourself a firearm. Awesome! You get home with your new weapon and a box of ammo, excited for a trip to the range. But…. Shoot. How can you store the ammo?!

Not to worry! This is a pretty common question to people that are new to the firearm scene. As you will see, ammo is relatively durable, so you don’t have much to worry about.

In this article, we will go over some tips for storing ammo, and make some general recommendations.

How To Store Ammo In The Rightway

How To Store Ammo In The Rightway

The Three Factors: Temperature, Moisture, and Location

It’s really this simple. These are the extremely simple factors that you need to keep in mind when thinking about storing ammo.

If you are storing ammo, we are going to assume it is for longer term. Most people don’t buy ammo to shoot it the very next day. Many people, like hunters and survivalists, will have a large quantity of ammunition stored up at any point in time.

So therefore, we are going to assume that preserving your ammunition is in your plans as well.

Temperature

First and foremost, your ammo should be stored in a cool environment. If it is stored in a place that is too hot, the excessive heat can negatively affect the gunpowder inside the bullet.

It will be a slow process, but high heat can affect the actual chemical composition of the gunpowder. This will negatively affect your ammunition, and could make it unusable.

Moisture

Next, your ammunition should be stored in a dry place. Water and moisture can rust the case and affect the propellant within the cartridge.

If the propellant is wet, it may burn slower, or not at all. This will degrade the effectiveness of the ammunition.

One thing to keep in mind with this, once your ammunition has been exposed to the outdoors, it is \ likely that it has experienced some moisture. This is multiplied if it was in a swampy area, or brought along on a rainy hunt. Any environment with high humidity has high moisture.

Location

When we say location, we are talking about a couple of different things. The ammunition should be stored in a safe place, where no one will be able to get to it if they shouldn’t be able to. For example, children shouldn’t be able to get to the ammunition.

The ammo may also be stored in a secure spot, or under a lock and key. While not everyone will do this, it is a pretty common practice.

Another factor of the location is exactly what you are storing the ammo in. The cardboard boxes that ammo comes in aren’t meant to be a long term storage solution. These should be secured in a safe, or even better, in an ammo can.

Storing Ammo – Don’ts

  • Don’t leave the ammo in the trunk of your vehicle, in the attic in the summer, or anywhere else that is really hot.
  • Don’t leave the ammo in a container that isn’t waterproof.
  • Don’t store ammo for too long after it has been exposed to moisture.
  • Don’t store ammo where children can easily get to it.
  • Don’t leave large stockpiles of ammo unsecured.

Storing Ammo – Dos

  • Do store ammo in an ammo can or other waterproof container.
  • Do store ammo somewhere climate controlled.
  • Do store ammo out of reach of children.
  • Do have some ammo readily accessible for home defense.
  • Do lock up excessive ammo.

Other Considerations

Some people don’t like storing ammunition with the weapon. I don’t really have any issue with it, but it is something to keep in mind. I do store some ammunition in my gun safe, but not everyone likes to do this.

Conclusion

Following these extremely easy considerations will allow you to store your ammo effectively. Storing the ammo effectively will ensure that it lasts for a decade or more. For most people, this is a huge pro.

When in doubt, just think about the temperature, moisture, container, and location of the container. As long as you are thinking about these factors, you will have no issues.

How Often Should I Clean My Gun?

Ah, the age-old question. It has been answered many times in many different ways. So, what is the correct answer to this question?

As I’m sure we’re all aware, weapons require maintenance in the form of cleaning. If you own a weapon, you’re going to have to clean it. It’s as simple as that.

Owning a gun and not cleaning it is negligent, and could potentially ruin your weapon. I don’t mean to use scare tactics, but these are the facts. Even if you aren’t shooting much, not cleaning your weapon could harm it.

How Often Should I Clean My Gun

How Often Should I Clean My Gun

So, let’s get into the question at hand.

The Basics: Why do I need to clean my weapon?

Simply put, because it gets dirty!

When you clean a weapon, you are cleaning some type of dirty residue. While there are many kinds, this is most often carbon. Carbon buildup occurs in your weapon each and every time you fire it. When the propellant burns, it leaves carbon behind.

Other types of residue could be trace bits of metal, which could be left behind by the bullets you are firing. However, this is somewhat uncommon, and 99.99% of the time, you are cleaning residual carbon out of the weapon.

Another reason to clean your weapon is to remove any rust from it. If you use your weapon outdoors, it is exposed to moisture. Some places are more moist, such as when you are duck hunting in a swamp, or deer hunting in the rain. However, even without precipitation, your weapon is still being exposed to water in the air.

When the metal of the weapon is exposed to any moisture, it could begin to oxidize. As a result, rust will form. Rust on a weapon is not a good thing, especially if it is inside the barrel.

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What happens if I don’t clean my weapons?

Eventually, if the carbon buildup inside the weapon gets to be too much, the weapon can stop cycling properly.

If the buildup gets to be too severe in the barrel, the weapon could be similarly negatively affected. The bullet trajectory could be ruined, or worse. If there is too much rust built up, the same thing will happen.

Okay, I get it. Dirty weapons are bad. How often do I need to clean my weapons?

Now this is where it gets a little tricky. No one argues that you do have to clean your weapons, but plenty of people argue about how often it needs to be done.

To put it simply, you really can’t clean the weapon too often, as long as you are using the correct cleaning tools and not putting too much oil on it.

However, we will make a few recommendations for how often to clean your weapon.

Personally, I like to clean my weapons after each trip to the range. I find it to be soothing, but I also realize that not everyone feels this way.

Most weapons will be good for around three to four range trips, dependent on how many rounds you shoot. My recommendation would be to clean the weapon every 250 rounds, if you don’t want to clean it each time you shoot.

If you don’t go to the range much, cleaning your weapon is still important. At the very least, you should break your weapon down and clean it twice per year, if you are never shooting at all.

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However, there are a few exceptions to these guidelines.

If your weapon is primarily for self defense or home defense, it is extremely important to clean it each and every time. This will ensure it will function each and every time.

For the competition shooter, cleaning a weapon each time you use it is extremely important as well.

Lastly, if you use your weapon in a swampy area or in any precipitation, you should clean it as soon as possible, to get any surface rust off of the weapon before it becomes a problem.

Conclusion

Cleaning weapons is a pretty easy and relaxing thing, but many people don’t know how often you should do it.

I would recommend cleaning your weapons each time you shoot, but not everyone likes to do this. If you prefer to wait, every 250 rounds is probably a decent guideline for you.

When cleaning your weapon, be sure to keep safety in mind. Always clear the weapon and use proper materials and cleaning techniques!

What Cool Alternatives Are There To An AR-15?

Don’t get me wrong, AR-15s are awesome. They are an extremely popular weapon system, because they are very easy to build and use. They are extremely customizable, and are available at inexpensive prices.

What Cool Alternatives Are There To An AR-15

What Cool Alternatives Are There To An AR-15

However, some people may not like them for a variety of reasons. They are extremely common, so maybe you are trying to stick out at the range.

Whatever, the reason may be, there are some excellent alternatives available to the classic AR-15. While these may be slightly more expensive for the most part, they are still fun weapons. In this article, we will go over a few examples of these AR-15 alternatives. Let’s get into it!

  • AK47

First and foremost, let me say how much I love the AK47. There are hundreds of different variants available, and I’ve enjoyed every one that I have shot.

Compared to an AR-15, AK47s aren’t quite as accurate, but they do shoot a larger bullet. For hunting and defense purposes, this could be a good feature for you.

I think the weapon is pretty sleek looking, especially with wood furniture, and they are notorious for their reliability.

  • FN SCAR

Anyone who has spent some time playing video games is familiar with the SCAR. It is used by some militaries, and is an absolutely excellent weapon.

Similar to the AK47, this rifle also shoots a larger bullet. While the AK shoots 7.62×39, one version of the SCAR shoots 7.62×51. This is an excellent round for big game hunting or defense purposes. The other version of the SCAR shoots the same round as the AR-15.

However, for as high quality as this weapon is, it is also worth mentioning that is about five times as expensive as the least expensive AR-15 weapons. If that is not a problem to you, definitely check out this weapon!

Bushmaster makes a version of the SCAR, called the ACR, that is slightly less expensive.

  • Steyr AUG A3 M1

This is the first of the so called “bullpup” rifles we will talk about. These types of rifles have the action behind the trigger, which shortens the overall length of the weapon. Essentially, these are similar to the P90, except they are in rifle calibers.

The AUG is used in the Austrian army, and is available with multiple different optics and rails from the manufacturer. The rifle is extremely easy to breakdown, and shoots extremely well. Its distinct styling is sure to stand out, and the performance will be there to back it.

It shoots the same NATO ammunition as the AR-15, and is a pretty lightweight weapon. The trigger pull is slightly heavier than some others, but it is a great weapon to shoot.

However, similar to the SCAR, this weapon is significantly more expensive than the AR-15. Relevant to it, if you are looking the best scope for ar-15, i highly recommend the Vortex :).

  • IWI Tavor

Next up is another bullpup rifle. The Tavor X95 shoots the same NATO round as the AR-15. It cycles extremely smoothly, and has an excellent trigger pull. It’s got a great rail system, and is a very accurate weapon.

It is available in a few different colors, and has some excellent stock sights. The front folding sight has tritium inserts, so they are extremely easy to use. In my opinion, this weapon is slightly better looking than the AUG, and is also available at a less expensive cost.

In my opinion, both the AUG and the Tavor are fun to shoot. The difference between the two is almost negligible.

  • FN FS2000

The last bullpup rifle on our list is the FS2000. Similar to the SCAR, this rifle is made by FN, and it is an extremely high weapon. It shoots 5.56x45mm NATO.

This weapon only has one rail, as opposed to some of the others, which had more. In my opinion, this rifle isn’t as sleek looking as the other bullpup rifles, but it is still a cool looking weapon. In terms of action, this is a good weapon. The FS2000 is also significantly less expensive than the other bullpup rifles.

  • Springfield M1A

Last up is a modernized predecessor to the AR-15. The Springfield M1A is a modern tactical M14. It is an extremely high quality weapon, and is a great AR-15 alternative. It shoots 7.62×51 NATO, so it is a larger cartridge than the AR-15.

This weapon has been around for a long time, and the modernization is a welcome touch. There are multiple models, so you will be able to meet your needs. Overall, this is a great quality weapon.