Sunday, July 31, 2011

Remington 870 Shell Lifter (New vs Old Type)

Yesterday at my club's Three-gun match, we were discussing the differences between the new and old style Remington 870 Shell Lifters.  The new style lifter came out around 1985-86, around the same time as the Rem-Choke system.  The newer style had a three-sided, rectangular cut-out in it.  This was known as the Flexi-Tab Shell Lifter.  Remington also made changes to the Bolt and the Carrier Plate to accommodate the new lifter.

The reason for the changes was because Remington received complaints that if you Short-shucked an 870, or didn't fully seat the shells into the magazine tube, a shell could inadvertently pop out under the bolt, and on top of the lifter, which would jam up the shotgun.  The old style Lifter was made of heavier material so it was far more rigid and wouldn't flex.  Now if you loaded an 870 properly and didn't Short-shuck the action this wasn't a problem.  I've owned and used several (old type) Remington 870's since around 1975 and I've never experienced this problem.  I currently have five of the old style 870 police shotguns in my inventory. 

Now if you do experience a jam of this nature there are a couple ways of clearing it.  You can take a pocket knife and slide it along the Shell Lifter, pushing the round back into the magazine tube (another reason to always carry a knife).  Or you can hold the Slide Release lever in and strike the butt of the shotgun on a hard surface like the ground (muzzle pointed in a safe direction of course) and that should clear the jam.  If I was fighting for my life, and I had cover available to me, this would be the technique I'd use. 

Now Remington sells a conversion kit consisting of a new Bolt, Shell Carrier, and Carrier Plate.  Depending on where you find them, the update kit runs from $65.00 to $99.00.  Either Brownell's or Midway USA probably carry this conversion kit.  Personally, if you have an old style 870, I'd say save the money and use it towards shotgun ammo so you can learn how to run the gun properly.

Of course, if you do experience a jam on any long gun and you don't have available cover, then you should be transitioning to your handgun.  Now if you're carrying a long gun into a armed encounter and you don't have a handgun to transition to, then you've just stepped into another pile of dog dung.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gun Cleaning: Facts and Fantasy.

There has been much discussion over the subject of cleaning firearms.  For those of you who are still under the assumption that you must clean your firearms after each and every range session, or after some prescribed number of rounds, then I urge you to please read an excellent article titled "A Clean Barrel" on page 66 of the November issue of the American Rifleman, by John Barsnsess. 

I agree with John on many points.  The Black powder era is indeed long gone.  We have been shooting smokeless powder for well over a century now.  There is no reason to fear that your barrel will rust away if you don't clean it.  Many new shooters who come into my shooting club are under the assumption that they must clean their firearms after every range session.  Nothing is further from the truth than this misconception.   

Rifles: My Savage match rifle chambered in .308 Winchester goes a full shooting season before I clean it.  That's approximately 600+ rounds of Federal Gold Medal match ammunition fired through the bore without me doing a thing to it.  The Savage will routinely shoot its best scores somewhere between 300 and 450 rounds.

My Remington Model 700 VS Varmint rifle fired well over 1,000 rounds on a four day Prairie Dog hunt in South Dakota, and was only cleaned twice.  Once during the hunt, and then when I got home.  We dispatched an awful lot of Pasture Poodles on that trip and not one of them complained about a dirty barrel not shooting well.  

In 1994, I attended the FBI's Sniper/Observer School.  I used a Springfield Armory Super-Match M1-A rifle and never cleaned it once during the 5-day course.  We shot well over 400 rounds during the class and on the final day, I shot a perfect qualification score and placed second overall in the FBI’s shooting drills. 

I shoot the Savage a lot, so when I do decide to clean it I’m not very persnickety about it.  I brush the bore several times with a plastic bore brush to loosen any powder fouling in the barrel.  Next, I'll push a wet patch through the bore followed by a few dry patches to wipe most of the fouling out.  Finally, I use a wonderful product called Outer's Bore Foam.  The Bore Foam looks like shaving cream and was created to remove the dreaded copper fouling.  I spray the foam into the bore from the breech end until it comes out of the muzzle.  I let the foam sit in the bore overnight.  The next day I’ll push the foam out with a couple more dry patches.  At this point, I'm done cleaning the bore.  What's that old Hippie saying?  Better Living Through Chemistry.   

I’m also not in the habit of running a slew of patches through a bore until they come out squeaky clean because personally, I’ve never seen that happen.  There will always be some discoloration left on a patch.  Anyway, I'm going to foul up the barrel again fairly soon so I don't sweat it too much.   If you can run a dry patch through a clean rifle bore that comes out without a speck of discoloration on it then you're definitely a better man than I am.
Barrel Break-in: As far as the barrel Break-in procedure goes.  I've done the barrel break-in procedure on a few rifles and I've also shot a lot of them right out of the box.  Both the Remington 700 VS and the Savage Model 10FP were not broken in.  I just shot them as is.  I personally never found any appreciable difference in accuracy to ever waste my time with that process again.  Now that may raise the hackles on some of you die-hard riflemen out there but that's the plain and simple unadulterated facts of life.  If you insist on doing it, then have at it!

A lot of riflemen I know are still futzing around breaking-in their rifles, tweaking this or tweaking that.  Three of my club’s F-class seasons have come and gone and some of these guys have yet to fire a single round down range.  Let's face it folks, this isn't a NASA mission.  We aren’t sending men to Mars here!  I believe the best advice I can give a guy like this is for them to clamp on their scope, bore-sight their rig, and go out to the range and start shooting the damned thing already!  We can always work out the particulars on the firing line.  A few minor scope adjustments and an Allen key and you'll be zeroed for 300 yards in no time flat.    

Pistols: The handguns I use in match competition also shoot far better dirty than they do when they’re clean.  My PPC revolvers and my Smith & Wesson Model 52-2 target pistol all go a full season between cleanings.  That's approximately 1,000 rounds per revolver and about 500+ rounds for the Model 52-2.  Granted, I'll run a Bore Snake through them once in a while, and wipe off the feed ramp on the Model 52, but I'm not dissembling them during the shooting season unless I absolutely have to. 

My Glock 34 pistol has gone through a couple seasons of Three-gun matches and a tactical training course or two without being cleaned and that amounts to roughly 2,000 rounds, give or take a hundred.  My AR-15 has also fired several thousand rounds between cleanings without a hitch.  My good friend, and master instructor, John Krupa of Spartan Tactical Training Group couldn't believe that my AR-15 still worked after he inspected it.  

Over the years, I've known several shooters who have done major damage to their firearms by silly, over-zealous cleaning rituals than by shooting them.  I've seen the Crowns on several Smith & Wesson revolvers totally ruined by Nimrods wanting to thoroughly clean their revolvers.  Beware of Aluminum cleaning rods.  They can damage firearms.  Use a Brass rod when cleaning a firearm or better yet, purchase the new Graphite or Carbon Fiber cleaning rod if possible.  The one-piece models are best.  There are no sections to unscrew during use.  If you're cleaning a bolt action rifle you should definitely be utilizing a cleaning rod guide while scrubbing your bore.   

Now, I'm nowhere near the best shooter in my shooting club.  There are several members who are far better than I, but I do feel my level of ability speaks for itself.  I didn't get to where I am today by constantly cleaning guns.  I got here by sending thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of rounds downrange.  I'm sure if asked most of our top shooters don't scrub their guns after every range session either.   

If you like to clean guns often then God bless you.  You can then come to my home and clean mine if you'd like?  I absolutely detest cleaning guns!  It's too much like work.  It stinks, it's messy, and it's time consuming.  I feel that the time I have left on this good Earth is far better spent sending a lot of rounds down range, thus trying to become a better shooter than by constantly cleaning my guns.

One Word of Clarification: These are NOT duty weapons we're talking about here.  Duty and Self-defense weapons a completely different animal unto themselves.  Duty and Self-defense weapons should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected after each and every use.  Your life or the life of a partner, or loved one may depend on it.


A Gem in the Rough: Remington 870 Police Shotgun Trade-ins.

I recently purchased several Remington 870 Police shotguns for my training company.  These 870's were police department trade-ins, which featured the Remington Deer barrels with rifle sights.  Like most LE firearms, the finish may be a bit rough, but the internals are usually in excellent shape.  That's because most law enforcement shotguns are carried often and fired little, or they sit in the department armory for years.  Police trade-ins are normally priced to sell fairly quickly.  The one's I purchased ranged between $200.00 and $240.00 depending on their overall condition. 

As I expected, the finish was rough with some surface rust.  The stocks were also pretty well worn and beat up.  I carefully polished all of the metal surfaces with 0000 Steel Wool and some Gibb's spray lubricant.  That removed all of the surface rust and any accumulated crud.  When I was done, the gun's bluing looked almost new.  While surfing the Internet I then came across some genuine Remington black synthetic stock sets from Scattergun Technologies (Wilson).  These were brand new sets and in the Police configuration that I wanted to retain.  The best part of this find was that the stock sets were only $37.00 a piece.  I bought up six of the sets so I had a few spares on hand, in the event I found a couple more 870's that needed new hardware. 

Since these guns were going to be used as trainers, I also changed the standard Shell Followers with the Lime Green variety also sold by Scattergun Technologies.  That way, any of my student's or adjunct instructor's could tell at a glance if the magazine tube was indeed empty.  I also swapped out the magazine tube springs while I was at it.  Wilson sells a complete set (spring & follower) for only $12.00.  I then added a standard, two-point, black nylon sling from Uncle Mike's and these guns were ready to rock!

When training students on the defensive shotgun, I want all of the guns to be as box-stock as possible.  I want  to see a standard type sling on the shotgun, but I don't want dot-sights, side-saddles, flashlights, light-rails, mag-tube extensions, or any other accessories in my class that will add unnecessary weight, or distract the student from the job at hand.  They can add all of that stuff later on, if they so desire.  Over the years I have found that less is more.  Personally, I've done away with a lot of the after-market accessories on my defensive shotguns.  I now add a standard sling and a small flashlight, that's it!

If you're looking for a good home defense shotgun, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get one.  Search out your local gun shops that deal with law enforcement agencies, and you may just find a gem in the rough for well under $300.00.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ATTS to Offer Tactical Shotgun and Rifle Courses.

The Academy of Tactical Training & Security, will soon be offering training courses for the Tactical Shotgun and the Tactical Carbine.  The Power Point presentations and lesson plans have been created and are all set to go.  We are now in the process of finding an outdoor range facility to stage the live-fire portions of the class.  As soon as that's finalized, we'll post the courses on the ATTS website.

The two-day Shotgun course will be heavily geared towards the Remington 870, and the Mossberg 500/590 pump shotguns.  The two-day Rifle course will focus primarily on the AR-15 rifle platform. 

Based on the NRA Law Enforcement training standards, anyone interested in learning how to defend one's self, home, and family with these types of firearms will be hard-pressed to find better training anywhere.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kolovos Wins Sixth NSPPL Three-Gun Crown!

I'm very proud to announce that I won my Sixth Three-Gun championship with the North Suburban Police Pistol League.  The League has been running Three-gun matches during the summer for the last seven seasons.  I missed having seven consecutive championships by 1.5 points in 2007.

I also set the League's record high score and record high average in 2010, by firing an 1145.50 average and posting a 1150-64X high score out of a possible grand aggregate of 1160.  I have already broken the record high score by posting a blistering 1154-71X this season.

The NSPPL Three-Gun matches are geared towards night fighting and entry work.  These matches are fired in extreme low light conditions and target exposure times are very short.  To compete, you need a duty-type pistol, a carbine and a tactical-type shotgun.  Weapon mounted lights and night sights are almost a necessity for these matches.  Distance range from 4 to 25 yards.  If you think that sounds easy, come on out and try it.

My choice of weapon platforms for these matches are the Glock 34 pistol, a Rock River M4 type carbine, and a Benelli M4 shotgun.  For shotgun ammo I use Federal's Reduced Recoil Tactical 00-Buck Shot and Rifled Slug loads in the Benelli.  They are both extremely accurate loads.  The 00-Buck loads shoot very tight groups at 15 yards, and 100% targets are not uncommon with either load.  I run night sights on the Glock and EoTech's on the AR-15 and the Benelli.  I use both Surefire and Streamlight illumination systems.

I feel my reign as champion may not last too much longer as we have some great up and coming Three-Gun shooters nipping at my heels.  I'm rooting for them, because for competition to remain keen, it requires new blood and new champions.       

Training, Training, and More Training.

I haven't posted anything in a while because I've been out of town training.  Yes, even instructors go to training classes.  Since February, I've successfully completed three of the NRA's Law Enforcement Instructor courses.  I first attended the Precision Rifle (Sniper) Instructor's course at the Memphis PD's training academy.  What a great facility and what a great bunch of officers.  Memphis PD is a top notch department and quite professional.  Needless to say I was very impressed.  Qualification day brought dark skies and pouring rain.  I was soaking wet and could barely see through my rifle scope, but I still managed to fire a perfect score on the qualification course.

April, found me in Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the State's mandated refresher course, so I could renew my Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Instructor's certification.

Then in May, I completed the Patrol Rifle Instructor's course held in Ford City, Pennsylvania.  This was a physically demanding course that truthfully tested my limits of endurance.  At 55 years old I'm proud to say I made it through and shot another 100% on the qualification course.

June found me in Mexico, Missouri at the Audrian County Sheriff's Department, for my third NRA school.  This one was the Pistol/Shotgun Instructor's course.  It was very windy but the weather was beautiful.  I am very proud to say that I fired 100% on both the pistol and shotgun qualification courses.  The Audrian County Sheriff's Department were also great hosts.

I have one more NRA Law Enforcement school I want to attend in Kansas, this coming October.  That is the Tactical Shooting Instructor's school.  This is supposedly the most grueling of their instructor courses so I'm hitting the gym now to get myself ready for it.

Whether you are an instructor, a seasoned shooter, or a novice, you can never get enough training.  You never stop learning and you're never too old to learn.  I've always said that even if you just pick up one tip from an instructor you've gotten your money's worth.  That one tip may just save your life someday.