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BOLO [Reward]: Stolen Plate Carrier, Ammo, FAKs (Houston)

Today I present a request (and cautionary tale) to the internets on behalf of a friend.  For those of you in the Houston area please Be On the Look Out (BOLO) for a plate carrier and kit that was stolen from my buddy’s car about two weeks ago on April 23rd, 2013.  [He only recently told me.]  I realize that the recovery of it an extreme long shot but I wanted to do something to help and maybe something positive will come of it.

Here’s the list of gear taken:


  • 180 rounds of 5.56x45mm Federal 62 gr Green Tip Penetrator (loaded in P-mags; 6 x 30)
  • (10) 20 boxes of 5.56x45mm Federal American Eagle
  • (3) 50 rd boxes of Winchester ‘white box’ .45 ACP
  • (5) 20 rd boxes of Remington .22-250
  • (3) 50 rd boxes of CCI Blazer 9mm


  • (1) Chinook Medic Kit (TMK-KE) Multicam – completely stocked
  • (1) Chinook Individual Operator Kit (TMK-IO) Multicam – completely stocked
  • Additional Celox gauze, packs and injector

All of this was in his car but not visible from the outside; the car was parked on the street near his residence in the Midtown/Museum District of Houston, Texas.  The items were actually in a cardboard box with clothes piled on top of it.  There were no overt signs of forced entry (no broken windows) and the car was locked prior to the theft.  The police believe specialized tools (slim jim?) were used to gain entry.  The car is not a luxury model, it does not have any expensive mods or options and is as mundane as any other.  It does did have a single sticker on the back, though.  A basic NRA membership sticker.

The thieves realizing their windfall, returned about 1 week later and gained entry to his wife’s car hoping for another score.

Hindsight being what it is, the take-away of this tale is to Respect the Gray.

  1. Don’t Advertise – even a small identifier such as a sticker can mark you for theft or attack.
  2. Secure your kit – concealment is not enough; car locks are not secure.

I’ve been thinking of ways to secure gear in a car and if you choose to store it there, my recommendation would be a Pelican or similar rugged case to contain the gear.  Preferable the case should be in the trunk (if your car has one) locked with Abloy padlocks and tethered with hardened steel security chain to an anchor attached to the frame.  Some vehicles with removable seats have convenient anchors already.

I can’t offer much but I am personally offering a reward of (2) bricks [1000 rounds] of precious .22 long rifle ammunition* for information leading to the return of the above items; If you can help please send an email to Projectilist AT Gmail

Thank you.

(*and the satisfaction and peace of mind of having helped your fellow man)

NRA Annual Meeting 2013: Friday (updated w/ pics)

Watch this space for updates. (all images are clickable to embiggen)
Additionally, check out my (relatively new) Twitter feed @1WithABullet

I tend to like gadgets and such so expect to see a few curiosities in here.  In fact, to start off here’s a picture of Mossberg 500 converted to accept Saiga 12 magazines by Black Aces Tactical.

Black Aces Tactical 'Pro Series Receiver' kit converts a Mossberg 500/590 to accept Saiga 12 magazines

Black Aces Tactical ‘Pro Series Receiver’ kit converts a Mossberg 500/590 to accept Saiga 12 magazines

It is currently sold as a kit, primarily consisting of a new receiver and bolt.  The fitting and action are well done and it has Type 3 hard anodizing on the receiver for a durable finish.

Next up is from Black Rain.  It’s an AK platform prototype currently called the ‘Freedom Fighter’.  Features include an easily manipulated thumb safety and also a right-sided mag guide that works much like a magazine funnel but still lets the shooter see the contact points necessary for rocking in a mag.  Mounted to the shoulder the stock placement is perfect the attached rail system.  Currently the arm is rather heavy but that is something that will be addressed as the design progresses.  Note also the AR-15 contained trigger unit (blue) that will be available soon.  It’s a single stage 3lb design that has a very nice clean break.

Looking much like the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens is an AK pattern rifle prototype from Black Rain.

Looking much like the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens is an AK pattern rifle prototype from Black Rain.

AP Industries, makers of excellent superlight carbon fiber handguards and shotgun speedloaders

AP Industries, makers of excellent superlight carbon fiber handguards and shotgun speedloaders

AP Industries is one of the companies that I specifically wanted to visit this weekend.  They make a fantastically lightweight AR-15 handguard that cleverly utilizes a standard barrel nut to attach the forend.  Additionally the handguards can be easily customized with rails, QD sockets and such that mount to the vent slots.  Their shotshell carriers and speedloaders are impressive too, with obvious care in design and machining.

Despite the ‘period of transition’ that Magpul is undergoing they still had quite a few new products to show.

Magpul's new AK magazine and pistol grip (with handstop)

Magpul’s new AK magazine and pistol grip (with handstop)

Magpul AK mag - closeup of non-tilt follower

Magpul AK mag – closeup of non-tilt follower

Not new but still good to see was the Stealth Gray furniture.  It’s darker that I thought it would be but looks good.  Notice that the forend is a midlength.  The new color is still in the pipeline but has been pushed back until the market is a bit less… frantic.

Magpul Stealth Gray - STR stock, MOE grip and Midlength Forend

Magpul Stealth Gray – STR stock, MOE grip and Midlength Forend

Magpul also has new steel back up iron sights (BUIS) called MBUS Pro’s and 1911 grips but my photos of those were not suitably in focus to post here.  I will try for better pics again tomorrow.

Another one of the ‘must see, must hold, “take my money now!”‘ items: the IWI Tavor.



Ergonomic and user friendly, I particularly like the way the bolt can be easily released by the hand inserting the magazine.  It appears that the only way to lock the bolt back is on an empty magazine though.  Trigger wasn’t bad but wasn’t great either (service grade), but then again it is a bullpup.

MKA 1919 tricked out for competition with side-charging handle on the forend and collapsible stock with 10 round magazine in place.

MKA 1919 tricked out for competition with side-charging handle on the forend and collapsible stock with 10 round magazine in place.

Some of you might have read my posts about converting my Saiga 12 and also using it in competition.  I still enjoy shooting it way more than I should however, I have been watching the development of the MKA 1919 as a competitive shotgun.  Partly because I am wary of low serial numbers, but also because magazines of greater than 5 round capacity were not readily available for the MKA 1919.  It offers several advantages over the Saiga platform, namely: straight-insertion magazines, ability to seat a magazine on a closed bolt, the magazine release button, bolt release and safety lever are in the same place as the M16/AR15 family, internally threaded choke tubes using the common WinChoke thread and it has a last round bolt hold-open.  The guys at imgww have railed hand guards with side-charging handles and collapsible stock modifications too.  Supposedly a replacement lower (not the serialized part) specifically designed to mount AR-type stocks is in the works also. Now that factory 10 rounders are available, even at $80 per mag, [down from $129 O_o although rumor is ProMag *cough* will be offering one for $33], I might have to consider getting one just for the cool factor.  I do love a ridiculously overdone [This is my] Boomstick.

Which leads me to my last pic of the day: EMF’s Baker Shotgun.  It’s esssentially Pedersoli’s Howdah pistol with a stock but it does have its own charm.  Charming in that you can blast your target and set it on fire at the same time.  (apologies for the lack of focus)

EMF Baker Cavalry Shotgun - Brutal Charm

EMF Baker Cavalry Shotgun – Brutal Charm

That’s it for today.  Check back for more tomorrow.

Saiga 12 DIY project complete [w/ notes and pics]

I’ve had a Saiga 12 for a well over a year now but hadn’t gotten around to doing the trigger group/pistol grip conversion.   After reading Linoge’s posts about his recent acquisition: Vera (and my correct guess as to its identity thus allowing him to share it with the world), my interest to see the project through was rekindled.  I ordered parts from Carolina Shooters Supply and used the Saiga 12 forum discount code to get 5% off.   Props must be given to CSS; the parts were ordered in the late afternoon on a Friday and were shipped the same day.  CSS also has helpful videos on how to go about the procedure once the parts are in hand.

This was not the first S-12 conversion I have performed.  The first was for a buddy whose girlfriend asked me what gun-thing she should get for his birthday last year.  I told her about the kits and told her I would perform the surgery so she could surprise him.  Upon receiving it, he of course instantly realized she was a keeper and married her.  Of course, having his gun to practice on helped and my conversion was easier and faster.  I also learned in between that I wanted a AR stock adapter for mine.  My buddy’s kit came with a K-Var polymer stock with a steel buttplate.  Being the sort to perform my due diligence before turning over the gun to said buddy, I ‘function tested’ it with 50 rounds of high brass birdshot.  [Warning: incoming exaggeration] The sensation of doing so can accurately be replicated by placing a can of Spam again your shoulder, lid towards you, and having someone repeatedly smack it with a sledgehammer.  Also learned from the first build was that while I like the Ergo grips on my AR’s, the Ergo AK grip placed my hand too low and thus my finger too low on the trigger to be comfortable.

My friend’s Saiga 12 that I got to practice on

For my build I used the CSS trigger guard and trigger kit with a Hogue AK grip, a CAA AK aluminum stock adapter and Magpul MOE stock.  Addtionally I added the V-plug from MD Arms for gas port regulation.  Just for additional CDI factor, I added a DPH Phantom Flash Enhancer.  Funny thing, the muzzle device didn’t look that big on the webpage…

Phantom Flash Enhancer for Saiga 12

The major lesson learned this go around (and what really helped speed the project) was learning how to properly use a cobalt drill bit.  A small thing yes, but important: Go slow.  Don’t get anxious once the bit starts biting into the steel and go full throttle.  You will burn the bit causing it to lose its temper (literally) and it won’t cut ever again.  There, four dollars and time saved.

I’m also glad I got the Hogue grip.  It did require fitting in order to be placed forward enough to seat the attachment screw, but comfort and hand placement is much improved compared to the Ergo AK grip.  The CAA stock adapter required judicious amounts of filing and fitting to attach mostly due to the head of rearmost triggerguard screw.

So how did it turn out?  Have a gander.

mostly converted at this point; did you know a MASH clip fit the hole in the tang nicely?

Completed S12 DIY project ready for testing

With everything finally fitted and secured with locktite, I ventured out for a function test yesterday with 25 rounds of Winchester Super Speed birdshot and 30 rounds of Winchester Super X buckshot (2 3/4″ 9 pellet OO buck).  After getting the gas port set, it ran like a top using 10 round magazines from AGP.  Next outing I might try a drum from MD Arms.  My shoulder has convinced me to add an extended recoil pad too.  I’m interested to see how well the MOE stock holds up to repeated use and I’m also considering adding some sort of top rail (any recommendations?) with a Primary Arms micro RDS.

Best of all, as I was cleaning up another shooter came over to mention that the range is having an Action Shotgun match Sunday morning!  Guess where I’ll be.  What better way to build my own familiarity and competence with the platform and test its reliability than to run it in a match?  All in all, even though it’s not nearly as cool as Linoge’s, I am quite happy with my Saiga 12 and am looking forward to more fun with it.

FCC notice: Nothing comes for free and certainly not all the stuff I bought to complete this project.

How To: Install a Mag Cinch (with Pictures)

Previously, I had not experimented with rifle magazines ‘jungle clipped’ together.  As my gunsmith said, “I’ve haven’t yet had to shoot anything more than 30 times”.  A quick search of the interwebs quickly found apocryphal stories of jungle clipped ammo where recoil caused the spare (non-seated) magazine to eject live rounds every time the gun fired, leaving the hapless shooter trying to reload with a mostly empty second mag.  Which I suppose could happen… maybe…

Still, it’s a gun accessory I wanted to investigate (and seemingly a popular one for all the versions available: Mag Cinch, Blackhawk?, Command Arms, Springer Precision, Mako Group, etc.)  Also, with the AR15 being the ‘Mr. Potato Head’ of firearms, isn’t it incumbent upon AR owners to try as many accessories as possible?

The Mag Cinch by Buffer Tech isn’t the original jungle clip (I believe that title belongs to duct tape) but they do have an innovative, simple and yet solid method of securing the mags.  Reading the instructions left me with a fair understanding of how to attach them but there weren’t any pics (not even at Buffer Tech’s website), something my right brain appreciates.  Another search of the world wide tubes did not reveal an instructable-type pictorial, which sounded like a waiting blog entry to me.  Thus I present to you: “How to Install a Mag Cinch”

I purchased the model for 30 round AR15 magazines.  It comes with two cinches that each look like this:

A single Mag Cinch; 2 come per pkg for a 30rd mag

A single Mag Cinch; 2 come per pkg for a 30rd mag

Note #1: The final step of securing the Mag Cinch involves trimming off the excess nylon webbing so getting it right the first time is in your best interests.  Buffer Tech sells replacement straps for $1.25

Note #2: About the first thing thing I realized when trying to take the pictures of the process was that black brackets with black webbing on a black magazine don’t show detail very well.  However, I found a solution…

Nylon Webbing from Fabric Store: $1.29 per yard

Nylon Webbing from Fabric Store: $1.29 per yard

Yes, it’s Toxic Green nylon webbing from a local fabric store.  I bought a yard and cut it in half with a hot knife (Box knife heated by propane torch) to prevent fraying.  Using a leather punch, I made a hole in the center of each half and Ta-Dah! –> replacement straps.  The selection at the fabric store allows for a wide range of choices like: tan, purple, florescent pink, black, safety orange, blue camo, rainbow (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or even Ted Nugent-approved zebra stripes.

Re-assembled with photo friendly straps

Re-assembled with photo friendly straps

Let’s Begin.  Here are the instructions from Buffer Tech [mostly verbatim with some added commentary]:

WARNING!  Important: read instructions carefully before attempting to install. Test completed assembly in unloaded firearm to insure proper clearance prior to use.

1) Adjust screw out fully, screw should be [sic] barely engage threads.

2) Place Mag Cinch unit around magazines, making sure that the large part of assembly is on the front of the magazines.  Stagger magazines so that the right one is about 1.5 inches lower than the left.  This cinch will sit at the bottom edge of the left magazine.

Position of first cinch

Position of first cinch, amount of offset may vary

3) Pull ends of webbing tight.  Use needle nose pliers to twist ends tight.  It is critical that webbing is tightly holding magazines prior to step 4.

Tighten w/ pliers; do 2x each strap, from top & bottom

Tighten w/ pliers; do 2x each strap, from top & bottom

4) Tighten screw until Mag Cinch is holding magazines snugly.

5) Repeat steps 1 – 4 with second Mag Cinch.  Adjust this unit so that it sets atop the first unit.

6) Insert magazine assembly into unloaded firearm and adjust fit to suit your needs.  Make sure you can operate charging handle, ejection port cover, safeties and other operation features.

[*This is a must; the recommended 1.5 inch offset was too much for my setup and would have impinged on the knurled screw for my Holo Sight]

Cleck clearance on the left

Last chance: Check clearance on the left

...and on the right

...and on the right

7) Tighten both screws until the magazine is firmly held in place by the webbing.

Tighten firmly

Tighten firmly

8 ) After you are sure that the unit is adjusted, cut off excess webbing.  Exposed webbing can be sealed with a lighter or match.  [*Or use hot knife to cut and seal the ends at the same time; you might want to put a piece of cardboard over the strapping that you don’t want to cut to protect it during this step.]

Trim and seal with blade

Trim and seal with blade

Afterward it should look like this:

Finished installation

Finished installation


1) The Mag Cinch holds the magazines very securely.  There is no movement at all. If forced, I almost think that the mags would give way before the cinch would.

2) The overall result is fairly large – not something that is conducive to putting in a magazine pouch.  Methods of comfortably slinging the firearm with cinched mags are reduced due to the bulk.

3) While I haven’t had the chance yet to shoot with the cinched mags to see if the ‘spare mag’ ejects live rounds during recoil (unlikely), using the MagPul P-Mag dust cover on the left magazine would certainly prevent that from happening.

4) From a practical standpoint, I’m not completely sold on ‘jungle clipping’ mags unless using them in a war zone or for action matches (3 Gun, etc.). However, if your particular storage requirements dictate having an unloaded rifle the Mag Cinch might offer a solution.  In that case, you could leave the right side magazine empty yet seated in the rifle’s mag well but also have a full magazine less than an inch away, ready to go.  I admit this defies most logic [After all, who wants an empty mag on a fighting gun?] but may allow greater readiness in situations where such policies / laws exist.

5) I need a better camera and light box setup

6) I’m pretty sure that my ‘Cinched magazines won’t be lost for lack of visibility or be confused with anyone else’s.