The basics will always be the basics. Anyone with a few years experience on the AR15 platform should be able to point new shooters towards the *essential* upgrades that we all know and understand: light, optic, sling, trigger. What else is necessary? Really, not much. With basic upgrades, the standard AR15 is capable of saving your life at point-blank and then is able to turn around and pop steel out to 500 yards. That’s versatile. So after the basics are covered, whats next? Is there anything out there that’s worth a darn? There are a number of items out there that offer unique advantages past the basics. Some of these items are more specialized, and others would benefit nearly everyone. A number of these products have made me think hmm… why didn’t I do this sooner? Without further ado: Wilson Combat Tactical Bolt Release: This item is something I didn’t know I wanted until a cast bolt release failed me. The Wilson Combat was promptly ordered as a replacement and I can’t believe how much I like it. Machined from bar stock, and retailing at around $31… This upgrade gives you an extended paddle for faster, easier bolt catch manipulation. The added leverage makes slapping the bolt catch effortless, and reaching over the optic to hit the bolt release while your slung up is also easier. I use this paddle on my personal do-all carbine and I feel way better about this machined part than the cast part it replaced. Just the pinky tip. Effortless. The bolt release has three positions and if you want the paddle vertical or horizontal… The choice is yours. Just be sure to use loctite. Get it at Palmetto State Armory by clicking here. LMT Enhanced Bolt: Do you like having peace of mind? Like having a rainy day fund. A spare tire for your car. A backup magazine for your carry piece? Well let’s extend that piece of mind to your rifle’s bolt: The LMT enhanced bolt group is made to a higher standard than a typical mil-spec bolt. From the higher grade ArMet steel to the stress relieved bolt lug and enhanced geometry… This is a bolt I want so I can hand my grandkids a working rifle. My first hand experience with this product revealed that it was boring. It simply did its job without drama. It cleaned up easy with the nickel finish and extracted each and every case without failure. LEWIS MACHINE & TOOL M16 ENHANCED BOLT 5.56 | Brownells So will you notice anything is different after installing a LMT Enhanced Bolt? No. It’s simply having such a high quality component gave me confidence in the rifle as well as piece of mind. Check it out at the link above. A Shorter Rail: This one is pretty unconventional at this time. The popular thing to do is get a longer rail for more leverage on the gun. Faster transitions, more control on follow-up shots, etc. I am moving the opposite direction. Shorter rails are stiffer rails. The longer the rail, the more leverage impacts and weight will transfer to the rail. Modern free float rails are skinny skeletonized hollow beams and this is a recipe for failure. Be it POI shift of sights and lasers, or simply bending it enough that the rail comes into contact with the gas block… I decided I needed to step back and get a stiffer product. 12 inch rails are as long as I will go. #railgate Mid length and rifle length systems get 12 inch rails on my rifles as it long enough to cover the gas block on middy carbines but not so long that becomes over leveraged by impacts. So with a stiffer rail I am confident in my rifle’s ability to reduce the chance of POI shift and I have no problem moving my gun from target to target… Even if I don’t have as much leverage as Chris Costa. Shooting Bags That Move With You: The X-Wing mounts to your sling swivel. You moving? The bag is gonna come with you. Shooting bags are an amazing upgrade to help you with positional shooting. Precision shooters have used them for years, but for most people, shooting bags are simply a tool to sight in and then they go back in the range bag. Nope. How about a bag that can be mounted on the gun so it can move with you from shot to shot? The Armageddon gear X-Wing is a tool to aid your ability to quickly setup and get on target when moving from point A to point B. It features a sling swivel adapter and velcro to let you mount in multiple ways. When paired with something like “The Brick”, then you can move and create stable shooting positions as you go… be it at competition or in the field. If you don’t have some shooting bags, then you are truly missing out on an essential tool that can KEEP YOU ON TARGET while you mount your rifle in weird positions. When shots aren’t done from a bench or a clean-cut grassy field in prone, then you will appreciate shooting bags and their ability to help you stabilize that rifle from that awkward height sappling/tailgate/fence. The Brick is runner coated and capable of being strapped to the rail. Shooting from unconventional surfaces makes these items worth their weight in beans. Wanna up your stability game? Get a Armageddon Brick or X-Wing at LarueTactical.com The Dope Roller: Data. Data is everything. I have struggled for years with laminated dope cards, dope cards taped to my stock, phone apps… I want something quick and easy to use that a) doesn’t take up much space b) doesn’t require batteries and c) i can see the data without coming off the gun. Enter the dope roller. A drum. A simple drum. It fits in the sling swivel. You write dope on it. You roll it to review said dope. Brilliant! Now your data can be on hand, easy to see, and the system takes advantage of sling swivels already present on your rifle. Neeed. Neeeeeeed. Grab one from Precision Rifle Components Here. Forward Control Designs 6315: Thinking you want a compensator but don’t want the front of your rifle to look like an artillery piece? Don’t want to spoil your rifles classic looks with a odd flash hider? Well "Forward Control Designs" has something for you. The 6315 flash hider has the look of a standard A2, but due to some tuning trickery it reportedly reduces muzzle climb by 15-20% while still reducing flash to A2 levels… and the A2 is a pretty darn good flash hider. If you want your rifle to keep its classic lines, but need a bit of a performance boost, look no further! Check out the 6315 at Forward Control designs Here. Wrapping Up: These are a few of the products I have either owned or have had my eye on. My favorite piece of gear so far has been the Wilson Combat bolt release. It’s easy and speeds up reloads by making the bolt release a bigger target. After dropping my rifle on the ground (intentionally) and suffering a bolt catch failure, it made me realize that sometimes its the details that make increase your confidence in your rifle. Cast vs tool steel? No brainer. If you haven’t subscribed to my email list, scroll back up ☝ if your on a desktop and hit subscribe. If you’re on mobile, keep scrolling down. I don’t post ads. I won’t sell your data. Notifications of new articles are all you are gonna get dad gummit! Lothaen Out! Share: Google Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit More Tumblr LinkedIn Pocket Email Print
The scene is Las Vegas, NV. The event is my first first SHOT Show experience. I, a shy female shooter, only newly introduced to the wide, and varied firearms culture outside of my own upbringing, was absolutely agape. Nothing could have prepared me for the sea of humanity surrounding thousands of islands of every piece of shooting, hunting, or outdoor gear I never even knew existed. In planning out what I wanted to accomplish during the scant four days of SHOT, I drafted up a long list of all the firearms and gear manufacturers I wanted to try to see my first time in Vegas. One of the largest manufacturers on that list was SIG Sauer—I had to make use of this opportunity to check out the new pistol I had heard they were planning to display at the show, the P224. Finally, after two more years of making firearms related videos, and one year after embarking upon my written career in the shooting sports world, I found myself on a test and eval waiting list for the little pistol that I remembered from my very first Show. I’ve had a great time pouring lead through it, seeing how it handles at the range, and can now share my review with you. Features Grip My hands tend to fall a bit short of the mitts most men sport, but they are average-to-large compared to most other ladies. That being said, I still found the P224’s 1.4” wide grip left my pinky without purchase. Were the T&E pistol I received chambered for the less energetic 9mm, I may not have considered that an issue, but the .357 SIG has a way of bucking that makes a shooter appreciate a little extra surface area to hang on to. On the positive side, though, shaving down the grip gives this little SIG an edge in concealability over its larger SIG siblings, the full size P226 and the compact P229. , The punchy recoil of the .357 SIG round had me wishing the P224’s grip sacrificed some concealed carry friendliness in exchange for a more aggressive beavertail. Although the grip is short, it isn’t lacking in comfort. The one piece Hogue custom G10 grip piece provides a comfortable, yet sufficiently textured grip surface. The issues that I’ve had with trigger reach on the full size P226 were non-existent with the newer baby SIG. Trigger I’ve always had good experiences with the triggers on SIG pistols, and the P224 is no exception. The P224 is offered with either DAK or DA/SA triggers. The model in this review uses the DA/SA system. The SIG’s double action travel is moderate. SIG’s website puts the double action pull weight at 10lbs, but my Lyman trigger gauge averaged it at 10lbs 12oz. It sounds heavy, but the travel is smooth and consistent, with a distinct break. In practice, I found the heavy trigger didn’t effect my ability to keep shots on target. As one would expect, the single action pull is both shorter (the travel drops from ¾” down to ⅜”), and lighter, pegging my Lyman gauge at an average pull of 5lbs 11oz. Sights The P224 uses three dot system SIGLITE night sights. I found the fixed sights to provide ample sight picture in any light condition, despite the cropped sight radius of 5.3 inches. The dots are large enough to track easily between shots, even with the .357 SIG’s recoil. It has been my experience with some SIG pistols that they require a lower 6 o’clock hold, but with the P224, a combat hold worked just fine. Slide The Nitron-coated steel slide features roll-marked engraving on one side and houses the P224’s bantam 3.5 inch barrel. With such a short barrel, and therefore short sight radius, I anticipated some degree of negative impact to accuracy on the range, but that has not been the case. The compressed .357 pistol is a handheld tack driver (more on that in the Accuracy section below). The The P224’s solid hammer actions neatly. If you need to manually cock the checkered hammer, its size allows it to be manipulated with one hand. One feature you won’t find on the P224’s slide is a loaded chamber indicator (LCI). No LCI means this pistol isn’t California friendly; combined with the lack of magazine disconnect, it’s not Massachusetts approved, either—sorry guys. Frame The aluminum alloy frame helps to keep the full metal pistol’s weight down. Unloaded, the P224 weighs in at 29.0oz, which is 3oz less than the compact P229, and five ounces less than the full size P226. The hard anodized frame includes front strap checkering and right-handed controls: decocker, (reversible) magazine release, slide release, and takedown lever, all with checkered faces. This subcompact does not feature an accessory rail. Case The .357 SIG P224 comes in a SIG Sauer branded hard case with two 10 round magazines. Field Strip The P224’s takedown is simple. First, make sure the firearm is clear. Keeping the magazine out, lock the slide back to the rear. With the slide locked back, rotate the takedown lever downward into a vertical position. From there, you can grab the slide and as you hit the slide release, it will slip forward off the frame. After that, you can push the guide rod forward (toward the muzzle), compressing the spring enough to remove it and the recoil spring. With the recoil spring and guide rod removed, you’re free to pull the barrel out through the underside of the slide. Easy peasy. Comparison SIG markets the P224 as a cropped version of their larger duty-style handguns, the full size P226 and the compact P229. If you were curious just how “chopped” the P224 is in comparison to either larger pistol, I’ve drawn up a table for comparison. P224 P229 P226 Height (overall) 4.5in 5.4in 5.5in Length (overall) 6.7in 7.1in 7.7in Width (overall) 1.4in 1.5in 1.5in Barrel length 3.5in 3.9in 4.4in Capacity 12 (9mm), 10 (.40/.357) 13 (9mm), 12 (.40/.357) 15 (9mm), 12 (.40/.357) Thanks to my dad, I have a P226 on hand to check out side-by-side with the P224. The P224 is noticeably shorter—one inch, precisely—in height and length. Within the P226’s slide is a barrel 0.9” longer than that of the subcompact. If you compare the widths of both pistols, however, the difference is less substantial. They differ only by one tenth of an inch. Range Performance Accuracy When I first brought the SIG P224 out to the range, I wondered whether the short 3.5 inch barrel was enough to effectively manage the recoil of the hot .357 SIG round. After several boxes .357, namely Fiocchi 124gr (1,350 fps muzzle velocity), Sellier & Bellot 140gr (1,352 fps muzzle velocity), totaling some 500+ rounds, I’ve discovered accuracy is a non-issue. During many of my range sessions with the P224, I shot it from 30ft at a steel Action Target Tactical Torso silhouette with a swinging chest and head plate. I had no issue putting all 10 rounds through the 3″ triangle head plate. I won’t pretend the little guy doesn’t jump while I’m shooting, but I’ll get into that in the Perceived Recoil section. Reliability In my testing process, the P224 fired reliably. The handful of errors I witnessed with this pistol can each be traced back to limp wristing. The little subcompact is just too spirited to not require a little manhandling. This was where I found myself wishing it had a nice beavertail to work with. That would make acquiring an effective grip faster with less need for muscle memory development. Perceived Recoil & Ammunition This is one area where the .357 SIG round makes quite a difference. The .357 SIG was developed as a .40 S&W, necked down to receive a 9mm projectile. This development was purported to give the shorter round similar ballistic performance to the already popular .357 S&W Magnum cartridge. A comparison of several brands of .357 SIG and .357 Magnum ammunition yield similar muzzle velocities: ~1,400 fps, +/- 50 fps. This is notably punchier than the standard muzzle velocities of either .40 S&W or 9mm cartridges (for which the P224 may also be chambered), which average closer to the 1,000 fps range. Not surprisingly, this means that the .357 SIG, namely when fired through this small subcompact, results in some prominent perceived recoil. Fortunately, although the P224 demonstrates notable perceived recoil when firing the .357 SIG round, it’s not as snappy of an experience as I had expected. Similar to the “push” the .45 ACP round is often described to cause, the force of the kick feels more rearward in its direction than upward. The result is a fast, accurate round without the negative impact of sharp muzzle flip. Besides the perceived recoil effect, there are two other points to consider when debating a P224 in .357 SIG: cost and availability. While it isn’t impossible to locate .357 SIG, it is notably less common than other self defense calibers, such as 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. In preparation for my review, I did a good deal of driving around to the different ranges and firearms stores to find enough ammo to test. Granted, if you shop around, you’re likely to find better deals, but when I got a hold of .357 SIG, it generally didn’t sell cheaper than $25 for a box of 50. While I wouldn’t consider 50¢/round an exorbitant price—after all, I’ve spent $2.50/round on .500 S&W (ouch!)—the more you train with it, the more of a burden the ammo cost becomes—just a little food for thought. Price Like most SIG pistols, quality comes at a price. The MSRP for the P224 Nitron featured in this review is $1,108. If you feel like splurging, however, SIG offers some enhanced P224 models, including the P224 SAS ($1,149), P224 Nickel ($1,125), P224 Equinox ($1,243), or, my favorite, the P224 Extreme ($1,170). Carry According to SIG , the P224 was specifically designed to accommodate concealed carry. The grip shaves 0.1 inches off of the P229 and P226’s 1.5″ width, but the most significant size reduction is visible in the overall length and height. The reduced P224 stretches 6.7in long with a height of 4.5 inches. These dimensions bring the SIG into the size realm of Springfield Armory’s newer subcompact, the XD-S 4.0. The XD-S 4.0 runs an overall length of 7.0″, nearly one-third inch longer than the subcompact SIG, but with an overall height of 4.4″, it is a touch shorter than the P224. One of the perks of the P224 is that you have options, whether you prefer the convenience—and additional two rounds of capacity—of the 9mm, the pop of the .357, or the “compromise” between the two, .40 S&W. Those who already carry larger SIG pistols might also appreciate the similar manual of arms in a smaller pistol package. Tiny disclaimer: my personal experience is inescapably colored by the fact that I’m a woman. That being said, I found that the little SIG carries like an overweight XD-S. I especially appreciated the short slide and grip when tucking it into my jeans—less there to print under my tshirt and cami. However, I did find the P224 a bit wide. It’s actually wider than my 1.25in full size Beretta M9 pistol by 0.15in. The SIG extends an extra half inch more than the narrow XD-S’s 0.9 inches, which made my skinny jeans fit a tad tighter than I normally like. Final Thoughts The quality that the Navy SEALs rely on in their SIG sidearm can be seen in its subcompact little brother, the P224. As a subcompact, the P224 is the next step in taking a popular full size, and compact pistol, and scaling it down to meet new needs. The drop in stature and snag-free design has its drawbacks in recoil management when used with the high powered .357 SIG round, but if the .357 isn’t what you need for self defense, you’re not without options. The P224’s form and function demonstrate that it was purpose-built to better suit concealment needs of officers and self defense carriers alike. The SIG P224 may be smaller than its predecessors, but don’t let that fool you; the .357 SIG gives the little P224 a lot of guts. Specs Caliber: .357 SIG (also offered in 9mm & .40 S&W) Capacity: 10+1 Weight: 29.0oz Frame material: Hard anodized aluminum alloy Slide material: Nitron coated steel Barrel length: 3.5in Overall length: 6.7in Overall height: 4.5in Width: 1.4in MSRP: $1,108 Featured image courtesy of sigsauer.com
by Mike Jones There was a wild squeal as gears shifted before the ramp to the C-130J opened, my peltors clicked out for a moment blocking the sound and all at once I felt the pressure change against my skin and deep inside my ears. The loud drone of the engines filled the inside of the aircraft as our eyes adjusted to the sunlight. The late afternoon sun burned away the darkness and illuminated us clad in Crye multicams with MC-6 static line parachutes on our backs and 50 pounds rucks hanging between our legs. The ramp opened fully and I could clearly see the ground flashing by 1250 feet beneath us as the C-130J slowed to a snail’s pace of 130 knots. I held my static line firmly as the Jumpmaster gave us the stand-by signal. The light turned from no-go to green go, “GO GO GO!” he gave the first jumper a solid slap on the ass, the first jumper walked off the edge of the ramp and we all followed. I felt the familiar rush as I dropped from the C-130J, the gusts of wind quickly faded as my parachute inflated until the only sounds I could hear were the soft rustles of my parachute in the wind against the late October sky and my ruck creaking beneath me. I quickly tested the steering on my parachute to ensure my risers were working before I turned myself towards the designated landing area. 1 minute or so later and I was at 200 feet above ground level. I looked down and grasped my ruck’s release tab and pulled up, it released with a soft whoosh of Velcro and fell then stopped as my lowering line arrested its fall. So far so good. I steered my parachute into the wind and prepared for impact. I heard my ruck hit below me which gave me little less than a second before I impacted. A sudden gust of wind caught me and I landed cross-wind. In the blur of impacts that followed my head hit a rock. I stood up, somewhat dazed, and gave the medics a thumbs up. I then continued for the rest of my mission. When it comes to hard impacts on ballistic helmet you want to be sure your helmet can take them and still retain full ballistic integrity. I had no qualms as I was wearing the Safariland Group Protech Tactical Delta X helmet . When working in non-permissive environments you expect a lot from your helmet. It needs to be light, have the highest fragmentation protection possible, and be able to stop type IIIA handgun threats. Most ballistic helmets do the latter. Fewer do frag and IIIA threats. And it gets narrowed down to a couple when it comes to being lightweight. The Delta X shell weighs a mere 1.26 lbs, and with suspension, rails, shroud and pads it comes in at 2.2 lbs. Compare this to most other high-cut helmets which weigh in around 2.4-2.8 lbs complete. This puts it as the lightest helmet meeting the above standards on the market as of this writing. Does this small amount of weight make a difference? It depends on what you do. I’ll tell you that I can certainly feel the difference when doing long missions wearing this helmet. That’s less weight compressing the vertebrae of my neck which equals less pain. This keeps me more alert and aware of what’s occurring around me. And if you’re used to wearing the MICH 2001 or ACH type helmets you’ll be amazed at the difference as the Delta X sports a 40% weight reduction compared to many of those systems. The Delta X helmet is a true one-size fits all affair due to the padding and suspension system which allows it to accommodate a wide variety of heads. I’ve had numerous individuals within my job try this helmet out and all were able to get it sized correctly. After Protech designed this ultralight weight helmet shell they outfitted it with some of the best pads, shrouds and suspension systems on the market. The Delta X sports the Team Wendy Epic Air pads. I’ve used this system in the past with various different helmets and I’ve been a fan over standard pads that you can get. It allows for better air flow compared to many of the liner systems you can find. Air flow in helmet designs is an often overlooked quality. The less air flow you get the more you sweat. The more you sweat the more water you need to carry with you which increases weight. If you don’t have that water you begin to dehydrate or you have to plan your mission route around resupply or water sources. Moral of the story, have good air flow in your helmets. The Delta X has great air flow, I’ve hiked, ran, shot, jumped from planes and exercised in it and it outperforms every helmet I’ve tried in the past in regards to air flow sans the Crye AirFrame. However it out paces the Crye AirFrame in every other category. To allow for the universal fit I spoke of above Protech went with the Team Wendy Cam-Fit retention system which utilizes a Boa closure system which basically stabilizes the weight of the helmet by applying an even pressure around the entirety of the head. What this translates to is little to no pressure spots while using it. This is my first time using the Team Wendy Cam-Fit system and I am very impressed with how comfortable it is and how well it stabilizes night vision goggles on my head. I’ve noticed no shifting or backing off once the system had been set which stands in stark comparison to a couple other systems I’ve used that need to be constantly tightened. Again, there are many cheap helmets out there. But many times they are using substandard suspension systems. What this translates to is the helmet shifting during hard movement, IE during times you need that helmet not to shift such as bringing your weapon up and your head down to the optic, or snapping your head left or right then turning to engage. Nothing is more infuriating than bringing your head down to your optic in a CQB shoot house only to have your helmet shift forward, mash your glasses into your face and bash the top of your nose. Then while your eyes water in pain you take a burst of simunition rounds to the chest. I’ve jumped from a plane traveling at 130 knots and this helmet has never shifted on me. I have confidence in this system and that is worth way more than this helmet will ever cost. The Delta X helmet uses the Wilcox L4 series of NVG shroud which are among the best on the market and are known for being robust and sturdy. They’re used by conventional and special operations around the world and Protec made an excellent choice going with the L4 series. One of the more forward thinking features on the Delta X is the boltless rail system used. The rail is attached via a high strength epoxy. While it seems unorthodox it has a purpose. Because no holes are drilled into the helmet there are no points on the helmet where the ballistic integrity is compromised. ArmorSource calls this system the Universal Boltless Rail System and they’ve put countless time into testing the strength and durability of an epoxy attachment system. I’ve had peltors and lights attached to these rails without any problems, I’ve seen nothing that would indicate it will ever be separating from the helmet and I’ve put this helmet through some very hard hits. With this in mind I feel very confident in this helmet’s ability to effectively stop rounds. The Delta X is in my opinion the latest and greatest in ultralight weight helmet design. It sports the lightest shell on the market that has superb frag and type IIIA handgun protection. Protech did their homework and outfitted this helmet with the best helmet accessories available today. What you get is a premium helmet which is to date the most comfortable ballistic helmet I’ve ever worn. Words fail me when it comes to expressing how much this helmet has relieved neck pain I typically get when running long tempo ops. The features and engineering all come together to give you a robust helmet that will not fail you when your life depends on it. Money cannot buy that kind of confidence. This is my go to helmet for the foreseeable future. Mike Jones Michael Jones is an Active Duty USAF SERE Specialist (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) currently residing in Eastern Washington. He spends his time teaching SERE and parachuting from anything that flies. On his off time he shoots and spends time with his family. This post first appeared on loadoutroom.com
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s Here they are…our handpicked Memorial Day deals for 2020! We got all our favorite retailers’ deals but we’ll keep checking through every few hours through Monday to see if there’s more. Table of Contents Loading... Aero Precision Deals are here! Sadly no percent off, but free shipping on all orders and a bunch of select items on sale. Geissele 2-Stage G2S Trigger – $150 It’s the budget-friendly version of their Special Forces equipped SSA-E trigger. Geissele Trigger VG6 Gamma 556EX We love VG6 muzzle devices and the EX version is a muzzle brake and compensator hybrid. Check out more deals on rails, VG6 muzzle devices, and barrels at their Memorial Day Sales page. Palmetto State Armory Ammo, Glock and AR Magazines, even complete firearms like the Mossberg 590, to PSA branded AR-15s, AR-10s, and AR-Pistols PSA has a huge Memorial day sale going on! See all their deals HERE . Our special picks: PSA 16″ Mid-Length 5.56 NATO Stainless Steel Rifle with EPT Trigger and Magpul Stock – $699 This is a NICE deal! Coming with a bunch of upgrades over the standard PSA rifle including the stainless steel barrel, Enhanced Polished Trigger, and a Carpenter 158 bolt. PSA 16″ Mid-Length 5.56 NATO "Stainless Steel Rifle" with EPT Trigger and Magpul Stock And hot on the heels of our PSA Rifle Review …one of my favorites. PSA 5.56 & .223 Wylde Sig Sauer P365 TACPAC — $550! P365 TACPAC Nice package deal if you’re looking for a new CCW. The P365 is one of our favorit CCW pistols on the market right now and this TACPAC comes with 3 12-round magazines and a holster. 10.5″ AR-15 Pistol Build Kit for $399 Looking to build out an AR-15 pistol? This 10.5″ upper is our favorite from our reviews ( full review here ). Tested PSA AR-15 10.5 Upper with Aimpoint PRO Check it out here . Ammo Not much of a deal…but these ammo favorites are still in stock: American Eagle 5.56 XM193 55gr for 42 cents a round CCI Blazer Brass 9mm for 31 cents a round See all the rest of the PSA deals HERE Primary Arms MASSIVE sale going on everything from Aimpoint to complete uppers! Just a couple of the best deals we saw: Trijicon AccuPower 1-4×24 Scopes for $400 (normally $600)! Trijicon AccuPower 1-4×24 Burris Optics PEPR Scope Mount 1″ QD – $80! Burris P.E.P.R. QD Scope Mount See all of Primary Arms’ deals here. Brownells Huge sale in full swing now at Brownells! Get Brownells branded BCGs, retro rifles, BRN-180 Uppers and more. Brownell’s Retro Uppers, Receivers, and More! Looking to build a retro AR , now is the time! BRN-10 Plus they have sales on Rise Armament, Vortex, Aero Precision, Geissele, and a lot more! Complete BCM Lowers w/ BCM Gunfighter or SOPMOD Stock – $380+ BCM complete lower One of our favorite lowers in one of our favorite overall AR-15s. Full review of the Recce 16 . BCM with Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS Brownells Coupons: “ WBW ” for $20 off $200 And the rest of their Memorial Day Sales here . STNGR Need some new eye protection? STNGR has you covered with a nice 15% off coupon until Monday night! STNGR Ballistic Sunglasses (T to B), Ridge, Ridge, Alpine We really like their affordable handguards ( review ) and have been testing their ANSI Z87.1 shatterproof lens equipped sunglasses recently. STNGR VYPR Handguard, Full Rifle They look good, feel great, and are seriously tough. Use code “ MDEYEWARE15 ” for 15% off your order! STNGR Alpine Sunglasses (Medium) 87 at STNGR Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 87 at STNGR Prices accurate at time of writing STNGR Ridge Sunglasses (Large) 89 at STNGR Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 89 at STNGR Prices accurate at time of writing We go over them in detail in our Best Shooting Glasses article. Olight It’s not just for Memorial Day, use code “ PEWPEWTACTICAL ” for 10% off and free shipping any Olight order! Olight PL-MINI 2 and PL-PRO Olight PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie 600 Lumens 89 at Olight Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 89 at Olight Compare prices (3 found) Olight (See Price) Amazon (See Price) Optics Planet (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing We’ve been testing these for a few months now and highly recommend both their handheld lights and the weapon mounted lights . Stock it deep! Olight PL-PRO Valkyrie 1500 Lumen Weaponlight 129 at Olight Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 129 at Olight Compare prices (2 found) Olight (See Price) Amazon (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Surviveware For MONDAY only grab 20% off sitewide on Surviveware with code “ MEM2020 “! From first aid to survival, you can really stock up on gear during this sale. Don’t miss out! Surviveware Kits Surviveware Large First-Aid Kit 106 at Surviveware Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 106 at Surviveware Compare prices (2 found) Surviveware (See Price) Amazon (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Faxon Faxon doesn’t have a Memorial Day Sale but has some good looking t-shirts with all proceeds helping children of fallen patriots. Optics Planet Get up to 15% back on select products including Vortex, Aimpoint, Leupold, Vertx, and more! Sig Sauer Tango4 6-24x50mm Riflescope – $595 PLUS $89 OP Bucks Back! "Sig Sauer Tango4" 6-24x50mm Riflescope See all of Optics Planet’s Memorial Deals here. Shoot Steel WOOOO, now this is a SALE! Get 15% off on all sales up to $199 Get 20% AND FREE SHIPPING on orders over $200! Sounds like it’s time to get that speed rack you’ve always wanted! Shoot Steel Speed Rack 356 at Shoot Steel Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 356 at Shoot Steel Prices accurate at time of writing One of our favorites (that you’ll see in our new videos) is their standing IPSC target. Shoot Steel 3/8" AR500 12x20 Static Target Package 210 at Shoot Steel Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 210 at Shoot Steel Prices accurate at time of writing SecureIt Gun Storage We love SecureIt, and they now have 15% off nearly sitewide . SecureIt Agile 52, Open Unlike other safes which are a hassle to install…the Agile 52 comes flat-packed (so you can get it into your room/upstairs) and all assembly is internal. One of our favorites from our Best Gun Safes article…and we have a comprehensive review too. Wise Company Wiped out of stock during COVID, we don’t know if they will have a sale this year — but we’re hopeful! Great for camping trips, prepping, or just being ready in case there is a fire or earthquake and you need to rely on yourself for a few days. Best of all? These actually taste like real food (unlike most other prepper foods)! Resurgent Arms BIG sale this year for featureless builds. Starting FRIDAY get ALL grips and grip kit bundles $6 off, Endplates $3 off, and extended safeties are $3 off a single and $5 off a double. AND this stacks with the PEWPEW10 coupon code getting you an extra 10% off your order PLUS free shipping ! Resurgent Arms Grip Their V2 Extended Safeties are also now shipping! Resurgent Arms Extended Safety v2 Read more about them and other awesome CA grip options in the Best AR/AK Featureless Grip review! Parcil Distribution Starting Friday, get 20% off your order ! Clean and simple, no codes needed. T-60 and PD-100 Respirators If you’re looking for a mask in these times, you should take a look at this sale. You should also read up on the Best Gas Masks, Face Masks, Respirators, & Filters [Hands-On] . PD-100 Full Face Respirator 99 at Parcil Distribution Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 99 at Parcil Distribution Prices accurate at time of writing GunPrime Nothing huge, but they do have some nice deals on firearms right now. My top pick would be the Mossberg 940 JM Pro for $996! Mossberg JM Pro 940 996 at GunPrime Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 996 at GunPrime Compare prices (3 found) GunPrime (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Kentucky Gun Co (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing These are REALLY hard to find in stock right now and they are amazing to shoot. Mossberg 940 JM Pro at SHOT Show 2020 Check out the rest of Gun Prime’s Deals. Kentucky Gun Company Lots of sales from one of our favorite online firearm retailers. 2 Anderson “No Logo” Lowers for $66 Great for a couple builds and the stealth lower doesn’t give away that you have a “poverty pony”. We’ve run a couple and we can’t tell the difference! Taurus G2C for $219 Great deal for a tiny and reliable concealed carry gun. See our full review here. Taurus G2C and chips Check out the rest of Kygunco’s Deals. Patriot Pin Another company for our featureless bois out there. Patriot Pin’s system is our favorite for having a locked magazine for your AR-15, AR-10, and now VR-80. Patriot Pin 2.0 Full review of the system here . 10% off for Memorial Day sitewide! Check it out here.
Since their invention in the 18th century by gunmaker Joseph Manton, side by side shotguns have been an undisputed emblem of class and opulence. Used for everything from sports and hunting to wild west gunfights, these shotguns are still loved and haven’t lost relevance. Here we will understand these shotguns in-depth, while also reviewing the best side by sides available on the market today. So keep your eyes peeled, and keep scrolling. At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Side By Side Shotguns OUR TOP PICK: CZ-USA Hammer Classic 30" 12 Gauge BEST SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN FOR THE MONEY: Browning Side-By-Side (BSS) BEST 20 GAUGE SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN: Dickinson Arms ST Estate 28" 20/28 Gauge BEST 410 SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN: CZ-USA Sharp-Tail 28" 410 Gauge Comparison Chart of the Best Side By Side Shotguns IMAGE PRODUCT Our Top Pick CZ-USA Hammer Classic 30" 12 Gauge Fixed engraved wooden stock with pistol style grip Long 30" barrel for accuracy and 5 interchangeable chokes Dual trigger mechanism for more versatility while shooting View Latest Price → Browning Side-By-Side (BSS) Beautifully finished and rare Browning SXS shotgun 2.75" chamber and a 26 barrel for versatile applications Coin finished receiver featuring detailed scrollwork improves appearance "View Latest Price" → Dickinson Arms ST Estate 28" 20/28 Gauge 20/28 gauge shotgun with brass bead front and impeccable aesthetics 24 lines per inches hand checkering on stock and forend Double trigger, automatic ejectors and a long and slim design View Latest Price → CZ-USA Sharp-Tail 28" 410 Gauge Mechanical selectable trigger and box lock frame design Independent floating firing pins and coil spring hammers Raised rib chrome line barrel with fixed IC/Mod choke View Latest Price → What is a Side By Side Shotgun? As the name indicates, a side by side is a shotgun with two barrels aligned horizontally parallel to each other. A big advantage of having two barrels is that each of the barrels can have a different choke for close or ranged shots. These shotguns have a maximum capacity of two shells and have a very simple and reliable operating mechanism due to the lesser number of internal parts. Side by side shotguns became extremely popular in the wild west as coach guns and were used for guarding train coaches and wagons against bandits, due to their wide patterning capabilities on a short-range. These guns have also been used widely for hunting. Some high-end models featuring a meticulous design are a great collectible these days and can cost around hundreds of thousands of dollars in price. Source How Does a Side By Side Shotgun Work? The mechanism of a side by side shotgun is pretty simple. You grab two shotgun shells and push them manually inside each barrel. Locking the barrel back in place automatically cocks the action (if it’s a non-exposed hammer design). Some of these shotguns feature double triggers (one of each barrel), whereas some have a single selective trigger to choose which barrel fires first. The shot from the two barrels usually converges at 40 yards, which is the range up to which these guns are very accurate. Each of these barrels can have a different choke if needed. Plus, double trigger models also allow you to fire both barrels at once by pulling both the triggers at the same time. The gun can have an extractor or ejector for pulling out spent shells. What to Look For When Buying a Side By Side Shotgun Side by side shotguns are a long term investment. So there are certain factors you should keep an eye out for when buying such a weapon. Let’s discuss them in detail. Trigger SxS shotguns can either have a double trigger or a single selective trigger. While specially designed SS triggers can automatically switch to the next round even if the first one is a dud. However, double triggers offer more versatility on choosing the barrel, but at the cost of crisp pull. Barrel Length Barrel length for sxs shotguns can range anywhere between 20 to 30 inches, or even more. It is better to decide what use you’ll be putting the shotgun up to and what barrel length will work best for you. Aesthetics and Wood These shotguns are renowned for their aesthetics and scrollwork. While models with deliberate and meticulous craftsmanship definitely cost more, they are a worthwhile investment in the long term if you are ready to pay their price. Source Hammer You can choose between a classic exposed hammer or the latest concealed hammer design. Each of them has its own benefits and emotional factors. While the former is safer, the latter protects the weapon from snagging. Ejector/Extractor An extractor pulls up the spent cases a bit to help you extract them manually. Whereas an ejector throws out the spent cases for faster reloading. The latter is more preferred by competitive shooters for quicker follow-up shots. Gauge SxS shotguns come in all gauges. It can be a 12 gauge , 20/28 gauge, or even 410 bore. 12 gauge versions are good for overall applications whereas 20 and 410 are good for youngsters and hunting birds. Quick Take - The Best Side By Side Shotguns These are our recommendations for the best side by side shotguns: CZ-USA Hammer Classic 30" 12 Gauge Browning Side-By-Side (BSS) Dickinson Arms ST Estate 28"" 20/28 Gauge Review of the Best Side By Side Shotguns Compiling the best side by side shotguns on a small list is nearly impossible. There are models that have attained excellence in craftsmanship and class and can cost more than a Tesla in price. Our list includes some of the most popular, easily available, and affordable models that can be bought practically. Best Overall: CZ-USA Hammer Classic 30" 12 Gauge CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Long barrel and wide flat rib Case hardened sidelock receiver Detailed hand scrollwork and engraving Chrome lined bores and durable construction Classic exposed hammer design for retro feel and safety Cons Hammer is prone to snagging Needs a buttpad as the rear is steel What Recent Buyers Report This gun is hands down the best bang for your buck. The finish and fit of the gun are just perfect, and it works great as a field and target gun. The gun shoots well and is very easy to handle. However, almost every user recommended getting a good recoil pad since the buttpad is steel and the recoil will start hurting after a few shots. Why it Stands Out to Us The CZ-USA Hammer classic side by side shotgun is an amazingly affordable sidelock action shotgun (without debating about sidelocks guns being expensive) you can find on the market today. The long 30” inch barrel is sufficient for taking down birds and clays at the field. Which is certainly what this shotgun is used for the most. The eloquent scrollwork is what you find on expensive shotguns, and the stock wood is at least grade III. The gun comes with 5 screw-in interchangeable choke tubes and has a very good swing. It has dual triggers and exposed hammers to give you that classic feel and function. Bottom Line The Hammer Classic is an affordable sxs shotgun with an impeccably reliable action and mechanism. There’s no shotgun that can surpass its quality in its class. If cared for properly, you can rest assured about passing it down to your grandchildren. Runner-up: Browning Side-By-Side (BSS) CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Excellent upland and turkey gun Stout gun with a very sturdy construction Detailed scrollwork and amazing aesthetics Sidelock action and concealed hammer design Widely appraised and collectible shotgun today Good length (26”) barrel for multiple applications Cons Pricey for some buyers Kick hard due to light weight "What Recent Buyers" Report The Browning BSS went out of production in 1983, and what can be bought today are the ones on resale. This gun is built like a tank and will seldom jam if it has been cared for properly. The gun is just 6.4 lbs in weight and very easy to carry and maintain. Why it Stands Out to Us The Browning BSS is a very rare find these days. Even the one included in this list is a used shotgun but in a very good condition. These are great pheasant and upland bird hunting shotguns with a 26-inch barrel to provide optimal swing and accuracy. The BSS is super tough and will withstand even the most unforgiving conditions. This specific model can also be used for sporting clays if needed. Being a resale weapon, the gun has some very minor cosmetic drawbacks. But it is still a very rare and collectible gun to last for generations. Bottom Line The BSS, now not in production, is still a very sought after side by side shotgun. It offers the quality and shooting experience of a very high-end expensive shotgun while bearing a reasonable price tag for serious buyers. Additionally, the gun was made in Japan, so build quality is not a question here. Best 20 Gauge Side by Side Shotgun: Dickinson Arms ST Estate 28"" 20/28 Gauge CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Covered by a lifetime guarantee Comes with a faux-suede soft case Chrome lined barrels safe for steel shot Automatic ejectors for quicker reloading Short and flush-mounted screw-in chokes Clean and crisp trigger break. Single selective trigger Cons Mounting/dismounting chokes takes effort What Recent Buyers Report Handling this 28” long shotgun is very easy and quick. The gun itself is very light and the recoil is minimal. The shotgun features an ergonomic stock which often requires coating with linseed oil for longevity. The trigger is crisp and the gun performs perfectly in all mechanical respects. Why it Stands Out to Us The Dickinson Estate sxs shotgun is a masterpiece. With detailed scrollwork, an ergonomic English stock, long barrel, and single selective trigger. This shotgun is perfect for brushing quail, pheasant, chukar and other upland game with lead. The barrel is chromed to allow using steel shots. Plus the gun is covered by a lifetime warranty for any defects. The 3” chamber eats up all loads fed and the automatic ejectors allow for quick reloading of shells. The rounded receiver is easy to handle and the gun is very lightweight. Bottom Line "The Dickinson Estate" is an extremely attractive and accurate 20 gauge sxs shotgun, covered by a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer. It will be a delight to own this shotgun, especially while hunting birds or shooting clays in the sky. Best 410 Side by Side Shotgun: CZ-USA Sharp-Tail 28" 410 Gauge CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Ergonomic and lightweight design Raised rib barrel for better acquisition Sharp shooting action for instant effect Coil springs for longer life and consistency Longer barrel for better swing and accuracy Cons Fixed chokes What Recent Buyers Report This is a sharp-looking shotgun with outstanding aesthetics, impressive fit, and flawless action. Shouldering the gun feels very well and it breaks open without effort. The trigger pull is hard initially but will loosen up with time. The single trigger does cause a delay in the second shot, but that can be overcome with practice. Why it Stands Out to Us The CZ-USA Sharp Tail has everything you can ask from a side by side 410 bore shotgun . It is lightweight, accurate, swings perfectly, and doesn’t require maintenance. The gun has a 14.5-inch pull and doesn’t fall short on aesthetics than similarly priced 12 or 20 gauge shotguns . The chrome-lined bores accept steel shots and the raised rib improves target acquisition. Being a .410 bore, this shotgun is suitable for varmints and small birds. The long barrel does help with accuracy and swing, but the power of a .410 is still limited. The gun is very easy to carry around and requires little maintenance than other expensive models. Bottom Line With a good reputation in the 20 gauge, the Sharp-tail is the best .410 bore side by side shotgun you can find on the market. The single selective trigger may require some adherence, but the gun will be a useful weapon overall. 5. Taylor's & Co. CZ 1878 Coach Gun CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Very accurate. Even with slugs Compact design for easy handling and movement Victorian-era rebounding mule-ear external hammers Beautiful and sturdy construction with double triggers Cons Automatic safety can be annoying initially Doesn’t accept choke tubes (but it’s a coach gun anyways) What Recent Buyers Report The fit and finish of the gun are excellent. Making many people experience the class of Victorian-era guns. The packaging of this gun is very impressive and the gun itself shoots perfectly at a close range. The chambers are thick to handle hot loads. Plus, the gun will loosen up after a few sessions. Why it Stands Out to Us The CZ 1878 is a replica of the Victorian era coach guns. The classy mule-ear rebounding hammers and double triggers with detailed engravings and a shiny walnut stock make the gun look exceedingly admirable. With a short 20 inch barrel, this shotgun is great for sporting clays and hunting small game and birds. The gun features inertia firing pins and handles any 12 gauge loads up to 3” in shell length. While the non-acceptance of choke tubes will limit the applications of this shotgun to some extent. It is a perfect gun for purposes it can serve. Bottom Line The CZ 1878 is a great sxs shotgun for casual hunting, cowboy shooting, small game, and even home defense. The compact design is easily maneuverable and the gun has a classy feel to it. Best Side by Side Shotgun under $500: Stoeger Coach Side-by-Side Shotgun CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Easy to clean and maintain Compact and lightweight design Great shotgun for hunting and defense Affordable and reliable budget sxs shotgun Traditional double trigger design for quick action Cons Short effective range Substantial kick due to length, weight, and gauge What Recent Buyers Report A well built, compact, sturdy, and reliable shotgun that is perfect for hunting and close-quarter encounters. Consider adding a limbsaver pad to mitigate the heavy recoil. The gun can withstand a lot of beating and still continue to function perfectly. Why it Stands Out to Us The first factor for including this gun on our list is its low price. It is very rare to find a good sxs as this gun at such a price. The shotgun is very well built and compact enough to maneuver in close quarters. This is a great versatile shotgun that can be used for almost every shotgun application except for dedicated clay shooting and waterfowl. The gun is very easy to clean and you won’t fret if it catches a scratch on the stock. It has fixed IC/Modified chokes which do limit its application. But the gun is still very deadly and accurate for about 30-35 yards. You can also consider using it as a home defense shotgun. Bottom Line The Stoeger Coach gun is a compact and versatile shotgun capable of being used as a hunting and home defense weapon. The gun is very affordable and easy to maintain. It can be a great first-gun for people who are just starting with sxs shotguns. Perks of Getting a New Side By Side Shotgun Side by side shotguns are often not very cheap. Plus, they are among those guns that aren’t dusted and shot regularly. So before you plan on buying one, let's check out some perks of getting one. Ambidextrous Side by side shotguns are ambidextrous. Some might be cast for right or left-hand shooters, but overall they can be used by anyone without a problem. This ensures that multiple members of your family or your friends can use one. Improve Skills SxS shotguns have a capacity of only two shots. Which means you only have two attempts to get things done. Whether it be bagging a kill, or hitting a clay pigeon. Working with these guns helps you improve your accuracy and shotgun handling skills in the long term. Classic Experience These shotguns are classic weapons and bear a taste of luxury and craftsmanship with them. Shooting one of these is a very satisfying experience and has an emotional factor attached to it. Resale Value Investing in a valued sxs shotgun will turn out to be a valuable possession in the future. For example, the Browning BSS reviewed above is now out of production, but still sought after by many enthusiasts. These shotguns are known to hold their value, and often increase it. Source Side By Side vs. Over Under Shotgun - Comparison Overview Let’s understand this by looking at the similarities and differences between the two: Barrels An O/U shotgun has both barrels stacked on top of each other which keeps the sight plane common for both. A side by side shotgun has barrels aligned horizontally and their shots usually converge at 40 yards. Trigger Most O/U shotguns use a single selective barrel which can be set for the order in which the barrels fire. On the other hand sxs shotguns generally have two triggers that operate each barrel individually and also allows you to shoot them simultaneously. Chokes Both these shotguns allow you to use two chokes at once. So you may have one for close shots and another one for distant shots. Balance O/U shotguns are better at balance since barrels are stacked one on top of the other. That’s why you mostly see these shotguns at trap and skeet ranges. Side by sides are wider and require much skill. Eventually, either of these is good in its own wake. It’s the skill of the shooter that really counts. Source Conclusion Side by side shotguns are classy, meticulously designed, and high-end shotguns that have an expert bearing. Specific models of these guns are used for hunting, competitions, and even home defense. The shotgun that fits and feels the best is what you should eventually go for. People Also Ask Here's some common questions asked about shotguns, especially SxS and O/U How to Increase Drop on a SxS Shotgun With an Adjustable Butt Plate? Drop refers to the displacement on the stock with respect to the rear end of the receiver through a vertical plane. An adjustable buttplate with a vertical displacement can be shifted up to counter low drop and low to counter high drop/ How to Tighten The Action on a Side by Side Shotgun? It can be achieved by adjusting the rear bite of the shotgun. Peen the steel on the rear bite using a hammer to move the metal surface upwards, raising the surface on which the bolt bites. You may also refer to this video below. What Are Automatic Ejectors in Side by Side Shotgun? Automatic ejectors are only activated if the shell in the barrel is fired. These ejectors won’t throw out both the shells on opening the action, but only the shell has been fired. This happens due to the small spring mechanism that is only activated by the pressure of the rebounding shell. Which is Better Over Under or Side by Side Shotgun? Each of them is a great weapon in its own place. SxS shotguns have a wider sight plane, are easier to reload, and can allow you to fire both barrels at once. Whereas o/u’s are more compact, better balanced, and have stiffer barrels for quicker follow-up shots. However, it eventually comes down to what suits you the best. Source How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Sidelock and a Boxlock? Sidelocks are more complicated systems compared to a boxlock. A sidelock action can be noticed having extra screws, tumblers, or small plates along with exquisite scrollwork to cover the cosmetic factor. Whereas boxlock actions look simple and plain and won’t have any protruding screws or metal on the exterior. What Are the Different Types of Shotguns? The different types of shotguns can be classified as break action (single barrel, double barrel[side by side and over/under ]), lever action (ex. Winchester 1887), pump-action (ex. Remington 870), semi-automatic (ex. Browning BPS) and full-automatic (ex. AA-12). Shotguns will also differ in the type of ammo they use, commonly known as a gauge. The available gauges today are 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410.