April 2014

Firearms Accessory Quick Hits

We recently had a chance to evaluate four affordable additions to your semi-auto rifles and handguns and one affordable scope.

In our recent evaluations of AR-15s and AR-style 308 rifles, weíve concurrently tested some accessories that seem to have made a lot of sense off the rifles, but when put on the rifles, didnít offer the utility the makers claimed. Here are four more: the Limbsaver AR-15/M4 Snap-on Recoil Pad, $42; the Limbsaver Pro Handgun Grip, $12, Limbsaverís Magpul Carbine Stock Recoil Pad, $42; and Magpulís ACS-L Carbine Stock, $100. Hereís what our test team said about these accessories:

Hereís the problem. How do you get that small and sticky Limbsaver Pro Handgun rubber grip over the big handle of a Glock? We pulled and pulled, andÖ

Limbsaver AR-15/M4 Snap-on Recoil Pad, $42
The Limbsaver snap-on recoil pad fits 223 and 308-caliber rifles that have the collapsible M4 stock. It was not easy to get it on, and we had to use a screwdriver to wedge the last little bit into place, but once stuck onto the buttplate of our LAR-8, it was totally secure, and it greatly reduced felt recoil. The sticky rubber was very soft. We could easily get our index finger a quarter inch into it without trying very hard.

Another neat benefit is that with the Limbsaver pad snapped in place, you can stand the rifle in the corner on a slick floor and the gun wonít slip and fall. With a street price of about $30 delivered, we think everyone who owns one of the black rifles in 308 caliber with an M4 stock and the standard metal butt plate will want one of these. While this pad extends the total pull length by about an inch, the adjustable M4 stock makes that a cinch to resolve. Just bump the stock in a notch and youíre all set.

Our Team Said: The Limbsaver AR-15/M4 Snap-on Recoil Pad is well made, fit securely, and did the job for which it was designed.

Gun Tests Grade: A

Limbsaver Pro Handgun Grip, $12
This was a slip-on sleeve that was supposed to fit most full-size semiautomatic handguns. It was spongy, springy, and very sticky. We had a devil of a time trying to get it onto even very small handgun grips. Itís not designed for revolvers, but we tried it on over some wood stocks for a Charter Bulldog, a gun that greatly needs something to cut its very nasty recoil. The rubber sleeve would go, but would require trimming. We noted the sticky surface tended to grab on the pocket cloth, if thatís where you pack the gun. We tried to get the spongy sleeve onto a Glock Model 23, and after diligent tugging we ripped off a big chunk of the sleeve with our fingers. Persisting, we finally got the remainder of the sleeve into place on the gun. This gave a very sticky and mushy grip. If your hand does not immediately go into the perfect position, itís very hard to change your hand position. In other words, once youíve got your grip, you canít easily shift it. While the device could be helpful for some who need a bit of recoil reduction and who prefer a sticky grip, we distinctly disliked it. Also, we donít believe it should have torn in our fingers. We thought there should be some sort of instructions to help install it, but there was nothing on the packaging and nothing on the website (Limbsaver.com) to that effect. Maybe coating the gun grip with soapy water would do the trick, but then how do you keep it from slipping?

We tore a big chunk out of the Pro grip with our fingers while fitting it to the Glock. We got it on, but did not like the sticky feeling, nor could we shift our hand easily once contact was made. Some might like the slight recoil reduction provided and the mushy feel it gives the gun. We didnít like this grip at all.

Our Team Said: We had mighty little use for the Pro Handgun Grip.

Gun Tests Grade: D

Limbsaverís Magpul Carbine Stock†Recoil Pad, $42
What to do if you have a Magpul or similar-type non-mil-spec collapsible stock on your black rifle, and it kicks you too much? The Magpul butt plate is hard and unfriendly. You might want to try the bolt-on Limbsaver Magpul Carbine Stock Recoil Pad, which replaces the hard stock Magpul pad with one faced with that same soft spongy material we liked so much on the Limbsaver Snap-On pad. This unit replaces the standard Magpul butt plate, and gives you half an inch of cushion. While not inexpensive, it is very well made, and fits exactly where the old pad was, with no adjustments required. Just bolt it on. We thought it would be a great addition, but balked a bit at the cost. Shopping at places like Amazon can give a better price.

Our Team Said: With the well-made and useful Magpul extension stock on the rifle, there are not a whole lot of optional butt pads that will fit so easily and cut the kick as drastically as this one does. We think itís overpriced, but itís a good item.

Gun Tests Grade: B

Magpul ACS-L Carbine Stock, $100
We had previously raved about the Magpul ACS ($110) extendable butt stock that was standard equipment on the SIG 716 rifle tested recently. It was simple, slick, had three compartments for storage, and had a clever locking device that eliminated shake and shimmy once the stock length was selected. This locking was accomplished by squeezing a second lever in front of the main one. The ACS also featured a shielded locking lever to avoid unwanted release of the stock lock. We had on hand a simpler version from Magpul, called the ACS-L (for light), which saves you ten bucks and omits the two tubular (two AA batteries or three Li-CR123 cells per side) compartments of the ACS. Available in mil-spec or commercial size, it apparently comes only in black.

Our Team Said: A well-made unit, it fit onto our test LAR-8 and weíd leave it right there if we owned the rifle. We thought it was top-notch stuff.

Gun Tests Grade: A

Written and photographed by Ray Ordorica.

Scope: 12 Guns in 12 Months
A Nikon has been through the wringer and come out a winner.

The range of rifles we test requires a versatile optic thatís able to fit a variety of different-size rifles and different-configuration stocks. For example, if the objective lens is too large, the line of sight may end up too far above the stock and interfere with shooter comfort and also produce an unstable cheek weld. We need a variable-power scope to test for accuracy well beyond the 100-yard marker or to dial it down to read mirage. Parallax adjustment is a must, too, and economy is always a consideration. One such optic weíve used to test 12 guns in 12 months has been the Nikon Monarch 4-16X42mm BDC Rifle Scope, which we ordered from Brownells.com (now $500, #100-012-102WB, Mfr. Part: 6775) in December 2012.

Most of todayís scopes are rugged enough to withstand all but the heaviest loads, but there is another type of durability that can be even more critical. Often the weakest link in scope structure is the ability of the windage and elevation adjustment to stay consistent. In this regard we gave the Nikon a workout. We kept track of more than 900 rounds fired beneath the Nikon scope, but with practice and additional sight-ins, we think 1000+ rounds is a more realistic number.

To find out how well the mechanism inside our Nikon scope had endured, we performed a test of repetitive adjustments. Working at 50 yards, we fired a five-shot reference group and then dialed in lateral adjustments left and right to see how accurately new groups would be positioned. Those centers of those groups fell within a third of a inch of where they should have been. Then we did the same for elevation. The results showed that return to our original point of aim was perfect. But in our adjustment from 6 MOA below to 6 MOA above the target, we saw a lack of elevation measuring almost 1 full inch when compared to how far the group had been moved.

So we retested by raising and lowering the elevation adjustment as if we were accounting for the trajectory of a real round at greater distances. Results showed the distance moved from center both up and down were nearly even, reflecting about the same variance as shown in the windage portion of the tests.
One of the things weíve appreciated about the Nikon is its BDC reticle, which allows the shooter to accommodate increases in range by referring to secondary points on the reticle rather than moving the adjustment knob to raise point of impact. Therefore, users of the BDC reticle do not have to turn the elevation-adjustment knobs nearly as often.

Our Team Said: When we compared the Nikon to similar test scopes (May 2011) ranging in price from $1000 to $1500, we found that the Nikon Monarch 4-16X42mm BDC Rifle Scope measured up favorably at less than half the price.

Written and photographed by Roger Eckstine. GT