Archive for April, 2010

Apr
21

Sig Sauer Sig556

This is the Sig 556. This fine combat rifle is chambered in 5.56mm NATO, which can fire both the military 5.56 and .223 ammunition.

Sig 556 Rifle

Sig 556 Rifle

The barrel has a twist rate of 1:7, which is good for stabilizing bullets from 55 grain up to 75 grain. The Sig 556 uses a gas piston system, which keeps internals much cleaner and is arguably more reliable than the direct impingement system of an AR-15.

The stock is collapsable and folding. The buttstock tube will accept any AR-15 stock built for a commercial tube, so I replaced the stock Sig buttstock with a Magpul CTR.

Sig 556 with folding and collapsable Magpul CTR buttstock

Sig 556 with folding and collapsable Magpul CTR buttstock

The front iron sight is stout and hooded. The rear is a flimsy popsicle-stick popup sight that is practically useless. The front sight mount is different from the AR-15, so you cannot use a standard AR rear BUIS. One must either use a Sig-specific rear BUIS, or replace the front sight with one that is compatible with AR-15 rears (like a Samson). I have a Samson folding front sight and a Matech AR-15 rear BUIS on order.

The Sig 556 has a stout hooded front sight

The Sig 556 has a stout hooded front sight

The intended use for this Sig 556 is close to mid-range combat, so I decided to go with a 1-4 power scope from Millet. I’ll do a separate review of the scope later – for now, let’s just say I’m very happy with my choice.

A Millett DMS 1-4x24 scope tops the Sig 556

A Millett DMS 1-4x24 scope tops the Sig 556

One of the best things about this rifle is its factory two-stage trigger. This is by far the best factory trigger I’ve ever seen on any AR-style rifle. The Sig 556 trigger is clean, crisp and light. It’s not as nice as some aftermarket triggers like Timney, but it is an excellent factory trigger.

Now, I’ve heard from many, many sources on the interwebs that the Sig 556 isn’t all that accurate, with reported groups of 2-4″ at 100 yards. While such groups are acceptable for a close-quarters combat rifle, I suspected that the shooters of these reported groups didn’t share my zest for accuracy.

So my quest begins…

I performed my standard barrel break-in procedure on this rifle. If you’d like the short version, it’s like this:

  • Clean
  • JB bore paste, Clean. (repeat)
  • Fire one shot, Clean (repeat 5 times)
  • Fire 3 shots, Clean (repeat 3 times)
  • Fire 5 shots, Clean

After the barrel was broken in, I fired two 10-shot groups of 55gr VMAX to get a rough zero on the scope and foul the barrel. I then switched to some 69gr Black Hills HPBT match ammo and fired a few:

Not too shabby!

I shot some 3-shot groups that were under 1/2″, but I still think this black rifle can get tighter. Next steps for this rifle will be more shooting and cleaning, accompanied by a run-through with Tubb’s Final Finish system.

Until next time, Happy Shooting.

Apr
21

How to Clean your Sig 556 Barrel

Following is the standard barrel cleaning process I use.

For starters, always use a quality one-piece cleaning rod from the likes of Bore-Tech, Dewey or Tipton. Also, use a vise or cleaning stand. I use Bore-Tech’s Eliminator on my centerfire rifles, and following the instructions that Bore-Tech provides yields excellent results.

It’s very simple:
Run 3-5 patches saturated with Eliminator through the barrel.
Run a nylon brush soaked with Eliminator through the barrel about 15 times.
Repeat step one – 3-5 wet patches.
Let soak 5-10 minutes.
Run dry patches through the barrel until they come out clean.

I recently broke in the barrel of my new Sig 556. There’s a LOT of cleaning that goes on in that process, so I put together a quick video of how to clean the Sig 556 barrel during break-in:

Apr
10

9mm Ammo Shootout!

The day after I picked up my HK USPc 9mm, I put it through its paces with some Winchester Ranger 9mm NATO and some Speer Gold Dot. After getting surprisingly good results with both kinds of ammo, I bought a few more boxes of both until the day came when I could do a fair ammo shootout with the USP.

That day has come: Clear, sunny afternoon, 0-5mph breeze, 74 degrees. One couldn’t ask for a better day.

I gathered a good assortment of 9mm ammunition for the shootout, all 124 grain, both jacketed and hollow point.

The candidates:

I set up at 15 yards with 3″ orange spot targets. I chose that distance mainly because that’s about as far away as I could get while still being able to clearly see the center of the 3″ targets.

This was purely a test for the best groups – as I’ve stated before, I’m far from a superb shooter, so I shot groups of eight and took the best 5-shot group out of the eight as a standard for this test.

I started out by fouling the clean pistol with 10 shots and got to work.

I began the test with the Gold Dot, ammunition that I already knew shot reasonably well. Speer’s Gold Dot ammo is an excellent defensive round. These are standard loaded (not +P) 124 grain hollow points in nickel casings. The five shot group at 15 yards measured .863 inches.

Speer Gold Dot - 5 shots in .863 inches

Speer Gold Dot - 5 shots in .863 inches

Next up was Winchester Ranger NATO full metal jacket. This ammo is loaded to NATO spec, which is a higher pressure than standard. It’s fun to shoot – has a nice snap. The Ranger’s 5-shot group measured 1.298 inches.

Winchester Ranger NATO - 5 shots in 1.298 inches

Winchester Ranger NATO - 5 shots in 1.298 inches

I’ve gotten quality .45acp Hornady XTP ammo from Reed’s Ammunition and Research in the past, and I was looking forward to trying out some of Ron Reed’s 9mm ammo. Ron’s 124g XTP grouped quite well at .832 inches.

Reed's Ammo Hornady XTP - 5 shots in .832 inches

Reed's Ammo Hornady XTP - 5 shots in .832 inches

The next eight shots were with Federal’s American Eagle FMJ. This has typically proven to be reliable practice ammo in other pistol calibers, and the 9mm lived up to my expectations with a 1.338″ group.

Federal American Eagle - 5 shots in 1.338 inches

Federal American Eagle - 5 shots in 1.338 inches

Magtech’s “Blue Box” FMC has always shot surprisingly well for me, and this lot of 9mm was no different with a group of .981 inches.

Magtech FMC (9B) - 5 shots in .981 inches

Magtech FMC (9B) - 5 shots in .981 inches

This was the first time I’d ever tried any Black Hills handgun ammunition. This 124 grain FMJ 9mm ammo is loaded in once-fired brass. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, especially after seeing the various headstamps – there must’ve been brass from 6 different manufacturers all in one 50-round box. This jacketed ammo was on the expensive side, especially for being remanufactured, at $17.95 for a box of 50.

The Black Hills ammo blew me away with a .665″ group.

Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ - 5 shots in .665 inches

Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ - 5 shots in .665 inches

Winchester’s Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 was another new one for me. I was looking forward to seeing what this ammo would do. This +P loaded ammo has very good expansion characteristics, but shot an unimpressive 1.223″ group.

Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 - 1.223 inches

Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 - 1.223 inches

The last ammo tested was Magtech’s Guardian Gold, their high-end defensive hollow point round. I expected this to shoot better than their cheap FMC, but was let down with the worst group of the day: 1.445 inches.

Magtech Guardian Gold - 1.445 inch group

Magtech Guardian Gold - 1.445 inch group

After it was all said and done, I decided to try 13-round groups (entire high capacity magazine in the HK) of the Black Hills and Reed’s ammo. The 13-round groups confirmed my earlier findings with a 2.01″ group from the Black Hills ammo and a 2.989″ group from Reed’s.

13 rounds of Black Hills 9mm in 2.01 inches

13 rounds of Black Hills 9mm in 2.01 inches

13 rounds of Reed's ammo in 2.989 inches

13 rounds of Reed's ammo in 2.989 inches

The final results:

Ammo Type Group Size Price per round
Black Hills Remanufactured FMJ .665″ $0.36
Reed’s Ammo Hornady XTP .832″ $0.46
Speer Gold Dot .863″ $0.60
Magtech FMC (9B) .981″ $0.28
Winchester Ranger NATO FMJ 1.298″ $0.34
Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 1.223″ $0.95
American Eagle FMJ 1.338″ $0.28
Magtech Guardian Gold 1.445″ $0.70

All-in-all, it was a great day at the range. When my worst 5-shot group at 15 yards is 1.445″, I can’t complain – the HK USPc 9mm is one heck of a shooter.

The Black Hills ammo really knocked my socks off – I’ll be getting more of that. And for now, I’ll stick to Reed’s for defensive carry ammunition – definitely the best bang for the buck as far as hollow point go.

Apr
1

New Barrel Break-In Procedure

I’ve put off writing about this subject because there’s a ton of theories out there that all fly in different directions, and people get very touchy about their methods. So what I’m going to do is tell you what works for me. Do not consider this gospel, follow my guidelines at your own risk, etc.

Also, you’ll see instructions below to “clean.” Now, when I say “clean,” I don’t mean beat the crap out of the bore with a wire brush – I mean use a good, appropriate solvent, a bore guide, a one-piece coated rod (Bore Tech, Dewey, or Tipton CF), flannel patches and a nylon brush. I like Bore Tech cleaning products (Eliminator for centerfire and Rimfire Blend for rimfires), but many other solvents out there will equal Bore Tech’s.

When I clean a barrel with Eliminator or RfB, Bore Tech’s instructions work quite well: a few wet patches, brush, a few more wet patches, soak, then dry patches until they come out clean.

That said, I basically have two different procedures for basically two different types of barrels: factory production and custom hand-lapped.  We’ll start with the latter, because it’s really easy.

When you get a new firearm that has a custom hand-lapped barrel (like Krieger, WOA, Hart, Lilja, etc.), most of the work is done for you already. All there really is to do is some minor break-in, and that process is simple:

  1. Clean
  2. Fire one shot, clean (repeat 3 times)
  3. Fire three shots, clean
  4. Fire five shots, clean

And you’re done.

Now, with a factory barrel, you’ll find that the throat will be quite a bit rougher than a hand-lapped barrel. My procedure for a factory barrel is similar to the above, albeit a longer process, and I also incorporate an abrasive cleaner like JB bore paste. This is the procedure I use on my Rock River and other AR-15’s, Sig 556, Savage rifles… basically any rifle without a high-end lapped barrel.

Break-in procedure for factory barrels:

  1. Clean.
  2. Work the first 4-5 inches of barrel from breech with a small amount of JB bore paste on a patch, back and forth 10-15 times.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times.
  4. Clean.
  5. Fire one shot, clean. (repeat 5 times for SS barrel, 10-15 times for Chrome-Moly barrels)
  6. Fire three shots, clean. (repeat 3 times for Chrome barrel)
  7. Fire five shots, clean.

Now repeat that whole process until copper fouling is minimized – usually about 3 times on a centerfire rifle, 5 times on a rimfire rifle.

Tedious, isn’t it?

There is an alternative that works quite well: fire-lapping kits. These are just bullets with abrasive coatings that polish the throat and bore. I like Tubb’s Final Finish system. I won’t go into how to use it – just follow the his instructions… it works wonders.

As always with these kinds of things, your results may vary, try at your own risk, etc., etc.

Here are some other handy references if you want to learn more about the barrel manufacturing process and break-in – you should listen closer to the recommendations from the manufacturer of your barrel than me:
Krieger process
Lija process
Hart recommendations (see, they say no abrasives and no break-in necessary!)
Tubb’s fire-lapping info