Grizzly Gunworks Ghost Protocol Muzzle Brake

As with all things Beowulf, finding a muzzle brake can also be difficult. If you have standard threading on your barrel, there are a few great companies out there making brakes for this application. In our case however, we standardized on the less common 19 x 1.25 thread pitch. So when it came time to finish off our barrel, we knew we would have to go the custom route. Lucky for use the people at Grizzly Gunworks, were more than happy to help out. Below you can see a custom Ghost Protocol brake on a .50 Beowulf A2 upper.

Grizzly Ghost Protocol Muzzle Brake
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Having never worked with Grizzly before, we were not sure how the process would go. A few email exchanges and we were excited to hear the process would be easier than ordering a barrel. All we had to do was pick a style, and provide a drawing of the specs of our application. Wanting to keep everything simple for the review, we opted for a thread on Ghost Protocol muzzle brake, threaded in 19 x 1.25. A few weeks later this beauty showed up at our door in bead-blasted stainless steel as requested.

Threaded 19 x 1.25 Muzzle Brake In Stainless
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Our first impression was, "what a beast". As with most accessories purpose built for slinging half inch lead, this was heavy. Tipping in at over 12oz, this brake helped reduce perceived muzzle rise with mass alone. Once installed, the brake added just over 2" to the total length of the barrel. While our test platform was already fairly heavy for an M4, this brake did add some noticeable weight. In our case with a 9" SBR barrel, handling did not change that much. However, if you are installing this on a standard 14" or longer barrel, you will definitely feel it.

Threaded and clamp on
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One concern that I do have, is the split design to retain the brake once it is threaded on. It relies on tension from two hex bolts. While this method makes clocking the device very simple, it does not look as clean as a more traditional crush or peel washer design. So depending on your level of gunsmithing, this can be a pro, or a con. That said, the craftsmanship was top notch. The finish was extremely uniform, and the brake was concentric even when checked with a mic. Even our odd-ball 19 x 1.25 threads were perfectly cut and sharp.

Recoil reduction
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With the description complete, what really matters is how it performs. While the added weight did slightly alter the weapons balance, the reduction in recoil was appreciable. Most people who fired the weapon agreed it kicked similar to a gas-operated 7.62 NATO round. Without the brake, I would describe the kick as something between 12ga 00 and a 12ga slug. Cleaning the weapon with the brake was a snap, although quite a bit more messy. CLP tends to collect and stay hidden in the brake for quite some time. So all in all, whats our take? If you are a bench-rest shooter, this is an excellent brake with no drawbacks that should concern you. If you are a casual plinker, the same can be said. The only place this brake may have some significant drawbacks is in the tactical environment, where its added weight and bulk could wear on you after carrying it for hours in the field.

Ardel Engineering AR-15 Lower

The debate is endless as to which company builds the best lower receiver. Some say Mega, other will say ARA. With all the high end billet receivers coming onto the market, there are just as many entry level products. At under a hundred dollars, there has been some interest in the Ardel Engineering (AE) lower. A quick search of the internet and you can find a few reviews. Most of the reviews I found however were mixed. For this reason I wanted to do a review on one myself.

Ardel Engineering AE lower receiver
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In the image above you can see the AE lower built up with pretty standard parts. We did opt to color fill the fire markings. If you are interested in doing the same, you can find a guide here: Color Fill DIY. At first glance, everything seems pretty typical. Before building the receiver out, we did take the time and check all the specs. All the holes and channels for the fire control group were within 0.003", which is more than tight enough tolerance. The take down pins were a very tight fit and are still stiff but this is what you want. From the function standpoint we encountered no issues.

milling and spec
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The outside and finish were a different story. In several places there were machining burs left behind. When removed these burs leave metal showing. This is easy to fix with touchup, but obviously not ideal. If you look close at the image below you can see a few of these burs. You will also notice that the machining is not smooth. While this has no effect on performance, it can be annoying.

Burrs and rough maching work
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All and all, I would still consider one of these lowers for a budget build, if I could get it for 50-60 dollars. If you are paying more than that, there are better options out there.

Magpul UBR Stock Review

If you follow Magpul products at all, you have no doubt heard about their UBR collapsible stock. A striking feature you will notice right off about this stock is the fact the bottom portion is the sliding portion. A few other note worthy features are its sling attachments, storage compartment, solid feel, and its equally solid price tag. With a retail price of just under $300 dollars shipped, if you shop around you can find it in stock and under $250 shipped from places such as Optical Soultions. You will see people all over the web asking, "is it worth it?".

Magpul UBS Stock And Strike Plate
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At first glance the stock seems pretty basic. 7 positions, a storage compartment, and a release lever. However as you start to look closer you will notice this stock has several subtle features. One of the features I liked was the ability to remove the storage compartment. As a personal preference, I like having an open skeletonized stock. For those who are interested in using it, there is enough room for 123 batteries or an extra firing pin.

UBR Stock with storage compartment for AR15
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Slide the stock out of its collapsed position, and you will immediately notice that it is the bottom portion that slides not the top. While it is novel, it also serves a real purpose. No more pulled beards, or pinched skin. In addition the weapon points and feels much more like the traditional A1/A2 stock. Another nice feature is the fact the stock can be set up to have presets. Setting the preset length is as simple as moving a set screw.

Stock opened up
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The locking mechanism shown below is impressive in its own right. While it takes some getting used to, the system is incredibly strong and locks up very tight. This is something that is critically important when firing the over sized calibers such as .450, .458 SOCOM, or .50 Beowulf. In the image below you can also seethe forward ambidextrous quick release.

locking mech detents on ubs stock
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A common upgrade to the UBR is the aluminum strike plate. Shown below is the upgraded plate with the stock sling mount shown above it. Worth a mention is that the stock sling plate is actually some form of polymer, not actually alloy like the upgraded piece.

strike plate vs standard sling mount
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For all of the great features there are some draw backs. The stock is very heavy at 1.72 pounds on my scales. This is over twice the weight of some other stocks out there. On a large bore build, one can argue that this helps with the balance. No matter how you cut it though, this is a heavy stock. In traditional Magpul style there is a flat head screw on the extension tube. I have complained about this in other reviews of Magpul products and it still bothers me. Having said that the stock is very well built. All the screws you ever need to change the configuration are included.

URB stock from Magpul with storage doors off and opional strike plate
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So back to the question at hand. Is it worth it? For a big bore high end build, without a doubt. For a low drag fast CQB weapon, I would probably look else where. That said stay tuned for an update one how this works coupled with a 5.7x28 SBR upper. For discussion or questions on this stock see: Magpul UBR Stock Review.

FN Herstal 5.7mm Pistol Review

If you are loading out with a large bore rifle, chances are you are already carrying as much weight as you want to. This is where a small caliber PDW or sidearm comes in nice. FN Herstal realized this niche and produced the 5.7x28mm Five Seven pistol. With a magazine capacity of 20 rounds and a loaded weight lighter than that of a polymer H&K it is no wonder so many agencies have picked it up on their approved list. The FN Five Seven has achieved almost mythical status due to its prominence in video games as well as several exaggerated claims of armor piercing ability of the SS190 round. With all of this attention, long term does this weapon live up to the hype?

FN Five Seven Pistol
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In a word. Yes! After over 2000 rounds this weapon has not suffered from a single malfunction. No FTEs, no FTFs, no jams. SS190, SS192, SS197, SS195 it does not seem to matter. Just a little CLP and TW25B and it purrs like a kitten. Even with its light weight, the pistol is a joy to shoot. Recoil is less than a 9mm, and the report is a nice satisfying crack. 20 round magazine seem like a cowboy load. A recent first time shooter described shooting the Five-Seven as, "like popping Pez".

FN 5.7mm x 28 Pistol and SS190
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As far as complaints, my largest is the internal disconnect is the magazine is not inserted. I have heard pros and cons for the magazine disconnect, but I am firmly in the "No Want" camp especially when there is no external hammer. Despite contrary beliefs the FN is not striker fire. If you strip it you can clearly see there is an internal drop hammer as seen below. Unlike some other FN weapons, the entire trigger assembly in the Five-Seven is alloy. Everything on the weapon just says quality. While a poly bore threaded barrel would be nice, I guess we cannot have everything. At least not from the factory. There are barrels out there like the Jarvis, but that is for another review.

Field stripped FN 5-7
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At 25 meters the groups tend to stay under 3" which is above average for an out of the box setup. Not sure its worth a mention, but every magazine tends to throw one flier for me. Seem to be random, but I seem to always have a 3" group then one outcast 2-3" out side of the others. That said the Five-Seven is light enough that I could be pulling my shot and not realizing it. Again follow ups are very quick as there is almost no recoil or muzzele flip at all.

TRUGLO Bright Sight

Every couple years you should go through your tritium sights and see which ones need replaced. From experience 10 years seems to be about right. Officially pure tritium has a half-life of just over 12 years, but most of the night sights we have experience with decay perceivably faster. After much experience with both Trijicon and Meprolight we took a look at Truglo. Truglo (trueglow) comes in at about the same price as any other brand. You can find Truglo sights here for around $60.00. The added feature of Truglo over its competitors is that it also features a fiber optic dot for day time use.

Truglo Brite Sights Tritium sights
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Right out of the package you will see a few major differences with Truglo. Most obvious is the much larger form factor. In the case of the Sig P239 the front sight was over 26mm long. The rear sight also uses a hex screw for added security. I am not sure this features is needed, but I suggest a dab of loc-tight on the set screw to keep it in place. The next thing you will notice is that in daylight the Truglo sights are indeed much brighter. Usually sight installation consists of tapping out the old sights with a punch from right to left then reinstalling the new sights from the other direction. Truglo does not recommend the use of a hammer and punch and instead urges you to use a sight pusher. That said I have installed these on occasion with a hammer and punch and had no issues as long as care is taken.

Truglo vs meprolight vs trijicon
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In the above photo you can see a 10 year old set of Meprolights on the left next to a new set of Truglo sights in the middle. On the right are a set of factory Sig P238 sights on a 6 month old fire arm. There is a clear difference between the old sights and new. As claimed the Truglo sights are brighter than factory or Meprolight sights. My only concern is how durable are they. I will follow up with any issues, but as of right now they seem to be very robust.So all in all I say this is a good investment if you want brighter sights. For more information of questions see the TruGlow discussion topic.

Yankee Hill Diamond Series Rail

With the plethora of rails on the market it is easy to get lost in all of the hype. What it really boils down to is, what are your requirements and are you planning to install it yourself? For a free float system plan on spending $100-$300 dollars. The difference in price depends on what brand you opt for and how much you shop around. While LaRue Tactical hands down makes one of the nicest rails out there, there are deals out there to be had for much less. Enter the Yankee Hill Machining Diamond Series. For the best price on this rail see: JSE Surplus if they do not have it in stock the best best place I have found is here: Diamond YHM Rail.

Yankee Hill Maching Diamond Rail
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At 12.7oz it comes in a hair heavier than the claimed weight of the same sized LaRue rail. Having said that, they do make a lightweight option and the LaRue rail we weighed was a full oz over its claimed weight. In a .458/.50 build strength should be of higher importance than weight anyways. The optional end cap shown above is another reason we often opt for this rail. At only a few dollars extra is provides a finished look other systems lack. Installation of the rail requires no special considerations (except the optional end cap) and can be completed with standard tools and an armorers wrench. 

Yankeel Hill quad rail and end cap
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As with any good deal there is a small catch to this rail. While the finish is well above average, it is not quite on par with some of the more expensive rails. As seen above burs are somewhat common, but easy to fix. A small wooden dowel can be used to rub down any such burrs while having little to no effect on the rail or its finish. The only other annoyance I found with this rail is the lack of filler screws for the un-used sling mounts. With a somewhat odd 5/16 x 32 thread pitch these are not easy to find. I would advise ordering them with your rail.

Quad rail on alexander arms a2 .50 beowulf
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While all uppers are slightly different, I had no issues installing the rail very little gap between the top receiver. With plastigauge it was measure at .0011 which is more than acceptable. At half the cost as other solutions, the only issues is has can be corrected for a few dollars, and ten minutes of your time. With all of this said, I cannot ever see buying a different rail.