Mike's collection of things that go "bang"
Shown below is my collection.  The pictures were taken with a Hewlett Packard C200CL digital camera.

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   Mosin-Nagant M1944 Carbine

I picked this one up at a gun show for $109.00 and haven't shot it yet.  The condition is excellent, and I was told it was "arsenal refurbished".  It was still wrapped in grease-soaked arsenal wrap.  It has a folding bayonet on the right hand side, and the receiver is stamped "1947".  I haven't shot it yet because I've since learned that the ammunition is corrosive, and the gun requires prompt cleaning after shooting as a result.  I'm one of those jerks who will shoot 100 rounds through a gun, then throw it under my bed.  I'll clean it next time I wash my sheets... and that's a rare occurence.  I've read that the recoil from this rifle is quite stout, and when you combine that with the fact that it has a METAL buttplate you're asking for a battered shoulder.  I can acheive the same effect by standing in front of a pitching machine at the batting cages, and I wouldn't have to clean a gun afterwards.  I should also mention that the safety is one of the most difficult to operate.  It requires you to forcefully pull back on a knob located at the rear of the bolt, then rotate the knob clockwise.  And when I say "forcefully", I mean forcefully in every sense of the word!  I bought it because I find the Mosin-Nagants to be interesting rifles, and the carbine is the most attractive, or more correctly put, least ugly, of the bunch.  Maybe someday I'll take it out and shoot it.

   Romanian Military Training Rifle

For the love of God, DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE PIECES OF CRAP!!! I picked one up at a gun show for about $60, and when I took it home and tried to cycle the bolt it came apart. I took it back to the dealer who promptly told me, "It wasn't like that when I sold it to you." I told him that it most certainly was, and he finally agreed to exchange it with another one. I cycled the bolt on the second one just to make sure (I'm fully aware that I should have done this to the first one as well...) and took it home, where it sat for a couple of months. When I finally took it to the range, I loaded the 5-round clip with Remington .22LR target ammo, chambered the first round, pulled the trigger and heard nothing more than a "click". "No big deal", I said to myself. Probably just a bad primer. However, after the next four rounds behaved exactly the same way, I took the bolt out of the gun to discover that the firing pin was broken! Granted, I should have inspected the gun(s) a bit more carefully before making the purchase, but 2 bad guns out of 2 tells me that this is one product you are better off avoiding at all costs. Also, the 5-round clips cost about $12. One more reason not to stay away from this one.

I'm going to take this masterpiece down to Washington DC during their next gun buy-back program. They're handing out $50 for each rifle, no questions asked. I'm thankful for programs such as this; It allows me to earn $50 bucks for handing over a terminally useless hunk of junk, while at the same time it draws all those women and elderly citizens downtown to turn in their guns, thereby making the streets of DC safer! How can I possibly criticize such a well thought-out program as this?

M1 .30 Caliber US Carbine

This is essentially a new rifle manufactured in Dallas, Texas from unused surplus parts by a company called Israel Arms (their model number is M888).  It shoots the .30 Carbine cartridge, which initially was just a modified commercial Winchester .32 WSL cartridge.  It's about as powerful as a powerful magnum revolver, but is much less punishing to shoot due to the Carbine's larger size.  From what I've heard, soldiers either loved or hated this gun.  The most common complaints centered around its stopping power, or more correctly, the lack thereof.  This was not the primary infantry rifle during WWII (the M1 Garand was), rather it was a secondary weapon issued to personnel who did not need to carry a 9.5 pound M1 Garand around, but needed something more powerful than a pistol.  The barrel on this gun has what IAI calls a "match grade" chamber, which results in tighter groups than those obtainable by a standard GI-issue carbine. The GI versions typically place 5 shot groups at 3"-5" at 100 yards. This gun will shoot 2"-2.5" groups at the same distance. Despite its relatively "weak" cartridge, it remains a very popular rifle for plinking and personal self-defense. This gun is available with a metal heat-dissipating handguard (like mine) or with a wooden handguard which is more like the "real" one. The light reflecting off the stock is the result of my feeble attempt at applying a "military"-type linseed oil finish (I drenched it). It took over a week to dry and remained sticky for several weeks afterwards. Some people just can't leave well enough alone, and I'm one of those people.

I'd like to take a moment here and illustrate just how moronic our gun laws are. This is a semi-automatic firearm with a high-capacity magazine and a bayonet lug, but it is not classified as an "assault" weapon. Do you know why? Because it's the WRONG SHAPE! The stock does not have a pistol grip. That's the only difference! Other than that, it's the same friggin' thing! Apparently that "deadly" pistol grip makes all the difference in the world...

  BUSHMASTER XM15E2S Rifle 5.56mm

This is the standard AR15 with an A2 upper receiver. I shot that 1" group shown above at 100 yards with iron sights while resting the fore end of the rifle on a padded wooden block, sort of a makeshift bench rest (although not a very stable one). Believe it or not, the day before this picture was taken I couldn't hit the broad side of a shopping mall with this rifle. The rangemaster who just so happened to be an AR15 nut informed me that my technique sucked rocks. He explained what I was doing wrong and demonstrated by shooting the group shown below from 50 yards using the proper sighting technique (the group labeled "rangemaster"). After heeding his advice, I produced the other group shown below (labeled "Mike"). Yes, the smaller group IS mine, thank you. Not bad for a novice! Later on I shot the group shown above from 100 yards. While this may not be a big deal to most shooters out there, it was a major accomplishment for me.

Now a few words on the rifle itself. It originally had a "shorty carbine" upper receiver, which I replaced with this standard length A2 receiver when I became seriously interested in target shooting. This rifle loves Colt, Thermold and GI surplus mags, but hates USA brand aluminum mags. I was at the NRA range in Fairfax, VA one day and was shooting this gun with USA mags when suddenly it stopped shooting and the bolt was stuck open. Three rounds had become jammed in the receiver, one spent round and two unfired ones. One of the unfired rounds had somehow become jammed between the bolt and the inside of the receiver body and it was NOT coming out. I had to enlist the assistance of a range officer who spent 10 minutes trying to clear the weapon. We almost had to administer the Heimlich maneuver to get the rifle to barf up the stuck rounds. Similar incidents have occurred with other USA brand mags I've used. I'm not implying there's anything inherently wrong with these mags, but my AR15 simply does not like them. Aside from that, I've had no problems with it. If you're looking for an affordable AR15 of great quality, Bushmaster is the way to go.

  Romanian SAR-1 AK-47 7.62 X 39mm

If you haven't already, buy one of these NOW! The BATF banned their importation in the fall of 2000, coincidentally on the same day Al Gore accepted his party's presidential nomination. These were banned because the BATF doesn't believe the AK-47 has any "sporting" purpose. Now, the question everyone should be asking is, "What does the Second Amendment have to do with sporting?" The next question you need to ask is, "How did the BATF suddenly become the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government?" Who knows. Anyway, this is probably the most durable and reliable military battle rifle ever devised. That's a Soviet-made electronic sight affixed to the receiver. Of the AK "variants" currently on the market, this Romanian version is, in my humble opinion, the best. Mine cost around $300, but the prices could soon increase as the supply slowly becomes depleted. WARNING: Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, purchase one of those "neutered" AK rip-offs that only accept 10-round single-stack magazines! This "ATF Approved" version cannot be modified to accept authentic full capacity magazines, and this will SEVERELY limit the weapon. These rifles look exactly like the real ones, so be careful! 10-round single stack magazines are NOT the standard, and locating them could prove to be a real pain in the rump. I don't know whose bright idea it was to conceive a firearm that is obsolete right from the get-go, but he will occupy the same place in history with the guy who invented the Sony Betamax. If you don't know what the Sony Betamax is (was), ask someone who remembers the 1970's (assuming there are such people...)

  Fabrique Nationale FN-FAL .308

Originally from Belgium, this particular gun is Austrian with the exception of the receiver which was manufactured by Enterprise Arms in California. Importation of this gun was banned by the BATF in August, 2000 which was the reason I decided to buy it. They didn't ban the US-made versions, but those cost around $1600 as opposed to the $650 I paid for this one. All the metal has been re-blued, and the stock/pistol grip is hardwood. This is the only one I've seen like this; most have synthetic stocks. I took it to the shooting range the weekend after I made the purchase, and I can tell you that this is one VERY accurate rifle! The only problem I encountered is that after shooting 20 rounds of .308 through it, the barrel is hot enough to roast a large turkey, but this should only be a problem if you were to pull some macho stunt like grabbing on to it... so don't. I picked up a bunch of 20-round clips for it, but only one of them is "legal", meaning that it has US-made followers and floorplates. Would someone please explain this to me?? I went through the same nonsense with my AK-47 magazines; I had to replace the floorplates and followers with US-made parts to make them "legal". They function exactly the same way!!! Was someone at the BATF smoking herb when they came up with this silly regulation? This picture was taken on my back patio, in full view of the neighbors (I don't have a fence around my back yard) who may now be wondering if I belong to some militant anti-government cult. Maybe now they'll stop coming to my door trying to sell me subscriptions to magazines I don't want.

  M1 Garand .30-06

I've always wanted an M1 Garand, but the notion of paying $700 for a 60 year-old rifle seems somewhat absurd to me. Then one day I met a dealer at a gun show who was displaying a rack of about 10 Garands, most of which were near the $700 price that I scoff at. Except for one... I picked this one up for $350!! The reason? It has a new receiver (Century Arms) so it is not considered collectible. The rest of the parts are surplus GI. The dealer just wanted to get rid of it and I was more than eager to help him. I had some difficulty chambering the first round of each clip (this is normal, or so I've heard) but overall this gun is fairly reliable and for a .30-06 the recoil is quite tame, due mostly to the gas-operated action. As a warning to anyone thinking of purchasing a Century Arms M1 Garand, I must tell you that after I purchased this one I started hearing VERY bad things about the quality of Century Arms' M1 receivers. Mine seems ok, but you might want to do a bit of research. That said, I'm happy with this purchase. For $350 I guess I really can't complain.

  Ruger 10/22 .22LR

What an awesome rifle! I bought this one at Wal-Mart and immediately replaced the crappy plastic stock with a Butler Creek target stock, also made of plastic. But the Butler Creek plastic "feels" better than the original plastic. I know this sounds goofy, but it's true. The bipod folds into the stock when not in use. The barrel is from Butler Creek also, and is designed to shoot 1/2" groups at 50 yards. So far, my groups have been just under an inch which is pretty good for a novice lke myself. The scope is a cheap Simmons 3-9X and the lens covers are the Butler Creek flip-open type. It's shown here an Eagle International brand 10-round magazine. There is absoltuely nothing negative to say about this gun. If you're in the market for a .22 caliber rifle, I highly recommend one of these. There are more accessories for the Ruger 10/22 than for any other rifle I can think of. You can even buy 30-round banana clips and a folding stock with a pistol grip (all of which have become quite costly). Of course you can't use this stuff on a post-ban gun. I'm sure nobody has done this. I'm also sure that there really IS an Easter bunny...

  Soviet SKS 7.62 X 39mm

This one is dated 1951 and was arsenal refurbished in the early 1970's. Laminated stock, black bolt, all matching serial numbers, wow! I haven't shot it yet, and I probably won't. It's a trip how (former) President Clinton, in an effort to make life difficult for gun owners actually made it better in some ways, purely by accident. Let me explain: The SKS was a low-budget, Eastern bloc weapon that you could purchase for about $100 just a few years ago. After Clinton banned their importation, their prices doubled, then tripled and they have now become collectible. They are still moderately priced, and are available in abundant, though now limited numbers. And politicians in the People's Republic of California HATE them!!! All these elements are essential ingredients for a collectible firearm. Thanks, Bill... you just increased the value of my weapon several times it's original cost!

  Savage Model 12 .22-250 Rem.

Great, accurate rifle. This will place 3 holes in under an inch with no effort at all. This is why I have become bored with it and rarely shoot it anymore. Honestly, it's so accurate that I lost interest in it. This probably sounds ludicrous to many of you but it's the truth. It would be great for varmint hunting, but I have no interest in that either. Every time I took this to the range I could bet my paycheck that I would shoot under 1 MOA every time. Yawn!!! The scope is a Simmons 6.5 - 20X, and that's a Harris Bipod underneath.

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