Sunday, May 30, 2010

UTG Model-15 6 Position Adjustable Stock Review

UTG Stock Review, M4 Stock Review, Model 15 Review, Leapers Stock Review
I'm in the process of updating my old Colt AR-15 Sporter II with some of today's new accessories.  One of the major ways to update an older rifle is to replace the stock with a M4 style adjustable position stock.  This required me getting a new M4 style stock and buffer tube assembly.  Since there are so many stocks on the market that come as drop-in replacements once you have a M4 buffer tube, I decided not to get caught up in the initial stock configuration.  Having reviewed several of the UTG products and being happy with the value of their products, I decided to see what types of complete packages (stock and buffer tube) they offer.  I ended up purchasing the UTG Model-15 6 Position Adjustable Stock.  I purchased this stock from for $49.97 plus S&H.  Since I did not have a stock wrench, I also purchased the Tapco Stock Wrench for $7.97 plus S&H.  The specifications for the stock from UTG (Leapers)  website are shown below in italics.
  • Precision Machined Tight Tolerance Aluminum Tube Offers 6 Positions to Provide Most Secured Solid Adjustment
  • Superior Quality Molded and Injected Synthetic Stock
  • Complete with Springs, Excellent Quality Aluminum Buffer, Tear-drop Ring and Locking Ring
  • For Pre-ban Guns and Target Sport
  • Material: Aluminum/Plastic
  • Weight: 18.2 oz 
When you receive the UTG Model 15 Stock, it comes packaged as shown below.  Just to be clear, this stock comes with a Commercial buffer tube, not a Mil-Spec buffer tube.  The best place to go to see the difference between these two is at Magpul's website where they did a comparison (link).

Before I installed the UTG Model 15 Stock, I needed to remove my A2 stock.  To do this you remove the two screws in the butt plate shown below .

With those screws removed, you can slide all the pieces and butt stock off of the buffer tube as shown below.

Pay close attention to the takedown pin spring that is held in place by the butt stock.  You will need to reinstall this later.

Now you have the exposed the A2 buffer tube.

I purchased the Tapco stock wrench to help with the removal of my old stock and installation of my new stock.  I didn't need this wrench to take the old buffer tube off because I could have done that with an adjustable wrench, but I will need it for tightening the buffer tube nut.

Using the stock wrench on the back portion of the buffer tube, I was able to loosen the tube.  I'm sure that this tube has never been removed and it was extremely tight.

When you remove the buffer tube, you will have the buffer tube pin stop that will pop up as shown below in the lower threaded area of the receiver.  If you are like me, you may end up looking for this when it pops out and goes across the room.

The old A2 stock and buffer tube assembly weighed in at 1.60 pounds.

The new UTG Model 15 stock and buffer tube assembly weighed in at 1.164 pounds.  This is about a 7 ounce savings in weight compared to the A2.  The UTG specification said the Model 15 would weigh 18.2 ounces and mine came in at 18.6 ounces.  In my opinion, that is close enough.

Before you thread your buffer tube into your lower receiver, you will need to make sure the parts are stacked in the correct order and facing the correct direction.  Most likely you will need to remove the buffer tube nut since it is usually installed to hold the pieces together for packaging.  In the photo below, you will see that the nut goes on the threads first and the large notches will go towards the back of the buffer tube.  Then you will put the anti rotation plate on with the dimple pointing in the direction of the lower receiver.  Install these items far to the back of the threads on the buffer tube because you will need to give yourself room to reinstall the takedown pin spring.

When you install the UTG Model 15 Stock, you will need to press in the buffer tube stop pin to allow screwing the buffer tube far enough to hold the stop pin in place, but not so far that it binds the spring action of the stop pin.  In the photo below you can see how the tube overlaps the edge of the stop pin.

When you release the buffer tube, it now stops against the stop pin.

Once you have the buffer tube screwed into the receiver and the stop pin as shown, you will need to reinstall the takedown pin spring and then you can start tightening the buffer tube nut using your stock wrench.  Some people like to put Loctite on the thread, but since I like to tinker with my rifle and I'm sure I will take it apart again in the future, I decided not to add Loctite.  As I was tightening the nut using the wrench, I didn't think the fit between the nut and wrench was very good.  I don't know if this is a nut or wrench issue.  If I would have filed down the tabs on the wrench, it would have fit better.

Now all you need to do is reinstall the upper receiver and your installation is complete.

The stock is very simple.  The features are a lower sling loop and a place where you could install the sling below the buffer tube.  The lever works effortlessly and will allow easy adjustment of the position of the stock.  There is no rattle in the butt stock itself, but it does rattle on the buffer tube.

The stock is adjustable into six different positions on the buffer tube as indicated by the counterbored areas show below.  Ignore the wear because that was just me making adjustments to different positions during the review.  The actual buffer tube had no visible wear when I pulled it out of the box.

This next set of photos shows the stock in all of the 6 different positions.  The lengths shown are measured from the end of the stock to the lower receiver.  I also added my A2 stock in for reference.

Position 1 - Fully Collapsed, 7.44"

Position 2 - 8.25"

Position 3 - 9.06"

Position 4 - 9.82"

Position 5 - Same as A2 Length, 10.63"

Position 6 - Full Extended, 11.22"

Bottom Line:
I have come to the same basic opinion for this stock as with most of the UTG products that I have reviewed.  The UTG Model 15 Six Position Adjustable Stock is a good value.  My only negative comment is that the stock itself will rattle slightly on the buffer tube, but I think this is common on most "entry level" M4 style stocks.  Would I recommend this product?  If you are wanting an "entry level" M4 style stock and buffer tube assembly, I think you would be happy with this product.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harmony 60 Liter Waterproof Barrel Review

Harmony Waterproof Barrel Review, Dry Storage Review, Waterproof Drum Review
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you're eventually going to face water issues.  The issues could be from a lake, river, or rain storm, and there is nothing worse than wet gear and food.  In the past, I have always used a collapsible dry storage bag that has worked well for many situations.  One of the problems with using a dry storage bag is that the food tends to get smashed so that the sandwiches and chips are less appealing.  Another issue with a dry storage bag is they usually have a small roll up top and are deep which makes finding things more difficult.  When I came across the Harmony Waterproof Barrel, I thought this may be the better storage solution.  Harmony actually makes two barrels, a 60 liter and a 30 liter.  Since I'm a believer that bigger is better, I ended up getting the 60 liter barrel.  Really, I decided to go with the larger barrel because my past river trips have always worked out that I'm responsible for all the gear and food and I would rather keep it all together.  Someone else could argue that two smaller barrels would be better.  Since this is a review of the Harmony Waterproof 60 Liter Barrel, I'm going to focus my attention on this barrel and then you can decide if this one is too large for your circumstance.  You can find the 60 liter barrel today at the for $79.99 plus S&H.

If you go to the Harmony website, they list the following for the description of the product.
  • Expedition proven many times over.
  • Rugged polyethylene construction absorbs and shrugs off impact, protecting the contents within.
  • "Pop-top" lid is secured by a galvanized clamp/band that ensures an airtight, watertight and odor-proof seal, which eliminates nocturnal visits from raccoons and bears.
  • Featured side mounted carry handles and makes a reasonable camp seat.
  • Size: 15.5" x 24" (39 cm x 61 cm)
  • Capacity: 3650 cu. in. (60 L)
  • Color: Blue
I will admit that when I opened the box, the 60 liter barrel looked big.  I wasn't too worried because I know how bulky towels and snacks can be.  The photo below shows the barrel out of the box.

There are three main pieces to the barrel assembly.  You have the barrel, lid and band clamp.  The barrel also has a small piece of metal that you can slide into place to keep the band clamp from accidentally being knocked open.  The clamp is very secure and I would be surprised if something could knock it open, but better safe than sorry.

The barrel also has a red tab that you remove after receiving the barrel.  I believe this tab may be to allow an air passage so that air pressure can equalize during shipping.

The barrel ended up weighing in at 7.43 pounds empty which I thought was surprisingly light when considering it's size.

The measured overall height was about 24 3/4" and the diameter was about 15.5" just as Harmony advertised.  I did a rough calculation ignoring the tapers on each end and feel like it is at least 60 liters.

The barrel has a handle on each side that will fold down and lock into place.

The next thing I wanted to test was the capacity of the barrel.  Since there are 5 people in my family and we often do things that require 5 towels and an assorted selection of junk food, I decided to test pack these items.  This probably looks like an add for Kroger and Cheez-it, but I'm only trying to be as real as possible.  As you can see, 5 towels, two bags of chips and one box of crackers will take up a big hunk of volume.  If I were to throw in more food and some dry clothes for a whitewater trip or some other outing, this barrel would be full.  If it were an overnight tip, I would want even more space or another barrel.  For my general outings, this 60 liter barrel is exactly what I need.  If you were to pack for two, I would bet you could get by with a 30 liter barrel for a day trip, but for an overnight trip, the extra space of the 60 liter barrel would always be welcome.

The next test was to determine the waterproof capability of the barrel.  I decided to head to the swimming pool and have my son hold the lid submerged underwater at a depth of about 6 inches for 5 minutes.

At the end of 5 minutes, I pulled the barrel out of the water and opened the top.  The inside of the lid and the barrel were bone dry just as they should be.  I have no reason to believe that it would not be waterproof for any outing I can imagine.

One of the last claims I decided to test was it "makes a reasonable camp seat".  I'm 6' 2" and 215 lbs and had no concern about sitting on the lid.  I also feel like the barrel is rugged enough to take some external abuse during outings.

Bottom Line:
This Harmony Waterproof Barrel review has shown that this product lives up the the manufacturers claims.  If you are looking for a way to keep your gear and food dry, I would recommend this product.  Since it does come in two sizes, you should consider carefully how much storage you actually need for your type of outings.  This will be an item that goes on most of my outdoor adventures.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nikon Coyote Special 3-9x40 Scope Review

Nikon Scope Review, Coyote Special Review, Nikon Coyote Review, Nikon 3-9x40 Review
I recently completed a review of a Rock River Arms Coyote Carbine .223 Rifle that I borrowed from my brother-in-law. He purchased the Nikon Coyote Special 3-9x40 Scope for his rifle so I decided that this would be a good product to review also.  Normally I like to add photos of the packaging and everything in the box, but since all I received was the rifle with the scope already installed, I had to make the best of it. You can find the scope today at for $259.95 with free S&H.

To kick off the review, I want to start with the manufacturers claims and specifications shown below in italics.
  • Nikon’s Patent Pending BDC Predator Hunting Reticle - Utilizes ballistic circles with carefully researched spacing that is designed around the needs of predator hunters. Unique, open circle design doesn’t obscure target, making shots on a moving coyote simple.
  • ARD (Anti Reflective Device) Technology - Eliminates game spooking glare.
  • Nikon Multicoated Lenses - Provide up to 92% light transmission and maximum brightness from dawn to dusk.
  • Precise Hand-turn 1/4 –MOA Click Adjustments - Easy-to-use positive click reticle adjustments get you zeroed in quicker and maintain your setting—even with heavy recoil.
  • Generous Eye Relief - For easy sighting in difficult shooting positions.  
  • Quick Focus Eyepiece - Allows the shooter to instantly bring the reticle into sharp focus.
  • Waterproof/Fogproof - Nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed.
  • Reticle BDC Predator
  • Actual Magnification 3x-9x
  • Effective Objective Diameter 40mm
  • Exit Pupil (mm) 13.3-4.4
  • Eye Relief (in.) 3.6-3.6
  • FOV at 100 yds (ft.) 35.7-11.9
  • Tube Diameter 1 in.
  • Objective O.D. (mm/in) 49.3/1.94
  • Eyepiece O.D. (mm/in) 43/1.69
  • Length (in) 13.1
  • Weight (oz) 16
  • Adjustment Graduation (1 click) 1/4 MOA
  • Max Internal Adjustment 80 MOA
  • Parallax setting (yds) 100
  • Sunshade ARD
Nikon also had a nice photo of their scope and reticle details (shown below), but I'm also including photos of my own further below.

The photo below shows the scope before it is mounted on the rifle.  Remember that if you click on a photo, it should bring up a high resolution photo.  Everything I have read so far indicates that this scope is the same as the Nikon Buckmasters but includes the Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) reticle and the Anti Reflective Device (ARD).  A review of the specifications for the Nikon Buckmasters to the Nikon Coyote Special also match.


The scope weighed in at 1.018 pounds, which is 16.288 ounces.  Nikon states 16 ounces so I believe the difference is probably the Anti Reflective Device (ARD).

The quick focus eye piece and power ring are shown below.  Each had a smooth feel when rotating to make adjustments.

The photo below shows the side of the scope and the adjustment protective cap.

After zeroing in the scope, it is possible to reposition the adjustment knobs by holding the knob and removing the center screw.  You can then remove and reposition the knob so that the zero mark lines up with the index mark on the scope.  Actually this feature is similar to target turret scopes.  I could not find a Coyote Special owners manual online, but since the scope is the same as the Buckmasters, I did find the Buckmasters Owners Manual.  You can refer to this manual for further details.

This is a picture of the bottom of the scope that would be towards your rifle.

This photo is of the objective end of the scope and shows the ARD installed.

The ARD (anti reflective devices) is some type of plastic honeycomb pattern.  It screws into the end of the scope similar to how normal lens filters would install.  I could detect a slight difference in the brightness of the scope with and without the ARD installed.  Later I will show two photos so you can see the difference.

You can see the full reticle shape below.  I decided a wall was the best background for showing this shape.

In the photo below I zoomed in so you can see the bullet drop compensation features of the reticle.  Refer to the previous photo for details on the yardages.

Scope Power at 3x with ARD removed.  For this next series of photos, the deer is located 37 yards away.

Scope Power at 6x with ARD removed.  Ignore the out of focus reticle.  That was an issue I had while trying to take photos through the scope with my camera.


Scope Power at 9x with ARD removed.

Scope Power at 9x with ARD installed.  It is hard to see flipping back and forth between the photo above and the one below, but there is a slight difference in brightness of the scope with the ARD installed.  The photo below shows a slightly darker image.  Both photos were taken with the same setting on the camera.  There is such a small difference that I would not worry about it and I would keep the ARD installed for all occasions except late twilight hunts.

The next two photos show the Nikon Coyote Special scope installed on a Rock River Coyote Carbine using Burris P.E.P.R. Mounts.  Personally, I think it makes a very attractive setup.  Remember you can click on these photos to get higher resolution images.

Bottom Line:
For less than $300, I would be pleased with this scope.  The overall finish of the scope, feel of the eye piece and power ring adjustments, adjustment knob re-zeroing capability, and the ARD make the scope an overall nice package.  I never got a chance to go to the range and test out the bullet drop compensation marks, but other articles I have read on the internet indicate that it works.  When looking through the scope it was a clear and sharp image. Would I recommend the Nikon Coyote Special?  Yes.  I didn't see any reason that someone would be unhappy with this scope on a .223 rifle.