Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Century Arms NDS-2 AK-74 Rifle

Back in November I picked up a Century Arms NDS-2 AK-74 rifle. This is a typical semiauto-only Kalashnikov made from a mix of surplus and newly made parts.

The NDS-2 is built on an American made NoDak Spud stamped receiver with a scope rail and a new barrel. It also has a Tapco G2 fire control group (trigger, hammer, and disconnector), American made black plastic furniture, and an American made barrel. The remainder of the parts a Bulgarian surplus. The rifle is finished with a nicely done, even parkerizing.

I finally got to shoot the rifle this past weekend. As expected it ran like a top. I put 120 rounds of Russian surplus 5.45x39mm 7N6 ball through it with no malfunctions, feeding from a couple Bulgarian surplus magazines. Whenever I shoot a new rifle for the first time I try to do so at 25 yards to ensure that it’s on paper, and then move back to 100 yards to fine tune the zero. Since I didn’t feel like picking up an moving my stuff I stayed at 25 yards for this outing. I’ll finish zeroing it the next time I get it to the range.

Shooting the rifle is a pleasure. The G2 FCG has a nice, consistent, light pull. The 5.45mm round has minimal recoil, which is made even less by the very effective muzzle brake. The brake does result in a rather pronounced muzzle blast, however. I have a Bulgarian flash hider which fits the 24mm front sight base of this rifle and may give it a try.

The American made furniture is craptacular. Since Century or their contractor had to setup a mold to make the furniture anyway, I don’t understand why they didn’t just use a set of surplus furniture as the model and copy it. Instead, the butt has insufficient drop for use with iron sights, while the handguards lack a heat shield. I’ve read of other people melting them in sustained fire. So, I ordered a set of olive drab K-Var furniture that will not only look a lot better, is of much higher quality.

Unlike some Century Tantals, I saw no evidence of keyholing due to an oversized bore.

The barrel is plain carbon steel, not chrome lined. Since I’m not taking this rifle into battle with the potential of not being able to clean it regularly, it’s not a problem for me. Even though military surplus 5.45x39mm cartridges are corrosively primed, as long as I clean the gun the same day I won’t see corrosion.

I did run a few patches wet with Hoppe’s No.9 through the barrel, and also wiped the bolt face down before I left the range. Despite Internet myths about cleaning up after corrosive primers, all you need is either Hoppe’s No.9, MPro-7, or USGI Rifle Bore Cleaner. Hoppe’s No.9 was introduced in the early part of the last century and has always been rated for cleaning up after corrosive ammunition. Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the only ammo I shot in my SKS was Chicom 7.62x39 with corrosive primers. Hoppe’s was all I used for cleaning and I never had any rust.

Despite the lack of a chromed bore this rifle with better furniture is a good choice for a defensive carbine. New production non-corrosive 5.45mm ammo is available, but even in most SHTF scenarios it’s not an issue. If you can stock up on ammo you can lay in a decent supply of solvent and a cleaning kit.

Aside from the light recoil, the 5.45x39 round has the reputation for better accuracy in AKs than the more common 7.62x39 cartridge. Also, it’s currently the cheapest centerfire round available, if you buy military surplus ammo. For example, AIM Surplus currently lists a 1080 spam can of 7N6 for $139.95 + shipping, or $10 less if you buy more than one can. At that price you can afford to stock up.

AK-74 magazines are a bit harder to find than AK-47 mags. At one time they were very common and as cheap as dirt but that’s no longer the case. That being said, some time spent searching online will find magazines available for sale. I would stick with military surplus magazines for serious use, however.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the NDS-2.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Ruger LCP .380 Pistol

In a few of my recent posts on Blog O’Stuff I have discussed why it is important for Americans (especially Jews) to keep and bear arms. I also posted a link to a thread on Arfcom, "Street Robberies and You." Last week I picked up a new pistol which will help me follow my own advice, a Ruger LCP.

Ruger's LCP (Light Carry Pistol) is one of several recent micro-sized semiauto pistol designs to reach the market. It's in many ways a copy of the Kel-Tec P3AT. The Taurus TCP, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380, and Diamondback DB380 are all in the same class. The specs for the Ruger are:

  • Caliber: .380 ACP
  • Capacity: 6 in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber
  • Length: 5.16"
  • Width: 0.82"
  • Height: 3.6"
  • Weight: 9.4 oz for the standard model, 9.9 oz for the model with a LaserMax LASER* sight.
  • Sights: Fixed, machined integral with the slide.
  • Finish: Blued

I bought the LCP-LM, which is the one with the LaserMax sight.  MSRP is $443 but I was able to get it for $399 including tax. Here’s a quick picture of my pistol:

The LCP comes in a cardboard box with one magazine, an extended magazine floorplate, a gun lock, pistol rug, fired case, LaserMax flyer and adjustment wrench, and an owner's manual.

As can be seen in this picture, the Ruger is tiny. The silver object is a standard Zippo lighter which I included for scale. I have small hands and can get only two fingers on the grip. I installed the extended floorplate even before I took the gun to the range, because at under 10 oz. unloaded I want the extra purchase that it provides. Even so, I can get only two fingers onto the grip.

I went with the LASER for a couple reasons. First, even though this is a belly gun the need to use aimed fire could arise. The LCP's sights are tiny and won't be very visible in poor lighting. Second, statistically, most defensive gun usages are resolved without shots fired. Once a bad guy knows his intended victim is ready to resist with a gun, he usually finds that he needs to be elsewhere post-haste. The LASER can enhance the deterrent effect of a gun, and if shots do need to be fired, will help in putting them on target.

The placement of the LASER's ambidextrous switch works very well for me. When holding the gun with my index finger off the trigger, indexed on the frame, the tip is right on the switch. I can immediately press it to turn on the LASER, without shifting my firing grip.

I do wish Ruger included a second magazine with the gun. A leading cause of malfunctions with semiauto pistols is defective or dirty magazines. So, the same night I brought the LCP home I ordered another mag with the extended floorplate from MidwayUSA, along with a couple of boxes of CCI Blazer .380 ACP Full Metal Jacket ammunition.

A word about defensive ammo choice for the LCP: The .380 ACP cartridge is on the low end of acceptable defensive cartridges. Bullets are generally light and if hollow points are used, you may not get enough penetration to reach an assailant's vitals and incapacitate him. So, I plan to carry it with FMJ ammo, which will reliably penetrate at least 12" in ballistic gelatin.

Many folks will just chuck a gun like the LCP in their pocket and go on their way. Although I'm currently packing the Ruger that way, I've ordered a DeSantis Superfly pocket holster to keep the gun consistently oriented, and to keep the LASER from being switched on accidentally. If you choose to pocket carry without a holster, be sure to not put anything else in the same pocket as the gun. You don't want anything getting into the trigger guard that might cause the gun to discharge, or prevent you from firing it, e.g., something getting lodged behind the trigger.

Yesterday I took the Ruger to the range and put a box of Federal American Eagle .380 ACP FMJ through it. I had one failure to go into battery in the first magazine but after that it ran perfectly. Putting only 50 rounds through a semiauto gun to "prove" it is generally deemed to be insufficient, but the light weight of these micro-.380s comes with a price: brutal recoil. You don't shoot one of these for fun, unless you're a masochist. Not only does it whack your hand, there's some trigger slap and sometimes the recoil drives the inside of the bottom of the triggerguard into your finger.

Anyway, using the the minimalist iron sights the Ruger LCP is surprisingly accurate. It will pretty easily hold the center ring of an IDPA target at 15 yards until your hand starts getting beat up. I turned on the LASER and was able to see it on the white target from 15 yards, but in this outing didn't shoot with it on.

Up until fairly recently, if you wanted a posket pistol this size you were limited to guns chambered for .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, or .25 ACP. With the advent of the micro-.380s starting with Kel-Tec's P3AT you can now get a similarly sized pistol that chambers are much more effective cartridge. This makes it easier for more Americans to be armed for self-defense, which is a win in my book.


* I capitalize "LASER" because properly, it is an acronym meaning Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.