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  1. I appreciate that Greg. Dan and Debbie are great people making great products for us to use. I only write reviews on products I use myself, I'm sure there are people who make a living on reviewing random products, but that is just not me. If the product works, is manufactured or Engineered in the USA, and performs as expected, I will write a review and share my thoughts hoping to inform others who enjoy this hobby. Cheers AF
  2. They are very knowledgeable of the products the make. It still amazes me how some people question Dan's decision not to stake the keys. Easy to be a armchair quarterback behind a keyboard and I'm not referring to members on this forum. I've got several thousand rounds on the Match BCG and close to 1k on this SLC BCG. No issues what so ever, it performs as good as any other BCG ive owned in the past. All I use in my builds is Young and I've been very happy so far. Cheers
  3. Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. In doing an in depth review it helps educate operators of the product and should answer most questions. Facts take longer to vet than opinion and I try to keep to the facts as much as possible. Glad you guys enjoyed it. The users on this forum are certainly more polite and appreciative.
  4. Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. In doing an in depth review it helps educate operators of the product and should answer most questions. Facts take longer to vet than opinion and I try to keep to the facts as much as possible. Glad you guys enjoyed it. The users on this forum are certainly more polite and appreciative.
  5. As part of my 2017 reviews, I'm going to discuss the Young Manufactring Inc. SLC Super Light Carrier complete bolt carrier group (BCG). This is not just a standard BCG, It is highly optimized for 3-Gun shooters and those looking for a lightweight option for their competition build. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Young Manufacturing Inc. Chrome National Match Bolt Carrier several years ago when building my match long rifle. Some of the information pertaining to manufacturing is the same, however, there is also some subtle differences. The BCG is a critical component in an AR15. Unlike other components which can be marginally operational, such as an adjustable stock and sights to name a few, the BCG has to be fully functional to prevent many problems, including possible catastrophic failure. In simple operating steps, the BCG routes gasses in a direct impingement system to the bolt, which in turn releases itself from the chamber, on its path to the buffer aft, ejecting the empty case and on its return path picking up a new round as it is slammed back into battery. Simple enough to explain in words but there is a lot of details and components which work in harmony for a smooth functioning AR15 and the BCG is the heart of the operation. There are different models of BCG's and Young Manufactring (YM) makes a variety to suit your operational requirements. The YM SLC Super Light Carrier is the lightest BCG they offer. Complete with the bolt fully assembled, it weighs ~9.4oz which is one of the lightest steel BCG you can purchase on the market. This low mass steel BCG offers a great advantage for competition shooters and recreational shooting. Used in conjunction with an adjustable gas system, competition shooters reliably use lighter BCG's without any issues or concerns. I'm using the YM SCL in a highly tuned rifle configured for a specific purpose with an adjustable gas block and hydraulic dampener. I would caution using a lighter BCG for a duty or combat weapon unless you are familiar with the inner workings of the platform and tuned your system properly. I’m not saying a standard over gassed off the shelf AR15 with a low mass BCG will not function properly. To prove this, I tested the YM SLC in a brand new off the shelf name brand rifle my friend had just purchased. Given the rifle is over gassed from factory, YM SLC ran through a few hundred rounds (XM193/5.56) without any hiccups what so ever. Granted this was a new clean rifle, I would caution against this on rifles with worn parts and not properly tuned. If it is a combat or duty weapon than YM offers a full weight version to suit your needs which surpasses Mil-Spec standards. For operators looking for the edge in competition shooting, YM SLC is a perfect match. Reliability is a key concern for those looking to use a low mass BCG. Understanding the purpose of the YM SLC is important given this product is optimized and designed for 3-Gun and competition shooters. I've heard everything from how a light weight BCG is less reliable because dirty rifle causes issues to incorrectly inter-mixing "momentum", "energy", and "recoil" to name a few. The primary advantage of YM SLC is faster follow up shots in addition to the other design elements which sets this BCG apart. The reduced reciprocating mass off the BCG changes the perceived "felt recoil", it does not change momentum, which is what recoil actually is. I went into full detail on this subject in another review for a different component. I will explain some of the Physics and Laws relating to the BCG without any equations. The total mass of the rifle, not the reciprocating components like BCG affect recoil. Attach an AR15 to a tank and you won't feel any ‘felt recoil’ because the overall mass of the rifle has increased. The reciprocating components mass being heavier or lighter do not alter momentum, this is fact due to Newton’s laws of conservation. The "felt recoil", assuming all things being equal, such as load and other components, a lighter BCG has faster acceleration given it has less mass, so "felt recoil" will be different. The delta in time it takes for the ‘felt recoil’ to be perceived by the operator is changed as a result of the lighter BCG. Momentum is a vector and has direction, energy does not, very easy to confuse the two. Using a lighter BCG results in higher velocity put on the buffer and spring given the time it takes to travel is shortened due to less reciprocating mass. However, since there is less mass from the BCG, the buffer spring has less potential energy which could possibly result in reliability issues on worn out rifles not properly maintained. Yes buffer springs need to be replaced regardless of BCG type, some tuned springs need to be replaced at a higher frequency. Simply put, a lighter BCG moves faster than a heavier BCG so the operator might perceive quick “sharper recoil”. You can read my other review which goes into details about momentum, energy and laws of conservation. The take away here is with a YM SLC the "felt recoil" will be different compared to a standard weight BCG and reliability is dependent on the operator properly servicing their weapon. Fit and finish is what you would expect from YM, which is a work of art in my opinion. Aesthetics are just as important to some operators like myself as function. This BCG is no exception with the beautiful smooth chrome coating making clean up a breeze. At the time of my last review, Dan, the owner of Young Manufacturing would purchase bolts from a Government contractor, now they are all manufactured in house made from 9310 steel. This type of steel properly heat treated, actually is slightly tougher than C158 which is a Mil-Spec standard. The carrier is made from 8620 solid bar stock and cut down to shape by a precision CNC. I emailed Dan about the manufacturing process and this is his response: “We manufacture The carrier, bolt, extractor, ejector, firing pin, cam pin, and gas key in house on CNC equipment. Our carriers and bolts are machined leaving extra material on all close tolerance diameters. After heat treat we precision grind the bolt diameters to remove any distortion from heat treat. At the same time we grind the bolt lugs in relation to the bolt face to achieve 100% bolt lug contact with the barrel extension. The carrier is also precision ground on the outside and inside diameters to remove distortion caused by heat treat.” The BCG is chrome plated to 68-69 Rockwell C for a smooth corrosion resistant finish. The Gas key is machined from 4140 bar stock and heat treated to 36-50 RC, than chromed to match the same finish as the carrier and bolt. The heat treatment and chroming process is done at an external facility which specializes in those processes. Chrome is just easier to clean due to the smooth surface and slick finish. Since chrome has a lower coefficient of friction, this helps reduce wear and tear against your aluminum upper receiver. Wear and tear is often overlooked in the AR15 platform because of how reliable this weapon is. YM SLC chrome BCG adds another benefit by extending the life of your nice expensive billet or forged upper receiver. Chrome coating under a microscope compared to a parkerized finish has substantially fewer high ridge points which collect carbon build up. In another review I posted images comparing parkerized coating to other finishes with my stereo scope. YM SLC chrome coating is slick and smooth to the touch which minimizes friction between the upper receiver and BCG helping reduce premature wear. Chrome also has great corrosion resistance compared to other finishes. The SLC BCG has meat in all the right places for a very tight tolerance and fit. The bulk of the weight shaved is in the aft where it makes most sense. I fitted this BCG in an off the shelf brand new AR15 with a forged upper receiver comparing fit to my light weight billet upper receiver. The forged upper receiver as expected was slightly looser than the billet upper, but compared to the parkerized off shelf BCG, the YM SLC was much tighter in fit which is what you expect from a high quality machined BCG. A machined fit between two components with minimal play pays dividends in the long run to prevent premature wear and reliability issues. The high tolerance of this YM SLC and chrome finish is why this is a premium component. This light weigh carrier also retains the forward assist serrations which is critical for some operators to retain. Not all light weight BCG’s retain these serrations. There are even lighter aluminum and titanium BCG variants on the market, however they present their own problems with wear issues and other operational idiosyncrasies with coating and lubrication which leaves little to be desired. For a proven performance benefit in competition shooting, long term reliability, a lightened steel BCG like YM SLC is the ideal compromise between weight, yield strength and tensile strength. Dan has over 30 years’ experience in Aerospace, he and his wife Debbie have been in the firearms business since 1991. They don't just manufacture great products which meet Mil-Spec standards, they go above those standards which really sets them apart from the competitors. One of those standards is Gas Key screws, which Dan previously shared with me the reason they are not staked. You can download the article in this link (http://youngmanufacturing.net/assets/images/Gas%20Key%20Letter.pdf). Below is a copy of the letter: There has been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of staking the gas key on the carrier. Here is our opinion and why Young Manufacturing will not stake keys. We have been making carriers since 1991. The US Mil Spec. assembly drawing requires the carrier key to be staked. Contrary to some popular opinions staking does not “SEAL” the gas key. Staking keeps the screws from backing out. Period. If you do not properly torque the screws to 56 inch pounds you will be staking a screw that is loose or one that is over torqued and prone to breakage. We have seen plenty of staked screws that are loose or broken. The Mil Spec. also calls for the gas key bottom surface to be “SEALED” with Permatex gasket sealer. Something no one does to our knowledge. Here is our procedure for installing a gas key. First clean the oil from the gas key and the mating surface on the carrier. Then clean the oil from the screw threads. We use brake cleaner for this. Next use a very light coating of Permatex high strength thread locker gel on the bottom of the key. PN 27010. This is much easier to use than the Permatex gasket sealer. It comes in a plastic twist dispenser and can be purchased at ACE Hardware. Make sure you don’t use so much that it squishes into the gas port hole. The cure rate is 60 minutes. Next coat the screw threads with the same gel. Install the key and torque the screws to 56 inch pounds. Should you decide to remove the key for some reason don’t use the old screws when you put the key back on! You will most likely break them during installation or when you fire the rifle. Go to the local hardware store and buy new 8-32 x ¼” SHCS. If you feel the need to stake the screws spend the money and get one of the staking tools from Brownell that uses a screw type system to swedge the material into the top of the screw. Don’t use a hammer and a punch! You can stretch the thread on the screw and now you have a loose screw that will eventually break if the gun even fires. You may also swedge the material out so far that it drags in the upper receiver. We will not warrantee a carrier with a staked key no matter who staked it. You will be charged for a new key and any labor required to remove broken screws. Good Shooting! Daniel H Young President I have been using my YM National Match BCG for years and never had a single problem with the gas keys. It is a testament to the process and engineering behind the product. I’m a firm believer staking gas keys is not necessary on YM BCG’s from firsthand experience and thousands of rounds on my YM National Match BCG. As Dan stated, if you still insist on staking use the proper tool. I plan on putting thousands of rounds through this YM SLC BCG and I don’t expect a different result nor do I plan on staking the gas keys. Shooting with the YM SLC BCG was quite a surprise and eye opening experience. Of course as I stated above to get the most out of this light weight BCG it requires tuning the gas system. Once I had the gas system tuned with an adjustable gas block which I reviewed in another review the difference was striking. Switching between a full weight BCG and this lightweight YM SLC BCG was shocking how the difference in mass affects “perceived recoil” and follow up shots accuracy. I noticed right away I could get on target much faster and follow up shots were quicker. This was somewhat expected but I was still surprised how much more effective this lighter YM SLC changed my shooting experience. No question using this lighter BCG requires a tunable system to gain the most operational benefit. After multiple sessions and hundreds of rounds with the YM SLC I feel confident in saying this is an integral component for a competition rifle. Installation and breakdown of YM SLC is no different than the YM National Match BCG I broke down in my previous review. Here is a video link for breakdown and assembly ( ). Lubrication points are also the same and keep this BCG lubed up for optimal performance. Clearly the YM SLC is a niche BCG with a proven difference in operational manner from my experience. For operators looking to build a light weight rifle setup for competition shooting, I would look no further than Young Manufactring SLC super light carrier BCG. Youtube Video Link: https://youtu.be/TuQQEFrnizg
  6. As part of my 2017 reviews, I'm going to discuss the Elftmann Ambidextrous Speed Safety & 3-Gun Skeleton curved Trigger. ELF is an innovative company bringing to the market new and unique products no one has ever seen. From their Dual trigger, ambidextrous speed safety, and use of needle bearings in their high quality drop in triggers. For this lightweight build, I looked at various options for each component with the goal of shedding as much weight as possible but also using new innovative products. When I saw the ELF safety and 3-Gun skeleton trigger I knew I had come across the right components. Engineering components to surpass tried and proven Mil-Spec parts is not only expensive but bold. ELF products are engineered to surpass standards and improve them, this is why I choose to review these products and use them on my own rifle. AR-15 / AR-10 Ambidextrous Speed Safety: The design of this safety is anything unlike I have ever seen before on the AR15 platform. Functionally it is identical to any Mil-Spec safety, but operationally it is quite different. A standard rotating safety lever on a semi-auto AR15 platform consists of two operating modes, safe and fire (Full auto is not standard on AR15). There are a lot of manufacturers offering rotating ambidextrous safety levers with different style levers. Some of these selectors require additional hardware to complete install. In addition in the event a lever becomes loose, it requires disassembling the receivers to access a small fastener on the selector. Personally, adding complexity to a simple component with additional torx or hex screws, and use of additional tools is not desirable in my opinion. The traditional one piece rotating safety selector is simple and works well for many with a single limitation, ambidextrous operation. I use a one piece safety on my other rifles. This ELF safety fills a gap which does not exist. ELF is one piece, light weight design, with an "ambidextrous" type operation. A caveat, I do not consider this a true ambidextrous safety, you simply cannot switch between operating modes using just one side of the safety. This type of safety selector is known as a cross bolt safety, it is popular on lever action hunting rifles and some pistols. It is easy to engage into a spirited debate about the use of cross bolt safety in hunting rifles. The half-cocked, locked/unlocked, chamber loaded/unloaded debate all has merits and arguments for use of a cross bolt safety. The AR15 platforms use of a detented safety minimizes some of the debate topics. The obvious argument is it is inherently less safe if you accidentally bump the selector or lay it on the ground and it changes selector position since there is no recessed protection built into a lower receiver. I tested this theory myself and while it is impossible to replicate every scenario, not once did the ELF safety change positions on me. Keep in mind the same spring tension of a rotating safety selector applies to this cross bolt safety. One can surmise a rotating safety selector just as easily can get caught on something, especially some of these enhanced safety levers which are more prominent. Of course anything is possible and accidents can happen, it is the operators’ responsibility to make sure their weapons are stored and operated properly to mitigate accidents. ELF safety comes with a custom detent which is shaped slightly different at the tip with a more rounded profile. With this detent and a new spring, it makes it virtually impossible to graze the selector and accidentally change positions. It has a very tactile feedback when switching positions from the CNC machined detent groves in the selector. From my experience, there is enough tension to provide the operator the ability to switch positions without exerting unnecessary force. On the other hand, it is stiff enough to prevent switching positions with a light bump or accidental tap. Safety concern over amount of force required can be modified with an easy fix, changing a worn grip safety spring, higher tension spring or even a simple spacer between the spring and detent. After using this safety for some time, I like the feel and amount of force required to change positions, no modification required. It is important to understand the intended purpose of ELF speed safety to determine if this is the right safety for your rifle, the emphasis being “speed”. The primary advantage is intuitive operation, for 3-Gun competition, speed is just as critical as a lightweight configuration. For a right handed shooter, it is quick and easy to switch to fire position without removing your trigger finger by simply pressing your thumb against the safety. Similar to a standard AR15 rotating safety lever, it is tailored to right handed shooters in my opinion. I can see if there is enough interest, ELF might possibly be able to CNC a left handed version but I’m just speculating so don’t hold me to it. Typical cross bolt safeties like I have on my Marlin and I’ve seen on my friends shotguns, fire mode is actually in the opposite direction compared to the AR15 platform. ELF likely intentionally did not intend for their safety to operate in the conventional orientation I assume. It is actually a huge benefit for 3-Gun right handed shooters to orient the fire position the way they did. The intuitive operation of a right handed shooter when they are done firing is to remove the index finger away from the trigger, naturally moving the index finger to hit the ELF safety to the safe position makes perfect sense. It is very simple and intuitive once you get the hang of it and it becomes muscle memory. I took me very little time to adapt from lever operation to push button and honestly it makes more sense than lever orientation position to me. ELF ambidextrous speed safety is made 100% here in the USA and CNC out of A2 Tool hardened steel. It comes in both a stainless and black oxide finish. It only weighs 0.35oz. ELF includes a custom detent which is rounded compared to the standard detent at the tip. This allows for quick smooth operation when switching between modes. If there is one gripe I have is this detent is not a standard detent, I wouldn’t go as far as to call it proprietary but in one respect it is for proper operation of the selector. I understand it is engineered to a specific geometry to allow for smooth operation, but it puts the burden on the operator to purchase a specific spare detent in the event it gets lost or becomes damaged. There is a red o-ring on the right side which is a quick indicator the selector is in the fire position when it is exposed. You can remove the o-ring or change it to a different color to suit your preference. This ELF safety selector is compatible with any Mil-Spec receiver and ELF provides a lifetime guarantee so they stand behind this product. Picking the right safety selector is a subjective process given there is so many options. Selecting a safety selector for an intended purpose and application narrows the options further. The standard rotating safety selector is fantastic option I personally prefer over ambidextrous selectors for most of my rifles, but for my lightweight competition rifle, ELF wins hands down from my experience. This ELF safety after using it frequently and each trip to the range has grown on me. Getting used to a cross bolt safety can be confusing at first, especially if your muscle memory is expecting a rotating safety selector. Given how intuitive it is, adapting takes no time. I wouldn't personally use this in a duty or combat weapon, but for a competition rifle it is a clear winner hands down for speed and intuitiveness. Whether it fits your application or not, consider this another option when building an AR15. ELF 3-Gun Trigger: I'm a huge fan of single stage triggers and quality triggers in general. The first upgrade on all my firearms is the trigger. From my 1911 C&S match trigger, Ghost for my Glocks, to Timney skeleton trigger and others on my rifles and pistols, it is an essential upgrade which changes your shooting experience. This is one of the single most important upgrades an operator can make to help improve the operation and accuracy of the weapon. I always caution my friends, you can go cheap on other components if you don't want to spend money, but don't skimp out on the trigger. Once they shoot my weapons they turn into believers. There are single and two-stage trigger options to choose from. Drop in triggers, which are fully self-contained, or the traditional three piece with springs type. It is purely subjective and comes down to a matter of personal preference. Most triggers are set to a specific pull weight anywhere from 1.5lbs and up, without the ability to make any weight adjustments easily. These fixed aftermarket triggers can be possibly tuned by bending springs or changing springs if the manufacturer offers a stiffer rated version. I do not recommend bending springs or grinding down on fire control group components for safety reasons among others unless you are an experienced gun smith and know what you are doing. The best option is to purchase a trigger which offers a weight adjustment like ELF, it provides the operator the ability to tune the pull weight to their liking, or buy a trigger with a predefined specific pull weight. This ELF 3-Gun trigger fit every criteria I was looking for, single stage, light weight, adjustable pull weight and manufactured here in the USA with a lifetime warranty. The ELF 3-Gun skeleton trigger not only aesthetically looks pleasing, it also performs as advertised. This is a true drop in trigger which means easy install for both expert to novice operators. To better understand what sets this trigger apart from the competitors, I will discuss what to look for in a quality trigger and how it relates to this trigger. Pull weight is the first advertised spec you will likely see next to trigger stage. Similar to trigger stage, pull weight is subjective and personal preference with arguments on both sides about weight and application. Pull weight is the amount of pressure, measured usually in pounds, required to fire the weapon by disengaging the sear which includes pre-travel. ELF 3-Gun trigger has an adjustable hex screw which allows the operator to adjust the pull weight anywhere from 2.75lbs to 4lbs. It is rare to find a drop in trigger with this capability. The hex screw does not require any thread locker, adjustment is very easy without requiring disassembly of the trigger. After making adjustments to the screw I noticed there is what appears to be some type of thread compound on the screw preventing it from easily going out of adjustment. ELF provides a hex wrench with the trigger, simply remove the take down pin, pivot the upper receiver, and you have access to the adjuster screw from top. I made incremental adjustments of about 1/2 turn, I found the sweet spot on the lighter side just less than 3lbs. I used a Lyman digital pull gauge to measure advertised pull weight, it was spot on the advertised weight. Although not necessary, I added dab of low strength thread locker on last visible thread where the screw meets the body for added insurance since I don’t plan to make any more adjustments. The pull weight felt very consistent throughout the day and follow up sessions. Set it and forget it, that is how consistent the ELF trigger is. Part of the Pull weight is pre-travel which contains a subset of steps or events before the weapon fires. Trigger take-up or slack is the amount of movement the trigger travels before you feel resistance. This is a highly undesirable event in a single stage trigger. Unlike a two-stage trigger which contains a predefined first stage travel, in a single stage, this unwanted travel serves no purpose. A high quality trigger should have zero take-up. Comparing a standard three piece Mil-Spec trigger, which has a fair amount of take-up is not fair, ELF 3-Gun trigger has no take-up what so ever I can feel or measure. This means you are right at the wall of the trigger. The wall is where you first feel resistance of the sear after the take-up step is completed. Following the wall is trigger creep, operators often reference the feel as a "gritty trigger". It is impossible to be 100% creep free, even on the best trigger due to the AR15 trigger design. The goal is to minimize the creep as much as possible while maintaining smooth motion of travel. Creep is movement of the sear which causes engagement of the mainspring. The gritty feeling from a low quality trigger is actually due to trigger stacking and stepping. This occurs when the resistance required reaching the break point increases as a result of poorly manufactured components. The surface, shape and angles of the sear and hammer all affect the perceivable stacking and steps of a quality trigger. ELF 3-Gun trigger has no stacking or steps, so creep is very smooth as one would expect from a match quality trigger. Without instrumentation, there is no easy way to measure creep distance, it is virtually impossible to measure by feel alone on this ELF trigger, it must be anywhere from 0-1mm at most given the CNC precision and tolerance of this trigger. Trigger break ensues creep, the sear has released the hammer and bang goes the gun. A "clean crisp" break is reference to a break with no noticeable creep or ill effects of staking or stepping. I have many high quality triggers and the ELF in my opinion is by far at the top of that list. Commencing trigger break is over-travel, it is the distance a trigger travels after the break, before it stops. This is yet another undesirable event which serves no purpose. There needs to be a certain amount of over-travel to release the sear, however on a quality trigger excess over-travel is minimized as close as possible to zero. This becomes very evident if you have ever modified a trigger control connector on a Glock by sanding and honing it down just enough to clear the sear to prevent any over-travel. It is a tedious slow process, but with patience, the end result is a Glock with zero excess over-travel. ELF does not have a trigger stop adjuster and it does not need one, the mechanical trigger stop is very close to sear release point. Unlike some weapons where the rear of the trigger well is the stop point, ELF does not suffer from any noticeable excess over-travel from my experience. The measurement would be on par with creep, requiring precision instrumentation to measure the likely 0-1mm over-travel. This makes the ELF 3-Gun a great trigger which does not hinder quick follow up shots and accuracy. I have modified all my Glock triggers, I’m pleased, like my 1911 with a match trigger, this Elf trigger performs just as well out the box so I don’t have any excess over-travel to be concerned with. Trigger reset is another area ELF 3-Gun shines since it is designed for speed. Reset is critical for fast follow up shots. Trigger reset is the step following over-travel by releasing the trigger the opposite direction to re-engage the sear. On a high quality trigger, this is not only tactile but audible, the operator feels the reset to allow for quick follow up shots. Clearly how audible it is won't matter during successive shooting, but the tactile feedback is critical once you get a feel for the reset and behavior of the trigger. ELF has a quick snappy reset which is perfect for competition shooting. The feedback is very pronounced and designed this way for 3-Gun competition operators. The reset distance I measured is within ~2mm, it is the shortest reset I have experienced on an AR15 trigger which sets this trigger apart from the pack. Successive follow up shots with this trigger at the range prompted the range master to ask me if I was on full auto, once I showed him the trigger and let him shoot my rifle he was nothing but impressed about how well the trigger performed. Accurate successive shots during a timed match is critical. Unlike most AR15 triggers, ELF 3-Gun contains a 100% drop-safe safety stop which is advertised on their website. This is attained with the extra notch in the hammer which allows the sear to catch in the event the rifle is accidentally dropped or bump fired. Not sure why more manufacturers don't add this additional half-cocked safety feature, it does not engage under normal operation, it is just an added layer of safety if the hammer slips off the sear accidentally. I can only assume cost is the primary factor but it is a welcome enhancement in my opinion. ELF states regardless of trigger weight, the drop-safety will function. I see this feature being very beneficial for lower pull weight settings. I did not test this function during live fire sessions, but I give credence to the claim. However, in my youtube video you can see where I tested the drop-safe safety sear by lightly pulling on the trigger just enough to simulate how this safety feature works. A highlighted key design feature of ELF 3-Gun trigger is use of Aerospace grade sealed needle bearings. These bearing help minimize friction for the smoothest and fastest possible operation. This is the only trigger on the market utilizing Aerospace grade bearings I’m aware of. There is no doubt the trigger action feels smooth, the bearings likely attribute to this factor. This leads to faster and more accurate follow up shots, which is the big selling point of this trigger. The full power hammer spring and skeletonized hammer is a big part of the fast lock time, which is a contributing factor for the performance this trigger offers. I generally shoot NATO 5.56 XTAC and a variety of other match ammo loads, ELF 3-Gun trigger reliably regardless of load fired off each round without any hiccups. I have so far put about 1000 rounds through this rifle and never had a single misfire or odd primer markings. It has been consistent from the first round to the last. The housing is made of aircraft grade 6061 aluminum. Incredibly it only weights ~2oz, which is a big factor for a low mass 3-Gun build. The Trigger housing is anodized while the trigger components receive an oxide coating. The trigger is manufactured via Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM). This process allows them to make the unique skeleton hammer and other components with such high tolerances. EDM process is used to manufacture extremely hard materials where conventional CNC machines do not cut it. It is used in Aerospace and Electronics industry to name a few. All the laser work is done in house on the trigger. The double/double wound proprietary hammer spring is also manufactured in house. The only parts ELF does not produce themselves are the bearings, small screws and small springs. The face of the trigger lever is notched across, it provides a positive contact feel and helps retain feedback when wearing a glove. ELF offers both standard and large pin models to fit any lower receiver. It comes in both a straight and curved model to suit your preference and all of these products are Patent pending. Personally I like to shoot without gloves, on cold days when I wear gloves the notches on the lever face prevent any slipping feeling and gives me more confidence. I like the curved trigger for aesthetic reasons on this specific rifle I built, but I also have a flat lever trigger so it just comes down to preference. The skeleton hammer is very unique, I have not personally seen another like it even though I have another high end skeleton trigger, only the lever is skeleton. The skeleton hammer likely attributes to the light weight design. Install is very similar to other drop in triggers, there is an install guide with lots of pictures which comes with the trigger, it is also available to download on the ELF website. The trigger does not come with pins, you can use standard Mil-Spec style 0.154” pins without any issues. This worked out great in my case because of the light weight Titanium pins I wanted to use anyway, rather than being forced into using proprietary pins like another drop in trigger I own. ELF offers their own version of anti-walk pins if you want to go that route. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully, specifically the pull weight adjuster. If you adjust too light, the disconnector will not release the hammer, too tight the trigger will just not fire. ELF provides a thin steel floor plate to protect your lower receiver against the set screws, it is a good option for aluminum receivers to protect the frame, but I opted to leave it out. In my opinion it is more suited for those using polymer receivers. With any lower receivers there will be slight differences in the trigger well, hammer and trigger pin location even though they are made to Mil-spec standards. I noticed with just a few of the receivers I have from different manufacturers and manufacturing style such as billet and forged, the difference was anywhere from 1-3mm from the top of the receiver to the center of the pin holes and thickness of the trigger wall. That said, it is important to understand not all drop in triggers will work as advertised because of these tolerances in the lower receiver. I had an issue with the ELF drop safety sear bulge on the hammer contacting the trigger well wall as the hammer resets past the disconnector. I called Steve at ELF and he was great about giving me suggestions to try during install and sent out a replacement trigger immediately. Later I found the problem to be the trigger wall in this specific lower receiver, I put some masking tape on the wall and found out where the bulge was contacting the trigger well wall. I end up shaving about 1.5mm with my Dermel where this bulge was contacting the wall. Once the drop safety sear cleared this wall the hammer properly reset past the disconnector and I was in business. I put the ELF trigger in my Billet lower receiver which is precision CNC to spec, the drop safety bulge cleared the trigger well wall without issues, it goes to show just a few mm’s during manufacturing will make a difference in fit. After I reported my findings to Steve the following week, he mentioned this drop safety bulge would be looked at and possibly reduced in size to fit in receivers of various tolerances. Steve stated ELF tests every single trigger in a lower receiver for fit before shipping, there is a high probability you will not have the same issues I ran into, but if you run into this same issue you can bet your trigger well wall is out of spec. There are two options if you run into this issue, one is to modify the lower receiver, the other is to modify and shave down the drop safety sear bulge. I choose to modify the receiver because I did not want to change or affect the integrity of the hammer in any manner. In the end it was a very easy fix, more so it is eye opening given all these lower receivers are supposed to be “Mil-Spec”, however manufacturers deviate from the standard by a few mm’s during manufacturing. For a precision weapon this is unacceptable, but also to be expected since these lowers come from various manufacturers. You can't talk about a high quality trigger without mentioning ELF. The website states: "The amazingly short takeup, glass-rod crisp break and next to zero over-travel can be compared to the finest custom 1911 triggers" Owning a highly modified 1911 with a match 3lb trigger which I reviewed in the past, I completely agree. ELF trigger is hands down the best AR15 trigger I have personally used. I asked Steve what inspired this trigger design and his response: “New signature difference in our triggers is the bearings...inspired by the fact that anything that needs to rotate smoothly uses bearings - Art Elftmann simply applied that concept to triggers and the result is the most amazing trigger you will ever feel in an AR platform.” I also asked what other products ELF was going to release and his response: “Elftmann Tactical is an innovator and there are many exciting new products on the horizon.” A huge praise is this trigger like the ambidextrous speed safety is made 100% in the USA and come with a lifetime guarantee. You can see the trend in my reviews, I review American made products manufactured here in the USA. ELF products are a fine example of great Engineering, and manufacturing here in the states. As you can expect with any high quality product, there is a premium price to be paid, which in my opinion is well worth it for these ELF components. I've had the pleasure of using this trigger and speed safety for some time now and I'm very pleased with the performance of both. If you are considering a high quality single stage trigger look no further than ELF. Youtube Video Link: https://youtu.be/27rImzsu06o
  7. If you read my review I posted a quote direct from the Vortex website right where i describe "Parallax free" Having said that I agree this is somewhat confusing for those not familiar with parallax which is why I explained it is impossible to be 100% parallax free. I look it this way, the optics manufacturers are all more or less using the same type of language or disclaimer when talking about parallax and they have determined with an acceptable threshold is for the claim. In Vortex defense they have the disclaimer on the same specifications page where they list "parallax free" The barrier to entry of "parallax free" is really set by the MFGs themselves. cheers
  8. Thanks, glad everyone is enjoying it. There is no such thing as a true "parallax free" red dot on the market for the reasons I explained in the review. However many manufacturers like Vortex claim an industry standard low as an acceptable threshold for being considered "parallax free". What a lot of other manufacturers do not do is disclose what their interpretation of "parallax free" is on their website which is deceptive in some way but Vortex is clear and up front with it right on the same product page. Nice to see you starting your boy so young in the sport. Cheers
  9. As part of my 2017 reviews, I'm going to discuss the Vortex Venom 3 MOA Red Dot. Mounting a huge NightForce or Sightron Scope I have on my long riles is just not an option for this light weight competition rifle, a compact micro red dot is preferred. There are lots of red dots to choose from at different price points. Having used a variety of high end red dots from known reputable manufacturers, I wanted to try something different and more compact to shed as much weight as possible for this 3-Gun build. None of the high end red dots I own fit the weight requirement so after some research, Vortex was a clear winner for me for a number of reasons I'll digress below. There are many optics options, specifically red dots to choose from these days. There are a lot of imitation red dots from overseas flooding the market at a fraction of the price. Word of caution, you get what you pay for, do not be surprised if the knock off fails or just doesn't perform as expected. Personally, I have never owned a knock off and will not waste my time testing and reviewing one. However, I do know a few people who went down this route to only regret their decision. Choosing the right red dot is a challenge with so many different manufacturers offering a variety to choose from including Vortex. Understanding the application for which you will be using a red dot and the type of red dot is imperative. What exactly is a red dot and how does it work? To pick the right red dot, you need to be informed how a red dot works, and some of the basic terminologies you will encounter from marketing data. There are different types of red dots, the most popular similar to this Vortex Venom, is a reflector sight or reflex type. A light emitting diode (LED) is the primary light source emitting a red wavelength of light, projecting on a tinted objective lens. Some red dots depending on design, bounce light between multiple lenses before reaching the objective lens. The objective lens is tinted to help reflect the wavelength of LED output, at the same time blocking specific spectrum of light. This is by design, to reflect the reticle back to the operator, and prevent other natural light frequencies to flood out the reticle on the objective lens. Otherwise, visibility of the reticle would be hampered or nonexistent depending on light conditions. If you look at a red dot lens from the muzzle side, you will hardly be able to see the reticle at all. Red dot reticle is an option which is far too subjective. Reticles come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Personally I prefer a simple red reticle red dot, Vortex Venom is available in red reticle at either 6 or 3 MOA. MOA is minutes of angle, it is a reference of size in relation to distance. One MOA is 1" at 100 Yards or 0.5" at 50 yards or 2" at 200 yards. For tight groupings a smaller MOA is ideal, which is why I opted for Venom 3 MOA. Generally, anywhere from 1-6 MOA is what will be offered in popular reflex red dots. Red dot objective lens is usually not magnified, choosing the right MOA for a target distance is important. There are magnifiers for red dots, I had one on my Holographic red dot, it adds significant weight, and not a viable option for a light weight build. Venom is a "Parallax free" red dot. Parallax is an interesting phenomenon which I'm sure cheaper and knock off red dots are not immune from. I wrote a comprehensive review on a high end scope where I explained Parallax in detail. To sum up "parallax free", the operator can change their angle of view in relation to the red dot, while the reticle remains in the same position fixed on the target. If the reticle moves around as you change your angle of view, than the red dot is not "parallax free". Venom specifies directly on their website: "All red dot and holographic sights will exhibit some small amount of parallax. Matching current industry practice, this small amount would be considered “parallax free” and will make a negligible difference in the Venom's performance." This is important to note, given it is virtually impossible to be 100% "parallax free". High quality scopes have a parallax knob to help compensate for both linear and angular parallax at different distances. A red dot on the other hand is tuned to compensate for angular parallax with a fixed linear range. Outside the optimal range, linear parallax is present. Venom wide field lens is exceptional, unlike tubular style red dots, it is wider and therefore easier to mark the reticle on target. At the range, I jumped back and forth between a tubular red dot and this Venom red dot, it was much faster with the Venom to acquire the target in my opinion and experience. Since this is a non magnified red dot intended to be used with both eyes open, there is no concern about field of view, unlike a magnified scope or red dot. This brings up the next feature, unlimited eye relief, Venom can be mounted as close to the rail aft or away from the operator, depending on preference. Eye relief is directly related to the field of view, it is the distance between the eye and objective lens the operator can obtain the full viewing angle. Venom does not have a magnified lens, there is no concern with field of view or eye relief mounted anywhere on the AR15. Venom has 10 different levels of reticle brightness to choose from manually. There is also an option for auto adjustment which has its benefits and drawbacks. The auto adjust uses a light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness based on ambient lighting. This is beneficial on those long hunting trips or range sessions which start in the morning and end late in the evening. At the same token if you solely depend on the auto shut off feature you will be wasting battery if you don’t cover the red dot. Even with the cover on, it sets the reticle to the lowest brightness and shuts off after 14 hours. If there is an area for improvement, this is one in my opinion. It is a novel approach but not optimal for maximum battery savings. I prefer the manual option, perhaps a hybrid use of these options, using Auto while operating the weapon, than switching to Manual to force a complete shut down. At the lowest setting the battery is advertised to last 30,000 hours and 150 hours at the highest setting. The argument for auto adjust feature is the advertised 30,000 hour battery life. Changing the CR1632 battery is easy with a top load sealed door and simple flat head screw driver. Vortex provides all the necessary tools to service this red dot but if you are like me, I carry a multi-tool which contains a flat head screw driver and some torx/hex bits. I used this red dot at the range for a whole day on a lower brightness settings, I measured the battery voltage with my multi-meter before and after the session. The delta in voltage was in the hundredths, the 3V battery in the morning measured 3.251VDC, at the end of the day after ~12 hours it measured 3.250VDC. That is pretty remarkable since I didn’t turn it off the entire session. I’m less concerned if I forget to switch between auto adjust to manual mode to force a shut down. As expected from a quality red dot, Vortex Venom is rugged and waterproof. I contacted Vortex regarding the specifics of this red dot, they provided some nonproprietary feedback. The design and engineering of this red dot is from the USA, however, it is built and assembled in the Philippines. The housing is machined from high strength aluminum to host the electronics and lens. The composition of the Aluminum housing is proprietary. It is anodized with a matte black finish which resembles a standard black tone upper receiver. There are o-ring seals on all the buttons and battery door to keep water and dust out of the unit ensuring long mean time between failure. The lens itself is scratch resistant and has a hard coat of ArmorTek. I inquired about the details of ArmorTek and the response: “ArmorTek is our proprietary coating that protects from scratches, oil, dirt, and debris. I cannot divulge info on the chemical makeup or application of the coating.” Venom is designed to withstand shock and recoil from just about any hand gun, shotgun or rifle, making it a versatile option. The ranges I frequent are all outdoor so it is nice having this red dot completely sealed from the elements. I expect this red dot to last a long time. Zeroing in the Venom is no different than any other red dot or scope. There are both elevation and windage adjustment dials. I prefer digital buttons rather than mechanical dials similar to the brightness adjustment, but the dials are not too bad compared to other red dots. My high end Holographic sight dials are less than stellar in my opinion. The Venom dials on the other hand provide a light tactile feedback which is very helpful in keeping track of changes. I'm not a huge fan of the placement of these dials in red dots. By that I mean they are not very intuitive, although this more of a universal design with most, not all optics. Instinctively the elevation dial should go on the side, so you can rotate the dial Up or Down for elevation changes, on the Venom and other optics this is on top. This is due to the nature of mechanical design on optics and the location of reflective lenses which are used to control windage and elevation in relation to the housing. The light tactile dials of this red dot make it easy to help keep track of MOA adjustments, which is 130 MOA for max elevation and 100 MOA for max windage. Using the supplied tool and my multi-tool it took just a few elevation adjustments to get on target at 100 yards while windage adjustment was spot on out of the box. Overall I’m happy with the adjustment dials compared to my more expensive red dot. Unboxing the Venom, you will find a number of accessories and tools. There is a torx wrench to fasten the red dot to provided picatinny mount, also a spare screw which is rare for a manufacturer to offer. A double ended screw driver for opening the battery door and adjusting windage and elevation dials. There is also a micro fiber cloth for cleaning the objective lens and protective cover which fits the Venom like a glove. Venom comes with a low profile picatinny mount, if you want to co-witness to lower 1/3 of iron sights, Vortex offers a riser as an option and you can even mount this to a quick release mount from American defense if you don’t mind the added weight. For my setup the provided mount is slick light and perfect for what I’m trying to achieve. The mount has a single screw on one side which tightens a mobile bracket against the rail. The screw is big enough and easy to grab without any tools and hand tighten. I chose this Vortex Venom red dot due to the low profile and low weight design at 1.73oz with provided mount. Most importantly is the Vortex iron clad warranty. Vortex has an infamous generous warranty unlike most manufactures. What it means as an owner, if anything happens to the red dot regardless of how old it is, they will repair it or replace for free of equal or better physical condition. The unlimited lifetime warranty is hard to come by when it comes to anything containing electronics these days. Vortex not only offers a generous unlimited warranty, they also don't hold the warranty against the original owner of the product. It is fully transferrable and best of all, there is nothing to fill out. No warranty card to mail, or online registration forms to fill out. Don't have your receipt, not a problem, Vortex simplifies the whole process because they stand behind their products. This is the primary reason asides from the performance and light weight design, I believe the Vortex Venom is a great red dot and a clear winner for my setup. My intrigue why this red dot was produced prompted a question to Vortex. Their response: “The optic came from a huge demand for micro optics, and a very high number of options on the market for optics ready pistols. The competition market also pushes for these optics with the new PCC division and Carry Optics division in USPSA!” As I have said in my past reviews, I only review products I believe are worthwhile using on my own personal firearms. I do not have the time to review random products, by choosing this Vortex Venom micro red dot says a lot about the product itself for me consider reviewing. I don't endorse products I don't personally use and this is no exception. My only gripe is this is not built in the U.S., but as expected, most electronics are assembled overseas. If you are in the market for an affordable light weight micro red dot with an amazing lifetime warranty look no further. Youtube Video Link: https://youtu.be/EqzzBAzlmjY
  10. Good questions. In regard to weight savings, Steel’s density is 7.85 g/cm3, and titanium has 56% that of steel. Generally Titanium is about 45%-60% lighter than steel so depending on purity of the material, composition and tolerance the manufacturer produces the standard mil-spec components you can get a good idea of the weight savings. The weight of all these V7 Ti components is 1.71oz so 45-60% is 2.48-2.73oz. I did not stake the end plate to the castle nut on this particular rifle because of my application and I intend to take the rifle apart for inspection and maintenance, I did use medium strength loctite for this rifle. I suggest staking with proper tools if it is a duty/combat weapon. No assumptions, the information is readily available if you have access to the data. I can not post the confidential data sheets I have because of the NDA I've signed but I can direct you to some databases which provide some of the basic information about these two materials or you can call your local Metallurgist who is familiar with these materials and they will tell you the same. Here is a great link for S7 which posts tensile strength as well as Rockwell rating: http://www.matweb.com/search/datasheet.aspx?matguid=94107f89681048a0bed42af5a6027d96&ckck=1 This link is direct from Carpenter where they list tensile information however if you have access to the TDS you can get more detailed information: https://www.cartech.com/en/product-solutions/cartech-no.-158-alloy/ I suggest contacting V SEVEN although this information could very well be proprietary but in general the Rockwell rating I posted in the link is direct from TDS I have access to which is also confirmed by the link I posted above. Keep in mind Rockwell alone is not a reason to pick a material over another. V SEVEN decided to go with S7 for reasons I listed in the review mainly due to the higher tensile strength which their R&D department found through testing to be superior. Agree with the information Cheers
  11. Far from it, i don't post prices or links, nor do I work for any manufacturer I review products. I have been reviewing over a decade and I only review parts I use on my own personal weapons. These reviews are to inform people of the options and help educate at the same time. Cheers
  12. KyAR: Agree a great option to shave weight, the machining and finish on these parts are second to none. Hammurabi: Thanks for catching that, corrected. The Bolt catch is S7 Steel so far so good. Cheers
  13. Hi Glenn, Glad to hear the fit and finish is what you expected. I carry with me a multi tool that has different hex keys which works great for most of my guns and minimizes the total number of tools i need to carry. I believe it is a Gerber model which has the different allen key options and I actually bought my own specific size keys so I can carry just one tool. Here is a link below on Amazon to give you an idea of the multi-tool. https://www.amazon.com/Gerber-Center-Drive-Multi-Tool-Sheath-30-001194/dp/B01LX91NIU Cheers A.F.
  14. As part of my 2017 reviews, I'm going to discuss the V SEVEN Weapons System (V7) Titanium Lower parts components. Looking to save every ounce possible where it counts without sacrificing reliability and function, V SEVEN components are a must on a light weight build. Losing weight on an already reasonable weight carbine length rifle is not easy. Mechanically engineering a different design for the AR15 platform is not feasible without potentially running into problems. Changing out Mil-Spec components with a lighter alloy is the easiest option. Regardless of the industry, acquiring Titanium components always comes at a premium over standard alloys. Titanium (Ti) unlike steel and aluminum is considered an exotic precious alloy. Not because it is impossible to obtain, but relative to steel and aluminum which is a common element found in earth’s crust, it is far scarcer. When found, to extract Ti metal from Ti ore found in earth, it is costly due to the processing of using extreme temperatures to melt the ore. Titanium is much harder to work with than steel and aluminum to an extent. Machining, grinding and finishing titanium cost more than the common alloys found in the AR15 platform. What renders titanium such an attractive alloy is the low density, high strength, corrosion resistance and ability to withstand both high and low temperatures. Titanium is also inherently physiologically inert, so it is used in the medical industry for implants, prosthesis and other uses driving up the cost of Titanium. As an Engineer in the Defense industry, I have experience with applications where Ti is highly desired over any other alloy, even composites. This is not uncommon for cutting edge products in a R&D environment. V SEVEN uses Grade 5 wrought Titanium also referred to as Ti-6Al-4V. The Grade is the ASTM designation which is an international standard while Ti-XXX-XX is the industry name. This particular grade is the most common type of Titanium alloy used worldwide. Grade 5 Ti can be heat treated to increase its strength further. The Rockwell C hardness is ~33 and strength to weight ratio is ~250 kN-m/kg. V7 sources this material from USA suppliers only and all CNC and machine work is done in house. The different coatings are however sent out to an external vendor in the USA, which processes NP3 and IONBOND Black coating. I asked V7 if they recommend any type of sealer on the raw Titanium, the answer was none required given Titanium is 100% corrosion resistant. I sent V SEVEN some questions to better understand their products. One response stood out to me, I asked why V SEVEN was making all these Titanium components. Their response: "The need to update the AR-15 platform, do what no one else was willing to do (we've been in business for almost 4 years now selling lightweight & more corrosion resistant components, we've been the first to bring several new products to the market), the want to make something unique and high-quality for those that like top end products (people tell us we make race car parts for the AR-15), make lighter parts using modern materials WITHOUT COMPROMISING on quality and durability." Professionally working on cutting edge technology myself, and as a gear head who has built a race car, I can appreciate their response and relate. Building a high end AR15, like a race car with the latest and greatest technology does not come cheap, but the end result is a rewarding accomplishment. I will discuss each of the components individually and provide some information about the coating. V SEVEN TITANIUM TRIGGER/HAMMER PINS: These pins only come in IONBOND Black finish unlike some of the other components. This particular coating is smooth and slippery which helps not only protect the base Ti substrate, but allows for easier clean up if you choose this option on the different components they offer more susceptible to carbon fouling. IONBOND is used in many different industries including motor sports and Aerospace due to low friction and wear resistance. The IONBOND process is called physical vapor deposition, where ionized metal vapors react with gases to form a thin film. These pins are 100% corrosion resistant and only weigh 0.07oz. Unlike traditional standard Mil-Spec pins, these pins have a slight recessed dimple on the ends. It is aesthetically different and provides your punch tool a nice pocket to rest in during installation and removal, preventing possible slipping and marring of the lower receiver. They offer two different sizes to fit both .154” standard mil-spec triggers and .1555” for Geissele Triggers. I spoke to Joel, the owner of V SEVEN, great guy and very knowledgeable of his products and the industry. He told me the actual size of Geiselle pins is .1555” however most in the industry including myself reference the larger size pins as .155”, you learn something new every day! V SEVEN TITANIUM BUFFER RETAINER: The kit comes with a retainer spring and it is only available in a raw Ti finish. The spring is made of stainless steel which is also 100% corrosion resistant. The raw titanium finish is machine finished, it is not polished. It is so light weight, my scale could not register this retainer in ounces by itself until I added the spring. The fit is excellent as expected with such tight machine tolerances, and raw Ti finish pops against the standard anodized black lower receiver. The total weight of both combined is 0.05oz. V SEVEN Ti AR-15 PIVOT/TAKEDOWN PINS: These two pins are identical in dimensions compared to standard Mil-Spec pins, except they are exceptionally lighter at 0.28oz for the pair. Some operators have a difficult time with standard pins and opt for enhanced or longer pins. This is subjective and purely personal, I have no problems at all with the standard length pins. Rather than go for an enhanced version which only adds weight, even if it is only marginally heavier, I prefer the cleaner flush look of these standard design pins which are extremely light weight. These pins do not hinder any other controls because they are low profile. The smooth raw Ti finish and exceptional fit of these machined pins in my lower receiver slide in and out with any snags or problems. The pins come in both the raw Ti finish as well as IONBOND Black. I’ve had experience with out of spec pins and receivers, I tried these pins on multiple lower receiver sets and it performed great. V7 also offers an Easy Pull set, which is enhanced to give those operators who have a hard time with standard pins some additional leverage and grip. The complete install kit comes with stainless steel springs and detent as an option. They also offer an aluminum variant at a lower price for both 308 DPMS/AR10 variants. V SEVEN TITANIUM CASTLE NUT: Made from Grade 5 Ti, this castle nut is light compared to the standard Mil-Spec nut weighting 0.35oz. I suggest using an anti-seize lubricant when working with threaded Titanium components. Anti-seize is a grease with flakes or metal powder which comes in copper, nickel and aluminum. For my intended application, copper is more than sufficient given the operating temperatures, and it is easy to find at your local auto or hardware store. Anti-seize prevents corrosion between two different metals. Given most AR15 receivers are made of aluminum, it is important to use some type of lube. Another phenomenon with Titanium is galling, which occurs as a result of over torqueing, and not using a good lubricant to prevent Titanium from fusing and reshape itself unexpectedly. Lastly, it provides an additional layer of corrosion resistance so use anti-seize when installing this castle nut. I use Permatex 09128 copper anti-seize lubricant, I use this in my cars and motorcycles with Ti components. V7 designed this castle nut with two options for fastening, using a multi-point lock nut tool, or hook wrench to attach to the single hole drilled in this castle nut. The machining on this product is very detailed as you can see by the small details. There are three different dimples on this nut for staking the end plate against the castle nut for added insurance. V7 created this product with the intention it will be used for duty and combat, adding these dimples which most castle not do not provide is a prime example. The ability to use a standard armorers wrench or spanner wrench is another great feature which sets this light weight castle nut apart, giving the operator an ability to use multiple tools. The fit is excellent and threads are clean given this is machined and not cast. This Ti castle nut comes in both raw and IONBOND Black finish to suit the color scheme of your build. They offer a cheaper aluminum variant which is also lighter than the standard steel castle nut. V SEVEN TITANIUM QD ENDPLATE: Pair this light weight Ti end plate up with the V7 Ti castle nut for maximum weight saving. Comes in both IONBOND Black finish and a “Dark” raw titanium finish. I must admit even though the “Dark” finish is listed as an option on the V SEVEN website, it is not any darker than the raw Ti castle nut finish. I’m not predisposed to any eye problems as far as I’m aware of so it is hard for me to say consciously this is a “Dark” finish. It could possibly be considered a shade darker by some, but not without close inspection can you tell any difference in my honest opinion. The design is simple and effective. Personally I'm not a fan of some of the other sling end plate designs which have attachment points sticking out that can get caught on your gear. V7 end plate is not rotation limited, a standard sling swivel spins freely, rotation limited only by the ring hitting the buffer tube. I personally modified and made my own QD narrow angled slim ring which allows free 360 rotation which works great with this end plate. V7 end plate is a simple intuitive design which works well with any QD snap ring. V7 attention to detail on this end plate shines near the bottom of the end plate which is machined with a slight 45 degree bevel for a smooth rounded finish. These minor details make a difference when you consider the quality and forethought given to this common component. Fit is perfect and install is only slightly more difficult if you don’t reverse the final turn of buffer tube. This end plate weights 0.28oz. They also offer a cheaper aluminum variant like the aluminum castle nut. V SEVEN ULTRA LIGHT S7 BOLT CATCH: I received the NP3 silver variant which matches another NP3 component in my lightweight build. The picture on the V7 website displays a very light silver colored NP3 bolt catch. If you compare them to my pictures, it is actually a shade darker more closely resembling the the raw Ti finish of other V7 products. I reviewed another component with NP3 coating prior, this coating is very slick and catching on in the firearms industry. NP3 contains PTFE, known as Teflon, which is very slick and has self-lubricating properties. NP3 has a very low coefficient of friction, with a very smooth surface less susceptible to attracting carbon fouling due to low ridges. NP3 coating process is Electorless nickel plating, which is not cheap, and why NP3 coated components come at a premium. While the bolt catch is susceptible to some carbon fouling on the top side, NP3 coating is just an optimal solution to prevent corrosion on steel. I questioned V7 why they did not manufacture a Titanium bolt catch, the response: "Because in our R & D testing, we did not find Titanium to be a suitable material for a bolt catch. They didn't meet our requirements of durability long term." I can appreciate there is an R&D department testing these components prior to reach the consumer to ensure it meets all specifications and is safe to use. S7 is a tool steel made by Carpenter Technologies, which also produces Mil-Spec C158 steel. It has very high impact toughness and shock resistance with medium wear resistance. It can be air or oil quenched exhibiting minimal distortion on hardening. It has Rockewell C of ~57-61 depending on heat treatment. It also resists softening at high temperatures. S7 has a tensile strength much higher than Carpenter 158 steel making it a superior alternative. V SEVEN told me they also make a bolt catch made from 8620 steel, which is slightly inferior to C158 steel in terms of strength. Keep in mind there are a lot of factors which determine the quality of not only the material, but methods which parts are manufactured, all depends on the execution and application. While I would have liked to put a matching Titanium bolt catch to reduce weight further, I fully accept reliability is far more important and takes precedence, so the appropriate choice is steel as V SEVEN has chosen. It is a known fact Titanium does not take impact well compared to steel, the Rockwell C rating is a good indicator why steel is selected for this component. What concerns me is there is a different manufacturer selling a Titanium bolt catch. It begs to wonder if they have done any R&D or testing to ensure the benefits of Ti outweigh reliability and safety. That being said, it is good to know V SEVEN does not put out a product just because they can CNC it and they value what they provide to the mass market. As with all of these V SEVEN parts, the fit is spot on without any issues, the supplied kit includes a roll pin, detent and spring which all fit and function without a hitch. The bolt catch weights 0.32oz and it comes in both NP3 Silver finish as well as IONBOND Black. V SEVEN TITANIUM PISTOL GRIP SCREW: Another way to shave some ounces is by using a Titanium grip screw. Sure the savings is minimal, but in the grand scheme it adds up, and again this is a niche product. It is constructed of the same Grade 5 Ti used on other V7 components. Similar to the castle nut make sure proper anti-seize lubricant is used since most receivers are made of aluminum. The screw is a button head style screw which is highly polished with clean machined threads. The thread pitch is standard 1/4-28 with overall length of 0.75”. It only comes in a “raw” Ti finish but unlike the other “raw” Ti components this screw is actually highly machine polished so it shines compared to other “raw” V7 parts. I used the same Permatex copper anti-seize on this grip screw and it screwed into the lower receiver as expected without any fit issues. This grip screw weights 0.11oz. V SEVEN Ti MAG CATCH/RELEASE: V7 offers two different button styles with a diamond pattern or lines. I opted for the diamond pattern which matches the V7 bolt catch. They offer raw Ti or IONBOND Black as a finish. Similar to the bolt catch they sell these as a complete kit or you can purchase just the button only if you like. Unlike most release lever/rod which are forged or cast as one piece, you can see this is a two piece design as each component was individually CNC than combined. The button edge is nicely beveled off which shows the attention to detail. Similarly on the lever itself, you see the detail put into the recessed concave carve out to lighten and aesthetically change the overall weight and finish of this simple component. They also went as far as concealing the rod location on the back side of the lever which shows the level of detail to hide any lazy finish which I’ve seen on many levers with rod hole present. It fit my Mil-Spec lower as expected along with the install kit which provided the spring. It weights only 0.25oz. I consider all these V SEVEN Ti components a niche product for the operator looking to take advantage at every opportunity to save weight. Yes it does come at a premium, no one is obligated to buy them, but at the very least you are informed and now aware of the options available. V SEVEN offers a Lifetime Warranty on all these components, the same can't be said with most manufacturers selling these components. The finish is top notch, no tooling marks of any kind or inconsistency in the finish. These Ti components have been engineered to meet and surpass Mil-Spec standards and they are all made in the USA. V SEVEN has lots of other projects in the works, I asked them about future products and they said they are only 21% through a long list of projects. V SEVEN is a family owned business, Joel and family purchase only Domestic materials and manufacture everything in house. This gives them great quality control ability and personally I’m thrilled to support V SEVEN knowing it is a USA based family company. You can be sure if you are looking for cutting the edge in weight savings, V SEVEN has more to offer in the future. If weight savings is an important factor, consider V SEVEN Titanium as the go to option. Youtube Video link: https://youtu.be/XdoAG_aIGys
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