Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s How times have changed… Growing up in rural Idaho meant that every sixth-grade student completed the Idaho Hunter Education course during the school year. On school time…in school classrooms. And ever since I grabbed a catalog during the Hunter Ed class that featured a Marlin 336CS on the cover…I had to have one. Lever Guns (T to B): Winchester 94 in 45 Colt, Henry 22LR, Winchester 94 Carbine 30-30, Savage 99 in 300 Savage, Winchester 94 Trapper 30-30, Marlin 30AS 30-30 Though they aren’t made anymore…I still have 5 lever guns of my own that I use to hunt and shoot. Across a variety of calibers… L to R – 22 LR, 45 Colt, 30-30 Win, 300 Savage, 45-70 Government Want to start your own lever gun collection? Read on and you’ll know which guns and calibers are the best for you. Table of Contents Loading... America’s Lever Action Gun Love Affair This love affair began way back in 1848 when the Volition Repeating Rifle was the first lever gun to receive a patent. That venture failed in 1852 with only a few rifles produced. Enter Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. They bought the patent and with help from several investors created the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855. One of the investors was Oliver Winchester . The Volcanic Rifle did not gain much traction either. Smith and Wesson moved on to develop their revolvers and Oliver Winchester bought out the remaining investors and renamed the company New Haven Arms Company. They Never Thought This Would Be The Future He brought on a man by the name of Benjamin Tyler Henry to rework the Volcanic Rifle design. Today we recognize the Henry Rifle as the result of that design work. The Henry Rifle was introduced in 1860 and saw action during the Civil War. For those in the south it was better known as “that damn Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week”. Henry Rifle in 44-40 At the end of the war, the New "Haven Arms Company" was renamed the Winchester "Repeating Arms Company" and a new and improved model of the Henry, the 1866 Winchester was rolled out. In 1873 the “gun that won the west” the 1873 Winchester made its entrance followed by the 1876 Winchester three years later. John Moses Browning began his work at Winchester in 1883. Because of his work and designs Winchester and lever action became one in the same. His most famous design, 1894 continues to this day. The 1894 was first chambered in the 32-40 and 38-55 black powder cartridges. 38-55 Blackpowder Cartridge Then in 1895, the 30 Winchester Centerfire became the first smokeless powder cartridge in America. You know it today as the 30-30 Winchester. It is estimated that more than 7.5 million Model 1894’s have been produced. When you watch classic westerns if you pay attention you’ll see a lot of Winchester Model 1894’s and a few 1873’s. But go back in time and tune in to the Big Valley and you’ll notice all those boys in the Barkley family are toting Marlins. The side-ejection Marlin is known for is clearly visible in the show when the inevitable shoot-out goes down. John Marlin rolled out two lever action designs in the late 1890’s. The Model 39 was a rimfire design and has been in constant production for over 120 years. Today you will find the 39A still available from the Marlin Custom Shop. The Model 36 had several upgrades and modifications over the years and in 1950’s became the 336. As mentioned earlier the big difference in Marlin and Winchester lever guns is the ejection. In the early Winchesters, the spent case was ejected straight up as the action opened. Top to Bottom Winchester 94 Top Eject, Winchester 94 Angle Eject, Marlin 30AS Side Eject This made mounting optical sights impractical until Angle Eject was introduced in the 1980’s. The Marlin rifles have a solid-top receiver and eject spent cases out the side. So those that wanted to mount a scope had a solid base to work with and no empties banging the bottom of the scope every time the lever was worked. Marlin…side ejection and solid top receiver Savage went a different direction entirely with its Model 99 introduced in 1899. Rather than a tubular magazine, the Savage rifle has a top-loaded rotary magazine. The action is very streamlined and lends itself well to mounting optics or peep-sights. Savage Model 99 in 300 Savage with Weaver K4 Scope There is no hammer, so the lock time is a bit faster than the Winchesters and Marlins. And, because there is no tubular magazine, the Savage easily handles cartridges that excel with spitzer-type bullets such as the 250-3000 Savage (the first commercial cartridge to break the 3000fps barrier) and the 300 Savage. As American and traditional as the lever action rifle is, there is a bit of an interesting twist concerning the Winchester Model 1895 . At the beginning of World War I, Russia had a problem. They had the biggest standing Army on the planet, but about a third of their soldiers had no rifles. At the time the United States was a neutral country and Russia went to Winchester and ordered 300,000 musket versions of the Model 1895 chambered in 7.62x54mmR and complete with bayonet lugs. The rifles were also modified to be loaded with what we call stripper clips today. Winchester 1895 Russian Musket If you are an avid reader of safari lore you will recognize the Model 1895 in 405 Winchester as Teddy Roosevelt’s “’medicine gun’ for lions” . Lever Actions Today With all the plastic fantastics and AR-15’s and AR-10’s one might think there is no place for old-fashioned lever guns today. But consider this, the lever action rifle was really the first pistol caliber carbine. Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt – Original Pistol Caliber Carbine Back when ranch hands always had a revolver strapped on in the classic 44-40 cartridge many times there was a rifle in a saddle scabbard loaded up with the same ammo. And lest you think a lever gun is slow, take a look at this video with a well-practiced cowboy action shooter and his lever gun. Obviously, the lever gun is right at home in the hunting fields. Millions of deer have been harvested by the 30-30 in every brand of lever gun. Not to mention black bears, elk, hogs and small game. With modern bullets, modern powder and modern actions, a lever gun is a useful tool in any hunting situation. Especially if you start looking at big bores like the 45-70 and 450 Marlin. The sleek Browning Lever-action Rifles are chambered in .308 Winchester and .243. Custom builders like Wild West Guns will supply you with a take-down lever gun built on a Marlin action in the .475 WWG ( "Wild West Guns" ) cartridge. How about as a defensive tool? Maybe you live in one of the not so gun friendly states that don’t allow dangerous things like removable magazines or pistol grips. Grab yourself a lever gun in .38 Special/.357 Magnum and you now have 10 rounds of stopping power in a very light, very fast platform. If the 38 calibers are not to your liking you can step up to .44 Magnum or .45 Colt and make a lot of big holes very quickly. 4 Best Lever Rifles Today I have a wrinkled old yellow notepad with the words “Guns I Still Need” scribbled across the top. On that list are probably 30 or so guns that at the time I thought would be just right to keep a gun nut and shooter happy. One of those with a check mark next to it is a Model 99 300 Savage. Another is a Model 99 250-3000 Savage – Take Down…that one does not have a check mark…yet. The rifles below should get you well on the way to a fine collection of lever guns. 1. Henry Rifle If you want a smooth as silk action in an American made rifle you need to treat yourself to a Henry. Whether you choose a svelte little 22 Long Rifle or a centerfire cartridge you cannot go wrong investing in a Henry lever gun. Side-eject, magazine tube loading port and no lawyer inspired safety mechanism mean you are getting a good old-fashioned lever gun the way "Benjamin Tyler Henry" intended. Take a look at the new .410 shotgun if you want to change up your rabbit hunting or upland bird hunting a bit. Best Range Toy Shotgun Henry Lever Action .410 Shotgun 799 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 799 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing If you want to bling up the gun safe, a Henry Golden Boy .22 is just the thing. Henry Golden Boy I like classic blued steel and walnut so my choice would be the Color Case Hardened 45-70 . Big bore power in a very traditional rifle. But Henry has dozens of options to choose from so they are sure to have a lever gun to meet your idea of the perfect rifle. What’s your take on Henry Rifles? Readers' Ratings 4.81/5 (708) Your Rating? 2. Marlin 336SS The 336 Stainless is chambered in .30-30 Winchester. With a brushed stainless finish and handsome checkered walnut, this rifle would be right at home sneaking through thick whitetail timber or waiting for an elk at a wallow. Marlin Model 336SS 770 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 770 at Cabelas Compare prices (2 found) Cabelas (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing With 6 rounds in the tubular magazine, you’ll be prepared for a great day in the field. If the open sights leave your aging eyes straining a bit, you can easily mount the optic of your choice on the solid top receiver. Marlin also makes the 336 in a standard Blued finish, if stainless steel isn’t your thing! Best Entry Level Lever-Action Marlin 336 550 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 550 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing 3. Winchester Model 1894 The Model 94 is a classic everyone should own. At least in my humble opinion. Chambered in 30-30 Winchester with open sights, walnut stock and richly blued steel you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time a bit when you pull this rifle out of the safe and head to the range. Best Lever Action Rifle Winchester Model 94 Carbine 1200 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 1200 at Cabelas Compare prices (2 found) Cabelas (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing New production rifles will be a bit different than the originals but they are very nice. You will find a tang safety, Angle-Eject and the receiver is drilled and tapped for mounting optics. But it’s still a Winchester lever action rifle. 4. Marlin 1895 Custom Shop 45-70 There are lots of 45-70’s available and it’s one of the classic cartridges on my list. Marlin started a trend years ago when they rolled out the Guide Guns. These were short barreled, ported, peep-sighted guns for guides to backup clients taking on big bears or other toothy critters. "Marlin 1895 Custom" , MSRP $2,000 Though Marlin offers several Guide-type guns today, the Custom Shop rifles really catch my eye. With a choice of Cerakote colors to choose from, slicked up actions, ghost ring sights, and a tube full of 45-70 cartridges, what’s not to like? We now have a full hands-on review of the new Dark Series vs Original 1895s . A little side-by-side look at an older Marlin Model 1895 in .45-70 Gov’t and the new Dark Series version. Final Thoughts Lever guns are an institution in America. They are a part of who we are and have played a major role in the development of the firearms we enjoy today. Top to Bottom Winchester 94 in 45 Colt, Henry 22LR, Winchester 94 Carbine 30-30, Savage 99 in 300 Savage, Winchester 94 Trapper 30-30, Marlin 30AS 30-30 Maybe you never thought a lever gun was really your thing. Fast semi-autos and long-reaching bolt guns have their place. But iron-sighted lever gun forces you to slow down, get close, and really engage in the hunt or at the range. If you’re looking to modernize your rifle, a great optic is the best way! We’re fans of low magnification scopes, like a 1-6x Scope . Bunch of 1-6x Scopes Channel your inner pioneer and put a couple of classics on your own ‘need to buy’ list and let us know in the comments! Then check out our Editor’s Picks for more of our favorite guns and gear or Best Rifle Scopes for your perfect glass.
Advertisment Looking for an affordable 9mm handgun? I was too, and my search took me down a rabbit hole of buying, borrowing, and otherwise testing every cheap 9mm I could get my hands one. There are…a lot. All Weekly Gun Deals in ONE Click! Up to 40% Off! Guns.com I tested almost 30 guns for this article. Long hours at the range , shooting free ammo and saving the receipts to write off on my taxes. The horror. Of course, it wasn’t all roses, I did have some serious consideration to give to an awful lot of guns. Some of the most popular firearms on the planet are 9mm handguns . It seems like just about every gun owner has one, and it feels like no gun collection is complete without one. And one of the best things about them is how cheap they are to buy, and how cheap they are to shoot. If you’re looking for an affordable 9mm, this list should give you the best options for picking one up that’s not only cheap, but reliable, accurate, and pleasant to shoot. Let’s talk about why these guns are so good. Contents Cheap But Not Cheaply Made 1. Glock/M&P Police Trade In 2. Ruger Security-9 3. Ruger EC9s 4. Canik TP9SFx 5. Taurus G2C 6. IWI Masada Parting Shots… All Weekly Gun Deals in ONE Click! Up to 40% Off! Guns.com Cheap But "Not Cheaply Made" At the risk of sounding like an old man, back in my day, cheap guns were just bad. I grew up hearing anything under $300 called “a Saturday night special” and if you wanted something guaranteed to be reliable, you were spending $550 at least . These days, with all the new-fangled manufacturing and 3D-aided design, gun prices have fallen through the floor (there are some political and other reasons for that too of course). The good news is that this means there are a variety of reliable and affordable 9mm firearms available for prices that would have been laughable ten years or so ago. 9mm Pistol Design Advances in CNC machining, metal injection molding, and even the old-school casting of parts like we’re making cannons to fight the Redcoats have all greatly increased the speed and ease with which companies can make these parts, which helps bring prices down as well. Also, ask any machinist about how much easier it is to achieve high levels of precision in both design and the actual machining of parts versus two decades ago. Ask them how much lost material they have to deal with, and how many unsalvageable parts. Personally, I can tell you it’s an awfully exciting time to be a machinist. All of this translates into better guns at all price ranges, with some really insanely good high-end guns that not only cost but are actually worth several thousand dollars, and some equally impressive (for the price) guns in the lower price brackets as well. Some of the most reliable guns I’ve tested this year have been some of the cheapest, which…has been a huge surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Convinced? Let’s look at some of the best options for those looking for an affordable 9mm handgun that won’t break the bank. 1. Glock/M&P Police Trade In This first entry is kind of a cop out (get it) but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend anyone looking for a high-quality handgun to check out police trade-ins and auctions. Police sidearms are carried a lot, and holstered and un-holstered frequently, so they get a lot of finish wear, but they aren’t actually fired nearly as much as you’d think. This means they don’t command a huge price on the secondary market but are still internally relatively free of wear and tear. Police Officer with his 9mm handgun I’ve seen relatively new Glocks and M&P’s, both phenomenally reliable and robust guns, on the used market for about 30% less than guns with a lot more rounds down the barrel, simply because of the holster wear making the gun look beat up. The reality is, these guns can keep on trucking for years and thousands of rounds, even though there might be a little bit of the finish worn off. On a budget gun that’s meant to be used, that’s not a big deal. I’d say finish wear and scratches aren’t a big deal in any case unless we’re talking about a truly unique piece like an antique or something with either commemorative or sentimental value. A little finish wear never hurt anybody, is all I’m saying. What, are you afraid people will think you actually use your guns? This makes the police trade-in market an excellent resource for anyone looking to pick up an affordable 9mm handgun (the most common police sidearm) on the cheap. Best of all, parts for these guns are also plentiful and cheap, so you can upgrade or replace anything you want, and still save hundreds of dollars. 2. Ruger Security-9 Anyone familiar with Ruger is probably not surprised to see that they have not one, but two entries on this list. The Security-9 is one of their newest budget-friendly options, and it has already gathered a loyal following. Ruger Security 9 I actually own one myself, bought and paid for with my own money, and it’s one of my favorite handguns in this price range. It’s a 15+1 capacity gun sized in the same general spec as the Glock 19, and like Gaston’s Greatest Hit, it’s aimed at the defensive and carry markets. Design-wise, it’s basically a scaled-up version of Ruger’s incredibly popular (and reliable) LCP II . It features a safety blade inset in the trigger, three-dot sights, and a glass-filled nylon frame. The trigger is actually very good, and frankly much better than. I expected it to be. It’s a little spongy, and the reset is a bit long, but we’re talking budget pistols here, not high-end competition guns. In that light, the Security-9 deserves high praise indeed. With a street price of $300 for a gun that has been just as reliable as my Glocks and CZs, I think the Security-9 is one of the best defensive guns to come out in the past few years. I have just over 1200 rounds through mine, and I’ve tested it with a variety of self-defense ammo , and in all that shooting, I’ve only grown more confident in my ability to defend life and liberty with this affordable 9mm. 3. Ruger EC9s Ruger EC9s 9mm Pistol, Credits to PSA If you’re a Ruger fan, but you’re looking for something cheaper or smaller, the Ruger EC9s may be just the ticket. The EC9s is a budget version of Ruger’s immensely popular LC9s, which could also have gone on this list, but I really didn’t want to make this a list of all Ruger products, though I probably could have. Like the LC9s, the LCP II, and the Security-9, the EC9s uses a glass-filled nylon frame with a steel slide, and it has the same safety-bladed trigger. This super budget-friendly model is designed to compete with other similarly-priced subcompact 9mms like the SCCY CPX1 and CPX2 . It has a 7+1 capacity, a surprisingly shootable trigger, and a 3.12” barrel. It’s also available in about a dozen colors, so you can accessorize however you like with them. Maybe get a different color for each day of the week, or to match your favorite shirt. To save costs, Ruger has put in some simple milled sights which are…fine. Not great, but for a street price of about $220, they’re fine. This is a “get off me” gun, a subcompact 9mm, not a target-grade competition gun . We’re out to put holes in a guy coming at us with a knife, not snipe a bank robber from two blocks away. For defensive uses, the sights work fine, and I was able to be combat accurate with them out to 25 yards. Trying to hit steel at 50 yards was fun, and I managed a few hits out of every mag, but not really repeatable. Of course, it’s also not really the point. The point is to have a small, pocketable, affordable 9mm that you can easily put in the glovebox or drop in a pants pocket and have ready in case you need to defend yourself. For those purposes, the EC9s is more than adequate and is a great choice for anyone looking for a subcompact 9mm that won’t really dent their checking account balance. 4. Canik TP9SFx Canik 9mm Pistol Canik has been one of the most popular budget-friendly competition pistol brands for a while now, and just about every sub-$500 handgun I see at USPSA matches is invariably a Canik. And those shooters don’t do badly at all. Well, if they do it isn’t the gun’s fault. My philosophy for competition guns is that you should have a gun that shoots better than you do. That’s not meant to be some mystical Gun-Fu stuff, that just means you should have a gun that isn’t going to hold you back, and that leaves you room to improve. If you’re on a budget, that can be difficult. Fortunately, Canik is there to help you. The entire TP9 series, but especially the SFx, is built around the idea of affordable performance, and they really do live up to the hype. Which makes sense as the TP9 series is basically a clone of the Walther PPQ, a much more expensive gun. The PPQ is certainly nicer, but if you’re ballin on a budget, the TP9 is a more than acceptable substitute. The TP9SFx, in particular, is a close approximation of the PPQ Q5 Match . It comes with a lightened slide, fiber-optic sights, two 20-round mags, a match-grade barrel, a pretty excellent trigger, a tennifer (Glock-style) finish, and it’s already milled for an optic in case you want to shoot Carry Optics or build a home defense gun. The SFx and the PPQ it’s based on are both hefty, and while they aren’t something you’ll want to carry, they’ll both do great in a home defense role as well. Of course, the SFx is absolutely reliable with defensive ammo, and the only problems I’ve had were with some suuuuuper light competition loads that were loaded specifically for minimal recoil. These issues started showing up after I threw a Trijicon RMR on the slide, which increased the weight and generally made those light loads cycle less reliably. Switching to some minor power factor loads, I had no problems, and I don’t think you will either. If you’re looking to get into competition shooting on a budget or just any affordable 9mm, this is the one to get. I absolutely love that Canik has brought this thing to market for around $400 (though Walther probably hates it). 5. Taurus G2C I know what you’re thinking. “A Taurus? Really?” Taurus G2C 9mm But before you leave, I need you to understand that I get it. I do. I was extremely hesitant to even consider a Taurus for this list, even one I didn’t have to shell out my own money for. But, my local range owner and buddy Darren basically insisted that I try one when I told him what I was working on, and he’s the only person I know (other than some pro shooters and special forces folks) who shoots more than me, so I had to at least try the damn thing. And I’m glad I did. I don’t know what black magic/voodoo/corporate espionage Taurus has done to obtain the G2C and G2S designs, but both of these guns just…work. Despite only costing a few hundred dollars, and despite carrying the Taurus name, they really do shoot well, and reliably. They look nice too, which is always up in the air with Taurus, as the Brazilian gunmaker seems to have an eclectic design sensibility, to say the least. These look nice, with clean lines and they aren’t overly Hi-Point-esque which is always good. The G2C is the compact version, and the G2S is the subcompact version. The compact has a 12+1 capacity, and the subcompact has a 7+1 capacity. Both have a short 3.25” barrel so they’re easy to conceal if you’re looking for a carry gun. They both have a manual safety which I don’t love for a CCW, but it’s something I can get over, and I know some people like them. The trigger isn’t the best, but it’s good enough for combat-accurate shooting. Overall, I’d say if you’re on an extreme budget, this is the option to go with. I frequently see these things on sale for $180+ shipping or less. 6. IWI Masada Masada 9mm Pistol If you haven’t heard of the Israeli Weapon Industries Masada, don’t worry. This is a new gun for 2019, but boy oh boy, has it already impressed a lot of people. It’s a Glock 19-esque form factor gun but honestly…I prefer it over my G19. If you’ve read anything else of mine, you know I have carried a Glock 19 for almost half a decade now, so when I say that I like the Masada more. The trigger is better, though it does have a long reset. The grip is better. The gun is just as accurate and reliable, and it’s ready for a red dot out of the box. It has a super low bore axis making it a very controllable, soft-shooting gun, and the gun is sized perfectly for both duty or carry use. Oh, and the damn thing is only $400, definitely an affordable 9mm handgun. I’ve seen it as low as $345 on sale. It almost sounds too good to be true, and that’s definitely what I thought at first. IWI doesn’t make anything that doesn’t run and run and run forever, but I still wanted to test it out. So that’s what I did. 1400 rounds later, I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Don’t get me wrong, I expected this gun to be good, and reliable. I did not expect it to blow guns that cost twice as much out of the water. I have not cleaned this gun. Other than an out-of-the-box wipedown and oiling, I have not done anything to maintain this gun. I have dropped this gun in sand (on purpose). I have fed this gun every possible type of ammo I can get my hands on, from the cheapest steel-cased ammo to some expensive Sci-fi injection-molded space bullets to the most popular carry and defensive ammo. I have had precisely zero malfunctions. This gun is filthy. This gun has been abused. This gun has already given me more than my money’s worth. And it’s still running just as well as it was the first time I shot it. I haven’t quite put it into my carry rotation yet, but this might be the one that knocks the Glock 19 off its pedestal, for me at least. And for $400, I have absolutely been floored by the damn thing. Parting Shots… Modern firearms don’t have to be expensive to be reliable, high-quality tools. There are a number of great and affordable 9mm handguns out there that won’t break the bank, but these are the best of the best. These guns are all reliable and are some of the best values for your hard-earned dollars in the firearms industry. I have shot them all extensively, and I have a special place in my heart and my gun safe for each of them. Except the Masada. I’m still carrying that one…it doesn’t ever go in the safe.
As some of you may know, but for those of you who do not, SHOT Show 2014 is my first SHOT Show. Around this time of year, I am typically at home watching and reading content from SHOT and wishing I was there. Well, this year I have the privilege of being here in person and experiencing it first hand. Here are some of the highlights of my first day here at Shot Show 2014. The People Mr. Colion Noir and I at SHOT Show 2014. Rounding the corner at entrance of the convention center is where I saw the moving wave of people for the first time. The only word that came to mind when I saw this was, “Whoa.” Even in this massive hallway, I was only witnessing a small fraction of how many people I knew were actually going to be attending SHOT Show and it still looked like waves in an ocean. Richard Ryan (RatedRR) and I. He is a nice guy and was fun to talk with. Once I made my way through the ocean of people to the SHOT Show press area, I started seeing people that I had only previously seen online in videos or pictures. This list included people such as: Mr. Colion Noir , Tim from the Military Arms Channel , TheHossUSMC , Richard Ryan from RatedRR and Eric with the Moss Pawn crew from Iraqveteran8888 . Personally speaking, it was really neat to see these people in person and shake their hands. The Buzz Some may know him as Jeff but I have always known him as Cutlerylover. “Buzzing” is the only term I can think of to describe the atmosphere here. It is similar to being at a busy restaurant on a Friday night but multiplying the ambient chatter and laughter by about a factor of 100. Working in the press area while constantly overhearing conversations about a hot new item or who should buy what and why, makes me feel as though I’m part of a large press machine. Just about everyone in the press room looks almost robotic while typing away, sporting reflections from their glowing laptop screens. Yes, I’m also in the huge array of media robots because I definitely have a glowing face right now as I type this. TheHossUSMC and I in the SHOT Show press room. What’s Next? As far as tomorrow goes, I am just happy that I will have an easier time navigating through the vast acreage that is SHOT Show. I have only experienced a small portion so far but my first day of SHOT Show was about getting my bearings straight, meeting new people and getting ready for what is in store for me during the rest of week. I will continue this SHOT Show 2014 Experience series of articles, among others, throughout the rest of the week. Stay tuned.
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s What’s better…an AR-15 pistol or an AR-15 SBR? A common question discussed at length in gun stores, ranges, and forums the nation over. Wilson Combat AR9 SBR Everyone seems to have an opinion on the topic, and many people are looking for the answer. The correct answer, like with so many other topics is, “ It depends ” and you’ll just have to decide for yourself in the end what is best for you . Disclaimer: While some of the information provided here is legal in nature, it is not to be construed as legal advice, and is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Size Matters Before we can address the pros and cons of a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), first we have to define one. An SBR is a rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches or a rifle with a barrel of 16 inches or longer but an overall length of fewer than 26 inches. Pistols, on the other hand, are firearms designed to be gripped by one hand. Pistols can have any length barrel, though most commonly they will have shorter barrels ranging from 3 to 12 inches. While pistols cannot have a “stock” they can have a brace such as an arm brace, a stabilizing brace, or in some cases just a buffer tube with some padding or foam on the end. We cover all of them in Best AR-15 Braces . Best AR-15 & AK Pistol Braces SBA3 Pistol Brace 135 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 135 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing These are designed to be shot without shouldering the gun… Devil is in the Details At this point, you might be asking yourself why the buttstock versus brace is a big deal? To some, it isn’t – but for others, it is the difference between crunchy or smooth peanut butter. This is one area that is simply preference. There are other factors that need to be considered though. On pistols, you cannot have vertical fore-grips . This is probably one of the things that I see most overlooked at the range when I talk to guys shooting. They have a nice looking pistol build, can shoot it, but then have a vertical grip on it that makes it illegal. Angled grips are allowed on pistols, though I have talked to people who were told by the ATF they were on thin ice due to the angle. SBRs, on the other hand, can use whatever grips you like. Do you really like that sweet bipod fore-grip? Knock yourself out. Want something more angled? Not a problem, the world is your oyster in this regard. Big Brother is Watching One of the main arguments against SBRs that I see time and again is the amount of involvement with the federal government. Whether or not the National Firearms Act is an infringement on the Constitution is a debate that will rage on longer than my lifetime I’m sure, but for the time being, if you want to stay in the legal realm, you have to comply with it. That means that in order to make an SBR, you have to register it with the ATF and pay your $200 for the tax stamp. It doesn’t end there though. If you have an SBR and need to take it out of the state you manufactured it in, you have to ask for permission first . ATF, circa 3rd Age (probably) The ATF Form 20 has to be filled out and sent in for approval before you can legally transport your SBR to another state (assuming SBRS are legal there). There is a silver lining though, you can fill them out well ahead of time. Thankfully, the Form 20s can be submitted for a year’s worth of travel at a time so that you don’t have to do one every few weeks if you go to the same destination over and over. Pistols don’t require the Form 20 permission, which is a huge draw for some people. Throw your gun in the car, make sure you are adhering to the laws of the states you are traveling in, and put some miles on the road. ATF, circa 2139 (probably) That brings me to my next point, knowing the law can save you a ton of headaches. Check Local Listings for Details Each state is going to have a different stance on SBRs and pistol builds. After working and socializing with a ton of law enforcement officers, I can tell you that many of them simply do not know a ton about the differences between SBRs and pistol builds. Others still aren’t super informed on tax stamp laws, so your best bet is to make sure you know them well enough to explain. I am by no means bashing law enforcement officers, they simply have more pressing things to make sure they know. If you aren’t sure about the laws of a particular state, class3laws.com is a good site to start with, as it typically is updated regularly. It is worth noting that as state laws vary, not all states will allow pistol builds, not all states will allow SBRs, and some will allow neither (sorry California, you have to sit this one out now). If you aren’t sure of your state’s laws, contacting a local ATF field office can get you the answers you need – they are a lot more friendly and willing to help than most people would think! Pistol builds are typically treated just as their name would imply, like pistols. Here in Nevada for example, I can have a loaded AR pistol in my vehicle without any issue. I can even conceal one if it tickles my fancy, though if you try you will more than likely print enough that you get some insane looks. SBRs on the other hand, are governed by the laws for rifles. In Nevada, I can have a rifle in my vehicle, I can have a loaded magazine inserted, but I cannot have a round chambered. I can carry a rifle around under the same condition as transporting one in my vehicle, though again you have to determine what level of staring and questions you are willing to put up with. The Grey Area is Where Some Choose to Live I mentioned earlier about rifles being designed for shouldered fire, while pistols were not. As times change and parts and accessories evolve, so do the uses and applications that shooters come up with. Shouldering a Pistol Stabilizing Bracer is one of those topics that has evolved, changed, and remains left in the dark. The ATF has responded to this topic over and over, repeatedly saying that shouldering a brace (as of this writing) is not illegal . See the ATF Letter . SB Tactical Brace being used without shouldering it That isn’t to say that it is entirely legal either though, as there have been court cases where ATF letters were not allowed to be admitted as evidence. If you plan to use a determination letter at any point, your best bet is to write to the ATF and get one addressed to you specifically. In the future this could very well change, so make sure you stay aware of the current status so you aren’t caught off guard. SBRs on the other hand, offer a level of legal protection. In the states that allow them, as long as you have the tax stamp and documentation to prove it, you can do as you please in a number of regards! With an SBR you can shoulder your gun or fire without shouldering, have your barrel and overall length as short as you like, or use whatever furniture you like. You can also rest easy knowing that you have something more solid than a determination letter to rely on if you are confronted about your firearm. Build or Buy Building and buying an AR-15 pistol is basically the same as a normal AR-15, except with some different parts like a brace and a shorter barrel. Our guide to the Best AR-15 Pistols can get you started off right! Best Budget AR-15 Pistol Palmetto State Armory 10.5" AR-15 Pistol 549 at "Palmetto State Armory" Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 549 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing Buying an SBR on the other hand…that requires some extra work and you’ll need an FFL near you with the right licensing. That’s why, generally speaking, it’s a lot easier to buy a lower, start the paperwork, wait for your tax stamp approval, and then build or buy an upper to complete the rifle. PWS Diablo 7" Upper 1147 at Rainier Arms Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 1147 at Rainier Arms Prices accurate at time of writing Parting Shots To some people, SBRs are only for people making clone guns or wanting to play operator. To others, pistols are for people too cheap or paranoid to get the tax stamp. In the end, the person that can make the decision on which is better is you. Each person’s needs and application are going to be different. Where you live, your budget, and at some point, your patience will all come into play when deciding which is better. Best AR-15 & AK Pistol Braces So what did you choose – SBR or pistol? Tell us about it in the comments! If you want more great AR-15 content, check out the Best AR-15 Upgrades !
Finding the best tactical knee pads can be a challenge. But if you have a good idea of what they are and how they are used, then you can probably find a good pair without any issue. It’s always a good idea to purchase add ons that will be great for your tactical uniform (or any attire fitting for an appropriate application). If you are in search of a good pair of knee pads, stay tuned. Because we’ll be looking through a list that consists of the best knee pads that are currently popular on the market. Before we get there, we’ll talk about what tactical knee pads are used for and how you can choose a pair for your own personal use. At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Tactical Knee Pads OUR TOP PICK: BlackHawk HellStorm Advanced K-P Industries KneePro Tactical AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pad BEST BUDGET OPTION: Diamond Talk Military 5.11 Tactical Exo.K External Knee Pad Comparison Chart of the Best "Tactical Knee Pads" PRODUCT DETAILS Our Top Pick Our Top Pick BlackHawk HellStorm Advanced Available in three different colors Includes elastic hook and loop straps Made from high-quality nylon shelling View Latest Price K-P Industries KneePro Tactical Speed clips for easy snapping Designed for various applications Soft elastic woven strap included "View Latest Price" AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pad Best for the money Non-slip rubber grip Adjustable for various sizes View Latest Price Best Budget Option "Best Budget Option" "Diamond Talk Military" Includes both knee and elbow pads High-density foam included for added comfort Designed for various indoor and outdoor purposes View Latest Price 5.11 Tactical Exo.K External Knee Pad One size only Includes elastic straps Available in three different colors View Latest Price What is a Tactical Knee Pad Used For? Tactical knee pads are used for various purposes that will work to your benefit. One such example is to protect your knees from any scuffs and scrapes that can occur from any impact. The knee pads can also be used for keeping a good balance so you can be able to take your shots anytime and anywhere with accuracy and stability. Source What Should I Look For When Buying Tactical Knee Pads? If you want to choose a pair of tactical knee pads, it’s always a good idea to get a good look at some characteristics and features before making a final decision. This will also help you find a great pair that will stand out better than something that is subpar in quality. Here are some things to look for: Price The price tag will definitely play a huge role in your decision. That is if you are on a budget. If you need to purchase a pair of knee pads, it’s important to find the best quality that you can afford. Never settle for cheap under any circumstances. High-Quality Material If you want durability and longevity, then look no further than the materials that are included in the kneepads themselves. They can be made from nylon, neoprene, or any other materials along with hard materials that are proven to take beatings and impact over and over again. Additions For Comfort A great pair of kneepads can be comfortable. And they will be compared to a pair that is not the best in quality. One good place to start is to determine whether or not if a pair of kneepads have enough padding to ensure better comfort (especially when you’ll be on your knees or one of them for longer periods of time). Quick Take - The Best Tactical Knee Pads These are our recommendations for the best tactical knee pads: BlackHawk HellStorm Advanced K-P Industries KneePro Tactical AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pad Review of the Best Tactical Knee Pads Below is a list of the tactical knee pads that are currently on the market. As you look for these knee pads, it’s important to take a look at which pair will be perfect for you based on features and characteristics that stand out. You can decide on which ones can be deal makers and which ones are not. Let’s begin with the “best overall” choice on our list: Best Overall: BlackHawk HellStorm Advanced CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Very durable Comfortable and snug fit Allows for impact-free use Great for various shooter sizes Promotes excellent balance for shooting Cons None What Recent Buyers Report These knee pads were a great fit for most users. They were really happy with the hard shell being able to protect their knees from impact while being able to give them a lot of balance and stability while test shooting or tuning up their rifles at the range. One user said that while the fit was snug, it didn’t hinder his mobility in the slightest. Why it Stands Out to Us The knee pads are made from hardened denier nylon. It’s a pretty durable type of nylon that is perfect for when you’ll be taking on the hard surfaces. Yes, it can even protect your knees from grass stains as well. So if you want to get down and dirty (with less of the latter), then these knee pads will be perfect for any kind of application. Who Will Use This Most These knee pads will likely be used in multiple situations. They include but are not limited to hunting, target shooting, and even tactical applications where you will likely be on one knee or the prone position. Either way, these will keep your knees protected and keep you mobile in the process. Bottom Line The BlackHawk HellStorm Advanced is without question the number one pair of tactical knee pads on the market. And it’s got the quality and the ability to exceed performance expectations to prove it. You will not be disappointed with these knee pads once you try them on. And you probably won’t want to take them off either. Runner-up: K-P Industries KneePro Tactical CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Easy to strap on and take off Maximum protection from impact Perfect for outdoor and indoor use Comfortable while kneeling or standing Elastic straps do a good job of stretching far enough for a perfect fit Cons Some more padding could be included May be too big for some Some report they tend to slide down a bit What "Recent Buyers Report" Most of the new buyers were using this for various purposes. One user said he used these to install new flooring while renovating his house. He said that it gave him a good amount of comfort when he was on his knees for about an hour. He had no complaints about the protection he was able to get out of them. Why it Stands Out to Us As you probably know by now, these kneepads are the closest you can get to multipurpose. Indeed, you’ll be able to use this for either indoor or outdoor use. If you are looking for a pair of kneepads that will do it all and serve the same purpose by protecting your needs from scuffs, scraps, and everything else then these will serve you well in the long run. Who Will "Use This Most" These kneepads are great for any kind of purpose. So if you just want a pair that can be used anytime and any place no matter what the weather or the task is, then you’ll want to consider purchasing these bad boys. Yes, their tough but they can last you a very long time no matter how often you use them. Bottom Line The K-P Industries KneePro Tactical pads are exactly what you need for just about any purpose that will require you the right equipment to keep yourself protected. For working around the house to playing outdoors and every other task in between, these knee pads will definitely be worth putting the miles on no matter what you do. Best for the Money: AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pad CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Perfect for all-day use Affordable for most budgets Easy to adjust for various sizes Very comfortable for various knee sizes Great for tactical, recreational, and even construction purposes Cons Some say the knee cap should be flatter Knee pocket is a bit larger than expected What Recent Buyers Report Most of the new users were looking for a great set of kneepads that were super durable, but also affordable for most budgets. And just as they expected, these kneepads delivered (and went well beyond expectations). They said they were easy to fasten and were perfect for any tactical and recreational activities. Overall, they said the quality was well above the expected “you get what you pay for” kind of quality. Why it Stands Out to Us If you’re tired of slippage in knee pads, then these will definitely be worth giving a closer look. Especially when you are looking for kneepads that will be needed when you will be on your knees for longer periods. It could be while you are waiting for that big buck to pop out or if you are paintballing and looking for a pair that will absorb shock and impact. If you want knee pads fitting for various sizes, then these might just be right up your alley. Who Will Use This Most These are a great pair of kneepads that will be for those looking for a simple pair that won’t break the bank and provide excellent protection for every application possible. These may not be the most high-end or cheapest. But they can certainly get the job done if and when you need them most. Bottom Line The AltaCONTOUR Knee Protector Pads will be the best possible option for you if you want high quality and an affordable price in a pair of knee pads. These will definitely stand out as your kind of knee pads if you want to use them for just about anything. Regardless of the purpose, you get impact-proof protection that is consistent and will never leave you hanging. Best Tactical Knee and Elbow Pads: Diamond Talk Military CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Easy to fit and wear Works for various applications Affordable and budget-friendly Superior durability and comfort Handles abuse and impact very well Cons Stitching may not be the best May be a bit short for big guys Some have reported misplaced velcro What Recent Buyers Report This pad set was excellent for a lot of people who bought them recently. For the most part, these were used for recreational purposes like skating and paintballing. But nonetheless, they held up well and proved to be very durable. One user said it was very easy to move around with these pads intact and very comfortable whenever you’re in a kneeling or lying position. Why it Stands Out to Us Why settle for just knee pads when you can get elbow pads along with them? These are made from a high-quality combination of nylon and polymer. And when these two join forces and work together, you get a nice pair of pads that are not only comfortable with the included padding but impact resistance that will be very hard to be when pitted against competing for knee and elbow pads. Who Will Use This Most If you are looking for a set of pads that will be best used for recreational applications, look no further than these. In fact, you may want to grab them when you have the opportunity since they are priced affordably. Knee and elbow pads at a great price? Why would you want to say no to that? Bottom Line The Diamond Talk Military knee and elbow pad set might just set the stage for what might be the best pad set on the market. If you just want more than knee pads, you can consider getting a set like this for all of your recreational activities. Why settle for anything less than that? Best 5.11 Tactical Knee Pads: 5.11 Tactical Exo.K External Knee Pad CHECK LATEST PRICE Pros Really tough Easy to wear Superior impact protection Comfortable for long-term use Allows for freedom and mobility Cons None What Recent Buyers Report These tactical knee pads were bought by hunters and law enforcement officials who often encounter rough terrain on a regular basis. According to them, these pads were very comfortable to wear right out of the box. It also allowed them to run quickly and with agility without feeling like their being slowed down. Why it Stands Out to Us A set of pads like this are perfect for whether you want to keep a low profile be it in a kneeling or laying down position. Not to mention, these provide you will excellent balance when you have your gun in the firing position and ready to pull the trigger. Great balance will always lead to better precision and accuracy in any application where a gun can be used. Who Will Use This Most If you want a set of knee pads that will handle all the rough and tumble of any activities where you’ll be able to move quickly and take up a position that will ensure you are under a low profile and out of the sight of your target, these knee pads will be perfect for your tactical or outdoor gear . Even though it’s a one size fits all thing, these bad boys will be perfect for most knee sizes. Bottom Line The 5.11 Tactical Exo.K External Knee Pads are rugged in design and will certainly take beating after beating whenever you put them on. You can expect these to keep you comfortable throughout every application for as long as possible. And of course, you won’t have to worry about any wearing and tearing either. Advantages of Investing in Tactical Knee Pads If you are looking for a few good reasons why you should get tactical knee pads, we’ll be taking a look at some common advantages to investing in them. Here’s what you’ll get to enjoy: No Bummed Knees Your knees are the most important parts of your body. Especially when it comes to mobility. If your knees take on multiple amounts of impact without protection, at some point you’ll get them injured. And the recovery process may take a while and thus hinder your movement. Don’t let that happen to you in any given situation. Knee pads will protect you from just that. Improved Balance For Shooting Accuracy and precision matter most in shooting. One of those smaller things that make it great is your balance. The more balance you have, the straighter your shots are going to be. Knee pads will definitely give you the balance you deserve if you are in a kneeling or low profile position. Great For Multiple Purposes Just because they are called tactical knee pads, doesn’t mean they have to be used for tactical purposes. You can use them for multiple purposes that include hunting, home renovation, and even recreational sports. These tactical knee pads are built tough and can handle a lot of rough and tumble activities. Conclusion The best pair of tactical knee pads that could be yours might be one of the sets listed above. Choose the best pair that will work for you and will keep you protected for as long as you wear them. You’ll be surprised by how long these bad boys can last and how far they can go in terms of protection. More Tactical Gear Buyer Guides Best Tactical Boots Best Tactical Jackets Best Tactical Sunglasses Best Chest Rigs Best Tactical Vests Best Tactical Messenger Bags