Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bobcat: Kid friendly modifications

So now you have your Bobcat all set up on your medium ALICE pack; and you're wondering, how can this work for one of my kids? The following pics are of my Bobcat conversion on a USMC radio pack which is nothing more than a slightly enhanced ALICE medium pack.

Because children have narrower shoulders, the following mods will make the pack very usable and easy to carry for pre-adolecents and smaller children. The Bobcat then becomes an excellent low cost, bullet proof pack for for both cub scouts and girl scouts.

First thing to do is read my Bobcat modifications in my earlier post. Frameless ALICE Modification: "Bobcat"  Use all modifications, except substitute the LC2 shoulder straps with LC1; and add a small sternum strap that can be purchased at stores such as REI and Campmor etc.

The next pic is a set of LC2 straps so you can see the difference between the LC1.

So, we start with a set of LC1 straps and a sternum strap; I purchased the sternum strap at REI. Notice the shape and position of the straps. The slight angular shape and the padded portion oriented to the top. This is the correct position of the LC1 straps and is how they should be attached to the ALICE pack.

Undo the quick release on one of the straps and separate the upper and lower portions. Do the same for both straps.

Next, slip one end of the sternum strap over the web portion of the shoulder strap.  

Reassemble the quick release, sliding the top of the lower strap portion under the loop of the sternum strap. Look at the pic closely if this seems confusing.

Snap the outer tab down; and then repeat the assembly for the other side.

Now you have a kid friendly Bobcat that will hopefully provide many years of enjoyable hiking and camping for your entire family; pack or troop.

The following pics are of my three sons about three years ago. My youngest was eight at the time and the pic shows he is easily utilizing the Bobcat with the addition of a MSS attached to the bottom. My older boys were eleven and thirteen and had graduated to Hellcats. The kid friendly mods help younger children pack much heavier loads than the standard day packs will accommodate. 

For any one who wants to outfit their family on a budget; the Bobcat and Hellcat are hard to beat; you can start young and let the system take them into adulthood. Happy trails.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breaking Down Ruger's New Polymer GSR Magazines

Ruger finally introduced it's much anticipated polymer magazine for it's popular Gunsite Scout Rifle in mid to late October. Once on sale at the Ruger web store I ordered one each of the 3 round, 5 round, 10 round magazines. They arrived last week, which has given me some time to evaluate them; and to also read criticisms posted on various forums. 

At first glance they appear to be well made and thought out. I noted they were of similar quality and build of a PMag with familiar appointments. The 20 round Pmag is to the far right.

Ruger Mag with dust cover attached

Side by side of Ruger mag and PMag floor plate with familiar latch location

I immediately took the 3 round magazine and began to load it with mil surp ammo. The first thing that struck me was how easy the magazines were to load. Each round, from first to last slipped in with very little effort. The experience was unlike using the steel magazines, which take considerable effort, and utterances of explicatives which I will not pen here. At first, I thought it must be the 3 round magazine; to my delight the 5 and 10 round magazines loaded with similar ease.

Inserting the magazines into the mag well met with familiar exercise I find with all polymer mags. As expected, I found the polymer magazine was much handier and required less manipulation to engage the well opening than the steel counterparts. I did notice the 5 and 10 round magazines required a slight "pop" with the palm of the hand to seat properly; but this is not an uncommon occurrence for anyone who has used PMags or other polymer AR15 magazines. Removal of the magazines met with little resistance; the 5 and 10 rounders dropped effortlessly. The 3 round magazine did require manual removal due to its lighter weight and not wanting fall out freely. 

Close inspection the 5 and 10 round magazines revealed slight indentations running the length of the feed lips. This in my opinion was of no consequence. It is merely where the feed lips came in contact with the receiver  rails at the top of the mag well. If you find it unsightly a little emory paper will smooth it down. No different than any other poly mag I have ever used.

One pleasant surprise was the ability to top load the rifle with the magazine engaged. The feed lips have a slight inner camfor that allow the cartridges to be loaded from the top; thus addressing an early criticism of Ruger's decision to use the AI magazine system: 

"Not being able to top off the magazine while engaged in the rifle." 

Cycling the bolt proved to be much smoother and I did not encounter any rounds hanging at the feed ramp as I did with the steel magazines. These three things alone are a vast improvement over the steel magazines.

Taking a look at the magazines side by side with their steel counter parts also revealed a few surprises.

Obviously the 3 round magazine has a much lower profile than any of the others; the surprise came with the 5 and 10 round magazines. The 5 round poly magazine is actually taller than the the 5 round steel and the 10 round poly was surprisingly shorter than the 10 round steel. I was also a bit taken back as to the weight difference between the steel and polymer magazines. If I had thought about it before hand it should have been no surprise; but on comparison it was quite revealing.

* Ruger poly mags measured w/o the dust cover

From the chart above you can see that both the 5 and 10 round poly magazines are less than 50% of the weight of the steel magazines. However, the 5 round poly magazine is slightly larger in profile than the 5 round steel; and the 10 round poly is 1 inch shorter than the steel. So, no improvement on the 5 round poly profile but a significant improvement on weight. Double so with the 10 round poly magazine.

The next few pics compare the Ruger GSR with the poly and steel magazines. I like the look of the poly magazines better than the steel. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

GSR with 3 rd Ruger poly

GSR with 5 rd Ruger poly

GSR with 5 rd Ruger steel

GSR with 10 rd Ruger poly

GSR with 10 rd Ruger steel

The last thing that I did was to disassemble the Ruger poly magazine. The steel magazine is a hit and miss when it comes to disassembly. Both my Ruger steel mags require quite a bit of muscle and one always runs the risk of either personal injury or damaging the magazine; both being distasteful. 

Disassembly was very simple and did not require anything more than a pencil, pen, small stick or bullet tip. Anything that will depress the latch in the center of the floor plate.

Once depressed the floor plate slides off easily and reveals three inner parts: follower; spring, and base. All three are easily detached from one another for cleaning; repair or replacement.

3 rd mag disassembled

Spring assembly

Spring, follower and base

From my vantage point I believe the Ruger polymer magazine offers significant improvement over the steel magazines. They offer a lot of positives and I really can't find a negative at this point.


easier to load cartridges
easier to engage
offers top loading
smoother bolt operation
simple to disassemble


I guess I'll have to run the magazines for a while to find any. I'm sure something will raise up; if and when it dose I'll post a follow up with close examination.

I believe Ruger has a winner magazine that is every bit as well thought out as the rifle it is mated to. Nothing is perfect, but right now I can find no fault. BTW, did I mention the the new magazine is less expensive than the steel mags. $39.95.  About 30% less than steel.  There are a number things that are "lesser" with the Ruger poly magazine but in this case ........... less is more.


Top loading the new Ruger polymer magazine is officially sanctioned by Ruger Firearms. The following is a link to videos found on the Ruger website. They are informative and may clear up any misconceptions or concerns regarding function and durability. I would caution exclusively loading the magazine from the top. Limit top loading only when the magazine is in the rifle and needs to be "topped off" with one or two rounds. This will reduce premature wear on the feed lips(this comes on good authority from within Ruger)

UPDATE:  December  20, 2011

After using the magazines since I first published this article; there appears to be some failure to feed problems primarily with the 5 and 10 round magazines. Several forum members on have reported rounds not engaging the bolt face and jamming/failing to feed into the chamber. I'll admit I had yet to use my 10 round magazine fully loaded; so I pulled it out, topped it off, and stated to cycle rounds and began to experience the same issues. 

When cycling the bolt the first 2 or 3 rounds chambered without problems; however, getting further into the magazine I began experiencing the same issues others were having. When the bolt was cycling I noticed the face would would miss the base of the round completely or would barely catch the rim and would cause the cartridge to swing slightly off axis and jam at the mouth of the chamber. The steel mags do not appear to cause the same failure to feed.

So, I recalled an observation I made in my initial examination of the Ruger Poly mags. If you read my above article you will notice a pic of marks made on the feed lips of the poly mag. They are caused by contact with the rails in the mag well. 

At the time I felt it would be of no consequence; however I did think in the back of my mind that the mags had the potential of not fully engaging all the way into the mag well and not allowing the bolt to engage the base of the cartridge properly. Since the rounds cycled without issue in my initial test I thought no more of; until others started experiencing FTT's. As I stated above, I pulled my 10 round mag and found the same FTT's the others were having. 

What now you ask? 

For me the solution was, and is simple. Just remove a little material from the outside of the feed lips so the magazine engages the mag well properly. I went to my garage and got a small section of 150 grit sand paper and a sanding block; and then carefully sanded the marks away on both feed lips.  No surprise to me, the FTT's went away. 

Hopefully Ruger will be addressing the FTT issue and come up with a resolution. For now, a little sand paper will take away the excess material, but many gun owners will not be comfortable altering the magazine in this manner and it may void the warranty. Like I promised I'll keep this post updated as I gain more info and solutions.

UPDATE: April 9, 2013

A lot has happened since my last post on this subject. First Ruger has increased the strength of the follower spring to address feeding issues. This has been well received by the GSR community. Magazines seem to function without jamming as first reported. Second, It was discovered shortly after I made my initial post that the magazine latch on the GSR shares similar dimensions with the Mini 14 magazine latch. It appears(per Ruger) that a undisclosed number of Mini 14 latches were installed on the GSR during early production; which may have contributed to some of the FTF problems with the polymer magazines. This has been addressed by Ruger and fixed. If you have FTF's still please contact Ruger with the rifle S/N to see if it falls into this category. I have had nothing but positive things to say about Rugers customer service; it is one of the best in the industry.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Ruger Scout Rifle Saga Part 1

Let me first say that I really like Ruger's version of the scout rifle. I believe it has loads of potential and none of my criticisms or dislikes prevented me from purchasing it. I did have several concerns at first; but felt they would be a simple fix. It wan't until I began literally using and taking the rifle apart, that I realized that Ruger really droped the ball on several features. So I'll begin by highlighting the features I like, followed by my indifferences and my truly dislikes.

First, this is the rifle we all start with. I have put a Burris 1.5x scout scope in the forward position. I really wish Burris still offered this scope because there is a lot to like about it; but thats for another post.

The first thing I'll mention is the barrel. I really like the stepped, medium contour. I believe this accounts for the rifles excellent out of the box accuracy that most of us have been experiencing. Whether you like the shorter 16.5" or longer 18" lengths; they both benefit from the rigidity and decreased vibration the barrel affords. This, in my opinion is a positve. The following is a target shot by my oldest son at 50yds, using surplus 150 gr Chilean ammo. Four shots can be covered with a dime; the fifth shot is in the xring. I'll be taking the rifle out this weekend to dial it in a little closer. The GSR is definately a 1 moa shooter.

The open sights are another good feature not found on other bolt action rifles; the Ruger sights are robust and certainly do the job well. Opinions may differ on whether these are the best; however, at the least they are more than adequate and  not offered in this good of quality, on any production BA rifle that I know of.

Integral receiver scope mounts. Many opinions vary regarding how dated Rugers scope mounts are; however, they do provide a set of rings with the rifle, so for me it is a moot point. Just gives the shooter additional options regarding the location of optical sights.

The scout rail is another feature I really like. Ruger did a good thing by not making it a permanent attachment. XS Sights has a lot of options for the shooter, including a full length picatinny rail that hopefully will be available soon. This will allow for many more sighting options in the future.

Threaded barrel. Man, am I glad for this. If I'm stuck with a flash hider, it allows me to put what ever compensator I desire on the business end of the rifle. If you are inclined, a "can" is possible.

AICS "standard" magazines. This was in my opinion, one of the best engineering decisions Ruger made, second to the stepped, medium contour barrel. The AICS standard is proven and almost flawless. The magazines are more expensive; but when your life depends on it, I can't fault the decision. I don't care for the single stack ten round magazine; but, it is easily fixed by a five round magazine. I wish they had provided the five rounder with the rifle, and the ten round magazine as an option. But no big deal. I purchased two five rounders, and am glad I have at least one ten rounder.

I personally think the five rounder is a better choice for the rifleman. It dosen't get in the way, and just looks better.

Now it's on to my indifferences. First, is the laminated stock. I like laminated stocks; however, for a scout rifle, it adds additional weight. A synthetic stock would have been a better choice; but knowing Ruger, they would have made it black with a big block "Ruger" molded into the stock. Given the options, I'd rather have the laminate. 

Swivel studs. I hate these things! They are noisy, move around, and never stay real tight. But, they have become a industry "standard", and no one can get away from them.

the studs will be replaced.........

by a set of these.

Mauser type sling swivels are hard to beat; and since I have no use for a bipod, they make for a sturdier platform for "practical" sling use. YMMV

Plastic/polymer trigger group and magazine well.

I'm really indifferent on this. Polymers are used on all kinds of hard use firearms and have stood the test of time. Ruger has demonstrated they are pretty good with polymers; and the use of them in this application saves on weight. To me, it is a good thing and not a big deal on a practical rifle.

Now on to my dislikes and where I think Ruger really dropped the ball.

Flash hider. What a useless accessory for a practical rifle. Cooper had no use for them; I have no use for them; and if a scout rifle is designed to be stealthy, a flash hider is the last thing you need on the end of your barrel. On this board my next statement is bold, but I believe it has merit. Name one "A List", bolt action sniper rifle system that has a pure flash hider on it? Can't name it? I can't either. They may have a compensator or a compensator/flash hider; but none that are worth a darnn with a straight flash hider. Yeah I know some gas operated systems may have them but by and large they use a compensator or nothing at all. Flash hiders will do nothing but give away your position. Flash hiders were designed to help the shooter, by reducing the flash signature in order to minimize night blindness. The downside is they kick up one heck of a dust signature. Thank goodness Ruger put a threaded barrel on the end instead of the thing being pinned. So, being of the practical mind ..........

I went from the tacticool POS ..........

To a much better alternative. At least it will not kick up a cloud of dust; putting me and mine in jeopardy.  

The A2 FH is compromise for me. At least the threaded barrel will allow for each of the GSR owners to attach something that will be better suited for a practical rifle. Again, YMMV. This is one addition to the scout rifle that I believe was a "stick in the eye" to the Guru. But, it's addition to the rifle does not disqualify it as a scout rifle.

The last item that I believe is a dropped ball; the recoil pad. This little gem sticks to any and everything.

I have tried putting this pad to my shoulder wearing cotton; synthetic; coats and no coats; web gear; shirts and no shirts. It dose not matter; it hangs on everything. A scout/practical/tactical rifle dose not have any place for a recoil pad. Period. It will get you killed or at the very least, cause you to miss that monster buck. The adjustable length of pull using spacers is a good idea; but this system is cheap and cheesy. If Ruger had offered an option of a hard plastic butt plate; I could have lived with the system. But they didn't.  From the beginning I was going to replace the spacer system with a large spacer and hard smooth butt plate. To my dismay, I found this once I removed the entire system.

None of the screw or mounting holes line up in a standard fashion; making it difficult to keep the stock in factory condition. Compounding the problem, the spacer system requires large holes to be drilled in the stock; making the use of standard screws nearly impossible. The system is FUBAR for anyone who would like to make changes. Ruger ....... what were you thinking?  Another "stick in the eye" of the Guru. Anyway, I'm still going to customize the the stock so it is easier to bring up and down from the shoulder. My GSR will be sporting a 1" hard rubber spacer; followed by........

a 3/8" spacer made of "tiger ebony".......

and a butt plate of Buffalo horn.

I think I'll call my Ruger the, "Buffalo Scout". Pics of the final modifications will be in Part 2.  

So there are no confusions; I like the Ruger GSR. I just believe Ruger should have done a bit more homework apart from Gunsite; and talked to a few more scout users. If they had done that, this rifle could have  been something truly special. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Frameless ALICE Modification "Bobcat"

Frameless "Bobcat" ALICE Modification

By Rod Teague

One of the problems I used to encounter when using a med ALICE w/o frame was how the pack would become misshapen after loading and then cinching the top of the ruck.

This was particularly critical when using the pack over the top of my web gear. The pack would roll around and ultimately something hard in the pack would poke me in the back making the carry difficult and sometimes painful. Heavier loads would also tear the D-rings loose making the ruck unusable w/o the frame. The solution I came up with was very simple and completely eliminated the afore mentioned problems and allowed me to carry the frameless/heavy ALICE ruck comfortably over my web gear.

Step One: Materials

1ea Med ALICE ruck

1ea 11-11.5" piece of steel tubing(from a broken camp know; the folding kind we all use for our kids sporting events and around the camp fire)

1ea Length of 1" tubular webbing about 14-15"

1 pair LC2 shoulder straps

1ea 10"x12" piece of foam padding cut from a USGI sleep pad

Assembling the Bobcat

Cut your piece of steel tubiing to about 11-11.5" and then file the rough ends. Length isn't as important as getting a snug fit.

Next slip the the steel tube into the 1" webbing letting the ends overlap

Slip the assembled rod through the bottom of the padded yoke pushing the assembly until it is firmly at the top

Next, slip the top attachment straps of the LC2's under the tube assembly and through the D-rings

Cinch the LC2 straps to the top assembly and to the "O" ring attachments at the bottom of the ruck. Your strap/yoke assembly should look like this

Next, slip the piece of sleep pad into the radio pouch............

and your Bobcat is ready for action over your web gear.

This is an excellent modification to use for cub scouts as well. All of my boys have used this mod during their cub years then we simply upgraded to the Hellcat. I'll make another post later, showing the mods for making the Bobcat kid friendly.