EXD Engineering Vertical Reticle Instrument

The EXD Vertical Reticle Instrument is the easiest and most accurate way to square an optic to a gun.

I'm about to share with you one of the most useful tools in my gun drawer. I'm almost certain that unless you already have some sort of trick or technique for mounting an optic squarely level to a firearm, you'll want to pick up one of these for yourself after reading this review.
The EXD Engineering Vertical Reticle Instrument is an adjustable, self-aligning tool that uses V-blocks to square up the scope's objective bell with the barrel, assuming your scope rings are quality and in spec. Once you tighten down the thumb screw to secure the V-blocks (you can use a rubber band to keep it in place if needed) you can use the bubble level to assure the rifle/shotgun/muzzleloader/pistol is resting level with the planet. Then, with the rings loosely tightened so you can rotate the scope in place, you want to look through the glass and make sure the crosshairs themselves are parallel with something thats level - a door frame, a fence post, or a plumb line that uses gravity to create a straight vertical reference. If the reticle is vertically squared and the bubble level in the EXD instrument is between the marks, your scope is aligned with the universe and you can tighten down your rings.
Now I have managed to mount optics on quite a few firearms without the use of such a tool, but the possibility of being skewed and non-level with the bore has always haunted me. Once I'd get the rings slightly tightened and the eye relief in the sweet spot, I'd either take a step back and fiddle with the magnification so I can catch a glimpse of the reticle in the narrow eye-box and just sorta get a feel if it looks square to the action, then double check by scoping something outdoors that I'm relatively sure has straight vertical edge. If the scope had a nice capped elevation turret I would balance an actual level tool on it, but that only would tell me the scope was level with the ground, not level with bore itself. I could spend and hour tinkering with it until it looks right, and it could still be way off.

EXD Vertical Reticle Instrument

For shooting 100-200 yards it may not be worth a second thought, but for ultimate precision especially at longer ranges, a canted crosshair reticle can and will have adverse effects on your scope's windage and elevation adjustments. Many gun stores, smiths, or scope dealers will mount a scope fore you, but really only "eyeball" it or use a reference that may not be all that precise. Hell, I've had someone tell me to just close my eyes, shoulder the rifle, and then whatever canted position the rifle is in my hands is good enough, then half-ass level the windage line and tighten the rings from there. This may be "good enough" for Bubba to bag a backyard buck, but not if you hope to be consistent with your firearm's optic at various ranges.
Yes, there might be some OCD tied into it, but a scope that you've leveled yourself, without paying someone else, really gives you reassurance as well as confidence in your rig (or in some cases, gives you less excuses at the firing line). The beauty is that this tool is so simple, it should work with virtually every firearm you want to mount a scope on, with only a few exceptions. I would strongly recommend buying the EXD Engineering Vertical Reticle Instrument, especially if you own multiple scopes and like to swap them around, or if you're business includes mounting optics for customers.

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:  Makes zeroing your scope faster and far more accurate

Target Market:  Scoped Rifle Owners

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Self Align V-blocks
  • Thumb Screw for tightening
  • View Slot
  • Bubble level to ensure scope and bore are square during mounting

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Unfinished Aluminium only

What others are saying?:

"I have mounted numerous rifle scopes and this is the best device for leveling the cross hairs I have found. Actually, it's used to level the rifle and scope, and then plumb the vertical reticle of the scope." User Review

"This tool changes weather a scope is level or not from an opinion to a fact. It's the best tool out there for leveling a scope. On some high power scopes the narrow window can be an issue but it still works." User Review

"This tool is indispensable for quick accurate perfectly level crosshairs. No more excess time fidling with back and forth alignment. If your in the profession you absolutely need this tool, its a money maker." User Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability:  Available at

Our Rating:


  • Removes the guesswork from mounting a scope and zeroing the reticle
  • Works with almost every firearm platform as long as the scope overlaps a round barrel
  • Compatible with Oval ocular scopes
  • Should work with optics on handguns, muzzleloaders, shotguns, as well as rifles.


  • Barrels with rear iron sights may not work with this tool
  • Leveling the reticle perpendicular requires an outside reference ie: a door frame or plumb line
  • Expensive for what it is...would have been a great additional value if some sort of black string, thumbtack and weight were included

Score: 8.0 Great



Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

Ruger Super Redhawk Review

Ruger Super Redhawk BOOM! It was time for me to step up to a classic big bore revolver cartridge, and a Ruger Super Redhawk in 44 Magnum has been on my most wanted list for a couple years. Available with multiple barrel lengths, the Super Redhawk carries all the advantages of the standard Redhawk line but with a few key improved features. The frame is the most obvious change, being extended to improve durability and stoutness, as well as reliefs machined in the frame for scope rings (included with all but Alaskan short-barreled models)

The Super Redhawk comes in two duel chamberings. The 44 magnum models can be loaded with 44 special cartridges, and the 454 Casull model can accept 45 Colt cartridges. This makes plinking a bit less expensive and gives a chance for novice or recoil sensitive shooters to experience the revolver without breaking the bank or a wrist.

The Super Redhawk also now boasts a hammer-forged barrel which provides enhanced accuracy and rigidity. To help manage the recoil associated with 454 Casull and even hot 44 Magnum loads, a Hogue Tamer Monogrip with an internal recoil cushion comes standard. If you find yourself not accustomed to the monogrip you have access to a vast selection of aftermarket wooden grips compatible with the Super Redhawk's peg-style grip frame. All the other features that made the Redhawk so popular are still present including Ruger's patented transfer bar mechanism (prevents accidental discharge), a corrosion-resistant stainless steel finish, and the classic plastic Ruger hard plastic case.

I picked my KSRH-7 model, 7 inch 44 magnum SRH up at a local gunshop for under $790 sticker price.  It's been a blast to shoot especially as a reloader. Even as a handloading novice, the straight-walled 44 magnum case and it's little brother the 44 special lend themselves well to beginners. The price for factory loads in both magnum and special is expensive, and the cost savings from rolling your own will be tremendous. I've tested some warm magnum loads using 300 grain Uni-Cor projectiles from Speer and Hodgdon H110 powder with very good results, as well as some lighter 44 Special loads using Hornady 200 grain XTP projectiles and Unique powder. Its a very fun caliber to work up loads with different charge/bullet combinations, from hard cast Grizzly-stoppers, to Big Game Hunting loads, and even light/cheaper plinking rounds.

My biggest negative to the SRH is the front sight. Some SRH's come with a ramped base with a dovetail for the blade, however mine and the other's I've seen on shelves as of late have a one piece base/ramp/orange plastic blade that is not conducive to accuracy at all. How it mounts to the barrel also poses the issue of no aftermarket alternatives that I could find.  It used three screws and the barrel / sight base are mated by a machined relief. I am having a gunsmith fabricate a new front sight that matches the footprint but with a dovetail interface that will allow using a different front sight, specifically a brass bead. I plan to then replace the square-notch rear sight with a V-notch, giving me a better sight picture for 100 yard groups and hopefully an unsuspecting buck one of these days.

Of course the included scope rings would be ideal for most shooters hoping to sling lead at that range, but I would like to be able to holster the Super Redhawk and be able to shoot in the low-light hours of the day, two factors that a handgun scope somewhat limits for my intent.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:  Ruger® Super Redhawk® revolvers have all of the advantages of the Ruger Redhawk® plus additional features that give it potent strength and power!

Target Market:  Hunters & Outdoorsman, Revolver enthusiasts and people who plink with extreme prejudice!

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • FRAME INTEGRAL SCOPE SYSTEM with scope mounts machined directly into the frame and FREE Ruger scope rings for accurate and reliable sighting.
  •  STRONG EXTENDED FRAME with extra metal in top strap, sidewalls and barrel mounting areas to handle powerful big game loads.
  • TRIPLE-LOCKING CYLINDER is locked into the frame at the front, rear, and bottom for more positive alignment and dependable operation shot after shot.
  • RECOIL CUSHIONING HOGUE® TAMER™ MONOGRIP® with an internal recoil cushion positioned under the web of the hand helps reduce the impact of powerful loads, while peg-style grip frame easily accommodates custom grips.
  • DUAL CHAMBERING for 44 Magnum models, which also accept all factory 44 Special cartridges and 454 Casull models, which also accept all factory 45 Colt cartridges.
  • PATENTED RUGER TRANSFER BAR MECHANISM provides an unparalleled measure of security against accidental discharge.

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: All Stainless, but barrel lengths vary from 9.5", 7.5", 5" (TALO edition) and 2.5" (Alaskan Model)

What others are saying?: “Ruger's Super Redhawk is an impressively strong framed revolver; that the same frame and action has been used for the .480 Ruger and the .454 Casull is testimony to that. To be sure, this is no wimpy wheel gun. The build quality clearly exceeds that of many of the other .44 Mags that I've owned, including a few M44 Taurus examples. Having hunted hogs and similar successfully with .357's, there is little question that whatever a .357 can do, a .44 Mag. just makes them "deader better."

The Ruger Super Redhawk is the most accurate hunting pistol I've ever owned, with its heft and weight helping to make it controllable to shoot. Hotter rounds such as the .454 Casull have been too much in the hand-slapper department for me to enjoy shooting them, much less do so accurately. Some folks do, of course, but for me the .44 Rem. Mag. is the upper limit of what I enjoy shooting out of a handgun.

I've never had a Ruger revolver that was less than well made, including their GP100 .357, and their single action Blackhawk models. As far as I'm concerned, the Ruger Super Redhawk is the class of the field, and one of the best hunting revolvers you can buy. It's a testimony to the quality of Ruger's investment casting prowess.

You might want a trigger job, though in my case just a spring kit did the trick. In .44 Rem. Mag. configuration it is a reliable combination of power, accuracy, and manageability that is hard to beat. It remains my favorite hunting handgun. I can't recommend the Ruger Super Redhawk highly enough."  - Randy Wakeman via


Price Point:

I need it now! Availability: BudsgunShop, Slickguns, or check local dealers

Our Rating: + Included scope rings are quality, lockup is nice and tight and haven't come loose under recoil (yet) + Rubber Grip helps tame recoil and is all-weather + Added weight from beefed up frame adds to recoil control + Different barrel lengths for intended use (accuracy, hunting, or self defense)

- Front sight post is my biggest beef. Its wide, ugly and will hinder accuracy at 100 yards compared to a bead or fiber optic rod - No aftermarket support for front sight (my SRH has one-piece 3 screw orange blade sight) - Trigger isn't as good as equivalent S&W revolvers but not terrible either

Score: 8.5 Great85


Beckham Design Revolver Rimz Speedloader

Rimz 1

There is not much to say about this product besides that fact that it works and fixes one of the only problems I’ve had with my 625 JM from Smith and Wesson. Utilizing moon clips on rimless cartridges in revolvers increase the reliability and ease of use. The standard procedure utilizes metal moonclips, and even with special loading and unloading tools can prove to be a hassle. Don’t get me wrong, these moonclips cannot replace standard metal moonclips for defensive or competitive applications. These moonclips however will greatly improve the ease of use and will certainly save you some troubles.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: Increases Range enjoyment and ease of use, replacing an aggravating original part.

 Target Market: This product is best used for the range shooter of a Smith and Wesson revolver that can utilize these moonclips.


Key Features

  • Flexible Molded Polymer
  • Made of high strength hydrocarbon polymer
  • 300-400 uses, durability
  • Easy Loading

 Key Benefits

  • Saves thumbs and headaches
  • Increase reliability

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: They make this same product for other Smith and Wesson Moonclip capable revolvers as well.

What others are saying?:  With the exception of one reviewer on Brownells everyone has great things to say about them.

Price Point:  These are available online through the manufacturer or from Brownells. They have the same price on both sites but I am unsure of the shipping costs from the manufacturer since you must create an account to use their online store.

I need it now! Availability:  You may be able to acquire these at a very well stocked local gun store however I have never seen them. If you must have them ASAP pay a bunch and have them overnighted by Brownells but other that that your at the mercy of shipping.

Our Rating:  This is a killer product saving my thumbs and sanity every time I use them. They are simple and do their job well.

+ Cost + Fixes a “problem” + Ease of use + Quality

Score: 9.090 Amazing

My Blog:  NJ Gun Blog

Smith and Wesson Model 638 Airweight 1.875"


 S&W 638 1

Whatever model it may be, the Smith and Wesson J-Frame has been a go to carry option for decades. I’m going to break this one down short and sweet. This is a slick, incredibly well made, and sharp 638-3looking revolver. I could choose to write more but it need not be said. This wheel gun is S&W quality, J-Frame concealability,  and .38 Special +p sensibility all wrapped up into a package that one can either enjoy at the range or carry with confidence.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: S&W quality, Concealed Carry, 638-4

Target Market: Concealed Carry, Collectors


Key Features

  • Aluminum Alloy Frame
  • Stainless Steel Cyinder
  • Syntheitc Grip
  • Shrouded Hammer

Key Benefits

  • Concealability of an internal/bobbed hammer while still maintaining the ability of single action operation.
  • Lightweight

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

While I was unable to find it on the Smith and Wesson Website a Guns & Ammo review also lists a 2 ½” barrel option. A crimson trace model is also available. But check out the Smith and Wesson website as there is great variety within the S&W J-Frame line.

What others are saying?

Steve Gash from Guns & Ammo

Youtube Review- TheFireArmGuy

Price point:

Gunbroker = Over MSRP Gunbroker Search

I need it now! Availability

During my recent handgun search only one store was flush with a variety of J-Frame models.  I did not see this gun anywhere else and I looked at 4 different stores.

Our Rating

+Superior S&W quality +Lightweight +Concealability +Cool factor of a “snub-nose” +Versatility of the shrouded hammer design

I find it difficult to spot negatives in design or construction. Engineering a firearm is a give and take. With this type of firearm you sacrifice comfort of shooting and magazine size for a highly concealable and reliable firearm that borders on pocket gun stature. I can't note these things as negatives as they are simply the nature of the beast.

Score 8.5





Featured FFL A frequent stop for my firearms, ammo, and accessory needs I picked this baby up at The Bullet Hole in Belleville, NJ. The Bullet Hole

My Blog  NJ Gun Blog

S&W Performance Center 627 VCOMP

627 Vcomp

If you are a Smith & Wesson revolver fan and you want more than a production gun, the Performance Center is your next stop. The Performance Center takes production line guns and hand fits the parts. On some models they also add special features.  Each gun is assembled by craftsmen who make sure fit, finish, quality and performance are all top tier.

The 627 in standard form is an 8 shot .357/.38 N (large) frame revolver which presently can be had in a 4" pro or 5" pc series. Both have tapered slab sided barrels, adjustable iron sights and stainless construction. The VCOMP model is made for competition. It features the same stainless construction but with a melonite coating on the frame and barrel for a beautiful 2 tone look. The sights are adjustable with the front being an orange dovetail style. The most unique feature is the removable compensator on the barrel. If you wanted to shoot open class in competition, all you would need is a mount, a red dot and you are set. If you plan to shoot limited, just replace the comp with the included muzzle cap and use your iron sights. Most revolver competitors use this model, including our own hostess at Gun Girl Radio, the beautiful and talented Julie Golob.
             My journey with the VCOMP started with me wanting one for quite some time. I decided to shoot Bianchi Cup and wanted to go whole hog and shoot open class with the best of the best. So I sold my beloved 627 pro and saved up some more money and ordered my VCOMP.  I ordered it December 2012 and finally got it in February of 2013, just months before Bianchi.  Fit and finish were fantastic, BUT the action was not up to par. Pull weight was around 14lbs and no where near as smooth as my other PC guns. Very disappointed to say the least.  I pulled the side plate off and also discovered they were not using pinned stirrups any longer in the PC guns. Some polishing had been done on the rebound block but not nearly enough. I had hoped to shoot it with out my smooth and tune.  Set my hopes too high.  I did my normal work, set trigger pull weight to 8lbs (to run factory ammo),smoothed it up and added an Aimpoint red dot sight.  I ended up with an Aimpoint pro instead of the t1 due to availability.
              In all fairness, S&W would have gladly taken it back and made it what it should have been.  However I was afraid of not getting it back in time.  The gun was fully functional and looked beautiful, but just didn't have that awesome smooth pull of a Performance Center gun.  Well it does now and it's about to get more upgrades with reviews as I redo it for ICORE limited and USPSA competition this coming year
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: Full on competition revolver
Target Market: Competition shooters
FNBs (features & benefits of this product):
  • Performance tuned action
  • Removable compensator
  • Can use with or without moonclips
  • Chamfered cylinder
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?  Melonite coated frame and barrel with stainless cylinder, compensator and cylinder release
What others are saying?:  "S&W model 627 is one of the companies most popular"  Gun Shop Finder
Price point :
I need it now! Availability:  Shooters Supply, Gun Broker and or your local FFL/gun store.
Our Rating:
+ Excellent fit and finish
+ Very versatile
+ 8 shot .357!
+ Very quick
+ Rugged and reliable
- My trigger was very heavy
- Action wasn't up to par with other PC guns
Score:  7.575

North American Arms .22 LR Mini-Revolver

NAA .22LR Mini Revolver

By Ryan Michad

You can get many accessories for this gun, including a belt buckle holster and a folding grip/pocket clip to carry the revolver. If you live in an area where snakes are prevalent, you can load the revolver with shotshells to take care of those if the need arises.. The sights really aren’t that usable. This is truly a point and shoot weapon. It’s effective distance is typically no greater than ten feet. It is slow to reload, requiring you to pull the cylinder pin out and remove the cylinder. Then you have to punch out the empties manually with the cylinder pin. If you don’t have a proper hold on it, the gun tends to roll back in your hands on recoil.

 Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:  An EXTREMELY small single-action .22 LR revolver meant for deep-concealment.  Can also be used as a backup gun or a fun range gun.

Target Market:   Concealed Carry Permit Holders, Hikers, Police Officers desiring a small last ditch gun.

F&B's: (Features and Benefits)

Key Features

  • All stainless steel construction
  • Single-Action
  • Chambers .22 Long Rifle
  • Holds 5 rounds
  • Exposed Spur-type Trigger
  • 1 ⅛” Barrel
  • Weight: 4.5 ounces

Does it come in black?   The NAA Mini-Revolver comes only in stainless steel.  There are other distributor-specific models that may have varying finish types.

What others are saying:  “I literally had a blast testing the little mini-revolver. I fired a couple hundred rounds through it. This was not all in one session, as loading and reloading are slow. I fired four different types of .22 LR ammo and had zero failures to fire. ” -Survival Blog

Price point:

I need it now! Availability:  These can be found at most gun shops and on Gun Broker.

Our Rating:

+  It is an EXTREMELY small pistol.  It can be carried in a shirt pocket without any trouble, and allows you to be armed when it would          not be possible otherwise. +  Even though it is a small handgun, it is not cheaply made. This is a quality handgun and it shows. +  It is very corrosion resistant thanks to its all stainless steel finish. +  It has safety notches in the rear face of the cylinder that allow you to carry the gun fully loaded with the hammer down, safely..

Score:  7.575 


Ryan Michad’s Links

Handgun Radio


Smith & Wesson Model 60 "Chiefs Special"


By Ryan Michad

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: The Quintessential Snubby Revolver; Concealed Carry; Accuracy.

Target Market: Concealed Carriers, People who enjoy classic revolvers, snub-nose revolver enthusiasts.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product) Key Features Stainless Steel Construction Chambers .38 Spl +P Ammunition (Some chamber .357 Mag.) Traditional S&W Safety Mechanisms Ramped Integral Front Sight and Notch Rear Sight (Non-Adjustable) Five Shot Capacity

Does it come in black?  The S&W Model 60 is available only in stainless steel.  There are, however, other revolvers in the S&W Lineup similar to the S&W Model 60 which offer other materials & finishes.

What others are saying? “While the new Model 60 did not live up to my expectations in terms of accuracy, the subsequent sample S&W sent me was superb.” -Jeff Quinn, Review

Price point MSRP = $729.00 Retail = $350 to $550

I need it now! Availability:  These are readily available at any gunshop that stocks Smith & Wesson Firearms or you can also find many examples on

Our Rating +  The revolver is very small, and very concealable. +  It chambers .38 Special +P which is a fairly decent self-defense round. Some models also chamber .357 Magnum. +  It has stainless steel construction which offers some measure of corrosion resistance. +  For a small snub-nose revolver, it has surprising accuracy.

-  The gun recoils quite heavily when loaded with .357 Magnum rounds. -  The sights, while satisfactory for close up work, are lacking. They tend to wash out in bright sunlight, being made out of stainless steel. -  The gun only holds five shots, so you have to be comfortable with reloading and with the guns limitations.

Score: 8.0 Great!!!!80


Ryan Michad’s Links Handgun Radio



Ruger Redhawk


  By Ryan Michad

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame (What this product does best?) Rugged Reliability and Power

Target Market (Who does this product serve best?) Handgun Hunters, Silhouette Shooters, Big-Bore Revolver enthusiasts.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product)

Key Features Stainless Steel Construction Three Cylinder Locking Points Transfer Bar Safety Mechanism White Outline Rear Sight; Red Insert Front Sight Hunter Model Offers Mounting Points for Optics

Key Benefits The Hunter Model includes free scope rings

Does it come in black? The Ruger Redhawk comes in stainless steel only.

What others are saying? “The Ruger Redhawk is built to last a lifetime” -Jeff Quinn, Review

Price point (MSRP versus actual retail) MSRP = $989.00 to $1049.00 Retail = $500 to $800

I need it now! Availability (Where can I buy this TODAY?) These are readily available at any gunshop that stocks Ruger Firearms or you can also find many examples on

Our Rating +  The Trigger pull is AMAZING! I was very impressed with the smoothness of the action and the pull weight was not very heavy at all, but not too light. +  The gun balances well in the hand. +  The heavy weight of the pistol (54 oz.) helps soak up some of that .44 Magnum recoil. +  The built in provisions for scope mounting on the Hunter model are a real plus.

-  The heavy weight is both a plus and a minus.  You would want a good holster to carry this in the field all day. -  The rubber grips that came on it did not allow me to hold the gun well. The factory wood grips helped me maintain control of the revolver much better.  Others may have a different experience.

Score: 8.5 Great!!!!85


Ryan Michad’s Links

Handgun Radio