Saturday, September 25, 2010

YHM Lightweight Railed Float Tube Review

YHM Rifle-Length Lightweight Tube on my RRA 16" 9mm Upper w/YHM wrench
Lots of holes, and the rails are milled out to cut weight.
I wanted another rifle-length quad-rail free-float tube to install on my 9mm upper, so that I could use the 9mm upper as a stand-in for training purposes. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Midwest Industries T-12 tube, because the rails didn’t seem to be true Picatinny-spec. I have to use a piece of a soda can as a shim to get the Vltor light mount to work with the MI handguard. I was told that YHM handguards are better in this respect, so I bought a YHM rifle-length tube to try out.

I tried the Vltor light mount on the YHM handguard, and it does indeed work properly without the silly shim. Everything else seems to fit fine on the YHM also.

I was afraid that the indexing/recoil lug on Larue mounts would not work with the milled-out rails, but the lug does still engage some of the rails on the lightweight tube. In .233Rem/5.56mm, there’s not enough recoil for the lug of the Larue mounts to really be necessary as a recoil lug.
Larue mount lugs just barely engages the milled-out rails
Along with the handguard, I ordered the YHM wrench. The YHM wrench has a spanner for the lock-ring at one end, and a barrel wrench at the other end. I would not count on using the YHM wrench to disassemble your upper, as you can’t apply much torque with it, although it may be enough to install the new barrel nut. I broke pins off my PRI barrel wrench trying to get the RRA upper apart (related post, PRI barrel nut wrench). When I got a new wrench back from PRI, it took a 3 foot length of pipe over my breaker bar before I finally got the barrel nut to come loose with a crack. The Model 1 Sales upper that I had taken apart before was almost as difficult to disassemble. The torque-spec for the barrel nut is more that 30 foot-pounds, but not more than 80 foot-pounds in order to get the hole or notch to line up properly with the hole in the upper for the gas tube. The RRA and Model 1 barrel nuts were likely overtorqued, the RRA in particular grossly overtorqued.

The YHM tool can not be used with a torque wrench, and would require a very large diameter pipe to use as a cheater bar for more leverage.

The YHM wrench works fine on the Midwest Industries lock-ring also, by the way.

Once I got the barrel nut/delta ring assembly, and front sight tower off the RRA upper, installing the new handguard was simple. It installs just like the MI handguard, except that it has two indexing screws, at 3 and 9 o’clock, instead of just one at 6 o’clock like the MI handguard. The barrel nuts of the YHM lightweight and MI T-Series handguards are nearly identical. The indexing screws for the YHM are slotted, where the MI handguard has allen-head socket screws. There were no tools or threadlocker included with the YHM handguard. The rail covers shown in some of my pictures were not included either.

The only minor issue I had was aligning the barrel nut so that the top rail of the handguard matched up with the rail on the upper. The 9mm upper is blow-back operated, and had no gas tube hole to use to align with the hole the barrel nut. If you are picky, it may take 2 or 3 tries to get the rails to line up just right, but the same is really true of most railed handguards.

The lightweight YHM does not give the full-length top rail effect. Although, as you can see in the photo below, the MI T-Series handguards don’t have a slot over the lockring anyway, so it really doesn’t make that much difference.
YHM Lightweight on Top, MI T-12 on Bottom
You may also note that the slots in the rails on the YHM lightweight tube are not marked ("T-Markings"). The center of the rails are milled out to save weight. This may be a problem for some.

The YHM lightweight handguards have holes at the front end for screwing in YHM’s sling mount. These holes are NOT QD sling swivel sockets for the swivels that release with a push-button. I believe that the top and bottom holes are for the YHM endcaps, and the holes on either side are for the YHM screw-in sling swivel studs, but don’t use either an endcap or a sling swivels, so I’m not really sure. Sling mounts and endcaps are sold separately.

I’m quite happy with the YHM Lightweight handguard. Depending on how the Spike’s Tactical slim handguard turns out, there’s a good chance that I may buy another YHM lightweight for my LMT 10.5” upper. I have no plans to buy another MI handguard until they start cutting the rails to proper Picatinny specifications.

EDIT 1/13/12:  I liked the 1st one so much, I got another for my Spike's 5.45mm upper.  When I decided to put a free-float, railed handguard on my SBR/pistol upper, I bought a mid-length lightweight handguard for that.  Yes, the Daniel Defense Lite handguard is slimmer, but I have not found the width of the YHM handguards to be a problem, and the YHM tubes are about a third the price of the DD Lite.  For me, it's an easy win for YHM.  Have not found anything yet that won't fit the YHM rails.

The Spike's slim handguard that I mentioned, comes with rail covers, and I think has QD sling sockets and an included sling swivel, but costs nearly what the DD Lite does.  I was tempted, but ultimately decided to skip it.

The free-float tubes with bolt-on rails have started to become popular.  My issue with these, is that when you start to bolt on more rail sections, they start to become heavier and more expensive than a quad rail handguard, while still lacking the versatility.  I also think they usually look sort of goofy, but maybe that's just me.

If you are looking for a YHM Lightweight handguard, Primary Arms has the cheapest prices that I have seen, so far, and service from them has been excellent.

Related Links:
Yankee Hill Machine Home Page

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beretta Neos Recall

Beretta U.S.A. Corp. has discovered a potential condition with Beretta .22 caliber NEOS semiautomatic pistols in which the pistol will fire even if the safety is activated and, in some cases, the pistols may fire if the safety is moved from the OFF to the ON position. Chances of either of these situations occurring is extremely remote and no injuries have occurred because of this condition, however, because of safety concerns relating to this situation, Beretta U.S.A. Corp. is immediately implementing a recall of Beretta .22 caliber NEOS semiautomatic pistols. For more information, download a pdf copy of the Recall Notice.
Emphasis Beretta's

Link to Beretta Neos Recall page. Check to see if your Neos may be effected.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 Grand Opening Coupon

If you're like me, the idea of buying ammo 20 or 50, or even 100 at a time is pretty laughable. When I buy ammo, it usually 500 or more rounds at a time.

Well, there's a new bulk ammo website, and they have some decent prices, and they are running a grand opening coupon promotion.

The website is

Use coupon code "GrandOpening" to get $25 off your first order over $200.

The have some decent prices on buckshot, slugs, Tula and Federal .223, and they Winchester Ranger hollowpoints in .40S&W and 9mm (115gr). There may be some other good deals, but those are just some of the items I've priced recently. They even have some oddball stuff like 158gr 9mm Subsonic, and lead-free ammo. If you want to try out a single box, you can do that too, it's not all 500 and 1000 round cases.

I'm seriously considering putting in an order for buckshot, slugs, and some .38Spl FMJ reloads. And maybe some Tula .223 to put away, and .22s, and . . .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Movie Review: El Mariachi

Since Robert Rodriguez' Machette just opened (I think), and I just rewatched his first feature length film, I guess this is a good time to post a review of this movie that few have even heard of.

El Mariachi is the first film in the Rodriguez Mariachi trilogy, with Desperado being the 2nd, and Once Upon A Time In Mexico the third. It doesn't look like there's a Mariachi character in Machette, though I haven't seen it yet. The Wikipedia entry says El Mariachi was intended for the Mexican video market (it was filmed in Spanish), and never shown in theaters in the U.S., as far as I can tell.

El Mariachi was filmed in Mexico, with unknown actors, for only $7000, which I didn't know until doing a little research for the review. There's not a lot in the way of special effects, aside from some blank guns and the singing scenes being overdubbed, but I didn't notice any bad acting from the cast. I would not have guessed that the movie only cost $7000 to make.

The mariachi (who's never named) walks into town with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a guitar. He stops into a bar, looking for work, and orders a soda, but this bar already has a musician. The bar's musician is dozing in the corner. With a whistle from the bartender, the house musician quickly sets up a synthesizer and plays for El Mariachi, flashes a smug look at the wandering musician, and then just as quickly goes back to dozing.

Our mariachi pays for his soda and moves on to the next bar in town.

The man, who you see at the very beginning of the move breaking out of jail, walks into the bar just as the mariachi is walking out. He asks if the men sitting around in the bar are Moco’s men, which they are, and proceeds to wipe out everyone in the bar, except for the bartender.

The movie cuts back to out mariachi sitting down at bar #2, and he orders another soda. The bartender, a woman, gives him a hard time about ordering a soft drink. The mariachi explains that he’s a singer and that he doesn’t want to harm his voice, and tells her that he’s looking for work. She explains that she can’t afford to pay him, and he more or less storms out, depressed and upset, having struck out again.

The mariachi continues on to a cheap motel. The hotel manager tips off the local drug dealer (Maurice, a.k.a. Moco), that a man dressed in black, carrying a guitar case has just checked it. The man Moco is looking for is Azul, the one who broke out of jail and killed 6 of his men in the bar.

The mariachi, caught up in a case of mistaken identity, runs out of the motel, into the streets of town, and manages to evade the hit squad, and kills four of them in the process. I'm not sure how the musician learned how to handle a MAC-10 so well, but whatever.

Not knowing where else to go, I suppose, not knowing anyone else in town, he ducks into bar #2, and explains what just happened. The bartender, who identifies herself as Domino, takes pity on him, and has him hide out in her room upstairs. It’s not long before one of Moco’s men comes in and asks about a man in black, with a guitar case full of weapons. Domino tells the man that she doesn’t know anything about the guy in black, and he leaves. So then, she goes upstairs and gets the mariachi by the balls, literally, until she discovers that what he has in the guitar case is. . . really a guitar.

Domino explains to the mariachi that the bar was a given to her by Moco. Moco’s been trying to buy her love for quite a while.

So now everybody’s on the same page. . . except for Moco’s men, who don’t really know what Azul looks like. Only Moco himself has seen Azul. Between the 6 men killed by Azul in the bar shooting, and the 4 that the mariachi killed in self-defense in the streets of town, Moco is now down 10 men. Moco doesn't know know the mariachi is in town, and assumes that it's Azul who killed all 10.

There’s another run in, between Moco’s men and the mariachi in the town. Azul grabs Domino, who the mariachi has fallen in love with, and takes her at gunpoint to Moco’s hacienda, trying to get the money he’s owed. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you and spell out the 2nd half of the plot.

Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico do refer back to parts of El Mariachi.

If you like super-happy fairy tale endings, you will be disappointed. Personally, I like the ending.

So, for a very-low-budget made-for-video movie, it's definitely not bad. If you really liked Desperado and/or Once Upon A Time In Mexcio, this movie will give you the backstory on the main character.

The action is mostly limited to a couple of scenes, and they're not anything like the lobby scenes of The Matrix or Terminator 2. It's a lot more like No Country For Old Men.

There are a few sort of silly moments. The hotel manager and the synthesizer musician move in fast-motion for comic effect, sort of like a scene out of a episode of The Benny Hill Show.

With the exception of the musician's uncanny knack for self-defense, it's a good movie and worth picking up. The version I watched was dubbed in English, but the ones I see for sale now are only in Spanish with English subtitles, which I know some will argue is actually better. Either way, if you can find a copy of the movie on DVD for less than $10 (there's many showing in Amazon's Marketplace), I'd say it's worth buying. You can also buy the Mariachi trilogy as a set.