Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Gunday: the Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag

Faithful readers will no doubt recall that I have been in search a method to tame the bucking and jumping -- "muzzle whip," I believe it's been called -- of my Mosin-Nagant. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, I have a big nasty Russian rifle that's as tall as I am, and fires a cartridge with enough recoil that it'll put hair on your chest.)

My particular problem with my Mosin isn't its 7.62x54R cartridge and the beefy recoil. In fact, I rather like the attention I get when other people are pop-pop-popping at the range and suddenly there's a tremendous BOOM! from my cannon. No, what bugged me was the way that, after each shot, the muzzle of my rifle would leap about a foot into the air (but was probably only a few inches) and come down in an entirely different place, forcing me to find my target all over again. While this isn't much of a problem at 25 or 50 yards, it's pretty significant at 100.

After doing some research, I was informed that this muzzle whip was probably caused by, or at least exacerbated by, the lightweight ATI stock that I owned. I reasoned, therefore, that if the problem was not enough mass in the stock then I could solve the problem by adding more mass back. The question, therefore, was how?

The answer is this: the Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag. ($60.95 + S&H)

This is basically an oversized purse fitted with MOLLE straps and an extra-wide carry strap. But what makes this handy are those two protrusions up top. The Armadillo is meant to serve as a shooting bag as well, and it works by supporting the rifle when you place the fore-end of the rifle between those two cushions. This is supposed to give a stable shooting surface, like a bipod, and also prevent side-to-side rocking.

If you're wondering, "Erin, I don't see how this solves your problem," you're well ahead of the curve. The fact is, it doesn't solve my problem -- or at least, it doesn't solve it in its stock formation. Time to modify!

A bag, inside a bag, inside a bag. I think I'll call this "Inception."

I said I needed mass, right? I want you guys to know that this bag is just the right size and shape to hold a 20-pound sandbag. It even has a lovely drawstring hood to help keep any errant bits of sand from leaking out. (Although, Protip: Place the sandbag in a heavy-duty plastic trash bag for extra insurance.)

All right, there's the mass, but how did I anchor it to the rifle?

Like this.

Through a cunning series of straps that I improvised. It's hard to tell, but trust me when I tell you that those straps aren't supposed to be there. The buckles on the left are supposed to help anchor the lid to the body of the bag, in case, I dunno, the zipper isn't strong enough or something. But let me tell you, sweetheart, that I didn't have any trouble keeping the lid closed, and I had a freaking sandbag in it when I toted it to the range.

This is the finished configuration, with the rifle securely lashed to 20 pounds of dead weight. I can tell you with absolute certainty that, affixed to this, my rifle doesn't buck any more. It just pushes straight back, like proper recoil. (And if it starts to move, I can always increase the weight. This bag easily holds 1,000 rounds of 9mm plus some .22LR.)

No doubt some of you are wondering why I have a bipod on the rifle if it's strapped to the bag. That's a very good question! The answer is that I couldn't get the sandbag to make a completely even top surface, what with the tie-down and the plastic bag and the drawstring, so the bipod is there to make sure my rifle is level. It's a bit belt-and-suspenders, I grant you, but the only thing I wanted that bag for was as a MOLLE-encrusted anchor, and believe me it delivers in that regard.

So, yes. The Voodoo Tactical Armadillo Bag. I can't rate it for what it's supposed to be, because I'm not using it like that, but it works very, very well in its new role. Voodoo Tactical makes their bags tough enough to survive the horrible things I do to them.

Doctor Frankenstein says:  A+

FTC Notice: I bought this product with my own money, so neener.


  1. Have you considered a muzzle break?

  2. Yeah, that counts as a mass.   Sort of a homebrew Ransom rest.  Minus the remote trigger activation.

    I guess you could see how much you could reduce the sand to see the minimum you need to keep it from bucking.

    As you say this works, but at the cost of one whole stone in -well-  stone.

  3. My advice: get a proper sling and learn proper use. I think you'd be amazed how much more accurately you can shoot, and how much easier it is to ride the recoil, with a proper sling and shooting position. Check out an Appleseed if you can find one, or come visit NY. ;-)

  4. Also, while that rig unquestionably helps with recoil, it is not doing hardly anything for barrel whip.  Barrel whip gets worse and worse the farther down the barrel you go, and given that your weight is attached at what is basically the breech of the barrel, it will not be stabilizing the twist at all.  

    That said, I can totally see how it would help with recoil, but you might want to check your optic mount periodically to ensure it does not get twisted off by the straps.  

  5. I have. But mine is a 91/30, not an M44, so the bolt-on brakes have a tendency to break off and fly downrange. If I were to get a brake I'd need to have the muzzle threaded and possibly have the brake brazed into place. I don't like being unable to mount the bayonet and I *really* don't like the idea of doing something permanent to the rifle. 

  6. I can say with absolute certainty I experienced no whip. The straps, in addition to keeping the receiver mated to the bag, also help to tension the cushions against the sides. The only motion I felt was backwards. 

    And while I will be checking, I don't think I have anything to worry about with my optic mount. It's secured to the receiver through the front sight housing. 

  7. Oleg keeps threatening to come visit me in the fall. If that happens, maybe I can get him to teach me proper sling technique. 

  8. What?  No practice ammo?

  9. Well, of course I shot with it, but I was focused more on how the gun performed than the trajectory of the bullets. I was also testing other things -- like the ring safety at the end of the bolt -- but I'm still waiting to hear back from the manufacturer. 

  10. You do not experience whip generally.  The bullet does.  :)

    "Whip" is what happens when a small metal object moving thousands of feet per seconds interfaces with a fixed metal tube with rifling on the inside.  As Newton says, both parties in that relationship are affected by the interface, and as the bullet is being spun up, it is likewise trying to counter-spin the barrel.  

    Obviously the barrel is heavier and more "fixed" than the bullet, so the bullet mostly loses that exchange, but the "mostly" is key, especially with firearms with barrels as thin as the Mosin's.  The barrel still torques as the bullet goes whizzing through it, and your aim is thrown a little off.  

    This is one of the reasons people use those stupid-massive "bull barrels" for long-distance shooting, and why putting the bayonet on the end of your Mosin helps (adds more weight farther out the lever arm).  

  11. makes about as much sense as any use i've seen for a man-purse.

  12. The issue is technique. Are you shooting prone, seated from a rest, or what?

    If prone, do some reading on what your body position should be behind the rifle. The right position will have the rifle return to the same spot, which is on target, every time. A sling helps you hold steady in prone, but correct body position so that your Natural Point of Aim (where the rifle wants to naturally point due to how your body is lined up) coincides with where yu want the rounds to go, will help even more.

    The same principle holds true for shooting kneeling, standing, or from the bench.

  13. I've owned two Mosin-Nagants, an M44 and a 91/30.  Your solution is pretty interesting, but you can get wood sporter stocks for them too, and that would work much better at adding mass to help tame the recoil.  I like the 91/30 issue stock just because it is heavier.  I have an Ishapore L2A in an ATI Stock--I"m looking and pricing an issue stock for a Numbe 3 enfield, as they are interchangable and the ATI stock is a waste of plastic.


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