Showing posts with label Project Upgrade AR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Project Upgrade AR. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Magnified Optics on Fighting Rifles


Saw this video and found it to be interesting. As a general rule I like 1 magnification red dot type optics for CQB type stuff. They are the fastest thing out there. The downside is they are not great at long range. In fairness you can HIT at fairly long ranges with them (say 300-400m) but the issue is target identification. As Peter noted in Thoughts on Combat Weapon Sights for Civilians this is significant. I'd really like to be sure what I am shooting at since as a Civilian I do not have the type of functional immunity that cops and soldiers who act semi reasonably (or not) tend to get.

Also while folks can often engage targets, albeit with limited identification, at distances beyond 200m almost everybody shoots better with magnification. Without a doubt I shoot project AR with a magnified optic a whole lot more precision than a red dot.

I used to have an ACOG but as affordable rugged optics like the MTAC (John tried like hell to break one and all it did was damage one of the adjustments) have come onto the market I think there are better options. My personal choice for an all around fighting rifle is a low to moderate variable magnification optic with an illuminated reticle. My MTAC is a 1-4x which acts a lot like a red dot up close. I keep it set at 1x but can crank it up to 4 if needed. They also make a 1.5-6x version that John Mosby has. If/ when I end up building another AR I'll likely go this route.

For a more designated marksmen type setup I would either get a scope that starts at a slightly higher power like a 3x9 or 4-12 or pay big money for a scope with a larger magnification range like a 2-8 or something.

Thoughts? What kind of optic is on your fighting rifle?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Importance of Spare Parts

I was working on project 870 this weekend. Darned if I didn't take it apart then fail to account for the shell pusher thingie that goes on the end of the spring. Yeah that is probably not the technical name. I realized this after disassembling the weapon and moving it around a time or two over about 3 days, so no way I was going to find that little orange cup.

After some cursing I went to my stash of spare parts and sure enough there was a replacement from a big purchase some years back. In fact it was the spiffy stainless steel van comp one. I got the gun put back together and it seems to be just fine.

While inconvenient that wasn't a huge deal, even if I didn't have the spare. Worst case I'd have just ordered another one and had it in a few days. At least in normal times.

At some point I remembered a similar thing happened during Project AR.Without spare parts on hand both of these guns would have been dead lined (though technically the AR would shoot) for parts that cost less than a 6 pack of craft beer.

That both of these parts losses occurred while guns were disassembled is not lost on me. I suspect more parts are lost that way then broken during use. As a take away you absolutely have to consider small parts that can get lost as well as pieces broken through use. Additionally I would be very careful about detailed stripping on guns in emergency situations. Like empty hard floored room with a white sheet careful.

Got spare parts?

Friday, January 24, 2014

RE: Debate: The Handgun as the Primary Weapon

Max Velocity wrote  Debate: The Handgun as the Primary Weapon.

Personally I think the conversation got too bogged down in the term "primary". The comments section was disjointed with people talking apples and oranges because they were all using generic terms like SHTF to describe different scenarios. I do not plan to weigh in on whether a handgun can be "the primary weapon". Instead I plan to discuss the times and circumstances where one might choose, if only by process of elimination, a handgun vs when they might choose a rifle.

Before we go any further it is worth noting that any firearms battery that is smaller than a basic 4 of handgun, shotgun, .22 rifle and a centerfire rifle is a compromise that is inevitably missing some important capability. One could take that a level further and include the next logical 3guns (dedicated CCW pistol like a 642 (presuming the first pistol is larger) or a baby Glock, a bolt gun if your first rifle is a semi auto or opposite if rifle #1 is a bolt gun and a .22 pistol) in that argument. Anyway this isn't a what to buy first discussion though I am on the record about that. Also a lot of that sort of discussion is touched on in my basic guns series.

For a home defense gun Chris Costa makes an interesting case for the utility of handguns.  Personally in our Sentry Safe Home Defender I keep a Glock 9mm with a light and a Project AR which has a light as well as Wifey's .38. Next to the safe sits my plate carrier and battle belt. In any case for home defense use whatever you prefer.

So when does a handgun make sense? A handgun makes sense all the time. I carry one as much as I am functionally and more or less legally able to do so.

To further define that question. So in what SHTF/ disaster type situations does being armed solely with a handgun make sense? Basically being out and about in any sort of situation on the continuum between normal everyday and Mad Max thunder dome time. This could include riots, natural disasters including large regional ones, economic collapses, etc all.  While my default answer to most problems is to avoid them by staying home that is not quite realistic. Say the figurative drunk driver that is our current economy takes a turn a bit slow then over corrects and ends up in the ditch. I am almost surely still going to work and will be seeking to continue purchasing food, etc all. In this case I might upgrade from the S&W 642 to a Glock with a light. Might add a couple extra mags to my belt or even stash a couple of those big 33rder's in a cargo pocket. I might even choose to wear soft body armor or a stripped plate carrier. However I'm not going to get away with walking into the store to buy $20 milk and $5 banana's with an AR-15. I'll keep the AR handy at home and might even start keeping a long gun in our vehicle but when I part and go to do errand's it is going to be the pistol that I'm relying on to defend myself.

Conversely when is a rifle useful during a SHTF type scenario? Well they are always handy things to have around the house. For fun shooting as well as a handy capability to throw accurate hate down on somebody multiple football fields away nothing beats a rifle.

Having one at home is handy. Having one in a vehicle can be quite comforting. I like my odds against the EBT deprived hordes much better if my AR and battle belt are sitting under an old blanket in the floor of the back seat. 

When would a person carry a rifle around? I have heard of people doing it during various Hurricanes. Folks doing neighborhood watch type patrols armed with long guns during Katrina and the like. We all know the Korean grocers found rifles and shotguns pretty handy during the LA Riots.


Obviously in your Red Dawn/ Mad Max/ Civil War type scenarios rifles are pretty darn important. If you are in a fight with a person who has a rifle and have anything less capable you are at a real disadvantage. Also a rifles range is pretty darn handy. At this point the odds are you won't be going many places anyhow. The issue of taking my AR to the grocery store is moot if the store is empty and closed down if not burned. Also if things genuinely got that bad folks would probably carrying guns a lot more anyhow.

In conclusion.

1)You genuinely need a pistol. Right now the hard truth is that it is the weapon you are most likely to defend yourself with given that it can be readily carried outside of your home/ property.

2)There are many realistic situations where even though you might WANT to carry a rifle you will not be able to do so. One could argue these numerous realistic situations are more likely and more of a concern than the largely apocalypse porn fiction based  'Mad Max without rule of law shit hit the fan time'.

3) All of that being said you do need a rifle. Look at it like this. Most of us probably carry a folding type knife to do normal everyday tasks. However sometimes that knife will not cut it and we need a big butcher knife. The butcher knife is the rifle. You don't need it very often but when you need it you really need it. However while you do need to own the butcher knife you don't need to carry it around all the time to open envelopes and cut string, that is what your folder is for.

You need a rifle to TRAIN now while you still have the chance. If the day comes when you need to grab a rifle and a chest rig/ battle belt to go protect home and hearth then no other gun will substitute and the pistol takes a much less important role.

Thoughts?


Monday, December 30, 2013

Quote of the Day and Discussion

"I don’t (necessarily) have a safe full of handguns because I'm awaiting the end of the world, I have them because I’m awaiting the end of my ability to acquire them."
-Commander Zero

Something Zero said awhile back has stuck with me. "What if the stuff (specifically guns/ mags/ ammo/ parts but I guess it could be whatever) I have now IS ALL I AM EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET?"

Honestly the need to stock guns uuber deep for some SHTF scenario is in my mind iffy. Aside from the ability to have weapons cached or in different kits multiple redundant guns do not play much of a role in my SHTF preps. That I could dig out rifle #3 to defend my home is a moot point (beyond arming another person) in my mind. More likely than not I'm coming home with rifle #1 Project AR, plus maybe some other guys stuff or on my back.

However lets say life went on without some Max Max collapse but for whatever reason I was unable to acquire more guns (etc) in the future. Could be a ban or an economic collapse that made a used Glock worth 2 months wages at a good job or whatever.

Unlike some end of the world scenario there is a distinct possibility I could be alive and kicking but suddenly without a gun/ magazine/ etc. Things happen. A gun falls in a creek, your truck gets broken into, the cabin where you store your hunting guns burns down, etc all. Say I'm that guy who has ONE mag for their gun. Mags can be lost or misplaced and even with the best accountability and maintenance they are a product designed to wear out and be replaced. That single mag for my sweet 1911 is now gone and I am screwed. I'm either going to live without one or pay dearly for another potentially dealing with shady characters or taking legal risks to get a replacement.

I bought my first firearms during the 1994-2004 AWB. I chose a Glock because I'm a smart guy. Ended up disregarding the 9mm because full capacity mags were unobtanium unless you had em prior to the ban. A friend of mine had ONE full cap factory mag that he paid $160 or something silly for. The full sized .45 model 21 was a bit big for my hand (they didn't make the SF model yet, which are nice) so I got a .40. Figured with a limit of 10 I might as well get bigger bullets. In hindsight I could have bought a Beretta 92 and got reasonably priced milsurp mags but I digress.

The years went by and thankfully that silly ban went away. I picked up some mags.

More time went by and I became a full fledged survivalist. I got to working an adult job and had some cash to spare. Around that time President Obama became the President elect and the last round of gun ban madness happened. I swore to myself that I would not let myself be in the position I was in 2004 again. I didn't control when I was born so nothing I could do about the first AWB but if I got caught in a second one it was really just my fault. So over time I spent some cash. A spare mag here, a dozen there, a Glock for my birthday, a case of ammo there, Project AR, etc all. While I'm not where I want to be the odds I will find myself without any sort of handgun, shotgun, .22 or rifle are very low.

My wife stays at home with our kids and while I make a decent living it is nothing amazing. If I can put some mags, ammo and even extra guns away over time with some sacrifice and planning the odds are most of you can too. Note that empowering sentence included the words sacrifice and planning.

Friday, October 18, 2013

John Mosby Talks Iron's vs Optics

Optics Options For The Fighting Rifle

Interestingly I have been around the Army long enough to see the transition first from iron's to Aimpoints and \then to ACOG's. With Aimpoints people shot about the same at distance and much faster up close. With ACOG's folks shot about the same up close and better at distance. Aside from occasional anecdotes where somebody failed to zero the optic before shooting for whatever reason nobody shot worse.

As to ruggedness/ reliability optics have come a really long way over the GWOT period. EOTech's, Aimpoints (probably the most rugged of the bunch) and ACOG's are almost indestructible. Not saying they never break but rifles break as much or more often than the optics on top of them.

For a do everything type rifle a low to medium variable power optic is an excellent option. I like basically having a red dot up close and the ability to magnify for improved target selection as needed.

I really like the Burris MTAC. If money was no object I might get a fancier brand but this scope works great. Next time around I'll probably go with the 1.5x6 version to get a bit more top end magnification.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reader Question: Rucking Weights, Fighting vs Approach March Loads, Afghanistan, etc

Rucking 101 Part 2 Training Plans got a comment that I thought was worth replying to on the main page:
I question the sense, even the rationality of trying to train up to the military 65 lb load. Training should have a purpose. What is the purpose of the 65 lb load? The military does it? So effing what. The military is losing in Afghanistan to poorly trained, poorly equipped light infantry in part because those heavy loads give the Taliban the choice of when to engage. And then when they do engage our troops carrying 65 pounds of gear cannot catch them when they disengage. The bulk and weight of the loads, to a great extent, limits our troops to roads and trails where they can be ambushed or hit with ieds. So why would you want to copy the military when what the military does doesn't work?

Ryan here: I am going to ignore the slightly condescending tone of the reply  so we will just stick to the issue at hand. First I have to say the plan I pretty blatantly stole is the brainchild of John Mosby. I am not going to try putting words into his mouth; all thoughts that follow are my own. In no particular order here we go:

-Let's talk about system levels first.

Level 1 is your survival load. I everyday carry mine.

Level 2 is a fighting load. A way you carry plenty of ammo, some water, a bit of food and medical stuff, etc. Level 2 can vary widely in weight depending on whether or not you choose to wear body armor. Even a stripped down set of plates with a plate carrier weights in the fifteen to seventeen pound range. Add side plates and it will be more. Choose a full on vest with class IIIA soft armor, side plates and front/ back plates and it's going to be more like 30 pounds.This is also called a fighting load.

Level 3 is a subsistence load. This will have food, shelter, water, spare clothes, ammo, etc all. This is a rucksack or something similar. It is also called an approach march load.

-Where you confuse things is by arbitrarily linking 65 pounds being the end weight of this program with what you perceive to be soldiers fighting loads in Afghanistan. These two things are entirely unrelated in my mind.

-As to taking lessons from our combat forces. Who else would you propose taking them from?

-To the single point issue of whether soldiers loads in our current operational environment, particularly high altitude mountainous Afghanistan are too heavy. One can make a legitimate argument, as I noted a couple years back in Thoughts on Insurgencies #1 that the current focus on wearing heavy protective equipment no matter what decreases mobility. Years and a trip to Afghanistan later I would argue in particular that it greatly limits our ability to do the long multi day presence/ movement to contact type patrols and SKT/ ambushes that would really deny the Taliban safe haven everywhere an MRAP/ Cougar can't drive. This means the Taliban have functional control of these areas only needing to worry about SOF types occasionally popping out of the sky to hit an HVT. Day to day that terrain and it's populace are theirs. You just can't haul enough stuff to survive for 3-4 days and wear full on body armor.

If I were El Supremo General Ryan I would delegate authority to forgo protective gear in order to increase mobility to the Company Commander, with review by the first 0-5 in the chain of command which is typically the Battalion Commander. Moving on.

-Beyond that to the larger question of whether our overall success, or very arguable lack thereof in Afghanistan can be attributed to our troops efforts (or even more arbitrarily the weight of their fighting loads).  One could argue that seperating military and political objectives is arbitrary. After all as Clausewitz said "War is a continuation of politics by other means".

The conditions determined to be success and by implication failure, as well as the limits of troops and force allowed being defined by civil leadership largely put success in a venture such as Afghanistan into the political spectrum. For example, our soldiers could stop the Taliban in a couple weeks simply by killing the known bad guys and their major supporters without waiting to catch them in the act with evidence that can convict them and subsequently gathering intel to go kill their buddies but it would not be pretty. In fact it would probably remind one of The Battle of Algiers.

Of course any legitimate effort to route the Taliban would need to include significant incursions if not outright occupation of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal areas. Taking it a step further our military would be quite capable of killing every human being in Afghanistan to end the problem that way. However we are not as a society willing to accept those costs; which is probably a good thing.

In closing on this point I'd argue our soldiers are doing a decent, though inherently less than perfect, job in pursuit of what could be argued to be an inadequately resourced, poorly defined and unrealistic, out right fantasy based often changing end state.

-You mentioned training having a purpose. So let us work backwards in terms of how much weight one might want to train up to carrying.

My fighting load including M4agery weights in around 20 pounds. Toss in body armor and it is closer to 35-40.

My sustainment load AKA BOB weights about 42 pounds (wet).

Carrying a light (sans armor) fighting load and my BOB puts me right around the 65 pound weight hack. I don't worry to much about a full on load out of fighting kit, armor and ruck. The reason is I can't see myself realistically carrying that for a prolonged period.  Where I can see myself sucking under a ruck is in some situation trying to get home. Often for long trips I toss my BOB and a rifle into our vehicle. Walking home a long distance would suck but it is my realistic walking worst case scenario.

The point I am trying to get at here is that 65 pounds is not out a crazy weight for a multi day sustainment load and some fighting gear. Instead of being an arguably bloated fighting load it is a lean fighting load and enough stuff to somewhat comfortably live for 3-4 days in realistic field conditions. Really add up the stuff and if your weights come across drastically different I'd recheck the packing list.

While not intentionally planned 65 pounds is just about right for me. Knowing John Mosby that probably isn't a happy coincidence. If you do the same math as I just did and come up with a drastically different weight then adjust accordingly.

That being said as one wise commenter noted "If you can carry 65 you can definitely carry 35" so maybe training hard even if you do not plan to haul a heavy pack has some wisdom after all.

Anyway that's my thinking on that. Hope it helps or entertains somebody.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life Update

Baring any sort of cataclysmic issues in the next few days Wifey and the kids are headed home this weekend which is excellent. Our time in Arizona is winding down. In a couple weeks or so we will be out of here. I have mixed feelings about that. We like it down here a lot but getting to a place where we will be stable for awhile will be nice.

There are a lot of things you don't do in a temporary (say under a year though this was really close to that) place. Painting or any sort of home modifications are pretty much out. Also you just don't put in that much effort to really get settled in, make friends, etc all. This is also sort of self defeating. You do/ don't do things because it is a short term place; so it feels even more short term.

Socially we got some good family time which was nice. That was sadly disrupted by the trip home that never ended. We got a dog which was probably a mistake but at least it was a fun one. Being back in America is pretty awesome so that has been good.

In terms of preparations some good things happened. I built a nice rifle. We stashed some food. Got a lot of work done towards our systems. Overall some solid prep work was done so that was cool.

Anyway in conjunction with the move not a ton is going to happen with preps for a bit. I'll still be writing but doing less stuff generally means a bit less fuel to make for interesting writing. I suppose in all long ventures (somewhere around 6 years I think) there are ebbs and flows.

So that is what's going on. Please excuse me, it is time to make a monster taco salad, except without all the really unhealthy stuff.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Range Report: Burris MTAC Dialed In!

This morning I had some plans so woke up fairly early. Things sort of fell apart so I came home to get myself together. Decided to grab some stuff then go shooting. My only real goal was to get the Burris MTAC on Project AR zeroed at 100 meters. Max Velocity likes the 100 meter zero. Personally while the 100 is a fine option I favor the 50 meter zero. However since the BDC on my scope is based on a 100 meter zero that is just what makes sense.

Got to the range and it was a ghost town. It was full this morning but I guess nobody felt like shooting outside in the desert in July. Anyway the couple people there cleared out pretty quickly so I had the whole place to myself. Since I was the only guy shooting the Rangemaster said it was fine for me to shoot a group, go check, repeat as needed. So I was able to it really dialed in which was great.

After a couple rounds to get used to the BDC I put 3/4's of a mag into the 300m steel without a miss. The 400 was a bit hit and miss but that is much more me than the gun. For my purposes as a practical defensive rifle I am pretty happy with where things are. Need to work on the chuckle head behind the gun with some good training but that is another discussion.

Now I'm at home drinking water to rehydrate. Shooting is fun. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Basic Gun Variations

I have talked about the basic 4 (rifle, pistol, .22, shotgun) before. My basic 4 would be Project AR, a 9mm Glock 19, a Remington 870 and a Ruger 10/22. We also did our Basic Guns series. A person who went that way would get a good used  revolver in .38 or .357 mag, a pump shotgun in 12 gauge, a decent .22 and some sort of rifle like a Mosin Nagant, Bolt 30'06 or lever 30-30.

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about some possible variations from the general basic 4 theme. I have a hard time going below the basic 4 setup and anything less than 3 has some definite limitations but not everyone has the same needs. Here are some possible combinations of between 2-4 guns that will potentially meet different needs. In no particular order here we go:

Defensive Minimalist:  The setup is a handgun like a .38 or 9mm and a pump 12 gauge with an 18.5-21 inch barrel. This person thinks it is prudent to have weapons around but is not a hunter or shooting enthusiast.This person has a pistol for the house or CCW and a shotgun in case of a break in or there is some sort of riot or disaster. Realistically for a normal person who doesn't hunt or shoot this setup is sufficient. The downside is that Joe cannot really reach out and touch somebody if needed and the lack of a .22.

Guerilla: AR-15 and Glock 9mm. To me both choices are very clear (especially the AR in 5.56 due to logistics) though other semi automatic pistol and a military pattern rifle combinations could work. A good ole 7.62x39 AK 47 and an M&P .40 or a mighty .308 'Battle Rifle" and a .45acp 1911 would be fine also though the logistics would be a bit harder. The downside is that Mr Wanna Be G really needs a .22 and the versatility of a shotgun would be nice also.

Joe 6 Pack Hunter: Joe has a centerfire hunting rifle, could be a .243 or a .308 or whatever depending on the environment and the game he hunts. He has a full sized revolver like a .357 mag or .44. and a .22 rifle. Joes rifle does hunting duty and his revolver is carried in the woods and serves as a house or truck gun. (Note If Joe is in bird territory his 3rd gun would be a shotgun instead of a .22lr.) The downside is Joes big ole wheel gun is too big to realistically conceal and he could use the versatility of a shotgun.

Dave Canterburyesque Woodsman: A Mosin Nagant M44 in 7.62x54R, a 12 gauge single shot or pump shotgun and a .22lr revolver.The downside of this setup is that it lacks a center fire pistol, also if you go the single shot 12 gauge route there is not a viable close quarters (under 50 meters) defensive weapon present.

Defensive/ Tactical Well Set Up: CCW pistol, tactical pistol (both compatible ex Glock 9mm M&P .40, etc), AR-15, precision rifle. The main downside of this setup is not having a .22lr.

Anyway those are some possible variations of the Basic 4. They all have strengths as well as downsides that may work well for different people. Also it is Friday gun rambling day so this is time to talk guns. Your thoughts are always welcome.




Rail Discussion Continued

Well I did a bit more research into the rail issue. Turns out the Troy rail I was looking at is not in production yet. The folks at Troy were real good about responding promptly and giving me good information. It will be available in 'mid summer'. So that is a viable option. However I got to thinking.

Got to looking at replacing the gas block and putting on a real rail. The issue now is that I have a full gas block/ front sight post and a pinned// welded muzzle device. The only way's to replace the gas block are to cut it off and put on a 2 piece gas block or cut off the muzzle device. Since it's a Battle Comp cutting is a no go. Honestly I messed up and should have done this to begin with. So that leaves the Gas Block. Did some research and it looks like cutting off the front sight portion to essentially make your own low profile gas block is not too difficult and is done pretty often. Honestly the worst case is I end up cutting off the gas block and replace it with a 2 piece which was  the better of the initial options anyway. Going to sleep on it but plan to do that and put a standard VTAC rail on it. The only question is 11' or 13".

Cost will be cheaper if I get a basic front BUIS (which I do not plan to do) about the same if I go with a fixed troy front sight with trijicon or $40 more of I get a folding one with Trijicon. I definitely made a mistake and should have done this earlier, it's the setup I want. The mistake based on my ignorance about this stuff will probably cost me $100 or so, not the end of the world.

Anyway I'll sleep on it then baring new information pull the trigger on the order pretty soon.

Thoughts?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Project AR Completion: AR-15 Rail Questions

So I'm looking for a free floating drop in rail to finally finish Project AR. Looking for a free floating drop in rail for a mid length AR with the existing standard front sight post. Do not like or need a full quad rail, in fact I prefer the ones with a full top rail where you can bolt (or otherwise attach) small sections of rail to fit needed accessories.

The first and most obvious answer is the Troy Delta Rail. Another option that came to my attention recently was the Samson Evolution, though installation while not a full on gunsmith task will be more problematic than the Troy. After watching the installation video for the Samson I am leaning hard towards the Troy.

If there are any other options that meet my rather complicated criteria (mid length, free floating, compatible with existing front sight post/ gas block, not a huge quad rail) please enlighten me. Also if you have first hand experience with either of the two models mentioned please share it with me.

Edited to include: Little problem. The Troy rail that would be prefect, though listed in their catalog and having a 'buy now' button, actually do not exist yet. They are currently being engineered.

-Ryan

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DBAL I2 Initial Impressions and Night Vision Stuff

Night vision is not cheap. This PVS-14 and DBAL I2 in this picture cost as much as a nice enduro motorcycle or a decent used car. If you can afford it they are an excellent combination. If there is no way you can make that work I would not feel bad about it. You could rock trijicon night sights and surefire lights or consider cheaper Gen 1 night vision. They probably offer 20-25% of the capability (with IR illuminators) at roughly the similar fraction of cost. I can not in good conscience endorse Gen 1 night vision but it probably beats no night vision.

Shown aside the NOD is my DBAL I2 IR/ visible red laser. It showed up a week or so back. The laser also comes with a green vis option for about $200 more. I have heard green lasers can be seen much better/ further by a smart gal named Brigid. Honestly have no use for a vis laser on a fighting rifle so I saw no need to pay more money. For no particular reason put it on a shelf then left it there. Got to fiddling with it a bit today. Will do a brief version of the usual format.

Good: Seems like a quality piece of kit. It is a quality unit with a nice sturdy looking attachment method (though I would zip tie it in place to be safe). A few youtube videos showed that it returns to zero fairly well. I like that it comes in tan. Once the rail is on my rifle will be painted but taking a rattle can to a $800 laser isn't something I like the idea of. So tan is good enough for me.

As to effectiveness of the civilian legal class 1 lasers I can not yet say. A quick net search says dudes are smoking pigs past 200m with DBALs so I think it'll be good enough for me. 

The Bad: It runs on a CR-123 which isn't perfect but most lasers I have seen run on them. That battery is one we stock anyway so it's not a huge deal. Do need to pick up another dozen of them though.

Also getting the battery cap screwed on (to install the battery) was a hassle. Maybe mine is odd or it will break in a bit, however it took me 5 minutes to screw the darn cap on after putting the battery in.

The Ugly: I was under (in hindsight I'm not exactly sure why but I digress) the impression that the vis and IR lasers were slaved. Slaved lasers adjust together so zeroing the vis laser would zero the IR. This is not the case, the lasers definitely adjust separately. This makes for a big hassle in that I have to get out and zero the laser at night. Civilian ranges where you can shoot at night are few and far between. To zero an IR laser I'm going to need a fairly known distance and a very stable rest. A bit more complicated than just confirming a zero with a couple rounds shot at a rock way out in the desert. Granted this will be a one time hassle but it will be a hassle for sure.

In the next few days I will order a rail for the AR. If I wasn't mounting a laser I wouldn't bother with the rail. Well now I am so I need to. Personally I bought the laser first as rail's aren't going anywhere. A troy rail will soon be put on my rifle which will be shortly followed by painting and finally Project Upgrade AR will be finished. [Though I would like to get a BCM lower, for no particular reason, just so everything matches.]

When zeroing lasers there are a couple important things to remember. First the adjustments are opposite iron sights or a scope. Instead of moving the point of impact (the hole the bullet makes AKA POI ) to the point of aim (where your sights point AKA POA) you are moving the laser to meet the impact of the bullet. So adjustments are opposite. Example instead of adjusting right 10 clicks to make the bullet impact (POI) on the bullseye (POA) you are adjusting the laser left 10 clicks to make it meet the strike of the bullet.

There are two fundamental options when zeroing a laser. You can have it zeroed for a given distance or parallel. The plus side of a laser zeroed for a given distance is that it is dead on (perfect POA/POI) for that distance. The downside is that it is off to varying degrees at every other distance. Imagine two chop sticks, one is laid over the other at a gentle angle. The further you get away from the converging point the further the chop sticks get from each other. This options would make sense if for whatever reason you know you will shoot at a given distance. The other option is parallel. Think train tracks. If a laser is an inch above and 3/4's inch to the left of the muzzle it will stay there. So at 10 meters it will be an inch up and 3/4's inch left, same at 50 or 100 meters. This is the method used by our Army, at least in my experience. [Of course bullets do not fly strait. However at the ranges it would matter (past 300m for 5.56) you are probably not going to hit a whole lot at night anyway so I would argue that it doesn't matter.] I would rather have the laser consistently an inch up and 3/4 inch right all the time than perfect at one point and off an unknown distance for the rest.

Anyway that's my initial impression of the DBAL I2.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Range Report: Burris MTAC, Retesting Problems and Glock 19 Fun

Got out to the range today. It can get a little busy on the weekends and for the kind of stuff I have been doing (typically zeroing) doesn't work real well. However I got off work surprisingly early today and figured it would be an awesome time to go shooting. Since I had a little bit of range ammo lying around plus time to kill so why not?

On the way I stopped by the local shop for some targets and they had a single box of 9mm ball. Grabbed it and upgraded the Glock fun time. They also had some Tula .223 and I grabbed 3 boxes to replace what I planned to shoot today. That will be next time's range ammo. 

Got out there and the place was very quiet.  Not sure if it's an off day or whatever. The Rangemaster said he doesn't think anybody has ammo to go shooting. Probably has a point there. I can see that angle. Personally I went there very lightly loaded with just 60 rounds of .223 and 75 rounds of 9mm (would have been 25 except for the gun store find). My primary goal was to test fire 1 gun and confirm the zero on Project AR, just tossed some 9mm in for fun.

I'm just loving the Burris MTAC. Being able to run what amounts to a red dot (very close to probably 1.1ish)  for close stuff then zoom to 4x for longer shots is awesome. After some refinement the zero is solid. It's hitting well inside angle of mans chest at 400m. Strongly suspect the reason it's not angle of shoe box is the schmuck behind the gun.

Another gun had issues last time.  For background I swapped out a part on it some time back thinking I knew what I was doing. Turns out I didn't have a clue; the classic you don't know what you don't know scenario. Anyway I pretty easily figured out the problem at home and aside from a couple scratches on the inside of the gun it was no worse for wear. So I took it out to confirm the issue was figured out. Anyway I took it out today and everything was good. Gun runs like a champ. Learned a little lesson to make entirely sure I know what I'm doing before screwing around with a gun. All's well that ends well I guess.

That brings us to the Glock 19. Not sure why but I was in the groove today. Shot pretty well which was cool. The more I use those new sights the more I like them. Very fast onto target for quick shots yet capable of precision shots. Had this feeling that taking Tam's advice would not lead me astray.

In conclusion shooting is fun and the Burris MTAC rocks. 







Thursday, April 11, 2013

Project AR Upgrade: Troy Rail and DBAL I2?


So I am getting ready to complete Project AR Upgrade. Funding is about 70% in place and pending a transaction tomorrow will be complete. Here is what I am looking at.

Rail: Troy Battle Rail Delta. I want to keep the standard gas block/ front sight for a few reasons. First cuz I've got it and the gun is zeroed, second cuz I'm cheap and third they are IMO more rugged than any folding type sight that would go onto a rail. The minimalist type rail seems like the way to go giving me all the benefits of a free floating barrel but an easier and cheaper install. Honestly I wouldn't bother except wanting a solid place (to hold a zero) to mount an IR laser.

IR Laser: Looking at a DBAL I2. Would go with the red vis laser because I don't use the vis anyway.

Pending that sale and a little bit more research I should be able to pull the trigger this weekend or early next week. If you have any experience with this stuff or comparable products please let me know your thoughts.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ammo Shopping and Gratuitous AR/ Burris MTAC Pics

Overall I am fairing well through this gun/ gun stuff/ ammo panic. Sure there is stuff I want but that's life. The biggest mistake single mistake I made was not differentiating between operational ammo and training ammo. We stocked about enough to be comfortable if something happens. However I did not have a separate stash for zeroing optics, test firing new guns, training and such. A half case each of .223 and 9mm plus a couple bricks of .22lr, 250 rounds of .38 and 150 rounds of mixed 12 gauge ammo (mostly bird shot, some buck and a few slugs) or so that is allocated for training and such stuff would be really nice.

It isn't a great time to buy ammo but as Tam noted you have got to keep something coming in even during the bad times. So I've been doing some looking around at the local shops. The last few days have been pretty good for me.

Can't figure out how to get the picture the right way. That is three of the new fangled midget 325 round bricks of Federal .22lr, three 20 round boxes of 55gr XM193 and a 50 round box of 9mm FMJ. One box of .22lr was $22 and the others were $16. The .223 was $12.95 and the 9mm was painful at $22 something. This leaves me happy for .22 training ammo. The .223 will get burned up on my next range trip to really zero in the scope on Project AR. The 9mm is headed to my upcoming class.

To conclude this topic it seems like ammo is slowly becoming available again. Some is at less than ideal prices and some at ok prices. It's just selling as soon as it shows up. There is always that trade off of driving around to different places and waiting in line or paying a bit more. The options are to put in the energy/ time/ gas shopping around, pay steep prices or bitch about the situation. What's right for one person might not be for another. I don't think it is time to go big and stock up on cases of ammo (at these prices) but getting a few boxes of stuff you are seriously short on or replacing some shooting ammo is probably realistic.



It occurred to me that I have not really talked about or shown a pic of the new scope on my rifle.
Here is my rifle these days. Still need to get a DBAL and free float the rail but otherwise this is what it's going to look like, well at least till it's done and gets painted. I am pretty happy with it. Actually that is an understatement as this gun frickin rocks.
A close up of the Burris MTAC and La Rue mount. Shooting it is great. Zeroed it in about 15 rounds, well at least a 90% solution anyway. Specifically it's zeroed at 25 but I need to back out and confirm/ adjust to 50 meters. I think the 50 meter zero is probably the way to go. On the last range trip I sort of got sidetracked, which is another story I'm not ready to write yet, and ran out of time. Will go back and get it finished on the next trip. Since my training ammo budget is a bit better I'll throw some rounds downrange to confirm. One feature I particularly like about this scope is that the illum turns off between power setting. That means unlike an aimpoint where you have to cycle through all the power setting to get to the one you like it can be put to the setting you want with a slight twist.

A pic that shows the La Rue mount more clearly. I like the quick detachment option a lot and consider it a prerequisite for a fighting rifle, especially if you cannot co witness. This way if the optic goes down, which seems unlikely as it's ridiculously stout, I can pull two levers then flip up the BUIS and get back into the fight.

How are things looking in your neighborhood?


Monday, March 25, 2013

RE: Basic Guns Part 3: Shotguns

My recent post on shotguns in the basic guns series drew a comment worth replying to. It already got a pretty good response but I'll take a shot at it also. Here it is, I will reply after each piece in italics.
"Let's see...
* Heavy, bulky ammo
How much ammo do you plan on carrying? For a normal home defense or siting on the porch after a Hurricane type scenario I'd be quite comfortable with what's in/ on the gun and 40-50 rounds which is not excessively heavy. True 150-250 rounds of buckshot or slugs would weight a lot but if you're trying to do that it's likely not a problem that can be solved with a shotgun anyway.
* Short range
Short range in comparison to what? [This is a systemic issue of the comment. Nothing is defined or compared to another alternative.]  Figure buckshot is good to 30 meters or so which covers probably 90% of home defense type situations. Slugs out of a standard open cylinder barrel with a bead sight are good to about 100m (if the operator does his part) which probably covers 99.9% of civilian defensive situations.
* Ineffective against even the cheapest armor
So are all but a few oddball pistols but you don't see folks running away from 9mm, .357mag, .40 and .45. The comment to use slugs is valid. Then again rifle plates that stop everything up to 30'06 AP are common place and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. So that thinking eliminates the advantage of .223, 7.62x39 and .308 also; you would really have to move to .338 Lapua or other anti materiel type rifle that will either blow through a plate or create so much energy it would do a person in through blunt force trauma. Honestly while Goblins wearing body armor is a valid worst case scenario for home defense the real odds of it happening are probably pretty low. If a round to the plate does not do somebody in (or you see vests) transition to 'hips and heads'. In plain English if you suspect folks might have vests shoot them in the hips and then in the face. Heck given the slim but reasonable likelihood that somebody has a vest these days starting with 'hips and heads' isn't a terrible idea.
* Crap sights
Honestly I have never really had an issue with the plain old single bead. Given the realistic ranges for employing a shotgun I find them sufficient. Rifle sights, ghost ring sights or a red dot are all better and valid options but they cost money.
* Crap accuracy
If a person cannot use a serviceable shotgun to accomplish realistic shotgun tasks the issue lie in the operator not the weapons system.
* Awkward, slow reloads
 In comparison to a modern magazine fed weapon that holds 20-30+ rounds reloads are slow and awkward. On the other hand if we are comparing it to a bolt or lever action rifle I would call it a wash.
So why would I want to buy a shotgun again?"

Further commentary:  The systemic problem with this comment is that it does not compare shotguns to another option by weak point or to propose another weapons system as an all around better option. Maybe I am being too hard on this but it has it's been pounded into my head that you bring up a problem AND A BETTER OPTION.

I am a pretty harsh critic of shotguns for home defense. This guy would take an AR/ AK/ Mini 14/ Whatever over a shotgun every day of the week and twice on Sunday. $1,500 Project AR with a $500 optic blows the old 870 out of the water in about every possible way. A Mercedes or Porche SUV blows my Asian SUV out of the water and $120 a bottle Scotch beats $18 a bottle stuff. The problem is that a comparison between them that does not consider economics is invalid. 

At the time of this writing AR's run $1,200 for low end guns. AK's are running almost a grand for low end ones.  A quality shotgun costs 1/4 to 1/3rd of either. Many people are priced out of modern defensive rifles these days but any semi functional adult can pull together $250-300ish to get a good pump shotgun. Also today they are still widely available both in stores and on the private market. Think I've beat the cost thing to death.

The other big benefit of a shotgun is versatility. A rifle can do some things better than a shotgun but there are many things a shotgun can do that a rifle fails completely at. As discussed before any sort of jack of all trades is not the master of any but in this scenario a gun that does a lot of things acceptably is very useful.

Instead of comparing a shotgun to rifles that cost 3-4x as much ones in the same range might be a more equitable comparison. We will get to rifles later but the playing field between bolt action deer rifles, lever guns and old milsurp Mosin Nagants and the shotgun is a whole lot more level.  A reasonable person could choose to go rifle first then shotgun down the road but it's still important to compare apples to apples.

Considering this is the Basic Guns series and we are talking about affordable but still reliable guns that will fill a lot of roles I consider the shotgun worthwhile. 

Thoughts?

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Years Resolutions- Finalized a bit late



I dropped some draft goals awhile back and was recently reminded of them. It is high time I solidify them.

Physical:

Maintain a consistent weight lifting program.

Run a half marathon (I changed to this because it's March and I haven't tracked mileage which was a big fat fail)



Continue working on barefoot running towards the goal of running on a  variety of terrain up to 5k barefoot

Transition to running fully in minimalist shoes

Ruck at least 1x a week

Eat reasonably with decent consistency so I don't gain and lose the same weight 2-3 times over the year.

Skills/ Training:

Attend a defensive handgun course.

Work on developing a variety of other skills as they come up by doing as much myself as possible.

Guns and Gun Junk:

Pick up a couple holsters and assorted other stuff to get squared away for what we have. (Specifically a nice Bravo or Raven concealment kydex holster for the Glock with TLR-1, a good OWB holster for the J frame, and an ankle holster.)

Purchase a DBAL and free float the barrel on project AR.  (The DBAL is almost funded I just need to do a bit more research then pull the trigger.)


Finally complete Project 870. At least the tube extension and sling. The light angle I've got to do some thinking on.

Get more spare parts. Beef up on core stuff (AR's and Glocks) and get some basic stuff (firing pin, extractor, ejector, springs, pins, etc) for other guns.

Finally get my (already sporterized) 1903 30'06 tapped and mount a scope on it.

If things work out and decent deals come along I would like to get a single shot 12 gauge and another .22 rifle. 

Subcategory Ammo: I am only doing this if prices get back to normalish. Would take my best whack at it and if I get half done be happy.
5k .22lr
1k 9mm
1k 12 gauge (mixed about 400 buck, 100 slug and 500 mixed small game loads)
2k .223


Food:

Build up to a 1 year supply of food for 4 people.

Can something

Continue with my garden this year.

Pursue fishing/ hunting as it fits with our environment and life. 

 Energy/ Other:

Get a better solar setup. A bigger panel with a power supply and a few small lights is the answer. Goal 0 makes what I am looking for. It will cost about $400. Probably 500 once I get the lights. This would have gotten purchased late in 2012 but the whole ban madness shifted my priorities elsewhere.

Get licensed to drive a motorcycle. Maybe purchase a used enduro/ adventure touring motorcycle.

Continue putting together and refining our systems. Firm up the bug out bags and the heavy (vehicle) bug out setup.

Re look and improve our cache situation.

Financial:

Continue being debt free and saving. Along these lines continue not doing stupid things. 

If we reach our food storage goal get back to putting away some silver and gold.

Long Shots:


Start on the AR Pistol.

Buy some land (this mostly depends on some other things).

As always input is welcome. It would be fairly useful now before these resolutions are solidified. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dry Fire Practice- Little Things

This evening after putting Walker to bed I conducted some dry fire training. It was pretty good. Definitely getting used to handing the smaller J frame and it's trigger. One nice thing about a DAO revolver is that you cannot cheat and thumb cock it so you just have to get comfortable with the trigger. I am eager to get it out to the range and put some more ammo through it. This trip will coincide with zeroing the new scope for the AR after it arrives.

Did notice one interesting thing when shooting the wheel gun. My Blackhawk IWB holster came out with the gun a couple times. Admittedly it was probably just because I was repeatedly drawing without taking the time to really reset the holster. That consideration aside it is still no bueno. An easy fix is to undo the velcro on my rigger belt, slip the holster in and then re velcro the belt. The bottom of the plastic clip sort of looks like an upside down T that hooks on both sides of the belt keeping it solidly in place. I will probably talk more about this holster at some point. It's not perfect but for $10 picking one up when you get a gun then figuring out another option down the road when your budget allows (if you even feel the need to) is a solid option. Elitists will hate it but a $10 holster that is good enough for casual use or to get you started on a busget has some real value in the market place.

Next I shifted to rifle work. I haven't rocked iron's as primary sights for awhile and wanted to get used to using them in a CQB type setting. Also I needed to knock some dust off the old muscle memory. Rifle work was good. Weapon manipulation and target acquisition were solid. Also spent some time training with the tac light. With it located at about 1:30 the setup is pretty natural. The only minor issue is if I get lazy about grip my thumb can obscure the sights. Optics sit slightly higher so this should be less of an issue. If a bit more training will not fix this I will look at other mounting options or a pressure switch.

The point I am trying to get to is that we find flaws and weak points in our gear, systems and capabilities when we use them. Little things come up and we figure them out by setting stuff up differently or training appropriately. Occasionally something big pops up that must be dealt with. If you just buy a gun, a holster and a bunch of hollow points  then load up the gun and stick it in the holster to occasionally travel with you these flaws never appear. It is true that you may live a charmed life and never have these unknown flaws become huge problems but not everyone is so lucky.

Get out and use your stuff. Getting out and shooting is great but with the limited availability and high price of ammo these days it may be hard to do often. Dry fire is free and you can do it at home so there are no excuses.

Just Do It!

Friday, February 8, 2013

M4 Flat Top 1" Scope Mounts

Hey, I am pretty much set on a Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4 but unsure about a mount. Leupold makes one but I am not sure the clearance in back is sufficient for a (folding) BUIS. Also I would prefer to be able to take it off without a wrench if needed.

If you are running a 1" scope on an AR or similar gun I am curious about the mount you are using and how you like it.

Thanks in advance.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

M-4/ AR-15 Optics and Civilian Legal IR Lasers

I am looking at the Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4x20. The Firearms Blog reviewed it awhile back and it seems like the ticket. If anybody has PERSONAL EXPERIENCES with this scope I would really appreciate their thoughts.

Also I have been looking at civilian legal IR lasers. I am familiar and comfortable with the lasers we use on the .mil side but the civilian offerings are something new to me. Have heard of the DBAL but they have multiple models and the same company makes a few other lasers. From reading the descriptions I can't tell the difference and the prices vary widely. Of course I would like to keep cost down but would rather take the hard right over the easy wrong. In any case if you have experience with multiple models or know a place that does a good comparison of readily available civilian legal lasers that would be a big help.

Thanks in advance,

Ryan

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