The M1 Carbine Penatration Failures In Korea : True or More To The Story

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If there is an oft told tale of US service rifle failure more common than the myth of the M16 being UN-reliable, it is the tales of the failures of the M1 carbine in the Korean war, to penetrate the thick coats worn by communist soldiers. Anyone who is interested in US ordnance history of its use has no doubt hear or read about it some where.  Stories of some GI or another in Korea shooting  charging human wave commies in the winter wasteland with his M1 carbine and after the small around failing to penetrate the coat, throwing it away and getting himself a real man’s gun like the M1 Garand.  Firearms boards in the internet thrive on telling each other these stories and they are no doubt popular campfire fodder.   So the .30 carbine has in the past, suffered from a reputation of being a poor performer.   On a side note  I have always been amused by the same people who say the 357 mag is a never fail manstopper also declaring the 30 carbine useless when they are  very similar.

After getting a T&E rifle from Inland, the maker of brand new very high quality original spec M1 carbines( full review to come) and showing it to some fellows, the old chestnut about failing to penetrate thick coats was brought back up. I determined to shoot the M1 into some thick padding to see what I could see before serious testing and evaluation of the M1 got started.

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Being August, I could not manage sub freezing temps, but I did set up a cardboard target behind a very thick pad that I added extra clothing by stuffing it inside to make it even thicker.  I set up from 200 yards away and fired.

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The military FMJ round had no problem punching through the thick clothing and padding just as I knew it would.

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Even from 200 yards the carbine and its ammo said by “experts” to be puny. not only went through the padding with ease, it zipped through the wood and damaged it more than I expected.  But it was not done yet.

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It traveled another 10 yards and tore into the dry hard packed dirt and rocks behind   several inches deep with little deformation to the short stubby 110 ball rounds.

The 30 carbine is not in the same class as a  7.62 or even a 5.56. But, it is better than given credit. With quality hollow points, it is not much different than a 357 magnum. A round few people complain about being under powered.   Those vets who claimed lack of power simple missed or made shots in non-vital places on the body or glancing blows.  We all know everyone is a perfect shot that never misses so any problem has to be the gun.  And no red blooded American military fighting man would ever be anything but a perfect crack rifle shot so it has to be that lowest bidder crap!

A great little story Howard often says illustrates this well.

“When a  Soldier or Marine  is shot multiple times and tough it out to carry on the fight and prevails, he is a bad-ass napalm eating super soldier hero. When an enemy soldier  takes multiple hits from US troops and continues to fight beyond what is normally deemed possible, the issue gun sucks is underpowered and is lowest bidder garbage”.

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Does an M14 Really Turn Cover Into Concealment?

By Andrew Betts

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If you spend enough time at an outdoor range, especially on the weekdays when the retirees are there in force, you are certain to hear someone opine that they prefer the M14 to the AR/M16/M4 because it “turns cover into concealment”. This is usually in conjunction with their opinion that the DoD made a terrible error in moving to the 5.56x45mm, rather than the much more manly 7.62x51mm. No one can claim that the 7.62mm NATO does not have more power. The cartridge contains significantly more powder and it launches a heavier bullet at only moderately lower velocity. Is that extra power actually useful for penetrating cover, though? Does it really “turn cover into concealment”?

To answer that, we took a look at a few real world objects of varying composition. The question is not whether the 7.62mm penetrates more deeply than the 5.56mm. It is widely known that 7.62mm will penetrate more deeply in some materials such as wood, while 5.56mm can often penetrate steel plate at close range better. M193 55 gr FMJ can even defeat Level III armor plates that are rated for multiple 7.62x51mm M80 147 gr FMJ (https://youtu.be/QrWtgyFQ8LU). The claim that the old guys are making is that the M14 can kill a man who is hiding behind an object that would stop a 5.56mm. In other words, does a small difference in penetration depth really translate to a difference in whether a specific object will act as cover or not? If the cartridges are compared in terms of go/no-go, will the M14 really “turn cover into concealment”?

For the first test, we will consider concrete barriers. There are a variety of concrete walls, block walls, and other concrete barriers in the urban landscape that a person might take cover behind. The concrete varies somewhat in the ratios of the ingredients but all are composed of cement, sand, and sometimes larger aggregate. Regardless of the recipe, concrete has high compressive strength and low tensile strength. That means that it works very well for applications such as load bearing walls, but not so well for a second story floor. It resists being crushed but when bent, it cracks easily. That also means that it works pretty well to stop a bullet, but it is destroyed in the process. We tested two kinds of concrete. The first is a concrete block common to privacy fences, with lots of small aggregate and air voids.

The second is a concrete paver. While not as sturdy as a poured concrete wall, the paver is made from mostly cement and sand, with little aggregate and no air voids.

In both tests, neither round was completely stopped by the concrete barrier. While the 7.62mm did look more impressive, the 5.56mm also made it through and neither cartridge seemed to retain much ability to wound on the other side of the wall. That is to say, both would likely cause a painful wound but neither were likely to penetrate deeply enough to have a high probability of causing incapacitation. A bad guy on the other side of either of those barriers would have an awfully bad day to be sure, but he would likely have the opportunity to make your own day much shorter. To sum up, it is a very close race with little practical difference between the two cartridges.

Of course, an 8” thick, poured concrete wall with rebar reinforcement is likely to stop both rounds cold, but it is also outside our ability to test. There are almost infinite variations on the thickness and composition of concrete structures and some will certainly stop both cartridges while others will not stop either cartridge, as seen in the above tests. It would take substantial resources to conclusively identify exactly what sort of barriers could be penetrated by which cartridge and at what distance. For our more general and limited testing, the conclusion is that both cartridges can penetrate some concrete barriers. There may very well be a special Goldilocks barrier that is just thick enough to stop the 5.56mm but not the 7.62mm. From what we can see of this testing, it seems likely that such a barrier would also bleed so much energy from the 7.62mm as to render it nearly harmless, though. Both cartridges failed to fully penetrate a single water jug in this test so if the thickness of the concrete were increased to that magical point where 5.56mm was stopped but 7.62mm passed through, the 7.62mm would be even less energetic than was seen in this testing, which means a very minor wound.

Next, we will consider one of the few components on a motor vehicle that actually has a good chance of stopping a bullet: a brake rotor. Other than the drive train, the brake rotors (or drums) are one of a very few places where there is actually enough thick metal to have a reasonably good chance of stopping a bullet. Frame rails will usually stop handgun rounds but are unlikely to stop any rifle round and it is common knowledge that the body does next to nothing to stop a bullet. Conversely, the engine and transmission should stop nearly any man portable weapon short of an AT-4. Will the brake rotor be just thick enough to stop one cartridge, but not the other?

In this case, several rounds of both the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm were stopped. It is true that the 7.62mm looked to be a bit closer to getting through, based on the slight cracks on the back side of the disc, but the bottom line is that a person hiding behind that object would not have acquired any extra face holes from either cartridge.

Wood is one of the materials which 7.62mm is said to penetrate much more deeply than 5.56mm so we compared the two cartridges’ ability to penetrate a modest sized log.

On the one hand, the 7.62mm penetrated almost twice as much wood as the 5.56mm. On the other hand, both were stopped and you would need to find a log that was more than 2 ½” thick but less than 4” thick to be able to stop the 5.56mm but not the 7.62mm. Aside from the obvious problem that few people would consider a 4” stick to be “cover”, the difference here underscores something we have long suspected. It is true that 7.62mm can penetrate more deeply, but the difference is unlikely to make any substantive real world difference. That is to say, there are very few objects that are just thick enough to stop a 5.56mm but not thick enough to stop a 7.62mm. Most objects are either thick enough to stop both or thin enough to stop neither.

We did find one material that was soft enough to underscore the difference in a very definitive way: water. This is a test using a 55 gallon plastic drum filled with water as the barrier.

Finally, here is an object that very clearly stopped one bullet but not the other. If your target is taking cover behind a 55 gallon plastic drum full of water, 7.62x51mm can punch through it, while 5.56mm will probably be stopped. In the high speed video, it seems that the 7.62mm was not really moving along that quickly after passing through the barrel, though. It is possible that it would not be capable of doing much wounding after getting through the barrel, but we did not test for that, so the nod has to go to the 7.62mm for getting through.

It is also worth noting here that projectile construction could make a significant difference in any of these tests. If the rounds were changed to bonded soft points, it is possible that both rounds would have made it through the water. If the 7.62mm were a Hornady 155 gr AMAX, it is unlikely it would get through the barrel. There are a wide variety of bullet weights and designs available for both cartridges and some of them will substantially change the performance on these objects. We chose M80 and M855 because they are the commonly issued FMJ ammunition for their respective rifles. We chose a 16” barreled AR15 because it is a good compromise length and we did not have the time to test 11.5”, 14.5”, and 20” barrels. We also did not test at greater distance, where the 7.62mm is likely to have a larger advantage because hauling the test materials 200 yards down range is difficult, bothersome, and disruptive to other shooters. There are a variety of conditions that were not tested and those conditions could give more of an edge to one or the other cartridge.

Overall, most of the tests showed very little difference between the two cartridges. In every test but the water barrel, either both penetrated the test object or both were stopped. Ultimately, it does not appear that there is any evidence to support the unilateral claim that 7.62x51mm “turns cover into concealment”. There may be some very specific circumstances where this is true, but they appear to be the exception, rather than the rule. To be sure, this concept deserves quite a lot more testing. It would be nice to see the differences at range and through a variety of other materials such as live wood and poured concrete. Some day we may continue testing. It seems that the M14 is likely to develop a real, substantive advantage as range
increases because the greater mass and higher ballistic coefficient can carry more energy further down range. On the other hand, this sort of testing only compares a single round of one cartridge to a single round of the other but 7.62mm weighs twice as much and that means a person is likely to have twice as much 5.56mm. In that light, one round of 5.56mm may be just about as good as one round of 7.62mm but two rounds of 5.56mm are far better than one round of 7.62 in nearly any circumstance. The real take-away here is that nothing in the world of firearms and projectiles is nearly as simple as “A is better than B” and it appears that the statement “The M14 turns cover into concealment,” is more often false than it is true.

Related  further reading of 762 penetration

http://looserounds.com/2013/01/30/7-62-nato-tunring-cover-into-concealment-since-well-not-as-often-as-you-may-think/

Lehigh Extreme Penetrator

By Andrew Betts

LEHIGH EXTREME PENETRATOR
LEHIGH EXTREME PENETRATOR

No, it is not the title of a sci-fi themed adult movie, it’s the line of CNC machined solid copper bullets from Lehigh Defense. Their Extreme Penetrator line is reminiscent of a Philips head screwdriver and the projectile is available in a variety of calibers, both as loaded ammunition and as components. The company claims that it not only penetrates relatively deeply as the name indicates, but that the “progressive nose geometry” can create “a permanent wound cavity diameter exceeding that of most expanding bullets.” They go on to claim that this “magic” is due to some ambiguous fluid dynamics which they liken to “sticking your thumb over a garden hose.” They even go so far as to claim a permanent wound cavity that is 2-4 times greater than traditional solid projectiles and some unspecified amount greater than expanding ammo. These are some extraordinary claims. Does the product live up to the hype?

To rationally examine the claims that Lehigh is making, we should first consider whether the claims are consistent with what we know about the mechanics of projectile wounding. The best resource on that topic is a paper published by the FBI called “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” which summarizes what the agency has learned through testing, examination of cadavers, and statistical analysis of shooting incidents. One of the fundamental points made in the paper is that, at the speed that handgun bullets travel, the temporary stretch cavity is not a significant wounding factor. This is in contrast to much higher velocity rifle bullets, which can produce damage through tearing caused by the sudden and violent stretching of tissue. In other words, rifle bullets impact at such a high speed that the temporary stretch cavity stretches past the elastic limit of the tissue, increasing the size of the permanent cavity beyond tissue that was in direct contact with the projectile. Pistol bullets are moving too slowly to cause this effect so tissue simply stretches and snaps back to normal with no substantive damage aside from some bruising.  The paper concludes that only tissue that comes in direct contact with the projectile can be damaged by a pistol bullet. That means that the claims that Lehigh is making are in direct contradiction to what is known about wounds caused by projectiles. To be fair, though, perhaps Lehigh discovered some new mechanism that was previously unknown. To rule out that possibility, we have to consider the results of independent testing.

There are two primary takeaways from this test. The first is that the bullet really is capable of some ridiculously deep penetration, especially for a projectile with such low sectional density. The deep penetration is most likely a result of the moderately high velocity combined with small frontal area and a hard material that simply does not deform. The second takeaway is that there is quite obviously no more tissue damage than is produced by a simple FMJ. The ball round actually produced more damage when it yawed and traveled sideways through the gelatin for a short distance starting around the 6” mark.

9mm ball does not exactly have a reputation for impressive tissue damage, yet it did destroy more “tissue” than the Extreme Penetrator in this test. There simply appears to be no support for Lehigh’s extraordinary claim. It should come as no surprise that the ammo fails to perform as advertised, though. Lehigh is essentially claiming that you can have your cake and eat it. Projectile wounding, like every physical action, is a dance of compromises. If all other factors (weight, velocity, projectile diameter, etc.) remain the same, varying the projectile’s design can only increase penetration if that design change also results in decreased tissue damage. Conversely, a wide swath of crushed tissue can only be produced at the expense of reduced penetration. In other words, the volume of tissue that can be damaged is relatively fixed. As the penetration goes up, the width of the wound track must necessarily decrease and vice versa. You can’t cheat Newton. As cool as Lehigh’s bullet looks, it does not defy the laws of physics.

(top) 9mm FMJ track, (bottom) Lehigh XP track
(top) 9mm FMJ track, (bottom) Lehigh XP track

Frank Proctor Way of the Gun Sling

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In looking for a sling for my Colt 733 clone I wanted something that had both modern two point adjustability and an appearance that didn’t look out of place on a quasi retro AR. I hadn’t had much luck finding anything that really suited me until I stumbled across the Way of the Gun sling from Frank Proctor. Liking what I saw, I ordered one in ranger green to try out.

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The sling itself is the absolute definition of minimalist. A basic 1” nylon strap, two buckles, two paracord attachment loops, that’s it.  Total weight of the sling, including the paracord attachment loops, is 1.98 oz.

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Close up of the para cord attachment loop.

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The length adjustment slider. Push forward to lengthen, pull back to shorten.

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The only stitching on the entire sling.

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Comparison photo of the Proctor sling next to a Magpul MS1.  Note the slings opposite function.  On the WOTG sling push the slider forward to lengthen the sling and pull back to shorten, while the Magpul slider pulls back to lengthen and pushes forward to shorten.  Not that either way is good or bad, just something to keep in mind.  Earlier I mentioned the WOTG sling with paracord attachments has a total weight of 1.98 oz, in comparison the Magpul MS1 with two quick disconnects has a total weight of 7.71 oz.  A 5.73 oz difference.

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Comparison of the length adjusters and attachment methods.

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Difference in width between the slings. 1” for the Proctor WOTG sling vs. 1.25” for the Magpul MS1.

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Proctor WOTG sling mounted on my 733.

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Here are a couple of photos of the sling mounted up on other AR’s to show the versatility in mounting it to different weapons.

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I’ve been using the sling for a couple of months now and have been pleased with it.  I’ve found the sling to be simple, lightweight and efficient.  The strap doesn’t bind up or get in the way, and the length adjuster slides smoothly.  It gets the job done with no fuss or drama, which is all I ask in a sling.

My only suggestion for improvement would be to, due to its small size, make the serrations on the sides of the length adjuster more pronounced to give the hand something to really grab/lock onto.

One bit of caution, the strap is thin and the material is flexible, I can see the potential for the sling strap to dig in and become uncomfortable if carrying a heavier weapon slung for long periods of time.  Given I’ve mostly run the sling on a sub 6 lb SBR it’s never been an issue for me, just something to think about.

All in all if you’re looking for a lightweight minimalist sling that won’t get in the way, a sling that can easily be switched between weapons that don’t have provisions for quick disconnects, or a sling that gives modern two point quick adjustable function with an old look the Frank Proctor Way of the Gun sling is a solid choice.

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Colt 6940 Piston Carbine Test & Review Part 1

The  idea that the piston operated AR15/M4  would be an improvement that fixes all of the perceived short comings of the weapon has been something that has gained ground in certain corners since the dubious “dust tests” and H&K marketing from a bit over 10 years ago now. Miss-use by users in the GWOT and careful lobbying by certain companies has put the idea that the DI system is sub-par in the minds of some of the lesser educated.   In fact ,if you did not know better you would think the piston operated AR15 did not exist until HK came out with the 416.    Truth is Colt had already developed a piston operated AR15 since the 60s and had been playing around with it ever since. If you look close at the front sight, you will see some details that pop up a lot later.

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Later Colt, in 2005-2006 colt started showing pictures of another piston gun they called the LE1020. It was a monolithic railed upper very close to the current 6940 uppers. It lacked the QD sockets,and some other small refinements but it was clear the idea was being refined. All this before others had started with their piston campaign.  Yes, colt had been making and refining piston AR15s for a long time. Getting it the way they wanted it before deciding to offer it.  We did not see the LE1020 hit the market back then because it was found the market and the Military was not that interested in a piston gun.  It took ignorant gun writers and HK marketing to convince a lot of people that they could not like without a piston operated M4.  Never mind some of those early piston ARs chewed up receiver extensions, suffered from carrier tilt, weighed a ton and were not very easy to modify.

If you are new to AR15s you may have missed the bright spike that was the peak of people wanting piston guns because so many believed a little dust caused a M4 to malfunction and History channel documentaries that were more or less HK 416 advertisements.  That has craze has evened out now a days and while some SOF use piston M4s, the rest of the army found out the M4 with its DI worked just fine witht some oil and not trying to use the M4 as a SAW.  But in that time, companies had some time to tweak the piston guns to get them to work right.  Among those was Colt, who refined their piston model from all those years ago before any one else had even thought about making a piston AR15.

With that, we come to the present day. A few weeks ago, Colt once again was nice enough to send me a shiny new Colt 6940Piston for my grubby little hands to test and abuse for other peoples amusement. We will take a look at it in this first part of a longer review and test. just to get to know it a little. stick our nose in its nooks and crannies and put on the old rubber glove and tell it to bend over so we can get to know it a little deeper….

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The Colt 6940P ( Piston) is essentially a regular 6940 from the outside. The lower is standard Colt milspec minus the full auto FCG of course. The buffer that comes with the P is the H2. This is standard issue with the gun as it comes with the the heavy SOCOM profile barrel we talk about in a moment.  The SOCOM profile M4A1 barrel is always combined with the H2 buffer in Colt models. Piston guns with standard A2 flash hiders will have a bit more felt recoil than DI guns, and the H2 buffer can smooth that out, Though to be clear that it not why it is in the gun.  As I said, with colt, the H2 buffer always is paired with the SOCOM barrel, but it is a nice side effect.

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Looking at the picture of the buffer you will note there is no shaved metal from carrier tilt or eaten up lowers which was common on some other companies piston conversions.

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As mentioned, the barrel is the SOCOM profile, which was  made for the use on M4A1 full auto carbines.  The cut flats a few inches from the front sight are for the M203 to mount around. The barrel is free floated in the monolithic upper. The free float 6040 uppers will give you every bit of accuracy the barrel is capable of. I have never seen a Colt monolithic upper that has given mediocre accuracy when using good ammo, but the piston parts may make a difference. We will see in part 2 with accuracy testing.

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The upper rail is standard 6940 and the lower rail removes the exact same way.  You can see just like the DI guns, this one has the QD sling points. The piston parts are hidden under the FF rail.

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The piston comes out very slick  and is retained neatly with a push pin much like those used for the lower. You simply push it to the side and slide the piston out.No muss no fuss.

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The piston is Colt’s design with the articulating link. Not much to say about it since its a piston. Very robust.

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Since we have a piston, we don’t need a gas carrier key.  The early Colt P guns had a bolt on part, just like the gas key, this was changed to the current model. It is machined out solid on the carrier . No bolts or staking to worry over. Not that you ever really had to worry about a colt stake job in the first place.   The Bolt carrier group fields strips for cleaning just like the standard non-piston   BCG

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The rear of the carrier has rails machined on it to make sure you get no carrier tilt. No tilt means your lower will not get chewed up like some of the early HK416 and conversion kits rushed out on the market.  The truth is, the AR16 was not meant to be a piston gun, so careful changes had to be made for it to work out in the long term. With the rails to the rear of the carrier and a steel block added to the upper receiver, tilt is a non issue on the 6940P.  In the picture below,  you can see the part added to the upper.  Buyers of even DI guns will notice this on newer 6940 DI guns and the 901 as there are plans to make piston 901 eventually and it simplifies production to make them all the same.

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Above is the upper with lower rail hand guard removed with piston and bolt carrier.

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From the outside, it looks like the regular 6940 until the educated eye looks at the front sight. The gun handles and balances no different, thought the SOCOM barrel adds a little more weight.  To get ready for long term hard shooting, accuracy testing and full auto torture tests, I have added my favorite TD grip and Colt factory ambi safeties.  For drills and general use it now has a CompM4 a B5 stock and a Knights  600 meter BUIS.  Part 2 of the review will be the accuracy testing for group, long range to the weapons extreme limit and more.  Full auto fire may be in part 2, or it may be moved to a part 3 for torture test and taking a look at cleaning the piston gun. Less fouling is often touted as one of  a piston gun’s biggest advantages so it is possible I do a part devoted to that.

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Don’t Purchase Bates Footwear

Pictured are single examples from two pairs of Bates footwear I have.  A Leather Durashock Oxford on the left and a 5″ Tactical Sport Boot on the right.

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As you can see both have had serious issues with their soles.  The soles on both of the Oxfords have begun to disintegrate and crack, leaving chunks behind if walked in.  On the other hand, while the Sport Boot sole is intact, it decided to completely separate itself from the rest of the boot.  The sole on its left foot twin is still, barely, holding on, but has some serious gaping and is not likely to stay on much longer.

While it would be one thing if both pairs of footwear had miles and miles of wear on them, that is not the case.  The Oxfords have been worn only sparingly, probably less than 25 times since I’ve owned them, and strictly to formal occasions.  Now the Sport Boots have seen more outdoor use, but as you can see by the lack of treadwear on the now independent sole and the lack of wear on the boot leather, they’ve not seen that much use.  Certainly not enough time to justify the sole falling completely off.

In short, I do not recommend Bates footwear.

We here at Loose Rounds have had good luck with Merrell, Danner, and Salomon brand footwear.  I would go that direction for your boot/shoe needs.

-An addendum from Howard:

I’ve owned many Bates shoes and boots.  Bates were what I was issued in the USMC and the soles would quickly wear out and stitching would come undone.  Prior to going to Iraq I bought a pair of Bates Lites to use for Iraq, they came unstitched and were unusable after two weeks.  Bates boots are the most comfortable boots I have ever used, but they don’t hold up at all.

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