I was sent this email from an avid Glock shooter:
I was sent this email from an avid Glock shooter:
This is a LooseRounds.com Q&A session. If you have a firearms related question please email it to QA@LooseRounds.com. We will post the your questions anonymously and give you our answers.
A friend and I are working up loads for his hunting rifle and during the discussions a question came up that neither of us have seen addressed. When shooting (right-handed) for group from a bench, with the rifle supported by sandbags at the forearm and butstock, what is the best position for the left hand on the rifle?
Is it important to control the forearm laterally with a hand on the forearm? I recently watched a video showing a rifle with a bipod and butstock monopod being fired with the left hand on the monopod controlling vertical sight movement. The bipod controls the lateral movement but maybe not so much during recoil.
We’d like to read your opinions (and reasons) on this question.
Thanks. We enjoy your site.
Howard: Normally the forend/handguards are on a rest/sandbags/bipod, and the left hand is used to adjust the rear bag/monopod for elevation.
As said in the previous article by Howard, it is always good to take a minute from your plans of what to do next to “upgrade” your firearm and think about if you need them. It is fun to fill your head with action hero fantasies where you are the spec ops operator mowing down commies or rescuing your busty sister in law from the zombie horde, but it can lead you to buy things for those most unlikely of outcomes that you do not need.
All over the internet you will find a lot of people giving their opinion of what is needed for the perfect fighting rifle or pistol. You have two major sides for the most part, the KISS side and the others. The KISS guys will tell you that you need nothing on the rifle other then a sling and a mag, maybe a A2 sight if you are lucky but mostly just a A1 rear sight will do. It is easy for some people to fall into this way of thinking for many reasons. One of the main reasons the KISS group usually likes to hide from newcomers is the simple truth that the appeal of just buying a rifle and not spending any more money is strong for them. Some of them want a fighting rifle, but even if they want the other things to go with it, they just do not feel they will use any of it enough to justify its purchase. That is fine. if you take a long look at what you intend to do with your weapon and stop thinking about the zombie horde and realize it is a dirt blaster for fun or tin cans, then the KISS idea is fine.
The problem is a lot of the KISS soothsayers will go to the top of the mountain and sing the praises of having a light on your gun is a waste of money or “just hanging crap off it” to be cool. This is a very large flaw in thinking is you want a series fighting gun that will give you the most versatility and an edge to help you save your life or you loved ones.
While it is certainly true not everyone needs this stuff or even a gun, but I think this is a lame excuse. You do not buy car insurance or a spare tire because you plan on problems. You do not even carry a gun because you expect to do to Detroit and get into a fire fight. You do it because you simply do not know what will happen. If I knew if I would run into the trouble, then I just would not leave the house and save myself and not worry about carrying a gun for defense.
We have all read the posts on forums of guys who say they do not need a light or a tritium sight, or a mag that holds more then two because when an intruder comes in their house in the night, they will sic the dog on them, barricade the door, call 911, fire at an upward angle with Granpa’s pump action blah blah blah. They have this set in stone situation in their head about exactly how a deadly encounter will happen and absolutely KNOW that they will execute some plane. They can not accept or even admit that some thing beyond their control or at a time when they are completely away from their bedroom and the safety of their fantasy response plan. Crazy.
This is why some things are an upgrade to your weapons. Not swapping the blued safety on your gun to a extra long extended safety in nickel. For the most part. Its a good policy to just leave the weapon the way it came from the factory until you know what you can do with it and you determine if it has a problem that needs fixing. Until you use it enough to show real skill, there is no real reason to mess with internals to “improve ” it. Putting match triggers in guns not originally meant for them is one of the most common things I see done. Usually from people that have not shot enough to benefit from a match trigger anyway. New types of fore grips, butt stocks, angled fore grips, bipods, bayonet lugs, fancy rails and rail covers and rail lengths are other culprits that do not always give you more for the money. Some do and can, but usually skill has to improve before a lot of these things can help you. They do not improve your shooting, just the versatility of the weapon and times of day you can use it.
Things that are needed to truly upgrade can be listed very quickly. On a carbine or rifle meant for fighting/home defense, the bare essentials in my and many other minds are as follows.
1.A light. You can not hit what you can not see at night. Want to risk shooting at the “badguy” in the house with no positive ID when you also have a panicked kid or two running around? Usually running to your bedroom right to you expecting protection? May look like an aggressor coming to slice you up at 2AM in the morning in the dark with sleep bleary eyes and you are scared out of your spider man PJs. Of course seeing in corners, temporary blinding the foe, etc et. But learn to use it right so you do not point your muzzle at a friendly when you are jacked up, just to see who it is. A light on a loaded gun is just as dangerous as a loaded gun pointed at some one any other time. Night glow in the dark sights are NOT a substitute for a light. Even if you can see your sights, you still do not know who you are aiming at. A light lets you ID targets and backlights the sights.
2. A good sling. You may need to do other things with your hands, call 911, carry a baby, open a door, cover a wound, while keeping the gun own your person and not getting tired from trying to hold it up with just one hand and arm. Also retains the weapon if you need to switch to a sidearm or climb etc etc etc. Use your common sense and you can see why a sling is important. Dont just get anything though, think this through otherwise your GI issue silent sling is useless or some math problem like three point may snag the light and turn it over and trip you up when you are not paying attention.
3. Holster for handgun. Pretty much the same thing as a sling for a rifle. You may need a free hand and you want it on you.
4. Optics. A lot of people will argue with me on this, but try this at home with a rifle. Lie on your strong hand side, in the dark and look under the bed like you are using it for cover and see how easy those iron sights on your carbine is to see. Or any other position where you can not get nose to the charging handle. If you can get them, get them. DO not go cheap. Get the best you can get. I will go back a little and say optics are not a MUST HAVE. But thing will almost never be better in situation without optics. A Red Dot Sight in preferred.
There are other must haves but they are not anything you will not get anyway. Good mags, good ammo, etc. But those 4 will give you almost every thing you need to defend your self outside or an Iraqi night time fire fight. Other things are nice and will make you more flexible, but those are the things pretty well accepted as being must have. Do not let the KISS concept guys talk you into taking a less then effective weapon to a fight just because that is they way it was when they were in the Army in 1981 or their Daddy’s Daddy’s Daddy did it, and that is good enough for you.
It is common for a firearms enthusiast to ‘upgrade’ a firearm after they get it. The question is if each change done to the firearm is really an upgrade or not.
Plenty of changes can be made to most firearms to add capabilities, improve ergonomics, etc. However often people are changing things just for the sake of change, or make questionable upgrades that are sometimes downgrades.
Some examples. New Beretta 92FS pistols come with some plastic parts. Some owners on gun forums remove the “cheap junk” plastic guide rod and install a “superior metal guide rod”. The plastic guide rod replaced the metal one as an upgrade because it can flex and still work, while if the metal guide rod gets bent, it can prevent functioning. The plastic guide rod also has clearance space for sand or gunk thus allowing functioning in adverse conditions. These owners are downgrading their pistol while thinking that they are upgrading it. A similar thing is often done with 1911s. For quite some time full length guide rods were considered an almost mandatory upgraded. Now we know that in many cases, you are better off with a standard GI style recoil spring setup. Even with the Glocks, you often see new owners want to “upgrade” the recoil spring guide rod.
With the AR15 and the AK family of weapons owners will often change out furniture, or make other changes to try and achieve a different look. Before spending your money, why not take a minute to consider if you really need that $50 dollar pistol grip, or that $200 dollar butt stock. While most all of these changes are nice, decide if you really need them. Consider if you really want an opposing lawyer showing a jury your pistol with its Punisher logos on it. Will it really be so cool at point in time? Will those aluminium pistol grip be comfortable in hot weather, or when its left out in the sun? Is putting a several hundred dollar quad rail on a rifle you don’t plan to mount any accessories on really worth while?
Make sure that the changes you make to your firearms are actually improvements, not potential problems. Each change should be thought out, and improve either the capabilities, functionality, or ergonomics of a firearm.
Duncan Larsen submitted this article.
GunVault Mini and Multi Deluxe safes.
Having a firearm that is readily accessible and safely secure from unwanted access can be a challenge sometimes. You must weigh the ease of access in an emergency, so you can deploy your firearm quickly against a threat, as well as the safety of others who you don’t want to have access to a firearm. For years this was not too much of a concern for me. I had a few firearms in my night stand drawer and I had no kids around the might want to snoop. Times have changed and I needed to upgrade to a safer mode of protecting the access to the defensive firearms in the home. I did a lot of research on what looked like it would work. I had seen a lot of the cheap, complicated, and hard to quickly access safes. I was getting discouraged on the options out there when I found the GunVault series of safes. I purchased the single handgun safe, the GunVault Mini Deluxe.
The GunVault Mini Deluxe has several key features that I want in a quick access safe. It is very easy to use, has an internal light, is large enough for a full sized handgun with light and spare magazine. The best feature is, the Deluxe model in these safes have both batteries and an external power adapter. Mine came with an AC wall adapter. This is key in case of power loss in the home and it also helps the batteries to last longer. I have had this particular Mini Deluxe for three years and I just recently replaced the batteries. The batteries still worked, but it is recommended they be replace yearly. This safe has been used basically on a daily basis, opening and closing it repeatedly over the last three years. I have been very impressed with how it is holding up on daily use. The safe has a sixteen (16) steel gauge housing and weights about nine (9) lbs. The inside is nicely, full foam padded. It is easy to know when one of the kids has messed with it as there is a tamper light to let you know when the wrong code has been used.
The GunVault Deluxe safes have a tamper proof spring loaded door. When you punch in your code the door springs open quickly for fast access. The door is very forceful when opening. There are rubber stops in front of the door to avoid it slamming on to the surface the safe is on. The finger code pads are large within a handprint, have a positive feel and audible tone . I have accessed the safe in the middle of the night, with just ambient light, under stress with no problem. The safes also come with a key incase of total power loss. This key is specific to the safe you have and will not open other GunVault safes. The safes come with mounting gear and a mounting diagram for securing the safe to the floor or a night stand. I prefer to place four (4) rubber pads on the corners of my safes instead of mounting them. The rubber pads insure the safe does not slide on the surface it’s on.
I have been so impressed with the Mini Deluxe safe that I now have several located throughout my home. I recently purchased the Multi Deluxe safe, basically it’s the same in quality and performance. It’s a lot larger, weighing about fourteen (14) lbs. The Multi Deluxe can handle several firearms and the gear you want to put in it. I was able to easily place four full size handguns and spare magazines in the Multi Deluxe.
The GunVault safes have been very good safes for me, some for several years. I feel they are a very great option for the person who needs quick access to a firearm but wants the peace of mind that the gun is secure until it is needed. I also feel the GunVault’s fit the lifestyle of the armed processional or Concealed Carry civilian who access’s a firearm everyday and wants that firearm safely secured in a reliable safe. While I have not gone through every feature of the Deluxe models, for the price they are hard to beat. If you look around they can be found at or under one hundred dollars. GunVault also offers standard models and biometric finger print activated models. The standard safes being almost the same price, but without the key feature of an outside power adapter, are not worth it. The Biometric models will cost you on average about one hundred dollars more.
In the past months I have written a bit about the use of and primary rifles used by the USMC for sniping use in the Vietnam war. Now I would like to talk a little about them again along with some of the supporting (spotter) weapons and equipment used by typical sniper teams during the war. Everything used is of course not included, but its a small general example of the weapons used by the majority and most common.
In a fast review of the main sniper weapons, or at least the most well known, we start off with the Pre-64 Model 70 Winchester rifle. The rifles in use at the time were a mix of factory Winchester national match and “Bull guns”, with the heavy target marksman stock and the sporter stocked Model 70 with factory or custom barrels. The custom work being done by USMC RTE armorers for Competition use at Camp Perry for the national matches and sniping use in asia. The optics were the Unertl 8x USMC contract scope purchases during WW2 for the Marine Corps 1903 sniper rifle. Some other brands of externally adjustable scopes were used but the Unertl was the most common. A few 3x-9x Japanese made scope saw some very limited use on a few M70s but very few.
Ammunition for the Model 70 snipers was the Lake City Match ammo made for for the national matches using a FMJ 173 grain boat tailed bullet. One of the things that kept the model 70 from being selected as the sniper standard in the years to come was the fact that this was not a commonly issued round.
The rifle that replaced the M70 and became sniper standard until this very day in the configuration of the M40A5, was the Remington M700-40x. The 40x was a target action of better quality then a standard M700 of the time. The 40x action came with a receiver slot for stripper clips used in reloading when the rifle was employed with target iron sights in high-power rifle matches like at Perry.
The rifle was tested and found to be the best COTS choice at the time due to the Winchester stopping production of the very high quality and very expensive and time consuming version of the Model 70 now known as the “pre-64”
The rifle was dubbed the M40 by the USMC and came with a medium heavy barrel chambered in 308 NATO with a plain dull oil finish sporter stock. It used the clip slotted 40x action, did not have provisions for iron sights and had a metal butt pad. Remington provided the rifle in an entire package with a Redfield Accur-Trac 3x-9x -40MM scope in matte green in Redfield Junior bases.
The rifle barrel of the M40 was later free-floated and the action bedded by USMC RTE armorers in Vietnam after the tropical climate proved almost too much for the rifle to take.
An interesting point is that the two most famous Snipers of the war , Carlos Hathcock and Chuck MaWhinney used the Model 70 and the M40 respectively. Hathcock having a total of 93 confirmed kills to MaWhinneys 103. Hathcock used the M70 for his fist tour as a sniper when he got most of his kills including his most famous exploits, but did use the M40 some in his second tour before becoming seriously wounded and being sent home. Unfortunately the rifle was destroyed in the action that wounded him and saw him being awarded a silver star. Mawhinney’s rifle was found years later and still in service as an M40A1. It was pulled from use and restored to its original specs and is now on display.
The less glamorous but very important spotter in a scout sniper team carried more common weapons that every rifleman was familiar with. The one that seems the most thought of as the spotters weapon when talking about the USMC sniping teams, is the M14 US rifle caliber .308 NATO.
The M14 is the US Military’s most short-lived issued rifle. Little more then a slightly more modern version of the M1 Garand, the M14 has a detachable 20 round magazine and fired 308 NATO. The rifle was made in select fire ( full and semi ) and was very much like the M1 Garand. The M14 was already obsolete by the time it came out of Springfield. It did and still does have its promoters, but few remember or know that at the time, no one really liked it as much as is thought now. It was soon replaced by the M16 series of rifles. The M14 did see use by sniper teams in the USMC and the US Army. The Army being the heaviest user of the M14 for sniping developing it into the XM21 that used the ART 1 and 2 optics and night vision optics and sound suppressors. The USMC did use it in a limited way ( compared to the Army) for some night work using the starlight night vision optics. The M14 was carried by Carlos Hathcock’s spotter John Burke who used it to great effect when working with Carlos and using match ammo. The US Army struggled to make the XM21 into a reliable sniper weapon for years and sunk a huge amount of money and effort into it before dumping it for the bolt action M24 SWS ( another remington M700). Kills could be made out to 600-800 yards with iron sights depending on skill of the shooter and was used for security of the team. The higher ammo capacity and full auto fire would be useful to break contact when ambushed or lay down cover if things went bad. I have not seen any evidence of it being used to break an ambush in my research but I am sure it happened.
The next rifle is of course, the Colt XM16 and the M16A1. The rifle replaced the M14 as standard infantry rifle in the early 60s. The rifle was ideal for jungle warfare and after early blunders by the DOD using the wrong powder in the M193 ammunition and not chroming the chamber, the M16 went on to be our longest-serving weapon and respected world wide. The M16 lacked the long range potential of the M14 in the spotter’s role, but combat had shown a sniper should not fire many rounds from a position least he be found. Having two people firing was more than the idea of no more then 3 rounds fired by the sniper from one hide. The M16 was more controllable on full-auto fire, was lighter and the spotter could carry more ammo. Later in the war 30 round magazines became available and gave it even more advantage over the M14. The spotter, already burdened with security, the team radio and other mission support equipment, benefited from the smaller lighter M16.
The M16 was officially considered for sniping use, but lacking a fast enough twist rate for heavy match ammo, and no match ammo, made the chance of it being the standard impossible at the time. Since then the M16 has been developed into sniping roles as the US Army’s DMR, the USMCs SAM-R and the special operational forces M12 MoD 0 and MOD 1. Using the 77 gr. MK 262 MOD 1 ammo, the MKI12 has recorded kills as far as 800-900 yards and is one of the most effective weapons in the US military when looking at weapons responsible for enemy kills. The M16 was also used by some in the USMC as a sniping tool before enough sniping rifles were sent to asia. Usually the rifle user purchased the Colt 3x scope and mounted it on the carry handle. Other special scope bases were made by RTE and USAMTU armorers for sniping use. When in the right hands, recorded kills out to 900 yards were made with the M16/scope a few times, though very rarely.
The other often overlooked but very important piece of equipment was the spotting scope. Used to ID targets, spot missed shots and scan the area for targets, the M49 spotting scope was carried whenever the misison justified its use. Often times the lower magnification of the sniper rifle optics was not enough to ID a target over a civilian and a shot could not be taken with out proper ID by the spotter and spotter scope. The scope was also used to judge wind, mirage and help judge range so that sniper had the most accurate data possible to make his long range shot. The scope was also used for spotting artillery and many other uses.
The M49 was a 20x power spotting scope that came with its own plastic carrying case for transport.The M49 is still in use today. The M49 also came with a Tripod for steadying it and for small adjustments to correcting its position so the user would not disturb the scope. The tripod came with its own webbing canvas carrying case that could be hooked to web gear.
The other common items used by the sniper team was the light weight jungle rucksack. The pack originally was intended for mountain troops and had a frame that could be used to carry large heavy loads for mountain and winter operations. It was the common issued jungle pack during the war but was by no means the only ruck used. Some sniper teams used captured NVA rucks or the Indig ARVN packs.
Above an M40 rests across a jungle ruck with the spotters M14 and M49 off to the side.
USMC sniper teams used a wide variety of equipment during the war in asia with this being a small part. The list would have also included radios, binoculars, food, the Colt 1911 as sidearms, maps, hats and camo uniforms and face paint, extra ammo, ponchos, poncho liner, knives etc. These are some of the most well known and famous of the many tools used by the Marines to become the premier sniping experts in the world. Next time I will take a look at some of the uniforms and web gear used during the war and the Army’s XM21 M14 sniper and the M14 and the myth that surrounds it.
In parts 1-3 Shawn has pretty much covered most of I would say.
Previously, I owned an Armalite AR10 model 10A4F and I replaced that with a LMT MWS which I quickly got rid of.
The Armalite was about $1500, and was a nice rifle. However with its 20 inch barrel, A2 stock, and longer then AR15 action, it make for a long almost awkward rifle. While it did deliver its guaranteed 1.5 MOA, it was neither the handy battle rifle I would have liked, nor a semi-auto precision rifle. So I replaced it with a LMT MWS. The MWS had some very nice features, but I had some issues with mine, and sold it quickly.
Now having tried the Colt 901, I much prefer the Colt over the previous two rifles I owned. The 901 is surprisingly soft shooting. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have recoil, but that it is a smooth impulse. Perhaps the M1 Garand might be a good comparison. The Armalite I owned was not that pleasant to shoot, and the MWS, while nice, was still a much sharper recoil impulse. When shooting the 901 off of a Harris bipod, the rifle recoils straight back, making it easy to watch my impacts through the NightForce 2.5-10×24 scope I was using. When shooting offhand with an Aimpoint T1, the 901 recoiled smoothly up and back, I want to say that the recoil impulse is smoother than shooting a M4 with M855. I don’t want to make some claim that the rifle has light recoil, but I find it extremely fun and easy to shoot.
I have noticed some people questioning the choice of the Vortex flash hider on the 901. I know it to be an excellent choice. 16 inch barreled 308s have a good deal of flash and blast depending on ammunition used. This pronged flash hider helped break up the flash and concussion from the shorter barrel, and makes the rifle much more pleasant for those around the shooter. While a pronged flash hider will ring(most noticeable when dry firing), it is not noticed when firing the rifle.
The 901 is not light, but in my opinion, it balances well. The Armalite rifle felt very nose heavy. The MWS, while similar weight, had most of its weight in its barrel, making the rifle far more awkward then the 901. The 901 handles very similarly to a MK18/CQBR with Daniel Defense RIS II and a suppressor. It is not light, but it feels far closer to that of a M4 then the MWS. I found the 901 easier to shoot well then the MWS.
On a side note, when I tried DAG surplus 308 in the LMT MWS, I could only get 6 inch groups at 100 yards with it. It got to the point where people were making fun of me with my performance with that rifle. This same ammo gives me 2.5 inch groups in the 901. So far, in my limited testing, the 901 seems less ammo sensitive then the MWS.
I spent much of the time shooting the rifle with a Magpul CTR stock, the VLTOR IMOD that came with it works very nicely as well.
The Colt 901 is an awesome rifle, but it is not perfect. So there are some things you should know before you buy one.
1. The 901 uses a non-standard height front sight, so it comes with a Troy micro rear sight. Standard AR15 rear BUIS will not work unless you use a rail mounted front sight on the monolithic top rail.
2. The area where the trigger pins are on the lower is reinforced. This means if you replaced the trigger, you will want to use the slightly longer trigger pins that come with the 901s trigger.
3. 5.56 PRI Gasbuster charging handles will not work with the 901 lower. It is unknown if the BCM gasbusting Gunfighter charging handles will work.
4. The 901 comes with “Colt Spec” .308 PMags. These Colt Spec mags have an over insertion prevention tab on them. I primarily ran the 901 with standard Magpul 308 Pmags and had no issues. When using the standard PMags, think just like using standard GI mags in an AR15, push into the mag well, then pull to make sure it is seated. The Colt Spec mags are nice, but not mandatory. With the upper removed, I found it was a non-issue.
5. The quad rail on the 901 is tall and narrow. I think that rail panels might not be a good choice for this rifle, but it does work well with ladder covers. I think that LaRue index clips were a little too slick for the 901. A Knights handstop and VFGs work well on the 901, but are lower from the bore then I am used too.(I mainly use the Daniel Defense RIS II rail).
6. The 901 is nose heavy, however it is not too different then a M4 with accessories, or a SBR with suppressor. I find it better balanced then many of the other .308 variants I have owned or used.
Please don’t read this list the wrong way, I HIGHLY recommend the 901. It is good to know these sort of things before you buy the rifle.
What I am looking forward to most is having an SBR 901. I am excited about having a 308 upper, and a short 5.56 upper in the same case, with a single .30 cal can I could run on both uppers.