Accuracy of the Milspec AR15 Carbine barrel

This post is a short follow up to my recent project/ article to shooting the AR15 at 1,000 yards.   The point of the long range shoot was to show that the system is not the short range gun that a lot of people who know every little, claim it to be.   I talked about making effective hits on a man sized target more then accuracy the last time, so this time I am going to talk a bit about accuracy of a carbine that does not have a match barrel or trigger in it


Above is a picture you can click on to make larger.  It is several groups shot from a M4 carbine at 200 yards.  The aiming points are the orange dots that are 1 inch in diameter.   While I did not use a match barrel or trigger, I did use a Leupold 18x target scope to be able to  see well enough.  I also shot from a bench using a rest adn sand bags and all the proper technique used during a BR match.  OF course, I also used match ammo for the testing.    The typical carbine of good quality, even with a milspec chromed lined barrel with NATO chamber will deliver accuracy at a level not really needed from a military or defensive carbine.      I used a few different types of match ammo during testing. All of it heavy. All of my carbines use the 1/7 twist so I can take advantage of the better ammo.

From time to time you will read some guy on a gun board telling you how his carbine or rifle will shoot M193 or M855 into sub MOA groups.   This means they shot 5 or 10 or whatever, rounds, into a group smaller then 1 inch at 100 yards, or 2 inches at 200 yards etc.   This is so close to impossible, you can safely call them a  liar.  The gun may be very accurate, the barrel may even be the finest match barrel money can buy with a jewel trigger . But the quality of the gun, can not over come, the quality of the ammo.   The fact is,  loaded rounds have to be made under very strict and demanding quality control processes to be consistent.  That is how the bullets group so close.  Having a good gun, and good ammo as well as proper skill all go together. But, you can not have a great gun, and perfect skill and shoot sub minute of angle with ammo the factory that made it only needed it to be 4 MOA.   Nothing you or the gun can do, will over come this. It is a universal fact.  Now, some fluke ammo lots can shoot good. It is not that military ammo can not be made to shoot well, it can, but it needs a level of care that the factoriues making it do not intend to give, or the gov even needs. It takes more time, and components made to very high standard.   Why would lake city make M855 that would shoot 1/4 inch at 10 yards? So it can be fired form a  SAW  at a window in a mud hut 567 yards away ?   No. Just no.   If you want to shoot tight groups ( 1 MOA or less) with your gun, you have to have good ammo along with everything else.


The above picture has been shown before on this blog.  It is 18 shots fired into one group, from a milspec barrel Colt 6940, I used the same methods as when I fired the groups above.   I fired this group to bust the very common myth that a 1/7 twist has to shoot bullets that weigh more then 62 grains.

Those 18 rounds are 40 grain Hornaday ballistic tip bullets. That orange dot is once again, A 1 inch dot.   The 1/7 twist barrel will shoot lighter bullets just fine. That is, if it is a well made barrel to begin with, not a match barrel. Not some noveske match barrel, but a milspec chrome lined barrel.  How much more accuracy  do you need? Is it worth the extra cost?   I am always amused to see some of the barrels people buy, and the privce of these barrels. just to blas M193 or wolf ammo into a target 25 to 50 yards away, or even 100 yards.   Ask yourself how much you gained from that highly expensive barrel with some new gee wiz coating, and was it really worth it.  Really test you current barrel with good ammo before you start buying some of the hyped “match barrel”  USe a good scope and ammo and BR technique, or get some who knows how, and test what you already got.  You may be very surprised.







Above is another example. This was using a popular and  common load used during high power for the AR15. It  is the Seirra 77 grain bullet that I loaded myself with the utmost care. It is 20 rounds.   This is not a special barrel. I have seen many plain milspec barrels that would do at the worst 1 to 2 MOA  with decent ammo, and usually it is closer to 1.5 MOA with match ammo.    AR15 pattern carbines and their accuracy is like a diamond in the rough. You have to learn to work around the things that hold you back. The trigger on a milspec rack grade gun is not pleasant or easy to use when shooting for small groups, but you can get used to it and learn it.  The barrels are not always free floated, but you can shoot in ways to not stress the barrel and get it to hot. Optics can be changed around easily and the butt stocks can be worked around. It is almost a mental block, or conditioning that has people thinking that their rack grade guns have to be upgraded to shoot well.  Of course there are some crap guns out there made by more then a few crap factories, but even the most unreliable will often have pretty decent barrels.  It is hard to mess up a AR15 when it comes to accuracy, there is very little that can effect it once the barrel is floated , and even if its not, it is already very close to being free floated.  The thing to remember though, is that accuracy is not everything.. You must have a carbine or rifle that is 100 percent reliable and combat hardened if you want it for defense use.  If you are a dirt blaster or can shooter, then it does not matter I guess.  If you want tight groups, the most import thing to remember after your own skill, and quality of the barrel is that you have to have quality ammo.  Never use M193 or M855 or any ammo that is not meant to be match accurate, as a way to judge your rifles potential accuracy.

AR15 At 1,000 Yards (Can a rack grade AR15 and M855 make 1,000 yard hits?)

For a while now there has been a lot of talk about how ineffective the 5.56 service round is. It’s all over the internet gun boards and the popular slick newsstand gun magazines.  Time and time again we are all told how the 5.56 is a 200-yard gun, or if you’re using a carbine, you’re stuck with a 50-yard gun.  Everyone knows this, it’s just plain common sense!   The problem is, it’s not really true.  A whole lot of people sound off about something they really don’t know much about and have zero experience with.    This amused me for a few years, then as more and more time passed it really started to bug me to the point of aggravation.  A certain type will always repeat the same inaccurate info and we all know that. The problem is that it causes those in military service to lose confidence in their service weapon and what it can do. Confidence in your tools is an important thing, if you believe in and know for a fact what your rifle can do, you shoot it better.

Most serious followers of the AR15 platform know about the MK12 rifles and have read stories about 500 to 800-yard kills and how effective it has been in the GWOT.  A few are at least vaguely familiar with High Power service rifle matches.  But they assume any AR15 type rifle that can be used for these ranges is by necessity some super customized and specialized weapon.  Obviously there is truth in that. To shoot a winning score at Camp Perry you have to have some specialized rifle work done and use special ammo.    When these accomplishments are brought up in discussion, they are shot down by the people who “know better” because they are not the same guns issued out to troops or normal civilian users for self protection.  And so it goes on and on, that the AR15 is a 200-yard gun.

It is not.   It will do more than most believe, and it will do it with military-issue ammo.

Back in 2006 I started a personal goal of making a 1,000 yard shot on a man-sized target with a Colt A2 with HBAR using only a 1906 leather sling and iron sights in the prone position.  I did make my goal laying prone and setting with the help of 80 grain Sierra matchkings. It took a lot of practice and dry firing leading up to it and it is one of my proudest moments.  I have continued this type of thing ever since and have come to be fully familiar with what an A2 rifle will do.

After years of the 200-yard gun claims, I decided to do this again, but this time I would use a M16A2 upper.  There is a big difference between a Match Target Colt HBAR  with competition sling and FF tubes and match triggers and a  Colt M16A2  with government profile barrel and milspec trigger.

My goal was to repeat my 1,000 yard hits with as close to a rack grade standard issue rifle as I could.   The rifle is a Colt M16A2 upper that was a contract over-run,  It has the 1/7 twist chrome lined barrel in a government profile.  The lower is a Colt lower from another rifle, using the standard milspec trigger.  It doesn’t have 3-round burst or any of the associated parts, but it’s essentially the same as a M16A2.


The M16A2 upper/Match Target lower on left with Colt Cammando on the right.

Instead of the 1906 leather sling, I  used the boring old cotton/nylon parade sling with metal hooks and slider as my only support. I used no rest or bipods and I did not use a 30 round mag as a monopod for support.   The iron sights are A2 standard sights.  Of course. the A2 sights top out at 800 meters when zeroed in the standard methods, but I knew from my last time doing this that careful adjustment of the front sight post will allow you to gain more elevation from the front/rear sight combo to make hits on target at 1,000 yards. My  only other help was a cotton shooting jacket to help me squeeze into the tight uncomfortable shooting positions needed to be able to hit at real distance using iron sights.


I decided to use two different types of ammo since I wanted to reflect the more popular 5.56 loads.  I used black hills MK 262 for my first 10 rounds and M855 for another 10 rounds .  I didn’t expect much from the M855 since it is not MK 262 but I thought I would get close.   The MK 262 is the most common long range load, and for terminal performance it is best to use it anyway.  It is an issue round as well, so I felt it gave no real advantage that handloads would being a normal soldier/Marine could theoretically be able to use it.  Of course civilians can use MK 262 or TAP or the copies of the popular loading.

Getting on paper at that distance is tough and of course I had one of my best friends to spot for me. He is an experienced spotter and long range shooter with iron sights as well and we work together great when trying these projects.  To help me establish zero before making my record shots, I set a steel gong about half the size of the man sized target beside the  paper target I would be using for record group.


The steel gong can be seen on the left in the picture and is painted neon  red/orange. the record paper target is to the right of the steel gong and is a man sized ( belt to head) black target with bullseye in the center mass.

I fired 10 rounds of the MK262 first at the steel gong to make sure I was on,then refined my hold.  After making hits I moved to the record paper target and fired.  I fired 10 rounds and got 6 rounds in the target.   All six rounds would be fatal. One was in the center circle “bullseye” and some in the lower groin.  The rest of the rounds did not go in the black, but were so close they almost cut the outline of the target.


Clicking the image will enlarge it and allow better inspection of the hits. They are hard to see since it is black but I tried to mark them with a red sharpie.



The close picture above shows the shot in the center bull , the hole is cutting a white line. Some of the upper body shots can be seen in the upper right ( viewers right) of the target/picture.  Lower hits can not be seen.

If this does not seem special to you, remember, this is with a rack grade rifle, using rack grade sights using only a sling.  A fast look up of the size of the regulation NRA  1,000 yard national match targets used at camp perry for a comparison will give some perspective.  Just find the measurements on the NRA  bull only and the 10 ring.  And compare to how small this target is.

Next up I started what I thought would be a lesson in frustration and I shot all around the targets like mortar rounds using M855.  I knew I could get very close and was fairly confident I would get on target in the black.  I expected a elbow or ear lobe type of hit but nothing special.  I started out with my earlier 10 rounds on steel and then 10 on the record target.  I fully expected to shoot them, then go check out the target to see if I was close.  I planned on shooting at least 50 rounds before I got a decent hit with the m855.    Even at that rate, it would still be nothing to snub at.  M855 is not match ammo. But I knew it would get close. Machine guns are expected to make some hits that far and that was the original goal of the SS109/M855 anyway.  Keep that in mind when people say the M855 or 5.56 is a 200-yard cartridge.

I went through the process again. I fired 10 rounds at the steel. My spotter told me I was making hits, and I even heard one ring the plate loudly. I knew then I was as close as I probably was going to get as far as my zero and hold would be after some adjusting of the rear sight to make up for the M855 trajectory being different than the MK 262 round.


By this point it was about 92 degrees and sweat was pouring in my eyes and glasses.  I decided to fire the 10 rounds on record then go look at the target to take a break. The barrel was very hot at this point from heat of firing and the sun. I even had stripped off the shooting jacket because of the heat.  My intention was to see if I was even close to the black before I shot up all my M855  using the same sight correction that may have been off.

I had swapped to the IDPA target to have a fresh target and because of the position of the sun.  The light brown color of the target was easier on the eyes then black and did not cause as much trouble with the front sight as the black target would have by this time of day.

You can imagine our surprise when I walked down to the  IDPA target I had shot at.   One of the 10 rounds fired had hit the “A” of the A zone of the target, one was a head shot, and a third was a center hit in the lower gut.


That is three rounds out of 10.  Ten rounds of military grade, Lake City green tip M855. Fired from a contract over run Colt M16A2 upper with  milspec trigger.  Using a parade sling made from cotton.  Three rounds of what is the least thought of US issue military ammo made using nothing more than a sling for support while laying prone and using iron sights.   I was very pleased.  And I do not feel that three rounds out of 10 on this size target with this rifle is a paltry accomplishment.  I have made better shots with much higher quality match guns, I have made a 1 mile shot, but this is as pleasing to me as any of those other shots.

Everyone there promptly said, “no one will believe it” so I had them witness and sign the target.


This is not some special gimmick.  The AR15 is fully capable of this kind of shooting.  If you shoot and are familiar with your weapon as much as you should be, you too can do this.  If you can do this at 1,000, think of what you can really do at say only 500 or 600.  A trained rifleman should be able to destroy a squad in the open at 700 or under with nothing more than an A2/A4 using issue ammo.  It does not take the over-hyped relic M14 to do it either.   The M4 will come very close to this performance as well.  Those who say the M4 is almost useless for anything past 50 yards need to wake up.   Using the M262 ammo and iron sights, we have made multiple hits on the same type of targets at 800 yards.  The lack of a plain M4 with iron sights currently is the only reason why you are not looking at the pictures of 800 yard results with an M4.  It will do it.  In fact, the M4 is more accurate then the 20 inch rack grade service rifles.  That will be a project for next month.

The guns like the SPR MK12 have given the impression to a lot of people that only those types of AR15 pattern weapons can hit as far.   It is a question of accuracy and how much you need.   If you need to make head shots at 600 yards, sure, I would pick the MK12.  But if all you need or all your skill allows is center mass hits, then the service carbine/rifle is perfectly capable of these at long ranges.

It is a training issue.  Its a marksmanship issue.   Spend less time trying to put 15 rounds in a man sized target at 15 yards in 1/2 second and spend a little more time practicing the basics and really learning what you and the gun can do.   The fast DA hyper-violent shooting has its place to be sure, and do not neglect it.  But don’t let it take over your mind.  Being able to knock down the bad guy before he gets within the range of double taps is also important.   Would you rather trade shots at 25 yards or  pepper the bad guy at 700 before he can shoot you?   That won’t always be the case of course, but it is a skill you should have if you want to call yourself a rifleman with well rounded skills.

The terminal effects of the round at these ranges is another matter and gives people an excuse to not practice. The thing is, a hit is a hit. Kills at 800 yards have been made with the MK12, so that should tell you something.  Even if it takes 3 hits to put some one down at 900 yards with your 5.56 carbine, they are still down at 900 yards.  I would gladly use up three rounds than have to deal with a bad guy at 50 yards.  Ten rounds needed to stopping a target 900 yards away is worth more then 100 rounds when the bad guy is with 50 as far as I am concerned.  Work with your weapon, learn it and don’t let the gun rag writers and forum experts make you lose confidence in your tool.  The AR15 and the 5.56 work.  Don’t listen to the fluff used to sell new platforms/calibers.


Link to Q&A about the article.

A lot of people who emailed me, or commented on the subject wanting to know how it was done and my procedures etc.  After talking to a friend about it, I re read the article and realized that I should have been more clear in some parts. While the majority of people know what the point I was trying to make, some others seem to think I was trying to say something between the lines. So I am going to answer the question that have popped up from a few people since the article.

First is the assumption that I was making any claims about the terminal performance of the 5.56/M855 round or even the MK 262 at this distance.  I was not.   I simply shot  the drill as a way to demonstrate that the AR15 is capable of  accuracy and accomplishments a lot of people do not bother to imagine or try out.    I never said the 556 would knock a man down at 1K or penetrate X amount of inches.   But, a hit is a hit.   I doubt few would volunteer to be shot at 1K with a 556 to prove how wrong I am.   In the 6os a man was knocked off a bicycle from a stray 22LR shot that escaped over a range berm in Ohio.  It was over a mile from where the shooter was setting.   That does not prove a thing.  But a hit is still indeed a hit.  Even if it feels like a hornet sting, if some one is nailing you at 1,000 yards, that would demoralize me and seriously make me rethink wanting to get closer.  The SS109 was meant to fired at longer ranges in LMG use. So to claim it would not put some kind of hurt on a person is absurd.  How effective that hurt is, is another matter and not the convern of the article.

How did I see the target and what aiming point did I use to be able to hit such a target ?  That is the next common question.   It is simple.  I adjusted the front sight to account for more  elevation. I did not go out with a military 25Meter zero.   Elevation was adjusted using the front sight for the most part and I refined it with the rear since I had plenty left over to play with.   I zeroed the sights at 1,000 yard to the point I used a so called “6 oclock hold”  But actually I adjusted the sight to the point where I held the front site about 5 foot below the target.  That is why I had the steel gong painted neon orange.  I got on the steel. then moved to the paper.   It was not some impossible thing to do or a miracle.  Nor was it “flinging lead down range” ’till I got lucky

You can not get lucky if you don’t do everything right before hand.

Having the hold so far below the point of impact gave me plenty of room to see the target and light. I also could see any impacts into the dust to make windage changes or any other change I needed.  Also a spotter with a 60x spotting scope to help.

How did you do it without 80 grain  bullets with a OAL that required you to single feed?   That was where the gross amount of sight manipulation comes into play and a shooting lane between two hills blocking all but a head wind.   The 80s are great, and if you are trying to hit a X ring at perry, you will need them or the 77 grain HPBT. But with enough adjustment in your sights, you can get just about anything on target. If it is a decent weight.  Careful reading will show I shot the heavier match 77 grain load to get on target initially and had  doubts about the M855. I never said that the M855 was a wonder bullet.

What enemy did you expect to prove the M855 would kill at 1,000 yards?   A cardboard target is all I set out to prove the round would hit. Though few would really let some one shoot them at 1K with the 556 no matter how much the claim other wise.  Also when I said “lethal” hits,  I wrongly assumed people knew that most hits in the “black” of the target are considered solid hits, not anatomically correct. So yeah, my use of lethal was a slang term used in the context of the too large scoring area of military targets. And people have bled to death from groin and lung hits.  So I guess I would consider them lethal depending on the abilities and medical expertise of the enemies you are engaging.  But draw your own conclusions.  My point was to show that the AR15 in stock form will hit at 1,000 yards with good and issue ammo if you know what you are doing. Nothing more.  Furthermore, it was not just luck getting the M855 on target. It is certainly not match accurate ammo. But it is within reason to expect a decent lot of M855 to be able to hit a man.

If the article gave you more confidence in your weapon that was my goal. It does not matter if the average Marine or soldier can or can not do it. It matters what you can do with it when it is in your hands.   It does not matter if you can not imagine needing to take a shot like that. Having the skill builds your confidence and it is there on the off chance you ever need it.  Why does anyone even bother shooting at anything?

According to The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich,  confirmed kills were made in Vietnam with the M16A1 and 55 grain M193 at 800 meters.  That does not make the combo a sniper rifle or the last word on the subject, but it does show what the right combination of marksman, weapon and skill, can achieve.  Crazy long shots have been made with weapons people never dreamed  of since before  Billy Dixon  knocked and Indian Chief off his horse at the battle of Adobe Walls.   The test was done to show that no matter what you are using, you should always be confident in your skill being able to make hits that are beyond what so called experts say. And, to the limit of what the system is capable of and beyond if possible.Improved marksmanship is something to always strive for, no matter what the weapon and ammo is.  It hurts nothing to have the ability to shoot this far. Oddly enough some people are just out right offended that I did this.  As if hitting your target at such a long range is offensive to them.  It is never a waste of time to be able to hit as far as you can on a realistic sized target.

The Tactical Link Enhanced Battery Assist Lever, A New Standard.

Ever since the magpul BAD lever came out, I loved the concept.  It’s a great idea.  The speed you gain from manipulating the bolt lock it back to clear malfunctions is a great thing, but I hated the way it was made. I know some of the diehard magpul fans will scream for blood, but the BAD lever wasn’t well done.  I have tried them over and over.  They fail to allow the bolt to lock back every time.  They wiggle and loosen too easily.  The screw heads would round off almost as soon as I put them on.  Two of them I bought came with a torx wrench that rounded off before I could get the tiny screw tightened.  One came with a screw that was out of spec.  They constantly frustrated me.  But I still loved the idea, even if the execution came up short in my opinion.  I see the BAD lever as something fit only for a game like 3-gun.  It isn’t reliable enough for hard use.

All of that has changed with the Tactical Link Enhanced Battery Assist Lever.  This really is the answer for being able to manipulate the bolt with the firing hand.


This thing is big and strong and coated with Cerakote in different colors.  Unlike the tiny little excuse for a screw that comes on the older product, it comes with two screws big enough to secure it and a set screw to keep tension on the parts to hold them in proper place.  The screws come with a thread locking compound and are to be snugged finger tight.  Unless you can’t follow simple directions, there’s no way to screw this up.  These screws are not junk, and there’s no danger of them being rounded-off here.


The paddle section you need to hit with your finger is larger and extended further out than the other models.  It doesn’t really seem like a big deal, but it really is easier to work with the new lever.  The BAD lever was always a little small and I sometimes had to hunt around a little.  Between the size and the angle it sat inside the trigger guard, it just wasn’t in the optimal spot for me to manipulate.  That isn’t the case with the new paddle.  You might assume that it sticks out too far and causes problems, but it doesn’t, nor does it get in the way when you don’t need it.  I was a little surprised.  I expected it to be like most extended parts that need me to change my methods and get used to it, but this was not the case.

It’s very easy to get to when you’re in a hurry.  In strange positions I don’t find myself hunting for it.


You can see in the picture above how nice and flat the paddle is. It’s not just a nub on this part.  The other styles had me having to just ram my entire finger in and lift up to make sure I connected to the lever.  I like this a lot better because less is needed to hit it, but its not so easy as to get in the way and there’s no stray piece of gear somehow getting hit and shutting every thing down.  It also works with and clears the Norgon Ambi catch. This is something I consider a must and it fills my need.  With the EBAL, the Norgon, and KAC ambi safety, I get an all ambidextrous lower with parts I know are very high quality.


When the bolt is locked back, the BAL doesn’t wiggle or move on the gun like the BAD.  It is solid thanks to the way it attaches to the ping pong paddle.  It always bugged me how the BAD lever would move all around.  That just added the problems to that tiny single screw that held it on and allowed more flex. It also could let the lever end up in different positions.  Not so with the tactical link.  It is rpck solid.  The flat wide part of the paddle is easy to hit when in the locked back position and is a real pleasure.  I have to admit I love this thing.  If you buy into the assist levers, I really recommend throwing whatever else you have away, and swapping to this. It always locks back after the last round unlike other types that constantly frustrated me.  Also, it was made for milspec parts and tested using Colt milspec parts for its R&D  phase.  This is very important.  A lot of guys on gun boards or gun rags will tell you milspec is an over used termc(it sometimes is) and it doesn’t matter.  But it simply does matter and it is important.  It is a standard that parts have to be held to so that you know for certain that the part or gun will perform reliably.  Some will say it is the minimum standard, but that’s not the entire story.  It’s a standard that can be counted on for certain.  If it’s so unimportant, then why do so many companies not meet the entire range of milspec, but still work so hard in advertising to make it look like they do?  There is a reason, and it’s not because it’s unimportant.  The EBAL is made to work with the milspec and be as tough and durable as the guns they intend for it to go on.  The cerakote is not milspec of course, but for a part like this, finish is not as important as how tough it is, and how its made.  So, don’t turn this down because it’s not made to the same black anodized milspec finish.   I know I’m not the only one who appreciates the efforts of companies to give us something other than black. As you can see I chose FDE to go on my FDE anodized Colt 6940, and it looks pretty good in my opinion.


This is a heavy duty part. It’s made to be tough and work and when you use it, and it works well.  I have no complaints and I like to be nit picky when it comes to parts that are supposed to help with speed.  Most of the time they’re only good for something like 3-gun but not this one.  This is very well thought out and it just plain works.

There is a caveat to little neat tools like the BAD lever,and EBAL but that applies to everything else added to your rifle to add performance.  The rub is that if you suddenly have to use a carbine without it, you may be stymied for half a second.  I only mention that to give you something to think about, not to talk anyone out of it.  If the addition is worth it, then use it, but still train on a gun without it occasionally.  I keep the EBAL on my main gun and will add more to others, but I will also practice with stock carbines from time to time just in case.  This is something that applies to everything on a gun set up to personal taste.  Don’t let that turn you away from performance enhancing parts because when set up wisely and smart, they give you a huge advantage, and if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t winning.

The Colt Defender.

I am not a fan of subcompact guns for CCW or duty use.  A lot of people will tell you how much they love their tiny ittty bitty whatever model and how well it works and how small and comfortable it is to carry.  They will tell you all of this in all sincerity.  What most of them are really saying, if you read between the lines, is how much they love it because it is small and light and they don’t notice they are carrying it.  Not many of them have shot any of the subcompacts enough to really know how it will perform.   Or course an argument could be made that you do not need it to fire hundreds of rounds in a self defense situation and so on, but the truth is that it you keep it long enough, it will be eventually fired to the point where it starts to malfunction.  They are based on full-sized guns that work well.  Just like when you shoehorn a piston into the AR15 platform, when you make the same gun a lot smaller, it doesn’t always pan out.

Now with that out of the way I do like them for certain uses.  My main use of the subcompact is for a backup gun to my main full-sized EDC piece.  Now, for a subcompact, I mean anything smaller then a commander sized gun.  I know there are a lot of different ideas about what is a subcompact, but for now, I mean smaller than a commander.  I consider an Officers model and a Defender to both be a subcompacts.

I had a Defender for a few years and only sold it when I saw another full size 1911 I HAD TO HAVE.  I do not regret that one bit, but I do miss it.  I served me well and I had a little over 1,000 rounds through it.  I trusted it, but not like I trust a Gov model.   I carried it on my ankle and sometimes on my alternate killing hand side, depending on the weather and what I would be doing for most of the time I had it on.


The Defender came with the always nice Novak sights and a Hogue rubber grip.  I detest the Hogue grip , so I replaced it with a set of wooden grips.  I also added an STI extended thumb safety.   The frame was alloy and light and was hard to notice when you had the gun with you. The pistol came with two 7-round stainless steel Colt mags as standard.   The magazines are the interesting and most important part to me and the reason I am writing about it.

Since I carried the Defender as a backup, I always had two guns chambered in the .45 ACP round.   I love having two side arms that chamber and fire the same ammo, and I adore having two guns, of two sizes, that will use the same mags.


The defender does use as standard, a shorter mag than the full sized gov model or the Commander, but it will accept and work perfectly with the full-size mags.  I could carry the full-sized 1911 with two spare mags of 8 rounds each, plus the Defender with its standard magazine around my ankle just to keep it as small as I could.

My thoughts were that if my full sized gun was hit, dropped , became to jammed up or rendered inoperable in some way, the Defender would still work with my spare mags.  Anyone can see the appeal to this.  Being able to use any 1911 mag in the Defender was handy indeed.


In the picture above, the Defender has a Wilson Combat 8 round mag in it.  Of course the mag sticks out the bottom of the well a little, but it harms nothing. In fact, it even aids in control of reloading in some ways.

At the time, I did not have the Wilson 10 round mags , but if I did, I would use them the same as I do now and have the 10 rounders ready as reloads, just the same as I do now,only I would use them in my back up defender. They work perfectly, just like the other mags.


The mags fall out nice and clean and always lock back when empty.  I guess some would say you can over insert them, but I see that as a training issue. I have never seen it happen anyway, so it is not much of a concern to me.


For a small pistol chambered in the .45 ACP, it handles and shoots well. It does have a little more bit to it, but nothing uncomfortable.  The shorter sight radius requires perfect alignment and trigger control with little room for forgiveness. But that’s something you need to be paying attention to anyway.  For most uses they will claim these types of guns are for close range and not for anything much else.  My friend and I have fired them out to typical hand gun ranges with the same success as the full-size pistols.  I found myself having to slow down when doing hammered pairs, double taps and and rapid fire strings, not because of the small sized gun causing me grip problems, but because of the more noticeable recoil.  After a little practice you get used to it and can go to the same speeds you usually work with comfortably.

The Defender is just as accurate as a full-sized gun.  People who tell you that shorter barrels are less accurate should not be allowed to give you advice on fire arms.  A gun’s barrel length has nothing to do with its accuracy.  It only affects velocity and sight radius. A longer sight radius is easier to shoot.  A gun that is easier to shoot appears to be more accurate.  People have related this with barrel length having a physical effect on the accuracy.  In reality, it’s simply the lessened precision from aiming with a shorter sight radius.

Hits 100 yards on a man-sized target were achieved with the defender with careful trigger control and sight alignment. You know, the basics.


I don’t recommend to anyone to buy and use a subcompact anything as a standard every day carry CCW  handgun.  It’s just not a good idea.  For the new buyer and CCW card holder, they seem great. They are light and handy and easy to hide.  But the dark side is, they kick harder because they are lighter, and the shorter sight radius can frustrate new shooters.  They are not always 100% percent reliable, and the muzzle blast can be off-putting for some.  Of course at night the problem is intensified.  The idiotic porting on the early Springfield Armory subcompacts can really make for a fireworks show.  That is, when you could get them to actually fire.  When they hit a peak in popularity in the late 90s, a local shop ordered 5 of them.  Out of the five, not a single one could make it through 1 magazine without a double feed or worse.  The early Defenders had issues too, but not as severe and Colt worked them out pretty fast.  I have to say the Defender is oddly way more reliable then the older Mustangs and Ponies or any of the so-called pocket pistols and Officer’s models.   The worst I have seen are the Kimbers with the external extracts.   I am being extra hard on the subs because  I really feel you’re just asking for trouble if you carry them and expect them to take the abuse of a full-sized gun.   The absolute worst are always in the nearly worthless rounds like .380, .32, and .25.   I guess they might have a place in the world somewhere, but I just don’t see it.  Someone will chine in and tell me they have a Sig or some HK and it always works 100%, but if you hear that, take it with a grain of salt until you can test or see fired a model a few hundred times, get it hot and dirty and run it hard with hollow point ammo and make damn sure it will work. Remember that smaller guns take more abuse and parts wear out at a faster rate.

If you have to have one, or want a compact that is a damn good back up to a main gun, I do recommend the Defender.  You can now get the Defender in 9mm.  Colt and other makers of the 1911 make guns chambered in 9mm, so you can still have the two guns work with the same mags allowing use of the spare mags for a gun made in effective for whatever reason.   I would like to see a .38 Super combo like this, but I doubt it will happen.   The Defender as it is offers high quality and is the only subcompact 1911 that I would trust my life to.  With all things though, test out the subcompacts out for your self.  Don’t buy them just because you think it would be easier to carry.  That is absolutely the wrong reason to buy a gun to defend your life with. A little extra weight all day beats a  hole in your liver made by some cheap .25 ACP Lorcin pistol imply because your subcompact double-fed after the first round.

Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belt for Women

Cassie Larsen submitted this article. 

First Impression:

I had the pleasure of having two first impressions with the Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belt. First: When my husband got two ATLAS belts, loved them and had me wear one during a defensive shooting class.

Training/Range Use:

I wore the ATLAS Belt during a Combat Focus Shooting defensive handgun course. I had the belt on a total of 17 hours that day and at the end of the day, the belt was still comfortable on. I was a little hesitant at first thinking it would be too stiff and dig into my hips. It was my first time wearing a dedicated firearm belt, holster and magazine pouch. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was. It was stiff and a little heavy at first, but I quickly forgot I was wearing the gear.

FDE/FDE Volund Gearworks ATLAS belt, Glock 19, Kydex holster, mag pouch
FDE/FDE Volund Gearworks ATLAS belt, Glock 19, Kydex holster, mag pouch

During a full day of training and drawing from a kydex holster over and over, the belt didn’t move. I didn’t have to adjust the ATLAS belt or my pants at all during the class. Through all the running, bending, sitting, and crouching down, I didn’t have to pull up my jeans. Which is a huge plus for me. Many of the men at the class were constantly pulling up their pants or having difficultly drawing from their holsters because their belts weren’t secure. Since I didn’t have that issue, I was able to focus on the instruction given in class,  without this distraction.

I was very happy with my first experience with the ATLAS belt. It made me want my own ATLAS belt as I wanted to use it every time I go to the range. My husband spoke with the owner of Volund Gearworks (Matt Gibson) and ordered me a custom belt.

Second Impression:

Second: Was when MY ATLAS belt came in the mail. Mine of course is way better than my husbands. Mine is purple and black. The wonderful thing about a purple gun belt is, I know my husband won’t be wearing it. It is truly my very own piece of gun equipment. This is my first gun related item that is only mine.

Size and Fit:

I am 5′ 4”, 135 lbs. I wear a size 5 jeans or a 28/30 depending on the brand. I ordered a size Medium ATLAS belt 32-38. I did this on purpose so that I can wear the belt with an inside the waist band (IWB) holster or an outside the waist band (OWB) holster. I have about 5 inches of overlap with no holster on. With the IWB holster I had 3 inches of overlap. The overlap for me doesn’t add any additional bulk or imprint. I prefer to have that extra overlap in case I want to wear more gear or my weight changes.

The ATLAS is easy to put on and tighten down. The belt fit easily through the loops on all my jeans. The G-Hook buckle is quick to hook onto the loop and easy to remove, but stays secure and doesn’t move unless you manipulate it. I was unfamiliar with the G-Hook and the manipulation of it the day on the range. That first time I wore it, I found myself tightening the belt instead of loosening the belt when I needed to take it off. With some instruction from my husband, I was able to quickly correct my issue. Now I have no problem with the manipulations of the belt.

Purple/Black Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belt
Purple/Black Volund Gearworks ATLAS Belt

IWB & OWB Carry:

I’ve been wearing the ATLAS belt with my jeans, capris and even some skirts. I’ve noticed, during my normal daily routine, I don’t have to pull up my pants or adjust my holster. I didn’t normally wear a belt before receiving the ATLAS, unless it’s a fashion belt that you are supposed to see with my shirt tucked in. So, it has been a little bit of an adjustment to get used to. I have been pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it is. I have used it with a Glock 19 IWB Kydex holster, a OWB Kydex holster and even with no holster. Both holsters have stayed secure with the Atlas and I’ve had no need for adjustments during the day.

Volund Gearworks Atlas Belt, G19 Kydex IWB holster
Volund Gearworks Atlas Belt, G19 Kydex IWB holster
Volund Gearworks Atlas Belt, G19 Kydex IWB holster
Volund Gearworks Atlas Belt, G19 Kydex IWB holster

The IWB Kydex holster I have been using, isn’t the best fit for me, it’s my husband’s old holster.  I was still able to easily conceal with this holster. There are nicer and more comfortable designed kydex holsters on the market now. With the ATLAS belt it kept everything in place. I even ran a block with it on and had no movement.  The ATLAS belt provides a secure stable platform for drawing a firearm from IWB or OWB carry while concealing.  The ATLAS belt secures the holster comfortably along side of my body, allowing me to conceal very well. There is very little printing of the firearm and I have been using a Glock 19.

With a regular leather belt on the gun didn’t sit closely to my body. The holster moved freely from side to side and up and down. Pulling the gun out of the holster I had a good 2 inches of the holster coming up with the gun. I had movement of the holster even with simple walking around. I didn’t feel comfortable and I didn’t feel the gun was secure.

Regular leather belt, G17 OWB holster
Regular leather belt, G17 OWB holster
Regular leather belt, G17 OWB holster
Regular leather belt, G17 OWB holster


I have learned that it is very important to have the right equipment. Without the correct equipment I can’t conceal easily, or comfortably carry for an extended period of time.  I am very happy with my ATLAS Belt. It is very comfortable, most of the time I forget I have it on. I have had no problems with it. I can conceal easily and wear a gun for an extended period of time with an ATLAS belt on. I recommend it to any woman who needs a gun belt. The Volund Gearworks Atlas belt will be my every day conceal carry gun belt.

For a more in depth look at the use and construction of the Volund Gearworks ATLAS belts, follow these links:


Website Link:


AR Grip comparison

Article submitted by M.

I’ve been trying some different AR grips lately and while I had a few on hand I thought I would photo some of the differences in geometry between them to give people an idea of what they will be getting before they drop the cash.

First up is a Magpul K-Grip in comparison to a BCM Gunfighter Grip Mod 0.  They share a similar angle however the K-Grip is shorter, thinner, has a smoother surface and lacks the back strap swell of the Gunfighter Mod 0.

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM GunfighterMagpul K-Grip, BCM GunfighterMagpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Next is the ubiquitous A2 grip in comparison with the BCM Gunfighter Mod 0.  While of similar length the A2 has a steeper angle overall and is of uniform angle on the back strap whereas the BCM Mod 0 has the swell.  They are also of similar width.

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Next we have the A2 in comparison with the Magpul K-Grip.  The K-Grip is smaller in almost every dimension, has a smoother surface, and a more straight up and down angle.

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Here is the A2 with a Magpul MOE.  They share a very similar angle however the MOE is slightly larger in dimension with a somewhat cylindrical feel

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

Finally we have the Magpul K-Grip next to the Magpul MOE grip.  Again the K-Grip is smaller in every dimension with a more straight up and down angle.

Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter Magpul K-Grip, BCM Gunfighter

While I don’t hate the A2 the finger groove annoys me enough that I’ve tried almost all of the well known AR grips on the market over the years in an attempt to find “the one” that I would standardize on all of my AR’s.  Up till now I hadn’t found one that made me say “that’s it” and had more or less settled on the Magpul MOE grip as a good enough but not great solution.  I tried the Magpul K-Grip to see if there was any merit to a grip with a relaxed grip angle, and while I did like the angle I found the overall grip to be too small to be really effective.

Unknown to either one of us at the time and in a bit of parallel discovery Shawn and I both ordered BCM Gunfighter Mod 0 grips to try out at the same time.  So far I’m liking it quite a bit.  The angle is nice for reducing stress on the wrist and the material the grip is made out of strikes a good compromise between too rubbery and too hard.  It’s also a nice compromise in size in that it’s larger than the K-Grip but not so big as a MOE grip.


WW2 PARATROOPER Basic Load For The Normandy Invasion ( D-Day)

This listing below was taken from  a document issuing the basic loads for every parachute infantrymen for the invasion of Normandy.   The info was provided by a former regimental  S-3 of the 101st.

MI- 30-06 rifle: Rounds per weapon: 136, jumped on individual. (128 in Air Corps pockets, 4 clips per pocket), 1-8 rnd. clip in rifle, hand, or jumpsuit pocket (55% ball, 40% AP, 5% tracer. Rifle belt and one bandolier may be used in lieu of the above. 60 Riflemen per company will jump with 1 belt of LMG ammunition (250 rounds); this may be used in M-1 rifles if the situation warrants.

Carbine: Rounds per weapon: 175, jumped on individual. 160 in 2 Air Corps pockets (2 clips and one box per pocket), 15 in hand (1 clip) or jumpsuit pocket (100% ball).

Thompson SMG: Rounds per weapon:300, Jumped on individual. 14 (20 rnd) clips in jump suit pockets or M6 carrying bag, 1 clip in gun, hand, or jumpsuit pocket.

Pistol M1911A1: Rounds per weapon: 21, jumped on individual. 2 clips in pouch, one clip in pistol (100% ball, for pistol and TSMG).

’03 Rifle: Rounds per weapon: 145, jumped on individual. 140 in four Air Corps pockets (7 clips per pocket), 1 5 rnd. clip in rifle, hand, or jumpsuit pocket. The ’03 rifle may not be used if launcher for M-1 rifle is issued. It is now a superimposed weapon and if jumped will have to supplant the primary weapon of the man jumping it.

’03 Grenades: 10, jumped on individual 5 in each of 2 M6 carrying bags (6 fragmentation, 4 A.T.)

Hand Grenades: 4, Jumped on individual. 4 Grenades in jumpsuit pockets (if M6 carrying bag is used, 6 can be carried.)

Rocket Launcher: Rounds per weapon: 12, to be jumped on individual. l round per man; collected and carried, 6 in each of 2 Infantry packs collected by crew after jump. The folding launcher may be issued, and can be jumped. Launchers may be dropped in bundles: if so, ammunition will be dropped in bundle.

60mm mortar: Rounds per weapon: 80, each mortar jumped on 3 men. 14 riflemen jump with 1 round each. 3 mortar squad members jump with 4 each in M6 bag; 54 dropped in bundles and carried in cart (4 carts per company).

81mm mortar: Rounds per weapon: 54, dropped in bundle;carried by 3 men. 30 rounds in cart, plus 6 rounds on each of 4 men, or 5 rounds on 4 men and 4 rounds on 1. (cart and all rounds dropped in bundle). 80% H.E. light, 20% White Phosphorus.

LMG Browning M1919-A4: rounds per weapon: 3250, jumped on 2 individuals. In LMG platoon, 2,000 rounds dropped in bundle and carried on 81mm mortar cart, or by S-4. 1,250 rounds jumped on men. (80% A.P. and 20% tracer). A.P.=Armor-Piercing (steel cored projectile with copper jacket). 60 riflemen in each company jump with 1 belt of LMG ammunition, as indicated in M-1 rifle listing.

Reserve LMG: rounds per weapon: 6,250, dropped in bundle





The Basic load was surprising to me at first considering it was for an airborne unit that would be behind enemy lines. But taking into account the  82nd and 101st thought they would only be in the field for less then a week and would be moving as light infantry and hooking up with full division from the beach it does not seem like a light load.     Of course the load was increased by Operation Market Garden  and changes around after the lessons learned form Overlord.

Harris vs. Atlas bipod comparison.

PATHFilmsNZ posted a nice youtube video comparing the Atlas and Harris bipods.

Personally, I had an earlier model Atlas and got rid of it.  I was disappointed to find that after paying nearly three times the cost of the Harris, I had several issues.

First, the feet on the Atlas tended to roll when I pressed forward on the rifle.

Second, while the Atlas can be adjusted with the knob on the bottom, I could never get it completely locked.  No matter how tight the bottom knob was, the joint always sort of flopped around.

Lastly, I bought the Atlas so I could use the legs at a 45 degree setting, however with the rifle I was using it on, the legs would collapse under the weight of the rifle.  Later I was told it was a known issue, and if I wanted to, I could spend more money to have it fixed by upgrading it to the latest version.  I had spent a good bit just to get the Atlas with ADM mount, spending more was not an option for me at that time.

I ended up going back to the Harris.

Over magnification

Kyle Defoor posted a little article on over magnification of rifle scopes.

Shawn and I often talk about this.  It is amazing the silly combination that are made by people who choose way too much magnification for their firearms intended role.

Too much magnification on the combat rifle slows down target acquisition, follow up shots, moving from target to target, etc.  It is not uncommon to see someone slap a 20x scope on their AK just to find that it makes for a poor precision rifle, and is no longer fast or handy up close.

On the competition or precision rifle too much magnification can cause issues when there is mirage.  Sure that March 80 power scope can read the numbers on a IBS 1000 yard target on a perfect morning, most of the time our 1000 yard competition shooters are using less then 20x due to normal conditions here in Florida.

Excessive magnification hurts, not helps the shooter.