Accuracy Testing Vintage Colt SP-1 AR15 Rifle

Back in June I shot a vintage original Colt AR15 SP-1 carbine  to see  what kind of accuracy could be expected from one in good condition.  The results  got me thinking about the  M16A1 and  the accuracy it could deliver.   Of  course the internet and  gun magazine experts always like to remind us how the original M16s  didn’t impress when it comes to accuracy and you should totally feel good about paying 400 dollars  for modern barrels.  After all  they do have everything man can devise to make them more accurate.  You got gold coloring,  chamber dimensions that are a hybrid of the NATO spec chamber and civilian competition variations,  different materials  and methods and every contour and length you can think of.  Aren’t we lucky that we aren’t stuck with those old crummy barrels from the 60s?

The SP-1, otherwise known as the Colt AR15 is essentially an M16 in all but the fire control group.  The barrel is the same as was used on the M16 series.  Like the SP1 carbine, the  barrel is the 1/12 twist chrome plated ( bore and chamber)  milspec barrel.   The twist rate means you won’t be using any pet 69 or 77 grain bullets, but they didn’t really exist in its original day so your choices were simple.

I put the gun up on bags and use the original Colt 3X scope I have mounted on the gun for shooting the groups.  I wanted to stay within what some one would have used at the time but wanted to be able to squeeze more out of the gun than irons sights would allow me.

Most of the ammo I used were hand loads I have developed over the years that  have always given me great accuracy from bolt guns and semi autos.  I did shoot one group using M93 just to see, but since I wanted to test what the gun could do, I gave it the best ammo I had.

The first group shot ( above) is also the newest load I have developed.  This is one I came up with about 6 years ago with the exact purpose of using the SP1 for hunting  by my Dad. He wanted to shoot a deer with the same gun he carried in Vietnam. I selected the excellent Barness TSX solid copper hollow point for a deer load and it performs.  The TSXs are long for weight since they are solid copper. So you even with a 55 grain bullet you may end up with a bullet a little too long for the 1/12 twist to stabilize.  The 55 TSX will work  fine as it turns out but I wasn’t sure at the time and the bullets are very pricey so i went the safe route.  You can see the 5 round group above, fired from 100 yards.

The next group is an old fav.  The Nolser ballistic tip boat tail  55 gr bullet is a great bullet that seems to be impossible to shoot bad.   It lived up to what I hoped in the AR15.  As I labelled the picture, its 5 rounds at 100 yards.

This group was a little  bit of a surprise to me.  Sierra blitzkings   have always been interchangeable with the Nosler  for me.  It is still nothing to complain about  but i actually thought they would out do the Noslers  for some reason.  Maybe I didn’t let the barrel cool between shots like I had the other groups or  who knows what. That was the last 5 rounds I had with the blitz kings loaded though so I couldn’t shoot a second group.

The Hornady V-max is a great bullet. A short stubby basllistic tip boat tail that you can get going pretty fast in a 556 because of the weight.  Like the Sierra 53 grain flat base HP its short length seems to made for use in an AR15.  It is another load I have been using over 20 years and it always performs.  It really was exceptional in the old SP1.

M193.   No shock here.  Maybe that it even did that good.  But its only 100 yards and that is a 2 inch dot.

The final group.   A full 20 round magazine  of the most accurate lighter weight bullet load I have ever come up with. It’s the load I use in my heavy barrel  223 bolt guns for  crow hunting and varmints. The 50 gr V-max is a great bullet and there is not a .224 round made that won’t shoot it well in my opinion.   I should mention it took me about 35 minutes to shoot those 20 rounds.  I had taken a long break before i started this group and gave it my complete effort and I think it paid off.

Now keep in mind, I did some warm up shooting with the gun and most of those loads before I got down to the “record” strings.   Since the barrel on the original guns are much thinner than what people are used to using now it has to be taken into account when you are trying to  get everything out of it you can.  It took most of the day to shoot those 6 groups.   Letting the barrel cool and slowly firing. Even using that 3x scope took a lot of effort, It is still clear and find but the crosshairs are not what you would call fine,  this being the reason i adjusted the rounds to impact below  my aiming point It was hard enough to see the dots from 100 through it as it was.    The trigger on the gun also was a great help since it is not the factory trigger.  The lower and the FCG  used to belong to a now long retired AMTU armorer and he  had worked the parts over in the 80s  before mass produced match triggers for an AR didn’t exist and not many people ever thought they would exist.   It is a single stage trigger that breaks so light and clean  that you would wonder if its even safe.   I have no idea how he did it  but I have not felt a modern match trigger for semi autos that feels better.  I can honestly say its the best feeling trigger I have.

So, those old barrels and guns aren’t so bad after all, assuming its in good shape and not worn out, shot out or pitted out.  Ammo selection as usual was the limiting factor.  I kinda like the idea of a  varmint precision AR with a 1/12 twist barrel now that i think about it.  Even if it existed though there would not be much point to it, as the 1/7 or 1/8 will shoot these lighter bullets just as well or so close  it isn’t worth debating but the 1/12 will not shoot the heavier more useful  bullets.

 

 

Thoughts on the Pistol Caliber Carbine

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of the pistol caliber carbine(PCC).  PCC’s can be a whole lot of fun, and still hold a place as a fighting weapon.  Yet these guns are in a sort of odd place.  There are some cheap ones that are hit or miss, some expensive ones that are mostly purchased for the novelty or nostalgia (UZI, MP5), and other oddball options.

Pros:

  • cheap ammo
  • low recoil
  • easy to suppress
  • higher capacity than a pistol
  • easier to shoot than a pistol
  • better sight and optics options than a pistol
 Cons:
  • more expensive than a pistol
  • not concealable like a pistol
  • rifle size and weight with out a rifles performance
  • generally more costly than a pistol

Many people and groups have moved from the SMG and PCC to carbines and Short Barreled Rifles.  Smaller rifles give better terminal ballistics and vastly increased range.

Questions you need to ask are:
  • What price are you willing to pay?
  • What caliber do you want?
  • Do you want something small, or are you will to have something rifle sized? (Barrel Length)
  • Do you want a proper stock, or is the arm brace sufficient?

There are four common configurations of PCCs.

First is a 16 inch barreled rifle with stock.  Be it a .357 level action, or a Hi-Point carbine, these rifles are purchased just like any other rifle.   This is the most common, and the most practical version of the PCC.  Easy to purchase and use.  Only real downside to a rifle sized firearm in a pistol caliber is the barrel length.  Often, pistol cartridges gain little from a 16+ inch barrel, so a standard rifle ends up being larger than what would be ideal.

Face it, a Thompson is more of a rifle than a carbine.

The second common configuration is that of a large pistol.  For example the Tec-9s or semi auto MAC-10s.  These are purchased and sold just like a pistol.   Larger examples can be found in the MP5K and Scorpion EVO 3 pistols.  These are fun, but tend to be the least useful configuration.  They are larger and heavier than a full sized pistol, and can be large enough to make them awkward to shoot.

As cool as this is, it isn’t exactly a practical pistol.

 

Now, there is a better third option.  With the advent of the various forms of arm braces, we see these large pistol firearms gain a great deal of utility with an arm brace.

These arm braces have added a great deal of utility to these huge pistols.

Fourth major option is to go with a short barreled rifle.  This is often considered the best way to go, but unlike the previous options you end up with a multitude of various downsides.  There is a long waiting time while the ATF processes your paperwork.  Then you should keep a copy of that paperwork with you(not the original).  Not to mention issues like not being able to lend it to people or limitations on traveling between states, etc.  Despite all of that, I would still recommend going this route if you intend to use a pistol caliber carbine a good bit.  16 inch barrels are rather unnecessary in pistol cartridges, and it is well worth having a functional stock.  That said, the cost and time involvement to get a SBR makes it not right for most.

I personally use a Colt 6991 9mm upper on a SBR lower.

 

NRA supports new gun control legislation, GOP already working on it.

The NRA has released a statement about their support for new gun control laws.

“In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented.  Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control.  Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.  This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.  In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.  The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.  In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.  To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”

The Republican party is already prepping a new bill to ban bump fire stocks.  More information here at CNN.

People either forget or ignore that you can not legislate people into acting morally.  Some pro gun groups and people think that we can compromise with anti-gunners.  There is no compromise in cases like this, all we are doing is handing a victory to the people who want to erode our right