Let’s See Whitworths Shoot!

In our ongoing tribute to our now deceased friend “Hognose” , owner of weaponsman.com , we repost   his best articles.  Kevin O’Brien   US Army Special Forces  Veteran passed away in April of last year.

 

 

Let’s See Whitworths Shoot!

Last month we had a couple posts on the Sharpshooters of the Civil War, and on the Confederates’ unique Whitworth rifle.

Fred Ray, who’s written an excellent book on the Rebel Sharpshooters, sold us a copy of his book (highly recommended, and it’ll be in the next review roundup), and also linked us to a few videos of modern Whitworth shooters. Fred has forgotten more about this stuff than we’ve ever learned, so you can read what he writes with confidence.

Let’s take them in the inverse order from the way Fred posted them: hardest first. Here is a guy trying to hit a target at 1,300 yards with a Whitworth.

That kind of hit was credibly reported by both Rebel and Yankee observers of the Confederate marksmen. (The English Whitworth rifle was only used by the Confederates).

One of the real problems is seeing the target. While many of the wartime Whitworths were equipped with high-tech (for 1860!) Davidson telescopic sights… …this marksman is shooting over irons. One of the real problems at that range is seeing the target. Since more of you are familiar with more modern rifles, consider that the front sight post of an M16A1 rifle subtends just enough arc to match an E-type silhouette at 175 meters.

Another fact that should be evident is the sheer power of the Whitworth. Look at that thing kick! The recoil is visibly greater than that of an ordinary rifle-musket.

Reproduction Whitworths

The class of the repro field is the long-discontinued Parker-Hale, but they are few and far between. After Parker-Hale went the way of all flesh, there was a EurArms repro which used the Parker-Hale barrels with its own lock and stock. Here, Balázs Némeththe proprietor of CapAndBall.eu has gotten his hands on one of them, and not only fires it, but provides a good run down on its unique and remarkable technology.  “The Whitworth,” he notes, “pushed the limits of aimed fire out to 1½ miles.”

Pedersoli is making a new version of the Whitworth. It is available in Europe, but not exported to North America (yet, we hope). Here is his video rundown on the Pedersoli Whitworth. The Pedersoli has hexagonal rifling, but it’s cold hammer-forged. The rifle also has much simpler sights. He did not have a hex bullet mold, so used a .451″ cylindrical round, and still got quite good accuracy at 50 and 100 meters.

The finish on the Pedersoli rifle is, like many of their premium muzzle-loaders, very good.

His enthusiasm for these rifles, so far ahead of their peers that they seemed ahead of their time, is infectious.

Finally, here’s a special treat. It’s our friend from Cap and Ball again, but here he’s firing an original Civil War vintage American target rifle, of the sort that many sharpshooters mustered in with.

If you go to the Fred Ray post that we linked way, way up there, you’ll also see another one about the Civil War buck-and-ball cartridge — the only loading we’re aware of that has its own statue at Gettysburg. But that’s another story!

 

Optic of the week: AK sights

Ok, so this week is sort of a cheat for me as these are iron sights and not an optic.

I’ve found that people unfamiliar with the AK tend to be surprised at how narrow the rear notch is.  AK sights can be quite fast to use if you are used to them, but I have seen novices struggle to line them  up.  It is not uncommon to see AK owners here in the states widen the rear notch.

The AK rear sight is adjustable for distance.

You zero by adjusting the front sight.  It is adjustable for elevation and windage.

You will need a tool to adjust AK sights.  Adjusting elevation requires rotating the front sight post.  1 full turn of the front sight post is about 8 MOA.  You could turn the front sight post with needle nose pliers, but it would be better to use a tool made for it.

Windage is adjusted by pushing the rear sight drum.  This is a friction fit in the front sight base and can be a real pain to adjust.  You might be able to get it to move with a hammer and punch, but it is preferable to use a sight pusher.  It is also not uncommon to hear about cheap sight pushing breaking on AK or SKS sights.

I use the Magna-Matic sight tool, it is the best one that I know of.  While not obvious, the top of the tool is cut to go over the front sight post for adjusting elevation.  The O design instead of a C shaped design helps prevent it from slipping off the sight or breaking while it is in use.

How much windage  adjustment you get per turn of sight pusher will depend on what thread pitch the sight pusher uses.  Rule of thumb is that it will be approximately 1 MOA per 1/10 a turn of the sight pusher.

It is very common for AK sights to be canted, and for them to require excessive windage adjustments to zero, such as this Arsenal AK pictured above.

Some AKs use the “RPK” rear sight.  This has a windage adjustment built into it.  The knob on the right side of the rear sight is spring loaded and can be pulled away from the sight and rotated to adjust windage.  I have no clue how much adjustment per click, but they are very easy to use.

There is also a rare rear sight for suppressed AKs that has a cam for switching between different ammunition.

AK have simple and effective sights, but sometimes they can be a real pain in the ass to get zeroed.

REMEMBERING KEVIN O’BRIEN

We are coming up  on the 1 year  point of the passing of our friend Kevin, also known as “Hognose” the owner and writer of weaponsman.com.

If you have not been to his website which is now preserved as is by his brother as a monument to Kevin, you are missing out on what was honestly the best gun culture blog on the internet.  I will let Kevin’s own words on his website speak for themselves below.

The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech

http://weaponsman.com/?page_id=11760

 

Since his passing he has been sorely missed by his family and many friends and readers.    You will have noticed that we often repost a lot of Kevin’s technical articles in an attempt to save them in case something happens to the weaponsman website and to help others discover his writing,

After Kevin died, his brother  had to sell Kevin’s collection and take care of his estate.  When he announced this sad fact of life, he made a post about it on his brother’s website with a list of the many fine firearms Kevin owned.   I was very keen to buy one of Kevin’s guns as something to remember him by and to keep in his honor.

I had just at the time spent a large amount of a few pistols so I was not able to buy  some of the highly desirable pieces like the Johnson rifle.  I was able to buy an old vintage .22 rimfire bolt action rifle.

It is a Springfield single shot from a time before series numbers.

It is in pretty rough shape with several parts missing.  I have been looking online  for the parts needed to restore it to shooting condition.

Much of the parts are missing and it has a pretty tricked out tack to act as a means to keep the bolt knob down.

The rifle was clearly sold as a cheap offering likely for boys. It was made with no buttplate. I know because it has none and has no holes for where the screw to hold one would be.

 

I don’t know the back ground story of how Kevin got the gun or how long he had it. I liked to think he owned it as a boy and imagine him running around the New England woods shooting chipmunks and cans imagining his future  self shooting commie  as the Army Green Beret he became when he grew up.

I hope the gun will get restored by me soon but if not thats ok. I didn’t buy it for that.   I bought it to honor a man I much admired.  And it is one of the most valuable guns in my safe.

If any of you purchased one of Kevin’s  guns from his estate, please let me know and share with the rest of us.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

A CALL TO ARMS

Today I am sharing  a rallying cry from  “Miama_JBT”     a member of ar15.com,  mod there and a FL police officer who  has worked hard and sacrificed much to  protect the  rights of  all gun owners.    As we watch state after state   make attempts to pass unconstitutional gun bans and restrictions  and the media make antigun darlings of  teens not even legally able to vote things are inching closer to what the left has wanted for decades.  It is time to do more than bitch online to each other , make jokes  or wait for the NRA  or even more  laughable, the GOP, to stand up for your civil right.  No more excuses unless you simply are willing to  make you into a monster then  make you into a felon with their “laws.”  

 

The 2nd Amendment is a very simple premise. It is 27 words.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, the current events across the country on the local, state, and federal level say that such a simple statement is very hard to understand by a number of elected officials and unelected bureaucrats. But what does that have to do with gun owners losing?

Real simple. THEY DON’T FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS. Gun Owners as a whole do not fight for the 2nd Amendment. Instead they want someone else to do it for them. Across the web and society all I see are gun owners making statements of anger at government, at the NRA, etc… yet I don’t see Gun Owners attending rallies at their Capitols. I don’t see them beating down the doors of their elected officials. I don’t see them attending Republican Party meetings and Raising Cain about the sudden turncoat actions by the GOP. I don’t see any of that.

Instead, what I see are people that want someone else to do the heavy lifting for them. They want someone else to do the fighting. I’ve spent a good portion of this decade burning my vacation time to fight for the 2nd Amendment in Florida. What do I see at the Capitol? Marion Hammer of the NRA, Eric Friday of Florida Carry, and maybe if I’m lucky, someone from one of the Libertarian groups in Florida. That’s it.

I don’t see anyone meeting with their elected Representatives or Senators. I don’t see them scheduling face to face meetings with the Speaker of the House, the Senate President, the Majority Whip, or the Governor. I don’t see Gun Owners speaking at Committee Meetings when Pro and Anti gun bills are in discussion.

What do I see? I see 7,000 fellow gun owners going to the Tampa Gun Show on Saturday alone to buy more stuff to horde instead of going to the Capitol or their elected officials offices. I see people complain that the NRA isn’t doing anything. I see gun owners claim that the GOP betrayed them. But when I ask these people what do they do, let alone if they know their elected officials. I get blank stares and gaping mouths in return.

Paying a yearly membership to the NRA doesn’t do much. It just gives them a member due. The NRA is only 5 million in the USA as a whole and only 300,000 in Florida. There are 1.8 million active CCW permits in Florida. That means there are six times more people that carry guns in Florida that are NRA members. But even then, the NRA is just one organization. They have their own goals and their own mission. But people believe that the NRA is a like their parents and will keep all the bad meanies away from their guns.

Far from the truth. The NRA backs Gun Violence Restraining Orders that violated the 4th Amendment. Marion Hammer, Chris Cox, Wayne LaPierre, and now another NRA lobbyist by the name of Rick Armitage have all stated at one point or another since October 2017 that they support the ban on bump stocks and similar devices.

Yet people either blindly support them or outright hate them. But I can tell you they don’t take any action to correct the issues within the NRA. Issues that can be solved by voting in strong Pro 2nd Amendment Gun Owners to the Board of Directors.

Folks like Tim Knight and Adam Kraut.

Gun Owners do the same with their elected officials. They don’t question their elected officials. They blindly pull the lever and vote for any candidate that has an (R) by their name on the belief that such a person if Pro Gun. And that if we’re lucky. A good portion of gun owners don’t even vote. You know it, I know it, and the politicians know it.

Just as a quick recap for history. The following Republicans Governors have passed gun control.

    • Ronald Reagan banned open carry and made a waiting period mandatory in California.
    • Mitt Romney signed the assault weapon ban into law in Massachusetts.
    • George Pataki signed the assault weapon ban into law in New York.
    • George Deukmejian signed the first of many assault weapon bans into law in California.
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the ban on .50 BMG caliber firearms in California.
    • Rick Scott signed the ban on Bump Stocks, pushed Gun Violence Restraining Orders, and prohibits anyone under 21 from buying a firearm in Florida.

But gun owners don’t raise the issue until it is too late. Even with President Trump. They elected him into office with the belief that they don’t have to fight for their rights now. Someone else will do it for them!

The common excuse I hear from gun owners is “it’s too far away“, “I can’t afford it“, “that’s why I’m a member of XYZ group“, “why vote, my voice is outnumbered“, “it’s too hard, we don’t have the numbers“, “I don’t want to be on a list/registry“, etc…

The majority of Gun Owners are much like Homer Simpson.

I write this to raise awareness and stir the masses. We only have ourselves to look at for these failures and assaults and on the 2nd Amendment. I personally burn my vacation and sick time from work to fight for the 2nd Amendment. I put myself out there and at the same time put my own marriage on the side to fight.


Me speaking in support of Stand Your Ground.


Me speaking in support of ending gun free zones.


Me speaking against the passage of SB 7026 in the Florida Senate.


Me speaking to fellow gun owners willing to rally at the Florida Capitol.

I put my career on the line when I speak up for gun owners at the Capitol. I put myself on lists when I enter public comments on websites like the Federal Registrar’s public comments for BATFE’s revisal of Bump Stocks or when I email or write to any elected official in Florida due to our public disclosure laws.

I’m not afraid. Our Founding Fathers put their wealth, property, lives, and most importantly their honor on the line to fight for our independence from oppressive government. Many lost their wealth and some lost their lives. But they saw the sacred duty that they swore to and fought for liberty.

I ask that you, my fellow gun owner, stop being the sunshine patriot and instead bear the true duty that is needed. Stand up and fight for your rights and those of your fellow man. Do not make boisterous statements of “from my cold dead hands” without actually fighting.

Stand up and take notice! Stop relying on others and do the task that is needed. Go to your elected officials. Meet with them, make your voice heard. I’m just one man, but if I knew I had an army of fellow gun owners independently doing the same as I.

WE WOULD BE AN ARMY

Reach down and find the pair that our Founding Fathers had. MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!

 

Optic of the Week: C-More Tactical Reflex Sight

C-More ARW-4.  Black aluminum body, 4 MOA dot.

Around 2003ish I learned about the C-More Tactical Reflex sight which paired a C-More Reflex Sight along with a cut down adjustable rear sight carry handle base for the AR15.  I’ve wanted one since then.  Back in 2017 I learned they were discontinued, so I found a used one and purchased it.  I fully expected to have it for two weeks before deciding that I didn’t like it, just to turn around and sell it.  Instead I really love it.

The C-More sights never seemed to gain much ground in the tactical market as they were seen as fragile and unreliable.  Yet they were very common place, and still used a good bit on the competition side of things.

First thing of note with the C-More sight is that there are a huge number of variations of them.  The body can be plastic or aluminum.  It can be a rail mount, slide mount (for pistols) or a bridge mount (for pistols).  The sight can be purchased in different colors, Black, Grey, Red, Blue, and Green.  Also you can change the dot size by replacing a module giving you the choices of 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 MOA dots.  Then there are also differences in the battery compartment and, the intensity switch between models.

I think the C-More is popular in the competition market for several reasons.  Being able to choose a dot size that works best for you(E.G. larger dot for use on a pistol) is a major plus.  Some of the C-More models are rather inexpensive, down to about $240 list price right now.  Also being able to get them in a color that matches your competition gun doesn’t hurt.

Now I don’t know for sure why the C-More Reflex Sight never really caught on in the tactical community.  From what I’ve read it sounds like early on the Army and some individuals tried the polymer C-More and decided it was not durable enough for combat.  I believe this was also done back in a time before reflex sights had become mainstream for combat weapons, and they were still rather untrusted.  In any event, the C-More seemed to have found its home primarily in the competition environment.

For me, my C-More sight found a home on a Colt 6933 upper.

This C-More model gives me a standard rear sight.  If I wanted to I could remove the optic from this base and attach it to a rail mount base.

The Iron Sights provide a lower 1/3 co-witness.

Looking over the sights give an awesome sight picture with a crisp red dot in a thin circle.

Brightness is adjusted by a knob behind the emitter.  On this model the brightness knob has distinct clicks and the first couple of settings are for night vision.  On many C-More models this is just a click-less rheostat.

The battery compartment is in front of the emitter.  On this model there are 2 non-captive thumbscrews holding the top plate on.  Other C-More models use Allen screws.  I don’t think these screws would come loose on their own, but if they did they would be easy to lose.

Windage and Elevation adjustments each have a locking screw.  Neither adjustment has clicks, so you just turn the screw the amount you hope is right, lock it down, test fire, then adjust again.  While click less adjustments are sometimes heralded as superior due to the ability to make smaller adjustments than a set click value, but in reality it tends to just make the zeroing procedure guesswork.

When I came up with the idea of doing the optic of the week posts, I planned to do side my side speed and handling comparisons of the various optics.  For example, in years past it used to be considered common knowledge that the Eotech was “faster” than the Aimpoint.  I believed this for a while and that is why I started with Eotech.  Finally the multiple personal Eotech failures drove me to Aimpoint.  Now when I try these various optics side by side, I don’t notice a measurable speed difference, they all just work (with a few notable exceptions).

I really love this sight, but in the end I do not recommend it.  It has been discontinued, so that makes it hard to recommend in the first place.  Now days we have newer and smaller optics that have proven to be very durable and have much longer battery life(such as the Aimpoints) that render this old design obsolete.  The open design of the C-More allows the chance of dirt or debris to block the emitter.  In the past the light from the emitters of reflex sights were often considered a major deal breaker as it might compromise your location to the enemy.  Over time the massive force multiplier that optics function is considered to well offset the risk of your location being revealed to the enemy by the sight.  I find the C-More red emitter and glare from the lens is very visible from in front of the optic.  It seems more so than newer alternatives.  I tried to get some pictures of this but I was unable to get it to show up well.

I think the C-More is a really nice sight, but it has been eclipsed by newer, better options.

Okay Industries “Surefeed” Magazines

Okay Industries has been around for along time.   Most people familiar with them know them from the surplus magazines sold at gun shows or stores.   They are a major supplier of M16/M4 magazines for the military.  In my opinion, they make the best milspec USGI aluminum standard mag.   I have used them over many many years and have never had one have even the smallest issue.   My friend and myself spent many hours driving mile and miles to find USGI mags after the ’94AWB became law and the Colt and Okay magazines were much sought after by us

One thing many people don’t know is that they likely already have an Okay ind, mag.     Okay was and probably still is the company that manufactures the Colt factory magazines in 30 and 20 round versions.  Years ago, colt rifle manuals fine print about reliability and warranty lawyer speak  always had the statement that Colt only garauntees their rifles to work completely reliable when using Colt and Okay Industry brand AR-15/M16/M4 magazines.   Why OKay? Because they made both.   Anyone in the military that carried a rifle/carbine as their primary job has probably seen plenty of the Okay brand mags.    Other than being issued some,  buying Colt magazines or surplus Okay mags on the civilian market, until recently it has not really been easy to buy brand new Okay brand mags.    Then recently, Okay has started finally selling their excellent USGI mags on the civilian market for everyone not in a communist state to purchase.  Rejoice!  The “Surefeed”  Okay magazines were born.

The mags come in the typical ziploc type plastic bag with nice backing with information and  instruction about the magazines.

The backs give the pertinent info  buyers may want to know abotu the specs of the magazines.

Not very often do you see a company care enough to include info like that in  plastic baggies for magazines.

The side of the mag bodies are marked with  the logo and you can see the milspec finish.

The mags being milspec, are up to the current specs and have the up to date tan follower to aid reliability  and to better feed the M855A1 service round.  The follower is the now standard anti-tilt type . The spring is stainless steel and made to the current milspec as well as he hard coat anodized finish.

The floorplates are marked with the new  logo and markings. A little different than the older Okay Industries markings but no change in quality.  I don’t know if this is the new logo for all mags or just the ones to be sold on the civilian market, I wouldn’t doubt  if it is just as change for marketing for non military buyers with the old markings and name still used for gov. contract magazines.  Either way  the important thing is that if you want to buy new, never used Okay mags you can.  I  paid $11 yankee green backs for these, A great deal as we have been living the salad days since obama left the throne. My advice is to buy  them in bulk and buy them often while the price is still down.

 

I tried these mags in  several ARs and they worked as expected.  All of my ARs are Colt which of course  has the magwells made to proper mil spec so its no shock the mags that are made to work  within that spec do.     I fired the mags, loaded them with stripper clips, loaded the mags with the lula loader and  they are living up to opinion I have of the older USGI surplus Okay mags I have.

I would not bother with a review of a plain old USGI magazine  normally but the Okay brand mags are a bit of an exception for me. I have always held a very high opinion of them and  always carefully horded the surplus examples I accumulated over the years.  Seeing them finally  brought  to the wider civilian market  was something I was very happen to see.,

The following branded USGI mags are the ones I stick with to ensure reliability.   I will save arguments over if they are all actually made by the same company for another time. I offer the list only as a way to reference the  USGI  I personally trust for 30 rounders.

  1. Colt
  2. Okay
  3. C Products
  4. NHMTG
  5. Adventure line

I do  often use and trust  the surefire 60 round magazines as well.

For completeness  non aluminum mags I use and trust are below.

  1. Lancer AWM ( the finest magazine on the market in my opinion)
  2. P-mag
  3.  DD  32 round magazines.

I also like the Pmag 40 round magazines.   That is  pretty much my short list of mags I use and trust  in the 30 rounds plus.     As for 20 rounders I have found most surplus military 20 round mags in good shape are reliable as well as the Pmag 20s and Pmag 10 rounders.

 

 

 

Vintage Marbles Cleaning Kit

Gather around children and I will show you something from a world long past.  During it’s day it was one of the best of it’s type.   Sold in a metal container that had a place for all its items.   A place for everything and everything in it’s place . It was made in a time when things were meant to last and look good. To give you a little pride of ownership.

I am a known fancier of vintage  target gun,. gun  and shooting accessories and various  related  paraphernalia.  One of those items that falls within my interest is the older vintage cleaning tools.  In particular the Marbles brand cleaning kits.   Anytime I get a chance to  buy one I will.    They are a treasure in my opinion.  They are well made  and I love the tin they rod and various items it contains.   They  were considered pretty highly in the day and the USMC even provided a Marbles cleaning rod as  the cleaning kit with m40/M40A1 rifles for a time.   So lets have a look.

Getting a complete kit in good shape with all or most of its accessories is already hard enough.  getting one with the cardboard outer wrap is almost a miracle.  Luckily a miracle happened for me.

Below is a picture of the kit with the outer wrap as it would have been sold.

 

Taking out out of the slip cover you see the  tin  that holds the rod and other parts.

For something that was made to be sold in general stores or sears and gun stores, the metal box is impressive.  There is  no  way something like it would even be sold as a mass market item now a days.  Maybe a reissue to cash in on an anniversary maybe, but  that is it.

Opening it up and first thing you see is another miracle.  Maybe one even bigger than the slip case.  The little paper sheet giving a few tips about the kit , why it does not come with brushes and how to apply the gun bluing on the back side.

As you can see , the kit contains  a rod that will work on 22 caliber rifles up to 10 ga shotguns.  It has a clever rotating tip that allows the brush and patches to follow the lands and grooves.  You can see the  adapter for shotgun brushes and mops and as well as a loop jag. The rod itself is  a sectional rod.  Not idea for cleaning a rifle bore especially if it is a precision barrel. As I have mentioned before a sectional rod will  wear the  bore and scratch it at the sectioned breaks.  The gap between each section will also retain small particles or dirt, sand  or other things that will scratch the bore as you move it  to the muzzle and back to the chamber.  It is  best to use a coated single, solid rod with a bore guide.   But back then, few people knew or cared about such things and others likely couldn’t afford or find a solid rod.     All that aside, the Marbles rod is well made . It has an attractive wooden handle  pinned to the rod that is sturdy enough.  As I said above the end of the road that the brush or jag attaches to  rotates easily and freely to allow brushes and patches to follow the groves of the bore.

To the upper right you can see the Marbles brand oil and bottle. Something  very hard to find.  The oil is advertised as an all purpose type and it smells like no other weapon lube I have  encountered.

To the left is the small bottle of blueing . I have a few other Marbles kits that are not complete, but the all did come with a bottle of the blueing.   Out of curiosity I have tried it on  some of my training guns with worn finish and to my surprise it does work and it works great.  It was pretty impressive how well it worked to me.   It is way more effective and better looking than anything you can buy  now.

Beside the blue in the tin you can see the box of cotton flannel Marbles cleaning patches.   The box is still full with the original patches.

The box has the Marbles logo and artwork. Clearly from  a time when companies had more pride in the art design of their products.

To give an idea just how old this stuff is,  take a look at the printing on something as small as this box.

The inside lid of the tin has various tips and info.  It looks very well done.  Also of course it has the company logo and info about various things.  For those new to guns and maybe buying their first cleaning kit,  it gives instructions on how to clean the bore of  your rifle or shotgun, pistol etc.  Not my preferred method but..    It also has  tips for cold and hot weather.

The lid folds down and secures nicely.  It makes a nice compact  little rig.

One of the trickest parts of the kit is the insert inside of the tin box. It can be removed if you want  to do away with it.   If you do remove the fitted insert you could store considerable more items in the box if you need to.     Leaving it  in place gives you a fitted insert with  sections made exactly for each cleaning item and secure them with metal tabs made as part of the insert.   They are strong and sturdy and with a little effort can be squeezed to hold tightly against the various parts.  It holds it all secure and keeps the rod etc from rolling around inside it or coming loose when moving it around.

 

These old vintage  cleaning kits are real beauties from a time long past.  It may be silly to use the word craftsmanship for a mass market item but I can not help but use it.   It is well made and clearly was meant to be something that you used for many years once you bought it.  Not  use once and toss away  chinese made walmart junk  you will see in modern times from the likes of Hoppes and outers.

A nice relic from  days gone by.

 

 

Optic of the Week: Elcan Specter DR

I was going to review the Glenfield 4×15 scope.

But when I went to remove the cap on the elevation adjustment, the whole set of adjusters broke right off the old scope.  Guess that means I don’t have to say that I could see better with out this old cheap scope than with it.

So, I guess I’ll have to review some other scope, something less interesting.

The first thing people tend to notice about the Elcan Specter DR is the price tag.  With a MSRP a little over $2200 it puts well above the cost of the majority of carbine optics.  What isn’t as obvious until you pick it up is that is fairly heavy.  That said, nothing else offers quite the same capability.

The main draw to the Elcan Specter DR is the ability to quickly switch between 1x and 4x with the throw a of a lever.

It is very easy and quick to flip between the two settings.  A spring pushes the lever up and holds it in place.

Zeroing is easy, adjustments are in 1/2 MOA.  A coin or screw driver can be used to adjust the windage screw on the left front of the scope, elevation is adjusted via a dial that has a lock on it.

 The lock on the elevation wheel slides up and down to allow for adjusting elevation.

Glass clarity and brightness are excellent.  Raytheon Elcan uses great glass in these optics.  While the eye relief is longer than an ACOG, it is still rather unforgiving like an ACOG.

There is a combination reticle, 1-600 has hash marks for either 5.56 or 7.62 depending on the model.  700-1000 marked for use on squad automatic weapons.  On the civilian and military models the reticles differ slightly as the civilian models add circles in the 700-1000 markings.  The civilian Elcan Specter DR is also a different color tan than the military model.  The calibration is only accurate on 4x.

Using the scope at 1x with the red dot illumination it feels very much like using a reflex sight.  But if you move your head away from the sweet spot, it becomes very apparent you are not using a reflex sight.  Yet it is still quite usable with out ideal head positioning.  Keeping the optic on target during rapid fire is easy in both 1x and 4x.  The added weight of the optic even helps reduce recoil slightly.

It even comes with emergency sights for use in case the optic is damaged or heavy rain.

I found at 25 yards the iron sights hit on for elevation, but about 4 inches left.  I don’t know if they are adjustable for windage or not.  It looks like the front sight might be adjustable.

The reticle can also be illuminated, I found this illumination option photographed poorly doing the day, so I put my hand over the object lens so it would show up in the photo.

So many awesome features are stuffed in the Specter DR.  I owned a Gen 2 Military Model in the past, and got rid of it over 2 reasons.  First were the built in ARMS throw lever mount, the second the Elcan base.

In the past I’ve seen the levers on ARMS mounts break, and have had multiple issues with ARMS mounts not fitting on various firearms.  The first ARMS scope rings I had would either be too loose or so tight they couldn’t be mounted on my various firearms.  When I asked about this, I was told that my firearms were out of spec.  So I asked if my Armalite, Bushmaster, CMMG, Colt, Daniel Defense, S&W, and etc stuff was all out of spec.  Now this was some years ago, and I had this issue with several different ARMS mounts including the Elcan Specter DR I owned.  Now I own a set of ARMS rings that work fine on multiple brands of uppers, and I tried this Elcan Specter DR on multiple brands of rail (including some Russian stuff) and it has worked fine.  While ARMS thrower levers would not be my first choice, I could settle for them now.

I really don’t like the external adjustments on the Elcan.  It relies on a spring to take up all the slack.  I worry that grit or debris could get in the external adjustments throwing off your zero.

This is a really cool optic with a couple of built in weaknesses.  Price, weight, ARMS mounts, and external adjustments are what I could say are the downsides.  It is up to you if the capability of the Specter DR are worth it to you, but I’d bet the majority of people do not be using their carbines in a way that would get them their monies worth from the Specter DR.

Optic of the Week: Trijicon RX01

This weeks optic of the week is the Trijicon RX01.  This particular model has the rail mount, they are also seen with a gooseneck mount for fixed carry handles.

I wouldn’t say that these old reflex sights are bad, but I do not recommend getting one.  I was under the impression they were discontinued and out of production, but I see that there are plenty new ones for sale for about $430ish.

I owned a RX01 back in 2005ish.  The main reason I bought it back then was that it did not use batteries, and most battery operated sights of the time use odd sized batteries and had poor battery life.  I had used it on M16A2s, M249s, and my personal rifle.  I later replaced it with an Eotech 512.

The RX01 Reflex Sight uses Tritium and fiber optic to illuminate the reticle.  There are two major downsides to this sight.  First is that the radioactive Tritium has a half life and the Tritium is not replaceable and dims over time.  Second is that due to the nature of how the sight works, there are many times when it can wash out.  Most noticeably is if you are in a dark room looking out into a bright area, the dim reticle will not be very visible.  My having that issue is why I ended up selling the RX01 I owned.

When I received this RX01, I took it out with a target at 25 yards for zeroing.

I don’t know why the camera didn’t pick up the amber reticle well, but it was very visible to my eye.

Windage and Elevation can be adjusted using a coin/screwdriver or Allen wrench.  The adjustments are very positive clicks that are suppose to be 1 MOA.  When I zeroed this sight I found the adjustment seemed to be closer to 3/4 MOA per click.  The housing is loose on this sight, and I don’t recall it being loose on the one I owned all those years ago.  I wonder if there is any sort of mechanical damage or issues with this particular sight.

I shot very poorly with this site when zeroing it.  I shot the same rifle with a difference sight that day and did much better so I rather like to blame this optic.  As I said previously, I wonder if this particular one is damaged.  I am tempted to contact Trijicon and see about sending it in for inspection.  Pictures of the zeroing target omitted to protect the embarrassed party.

After obtaining a zero I tried some rapid fire on clay pigeons on the berm at 25 yards.  In the sunlight the reticle was bright and crisp.  The reticle was easy to follow during recoil.  I would say that shooting the pigeons was easy, but the blue tint of the lens made the orange clay pigeons invisible against the dark dirt berm.  I had to use the Bindon Aiming Concept where I spotted the clays with my left eye and overlayed the reticle with my right.

*Mental note:  If the enemy is using a Trijicon Reflex wear orange.”

I tried using the RX01 with an Aimpoint 3X magnifier and they worked together excellently.

I found shooting with the RX01 in daylight very fun, easy, and it performed awesomely.  But I know that I have had issues with the reticle washing out in real world situations.  I don’t know the reticle size on this particular unit, but in the artificial light at my home it seems too tiny dim to spot well, and outside at the range it seemed bright and huge.  There is a polarizer available to try and deal with this issue, but the real solution is to use a different modern sight design.

The RX01 was pretty cool for its time, but it is obsolete now and there are far better options for the price.

RX01
Brand Trijicon
Magnification 1x
Adjustments 1 MOA Clicks
Weight 4.2oz
Power Source Fiber Optic & Tritium
Aperture Size 24mm
Reticle Options 4.5 MOA Dot/6.5 MOA Dot/12.9 MOA Triangle

And to wrap up, here is a teaser for a future optic of the week article:

How Insurgencies are Broken

This is another re-post from our ongoing tribute to our friend Kevin OBrien , AKA “Hognose”.  Who was the owner and primary of weaponsman.com  who passed away   much too early in the spring of 2017.

 

"Is it safe?"

“Is it safe?” Torture makes for great entertainment, but it’s seldom needed to roll up an insurgent network.

We bumped into an interesting post at a blog called The Lizard Farmer on the subject of COIN intelligence TTPs. He uses the example of an imaginary Texan resistance cell and describes how intelligence practitioners would roll up a would-be “militia” unit. They do this without even a State of Emergency, or tapping the NSA liasons’ at the fusion centers’ direct warrantless access to domestic mass phone and digital surveillance. They just apply the tactics, techniques and procedures that police use now to close criminal cases, which are very close to what intelligence organizations use to unravel, expose, and annihilate insurgent entities.

His specific example begins with a dead body found after a small unit contact. The decedent was sanitized of serial numbered equipment, electronics, ID and identifying marks, and had even defaced his fingerprints. But he still was the thread they pulled to unravel his entire cell. In the end, modern technology (and psychology) have made no man an island — not even a dead man.

He concludes:

These tactics are how insurgencies are broken.  They’re what enabled the system to pin Bin Laden down, catch the Tsarnaevs, and identify drone strike targets in the middle east.

We have to interrupt here to say two things about the Tsarnaevs — they were not caught until after they acted, and there was no great effect of the intelligence effort to hunt them. They were caught because they got in a gunfight with the cops; one (Speedbump) was killed, finished off when his brother ran him over, and one (Flashbang) wounded badly enough that a citizen found him and turned him in, after a botched Gestapo-style house-to-house razzia failed to find him.

Networks are deadly to an insurgency.  Even operating in meatspace can be deadly without the right precautions.  All it takes is for one person to use that phone to call or that debit card to pay and they’ve been nailed in time and space.   Sure you may be using your regular phone (and not your disposable one) to call ma but you’re there and the records show it.  And if your battle buddy does something similar he’s fixed at that time and place as well – so now both of you are associated.  The key is discipline.  When you meet you go completely off the grid.  Completely.  No phone use, no debit card use, nada in and around the geographic area and  timeframe you meet.  Recon and identify how you could expose yourself.  Does a certain route have license plate readers?  Then don’t use it.  Convenience stores?  They all have cameras at the counter and pumps. Nearby ATM machine? Cameras and transaction records.  The golden rule at all times (and I mean all times)  is to ask yourself: How will what I’m doing at this second expose myself and others to identification?

via How They Hunt | The Lizard Farmer.

Emphasis was in the original. Note that already the police work around legal restrictions on using “forbidden” or warrantless unlawful surveillance by the fiction of “parallel construction,” which means, quite literally, presenting false records to the court that were generated to plausibly explain government possession of illegally collected data. Parallel Construction is not a novel GWOT era technique but was used at least as early as the early 1990s in drug cases, both running warrantless wiretaps against organized crime figures and using military intelligence assets against domestic crime groups. In those cases, it was justified in part by a drug case carve-out to Posse Comitatus engineered into being in the 1980s, but once they began doing it they were on the slippery slope of doing it whether they had a drug nexus or not.

The 1990s-vintage botched raids at Waco and Ruby Ridge both used military assets (physical and human) acquired by ATF and FBI agents simply lying and manufacturing a nonexistent “drug nexus” to get what they wanted. They were coached in this by DOJ lawyers (which should be a reminder to you that a lawyer is a man who is trained to lie for a living; that’s why they do so well as politicians). And these seemingly extreme measures of the 1980s and 1990s were taken in the face of routine and small-time crime. You may rest assured, you would-be revolutionaries, you, that the gloves would come off in a shooting insurgency, and you haven’t seen gloves-off yet.

In some ways this is new; in others, it is as old as the Roman suppression of the Jews 2,000 years ago. A good overview of the techniques, minus the modern technology, can be found in the movie, The Battle of Algiers, and that puppy’s over 50 years old.

Even now, in the FBI, which is increasingly redefining itself as the Sword and Shield of The Party1, monitors what it calls “extremists” and is making long lists of who it would like to round up, when The Party lets slip its leash. Erdogan isn’t the only one who had an “enemies list” cued up for neutralization.

So, if you are, say, an antiauthoritarian personality, if the will to resist is strong in you, what can you do without winding up on a slab like “Bob” in Lizard’s post, or in a death-row holding cell like his brother, or having his kids passed to the probable molesters of the state’s Child “Protective” Services like Bob’s brother’s kids?

One notes that the FBI has been extremely poor at detecting troublemakers who act alone. This is a general truism of police work. Criminals get caught because they interact: they talk, and seal their fate; they associate with other criminals, and the capture of one gives investigators a powerful lever with which to pry loose the rest.

Or, to put it in the words of an old western movie, if you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.

Notes

  1. You may have heard that phrase before. We were reminded of it by the Bureau’s reluctance to support a prosecution of Mrs Clinton for a more egregious version of an offense that it has arrested and helped imprison several for every year of the last decade, while snapping-to immediately in pursuit of the hackers that embarrassed The Party. The former alone might simply have been a case of how the Beltway operates increasingly on a Code of Hammurabi type law, with “different spanks for different ranks.” But in conjunction with the second, and various other activities, it’s clear that FBI is increasingly comfortable viewing itself as a partisan political police. People fear a military coup in the United States, but that is very unlikely; however, the Bureau’s higher echelons are starting to see themselves as the Praetorian Guard.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).