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Should conceal-ability be a feature of the modern individual fighting rifle?

This is something I’ve been mulling over for some time now.


I think about the tactics I used when I played the role of insurgent against Marines. I think about that tactics insurgents used in Iraq against. I real about other peoples imagined concepts of combat operations state side. I don’t think this is something that your average soldier or Marine might need, but those of us living outside a uniformed service might find value in being able to move a long arm discretely.

But before that, I do like being able to be discrete. If I am going to go to the range, I don’t want to advertise to my neighbors where I am going or what I am doing. Part of the reason I have stuff like a violin case to move guns.

Of course, if a neighbor saw me packing a violin case, a couple of ammo cans, and a stack of targets in my trunk they might guess what I am doing. A discrete case is not a whole solution on its’ own.

A great many of the “discrete” gun cases out there still look like rifle cases. Sure, it might be in “Grayman Gray” but it looks like a rifle case. I’ve seen people use tool cases or golf bags and those I think would fool people into thinking it is not a rifle in there. Now, that might even be a more appealing target to a thief, it at least doesn’t scream gun.

Some years back I read of a person who uses a 5 gallon bucket for their range back. Ammo would be in cases or boxes, the pistol cased, and any accessories, eye and ear protection, etc, in that bucket. At the range, spent cases to be saved for reloading could just be dumped in the bucket. Now I think that is a pretty discrete range bag. But doesn’t work for long arms.

We often think of conventional warfare where the combatant might never allow their longarm to be outside of arms reach. Unconventional warfare is another story. An insurgent might stash a weapon somewhere, retrieve it for a mission, and stash it again again. Imagine if one of the Hong Kong protesters had a rifle. Slinging it on their back and walking home wouldn’t really be a viable option.

Fortunately guns are getting smaller. I found it funny when we got the para-saw barrels for our M249 machine guns in Iraq. It make the those belt fed guns shorter than our M16A4s. Hell, look at the SIG Rattler. With the stock or brace folded on the Rattler, the entire gun is about 16 inches long. You have a gun that packs up to the size of the barrel on most other longarms. But you do have to make major sacrifices to reach that size.

The Rattler is about an inch too long to fit flush in that 5 gallon bucket referenced earlier. But it isn’t really a combat rifle, it is more of an alternative to the classic submachine gun.

But I am straying from the topic.

Back in 2006, when I was in Iraq, it was not uncommon for an insurgent to take a stashed rifle (like a Mosin Nagant) take a few pop shots at us, stash the rifle away and blend back into the crowd. This worked pretty well for them. Partly due to the fact that we were not the sort to just burn down the building they fired from.

If I were usng such a tactic, I’d rather have a gun I could fit into a ‘discrete’ way to transport it. Something like a back pack. Still easy to stash away, or to ditch if you had to to escape, but something you could far more easily move to where it would be needed.

There was a time I traveled between my duty station and home via bus. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone. I’d bring my only AR15 at the time by separating the upper and lower. The barrel would stick out of my backpack, so I would pull a sweatshirt or poncho liner over it to look like messy packing. Far from ideal, but it worked.

As nice as a FN FAL, M1A, M1Garand, M16A4 is for fighting, I’m starting to think that the ability to transport a rifle around concealed might be valuable in the future.


Tangentially, there is value in being somewhat discrete in the military. Part of the idea of guns like the SDMR was to have a precision weapon system in a rifle squad with out the enemy being able to easily identify who had them.

Riflemen or Marksmen? Would the enemy be able to tell from a distance?

3 thoughts on “Should conceal-ability be a feature of the modern individual fighting rifle?”

  1. This is one of the places bulpups can really be a good option. The P90/PS90 (insert Stargate joke here) is still around for a reason.

    The second choice might be a sbr/with a native folding stock such as: AR180, ACR, Krinks, Sig MCX. Etc.

    This is one place the AR does not excel.

  2. Spot-on Article. And concealment does not always mean hidden from view; it may mean that the item is visible but misunderstood, like your exposed muzzle from a backpack.

  3. The various non-pistol pistols (or are they non-rifle rifles?) like AR pistols, bolt-action pistols and T/C Contenders have always struck me as neither fish nor fowl, but they may have a role here.

    I don’t know how much ballistic advantage they have over (traditional) pistols, especially as case capacity rises, and I don’t know how accurate they are at a distance, but they are crazy-easy to conceal in any kind of case or bag.

    I have a hunch that a rifle-derived pistol with a bipod and scope would have excellent accuracy out to 200 yards, but I really don’t know. Those goofy arm braces may extend that.

    Also, firearms with tube mags are lots easier to stash and deploy than rifles with box mags.

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