All posts by Howard

Optic of the week – SU-231/PEQ Eotech 553

Around a decade ago it was common knowledge that Eotechs were faster to use and better than Aimpoints.  Just like how not very long before that it was common knowledge that the Earth was flat.

The Eotech sights use a laser to project a hologram of the reticle in the optical window.  This allows for a greater variety of reticle patterns then a diode sight like the Aimpoint.  Most common in Eotech sights are a 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA circle around it.  A downside to holosights are shorter battery life.  Battery life on the Eotech is advertised to be about 1000 hours.

There are other variations with additional dots to function as a drop chart.  There are also machine gun reticles.

For the life of me, I could not get the reticle to show up nicely in a picture.  Despite how it looks in the photo, the reticle is bright and easy to see.  If you focus on the reticle, you will see that it is comprised of a bunch of dots, it will appear to be fuzzy if you have the brightness cranked up.  That is just due to the nature of how it works.

Windage and Elevation is easy to adjust using a coin or similar tool.  Both adjustments have positive clicks and are easily accessible on the right side of the sight.

Brightness is adjusted using the up and down arrow buttons on the rear of the sight (there are some models where the adjustments are on the left side of the sight).  If the sight is off, hitting one of these buttons will turn on the sight.

The Eotech will automatically turn it self off it preserve battery life.  Turning it on by hitting the down button will have the Eotech turn off after 4 hours.  Hitting the up button will have it off after 8 hours.  Holding both buttons will turn the Eotech off immediately.

Some models, like this 553 have a NV button that will dim the optic for night vision use.  While you can sorta get away with using most optics with night vision by using a dim setting, that can damage nightvision over time.  NV setting reduce the brightness enough so that you will not damage your expensive night vision device.

I did some shooting with this Eotech and with a Aimpoint T-1 on the same rifle.  Shooting from the bench, or rapidly engaging multi targets off hand was quick and easy with either optic.  Both were fast and easy to use, but I would not say the Eotech was any faster or easier than the Aimpoint.  The only real noticeable difference in use was that this Eotech 553 felt much heavier on the rifle than the T-1.  Looking at the stats on them, the Eotech is about 3 times heavier.  That is an additional half pound on the rifle over the weight of the T-1.

I used to be a major fan of Eotechs.  But over the years I saw multiple Eotech Holographic Weapon Sights fail in various ways.  Battery terminals would break, I’ve seen the prism break loose.  Lenses delaminate, and reticles dimming.  The biggest issue was that many Eotechs would drain their batteries even when off.  I found that my Eotech 512 would drain the batteries even when off.  I had to store it with the batteries removed.  I felt the high failure rate of Eotech sights was damning on its own.

Turns out it gets worse.  L3 was aware of issues with their like of Eotech sights, and were covering it up.  L3 paid a settlement of 25.6 million dollars over this.  The biggest issues they were covering up were that the sight wasn’t actually parallax free and that there could be massive zero changes if the optic was exposed to temperature changes and it turns out that Eotech sights also were not as waterproof as they are suppose to be.

Despite these persistent issues, you still see fans of Eotech sights defend them online.    The most often statement in Eotech’s defense is that the Navy SEALs are using Eotech sights.  I point out that the SEALs use what they are issued, are the individuals are not purchasing these out of pocket.  They also have far more range time and funding so doing stuff like rezeroing before a mission or replacing batteries each mission is a non issue.  But even NSWC Crane had to issue a Safety of Use Message about the Eotech warning about a 4 MOA Thermal Drift problem, fading and disappearing reticles, and 4-6 MOA parallax error.  SOCOM acknowledge these sights have issues.

So if you want a known substandard sight, buy Eotech.

Review: Maglula Mag Loader

Maglula

Last Saturday I was loading some 5.45 into mags and realized I should say a few words on this product.

So, here is a quick unsolicited product endorsement.  The Maglula Mag Loader is great.  The one in the picture above I bought a good many years ago and has loaded at least 20,000 rounds.  It is especially handy when I have loaded 5.45 into C-Products AR mags as they loading them is no where near as smooth as loading .223 into an AR mag.

Operation is as simple as it gets.  Slide it on the mag, and rock the lever back and forth as you drop rounds in the front.  You can also use it to quickly unload mags by holding the mag tilted down and rocking the lever.

If you load and unload a bunch of AR mags, this really saves wear and tear on the thumbs and fingers.  I highly recommend it.

Funny story.  I lent the Lula loader in the photo above to my dad for a rifle class he was attending.  When he returned from the class, he didn’t want to return the loader.  He stated he used it a good bit, and wanted to buy me a new one due to how much he used mine.  At that point I let him know that I had used it for over 10,000 rounds of 5.45.  Wear is not an issue with this loader.  I let him buy his own.

Optic of the week: Aimpoint T-1

“It is probably the perfect optic for the AR, isn’t it.” -Shawn.

I stumbled across an old email from 2013 where I told a friend that I thought the T-1 was the king of reflex optics.  Despite there being the newer T-2 and similar optics like the Trijicon MRO, I still stick to my statement.

What makes the Aimpoint Micro T-1 great is very small size, light weight (3 oz with out mount) and long battery life of up to 5 years.  That makes a combination that is hard to beat.

There isn’t much not to like about the T-1.  Now if you wanted to start a list of complaints the first would be cost.  After that is that the stock mount is low profile so you would need to either add a riser or use an aftermarket mount if you are attaching it to an AR15.  I prefer the Larue QD mounts for the T-1 but that does add to the price of the optic.

When people talk about the massive battery life of modern optics like the Aimpoints, they are referencing the possible battery life at about three quarters maximum brightness (a normal operating brightness).  When the T-1 is set to maximum brightness, this battery life is shortened to about 10 months.  But to put it in perspective, the Trijicon MRO also has a battery life of 5 years on setting 5 of 8, but only 25 days on the brightest setting.  Many older optics and cheap optics will only run for a few days.

The T-1 is available in 2 and 4 MOA models.

I have a hard time getting the reticle to show up well when I snap photos of them.

Here is a picture of a 2 MOA T-1 with the brightness on max so the dot would show up in the picture.  This one has an IO/Tango Down cover installed, and a KAC battery cover.

This is a 4 MOA T-1 on a Larue LT660 mount.  The dots show up clearly and bright in person, I don’t know how to get them to show up in pictures well.

Adjustments are 1/2 MOA.  Adjustments require a tool, which is provided as the cap for each adjustment.  Be careful as it would be easy to lose the adjustment caps.

Flipping the cap upside down allows you to use it as the adjustment tool.  It shows you which direction you need to turn for the adjustment.

Now I would say that the only real downside to the T-1 is cost.  But if you run it co-witnessed with fixed iron sights, the small window makes it a little harder to use.  You might want to consider a larger optic if you are running it with fixed iron sights.

It is normally recommended to go with the 2 MOA models.  You can turn up the brightness if you want a larger visible dot, and it is suppose to look better if you are using a magnifier.  I have a mix of 2 MOA and older 4 MOA models, and much to my surprise when I was using them size by with with a magnifier the 4 MOA dot was crisper under magnification.

For a long time I said I never saw an Aimpoint fail, but more recently I have.  Both cases were user error.  The first was an used T-1 I purchased where the previous owner cross threaded on an aftermarket KAC battery cap.  When they attempted to remove it they put a wrench on the stuck cap and turned the brightness adjuster past its stops.  I sent the optic back to Aimpoint and while it took a while, they repaired it and sent it back at no cost.  The second case was my fault, and a really simply error.  I have a KAC battery cover, and this cover has a space so you can put a second spare battery in it.  I didn’t have the second battery under this cap, so then under recoil the battery would pop out of place and my sight shut down.  Installing a second battery (as per the aftermarket cap requires) solved this issue.

I love how small and light the T-1 is.  When used you can sort of see around it when you keep both eyes open and it takes up much less space in the view than most other reflex sights.  I’ve bought all of mine used, as they are hard to screw up and and you can save a good bit of money getting it used.  The Micro T-1 is easy to use and I highly recommend it.

Optic of the week: Trijicon TA01NSN ACOG

The TA01NSN ACOG is a classic at this point.  A compact fixed 4x scope with a bullet drop chart calibrated for M855 out of a carbine barrel.  People assume it is calibrated for a 14.5 inch M4 barrel, but every time Trijicon has given numbers it sounds like the Bullet Drop Chart (BDC) was based around a 16 inch barrel.

The main thing that sets the TA01NSN ACOG apart from the majority of the other models of ACOGs are the iron sights mounted on it.

The iron sights on this ACOG are more for emergency use, for example should you manage to break the ACOG, or for use in heavy rain at close distances, etc.

The front sight is adjustable for windage, the rear sight is not adjustable.  This front sight also has a vial of Tritium in it allowing it to be seen at night.  In the past, there have been people who expressed a concern about this revealing their location.  If this is a concern to you, the sight can be removed, or simply taped over.

I’ve found some of the TA01NSN ACOG iron sights to shoot massively off left or right, so you will want to check it out before you rely on them.

Older ACOGs have 1/3 MOA adjustment that requires a tool like a coin to adjust.  Newer ACOGs have a 1/2 MOA capped turret that is tool less.

The adjustment caps on the TA01NSN are not tethered.  On some other models they are.  When I was zeroing this old ACOG, the O-ring used to seal the elevation knob broke apart.  I notice this O-ring is amber, while ever other O-ring on the ACOGs I own (and on the windage) are orange leading me to believe that this was a replacement done by the previous owner.  You can see the failed amber colored O-ring in the picture above.

I have seen the adjustment cap threads cross threaded or stripped from abuse.  While ACOG scopes are tough, nothing is impervious to user error. & abuse.

ACOG adjustments can be very annoying.  First, don’t try to turn the adjustments to the extremes, that can damage the scope.  Second is that the scope adjustments can hang.  The scope is compact due to a prism and the adjustments rely on the prism moving against a spring.  This means that sometimes when you dial in an adjustment the scope prism won’t actually mode until you smack the scope or fire a couple of shots.  Normally this would be considered very unacceptable in a scope, but in this case it is considered a quirk of the compact tough ACOG.

The center of the TA01NSN crosshair is meant to be zeroed for 100 meters.  Then each hash mark represent a 19 inch width (a mans shoulder width) at the distances of 200 to 500 meters.  The very top of the bottom thicker bar is the 600m mark.

The 4x magnification aids in locating and identifying targets.  When used on a rifle with a fixed front sight base the shadow of the base will appear in the field of view.  Personally I don’t think it seems as bad as it shows in the picture, but I know it really irritates some people.

I took this opportunity to try the Elcan Specter DR in 4x mode and the TA01NSN side by side.  For speed of acquiring a target, or moving from target to target I felt they were the same.  I would say the increased eye relief of the Elcan may make it a far better choice for a .308 or other higher recoiling rifle.  But for shooting 4x on a 5.56 I didn’t feel one offered any significant advantage over the other.

A last point, the ACOG scopes have tritium illumination.  There are some newer models that use batteries.  The idea behind the tritium is to provide battery free illumination of the reticle in low light situations.  I’ve found that often when it is dark enough to use the illumination, I can’t see the target.  Since the half life of Tritium is about 12 years, some of the older ACOGs got gotten very dim.  Trijicon will relamp a scope for a price, but it will likely be more cost effective to sell an old ACOG and just buy a new one.

I really love the old TA01NSN, but now variable 1-X scopes are taking over that nitch.  While the newer 1-X power scopes tend to be larger, heavier, and far less durable than the venerable ACOG, the capability they offer are leading more people to choose that over the ACOG.  If you are primarily expecting to identify and engage man sized targets at 100-600 meters the ACOG is hard to beat.  If you need the fastest speed for up close, or precision sub-MOA shooting, look elsewhere.

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.

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.

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:

M203 9″ vs 12″ barrel velocity

B.L.U.F.:  Negligible difference in muzzle velocity between the 9 and 12 inch M203 barrels.

About 2 years ago I decided I was going to buy a M203.  I had the extra cash and realized if I didn’t then, I never was going to.  Not to mention I had wanted one for years.  I searched out dealers in my state that had one in stock, and both dealers that I found wanted about $400 over MSRP.  MSRP being about $1600 for a LMT M203.  I went to my local NFA dealer, talked to them, and they ordered me a M203 and sold it to me for far less than MSRP.  Dealer made a profit, I saved a good bit of money, we both were really happy.

Still it took a while.  Took a long time for my dealer to receive in the M203, then with the 43P changes making things confusing for me, and the like, it took about 2 years from when I decided to buy a M203 to when I was able to take it home.

I tell you, going around and telling all my friends that I own a M203 was worth the cost and weight right there.  The fact that I get to shoot it just icing on the cake.

I ordered a standard mount M203 with a 12 inch barrel, while I waited I picked up a 9 inch barrel.  Really glad I did.  Also got the LMT stand alone stock for it.

Now to cut down on the rambling, I will get to the point.  I was recently contacted by someone from AR15.com forums asking about muzzle velocity on the M203.  Military manuals claim that the 14.5 inch barreled M79, the 12 inch barreled M203, the 11 inch barreled M320, and the 9 inch barreled M203 have the same muzzle velocity.  That seems a little hard to believe.

The muzzle velocity is said to be 250fps.  So, I have both barrel lengths and a chronograph so it is easy enough to test.  I fired a chalk round though each barrel length.  Lot Number on the ammunition is MTL13G614-034.  The Chronograph was set about 10 feet in front of the muzzle.  Rounds were fired into a 50 yard berm.

These training round consist of a zinc “pusher” base, a blue plastic cap filled with chalk.  The case is polymer with a .38 blank inserted into it.

From the 12 inch barrel, I got a result of 238.6 FPS.

For the shot from the 9 inch barrel, it was 233.5 FPS.

Now a sample size of 1 shot from each barrel is far from statically relevant.  But with only a difference of 5.1 FPS, I’m ready to call the difference between the two barrels negligible.

The picture doesn’t show it well, but these training rounds are horribly dirty.  Crud, sealant, unburned power, and all manner of gunk are left in the barrel after a single shot.

In any event, shooting a M203 is fun.  Little less fun shooting off the bench.  I used to own a .45-70.  I loved shooting that gun off hand, but when I shot it from the bench it would recoil straight back and be rather uncomfortable.  The M203 is similar.