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Silencers and Semi-autos – A Parable

Imagine that you have a friend who is ready to buy his first AR15. Instead of following any reasonable advise, they go to a gun show and buy a random AR from one of these fly by night companies no one has ever heard of before or will hear of again.

Then they have some issues. Not being the sort to just settle, they work them out. Now your friend goes online and is is an “experienced expert” on the AR15. They go into great detail on how you have to take the gas block off and open up the gas port with a drill to get the gun to be reliable. How you need to take a file and open up the back of the mag well so that magazines will seat correctly. How there are so very many things you need to do to make an AR15 a reliable combat worthy firearm.

You try to tell them that none of that would have been necessary had they bought the right AR15 to begin with, but instead they insist that this work needs to be done to ALL AR15s.

Wouldn’t that be pretty damned infuriating? In the good ol’ days you might punch a man in the face for being so obstinately wrong, but we are more polite than that now.

There are people out there who claim that you have to use an adjustable gas block with a silencer. That all silencers cause excessive back pressure. That you need to switch buffers or change the gas system when running a silencer on an AR15.

This isn’t a matter of someone buying a cheap junky silencer to put on a cheap junky rifle, this is a matter of compatibility. Someone can buy a top of the line silencer and throw it on a semi auto and run into issues because the silencer was designed with bolt actions in mind. It might be the best silencer to put on a bolt action, but no consideration was made as to back pressure with that design. So when they throw it on a semi-auto, suddenly they have an over gassed gun. Now this expert tells everyone that every silencer will cause an over gassed gun. No, your bolt gun silencer will cause an over gassed semi-auto.

I saw a post on a forum today where someone was wanting to suppress a standard M4 configuration AR15. They said that they knew that a mid length 14.5 would be better for being silenced (WTF did that come from? Someone show me the research that says that.) This person was worried if it would even work at all, or if they would have to get an adjustable gas system and tune the buffer weights, etc.

Fortunately several people responded that they had the same setup and didn’t have to change a thing.

Yes, all guns can be tuned and improved, and that isn’t what I am talking about. I’m talking about those loud mouthed know-it-all’s, that once tried to make a soup sandwich and failed, that now claim that all sandwiches are bad.

Understanding the USMC new ACOG reticle

The Marines started using a new ACOG reticle in the Squad Day Optic (SDO) on the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). That optic got moved to the M27 IAR when the USMC switched over, and now the Corps is having the 4X Rifle Combat Optics (RCO) scopes get this reticle.

Simple, right? Pretty much self explanatory. I feel like I would be insulting your intelligence to explain how to use it.

But, just in case you weren’t clear how to use it, I’ll explain.

First, back ground info:
M249 SAW has been available in various barrel lengths. I’ve seen different numbers thrown around, but 16.3 and 20.5 inches seem to be the official lengths.
The M4 and M4A1 has a 14.5 inch barrel, and the M16 series of rifles has a 20 inch barrel.
M27 IAR has a 16.5 inch barrel.

Previously the USMC fielded two different ACOGs, the TA31RCO-A4 (AN/PVQ-31A) and TA31RCO-M4 (AN/PVQ-31B) for the 20 inch rifle and 14.5 inch barreled carbine respectively.

There is a rumor that Trijicon used the same BDC in each scope, but I don’t believe that. I do know that back in 06-07ish, higher ups in the USMC claimed that the scopes were interchangeable. I think that it shows that the level of precision considered acceptable by the USMC allowed either scope to be used.

The SDO optic, adopted for the SAW, needed to be able to work for either barrel length. It used this reticle with green illumination.

Blah blah blah, let us talk about this reticle. I could type up an explanation, but it would be easier for me to copy and past from the USMC own Squad Weapons manual.

First Zeroing:

Ideally you zero at 300m using the tip of the post. If not that, then use the top of the dot at 100m. Reduced range zeroing can be done using the tip of the post at 33m/36 yards for the M16.

Unlike the RCO models which had a Chevron and Bullet Drop Chart (BDC) that went out to 800m, these have a BDC that goes out to 1000m.

Note the narrower lines below the marked lines. We will come back to that in a moment. Those are important.

Ater the 500m line, instead of using a line to cover your target to estimate range, the SDO reticle has a gap. You fit the torso of your target into these gaps to find the distance to them when you are using the 600-1000m section of the reticle.

What are all these smaller lines below the BDC range lines?

As previously explained, we have these 14.5-16.6 inch barreled guns, and 20-20.5 inch barreled guns. The lower smaller line is for the ballistics of the shorter barrel.

This scope had a BDC for the rifle and the carbine (or the Para-SAW and the standard SAW). This lets the USMC have a single ACOG that can work on the M4/M4A1, M16A4, M249 (regardless of configuration), and the M27 IAR.

I’ve shot out to 1000 yards (~914m) with an ACOG and it is far from ideal for that job. But it is far better than using iron sights at that range. While stuffing a 1000m BDC in an ACOG may be idealistic for the one shot one kill rifleman, it very useful tool for the automatic rifleman’s suppressive fire. It is better for our troops to have it and not need it, than the other way round.

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?

Beretta finally improves the 92 with the 92X Performance

Look at that, a 1911 style safety and grip angle!

A good number of people have done some good work with the classic Beretta 92FS. But there is always room for improvement.

Beretta says that the 92X Performance is built for “Speed and accuracy.” They clearly acknowledge that a frame mounted 1911 style safety is much faster than the stock 92 style safety/decocker.

This gun is clearly designed for competition, and sports a wide variety of changes to make it better for that role. They went with a steel frame, that weight will help soak up recoil. The 9mm round doesn’t have much recoil, but it does have some. A change like that does help. It wears, the every popular now, front slide serrations, a larger mag catch button, additional grip checkering, and adjustable sights. The oversized mag pads show another feature less common on fighting guns, but a useful add-on for the competition gun.

Learn more here: http://www.beretta.com/en/92x-performance/

I guess Beretta is trying to tell us that the old 92 isn’t dead yet. I might have kept my 92FS had it been more like this 92X.

Rumor True, New HK MP5s on the market

HK SP5, picture by DrFwank on Reddit

Previously we talked about the rumor of new HK MP5 coming to the market. Link here. Turns out it is true.

You can buy an “HK SP5” pistol that comes with 2 mags and it comes out of the box with all the latest MP5 updates and upgrade. Paddle mag release, 1/2-28 threaded tri-lug barrel, ambi-lower, etc.

MSRP is $2799. Some people are claiming to have purchased them for around $2200.

Downside, it has a Zenith/MKE style block in the receiver to prevent using a full auto bolt.

Picture by bestiller posted on AR15.com

What does this mean? If you are looking for a Semi-Auto MP5, you can now buy an authentic HK that is ready to go and you won’t have to spend hundreds to change it to what it should have been from the factory. The downside is that these are not likely to be good host guns for auto-sears. It might be possible to mill a full auto carrier to work in these guns, but I don’t know the details.

But I’m not a lawyer, an ATF agent, or an HK expert. Consult with one of them if you plan on using a SP5 as a sear host.

As always, the hardcore nuts are complaining. They say that it has the wrong rear sight and you’d need to swap that out. Some of the people who paid $6000+ for their HK94 are saying that these are a poor finish and bad looking welds and that only a fool would settle for one instead of buying a real authentic vintage HK94. That it should have been threaded 1/2-36. That it doesn’t have a push pin for the front of the lower. That it uses the wrong version of the cocking tube. People will complain about everything given the chance.

If you have been wanting a real HK MP5 and are willing to spend the high dollar for a good semi-auto one. Now is your chance.