All posts by Howard

Optics report from the range.

Saw a Nikon elevation turret break off today.  There was no visible abuse to the scope, and the adjustments appeared to be working previously.   I have never seen a failure like that before, but it reminds me why paying more for some brands is well worth it.

I got to try a Sightron 6-20 power scope today.  The Sightrons are gaining popularity here as a cheaper alternative to Nightforce and Leupold.  I am not sure which model it was I was given the chance to use, but the clarity was great from 6-about 14-16 power.  As the power was brought up to 20x, the picture clarity and crispness declined.  At this point I do not think I would recommend a Sightron for a fighting rifle.  However for a range gun or target/competition rifle, it may be an excellent economical choice.

Update:

I also got to look through an IOR 2-12 power scope.  I believe the model was the Spartan.  What I thought was most interesting was how compact this scope is.  Many tactical scopes end up being large.  A 3-15 or 5-20 tactical scope can be rather large and heavy on a smaller rifle like an AR15.  This smaller scope would be right at home on a smaller lighter rifle.  The power range is also good for closer range work.  I have found that shooters(including my self) are slower at finding close target with 5x and up.  The top end of 12x along with the scopes clarity allowed me to easily find and see 8 and 10 inch steel targets at 1000 yards.  This compact scope appears to be one of the ideal choices for the compact lightweight 5.56 or 7.62 sniper system.

Aimpoint vs. Eotech for the home defense rifle

Both Aimpoint and Eotech are popular reflex optics for the AR15 family of weapons.  Constantly online and there are heated debates over which is the better optic and many people have differing opinions for different reasons.  There is one major reason the Aimpoint should be picked over the Eotech for home defense.  This is the Aimpoints battery life and run time.  An Eotech needs to be turn on before use, and will run 4 or 8 hours before shutting down.  The Aimpoint will run months to years depending on model and brightness.

The Soldier or the police officer when going on duty or starting a patrol has the time to turn on an Eotech.  You don’t know when you might need to use a home defense rifle, and you shouldn’t want to have to turn on its optic before you can use it.  Even worse would be if your battery is dead when you need it.  The new Eotech EXPS3 has a listed battery life of 25 days on setting 12.  The new $400 dollar Aimpoint PRO will run 3 years on 3/4 max brightness.

Back when I owned an Eotech 512, I often found the batteries were dead when I wanted to use it.  I had to store the batteries out of the optic to keep them from draining.  Not only did I have to turn it on before I would shoot, I would have to check during the day that it is still on.  When working at the range, I have seen more then a few shooters day at the range ruined when the only rifle they bought has an Eotech with dead batteries and no iron sights.

If your rifle is a fun gun, get the optic you prefer.  But if you require a reflex sight that is ready all the time, use an Aimpoint.

Ranges Notes

Had a Colt 6920 with a Trijicon TA31-MRD ACOG and a Spikes 5.45 with a TA31-ECOS ACOG side by side at the range today.  Both were zeroed using the 300m point of aim at 25 meters.  Later that day, both were used to shoot at a steel target at 565 yards(about 500 meters).  The Colt using M855 ammo and the ACOG calibrated for that ammo was right on for elevation when using the 500m mark.  However when shooting at 500m with the 5.45 and an identical 5.56 Bullet Drop Chart reticle, the 5.45 corresponded to the 400 meter mark on the BDC.

It was interesting to see how much flatter the 5.45 was flying compared to the same zero at the M4.  I’ve never been able to find good data on the ballistic coefficient of the 5.45 7n6 rounds, or readable info on its trajectory.

Mark Serbu and the BFG-50A

Mark Serbu with BFG-50A

On Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Serbu and getting to fire a couple of shots through the new Serbu BFG-50A semi-auto .50 cal rifle.  I was already familiar with his products as the Serbu Super-Shorty shotgun is often seen at the local machinegun shoots and in the occasional movie.

Serbu was function checking and breaking in some rifles that his company was getting ready so ship out.  While his BFG-50 bolt action has been on the market for a while, the semi-auto 50A is relatively new.  Firing this .50 was very pleasant, but it does provide bystander with a good bit of blast from its effective muzzle break.  It uses the same mags as the Barrett M82/M107.  Couple of the best things about the BFG-50A is that it is lighter, and cheaper then the Barrett semi-auto .50s.  Sadly, due to high-winds knocking down target frames, we did not get to see how well the BFG-50A groups.  I look forward to seeing more of these at the range.

Thanks to Mr. Serbu for answering my questions and letting me take his picture.  He indicated that he is working on a pistol for his next project.

More information about Serbu’s products can be found at Serbu.com

On Back Up Sights

I have seen many arguments online about the necessity of back up sights on a rifle using optics.  The general concensious seems to be that they are needed on military rifles, but not on civilian rifles.  This is not the case.

In the military people work in teams and are almost never alone.  Should a rifle go down it is not really an issue as you still have many other people capable of continuing the fight.  For the civilian and the police officer this is often not the same.  If someone wakes up in their home and finds the battery dead in their reflex sighted rifle it helps to have iron sights.  However if a Marine’s optics fails, he is only reducing his squads fighting ability by 1/13 its firepower.

So do you need back up irons?  First needs to consider if the rifle is a toy, or a tool for fighting.  If it is a toy, back up sights are not necessary.  If it is a fighting tool, look at its role and how it is set up.  If you are running battery powered optics or magnified optics on quick detach mounts, I would suggest back up sights.  So if you need to use a wrench to remove your optic, back up sights may not be practical for you and you may be better off switching to a different weapon.

“Damn, the batteries are dead.”  Is not an uncommon saying at the range I work at.  Not only among cheap optics with poor battery life, but often about Eotechs.  Batteries discharge, cheap batteries and cheap optics drain even faster.  Even the best optics can be broken.  On the range this is just an annoyance, for the Soldier or Marine it means that their buddies will have to take up the slack.  However if you, as a lone civilian or law enforcement officer, have this happen in the fight, the results can be costly.

I highly recommend back up sights on the individuals fighting rifle.  If you are fighting by your self, being able to keep your weapon in the fight is crucial.

On that note, also make sure to keep your back up sights zeroed.

Got to try out a SCAR-H

Today I got to try shooting a .308 FN SCAR.  Recoil was pleasant in that light rifle.  Sight picture similar to an AR15s, the rear sight resembling a KAC 2-600m rear sight.

Much to my surprise, the owner of the rifle (new out of the box) was not on paper at 100 yards.  When he set up a target at 25 meters we had to nearly bottom out the front sight to get it to zero.  Once zeroed, the owner of the rifle had no other issues with it.

Any one else have any issues zeroing the FN SCAR?

On Throwlevers

For rifles like the AR15 I prefer to have my optics on quick detach (QD) mounts.  These are useful for a number of reasons including, the ability to quickly remove a damaged optic, quick access to iron sights, and being able to switch optics for different roles.  Accessories also benefit from being QD so I can add and remove bulky bipods, lights, forward grips easily.  The only real downside to quality QD mounts is the price.  For me, the price is easily justifiable when I can take off the Aimpoint from one of my AR15s, and put on an NightForce scope and a bipod, and retaining my previous zero.

For optics mounts, I recommend LaRue Tactical.  Their mounts have worked well for me.  Recently I have been using ADM mounts on my bipods and while I find I have to adjust the mount to fit each rifle’s rail each time I move it, it works well.  I didn’t like the new Surefire throw lever on their newer lights as I would accidentally bump it and it would come loose.  I do not recommend ARMS mounts due to their being either too loose or too tight on various brands of uppers.

On the SA80/L85

Every so often on firearms forums I see people talk about how great the L85/SA80 is, and how much of a shame it is that no one sells them in the United States.  They then proceed to claim that if someone were to offer a semi-auto version, they could make a fortune off all the guaranteed sales.

To put it bluntly, they are wrong.  When I was in the Corps, I got to cross train with the Royal Marines.  They got to try out our M16A2s, and we tried their SA80s.  We have the better rifle.  Most of the appeal of  of the SA80 is due to our not being able to buy one.  Other then that, it is crude, heavy, bulky.  The SA80 is around 11 pounds unloaded with SUSAT optic.  While it balances well when shouldered, that is still plenty of extra weight to carry.  This rifle isn’t all that good looking too, the design is rude and crude.  Mag changes are slow and awkward, more so then other bullpups.  If these were to be sold in the U.S., some people would buy them for fun or collection, but most would turn it down due to its weight, poor appearance and controls, and the higher cost of a less common rifle.

On WordPress

While not gun related, I would like to take a moment to thank WordPress for making it so easy to start a blog.  The process has been quick and they have good guides to get you started.  Changing and editing settings, getting a domain, and all these other little things are handle simply and efficiently.  If you are thinking about starting a blog, look into WordPress.com.