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A Patrol Rifle Primer

The patrol rifle and its capability is tied to department policy and budget. In some cases, the rifles are tied to an officer’s personal budget.

BLS records show that the median annual wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers was $61,050 in May of 2017. This means that 50 percent of all officers made more than this amount and the other half made less. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $105,230 and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $35,780. https://work.chron.com/police-officers-starting-salary-6740.html

The patrol rifle. Department budgets. Department policy. Personal budget. Kids. Family. Mortgage. Insurance. Car payments. Private school. Food.

Unfortunately, the reality is that a dept. budget is not the only limiting factor on officer equipment. Many of his or her personal, and/or family needs will come before a big ticket item like a rifle.

Most officers are on a Palmetto State Armory budget, and not a Geissele or Daniel Defense budget.

Therefore this article will look at things from the perspective of a budgetary sliding scale. Base rifle (as issued, if applicable) with upgrades and data points to direct officers to a solid foundation for a reliable, budget friendly piece of equipment.

As Issued:

Many departments will require an officer to supply their own rifle which meets guideline and policy criteria, or will issue a basic carbine. Those officers which are issued a carbine may be dissapointed to find that the dept. prohibits customization, or perhaps severely limits changes an individual officer can make to the carbine. Let’s examine a typical, bare bones patrol rifle.

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The typical patrol rifle is likely a 16 inch carbine with a collaspable stock. Carbines like these are offered by every major manufacturer and the components are similar from company to company. This is simply bare bones with nothing more, nothing less.

If an officer is limited by dept policy in accepting the carbine as is, there is little that can be done to cover the deficincies of such a basic package. My goal is to educate you so that you will be enformed enough to present an argument in favor to some modest upgrades which will address the deficiencies of the standard issue rifle.

The standard-issue iron-sighted carbine has several issues that should be addressed. The use of soft armor makes effective control of the carbine difficult under most normal conditions. With IIIa soft armor, the officer is unable to mount the rifle securely into the shoulder pocket below the clavicle and medial to the deltoid. The thickness of II and IIIa removes this secure location for pocketing of the rifles stock.

The nylon to plastic surface is slick and does not create enough friction to ensure a good mount of the carbine. The stock and rifleman can be at odds as it slips easily off the shoulder… Throw awkward and often hasty shooting positons into the mix and what is awkward can lead to potential missed targets and poor rifle control and recoil management.

The solution to this problem is relatively simple. If the patrol rifle cannot be “modified” past the stock components, then we can look to the market for solutions. There are a variety of rubber butt pads available for the standard M4 style collapsable stock. Limbsaver is among the numerous companies making rubber recoil pads for the M4 stock, and prices are quite reasonable. At the time of this writing, prices range from $10-$32 for various styles and brands. Since this leaves no permanent modification to the issued rifle, I beleive a reasonable argument can be made to support such a purchase. The difference in support and control of a rubber butt pad v.s. plastic on nylon armor is night and day.

A rubber butplate makes a world of difference in carbine control over soft armor.

If you are fortunate enough to convince the dept. to upgrade the stock itself, then numerous aftermarket stocks are available with rubber butt-plates integrated into the design, as well as storage for batteries and other small items. This could cost upwards of $40-100 for reputable, established brands and components. Magpul is the often-cited go-to for affordable and well-built stock upgrades.

Iron Sights

The issued department carbine may be equipped with only iron sights. While every officer should be proficient in iron sight usage, many departments fail to educate officers on marksmanship and iron sight fundamentals.

The first point of discussion should be the rear sight and its functions. Most rifles will be equipped with a large and small aperture rear sight. The function of the large aperture, as originally designed, is to give the rifleman a 0-200 meter ghost ring that is fast on target, and usable in low light. The ghost ring emphasizes speed on target over slower, more precise rifle fire.

The small peep sight is built to enhance rifleman precision for longer range engagements, and consequently raises the zero by 2 Minutes of angle on a USGI carry handle. By the nature of the peep sight, it enhances the shooter’s depth of field. The officer can focus on the front sight, and the target will be slightly fuzzy… If you take the same front sight focus with the large aperture deployed, your target will be *very* fuzzy. The eye cannot focus on multiple planes at once. The small peep helps the officer focus on the front sight and improves target fidelity over the large aperture for enhanced precision.

The biggest downside, aside from their complexity in relation to modern sights… is adverse lighting conditions. Iron sights are a poor choice in low light conditions. Without contrasting colors, the eye has a difficult time resolving the front sight and aligning it with a target in a darkened environment. Simple upgrades to the front sight mitigate this issue easily. Manufacturers such as Blitzkrieg Components and XS sights produce a variety of front sight replacements that offer bold, high contrast sight pictures. These front sights add contrast to the black on black sight picture of an officer aiming into a dark environment. In addition, they are also offered with glow elements which aid in outdoor to indoor transitions. From a bright sunny day to a dark interior, the human eye takes several minutes to reach a fully dark-adapted state, with older officers taking longer than younger officers. Having a bright, battery-free, high contrast reference point from a bright exterior to a dim interior will assist officers with sight and target alignment.

Black on white contrast will aid in sight and target alignment. It’s no red dot, but irons are quite durable and inexpensive.

Lights

Lights have never been more brighter for the dollar. Officers can find several models of duty weapon ready lights ranging from $60- $220 dollars. The challenge is to mount them to a rifle when the department is reluctant to upgrade carbines with modular rail systems. There are several products on the market that allow officers to mount lights to rifles without changing the basic configuration of the carbine. Kerm-Lock, Impact Weapon Components, and GG&G offer solutions that are cost-effective and make no permanent modifications to the basic rifle.

Kerm-Lock

The Kerm-Lock is an ingenious system composed of black delrin, a cam action, and polyurethane doughnuts that trap the device to the hand-guard. This allows the officer to quickly remove and replace a weapon light as needed. Since it also does not modify the weapon in any way, shape, or form, it can be removed easily to allow the carbine to fit into storage racks or the various vehicle mounts without issue.

Behind a white hot light, irons offer deep black contrast against an illuminated target

The Impact Weapon Components Mount-and-Slot is another product which does not modify the handguards, but is not field removable once in place. The GG&G Slic-Thing, likewise, places a picatinny rail and sling mount on the weapon which is installed into the front sight base. It is not removable in the field. The various mounting solutions range in price from $39-$69 dollars at the time of this writing.

Red Dot Sights

The red dot has been around since the 1980s, and with nearly 30 years of advancement, it has become more affordable, reliable, and robust. Dot sights are offered in red, green, and even “gold” for color blind officers. If your fortunate enough that your department allows personal rifles or upgrades to issued patrol rifles, then one of the first additions will likely be a red dot sight.

I have found, on average, the red dot sight to be a durable.. and simple device. I have drop tested, thrown, drowned, and beat up on Aimpoint, DI-Optical, Primary Arms, Holoson, Atibal, Trijicon, and numerous other RDS sights. None have broken.

Products such as the Aimpoint Pro, Sig Sauer Romeo Series, EOtech, and Trijicon all produce red dot sights that can meet a variety of dept. and individual officer budgets. The officer should do his or her research and check with their department for brands approved for patrol rifle use, but in general I have been very happy with the cost to performance ratio of even “middle of the road” red dot sights. Of course, buy the best you can afford.

While red-dots are now a common sighting system, it needs to be said they are not perfect. The industry has rapidly developed numerous models of mini red dot sights to meet the growing demand of pistol slide mounting. These open emitter sights are lightweight, have a small footprint, and offer a wide field of view… they are a good fit for a lightweight patrol rifle. Under the wrong circumstances, water or debris can occlude or deform the dot. A single blade of dead grass has blown into the author’s red dot while shooting recreationally, and it completely obscured the dot until cleared. While this is a rare occurrence, it can occur. I find I am happier with closed emitters, but they are not without their own issues:

Shoot and run in the rain. This is where you will meet very challenging sight conditions for the corrective lense wearer. Fog on your glasses, rain drops on all three lenses. Low fidelity sight picture.

For officers wearing corrective lenses, it must be said that rain and temperature will deteriorate your vision through the optic. Having shot in downpour conditions with corrective lenses, it must be noted that you have three lenses between you and the target… each collects water droplets and deteriorates your ability to obtain a clear sight picture. I found it easier to use magnified optics for rainy conditions as the focal point reduces the water droplets to mere shadows. If you seek additional reading on this subject, please see Optics in Adverse Conditions at TNR.

Battery Free mini dots are past their prime. Dim, and unusable from indoors to outdoors, and also unusable with a bright weapon light. Avoid.

Battery-free, fiber optic dot sights are another style of optic to avoid. These optics have trouble with reticle brightness when shooting from a dark area to a brightly lit area… In addition, the activation of a weapon light easily washes them out making the reticle faint and hard to find. These optics should be considered obsolete as they are unable to function well in adverse lighting situations.

Variable Optics

Variable optics have grown in popularity and there are many manufacturers vying for your dollar in this highly competitive market. Again, dept. approval should be sought for brands… However with the diversity in product and reticle type, how can dept’s guide officers towards a solid, useable product?

Its important to look at the variable optic from an officers viewpoint. Is the optic robust? Does the reticle allow solid shooting in adverse lighting conditions? The author has had the opportunity to handle and review optics from $1400 down to $299. There is tremendous variance in these product lines. Sticking to known brands such as Trijicon, Burris, Vortex, Steiner, etc. is a wise choice, but it can be challenging to find a reticle system that meets the need of a patrol officer.

Light, Contrast, and Electronics: A Fine Balance

Typically, a modern variable will attempt to provide an officer with a do-all, close range, mid-range optic. Reticle illumination is a tool that can provide officers contrast when shooting into dark environments… and if the battery dies they still have a usable black reticle. Or do they? The move to minimalist reticle designs has been driven by consumers wanting a clear, uncluttered sight picture. When the battery illumination is functional, these optics attempt to function as a red dot by the use of an illuminated horseshoe or chevron reticle. When the illumination fails it renders the reticle hard to find and difficult to see in challenging lighting conditions. When choosing a variable, the reticle design should be bold and treated as a failsafe to a dead battery or dead illumination.

Consider all possible lighting conditions. A German #4 is extremely useful in all lighting conditions, and offers an officer a aiming reference for indoors to outdoors, indoors with weapon light, and if illuminated, in low light.

Furthermore, how “eye-catching” will the reticle be when used in conjunction with a bright weapon light? Again a minimalist reticle can be a problem in a variety of lighting scenarios. Consider the following:

An officer has illumination of an optic to level 4/10 in a dim environment. A higher setting causes the optic to bloom in dark conditions and is too bright. A threat appears and the officer activates his/her weapon light. The weapon light immediately washes out the illuminated reticle. Does the reticle design offer more points of reference for the officer without relying on illumination? (Hint: German #4 is easy to use in this scenario)

An officer leaves his optic on in the vehicle, and unbeknownst to him/her, the battery is dead. The rifle is deployed and he/she now has a tiny, minimalist reticle with no “red dot”. Is the reticle still fast on target? Does it offer the officer additional reference points for aiming at a threat? (Hint: A German #4 does)

While not a variable, the ACOG in this example has certain elements present in a German #4 in that it has large, high contrast bars at 3, 6, and 9. An optic with a minimalist reticle may be difficult to acquire rapidly in challenging lighting conditions.
If your illumination fails… you need to rely on a bold, eye catching reticle. This one is not those things… lets fix it.
This is the same reticle with horizontal crossbars badly overlaid. Which would be easier to use in a challenging light environment?

So while the variable optics are a de-facto do all optic, many of the reticle designs are wanting and are a poor choice in adverse lighting conditions. Carefully consider the environments in which the weapon may be deployed, and think of the optic holistically. A variable has to be robust, intuitive and should work well even if the battery is dead.

Would this reticle be a good choice if the battery was DOA?

Wrapping Up:

With the AR15 market full of back-orders, and delays… it may not be consumer choice but rather the availability of components that are the driving factor in equipping a patrol rifle. Wise decisions must be made to maximize the flexibility of the gear in various scenarios an officer may encounter. A basic, solid carbine can be had form several manufacturers, but equipping the carbine with accessories can be daunting due to the available options and information overload. Careful thought into the impact of upgrades must be made to ensure a carbine is a flexible tool under any conditions. There is a fine balance of officer/department budget, and upgrades which enhance the capability of the carbine and officer.

Special Thanks to Officer Chris H of Breach Bang Clear for oversight and his input. Thanks to LooseRounds for tolerating me all these years, and please visit www.thenewrifleman.com and stop by and say hi!

Lothaen out!

The Fighting Load Carrier is the Ultimate Budget Rig

As part of my ongoing series of budget load outs for the prepared civilian… We move on to the next subject in the series. The Fighting Load Carrier. See part 1 here: A Budget Load Out: Starting From Scratch (Opens in new tab).

The FLC is a robust, modular MOLLE system designed to fulfill various roles. It can accommodate a variety of configurations and offers civilian shooters a low budget entry into load bearing gear. How low budget? The FLC can be found alone for as low as $12 and can be had with *all* issued pouches for around $40-$100 dollars. The downside? You will mostly find this unit in ACU… Which is no longer an issued camouflage in the military. It’s also ACU. Did I mention it’s ACU? Ok! Don’t worry. We will fix that later.

The FLC is comprised of a molle vest, belt, and H harness all rolled into one system. The front of the vest has a quality ykk zipper, a chest buckle, and lots of molle real estate. The back is where the adjustable H harness and belt are adjusted to fit the individual. A properly configured FLC will distribute the weight around your shoulders, chest, and back. I like to adjust the vest to give my frame a light squeeze to ensure the load is carried by my whole torso.

Once adjusted, the FLC can be outfitted with numerous attachments. For the purpose of this article we will use a mix of issued attachments and some non issued kit as well.

Rifleman Configuration:

The primary configuration I will be using is a modified rifleman’s kit. The issued set is comprised of dual 3 magazine shingles, 3 double m4 magazine pouches, two grenade pouches, and two canteens. Since I lack any active grenades, I omitted the nade pouches and instead used the last dual mag pouch as a mini IFAK. A high quality IFAK (such as the Range Medic) is worth it’s weight in gold, but it will significantly up your FLC budget so keep that in mind. Since I want to remain in budget I would recommend going with a Cat Gen 7, some shears, and a OLAES or Israeli bandage. First aid requires a topic all on its own, but these items will be useful for severe bleeding provided you are effective with them. Each of these can be stuffed in the extra M4 magazine pouch for a IFAK in a pinch.

“Steve1989”: Nice.

On the sides we have the standard USGI plastic canteen and pouch. Hydration is essential, and canteens run for around $9 dollars each new in wrap. Hydration bladders can be tricky to attach to the FLC and add additional cost so we will skip that topic for now… basic canteens are dirt cheap and wont pop, bonus! As configured, the total cost is around: $95 at the time of this writing… not counting the medical gear.

In Use:

A properly adjusted FLC is comfortable. The weight distribution for my setup is weighted more forward, but overall it remains perfectly serviceable. I did some run and gun for around an hour and appreciated the comfort. Weight wasn’t squarely on my hips or shoulders… It was spit between them. I configured my vest to wrap tightly around the midsection, just resting above the hips, and with the shoulder straps it felt super comfortable.

“This is my backyard son.”
Steal This Look: H&M Officers Jacket, USGI ACU bandoleer, FLC, Modern Fighting Rifle.

The wide, flat shoulder area gave me good control over my carbine. The rubber but plate of my carbine grabbed the nylon perfectly. Without armor underneath, it allowed excellent pocketing of the stock.

One of the advantages of the FLC is that it can go OVER your armor. Equipping the FLC over an armor carrier allows you to flexibly adjust to the environment. There are several modes of thought on armor carriers and how to set them up, so let’s leave that for another time. The FLCs main advantages are: can be removed without removing armor. Can be placed over various types of armor. Can be run without armor. Can be worn over other layers (such as a jacket or rain coat) to allow easy access to mags, water, and gear in adverse weather.

Dry and clean underneath. All my gear still accessible outside my poncho.
Steal This Look: Mil-Tec Poncho, IIIA and Carrier (underneath) from Bulletproofme.com, Israeli Gas Mask, FLC, and Rifle.

We don’t always think further than the military’s experience in the middle east. Not everyone lives in a desert. We don’t often equip our gear for rain, mud, snow, etc. Your gear has to be good to go year around. Having a separate load bearing vest or chest rig which can be placed *over* cold / wet protecting layers ensures you can adapt to the seasons and still keep your rifle easily fed.

The downsides?

Magazines. Magpul mags fit tightly. I cannot get the flaps to button over Pmags on the 3 mag shingles. This is a bummer if you are heavily invested in plastic magazines.

Then there is the ACU pattern. Cot Dammmit Big Army! Your surplus gear that I helped pay for needs to be cooler than this! If you haven’t noticed, the ACU doesn’t do too hot in green woods. Its okay if you live in a white and grey rock quarry, but most everywhere else it sucks. We need to fix this. Turn that ACU frown upside down!

RitDye to the Rescue:

The whites are slightly toned down with a RIT bath, and with a more concentrated dip you can further tone down the colors to your desired level.

After a rit dye bath, it takes a more brown tone. The whites are toned down and the ACU looks much more serviceable. It’s a neater look, and should be suitable in more environments. I first heard about soldiers RIT dying their ACUs overseas, but of course that was frowned upon by big brass. Using a hot water and RIT Sandstone bath resulted in a much more palatable… pallet. With the overbearing whites gone, it still isn’t perfect but should work better near everywhere. Apple green has been used to darken the camo for PNW woods as well. So get the right RIT dye for your area.

Wrapping Up:

Budget gear is often frowned upon… but having American made budget gear at least gets you something serviceable and durable. No one should frown on having a budget… not everyone prioritizes the downfall of the American experiment and the ensuing horny goat igloo. That’s ok. Your strength isn’t in you and your gear alone, but the collective spirit and will of the American people (also guns, 393 million guns). Also, if you survive long enough, there is bound to be some nicer gear around. A hand-me-down with a few bullet holes isn’t frowned upon is it? Nah. Didn’t think so.

This is Lothaen writing for LooseRounds. Come visit my blog at www.thenewrifleman.com

Red Rifleman Vol 4: The Palmetto State Armory AK47 “MOEkov” Review

American made AK’s have had some growing pains. Case in point is the original Century C39. Much like when the auto industry releases a new model of car, it’s best to avoid the first few generations of that vehicle. It never pays to be a beta tester for vehicles or firearms. That said, when Palmetto State Armory decided they wanted to enter the market, many shooters likely met the news with suspicion. Retailing around from around $499 to $599 means it is one of the most affordable Kalashnikov’s on the market. Has Palmetto undercut the competition and over-delivered on quality? Let’s check it out!

First Impressions:

The PSA-AK is a Magpul MOE Model with Zhukov stock. (AKA the MOEkov) The rifle is clean with a nice shiny satin sheen courtesy of the a baked Teflon finish. Components feel solid and the rivet work is excellent. End to end, the rifle is clean and parts look great. The fire control group? Clean. The furniture fit? Clean. The rear sight? Clean. The front sight and gas block. Clean? You get the point. Workmanship is excellent. No machine marks, no crooked components, no questionable areas on first glance. The bolt reciprocates without binding and feels a good order better than my early 2k Romanian WASR.

The MOEkov tears down easily, and function tested without issues. Again, the gas block and front sight are in-line and cleanly pinned. Color me impressed.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (12)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (10)

The star indicates that the front trunion is a machined billet component. Not cast.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (8)

Very shiny. Very clean. Ipod White? No, give me Darth Vader Black. Every-time.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (14)

The bolt carrier has some machine markings in the cam track, but otherwise looks to be made with more care than my Romanian WASR.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (4)

The safety has a pretend full-auto stop before bottoming out at semi. PSA, release a binary trigger to make this marking come to life. Please.

On the Range:

If looks could kill. Well, they don’t. It’s the bullets I am pretty sure. Over the years, any number of gun owners may have been smitten by a good looking piece only to get it out and have it sputter, choke, and turn blue like a COPD patient. That’s life. Sometimes though, sometimes the moons align and a good firearm is born. It looks clean. It functions well. It becomes a reliable friend. Did Palmetto pull it off?

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (7)

My first range session was a sight in and basic function check. The rifle was sighted in with a Russian military sight in target which simplified the process quite a bit. So long as you followed the instructions, it will get you in the black at 15 yards. I had the PSA-AK in the black on the 4th round. Moving back to 50 yards for some fine tuning allowed me to finish the sight in. The AK’s front sight was well centered within the protective ears of the front sight and did not require excessive windage for zero.

Once that was done I settled in to the rifle and began to evaluate the feel of the rifle. The trigger was a long rolling break, which is par for the course on a stock AK. The irons painted a clean sight picture and they were as sharp as a notch and post could be thanks to the clean machine work. At 50 yards I noticed some vertical stringing with two separate groups using standard WOLF.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (5)

My sight in and target session was roughly two trouble free magazines. I then began to take aim at various targets around the property with a third magazine, and encountered no jamming or malfunctions of any type on the clean weapon. Extraction was positive and the rifle functioned well. I then began to submerge the rifle in brackish water with moderate particulate. The weapon fired its first round and then had a failure to feed. I remedied this by chambering a new round and the rest of the magazine was emptied without issue.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (8)

I then proceeded to muddy the rifle. I threw mud into the action and decided to push the PSAK to level 10. The mud is a mixture of grass and South Texas clay. It was thick and I knew from the outset that this was going to be too much grit in the action for any rifle to handle. I fully expected the rifle to choke, but much to my surprise I was able to remedy the failures to feed by tapping the charging handle foreward. In effect, the AK became a single shot rifle. After around 15 shots of this, I decided to do what any sane person would do if their rifle became so inhibited. I submerged the rifle and shook it out in a relatively clean bucket of water. I think its safe to say that if any of our defensive rifles became so muddied, that priority number 1 would be to clean it with whatever was available. Canteen water, a cattle trough, VOSS bottled water for the well-to-do… anything to clear out the gunk!

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (9)

Unfortunately, despite a quick rinse out the rifle remained a single shot for a few more rounds. Sure that something was in the way (of bolt lockup, thanks Kurt for the lyrics) I did a complete strip and hosed the PSAK down with a real hose and used the high pressure finger nozzle. I then re-assembled and attempted to finish the magazine. It remained a single shot rifle for the next seven-ish rounds and whatever it was that prevented bolt lockup must have been crushed to smithereens or displaced. It was now a functional semi-auto for the subsequent magazines.

So take that for what you will. Mud stops rifles. All Rifles. The PSAK is no different, however It functioned well enough to remain a single shot rifle through some terribly adverse conditions. The final rinse with a hose may have helped and eventually the rifle returned to functional status without lube.

TEAR DOWN:

I got the rifle home and let it air dry. I like to do this to ensure we see how the finish holds up to water. The tear down revealed one small spot of rust on the bolt carrier, and one area of concern on the bolt itself. I noticed the presence of possible shear or wear on the firing pin retaining pin.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (14)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (15)

I removed the pin and inspected for damage. None was noted to the firing pin or the retaining pin other than the shiny area. I stoned the top of the pin to remove the rough edge that was created at some point and re-assembled. The action felt smooth. Let’s get back on the range.

Range Session 2:

Palmetto State Armory AK47 (1)

With the next range session, I was focused on accuracy testing. I installed a 1-4x variable from Atibal on a GG&G AK picatinny mount. I used some higher quality ammunition and re-tested for accuracy with PDX-1 Defender from Winchester.

The results were much better with no evidence of stringing. The Magpul adjustable stock was a welcome addition as I needed a longer length of pull for the optic setup. Here are my results:

target_image

3.7 MOA is typical of the AK style rifles, and I felt that it was sufficiently accurate for anything an AK could be asked to do. I then plinked with standard steel cased Russian fodder and had no malfunctions though the case. We heated up the AK nice and toasty, and passed it between friends. It remained solid throughout testing.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 (6)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 (15)

 Wrapping Up:

The PSA AK47 is a quality entry into a market where it’s getting harder and harder to find reasonably priced AK-47s. Retailing at roughly $599 is no small feat for all the R&D and tooling it must have cost to release this rifle series. Other moderately priced American made AK’s have had well documented issues… It appears that Palmetto State Armory is not willing to make the same mistakes. They have upgraded once cast components to billet, and now it appears the most recent generation (G3) of the PSA AK features forged front trunion, forged carrier, and forged God knows what else. That shows a commitment to doing it right. You want to see how to do it wrong? Click here. With more and more import restrictions and less motherland made parts kits coming in, American made Kalashnikov’s may be the direction we have to go in the future. 

My PSA MOEkov performed well during my testing. The firing pin retaining pin was an easy fix at home, and it was a minor problem on an otherwise excellent AK. The accuracy was as expected for a Kalashnikov. The PSA AK was sent by Palmetto State Armory for T&E and PSA and I have a financial relationship at www.thenewrifleman.com, my private blog. By posting this article at www.LooseRounds.com I have taken that relationship out of the review as LooseRounds.com does not have a financial relationship with Palmetto State Armory. If you want to show PSA some love for “doing it right” then click here to check out the MOEkov!

Lothaen OUT!

Red Rifleman Vol 2: Ongoing Accuracy Testing of the AK47

The AK-47 has been left behind to a certain degree. If we look back on the past 10+ years of civilian small arms development, we can see the AR15 has grown by leaps and bounds while the AK market has had much less evolution.

Sure there have been a few advancements worth noting, such as the gas tube rail mounts and Magpul everything, but by and large the hardcore research and development dollars are sidestepping the AK for the much larger and more lucrative AR15 market.

With the introduction of the .224 Valkyrie, we have developed the standard AR15 into a long range, lightweight semi-auto that can ballistically out-perform the .308 in a 7lb package. That’s just one example of the *many* branches Eugene’s little rifle has moved to.
Compare that development to the AK which has by and large been marginalized by the AR15’s advancements. AK’s just haven’t had the ammunition development, the materials development, or the public attention to advance the platform to the next level.

However… shooters all over the U.S. have made the “standard” AK ubiquitous. Despite its flaws and lack of innovation, many shooters trust this platform with their life. The goal of the Red Rifleman Series has been to explore the AK as is and develop my understanding of the platform further.

Link to Part 1: AK Accuracy @ Thenewrifleman.com

Summary: In part one I created mexican match ammo by pulling commie bullets, adding in Hornady bullets, and re-measuring the powder. Accuracy improved from 8 MOA to 6 MOA with iron sights. Also tested was the Ultimak gas tube which reduced accuracy with mexican match reloads in my AK.
In part two, we are going to get to the baseline of AK accuracy and reliability.

Let’s get started:

Accuracy Testing Round 2:

The first round of testing was a success. Reducing the 8 MOA group to 6 MOA is a good start and the primary driver of that was the Mexican match loads I created in Vol 1. Taking what I learned from that experience, I created another set of Mexican Match loads using the same process but instead substituting a new powder… Accurate 2230.

The Commie bullet was tossed aside and replaced with a .310 Hornady V-Max. In the prior session I had 2 MOA increase in accuracy with irons by just replacing the bullet and re-measuring the powder.

Using 27 grains of 2230 I then set a new Hornady .310 V-Max on top and gave it a crimp. I would be comparing the load to Barnal factory ammunition which retailed about 7 dollars a box at a local retail outlet.

The tools I used to evaluate the loads were a GG&G AK-47 Scope Mount, Warne medium height 30mm rings, and a Atibal Verum 1-4x optic. These will be reviewed together in a separate upcoming article. Glass is essential for accuracy development, and while this isn’t a 10x optic, this rifle might not be deserving of that much trouble in the first place.

I decided that a 1-4x optic would fit the bill nicely as it would give me a fighting chance to improve on my 6 MOA grouping from the last session and continue to evaluate my MM reloads.

The optic was sighted in an inch low at 25 yards and I then proceeded to evaluate the accuracy at 100 yards.

4.2 MOA with 7 Dollar off the shelf Barnaul? I’ll take it.

Mexican Match Reloads were 6 MOA even with an optic. Not worth the trouble at this time to continue this method of reloading.

To my suprise, the Grey Polymer Coated Barnaul/Monarch ammunition was a improvement over the laquer coated bullets I tested last time, and they even bested my Mexican Match reloads. Using a statistically significant 10 round group, I was able to acheive 4.2 MOA of accuracy using $7 off the shelf AK fodder.

Compare that to my MM reloads which landed in at 6.2 MOA… which was where I started using only irons. It is no longer worth the trouble to reload the Mexican Match loading if off the shelf ammo outperforms it.

At 4.2 MOA I was quite surprised. This isn’t a national match rifle, but we consider a “fighting” AR15 good if it keeps everything under 2 MOA with factory ammo. Consider that 62 grain Hornady Black factory ammo was capable of 2.15 MOA between my Straight Jacket and Colt HBAR with 10x  glass as perspective.

The performance gap between the AK and Ar15 using factory ammunition is present, but not insurmountable for a practical rifle. The next step would be to develop a variety of loadings for the AK and evaluate which one performs better than the Barnaul. If the AK is able to score 3 MOA groups, I would be incredibly excited to share what, why, when and how. I will continue to pursue this further.

High Glass, Sore Neck:

One of the problems with glass on the AK is that in prone position, a hyper-extension of the neck occurs. This became an uncomfortable problem during the course of the day. Upright and unsuported, the position is quite comfortable… but going prone is problematic for long strings. The logical solution is a higher comb and this can be acheived with aftermarket upgrades or simply Paki-Tape, a picture of your favorite girl, and foam.

Shooting upright was pleasant with the AK equipped with glass, but shooting prone became a sore point and a pain in the neck. We need a higher comb.

I am looking at option number 1… as desirable and affordable as paki-tape may be, I also want a rubber butt-pad to keep the rifle in position better. The steel butt-plate shifted on my shoulder with every shot and it may as well have been coated in teflon. Solving the sore neck problem may be as simple as purchasing an aftermarket MagPul stock.

Reliability:

We all know that AK’s are reliable. Right? Some recent experience with US made AK’s has soured the reputation among our ranks lately… but overall I would say that I am happy with the reliability of the AK. There is plenty of information on the net to make your own opinion of the reliability of the AK, so I don’t have much new to add here unless… let me find it… what do I have here?

Not so fresh from Vietnam… my father in law’s war trophy. Will it blend, I mean shoot!?

Oh yes, a rusty, used, put away wet, AK-47 magazine from Vietnam. This was in Pop “Doc” Schneider’s attic for many years. My father in law mentioned the AK magazine to me many times. He said that it was with his Vietnam stuff “up there somewhere” in the attic. It was a war trophy brought back when he was a young man. When he passed, my mother in law found it amongst his stuff and gave it to me.

As awesome as it would be to mount on a placard, the AK deserves this magazine. This magazine was *possibly* last fired at USGI’s in Vietnam, and years later a world away… it fed my Romanian SAR-1 on US Soil, liberated from commie hands.  Do you hear the eagles and smell the freedom? The whole session the magazine was used exclusively and the rifle functioned 100 percent without issue.

Vietnam magazine sitting next to the Mexican Match loads.

While US made Ar15 magazines are still rocking from that era as well, we all know that a misplaced foot or drop on the feed-lips can render them into malfunction clearance drill practice magazines…
The AK has once again shown us that it’s a tractor in the world of firearms. It’s magazines are not a weak point in the design.
The NAM mag is back in storage and won’t be used too often. Obviously it has value for who it belonged to and where it was from, but my curiosity was too piqued to not let lead fly.

Wrapping Up:

So we see the AK continues to improve in performance from my perception. Areas of improvement are 1) Continued research into AK accuracy via load improvement. 2) Ergonomic improvements to allow comfortable use of a 4x optic and mount. 3) Improvement of trigger pull. 4) Purchase of 20 round magazines for better prone shooting.

The AK continues to demonstrate to me that it is a reliable, versatile self defense firearm. While my overall opinion that the AR15 is a superior weapon has not changed, my exploration of the AK is meant to have value to the shooters who still prefer the AK platform of which there are many.

We must all be as ready and prepared as we can be for whatever the future may bring. Every man must develop himself into a rifleman and explore his or her potential, and understand the capability of his or her choice of weapon. There will be no gun left behind if things get hot, and every gun should be dialed and ready.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely:
Lothaen!

DI Optical’s EG1 Review: Thinking Outside the Box with a Box

Aimpoint is the only serious dot sight that anyone recommends anymore, right? Right. With the death of EOTECH’s reputation, we are left with option A for a serious duty ready red dot sight. Well, that would be the case had not D I Optical stepped into the American market. Can DIO fill the gap and bring in a quality product that gives consumers a second option to consider aside from Aimpoint?

New to the Market, Not New to the Game

If you aren’t familiar with DIO, the RV1 is the Americanized version of their service rifle red dot sight, and DIO has been making red dots of all sizes for years. See NSN# 1005-01-626-1714 for their Heavy Machine Gun Sight which is in service here stateside.

My first hands on impression with DIO was with their RV1 red dot, which I reviewed at my own blog a few weeks ago. Reaching out to DIO to show them that I beat their little red dot up and it survived, they propositioned me to beat on their EG1 red dot like I did to the RV1. I agreed.

So I took it out to the ranch, sighted in off the co-witnessed iron sights, and got to work. I threw it down multiple times, and attempted to drown it several times, and did my best to make it break. No dice. No Drama. The dot stayed on and nothing construction wise was amiss. The only problem I encountered was a loosening of the mount screws… and this was a self-made problem. I should have loc-tited it down before I even mounted it. I know better. Once I noticed that it was loosening, I ran into my shop, torqued the screws back into place, and my zero came back, and I kept on shooting. (PS: My Geiselle Mk4’s screws also started to loosen, so keep that in mind. Yes, I beat my gun that bad testing the EG1).

So with the beating, the drowning, and the overall slapping around, the EG1 performed like a red dot should… bright and always on. One of the key features of the optic is the unique form factor. As you can see, it is a square body with a square-ish 28mm lens. This unique configuration is made possible due to the prism assembly which allows the emitter to be smack dab in the base of the optic. As the emitter shines upward from the base, it is redirected by the prism to the shooter and it allows the DIO to maximize lens real estate without the emitter assembly getting in the way. Thinking outside the box with a box. It’s just crazy enough to work. I like it.

It features a battery life of 5000 hours at a medium setting… lets see, 15 total brightness settings divided by two… well let’s call that setting 8, we will round-up. The side of the optic has the windage and elevation adjustments and comes with a handy tool to adjust them, though a dime would work just the same.

It’s also mil-std 810G environment tested so we have some certification that we are getting a optic which passes some testing standards unlike many of the Chinese products on the market today. The mount itself is held in place by two hex screws, and they are big and beefy. The optic is compatible with ARMS #17 style mounts, so you have plenty of options for trading out the finger knob.

The sun shades are removable, so you can enhance the view even more. I noted that the optic is not sensitive to placement. There isn’t a “tube effect” like the Comp M4 or the mini RDS when they are mounted too close to the eye. The EG1 is just a wide open eye box. I ran it close to the rear BUIS to reduce over-the-shoulder sun glare if the heat was at my 6.

SO OVERALL

Impressions are good. This optic retails for just north of $400 bones and that is precisely in Aimpoint Pro territory. For a relative newcomer to the US market, the EG1 represents a very different approach to the RDS and its use of a prismatic assembly to widen the field of view is a novel concept. With my two DIO red dots in hand, I must say that I have started to recommend them on the forums I haunt. I hope to see more of DIO’s products in the future, and hopefully they can continue to innovate in the red dot market and add some much needed competition.