All posts by Shawn

Q&A 5

This is a LooseRounds.com Q&A session.  If you have a firearms related question please email it to QA@LooseRounds.com. We will post the your questions anonymously and give you our answers.

1.  Is it better to leave a few rounds out of magazines to save the spring?

Shawn- It is perfectly harmless to load  magazine to its full capacity. Springs wear form cycling , not from being under tension. Most of the time the problem in feeding is from faulty feed lips and not the spring.

Howard-  That started with the USGI 20 round mags which could have their spring installed backwards and would still function with 18 rounds, but would jam with 20.  Nowdays I would not buy or use mags that were not 100% reliable when loaded to capacity.

2.  What slings do  you recommend?

Howard-  First I would suggest reading Vickers article on slings.  It can be found here.  Shawn and I recommend for the AR15 slings like the Vickers sling, Viking Tactics sling, and similar 2 points.

3. How do you tighten the screws on a pre 64 Model 70 Winchester?

You tighten the front and rear screws the same as you would any other wood-stocked bolt action. but, the middle screw that holds the floor plate on is just barely tightened finger tight, just enough to let the floor plate close. if you tighten it much more it causes problems for the rifle.

4.  how do you use a weapon flash light

Howard-  Tactics and placement of a weapon light could be an article in it self.  However first a safety and employment.  I was working on a write up about it, however I found that Mas Ayoob beat me to it and did a better job.  I highly recommend looking at his article on the use of weapon lights that can be found here.

5. What is the best aimpoint for general use?

Howard- The answer depends on if you are running the aimpoint co-witness with iron sights, or without iron sights in the view of the window. If you are not co-witness with iron sights, I would highly recommend the Aimpoint T1 or H1 for its compact size and light weight. However if you are co-witnessessing with iron sights, a larger window is usually preferred. If you have the money, I would recommend the Aimpoint Comp M4, however the Aimpoint PRO offers similar excellent features at an economical price. The Aimpoint PRO is probably the best value for the person with a limited budget.

A Look at Hornady Steel Match Ammo

A few years ago ammo prices became so high you had to take out a bank loan just to buy plinking ammo. A lot of people went to shooting cheaper steel cases ammo so they could still be able to afford gas to get to work. Problem was, none of it was in any of the heavier weights for precision rifles. Hornady came out with the nifty idea of putting their 75 grain hollow point boat tailed bullet , powder and primer into the cheaper steel case to offer up ammo that was cheaper then TAP  but still have ( supposedly ) the same accuracy and trajectory.

It sounded like a great idea in theory, but as usual when it comes to anything 556 related at the time. It was as hard to find as a honest democrat.  From the time it was announced to just yesterday, I had actually never seen any of it   in a gun store. It was not as cheap as it was hoped it  would be either. But, it is cheaper then TAP.  I paid a bit over 20 dollars for 50 rounds. Compare that to something close to the same price for 20 rounds of TAP and you can see that shooting the steel match would be a cheaper solution.

Of course the benefit of paying that much for  steel case ammo is only real if it holds up its end of the accuracy claims. Why not just buy Tula for 4 bucks a box to plink with if the Hornady steel match was not that much better?

I bought some to try it out and see if it is worth it and how it could work for shorter range practice with a precision AR15 or bolt gun.

The first 5 shot group is  from a 6920 with a KAC RAS and a  Nightforce 10x scope. I shot off a bench using sandbags. The group is not that impressive and I was not impressed at all. I could not see paying that much for the ammo for no better groups then that.  It is not too bad actually considering what it is and it is still capable of keeping all shots in a mans head at this range.

In this group, everything is the same except I used the Colt 6940 with the free floated barrel to see how much difference it made and it did make a big difference.  The ammo really started to show some potential when used with a FF barrel. This would not have been a surprise with normal match ammo, but since I did not have very high hopes with the steel case stuff, I was surprised. That is a 5 shot group a 100 yards. And it would easily fit under a quarter.

The last group I took the ammo out to 200 yards with the 6940 and fired a 10 shot group.

That is not too bad considering what it is.   It started to rain fairly heavy so I did not get to take all the time in the world. But I did have time enough. It is a tough call to say if the group would have been much better if I had all the time in the world so all I can say is I would rather shoot the group again at 200 yards before I call this group as normal performance for it. Still well within a persons head.

Now, one of the claims was the steel match would keep about the same trajectory. Well it does sort of. But it does change zero just like any other change up in ammo brand and type would. Is it worth buying to gain better performance over  cheaper  steel case from Tula or Wolf?  I can not say. For training at 25-100 yards I would not buy it. You can do the same with cheaper.  I am not even sure in what way to use it. If I need to shoot in a precision role, I am going to use true match ammo.  If I need better terminal effect, I am sure to use ammo of higher quality meant for good terminal effect.   I think for better results from 100-200 yards on sometihng like a ground hog it would do just fine. Otherwise I am just not sure. You will have to decide that for yourself.

Other then that, it is not too bad at all. If you have a MK12 that you want to shoot out to 200 yards or about, but do not want to use up your TAP or MK262, then this would be a decent choice. It would be more accurate then surplus and it will match  your 77 gr. BDC  turret or reticule pretty close and not break the wallet in two.

FN USA PBR A Good First Light Sniper/Tactical Rifle

A lot of people over the last 10 years or so have become interested in long range precision shooting. One of the simple facts of life when it comes to precision shooting at ranges past 700 yards is that the rifles often cost a lot of money. There is a huge mind boggling selection of rifles to pick from these days. You can have your choice of full custom, semi custom factory rifles, plain factory rifles meant to fill the need and factory rifles worked over to provide the desired results. A lot of people do not understand there is a big difference between a target rifle for LR shooting and true tactical or sniper rifles.  I submit to you that they are all three different levels all together.  One type is meant to shoot accurately while being treated gently. The other is to be treated like you wish you could treat your sister in law  over years and still deliver an acceptable level of accuracy. It would surprise a lot of people to know  military sniper rifles often do not shoot to the same level as a Camp perry target rifle. But thats OK. it does not need to. It just needs to shoot that good all the time no matter what you do to it.  In a later article I will go into more depth on precision rifles and long range since this is a topic a lot of people want to know about but assume it is way more difficult then it really is.  Do not let it fool you. Making hits at 1,000 yards is not as hard as it may seem. And often you can get it done with a semi auto A type rifle faster and cheaper then what you can with a worked up bolt gun. Again, I will make the case later.

Now I would like to take  a look at what I believe to be  a great starter rifle for those wanting to start the craft and a even more useful  general purpose  heavy recce to use a phrase borrowed from Howard.

The rifle I am going to talk about is the FN USA  Patrol Bolt Rifle.  Everyone who knows anything about me, knows I love and prefer the Winchester pre 64 controlled round feed action and the FN  uses this action. Winchester and FN are pretty much the same thing these days and have been working close even before the New Haven plant went tango uniform. The result of this was the FBI bought a few  heavy snipers from FN  using the Model 70.  A side project resulted in a neat little gun  that everyone should take a look at.  The PBR  is no longer made and called the PBR but FN still makes it with a few slight changes. I will refer to it as the PBR because that is what I have but it can be bought still, just under another name.

The PBR came and the current model comes with a Hogue over molded stock, same as the M700 ACC model. The difference is the PBR has a full length bedding block. If you do not know about this  feature, it is meant to take the place of glass or devcon or marineTex ing the action in the stock. To keep the action from moving in the stock and increasing the rigidity. Along with free floating the barrel this helps keep the gun more consistant and so more accurate.  Bedding blocks are poo pooed by some but for what the PBR is meant to do, it is acceptable.  The stock is not the most comfy but  for a gun meant to be issued out to a wide variety of  LEO or whatever, it is not bad at all. Some even really like it. I find the rubber coating wants to catch on everything on my body and make it slow to handle some times. thats OK because it is not meant for 3 gun slinging.

A really nice touch that FN provides is the one piece picatinny Near MFG scope base with cant for aiding zeroing to longer ranges. A lot of people who start out in long range shooting  do not know just how important the base and rings are to the system. I prefer bases made by Badger Ord but again, it is more then enough for what this is meant for and you can always change it as you want. I recommend using it for a long time until yuou are good enough to know exactly what  you need.

To mount the scope to the base I used Leupold MK4 rings and a ancient tactical Leupold MRT  10x with mildot reticule that was meant for paring with the M700 PSS rifles back in the late 90s. It is still a fine optic and if you can get one i suggest trying it out. The specs are 3.5x-10x with  1/4 inch target turrets and a 40mm objective lens.  I also added a synthetic  Military sling and harris  BR model Bipods.

The barrel on the PBR is 24 inch chrome moly with fluting and a recessed crown to protect it from morons who do not pay attention. Unlike the FBI model, the barrel is not chrome lined.  The taper on the barrel is pretty steep so it is not as heavy as a straight taper  HBAR used on Winchester sharpshooter IIs or the FN SPR A3G.

The PBR also has the nice feature of a detachable box magazine. The mag holds 4 in it and is made of SS and ejects cleanly and sharp from the rifle. It is well made but hard to load rounds into it. Not a big deal once you get used to it but a pain anyway. Spare mags can be had from brownells fro about 44 bucks a pop.

As I said above, the action is the pre 64 model 70 so it has the huge external extractor. A lot of people like the M700 more and say that  the extractor on a M700 will not break. I am here to tell you that is pure BS. I have had four M700 extractors break on me over the years.  They will and can break off.  The M70 holds the case as it picks it up and strips it off the mag and feeds it. It will extract it out of the chamber or rip the head off  and because of the solid metal ejector, you can eject the empty as hard or soft as you want/need. One benefit of this is you can work the bolt in any position and not worry about feeding problems. As much as I love the M70 I can not see this as a real advantage as I have never been able to induce at malfunction  in a m700  in any position as long as I worked the bolt.  with purpose.   On a gun meant for very hard use in ways that may get you killed, I like the controlled round feed ( CRF ) and so do the vast majority of dangerous game hunters in Africa.

The action of the PBR is as smooth as most of its type and is very unlikely to bind. The rifle is very handy and I see it as a perfect scouting rifle or  light sniper that would be good for riding in the trunk until you need it. The new versions come with  barrels as short as 16 inches so adding a can would make for a very handy suppressed sniping rifle for urban use. In fact, I feel this is very close to being a perfect urban sniper  as far as bolt guns go. The barrel has a 1/12 twist so it will handle up to a 175 match round. Some always want a 1/10 and of course if you can a 1/10 get it, but the USMC has done alright with a 1/12 for years if that settles your nerves over it.

I have shot several PBRs out to  as far as 800 yards over the years and found them to preform my demands. It is not perfect for this role or the most comfortable. Nor is it put together with the right parts or intended to really be a long range head shooter. If you imagine the PBR as having the same role as a MK12  or a recce but as a bolt gun I think you will be close to what this gun best fits as.

The rifle is very accurate though and with proper ammo, hits out to 800 yards or easy. 1,000 yard hits are not out of the question but do not get all twisted out of shape if its not as easy as you would hope. There is a little more to it then a 308 rifle with a heavy barre. But not as much more as you may think!! More on this later as I said.

After putting it together and shooting it some and checking out ammo selection etc. I set up at 100 yards to get a cold bore group to see how solid the system would be. I think 3 rounds  is a good test of this gun since it is not truly a target or sniper rifle, but something in between.

This is a three round group from 10 yards using Black Hills match 175 grain HPBT.  Point of impact is exactly point of aim. I am very happy with this as I am sure you can imagine.  I intend to use the PBR as a light mid range sniper and sort of a small to deer size  hunting rifle. It is easy to move with, lighter then my Sharpshooter II and shorter. Its not as comfortable in prone, but that is just fine I gave up the gravel belly days a while ago and need something a little better for more common field shooting or from the harris bipods. One day I will get a McMillan HTG stock like used on the M40A1 rifle, but maybe I won’t if the hogue proves solid enough.

If you want to start out in the Long range shooting hobby but also want something you could hunt with easier  or carry easily across the suburb while being out of sight after the end of the world. The PBR or its current incarnation is a great place to start. If you want to move on to more custom, you can save the action to build from. I always  advise using the Model 70 for a sniper rifle and this is a good way to start and give  you more then the M700 AAC model which is very close to being the same.

The Colt 901 PART 5 Support Gear

Having the 901 for a while  and testing it,  it was time to start putting together the  gear that would support its use and was a little easier then the old mag in the back pocket nonsense. From previous articles,  you can see Looserounds  really likes the TAG Banshee Plate Carrier.  Since I see no need to have more then one PC, I decided to work up a way to use the same Banshee for  the 901 and my beloved 556 rifles.

I came to the conclusion that I would have enough ammo on the PC for most any need while being able to change it out fast if I did not want to use the 901.  After looking around and mulling it over I decided to go with the Blue Force Gear Tenspeed pouch for SR-25 pattern magazines. Two members of  Looserounds has been using the Tenspeed for a while adn find it to be a very nice low profile and slick pouch. The TenSpeed is elastic like and holds the mags snug but when you take them out, it will snap closed and lay against the PC flat.  The are not the best for a situation if you are going to be sticking mags back in the pouch in a hurry or you need to retain them on then PC under stress, but if you run most your reloads of a belt and the PC acts just as you spares or emergency rig, its great.

I purchased the double mag pouch because I feel that  40 rounds on the carrier and 20 more in the gun is enough for all but travel to Detroit.  More can be added as  you want. I am way to lazy to carry much more then  60 rounds of 762 for long without a team of mules a nap and my favorite blanket, so 60 is enough for me.

The good thing is the pouches for the 762 mags is tight enough that you can use 556 mags in it as well. They are snug still but a little less then if they are made for 556 mags. This is not a bad thing because it allows you to get them out easier, this is something not as easy when using the pouches dedicated for 556 mags. So , if I want, I can take the 901 mags out and stick two USGI 556 mags in the pC and have 90 rounds of 556.

My other choice is to take the 901 mags out, let them tenspeed lay flat and don a chest rig. I will not go into the unlimited amount of choices for 556 chest rigs out there but I will show  my choice.  I decided to use the new USMC and ARMY issue tactical Assault Panel ( TAP).

 

The good thing with the TAP is that it can be worn as a seperate chest rig or can be attached to the PC by hardware that comes with it. So , you can  just pull it over the PC or you can attach it with the fastex  buckle kit that is issued with it.

I think this combo give me the versatility  to go back and forth between two calibers  very easy. This works out well since the 901  is very modular.

Unnecessary “Upgrades” Part 2 The KISS Flaw

As said in the previous article by Howard, it is always good to take a minute from your plans of what to do next to “upgrade” your firearm and think about if you need them. It is fun to fill your head with  action hero fantasies where you are the  spec ops operator mowing down commies or rescuing your busty sister in law from the zombie horde, but it can lead you to buy things for those most unlikely of outcomes that you do not need.

All over the internet you will find a lot of  people giving their opinion of what is needed for the perfect fighting rifle or pistol. You have two major sides for the most part, the KISS side and the others.   The KISS  guys will tell you that you need nothing on the rifle other then a sling and a mag, maybe a A2 sight if you are lucky but mostly just a A1 rear sight will do.  It is easy for some people to fall into this way of thinking for many reasons.  One of the main reasons the KISS group usually likes to hide from newcomers is the simple truth that the appeal of just buying a rifle and not spending any more money is strong for them. Some of them want a fighting rifle, but even if they want the other things to go with it, they just do not feel they will use any of it enough to justify its purchase.  That is fine. if you take a long look at what you intend to do with your weapon and stop thinking about the zombie horde and realize it is a dirt blaster for fun or tin cans, then  the KISS idea is fine.

The problem is a lot of the KISS soothsayers will go to the top of the mountain and sing the praises of having a light on your gun is a waste of money or “just hanging crap off it” to be cool. This is a very large flaw in thinking is you want a series fighting gun that will give you the most versatility and an edge to help you save your life or you loved ones.

While it is certainly true not everyone needs this stuff or even a gun, but I think this is a lame excuse. You do not buy car insurance or a spare tire because you plan on problems. You do not even carry a gun because  you expect to do to Detroit and get into a fire fight. You do it because you simply do not know what will happen. If I knew if I would run into the trouble, then I just would not leave the house and save myself and not worry about carrying a gun for defense.

We have all read the posts on forums of guys who say they do not need a light or a  tritium sight, or a mag that holds more then two because when an intruder comes in their house in the night, they will sic the dog on them, barricade the door, call 911, fire at an upward angle with Granpa’s pump action  blah blah blah.  They have this set in stone situation in their head about exactly how a deadly encounter will happen and  absolutely KNOW  that they will execute some plane. They can not accept or even admit that some thing beyond their control or at a time when they are completely away from their bedroom and the safety of their fantasy  response plan. Crazy.

This is why some things are an upgrade to your weapons. Not swapping the blued safety on your gun to a extra long extended safety in nickel.  For the most part. Its a good policy to just leave the weapon the way it came from the factory until you know what you can do with it and you determine if it has a problem that needs fixing.  Until you use it enough to show real skill, there is no real reason to mess with internals to “improve ” it.  Putting match triggers in guns not originally meant for them is one of the most common things I see done. Usually from people that have not shot enough to benefit from a match trigger anyway. New  types of  fore grips, butt stocks, angled fore grips, bipods, bayonet lugs, fancy rails and rail covers and rail lengths are  other culprits that do not always give you more for the money. Some do and can, but usually skill has to improve before a lot of these things can help you. They do not improve your shooting, just the versatility of the weapon and times of day you can use it.

Things that are needed to truly upgrade can be listed very quickly.  On a carbine or rifle meant for fighting/home defense, the bare essentials in my and many other minds are as follows.

1.A light.  You can not hit what you can not see at night. Want to risk shooting at the “badguy” in the house with no positive ID when you also have a panicked kid or two running around? Usually running to your bedroom right to you expecting protection?  May look like an aggressor coming to slice you up  at 2AM in the morning in the dark with sleep bleary eyes and you are scared out of your spider man PJs. Of course seeing in corners, temporary blinding the foe, etc et. But learn to use it right so you do not point your muzzle at a friendly when you are jacked up, just to see who it is.  A light on a loaded gun is just as dangerous as a loaded gun pointed at some one any other time. Night glow in the dark sights are NOT a substitute for a light.  Even if you can see your sights, you still do not know who you are aiming at. A light lets you ID targets and backlights the sights.

2.  A good sling.  You may need to do other things with your hands, call 911, carry a baby, open a door, cover a wound, while keeping the gun own your person and not getting tired from trying to hold it up with just one hand and arm. Also retains the  weapon if you need to switch to a sidearm or climb etc etc etc. Use your common sense and you can see why a sling is important. Dont just get anything though, think this through otherwise your GI issue silent sling is useless or some  math problem like three point may snag the light and turn it over and trip you up when you are not paying attention.

3. Holster for handgun.  Pretty much the same thing as a sling for a rifle. You may need a free hand and you want it on you.
4. Optics. A lot of people will argue with me on this, but try this at home with a rifle.  Lie on your strong hand side, in the dark and look under the bed like you are using it for cover and see how easy those iron sights on your carbine is to see.  Or any other position where you can not get nose to the charging handle.  If you can get them, get them. DO not go cheap. Get the best you can get. I will go back a little and say optics are not a MUST HAVE. But thing will almost never be better in situation without optics. A Red Dot Sight in preferred.

There are other must haves but they are not anything you will not get anyway. Good mags, good ammo, etc.  But those 4 will give you almost every thing you need to defend your self outside or an Iraqi night time fire fight.  Other things are nice and will make you more flexible, but those are the things pretty well accepted as being must have. Do not let the KISS concept guys talk you into taking a less then effective weapon to a fight just because that is they way it was when they were in the Army in 1981 or their Daddy’s Daddy’s Daddy did it, and that is good enough for you.

USMC Scout Sniper Weapons of the Vietnam War

In the past months I have written a bit about the use of and primary rifles used by the USMC for sniping use in the Vietnam war. Now I would like to talk a little about them again along with some of the supporting (spotter) weapons and equipment used by typical sniper teams during the war. Everything used is of course not included, but its a small general example of the weapons used by the majority and most common.

In a fast review of the main sniper weapons, or at least the most well known, we start off with the Pre-64 Model 70 Winchester rifle. The rifles in use at the time were a mix of factory Winchester national match and “Bull guns”,  with the heavy target marksman stock and the sporter stocked Model 70 with factory or custom barrels. The custom work being done by USMC RTE armorers for Competition use at Camp Perry for the national matches and sniping use in asia. The optics were the Unertl 8x USMC contract scope purchases during WW2 for the Marine Corps 1903 sniper rifle.  Some other brands of externally adjustable scopes were used but the Unertl was the most common. A few 3x-9x  Japanese made scope saw some very limited use on a few M70s but very few.

Ammunition for the Model 70 snipers was the Lake City Match ammo made for for the national matches using a FMJ 173 grain boat tailed bullet. One of the things that kept the model 70 from being selected as the sniper standard in the years to come was the fact that this was not a commonly issued round.

The rifle that replaced the M70 and became sniper standard until this very day in the configuration of the M40A5, was the Remington M700-40x. The 40x was a target action of better quality then a standard M700 of the time. The 40x action came with a receiver slot for stripper clips used in reloading when the rifle was employed with target iron sights in high-power rifle matches like at Perry.

The rifle was tested and found to be the best COTS choice at the time due to the Winchester stopping production of the very high quality and very expensive and time consuming version of the Model 70  now known as the “pre-64”

The rifle was dubbed the M40 by the USMC and came with a medium heavy barrel chambered in 308 NATO with a plain dull oil finish sporter stock. It used the clip slotted 40x action, did not have provisions for iron sights and had a metal butt pad. Remington provided the rifle in an entire package with a Redfield Accur-Trac  3x-9x -40MM scope in matte green in Redfield Junior bases.

The rifle barrel of the M40 was later free-floated and the action bedded by USMC RTE armorers in Vietnam after the tropical climate proved almost too much for the rifle to take.

An interesting point is that the two most famous Snipers of the war , Carlos Hathcock and Chuck MaWhinney used the Model 70 and the M40 respectively.  Hathcock having a total of 93 confirmed kills to MaWhinneys 103.  Hathcock used the M70 for his fist tour as a sniper when he got most of his kills including his most famous exploits, but did use the M40 some in his second tour before becoming seriously wounded and being sent home. Unfortunately the rifle was destroyed in the action that wounded him and saw him being awarded a silver star.  Mawhinney’s rifle was found years later and still in service as an M40A1. It was pulled from use and restored to its original specs and is now on display.

The less glamorous but very important spotter in a scout sniper team carried more common weapons that every rifleman was familiar with.  The one that seems the most thought of as the spotters weapon when talking about the USMC sniping teams, is the  M14 US rifle caliber .308 NATO.

The M14 is the US Military’s most short-lived issued rifle. Little more then a slightly more modern version of the M1 Garand, the M14 has a detachable 20 round magazine and fired 308 NATO. The rifle was made in select fire ( full and semi ) and was very much like the M1 Garand.  The M14 was already obsolete by the time it came out of Springfield.  It did and still does have its promoters, but few remember or know that at the time, no one really liked it as much as is thought now.  It was soon replaced by the M16 series of rifles. The M14 did see use by sniper teams in the USMC and the US Army. The Army being the heaviest user of the M14 for sniping developing it into the XM21 that used the ART 1 and 2 optics and night vision optics and sound suppressors. The USMC did use it in a limited way ( compared to the Army) for some night work using the starlight night vision optics.  The M14 was carried by  Carlos Hathcock’s spotter John Burke who used it to great effect when working with Carlos and using match ammo.  The US Army struggled to make the XM21  into a reliable sniper weapon for years and sunk a huge amount of money and effort into it before dumping it for the bolt action M24 SWS ( another remington M700).  Kills could be made out to 600-800 yards with iron sights depending on skill of the shooter and was used for security of the team. The higher ammo capacity and full auto fire would be useful to break contact when ambushed or lay down cover if things went bad.  I have not seen any evidence of it being used to break an ambush in my research but I am sure it happened.

The next rifle is of course, the Colt XM16 and the M16A1.  The rifle  replaced the M14 as standard infantry rifle in the early 60s. The rifle was ideal for jungle warfare and after early blunders by the DOD using the wrong powder in the M193 ammunition and not chroming the chamber, the M16 went on to be our longest-serving weapon and respected world wide.  The M16 lacked the long range potential of the M14 in the spotter’s role, but combat had shown a sniper should not fire many rounds from a position least he be found. Having two people firing was more than the idea of no more then 3 rounds fired by the sniper from one hide.  The M16 was more controllable on full-auto fire, was lighter and the spotter could carry more ammo. Later in the war 30 round magazines became available and gave it even more advantage over the M14.  The spotter, already burdened with security, the team radio and other mission support equipment, benefited from the smaller lighter M16.

The M16 was officially considered for sniping use, but lacking a fast enough twist rate for heavy match ammo, and no match ammo, made the chance of it being the standard impossible at the time. Since then the M16 has been developed into sniping roles as the US Army’s DMR, the USMCs  SAM-R and the  special operational forces M12 MoD 0 and MOD 1. Using the 77 gr.  MK 262 MOD 1 ammo, the MKI12 has recorded kills as far as 800-900 yards and is one of the most effective weapons in the US  military when looking at weapons responsible for enemy kills.  The M16 was also used by some in the USMC as a sniping tool before enough sniping rifles were sent to asia. Usually the rifle user purchased the Colt 3x scope and mounted it on the carry handle. Other special scope bases were made by RTE and USAMTU armorers  for sniping use. When in the right hands, recorded kills out to 900 yards were made with the M16/scope a few times, though very rarely.

The other often overlooked but very important piece of equipment was the spotting scope. Used to ID targets, spot missed shots and scan the area for targets, the M49 spotting scope was carried whenever the misison justified its use. Often times the lower magnification of the sniper rifle optics was not enough to ID a target over a civilian and a shot could not be taken with out proper ID by the spotter and spotter scope. The scope was also used to judge wind, mirage and help judge range so that sniper had the most accurate data possible to make his long range shot.  The scope was also used for spotting artillery and many other uses.

The M49 was a 20x power spotting scope that came with its own plastic carrying case for transport.The M49 is still in use today. The M49 also came with a Tripod for steadying it and for small adjustments to correcting its position so the user would not disturb the scope. The tripod came with its own webbing canvas carrying case that could be hooked to web gear.

The other common items used by the sniper team was the light weight jungle rucksack. The pack originally was intended for mountain troops and had a frame that could be used to carry large heavy loads for mountain and winter operations. It was the common issued jungle pack during the war but was by no means the only ruck used. Some sniper teams used captured NVA rucks or the Indig ARVN packs.

Above an M40 rests across a jungle ruck with the spotters M14 and M49 off to the side.

USMC sniper teams used a wide variety of equipment during the war in asia with this being a small part. The list would have also included radios, binoculars, food, the Colt 1911 as sidearms, maps, hats and camo uniforms and face paint, extra ammo, ponchos, poncho liner, knives etc. These are some of the most well known and famous of the many tools used by the Marines to become the premier sniping experts in the world. Next time I will take a look at some of the uniforms and web gear used during the war and the Army’s XM21 M14 sniper and the M14 and the myth that surrounds it.

Colt Rail Gun 4,000 round Test

Link to our Colt MARSOC  M45A1 Review  Part 1 and 2  to read about the M45A1 USMC 1911s accuracy and features

http://looserounds.com/2014/03/07/colt-m45a1-cqbp-usmc-1911-review-part-1/

http://looserounds.com/2014/03/10/accuracy-testing-the-colt-m45a1-marsoc-1911-part-2-review/

Since the news hit that Colt has won the contract to supply the USMC with the new 1911 pistol for MARSOC a lot of people have had a lot of questions regarding the rail gun. The pistol has been out since 09 and the only cosmetic  difference between the USMC contract gun is the FDE finish, the Novak night sights and a lanyard loop and the size and the M45A1 is a true picatinny rail along with a dual recoil spring system on the USMC gun.  The rail gun is stainless steel, frame and slide. The models with a dark finish are SS as well but with the extra coated finish.  There are a few nice touches on the rail gun that colt does not advertise for some reason, so I will break it down for you.

The rail gun comes with colt’s National match barrel. The barrel is slightly over sized at the muzzle end for a tighter fit for the barrel bushing and then slightly relieved. The slide has been dehorned for better handling and carry. Under the trigger guard is relieved for a higher grip and the front of the trigger guard is milled flat for those who like to put a finger in that spot. The pistol comes standard with Novak low mount combat sights and a Smith and Alexander upswept beaver tail grip safety. The rail gun I own came with the excellent STI ambi safety ( which has always been my personal favorite) but now comes with what may be the wilson combat ambi safety. The barrel and throat and chamber have all the normal upgrades that most 1911 buyers have a gunsmith do. This is a lot of upgrades on a pistol that is not advertised as being semi-custom, but they are there despite Colt not talking about it. You can confirm this all by reading some of the recent gun rag articles on the rail gun if you do not want to take my word for it.

The rail gun submitted for the new Marine special ops pistol has drawn a lot of attention lately from 1911 hater and lovers alike. The 1911 was tested to destruction in some cases and pictures have leaked out showing some cracking.  The rest of the story is not widely out at this point and the net being what it is, things have been taken out of context. The specs on testing show freezing the colt to 25 below for hours then heating to 100 degree then shooting and scraping ice off with knives. This is pretty harsh testing considering no service side arm would have anything like this happen or be shot that much.   But to try to understand what happens when a rail gun is used hard and to soothe the current rail gun owners frazzled nerves I decided to do a 4,000 round test of my own over the weekend.  My rail gun already had 10,000 rounds through it before I started the testing and I had an extra barrel ready to install anyway along with all the springs etc. So I decided I would use up whatever it had left to see what happened. I stopped at over 14,000 rounds through the gun when the USMC stopped at around 12,000.

I started off early in the morning and started shooting and loading mags as soon as they all run dry. I soon found out that I needed help with that so a friend got stuck loading mags for me to keep up the rate of fire and save time. With such a high rate of constant fire, it did not take long for me to burn myself on the gun. At times the gun got so hot to hold I had to place it in front of a large shop fan while reloading magazines

The gun would get so hot even the rear sight would be too hot to touch.

I did lube the gun every 300 rounds and I took the gun apart and wiped it off with a cotton towel. I did lube but I used no solvent or brush. This gave it a little time to cool down so I could hold it. By the time I had fired 2,000 rounds I had a few burns, blisters, and cuts myself. The web of my right hand is raw and my thumbs just plain hurt from loading. I am here to tell you–shooting this much non-stop is hard work. After a while I stopped trying to use training drills or shoot for group. I was so tired I just did not care. It truly is hard work and my ears still ring even with plugs in. The rear and front sight’s white dots became black from powder fouling covering them and my hands became filthy from the crud of so many fired rounds.

In all of this shooting I had three malfunctions. And I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that it was mag related because it was the same mag, The culprit was a weak spring in a wilson combat 10 round magazine. Once I took it out of rotation I did not have another problem.  The only other problem (other than burning myself) was the grip screws would loosen up. I expected this since i have seen it before and have never loctited them. I normally do not approach this amount of shooting in one setting so I live with re tightening the grip screws once a year when I think about it.

After I finished up I took a few pictures of the gun. These are pictures of the rail gun after the last 1,000 rounds shot through it.

As you can see in the picture, the surefire x300 is so coated I could not see the light when I tried it. I thought the batteries died or the light took too much abuse until I wiped it off and tested it again. The light never got loose and helped tame the recoil slightly. I do not find .45 ACP hard kicking, but after that many rounds, it starts to wear on you.

Eventually the 1911 was so dirty, nothing on it was clean to the touch. Wiping it off every 1000 rounds helped but it seemed like I was still not able to keep up with it. Slip2000 showed itself to be truly excellent oil with a little GM grease added around the barrel link for when it got hot enough to bake off the light oil.

With the exception of the one wilson 10 round mag, all of the mags worked perfect. I only used colt factory 8 round mags and wilson combat 8-7 and 10 round mags along with 5 shooting star mags. The shooting star mags worked fine much to my surprise for they have ever been a source of frustration for me in the past despite their rep. I have 5 of the wilson 10 rounders and all but the one worked perfect.

I did not do any accuracy testing after the fact because to be honest, I was tired and do not think I had the ability to shoot a decent group even if the gun could. Sorry about that, but you are free to try it at home with your 1911.

I took the gun apart and looked it over with a magnifying glass I used to use to inspect diamonds at a Pawn shop and could find no crack or problems. The gun was a lot looser than it was the day before, but is fine. It is not so loose to make me worry or even care and I have 1911s looser than it is now that shoot better than I could hope for. I tried to take a picture showing the inside but they are too blurry owing to my 89 dollar camera not having a setting for super close up.

Above is a picture of my improvised target stand to keep from ruining my normal stuff. It is completely eaten  away from the amount of rounds through it. All 230 grain ball ammo.

Here is a target I used for the last 500 rounds. you can tell how tired I was by looking at the shots all over the target. He was dead already so I stopped caring. Getting those last rounds fired was a act akin to running through hell with gasoline underwear on.

For those of you with a rail gun or thinking of buying one, do not let the out of context pictures of cracked slides make you worry. I now have over 14,000 rounds total through my Colt and it is still working just like Colt meant it to. I do not advise abusing your personal 1911s to the point that I did. I some times part-time gunsmith 1911s locally and have enough Colt parts to build two 1911s except for stripped frames and slides so I can do this with little worry.  I have already replaced the barrel and springs so it is back to normal and I can go back to CCWing it.

It was a tough day. I am just glad I do not have to clean up after myself!!

 

The COLT LE901 Part III Shooting and Handling

Since I have already written about the 901’s accuracy and long range precision, I wanted to talk about how the rifle handles, how it feels in recoil and in rapid fire and how it works out while wearing gear.

The first thing is how the gun feels in rapid-fire drills and “running and gunning.”  The 901 is in .308 winchester, a round that does not let you control the gun like a 5.56 will.  The carbine does not come with a muzzle brake, and a lot of people seem to worry it will be hard to control without real effort. The 901s recoil to me, feels very close to a light weight 6.8 carbine or a 7.62×39 AK with a underfolder stock. It is not bad at all.

As you can see in the action shot above. The recoil of the gun is very light for a 308. The gun is still on target while a case is in the air. My stance is not any kind of aggressive combat stance in that picture since I was shooting casually to see how easy the recoil would be.

After a little warm up with the 901 to see how it felt I started out with some triple and double tap drills at 20 yards with the weapon using my T-1 red dot.  During rapid fire I was able to keep the majority of the double and triple tap shots in the  CNS area.  Notice the shots in the face and high chest area of the target above.  All shots fired were full-power M80 ball surplus. The gun was very easy to control.  If I had slowed down, the shots would obviously tighten. I have to say, a vertical fore grip does give even more control and allows for some very rapid handling of the 901 and improves follow-up shots. This is not a real revelation but the VFG has fallen out of favor lately.  The slightly increased recoil of the 901, while not serious, does make a VFG handy.

Fast and easy reloading is accomplished just like any other AR.  Thanks to the ambi controls of the 901, this is sped up nicely. Ambi controls, while not something you have to have, are a nice feature.  Looserounds believes ambi controls are going to eventually be standard on every serious fighting rifle.

The 901 balances very well. A lot of people will complain about the gun weighing 9 pounds and more with gear added but the balance of the gun is so nice you do not notice the weight. I worked with the gun all day while shooting several times and never felt tired or like the gun was dragging me down.

Others who have shot it feel the gun is very controllable and balanced. Most have been surprised by how smooth the recoil of the carbine is.

The Colt is very fast to the shoulder form low ready making fast hits on multiple targets as slick as satan’s lawyer. The vortex flash hider tames the muzzle blast just like you expect the well-respected FH to do.

I tested the Colt while wearing my plate carrier to see how everything felt. I did not expect any surprises or let downs and I was right. The 901 is like any 556.

Firing the slayer while wearing plate carrier in non-standard and standard positions was typically easy and handling was slick.  I swapped out the factory stock for a Magpul CTR to see if a lighter stock made felt recoil more noticeable but I could tell no change.

The lower with 556 uppers used was also something with no surprises. After firing multiple surefire 60 round mags and a variety of other magazines through the upper/lower I found the gun had heated to the point gloves were needed. The T-1 mount was too hot to the touch yet the gun worked just like it was intended.

After high round count shooting and testing the rifle with normal drills, I took the gun  for a little urban use to see how it handled indoors in a more cramped situation. Even while wearing your gear and making way through small rooms and  hall ways, the 901 did great. The 308 round  is not a great choice for home defense if you are worried about over-penetration but it has appeal to a lot of people when it comes to knocking through some types of walls and structures in a more violent urban environment.


As of this writing I have over 2200 rounds through the 901. I did not clean it when I  got it and I did not clean it between shooting for groups.  I did not even put lube on the BCG until it burned away. In all that time not one malfunction appeared. The gun did not run sluggish or gritty. The only thing I noticed was the sludge from carbon and oil ruined my Tshirt. I have taken the gun apart and noticed very little wear on the parts you expect to see wear on. This is not a big deal because most quality ARs will hold up this well, but this is a new system not yet as proven as the M4 or M16 series so I think it is important to take note of how reliable it has been. Even though I have gotten it hot enough to feel through gloves. After leaving the  lower as dirty as it was, the 556 uppers were tested and ran like a swiss watch. Most of the ammo fired through the gun was federal gold medal and M80 ball with other match ammo brands used. The federal and M80 being the most used by far. The only ammo not tried yet was the cheaper Russian brands.

After all of the harsh firing schedule abuse I could manage, the rifle still shot well enough for “recce” or DMR work and not break a sweat.

The 901 is showing itself to be one of the truly most versatile Ar type rifles we have seen in a long time. It is not a dedicated sniper or CQB gun, but if used in those roles it can be employed effectively.

In the next parts there will be some reports on how it is doing with a wider variety of optics and ammo while in Florida heat and humidity while Loosrerounds testes it further and if we are lucky we will try it out on wild hogs. Fingers crossed we can pull off a successful hog hunt.

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