5.56 Timeline

To start off our new section

If there is one thing you can count on, its that the big name high profile trainers have their priorities straight.  Sure, they charge a lot for you to come to their carbine/shooting class. But its not tennis we are playing here, its life and death!!  Keep your head in the fight.  It is also a good idea to buy the proven products the instructor recommends because of the quality, not because they personally benefit in some way.

The Blackopstoys  Costa trainer doll!!!!  I do not have any idea if this was Mr. Costa’s idea even though it has his Costa Ludus branding…. but Loosereounds thinks the instructor worship has officially gone too far.

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.