5.56 Timeline

Old musing of mine on an ideal infantry rifle.

After I did a tour in Iraq in 06, I was close to the end of my service, I ended up in a camp guard force. Spend 6 hours on watch, then 6 hours off. Spent that time in guard shacks in 3 walls (and an open side). It is was miserable, we were allowed to wear hooded sweatshirts and keep wool blankets in these guard shacks. During that time I spent a while thinking about how the M16A4 could be improved.

Early 2007ish when I was freezing my ass off in these guard posts (at least they had a roof, better than most USMC accommodations), I had what I thought would be a good product improved M16A4.

My first thought was the free float the barrel. Not so much that the barrel needed to be free floated for military use, but that there were much lighter and nicer tubular hand guards available. The Knight Armament M5 Quad Rail used on the M16A4 works great, but it is heavy and expensive. If I recall correctly, I had learned of the VTAC tubular handguard and thought that would be an excellent replacement for the KAC M5. It would make the gun lighter, free float the barrel, and you could still install rail sections if you needed them to attach accessories.

My next thought was that if the barrel was free floated, we wouldn’t need the silly government profile. The M16A2, M16A4, and the M4 have barrels that get heavier towards the muzzle, instead of any sort of common sense profile. Story goes that M16A1 barrels were failing the barrel straightness tests near the front sight base, so it was decided to strengthen the barrels there. Story then says that it turned out to be copper buildup at the gas port in the barrel causing the barrel straightness gauges to get caught. If we don’t need the government profile, we could use a lightweight barrel like on the M16A1. That would cut some weight off the rifle.

I wanted to keep it a 20 inch barreled rifle with fixed front sight and bayonet lug as back then I still believed all the chatter we were told in the Corps that the M4 was not suitable as an infantry weapon. Having that 20 inch lightweight profile barrel would give up more velocity, less wear and tear on the internals, the ability to mount a bayonet. Lastly, still having a fixed front sight base on a free floating barrel means that if you drop or damage your gun and tweak or bend that barrel. You are likely to still hit what you are aiming at if you are using your iron sights.

I wanted to maintain the ability to use a flip up rear sight, I thought the ACOG would be the best choice for a rifleman’s rifle. I still pretty much feel that way.

Last big change from the stock M16A4 I was thinking about back then was a collapsible stock. I did not like using that A2 stock with body armor.

Picture of Knife_Snipers rifle

It might have looked something like this.

In the decade plus since then, I’ve thought less about making “ideal” rifles, and focused more on purpose built guns. I’ve realized that the M4 is plenty good enough as an infantry rifle, but I still love free floating lightweight barrels. Now my idea of the closest thing you could get to an ideal AR15 would be something like a long freefloat tube with an accurate lightweight barrel. Something like the Larue PredatAR.

What would be your ideal AR15 for fighting?

The Birth of the Winchester Model 70

Most of this week I was working on some posts about the Model 70 Winchester, my favorite bolt action rifle. I had about half of a long article going when I checked my email today and saw that Rock Island Auction had already finished one. Well that was a lot of work for nothing. Waaa Waaaaah Sad trombone.. So, instead of finishing that first post, here is the RIA article. Or about half of it. Follow the link at bottom to read it all and I will be back with more Model 70 stuff to show you and talk about next week.

From the RIA Gun Blog

The earliest version of the Winchester Model 70 borrowed heavily from its short produced predecessor, the Model 54. Designed by Thomas Johnson and developed in the early 1920s, the Model 54 became the first bolt action rifle made by Winchester and continued production until around 1935. Bolt action rifles had gained popularity in America after World War I since soldiers coming home were well acclimated with them after using their service M1903 and M1917 rifles. Between 1925 and 1941, around 50,000 of these guns were manufactured. The Model 54 came in several different caliber variations with the most popular being .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, but customers could also place special orders for other calibers. The gun’s main purpose was for hunting, but was also customized and used in shooting competitions.

The original Model 54 was a dangerous and poorly produced rifle. Originally designed without the necessary gas escape ports, it could present an explosive hazard to its user. This blunder was corrected on later productions of the model, but the gun still fell short with the public. The main reason the Model 54 was never found success was due to the obvious flaws in its bolt and safety design. The wide throw of the bolt and placement of the safety did not all allow for telescopic scopes to be mounted on to the gun which turned away a wide array of civilian and military customers. The trigger was loose due to the cheaper materials used in the gun, causing inaccuracy and a relatively weak action. To say the least, customers were not pleased by the rifle’s performance.

Beyond the shortcomings of the rifle, the fact that it was sold in the Great Depression Era in America also contributed to lower sales. Something had to change in order for the Model 54 to make a profit for Winchester.


Rare Winchester Model 54 Deluxe Heavy Barrel Bolt Action Rifle in 250-3000 Savage Caliber

The Winchester Model 54 was a bust and in the hopes of redeeming their name in the bolt action rifle market, Winchester knew they would need to come up with a firearm that knocked its customers’ socks off. In 1935, attempting to use parts and the machinery purchased for the previous gun, they released a much improved version of the bolt action and called it the Winchester Model 70 rifle. The gun was so well made that it is considered one of the finest bolt action rifles made in America. The first incarnation of the Model 70 hit the market in 1936.

The rifle came in 18 cartridge varieties and additional variations were available through special order. The standard Winchester Model 70 offered a 24”, 26”, or 28” inch barrel. Perhaps the best feature of the rifle that made it superior to other guns was the Mauser two lug extractor bolt with controlled round feeding, which was smooth and made for faster firing. The early versions of the gun were equipped to accept stripper for quicker reloading relative to other options on the market. The entire gun was made from steel and wood. The finished pieces were true works of art.

Highly engraved Winchester Model 70

Elaborate Relief Engraved, Gold Inlaid African Big Game Themed Winchester Model 70 Bolt Action Rifle in .458 Winchester Magnum. Avaliable this December.

Hunters, competition shooters, and other sportsmen took a liking to the accurate and efficient Winchester hunting rifle. The first production run was short lived due to the outbreak of World War II, which changed Winchester’s military production efforts. The U.S. military adapted a small amount of Model 70 rifles for training and some use in combat during World War II,  but the government already had on hand thousands of M1903 and M1917 rifles from the first World War, as well as new contracts for thousands of new M1903A3 guns, resulting in little need for another bolt action rifle. In fact, during the Vietnam War, in an attempt to use all available resources, the US government gave troops the Model 70 rifles from World War II for actual use in combat. Despite the advancements in military arms over the last 30 or so years, the Model 70 proved to be an excellent sniper rifle for the Marines with its reliable accuracy and long distance power.

After World War II, small alterations were added to the Winchester Model 70 making the early 1940s era a transitional time for the gun. From the late 1940s to 1963, several different models and chambering adaptations were added. The Varmint, the African, the Alaskan, and the Featherweight are just a few of the variations that came about during that era. Around 600,000 Winchester Model 70 rifles were made in that time span; substantially more than the 50,000 Model 54 rifles produced during its 16 year run. The Model 70 a tremendous hit and the premier bolt action hunting rifle even while it was still undergoing changes.

The “New” Winchester Model 70

The Model 70 was made in the exact same design until 1964, but there was new, less expensive competition emerging in the market such as the Weatherby Mark V and the Savage Model 110. Winchester had to find a way to produce the Model 70 in a cheaper and quicker way while still maintaining quality if they wanted to stay on top. The new gun had drastic changes that made fans of the Model 70 quite unhappy. The most controversial was the switch from the controlled round feed with a claw-like extractor to a push feed bolt with a small hook extractor on the right locking lug. People didn’t trust the little hook would be reliable compared to the claw-like extractor used in the previous design. The original hand cut barrel and rifling was changed to a cheaper and easier process of using a forged barrel. Winchester began to cut costs on the deluxe features by adapting a pressing method instead of cut checkering on the wood of the gun. Some materials used went from steel to aluminum to reduce costs further. One improvement was the anti-bind feature which actually helped the bolt become smoother. The addition was referred to by Winchester as the “guide lug” which was essentially a lug on the bottom left of the bolt that that ran on a track inside the receiver. This kept the bolt at the correct angle to prevent binding.

The changes from the original design to the new production is why the Winchester Model 70 rifle is referred to by gun enthusiasts as “pre-64” and “post-64.” Getting a Model 70 made before these changes occurred is much more pricey and desirable due to age, quality, and nostalgia.

Model 70 Super Grade

Factory Engraved Gold Inlaid Winchester Custom Shop Custom Grade Model 70 Super Grade Model 70 Bolt Action Rifle. Avaliable this December.

In 1968, Winchester took note of the public’s disdain in many of the changes and started adding back elements of the original rifle throughout the next decade or so. In the 1990s, Winchester released what was called, “The Model 70 Classic” which was a callback to the original Model 70 design and features. The most requested feature was added, which was the return of the controlled feed ejector bolt. The gun was well-produced and some may say an improved version of the original with the addition of the anti-bind bolt feature. The changes Winchester made to redeem the new Model 70 contributed to the rifle retaining its name as the finest American hunting gun.

If you would like to read an in-depth description of the evolution of the Winchester Model 70 and all its variations, purchase a copy of the book The Rifleman’s Rifle by Roger Rule. It provides a thorough overview of all iterations of the Model 70.

Link to read the entire piece and see more pictures below.


No More ATF “Guidance”?

Some big news this morning that may not seem that big to a lot of people. Everything from the IRS randomly changing rules on people to the ATF issuing “guidance” out of their ass could be effected by this. Only time will tell to what extent the swamp will be able to “interpret”/nullify it, of course, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

“The order instructs federal agencies to “treat guidance documents as non-binding both in law and in practice,” include public input in formulating guidance, and make the documents “readily available to the public”:

Agencies may impose legally binding requirements on the public only through regulations and on parties on a case-by-case basis through adjudications, and only after appropriate process, except as authorized by law or as incorporated into a contract.

They have 120 days following the “implementing memorandum” from the Office of Management and Budget to review their own guidance documents and rescind those that they determine “should no longer be in effect.” If it wants guidance to remain in effect, an agency must publish the document in a “single, searchable, indexed database” on its website.

The second order bars federal agencies from pursuing “a civil administrative enforcement action or adjudication absent prior public notice of both the enforcing agency’s jurisdiction over particular conduct and the legal standards applicable to that conduct.”

It notes that the Freedom of Information Act amended the Administrative Procedure Act to better protect Americans from “the inherently arbitrary nature of unpublished ad hoc determinations”:

The Freedom of Information Act also generally prohibits an agency from adversely affecting a person with a rule or policy that is not so published, except to the extent that the person has actual and timely notice of the terms of the rule or policy.

Unfortunately, departments and agencies (agencies) in the executive branch have not always complied with these requirements. In addition, some agency practices with respect to enforcement actions and adjudications undermine the APA’s goals of promoting accountability and ensuring fairness.

The order binds agencies to “apply only standards of conduct that have been publicly stated in a manner that would not cause unfair surprise” to a target of enforcement, adjudication or other forms of “determination” that have “legal consequence.”

It even requires them to publish any document that they intend to enforce “arising out of litigation (other than a published opinion of an adjudicator), such as a brief, a consent decree, or a settlement agreement.” This means agencies can’t spring new rules out of thin air on parties that weren’t subject to the litigation.”

One wonders if this means trump just made his own bumpstock ban illegal..

Dick’s Sporting Good Virtual Signal Champions! Destroys $5 Million in rifles

Pictured above CEO of Dick’s , Ed Stack

What a twist worthy of Hitchcock. In a shocking turn of events, the people with the political philosophy of never trusting giant evil corporations now look to giant corporations to control our God given rights. Not just our freedom of speech being curated by our social media overlords at facebook either. Nay. Now we have out benevolent masters deciding what guns we can have. Cause of course they know best.

From the news wing of the DNC, CBS news.

“Overseeing more than 720 stores in 47 states, Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, has a multi-billion-dollar empire to run. But Stack is now balancing running a business with his new role as one of the corporate faces of America’s gun control debate. Who appointed him to this role by the way? Himself?

“I don’t understand how somebody, with everything that’s gone on, could actually sit there and say, ‘I don’t think we need to do a background check on people who buy guns.’ It’s just, it’s ridiculous,” he said. I agree, liberty is absurd. who the hell thought that it was a good idea to let people exercise their right without government permission first?

It’s a pretty controversial stand from a company that’s been in the gun business a long, long time. His father, Richard Stack, started Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Binghamton, New York in 1948. He used a $300 loan from his grandmother’s cookie jar to do it. He was just 18. These days he’d probably hardly recognize the place – ( I would say that is a solid bet )it’s grown from that one tiny location into a nationwide chain, with some stores that are big enough to house the Space Shuttle.

What Dick’s did, didn’t stop mass shootings; they were uncomfortably numerous after Sandy Hook. But when a shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, it hit closer to Stack than it ever had.

“We found out that we sold this kid a shotgun,” Stack said. “That’s when I said, ‘We’re done.'”

“Even though that wasn’t the gun he used?” asked Cowan.

“Even though it wasn’t the gun he used. It could have been.”

Yes and he could have raped some one with your penis ,Ed, better cut it off.

Ever since Parkland, he and his wife, Donna, ( snicker..there is it.)have been weighing the moral implications of continuing to sell firearms at all. They even took a trip to Florida to meet with Parkland survivors.

Blah blah Blah. Commie noises and leftist propaganda etc etc.

I’m not going to subject you to having to read any more of this idiocy. Dick’s stopped selling Evil Black Guns as you already know and recently destroyed 5 million dollars worth of guns. Probably because the makers already sold them and wasn’t going to take them back and Dick’s was stuck with something they already virtue signaled about not going to sell. If they changed their minds, no one would buy one from them at this point anyway. Their recent loss of revenue has proven that.

” Democratic presidential candidate ( snicker…is he really though?) Beto O’Rourke praised the company’s decision to stop selling constitutionally-protected firearms to Americans, saying Dick’s Sporting Goods is “doing more to keep Americans safe from assault weapons than Congress.” So there you have it, lets just turn it over to these beneficent billion dollar corporations folks.

Musing on dealing an ambush

There was a post over on ARFCOM where someone was asking if there is Civil War 2.0, how to deal with ambushes. They brought up the military doctrine dealing with an ambush and asked how it would apply in that situation. But, because the forum was ARFCOM, responses tended to most all be jokes and sarcastic remarks. Stuff like, “hurr der hurr, if you be in da ambush, you be already dead.”. Ad nauseam.

Whom ever started the post had some good questions.

“How do we know we’re in an ambush?”

“Is it still relevant to differentiate near/far ambushes?”

“Contemporary wisdom says a react to near ambush is an immediate assault through, but what should that look like?”

“How useful is initiating everything with a bit of Drake shooting?”

AR15.com forum response was an argument of if it should be called the “boogaloo” or “the great hootenanny”.

So let’s think about this. What is an ambush?

An ambush is a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy unit. It combines the advantages and characteristics of the offense with those of the defense.

An ambush is a surprise attack against you while you were moving through an area from an enemy that is in a prepared position.

So if you are in a static position. Either from your fighting hole, or sleeping in your bed at home, and you get attacked. That is a standard attack, not an ambush. But if you are walking to your car, or patrolling an area and get attacked, that is an ambush.

How do you respond to an ambush?

The writer asked if we still need to differentiate near or far ambushes?

If you have been ambushed, you are in the “kill zone”. Not a good place to be. In a “near ambush” this kill zone is close enough to the enemy that you can assault into their position to make it harder for them to attack you. In a “far ambush” this kill zone is far enough away that you can’t just immediately assault into the enemy position. In the far ambush you can attempt to break contact or use fire and movement, or fire and maneuver, to close with and repel or destroy the enemy.

Let’s pause for a moment. This military doctrine assumes you are talking about two groups of disciplined warfighters. In an insurgency, civil war, or you being ambushed by some thugs/robbers, that may not be the case.

A military unit caught in an ambush may be perfectly willing to take some casualties to route or destroy an ambushing enemy force. If you are with your family, you may not feel the same way.

The first thing to do when ambushed is survive. Generally the best way to do that is to get out of the kill zone. You might only be able to get into cover, but that would be far better than staying in that kill zone.

Once you have survived that initially attack, there is a hard decision that has to be made instantaneously. Do you attempt to press on and attack your attackers, or will you try and break contact and retreat? There is no simple answer to this as the possibilities of what you could encounter are nearly infinite.

What would assaulting though a near ambush look like?

Let’s imagine the simplest possible version of this. Two bad guys are standing out there and start shooting at you. You realize you are close to them and this is a “near ambush” so you decide to assault through. While engaging these two baddies, you run in between them. Now you three are in a line.

Bad guy 1 You Bad guy 2

Hypothetically, if either bad guy shoots at you now, they might hit the other bad guy. Hopefully, that discourages them from shooting long enough for you to engage both of them with the necessary level of ultra-violence so that you can go home safe.

Let’s now look at an alternative version of that. They attack, you run up so that you three are in a line.

Bad guy 1 Bad guy 2 You

In this case, bad guy 2 had a clear line of sight on you, but you are using bad guy 2 as a shield from bad guy 1. Hopefully bad guy slows down or stops shooting at you, giving you the chance to engage both bad guys from your location.

That is the very simplest example of assaulting into a near ambush.

What about using a “Drake Shoot” to respond to an ambush?

The goal in life is to first to survive, than to thrive. If you have survived being in that kill zone, you then have to decide if thriving means getting out of there, or attempting to repel the enemy or destroy them.

A “Drake Shoot” is when you are taking fire from an unknown location. You (and your group) engage potential locations where that fire might have come from with 2 rounds.

I like the idea of a Drake shoot, but it has various limitations and I don’t think I really applies well to an ambush.

Imagine your group takes sniper fire from an unknown location in a building. So your group then engages the building with a “Drake Shoot” firing a few rounds into each window, door way, visible “mouse hole”/”loop hole” where a shot might have come from. I think that makes a great deal of sense. I think firing 40mm grenades into the windows makes even more sense. Just as long as you are doing the Drake Shoot with out concern of civilian casualties or secondary damage.

I think if the enemy is performing an effective ambush against you, you far more likely to know where they are attacking from. Should you not know where the ambush is coming from, you are probably pretty well fucked. If you don’t know where the fire is coming from you don’t know where to take cover from it. You can’t effective return fire to your attackers, or attempt to attack or assault their position.

That might be a time when a death blossom might be an appropriate response if collateral damage and civilian casualties are not a concern.

So what is the big picture?

Being ambushed sucks so try to avoid it. If you end up being caught in one, expect to have to rapidly respond and DO SOMETHING proactive. Doing nothing will leave you in the kill zone, which will likely lead to your demise. Better to do a wrong response with violence of action than to do nothing.