Category Archives: Scattered Shots

Optic of the Week: Trijicon RX01

This weeks optic of the week is the Trijicon RX01.  This particular model has the rail mount, they are also seen with a gooseneck mount for fixed carry handles.

I wouldn’t say that these old reflex sights are bad, but I do not recommend getting one.  I was under the impression they were discontinued and out of production, but I see that there are plenty new ones for sale for about $430ish.

I owned a RX01 back in 2005ish.  The main reason I bought it back then was that it did not use batteries, and most battery operated sights of the time use odd sized batteries and had poor battery life.  I had used it on M16A2s, M249s, and my personal rifle.  I later replaced it with an Eotech 512.

The RX01 Reflex Sight uses Tritium and fiber optic to illuminate the reticle.  There are two major downsides to this sight.  First is that the radioactive Tritium has a half life and the Tritium is not replaceable and dims over time.  Second is that due to the nature of how the sight works, there are many times when it can wash out.  Most noticeably is if you are in a dark room looking out into a bright area, the dim reticle will not be very visible.  My having that issue is why I ended up selling the RX01 I owned.

When I received this RX01, I took it out with a target at 25 yards for zeroing.

I don’t know why the camera didn’t pick up the amber reticle well, but it was very visible to my eye.

Windage and Elevation can be adjusted using a coin/screwdriver or Allen wrench.  The adjustments are very positive clicks that are suppose to be 1 MOA.  When I zeroed this sight I found the adjustment seemed to be closer to 3/4 MOA per click.  The housing is loose on this sight, and I don’t recall it being loose on the one I owned all those years ago.  I wonder if there is any sort of mechanical damage or issues with this particular sight.

I shot very poorly with this site when zeroing it.  I shot the same rifle with a difference sight that day and did much better so I rather like to blame this optic.  As I said previously, I wonder if this particular one is damaged.  I am tempted to contact Trijicon and see about sending it in for inspection.  Pictures of the zeroing target omitted to protect the embarrassed party.

After obtaining a zero I tried some rapid fire on clay pigeons on the berm at 25 yards.  In the sunlight the reticle was bright and crisp.  The reticle was easy to follow during recoil.  I would say that shooting the pigeons was easy, but the blue tint of the lens made the orange clay pigeons invisible against the dark dirt berm.  I had to use the Bindon Aiming Concept where I spotted the clays with my left eye and overlayed the reticle with my right.

*Mental note:  If the enemy is using a Trijicon Reflex wear orange.”

I tried using the RX01 with an Aimpoint 3X magnifier and they worked together excellently.

I found shooting with the RX01 in daylight very fun, easy, and it performed awesomely.  But I know that I have had issues with the reticle washing out in real world situations.  I don’t know the reticle size on this particular unit, but in the artificial light at my home it seems too tiny dim to spot well, and outside at the range it seemed bright and huge.  There is a polarizer available to try and deal with this issue, but the real solution is to use a different modern sight design.

The RX01 was pretty cool for its time, but it is obsolete now and there are far better options for the price.

RX01
Brand Trijicon
Magnification 1x
Adjustments 1 MOA Clicks
Weight 4.2oz
Power Source Fiber Optic & Tritium
Aperture Size 24mm
Reticle Options 4.5 MOA Dot/6.5 MOA Dot/12.9 MOA Triangle

And to wrap up, here is a teaser for a future optic of the week article:

How Insurgencies are Broken

This is another re-post from our ongoing tribute to our friend Kevin OBrien , AKA “Hognose”.  Who was the owner and primary of weaponsman.com  who passed away   much too early in the spring of 2017.

 

"Is it safe?"

“Is it safe?” Torture makes for great entertainment, but it’s seldom needed to roll up an insurgent network.

We bumped into an interesting post at a blog called The Lizard Farmer on the subject of COIN intelligence TTPs. He uses the example of an imaginary Texan resistance cell and describes how intelligence practitioners would roll up a would-be “militia” unit. They do this without even a State of Emergency, or tapping the NSA liasons’ at the fusion centers’ direct warrantless access to domestic mass phone and digital surveillance. They just apply the tactics, techniques and procedures that police use now to close criminal cases, which are very close to what intelligence organizations use to unravel, expose, and annihilate insurgent entities.

His specific example begins with a dead body found after a small unit contact. The decedent was sanitized of serial numbered equipment, electronics, ID and identifying marks, and had even defaced his fingerprints. But he still was the thread they pulled to unravel his entire cell. In the end, modern technology (and psychology) have made no man an island — not even a dead man.

He concludes:

These tactics are how insurgencies are broken.  They’re what enabled the system to pin Bin Laden down, catch the Tsarnaevs, and identify drone strike targets in the middle east.

We have to interrupt here to say two things about the Tsarnaevs — they were not caught until after they acted, and there was no great effect of the intelligence effort to hunt them. They were caught because they got in a gunfight with the cops; one (Speedbump) was killed, finished off when his brother ran him over, and one (Flashbang) wounded badly enough that a citizen found him and turned him in, after a botched Gestapo-style house-to-house razzia failed to find him.

Networks are deadly to an insurgency.  Even operating in meatspace can be deadly without the right precautions.  All it takes is for one person to use that phone to call or that debit card to pay and they’ve been nailed in time and space.   Sure you may be using your regular phone (and not your disposable one) to call ma but you’re there and the records show it.  And if your battle buddy does something similar he’s fixed at that time and place as well – so now both of you are associated.  The key is discipline.  When you meet you go completely off the grid.  Completely.  No phone use, no debit card use, nada in and around the geographic area and  timeframe you meet.  Recon and identify how you could expose yourself.  Does a certain route have license plate readers?  Then don’t use it.  Convenience stores?  They all have cameras at the counter and pumps. Nearby ATM machine? Cameras and transaction records.  The golden rule at all times (and I mean all times)  is to ask yourself: How will what I’m doing at this second expose myself and others to identification?

via How They Hunt | The Lizard Farmer.

Emphasis was in the original. Note that already the police work around legal restrictions on using “forbidden” or warrantless unlawful surveillance by the fiction of “parallel construction,” which means, quite literally, presenting false records to the court that were generated to plausibly explain government possession of illegally collected data. Parallel Construction is not a novel GWOT era technique but was used at least as early as the early 1990s in drug cases, both running warrantless wiretaps against organized crime figures and using military intelligence assets against domestic crime groups. In those cases, it was justified in part by a drug case carve-out to Posse Comitatus engineered into being in the 1980s, but once they began doing it they were on the slippery slope of doing it whether they had a drug nexus or not.

The 1990s-vintage botched raids at Waco and Ruby Ridge both used military assets (physical and human) acquired by ATF and FBI agents simply lying and manufacturing a nonexistent “drug nexus” to get what they wanted. They were coached in this by DOJ lawyers (which should be a reminder to you that a lawyer is a man who is trained to lie for a living; that’s why they do so well as politicians). And these seemingly extreme measures of the 1980s and 1990s were taken in the face of routine and small-time crime. You may rest assured, you would-be revolutionaries, you, that the gloves would come off in a shooting insurgency, and you haven’t seen gloves-off yet.

In some ways this is new; in others, it is as old as the Roman suppression of the Jews 2,000 years ago. A good overview of the techniques, minus the modern technology, can be found in the movie, The Battle of Algiers, and that puppy’s over 50 years old.

Even now, in the FBI, which is increasingly redefining itself as the Sword and Shield of The Party1, monitors what it calls “extremists” and is making long lists of who it would like to round up, when The Party lets slip its leash. Erdogan isn’t the only one who had an “enemies list” cued up for neutralization.

So, if you are, say, an antiauthoritarian personality, if the will to resist is strong in you, what can you do without winding up on a slab like “Bob” in Lizard’s post, or in a death-row holding cell like his brother, or having his kids passed to the probable molesters of the state’s Child “Protective” Services like Bob’s brother’s kids?

One notes that the FBI has been extremely poor at detecting troublemakers who act alone. This is a general truism of police work. Criminals get caught because they interact: they talk, and seal their fate; they associate with other criminals, and the capture of one gives investigators a powerful lever with which to pry loose the rest.

Or, to put it in the words of an old western movie, if you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.

Notes

  1. You may have heard that phrase before. We were reminded of it by the Bureau’s reluctance to support a prosecution of Mrs Clinton for a more egregious version of an offense that it has arrested and helped imprison several for every year of the last decade, while snapping-to immediately in pursuit of the hackers that embarrassed The Party. The former alone might simply have been a case of how the Beltway operates increasingly on a Code of Hammurabi type law, with “different spanks for different ranks.” But in conjunction with the second, and various other activities, it’s clear that FBI is increasingly comfortable viewing itself as a partisan political police. People fear a military coup in the United States, but that is very unlikely; however, the Bureau’s higher echelons are starting to see themselves as the Praetorian Guard.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

M203 9″ vs 12″ barrel velocity

B.L.U.F.:  Negligible difference in muzzle velocity between the 9 and 12 inch M203 barrels.

About 2 years ago I decided I was going to buy a M203.  I had the extra cash and realized if I didn’t then, I never was going to.  Not to mention I had wanted one for years.  I searched out dealers in my state that had one in stock, and both dealers that I found wanted about $400 over MSRP.  MSRP being about $1600 for a LMT M203.  I went to my local NFA dealer, talked to them, and they ordered me a M203 and sold it to me for far less than MSRP.  Dealer made a profit, I saved a good bit of money, we both were really happy.

Still it took a while.  Took a long time for my dealer to receive in the M203, then with the 43P changes making things confusing for me, and the like, it took about 2 years from when I decided to buy a M203 to when I was able to take it home.

I tell you, going around and telling all my friends that I own a M203 was worth the cost and weight right there.  The fact that I get to shoot it just icing on the cake.

I ordered a standard mount M203 with a 12 inch barrel, while I waited I picked up a 9 inch barrel.  Really glad I did.  Also got the LMT stand alone stock for it.

Now to cut down on the rambling, I will get to the point.  I was recently contacted by someone from AR15.com forums asking about muzzle velocity on the M203.  Military manuals claim that the 14.5 inch barreled M79, the 12 inch barreled M203, the 11 inch barreled M320, and the 9 inch barreled M203 have the same muzzle velocity.  That seems a little hard to believe.

The muzzle velocity is said to be 250fps.  So, I have both barrel lengths and a chronograph so it is easy enough to test.  I fired a chalk round though each barrel length.  Lot Number on the ammunition is MTL13G614-034.  The Chronograph was set about 10 feet in front of the muzzle.  Rounds were fired into a 50 yard berm.

These training round consist of a zinc “pusher” base, a blue plastic cap filled with chalk.  The case is polymer with a .38 blank inserted into it.

From the 12 inch barrel, I got a result of 238.6 FPS.

For the shot from the 9 inch barrel, it was 233.5 FPS.

Now a sample size of 1 shot from each barrel is far from statically relevant.  But with only a difference of 5.1 FPS, I’m ready to call the difference between the two barrels negligible.

The picture doesn’t show it well, but these training rounds are horribly dirty.  Crud, sealant, unburned power, and all manner of gunk are left in the barrel after a single shot.

In any event, shooting a M203 is fun.  Little less fun shooting off the bench.  I used to own a .45-70.  I loved shooting that gun off hand, but when I shot it from the bench it would recoil straight back and be rather uncomfortable.  The M203 is similar.

Video: AK12

This video shows off the AK-15.  The same rifle as the AK-12, but in 7.62×39.  One notable change in the AK-12 and AK-15 over the venerable AK-47/AKM/AK74 is a free floating barrel with the gas tube fixed to the receiver.  It also has a side folding collapsing butt stock.

But the most interesting thing about this video is over at 27 seconds the target they show appears to show key-holing.  This is where the bullet impacts the target sideways.  Not very impressive from any rifle.

M203 Information

I was asked by someone on AR15.com to find some information about the M203.  I am posting it here so it will be available for everyone.

I weight a 9 inch and 12 inch barrel on a precision scale.  Both barrels had grease on them which I did not clean off.  I can’t tell you how much the grease threw off the measurements, but this should still give  you a fair comparison on weights.

The 9 inch barrel is 14.7 oz, or 416.6g.

The 12 inch barrel is 17.54 oz or 497.5g.

It makes me think that since the 12 inch barrel is so close to 500 grams that may have been a target weight for the barrel.  When I first put the 12 inch barrel on the scale it said 500 flat, but when I moved it and wiggled the barrel it ended up settling down to 497.5g.  So in the end, the 9 inch barrel is about .18 pounds lighter than the 12 inch barrel.

LMT M203 with unknown brand 9in 40mm barrel.  LMT Stand Alone Stock, Daniel Defense Front Sight, and unknown rail mount leaf sight.

Also, the Army says that the muzzle velocity of the M320 is 236.22 fps, and the M203 is 250 fps.  But I don’t know what barrel length they are referring to in that.

Interview With Lynne M Black Jr. US Army Special Forces & SOG Veteran

For this post we have a very special guest.     Below is an interview with Lynne Black Jr.  I asked Mr. Black  if he would be so kind to submit to the torture of me asking him a lot of annoying questions he has been asked a million times before  and he very graciously accepted.  Some of our readers who have come over to  us   after the too soon passing of our friend  Kevin, who, like Mr. Black , was/is also a Special Forces soldier and owner of weaponsman will hopefully especially enjoy the conversation with  Mr. Black.

He is a vet  of the    US Army  Special Forces, The 173 Airborne Brigade and the legendary  Studies and Observations Group  (SOG) as a “One-Zero” team leader.    MACVSOG was the   top secret, super clandestine multi-service  special operation forces unit from the war that  had it’s hand in most of the war’s most notable events. SOG’s strategic reconnaissance teams and Hatchet force companies  conducted a variety of missions, raids and rescues in the bordering countries of Laos,  and Cambodia, North Vietnam and the DMZ with contingency planning for  possible missions into China and Burma.

 

Mr. Black is also the author of  Whisky Tango Foxtrot,  where he recounts some of his time in the elite unit. You can, and should buy  his book at the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/Lynne-M.-Black-Jr./e/B0064D94AO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1516684955&sr=8-1

Mr. Black and some of his fellow unit members , were also featured on an episode of the History Channel’s Heroes Under Fire  that details  one of his many  dramatic and inspiring  missions. “Jungle Ambush”. You can buy  and watch it at the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/History-Heroes-Under-Jungle-Ambush/dp/B01GUOW4O4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516688592&sr=8-1&keywords=Jungle+Ambush+history+channel

 

This introduction was forwarded to me from Mr. Black from a previous interview for  a brief background about himself.  I include it so as to not make him type it all up again for our readers.

 

At first a small introduction to readers who you are and what SF groups you served?

Lynne M. Black Jr.: I was born April 22, 1945 at 10:00 a.m.; the same hour and day Hitler announced to his General Staff he would be committing suicide, the war was lost; coincidence I’m sure. I voluntarily joined the U.S. Army in June 1963 after graduation from High School. During school I had been working at a local television station art department as an artist. My boss was a World War II veteran who informed me I had a duty to perform for my country, and that the job would be waiting for me when I got back after three years.

 

I attended basic training at Fort Ord, California; Advanced Leadership School and Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky. During Armor School I was recruited into jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia and became a paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was assigned to a Cavalry Company on special assignment to 612 Quartermaster Arial Supply learning to rig personal parachutes and heavy drops, such as vehicles and ammunition.  After six months with the 82nd Airborne I received orders for the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) on Okinawa, Japan. I reported to D Company, 16th Armor sometime in April 1964.

May 12, 1965 we disembarked off the USS Mann in Saigon Harbor, and trucked to Bien Hoa to secure the air base. We had been told this would be a short police action and that we would all be back on Okinawa for Christmas.

One of my two younger brothers, Hugh, was in the 173rd Engineering Company, which was mortared by an unseen enemy. Hugh’s injuries were critical and he was sent back home to Madigan General Hospital in Washington State. He spent several months recovering in the hospital and many more after he was released from military duty.

I spent thirteen months in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and have to say I never once saw the face of the enemy. They had nailed my younger brother and I was mad as hell and wanted revenge.

I got out of the Army July 1966 and moved to Hawaii where I worked in a television station art department watching the war on the nightly news; watching the gun fights from a safe place; watching the bodies coming home in metal boxes; talking with other veterans who said they had never seen the enemy, but had lost buddies to Viet Cong covert jungle tactics.

June 1967, I took and passed the Special Forces examination, and reenlisted reporting in at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to the 82nd Airborne Division. I was on a waiting list for the next Special Warfare School class; The Q Course. I had one goal in mind, to see the face of the enemy as I killed him. I would get even for the mortaring of my brother Hugh.

June 1968, I was back in Vietnam with classified orders for Military Assistance Command Vietnam/Studies and Observations Group (MACV/SOG).

I was initially assigned to Forward Operations Base – 1 (FOB-1) located outside Phu Bai just down the road from the old imperial capital city of Hue. Earlier that year during the Tet Offensive the area in and around Hue had seen a lot of battle. I and one of my classmates were assigned to Recon Team Alabama, which was a Vietnamese team. It was newly formed as most of the Americans’ and Vietnamese members had either been killed or severely wounded. Our first mission across the fence was October 5, 1968. We were to track a three thousand North Vietnamese Army Regiment down the Ho Chi Minh trail in order to collect intelligence. What we ran into that day was a Division of ten thousand; we inserted by helicopter right into the middle of them.

I have chronicled that day in the first chapter of my book, which is titled Whisky Tango Foxtrot. The History Channel also created a show titled Jungle Ambush, which was one in a series called Heroes Under Fire.

I served with MACV/SOG in the Recon Company for 25 months under the codename of Blackjack before getting out of the Army for the second and last time. As I stated earlier I began with RT Alabama at FOB-1, moved to RT Idaho just before we closed down Phu Bai, FOB-1 and moved to FOB-4 the Danang Command & Control North (CCN) headquarters.

Above intro was excerpted from previous interview by  collectors.eu  and provided by Mr. Black for our readers.

 

 1.The Colt CAR15 is well known for being used by SOG, how well did you like it or did you prefer something else? By most accounts it seems to have been well loved.-LR

The Colt CAR 15 was an excellent weapon in that it was light, accurate, short and ergonomically suited for jungle warfare. It didn’t hang up in the brush or rust like the M14 or other all metal weapons. The majority of my time was spent in Laos and the DMZ which were heavy brush and mountainous. Our enemy contact, due to the terrain, was usually close and intense.

This topic has been talked to death over the years. So, here’s my experience and two cents worth. The M16s we were issued in 1965 fired the .223 round which was marginally suited for the weapon; there were many extraction and ejection problems. These issues got some of our guys killed or wounded and forever cast a cloud over the M16.

When I went back for a second tour the military had alleviated many of the malfunction issues, but exacerbated another which was the overheating of the barrel; especially on full auto. Both the M16 and the CAR15 had thin “pencil” barrels which did not handle heat effectively. Hence the pictures of a lot of us having a glove on our left hands to deal with the heat.

Those AR platforms were designed by Stoner to handle a .22 magnum round and that level of recoil. All that said, by military standards the CAR15 was exceptionally light, accurate and lethal. The majority of jungle warfare is close encounter, so in my opinion, vegetation penetration was not an issue. It is well documented that when the 5.56 round hits bone that it can ricochet inside the human body causing extensive damage; that’s a plus not a minus in war. If I were in camp defense mode I’d choose an M14 or a BAR over the CAR15 due to shooting at greater distances. It’s just about choosing the right tool for the job.

The AK47 (7.62×39) is a good weapon in the hands of a big man that can wield it. The Vietnamese are not big enough to effectively handle the AK47. They can’t control its barrel climb on full auto and on average take a lot longer time to regain their sight picture on single shot. Also, the recoil pounding the shooter is far greater with the AK than a 5.56. If you’re the guy they’re shooting at this is good news; averages are on your side. The round the A47 fires is excellent. The AK47 is reliable but not as accurate as the M16 or CAR15.

Much of the debate is around a thing referred to as stopping power. A 7.62 round will easily pass through the human body. Unless it hits a vital organ, makes a head shot, or cripples the target can keep moving. The 5.56 round will also pass through but if it comes in contact with bone will often ricochet and cause even more internal damage. Take your pick. No matter what caliber fired, a kill shot is a kill shot.

 

  1. Did you make any changes to your carbine for you personally? Many pictures have been seen with forward grips attached to CAR15s among other things and I wonder if that was done by the users or an armorer. -LR

The only change I made to the CAR was the temporary addition of an experimental 40mm grenade launcher. I used it on a couple missions and found it to be awkward and not as accurate as the sawed-off usually carried. The only good news about it was it allowed my hand to be further away from the hot front grip during a firefight. Normally I wore a glove on my left hand to be able to handle the barrel heat.

I don’t recall ever seeing anyone with a forward grip on their CAR during my two years in SOG, so I can’t answer that question

  1. When on missions did you or your peers carry a sidearm/pistol as a secondary weapon? And if so what was it and where was it normally carried? Many books mention carrying handguns but few photos give any indication where on the body or field gear it was carried.-LR

I carried a Browning Hi Power on a lanyard around my neck with the pistol tucked into an inside pocket of the One Zero vest. I considered it to be part of my E&E gear or to be used when I ran out of 5.56 or 40mm.

Many of the Americans carried a Browning, Colt .45, silenced Hi Standard twenty two, Smith & Wesson Combat Masterpiece, and other personal firearms. They were carried in holsters, rucksacks and pockets.-LB

  1. Could you tell us what other weapons you may have carried during your time in the war and how you liked each?-LR

I had three tours in Vietnam. The first was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The weapons I carried there were:

M14 – Not good for jungle patrols in that it was too heavy and long. Better suited for base camp defense and long range shooting. Great round and penetration.

Grease Gun (.45) – I have nothing nice to say about this weapon in that it would rust right before your eyes. The magazine springs were weak and we had to double them up. They continually had feeding problems to where we had to turn them upside down to gravity feed the rounds. This caused hot brass to eject onto forearm bare skin causing blisters, which became infected.

M16 – In 1965 the M16 was not a reliable weapon, which is well documented. We learned to tape the cleaning rod segments to the fore grip in case of shell casings being jammed in the receiver.

Colt .45 – I’m not a fan of the .45 for only one reason which is ergonomics. I couldn’t effectively wrap my hand around the grip and hang onto it after the first shot. I like the round. I don’t like the pistol.

M60 – Absolutely one of the worst light machine gun designs ever foisted on any military unit. As long as you were in a fixed position, with an assistant gunner, were in a level firing position and didn’t tilt or twist it on its side it fired. Otherwise it was a jamming piece of shit. I much preferred the Russian RPD.

Second and Third tours were with MACV SOG:

Browning Hi Power – For my hand a perfect ergonomic fit. I used it several times in combat and never saw a target get back up.

Tokarev – Fun to shoot in camp and on the range. I considered it to not be a field weapon for our area of operation.

Gyrojet – Love the concept of a .50 caliber rocket round, but … like all rockets the round had to build up inertia to penetrate its target. Firing it at anyone closer than 15 feet away would only piss them off and cause a big bruise. How do I know that? I was shot in the stomach with one from about six feet. The round hit my belt buckle and knocked me down. Bruised the hell out of me for a couple weeks. At lethal distance they were not accurate. We gave the weapon back to the armorer.

Spanish Star 9mm (Silenced) – Specialty weapon to be used in prisoner snatches. Functional, no pro’s or con’s.

Llama 9mm (Silenced) – Specialty weapon to be used in prisoner snatches. Functional, no pro’s or con’s.

High Standard .22 (Silenced) – Specialty weapon to be used in prisoner snatches. Functional, no pro’s or con’s.

British Sten Gun 9mm and .45 (Silenced) – Specialty weapon to be used in prisoner snatches. Functional, no pro’s or con’s.

Swedish K 9mm – Loved this submachine gun. Perfect for close in fighting with minimal recoil. Great for one day in and out missions due to the weight.

AK47 – Good cyclic rate of fire. Not accurate. Poor recoil ergonomics on full auto causing extreme barrel climb. The North Vietnamese had difficulty staying on target … thank god.

CAR15 – Primary Weapon: Can’t imagine a better jungle warfare weapon. Because of my experience with the M16 during the first tour I taped cleaning rod pieces to the fore grip. Never experienced a jam or malfunction of any kind with the CAR.

40 mm Grenade Launcher (Sawed Off) – Handheld artillery. We didn’t operate in areas where artillery support could reach us. We improvised by sawing off the barrels and stocks of M79 Grenade Launchers. Doing this resulted in no loss of accuracy or range. The versatility of rounds from high explosive, buckshot, gas, flares, etc. was very useful.

Russian RPD – We used this in place of the American M60 as it was much more reliable and versatile.-LB

  1. During the Vietnam War some very early optics were used like the colt 3x and 4x and the early red dots, did you use or see used any of those early optics?-LR

I range tested each of them as they became available and they did everything as advertised. However, I found them to be useless due to the kind of missions we ran. Generally we were operating in close and most of us were instinct shooters.

Instinct or snap shooting is a whole other topic worth describing. When I went through the Special Forces Qualification Course (Q Course) for weapons one of the things taught was instinct shooting. An instructor took four of us into a room with tall ceilings. We were each given a Red Ryder BB Gun and each stood in one of the corners. The instructor tossed number 10 can lids up and we had to hit it with one shot. When we walked out of that room, after picking up all the BB’s, we were hitting 8 out of 10. They loaded us on a truck and to the range we went. We shot at pop up targets with M16’s without sighting and hit our average of 8 out of 10. That technique also works with pistols. Sights became obsolete for jungle fighters.

6. Always an ongoing topic of interest, the individual gear and items is something  people who read about SOG are curious to learn . Can you tell us what was carried on your person for mission?

7.Back to the CAR15, pictures exist of the gun with a cleaning rod taped to it to clear stuck cases. Was this also a practice of yours? Did you know of any of your fellow SOG vets having to use it in a fight?-LR

This picture of my CAR15 being held by our hooch maid is a good example of the cleaning rod being taped below the hand guard. By the way, she was a damn good shot.-LB

8.Of all the configuration of the current M4/M4A1 and its various rails, optics lights/laser offering nearly endless variations. If you could have had them in your time in SOG, is there a combination of carbine and part of the SOPMOD kit for it you would like to have had back then for your missions in SOG?-LR

The short biased answer is NO. The current weapons are set up for long range sandbox warfare and are heavier with so much stuff to get hung up in the brush. Wrong weapon for jungle warfare.L

 

 

 

 

 

Setting AR15 Iron Sights for the IBZO.

I know that I have talked about this before, and I promise you I will talk about it again.

While I was in the Marine Corps we shot a qualification course of fire at the distances of 200, 300, and 500 yards.  Using the 8/3 sights of the M16A2 we used the markings on it for 300 and 500, and adjusted it 2 clicks down from 8/3 small gap for 200 yards.

When I got out of the Corps, I found much to my dismay that the carry handle sights I used would bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3 if it was a detachable sight.  Turns out they come from the factory that way.  The intent is that the small peep is used from 300+ and you would use the larger 0-2 aperture on 6/3 or 8/3 for a 200 yard zero during low light or close range shooting.

Turned out the Marines would modify the sights to allow for a 200 yard zero.  And this modification is as simple as loosening a screw.

Now to back track for a moment.  On a rifle length AR15, a fixed carry handle with the 8/3 sight will have a 1 Minute of Angle (MOA) change in impact per click of the elevation wheel.  The detachable carry handle will have an adjustment of 1/2 MOA.  On the carbine, this adjustment is about 3/4 MOA.

So from the factory, the AR rear sight will bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3.  We call this small gap.

One full turn puts you on a 800 yard zero on a fixed carry handle, and 600 on the detachable carry handle.  We call this the large gap.  That size of the gap lets you quickly identify which of those settings the sight is on.

To allow you to set the sight for a 100 or 200 yard zero, you need to allow the drum to rotate below 8/3 or 6/3.  You will need a small Allen Wrench.  I’ve found that this wrench size is not the same on all brands of carry handles.

When the rear sight peep is up and the sight is aligned on 6/3 or 8/3 , you can insert a small Allen Wrench into a screw.

DO NOT REMOVE THAT SCREW.

Just loosen it a turn or two.  This will allow you to rotate the bottom section of the elevation drum.

On a 8/3 drum, -2 clicks gives a 200 yard zero.  8/3 -3 for 100.

For the 6/3 drum, double the number of clicks.  -4 for 200, and -6 for 100.

Snug the screw back down, and double check that you have the right number of clicks.  Zero your rear sight normally and then you will be able to dial your rear sight down for a 100 yard zero.

Vietnam Sniper Study

Today’s article is a repost  from   our  deceased friend Hognose, owner  of Weaponsman.com.  Kevin, AKA Hognose passed away last year and as an ongoing tribute to his memory and excellent work we repost the  his works to help preserve it. 

Vietnam Sniper Study

In 1967, the Army got the idea to study whether, how, and how effectively different units were using snipers in Vietnam. They restricted this study to Army units, and conventional units at that; if SF and SOG were sniping, they didn’t want to know (and, indeed, there’s little news either in the historical record or in conversations with surviving veterans that special operations units made much use of precision rifle fire, or of the other capabilities of snipers).

Meanwhile, of course, the Marines were conducting parallel development in what would become the nation’s premier sniper capability, until the Army got their finger out in the 1980s and developed one with similar strength. The Marines’ developments are mentioned only in passing in the study.

Specific Weapons

The study observed several different sniper weapons in use:

  • ordinary M16A1 rifles with commercial Realist-made scopes. This is the same 3×20 scope made by Realist for commercial sale under the Colt name, and was marked Made in USA. (Image is a clone, from ARFCOM).

realist11

  • Winchester Model 70s in .30-06 with a mix of Weaver and Bushnell scopes, purchased by one infantry brigade;
  • two versions of the M14 rifle. One was what we’d call today a DMR rifle, fitted with carefully chosen parts and perhaps given a trigger job, and an M84 scope. The other was the larva of the M21 project: a fully-configured National Match M14 fitted with a Leatherwood ART Automatic-Ranging Telescope, which was at this early date an adaptation of a Redfield 3-9 power scope. (Image is a semi clone with a surplus ART, found on the net).

M21 ARTR

The scopes had a problem that would be unfamiliar to today’s ACOG and Elcan-sighted troopies.

The most significant equipment problem during the evaluation in Vietnam was moisture seepage into telescopes. At the end of the evaluation period, 84 snipers completed questionnaires related to their equipment. Forty-four of the snipers reported that their telescopes developed internal moisture or fog during the evaluation period. In approximately 90 percent of the cases, the internal moisture could be removed by placing the telescope in direct sunlight for a few hours.

The leaky scopes ranged from 41% of the ARTs to 62% of the Realists. The Realist was not popular at all, and part of the reason was its very peculiar reticle. How peculiar? Have a look.

Colt realist 3x20 scope reticle(A later version of this scope, sold by Armalite with the AR-180, added feather-thin crosshairs to the inverted post. The British Trilux aka SUIT used a similar inverted post, but it never caught on here).

The theory was that the post would not obscure the target, the way it would if it were bottom-up. That’s one of the ones you file away in the, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” drawer. Theory be damned, the troops hated it.

The use of the rifles varied unit by unit.  Two units contemptuously dismissed the scoped M16s, and wouldn’t even try them (remember, this was the era of M193 ammo, rifles ruined by “industrial action,” and somewhat loose acceptance standards; the AR of 20145 is not the AR of 1965). The proto-M21s came late and not every unit got them. It’s interesting that none of the weapons really stood out, although the NATO and .30-06 guns were the ones used for the longest shots.

None of the weapons was optimum, but in the study authors’ opinion, the DMR version of the M14 was perfectly adequate and available in channels. The snipers’ own opinions were surveyed, and the most popular weapon was the M14 National Match with ART scope, despite its small sample size: 100% of the surveyed soldiers who used it had confidence in it. On the other hand, the cast scope rings were prone to breakage.

The biggest maintenance problem turned out to be the COTS Winchester 70 rifles, and the problem manifested as an absence of spare parts for the nonstandard firearm, and lack of any training for armorers.

Looking at all the targets the experimental units engaged, they concluded that a weapon with a 600 meter effective range could service 95% of the sniper targets encountered in Vietnam, and that a 1000 meter effective range would be needed to bag up to 98%. (Only one unit in the study engaged targets more distant than 1000 m at all).

Snipers were generally selected locally, trained by their units (if at all), and employed as an organic element of rifle platoons. A few units seem to have attached snipers to long-range patrol teams, or used the snipers as an attached asset, like a machine-gun or mortar team from the battalion’s Weapons Company.

An appendix from the USAMTU had a thorough run-down on available scopes, and concluded with these recommendations (emphasis ours):

Recommendations:
a. That the M-14, accurized to National Match specifications, be used as the basic sniping rifle.

b. That National Match ammunition be used in caliber 7.62 NATO.

c. That a reticle similar to Type “E” be used on telescopic sights of fixed power.

d. That the Redfield six power “Leatherwood” system telescope be used by snipers above basic unit level.

e. That the Redfield four power (not mentioned previously) be utilized by the sniper at squad level.

f. That serious consideration be given to the development of a long range sniping rifleusing the .50 caliber machine gun cartridge and target-type telescope.

(NOTE: It is our opinion that the Redfield telescope sights are the finest of American made telescopes.)

Note that the Army adopted the NM M14 with ART (as the M-21 sniper system) exactly as recommended here, but that it did not act on the .50 caliber sniper system idea. That would take Ronnie Barrett to do, quite a few years later.

Rifle_M21_2

The Effects of Terrain

Terrain drives weapons employment, and snipers need, above all, two elements of terrain to operate effectively: observation and fields of fire. Their observation has to overlook enemy key terrain and/or avenues of approach. Without that, a sniper is just another rifleman, and snipers were found to be not worth the effort in the heavily vegetated southern area of Vietnam.

In the more open rice fields and mountains, there was more scope for sniper employment. But sniper employment was not something officers had been trained in or practiced.

The Effects of Leadership

In a careful review of the study, we found that the effects of leadership, of that good old Command Emphasis, were greater than any effects of equipment or even of terrain. The unit that had been getting good results with the Winchesters kept getting good results. One suspects that they’d have continued getting good results even if you took their rifles away entirely and issued each man a pilum or sarissa.

Units that made a desultory effort got crap for results. Some units’ snipers spent a lot of time in the field, but never engaged the enemy. Others engaged the enemy, but didn’t hit them, raising the question, “Who made these blind guys snipers?” Sure, we understand a little buck fever, but one unit’s snipers took 20 shots at relatively close range and hit exactly nothing. Guys, that’s not sniping, that’s fireworks. 

The entire study is a quick read and it will let you know just how dark the night for American sniping was in the mid-1960s: there were no schools, no syllabi, no type-standardized sniper weapons, and underlying the whole forest of “nos” was: no doctrine to speak of.

Vietnam Sniper Study PB2004101628.pdf

Vietnam Sniper Study

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).