Category Archives: Scattered Shots

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.

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.


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  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.


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  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).


  • 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).


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):

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.


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).

Red Rifleman Vol 2: Ongoing Accuracy Testing of the AK47

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

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

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

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

Link to Part 1: AK Accuracy @

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

Let’s get started:

Accuracy Testing Round 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.2 MOA with 7 Dollar off the shelf Barnaul? I’ll take it.
Mexican Match Reloads were 6 MOA even with an optic. Not worth the trouble at this time to continue this method of reloading.

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

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

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

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

High Glass, Sore Neck:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Vietnam magazine sitting next to the Mexican Match loads.

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

Wrapping Up:

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


Street Robberies And You

Today’s  post is all copy/paste from a write up a fellow did on Arfcom some years ago.  It began a thread with a lot of discussion.  It is one of the best threads on  in the years I have spent  as a member of the website.     Several times over the years I have emailed and IM’ed the author  for purposes of reposting here and have never gotten a response either way.   With that in mind I am sure he would rather as many people as possible  read this and I will post a link to the thread.


By BurnedoutLEO

Lately in GD we have had two different board members find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun along with the GF of another ARFCOMMER in street robberies. Also Blitz308 got shot all to pieces last year.

While many say it is better to be lucky than good, no one is lucky every time. In this post I am going to attempt to provide some insight into street encounters. Other may have different viewpoints. I am not here to argue. I will say some of the comments I have seen posted in the threads about this sort of matter make me realize that while some ARFCOMMERS are clearly street veterans others are not. This is really for those who are not.


First, my info. I worked in the street of one of America’s most violent, dangerous cities for 15 years. I usually worked in the worst part of that city. I spent 15 years in patrol. I liked patrol. It was wild. Most of the time I worked in areas covered in ghetto. By that I mean large housing projects combined with run down slum housing. I have worked all shifts. Later I became an investigator including a robbery investigator. I have spent countless hours in interrogation rooms talking to hold up men. I know them. I am still an investigator but have quit playing the Robbery game because my family was starting to forget what I looked like.

The Enemy

Some may object to me calling hold up men “the enemy”. You can call them whatever you like. I can assure you however they are as deadly an enemy as you will find anywhere but the battlefield. Even many soldiers probably lack the viciousness and utter disregard for life most hold up men possess.

No one wakes up in the morning one day and decides to become an armed robber. It is a gradual process that requires some experience and desensitizing. Before a man will pick up a gun and threaten to kill people who have done him no harm in order to get their usually meager possessions he has to get comfortable with some things.

He has to get used to seeing others as objects for him to exploit. He has to accept he may be killed while robbing. He has to accept the felony conviction for Robbery will haunt him all his life. He has to accept he may need to kill a completely innocent person to get away with his crime.

This is a process that starts with stealing candy at the corner store as a child. It progresses through bigger property crimes that may also involve violence. But one day G gets tired of selling his stolen property for nothing and decides it would be better to steal cash. Cut out all that tiresome sales stuff.

Keep in mind many petty thieves, auto burglars, residential and commercial burglars, paper thieves, and hustlers will get to that point and decide not to become armed robbers. Most will. It is a special group of outliers who decide threatening to kill people for a few dollars is the way to go.

Once a man starts armed robbing he has crossed a line most won’t. Don’t forget that when you are looking these bastards in the eye. Their decision to kill you is already made. Your life means nothing to him. Only his does. His sole motivation for not killing you is he doesn’t want a murder case. He has already accepted he may pick one up though.

We hunt hold up men around the clock once they are identified. We send teams of fire breathing fence jumper/door kickers to find them. We will bring their mother to the office and convince her she is going to jail if we don’t have Junior in our office in an hour. We have her call her son crying hysterically for him to turn himself in before she is arrested and held without bond as a material witness and her home seized for harboring him. Most of the time they won’t. Fuck their own momma.

We will hit all Juniors friends and family’s houses. We make it so no one will harbor him. He is so hot no one will let him in their house or even talk on the phone with him. We put money on him so he knows he is right to be betrayed and set up. We do this because of one thing.

That thing is they WILL kill someone if they keep robbing. That is why the city is willing to pay all the overtime. They don’t want the murders. Think about that when you see Junior coming. The more robberies he does the closer he is to killing someone. Maybe you.

The guys who hit you on the street are gang members. They are Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Crips, Sureonos, many others. They do not see themselves as part of society. The street is all they know. They don’t expect to live long or stay out of prison. They take a delight in your fear and suffering. They are warped individuals for the most part. They can be extremely dangerous.

One time we were locking up a hold up man and having a conversation about how they target their victims. I was saying they pick easy ones, another guy was saying they preferred easy ones but would take anybody.

I pointed out a uniform Officer there was an NFL size guy to that hold up man. Frankly the dude was a monster. I asked hold up man if he would rob him. He said “If I needed the money”.


Chances are good you are a law abiding person except for maybe a little light weed smoking and maybe driving a little drunk every once in a while. Most of your life you have been taught to be nice and don’t point guns at people. You are the exact opposite of your enemy who was taught just the opposite. Remember a lot of street life is like prison life. Who’s the man is everything. Violence is the currency of the street.

You do not possess total disregard for the lives of others and do not want to kill anyone. You are concerned about the ramifications of shooting someone. Your family, your possessions and finances on the line. Your enemy has none of these concerns.

The laws that keep you from carrying your gun in bars or where ever mean nothing to your enemy. Your reluctance to shoot someone works to is advantage. His greater experience in street violence and the element of surprise is on his side.

Everyone should call their local FBI office and get a copy of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. When it first came out it was ground breaking because it demonstrated to academics and other elites what street police knew all along. What did it show in interviews with cop killers? Nice guys finish dead. That’s right. Most of those offenders commented that the Officer they killed set himself up to be killed because of reluctance to use force early in the encounter.

You can probably find it on line now. A lot of the victim Officers were a lot like a lot of other people, normal people. They were the opposite of their enemy.

Am I advocating becoming the enemy? No. I am saying the person who is robbing you has certain traits, attitudes, and background. That is all.

Dynamics of Encounters

Hold up men target victims on the street in an impulsive, opportunistic manner. They see someone and make a quick judgment call on whether to rob them. The time between when you are targeted and they are on you isn’t long. Therefore, situational awareness is everything.

If you see G coming you are in good shape. If you don’t you will be the victim who says “He came out of nowhere”. No he didn’t. There are many tricks to watching out but simply watching your back is the main thing. Watch your back. If you do it enough it becomes second nature and you won’t even realize you are doing it.

Watching out is great but unfortunately many self defense courses stop there. You have parked you car in a well lit area, are aware of your surroundings, and looky here, here comes three guys across the parking lot and they start to kind of fan out.

When you lock eyes with G the very first thing you need to do it indicate you have a weapon. It doesn’t matter if you do or not. If you are a woman put your gun hand in your purse and keep it there. If you are a man fan your shirt or coat tail with your gun hand. Make it clear to dude you are mentally prepared to draw and making sure your gun is clear. This will many times result in an about face by dude. It is the single best robbery avoidance tactic IMHO.

Not long ago I was walking down the sidewalk in my town to go get my car. I was holding a folding chair in my gun hand. A car slow rolled past me with 4 heads in it. The guys in the back seat turned around as they went by looking at me. They went a little farther and U turned in the street.

Here they come back. As they started to slow down I looked at them with as contemptuous a look as I could muster and switched the chair to my left hand and flicked my shirt tail with my right hand. They just drove on mad dogging me.

In another case I was at a Christmas party and walked a girl to her car about 3 am. As we said our good-byes two guys were walking across the parking lot. One went behind a dumpster. I though he was peeing. He came out from behind the dumpster with a bottle.

As they got closer I stepped clear of that girl and unzipped my jacket at those two guys. When I did the guy threw down the bottle and they walked by cussing at me. If someone challenges you after you indicate you are armed say “I don’t have a gun”. Then they will know you do.

Here is an opposite story. A girl my brother knows was walking her dog when a guy approached her. She was polite. Mistake. He talked to her about the dog and said she had pretty hair and reached out and touched her hair. She did not slap his hand down or aggressively object. Mistake. He asked her if her dog bit and she said “No”. At that time he slapped the shit out of her, drug her into a wooded area, and raped her.

The answer in the street is always “No”. Can I ask you something? No. Do you have a cigarette? No. Can you tell me what time it is? No. The answer is always “No”. Don’t be nice. Stop the encounter as soon as it starts.

When to draw

Despite warnings I often see on the Net I have yet to encounter an instance in which a hold up man called the police to report his intended victim threatened to shoot him. Thugs do not want to come into contact with the police. They may already be wanted or realize chances are good they have been identified in a recent robbery. Or what ever. They are not going to call the police if you draw on them.

Supposed two guys are approaching you in a parking lot and do the classic fan out maneuver. You indicate you have a weapon by clearing your gun hand and fanning your jacket at them. They are not discouraged. DRAW!

I am not saying you should pull your gun out, assume a Weaver stance, and scream “That’s close enough motherfuckers!” What I am saying is draw your gun and hold it beside your leg as you start to move to cover. I am very fond of telephone poles. Anything will do though. They will see this. They will remember they have to be somewhere else. They will not call the police.

Then you can just put your gun back in the holster and go back to whatever you were doing like nothing happened. Why? Because nothing did happen. A happening is when shots are fired.

Do not hesitate to draw. If you are somewhere you are supposed to be and someone appears who is not supposed to be there like a closed business show him the end of your gun. Could it be Mother Teresa looking for her lost cat behind your closed business? No it is some motherfucker up to no good. He won’t call the police to report he was prowling a location when a guy ran him off.

When to shoot

The time to shoot is immediately upon seeing his weapon. You are not a police man who has to try to arrest the guy. No need to scream at him. No exposure while you yell for him to drop the gun.

In deer hunting the experienced hunter takes the first good shot. May not be the perfect shot but it never is. Novices pass up a doable shot waiting for a better shot and then the deer is gone. Take the first good shot you are offered. Hopefully your alertness and hostile cues will prevent you ever having to fire. But once you see his weapon, shoot.

If a guy is coming at you with a gun in his hand shoot him. Shoot him right then. If you don’t shoot first you may not shoot at all. I have known more than one person who was shot and received life changing injuries and also shot their attacker. Their only regret was not shooting sooner. Like Bill Jordan said “Nothing disturbs your enemy’s aim like a slug delivered to the belt buckle area”.

Guns and weapons

The handgun is the best weapon you can carry easily. I understand it is not always possible to have one due to laws, restrictions, whatever. I am not telling anyone to disregard laws about carrying weapons. Each person has to decide for themselves what they are comfortable with. I will say there is no substitute for a pistol when you need one.

Also if you can not be trusted with a pistol after a few drinks you can’t be trusted with a pistol period. Booze is liquid bad judgment no doubt but it shouldn’t make you into a damn moron. If you are a moron sober I don’t know what to tell you.

Types of guns and ammo are always debated and probably always will be. I have seen people shot with all common calibers. My conclusion is if you hit someone between the collar bone and the tip of their ribs three times with anything, they are handled. Bigger is better but something is better than nothing. Get your front sight on his shirt and stay on him as long as he is standing with whatever gun you have.

Just have a gun with sure fire ammo. Draw early and fire immediately upon seeing his weapon. That course of action is about all you can do to up your odds of ending things favorably. Guns like the Ruger LC9, SIG 239, Glock 26/27 are examples of guns small enough to carry but with enough power and capacity to be useful. Do not be afraid to use a French Lebelle if that is the only gun you have. A gun is a gun. I like a Glock 19.


We all want the best training. It can be expensive if you are having to pay for it and it can be hard to find the time to do it. There is a whole lot of BS out there. What can you do? First, pistol handling is not rocket surgery. If you will learn the basics and practice on your own you can be fine. Smooth draw, quick pairs, reload. If you know those things well you can be OK.

I know a young man who shot down two hold up men in 2010 at very close range while he and his GF were walking home from the store. He in Wyatt Earp like fashion ignored the fire coming from the gunman and killed him and wounded his accomplice. He nor his GF were injured. He like many was willing to give them the money until he picked up on nonverbal cues that because of his GF they were not quite satisfied with the money. He had a Glock 27.

He had only the most basic of training in gun handling but did do some draws and some dry fire a couple times a week and live fired maybe once a month. That basic skill combined with knowing what to do was enough. He shot at the first possible moment despite having let the guys get the drop on them. When the gunman turned his head because a car drove by that was the opening. A split second is a long time sometimes.

Work on some one hand shooting at close range. That is a skill not as popular as it once was and you want to use two hands when you can. Often you can find yourself doing something with your off hand though so be able to shoot with one hand out to 5 yards or so.


If it comes to pass you are forced to shoot someone do not feel bad. When the police come just tell them a guy threatened you with deadly force and you were forced to fire. I know there are bad police out there in some parts of the country who don’t support self defense. I can’t help you with that.

Do not talk to them until you have your attorney present. Now most young guys don’t have an attorney on retainer and you may have no idea who to call. That is OK. You will figure it out but in the mean time don’t talk about what happened other than to say you were forced to fire. You don’t have to be an asshole just remember wait for your attorney.

Hopefully you will not give a statement for a couple days. Remember if you are put in jail that doesn’t mean you are charged. Most places can hold you 48 or 72 hours on a felony before charging you or letting you go. Breath deep and get an attorney.

Expect to never get your gun back. You may get it back one day but maybe not. Do not buy expensive guns for the street. Buy yourself a nice sporting gun if you want a nice gun. Keep your street guns basic. The factory Model 10 Smith and the GI 45 have done a lot of work over the years and aren’t fancy.


We all live in different worlds. My world is filled with felons and gang members. Violence is common place. No one would be surprised if one of their friends called and said they shot a hold up man at a place of business or parking lot. In the past when I made calls the fact that the guy who is beating his GF is also on parole for 2nd degree murder flavored my world.

You may live in a smaller, less violent place where shootings seldom occur and it would be a rare to shoot a hold up man. I envy you and will be moving to a place like your town as soon as I can.

But be advised no matter where you are a hold man is going to be about the same. Whether he is a home boy or a guy who just exited the interstate into your town and needs some quick money. He is going to have a vicious streak and no regard for your life. Treat him like he treats you.

Giving them the money, doing what they say, all that may work but there is no guarantee. If you have never read Jeff Cooper’s book The Principles of Personal Defense I suggest you order a copy immediately. It is a short book but summarizes a lot of important things.

Last year we had a trial here regarding an armed robbery that occurred. Three or four guys took a young couple from a parking garage near a college out by some railroad tracks where they raped, shot, and beat them. Their lives will never be the same.

The lesser thugs all turned on the trigger man at trial. The trigger man’s statement in the paper was after all that had happened he felt like he was a victim. Think about that. That is the mindset you are up against.
In addition to the original post some other active police members added some  further thoughts. These from John_wayne777.

You can’t understand the way they think because they aren’t human. I say that with every ounce of sincerity I can muster. They are not human. They are best thought of as an alien species. They do not share or appreciate anything approaching a value system you or I would recognize. Their formative years were spent in an environment that was utterly alien to anything you or I ever lived in. As an example, yesterday I attended a lecture by William Aprill that dealt with what he termed “Violent Criminal Actors”, essentially the people who would be classified as sociopaths. He told the story of a 15 year old boy who got in a fight on a basketball court and lost. When the boy’s mother found out that he lost, she handed him a pistol and told him “WE don’t go out like that!”…and the boy returned to the basketball court and killed the other kid that beat him up. When Aprill did social work he would often stop and take a look at a neighborhood before a visit to a home. On one visit he was in an urban area and he noticed a group of young kids (8-10 years old) that were playing on a basketball court that didn’t have any hoops or backboards. The game they were playing involved grabbing one kid by the scruff of the neck, forcing him to his knees, then making the finger gun to the back of his head and mocking blowing his brains out execution style. After each repetition of this game the kids laughed hysterically and did it again.

Would your mother hand you a gun and direct you to go kill someone? When you were running around in your Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn years were you basically rehearsing street executions? I’m going to guess the answer to that is a big “No.”

That’s why you don’t understand criminals…because you’re thinking of them as human. Think of them as an alien species that just happens to be vulnerable to gunfire. They don’t think like you. They’ll become highly insulted if you don’t instantly cooperate in a robbery and feel that they are perfectly justified in killing you because…and I am not making this up…you’re the one who fucked up. They were minding their own business pulling off a perfectly routine robbery and you fucked it all up by not doing what you were told. That means it’s your fault, and you’re the one who was evil. Sociopaths consider themselves to be a breed apart from the rest of humanity. The rest of the people on this planet are nothing more than livestock to them. They have no more appreciation for human life than we have for the life of a bug when we stomp on it. In fact, they actually enjoy victimizing other people. They’ve done surveys of these guys and asked them about motivations for committing crimes and the answers range from giving them a sensation of power to actually giving them a feeling of accomplishment. You know how you felt when you graduated high-school or when you managed to get a raise? That’s how these guys feel when they cave somebody’s head in with a shovel.

From Blitz308’s AAR thread….which everybody should read…:

“Most violent criminals have been predators for a long time. They’ve actually developed a fairly sophisticated sense for what prey acts like and the characteristics of people who have fangs. They can also pick up on subtle body language cues that others might miss…like members of a small group of people all looking at one guy signaling unconsciously that he’s most likely the guy with a plan. A bad guy can be sophisticated enough to pick that up. In fact, it’s something that retired police officers or off-duty cops can encounter as people who know them can look to them in a bad situation betraying their badge.

Some bad guys react to that by fleeing. Some react to that by getting violent. You never know which you’ve got in front of you ahead of time.

Bad guys test and prod with all sorts of schemes and behaviors they’ve picked up from observation or from their criminal brethren whom they often team up with for the purposes of victimizing people. (Like the scumbag who shot Blitz did with that fat slag) To believe they are all mindless idiots who have no skill or sophistication is foolhardy. Nearly every violent criminal is or has been at one point a con man in another criminal endeavor…playing people’s emotions like a fiddle. Witness the number of bad guys who turn from attempted murder into blubbering beggar if the tables get turned. It’s not remorse…it’s a strategy designed to work on people who have a functional conscience like most of their prey has. They seared their conscience long ago.

The incident with the girl who was raped by the bad guy who touched her hair is a perfect example of that. He used a ruse to close distance (the ruse is a common tactic of street thugs), crossed boundaries to see what her reaction could be…all sizing her up for assault. He saw the girl and in that moment decided he’d see if he could rape her. That’s how opportunistic these motherfuckers are. Don’t be nice or polite to people who look like thugs. Don’t be nice or polite to people who come at you while you’re all alone.

Example: There is a fellow out there by the name of William Aprill who has spent his adult life studying criminals as a psychologist. In one of his lectures I attended, he related that criminals have been surveyed on various things including why they commit violent crimes. One of the top responses for why they commit a violent act was a “feeling of accomplishment.”

Now that’s abstract, so let me anchor it in reality: Stop for a moment and think about how you felt when you graduated high school…or graduated college…or got that promotion…or bought your first house…or finished that difficult project. Something difficult that took you time and effort and that challenged your abilities, the completion of which signaled to you achievement of a goal or attainment of a status you’d been hoping for over an extended period of time. Do you have that feeling in mind? Good.

That’s how a bad guy feels when he bashes somebody’s skull in with a fucking shovel.”


Voiding warranties and breaking Glock parts

Previously I wrote about my new Surefire light.  I didn’t like the sharp crenelation on the bezel so I threw it in a lathe and turned them off.  I really like how it turned out.

Pretty sure I voided my warranty doing that, but very worth it.


Recently I had someone ask me if I had a spare Glock 19 locking block.  Of course I did.  Turns out that they had a broken locking block in their Gen 3 G19.

The owner of that Glock has realized that their trigger pin had broken.  They continued to use the pistol with the broken trigger pin for at least several thousand rounds.  When they were going to replace the broken pin, they found that the 3rd pin had bent and the locking block was broken.  The pistol functioned fine during this time.

My guess is that the broken trigger pin allowed the locking block to flex a little until it failed.  The pins and locking block were replaced and the pistol is back in action.

On that note, when reassembling a 3rd gen Glock, the slide stop goes in after the third (top) pin.  The trigger pin is the last pin installed.  Failing to do so can leave the slide stop spring in the wrong place causing it to not function or to prematurely lock the slide open.

Engagement in BaQubah, Iraq Nov, 14, 2004

Today we have a  guest post from  friend of the website  Max  writing about his experience in Iraq.

Engagement in BaQubah, Iraq

Nov, 14, 2004


We were rabbits.  That was our job.  Every morning we would travel the MSR (Main Supply Routes) and try and get AIF (Anti Iraqi Forces) to detonate IEDs on our HMMWV convoy.  If they waste their munitions on us in the morning, then the supply trucks had a better chance to make it to their destinations.  Plus, if they engaged us, we were prepared for engagement with a QRF Bradley platoon at the ready if we need them.

Our Lieutenant was new to our platoon.  He was a finance officer just transferred in from Kirkuk so he can get the ever coveted ‘combat experience’ that can really make or break an officer’s career.

We had been in country for 10 months and today was the final day of Ramadan.  Earlier that morning we had already had an engagement.  A few IEDs exploded as we travelled down a highway that I can’t recall the arbitrary name we assigned to it.  One of our vehicles had taken a bit of damage to a tire, but we closed the distance and engaged the enemy.  Which meant we had to wait around for another platoon to take the wounded enemy fighters to FOB Warhorse.  After releasing the wounded people that were only minutes earlier trying to kill us we receive a radio call notifying us that someone had called in to the hotline saying that a large group of men were carrying RPGs and AK-47s.


This is a call we received often.  Occasionally, you would engage the enemy, but most of the time you just drove around looking and finding nothing.  With one vehicle down (we dropped the damaged vehicle off at the Iraqi Police station to repair the damage to the tire) we took three vehicles and headed to the location given to us.


This time was different.  As soon as we rounded the corner the women in their black robes all started running.  I was in the gunner’s hatch manning the 240b.  I lightly tapped the Lieutenant with my foot and told him, “Here it comes, sir!”


The only thing I heard him say was “Here comes what?”.  After that I gazed down the street and identified an individual turning around and lifting an RPG.  He fired the weapon and I could hear the RPG round skip across the pavement.  The rocket propelled grenade skipped under all three of our vehicles, finally popping up behind us before detonating.  Being in the lead vehicle, I spun the 240b around and began firing controlled bursts of 3-5 rounds at the individual that fired the RPG.  He dropped quickly.

This is the moment when time started to slow down.  As the driver hammered the gas and we began to pick up speed I started looking down the alleys.  They were all full of cars with the trunks open.  I could see the RPG launchers, RPG rounds, RPKs, and AK-47s spilling forth from the open trunks of the standard orange fender taxi cabs that are all over Iraq.  These guys meant business.

It was our luck that we came up from behind the ambush that was being prepared.  Another individual with an AK-47 raced across the street.  I fired and missed.  Out of ammunition.  I scream for the AG to feed me more ammunition for the 240b as the vehicle slides around the corner.  We are face to face with a guy holding an AK-47.  His face covered by the red and white checkered head scarves typical of the area.  His AK-47 was jammed.  He was slamming the charging handle back and forth trying to clear the jam.  I called for ammunition once again.  Still nothing.  I scream at the driver, “Hit this motherfucker!”  Hit him we did.  The vehicle lurched forward toward the man before us.  I remember his eyes were green, and I thought that was a bit odd for an Iraqi.  I could see his eyes clearly because they widened to the size of saucers when he realized that we were just going to run him down with the vehicle.  The driver slammed directly into the man before us, sending him and the HMMWV through a wall.  The driver backed up, and ran him down again.

Finally fed the ammunition I desperately needed, I reloaded the 240b and the HMMWV was maneuvered around back to the original road we traveled down.  We arrived at the first intersection and stopped, all three trucks taking defensive positions and we quickly set up a 360-degree security.

Another individual wearing what was lovingly referred to as a ‘man dress’ popped around the corner and fired his AK-47 directly at me.  Honestly, I have no idea how he missed me, he was only about 25 meters away from our position.  I didn’t waste any time pulling the trigger and dropping him, dumping a few extra bursts into the body to ensure the threat was removed.

At this time my squad leader called for me to exit the vehicle, and the AG and myself switched places.  I handed two cans of ammunition to the AG in the gunner’s hatch and headed over to my squad leader.  I was the grenadier of the squad, which meant I had the m203 attached to my M-16 (yes, we still used the long musket M-16s at this time).  I was instructed to destroy the vehicles in the alley before us with HE 40mm grenades.

This was where I made my mistake.  My first shot landed directly in the trunk.  No detonation.  We were too close.  A 40mm grenade must travel about 50 meters before it would arm the round to explode.  So, I backed up, fired again.  Still to close.  This round bounced off the wall, off the car, and down the street (unknowingly, the round landed and exploded at the feet of a couple of AIF members severely injuring them.

Also, unknowingly, I had positioned myself directly in the intersection.  I had zero cover.  It was at this moment when I felt the impact to my chest.  The best way I can describe it is this:  take a 6’7” 320lb professional baseball pinch hitter and let him swing full force into your chest.  One moment I was kneeling in the intersection and the next I was laying on my back, bleeding from my neck.  The next thing I knew, I was being dragged behind a wall by my own personal lord and savior, SPC Grive (thanks, man… you really save my ass).  The medic looked at my neck and said I had bullet fragments and plate fragments in my neck.  Honestly, I couldn’t feel any pain, but I could see the blood that covered my IBA and the hole that was now in my IBA.

I quickly got my head back in the game and ran back to my HMMWV to meet up with the driver who was outside the door of the HMMWV engaging the enemy across the street.

“Phil, I don’t want to be here anymore.” I said louder than I wanted to.

“I don’t want to be here anymore, either man.” SPC Philips said.

We now began to engage the enemy with as much firepower as we could.  Everything was so hectic I didn’t even hear the Bradley’s roll up directly behind us.  SPC Philips and myself dropped back a bit and let the Bradley through.  The Bradley placed itself between the HMMWV and the enemy.  Giving us perfect cover.

As the Bradley’s fired, we began to check our magazines, grabbing a few out of the HMMWV to refill the ones that were empty.  It was at this time that the mortars started to fall.  They had already set up a mortar team to engage us – because they knew exactly what we would do.  Stop and make a 360-degree circle to defend.  Worse yet, they were perfectly aimed to air burst above us.  One of the mortars exploded and my left leg felt like it was on fire.  A piece of shrapnel had pierced my calf and sank itself deep.  I fell to the pavement.  SPC Philips pulled my Israeli bandage from my cargo pocket and wrapped my leg up at the point of entry and called for the medic.

The medic didn’t arrive.  He was engaged, so I drug myself across the ground and began to fire from behind the Bradley.  Honestly, at this point I was only firing randomly down the alleyway towards the sound of incoming fire.  I cannot say exactly how long we were engaged by the enemy, but after the Bradley’s arrived, the enemy all quickly exfiltrated.

For the next four hours we kicked in doors and questioned the people that lived in the area.  I turned out that the mosque right across the street had been allowing jihadis to store weapons inside of it.  Not only that, but the jihadis had been recruiting locals to attack us.  We discovered this from one of the women in a rather large house.  She told me that her son was one of the people that had agreed to take up arms against us for the ambush.  I remember telling her, “Lady, your son is probably dead.”  Her response?

“Good.  Kill them all.”

More Belt Fed: A Reader Shares His H&K23e

After the last post with videos of me  firing the H&K21   GPMG,  a readers has checked in adding some detail and sending some video of his 5.56mm HK.  After mentioning how I would like to try one in 5.56mm we get the next best thing.

Will,  one of the readers that found us through the Hognose at, (RIP) joined the tet-a-tet in the comment sections and shared some video of his gun in action.

Will’s gun is obviously a newer model configured to be infinitely more useful in a fight in modern times.  You can see the control ability and recoil  from the 556 variant and compare to the videos I posted earlier.


I wanted to edit in to add some  words from Will about the gun  above.

“Shawn, thanks for posting this. Some details on the gun: it’s a Michaels Machines MM23E, which is not quite a true E spec gun.

Most notably, it uses a hybrid barrel that has the E extractor cutout but also the non-E safety mechanism. Both the HK21 and HK21E include a safety mechanism to prevent the gun from firing while the barrel is not locked into the receiver. On the HK21 a small pin sticks out of the rear of the barrel and interfaces with a matching indentation on the bolt face. If the barrel is unlocked, the pin prevents the bolt from going into battery.

On an E gun, a pin sticks out the side of the barrel opposite the barrel handle. When the barrel is unlocked, this pin prevents the charging handle from releasing.

You can use German E barrels on a MM21E or MM23E, but you have to remove the safety pin, which is a little scary. If you fire the gun while the barrel is not locked, it will fly down range and the barrel handle will tear off the front half of the receiver cage as it goes.

Like a real E, you can convert it to 7.62×51 by swapping the bolt, barrel, and feed mechanism, which can be done in a minute or two. German feed mechanisms work fine with the MM guns, supposedly. The bolt group is different, however, since it has a slot and ramp cut into it to actuate the trip lever for transferable sear packs. A real German 21/23E uses a one piece sear/trip lever, and isn’t compatible with a transferable sear.

As for Michaels Machines, owned by Mike Otte, I had a terrible experience, and am still having the occasional issue. They are very expensive guns with long lead times, but mine did not work well out of the box, had a multitude of finish and function issues like a canted front sight that was so far off to the side that I couldn’t get it on paper, and a botched job on my sear install in a 4 position burst pack. My feed mechanism is currently back with Otte since some of the parts are warping or wearing at an unusually high rate and causing jams, almost like the heat treat wasn’t quite right.

If I were to do it all over I’d let TSC build the gun out of a German 21E parts kit and HK91, which would cost twice as much but be as close to the real thing as possible, and undoubtedly work well.

Here’s a picture of the whole gun: 


I always take flak for changing to an AR style stock, but with the riser it gives the correct cheek weld with the optic, and also shortens up the length of pull to a more manageable distance, which brings the center of gravity rearwards to aid with offhand shooting”


H&K 21 General Purpose Machine Gun

Over the weekend   we were able to shoot the HK21 purchased by my friend, a Class 3 dealer.  The HK21 is  a belt fed  light machine-gun based off the G3 rifle made by H&K firing 7.62mm NATO.  It’s been around since 1961 and has seen considerable use in various world armed forces.  One stand out reported use was by US Army Delta Force.  In the past I have even seen pictures of it being fired in Iraq by US Forces at a firing range.

Having fired the full auto G3 several time over the last few years I was a little surprised by just how rough the 21 was.  It has considerable recoil.  While heavier than the G3, the cyclic rate much higher and it is a brute.

I was able to get some hurried video when firing the gun the first day. You can watch below.


on the video below you can see the cross pin that holds the gopro camera in the head mount was vibrated out by the recoil of the gun

Last video.  I did try to stand up and hold the gun with one hand  i.e. Rambo but sad to say the belt kinked on me and it didn’t make for a very compelling video.  Next time I will try with a shorter belt.

Sad to say I did not have time for any kind of accuracy test.  I will have to think up some method to test out its “accuracy” while fired in busts and  semi auto in the future.  I think I still have some of the US Army reduced range machine gun targets.

The gun is a fun. I doubt you needed to be told that though.   It is rough however and there is technique to firing it prone so as not to ruin your shoulder and give yourself a headache.     As a GPMG the gun does have a quick change barrel that i forgot to video a demonstration of.   In coming weeks I will try to attempt a longer instructional video on the weapon for anyone interested.  Comment below if you want to see something like that.  I personally always  worry that videos like that appear as “showing off”  or a “look what I get to play with and you  never will” kind of things.   I wish everyone could own and use MGs etc as a normal part of gun ownership. For those that can’t I  hope maybe to at least  answer questions about it and not  play it up as the ULTIMATE!! experience.

A  class 3  M60 and a STG 44 will be arriving in the next few months and I will do my best to get more entertaining videos of those for everyone.

First Impressions – Surefire E2D Defender Ultra LED

There is a running joke between myself and a couple of friends of mine about how when you get a new flashlight, in the first few minutes of using it you end up shining it into your eyes to see how bright it is and end up regretting it.  I had this mind when I first got this light out of the package.  So I start turning it on and walking around my home to see how much it can light  up a room.  And, oh boy, it can light up a room.  Then with in the first few minutes of using the light, I manage to sweep it across a mirror right into my eyes.

I’d been looking for a new flash light to replace my old E2D Executive Defender.  I had really wanted a single cell smaller light similar to the Novatac lights I had.  I ended up picking up a new 600 lumen version of the E2D because it was on sale.  My old E2D had a KL4 head that had an output of about 100 lumens.  The first biggest difference between the new light and the older one is a massive difference in brightness.  There is just no comparing the tremendous increase in light output.

The new light on top, and my trusty old E2D on the bottom.  The newer model is a little longer.

When I saw the new pocket clip on the new light, I was pretty excited.  It has a double bend in it so you can use either side of the clip.  Unfortunately I found that this new clip has very little spring tension, and if you use it with the light end up the outside section then catches on your pocket or items in your pocket.  I ended up putting the new head on the old flash light body due to how lousy this new clip is.

Much to my dismay I found Surefire returned to the aggressive crenelations they used to use.  While I do suppose you could use these in a fight, I find they are best at cutting holes in your pockets.  I am probably going to blunt these with a file so I don’t end up having to replace all my pants.

The biggest thing is that the new light has a high 600 lumen mode, and a low 5 lumen mode.  I would really like that, except that it alternates between them.  Using this light for a week, I found that every time I went to use it, it would start on the wrong brightest.  (While it should be a 50% chance to be right, I managed to have be 100% all the time)  Every time I tried to use it in the middle of the night it started on 600 lumens, each time I tried to use it to check out machinery during the day, it would start on 5.  So it becomes an annoyance to have to toggle EVERY time I go to use it to get it into the right brightness mode.

Now if you liked to strobe a flashlight an an attempt to blind and disorientate a target, you will find this light completely useless for that.  Due to the alternating brightness setting, every other flash is far from blinding and then sometimes it will stay on the 5 lumen brightness as you attempt to strobe.

Had I paid full price for this new Surefire light I would have been rather disappointed.  But for a discounted unit, I can make it work for me.  I wouldn’t recommend it for “tactical” use due to the nature of the dual output function, but it will make for a handy every day carry utility light.