5.56 Timeline

OPTIC OF THE WEEK : Leupold VX-II 6x-18x

This scope has been one of my favorites for a long time. The Vari-X II then as the VX-II, have been general purpose target optics of mine for at least 20 years. The 6x-18x being the one I found to be the most useful.

The VXII has the 40mm objective lens that is adjustable for range/focus/parallax. It has the inside threading to accept a sunshade which as you can see, I have installed.

The windage and elevation adjustments are in 1/4 MOA clicks and comes standard with a thinner turret and caps the screw on over them.

I have replaced them with the over sized turrets that are not covered so that Ic an quickly adjust them without having to remove cap. Very handy when making adjustments when hunting crow. The turrets have three small set screw that can be loosened to allow the turret to be reset at 0 when. One full revolution of the turret is 60 clicks of 1/4″ per. 144 clicks up will give a 1,000 yard zero from a .308 using 175gr Federal gold medal Match from a 100 yard zero.

The power ring is small with a slightly larger bump for adjusting power. It’s not big by modern standards and I am sure many would complain. But this is not a tactical optic. Of course the power goes from 6x-18x naturally.

I was not able to get a satisfactory picture of the reticle. The optic uses a plain duplex cross hair with fine main crosshairs. Like every Leupold, the glass is very clear and sharp. eye relief is generous and not picky at all. I have used these model optics for most of my long range shooting career before moving to NF and more specialized tactical leupolds. Even so I have spent more time behind one of these on live game since I have been using the VX and vari-x models for over 20 years.

And because I know you will ask. The Optic is currently mounted to my Pre-64 Winchester model 70 heavy varmint. Gun is chambered in .243 WCF with heavy target barrel.

Game OF Snipers : Review

Ever since reading Point of Impact I have been a big fan of Stephen Hunter’s books. In that book we are introduced to Hunter’s protagonist, Bob Lee Swagger. Bob is also known by his nick name
“Bob The Nailer “, a name picked up in the Vietnam war as a USMC sniper. Bob, as you can guess is basically Carlos Hathcock if Carlos was crossbred with an American James Bond who was born in Arkansas and never bothered being a smooth and refined as Bond. Bob is also a bit of a low key genius with leaps of logic and deduction that would make Sherlock proud. And of course Bob has killed more people than cancer. Hell, he even solved the JFK assassination in recent years.

None of what I said is meant to indicate there is no action in the books. They are full of shooting and technical gun and shooting details. Hunter is a shooter himself and he clearly loves guns. Not just the shooting but also the technical details and minutia. Sometimes he goes into to so much detail it amazes me that the average non-shooting readers continue to read these.

The new book as Bob helping the FBI track down “Juba the Sniper” who is after a target in the US. Juba has to make a shot at over 1 mile and we get to read about his prep work and equipment ( AWM .338 Lapua Magnum) and all his wily tricks to avoid and mislead the people hunting him. That name is probably familiar to you because there was a sniper called Juba in Iraq during the late unpleasantness. That’s another thing about Hunter’s books. They weave in real world people. Gun world celebrities, politicians, military people etc. Sometimes they are the same name exactly, other times he changes the name a little for whatever reasons. for instance Carlos is a character up until ISniper, But his name is Carl Hitchcock.

Anyway. Bob ends up helping the FBI on a manhunt to capture of kill Juba before his shot. Its a twisting complex chase full of near misses, violence, gun world minutia and last second climax. It’s like most of Hunter’s books. A lot of fun Bob is always great even now at 73 years old. Which is making it a little hard to believe Bob can pull of the things he does. Though now Bob is less action hero and more of a brilliant detective.

A lot of Bob’s usual pals and supporting cast shows up in the book. His old FBI pal Nick Memphis of course, since it involves the FBI mainly, and Nick’s FBI co-workers and friends. If you saw the godawful movie Shooter, with Marky Mark you will recognize the name.

The FBI and its personnel and how they ( supposedly) work is a major part of the book. Which brings me to my gripe. The book often feels and reads like pure propaganda for the FBI in long stretches. Hunter wants us to regain our faith in the country’s supposed top cops ( TOP. MEN.). Yeah, it’s pretty heavy handed. We are told they are the utmost professionals at the upper levels. with no politics, just a drive to get the job done while impressing us with how great they are. It’s laid on pretty thick and clearly Hunter has some pals in the FBI. Past books have always show and admiration for the FBI and much disdain for the CIA but this time it feels like the book really was crafted around the idea of redeeming them in the eyes of the people who would read the books.

Now I could be 100 percent wrong. Hunter ha always had an obvious admiration for the G-men. His last book features the depression era Gmen as the main focus, with Bob’s Grandfather being the main character natch. But there are some passages near the climax of the book that makes me think he wanted to try to remind us that the top men are out there saving us. Maybe I’m too cynical these days so take all that with a grain of salt. it doesn’t detract from the book, but you may notice it.

If you like Stephen Hunter and Bob Lee Swagger, you will like this one.

The Dedicated .22 Long Rifle AR15

A few weeks ago I talked about the conversion kits for Ar15s. Using the .22LR rimfire round in your AR by swapping out bolts and magazines is thought of as a cheap way to shoot your gun more. Some of them work fine, some great but few give you much accuracy since you are firing the bullet in a barrel with a twist rate that is always going to be much faster than it needs.

Several years ago S&W came out with their answer to this. An AR15 that is a dedicated platform for the 22. The MP22. Duncan already reviewed one and talked about it a few years ago and you can find that on the site already so I will skip all that.

I wanted to compare the accuracy of the MP to the MK261 and the Colt conversion unit. To do this I cheated a little and put a leupold 10x scope on the gun and used Howard’s new piece of kit for shooting off bags. As you can see the MP22 is nearly a dead ringer for a regular AR.

same fire controls and even comes apart the same way

So you can train with it using rimfire without having to use something that feels “off” compared to your AR and without using the iffy conversion kits. So how does it shoot though? Pretty good.

Above are three 10 shot groups at 50 yards. I used federal bulk pack, some Remington bulk crap and some Winchester. It shoots pretty good. This from a bench rest and with 10X of course.

I’m not sold on the idea of using the 22 conversion or AR for training. Yes the gun feels the same with it’s controls but you don’t cope with 556 recoil. or muzzle blast or trajectory or really anything you cope with when firing the 556 or 762 or 300 blk out or whatever it is you like to use. You get some practice with fundamentals but that is really it. The gun doesn’t even weigh as much as a 556 gun. I always found this claim of cheaper training highly dubious. To me, its just a fun plinker or for shooting at birds and chipmunks or something for starting out a kid. But thats just like, my opinion man.

The gun is priced very attractive. That always helps . And it has been ultra reliable. Magazines can be had in different capacities though I can only never find the smaller ones in stock anywhere. It will also accept anything that will mount to a picatinny rail so you can go insane with mounting things to the gun that costs more than the gun if you are so inclined.

In summary, I do think it is a better option than the conversion kit bolts.

Optic of the Week: CSAT Folding Rear Sight

I think we are in the end of the age of iron sights. Not that they are going to suddenly go away, but more and more individuals and groups will feed no need or desire to use them in place of optics.

My dad bought a CSAT folding rear sight, and told me it didn’t work well for him. I was surprised he bought it since I was sure he perfectly happy with the ACOG/Mini Red Dot combo. I had a CSAT aperture years ago, and I liked the idea of it, but decided I’d rather put the money towards something else.

The CSAT sight was designed by Paul Howe and the intent is to have a peep sight for use at 100 yards, and a notch above for 0-7 yards.

I can’t find when I purchased the CSAT aperture I had. I think it was installed in a LMT rear sight. I did find an old note from 2009 saying that I wanted to get one, so it must have been after that. I remember shooting with it, then decided I liked the Knights Armament 2-600m rear sight better.

I didn’t know that XS Sights now makes a their own flip up rear sight. The design is similar to the Troy flip up sights, but it doesn’t look or feel as refined. It locks in the up position, and you need to press the button on the left side to lower it. The windage is easily adjustable with the knob on the right side.

I went ahead and threw the sight on one of my uppers, and gave it a try.

My dad said that when he would look though the CSAT sight, the thin bit of material between the peep and the notch would appear to disappear and it would become a giant U notch. I didn’t remember having this happen before when I had a CSAT aperture, but sure enough when I tried aiming at a wall in my home it happened to me every time.

Good in theory, but the aperture ring ghosts out & can’t be seen. It leaves you w/ a giant deep U sight picture. Not worth the cost.

Review from Midway USA.

Indoors, nose to the charging handle, this happened to me 100% of the time. If I backed my head away from the sight it became usable. Outdoors in sunlight I rarely had this issue. But it happened enough that I would never buy this sight.

The XS CSAT aperture is like an A2 aperture, but same plane. So there is a large opening and a peep that share the same zero. On this flip up sight, when you flip it up it will have the large aperture up.

If you want to use the CSAT aperture, you have to flip up the rear sight, then flip the aperture. That doesn’t make sense to me. They should have had it default to the peep+notch.

It has probably been nearly a decade since the last time I used the CSAT sight. I was dismayed to find that the notch felt HUGE. I wasn’t centering the front sight post in the notch, I was centering the entire front sight. That felt slow to me.

I had remember the CSAT as being a good sight that wasn’t for me. Using it now I thought it felt terrible. Like the notch had been made to large and interfered with the use of the peep.

When I was going to test this, I thought I would do a rough and hasty 300m zero, by zeroing a half inch low at 25 yards. Then I was going to shoot at 7 yards. I was shooting a couple of rifles, and in my haste I fired on a target I had already used. I had a really hard time trying to shoot that 3 shot group for zeroing. I couldn’t get focused on the front sight and the 3/4 inch red dot I was aiming at disappeared. The group I shot was awful.

3 shots fired with an Aimpoint PRO, note they are close together. The 3 shots with the CSAT peep were about a 2 inch group at 25 yards.

Now, normally I would say that I was shooting poorly. But I had just fired this other group with the same ammo, same distance, out of the same type of barrel using a KAC 2-600m rear sight.

3 shots, M855, 25 yards, using a 6945 and a KAC 2-600m rear sight.

The groups were shot about 5 minutes apart from each other. Shooting with the KAC sight felt easy, I was really struggling with the CSAT sight peep. After seeing how bad the group was, I made no adjustments. So I decided I wasn’t going to try and fine zero, I would instead try some faster shooting up close.

I set up up more of these dots at about 7 yards. (Thank again to the nice guy who gave me oh too very many of these red targets after he had a ton of them made for himself.)

To show the purpose of the notch, I fired some fast shots using the peep aperture of the CSAT.

Aiming directly at the red dot, I fired 5 shots of M855. You can see how the point of impact is much lower than the point of aim. The idea of the CSAT notch is so in close range situations when you need to make a precision shot, you can.

The value of the notch is being able to aim right as what you want to hit up close.

I had a handful of wolf ammo laying around, that I wanted to use up so I used it for this group. Maybe 12 or so rounds. I should have paid closer attention. The target was engaged with single shots at a moderately fast speed. Lowering the weapon between each shot. I felt really slow, as it seemed liked the whole front sight base was visible in the that notch and and I had to find the front sight post in there and line it up with the top the rear sight notch and center everything.

That would be a training and familiarity issue. More practice with the sight would lead to faster target acquisition.

If you had asked me about the CSAT aperture before last week, I would have told you it is a nice product, but something unneeded, and that something like an Aimpoint would be a far better choice on a modern fighting rifle. I wonder if they changed the design since then.

Now, having used the CSAT sight again on XS folding sight; I feel like XS flip up sight body is ok, but crude compared to others. The CSAT aperture felt terrible in use for me. I would rather use a standard A2 or detachable carry handle over it. I think I would rather use just about anything else over it.

Shooting The Type 99 rifle Arisaka

Was there ever a rifleman with a soul so dead he didn’t wonder to himself ” what would a Type 99 be like”? I’ve always had a mild fascination with the Type 99 since reading about how incredibly strong the action is in P.O. Ackley’s books. That and the Japanese idea of what a service rifle,machine gun and, well, everything , should be and it really made me curious. I did not hear anything good about them from vets as a kid. But even then I knew Japanese made some pretty high quality stuff when they wanted to.

I finally got one I trusted to shoot without being so pristine that I would consider it a collectors item several years ago and have no regretted it. Of course it helps that I was ready and willing to like it before hand. Which always helps doesn’t it?

I’m not going into a history lesson with it today because I am way too lazy for that today and really the meat of this is to show you how it shoots. “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” I will say for those who do not know, that is not a cracked or repaired stock. That is standard. It was produced that way to make the stock stronger.

The chromed bore is in excellent shape Which is why I bought this one after passing on dozens

Ammo for the 7.7×58 is as rare as hens teeth. But you can make your own. Being an experience handloaded, I not only loaded the ammo but formed my own cases. I am not going to tell you my load or any real details on that to avoid potential lawsuits unless you all agree to sign a waiver. I did use the Sierra 174 match king .311 bullet and their 150gr spitzer soft point. Two bullets that have done great for me in .303 british loads.

bullet weight and yardage marked by each group

I shot the rifle prone with sandbags. Iron sighted of course. You can see the group and the bullet weight and yardage by each group. The trigger on the Type 99 is heavy but very crisp. The iron sights are very workable for me. The rear has a large peep for closer range, rapid, night shooting and a smaller peep for more long range shooting. The rear sight uses the typical range ladder for the day and has/had a rather involved anti aircraft fold down feature. The two side folding leading portions are missing on mine ( no great loss). I’m sure they could work in theory..

I couldn’t get the camera to focus on the front sight. I admit I love the front sight. Its a triangle shape and has a very pointed top and this works so good for my eyes that I kinda wish all my iron front sights could be like this.

174gr HPBT Sierra 350 yards

The top target was shot at 350 yards. I was going to do 500 yards but the closer range groups made me balk. I made a call that the gun might not hold minute of man at 500. I wish I had tried it anyway because I am pretty sure it would now after the 350 yard group. Maybe not all would be hits but I’m betting most would be. The shots are all the 174 matchkings. Shot off bags from prone. Not bad I think. Surprised me a bit. I have shot this gun before but only plinking for fun without serious efforts at precision. You can bet a second part will follow seeing just how far we can push it with the Type99.