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Optic of the Week: AN/PSQ-18A M203 Day/Night Sight

I really really wanted to like this but it just sucked so bad.

I mean, it provides a capability that nothing else does, but it is so awkward to use I’d rather live with out it.

Part of the problem with equipment like the AN/PSQ-18A is that when you see one for sale, it is often stolen military property. If you see one with the serial number removed, it probably fell of the truck. Now there are legit units out there, but you still are not likely to get any service from Insight should anything break. A short while back I found a unit for sale that I felt comfortable buying.

The sight comes with a case, manual, and detachable accessory rail.

The AN/PSQ-18A is a day/night sight for the M203 grenade launcher. The night sight being the important aspect as there are very few sights for the M203 that work in darkness.

PSQ-18A mounted on a M4, an Aimpoint Comp M4 mounted on the accessory rail.

This sight slides onto and clamps to the barrel of the M203. This might make it one of the most consistent sights for the M203 as there is a great deal of slop and movement between the barrel and the action on one.

This sight is adjustable from 0-400m in 5 meter increments. It has flip up iron sights with tritium inserts for use at night, and it has an IR laser for aiming with night vision. You can take the accessory rail and mount it on the top of the side of the unit to attach an additional visible laser or day optic.

This optic will let you, in total darkness, aim and fire your M203 out to 400m in 5m increments. That is something special.

But, it is large, heavy, awkward, and a pain in the ass to use.

With out batteries, you can still use the optic day or night with the iron sights. The rear sight has two positions, each with an odd design.

One position of the rear sight is a post with a tiny little notch in it. Far too tiny to put the whole front sight in it. The other is a circle with tabs letting you center the front sight and align it vertically with the tabs.

There is a knob on the front bottom of the unit to adjust the range. If the unit is off or unpowered, there is a scale on the side next to the M203 so you can manually see the range.

Yeah, I can’t read it either.

When you power it on, then is when the cool features become available.

It takes a single AA battery that installs in the front bottom.

Then you can use the selector to turn it on and select which features you want to use.

Note there is a lockout for high power, so you can disable high power when training.

When turned to day mode, there is an LCD at the back that shows what range the unit is set at. The LCD will flash if the firearm is canted. There is also a green light near the front of the unit that blinks to show if it is canted.

A 25mb video becomes a 125mb gif. I cropped it to 31mb just so you wouldn’t have to hit play on a video.

Note how both the green light and the black bar on the LED screen flash when the M203 is canted. If you are using the IR aiming laser, the laser will flash while the unit is canted.

On the right side of the barrel, in the perfect position to hit with a thumb if you are left handed, or your support hand trigger finger if you are right handed is a button to activate the IR laser.

There is a version of this device made for the M320 launcher. It is similar but instead of clamping to the barrel it attaches to a side rail (left side of a weapon). I am told that to use the IR laser on that model you much use a tape switch.

So, this thing seems awesome. The ability to precisely aim your indirect fire weapon day or night with passive or active aiming, what is there not to like.

First, it is bulky, really bulky.

Then, because it is mounted to the barrel, it is really low on the weapon. While you can use it for 0-300m, I was not able to shoulder my weapon and find a way to look though the irons, or an attached optic in any sort of reasonable fashion. Ergonomics were terrible. Now once it was set between 300-400m. That it when I was finally able to use it well. To be fair, that is also past the range the most commonly used sight, the leaf sight, goes out too.

When I took this out to the range to use it, I was going to fire a couple rounds at 50m for fun and to get the feel of it. I could not aim down the sights on the PSQ at 50m. I realized this just was not going to work for me. I feel this sight is only really useful at night or in the 300-400m distance.

My biggest complaint is the adjustment. Having to turn a dial is slow. Going from 100m to 350m zero setting is slow. Even worse, it doesn’t always acknowledge that you made a click. I could make a click adjustment unit would not recognize the adjustment.

I tried to show the issue in this video. Sometimes when I make a single click, it would not recognize the adjustment. Or sometimes when I might make multiple clicks, it would show an adjustment less than what was done.

Now if you are using a M203 at night, with night vision, this would be an excellent tool. But past that, it was just so awkward to use I didn’t even bother trying to shoot with it. I went ahead and sold it off.

Winchester 230gr Flat Nose FMJ “Select Grade”

While gold bricking around my pal’s gun shop a couple weeks ago I saw this Winchester Select Grade ammo and was curious enough to actually pay for a box of ammo just to see what it would do.

I shot the ammo in 5 round groups from a sand bag and bench at 20 yards. I used 2 different guns. My Colt rail gun and the new series 70 competition model.

Those two groups above from the rail gun.

Group below from the series 70 competition model.

It’s not too bad. Not good enough to be called Match Ammo, but good enough to justify the dubious label thought up by Press & Propaganda boys as “select grade.” The price is a little high though as all ammo is in these strange days.

Review: XM 18-22 40mm Beehive Round.

I went to the range and was setting up only to realize I left my range bag at home. It was going to be one of those days. Had to peel tape off an old target to hang up my target.

It is said that a 40mm grenade launcher is one of the most versatile useless things you can buy. You can fire all sorts of different types of munitions out of one, if you can get your hands on them. Smoke, star clusters, parachute flares, CS gas, shotgun shells, beehives, etc, etc.

A “beehive” or “hive” round uses multiple smaller projectiles for antipersonnel use. A beehive round for an 105mm artillery might disperse 8000 flechettes. We are going to be looking at something a little bit smaller. This round fires 18 .22 long rifle rounds from a 40mm launcher.

I’ve read debate on if various rounds were technically “canister” rounds, or “beehive” rounds. To me, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why a round would be called one and not the other. There is no consistent pattern between various designs.

At one point the military tried a “bee hive” round for the 40mm that fired 45 flechettes. This was replaced with a buckshot shell as that turned out to be more effective against targets.

I’d been wanting to get a hive round for my M203 even before I had the M203, but I had not seen any in stock anywhere. But to be fair, I only really looked around once a year or so. I finally found one for sale online and $425 + Tax + S&H later I had it.

I was rather underwhelmed when I got it. Now I knew that I was going to be getting this for novelty purposes and would likely only fire it once or twice a year, mainly to show off to other people. But it kinda sucks.

First, what is it and how does it work?

It has 18 bores, and uses a large pistol primer to drive an internal firing pin to fire off the 18 .22 LR rounds with in.

The anodizing on the aluminum is spotty in appearance, and the bores are very rough. I figured they were dirty from a test fire, but no, it looks like they were just drilled roughly.

The plate that acts as the firing pin is made from stainless steel. It also was not deburred so it is covered sharp edges and rough metal at the edges. There was a chamfer on the inside that was cut after the part was anodized leaving bare aluminum. Lots of chatter marks in that rough cut.

Quite frankly, this is a simple design. I understand that there is extremely low demand for something like this, so the price is going to reflect the very low volume of sales. But I know that if there was any substantial amount of demand for these we would see for them sale on Wish for $20 each shipped from China.

It feels like I paid a premium price for an item manufactured with lower the quality than a Happy Meal toy.

But the important question is, “Does it work?”

I’ve read people posting online that the 18 round hive should not be used in a M203 due to the excessive recoil could damage the M203 launcher. That only the 8 or 9 round hives should be used in a M203.

I’m sure you are reacting with, “Excessive recoil? It is a .22! .22 has negligible recoil.” Well. . . 18 times negligible can add up.

I decided I’d fire it side by side with a 12 gauge round to see how the recoil felt.

I think the people who claim the recoil on this might damage your launcher don’t know what they are talking about. This certainly has less felt recoil than the 12 gauge or a standard 40mm chalk round.

I’m going to be writing about the Trijicon MRO, so I was playing around with it today. I threw it on the M203 stand alone mount and tried using that for aiming the 12 gauge shotshell. I found my impact was very low and right. Only 2 pellets hit the target. So I aimed high left for the hive round. In the video below you can see the two pellet impacts on the target before the hive round is fired.

It was a little slow to insert this hive round into the chamber. It would have been nice if there was more of a chamfer or radius to the nose of it.

It is very disappointing to see that almost all the 22 rounds impact the target sideways. At first I thought the bores might be oversized, but this might just be because they are smoothbores.

I did not expect so much residue from the large pistol primer.

A rod is necessary to push out the spent .22 cases. I keep one in my range bag (which I forgot to bring with me).

I found the insert of a pen would work as a rod for pushing out cases.
Well. . . It worked for a bit.

My concern when using this round is hang fires and .22 rounds that don’t go off. .22 long rifle is very reliable for what it is, but it certainly isn’t 100% reliable. If a round doesn’t go off, I’m not likely to know until after I have disassembled this adaptor and rodded out the cases.

I really wanted one of these rounds and now I have one. Yet I don’t feel it is worth $425. I wouldn’t suggest buying one. For $425 I would have expected it to be a piece of metal art instead of rough surfaces, burrs, and weirdly discolored anodizing. It would be nice to see steel used for the bores, and I would have at least liked to have seen a reamed bore instead of just drilled. Preferable it would have been even better had they been rifled.

Some might say, “Why complain, shooting .22 is cheap.” But when you look at the price of 18 .22 rounds along with a large pistol primer, that is comparable to the cost of a cheap shotgun shell. It is much quicker and easier to fire 12 gauge out of my M203 than to load and unload this hive round.

Still, I have the round now, and I’ll use it occasionally. It will probably spend most of its time sitting on my desk as something to show off to people.

Perhaps someday I’ll make my own. I’d turn the body from stainless steel and rifle the bores. There are some lower capacity .22 hive rounds for the 40mm with rifled bores. Also now someone came up with a 4 shot .410 hive round. Still, having to use a pistol primer to actuate it really slows down the reloading. I’ll probably stick to 12 gauge and chalk rounds for plinking. The XM 18-22 is fun, but I feel it is a poor value.

Colt Competition Series 70 M1911

I finally got myself one of the new series 70 Competition models and boy am I impressed. These are really nice. First off it comes with the Colt branded VZ grips that are always very nice and a left side extended thumb safety which I beleive to be a Wilson Combat part. It also has the Novak combat sight that is adjustable. I am a big fan of Novak sights.

Front sight is the fiber optic. I’m not crazy about that but that is easy to replace. I liked it for shooting but I’m not a believer in using them for daily carry.

It has a stainless National Match barrel.

I was pleased to see a nice full bevel on the mag well. In the past Colt did a weird semi bevel that did not go the full length of each side. No idea why they did that.

The frame has the cut to give a higher grip which I like a lot.

The trigger is already nice since it’s a 1911 trigger. Even better since it is a series 70 fire control and better yet, it feels like it’s been tuned a little bit to be a match trigger. Make’s sense, the gun is called the Competition Series 70.

So how does it shoot?

Very good so far. That’s about as good as I can do in 98 degree sun and 88 percent humidity. It was hot.

Next target is 50 yards VERY slow fire off hand with 8 rounds .

I have no excuse nor explanation on why I shot to the left.

The 100 yard group at a man shaped target because some of you want to know.

That was shot off a bench and bags. This was my first try and I have to admit that group being that tight was more luck than skill even though I did use match ammo.

I felt cocky and shot at the head from 100 after that. I fired two 8 round mags at just the head off the bench from 100 yards. Not a high success rate but hey, its 100 yards with a .45ACP pistol I haven’t even owned 24 hours yet what else do you want from me?

I will probably do a part 2 for this after I get used to the gun and shoot it a lot more. At this point though, if I had to recommend a first 1911 for some one I would have to advise some one to buy one of these. I’d suggest swapping the front sight for a normal Novak combat front sight but otherwise this thing is a real honey.

Taurus 1911 Commander

My Brother pick up a Taurus 1911 Commander and brought it by today. The gun has most of the things that factory 1911s come with these days.

Action was really gritty and tight at first. So tight I was surprised. After about 50 rounds it loosened up quite a bit. Sights are a sort of copy of the popular Novak combat sights. Trigger was heavy for a 1911 but crisp.

Best group was first group fired. 8 rounds off hand at 20 yards on 50 yard slow fire bullseye target. The rest not so much. Ammo was Winchester 230 ball service grade.