THEY AIN’T ALL THE SAME.
Article by Mark Hatfield.
Recently I was asked to ‘baby sit’ (my words) a fellow who was teaching a handgun class at a range where I serve as a Range Safety Officer. I was to give an impromptu safety talk and then observe the class for a while to determine if they could be left on their own or needed watching. They needed watching. Boy Oh Boy, Did they need watching.
Before they started I asked questions to get a feel for their experience and training. I was told that ‘most’ of the four students had trained under this instructor before. The instructor did have a large emblem on the back of his jacket showing his certification as an instructor, issued from a large well known organization, no less. This instructor informed me that these students were all at the ‘intermediate’ level, he then added that this was because they had all attended a concealed weapon class. The class, I believe, he had taught.
Among them one had a medium frame revolver, another a small Glock, another a small oddball copy of the Colt ‘1911’, I don’t recall what semi-auto the other fellow had. Two of the semi-auto shooters didn’t remember how to load their guns, even how to insert the magazine. I observed that the ‘1911’ shooter fired right handed but always used his left hand to put the safety on or off. Later I showed him how to operate the safety using the thumb of his right hand and the alternate method if he was shooting with his left hand. I cautioned one shooter to not put his thumb behind the slide of his semi-auto. I had to remind one or two to put on their eye protection. There was one or two other things I advised. The instructor had never said anything nor did he assist the students with any of these problems. Nor did he assist or correct any other problems.
They were firing at ledger size sheets of paper, that is 11 by 17 inches and doing so from seven yards. The warm-up was to take their time and fire six shots. One guy hit with only five shots, another with only four, the Glock shooter missed with all six. Throughout my observation I kept reminding myself ‘He calls these INTERMEDIATE level students’.
The first four or five drills the shooters were to start from a ‘low ready’ position and fire six shots, returning to the low ready after each shot. Glock shooter never did, every drill he would raise his gun and fire all six. The instructor never said anything. He never knew about it.
I held back from much I could have said or done. I did not want to undermine the instructor or seem like I was ‘taking over’ the class however it was almost difficult not to. I did jump in when the instructor stood in of his students (who were all on the firing line) and as he spoke of something, two of them drew their guns from the holsters and pointed them down range though somewhat to the side. The instructor had not thought of that as a problem until I interrupted and pointed it out. He didn’t even seem to notice.
While the instructor took a potty break I inquired how much they were paying him. One hundred dollars each for a partial day.
Part of the problem was very clear. He, the instructor, never watched his students. Yup, He would tell them to do something then never watch them as they attempted to do it.
His written material, some memorized, some read aloud from his notes, was ok, not bad, certainly not wrong but was often incomplete in areas. The drills he had them do were so-so at best but did not seem to be leading to any particular goal. His great error was that he never paid attention to what the students were doing. He could not assist his students, correct their problems, improve their technique, or anything because he never saw them in action. Whenever they shot he would stand in the middle of the line and shoot along with them at the same time. They could have been shooting at each other and as long as they missed he might never have never know it.
After about an hour and a half I was notified that I would be needed elsewhere, could these guys be left alone? I said ‘no’, but that it might be easily correctable (I hoped). At the next reasonable opportunity I announced that I had to leave and asked to speak with the instructor on the side. I had seen that the guys all did reholster safely, that was good. I explained that there was a serious problem which he had not realized. He apologized for letting the students draw their guns while he was in front of them, I explained that there was much more than that. I mentioned that the guys could be (without being aware of it) pointing guns at their own feet, at their hands, at each other and he would never know because he NEVER watched them. I tried to really drive this home. I suggested that he use this method:
Explain what he wants them to do.
Then WATCH them.
Give them corrections as they may need.
I could have said a lot more, that he was wasting their time and money as well as reinforcing bad habits, letting them think that what they did was OK, but I didn’t.
I didn’t think this ‘instructor’ was an idiot. However that day, he was not an instructor, he really was not instructing. He thought he was. I thought he could become an OK instructor but the large well known organization which gave him his teaching credentials clearly never taught him how to teach.
A few months earlier I was a volunteer at an orientation to firearms for women only. All the ‘coaches’ were certified Range Safety Officers. The shooting portion was done with one-on coaching. During this, a handgun was pointed at my student and I, twice. My student saw this also. The person who pointed it at us was one of the coaches.
I spent seven years in the Navy and Marine Corps, during that time I did work for some senior people who were ‘problems’. I felt fortunate that for my first several assignments I had leaders who were quite good both in their field and at leadership, that experience allowed me to better exist when under those who were not. Those ‘intermediate’ students I observed did not know enough to know what they were getting and what they were not. I felt sorry for them.
BTW That instructor shot only very slightly better than the best of his students. AND Talking with these students before the class started, some of them actually thought that they were at an intermediate level of skill.
Last month, we took a look at the DMR concept from an equipment standpoint. Some key points from the last discussion:
- Glass turns your rifle *as is* from a 0-300 yard gun to a 0-600+ yard gun.
- Free Floating enhances POI consistency
- Any rifle with a decent chrome lined barrel can be a DMR
- Quality ammo makes substantial improvements in any rifle
- The DMR concept is not tied down to a specific style of rifle
So it’s not about building a Mk 12 clone, it’s about acknowledging that the rifle you have right now is capable of doing *great* things with the right upgrades and training on your part. So what use is a DMR style rifle in the hands of a civilian?
Equipping your rifle with glass, a free float rail, and quality ammo expand your rifles effective range to the edge of the AR15s ballistic capability. As a civilian, learning to use your rifle to the edge of its performance envelope is a good thing, but will their ever be a time when you can use 600 yard capability? We know disasters happen. Hurricane Katrina, the battle for Blair Mountain, the Tulsa Race riots, the Zimmerman / Martin riots, Furgeson, and the L.A. riots are just a few examples of extreme SHTF situations since 1900.
One million rounds expended in fighting? Yup, on Blair mountain. So it is not unprecedented to think that SHTF could go sideways very quickly. In fierce fighting, who wouldn’t want a rifle that is good both up close and out far? Let’s discuss some advantages a DMR style rifle can have to its user:
- Positive target ID: identifying persons from a distance to judge their intent
- Overwatch: capability of observing and covering a large area with accurate fire
- Small target capability: That rabbit looks delicous, if we can hit it
- Better low light capability: quality optics enhance your low light shooting
- Quality ammo: accuracy increased with more effective terminal ballistics
- Can harvest medium sized game from a further distance with above ammo
Glass isn’t the be all, end all since it cant quite compete with a red dot for the majority of close range scenarios, but as Jerry Mikulek can show us, a good 1x variable won’t slow us down that much either. Having an individual skilled in fundamental marksmanship and giving them a rifle which lets them apply their knowledge is a powerful thing. From hunting to defense, a DMR style build with a dedicated and practiced shooter expands the AR15 from a 0-300 to a 0-600+ yard rifle.
While the majority of us will never need to take a 200-300-400-500-600 yard shot, its a skill I want to cultivate and pass down to my kids. History shows us the last 100 years have been interesting, and things can only get more interesting from here. Can a boxer with longer arms reach his shorter armed opponent first? That’s exactly why I want to understand and apply the full potential of my rifle. – The New Rifleman
Guest post by Jack Broz
In 1969 I was a Navy Corpsman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in Vietnam. The week of March 25th 1969, Alpha was ordered to assist Delta 1/4 which had captured LZ Argonne near the border with Laos. Delta was being sniped at by an NVA .51 caliber machine gun and 82mm mortars.
The morning of March 25th Alpha began moving down into a valley towards a high point where it was thought the NVA weapons were located. Within a very short period of time Alpha ran into what might have been an NVA base camp and a furious firefight broke out.
At some point during the firefight I picked up a discarded NVA battle dressing. I put it in my pocket. After things settled down I put the NVA battle dressing on my helmet under the elastic band. I told my Marines that I had 50 battle dressings to use on them if needed, but if I get hit use this on me.
The battle dressing appeared to have Chinese writing on it. I carried it on my helmet for the rest of my tour. It became my good luck piece and I came home without a scratch. Not really, but none from enemy action.
Thirty-five or so years later I have two step-sons who became Marines. The younger of the two received orders for Afghanistan, while home on leave I took the Chinese battle dressing out of our display case, wrote on it where it came from and handed it to him for “luck”.
He returned and gave it back, only to receive orders to Iraq a few months later. Once again the battle dressing went to war. Again he came back and returned it.
Sometime later his older brother received orders to Iraq and the battle dressing made it’s fourth deployment and again was returned.
Both boys are now no longer active duty Marines and the battle dressing is now back in the display case in our house
Article Submitted by Mark Hatfield.
Chris Costa aka ‘The Beard’, has got quite a reputation, knowing, doing, teaching. When I learned that he would be teaching a class only fifty minutes from my home I couldn’t pass that up. What a deal, big name trainer, no long drive, no hotels. I signed up and paid in full, then it was canceled.
The cancelation had nothing to do with Costa, it was due to problems at the facility, caused by the owners. I was impressed by the effort of Costa Ludus (his organization) to make things right. They used more than one means to assure that I received the word including calling me at home to be certain. They also offered a complete refund or if I chose to let them hold my money towards a different class they added to it and increased the amount in my account, not just by ten or twenty bucks either. I let my money ride with them. It was some months later when I signed up for Vehicle Elements Theory, a three day class to be held in a location about three hours away.
Fighting from inside a car or starting from in or near a vehicle, usually in groups of two or four, this was a hoot, and ammo intensive. I had done some of this type of training previously but not firing from inside the vehicle nor as physically vigorous, such as crawling out from a vehicle. The old knees were troublesome and I was not yet recovered from a problem with the ribcage. Only two days before the start of the class I could again hold a handgun in the Isosceles position but not without some awkwardness and pain. Two days before that I could not do that position at all. Moving from positions such as standing to kneeling was painful so in all, that made the class a bit more challenging.
Firing from inside vehicles, using vehicles as cover or concealment, exiting vehicles, working in pairs or teams of four, coordinating with others (an important thing), and putting out lots of firepower, that’s pretty much what we did. It had been recommended to bring at least eight hundred each of carbine and handgun rounds. I estimated that I fired seven hundred of one and nine hundred of the other. We did not work from moving vehicles but The Beard did discuss with us the complexities of that. He did relay that some organizations spend two weeks doing these drills and those more complex.
When under fire and crawling out of a vehicle to the opposite side what do you do with your gun? If in a passenger car seated in the rear behind the driver and have a holstered handgun on your right side, how do you draw and fire out the window to your left without having your muzzle sweep the driver or some part of yourself? These are some of the problems we faced and practiced repeatedly.
A side note was the discussion of a particular hand position with the handgun and some variations of this position. The position is well known and laughed at by serious shooters. It was explained that there actually are some situations where this position can be of value, further, that there are certain scenarios where certain personnel are taught to use this position and he gave the reasons why. Agree with it or not, there actually may be some justification for it in some specific situations. So controversial is it though, that he chooses to not be photographed demonstrating it to avoid hassles or be thought of as an advocate of it’s use.
It was interesting that he explained he made no distinction in teaching whether for the military, law enforcement, or private citizens, he believed in giving each the same material.
There was a period in the first day where I felt like ‘That Guy’ as some say, meaning that I was the problem person, or the one who ‘just didn’t get it’ or get up to speed. I had become accustomed to using always the same guns and gear in such classes and was going to try some variants on this occasion. Also, rather frustrating, when packing, I could not find my usual holsters. In my hotel room the night before the class I discovered that guns and holsters I intended to use were not compatible so on the first day I used a holster which I had rarely worn. Because of this, on that first day of class when reholstering I discovered that because of only a slight difference in my holster, my hand could not slip the gun in automatically as I had for so many years, I had to search for and find the opening of the holster for the muzzle to enter. During our warm-up and assessment drills that really slowed me down. I had decided to not wear web gear for the rifle mags but just to place extra mags in my pants pockets. I had done this some before however I did not realize what a huge difference there would be between different pairs of pants in how difficult it might be to remove those mags.
Also in that period on the first day we did some rifle drills which I know about but don’t practice and he was pushing for speed. There was one skill drill which I essentially gave up as we had to immediately prepare the gun for the next repetition but then later also had to be ready for a possible variation. If you stayed ready for the possible variation then then he might only call for the main drill for which your gun was not ready and could not be made ready in time. If you made ready for the main drill then it was not possible to do the variation if called. I honestly wondered if he forgot what drills he was having us do. It seemed that others may have been having the same problem. Or maybe it was just me. There were no other such complications throughout the class.
People who are not military, Secret Service or such tend not to realize how much of their life involves the car or other vehicle. What was taught and practiced in this class is not just for those special guys but can apply to everyone. Some of the more physical stuff I was tempted to opt out and sit those out but I am very glad that I did not. What most of the other students would have done in some of the vehicle drills was not possible for me and I’m glad to have found what I could do while under supervision and in a controlled environment. Never think that ‘it’ can’t happen to you. As I learned also in the military, even a small amount of rehearsal can make a big improvement in your response when something happens ‘for real’. I’m glad I went.
A few Scalarworks LDM/micro pictures to peak your interest in our upcoming review. This mounts is really nice and has some very nice features.
Scalarworks LDM/micro on Colt LE6920:
Scalarworks LDM/micro on Colt AR6720:
Scalarworks Patch and LDM with some Gear:
Here is a link to my initial thoughts on the Scalarworks LDM/micro mount: Scalarworks-LDM-Mount-Initial-Thoughts
Last night while chatting with another Looseroundes writer, I was told that dubious youtube gun personality “nuts n fancy ” fired a Larue rifle and decided it “sucks” because it supposedly will not work in cold weather. Or from him knarfing it up. Doesn’t matter. With a major arctic storm about to hit hours later, my confidant suggested I make a video testing the Larue I had on hand to see what happens. That was good enough reason for me and it seemed like it make for a fun little test.
The weather this morning was not for swimming at all. But perfect to test a rifle that supposedly can not take the cold and still work. I took the Larue tactical upper I have on hand that belongs to Howard, and put it on a Colt 6940 lower and set it outside facing into the wind to “cold soak”
After a few hours of freezing and being snowed on, I went back outside and busted it out of its icy coffin.
I set it back down, went to get my camera. I had to get the camera at the last minute because the wind was causing the controls to freeze up and drain the battery. The pictures I took above and one more, was all I could get from my digital camera before the cold drained the battery to zero.
Below is the youtube upload of me shooting the Larue. It is in two parts because my ever helpful dog ran into the target back ground before I could finish. so I had to wait until he leaves. That is why it is in two parts.
As you can see, it worked fine and continued to work fine long after my hands and face would not. I am not exactly a blind worshiping fan boy when it comes to Larue. I think they are great, but by no means the ultimate in everything. But it is absurd to say they do not work, or are not tough. Not to be ignored is the Colt lower working just like Colt in the same conditions as well as the Okay brand USGI mag.
As a last note the Aimpoint T1 performed superbly as well. Just like I knew it would.
I spent some time thinking as to how to go about writing this article and have changed things from how I initially wanted to approach it.
At first I was going to talk about all the different meanings of night vision terms and what they do, but there is already lots of good information online about this already. What is lacking is a strait up answer to is it worth it to buy high end quality night optics.
If you are reading the articles here it is obvious you are interested in firearms and shooting. At some point you have looked at night vision and probably thought “man that’s expensive stuff, maybe one day” and written it off as something to do at a later date or if you won the lottery.
While it can be a daunting task figuring out exactly what you need, what works with what, and coming to terms with spending the money on it we can simplify things quite a bit and make it a lot easier. On to the question at hand, is it worth it to buy high end (gen 3) night optics?
Without a doubt the answer to this is yes, plain and simple. Once you have the opportunity to look through a high end device you will be astounded and think no wonder our military loves to work at night. There will always be people saying “I have a gen 1 optic and I can see fine with it there’s no need to buy the expensive higher end optics”. My answer to this is these people probably have never looked through a gen 3 device.
Back in April of 2014 I decided it was time for me to take the plunge in to night vision, but like everyone else I was not sure where to start but I knew it was going to be with a pvs14. I saw lots of places selling them online but found mixed results of the end product, some being very high performing devices then a week later someone got one that was less than stellar from the same vendor.
I knew Tactical Night Vision Company (www.tnvc.com) had a good reputation online for being of quality so I shot off an email and a couple phone calls to test the waters, I never mentioned Loose Rounds in any correspondence. I spoke with a few different people as well as the CEO Vic who I have chatted with a few times and personally took care to make sure I was squared away with my purchase.
All items I purchased were out of my own pocket with no discount. I opted to go with what is considered an entry level setup. A Team Wendy LTP bump helmet, USGI Rhino mount, and a TNV/PVS-14 with an ITT tube.
When I received everything in I was especially surprised when looking at the data sheet for the tube, with specs that exceeded Omni 8 military specs.
I then started setting it up for me, I’m using a surefire M1 for additional illumination when needed, a TLR1 pistol light for a white light option, an IR beacon on top, and a counterweight on the back to help balance things out.
I also bought a small IR laser to aid in aiming at night, which will be getting replaced by the Atpial-C which will be reviewed soon. I had no trouble wearing out a 6 inch steel plate at 100 yards under starlight only. I feel comfortable at being able to ID a man size target out to 200-300 yards and is possible to get hits on target at 150 yards once you get accustom to working with the laser and a solid rest.
For the past 10 months any chance I get I take off in to the night to see what working at night is all about. Sometimes tracking down coyotes, other times shooting from barricades and normal drills I would do during the day. It definitely changes your outlook on things, no longer are you limited to only working in the day time or giving away your position by using a light at night.
In the future I will be looking at ways to get some quality “down the tube” images from the PVS-14 to illustrate what exactly I am looking at as the pictures I have tried taking don’t properly reflect the devices capability as well as how I approach aiming with the laser, and working with different types of cover from foliage to solid objects.
To wrap things up if you have ever been interested in night vision or are using a lower end device, yes it is worth it to pony up for the higher end optics. While there is no definitive go buy this solution to what you should buy, giving TNVC a call and telling them what you intend to do is a great place to start and rest assured there will be no questions regarding quality of the device you receive or customer service like other vendors you may deal with.
I fired a few rounds through a 901SE (modular) upper on my 901 lower. The difference in weight between the two uppers are very apparent when you handle them. The 901S handles much better than the Armalite and the LMT MWS I previously owned. The 901SE feels very close to my M4A1 SOCOM barreled carbine.
The 901S has a quad rail that is narrow and tall. This isn’t a bad thing, but it has a different feel than most handguards. The 901SE slick handguard feels much rounder in the hand, and I find it much more comfortable in the hand.
The new slick forearm on the 901SE makes the gun noticeably lighter. When I was firing from the bench I did find the rifle moved more than the heavier 901S. In offhand rapid fire the rifle did move more than the heavier full quad rail version. It is still very pleasant to shoot, and very controllable.
I think the standard quad rail 901 is a very handy controlable gun. The 901SE modular rail gun gives up very little by way of control ability and feels and handles so much more like a heavy barreled M4. If you are thinking about getting a 901 and plan to mainly shoot from the bench, get the 901S as it moves less when shot. If you plan to carry it and do run and gun, get the lighter 901SE.
This is a Colt 6933 (well actually a 6945 lower with a 6933 upper). The factory trigger was replaced with a Geissele SSA trigger. A KAC M4 RAS was added to provide a quad rail and add some weight to the front of the gun. The carry handle was removed and replaced with a Matech rear sight. The TA31F ACOG scope was installed because I tried to sell it but no one wanted a $500 beat up ACOG.
It is not as light and handy as a stock 6933, but it is a fun little setup.