A Taxonomy of Safeties

In addition to the other two posts so far today, I am sharing another one of Hognose’s posts from Weaponsman.com.  This is a repost in our ongoing commitment to honoring  our dead friend Kevin and his work.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

There are several kinds of safeties that are used on service weapons to ensure that only the proper and deserving people are shot. They generally interface in some way with the firing mechanism of the firearm. They may act on the trigger, the hammer or striker, or the sear, or (in some fiendishly clever arrangements) more than one of the above. It is generally thought better to positively lock the striker or firing pin than merely to lock the sear or trigger. If the mechanism fails due to parts breakage, it is easier to design a fail-safe mechanism if the striker or firing pin is immobilized.

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

Safeties can be classified based on the degree of volition required to use them. An applied safety must be consciously put on, in most cases. An automatic safety is unconsciously applied as the pistol is taken up. Examples of automatic safeties include:

  1. the Glock Safe Action trigger and its many copies and derivatives;
  2. the grip safeties characteristic of many Browning designs, such as the M1911 .45 and the FN M1910 pocket pistol;
  3. similar grip safeties on open-bolt submachine guns such as the Madsen and the Uzi. (An open-bolt SMG poses peculiar safety problems);
  4. transfer-bars and other means to ensure a weapon can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled;
  5. mechanisms that hold a firing pin back until a weapon with a locking breech is fully in battery (the disconnector often does double-duty as this part);
  6. Firing-pin immobilizers as in the Colt Series 80 and newer M1911s (an earlier firing pin safety, the Swartz Safety, was used in commercial Colt 1911s from circa 1937 to 1940, and is used by Kimber today);
  7. A heavy, smooth trigger pull such as that on a traditional Double Action revolver or a DA/SA autopistol can prevent unintentional discharges. However, some heavy triggers (like the Glock NY2) have a bad enough effect on accuracy as to threaten bystanders with unintentional shooting.
  8. Magazine safeties, an obsolete European concept;
  9. Half-cock notches (in British/European English usage, these may be called half-cock “bents.”)

Contrasting with these automatic safeties, that do their work without conscious application by the operator, there are Applied or volitional safeties. Applied Safeties are usually classified by what part of the firing mechanism they work on, and so examples of Applied safeties break down into:

  1. Safeties that lock the trigger. The simplest of these are the crude trigger-blocking safeties on an SKS or Tokarev SVT. More complex trigger-locking safeties are found in the AR series of rifles and the FN-FAL;
  2. Safeties that lock the firing mechanism (which may be further divided into those that lock the firing pin, like the Walther P.38 or Beretta M92, and those that lock the hammer, like the US M1 Rifle, or
  3. The bolt holding notch in many 2nd-generation submachine guns. (These are reminiscent in a way of the safety of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which requires the cocking piece to be rotated and caught in a notch). The case can be made that this is a firing mechanism lock, because the bolt with its fixed firing pin is the firing mechanism.
  4. Safeties that lock the sear. Examples include the .45 M1911, its younger brother the BHP, many other auto pistols, and most general purpose machine guns. Some require the weapon to be cocked to lock the sear, others allow locking the bolt forward (the RPD LMG and the Sterling SMG are examples of this).
  5. Safeties that disconnect the trigger from the sear. This is found in the Bren gun and many other Czech designs, historically. The ZB 26 and its derivatives were quite cunning: in one position, the selector brings the trip lever to engage the semi notch, which is in the upper side of a window in the sear. In the other position, it engages the auto notch in the lower side. In the intermediate, “safe,” position, the  trip lever clears both notches and the weapon does not fire.

Note that automatic safeties, too, can be broken down as working on the trigger, the firing mechanism, and the sear, also. So safeties can also be Classified by Operation.

Safeties Classified by Operation

It is possible to classify safeties in the first place by their means of action:

  1. Trigger safeties
  2. Firing-mechanism (striker, hammer, firing pin) safeties
  3. Sear safeties
  4. Disconnecting safeties.

This is true, obviously, for both automatic and volitional safeties, and classifying them this way puts their mode of action forward as more important than their mode of engagement, which (applied/volitional or automatic) becomes a secondary trait.

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

It is only possible to engage many safeties when the weapon is cocked or ready to fire (presuming a chambered round). Familiar examples include the AR series rifles and the 1911 pistol and other Browning hammer designs. Other safeties engage regardless of the energy state of the striker or hammer, for example the AK, the Remington Model 8 (a Browning-designed trigger mechanism that was deeply influential on 20th and 21st Century firearms designers, including Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner), and the RPD light machine gun.

Combination Safeties

While a weapon may have multiple safeties that do different things (or multiple modes that engage the same safety, as in the safety lever and grip safety of early Lugers), it’s possible for a single cunningly-designed safety to disable multiple points of the firing chain at once. For instance, the Lee-Enfield safety is a model of versatility: it locks the striker, locks the bolt closed (preventing the chambering of a round), and disconnects the striker from the sear. The M1911 or Browning High-Power safety locks the slide closed as well as locks

It’s also possible for a volitional safety to be combined with other functions. The most common example of this is the combined safety/selector switch of most modern assault rifles, like the M16 or AK-47.

To Sum Up

There are a great but finite number of ways to design safety features on modern firearms. Careful study of prior art allows today’s designer truly to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field. John Browning left no memoir or technical book, nor did John Garand, John D. Pedersen, Gene Stoner; and the many memoirs of Mikhail Kalashnikov are disappointing to the technical reader. But each of these geniuses spoke to us in the art of his designs, and they are still available for us to study and to try to read what their art is trying to tell us.

We have not, in this limited post, attempted to discuss “best practices” or the pros and cons of any individual safety design. Very often, the designer will be limited by the customer’s instructions or specifications. (For example, the grip safety of the 1911, which 1970s and 80s custom smiths often pinned in engagement as a potential point of combat failure, was requested of John M. Browning by the US Cavalry. The other military branches didn’t feel such a need, but the horse soldiers did, and Browning first added it on his .38 caliber 1902 Military pursuant to a similar request). Thus, even as a designer, your safety design decisions may not be your own.

Notes and Sources

  • This post has been modified since it was first posted, to expand it.
  • This post will be added to The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech.

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

Allsop, DF, and Toomey, MA. Small Arms: General Design. London: Brassey’s, 1999.

Chapter 13 is an extensive review of trigger mechanisms, including safeties, and while their classification of safeties is different from ours, their explanations are clear and concise.

Thanks to the commenters who not only recommend this long out-of-print book, but also sent us a link to a bookstore that had it (it’s a copy withdrawn from a military library, as it turns out). This out-of-print work is less technical and deep, but considerably more modern, than Balleisen; its examples are primarily British.

Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified. He passed away early last year.

EXTRA Carry CCW Mag Pouch

A couple years ago, maybe longer I was sent this magazine holder thing for review.

 

The reason it has taken me so long is  I just couldn’t figure out the best way to use this thing.   As you can see the idea is to clip it into a pocket.

The problem is that the magazine is not indexed in a way that makes it easy to grab. Especially if you are in a hurry .  The section with the clip rakes at the hand.

It does go down into the pocket as it is meant to but it just isn’t fast to get out.   If you bought this to use as your only spare magazine carry pouch  I think that is a bad idea.  As and extra  one in addition to your belt mounted  pouch.. I think that would be OK.  Long as you realize it’s limitations.

The kydex  pouch has a clip that will rotate to let you put it on and off and its strong. It is a very positive and secure set up.   ON the other hand the pouch does not have any real retention.  The mag will fall out of you end upside down.

If you want to buy one and try it cause you think it might be for you, OK.  If you don’t, I doubt will regret i missing out  on it or anything.  I have no strong feelings on it one way or the other but I will say it doesn’t offer up anything for my personal uses.

Federal Gold Medal 73gr Berger .223Rem & Colt Accurized Rifle

Several months ago I  reviewed the Colt  accurized rifle ,the CAR HBAR ELITE as it is  also named,  and said I do a follow up post about how it shoots and further ranges.     So while out this week  testing the new Federal Gold Medal  556 load using the Berger VLD 73 gr. bullet I killed two birds with one stone.

The new GMM load has come out alongside the very popular 77gr Sierra  bullet loaded loading.  Berger has been around a long time but  until relatively recently, if you weren’t a handloader you may not have heard about them.      Berger has been making very accurate and innovative bullet designs for bench rest shooting, high power and varmint hunting for a long time.   It was  a wonder it took as long as it did before some company started using those bullets in a factory load.

The new gold medal load is loaded to 223mm pressures and will feed through AR15 magazines.  Cases are the federal match cases with the bluish water proofing sealant.   The bullet is the “open tip” match hollow point boat tailed.     The Colt has  a marking of “1/9” on the  barrel but don’t let that give you the impression that these will work in your other brand 1/9 twist barrel. The reality is the Colt barrel more closely measures 1/8.5  twist.  So before spending a lot of money on this ammo or buying those bullets, take a careful measure of your barrel twist.  This is easy enough to do with a cleaning rod, a sharpie and a tape measure.

I shot the ammo at 500 yards using a NRA 200 yard bullseye target.

A full 20 rounds was fired at the target for a record group after sighter shots.    I can’t offer up more than one targets because  conditions and light started to change and I was afraid it woud become a matter of me fighting wind and light as opposed to trying to shoot in conditions to give results  one could look at without having to determine how much was error from wind, light or shooter.  I hope the group gives an idea  of what the ammo is capable of as well as the HBAR ELITE.      I ran out of time and light before I could shoot the same ammo in a MK12 SPR.

20/20/20/ 1,000

Back  in 2005 I believe it was, I  was at work reading an issue of Guns &Ammo  instead of working.  That month Jeff Cooper was giving his thoughts about the war in Iraq and  dumping on the AR15 and 5.56mm  as he was wont to do. This never did sit well with me. Fast forward to a few months later and Again I was reading Cooper’s column and in it he talked about the  “20/20/20 1K challenge he thought up.  That is, 20 rounds on a 20 inch target and 20 seconds at 1,000 yards.  He opined that  it most likely be done with a 762MM semi auto like the match M14.  That generated a chortle out of me  and got me thinking.    Could it be done?  I wanted to know.  Unlike Cooper I thought using an M14  for the attempt was a dead end as the recoil and movement of the gun  would make it  nigh impossible to keep on target firing that fast.  Not to mention the  gun is a nightmare in my opinion.

In 2006 I started my attempt at making this challenge.  I tried it many times and approached it a lot of different ways.  I never could quite hit the time limit or keep all rounds  on target.  I worked up to it in practice.  I did 500 yards in 20 seconds on a 20 inch target, and got that down pretty good, then I moved up to 700  and so on in increments.  I tried using  heavier and heavier and longer barrels on precision ARs for the extra weight.  I put lead in A2 buttstocks to add more weight and I even considered tying sandbags to the fore arm FF tube.    I stopped short there as it felt like was getting too far from accomplishing the challenge with something a rifleman could and would carry.

The closest I came was 20 rounds on the target but in 21.6 seconds.  Close. But may as well have been  an hour too long.   This went on and on few times a year since 2006.  Then yesterday I did it.

I had no intention or expectation that I was even going to try it again today.  After discussing it with Howard last night, I realized that is why I managed to pull it off.  I was relaxed, I was not putting pressure on myself,I was just having fun after doing some other testing.     My purpose for being at the range was to test the federal gold medal  556mm ammo using the Berger 73 grain VLD  at 500 yards and do the follow up  part 2 of my Colt Accurized Rifle review.   While shooting at a steel gong at 1,000 yards it was  noted how calm conditions were and how dry and hot it was with temps in the high 90s.       I zeroed in on the gong and placed the cardboard target to the left of the steel.    With the idea in mind to get everything right on the steel, note  my data , then shift to the Q target and start the attempts.

With a spotter ready to  shout any misses to me as I was firing, I loaded  thirty round mags with my handloads of the sierra tipped match king 77 grain  bullets and 24.0 grains of Varget.  My idea is I would of course miss a few but If I could shoot more than 20  rounds, I could have extra rounds for the misses and still get  20 on target.

The gun is the Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite.   This is a 24 inch heavy match barrel with freefloat tube.  The gun also has a magpul PRS stock, and Atlas Bipod.  The optic is the Nightforce NXS 5.5x-22x with 56mm objective lens.  For the day’s testing I had took out the colt match trigger and had installed a SSA trigger  and it is a good thing I did.  To help even more I put a sand bag between the bipod and mag well.  This let me push the gun into something to get some weight behind it.

After  two  tries I was getting close  to pulling it off.    I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to pull it off.  So I decided to just see how close I could come.  On the last try I was down to only 25 rounds left after  5 rounds used for sighters because of a  small wind change.

After firing  them   all up it was time to drive down and take a look.   When we  counted them up I couldn’t believe it.    I kept  looking to make sure some holes were not just  holes made by rocks that flew up from near misses.   But I did it, I finally  hit the goal I have been after since 06 when I first seriously started to attempted it.

Below is me with recovered target trying to hide the stupid grin and dumbstruck  face.

After all these years I  finally did it. And its a good thing, at almost 42, I did not have many years left of eyesight that could still be corrected. My only regret is that my friend who is my usual partner in crime for these  pie in the sky attempts wasn’t there to share in the moment with me.   He has always been there to help me with the 1,000 yard iron sight  with AR15A2 hits and the K-31 at 1233 yards and our 1-mile shot.   It just wasn’t the same with him not there to share in the moment with us.

Howard asked me if now that I had done it, could I do it again.  No. I do not think I could pull it off again. I believe the only reason it worked this time as because I was relaxed and not taking it as serious as normal. I had  put no pressure on myself.  Another factor was once again the weather conditions allowed  success that time. The high temp, thin air and almost no wind and what little there was blew in from my 6 oclock.

It’s still strange to think that I have pulled this off after so many years.  It’s that same feeling you had as a kid the day after Christmas. Nothing to look forward to  for a long time almost.

25 rounds fired. 19.8 seconds.  20 inch by 18 inch target, 21 hits, 1,000 yards.  7-10-2018

What is “Cover” in your home and will it Stop a rifle round? Lets find out.

 

 

Today I decided to do a repost  an article  2 parter  older  popular article from our first year.  We have a lot of older great material new readers may not see because it is so buried under  the  constant flow of new articles. With that in mind here is an article from 2012 were I shot up a house for educational purposes. I hope you enjoy if you haven’t read it before and if you have I hope you will enjoy a revisit.

 

I took the time to so a little un scientific testing today of some of the more popular 5.56 rounds used today. It is not a new idea or original to me , but it is worth doing as often as can be pulled off.  It seems to be the one topic about using carbines for home defense that is not as easy to find info on for the new shooters looking to use a AR15 carbine or other  of that type.

I have use of a run down abandoned home on my own property  with some furnishing and appliances still in it. So, I decided to shoot them up for fun, facts and quasi-science.

I used  M855, M193, Hornady TAP  75grain and  the steel cased Hornady 75 grain steel case training round. Rifle was 16 inch barrel carbine with 1/7 twist.  I used cardboard IDPA targets to have an idea of what would happen to a person using cover found in a typical house.

The first test was a refrigerator.  I placed the target ( home owner) on the other side as if the person was taking fire.  I set the target a foot or so away to show any fragmentation without ripping it up too bad and making it harder to see what happened.

I fired from about 5 feet from the “threat” side of the fridge.

Inside it had some typical, if spoiled, food items for authenticity. The fridge is about the normal size for most homes in my opinion.

The first round I fired was M855.  It went into the fridge , started to frag, came apart, the core and jacket then went through the other side and both pieces key holed through the target.  The core also went through the wood I used to prop up the target.

The next was the m193. The 55 grain FMJ did make it through in some pieces, but it did make it on into the target.   The M193 is the  hole in the upper head area. The M855 is the lower keyholed hit. Frags from both can be seen peppering the target.  It is interesting since you will commonly hear how M193 will not penetrate far.

The next round was the Hornady steel case.  I fired the 75 grain round and it went into one side and bulged the opposite side with no shoot through.

Next was the Hornady TAp FPD  75 grain round. This round did better than the steel case.  It made it through both side and into the target. It did however leave most of its jacket in the opposite side skin f the fridge.

Whatever was left did not hit the target and I could not find its impact area. Several more rounds had the same effect.

Next I wanted to show what happens if you hide behind a couch while some one is shooting at you like often happens in Hollywood. I even shot through two walls and a closest door to hit the victim. I used M193 and M855 only since it was clear this is a bad idea after a few rounds.

The rounds went pretty much straight through the thin wooden panel walls and two by four boards. Also the couch did not stop anything.  It seemed in fact the barrier seemed to make the hits more destructive on the target.  Don’t hide behind your couch if you are being shot at. Life is not a movie of video game.

Next I fired all four rounds through two walls and a dryer at the victim.

The picture on the right shows 4 rounds from m193. Interestingly, this time the m193 turned sideways  even through the 1st wall.

Every round tumbled and fragged by the time it was well into the appliance . Most of the projectiles still made it into the target. It did seem the round inside of the dry did cause the  hits to impact lower than they would have if they continued on straight n line of sight.

I was able to get hits after aiming higher. No surprise, the m855 made it to the target the best. Both ball rounds, or what was left of them, went on through another two walls behind the target.

Th TAP did not make it through the dryer.

Next up was a book case with a few books in it. I used soft and hard cover. I did not fill the shelf with books because  I know none of the rounds would have went through.

The only round to make it to the target is the tear from a tumbled m855 round that you can see in the bottom left of the target in the picture. One m855 went off to the side wall.  No other round made it through to the target. They either stopped in the book or zipped of in a different direction or into the unknown. I fired 20 rounds trying to get another hit.

A lot of people do not know the difference between cover and concealment.  Probably because of movies, people seem to think most anything in a house will stop a bullet, even the walls.  This is showing things are not always as secure as you may think.  I would not use any of this as cover if I thought I was going to be shot at. maybe to hide behind, but not to take cover behind.   Unless its a metal or steel wall, you need to think about it.  This also may be a wake up call for those who day dream of zipping off a round during some home invasion fantasy cooked up in their heads.  If you have loved ones in the next room or two over you better think very hard about what you would do when shooting in your house. Even if you thought you had it all worked out.  All of the rounds fired that made it to the target. still went on through at least another wall or two at the least.   SO, be careful what you hide behind and be more careful about who or what may be in the next room or house if you ever have to shoot in your own home. Or, if you shoot by accident. a ND can go a lot further then you think even if you had the gun pointed in what you though would be a safe direction if you did have a ND.    This is of course 556 rounds only and not all of them by any means so keep looking for a round that might be a little better than  the military ammo everyone seems to want to buy for defense. Same goes with handgun ammo or shotguns. This  is not the end all be all test or even slightly scientific, but I show it to you to draw your own conclusions and to keep thinking.

Part 2

Last time I fired a variety of the more popular 556 rounds commonly stockpiled by shooter and one of the most popular defense loads through a variety of things inside of a house to see what happens. The idea was to maybe get and idea what could go wrong if you had to fight inside a house or take cover behind things or you are just worried about over penetration. Just like I said last time ( though some of the more illiterate seemed to not have read)  this is not a scientific test and I make no claims it is.  But it is something to help you think. I hope.

This is the next part to what may be a series of at least 5 “test.”  I am going to show the results of what happened when I fired  5.45 from a AK74 type rifle, 7.62×39 from AK47 type.some ballistic tip rounds from a  5.56 AR15 carbine and  ball and Ranger T  HPs from a  45 ACP.

The first rounds I fired are the 5.45. The ammo is the standard round  as used by the Russian Mil. A lot of people like it because it is cheap and they feel it more deadly then a 5.56 in ball ammo form. Or at least the same if just cheaper.

The rounds punched a nice entry hole going in. But, one the got to the opposite side,they keyholed. You can see they stayed pretty much intact. Look how lean the holes are in the picture below.

They went on through the target, and the wood board behind holding it up and struck a cooking pot behind and stopping.

  The light makes it look like  a hole but it is not.   It did seem in one out of 20 rounds to  have fragged.  With the core some how bouncing off the pot and coming back to stick in the back side of the cardboard target.

You can see the core on the far left. This is the only evidence of fragmentation from the 5.45 I could find all day.

Next I fired some of the ballistic tip 5.56  to see how it would compare to the m193 , m855 and TAP used the last time.

A lot of people will say that ballistic tip will not over penetrate and like to keep it as a home defense round.

Hole by the paster is a perfectly cut hole left by a 55 grain ballistic tip fired through a fridge. This was pretty normal I found. Other damage was parts of metal from the fridge skin.   This surprised me enough to  fire the BT  through an outside window that was double pane into another target 10 yards behind the glass.

  The large hole in the target in the upper left  and bottom are from the ballistic tip 5.56 fired through a double window.  The glass deflected it a few inches from center line where I aimed. Rounds continued on through the  double 2 x 4 door frame it rested against before splattering on the wall behind.  Middle hole in target is from 45 ACP ranger T hollow point fired through same glass.  45 stopped inside the double 2x4s behind target with almost not real deflection.

I also fired the 45 ACp  through the fridge. HPs and ball.

  HPs and ball went through fridge and target. Punches through wood prop, then went deep into stove behind the target.  HPs no doubt caved in on itself and turned effectively into ball.

   I also fired from and outside wall, through a TV entertainment center stand at a target “hiding” behind and through  3 walls to see what would happen.  I used the HPs in every case since I had a pretty good idea what ball would do. I thought anyway.

TV center.

and exit hole after going through wall and 3 layers of the stand.

Below is target after 45 ACP was fired through  3 inside walls and one closet wooden door.

  Exit holes are seen in wall and one of the hits on the target paper. All shots continued on  through cabinet and another wall. This was all done with HP ammo.

Next is from the  much vaunted 7.62×39  ball ammo.  I expected the rounds to go through the fridge destroying it and deep penetration into the stove behind.

  This is what was left of the only round of 30 fired of the M43 round that made it through the fridge.  I fired from 5 feet from the fridge. One made it through and was badly fragged. It did not go through the wooden backer. No other round got through or even bulged the back side of the fridge much to my surprise.   The ‘x39  would go through walls but keyholed and had limited penetration once  it did.   None made it through the book case or dryer either.  GLass deflected the M43 so much I could not get one on the IDPA target so I am not sure what it would have looked like. I ran out of the ammo I brought before I could land a hit. Did not matter since I ran out of glass anyway.

The book case defeated all other rounds just as I expected.

  More holes on one side, but not more exits. Books remain undefeated.  Though all rounds tried would penetrate sometimes up to 10 inches of books alone. When shot through case and books stacked tight, few things seem to have the power. Am going to try a  308 round next on the bookcase.

I am not going to bother showing all the pictures of the dryer since nothing made it clean though.  The 5.45  made it into the dryer but not out the other side. The balistic tipped 556 came closest to a through and through. The 45 ACP did not punch clean through but made some impressive damage before coming to rest on the far side guts on the dryer.  Internal exit holes from the 45 ACP can be seen below. The ranger T tore large gouges through the dryers insides. Does not mean anything, but it is something to ponder.

  All shots fired into dryer first passed through two walls and a bathroom door before hitting the metal of the dryer.

You can see the shredded remains of the rifle rounds laying in bottom of the dryer in the picture.

Once again I was surprised by the results of this very unscientific test. Things I thought that would be stopped were not, and things I thought would penetrate deep did not do much.  Maybe if I did it all again it would be the opposite of this. Who knows?  One thing is becoming pretty clear to anyone who wants to pay attention. Nothing can be depended upon to be “safe” or “safer” from over penetration when talking about being used inside a home.  DO NOT assume your pet HD load or round is going to work like we are told it will be ammo companies.  The only thing you can depend upon is that the worst possible thing that can happen, is likely to happen if you take it for granted and maybe even if you do your best. You just can not know.  the best policy is to do your best not to have to zip off a round in your house if anyone else is inside you do not want hurt.  The best choice in a perfect world is to call the cops and  barricade your self in  a safe room or get out of the house.  We do not live in a perfect world though. So , spend as much time thinking about this as you can if you seriously think you may one dark night need to shoot inside your home. Or re think where you may point your muzzle when loading/unloading your weapon.  Draw your own conclusions because I am not going to make any claims about firearms ammo  doing anything for a fact

 

Winchester Model 52

The Winchester Model 52.  One of the greatest rifles of all time. Some even have called it “perfect” in the past.  I don’t know if it is perfect but it comes about as close to it as I would want in a rimfire target rifle that comes from a factory.     The M52 was made in a time when manufacturers still made  stuff mostly by hand. Especially when it was prestige or target model.

The 52 came out in 1919 and was used in the national matches that year and it was an instant hit.   The original models, often referred to now as “As’ or Pre As”  looked more like  a training rifle for the military ( which it was meant to be) than it looked like most people’s concept of a target rifle.   It went on to be refined over the years before it was discontinued.

The two we are going to look at here is the model52 “B” and “C” variants.

The differences in the two variants is slight.   The triggers are different designs, the barrel band is slightly different than the stock has minor differences but they would not really have been different enough for Winchester to bother to note  them as different models in catalogs at the time.

The top rifle is the “C” and as you can see, it has mounted on it a 20x power Unertl combination rifle scope. The Unertl/Fecker type optics attached to the guns via target blocks that are screwed to the barrels.  You can see see the target blocks the optics mount to  on the barrel of the lower rifle. I will have more on the Unertl in a few days if it as caught your attention

All rifles would accept all of the popular target iron sights of their time. Usually something made by Lyman or Redfield.   The lower gun has mounted Redfield  Olympic competition ironsights. The rifles take a standard 5 round detachable magazine that is removed via the mag release button seen on the right side.

The rifles have an accessory rail on the bottom of the stock forend.  This allowed attachment of the front sling swivel and the  combination handstop/sling swivel seen on both guns.  This was for shooting with sling in matches.  The rail also would accept  other items for use off hand standing,    The pattern of stock is known as the”marksman” stock and was used  on the Model70  national match  andd Bullguns. It was so well thought of that it continued on into the early 2000s but as a synthetic model made by HS-Precision with a bedding block and pillars for the heavy varmint line of Model70s.

The barrels are  heavy contour match barrels. When I say match I do mean match. They have a flat 90 degree target  crown  and you can see the target block  for placing the olympic  front sight with either globe of post.

Accuracy testing the rifles was done with the 20x Unertl on a rest. All groups were fired at 50 yards.

 

As with center fire rifles,  rimfires have their favorite loads.   If you want the best out of your rimfire,match ammo is a must and not the high velocity stuff.   A well known phenomenon is that  a 22 rimfire will shoot better of damp days.   For further accuracy  I recommend a Niel Jones rimfire headspace gauge for measuring rim thickness for consistency and weighing live rounds into lots.

http://www.neiljones.com/html/rimfire_gauge.html

rimfire

Both guns were shot with a variety of ammo in five shot groups.

 

I won’t give any commentary  about the groups pictures and will allow readers to view them  all sine each group has ammo type used noted.

As you can see three different people  fired both guns using a large range in ammo. The Eley Edge and Federal ammo being the  best performers across all three shooters and both guns.   No surprise there.   The Fiocchi  320  was a surprise to me though.  My friend who purchased mentioned that only that lot shot that well. That identical boxes of a different lot shot terribly.  That is why you always test  your zero when going to a new lot of factory ammo. Especially if  you are a Police sniper.  Even if you are not, it is very prudent to check zero and accuracy when you use a different lot of the same ammo.

The Winchester Model52 is another great American classic. If you are into vintage target rifles or you want a rifle you could do well with in any local match , you can’t go wrong with a M52.

 

Reproducing the Army M855 300m Carbine BZO at 25 yards

There are three most popular ways to zero the AR15s and similar 5.56 carbines.  These three are a 100 yard zero, a 50/200 zero, and the military 300m zero.  Here I am going to talk about the 300m zero.

Unfortunately most people do not have easy access to a 300m range.  Even if they did, it makes sense to start at a closer distance.  Later on I will reiterate that with a demonstration.

Why the 300m zero?  I personally wouldn’t recommend it to most people unless they are already familiar with it from time in the service.  The 300m zero has the round first cross the point of aim at 25 meters, then it raises to about 7 inches over the point of aim at about 173 yards, then it is on at 300m.  At 400 meters you are about 10 inches low.  Still easily on target.  Might be easier if I made this a chart.

Range Drop (in)
Muzzle -2.6
25 yards -0.4
25m -0.3
100 yards 4.4
200 yards 6.5
300 yards 2.5
300m 0
400 yards -9.4
500 yards -31.4

Chart made from info gathered using JBM ballistic calculator.  Figuring firing M855 from a carbine at 2970 FPS at the muzzle and a sight height of 2.6 inches over the bore.

So the real benefit to a 300m zero is that it is easier to use it to hit a man sized target at 400 and 500m just by aiming a little higher.  If you are not actually expecting to shoot those distances, something like the 100 yard or 50/200 zero would likely be the better choice.

The Army used to teach to adjust the point of impact (POI) to hit right at point of aim (POA) at 25 meters.  Some years ago they realized it was better to have the troops adjust the POI to be about 1/3 of an inch low at 25m to get closer to a correct 300m zero.  At reduced ranges small amounts of error will add up greatly at longer ranges.

So what if we are not using a 25m range, but instead the more common 25 yard range?  We can see from the chart above that that we want to be 0.4 inches low if we shoot at 25 yards.

Now to get down to the shooting.

If we are using a sight with ranging settings, we want to set it for 300 meters.

In this case I used a Matech rear sight.  I set it to the 300m setting.  I also flipped it up for the shooting.  Using a target at 25 yards, I fired a well aimed group of 3 shots.  Why 3?  It lets you use the average of the three shots to minimize error.  If you had a rifle and ammunition combination that you are extremely consistent with, you could make zeroing adjustment off a single shot.  But for stuff like this it is better to shoot groups.  The more shots the better, but 3 tends to be the minimum.

I know, from experience, that the M855 ammo I have tends to be about 2 MOA ammo.  That means at 25 yards I should be getting half inch groups.  If the group is larger than 1/2 inch, I am not doing my part.

That group is most certainly larger than 1/2 inch, so I wasn’t doing my part well there.  But it gives me something to work with.  I see that this rifle is shooting 4.5 inches low and 1.3 inches right at 25 yards.

Had I started at 100 yards, I would have been impacting 18 inches low.  I would have been completely off the target.  That is why it makes sense to start up close.

Also note my high quality custom BZO target (black Sharpie on paper).  I wanted to demonstrate you do not need a fancy target for zeroing.

On the AR15 carbine, adjustment of the front sight are about 1.75 MOA per click (1/4 rotation), and wind-age is about 3/4 MOA.

I needed to go 18 minutes up, so I decided to make an adjustment of 10 clicks.  I also needed to go about 5 minutes left, so I choose to go 6 clicks left.  (In hindsight, the math says I should have done 7)  Then I fire another group.

After firing another 3 well aimed shots I find another group that is less then perfect, but still gives me good information.  This three shot group is 1 inch low from point of aim and half an inch right.  So I need to make another adjustment.

Don’t forget, I want the impacts to be a half inch low (0.4 actually).  So I want to dial up 1/2 inch (1 click) and left 1/2 inch (3 clicks).  I make the adjustment, and fire a new group on a new clean point of aim.

There we go, zeroed in 9 shots.

Now, ideally, you tweak and confirm the zero at the full distance.

Optic of the week: Matech BUIS

The Matech sights that come from Colt have the Picatinny marking.  I have not seen this marking on these sights from other sources.

Some time back, I’m not sure when, the U.S. Military adopted the Matech Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) as the new rear sight for the M16A4 Modular Weapon System and the M4/M4A1 MWS. That could lead one to believe that this was the best, most durable, combat ready rear sight around. Boy would you be wrong if you thought that.

Outside the military, many people have different desires for what they want out of the BUIS. Some people want a sight that locks in place and is as solid as a bank vault, those people tend to like the Troy sights. Other people want cheap, so they go with the Magpul BUS. There are a few sights that are adjustable for range with a micrometer type adjustment such as the KAC 2-600m BUIS.  There are a wide variety of features available out there, and the Matech has a pretty unique combination of them.

The main draw to the Matech is that is had a lever on the side for changing the distance setting.  This lets you quickly set the sight for settings between 200 to 600 meters, but you can not make fine adjustment for range.

An annoyance of mine is when I can not find detailed information about a product.  I know this sight was designed for use with M855 on both the M16A4 and the M4/M4A1 Carbines but I have not been able to find out what the calibration on the adjustment is.  It might have been set for the 14.5 inch barrel, or a 16 inch barrel, or the 20 inch rifle.  It might be a blended adjustment meant to be close enough for the rifle and carbine.  We just don’t know.  But in any event, it should at least keep you on a Echo Target (40″x20″) out to 600 meters.

There is a line (with out a notch to lock it in position) between the 300 and 400m marks for zeroing a M16A4 at 25m.  When zeroing a M4 at 25m leave the sight on the 300m mark.

The sight locks down, but it does not lock in the up position.  This was chosen as to allow it to move should the rifle be dropped.  Sights that lock open can be more likely to break when locked up.  Unfortunately these sights tend to wear out and stop locking in the down position.  Countless discussion and youtube videos can be found about this.

For example:

Downsides to the Matech BUIS are:

  •  It is huge, much larger than most other BUIS.
  •  If you over tighten the clamping screw and bar it will break!  Snug it up and tighten 1/4 turn past that, no more than that.
  •  You are suppose to replace the screw that is used to hold it on if it is removed from the weapon.  Most of us won’t have multiple screws laying around.
  •  It wears out!  The rear aperture latch wears out and will not stay latched down.

Now I wouldn’t say it is a terrible sight, but I do not recommend buying one.  If you already have one I wouldn’t bother to replace it unless it breaks or wears out.  Just make sure you check the distance setting on it before you shoot.

A Savage Model99

The Savage model 99 is an interesting rifle.  Some really like its looks and  other thing it is one funkly looking rifle.  Either way it was very innovative .   I refined version of the earlier M95 and M92, it was originally  developed to be a possible US service rifle.

It has some pretty trick features for something most modern shooters would consider old and antique.   The internal rotary magazine for instance.   This let the gun use spitzer type bullets. Something that normal lever actions can not do.   The fear being the recoil will cause the bullet to set off the primer of the round in front.   Something I am not aware of actually ever happening or even made to happen in testing… But considered important anyways.

Another thing with that magazine is that is has a counter.  You can see the counter  as it sets at 0 being it is empty.

At the lever is also where the safety  is located, something most lever action of the time lacked.  The savage Model99 has a very smooth action in my opinion and it is a real classic.

 

 

 

 

 

The massive receiver of the M99 was made strong enough for modern smokeless rounds.  This strength and ability with  the modern rounds using spitzer bullets  gave  near bolt action like performance .  The strength and stability allowed for some solid mounting for optics.  The one pictured is a Weaver K4 with the “tip off” rings. That allowed the scope to be pivoted to the side so you can use your iron sights.

This model99 is chambered in 300 savage, A round that was modified and helped  to make the 7.62mm NATO round. 300 savage was meant to give a shorter cartridge that could work well in a lever action that gave the same performance of the .30,06 service round.  It doesn’t  but it does come within about 100 fps of it.

 

These guns are real classics.  I have wanted one for my own safe for many years, particularly one in .250 savage.  But opportunity and money never seem to line up for me.    If you run across one in  any chambering in a deal you can live with I encourage you to buy it.

 

The Galil

After the Six Day War, Israel  decided all the FALs they had been buying and using weren’t all that great after all.  Too heavy, too long, too unreliable!  When the other guy is using an AK47 and you are standing in the desert holding a FAL  and looking the  much handier and lighter gun  the other guy is using   you can understand why the next time around many opted for an Uzi with longer barrel over the FAL.

All those AK  made an impression on the Israelis because it wasn’t long before they decided the FAL wasn’t for them.  I am not going to rehash the history o the Galil, but I will say  the gun was made as a more of less “perfected” AK ( it isn’t) with some ideas from several other popular current service rifles.  You can watch  the developer talk about it in the video below.

The Galil has sterling rep in some places and it seems to be one of those much loved rifles that many of the people who think really highly of has never really even seen one.  With that in mind  lets take a look.

The Galil does have some features that I think are improvements over the AK.  You can see above bolt handle for instance.  It curves up and above the receiver making it possible to charge the weapon with the alternate killing hand without having to do the typical gymnastic required of the vast majority of AKs.  It also make it a bit easier on the back if you have the rifle slung over the back for whatever reason. It is nice not having the  handle jabbing you.    It is a good idea but I find it a little too stubby to use if you have on winter gloves and if you reach over the top and have optics mounted you are right back to the usual AK type manual of arms. Good idea for the 70s, a wash nowadays.  That luggage carry handle is also questionable when it comes to real usefulness.  The magazine and well work the same as the AK, it rocks in from the front. The magazines for the Galil are 35 rounds and a conversion adapter exists to allow it to use M16 magazines. The release is the  paddle in front of the trigger guard

The safety on the right side is the standard Ak safety and selector lever.  They kept this for the Galil but like everyone else in the world with any sense realized it was slow to use.   To remedy this the came up with a safety switch on the left side above the grip to be easier to use with the firing hand thumb.

Above is the left side thumb safety.  Also you can see the stock.  It is an adaptions of the FAL side folding stock. It does lock up tight and is fairly comfortable.

Now to get to the truly useful features.  Was there ever a rifleman with a soul so dead he didn’t wonder .” what if my rifle had a bottle openers”?  Apparently some  one did it Isreal. The Galil  famously has a bottle opener.   I can’t vouch for how well it works though.   All joking aside apparently it was common for the soldiers to use their magazines to open bottles and bend feed lips and ruin the mags.

The rifle also comes with a set of bipods that also can be used as wire cutters. When not in use, they fold back and up into the hand guards. The wood from the fore arms and the bipods make this a very heavy weapon.  It is strange to me that the Isrealis wanted to get away from the wieght of the FAL but ended up with something just as bad.

The sights of the rifle  are not too bad. They also have a set that folds up for night time firing.  The rear sight is a peep that is very well protected with two side protective “ears.”

Above is the day position. and below is the night rear sight.

 

The front sight is adjustable and is also protected by a sight hood.  The front also has a night fold up sight.

The barrel of the gun is supposed to have a 1/7 twist but this one is a 1/9.  The reason for this is the gun is one of the semi auto “Golanis”  that has had a Galil parts kit  used to make it into a more authentic clone.  Century used 1/9 twist barrels as they are wont to do for some reason. Cheaper I guess.

So how does it shoot?   I did not have any where near the time I usually devote to accuracy testing but here is what I managed. I fired from 100 and 200 yards.

Steel was used for 200 yards and the cardboard for 100 yard shooting.

The gun was easy to stay on the steel  but it would have been tough shooting much further on that size target.   Because the gun doesn’t like to work with 55 grain ammo, I used 62 gr green tip for groups at 100 yards.

The gun is about what you would expect from an AK. It is heavy as a  bag of brick s and  suffers from a lot of the drawbacks as every other AK. BUt it has a allure to it for a lot of people. If you think you really got to have one, just remember the IDF ended up using the M4/M16 even after adopting the Galil.