I have seen many arguments online about the necessity of back up sights on a rifle using optics. The general concensious seems to be that they are needed on military rifles, but not on civilian rifles. This is not the case.
In the military people work in teams and are almost never alone. Should a rifle go down it is not really an issue as you still have many other people capable of continuing the fight. For the civilian and the police officer this is often not the same. If someone wakes up in their home and finds the battery dead in their reflex sighted rifle it helps to have iron sights. However if a Marine’s optics fails, he is only reducing his squads fighting ability by 1/13 its firepower.
So do you need back up irons? First needs to consider if the rifle is a toy, or a tool for fighting. If it is a toy, back up sights are not necessary. If it is a fighting tool, look at its role and how it is set up. If you are running battery powered optics or magnified optics on quick detach mounts, I would suggest back up sights. So if you need to use a wrench to remove your optic, back up sights may not be practical for you and you may be better off switching to a different weapon.
“Damn, the batteries are dead.” Is not an uncommon saying at the range I work at. Not only among cheap optics with poor battery life, but often about Eotechs. Batteries discharge, cheap batteries and cheap optics drain even faster. Even the best optics can be broken. On the range this is just an annoyance, for the Soldier or Marine it means that their buddies will have to take up the slack. However if you, as a lone civilian or law enforcement officer, have this happen in the fight, the results can be costly.
I highly recommend back up sights on the individuals fighting rifle. If you are fighting by your self, being able to keep your weapon in the fight is crucial.
On that note, also make sure to keep your back up sights zeroed.
This video is a reminder of the results from not being ready for a fight when it happens, and not making sure to always keep your side arm in condition 1. Not only did the would be hero get shot, but he lost his gun to the bad guys and if they got away its likely they will use or already have used it on some one new.
Today an Out Of Battery (OOB) failure, in a P22 with Remington ammo, broke the frame and sprayed debris into the shooters face. Fortunately the boy who was shooting this pistol was wearing his eye protection.
Today I got to try shooting a .308 FN SCAR. Recoil was pleasant in that light rifle. Sight picture similar to an AR15s, the rear sight resembling a KAC 2-600m rear sight.
Much to my surprise, the owner of the rifle (new out of the box) was not on paper at 100 yards. When he set up a target at 25 meters we had to nearly bottom out the front sight to get it to zero. Once zeroed, the owner of the rifle had no other issues with it.
Today I got the chance to look over and to shoot the SOCOM II rifle a close friend bought. Anyone who knows me , knows I am no fan of the M14/M1A rifle. I will not go into the many flaws it has here, but I will say despite my dislike for the rifle I always give them a fair try and never slam one unfairly just because I do not like them.
The rifle arrived with the companies 10 round mag. Why not a 20 round mag? I have no idea. The mags when new cost double or triple a USGI Ar15 mag and I know most buyers would want a USGI 20 round M14 mag to start with. Though I do understand legality can come into play depending where you live.
The stock is a nice touch, it fit well and tight unlike some cheap fiberglass types stocks I have seen with huge gaps. The grip and forearm had a sort of checkering though I felt that other then looks, it was not aggressive enough to be used for real grip. One thing I did appreciate was the mag well had a nice angled bevel to help inserting and rocking in of the magazine.
After picking it up and handling it, I found the balance to be pretty nice it shoulder well and was short and quick when moving it around tight spots.
The SOCOM was also one of the first M1As I had ever held that the top handgaurd cover fit nice and tight and not rattle around loosely like it normally does on a M14. On top of the rifle in front of the bolt is a short piece of rail for optics. This is an idea spot for a T-1 or RMR. I don’t think I would mount something as big as a CompM3 or Eotech, but it is a nice set up for the mini RDS. Having no optics on had to try out , I can not say anything about if it would co-witness with irons. The rear peep sight is bigger then the traditional rear sight. i appreciate this since I have never found the normal small peep to be handy for me at close range or moving targets. the frnt sight had a tridium vial and the protective hoods on each side of the front post are nice and wide, protecting it but not so close to cause confusion at night or in a stressful situation.
After shooting it and checking zero, we proceeded to do some faster shooting. the muzzle brake did its job well. Using Federal gold medal 168 grain Match, the muzzle stayed flat and reduced recoil with not much flash at all. However, with lake city ball, the muzzle blast would peel paint from a wall and was loud enough to be a real distraction. The ports on the brake did direct the worst of the flash away from the line of sight enough to reduce it. No night firing was done so I can not comment on how bad it would be at night with Ball ammo.
The gun was very controllable during double and triple taps. A number or shots were fired at a IDPA target at 25 yards to test how controllable it was during rapid fire. A few double taps even manged to cut into each other or a least touch because of the effective muzzle device. Double and triple taps easily stayed on the head while firing as fast as possible even fighting against the 2 stage trigger.
After having some fun and getting a feel how the rifle generally handled, we decided it was time to test if for accuracy. Since we where not on a range that let us shoot past 25 yards we had to settle for the short range. two 5 shot groups were fired using the before mentioned federal gold medal 168 match load. No optics were used nor any kind of tripod/bipod. I know it is only 25 yards and open sighted, but I have to say, it shows some real potential.
Both groups are 5 round strings fired with the Federal gold medal 168grain match load. As you can see in the pictures 3 rounds went into the same hole in both groups. Considering both were shot pretty much off hand, thats not bad at all even as close as 25 yards!!
Now the downside of the SOCOM II is it suffers the same things as all its other versions. A very slow reload. A safety that is not in a good spot at all. In fact. with the smaller trigger guard and the position of the safety, I found ever time I tried to put my finger into the trigger guard, my finger got hung up between the two and I had to take a second to make sure I got it in where it needed. Sure this is a training issue, but its a issue that really should not even really be there. Other small issues to me are miner, like having to clean from the muzzle and the gun not having a bolt closure or a better safety but these are all personal, maybe other who love the rifle will train hard enough to over come them and perform beautifully with it. It is a very accurate rifle from what I have seen and it handles great. Plenty of companies make a rail or a way to mount what else you need on a general purpose rifle so there should be no problem there, And you can replace the stock with a multitude of other options. If you want a battle rifle that is not too long, this is a good choice and its not as pricey as some AR10 type .30 caliber rifles though you do not have the versatility of the AR type rifles, you still get one nice sweet rifle that is superior to the normal M14/M1a