5.56 Timeline

Plastic Dummy Rounds, Why You Should Use Them And Saving Money

Recently, getting ammo has not been exactly easy. Or Cheap. Even if you are like a lot of shooters and stockpiled up ammo, you still have to shot it to keep your skills and to improve.  I am not a fan of not shooting because  you won’t have it anymore.  Even when getting ammo is tough, skills have to be maintained.  But, there is no need to waste precious ammo when you don’t have to.  A lot can be done in a day with just a few rounds.  So, to me, there is not real reason to destroy or damage perfectly serviceable ammo when you don’t need to.

For a long time people training for clearing weapon malfunctions like the double feed, would set the drill up using live ammo.  Now, I understand doing this  since its convenient but I never really did see what it would hurt to take a few extra seconds and use dummy rounds.  Not just dummies made from live round components either.


Often, practicing this drill on the range or training classes can be very hard on the ammo. Not always, but enough to matter when ammo is already hard to get.   Using the plastic dummy rounds, you get the same function as live rounds, its safer and its not really slower.

The drill can be set up with the dummies, and the new mag can have  live ammo in it.  So you can work them into the drill.  You save the few precious, precious live rounds and you have easily ID’ed dummies that do not look like live rounds.  This way, there is not change of confusing dummies that look real under low light conditions or confusion or any of the other  thousand ways things like this love to go wrong.


Dry fire practice and ruining these drills inside are a lot safer as well.  Other then it takes a little more time to go fetch your dummy rounds for a drill, I can think of no good reason not to use them. They act the same as live rounds, feed the same and everything. And they are easy to ID and recognize as dummy rounds and safe.  I keep two mags for training and dry runs indoors.  Both mags are marked and for dummy round use only.


Other then saving money ( and those few rounds will add up if you do train alot) you can just never have too much safety. I feel this is self evident to anyone with any intelligence enough to not vote for obama.

The dummies can be used in all the most popular calibers and other then popped primers and case head separation and bullet set back. You can do a lot with them. You can also use them for reloading drills.  I like to practice reloading and inserting the mag with a dummy in it to get the feel  of a round being chambered and the look and feel of seeing a round ejected on a tap/rack / bang drill.   It just adds more reality to it for me. I have no idea if it really benefits, but it does keep it more interesting for me and that helps me want to devote time to these drills when I am  indoors. Otherwise I would maybe keep repeating what I like to do instead of what I need to spend time practicing.

I also use them for side arms as well as rifles. Clearing a “stove pipe” with a nice rounded dummy is a lot easier then a real empty brass case that may tear my hand up when there is just no need in it.


These plastic/polymer dummies are cheap and tough enough to last a long time. I pay less then 80 cents a  piece for these dummy satey rounds and I feel they are worth it.  They are safer, cheaper and do not cost me money in screwing up live rounds when I want to practice drills that would other wise deform a live round that could have went toward marksmanship improvement.



Female Conceal Carry for Summer

Cassie Larsen submitted this article. 

When I started thinking about conceal carrying, I was concerned about the printing of the firearm. How was I going to carry on a daily basis and keep the firearm safe and hidden. My husband, who has been conceal carrying for over a decade, said that I would have to adjust my clothing options if I was serious about conceal carry. I don’t know about you, but I was not happy with the idea of having to change my style of clothing, to a possible bigger, baggier, clothing style for conceal carry. After some time playing around with my current wardrobe, I am pleased to report I have many outfits that I can conceal carry very easily. Now, when I go to the store to buy new clothes I ask myself, “Can I easily conceal carry in this?” If my answer is no, then I look to buy something else.

Not a good conceal carry option for me
Not a good conceal carry option for me

I’ve read many articles that talk about downsizing your gun in the summer to still conceal carry. Many suggest carrying a 380. What if you can’t afford to buy a new gun or don’t want to down size your current caliber? In all the pictures in this article, I will be wearing a full size or mid size Glock. This will show you, you can still dress for the weather and conceal carry a mid to full size firearm. Once you understand that you can conceal a mid to full size firearm, like a Glock, you will have no problem concealing a smaller firearm.

Another thing to think of is where you are going to be carrying. You want to be consistent with where you carry, and where you practice drawing from. To me it would be confusing to carry at a different location per my outfit choice. I would hesitate when the time came to draw my firearm. Where is my gun at today? Is it on my thigh, in a belly band, strong side holster or appendix carry. If you need or want to carry in another position, remember to practice drawing from that position so that you can be efficient and consistent .


This is a normal button up shirt, it’s not baggy or a larger size then I normally wear. I did need to be more conscious when I bent over with this setup, because you could see the bottom of the holster. If someone was staring at my butt, at that moment, they would see the bottom of the holster, maybe that would make them stop though. I wouldn’t normally wear a Glock 17 but if I need to, I have clothing options that would work with it.

Volund GearWorks ATLAS belt, Dark Star Gear kydex holster, Glock 17
Volund GearWorks ATLAS belt, Dark Star Gear kydex holster, Glock 17

This is one of my favorite shirts, I have it in two different colors. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work because it’s a very shear shirt. But with the right gear you can’t see anything. Since this type of shirt is thin, it works well on hot days. I do recommend a IWB holster with a sweat guard so you don’t have any pinching or rubbing from the gun.

ATLAS belt, IWB kydex holster, Glock 19
ATLAS belt, IWB kydex holster, Glock 19

This shirt has a elastic bottom which makes it gather. This actually makes it a great conceal shirt. I can OWB carry without having the holster show, since the elastic gather hooks under the holster, it keeps everything in place, even with movement. There was no imprint difference with OWB or IWB carry.

ATLAS belt, IWB kydex holster, Glock 19
ATLAS belt, IWB kydex holster, Glock 19

Tank Top & Shorts:

This tank top is fitted in the back and I had no way to carry in my normal strong side carry. I thought I would try Appendix carry since this shirt gathers a little in the front. Also, to show another position for conceal carry. At first I didn’t think Appendix carry would be comfortable with the mid-size Glock 19. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and easy it was to conceal with Appendix carry. I was so excited about the possibilities of concealment, with Appendix carry that I tried on many of my more fitted shirts. They worked much better with Appendix carry. I will definitely be exploring this carrying position a lot more in the future.

Appendix carry is something my husband is leaning towards. One thing that is very important with Appendix carry, is to get a quality Appendix carry holster.

Appendix Carry
Appendix Carry

Skirt options:

Who would think I was carrying a mid size firearm wearing a pencil skirt? I have several skirts that have belt loops, I thought why not try my gun belt with them.  I noticed with my current IWB holster, and Glock 19, wearing it with my skirts didn’t work well. My skirts either sit on my hips or high almost to my belly button without a holster. With my IWB holster my firearm was sitting too high on my back, or making my skirt fit weird. With the OWB holster, it was much more comfortable and my firearm was easier to access.

ATLAS belt, OWB kydex holster, Glock 19
ATLAS belt, OWB kydex holster, Glock 19

My Jean skirts all have loops too, which means a gun belt and holster will work well. Most women have a few cardigans in their closets. A cardigan is great for conceal carrying, just throw one on over any shirt and your good to go. I recommend buttoning up a few of the bottom buttons, you wouldn’t want your shirt to move and show your gun.

ATLAS belt, Dark Star Gear kydex holster, Glock 19
ATLAS belt, Dark Star Gear kydex holster, Glock 19

Wish list:

I am looking for a good conceal carry purse, for when I wear a dress. I would also like a belly band holster, for clothes that I can’t securely use a holster with. I’d like to try a pair of compression shorts. I’ve read good things about them, not sure if they are a gimmick or actually a good item. I’m also going to be in need of my own Appendix carry holster. I think my husband has created a monster… I now understand his constant researching and looking up new gun items on line. Maybe we will have to work out an agreement each new gun item he gets, I get one too.

ATLAS belt, IWB Holster, Glock 19
ATLAS belt, IWB Holster, Glock 19


Warmer weather is no reason to stop carrying your firearm. Hopefully I’ve been able to show that you can still carry your mid/ full size firearm even with less clothing on.  It is important to remember, without the proper quality equipment (i.e. gun belt, holster) you are not going to conceal well.  In all the pictures in this article I am wearing a dedicated conceal carry gun belt and quality kydex conceal holsters.

Personally, I am happy I can carry for protection and still keep my style.


Townsend Whelen On Long Range shooting and Fighting

The chapter below is from Townsend  Whelen’s book  Suggestions to Military Rifleman.  The book was written when the 1903 was still new, but most of it is still very relevant and worth reading.
Long Range
By: Townsend Whelen

“There are many good short-range men, who have simply not got the necessary brains nor education for first-rate long-range work; and there are very few officers capable of teaching it well, or who ever had half a chance to learn it.” — Tippins, in Modern Rifle-Shooting.

The above quotation, from one of the greatest English experts, applies with equal force to our own service. It is not so much that long-range firing differs from short or mid-range work, as that the laws which apply to short and mid-range apply with equal or greater force to long range, and while one or two factors may be disregarded and still not spoil a mid-range score, yet the overlooking of a single thing will play havoc at 1000 yards. It will be seen that to apply all the principles and rules so far laid down in this work requires a thorough knowledge of them, a quick and active brain, good eyesight, and a good body; and also, it might be said, a good education. These are, then, the essential qualities of a good long-range shot. Eliminate any one of these, and we will in all probability eliminate also the good scores.

Long ranges are classified as those between 600 and 1000 yards. Practically, however, there is little difference between the care necessary to make a creditable score at 600 yards and that necessary at 800 yards. The real difference comes when one retires to 1000 yards; therefore the following remarks will pertain more particularly to that range.

The rifle is the first consideration. The muzzle of the bore must be perfect to give the necessary accuracy. The bore must be smooth and free from rough places and rust, which would make it foul quickly with cupro-nickel. The barrel must be kept in perfect condition with the metal fouling solution, as directed in Chapter II.

The rifleman must do his own part perfectly. His hold must be steady and exactly the same at each shot. The same amount of tension should be placed on the gun-sling for each shot, and the elbows should lie in the same holes. The aim should be as correct as the eyes can see to make it. Canting or leaning of the sights must be carefully guarded against, as a hardly visible cant will carry one from the bull’s-eye into the “two space” on the target. And lastly, and most important, the pull must be perfect for every shot. The least little unsteadiness or jerk in the trigger-pull will cause a miss almost every time.

Every refinement must be used. The micrometer, telescope, and score-book are especially necessary. One may get an occasional good score without these aids, but his average work will be very poor indeed. By referring to the table on page 86, it will be seen that when using service ammunition and not using the micrometer the radius of the shot group will be about 35.17 inches. Of course, all the shots will not fly as wild as this, but every little while one will, and this one often is a miss, or else it causes one to think his sighting is wrong and plays the mischief with the score generally. Individuals, and organizations shooting at long range without the micrometer will find that scores of 25 to 30 out of a possible 50 is about the best they are able to average. If, however, the micrometer is used, we eliminate the error in sight-adjustment and the radius of the shot group is reduced to about 18.9 inches. The average scores of good shots at 1000 yards under these conditions will be found to run from about 35 to 42 out of a possible 50. Service ammunition made in lots of millions of rounds cannot, of course, have the special attention given to it during manufacture which makes special match ammunition so accurate. Service ammunition gives a mean vertical deviation at 1000 yards of about 8.9 inches, and the special match ammunition used by the American Bisley Team in 1908 gave a deviation of only 5.29 inches. This difference is enough to cause the best shots of the country using the latter ammunition to average 47. to 48 out of a possible 50 at 1000 yards, and with this ammunition perfect scores of 50 at 1000 yards have become very common. Therefore, at long range, to get good results, you must use a micrometer and the most perfect ammunition you can obtain.

A good telescope or powerful field-glass is also essential. Small changes in mirage drift must be watched for, quickly determined; and allowance made for them. This is especially necessary in fish-tail* winds.

*Fish-tail winds are those coming from the general direction of 6 or 12 o’clock, but which are constantly changing from 5 to 7 o’clock, or from 11 to 1 o’clock. The flag flutters from one side to the other continuously, and it only through the glass that one can gain a true estimate.

The score-book is very necessary at long range, in order that one may keep accurate records of elevations and weather conditions. These change so often, and the change amounts to so much at long range, that any attempt to keep these in the head soon results in confusion and drives everyone to the score-book.

You must have a thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer, and must use them, it is not necessary to bring them to the firing-point, but they should be read shortly before firing. A man may use an elevation of 1025 yards at the 1000yard range one day, and the next day his correct elevation may be only 900 yards. If he has no instruments and does not know how to use them, it may take him from five to fifteen shots before he gets a hit on the target. Many men’s qualifications as sharpshooters and expert riflemen are ruined from this cause.

A score previously fired at 800 yards does not always give a true indication of what the elevation will be at 1000 yards. Often one will fire and make an excellent score at 800 yards with his normal elevation, and on immediately going back to 1000 yards he may find that at that range he has to use 4 or 5 minutes of elevation above or below normal.

It occasionally happens that elevations worked out according to all the rules are not correct. It is here that the experience of the old and seasoned long-range shot comes in. He seems to know by instinct which way to move to get a hit. About the best way to become proficient at long range is to get such a man for a coach.

In some localities scores at long range will be found to average quite high despite the absence of all refinements. This will be found to be the case where weather conditions vary but little during the shooting season. Thus, in certain parts of the Philippine Islands and in California, and at certain seasons of the year and time of day, the thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer will be found to have almost the same readings day after day. Here the inexperienced shots are able to do very good work at long range. They find the correct elevation, and as long as they keep their rifles clean, and use the same ammunition, they can stick to that elevation during their whole season’s practice. On the majority of ranges in our country, however, during the shooting season, we are liable to have changes in temperature of 30 degrees, changes in barometer of 3/4 of an inch, and changes in hygrometer of 40 per cent; and these may make differences in elevation at 1000 yards of 150 yards, or 10 to 15 minutes.

“Unaccountables” are shots which either miss the target or else hit it in a quite different spot from what was expected, and their deviation from the rest of the shot group cannot be accounted for. A true “unaccountable” is usually due to a faulty cartridge, but one has to be a very good shot indeed before he can truly blame a bad shot on the ammunition. Very often unaccountably bad shots are more liable to be small errors in pull-off, small changes in mirage, wind, or light, etc., which have escaped the rifleman’s notice. With ammunition giving a large vertical deviation “unaccountables” are more liable to occur than with the more recent accurate loads. One may, for instance, aim a little high without noticing it, and then pull off a little high, and the shot may be one of those striking at the top of the shot group, in which case the shot may go over the top of the target, and lead one to think he has had an “unaccountable” shot when such is really not the case. With the recent great improvement in ammunition and the almost universal use of the micrometer, the word “unaccountable” has almost disappeared from the vocabulary of the really expert shot.

It is of little use attempting to get accurate results at long range when the targets are marked with the big old-fashioned marking disk. One must know exactly where his shot hits the target. The alternative method of marking, with shot marks or “spotters,”* as prescribed in the latter part of Paragraph 103, Small-Arms Firing Regulations 1906, should be used exclusively.

*Spotters are small .30-caliber pegs or nails with a round head of card-board or tin. The spotter is inserted in the bullet-hole of the last shot fired and the card-board head is seen by the rifleman when the target is raised after being marked. Black card-board is used to mark shots which hit in the white of the target, and white cardboard for the bull’s-eyes. The card-board should be about 6 inches in diameter for long range and 3 inches for mid range. Field-glasses are needed to see them. This system of marking is used exclusively in the National Matches, and at Camp Perry and Sea Girt.

To sum up, the following precautions should always be used in long-range firing:

1. Keep your barrel in perfect condition.
2. Use a micrometer and the best ammunition you can get.
3. Read the thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer before starting your score, and figure out your elevation.
4. Watch the flags and mirage closely before each shot.
5. Remember that a perfect pull-off only will hit the target.


Trijicon ACOGs as used by the US Military.

I am a big fan of the ACOG.  Trijicon’s prism powered fixed 4X scope is hard to beat.  I love ACOGs and it has been a hobby of mine to buy them cheap and later sell them for a profit.  Just Wednesday, I picked up a M150 ACOG, which got me thinking about models of ACOGs used by out military.

The military has experimented with some various models of ACOGs, but these are the main models it has fielded.

TA01NSN  The “4X DOS” Day Optical Scope is a fixed four power scope with a bullet drop reticle calibrated for the M855 round in the M4 out to 600 meters.  This model is still very popular in and out of the military.  The 01NSN has a more traditional crosshair with amber tritium illumination and has the very noticeable back up iron sights on top of the optic.

A TA01NSN with its rear sight replaced with a Docter mini-red dot and the mount replaced with a Larue QD mount.

TA31F  Adopted by the U.S.M.C. as the ACO.  The TA31 has additonal fiber optic illumination to add to the tritium in the optic.  The bullet drop reticle features a bright red chevron and goes out to 800 meters.  The BDC is averaged to work on both the M4 and the M16.  The ACO was replaced with the RCO model in the U.S.M.C., but ACO’s were still in use as long as they were serviceable.  One of the Motor T Marine I knew was issued a TA31F in 2006.

A TA31F, showing the lack of back up iron sights, and the prominent fiber optic tube.

TA31RCO  Replacing the TA31F “ACO”, the U.S.M.C. adopted the “Rifle Combat Optic.  Two models were purchased, a TA31RCO-M4 and a TA31RCO-A4 for the M4 and M16A4 respectively.  The RCO model is a TA31F calibrated for a carbine or rifle firing M855 and additional 10 mil lines were added to aid Marines in adjusting indirect fire.  I used a RCO-A4 while I was in Iraq.  Externally the TA31F and the RCO ACOGs are the same.  Adopted in 2003, the U.S.M.C. bought over 100,000 of these.

An RCO-A4 with kill flash in a Larue RCO QD mount sitting next to a rifle.

TA01ECOS  SU237/PVS  SOCOM adopted a newer model to replace the TA01NSN.  The ECOS ACOG was a TA01NSN that was tan, and had a reticle that included a BDC from 700-1000m for the M249.  The back up sights were mounted offset, allowing for a piggyback Docter sight to be mounted.  Around the time this was adopted, SOCOM also adopted the Elcan Specter DR, which has kept this model from being seen in use much.  One picture shows that some of these had the Docter and offset irons removed and the TA01NSN irons installed when issued to servicemen training to be SEALs.  The 1/3 MOA adjustments of the standard ACOGs were replaced with a capped 1/2 MOA turret that also increased the water resistance of this model over standard ACOGs.

A TA01ECOS showing the piggyback tan Docter sight, offset back up front sight, kill flash, and the ARMS mount.

M150  The Army’s answer to the Marines RCO is the M150.  The M150 uses a BDC that should work with the M4, M16A4, and the M249.  It comes with a kill flash and a laser filter(laser filter not included in the civilian model).  The parallax is set for 300m instead of the normal 100 for other 4x ACOGs.  The M150 also has the red chevron 800m BDC reticle like the TA31F and RCO models.  Mine is new enough that I haven’t taken photos of it yet.

TA11SDO  Reletivly new compared to the others, the Squad automatic weapon Day Optic (SDO) is a 3.5 power ACOG based off the TA11 series.  Adopted by the U.S.M.C. in 2010 for use on the M249 and the M27 IAR, this ACOG has longer eye relief, a horseshoe reticle , piggyback RMR mini-red dot, and Larue mount.

Some of the 6x ACOGs have been fielded for use on the medium and heavy machine guns, but rarely are those discussed.