5.56 Timeline

EXCALIBUR !! ( at least my modular version)

A while ago I posted up the details on my person work horse carbine. it was called “A boy and his AR15” and I had used the setup in the article for a long time.   But, being human, there is always something else I wished I could tweak and that was the color. And of course a few new products came along.  When Colt Defense started selling carbines with anodizing other then Milspec black, I became interested. When I saw they offered the 6920 I really paid attention. After the FDE anodized 6940 was offered,I immediately lusted for it.  I like black fine but lets be honest, it stands out like..well,, black.  Fashion sense aside, black stands out like a sore thumb and the other earthy colors blend in better over all and especially when being carried by some one in camo, trying to keep a low profile.

So, I got one and immediately started switching all my user preferences over to the FDE carbine once its reliability was confirmed to my satisfaction.


Now of course, there have been a few changes since my original article and not just the finish of the gun. A few very, very worth having products came out. I tried them and decided with no hesitation , that they are worth upgrades that do enhance your performance.  So, as a updating on the original break down on my hard use carbine, I will detail my current set up.


Starting with this picture you can see I swapped the Tango Down battle grip out for the BCM gunfighter MOD ) grip.  The new almost straight angle is all the rage these days and to be honest, it really is worth it.  It is not a must have, but it does give a more straight rear ward pull for the trigger and it is more comfortable.  It also offers a lot more storage space inside  over the TD and you can get it in a couple different versions.  Also new is the Tactical Link sling mount just behind the castle nut and it bolts onto the receiver extension. It is plastic, but it has stainless bushing that every thing screws into. It is solid and easy to use. It gives a nice QD sling point with no alteration of the factory parts. That is something I like a lot. I feel no need to screw with certain parts of a factory carbine. I am of the strong opinion that Colt knows more about how to make a AR15 then I do.  You can read y review of it else where on the website.   The other new tactical Link part is the EBAL.  Which is a Battery assist lever. To make a long story ( that you can read the full story else where on the site)  it is what the magpul BAD lever wishes it could be.  It is a superior product to the BAD lever in every way.  And you can get it in other colors then black if that matters to you.

The charging handle is no longer the medium  BCM Gunfighter. It is  now the smallest model they offer.  I still found the extended version a little too big for me and had it catch and drag on too much of my gear.  The smallest is indeed the sweet spot I was looking for.


Above the charging handle is the Knights armament micro BUIS.  Howard and I have a definite preference for the KAC sights, and a lot of other KAC products.  There is zero chance I will ever use a BUIS not made by KAC.  The mag release is the Norgon ambi catch and I use the geissele ssa trigger.  I use this trigger in two carbines now.  It is nice to have, but make sure you master your gun and the basics before you worry about lighter match type triggers. They do not make the gun or you more accurate.


The same could be said for the ambi safety. I use the KAC ambi safety and see little chance of me changing it out. Even the Colt model ambi safety current issue to the military offers no improvement over the Knights I see worth swapping to. The KAC safety is modular and comes with three different pieces. The scalloped right side I use, a full length right side and a piece that replaces the right side and makes it single side only. I love it and feel it is as imperative to have a ambi safety on my carbine as much as I want it on my side arms.


Moving forward. I still use the Aimpoint T-1 with the  near perfect Larue mount. But, now, I also use the IO  Tango down  T1 cover. I also use the KAC over sized battery cover/brightness setting knob on the T-1 to make it easier to adjust in all conditions.   I also use the Norgon ambi catch that can be seen on the lower as well as the  KAC QD sling point mounted to the rear of the monolithic rail.


The front of the gun has my light of course. I use a Surefire Scout light in the original mount but with the addition of the Vampire head for white light and IR light to work with my PVS-14s.  I use the remote surefire SR07 switch to operate the light. It snaps onto the a rail adn gives you a pressure switch and a clicky on/off button all built in together. This is also something I dearly love.  I use the Larue index clips to route the wire and hold it in place as well as cover all the area of the rail not being used.   I would use the KAC rail panels but they will not work on the 6940 rail without modification and they are not as customizable as the Larue clips.


Another change I recently made is the use of the Tango Down stubby VFG. I was sent one of them by TD to to write about and found I like it better then anything else I have tried. So now it is standard for me.


To work with the Vampire head for the scout light is my PVS14.  I use the PVS on the carbine or head mounted depending on what I am doing. The T-1 works perfectly with the NOD when turned to the NV setting and the vampire head acts as a flood light that only NVG can see. I use the standard rifle mount for the PVS14 so far and since I wear it on my head more then the rifle, I find it does all I need it to do.


As before, my buttstock is the Magpul CTR. There are a lot of stocks out there now, but it is still hard to beat the CTR.  For a carbine I like it the best if I am trying to keep the gun light and use a red dot.  For anything else, I will use the SOPMOD  or EMOD with a bias to the SOPMOD.   I love the CTR for carbines though and its ability to lock up is something I really like.


Not something on the gun, but something I feel strong about enough to mention. The Lancer AWM mags are the finest mags I have used, and I have used a lot.  It is hard to beat the good old Pmag, but the AWM is the next step in the evolution of mags to me, with its polymer and steel mixed to give one helluva tough mag. I could rant on how great I think these are all day, but I am too lazy and I risk being beaten by the magpul fanatics who refuse to try anything else.


As always, my sling is the Vickers Combat applications sling with QD swivels. I have switched to the padded version recently.  I like the padding, but the sling is made cheaper without the metal hardware the older models had. I find this a huge let down.  It can be fixed partly by using the metal triglides from a issue sling, but the tri glide that allows you to yank on it to lengthen the ling is no longer metal and can not be replaced.  Big let down to me.

Thats it. My tastes stay close to the same and I use what works best for me. I rarely change from something I find works great and is absolutely dependable. It has to really impress me before I will change over to something newer. But sometimes obvious upgrades do come along and I am not afraid to try new things.  The 6940 is a standard Colt except for the FDE anodizing and it is anodizing not duracote or paint.   Everything is the same Colt quality with a Monolithic upper with rail and milspec barrel with 1/7 twist.  Everything is the same on the 6940 other then the finish.  I am hoping we get the FDE anodized LE901 soon.  My plan is to have the FDE 901 and the FDE 6940 as a set to be used together with the adapter block and  have the 901 lower SBR’ed to use a variety of barrel lengths.  But until then I just have to wait.


Wilcox Aimpoint mount

Wilcox Aimpoint PRO


I purchased a Wilcox Aimpoint mount from TNVC.  The Wilcox mount is smaller, lighter, and slightly taller then the stock Aimpoint PRO mount(shown below).

Aimpoint PRO


The Wilcox Aimpoint mount is similar to the PRI mounts, but it is skeletonized reducing weight.

Installing the optic in the mount was pretty easy.  The battery cover had to be removed, and the top and the bottom of the mount are attached by 4 Allen head screws.

One thing I really like about the Wilcox mount is that while it is the highest Aimpoint mount I have used, you can still easilly use your iron sights in the lower third of the optic.  I find the Colt 901 sights have a nice lower 1/3 co-witness.  (Pictured is a friend of mine firing the 901 with an Aimpoint PRO in Wilcox mount.)

Colt 901 AImpoint PRO Wilcox

The Wilcox Aimpoint mount is a good solid piece of kit popularized by its used on the MK18MOD0.  However for most of us, it would not be a significant improvement over the stock Aimpoint mounts.  Personally, if you have the stock Aimpoint mount with a torque limiting knob, I think it is not worth spending the extra money on the Wilcox mount.  If you are going to spend money on an Aimpoint mount, I would recommend spending a little more and getting a Larue quick detach mount.

Combat Focus Shooting Class – A novice women’s view

Cassie Larsen submitted this article.

I had the privilege of being invited by Rob Pincus to attend a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) class with my husband. I went to the CFS class with a lot of excitement and a lot of nervousness. I knew I was in for a long day of many new firsts. Here’s a list of some of the firsts, this day would bring; My first professional shooting class. First time wearing a gun belt, wearing a mag pouch and holster. First time moving while shooting. First time drawing from a holster to fire and first time shooting more than 200 rounds in one day. With all those firsts you would think this was a horrible day for me. But it wasn’t, it was a blast. I can’t wait to take another class. I learned so much and I feel much more confident in my ability to defend myself or my children if needed.

Favorite Training Phrases directed to me, by Rob Pincus:

“Cassie is there a reason you can hit box A but not box B?”

“Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!”

“Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a startle position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!”

“What box were you told to hit? …..Left….. Ok then why did you shoot the right one?…..Um I have no idea…..Yeah me neither, now stop!”

“Cassie, I don’t know what happened during lunch, but you’re shooting better than your husband”.

"Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video"
“Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video”


The day started out with some classroom training about the philosophy of Combat Focus Shooting. The reasons why continued training, beyond getting your conceal weapons permit, is important. We also got to see a little preview of Rob’s personality and passion for what he teaches. We were only in the classroom for about 45 minutes. Part of which we also discussed range rules and filed out waivers. Also, we got to wait for a team mate who was so excited to come to the class, he jumped a curb and crashed his car.

During the classroom portion, I learned out of the 10 students in the class, I was the only one who had never been to formal gun course, either military, law enforcement or other professional class. With this knowledge I was even more nervous. “Great, now I was going to hold the whole class back.” Rob did help me feel a little better by telling the class that the only person we were competing against was ourselves. We needed to improve our best during the class. I was also the only female in the class.


In the class of 10 students, we had two instructors, Rob Pincus and Barret Kendrick. We also had a CFS Instructor that had just finished his instructor class and was observing. I was surprised in a group setting like this that we actually had a lot of one on one instruction. I was teased a lot by Rob, but it was all to help me improve. I could really feel the passion Rob has for what he is teaching. He really impressed me with how much he seemed to care about all the students improving their techniques in the class. To me it felt like he carried about us.

Rob was very articulate with his explanations, examples and instructions. Every instruction given had a reason behind it, as to why it worked and why it was more efficient than another technique. I liked being told why I was doing something, not just being told to do something. It helped me to understand the reasoning for the specific training we were doing. No matter what questions you asked in the class, both Rob or Barret were very helpful and would give multiple different suggestions or tips to help you. Both Rob and Barret would stay with me during the breaks to help identify my problems or help with additional instructions. I saw them do that with several other students as well. For me they were outstanding and I would highly recommend this class and these instructors to any shooter.

Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back
Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back


We began with shooting center mass, drawing from the holster. We were given no instructions except to shoot center mass. For me this was stressful. It was the first time I have drawn from a holster and gone through the steps of the draw on my own. Let alone not having my husband by my side, telling me step by step, what to do. I am very proud to say that I hit center mass. I also didn’t have a negligent discharge or drop my gun. After my first 20 or so rounds, I was feeling pretty confident. I was doing well, getting faster at drawing from the holster and firing fairly accurate on the target. Then Rob came over and said, ” Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!” Okay, now defeat time, but not really. That is the purpose of the class though, to improve on your shooting techniques. I had many more times during the class that I was called out for the purpose of improvement.

I actually preferred that my husband and I weren’t shooting next to each other. In the beginning of the class we were next to each other and I noticed I was watching him and looking to him for confirmation that I was doing what I supposed to. After he moved away from me, I didn’t have him as a crutch and I was able to improve in my confidence. I suggest to other women taking training classes with their significant others, to think about separating from them during the class.

Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets
Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets

Startle Response:

The Startle Response is responding to threat stimulus, then drawing and firing. The Startle Response improves with practice or repetitions, that’s why you train with it. The easiest way to explain a Startle Response without you seeing someone do it, is to have someone scare you. What you usually do is focus your attention towards the stimulus, lower your center of gravity and put your hands up to defend yourself. I initially had problems with the Startle Response during the class, it was a foreign concept for me. Even though I understand the reason behind the training for it, it was still odd for me to act startled and then draw and fire. After talking to my husband, he also had difficulty with the Startle Response, due to years of previous law enforcement training and instructing.

Startle Response
Startle Response

We went through many different drills, shooting at the A box and B box , different numbers and colors, all while using the Startle Response and movement. We were now at the portion of the class, where we were running hard from different positions and firing at different spots on the target. We were supposed to do all the techniques taught to us throughout the day. That included the Startle Response, and moving while drawing and reloading. I patiently watched the first group go through the drill and felt confident that I too, could do the drill well. I was able to stay up to speed with the guys, running from spot to spot, drawing and firing. I however was not doing my Startle Response well enough for Rob, “Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a Startle Position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!” Rob then picks up a handful of rocks. I think I had five or six rocks thrown at me before I threw my hands up in the air like the cops were yelling at me, “Show me your hands!” I did get a good chuckle from the group behind me.

Out of all the tips and help Rob gave me during the class, I think this one was my favorite. He really was pushing my personal limits, he wanted me to improve. The truth is, if I don’t practice the Startle Response, I won’t be prepared to defend myself. I’ll have to think a lot more about what I’m doing, where my hands are and what I need to do next. I might lose those important few seconds, that could save my life or more importantly my children’s.

Rob watching me
Rob watching me

Other Learning Moments:

I learned so many more things in this class. I enjoyed shooting with one hand and found it really interesting that I could hit a target without keeping my hands still. I liked that I didn’t have to line up my sights every time I shot, I could still hit the box without them, at a close distances. I learned, even in a stressful situation, I could hit the target. I realized I needed to simplify things more, I have a habit of over complicating things. Many times during the class I was thinking too much or added additional steps that weren’t needed. I was not moving as efficiently as I could be. All of the new things I learned really helped my confidence level with handling a handgun.

Funny Moment:

During the day I shot about 450 rounds. While I was loading a magazine with new ammo, my thumb locked. For over 15 minutes I was teased by Rob and Barret, trying ” field acupuncture” (poking my thumb with various non-helpful things). My lesson and advice to you is to stay hydrated on a hot day. What finally unlocked my thumb was a very cold Gatorade placed on that hand. From that moment on, I didn’t load my own mags, I had my husband do it.

Combat Focus Shooting
Combat Focus Shooting


I truly loved this class. I enjoyed meeting Rob, he was very nice, sincere and took the time to really help you one on one. I would not hesitate to take another class taught by him.

The biggest thing that came out of the class was related to my firearms confidence level. I now feel more confident in using my firearm in a stressful situation. I feel more comfortable manipulating the firearms in my home, especially when my husband is away from home.

Thank you Rob and Barret for all the information given, time spent helping me to improve my skills and my best effort.

Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen
Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen

If you want to learn more about the Combat Focus Shooting class or take one of your own visit Rob Pincus ICE training website. http://www.icetraining.us/index.html


Q&A on the AR15/M855 at 1,000 yard post.

A  few weeks ago, I posted an article where I fired at 1,000 yards using  as close to an as issued M16A2 as I can get. I used MK262 ammo and M855 to make hits while shooting iron sights only and from prone with just as sling as support.   The  Article has been popular and has had a lot of views, but with it came a lot of questions and the inevitable  uneasy feeling from people who have given advice to others for years about how near useless the 5.56 is.   Almost to the point of being offended.


A lot of people who emailed me, or commented on the subject wanting to know how it was done and my procedures etc.  After talking to a friend about it, I re read the article and realized that I should have been more clear in some parts. While the majority of people know what the point I was trying to make, some others seem to think I was trying to say something between the lines. So I am going to answer the question that have popped up from a few people since the article.

First is the assumption that I was making any claims about the terminal performance of the 5.56/M855 round or even the MK 262 at this distance.  I was not.   I simply shot  the drill as a way to demonstrate that the AR15 is capable of  accuracy and accomplishments a lot of people do not bother to imagine or try out.    I never said the 556 would knock a man down at 1K or penetrate X amount of inches.   But, a hit is a hit.   I doubt few would volunteer to be shot at 1K with a 556 to prove how wrong I am.   In the 6os a man was knocked off a bicycle from a stray 22LR shot that escaped over a range berm in Ohio.  It was over a mile from where the shooter was setting.   That does not prove a thing.  But a hit is still indeed a hit.  Even if it feels like a hornet sting, if some one is nailing you at 1,000 yards, that would demoralize me and seriously make me rethink wanting to get closer.  The SS109 was meant to fired at longer ranges in LMG use. So to claim it would not put some kind of hurt on a person is absurd.  How effective that hurt is, is another matter and not the convern of the article.

How did I see the target and what aiming point did I use to be able to hit such a target ?  That is the next common question.   It is simple.  I adjusted the front sight to account for more  elevation. I did not go out with a military 25Meter zero.   Elevation was adjusted using the front sight for the most part and I refined it with the rear since I had plenty left over to play with.   I zeroed the sights at 1,000 yard to the point I used a so called “6 oclock hold”  But actually I adjusted the sight to the point where I held the front site about 5 foot below the target.  That is why I had the steel gong painted neon orange.  I got on the steel. then moved to the paper.   It was not some impossible thing to do or a miracle.  Nor was it “flinging lead down range” ’till I got lucky

You can not get lucky if you don’t do everything right before hand.

Having the hold so far below the point of impact gave me plenty of room to see the target and light. I also could see any impacts into the dust to make windage changes or any other change I needed.  Also a spotter with a 60x spotting scope to help.

How did you do it without 80 grain  bullets with a OAL that required you to single feed?   That was where the gross amount of sight manipulation comes into play and a shooting lane between two hills blocking all but a head wind.   The 80s are great, and if you are trying to hit a X ring at perry, you will need them or the 77 grain HPBT. But with enough adjustment in your sights, you can get just about anything on target. If it is a decent weight.  Careful reading will show I shot the heavier match 77 grain load to get on target initially and had  doubts about the M855. I never said that the M855 was a wonder bullet.

What enemy did you expect to prove the M855 would kill at 1,000 yards?   A cardboard target is all I set out to prove the round would hit. Though few would really let some one shoot them at 1K with the 556 no matter how much the claim other wise.  Also when I said “lethal” hits,  I wrongly assumed people knew that most hits in the “black” of the target are considered solid hits, not anatomically correct. So yeah, my use of lethal was a slang term used in the context of the too large scoring area of military targets. And people have bled to death from groin and lung hits.  So I guess I would consider them lethal depending on the abilities and medical expertise of the enemies you are engaging.  But draw your own conclusions.  My point was to show that the AR15 in stock form will hit at 1,000 yards with good and issue ammo if you know what you are doing. Nothing more.  Furthermore, it was not just luck getting the M855 on target. It is certainly not match accurate ammo. But it is within reason to expect a decent lot of M855 to be able to hit a man.

If the article gave you more confidence in your weapon that was my goal. It does not matter if the average Marine or soldier can or can not do it. It matters what you can do with it when it is in your hands.   It does not matter if you can not imagine needing to take a shot like that. Having the skill builds your confidence and it is there on the off chance you ever need it.  Why does anyone even bother shooting at anything?

According to The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich,  confirmed kills were made in Vietnam with the M16A1 and 55 grain M193 at 800 meters.  That does not make the combo a sniper rifle or the last word on the subject, but it does show what the right combination of marksman, weapon and skill, can achieve.  Crazy long shots have been made with weapons people never dreamed  of since before  Billy Dixon  knocked and Indian Chief off his horse at the battle of Adobe Walls.   The test was done to show that no matter what you are using, you should always be confident in your skill being able to make hits that are beyond what so called experts say. And, to the limit of what the system is capable of and beyond if possible.Improved marksmanship is something to always strive for, no matter what the weapon and ammo is.  It hurts nothing to have the ability to shoot this far. Oddly enough some people are just out right offended that I did this.  As if hitting your target at such a long range is offensive to them.  It is never a waste of time to be able to hit as far as you can on a realistic sized target.


Any further  questions can be sent to the looserounds  Q&A email address or posted on the facebook page and I will try to answer them.