Ranges Notes

Had a Colt 6920 with a Trijicon TA31-MRD ACOG and a Spikes 5.45 with a TA31-ECOS ACOG side by side at the range today.  Both were zeroed using the 300m point of aim at 25 meters.  Later that day, both were used to shoot at a steel target at 565 yards(about 500 meters).  The Colt using M855 ammo and the ACOG calibrated for that ammo was right on for elevation when using the 500m mark.  However when shooting at 500m with the 5.45 and an identical 5.56 Bullet Drop Chart reticle, the 5.45 corresponded to the 400 meter mark on the BDC.

It was interesting to see how much flatter the 5.45 was flying compared to the same zero at the M4.  I’ve never been able to find good data on the ballistic coefficient of the 5.45 7n6 rounds, or readable info on its trajectory.

Mark Serbu and the BFG-50A

Mark Serbu with BFG-50A

On Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Serbu and getting to fire a couple of shots through the new Serbu BFG-50A semi-auto .50 cal rifle.  I was already familiar with his products as the Serbu Super-Shorty shotgun is often seen at the local machinegun shoots and in the occasional movie.

Serbu was function checking and breaking in some rifles that his company was getting ready so ship out.  While his BFG-50 bolt action has been on the market for a while, the semi-auto 50A is relatively new.  Firing this .50 was very pleasant, but it does provide bystander with a good bit of blast from its effective muzzle break.  It uses the same mags as the Barrett M82/M107.  Couple of the best things about the BFG-50A is that it is lighter, and cheaper then the Barrett semi-auto .50s.  Sadly, due to high-winds knocking down target frames, we did not get to see how well the BFG-50A groups.  I look forward to seeing more of these at the range.

Thanks to Mr. Serbu for answering my questions and letting me take his picture.  He indicated that he is working on a pistol for his next project.

More information about Serbu’s products can be found at Serbu.com

On Back Up Sights

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.

Got to try out a SCAR-H

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.

Any one else have any issues zeroing the FN SCAR?

Springfield SOCOM II quick review

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.

5 shot group 168 grain match

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

On Throwlevers

For rifles like the AR15 I prefer to have my optics on quick detach (QD) mounts.  These are useful for a number of reasons including, the ability to quickly remove a damaged optic, quick access to iron sights, and being able to switch optics for different roles.  Accessories also benefit from being QD so I can add and remove bulky bipods, lights, forward grips easily.  The only real downside to quality QD mounts is the price.  For me, the price is easily justifiable when I can take off the Aimpoint from one of my AR15s, and put on an NightForce scope and a bipod, and retaining my previous zero.

For optics mounts, I recommend LaRue Tactical.  Their mounts have worked well for me.  Recently I have been using ADM mounts on my bipods and while I find I have to adjust the mount to fit each rifle’s rail each time I move it, it works well.  I didn’t like the new Surefire throw lever on their newer lights as I would accidentally bump it and it would come loose.  I do not recommend ARMS mounts due to their being either too loose or too tight on various brands of uppers.

On the SA80/L85

Every so often on firearms forums I see people talk about how great the L85/SA80 is, and how much of a shame it is that no one sells them in the United States.  They then proceed to claim that if someone were to offer a semi-auto version, they could make a fortune off all the guaranteed sales.

To put it bluntly, they are wrong.  When I was in the Corps, I got to cross train with the Royal Marines.  They got to try out our M16A2s, and we tried their SA80s.  We have the better rifle.  Most of the appeal of  of the SA80 is due to our not being able to buy one.  Other then that, it is crude, heavy, bulky.  The SA80 is around 11 pounds unloaded with SUSAT optic.  While it balances well when shouldered, that is still plenty of extra weight to carry.  This rifle isn’t all that good looking too, the design is rude and crude.  Mag changes are slow and awkward, more so then other bullpups.  If these were to be sold in the U.S., some people would buy them for fun or collection, but most would turn it down due to its weight, poor appearance and controls, and the higher cost of a less common rifle.

Colt nostalgia / Black Dog machine QC Fail

Waaaaaay  back before I hit puberty, I made sure the 1st thing I did before I worried about girls was to make sure I had a colt AR15.  Being a college kid later on I was like every other college kid, I was poor. Liking guns plus  being poor equals only one thing.  22 Long rifle.   In an effort to get more out of my AR15 trigger time, I found and quickly bought  this colt .22 conversion kit.

22LR
colt conversion kit

well, not this one, but one just like it.  The first one I had was identical.  I shot it thousands of times and it never failed me.  It was a dream come true for a kid that could not afford new 5.56 ammo and had no way to get surplus ammo. It was easy to put in, take out and needed little cleaning, The only down side was the one 10 rounds mag that came with it.  Later one, once I got older and got a job and a little money, I lost interest in it and sold it off.   Fast forward to a few years ago when ammo prices  skyrocketed.  Conversion kits sprang up every where and became hugely popular again.  This made me remember my humble old colt conversion kit and all the fun I had with it.

After looking around online and spending a little money I managed to get two more of my fun little buddies.  I even got lucky enough to find an extra mag. 30 rounds!!! and I only had to reload 2 times!! But, one was in such good shape I just opened it and made sure it was fine. The other became the work horse for plinking.

new and used
NIB with used

After using the kit for fun I started thinking in terms or using it to train with in place of 556 ammo, and of course in doing so, the 10 round factory mags just would not cut it.  Around the time I started thinking this, a company known for making 25-30 round mags for various conversion kits became known to me. The company is Black Dog Machine. They had a rep for making some pretty good stuff an I wished for a 30 round mag for my ancient colt kits. One day on a gun board they maintain a forum in, the rep posted they would be selling a mag to fit my beloved kit soon. about three years passed before  they actually had something ready. Sadly it was billet aluminum and was 60 bucks a pop. Waaaay to high for me to bother with. i mean 60 bucks a mag? Who would? That is 6 USGI mags. But they did promise a plastic mag that would soon follow. A couple of years later it finally did, and it was priced right so I got on the phone and ordered one.  When it finally arrived, I popped in my kit and loaded the mag. Went outside and went to chamber a round and ….FTF..   tried again..FTFeed again.   I did manage to get  maybe three rounds in a row to fire and cycle but had a lot more problems.  SO after waiting for around three years for this mag, when I got it, it was a complete piece of garbage.

colt kit with working colt mags and garbage BDM mag

I tried to Email the company to see if I could get help. Nothing. After a few emails and phone calls and even IMs on ar15.com  I still have gotten no response from them. I do not know if they do not sell enough to feel the need to service these mags or what, but I was very let down.  Looking at the mag which holds around 25-28 rounds, it has some nice features. It is solid, has steel feed lips, the ability to take spring tension off for easier loading and just feels well made. It however, does little more then look awesome. Now, I have used the BDM in other brand conversion kits and they did fine. But this mag is so out of spec its crazy. The kit is not the problem  because it works with all the factory mags and they are what the BDM tries to copy. The factory mags are built like tanks and are  the very definition of reliable.  Sadly to this day no one at BDM has deemed it, or me worthy of a response to help me fix the mag. I do not want a refund, I want a hi-cap mag for my Colt conversion kit. But I suppose it is not to be, and BDM will have no more of my money.

Now for the kit itself, if you can find them they do not work with the old airforce mags, the ceiner kits or the old military conversion kit mags. They always come with a 10 rounder though since it was intended for plinking and hunting.  You will not get benchrest accuracy out of any conversion kit and a 1/7 twist does less to help, but thats not the point.  However, it is squirrel hunting accurate within 25 yards with a SP-1 or M16 1/12 twist barrel.  Mine have never let me down ( not counting the BDM mag) and have been the 1st rounds fired by my girl friend and younger kids. If you can find one of these fine old Colt kits and the price is right, I highly recommend it. It will be a lot of fun thats cheap to shoot and a nice example of colts past and the early days of the AR15 making its first inroads to the sporting/civilian world.