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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While not gun related, I would like to take a moment to thank WordPress for making it so easy to start a blog. The process has been quick and they have good guides to get you started. Changing and editing settings, getting a domain, and all these other little things are handle simply and efficiently. If you are thinking about starting a blog, look into WordPress.com.
Now that the magpul DVDs have been out for a while and it seems everyone has seen them, I have noticed a few common ideas about them people seem to have especially on internet forums. A lot of people I talk to about them seem to miss some of what I think is the real point and value of them. they obviously can not substitute for real hands on training, but they do have some real benefit despite what some say. Mainly I think the point lost on a lot of people is the video really help with weapons handling and manipulation. Even if you are a long time AR15 user, you can learn some pretty good stuff, even if you do not adopt their procedures it gets you thinking ( if you have enough brain) about cleaning up your own sloppy actions.
If you do choose to use their version of each operation its still some good stuff. Its in style now to rag on them and make all the useless and pointless tier 1 jokes in a worn out attempt to be sarcastic, but in doing so, some real chances to learn are lost. I for one have become a lot smoother with my weapons manipulations and have even modified some of what they teach to better fit me. You do not have to do it exactly their way but it is a great starting point for basic manipulations and smoothing your own self out.
Another thing people seem to get the wrong idea bout is speed, or how fast they can put 5-10-20 whatever rounds out. We have seen a lot of guys shooting at ranges who seem to think the point is to get the mag half empty in 3 seconds even if they hit the dirt 5 feet in front of them!! The videos do not demand 1 MOA groups on target, but a balance between speed and accuracy that is good but not slowfire at the NM good. But it seems that because it is so cool to see those two guys dumping rounds on target in seconds people just forget you also need to actually hit with those rounds. The more the offender seems to blaze away at a break neck speed, the worse they were at just plain marksmanship to start with. The idea being forget precise shooting I will just do a mag dump! Few seem to want to train smooth a slow so they never gain the speed that comes through the repeated movements done correctly.
If you are any thing like me, you have likely went through more then one PC looking for the “perfect set up” for everyday use. After going through a CIRAS and a few other PCs, I kept noticing the same problem for me. Too big, kinda heavy and more MOLLE space then I really needed which made me prone to add too much to it. After looking around for a few months I ran across PC that intrigued me, the TAG Banshee. I ordered one up and after a few days, I had one in my sweaty little paws.
A few years ago I decided that I wanted to run a PC as slick as I could be still have some ammo on it so I could at least toss it on and have mags ready to go even without a sidearm. And to add to that, I wanted it to set up high enough I could wear a war belt with a side arm not in a drop leg and still be comfy. And, to be able to throw the PC on over a regular belt with EDC on and still be fine an able to give me full range of movement.
As you can see Banshee is nice and compact enough to fill this roll for me. I stand at 5 foot 8 inches tall and weigh about 150 pounds so this PC is perfect for my intended use. The front has room for a triple mag pouch which can hold 3 to 6 mags. The Banshee also comes with a cummerbund that is removable and covered in MOLLE webbing. They can be opened up via velcro to add soft armor panels for side protection or side SAPI plates and soft armor.
Side panels can be removed easily and side side buckles used instead like most other PCs made much the same way. This can come in handy if you really want to run slick and have no use for the sides. In some cases they would serve no real purpose if empty other then to make you hotter and get in the way of a pistol drawstroke depending on how you may have gear set up.
The Banshee will fit a pretty wide range of plates with plenty of room left over for soft backers. Users with XL size plates may find it snug and they made not fit, I have no XL plates on hand to test this out myself, but I have heard that some people had trouble. I use small size ESAPIs myself and they fit almost perfectly with room left over for backers.
The quality and construction of the Banshee is just top notch, After using it all fall in a variety of weather ranges and clothing layers, it has worn pretty nice. It seems to barely be noticeable even when fully loaded down and never have I felt over heated or restricted in movement even with larger coats on under it. The stitching is strong and the webbing has stayed stitched on after hours of my fiddling with it trying to decide what I want, and where I want it. I also noticed no wear after several days of the extended latch of my BCM gunfighter charging handle rubbing on the same spot over and over. It washed off pretty easy as well, even covered in gravel dust held in place with slip2000 weapons lube from my weapon. The shoulder pads are easily adjusted and are also comfy though some guys will buy shoulder pads anyway.
The front top four webbing rows are covered in velcro front and back for name tags, patchs or any thing else you feel needs sticking to you. I think it was a pretty nice touch even some may not like the fact its a solid color instead of camo for those who order one in multicam or ATACs etc. One thing to think about is how bad it may wear out in the future and become useless. If you worry about that kind of thing I have seen pics on the web of guys removing the velcro.
The front also comes with the built in pouch that is pretty common, you can stick a knife, map, or maybe even a small handgun inside.But I found it a PITA to get open. But, it hurts nothing and could be pretty handy if needed.
The Tag Banshee is the best solution I have found for my uses. I highly recommend one for anyone. the catch is though if you are a big fellow, this may not be for you. Im only 5 foot 7 inches and 150 so this fits me perfect. So keep this in mind if you are a lot bigger then me or at least search for pics on the web of other guys wearing one that may be bigger then me to get a better idea oh how it could fit you. One warning though, the banshee has been popular of late and a lot of people have been waiting on one they ordered since before November of 2011. So it may be a long wait until those back orders are filled. But hey, that is a pretty good sign its good stuff, otherwise no one would want them. The best part is they can usually be had for under 150 bucks!