I was looking at a picture of the LMT MARS-L as adopted by New Zealand and I was remembering how not that long ago I read all sorts of people saying that the future of the AR was going to be monolithic uppers.
Greater rigidity, accuracy & precision, no top rail gap interfering with optics mounting, simpler and less parts, and all manner of other improvements were the reasons why the monolithic upper was the future.
I tended to point out that if the handguard got damaged, then you had to replace a whole larger more expensive assembly. Don’t get me wrong, I like monolithic uppers and I own a few.
For example this Colt LE6945 pictured has a monolithic upper.
So what was it we were suppose to have by now?
There was going to be this M16A4 Product Improved(Sometimes referred to as M16A5). This was going to be the USMC new rifle which would be a collapsing stock(Some sources said VLTOR A5, others Magpul UBR) and a VLTOR monolithic upper. It might have looked something like this:
The USMC ended up moving to the M4 and the M27 IAR. We don’t know how seriously the Corps ever really considered the Product Improved M16A4. But that didn’t stop rampant speculation by gun nuts.
Anyways I think that the ultimate customization available to the AR is what killed interest in the monolithic upper. For example some years back Noveske barrels were extremely popular on high dollar custom AR15s. The more popular monolithic uppers like the LMT MRP used proprietary barrels and so people couldn’t use what ever is the flavor the week. Similarly preferences in handguards changed. We went from people wanted a M4 barrel with KAC RAS, to a long free float quad rail, to long slick tubes. Now MLOK and Keymod are everywhere(but it looks like MLOK is winning). Someone who bought an expensive monolithic upper is locked into their choice.
I think the monolithic upper has lost out in the AR market, but I expect most any new competitor to the AR15 will likely have a monolithic upper with perhaps something like a removable or interchangeable side/bottom section.
The Hog Saddle has been out for a few years now . It was developed by a former sniper as a better mouse trap for shooting a sniper rifle when the terrain or urban environment will not allow the use of more traditional positions and methods.
The Hog saddle is a professionally done version of the home made camera tripod, foam and craddle made out of whatever the maker thought best and could get. You can google image search hundreds of picture online of USMC snipers using home made shooting tripods during the first decade of the war on terror. Mostly seen being used inside buildings in Iraq for urban sniping.
“Designed by a Marine Scout Sniper and OIF Veteran, tripod systems tailored to special operations, PRS shooters, and the modern outdoorsman.”
HOG Saddle Specs:
CNC machined from a solid block of aluminum
Black oxide stainless steel bolt and guide rods
Hard anodized finish (a resilient surface which serves as an excellent base coat for custom camouflage paint)
1/4-20 stainless steel mounting threads and 3/8-16 back up threads
CNC machined torque knob assembly with retention button screw to prevent disassembly in the field (opens 1/4in wider than previous model)
Stainless steel noise dampening tension spring
1/4 inch thick, recessed urethane pads specifically engineered to absorb rifle recoil and reduce muzzle jump
Anti-rotation slots to accept tripod QD plates that have video pins
Superior resistance to corrosion
As you can see and read from the specs above the Hog Saddle is one tough solid product. It is pretty self explanatory. You put the rifle forearm in the middle and turn the massive knob to tighten. It will tighten on a large variety of shapes including AR15 pattern hand guards. And of course it will easily accept bolt action sniper rifles.
The saddle itself attaches to a ball head mount that allows for a very flexible range of motion for just about any shooting angle need.
The ball head has adjustment knobs and markings for setting and resetting or whatever you think you need. It is pretty simple and easy to grasp quickly. As you can see below the set up will allow extreme angle shooting. If needing to take a very steep shot from the top of a 10 story building or a rock cliff, it will accommodate you.
The tripod is pretty heavy duty and its weight is appreciated when the legs are extended. As far as its adjustment it is no different than any other camera tripod in that the legs extended, they can fold in and the main beam can be raised and a nut tightened on it to hold it in place as well as rotate 360 degrees. Though this one is different in that it looks and feels like a 40mm grenade fired at it wouldn’t hurt it.
You can adjust it for standing and sitting and every where in between. You can’t get it down low enough to shoot while prone on the ground of course.
So how steady is it for shooting when standing or sitting? Well, its ok. You get the best results if you can brace the legs against something and if you can support your arms. If you rely only on it for support it is not a miracle worker. Below are some 100 yard groups shot with only the hog saddle with no other support from standing. Obviously it is not as solid as prone with a rest or bipods but it is a huge improvement. With a little extra bracing it can be extremely stable. If your job is sniping, I can say it is a piece of kit worth the money.
First time I used a Leupold CQ/T it was mounted on a friends M1A. It seemed to me an impractical combination as it was mounted really high making it awkward on the M1A and I’d much rather have more magnification on a .30 cal. That aside, I found the CQ/T rather interesting.
The Leupold Close Quarters/ Tactical is a real odd duck of a scope that really came out before its time. Before the 1-X variable power craze of nowadays, there was the 1-3x CQ/T. It is fast and easy to switch between 1x and 3x because the entire ocular section of the scope (up to the rail) rotates. The Leupold CQBSS received rave reviews for this feature, but it was in the CQ/T long before it.
Most of the CQ/T scopes have a circle dot reticle (much like the Eotech) that can be illuminated in amber or red. The circle dot is always visible. Before it was discontinued Leupold did finally make some with their CMR reticle, an ACOG like bullet drop chart(BDC).
Reticle is 2nd focal plane. It is eteched At 1x the Dot is 3 MOA and the circle is 18 inches at 25 yards (~69 MOA), at 3x the Dot is 9 MOA and the circle is 6 feet at 200 yards (~34 MOA). The math is much simpler if you round to 72 and 36 MOA which I think was the intent.
Illuminated reticle is bright, but still somewhat lacking outdoors. The adjustment has 12 positions including OFF and night vision modes. The reticle will blink if you have a low battery. I couldn’t get a good picture outdoors of the illuminated reticle so here is an indoor one.
Adjustments are a simple 1/2 covered turrets.
The “battery pack” is easily removed or secured with less than a quarter turn.
Weirdly, you have a removable container to put the battery in. If you had several you could do quick battery changes, and this also would protect the optic should the battery leak. It doesn’t slow down battery changes, but makes the process different from other optics.
The mount is rather weird. The CQ/T has a narrow section so that it can mount to an AR15 carry handle. Unlike other scopes that can do that, this one has 3 threaded holes to give different eye relief options.
The rail mount is two piece and pinches the scope to your rail. Solidly mounts the scope but makes it annoying when you are taking it off or moving it.
I am really impressed by the CQ/T and I think it is a good scope, but it is just shy of a great scope. Leupold seemed to make some odd design decisions regarding it. For example the rails on the scope, they should have either gotten rid of them, or gotten serious with low profile adjustment so that there would be a usable amount of rails. The circle is huge, I think they would have been better off with a 1 MOA dot and a 19-20 MOA circle. A mount that doesn’t get all loose and floppy when you are removing or attaching it would also have been an improvement. The battery pack was an interesting idea but could be replaced with a simpler cap. I think the biggest possible improvement would have been an illuminated horseshoe reticle with an ACOG like BDC.
I went and read some old reviews of this scope and the complaints were generally about cost, weight, size, and eye relief. I think this came out in a time when people were not used to spending a good bit of money on an rifle optic. Now people gladly spend large sums for AR optics. This scope is 17.5 oz, so it is heavy, about twice the weight of an ACOG. But to put it in perspective it is a 1/3 pound lighter than the similar Elcan Specter DR. To me it doesn’t feel overly large or heavy on an AR. Eye relief seemed fine to me, but unlike a reflex sight, you still have strict limits on where you can place your head to use it.
I put this scope on my 5.45 AR (pictured in the first picture) and did a little bit of rapid fire and shot some clay pigeons at 50 yards. I found the CQ/T to be very fast and easy to use. I like it, but I feel it is just shy of being a great optic. I would not recommend it because it has discontinued, not to mention there are now 1-6x scopes that are similar size, weight, and MSRP. I think that is a shame because I think with just a little work it could have been exceptional. Lastly, there are some being sold really cheap lately, if you want one, now might be the time to get one.
In 1993 Col introduced a new caliber into its AR15 line up. The gun was marketed as a hunters carbine chambered in 7.62×39 a round more or less identical to the .30-30 WCF.
The R6830 was a 16 inch barreled carbine . The barrel is not really what we think of as “lightweight ” these days and is closer to what many would call heavy. Probably good because the x39 round has noticeable recoil compared to the 556. The barrel does not have a chromed ore on these. The upper is a A2 fixed carry handle type.
The sights are the same as the A2 except the lack the markings found on 556mm guns since they would obviously not match.
The gun was made during that weird period before the 94 AWB and after the important ban. This was a time when a lot of pressure was put on Colt by the feds and gun rights were being pushed back. The result is this model has the sear block and no bayonet lug. But it does have a flash hider. The hider is the A1 style and not the A2 style with the closed bottom.
The bolt and barrel are really the only major changes. The carrier is the same as a standard AR15 and most other parts save the barrel etc.
The front sight base is standard with all the usual markings for its era . The only difference is of course the milled off bayonet lug. This was done in a wasted effort to get the antigun kooks to back off. Since a bayonet can not work on a 16 inch barrel carbine with a carbine length gas system, the lug is pointless anyway except for making leftists twist their panties. The front sight is the A2 post.
The Carbine also came with the A2 buttstock and pistol grip. The solid stock was a good choice I believe as it helps with the recoil and comfort for a gun meant to be sold as a hunting rifle. A 762×39 carbine AR15 with the collapsible stock is not comfortable for the casual user. The hand guards are the slimmer CAR15 type.
You will see some people online talk about how the 762×39 ARs don’t work reliably. Seems when I read this or see some one in a video talking about it, they are holding some frankenparts gun built up by bubba. The colt carbine has been nothing but reliable when using the factory mags or the one Cproducts 30 round mag I tried.
The mags that came with the gun are nothing more than 30 round mags with a blocker in it that limits it to 5 rounds and a floorplate marking it as a 7.62×39 magazine. You can see the installed block in the picture below. In a pinch you can load about 5 or 6 rounds of x39 into any AR15 magazine and it will work. Though more will cause problems due to the geometry of the commie case and the magazines not playing well together.
So how does it shoot? It shoots pretty good. It is an AR15 after all just one in a round not exactly known for being a match winner. But that can be over come some what with careful ammo selection or hand loading.
Groups were shot from bags using iron sights only. I did not have a carrying handle mount available to me for mounting a optic for precision shooting so I was limited by my own eye sight, iron sights and distance. Real accuracy with most 7.62×39 loads becomes iffy pat about 200 yards anyway and I feel it was reasonable to not shoot beyond that anyways. Handloads, factory loads and import wolf was used above for testing. This hsould give a good indication of what the gun can do and what the ammo can do depending on quality and care put into it.
I did shoot at the steel gong below at 300 yards using the iron sights and wolf ammo. All shots stayed on the steel plate. Very acceptable combat accuracy.
These 7.62×39 carbines are sweet little guns. Again, I think it was a little ahead of its time. Back then no one wanted an AR15 in x39. Especially for hunting. Most everyone was still stuck on the stupid idea that you have to use something at least .30-06 class to kill a 90 pound deer. Not that we don’t still see that today. Add to that 556 ammo was dirt cheap back then and AKs could be had. so why buy what would be considered like a premium gun just to shoot commie crap?
Now, this model isn’t the only one Colt offered. There was a 20 inch( R6851) barreled rifle with A4 “flat top “upper. There was also a flat top upper carbine ( R6850) which was sold as a complete gun or sold as the upper only as a “conversion kit” The conversion kit uppers are the ones you may have seen with “Colt 7.62×39 roll marked on the left side of the receiver. The two conversion kit uppers came with a rifle scope and mount.
If you want one of the Colt 7.62×39 carbines and can’t find the conversion kit upper models and you plan on using it, I would not hesitate to just buy a Colt A4 upper receiver from Brownells and put the barrel on it. Yes it will ruin any collector value but If you want it bad enough.. One of the flat top models with an ACOG would be one heck of a short range hunting carbine for any game you wanted to hunt and would make a nice choice for defensive use if you are one of the unwashed who still thinks the 5.56mm won’t kill a man. Recently some Colt 6940 uppers chambered in 7.62×39 have turned up for sell online. That would really be the ultimate AR upper in x39 as far as I am concerned. As you likely know I am 100 percent sold on the Colt monolithic upper guns. The free floated barrel with the 6940 barrel nut would bring out all the accuracy that could be milked, I would love to see what one would do with good ammo.
For a while during the 90s, Colt and Cmore sights worked together to bring to market optics for Colt rifles and pistols as well as some competition parts for M1911s.
The first year these optics were introduced was 1997. This is the same year the Colt Accurized Rifle CAR-A3 HBAR Elite was introduced ( CR6724). The CARA3 as you can see above, was pictured with a tactical 10x optics with Mildot and target turrets. By all accounts it was a very nice optic. Though now the idea of a fixed 10X optic wouldn’t find much favor with discerning shooters. The rings and mounts available for most users of the flat top AR15s of the of the day left much to be desired. At this point in time, few civilian shooters did not have many options available to them.
The 10x was an optic I hunted for years to acquire and have still not found one. You can see blow its features. An adutable objective lens, tactical/target turrets and plenty of internal adjustment for longer range shots. In the inserts can be seen a spotting scope and three smaller optics more suited for hunting. I have never had my hands on any of these.
Being Cmore was the maker of the optics it is no surprise that they also offered their most well known AR15 optical sight with the colt name. Pictured below is the the red dot/A2 rear sight combo. If you want more details about this sight Howard has already written about his earlier this year. While not the Colt branded one it is more or less identical. While I have seen the Cmore sight before, I have never seen the colt marked units.
You can see the cantilevered version below. Also are two other smaller optics. One a carry handle mounting optic that brings back memories of the original 3x and 4x Colt scopes and a 1x-5x variable power illuminated reticle scope. The “ring and dot” is very likely to be similar to the system used on the leupold MK AR 1x-4x optics. The 1x-5x seems a little ahead of its time since now a days a variable power optic in low magnification with a dot has become the current hot choice for carbine optics. I would love to find one of those.
You might be asking right now”did these ever hit the market or were they just advertised vaporware”? Good question and It would be reasonable to think they never sold. They did though. I have seen at least 3 pictures in the last 10 years of shooters who posted them online who have the 10X optic and a couple others. Here is an image I saved years ago of one of the 10x optics up for sell. Too late for me to buy it of course. Sad panda. It seems there was either a change to the 10x optics at some point before it was discontinued or there was more than one version of it. As you can see below this one is slightly different and doe not have an AO.
Sorry to say I don’t have much more info on this stuff for you. I wish I did. I will update if I turn up more.
I can’t seem to listen to the news with out hearing people say stupid things about the threat of 3D printed guns and how much we need laws to stop this.
This so very stupid on so many levels.
First, it is legal to build your own gun. Doesn’t matter how, you can. A push to make 3D printing guns illegal is likely to be used to try and make all home made firearms illegal.
Second, 3d printing sucks for manufacturing firearms. It would be quicker and easier to drive down to the hardware store, buy some plumbing, and use a drill press to make a gun. But 3D printing technology is getting better and better. There is a rumor mill that part of the firearm industry is pushing for these laws to help prevent them from having competition. I really hope that is false.
You can buy an AR15 for less than $400 right now, you’d be hard pressed to find a $400 3D printer that isn’t garbage for making precision parts.
Ultimately, this is about power. Some of our politicians want to give them selves the power to regulate speech and information. They are using fear tactics to get people to support the government censoring information.
A user over on the armpit of internet gun forums, AR15.com General Discussion, has made his son a wooden AK for his birthday. He some what documented his process which you can see below. All text below is his as well as his pictures( obviously). Go check the thread out for more details.
He asked if I could make it “functional”, so I figured out a rudimentary recoil spring setup and used a sliding, deadbolt kinda door lock thing I found at Home Depot for a “rail” for the bolt to slide on
Cut the threaded end off a clamp connector, glued it on my flash hider and glued the nut in my suppressor.
Mag release isn’t functional, I used a magnet inside the magwell to hold it in place.
Due to having to take my Father to a doctors appointment today and some other things, there won’t be any detailed technical article or historical writing. Instead I will be letting my mind wonder a bit and share a few things that have caught my interest over the years. I hope it will be a fun post for all. If there is any “theme” for today’s post it wold indeed be scattered shots.
A few years ago I ran across the pictures taken during the war in SE Asia. They are from a news article reporting on the young girls of RVN training to fight the communists. When ever I rear or see a video on youtube of some hot, big name expert firearms trainer ex-marine SF trooper advising people about how hard it is to control the recoil of the .45ACP and the M1911. I think of these pictures. Having spent many years around Vietnamese, I can safely bet you not a one of them is over 5foot 4 inches tall or barely break 100 pounds. ( apologies for not using the metric system for all of you who do and have yet to land a man on the moon).
Speaking of Vietnamese ladies using big bore handguns we have a great picture of Trần Lệ Xuân. Maybe better known to you as “Madame Nhu.” She was the sister in law to RVN’s first president, Diem and in this man’s opinion, both of them got a bad rap. Had the left in the US not had their way and Diem was not allowed to be killed, the country would still exist to this day. In the picture Xuân is putting on a shooting demonstration and she was well known at the time to be an excellent shot capable of rapid and accurate shooting and pulling off some impressive trick shots. She always used a large bore or magnum powered pistol for her shooting and would turn down offers for something less powerful. It was said she was a big fan of the .357 magnum.
There has been a lot of talk hereabout the M1903 Springfield rifle in the last month. Many aren’t aware of the M1922 training rifle. Developed to closely feel and look like the’03 but in .22long rifle. It has an interesting history that will have to wait for another day. Some very fine sporter rifles have been made with its barrel and action. That action by the way is ultra slick.
The RIA post about the trench guns the other day reminded me another US martial shotgun. This one used during the Vietnam war. The Remington 7188. The 7188 is/was a select fire combat shotgun used in small number mainly by the SEALS. Based on the 1100 the shotgun was of course full auto. It suffers all the usual drawbacks of using a shotgun in combat, lack of range show to reload, limited capacity and empties too fast. It would have been an amazing wall of lead while it lasted though. Combined with the “duck-bill” shot spreader, it would have wreaked havoc in close range jungle fighting..for a few seconds. Which may have been all that was needed in an ambush or to break out of one. Reliability may have been an issue in the jungle with ammo at the time. Below some one has posed the shotgun with some ERDL uniform, a Vietnam era shotgun shell pouch and bata type boots. All things that would have been used by the people who carried the 7188. While the 7188 had to bow out from history, the 1100 went on to be a classic shotgun and developed into the 11-87.
With shotguns now on my brain, I have to talk about my personal favorite sporting use shotgun. I could only be talking about the most excellent Remington Model 31.
Like many good things in this world the M31 owes its existence to John Browning. An altered version of JMB’s Remington Model 17, the Model 31 was brought out to compete against the Winchester model 12. It didn’t quite match the popularity of the Model12 and so the M870 came about and we all know how that turned out. The Model 31 action went on to be changed slightly and used as the base for the very reliable Ithaca Model 37 and a cheaper simplified version known as the mossberg 500. The model31 is in my opinion the ne plus ultra of pump shotguns. It is hard to describe to you how smooth and slick the action of a 31 is. It almost cycles itself. Mine is a 16 gauge because I don’t think it gets much better than the 16 for most hunting uses. The model 31 can be found in 12, 16 and 20. If you ever run across one, my advice is to buy it.
I don’t recall where I found this picture below. Obviously taken on some island in the pacific in WW2. Two Marines pose with their newly acquired war trophy, a Japanese officer’s chest. The now dead man’s wife in a variety of pictures stuck to the lid. The level of hate both sides had for each other in the Pacific theater is probably hard for many of current generation to understand when thinking about how close an ally Japan has been since then. I have often wondered if anyone who was shown that chest at the time paused for even a second over those pictures of some Testsuo’s wife and thought maybe they were just people too. Even monsters can love their wives. It is fascinating to me that the same military that raped or killed everyone in china it could find had officers that had such tender pictures of their own women. Just goes to show the ability of many ( and you better believe it is MANY) humans to be loving and tender with some and on the other hand still commit atrocities against other people and their loved ones as if they aren’t anything other than insects.
I have always loved the idea of the “assault kit”or the “deployment kit” when it comes to guns. You can’t take everything you have with you as bad as you wish otherwise. But, thanks to the unlimited modularity of the AR15 you can take one gun and some carefully chosen accessories with an upper or two and have the ability to tailor a rifle for several needs.
Thanks to modern tactical optic mounts, you can now have optics pre-zeroed for an upper, or just left on an upper and swap them as needed. Then, with a choice of uppers you can have a plan for several mission needs. Going inside a mud hut? Put the MK18 upper on. Maybe need to take a long range precision shot? Put your MK12 upper on. Or just swap optics around before you leave. Maybe even possible to swap optics hours or minutes before needing it depending on circumstances. Add to that kit a handgun or two, a suppressor and some odds and ends and you could put together a kit you could grab and travel with that would be very versatile. I know some like the barrel swap but this never had much appeal to me. It is a lot faster to swap uppers and changing the upper doe not require tools nor re zeroing the optic or iron sights. No one in the real world swaps barrels on a rifle/carbine or swaps uppers in the field on a “mission” anyways so size and ability to carry a spare upper compared to a barrel is irrelevant.
In the1980s it was still possible to buy some pretty neat stuff from other countries. One of those I wanted but never got my hands on was the semi auto imported Valmets.
I saw and handled a couple back then but this was before I had the money to buy one. It was the M76FS. Which is to say the folding stock model. They are as rare as hen’s teeth now a-days and I have given up on owning one unless I win the lottery but I still think back fondly on them and how close I came. I have said to Howard a few times how back then we had a much larger selection of foreign rifles, the Ar15 options were a small fraction of what we have today. I would give up those options from other countries gladly for the development that went into the AR15 and the result of it today.
Last is a picture of my assault wheelchair. I sometimes write reviews for movies at grindhousefilms.com and one of the guys over there asked if I could make him a machinegun wheel chair. I took a stab at it and produced this. Any gun person knows it is absurd and is completely non-functional but it does look cool if I do say so myself.
Sorry for the lack of a normal article or review today as I said. But I hope this was some what enjoyable for you and a fun few minutes while you are goldbricking at work. Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow.
For a while now I have thought about posting about my personal firearms. Wasn’t quite sure how I should approach the subject. I’m going to start with my Colt 733 upper.
Above is an old picture, below is a picture taken today.
Sometime about 2004-2005 CMMG got in a bunch of trade in Colt 733 uppers and sold them cheap. I thought about getting one, but waited, and missed out.
A few years back I saw a police trade in 733 upper for cheap, so I bought it. Then, of course, I found a nicer one for sale cheaper. So I bought that one also and sold the first one. This upper in these pictures is that second 733 upper I had. It is great that I can keep multiple uppers laying around and swap them out as I see fit.
The Colt 733 has a lightweight 11.5 inch barrel with a 1:7 twist. Fixed A1 sights and a brass deflector (often called a C7 upper). The bayonet lug is shaved. It came with the Colt 6 hold “CAR” hand guards (as opposed to the wider/taller M4 hand guards). This makes for a very lightweight upper. This configuration is so light and handy it feels like a toy. It was also called the M16A2 Commando. They have been used in a few movies like Black Hawk Down and Heat.
The only change I’ve made to the upper is that I replaced the A1 rear sight with a vintage military low light sight. The A1 rear sight has 2 peep apertures set for different ranges.
These old military M16 night sights were meant to be used with a Promethium 147 night front sight. This system was obsoleted with out a replacement. The large aperture opening is larger than an A2 rear sight, and is on the other side than an A2 sight. So you flip it the other direction as an A2 sight.
I like to think of my firearms as “combat ready”. But realistically many of them, such as my 10/22 are not really any where near that. But this configuration can fire modern high performance ammo, and make the hits when I do my part. This 733 short barreled rifle is something I would feel confidant to use in a fight, but it would be far from my first choice. Given the choice, I’d rather have an optic. If I could only have one AR, it would not be this. But I’m not limited, so this is a fun gun to have.
The title isn’t exact as I shot 73gr-77gr match loads. I have for a long time wanted to do comparison side by side testing of the MK 262 class loadings. The match loads using bullets around the 77gr weight are popular and they should be. The 75-80gr bullets in 556MM seated to magazine length is excellent in AR15 rifles and carbines. The 77 gr Sierra with 24.0 grains of Varget or RE-15 or Vit is a decades old and proven recipe for successful long range shooting with a service rifle. The military MK262 load is a tweaked version of same load and it has done some amazing things in the recent two wars. It is just a great load. To say I think highly of it myself would be an understatement. I prefer my handloaded version but I still use factory versions for more general purposes.
So the last few weeks a I have been accumulating factory loads to test for accuracy side by side all from the same rifle at a range that can tell us something but not so far away I am fighting wind so much that the groups lose all ability to tell us anything.
The factory loads talked about today are above. As more come out and I get my hands on more of them, I will continue with this series. I did not use the new Federal Gold Medal Match ammo with the 73 grain Bergers because I ran out and I used them all up in a previous long range testing. For the sake of completeness I will do them in the next part.
For the gun, I used my MK12 MOD 1 with my Nigtforce 22X optic. I did this because the barrel is a match barrel with a true 1/7 twist, it is sort of the rifle that helped define the MK262 and its existence during the GWOT in the minds of many people and the military MK 262 round as we know it was fine tuned to be used in the MK12. Lastly it has a 18 inch barrel, It is between the 20 inch of a full rifle and 16 inch of the carbine. I didn’t have enough of each type of ammo to test out of rifles and carbines so splitting the difference may be a happy compromise.
I shot the groups off very stable sandbags out at 400 yards. I thought about going further but the heat, mirage and wind would have made it questionable how much may have been me or weather conditions if one brand of ammo shot worse than the other. For now this will continue to be the range used for testing the match loads. If I come up with enough ammo for all brands tested after part two I may do it all over again at 600 or 800 yards if a day with good conditions comes up. All that together is a tall order though. Shooting purely for smallest group size on the few days of truly good condition is hard work. It takes time, a lot of time and patience and I have really started to feel my glasses need to be replaced with a newer pair after a trip to the eye doc. I have noticed a lot more eye strain and trouble over the last year when I do these all day long sessions shooting for smallest group.
First up is a 20 shot string using the red box Black Hills 77 grain match load. This is what I keep the MK12 zeroed with for crows. After a few adjustments I shot the remainder into the center. A great load and is more or less the real legit MK262 load.
The group below is the “white box” Black Hills 77grain match load. The same load but “factory seconds”. There is not difference in accuracy.
Below group was fired using the 77gr load from SSA. I know a lot of people like this load and it uses the Nosler 77gr bullet that I think is just as accurate as the Sierra bullet but this time it did not do very well.
The Federal Gold Medal match 77gr Sierra HPBT load is a long time performer and a favorite of mine. It didn’t let me down.
The Norma match load shot great too. For the price it better! This was the first time I ever fired the Norma match. It is just too pricey for me.
The PMC is probably the cheapest factory load I tested. It shot pretty decent though considering the price. I think if I wanted to stock pile a large amount for use in carbines or use not really for long range precision but more for the bullets weight, this would be what I would buy.
Next is the Hornady Match ELD 73 gr bullet load. This is their new ballistic tip designed to not deform when shot from heat or all the other things that can deform the tip. Jury is still out on that one for me. I don’t know about real long range performance with the ELD bullet yet but at 400 it seems to be a bit better than their HPBT AKA “open tip match”.
The last is the Hornady HPBTWC T2 round. This 75gr bullet load is loaded for 556MM so it is higher pressure than the 223 TAP load or match load. It is a bit less accurate as well. Not a good “match” round if you want accuracy but it is a good round for killing stuff.
So what did we learn? That the 7X bullet weight match factory loads all shoot pretty good. Some are lower velocity than others and you can’t zero your gun with one and expect it to work with all other loads obviously. I was glad to learn that all of these are pretty good loads when it comes to accuracy at ranges most users will shoot at. My opinion of factory ammo has went up a bit too. I look forward to testing some of the other 7X gr bullet loads on the market. I also learned my handloads are still better as I already knew and that I will continue my confidence in the black hills load and Federal match loads if I want a factory load to use along with my hand loads.