Tag Archives: AR15

Optics report from the range.

Saw a Nikon elevation turret break off today.  There was no visible abuse to the scope, and the adjustments appeared to be working previously.   I have never seen a failure like that before, but it reminds me why paying more for some brands is well worth it.

I got to try a Sightron 6-20 power scope today.  The Sightrons are gaining popularity here as a cheaper alternative to Nightforce and Leupold.  I am not sure which model it was I was given the chance to use, but the clarity was great from 6-about 14-16 power.  As the power was brought up to 20x, the picture clarity and crispness declined.  At this point I do not think I would recommend a Sightron for a fighting rifle.  However for a range gun or target/competition rifle, it may be an excellent economical choice.

Update:

I also got to look through an IOR 2-12 power scope.  I believe the model was the Spartan.  What I thought was most interesting was how compact this scope is.  Many tactical scopes end up being large.  A 3-15 or 5-20 tactical scope can be rather large and heavy on a smaller rifle like an AR15.  This smaller scope would be right at home on a smaller lighter rifle.  The power range is also good for closer range work.  I have found that shooters(including my self) are slower at finding close target with 5x and up.  The top end of 12x along with the scopes clarity allowed me to easily find and see 8 and 10 inch steel targets at 1000 yards.  This compact scope appears to be one of the ideal choices for the compact lightweight 5.56 or 7.62 sniper system.

Aimpoint vs. Eotech for the home defense rifle

Both Aimpoint and Eotech are popular reflex optics for the AR15 family of weapons.  Constantly online and there are heated debates over which is the better optic and many people have differing opinions for different reasons.  There is one major reason the Aimpoint should be picked over the Eotech for home defense.  This is the Aimpoints battery life and run time.  An Eotech needs to be turn on before use, and will run 4 or 8 hours before shutting down.  The Aimpoint will run months to years depending on model and brightness.

The Soldier or the police officer when going on duty or starting a patrol has the time to turn on an Eotech.  You don’t know when you might need to use a home defense rifle, and you shouldn’t want to have to turn on its optic before you can use it.  Even worse would be if your battery is dead when you need it.  The new Eotech EXPS3 has a listed battery life of 25 days on setting 12.  The new $400 dollar Aimpoint PRO will run 3 years on 3/4 max brightness.

Back when I owned an Eotech 512, I often found the batteries were dead when I wanted to use it.  I had to store the batteries out of the optic to keep them from draining.  Not only did I have to turn it on before I would shoot, I would have to check during the day that it is still on.  When working at the range, I have seen more then a few shooters day at the range ruined when the only rifle they bought has an Eotech with dead batteries and no iron sights.

If your rifle is a fun gun, get the optic you prefer.  But if you require a reflex sight that is ready all the time, use an Aimpoint.

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.

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.

Thoughts Magpul DVDs

PART I

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.

On muzzle devices

Various Surefire muzzle devices.

We have a multitude of wonderful options in muzzle devices now for our rifles.  However I have been seeing some odd trends that disturb me.  First I run into many people running muzzle breaks on short barreled rifle (SBR) variants. These short 5.56 rifles only gain marginal recoil reduction, and the cost of a large increase of flash and blast, almost always annoyingly so.  Several of the owners of these short rifles tell me that their rifle is their home defense gun.  I do hope that they never need to fire those rifles indoors with out hearing protection.  Pronged flash hiders are also coming back into style.  These tend to be more effective then closed ended flash hiders, but many will ring like a bell when tapped or as the rifle is discharged.  Sometimes prongs can be bent, or they can bloom like a flower.  I recommend against pronged flash hiders on full length rifles, and on firearms that are going to be used in think brush.  However these pronged flash hiders are an excellent choice for the sub-16 inch .30 cal rifle and for SBRs as they mitigate flash and blast better then many of the enclosed flash hiders.  One last note, some flash hiders have sharp edges, points, and/or barbs for use as a impact weapon.  I highly recommend against these as standard flash hiders work well in that role, and the expensive specialized ones end up just cutting holes in your range bags and cases.

Ruger SR556

Got to shoot a Ruger SR556 last Saturday.  Recoil was smooth and pleasant, the narrow railed hand guard felt nice in the hand.  However when I field stripped it, I found metal shavings under the rear take down pin all the way up under the bolt catch.  Bolt carrier tilt was shaving metal from the buffer tube.  While shooting the Ruger rifle was nice, it looks like they have not worked out all the kinks yet.