Tag Archives: Colt

Update on my firearm project.

Back around Hurricane Irma I got thinking about what I would get if I were starting my firearm collection from scratch.  I still have an unfinished article based off my musing I might post someday.

I’ve wanted a light weight .308 semi auto with a long handguard for a while now.  I really like the Colt 901 and would love to have one with a long handguard, but Colt doesn’t offer that in the US, so I went with Larue Tactical.

Larue Tactical offers what they a call an Ultimate Upper kit.  This is a somewhat customization kit that including everything necessary for a functional AR minus the serialized lower receiver.  These kits are a great deal for the money, but they tend to have a very long lead time so don’t get one if you are impatient.  If you buy one of their upper kits, you can also order a lower.

I place an order from LaRue on 6/21.

I held off for quite a while as the large frame Larue rifles are Keymod and I’d much prefer MLOK.  But after thinking about it I realized that I am just going to mount a QD mount for a sling swivel and a couple of rail sections, and never take them off.  For me, in the big picture, it doesn’t really matter which system it is.

The upper kit arrived on 8/10.

It is a nicely packed up kit of everything for a rifle except for a lower.

 

There is the option to purchase a couple more of Larue mags at a discount when you buy one of their UU kits.  These are mags are well made and are designed to allow for a little longer overall length on the rounds in the mag over other brands like the Magpul P-Mags.

I also purchased a Surefire Warcomp.  It reduces recoil but is not as blasty or loud as a proper muzzle break.  It will reduce muzzle flash more than a muzzle break, but less than a dedicated flash hider.  The other main benefit is the ability to mount my Surefire silencer.

I wrote a little bit about the Larue RAT stock here.

I decided to go with a light weight profile barrel, the same as on the PredatAR rifles.  The barrel with gas block and gas tube weights 2 lbs 5.6oz.  I choose a light weight barrel as I know I won’t be doing high volume fire through this gun, and I do know that Larue makes accurate barrels.  The 308 rifles have plenty of weight in other areas, so I think this will be a good compromise.  Worse case scenario, the gun can be re-barreled, but I doubt that will be an issue.

To put it in perspective, the Proof Research lightweight barrel is advertised to be 2 pounds 3 oz at $940.  I don’t think 3ish ounces is worth that premium.

Barrel is marked Rearden Steel.  That’s for those of you who get the reference.

The gasblock is keyed the barrel for alignment.

Three setscrews hold the gas block in place.  Flat bottomed holes are cut in the barrel for these set screws.  I used Rockset to help secure them.

The match two stage trigger and pistol grip that comes with the kit is installed on a dry fire trainer so you can test the trigger as you wait for a lower.

I have no idea how much longer I am going to have to wait for the matching Larue lower I ordered for this kit, but I will write about it when I get it.

COLT IAR

This short video was sent to  us by Alex, who is a friend to the website.   Alex owns one of the rare Colt IAR uppers and fired it on full auto.     The Colt IAR   was colt’s submission for possible adoption for the USMCs new automatic rifle. Of course the HK  won. Not because it was better,  released documents showed the colt submission performed better, but because HK  has the ability to influence things beyond the actually quality of their firearms.. ahem.

 

Alex fired the gun on full auto with a magazine  about half and half of Federal Fusion  and M855. You can tell the difference in the cyclic rate while he is shooting,

When the Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 1-3

Today  is our traditional day of re posting some of the best articles of our friend Kevin O’Brien  better know as Hognose by his many admirers and readers of his website weaponsman.com. Kevin left us too early  in spring of 2017 and we repost his work here to honor him and preserve his work.

 

By Kevin O’Brien

The M16A2 was adopted by the Marines in 1983, and then by the Army three years later, but all of its development was done, largely on a shoestring, by the Marines.

For example, the finger bump on the A2 pistol grip? The very first prototype was built up by a Marine officer on an A1 grip, using plastic wood or body filler! Most of the modifications to the A2 were aimed at:

  1. Increased practical accuracy;
  2. Increased effective range;
  3. Increased durability; and,
  4. NATO compliance (adopting a NATO round equivalent to the FN SS109 round).

In a brief overview of the service life of the M16 series for American Rifleman in June, 2012, Martin K.A. Morgan encapsulated this history well:

In November 1983, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted a product-improved version of the M16A1 chambered for the 5.56×45 mm NATO round. The new rifle was called the M16A2 and it differed significantly from its predecessor: improved rear sights, a brass deflector, a heavier barrel and 1:7-inch rifling were among the changes. The M16A2 also replaced the M16A1’s “AUTO” selector setting with a “BURST” setting delivering three rounds with every trigger pull. The Army followed the Marine Corps’ adoption of the improved rifle in March 1986 when it ordered 100,176 M16A2 rifles from Colt. In September 1988, the U.S. government placed an initial order for 266,961 M16A2s with Fabrique Nationale’s North American subsidiary, FN Mfg., Inc. of Columbia, S.C. Late the following year, when 57,000 U.S. military personnel conducted the Operation Just Cause invasion of Panama, the M16A2 was used in combat for the first time.

For practical accuracy, the A2 had new sights, with a square front post; for range, a new round with a heavier bullet, and new rifling to match; and for durability, new stocks and handguards and significant metal reinforcement in the lower receiver’s weak areas, the pivot pin bosses and buffer tower.

The rifle was not without controversy in the Army. Indeed, contractors for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences examined the rifle and concluded that, as their paper’s abstract notes:

[U]se of the M16A2 rifle by the Army would be extremely problematic, a-fact due, in part, to the vast differences between the marksmanship training philosophies of the Army and the Marine Corps.

(The paper is here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168577.pdf)

The Army had been researching improvements to the M16A1 for years, but hadn’t actually implemented any. In the foreword to the Army Research Institute paper, the word “problematic” crops up again and one gets the sense that the problem was this solution was Not Invented Here, and moreover, not developed the way the Army wanted to develop one.

Referring to earlier research, they wrote:

A detailed evaluation of M16Al performance was conducted to determine adequacy, peculiarities, etc. The findings clearly indicated that the M16Al was an adequate combat rifle; however, many shortcomings were identified that should be addressed in a new rifle or any rifle Product Improvement Program (PIP).

They considered that the improvements in the A2, listed below, were suitable only for the peculiar circumstances of Marine Corps service.

The Marine Corps test results stated the following advantages for the PIP [Product Improvement Program -Ed.] rifle:

  • Ease of training (handling and ease of sight movement).
  • Improved safety (no hazard when adjusting elevation on the rear sight even with loaded weapon).
  • Increased effectiveness at long ranges (more hits, better accuracy, and greater penetration).
  • Improved handling characteristics and durability in hand-to-hand close combat.
  • Reduced barrel jump and muzzle climb during automatic and rapid fire.
  • Increased contrast and less glare with square front sight post.
  • Stronger, more durable and improved grasping characteristics of front handguard.
  • Stronger barrel with quicker twist to take advantage of increased effectiveness provided by new ammunition.
  • Improved sighting characteristics providing quick target acquisition for moving targets and better detection of targets in low level light conditions at close ranges, and more accurate long range fire by use of two modified rear sight apertures.
  • Increased ammunition conservation and more effective use of ammunition with burst control device.
  • Conformity to human factors standards by lengthening stock (alleviating bruised eyebrows, noses, and lips).
  • Stronger, more durable stock.
  • Stronger, more durable buttcap which also reduces slipping on the shoulder during firing.
  • More controllable and comfortable pistol grip contoured to the shape of the hand.
  • Improved brass deflector which protects left handed shooters from hot ejected brass casings.
  • Can use NATO type improved ammunition (XM855) which provides improved performance and penetration at long ranges.

The Army evaluators were impressed by that list of solutions, but thought they all traced back to four specific USMC objectives or requirements:

The above list of advantages is very impressive. It appears that the rifle meets the primary requirements stated by the Marines:

  • A sight adjustable to 800 meters.
  • A bullet with better accuracy at 800 meters and the capability to penetrate all known helmets and body armor at ranges of 800 meters.
  • A rifle with more durable plastic parts and barrel which will take a beating during bayonet training and extended field exercises.
  • The replacement of the full automatic capability with a burst mode which fires a maximum of three rounds with each pull of the trigger.

…but they thought that the requirements were too Marine-centric.

The list, however, represents the objective and subjective evaluation of Marine Corps personnel who are emphasizing the most positive aspects of rifle characteristics as they pertain to envisioned Marine Corps requirements.

This is the first of a three part series. In the second part, tomorrow on WeaponsMan.com, the Army contractors damn the A2 with faint praise and list a litany of A1 shortcomings that they believed that the A2 did not resolve. In the third part, the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods are enumerated.

As it was, the contracting officer’s representative approved the paper in February, 1986. In March, and probably before any of the responsible officers read the paper, the Army went ahead and adopted the M16A2, just the way the Marines had shaken it out.

That makes this paper a time capsule.

When the Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 2 of 3

The M16A2 was adopted by the Marines in 1983, and then by the Army in 1986. Shortly before its adoption, an Army contract analyzed the M16A2 — and found it all wrong for  the Army. The report is here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168577.pdf

This is the second of a three part series. In the first part, yesterday on WeaponsMan.com, the Army contractors noted the specific solutions implemented on the A2 and the problems the Marines solved thereby, but complained that the problems and solutions were too USMC-specific. In this part, we’ll discuss just what they thought was wrong about the Marines’ product. In the third part, which we’ll post tomorrow, we’ll list the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods.

M16A1 (top) and M16A2.

As we recounted in yesterday’s post, the Army let a contract to analyze the Marines’ product-improved M16A1, originally called the M16 PIP (Product Improvement Program but in November 1983, type-classified as the M16A2. Did the A2 meet the Army’s needs for an improved rifle? The contractors recounted 17 improvements in the A2 versus the A1, and traced those improvements back to four or five fundamental goals of the Marine program: more range, accuracy and penetration at that range, more durability, and a burst-fire capability in place of the full-auto setting.

The Army contractors recognized what the USMC had done — and damned it with faint praise.

The M16A2 rifle was developed and tested by the U.S. Marine Corps. The purpose of this present analysis was to evaluate M16A2 rifle features as they relate to U.S. Army training and combat requirements. It was found that the M16A2 did not correct major shortcomings in the MI6Al and that many M16A2 features would be very problematic for the Army. Accordingly, this report provides several suggested rifle modifications which would improve training and combat performance.

The A1 shortcomings that the paper’s authors thought went unameliorated, or were worsened, by the A2 included:

  1. 25 Meter Setting: The M16A2 does not have a sight setting for firing at 25 meters, where zeroing and most practice firing occurs.
  2. Battlesight Zero: The M16A2 does not have a setting for battlesight zero, i.e., 250 meters.
  3. Aperture Size: The M16A2 probably does not have an aperture suitable for the battlesight, e.g., the single aperture used for most marksmanship training, the record fire course, the primary aperture for combat, etc. The 5mm aperture used for 0-200 meters is probably too large and the 1-3/4mm aperture used for 300-800 meters is probably too small.
  4. Sighting System: The M16A2 sighting system is too complex, i.e., elevation is changed three different ways, leaving too much room for soldier error.
  5. Sight Movement: Sight movements on the M16A2 result in changing bullet strike by different amounts; .5, 1, 1.4, and 3 minutes of angle (MOA)*. The sights intended for zeroing, .5 and 1.4 MOA, are not compatible with old Army zero targets or the new targets being fielded.
  6. Zero Recording: The M16A2 does not have a sighting system which allows for easy recording of rifle zero. Also, the zero cannot be confirmed by visual inspection.
  7. Returning to Zero: The M16A2 does not have a reliable procedure for setting an individual’s zero after changing sights for any reason, e.g., using MILES or .22 rimfire adaptors.
  8. Night Sight: The M16A2 does not have a low light level or night sight.
  9. Protective Mask Firing: The M16A2 has not been designed to aid firing while wearing a protective mask.
  10. Range Estimation: The M16A2 sight has not been designed to aid in the estimation of range

Let’s consider those, briefly. Note that every single one of those objections relates to the sights. There are no complaints about the other Marine improvements (not even the hated burst switch). Most of the sight squawks were because the sight was different from the sights of the A1, which were pretty much as Stoner, Sullivan et. al. designed them circa 1959 (the earlier AR-10 sights are different, but the later AR-15 prototypes and their descendants all used something extremely close to the M16 and M16A1 sights. (The USAF/USN M16 and the Army/Marine M16A1 differed only in the absence and presence respectively of a forward assist). Even the protective mask issue is basically a sighting problem — with the then current US M17 gas mask, the rifle had to be held canted to use carrying-handle based rear sights.

Complaints 1-5 relate only to the M16A2 sights, but 6-10 are just as applicable to the then-issued Army M16A1.

Even at the time, it was clear that optical sights were better than irons — scopes for distance and red dots for close-in work. Army special operators had already tested — on the flat range, in the tire house, and on the two-way range — such early red-dots and both-eyes-open sights such as the Single Point and the Armson Occluded Eye Gunsight (OEG). In the early 21st Century, universal optics would end the long run of the M16A2, and sweep away all these problems the 1986 Army contractors worried about. But there was no way to predict that in 1986, not with any certainty.

And that’s Part 2 of our story. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the modifications to the M16 that the authors recommended in place of the A2

When The Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 3 of 3

The previous two stories set the stage, for a look at a report drafted for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences the Army was still pursuing the “best” (an upgraded M16 meeting all Army objectives) instead of the “good” (the M16A2, which was developed and revised to meet Marine objectives). Of course, we all know the spoiler aleady: the Army accepted the Marine M16A2 as is, leaving the report as an orphaned artifact. The report is here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168577.pdf

Colt factory shot of the M16A2. The A2 was developed by the USMC, but was manufactured by Colt and FNMI.

This is the third of a three part series. In the first part, Thursday on WeaponsMan.com, the Army contractors noted the specific solutions implemented on the A2 and the problems the Marines solved thereby, but complained that the problems and solutions were too USMC-specific. In the second part, posted yesterday, we discussed just what they thought was wrong about the Marines’ product. In this, third, part, we’ll list the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods.

Most of the Army’s problems with the A2 related to the burst mechanism, and the sights, especially the complicated rear sight. (This is actually an A3/A4 or M4: note the knobs, left, for removing the carrying handle. The A2 handle was forged as part of the upper receiver.

Reliability

We should note that the Marines’ tests, as reported in this document (p,7), demonstrated significantly lower reliability, and increased fouling in the A2 compared to its older brother. These tests are suspect because the early lot of XM855 used was considered bad ammo, but the M16A1 did outperform the A2.

Thirty Ml6A1 rifles firing 26,010 rounds of M193

Failures to fire – none
Failures to feed – 3 (Not locking magazine in place)

Thirty M16A2 rifles firing 26,010 rounds of XM855

Failures to fire – 52 (27 – bad ammunition) (25 – mechnanical [sic] malfunctions)
Failures to feed – 3 (Improperly loaded magazines)

Those failures to fire that were not attributed to bad ammo were thought to be caused by the A2 trigger system’s Achilles’s heel, the burst trigger mechanism. The A2 performed even worse in a cold weather test, but again, it was with the questionable ammunition, and many of the failures to fire were also laid at the feet of the burst mechanism.

The report has an interesting discussion of the burst mechanism and its rationale in Marine, but not Army, small arms doctrine:

The M16A2 has less combat capability due to the elimination of full automatic fire. Full automatic fire enhances the ability of Army units to clear and defend buildings, to conduct final assaults on enemy positions, to defend against an enemy final assault, to conduct an ambush, to react to an enemy ambush, to engage an enemy helicopter or fast moving vehicle, etc.

While the Marines claim greater accuracy and conservation of ammunition for the 3-round burst control, no data were generated during the test to support these contentions and no supportative [sic] data are known to exist.

Also, it should be noted that room-to-room fighting was conducted with blanks, no close-in firing was conducted, no firing with short time limits was conducted, no firing at aircraft was conducted, etc. In other words, for all of the automatic/burst firing conducted during the test, a semi-automatic mode of fire would have probably resulted in a greater number of target hits.

Finally, to be given very serious consideration, is the fact that the burst control requires nine (9) new parts in the lower receiver, evidently contributing to the large number of weapon malfunctions during testing of the M16A2.

They also took issue with the heavy barrel (“heavy in the wrong place”), the twist rate (preferred 1:9), stock length increased when even the A1 stock was too long for small soldiers, and the fast twist’s incompatibility with the .22 subcaliber system.

The article includes an extensive comparison of the pros and cons of Marine KD vs. Army Trainfire marksmanship modalities. These training differences result from the different combat envelopes for the rifleman: the Marines need to engage with rifles in the 300-to-800 meter space, because they don’t have the supporting arms that the Army can count on, at least, not in the same quantity. A unit that must fight with just its organic weapons needs to get the very most out of these weapons. The Army of 1986 did not consider a 500 or 600 meter target a primary rifle target, but a crew-served-weapons target.

In the end, the recommendations the contractors made were mostly about the sights. They put their recommendations in a table with the M16A1 and M16A2 stats. Since the latter are probably familiar to most readers, we omit them now to save time, and just show the contract recommendations.

Item Recommended
Front sight (day) Fixed blade, 0.090″
Front sight (night) Luminous dot on each sightguard
Rear Sight (day) single 2mm peep. A single elevation knob marked for 200, 250, 390, 25, 400, 500, 15, 600, 700, and 800 meters. Windage knob at rear. Each click equal to 1 MOA
Rear Sight (night) Two luminous dots on upper portion of receiver (or a single flip- up luminous dot located forward of the carrying handle) are aligned with front dots for shooting at night
Zero Recording Yes
Zero Inspection Yes
25m setting (day and night sights) Yes
Mechanical Zero Yes
250-m battlesight Yes
Firing mode Semi and Auto
Barrel 20″. Slightly heavier than A1 at receiver and mid-barrel. 1:9″ twist
Handguard Same as M16A2 except held in place with a securely fastened ring nut to provide rigidity.
Buttstock Same material as M16A2. Same length as M16A1. Option for adjustable length.

There are several interesting observations to make here. First, the contractors recommended that the Army make changes that would decrease the mechanical accuracy of the proposed M16Ax relative to the Marines’ A2. Specifically, these changes included the wider fixed front sight blade, the 1-MOA adjustments on the rear sight (A2 offers ½-MOA), and arguably the simplification of the rear sight. The trade-off was simplicity and ease of training, instead of superior bullseye performance.

Second, some of the proposals would definitely improve the utility of the firearm, including restoring the short stock, or replacing it with an adjustable one; increasing the barrel diameter towards the chamber rather than the muzzle, thus improving sustained fire accuracy and reliability; reverting to automatic fire from the burst mechanism (which also has side benefits, in improving the trigger’s feel and consistency). The night-sight proposal was truly ingenious.

Third, in some of these road-not-taken proposals, the Army was reverting to the original AR-10 design and rejecting changes that were largely imposed on the AR design by the Army in the previous decade. These include the rigid fastening of the handguard, and the fixed front sight blade.

Finally, these proposals were almost the last gasp of the iron-sighted military rifle. As this  document passed from the contracting officer to file cabinets across the service, without action, special operators were already wringing out scopes and single-point sights, and a few visionaries were already arguing that the day of the iron sight had run its three centuries, and was now at an end. A new generation of optical technology was eliminating the two objections that had kept optics off the rifles of most soldiers: less durability than irons, and slower target acquisition. Many men’s efforts went into winning over the Voices of Experience who still said “no” to anything with a lens, thanks to memories of Uncle Joe’s elk lost because his scope fogged up, or the VC that got away because somebody attached an unauthorized 4×32 Colt scope to the carrying handle of his M16.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Where are they now? Monolithic Uppers

 

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:

Photo found on AR15.com

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 Colt 7.62X39 Carbine ( R6830)

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.

C-more Sights/Colt Optics

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.

COLT COBRA PART 2 ACCURACY REVIEW

 

Last time in part 1 we took a look at the gun.

COLT COBRA REVIEW PART 1

Now we are going to take a look at how accurate it is.  I won’t bother saying anything about reliability, it is a double action revolver after all and one made by Colt so it obviously will work.

I shot a variety of  commercial factory loads  for accuracy at 25 yards.  The Buffalo Bore plus P load being one of the best.  It was also one of the hottest.  While it shot great it was not a pleasure to shoot out of a small compact revolver.

I tried this 90 grain lighter load in anticipating that a lot of users of a gun this size would buy loads that may mitigate recoil.   It wasn’t a tack driving load but it is certainly  pretty decent.   I would carry it and use it inside the ranges I expected  I could make a hit under pressure with a snub nose.

 

The next was the Hornady critical defense flex tip, 110 grain bullet. Another lighter load.  Again, it shot pretty good.

The worst of the ammo I tried  was the Winchester super X.  Not gonna set the world on fire.

I’m not going to lie,  I have never been much of a wheel gun shooter and even less of a snub nosed revolver guy. The lighter guns surprised me how tiresome it can get shooting for groups with stiff loads.  I was happy try this reduced recoil self defense load from federal.  It shot great too.   The best group picture blurred and already tossed the target,  but here is the second best group.

 

I had a few rounds of this Fioocchi some one gave me a few months ago.  I fired all ten rounds  offhand at 25 yards at the head just to use them up.  I was dumbstuck at how well it shot and how well I shot on double action off hand.  May be because I was relaxed and did it just to goof.     But, surprises  do happen if you shoot enough long enough.  I wish I had  more of this ammo to   shoot another group from the bags.

 

 

Lastly, again because I aim to please, the 10 0 yard target.  I fired these from a rest, but not bags, at a man sized-ish  target to see what  all CCW guns could do if pressed into having to make a critical longer range shot.  Ammo was the stiff Buffalo Bore +P round.

 

A few notes.   I need more time to get uses to the revolver sights.  I am used to a back sight like a Novak  or BOMAR. The trench in the top strap with front sight is something I keep shooting too high with.   I would really have to work with revolvers with this sight set up for a while to get used to that if I intended to carry it.   Using +P ammo in a small frame revolver, even in 38spl  gets hard on the hands after a while, rubber grips are a must for me anyways.

The action of the Cobra is very slick  and smooth.  Lovers of the mythologized python would no doubt like the action of the Cobra. I have never shot a revolver on DA  as well as I have this one.  It is a nice  compact gun that I can find no fault with if you are looking for one to CCW or just to buy cause you like 6 shooters.  For a closer look at the gun, its finish and craftsmanship, refer back to part one in the link above.

Childrens School Book Bag Protection from Gunfire

Today I am reposting another article from 4 years  ago.  A lot of our older stuff gets over looked because it keeps getting buried under an ever growing mountain of new content.  A lot of newer readers probably aren’t even aware of some of the good stuff we have done in the past. Some of it even useful !   With school starting back this month I thought it a god time to re post this one.  Yes, It is some what of a lazy cop out today but some times it can’t be helped , or as the Japanese say, “shikata ga nai “.   I am working  on time intense articles all week for the new daily content and they can sometimes be labor intensive  and time consuming. To avoid radio silence every one in a while you get to read something from the “looserounds greatest hits/golden oldies.

It is a dangerous world out there, and as uncomfortable as it is to think about, the current state of the country means not every one is armed to step up to defend the most helpless among us.  With that in mind and the recent  atrocities, we decided to do some testing on something often suggested as a means for children to protect themselves in case the unthinkable happens and no one is around with a gun that could otherwise stop the threat.

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You may have heard or read about the idea of kids using a book bag as a means to trying to stop a round from an active shooter. I have even read some talking about bags lined with soft armor.  After my tests last year of seeing what common rounds would do inside a house, and the difficulty or even rifle rounds penetrating books and some tests shown on Best Defense years ago by Rob Pincus, I can attest to the ability of books to stop about any rifle round.

For the test, we filled a pack with some real text books. from a relatives left over college semester. and some magazines to simulate a note book of just paper.  Nothing else was added, not soft armor, or plates sewn in to give it any more help to stop a round. This was meant to see how it would do if books and some nylon was all you had.

Rounds used were 5.56 in M193 and M855, 9mm using NATO ball and .45ACP ball as well as 12 gauge 00 buck, slugs and the ever popular ( though absurd) birdshot.  Five rounds of each got fired into the bag to see how it would penetrate.  We could not set the Q target against the bag without knocking it down or tearing it every shot, so we settled on setting it a few inches away.  The test was not meant to show any blunt trauma, just penetration. Again, for those who will complain.. this was not scientific, nor does it prove anything as a hard fact, thought we feel it is useful and gives plenty to think about.

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First up. was 9mm ball, NATO pressure ammo, Fired from about twenty feet, as if the victim was running away. We later found even contact shots had the same result.  the 9mm failed to penetrate beyond a few inches of book and barely moves the bag.

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One manages about  3 inches, but most stopped inside the book. We fired another five rounds of 9mm to the same result. Those that did not stop in the books deflected at harmless angles. We both expected better performance since the hotter 9mm load is often touted as being a decent round for penetration.

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Next up was the .45ACP 230 grain ball ammo. Shot from the same distance

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Same results from the 45 with just a little deeper penetration into the books but with more damage to the books by this point. The bag did flop and move more violently, and for a second we thought one may have gotten through, but, once again, nothing got anywhere close.

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Above you can see the results of the .45ACP ball rounds on the books. Several 45 ball rounds were found in the books with almost no deformation.

Next up was the 5.56 fired from standard 16 inch Colt 6920 with 1/7 twist barrel from the same distance as the pistols.

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To my absolute not surprise at all. Nothing got even close. Equally ineffective was the M855 round.  Both rounds fragmented inside the books and nothing big enough to even speak or was recovered once we started to sift through the remains of the bag and books.

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Next we fired the 12 Gauge with the 00 Buck. Looking at the pictures with no back ground it may look impressive, but the pictures out of context tell a lie.  The dead center hit was from one of the pellets going high and missing the books in the bag. Sure this would happen in real life, but the point was to see what would make it through books being used as protection. Obviously a head shot would render it all a wasted effort, but that is not the point of this test. The other “hits” resulted from deflection. The buck hit the books, flattened and deformed and went around and out the sides. There was no real penetration. I am not really sure how to label this in contest of the test since none of the made it though the protective layer of books proper, but hits did get on paper.  Something to think about, and it may be a fluke because of the harder book covers and thickness, Obviously there is not real way to predict anything a round will do after it hits anything other than air.

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Next up was the punishing police slugs from the 12 gauge. five rounds from the same distance as the rifle and pistol. Nothing at all on paper. The bag sure looked like it felt it though. Damage to the body even from the slugs not making a hit  would be significant in my unlearned medical opinion. But I suppose it still beats getting a 12 gauge slug through the back.

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Lastly was every moron’s favorite home defense shot gun round. Birdshot. Nothing even got mush past the nylon bag, but as soon as the shot hit the hard cover book, they all deflected. lost most of its energy and followed the inside of the bag around an came out the other side, I guess you could call it a “hit”, though the pellets did not even go all the way through the cardboard, and did not even do much to the books. The shot did scatter everywhere once hitting the harder books and then deflecting.  Since it did not penetrate even the soft cardboard, I have no idea what it would look like on a human. My guess is the skin would be broken and some bleeding and pain, but not enough to kill a grown person, though it would still be terrible on a kid.  Of course the further away the person got from the shooter, the even more useless the bird shot would become. Another 20 feet and maybe safety glasses would be all you needed after a shot to the books and bag, but still its something to consider.

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After testing the pistols and rifle rounds again at contact distance and seeing the same results, I took the books apart and we sifted through the remains out of being curious. The closer fired 45 rounds seem to deformed a bit but not much, no fragmentation to be sure. Even less from most of the 9mm, I believe most of the damage to both was from fired rounds hitting already embedded buck shot or other bullets.  The lead buck and slugs became blobs of every shape and size  with the 00 buck flattening out but still looking in some what original condition while the slugs looked to have suffered great damage.

 

Could you use a bag full or books for a last ditch protection? Absolutely. If you had nothing else and got caught in the open, you sure could do worse,  Children should be taught to try to use the bags for cover, maybe even being coached to snatch a loose one up and wear one on the front and back while trying to make an escape if possible if it was not so heavy it impeded speed.. Stack books behind a door or desk being used to hide, turning it into cover would also be a great idea. The ideas are many and I will leaver that to the people more qualified than I am to advice you on your kids protection.  But, just like strategically placed books and shelves in the home to protect you from gun fire, the books in a pack will do the same if it came to that

My guns, Colt 733 upper

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.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

In addition to the other two posts so far today, I am sharing another one of Hognose’s posts from Weaponsman.com.  This is a repost in our ongoing commitment to honoring  our dead friend Kevin and his work.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

There are several kinds of safeties that are used on service weapons to ensure that only the proper and deserving people are shot. They generally interface in some way with the firing mechanism of the firearm. They may act on the trigger, the hammer or striker, or the sear, or (in some fiendishly clever arrangements) more than one of the above. It is generally thought better to positively lock the striker or firing pin than merely to lock the sear or trigger. If the mechanism fails due to parts breakage, it is easier to design a fail-safe mechanism if the striker or firing pin is immobilized.

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

Safeties can be classified based on the degree of volition required to use them. An applied safety must be consciously put on, in most cases. An automatic safety is unconsciously applied as the pistol is taken up. Examples of automatic safeties include:

  1. the Glock Safe Action trigger and its many copies and derivatives;
  2. the grip safeties characteristic of many Browning designs, such as the M1911 .45 and the FN M1910 pocket pistol;
  3. similar grip safeties on open-bolt submachine guns such as the Madsen and the Uzi. (An open-bolt SMG poses peculiar safety problems);
  4. transfer-bars and other means to ensure a weapon can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled;
  5. mechanisms that hold a firing pin back until a weapon with a locking breech is fully in battery (the disconnector often does double-duty as this part);
  6. Firing-pin immobilizers as in the Colt Series 80 and newer M1911s (an earlier firing pin safety, the Swartz Safety, was used in commercial Colt 1911s from circa 1937 to 1940, and is used by Kimber today);
  7. A heavy, smooth trigger pull such as that on a traditional Double Action revolver or a DA/SA autopistol can prevent unintentional discharges. However, some heavy triggers (like the Glock NY2) have a bad enough effect on accuracy as to threaten bystanders with unintentional shooting.
  8. Magazine safeties, an obsolete European concept;
  9. Half-cock notches (in British/European English usage, these may be called half-cock “bents.”)

Contrasting with these automatic safeties, that do their work without conscious application by the operator, there are Applied or volitional safeties. Applied Safeties are usually classified by what part of the firing mechanism they work on, and so examples of Applied safeties break down into:

  1. Safeties that lock the trigger. The simplest of these are the crude trigger-blocking safeties on an SKS or Tokarev SVT. More complex trigger-locking safeties are found in the AR series of rifles and the FN-FAL;
  2. Safeties that lock the firing mechanism (which may be further divided into those that lock the firing pin, like the Walther P.38 or Beretta M92, and those that lock the hammer, like the US M1 Rifle, or
  3. The bolt holding notch in many 2nd-generation submachine guns. (These are reminiscent in a way of the safety of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which requires the cocking piece to be rotated and caught in a notch). The case can be made that this is a firing mechanism lock, because the bolt with its fixed firing pin is the firing mechanism.
  4. Safeties that lock the sear. Examples include the .45 M1911, its younger brother the BHP, many other auto pistols, and most general purpose machine guns. Some require the weapon to be cocked to lock the sear, others allow locking the bolt forward (the RPD LMG and the Sterling SMG are examples of this).
  5. Safeties that disconnect the trigger from the sear. This is found in the Bren gun and many other Czech designs, historically. The ZB 26 and its derivatives were quite cunning: in one position, the selector brings the trip lever to engage the semi notch, which is in the upper side of a window in the sear. In the other position, it engages the auto notch in the lower side. In the intermediate, “safe,” position, the  trip lever clears both notches and the weapon does not fire.

Note that automatic safeties, too, can be broken down as working on the trigger, the firing mechanism, and the sear, also. So safeties can also be Classified by Operation.

Safeties Classified by Operation

It is possible to classify safeties in the first place by their means of action:

  1. Trigger safeties
  2. Firing-mechanism (striker, hammer, firing pin) safeties
  3. Sear safeties
  4. Disconnecting safeties.

This is true, obviously, for both automatic and volitional safeties, and classifying them this way puts their mode of action forward as more important than their mode of engagement, which (applied/volitional or automatic) becomes a secondary trait.

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

It is only possible to engage many safeties when the weapon is cocked or ready to fire (presuming a chambered round). Familiar examples include the AR series rifles and the 1911 pistol and other Browning hammer designs. Other safeties engage regardless of the energy state of the striker or hammer, for example the AK, the Remington Model 8 (a Browning-designed trigger mechanism that was deeply influential on 20th and 21st Century firearms designers, including Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner), and the RPD light machine gun.

Combination Safeties

While a weapon may have multiple safeties that do different things (or multiple modes that engage the same safety, as in the safety lever and grip safety of early Lugers), it’s possible for a single cunningly-designed safety to disable multiple points of the firing chain at once. For instance, the Lee-Enfield safety is a model of versatility: it locks the striker, locks the bolt closed (preventing the chambering of a round), and disconnects the striker from the sear. The M1911 or Browning High-Power safety locks the slide closed as well as locks

It’s also possible for a volitional safety to be combined with other functions. The most common example of this is the combined safety/selector switch of most modern assault rifles, like the M16 or AK-47.

To Sum Up

There are a great but finite number of ways to design safety features on modern firearms. Careful study of prior art allows today’s designer truly to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field. John Browning left no memoir or technical book, nor did John Garand, John D. Pedersen, Gene Stoner; and the many memoirs of Mikhail Kalashnikov are disappointing to the technical reader. But each of these geniuses spoke to us in the art of his designs, and they are still available for us to study and to try to read what their art is trying to tell us.

We have not, in this limited post, attempted to discuss “best practices” or the pros and cons of any individual safety design. Very often, the designer will be limited by the customer’s instructions or specifications. (For example, the grip safety of the 1911, which 1970s and 80s custom smiths often pinned in engagement as a potential point of combat failure, was requested of John M. Browning by the US Cavalry. The other military branches didn’t feel such a need, but the horse soldiers did, and Browning first added it on his .38 caliber 1902 Military pursuant to a similar request). Thus, even as a designer, your safety design decisions may not be your own.

Notes and Sources

  • This post has been modified since it was first posted, to expand it.
  • This post will be added to The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech.

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

Allsop, DF, and Toomey, MA. Small Arms: General Design. London: Brassey’s, 1999.

Chapter 13 is an extensive review of trigger mechanisms, including safeties, and while their classification of safeties is different from ours, their explanations are clear and concise.

Thanks to the commenters who not only recommend this long out-of-print book, but also sent us a link to a bookstore that had it (it’s a copy withdrawn from a military library, as it turns out). This out-of-print work is less technical and deep, but considerably more modern, than Balleisen; its examples are primarily British.

Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified. He passed away early last year.