Several months ago I reviewed the Colt accurized rifle ,the CAR HBAR ELITE as it is also named, and said I do a follow up post about how it shoots and further ranges. So while out this week testing the new Federal Gold Medal 556 load using the Berger VLD 73 gr. bullet I killed two birds with one stone.
The new GMM load has come out alongside the very popular 77gr Sierra bullet loaded loading. Berger has been around a long time but until relatively recently, if you weren’t a handloader you may not have heard about them. Berger has been making very accurate and innovative bullet designs for bench rest shooting, high power and varmint hunting for a long time. It was a wonder it took as long as it did before some company started using those bullets in a factory load.
The new gold medal load is loaded to 223mm pressures and will feed through AR15 magazines. Cases are the federal match cases with the bluish water proofing sealant. The bullet is the “open tip” match hollow point boat tailed. The Colt has a marking of “1/9” on the barrel but don’t let that give you the impression that these will work in your other brand 1/9 twist barrel. The reality is the Colt barrel more closely measures 1/8.5 twist. So before spending a lot of money on this ammo or buying those bullets, take a careful measure of your barrel twist. This is easy enough to do with a cleaning rod, a sharpie and a tape measure.
I shot the ammo at 500 yards using a NRA 200 yard bullseye target.
A full 20 rounds was fired at the target for a record group after sighter shots. I can’t offer up more than one targets because conditions and light started to change and I was afraid it woud become a matter of me fighting wind and light as opposed to trying to shoot in conditions to give results one could look at without having to determine how much was error from wind, light or shooter. I hope the group gives an idea of what the ammo is capable of as well as the HBAR ELITE. I ran out of time and light before I could shoot the same ammo in a MK12 SPR.
Back in 2005 I believe it was, I was at work reading an issue of Guns &Ammo instead of working. That month Jeff Cooper was giving his thoughts about the war in Iraq and dumping on the AR15 and 5.56mm as he was wont to do. This never did sit well with me. Fast forward to a few months later and Again I was reading Cooper’s column and in it he talked about the “20/20/20 1K challenge he thought up. That is, 20 rounds on a 20 inch target and 20 seconds at 1,000 yards. He opined that it most likely be done with a 762MM semi auto like the match M14. That generated a chortle out of me and got me thinking. Could it be done? I wanted to know. Unlike Cooper I thought using an M14 for the attempt was a dead end as the recoil and movement of the gun would make it nigh impossible to keep on target firing that fast. Not to mention the gun is a nightmare in my opinion.
In 2006 I started my attempt at making this challenge. I tried it many times and approached it a lot of different ways. I never could quite hit the time limit or keep all rounds on target. I worked up to it in practice. I did 500 yards in 20 seconds on a 20 inch target, and got that down pretty good, then I moved up to 700 and so on in increments. I tried using heavier and heavier and longer barrels on precision ARs for the extra weight. I put lead in A2 buttstocks to add more weight and I even considered tying sandbags to the fore arm FF tube. I stopped short there as it felt like was getting too far from accomplishing the challenge with something a rifleman could and would carry.
The closest I came was 20 rounds on the target but in 21.6 seconds. Close. But may as well have been an hour too long. This went on and on few times a year since 2006. Then yesterday I did it.
I had no intention or expectation that I was even going to try it again today. After discussing it with Howard last night, I realized that is why I managed to pull it off. I was relaxed, I was not putting pressure on myself,I was just having fun after doing some other testing. My purpose for being at the range was to test the federal gold medal 556mm ammo using the Berger 73 grain VLD at 500 yards and do the follow up part 2 of my Colt Accurized Rifle review. While shooting at a steel gong at 1,000 yards it was noted how calm conditions were and how dry and hot it was with temps in the high 90s. I zeroed in on the gong and placed the cardboard target to the left of the steel. With the idea in mind to get everything right on the steel, note my data , then shift to the Q target and start the attempts.
With a spotter ready to shout any misses to me as I was firing, I loaded thirty round mags with my handloads of the sierra tipped match king 77 grain bullets and 24.0 grains of Varget. My idea is I would of course miss a few but If I could shoot more than 20 rounds, I could have extra rounds for the misses and still get 20 on target.
The gun is the Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite. This is a 24 inch heavy match barrel with freefloat tube. The gun also has a magpul PRS stock, and Atlas Bipod. The optic is the Nightforce NXS 5.5x-22x with 56mm objective lens. For the day’s testing I had took out the colt match trigger and had installed a SSA trigger and it is a good thing I did. To help even more I put a sand bag between the bipod and mag well. This let me push the gun into something to get some weight behind it.
After two tries I was getting close to pulling it off. I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to pull it off. So I decided to just see how close I could come. On the last try I was down to only 25 rounds left after 5 rounds used for sighters because of a small wind change.
After firing them all up it was time to drive down and take a look. When we counted them up I couldn’t believe it. I kept looking to make sure some holes were not just holes made by rocks that flew up from near misses. But I did it, I finally hit the goal I have been after since 06 when I first seriously started to attempted it.
Below is me with recovered target trying to hide the stupid grin and dumbstruck face.
After all these years I finally did it. And its a good thing, at almost 42, I did not have many years left of eyesight that could still be corrected. My only regret is that my friend who is my usual partner in crime for these pie in the sky attempts wasn’t there to share in the moment with me. He has always been there to help me with the 1,000 yard iron sight with AR15A2 hits and the K-31 at 1233 yards and our 1-mile shot. It just wasn’t the same with him not there to share in the moment with us.
Howard asked me if now that I had done it, could I do it again. No. I do not think I could pull it off again. I believe the only reason it worked this time as because I was relaxed and not taking it as serious as normal. I had put no pressure on myself. Another factor was once again the weather conditions allowed success that time. The high temp, thin air and almost no wind and what little there was blew in from my 6 oclock.
It’s still strange to think that I have pulled this off after so many years. It’s that same feeling you had as a kid the day after Christmas. Nothing to look forward to for a long time almost.
25 rounds fired. 19.8 seconds. 20 inch by 18 inch target, 21 hits, 1,000 yards. 7-10-2018
The Matech sights that come from Colt have the Picatinny marking. I have not seen this marking on these sights from other sources.
Some time back, I’m not sure when, the U.S. Military adopted the Matech Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) as the new rear sight for the M16A4 Modular Weapon System and the M4/M4A1 MWS. That could lead one to believe that this was the best, most durable, combat ready rear sight around. Boy would you be wrong if you thought that.
Outside the military, many people have different desires for what they want out of the BUIS. Some people want a sight that locks in place and is as solid as a bank vault, those people tend to like the Troy sights. Other people want cheap, so they go with the Magpul BUS. There are a few sights that are adjustable for range with a micrometer type adjustment such as the KAC 2-600m BUIS. There are a wide variety of features available out there, and the Matech has a pretty unique combination of them.
The main draw to the Matech is that is had a lever on the side for changing the distance setting. This lets you quickly set the sight for settings between 200 to 600 meters, but you can not make fine adjustment for range.
An annoyance of mine is when I can not find detailed information about a product. I know this sight was designed for use with M855 on both the M16A4 and the M4/M4A1 Carbines but I have not been able to find out what the calibration on the adjustment is. It might have been set for the 14.5 inch barrel, or a 16 inch barrel, or the 20 inch rifle. It might be a blended adjustment meant to be close enough for the rifle and carbine. We just don’t know. But in any event, it should at least keep you on a Echo Target (40″x20″) out to 600 meters.
There is a line (with out a notch to lock it in position) between the 300 and 400m marks for zeroing a M16A4 at 25m. When zeroing a M4 at 25m leave the sight on the 300m mark.
The sight locks down, but it does not lock in the up position. This was chosen as to allow it to move should the rifle be dropped. Sights that lock open can be more likely to break when locked up. Unfortunately these sights tend to wear out and stop locking in the down position. Countless discussion and youtube videos can be found about this.
Downsides to the Matech BUIS are:
It is huge, much larger than most other BUIS.
If you over tighten the clamping screw and bar it will break! Snug it up and tighten 1/4 turn past that, no more than that.
You are suppose to replace the screw that is used to hold it on if it is removed from the weapon. Most of us won’t have multiple screws laying around.
It wears out! The rear aperture latch wears out and will not stay latched down.
Now I wouldn’t say it is a terrible sight, but I do not recommend buying one. If you already have one I wouldn’t bother to replace it unless it breaks or wears out. Just make sure you check the distance setting on it before you shoot.
The colt 3×20 and 4x 20 scopes have been around a long time. Almost as long as the AR15 it was meant for. It is one of the first optics to ever be designed specifically for the AR15/M16 and was used during the Vietnam war.
The optic attaches to the carry handle of the upper by using the hole in the center. A threaded post protrudes out the bottom and a lever is used to tighten the assembly to the underside securing it tightly into the carry handle slot.
Once the optic is installed, the iron sights on the rifle or carbine can still be used.
The optics have a BDC turret that can be used after finer zeroing at 100 is done. To do this you remove the top cover to gain access to the finer adjustment screw. Windage adjustment is on the right side of the scope body and can be adjusted after removing its cover. ll adjustment values are 1/4 inch per click. The rear of the optic is adjustable for parallax.
Once the optic is zeroed at 100 yards, the BDC can be used for fast and easy range adjustments.
The BDC does match and work pretty well and it is repeatable on all of the examples I have tried over the years. The optic is calibrated for the M193 military load which is the 55 grain bullet. At the time there wasn’t much else out there. Even later models can safely assumed to be matched for the M193 type load.
The crosshairs for the scopes came as a post of a duplex crosshair. I have never been much of a post fan myself. The glass is very clear on these optics. Of course you can find some that have been used and abused and see some narfed up glass. They are not ACOGs, so they can not take that kind of abuse. But that isn’t to say they are delicate. They did see actual combat use from Vietnam to the first Gulf War.
Except for a few very early makes, the Colt optic is usually marked Made In Japan. The 4x model is the same size as the 3x.
Other than the older models having a slightly shinier finish than the newer made ones, the y are nearly identical.
Like all carryhandle mounted scopes, there is the usual issue with cheek weld. It is something a cheek rest could remedy, but why bother. I think the days of this being your only choice for an optic for your AR/M16 may be over. Now they are too collectible and slightly rare to be out using for much more than fun anyways. And they are a lot of fun to play with. Or even hunt deer with. 3x and 4x are still usable and hunters and snipers of years and wars past used scopes not even as powerful as 3x for serious work. They can be used for some pretty decent precise shooting in reasonable conditions.
The copes came in a cardboard box with leather end caps to protect the glass. Inside was simple instructions on how to zero and use and take care of the optic.
The little scopes are a neat little piece of AR15 history and they are a lot of fun to shoot with. Especially on an older SP1 rifle or M16 clone. If you have ever wanted to hunt with your old SP1 or clone and iron sights won’t cut it for you these are just the thing for getting some real use out of the old retro AR15.
Is there anything the Colt Model M1911 can’t do? I certainly don’t think so. I’m not the only one either. Long before the idea of the PDW ( personal defense weapon) existed for military and VIP protection, there were some men who felt that a full auto M1911 would be just the ticket. Sad to say those men happened to be murderous bank robbers Dillinger and Lester Gillis.
The man who provided those “baby machine guns” the gangster was a TX gun smith named Hyman Lebman. Lebman was a talented gun smith and tinkerer. He modified multiple guns for the criminals of the day supposedly not aware of their real occupation, thinking they were newly rich oilmen. When the FBI attempted to apprehend those killers, firefights erupted in to now nearly legendary events. The Lebman “baby machineguns” were used in most and resulted in the deaths of FBI agents.
“My father was Hyman S. Lebman (his name was not Harold, as quoted in the article), and I worked with him from the time I was 10 years old (1937) until he developed Alzheimers in 1976. He died in 1990. He told me many stories about the customers who he later found out were John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. He thought they were charming, wealthy, oil men who were interested in guns, and even invited them to his house for his wife to make them dinner when I was about 3 or 4. Our shop had a firing range in the basement, and when he was experimenting with a Model 1911 on full automatic, the 3rd or 4th round went off directly over head, through the floor, and I was visiting above at the time. It scared him so much that he invented and installed a compensator on the muzzle to control the recoil. At one time much later, when I was visiting Washington, DC, I made an appointment with the FBI, and they were happy to bring out their collection of my dad’s guns for me to see”
Lebman developed two models of his baby machine guns, one using the .45ACP firing government model and one firing the Super. 38 round.
Lebman tweaked the internals of God’s gun and made it into a full auto only machine pistol. It didn’t take long to realize the gun firing on full auto wasn’t very useful as is so a compensator was adder along with a fore grip. The fore grips usually being the front vertical grip from a Thompson submachine gun. Some examples used buttstock and all guns used custom made by Lebman extended magazines.
The Super 38 was the most powerful round for semi autos in the USA at the time It was known to be able to defeat the body armor of the day and for a time before the .357magnum, was prized for its ability to penetrate the auto bodies. Having a compact full auto machine pistol that would defeat body armor and the sheet metal used in the cars used by the robbers and held 22 rounds per magazine was a huge advantage from some one constantly running from the law and ready to start a fire fight at a moments notice. The two grips allowed tight control of the handgun, Much needed due to its high cyclic rate . Reportedly the guns will empty in a heart beat.
As I said above, the guns were part of major events in US law enforcement actions and shoot outs. Gillis and Dillnger used the baby machine guns at the Wisconsin shootout during a raid on their hide out lodge named Little Bohemia.
Lebman, even if he was nothing more than a honest man and gunsmith happy to sell his modified guns to any one with money as the law allowed, owed his eventual downfall to his own success and the 1934 National Firearms Act. Before the NFA, it was not big deal for the unworthy peons to own , posses or make fullauto weapons of all type. After, well we all know the current state on that. Because of the popularity of his guns with the top 10 on the FBI’s most wanted list and the ability of G-men to trace the serial numbers back to his shop. It didn’t take long for feds to do what the feds do best to the gun business and gun owners. He was able to avoid spending a day in prison after several trials. He went on to continue his work as a gunsmith while his machine guns went on to live with the FBI. Pictured below is Lebman made full auto M1911 owned and used by Dillinger . Now in the FBI vaults.
Interestingly at a later date, while the Army was thinking about replacing handguns with a carbine. The M1 carbine was adopted for this role but for a time Colt submitted to the Army a “Carbine ” M1911. It certainly seems to have taken some inspiration from Lebman’s “baby machine gun.”
A lot more polished in design with some more care and refinement , the Colt carbine M1911 submitted to the army looks like it was influenced by Lebman’s design.
Back in the day when we only had a handful of companies making AR15s, I remember seeing countless discussions on the gun forums over which company had the coolest rollmark. For example some people loved the Stag logo, other people really hated it. Some people even claimed to see the image of two touching penises in the Spikes Logo. (I know a guy who sold all his Spikes Tactical rifles after I told him about that)
Well, I suppose this one is engraved and not a true roll mark but I think this is the coolest rollmark available on the market right now. You can buy a buy a Colt Rifle that is marked “Property of the U.S. Govt M4A1 Carbine”
The Cobra arrived from Colt last week and now that it is in my hot little hands, the long promised review can start.
The Cobra came out over a year ago and made some noise as Colt’s noteworthy return to double action revolvers.
A lot of people who want Pythons have griped about it because it is not the Python they have been demanding in recent years . All I can say to that is 1) How many of those people were buying those much desired Pythons when colt was still making them and trying to sell them? There is a reason Colt stops making a certain model and it is not because they were selling too many of them. 2) Just hold your horses and see how well this “test the waters” revolver goes, and you may get what you claim you want later.
Colt has wisely decided to not jump elbow deep into making DA wheel guns again by making the kind of revolver most people who buy and carry revolvers actually want and carry. This may seem to not make sense to come people when the look online and see all the clamoring for the Pythons. Well think about all the times you have been on a web forum and seen people telling some company “Oh, if you make that, you will get all the money!” Sometimes they even proclaim they would buy one. In reality, they won’t. In fact, most of them saying it won’t. Fact is a lot of people like the idea of something being out there, even if they have no plans to every buy it. Or it would not be exactly the way the wanted it. The barrel would be too long, or too short, or the wrong finish, or it would be too expensive or too cheap, or it would not be tactical enough.
With that in mind I think the new Cobra is a good way to test those treacherous waters. It does not cater to the guys who want 2,000 dollar Pythons just for collectors value, or the big bore handgun hunters. Neither of which are a majority. It is meant for the real majority. People who want to carry a small, compact simple revolver. Now lets take a look at it.
The Cobra has a stainless steel finish – not a bright polished stainless, but the nice balance of satin and matte. It has the iconic Colt cylinder release and the always present Colt Horse logo. The barrel has the rest of the Company info on the right side. If you wished you could get one in a polished mirror like finish, the good news is you can polish this finish into a mirror yourself with some elbow grease and the right compounds. A lot of buyers have already done this and you can see how to videos on YouTube and gun forums. I love the look of that mirror finish polished SS but for carry… I scratch guns up too fast and the reflection that polished stainless gives off makes me uncomfortable with the idea of carrying a gun so ostentatious. Not so much for fashion, but more for I don’t want it to be so obvious.
The muzzle of the barrel has a very nice recessed crown to protect it from damage. A very nice touch for a gun meant to be used and used seriously.
As you can see above, the front sight is a fiber optic red/orange that shows up well in daylight and gathers all available light when light conditions would make a plain front sight blade hard to see.
The rear sight is the standard revolver humped up back with notch for alignment. Which is what you would want from a gun many will stick in a purse, a pocket, or who knows what else that would make it easy to snag a rear sight on when trying to draw. Or have on a belt, that would allow an adjustable sight to tear the lining out of shirts, jackets, or coats.
The left side of the barrel tells you what you are shooting. The Cobra is a .38 Special rated for +P rounds. I know a few have said they would rather it have been in .357 Magnum and at first I agreed. Then I remembered how it feels to shoot a .357 in a gun that small and light and how many people with a .357 gun in this size never really carry .357 loads in it anyway and just use .38 Spl and reconsidered. The .38 Spl in a modern +P load is enough. It allows the gun to be a bit smaller and not as expensive as well and it sure is easier on the hand for most people who carry more than they ever shoot. It makes me wonder how well Cobra chambered in 9mm or 45ACP would would sell though. As I said above though, lots of people ask for all manner of odd ball things from gun makers. Usually it’s only something the person demanding it would buy.
With loading in mind, the grip are nice soft comfy Hogue rubber grips but with the Colt logo. These feel great for shooting hot loads. Now Colt offers the Cobra with other choices in grips. My favorite being the ones made by VZ Grips with the Colt logo made into the G10 material .
Last on our list is the inside. Everyone knows what the inside of a DA revolver looks like. That is not what I want you to see. I want you to see what impressed me. The total lack of tool marks or swirls and all the things usually inside of a gun’s guts hidden from the outer world.
Other than some burnt powder crud, that is some smooth internals. It looks like it has had attention to detail lavished on it. This is what people talk about when they are going on about the Colt revolvers of yore. If you are a Colt wheel gun guy, I do not think you will be let down.
Now, the stock trigger of a DA revolver usually feels like trying to bend a nail to me. I am a single action semi auto guy to the core. I will never change. But this trigger feels good! Easy to keep the sights on target through the entire pull, and that is a challenge for me usually. Hand me a gun like this and I will always opt to cock it to single action fire if I have a choice. But with this one, I am seeing what draws some people to a fine DA 6 shooters. I have dry fired it for about 1 hour every night for 7 days, and I have learned a lot about how to quickly fire a DA revolver. If any of you 6 shooters have any tips for me, please share in the comments.
That is the end of Part 1 which is usually my thoughts on a guns looks, how it works, and the features, etc. In Part 2, we will get it fired up, see what accuracy it has, and shoot it as far as I can manage.
Since the passing of our friend Kevin AKA “Hognose” owner of weaponsman.com we have be reposting his work here in tribute and to make sure it survives. This is another technical article from Kevin in part of a series.
The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon is widely distributed in the US Army and Marine Corps (even after the Marines replaced many SAWs with M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles). But how did we get to that point, and what other weapons were considered along the way? This series will look at each of the four contenders in turn. The principal objective of this article is to set the stage, and introduce an unfamiliar cousin of a familiar old friend: the XM106 Automatic Rifle, an M16A1 redesigned by Army engineers for the tactical role once filled by the Browning Automatic Rifle in the American rifle squad.
It’s a bit amazing that a SAW program got any traction at all. In 1979, the Army was concerned about the vintage of its small arms and other systems. While we’re most concerned about small arms here, the Army’s RDT&E guys had to develop it all, and they had their hands full trying to field or develop, at that time:
The XM1 Tank (with 105mm gun; not yet named Abrams).
The 120mm smoothbore follow-on for the M1. This was principally setting up American manufacture of an already-successful German gun.
The Infantry Fighting Vehicle and its cav variant (not yet named Bradley).
The Copperhead laser-guided precision artillery shell.
The YAH-64 helicopter (“Y” means prototype; the Army was testing 5 prototypes, but they hadn’t selected the night vision and fire control systems yet; everyone remembered the AH-56 Cheyenne, which had gotten to this stage and beyond before its ignominious cancellation).
The still unnamed MLRS rocket system was in early phases of tests, and precision guided rockets for it were barely on the engineers’ whiteboards.
Improved missiles: I-HAWK, TOW, and Pershing II.
New missiles: HELLFIRE and Patriot.
US production of the superior British 81mm mortar.
Those are the ones that turned into successful fieldings, but every one was opposed by vocal lobbies, which argued that the weapons cost too much, and would never work. (Some of these opponents were concerned patriots, like John Boyd’s famous reform mafia; others might not have been, like the CDI, a group that toed Ivan’s line so thoroughly that it was rumored to be financed by the USSR, and that did indeed fade from prominence after the USSR went belly up, although no one ever found any proof of anything as far as we know).
To the delight of the opponents, some development projects would turn out to be turkeys, like the DIVAD gun (later named Sergeant York; its fate was sealed when a high-stakes live demo saw it lock on to a latrine fan instead of a hovering, easy-pickin’s drone helicopter). Some would blow their budgets and get put out of their misery by the Carter administration or the Congress. Nobody remembers the US Roland AA missile, or the Stand Off Target Acquisition System, a helicopter with a Rube Goldberg targeting radar that needed a Heath Robinson raising and lowering mechanism.
But all in all, for all that the suits would like to zero out Army R&D, and for all that some projects would be dead ends, the need for these systems was so great, and/or the contractors had promised to manufacture them in so many Congressional districts, that the Army had an RDT&E budget request for $2.927 Billion for FY 80 (which began 1 Oct 79).
The principal small arms program was the SAW (the long-running Air Force/Joint pistol trials, the M231 Firing Port weapon, and a 30mm repeater grenade launcher which never saw type-classification, were some of the others). The Squad Automatic Weapon program was well along; the service needed to complete a developmental and operational test of four prototypes and evaluate the test data. Considering that it would produce a weapon still in the field today, this program’s budget request was almost invisible: $500,000. It was a little less than 2%, not of the RDT&E budget, but of 1% of the RDT&E budget (0.01708% if you do the math; rounds up to 171 10/1000ths of a percent).
The Army had just given up on the idea of a return to a .30 caliber small arm. A study called IRUS-75 evaluated the .30 concept as part of a question of the overall organization and equipment of the future rifle squad; a follow-on study, the Army Small Arms Requirements Study (ASARS), made it clear that the caliber mattered less than having two auto weapons per squad to provide a base of fire, as the BAR had done in days of yore.
The four NATO ammo contenders. Soon after the SAW tests described in this series, NATO chose the SS109.
The Army conduced an extensive computer study that determined the optimum caliber for a SAW was 6mm. This caused the first casualties inflicted by the SAW as logisticians’ heads exploded: they had no desire to stock a third caliber alongside 5.56 and 7.62. Accordingly, the SAW was specified to use 5.56mm ammunition: not the standard M193 ball round, but whatever round came out of new NATO testing, whether it was the FN SS109, the US XM777, or something completely different. The test guns were, as we understand it, set up for XM777. (XM777, like SS109, sought to get more penetration out of the 5.56x45mm cartridge by using a steel penetrator. It was, however, backwards-compatible with the 1:12 rifling of earlier 5.56 rifles. SS109 proved superior in NATO tests to SS109 and experimental British and German small-caliber rounds, and was adopted; the US version is M855).
The Army did not have an entirely free hand in weapons development, since the Joint Services Small Arms Program had been established in December, 1978, as “the senior joint services body for small arms development,” but the Army did retain control of the SAW program. By early 1979, four prototypes were under test by the Material Testing Directorate of the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. One of the four was going to be the SAW and replace two of the rifle squad’s M16A1 rifles. (Doctrine at the time designated one rifleman in each fire time the “automatic rifleman”. He got a bipod and more ammo. The rest of the riflemen were supposed to fire on semi-auto against point targets only).
The four candidates were three belt-fed 5.56mm light machine guns: Ford Aerospace’s XM248; FN’s XM249; H&K’s XM262; and one magazine-fed weapon, the XM106.
The XM106 had the home-field advantage: it was developed by the Army’s own Ballistics Research Laboratory. But it was, by far, the least advanced rifle. It was essentially an M16A1 with a modified fire-control system and a bipod. It fired full-auto only, from an open bolt, and had a heavy buffer system to bring the rate of fire down to 750 RPM. The bipod was an M2 bipod, as used on the M14, but it mounted above the rifle’s barrel. All XM106s appear to have been hand-built, toolroom guns, and there are a few variations among them. The XM106 had a clever, but complex, interchangeable barrel, a desirable feature in a weapon that may be called on to deliver lots of automatic fire. In most XM106s, the front sight base was moved closer to the muzzle end of the barrel (which army records record as 482mm [21.5 in.] including the flash suppressor, the second longest of the contenders), reputedly to extend the gun’s sight radius.
XM106 removable barrel version.
The barrel-changing mechanism removed the front sight and gas tube from the gun, leaving the bipod attached to the receiver. The handguards, as you can see in the picture, split. This system had two drawbacks — one, shared with the M60 and numerous other GPMGs is that rear sight adjustments could only be zeroed for one barrel — when you changed barrels, you changed point of impact, and it might have done something ugly to the accuracy of your weapon. The second drawback is clearly visible in the picture: that gas tube hanging off the spare barrel, just asking some GI to bend, break, or plug it with something.
The XM106 was not only magazine-based, it had its own special magazine — sort of. A spring clip held three 30-round magazines together. When one was exhausted, the auto-rifleman pressed the magazine release and shifted the mag over and reinstalled it. It was another Rube Goldberg / Heath Robinson contrivance, but in the late 1970s there were no reliable high-cap magazines.
We’re not aware of any surviving XM106s. The open-bolt mechanism and the plate renaming the fire selector positions lived on, however, on the M231 Firing Port Weapon. Colt was to reevaluate the M16-based MG and develop a version in conjunction with Diemaco for Canadian Army tests; that would also fire from the open bolt, but it had a superior barrel change system and bipod to those of the XM106.
If the XM106 was the least technically ambitious of the SAW contenders, Ford’s XM248, which instantiated some concepts developed at BRL and elsewhere in the Army ordnance world, was at the opposite end of the spectrum — a technical stretch. But that’s for the next installment.
Other than its influence on Colt’s future private developments, the XM106 was an evolutionary dead end. With four very different guns to choose from, three had to lose, and with its lack of a belt and awkwardness, the XM106 was never really in contention. It’s interesting to compare it to the M27 automatic rifle the Marines ultimately chose to replace most of its SAWs, a weapon that accepted the inconvenience of magazine loading for the benefit of much lighter weight.
That the XM106 was so quickly set aside tells us that “not invented here” wasn’t holding the Army ordnance experts back in the late 70s and early 80s — the gun was designed by their own compadres at the Ballistics Research Laboratory, but it wasn’t the best. Any disappointment that BRL might have had was limited, however. Their firing-port weapon design, a more extensively modified M16A1, was adopted as standard equipment for the new Infantry and Cavalry Fighting Vehicles, and it, too remains in service today — so there’s a little bit of XM106 still out there.
In Monday’s installment, we gave you the overview of the SAW program as of 1979, and we looked in depth at the least radical design, the magazine-fed M16 variant, XM-106 automatic rifle, a product of the Army’s own Ballistic Research Laboratory. Today’s installment will fill you in with a little more on the competition and its history, and will go into a little depth — unfortunately, a little depth is all we have — about the XM-248 and especially its forerunner, the XM-235.
To recap, as of the beginning of 1979 four candidates were being compared for a concept of a Squad Automatic Weapon that was then (barely) filled in the infantry fire team by giving one guy a stamped-steel bipod and permission to set his selector to Crowd Control. Along with the XM106, which was an M16A1 with some concessions to firing high rates and volumes of automatic fire, the contenders at this point were three belt-fed 5.56mm light machine guns: Ford Aerospace’s XM248, FN’s XM249 and H&K’s XM262.
The XM-248 is a good-looking gun with a straight inline mechanism and a very clever belt feed that had the potential to be more positive, but less upsetting to accuracy, than the typical feed tray that’s been standard on GPMGs ever since the MG34 instantiated the category way back during the Great Depression.
To understand the XM248, we have to roll back a bit, to the very dawn of the SAW program in 1975 (the term “SAW” dates to 1970, and the idea of an intermediate gun between the rifle and the 23+lb M60 GPMG dates to 1966). The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command had noted that a war in Europe was possible, and Europe was vastly more built-up than in the last war. Even then, much of the fighting was in cities — dismounted infantry terrain. A squad automatic weapon that could deliver fire in high volumes would benefit such a squad, in what the Army now calls Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) and then called Military Operations in Built-up Areas (MOBA). So in 1975, the Army began designing in its own labs, and calling for, from industry, a new weapon, at the same time it began to evaluate M16 improvements that would lead (through a winding path blazed mostly by the USMC) to the M16A2. Both improvements were aimed at MOBA as well as just generally increasing the lethality of the squad, and drew upon TRADOC studies that said fire volume was more important than fire precision.
The 6.0x45mm cartridge, centered between the 5.56 and 7.62 NATO.
The new SAW — the squad’s volume-fire weapon — would use either an optimum cartridge or the standard rifle cartridge. (Each approach had its adherents). The first round of paper SAW candidates were chambered for disparate cartridges, including a new experimental 6mm and the standard 5.56mm. The 6mm fired a 105-grain projectile at 2450 fps (6.8g/.747m/s) compared to the M193 round’s 55gr/3250fps (3.5g/990m/s), giving the new MG a range beyond 800m. One of the main drivers of the 6mm caliber wasn’t anything to do with ball ammunition — it was that given the tracer technology of the time, no known compound could trace to and beyond 800m in daytime, and be contained in the volume of a 5.56mm projo. Army ordnance guys really liked the 6mm; loggies, and the senior generals who would have to square a new caliber with our NATO allies, were more reserved, for entirely non-technical reasons.
Because it was no longer in production or actively being promoted, the Stoner XM207E1 was out of the picture. In any event, the Army’s ordnance officers had a strong prejudice against it: the SEALs loved the gun and used them until there were no parts to be had, but the Army considered it too maintenance-intensive to be reliable in the hands of draftees with GT Scores of 80. Likewise, Colt’s CMG-2; and like other guns rejected before the contest began, they fired the 5.56mm cartridge, which didn’t meet the Army’s desire for an 800m+ weapon.
The three contenders in the 1975-76 round were made for the 6×45 cartridge and given sequential model numbers. XM233 (left) was Maremont’s entry. As you might expect from the maker of the M60, it looked like a baby 60. The XM234, a spindly-looking thing, was prototyped by Philco (about which, more below). And the Army’s own Rodman Laboratories (at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois) developed a radically new concept which was labeled XM235.
Two more-familiar 5.56mm guns that were being developed in Europe and entirely outside the Army competition at the very same time were not considered at this time: the FN Minimi and the H&K HK23. Ironically, they were rejected specifically because they were 5.56mm weapons. But we haven’t heard the last of the little round and these two commercial guns, either, because in Developmental Test/Operational Test 1, they, and a heavy-barreled variant of the M16, were used as controls and benchmarks for the “real” 6mm guns.
Philco’s 6mm gun was called the XM234, and it looked like this:
And that picture is almost all we know about it. At the time, we recall reading, and laughing about, the idea that Philco had entered a gun in the Army competition. Philco was the subsidiary of Ford that made the radios and 8-track players (don’t we keep telling you, The Past Is Another Country? Some of us lived there). And so, the idea of it making machine guns was pretty funny. But Detroit automakers are no slouches on mass production, and the Army has often turned to them when it needed quantity and quality. In World War II, the Navy threw a young officer named Henry Ford II out so he could take over from his ailing father and take charge of Ford’s war production, which included guns, gun parts, and complete B-24 Liberators. GM made M3 grease guns, and later would produce M16A1s with considerably less drama than Colt, despite a rather lacking Technical Data Package. So, Philco probably could make a gun; auto manufacturing technology was effective for guns; and mechanical engineering is the same discipline of materials, statics and mechanics for a gun designer that it is for a guy designing a valve train or power-steering mechanism.
By the time the 11th Edition of Small Arms of the World, from which a number of these facts and photos are taken, was published in 1977, the defense branch of Philco had taken on the more dignified name, Ford Aerospace & Communication Corporation.
There’s very little information about the Philco entry available, especially online; and at the end of the first phase, DT/OT1, in December, 1974, both its gun, the XM234, and Maremont’s weren’t what Army evaluators were interested in. But they really liked the Army’s entry, the XM235:
The XM235 had been developed by a dedicated team at Rodman, led by Curtis D. Johnson and including at least 7 more dedicated engineers, who all signed on to the patent US # 3,999,461 on the gun (USPTO link) (Google Patents link).
General Arrangement from Patent 399,461 is unmistakably the XM235.
One of the controls also fared well at the tests: the FN Minimi was as reliable as the best of the 6mm guns, and more so than the H&K. It used then-special FN ammo (SS109) which didn’t interchange with the riflemen’s 1:12 M16s. Nobody liked the HB M16 as a SAW.
At this point, the Army dropped the idea of the 6mm round. It not only complicated Army logistics to have a third entire caliber, but it would be hard to sell to NATO, where American allies had already had two Yankee cartridges rammed down their throats. So the SAW was going to be 5.56mm. How were they going to get the 5.56 to perform “beyond 800m” as the spec had said? They weren’t. So the new spec was “up to 800m.”
This set the Army up for the next round of testing, but they needed someone to produce the XM235. The prototype that so impressed everyone at DT/OT1 was handbuilt, and the Rodman guys weren’t manufacturing or production engineers. The answer seemed obvious: let Maremont and Philco, uh, Ford Aerospace, bid on producing the the XM235. Ford won the bid, and engineers being engineers, began improving the design even as they committed to building a couple of dozen prototypes in 5.56 for testing. The 5.56 quasi-production variant of the XM235 was the XM248.
Let’s take a look at the XM235 technically and see why it was so admired at the time. We’ll push back Ford’s many changes that produced the XM248 till tomorrow. (This post is already 1500 words long!)
The Rodman engineers began with a clean slate and the understanding that, other things being equal, automatic weapons firing bursts had always been less accurate than rifles firing single aimed shots. This wasn’t invariably a bad thing, as it allowed for the natural dispersion of a burst to “correct” in a way for a gunner’s aiming error, but it was terribly wasteful of ammunition.
Engineers being engineers, they asked why the automatic guns were less accurate, and they concluded that several things degraded the accuracy of automatic weapons:
Parts of the mechanism were moving whilst bullets were still in the barrel.
Whether operated by recoil or gas, the operating mechanism reflected excess energy back into the weapon, what the developers called “high restitution” from rebounding parts.
Extant light machinegun designs had overly high rates of fire (650 to 1000 rpm).
Peak recoil was high (500-1200 foot/pounds – 2,200-5,300 N).
Those items, taken together, degraded accuracy. So the characteristics sought in the 235 design were:
A long motion of recoiling parts.
A soft cycle without the hammering of buffers on stops often seen in LMGs.
Rate of fire reduced to 500 rpm, little more than half that of an M16A1 with M193 ammo loaded with WC846 powder.
Reduced recoil impulse (to 200 lb-ft) and reduced recoil effects on muzzle movement by careful placement and design of stock and grips, gas system, and so forth.
A change in belt handling to reduce the stop-and-go motion of the belt
Placing parts that induced motion inimical to accuracy (the belt feed, for instance) close to the weapon’s center of gravity, to reduce the moments these parts induced for a given force.
In addition, the engineers wanted to design a weapon with world-class reliability and maintainability. They wanted it to be made up of field replaceable modules, and readily field-stripped in 10 seconds. They wanted to reduce the parts count relative to the M60 (they cut the parts count by 40%).
The receiver was extremely unconventional. What looks like the receiver in pictures is a sheet metal cover with no structural function. The fore-end likewise is a simple stamped cover. The actual receiver comprises two long tubes, a forward end cap that joins the tubes to the barrel, and an aft end cap that contains a sophisticated hydraulic buffer. The bolt carrier rides between the tubes, and connects to upper and lower pistons and springs, which ride inside the receiver tubes (which do double duty as gas tubes). The bolt carrier also contains, of course, the bolt, which has three lugs like an AK bolt, dual extractors and a plunger ejector.
The bolt carrier also drives, in its long travels, a rotating cam tube that turns a feed sprocket that lifts the feed belt with rotary action. There is no reversing or reciprocating motion orthogonal to the direction of fire — unlike the classic MG34/MG42-inspired feed tray cover, or that of the Browning or Maxim for that matter.
A spring-loaded firing pin rode in the bolt, and the fire control and related switchgear were contained in the pistol grip. In order to hang the belt container exactly on the center of gravity, the pistol grip was also hung on the center of gravity front-to-rear but offset to the right. Several effects came packed with this: moments of any operator input on the pistol grip were reduced, because it was at an arm of nearly zero, increasing accuracy; the weapon gave the gunner unprecedented control; and the weapon required right-handed operation. The Army liked the former two, but were keenly aware that about 10% of troops are left-handed. The weapon also required left-handed operation because it was, in effect, a bullpup design. Previous Army skittishness about bullpup safety may have been reduced by measures taken to prevent an out-of-battery firing, and the bolt’s location within the heavy carrier and the solid sheet-metal receiver cover.
Ford Aerospace had the order to produce 18 production-ready XM248s, which were to be the XM235 in 5..56 (instead of the abandoned 6.0×45) with a few improvements. (In the end, they’d make two versions). The improved XM235 was the XM248. Then, post-Vietnam budget cuts savaged the SAW program. The money was there to make the XM248s, but not to test them. The XM235 had been set to compete against the Minimi — if the Minimi could be lightened enough to meet spec — and a couple of USMC-sponsored heavy-barrel M16s (again). That is, in fact, where the 1977 11th Edition of Small Arms of the World left the competition: uncertain, and potentially cancelled entirely. The budget for the competition had been cut so much that the Army had no money for testing the 18 5.56mm XM248s that Ford delivered under their contract, or anything else. IF FN was going to lighten the Minimi, they’d have to do it on their own — contract money wasn’t forthcoming. H&K was fuming on the sidelines, believing their HK23 had been unfairly DQ’d. And Army squads still had, by MTOE, an “automatic rifleman” whose only concession to firepower was a tinny little bipod for his M16A1; alternatively, they could carry a heavy M60 and its heavy ammunition along.
Tune in tomorrow as the XM235 emerges from its Ford chrysalis as the XM248 — and becomes the most advanced light machine gun the US Army ever rejected.
In 1996, Colt came out with what is now a very rare variant of the most excellent Anaconda revolver. The Anaconda being a larger framed ( for 44mag) version of the Python .357 magnum revolver. This limited edition was made in only 1,500 examples supposedly and was truly a “system”.
The gun came from the factory with the 8inch barrel, a Redfield 5 star pistol optic. rubber grips , base and rings, with the optic and gun finished in Real Tree camo. This was a collaboration between Colt and Realtree (Bill Jordan of Georgia), with design assistance from famed Wildlife Biologist, “Mr. Whitetail” Larry Weishuun.
Beyond the revolver and optic is also came with a colt belt buckle, Zippo colt Anaconda lighter, original Team Colt Realtree heavy duty canvas carry bag and matching bandoleir holster. It was and is a heck of a nice kit. The gun is rare enough to not be well known even in the gun world. In fact I have only seen two with my own eyes counting this one.
Even in picture you can see the camo finish is very nice and rare enough for my tastes, pleasing to the eye. And I am not a fan of commercial hunting camo patterns.
While I have this rare animal we will take a look at it in some detail.
The optic is a then top of the line 5 star redfield. At that period of time, Redfield was a well thought of and quality maker of weapons optics. Now the company name is owned by Leupold and of course that speaks for itself. But at that time they were a competitor.
The scope of course came with the Redfield flip up scope covers.
Above you can see the 2x-7x power ring. The variable power in that range is very useful for a hunting pistol in my opinion. I find it is just enough and not too much. It is clear and as durable as every other Redfield 5 star optic I have used from that era.
The elevation and windage adjustments are vintage Redfield style. They did give you some one of a positive adjustment and beat the Leupold friction plate which I detest.
You can also see the scope rings that hold the optic one. I have seen some of these guns with matching camo rings. But I can not offer up any reason why some are, some aren’t beyond speculation.
The base and rings are very sturdy as anything holding a scope to a 44magnum handgun would need to be.
Now moving on to the gun. First is a very nicely recessed target crowned muzzle.
You can see from the picture that the Anaconda did have the ability to add iron sights to it though this example did not come with them that I am aware of. I have been told that colt did sell some of the guns without the optic but with irons instead.
Of course the Anaconda has all the inner workings you would recognize from all other colt anacondas and pythons. Parts not finished in camo are a very nice durable flat matte black. This includes the hammer, trigger, cylinder release etc.
The action of the gun is smooth as glass. I would also assume that the action on these editions were given some hand care before leaving the factory because it certainly feels like it.
The 8 inch barrel has the roll markings on the left side. Letting you know you have a Colt realtree Anaconda.
The accuracy of the gun is everything you would want it to be. I am no big bore handgun game hunter so I can’t give much insight into that. I do know an accurate handgun when I see it though. I don’t need to be Taffin to come to the conclusion either.
Not feeling a need to prove how manly i am or put up with the recoil of a 44 mag while sitting on the bench concentrating for all I am worth for hours at a time, I used .44special handloads of a now deceased friend who was a real genius at casting his own lead bullets for handguns.
At this time these loads are the only .44spl loads I have access to so i can’t show any other loads. If I get my hands on some more stuff I will update this post or make a part 2.
I fired from a bench with bags and a rest for the first three groups. And I did cock the hammer for single action firing for accuracy. I am NO wheel gun guy and my short tiny little fingers will forever be incapable of the ability to fire a double action revolver with ease. So sue me.
The last 5 rounds I had, I used for 100 yards. Since it wasn’t enough to shoot a few warm up groups and not enough for a full 6 shots I decided to shoot the gun sitting down with crossed sticks. I have seen hunting shows and magazine articles of pistol hunters firing from this way in the field so I decided to reproduce it. I am not sure what is considered a long shot for big bore handgun hunting and I am too lazy to sift through millions of hunting forum opinion posts on what is long and too long and what ranges are ethical shots. So I apologize if 100 yards is considered a joke for you handgun hunters or if it is beyond what many feel comfortable taking a field shot on game. I am not hunting and paper rarely complains anyway. If you are a HG hunter, do chime in below and I will see what I can to satisfy the testing requirements for you fellows.
Above is the final 5 rounds fired sitting from crossed sticks. I feel pretty good about it. My palm would have covered the group. I suppose it is even good enough for a head shot on a whitetail deer if one was dumb enough to do it.
You see the kind of accuracy one could expect from this fine bigbore six-shooter. I have really enjoyed it as the 44spl loads are soft and pleasant. And accurate.
I will try to gather up a bigger variety of ammo and shoot it at any requested distances before it has to leave my hands. So if you want to see something post your wishes in the comments.
If you want one of these masterpieces, I can’t offer up an ideas of where to get one or really how much. A quick search has shown the examples with all the other goodies go for between 2,500 to 2,800. Maybe one could be had cheaper but that would also mean it is in rough shape. The owner of this model has never told me the painful amount he gave for it. However it was a “grail gun” for him and worth the price, As long as I have known him he had talked about wanting one. He finally found this one at a local shop and made sure he left home with it. If you are happy with the gun you bought the price is always worth it no matter what is was.
Around 2003ish I learned about the C-More Tactical Reflex sight which paired a C-More Reflex Sight along with a cut down adjustable rear sight carry handle base for the AR15. I’ve wanted one since then. Back in 2017 I learned they were discontinued, so I found a used one and purchased it. I fully expected to have it for two weeks before deciding that I didn’t like it, just to turn around and sell it. Instead I really love it.
The C-More sights never seemed to gain much ground in the tactical market as they were seen as fragile and unreliable. Yet they were very common place, and still used a good bit on the competition side of things.
First thing of note with the C-More sight is that there are a huge number of variations of them. The body can be plastic or aluminum. It can be a rail mount, slide mount (for pistols) or a bridge mount (for pistols). The sight can be purchased in different colors, Black, Grey, Red, Blue, and Green. Also you can change the dot size by replacing a module giving you the choices of 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 MOA dots. Then there are also differences in the battery compartment and, the intensity switch between models.
I think the C-More is popular in the competition market for several reasons. Being able to choose a dot size that works best for you(E.G. larger dot for use on a pistol) is a major plus. Some of the C-More models are rather inexpensive, down to about $240 list price right now. Also being able to get them in a color that matches your competition gun doesn’t hurt.
Now I don’t know for sure why the C-More Reflex Sight never really caught on in the tactical community. From what I’ve read it sounds like early on the Army and some individuals tried the polymer C-More and decided it was not durable enough for combat. I believe this was also done back in a time before reflex sights had become mainstream for combat weapons, and they were still rather untrusted. In any event, the C-More seemed to have found its home primarily in the competition environment.
For me, my C-More sight found a home on a Colt 6933 upper.
This C-More model gives me a standard rear sight. If I wanted to I could remove the optic from this base and attach it to a rail mount base.
The Iron Sights provide a lower 1/3 co-witness.
Looking over the sights give an awesome sight picture with a crisp red dot in a thin circle.
Brightness is adjusted by a knob behind the emitter. On this model the brightness knob has distinct clicks and the first couple of settings are for night vision. On many C-More models this is just a click-less rheostat.
The battery compartment is in front of the emitter. On this model there are 2 non-captive thumbscrews holding the top plate on. Other C-More models use Allen screws. I don’t think these screws would come loose on their own, but if they did they would be easy to lose.
Windage and Elevation adjustments each have a locking screw. Neither adjustment has clicks, so you just turn the screw the amount you hope is right, lock it down, test fire, then adjust again. While click less adjustments are sometimes heralded as superior due to the ability to make smaller adjustments than a set click value, but in reality it tends to just make the zeroing procedure guesswork.
When I came up with the idea of doing the optic of the week posts, I planned to do side my side speed and handling comparisons of the various optics. For example, in years past it used to be considered common knowledge that the Eotech was “faster” than the Aimpoint. I believed this for a while and that is why I started with Eotech. Finally the multiple personal Eotech failures drove me to Aimpoint. Now when I try these various optics side by side, I don’t notice a measurable speed difference, they all just work (with a few notable exceptions).
I really love this sight, but in the end I do not recommend it. It has been discontinued, so that makes it hard to recommend in the first place. Now days we have newer and smaller optics that have proven to be very durable and have much longer battery life(such as the Aimpoints) that render this old design obsolete. The open design of the C-More allows the chance of dirt or debris to block the emitter. In the past the light from the emitters of reflex sights were often considered a major deal breaker as it might compromise your location to the enemy. Over time the massive force multiplier that optics function is considered to well offset the risk of your location being revealed to the enemy by the sight. I find the C-More red emitter and glare from the lens is very visible from in front of the optic. It seems more so than newer alternatives. I tried to get some pictures of this but I was unable to get it to show up well.
I think the C-More is a really nice sight, but it has been eclipsed by newer, better options.