LaRue, Colt, KAC Battle Carbines Compared Part 1

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Today I am thankful that I got to try a few different rifles this morning.  I did side by side shooting of a Larue 7.62 Ultimate Upper rifle, Colt LE901-16SE, and a KAC SR25-EC.

It isn’t really fair to directly compare these as there are some major differences between them.  Sort of like comparing apples to apples to oranges.  But that never stopped me from being critical about things before.

This first comparison will be short.  I had these three rifles available to me so I decided I would start with 20 rounds each rapid fire with an Aimpoint T-1.  I would do some rapid engagements of a target at 10 yards, and do some double taps at 10 yards.  I ended up firing 32 rounds from the Larue due to functioning issues, and only 20 from the others.  Not exactly a comprehensive test, but a start.

From top to bottom, KAC, Larue, Colt.  20 round groups rapid fire off hand at 10 yards.  Mostly rapid pairs.

I shot the Colt LE901-16SE first.  When Colt release the 901, they first released the LE901-16S, which was a full railed model.  I believe they sold a few -18S with an 18 inch barrel.
After that, they release the -16SE.  They shaved a pound off the rifle by replacing the quad rail on the monolithic hand guard with a proprietary modular rail.  This model appears to have been discontinued and the newest model, the CM762 adds an ambi safety, longer MLOK hand guard, and an ambi charging handle.  The new model is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor with a 18 inch barrel.

The rifle is is stock configuration with a Aimpoint T-1 added to it for the comparison.  With the exemption of the lack of an ambi safety, I found the controls on this rifle to be the best.  The right side bolt release is easier to hit, the larger and lower left side mag release gives more leverage and is easier to use.

The list weight on the -16SE is 8.4 pounds.  When I shot it I found it tended to recoil straight up.  I felt that it was fast and easy to shoot, but my performance on paper was the worst with it.  Back when I the 901-16S side by side with the 901-16SE, I found that that 1 additional pound of weight made the fully railed 901-16S have much less felt recoil.

The Ultimate Upper is an economy large frame rifle kit from Larue Tactical.  You can purchase the upper kit in SR25 or DPMS pattern.  If you buy a kit you can buy a Larue lower for it.  This isn’t really a fair comparison to the others as I added a Surefire Warcomp to this rifle.  The Warcomp can drastically reduce recoil.  I think this gave the Larue the major advantage in shooting.  But I had multiple short strokes when shooting the Larue.  I fired an additional 12 rounds at another target trying to diagnose the issue and trying out the offset sights.

The Larue lower is the only one of the bunch that isn’t ambidextrous.  I find the bolt catch on it harder to use than the one on the 901.  Not hard on its own, but less easy than the 901.  The receiver extension on the Larue is AR10 pattern, but doesn’t have the hole locations to collapse the stock completely.  The photo above shows the stock as closed as it will go.  This made the UU kit rifle longer than the others.

The Safety Level that Larue includes in their parts kit is horrible.  I have two of these Larue safeties and they don’t move positively.  Several times when I was bringing the rifle up for a fast aimed shot, attempting to flick the safety off it would only move half way.  I did not have any issues with the safeties on the other rifles.

The recoil spring on the Larue is much lighter and easier to work the action than the other two .308 rifles.  Felt more like racking a standard AR15.  When firing the action felt like it moved much slower than the other rifles.  I think this also made it feel more controllable and easier to shoot well it – when it worked.  Compared to the others, shooting the Larue Ultimate Upper kit felt like shooting one of the other rifles in slow motion.  I’m going to start calling this the LTUU762 for Larue Tactical Ultimate Upper.

Unlike the others, the KAC SR25-EC uses a rifle length gas system on the 16 inch barrel.  I had always heard that the KAC SR25 were so extremely smooth shooting.  Much to my disappointment it didn’t seem any better than the others.

The SR25s for a long time not have come with ambi controls.  The right side safety is scalloped and the rifle has a right side bolt release.  The rifle weighs about 2 pounds heavier than the other rifles.  This was noticeable in the handling and recoil characteristics.

When shooting the SR25-EC it recoiled straight up.  Settles right back down on target.  To me it seemed like it had similar recoil to the 901, but the 901 is about 2 pounds lighter.

I think it was the lighter two stage trigger on the KAC that helped me shoot it rapidly better than the standard AR15 trigger on the 901.

So?

Right now, if I had to pick one for a fight it would be the 901.  Even thought I shot it worst in this side by side comparison, it is far lighter than the KAC, and the LTUU7.62 is currently unreliable.  I previously had a Warcomp and match trigger in the 901, and it drastically reduced recoil and made it easier to shoot.  I returned it to stock before this comparison.

I’ll be talking more about these rifles in the future.

More Random Interesting Things

Today I decided to do another post about things I have run across or  crosses my mind. Like the first time  I did this it will be images I found interesting or noteworthy.

First off is a first.  Serial number 1 Colt model of 1911.   It doesn’t get any more historic than that.

On that note, here is a colt recently shown by RIA.   A great example of the gunmaker and engravers art.

This is an interesting picture I ran across on a facebook page about the Vietnam war.   A soldier that is a radio operator who seems to not have liked to the idea of not carrying anything.   But the part that sticks out is the “sniper rifle”.  I don’t think it is a Model 70 based on the shape of the stock and rear sight.  It may be a M700.   An optic has been mounted to the gun by some one.  In this case the optic appears to be the m84 optic originally put on the sniper variants of the M1 Garand.   Some did end up being used on M14s during the war when sniper rifles were urgently needed.

More on sniper stuff is this SOF cover of a kinda well known image.  Taken during the invasion of Iraq, it’s a USMC sniper team.  I have always liked this picture.  It really gives us a look back on how much has changed since then.  Changes in guns and gear  has been rapid since things started in 2001.

Seems the russians have a  interesting way of training prospective snipers.

 

Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver, MIA in during the Vietnam war while on a cross border top secret operation.   I think everyone who would come to a site like this has heard of him.  A few months ago on one of the militaria collectors forum shared something he was able to secure from Green Beret Shriver’s mother.

The dress uniform  may or may not have been worn by the legend. It was used at  the funeral service for Shriver. An empty casket as real life action hero’s body  has never been recovered to date.

Above is the picture of  1 carbine owned by another legend. The gun was owned my Audie Murphy and given to a friend. the mags are still taped up  the way Murphy had them with  the same ammo it came with when gifted to his friend.

Last is a bit of humor I ran across that gave me a good laugh.

Whatever Happened To… Stainless Steel Shotshells?

Again today we have the re post from weaponsman.com.  Kevin, AKA “Hognose” passed away last year and to preserve his work we repost his writing here to save it .

 

By Kevin O’Brien

We’re not referring to those shotshells containing stainless (or not) steel shot, designed by environmentalists to embugger waterfowl and upland hunters.  We’re talking about shotshell cases that were made of stainless steel, to let owners safely fire modern black powder loads in ancient — even Damascus-barreled — breech-loading shotguns.

This 1878 Colt (now on Gun Broker) is an example of the kind of gun that could use these.

This 1878 Colt (which just now sold, or didn’t, on Gun Broker) is an example of the kind of gun that could use these.

They were once manufactured by a company in Yuba City, California (one suspects an offshoot of the then-beginning-to-struggle SoCal aerospace industry) named Conversion Arms, Inc., and promoted nationally. But since then, they’ve vanished without a trace.

Here’s what the late John T. Amber, for many years editor of Gun Digest, wrote about them in the 1979 annual:

Stainless steel shotshells

Modern smokeless powder shotgun cartridges are a no-no for old shotguns made long ago – the outside hammer guns, with or without Damascus (twist) barrels, even many early hammerless guns – and factory loads powered by black powder are hard to find, impossible to locate in many areas.

This Union Machine Co gun is Belgian proofed. It's in remarkable condition -- the bores on these old guns are often trashed by corrosive cartridges of the day.

This Alger Arms Co gun (not Union Machine as the picture filename says, our error) is Belgian proofed. It’s in remarkable condition — look at the case hardening, still visible! The bores on these old guns are often trashed by corrosive cartridges of the day. This one doesn’t appear to be — $825 starting bid on GB. This was the sort of gun the conversion cartridges were meant to save.

Now there’s a good solution – Conversion Arms, Inc. (PO Box 449, Yuba City, CA 95991) has just introduced all-stainless steel 12-ga. shotshells (2 ¾” and 2 ½”) formed at the base to take standard number 11 percussion caps. No loading or priming tools are needed – simply fill with black powder, 50 to 70 grains of FFG being suggested, add a card wad or plastic shot cap, pour in 1¼ oz. of shot, place a card was over the pellets and push the cap on the integral nipple.

You can, of course, vary the shot load, too, but in any setup use a fair amount of pressure on the over-powder wad and on the over- shot wad for best combustion and performance. A wooden dowel or “short starter” works well, and snug-fitting cork or felt wads can be substituted if space permits.

CAI sells these S. S. shotshells for $7.95 each or two for $14.95 postpaid, and a detailed instruction pamphlet on their use is included. They’re guaranteed for life.

Of course, a lifetime guarantee may not be for your lifetime, but the company’s — whichever comes first. The guarantee only works if the company hangs around. California Secretary of State records show that Conversion Arms, Inc. was registered in 1977 and at some time after that — the records don’t say — was delisted for failing to pay taxes. (That usually happens when the company goes paws up).

English Hooper (probably W.C.Scott) damascus barrels. Another GunBroker sale (higher end).

English H. Hooper (probably made for Hooper by W.C.Scott) damascus barrels. Another GunBroker sale (higher end).

 

Amber’s write-up seems to have been that old journalistic dodge, a paraphrased press release, but it makes us wonder why this idea flopped. We’ve often looked at some beautifully crafted old Damascus gun and passed it up, just because there’s no shooting it. (Maybe there is, now, with cowboy-action driven blackpowder loads. We dunno). But these simple shells would have made it possible to pattern Ol’ Betsy and take her hunting again, and that’s something. Why did they die? Were they too odd a product? Did they appeal to too narrow a public? Was the price too high? In 1979, a cheap imported double-barrel shotgun still listed at $179. The rock bottom of the market, the H&R Topper Youth Shotgun and its Iver Johnson knock-off, were $65 and $55 respectively. It may just be that for the few of us crazies who want to shoot an old shotgun more than the latest trap gun made in a workshop in Italy where Michelangelo once apprenticed in the stock-carving shop, brass black powder cartridges available now are good enough.

This all happened almost 20 years before the Internet went public and interactive, and so, before the event horizon of the net, we were unable to find a single write-up or photo of these things online.

As we mentioned, there is an alternative: although the shells don’t reinforce the chamber the way stainless steel ones did, Rocky Mountain Cartridge sells lathe-turned brass shotshells and a loading kit (.pdf). The prices vary by gauge and length; the chambering of most old American shotguns, 12 gauge 2½”, costs $75.00 for a minimum-order box of ten (.pdf) — the same unit price of one of the Conversion Arms shells, but in deflated 2016 dollars. The loading kit is another $60 or so.

About Hognose

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

Rock Island Auction Colt Monitor

Rock Island Auction  has been putting out teasers for an upcoming auction. This one  being worthy of sharing I thought.

Everyone recognizes the iconic Thompson SMG ( no relation to me ) but what’s that BAR with the weird looking stock?  That is the ultra rare Colt Monitor Machine Rifle. The idea was a shortened and lighter version of the BAR for mainly domestic LEO use.  After shortening the barrel, removing the bipod, adding a pistol grip and using a lighter weight receiver.  This kept the gun at about 16 pounds.  A cutts compensator was added to aid in recoil control.    In a way it seems this version was a bit ahead of its time. With shortened barrel and pistol grip and an lighter weight I have no idea why it didn’t catch on with governments around the world and the US Gov.   Less than 150 were made so maybe that made a difference.  Maybe because the US gov figured it had enough of the original models and didn’t want  to spend the money.  If so, that would be the first time the US gov didn’t want to spend money on something.

9mm AR15s

Larry Vickers recently posted a cool video on the Colt 9mm SMG.

 

Long ago I had a Colt AR6450 9mm upper.  I bought it along with a used VM Hitech Uzi Magazine adapter.  It was fun, but I remember my first impression was that the 9mm felt like it had more recoil than a 5.56.

I can’t find a picture of the upper I had, but it looked much like the one in the picture above.  With Uzi mags and the VM HiTech Block it ran well.  I eventually replaced the upper with a flat top and added a KAC M4 RAS to have a quad railed handguard.  Later I decided I wanted something shorter so I sold the upper and bought a RRA 9mm upper.  I can only find one messy photo of that setup:

That upper ran fine, but I remember I didn’t like that the bore wasn’t chromed.  The barrel profile on the RRA upper was so heavy that the RAS barely fit, and I remember that 10.5 inch upper feeling heavier than the Colt 16 inch upper it replaced.  I really didn’t like it.  From them I vowed not to sell something until I had its replacement in hand already.  A rule I still usually don’t follow.

This picture found online shows the VM HiTech block well.  It allows for use of unmodifed Uzi mags, but you have to use the new mag release at the bottom left side of the block.  I’ll admit I hit the standard release more than a few times while using this block and dropped the entire block.

While it all worked, I ended up getting rid of that whole setup.

 

Some time back I saw that Colt was making a new version of their 9mm SMG and 9mm AR15s.  Pretty much the only change was that they were coming from the factory with a flat top upper.  They offered 10.5 inch barreled model, the 6991, and a 16 inch model the Colt 6951.  I saw a cheap used 6991 upper, so I picked it up along with a Hahn Precision mag block.

Here is a pretty lousy pic of the setup:

I’ve had no issues with it, and it is fun to shoot.  But really, pistols calibers are not what the AR is best at.