5.56 Timeline

Buyer beware: stolen or surplussed military optics.

Sometimes you can stumble across a deal that is too good to be true.

For example, not to long ago one dealer was selling used Aimpoints, Eotechs, and ACOGs very cheap.  Aimpoints were running about 100-200 dollars including a Wilcox mount($90 MSRP), $300 dollar TA01NSN ACOGs and Eotech 553s.

Needless to say these were all used and abused military equipment.  But we don’t know if these were legitimately surplus of if they “fell off the truck”.

There are a few major issues with buying surplus optics.  The first is that there is the chance it is stolen.  If it is stolen, and there is an investigation, you have have to turn it back over to the government with out compensation.

The second is that if you have an issue with the optic, the manufacturer may not offer warranty or repair it.  Companies like Aimpoint, Trijicon, and L3 do not have a way of knowing if an optic was stolen government property or if was properly surplussed out.  Because of this, most of the time these companies will not service these optics.

I bring this up because Law-Guns were selling military Eotech 553s.  Some people were buying these and sending them in to Eotech to be rebuilt.  Finally Eotech said these are government property, and confiscated the ones sent it.

Thoughts on the Short Barreled AR15.

Some years back I decided I would convert one of my AR15s to a short barreled rifle.  After paying a 200 dollar tax stamp and waiting a long time, I started with a LMT 10.5 inch upper.

The first time I shot that short upper I decided I wanted a suppressor.  That ended up costing me a great deal of money.

That picture shows two products I ended up having issues with.  My Eotech 512 had the battery contacts fail on me.  I also found out that the threads on my LMT upper were not cut concentric to the bore.  That issue lead to a 10 minute of angle point of impact shift between suppressed and unsuppressed.

My first silencer was a Gemtech M4-02.  The can performed great but it was a thread on can.  Each time I screwed it on or off the rifle I was worried about damaging the threads and I had to keep a flash hider or thread protected around for when I wasn’t using the can.  So I did more research on suppressors and I ended up buying a Surefire 556K can.

I found I preferred using ACOG optics on my SBR.  The ACOG gave me better target recognition and the bullet drop chart aided in shooting farther distances.

In the above photo my rifle has a Surefire muzzle break.  That break stayed on my rifle for one whole range session.  I find the increased flash and blast of a muzzle break on a short barreled rifle not worth the minimal amount of reduced recoil.

Around the time I decided I would have to do something about the major point of impact shift with my LMT upper I found out about a new rail on the market, the Daniel Defense MK18RISII.  I bought one along with a 10.5 inch medium contour match barrel.

When the above photo was taken I was trying out an early production Magpul UBR.  Many people on gun forums were claiming this was the ultimate rifle stock.  I found it to be awkward and heavy and very quickly got rid of it.  They don’t seem to be that popular any more.

Since then I have had a SBR AR15 in 9mm, 5.45.  I also had a LWRC PSD in 5.56.  The pistol caliber carbines are fun, but lack the usefulness at longer distances.  The LWRC with its 8.5 inch barrel and piston system was heavier then my 10.5 inch direct impingement uppers.

The 10 inch 5.56 SBR is the shortest I prefer to go.  Shorter then that you give up a great deal in ballistics and terminal performance.  A longer rifle starts to get awkward when using a suppressor.

I really love the short barreled AR15, but it is not something I would recommend to everyone.  Unless you are using suppressors I don’t think SBRs are that worth while.  If your thinking about getting into a short barreled AR15, look at the Colt 6933 and the Colt 6945.  I’ve purchased a Colt 6945 and am eagerly awaiting it.

The Eotech 553 (SU-231/PEQ)

I asked several people, “If fool me once is shame on you and fool me twice is shame on me, what do you call the third time?”

My favorite response was that if it happened a third time, “You’re an idiot.”

I’ve owned three Eotechs, I have owned three broken Eotechs.  I suppose that fact makes me an idiot.

I picked up an Eotech 553, an older model marked SU-231/PEQ.  This model is popular due to all the photos of SEALs and Rangers using this optic.

The battery contacts on it broke.  This isn’t a fluke, it is a known issue with this model.  SOCOM had something to say about the Eotech 553:

To all concerned:

The SOPMOD Program Management Office (PMO) is issuing this notice to all potential users of the EOTech SU-231/PEQ Reflex Sight, NSN 1240-01-533-0941, also known as the holographic weapon sight.

1. It was recently brought to the attention of the SOPMOD PMO that there exists the possibility that the SU-231/PEQ Reflex Sight made by EOTech is susceptible to failure characterized by the sight shutting off in the middle of weapon fire.

2. The failure is caused by faulty battery contacts that were incorporated by EOTech without government concurrence. (See attached image). These faulty battery contacts are susceptible to wear due to shock while the weapon is firing. As a result, the batteries may lose contact, causing the sight to shut off.

3. EOTech has qualified a new supplier of these battery contacts and the SOPMOD PMO is currently validating this new configuration through testing. By mid April 2008, this process should be complete. At that time, SOPMOD will institute a 100 percent replacement of the SU-231/PEQs that have already been fielded. Maintenance Contact Teams will travel to field units to either swap out the sights with replacements or conduct on-site field repairs. As an interim solution, the SOPMOD PMO is currently testing a field replaceable grommet that will mitigate the risk of failure. Pending test results, these grommets will be shipped as part of a field replacement kits to units that have been issued the SU-231/PEQ.

4. The SOPMOD PMO has ordered a halt on any further fielding of this item until sufficient testing has been performed on sights with the incorporated part upgrade. For those field units that have already received the SU-231/PEQ, the SOPMOD PMO strongly recommends not using those sights until they can be replaced or repaired.

Even after this I hear multiple reports of the 553 failing and that Eotech is now replacing military 553s sent in with the newer EXPS models.  I hear so many people claim the 553 is good and proven, but there are other better options.

So instead of a good and proper review, this is another rant about how I can not and will not recommend Eotech optics.  I will post a more proper review some other time, also I can’t seem to get the reticle to show up in my photos at this time.

Selecting a Home Defense Firearm

The topic of what firearm should I use for home defense is a question that people get a million answers on. Most of the time, your local gun store, unknowledgeable friend or people who have little training experience, will tell you a shotgun because you can’t miss. Sometimes you even get some of these same people telling you never a “high powered rifle round”, mostly referring to 223/5.56mm, it will over penetrate. And yes, always the classic answer of, whatever you feel comfortable with. In most cases all of the above answers are wrong.

When approaching the topic of what firearm you want to use for home defense, you need to be thinking about several things. Most importantly: (1). Your specific home layout. (2). Other people in the home, specifically children. These two important topics will help you answer several questions, on what firearm you are going to choose as your primary home defense weapon. When thinking about these two topics, you can answer specific round selection, accuracy, handling/ease of manipulation, important defensive accessories, (i.e. lights and sights) and accessibility. All of this will point you towards what firearm(s) will need to be selected.

Colt LE6920
Colt LE6920 / AR15

The Clear Choices:

There is no doubt that we are talking about three specific types of firearms here. These firearms are the standard for defense and have a proven track record in Law Enforcement, Military and Civilian use.

(1). A reliable full size semi auto Handgun, (Glock, S&W M&P, H&K, Sig, 1911 and others).

(2). A (Reliable) AR15 type rifle in 223/5.56mm, (i.e. Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense).

(3). A Shotgun ( i.e. Remington 870’s, Mossberg 500’s or Winchester Defender).

Now out of these choices you can probably eliminate one choice, the shotgun, right away in my opinion. I say this because once you start to answer a few of the questions stated earlier, the Shotgun is clearly the bottom of the three. The shotgun is larger, heavy, harder to maneuver in a home and impossible to fire multiple rounds one handed. I could keep going, but you get the idea. Also, racking it does not have the effect people believe it to have. Don’t get me wrong I love a good Remington 870. It’s an awesome weapon and very effective, but it has a specific place/role and you can miss with the 00 buck pellets. Contrary to what most people believe, you still have to aim with a shotgun. Modern Duty buckshot has a tighter pattern than the buckshot of 10 and 15 years ago. You will be accountable for those rounds if you miss because they will enter other rooms. Depending on the number of buckshot, it can range from eight to nine 25 cal. pellets to 32 cal. pellets, flying out of the barrel. They will pass through drywall retaining most of their mass.

Now let’s talk about why the semi-auto handgun and AR15 are arguable the two best choices. As we delve into them further, you will also see more reasons why the shotgun is the last choice, possibly not really a choice at all. My opinion is the handgun and the AR15 would serve most people the best. They are only separated by your particular home needs.

GunVault, Glock, Colt LE6920
GunVault, Glock, Colt LE6920


If you have to grab a firearm in a defensive situation and you have little ones at home, you most likely will need the use of one hand. You may also need a free hand to call for help, open doors, lock doors or pick up a little one. The handgun makes perfect sense in these situations. The handgun is the most compact and maneuverable firearm you can use. Once you rack it and its ready to go, you have the ability to have one hand free if needed.

You can move throughout your home in a high ready position, keeping the firearm close to your body. This will help avoid someone grabbing your firearm or pushing the muzzle down while coming around corners in the home.

One thing to keep in mind about a handgun is the rounds are larger and slower moving than a rifle round. Large slow moving rounds tend to retain more mass when going through barriers in the home, especially drywall. You do not want to be frantically shooting towards a loved one’s room, missing your target. Very good personal defense rounds for handguns (i.e. Federal HST, Winchester Ranger and Speer Gold Dot) are designed to penetrate auto glass, for law enforcement agencies. These are also some of the best rounds for personal defense in handguns. They will retain almost all of their mass, especially when passing through dry wall.

Glock High Ready
Glock 17 High Ready
Colt LE6920 / Negotiating Corners.
Colt LE6920 / Negotiating Corners.

Any good modern firearm will most likely have a integrated rail on the frame. This allows you to attach various weapon lights on the handgun, giving you the ability to identify anyone in the home. You will be able to manipulate the light controls with one hand on the handgun as well. Target identification is paramount in these situations. You do not want to shoot a family member because you could not see them and thought they were the bad guy.

The handgun also allows you to store the firearm in a quick access safe, like a Gunvault safe. This insures others in the home, that you do not want getting a hold of the handgun, cannot access the firearm. A quick access safe can be stored, discreetly, anywhere in your home and gives you the ability to place several handguns in key areas of the home.

With all of these options you can see a reliable full size handgun is a very good choice. I feel it is the number one choice in most cases. I utilize several quick access safe throughout my home.


A reliable AR15 is also a very good choice for a home defense firearm. Keeping in mind those two key topics, the 223/5.56mm round is one of the best rounds you can use for home defense. Terminal performance of the 223/5.56mm round is also going to stop a threat more effectively than a handgun round. It’s a fast moving small round and is more likely not to over penetrate or go through multiple barriers, (with the right round selection). M855 is not a home defense round.

The AR15 is a compact shoulder fired weapon and is going to be more accurate than a handgun. You will find that a handgun at full extension comes close to the extended muzzle of a 16″ AR15. With some training and practice you can move throughout a home very effectively. The AR15 is going to have a larger ammunition capacity than either the handgun or shotgun. You have the ability to use the support hand for brief periods of time, opening doors, moving something or dialing for emergency help. But, when it comes to firing rounds you will need both hands on the rifle. Also you will need to use the support hand to activate your light.

Colt LE6920, Aimpoint, Streamlight
Colt LE6920, Aimpoint, Streamlight TLR-1
Handgun at Extention
Handgun at Extention

With the AR15 you will be able to add accessories to mount, a weapon light and a red dot optic, (i.e. Aimpoint, Eotech or other). This will allow you to identify your target and get fast accurate shot placement.


I took no pictures with a shotgun for this article because I currently do not have a shotgun. I sold my 870 and my Mossburg 590 long ago. I feel the shotgun does not have the advantages of a handgun or AR15 in the home, especially when you need to think about your family response plan. I currently use both an AR15 and handguns throughout my home, in the previously mentioned quick access safes. As my young ones grow older the rifle will slowly be fazed out and locked away.

Think long and hard about what role you, your wife or others my play in a home defense incident. Things are different when mom and dad are home, vs. only mom is home. Look at the layout of your home, are your kids upstairs or are they down the hall from you? Choosing the right firearm to move quickly to their rooms needs to be considered as well as possible scenarios, you may have to hold a child in one arm. Look at the support gear you will need, lights, optics and ammunition selection. Don’t buy something because the guy at the local guns store said it was the best or your buddy uses a particular firearm. Your needs and family makeup may be very different.

Either way, once you choose your dedicated home defense firearm(s), training and planning for your family will be key to an effective home defense. In the end, the only rounds that count are the rounds on target.


My Aimpoint ML2, A Decade in Use.

I am a very strong proponent of Aimpoint sights. You really cannot go wrong choosing any of the Aimpoint models. When I was with my hometown police department, I was the only officer on the force with an Aimpoint, I carried an ML2 (purchased 2003).  This Aimpoint was with me when I was on the Firearms Unit and testing for SWAT. There was a lot of discussion about the Eotechs on the department in 2004 and 2005. The department decided on the Eotechs for issue optics and I just could not understand this. Every time I had to do an entry, there was always one guy with an Eotech, who had a dead battery. The guys on the team where changing batteries monthly or every several weeks. I never had an issue with my ML2, it just kept going strong year after year.

I am still running my original Aimpoint ML2 on my personal home defense Colt LE6920. In fact, I am on the original battery from 2003. The only thing I worry about is possible corrosion, as the battery has been in it for almost ten (10) years now. I have simply kept it in the ML2 and on the rifle this long, to see when it will finally die.

Aimpoint ML2 4 MOA
Aimpoint ML2 4 MOA
Colt LE6920 w/ Aimpoint ML2
Colt LE6920 w/ Aimpoint ML2

Now you may be thinking, It has never been left on and has not been through any hard use. I will tell you that it was in a rifle mount on patrol, in a Crown Vic, for almost four (4) years. I used it as my primary Instructor Rifle Optic and Patrol Rifle Optic, on  several Colt rifles, LE6933, RO933, LE6921 and an LE6920 for several years. The optic has seen more rounds on rifles than I even know. It has been though countless training classes, entry schools and instructor schools. When it was on duty, the ML2 was on for an average of ten (10) hours a day four (4) days a week.

For the past six (6) years the ML2 has been my home defense optic, on a Colt LE6920. I do not keep it on all the time but it does get used a lot. Mostly during range time now and Loose Rounds articles. It is still going strong and I’m sure the battery will die soon. I tried to do a rough calculation of how many hours it has been on. The only hard number I could go off, was the roughly ten (10) hour duty times. I estimated about 8060 hours. I know it has seen more hours than this but I just don’t have a way to measure this.

LE6920 / Aimpoint ML2
LE6920 / Aimpoint ML2


The Aimpoint ML2 has a 10,000 hour battery life, (roughly one year). It has to be very close or over this mark. Given the fact it has stood up to every day patrol work, entry work, countless range days and tactical schools, on several different rifles, I would say Aimpoint is the only red dot optic I will ever use. If you purchase one of the newer Aimpoint models, (i.e. PRO, M3, ML3, M4, M4S, H1 or T1), with battery lives of 30,000 to 80,000 hours, these will likely last you a lifetime. There is no other optic that gives you this much bang for the buck.