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A Taxonomy of Safeties

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

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

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

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

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

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

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

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

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

Safeties Classified by Operation

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

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

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

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

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

Combination Safeties

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

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

To Sum Up

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

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

Notes and Sources

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

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

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

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

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

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

Why we are not currently taking guest posts from strangers.

As you know, we here at LooseRounds.com like to stay pretty informal. We previously encouraged people to send us guest posts, but almost every week now we get sent some absolute garbage.

One example, we had someone submit an article, “Glock 42 V.s Desert Eagle: Which Is Best Suited For Military“. This wasn’t even a parody.  The intro picture was of a blank firing Beretta clone.  Phrases like, “Stops power” and “Handguns continuous inventions fail to include distinctive features.” were used much like how we butcher the English language.

I contacted the writer and told them that if they had written that sober, they should go see a doctor in case they had suffered a stroke.  Hell, if we wanted something written that poorly, I’d write it myself.

Optic of the week – SU-231/PEQ Eotech 553

Around a decade ago it was common knowledge that Eotechs were faster to use and better than Aimpoints.  Just like how not very long before that it was common knowledge that the Earth was flat.

The Eotech sights use a laser to project a hologram of the reticle in the optical window.  This allows for a greater variety of reticle patterns then a diode sight like the Aimpoint.  Most common in Eotech sights are a 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA circle around it.  A downside to holosights are shorter battery life.  Battery life on the Eotech is advertised to be about 1000 hours.

There are other variations with additional dots to function as a drop chart.  There are also machine gun reticles.

For the life of me, I could not get the reticle to show up nicely in a picture.  Despite how it looks in the photo, the reticle is bright and easy to see.  If you focus on the reticle, you will see that it is comprised of a bunch of dots, it will appear to be fuzzy if you have the brightness cranked up.  That is just due to the nature of how it works.

Windage and Elevation is easy to adjust using a coin or similar tool.  Both adjustments have positive clicks and are easily accessible on the right side of the sight.

Brightness is adjusted using the up and down arrow buttons on the rear of the sight (there are some models where the adjustments are on the left side of the sight).  If the sight is off, hitting one of these buttons will turn on the sight.

The Eotech will automatically turn it self off it preserve battery life.  Turning it on by hitting the down button will have the Eotech turn off after 4 hours.  Hitting the up button will have it off after 8 hours.  Holding both buttons will turn the Eotech off immediately.

Some models, like this 553 have a NV button that will dim the optic for night vision use.  While you can sorta get away with using most optics with night vision by using a dim setting, that can damage nightvision over time.  NV setting reduce the brightness enough so that you will not damage your expensive night vision device.

I did some shooting with this Eotech and with a Aimpoint T-1 on the same rifle.  Shooting from the bench, or rapidly engaging multi targets off hand was quick and easy with either optic.  Both were fast and easy to use, but I would not say the Eotech was any faster or easier than the Aimpoint.  The only real noticeable difference in use was that this Eotech 553 felt much heavier on the rifle than the T-1.  Looking at the stats on them, the Eotech is about 3 times heavier.  That is an additional half pound on the rifle over the weight of the T-1.

I used to be a major fan of Eotechs.  But over the years I saw multiple Eotech Holographic Weapon Sights fail in various ways.  Battery terminals would break, I’ve seen the prism break loose.  Lenses delaminate, and reticles dimming.  The biggest issue was that many Eotechs would drain their batteries even when off.  I found that my Eotech 512 would drain the batteries even when off.  I had to store it with the batteries removed.  I felt the high failure rate of Eotech sights was damning on its own.

Turns out it gets worse.  L3 was aware of issues with their like of Eotech sights, and were covering it up.  L3 paid a settlement of 25.6 million dollars over this.  The biggest issues they were covering up were that the sight wasn’t actually parallax free and that there could be massive zero changes if the optic was exposed to temperature changes and it turns out that Eotech sights also were not as waterproof as they are suppose to be.

Despite these persistent issues, you still see fans of Eotech sights defend them online.    The most often statement in Eotech’s defense is that the Navy SEALs are using Eotech sights.  I point out that the SEALs use what they are issued, are the individuals are not purchasing these out of pocket.  They also have far more range time and funding so doing stuff like rezeroing before a mission or replacing batteries each mission is a non issue.  But even NSWC Crane had to issue a Safety of Use Message about the Eotech warning about a 4 MOA Thermal Drift problem, fading and disappearing reticles, and 4-6 MOA parallax error.  SOCOM acknowledge these sights have issues.

So if you want a known substandard sight, buy Eotech.

Optic of the week: Aimpoint T-1

“It is probably the perfect optic for the AR, isn’t it.” -Shawn.

I stumbled across an old email from 2013 where I told a friend that I thought the T-1 was the king of reflex optics.  Despite there being the newer T-2 and similar optics like the Trijicon MRO, I still stick to my statement.

What makes the Aimpoint Micro T-1 great is very small size, light weight (3 oz with out mount) and long battery life of up to 5 years.  That makes a combination that is hard to beat.

There isn’t much not to like about the T-1.  Now if you wanted to start a list of complaints the first would be cost.  After that is that the stock mount is low profile so you would need to either add a riser or use an aftermarket mount if you are attaching it to an AR15.  I prefer the Larue QD mounts for the T-1 but that does add to the price of the optic.

When people talk about the massive battery life of modern optics like the Aimpoints, they are referencing the possible battery life at about three quarters maximum brightness (a normal operating brightness).  When the T-1 is set to maximum brightness, this battery life is shortened to about 10 months.  But to put it in perspective, the Trijicon MRO also has a battery life of 5 years on setting 5 of 8, but only 25 days on the brightest setting.  Many older optics and cheap optics will only run for a few days.

The T-1 is available in 2 and 4 MOA models.

I have a hard time getting the reticle to show up well when I snap photos of them.

Here is a picture of a 2 MOA T-1 with the brightness on max so the dot would show up in the picture.  This one has an IO/Tango Down cover installed, and a KAC battery cover.

This is a 4 MOA T-1 on a Larue LT660 mount.  The dots show up clearly and bright in person, I don’t know how to get them to show up in pictures well.

Adjustments are 1/2 MOA.  Adjustments require a tool, which is provided as the cap for each adjustment.  Be careful as it would be easy to lose the adjustment caps.

Flipping the cap upside down allows you to use it as the adjustment tool.  It shows you which direction you need to turn for the adjustment.

Now I would say that the only real downside to the T-1 is cost.  But if you run it co-witnessed with fixed iron sights, the small window makes it a little harder to use.  You might want to consider a larger optic if you are running it with fixed iron sights.

It is normally recommended to go with the 2 MOA models.  You can turn up the brightness if you want a larger visible dot, and it is suppose to look better if you are using a magnifier.  I have a mix of 2 MOA and older 4 MOA models, and much to my surprise when I was using them size by with with a magnifier the 4 MOA dot was crisper under magnification.

For a long time I said I never saw an Aimpoint fail, but more recently I have.  Both cases were user error.  The first was an used T-1 I purchased where the previous owner cross threaded on an aftermarket KAC battery cap.  When they attempted to remove it they put a wrench on the stuck cap and turned the brightness adjuster past its stops.  I sent the optic back to Aimpoint and while it took a while, they repaired it and sent it back at no cost.  The second case was my fault, and a really simply error.  I have a KAC battery cover, and this cover has a space so you can put a second spare battery in it.  I didn’t have the second battery under this cap, so then under recoil the battery would pop out of place and my sight shut down.  Installing a second battery (as per the aftermarket cap requires) solved this issue.

I love how small and light the T-1 is.  When used you can sort of see around it when you keep both eyes open and it takes up much less space in the view than most other reflex sights.  I’ve bought all of mine used, as they are hard to screw up and and you can save a good bit of money getting it used.  The Micro T-1 is easy to use and I highly recommend it.

Zero your damn MRDS.

Before zeroing the pictured mini red dot sight, it was impacting 4 feet high, and a foot right at 50 yards.

Some time back I really got into the piggy back mini red dot sight (MRDS) on top the ACOG.  I’ve also run them on top and offset from higher magnification scopes.

So having started running these offset and piggyback MRDS, I got really curious about how other people were using them.  So I asked people, in person and on gun forums.

“Oh, it’s for close range, so it’s not zeroed.”

Now to be fair, there was one person who said he zeroed his at 10 feet.  All the rest had their mini red dots unzeroed.

The point of a firearm is to be able to place rounds on a desired target.  Be that target a piece of paper, prey, or a hostile combatant, we index our firearm on the target in order to achieve that effect on target.  We use our sights to verify that the firearm is aligned and indexed with the target.

It is pointless to have an unzeroed optic.

“But Howard, I’m only going to use the red dot at super close range.”

At close range is there it is most important that your shots are effective.  If you have a less than ideal hit on a bad guy 500 yards out and they take a few minutes to bleed to death, that would just be a shame.  But if up close you fail to instantly neutralize a target, the result could be deadly for you, or those you care about.

The big downsize to having these secondary miniature sights is odd height over bore or offset issues.  These issues can lead to these offset sights being massively off, like the one pictured above.  Offset sights are usually sitting on a stack of mounts attached to a handguard that may or may not be parallel with the bore.  It can be very easy to be multiple feet off target at close ranges with an unzeroed offset sight.  Your average sight on an AR15 is 2.6 inches over the bore.  A piggy back red dot can easily be 4+ inches over the bore.  This height over bore makes picking a good zero difficult.

There is going to be a part 2 to this article, where I will go over some of your options when zeroing an offset or piggyback MRDS.

Inland MFG “jungle M1 Carbine ” Review & Accuracy Test

Inland Mfg has been on a pretty good roll since they brought the old name back online and started producing weapons that could have been  if only they had continued.    I have already tested and reviewed their M1 carbine and their excellent USGI M1911A1.  If you read those reviews you know I was impressed with both.   The first M1 I tested rated pretty highly with me, though the same gun got a bad rap by some later testers who didn’t mention the hell I had put it through in my abusive testing.   I couldn’t make it fail me no matter how hard I tried while keeping my abuse within reality.  This  Jungle Carbine, as the company calls it is just as tough, possibly more accurate and has a nifty little new feature easy to miss.

The  Jungle M1 Carbine comes in a very nice box that keeps it packed nice and tight. Not really something that matters about the guns function, but to me sometimes attention paid to these kind of details can give you a hint about how seriously the maker takes other aspects.

The inside has the gun snug in foam , with sight and bolt handle protectors.  It came with two 15 round mags and a new Inland 30 round magazine. It also came with the owners manual etc, and the ever present lawyer lanyard.

Looking at the blister pack the 30 rounder cam in, I noticed on the back the specs for other mags Inland offers,  I did not know they had a 10 rounder. But that is good to know.  If you decided you wanted to hunt with the gun, this would make finding a magazine limited to the legal capacity for hunting a lot easier.

The mags all seem to be made to the mil specs of all other real USGI  M1 carbine mags I have seen and owned.  They worked as they should with no problems.  It can be dicey getting surplus mags that work in my experience so its good to know you can get new ones that are up to snuff.

The carbine has all the markings as other models in all the right places,  This mimics the USGI models and the originals.  Just like the WW2 models, this one has all the same small details attended to.

The buttstock has the logo and the slot for the oil bottle  that also works as the mounting point for the sling.  The wood of the stock on the test model is a nice walnut, darker than the first test gun and has the look  you associate with originals with their darker stocks.  Some people I showed the first model , thought the lighter color of the wood some how was off to their eyes.  I had to point out to them that they are used to seeing stocks oiled and reoiled over 60 years.

Of course the new Inlands have something hard to find on originals. A top handguard that actually matches the rest of the stock.

The fire controls are all standard M1 carbine.  These having the button safety as opposed to the lever.  The mag release being forward of the safety. Something some people have said they have had trouble with in the past.  It is what it is though. The guns being made correctly to the originals more than trying to modernize or correct anything.

The bolt operates the same as all others, cycle to chamber a round, with a button at the rear , used to manually lock the bolt back for administrative purposes or light cleaning or malfunction clearing. The mag will not lock empty on a 15 round man but it will on a 30 rounder.

Now on to accuracy testing.

I was able to make a very solid shooting set up for the gun. I took advantage of the slot in the stock and was able to lock it down almost like a vice.

After testing all the option of ammo which is basically different versions of ball ammo and some soft point, I selected the most accurate loads.  I used the PPU ball and some OLD remington soft points.   I then went on to shoot at 100, 125, 150 and some at 200 yards.

I have read a lot about the guns limited range and accuracy.  I get sick of this as it always seems to be more talk than action by those worthies.  I decided to shoot this gun  for accuracy in a way that would better show its potential on a man sized target in a self defense capacity.

First group at 100 yards.  I intended to shoot 10 rounds but lost count as you can see.  I fired this iron sight like I did all groups, and from the bench and bags.  The small peep is not good for my oddball eyes as a larger peep is easier for me.  So to make up for the peep not working well for my eyes and to make sure I got all I could out of it, I made sure to use the sand bagged/locked down set up.

The 125 yard group is shown on the targets “head”.  I have seen some guys who couldn’t do this with an M4 using an ACOG.   Not to say this is some how my ability, as I said the gun was nearly locked into a vice or as vicelike as I could manage, which was pretty good. I simple lined up the sights then worked the trigger while making  sure the gun didn’t slowly move off target.   After seeing this performance, I really wished I could pull the same set up off with other model rifles.

Above is the 150 yard group, Same set up.  The group isn’t much bigger than the first two.  Which ideally is what you would want, but I am sure it may surprise a decent amount of naysayers.   Not as good as a decent AR15 of course. but that is not a fair comparison. This was a PDW meant to replace the handgun.  This is still good enough to make a head shot possible if you could hold steady enough in the field.  Probably unlikely in combat  or any field shooting.  Making tight groups in the field is obviously a lot different than the range but you would be surprised how many seem to never want to acknowledge that little factoid.  Making hits accurately at any distance and in the field in any position  is something I wish we had more competitions that strove to replicate.

Group above is the 75 yard group. This is the closest I fired at this target and the group I set as the zero of the sights.  That is actually a 10 round group. This was fired with the  remington ammo that is so old I am not even going to bother showing because it couldn’t be found anyway. If  did show it, some one would go buy new made remington ammo and when it didn’t shoot as well blame me or be really let down.  The ammo was so old in fact, that some of it misfired.   I show this last because I originally didn’t intend to show it since the ammo can’t be purchased.  But on second thought, it is worth showing just to give an idea of my  zero and how well the gun will do within the range most people think is  “far” for it.

I had only 5 rounds left and fired at this tiny man shaped target at 200 yards .  I fired semi off hand  and hit it twice solid and a glance shot on the top (readers) left.   The other rounds landed so close I thought I hit it.  The entire target is a little bigger than the cardboard man sized Q target’s “head.”    The gun and round will make hits further.  You can find me making hits at 300 with the first test M1 I was sent.   The gun would make a great trunk gun or walking pack rifle or self defense gun if you live in a commie state.  No doubt it is still as handy today as it was in the 40s and 50s.

The reliability and function of the gun was as it should be,  I had no malfunctions other than ancient ammo being duds.  The gun worked though I left it un-oiled.  I fired  an uncomfortable amount of 30 carbine through it. Uncomfortable because of the price.  The gun had a hair over 500 rounds through it. All I could find at cabellas and every local guns store  and some old trashed looking stuff salvaged from a defunct pawn shop that had been collecting rust and dust since Rome fell.

Now to the new feature and something that make it more appealing to some.

The cone like flash hider/muzzle device may look funny to some, or familiar to others.   You may have seen something like it on the Bren, the British Enfield  “jungle carbine”  bolt action and possibly M1 carbines cut down and used by US  advisors, Special Forces  or Vietnamese troops  in Vietnam.   I’m not going to pretend to know the actual history of how any of those came in use and in association with use in jungles. Maybe Dan will have some insight to add or one of the wonderful  commentators who have started posting here more from weaponsman.   I will say that it looks pretty cool and it can be removed to allow you to thread on a sound suppressor. Or, the name it is known by if you are a left wing anti-gun kook, a silencer.  That is a pretty neat little perk I think.  This would allow mounting of a can to a gun that would look just like any USGI M1 but with a suppressor,  That would make for a neat package to me.  Of course you could attach other muzzle devices that  would work with the bore size.

The Jungle carbine otherwise is a gun made  for the smaller niche of Vietnam era Advisor type weapons. In the early years when US advisors and ARVN troops used the WW2 US family of weapons Many SF troops  would modify weapons to make them handier for jungle fighting.  Inland in fact makes a model they dubbed the Advisor which is a “pistol.”  That is to say the ATF  says that is what it is anyway.  It mimics a cut down M1 in a way a Green Beret would have  modifies it for easier jungle carry.

The small size and light recoil of the M1 made it popular with Vietnamese troops.  The communists and RVN troops both appreciated it s attributes.  You can see it in the hands of various units and factions in many pictures of the war.   In a time before the M16 became issued to ARV troop, no doubt it was much desired when compared to the M1 Garand  for the smaller sized Asian users.

No doubt in the hot jungles and hills and rice paddies, the M1 carbine would have been an easy rifle to carry.   Pictured above is the jungle carbine as used by an “advisor” wearing  ARVN airborne camo and using the M56 web gear. The M56 general purpose ammo pouches having been made in a transitional time and will hold the 30 round M1 carbine mags, M1 garand block clips, 40mm grenades, regular fragmentation grenades, M14 mags and BAR magazines. Of course a little later on , they held M16 twenty round mags.  A versatile pouch though it does have its flaws and draw backs.   Uniform and webgear from mooremilitaria.  If you are a collector of vietnam war gear and uniforms or just want some repro to wear and use, Moore militaria is your answer.   If you want a carbine, Inland is your answer to that.

Lastly., some ammo from 1952.  M1 carbine .30cal on  the original strippers. Ball and tracers 30 cal carbine.

 

The Best of “Weaponsman” Part 1 (M16A1 Maintenance Survey in Vietnam)

As we reported last week and as everyone familiar with this website knows, our friend Kevin O’Brien, AKA “Hognose”, passed away. Kevin was a good friend of looserounds and  we often shared info back and forth for a variety of gun related topics.    Not 100 percent  sure that weaponsman.com has will be available in the coming years I will be running a weekly ( or maybe more or less often) “best of post” of some of Kevin’s best stuff  from his website to save  it for all and as a tribute to our friend.

 

M16A1 Maintenance Survey in Vietnam

By Kevin O’Brien ” Hognose”

We’re looking at a declassified report from the US Army Weapons Command in 1968. The report is available to subscribers to Small Arms of the World in their archives. And we came across the following little gem, which we’ve already served with several Vietnam-SF buds. Emphasis ours:

The first USAWECOM survey team stayed in Vietnam from 21 October1965 until 2 December 1966. (4) While the primary purpose of the team (5) was to provide maintenance instruction to a nucleus of officers and men from each brigade, who would then teach their own units, direct support organizations wece also instructed.

The team taught maintenance in every major USARV unit except the 1st Air Cavalry Division. (6) Students brought their own weapons, magazines, ammunition, cleaning materials, and accessories to class. A detailed inspection of each student’s equipment revealed that with the exception of the weapons of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, and the 5th Special Forces, all the weapons were poorly maintained.

The footnotes (4) and (5) refer to the team’s report and describe the makeup of the team — led by an ordnance LTC with four experts from USAWECOM and three from Colt. Note 6 explains why the Cav wasn’t trained — they said they were having no trrouble with the M16A1, and asked only for instructors to work with its divisional maint battalion small-arms shop.

So what was jacked up about the GIs’ guns?

The most common faults observed were:

  1. Excessive oil on the weapon
  2. Carbon buildup in the chamber, bolt, and bolt carrier group
  3. Overloading of magazines with 21 rounds of ammunition
  4. Oil and grit inside magazines (frequently accompanied by lubricated ammunition); and
  5. Failure to replace worn or broken extractors and extractor springs.

Other deficiencies noted frequently were shortages of technical manuals, cleaning equipment, and repair parts, and a general lack of knowledge of the M16 rifle among officers and noncommissioned officers.

At first it may seem strange that soldiers were unfamiliar with their weapons, but you have to remember how this report fits into American small arms history. The M16A1 was a standard — in Vietnam, only. The rest of the Army still soldiered on with the M14, and an awful lot of people in Army Ordnance still had their noses out of joint that Westmoreland had ordered a lot of weapons that were Not Invented Here (the M14, like the M1 before it, was developed in-house by the Army). Some of them wanted the M16 to go away. Others wanted it to fail. Still others were captivated by the small-caliber, high-velocity concept and the M16’s brilliant ergonomics, and determined to help make it work. And many were of a type with Army men of all nations and all times: given a mission, intent on carrying it out.

We thought it was interesting that three airborne units (the 101st was still nominally Airborne at this time, although it would only have the name as n honorific by the time it left Vietnam) had few worries with their M16s, although it seems like the 1st Cav didn’t either. So why were the airborne units squared away, when most of the legs weren’t? Turns out that it wasn’t due to the higher quality of troops in the supposedly all-volunteer paratroop units, but had a more mundane explanation:

The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, and the 5th Special Forces were the only units surveyed that had received training with the M16 for a significant period of time prior to deployment to Vietnam. Men in other units had been given training in marksmanship but little or no instruction in care and cleaning of the rifle.

On a follow-up visit, intended to cover maintenance of the very maintenance-intensive XM148 grenade launcher, a subsequent team discovered that many of the M16s turned in for maintenance (which might not be typical of all M16s in the field; a working weapon doesn’t get turned in for maintenance) had pitting in the chamber. They did the math and came up with a statistical prediction that 10% of all 16s in Vietnam would need a replacement barrel every three months. That correlated nicely with field complaints of extraction and ejection problems. One answer was to add chrome plating to the chamber (later, the whole bore) of all M16A1 rifles, and this report seems to be where that suggestion was first committed to official writing. This suggestion was not exactly rocket surgery: at the time, the Russians had been doing it for 20 years.

The chrome chamber weapons have “MP C” or “C MP C” markings on their barrels. The later Vietnam-era chrome bore weapons are marked “C MP B.” After the war, the marking changed to “C MP CHROME BORE” and that’s what most of the small supply of surplus M16 barrels say. The bore chroming is not a sign of a particular model of M16, it’s simply a running change, one of many hundrendrds

A lot more interesting stuff in this report. There is a CYA aspect to some of it, for sure, but it’s a window into a problem (M16 Jamming, circa 1966) of which much has been written, usually without reference to primary sources like this.

About Hognose

Kevin  O’Brien  was a Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Long Term, Hard Use FootWear

Today we have a guest post from sporadic contributor and quasi-Looserounds member  “CJ”, about his favorite topic. 

 

Prepping – Some thoughts… A lot of gun enthusiasts seem to justify their hobby as some sort of preparation for armageddon. Sure, when the aliens invade I won’t deny the usefulness of an arsenal. But let’s not deny the usefulness of other items. Food storage is commonly thought of. Less commonly thought of is footwear. Unlike other looserounds contributors, I didn’t grow up around firearms. My parents’ household to this day is a “gun free zone,” complete with the usual objections to self defense. But I did grow up hiking, camping, and backpacking. I may have as many years of experience being serious about footwear as Shawn has being serious about the 1911.
Footwear cannot be neglected. Anyone who is a fan of the Walking Dead (I’m assuming the majority of Looserounds’ readership) should realize how much walking people are forced to do in a zombie attack. In our normal daily lives we take these things for granted. In an apocalyptic scenario, we may need to walk long distances regularly and we will need to avoid injuries (sprains/blisters/etc) while doing so. Our feet, like a good 1911, should be something we can rely on. I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences in this area and will limit the discussion today to boots.
First, let’s realize that we aren’t going to become like the Confederate soldiers who marched long distances barefoot overnight. If you’re the type of person who has managed to build up a quarter inch of leathery callous on your feet, you’re probably already barefoot and you probably don’t have internet access and probably aren’t reading this. Two of the three people who have done this are somewhere in the Amazon rainforest and the other guy is a Kenyan persistence hunter. That just simply isn’t realistic right now for us today. We need footwear that won’t fail us today, but more importantly won’t fail us tomorrow when we might not be able to buy new shoes.
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The first pair of shoes/boots I want to introduce is the Salomon Quest 4D GTX. Let me first say that these are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn, right out of the box. They require zero “break in.” I recommend them for daily wear, but they will not last and you should not count on them as a long term solution. The boots pictured here have about a year’s worth of wear, there is a hole in the sole, and they’ve been glued back together twice. Next, I want to introduce their polar opposite.
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The Raichle Montagna. In this picture there are 3 pairs. Two of them are new and the one on the right has 3 times as much wear as the Solomon boots above. They really are indestructable. But they’re heavy, hard to break-in, and very hard to find today. This is closer to what I’m talking about. You may not like them at first, but long after the Salomons are gone they’ll still be fine. This matters if civilization ends tomorrow. In fact, I’ve stockpiled these for just such an event. Some minor discomfort caused by their admittedly heavy weight is not going to injure you, and provided you have a pair that is broken in, the benefits are very clear. And if they aren’t broken in, soak them in baseball glove conditioner and just wear them every other day until they mold to your foot. Alternate with something else to avoid injury. They’re priceless.
Similar boots have also been made by Lowa, Scarpa, and Vasque. In fact, the Vasque Montana is almost a direct copy. Vasque is a great company that made my first pair of hiking boots (the Sundowner II). I wore these on roughly 30 serious backpacking trips over approximately 10 years and about half the time during the week to work/school. I still have them somewhere. Today I wear a pair of Vasque St Elias boots (hown in the 3rd picture) every day. These have the same wear as the Solomons above, but they’re still in great shape. They’re a good compromise between comfort and ruggedness. I would also trust them over the long run (pun intended). Shawn tends to favor Merrell boots, and I’ve tried them as well, but I put them in the same category as Salomon. They’re certainly comfortable and that is valuable. But this comes at a cost–light/flexible construction. I personally don’t trust them for anything other than work. Without a decent pair of boots, you need to realize that you will quickly be reduced to trying to cut sandals from used tires.
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Hipoint Pistol & Carbine An Open Minded Look

Normally these firearms are not the kind you would see on this website.  The review below came about after an extensive conversation with Hunter, the owner of www.rangehot.com, one night. I was talking to him about asking Inland Mfg. if I could send their recently reviewed M1911A1 straight to him, so he could test and write about it, instead of just sending straight back to them.  Hunter told me he had the two Hi-Points and how surprised he was about how accurate they are. He suggested  he should send them on to me.  I thought about it for a while and decided to give them a try, if for no other reason than to prove we are not total snobs here.

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First I will talk about the carbine.  It is chambered in 45ACP and has a camo finish in the popular civilian, non-military style hunting pattern.  The magazine will work in both the carbine and pistol. The carbine has rails for attaching whatever you might want to attach to it.

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You have one rail under the barrel, one rail under the hand guard and a rail on top of the hand guard, for attaching optics, using the common industry standard rail mounts.

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The sights are adjustable, large and easy to see. You get the peep  rear sight and a front sight post. The rear peep sight is adjustable, with markings to keep track of adjustments and is protected by two “ears” or sight hood.

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The front sight post is a pointed post and reminds me of the front sight of a Type 99 Arisaka. The sight is enclosed and protected. Though the circle in circle sights do not really add anything with the sight picture, I do like that the hood over the front sight. It is large and lets enough light in so you can actually see the thing in low light, unlike some classic much love military rifle sights. It provides protection, does not crowd the sight picture up or make it hard to see.  The rear sight is also very open, lets in light and is very fast to use/pick-up. It however does make precise shots with the iron sights a bit difficult. The carbine is clearly never meant to be your next match service rifle at Perry.

We took the gun out to the range with no oil or lube of any kind and fired a large amount of mid range to low quality ammo through it, to see how it preformed.  It worked fine.  Dirty Remington training ammo and CCI  aluminum cased cheap training ammo ran through it just as well as  the good stuff.  One magazine did give us some problems. It did not cause the gun to malfunction but the follower kept getting stuck.  Accuracy testing was done at 25 and 50 yards.

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The carbine really liked Winchester white box, Walmart ammo.  Really it’s kind of fitting as these guns are aimed at consumers who have a limited budget and are very likely to use what they can get, for the best price.  I am not suggesting the carbine is tuned for such a thing but I am sure this would be a happy result for those users.  The group above was eight (8) rounds at 25 yards, though it does not look like it.

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If the Hi-Poaint Carbine liked the Winchester ball ammo, it found its soul mate in the Speer ball ammo.  The group above was a full mag string shot at 25 yards with Speer training ball ammo.  This is pretty cheap stuff and the result was a shocker to those of us shooting it.  We fired multiple groups with the same ammo but I am showing the groups that are generally representative of what the gun is capable of. They are not the carbines best groups as I always feel that’s a little misleading. The groups shown are not always the absolute best groups shot of the day if the tightest groups can’t be repeated.  So looking at these groups, you can see that these are not cherry picked “best of” groups.  For anyone reading this review, considering buying one of these firearms for budget reasons or just for plinking,  I want to make sure you see what it really does and how it will really preform on any given day.

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Remington 230 grain ball ammo is about as bad as ball training ammo can get but still is made by one of the big name ammo makers.  It is filthy, under powered and not even usually mediocre when it comes to accuracy.  As shown above, its performance in the Hi-Point carbine certainly its not horrible. In a pistol it would still be pretty decent. This one is almost cherry picked, in that the other groups from the Remington ball ammo would often fall off the edge of the target.

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Above is a “Q” target at 100 yards. It is roughly the size of a smallish man.  The group was fired from 100 yards with no rest using Speer ball ammo.  The KRISS Vector did not even shoot this well at 100 yards. Below is another 100 yard Qual target, before we adjusted the sights to hit higher.

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With this carbine, using iron sights, off hand, with ball ammo, I am not sure you can ask for much more, considering what it is and its intended use. It is not a sniper rifle and it is not a M4. It is a light pistol caliber carbine, meant to be as useful as a budget carbine in mind.

Now, handling wise I do not care much for its balance. The carbine is a little rear heavy to me. Another point is, like the KRISS, the stock seems to impart that strange recoil vibration into the cheek. After multiple rapid strings the cheek will start to feel a little sting. The Vector had the same oddity and everyone commented on it.  The trigger is certainly no match trigger and may not even be as good as a decent milspec trigger, but that’s ok.  As I said before, that’s not what this firearm is meant be.  I don’t know if there are upgrades for the Hi-Points or if anyone has any tips on how to improve it.  I honestly do not know much at all about the world of Hi-Points, beyond what I learned while testing these two.

Next up is the Hi-Point pistol, also chambered in the greatest pistol round ever to bless this universe, the .45ACP of course.

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The pistol has a finish that makes me think of something like the USMC desert digital pattern, without actually being the same, due to trademarks. It’s a pretty good looking pattern to me. I have seen some Remington 870s and some other various fireams with what I believe to be the same camo pattern on them.  The pistol has light or laser rail forward of the trigger and takes the same magazines as the carbine.  Much to my displeasure, the handgun does not have a slide release/lock and you must “slingshot” the slide on a slide lock reload.

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The rear sight has red inserts and while it is not really tall it can be used to cycle the action  for one handed manipulation.

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The front sight is not adjustable, it is a fixed sight and has a yellowish insert in it to contrast with the red rear, to make it more visible. I know these touches are meant to make them easier and faster to see but I honestly do not think it helped in my opinion. In bright day light the front washed out for me. It might have been better had the front sight been red and the rear sight blacked out.  That is totally a personal taste and I am sure some one out there likes this combination fine.

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The sight configuration and color did not hurt the pistols accuracy potential as you can see above. All groups fired are five (5) round groups at 20 yards.  I will let the pictured groups speak for themselves.

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All groups fired were from a bench, with sandbags, in very slow methodical strings, using much effort to give the gun every chance I could.

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The top group is a full magazine, fired at 30 yards, from sand bags and from the bench.

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In the above picture, closing out the groups and the biggest irony, the ammo the carbine liked the most and shot so tight, the pistol apparently hated it.  Who knew?

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The trigger on the pistol is not a pleasure to work with when it comes to shooting tight groups. It even takes some getting used to for working with the Hi-Point at any speed. I fired a little over 300 rounds through the pistol and still did not quite get use to using the trigger very effectively,  The recoil of the firearm is very strange for some one use to the 1911 platform.  It seems I could feel the large slide moving back and forth.  It did however work boringly 100%. Nothing really to say. I can’t trash it over multiple failures, because it didn’t fail at all, simple as that.  Will I buy one? No, but it’s not a firearm meant for me.  These Hi-Points already have their niche and are for people who work within certain financial limits/constraints. People who just plain like them will continue to buy them regardless of anyone else’s tastes. Regardless what the most snobbish among us think of them.

I initially did not want to test these two firearms, but Hunter told me to have an open mind and give them a chance. I did my best and was surprised at the accuracy of these two pieces.  I have seen Springfield Armory handguns that shot a lot worse than these two.  They are not great firearms or perfect, but they are not the worst I have ever seen. That would be the LLama , Jennings and Lorcins, running neck and neck for the worst, in my experience. If you think the Hi-Points are for you, then I feel you can buy with confidence. They will work despite what most internet experts say.  This is from my experience and with speaking to other gun writers.  Hi-Points also shoot accurately and everything else you can mostly work around.

If these two firearms are for you, you think they are for you and want to know more about them and others. I highly recommend you go to Hunter’s website, (Range Hot). Hunter has gone in depth about these two Hi-Points as well as other firearms. He does a really good job with them and even though I put aside my own biases, I know many will need more than my opinion. Hunter’s reviews can be found here http://rangehot.com/hi-point-45-pistol-and-carbine-self-defense-on-a-budget/   You can find more reviews on other  Hi-Point offerings, at his website using the search feature .  He puts high accuracy results into a nifty little table for you and usually does some video and ballistic gel testing as well.

 

Inland MFG M1911A1 Test Part 2 Accuracy Testing

Friends, it can be said that I like 1911s. I love 1911s.   I love the feel of a M1911, the way it shoots, its ergonomics, its recoil and its over all beautiful looks. I Blue, stainless, nickel, parkerized or duaracote, I love a 1911.  But, almost without fail, my love for the 1911 is reserved for those made by Colt’s MFG.   Today I can say that I really am impressed with the Inland M1911A1.  It is not flashy or fancy, it is just a  USGI clone M1911A1 made to look like the typical WW2 service sidearm. It does a good job at that.

http://looserounds.com/2015/11/15/inland-mfg-1911a1-review-part-1/

Generally speaking, the 1911s made to look like USGI guns that we get on the market today leave a lot to be desired.  GI issue style pistols are common by the lesser makers because it is so cheap to make them in that configuration. No after market sights or parts, no extra time and effort fitting custom after market parts or things like forward slide serration etc.  I think of the GI style pistols churning out these days are looked at as pizza by the makers.  Even if its bad its still kinda good. Everyone wants a GI pistol even if its cheap. Especially if its cheap because they assume no one really shoots them much.   Well, that not really true and there are a lot of just pure crap 1911s on the market.  The Inland is made very well

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As I mentioned before, the gun is a but more than just a GI issue clone.  The bushing is a tight fitting match bushing. The same used on the company’s custom carry pistol and trust me, it shows.

I test fired the pistol for accuracy after some serious abuse. A lot of it I did not film due to the weather conditions that would ruin a camera.  I froze it. I buried it in mud and snow, I have fired 1,500 rounds through it without cleaning and with only a little bit of LSA  from the 60s on it. I fired some of the most filthy training ammo you have ever seen through it. I have tried very hard to see what it would take short of putting bad mags in it and faulty ammo which is unfair.  I did however use real GI Issue  original magazines and they worked fine. And as you can see in the link below, I shot up a muddy water hole to break the ice and tossed the gun in it and kicked mud over it, then shot it.

http://looserounds.com/2016/01/15/inland-mfg-m1-carbine-m1911-mud-frozen-water-torture-test/

After all that, and no cleaning, i started my serious accuracy testing by using bags and a bench.  I started out at 15 yards and I used jacketed hollow point ammo for accuracy testing and to once again make sure it fed hollow point bullets.   After I settled in on the bags and dry fired a few times, I fired this first group.  For a gun that is meant to basically meet plain old USGI standards you really can’t ask for much more.

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I then went on to shoot at 20 yards using different types of ammo including ball and PDX1.

I was really  proud of the last group of the day, a full  7 round loaded mag at 20 yards.

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I strung the shots vertical a bit, but I I don’t think anyone would hold that against  the pistol in this case.  I am sorry to say I did not get more groups with the HP ammo because I ran out.  The bulk of that ammo was used up on other reviews but I promise you that all groups shown are all the groups fired.  I did not toss out any that made me or the gun look bad.

Previous off hand plinking and goofing with the gun by shooting steel rifle gongs at 100 yards had already given me a pretty good idea I was not going to be shocked at horrible accuracy and the hunch was right.  One thing to point out is the trigger. On this particular T&E gun, the trigger is a typical milspec trigger, It is a little heavy.  It is not godawful, but if you are expecting a modern custom production 1911 type trigger you better get ready to have that illusion popped.  It is not a terrible trigger, It is what it is and what it is meant to be, a USGI trigger. If you buy a pistol like this expecting something else that is your fault.

 

I have really enjoyed my time with the piece.  Most non-colt 1911s  fail my standards with regularity of a swiss watch but not this one.  I would not hesitate to own one of these.  It is a lot better than most of the others of this type. I would take this over the Springfield Armory USGI model every day of the week.  If you are wanting a USGI pistol but are not worried about paying more than you would by a RIA, and want something more reliable and with really, really good accuracy, give this a serious look.

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