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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).