Inland MFG M3 Carbine

We have seen a few really nifty M1 carbines out of Inland the last few years. It was just a matter of time before they offered us the version the least known or seen. The M3 was the variant done up to mount a huge active IR night vision “sniper” scope and a huge battery to run it. It didn’t really pan out at the time but it’s existence did mean the carbine Colt version of the M16 would forever be known as the M4.

Now, if you add some normal day time optic to the handy little carbine that is another story. Above you can see the base/ring mounting system Inland has developed for the mounting of optics. Simply put, the base uses the redfield/leupold turn in front ring and dual windage screw rear ring system. any rings you want to buy that work in this manner will fit and work. And it works really well. I chose to put a vintage Weaver K4 on the gun as it is more evocative of the time period this gun had its short heyday.

The machine work Inland put in on this is kinda of amazing. My friend and partner in crime when it comes to our more insane long range shooting ideas is an experienced machinist and when I showed it to him, we both at first thought the base was part of the receiver and machined into shape. It took a surefire light and a closer look to see that it was indeed not part of the gun. It really is a beautiful job.

One of the things that sticks out on the M3 was the cone flash suppressor. Inland did not forget this iconic attachment. And it is attachable. As you can see above it is a simple system. You can chose to put it on or leave it off. I found it did not really impact accuracy any amount I could determine while on and shooting at ranges the 30 carbine round was meant for. There was slight changes when shooting with our without though and depending on the mood or whichever gun you may have, the amount of re-zeroing could vary. I did not bother to re adjust the optic as it was less than 3/4 inch impact change and I was shooting for groups and location on the target did not matter to me.

As expected, being able to use some magnification helped with group size at longer ranges. The Inland M1s have been accurate for me over years since starting to test them.

Group above was shot off bags from bench at 100 yards. The group is a 10 round group and the one flyer I offer no excuse for other than I just touched it off without being ready. The group below was fired at the head at 150 yards.

All groups were fired using federal soft point LEO ammo. I have no idea where I ever got this ammo from but it is pretty accurate. Unfortunately I used all I had left for this test. Target below was fired at center body of target from 300 yards. With the optic it was pretty easy. It is still a carbine meant for combat but I can’t imagine anyone with any sense really having much to complain about its performance at this range. But I am sure some one will in the comments.

Hey, what more could you ask for considering the limitations of the round? Pair the optic with a Korean era 30 round magazine and you got one heck of a neat little carbine for something. Walking around the farm shooting ground hogs or maybe short range coyote gun. With proper bullet selection maybe even white tail at shorter ranges. I don’t know, your imagination is the limit. It doesn’t need justification if you want it. if you think it’s neat then buy one. The quality won’t let you down, nor it’s looks.

I apologize for not having a full glamour shot of the gun with optic for this review. Something went badly wrong with my camera during the uploading process. The camera decided to die after 9 years and it took the remaining pictures with it. This includes the rest of the groups shots and the glamour shots of the gun posed with period militaria collectibles and all that crap you are used to seeing when I do these. That is also why this review seems shorter than normal. It’s not just your imagination or my laziness. I have been trying to recover those photos and if so I will update this review ASAP. To add to that this was the first time I didn’t bother to back up every picture by taking the same pictures with my Iphone just in case.

Watch out for scams

Saw a case recently where someone saw an ATN night vision scope on a website for sale for $40 instead of the usual $700-800. They asked online if it was a scam, many people told them it was. They ordered it anyways. After a while the site went down. They did receive a toy lightsaber from the company, so I suppose it wasn’t a total loss.

Another person ordered a Surefire light from Amazon. They received a Surefire knockoff from Amazon. Not sure if the seller was selling knockoffs as real, or if someone bought a real one, returned a knockoff, and it got resent to this person.

I’m starting to get a little worried because I bought something on Gunbroker and the seller wanted a certified check. After they received it they have stopped contact and have not shipped it yet.

So be careful out there.

Small News Items on Army Small Arms

Today we have another re-post from our departed friend. Kevin O’Brien, AKA “Hognose” owner and writer of weaponsman.com.

There’s a bunch of little news bits going around the Army about maintenance issues and problems. We’ll cover them from most to least serious:

Item: Somebody Blew It

Beretta_M9_FAIL

File photo of failed M9 slide. Not the mishap firearm.

In late 2015, a very high (but unknown) round count M9 pistol had a catastrophic failure of the slide. With the Army scrimping on O&M money, especially on the ripe-for-replacement Beretta handgun, failures are not unusual and usually turn out to be fatigue failures from parts that have been carelessly used long past their service life. So was this one. The pistol was older than the soldier shooting it, and, as it turned out, someone, somewhere had pencil-whipped the maintenance records.

Slides fail every week, somewhere in an Army with hundreds of thousands of pistols that were almost all bought 30 years ago. But what happened next wasn’t supposed to happen. When the pistol slide failed at the slide’s weakest point, the locking-block cuts, the rear half of the slide kept on motoring, striking the GI in the cheek and upper jaw area and causing non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that a mandatory maintenance work order, MWO 9-1005-317–30-10-1, issued twenty-seven years ago in March, 1989, had never been complied with. They couldn’t track where the pistol was at the time it was not repaired; Army units and activities with M9s had until June, 1993 to comply.

Somebody reported that his M9s were in compliance, when they weren’t. This is what you get when a zero-defects, up-or-out culture undermines integrity while at the same time penny-pinching undermines maintenance. The soldier who drew that defective M9, and every soldier that’s been drawing and shooting it since 1989, is damned lucky to be alive. (Fortunately, when a slide fails on most pistols (or a bolt on a Mauser C96, etc.), gravity usually  ensures that the part hits below the eye, on cheek, jaw, chest or shoulder).

Meanwhile, the Army sent an urgent Safety-of-Use message mandating an Army-wide inspection of all M9s for completion of the MWO. Since the resources for completing the MWO no longer exist, the remedial action is to immediately deadline and turn in the offending M9 and draw a replacement.

How many units pencil-whipped their response to that ALARACT message?

Item: Safety? Sometimes it’s Evolution in Action

FOOM!

Word is, some genius removed himself from the breeding population of Homo sapiens in 2014 by “improvising” M203 ammo (may have been 320) by cutting the links off of (higher-pressure) Mk19 belted ammo. The links were actually designed so they couldn’t snap off by hand, to prevent that.

Can we get a “FOOM!” from the assembled multitudes?

And oh, yeah, trying to belt up 203 ammo and fire it in an Mk 19 leads to FOOM also, of a different variety — out of battery ignition. Another opportunity for poka-yoke missed.

Item: Ambi Selectors Reaching Troops.. slowly

The Army has finally woken up to two facts:

  1. About 10% of the troops are left-handed, and
  2. There are lots of good ambi selectors available.

So the Army chose one and put it into the pipeline. So far so good, right? Not entirely. The selectors are only being replaced when the weapons are overhauled. And they don’t fit in the M12 racks many units still have. Work around is to cut a notch in the rack with a torch, or with a file and plenty of time, or to bend the part of the rack that hits the right-side selector out of shape so that the selector clears the rack.

Also, the slow migration of the ambi selectors means not all M4/M16 weapons in any given unit have them. Why don’t they just push the parts down to the unit armorers? Three reasons:

  1. The big one: they’re afraid of armorers stealing parts if they take rifles apart
  2. It doesn’t fit the concept of echeloned maintenance, even though that’s being streamlined;
  3. They don’t trust the armorers let alone the Joes, not to botch the installation.

On top of that, of course, it’s not penny wise and pound foolish in the great Army tradition.

Item: New Stuff Coming in, Old Stuff Going Out

A number of new arms are reaching the troops, and old arms are going away.  We’ll have more about that in the future, especially the M2A1 and the coming “rationalization” of an explosion of shotguns and sniper rifles. We just broke it out of this post to keep the length manageable.

ITEM: MG Maintenance Problems = Operator Headspace & Timing

m249-PIP

The biggest single problem the Army has with the current pair of machine guns (M240 and M249) is burned out barrels. That’s caused by not changing barrels, either in combat, or especially on the range. Often, units go out without the spare barrel so it’s not like they gave themselves any option.  (The M2 version of this is going out with only one set of gages for the M2s. The gages are not required for the M2A1). The Army is falling back into the peacetime mindset of “leave it in the arms room and we can’t lose it.” True enough, we’ll just destroy the one we take out instead.

The fact is, and it’s a fact widely unknown to GIs, MGs have rate-of-sustained-fire limitations that are lower than they think. (Remember the MGs that failed at Wanat? They were being operated well outside their designed, tested envelope).

The M249 should never be fired more than 200 rounds rapid fire from a cold barrel. Then, change to a cold barrel, repeat. The Army being the Army, there are geniuses who think that they can burn a couple belts in a few seconds, change barrels, burn a couple belts in a couple more seconds, then put the original honkin’ hot barrel back in and burn — you get the idea. If you have a situation where you’re going to fire a lot of rounds from a single position, like a predeployment MG familiarization for support troops or a defensive position, you might want to lay in some extra barrels (and yes, Army supply makes that all but impossible, so you have to cannibalize your other MGs).

The M240 is a little more tolerant but should still be changed every 2 to 10 minutes of firing, and even more frequently if the firing tends towards real sustained fire. (The deets are in the FM, which is mostly only available on .pdf these days).

One last thought, your defensive MG positions need to have alternate, displace positions, and you need to displace after sustained fire from one position — unless you want to share your hole with an exploding RPG, ATGM or mortar round. “Where’s your secondary position?” or “-fallback position?” should not produce the Polish Salute.

As ordnance experts have observed ever since World War II, a barrel can be burnt out due to overheat and still mic and even air-gauge good. You only know it’s hosed when it can’t shoot straight.

Well-maintained MGs are more accurate than people seem to give them credit for. Some SOF elements have selective fire M240s and really, really like them. (The standard M240 has no semi setting). They’re capable of surprising accuracy from the tripod.

ITEM: For Want of a Cord, a Career was Lost

GIs frequently lose or throw away the idiot cord on the PVS-14 night vision monocular. If these sights were being properly inspected, which they usually aren’t until a team comes in just before deployment, they’d be tagged NMC (non mission capable) for missing  that stupid cord. You don’t want to be in the bursting radius of a unit CO who’s just been told 85% of his night vision is NMC… especially when that news is delivered in earshot of his rater and senior rater. It’s a bull$#!+ requirement but it’s in the book, and if the Army ever has to choose between following the book or winning the war, the book comes up trumps every time.

You’re not going to stop GIs from losing cords, but replacement cords are in the supply catalog

The K.I.S.S. Fallacy.

I am a big fan of Keeping It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S.).  But I hate when the idea is used wrongly.  K.I.S.S. should be used to help prevent failure both in equipment and operator, not as an excuse to save money or reduce capability.
With regarding firearms, I often see the argument for K.I.S.S. used when a fighting long arm is set up with only iron sights, and no accessories.  Now if your gun is only a toy, set it up however you have the most fun with it.  But if you intend to fight with a firearm, wouldn’t it be foolish to not give your self every advantage you can get when your life is on the line?
A basic iron sighted AR is often shown when the term K.I.S.S. starts getting thrown around.
We know guns are expensive. It can hurt to have to open the checkbook again to cover the cost of an optic.  But are iron sights really a better choice for a fighting weapon?  I’ve seen people say that iron sights never fail.  I don’t know about you guys but I’ve bent several front sight posts.  To get to my main argument on sights, I think it is clear that optics are far simpler to use than iron sights.
When you put a gun into the hands of a complete novice, you will see that they are much quicker and more confident with an optic.  Especially something simple like a red dot or duplex reticle.  Many of us may say that it is better to start training someone with iron sights, but the benefit of any optic becomes extraordinarily clear when you put a firearm in the hands of a novice.  Those advantages don’t disappear when you put that same firearm in the hands of an experienced shooter.  Optics provide greater speed, target identification, and just general ease of use over iron sights.  Really, trying to argue otherwise is foolhardy.
Once I had someone tell me that scopes were only for people too lazy to shoot with iron sights.  I asked him if our U.S. Military Snipers were too lazy to use iron sights and he sorta hemmed and hawed with out giving me any sort of real response to that question.
It would be foolish to say that it is quicker and easier to “center a front sight in a rear sight while focusing on the front sight not the target or the rear sight” instead of just putting an optic’s reticle on a target.
Some extremely useful tools are very complicated. For example would be pairing night vision with an IR aiming laser. This is not only complicated but very expensive. It has many potential points of failure.  It would be easy to point out that both a Night Vision Device (NVD) and an IR laser each would need their own batteries.  Each have their own controls.  An IR laser would need to be zeroed.  A NVD would need to be focused.  It takes a great deal of work to run a setup like that, but it is what makes the difference between stumbling around blind in the dark or being an apex predator that owns the night.
A bicycle would be the K.I.S.S. alternative to an automobile.  I think most of us would gladly pay the additional cost and risk the additional points of failure just so we could have the much greater capability of the automobile.
Think about weapons the same way. Sure there are plenty of stuff we don’t need, but some are massive force multipliers should we need that capability.  Not ever gun needs a scope, bipod, light, or laser but there are some guns where you would be massively improving their capabilities and ease of use by adding some of these things.
Don’t try and set up the simplest/cheapest firearm, but make the firearm that excels at the job it needs to do.

Optic of the week: Nightforce 2.5-10X24

For a long time the Trijicon ACOG was my favorite scope.  Transitioning from iron sights to 4x magnification was a massive force multiplier.  From there I tried some various optics and the Nightforce 2.5-10X24 became my new favorite scope.  (The Leupold MK6 eventually replaced this as my favorite).  Still I love these so much I own two of them.  Aside from the cost, I’d love to have a dozen.  I feel it is a great light little general purpose scope and would love to throw on each .22 rifle I have.

As always, all good things must come to an end, so Nightforce discontinued this scope.  But there was so much demand that they do little production runs of an updated model every so often.  They still command a premium.

There are two big draws to the NF2.5-10X24.  First is that it is quite small and feels right at home on smaller and lighter guns.  There is even a picture floating around of a Navy SEAL armory where they have one of these mounted on a MP5.  That leads right to the next reason for its popularity.  The major durability and reliability of the Nightforce scopes got them used by groups like SOCOM.  People seeing Navy SEALs running around with these scopes drove up the demand and price.  I paid about $1300 for each of mine, I’ve seen people try to sell them for over $2000.  At $1300 I think they are great, but I wouldn’t pay $2000 for one.

Adjustment were available in 1/4 MOA and in 1/10 MIL.  Some were made with 1 MOA elevation adjustments.  Most of these scopes have exposed turrets, but some have capped 1/4 MOA turrets.  I prefer the milradian adjustments with the mildot reticle.  Clicks are slightly spongy, but very clear and you are not going to accidentally miss one.  The turrets are plenty stiff so they are very unlikely to get accidentally moved.  Many of these scopes do not have any zero stops.  Some do.  I’ve read that the newer scopes have a different style(improved) zero stop.  The stop on this scope requires removing the elevation knob and using an Allen wrench to turn a physical stop into place.

The scope also offers illumination with multiple brightness including a night vision setting.  These settings are not daylight bright.

The small objective lens allowed this scope to be mounted over IR lasers such as the AN/PEQ-2 or a DBAL-A3 like in this picture.  Unfortunately this small objective lens limits the incoming light and makes this scope less than ideal for low light.  A 32mm objective lense was put on the 2.5-10X32 scope this model that replaced this one in production.  Later a similar model with a 42mm objective and adjustable parallax was made.  The 42mm model is still in production.

This scope, as great as it is, shows its age when you look at its features.  It is second focal plane, having been designed before 1st focal plane scopes became very popular.  It seems to have a mixed following in the gun community as people recognize that it is a very durable and reliable scope, but the combination of a unforgiving eye box and eye relief along with lower max magnification made it less popular.  People snatched these up to put on MK12Mod1 clones then found when they were trying to shoot tight groups on paper that they would prefer to have something else.

I think I would best describe this as a major step up from the ACOG for farther distance shooting, but in a similar use.  You use this to to hit targets that are smaller or at farther distances than an ACOG.  But if you are dedicated to one hole groups on paper you would be better suited by a scope with a parallax adjustment, greater magnification, and a finer reticle.

Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tons of adjustment this scope has.  The 10.5 inch 5.56 rifle in the picture above was zeroed at 100 yards and I could reach a 1000 yards by dialing up and holding over with the reticle.  100MOA or 27.3 mils of adjustment on the respective models.

Here are a picture of the mil dot reticle.  The dots are hollow which I really love.  This scope was offered with a variety of reticles but the mildot seems to be the most common.  A mildot reticle with 1/4 MOA turrets may have been the most common configuration.

They did offer a 1-4x version of this scope that was slightly shorter but it didn’t seem to be very popular.  Of the various 1-4X power scopes the Nightforce version seemed to have none of the benefits and all of the downsides.

I hate to say it, but this is really like a more tactical 3-9x scope.  Unless there is some particular feature of you scope you need, you could get very similar performance out of a much cheaper more available 3-9x scope.  Much like the Unertls, these have become collectible.  But technology has surpassed them, and for pure cost to capability there are much better options now.  That said, I love mine and I won’t part with them.  I do wish that Nightforce would consider making a cheaper version that is just a fixed 10x.

If you ever see a Nightforce labeled RECON, NAV-SPEC or ARMY-SPEC on the bottom it shows that it is a standard production scope that had a little more abusive testing than normal.  Those really command a premium.