OPTIC OF THE WEEK: SWISS ARTILLERY RANGEFINDER

The optic for this week is not a gun sight but a range finding device. It’s probably something you may or may not have seen before on the internet but its not something younger shooters are familiar with. While it looks large and not at all handy, it was at one time one of the must have items for series precision long range shooters. I first became familiar with them via the ultra long range varmint shooters who demanded precise ranging to hit prairie dogs at extreme ranges. This was in the 80s into the 90s.

Back then there was no laser range finders. Well, other than military models which essentially means none for the rest of us. To get long ranging capability some one got the idea to start using these babies. They don’t use batteries or lasers and they don’t fit in your pocket but man do they work. And they are old world superb quality.

You don’t look through one in and out the other like a scope but through this eye piece on the right. You Just to the far right eye piece you can see what looks like a set of scaled down rifle iron sights. You use those to aim at what you want to range. Then you look through the eye piece at some landmark or structure that is hopefully 90 degrees to the ground. Say it is a phone pole. In the viewer it will look broken. You turn the wheel by the hand holds until the pole lines up and looks unbroken. Then you look into the left side eye piece and it gives you the range in meters. If memory serves the range finder is accurate to within 1 meter when used right and will range out to 10,000 meters. It works very well and we used it for years for accurate ranging.

The artillery range finder comes with a small tripod for obvious reasons like needing to lay prone and be low profile. These small tripods lock onto the optic and can be inserted into a larger set of tripods like seen in the photos.

The optic has a leather strap attached for carrying since it was intended to be man portable. It comes in a tubular water proof sealed carrier that has side pockets and straps for attaching the two tripods and a cleaning set with it. A very nice set up even if it is bulky.

Back in the day these were sold by a company called Deutsche Optik for $399. Be nice if you could get them for that now. A company that has that name still exists with a website but they ran out of the range finders many moons ago and do not sell them anymore.

I don’t know how practical or useful one of these would be to long range shooters anymore. We have GPS, laser range finders and all manner of things to make a long range shot easier. It is definitely a tool adapted by long range shooters from a time that now seems like the dark ages now a days. But it still works and we still use it sometimes.


Optic of the week: Leupold MK6 1-6 CMR-W 7.62

This is the most awesome optic that I am not going to recommend.

I’ve been selling off some of the stuff I wasn’t using. I ended up getting this scope in trade for a scope I wasn’t using and wasn’t going to use. I wouldn’t purchased this scope outright, but now that I have it, I really love it.

The MK6 1-6 is kind of an odd duck. It is most often seen with the CMR-W reticles which are most like an ACOG BDC with addition milradian hash marks and wind hold marks. It has a very bright daylight visible illumination, great turrets, an awesome 1x setting, a really nice battery cap, etc. But the list price is insane, and it is build for to be used in a way that I think makes it less preferable for most people.

There are two issues which I think makes the MK6 1-6 the wrong choice.
First is cost. MSRP is $2859.99
I’ve seen them sold used, with a mount for less than half that. Even so, that is pricey. While this scope is great, I wouldn’t pay that much for it. I only have once because I traded a much cheaper scope for it.

Second is the role of the scope.
There is a spectrum between speed and precision. A reflex sight is built for speed, and that 42X bench rest scope is built for precision. As magnification increases, users tend to want something geared more towards precision. This scope has a course BDC reticle and coarse adjustments, it is more like an ACOG+ than a mini-sniper scope. Most people I’ve talked to would rather have a mini-sniper scope these days. Now we have all sorts of new 1-8X and 1-10X that better fit that role over this scope. It is as if this scope is obsolete before it came to the market.

The glass is imported, so it doesn’t say “Made in the USA” I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t agree that foreign glass is better.

The turrets on this scope lock at zero and have a button to release them. If you press the button and turn it away from zero, they are no longer locked and you can turn them normally. Each click is clearly felt and barely audible. I found it really easy to set the zero on these as once I loosen the cap, turning it to zero locked the rotation, allowing me to just re tighten the screws. I would be perfectly happy if all my scopes had turrets like these.

These scopes turrets are .2 milradian adjustments. So about .72MOA per click. This allows the user to dial in up to about a 900m zero in a single turn, but also clearly shows that this is not a scope for precision shooting. I don’t think of this as a downside, but it is certainly an unpopular choice.

This is the best scope at 1X I have ever used. It felt the most like an Aimpoint than any other.

If you are properly aligned with the scope, the illumination is amazing. At 1X it is the flattest, nicest, most Aimpoint like view I have seen out of a magnified scope. But due to the lighting system this scope uses, if you are slightly off axis it dims greatly.

Lined up and the reticle is very bright
Move your head slightly and it dims.

The CMR-W BDC reticle is in meters. The 5.56 version goes to 900m (about 984 yards) and the 7.62 version goes to 1200m.

The center dot is for 200m. To the left and right there are mRad hash marks and a mRad vertical scale on the left. Along side the bullet drop chart there are wind lead marks for 10 and 20 mile per wind hold. Also on the left side of each distance there is a range finding tool.

A side note, I highly recommend when you are zeroing a scope, that is new to you, to start at close distances. This scope is was set 9 inches low at 25 yards. Had I started at 50 or 100 yards I would have been well off the target.

The battery compartment has a recessed button and flips open

The battery compartment makes for easy and fast battery changes and removes the chance of cross threading a cover back on. For the optics with short battery life, they all should have battery compartments like this.

The 20mm objective lens looks tiny in the 34mm tube.

I really enjoy shooting with and using this scope. But I do not recommend anyone buy one. Doubly so at list price. Optics design and tech is rapidly advancing. Now there are cheaper and smaller 1-8X scopes like the Nightforce NX8. When I first used the MK6 I thought it felt heavy and clunky. I was sort of surprised when I read it is the same weight as some much smaller scopes I own. It isn’t really heavy for what it is, but it is large. I think it feels clunky and overkill for an AR15, but less of a long range precision scope than you would want on a .308 Semi Auto.

It is a great scope, but if I was spending fresh cash, I would rather spend far less cash on newer scopes.

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.

Red Rifleman Vol 4: The Palmetto State Armory AK47 “MOEkov” Review

American made AK’s have had some growing pains. Case in point is the original Century C39. Much like when the auto industry releases a new model of car, it’s best to avoid the first few generations of that vehicle. It never pays to be a beta tester for vehicles or firearms. That said, when Palmetto State Armory decided they wanted to enter the market, many shooters likely met the news with suspicion. Retailing around from around $499 to $599 means it is one of the most affordable Kalashnikov’s on the market. Has Palmetto undercut the competition and over-delivered on quality? Let’s check it out!

First Impressions:

The PSA-AK is a Magpul MOE Model with Zhukov stock. (AKA the MOEkov) The rifle is clean with a nice shiny satin sheen courtesy of the a baked Teflon finish. Components feel solid and the rivet work is excellent. End to end, the rifle is clean and parts look great. The fire control group? Clean. The furniture fit? Clean. The rear sight? Clean. The front sight and gas block. Clean? You get the point. Workmanship is excellent. No machine marks, no crooked components, no questionable areas on first glance. The bolt reciprocates without binding and feels a good order better than my early 2k Romanian WASR.

The MOEkov tears down easily, and function tested without issues. Again, the gas block and front sight are in-line and cleanly pinned. Color me impressed.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (12)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (10)

The star indicates that the front trunion is a machined billet component. Not cast.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (8)

Very shiny. Very clean. Ipod White? No, give me Darth Vader Black. Every-time.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (14)

The bolt carrier has some machine markings in the cam track, but otherwise looks to be made with more care than my Romanian WASR.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 PSAK47 (4)

The safety has a pretend full-auto stop before bottoming out at semi. PSA, release a binary trigger to make this marking come to life. Please.

On the Range:

If looks could kill. Well, they don’t. It’s the bullets I am pretty sure. Over the years, any number of gun owners may have been smitten by a good looking piece only to get it out and have it sputter, choke, and turn blue like a COPD patient. That’s life. Sometimes though, sometimes the moons align and a good firearm is born. It looks clean. It functions well. It becomes a reliable friend. Did Palmetto pull it off?

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (7)

My first range session was a sight in and basic function check. The rifle was sighted in with a Russian military sight in target which simplified the process quite a bit. So long as you followed the instructions, it will get you in the black at 15 yards. I had the PSA-AK in the black on the 4th round. Moving back to 50 yards for some fine tuning allowed me to finish the sight in. The AK’s front sight was well centered within the protective ears of the front sight and did not require excessive windage for zero.

Once that was done I settled in to the rifle and began to evaluate the feel of the rifle. The trigger was a long rolling break, which is par for the course on a stock AK. The irons painted a clean sight picture and they were as sharp as a notch and post could be thanks to the clean machine work. At 50 yards I noticed some vertical stringing with two separate groups using standard WOLF.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (5)

My sight in and target session was roughly two trouble free magazines. I then began to take aim at various targets around the property with a third magazine, and encountered no jamming or malfunctions of any type on the clean weapon. Extraction was positive and the rifle functioned well. I then began to submerge the rifle in brackish water with moderate particulate. The weapon fired its first round and then had a failure to feed. I remedied this by chambering a new round and the rest of the magazine was emptied without issue.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (8)

I then proceeded to muddy the rifle. I threw mud into the action and decided to push the PSAK to level 10. The mud is a mixture of grass and South Texas clay. It was thick and I knew from the outset that this was going to be too much grit in the action for any rifle to handle. I fully expected the rifle to choke, but much to my surprise I was able to remedy the failures to feed by tapping the charging handle foreward. In effect, the AK became a single shot rifle. After around 15 shots of this, I decided to do what any sane person would do if their rifle became so inhibited. I submerged the rifle and shook it out in a relatively clean bucket of water. I think its safe to say that if any of our defensive rifles became so muddied, that priority number 1 would be to clean it with whatever was available. Canteen water, a cattle trough, VOSS bottled water for the well-to-do… anything to clear out the gunk!

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (9)

Unfortunately, despite a quick rinse out the rifle remained a single shot for a few more rounds. Sure that something was in the way (of bolt lockup, thanks Kurt for the lyrics) I did a complete strip and hosed the PSAK down with a real hose and used the high pressure finger nozzle. I then re-assembled and attempted to finish the magazine. It remained a single shot rifle for the next seven-ish rounds and whatever it was that prevented bolt lockup must have been crushed to smithereens or displaced. It was now a functional semi-auto for the subsequent magazines.

So take that for what you will. Mud stops rifles. All Rifles. The PSAK is no different, however It functioned well enough to remain a single shot rifle through some terribly adverse conditions. The final rinse with a hose may have helped and eventually the rifle returned to functional status without lube.

TEAR DOWN:

I got the rifle home and let it air dry. I like to do this to ensure we see how the finish holds up to water. The tear down revealed one small spot of rust on the bolt carrier, and one area of concern on the bolt itself. I noticed the presence of possible shear or wear on the firing pin retaining pin.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (14)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 Review (15)

I removed the pin and inspected for damage. None was noted to the firing pin or the retaining pin other than the shiny area. I stoned the top of the pin to remove the rough edge that was created at some point and re-assembled. The action felt smooth. Let’s get back on the range.

Range Session 2:

Palmetto State Armory AK47 (1)

With the next range session, I was focused on accuracy testing. I installed a 1-4x variable from Atibal on a GG&G AK picatinny mount. I used some higher quality ammunition and re-tested for accuracy with PDX-1 Defender from Winchester.

The results were much better with no evidence of stringing. The Magpul adjustable stock was a welcome addition as I needed a longer length of pull for the optic setup. Here are my results:

target_image

3.7 MOA is typical of the AK style rifles, and I felt that it was sufficiently accurate for anything an AK could be asked to do. I then plinked with standard steel cased Russian fodder and had no malfunctions though the case. We heated up the AK nice and toasty, and passed it between friends. It remained solid throughout testing.

Palmetto State Armory AK47 (6)
Palmetto State Armory AK47 (15)

 Wrapping Up:

The PSA AK47 is a quality entry into a market where it’s getting harder and harder to find reasonably priced AK-47s. Retailing at roughly $599 is no small feat for all the R&D and tooling it must have cost to release this rifle series. Other moderately priced American made AK’s have had well documented issues… It appears that Palmetto State Armory is not willing to make the same mistakes. They have upgraded once cast components to billet, and now it appears the most recent generation (G3) of the PSA AK features forged front trunion, forged carrier, and forged God knows what else. That shows a commitment to doing it right. You want to see how to do it wrong? Click here. With more and more import restrictions and less motherland made parts kits coming in, American made Kalashnikov’s may be the direction we have to go in the future. 

My PSA MOEkov performed well during my testing. The firing pin retaining pin was an easy fix at home, and it was a minor problem on an otherwise excellent AK. The accuracy was as expected for a Kalashnikov. The PSA AK was sent by Palmetto State Armory for T&E and PSA and I have a financial relationship at www.thenewrifleman.com, my private blog. By posting this article at www.LooseRounds.com I have taken that relationship out of the review as LooseRounds.com does not have a financial relationship with Palmetto State Armory. If you want to show PSA some love for “doing it right” then click here to check out the MOEkov!

Lothaen OUT!

More Random Interesting Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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