Quick look at the BCM KMR handguard

(The shine is from some oil on the hand guard)

I’ve heard a good bit of good stuff about the BCM KMR rails so I finally got to handle one today.  I’m pretty impressed, it is very nice.  It is very light, and very slim.

I’d highly recommend it, and you can get it in either Keymod or M-LOK flavors.

There are a couple little aspects of it I didn’t expect, for example:

For example, the KMR sides are longer than the top and bottom.  So in this case these sides are long enough to prevent mounting anything to this QD muzzle device.

Bravo Companies handguard has a great mounting system where the bolt it on the top of the rail making for a smaller mounting area than the majority of hand guards where the bolt up is on the bottom.  This rail also has an anti rotation device which has a couple of tabs that interface with the upper receiver.  But these tabs can interfere with optics mounts.  For example the optic in this picture had to be moved back a notch in order to clear these anti rotation tabs.

 

So far I am really impressed with this hand guard, I think it is very nice.  I love how light and small profile it is.  In the case of this particular upper it feels so light and small it is like a toy.

 

Optic of the week: Leupold MK4 3.5-10X40

Long ago when I used to read about firearms, when the term “sniper scope” was said, is was probably referring to the Leupold MK4 series.

I was going to write some history, but instead I am going to quote, Dyspeptic Gunsmith who summed it up nicely.

40+ years ago, many consumer-grade were notoriously unreliable.

Oh, they’d claim to be water-sealed, but you’d dunk them in the bathroom sink and see a steady stream of bubbles come out of them. You’d put them on a heavier-recoiling magnum and you could see the zero walk all over the place – I even had a scope in the early 80’s, which, when mounted on a “mountain rifle light” ’06, had the reticle obviously come loose inside the scope.

There were all manner of issues with the less expensive scopes 40+ years ago.

Leupold commanded a premium because of their no-BS warranty – and quality. Being able to send a Leupold back to the factory and they’d fix it – for nothing other than the shipping cost to send it to them – was a huge reason why so many people who could afford the price chose Leupold as their scope of choice (modulo the specialized scopes like the Unertls). The European scopes were ferociously priced out of the range of most shooters in the US, and they were both rare in the market and difficult to support.

I remember reading one guide saying to buy WWII surplus scopes because they were build better than anything available on the commercial market.  I doubt anyone sane would agree with that statement now.  The glass coatings on the cheapest of Chinese scopes now outclass anything available then.

But back to the topic at hand.

Leupold offers a massive variety of scopes and variations of their scopes.  Different reticles, turret options, finishes, etc.  I don’t know if anyone offers any where near as many different options as Leupold does.  This also means many different versions of the same scope.

Cheaper 3-9x were often seen on hunting rifles, the higher end MK14 3.5-10x was seen commonly on competition and police sniper Remington 700s.  An illuminated version of this scope was used on the M110 sniper rifle.

Rule of thumb back then was that you wanted the 1x time the distance in hundreds of yards for the amount of magnification you would use.  So it was figured a 10x scope was what you needed for 1000 yards.  I recall seeing the Leopold 3.5-10x, 4.5-14x, and the 6.5-20x as the most common scopes among “serious” shooters for a long time.  Slowly other brands took over that market share, Nightforce being one of the major ones.  You could get the scope with a fine duplex reticle and target turrets or coarse adjustments with a mildot.

For example, on this particular scope the elevation are 1 MOA clicks and 1/2 MOA windage clicks.  The idea behind the coarse elevation clicks is to allow a sniper to very quickly adjust for distance.  Elevation knobs are also marked for bullet drop.  This one is marked 168 grain .308.  You can have Leupold make you a custom marked turret.  Some of these scopes that were used by the military have a BDC cap for M118LR out of a 20 inch barrel.

I’m going to omit going into the specs and stats of this scope as it is no longer in production to sell to the public.  Due to continued demand from law enforcement and military, Leupold will make these if they special order them.  Apparently Leupold would prefer if you switched to one of their newer and improved designs, but enough agencies out there want these classics.

This can be a good deal for you.  If you keep your eyes out you may find used Leupolds for sale by people have to have upgraded to newer scopes.  These older scopes have plenty of life left in them.

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.

Quick Look at a Geissele Rail

I can’t remember if I talked about this before, so I’ll talk about it now.

Geissele started in the AR market with an awesome trigger.  They have since expanded to offer handguards and optics mounts.  Personally while their handguards and optic mounts are really nice, I think you can get just as nice for significantly cheaper.  That said, lets take a closer look at one.

The first Geissele rails that were publicly seen were made for the HK416.  The current rails show that heritage with their massive barrel nut.

The rail slides over this barrel nut and is held in place by two bolts that line up with the notches in the barrel nut.

The rail also has anti rotation tabs with set screws to prevent the handguard from rotating should excessive force be applied to it.

I was surprised to see that Geissele leaves a bunch of sharp corners where the rail meets the receiver.  I would have expected a generous radius on these edges.

Geissele rails have been growing in popularity lately.  They are also being used on the Army’s new URG-1 upper.  The rumor mill says it was picked because it has less deflection under load than other offerings.  These rails are pretty nice, but very expensive.

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.