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Update on my firearm project.

Back around Hurricane Irma I got thinking about what I would get if I were starting my firearm collection from scratch.  I still have an unfinished article based off my musing I might post someday.

I’ve wanted a light weight .308 semi auto with a long handguard for a while now.  I really like the Colt 901 and would love to have one with a long handguard, but Colt doesn’t offer that in the US, so I went with Larue Tactical.

Larue Tactical offers what they a call an Ultimate Upper kit.  This is a somewhat customization kit that including everything necessary for a functional AR minus the serialized lower receiver.  These kits are a great deal for the money, but they tend to have a very long lead time so don’t get one if you are impatient.  If you buy one of their upper kits, you can also order a lower.

I place an order from LaRue on 6/21.

I held off for quite a while as the large frame Larue rifles are Keymod and I’d much prefer MLOK.  But after thinking about it I realized that I am just going to mount a QD mount for a sling swivel and a couple of rail sections, and never take them off.  For me, in the big picture, it doesn’t really matter which system it is.

The upper kit arrived on 8/10.

It is a nicely packed up kit of everything for a rifle except for a lower.

 

There is the option to purchase a couple more of Larue mags at a discount when you buy one of their UU kits.  These are mags are well made and are designed to allow for a little longer overall length on the rounds in the mag over other brands like the Magpul P-Mags.

I also purchased a Surefire Warcomp.  It reduces recoil but is not as blasty or loud as a proper muzzle break.  It will reduce muzzle flash more than a muzzle break, but less than a dedicated flash hider.  The other main benefit is the ability to mount my Surefire silencer.

I wrote a little bit about the Larue RAT stock here.

I decided to go with a light weight profile barrel, the same as on the PredatAR rifles.  The barrel with gas block and gas tube weights 2 lbs 5.6oz.  I choose a light weight barrel as I know I won’t be doing high volume fire through this gun, and I do know that Larue makes accurate barrels.  The 308 rifles have plenty of weight in other areas, so I think this will be a good compromise.  Worse case scenario, the gun can be re-barreled, but I doubt that will be an issue.

To put it in perspective, the Proof Research lightweight barrel is advertised to be 2 pounds 3 oz at $940.  I don’t think 3ish ounces is worth that premium.

Barrel is marked Rearden Steel.  That’s for those of you who get the reference.

The gasblock is keyed the barrel for alignment.

Three setscrews hold the gas block in place.  Flat bottomed holes are cut in the barrel for these set screws.  I used Rockset to help secure them.

The match two stage trigger and pistol grip that comes with the kit is installed on a dry fire trainer so you can test the trigger as you wait for a lower.

I have no idea how much longer I am going to have to wait for the matching Larue lower I ordered for this kit, but I will write about it when I get it.

The Suppressed M16 In Vietnam & After

“With the emergence of  the M16 as the principal infantry arm of the  US ground combat forces in South Vietnam, the  major thrust of suppressor development was centered on the 5.56mm rifle.     The USAMTU had been actively involved with suppressor testing during the course of Army revaluations.     So far as the AMTU was concerned, if there were certain benefits to be gained by field use of a suppressor-equipped M16 rifle, then fitting a similar device to an accurized rifle “offered endless possibilities” for combat use in Vietnam. ”  -Senich

While suppressed guns had been used in past wars ,their use and development during the war in Vietnam was the golden age of silencers in use as  more than assassinations or sabotage special missions.     The effectiveness of  long range fire on enemy at night or day light  with out being able to determine true range or direction  can not be questioned .  The impact of the effectiveness of  knowing friendly troops have suppressor equipped rifles even has an effect to their fellow soldiers.  “ I would see these guys from time to time, they would come in just after first light and I couldn’t help thinking how damn glad I was they were on our side” To many US troops the sight of other US combat personnel with suppressed rifles made and impression.

Even though rack grade M16s with suppressors had been issued for specialized units for covert missions  and regular forces for long range  patrols, recon, and ambush missions  no official organized program existed for fielding optic equipped suppressed M16s.  Examples of M16s with optics and suppressors are seen in many pictures, but usually this was an example of individual initiative or small  units going about it in a quasi official manner.

Official documents from as early as May 1966 show that a program to field suppressed M16s to RVN  had began. The USARV submitted an ENSURE request for “silencers for the M16A1rifle.”  Even so,  it took a considerable amount of time  before examples were sent to RVN for combat testing.

Most of the examples sent to VN for testing and use are the   US Army Human Engineering Lab, Frankford Arsenal  and Scionics inc.   After testing  it was concluded that all models did reduce  a noticeable amount of muzzle noise from the M16, they all also came with issues and an increased in cleaning.

During the testing and fielding it did not take long for users to bring up the idea of sub sonic ammunition to increase the effectivness of noise reduction.   From the book by Gary Douglas , A LRRP’s Narrative.

” I let Crowe carry my M16 with silencer. We had a number of 556mm rounds bootlegged, using low velocity powder and soft lead bullets that did make the suppressor quite effective .. The lead bullets worked fine, except for the one drawback. You had to hand cycle each round. “

Of course making sub sonic ammo is well thing the means of ammo producers  or handloaders but making sub sonic ammo that would cycle the action of  the rifle is another matter Not to mention the obvious requirement for effective terminal performance and range.    One problem encountered  was with making sub sonic ammo was the now empty space inside the case.  They found quickly that if the bore was pointed down, the powder would fall to the front of the case away from the primer resulting in failure of ignition or delayed ignition.

 “A concerted effort was made to develop suitable subsonic ammunition. However, a major problem  came as a result of the reduced powder loading.  When the M16 round was down loaded there was only a small amount of powder in the case, When the weapon was angled downward the powder showed the tendacy to move forward in the case, away from the primer and ignition was either irregular or nonexistent.  I was necessary to emply filler on top of the powder charge, Numerous substance such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, and cotton were tried; all with disastrous results. After firing a few rounds the rifle gas port and suppressor became clogged with the inert filler.” Donald G Thomas  -Scionics

The method to finally cure this was to use an epoxy inserted into the case in a way that left a small central cavity for the powder.   An effective but very time consuming and expensive.  The end result being that the vast majority of suppressors used and issued during the war  were used with standard service ammunition.

By the end of the War , the Scionics MAW-A1 suppressor was the model deemed the most suitable  and durable for  use on the M16 rifle.

The suppressed M16  became a very effective tool for operations in South Vietnam, especially for small recon  teams.  My mentor served  in a ranger company on LRRP missions in the 199th Brigade and carried a suppressed  M16.   He tells of ambushing a group of Viet Cong one night while cooking their dinner.

M16 suppressed

” They were about 5o yards away and it was  almost night . They were sitting around a fire cooking and smoking dope.   One had his back to me and I shot him in the back of the head.   He immediately fell over onto the fire and  the look on the faces of his friends was pure terror. The shock of being sprayed with their buddies head, not hearing the shot  and being stoned really took its toll Then the rest of the team opened up on them “

He was made more or less the team sniper and liked the suppressor and M16 combo.  He did say that in an emergency fight  he had to fire on full auto and at a certain point the suppressor blew off the end of the barrel and “took off like a rocket”.

The Army would take some time before getting serious about suppressing  M16 family of weapons for general or sniping use.   It went on to focus on the Xm21  system and a suppressor for it.  This  combining  762mm semi auto rifles and suppressors  of course went on to be more fully realized in the M110.

The concept of the M16 with suppressor was and is just too good to die.   The military went on to field the KAC NT4 suppressor for the M4 and MK18 carbines.   The with the more perfected idea from Vietnam of the M16 with suppressor in the excellent MK12  special purposes rifle using the  Opcs inc. suppressor.  Perhaps what many user in  the Vietnam wished for.

All of the previous systems are no longer used or being phased out of  and being replaced with  newer designs.    But the AMTU’s idea of a suppressed M16 is still as valid and useful as it was in  the 60s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate AR15

I’ve been sorting though old photos of mine and I came across a later picture of the first AR15 I built.  Back when I decided to build it, I had decided that I would build the  ultimate AR15  One that would do everything I could possibly need it to do.

Oh boy was I naive.  Mainly about AR addiction.

Around the end of 2004, when the silly Assault Weapons Ban ended started a vast rise in the popularity and customization of the AR15.  I had been reading the AR15.com forums for a little while and decided it was time I build one.

I started with an RRA lower.  At the time they were pretty highly regarded, and it is was pretty much all I could get.  RRA tightened up the openings where the take down pins went so it was rather hard to attach or remove an upper for quite some time.  Eventually the lower wore in and is as loose as an GI gun now.

Standard GI style trigger.  We didn’t have Geissele triggers then, so there was no want for anything better.  Like most people today I didn’t care for the bump on an A2 pistol grip.  Unlike many  who were using Magpul or Tango Down grips at the time, I used an A1 grip for its slightly larger diameter combined with a Magpul winter trigger guard.  Really wanted to be ready if I had to use large gloves in Florida’s harsh winters.

This was before push button quick detach sling swivels were popular.  I don’t know if they even existed back then.  HK sling snaps were often considered the way to go.  I used CQD front and rear sling mounts.  I’m still fond of those, but I tend not to use them any more due to the much greater convenience of QD sling swivels.

I used a CAR stock on the gun.  Started with a reproduction aluminum CAR stock as I thought a metal stock would be better than plastic.  Later switched to a surplus CAR stock.  Not quite sure why, but I am still rather fond of the old CAR stock and I still use them.

Now the upper is really the heart of an AR.  At the time I decided I would go with the best, no expense spared.

So I bought a CMMG 16″ M4 upper.

CMMG was pretty highly regarded at the time.  They were being innovative, offering options many other companies didn’t, and they truly had awesome customer service.  They didn’t keep that reputation long.  A 16 inch barrel was chosen due to our laws and it still is an good compromise length for handling and velocity.  I stuck with the standard A2 flash hider.  Later AR uppers I had had Vortex, Phantom, and all many of other muzzle devices.  I tend to find unless you are mounting a muzzle break or a silencer that it isn’t worth the cost of these specialty muzzle devices.

Back then I wouldn’t have considered trying to bench rest an AR15 and shoot sub-MOA.  Wouldn’t have expected to run high power scopes, match ammo, or anything else of that sort.  I was solely familiar with the M16A2 style configuration so the whole carbine config was new to me.

I paid a little more for a chrome bolt carrier.  Chrome bolts weren’t available at the time from CMMG.  (Probably out of stock)  It can be nice to have a chromed or some other fancy finished BCG, but now days I don’t bother with the extra cost.

A Samson quad rail was chosen to free float the barrel.  One with a removable bottom rail was used so that I could easily access the barrel for cleaning, and retained the ability to mount a M203.  (Yea, I wanted a M203 back then)  The Samson rail was well made, but discontinued shortly after I got mine due to some sort of legal issues between Troy and Samson.  Their rail was good and heavy duty, and generally heavy in weight.  While it was a good product, there are so very many better choices now.

A ran a couple different rear sights.  Often I used an A1 detachable carry handle.  Sometimes a standard detachable carry handle.  Later I switched to a Troy rear sight.  The Troy is still an excellent choice.

Used my first Eotech with this rifle, a 512.  Had issues with that one draining batteries when off, and the battery contacts broke.

Wasn’t a bad configuration, but certainly far from the ultimate AR.  I still have the lower, I SBR’d it some time ago.  The upper was sold or traded off for something that would have also been sold or traded off by now.  I don’t miss it.

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.