LaRue, Colt, KAC Battle Carbines Compared Part 2

Part 1 is located here.

I wanted to do an informal precision and shooting comparison between these three rifles.  From left to right in the picture there is a Larue Ultimate Upper kit, a Colt LE901-16SE, and a KAC SR25-EC.  The Colt and the KAC are used rifles, the Larue kit has only had about 32 rounds thought it at this point.

Last weekend I took the three rifles out and fired them at 100 yards using three different types of ammo.  For the test I used a Leupold MK6 3-18 power, and fired the rifles from a Cadwell rest and rear bag.  I singled loaded each shot and fired a 5 shot group with each ammo type.

My initial intent was to fire 5 rounds from each rifle cycling between the rifles before switching brands of ammo.  Unfortunately the point of impact was different enough between the rifles that I was initially off paper as I moved the scope, so I ended up firing all the groups from one rifle, then moving to another.  I used the same firing position, scope, target frame, etc with each rifle.  Fortunately weather and shooting conditions stayed consistent through the course of fire.

Before starting, I expected the Larue to group the best and the SR25 to be the easiest to shoot due to its weight.

I am glad it was an informal test, as I ran into a bunch of issues, mostly all my fault.  I was using my phone to snap photos and I dropped it and broke it very early on.  It was a good thing I had already planned to single load the shots for the groups, as I left all my .308 magazines at home.  The Larue kit comes with a PRI Gasbuster charging handle which I loved, until I cut my trigger finger good on the corner of it.  Good thing I don’t get paid to do this.

An aside, so as my trigger finger was slowly bleeding, I was looking at the medical supplies in my car.  I had something like 3 tourniquets, 2 chest seals, a nasopharyngeal airway, a decompression needle, lots of large pressure dressings, etc, but no band-aids.  I ended up staunching the trickle of bleeding using a McDonald’s napkin I had in my car.  Note, I need to add boo-boo gear to my car medical supplies.  I’m pretty sure McD napkins aren’t considered high speed-low drag, or even clean & sterile bandages.

Anyways, shooting went ok.  Of all the strings of fire I only felt like I pulled 2 shots.  I will bring them up when I discuss the groups.

The targets side by side.

First, the SR25-EC. The EC has a 16 inch heavy barrel that is chrome moly (not chrome lined).  Twist rate is 1:11.

I was surprised, I found the SR25-EC the hardest to shoot of the rifles off the bench rest.  I had expected the combination of it being the heaviest rifle along with the rifle length gas system would make it the lowest recoiling and smoothest shooting rifle.  Firing it off the bench I felt like it had the most movement out of all the rifles when I was shooting it.  This may be in part due to the KAC rail covers being ribbed and as the rifle recoils that may have caused more visible movement though the scope.

  • Hornady American Gunner 155 gr BTHP
    • I fired a 1.42″ 5 shot group
  • Hornady Match 168 gr BTHP
    • This gave me a tighter 1.25″ group.
  • Federal Gold Metal Match 175 gr
    • The first shot landed rather far away from the rest of the group.  Ignoring the first shot, the rest of the group is .77″  Including that first shot the group is a little over 1.7″

I didn’t feel like I pulled any shots or did anything noticeably wrong during those strings of fire.  I am rather disappointed that I didn’t shoot better groups.  I can’t say at this time if it was the rifle or me that was under performing.

The Colt rifle has a chrome lined 1:12 twist rate.  It appears to be that the intent with the 901 is to have an accurate combat rifle, verses say something like the Larue rifles where are meant to be a reliable precision rifle.

The Colt LE901-16SE standard trigger made it a little harder to shoot groups with than the other two rifles.  I found the VLTOR stock on the rifle didn’t fit in the rear bag as well as the CTR stocks that were on the other rifles for shooting.  In hindsight, it might have been nice to use the same stock on each rifle so that they would fit the rear bag the same.  The slick forarm of the SE rode the front bag nicely.

The 901 was the only rifle where I felt that I had a 2 pulled shots.  When I fired the 4 shot of the Hornady 168gr BTHP match I pulled that shot left.  On the 5th shot of the FGMM I had a bug land on my neck as I was pressing the trigger and I jerked the hell out of the trigger in surprise.  I am sort of surprised that shot was even on paper.  But I suppose that lack of discipline is why I was a rifleman and not a sniper.

  • Hornady American Gunner 155 gr BTHP
    • We had a ~1.69 inch group.
  • Hornady Match 168 gr BTHP
    • Excluding my pulled 4th shot, the group was about 1.5 inches, including that shot 1.9″
  • Federal Gold Metal Match 175 gr
    • Excluding my pulled shot, the group is .95 inches.  Including it it is a 1.62 inch group.

Using FGMM 168gr, I have shot sub 1 inch groups with the Colt LE901-16S, and this rifle in the past.

Between each group, I took a break and and would touch the barrels to make sure they had cooled off.  My no means a reliable test, it seemed to me that the 901 got the hottest.  That just seems weird to me.

The Larue Ultimate Upper kit can be ordered with a variety of different barrel options.  This one has the lightweight PredatAR profile.  It is a 1:10 twist rate.   Rifle rifle having the lightest trigger, a nice smooth long hand guard, and the muzzle break was the easiest and smoothest to shoot by a noticeable margin.

I was surprised and disappointed with how the Hornady ammo shot in this rifle.
  • Hornady American Gunner 155 gr BTHP
    • This 5 shot group was 2.1″  I was pretty surprised and disappointed at this.  3 shots landed in .54 inches, but those were the first, second, and 5th shot.
  • Hornady Match 168 gr BTHP
    • This 5 shot group came in at 1.56 inches.  Best 4 of 5 would be .93 inches.
  • Federal Gold Metal Match 175 gr
    • Now this performed more like what I expected.  The 5 shot group is approximately .93 inches, best 3 of 5 being about .53″.

I’ve never shot the Hornady American Gunner or their 168gr match before.  I don’t think I am ever going to buy it again when I could just buy the FGMM instead.  All three rifles put at least 4 rounds of the 5 round group of FGMM in under an inch.  Normally when I would shoot for groups with factory .308 I’d use the FGMM 168 gr.

I was making sight adjustment between groups, and I found that the FGMM 175 gr ammo was impacting about 1 mil (3.6 inches) low compared to the loads at 100 yards.  This was consistent from rifle to rifle.

So what are my takeaways from this?  No more factory Hornady ammo for me.  I believe each of these rifles could do MOA or better with the Federal Gold Medal Match ammo, but unfortunately one five shot group with that ammo doesn’t really tell the true performance of a rifle.  I’d love to just sit at the bench and do a bunch of groups from each rifle but I not sure if I will get the chance to do so.

I’ll be posting up a part 3 which will compare some the internal parts.  I find it interesting on how the Larue rifle has a much lighter recoil spring than the others and feels like it is cycling in slow motion compared to the others.

Memories of Shotguns in the Corps

At any given time there are a handful of firearms I really want to purchase.  Usually after a few years of looking I manage to find one, quickly get tired of it, and later sell it for a minute profit.  The newest accusation is a Mossberg 500 MILS.  I’ll post more about it some other time.

Not me.  That is a Mossberg 500 MILS that my platoon used in Iraq.

Prior to joining up, I used to see ads for the Mossberg 590A1 talk about how it was the only milspec shotgun and the only shotgun to pass the USMC tests, etc.  Then when I was in I never saw a single 590.

Every shotgun I saw in the hands of Marines was either a Mossberg 500, or a Benelli M1014.  That had me fairly confused for a long time.  Where were those 590s?  Where did all the 500s come from?

It is only long after I got out that I learned that the USMC does buy 590s and issues them out to various groups.  Also the 500s they buy are pretty much built to the 590 spec.

Now this is my guess on the matter.  I used to think that the 590 was the standard line, and the 500 was the economy line from Mossberg.  Now I think the 500 was the standard, and the 590 upgraded.  I think some years back the USMC wanted a shotgun and they tested the 500 and liked it, but wanted some changes.  Heavier barrel, metal trigger guard, metal safety, etc.  So that became the 590A1.  Military orders 500 built to that spec, and those are the 500 MILS.  Correct me if I am wrong, but that is my guess and I haven’t bothered to do my due diligence and research it..  I did hear that the Army decided that rebuilding the trigger groups was too long, hard. and expensive, so they started ordered the cheaper plastic trigger housing and just replace the whole unit should it fail or need to be rebuilt.

Being a rifleman, my experience in the Corps with shotguns was fairly limited.  I was fortunate to have received shotgun training while I was in, we had a range sessions where we are familiarized with the Mossberg and the Benelli shotguns.  I remember that under stress and pushed for speed plenty of Marines would short stroke the pump actions.  We all loved the M1014 for shooting, but people would fumble the controls or forget how to release the bolt, etc.  Even after using both shotguns for a couple days straight, Marines would still fumble with them.

While I was in, I taught a class on Mechanical Breaching.  How to break into buildings.  Part of that involved explaining how to breach doors with a shotgun.  I’d never done it at that time, I would just repeat the spiel that I was taught.  I was actually attached to be a demonstrator for that class, and after hearing the instructor teach it a few times, one time he had to take care of something so I simply repeated all the things he taught to the students that were waiting around.  After that it was decided that they liked how I taught better and I ended up teaching that class.

The blind leading the blind, it is the Marine Corps way.  I did get to do a little breaching later on in Iraq, but never popped a lock with a shotgun.

Back then, the instruction on shotgun breaching was to place the muzzle on the door or lock.  Later I have seem multiple sources teach to stand off an inch or two, and it even became popular to attach a standoff to the barrel of the shotgun.  There was a long explanation back then of why we should press the muzzle to the target.  I haven’t bother to look into which way is actually better.  It is near the bottom of my to-do list.

When we deployed, my platoon received a couple of Mossberg 500s.  The one that was used by my squad had the bead sight broken off.  It is the one in the picture above.  We had a 0331 machine gunner who was issued the Shotgun because it was decided he was not going to carry the M240 during all our foot patrols.

Our ~combat~ use of the shotguns was rather pathetic.  Our guys issued shotguns were maybe given about 20 rounds total for the deployment.  Early in the deployment the Marine issued the one in the picture at one point had to hand it over for use by the Battalion Commander’s personal security detachment for a patrol, and that guy lost most of the issued ammo.  So for the rest of deploying our guy only had maybe 7 rounds total.

If I recall correctly, my squad never breached any doors with a weapon.  We generally were able to either open a door or smash it open by pushing/kicking.  I do know of one case where a few guys I knew tried to breach a door using a M16A4.  I’m told the shooter fired 3 rounds, and multiple fragments came back and struck other Marines stacked up prepared for entry.  I heard that the lock was not defeated.  I do not know if the fragments were part of the M855 he fired or parts of the door & lock.  I also would not put it past the guy to have missed the lock completely.  Sadly I’ll never know the whole story, all I know is that those guys couldn’t break a lock with a M16.

While I was in, I never saw any ammunition other than buckshot.  No one ever seemed to be able to get their hands on any slugs or breaching rounds.  But that is the Corps, they had a hard enough time providing us water & chow.  Hell we couldn’t even get the guy issued the shotgun more than the 7 or so rounds he carried during the deployment.

We all loved the M1014.  It was kinda odd that we were told it was adopted for riot use, but it couldn’t cycle the less than lethal ammo.  So it was suggested to use the M500 if your shooting bean bags & baton rounds.  I remember guys had a hard time cleaning them because no one ever taught them how to clean it.

One of the SAW gunners in a different platoon that I knew was issued a M1014 for a short while.  He would put his issued M145 Elcan 3.4X scope on it and joke that he had a sniper shotgun.  That is the only case I ever saw of anyone using the rail on that shotgun.

An aside.  I was trying to look up some info on Mossbergs shotguns.  I stumbled across a post on the shotgunworld.com forum where the following was said:

Slam-fire shotguns don’t exist, much less a comprehensive list of them.
Go troll someplace else, most of us here aren’t foolish enough to encourage your fantasies.

DrMike

The only reason I can see for such a list is to build a fully-automatic shotgun. If that is not the case, perhaps you can explain why you want this rather odd information. If it is the case, perhaps you can explain why any responsible person would help you.

DrMike

That is part of the problem of doing research.  Not only will the people who are wrong share their knowledge, but will most vehemently insist that they are right.

There are a handful of older pump shotguns that can “slam fire”.  These guns have no trigger disconnect so you can hold down the trigger and just rack the action.  The Winchester Model 12, Winchester 1893/1987, and Ithaca M37 are the only ones that come to my mind that do that.  Modern reproductions of these often, but not always, keep lack of a trigger disconnect so that they can slam fire.  The Mossbergs do no slam fire.  But the stupidity of the above comments forced me to bring this up.  I have no clue how DrMike thinks that a slam firing PUMP ACTION shotgun is going to be converted to full auto.

I’ve heard of Mossbergs modified or malfunctioning being able to slam fire, but those are the exception.

Anyways, that’s off topic.

So often in the Corps, a shotgun was just handed to a Marine with the expectation that they would know how to use it.  That was more often not the case.  I saw plenty of negligent discharges from people with shotguns.  One example, my platoon was going to escort another platoon when they were moving from one patrol base to another.  They had set up in an empty house.  I was the first from my platoon to enter this house occupied by the other platoon so I was sweeping through it.  I was was leaving the threshold of the living room, my team mates were walking into the room.  One of the Marines of the other platoon discharged his M500 into the center of the floor right by the feet of my team leader.  Needless to say some words were said.  On the other hand, I was also the last Marine to leave that building, and I got a whole bunch of free gear that was left behind from the other platoon.  Those guys had a quite the tendency to screw stuff up.

Often guys did not know how to operate the M1014.  The bolt release button on the side of the receiver caused all manner of confusion.  It is not a knock against the gun, but the poor familiarization and training Marines had.

In any event, the use of shotguns in the military that I personally witnessed was rather sad and pathetic.  But I managed to find the exact model Mossberg M500 MILS we used while I was in and was able to buy one at a reasonable price.  That will be a fun item for my collection.  I’ll talk more about that after I get the chance to put it through its paces.

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.

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.