5.56 Timeline

Winchester 230gr Flat Nose FMJ “Select Grade”

While gold bricking around my pal’s gun shop a couple weeks ago I saw this Winchester Select Grade ammo and was curious enough to actually pay for a box of ammo just to see what it would do.

I shot the ammo in 5 round groups from a sand bag and bench at 20 yards. I used 2 different guns. My Colt rail gun and the new series 70 competition model.

Those two groups above from the rail gun.

Group below from the series 70 competition model.

It’s not too bad. Not good enough to be called Match Ammo, but good enough to justify the dubious label thought up by Press & Propaganda boys as “select grade.” The price is a little high though as all ammo is in these strange days.

Review: XM 18-22 40mm Beehive Round.

I went to the range and was setting up only to realize I left my range bag at home. It was going to be one of those days. Had to peel tape off an old target to hang up my target.

It is said that a 40mm grenade launcher is one of the most versatile useless things you can buy. You can fire all sorts of different types of munitions out of one, if you can get your hands on them. Smoke, star clusters, parachute flares, CS gas, shotgun shells, beehives, etc, etc.

A “beehive” or “hive” round uses multiple smaller projectiles for antipersonnel use. A beehive round for an 105mm artillery might disperse 8000 flechettes. We are going to be looking at something a little bit smaller. This round fires 18 .22 long rifle rounds from a 40mm launcher.

I’ve read debate on if various rounds were technically “canister” rounds, or “beehive” rounds. To me, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why a round would be called one and not the other. There is no consistent pattern between various designs.

At one point the military tried a “bee hive” round for the 40mm that fired 45 flechettes. This was replaced with a buckshot shell as that turned out to be more effective against targets.

I’d been wanting to get a hive round for my M203 even before I had the M203, but I had not seen any in stock anywhere. But to be fair, I only really looked around once a year or so. I finally found one for sale online and $425 + Tax + S&H later I had it.

I was rather underwhelmed when I got it. Now I knew that I was going to be getting this for novelty purposes and would likely only fire it once or twice a year, mainly to show off to other people. But it kinda sucks.

First, what is it and how does it work?

It has 18 bores, and uses a large pistol primer to drive an internal firing pin to fire off the 18 .22 LR rounds with in.

The anodizing on the aluminum is spotty in appearance, and the bores are very rough. I figured they were dirty from a test fire, but no, it looks like they were just drilled roughly.

The plate that acts as the firing pin is made from stainless steel. It also was not deburred so it is covered sharp edges and rough metal at the edges. There was a chamfer on the inside that was cut after the part was anodized leaving bare aluminum. Lots of chatter marks in that rough cut.

Quite frankly, this is a simple design. I understand that there is extremely low demand for something like this, so the price is going to reflect the very low volume of sales. But I know that if there was any substantial amount of demand for these we would see for them sale on Wish for $20 each shipped from China.

It feels like I paid a premium price for an item manufactured with lower the quality than a Happy Meal toy.

But the important question is, “Does it work?”

I’ve read people posting online that the 18 round hive should not be used in a M203 due to the excessive recoil could damage the M203 launcher. That only the 8 or 9 round hives should be used in a M203.

I’m sure you are reacting with, “Excessive recoil? It is a .22! .22 has negligible recoil.” Well. . . 18 times negligible can add up.

I decided I’d fire it side by side with a 12 gauge round to see how the recoil felt.

I think the people who claim the recoil on this might damage your launcher don’t know what they are talking about. This certainly has less felt recoil than the 12 gauge or a standard 40mm chalk round.

I’m going to be writing about the Trijicon MRO, so I was playing around with it today. I threw it on the M203 stand alone mount and tried using that for aiming the 12 gauge shotshell. I found my impact was very low and right. Only 2 pellets hit the target. So I aimed high left for the hive round. In the video below you can see the two pellet impacts on the target before the hive round is fired.

It was a little slow to insert this hive round into the chamber. It would have been nice if there was more of a chamfer or radius to the nose of it.

It is very disappointing to see that almost all the 22 rounds impact the target sideways. At first I thought the bores might be oversized, but this might just be because they are smoothbores.

I did not expect so much residue from the large pistol primer.

A rod is necessary to push out the spent .22 cases. I keep one in my range bag (which I forgot to bring with me).

I found the insert of a pen would work as a rod for pushing out cases.
Well. . . It worked for a bit.

My concern when using this round is hang fires and .22 rounds that don’t go off. .22 long rifle is very reliable for what it is, but it certainly isn’t 100% reliable. If a round doesn’t go off, I’m not likely to know until after I have disassembled this adaptor and rodded out the cases.

I really wanted one of these rounds and now I have one. Yet I don’t feel it is worth $425. I wouldn’t suggest buying one. For $425 I would have expected it to be a piece of metal art instead of rough surfaces, burrs, and weirdly discolored anodizing. It would be nice to see steel used for the bores, and I would have at least liked to have seen a reamed bore instead of just drilled. Preferable it would have been even better had they been rifled.

Some might say, “Why complain, shooting .22 is cheap.” But when you look at the price of 18 .22 rounds along with a large pistol primer, that is comparable to the cost of a cheap shotgun shell. It is much quicker and easier to fire 12 gauge out of my M203 than to load and unload this hive round.

Still, I have the round now, and I’ll use it occasionally. It will probably spend most of its time sitting on my desk as something to show off to people.

Perhaps someday I’ll make my own. I’d turn the body from stainless steel and rifle the bores. There are some lower capacity .22 hive rounds for the 40mm with rifled bores. Also now someone came up with a 4 shot .410 hive round. Still, having to use a pistol primer to actuate it really slows down the reloading. I’ll probably stick to 12 gauge and chalk rounds for plinking. The XM 18-22 is fun, but I feel it is a poor value.

Colt Competition Series 70 M1911

I finally got myself one of the new series 70 Competition models and boy am I impressed. These are really nice. First off it comes with the Colt branded VZ grips that are always very nice and a left side extended thumb safety which I beleive to be a Wilson Combat part. It also has the Novak combat sight that is adjustable. I am a big fan of Novak sights.

Front sight is the fiber optic. I’m not crazy about that but that is easy to replace. I liked it for shooting but I’m not a believer in using them for daily carry.

It has a stainless National Match barrel.

I was pleased to see a nice full bevel on the mag well. In the past Colt did a weird semi bevel that did not go the full length of each side. No idea why they did that.

The frame has the cut to give a higher grip which I like a lot.

The trigger is already nice since it’s a 1911 trigger. Even better since it is a series 70 fire control and better yet, it feels like it’s been tuned a little bit to be a match trigger. Make’s sense, the gun is called the Competition Series 70.

So how does it shoot?

Very good so far. That’s about as good as I can do in 98 degree sun and 88 percent humidity. It was hot.

Next target is 50 yards VERY slow fire off hand with 8 rounds .

I have no excuse nor explanation on why I shot to the left.

The 100 yard group at a man shaped target because some of you want to know.

That was shot off a bench and bags. This was my first try and I have to admit that group being that tight was more luck than skill even though I did use match ammo.

I felt cocky and shot at the head from 100 after that. I fired two 8 round mags at just the head off the bench from 100 yards. Not a high success rate but hey, its 100 yards with a .45ACP pistol I haven’t even owned 24 hours yet what else do you want from me?

I will probably do a part 2 for this after I get used to the gun and shoot it a lot more. At this point though, if I had to recommend a first 1911 for some one I would have to advise some one to buy one of these. I’d suggest swapping the front sight for a normal Novak combat front sight but otherwise this thing is a real honey.

Taurus 1911 Commander

My Brother pick up a Taurus 1911 Commander and brought it by today. The gun has most of the things that factory 1911s come with these days.

Action was really gritty and tight at first. So tight I was surprised. After about 50 rounds it loosened up quite a bit. Sights are a sort of copy of the popular Novak combat sights. Trigger was heavy for a 1911 but crisp.

Best group was first group fired. 8 rounds off hand at 20 yards on 50 yard slow fire bullseye target. The rest not so much. Ammo was Winchester 230 ball service grade.

Optic of the week: Nightforce ATACR 1-8X24 F1

Nightforce introduced two 1-8X scopes at the same time. A NXS 1-8X and the ATACR 1-8X. I recall looking over the specs on each and wondering why someone would pick the larger and heavier ATACR over the NXS. I really wanted one of the NXS 1-8X scopes, and I still do. I’m a big fan of the NXS 2.5-10X24 scopes and the NXS 1-8 is slightly smaller, and includes newer nicer reticles, first focal plane, and daylight bright illumination.

That said, not that long ago I was trying to sell a gun wasn’t using and I was offered an ATACR 1-8X24 in trade. I took the guy up on the deal. I figured if I didn’t like the scope, it is still easier to sell a scope than a gun.

Note that the scope comes with excellent Tenebraex flip covers. I am only using the cover on the objective lense.

After throwing the scope in a Larue mount I had laying around, I felt it was a little big and heavy for a 5.56 rifle. Not excessively so. The scope by it self is actually lighter than a Elcan Specter DR. Often when I dislike a scopes weight, I go and compare it to the Elcan and tend to find the scope I am complaining about is lighter. Now once you include a mount, this scope and mount would be about a quarter pound heavier than an Elcan Specter DR, but this scope is a 1-8X unlike the 1-4X Elcan. At 21 oz, I feel this a little big for a light and handy gun.

Playing around a bit, I tried throwing this scope on top of a .308 AR. That just felt right to me. It balanced well and felt like it fit me and the gun perfectly.

At 1X the ATACR has a reticle with thick side and bottom bars. Looks almost like a German #4 reticle. This lets you use the scope for fast work up close when the illumination is off.

Once you turn on the illumination, at 1X it starts to feel like an Aimpoint.

I have yet to use a 1X-whatever power scope that truly feels Aimpoint fast at 1X. But these newer scopes are getting closer to it. The 1X on the ACTAR still feels a little bit like looking though a bubble at 1X. The flattest feeling scope I have used at 1X is still the Leupold MK6. But the illumination on the MK6 1-6X was rather unforgiving of head position. The ACTAR is far superior there.

As you increase the magnification, you get to use the “FC-DM” reticle which is a mil based Horus like Christmas tree of dots.

There is a 4 segmented larger circle that is 2 mils in diameter. This gives about a 6.75 MOA illuminated center dot when you are running the scope like an reflex sight. There is a center .35 mil dot which is about 1.2 MOA.

If you crank up the brightness while magnified, you will see other parts of the reticle exhibit some stray illumination. The brightness knob has an off setting between each brightness setting you can can easily turn it off or back on to your preferred brightness. This knob is easy enough to turn that I have a little concern it would turn on in my range bag and drain the batteries.

Nightforce doesn’t list battery life on their website, which usually means very poor battery life. The manual says 29 hours at maximum brightness. That is rather pathetic.

Adjustments are made with the excellent capped .1 mil turrets. Nightforce includes thread protectors should you want to run the turrets exposed. I fired 2 rounds at 25 yards and found I was impacting 2 mils right and 1.5 low from my desired point of impact. Nice, easy, numbers I quickly measured using the reticle. I dialed in the adjustments and moved out to 100 yards. I found I was impacting right where I wanted to be.

When shooting at 100 yards, I found that center 1.2 MOA-ish dot felt huge. If I were doing any sort of pure precision work at 100 yards, I’d make an elevation adjustment and use a different part of the reticle for aiming. That large dot was covering up the 3/4 MOA dot I was aiming at and also covered up my impacts.

I think I see so many of these 1-X power scopes for sale barely used because people by them thinking that they will be getting a scope that will be Aimpoint fast at 1X, and work as a sniper scope at 8X only to find out that the scope will end up sucking at one or the other function. More likely terrible at both.

With the ATACR it feels pretty nice at 1X, but it makes the center of the reticle far from ideal for any sort of precision work at 8X.

The reticle markings on this scope have a grid of dots reaching down to 10 mils. I estimate that amount of hold over would get my 308 rifle out to about 825 yards. The ammo I am using would be going sub-sonic at about 875 yards. I figure this scope could handle the practical range of the rifle with just hold overs at max magnification.

I like this scope but I’m not sure if I would recommend it. It is rather pricy, and there are other lighter and cheaper options. 1-10X scopes are on the market, and and improving all the time.

Still I like this one more than I expected. I think I’ll keep it around until I find something better.