Archive for the 'AR-15s' Category



Josh Sugarmann On The M855 Green Tip Ban

BY Herschel Smith
1 day ago

I know, about now you’re thinking “what can Josh Sugarmann teach me about M855 green tip ammunition?  Not much, except that it pays to understand just what the enemy thinks.  It’s also important to know just how behind the times they are in understanding what we think, but more on that in a moment.

This is despite the fact that ATF is only doing what the NRA and other members of the gun lobby consistently argue should be done: enforcing the gun laws already on the books. Opponents also allege that no law-enforcement officer has been shot with one of the cartridges fired from a handgun. Testing the veracity of that assertion is challenging, but the whole point of the ban on “armor-piercing” ammunition is to prevent law enforcement and first responders who rely on body armor from ever having to face assailants wielding handguns loaded with armor-piercing rounds.

Yet left unstated is the fact that ATF’s proposal, as detailed in a new report from my organization, the Violence Policy Center, is the direct result of the gun industry’s own actions.

Facing a continuing decline in household gun ownership, the gun industry is constantly engaged in efforts to create new product lines to sell to a shrinking consumer base. In recent years the industry has aggressively marketed AR-15 assault pistols that use common rifle ammunition, such as the 5.56-by-45-millimeter round used in AR-type assault rifles.

So it’s possible that Josh doesn’t really understand anything about rifle ammunition, or perhaps he does and is playing dumb (or lying) in order to deceive his idiot readers at Huffington Post.  But just to make sure you understand, let’s cover this for a moment.

Common 5.56 mm ammunition will penetrate soft body armor, all of it, period.  Kevlar will not stop 5.56 mm ammunition (lead ball) shot at 3200 FPS.  Nor will soft body armor stop most rifle rounds.  Soft body armor is [routinely] tested for 9mm pistol ammunition, not rifle ammunition.

ESAPI (enhanced SAPI plates, or the ceramic ballistic plates worn in ballistic plate carriers) are designed to stop rifle rounds, and are specifically tested for M855.  No cop today (or anyone else for that matter) wearing Kevlar is protected from any rifle round (unless it is from something like a pistol caliber rifle), and the existence of M855 or lack thereof doesn’t change that.  Likewise, a cop (or anyone else) wearing ESAPI plates is protected from rifle rounds, including the M855, and the existence of the M855 round or lack thereof doesn’t change that.  Finally, even ESAPI plates must stop a certain percentage of rounds (so there is some probability of fracture and penetration even with tested and specified rounds regardless of type).

So you understand, don’t you, that the M855 ban has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with LEO safety, the liar in the White House notwithstanding?

As for the notion that gun owners are demanding that existing law be enforced, who is doing that?  No seriously, who is doing that?  Not me.  Are you?  If so, why?  Okay, perhaps the NRA has used that stupid argument, but we want open, constitutional carry in every state in America, and we want the Hughes amendment repealed, as well as prohibitions on things like SBRs in the NFA repealed.  That’s just a start.  We don’t want the existing laws to be enforced.  Every federal gun law is a violation of the constitution.  Every one.

Sugarmann then shows us a screen capture from the Rock River Arms web site.  Perhaps this will be good advertizing for them.  One can only hope.  Sugarmann ends with his usual propaganda that gun sales is down and ownership is increasingly focused on a smaller and smaller percentage of people.  Whatever.  If Josh wants to think this that’s alright with me.  The less they know about us and our beliefs, the better.

Read also Kurt Hofmann:

One (presumably very much unintended) argument against banning “armor piercing” handgun ammunition for private citizens came a while back from a very surprising source–the Violence Policy Center. As that group’s director, Josh Sugarmann, was cited in the U.S. News & World Report:

Gun control advocacy groups like Sugarmann’s say the body armor worn by the shooters in Newtown [which wasn’t “body armor,” anyway] and Aurora undermines the argument made by gun advocates that shootings can be stopped by someone with a handgun.

In other words, Sugarmann seems to be arguing that armed private citizens would have a reasonable chance at stopping mass shootings, if only they were not denied handgun ammunition capable of defeating body armor.

Yea, he is arguing first that guns are of no use against body armor so why would ordinary citizens have guns?; and second, there are millions of rounds in circulation that can defeat body armor, so they must be banned.  Sugarmann doesn’t care about consistency.  He’s just parroting the latest talking point.

Marines To Get Rifle Makeovers

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 3 days ago

Recall that I told you “that Rock River Arms, Knights Armament, LaRue Tactical and Daniel Defense isn’t the Colt produced under milspec for the Army and Marine Corps (these are all superior to the Colt M-16 and M-4)?”  And recall that John Jay and I have both discussed Milspec and what it does (and doesn’t) mean?  And at Western Rifle Shooter’s Association I have had this discussion in even more detail.

While some features of some AR-15s (that don’t match Milspec) are positive, like the Wylde chamber which is highly acclaimed), some not so much. For example, RRA uses red Loctite on the Castle Nut, a feature many guys who do their own build don’t like much.

Listen, as an engineer (PE), I can tell you how I would approach it. I would take several rifles from different lots and measure the crap out of each and every tolerance (including head space, chamber, leade, etc.) before passing the design and saying it met my specifications. If I say that some specific part used SS304, I would send that part out of rifles with different lots to be melted down, and a spectrographic analysis done to determine if the Mn, Cr, Co and other elements were within tolerance. One slipup means the whole lot gets rejected.

And that’s the way the mechanics and engineers at the Picatinny Arsenal will approach it too. Milspec means something very specific, good in some instances, perhaps not keeping with current design improvements in others, but simply meeting the original order specs sent by the engineers.

Well, the Marine Corps is upgrading their rifles.

If the Marine Corps’ top marksmanship experts get their way, Marines are going to get a rifle retooled with an array of upgrades that will make them deadlier shooters. They recently directed the study of a number of significant changes to the service’s weapons, ammunition, shooting curriculum and ranges and have approved new competitions.

Most eagerly anticipated are recommendations to study overhauling M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines with a host of new features, including a new trigger and barrel, all of which will be a hot topic at the next Combat Marksmanship Symposium in October.

[ … ]

Current M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines could get a significant overhaul with mostly inexpensive components already available to consumers. The upgrades would drastically improve accuracy and function without incurring the expense of procuring an new rifle.

Those updates could include a free-floating barrel, rifle compensators, new reticles for the Rifle Combat Optic, more ambidextrous controls and a new trigger group. With significant advancements in rifle technology for the civilian shooting market over the past two decades, those are all features commonly seen on competition rifles and those carried by elite operators.

[ … ]

Standard-issue M16A4s and M4s use hand guards and rail systems that are directly connected to the barrel. As a result, any force exerted on an accessory like a rifle sling used to achieve greater stability also exerts force on the barrel. That can ever so slightly bend or pull the barrel off center relative to zeroed optics. The movement can translate into big variances over distance. The longer the shot, the further the external pressure exerted on the barrel will throw it.

A free floating barrel is achieved by using a hand guard and rail system that does not contact the barrel at any point. So any force exerted on a sling or other rifle-mounted accessory attached to the rail system does not translate to the barrel which contacts the rifle at only one point – the upper receiver. That ensures the barrel and optics which are also mounted to the upper receiver point in precisely the same direction.

“Free floating barrels have been seen in the competition world since the ’90s,” said Layou. “In combat you are not able to apply the same sling tension every time. You are shooting in different positions at different targets. So it’s not a training solution, it is a material solution needed to reduce barrel flex.”

This is a very odd way of explaining it.  Rifle optics can be set up with the assistance of a bore sight to zero at about 25 yards (which zeros the 5.56 mm at 100 yards too without BDC), even given the small undulations in the barrel.  That’s not really the issue.  The issue has to do with the fact that if it is not a free floated barrel there is a hinge point, or a fixed point beyond which the barrel cantilevers.

This point interferes with the natural frequency of the barrel and thus alters the harmonics of the system.  The vibrations send the projectile off directions other than the direction of the bore (at static conditions) without the vibrations from the explosion.  With an anchor point for the barrel, this smooth sinusoidal wave of vibrations becomes an interrupted mess of multiple competing and non-metered or oddly-patterned waves.  The point is this: barrel anchor points = bad, free floated barrel = good.

As I said before, purchasing something Milspec isn’t always the best option, and in most instances today with the progression of technology since mid-twentieth century, it leads to inferior design and manufacture.

WeaponsMan also has a good article on Making an M4 Run Like A Gazelle.

Long Range Shooting From A Bench With Jerry Miculek

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 5 days ago

I like to provide training videos when I can, and since I can’t train you to do much, Jerry Miculek has to stand in for me.

AR-15 Torture Test

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago

We’ve covered the AR-15 and its adherents and detractors in The Reliability Of The Eugene Stoner Design and Blaming The Gun For The Battle Losses concerning the battle of Wanat.  In the test shown below, this AR-15 endures a test of greater than 800 rounds in a short duration of time.

Blaming The Gun For The Battle Losses

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 4 weeks ago

Robert H. Scales wrote a piece for The Atlantic entitled Gun Trouble, with the catchy subtitle as follows: The rifle that today’s infantry uses is little changed since the 1960s—and it is badly flawed. Military lives depend on these cheap composites of metal and plastic. So why can’t the richest country in the world give its soldiers better ones?

Scales then proceeds to rehearse the history of flaws after the initial rollout of the M-16 in Vietnam, well known flaws (and failed to mention others, such as the fact that the chamber and barrel weren’t chrome-lined in the initial stages of production).  He pans the 5.56 mm NATO round, and ends up recommending two (what he considers to be) improvements.  First, he wants a larger caliber round, and second, he wants a gas recirculation system rather than the current DI system in use in the Eugene Stoner design (He fails to mention that the gas recirculation system weighs the front end of the rifle down and makes it more difficult to maneuver in CQB such as room clearing.  This is a point made to me by my son, who didn’t even like my quad-rail on the front end of my RRA rifle due to its weight).  Scales points to Wanat as proof positive that American lives are being wasted by a bad design.

The M4, the standard carbine in use by the infantry today, is a lighter version of the M16 rifle that killed so many of the soldiers who carried it in Vietnam. (The M16 is still also in wide use today.) In the early morning of July 13, 2008, nine infantrymen died fighting off a Taliban attack at a combat outpost near the village of Wanat in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. Some of the soldiers present later reported that in the midst of battle their rifles overheated and jammed. The Wanat story is reminiscent of experiences in Vietnam: in fact, other than a few cosmetic changes, the rifles from both wars are virtually the same. And the M4’s shorter barrel makes it less effective at long ranges than the older M16—an especially serious disadvantage in modern combat, which is increasingly taking place over long ranges.

In spite of the high number of kills in the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Scales calls the 5.56 mm a “varmint round.”  We’ve seen all of this before, much of it coming from experience many decades ago.  But we’ve seen testing that simply shows much of the bad press for the Stoner design (and good press for the Kalashnikov design) to be false.  Recall the testing done on the Knights Armament rifle, and reader Pat Hines sends two more examples here and here.  The point is granted that Rock River Arms, Knights Armament, LaRue Tactical and Daniel Defense isn’t the Colt produced under milspec for the Army and Marine Corps (these are all superior to the Colt M-16 and M-4).  Furthermore, recall that we’ve discussed what it means to be milspec and what it doesn’tNot milspec isn’t always worse, and milspec isn’t always better.

Still, my own son Daniel tells me that he never had any problems with either his SAW or an M-4 when he used that in training and in Fallujah, Iraq (while still claiming that my RRA rifle was better than the Colt he used).  The biggest problem with Scales’ argument isn’t that it doesn’t rely on hard evidence regarding quality battle rifles today (and it doesn’t, and some AR-15s are better designed and manufactured than the M-4 it must be admitted).  The biggest problem with his argument is that it blames the wrong culprit.

My coverage of the Battle of Wanat goes back to before the Cubbison report, from 2008 until recently.

Analysis Of The Battle Of Wanat

Investigating The Battle Of Wanat

The Contribution Of The Afghan National Army In The Battle Of Wanat

The Battle Of Wanat, Massing Of Troops And Attacks In Nuristan

Second Guessing The Battles Of Wanat And Kamdesh

And many other articles.  I am proud to have contributed in some small way to the Wanat report still on file at Fort Leavenworth (on page 255 three of my articles are cited).  Specifically, it was published by the Combat Studies Institute Press, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center.

The kill ratio was indeed lower at Wanat than has been noted at other engagements, but the fact that Soldiers had to put 400 rounds through their weapons in such a short time frame is indicative of a different problem than the gun.  First of all, with all due respect to the Soldiers who were there, fire control and long distance optics would have been a valuable commodity.  When training his “boots,” my son worked first, middle and last on rate of fire and fire control.  And use of a larger bore weapon wouldn’t have helped barrel temperature (have you ever shot a large caliber weapon?), and would certainly have hurt the ability to regain sight picture after firing due to significant recoil.

Use of DMs with M-14s or bolt action sniper rifles would have helped (the Marines make use of such tactics), as would have training in shooting uphill (to which very few units train – I know this from conversations with Army trainers).  But the biggest problems with Wanat were associated with command choices that could have been done differently.  Vehicle Patrol Base Wanat (it was a VPB rather than a FOB), took entirely too long to set up, allowing enemy massing of forces, something I’ve noted on a number of occasions in Afghanistan (it’s a favorite tactic when the Taliban think they can greatly outnumber their opponent).

Furthermore, terrain was critical in that the U.S. troops didn’t control the high country surrounding the VPB which was in a valley.  One Marine Captain commented to me as follows:

The platoon in Wanat sacrificed control of the key terrain in the area in order to locate closer to the population. This was a significant risk, and I don’t see any indication that they attempted to sufficiently mitigate that risk. I can empathize a little bit – I was the first Marine on deck at Camp Blessing back when it was still Firebase Catamount, in late 2003. I took responsibility for the camp’s security from a platoon from the 10th Mountain Div, and established a perimeter defense around it. Looking back, I don’t think I adequately controlled the key terrain around the camp. The platoon that replaced me took some steps to correct that, and I think it played a significant role when they were attacked on March 22nd of 2004. COIN theorists love to say that the population is the key terrain, but I think Wanat shows that ignoring the existing natural terrain in favor of the population is a risky proposition, especially in Afghanistan.

The force was simply too small (platoon size versus virtual battalion size Taliban force), and they were simply outgunned.  It’s remarkable that they didn’t have even more casualties.  Blaming the gun we deployed with the Soldiers is the easy thing to do.  It’s also the wrong thing to do, and it’s disingenuous.  Blaming the men who made the decision to deploy the way they did would be the hard thing to do because it gets personal.  But at least it would be honest.

See also:

Battle Of Wanat Category

War is Boring, The M-4 Carbine Is Here To Stay

Dan Morgan on Wanat

WeaponsMan Part 1 and Part 2

The Firearm Blog

The Reliability Of The Eugene Stoner Design

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago

BBC:

Things were just starting to improve when the firm was hit by Western sanctions.

With Russian military stores full of the famously durable Kalashnikovs, and dwindling orders from abroad, the company had turned its attention to civilian firearms markets.

In January it finally secured a foothold in the biggest of them, sealing a lucrative deal to supply up to 200,000 rifles a year in the US.

But in July, Kalashnikov was placed on a US list of eight arms manufacturers sanctioned for Russia’s role in fomenting the crisis in Ukraine. The deal was halted with under half the initial order delivered. It was added to an EU list in September.

“Of course I was upset, because I didn’t understand why we’d been sanctioned,” Kalashnikov director Alexei Krivoruchko told the BBC, arguing that the firm was no longer wholly state-owned since he and another Russian businessman had invested in a 49% stake.

Also, he points out, it primarily produces firearms for the civilian market.

“The US was a key market for us, one that we planned to develop,” Mr Krivoruchko says. “It’s a big loss, there’s no point saying otherwise.”

There are now some 200 models of Kalashnikov, still produced at the original factory in Izhevsk, two hours’ flight east of Moscow.

So let me explain it to you Mr. Krivoruchko.  Your government did indeed foment big trouble in the Ukraine, but that has nothing to do with the sanctions.  You see, you’re a Russian capitalist businessman, while our President, Mr. Obama, is an American communist and doesn’t want his people to have guns.  Do you understand now?

Readers have known for a long time that I am no fan of the Kalashnikov design.  I hate to hear and feel the clank … clank … clank … rattle … rattle … rattle … when I shoot an AK.  And I don’t like to miss.  But it’s much more reliable than the Eugene Stoner design, you say.  Wrong.  I know all about the presumed failures of the M4 at Wanat and Kamdesh, and I still claim (like I did at the time) that the failure there had to do with ensconcing too small a force without good force protection, control over the terrain, good air support, and a clear mission.

I have never had a single failure with my AR-15, and for those of you still unconvinced, Uncle sends us to Gun Nuts Media, who gives us this.

KAC SR-15 MOD2 Sand Dump Test AFTER 15,000 rounds without cleaning… from Ballistic Radio on Vimeo.

And thus we speak the name of Eugene Stoner with hushed reverence around these parts.  And if you own an AR-15, it’s likely that you’re much happier with your rifle than German Soldiers are with the H&K G36.  Then again, you know how I feel about H&K.

AR-15s,Guns Tags:

Opinions On Single Point Slings

BY Herschel Smith
3 months, 1 week ago

Mountain Guerrilla:

Single-points have been popular for a long time, and I’ve been a fan. I ran one for a long time. I think the biggest selling point for single-point slings, for most people, is the cool-guy CDI (chicks dig it) factor. Guys see Chris Costa, or Travis Haley, or Kyle Defoor running them, and want one. The reality is, I HATE single-point slings. Every time I drop the gun, whether to transition to my sidearm (doesn’t happen nearly as often as a lot of training courses make it seem like does), or to go hands-on with someone, the f****** rifle nails me in the nuts.

Kyle Lamb, American Rifleman, December 2014:

A general-purpose AR just isn’t complete without a sling.  If you plan to carry a rifle or stabilize it while shooting, you must have a sling.  I use a quick-adjust, two-point type, the VTAC sling.  It allows the user to carry the carbine muzzle down as well as quickly cinch the rifle tight to his chest or loosen it for shooting or transitioning.  The sling can be slightly tightened while building a shooting position to greatly increase stability.  If you choose to use a single-point or three-point sling you will lose the ability to also have the built-in shooting aid.  The single-point lets the rifle dangle, merely there in case you have to transition to your side arm.  I find that less-secure configuration may also allow it to crack you in the family jewels or on the knees, depending on the adjustment.

My son Daniel and the rest of his company threw away or modified the mandated MC-issue three point slings to make them whatever the Marine wanted (even braiding 550 cord to make their own slings), in most cases a single point sling.  At the time they were preparing for Fallujah and a lot of CQB and room clearing, and needed the ability to raise the weapon and engage the sight picture via a “reflex sight” very quickly and efficiently.  Up and down and side to side and use of hands was very important.

The NRA claims the AR-15 is not a military weapon. Nonsense!

BY Herschel Smith
4 months ago

News and views from the North:

The Second Amendment had been obsolete and inconsequential for more than a century. But in the last half a century, the Second Amendment is viewed as a sacrosanct document by the National Rifle Association leaders and gun advocates. Many regard it as their 11th Commandment.

[ … ]

The NRA leadership say it does not tolerate “infringing.” However, the federal government in the 1930s, passed the National Firearms acts with the assistance of ( hard to believe) the NRA. These laws “infringed” upon the Second Amendment and the right of the people to have submachine and military type arms. Who is to decide what are military guns — the NRA or the U.S. government? The NRA claims the AR-15 is not a military weapon. Nonsense!

We must step back, and realize that we are quite fortunate that our rights are being “infringed” upon. What kind of world would it be if we did not have laws to control our right to travel, to drive a car, to drink liquor, or smoke tobacco, or the right of freedom of speech in a crowded theater?

Gun rights also need to be “infringed.” It’s hard to find one right that isn’t. We want and need our rights to be infringed for the security and safety of ourselves and our children.

The writer is a resident of Sandy Hook who apparently wants his freedoms to be curtailed, and since he must endure this for the sake of his sense of security, he wants you to endure it too.

I agree with him.  It’s ridiculous to define the AR-15 in such a way as to conclude it’s not a military weapon, if only they would give us selective fire capabilities, huh?  But as for what defines a military weapon, he wants to know who gets to decide?  Well, I can answer that question so that we won’t sit around and squabble over trivialities.  I get to decide.  Anything that has ever been or could ever be used in the course of fighting is a military weapon.  That means bolt action guns (the Army and Marine Corps still use bolties for sniping), shotguns (the Marine Corps used shotguns for room clearing in Now Zad, Afghanistan), cross bows, long bows, clubs, knives, handguns of all sorts (and I hate that I can’t find any examples of revolvers used recently in OIF and OEF, but I do like me some good revolvers), slingshots, and fists.

As for the fact that some kids were shot at Sandy Hook, that’s really too bad.  I didn’t perpetrate the crime, and I am in no way responsible.  If you want to move to a place that’s even more controlling than the U.S., I would suggest China.  I don’t know how long that will last.

Jerry Miculek On AR-15 Grip And Stance

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 2 weeks ago

Via John Richardson, here is Jerry Miculek on AR-15 grip and stance.

I always watch and listen carefully to Jerry explain anything.  He is an extremely successful competitive shooter.  However, I have never seen him use (or advocate use of) what I’ve called the “aggressive plates forward” stance.  Jerry puts his left leg forward (almost like a modified Weaver stance).  My son Daniel taught me the aggressive plates forward stance which was and is in common use in the USMC.

Also, I see Jerry using the hand-forward C-clamp grip, although not as exaggerated as Chris Costa uses.

Costa_C_Clamp_Grip

I have also seen Travis Haley use a modified version of this grip.  It appears that this grip technique is in common use among competitive shooters, and sometimes when trying to acquire long range stationary or semi-stationary targets.  But this technique isn’t in common use among the U.S. military.

According to my son Daniel, it’s especially not in use when performing room clearing or other close quarters battle, where raising the weapon with a reflex sight (such as an EOTech) is the most important aspect of target acquisition rather being able to sweep from side to side.

I Don’t Need An Assault Rifle To Shoot A Duck!

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 4 weeks ago

Raw Story:

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D) on Wednesday defended his call for gun safety laws by joking that his Republican opponent might need a military-style assault rifle to shoot ducks, but he didn’t.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Nolan had told CBS News that an assault weapons ban was just “common sense.”

Nolan’s opponent, Stewart Mills, and the Minnesota Republican Party have pointed to the statement as evidence that the congressman wanted to limit gun rights.

“Stewart, what I said on CBS Face the Nation was that I don’t need an assault rifle to shoot a duck,” he explained at a debate for Minnesota’s 8th District on Tuesday. “And I don’t. Perhaps you do. Maybe you should spend more time at your shooting range.”

“The fact is, right now, you can only have three shells in your gun when you’re shooting ducks,” Nolan continued.

On Face The Nation, Nolan said:

… an assault weapons ban is “common sense legislation.”  “I’m a hunter. Believe in second amendment rights. But you know what? I don’t need an assault weapon to shoot a duck,” Nolan said. “And I think they ought to be banned, and I think we need to put a ban on the amount of shells you can carry in a magazine, and I think we have to strengthen our background checks.”

So I’m doubting that Mr. Nolan is really an avid hunter like he says.  In fact, given the duck hunting with assault rifles, shells in magazines and so forth, I’m concluding that Nolan doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.


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