I don’t know how many times I’ve been in gun shops or sporting good stores where I picked up a new or used rifle and noticed the reticles were not level. I can see how if you are working at Dick’s sporting goods and a sales clerk is told to put a scope a rifle he might just throw it on, but every year I am on a firing range during October-November, I see a large group of hunters show up shooting paper plates with groups that I would consider terrible and they go home thinking it’s good enough. Well it might be for a 100yd shot, but it’s an almost definite miss at 200yds and if you know your rifle optic is level, it’s all science and knowledge of ballistics that will make it a hit at 200yds. If you have a range finder and mark of territory when getting into a hunting position, just about any 30 caliber hunting rifle from 30/30 level action to a pump 30/06 can be effective well beyond 100yds.
I’ve done a lot of target shooting just using hold overs and in the real world this is probable a very effective way to learn to hunt and shoot instead of having to dial in MOA clicks which can cause you to lose out in an opportunity. Having a good cheek weld have proper height scope rings can also have an impact on being able to quickly acquire a target. I’ve never been a fan of large see through scope rings because in my humble opinion it can through off the balance of the rifle. I mostly see that on lever actions but if it works for you, that’s your decision. If you don’t have a level then just find an open area of your home, lay your rifle down on pillows and find a table or flat surface that you can align your horizontal crosshairs on your rifle scopes to. This is how I’ve done most of my leveling and I’ve done well at 600yds without windage issues when I had to make scope turret adjustments.
This year was a very successful year for us in the Delaware County area in launching our tactical store and we double the size of our business in the first 6 months. People are still finding out about us via word of mouth whenever they need a new holster, police boots or even just Ambulance companies hiring and people needing to get a pair of pants. Much of the product line we stock in our store is for people to checkout instead of buying it online. Duty gear like handcuff keys and various police belts are things that people in the Law Enforcement industry lose or wear out over time and are always in need of. Police vests, tactical pants, uniform pants, belts, hydration unites, SWAT team bags are things that are always wearing out and need to be replaced.
We’ve learned there are so many types of handcuffs, swivel and hinged doesn’t always narrow it down, some are different weights and types of metal. The items we have brought in this year are the Safariland lightweight handcuffs and in our region there are no Philadelphia Police Supplies shops around here and many of our Law Enforcement Officers are very happy to see a business like this open up. Tactical vests, body armor are all things people need to be sized up on and this is something that has to be done right so that there are fewer returns. We stock a large number of Blackhawk serpa holsters, safariland products, pepper spray, mace, tasers, batons, police badge holders and more and more duty gear.
Rifle scopes and gun optics have gotten easier to use in some regards, but the diversity of the reticles from various manufacturers is something that is starting to give me a headache. Things were much simpler when it was about a thin crosshair a duplex, European reticle with a pole, illuminated reticle, dot or Eotech gun sight. Its far more complicated now, but somebody finally realized that not all rifles are designed for the same thing. When ACOGS started getting a lot of notice and showing up on a firing range I was in awe, but then I realized that the eye relief on them was a limiting factor in close range fighting and you really might want to keep those iron sights on the gun just incase.
I really don’t like deviating from thin crosshairs on a rifle scope because I’ve already seen one too many time that many reticles can obscure your target and what is the point of not being able to see an enemies head pop out behind a tree at 200yds because your red dot is blocking the entire target. If you get a CQB optic you may be limiting your rifle scopes ability to see further out and now you’ve got a problem with medium to longer range targets. The TA01NSN will always be my favorite Trijicon ACOG just because you can quickly transition from glass to iron sights with very little movement. Mechanical devices like the Eotech magnifier are nice but that is one more thing that can break or come loose on your gun when a simpler approach might be a better option.
I have on numerous occasions watched people try and turn their AR15 rifles into sniper rifles and long range shooting rifles. The AR15 has become so modified that it’s really hard to say what it’s limitations are because their are many things that it can do if modified. I remember when the M1A ruled competitions, but now it’s really hard to find them anymore. There have been many long range shooting modifications that have made the AR15 a 1000yd rifle. One thing the AR15 is really known for doing well is being accurate. I jumped on that bandwagon a few years ago and enjoy the ones that I have. One thing that the AR15 in .223 is also known for is lack of penetration on hard targets. With the invasion of Iraq, there have been numerous stories of guys not being able to shoot through concrete walls to get a BG that was just about a foot on the other side. The AR15 with M855 or SS109 can penetrate steel at reasonable ranges, but when it comes to taking 300yd shots at hard walls, it is out of gas.
Considering what the M855 round can do as far as penetration, it’s no weakling when it comes to punching through targets, but that energy gets to be useless on anything other than flak jacket type armor. The M1A or the .308 for that matter is an over kill at close ranges under 200yds and it’s going to do much more than what an AR15 or M16 can do, but when you get out to 300yds + good rifles scopes, accurate rifles and a .308 are going to hit targets harder, punch through targets harder and save the guys carrying the M4 rifles a lot of ammo and get the job done. Mounting optics and finding really good and fast bullet compensator on the glass shouldn’t slow you down and will help you get fast target acquisition at medium ranges.
Ok, that was a dumb thing to say, but I still chuckle at one of my buddies comments whenever we’re on the long range. Reaching out and touching someone at 600yds is precisely what a sniper does. I have learned to notice that clarity of rifle optics but one thing that is becoming more and more of an experience is looking through all of the optics out there and their reticles. A long time ago, people were more concerned with the durability of the optic and making sure it wasn’t going to fog up on them when they took the scope caps off in the early morning when they went out chasing whitetails. Now some of your least expensive rifle optics don’t fog up.
I have a few Zeiss Conquest scopes that I’m quiet happy with, but I think I could go with less magnification on some of them. When you are trying to hit a 6ft target at 600yds, it’s really not that hard to see it. When people try and see an X on a 2ft piece of paper in their rifle scopes, that’s a whole other thing and in my opinion something not worth pursuing. I have walked off shooting ranges in the summer time because the mirage given off from the heat was so bad that it was completely impossible for me to even see a target at 100yds and testing my hand loaded ammunition would have been a waste.
I did a demonstration with one of my friends how using night vision and IR was really easy to pick up from a counter sniper situation if you were projecting it from the same location. For instance, if you have night owl night vision which is pretty good for the money, the IR is located right above the objective lense. If you had something like that mounted on a rifle scope and someone who had the same nightvision, but didn’t turn there IR on, they could find you as easily as you would have if you turned on a flashlight in the night. The best way to aid a sniper in combat is to project IR from above and not directly from a rifle. The point of this is just because you can do something with an accessory on a firearm doesn’t mean it’s really going to give you the edge. You have to know how to deploy it.
I never thought just slapping a laser on my AR15 would be fun, I always thought it was kind of pointless because a laser is virtually a perfect beam of light, but a bullets trajectory changes very fast and the laser is about as good as a red dot or rifle scopes in all practicality. Flashlights are a good thing to have around or on your firearm in your home, but if you are going to use it offensively and not defensively, you have to deploy tactics that hide movement and don’t give your direction of movement away. If you are in your house and hiding in your bedroom ect. In 99% of situations, yelling down the stairs that you have a gun and you are going to blow their head off if they come up will stop a threat being able to identify something in a corner like a burglar in hiding is what your flashlight it for.
After I see the enormous amount of stuff that people are mounting on AR15s, I enjoy watching the shit to skill ratio that many M4 owners deploy. I don’t want to come off as an elitist, but I still hold a grudge against many in the AR15 crowd from all of the years I didn’t own one and listed to all of the prima donna’s boasting in the late 1990’s. It seems that some think the the .223 or 556 round is more leathal if it is fired out of an AR15 than it is in any other similarly chamber rifle. I’ve seen so many times at gun ranges where a guy shows up with atleast $3000 on his M4 and is spending his entire day shooting at 25yds-50yds. I have no problem training in those ranges, but that is fighting territory which the M4 does a good job in.
While this may sound like I’m being overzealous, I have also kept tabs on the number of guys that refuse to shoot those same guns at the 600yd ranges that are right next to them. I like to ask them if they have shot over there, and the answer is the same, nah, I don’t need to. Well, what’s the point in having a 600 meter reticle on rifle scopes like the ACOG and never knowing how to hit targets at those ranges? It’s not all about point and click, you will miss targets with enough wind, and engaging threats and distances means more travel time for the bullet and just because you see it in the crosshairs at 600 meters, doesn’t mean your bullet is going to hit it 2 seconds later. I read about a gun fight that took place in the early days of the Afghanistan invasion where a couple guys in a downed helicopter couldn’t take out a bunker at 600yds and almost ran out of ammunition. The enemy kept ducking under cover and kept shooting and ducking back in. A good 7.62 that penetrated cover or had more range could have meant the difference.
I have some funny experiences to share when it comes to choosing guns and calibers for long range shooting. I use to be a member of a gun club that went out to 600yds, but it has long been closed down. When I was working on zeroing a DSA STG58 rifle at a 500yd target, I wasn’t getting any better than 10 inch groups at 500yds, but that wasn’t too bad considering I was shooting military ammo. That is just roughly 2 MOA at that range and for a gun that was a standar barrel and not match grade, I was pretty happy with it. I have had some issues with the DSA FAL mount I have, but since I have loctited the mount, it hasn’t come loose on me.
While I was shooting there, an old guy showed up with a 45/70 and a 12 inch box that he was going to shoot. He fired at 200yds to check his iron sight zero and it was dead on, he moved the box out to 500yds and asked me to spot his bullets for him. He took one shot and hit just in front of the box and then made an adjustment. I had one of several Leupold 3-9×40 tactical rifle scopes A few seconds later he fired a second round and nailed the box. He said I could shot at the box if I wanted to so I did. My gun could hit it, but I had about a 50% hit rate when shooting off of the bench while this 70yr old guy hit the box every time with iron sights. I’d like to know where that guy is these days because it made me realize that just because you have a modern firearm, doesn’t mean you are going to be a better shot them some old guy with his 45/70.
There are a great many things that I have learned over the years about what is a combat worthy firearm and what is a hobby type of firearm. I have seen such huge variations in AR 15 rifles that I really can’t say that some manufacturers of direct impingement firearms are less reliable that gas piston guns. There are some variations in the older design that have machine their parts so well that they really do run on less lubrication and have run in some tests off thousands and thousands of rounds with out failure. I will say that gas piston guns will run cleaner, but are they more reliable than a high end AR15? I don’t think most of us will really ever know the answer to that because there are always variables in how a firearm is maintained and in what climate and conditions it is subjected to.
If I had to issue handguns and rifles to relatives, I’d probable go with a gun that is easy to clean and easy to shoot, if I want a gun for myself, I’ll take the guns that work the best for me. I know I put more effort into making sure every rifle I own has the right parts staked and loctited down. I have broken a few Tasco and Simmons optics, but I have never had Leupold rifle scopes, Zeiss or Trijicon optic fail on me. There are faulty mounts and scope rings out there, but even the less expensive ones will work if you use Loctite on them and don’t over torque them. Over torque screws on firearms can mean broken screws and I have learned that the hard way with a DSArms SA58. The FAL is not a very good gun for using optics, but it can work if you lock everything into place. Cleaning the guns with this scope mounts is difficult, but the FAL can be made into a good DMR gun.
I would have to say that the vast majority of those that have anything more than a flashlight and optic on the M4 are probable putting something on our guns that we really don’t need, but just enjoy having on. There’s nothing wrong with having an LWRCI upper with a quad rail or a MidWest quad rail if you think you can put it to use, but when we actually have to carry the Carbine for any real length of time, we’ll wish we could strip a few extra pounds of weight off the gun. Many of our Staff have been attending competition shoots lately that have been really well run. These events are everything from battle scenarios or even Zombie shoots.
Last year in Pennsylvania we attended a Carbine shoot where the the attendees has to sign in at 8am and once they left the club house, they couldn’t drop off any gear and had to lug it all with them for the day. All of the competitors were carrying M4 or AR15 variants and a few had AK rifles. Ammunition loads were approximately 400rds of rifle and 100rds of handgun ammo. I enjoy these events because we get too see some real hard use of tactical gear and tactical accessories. We tend to not see things fail at these shoots because the competitors are in the higher class as far as skill and the types of firearms they use. If you ever want to see what kind of optics work and which firearms and when things jam, go to a competition shoot at your gun club and sit back and watch.