8 Dec 07


I just completed several days of hunting wild pigs in FL. I got two! One was 125 lbs. The other 225 lbs. Both instances were broadside shots on moving targets. Range was fifty meters in both cases.

I used my new XCR in 6.8mmSPC. Ammunition was Cor-Bon DPX, 100gr. The XCR is equipped with an EOTech optic, forward mounted, and a Vickers sling from Blue Force Gear.
This particular EOTech is equipped with their “multiple range” reticle. Instead of a circle with a dot in the center, there are four dots within the circle, all in a ventricle row, representing aiming points at four different ranges. I decided that I don’t like this reticle, preferring instead the single aiming point. The row of dots generates too much clutter, and I find, when using the top dot as my aiming point, that I tend to shoot high.

The pigs we hunted are hardy and have been shot at a lot, so they’re wary and always on the move. I hit both pigs on the point of the shoulder, as is my habit, but neither dropped immediately. One ran thirty meters before dropping. The other ran fifty. Neither bullet exited. Both were found just under the skin of the opposite side. The ones we recovered were fully expanded, but several petals on one were broken off. These pigs are tough! The 6.8 surely strikes with more authority than the 223, but it is not the equivalent of a 308.

This XCR, like my copy in 223, is wonderful and ran without a hiccup. Like the FAL, the XCR’s gas system is adjustable, but Robinson Arms suggests it be left at maximum pressure for the break-in period of 300 rounds. Recoil is similar to that of a 223. This rifle is compact, fast, and manageable. It makes an ideal car-gun. Highly recommended!

Once again, I can’t say enough about Cor-Bon and their Barnes bullets! They are hard to beat!



10 Dec 07

Mall Shooting in NE:

A single shooter, with a rifle mounted on the shoulder, fired at mall shoppers, almost casually, in three-four round bursts. Ranges were short. All shooting was over within two minutes, ending when the shooter himself committed suicide.

First police units arrived within five minutes from receipt of initial 911 calls. Shooting was already over. Police never fired a shot.

Lessons: It is unrealistic to believe that police could have arrived any sooner, nor have responded any more aggressively. I can’t imagine a better reason for carrying routinely. Expecting to be rescued or saved from harm by police, or anyone else, is delusional.

In a desperate situation like this mall shooting, when left with no choice, you must be up to the task. A single, well-placed, pistol shot could have abruptly ended this affair, had an Operator been present. Unfortunately, none were.

Like nearly all other mass murders, this one took place in a “Gun-Free Zone,” or, more correctly, a “Criminal-Empowerment Zone.” “No-Guns-Allowed” signs are thus contemptuously ignored by those who love and value their lives.



11 Dec 07


Many have pointed out the stark difference between the recent mall shooting in NE and next day’s short-lived church shooting in CO. In the later case, an armed citizen (the media insists on falsely labeling her a “security guard,” because they can’t tolerate the notion of non-government-employees with guns) stepped up to the plate and did what had to be done at the critical moment. She drew her concealed pistol, courageously confronted the VCA, and shot him to death when it needed to be. Had she not, there is little doubt many more church-goers would have been murdered that day. Curiously, in the same area there were several, actual uniformed and armed security guards, who, at the pivotal moment, apparently found something else to do.

Most government officials correctly believe they were elected in order to “serve.” A contemptible few believe they were elected in order to “rule.” It is the later group who invariably wax paranoid and believe they are personally threatened when “the ruled” own and carry guns, an it is they who prefer masses of hapless, murdered victims to heroes audaciously stepping forward and doing their duty as citizens, and, not surprisingly, it is they who unfailingly insist the “the ruled” never be allowed to do anything for themselves. To them, “the ruled” ARE victims, by definition!

Some states with concealed-carry laws have declared churches “gun-free zones.” Ohio is an example. Today, in view of the CO incident, representatives in OH are being flooded with angry calls demanding that proscription be lifted! I suspect they’re getting an ear-full from many who apparently haven’t gotten the word that they are supposed to think of themselves as “good, little victims!”



11 Dec 07

Excellent analysis from a friend in France:

“We have riots again! Same bad guys (Muslim ‘youths’). Same, tired excuse (‘oppression’). However, one important thing has changed: we now have a president, Sarkozy, who is not the dithering, leftist push-over that we’re so accustomed to over here.

He has boldly implemented long-overdue, conservative reforms, and we have seen strikes and demonstrations as a result, the time-honored French way of getting presidents to back down. To everyone’s surprise, this president did NOT back down, so riots were next!

Leftists and Muslim anarchists here unite in their preference for a weak, confused, and crooked heads of state who will allow rampant corruption to continue and look the other way as radical Islamics continue to forge an independent state, within France.

Sarkozy is not giving an inch! But, only time will tell. We have our fingers crossed!”

Comment: France is typical of so much of Western Europe. Islamic imperialists look upon them (and us) as fat, confused, indecisive, and ripe for overthrow. Unfortunately, their analysis is largely correct!

“We have met the enemy, and they are right!”



12 Dec 07

On gun safes, from a friend in WI:

“A month ago, I bought a new Liberty gun safe. Since this safe has a higher fire rating than any of my others, I put all my tactical rifles in it, along with many of my carry pistols. Fortunately, I didn’t put all my carry guns in it.

I say, ‘fortunately,’ because, when I tried to get into my new safe yesterday, it refused to open. The electronic key pad fried itself! Next week, Liberty Safe is sending a technician out to fix it, but it will be several days that I don’t have access to my primary guns!

Lessons learned:

I’ll never buy another electronic lock. The technician will replace the fried one with a conventional, dial lock.

As soon as I get back into my new safe, I’m spreading my tactical guns out over all my safes. I’ll never put all my important guns in one safe again!”

Comment: When we make our guns “inaccessible” to unauthorized hands, we make them inaccessible to ourselves too! Gun safes are surely secure, but they are not designed for quick access, and, when they refuse to function normally, professional assistance will be required to regain access. In the interim, you’ll have to do without whatever you have locked up!



13 Dec 07

Gun Safes in the UK, from a friend there:

“When I visited the USA to attend my first Farnam Course, I was astonished at the sight of gun safes the size of refrigerators, filled to the brim all manner of privately-owned firearms. I vowed then and there that I had two ambitions left in life; (1) to own such a safe. and (2) to fill it!

Unfortunately, in the UK our police (who are there to ‘regulate,’ not to ‘serve’) are hyper-anal about us peons religiously locking our firearms away, even insisting that bolts and ammunition be locked away separately. Oops! I keep forgetting that one.

Our government insists the only ‘good reason’ for having a gun out of a safe is to clean it!

My solution is to have a number of small, innocuous metal cabinets bolted to walls. They are out of sight in closets and cupboards, with keys hidden in various places. Having these ‘safes’ in different parts of the house has the advantage of permitting me access to my guns no matter where in the house I find myself. I never know where I will be when the sudden urge to clean a gun grabs me, eh?”

Comment: Where you stand depends on where you sit! Risks invariably attach to any course of action, even to “doing nothing.” Each of us must select a strategy for securing our guns, knowing that, whatever option we choose, it won’t be perfect. Guns that are “perfectly safe” are simultaneously “perfectly useless!”



13 Dec 07

DTI Instructors:

There is a training opportunity in Iraq, via a US company. They are looking for proficient small-arms trainers to train Iraqi police and military personnel, under US contract, in Iraq, between 8 Jan 08 and 30 April 08. The job pays $500.00/day, plus expenses, plus transport to and from.

Those interested contact Rich Pere at perereick1@yahoo.com. Competent instructors only need apply.

I have no financial interest in this project. Just passing on the information as a courtesy.



13 Dec 07

Actual use of a Safe Direction Ballistic Pad! This from a student:

“I shot a big, fat hole in my Safe Direction Pad yesterday morning! Here’s how it happened:

I’m reading a compelling, political book that is dizzying in its implications. As a result, after I put the book down, the implications contained therein continued to swirl around in my head, demanding my attention. Unfortunately, they received the attention I should have directed elsewhere!

Next to my bed, I have a lock-box, in which I keep a 1911 pistol and a spare magazine. In the morning, I routinely unload the pistol, put it in the box, and lock it up.

I picked up the pistol as usual, but then paused, thinking about my book. When I ‘came to,’ I was holding the pistol and looking at the spare magazine, sitting next to my Safe Direction Pad, which was sitting on my bed. I said to myself, ‘I’ve removed the magazine. Now I’ll clear the chamber.’

I then pointed the gun at the Safe Direction Pad (thank heaven, out of habit!), pulled the slide to the rear and let it go. The chambered round ejected as expected. Still musing about my reading, I then directed the muzzle at the center of the Pad and pressed the trigger. When the pistol discharged, I was instantly, and fully, brought back to ‘present-tense!’

I looked at the smoking gun, momentarily puzzled as to how this ND could have happened. There was obviously only ONE way: The magazine was still in the gun. For a moment, I was sure I remembered removing it, but then I realized I only remembered seeing it next to the Pad. The one I saw was the spare magazine, not the one that had been in the pistol. In addition, I failed to ‘lock-and-inspect’ before ‘dry’ firing. The pieces reluctantly fell into place!

I was alone, standing in my bedroom, with a smoking gun, blushing in embarrassment, feeling really stupid, but also really lucky! Thank God I had a Safe Direction Pad and was in the habit of using it!

The report was muted. No damage. Police did not get involved, The Pad worked as advertised! The errant bullet is still in it. Nothing damaged but my pride.

I learned an important lesson yesterday morning, and the only price I have to pay is replacing my Safe Direction Pad!

It can happen to anyone! When handling guns, you have to pay complete attention to what you’re doing and strictly adhere to procedure, never leaving out nor transposing steps.

Ask me how I know this!”

Lessons: Like most automobile accidents, nearly all NDs result from the confluence of three factors: (1) Exhaustion, (2) Distraction, and (3) Poor Procedure. You may not be able to do much about exhaustion. You may be tired and still have to handle guns. But, you can limit distractions. When handling guns, (1) Stop all conversation, (2) Turn off the TV/radio, (3) Don’t answer the phone, and (4) Clear your mind of clutter and pay attention to what you’re doing.

Whether loading, unloading, performing a chamber/system check, or cleaning, perform the drill from start to finish, without interruption. When you are interrupted, go back and start the entire process over, from the beginning. Don’t try to “pick it up where you left off !”

In addition, your procedure must be competent and must be followed to the letter, every time. Steps are sequence-critical, and, when steps are left out or transposed, disaster awaits!

Watch where your muzzle is pointed! When handling guns, don’t allow the muzzle to flop all over the place. Keep its direction tightly controlled and continuously pointed in a safe direction.

By “safe direction,” I mean “relatively safe.” No direction is completely safe. You often hear this concept expressed, “Don’t point your muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy.” Clever, but poorly phrased. When I point my pistol at the air conditioner in my motel room while performing a chamber-check, I’m not willing to destroy the air conditioner, but it is still a relatively “safe” direction and, under the circumstances, safer than any other available direction.

All gun owners and carriers should have Safe Direction Pad and, like my student above, use it routinely. With it, you can manufacture a “safe direction” anywhere you find yourself. Again, it is not absolutely safe, but it is always safer than any other direction available.



18 Dec 07

Latest version of the “Liberator”, from Firstlight:

Firstlight’s latest version now has a strobe feature, similar to the one featured on Blackhawk’s Galdius flashlight. The switch is a continuous pressure-bar. One end is “constant-on.” The other is “strobe,” so one’s thumb can select either option, without the necessity of involving both hands.

K-9 units have been buying the Liberator with great enthusiasm, because they so often have one hand occupied. They can hold a dog-leash, and a flashlight, in the same hand, and still be able to operate the flashlight without involving the other hand. This new version will be even more useful.

It is a clever product, and one that deserves the attention of the LE Community.



18 Dec 07

Sabre, revisited:

At the 2007 SHOT Show in Orlando, FL, I had a chance to visit Sabre Defense’s booth, In fact, my friend and colleague, Mas Ayoob, was so enthusiastic about their version of the AR-15, that he insisted I talk with the Sabre folks and handle their rifle, made entirely in Nashville, TN.

When Mas talks, I listen! So, I talked with their head guy, Dave Power, and got a chance to handle their XR15 (Pro) Model. It was surely an acceptable M4, but so many people are making AR-15s these days, I probably didn’t pay as close attention as I should have.

In any event, I have my own copy now, and, after using it for a while, I’ve now added Sabre to my list of recommended 223 rifle manufacturers, which include Robinson Arms, DSA, Rock
River Arms, DPMS, and S&W. Sabre is right up there with the best, and their customer service is excellent.

A feature one notices right away about the XR15 is its lightness! It is the lightest of the lot. Hard to beat as a car-gun.

In the ultimate analysis, the Stoner System is inherently inferior to a gas-piston rifle. However, every real American should own at least one AR-15, because that is our current military rifle, and all of us will probably have to use one to defend ourselves sometime during our lifetimes. It just makes sense to own a copy!



19 Dec 07

Universal Wire Loop:

Blue Force Gear is now making an ingenious “Universal Wire Loop” that allows one to quickly and effortlessly mount a sling attachment point to the front sight-tower of an AR-15, allowing the rifle to be slung right-side-up (which is my preference).

Heretofore, we’ve wrapped slings through the front sight-tower, but, when the rifle gets hot, the sling melts/burns where it contacts metal. The Universal Wire Loop is made of cable, and accomplishes the same thing while eliminating the melting issue.

Attaching the sling to the top part of the butt has always been relatively easy, but the front attachment point has been a thorny issue, until now!

The Universal Wire Loop is available for $20.00 from Blue Force Gear. It elegantly solves a perennial problem and requires no gunsmithing. Highly Recommended! Call them at 877 430



20 Dec 07

Sage advice from a seasoned veteran in SA:

“At the range earlier this week, I relearned an old lesson.

A colleague challenged me to a duel. Ten rifle rounds at twenty meters on an piece of copy paper. Fastest wins, provided he gets more hits than his opponent. It’s a common diversion over here!

We both shot LM4’s, the civilianized version of our Army’s R4 (223), which is SA’s version of the Israeli Galil, which is Israel’s version of the Soviet Kalashnikov! The friend who challenged me is an accomplished shooter, and his speciality is his stunning rate of fire. I have seen few people who can fire as fast as he can.

Well, I strolled up to the line and formulated a battle-plan: move, mount, sight, fire, catch the link, recover. Simple enough! When the buzzer sounded, I got myself mounted, sights fell in place, and I fired my first shot just about when my challenger’s third was going off. I knew my hits were good, so I quickened my pace, catching the link as my sights settled back on target the instant the link snapped in. I fired my last round a second after his last had gone off.

My challenger beat me on the time portion of the contest, but he had only four hits, to my ten. I

Lessons re-learned. Know how fast you can shoot and routinely operate just back from the edge of your envelope. Don’t shoot faster than you can hit!”

Comment: It can’t be said too often: Slow down and hit! Practice your entire routine, so that, as with a ballerina, there are no wasted parts, no wasted motions.

No one will ever be impressed by the speed of your missed shots, just as they’re not impressed with the stylish paint job on the airplane that never reaches its destination!



20 Dec 07

Rohrbaugh R9 Pistol:

The Rohrbaugh R9 is the smallest 9mm autoloading pistol ever made, to the best of my knowledge. It is a seven-shooter. In profile, it is no bigger than my Kel-Tec 380, albeit a little thicker. Kahr and some others also make excellent backup 9mm pistols, and I have several, but the R9 holds the small-size record.

We’ve had several R9s in class, and I have to say they’ve all run fine. The pistol is self-decocking (DAO), has no manual slide-lock lever, and no manual safety. It has coarse, low-profile front and rear sights. The slide does not lock to the rear when the last round is fired, and the magazine release is in the butt, European style. And, I suspect the pistol’s useful life is well under ten-thousand rounds.

So, the R9 is slick, thin, and small, and, in Comp-Tac’s “Left-Hand Surprise” holster, it makes a formidable back-up. Henk Iverson, at Strike Tactical, makes a similar left-hand, backup holster for the Kel-Tec 380.

The manual advises owners of the R9 not to shoot +P ammunition through it. When I brought this issue up to Mr Rohrbaugh himself at the SHOT Show, he indicated that the use of +P ammunition would not break the pistol but would shorten its life. However, I don’t think anyone (certainly not me!) is going to shoot this little pistol enough for any of that to matter!

At $1,100.00 and change, the R9 is pricey, and it is assuredly NOT fun to shoot. A dozen rounds at a sitting is plenty for me! However, as a backup, it is hard to beat. I’m carrying my copy now, with Cor-Bon PowerBall ammunition (which is +P), in the LHS holster mentioned above. And, I’m practicing shooting it with my left hand, unsupported, as that represents the scenario that is most likely.

With so many currently trying to get concealed pistols into their lives, the little R9 has come along at the right time!



20 Dec 07

Alternative AR-15 front sling attachment, from a friend in-Country:

“A technique in common use here that addresses the sling-melting issue you described recently:

We use a discarded hand-grenade pin, actually the ring that attaches to the pin! Simply attach the ring to the sight base (just like putting a key onto a key-ring) and then affix the sling to the ring, using it as the front attachment point. The ring will hold the sling far enough away from the gas tube so that melting/burning will be prevented.”

Comment: Soldiers in the field, who don’t have ready access to Blue Force Gear, may find this technique beneficial. Like so many expedient solutions, it is neither panoptic nor pretty, but it will suffice in the short term. And, when fighting for your life, what other “term” is there?



23 Dec 07


American Eagle (Federal Cartridge) is now making 223 XM856, tracers. Jensen’s in Loveland, CO has a good supply. Bullets have a red tip, and they work the same as the ones I remember!

Tracers are useful mostly with machine guns as they provide a visual indication of exactly where the stream of bullets is going. However, they are also useful during the rifle zeroing process, and they are very useful as a training tool, as they show students, in real time, what a bullet’s trajectory actually looks like.

During protracted fighting, it is a common technique to make tracers the last five rounds in each magazine. They then become a visual indicator that reloading is imminently necessary. However, from the perspective of the shooter himself, they are hard to see, particularly in bright sunlight. And, when the discharge is viewed from the side, it becomes a conspicuous indicator of exactly where the shooter is.

Tracers are designed, among other things, to start fires, and they function only too well in that regard! So, one must be careful when using them on grassy, outdoor ranges, and they should not be fired into rubber bullet traps!

For the longest time, tracers were available only from military sources. Not any more!



24 Dec 07

Developments in the Industry:

Randy Luth, who owned DPMS (Defensive Procurement Manufacturing Services), has sold his rifle-manufacturing business in MN to the company that already owns Remington and Bushmaster, and which, in turn, is owned by Cerberus, who also owns Chrysler Automotive. No word on whether rifles under both brand-names will continue to be produced.

Bushmaster and DPMS currently sell 95% of their production to domestic law-enforcement and general commerce. The vast majority of that goes to non-LE, individual buyers. Military sales currently account for only five percent.

It concerns me when domestic gun producers are absorbed by large, multi-national corporations. Their invariable devotion to “political correctness” and leftist causes, combined with a lack of concern for (or even awareness of) our Art and for the preservation of our Second Amendment, makes one wonder how enthusiastic for, and innovative with, the gun business they will remain!

That leaves only Robinson Arms, Sabre, DSA, Rock River Arms, Fulton Armory, SA, and a few others as major, independent, American-owned makers of military rifles. Let us hope they all remain fiercely independent and wildly successful!



26 Dec 07

Magazine problem with Microtec’s AUG:

I talked with the formally-proud owner of Microtec’s new version of the AUG today. We were at the retailer where he bought it. It runs fine, but the familiar waffle-pattern AUG magazines don’t fit into it! Two, ten-round magazines were supplied with the rifle, and they look, for all the world, like the AUG magazines we’re all used to. But, they’re not the same, and this unhappy ex-customer of Microtec’s decided to the take the whole package back to where he bought it.

The AUG is a handy rifle, but, when magazines aren’t interchangeable, it’s an obvious deal-buster!

It’s hard to understand how gun-makers can commit such a faux-pas. There are many people, with AUGs, who would be delighted to have another copy of the rifle, but not when they can’t share magazines.



26 Dec 07

More developments in the Industry:

Cerebus, the company that owns DPMS, Bushmaster, and Remington is absorbing Marlin as well!



26 Dec 07

Guns, Government Procurement, and World History:

It had been a hundred years since Western Eurasia had been involved in an all-inclusive conflagration, and, by August of 1914, the War, for which Europe had been so enthusiastically mobilizing, to no one’s surprise, abruptly burst forth. The Great War was probably inevitable, and ever-hesitant US President Woodrow Wilson, a dedicated pacifist, was committed to the patently impossible task of keeping America neutral. His incessant dithering squandered valuable time. Indeed, after running under the banner, “He kept us out of War!” Wilson himself was forced to ask Congress for a Declaration of War against Germany on 2 Apr 1917, shortly after his narrow reelection.

In 1898, Under Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, John J Pershing command a troop of black cavalry in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, from which he got his permanent nickname, “BlackJack.” In 1905, then President Roosevelt promoted then Captain John J Pershing to the rank of Brigadier General, skipping three ranks and bypassing hundreds of other officers! Pershing’s personal friendship with Roosevelt, and his marriage to the daughter of a powerful US Senator, probably helped, but the rash move understandably angered many. President Franklin D Roosevelt would do something similar with Lt/Col Dwight D Eisenhower a generation later. It was at a naive Pershing’s insistence that American soldiers be issued French machine guns and automatic rifles. It would prove a disastrous blunder!

American inventive genius, Hiram Maxim, demonstrated his fully-automatic “machine-gun” as early as 1884. No cranking (which was necessary to get the Gatling Gun to function)! All one had to do was hold down the trigger. However, Maxim was unable to interest the US Army in his invention and immediately got embroiled in patent disputes which consumed the rest of his life. In the interim, a friend in Vienna told him, “You want to be rich, Hiram? Just show these Europeans how to murder each other more efficiently than they do already, and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams!” The rest is history! Maxim migrated to Europe. The British Vickers, and the dreaded German Maschinengewehr were both based on Maxim’s patents, and both ran fine! Maxim himself, never rich, died in London in 1916.

Yet another American design genius, Issac Newton Lewis, fared no better than Maxim! The “Lewis Gun,” invented in 1911, was the original light machine-gun. Rugged, potent, and enduringly reliable, American troops loved it. Everyone loved it! However, Lewis himself was brilliant, but like Maxim, had a abrasive personality, and did not suffer fools! Not surprisingly, he developed an immediate personality conflict with the gallery of shallow, self-serving political hacks at the War Department. Like Maxim, in disgust and frustration, he took his gun to Europe, where it was enthusiastically received by the British and Australians. Wasting no time, they mounted the Lewis Gun on bi-planes, converting aircraft from merely observation platforms to weapons of war!

John M Browning, probably the best-know gun designer of his generation, did no better at the War Department than had Lewis and Maxim! The Army adopted his pistol (M1911), but his wonderful Browning Automatic Rifle did not reach American soldiers until the fall of 1918, just three months before the end of the War. The BAR was considered by Pershing to be so advanced, general issue was actually held back for fear Germans might copy it!

So, American Troopers, hastily sent to France in 1917, were equipped with, not superior American-designed machine guns and automatic rifles, but with the vastly inferior, French Benet-Mercie and CSRG (Chauchat) automatic rifles. Both French guns looked great in the showroom and were popular among parade-ground soldiers, because they were light and easy to carry. But, both incessantly demonstrated themselves to be worthless in actual use, with endless stoppages, failures to extract, and reloading procedures that were slow and tedious. In the field, both the Chauchat and the Benet-Mercie were thus quickly and contemptuously discarded by American troops, who considered them useless junk. A vile curse or two, ending with “Pershing” and “Wilson” were commonly heard among American soldiers in those days!

It should have been a hint that, in mid-1916, when Mexican warlord/thug, Pancho Villa, invaded Columbus, NM from Mexico, shooting up the town, murdering soldiers and civilians alike, hardly a shot was launched by Americans in response. Townspeople expected the Army to protect them, and the Army could not get their Benet-Mercie guns running. As a result, Villa’s raid was nearly unopposed.

The problem was, and still is, large companies, with the aid of politicians, heavily “influencing” naive generals and the sprawling, self-promoting, procurement bureaucracy. Clever marketing departments write specifications to their favor (ie: low production costs). They then claim their product to be “superior,” because it always meets these dubious “specifications.” Input from the field is, of course, routinely ignored. Once momentum gets traction, bad news is not tolerated! This “large-company/cheap-price” model is a perfect match for intentionally ignorant purchasing practices of government agencies, particularly in time of war. Companies help themselves to the Federal Treasury, while end-users (ie: our troops!) are cheated.

Recently, then Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said, “You fight wars with the Army you have, not the Army you wish you had.” The obvious retort is, “Well, why don’t we have the Army we wish we had?” The answer is always (1) too many generals who act like politicians, (2) too many politicians who think they are tactical geniuses, and (3) too many career bureaucrats who are only too happy to cater to both.

Not enough heroes!



30 Dec 07

These sage comments from a friend who has been in the military rifle design/manufacture business for decades:

“The Pentagon’s stubborn unwillingness to abandon the M-16 magazine, and their consequent non-negotiable specification that any new rifle (and caliber) must utilize it, has effectively paralyzed new rifle and new rifle-caliber development. All military rifle designers will be required to work with and around this troublesome magazine for the foreseeable future, if they plan on selling rifles in the USA!

Back in the 1950s, when Eugene Stoner was designing what would become the M-16 Rifle, the Pentagon had only one real imperative: it had to be LIGHT! (Curiously, when Kalashnikov was designing what would ultimately become the AK-47 a decade earlier, he heard only one imperative from the Kremlin: it had to be CHEAP!)

Thus, the biggest problem with the M16 magazine was, and still is, that it was originally designed to be extremely light, and, as a consequence, insubstantial and essentially expendable. In fact, at one point in the development process, M-16 magazines were designed for use one-time only, automatically disintegrating and being jettisoned from the magazine well in pieces as the last round was fired!

Accordingly, walls of the M-16 magazine body are grievously thin, and the magazine itself depends for rigidity on its natural curve and heavy stiffening grooves, and, for support and protection, on the surrounding magazine well in the lower receiver. And, because it thus fits closely within the magazine well, there is no room for subsequent weapons designers to make magazine walls thicker without reducing critical internal dimensions. Nor is there any way to make the magazine itself wider or capable of accommodating longer cartridges.

Right now, the 6.8mmSPC represents one of the few successful attempts to stay with the M-16 magazine (all the is required is a different follower) and yet realize a significant ballistic improvement over the chronically inadequate 5.56X45 (223). It is not perfect, but, short of going back to the 308, it is currently our best chance at (finally!) moving on from the 223, and on from the Stoner gas-impingement System.

All the foregoing is predicated, of course, on the assumption that practical experience will continue to confirm the 6.8mm’s, thus far, impressive performance.”

Comment: It seems we’ve painted ourselves into a corner! If Americans are to maintain our prominence in design and manufacture of military small arms; if we are to have the capability to equip our troops with truly useable and effective small arms, we have to break this log jam. We need to move on. As it is, we’re just running in place!



31 Dec 07

Good lessons relearned. From a friend and Instructor:

“I participated in a ‘tactical’ rifle match down South Saturday. Yes, they’re a bunch of cold-range gun-apologists, but it still gives me the opportunity to shoot under pressure on a course I didn’t design and with which I am unfamiliar.

I used my Robinson Arms XCR (223) with a forward-mounted EOTech, flip-up iron sights by Yankee Hill, and a Vickers, two-point sling. It’s set up exactly like yours, per your recommendation. Rifle, optic, and sling ran perfectly, and I discovered that I can easily and quickly achieve good hits on human targets from contact to two-hundred meters with this set up while avoiding the clutches of tunnel vision.

But, there were challenges:

At the first stage, I had a sun-glare problem, as the rising sun was just a few degrees directly over my target. I could not find the red dot in my EOTech. I dithered around trying to adjust the brightness of the reticle. No joy! After a few seconds, I just used the red doughnut as a giant ‘ghost ring.’ I managed to make marginal hits on the 25-meter silhouette with this method. Afterwards, during a ‘V-8 Experience,’ I realized I could have just flipped-up my iron sights and engaged the target precisely. I’d heard about this ‘sun-glare phenomenon,’ but I have to admit, the whole episode made me feel like a dunce! I ran the rest of the stages with the EOTech but with the front iron-sight post up (rear iron sight down), and that is, from now on, the default condition for my rifle. I had no other difficulties with my EOTech.

At another stage, I was making a magazine change while running, and I neglected to seat the magazine fully. Sure enough, seconds later as my target came into view, I experienced the classic bang-‘click’ syndrome, as I unhappily discovered I had a chamber-full of thin air! When I hastily attempted to strike the bottom of the magazine, I, of course, discovered the magazine was not there, but was rather on the deck ten meters behind me. It had jettisoned itself without my notice. When administratively loading the rifle, I always briskly insert the magazine, push up until it seats and locks, and then pull down on it in order to assure that it is properly locked in place. Why don’t I adhere to the same procedure when tactically reloading? Another embarrassing lesson learned!

The exercise allowed me to confirm that my current setup works, and works well. What I need to practice was blatantly brought to my attention, and my attention it shall get. I found what I need to improve and what I need to practice in order to maintain. I’ll go back in the spring and reevaluate my practice regimen. Maybe I’ll do the whole thing with iron sights!”

Comment: Serious rifles need to be run and run hard! That is the only way we can enjoy at least some confidence that they are going to serve us well at the critical time. Faults, when discovered, should be cause for rejoicing! When important lessons are firmly learned, and the only price we have to pay is a little personal embarrassment, it is a grand day indeed!

“I am a free man, regardless of what set of “rules” surround me. When I find them tolerable, I tolerate them. When I find them obnoxious, I ignore them.

I remain free, because I know and understand that I alone bear full responsibility for everything I do, or choose not to do.”

R Heinlein