Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I just finished up teaching my first carbine class in New York. The course was organized by Grey Group Training and was held at the Brookhaven Shooting Range in Long Island. I travelled light for this course leaving both my pistol and carbine behind. I arrived at my hotel in vicinity of the range and grabbed some shut eye after a dismal drive from New Jersey across the the Washington Bridge.
I was greeted at the range on Monday morning by my friend Dave V. who handed me a gun bag that contained the carbine that I was going to use throughout the course. I opened the bag and removed a brand spanking new Colt 6920. The last time I ran a Colt gun was when I in the Regiment back in Australia so I was really excited to shoot a one again. This gun was stock out of the box with a standard trigger, pistol grip, trigger guard and M4A1 butt-stock, A2 birdcage, LMT fixed rear sight on the flat top receiver with an Aimpoint Comp M2 to finish it off.
After we knocked out the mandatory power point lessons, we headed down to the range to zero the weapons. We had a full class with 21 shooters on the line and being a basic class there was plenty of coaching required to ensure that each shooter could meet the marksmanship standards for the course of a 1" group at 25m.
After a couple of trips back and forth to check targets and make bold adjustments to the sights, I was able to sneak in a quick group of own. I loaded a magazine containing 28 rounds of 55gr Federal LE BTHP's into the well lubricated 6920 with a 16" barrel. I dropped into the prone and tested and adjusted my position to ensure I had natural point of aim and loosed off 3 rounds down range. I checked safe, called the line cold and walked down to check my handy work with the class. I checked the zero target and saw the three holes grouped up a few inches from the intended point of impact. The group was pretty decent and measured less than a inch at the extreme spread. I made some quick adjustments to the M2 Aimpoint and went back to supervising the class. Once I was happy enough that the students were in the ball park at 25m, I moved them back to 50m to confirm that each shooter was point of aim/point of impact at 50m.
I snuck in another group, this time 10 rounds from 50m. One thing I really like about the 6920 was how soft it shoots. The 55gr bullets helped out a little too! I inspected the target at saw my group. Again another pretty good group that covered about 1.75". A few more trips down to targets and we were done with zeroing and moved onto more tactical applications of employing the weapons.
I ran the gun as hard as could during the course shooting loads of multiple round drills. The 6920 performed flawlessly without any malfunctions. I used the gun to demonstrate to the students methods to clear bolt override malfunctions. I saw the look on Dave's face as I collapsed the butt-stock and began to 'mortar' it into the earth. Luckily on this day the earth was soft and sandy, and even with plenty of dust dirt and debris the Colt still ran like a charm. I didn't oil it at all over the two days nor was it cleaned.
There is certainly something to be said about quality in this game of combat shooting. I truly believe in buying high quality brand name guns and quality ammunition. This combination will give you the best performance overall. During this course there were several students shooting NY compliant guns and others using LE guns. What I noticed was that the off brand guns and parts, cheap steel cased ammo and home built guns failed more than any other. There was even a POF that continued to malfunction due to a broken lug on the barrel extension causing continuous failures to feed.
One of the students had a stainless steel 'bull' barrel that gave him all sorts of problems too. In my opinion, a cold hammer forged barrel is the only way to go if you want to attend combat shooting courses. Stainless barrels may well have there application but not for combat shooting where you need to continually run magazines through it.
Overall, I was super happy with the Colt 6920. Even with the 7" RAS II on the front I didn't have any problems managing recoil during the 6 round cadence drills. I was easily able to shoot 6 rounds in 1.5 seconds from 7m inside a 7" circle.
If your looking to purchase a quality carbine that wont let you down on your next combat shooting course, you can't go past a Colt 6920.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
'You may not realize it, but you are smarter than the gun!'
'Weapon fires, weapon stops!' - 'Carry out the IA'So what happens at night when I can't see into the chamber area to see if it is clear? At night the double feed drill should be modified to include a compulsory three racks of the bolt. This extends the time of the drill but gives the shooter a 98% solution. If after completing this drill you find yourself back in double feed mode there will most certainly be bigger problems. Such as a broken extractor, or the rim torn from the case.
If your mission is being conducted in a permissive setting such as LE SWAT or other domestic CT units, dumping the mag may be acceptable. If however you are operating in a non-permissive environment then I would hazard against dumping magazines and ammo on the deck.
I refer back to my original statement that you should be smarter than the gun and also smarter than basic drills! It may seem like I teach complex malfunction drills. But the more proficient you become with the rifle the less complex they become. There is no point in having a student with a double feed, tap and rack! I have seen this technique taught for double feeds. Tap rack does nothing but waste time!
I will be covering bolt overrides on my next post. So check it out if your not 100% with clearing them.
Most people spend minimal time on the range performing malfunction drills and shows during range practice and stress courses. So take the time to get out there and square away your stoppage drills.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
'The 200 meter zero is a fire and forget system for the combat rifle between 0 - 250 meters.'
This is a very interesting subject and one that I get a lot of questions about.
What is the best distance to zero a combat rifle? To me a combat rifle is a rifle/carbine that is issued as a standard service weapon. In todays military in the US this would be either the M16 A4 or an M4 Carbine. Both are chambered in 5.56mm. The real difference in the two is the overall length and more importantly the length of the barrel. The M16 A4 comes standard with an 20" barrel and the M4 comes with a 14.5" barrel. The length of the barrel will directly effect effective range and accuracy. However, accuracy at long ranges is based more on the ability of the shooter than 5.5 inches of barrel length.
Ammunition selection is critical also for a couple of reasons. Reliability and performance. Military ammunition may not give you the performance of a match round for competitions but it will give you the most reliability during cycling on the battlefield. This is seen to be more important than performance for the Military.
Most manufactures of Military grade service weapons test their products using Milspec ammunition. The most common test rounds include but are not limited to M193 55gr ball, M855 62gr 'green tip' and Mk 262 77gr long range ammunition. Each one of these rounds perform differently in terms of ballistics.
In short M193 is more accurate than m855 but lacks the penetration. Mk 262 is more accurate over longer distances than M193 but again lacks the penetration capability of green tip.
Green tip was originally designed by the Belgians and designated at the time the SS 109. The projectile was designed to pierce Soviet Body Armor at 200m and through one side of a steel helmet at 600m in line with the specifications of an LMG (light Machine Gun). This was in preparation for a possible war with the former Soviet Union.
In order for the projectile to perform this task it needed to be stabilized for longer. This means make the projectile spin faster. So the twist rate of the M16 had to change from its original 1:12 of the Vietnam era or 1:14 from Stoners original design to 1:7 twist rate of the M16 A2 adopted by the Marine Corps and Army in 1982.
The performance of green tip ammunition is almost irrelevant on the modern battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our enemy is not technologically advanced by todays standards and is made up of militia members rather than enlisted men and unlike most first world militaries does not issue body armor to its soldiers. Therefore the M855 'penetrator' round is relegated to punching through mediums such as heavy cover like cinder block walls and vehicles.
When green tip strikes our enemy it penetrates 10-15 inches before it yaws, and separates into three pieces. The tip, core and sheath, creating three separate wound channels and thus incapacitating him. Unfortunately, the chest walls of our enemy are between 8-10 inches thick and green tip has exited before it can separate. When this occurs we generally see .22 calibre through and through wound ballistics that may not kill the enemy.
Mk 262 77 grain long range ammunition was designed to fill the ballistic gap of 5.56 and 7.62. It was specially made for Special Operations teams to use with their SPR rifles. After its successful incorporation into the SOF inventory Mk 262 became a heavy duty work horse for special operators throughout the Middle East.
The M 193 55 grain ball ammunition has a full copper alloy jacket and an antimony alloy core. M 193 is a light weight round that is generally used against personnel and unarmored targets. M 193 ball is a good training round that is extremely accurate over short ranges however it lacks the punch of 62 grain green tip.
When the question "What range do you recommend to zero a carbine?" comes up. I hear nearly every instructor say something like, "Well, what country are you deploying to, Afghanistan or Iraq?" And back it up by saying that if your going to Iraq you should have a 100m zero because of the combat ranges there. And a 300 meter zero for Afghanistan because of the extended ranges.
Well I call bullshit on all accounts.
In combat there isn't one specific range for shooting bad guys either in Afghanistan or Iraq. What is important is that you have a zero that best covers the ballistic profile of the projectile being fired.
This is why I advocate the 200 meter zero. A 200 meter zero is like a fire and forget system for the combat rifle from ranges between 0 - 250 meters.
When you zero your rifle for 200 meters you can either use a reduced target and shoot at 25 meters or shoot Point Of Aim/Point Of Impact at 50m. If you zero at 25, always confirm POA/POI at 50m as there will always be discrepancies when zeroing on a reduced target. A good shooter should be able to hold a 1" group at 25 meters with an inservice M4. (This is consistent with Military Specifications of the weapon being a 4" gun or holds a 4 inch group at 100m. A service rifle should hold a 2 MOA group and service ammunition should hold a 2 MOA group hence the 4 inch group.)
At 25 meter the projectile will be approximately 1" low and be POA?POI at 50 meters. At 100 meters, the projectile is traveling on its upward flight path and should be around 2 inches high at its culminating point and will intersect POA/POI at 200 meters. At 250 meters the projectile will be approximately 6 inches low of the POA and approximately 10 inches low at 300 meters. What this means to the operator is that he doesn't need to worry about 'hold overs' or 'hold unders' at all at any range between 0 - 250 meters based on the percentage of the target seen.
With a 100 meter zero the projectile will be in the parallax zone until about 87 meters then fly pretty straight through 100m which is its culminating point. At 200 meters the projectile will be approximately 6 inches low and 18 inches low at 300 meters.
The BZO sees the projectile intersect the POA? POI at 25 meters then fly's high, up to 10 inches at 150 meters which is it's culminating point. It then drops to intersect the POA/POI at 300 meters. The biggest issue with this zero is that the marksmanship standard in the Army for example is 1.5 inches at 25 meters. This extrapolates to a 6 inch group at 100 meters and 9 inches at 150 meters.
If a soldier puts his Aimpoint red dot onto a target at 150m with a rifle with a BZO his POI will be 19 inches higher than his POA less any shooter error.
This is one reason why our Military personnel are not killing enough bad guys!
An interesting fact to note is that m855 is not lethal beyond 200 meters and needs to be traveling at about 2700 f/p to be effective. This limits the effectiveness of SBRs in combat engagements beyond 100 meters and where shot placement becomes critical.