Monthly Archives: June 2013

Look At Your Firearm While Reloading

There are too many people in the firearm world – especially when it comes to “real world” or “defensive” use of firearms – who hide behind the word “tactical” as an excuse for poor technique or performance.

Today I would like to discuss reloading, both of handguns and rifles. Basically, anything with a magazine. There are many things to discuss when it comes to reloads, and this is a topic I plan on covering in detail in the future. To be specific, I believe that looking at the firearm during the reload, whether I am fighting or gaming, is important and beneficial.

Some people protest that you should never take your eyes off the target during a reload – that doing so is only for competition or “gaming.” I beg to differ. If someone is trying to kill me while I reload, it isn’t going to matter if I glance down at my pistol for a fraction of a second. They are still going to be doing the most dangerous thing they could possibly do, which is…try to kill me. My steely gaze is not magically slowing down their bullets.

The most complicated portion of a reload – perhaps better termed as the easiest portion of a reload to screw up – is inserting the magazine. During the time which the magazine is approaching the magazine well, looking at my pistol will help me return it to shooting condition as fast as possible. The weapon is already in front of me, it’s not as if I need to turn my back to the threat to look at the magwell. If looking down speeds up my reloads, it follows that this will enable me to stay alive longer in a real gunfight.

It just so happens that this also makes split times faster during competition. Look, just because something is valued by a competition shooter (see the above linked photo of Bob Vogel) does not mean that it is immediately suspect for “tactical” or “gunfighting” purposes. It may or may not be useful, but it should be evaluated on its merits, not simply whether it is a “game” technique or not.

———

Here’s what Mike Pannone had to say on the topic:

You look at it with a quick glance. Anyone who says “no” isn’t realistic. I was taught in every shooting package I ever did by every unit I was in or contracted shooter I shot with that if you can see, you should glance down quickly (maybe .20 sec) to ensure proper orientation and insertion of magazine. If you do this properly you are creating the proper procedural memory. This will allow you to perform the act even when you can’t see because you orient the pistol to your body and oncoming magazine the same way every time. You lose nothing in quantifiable situational awareness that you wouldn’t lose by blinking 2 times in rapid succession but you are affording yourself the highest likelihood for success.  If it is at night and you have NVG’s you may still glance down because that is part of the action but with time your situational awareness of limited vision will remove that. With any useful vision available I will look, without I won’t.

Summary- Looking for a split second when vision is available is the way every great shooter (military, L/E and sport) I know does it. They do this for a specific reason and that is to have the best likelihood of success without loss of situational awareness.

If you get the chance to take any courses taught by Mike, I would highly recommend doing so.

 

Some People Shouldn't Own Guns…

…but there’s no way to weed them out without wrongly violating the rights of those who should.

I understand that this statement may be offensive to some. In the firearm world, some fully invest themselves in an absolute interpretation of the Second Amendment: that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. I, too, believe that the Second Amendment is important and affords an individual right to own firearms…albeit with a few asterisks. Most notably, I think some people should not have access to firearms.

Like the guy in the middle, who is pointing a 12 gauge shotgun directly at the camera…which I happened to be holding. He was completely oblivious of the fact that he was pointing a gun at people.

It is relatively easy to argue that violent felons should not be allowed to purchase or own guns. It’s perhaps just as easy to argue that those convicted of domestic violence should also not be allowed firearms. Those who would argue against these points will certainly not agree with anything else I have to say, but they’re entitled to their opinions.

After having worked in a gun store for a little while, I came away with the sincere belief that not everyone should own firearms. It’s not a matter of education or experience – yes, at some point, everyone is new to firearms. It’s a matter of attitude and inclination. Some people just don’t care enough to keep and use their guns in a responsible manner which minimizes risk to others and respects public and private property.

I’m not convinced that mandatory training and safety courses will be of much help; even if they’re forced to attend, these people won’t retain much or any of the information that’s passed to them. Someone with the right attitude – of affording firearms the respect they deserve as tools capable of causing harm when misused – will seek out this information without being forced to do so. Novice or expert, it’s the willingness to constantly use firearms in a safe and responsible manner that is important. Yes, perhaps some people just need a little nudge in the right direction. But others will never come around.

It would be easy to say that maturity brings the responsibility which should be required to own firearms, but that just isn’t the case. Men well into middle age - hunters and homeowners who don’t identify their targets – have misused firearms, with the end result being the tragic death of others. Young people may also be at fault in these cases. The unintentional death of innocent people is the most egregious example of how the actions of those who shouldn’t own guns impact others, but the minor actions of irresponsible people are far more common.

The roof/sunshade over the public range in Casa Grande, Arizona. Whether these holes are the result of negligence, willful destruction of property, or a combination of both is almost irrelevant. Any combination of the above is terrifying.

Take, for example, those who find humor in destroying public property – from road signs to national park entrance signs to the roof pictured above. Perhaps it’s just youthful idiocy which will eventually be outgrown, but every person without a dog in the gun rights/gun control fight who drives by a sign defaced with a shotgun may potentially become anti-gun. Did the Founding Fathers intend for the Second Amendment to guarantee an individual right to destroy public property?

How, though, are we to weed out the undesirables on a massive scale? The bottom line is that we can’t. We can’t readily identify those who won’t be responsible with firearms any more than we are able to identify those inclined to drive under the influence of alcohol. We can punish them after the fact, but that won’t prevent their transgressions in the first place. Theoretically, we could have government commissions screen those who would and would not be allowed to own firearms, but that isn’t acceptable to me considering the abuse which would inevitably result, and the inability of the government to perform the task in the first place.

This is the fundamental difference between those who want to restrict firearm ownership and those who don’t. Should we punish the majority for the actions of a minority? I don’t think so. But firearm owners should be mindful of those who act with reckless disregard when they handle or shoot their guns – and do what we can to correct their actions before innocent people are harmed.

I Prefer Medium Rare Steaks And Well Done AKs

And by “well done,” I mean “burned to a crisp.”

And that means I really like this one.

I was introduced to Mario of Piece of History Firearms by a mutual friend recently, and we’ll occasionally head to the range to shoot cool stuff like MG42s, RPKs, PKMs, select fire Glocks, and so on.

Here are a few recent Piece of History RPK builds.

We started talking about spare parts and projects and so on, and it turned out that I had a spare AK74 receiver and he had what was left of a select fire Bulgarian AK74 which was destroyed in a house fire (for more info on some of the firearms in this photo, see here).

It died in good company.

The major metal parts weren’t damaged, so after Mario replaced the springs and furniture and swapped out the fire control group for a semi auto version, the rifle was reassembled and ready to fire.

Here is the result.

I asked that he not refinish the rifle, which was a bit of a shame since the AKs he turns out are actually…well…pretty.

This one is not.

Despite its outward appearance, the rifle functions without issue. Furthermore (and this is more of a coincidence than anything else), the rifle needed no elevation or windage adjustments. My initial shots at 50 yards were straight through the bullseye.

Those elevation adjustments are pretty much right on, too – at least out to 700 yards, which is as far as I’ve fired this rifle.

Needless to say, I was impressed. This isn’t my first AK or even my first 74, but as a fan of the 5.45 cartridge, I’m glad that I have this rifle. Plus, I think the finish (or lack thereof) gives it a certain amount of panache.

The brake works pretty well, as almost anyone who has fired a 74 will attest. Many of the common muzzle devices of this era certainly borrow some design elements from devices like this one.

Looking past the finish, a number of people have actually commented on the quality of the assembly work. This isn’t terribly surprising, given that Mario has been building AKs for ten years, and his work is pretty highly sought after by knowledgeable folks in the industry.

Mario marks all of his products with his logo, and every one I’ve seen has been worth talking about. Needless to say, there will be more articles on cool rifles and machine guns in the future.

Among them were some of the students at the May carbine course, who enjoyed shooting the 74 out to 300 or 400 yards.

He was so amazed at the rifle’s accuracy that he forgot to use his eye pro.

Later, I saw that I could hit an E type silhouette at 700 when I did my part. At this month’s 600 yard match, I fired a 153-3X out of 200-20X, which isn’t very good, but then again it isn’t that horrible for an AK with iron sights using surplus ammo, either.

5.45 is a very capable cartridge. I don’t buy into the myths of the “poison bullet,” but it’s accurate to a significant distance. That’s more important to me than voodoo.

To me the AK74 is preferable to the AK47/AKM, mostly due to the increased effective range of the 5.45×39 cartridge, but also the reduced weight of the loaded magazines. Also, surplus 5.45 is still being imported. If you are an AK fan and don’t have a 74, or even if you aren’t an AK fan, I would recommend considering a quality example. In my experience, a good sign that a 5.45 AK might be of good quality is a 1/8 twist barrel and/or an original Eastern Bloc barrel. Too many of the 5.45 AKs I’ve owned have had accuracy or keyholing issues due to a poor choice of barrels on the part of the builder.

Yes…yes, I know the safety is on “fire.”

This is by no means a replacement for any of my ARs, and I still feel that the AR is a superior platform in a number of ways. But I have to admit that I really like this AK74.

 

Topics Covered During July 27/28 Carbine Course

Observing a student’s hits on silhouettes at long range with the AR-15.

After what we feel was a rather successful first carbine course, Jim Staley and I have worked out the topics for the second course, which will be held at the same location, Sniper Country in northern Utah, and which you may sign up for here.

You may note the inclusion of pistol shooting; 100 rounds of pistol ammo will be needed and we are able to provide this at a reasonable cost for students as we did with rifle ammo for the first class. Another change is that the course will not be entirely AR-centric, and other carbines or rifles are welcome. Here’s the list of what will be covered and a brief description of some of the activities/challenges. Some topics may be added depending on our observation of individual student needs.

Classroom Portions

- Observation and analysis of individual student high speed video:

- Rifle Reload
- Rifle shooting position/recoil management
- Rifle presentation/target transitions
- Pistol draw
- Pistol reload
- Prone fire/trigger control

- External ballistics/theory/terms explained
- Fundamentals of long range shooting and marksmanship

Range Portions

- Refinement of rifle reload, body position, presentation, pistol draw, reload, trigger control with more additional speed video analysis
- High heart/respiration rate shoot with baseline (non-stress shoot first) to compare results and capabilities in various positions, with reloads
- Practical application of long range shooting:

- Multiple targets
- Known and unknown distances
- Range estimation
- Range cards based on individual student muzzle velocities (via chronograph)

- Night/twilight shooting:

- Effects on range estimation, optical/fixed sight use
- Muzzle device flash comparison

- Introduction to practical application of shooting on the move, and the truth behind it
- Multiple target shooting with emphasis on decision making, eye movement, and speed intervals (when to speed up and when to slow down)
- Practical shooting in civilian attire/go bag and backpack shooting/concealed carry/shooting in and around vehicles/medical scenario

Final Exercise

This will involve a scored and timed practical application of all skills and knowledge learned, as well as mental and physical challenges.

I Will Be Conducting A Test Involving Oral IV

I am looking for approximately 20 to 25 volunteers in the Tucson area for a blind test of Oral IV, a “rapid rehydration ultra concentrate,” and several other methods of rehydrating the human body.

These methods may include various popular sports drinks as well as “Supplement Charge,” a substance with a remarkably similar description to that of Oral IV. To wit, both include these phrases in their advertising:

- Increases oxygen uptake at the cellular level
- Raises osmotic pressure level of cells to keep them strong
- Increases body enzyme production
- Enhance uptake of vitamins, macro minerals, proteins and other essential nutrients from natural food sources or dietary supplements

Other claims are similar, yet worded differently. Both descriptions also reference ions or ionic charges, crystalloid electrolytes, and other identical or nearly-identical phrases. Furthermore, both are intended to be mixed in small amounts with water. Supplement Charge, however, is much cheaper, at approximately $15 for enough fluid to “treat” 30 16-ounce bottles of water, while Oral IV is sold at the same price per package, although each package will only “treat” 4 16-ounce bottles of water.

If you are interested in helping me with this study, know that it will involve mild physical exercise and a urine test. I don’t yet have a timeline, but will be discussing this with those who email andrew@vuurwapenconcepts.com about the test.

Close Up Photos Of Enfield Rifles

I decided to take some detailed photos of my Enfields; here are the results, along with some comments about the rifles.

Ishapore 2A in 7.62×51 on the left, No4 Mk1 in .303 on the right. These bolt action rifles differ from most rifles of the type produced today in that they “cock on close,” as the bolt is being pushed forward, rather than as the bolt is unlocked and pulled to the rear. They are smoother and faster to operate than the vast majority of modern, off-the-shelf bolt action rifles.

Left side of No4 Mk1 action. The barrel of this rifle is essentially shot out and I will be replacing it with something interesting, perhaps a .375 of some sort.

Right side of No4 Mk1 action. I really like Enfields; I grew up shooting my dad’s sporterized No1, which his mother/my grandmother purchased many years ago for $8.95. It is accurate, light, and reliable. My dad killed a bear with it at point blank range.

Business end of the No4. It’s a good thing that I have the bayonet, since the barrel is shot out. I never know when I might need to impale something.

Right side of the Ishapore 2A action. This is a fine rifle which fires a widely available cartridge from a detachable magazine with a decent capacity (12 rounds, although 10 round mags are also available).

I have used the Ishapore in several 600 yard matches. Using .308 Win Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr BTHP, I have fired higher scores with this rifle than a Weatherby Mark V Ultra Lightweight and an LWRC REPR using the same ammunition. The sights are adjustable to 2000 meters, but I have only used it out to 600 yards. I wouldn’t be very confident with a .308 at 2000 meters…

I am interested in the way things used to be made versus the way they are made today. While the processes which brought this rifle to “life” are antiquated, the result is no less effective than a modern, rack-grade bolt action 7.62x51mm/.308 Win rifle, and in some ways the Ishapore is superior. One possible exception would be optic mounting, but that is more of a design than a manufacturing issue.

I need a bayonet for my Ishapore. Correction, I don’t have a bayonet for my Ishapore.

Everyone’s like, “OMG ZOMBIES!” and I’m all, “Vampires are the real threat.”

Thanks for reading. As mentioned previously, I wish that new production Enfield pattern rifles in various calibers were available.

Brief Thoughts On Hydration And Oral IV

I woke up this morning and saw a few links to this article about Oral IV. I found it interesting to read because a) SCIENCE!, and b) it mirrored my own experiences with Oral IV.

Last year, during the 24 Hour Sniper Adventure Challenge, I used a packet, or four tubes, of Oral IV. I also consumed at least twenty liters of water, most of which was infused with Squinchers electrolyte powder. I felt no immediate boost when I used the Oral IV tubes (which I did not mix with water but instead drank as a discrete unit), which I used rather randomly throughout the event. I did notice that I felt weaker at the end of the event, several hours after I had run out of Squinchers powder and was using water alone. This may also be partially due to the fact that I had just hiked 30+ miles without sleep over what was essentially mountainous terrain. Oh, and it was uphill both ways, although there was no snow.

The author hydrating near the beginning of the event.

Thus concludes my experiences with Oral IV.

When dealing with heat casualties as a Corpsman, I always preferred to have conscious patients who could keep fluids down drink water and/or Gatorade. I found that this was at least as effective in returning someone to near-full-health as spending the time to drop an IV in them – and the one time I had upwards of a dozen people badly needing fluid replacement out of twenty-six guys, I could only take the time to put a liter of LR (lactated ringers) in the most serious casualties.

In other words, my entirely anecdotal experiences have led me to believe that drinking water and keeping electrolytes in your system – giving your body the materials to replenish itself the way your genetic makeup intended – is the best way to keep yourself from being taken out of the fight or competition via dehydration. Other sciency-type articles have been written about this. Oral IV does not appear to aid this process in any material fashion.

Beirut, A City Of Contrast

I grew up hearing tales of Beirut from my parents, who worked there in the ’70s; it became an imperative that I visit the city as well. I had no memories for comparison, but I could tell that it was an incredible example of the way cultures can come together in one small area. What follows are photographs I took of Beirut, mostly at night as I walked around the city. I will also include some brief comments.

Overall, it was a study in contrast.

This dilapidated building was across the street (literally) from a world-class medical clinic, just down the road from the American University of Beirut, and in front of that modern apartment building under construction.

Farther east, a very cosmopolitan street that would have been at home in the trendy part of any Western European city, lined with shops and crawling with stylish people, lay not very far from a huge – and beautiful – mosque.

This, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, was probably one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen in my life. It reminded me of the “Blue Mosque” in Fallujah, except this one didn’t have bullet holes.

In the shadow of the giant mosque lay a tiny church. I would’ve investigated further, but this area was fenced off – this is as close as I could approach.

The mosque was rather close to several construction projects which looked positively third world in quality and design. Within a short walk was the Four Seasons (no, I wasn’t staying there).

I was on my way to a concert at a church, and encountered this shopping area as I reached my destination. It offered top fashion brands and was several hundred yards past a very seedy and mostly abandoned part of town in which dirty, smelly men gave me the evil eye.

Inside the church – at which I arrived late because I was photographing stray cats – hundreds of people had packed themselves in to see the famous composer Abdel Rahman El Bacha perform.

I had to sit on the floor behind a pillar for most of the concert, but that was just fine; the acoustics were wonderful and I spent most of my time listening to his music with my eyes closed.

After the concert, I went to a strange bar atop a strange restaurant, inside which I was clearly not very welcome, and had a subpar grasshopper. I can’t blame them, it may very well have been the first grasshopper ordered in the country since the Lebanese Civil War.

Passing by the big mosque again, I encountered Roman ruins near the aforementioned cosmopolitan street.

Remarkably well preserved baths. I sent one photo to an archaeologist friend and she identified where I was within minutes. I guess there aren’t many of these around any more.

The next morning, I awoke before sunrise and wandered off to find things to take photographs of and eat, not necessarily in that order.

This fisherman seemed to be relatively content to have me photograph him for a few minutes.

I then fed my pita addiction while enjoying a spectacular view of those huge rocks, the sea, and aircraft landing at the international airport.

Another long walk was the Beirut National Museum, which had been essentially destroyed during the civil war. It showcased a breathtaking (to me) assortment of artifacts spanning thousands of years of human history. I had the entire place to myself. In the gift shop, I bought postcards and sent them to a few people who requested a postcard from Lebanon on the blog’s Facebook page. It took over a month for them to arrive.

Not far from my hotel, this (used?) car dealer had some pretty fancy rides sitting on a street that had seen better days. Along with the latest fashions, large portions of Beirut seemed obsessed with showing off how well-to-do they were… as they stepped through trash and muddy water and sometimes animal fecal matter which littered much of the city’s streets.

 

One thing not shown in these photos is the extremely heavy security presence; comparable to that of Tunisia during the Arab Spring revolt. Several months before my visit, the Lebanese intelligence minister had been killed in a massive car bomb attack. Some of the soldiers and police were polite and conversational with me; others were condescending or even openly hostile towards my presence. Many military posts consisted of bombed-out, bullet-riddled buildings in the middle of otherwise rather nice areas of town.

After spending a considerable amount of time in the city, I could see why Beirut was the stuff of legends. But I found the Lebanese countryside to be far more welcoming and attractive. See my photos of Lebanon’s historical sites for more on that topic.

Credibility In The Gun World

You will notice that this blog often goes several days or weeks without updates. This is most often because I don’t have anything to say which is worth a blog post. When I do have minor thoughts, I post them on Facebook or occasionally Twitter, where such content belongs. I don’t have any advertising on this blog and it doesn’t matter to me how many people visit it on a daily basis.

This is not the model followed by many other firearm-related blogs. I have no disdain whatsoever for those who post more than I do, but I do take issue with people who blow hot air when they should be listening and learning.

Yes, I venture into dangerous territory here, but there are some websites which focus on producing a massive volume of content at the risk of sacrificing quality, basic journalistic principles, and even common sense. I’ve written about guns.com before, and after reading a few things over the last few days, I have some comments about “TTAG” (The Truth About Guns) as well.

In response to a short article – part of a series – by Tim Lau on Modern Service Weapons about the Colt M45 CQBP handgun, TTAG lifted a few paragraphs from the article and commented sarcastically about both Mr. Lau’s comments on 1911 reliability and 10-8′s decision to not publish their function test protocol for the 1911. On the surface, the latter point seems to have merit – why wouldn’t they publish the protocol? But they explain it in a way that makes sense to me – the test outside of its proper context is meaningless.

I understood immediately. It is important to step back and understand all factors relating to the performance of a firearm. Years of experience with the observation of a certain firearm are not easily compressed into a 500 or 1000 word blog post. Mr. Lau and Mr. Hilton choose to observe their test protocol firsthand, and I fully believe that they are in the right when they do so.

Of course, if one does not know the background of Tim Lau and Hilton Yam, it sounds suspicious. This is where that “journalistic integrity” thing comes in: if TTAG had bothered to mention that MSW is run by a pair of guys who teach courses specific to the 1911, their readers might have seen the comments about 1911 reliability in a different light. Similarly, their expertise regarding the 1911 platform explains their development of a test protocol specifically related to that firearm, and their decision not to release that protocol would have been, at the very least, better understood, if not fully accepted by all.

But that wouldn’t have gotten very much traffic, so instead, TTAG chose to stir up their reader base by publishing a few paragraphs from an article, accompanied by cryptic and snide remarks about the source. Naturally, the people who choose to read TTAG attacked Mr. Lau on a variety of fronts (Ironically, one of the commenters pointed to some of my previous work as an example of how things should be done).

TTAG then doubled down on their retardation by publishing a comment which could have easily been written in 1992 – a further attack on Mr. Lau and that one paragraph about the 1911 – as a separate blog post. It, naturally, received lots of admiration from the TTAG faithful, who again ignored the fact that Mr. Lau is a subject matter expert on the 1911. I don’t always agree with what Mr. Lau or Mr. Hilton say or do, but I do respect their experience and opinions.

Keep in mind that TTAG is the same website which published an article about why people shouldn’t use ARs for self defense – written by someone with literally zero background in the offensive or defensive use of any type of firearm… which brings me back to my opening thoughts.

There are firearm-related blogs which yearn for mass appeal and end up being purveyors of garbage. I’ve written about this before, and I am sure that I will do so again. I don’t expect this article to have any major impact. I don’t expect my work to have the mass appeal of TTAG or Guns.com. Frankly, I don’t want that. But if I’ve educated a few people about how dangerous it is to confuse enthusiasm for expertise, I will have succeeded.

The Perfect* AR-15

A few nights back, I disappeared into my gun room, a jumbled mess of ARs and parts in my arms. After some sweating, grunting, and cursing, this is what came out of the room.

No, I’m not going to name it.

 

It’s the perfect AR-15 (for me), and here’s why.

- The heart of any AR is the barrel. This rifle has a Centurion Arms 16″ lightweight midlength barrel. It’s not as light as an A1 profile barrel, but it is lighter than “government” or standard profile barrels. More important, it shoots groups that are highly competitive with my White Oak Armament stainless match barrel, although the Centurion is much lighter. It’s capable of hitting point targets well past the oft-published maximum effective range of the M16 (550m). Also the midlength is handy as far as where I like to place my hand on the firearm.

- The front sight base is of the fixed type and is taper pinned in place. A pinned front sight base/gas block will stay in place until the end of days, which is important if you want your rifle to function properly. Furthermore, if the barrel moves relative to the handguard, the front sight will move with the barrel, not the handguard.

- The bolt carrier group is M16 weight/profile, hard chromed, and was properly tested/inspected before shipment. Spike’s Tactical used to sell hard chrome BCGs before they switched to nickel boron. I have two of them and I’ll never let them go (until they break). Hard chrome is far easier to clean than either phosphate or nickel boron. The M16 weight carrier is what the system was designed to operate with. It’s this mass moving at a specific velocity that magazines are designed to feed rounds in front of. Moving to lighter carriers will sacrifice reliability in adverse conditions or extreme temperature ranges.

-  The receiver extension tube and buffer/spring are the Vltor A5 type. This system more closely approximates the performance (control and reliability) of a fixed stock/rifle buffer and spring, but allows length of pull adjustments. If I could make one change to the M16A4 used by the Marine Corps, it would be a change to the A5 recoil system. Normally the longer and heavier EMod stock would be used with an A5, but I’m using an IMod because I don’t need the weight of the EMod.

- The muzzle device is an A2 because I want a balance of muzzle flash reduction and blast/muzzle signature reduction.

- The charging handle is the Rainier Arms/AXTS Raptor because it’s easy to use with either hand and regardless of the method by which I manipulate the charging handle latch, but it does not protrude away from the rifle in a way that would cause it to snag on gear. It also enables more effective malfunction clearing than other types of charging handles I’ve used.

- The handguard is made by Apex; functionally, what I need from an AR handguard is to protect the gas tube and keep my hand from burning. The Apex handguard does this. It’s also lightweight and “grippy” and gives me a few QD socket options. I don’t like the way it installs – it’s kind of a pain in the butt, really – but once it’s there, it’s there. It’s also a good size and shape (round). If I want to add rails for lights and stuff, I can, but right now I haven’t because I don’t need them.

- The trigger is a Geissele SSA-E. I use a lot of stock triggers and think they’re a lot more useful than some might think, but it is really hard to beat the SSA-E. I like the Rock River two stage as well, but of late I haven’t seen them as regularly available as the Geissele.

- The optic is an Aimpoint CompM3 in a GDI mount. I also have a Trijicon TA02 – better known as the “battery ACOG” – in a GDI mount. Because the GDI mounts return to zero within .01 MOA, I can swap the red dot and ACOG back and forth to my heart’s content (one-handed!) without worrying about anything unnecessary. The Aimpoint and ACOG are as durable and reliable as you can ask of a firearm accessory, both offering long battery life. I am not normally a fan of the 4×32 ACOG eye relief and this one is no different, but the adjustable illumination is really neat and I somewhat prefer the crosshair reticle for distance shooting.

- The magazine is a Lancer L5 (loaded with 30 rounds of Prvi 75gr BTHP, thanks AIM!), which is durable, reliable, and lets me see how much ammo I have left. It fits in all mag pouches. Also it looks cool.

- The rear sight and pistol grip are Magpul. Thus they are well made and affordable. I highly doubt that I will actually need to use the MBUS rear sight, but it doesn’t break when you hit stuff with the rifle, which is important.

So that’s my idea of the perfect AR-15. As photographed (loaded), it weighs 8 pounds 7.6 ounces. Unloaded it weighs 7 pounds 6.2 ounces. It’s what I plan to use for the 2013 24 Hour Sniper Adventure Challenge, and it’s a rifle I plan on owning for a very long time.

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