Friday, November 9, 2012

RE: John Mosby's Notes On Setting Up The Modern Fighting Rifle

John Mosby wrote a great post recently. It is jam packed with sound practical advice. Seriously read the whole post before continuing. What I say here will not make much sense otherwise. Needless to say I have some thoughts on the matter.

As to optics. John Mosby says there really isn't an excuse for not running an optic. I do not think that is exactly true. The one valid excuse I can see is economics. Somebody who scraped up enough cash to get a rifle that is smart and putting money into food, energy, medical, training and such instead of just gun junk might need to save for awhile to get an optic. I have some respect for a guy who is waiting to buy an optic instead of shorting important areas to get one right now.

If there is a serious viable fighting optic available for under $400 I have not seen it. A $140 Walmart red dot is cool for plinking with a .22 or whatever but you get what you pay for. Either these optics fail or they fail to hold a zero or generally just suck. I talked some about specific optics like the Eotech, Aimpoint and ACOG awhile back. Any of those models or some of the new low power variable scopes by folks like Trijicon or Leupold are also very good candidates. Personally I am running an ACOG. I got it because they are what I use at work and it is easy to shoot them well. The new 1x4ish power scopes are a really good option and in 10 years when the ACOG's half life is up I will likely replace it with a Leupold variable power 1x4ish scope.

Running iron's as a backup is IMO absolutely essential for a fighting gun. Modern optics and in particular the Aimpoint CCO/M68 and the ACOG are really rugged and rarely fail. However optics are complicated and relatively fragile all the same. If the scope on a hunting or target gun fails it is an inconvenience or might ruin the day's hunt. In a fight it could conceivably get you killed. I am running the Magpul BUIS simply because of cost.

I am sold on the concept of free floating a rail. Phase 2 of Project AR Upgrade will be a free floating Troy Rail. Assuming the world doesn't end I'll get one in a few months.

Tactical lights are the way to go. They make such a difference in being able to identify targets. Especially considering the realistic real world use for most of our rifles would be a home defense situation lights are very important. Sticking with serious manufacturers like Surefire or Streamlight is probably smart.

Incidentally I had a few bucks that I was trying to decide what to do with for the last week or so. I was sort of at a log jam with a bunch of gear that really needs to be purchased together. After reading John Mosby's excellent article I was reminded that the new M4 needs a light sooner instead of later and picked up a VTAC surefire light and mount combo.

On the topic of slings. The old 3 point sling really came into existence as a viable tactical way to sling an M16 rifle with the old school strap under the rifle musket style hardware. They were fine for what they are but since pretty much everybody is running an M4 or an M4 style butt stock these days it isn't needed. Also because of their excessive webbing and attachments these things can tangle you up like some sort of bondage setup.

I do not like one point slings. For me the rifle hangs too low and is really floppy. I like modern adjustable two point slings. The adjustable feature is important for transitioning to the weak shoulder if needed. Also in a much more practical everyday way it allows you to adjust for wearing a plate carrier or not, winter clothes or even different users.

The only time I run a vertical foregrip (a grip pod to be specific) is at work when I expect to be using my IR laser enough to justify the optional pressure switch. Really this is just to buy me some more real estate. Some folks like them, or an AFG like the Magpul but I am not part of that group.

I think there is way too much potential for fiddling with the AR platform. Rifle, optic, light, BUIS, sling and if you can afford it an IR laser. No real need for anything else all the time. If you are going to be in a support by fire position doing some varmit shooting then stick on a bipod but I wouldn't run one all the time.

As to custom type parts I am generally not a fan. Some parts are just a better version of the original and that is fine. People do the same thing with AR's that they do with 1911's in that they stick a bunch of random parts together, find it doesn't work and say the platform sucks. The issue is that they are not a gunsmith and are stacking tolerances like crazy. Also I do not like products that change the way a gun is operated. Products like the Magpul BAD change the way you run the gun. I am running a BCM gunfighter charging handle but it does not change the manual of arms. You should be able to shoot any rifle that ends up in your hands well not just one specific set up.

Well those are my thoughts on that.


Chris said...

I was happy to read the article and see that I did ok putting together my AR...

I think there's another legit reason to run Irons: to learn how to do so, and for newer shooters. It is like back in math class when they made you learn how to solve a problem manually before you could use the calculator. ALso, it is much easier to do group analysis, diagnose shooting errors, etc when someone is using a non-magnified setup like irons because they aren't chasing their shots peering through the scope.

As for budget optics I think the Aimpoint PRO is a good choice. Its available for <$400 if you catch one of LAPG's 10% off sales which seem to happen every other month.

Finally, I think there is one more reason to use a VFG -- for dedicated CQB type weapons used in close quarters where retention and control of accessories like lights is a top priority, like a home defense rifle. Otherwise I totally agree that it is more bother than help.

I did put in one of the JP reduced power springs, which helped the trigger greatly, but I've run >1000 rounds of ammo through the rifle with no problems as well so I feel pretty confident that there was no problem induced with the upgrade.

Great post on practical rifles.

Chris from AK

Ryan said...

When I wrote $400 for a price the Aimpoint Pro did occur to me. I think they are within spitting distance of there.

I think a changed part or two isn't really the issue. It is more when every part is from a different place and isn't necessarily milspec. Change enough stuff and then all sort of issues can come up.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your point about needing a VFG for CQB, Chris....My rifles are my home defense rifles too, and I've never had a problem holding onto the rifle, and my lights are all securely mounted on my rails.....

I agree that budgetary concerns are a legit reason to run irons. I've actually just gone back to running an optic on every rifle, because of that very reason. I'd much rather see a guy running decent quality irons than a POS optic.


Chris said...


You have a lot, LOT more trigger time and combatives than than I do. I just feel as if I have a more secure grip on the weapon with the VFG and it indexes my hand to be in the right spot to hit the light every time.

I've definitely found the VFG to decrease accuracy compared to a traditional hold but, but not to any noticeable extent within 50 meters or so (typical civilian defensive ranges).

I would never run one on a field rifle and am thinking about taking it off my house rifle... At this point I've got sufficient muscle memory to find the light so the VFG may be extraneous.

Thanks for all the data you're putting out.

Chris from AK

Ryan said...

JM, Thanks for stopping by. To me optics for a defensive rifle are something where you go big (Aimpoint, Eotech, ACOG, Leupold CQD, etc) or just stick with iron's.

TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf said...

I messed around with a couple low-end optics before ponying up the $400 bucks for a PRO. World of difference between 'em - and really, you need something quality on a rifle.

On slings, I go back and forth. I tend to like single points because they don't get in the way when operating the rifle. But when you need to sling the rifle, they pretty much suck. The Magpul sling is an okay compromise, but I wasn't a fan of the thin/unpadded webbing they used on the MS2. Haven't tried the newer version yet.

I like a stubby foregrip to help with indexing and to provide a bit more control when pulling it into the shoulder. Only my bottom two fingers touch it, though.

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