RFI: AR-15 Rifles

Before we go any further with this discussion, let me say unequivocally that I am not in the market for an AR-15 rifle [10,000 words of unnecessary explanation omitted].

However, many people are, these days, and let’s look at the situation from this perspective.  A couple days back I received this junk mail advertising missive from my old friends at CheaperThanDirt(dotcom):

Now, Readers, here’s my question:  if you were a newby assault rifle prospective purchaser and saw this ad, what are the questions one should ask before making one’s decision?  Here are my thoughts, to kick the discussion off.

Bushmaster is a recognized brand, Stag a little less so, and the top two are complete unknowns.  Do you go with the “brand leader” (at the apparent premium price), or get the cheapest knowing that you may have to do a little aftermarket improvement — or will that be the case regardless  of which brand you pick?  It’s one thing to want to arrive at this conclusion, so to speak:

…but it’s a different issue if you’ll need to buy a new barrel, different trigger assembly etc. just to get the thing to work in its most basic form.  Is this an issue with budget ARs, or has the situation resolved itself like that of the many budget 1911 pistols, where most are now acceptable out of the box?

I’ve never concerned myself with these questions as the AR-15 (especially in the poodleshooter 5.56mm NATO chambering) has never been a contender for my purchase decision — in fact, one of the primary reasons I’ve always chosen AK-47 rifles is that you hardly have to do anything with them to make them “more” functional.  My own SAR-1 only needed an Ultimak mount and red-dot sight, for example:

But I digress.

So, Loyal Readers:  what are your opinions on making that AR-15 purchase?  (Try to keep your responses to about 1,000 words… and eschew the temptation to make suggestions for alternatives.  Stick to AR-15s only.)

Range Report: Different Guns, Different Ammo

So back I went back to DFW Gun Range for Round 2 of “getting to know the High Power (again)” (with a small detour along the way).  Some parameters:

  • all shots in this session were fired “slow, deliberate”
  • in 8-round strings
  • into a standard NRA B-27E silhouette target
  • at 8 yards (25 feet) distance — because I had a little trouble with the mechanism and couldn’t get the target past that distance, not that it’s important.

Because I’m a Cheap Bastard, I prefer to use as few targets as possible, so what I do is shoot one round into an open area of the target, then use that bullet-hole as the aiming-point for the remaining 7 rounds.  The grouping is what it is.  Here’s what the target looked like afterwards (explanation to follow):

Item 1:  The 1911 detour
I wanted to do a quick comparison in feel between the .45ACP 185gr JHP practice ammo vs. my old 230gr FMJ standard.  The 185gr was the super-cheap “Monarch” brand (on sale for almost a pre-2008 price):

…while the 230gr stuff was regular Winchester White Box.

So here’s the “.45 area” of the target, with each group noted, starting with the 230gr:

  

I have to say, I’ve fired a lot of 230gr FMJ ammo in my life — at a rough guess, well over 50,000 rounds in various 1911 pistols, so shooting it holds no surprises for me.  Nevertheless, as I’ve noted recently on these here pages, the recoil from the heavy bullets may be starting to cause a little distress to my old wrists, hence my desire to try a lighter load.  I’ve shot quite a lot — close to a thousand — of the 185gr loads before, but never this brand, and its cheapness gave me low expectations.

Not anymore.  Hell, given the fact that the Monarch ammo is hollow-pointed, I may just use it as my carry load — but before I make that decision, I’ll do a few “real life” comparisons between the cheap Monarch JHP and the premium Hornady self-defense stuff.  (Don’t get excited;  I’m not going to use hippies as targets, tempting as the idea may be.)  I’ll use the old standby (watermelons, water jugs or something like that).  Watch these pages.

On to the High Power, and the cheap Sellier & Bellot 9mm 115gr practice ammo.

For this area of the target, I’ve simply noted the groupings in order of their arrival on target.

Accuracy started to improve around group #5 (with one flyer), then strings #6-#9 just flew where I wanted them to go.  I was so happy that I broke with my normal tradition (I generally don’t shoot at the head of the target), but my blood was up, and in fact, I think I fired that string at a slightly faster pace than the first nine, not “controlled rapid”, but certainly quicker than “slow deliberate” at any rate.

People sometimes say “the worst day at ____ is better than the best day at the office”, or something like that.  That’s not always true of range sessions;  I’ve had some absolutely shitty days at the range — broken guns, etc. — which quite frankly are worse than a couple of really good days I’ve had at the office.  But at the end of this range session I walked away with the Warm & Fuzzies, a much better day even than the time at the office when I told my boss to fuck off, and wasn’t fired*.

I must be getting old, to make a statement like that.

The only problem arising from this range day was:  I can’t actually decide whether I should use the Browning (with its 12-round mag) as my regular carry piece, or stick with the 1911, now loaded with 8 rounds of 185gr JHPs.  (I always have at least one  spare mag on me, btw, regardless of the gun I’m carrying.)

Your thoughts in Comments.


*Details of that  event some other time.

Pig Shooting

Mr. Free Market went a-piggy hunting last week, in a country somewhere in the Balkans, along with a few similarly-bloodthirsty companions from Britishland.  This was his personal first attempt, Day 1:

That’s his trusty Blaser double rifle chambered in .30R (Euroland’s version of the .30-06), topped with an Aimpoint H2.  Note the shot placement on the second from bottom.

Apparently the Balkan countries have an even bigger problem with feral hog infestation than we do here in Texas, so the standing orders were “Kill ’em all.”  Which the party did — the final tally was 131 hogs over four days.

That anguished howling in the background is coming from Doc Russia and Combat Controller, who were Not Invited.  Or maybe it’s just vegans screaming… LOL.

Me, I think I’ll go and make myself a bacon sarnie.

SHTF Guns: Interesting Take

I stumbled on this article a little while ago, and the author makes an interesting proposition in his selection of decent alternatives in the SHTF (survival) scenario, in that his list includes the Usual Suspects (AR-15, AK-47, M1 Carbine, large-caliber lever rifle), but also suggests the… semi-auto .22 rifle.

Say what?

Now I know, one should embrace the power of the word “and” with the idea, and indeed, the idea of an EBR coupled  with a .22 rifle makes all sorts of sense, but I’m not at all sure that relying on a .22 rifle alone  would be a wise thing.  Here’s Cody Griffin’s take:

The .22-caliber rimfire ammunition doesn’t deliver any kickback or recoil, but can hit targets at 100-yards with deadly precision and ease.

One of the biggest advantages of a .22-rimfire long rifle is the abundance and affordability of ammunition. This will allow you to enjoy endless days of target shooting before SHTF and the opportunity to stockpile plenty of backup rounds to have on hand when disaster strikes.

No issue with any of the above, but here’s the (unspoken) kicker:  is it better to drop a small bullet into an eyeball out to 100 yards, or to have a decent stopper with “reasonable” accuracy operating at the same range?

I myself have embraced the first scenario, only I’ve attempted to increase the oomph  somewhat by having a small-caliber rifle in .22 WinMag (rather than .22 LR) which can, and does, drop bullets into a dime-sized target all day.  (I also have a Harris bipod for it, just to assist in the process.)  Not only does the .22 WMR boolet arrive with more authority than the .22 LR’s, it nearly doubles the effective range thereof.

“But Kim,”  you wail, “what about rate of fire?  A boltie is nowhere near as quick as a semi-auto!”

Which is why I have that covered (embracing the power of “and”) by also having my little Taurus 62, with a dozen rounds of .22 LR goodness in the tube mag:

Here’s my final take on the topic, and it should be well known to all Loyal Readers by now.

The .22 rifle (of whatever action type) is not a firearm, but a household appliance like a frying pan — and its ammunition is not ammunition, but a household commodity like sugar or salt.

In short, every  home should have one, and under such circumstances, a “survival” scenario will always include both  the EBR and the rimfire options.

And as such, Cody Griffin’s list needn’t include the .22 LR rifle, for the same reason that a list of survival items needn’t include “clothing” because duh.

You all do own at least one rimfire rifle, don’t you?  One for each family member, yes?  And an elegant sufficiency* of rimfire ammunition on hand?


*over 1,000 rounds (two bricks) per gun.

Hearing Protection

From Longtime Brit Reader Quentin:

How often should you practice shooting without ear protection?  Every photograph and video of people practising I’ve seen has people with ear and eye protection.  But when necessity strikes, you’re not going to have protection.  And if you’re in an enclosed space, can not the sounds and flashes be disorienting?  So, how do you prepare for that?

It’s an interesting question, and I must confess that I don’t have the real-world experience to answer it properly:  people have only ever shot at me out in the open (earning return fire, so to speak) and while my ears did ring a bit afterwards, it didn’t last long.

Indoors?  ‘Nother conversation altogether, I suspect.

My thought is that in a dire self-defense situation, the typical nervous response (tunnel vision, slowed-down time etc.) will tend to muffle or even ignore the sound of gunshots*.  Certainly, while hearing damage may well occur in such situations, the perception may not be that disorienting — but I will gladly be corrected by anyone who has been exposed to gunfire in a confined space, e.g. soldiers or policeman, either current or veterans.  I do once remember talking to a WWII vet who’d been involved in house-to-house fighting in Italy, and apparently it was a common sight to see men sitting around afterwards, completely deafened, and some men with blood running from their ears.

All that said, however, the immediate answer to “How often should you practice shooting without ear protection?”  is, unequivocally, never.  Not even out of doors.  The damage to one’s hearing is far more critical than practice for a situation which, quite frankly, is statistically rare.  Suffering some hearing damage from wasting a goblin in your home is, I would suggest, not important.  Deafening yourself unnecessarily is silly.  (I have serious tinnitus from decades of unmuffled .22 shooting in the outdoors.  Large-caliber indoors shooting practice?  I wince at the very thought.)

So, my Readers, what say you?


*The noise of gunfire in an indoor shooting range is different, of course, in that this situation is a non-stress one and using hearing protection is not negotiable

Beyond Redemption

When we moved from Chicago to north Texas back in 2002, I have to admit to some mixed feelings.  On the one hand, there was conservatism, no gun-prohibition laws, non-intrusive state government, no union bullshit, no Communist representation in the U.S. House;  and on the other hand: all the above.

But there was this, the dawn view from our apartment in Lakeview:

…and the view to the south (it was a 10th floor corner apartment):

…and let’s not forget the Chicago River (view of my office window, back when I worked downtown):

 

But time has passed, and now we have shit like this:

Deerfield Sen. Julie Morrison introduced Senate Bill 107 on Wednesday. It would prohibit a range of rifles, pistols and shotguns and require every such weapon in the state to be registered with the Illinois State Police. Owners would pay a $25 fee for that registration. A person found in possession of one of the prohibited weapons without registration could face a Class 3 felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a $25,000 fine.

In other words, you have to register your “illegal” rifle in order to be grandfathered into “forgiveness” of your “crime” — and in return the state of Illinois would promise, cross its heart, never to come and confiscate said rifle in the future.

Uhhhh, sure.

Now I am glad I left (and tossed my Illinois Firearm Owner ID — the hated FOID card — into the Mississippi River on my way down to Texas) — and not for the first time, either.

I could live with the freezing winters, I could even live with the Commie Bitch In The House (Jan Schakowsky).  But as for the rest?  Fuck that.