Excellent Advice

Peter Grant has a post about equipping and handling a rifle, and there’s not a single thing he says that I disagree with.  An excerpt:

It’s easy to say, “I can get rounds on target out to 500 yards” – but that’s probably not true in all circumstances. On a square range, on a calm, sunny day, with no interference or distractions, and a well-braced position, and using good optics, perhaps you can. Now, take a wild, stormy, windy day, with you out of breath, panting and puffing, sweat running down your forehead and into your eyes (having just run a couple of blocks to get away from trouble, with “bad guys” in the offing who are after you, and your family bunched behind you with the kids screaming in fear because they don’t know what’s going on), and you with just “iron sights” or a red dot sight on your close-combat carbine, and no time to take up a settled, stable shooting position . . . now make that critical shot, at whatever range. Go ahead. It’s only your life at stake, and your families’ lives.

Absolutely true.  We had guys in our unit who were absolute monsters on the range, but when faced with serious trouble, it all went to hell in a hurry.  This is also why I know I was a far  better handgun shooter back when I did timed IDPA drills every week, as opposed to the leisurely range sessions I do now.  I went from “average” to “much-better-than-average”, and now I’ve slipped back to “marginally-better-than average” (to be extremely charitable).  What I do know is that the habits I picked up from all those hours of IDPA drills are still there, and can be resurrected (even if a half-second or so slower) in a pinch.

Peter’s thoughts about maintaining your battle rifle are also why I prefer the AK-47 over the AR-15:  throw an AK in the mud, drop it off the back of a truck, and it’ll still shoot.  Good luck doing that with your AR-15, with all its electronic doodads and plastic furniture.

And if you don’t own a copy of Jeff Cooper’s Art of the Rifle, that should be your next book purchase.


  1. “Go ahead. It’s only your life at stake, and your families’ lives.”
    When I see stuff like that I dismiss ALL of it outright.
    Pandering to emotionalism and I’ll have none of it.
    If you want to be a good at shooting, or anything else, you have to do it a lot.
    Everybody knows this. yawn

    “Good luck doing that with your AR-15 (throwing it in the mud)…”
    I carried an M16 in the alps for 4 years and many guns over the past 50 years in all sorts of weather and terrain conditions and never once threw it in the mud. Dirty as hell? Yes, of course. I’ve had very few misfires with M16’s or AR15’s. The whole competition thing between guns is so adolescent. srsly

  2. Most of that quote applies to deer hunting as I do it, on foot in Western Canada. Not the family and screaming kids, but the adrenaline, loss of breath, shaking and pounding heart. I knew by the time I was 18 that I was a fabulous range shooter and a quite bad hunting shooter. I have even been so rattled that I failed entirely to shoot because I forgot to click the safety and took 30 seconds to figure out what was wrong.

    It took a lot of work and listening to and watching older hunters to improve. The old guys always got their deer by being calm, careful, thoughtful etc. etc.

  3. I have no real world experience, but Karl’s and Ian’s mud tests at InRangeTV dispute that AR/AK assessment.

  4. In the environment most of us will be shooting in, sight lines of 500 yards will be, charitably, somewhat rare. Far more important will be the ability to shoot from the hip at a bad guy coming around the corner of the house at 25 FEET…. and nail it.

  5. In the 1970’s I had a next door neighbor who was an FBI agent and I asked him once about using a gun for self defense. He kind of laughed and said that to his knowledge there was no such thing as a typical gun fight because each situation had its own unique circumstances how ever he said that in most cases all of shooting was less than ten feet and lasted less than eight seconds. He also was fed up with the FBI and by 1980 quit and went into the investigator business.

    I have personally known two men who had to do defense shooting here in Texas that ended up with them killing a bad guy and both were charged one by by a smaller county bad asst. DA who was kin to the dead guy and the other by a young female detective who wanted to make a name for herself and eventually with the help of lawyers and a whole lot of money in the smaller county and very good circumstances and a good grand jury with the other man both men ended without going to trial.

    Each of us to the best of our ability and resources should try to prepare ourselves for the moment when we might have to defend ourselves or out families and then hope that the event never ever occurs. I have been a hunting sports shooting person for over sixty years but it has only been in the last five years that I have learned to shoot in timed competition with pistol and rifle and that is a lot different from the skeet and bird shooting I used to do.

    I have come up from not very good to lots better and I am faster and better with a rifle than I am with a pistol. An M1-carbine in my go to house gun.

  6. I’ve thinking about this post all day, and laughing at myself and the world the whole time.

    Every man who thinks he’d be sooper dooper in combat ought to go to one of those silly outdoor paintball parks. Especially if, like me, he’d been a hunter an a shooter since he was 12 and fancied himself a clever-boots.

    I did that with my 2 utterly useless city boy nephews and a few other guys their age, including my two sons who had some outdoor and hunting experience. They were all about 19-21 at the time.

    The two useless city boy nephews were clever, sneaky, ruthless and shot paintballs in my back and arse repeatedly. I never laid a glove on them. I did manage to tag my younger and more arrogant son, once, compared to him nailing me multiple times.

  7. Sigh. In the year 2020, an AR-15 built to spec with a quality optic will take a drop on your front lawn from the second story window. And then a drop on concrete from head high. And then you repeat it couple more times. It won’t lose zero. Forget breaking. If it loses zero, something is defective, full stop.

    An AR-15 built to spec with a quality optic starts at $1.5K and goes up. A decent AR-15 built to spec with a quality optic starts at $2K. Them’s the breaks.

    And to bust a few myths:

    * A quality optic is more durable and more reliable than irons. It’s not even a contest at this point. According to may a .mil armorer, the single most broken items on rifles are the iron sights. The red dots and ACOGs breaking are virtually unheard of.

    * The AR platform is inherently extremely mud resistant, event with the dust cover. It’s sealed, and the cycling of the action tends to blow crap out of the chamber when the bolt carrier moves back. Not so the AK. Once thick mud gets in the action, you’re boned.

    * Much of the lubrication and cleaning regiment .mil teaches the grunts catastrophically awful. An AR platform is OK dirty. Overcleaning it will do more harm than good. Oh, and CLP is literally the worst AR lubricant there is.

    * A cheap and good AK no longer exists within these shores, and haven’t existed for years.

    As a parting note, consider this. What do the elite organizations who routinely go into harm’s way and can actually get whatever they want use? Folks like Delta, Seals, and the rest of SOCOM? M4s and 416s. British SAS? A Diemaco C8 derivative, basically a M4. Australian SAS? Also a M4 derivative. Not SCARs, not M14s, not L85s, not AUGs, not G36s, not AKs. I wonder why…

    It’s well past time to put the myth of AR fragility to rest.

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