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A Non-AR Shooter's Views On The AR-15

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Cosmoline, Jun 12, 2011.

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  1. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Thanks to all who weighed in on this thread: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=595827, I recently picked up this fine rifle:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's a Colt AR-15A2 "Government Carbine" model which I believe was made for law enforcement during the bad old days of the ban, but which is now being surplussed out to non-leo's. It's very lightweight.

    Apart from SKS's and AK semi clones, I'm not terribly familiar with modern military firerarms. In the past decade I'd say 90% of my rifle shooting has been with bolt action surplus rifles, leverguns and flintlocks. I'd heard a lot about AR's and was familiar with them in general but had never shot one.

    I've now done a teardown of the beast and taken it for a 200 round sighting in and testing spin and for what it's worth I have a few observations.

    --The myth of the AR being a very sophisticated space-age machine far too complex for the average user has been completely busted as far as I'm concerned. It's as easy to tear down to the basic cleaning level as an AK-47, and easier than an SKS. It's very intuitive.

    --The second level of tearing down is slightly more complicated. This basically includes everything starting with the gas tube removal. But if you follow the easily-obtained manuals it works well. If you try to jam things in there or rip them out you'll be in trouble. But even so I would class it as less complex at this level than, for example, a Winchester 94.

    --One issue I have is the somewhat anachronistic rear sight elevator which is calibrated to start at 300 meters. Seriously? They stopped doing that with much more potent war rifles in WW2, so it's odd to see such a distant zero on this much more modern rifle. But as with everything else about the AR-15, there was an easily found fix. I followed the instructions for the Lt. Col. Chuck Santose and presto with some turns of an allen wrench I had it set up for a 200 meter zero with a crossover at 50 yards.

    --After that sighting in was a breeze. I've sighted in a lot of very cranky military rifles but this one offered nary a protest. I selected a heavier weight bullet to favor the twist and fired groups of 3 at 25 yards to get windage set up. Then per the Santose method I moved out to 50 yards to finish adjusting the front sight. Adjustment was a little tricky without the tool, but it was intuitive. The "up" arrow threw me until I realized that they were describing bullet point of impact.

    --Ammo weight is nothing short of astonishing. I go to the range by bicycle so I have to hump every round I want to shoot 15 miles down there. With a Mosin a few hours of shooting means a serious chunk of weight. But with the wee tiny 5.56 rounds, I found I had enough for hours of shooting with room left over in the backpack.

    --Why didn't anyone ever point out that every AR-15 is a breakdown model? That's a major selling point on expensive hunting rifles but here with the simple pushing of two flintlock-style pins you have two halves that can easily be stowed. I found the upper on this with the 16" barrel fits perfectly in the Alaska Sportsman carbine scabbard and the lower fits in the main day pack easily. I honestly had no idea breakdown was so simple. It carries like it isn't even there, esp. compared with a big bolt action warhorse.

    --Shooting is easy, of course. The flaws I could see from the first session are a pretty poor trigger, a lot of rattling in recoil and difficulty in steadying it given the very light barrel. I know the trigger is a very easy one to upgrade. To steady it in the stances I'm looking for a good hasty sling. I've got a single point sling but that appears to be useless as a shooting aid. The rattling around is another matter. That's a function of the light weight I think. I feel almost no recoil, but the thing bounces around a lot. Maybe that's what those forward handles are for?

    --Accessorizing seems to be a major industry. The guy who sold it to me tried to get me to buy an ACOG that cost nearly as much as the rifle. But it doesn't appear much of it is really necessary. I'm mainly looking for a shooting sling and some more magazines for training.

    --The direct gas impingement system is actually a brilliant idea. There's no moving parts to fiddle with. I can see how it would be trouble if the thin steel straw got full of crud, but you also won't have a bent op rod on this thing.

    --Cleanup is a breeze. The bore was back to fresh after a few sweeps.

    --The biggest limiting factor of this rifle is the cartridge. As noted it is a breeze to carry, but it is wee tiny. The ballistic performance is meager and the bullets are too small. Of course there are a growing number of upgrades you can easily swap over to. The 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC are very interesting and have had impressive results hunting hogs from what I've heard. I expect to do some exploring in this area, but the low cost of 5.56 and light weight make it excellent for training.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  2. Ramone

    Ramone Member

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    KUDOS!

    You are now the proud owner of the greatest battle instrument ever devised.

    Some comments on your notes:

    Millions of raw recruits have been trained to maintain the AR platform. It ain't rocket surgery.

    Tearing down to the gas tube? for the love of god, what the hell did you do that for!?!?

    The M16 will engage man sized targets to 500 yards, and every USMC qualifies at that range in boot camp. 300 m *is* way more than will usually be used, but it's nice to know it's there. Use the 0-2 aperture for shooting when moving, use the unmarked for any shot you want to count. In Fact, never use the 0-2 at all- all shots should count.

    the correct 'tool' for setting the front sight is one round of 5.56 ball ammo.

    Most of those that poo-poo the AR and the 5.56x45 cartridge have never had to carry any rifle any distance.

    Good on you, biking to the range- you got heart, kid!

    The trigger will break in pretty quickly, and there is an easy trick for reducing the take up:

    http://www.longislandfirearms.com/forum/m-1291074353.96125/

    obtain and learn to use a 1907 pattern sling, like this one:

    http://prostores3.megawebservers.co...e-6/National-Match-Police-Tactical/Detail.bok

    The use of the 1907 sling is the mark of a true rifleman.

    http://www.turnersling.com/faq_how_use.html

    Those forward handles are the dumbest damn things I have ever seen. The Magpul Angled forward grip, on the other hand, is simply brilliant:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    E. Stoner is right up there with JMB in my book. That 'thin steel straw' gets cleaned with a jet of white hot gas every time you pull the trigger. Don't worry about it.

    The 5.56x45mm is capable of taking any animal in North America with proper shot placement. Without proper shot placement, no caliber will take any animal. Don't underestimate the poodle-shooter.

    PS- good call on the B.A.D. lever- the locking the bolt was always my least favorite part of the manual of arms for the M16- but get that silly cockstrap off that magazine.
     
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The angled forward looks ideal. I'll give it a try. I've used the M1907's with bolt actions many times, but how are they for toting the carbine? Will the magazine and pistol grip jab you if you don't have one of the more modern slings?

    I always tear down any new firearm I get, mostly to learn about it but also to see if there are any trouble spots. The tube in this case had some carbon build up but nothing a soak in cleaner and pipe brushes didn't get out. I'm following the Marine manual for the steps, which seems to work well.
     
  4. Ramone

    Ramone Member

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    Do note that for the Angled grip, you'll have to put a rail on your lower handguard to mount it.

    I prefer to carry the AR 'African Style'- muzzle down on the support side, but it's ok on the strong side, muzzle up, too.

    for Mags, I prefer the 20 round over the 30 - in fact, when the USMC was switching over, my platoon universally kept the 20s over the 30s.

    They are less likely to hang up when moving, better when slung, and they let you get way down in the dirt when going prone.
     
  5. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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  6. Sky

    Sky Member

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    Yes and check out your ammo supplier or Aimsurplus and get you a few different types of weighted rounds to play with. Did not see the twist of your barrel but there are some match grade 223s at 75 gr that might change your mind a bit on the little bullet? I honestly shoot 62 gr mostly only because I have enough it does not bother me popping a few off. The match stuff I save for pig popping but many others would probably work just fine. There is nothing wrong with the 55 gr for sure I guess it just make me feel better shooting the heavier bullets when hunting?
     
  7. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    interesting write up and perspective!


    no, the vertical foregrips are NOT for steadying it. they are for driving it rapidly left and right to hit large, close targets quickly.

    the way to make it more stable is to bring your support hand closer to your body, not farther away, if you are shooting positional. leverage, you know. take a look at the odcmp.org website in the US AMU's coaching section for pictures of very stable standing positions

    in the future, don't stick anything in the gas tube. it is self-cleaning and you will cause more problems than you solve by sticking pipe cleaners in it.
     
  8. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Its a 6520 so 1/7" twist.
     
  9. Sky

    Sky Member

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    1/7 is good should never run out of twist or bullet options!!
     
  10. Ramone

    Ramone Member

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    I'd advise just the opposite- long control base=finer control.

    Above all, do not use the 'gangster grip' (support hand on the magwell). in the event of a catastrophic failure, the blast goes mostly out the magwell. Plus, it is the carbine equivalent of holding your pistol sideways.
     
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I was doing some more stances with it and it seems to me that it's the shape and texture of that forward grip that's causing me troubles. I need it to be thinner and less slick. More like the stock on the rifles I'm used to shooting. All the options seem to add more, and I want less not more.

    It could just be a question of getting used to it. I have an inclination to leave this one as is. The classic looks fit my high drag, low speed lifestyle.

    Hmmm. If I do that with this Colt and my arm length, I'll be grabbing the end of the muzzle! Ouch.

    It is 1:7 as noted. It seems to like 62 grain bullets. I used the PMC green tip for zeroing. I fed it some "match grade" 75's and it scattered them. I'll be doing more tweaking to see what it shoots best with but so far I'm getting 2" groups at 50 which is fine for my purposes.

    It's odd you folks say never touch the gas tube, since it is in fact on the list for periodic maintenance in the manuals I've looked at. And it did indeed have some soot in it.

    Plus if I don't remove it, how can I do like the operators and use it as a snorkel to breath underwater while the bad guys are after me?

    As an aside--is there any real reason to smack the mags against my head? I keep doing it but the rifle isn't shooting any better or worse.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  12. Sky

    Sky Member

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    Wow you are planning ahead!! If you can breath through that thing I am impressed!! Honestly no need to remove and many of the guys who are recognized for their knowledge of the weapon system say leave it alone; it really is self cleaning. If you end up getting a .22lr conversion kit and shooting some really dirty 22lr ammo just shoot a couple of 223 when finished with the 22 and all will be well....not even sure if that is necessary but I usually do because some of my ARs do not get shot all the time and stay in the safe. There are ARs that have shot 1000s of rounds and only had some lube squirted at them!! No kidding!! But it seems to be the general consensus leave you snorkel alone! By the way that was a great write up!
     
  13. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    just so we're clear, i was responding to this statement:

    for fast shots on multiple targets, 3gun style, you want your hand fairly far forward (and farther than you can do on a carbine-length gas block without burning yourself, which is why people put rifle-length guards on them occasionally)

    for slow accurate shots, CMP/NRA HP style, you want your hands as close to your center as possible. Usually, the support hand is holding the handguard adjacent to the mag well.

    some forearms are smaller than others. i think troy, noveske, and PRI all make low profile models. my KAC forearm is fairly small too.

    the gas tube will always have some soot in it, but it will not build up. it's not a problem.
     
  14. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Thanks for the input! For the record I will leave the gas tube alone from now on and will stop drinking Dr. Pepper with it.
     
  15. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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  16. JoeMal

    JoeMal Member

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    I walked away from a helluva deal on one of these last week and I'm kicking myself for it. Oh well, moving to Texas is more important to me than a gun

    Thanks for the report I enjoyed it
     
  17. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    taliv: $110 for a gas tube. I laugh every time I see that.
     
  18. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    sam, yeah, it's pretty silly. guess that one's going to be "in stock" for a long time.
     
  19. mizzlep

    mizzlep Member

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    Nice rifle. I don't hunt, but some of the larger loads for 556 should be more than adequate for hunting medium game such as hogs, etc.
     
  20. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Member

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    Excellent write-up, that was an enjoyable read!

    No, they are NOT rocket-science to work on at all and keep running. I've rebarrel my MATCH gun in the garage TWICE, and the current barrel is shooting great groups and scores for me. I have a target in the car, it's 2" for the first 5-shots at 200 yards, prone with the irons, NO load work-up. So...

    Careful with how tight you sling up that lightweight carbine when you go to shoot. You will pull your POA/POI off if you really torque down on it. That's the downside to having the sling-swivel attached to the gas block. You can add some pressure to steady it, but not a whole lot.

    That 1-7" twist barrel is probably the most versatile option for the .223/5.56 IMO. You can shoot anything available in the caliber without worries, from the 52gr pills all the way up to 77gr HPBTs (OTMs if you insist) and even the long 80gr VLD-type slugs can be used.

    And don't worry about the gas-tube! Mine is on it's 3rd barrel now, figure 9000+ rounds without issue. Yeah, I should replace it at the next rebarrel. Otherwise, it gets ignored until it stops functioning, kind of like most people treat a bicycle headset. ;)
     
  21. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    Congrats on the rifle. I see the rifle is marked for .223, but do you know if the barrel is chambered for 5.56 too? I think the .223 is a great round and you definitely keyed on one of its better redeeming features, the weight.

    As far as more-power type upgrades, many of the variant cartridges are very easy swaps. Right now Palmetto State Armory has come out with their own 6.8 SPC option that is getting very good reviews and is down right cheap (relatively :D) http://palmettostatearmory.com/2202.php

    Enjoy the rifle!
     
  22. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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    Its a 6520, so though the lower is marked ".223" the barrel has a 5.56 chamber and is marked accordingly.
     
  23. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    Thanks. I'm not very familiar with true Colts.
     
  24. john5036

    john5036 Member

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    It covers both really. I had asked about the AFG on a carbine length in another thread and decided to try one out for myself. If you employ a carbine length handguard, that locking of your wrist to get the ring and pinky on the guard can get uncomfortable, and so the magwell grip became an option. If you do the extended support arm grip, it still alleviates your wrist by allowing your ring and pinky finger to have support, taking tension off your index, middle, and naturally, again the wrist.

    YMMV, but the AFG2 is a little shorter in length and extends far enough on a carbine rail to do the extended forearm grip. If you do CQB type drills, it's right where it needs to be to keep your support arm comfy, and your grip solid.

    It's a great little accessory, and worth a shot at trying out if the vertical foregrips or the traditional rifle grip isn't comfortable. I, for one, really like the AFG2.
     
  25. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I had exactly the opposite experience. I like most MAGPUL products and so I bought a pair of the AFGs and installed them on a POF and Vz.58. After shooting a 2-gun match with the POF w/AFG I realized that I hated it. It forced my hand/wrist into a completely unnatural position. After the match, I asked another shooter if I could try his Noveske with a short TangoDown vertical grip and I loved it. It offered so much more versatility and felt very natural, so the following week I removed both AFGs and installed a LaRue FUG on the POF and haven't looked back. I'll be adding the cheaper TangoDown to the Vz.58.
     
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