Originally, when we got M4A1s and SOPMOD gear, the only documents that made it to us after Group HQ coonfingered the gear were these little 11×17 posters. All the manuals (and some of the gear) were gone. [Bear with us on the photos.
It will take a while to get them into this post! It should be good now].
When we last left our attempted clone of our Afghanistan 2002-03 rifle, we had taken it to the range and zeroed it with M193 (our indoor range doesn’t permit M855 due to the steel penetrators), but only using the iron sights. We had made already the first small changes to tweak the rifle to ape its wartime predecessor, including:
- A Colt 14.5″ M6920LE Short Barreled Rifle.
- Replacing Colt’s factory Rogers Super-Stoc with the actual Colt stock from our wartime gun (the unit dumpstered them when SOPMOD stocks came in — and a friend still on duty dumpster-dove for us).
- Replacing the front handguards with the correct vintage Knight’s rail system and VFG. Yes, we know VFGs are out of style in 2015, but they were still the cat’s ass in 2002, and that’s what we’re building. We’re going to do a few other things wrong before we’re done, to keep our SBR vintage correct.
Status quo ante. This is the carbine at the end of last effort, in December 2014.
Three things that we were still looking for were less common: a Knight’s Armament Company flash suppressor/mount for the Knight’s suppressor; a vintage-correct ACOG TA01NSN; and an AN/PEQ-2 laser target indicator/illuminator. Each of these posed certain problems; the KAC mounts were intermittent in availability at retail (although the company includes two with each suppressor); the ACOG has since been improved, upgraded, and (in military service) bowdlerized by a militant atheist driving Satan’s own horsemen, military lawyers, before him; and the PEQ-2 is subject to ownership and ITAR limitations; its infrared laser can be hazardous to human vision on some settings.
There is also a plague of counterfeit optics on the market.
Moreover, some significant percentage of the mil-spec ACOGs and the PEQs on the market are stolen government property. More than one buyer has found that stolen property was soon followed by a CID, NCIS or FBI agent who is looking to retrieve it as evidence in a criminal investigation; others have discovered that their purchases were stolen only when they sent the item for service, and discovered that it wasn’t coming back, but instead going back to its last legitimate owner.
It is possible, fortunately, to check by serial number, with a simple phone call. For example, Trijicon customer service will look up an ACOG for you if you simply dial them up at (800) 338-0563.
KAC suppressor mount/flash hider
(We received the mounts, but not the suppressors, before the deployment; it turns out that some of our remote company’s SOPMOD gear was diverted by Alabama boys better connected to Group HQ). The mount didn’t go on right away in 2001 when we got the guns, and it’s not going to go on this one right away, either. We thought we’d include it in this rundown but we’re out of space and time. So we’ll do that along with an overview of how to change out AR muzzle devices right, which is trickier than you think. There are two separate ways to time an A2-type flash suppressor: using shims or using a crush washer. The Knight’s unit uses shims, which is more fiddly for the armorer, but more predictable in outcome. The shims make up for the fact that different muzzles may be machined slightly differently with reference to where the threads start around the clock. Since it’s important that the two blank “slot” areas of the flash suppressor be underneath (there are some tricks with this we’ll mention when we do the install story) then there’s a trick to aligning and torquing the muzzle device.
The one we have was generously sent to us by frequent commenter Miles.
ACOG TA01NSN, 2003 vintage SN 0427xx
One thing we wanted was a correct (or close) vintage ACOG with the ACOG4X32JN8:12 marking on it. It is a reference to the Christian Bible, which in the King James Version says:
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The inscription that threw the press into a tizzy. ACOG TA01NSN
Fairly on point for an illuminated optic intended to save lives. Of course, an over-ten-year-old optic that depends on tritium for illumination is going to be dead, dead, dead. Fortunately we’re not planning on starting a war any time soon, and as it turns out, it’s possible (if expensive) to have the ACOG thoroughly overhauled at the factory. Before we’d do that, we’d want to know if JN8:12 could stay.
When this inscription was discovered, the media, atheists, and anti-Christian groups exploded into outrage. The company, which had put Bible verse references on every product since its founding by a Christian, Glyn Bindon, backed down. In the military, the inscriptions were removed pursuant to threats by a former military lawyer named Mikey Weinstein, a militant atheist of Jewish extraction and totalitarian inclinations, who is vocal in his hatred for Christians, and who seeks to impose atheism as the Established State Religion of the United States.
We called Trijicon to determine when the scope was made. Trijicon customer service heard the serial number and the pleasant lady said, “That doesn’t sound that old… wow, it is.” It was made in 2003, and we confirmed that it was not ever a military-owned optic.
Trijicon can make the scope new again, for $570, which provides, “a thorough overhaul, restored tritium illumination, and a new warranty.” And no, they won’t grind the inscription off, like the bible-haters make them do to military scopes. You can set it up right through the web site (although it’s a very good idea to ring them with the serial number first. If it’s stolen government property, they not only won’t overhaul it, you won’t get it back). The overhaul seems like a good deal, but apart from the dead illum, this scope is in nice shape and just flat doesn’t need it.
Mounting the scope is child’s play — the factory mount isn’t exactly QD, but is easy to set up and quite repeatable in terms of zero. If you’re grieved by the effort involved in spinning two thumbscrews, maybe SF is not for you.
Numbers on the rails can be used to replicate or repeat a scope-positioning situation.
Back in 2001-02, we sometimes had to put the ACOGs in suboptimal position to allow the carbines to rack in the modified M12 racks our unit had at the time. When we went downrange, we lost that garrison problem, and now that we lock guns in big, roomy safes, we don’t need to play scope-position games.
We initially positioned it here, based on memory. Checking eye relief, we discovered our memory was wrong.
The ACOG finally wound up here, flush with the front of the receiver. This is the position it’s in in period photos. Background: a framed pair of the psyops posters we handed out to Afghans, explaining 9/11.
All that’s left is to zero it.
This was actually the first item we acquired, and the most expensive. (If someone offers you a cheap one, see comments above about stolen government property).
It actually comes with the bracket you need (called the Rail Grabber) attached to the PEQ itself. There are also other adapters available; we used to run these on pre-M4A1 guns with an adapter that attached right to the barrel. By the mid-oughts, a lot of guys had replaced these factory mounts.
Since 2002 we’ve changed how we use this and similar devices and tend to deploy it on the top rail, but because we’re repopping the 2002 setup, on the right rail it goes.
As it turns out, according to the book, the right side where we ran it was not doctrinal — top or left was. Lacking these books, then, we didn’t know that. Picture on the left shows the pre-rail-era adapter.
What the AN/PEQ-2 is, is an infrared (only) laser pointer, aiming point, and floodlight. It does have to be zeroed which is done under NODs. You can start with a boresight.
WRONG. To install the PEQ, you have to remove one of the rail covers by pressing down on its center point. A screwdriver scratches the metal gratuitously….
A small block of wood, or any other non-marring tool, doesn’t. With the center of the spring depressed, the rail cover slides off.
This was an extremely useful unit downrange, ub a variety of ways. And it will be useful if we ever contract over there again. It doesn’t really add much practical to this rifle, but it’s essential to its gestalt.
The rail grabber snaps into place and then is tightened with the thumbscrew….
Then the PEQ fits on. A single screw holds it in place; the mating angles of the Rail Grabber and the PEQ-2’s molded case supposedly ensure alignment.
Because of the power of this illuminator, it’s extremely important to leave the blue training plug in place. It’s eye-safe with that in place; with it removed, it’s quite hazardous, and we only took those out downrange. Mission first, safety always.
Apart from a general lack of damage, abuse and dust, the Colt 6921 now closely resembles its wartime granddaddy. If we knew where the Taliban cells around here were, we could start getting the damage, abuse and dust up to a more-authentic level.
There are still a couple more details to be done. The vane switch needs to be rigged and installed, batteries need to be put in the AN/PEQ-2 (kind of pointless if we’re not going to be using it in night combat! But we have been weighing everything) and the aforementioned flash suppressor/suppressor-mount be installed.
If we were actually running this gun today, we’d make it a little less Old Guy Gear™ by doing the following:
- Moving the PEQ to the top rail or replacing it with a dual-purpose visible/IR illuminator;
- Adding a sling. We were still all 80s Ragnar Skool, “slings are for the weak” in 2001. We’re less ‘tarded now.
- Replacing the vertical fore-grip with an angled fore-grip.
We’d probably stick with the TA01NSN, even after using the Elcan Spectre DR from the SOPMOD II kit.
The Colt M4A1 — one of the ones we got to replace older fixed-handle M16 Carbines and proto-M4s — was one of only two long guns we personally took out of the box new (a lot of sniper rifles came in but those guys kept the unboxing ritual to themselves). And that’s in a 30-year career. And then we carried it, downrange, on strikes beyond enemy positions (it’s hard to call them “lines.”) We actually took these guns, our little bunch of guys, and we lived the slogan on our distinctive unit insignia, De Oppresso Liber. We did indeed liberate the oppressed.
For all these reasons and more, reproducing this firearm justified all the expense and time that went into it. We’ll probably be dragging it around the house and terrorizing Kid and Small Dog, mumbling phrases in Dari for weeks now.