Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

AR-15 Lower: How a Midsize Manufacturer Does It

Most manufacturers guard their manufacturing processes about the way KFC guards Colonel Sanders’s 11 Herbs and Spices Coca-Cola guards the Coke recipe. They would no more show you a video of lower receiver machining than they would give you the product. Indeed, some mnufacturers not only won’t let us tour their plants, they won’t give us still photos, talk about processes, or even let their own workers bring smartphones or cameras in certain areas.

A time- and money-saving way to do a standard process can be that big of a competitive advantage.

But here’s midsize manufacturer Palmetto State Defense using a 5-axis machine to take AR-15 lower receiver forgings to 80%.

To us, it was interesting to watch how they rough milled the magazine well to approximate shape, and then CNC broached it to final shape (the rasp of the broach is unmistakeable). The end mill removes lots of metal fast, but the broach gets net shape and surface finish up to standard.

Note how much coolant/cutting fluid is used on these operations!

The link at the YouTube page no longer takes you to a buy page; PSD no longer sells the 80% lowers, apparently. They do make some attractive finished rifles, and one thing they’re selling is 200 rifles that were, supposedly, used in the Range 15 movie. (At press time, they still have 92 5.56 and 95 .300 Blackout rifles in stock). See ’em here.

Coming: a 10/22 Chassis Prototyped by 3D Printing

Rifle chassis are an “in” technology right now. They allow you to trade off the lighter weight and greater comfort of a polymer or wooden stock for the flexibility, rigidity, and accessory-compatibility of the typical chassis.

In the military the chassis is a good idea because the same rifle must often be reconfigured for different shooters and missions. Civilians might not need to do that, but it’s nice to have, say, adjustable pull length and cheekpiece position for a day at the range with the whole family.


It was inevitable that someone would combine this popular accessory with the world’s second-most-popular accessory host, the Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle. In this case, Canadian outfit Spectre Ballistics has designed, and is preparing for production, an economical and fairly light 10/22 stock. It’s not on their website yet, but they’ve shown the prototype — which was 3D Printed.

The actual stocks will be CNC billet aluminum.

There’s a pretty good discussion of the stock and its design and the manufacturing schedule on Reddit. In time, the stock will be available for pre-order on the Spectre Ballistics website (not yet!) in KeyMod and M-lok versions. Target price is $200 CAD, and, unlike American firms, Canadian accessory firms are not under ITAR pressure from their counterpart to our State Department.

dudley_doright(They only have to bowdlerize their 10/22 magazines because Dudley Dimwit of the Mounties can’t tell rifles from pistols).

This is the 3rd version of a 10/22 chassis I’ve been working on. Now I just need to do this one up in aluminium.

It has a KeyMod forend and fully free-floats the barrel. It also locks the action into the chassis using a clamp system better than any factory stock. I’ll also do an M-lok forend too.

Here’s the earlier prototype stock, for comparison’s sake. The main part of this one is CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum (a strong alloy often used for things like automotive engine blocks and cylinder heads, and aircraft structural parts like landing gear struts and trunnions).


The final stock will be CNC machined and anodized black. His explanation for making the stock from 6061-T6 aluminum rather than polymer makes perfect sense:

The idea here is to reinforce the action and stiffen the whole thing up. A quality polymer would be nearly the same weight since areas would need to be thicker. Also going synthetic would probably cost $100,000 in tooling for the molds.

Parts are CNC’d out of house, assembled in-house. Yes I have my own printer.

While the Canadian regulatory regime is superior from an exporter’s point of view, there’s things he can’t do. Such as? Make a bullpup stock. One of the bizarre disconnects in Great White North gun law is that, a factory bullpup design (Tavor) or a short-barreled rifle by US standards, is perfectly legal. A bullpup conversion stock? Prohibited. (“Prohibited” is a Canadian regulatory class that is not quite plain-English-meaning “prohibited,” but extremely difficult to own for an ordinary Canadian citizen).

Meanwhile, Canadians, Americans, and probably anybody else who can own a 10/22 can pre-order the sock sometime around the beginning of November, if all goes as planned.


Bubba’s Molested Mosin

This is better than the usual Bubba job; it’s merely poor conceptually and poorer workmanship, not the usual on-crack conceptually and drunk monkey workmanship.

Yes, that’s damning with faint praise. For crying out loud, look at it:


Bubba is not utterly lacking in self-awareness in this case. He titled both his imgur picture and his Reddit thread, “Ruined Russian Rifle: Shortened ’26 Tula Mosin.”

The Reddit crowd seemed to like it. It may say something about the end of the gun culture this Bubba is coming from that his nick there and on YouTube is “BooliganAirsoft.” He suggested that he was aiming for a “scout rifle,” conceptually.

That was the goal, something cheap, easy to shoot, short, and still with plenty of power behind it. This thing was completed for less than even a garbage blown out round receiver currently costs.

bubba-mosin-marksAssuming he got his ’26 hex receiver back when they were going for $75, that might be true, but… he’s put a couple hundred dollars and a gun that was now worth $300-400 together and produced a parts gun worth maybe $75. That’s not winning.

I’ve been sitting on this ’26 numbers matching Tula Mosin for the last 12 or so years, figured I’d finally ruin it. Had the barrel cut down to 16.5″ and finished with an 11 degree target crown, and threaded with 5/8×24. This was done on a CNC machine by a local friend at a large company who makes sweet gun things that we all know and love. Fitted a cheap two chamber muzzle brake which had “MOLON LABE” on the side, so I blued over that.

Stripped Olga’s shellac off the stock and refinished it with a simple poly coating. Nothing that’ll last forever, but I like how it turned out. Stock was a retrofit, no exciting markings to be found. Drilled and machined out the stock to fit the barrel length and reuse the stock dog collar sling. Cut the upper handguard to fit as well.

Here’s the Bubba job on the nose end of the stock:


It wouldn’t be a Bubba job without a Chinese schloptic (a portmanteau of schlock and optic), and here Bubba does not disappoint:

Aiming this thing is a piece of cake with a Kinetic Concealment reflex sight fitted on a 20mm rail adapter. This rail adapter took a ton of sanding to fit square, but it works and holds solid. Has a drilled anti-walk screw in the front, and it seems solid. I’m shocked the lens hasn’t popped off while firing this yet.


The Kinetic Concealment schloptic is a $50 Chinese imitation of a reflex, same as the ones sold to airsoft kiddies.

But what about that magazine? Well, Bubba wouldn’t be Bubba if it worked. It doesn’t, but that doesn’t dim this Bubba’s pride in his creation:

The 10 round mag is from Howling Raven. It needs a little love to feed properly, and I’m still having issues past 8 rounds, but the company has been great to work with at troubleshooting it.

So, this outfit that makes junk for Bubbas is sympathetic on the phone when Bubba calls with trouble? But they don’t actually fix the problem? Sounds like a match made in heaven!

Another commenter had similar problems with the same company’s Bubbamag for Mosins:

I really wish that HR mag would work. The follower (which is the spring) over tilts and jams like a [censored] on my mosin. On the plus side, their muzzle brake is pretty [censored] nice and cheap. Still have to run it to the range to see how well it works.

To which Airsoft Bubba replied:

I had to drown mine in FrogLube to get it to feed semi consistently. My issues are that past 8 rounds, they start to stack and the rim gets stuck in the body. The lube helps with that, but still, I stick with loading 7 rounds for now. For actual important shooting, I’d still stick with the stock 5 round setup for now.

FrogLube. Naturally. He was out of FireClean.

Finishing off the stock is a rubber pad to give me some extra length of pull (6’2″) and a pouch to hold a few extra rounds and my custom made Trogdor patch from Whiskey Two-Four. It’s called Trogdor because, well, it burninates pretty bad. Daylight fireballs are impressive and you feel like you just opened the oven.

Gee, like any short-barreled Mosin (like the ’38, ’44, and Type 53). What a discovery.

Shooting this is a blast, literally and figuratively. Accuracy is actually improved as the old crown was hot garbage water. I’ve taken it out to 75 yards to pop clay pigeons so far, longer range testing is still in the works, but I’m liking the results so far.

Here’s a video of the shooting:

And here’s a video of the build, if you dare:


Ow! Defoor Disses the ACOG

Defoor borrowed this elderly ACOG from the element he was training.

Defoor borrowed this elderly ACOG from the element he was training.

When the Elcan Spectre DR came online to replace the ACOG TA01NSN, we loved it — for about 30 minutes. It was a beautiful piece of glass (at its staggering price, it should be) and the dual magnification — a flip of a lever migrates you from 1 to 4x and zero holds like a rock — was that rare thing, a marketing feature that action guys could actually use. It was bulkier than the ACOG, but had less stuff to snag on your stuff. But lots of us fell out of love with it nearly as fast. Its weak spot was that, while it was stronger than the typical sporting scope, it was no match for the ACOG’s anvil-like qualities. (Over time, of course, operators could break the early ACOGs too). Trijicon is really good about standing behind these old scopes and will go through one and update the tritium, for example, for a reasonable charge ($150 last we checked).

But that was then, and this is now. And here comes Kyle Defoor to put down our favorite (if elderly) combat optic. He writes:

Getting some time on the ACOG this week. Some dudes still use it/are issued it as their primary. My department is to show them how to use whatever they got as good as they can.

To be a professional in this biz you got to be able to show up and shoot whatever, whenever completely stock and sometimes use the gear of the customer if you don’t have what’s needed……and with that, thanks to the guys for loaning me one to rock while we trained together.

And he accompanied it with the usual entertaining array of hashtags:

#defoorproformanceshooting #acog #training #carbine #5days #runwhatyoubrung #makethebestofit

And therein lies a valid point. There’s always going to be something new and technically a bit better than last year’s (or in the case of  the TA01 ACOG, decade’s) model. Chasing an optimized “best” rig is not worth the trouble for most people. First, if you are a pro user some guy way up the chain from you is probably going to dictate what you use, or if you’re lucky, dictate what options you have to choose from.

This “dictation” isn’t too restrictive in some cases, like if you’re a SEAL, PJ, SF, etc. But in some other cases, like an Army support troop or Marine rifleman, you will be told what you will be carrying and will be ordered to like it. At that point, you can whine about it, sign up for selection (where, should you succeed, you will discover that you’re still working for The Man, just at a higher level), or take Kyle’s advice and run what you brung and make the best of it.

Fortunately, the baseline weapons and optics available to grunts today are quite good stuff. The fact that they don’t have this year’s shine on ’em, or weren’t on the cover of REAL OPERATORS BUY THIS magazine last month, doesn’t matter. Real operators can operate with sticks and stones, hell, with their bare knuckles; any step up from that is gravy. And you too can shoot better and more effectively with the weapons you have now, and money and time spent on ammo and training will almost always have a return on investment far beyond what you get from money and time spent picking out and acquiring new and better gear.

If you’re going to be using a carbine over a wide range of, well, ranges and lighting conditions, etc., the ACOG is still a good choice. If your most likely employment is close up, or even indoors, then a red dot is the way to go. And in both cases, training and practice can let you extend the use of either to ranges where the other selection would have been optimum.

Armalite Images at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Via the former Fairchild, FAEC, Fairchild Republic, etc., archives, the National Air and Space Museum has acquired a number of original Armalite publicity and industrial photographs. Thanks to armeiro on this thread in the ARFCOM Retro Forum, we’ve had a look at ’em.

NASM Caption: Exterior of an Armalite company building, possibly the firm's initial headquarters at 6567 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The sign bears the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation's flying horse insignia; Armalite was a division of the Fairchild Corporation.

NASM Caption: Exterior of an Armalite company building, possibly the firm’s initial headquarters at 6567 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The sign bears the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation’s flying horse insignia; Armalite was a division of the Fairchild Corporation.

We can confirm that that does appear to be the door of 6567 Santa Monica, still standing today, according to this Real Estate listing, and this Google Map image. The building is so subdivided that that unit is now a single 700 square foot shop or office. The now somewhat threadbare brick building has been whitewashed, and has grown a layer of ornamental stone near the (now single) door, and the parking lot’s been rearranged for more spaces, but it’s clearly the same place.

So if you live in LA, you can go and stand on the steps where Stoner, L. James Sullivan, and all the Armalite innovators went to work.

Technically, we’re violating NASM’s copyright restrictions by rehosting these images, but we’re (1) doing it as Fair Use and (2) feeding them some corrections and updates. Like this one:

Here’s a guy the Museum calls “an unidentified man” demonstrating “an Armalite AR-10 battle rifle equipped with an ENERGA anti-tank rifle grenade.” The ENERGA grenade was a Belgian design in worldwide use at the time. We’re pretty sure most of you can identify the gentleman in question.


He is Eugene Stoner! NASM also dates this photo “circa 1960,” but by 1960 AR-10 production was underway at AI (based, of course, on earlier engineering of the production rifle), and Armeiro identifies this specific prototype:

This particular unit was a one off prototype from the second U.S. AR-10 model,it has a early design bipod and a reinforced barrel end section in order to fire ENERGA anti-tank rifle grenades,as seen in the photo.

This specific prototype is in the Reed Knight collection. We would guess the photo to be nearer to 1956 or 1957, assuming a prototype was still being used for publicity photos that late. Note that the rifle Stoner holds does not appear to have the canonical AR-10 top mounted gas tube; in early prototypes it came off the right side of the barrel. (This may have been due to an Army Ordnance objection to top mounted gas tubes as risky to shooters; in reality, Army Ordnance of the day was hostile to anything competitive with in-house designs, and the AR-10 was a potential M14 slayer).

Here’s an AR-5 prototype (survival rifle, bolt-action centerfire ancestor of the .22 semi AR-7), taking a ducking with a bathing beauty:


Born about 1940, this pretty lady is probably somebody’s great-grandmother now! But she can’t match that floating AR-5 for progeny.

In another error, the NASM refers to the “AR-5 Parasniper Rifle.” The Parasniper was the first Armalite product, before that name was even formalized, a bolt-action rifle that used aluminum forgings and fiberglass stocks to achieve lowest-in-class weight. It was retroactively numbered the AR-1.


The FN 49, the Rifle that Didn’t Change the World


A couple of SAFNS enjoy retirement. (All images embiggen with a click).

If the FN Model 1949, also called the SAFN (Semi-Automatic FN), had been, as intended, the FN 36, or at least the FN 38, it might have changed the world. But its development took longer than planned and was interrupted by war — its designer exiled, its plans hidden, and then, its manufacturer in ruins and needing to rebuild.

During his exile, Dieudonné Saive supervised the construction of over 50 prototypes of versions of the rifle that later would become the SAFN, for his British hosts at Enfield. Some of these prototypes still exist today, but the British Army was never serious about a semi-auto during the war; British soldiers and leaders were happy with the old reliable Enfield bolt action.

Saive returned to an FN whose only boast was that it was less destroyed that most other Continental gun factories, despite the consequences of Allied bombing and German looting. But even as clean-up and restoration continued, he worked to bring his long-delayed semi-auto rifle design to life.

One benefit of this long gestation was that the SAFN was rather thoroughly debugged when it shipped, and it suffered fewer of the teething problems that other rifles that had had a more direct path to production, like the Tokarev, the M1 Garand, or even the AK, did.


But, it launched into a market saturated with high-quality arms that were surplus to the needs of downsizing military victors (and entirely-disarmed vanquished). An FN salesman could, were he worthy of the name at all, make a case that the SAFN was a better rifle than an M1, or the Mausers still used around the world at the time. But that case, assuming arguendo that it was strong when the cost of an M1 equaled the cost of an FN 49, was appreciably weaker and harder to make when the M1s were flowing at one-half, one-quarter, one-tenth of the cost of new production. Or free. The United States had literally millions of surplus M1s, and they rearmed many of the nations of Europe, giving guns in hopes of gaining influence — or as a reward for wartime alliances.

Some nations, like France, developed their own rifles in pursuit of national independence. “Thanks for your M1s, but we need a French rifle as soon as possible/” Indeed, in the fifteen years after World War II, many more nations than are in the business today developed their own firearms, even small nations like Indonesia, Egypt, and the Dominican Republic. It was a far cry from today’s consolidated market, where much of the world is content buying ARs and AKs from distant lands. (Indeed, the four former gun-making nations mentioned in this paragraph are using or going to imported ARs, AKs, or a combination thereof).

Venezuela was one of the nations that bought the SAFN. Notice the fine figure of the stock.

Venezuela was one of the nations that bought the SAFN. Notice the fine figure of the stock.

Other nations were on the outs with, or at least cautious about becoming dependent on, the US or USSR; between the World Wars they had bought from the neutrals, Belgium and Czechoslovakia, and with CS no longer neutral, the Belgians had a look in. And in this market context, FN designer Dieudonné Saive launched what may have been the finest World War II generation semi-auto rifle. Just in time for the world to have absorbed and fallen for the German intermediate cartridge assault rifle concept.

Technical Information

The SAFN is an old-school combat rifle, with wood (usually French Walnut, often highly figured) stocks, and the balance of the components being steel, often machined from forgings. It is heavy, compared to the modern standard, but it’s about equivalent to its contemporaries, the M1 Garand or the French MAS Mle. 1949 (the Tokarev SVT is noticeably lighter). The most common finish on original guns is paint over parkerizing, which makes for an ugly, chip-prone, but corrosion-resistant coating. These guns are all human retirement age (production was from 1949-1956), and barrel conditions of existing samples vary widely (they survived the heyday of corrosive ammunition, and the barrels were not chrome-lined).

The bolt and gas system of the SAFN strongly resembles that of its Soviet contemporaries, the Simonov and Tokarev semi-auto rifles; it is unlikely that copying was going on, rather than parallel, convergent evolution. A version of the tipping bolt had been used on several FN products, including the Browning Automatic Rifle. A solid benefit of the SAFN over its competitors was its toolless-adjustable gas system, which was not only good for adjusting to different lots, makers or types of ammunition, but enabled the rifle to fire rifle grenades (with special blanks). The rifle grenade launcher was a common SAFN accessory, as was a bayonet. (Bayonets are common, but many Mauser bayonets fit, too).

FN 49 muzzles. Top: the cutts-compensator like Flash Hider of the Venezuelan. Below: typical muzzle, in this case Egyptian.

FN 49 muzzles. Top: the cutts-compensator like Flash Hider of the Venezuelan. Below: typical muzzle, in this case Egyptian. Both show the adjustable gas port off well.

The biggest limitation the SAFN faced in the postwar environment was its prewar magazine concept. The magazine was not user-detachable, but was filled from above, using ordinary Mauser stripper clips, or a new FN-developed 10-round stripper. With this magazine, the provision of automatic fire capability on Belgian and some export SAFNs was truly puzzling: why? The rationale for this decision is lost in time, but it seems probable that the customers asked FN to do it.


FN 49 (here Venezuelan, Ser. Nº. 4955), shows off its stripper clip guide and magazine follower. The bolt is held back by the magazine follower until rounds are loaded — or it can be held back with the bolt catch visible opposite the operating handle.

This view from the left shows the bolt hold-open catch on the side of the receiver.

This view from the left shows the bolt hold-open catch on the side of the receiver.

As a semiauto rifle, the SAFN was, in its day, a good equivalent of the M1. Some people recommend it as a practical rifle, but in 2016, that’s just silly. If you must have steel, walnut, and a fixed magazine, the M1 has plentiful spare parts and knowledgable gunsmiths and accuracy specialists. The SAFN belongs in the safes and gun-rooms of collectors, and can certainly go to the range as much as you like.

SN 1949 SAFN Production & Sales

SAFN 1949 Variants
Nation Caliber Distinguishing Marks Production Quantity Notes
Venezuela 7 x 57 mm Venezuelan Crest 8,003 First sale (4,000 in 1948) Unique compensator/flash suppressor
7.5 x 57 mm No sales known
Argentina (Navy) 7.65 x 57 mm “ARA” for Armada Republica Argentina, and Argentine Crest 5,541 Some sources say 5,537
Belgium 7.62 x 63 mm “ABL” for Armee Belgique 88,173 .30-06, convertible to select fire, not US importable
Belgian Congo 7.62 x 63 mm Crest w/lion 2,795 .30-06, all select fire, not US importable
Brazil (Navy) 7.62 x 63 mm Brazilian crest & Anchor 11,001 .30-06
Colombia 7.62 x 63 mm Colombian crest 1,000 .30-06
Indonesia 7.62 x 63 mm “ADRI” and Eagle 16,100
Luxemburg 7.62 x 63 mm “AL” for Armee Luxembourgois 6,003
Argentina (Navy) 7.62 x 51 mm NATO, detachable mag No new guns, converted from 7.65mm. Mag is NOT an FAL mag.
Egypt 7.92 x 57 mm Eagle or Crown, Arabic numbers 37,641 Some sources say 37,602. Century imports may have replaced stocks
total 176,257
Venezuelan crest on a 7mm FN M1949.

Venezuelan crest on a 7mm FN M1949.

Crown of King Farouk and crest of the Kingdom of Egypt (Kingdom 1922-1952, Farouk's sovereignty  1936-52)

Crown of King Farouk and crest of the Kingdom of Egypt (Kingdom 1922-1952, Farouk’s sovereignty 1936-52)

Why the Short Run?

FN produced Mauser rifles (for military purposes, anyway) for over 60 years; in fact, the company was founded to build Mausers for the Belgian Army, and for export. But the SAFN lasted just seven years in production (and after the Belgian & Egyptian contracts were filled, by 1952-3, production was desultory. As you can see in the table above, those two contracts were the bulk of the rifles produced: roughly 126,000 out of 176,000, leaving only 50,000 for all other variants).

What happened?

Our pair of FNs. Venezuelan Nº 4955, not import marked; and Egyptian Nº 11507 (mismatched, refinished, imported by Century Arms).

Our pair of FNs. Venezuelan Nº 4955, not import marked; and Egyptian Nº 11507 (mismatched, refinished, imported by Century Arms). Note that the Egyptian rifle bears its serial numbers in Western and Arabian numbers. The receiver cover of the Nº 11507 is from a different rifle, Nº 12979. (Possibly 13979, as the Arabian numeral is hard to read).

What happened is that technology moved on, and the SAFN was obsolete even as Belgian craftsmen inspected the rifles on the line. No one knew that more than M. Saive, who was already at work on the Next Big Thing — and it would really be that. The FN-FAL (Fusil Automatique Leger, Light Automatic Rifle) would build on the SAFN’s reliable bolt and gas system, and add the sought-after features of select-fire (fairly useless in a 7,62 x 51 light rifle) and a detachable 20-round magazine (no soldier ever said “no” to more ammo). The FAL’s success was much greater, both technically and commercially, vindicating Saive’s vision and arming scores of nations from the 1950s through the 1990s — including many former SAFN and FN Mauser customers.

More Pictures Coming Soon?

Our photo models today are a relatively common 8mm (7.92 x 57 mm) Egyptian rifle, as imported, modified and sold by Century Arms, and a relatively rare Venezuelan model. While Venezuelans are often found in excellent condition, making them prized by collectors, this one is an exception: it’s fairly beaten-up, and was clearly stored in a pile with many other FN-49s: it’s got dings in the annular shape of the end of an FN-49 operating handle (part of the bolt carrier) all over its stock!

Behold, some dings.

Behold, some dings.Note the telltale mark of another FN 49, just under the “D’Armes” in the rollmark. 

More photos may be added after the jump, time permitting (if there isn’t a more link below this, we haven’t added the images yet).


Cammack, Mark. FN 49 Rifle – A Brief Overview. AmmoLand, 13 Jan 2016. Retrieved from:

Peterson, Phillip. Collectors Love The FN-49 Rifle. Gun Digest, 24 May 2011. Retrieved from:

Poyer, Joe. The SAFN-49 Battle Rifle (A Shooter’s and Collector’s Guide). Tustin, CA: North Cape, 1998. 

Stevens, R. Blake. The FN49 – the Rifle That Ran out of Time. Toronto: Collector Grade, 2011.

Stevens, R. Blake. The Metric FAL. Toronto: Collector Grade, 1989.

Get Shorty

That’s what Kyle Defoor recommends, anyway:

Defoor BCM SBR

The version on Instagram labels the gear clockwise from the light: Streamlight LLC (light), Aimpoint USA (micro red-dot), Bobro Engineering (QD sight mount), Bravo Company USA (the gun, grip, rail, etc.), and Arisaka Defense (the light mount). Kyle adds:

Lo vis carbine classes makes everyone appreciate 20 rd mags, Aimpoint Micros and of course shorty barrels.

Rail system is KMR, barrel is an 11½” 1/7 barrel from BCM, running a Gemtech suppressor.

Here’s his trick for running several optics and several guns whilst holding zero.

aimpoint on bobro defoor


My RDS and LPV share the same rail slot on all my carbines and each optic is marked for what it’s zeroed to. This makes for ease of travel when doing multiple courses where customers use different optics and for quickly grabbing whichever I need at the time and knowing its solid. It’s also a great option for owning only one carbine and getting the most out of it.

If you’re not reading his Instagram feed, you should probably consider it.

France Goes 416 — TFB

The Firearm Blog is reporting that French firearms media are reporting that the fat lady has sung for le Clarión, and the successor to the uniquely French bullpup is the rifle that personifies Germany’s payback for America’s theft of the Mauser action in 1903: the HK 416. So here, approximately third-hand, we tell you France has acquired German weapons.

The HK 416, like the SCAR, has seen combat with SF and other SOF. It's an OK but heavy piston AR.

The HK 416, like the SCAR, has seen combat with SF and other SOF. It’s an OK but heavy piston AR.

Historically, it was usually the other way around — in great piles, under broad tricolors missing the red and blue bits. But now France and Germany are united, more or less, under the European Union of Napoleon IV, alias Jean-Claude Juncker; and it makes sense for them to all use German, (via Lobachevskiy), arms. Indeed, one of the French requirements was that the new design be European, and the 416 is arguably more European than the million “refugees” from whom Germans are hiding their daughters, and the peculiar Frenchmen who make their beaten wives burka up, and who are prone to detonation in public places.

Of course, the Germans have yet to bite the Geschoß and declare for the 416, but everyone knows that’s how the long saga of the HK G36 ends. The only reason anyone’s watching that film any more is to see how the hero gets to the closing credits.

A previous downselect had narrowed a five-gun field to two, again according to TFB.

HK416 for France

It’s a measure of the market right now that four of the five contestants are excellent and combat-proven firearms. (The outlier is the VHS-2, which is fairly new).

The French COTS rifle purchase is an interesting comparison to the American way of doing things. It was announced in 2014, the downselect came in July, 2016, and the selection by September of 2016. Compare that to the US military’s thrashing and flailing on rifles, pistols, and even the XM25 Punisher grenade launcher, or, as the US Army’s love of jargon names it, Counter-Defilade Weapon. The US has probably spilled more dollars along the Via Dolorosa of its pistol-evaluation Calvary, without making a decision, than France will spend to buy about 100,000 416s — half carbine length, and half shorties.

The 416 and the SCAR were both known quantities in the Armée Française. Both weapons have been used successfully by special operations and rapid deployment forces for years.

It is possible that some of the 416 production (possibly, just assembly) will be done by an HK subsidiary in France, Europe’s open borders notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, it’s time to bid the homely Fusil FAMAS (and the French arsenals who made France’s infantry weapons for most of the last three centuries) adieu, and at least this time the German rifles glistening on parade on the Champs Elysées will be in French hands, so there is that.

Amazing Long-Range Shot: 4,000 meters

That’s roughly 2 1/2 miles. Now, a few caveats are in order: the shooters had considerable equipment, they were shooting at a target larger than man-sized, and they had one hit (#3, they’re pretty sure) out of four shots at that range. Still, that shot is amazing. 

Rifle that took the shot. Sako TRG, Hensoldt scope. Orange rectangle is LabRadar.

Rifle that took the shot. Sako TRG, Hensoldt scope. Orange rectangle is LabRadar.

Erik B at The Firearm Blog has a long report and, if you’re interested in LR shooting, it’s incumbent on you to Read The Whole Thing™.  A tiny taste of his 3k-plus word report (which seems to be first hand by the shooters, and is much more detailed than the write-up on their Facebook Page). They started at 100 m to establish zero:

375 Cheytac zero was done with five shots. Scope turret bottomed to zero, impact was 26.8 mrads high. Last two after windage adjustment were very close each other. This elevation was used as base for further calculations, as zero POI offset value in ballistic application. Just before shooting started, I found out that my bubble level was sitting on table back home. This was serious setback. During both zeroing and shooting, reticle and rifle must be in absolute vertical level. This was difficult, as there wasn’t horizon reference visible. Velocities were compared constantly, with each and every shot.

Then to 1000 m to confirm zero. Then to 3000 m. They ran into problems with ranging binoculars (Steiner & Vextronix) “stalling out.”

Shot count was 15 when we got everything finally sorted and good hit on target. Good meaning that everything matched. That particular shot MV (MV = bullet muzzle velocity) was same we used on ballistic software and actual elevation adjustment matched perfectly to QTU firing solution on same time. Also most importantly and with that particular shot, I knew shot was good. As mentioned, maintaining readiness and bubble where it should to fire in 1-2 seconds after permission from ballistician-on-duty was extremely cumbersome thing to do.

Consistent muzzle velocity is key. Their loads were within a small range, but a 1 m/sec change in muzzle velocity causes an 80 cm vertical shift in impact point — meaning 1 fps change alters that impact point almost 10″ in the same direction. So you see that firing at 4000 meters is really at the ragged edge of what’s possible with field-employable sniper-type equipment, in 2016. At 4000 m:

[T]arget was fine-positioned and checked for clear line of sight, and first time I realized how long distance it actually was. It was far, ridiculously far. Very hard to even see with bare eye, but surprisingly still ok visible with 3.7x (or so) magnification. Target was ok, and we received permission to shoot.

Third, or possibly, fourth, shot was heard to connect by a forward observer.


Yeah, it’s not people-shooting precise (or hunting practical) yet, but the journey of a thousand miles (or 4,000 meters) begins with a single step.

The guys behind the shot are the Finnish precision-shooting shop and school, FinnAccuracy. They report on the conditions of the shot on their FB page:

Athmosperic conditions, Vaisala + Kestrel used:
– 22C / 71.6F. RH 78%. 996mbar / 29.41 inHg
– Worth mentioning also Labradar velocity radar. It worked like a charm and really eased things up during actual shooting. Precise MV knowledge is everything with such a long flight times.
– Bullet flight time to 4000m = 11.2 seconds. Gyroscopic spin drift + Coriolis effect only shift bullet approximately 8 meters / 9yds at 4km distance.
– Ballistic calculations done with Quick Target Unlimited

The reason that they think #3 was the money shot is because its MV was closest to their calculated value. #4, the other possibility, had a slightly higher MV on the radar, which they think put the round over the target. They have high confidence in the Canadian-developed LabRadar, which claims a 0.1% accuracy.

Stay tuned – we might have someting in mind for future too.

They were only half way through their planned range session when they scored the 4,005 m shot, and they have extensive manufacturer support from Sako (maker of the gun) and Lapua (whose Scenar bullets they used in .375 Chey-Tac handloads). They had previously said they have further ambitions in long range shooting, but…

It hs been a long way and we would like to do more like this- but we also have optics/accessory business to run. 

It’s true that a shooter 2½ miles out is not out of the reach of an enemy’s organic weaponry (mortars, artillery, tank main guns) but his signature even in the open is going to go unmarked by people in his target area. While this is a long way from being a practical sniping distance, at this time, when FinnAccuracy started off they were connecting at 2,000 m with .338 Lapua Magnum and that was a long way from being a practical sniping distance, then.

Non-Factory Cutaway AR (Semi M16A2 Clone)

You don’t see many cutaways. Here’s a shot of a Colt M16A1 cutaway:

Colt M16A1 in Museum

This one was done by a little shop called Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company — you may have heard of them — for a retiring worker, and resides in the Cody Museum — you may have heard of it.

So one of the ARFCOM retro heads, “Trimdad” of Oklahoma, got it into his head to do a cutaway of this: M16A2 clone with M203. By himself. With a Dremel tool. Here’s the thread.

A2 Cutaway 01

Here’s a shot to compare with the Cody Museum Colt:

A2 Cutaway 09Here’s an overview:

A2 Cutaway 03

And some close-ups. The receiver:

A2 Cutaway 04

The bolt and gas subsystem:

A2 Cutaway 05

The trigger group (note that this lacks the auto sear of the factory gun):

A2 Cutaway 07

The business end:A2 Cutaway 08

And the buttstock and its features:

A2 Cutaway 06

It all came about because he had parts for an A2 build, but not for an authentic A2 build (kind of a big deal in the retro world). As he puts it:

This one started because I had some A2 parts I was saving for a clone, but they weren’t Colt parts do I decided to sacrifice them . The upper is a dpms with a strange texture on it. The lower was a 80% A2 that braceman couldn’t sell.  The barrel is a FN that was rusted and shot out. The 203 is a Colt licensed airsoft and the rest was laying at the bottom of the parts box.

The airsoft nature of the 203 is evident on close up of its left side — you can see the circular marks from the ejector pins used in injection molding.

A2 Cutaway 02

Since these live, mostly, on the “inside” of the firearm, as it’s displayed (and it is a firearm — the lower would actually function, with a functional upper), the giveaway doesn’t really matter.

Moral of story: a Dremel does not turn you into Bubba, any more than a Glock turns you into some cop killer from Black Criminals’ Lives Matter. The tool is fine and good, but it’s what a man does with it that cements his place in the universe.

Well done, Trimdad.

He’s also done an A1. Next? Maybe an M4… complete with a sectioned ACOG, or maybe a Chinese Fake-COG. We’re guessing it’ll be awesome.