Category Archives: Weapons Accessories

Traveling with a Gun, More Lessons Learned

Thanks to everyone in the comments of the last post a couple of days ago. Here are some follow-up lessons learned from the wisdom of the commentariat, plus the evolution completed this week.

  1. How the airline handles firearms varies from airport to airport, as does how the TSA handles it. In FLL, TSA does not want to see it, and all the airline counter staff have to find one who is not a felon or another prohibited person (really!) to observe your demonstration that the firearm is unloaded).
  2. TSA is not going to be anybody’s model for organizational excellence or personnel selection any time soon, but their inspection was more effective that the cursory glance the clearly disgusted-by-gun-things airline clerk offered.
  3. Despite the worry engendered by the irritable and felonious ground staff in Fort Lauderdale, the Pelican full of bang came home without incident.
  4. We’re going to go with the recommendation of a secure case in a crummy looking bag, for those flights where the line will accept a bag within a bag.
  5. We’re also going with the recommendation of printed-out airline policies, as it seems like the airline clerk’s detailed knowledge of these policies is in inverse proportion to her conviction that she knows these policies.
  6. The confidence you get from a high-quality gun case pays off when you arrive in a light snowstorm and your pickup bed is entirely full of a week’s snow. Just peg the Pelican in the snowbank, and sort it out at home.  (Would we still do that if we had, say, a 1902 Luger carbine with its off-the-charts proneness to rust? No. We’d have thrown Small Dog in the snowbank in the pickup bed, and sorted him out at home).

Funny thing: arriving at PSM, there was a sign up that all but one the rest rooms were out of order — pardon the inconvenience, right? Except, a jet had just arrived from Iraq and there was a line of about 200 guys out the one rest room’s door… most of them Army troops wearing the patch of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Every one of them was on a phone, tablet or other device with “home,” and  it made us grin to see them. They all looked lean and tired and had a whole other flight to go, then the joys of property accountability before

Incidentally, traveling with Small Dog Mk II? Piece of cake. Allegiant is a line that doesn’t make you keep your pet cased up, unlike American, JetBlue or Southwest, and so he was able to enjoy the miracle of jet travel:

It is most convenient to bag him during takeoff, landing, boarding and debarking, and any time we were not in the seat with him. Each time we had to stuff him back in his travel bag he went a little easier than the previous one, but he never went entirely willingly. (Really, would you? Nobody likes to be confined, except for some incorrigible criminals and a few weirdos with a paraphilia).

At one time, we stuffed him back in and went to the restroom, only to emerge to a laughing cabin and another traveler holding a wriggling dog — he’d Houdini’d his way out of doggie durance vile, and charmed the other passengers and flight attendants.

A Deal on Cases

Funny that this should come up right the same day we run a thing on flying with one’s hardware: a clearance on two models, rifle and pistol, Plano cases at Midway.

 
  1. Plano Military Spec Field Locker Double Rifle Case with Wheels 56-1/4" x 18" x 7-1/4" Polymer Black

    Plano Military Spec Field Locker Double Rifle Case with Wheels 56-1/4″ x 18″ x 7-1/4″ Polymer Black

    Clearance

    $137.52

    Regular Price: $199.99Save $62.47 (31%)

    Available

  2. Plano Military Spec Field Locker Large Pistol Case 17.90" Black

    Plano Military Spec Field Locker Large Pistol Case 17.90″ Black

    Clearance

    $46.69

    Regular Price: $79.99Save $33.30 (41%)

    Available

We don’t like Plano cases as much as Pelican or Hardigg, but they’re okay, and these two are reasonably priced.

We’re not sure that the buttons will work from this page. If not, go to this link and they’ll definitely work from there.

(And no, we’re not getting anything from this).

MagPul Mag and Stock Clearance at Midway

There’s some good prices here on some presumably overstocked or about-to-sunset MagPul gear, including $10 AK mags (older model, sand color only)…

…and $16.41 25-round G2 window mags for DPMS/KAC type 7.62mm ARs. This includes the S&W M&P10 and the Colt LE901, but does not include the DPMS GII. The mags work in the second-gen DMPS gun, but won’t actuate the bolt hold-open. On the plus side, these mags will hold M188LR ammunition, which the first-gen Magpul .308 mags wouldn’t.

There are also clearance prices on 10-round mags for 7.62 mm and 20-round 5.56 ones in certain colors.

The Sand colored mags take dye very well. Go ahead and search for “Magpul sand dye” and you should find plenty of posts and videos showing how to do it.

Along with the mags there are several different models of stock, some of them available in multiple colors.

Expect the stock of these items to dwindle down and then wink out… that’s what “closeout” means!

Kyle Defoor’s Range Gun “Inventory”

For the last week-plus, top instructor Kyle Defoor has been posting his “inventory” on his Instagram account, one a day. Our Traveling Reporter, a Defoor trainee and admirer, if not outright fan, has been linking them to us, one a day, and we’ve been waiting to assemble them and give you a single overview. Here it is; this is what’s in a single top instructor’s battery these days.

His training battery comprises eight guns, some used frequently and some for special purposes. There are four ARs (all BCM, which he endorses), two Glocks, one bolt rifle (Remington 700), and one DA/SA pistol (SIG 229 Elite). For each one, he painstakingly records the details down to the scope mount and slings and holsters, and he answers some reader questions, so for any gun that interests you, go to the linked Instagram page.

The AR Rifles

They’re all from BCM, with whom Defoor is in a committed relationship, as they say. BCM also provides the iron sights for those rifles that have ’em, and Viking Tactics (VTAC) the slings. There are a selection of calibers and lengths for specific purposes.

The most-used AR is this 11.5″ 5.56 mm Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), which is used 18-20 weeks a year for both military and civilian contracts.

The accessories include interchangeable red-dot and scope optics in Bobro mounts (Aimpoint Micro T1 and US Optics SR4-C respectively), the Streamlight Protac Rail 1 with an Arisaka Defense light mount, and a Gemtech flashhider for use with the G5T. The US Optics scope is their short-range 1-4 variable, which is presently off the market as the company overhauls its short-range line; its nearest military issue equivalent is the Elcan Spectre DR, which is not continuously variable. The SR4-C is an ingenious design, with a mil reticle (several options) on the first focal plane, which keeps the mils accurate with magnification, and a 4-moa red dot on the second focal plane. (There is an excellent five-part review of this scope at the Austin Police Marksmanship Team blog. Begin with Part 2 if you’re in a hurry; Part 1 is the justification for using a scope on a patrol carbine. Then click the left arrow to read subsequent parts).

Used 18-20 weeks a year for military contractcs and for some civilian carbine classes. My scope and Aimpoint share the same mounting slot on my top rail for ease of switching depending on what the customer wants.

Note that this is the baseline AR of a pro, and it’s run on an XM177-length barrel, probably suppressed more often than not. That’s a reflection of what’s happening in special operations units, not just in the US military, but worldwide.

Here’s a longer-barreled 5.56 AR used about 6 weeks a year for military and civilian scoped rifle classes. The barrel is 16″ stainless steel with 1/8 twist rifling and a mid-length gas system. The scope is a US Optics variable 1.8-10 power in a Bobro mount.

The Gemtech suppressor he uses with this rifle is the G5T; the rest of the accessories are the same as his other ARs.

Here’s a baseline .300 Blackout gun.  It’s got a 9″ button-rifled barrel. This one is used a few times a year for “specialized military contracts,” and is set up with a Gemtech flash hider for The One silencer.

What seems to be “the usual” KD4 accessories: BCM flip-up sights; VTAC Sling;  Aimpoint Micro T1 on a Bobro Mount; Streamlight Protac Rail 1 with an Arisaka Defense light mount. One thing this carbine has got that the others haven’t is a cleaning rod secured to the rail with zip ties.

And finally, this one’s just for hunting. It’s a 16″ .300 Blackout rifle with a 1/8 button-rifled stainless barrel, and has similar accessories to the other ARs.

The scope is the US Optics variable 1-4 power Dual Focal Plane on (what else?) Bobro. Kyle says he uses it to take deer, coyote and wild boar.

The Precision Rifle

This rifle is a modified Remington 700 with a 7.62mm NATO 20″ 1/10 heavy barrel, threaded for use with the Gemtech Sandstorm suppressor.

The mods/accessories include: a KRG stock and bolt lift; VTAC Sling; US Optics 1.8-10 variable power scope, with the Horus H25 reticle, mounted in Badger rings; and the ubiquitous bipod from Harris Engineering. Defoor uses it for military contracts 4 weeks a year.

I can’t express how happy I am with the KRG stock. It makes a stock 700 about .5 MOA tighter throughout the spectrum of the caliber compared to an OEM buttstock and is LIGHT! The weight thing matters when I’m humping long distances for FTX’s and evals. Additionally, KRG has accessories that are smart, lightweight, easy to install, don’t cost an arm and a leg and work WELL! This is expected from KRG since their owner is a mil snipe with experience like myself. I have no affiliation with KRG but if you’re in the market for anything bolt gun you should give them a look before they take off and get super busy,

Listen up to that recommendation, precision shooters: Defoor has a pretty good track record at flagging the Next Cool Thing before it gets cool.

The Pistols

The fundamental pistol of Defoor’s battery is the G4 Glock 19.

His regular carry gun is used for almost all classes, and apart from his own sights and his (Raven Eidolon) or Safariland holster, the only thing not stock Glock is the barrel, a KKM.

I’ve been using match barrels in Glock pistols for over 10 years now. I started using KKM’s somewhere around 2010 or 11 — long before it become the popular barrel of choice it is now. I also used Wilson combat match barrels for Glocks back when you had to fit them. I prefer hand fitting a barrel because I can make it even more accurate.

But he recommends you be in no rush to replace the barrel:

I tell everyone my opinion is to shoot the Glock pistol stock and wait to get a match barrel when you notice groups starting to open up a bit. In my experience this happen somewhere between 80 and 100,000 rounds.

In case you were wondering why Tier 1 units that shoot obsessively day in and day out went to the Glock, a lot of the answer is packed into that paragraph above. He also points out that the match barrel is match, not magic:

A match barrel will not help you magically shoot better all of the sudden. All it does is hone good fundamentals a little more. The average difference that I have measured over tens of thousands of shooters between a stock barrel and a match barrel at 25 yards on an NRA B-8 bull is somewhere between 3-4 points or around an inch tighter- both of these metrics are with a 10 round group from the standing unsupported position.

For about four weeks a year, for certain military contracts, he uses this older G2 G19, set up with a very unusual sight: an Aimpoint Micro on a Raven Concealment Balor mount. This one has had fewer rounds through it and still has a Glock barrel.

Sometimes he’ll just mount this slide on a G19 frame that allows a weaponlight or weapon laser. Same holsters; but he has some interesting observations on the Aimpoint vs. the more common pistol red dot, the Trijicon RMR.

If you want to go the route of a red dot on a pistol using an Aimpoint Micro will give you faster results in performance than an RMR. This is due to the Aimpoint being a tube and an RMR being a flat plane red dot. I’ve had great success and starting people off with a set up like this and then transitioning them to an RMR later.

I’ve assembled dozens of guns like this one for people who are older and whose eyesight just does not allow them to shoot irons affectively anymore — it’s amazing to see the reaction of people when they can shoot and perform the way they did 40 or 50 years ago. The Micro is definitely harder to conceal and will require some adjustments of clothing and belt type, along with a quality holster like mine. Safari land 6000 series holsters can be easily modified with a Dremel to hold this set up and still maintain retention. There are multiple reasons for MIL/LE to use this setup, although I recommend to all of our clients to issue two slides; one setup like this and one with traditional sights.

Sounds like we need one of these, or a trip back to the eye surgeon. (May not be an option. Our guy, the brilliant Dr Jack Daubert of West Palm Beach, has unfortunately had to retire).

Finally, there’s the SIG 229 Elite, which is used with organizations that use SIGs, or other DA/SA guns rather than striker-fired, and that don’t have a loaner gun for Defoor to use himself while conducting training.

Nothing magical here, just a pistol. About the only unusual thing here is that he got Raven to make him a one-off holster for the gun.

I also will sometimes use this when I’m training units that shoot a Berretta 92 when they can’t supply me with one (I don’t own a 92).

And that wraps up one instructor’s training and defensive battery. Instead of having many guns (either in quantity or in battery) he has stuck to basic platforms, and plowed his efforts into training instead. There’s a lesson in that if we want to pick up on it.

Update

This post has been corrected. Kyle’s main go-to Glock 19 is a G4, not a G3 as we erroneously reported. We regret the error. -Ed.

What’s in an Armorer’s Toolkit?

Well, currently, the Army has a thing they call the SARTK, Small Arms Repairman’s Tool Kit. Since we didn’t find a link to it on the public intertubes, we made you one. After all, your tax dollars bought these things, NSN 5180-01-559-5181, for approximately six to ten thousand dollars each.  They are assembled by Armstrong Tool Group, a division of Apex Tools, and most of the tools are Armstrong brand. All the tools are made in the USA (required under protectionist legislation)

(And you thought your Snap-On truck was spendy!)

The kits are assembled by Armstrong Tool Group, a division of Apex Tools, and most of the tools are Armstrong brand. All the tools are made in the USA (required under protectionist legislation), and with no demand for them outside the USG, the price can be set arbitrarily high.

The kit itself is contained in a molded plastic (probably something like nylon 6/6) case with seven drawers, and custom inserts to hold the required tools. Inside, there’s a list of what goes in each drawer, although the custom cutouts for the tools make it readily apparent where a tool you have out goes. This derives from normal military and aviation tool control practice. (Leaving the tool out not only risks losing the tool, but risks screwing up the machine it’s left in or on. Few machines digest tool steel well).

Most of the stuff in the kit, it turns out, is not very exotic, and is not firearms specific. Indeed, most of the stuff we use to build an AR is not included, and one wonders what use a lot of half-inch sockets are whilst working on small arms.

Top area: Miscellaneous Basics, including a multitool, a ratcheting screwdriver with regular and Torx bits, a 1 3/8″ open-end wrench, and a multimeter.

Drawer 1: Hand Tools. Hammers (dead blow and copper head), files, chisel, assorted punches (starting, driving, aligning, center) and an inspection mirror, magnetic pick-up wand. and magnifying glass.

Drawer 2: Grab ‘n’ Twist. Adjustable wrench, assorted vise-grips and pliers.

Drawer 3: Small Fastening. Screwdrivers, regular, Phillips head, and jewelers; drift pins; snap ring pliers; putty knife, tweezers, front sight adjustment tool.

Drawer 4: General Ratchets and Sockets. 1/2″, 3/8″ and 1/4″ drive imperial measurements (minus the 1/2″ ratchet handle and some sockets, which are in Drawer 7), plus thickness gage, measuring tape and rule.

Drawer 5: Combination Wrenches. Box & Open End, imperial fasteners, plus a pry bar.

Drawer 6: Combination Wrenches. Box & Open End, metric fasteners, plus 3 dual-size open-end wrenches for common imperial fasteners.

Drawer 7: Overflow Ratchets and Sockets, Hex Keys & More Misc. 1/2″ drive ratchet handle and 12-point sockets, plus sets of hex keys (Allen wrenches) for both imperial and metric fasteners, plus dead-blow and ball-peen hammers, bench block, another set of files and file card/brush, and another punch set (pin punches).

There may be a subsequent rev of this toolkit; this one was manufactured in 2012 and is labeled as Rev A.

These are quality tools, but you could put together a matching tool kit for far less money, even buying US-made-only (or EU only, if that’s how you roll) tools. You don’t need most of these automotive-type tools to work on small arms. And it’s missing a lot of things that make life easier when maintaining typical weapons. Finally, it has no provision for adding more useful tools.

Finally, the layout of the tools is just screwy. Allen wrenches in the bottom drawer?

 

Marines Experiment with M27 IAR, Suppressor

The US Marine Corps has established one battalion (3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Mar Div) as an experimental, testbed unit, and that unit is looking at some possible new small arms approaches. The first of these is a more general issue of the M27, currently used as the Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) with one per Marine infantry fire team.

m27_hk_defense

The concept under test would replace all the M4s in the rifle squad with the M27, which is a version of the HK 416 with a couple of USMC-requested mods, like a bayonet lug. Military.com reports:

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the gunner, or infantry weapons officer, for 2nd Marine Division, told Military.com the M27 costs about $3,000 apiece, without the sight. Because the Marine Corps is still grappling with budget cutbacks, he said he was skeptical that the service could find enough in the budget to equip all battalions with the weapons. He said a smaller rollout might be more feasible.

“To give everyone in a Marine rifle squad [the IAR], that might be worth it,” he said.

usmc_m27_iar

[Commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel] O’Donohue said feedback would be collected on an ongoing basis from the Marines in 3/5 as they continued workup exercises and deployed next year. Decisions on whether to field a new service weapon or reorganize the rifle squad would be made by the commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, when he felt he had collected enough information, ODonohue said.

If the Marine Corps can sort out the logistics of fielding, Wade said he would welcome the change.

“It is the best infantry rifle in the world, hands down,” Wade said of the IAR. “Better than anything Russia has, its better than anything we have, its better than anything China has. Its world-class.”

If there’s an obstacle, it’s cost-effectiveness. The best is the enemy of the good, and the M4 delivers a good 95% of what the M27 can offer. But the Marines seem certain that they can exploit the incremental improvement in accuracy that comes with the free-floated barrel and

There’s much more to it than that, so do Read The Whole Thing™.

Meanwhile, another test unit (B/1/2nd Marines) is going to go 100% suppressed, from carbines to heavy MGs, to see how that works. Also Military.com:

“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” [commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John] Love told Military.com. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight's Armament Company suppressor attached.

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight’s Armament Company suppressor attached.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the division’s gunner, or infantry weapons officer, said the Lima companies in two other battalions — 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines — now had silencers, or suppressors, on all their rifles, including the M27 infantry automatic rifles. All units are set to deploy in coming months. The combat engineer platoons that are attached to these units and will deploy with them will also carry suppressed weapons, he said.

The Marines are discovering, as SOF (including Marine SOF) discovered some time ago, that the benefits from going quiet are not just the obvious ones.

“It increases their ability to command and control, to coordinate with each other,” Wade told Military.com. “They shoot better, because they can focus more, and they get more discipline with their fire.”

The noise of gunfire can create an artificial stimulus that gives the illusion of effectiveness, he said. When it’s taken away, he explained, Marines pay more attention to their shooting and its effect on target.

“They’ve got to get up and look, see what effect they’re having on the enemy because you can’t hear it,” he said.

He added that suppressors were already in common use by near-peer militaries, including those of Russia and China.

Wade said he is working on putting suppressors on the Marines’ M249 light machine gun and M240G medium machine gun, using equipment from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The third and final objective will be the suppression of the .50 caliber heavy machine gun, he said.

The Marines are showing, in this as in the IAR experiment, a real commitment to experiment-driven (and therefore, data-driven) procurement decisions, which is an interesting contrast to the other services’ way of doing things. Rather than hire a Federally Funded Research and Development Center like the Rand Corporation or Institute for Defense Analyses to write a jeezly white paper, they put the stuff in the hands of real mud Marines and see what use they make of it.

And then they write the report.

As the units conduct training and exercises with suppressors, 2nd Marine Division is collaborating with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to collect and aggregate data. Weapons with suppressors require additional maintenance and cleaning to prevent fouling, and the cost, nearly $700,000 to outfit an infantry battalion, might give planners pause.

But Wade said he will continue to gather data for the next year-and-a-half, following the units as they deploy. And he expects the idea to have gained significant traction among Marine Corps leadership by then, he said.

“When I show how much overmatch we gain … it will have sold itself,” he said.

$700,000 sounds like a lot of money, until you put it on the scale against the cost of losing one lousy fight.

Guns & Ammo Suppressor Magazine

Current Issue

Current Issue

While the major gun initiative likely to come from the incoming Trump administration is national concealed carry reciprocity (“like a driver’s license,” according to the President-Elect himself), and restoration of the self-defense rights stripped from soldiers and dependents by executive-branch action (these are likely to be restored the same way), industry watchers consider a delisting of suppressors from the National Firearms Act a third possibility. After all, suppressors have gone from known mainly for their use by Hollywood miscreants, to legalfor civilian ownership in 42 States, and in 40 of those states legal to use for hunting, also.

The American Suppressor Association (which finally gave up calling itself the Silencer Association) keeps track of these things, and the current map shows how suppressors are legal just about everywhere except highly urbanized states where criminals and their families are an important constituency, such as California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Those states, where gun bans of all kinds remain popular, are unlikely to waive their restrictions.

asa_edu_map_0616161

Despite the holdout states, suppressors have become increasingly common as safety and comfort equipment, and the biggest single drag on the market is the ATF’s sluggish 1930s approval process.

Last Year's Issue. Note that this year's has more suppressors.

Last Year’s Issue. Note that this year’s has more suppressors — and they’re legal in one more state (and several more, for hunting)..

That makes this magazine special from Guns & Ammo extremely timely. It’s not their first one — they published an edition in 2015 (visible right), also — but this year’s, the yellow covered one seen at the top of this post, is a more complete and interesting one. We picked it up, of all places, at Walmart. If you can’t find it in Walmart, you can try ordering it direct from the publisher’s website for $8.99 (free shipping, presumably to the USA).

Here’s the editorial blurb from that website:

The second issue of Suppressor magazine is filled with reviews and roundups of the latest in suppressor trends. Josh Watson puts a roundup of .22 suppressors to the test, Kimberly Marie discusses why you don’t have to be an experienced shooter to use a suppressor and Sean Utley reviews several new offerings from SIG Sauer, Bell Precision, Thunder Beast Arms, SureFire, SilencerCo and more. You’ll also find a bolt vs. gas case study, an update from the American Suppressor Association and much more. Pick up your copy of 2016 Suppressor today!

The magazine has all the pros and cons of glossy gun magazines, with the pros including excellent, clear photography and punchy prose. The cons? Well, they’ll never say anything that might offend an advertiser. For example, an excellent technical article on the products of SIG’s “silencer division” is completely devoid of the interesting human story of how SIG developed the division by hiring Kevin Brittingham and his AAC team away from AAC after the company’s acquisition by Cerberus Capital’s Freedom Group (now Remington Outdoor). Is that because they don’t want to offend SIG’s Ron Cohen, Cerberus’s Stephen Feinberg, or burn any bridges with Brittingham’s quiet (pun intended) new firm, Q, LLC? We don’t know, but all the mentioned individuals (and the team members who have traipsed around following Kevin) are extremely interesting human stories that tie into the suppressor industry. (We hear from guys “in the community” that Feinberg in particular is “a great guy,” although the actual quotes tended toward more earthy soldiers’ and Marines’ language).

How is SIG going to keep innovating in suppressor design, when it’s in-house innovators checked out? You can bet that Cohen has a plan for that, but he hasn’t shared it with us, and there’s no sign that Sean Utley of G&A asked him.

On the other hand, Utley did get a lot of technical information about the SIG SRD-9 suppressor, and he understands the importance of some of the things that come in the box (like two boosters for tipping-barrel pistols, one with standard imperial threads and one with standard metric) and things that don’t (an adapter for fixed-barrel firearms, available as an option).

Utley also wrote an excellent article comparing four suppressors for the .338 Lapua Magnum, a round that can be fatiguing to shoot unsuppressed. (In our subjective opinion, it’s not as bad as the .300 Winchester Magnum in blast or recoil).

As always with magazine tests, the tests are brief and round counts low. That’s just the nature of the beast.

One suggestion that is made in a couple of the articles is that it’s probably best to try several suppressors before choosing one. This is, of course, impractical, given that it takes most of a year to transfer one, and is subject to punitive taxation under the NFA.

Suppressor delisting would not be a trivial undertaking, requiring Congress to amend a very old law. But as the existence of this magazine on a WalMart magazine rack illustrates, suppressors are increasingly part of the gun culture, and gun culture is increasingly part of the culture at large. Ergo, delisting is an inevitability; activism can simply fiddle with the timeline.

One article that novices should welcome is a very brief suppressor overview article for beginners by Kimberley Marie, that addresses why you should use suppressors, and why not, or, some of the pros and cons of these devices. Something like that belongs in every issue, but also an overview of how they work would allow authors of technical articles (like Utley) to assume a greater level of baseline knowledge.

And one article we’d like to see is a historical article per each issue. Probably not practical, given the limited editorial pages in a short publication. Fortunately, most of the ads are for other interesting suppressors, adding to the value of the magazine.

All i all, for $9, it’s a decent if incomplete survey of some of the most interesting (and most widely available) suppressors on the market today.

Gift for the SF Gunslinger

These magazines are for sale on GunBroker. While actually in SF, we could never have used these operationally, as they’re a rollicking OPSEC violation as they sit there shining at you, but we think they’re hell for cool:

sf-crest-mags-2

Yep, SF crest (officially, “Distinctive Unit Insignia,” which yields an unfortunate acronym) engraved magazines. Back in the day, we could have rocked ’em only on the range, as most operational use required unmarked if not sterile arms and equipment. But now, they’re just the thing for a retiree’s gun bag.

sf-crest-mags

Of course, if you’re, say, the Frogmen or MARSOC, you’re going to buy a couple of these to drop any time you do a Blackwater and plug the wrong locals, sending the nearest SF unit into the DAMN drill:

  1. Deny everything
  2. Admit nothing
  3. Make counteraccusations, and
  4. Never change your story!

The seller says:

Black Teflon coated mil-spec 30 round mags with PSA marked floor plates and gray MagPul Anti-tilt followers. These mags are manufactured by D&H, very HIGH quality materials! All images are engraved on the lower right side of the mags. These are DEEPLY engraved for a lasting bright image, cheaper laser equipment etchings may fade with time, NOT THESE!!

We accept VISA/MC USPS Money Orders, bank checks, cashier’s checks and personal checks. Personal checks held for 7 days. $7 USPS priority shipping. NO CREDIT CARD FEES. All laser engraved magazines etched in our laser shop when ordered, we do not buy them from a third party, these mags will usually ship in 3-5 days depending on laser shops workload.

We’ve handled but not shot D&H mags, and they looked good at the time. The guys running them were having no trouble with ’em.

Of course, they can’t ship them to Libya, Iran, North Korea, Massachusetts, New York, California, and places like that.

We’re not going to order any of them for, say, 12 hours, to give our SF readers the chance to go first. Although one suspects that however many of these he sells, he’ll happily make more.

Update

If you’re not SF, maybe you’d like their USMC Eagle, Globe & Anchor mags, or mags with the Air Force logo, a Navy fouled anchor, or a laser engraved American Flag.

Artifact of a Training Dream

It started as this mystery gadget...

The mystery was the identity of this gadget…

Simulators have always been the Next Big Thing ever since Ed Link conned the Army Air Corps into believing that they could teach instrument flying on the ground. (After a series of planes came tumbling out of overcasts in pieces, the ferry command that was in charge of delivering aircraft and crews to Great Britain for the World War stopped trusting pilots with an Air Corps instrument card, and started retraining them). As the ferry command found, a simulator could be a good adjunct for live training, but it was a poor substitute. 

In the 1970s, the Army followed the siren song of simulation and developed a training device called the Weaponeer. The dream was: rifle training without rifles. Or ammunition, or ranges; and it worked, to a degree — like that 1940 Link simulator. Weaponeer was a very robust arcade game built around a modified rifle (then, an M16A1) that tried to simulate the experience of firing a rifle. It actually “kicked” with a fairly accurate recoil. It also simulated the accuracy of the weapon pretty well, its cycling, and even magazine changes with bolt lockback on an empty mag. The gadget shown above was inserted in a modified magazine shell and could be “loaded” with zero to thirty “rounds.”

A soldier uses the Weaponeer marksmanship training system. US Army photo from 1990.

A soldier uses the Weaponeer marksmanship training system. US Army photo from Fort Devens, MA, 1990.

Weaponeer was invented and initially debugged by 1973, and widely adopted and fielded in the Army by the early and mid 1980s. In some places it worked well (for instance, as a mechanism for instructors to observe green trainees that were struggling with basic rifle marksmanship, and break them of bad habits, or for members of an element that needed to maintain proficiency in a non-permissive overseas environment in which they could not go to military ranges). In other situations it did not work as well. Some service support units, never fond of going out to messy rifle ranges, used it to “qualify” in shirtsleeve conditions.

It was not extensively exported. These Kuwaitis being trained by an American sergeant are among the few foreigners to have used the system.

An instructor explains the weaponeer marksmanship training system to Kuwaiti soldiers during a marksmanship course. The soldiers are being trained in combat techniques in preparation for conflict with Iraqi forces presently occupying Kuwait. Fort Dix 8 Jan 91

An instructor explains the Weaponeer Marksmanship Training System to Kuwaiti soldiers during a marksmanship course. The soldiers are being trained in combat techniques in preparation for conflict with Iraqi forces presently occupying Kuwait. Fort Dix, NJ:  8 Jan 91 via the National Archives.

In any event, the artifact at the top of the post turned up recently, and with it being vaguely M16-magazine sized and shaped, its new owner turned to the ARFCOM Retro Forum for answers. He got them, including these detailed pictures that explain how the magazine insert works. Read The Whole Thread™, which also has more pictures.

weaponeer-magazine-insert-1

weaponeer-magazine-insert-2

An appendix to the marksmanship training manual (Appendix A-6 to FM 3-22.9) gives more information.

The Weaponeer is an effective rifle marksmanship-training device that simulates the live firing of the M16-series rifle. The system can be used for developing and sustaining marksmanship skills, diagnosing and correcting problems, and assessing basic skills.

weaponeer-set-up

Characteristics. The Weaponeer operates on 110 to 130 volts AC, 10 amperes, 50 or 60 Hz, grounded electrical power. (A stand-alone voltage transformer is provided for overseas units.) The recommended training area for the Weaponeer is 10 by 23 by 8 feet. The operational temperature range is 40 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The Weaponeer must be protected from the elements, and should not be subjected to excessive vibration, high dust levels, or condensing humidity. The M16A1/A2 attached to the Weaponeer is demilitarized and does not require the usual weapon security.

The rifle, with the exception of smoke and cartridge ejection, operates normally, and has the same weight and balance as the standard weapon. An infrared aiming sensor simulates round trajectory and hit point to an accuracy of better than one-minute-of-angle. The recoil rod that attaches at the muzzle end of the rifle simulates recoil. Recoil is provided in both semiautomatic and automatic modes of fire, and is adjustable from no-net force to 30 percent more than that of a live M16. Sound is provided through headphones and is adjustable from 115 to 135 decibels. Special magazines are used. One magazine simulates a continuous load; the other (used to train rapid magazine change) can be loaded with 1 to 30 simulated rounds. Selectable misfire can be used to detect gun shyness and drill immediate action. The front and rear sights are zeroed the same as standard rifles.

As you can see, that describes the magazine insert that the ARFCOM member got hold of.

The Weaponeer range can be raised or lowered to accommodate all firing positions. The target assembly contains four targets: a scaled 25-meter zero target and three pop-up targets are standard. E-type and F-type silhouettes at ranges from 75 meters can be used on the Weaponeer. Known-distance and various other types of targets can be used and be displayed in fixed or random sequences. Target exposure times may be set to unlimited or from 1 to 30 seconds. The fall-when-hit mode can be selected with the KILL button.

The operator’s console contains the system control buttons, graphics printer, and video feedback monitor. The back of the console has counters that total rounds and hours, and a storage bin for storing magazines, printer paper and ribbon, headphones, two wrenches for assembling the Weaponeer, and a small allen wrench for aligning the rifle sensor. A remote control, which attaches to the back of the console, enables a trainer or firer to operate select functions away from the console.

Feedback. The Weaponeer provides feedback to help trainers to teach and soldiers to learn marksmanship skills.

  1. Fall-When-Hit Mode. Lighting the KILL button enables the fall-when-hit mode. When the button is activated, targets fall when hit. This feedback provides the same hit or miss information as a train-fire (RETS) range.
  2.  Real-Time Aiming Point Display. When a firer aims on or near a target, his aiming point relative to the target is continuously displayed on the video screen. The aiming point display allows the trainer to teach and verify aiming techniques, and to continuously monitor the firer’s steadiness, techniques, time on target, trigger squeeze, and recovery from recoil.
  3. Immediate-Shot-Impact Display. When a shot is fired, its impact relative to the target is immediately displayed on the video screen as a blinking white dot (Figure A-12, left target).

    Fig A-12: Replay of shot.

    Fig A-12: Replay of shot.

  4. Replay. After a shot is fired, a real-rate display of how the firer engaged the target can be replayed on the video screen.
    1. The target to the right in Figure A-12 shows the type of information that can be replayed on the video screen after a series of shots are fired. To show the sequence, the dots have been numbered.
    2. To show a replay, the firer first selects the shot he wishes to replay by operating the EACH SHOT button. Then he presses the REPLAY button. Some Weaponeers record and store replays for just the first three shots.
  5. Shot Groups. The impact location of up to 32 shots is automatically stored in the Weaponeer memory and displayed on the video screen. Each impact is indicated by a white dot, which blinks when indicating the last shot. All 32 shots can be fired and displayed on a single target, or split among a combination of targets. The CLEAR button erases all shots from the Weaponeer memory
  6. Printer. A hard-copy printer is provided for postfiring analysis, for firer progress tracking, and for record keeping. Pressing the PRINT button causes the target displayed on the video to print. (Sample printouts are shown in Figure A-13.) Some Weaponeers can print the three pop-up targets at the same time by holding in the REPLAY button and pressing the PRINT button.

    Figure A-13: Weaponeer printouts.

    Figure A-13: Weaponeer printouts.

Use of the Weaponeer. In BRM, the Weaponeer is used to evaluate the firer’s ability to apply the four fundamentals. It is used throughout the program to help diagnose and remediate problems. In the unit, the Weaponeer should be used much like it is used in BRM. Concurrent use of the Weaponeer at the rifle range provides valuable remedial training.

  1. The preferred training configuration for the Weaponeer is shown in Figure A-14. One trainer operates the system while three to six soldiers observe the training. Soldiers should rotate, each receiving several short turns on the system. Where high throughput is required, consolidation of available Weaponeers may be considered.

    weaponeer-training-config

    Figure A-14: Weaponeer training configuration.

  2. When training soldiers on the Weaponeer:
    1. Proceed at a relaxed pace, and emphasize accuracy before speed.
    2. If possible, train with small groups, allowing each soldier several 10- to 15-minute turns on the device.
    3. For remedial training, try to relax the soldier. A nervous soldier will have trouble learning and gaining confidence in his marksmanship skills. For sustainment training, encourage competition between individuals or units.
  3. In Figure A-14, five soldiers are being trained. One is firing and four are observing, awaiting their turns on the device. The video screen is carefully positioned just outside the vision of the firer, but the firer can easily turn his head to see replays and hit points. The position of the trainer is also important so he can see both the firer and video screen. This is a good position for detecting and correcting firing faults. When the firer is in the standing supported firing position, the console should be placed on a table so the trainer can see the video screen above the firer’s rifle (Figure A-15). Observers can see the targets, firer, and video screen and learn procedures that speed up training and help avoid firing faults.

    Figure A-15: Training arrangement (supported firing position).

    Figure A-15: Training arrangement (supported firing position).

Unfortunately, the Army does not appear to have released Weaponeer devices as surplus, but has destroyed them instead. It would be a fun thing to have in your man cave, if you could keep it working. For a while in the late 1980s, dozens of these things were dead in units all around the world.

Without a whole Weaponeer, the device the original poster has is of no utility, but it’s an interesting artifact.

Here is some further information on Weaponeer.

Guy in a Garage Gets Quiet… in 5.56 and 7.62 (.300 BLK)

(Yes, 80s-90s era SF’ers, the “5.56 and 7.62” is a Blank Frank Toney reference. For the rest of you, on with the story). Our good friend Guy in a Garage (hereafter Guy) has been up to all kinds of good. You may recall that some time ago he applied to the ATF to manufacture suppressors on ATF Form 1.

He didn’t go about it by half measures. Here’s his 5.56mm suppressor, showing 3D design, computer finite element analysis of the projected flows, and parts machined, mostly, from 7075 round bar stock. The tube is Ti alloy. There’s a large chamber, followed by a blast baffle.

giag-suppressor-internal-2While the baffles are generally made of aluminum, the blast baffle is 416 stainless. Guy says:

This took a lot of work and I’m glad everything came out so well. I knew from the start that I aluminum wasn’t going to hold up to 5.56. I also knew that excessive backpressure could cause some issues in this short of a barrel. My design is based on the AAC M4-2000. It has a large expansion chamber, one blast baffle, and several clipped cones spaced closely together. This blast baffle does a lot to keep backpressure reasonable. I milled it from 416 stainless.

Here’s the 3D design of the blast baffle:giag-suppressor-part-2

The regular baffles. These are very reminiscent of some baffles Gemtech uses, as discussed below.giag-suppressor-part-3 Here’s the FEA of the baffle, showing the projected pressure drop across it. Noise suppression is all about managing pressure, temperature and time. (Software: Autodesk Flow Design, which is free as in beer).giag-suppressor-flow-sim-2

And here’s similar beauty shots of his .300 Blackout suppressor.

giag-suppressor giag-suppressor-baffle

A look in at that type of baffle. That’s not a baffle strike, that’s a feature of the design:

giag-suppressor-baffle-in-placegiag-suppressor-flow-sim

And here are the pair of them, completed and installed:

giag-suppressed-carbines

There are some other Guy in a Garage features there, including a home-made lower and home-made thermal sight. He used a quick-detach system designed by Yankee Hill Machine.

A suppressor (or any muzzle device) made of aluminum alloy, even a strong one like 7075, is going to have durability issues relative to one made of steel or exotic material like cobalt alloys (Inconel) or titanium alloys. But the exotic metals are much harder to machine than steel. This is one reason that selective laser sintering has been cost-effective for prototyping and limited production in such exotics. If you’re limited to subtractive manufacturing, aluminum alloys and steels are much more easily cut.

A word on baffles. We just got to try out a Walther .22 with a Gemtech suppressor that uses a similar style baffle. The suppressor was Hollywood tiny, but with subsonic ammo it was graveyard quiet. In fact, close to Hollywood quiet. (You do know the sounds of “suppressed” firearms in movies are dubbed in in post-processing by the Foley artists, right?) It made our old Hi-Standards sound like a 2″ .44 Magnum by comparison. We didn’t try the pistol with supersonic ammo, but the guy who had the Gemtech (his organization’s, we think, not personal) says it’s still extremely quiet, just not that quiet.

In the Gemtech, the little notch that looks to the novice eye like an artifact of a baffle strike — it isn’t — is turned 90º from the one in the preceding baffle. The Gemtech’s baffles are made of titanium, one reason the suppressor is as light as it is small.

Update

We should have initially included these, in which Guy (username Flood_) answers many questions: Imgur thread and Reddit thread, both from three weeks or so ago. Don’t forget to click the “More comments” button at Reddit.