Tag Archive | Rifle

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

Colt: Back on the Consumer AR Market

While Remington has quietly ditched traditional black rifle brands Bushmaster and DPMS in the past several months– perhaps in a bid to get bought by the Navajo Nation — Colt exited the AR market late last year, much to the applause of anti-gun groups and politicians.

However, I spoke to Colt at the time and they made clear the departure was only temporary, due to having landed a multi-million FMS contract for overseas allies.

With that being said, Colt says they are now back to the business of shipping ARs for the consumer market again. Everything old is new again, it would appear.

Colt first began marketing the semi-auto AR-15 Sporter to consumers in 1963 and continued to sell the SP-1 (R6000) series with few changes until 1984, since moving on to other AR-style rifles.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

European rifle makers resurgent

One of the interesting things I came across in my travels around SHOT Show last month was that some classic Central European arms makers are still in the business of making classic European arms.

Over at Mauser’s booth, besides offerings in their classic M98 line for $10K+ safari rifles (!) there was the new M18, a $699 bolt-action billed as the “People’s rifle” (Volkswaffe) or “People’s repeater” (Volksrepetierer) by the German rifle maker. It’s a pretty sweet design, complete with a detachable mag, hidden cleaning kit in the butt (hey, it’s a Mauser) and a wide offering of calibers.

More about that over in my column at Guns.com

As for Steyr, which of course continues to market modern polymer framed pistols, precision rifles to include the giant HS-50 and their iconic AUG line of bullpups, they are bringing back the Zephyr. Now I had a chance to get my hands on a Zephyr .22 that belonged to my great-uncle as a kid and absolutely loved it. The reboot includes a traditional Bavarian cheek piece and fish scale checkering on a walnut stock, and an action so smooth it will make you cry.

More on that after the jump.

Don’t miss those gun registration windows…

A Soldier serving overseas while his home state of record updated their regulations on owning certain firearms says he was left inadvertently in violation of the law.

“I recently returned to Connecticut and contacted the state police because I thought there must be some legal provision that allowed a returning veteran to register their weapon and legally exercise their constitutional right,” he told me, when he went to register the AR-15 he bought in the state in 2011, but had been banned in 2014 while he was in Korea.

“I found out that there was no such provision.”

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Brits really dug camo for their snipers

Common among snipers the world over today, the ghillie suit or bush suit, traces its origin to Scottish gamekeepers with a Scotland-raised yeoman regiment, the Lovat Scouts, using them for the first time in modern combat in the Boer War.

These Highlanders, drawn largely from outdoorsmen, were described as “half wolf and half jackrabbit” in their tactics when down in the veldt and the suit draws its name from the Gaelic faerie Gille Dubh, a forest character clad in moss and leaves that hides among the trees. The use of “scrim” often from repurposed potato sacks, helped break up their outline.

What is scrim?

Scrim is nothing but a basic fabric that has a light, almost gauzy weave to it. It’s used in bookbinding (that woven fabric in the back of hardcover books), theatre and photography (to reflect light), and in simple industrial applications like making burlap sacks.

(H 10707) A camouflage suit for a sniper. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215212

The suits became widespread in sniper use in the Great War. Take this superb example in the IWM under review:

“First World War period British Army sniper’s camouflage robe. Many British Army snipers were trained by former Highland gamekeepers and deer stalkers of the Lovat Scouts, who gave extensive guidance regarding their skills of personal camouflage and concealment. As a result, many items of clothing were adopted on the Western Front, either improvised or officially produced, including mittens, gaiters, and robes” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30097861

Here is another.

“Robe loose-shaped single-breasted robe, made of linen, complete with a fitted hood that incorporates a face mask with apertures for the mouth and eyes. The smock is dabbed and smeared with various shades of paint to achieve a random (disruptive) camouflage finish.” Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30100483

And a third:

“Smock: loose-shaped single-breasted robe, made of canvas, complete with a fitted hood that incorporates a face mask with openings for the mouth and eyes. The smock is painted in colors of various shades to achieve a random camouflage finish and, additionally, has tufts of dried organic vegetation sewn to break up the outline.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30092440

When the Second World War came in 1939, the Brits fell back on what worked.

“Experiments in camouflage, 1940. One figure is trying on the upper portion of a prototype sniper suit. He is being watched by a man wearing Khaki and smoking a pipe, who is holding the suit trousers. On the floor behind them are some pots of paint and another suit hung on a mannequin. There are more sketches of the suit in the upper right corner of the page.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38898

A Camouflaged Sniper watching his Target, Llanberis, North Wales (Art.IWM ART LD 3422)”A head and shoulders depiction of a British infantry sniper in training in Wales. The sniper is shown wearing camouflaged kit and black face paint, aiming his rifle at a distant target.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/21861

British Snipers on the Island of Ubbea near Khakio : 10th Infantry Brigade (Art.IWM ART LD 5040) image: In the foreground three carefully camouflaged British snipers wearing camouflaged smocks have positioned themselves
amongst the rocks and vegetation of a hill side. They appear to be overlooking a road that winds through a hilly coastal country. The sea and a neighboring island are visible in the top right of the composition. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/5318

Normandy Campaign (B 8177) A sniper demonstrates his camouflage at a sniper school in a French village, 27 July 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202430

The practice continues across MoD today, using low-IR fabric to keep down detection by modern optics, because if it ain’t broke…

Pictured are Snipers from 34 Squadron, The Royal Air Force Regiment based at RAF Leeming, undertaking Live Firing Tactical Training at the Otterburn Training Area. (MoD Crown Copyright)

Good news is: there were 11.4 million hunters in 2016. Bad news is: there were 12.5 in 2006

A report compiled twice per decade by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows increases nationally in wildlife watching and fishing, but declines in the number of hunters.

The survey, the 13th conducted by the USFWS since 1955, showed marked increases in the numbers of Americans engaged in observing and photographing wildlife and in fishing when compared to the 2011 data, but over the past decade, the number of hunters has dropped by more than 1 million– even as the general population is on the rise.

More in my column at Guns.com.

There are now over 5 million NFA items on the books, including 1.3 million suppressors

The number of National Firearm Act items saw a huge jump in the past year — including a 50 percent increase in suppressor registration and 39 percent bump in short-barreled rifles registered — according to new data released by federal regulators.

The report provides an overview of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is the federal list of all items, such as suppressors, SBRs, short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices and any other weapons logged under the NFA as of April, and updates figures released in February 2016.

In the 14-month period between reports, the total number of NFA items of all kinds has climbed to 5,203,489 — an overall increase of more than 800,000 items.

While the numbers of AOW’s, machine guns and SBSs all saw negligible increases, the biggest jumps in the 14-month interlude came in the numbers of registered SBRs and suppressors.

More in my column at Guns.com

Hmpf, the SHUSH Act is now a thing

So you have no doubt heard me talk about the Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but still requires they should be transferred through federal firearms licensees after a background check, regulating them as firearms.

It’s got a ton of sponsors in the House ( 150+, including some Dems) but is likely to stall in the Senate where it only has enough for a serious card game and needs 60.

Well, with that in mind, last week the SHUSH (Silencers Helping Us Save Hearing) Act dropped which would not only remove suppressors from National Firearms Act requirements — a goal of the rival Hearing Protection Act — but also classify them as simple accessories which could be sold over the counter, just like magazines, or butt stocks, or just scopes. It seems odd after more than 80 years of NFA regulation, but that’s how they are sold in the UK and several other countries with gun laws more strict than ours.

Gun control groups don’t know whether to shit or go blind, saying every crook and killer in the future will have a hushable gatt– but in all honesty, you can make an illegal suppressor today from common household items anyway and they are rarely (ATF says ~30 cases in 2015) used in crime, so I’m not sure how factual that argument holds.

Anyway, more on the SHUSH Act in my column at Guns.com

And this great bit from A Scanner Darkly (who doesn’t love PKD) below, and case in point as to why you don’t want to try and suppress the average revolver.

 

What your average Tommy DMR looks like

Photos via British MoD

Photos via British MoD

Here we see the British Army’s L129A1 service rifle, sniper, better known on this side of the pond as an LMT LM308MWS. The Brits bought 3,000 of these bad boys in 2014 and are known for a sub-MOA group at 800m with match 7.62x51mm NATO ammo, which is not bad out of a 16-inch barrel. The basic optic is the Trijicon 6×48 ACOG. Also shown are the standard SA80/L-85 Enfield bayonet (note the wirecutter sheath in the top left), and the MilSight S135 Magnum Universal Night Sight (MUNS).

Not pictured is the L17A2 Schmidt & Bender 3-12 × 50 Sniper Scope for long distance work and the SureFire SOCOM762-RC husha can for when you want to spend some quiet moments in the hills looking for ISIS-types. Weight all up (with the ACOG) is 11-pounds, if carrying other sights or the can, this jumps, as does adding a bipod or scrim. She takes regular AR-10 style mags, which you will notice that the Brits use PMAGs (doesn’t everyone).

What she looks like with her shit together

With the U.S. Army looking for a new commercial-off-the-shelf Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) in 7.62x51mm, you better believe guns like the LMT 308MWS are being looked at.

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