Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Range Trip...Meh. But new AR Carbine!

Some days, even the range isn't fun.

Today, I went out with J.R. and Proud Hillbilly. I brought a few items that needed more testing, specificaly the Uzi with it's new suppressor, the Reising, and a new AR carbine that I just finished putting together. And while J.R. was having a great day with his custom Ruger 10-22, I was getting nothing but grief from my own hardware.

To begin with, the Uzi is still choking on my 147gr. reloads. Every few rounds, I'll get one that for whatever reason stops the bolt before it goes fully closed. I can't see anything wrong with these rounds, and it always fires them on the second try, but whatever the problem is, it's stopping the gun. And the only ammo that it's doing this with is my subsonic loads, so I can't just blame the gun, which would be my choice since I can easily fix a gun problem just by swapping something out. Needless to say, by the time that I set the Uzi down on the table, I wasn't happy.

Then the Reising totally pissed me off with a near 100% fail to chamber rounds. This one I can at least chalk up to the Tula steel-cased ammo that I bought for this test--obviously the old gun doesn't care for the Tula. Still, it was a day wasted, a gun dirtied and I have ninety rounds of Tula steel-case that I have to get rid of.

Next, PH and I shot pistols for a bit. She had her Glock with some reloads that she's put together and I set up my chronograph to check her loads. They could probably stand a bit more "oomph" but the velocity consistency was great considering the equipment that I know her to be using. She's obviously not just slopping the rounds together. I shot my Smith and Wesson Model 58, and together we took turns shooting at a plastic laundry detergent jug placed on the backstop berm. Big difference indeed between the impacts of her lightly-loaded 9mm full metal jacket rounds and my fairly hot .41 Magnum lead semi-wadcutter rounds.

Now I was feeling a little better. When the guns and ammo work like they should, recoil therapy quickly makes all the world's problems go away. Sigh.

Then it was time to try the new rifle, which is actually not "new" new, as I basically re-purposed my old 16" .300 Blackout rifle by putting a new 16" lightweight 5.56mm barrel on it with a mid-length gas system. Fact is, the .300 was nice, but I didn't need it as I now have the short-barreled .300, and rather than just let it sit or sell it off, I figured why not recycle it into something I'd get more use out of?

So here it is, with it's matching green Magpul furniture and it's Aimpoint PRO on top.
It's an Essential Arms lower with an Aero Precision upper, a Del-Ton lightweight barrel and miscellaneous pieces and parts from out of my spare parts box. I decided to stay with the traditional AR front sight base, and I went with a mid-length gas system on this one, but for the advantage of a longer/lighter recoil impulse and a longer sight radius. The Mag-pul rear back-up sight lines up perfectly on the FSB even through the Aimpoint optic and both are now roughly zeroed to the point where I'm at least not unhappy with them.
And yes, that is an old three-prong early M-16 flash hider on the muzzle. While I will eventually mount an AAC 51-tooth flash-hider on there which will allow me to put the Blackout's suppressor on it, that'll have to wait another paycheck or two. So in the interim, I figured a standard A1 or A2 flash hider'd be just fine. Only what did I not have in my spare parts box? That's right--not a single birdcage flash hider. Fortunately I did still have this old three-prong sitting on my desk as a paperweight, so I pressed it into service on this rifle until I could get something better. Still you have to admit, it looks pretty cunning, eh?
And something else I added to this one is a proper Ambidextrous safety. When I was out in Utah last year taking that great carbine class with Warrior Six, I learned that an ambi safety is an absolute must-have for a left-handed AR shooter. So I got this one from Rousch Sports, and I'm impressed enough with it's fit and function that I'll be ordering more for my other ARs.
So how did it shoot, you ask? Well the first round fired was a malfunction as the spent round refused to extract. The second and third were misfires too, and as PH can attest, I was ready to lose it, this coming on top of the failures of the two subguns. But then I realized that I was shooting this crap:
This 42-grain frangible ammo from Federal is meant to replicate the ballistics of the M855 62gr. green-tip ball ammo in a "safer" and lead-free form for training. I was blessed/cursed with a gift of a thousand rounds of it last year just before my carbine class, and it fouled my rifle up so often that I won special mention for the speed and style with which I executed my countless malfunction drills during most every course of fire all week-end. I've been burning the remains of this case up for casual plinking, and this rifle didn't care for it one bit. But then I switched over to my own reloads, some nice 55gr. ball, and it ate sixty of those without a hiccup. Then it finished off the rest of the magazine of the frangible stuff without a problem. I guess that it just needed a bit of breaking-in before it could digest that junk.

But it shoots good, and I, Proud Hillbilly and JR each used it to shatter every sporting clay paced on the 50-yard berm. It looks to be a good shooter and it's a couple of pounds lighter than my old carbine that sports a heavy 14.5" machine gun barrel. (Back when I built that one, the 1993 Clinton Ban panic was in full swing, and you took what you could get and were grateful for it.)
Old School, meet New School.

So, four guns to the range, and a 50% satisfaction rate. But those two felt so good to shoot that I'm not even irked about the two that didn't...well almost.


  1. Anonymous8:20 PM

    A bad day shooting is better than a good day at work

  2. I suspect either high primers, that is those not seated fully in, or you are using a hard primer, possibly small rifle primers.

    1. No, primers are inspected on each loaded cartridge, and I'm using new Winchester small pistol primers. I'm suspecting that the lack of a taper crimp on the case mouth might be the cause, and I've got some test rounds ready to try tomorrow morning.

  3. At the risk of a stupid question, have you checked the Reising with a headspace gage? And a check of the ammunition with a case gage?

    The AR looks great, and you are right about buying rifles in 1993. I have since changed my first AR from what I could get, into what I wanted to get. And yes, the AR thing can rapidly get a little out of hand. But in a good way.

    1. It's not headspace. The bolt just drives the cartridges forward and crushes them against the feed ramp. They don't even reach the chamber. But when they do, they fire, extract and eject beautifully.

    2. Ok, well then perhaps a comparison of the problem ammunition with known good ammunition at a machine shop or a manufacturer with an optical comparator? Or maybe since I have not worked in a machine shop since 1972 or so, the modern digital version of the optical comparator

      Next does anyone out there in the internet world have access to one of the really high speed cameras?

  4. A day shooting - even with a few hiccups - is generally better than any other day!


  5. Dang, almost makes me wish I lived in VA so I could come out to the range with you guys. Hoping to get my 308 sighted in up at my Dad's cabin this weekend. Put a new scope on at Xmas and haven't touched it since.

  6. Heh. There was soooo much bad language...

    I make my own laundry detergent, so I never have bright jugs, but I do go through a lot of white vinegar, so I'll be hanging onto those jugs from now on. Definately nice bit of variety.

  7. At least you got to the range... And troubleshooting is a fact of life...

  8. Any range day is a good day. Sigh. And never enough.

  9. Any range time is good! Even with the cussing. Hm... "Old school, new school..." Wanders off to the safe =)

  10. Nice Carbine BTW!

  11. Hit up Taylor Pickerell at Integral Arms in LA. He seems to be a guru at getting stuff to work and was the only guy in the NFA group to even come back on my query on your Reising. 9852402226.