I know it isn’t the year 1902, and I am not a rich, English aristocrat sipping single malt scotch and wondering what the common people are up to today. I am, however, going to talk about an exciting sport that is very easily obtainable by today’s working man or woman. If you have never had the pleasure of shooting sporting clays, you are missing out on a potentially great time. Now that the summer heat is just beginning to taper off a bit, shooters and outdoorsmen alike are dusting off their guns, grabbing their ammo boxes, and heading out to the ranges all across our great nation. On your trip to your favorite gun range, you might take a detour just this once, and find your local sporting clay range (mine has both).
With its roots coming from England, sporting clays is a shotgun shooting game in which a device presents clay pigeons to the gunner in ways that mirror the flight pattern of game birds, or occasionally rabbits, in their natural habitats. Course designers lay out the shooting grounds in stations (also called stands or “butts,” the British term) with each station representing one type of bird or a combination of game; a rabbit and a grouse, for example.
During the course, shooters get to engage about 100 birds across 5 to 10 stations. The fun of the game is that you never know where your targets are coming from, or how fast they will fly through the air. The original purpose of the sport was to imitate shooting live quarry.
When shooting clays, a shotgun is used. These guns vary widely, but the most common types in use are over and under, side by side, automatic, and pump shotguns. The side by side and over and under shotguns are advantageous due to the fact that they can fire successive shots almost instantly, giving the shooter more time to aim. Semi automatic shotguns are becoming more popular due to their increased availability, growing reliability, and lower cost. Somewhat less popular are the pump shotguns, which most serious clay shooters consider less desirable.
Sporting Clay Shooting
In the United States, the National Sporting Clays Association is the main governing body for competitive clays. The NSCA currently has over 22,000 members and over 600 clubs that host registered and recreational shoots. The organization is non-profit, and keeps records of their members’ scores in competition, registers shoots for the clubs and associations, holds national championship competitions each year, and provides a myriad awards for outstanding achievements.
The best way to get better at shooting is to compete. Shooting in a competitive environment will undoubtedly increase your skill as a shotgunner. Sporting clays offers a safe and fun environment to increase your skills, and allows us simple commoners to compete in an activity that the upper crust of English society once reserved for themselves.
Camouflaging rifles used to be problematic. After degreasing the rifle, a base coat of paint had to be applied with a spray can or airbrush. The base coat was followed by additional coats of different colors to eventually create the camo pattern. If you wanted a really nice job you could carefully mask areas of the gun with masking tape before spraying, or you could just “free hand” with a spray can over and over again until it either looked right or became a dripping, sticky mess. Guess which method I usually did? Paint laid on too thick starts chipping and peeling, and cleaning solvents eat through it quickly. It can gum up controls such as safeties and magazine release buttons. Doing the job right is time intensive and there is a lot of trial and error.
Multicam is very difficult to paint, but easy for hydrographics.
Now there’s a better way. You can camouflage your entire rifle by dunking it in your bathtub, using a process known as hydrographics. The heart of it is a sheet of film that looks like Christmas wrapping paper, in a camouflage pattern (as an official redneck I just repeated myself there). One side of the film is water soluble, and the film is placed in a tub of water with that side down. The film floats on the water until the other side of it is sprayed with an activator (think hairspray), which dissolves the top side of the film and makes it super sticky. Now the dissolved film is floating suspended on the top of the water, like motor oil. Slowly dunking your rifle into the water wraps the film around it, coating the entire thing in the camo pattern immediately. After giving it a bit of a stir to let any loose bits of film fall away, the rifle is carefully removed from the water, making sure not to touch any remaining film on the way out. Then the rifle is sprayed down with a clearcoat to help add some scratch resistance to the camo pattern coating. All done! The coating is durable enough to help protect the metal parts underneath it from rust, but also thin enough to not fill up the slots in screws or limit the travel of important pins and detents. It has proven to be very resistant to gun cleaning solvents, scratches and abrasions—resistant enough that dipped rifles are starting to be offered straight from high quality manufacturers.
Dozens of companies specializing in hydrographics have sprung up in the past couple of years, and the results obtained by professionals who get in a lot of practice with the process are going to be of the highest quality. For do-it-yourselfers like me, companies are now selling kits with everything you need to try dipping on your own. New hydrographic film patterns are being created all the time, so competition shooters have been using it to put flaming skulls and other crazy designs on their brightly colored custom guns. Of course, firearms aren’t the only items being coated either. Anything that can be safely immersed in water, and which the film will stick to, can be coated. The process is being used by the custom car industry to give car dashboards and other parts the look of being made with exotic wood or carbon fiber.
Of course, a lot of shooters will always prefer the classic look of blued metal and a checkered wood stock. To some, the AR-15 will always be “the black rifle.” But we all like to customize our guns sometimes, and hydrographic dipping allows you to personalize your firearm in a vivid way, without having to mess with paint at all!
A black rifle no more, this AR is has been customized by its happy owner.
Something different came from Ruger today for us to test out. A while ago, Ruger developed the bolt action Ruger 77 in the .44 magnum cartridge. This gun was great for short to medium range hunting and incorporated Ruger’s rotary magazine design. Now Ruger has unveiled the 77 in the .357 cartridge. The concept of using large pistol calibers for hunting is not new. People have been hunting medium sized game with .357 pistols for years, but with the longer barrel and precision of a bolt-action rifle, the .357 is even more effective.
The Ruger weighs in at a mere 5.5 pounds and the 18.5-inch barrel makes maneuvering in thick brush relatively easy. The one in sixteen right hand twist helps make the rifle deadly accurate. When fired, the recoil feels closer to a .22 than a magnum pistol round. Ruger used hammer-forged stainless steel for the barrel. The receiver is also stainless and has integrated scope bases for the Ruger scope rings, which I am happy to say, are included. Quality mounts and rings are costly, and Ruger used high quality stainless steel, which will stand the test of time with few issues. The rifle is an overall 38.5 inches in length and has a 13.5-inch length of pull. In case you aren’t using a scope, the rifle in equipped with iron sights and the rear sight is adjustable.
The stainless steel bolt lifts 90 degrees and the bolt locks at the rear of the receiver. When removing the bolt assembly, you have to open the bolt, pull the trigger, and engage a small bolt release button on the back of the chamber. The safety has three positions. When the safety is in the rear position, the trigger is blocked, and the bolt will not open, in the middle position, the trigger is still blocked but you can open the bolt and empty the rifle. While in the forward position, the rifle is set to fire or load.
The magazine holds five rounds and uses Ruger’s rotary magazine design. This design makes the bottom of the magazine flush with the bottom of the rife, as opposed to a tall box magazine in an AR-style rifle. Ruger included stainless steel feed lips on the magazine to increase durability. The follower is made of polymer and cycles .357 ammunition well. When extracting, the empty shells shot quite far forward and to the right, about six feet. It should be noted that Ruger included an instruction manual insert, warning that the 77 was chambered to shoot only .357 ammunition. While hand loading .38 special ammunition into the chamber directly will work, filling the magazine with .38 special will invite feeding problems, and should be avoided.
The stock of the 77 is made of a black synthetic polymer, and looks very modern when paired to the stainless steel barrel. The feel of the rifle is quite comfortable and feels similar to most standard carbine style hunting rifles. Included on the stock are swivel sling mounts, which is a necessity for any hunting rifle.
Out of the box, this carbine is perfect for hunting in thick brush, for up to 150 yards. The pistol ammunition is more than powerful enough to take down a deer or hog at close to medium range. The Ruger 77 is a perfect addition for any hunter who wants a ranch gun to throw in the truck, or take out on long treks in the brush.
Shooters have used variants of the M14 in shooting matches for years. From 1959 to 1970, the United States issued the M14 as its standard-issue rifle until replacing it with the M16. It remains in limited service with all the branches of the military not only in sniper variants, but also as ceremonial rifles. The M14 was the last so-called “battle rifle,” meaning it was a rifle designed for combat, that fired a full-sized rifle round, in this case, the 7.62 x 51 NATO. The rifle was incredibly accurate but some said it was “too good” of a rifle for the average soldier. Studies during WWII showed that most soldiers took shots at enemy targets at very close range; therefore, there was no need for a rifle that would reach out to an effective range of 500 yards. Despite its incredible accuracy, the rifle was almost uncontrollable when fired in fully automatic mode. This led to some M14’s permanently set to semi automatic. During the Vietnam War, the harsh tropical climate caused the wooden stocks on some rifles to swell, decreasing the accuracy and overall performance of the gun. Some soldiers complained that the rifle was too large to wield in dense jungle. Despite these drawbacks, many soldiers favored the M14 over the M16 due to its much more powerful round.
Springfield M1A National Match Barrel
After Vietnam, the weapon has made a name for itself as a modified sniper rifle. Randy Shughart used an M14 to defend the crash site of a Black Hawk helicopter during the highly publicized battle for Mogadishu. Hollywood later immortalized that battle in the motion picture Black Hawk Down. The U.S. Army posthumously awarded Shughart the Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts in defending the downed chopper that day. Outside of the military, Springfield currently produces the M1A, the civilian variant of the M14, to sell to the general population. These rifles are highly sought after by collectors and sportsmen alike. The .308 ammunition is perfect for hunting game, or hitting targets at great distances. In the shooting sports world, shooters have had great success with the M1A in three-gun matches, as well as having its own event in the Camp Perry National Rifle and Pistol Championships. Despite its short service life, the M1A has proven itself a highly effective weapon both on and off the battlefield.
American Eagle Tactical .223 Remington ammo is manufactured by ATK/Federal Ammunition, the same company that makes all the ammo for the US military. Each 20 round black box is glued shut all around to avoid spilling rounds during storage. Featuring an M193 specification 55 grain full metal jacket boat tail bullet screaming out the muzzle at 3250 feet per second, this round’s accuracy is proven in barrels of any standard twist rate from 1:7 to 1:12. Loaded to SAAMI specifications of not more than 55,000 psi chamber pressure, this ammo is safe to shoot in rifles marked either “.223 Rem” or “5.56 NATO” and is a natural choice for AR15s and Ruger Mini-14s. At this price, why not leave the .22 conversions behind on your next range trip, and get some practice in with the real stuff?
Seen in many forms around the world, the Mossberg 500 and 590 series shotguns are one of the most prolific shotguns in production. Featured in countless movies and television shows, the 500 series enjoys a status among owners as one of the most varied shotguns in the world. Countless builds and modifications are available making it one of the most versatile guns ever produced.
Produced in 1961 by O.F. Mossberg & Sons, the Mossberg 500 quickly built a positive reputation. Many shooters appreciated it for its high level of reliability and ease of maintenance. Mossberg designed the tolerances in such a way that the gun can operate in very harsh and dirty conditions such as waterfowl hunting or warfare. Because of the tolerances, racking a shell into the chamber of a Mossberg is quite noisy compared to some other pump shotguns. Some people view this as a positive, since the sound of a shotgun chambering can be intimidating. This ability to function regardless of the surroundings gave the 500 a very positive reputation in a very short time.
Why is this shotgun so popular? Value for your dollar is most definitely a huge reason. The Mossberg 500 carries a reasonable price tag, and has a very good reputation for being reliable. It can also chamber a three-inch shell and fire just about any kind of specialty shotgun ammunition. The Mossberg also features an aluminum alloy receiver, rather than steel. Some shooters view the aluminum receiver as a negative, but others see it as an effective way to keep the gun lighter, making it easier to carry long distances.
One of the main advantages to a Mossberg 500 is the number of options a shooter has from which to choose.
Field Models: These are basic hunting models, which have a variety of barrel lengths and finishes.
Home Defense Models: Available exclusively in .410, these models are intended for defensive situations at very close range. Achieving less wall penetration with the far less powerful round is important for bystanders as well.
Law Enforcement Models: Feature heavy barrels, metal trigger guards and metal safeties.
Special Purpose Models: Intended for tactical use, these models feature shorter barrels and often have a large variety of specialty parts. They are not the same as the law enforcement models due to the lack of heavy-duty barrels, as well as metal parts on the trigger guard, and safeties
A US soldier in Ar Ramadi, Iraq in 2004 armed with a Mossberg 500
The Mossberg 500 series has many positive design features. The safety sits on the tang of the gun, and is accessible for both left and right-handed shooters. The slide release sits just at the left rear of the trigger guard; this allows minimal adjustment to cock the weapon. Originally, the 500 used a single action bar, but this Mossberg later replaced with a dual action bar in 1970.
The Mossberg 500 is currently in service with the United States Military, Malaysia and the Netherlands’ Korps Commandotroepen, their elite Special Forces unit. Despite the much higher cost, the Marines have officially switched to the Benelli M4. Other branches are still ordering new Mossberg 500’s however.
Fifty years of service has allowed the Mossberg 500 to develop into a top-notch shotgun that owners can modify to suit almost any purpose. Mossberg clearly stuck to the philosophy that if it isn’t broke, there is no need to fix it.
Last week, Ruger announced the launch of the new Ruger 77/357, which is a bolt action rifle chambered in .357 Magnum. I got to thinking about this gun, and despite the fact that it only has a 5 round magazine, when paired with a revolver also chambered in .357 Magnum such as the Smith & Wesson 686 you have yourself an almost perfect “zombie combo”, or more accurately you’ve got a great rifle/pistol combination for the woods.
BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP
The Ruger 77/357 has all the desirable aspects of a great “bug out rifle” – it’s light, coming in at only 5.5 pounds, can readily accept modern optics (and would probably be a pretty sweet pairing with an Aimpoint), and it’s chambered in what is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges in existence. .357 Magnum is available in pressures from mild cowboy action loads at 1000 FPS with all lead bullets all the way up to 200 grain bear-killing hardcast bullets at ungodly velocities. However, for a good “general use” round it’s hard to beat a 158 grain JHP, like this one from BVAC. The BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP is cruising at around 1200 FPS from a pistol, which means from a rifle you should see a velocity increase of around 100-200 FPS at the muzzle. That’s plenty of bullet to deal with many of the 4 legged dangers you might encounter during a rural bug out situation, and of course the .357 is well proven as a fight stopping projectile for two-legged danger.
I honestly think that pairing a .357 bolt gun with a revolver makes more sense as a bug out gun combo for 99% of the popular than an AR15 pattern rifle and a hi-cap 9mm. I like that you only have to carry one kind of ammo, the revolver isn’t dependent on magazines to keep it in action, and while the bolt gun does feed from magazines in an emergency it can be used as a single shot rifle if you lose the magazines. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have an AR and a Glock with 400 mags for each gun, but if you’re on a limited budget, it makes more sense to me to drop $650 on the new Ruger 77/357 and another $460 on a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum than it does to go out and spend the money on an AR and whatever other pistol you need. .357 ammo is relatively cheap, with lead practice ammo running about the same as .40 S&W and less than 5.56 ammo. A bolt gun in .357 and a good revolver in the same chambering will solve 99% of the situations I can imagine getting myself into during a short term survival emergency!
After April of 1917, the United States Army was waging a terrible war in Europe. The US Military was deadlocked in a struggle with Germany in the war to end all wars. The conflict saw the use of machine guns, artillery, and chemical weapons. The carnage was on a scale previously unseen on the word stage. Despite the use of devastatingly effective weapons, the major powers that were competing for dominance locked themselves in a never-ending stalemate. The standoff was partially due to the implementation of trench warfare. Out of date military tactics had not kept up with weapons technology. The commanders on both sides failed to come up with strategies that allowed armies to take ground without heavy casualties. US soldiers needed something different to assist them in sweeping out German trenches. John Browning had been kind enough to develop something years earlier that would assist our troops in doing just that.
The army issued the M1903 Springfield to most of its doughboys during the war. The Springfield is a legendary bolt-action rifle that is effective to up to 1,100 yards. Although the Springfield was an effective battle rifle, it only shot one round at a time, and the bullet only hit in one area. A shotgun offered something different, although not effective at long range; a pump shotgun could engage a large number of targets inside 22 yards. Couple that with a bayonet and one shotgun soldier could give a whole squad of enemy troops a very hard time. The army chose to use a slightly modified version of the Winchester Model 1897, or M97. The M97 used a perforated steel heat shield on top of the barrel, and a bayonet lug for attaching the M1917 bayonet. It held a maximum of five shells in the chamber with one in the barrel, for a total of six rounds. Unlike most modern hammerless shotguns, the M97 could be slam-fired. All the shooter had to do was hold back the trigger while pumping through the rounds and the weapon would continue to cycle. Incredibly, American Soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting deployed themselves in positions where they could take out enemy hand grenades in mid air. Enemy messenger pigeons were also on the target list. The gun was so effective that in late September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest. They were attempting to ban the Winchester model 1897 shotgun, arguing that the weapon was illegal because it caused unnecessary suffering. The United States Army promptly rejected the German’s diplomatic proposal.
An M97 and a Norinco
The Model 1897 improved upon its predecessor, the Model 1893. Winchester strengthened the frame to allow for 2 3/4– and 2 5/8-inch shells. The designers placed the ejector on the side, rather than the top, which allowed a much greater amount of strength in the frame. While firing, the recoil of the gun gave a slight forward motion to the slide handle, which released the action, enabling immediate cycling of the gun. If the operator was not firing the gun, the slide handle had to be pushed forward manually in order to release the action slide lock.
Winchester produced several variants of the Model 1897 until 1957. During its 60 years on the market, Winchester produced over one million 1897s. Recently, Norinco (Interstate Arms) has developed a Winchester clone called the 97. Modern variants include the 97W, and the 97T. The 97W is the standard Winchester clone, while the 97T is a trench gun replica. Both are popular models since the original trench guns can cost upwards of 3,000 dollars, and are highly valued by collectors.
The 1897 in all its variants continues to be a popular choice among shotgun enthusiasts. Its legendary wartime record, combined with over a century of hunting experience, makes the 1897 a solid choice for any collector.
On Monday at the Shooter’s Log, I took a look at the 2011 Carolina Cup and the kind of match it was. In short, it was the perfect example of what an IDPA match should be. Today on Gun Nuts I want to take a look at the gear I used for the match and how it performed, starting with my most important piece of gear: my gun. I’ve been running a Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations for a while now, and as many people have seen the gun has picked up some customized touches.
The gun is now sporting a 10-8 Performance Flat trigger, TechWell TGO Magwell, 10-8 Performance u-shaped rear notch, and an STI single side thumb safety. During the Carolina Cup, the Sig went 213 rounds of ammo without a single bobble or malfunction, and has fired over 2000 rounds now since its last stoppage of any type. One interesting issue I ran in to is something I’ve experienced with Techwell grips in the past, where the grip screws will start backing out after 50 or so rounds of ammo. I’m going to put some small star washers under the screws to see if that solves the problem, because the current remedy of “tighten the grip screws every couple of stages” is kind of annoying.
My holster remained the same holster I’ve been using all year for IDPA – a Comp-Tac Speed Paddle, although the model I use for the Sig TacOps is somewhat…modified. To find a holster that fits the Sig’s slide profile, I actually special ordered a Speed Paddle for a Sig P250 with an open muzzle, and then cranked the retention down until it fit the TacOps. The result is a really great holster that provides excellent retention and speed for IDPA. At the upcoming Virginia State match this weekend I’m going to be using a Galco Triton, my actual carry holster for the entire match. My belt is also a Comp-Tac, their polymer reinforced belts are absolutely top notch.
People don’t think that their clothes are part of their gear, but the fact of the matter is that they certainly are. One of my biggest sponsors is Woolrich Elite Tactical Gear, who has provided me with vests, shirts, and pants for shooting IDPA and USPSA this season. The Elite Pant has honestly been the best thing that’s happened to me this season. Even in the sweltering North Carolina heat, I was comfortable in my Woolrich pants, and I was especially glad to be wearing them on a number of stages that involved low cover. For CDP shooters, the pant’s “cell phone pocket” that’s located on the thigh is the perfect place for the barney mag. I’ve got to stick that extra round somewhere, and it’s much easier to get to in a simple flap pocket than it would be if I had to fish around in a deep cargo pocket.
My magazines are probably the most important part of the gun, and for mags I have been using Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines with great success. They work reliably, are cost effective, and the best part about the screw-on basepads is that they don’t fall off when you’re practicing reloads on an unforgiving concrete surface. I have 10 of these mags, and whenever I’m at the gunshop I’ll usually buy 2 or 3 more if I can afford it. Since life is too short for crappy mags, you can’t have too many!
The gear you use is an important part of your competition system. On Monday I’ll talk about how important it is to have ammo in your gun that you trust 100% in addition to everything else.
On today’s special Down Zero TV, we take a look at our first USPSA Classifier Breakdown. Today’s classifier is CM 09-14: Eye of the Tiger. This is a classifier that has given me trouble in the past; when I shot it for the first time I managed to score 18% in what I termed my first ever “classifier meltdown.” So when I had the chance to go after it again, I was pretty excited. Plus I got to play with slow motion on my video editor and mess around with voice overs.
Now, I mentioned in the video that I need to work on my press-out, and that’s very true. The problem is that I’ve developed an excellent physical index for my draw, which means that in most situations when I’m facing the target I can just draw the gun and it will magically appear in the A-zone or the down zero area. This becomes an issue when I’m drawing to a low probability target like a head box or a partially obscured target. You’ll see in the video that my gun comes out to the target, then bobs up as I correct my aim to get the shots on target. That bob is HUGE in terms of the amount of time it takes in the draw stroke and was likely the difference between an A-class score and a B-class score on that particular run.
I’ll always probably be a little intimidated by Eye of the Tiger, since it’s the only classifier that I’ve ever well and truly screwed up on. But to go from an 18% to a 68% is a pretty huge improvement!
Many people have differing ideas about what a backup gun is. Is it a good idea to sacrifice magazine capacity for size? What caliber is best? What about reliability or accuracy? Some of you might be familiar with small pocket-sized pistols such as the Ruger LC9 or the Kahr PM9. These small, concealable firearms allow shooters to carry a bit of extra firepower out of sight. The new Diamondback firearm is something to consider. What if you had a firearm smaller than most .380 pistols that can carry a six-round magazine of 9mm stopping power, ready to fly at a moments notice? Enter the Diamondback DB9.
The first and most obvious advantage to this firearm is the ballistic superiority of the 9mm cartridge. Some experts say that the .380 round, in general, will expand or penetrate, not both. 9mm ammunition tends not to have this problem. There is a reason why many law enforcement and military personnel use the 9mm. It is light enough to carry a lot of ammunition, and heavy enough to put a bad guy down, which, for a belly gun, seems ideal to me. The next major feature this firearm brings to the table is its incredibly small size. At only .8 inches wide, it is just a tiny bit wider than the handle on my coffee cup. It fits on the inside of my belt line much more comfortably than any other 9mm’s I have tried. This could be, however, due to the lack of a slide catch on the side of the weapon. The grip is still easy to handle despite its ultra thin physique. The extended bottom plate makes holding this firearm much more comfortable. The ridges on the sides of the grip help to hold the gun firmly in your hand. Striations along the slide aid in chambering a round. When empty, the gun weighs in at only 11 ounces and has a very balanced feel. A steel trigger with dual-connecting bars allows for a crisp smooth, five-pound double-action-0nly (DAO) trigger pull. I noticed almost no creaking when cycling the weapon. Accuracy seemed to be spot on, the rounds shot to point of aim with no problem. The three-dot sight system on top of the gun is adjustable for windage, but did not need adjusting out of the box.
In firing the weapon, recoil was fairly pronounced but in a straight line, as opposed to whipping to one side or the other when cycling. We experienced no jamming or feeding problems when firing rounds through the gun.
Overall, the Diamondback DB9 is an excellent choice for a backup or belly gun. I like the idea of carrying something with a bit more bite than your average .380 pocket gun. A lot of firepower in a tiny, travel-sized package is to me, just plain genius.
Specifications and Features:
Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
Weight: 11 Ounces
Height: 4.00″ with mag
Barrel Length: 3.00″
Firing Mechanism: Striker Fire
The uber–concealable DB9 from Diamondback will pack six rounds in the mag and one in the chamber.
Diamondback’s DB9 measures a scant .80-inch wide making it easy to conceal and comfortable to carry.
It is quite obvious that I am a big fan of the 1911 platform, so much so that I will shoot a 1911 in CDP at the inaugural IDPA World Championship later this year. That being said, shooting a lot of .45 ACP can be unpleasant, especially when you are running a 350-round practice session.
One of the hottest rifles to hit the market in the last year was the Bushmaster ACR, or Adaptive Combat Rifle. The rifle’s inclusion in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare caused a legion of fanboys to spring up overnight declaring the ACR the best rifle ever. I finally got to shoot one at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, where the side match was sponsored by Bushmaster using the ACR. However, I’m strictly an average rifle shooter. To really see the rifle put through its paces, here’s Dianna Liedorff from Team FNH rocking the Bushmaster ACR at the Bianchi Cup side match.
Dianna is one of the top female 3-gun shooters in the country, so watching her shoot the rifle is a lot of fun. It’s nice to see professionals doing what they do best. If you’re interested in getting one of your own, you can purchase a Bushmaster ACR here, and don’t forget to get some 30 round magazines to go with it!
Now that it’s Tuesday, I can finally look back and process all the great stuff that happened at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, from the shooting to the events and all the great people that I get to see at that match. Our previous update took a look at the shooting from Day 1, where I shot the Practical and the Barricades, and needed a strong performance on the Plates to keep me in the running for a win in Production/MM. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as the Plates struck me down with all their fury and I finished the plates with a disappointing 360-36x. Even with that score, I had a chance to hit my goal of a 1600 if I shot a 440 or better on the Mover on Day 3…and I came so close, shooting a new match-personal best on the Mover of 438. That left me with a final score of 1598-80x, which was good enough for 4th Place in Production/MM division.
Now I’m obviously disappointed with that score – I know I can shoot better, but I struggled on the Plates and the Barricade. However, there are a lot of positive takeaways from this match; one of the big ones is my X-count. Using a factory stock Sig P250, almost half the rounds I fired were X’s, meaning they hit the 4 inch black circle at the center of the target. That and my score are definite improvements from 2 years ago when I shot The Cup in ’09. So obviously I’m getting better…just not fast enough for my taste.
Caleb shooting the Celebrity Pro-Am photo by Maggie Reese www.maggiereeseshooting.com
Saturday brought my favorite day of Bianchi Cup – the Colt Speed Event and Celebrity ProAm Shoot Off. This event is put on for fans and for bragging rights; it’s a head to head shoot-off at five pieces of steel each. Fastest time wins. The top 4 finishers from Production, Metallic, and Open all compete to see who’s top dog, and then the organizers turn the celebs and media in attendance loose for the ProAm. The Celebrity event follows the same structure as the Colt Speed event, but with a slightly…uh…looser interpretation of the rules. That loose rule interpretation resulted in me being matched up against Dave Sevigny, and you know what? I did alright. I’ll have video of the Caleb vs. Dave matchup and the full story later in the week.
The 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup was a great experience for me this year. I learn things about my shooting during this match that I couldn’t learn from shooting Steel Challenge, IDPA, or USPSA and those lessons make me better at each of those sports. I’ll be back at the 2012 Bianchi Cup looking to improve my score by another 150 points, win Production/MM and put myself in the Top 20 again in Production Division overall.
Once again, if you’d like to run any of the gear I used during the Cup, here is the gear breakdown.
We’re going to have a tonne of exclusive video and other coverage up this week on the Shooter’s Log from Bianchi Cup, so make sure you check in tomorrow and through the rest of the week as the good stuff keeps on coming in.
Last Saturday, I was shooting in Arnold, MO just south of St. Louis for the Central States ProAm Speed Plates match. This is a state-level match that is styled after Steel Challenge, but also includes “outlaw” stages in addition to the standard Steel Challenge stages. I actually prefer outlaw steel matches because by including stages not in the “standard” Steel Challenge book, they actually level out the playing field a little bit. Check out this week’s video for two of the twelve stages I shot on Saturday.
And as usual, I’m wearing my Woolrich Elite Tactical Pants. But let’s get on to the match itself. We started shooting early in the day with six stages before lunch. At the half-time break, I was leading Production division by about 16 seconds, which meant all I needed to do was not pull a Peyton Manning and choke in the second half. My biggest weakness in matches like this the mental aspect; if I know I’m shooting well and have a lead, I honestly start to make mistakes. Especially if there’s a chance that I could walk away with the top dog award.
The second half of the match was a real roller coaster ride for me – for the first time in 3000 rounds, my Sig P250 malfunctioned. I had two separate failures to extract with the gun which caused me to really struggle on two of the final six stages. I was able to pull it back together, and the Sig ran flawlessly for the remainder of the match. After some waiting, the final results were posted – and I brought home my first Production win of the season! Check out the Top 5 Production shooters from the match.
Now comes the funny part – when I got back to my hotel, I took my Sig apart to see if I could figure out what caused the malfs. It turns out there was a bunch of crud caked on the extractor as a result of me not cleaning the gun for 3000 rounds. Apparently you do in fact need to clean guns occasionally. After cleaning the gun, I’ve not experienced any further issues.
For the rest of the week I’m in Columbia, Missouri for the NRA Bianchi Cup. Shooting officially starts on Wednesday, and I open my run at the Production Division with the Practical and the Barricades Wednesday morning, followed by the Falling Plates on Thursday. I close the week on Friday taking my shots at the Mover. Stay tuned for updates from Bianchi Cup!
Down Zero TV Stats
Major Match best finish: 1st (Production)
Major Match Most Accurate: 0 (no competitions yet)
At the 2010 SHOT Show, Colt relased the military version of their Modular Carbine, the CM901. This select-fire version was able to quickly and easily be converted from a standard 5.56 NATO platform to a 7.62 NATO platform, or even 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. This year, Colt released the civilian version of the CM901, the SP901.
The SP901 has ambidextrous controls – safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever and magazine release button.
********************************** Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.
Best of all, the “Modular” part of the rifle comes from the fact that any standard upper can be fitted to the lower receiver and fed with normal AR magazines with the use of an adapter. This adapter is still a closely guarded secret but look forward to seeing more on the Colt Modular Carbine after the new year. Stay tuned for more!
The Colt CM901 Modular Carbine is a select-fire AR (AR-10/AR-15)-platform weapon, so it will immediately look, feel, handle, and shoot in a way that’s immediately familiar to all military end-users, including general infantry personnel. It also benefits from the AR platform’s now legendary ergonomics/usernomics.
2) The CM901 multi-caliber battle carbine can be configured in any/every caliber between 7.62×51mm NATO (7.62mm NATO)/.308 Win. and 5.56×45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem., including 6.8 SPC (6.8×43mm SPC) and 6.5 Grendel, depending on what U.S. military end-users require. To switch from 7.62mm to 5.56mm, just push out the two receiver pins, take the 7.62×51mm upper module off, slap the 5.56mm upper module on, push the two receiver pins back in, and you’re good to go.
3) The CM901 universal lower receiver will accept any/all legacy MILSPEC 5.56mm NATO AR rifle/carbine/SBR upper receivers already in the U.S. military inventory, including the, Colt M4/M4A1 Carbine 14.5″ AR carbine , M4 Commando 11.5″ AR SBR, MK18/CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) 10.3″ AR SBR, and M16A3/A4 20″ DGI rifle uppers. The CM901 lower will also accept the Colt LE6940 16″ monolithic upper and Colt LE6920 16″ M4/M4A1 Carbine-type uppers. Thus, 5.56mm barrel length is determined by whatever AR upper you want to use. Defense Review test-fired the Colt CM901 7.62mm upper sporting a 16″ barrel, but it’s DR’s understanding at present that 13″, 18″, and 20″ barrels will also be available per customer request (unconfirmed/unverified).
4) While the CM901 7.62mm upper receiver is a monolithic upper/rail format with a direct gas impingement (DGI) operating system, the CM901 can utilize just about any 5.56mm rifle/carbine/SBR operating system that Colt manufactures, including the Colt M4/M4A1 DGI system, Colt APC (Advanced Piston Carbine)articulating-link gas piston/op-rod (operating rod) system, Colt AHC (Advanced Hybrid Carbine) DGI/piston-driven hybrid system, and Colt ACC-M (Advanced Colt Carbine-Monolithic) monolithic DGI upper. Defense Review does not yet know whether or not the CM901 lower can be configured to work with the Colt SCW (Sub-Compact Weapon) SBR upper, since the SCW utilizes a special short buffer system and buffer tube, which allows it to utilize a folding/telescoping buttstock.
5) The CM901 sports fully ambidextrous controls a.k.a. “full ambi controls”, including ambidextrous safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever, and magazine release button.
6) The CM901 when configured for .308 Win utilizes the MagPul 20LR 7.62 magazine. The weapon will also accept the SR25/M100 7.62mm magazine. The weapon when configured for 5.56mm will accept all “MILSPEC” 5.56mm magazines.
7) Being an AR, the CM901 can utilize some aftermarket tactical AR rifle parts and accessories, like telescoping/retractable buttstocks, and trigger/hammer groups. Colt Defense had both Vltor IMOD and Vltor EMOD stocks for the CM901 prototype on hand, while I was there, but you can stick a MagPul CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) stock or LMT SOPMOD/SOCOM/Crane NSW stock on there, if you’d like. Editor’s Note: Defense Review likes all three buttstocks (Vltor IMOD, MagPul CTR, and LMT SOPMOD).
The CM901 will provide the military end-user with a select-fire AR platform weapon in any caliber between 5.56mm and 7.62×51mm, allowing him to use any “MILSPEC” 5.56mm AR upper receiver he wants, also allowing him to use any 5.56mm AR operating system Colt Defense offers, and lets him choose his barrel length. Colt Defense is even in the process of developing their articulating link piston and DGI/piston hybrid operating systems for the 7.62×51mm CM901 upper receiver module.
The CM901 Upper Receiver Modularity concept: just change out your upper receiver assembly to re-configure the weapon for the mission, without having to re-zero your weapon and you’re ready to go. Examples of upper receiver configurations users could have are:
Military operators are already used to swapping out AR uppers with optics pre-mounted and zero’d. They like this system, and they trust it–and it’s already battle-proven.
Defense Review spoke with CTT Solutions/Grey Group Training tactical instructor, retired U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) assaulter/operator, and Defense Review contributor Mike Pannone a few days ago about the CM901, and asked him his opinion about it vs. the FN SCAR weapons, assuming FN fully develops the SCAR “common receiver”. Mike prefers the AR rifle system’s upper receiver modularity to the FN SCAR quick-change barrel system/”trigger module” combo, and he had this to say (or, in this case, write) about a barrel change/lower receiver module system (SCAR) vs. modular upper receiver change system (CM901):
People often confuse quick change with modularity when it comes to weapons systems. They are in fact completely different concepts in nearly every regard.
For the sake of discussion let’s talk about quick-change barrels vs. modular upper receivers (AR/M-4 type platform).
First, the definition: quick-change means that parts of an existing weapons system can be replaced with the same replacement part (think fixture point, not cosmetics or barrel length) in a relatively rapid manner with minimal or no tools. I emphasize “relatively” because that is subject to end user specifications. Quick change can be 5 minutes (LMT MRP barrel) or 10 seconds (M249 barrel), so it’s relative.
Modular means a family of parts and accessories will fit on any system that uses a standardized mounting platform. The AR family of weapons and the [Mil-Std-1913] Picatinny rail are the best example of modularity. The AR system, as well, is in its 2 primary components a modular system; push two pins and you can swap complete uppers, even between nearly all manufacturers.
The capability provided by the CM901 gives an additional dimension to [military] operators. No longer will a warfighter get stuck running a DMR [Designated Marksman Rifle] in an urban warfare environment, where the platform might not suit that particular moment of combat. Those days of a sniper carrying a rifle in a backpack, while fighting his way into position with a handier weapon, are a thing of the past with the advent of the CM901. Today, a warfighter can have his cake and eat it too, fighting with a MK18 Mod1 on a CM901 lower while the .308-based CM901 is carried in a padded backpack. When the occasion arises, the operator can change out the 5.56mm CQB-R and instantly go to a .308 rifle [CM901 7.62mm upper] for the counter sniper role, or any situation that requires a designated marksman.
The only downfall I see would be the logistics of keeping two separate calibers within one shooter’s loadout. But with 5.56 [mags] carried on the vest, the .308 magazines could be carried in a pack since the shooter is already dropping the backpack in order to access the .308 platform.
Colt Defense’s approach to weapon design is to determine the warfighter requirement and then to provide a solution.
Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.
The following are some Colt CM901 specs:
Direct Gas System
Caliber: .308 winchester
Barrel: 16.1″ heavy profile full floated, chromed, 4 grooves, 1:12″ RH twist
Pronged Flash Hider and Bayonet Lug
Flip-Up, adjustable front and rear sights
Length Extended: 37.5″
Length Collapsed: 34.24″
Weights: 9.4 lbs
Accepts Mil-Spec 5.56 Colt Uppers
Colt CM901 7.62×51mm Carbine Features:
• Universal Lower Receiver-
– Unique design enables use of multiple calibers from 5.56 x 45mm up to and including 7.62 x 51mm available within a single serialized receiver
– Compatible with legacy M4/M16 magazines, and upper receiver/barrel assemblies with multiple barrel lengths
– Built in ambidextrous bolt catch, magazine catch, and selector
– Compatible with M4/M16 Trigger mechanisms
– Configurable with new Colt operating systems and designs
• Modular One-Piece Upper Receiver-
– Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum
– Steel inserts in critical wear areas provide higher level of reliability and extended service life of upper receiver
– Integral continuous MIL-STD-1913 rail extends the length of the receiver, providing rigidity, and uninterrupted mounting space
– Rigid MIL-STD-1913 rails at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
– Removable Lower Rail at the 6 o’clock position allows for attachment of accessories like the forward grip, M203 and M320 grenade launchers, and other mission essential ancillary devices
Free floating barrel, 4 groove, 1 in 12” twist rate
Available in optional barrel lengths of 13”, 16, & 18”
Suppression Capable- Utilizes the SEI Vortex Compensator
– New advanced material providing extended service life of the bolt and reduces life-cycle costs
New Robust Polymer Construction
Compatible with the M110, MK11, and SR25 metal magazines
• Adjustable Folding Front Sight
Offers mounting of multiple sights and ancillary devices without obstruction of standard front sight post
• Mil-Spec Hard Coat Anodize-
– Available in multiple camouflage colors and patterns
Colt CM901 Benefits:
– Modular operating system
• Universal Lower Receiver permits the individual user — with no special tools — to convert a “single serialized lower receiver” into multiple caliber, barrel-length, and operating system configurations
• Eliminates need for non-standard weapon systems, and training for those systems, that are currently employed in the Battlespace in order to support Warfighter Multi-Caliber requirements to meet changing mission needs
• Designed to accept all legacy M4/M16 Colt upper receiver assemblies
• Designed for ease of disassembly, maintenance, and reassembly
– Stable platform for mounting optics and other ancillary devices to enhance mission performance and capability
• Reliable Zero Retention and Zero Repeatability provided by the rigid one-piece upper receiver design
• One-Piece Upper Receiver design reduces the number of components, increases rigidity, and provides system weight savings
– Improved Durability and Reliability
• Hardened Steel inserts in high wear areas of the upper receiver provides extended life
• New Advanced Bolt material enhances system life
• New Extractor and Extractor Spring enhances system reliability and durability
– Improved Accuracy
• Free Floating Barrel system incorporates a new barrel extension to upper receiver interface to improve accuracy and hit probability
– Ergonomically compatible with the M4 Carbine
• Very low Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities (DOTMLPF) footprint in fielding to the Warfighter
• No need to re-train Warfighters on new system, only familiarize with upgrades