Monday, January 19, 2015

Rifle Suppressor Thoughts

Rifle Suppressor Observations

Like many American’s, I have a Rifle Suppressor or as more commonly known, a Silencer. As this is a NFA controlled item, I did research before purchasing it. After purchasing it, and the following 9 month wait, I did some informal testing comparing it to the others I had available to me for comparison with aid of their owners.

·      Surefire FA556-212 (mine)
·      AAC M4-2000 Pre MOD08
·      YHM Phantom in 5.56

·      10.5” SBR’s
·      14.5” pinned uppers
·      16” uppers

Price:  These were based on MSRP cost but do not include the $200.00 NFA stamp and any NFA out of state transfer fees ($50-150).
·      Surefire: $1,300.00 plus $100 mount: $1,400.00
·      AAC: $800.00 included mount
·      YHM: $600.00 due to time, don’t remember if owner had to pay extra to get a mount, but YHM mount was about $50.00

            Suppressor mounts come into 2 main categories, with 3 subcategories.

o   Direct Thread
o   Quick Detach
§  Flash Hider
§  Muzzle Break
§  Hybrid – a little of both options.

I prefer to use flash hiders for my rifles. Some people do not have that option due to living in Communist states. For a 100% of the time suppressed rifle, a muzzle break is ideal. It allows the break to absorb the majority of the blast from your muzzle, instead of the suppressor. When you’ve made a $600-1300 investment plus the wait time for a suppressor, having something absorb the blast that you can replace for $50-100, is a nice option.

Another factor that I looked at in selecting a Surefire can, was the quality and selection of their mounts over the other options from AAC and YHM. I had seen a few YHM Phantom mounts “fracture” and open up in low round count guns. I already had a AAC Blackout non mounting flash hider and while it worked to hide flash, the ting was slightly annoying. Would the ting matter if your shooting? No. But it’s a little annoying thing. The Surefire mount I went with is a closed end flash hider. In use while waiting on the Tax Stamp approval, I shot the flash hider mount on 10.5” SBR a lot. I noticed the flash removal was on par to my eyes with the 14.5” blackout equipped upper I had. The surprising factor was how well the Surefire flash hider functioned to reduce recoil. I hate muzzle breaks on social guns for many reasons, primarily being blast. I noticed almost no blast from the Surefire flash hider while it controlled recoil extremely well.

As someone who has one suppressor but more than one gun to use it on, I went with the option that works for the “not always suppressed” role, a flash hider.

Sound Levels:

Each can is tested by the manufacture of said can and given a decibel rating. In the suppressor world, some manufacturers are open about test factors – environmental, weapons used on, ammunition types, decibel meter placement, etc. Some are not. Based on the information I found at the time, all the manufactures of the three suppressors where claiming sound levels within 6 or so decibel range.

For the purpose of my informal testing, I didn’t worry about the actual decilbe reading as I did not have a decibel meter available to me. What mattered, was the sound to the user and sound to those around me. For the testing we shot at night so that the other participants would not know the rifle/suppressor being shot. Yes, extensive safety measures were in place.

Based on this testing, when compared on similar barrel lengths using a magazine of the same type of ammunition, the shooter couldn’t tell the sound difference, nor could the people down range/next to the shooter. If there is a decibel difference, it was not noticeable.

Recently I tested side by side on 14.5” pinned guns my “old” Surefire can next to the new SOCOM series replacement for it. Again, no difference to the shooters in decibles.

POI/POA shift:

Each manufacture will tell you what their POI/POA shift is when putting the suppressor on the gun. At the time, Surefire was making the claim to having the least POI shift, but you had to pay attention to realize testing was being done on a Remington 700 bolt gun, not the AR-15 rifle everyone uses. With that I looked around online for information on various end user tests and found that Surefire seemed to have the least shift in POI.

Upon receiving the Surefire suppressor, I did test the shift. I don’t recall the initial test on a 10.5 SBR, but it was like 1” by 2” down and left. On a 14.5” gun it’s about 1.5” right.  During my informal testing, I noticed that there was more POI shift on the longer barrel guns – with both AAC and Surefire cans. More weight longer out on the barrel, surprise, will cause the barrel to flex more. A benefit to minimal POI shift is if you don’t have time to re zero your gun when you place the suppressor on it, a center mass shot is still very doable inside of a 5.56’s effective range of 400 yards.

New tech: OSS, SilencerCO Saker, Gemtech ONE.

I don’t have any hands on time as of yet with the various new takes and tech coming out now, but find them interesting. Time will tell if they work.


Looking for a rifle suppressor there are many options. When I bought mine, a lot less than today. I would still say look at the option of long term durability rating, muzzle device options and POI shift. Price is not relevant as you will buy it and not get to play with it or train with it for quite a while. Getting a can and being disappointed with it, not a good thing when you can’t take it back to swap out.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness

Crossfit. Gym Jones. Military Athlete. Combat Conditioning. RAW, MARSOC Prep: What do they all have in common? They all work in some fashion to be functional for survival of every day life with a focus on making you stronger. Certain programming sets will set you up for more Military/Law Enforcement specific fitness, others, general fitness.

What is functional fitness? This was best defined by the author/blogger “John Mosby” as:
“Physical conditioning training is only functional if it fulfills one simple performance criteria: will it help you improve your ability to do what you need to be able to do, for the duration of how long you need to be able to do, it on demand. If not, it's not functional fitness, it's... Retarded."

Functional Fitness will have buzz words you will hear that will be outside the normal weightlifting lingo, and the non fitness oriented worlds’ lingo.  I will use some of these terms throughout the post:

·      WOD – Workout Of the Day
·      Movement – Anything done on the workout. Weightlifting, Calisthenics, Gymnastics, etc.
·      Bodyweight Movement – anything done with only bodyweight – push ups, air squats, pull ups, etc.
·      1RM – 1 Rep Max
·      PR – Personal Record

I used to do the stereotypical “Monday is Chest day, Tuesday is arms day, Wednesday is Leg Day (Frequently skipped by the weak girly men in the world), Thursday is Back Day, Friday is something else day” workout plan. What I found was that I was spending anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours at the gym each day, which left me with no time to do any running, which is a personal relaxation tool. I noticed that yes, I did slowly get stronger on the typical workout routines, but that I didn’t have the same endurance nor did I have time for this important thing called life.

For a while, my goal was to switch to a “Functional Fitness” style workout routine and finally had no choice when my local gym shut down over 2 years ago. A co-worker agreed to set up a garage gym at his place and we bought equipment for it. Kettle Bells, Bumper plates from Rouge, squat rack, bar bells and some dumb bells. I quickly found that this was all I needed to do basic Functional oriented workouts.

In January of 2013 I had the opportunity to receive some basic coaching in Olympic style lifting from a couple, who had become close family friends. This helped greatly focus my workouts with more lifts being applied, and mostly proper form. A garage gym will allow you to slack off on form because nobody is there all the time to critique your form. This is a negative to a garage gym, but one you can work around by attending coaching sessions as well as videoing your lifts for critique. The form matters, not the weight or reps. The family friends would send us their WOD each day allowing us to have no choice but to do the assigned movements each day. This helped stop me from picking my workouts based on the movements I liked or was good at and skipping those I needed to work on.

As I progressed from a beginner, to more “experienced” with the WOD’s I realized my body was getting rapidly stronger. The WOD’s shifted from beginner level to more difficult. 
Example Beginner:
·      For Time:
·      21 Pullups (with or without rubber band assistance for those needing assistance)
·      21 Kettle Bell Swings (53# is usually the minimum men’s weight and 35# the women’s)
·      Run 400 meters

Example Current:
·      10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Front Squat. 
o   Work towards your 1RM if not set a new one.
·      Then
·      5 Rounds for time:
o   7 Muscle Ups
o   21 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls at 95#s.

There is a huge fitness level difference in what is required to push through the beginner level one and be on your back afterwards and sore for the next two days, and 12 months later doing the Second example and walk out the door a little sore and exhausted but ready to go to work.

Can you do “functional fitness” workouts when you do not have access to Kettlebells, Olympic Lifting Bumpers and Bars, Squat Rack, etc? Yes. You won’t get as much strength improvement out of it necessarily, but by being creative and utilizing your environment and what junk is lying around your house/yard/shop, you can find some weight to lift. To do pull ups, you can spend $20.00 at Home Depot and build a frame for a piece of scrap metal tubing to do pull ups from. Used large tires – tractor or semi-truck size – can be used for tire flips or attach a rope to them and do tire drags. Use of sand bags for one handed snatches or carries as well as weighted squats. Also you can do ruck marches or “rucking.” Plenty of resources available on that online.

I really have noticed the benefit from changing workout styles in the more physically demanding aspects of life. Especially telling was an incident where what was supposed to be a 6 mile trip in full kit (30-40#’s) turned into a 13.2 mile desert walkabout. Interestingly, those who do functional fitness styled workouts, were fine and kept going during this. Those who did the bodybuilding Arnold/Weider stuff, sucking wind and needing breaks frequently. A trip to the Harvard of Gunfighting, DARC, sure showed the benefits. There fellow students who did some variant of functional fitness, all were kicking butt thanks to a more intense training regimen as found in Functional Fitness.

How does one measure the results of their “functional fitness?” There are many ways to do this. Tracking the 1RM on various lifts, finish times in running to overall times for so called “benchmark” workouts (Fran, Murph, Grace, etc.). There is also the ultimate test of being able to do perform on demand. I found that Mosby put it well when he described this:
“It doesn’t matter how big your biceps are, or how fast you can run 26.2 miles; if you can’t get your self and your gear to the fight, under physically challenging conditions; and engage the enemy with well aimed rifle fire, then you are fundamentally, functionally useless.”

Hopefully all of my readers as well as myself will never have to run the performance on demand test, but if you do, you better be able to perform. It could be your life, the life of a family member or the life of an innocent victim.

For more reading:
Crossfit Football:
Ranger Athlete Warrior – RAW:

Monday, November 10, 2014

AR Pistol Grips: BCM Gunfighter MOD 1 and Magpul MOE SL

AR Pistol Grips:

BCM Gunfighter Mod 1 and Magpul MOE SL

One of the first things I swapped out on my first AR-15, was the A2 pistol grip. This was ditched for many reasons, chief among them that the finger grooves were nowhere near where my fingers, nor anyone else I have ever met, fingers are placed. At the time, there were about three aftermarket pistol grip options; Tango Down Battle Grip, Ergo Grip and the new Magpul MIAD. I had felt the Tango Down and Ergo Grip’s on friends rifles, and found them to thin for my liking with the same grip angle of the A2, if not slightly more canted with the Ergo. 

I went with a Magpul MIAD with the medium backer insert and no finger groves on the front. This combo was very popular with shooters and became the Magpul MOE grip. I ran the Magpul MOE for several years while seeing other options come out that didn’t really shock the market with problem solving. During this time I noticed that while standing with the rifle at a patrol ready hold or when shooting higher round counts I would feel some discomfort in my firing hand wrist. This was found in my issued rifle with A2 grip as well as personal MOE/MIAD equipped rifles. 

While browsing the internet, I read some discussion about the HK-416 pistol grip and how it was more vertical and solved the complaints that people had with the current options on the market.  At that point I started looking to test a replacement pistol grip option. Magpul released the “K” and “K2” grips, Tango Down the “Flip Grip” and the unobtainum KAC PDW Grip were on the market. As I was about to buy one of the afore mentioned, BCM released the “Gunfighter Grip.” The Gunfighter Grip came in 2 models – mod 0 and mod 1.  The marketing on all these grips indicated a more vertical alignment that was conducive to modern gun fighting stances as well as more time spent holding the gun vs. bulls eye shooting. 

I picked up and installed the BCM Gunfighter Mod 1 on my rifle as a trial, and fell in love. It was more ergonomic for my shooting stance as well as comfortable for long periods of holding the gun – barricaded subjects, long desert walks, etc.  It does maintain a similarity in appearance to the HK-416 grip; take that for what it is. After buying a couple $30.00 BCM grips to upgrade a few of my rifles, I realized that $30 grips to replace a $20 Magpul grip didn’t make a financial sense. Naturally if it makes you shoot better, that $30 investment is worth it. During this time I had one real complaint and that was it seemed slightly thick for my preference of a year round functional grip  - no gloves in summer, thicker gloves in the winter.

While loosely keeping an eye on the AR accessory market, Magpul announced the MLOK system and its upgraded MOE SL (slim line) line. In this announcement was the new MOE SL pistol grip. Magpul announced it as a more vertical grip than the standard A2 grips. Naturally I was interested by this, but could never find one locally to test. Long story, but Drake from Magpul sent me a MOE SL grip. I was very excited by this opportunity to get some literal hands on use of the grip. 

Upon receiving the MOE SL grip, I was first concerned that it would be similar in grip angle to the old MOE grip. This is definitely not the case and I found it felt like a slightly thinner BCM Gunfighter grip. I’ve run the MOE SL on my SBR since receiving it, and have found one complaint with it. No cover for the bottom, which is where I store my SBR paperwork. A simple fix was to place duct tape over the bottom of the grip. For $20, you can’t complain about that over the $10 more grip having a latch covering the bottom. 

BCM on Left, MOE SL on Right:

BCM on top of MOE SL:

MOE SL on top of BCM:

Grip angle of the BCM MOD 1 and MOE SL is by all appearances and feels, the exact same. You will also note the width difference. Without a pair of calipers handy, I cannot compare the width difference, but its noticeable when looking and holding the grips. 

Looking Down on grips, MOE SL on top, BCM on Bottom:

All things considered, either option is a good upgrade for anyone with an AR rifle, Unless you need to hold something like SBR or Suppressor paperwork in your pistol grip, the MOE SL at $20 is the best option, and really, an entire roll of duct tape is cheaper than $10 if that is something you need. I won’t be selling all my BCM grips just to get the new MOE SL grips, but as I finish building or replacing A2 grips, it will most likely be with MOE SL grips.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Retention Shooting Positions - Pistol

Retention shooting positions:

Before reading this, please refer to my posts on Shooting Stances and Ready Positions:

What is retention shooting:
            Retention is better described as “Shooting from Retention” and is found when you are shooting in more or less physical contact with a bad guy – i.e. fight to control your weapon, being bum rushed, etc.

Thoughts on the issue seem to range across the board mainly based on who you are trained by and what the trainer’s background is. The instructor who only carried a gun on a SWAT team or Military team doing what is most easily described as CQB – Close Quarters Battle – will give you a tactic designed for a team environment. An instructor who worked as an undercover operative (UC) in LE, MIL or Intel communities, will be a different tactic all together. Your tactic needs to be chosen for what you do. For a LE officer or Military member who works in both realms, you must be familiar with both techniques and know when to use which one. For ease of focus, this article is in reference to pistol retention shooting.

*Fairbairn Sykes*
WW2 era tactics where you shoot with your arm held in front of your hip at hip height. This was taught as point shooting, but has become mistakenly taught today as “retention shooting.” This is not retention shooting. If you can have your weapon un protected like it would be in this, you can bring the gun up to a both hands firing stance. Using the Fairbairn Sykes method will almost certainly get your gun taken away. Don’t waste time learning or practicing this. Be leery of someone teaching this as the way to do it as well.

CAR – Center Axis Relock:
            Generally regarded as foolish in most circles, even more so in groups where the instructors actually “DO” carry guns for a living. It has a bladed stance with a very compressed “modified weaver” style hold on the gun. For more reference on this see the following photo, then play that into real world situations. This is not a very effective method when you start to get realistic with things. Blocks way to much of your peripheral vision. Gives a “gangster” style sight picture, which fights every other bit of your training for no real advantage. This technique also puts you sideways, which is bad if you are wearing body armor, or need to move as you will move faster forwards or backwards not sideways. Plus, it doesn’t look cool which is half the battle (G.I. Joe guidelines – Looking Cool is half the battle, the other half is red and blue lasers). 

One handed retention:
            This method works with your most common shooting stances, as it comes from the draw portion of the gun presentation. It will work both from open carried – duty or tactical holsters, as well as the most common 3 or 9 o’clock concealed handgun. With some modification, you can work it with your AIWB concealed carry handgun as well. You already do practice part of this when you present your gun. If I am in a one handed retention fight, it is to protect my pistol. As such I will be twisting my gunside away from the threat and using my support arm to help block my head and body from the threat. 

Two Handed Retention:
            When your pistol is already out of the holster you can bring the pistol back to the “compressed ready position” where its held centerline of your body with muzzle oriented same direction as your moving. I prefer a slight muzzle up from this position, and can use my WML from here to illuminate rooms well. The advantage of the gun being held in close with both hands allows me to maintain control over the firearm as one’s center of strength his next to their chest, not at arms length. This position allows me to use my firearm if in a very close quarter engagement where moving to full extension with my arms is not possible. The gun in close to your body negates your shooting speed as well as accuracy.

Pick the best technique for what your using, and roll with it in the hopes you’ll never need it.