Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Tactical Light for Schwaggie...and bad timing

After months and months of agonizing over how I was gonna add a light to Schwaggie without breaking the bank (the Scout Light will pretty much do that), I finally came to my senses a little bit and realized that I have a 6P laying around not currently tasked to other assignments. Since ya just can't have a Surefire without a job, I decided to slap that bad boy on my baby.

However, I lacked a decent interface. I had a Weaver ring on it, but that was too ugly for one as tacticool as me, so I went to work (literally) and picked up a Vltor Scout Mount for it, and while I was at it, I grabbed a shock isolated bezel for it, too. My bro Jimmy Baggadonuts gave me a brand new spare P60 lamp, so I have a spare for this one. Yeah, I have awesome friends.

The thing I found out the next day, though, is that we got the new LED conversion lamps from Surefire in. Dang it. Not what I needed to have happen. Not sure If I'm gonna take the shock iso bezel back or just run this system until the lamps burn out, but I'm kinda leaning towards just running the lamps I have. I could go to the P61L for more output, which is always sexy...until you're clearing a room and find a mirror. Don't ask. I couldn't see very well before. Its worse after.

Oh, well, new parts is new parts. I'm stoked with the simplicity of the engineering of the Vltor mount, and how tight it holds. I'm curious to see how its going to hold up to sustained fire, since I didn't Lock-Tite the screw. The directions didn't say to do that, so I din't. I'll test it as is. At any rate, here are some pics for your viewing enjoyment.

What's all that crap on my front sight post? lol

The reasoning behind the light placement is that its an easy reach for the thumb from the vertical grip. Additionally, if I decide not to run the broom handle, I can still get a forward grip on the fore end...although if I decide to go that way, I may pick up a Viking Tactics mount and run it horizontally off the top of the rail, which would allow a very far forward grip, which I like. As it is now, I still have some rail to lean on a baricade or structure under the FSB. The Daniel Defense 9.5 FSB may just be the perfect rail for guns running fixed front sight blocks.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

mil spec and commercial spec receiver extensions (buffer tubes)

Since I looked for the answer to this question for a very long time, I suspect that I'm not alone. This information was given to me by Pat Rogers. I don't know if these are his words or if he got them from somewhere else, but I owe him a debt of gratitude for providing me with this. I have shared it with a couple of other people, and they had the same "wow, thanks!" reaction that I did. That being the case, I decided to post it up here so that the other two people that read my blog can have that info, too. Thanks, Pat!

"Buffer Tube Basics


I know, the correct name is receiver extension tube... so now that we got one of most common mistakes out of the way, let's look at some common questions about receiver extension tubes. I do not pretend to know everything about these rifles, so if you see anything that is wrong, let me know.

This info is for carbine/short/collapsable tubes - all rifle/long/standard tubes are the same (as far as dimensions go)

What is a Mil-Spec Tube? This has to be the most common question. A milspec tube is just as the name implies, made to the specifications of the technical data package (tdp). The biggest concern is the diameter of the tube, the milspec part has a diameter of 1.150, the thread diameter is 1.1875

So the threads are bigger, are they rolled in? The thread are cut in with a regular old lathe. The narrower body section of the tube is reduced by cutting with a concave shaped cutter that "shaves" the metal down, sort of like a plane.

So what are tubes that are not Mil-Spec? During the original cloning of the military AR, the first commercial receiver extension tubes were made from an extrusion, the threads lathe cut and the body was not reduced. The common size for this is 1.170 and that has became the de facto standard for after market tubes.

So commercial tubes are bigger, are they stronger? No, the problem with them is that the threaded section is also 1.170, so the threads are not cut to full "height" and do not fully engage the threads in the receiver. Nearly all of the tubes that I have seen fail in the field broke at the threads or pulled the threads out.

Are there any other concerns with after market tubes? Well, there is really no set standard for size, so they can vary by manufacturer and even from lot to lot -- you can get combinations of after market parts that are tight or loose. Some of them are made with extrusions with an end plug welded in, the quality of the welding can run from pretty solid to pretty poor.

Are those the only two sizes? No, some manufacturers have come out with systems that do not use either the milspec or the aftermarket tube size... The early Choate stock is one example of a proprietory tube.

So what fits what? Milspec tubes work with stocks from Colt, Vltor, CMT, LMT/Crane, etc.

After market tubes work with RRA, BM, DPMS, etc.

A larger, after market stock will fit on a milspec tube, but will be loose and rattle -- a milsec stock will usually not fit on an after market tube... without a hammer.

Hey! My new Mil-Spec tube is too long? Some newer tubes made for the "enhanced" M4 stock are a little longer and have a small taper to the back to match the profile of the stock butt. It should not effect the use of a Mil-Spec stock however."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What does that "test" prove?

I've been studying and researching carbines for a while now, reading what various trainers and trainees have experienced with carbines that have been pushed some. What I noticed about reviews and articles is that, for the most part, the round counts are rather low-I won't blame them for not shooting a case for every rifle they test, because that's a butt load of money-and the courses of fire don't generally show what the gun will do when the carbine is pushed. What I found from other sources contrasts quite a lot with what reviews say.

When the test consists of 300 rounds of leisurely shooting, every carbine on the planet is going to look pretty much the same. With that sort of light use, differences in parts quality won't show up, and a parts gun made with OK parts is going to perform similarly to a Colt, LMT, or LWRC. To see the differences in guns, they have to be pushed.

The reason that Colts and the other brands listed previously at the top have such a stellar reputations is that they hold up under hard use. Second and third tier guns, the commerical brands, have track records of failure that are well documented, as well as being traceable to particular things that differ from the top of the heap. Bolts break because they're not all MP tested and shot peened. Receiver extensions come loose because castle nuts aren't staked. The list goes on.

The thing that's bugging me, because I realize I've touched on this before, is that gun writers are expected to be experts. At least they were when I was growing up. Jordan was a BP agent that had used guns when life counted on it. O'Connor was out slayin' critters all over the world. I'm just not sure that gun writers now live it like they did in the day. There are a few, but they're few and far between. Most of the articles read the same way: here's the history of the rifle...again. Here's the features and stuff the rifle comes with...BTW, a carry strap isn't a tactical sling. Here's the stuff the writer bolted on to take the gun to the range. Here's the list of ammo, and we'll throw the velocity in there for...who knows why. And, 300 rounds later, here's the verdict: "this rifle worked like a champ and all the bullets that fired hit stuff. This rifle worked great, so if you're in the market for a carbine, buy one".

Here's the real bottom line: there's a very good chart that's probably the best resource to determine what's what with commercially available AR carbines. Rob-S, who's been on a lot of forums and who's chart has been declared "good to go" by several big name trainers and carbine authorities. Its the most accurate resource going. The beauty of it is that you can kinda "dial a price" and have a good idea of what features you're getting compared to other brands. Additionally, it shows the difference between the bottom of the line and the top, and if you're savvy, it explains why top tier brands cost what they do. If you happen across Rob-S and his characteristic orange visor, give him a hearty "thank you" for the effort he put into the chart.

All that tacticool crap? What tacticool crap?

I was reading an article on the Sabre Defence Ayoob rifle this afternoon during lunch, and came to a bit of a conclusion: most people don't really know what they're talking about. In this instance, there was a reference to "tacticool gadjets hung on the rail", which is a common complaint in articles, blogs and on some forums where people are known for not knowing what they're talking about. The question that's never answered is "what crap"?

The comment that irked me was along the lines of "I laugh when I see a rail covered in all this tacticool crap". Nobody ever mentions specifically what they're talking about, and I suspect they're talking about stuff shown in pics from the Sandbox. Well, here's a revelation for ya: just because you don't need a couple tac lights and a PEQ-2, doesn't mean that the user doesn't. Here's another revelation: lights fail. If you're gonna have to go clear some mud hut with no windows and your light fails, what are ya gonna do? There's no time out; you still have to go. Does it make sense yet? Two is one, one is none. That may not apply on a square range with timed breaks to change targets, but it sure as hell does in a war zone.

The only thing I can maybe call "crap" are bipods on carbines, but while I don't see their usefullness, there are apparently missions for them besides looking cool...which is good, because they don't look cool. Beyond that, what "crap" are you talking about? The rail mounted sling swivel? The previously mentioned tactical lights? A PEQ box? Optics of several varieties with specific jobs? BUIS? A vert grip because rail space is covered by the tac light and its backup? None of that is lacking a useful purpose. So what is it you're talking about? Or is it just that you don't know what its for, so you're calling it stupid? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

For executives, they don't seem to get it very well

I went looking for information regarding The Sarah Connor Chronicles, to see if there was any hope of a season two. Results were inconclusive at best. There's no new info regarding Jericho yet, either. There's, what, four more episodes in the "seasonette"? It would appear that Jericho is in a bad place, seeing as the Writer's Guild decided to give up a bunch of income and not do their damn jobs. That put Jericho in a relatively good place since there were no other shows coming on, but without the writers, there could be no new episodes to follow the current seven, at least not right away. So, due to the writer's strike and the lack of understanding by the executives, we're going to be forced into more "reality" shows, because they're cheap to produce. Additionally, it seems there's no shortage of people who'll make fools of themselves for money.

Before the Intardweb, Nielson boxes were probably a good enough indicator of how a show was doing. Now, in the Information Age, the Nielsons just aren't cutting it anymore. Jericho is a perfect example: the ratings boxes showed that it wasn't doing well and got it cancelled. Fans brought it back (as they did with Star Trek back in the day, and we know how that worked out) with the epic "Nuts" campaign. Many Sci Fi afficionados are huge fans of "Firefly". They managed to get a movie made, even though the show was cancelled.

All that is to say that the networks have to figure out a new way of tracking audience numbers. People are Tivo-ing, watching online, and catching the show in other ways. Timelsots are no longer the hardpoint anchor that they used to be. However, tracking still appears to be done with the Nielson raters. I don't think I know anybody who's ever seen a Nielson box, much less had one. That puts an outsized amount of power in the hands of a relatively small number of people, who may not be in touch with most of the country's wishes.

I just don't wanna see another Big Brother, Survivor, Flava of Love, or some other piece of crap that's cheap to make and is of intolerable badness. Next time the writers go on strike, let 'em go and hire new writers. Unions will be the death of TV just as they are other fields of endeavor. Its not worth it to risk having another "Cavemen."