Thursday, August 25, 2011

My job doesn't suck: flash suppressors and cans in the dark

My bro Matt and I spent last night on the range, doing some night shooting, and testing flash suppressors and several of Surefire's cans. The only downside to last night's festivities was that there was no photos or video.

We found out several things: fiber optic sights are as useless at night as white dot or black sights are for being seen by old eyes. My MnP and G17, which were the guns I grabbed holsters for (Safariland ALS with X300's using the MLS system), both lack night sights, but I have lights on both, which makes night sights somewhat less important. The steel plate bay we were shooting in was slightly back-lit by a security light up on the ridge (the range is in a former quarry) and my FO front sight just became a black front sight on a black target at night. I couldn't see it at all. With the light on, the front sight profile stands out, but that leads to the next issue.

There's a bit of a recurring theme with ammunition: smokeless powder isn't really smokeless; it just smokes less than black powder does. I was using some PMC Bronze 115 gr. FMJ 9mm, which is decent ammo in terms of consistency and least in terms of bulk ammo. It's also really smoky. That doesn't matter much during the day, but at night, with sights that aren't particularly visible and a bright light on the gun, the smoke obscures everything. The wind was non-existent for most of the night, so smoke stayed where it was. Waiting for it to clear was an eye opener.

We tested the Surefire 212A on a few different guns: Colt and BCM lowers with Mk 18 and 416 10" uppers, and my 16" carbine. To compare against, we used Matt's BCM 14.5" M4 style upper with a KAC QD flash hider. We shot some 55 gr. Winchester, 68 gr. M855 and 77 gr. ball similar to Mk 262. The difference in flash was dramatic, even though I expected that with the 212A being a longer unit. Even so, I was very impressed with the flash reduction. So far, just about the best I've seen, rivaled by the Smith Vortex. The big difference to me is that I can run a Surefire suppressor on it and it doesn't ring after every shot.

Next we did a little test of the M300 vs. the M600, and how far they reach. Again, the air was still, and smoke made a big impact, even with Matt running the 212 on is 416 and me running the Mini on Schwaggie. Out to about 35 or 40 yards, there's not too much practical difference, but as the distance increases, the M300 doesn't have the reach. Where that really matters is in being able to see the edges of the target. Seeing the edges makes centering the target much easier. We were shooting a steel plate about the size of a B27 silhouette. Past 50 and out to 75, I shot the plate while Matt lit it up with the M600, and we moved all the way back to 100, but with the M300 getting hits were more a matter of guesstimating and basically remembering where the target was. Under the weather conditions we had-hot, humid and dead still at 10 o'clock at night-it got tough to really define the target with the M300.

We also found that at about 25 yards, hammering a steel target with a rifle and a tac light at night at high speed is a heck of a lot of fun. Just wish I had gotten some pics.