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AR Bleg

I’ve been wanting to build a custom AR for a couple of years now, but a distinct lack of disposable income has been a real drag on my plans. At this point I don’t know much about what the current goodies are. The rifle would be primarily used for target shooting, possibly in matches (if I decide to get back into that kind of shooting). I’m looking for recommendations on:

  • Barrels. I dot know much about barrels and twist rates, etc. It’ll be a .223 AR, probably mostly shooting your standard 55gr XM193 at distances out to 200 yards 99% of the time.
  • Triggers. I’ve looked at the Geissele triggers, but they are spendy. Worth it though? Geissele is a local company, so it would be nice to support them.
  • Stocks. Magpul makes an adjustable stock I think might work.
  • Uppers. I notice they have uppers that allow the charging handle to operate on the left side of the upper instead of the traditional straight pull back. I’d tend to lean against this since I prefer to stick with a more standard AR, but I’m wondering if anyone has any feedback on that style of upper.
  • Parts Kits. I’d get the trigger separately, but is there any quality difference in the non-trigger parts? I would tend to imagine there wouldn’t be much difference.

I’ll probably build this slowly over time, when I can come up with some spare coin to grab a needed component. Any advice one can offer would be appreciated.

Wisconsin Proposing Range Rule Changes

From the Star Tribune:

DNR officials plan to present a wide-ranging package of regulations to their board next month that would prohibit the possession and consumption of alcohol on the ranges as well as prohibit shooters from using fully automatic weapons and tracer ammunition. Incendiary, exploding and breakable targets would be banned, although clay trap targets would be allowed. Shooters would have to unload their weapons when they’re off the firing line.

I don’t have an issue with prohibiting alcohol at the ranges. I’m surprised that isn’t already a rule. But do they really have issue with people shooting up public ranges with machine guns? I can see a rule prohibiting shooting glass and other items that could junk up a public range and create a hazard. Incendiary targets pose a fire hazard, so I can see that too. Exploding targets, well, that just sounds like fun to me, but I could see where you’d get people who abuse it. What do you think? Most of these rule changes, save the machine gun ban and maybe the rule about explosive targets, don’t sound too objectionable. What do you think?

Another Northampton County Club in Trouble

I wrote not long ago about Stockerton Rod and Gun Club being in trouble over accusations that rounds were leaving the range. Now it seems another ther club in the area is coming under scrutiny over errant rounds. This time it’s Belfast Edelman Sportsman Association. The local news station reports:

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Not all complaints against gun ranges represent anti-gun or NIMBY sentiment. People who build or buy houses next to ranges should expect to live with noise, but bullets leaving a range at dangerous velocities and trajectories are a different beast entirely. The setup of Belfast Edelman looks similar to Stockerton. I decided to Google the club’s location, start up street view, and “drive” down the road downrange of the club. Sure enough, I found the house in this report right where I worried I’d find it:

DownrangeEdelmanBelfast

She’s about 1000 yards downrange, which is close enough for bullets to strike her house at sufficient velocity to maim or kill. A 7.62x51mm (.308 Win) round would still be traveling in excess of 1000ft/sec at that range, and with about the muzzle energy of 425ft-lb. This woman isn’t exaggerating. If she’s being hit by the kinds of rounds typically used for hunting, it is as big a deal as if someone fired a 9mm into her house from the street.

The club made the right decision to close their range. Hopefully they have the funds to make needed safety improvements. If you’re ever involved in a club that ends up in a situation like this, NRA does offer range consulting to clubs in trouble. They can also offer grants and whatnot to make the needed safety improvements so that struggling clubs can stay open. I’m very sympathetic to clubs that end up in this kind of trouble, but residents do have a right to expect clubs will maintain safety standards such that rounds will not leave the range in a dangerous manner such as this.

Bang, Bang, Click?

I finally made it out to the range for the first time in (mumblemumble). Had fun, but of the 100 rounds of 9mm Remington UMC expended, I had 3 failure to fire. The weird thing is, they all happened out of the same string in one magazine (of the 10 rounds loaded, 7 went bang, 3 went click), were not adjacent, and the next 10 rounds out of the same magazine were fine. I recovered the rounds and took a picture.IMG_20150923_152859017

Since I’m actually somewhat inexperienced at actually shooting, I figured I’d ask here: did I just get unlucky, or is there something I did or failed to do here?

Pistol is a G17L, with probably somewhat less than a thousand rounds down the pipe since I’ve owned it, and it was allegedly new when I purchased it. I’ll run a boresnake after a range session and usually take the slide assembly apart and scrub the places the book says I should – range sessions are 100-150 rounds. It’s sat unfired for a couple years since last session. Magazine is OEM 10-round.

Steel Gong Bleg

A few months ago, our club started putting in gongs for members to shoot at on both the 100 yard and 200 yard rages. I thought this was a great idea, because I’m a big fan of reactive targets and getting people exiting about putting bullets on steel. But we’ve had problems with the frames getting shot up on the 100 yard gong. There have been suggestions that people are using AP ammo on the gongs. I have some experience shooting steel, but mostly with pistols and .22LR. I’m pretty sure AP will punch through 3/8 AR500 steel. Plus, AP just isn’t very common. The most common is M2 AP, and it’s not so common you’d want to target shoot with it. It’s my opinion the craters on the gong are from steel core ammo, and the small divots are from regular old 5.56x45mm. The gong is made of AR500 steel, 3/8″ thick.

Gong Pitting

The frame holding the gongs up is mild steel bar, about 1/2 inch, and took this damage:

FrameDamage

I asked Joe Huffman, who has a lot more experience with this kind of thing than I do what the damage looked like to him, and he was kind enough to run an experiment. Sure enough, regular old .223 rounds will shoot right through mild steel, while pistol ammunition will just polish it. Looks to me like these are rifle hits, with just ordinary ammunition. I’m thinking we may want to acquire one of these armored stands from Salute Targets. We expected this to be a maintenance items, but so are wooden target frames, and people like to shoot the gongs. There’s also speculation among club leadership that some of the damage is deliberate. I’ll admit the tight group on the bar right where the straps were is suspicious, but I’d hate to see someone brought up on charges and booted from the club for poor marksmanship. I’m also thinking we might need to ask members not to shoot at the gongs with steel core ammunition.

If anyone else can offer their experience, I’d be appreciative.

Northampton County Club in Trouble

Local news outlets are reporting a gun club near Easton, Pennsylvania, is being investigated by the State Police to see if there is any merit to residents accusations that gunfire from the club is hitting their homes.

I haven’t been to the club, so I don’t really know what kind of backstops or baffling they have. From a Google Eyes view, it certainly looks like it’s possible rounds could be impacting residences.

Clubs get a lot of things like this blamed on them even when it’s not coming from the club directly. In some cases I’ve seen, the person hurling accusations at a club are not even downrange, or in one case was in the ballistic shadow of a mountain that stood between the club and the residence.

Hopefully if it does turn out the bullets are coming from the range, they have the resources to correct the problem. A lot of clubs live hand to mouth, and a determination that a range in unsafe can be enough to shut a club down for good.

I’d note that area has seen a lot of in-migration from New Jersey and New York, and there’s a contingent of residents that commute to New York City from that area, so you’ll have plenty of people in the area who don’t want to coexist with a gun club.

Pearl Clutching Alert: Range & Restaurant in Daytona Beach

Miguel notes that our opponents are freaking out because a shooting range in Florida is also going to have a license to serve alcohol. He is correct to point out that this is nothing new, and also perfectly safe if done correctly. But since it helps drive the narrative of the reckless gun owner, the media will be happy to run stories on this.

My club has a strict “no alcohol on premises” rule, and it’s against the rules to be intoxicated on club property. But I’ve been to other clubs that have a bar, and even one club that had a pretty decent restaurant on site too. The rule usually is if you come to have a drink, you get flagged and aren’t allowed to use the shooting parts of the facility. Most clubs I’ve ever been to, rules are taken quite seriously and the penalties for serious safety violations are generally ejection from the club.

But Americans have always been a bit puritanical about alcohol to begin with. The Swiss take it even a step further, and it’s not uncommon there to have a glass of wine or beer before hitting the firing line with fully automatic assault rifles. I don’t think anyone would argue the Swiss are irresponsible with firearms. It’s a different culture, and a different set of attitudes. I thought we were supposed to celebrate diversity, and different cultures?

Regardless, there’s absolutely no danger in what this club is doing if it’s done safely, and I’m sure it will be done safely.

NY Times Advances Narrative of Brutish Gun Owner

It’s pretty apparent this New York Times article about the impact of shooting on federal land is meant to smear responsible shooters as reckless and irreverent heathen out terrorizing the quiet countryside, but it would do us no good to pretend that every shooter out there is a good steward of the land. Back years ago when I used to shoot at public ranges, I saw a lot of cringe inducing behavior, and I have left a range on an occasion or two because of grossly unsafe behavior. I used to not only pick up my own trash, but would pick up other garbage people left on the range as well. Poor stewardship of public shooting areas makes us all look bad.

But I used to hike too, and I can tell you that not all hikers are good stewards of the land either. Same is true for mountain bikers, ATV operators, snow mobiles — you name it. What bothers me about the Times article is that it paints shooters as being some kind of unique jerks. You’ll find a healthy share of jerks in any recreational activity. The Times is simply working to advance the politically convenient narrative of the dim-witted, reckless, and brutish gun owner.

Gun Clubs & The Press

Last week, I ventured out to West Virginia for a funeral and managed to stop by a couple of libraries between family gatherings to do a little bit of genealogy research for Sebastian. Needless to say, these aren’t the kinds of circumstances where I planned to think about the gun culture and media outreach.

While scanning microfilm for an obituary I knew existed somewhere, I found this article in the community news section of the March 18, 1899 edition of the St. Mary’s Oracle.

Gun Club Publicity 1899

Now, you might not really care about the winners of the clay bird shoot at the Mountain State Gun Club 116 years ago, but the local press did care because they were all locals. The same applies today.

Sometimes we focus on the national or statewide political fights while we ignore one of the best angles we can use in the media – the fact that people in our clubs are great representatives for our cause simply because neighbors, friends, and family know them and know that they won’t hurt people with their guns. Even better, the club members don’t have to talk to the press or do anything other than show up for activities they already enjoy.

The NBC national news won’t care about your club’s rifle shooters that managed to sweep the regional competition, but the local paper will care about it if you include names and towns. There’s one thing that will still move hard copies of newspapers, and that is mostly the fact that they will cover local stories with local people who have friends and family willing to read about them.

A volunteer with another group noted that regardless of what we might consider the news-worthiness of a story, if she includes the names and towns of the volunteers involved, it almost always gets picked up by more of the smaller community publications. Yes, they are even read by others, as I learned when congratulated for being elected to an office of the unrelated group by a Friends of the NRA volunteer. There’s no reason that we can’t do the same thing.

So I would say that if you’re part of a gun club, or even if you run a commercial gun range that hosts competitions, why not have a community/public relations type role that will put out a simple press release talking about who wins? If you include a picture of the winners, then the paper will be far more likely to run the news. It’s a great community outreach tool that we have been far too willing to ignore.

Guided Bullets

Kind of takes the fun out of it, don’t you think?

Full link here.

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