Derp Tier AR-15s

I recently finished another build, my first 16″ carbine in a long while, and all told the bill for the build was under 400 dollars. Literally 320 for everything but the lower receiver from a Palmetto State Armory sale and a 60 dollar (with taxes) “poverty pony” lower. A 380 dollar budget build (no optics, could toss on a carry handle right now if I wanted to (have a spare), but kept thinking about buying something “derptastic optic” to complete the build). Eventually I dropped in a Vortex Crossfire II with a “CCOP” knock off of a Burris P.E.P.R mount (which actually seems like a decent mount, probably made in the same factory in China as the P.E.P.R for all I know).

But…the first time I racked back the charging handle was rather illuminating as to why the Parkland HS murderers M&P-15 locked up on him. If his rifle was anything like the one I assembled, not only was it delivered dryer than popcorn fart, all of the wearing surfaces were “new and tight” meaning that fouling will effect the rifle even quicker.

So, what do you do? Well, I used some militec “metal conditioning oil” that I had on hand to lube up the bolt carrier and bolt, then worked the action a bit to get the oil distributed, and then put it away for the night. When I take it to the range, I’ll make sure that the bolt and upper receiver are lubed generously, and then I’ll shoot several magazines through it to zero whatever optic I’ve put on the thing. I’ll want to put at least 50 shots down range.

And then I’ll get home, and clean out everything. There should be plenty of crud to clean out, some of the anodizing, some of the parkerizing, and lots of carbon. But once that crud is cleaned out, I’ll lube it up again, but not with oil, but with a grease. It doesn’t really matter what type of grease you use as long as it meets the temperature range you plan on shooting in, which means for me that pretty much any random synthetic grease is going to work just fine to keep my AR lubed up nice.

I did stone the trigger, so now it feels like a trigger rather than a rusty gate hinge desperately in need of oil. Stoning a trigger is easy, and cheap if you already have some stones that will work. If not, you just ruin a part. Lucky for me I had a pile of basic triggers to practice on, and didn’t ruin any of them in the process. Although I may revisit this in a thousand rounds or so to see how the stoned triggers are holding up compared to a premium trigger like the G2S I really like.

But…back on to lube, true story, I built an AR for high power, but got a three year vacation in a place where I couldn’t bring guns, so I went ahead and lubed it up and put it in storage. Three years later, I pulled it out of storage and it had about 350 rounds down the tube before there was so much carbon build up that I decided to add oil because the crud was so thick that it was slowing down the cycling of the action. So Mobile 1 synthetic grease stayed in place quite nicely, but honestly any brand will do (This is where all the doubters about “grease is grease” say “Cool story bro” and go back to some name brand gun grease). Anyone who says they have magical grease that lasts and lasts through thousands of rounds must also have magical ammo that doesn’t blow soot out into the action which acts like a sponge to soak the carrier oil out of the grease.

So that’s what I’ll do with my “Derp Tier” rifle, to avoid the problems that I experienced with newly issued Colt and FN M4 and M4A1s I’ll give it a deliberate break in session, then grease it up like I do my service rifles. Will it run like a swiss watch? No, because it’s not a swiss watch, it’ll run like an AR-15, and the holes in the paper won’t know what brand is roll stamped on the lower.

It isn’t hard to make a reliable AR-15 if all your parts line up the way they should. If they don’t line up the way they should…. well then that’s where things get trickier. So far I have no issues with Anderson or PSA products. A few years back Anderson let a lower get out the door with a buffer retaining pin recess drilled off center, which wouldn’t be a problem with a “New Colt” BCG (totally open on the back), it was so far off center that it was an issue with the “milspec” BCG the guy was using. Anderson offered to replace the lower, but the guy just decided to run is AR without the buffer retaining pin. If you lose a buffer retaining pin, it’s not the end of a match, just make sure that any broken bits are removed from the trigger well, and use your rifle as normal. To take apart the rifle, just make sure your trigger is fired, then disassemble, the hammer will catch the buffer assembly before it sproings all over the place (or you can just be careful and catch it with your thumb).

At some point I will seriously consider an upgrade to the buttstock, as PSA included a commercial stock for the milspec tube, and it rattles around pretty bad. Or I could use a strip of electrical tape and tighten it up that way.

Still, for a 380 dollar AR-15, (600 with optic and mount), I’m not complaining at all. Freedom rifles ain’t going to win any popularity contests with the AR snob crowd, you know the kind that thinks Noveske lowers are way better than Anderson lowers because Anderson does better work for contracts than it’s own products (including Noveske), or that Aero Precision is better than PSA because Aero Precision doesn’t waste a single cent beyond what a contract dictates. I don’t buy the explanation that companies simultaneously put their absolute best and minimal effort into a lower depending on whose roll stamp they plan on putting on it, only that on a contracted lower the contracted receiver might apply their own additional QA/QC inspection before selling it to a customer.

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How Russia’s destabilization actions took root, and did nothing that we didn’t want to happen.

At this point anyone who thinks that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton is hopelessly naive. Russia didn’t “meddle” to get a particular outcome in terms of a candidate they wanted in power, Russia meddled to raise internal discord and tension.

The fact that the Democrats have been going on and on about “Russia collusion” is only making the Russians more successful than they’d ever dreamed they’d be.

This article doesn’t address any of the above, but it does accurately say that the Russians heavily targeted race relations (they also target class warfare, but historically focus on race or ethnicity).

But….where they successful in increasing internal discord inside the United States? Yes. Is that illegal? No. No it is not, and exploiting rules like that is suspiciously right out of Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals” to “make them live up to their own ideals.” By indicting Russian add agencies in Federal Court, Russia can easily point out that there is no longer “rule of law” in the United States. Or they could say that it’s just “Russophobia” or any of the other longstanding propaganda lines of effort they’ve been nurturing for years.

The USA Today article mentions a “10% success rate” which is a purely hypothetical number for the purpose of illustrating that the Russians don’t need to hit gold with every meme, only get lucky enough that they can “pump up the volume” so that they strike gold regularly enough to get their message in front of as many eyes as possible. Trust me that their “success rate” is closer to 1% to 3%, but when you are pushing out hundreds of messages, memes, and spun news stories constantly, that’s good enough.

So why do I say that the Russians didn’t do anything we didn’t already want to do? Because that is how influence operations work. Advertising agencies know you are already going to buy food, so they work to associate their foods with something else, like sex, success, sex, wealth, sex, satisfaction, or sex. They do this to influence you to buy a product that you were already inclined to buy, the only thing they can influence is your brand choices. You were going to be engaged in American politics to some degree, you were going to prefer one set of political ideals over another to some degree, all Russia had to do was give you information that confirmed your biases or your fears. This is why Russian propaganda is pro and anti Republican, pro and anti Democrat, pro traditional values at the same time they are pro progressive ideals. They don’t stand for anything themselves except the interest of Russia, and it is in the interest of Russia to have a divided United States.

The Mueller investigation, rather than being a source of clarity, has devolved firmly into partisan politics which is why the investigation itself is accomplishing the goals of Russia. That is why Russia hired attorneys to fight Mueller in court, because it serves Russia’s interest to show the truth about Mueller’s investigation on the world stage. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t.

Russians…play chess. And in chess it doesn’t matter how many pieces you lose as long as you achieve “checkmate.” These information operations, “gray zone” operations, are all just an amazing resource of sacrificial pawns for Putin to advance his goal towards a resurgent Russia that the world takes seriously.

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Russian Sniper Propaganda unironically parroted by Mother Jones

It is no surprise that Mother Jones would run a hit piece on the NRA. I won’t link to that original article, feel free to google it if you want to.

The NRA has been under fire for its Russian links. The outfit has refused to provide Congress with complete information about funding it receives from overseas, including Russia. McClatchy has reported the FBI is investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump win the presidency. (The NRA was among the biggest pro-Trump spenders in the 2016 election.) And the ORSIS trip is another link between the NRA and Russia. The NRA did not respond to a request to explain whether the organization had any qualms about plugging a Russian weapon of concern to the US military.

This Russian rifle could be dangerous for American soldiers—and Russia has been arming its own military and security services with the weapon and distributing it around the world. In a recent article in Popular Mechanics, David Hambling, a military technology expert, notes that the T-5000 is changing “the shape of future battlefields” to the disadvantage of the United States. (“For now,” he notes, “the solution [for US forces] is simple—run.”) Still, the NRA—whom Trump has called “great American patriots” and whose convention he addressed on Friday—allowed itself to be used by ORSIS to promote the weapon. For the group, guns do seem to transcend all, including national security.

What is more surprising is how much traction this naked propaganda got, until you realize that journalists are generally both “leftist” and “stupid” which makes anything that seems juicy and makes the NRA look bad something they’ll pick up on.

Places such as “We are the mighty” simply parroted the MJ story without any context or fact checking.  Business Insider also got into the act: “The NRA helped promote this deadly Russian sniper rifle that has the US military worried”

Rifle discussed: Orsis T-5000 in 338 Lapua. Also discussed is the Russia Next Generation Warfare Study. The authors of the article pull an awful lot of quotes out of context.

Here’s the facts and context: The Orsis T-5000 is similar to the M24 338 Lapua or the AI AWM in that it is essentially hand made in small batches to support military sniper missions. The US military has had to deal with the Steyr HS50 showing up in “insurgent” hands in the middle east for years now. What the Russia Next Generation Warfare highlights isn’t the equipment, but the tactics enabled by the equipment, which are changing the understanding of how Russia wages warfare with snipers now, as opposed to the way they used to.

But really, the phrase “deadly sniper rifle” and “most powerful sniper rifle” are pretty common propaganda phrases as Russia seeks to create an image of a military ready and capable of going head to head against the US.

Here’s another fluff piece swallowing the Russian sniper mythology hook line and sinker:

Funny quote: “The T-5000 fires .388 Lapua Magnum ammo, delivering 5,000-foot pounds of energy – twice of that from the Dragunov – to a target 2,000 yards away. The American McMillian TAC-338, on the other hand, can reach only 1,700 yards.”

This is a very interesting statement, and if you believe it you are an idiot. The Mac Tac-338 is designed for 1,500 meter shooting, which is right at the 1,700 yards quoted. The reason why is that pretty much every single 338 Lapua projectile is going to go subsonic after 1,400 meters (at sea level anyways), which drastically increases the drop per distance. You don’t run out of bullet energy or momentum with a 338 Lapua, you run out of drop on the scope, and then you run out of stadia lines to do hold overs, but rest assured that there is no magic sauce that makes a 338 projectile from a T-5000 travel along a different ballistic path than a 338 projectile fired from a Tac-338.

If you want to specify a 2,000 yard range for a 338 Lapua, just give it a scope with lots of vertical adjustment and fire it at a high enough altitude that you can make the hit repeatedly at 2,000 yards. Making propaganda is easy, especially when you have journalists who are “leftist” and “stupid” to buy your story hook line and sinker because they may have played “Call of Duty” once or twice.

Another bit of propaganda: Mirror Headline: Russia to deploy world’s most powerful sniper rifle in Syria capable of killing jihadi target 2 MILES away (note the 2016 publication date on that story)

Rifle discussed, SVLK-14 in 408 Cheytac (Similar to EDM Windrunner)

Seems like we should be shaking in our boots, right?

Well, not so much: Russia unveils ‘Ferrari’ among sniper rifles with a kill range of over 4 km. Called SVLK-14S Sumrak, the rifle is not meant for combat but is a mere collector’s item. (note the 2018 publication date on that story)

What happened between 2016 and 2018 that changed the story from “killing Jihadi’s at 2 miles!” to “not meant for combat, mere collectors item”? Well either the rifle didn’t perform as advertised in Syria, which is a likely possibility as many tight tolerance target rifles lock up tighter a rusted bank vault in the sand of the middle east, or the piece from 2016 was just propaganda.

But here are the facts: The 408 Cheytac is not as powerful as the 50 BMG or 12.7×107 Russian rounds already used by snipers across the world, although some 408 Cheytac loads do overtake some 50 BMG loads after a certain distance for energy remaining. The 408 Cheytac was evaluated by the DOD and USMC for possible adoption and found to be no advantage over the 50 BMG in terms of long range accuracy. Sure the 408 Cheytac beat machine gun ball ammo, but it didn’t do any better than 50 cal match ammo.

Now, the Mother Jones article referenced a Popular Mechanics article. Popular Mechanics headline: “This New Russian Sniper Rifle is Redefining ‘A Safe Distance’”

Rifle discussed, Orsis T-5000 in 338 Lapua Magnum (Similar to MSR, M24 338 Lapua, C-14, AI AWM)

Now this really references the Next Generation Warfare Study (NGWS) which noted the Russian tactic of a “three layer Sniper ambush” where the first layer would be “marksmen” the second layer would be “snipers with standard sniper rifles” and the third layer would be “elite snipers with medium bore or large bore” sniper rifles. In Ukraine the Russians tried this tactic out and it worked quite well for them and it is something that the US military has not dealt with before.

However, we have nearly two decades of having insurgents conduct long range ambushes using 12.7 and 14.5mm heavy machine guns. Same reaction drill.

However, the standard “react to sniper” drill has always been “get out of the kill zone, call for indirect on the suspected sniper position.” That hasn’t changed just because the Russians started adopting the same 338 Lapua sniper round that NATO allies have been using since at least the 1990s.

Getting off of the T-5000, lets go to another puff piece on Russian sniper equipment: Russian Sniper Rifle Turned Syrian Commando’s Favorite

Rifle discussed: OSV-96 (which is similar to M107/M82 Barrett in size, weight, and intended tactical role) That article is little more than free advertising for Russian military exports, and Russia has a vested interest in selling military gear to buyers, it is one of the few products where it can compete against the west in terms of acceptable quality.

But…lets compare a list of Russian sniper rifles.

The list of Russian Sniper Rifles isn’t that long:


Dragunov (SVD-63) sniper rifle
Dragunov SVU
Mosin–Nagant (no longer official issue, still seen on “Little Green Men” in combat zones)
SV-98, 7.62x54r variant (Russian Airborne)


KSVK 12.7


VKS sniper rifle

338 Lapua

Orsis T-5000
SV-98, 338 Lap variant (never fielded to my knowledge)

9.3 Brenneke

SVDK (because semi automatic elephant gun, why not?)

9×39 (subsonic)

VSS Vintorez

It seems like a pretty impressive list, as it covers “heavy, intermediate, standard, and short range subsonic” nicely.

Then again, if Russian snipers were so invincible, Russia wouldn’t protest the US selling sniper rifles to Ukraine:

Now that the US is selling sniper rifles to the Ukrainians  we may see if better gear leads to better outcomes in east Ukraine. My guess is that the US sniper rifles will be largely symbolic as the real “center of gravity” for the Donbass region is the massive indirect fires from cannon and rocket artillery rather than snipers that are set up in static defensive positions.

I think that the biggest mistake, made by leftist publications like Mother Jones, is that somehow the equipment makes the sniper. That could not be further from the truth. The United States is full of men and women who own rifles capable of “sniper grade accuracy” at distances out to a mile or more. Unfortunately the United States is not full of men and women who have trained their skills to shoot accurately out to a mile. In fact, if it weren’t for a chance for Mother Jones to try to paint the NRA in a bad light I would expect that they wouldn’t have bothered with publishing the story at all, but the standard readership for Mother Jones is just as likely to be uninformed about exterior ballistics as a the average NRA member is on intersectional gender identity politics.

Just to show you why I’m not worried about Russian sniper rifles…

Here’s a list of comparable sniper rifles not made by Russia.

Some 338 Lapua Sniper Rifles not made by Russia

Barrett M98B
Barrett MRAD
Blaser R93 Tactical
C14 Timberwolf
Desert Tech SRS
DSR-Precision DSR-1
FN Ballista
GOL Sniper Magnum
H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 HTR
Longbow T-76
M24 Sniper Weapon System
Remington MSR
Otto Repa SOC
PGM 338
Sako TRG
Savage 110 BA
Steyr SSG 08
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Magnum
Armalite AR-30

Some 408 Cheytac Sniper Rifles not made by Russia

BCM Europearms S.a.s.
CheyTac Intervention rifle series – CheyTac LLC.
E.D.M. Arms XM04
PGWDTI Timberwolf .408 CheyTac – Prairie Gun Works Defence Technologies Inc.
Lawton Machine LLC. (Lawton Rifle Barrels)
G.A.C precision rifles
RND Manufacturing, Inc.
Tactilite T1 (single-shot) AR-15 .408 Chey Tac upper
Vigilance Rifles VR1
Desert Tactical Arms HTI
Cadex Defence Shadow

Some 50 Caliber Sniper rifles not made by Russia

Accuracy International AS50
Armalite AR-50
Barrett M90
Barrett M95
Barrett M82/M82A1/M107/107A1
CheyTac Intervention
L.A.R. Grizzly 50 Cal
PGM Hécate II
McMillan Tac-50
Steyr HS .50

I won’t even bother listing the 300 Win Mag, 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 300 Blackout sniper rifles because there is only one of me, and there are a “whole lotta them.” Please just trust me that in nearly any town in the US large enough to support a Walmart or a sporting goods store I could go in with a credit card and come out with the right kit to give a Sniper to enable to make first round hits beyond a 1000 meters. They might not have the rifle I want in stock, but they could get it or something comparable (such as a Howa 1500 in 300 Win Mag with a heavy profile barrel) from a distributor in a few days at the most.

There are actually way more rifles that should go on each list, but my point should be very clearly made that Russia is really trying to play “catch up” in the sniper game rather than truly being a world leader. The fact that they are using Sniper rifles to duplicate long range ambush tactics that the US last used in WWII (albeit with machine guns for the most part) is interesting, but not really a game changer as the response of “get out of the kill zone, call in indirect fire” is still valid.

To sum up, Mother Jones has always been a magazine by traitorous scum for traitorous scum, Russia is just the latest scapegoat to explain why Hillary lost (seriously, get the hell over it already), and hating on the NRA is just something that stupid leftist journalists do. The NRA is a single issue organization, and that issue is gun rights, and the Mueller investigation is going nowhere fast. Why don’t leftists just come to grips with Hillary being unlikable, un-electable (except as a Senator for some reason) with all the charisma of a syphilitic cactus.

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Condition 0 versus Condition 3: It seems less important than where you carry.

Speed does matter in a gunfight, but I’ve always wondered exactly how much.

Please watch this video, and see how different carry positions, drawing to one or two hands, affects time to shot:

Now, if someone tells you that “carrying in condition 3 will get you killed on da streetz!” you should wonder if small of back carry won’t also get you killed in the streets. As a condition 0 draw with one hand from small of back is still slower than a condition 3 draw from an outside the waistband holster.The problem with using any sort of dogmatic answer, or using a very specific data set like LEO lethal encounters to draw broader conclusions is that every tactical situation is unique. You don’t know what is going to happen that you’ll need to draw a pistol and possibly pull the trigger.

There are people who can do it faster:

So how much difference does that make? That half second has to be quantifiable in some way in terms of probability of success in surviving a violent encounter. One trainer found that his difference was about two well aimed shots on someone charging from 21 feet, but he still got shots off from condition 3. Using standard handgun single round incapacitation and rounds until incapacitation data (you can take a look at the data here: ) , it takes about 3 shots to “stop” an attacker (using 9×19 and 40 S&W data, it is between 2 and 3 rounds to incapacitate), so being only able to get off two aimed shots instead of four reduced the chances of stopping the attack to 43% instead of 47% [(.33×100)+(.33x(.33×100)=43] versus [(.33×100)+(.33x.33×100)+(.33x.33x.33×100)=47%] That single shot difference works out to a 4% chance difference in stopping the attacker using, at least using a fairly simple statistical analysis. That means you are looking at one more “killed on the streets” for every 25 violent encounters for similarly trained and equipped personnel for condition 3 over condition 0.

That statistical analysis is pretty horrible because it doesn’t take into account aimed fire and point of impact, as the biology of the bad guy plays a huge role in whether or not the bad guy gets incapacitated or not. If nothing else it should illustrate how difficult it can be to get good numbers on things with a large number of variables. Even worse, that is based on just one instructor’s personal time difference, and I don’t have a broader data set to draw firmer conclusions from.

Now I am leery of using the Tueller drill as justification for anything more than implanting the lesson that you need to increase your situational awareness, and a uniformed police officer wearing an outside the waist open carry service pistol really should be carrying with a round in the chamber. But I’m not sure that someone who has to dig under a cover garment, reach behind their back, and draw a pistol is automatically going to die either, as you can see from the statistical analysis above that the most important shots for ending the fight are the first two. Of course the problem with statistics is that YOUR particular tactical problem is going to be your unique anecdote, not something that will be easily overcome by statistical analysis.

But still, be wary of instructors who are unwilling to question the prevailing Dogma of the gun school community, it means they’ve stopped learning themselves. As long as you handle your firearms safely, that is what is important to me. If you are slower than molasses in January in the northern hemisphere and still carry, by all means still carry. You just may be the person who saves me from being blind sided while I stand in front of the bank clerk because you were in the right spot at the right time with a gun, and I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on behind me.

Edit: Some tactical Timmy’s are all pretty much calling “heresy” on this, claiming that I’m making excuses for not being as fast as humanly possible. Here’s a representative comment:


Talk about missing the point. That dear readers, is more proof that you can write something as clear as possible and someone will only read what they want to read. I wrote this post based on an idle musing I had about measuring time as a % of success at stopping an attacker. I also don’t believe that everyone, everywhere, needs to go around in condition zero with an outside the waistband holster (which is the heresy here).

I also believe that not all training is appropriate to everyone who carries a firearm. For example telling a woman who is 80 lbs overweight or a man undergoing chemotherapy for cancer to get trained by shivworks on something like ECQC is not something that I would do. Would I encourage a woman who is overweight to carry? Yes. Would I encourage a man undergoing chemotherapy to carry? Yes. I firmly believe in working with people where they are, not some ideal of where people should be.

Am I going to tell anyone that if they don’t lose the weight and get over the cancer that a knife wielding attacker is going to kill them on the streets if they can’t draw and double tap in under 1.5 seconds? No. Because my crystal ball is broken and I can’t see the future.

I can’t be too hard on the Tactical Timmy’s of the world, I used to be one myself. Then I learned that tabs are just pieces of cloth, deployments don’t impart any special skills or wisdom, and high speed low drag training really looks and feels a lot like building muscle memory. I learned that people who carry in condition zero sometimes shoot themselves, or others, and people who carry in condition three don’t. I learned that simply saying, “well you didn’t train hard enough” doesn’t cover when the weapon malfunctions. I learned that after 24 hours of no sleep you are as impaired as if your were intoxicated, but Uncle Sam still expects you to safely handle all assigned weapons. I learned that there is no way to make anything 100% safe, and there are no guarantees that millions of dollars of training will save your life. I’ve seen high speed low drag operator types die, and persistent overweight guardsmen rise up and refuse to quit. Of course none of that matters, because my experiences aren’t your experiences.

In the end my opinion is worth everything you paid for it.

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Old Fools Were Young Fools First

Ever get into a polite disagreement with someone who really should be old enough to know better?


Mr. Kester Price, a well intentioned individual who knows way less than he thinks. A prime example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

This guy, clearly a man of enough years to have reloaded a few rounds, handled a few rifles, and should be some sort of tribal silverback of wisdom.

Instead, we get this:


Don’t take reloading advice from a guy who thinks the Benelli ARGOs gas system functions the same as any other 308, cause that just ain’t true.

The context is that a group member was trying to put together a 308 Win 110 grain load using H335 and was wondering why he was getting popped primers and having extraction issues with his semi-auto 308 rifle.

The issue is pretty simple, the max pressure for H335 even at max load is below the standard 50k CUP that most semi-auto 308 Win rifles are designed to function properly. In short, the “max velocity with lowest pressure” wisdom for long range shooting wasn’t helping out the original poster because as the bullet passed the gas port it likely had a bunch of H335 still burning in the bore trying to build pressure and then getting a pressure outlet from the gas port. Which means the brass swelled enough to grip the chamber, but not enough to push back against the bolt face, so the primer pushed out as far as it could and when the still burning powder added pressure to the gas port, started the bolt unlock sequence.

The only other possible explanation would be a secondary explosive event (SEE), but there were no other symptoms reported, so likely it is just low pressure with a too slow powder.

So it was recommend either IMR 4198 or H4198 because it will shift the bulk of the burning to before the gas port, and cause the correct “pressure curve” to make the rifle function. Seem like a reasonable suggestion given the symptoms reported.

With that, Mr. Kester Price inserts his opinion that H4895 is a better option, despite H4895 having essentially the exact same pressures has H335 because they are very similar in burn rate (although NOT similar in temperature sensitivity) although H4895 is listed as even slower by a few ticks than H335.

When you are reloading for a semi-auto, burn rate is very important.


Here’s a cut from the Hogdon Burn Rate chart showing the partial “sweet spot” for semi-automatic service rifles. And this is for service rifles from 5.56/223 Rem, 7.62/308Win, 30-06, and even 8×57. The lighter your bullet, the closer to the top of this portion of the chart is probably going to server you better in terms of velocity and accuracy, and as your bullet weight increases going down towards the H4895, IMR4064, and Varget (not pictured, but it’s two steps below Reloader 15 but on the top of the next column on the chart).

You want to load 40 to 55gr bullets in 223 or 110 to 125gr bullets in 308? Stick to the 4198s and H322. If you use slower powders, you end up with the symptoms of pushed out primers, excessively sooty cases, and poor cycling. If you have a manually actuated rifle (bolt, lever, single shot of some sort) you can get away with using a slower powder and getting a little more velocity at lower pressure.

As far as getting “too much powder” into a 308 Win and blowing yourself up that Mr. Price is worried about, it is impossible to double charge a 308 Win with either IMR 4198 or H4198. It is possible to cram more into the case than you should, but H4198 has a volumetric density of 0.750, and my favorite 308 powder, IMR 4064 has a volumetric density of 0.745 (you can check yourself at the handy chart Lee provides:, which should make it really dang clear that you are getting to a very full case by the time you would hit a 42.5 gr max charge with H4895 in a 308 under a 110gr bullet. In fact, his opinion that “about the 90% mark for proper function” isn’t wrong, and 4198 does that nicely.

And again, I don’t recommend anyone take reloading advice from someone who thinks the R1 with an ARGOs gas system is representative of all semi-auto rifles. Many a Garand op rod was bent by someone looking at a reloading manual and going, “Huh, I can get more velocity, with less pressure, using a heavier bullet with a better BC, if I just use this IMR 4831 or 4350 with a max charge, should be safe because both can be compressed!” That load would have been perfectly safe in a 1903 or 1917 bolt rifle, but not in a stock Garand. That’s why there is a nice market for adjustable gas plugs, to give Garand owners more options on what powders and bullet weights they can use to feed their rifles.

And lastly, when someone has symptoms of low pressure, don’t recommend and even slower powder like Mr. Price did. All that will do is exacerbate the problem.

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Harassing Fire: Thoughts on Snipers

The war on terror put snipers, and the art of precision marksmanship, well into the public consciousness. From self promoting Chris Kyle to the mythical “Juba” the war on terror has given rise to some famous and infamous snipers. I’ve been thinking about why this is, and how quite a bit of the mythology in the public consciousness is a bit simplistic.

So this post is going to cut through some of the bullshit and explain exactly why snipers have not been a decisive, “silver bullet” force for any of the sides involved.

First, snipers can only be as good as the unit they are working with. Snipers are a force multiplier, and whatever unit and mission they are supporting is only going to be as good as they’ve trained to accomplish the mission they are given. We know of “Juba” because the terrorists wanted to create a myth, and so the only point behind Juba was to make terrorist snuff porn films for the purpose of creating propaganda.

Second, confirmed kill body count is meaningless. It isn’t how many you kill, but who you kill. This means that for every terrorist who got their grape peeled (or pealed if you want to go with a bell ringing metaphor) by an American bullet, and all of the service members (and civilians) shot by the terrorists, no one killed anyone of enough importance to turn the tide of war.

Third, despite all this, snipers are indispensable to a talented commander. The intelligence gathering capabilities, ability to integrate air and indirect fires, even the ability to provide security on a given sector of an objective for a very small troop footprint are all things that no other small team can provide.

Forth, regular forces are looking to technology to mitigate the threat of snipers. From muzzle flash detectors to acoustic detectors to “backscatter laser technology to identify sniper scope lenses” the battlefields are getting packed more densely with sensors designed to identify a sniper by position before, during, and after a shot is taken. What was multi-million dollar DARPA level technology fifteen years ago can be cheaply replicated in Taiwan for dollars in hardware and pennies in code.

Fifth, snipers cannot become decisively engaged and be successful. This means that their rate of “effects delivery” on the battlefield is dictated by how quickly they can displace from one area to set up in another area. For a mission such as “harassing fire” this can be done fairly quickly in a dense urban area, which is where we saw all the “Juba” videos come from. For snipers that require more specific mission planning guidance, the rate of “effects delivery” is significantly slower.

With all those realities, I’m a huge fan of our snipers. But like our tankers, artillerymen, fighter jocks, and strategic bomber crewmembers, they are part of the “right mix” of military capabilities, and not a “silver bullet” solution to any given problem.

For the terrorists, that is a different story. The snipers for the terrorists were at any given time their most effective direct action force to create propaganda. Wars like Vietnam (US experience) and Afghanistan (Soviet experience) are stark reminders that a political victory does not always come from military might. Giving people hope, so that they can continue to resist, was the biggest single contribution of the terrorist snipers, although most of them were little better than point blank level marksmen.

A good mental experiment is to ask yourself about the outcomes you would want to see from a successful employment of snipers, and then whether or not it is reasonable to expect success. A lot of the time we make assumptions about the level of intelligence available to snipers that could make them more effective than they have been in the past. The reason “Juba” shot random Americans on patrol is because he didn’t have better intelligence to shoot someone actually important, and that propaganda was simply designed to tear down the aura of invincibility surrounding US service members. In the end, “Juba” died really when the propaganda cell he was working with were killed.

From the terrorist point of view, sniper type operations are what you do when you can’t really do anything else. Inside of the ISIS controlled territory they had no need to use snipers to maintain their dominance, if they wanted to shoot someone they just did it and justified their actions through some breaking of their strict version of Sharia law. The “lone wolf” snipers who provide harassing fire against uniformed troops haven’t done much from a military objectives standpoint. Yes they’ve raised the cost of war for the other side, but there have never been enough “lone wolves” to do anything but prolong the conflict. Whether that conflict be in the Balkans, Iraq, or Afghanistan. From the terrorist point of view, prolonging the conflict is a required condition for continuing in the fight to eventually outlast a super power.

The truth is that our snipers are good people who care about the men and women they protect. But neither are they invincible warriors who commute from Valhalla, no matter which side of the conflict they fight on.

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What is your normalcy window?

One of the most obvious disconnects between the “coastal liberals” and the rest of the world is that the “normalcy window” or “frame of reference” that they inhabit is not a shared experience. It is one thing to talk about how wonderful and good having the Federal Government provide all your food, housing and healthcare, but I don’t think any of the people with that beautiful world vision really understand that once you go that route eventually it turns into Pine Ridge and generational poverty. But Liberals float around in this “normalcy window” where everybody agrees that government should fix all their problems, and we live in such a prosperous nation that they can see all the successful people with their trappings of wealth, and they “just know” that there is all this wealth out there that could be put to better use, like giving everyone free college, birth control, and whatever cause of the day they want other people to pay for.

In short, liberals need to be mugged. They need to be hit upside the head with the brick of reality and have some consequences for their actions. Notice how few colleges are doing this, because so many parents failed to do this. And it created a huge population of people in dense urban areas who have a “normalcy window” skewed to that echo chamber of ideas.

Meanwhile, out in hillbilly redneck flyover meth country….

And there are pockets of blue in solid red states, and pockets of red in solid blue states. You break it down county by county, you’ll see that America is largely much more purple than red or blue.

The triggering factor for this is one of the current gubernatorial candidates for Hawaii has a shtick where he talks about working his way to a college degree from the pineapple canning factory floor. That’s awesome, that’s what happens when you don’t subsidize college education with “free Federal dollars.” Without subsidies colleges have to do that accounting where if they can’t make their tuition affordable by students, students don’t come. When you subsidize the students, tuition and rates go up, so now it becomes literally impossible to work your way from the pineapple canning plant floor to a college degree. Not because the pineapple canning plant doesn’t pay a fair wage, but because the college has been removed from needing to account for “supply and demand” in their accounting and financial planning.

Unfortunately, despite the long string of poverty and misery that socialism and communism have brought to the nations that have tried it (and seriously, we are not Scandinavia, and even Scandinavia backed away from government control of the economy because they were smart enough to realize they absolutely sucked at running an economy), there are those who still see the street fighting in Venezuela as a temporary setback of no importance.

Because in their normalcy window, everyone agrees college should be free. In their normalcy window, they don’t have to see where food comes from. They exist in this great big playpen of civilization, and complain that the playpen isn’t fair enough.


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