10-32 Solutions/Milwaukee COPS
Basic Carbine Operations 10/26/2013, Racine County Line Rifle Club
Fourteen shooters entrusted us with their funds and time to attend our Basic Defensive Carbine course. We started at 0700 in order to have enough time to complete what we wanted to teach, as we only get the space until 1600. Admin stuff was thus done while it was still dark, and students had to confirm their zeros while staring into the sunrise.
Weather on Lake Michigan, especially in the fall months, can prove to be quite unpredictable. We were quite relieved to have a dry forecast and temps in the 40’s, although we dealt with up to 30 mph winds at times.
Shooters were from a variety of backgrounds, about half were former high-power rifle shooters, and we had one grandfather/grandson combination. Everyone had the same motivation of wanting the new challenge of seeing what they could do with carbine platforms. In the classes I’ve either attended or taught, students largely shot the direct-impingement AR platform, and some classes tended to have a specific manufacturer or two dominate the carbine types. This class is the first one I have ever been involved with where the DI AR/M4 was in the minority. There were 6 DI guns, three blowback Spike’s Rimfire conversions and one Colt brand rimfire, 3 different brand of piston AR’s, and one SCAR. The Pistons were a LWRC that the owner has run for quite a few years, a Sig Sauer 516, and a Huldra upper. Optics and equipment were varied, and we saw optics that ranged from inexpensive red dots to Aimpoints. There are quite a few Aimpoint PRO’s that are showing up, and this is one of the best dot optics you can buy for the money.
One of the challenges with this range is it faces due east. Confirming our zero was done into the sunrise, which meant some had some difficulties with their zero. A common occurrence was groups that were higher than normal, and the former military and high-power guys were reminded of back in the day of the phrase “Lights Up/Sights up”, meaning adjust your sights higher if facing into the light (Let me know if I misstated the phrase.). Everyone was told to confirm and ready their zero prior to class so that we could spend a minimum of time getting people dialed in, but some who had zeroed months ago under different lighting and weather conditions and thought they were zeroed in discovered that they were a lot further off than they thought. Every twenty-degrees of temperature change can lead to a change in your point of impact. Confirming your zero is something I would recommend doing at least quarterly for the citizen using their carbine for defense or practical or action competition.
There were very few malfunctions observed that were set up as part of the class. The LWRC had a Magpul magazine become so wedged in the magwell that it had to be very forcibly extracted. Nothing obvious jumped out as to the cause, but I am attributing it to the possible accumulation of dust between the well used mag and inside the carbine that just reached a point. The Sig 516 needed to be mortared at one point providing a good demonstration of the proper technique, but the cause was from the malfunction drills that we were inducing, and it required a little extra. The only other obvious malfunction was with one of the Spike’s conversions. The nose of the cartridge was catching on the feed ramp after a few hours of shooting. .22 LR’s are notoriously finicky and fickle at times with ammunition. Rather than waste time trying to diagnose the problem, I loaned him my S&W M&P 15/22 to allow him to continue training. To my knowledge, he didn’t have a single malfunction the remainder of the day.
Rimfires are excellent training tools. One of the students commented that for what he would have spent in ammunition, he got a rimfire trainer gun out of the deal. There is a lot to be said for using rimfires for various aspects of carbine training. I am very much an advocate, and have a SWAT article published on the testing I did of the M261 conversion kits. My experiences with those conversions, which I saw the students using the rimfire conversion kits and one other brand of rimfire carbine experience, are what led me to purchase one of the best investments I ever made with the S&W. The other brands and conversions have slight differences in the manual of arms and the manipulations those shooters had to do. They did not have bolt hold opens, or if they did lock back on the follower of the empty magazine, the bolt closed once the magazine was removed. We were unable to perform the double feed drills with those shooters, and double feed manipulations are at least something that can still be worked through to build familiarity with the M&P 1522. The other rimfire carbine was a Colt brand, and I was told it was a 2nd Generation. I saw that the safety is like a standard AR and no longer has to be manipulated 180-degrees to take off safe. However, it still needed an empty magazine to hold the bolt open, as the bolt catch/release was not functional.
The High-power shooters got exposed to some of the different stances and weapon placement that practical and defensive carbine shooting require. While High-power rifle and hunting stances emphasize bladed stances and sometimes positions that use contorted limbs for bone support and sling tension, we teach stances that square up to provide recoil management, movement efficiency, and maximum use of armor. Everyone was a fast learner, and I was surprised as shooters that have shot a certain way for many years sometimes have difficulty adjusting and remembering these ways. It was a good bunch of guys, with good senses of humor, who listened and had open minds. There were no “That Guy’s” attending, and as I mentioned during the introductions these are the sorts of people that I love to teach. I told them that teaching law enforcement can be challenging, because a lot of cops will not come unless they are told to, paid, given what they need, and they still might have attitudes about being there. People like the students in our class wanted to be there, they had a motivation and attention, and it definitely showed in their continued progress during the day and weekend. It was actually a lot of fun to do and to watch the learning occur.
To close, I also want to mention Jacob #5. He was the 15-year old that attended with his grandfather. We continually razzed him by asking what number his target was after he accidently shot on the one next to his during zeroing. As a young man, he listened and did well, and it was great to see someone his age take part and have the maturity and mindset needed to handle carbines safely in this manner. I felt privileged to take part in providing proper foundations in training for one of our youth, and I hope he does well from here on out.