Saturday, April 5, 2014

What's the Best AR...? (The Would-Be Hash Bash Blog)

Today was the Hash Bash. Well, er, I mean the Hemp Rally. I kind of thought about writing a blog about that, but I’m still on probation at my new job so I better hold off on that and behave. So I’ll write about homegrown ARs and Roll-your-own SBRs. Seems like a safer bet to me…..

Anyway, a guy walks up to me and knows that I work at A3, so he asks, “What’s the best AR you got?”

I hate these questions. Any question that starts with “What’s the best…” is fraught with peril. Almost inevitably when we answer, the guy has a come-back. Like, “Well, what about the ‘Whiz Bang 2015’ I just read about in Job Shooter’s web review?”  Sometimes it is almost as if they guy was trying to lay an ambush for us and let everyone in the store know how smart they are by asking about some obscure gun that nobody else has heard of.

So, I try not to answer these questions directly. The best response to the initial question is that it depends on a whole host of things. And often the case is that the ‘Whiz Bang 2015’ that Joe Shooter reviewed was a pre-production sample of a gun that won’t be available for another year or so. And, when it comes out, it might not actually work. (Anyone remember when the Kimber Solo came out)? Oh, and let’s not forget that "Whiz Bang" bought a whole page worth of full-color advertisement in Joe Shooter’s magazine. Still, I’m sure Joe was objective in his review….

Which brings us back to the original thrust of the blog. The best tactical AR's.  I asked the guy who posed the original question what his intended purpose is for the AR. The response was something like “Well, I want it for home defense and maybe some hunting. If you could carry any AR you wanted in your police car, which brand, caliber, optic, barrel, etc. would you carry?” Hmmm. The options are endless.  Wilson Combat, LWRC, Smith & Wesson, Core 15, Daniel Defense…you get the idea. There are tons of them out there, most of them being pretty well made.

Truth be told, though, I’d opt for none of the above. Sure, they’re all great and most any rifle on our ‘wall-o-rifles’ would probably serve my purpose very well. But if I could take just one rifle on patrol with me and knew I would need it in the direst of circumstances, it would be none of these. It would be one custom built by me with guidance by "Tactical Corporal."

Bottom line is that I would believe in and trust a "Tactical Corporal" gun right from the start. Why? My home built guns have all been built with input from him and post-production inspection by him, and I have shot other guns he’s built. They just simply work damn well. That, and he’d probably take it out and shoot the crap out of it before handing it over.  Using my ammo, too, no doubt.

And you can have the same thing. If you've never built an AR but enjoy them and want to understand them and build your own, stop in and ask for Bill (AKA Boss Dude) or Tactical Corporal.  We have or can get all the goodies you need to build a great shooting AR.

I just guided a friend through his first build. Talk about rewarding. He’s shot a bunch but never built one. He got the parts and sat down and spent a couple of hours driving roll pins and putting some torque on barrel nuts with my guidance. When he got done, we went out and he sent a couple of magazines down range to sight it in. What a hoot!

If you want to build your own, we can give advice and pointers to you and get you on the right path. Shooting an AR is a boat-load of fun. Shooting one you built is even more so.

(So, what would I have Tac Corporal building if I could carry any AR on patrol? It would be an SBR in 300BLK with 8 to 10 inch barrel  (1:7 twist), a suppressor, a Rogers Super-stoc and probably a Leupold VX-R scope. Load it with a 20rd GI magazine full of Barnes Blacktips and watch me smile).


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Here's Your (co)Sine

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The egg is not happy. The chicken is leaning back grinning and he's puffing on a fat cigar. The egg speaks. “Well, I guess we answered that question.”

And you wonder what this has to do with shooting. (Hell, you probably wonder why you still read these blogs) As for the first question, easy, follow me here. As for the question, God only knows.

We were almost to Suttons Bay on our bicycles last summer, having left Traverse City fifteen or so miles behind us. It was uphill all the way and I was thinking of the incline. Didn't really want to think of the incline, but it was better than thinking of my sore butt which regular blog readers might remember I had sprained a number of blogs ago. (Refer to the June 10 “Call Girl” blog, if you need a refresher) The incline had reminded me of an egg joke: Why did the egg cross the road? Simple. It had the inclination. Some won’t get it. Some will. Some who do get it will wish they hadn't. Either way the joke sucks, but play along for a minute. And I promise my jokes for today about eggs are all ova...

I got to thinking about shooting up and down hills and how to compensate for bullet drop. The fact is that bullets drop based upon how far they travel horizontally, not how far they travel overall. Seems kind of counter-intuitive at first, but distance traveled vertical doesn't really matter much to the bullet.

Gravity affects a bullet basically at right angles to horizontal. So, the distance over which it affects a bullet’s flight is measured horizontally and does not count true distance on the incline. Some range finders do the math for you; they measure the true distance to the target, compute the angle up or down at which they were held, and render the horizontal distance.

If this is not taken into account, the bullet impact will be above the point of aim. How much? Well, for most of us it isn't that much. But to someone interested in the utmost precision, it will matter.

To find out how much, we need to know a few things; the actual distance to the target on the slope, the horizontal distance, the angle of the slope from horizontal, the cosine of the angle and the trajectory of the gun. If we know the measured actual distance to the target and the angle, we can calculate the horizontal distance and then plug in the rifles ballistics (and I’m sure you all know your rifle’s ballistics, right?)

(WARNING: I am about to commit the crime of math here. For you who are math professors and physicists, please forgive me! It’s been a long while since high school math class. Hell, I can’t even tell a sine from a cosine anymore… So, feel free to add your insight if you can clarify things.)

Measured distance to target on the slope=300 yards           
Angle up or down = 30 degrees
Cosine of 30 degree angle = .87 (And we all carry cosine charts, don’t we???)

So, 300 yards x .87= 261 yards.

Or, if the distance to target on the slope is 200 yards, then the actual horizontal distance is 200 x .87 which yields a horizontal distance of 174 yards.

In my 300 Blackout, which is admittedly not a flat-shooting round, the difference in the 200 yards example is two inches. If I did not compensate for the incline, I would be shooting two inches high.

The difference will be even smaller if shooting a flatter round like the 308 Win Mag. The difference here would be about .4 inches.

At a 45 degree angle, which has a cosine of .71, the actual distances from the above examples are 213 yards for 300 measured and 140 yards for the 200 yard measured.

Does this matter in Michigan? Probably not, from a practical point of view. But for those of you who head to mountainous areas, it could make the difference between a miss and a meal. And, you can impress your hunting mates around the campfire with your erudite grasp of ballistics.