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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Nearly Free State of Arizona
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    321

    Default In Praise of Simplicity

    I carry a rifle as part of my personal defense loadout. It isn’t always on me, but it is generally rather close. I drive extended distances frequently for work, and can envision a number of scenarios in which I might be called to bring a rifle into action. I am also blessed with many options as to what rifle to carry. I prefer the AR platform, and can readily choose a 10.5”, 14.5”, or 16” barreled carbine.

    During some recent testing, I found some significant issues with my platform choice. While all of my rifles are accurate at common distances, I found that there were serious issues with penetration and lethality. In particular, the velocities on the shorter barrels had dropped down close to 2,000 fps and there were suddenly significant issues in penetrating relatively simple barriers (such as car doors, window glass, and concrete block). Even when bullets were able to penetrate, one would have to question the remaining lethality of the bullets.

    My first option was to change the ammunition that I used with each platform. You could either go with a lighter bullet and try to increase the velocity, or with a heavier bullet to increase lethality. In the end, it was a fairly unsatisfying compromise. The 5.56 cartridge is ultimately dependent on velocity for lethality and there were just too many compromises in the mix.

    JonathanNobody recently supplied me with a very basic M16A4 rifle. This is a nearly box stock Colt Defense A4 20” rifle with iron sights (only modification is the addition of a Wilson trigger unit). By most current standards, this rifle is ‘unoptimized’ or ‘unsexy’. There are no optics, lights, or other devices hanging off the gun. However, when I conduct the same tests using this platform, the results change dramatically.

    The 20” barrel of the M16A4, combined with M855A1 (bronze tip) ammunition results in a significant improvement in both penetration as well as lethality. The bullet leaves the barrel at ~3,200 fps and has proven itself easily capable of penetrating cinderblock walls as well as car doors and auto glass out to 100 yards. Further, the rifle length gas system significantly reduces port pressures and does not increase wear like using that same ammunition does in the shorter barreled rifles.

    While M855A1 ammunition is expensive (so is all other specialty and match ammunition), it has proven to be 100% reliable and is not impossible to source. Further, when combined with a simple, quality rifle like the Colt M16A4, it results in an accurate and portable package that excels in performance without the need for too many ‘sexy’ accoutrements. If I wanted to get super-fancy, I could order a Trijicon ACOG (RCO-A4) that was designed specifically around the M16A4/M855A1 combination. However, for now, I simply upgraded the sling to something more useful and will leave it as simple as possible.

    Is anyone else out there using something simple, but that they find to be extremely effective? (I have a brother who uses an extremely simple AK in order to improve penetration and lethality for example)
    “How can I shoot people? Shooting people is easy. It is the simple application of the fundamentals of marksmanship. The hard part is ensuring that I have the physical strength to prevail, the moral strength to know when it is right to kill, and the mental strength to articulate the aftermath such that I maintain my freedom while they experience what comes next in the afterlife.”

  2. #2
    Sometimes simple is better in certain circumstances. While not popular, as I'm now back from my imposed vacation, I expect to find something equal to what you've got - maybe a SI 20" DRM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    556 is amazingly dependant on barrel length for velocity. It really drops off below 16". If you want a short AR go .300 blk.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanNobody View Post
    Sometimes simple is better in certain circumstances. While not popular, as I'm now back from my imposed vacation, I expect to find something equal to what you've got - maybe a SI 20" DRM.
    Being unpopular is sometimes OK
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
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    5,499
    Simple is almost always better.

    I appreciate that with the AR you can change uppers easily based on what you need. Although switching uppers around is perhaps not simple, it is a strength. Simplicity is gained by having one lower, or a few lowers that are all set up the same way.

    My best AR is an 18" SI Recce rifle, easily my most accurate and most pleasant shooting AR. And as long as I'm out in the open it's my choice. But there are times when a shorter weapon is called for. I have a 12.5" that I use for this purpose. While I would much rather have the velocity benefits of the longer barrel, bigger isn't better for everything. Everything is a compromise.

    But ammo choices are also a compromise. The 223 is definitely a compromise...we trade the lower performance from shorter barrels for the prolific choice of flavors and availability.

    300 Blk is the same. 6.5 Grendel is the same. Compromise one thing to get a bigger gain with something else.

    On paper at least, I think a 12.5" 6.5 Grendel would give me most of the things I want in a single rifle. Not too big, good performance from a short barrel, good range. I am not a "one rifle" guy, but going that route would certainly be simpler.

    I will say that I am less and less inclined towards rifles for short range problems. I've been very focused on the shotgun lately.
    Brent Yamamoto
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Phoenix, Arizona
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    9,411
    Sometimes it's best to slit throats with Occam's Razor, especially when you don't know where or when you'll be, so general performance with nothing on it that can fail isn't really a bad option. Sounds like a good choice for a Truck/trunk gun.

    I don't have a dedicated truck/trunk gun and I've spent a lot of years with an M-16A2, with iron sites and wouldn't feel under-gunned to go back to one.
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  7. #7
    I keep coming back to a basic M4 carbine with a 16-inch barrel. I have gone to a fixed stock. Applying a simple “butt stroke to the head” demonstrated the weakness of an adjustable stock. And I agree, if you want a short barrel, 300 BO is better than 5.56.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    NWFL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorkface View Post
    556 is amazingly dependant on barrel length for velocity. It really drops off below 16". If you want a short AR go .300 blk.
    Absolutely go to a short 30 like 300 black out or 7.62x39. Also the 6.5 g might also be useful in shorter barrels. A 30 cal 125 grain bullet from a 10 inch barrel at 1800 to 2200 fps vs a 62 gr bullet at about 2000-2300 from a 5.56.
    One who hammers his gun into a plow plows for those who do not....Unknown
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    MI
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    22
    Been working towards simplicity and commonality in our rifles as well built a no frills A2 clone just like the one I had at Paris Island, and what do ya know it shoots well and can be called upon to preform many duties, sling cleaning kit are the only add ons.
    Also like others have mentioned we’ve been very happy with a recent 300blk pistol, 110 to 125 grain bullets minimum velocity loss in the short tubes and accuracy on par with full sized rifle , also it seems to me muzzle blast isn’t as obnoxious as from a 7-10 inch 5.56 barrel, your mileage may vary. 300 pistol is also an exercise in simplicity; aftermarket trigger and muzzle break are the only added items and for now she just wears open sights.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Honestly...given the realistic contact distances for a private citizen who does not have fantasies of sniping to 500 yards in self defense, and with the advent of the AR Pistols...I see no advantage of a full sized 16" rifle over a 10.5" "pistol" with a brace.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

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