Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Marine version)

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
(A Marine version)

'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

Written by James M. Schmidt in 1987

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 SHOT Show

We will be attending the 2011 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, January 18-21. Keep your browser pointed here for day to day coverage of new products for the tactical shooter. If you have a particular item you are interested in, post up here and we will see what we can do.

Also keep an eye on our SHOT Show page on 8541 Tactical.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Begging for Money

I hate to do it folks, but we are planning some nice reviews this winter and moving into the new year. Unfortunately some manufacturers are less inclined to donate products for reviews than they were in the past. Combine this with the traffic that the main site generates and you can see that keeping this train running is not a cheap affair. If you enjoy the information we provide, please give us a hand and buy some of our gear on our Products page or kick us a couple bucks using the button below.

The Management.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD

There has been much discussion about this new Remington 700. It's the first we have seen of a collaboration between Remington and Advanced Armament Corp. This 700 comes with a 20" barrel that is already threaded to accept a suppressor. What is more interesting is that it is a 1:10 twist. This is an increase from the common 1:12 on other Remington Varmint, Tactical and Police rifles. The 1:10 twist is more suited to sub-sonic projectiles as well as the heavier, higher BC bullets favored by long range shooters. We have one on the way, and hope to get an evaluation underway at the beginning of the year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday Marines!

Semper Fi Brothers. For two hundred and thirty five years you have made the Corps the greatest fighting force in the world. The Marine Corps continues to perfect the method of turning citizens into Warriors. To say the Corps "changes" you is an understatement of epic proportions. God Bless the United States Marine Corps.

Accuracy International AE MkII Review is up.

The AI AE Mk II review is up on

If you are on the fence about a custom build or ordering an AE MkII then do yourself a favor and read the review. Accuracy International has done an exceptional job with this rifle. They brought the AE up to 90% of the level of the AW while keeping the cost in the realm of the working man.

AI AE Mk II Review

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vortex Razor HD Review has been posted.

I have finally gotten around to completing the Razor HD 5-20x50mm review on The Razor has proven to be an extremely high quality optic with features specifically intended for the tactical shooter. I only found a few very small items to dislike. Overall the glass was clear. The turrets tracked accurately and reproduced what I was seeing in the reticle. The EBR-2 reticle in our Razor has proven useful on multiple unknown distance targets, movers and precision targets. Take a look at the full review and let me know what you think.

The AE Mk II review should follow shortly. It has been finished and published in Sniperworx Magazine, but I have not gotten it formatted for the website yet.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

AI AE Mk II and Vortex Razor Rifle Scope

We have been slacking off lately on updating the Blog. We have taken deliver of an Accuracy International AE (Accuracy Enforcement) MkII rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm (.308win). We are going to be doing a full evaluation article with numerous types of ammunition. This rifle will also be my primary competition and duty rifle for the remainder of this year and for 2011. So far I have 55 rounds  through the tube on our first firing day. I have to say this is an excellent rifle. Out of five, five shot groups the largest was just over 3/4" and the smallest was almost 1/4" at 100 yards. Much of this was due to me not being "in the game" and trying to get used to the platform. I have not owned an AI system before and my trigger time on them has been limited.

Our AE MkII features a 20" barrel with screw on muzzle break, picatinny rail and side folding stock. The AE MkII improves on previous AE's by accepting AICS magazines. Accuracy International offers both five and ten round magazines. The five round magazines fit flush with the bottom of the stock. The AICS magazines are the most popular precision rifle magazines in use in the US. They are used in the Marine Corps M40A3 and A5 Sniper Rifles as well as many other custom bolt action rifles.

A world class sniper rifle is useless without top end optics to direct it's fire. To that end Vortex Optics has provided us with a new Razor 5-20x50mm rifle scope. The Razor is a first focal plane mil reticle with 0.1 mRad click turrets. The Razor's reticle is illuminated and features a "Horus like" Christmas Tree extending from the bottom. At first I was  concerned that this would be too busy, but the execution is excellent. It's fine enough that you can forget about it if you wish, but when you really need to hold and track it's there for assistance. I would have loved to have this reticle earlier this year when I was on a stage engaging 200 yard fixed and 600 yard moving targets. The Razor also features a zero stop that is easy to adjust. We have not completed any tracking tests yet, so the accuracy of the turrets is unknown at this point.

We are looking forward to some more trigger time on this system and will be reporting back soon.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Accuracy Internation AE MkII Coming Soon!

We have a new Accuracy International AE Mk II on the way from SRT Supply. This model is the folding stock with 20" .308 Win barrel and muzzle break. The AE MkII has several notable improvements over the original AE. The most notable being the Mk II accepts AICS magazines instead of the single stack AE magazines.

We should have the rifle in our hands at the beginning of next week. I received the shipping notification three hours after placing the order. Once I get my grubby little mitts on  the rifle I will get some pics up and begin the review process.

This rifle will serve several purposes for us. It will allow me to design some new nylon products that have been requested for the AI Chassis. Assuming the accuracy reports that I have been getting are true (and I have no reason to doubt them) then the AE MkII will be replacing my 700 as my match rifle. The durability of this platform will also allow me to use it as a "loaner" rifle for students who have equipment problems or do not have their own rifle.

Stay Tuned!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

8541 Tactical Logo Shooter's Hats

We have just received our first shipment of our Logo Shooter's Hats. These hats are low-profile and unstructured to easily pack. There is no top button or metallic hardware to dig into your head when wearing ear pro. Best of all, these hats are Made in the USA with US manufactured materials. We didn't just have the same old stock cap embroidered. We worked with a US manufacturer to get exactly what we wanted. We hope this will become your favorite shooting hat!

Order here: 8541 Tactical Products

Sunday, August 1, 2010

ESS Crossbow Protective Glasses

We have just completed the review of the Crossbow glasses from Eye Safety Systems. Anyone who spends any amount of time in the urban outdoors knows that a good set of sunglasses makes life much easier. In the urban landscape we have manufactured a good many objects that focus and enhance the sun's power. This is usually uncomfortable to unprotected eyes. Without the greens, browns and soft textures of nature to soak up the harsh light it just bounces around and annoys us. This is also true if you happen to be stuck in the desert or high mountains.

If you work with firearms safety glasses are a fact of life. Many of us resort to cheap disposable safety glasses. This is less than ideal. Those glasses while cheap, rarely provide the same optical clarity found in today's rifle scopes. Why someone would drop over a thousand dollars on optics, then look at them through two dollar pieces of plastic is beyond me.

No matter if you are a cop on the beat, a shooter on the range or a warrior in the desert, the ESS Crossbow offers something for you. The Crossbow comes as a "2x" kit. This includes two frames, one smoke lens, one clear lens, one cleaning bag and a hard case. The lenses can be quickly interchanged by way of the ESS DedBolt™ Lens Lock System. However with the 2x kit this is unnecessary since each lens has it's own frame. As an added bonus the hard case is MOLLE compatible. It will attach to most MOLLE packs and vests. This allows you to wear one set and keep the other at hand. Alternately you can store one complete set and one spare lens in the case. For the duration of the evaluation I kept the hard case attached to my pack in the front seat of my patrol car. When necessary I swapped the smoke lens for the clear one. As I mentioned earlier, this is not necessary for the 2x kit, but I did it anyway to get a feel for how durable the DedBolt™ Lens Lock System was. I did not see any wear related issues for the couple months that I used them.

I did some unscientific fogging tests. The results are posted on the full review at After spending some quality time with these glasses I am impressed. They are not the perfect fit for my face, but the frame geometry allows them to stay secure on many different head shapes. The lens size and shape is perfect for ballistic protection. Since the glasses are ANSI Z87 rated they are suitable for most applications where ballistic eye protection is required.

As an added bonus for those of you who wear ACU to work, the Crossbow is now on the Army's APEL (Approved Protective Eyewear List). The Crossbow is our first look at the products from ESS. Based on the quality of these glasses we are excited to take a look at some of the other models they offer.

Casio Pathfinder PAG40-5V Update

Bug Juice and Pathfinders don't mix......

During a SWAT Callout in the early hours of the morning I grabbed by bug juice and applied a couple of sprays. The bug spray I am partial to is 100% DEET. It works very well. There is just one problem. It doesn't like plastic much. I didn't even think about the watch. It was never an issue I had to worry about.

The Callout went on for a couple hours and ended in a peaceful resolution. I came home and went about putting up my gear and fixing breakfast before I woke up my family by jumping in the shower. This placed the exposure of the watch to the bug spray at about five hours before I showered (with the watch on).

This afternoon I picked up the watch and looked at it. I noticed that anywhere the bug spray contacted the band it made it shiny. I initially thought this was just because I had not successfully washed the oils from the watch. I gave it a good scrubbing with some dish detergent, but it appears that the bug juice actually burned the plastic of the band. Upon closer inspection there were also some spots on the plastic of the case that has turned shiny. This does not affect the function or utility of the watch and the crystal was not affected, but it is something I will keep in mind the next time I am spraying the bug juice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

8541 Tactical "Dope Wallet"

I have been getting requests for something similar to this for awhile now. Here is my shot at it. It's a simple bi-fold body with a plastic translucent window to display a dope data card, range card or any other 3"x5" card.

The wallet can be secured to the arm with the two included 1" webbing straps or attached to a pack or vest by the PALS webbing on the back.

It's a simple design, but I think it's one that any shooter will find useful.

I have not determined pricing yet since this is just the initial design, but I should have that lined out soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Casio Pathfinder PAG40-5V review is up

The initial review of the Casio Pathfinder PAG40-5V is up at 8541 Tactical. I have been wearing this watch for a week now. With mixed patrol, off-duty and one entry (warrant service) it appears to be a great watch. It does what I need and doesn't get in the way. For the regular day to day stuff like taking reports and writing tickets all the info I need is displayed on the main screen with no need to push buttons. At a glance I get time, date and day. It may come as a shock to many but the day feature is incredibly useful to me. For folks who work a regular Monday through Friday work week, keeping track of the day is not difficult. I know it wasn't when I had that kind of job. However when you work a job that rotates days off OR where you may have non-standard sleep cycles (like our military folks) keeping track of the day can get a little difficult.

The Pathfinder has some great features like Altimeter and Barometer. These are very useful for precision long range shooters who need to make ballistic calculations. The Compass could be very useful for backup duties, although I am still not advanced enough to trust an electronic compass over my tried and true lensatic.

The one feature the Pathfinder PAG40-5V seems to lack is a countdown timer. That could be very useful for shooting drills where you need an audible signal to remind you your time limit is up.

Overall I am pretty pleased with this watch. I will continue to update the review on the main site as I get some more time with it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Warrior Song - Hard Corps

For those of you who haven't see this, give it a watch. I felt the goose bumps. Pass it on to a Marine. He will appreciate it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Long or Short Barrels?

I have lost count of how many times this question has come up on the various Internet forums. A new shooter will look at the various rifles available and ask, "should I get the longer barrel since it's more accurate?"

First, longer barrels are NOT more accurate. Interestingly enough if we are discussion barrels of the same diameter, rifling, chamber, etc. the shorter barrel will be stiffer. The stiffer barrel will be more consistent, thus more accurate.

So why so many long barrels? Barrel length is required for the expanding gas from the powder charge to accelerate the bullet before exiting the muzzle. Once the bullet exits the muzzle there is no more force accelerating it, and only air attempting to slow it down (drag). For a long range shooter speed is a good thing. The faster the bullet is moving the less time there is for the wind to act upon it. If you pull up a ballistic calculator and punch in your favorite load, take a look at what happens to the wind correction when you increase the muzzle velocity.

So, this seems to indicate that long range shooters should go with the longer barrel, right? Not necessarily. You have to have a load that needs the longer barrel. Otherwise you are just carting around extra weight and a longer pole to run into stuff.

At the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) Advanced Observer/Sniper Course students shoot out to 1000 yards. I attended this course with my 26" barreled Remington 700. My partner was also there with his 20" barreled Remington LTR. Both barrels are made on the same machinery with the same type of rifling and the same chamber reamer specs. We were both shooting the same lot of 168gr Federal Gold Metal Match ammunition. At 900 yards, both of us were punching nice round holes in the target. This means the bullet was still stable when it passed through the target backer. When we moved back to 1000 yards, BOTH of us were getting "keyholes" where the bullet passed through the backer sideways. This indicates that the bullet has gone transonic prior to hitting the target and has begun to tumble.

What does this tell us? It demonstrates that with this factory load 6" of barrel makes absolutely no difference at 1000 yards. 6" of barrel will make a difference carrying it through the woods, abandoned houses, vehicles, building maintenance rooms, etc. I have also found out the hard way that a 26" barreled rifle in a Pelican 1750 rifle case will not fit in 90% of the rental cars out there.

The next question I usually see is "Will the shorter barrel stabilize the bullet?" Length does not stabilize the bullet. The barrel twist stabilizes the bullet. I am sure there is a length you can get to where you have so little rifling that the bullet is not stabilized. However that length would be well below the legal length for a rifle in the US. If you start looking at building a 4" .308 pistol you may want to do some more research. A factory Remington 1:12 twist .308 barrel will stabilize most of the commercial cartridges available. Many have reported good results with the 208gr Amax bullet through a 1:12 barrel. This is well outside of what most beginning shooters will be sending downrange. If you plan on shooting bullets on the heavy end, then look at a 1:10 twist for the .308.

So in conclusion, unless you have a specific situation in mind a 20" .308 will be sufficient for most long range shooting. If you are hand loading and want to get the most out of a long range load, then the 26" barrel may be a better choice. Length does not equate to accuracy. Length only gives you more velocity if the powder charge is large enough to take advantage of it.

If you are a long range shooter who hand loads, get the 26" barrel. If you are a police officer shooting a factory load, you can probably get away with as short as 16" if you use a good flash suppressor. 18-20" will be about perfect. If you are like me and use one rifle to do everything, then the benefits of a 26" barrel outweigh the drawbacks from the weight and overall length.

Hopefully now I can just link to this post when the next thread appears.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Casio Pathfinder PAG40-5V

I just picked up a new Casio Pathfinder PAG40-5V. It should be here in a few days. This model will display temp, barometric pressure, altitude and compass heading. I am going to see how well it agrees with my Kestrel weather meter. Hopefully it will be close and can act as a backup for environmental data when shooting. I will be posting an initial review once I get some use out of it.

USO SN3 and MST-100 photos uploaded to the site.

I just got done uploading some more photos to the Gallery at These were pre-rattle can paint job pics of the SN-3 that is currently on my main working rifle. I also uploaded some unboxing photos from my MST-100.

For those who do now know the MST-100 is the US Optics built version of the Unertl 10x USMC Sniper Scope that was designed for the M40A1 Sniper Rifle. The body of the scope is Stainless Steel, unlike newer optics made from aluminum. It is ballistically cammed to the M118LR cartridge and can get to 1000 yards real quick. It is an extremely well made optic. The only change on this one, versus the scope that was on my issued M40A1 is that the MST uses a coil spring for erector positioning. The old Unertls used leaf springs. When USO rebuilt the Unertl 10x's under contract they replaced the leaf springs with coil springs and incorporated this in their design.

Here is a neat schematic of the MST-100 courtesy of John at USO.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Timney 510 Trigger Update

One training day down and I have gotten 56 rounds on the new trigger. I am pretty satisfied with it so far. It functioned flawlessly and I could not detect any change in pull weight through the day.

As soon as I can get some rain and grit in it I will post another update.

8541 Tactical Image Gallery is online!

I finally got around to organizing and uploading some pics to the image gallery on the main site. As things move along I will upload some more.

My intent with the Gallery is to allow me to remote upload images when I am at events. It will also provide a place for pictures that don't really fit in any of the articles or reviews I am doing. I will probably not enable public uploads because that will just cause too much of a management issue for me.

Take a look and see what there is to see.

Friday, July 2, 2010

OTB Desert Lites

I have just posted the review of the OTB Desert Lite and Jungle Lite boots on the main site. These are both excellent boots for the hot arid and hot jungle environments. So far the comfort has been great. I am looking forward to wearing these out on the street and in the backwoods.

The Jungle Lite and Desert Lite boots are almost identical. The difference is the color and the finish of the microfiber upper.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Timney 510 Trigger Has Arrived

A lovely little package from Brownells showed up in the mail today. It contained a new machined aluminum follower for my duty .308 (the chrome was flaking from the factory stamped piece), but more importantly it held a brand new Timney #510 trigger. For a couple of weeks I would notice that once in awhile I would get a "heavy pull" on my pre-2006 factory trigger. It was probably only 1lb more than the 3lb setting, but it was enough to force me to take an extra breath before breaking the shot on a precision problem. While it's not enough to cause a safety issue, it is enough to give me a reason to pull it off and have it looked at. Which of course is the perfect reason to try out a Timney Trigger. The Timney 510 uses a different safety system that the factory 700 trigger. This blocks the actual trigger itself instead of lifting the sear. This should prevent the safety issues that the old 700 trigger seems to be notorious for (although often overstated).

The intitial review is up and we will add to it after we get some rounds downrange and some dirt and water in the trigger.

Check out the full review on

Monday, June 21, 2010

Toy, Tool, or Trophy?

In a recent thread on one of the well known tactical rifle forums a member asked "how hot is too hot?" He was asking how hot can you allow the rifle barrel to get before you allow it to cool.

I let this sink into my head for a few minutes then let loose with my reply. My position is simply that you allow the rifle barrel to get as hot as it gets while you do what you need to do. If that's a ten round rapid fire string, then so be it. If it's twenty, then fine. If when you are done you can burn your hand on the barrel.....then don't touch the barrel. I went on to state that barrels are disposable, much like tires on a car. If you use your rifle you will replace the barrel. This apparently worried some members.

Let me clarify my position here. We come from different backgrounds and use our rifles differently. In my current line of work I am unlikely to need to fire more than one round in an engagement. Two or three would be an incredible stretch, and if I run through a twenty round box of ammo, the world is coming to an end. However when we train, we don't fire one shot and take a break. We fire numerous shots to simulate a worst case scenario. We may do it against time to create stress. We do it to force the student to run the bolt and reload smoothly. We do what we need to do.

When I compete the stage of fire determines how many rounds I shoot and how fast I do it. Some stages are "barrel heaters". So be it.

When I was in the military and issued a rifle, we used them. They got banged about, heated up, frozen, rained on and drug through mud. We cleaned them and cared for them. It wasn't abuse, it was USE.

In my current life I come in contact with a VAST range of civilian shooters. I run into like minded shooters who use their equipment as hard as it needs to be used, but they care for it. I run into shooters who abuse their rifles through ignorance or intent. I also come across shooters who treat their rifles like a fine sculpture. They place it on display and marvel at the form of the thing. They "ooh and ahhh" over the color, shape or the price tag. They wipe the fingerprints off the steel and they lament nicks in the paint. If they shoot the rifle at all, it's only to confirm the itty-bitty group it's capable of. When they are done, back in the safe it goes.

So what is your rifle? Is it a Toy, a Tool or a Trophy? Regardless of what it is, to be proficient with it requires that you shoot it. If you shoot it, you will eventually wear out the barrel. How quickly depends on how often and how rapidly you shoot. Some of us shoot every week or several times a week. Some shoot once a month. If I put 100 rounds a week through my rifle I am going to burn that barrel up quite a bit faster than someone who shoots 40 rounds once a month. Which shooter do you think will be more proficient?

Use your rifle the way you need to use it to reach your goal. "The Mission drives the Equipment." Not the other way around.


Thursday, June 17, 2010


For whatever reason it appears that the video bar that I added to the blog sometimes defaults to YouTube videos that are not mine. So if you see something totally strange, make sure it's posted by "LoneWolfUSMC" before you send me a nastygram.

Also, if you guys have a topic you would like covered by a video or even an article, please let me know. Sometimes I get a little writers block and run out of material. A little push from you in the correct direction can help me get back into a productive mode.

Lastly......please comment. If you don't leave comments I feel like I am talking to myself.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Coming Along

Please bear with me. I am almost done with the writeup from the Oregon Sniper Challenge. I just now got the photos downloaded from the photographer. Keep an eye on the main site.

Thanks to "".

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Competition vs. Duty Rifles

Accuracy is the name of the game. Accuracy is addictive. It doesn't matter if you are a weekend plinker, serious competitor or a professional sniper, accuracy is the goal. We always seek accuracy, but at what cost?

Very frequently I see guys searching for tight chambers and actions that are glass smooth. This may be fine if you only shoot from a bench in the sunshine. These "match" rifles often suffer when the skies turn gray, the temp goes sub-zero or the shooter has to crawl through the mud.

After the Oregon Sniper Challenge I was reminded of this fact. During most of the match I was either in my "bubble" or BS'ing with other shooters off the line. I didn't do a lot of spectating as to how other competitors were shooting. That's just not my style unless someone needs help or it's a personal friend on the line. The night after the Challenge wrapped up, my host and match director Steve Huisman asked me about the numbers of problems he had seen on the line. He recounted seeing quite a few shooters pounding on their bolt handles to open or close their actions. This was during one of numerous downpours that we experienced in the lovely Oregon outdoors.

I thought about it for a few minutes and then pondered the times that I was on the line and the shooters that I did watch. I realized that most of the shooters that I watched were either shooting factory rifles or were professional LE Snipers. None of those had any issues. That's not to say that duty guns don't have issues. At a recent seminar I attended we discussed the number of issues that duty rifles can experience when improperly maintained or modified. Factory sporting rifles generally have extra tolerances built in due to the mass production process. Fitting is done where fitting is required. It's left alone where it's not required. On some "match" rifles, fitting is done because the customer expects a tight fit. Tight equals accurate....right? On rifles intended for military or LE Snipers an experienced smith will allow tolerance for dirt, grit, water and ice. The action may feel a little "sloppy" but they still lock up tight. Now on to the core of our problem....

The issues that were really discussed were the hard bolt closing and hard bolt lift. Hard bolt closing can be indicative of improper case sizing or improper headspace. Hard lift can indicate excessive pressure. These are not absolute, and I am NOT a match gunsmith only a simple armorer. However the rifles that had the problems did not have them when we started shooting in the dry weather. It was only after a good soaking that they began to have issues.

I can speculate that hydraulic pressure was the main culprit. If you are running fire-formed brass in a tight chamber, you still have a little air gap due to the elastic properties of brass. When you sit in a pouring rain, even the most doting shooter will get water in the action. This water takes up space in the chamber. A cold chamber can't cook the water off. When you chamber the round it's like running a piston in a hydraulic cylinder. It's going to take more pressure to force what water you can out. Thus your hard bolt closing.

When you fire that round, the water is still there for a split second before it's burned off. By the time the water is burned off, the bullet is already out of the barrel. Since the water prevented some of the brass' radial stretch I can surmise that the case capacity was slightly decreased. This increases pressure in the chamber and causes the case head to exert more pressure on the bolt face. This results in the same hard bolt lift as an overpressure round.

Now a lot of this is speculation and there may be an engineer our there shaking his head, however it's my best SWAG at what was going on.

Now lets take a quick look at the rifles that did not experience any issues. The one I had the most experience was my own. It's the rifle pictured above. I run an almost stock Remington 700 .308 with a 26" barrel. I won't bore you with the details of the rest of the rifle except to say that the chamber is pretty sloppy and the action is well worn from lots of dry fire. For this competition I was running fire formed, neck sized Winchester brass, but I was running a moderate powder charge. I did nothing special to keep water out of my action and the only concession to the weather that I made was to lower my muzzle so that no water crept into the bore.

Another shooter next to me was running a factory 700P on the first day, but switched to an AW because the bipod stud ripped out of the bottom of his HS Precision stock. Two other LE shooters were running AI AE's and two of our northern neighbors were running custom 700's. All were shooting factory ammo. None experienced any failures. Of course all of these rifles had operated in the weather before.

The reason I enjoy tactical matches so much is that equipment is generally not the great equalizer. It's the shooter's ability to utilize his equipment to the maximum. When I was evaluating what rifle to take to the match I analyzed the courses of fire. I saw that there was a lot of sub-600 yard shooting with positions and time limits. I almost selected my AR10 to shoot the match. It's a custom rifle with a Noveske barrel. It is most certainly capable of the accuracy required. I could have installed my USO on it and shot it well. However since I only had 300 rounds on it, I am nowhere near as proficient with it as I am with my top-feeding 700. I have demonstrated time and time again that I can run the 700 "almost" as fast as the AR10. The speed difference is made up for by the familiarity of the system and the absolute reliability it has demonstrated for me. It is my duty rifle and I know it will function in the mud, grime and rain.

In the end it's the Indian, not the bow. If you are selecting a rifle for a tactical competition, I suggest you go with what you know. A $3000 rifle that you put $2000 worth of ammo down the tube will serve you better than a $5000 custom. If you do choose to go the custom route, then don't blindly chase "accuracy". Instead keep the end-use in mind. Tell your builder you want it to function in the rain, dirt and show. When you roll up your handloads, don't run the ragged edge of pressure. Back it down and hit that accuracy node that leaves room for the heat and rain.

When it's all said and done, get to the range. Because no level of equipment in this game can replace skill with the weapon. Lack of range time has bitten me in the ass before and it will again. No matter what you have done in the past, long range shooing is a perishable skill.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oregon Sniper Challenge 2010

You may have noticed a lack of posting from me over the last couple of days. This is mainly due to the fact that I was on the left coast shooting the absolutely outstanding "Oregon Sniper Challenge". This was a two day event that combined long range, close range, supported and unsupported shooting. It tested almost every facet of the "tactical" shooting discipline. Then they threw an aerial platform in just for fun. That's right, a civilian competition that included shooting from a hovering helicopter. Not a "helicopter like" platform, but an actual Bell Jet Ranger in flight. Needless to say this alone left many shooters satisfied even if they zeroed the stage.

I managed to knock myself from fifth to tenth at the end of the first day, then clawed back up to a tenth place finish. This dismal placing was still good enough to take home a certificate for a Iron Ridge Arms matched receiver set ($1000 value).

The sponsors were many and the competition was extremely friendly. This is definitely THE tactical competition in the Northwest.

In the next couple of days I will be doing a detailed writeup for so keep checking back.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Read a good book lately?

Once in awhile I actually manage to finish a whole book. Yes, I can actually read! Now comprehending what I read is a totally different manner.
This time around I finished Stephen Hunter's new book "I, Sniper". For those of you who are Hunter fans, this is another of the Bob Lee Swagger series. I got hooked into Hunter's books after the movie "Shooter" came out. It was based on the book "Sudden Impact". Now anyone who has seen Shooter knows how many technical goofs there are. However I have my wonderful wife to ground me in the "real" world. She thoroughly enjoyed the movie and did not notice the technical inaccuracies.

Why mention that movie in a review of this book? Because as I read through "I, Sniper" I noticed a heap of technical errors. Most of the time I was able to just ignore them and drive on with the rather enjoyable plot. However the errors do have the unfavorable result of dropping you out of the story for a second while your brain attempts to reconcile reality with what you just read.

Now if you are looking for a believable tale, don't waste your money on this book. The plot is far from believable. However Hunter does a passable job of weaving a fictional tale with sniper skills. Hunter likes to explore some of the details associated with weapon craft an in those details he sometimes misses the target.

If you are looking for a way to zone out of the real world for awhile, join Bob Lee as he tromps across the US. If you are not a student of the gun you will probably not even notice the technical goofs. Then again, if you aren't a student of the gun.....why are you reading my blog?

"I, Sniper" on

Some of our Videos

I am attempting to get this Blog layout setup the way I like. I managed to find the nifty little "gadget" that allows me to link our YouTube Channel Videos here.

It seems to be a little twitchy though. Sometimes it previews our videos. Sometimes it shows someone else's. Hopefully I will get it worked out.

In the next couple of months I hope to be able to post some new videos and use them to answer some questions.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I want to get into long range shooting.......................

That is how the post usually starts. Then it goes something like this:

"I want to get a Remington in .338LM because that's what the SEAL's use. My sister's boyfriend has a Counter Sniper scope on his SKS and it looks really cool. I think I am going to get one of those too. Does this sound like a good idea? I have shot some cans with my friend's AK before, but I haven't really shot rifles before."

The thread will usually progress to guys recommending a basic .308 bolt gun setup to get the kid started, but he just really wants some whiz-bang shit to impress the other guys at the range. Rarely do these kids seem interested in learning the "Art" of long range shooting. They are the same guys you will see banging away at 50 yards with a .300WM.

Now I have NOTHING against anyone wanting to own a certain firearm "just because". Lord knows I have several "just because" guns in my inventory. They are usually something that I got a crazy deal on or that hold some sentimental or intellectual value. They may get taken to the range on a rare occasion, but their main purpose is to fill the need to "own" that many of us overgrown kids have.

My concern is that once in a great while there are kids that truly do want to learn the art, but because they see all the other kids at the range with no idea how to use the pile of parts they loosely refer to as a rifle, they think they need to sink a boatload of cash into crap to keep up.

May of these guys did not have the advantage of growing up in the country or having parents who were shooters. Sometime in my youth my father gave me one of the greatest material gifts a man can ever give to a boy. He gave me a Remington bolt action .22LR. It was a "youth" rifle (Remington 581 with a short stock). He converted it to single shot and put the magazine away. I shot cans, junk, targets and the occasional trash bird and rabbit with it. I loved that rifle as much as a boy can love anything before he discovers girls. It was my ONLY rifle until I left for Parris Island and that world of the United States Marine Corps.

In short, don't get sucked into the equipment race. It won't get you to where you want to be.

My suggestion to the new shooter is to purchase a good .22LR bolt action rifle. A Savage or Reminton is a great start. Install some mid level glass ($200 is NOT mid level), a good bipod, a sling, and a couple bricks of match ammo (Wolf Match Target is my favorite). Start at 25 yards and learn how to punch holes wherever you want them. If you are one of those Alpha Males who has to have the BEST of everything, then get a custom Remington 40x in a McMillan Stock and slap a S&B Scope on it. You will drop several thousand dollars into that, but still have a TRAINER than will challenge your skill.

Once 25 yards gets boring, push it back to 50 yards. Then 100 Yards. At 100 with sub-sonic match .22LR loads you will begin to notice that if you don't pay attention to the wind you will start to miss. At 200 yards the wind will be playing with your little, slow moving .22LR the same as it would at 1000 yards for a 175gr .308 (about 9.9 MOA for a 10pmh full value). You will need to be just as exacting with your wind calls, but you will be spending FAR less than the $1.50 a shot that match ammo for a .308 typically runs.

Add into this the fact that 1000 yard ranges are a bit hard to come by in some areas of the US. There are scores of ranges where you can get to 200 yards and all I have seen will allow the .22LR.

With the.22LR you avoid the ammo costs, the recoil and the muzzle blast of the .308.

After a year of hard shooting with the .22LR you will develop some good skills with the rifle.

Sure you may go to the range and see other kids snicker when you break out your "little" .22. If you look closely though you will see some old guys with a gleam in their eye. You can walk away from the line at the end of the day snickering when they can't figure out why their pile of parts "won't shoot" and you were cleaning targets at 200 yards with the wind blowing.

If your ego tries to block you from getting a "little" .22LR, just remember that before a Marine Sniper gets behind a M40 at the Basic School he has to spend some time on the Remington .22 trainers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

LV Steel Targets

I recently got the chance to wring out a new Steel Target from LV Steel Targets. I selected one of their reduced size IDPA silhouettes (3/8" #7) and a drive in base. This allows me to stake this plate in on the side of a hill in my favorite shooting spot.

While shooting steel at 100 yards is a bit of a waste, it does give me an idea of durability. I originally had a plate made of 3/8" AR400 steel from a local shop. After getting a little too excited I holed it at 300 yards with 168gr Match Kings at 2600fps. Not a good thing. This AR500 plate from LV Steel Targets took five 175gr Match Kings at 100 yards and came up smiling. It also endured a pounding from my M4 shooting 55gr American Eagle. The only caveat was a small nick where a .55gr FMJ hit right on the edge. I have not contacted Kurt Stone at LV yet to find out his method of cutting, but it is a known issue that some cutting methods can remove the temper from the Armor Plate reducing it's hardness.

Look for the full review on soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tubb Carrier Weight System and Flatwire Spring

I had been hearing about these two items for awhile and some purported them to have almost mythical qualities. Others state they don't do a thing. Since I have a tendency to not believe internet hype unless seen with my own eyes, I logged into my Brownells account and summoned the Great Brown Truck to fetch my toys.

Hype or Hope? We shall see. I have about 100 rounds on the system right now. I will say it does show promise in the AR10 test pig. What?.... You didn't think we would put it in some dinky little AR15 did you?

 Keep an eye on the website. ( I will have some more info up after I clean off the dust from Oregon.

The Oregon Sniper Competition hosted by my good friend Steve is next week. All energies are going into prepping for that. Look for an after action report when I return no matter if I suck or not.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Welcome to my Blog. I really have no clue what I am going to do with this thing, but more than likely I will just ramble. I have some experience doing websites, but I generally try to keep those tidy looking. In doing so, I procrastinate a lot. Sometimes just laying crap out in no organized fashion gets the info out faster.

My intent here is to just generally post what I am up to in the shooting and professional world. Sometimes you may get a glimps into an article I am working on for the website, or you may just get to read about how I jacked something up. I am a former Marine so that happens quite often. This should also allow me to get some pics up from matches or schools quicker than posting them on the website.

And of course you will get to hear me whine about having to answer the same questions over and over again on the several web forums I frequent. More than likely I will use this Blog to comment on some of those questions so I can link back when they are asked again in a week.....or day.