300 Blackout build complete

I didn’t really have a plan to branch out into another rifle caliber. Back in February several of us ordered suppressors from Dead Air. The current trend is away from caliber specific suppressors, especially .223/5.56. The manufacturers have developed the technology to really improve the quality and performance of multi caliber suppressors.  That said, if you’re looking for the quietest can for a specific caliber, especially .223/5.56 you should definitely go in that direction.

Being the frugal guy that I am I want the most pew, pew, pew for my buck.  My black rifles are .223/5.56.  But looking down the road, you never know what the future will bring, I opted to buy the Dead Air Sandman-S.  It’s a short can for .223-.308 so I know it’s not the quietest.  Not to mention the fact that Dead Air doesn’t offer a .223/5.56 specific suppressor.  If I were looking to suppress a bolt rifle I would have likely go to the Sandman L Ti, a longer, lighter, direct thread suppressor.

During the wait for ATF stamp approval, I had the opportunity to shoot a friends 300blk SBR. I was immediately impressed.  The great thing about 300blk is the ability to suppress a subsonic 200gr +/- bullet through a sub 12″ barrel with excellent ballistics on the AR-15 platform. Same lower receiver, same magazines, etc…  I was immediately smitten and purchased a Daniel Defense 300blk 10.5″ upper.  The DD upper has it’s pros and cons.

Pros

  • Daniel Defense quality
  • Cold hammer forged barrel
  • Better for supersonic ammo

Cons

  • Heavier than other 300 blk offerings (BCM especially)
  • 10.5″ vs 9″ barrel
  • Heavier rail

If I had to do it again, I would probably go with the BCM upper.  Shorter, lighter barrel and rail as I don’t currently have plans to run supersonic ammo.  But then again, who knows what the future will bring.

Considering the current wait time for NFA tax stamps, our timing was about as good as could be asked.  Changes to trust rules by the ATF caused a huge rush to get NFA items rolling.  Ours took all of seven months to process.  Those of you who have been down that road before, know how those waits can be. If there’s a positive angle to that wait time it afforded me time to put together the upper as I wanted to configure it.  Thanks to a good friend for one key element that saved me a boat load.  You know who you are.

So, here it is.

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LMT lower (my 2008 “Prezbo” build has been hosting a 10″ LMT 5.56 upper with basic mogpul hand guards, Aimpoint T-1 on a lower third LaRue mount and fixed rear sight).

LMT lower

Upper

Suppressor

Additional (not pictured)

Rifles Only 6″ HAD cover

 

 

 

Vertx’s B-Range Bag Revue

I’m always in pursuit of gear that fits my needs.  I have more range bags than I can use and have sold and given away a few over the years.  Have I found the perfect bag? No, and that includes this one.  That said, the Vertx B-Range Bag comes pretty close.img_2557d

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the more pockets and bigger the bag, the more crap you don’t need will find it’s way into the bag.  The result will be a sore shoulder, back etc… from lugging the thing around.

My recommendation is to fairly assess what is the true mission of the range bag? Day trips to the range where you’re in one bay practicing/training? How much gear do you need for that? Multiple guns, multiple caliber ammo, mags, etc..  Are you going to a match where you’re moving constantly from stage to stage, bay to bay? Having more than one bag, backpack, etc… is a good idea. Just like different weapons for different missions.  Different kit for different gigs.  Right?

I’ve used and continue to use different bags for different purposes. I kind of miss my original Dillon range bag.  I probably would have saved some money over the years had I known then what I know now. But gear to me is an ongoing quest for the perfect kit.

Vertx gear isn’t cheap.  But also isn’t cheaply made.  They pay attention to detail and it shows in the design, materials and construction of all their gear.  Their range bag is no different.

First it’s sized right for a good compromise between a multi purpose range bag and what I call a match bag.  Just enough room and pockets to cover both missions without encouraging overload of needless crap.

A shallow main center compartment allows quick access to ammo and items you’re using the most at any given time. Ammo, eye pro, mags etc…

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The interior is made of hook and loop material that supports Vertx’s and other hook and loop attachments like holsters, magazine carriers, etc…  I added those to one side pocket for a second gun and support magazine sub loads.

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magazine – tool panel on the left and a Maxpedition adjustable gun loop holster on the right. 

The opposite side compartment has two drawer type compartments where you can store additional items of choice.  Ammo, spent brass, ear pro, you name it.  If it were me, I would have made each uniquely different for different uses.  Having one designed specifically for earpro or eyepro probably would have pushed my design score up to a 9. Two additional mesh pockets above for keys, access cards, small items etc…

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Again notice that the drop down side is hook and loop so you can attach additional items and panels.

The bag also has to hand handles for carry as well as cross attached swivel shoulder strap with padding for easy carry.  Cross attachments are great for allowing easy access.  Included but not pictured is a cable attachment on one end of the bag that allows you to cable lock or padlock the bag to a fixed item to prevent theft.

Is this the perfect bag? So far I’m digging it as a match bag and general range bag.

Here’s how I score it.

Overall design: 8

Materials: 10

Construction: 10

Price: 8  ($159 MSRP)

Training with “Super” Dave Harrington

I recently spent two days on the range with former SOF, Ranger, “Super” Dave Harrington (SDH) of Combat Speed LLC. Mr. Harrington is a 23 year military veteran (Air Force, Navy, US Army) having spent his final 16 years in US Army Special Forces. He spent two tours as lead instructor at the JFK Special War Center.

I first met SDH back around 2003 at an IDPA match.  Since then I’ve trained with Dave numerous times and have hosted training for him.  About an even split between pistol only and integrated black rifle and pistol courses.  There are very few truly ambidextrous shooters out there, SDH is probably the best.  I’ve never seen anyone who can operate a handgun equally both dominate and non-dominate hands. On top of that he can do it across most any handgun platform.  Single action (1911), striker fired (Glock, double/single action (Beretta, Sig Sauer), you name it.  A lot of people can shoot across platforms, it’s the rare person who is proficient two handed, primary and off handed.

The focus of this two day class was pistols.  The class was small with eight shooters from a relatively new shooter to master class shooters.  SDH over the years that I’ve known him and  have trained with him has refined his instruction to be sharp and focused.  He gives no quarter when it comes to safety and operates a hot range. You and you alone are responsible for the safe handling of your firearm and ammunition.

SDH starts the first day with a safety brief. He carries a trauma kit, and identifies anyone who is trained in clearly designates first responder roles including himself.

Training Day 1

Using bullseye targets Dave assesses each shooters ability to make accurate hits on target from 5 yds to 25 yds. As well as right and left hand only (Dave doesn’t believe in strong and weak hand shooting) There may be dominant and non-dominant but “weak” isn’t in the dictionary.

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We shot untimed 10 shot groups freestyle at 5 and 10 yds. One handed groups at 5 yards, freestyle groups again at 15 yds and 25 yds.  Believe me your ability or inability to group shots will be clearly visible after this drill.

After assessing everyone’s targets (the good, the bad, and the ugly) Dave discussed the principles vs the fundamentals of shooting.  Most instructors focus on the fundamentals of shooting (grip, stance, trigger control, sight alignment, breath control, etc…).  It’s the principles of shooting that is the focus of Mr. Harrington’s course. Holding, sighting, firing and especially time.  What it boils down with guns when it comes to fighting, self defense is your ability to make accurate hits on a target at the speed required to survive the fight. PERIOD.

I won’t go into every drill and spell out each drill here.  Over the years the format has evolved for Dave.  He has stored in his head so many drills that he can recall on demand as he sees fit for each class on the fly.  What I found interesting with this class is that he intentionally alternated between precision drills and fast action (for lack of a better term) drills.

Night shoot

After a very long and hot day on the range we recharged with dinner and awaited nightfall for the low/no light portion of the class.  During that time Dave discussed the various hand held light techniques (Harries, Rogers, etc…) and the appropriate use of each as well as the benefits and negatives of handgun mounted lights.

During the night shoot portion we each explored each technique as well as assessed the muzzle flash signatures of both carry and practice ammo and how that affects your vision. Which led into a discussion of visual purple or Rhodopsin which was new to many of us.

I’m not a huge fan of pistol mounted lights and have worked with handhelds for many years.  lights mounted on pistols are bulky for daily carry and for me, not practical.  I won’t debate the subject but I’ve seen too many people using their gun (both handgun and long gun) as a flashlight with little or no regard to pointing a loaded weapon willy nilly all over the place.

Day 2

Due to the range rules we started day 2 in the classroom discussing dry fire techniques. How you can use inert training rounds to do many of the drills safely in your home that you can do on the range.  The value of having a programmable shot time (PACT , and CED). Dave demonstrated several drills including reloads using par times on the timer.

Day 2 Live fire

We ran for 5 hours straight with only breaks for water and mag reloading.  Everything on day 2 was built of the foundations laid out on day 1.  Again with precision and accuracy at speed being the focus.  A lot of distance shooting at 25 yards out to 55 yards.  25 yard bullseyes for score.

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25yds with a couple of “El Snatcho” trigger crunches. Lost count and only fired 9.

The day also included a lot of shooting on the move. Again with the emphasis on getting good hits on target.  Lateral movement from both directions across an 8 target array. Moving on oblique angles, forward, and rearward all require good stabilization of the human shooting platform.  Drills included a reduced version of Ken Hackathorn’s Square Drill.  Nearly all the drills on day 2 were on the clock. Some with tough par times Like Dave’s infamous Seible Drill.

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Seible Drill

IDPA/USPSA Target (Scored for additional time added)

Par time is based on Master level shooter. Add par time accordingly.

Each string starts with 6rds in the gun with two 6rd reserve magazines

3 x 18 round strings

54 Rounds total

Procedure: Fire 6 rds, reload 6rds, reload 6rds

String 1 (15 sec par time)

25yds

String 2 (12 sec par time)

15yds

String 3 (9 sec par time)

15yds

Dave also ran through a good Bill Wilson drill.  A good assessment drill and good drill to incorporate into your practice session

Bill Wilson’s 5 x 5 Skill Test

Target: IDPA 10 yds

Scoring: IDPA Limited Vickers 25 shots total

Start position: Hands at sides, facing target, concealment not required

Procedure:

String 1: Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle

String 2: Draw and fire 5 shots dominant hand only

String 3: Loaded with 5 rounds only, Draw and fire 5 shots, reload from slide lock, fire 5 additional shots freestyle.

String 4: Draw and fire 4 shots to the body, 1 shot to the head.

Skill Ranking: (Bill Wilson’s opinion) Combined time with points down scored

GM: 15 Seconds or less

Master: 20 Seconds or less

Expert: 25 Sec or less

Sharpshooter: 32 Sec or less

Marksman: 41 Sec or less

Novice: 50 Sec or less

Not proficient enough to carry a handgun: Over 50 seconds

I scored 17 seconds and change with 2 points down to score Master.

Final drill for the day at my request.  As that it dovetails into sight picture and time.

Accelerate, Decelerate, Accelerate 

6 IDPA targets arranged 5 to 25 yards edge on edge with roughly 1 yd separating. So that at 5 yards start position they appear edge to edge except for the range.

12 shots Limited Vickers

Procedure: Fire one shot on each target near to far, then far to near.

The purposes is to shoot fast as possible while maintaining proper sight and recoil management.  Accelerate, decelerate, Accelerate.

In the end this was an excellent course.  Made challenging by round count (1,400 +/-), Summer heat (90+ 70+% humidity) and duration 18 plus hours of range time.

All skill levels will gain value and excellent practice drills to carry on further skill improvement after the course.  Challenging enough for the master class shooters. While this is a great course for competitive shooter this is about principles and skills for fighting.  While both are applicable to IDPA, USPSA, etc… Dave’s courses aren’t focused on improving your match skills.  Keep that in mind.

If you’re interested in training with “Super” Dave I’ll give you his contact info.

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