Tuesday, August 14, 2012

GPI Custom Gunworks modified MEGA MA-TEN

Hello all:

First off, I apologize for not keeping daily entries into this blog. I started this off, knowing that I would be slow to post information due to the nature of this blog. I don't want this to be useless drivel, or a day to day commentary of my life as a Trainer. No, I want this to be an honest assessment of gear that I am using, operationally and in training.

I have a Facebook page, that will cover more day to day stuff... you can find it here:

Ranger Proof's Facebook Page

Please feel free to "Like" it, and you can have a more up close and personal connection to the things that we are doing.

Ok, that's out of the way... let's talk about my project.

For years, I have been trying to wrap my head around a SWS (Sniper Weapons System) that can be more beneficial to the Law Enforcement Sniper. Most LE Snipers are equipped with a 20-24" barreled bolt operated rifle, and a variable powered optic with HIGH magnification. This is fantastic, for it delivers very repeatable accuracy, and is capable of making precision shots, at amazing distances. However, when I look at the natial average for "call outs"... the data does not lie.

So, why do we "need" a rifle that is capable for making surgical hits out to "1000 yards and beyond"? Well, we really don't. So, I started re-training my mindset, and re-thinking the entire load out issue. I wanted a short, deployable SWS, that was suppressed... that would deliver supurb accuracy at reasonable Law Enforcement distances... so, I was also drawn to the AR platform, or "Gas Gun" as it is referred to by some. I knew I wanted to stay with the venerable .308 WIN / 7.62x51 round, because it is HIGHLY effective in the LE SWS role, and there is a TON of data on the rounds already in existence. Plus, I have over 25 years of experience on an AR platform, in one aspect or another.

I had a MEGA MA-TEN upper and lower, that I wanted to build out as a test mule for some ideas that I had kicking around in my head.

I had been working with Lee at GPI Custom Gunworks in Jacksonville, FL for a while... doing some heavy duty testing on his SAR-15 platform... (I will do a feature on this rifle as well). I approached Lee with my idea of a LE SWS and he was very interested in it. So, the machine work began. The first thing we did, is modify the upper for a left side charging handle. This is important to me, as a right handed shooter... for the following reasons.

1. I can work the bolt with my reaction side hand, without ever coming up off of my glass.
2. My trigger / firing hand (right hand) never leaves my index mark... I can stay on the trigger.
3. I can rack out the current round (in a magazine change) which allows me to change rounds, all without coming up off of glass.
    4. I can cycle the action when using sub-sonic ammo, without coming up off of glass.

The rifle still has a traditional charging handle, but the left side charger allows me to manipulate the bolt carrier, with my reaction side hand. A very nice feature when proned out behind the rifle. The barrel that I used out of the gate, was a previous barrel from another rifle. This is a JP Enterprises 1:10 twist Cryogenic Super Match. The barrel is 18" long and has a light contour. I originally put the rifle together with a standard, low profile gas block and a standard AR-10 buffer... but found out quickly that the rifle was WAY overgassed. So, I ordered a JP Enterprises JPGS-S adjustable gas block. While I was at it, I ordered a heavy rifle buffer from Clint at www.heavybuffers.com along with the spring that he recommended. Once I got everything situated, I was able to get the gas system in check, and the rifle ran extremely well, and the recoil pulse is VERY soft.

Another issue that I addressed, is that the VAST majority of the AR platform rifles in this caliber are not designed from the ground up as a true "precision" rig. Most are adapted from battle style rifles... so I had some design ideas. First, I wanted to modify the mag well. I will not address this in this forum just yet... this will be done during a video review. I also wanted the overall platform to be as short / compact as possible, yet still allow the shooter to do his / her mission. Having ONE weapon platform, to exit his / her patrol car and move to the fixed firing site... yet still be able to perform multiple roles. Using the .308 / 7.62x51 as an "entry" weapon, is a wee bit overkill, but... let's just say the Sniper is deploying at a school, or a mall, or (insert location here) and has to engage an Active Shooter threat. He or She may have to move some distance with this rifle, and engage at a moments notice. Having an auto loading system, in a format that "most" Law Enforcement Officers are comfortable with (the AR platform) is a force multiplier over the traditional bolt operated rifle.

My endstate is this: One rifle, that will serve multiple roles, providing rock solid, Swiss Watch reliability... with SUB-MOA accuracy out to 300 yards, with Minute of Man accuracy out to 600 yards and beyond. Why at such extreme distances for Law Enforcement? Well, data does not lie... and it's a fact that extreme distance does not normally come into play in a Law Enforcement setting. Due to a plethora of legal restraints, it is ALWAYS beneficial for the LE Sniper to "close" the distance and move in. However, Murphy and I are very close. There may be a time where a LE Sniper is called to make an open air engagement on a non barricaded subject, non hostage taker, single threat... out past the "normal" limits. Posititve Identification, Backstop, and all other criteria withstanding... it is absolutely sound logic to think that the LE Sniper "can" make a shot out to 300, 400 and 500 yards or beyond. So, the rifle has to be accurate. I've never trained with a LE Sniper that did NOT have a rifle capable of this. Even the old, hand me down Remingtons and Savages are fully capable, given that the shooter / glass is capable... more of my thoughts on "glass" at a later date.

I also want the SWS to be suppressed. Not for the cool factor, but for hearing management. I have suffered traumatic hearing loss on deployments, and I tell you, I value what little hearing I have left. Shooting from confined spaces, hides, as well as the ability to work well in the counter sniper role, makes a suppressor a MUST have on a precision rifle. I am fortunate enough to be able to work with Mr. Byron Peterson of Delta P Design on this project. He is a wealth of knowledge for me on suppressor technology.The suppressor that I am using on this rifle is the Brevis 7.62 Compact suppressor and it is working supurbly. Why Delta P? Well... frankly... I really like Byron, and I really love his suppressors. He thinks outside of the box, he listens to me, and my input as a "shooter" or a "user"... In fact, Byron tells me "I'm the Race Car Mechanic, you are the Driver". This company is completly devoted to providing the most excellent product for the men and women who have to depend on his gear with their lives. As you can see, his suppressors are HIGHLY accurate.

Click here for video overview

This rifle shoots amazingly well. I have run several loads through it, and it does seem to like the NATO M118LR round... this is a 175 grain Sierra Match King, loaded in Lake City 7.62x51 brass, at a COAL of 2.815. The velocity I get out of this configuration averages out to be 2640 FPS (at seven yards) with my Chrony. Here is a five round group that I shot off the bipods (from a table... not prone) at 100 yards with M118LR.

The significance of this group, is that it was fired BEFORE I tuned the gas block, and got the gas system where it needed to be. I had a hung case in the chamber, between rounds three and four, and had to open the rifle, and remove the bolt carrier. I fired rounds four and five on top of the other three, resulting in a pretty decent group.

Once I got the gas dialed in... the rifle ran like a top.

Here is another six round group, with a called flyer... the flyer was round number four, with rounds five and six going back where they needed to be.

Notice that the coin is a nickle... this was also on a 3" shoot n see... which is not the most viable way to shoot "groups". This was also shot at 100 yards, prone, from bipods... but, the humidity was WAY up there, and mirage was rediculous. I know... I know... excuses, excuses.

Here is a short video that I shot, showing the rifle with 165 Grain Federal TRU... TRU stands for Tactical Rifle Urban. I have not shot this round before, in .308 but it flew pretty well for me. I have a few more boxes and will be doing some more testing with it.

As you can tell, it was VERY hot this day. I was also playing around with the Alamo Four Star DCLW Tripod. This works extremely well from a moving vehicle, but I need more time on it to get it dialed in from the prone position. This DLOC head on the tripod, does not allow for "cant" correction. In the video, you can see that the rifle groups well with the TRU, even with my called flyer. The cardiac impulse I was seeing, or feeling, was pronounced from the tripod. Much more so, than I notice from a bipod position.

Here is a group I shot (top five round group) and then let my son shoot. He had NEVER fired this weapon before, and I told him to aim at my group as a reference. He fired the bottom five, after I adjusted a wee bit of elevation out of the optic.

My son behind the rifle... he wore eye pro when he actually fired. I was runing dry fire drills with him here.

All in all, I am very pleased with the way this rifle package is coming along. This is just the first of many installments on this SWS... so, stay tuned.

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