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Old 05-21-2013, 12:57 AM   #1
Reedo302
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INFO: SWAT Rifles Procurement Process

I was asked this on another thread, so I figured that I'd outline the procurement process that I went through last year to select new carbines and sniper rifles for a suburban multi-agency SWAT team. Below are what were optioned, what were available, and what were selected and why. I am including my opinions that were offered during the selection process, and why.

Carbine
Current rifles were M16A1 carbines, 1033/DRMO surplus rifles that we got for free from the gov't something like 15+ years ago. They were long past due for replacement. Initial conditions were set as follows, set by priority:
1. 5.56
2. Select Fire
3. Piston operated
4. Bullpup

-Options-
HK416 10.39" : This was my primary suggestion, as it kept the familiarity of the M4/AR15 platform, so the manual of arms remained the same. Add to that HK reliability, and you have a good weapon. Only downside was HK's notoriously difficult customer service, though it is rarely needed.

LWRC M6A2 10.5"/12.7": After waiting for a very long time, I was finally able to make contact with LWRC and get quotes from them for price. The cost of the LWRC was not much less than the HK unit cost, and at the time, LWRC was still an unknown variable. LWRC continues to improve, but they have a lot in their past that made me wary of them. LWRC was not recommended because we still did not have solid confirmation on their reliability and QC issues being resolved.

FN SCAR Mk16 CQC: This was the #2 suggestion. While it is an entirely new system, the rifle itself still maintains AR15 manual of arms for just about everything but charging the bolt. The major issue with the Mk16 was the reciprocating charging handle. We optioned the FNAC, but that was not available at the time.

HK G36K: I did not recommend this rifle. This was basically put here because it was a piston rifle. HK is known to make great rifles, but the G36 is known to have heat buildup issues with the stock. Additionally, the manual of arms of the G36 was meant to be similar to the G3/HK91 rifle, so going over from an AR was not very intuitive.

HK G36C: I did not recommend this rifle either, though I did recommend this over the G36K due to the smaller size. This was an option for a backpack gun for the snipers, though I recommended the Mk16 for that role over this.

FN F2000T: In the realm of the bullpups, this was the leader of the pack, but I'll explain in a moment... After getting hands on the system, I was not all that impressed. The rifle was very bulky, which was a major disadvantage. Putting that aside, it was a very good rifle that is very reliable. FN is a great company to work with for the LE world, so we had the support available if needed. The only major issue was that you can only use USGI mags, and no PMAGs due to the design.

IWI Tavor CTAR-21 (compact): This really was the ideal rifle system, but we could not get them in time for the selection, which is why the F2000T won this category. If the CTAR-21, or even standard TAR-21 had been available last year, it likely would have been a contender. The major issue was obviously that, just like with other bullpups, you lose the AR15 manual of arms.

Steyr AUGA3: Steyr rifles have a lot faults, as I found out. Aside from extremely poor support, the other issue was with a couple recurrent issues that were constantly popping up in the field with the Aussies. Talking to a couple Australian military personnel, i learned that they have had substantial issues with their AUGs over the years that Steyr has not rectified. It relates to the gas system and a couple parts that break often.

Selection:

My preference was to keep the lowers and replace the uppers with BCM, Noveske or Daniel Defense 10.5" or 11.5" railed uppers. One of the other agencies in our SWAT team consortium (each agency owns its own weapons) bought actual Daniel Defense select fire Mk18s. They got the exact same ones being sent to Crane/NSWC. We had the hookup for that, but instead the powers that be wanted piston operation.
As such, the HK416 was chosen as the primary replacement rifle due to the fact that we already had all HK subguns in the form of either UMP40s or MP5-40s. Additionally, two G36Cs were purchased as backpack guns for the snipers in case they needed them for stalking, or if they had to insert into a stack for CQB. My argument was to get HK416s, as the HK416 broken down was shorter/more compact than the G36C with the stock folded. Not only that, but we maintained AR15 manual of arms, as well as the magazines. The G36C requires proprietary magazines. They didn't listen and got the G36Cs. The goal was to basically do an all-HK armory, and I think selecting the G36C was also about 50% "cool factor" and 50% cost savings, as the G36C was about $400 cheaper than the HK416.



OPTICS

The next task was selecting optics for the carbines. The optic was to be a red dot/reflex type sight to replace the aging Trijicon 1x24 Reflex sights that were mounted on a cantilever carry handle mount.

Trijicon Reflex 1x42 RX34: I have been preaching that the dual-illuminated sights are antiquated technology, but nobody listened. This is a vast upgrade from the 1x24 RX01 and similar models, so at the very least you have greater illumination potential with a much better field of view (FOV). Another issue I had was that Trijicon did not have a base with solid Return to Zero (RTZ). Their TA51 thumbscrew mount pretty much sucks. It's better to upgrade to an aftermarket lever mount.

Trijicon SRS: Because there was a lot of Trijicon love in my agency, this was my recommendation from the Trijicon realm. The ability to have solar and AA battery capability was a huge asset. Ultimately, it was cost prohibitive, even at LE prices.

Aimpoint PRO: This optic was selected (at my recommendation) for the patrol Colt M4LE LE6921 rifles. It seemed logical to get them for SWAT rifles as well, as they are very rugged and reliable. The cost was also the lowest available. This was actually my #1 recommendation for optic.

Aimpoint T1 Micro: This was my #2 recommendation, and it would have been a good option to go on top of the heavier HK416. Ultimately, it was not selected because they didn't like how small it was. The FOV was believed to be an issue.

EOTech EXPS 3.0: I threw this in because a neighboring agency in a different county uses EOTechs. They have a lot of problems with them, so while I included this optic in the selection, it was not recommended. Because of the known problems I'm aware of, and the issues our neighboring agency has voiced, the EOTechs were rejected quickly.

Selection
Final selection was made by the team commander, and he selected the Trijicon Reflex 1x42 RX30A-51 with the 6.5moa dot and TA51 thumbscrew mount. Ultimately, these set us back a pretty penny actually came out to be more expensive than any other optic, except the SRS. The decision was made because they believe that batteries are evil and all optics that run on batteries break at the exact wrong time. This is obviously mitigated by using a quality optic, and by also equipping BUIS, but this was still not enough to convince them. Oddly, shortly after we got the first shipment, one went down right away with a broken emitter. Funny how that happens to an optic that they believed was unbreakable...





SNIPER RIFLES
The current issue rifles were a smattering of random Remingtons. There was one 700P LTR, one M700 XCR Tactical, another SPS Tactical, and the final one was an HS Precision custom M700. The XCR and SPS were both shot out, which was actually due to improper cleaning and for that matter outright over-cleaning.
Selection parameters were as follows:
1. .308win
2. Detachable Box Magazine (DBM) capable
3. 20" barrel preferred
4. future NVD compatibility
5. Minimum 1moa, 0.5moa preferred

As such, I selected the following:

Remington 700P USR: This was the "Remington" option in case they wanted to stick with Remington. The major advantage to this rifle was that we had Remington armorers with tools and experience. The adjustable stock was decent, and it had the detachable box magazines. In doing some research, it was learned that Remington was using the HS magazine system, and getting spare or replacement magazines was next to impossible. Additionally, the HS magazine system is known to be among the more unreliable DBMs on the market. The rifle was the least expensive.

Remington 40X Tactical: This was added as a higher grade Remington option, but it was rejected quickly due to the long barrel, lack of DBM, and the overall cost being relatively high.

Accuracy International AE MkIII: This was the recommended replacement, with my recommendation being for the 2.0 folding chassis with the 20" threaded barrel. This is a rifle with a ton of options that is very high quality, ridiculously durable and reliable, and accuracy that is only able to be beaten by another AI.

Desert Tactical Arms Stealth Recon Scout (DTA SRS): This is another ridiculously accurate rifle, and the added bonus is that it's a truly modular platform. The purpose for this recommendation was primarily with the barrel change feature, in case they ever wanted a heavier caliber for vehicle operations. Additionally, more than 50% of the two counties our SWAT team serves is rural farm land, so having long range wind-resistant optioning is an asset. Another benefit was the bullpup design, which was much smaller. Price was only slightly more than the AI.

FN SPR A5M DBM: This was a major competitor, and was one of the cheaper (price-wise) options we had available. The rifle was very accurate, but FN would not guarantee better than 1moa because the rifle was not bedded to the stock.

FN SPR A3G: This is a rifle designed for FBI SWAT, and it was a very competitive option. Ultimately, the A5M was a better option with the available 20" threaded barrel and larger capacity DBM.

Sako TRG-22: This was meant to be the direct competitor to the AI AE. The cost was a bit less than the AI, but it was still very accurate with a full purpose-built sniper rifle design. Like the AI, it's built like a tank and is heavier than a boat anchor. Accuracy was about on par, but Sako does not have the reliability reputation that AI boasts. This wound up being a finalist.

Drake Associates/PGM Stalker Gen2: This is a $5500 rifle (LE price). Basically, while it was a beautiful rifle in every way, it was rejected almost immediately due to the price being $2000 more than the AI, Sako or DTA.

LaRue OBR: This was my primary suggestion for the autos, and was my personal preferred option. However, they did not want a SASS type rifle, and preferred bolt action.

KAC SR-25 ER: This suffered the same fate as the OBR. Ultimately, they realized that they could get an AI for a similar price. The KAC was not as highly regarded at the time, though it is certainly accurate.

Selection
The AI AE MkIII was selected ultimately because of the reputation of the company. Minneapolis PD SWAT has AI, and they're ridiculously accurate and reliable. Our initial purchase was one rifle in the form of the 1.5 chassis, with the solid stock and 20" non-threaded barrel. After getting hands-on, the other three snipers decided that they wanted the originally recommended 2.0 system with folding stock and threaded 20" barrel. The remaining three rifles were in the 2.0 configuration. Funny enough, the final submission came down to the AI AE vs the Drake Stalker Gen2. The beancounters up high looked at a $3xxx rifle vs a $5500, so you can imagine which one they authorized. This was done intentionally to force them to authorize the AI. The other options listed were never presented for approval. Basically, the process was rigged.



SNIPER OPTICS
The selection was based around the Leupold Mk4 LR/T 4.5-14x50 M1. This was the scope they planned to keep, as it was equipped on two of the four rifles. The other two were Mark4 LR/T 3.5-10x40 M1 scopes. I presented one lone option:

Nightforce NXS 3.5-15x50 MLR: My initial recommendation was to go over to a mil/mil system, but they wanted to remain moa/mil with the MLR reticle, but keep the 1/4moa turrets. This scope has a higher top end and lower bottom end than the magnification of the Leupold, which is due to the 3x erector of the Mark4 and 5x erector of the NXS. Additionally, the NF has superior performance in low light, and it's far more rugged and durable than Leupold.

Selection
I was able to arrange a T&E model from NightForce for a month, and after that month, it was like night and day between the NXS and the Leupold. The NXS was far superior, and everyone who used it was of this opinion. Additionally, LE price for the NXS was very close to that of the Leupold, particularly since Leupold does not have local LE pricing (FED and MIL LE only). They opted to stick with the MOA/MLR(mil) setup.


As of now, I'm still working to convince them to phase out the remaining MP5-40s and NOT swap them for UMP40s, but instead replace them with HK416s. The rifle carbine platform is far superior to the subgun, but this is a longer term goal.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:59 AM   #2
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Really cool writeup! I love these sorts of things that give insight into the LE world.

Ugh though...an AI rifle in the $3xxx range?! Why oh why do they cost so much for the rest of us?! I would already have one at that price
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:38 AM   #3
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Great write-up!
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:04 AM   #4
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Any reason you didn't want to consider the Eotech 553? I'm just asking because to me, if the optic is good enough to be the preferred choice of US Special forces in general for the M4, I'd think it was good enough for anything I would put it through (or just about anyone else for that matter).
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Wraisil View Post
Any reason you didn't want to consider the Eotech 553? I'm just asking because to me, if the optic is good enough to be the preferred choice of US Special forces in general for the M4, I'd think it was good enough for anything I would put it through (or just about anyone else for that matter).
Older design...the xps/exps are newer and have some improvements. Don't remember all the specifics...I'm an aimpoint guy
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Old 05-22-2013, 02:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wraisil View Post
Any reason you didn't want to consider the Eotech 553? I'm just asking because to me, if the optic is good enough to be the preferred choice of US Special forces in general for the M4, I'd think it was good enough for anything I would put it through (or just about anyone else for that matter).
SF, specifically referring to US Army SF, have pretty much everything at their disposal. The US Army has contracts for the M68 CCO (Aimpoint CompM4) and several Trijicon ACOGs, but SF personnel generally select what they want. The TF-121 SF guys I was stationed next to in Baghdad in 2003/4 had a mix of Aimpoint M68s (CompM3 at the time) and ACOGs. I've seen SF personnel with EOTechs, Elcan Spectres, and whatnot. It comes down to whatever they want to use, or what their own groups have in inventory. It's my understanding that many of the EOTech contracts bought by various units are not all that well received by the line troops who know what they are doing. Talking to some spec ops personnel on another site, EOTechs are steadily decreasing on the battlefield and being replaced by things like the Aimpoint T1.

A lot of people assume that the EOTech is better than it is because of the massive NAVSPEC contracts that used to exist, but no longer do. NSWC/Crane has since not reinstated their contract with L3 from what I have heard. The decision to go with EOTech was made by people who didn't have a lot of reason to be making the decisions that they did.

The reason why we didn't select EOTech was multi-faceted. The primary reason was because of a neighboring agency having them on their SWAT and patrol rifles. I believe it is either the 552 or 512 model using AA batteries. They have had a lot of issues with their optics, primarily centering around battery life. They have had mounting issues with the optics becoming loose as well. They don't see a ton of hard use, so they haven't had too much in the way of reliability. Since we got the Aimpoint PROs for our patrol rifles, I've been told by several of their guys that they wish they had our optics and they've told us we made the better decision (hence why I made the recommendation). Battery life was a major issue, and the average EOTech running on AA batteries is lasting around 170-180hrs before dying (as tested by a major Army airborne unit). The CR123A models are lasting about twice that. However, that is continuous battery life where the optic is left on until auto-shut off, then turned back on. The average squad rifle or SWAT rifle is used for less than 30 minutes, so the constant on/off of the optic drains the battery down a lot faster. Compare that to our Aimpoint PROs which are left on in the squad cars, and so far after about 14 months, most are still on the original battery. The ones that have been replaced are because the officers using them crank them up to max and leave them that way, draining the batteries. This has led to me sending several nasty-grams via email about proper storage settings on the optics, but some people are just smacktards when it comes to gun stuff.

Also, in a period of 14 months from 2011 to 2012, I saw 4 separate EOTechs go down in firearms training. Two were catastrophic malfs where the optics went high order. The third was detritus getting lodged in the windage and elevation threads causing the zero to shift, which is a known issue with EOTechs because of the un-capped adjustment screws. The fourth EOTech went down by falling off the rifle due to a flaw in the design of the EOTech. EOTechs that screw onto the rails will loosen up due to vibration, and they are known to fall off if you don't use blue Loctite. #3 and #4 were quickly rectified, but it's a recurrent problem with the design. That killed the EOs for me.

I have no doubt that the EOTech is a decent range optic, but for service/duty use, I find too many issues with it to support its use. It helped my position that our neighboring agency wasn't a fan of theirs and told us so. Now, I am not happy about the Trijicon RX30 selection either, but the reasoning for selecting them was as a direct response to our neighboring agency making numerous complaints about the battery life of their EOTechs. Instead of getting an optic with better battery life, our commander determined in his inexperienced mind that all battery-powered optics were bad, so going with a dual-illumination optic was more reliable. This will be fine, up until about 8 years from now when the tritium has to be replaced for ~$300/unit, but it is what it is.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:21 PM   #7
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Great writeup again ^. Can you add a quick paragraph regarding proper storage settings on optics to either this thread or the optics thread??
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:53 PM   #8
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It's whatever Aimpoint says it is. With the NV capable models, being the CompM3/PRO, T1 and CompM4/M4s, it's usually level 7 that gives the advertised battery life. You will never get the advertised battery life since you will need to adjust the reticle intensity to accommodate brighter ambient lighting conditions, and this will drain the battery faster. Still, the battery life is excellent.
Aimpoints are the only models that are designed to be left on. Everything else is designed to be run turned off.
I don't know what Trijicon lists yet for the SRS, though.
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Last edited by Reedo302; 05-23-2013 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:28 AM   #9
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Just looked it up for the T-1. Level 8 = 50,000+ hours. Holy hell definitely going to leave mine on now.
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Old 05-23-2013, 11:57 PM   #10
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The big benefit being that the T1 runs off the CR2032 watch battery, which is a huge plus for finding them.
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:36 AM   #11
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INFO: SWAT Rifles Procurement Process

Quote:
Originally Posted by david05111 View Post
Just looked it up for the T-1. Level 8 = 50,000+ hours. Holy hell definitely going to leave mine on now.
Even in the safe you'll leave it on? Shit 50k hours why not lol


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Old 05-24-2013, 02:15 AM   #12
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According to Aimpoint, turning it off and back on drains the battery faster than just leaving it on. Aimpoint recommends leaving it on, which is why our SOP is to turn the adjustment knob to the 6:00 or 7:00 position for storage to make it "squad ready".

If we continue to have problems, I'm going to adjust every optic to the proper storage level and then use a paint pen to witness mark the knob and housing. SOP will then be "line up the two lines before the rifle goes back into the rack". Hoping I don't have to take this remedial step, but thinking I likely will have to.
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Last edited by Reedo302; 05-24-2013 at 02:16 AM.
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