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Gun Talk
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Old 08-21-2015, 09:20 PM   #1
Reedo302
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AAR: Department 5-Day Patrol Rifle Certification Course

My agency finally revamped and expanded the patrol rifle program, and I was privileged to be part of the first class of the new program. The previous program was a shorter course with much more limited training. The current program was expanded to 5 days and the accessories allowed were expanded.
I was also pleased that my squad partner was also selected for the program. My squaddie is a former USMC DM who has a lot of combat time in Iraq, so we have a lot of common ground and background. We made sure we were partnered together in every 2-man drill. This could pay dividends out on the street, as we always ride together.

TD1 consisted of the indoor PD range with classroom time to start with. This was the remedial instruction of basic rifle function, disassembly/assembly and other similar concepts. We were all issued department manuals with explanations of all of this information, shooting techniques, carry and sling techniques, etc. The manual also included department policy on use and configuration of the rifles. We were also issued our rifles, which were brand new bone-stock Colt LE6940 models. The afternoon was spent on the range doing dry runs with magazine changes and some kneeling and seated positions. We ended the day with getting basic zeros on paper at 25yds with both irons and optics, for those with optics.
There were a total of 27 students for this course.

Most students running optics chose the Aimpoint PRO, and for lights they were all running the Streamlight TLR-1 or TLR-1HL. The range requested that all student send their optics over early so that the optics could be mounted and boresighted, and put on paper at 25yds. Me being me, I did NOT send in my optic because nobody touches my optics but me. I opted to pull a bunch of stuff out of my parts bin and spare components, as well as opting for a couple of new components/accessories that are both high quality and 2015 tax write-offs.
-Aimpoint CompM4S in LaRue mount (spare)
-Aimpoint 3x Magnifier in LaRue mount (spare)
-TangoDown grip (spare)
-LMT SOPMOD stock (spare)
-rubber rail ladders (spare)
-VTAC padded sling (new)
-BCM shorty VFG (new)
-SureFire P3X Fury EAG model (new)
-HSP/IWC Thorntail monut (new)


TD2- Range
We started by zeroing at 100yds. Because I had the 3x magnifier, I was able to get zeroed in 6 rounds with tighter groups. We had instructors behind us with spotting scopes, which helped immensely and cut the amount of time down dramatically.
The day started cloudy and cool, but by the end of lunch it was full on raining.
The emphasis for the day was around running the safety whenever the finger came off the trigger. We did positional shooting and shooting from barricades in various forms. We also worked on shooting while moving laterally. The targets for most of the week's drills were steel targets, so there was always feedback for hits. The use of steel prevented closer range target engagement, however.

TD3- Range
It rained all day and was absolute crap. Much like yesterday, the presence of rain actually caused some serious learning to occur in various ways. More shooting from barricades and positional shooting was done. We also worked extensively on shoulder transitions to the weak-side shoulder, and shooting a lot from that side. At least 1/3 of our shooting over the week was done from the weak/reaction side. We worked on shooting a moving target, juxtaposing tracking versus ambush methods of shooting. From there, we did a counter-ambush drill where we exited a vehicle and did bounding cover towards a steel target. One person had to use a handgun, and I was pleased that I was accurately ringing the steel at 50-25yds as I moved in on my rotation with my handgun. My partner was just as accurate with both rifle and handgun. We ended the day with long range shooting at steel at 200yds and 300yds. The 3x magnifier I used was a huge asset for this, but I also hit both targets without magnification to prove to myself that I could.

TD4- Range
Basically more of everything we did on TD2 and TD3. We also did the Qual, which is a 55rd qualification that varies from 5-50yds. We did this twice, and both times I managed to score 100%. Patience and relaxing paid off for this. The qual was meant to be a duty-type course with transitions to sidearm and mag changes for the rifle, etc. Many students did not move with a sense of urgency, and they did not take the time limits seriously. The first run was a practice run, and the second run was the official qualification. Those that did not take the qual seriously or move with purpose wound up going over on their times during mulitple stages of the official qual. This contributed to several failures on the qual. The day ended with an officer-down drill with a partner and an SUV that we used as a rescue vehicle.
At the end of the day, those that failed the qual had to reshoot. A couple still did not pass.

TD5- Range
At the beginning of the day, the last of the studends who failed quals shot and all finally qualified.
We then did some learning on shooting at and into a car. We started with shoothing into a car through the windshield, then through the door from the side. We skipped rounds off the hood and under the car at targets. It was excellent learning.
We did our 100yd BZO with our duty ammo, and then moved on to drills centered around shooting and moving. Running the safety was heavily emphasized. Work was also done on positional shooting from 50yds, and then we ended it with some CQB training using 3-Gun/USPSA barricades and barrels and paper targets. We did this with rifles and also incorporated transitions to pistol.


Lessons Learned or Reinforced:
-Shooting drills are fun, and dynamic movement is fun, but students were hampered by a lack of basic shooting fundamentals training. Students were not taught from the start about things like hammer pairs, controlled pairs, NSRs, box drills, multiple target engagement options, etc.
-Students were not given much instruction on how to properly adjust and use a sling. The Colt rifles had the stock carry strap, and the pre-course email suggested BlueForceGear VCAS slings. Half the students bought VCAS slings, and the other half used the stock sling. One had a Three Point sling by someone. They were not taught how to use the slings properly. Consequently, during the first couple days at the range, students were unslinging their rifles to shoot them. Students also didn't know how to manipulate their slings to transition to weak/support side shoulder with their rifles.
-Most students had no idea how or where to mount their optics and lights. As a result, students wound up having hand position problems with their lights. Students quickly learned to change the positioning as they shot.
-Several students wanted to run irons and not spend money on Aimpoints. The PRO, T1/H1, CompM4 and CompM3 were all authorized. The previously authorized Leupold Prismatic was also still authorized. Throughout the week several students picked up PROs and all stated they were glad they picked up optics. Every single Aimpoint worked flawlessly throughout the week, including in heavy rain. One guy even ponied up for a T1 and was very happy with it.
-Handgun WMLs work for rifle use, but they're not ideal. Pretty much every person was having light ADs with their WML. Of the 27 people there, 22 had lights. Of those, 20 were running TLR-1/1HL lights. I ran my SureFire P3X, and the other one ran an older SureFire Millenium weaponlight with clicky tailswitch. We didn't have any light ADs.
-People running iron sights were slower on target than those with irons, and when rushed they tended to miss targets because they didn't get a good sight picture. When they did get a good sight picture, they very accurate.
-This was a 100% volunteer class, meaning that everyone there was there because they applied to be in the program. This was not a captive audience, and nobody was voluntold. Consequently, everyone was a good student and paid attention and gave effort. It wasn't the typical LE training where you always get a couple guys that don't give a crap and cause problems for other people. It was made clear from the start that students who don't give effort will be booted. Our rifle program is selective and we only have enough rifles for about 12% of the department since we are a large agency. It was also made clear that if you passed the course and got a rifle, you were expected to carry it in your car on duty. If it was found out that you weren't carrying the rifle, they would have no hesitation taking the rifle away and booting you from the program. I was glad to hear this.
-I was pretty far ahead of most people there. The few that were on par or better than me were people from other agencies who had SWAT experience, and my partner who has extensive CQB and long range experience with USMC. While I have some extensive experience from my previous agency, as well as being an armorer and POST accredited rifle instructor, the one thing above all else that helped me was the outside training. Nobody else there had ever been to outside training on their own. The firearms instructors who were on SWAT were the only ones who knew the names EAG Tactical, Trident Concepts, Vickers Tactical, etc. For all of my LE career, taking outside firearms training on my own dime has paid dividends.
-Some students had a difficult time putting together concepts like "followthrough" and the need to perform reloads in their workspace with their heads up. On one moving target drill, instructors would move the target (on an electric track) when the student looked down during the reload and put the target behind a barricade. The student would then look up to no target. It was a good reminder, but a couple guys continued to make the same mistakes over and over. Much of what I saw I attributed to the students not thinking through their "problems". They were basically on overload and outrunning their headlights. Their thought processes were not running as fast or fluid as the drills required, so the students began to almost panic and not think through their procedures and manual of arms. Slowing down would have benefitted them.
-Many students had vapor lock when their rifles went dry and they had to transition to pistol. There were a lot of people who were slow on the reaction, but you could see that most were thinking through the problem, which shows an improvement. Many students began to improve from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence when they slowed down and thought through their problems. You could see lightbulbs turning on, and it was very positive and encouraging.
-When engaging targets while moving, using First Best Sight Picture/First Acceptable Sight Picture is ideal. Every time I used FBSP, I rang steel. Every time I dwelled for a "better" sight picture, I missed. When you start to progress, you have to learn to trust your own skill and abilities. When I was not trusting by FBSP, I was doubting myself and it bit me.
-Single point slings suck if you're using it in a patrol capacity for a 16" barrel carbine. It's a big swinging moose cock when you have to transition to sidearm or go hands-on with a suspect.
-Three Point slings may work great for rifle retention, but they suck for shoulder transitions and are very slow to adjust.
-When shooting in asymmetrical or unorthodox positions, red dot sights are superior to iron sights without question
-Students tend to stop or stutter step when shooting while moving. I suspect that this is heavily due to lack of understanding or adhering to FBSP shooting practices.
-Instructors all need to be on the same page. When they are not, students suffer. Case in point- one instructor was giving Make Ready commands with instructions to make the rifle ready first, then the pistol. This is contrary to most trainers and training. Other instructors were doing pistol first, and some did not care which you did first. I watched on TD3 as several students made their rifles ready first, and then completely forgot about their handguns; which is why we do handguns first.
-I appreciate instructors who advertise their training as "A WAY" and not "THE WAY". That being said, LE agencies to some degree do need to implement some kind of mandate with a lot of TTPs when dealing with new shooters. Many new shooters will do things they see on the internet or TV or what they were taught in 1996 as a recruit in boot camp if you give them enough leeway. Instructors at some point should put their feet down and say "you will do ___ this way..." While there is more than one way to skin a cat, there are also ways that are problematic or dangerous.
-Officers running dedicated mag pouches on their belts or chest rigs were fast with reloads and in total control. Officers running mags out of their pockets all were very slow and were constantly fumbling with mags.
-Number all of your mags. One student had a bad magazine that was constantly inducing double-feeds. It took him until TD4 to figure out which mag it was because he didn't know which mag was causing it, since all of his mags looked the same.
-Nylon mag pouches on buttstocks are unsat. They are downright crap for that matter. They catch on and obstruct the charging handle, they irritate the face, they absorb water, they flop around, and catch on your equipment/gear. At the start of the course, a half dozen guys had these pouches mounted. By the end, 5 of them had removed the pouches.
-LUBE your gun, lube it correctly, lube it liberally, and lube it with good lubricant. Several guns malfunctioned on TD2 and TD3 in the rain because their lube was getting washed off or they didn't have enough on to begin with. I think most people were running lube that they bought in a cleaning kit at a local sporting goods store. Total round count every day ranged from 75-200rds, with only one day getting close to 300rds. Total round count for the week was around 700rds for 5 days, so it wasn't a very taxing course for the rifles aside from the rain.
-I ran FIREclean for the first time, and I was satisfied with the performance. It didn't wash off, the gun always ran, and cleaning was quick. That being said, the problem areas like the bolt tail were still problem areas and the claims that FIREclean is made from magic and unicorn semen is a bit excessive. Despite how much lube I used, I still had caked-on carbon on the bolt tail. Every lube I've used has had this, so this isn't anything shocking to me. I did not reapply FIREclean at lunch on the rain days, and it was never a problem, so I was happy with it. I will run FIREclean at a Vickers course next month to get some more perspective.
-Despite everything on the market, the best thing to remove carbon from a bolt tail is still lube or solvent and some 3M Scotchbrite.
-The Colt 6940 is a nice rifle, but it's somewhat unnecessary now. If they had made it with a midlength upper with keymod or MLOK instead of full picatinny rails, it would be a far better rifle.
-Short rails/handguard make it hard to brace the rifle on a barricade, or rest a rifle on a sandbag or barricade for precision shots. It's even harder when you have a VFG on the rail.
-Lights and accessories extending past the rail make it harder to shoot through barricade holes on a VTAC plywood barricade. For shooting against a barricade or from a rollover/urban/SBU prone position, it's not a problem. In the end, it's not an issue with any real-world shooting position I would likely encounter.
-Hits count more than rounds down range. It's been said before, but you can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight. When you use a shot timer, you can reinforce this principle in training and understand what happens when you miss your target. Slowing down to make accurate first-round hits often winds up being faster than doing the exact opposite.
-Loctite your screws and witness mark them with a paint pen.


The one thing I wished we would have done was a low light module where we got to use our rifles at both close range and distance. I wanted to get some experience running my 1000lumen P3X, but that didn't happen. The gun club we were shooting outdoords at did not allow night shooting. We could have at least done night shooting at our indoor 25yd range, but that didn't happen.

Other than that, it was a good week to do some shooting and do some learning. 5 days on the range beats five days in the squad car.
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Last edited by Reedo302; 08-21-2015 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 08-22-2015, 01:13 PM   #2
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Awesome writeup! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-22-2015, 05:58 PM   #3
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Wowza, that's a lot to take in. It's motivation for me to get back to training though
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Old 08-22-2015, 09:01 PM   #4
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Sounds like a nice vacation!
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Old 08-28-2015, 01:32 PM   #5
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Forgot to ask.

The 6940 is a fine rifle, the first I bought actually. But your agency authotizes SBRs, don't they? Why would they issue this select group of officers 16inch guns? Wouldn't 12.5s or less be more usable in the capacity that these officers will find themselves in?
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Old 08-28-2015, 11:19 PM   #6
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SBRs only authorized for SWAT.
The decision to go with commercial 16" was 75% political and 25% ballistic.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reedo302 View Post
SBRs only authorized for SWAT.
The decision to go with commercial 16" was 75% political and 25% ballistic.
Would you say that in the even you had to engage a target with your rifle while on patrol it would likely be from 50yds or more?
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:58 PM   #8
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It's hard to say. In any other precinct, no. I'm in the downtown, and we had an active shooter several years ago where the perimeter was very wide around the building before we went it. That active shooter was what caused the start of a paradigm shift in my agency. At the time, the rifle program was a good ol' boy club that was only awarded to people that were in positive favor with the decision makers. It was one of those things where it was being limited for no reason. We had to call in back up support from State Patrol and other agencies who had rifles, because everyone on scene from my agency had a pistol or shotgun. Each shotgun only has 4 slugs. There were parts of the perimeter that were more than 50yds.

Our downtown area is very open, so having range is important. The problem is that the Federal TRU T223E 55gr BTHP ammo we use only works out to 100yds with the 16" barrels, and after that it tends to act like FMJ due to velocity loss. The 11.5" uppers SWAT use cut that down to less than 50yds, so they switched to the Federal Tactical Bonded LE223T3 62gr TBBC, which works in those rifles well beyond 100yds. We in patrol are going to be switching to the LE223T3 in the future, but we have to use up the TRU stuff first. If we had the bonded JSP, we'd have been able to use shorter barrels.

The major problem is our mayor and city council, who are afraid of us being "militarized".
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