Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Range report on the Sabre Defense 6.5mm Grendel rifle

This is what I posted to fellow Gunsite alumni about the rifle my friend just bought.
(photo copyright Sabre Defense)
Since this was written, Sabre Defense overnighted to us the remaining parts and box for the scope, along with a free digital camo boonie hat. Based on the quality of their product, the speed with which they fixed things and their willingness to fix their errors, I'll do business with them again. Next up, an M5 upper in 6.5mm Grendel for my AR?

Quoted text below -

A friend of mine decided last year that he wanted to get some kind of rifle for long-range shooting that would allow him to engage multiple targets fairly quickly and when he saw the designated marksman's rifles that the Army and Marines were building in .308 he liked them, but decided that he'd rather have it in 6.5mm Grendel for the reduction in recoil and the ballistic advantages.
I took him to see the Precision Marksman's Rifle (PMR) at the Sabre Defense booth at the NRA show this spring and he decided to buy one of those.
Late this summer he ordered one, and it arrived FINALLY last week. Yesterday we took it out to the range to get a rough zero on it and to see how it functioned.
It's on this web page, fifth item down.
The Leupold scope is very nice - crisp, clear, easy to adjust and focus. It was easy to pick out gray rocks from brown leaves on an overcast day with these optics. It's an M4 6.5-20X with the mil-dot reticle. We haven't checked out the illumination of the reticle yet because Sabre Defense didn't include the battery with the scope when they shipped. They also didn't send the box for the scope or the manual or the front Butler Creek lens cover - more on that later.
The rifle comes in a padded bag with an Otis field cleaning kit, a pad to lie on and a single shoot'n'see-type target to use with it, as well as two C-Products 25-round steel magazines of excellent quality.
The rifle is very well made. Everything felt crisp and secure. The fit between the upper and lower receivers is tight. The Magpul buttstock is well made and nothing on the gun in the way of parts or assembly quality was lacking. I disassembled the bolt, scrubbed the dried carbon off of it, lubed it and we started shooting.
We were using the Wolf Gold line of ammunition, with the 120gr open tip ball bullet loaded. The ammo is clean and the brass bright, with the annealing lines apparent on the brass. The ammunition would be a match for any US commercial production that I've seen lately and I understand that it's made by Prvi Partizan.
We fired three rounds at 25 yards and found that it was pretty close to zero already - three inches low and an inch left. After shooting and adjusting, we ended up using about 15 clicks right windage and four clicks up to bring it in roughly where I thought it should be. Checking it at 50 yards seemed to confirm that. The match trigger in the gun is EXCELLENT, the best that I've ever used in any AR. There was a failure to feed in the first magazine and I don't know why, but it didn't happen again.
Since we were short on time and the weather was chilly, we then shot it for fun at a very large rock at 150 yards. We weren't just hitting it, we were putting all the rounds into a fairly small area on the rock. So I started shooting at 8-12 inch rocks, then at 3-6 inch rocks and we were hitting them all. Basically, the rifle was dead to point of aim at 150 yards with what little adjusting we had done to the scope. Hitting small rocks was so easy it was like shooting beer cans at 25 yards with a .22 than shooting targets 1/3 that size with a full power rifle at 150 yards. Once we get it on sandbags on a good day we'll tune the zero to the cartridge's ballistics.
The muzzle brake is what SD calls a 'gill' brake because of its appearance, I suppose. It may have contributed slightly to the muzzle blast, but what it did to lessen recoil and keep the gun down was worth it. It was easy to watch the strike of the bullet through the scope and stay in the scope for succeeding rounds. Shooter fatigue with this rifle should be more or less inconsequential.
So for a very brief (60 rounds) range session it was very satisfying. The rifle and scope performed superbly. I couldn't believe how easy it was to shoot this rifle. I could shoot one rock, see it hit, pivot on the bipod to another, hit it and keep doing it until I decided to quit. I've shot .223s that had more apparent recoil than this gun. The trigger was another key contributor to this ease of shooting.
The only downside has been Sabre Defense's customer service. My brother ordered the gun, then checked on the order and they'd lost it. He placed the order again, then called some time later to find out where it was. He was promised a delivery date. That date passed and he called again, and got another date, which also passed. We waited nine weeks for this gun, and one of his conversations with a woman there was less than satisfactory, which led him to ask to speak to someone else to whom he very frankly described his dissatisfaction.
When I saw how they'd shipped this rifle, missing the scope accessories, I called them and spoke with a young man named Aloysius who explained that the delay had been caused by delays in receiving the scopes from Leupold. I told him that I was personally embarrassed because I had recommended this gun and his company to my friend, and had been let down by their performance and by their broken promises.
It appeared to me that when they became anxious to ship this rifle they just put the first scope that they had on hand onto it, then sent it out without the box, battery, etc. since they weren't lying around nearby. They're supposed to call me back today to tell me when they're going to send the box and the other accessories that SHOULD have been with it out to us.
Final impressions - the customer service was lacking. Delivery was delayed and I'm not sure that I accept their reasons for that. But the final product is superb! The rifle is easy to shoot and I'm looking forward to when we can run some of the Alexander Arms 123gr Lapua Scenar ammunition through it at longer ranges so we can see how it performs in its proper role. This was also my first exposure to the 6.5mm Grendel round and I really like it! This round is everything that I'd been led by my reading on it to believe. Even this basic Wolf ammunition is capable of excellent practical accuracy. The Leupold scope is excellent and I look forward to trying it with the illuminated reticle.
If SD can do better on delivery there would be nothing to complain about with this system. For long range shooting it would appear to be the thing. Respectfully submitted this 24th day of November in the year of our Lord 2008, I remain, yr obdnt srvnt - Charles

"A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level."
- Unknown

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Data points, winter

I told myself that I was going to the range today. Then I got outside and saw what a nasty day it was and changed my mind.

I'd had some of that lovely breakfast casserole that we learned about from Brigid at the Home On the Range blog, so I was content on that count. Thinking about things Celtic last night had reminded me of 'Rob Roy' with Liam Neeson, so I had already downloaded that movie from iTunes. There - I had plenty of reasons to stay socked into the house and slurp coffee and write stuff. God knows that I have plenty of housecleaning to do, too, as well as things to follow up on for KC3 before our meeting this coming weekend.
But I couldn't resist it. I hadn't put any rounds down range in too long. The sky cleared and I packed up and headed out.
Took the dogs along and since no other IDIOT was out there but ME, we had the run of the place. You take a pack of pooches to a large grassy area on a cold day and you have a formula for fun. They got to run and check their pee-mail for a bit, then got bundled back into the car and it was down to business. They got to get back out every time I had to go set or check targets so they didn't get bored.

The quick data set -

The ParaUSA LTC 1911 Commander-sized lightweight 9mm pistol ran through a hundred rounds of Federal 115 grain ball without a hiccup. Both the 9 round factory magazines and the Wilson Combat 10 round mags are very smooth now as they wear in, as is the trigger. It shoots to the sights at 25 yards. I was going to try to do a nice group to photograph for the blog, but with the temp at 40 degrees and the light failing at 1700 hours that wasn't happening. Still, 100 rounds fired at a fairly brisk rate ate the center out of the target quite handily.
Second, I'd put the new Swift Premier 1.5-4.5X32mm variable scope on the Remington M660 .308 in the Warne steel rings so today I did a rough zero using milsurp ball ammo. Put three rounds touching in one cloverleaf at 25 yards. Put three rounds within 4 inches of each other at 100 yards. Good enough for conditions and the ammo I was using. This little carbine can shoot, the scope is very clear and bright, and the rings are tough as hell!
Third - the Prvi Partizan commercial ball 7.5x54mm ball ammo runs just fine through the French MAS 49/56
semiauto rifle. It'll require re-zeroing since it was hitting way high but it grouped well enough to smack a paint can around at 75 yards. However, the trigger slap was NASTY! Hmm. No one's mentioned that in any reviews of this gun that I've read. Maybe cold hands made it worse, but my finger was swollen and numb for a bit after firing ten rounds. Can I put Sorbothane on the trigger face to fix it? What else to do? Something to ponder.
So all the guns ran fine, the dogs had fun, the guns still need cleaning but I can do that while 'Rob Roy' plays on iTunes and the bean soup is slowly cooking down on the stove.
So what if it's winter? Life is good. I'm glad we went.

Quantum leap ahead in James Bond movies

Thank God for Daniel Craig. He's saved the James Bond franchise.

Of course, he couldn't have done it without the intelligent scripting and high production values that have been evident in the two movies he's done as Bond, first 'Casino Royale' and now 'Quantum of Solace'. Craig plays Bond with the kind of unhesitating savagery that a man in his line of business would have to possess, the sort of borderline sociopathy that Ian Fleming originally wrote into the character in his books. I saw 'Quantum' twice this weekend, going to matinees on two days, just like I did when 'Dr. No' and 'From Russia with Love' came out all those years ago. I could quibble about some minor points in the film, but I won't. That would be petty and mean-spirited given all the enjoyment that I derived from seeing Craig playing a Bond that was vital and powerful again, not bogged down in foppishness the way that Roger 'dipstick' Moore played him, or burdened with silly gadgets that way that Sean 'gun control' Connery ended up. Bond doesn't dick around in this film. When he's attacked, he responds with ruthless and effective violence that has nothing in common with the silly stage-ish 'fighting' that prior Bond films displayed. As a student of the martial arts, with and without weapons, and lover of cinema at large I exult that they've taken Bond back to the basics in a big way, while making the production look better than ever. You like Bond? You should see it.

Damn, don't you HATE when that happens?

Big 'oopsie' for the climate change ninnies in the British online newspaper the Telegraph today, but Al Gore won't be telling you about it, nor will the mainstream media in this country if they can avoid it.
Read about it here.
Seems that Dr. James Hansen, the agenda-driven bozo who's been the NASA cheerleader for ruining the world's economy in the pursuit of nebulous reductions in carbon dioxide in the mistaken belief that it drives climate change, has been fudging the numbers - and got caught! Ooops, my rosie red ass. They've known all along that they had to juggle the numbers to get the results that they've obtained.
Just like any fraud, the longer it's exposed to the light the worse for wear it looks. Some serious fraying showing these days. Follow the links in the story for some web pages that are of value for those of us who could use some ammo to debunk the climate-Kool-aid swillers.

Comfort food for winter

A lady named Brigid has a blog called Home on the Range that I discovered from links on the pages of some other bloggers. I've never met the lady but I like her style.
She's a woman of many parts - pilot, shooter, artist, writer and most importantly this morning, a chef. I could say that she's a cook, but that hardly captures the degree of skill she brings to the subject. The appellation 'chef' is more in keeping both with her expertise and her quality of presentation.
This morning it was cold and wet and windy in Kentucky, so I baked this as-yet-unnamed casserole for which she posted the recipe on her site.
It is really, really good!
(photo courtesy Brigid @ Home on the Range)
I can foresee that we'll be using variations on this one for some time to come. By substituting in mushrooms or other vegetables, different meats and different cheeses there would seem to be no end to the ways you could jigger this around and come up with something very nice each time.
Today we used half-n-half instead of the milk and 'country-style' bread stuffing instead of the cornbread type that she lists, but it was wonderful just the same. Delicious! Perfect for steeling you against this foul weather! The dogs and cats had mushed-up salmon in their dry food while I chowed down on the casserole and sipped coffee, and all of us are sated. Well, the dogs were paying attention while it baked and are still waiting for some of that casserole to fall off the plate onto the floor, so they're not completely sated!
The man who runs the grocery down the street from me started off as a meat cutter, and each week they make their own ground sausage right there in their store from the trimmings and cuts they've accumulated. It's so lean that you have to cook it in a little water in the skillet to keep from burning it. Next time we do this recipe, we'll try it with that sausage, some mushrooms and some onion to see what happens.
Brigid's page is full of beautiful work. Her writing and her photographs are masterful. At the risk of losing readers (all three of you), I urge you to do yourself a favor and cruise on over to her page. You might not come back to this plebeian blog again after seeing hers.
Great food! The 4th Street Irregulars give it 4 Paws up!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kentucky in the fall

When I was a boy, I used to go out in the car with my Dad on the weekends to go groundhog hunting along the Old Frankfort Pike, the old road to Lexington. It's lined on both sides with old trees and rock walls that have been there for centuries.

On the other side of the walls you'll see great long fields rolling away in the distance. Beautiful, especially at this time of year -

There's a tree in a lot that's surrounded by a wrought iron fence not far from our house. The house on that lot burned down long since and the owners have left it wild, letting the trees and flowers grow in it. This tree has grown up twisted and strange and I love to look at it through the changing seasons.
I've been in a lot of countries and seen a lot of places, but the simple beauty of Kentucky always draws me back.

The K9 Krew

I may have told you that the dogs have their own car, with their own vanity plates. The front plate reads 'Dog Sled 1'.

I had this wagon and was going to sell it when I bought a new Suzuki Forenza wagon, but then I realized that as long as I had this one, the new one would stay clean. This one was paid off and cheap to insure - why not keep it?
They love to go riding out to the field along the river to run around, and they love just to ride around, hanging their heads out the windows.
The bumper stickers are mine. They let me put them on there in exchange for my driving for them. When they grow thumbs and Sunny gets her license, I'm out of luck! Well, until Sunny has her first wreck, anyway.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

On November 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps was founded. Since that time they have been in the forefront of almost every action and conflict in which the United States has been engaged.

One of the first heroes of the Marines was Lt. Presley O'Bannon, who led them into action against the Tripoli pirates in the effort to break the pirate trade against the USA in that region. He's buried here in Frankfort, Kentucky and we visited his grave today to pay our respects to him.

He lies at the foot of the slope leading up to the memorial for Kentucky's war dead, which includes an obelisk on which the words of the poem "Bivouac of the Dead" are engraved. It was written to commemorate Kentucky's fallen soldiers from the Mexican-American war.

There's also a plaque that details his history and his exploits.

Happy birthday, Marines, from an ex-NCO in the US Army! Semper fidelis!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sad news from the pack

Despite the good news about guns and testing to do and the usual day to day events, there's something sad to add.

I'm not talking about the election. I'm resigned to that. It just means that we will finally be in the fight for our rights that we've been fearing for a long time. This will be the test of our resolve and our mettle that we've needed. We'll see who's committed to the fight, and which of us are only fair weather warriors.

No, the sad news now is that Lucie, our senior lady in the pack, has left us and gone on to scout ahead of us in the hereafter. It was very unexpected and abrupt, not at all something easy to accept or talk about just yet, probably not for a long while. She's just gone.

We lost Vanya only last year and I'm still getting over that. Now I have two kennels sitting side by side with their personal toys and bowls in them, doors closed - great dark empty spaces echoing and lonely.
In our family our dogs aren't just pets, they're our friends and mates, our siblings and our partners in life. They make our lives whole, richer, fuller. Their zeal and sheer joy in living is contagious. I treasure their companionship and relish the feel and smell of them, the sound of their baying when they're tuning up for a ride in the car.

Now we won't have Lucie leading the chorus with her special talking voice "woo-oo-ooing", dancing on her toes, eyes bright, ears up, eager.
I found myself standing by the open door of the car as they loaded up for a ride the other day, counting to be sure that they were all on board, and caught myself saying "come on, Lucie" since she and Churchill are always the last to mount up. Then murmuring again, softer, "come on, Lucie" when I realized what I'd said.

Come on, Lucie. Let's go riding. God dammit.

I hope she and Vanya are together again, working the trails, scenting the wind, relishing the smells like they always did here - tails up, noses down, quick, intent. I hope that they've found Sergei and are working as a pack again, cruising the tall grass, seeking game, running deer.

God, I miss those guys. Every time I lose one it's another shadow on my heart.

Glock swap shop

Try saying that title really fast three times!

Got the idea for this from some friends on an email list for Gunsite alumni when I was thinking about selling a Glock G21 9-11-01 commemorative that I'd inherited from my Dad. I like the G21 okay, but prefer the G30 .45 compact. I've owned both and found them extremely reliable and extremely accurate. The G30 was easy to shoot and easy to carry as well. Making hits on pepper poppers at 100 yards was literally no problem with that pistol.
What I really wanted was a G20, the large frame 10mm pistol that they make. I've wanted one for years but never got around to buying or trading for one, and I thought that this was an opportunity to do that. But a friend suggested that I just swap out the barrel and magazines to 10mm and then I'd have both calibers in one gun.
Subsequent research showed that he was right. The barrels would interchange, the magazines had the same dimensions, the ejectors would work and the recoil spring assembly was the same part in both guns. Wow! I used to work with Glocks a lot - selling them, shooting them, competing with them. I went to the Glock armorer's school when we owned a gun store. I had just forgotten how much commonality of parts there was in the Glock system.
I checked out different barrels and searched around for parts. I ended up with a Storm Lake barrel with cut rifling and a fully supported chamber, which is all bright and shiny and fits into the cut in the slide very nicely.
After replacing the slide stop lever that I broke while trying to bend it to where I wanted it (it is not for nothing that I was called "Captain Overtorque") I took the whole shebang to the range for a super quick range session. Taking the stock gun I loaded it with Blazer .45 230gr ball and fired eight rounds through it. I then swapped out the barrel, loaded it with 10 rounds of Blazer 200gr 10mm ball and without any other changes to the gun, let fly.
End result - 18 rounds through the gun, two different calibers, perfect functioning!
A couple of days later I got to shoot it a good bit more and found that the .45 ball shot about 3-4 inches high at 25 yards with the stock original sights, while the 10mm ball shot directly to point of aim with the stock sights.
Amazing. Now I can load it up with whichever caliber seems appropriate to the situation, and carry on. Of course, now I also have to get a holster for it, maybe something from Rocketman kydex hoslters. With the .45 load it'll be fine for personal defense, and with the 10mm I can carry it into the woods with heavy loads for use against beasts with fang and claw, and carry a reserve magazine with defensive loads suited to hominids.
Maybe at some point in time I'll send it out to a friend in Kali for a grip frame reduction. I've always been lucky and have had no problems with the way that the Glocks point for me, but since this is already a project gun I might try it anyway.
Whichever, I'm happy. Now I've got that 10mm I always wanted, not just a hot .40 load, but a real zinger!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama in 2-D

Mark Steyn is one of the most insightful and fun to read writers on the conservative side.  He's sharp and incisive.
He has a new piece at the National Review Online about Obama that's excellent, about the charade that is this construct.  Pass it on - Obama in 2-D