April 9th, 2016

Army to Buy $12,215 Sniper Rifles from Heckler & Koch

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

What can you do with $12,215.00? Well, you could buy a new Polaris RZR ATV, a really nice bass boat, 234 shares of Verizon, or 643 bottles of Jack Daniels Old #7. Or, if you are the U.S. Army, you can buy one (1) semi-auto sniper rifle, plus some spare parts. The U.S. Army announced recently that it will replace its M110 Knights Armament-made sniper rifle with a new, lighter 7.62×51 semi-auto rifle from Heckler and Koch. H&K will supply a slimmed-down variant of its G28 Rifle called the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS). The potential max contract value is $44,500,000 for up to 3,643 rifles (and spare parts). That works out to $12,215.21 per rifle*. At that price, it better be good.

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

The military says the G28 system is lighter and more compact than the 15.3-lb M110 produced by Knights Armament Company (KAC). The G28 is certainly more compact, given its 16.6″ barrel. But somebody seems to have forgotten that velocity is lost with a shorter barrel. A longer barrel will deliver significantly higher MV for better long-range ballistics. Nevertheless the Army thinks portability trumps ballistics: “Compared to the M110, the CSASS will be easier to carry, handle and maneuver in close-quarters combat. It will lighten the load for carrying over rough terrain for the longer-range ridgeline to ridgeline fight. These improvements will not sacrifice existing performance, accuracy or reliability.”

Hmmm… “Not sacrifice existing performance”? We’re not sure how that can be the case. The current KAC M110 Sniper Rifle (shown below) has a 20″ barrel. The basic G28 has 16.6″ (421 mm) barrel). Perhaps the final CSASS production version of the G28 will be fitted with a longer barrel?

CSASS U.S. Army Compact Sniper System Semi-automatic Knights Armament Heckler Koch H&K HK

Here’s what various sources report: “On 1 April 2016, the Army announced it had awarded Heckler and Koch a contract with a maximum value of $44.5 million as winner of the competition to replace the KAC M110. H&K is to produce 3,643 rifles. A goal of the effort was to give snipers a weapon that didn’t “stick out” as a sniper rifle; with a suppressor, the current M110 is 46.5″, that’s 13″ longer than the M4 carbine. A minimum of 30 CSASS units will be used for production qualification testing and operational testing over 24 months. H&K later confirmed that a modified G28 had indeed been selected as the CSASS rifle. The G28 is nearly 2.5″ shorter and 3 pounds lighter than the M110 (unloaded and without a suppressor) and will cost about $12,000 per rifle.”

Comment: We’re not so sure about this deal. $12.2K is a lot of money for a souped up AR10. The KAC M110, by all accounts, has performed well in combat and has a good reputation with sniper teams. When introduced, the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) won a U.S. Army award as one of the “Best 10 Inventions” of 2007. The M110 is highly acclaimed for its battlefield performance. If the military wanted a shorter rifle, it simply could have fitted a shorter barrel and a collapsible buttstock on existing M110s. That would have saved millions of dollars. But saving money is, apparently, not one of the Pentagon’s priorities these days.

* This HK firearm is sold as a CSASS system. Typically, the price per system unit will include optics, attachments, fitted hard case, and spares.

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April 9th, 2016

Tuning Your Sandbag Hardness — Tech Tip by Speedy

Over the years, noted gunsmith and a Benchrest Hall-of-Fame inductee Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez has learned a few things about “tuning” rear sandbags for best performance. On his Facebook page, Speedy recently discussed how sand bag fill levels (hard vs. soft) can affect accuracy. Speedy says you don’t want to have both your front and rear sandbags filled up ultra-hard. One or the other bag needs to have some “give” to provide a shock-absorbing function (and prevent stock jump).

SAND BAGS & HOW TO FILL THEM by Speedy Gonzalez

I was asked several times by competitors at the S.O.A. Matches and F-Class Nationals as to how I fill my sand bags for benchrest competition. Here is a copy of a reply I gave several years ago:

Back in the old days, about the time Fred Flintstone was still alive, I worked for Pat McMillan for free, from time to time to learn all his secrets. One day little Speedy was filling some new sand bags out behind Pat’s shop, stuffing them with more sand than Taco Bell put beans in their Burritos. When Pat stepped out the back door and inquired as to what in the hell was I doing packing them there bags the way I was.

I looked up at him with eyes like a kid with his hands in a cookie jar. My reply must have sounded like Homer Simpson “Doooh”. Finally I said “I don’t know, Boss. I just thought you were supposed to fill these babies up and go shoot. I got that ‘You dumb bastard look’ from Pat and I knew it was lecture time. This was what he told me:

You can not have two bags filled so hard that you gun bounces on them in the process of firing round at your target, especially if you have a rig with a very flexible stock. The bags must be set up in a manner for them to absorb the initial shock of the firing pin moving forward and igniting the primer. Then [they must] maintain their shape and absorb the second shock wave as well the rearward thrust and torque of the rifle. What happens to the rifle when this is not done? Well let me tell you. The rifles have a very bad tendency to jump and roll in the bags. This causes many of those wild, lost shots that one can’t explain.

Charles Huckaba, Ken Terrell, Larry Baggett, Ralph Stewart and some of us Texas shooters talk about this phenomena quite often. We have all agreed that:

  • 1: You can not have two hard bags [i.e. both front AND rear] in your set-up.
  • 2: Heavy sand magnifies these phenomena.
  • 3: If you are a bag squeezer, pack ears hard and leave bag pliable enough to squeeze for the movement required. You may pack front bag as hard as rules permit.
  • 4: Free recoil shooters pack both bags firm, but not so hard as to allow stock jump. Especially if you have a stock with a very flexible forearm.
  • 5: We use play-ground sand, also know as silica sand. I sift mine to get any large impurities out then mix it with 25% to 50% with Harts parakeet gravel to the desired hardness that I am looking for. The bird gravel keeps the sand from packing itself into that solid as a brick state.

Speaking of bricks — another thing that happens when shooters employ that heavy zircon sand is the ears form a low spot under them from recoil and then tend to rock back and forth with the rifle causing many low shots to crop up. Edgewood makes an Edgewood/Speedy rear bag specially reinforced under the ears to eliminate this scenario.

One last note –If you use the Cordura bags keep them sprayed with a good silicon spray or “Rain-Ex”. This keeps them from getting sticky. Hey guys, try that and see if it helps. — Speedy

P.S.: I do not like the solid double-stitched leather bottoms. While this seems like a good idea, I see more shooters have problems because of them. They tend to slide around the bench and or slide with the rifle on recoil. The standard Protektor with Cordura rabbit ears and an Otto ring bag with a Cordura front would be what I would suggest to the new shooter or one of the Edgewood / Speedy rear bags, these mimic the “Donut” and feature a ring of leather around the bottom circumference that keep the bottom from rocking on the bench or ground if that is where you reside these days…

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April 9th, 2016

Celebrating Silence: The Iowa Suppressor Rally

Iowa Suppressor Rally Silencer sound Moderator American Suppressor Association

On Saturday, April 16, the American Suppressor Association (ASA), in partnership with Brownells, will host the Iowa Suppressor Rally, a public suppressor shoot at the Big Springs Shooting Complex near Searsboro, Iowa. The event will celebrate the enactment of Iowa House File 2279, which legalized firearm suppressors in Iowa on March 31st. Rally organizers will provide all firearms, ammunition, and, of course, suppressors.

Iowa Suppressor Rally Silencer sound Moderator American Suppressor Association

The rally is free and open to the public. All guns and ammo will be provided at the rally; attendees are asked to leave personal firearms at home or in their vehicles. The Rally will allow Iowans to sample firearms equipped with suppressors from Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC), Dakota Silencer, Gemtech, Sig Sauer, Silencerco, and Yankee Hill Machine.

“After three years of hard work alongside the Iowa Firearms Coalition and the NRA, Iowans will finally be able to use suppressors to protect their hearing while enjoying the shooting sports,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the ASA. “This rally [will] show the people of Iowa why we have all fought so hard to legalize suppressors in The Hawkeye State.”

“Iowans can now enjoy the same freedom as those in many other states and countries,” said Brownells CEO Pete Brownell. “I suffer from hearing loss myself. Being able to dampen the noise associated with firearms will help protect the hearing of all Iowans who shoot, including future generations of Iowa gun owners.”

Suppressors (obtained in accordance with Federal law) are now legal to own in the vast majority of American States. CLICK HERE to learn more about obtaining a suppressor.
Iowa Suppressor Rally Silencer sound Moderator American Suppressor Association

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