Posted on: 2011-05-14 13:36:00 -0400

Yesterday’s follow-up day of precision rifle training with threw some new shooting challenges and an AAC SPR/M4 into the mix. We started on paper at 100 yards, and the rifle seemed to take a few rounds to settle in with the suppressor mounted. We ran some ball-and-dummy drills to ensure that I wasn’t flinching and pulling the shots. It didn’t seem like I was moving the rifle, but my eyelid tended to flicker when I broke the shot, which isn’t a good sign. Time for more dry fire!

We then moved to an array of glass Christmas balls at the same distance, with five 1" and two 3/4" hanging in a target frame. I wasn’t overly optimistic given my performance on paper, but I took my time, applied the fundamentals, and shattered the seven targets with eight shots. My miss was on the fifth ball where I rushed the shot.

Next came arrays of clay pigeons at 50-yard increments from 200 to 400 yards. As was the case last time, the clays out to 300 yards didn’t stand a chance, the ones at 350 took a couple of shots, and the ones at 400 weren’t in much danger. Some light winds blew across the range in the morning, and I think that they were largely responsible for the misses on the 350 yard clays. But my pattern of bullet impacts indicated that my system just isn’t accurate enough to consistently hit clays at 400 yards.

We shot longer strings of fire between letting the rifle cool this time and noticed that the point of impact tended to drop as the rifle heated. It usually took three to five hits to completely destroy a clay, and I’d need to dial in up to 0.5 mils of extra elevation to finish off the sixth clay. This was on top of the 0.5 mils of elevation needed to counteract the point-of-impact shift from the suppressor. The shots also grew fairly tricky toward the end of a string due to mirage from the suppressor, which became far too hot to touch.

We also did some shooting with the rifle lying on its side. This complicates simple things like getting a cheek weld, not to mention a clear view through the scope. It also completely throws off the zero and flips the function of the elevation and windage turrets. Shep demonstrated how to grasp the comb of the stock with the support hand to get some semblance of a cheek weld. We dialed in the rifle after a couple of shots and logged the turret positions into my data book.

Next came some shooting with the sling. From prone, I was able to score consistent hits on clays at 200 yards, but my wobble zone far exceeded the 300-yard clays. Shep also helped me out considerably with my sitting position, where I’ve always had trouble elevating the rifle sufficiently while maintaining stability. I ended up using a similar grip with my support hand to the one I use while standing.

Cleaning up the remaining clays at 300 yards from the bipod wrapped up day. In total, I shot about 320 rounds, and my rifle was the dirtiest it’s ever become thanks to blowback from the suppressor.

Shooting with the suppressor made for a much more pleasant day, but I need to remember to keep a rag handy to clean off the magazine and area around the charging handle. An amazing amount of junk gets blown down into the magazine. The last rounds in the Lancer 20-round magazine were coated in soot by the time they reached the top.

We wrapped up with a discussion of .308 bolt-action rifles including the pros and cons of Remington, Savage, Desert Tactical Arms, Accuracy International, and the Sako TRG-22.

Prior to the class, I got to try a custom Remington 700 in .308 with a heavy 20" barrel and a Sure-Fire FA762SS suppressor. Shooting his rifle reaffirmed my decision to go for a bolt gun in .308 instead of an AR-308. You don't get any noise coming back through the ejection port with a bolt gun, and there's also no gas, oil, and soot coming back through the charging handle and getting driven down into the magazine well. Installing a PRI gas buster charging handle and adjustable gas system would likely reduce the mess and noise, but both seem like mitigation steps instead of solutions.

The FA762SS sits back over the barrel like my SPR/M4 but offers a more rigid mounting system. There's a little bit of play with my SPR/M4 while the FA762SS feels rock solid. The FA762SS lists at $1.8k, so it's not cheap. My SPR/M4 lists at $1.2k and set me back $1k out the door. I’ll definitely take a closer look at SureFire’s offerings before putting down money on a .308 suppressor.

My Red Tac Gear original bean bag worked great but wasn’t always tall enough. Shep loaned me one of his larger bags. I’ll be ordering their tactical pillow to go with my original bag.

Overall, it was a fantastically informative class that gave me many things to practice on my own time.