Saturday, February 2, 2008

Best Rifle for an Appleseed?

Best Rifle for an Appleseed? - Fred

Since you come to an Appleseed to learn to shoot, and since most people do not find it easy, at least at first, herewith some suggestions about which rifles make it harder, and which make it easier, to learn to shoot.

If you want to learn to drive, you don't start with a race car. Nor do you start with a car difficult to drive. No sir. Best if you have a car that's easy to drive, to master the difficult (to the new student) art of driving.

OK, here's what to avoid, if you can:

Short sight radius: Means you have to work a lot harder on "Sight Alignment" - Step 2 of "Firing the Shot". If you have two rifles, and one has a longer sight radius than the other, and all other things being equal, bring the one with the longer sight radius - it's easier to master.

Rifles with short sight radius: about any modern rifle with open rear sights (some of the older military bolt-actions have pretty decent sight radius even with open rear sights); AKs generally; any short-barreled rifle with the sight at the front end of the barrel;

Rifles with long sight radius generally but not always have peep rear sights, like the Garand, ARs, M1As, Cetme/HKs, and FALs - and any peep-sighted .22 rimfire.

Rifles with open rear sights, if you are over 40-50 and have trouble seeing the rear sight while focused on the front sight. If you have good vision, you can use them just fine. Fred used to clean up with an SKS, but that was back when he could half see the rear sight... You get to that age, and you make your learning task a lot harder trying to use sights you have trouble lining up because of vision problems.

For people with older vision, peep sights are the first choice (and actually will be easier for people of all ages, which is the point here), followed by a scope if vision is really bad. The problem with a scope is a tendency of the newbie to 'overfuss' the shot, and the magnification of any tremors (and there will be plenty, you bet) which leads to loss of confidence in the ability to fire a good shot. Plus scopes seem to have an unerring love to loosen up - rings, mounts, whatever - and only after they ruin some of your shooting do you discover it. Angry I've seen a 10/22 with the rear mount entirely slipped off the rear of the receiver before the shooter noticed it... With iron sights, you don't see any of that - or much less.

Short-barreled rifles, in general. Why? They are extremely LOUD, for one thing, along with severe muzzle blast. Being next to one on the line is not a plus - you could be hurting the chances of the guys to either side learning to shoot. Of course everyone has ear plugs AND ear muffs on, but the blast will raise a lot of dust which in rapid fire can hinder your sight picture. And if the wind is blowing toward you, you'll be kicking up a shower of dust and grit that will coat you and your rifle each time you fire a shot...not good. Likewise, if you have the choice, leave the rifle with the muzzle brake at home. We'll show you how you don't need it. Grin

Bolt Actions and tube-fed .22s - the bolties are fun to shoot, but not necessarily easy to use for marksmanship training, compared to a semi-auto, which takes the work out of it for you. Of course, you can practice with your bolt action prior to coming to the Appleseed - there's no question you can shoot 'rifleman' with it just as good as a semiauto - but you'll work harder at it, particularly as a newbie - and that's the point of this set of guidance suggestions - to make the process easier, not harder for you. If you do bring it, make sure you bring at least a couple of stripper clips for it, assuming it offers that option. Tube-fed .22s are OK - except when the "LOAD!" command is given, and then you're quickly fumble-fingering the rounds into the tube. Not a major problem, maybe - but again, if you have a clip-fed one, that's the one to bring to an Appleseed.

Poor Triggers: This one is touchy because your rifle may have a good trigger, one you're used to and like, even if every other rifle in its class has a poor one. You want, ideally, a two-stage military trigger, with the second stage being about 4-6 pounds and with a crisp 'break'. You can do fine with other triggers, but - again - you'll have to work harder at it.

Rifles with generally poor triggers (your experience can differ from Fred's): AKs (single pull, long travel); Cetme/HKs

Rifles with generally (not always) good triggers: Most older bolt-action military rifles; any US military rifle (M1s, M1As, ARs); SKSs; FALs

Difficult-to-adjust sights: If you need a hammer to adjust windage, better get the windage adjusted just like you want it before you come to an Appleseed. Things are moving too fast to do a lot of hammering on your front sight (tho I've seen people do it). Rifles with this prob are any of the old bolt-action militaries, AKs, SKSs. Some rifles, like HK/Cetmes, require a special tool for sight adjustment - see if you can bring one with you - and others, like the ARs, are much easier to adjust with an after-market sight adjustment tool (pretty cheap they are, too!). Open-sighted .22s are usually a bear to adjust for both windage and elevation. Try to show up with the rifle sighted in for 1/2" high at 82 ft if you can, to save time and aggravation.

Extendable/folding stocks: Usually, they make it harder to get a good cheek/stock weld, and in cold weather if metal can be brutal on the cheek (and in hot weather, uncomfortable). Again, if you have the option, go for a rifle easier to learn to shoot.

Thirty-round magazines: On a lot of rifles, like ARs and AKs, and some .22s, they interfere with acquisition of a good prone position - and that's a position you definitely want to master quickly, because you can shoot like a house afire when you do. Bring 20-rd mags whenever possible.

Sling swivels and sling: definitely pick the rifle out of the rack with the swivels and a sling (preferably a GI green cotten web one); you're not gonna believe how much a good sling will improve your shooting.

Other suggestions to make life easier for you:

It goes without saying that a clean and properly-lubed rifle will shoot better than a dirty non-lubed one. When you show up, have your bore already wiped clean and dry, as well as the chamber.

If windy and dusty conditions are anticipated, I'd degrease the rifle entirely and use some dry graphite-type lube on it, sparingly, and keep it protected as much as possible on the line from blowing grit (bring a rag to wrap around the action after it's been cleared by the RSO). (You find out quick at an Appleseed what kills your rifle's reliability, and blowing grit is at the top of the list.)

If extremely cold conditions are anticipated, use artic-type lube if you have it - or no lube at all - altho ordinary lube usually will work down to nearly zero degrees - and it'd have to be a cold Appleseed to get that frozen. But Fred was at an Appleseed where we found out ice/snow packed in the mag well and action of an M1A didn't slow the rifle down at all. Roll Eyes

Gas tubes should always be clean and dry, as well as gas pistons.

And before you leave home, I would go over sight adjustment screws, scope mounts, and the like, tightening them up as needed to avoid sights going loose on you, to your frustration, until an instructor IDs the problem for you. "An ounce of prevention", right?

Now, please note that the above are suggestions - simply suggestions to make your job as a student of learning marksmanship skills easier, not harder.

Suggestions, not requirements. Bring any of the above rifles you want, so long as you are prepared to work harder at marksmanship. We'll work with you to help you master it. Just bring a little extra determination and grit along with an understanding that you'll have to work harder than someone who brings an easier rifle to master.

Bring what you got is fine with us, even if unsighted in. Even if brand new and unfired. We don't recommend it, but I've seen plenty of people do it, and overcome any problems therefrom, and learn to shoot.

Overcoming adversity makes a better person of you, as well as a better shooter. Grin

Appleseed: It will make a believer of you. Grin Grin