So on top of putting the new 22 through it's paces, we also had the mission of testing out some things with the full size ARs. Nothing major, but I'm feeling proud of myself, so I'ma brag a little.
First off, and the most pressing thing on my mind for most of this last week was making sure Will's AR worked. I did some work on it for him the last couple weeks, including installation of the excellent ASAP (Ambidextrous Sling Attachment Point) from Magpul and a new gas block, in the form of a flip up front sight assembly from Yankee Hill Machine.
I have a YHM block just like it on my middy, and find it to be a perfectly acceptable BUIS. It accepts standard AR front sight post, and adjusts just like any standard AR front sight. My only complaint is the button to unlock and lower the sight tower is tough to get to with how I have my light mounted on my rifle. Not YHM's fault, and I can live with it. I figure I'm not going to ever be in a hurry (read life or death situation) to lower the sight.
Anyway, I was a bit nervous to test out the rifle, as this was the first time I did any work on the top half of an AR. I was 99.9% sure I had it lined up right, but I don't have x-ray vision, so there was that slight possibility.
Well, she ran like a dream.
I did run 10 rounds through it quickly to make sure it was holding up and cycling fine before I passed it off to him, so if anything blew up, it would have been in my face. It was my handywork after all.
Anyway, he's quite happy with how it turned out, and very happy to not have a front sight post in his sight picture anymore.
On my end of things, Sigtyr is pretty much done. I have all the big things on there and setup how I want, and aside from some little things a different sling swivel on the handguard and perhaps a different light setup, it's effectively done. The biggest changes since the last comprehensive look at the carbine are the ACS stock, EOTech XPS2-2, and the light.
I was reluctant to swap out the CTR for the ACS, I do like the look, feel, and weight of the CTR, but when I swapped out the Tango Down stubby for the AFG, I lost my battery storage. I have the bolt/firing pin core in the MOE grip, complete with a bolt, cam pin, firing pin, and two fp retaining pins, and really like that little insurance policy. So, grudgingly, I ordered an ACS stock, and set aside the CTR for when the Smith showed up. With the addition of the EOTech and the white light, spare batteries on the system were too good of an idea.
A side effect of the ACS is the improved cheek weld. It's not that big of a deal with irons, but with a raised electronic type system, like an EOTech or an Aimpoint, it's nice to have a bit more bulk there. Also it's kind of nice to have a bore snake on board too.
A Viking Tactics offset light mount and Surefire G2 were tossed on the front, since zombies don't always attack in the day time. The only complaint (other than the earlier one about the front site) is that what VTac calls "OD" green is much closer to foliage green. I can live with it, but Will says I need to change it. He's definitely more vain than I am. (And at times obviously a Lieutenant)
Then of course came the EOTech. I decided to spend the extra cash on the XPS series, so I only had to keep one type of battery on the rifle. (Both the Surefire and the XPS use CR123A batteries) With the ACS that gives me enough spare batteries to swap out both electronics twice. (2 for the light, 1 for the sight, twice equals 6) I know AAs are easier to find, and an EOTech 512 would have been cheaper, but I like simplicity.
I also opted for the two dot reticle on the EOTech, at first because I like the range compensation ability, and I am a rifleman at heart. Some people don't like how "busy" the multi-dot reticles are, but now that I've had time to play around with it, the similarity between the standard post in a ring sight picture of the irons that I have used for years on issued M16s and the "donut and dots" of the EOTech are quite similar to me. When the excrement hits the rotating air circulator," the instinctiveness of that "post in a ring," steel or glowing red, should be good for me.
Had it at the range for the first time yesterday, and here's how things went. Out of 175 rounds of Winchester Xpert .22lr bulk pack ammo, there were 3 failures to fire. Not bad at all for bulk .22lr. There were no failures to feed or eject, as long as you make sure to stagger the rounds in the mag (as seen here) there should be minimal feed issues.
Informal accuracy tests (monopoding off the magazine from the bench... forgot the sandbag) resulted in about 1 1/2" 5 shot groups at 50 yards. I expect some decent optics and a real rest should cut that down a little, but it is more than acceptable for carbine training and general plinking purposes.
The similarity in controls between a full size AR and the little made for simple immediate action when the gun failed to go bang.
Shooting buddy Will liked it as well. I foresee this little gun breaking in a few new shooters in the coming years. Light weight, manageable, and intuitive. No scary BANG! or hard recoil.
On that note, as far as the weight and the recoil go, at first the extreme light weight of the little rifle seem like it may be an issue. It feels about 1/3 the weight of Sigtyr, and switching from the Smith back to the "real" AR made you feel like you were hefting a howitzer or something. I can see how some people would see this as a problem as far as training goes. It is a little snappier switching from target to target, especially with the AFG on there.
Light gun is light-
However I think the light weight makes the recoil a bit more noticeable. You could add weight inside the buffer tube and possibly under the handguard and beef it up a little, but that would reduce felt recoil, and if it were similar in weight to a 5.56 mid-length, I doubt there would be much, if any, felt recoil. While this could be ideal for new shooters, for a training tool, I'd rather have a bit of muzzle jump and notable recoil. Plus at it's current setup you can feel the difference between a regular shot, and bolt lock, much like you can on a full size AR.
That's right, I said bolt lock. Some people I've talked to still don't know that the M&P15-22 does in fact lock open on an empty mag and has a fully functional ping-pong paddle in roughly the same place as a standard AR. I say "roughly" as it is a little farther forward than normal, a little under 1/4" maybe, which isn't noticeable until you try to mount a Magpul B.A.D. lever. That requires some material removal from the front of the trigger housing. Worth doing in my case, as I have a B.A.D. lever on my full-size carbine, so reloading my little one is identical, and as pictured above, remedial actions are quite similar. However if you're not running a bolt assist lever of some sort, most operations will be the same as your AR out of the box. Like pretty much all .22lr ARs out there, there is no forward assist. Fine by me, I rarely use them anyway, and, in my opinion, they would be a potential hazard on a rimfire. (can you say out-of-battery detonation?)
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the little rifle. So far it seems more reliable than the GSG5 (way to curse it...) and a much more viable training option than my 10/22. Smith & Wesson definitely have a winner in this little carbine.