Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve


Written By: Bob - Mar• 04•13
Debarskafication: the process of removing cheap unnecessary crap from your rifle.

Debarskafication: the process of removing loads of cheap and/or unnecessary crap from your rifle. Photo from GoG.

The AR-15 is the most popular centerfire rifle in the United States because its modular nature has inspired various tinkers, tweakers, and theorists to modify it in a ways Eugene Stoner likely never imagined.

Ingenuity has given us Peterbilt-stopping full-auto .50 Beowulf PDWs, scary-accurate long range 6.5 Grendels, every flavor of .223 Remington/5.56 you can think of, true “modern sporting rifles” that try to make a clean break into the world of Zumbos, and improved calibers for every possible need.

You’ve got lasers, NVGs/NODs, CQB optics in every possible configuration, scopes of various flavors, iron sights both fixed,collapsible, and offset in plain iron, fiber-optic, and glow-in-the-dark radioactive flavors, weapon lights both visible and infrared, and even the ability to attach other complete weapon systems via picatinny rails. The AR-15 was never imagined as a 10-12 pound gun… but here we are, all too often.

Shortly after I acquired my first AR-15, a BCM Mid-16 Mod 2, I developed a terrible urge to weigh it down with the cheap red-dots I could afford at the time, single-point slings, lasers, foregrips, and huge weapon lights.

Fortunately, a tight budget got me from getting too stupid. It wasn’t until I was a little more involved in the game and on my second and third ARs that I started spending a little cash on accessories, but even then I was still trying to nickle-and-dime my way through the teething process. I ended up with crap products to grasp the theories behind them. The theory generally seemed to be “there’s a sucker born every minute.” I gave some of the stuff I acquired to others that wanted it, and threw out the worst of it. The problem was simple.

I knew I liked the AR-15 platform, but I didn’t know what I wanted out of it.

Slowly but surely, I started watching knowledgeable shooters more, was blasting away in my own experiments less, and began adopting a sort of ethos for my particular beast, which suffers from triple-personality syndrome.

At the moment, “Gretchen” is barreled with a 18″ .223 Wylde, with which she spits 55-grain FMJ into sub-MOA holes with disgusting regularity out to 300 yards. She is almost certain capable of more than that, but the piddly little pellets I’ve bought in bulk for target practice don’t move steel very much beyond that, and so she stays in close. I’ve made the mistake of putting cheap Chinese red-dots on her in the past, but won’t make that mistake again. I’m currently leaning towards running her “nearly naked” with the Wylde barrel, with just a good set of YHM iron sights and my newly acquired Inforce WMLfor domestic duties. I won’t even add a sling until it’s time to hit the range.

Eventually, I’m going to make slight tweaks to “Gretchen” to perform with my two other barrels, but I don’t think they’ll be drastic.

The 16″ 300 AAC Blackout is a short-to-mid range cartridge, and if I glass her at all, it will be with my existing Leatherwood CMR. I’ll use a standard GI web sling as an accuracy aid, and it will be good for deer hunting that out to 400 yards or so once I’ve put in the time to develop my dope card on the cartridge/scope combo.

A scope really worthy of the 18″ progressive-twist 6.5 Grendel, which easily reaches past 1000 yards, is going to take a while to acquire. I’ve noticed several instructors at Appleseed seems to be gravitating towards the higher end Vortex Viper PST and Nightforce NXS series scopes on either LaRue or American Defense mounts with a 20 MOA Q/D base. For this set-up, I’ll likely use my trusty GI sling out to 500 yards, or a bipod beyond that.

If I get my technique with the iron sights and WML mastered, will I really need an EoTech or Aimpoint and lasers and a single-point sling to transition to a sidearm? In my non-Hollywood world, I’m thinking probably not. Here in reality, I’m most likely to be reacting to shattering glass in my PJs, not waiting around, kitted up for war. I’m going for simplicity and reliability with as few potential failure points as possible.

With my mid-and long range set-ups, I’m again looking for as much simplicity as I can. I’ll use a GI sling for stability at mid-ranges and perhaps a bipod at extreme ranges. I’ll use iron sights when possible, and only transition to scopes when the range and target size dictates that I must, and even then, those scopes with be in QD mounts.

No lasers. No foregrips. No funky slings. No on-rifle magazine/spare parts storage. No modifications or parts added to the basic manual of arms when it comes to loading/clearing/unloading. No pads or wires for my WML, and that is momentary-on-only to reduce the likelihood of it even being bled dry in storage or transport. No optics dependent on electronics, and all optics must be in QD mounts to get them off the rifle as soon as possible if they do find away to fail.

It’s taken me a long time to get past the glitz to get back to the basics if marksmanship and practice instead of gadgets, but I’m getting there.

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  1. Matt says:

    I generally find the AR-10 to be a much more appealing rifle, but I will admit to being seriously tempted by 6.5 Grendel. Mind you, I’m not a good enough marksman to actually utilize their full potential, but still it gives a guy something to dream about.

  2. JD says:

    I learned through experience that all the gadgets do is weigh down a n otherwise very light and handy rifle. When i first arrived in Afghanistan on my first deployment with every toy i had been issued attached to my m4. I had a pouch with a spare mag on the butstock, a pac4 laser, a surefire with a pressure switch, a foregrip that turned into a bipod, and the acog with a backup irons and fancy 3 point sling. After about a month of foot patrols carrying the rifle plus body armor plus 12 30 round mags plus an m9 with 4 mags plus first aid kit, radio, water, an assault pack with some extra clothes and a couple days worth of food and night vision, I said the hell with this. I stripped down my rifle to the minimum. I ended having just the acog with back up irons. I even ditched the sling and just put a loop of 550 cord at the end of the buttstock with a d- ring on my vest to attach it to. I even took all the plastic handguard covers off. A barebones m4 is sooo light and handy after you do it the stupid way first. If you plan on carrying the thing anymore than from trunk to bench, strip her down!

  3. Treker says:

    With nearly a meter of rail on my AR having so little on it seems so naked . Thank you for the laugh today.

  4. harp1034 says:

    All those gadgets are fine and great if you really need them. Are you taking 600 yard shots at a Taliban? On a SWAT or Spec Ops team kicking in doors at 4AM? If not you don’t really need them. If you have money to play with and want to be Mr. Cool knock yourself out.

  5. Caspian says:

    For most that stay in shooting this seems to be a common cycle – we use to laugh that when you don’t practice you accessorize. Went from hi cap to single stack and took all the crap off my rifle some years ago. Simplicity does help with reliability.

  6. Rey B says:

    I haven’t yet purchased one although I have had opportunity to shoot a friends toy. He has just iron sights and a red dot of questionable heritage. I like that I can throw it to the shoulder and hit what I aim at out to the 100 yards our local range affords without any difficulty. Plans are in the works to get one as soon as the panic prices ease somewhat.

  7. Comrade X says:

    Methinks optics are good for speed and accuracy for the old eyes among us!

    And with optics many times you do very well get what you pay for.

    Death before slavery!

  8. Klingonwork says:

    I’m waiting on a plasma TV mounted on a picatinny so I can catch the Dodger game.

  9. Phelps says:

    It reminds me of an old paintball comic that I can’t find.

    Newbie: Guy in safety glasses, T-shirt, and ball cap, carrying a 10 round pistol.

    Experienced: Guy in all camo, carrying a cheap blowback and a boonie hat

    Veteran: Guy in a speedball jersey, carrying an electronic mag and a high-speed, low-drag mask

    Expert: Guy in safety glasses, T-shirt, and ball cap, carrying a 10 round pistol.

  10. redc1c4 says:

    i prefer my AR to be as much like the one’s i carried in uniform as possible.

    iron sights, standard fixed stock and a hasty sling adapter.

    simple, reliable and robustly low tech. YMMV.

  11. LFMayor says:

    I knew this had gotten out of hand when I started seeing “tactical” rails offered for H&R handi-rifles and Mosin-Nagants.

  12. Comrade X says:

    “…Last but not least my personal favorite, the guy who shows up decked out head to toe in everything Crye Precision makes. These fine gentleman have the latest and greatest in weapons and kit, but the second the pressure is on and they’re in the midst of the drill, they have a malfunction and, they stop and stare at the gun like it’s got….

    Death before slavery!

  13. Sanders says:

    I’ve found a mounted flashlight to be pretty handy when chasing after a coyote in the hen house at o’dark-thirty.

    Other than that, I might put a sling on for the reasons you state above.

  14. OpenTheDoor says:

    The highest capacity rifle I shoot is a .22 tube feed Remy.
    Never have wanted to spend the bucks for an AR.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t “need” one, but you may.
    Then again, I don’t “need” an abortion, but you may.
    I am a single shot and bolt action kinda guy.
    My favorite rifle to target shoot is a BSA single shot .22, peep sight, a real tack driver.
    I got bricks and bricks of cheep .22, they don’t feed well through the Remy but the BSA never fails to light them up.

  15. Critch says:

    I have an ACOG with iron backup sights, a simple strap sling, that is all….I also have a more or less Vietnam era type rifle I built with the fixed carry handle, skinny barrel, Triangualr handguards, no forward assist and rubber butt pad, guess what it? It weights almost nothing and is very accurate. It’s similar to what I carried for 4 years and loved it. I dont’ like too much dependence on technology.