Rifle battery

Discussion in 'Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting' started by strow, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. strow New Member

    Zak, What do you feel is the minimum number of rifle configurations you would feel comfortable having on hand for most utilitarian uses? Hunting/food procurement, self defense, and practice/training.

    Kind of an Occam's razor for rifle setups.

    If limited to one rifle and optic how would you set it up?
    Two rifle set up?
    Optics, loads, mods, etc.

    What 1, 2, or 3 rifle configurations would give you the best balance of covering your requirements and also simplifying your training and ammo budget without leaving gaps in your needs analysis? I am trying to avoid the “golf club” and a gun safe full of useless crap approach so many people have. At what point do you have your bases covered and the rest of your time and resources should be spent on training and ammo?
  2. Zak Smith Operations

    • Instructor
    Zak Smith
    Good question. I've found that in most hobbies or areas of interest, there are people who like to think about theoretical applications and then collect the items to cover those theoretical uses. Some people progress past this stage to the training, using, gaining expertise, and mastery phases, in which the items are more or less just tools. You could say that much of the discussion and flame-wars on the internet are between mostly people from the first category. People in the second category tend to have a more utilitarian attitude towards their tools because their focus is the "system performance" -- that is, their performance with the tools.

    Kind of along these lines, my advice is to not build or buy rifles for theoretical uses. There's nothing wrong with buying stuff that you just like for whatever reason and don't expect to shoot a lot, but I see that as a different attitude than defining a spread of total theoretical activity and then spending a lot of money to make sure every side is covered. To make an analogy, if we're talking about defensive use of arms, 99.9% people would be better off with a Glock 19, five days of professional defensive training spread over a year, and 5,000 rounds of ammunition to train with per year as opposed to any combination of additional firearms (rifles, shotguns, extra handguns) at the expense of training or ammunition.

    So I recommend to put together rifles when you have a specific purpose that you will be using them for in the proximate future. If you plan to shoot practical long range competitions, then build up a rifle for that based on the best advice available. If you pan to shoot 3-Gun competition, you there are several different levels of cost/commitment you can follow, but you'll end up with a competitive set of pistol, rifle, and shotgun. For general shooting or defensive training classes, almost any AR-15 that was put together without any real bad decisions will be OK. There's no point in having a special hunting rifle if you don't plan to hunt soon; and in an emergency, your precision long-range rifle, AR-15, .22LR, or pistol can be used to obtain meat.

    The danger of getting a collection based on a theoretical plan is that often the theoretical plan differs from the real uses based on information we don't know yet, or by the time you get around to using it, it's obsolete or you misunderstood the "problem statement". Another danger is trying have a rifle that does too many things well, but is really too much of a compromise to really do any of them really well.

    Anyway, most of the guys I know who are into practical shooting, training, and competing in matches (including myself), have: a couple precision long-range rifles, usually a pair like .308/.260 or .260/7mm or .260/.338; one or two AR's in .223/556 (typical 3-Gun and/or defense configurations, usually one with a red dot or irons and one with a magnified optic like an ACOG or M/RT).

    My own setup for rifles I use all the time includes: about 2-3 precision/long-range rifles ready to go (and a couple more being rebarreled or swapping scopes or doing evals or whatever). I always keep one .308 for a student loaner/demo gun, and the others are in more competitive cartridges like .260 or 7mm Magnum. I have two 3-Gun competition AR-15's that are set up identically, one is just 5 years older than the other one (I shoot the old beater in local matches and "save" the barrel on the new one for national level matches). I have an 12" SBR in .223 that's for defensive training and suppressor demos.

    Anyway, that's my take on it. It's really easy to get caught up in the "planning and getting the right gear" for everything, but I've found that focusing on training goals and getting the equipment to support those goals is more productive.

    hope this helps
  3. strow New Member


    As always thank you for the detailed, rational, and practical reply!

    How much of a ballistic handicap do you think the 12.5” AR has compared to your 18” 3-Gun AR's? Assuming the same or similar optics were used?

    At what distance do you feel the Precision bolt guns in say 260R start to real shine over a lighter handier 18” AR or 12.5” SBR? Having both in the truck when do you reach for one over the other?

    What do you think are some reasonable shooter/rifle training goals in yardage and MOA for the rifles you mentioned for a skilled shooter in the field?

    ...and on that note, I'm off to the range with some steel targets.
  4. Zak Smith Operations

    • Instructor
    Zak Smith
    For perspective on carbine capability, check these out

    There is a huge difference in long-range performance between those three steps. The 12" SBR is closer to the 17" 3Gun rifle than the 17" is to the .260.

    If I need to make one or two shots really count on something small at over 150 yards, the .260 is the one to use, but it takes longer to set up. For a running shot on a varmint at close range, the 3Gun rifle is the best choice. Typically a 3Gun rifle will weigh half or less the mass of the long-range rifle.

    You could look at the target size/distances used in the SRM, SS, or TBTC as a benchmark. These are usually 1.5-2.5 MOA in size.

    For 3Gun training, if you can do offhand snap shots on a 5" square at 100 yards with an AR, that's pretty good. From a field improvised prone position (no bipod) or kneeling/sitting, you should be able to hit a 2 MOA target at 300-500 yards.
  5. strow New Member

    If building another 12.5" SBR and 17" 3-gun AR from the ground up what specs would you want and who are some smiths you would recommend?
  6. Zak Smith Operations

    • Instructor
    Zak Smith
    My 12" is a Noveske and my 3Gun uppers are built by MSTN. I would just repeat the same purchases again..

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