Thursday, December 27, 2012

As 2012 ends, now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country.

Freedom is about taking action.  Politics is about lobbying and the most powerful form of that is still "grassroots" action.

Now is the time to begin sending lawmakers letters and emails telling them that to prove that our nation truly does respect the Second Amendment, any new laws and regulations passed regarding firearms must include a provision recognizing the Right of every American citizen to always have access to the equipment necessary to participate in the one aspect of shooting that most closely reflects the   preservation of a well regulated militia as being necessary to the security of a free state, the promotion of practice with the current U.S. Service Rifle.

It is time we insist that the deliberation of our Nation's law mature beyond the specious argument that only sport or self-defense as sanctioned by a benevolent government are the determinants of what arms the citizenry.  This is false.  In its very notion it is a reversion to the People being subjects to the whimsy of the powerful; the very reason Colonists came to the Americas.  The very reason immigrants still come to this land.

It is time to remind ourselves that the body of the People remains the most powerful asset this Nation has.   That we should not be remiss and dismissive of so important a resource to the betterment of public safety as America's gun owners, the very people best equipped to aid in the furthering of a culture of safety and tranquility if only the rhetoric of politics could learn to go beyond seeing the People as pawns in a game of influence.   It is time to admit that if we truly want solutions that save lives, it makes no sense to cut off such an expansive and cost effective resource.  Partnership really is the only way to reach our objectives.  Always has been, always will be.

Make note in your respectful but stern admonitions that you and millions of other Americans now make it part of your test to see if government can still remember how important the basic tenets of this Nation are to its longevity far beyond whatever one moment in time challenges us with.  That We the People know our culture is still a baby in the lifetime of cultures.  If we lose our way, we will never make it to celebrate an eon.

Respectfully to my fellow citizens,
Dennis Santiago

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wayne LaPierre, Bill Clinton and Manning the Ramparts

Also appears at,

The acrimony of politics continues to get in the way of looking at public safety and mental health issues. That's not surprising. Christmas spirit -- yes I insist on calling it by its offensive religious overtone name -- seems to have deserted the United States this year giving way to a permanent siege of political angst.

So I have to laugh at the irony of the reaction to the NRA's call for more police in schools because it's exactly the recommendation that Bill Clinton made about the "Cops in Schools" initiative in the aftermath of Columbine. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Here at last we have a net sum bipartisan recommendation and of course we reject it utterly. The United States proves once again that we are not so much interested in solutions as we are interested in soothing our need to express ourselves. Trumped by the love of snark yet again.

Let's explore the hyperbole though. Where does it take us?

My first reaction to the proposal was actually somewhat negative. Call me a traditionalist but I'm one of those people that just doesn't like living in a country where moving about in daily life is the equivalent of passing though a series of TSA checkpoints. May I see your papers please?   Combine that with Internet technology, RFID chips and eventually retina scans and we're living in a patchwork of green zones and outside the wire badlands in America. Not to mention -- since we are talking a about a federal level instant check future -- entire classes of people who will avoid the green grass on the other side of the FLOT. That's "forward line of troops" for those of you that did not learn military speak. Think this is nuts?  Go for a walkabout in Afghanistan.  We've already put that "tech" into action there and after the fiscal cliff the companies that make that stuff will be looking for a "new market" opportunity to peace dividend said technology.  Look in the nice machine before turning in your homework please.

Ok so having gotten my deepest "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" yearnings out of the way, onto the mechanics of the proposal.

Today's rhetoric -- like all myopic American arguments -- is about guarding the gates of schools; make that all schools, all the time. That's a lot of schools. But wait! Violent mass killing events have occurred outside of schools. They've occurred in movie theaters. They've occurred in parking lots. They've occurred on vacation islands; this last example admittedly did happen in Norway.  So multiply the size of the job by all the green zones, aka all the gun-free zones, that would need to be guarded in this new safety starts at the wire version of America.

Bear in mind that mass killers -- while mad as hatters -- are also resourceful when it comes to the predator vs. prey game that plays out in their heads as they emerge from obscurity to shock our senses with the unthinkable. Going down this path means closing more and more holes in the perimeter as time goes on. It just is.

A bigger government solution -- even an uncomfortable bed fellows bipartisan one -- is expensive. In a typical police department there'd be many officers assigned to a School Resource Officer bureau -- SRO is code for "cop on campus" -- as there are assigned to patrol, traffic or detectives. They'd get bored just sitting there so they'd likely be flitting between campuses. That sets up a false defensive posture because -- as any well-heeled threat knows -- you attack when the guards aren't on station.

It's helicopter warfare all over again. The U.S. track record isn't so good at this.  We lost the one we tried in the '60s and the issue remains in doubt with regards to our latest attempt.  So naturally, let's try it on ourselves and maybe we get it right this time.

Well you can't very well leave the no guard at the post security holes open; well maybe we can deny it until the first, second or third proof by death that a determined mad dog can still wreak carnage. This of course causes the old "village defense force" plan to activate. So we'll wind up arming the locals. We'll send them to powers of arrest and use of force classes. We'll issue them CCW licenses. We'll insist they practice their marksmanship and take "active shooter" scenario combat training classes. We'll breed and raise to the stature of respected citizen a new group of well-armed Americans.

And that's pretty much how the stoichiometry tends to go. Been that way on this planet since the Mayan calendar was first printed. Ok so now big government is happy.  The NRA is happy.  The "green zones" are safe.

But what, if anything, have we improved about life outside the wire? About the plight of the mentally ill still ignored. About the people who dare not approach the ramparts lest they be revealed as social undesirables and swept away in an Internet enabled checkpoint instant. They will still be there. They will still be suffering. We will not have done that much to reduce the probability or even the rate of people falling into the cracks of our utopia as we wait and dare the sick to come across the wire.

Somewhere in this discussion of how to make America a safer place for all, we still need to turn our attention to the fact that the world outside our comfort zone is still part of the United States; that these at-risk individuals and their families are still and always will be Americans.

I'm not against the line of thinking that Mr. LaPierre and President Clinton have espoused. The strategy has utility even given some inherent limitations. I just don't think it's a comprehensive enough investment in the future of a safer America.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reducing Gun Violence Must Ultimately Be a Partnership Between Government and Gun Owners

Also appears at,

Sometimes you have to step back from horror to look for solutions to it.   In the United States, we have seen a pattern of violent behavior emerging for a number of years.  It's become "common" enough that "active shooter" scenario training is now part of the annual cycle of training of most police departments.   Like a piece of shock music, the location changes but the refrain is always the same.  Somehow, a mentally unstable person falls through a crack and acts out violently targeting victims who are easy prey.  The carnage is sensational and stuns the senses universally to the point that we all grasp at anything we can to help soothe our shock.

What is important to remember about the United States in such times is that though the individual responses are artifacts of a vast plurality of views on how to react, the universal commonality of the American People is we are not content to accept such losses as part of the status quo.  We seek the common outcome that our society be less susceptible and less vulnerable to such threats.   We do it noisily like a cacophonous horde wielding placards and pitch forks demanding something be done.   We look to government hoping it may have a panacea and bicker when it cannot deliver.

So I thought I try a different tact.  What if we challenged ourselves, like a huge collective non-government mass of humanity, to solve it.  What are the things we need to bear in mind to manage our expectations and guide our pragmatism?

So let's define a mission.  Let's posit that what we want is to find an immediately implementable set of actions that can tangibly reduce society's susceptibility and vulnerability to sudden emergence mass killing violence.

There are four points of interdiction that are available,
1. The available inventory of weaponry that a perpetrator might access.
2. The point of sale where a specific weapon passes from general inventory into individual possession.
3. The junction in the timeline where the at-risk person gains active control of the weapon to commit the crime.
4. The interdiction of the "active crime" itself to limit the extent of any damage done.

On the first point, guns are not going to go away in the United States for a variety of legitimate reasons.     The inventory of firearms in the United States is vast and it is overwhelmingly used for both recreational and defensive purposes.  There is a clear consensus emerging particularly among lawmakers that the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights is real and has importance that goes beyond any single issue of the moment.   It was placed there to help stabilize and perpetuate the Union and no matter what anyone says it's doubtful that the country could survive without it.   Given this, we need to look at the remaining potential points of interdiction.

This gets us to point of sale controls.  Being pragmatic, this is government's most practical role in the process.   Access control at point of sale is about as good as it gets no matter how many laws are passed by Congress or activated by Executive Order.  It's where manufacturing licensing, eligibility rules, background checks, transfer processing infrastructure and pretty much everything else to do with buying and selling a gun takes place.   For each gun going from legal possessor to legal possessor, the bulk of government's apparatus starts and stop as the firearm is handed from seller to buyer.   From there on, the burden of control rests upon the individual gun owner.

Many people, including myself, are appalled at the inadequate state of the government's infrastructure with regards to managing this category of risk at the point of sale.   Mental health records in the present background system are full of holes you can drive a truck through.   Mental health care for severely ill persons is a national disgrace.   What else can you call a system where state run institutions are long gone, health care providers and their insurers more than anything else "wall off" these inconvenient individuals from the system.   In the meantime, individual families will remain forced to shoulder almost 100 percent of the burden of being care giver and watchdog of their troubled loved ones.

But given the magnitude of the systemic disaster we have perpetrated upon ourselves, mental health reform will not happen overnight.   It takes years to find the funding for, let alone settle upon the rules and train the people who would operate a new system of facilities where observation and treatment of severe risk individuals can be done.  Jails are not the answer.  It's wrong to punish sick people for being sick. Regardless, this is not an active path to a solution that will yield immediate widespread results in terms of lowering the number of mass killing incidents we will see in the next twelve months.

This gets us to interdiction point number three.

Once we get here, government is no longer the main gatekeeper.  It's now up to the individual legal gun owner to ensure that weapons in his or her custody do not pass into the control of an at risk person at the moment that person intends to commit a crime.  That's a very narrow but extremely mission critical circumstance in the overall universe of how people own, store and use firearms in this country.   So rare an event that we don't have very good rules of engagement about what people need do when they sense such a control junction is imminent.   It's narrow because the vast majority of gun owners will never encounter the problem.  It's the very small minority of gun owners who are in at-risk households that quite honestly need guidance and help.

That help has to come from other gun owners.   It's only other gun owners who are familiar with the concepts of firearms safety and the proper storage of firearms who have the necessary skill to assist at-risk households.   There are expectations that gun owners have of each other about making sure firearms and ammunition are kept separate except at one's assigned live firing point; and that designated firing point in a defensive posture could be on one's person.  Regardless, when the firearm is in condition to fire the expectation is that it is under the control and supervision of the legal possessor.

In an at-risk household, the legal owner has a heightened need to be learned of and ensure an elevated level of storage and control.  That means locks.  It could mean disabling everything except the defensive gun in use by taking parts out.  It could mean making and maintaining friendships with other trustworthy gun owners who can take custody of weaponry, when needed, to create additional physical distance safeguards.    People need those friendships to add to their support group for those times when the stress levels of care giving may be so high someone has to be there to let them know they are not alone and abandoned.  These measures -- and I'm sure others that will come to light as people focus on this -- are common sense prudence, require no government action other than positive encouragement, and can be done tomorrow to cause an immediate state change in the degree of danger posed by this type of threat.

Bolstering infrastructure admittedly takes money.   Some at-risk households may be financial impaired in being able to improve their risk management profile.   It's Christmas.  Not a bad time to buy a friend in need a safety present.   It's a good way create the kind of grass roots support groups this country needs.   I've been involved in such people to people solutions in the past and I continue to believe it is the true strength of the United States to overcome anything.

A quick side note about managing unintended consequence risks. I must point out that I am rather uncomfortable with non-gun owners who lack training being an integral part of in the field firearms management.  If one does not know the how's and why's of firearms, you're frankly not qualified.   Gun owners actually see details of procedure and have a culture of correcting each other that's a little hard on the egos of the uninitiated.  I'm very much of the opinion that while one does not have to own a gun to care about this public safety issue, there are minimum skills required and if you don't have them you'll likely do more harm than good.   America has plenty enough gun owners to implement a better form of interdiction point three once we have declared the national resolve to do so.  In the longer term, perhaps it may be prudent that even non-gun owners take the time to at least learn the skills so they can be better equipped to be part of the very one-on-one nature of this aspect of a national safety strategy.  But it's not a burden I would advocate forcing upon people.

Finally we get to interdiction point four.  In the last few days I have lost count of the number of off-the-cuff ideas I've seen on this.  The myth that gun free zones offer greater protection has suffered the "mark to model" failure the mathematics of operations research has always said it would.  It's been replaced by lively diatribe about arming teachers.  I've seen proposals for combat veterans to form guard companies kind of like the Air Marshall Service and other what not.   Everybody's got an idea to fight the zombies.  Some may actually have powerful merit.  Some are just too much caffeine at midnight.   All must be vetted in turn.  It is critical that we deliberate such things in these United States because they are in fact heartfelt responses by Americans seeking to cope with the unthinkable.  The only wrong thing to do here is to close our minds.  What is important to remember about the dynamics of criminal events is that they are fluid.   They are to put it bluntly, predator vs. prey events.   Every offense has a counter.   Every defense has a flaw.  Nothing will work all the time and doing nothing will fail all the time.   I admit that I do see the merits of self-defense in the case of mitigating the amount of damage caused by mass killers.  The answer about how to do it right remains elusive.  But whatever that answer this is the one area where government and gun owner must learn to work far more closely together to get it right.

Wrapping Up

If government does a better job of managing interdiction point two and gun owners do a better job of managing interdiction point three, we will likely need interdiction point four a lot less.   What's a good measure of less?   First let's not kid ourselves.   One cannot entirely eliminate the reality that "slip through the cracks" incidents will happen.  However, pursuing a comprehensive strategy of layers of defense could very well mean that instead of filling the airwaves with the acrimony of rhetoric several times a year we can get to only seeing it happen once every five years or even once a decade.  It's up to all of us to set aside difference to make that happen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reviewing the Bidding About "Stand Your Ground"

This article attempts to perform a stepwise review of issues surrounding what was at the time a highly politicized debate fueled by press coverage of the Zimmerman-Martin case in the State of Florida.

Originally published April 27, 2012 in the Huffington Post,

Recent high-profile current events have called into question legal statutes commonly known as "Stand Your Ground" laws. Sparked by a frenzy of media coverage of a shooting in Florida that is now thankfully winding its way through the real court system, pundits have engaged in weeks of knee jerk tabloid rhetoric.  The press and social media would have you believe that fifty years of social progress in the Unites States never happened.    A good deal of the rhetoric draws on overtones from issues that, while meaningful to the American experience, are just projections by the minds of others upon the actions of the principals involved.

Regardless of the noise, I believe that those calling for a review of these laws have a point.   America is a social experiment that should never be afraid to examine itself in the mirror, no matter how uncomfortable that look into our souls almost always is.  I believe that to properly reflect on these laws we need to look at them from three angles that lend clarity to what is useful about them, and to what needs to be done to balance the needs they address with the social issues they raise.

On the Question of Legitimate Self-Defense

The real world has very real dangers and "Stand Your Ground" laws are, first and foremost, legal affirmations of the right of people to defend themselves against crime.  These laws were specifically designed to strengthen the legal protections afforded the defender in the aftermath of a criminal confrontation, and are heavily in favor of their actions to resist predation up to and including the use of deadly force.  State law in the United States is far from uniform, and not all jurisdictions recognized this right, and in some cases would prosecute persons who defended themselves -- victimizing them a second time.

The primary innovation of these latest iterations of laws is that they extend the right to defend oneself beyond home or place of business, the so-called Castle Doctrine, to defending oneself anywhere a criminal attempts to victimize them.  To be effective, these laws require what is called a "credible deterrent."  This is why they tend to be enacted in parallel with changes in firearms laws that facilitate equipping a person with a workable means to defend himself against violent, armed criminals.  Regardless of one's views on gun control, from a tactical perspective there is little to refute the notion that the tool of choice against a criminal with a firearm is, in fact, another firearm wielded by a defender with superior weapons proficiency.  And so we see the emergence of statutes that are generally known as Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) Permit laws, which in most jurisdictions come with an elevated training requirement in order to obtain said permit.

The combination of the two thus creates a crime risk management regime based on principles of deterrence against predation that equalize the engagement odds, significantly raise the perception of risk to the criminal, incent them to ply their illicit trade elsewhere and, as a last recourse,  increase the attrition rate of violent criminals over time.  In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is not meant to be a politically polite narrative that coddles a sub-culture of wrongdoers.

An operative aspect of these laws is that society does not actually need 100 percent of the population to take on a stand-your-ground outlook and armed-carry lifestyle to achieve the desired criminal deterrence effect.   In fact, only a small portion of the public needs do so to create sufficient uncertainty of risk in the mind of the criminal sufficient to alter behavior patterns.  The rest of society can free ride, even disdainfully so, so long as they don't advertise that they are a helpless mark.
This brings up the first policy question.  Regardless of whether you participate or free ride, do you believe that law-abiding citizens should, or should not, be able to resist crime in a manner unfettered by laws that restrict or punish them for doing so?   If you do, then the direction of the evolution of these SYG laws and their accompanying CCW laws should make some -- even if uncomfortable -- sense to you.

On the Question of Acceptable Conduct in Non-Defensive Confrontational Situations

If there's a hole in the design of the SYG + CCW laws it's that it is too silent on the expectations of conduct by persons in confrontational but not defensive situations.   These laws were designed for the purpose of enabling lethal-force-level defense against violent criminal threats.
Where these laws are running into problems seems to be in situations which the laws were not originally designed for.  For instance, situations where the problem is philosophical, political or emotional should probably be more strongly tied to a burden of extraordinary proof of attempts by both parties to de-escalate the situation, extract from the situation, or otherwise lose gracefully.   Similarly, persons creating potentially violence escalating scenarios where other pathways for solving the problem are available would seem to merit looking at additional statutory treatment.   An armed individual does seem to me have an extraordinary responsibility to be part of at least attempting in good faith to manage down the tensions of the moment.  Well, actually, don't we all have a responsibility as fellow citizens to do that anyway?

This brings up the second policy question.  How does one engage all parties in a constructive dialog to add a new body of legal guidance to further define the circumstances and expectations of people in confrontational, but not defensive, situations?  Our cultural differences combined with our hot heads do bring to mind that old Jeffersonian term, "frailties of man."   This is a very different line of legislative remedy evolution from the knee jerk calls to junk these laws.   But as I ponder the call to action of recent events, this seems to be where work needs to be done.

On the Question of Civility among People of Differing Ideologies

Changes in operational security procedure -- and this is what SYG+ CCW is -- have consequences.  These consequences run deeper into our social fabric than we realize.   Laws that build a society with a mixture of armed and unarmed citizens bring change to the dynamic of civility among the law abiders.   Such a social compact becomes co-dependent in providing for the common defense and -- oh the horror --we actually have to acknowledge goodness in people we may have been otherwise politically uncivil to.   People like well-armed minorities, liberals, conservatives, gays and lesbians, Muslims and the catch-all bucket that now apparently includes all white and mixed race folk.  They may share only one thing in common.  They are all law abiding Americans.

This need to see each other with real tolerance can and does perplex a lot of people.  Politicians, lobbyists, academics and really hard core prejudiced -- racial and political -- people in particular would be very threatened if the general population actually discovered how much more we have in common than the spin they use to keep us apart.

All this means that we need to learn how to disagree intellectually -- even passionately so -- while at the same time valuing and respecting each other in those things having to do with our common interests.  That can be a lot to ask of a people that have at times confused politics with real life.  And it brings us to confronting our last policy question.

Should the expectation of tolerance and civility between citizens become a renewed priority of American domestic policy?   In some ways this question asks,  is being what makes us American still important to us?   It's a vital question that goes to the very heart of our national identity.
If you say yes, it implies changing our political landscape to dismantle or moderate the political institutions and special interests that impede the social connectedness we need.   It means altering our human expectations of each other and the subtle cues we give each other in everyday life that help us separate allies from foes on our streets and in our hearts.   You can say yes, I'd like to change it so that we see each other through new eyes.   If enough people say so, leaders will either fall in line with this consensus or be replaced.

You can also say no, others be damned, I'd rather hang on to my piece of my world.  But bear in mind that the history of the world is strewn with examples of this path leading to the very different conclusion of a country much closer to an aristocratic caste which controls the fate of a third-world-style nation of second class citizens.  That usually doesn't end well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The SKS for 100-yard Highpower? A Reminder of California Before the Bullet Button AR-15's

The U.S. Service Rifle M-16 and it's commercial AR-15 spawn are arguably the single series rifles that most fits the intent of promoting good standards for a "well regulated" citizenry.  So much so that it was mentioned as such during the Supreme Court's deliberations on the subject by Justice Ginsberg.  It has rightfully become the most popular rifle in the country.  It has become as ubiquitous as the bolt-action rifle that revolutionized all aspects of firearms use at the beginning of the 20th century.

The availability of California Legal variation of the M-16/AR-15 competition platform with legal 10-round fixed magazines that have "safety critical" bullet button technology incorporated into the modified lower receivers has made the State of California a competitive home for high-power competitors.  It allowed the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team to win the prestigious Infantry Trophy at Camp Perry, something not done by a civilian team in decades and never by a junior team in the history of national competition since it was established following the report to Congress by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 on the need to promote rifle practice due to the sorry state of American marksmanship in the Spanish-American War.

Still, the 2012 variations of the California adapted AR-15's, while usable for competition and recreational shooting, remain tactically clumsy in comparison to the standard versions of the genre available to most citizens of the United States of America.  Any real expert in firearms knows this.   Anyone who does not reveals only how little they know about guns.

What follows is an old article originally penned in 2006 from the days before the "bullet button" existed. The objective of the project was to set up a high-power competition training rifle that could be used by a shooter still sensitive to the M-1 Garand.  It was a gun limited to 100-yard reduced range events, a woeful coping strategy at best to explore a field of competition that is one of the apexes of the rights of citizenship.   The need at the time was particularly acute for a junior training in California where it remains illegal for a minor to even handle a California statutory registered assault weapon.

A Desperate Shooting Project:
Improving the SKS for 100-yard Reduced Course Competition

The SKS rifle is an excellent rugged rifle capable of remarkable shooting accuracy but it suffers from deficiencies that detract from it's potential in its original military use designed configuration.

HERE's THE FLAW: The SKS rear sight design suffers from a too short sight radius that amplifies elevation errors in the sight picture but more important it wobbles from side-to -side several MOA under light finger pressure. The randomness is at typically greater than 6 to 8 MOA, larger than the bullseye of an NRA SR target.  So much for windage repeatability. The gun actually shoots where the sights point. It's where the sights are pointing that changes from shot to shot.

The gun was intended for delivering fire employed by soldiers on the move where such drawbacks are not of great concern. For target shooting however, something rock steady with the longest possible sight radius is called for.


A company named Tech-Sights makes a sight that seems to address this deficiency. The unit doubles the sight radius and zeros the side-to-side play of the rear sight. It also sets up an aperture rear which is a much better sight for precision shooting. Elevation zero is done by adusting the front sight. No wind zero can be done by setting the rear to mechanical center and adjusting the SKS front sight to center the hits. Quite an improvement!

Tech-Sights also has an elevation adjustable rear version. Examined of it reveals that it is not useful for competitive purposes.   More useful would be a variation that uses the attachment approach of the sight onto the rifle but with the rear sight itself using M-16A2 sight parts.  That I would very much like to see.

Note: While Tech-Sights says it's optional to use the locking screw to tighten down the sight to the gun, it is in fact essential. It does shoot loose with predictable regularity unless this precaution is used. The rule of thumb to remember is that no manufacturer ever adds an extra piece of machined steel in the box unless there was a need for it.


A rubber butt extension has been placed on the rifle to provide more appropriate eye positioning with respect to the new rear sight. It makes a big difference and should be considered essential. And it's much cheaper than any aftermarket stock.

I have experimented with various aftermarket stocks for the SKS; specifically, the ATI Monte Carlo stock and the Choate Sporter stock. The ATI is quite solid but the cheekpiece is set up for scoped rifles and does not work well with the TS100 sights. This stock seems better suited for a forward mounted optic project but that's not what we are working towards here.

The Choate stock is made from thin material, flexes in your hand and the action moves around in the stock. These are not ideal for a target gun. The stock does however have a very nice hand grip compared to the military stock particularly for providing better purchase for the ring and pinky fingers to grab. It has potential for exploring adding a cross bolt and bedding compounds to tighten the bedding of the action.

In the end there is a strong case to choose to continue to use the original military stock. The reason is because of the cross bolt in the military stock that creates a solid bedding for the rifle. It wedges the barrel at the action/barrel junction and in combination with the clamping action of the trigger assembly and recoil lug at the rear of the action provides two points of solid contact for the action. The barrel then free floats forward of the cross bolt. It's both solid and rugged.  Neither of the aftermarket SKS stocks tested afforded this superior bedding method. So for target rifle purposes, stick with the better bedding solution.

For match shooting be sure to lighten the barrel mass by removing excess metal objects like the bayonet. Also, there needs to be a sling mount point on the fore end for the sitting and prone positions. Using the mount point on the barrel defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.


With the new sights in the military stock the gun now shoots in the 1" to 2" range at 100-yards using surplus ammunition. That is plenty good enough for club level competitions.

Using stripper clips, the rifle can perform well in the rapid fire stages of a highpower match.

Elevation adjustments are workable and repeatable using an SKS sight tool to adjust the front sight in a manner rather similar to using an M-16A1 sight system. Interestingly, because the SKS front sight is a continuous screw instead of a detent like the M-16 design, even finer adjustments are possible.

The training system is limited to fixed distance reduced course work but it should work well enough for either 100-yd or 200-yd training matches.

Bottom line.  This is not a substitute for a properly tuned match grade AR-15 with a 1-7/1-8 twist free floated barrel firing match quality ammunition.  The reality remains that you still need a real "competition rifle" to be anything respectable in this segment of the shooting sports.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Correct AJP 4/47 Target Sight for a .303 British SMLE No.4 Mk1

The Lee-Enfield rifle has fascinated me ever since I bought my first Savage No.4 Mk1* in the 1970's  I picked it out of a drum at a gun shop.  The "U.S. Property" stamp indicating it had once been a World War II Lend-Lease rifle spoke deeply to a young man who grew up hearing the echoes of that war in the Fisher Wounds that lingered in my parents and grandparents.

As I took up the sport of U.S. style high-power rifle competition learning first with a Springfield Armory M1A back in the day they were still made from surplus TRW parts and later with the rapidly evolving AR-15 Service Rifle, I would turn back to the Lee-Enfield and wonder about how it fit into the grander scheme of things.  There were books but these were merely remote curiosities.  The advent of the internet and the connectivity it enabled across the planet beginning in the late 1990's changed all of that.  Suddenly, these ideas and these parts were no longer so remote.

Originally written 9/7/2005.

The Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk1 set up for target shooting with an AJP 4/47 micrometer rear sight, a tuned Huber trigger and a U.S. rifle sling.  This one has an unusually accurate barrel.  It loves 174 gr. Sierra Mach Kings.
I've been hunting for an AJP 4/47 rear sight with the markings calibrated for the Mk VII .303 cartridge since 1977. You see other AJP 4/47's calibrated for the later L42 rifles in 7.62x51mm NATO but the truly correct sight is the early example made for the .303's These sights are intricate examples of precision machining now sadly found only in the most expensive of Olympic target sights. Patience and the internet have yielded the Holy Grail at long last. Thank you Andrew in New Zealand!

A.J. Parker 4/47 sight.

This view shows the replacement ejector screw which is longer than the original. Notice the hex head. They are made by Scott Stonehill at Evans Obsolete Screws in Evans, GA (706)863-7572,

This is a no-modifications mounted sight.  After tapping out the issue rear sight and removing the original ejector screw, the AJP 4/47 is attached to the rifle.  This view shows the replacement ejector screw on the left side of the rifle.
This view shows the other hex head mounting screw for the sight. The AJP 4/47 requires no modifications to the rifle. Simply remove the original sight, in this case it was an L-flip late model rear sight, and install the target sight in the existing holes.

This view shows the attachment screw on the right side of the rifle.  Note that these screws use a British pitch which is why one goes to Scott Stonehill for the parts.
All set up and ready to sight in once some 174 gr. HPBT can be assembled. This rifle should make quite the splash when it shows up at a long range high-power competition line.

The AJP 4/47 is 1/2 x 1/2 MOA micrometer sight that is no slouch compared even to current generation high-end Centra or Phoenix match sights.  The dial precisely and repeatably. 
Providence sometimes smiles.  For a Big 5 Sporting Goods special, it has a bright shiny bore and the barrel floats perfectly out of the middle of its sturdy military stock. I actually bought this gun on a whim. I was shopping for gym socks.  I felt something special when I picked it up.  Good guns have a certain tightness and resonance you can just feel.

The Huber trigger can be adjusted to give an excellent crisp single stage break for target shooting.
The ball bearing target trigger installed in the rifle. The trigger remains a single stage system using the original sear and cocking piece. Sear engagement is set for 0.015 or better. This trigger is smooth as silk and breaks like glass. It performed with excellence at 1000-yards shooting surplus Mk VII ammunition on 9/4/05.


7/2014 - In the years since this article I have shot this gun many times.  It has performed admirably at club matches and I've done the Mad Minute with it a few times.  Drives like a dream.