Thursday, May 17, 2018

Shooting AR and AK Pistols and "Non-shotgun" Shotgun-style Firearms

         I was recently watching a video reviewing the FightLite SCR Pistol (the video is embedded below). 

As you will notice, the SCR Pistol uses a Raptor grip. The Mossberg Shockwave and  Remington Tac-14 also use the Raptor grip. Watching the problems that the reviewer had with holding and aiming the SCR Pistol reminded me of the recent video from Lucky Gunner criticizing the Shockwave.

         And that is the issue, of course: how to hold and aim the weapon.

         Obviously, shooting from the hip is inaccurate unless you practice and become proficient (and it takes a lot of practice), and even then, you have to have your body and the weapon positioned just right in order to score a hit.

          It appears that the only reliable method to use with the weapons sporting Raptor grips is to raise the weapon up so that you can see the sight (with your elbow sticking out to the side), pushing forward with your shooting hand, while simultaneously pulling backward with your hand gripping the handguard. I would note that Gabe Suarez recommends the push/pull method of holding these style of weapons when shooting. The producer of the video immediately below also attempts different methods of shooting a Tac-14, and you can see how they are impracticable except for the push/pull method.

Other weapons can be even more challenging. For instance, a shotgun outfitted with a pistol grip does not lend itself to the push/pull method. (Watch the video below where the InRange team test the pistol grip only shotgun).

The same problems apply to the pistol versions of AKs, ARs, or other weapon systems originally intended as long arms. That is probably why some gun writers have referred to such weapons as "almost-useless range toys." Another gun writer rhetorically asked "What do you get that you don’t get from a AR rifle?" His answer:
Increased maneuverability.  The short barrel would be useful in urban combat situations.  That is all I can come up with.  I’m not trying to raise anyone’s hackles — I simply cannot come up with a single other benefit.
       Nevertheless, pistol versions of ARs and other weapons seem to be increasing in popularity as of late, especially in pistol calibers. Part of this popularity is undoubtedly due to the current interest in pistol caliber carbines (PCCs).

        Also, and probably more importantly, the ATF has determined that pistol stabilizing braces can be shouldered when shooting a pistol. This allows someone to purchase a pistol and brace, and, for all intents and purposes, have an SBR without the tax and hassle of going through the paperwork. In fact, there are some advantages to this route: you don't need to inform the ATF when you will be crossing states lines with the pistol as you do with the SBR, and some states do not allow you to carry a loaded rifle in your vehicle or concealed (so the SBR could not be carried, but the pistol could). The only downside, really, is that you can't install a vertical foregrip on a pistol.

      However, the ATF had waffled on this issue once, and given that the ATF appears to be headed to reversing its original decision on bump-fire stocks, I would not be surprised if the ATF again changes its decision as to pistol braces. Particularly as many newer designs offer the same functionality as an adjustable stock, and manufacturers and reviewers are not even pretending that the braces are for anything but shouldering. While we are still allowed to do so, though, the pistol arm brace certainly makes it much easier to steady and fire the short barreled weapons as we've been discussing. (See, e.g., the video below of Gabe Suarez showing off his Stakeout shotgun-type weapon using an arm brace).

       The other benefit of using the pistol arm brace is that it allows you to use standard sights on such weapons. Speaking as to those weapons sporting rifle sights, the majority of such sights (particularly those designed for the AR weapon system) are useless if the weapon is held out at arm's length. This necessitates bringing the weapon in close to the face, finding a pistol style iron sight, or attaching a reflex or red dot style sight.

       But what if you don't want to use a pistol brace or, heaven forbid, the ATF decides shooters can't shoulder the weapons? Then you are stuck with the push/pull method (made a lot easier if you have a single point sling that you can attach to the back of the receiver or frame of the weapon which can provide the pull--the bungee cord slings work especially well for this; although it changes it from push/pull, to just push).

       This is one area, however, where the AR pistol stands out. When putting together my AR pistol, I originally thought that the buffer tube sticking out the back was a negative. It made the weapon longer and, let's face, makes it look sort of funny. But even if you can't shoulder the weapon, the buffer tube can be used to obtain a cheek weld. While not as good as a stock would be at controlling recoil, it nevertheless provides a third point of contact for steadying the weapon when aiming. And with the appropriate covering (I used a dense rubber foam cover like those you find on the end of a shovel handle), it isn't too bad. Of course, I have a lot more shooting to do before I can definitively say I am foregoing a brace.

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