A couple months ago I walked into a local gun store just to check it out. I actually was shopping for a .22 pistol but ended up walking out with a new AR-15. Why? Why not. It was there. It’s a Bushmaster, which isn’t my #1 choice, but these days beggars can’t be choosers.
Until last night I kept the rifle locked up. I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it. After much thought I opted to keep it, so last night I broke it out, gave it a cleaning and lubrication, and packed up my range bag so I could head to the range in the morning to get her broken in and zeroed in. So what follows here are a bunch of random thoughts and experiences from it all.
Zeroing and the RIBZ
I opted to zero it with the Revised Improved Battlesight Zero. The rifle has the detachable carry handle and thus the A2-style rear sight, so RIBZ made perfect sense. It must be noted that the specifics of RIBZ is made for a 20″ AR shooting M855 and other such things. So while it works for a carbine-length AR shooting .223 55gr FMJ Georgia Arms Canned Heat, the measurements might be a little off… or rather, you’ll just have to find the exact settings that make it “on” for you.
That said, RIBZ worked out fantastic. I had reindexed the rear sight elevation the evening before. Set the target at 50 yards, set the rear at “6/3 -4″, and started. I shot 3 rounds and realized I blew the clothespin off the target holder … very high and to the right. 🙂 Made some major adjustments to the front sight post (as expected) to adjust the elevation. I do think I’ll eventually want to get that 0.040” taller front sight post from Bushmaster… it’s stable but exposed, so the taller post would be welcome. I also had to really crank over the windage, which bothered me, but I think it’s because the rear sight is tilted as if under some torque from spring pressure, so I’m guessing I had to compensate with some left adjustment just to get things to line up because the rear sight is actually a little “crooked”. Hopefully that’s the case. We’ll eventually see.
Once I had it working well at 50 yards, I moved to 100 yards, adjusted the rear elevation to “6/3 -6” and wow. Right in there! I was amazed at how well RIBZ worked. I brought her in to 25 yards and an elevation of “6/3 +5”. While that was the RIBZ recommendation from the arfcom thread, it wound up that “6/3 +2” actually worked better for me at 25 yards. I also tried 15 yards which wound up at “4” but I’m not sold on that… I think at 15 yards we don’t have much trajectory difference given how close the bullet is to having just left the barrel, so it’s all about holdover.
Nevertheless, I was most impressed with the results of the RIBZ. I need to take my Rock River Arms AR with the fixed back-up rear sight and RIBZ it at 50 yards.
Note that RIBZ is done with the small rear aperture. The larger aperture is designed for 0-200 yard/meter shooting. So what to do? Set the rear sight at the 200 meter mark (6/3 -4, same as 50 yards), flip to the larger aperture, and off you go. I tried this, shooting offhand (all the zeroing work was done from the bench), and it worked out fantastic for what it’s supposed to do: getting you roughly on paper at distances from 0 to 200 yards/meters, hitting a “chest sized” target. Yes you still have to know your holdover for closer-in shots, but man, the zeroing worked out great. I’m pleased.
As I said, the ammo I used was Georgia Arms Canned Heat. I like that stuff. Works pretty well, I have no complaints. Good plinking ammo. If you want to buy me a present, a 1000 round can of .223 55gr FMJ is welcome. 🙂
What I really wanted to try was Hornady TAP .223 Rem 75 grain. I’ve spoken at length about my preferred home defense tool, and I keep her loaded with TAP 75 grain. If you want to know more about Hornady TAP, take a look at The Ammo Oracle’s blurb on it. My Rock River has a 1:8 twist and the TAP performs beautifully out of it. It’s my understanding that the Bushmaster’s 1:9 twist is on the cusp of being able to stabilize the TAP bullet. I really wanted it to stablize so I could use a single type of ammo and a better one. That is, I didn’t want to have to use the 75 grain TAP in the Rock River and 60 grain in the Bushmaster…. too complicated. I also didn’t want to have to drop down to the 60 grain for both because I believe the 55 grain and 60 grain use a different bullet than the 75 grain, and the 75 grain’s is better. So I was quite pleased when shooting the 75 grain TAP that it shot just fine out of my Bushmaster carbine. Whoo! 8)
I have to say, overall the Bushmaster isn’t bad. It’s certainly lighter than my Rock River, which bodes well for the kids or Wife. It does need break-in. The trigger felt a little rough, but it smoothed out a bit. My buddy foo.c told me about a technique he read to help trigger break-in:
Lube the trigger up with CLP, set it muzzle down (and empty of course) and pull the charging handle back, pull trigger, pull charging handle back, release trigger, pull trigger …. repeat 200 times quickly. Clean the trigger group and relube. That will smooth it out.
I gave it a try. I don’t know how many pulls I gave the trigger, but quite a lot. I will say it’s smoothing out and feels a lot better now than it did last night. There’s still a few things about it tho:
- There’s still a little “bump” in there. It’s difficult to describe, but right at the start there’s a tiny bump in the trigger. If you’re trying a slow smooth trigger press you’ll feel a little bump. I’m not sure if this will smooth out. It’s not horrible tho and since it’s right at the start, you can even look at it as take-up (but it’s not).
- It’s heavy. It feels a bit better after some break-in, but it’s still a heavy trigger pull. Certainly heavier than my Rock River.
- It’s a single-stage trigger. Boy, my Rock River spoils me there with its 2-stage trigger. I came to appreciate that trigger even more after using this Bushmaster trigger.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad trigger, I’m just spoiled by other triggers.
What really gets me about Bushmaster is their website. There’s an amazing load of information there. Check out these animations of how an AR works. They have a huge FAQ section, which while somewhat Bushmaster-specific still contains a lot of great and useful information about AR’s. There’s just a lot of neat stuff there. One of the more useful websites from a firearms manufacturer that I’ve seen. Kudos to them.
Shooting and my eyes
This was an unexpected highlight of my day.
I shot with both eyes open.
I’ve been trying to do this for some time but it’s been difficult. It really is a better way to shoot, but it’s tough to do it. Most people have to train themselves to get to that point, and some people just can’t do it. But today for whatever reason I was able to do it. I’ve been trying to and been working on it, but today it just came together.
What was awesome? Everything I shot with both eyes open shot better than with one eye closed. Accuracy was far improved. I was floored, but pleasantly so.
Hopefully this wasn’t just a fluke of today or of shooting this particular rifle (I have a theory). We’ll see how well it works out with the other guns. Hopefully it will continue and refine and improve.
So, that was my day, at least gun-related stuff. Quite pleased with how the day went. Got some things off the to-do list, and discovered I’m a step further towards shooting with both eyes open.