Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

AR500 IPSC Etched Steel TargetI love shooting steel targets: There is just nothing like the “ping” you get when you drop a shot onto a steel target. The weekly match at LouLand that I shoot quite often is pretty much 100% steel targets and is just a hoot to shoot.

So when I was contacted by MK Machining to review some of their products*, I was eager to try out a unique product they offer, a scaled-down AR500 IPSC Metric steel target that’s etched with the scoring zones for IPSC competitions.

Cool.

The scoring lines on the 1/2 scale target I was sent are cut in with a water jet cutter, and they are clear and well-defined. Scoring them in a match might be a bit of challenge, however: Steel splatter does NOT leave a grease ring, so your overlays are useless with this target**.

In order to see how those scoring lines held up under fire, I set up the target on the firing line at Step By Step Gun Training‘s “Shoot and Scoot” event this month, and I, along with 20 or so other students shot at it to our heart’s content.

I didn’t watch the target like a hawk, so have no idea on the total number of rounds, but I know I myself put 100 round of 115gr 9mm FMJ and 50 rounds of 220gr .45 ACP FMJ into it, and I saw other students in the class plinking away at it as well, so let’s say we put at least 200 rounds into it over the course of a Saturday morning.

And here’s what the target looked like after we were done.
AR 500 Steel Target for USPSA
The etched markings held up great: They were straight and none of the lines showed any dents or collapsing from the impact of all those rounds.

I didn’t repaint the steel after the shoot was over, but I did chat with a representative of MK Machining about the viability of applying layer after layer of paint on top of the target after each shooter is done with the course of fire, and he said that was never a problem with their testing. Apparently, it takes a LOT of paint to clog up those etched scoring lines, and if it ever gets to be too much, a few minutes worth of effort with a flathead screwdriver will clean them up nicely.

If you love shooting steel but want to work on getting valid hits beyond “anywhere in the C Zone” or you run a steel match and want to add in an element of IPSC/USPSA scoring into a stage, check out these targets from MK Machining.

* They sent it to me for review… get it, FCC?
** And having shot on squads that were chock-full of rules lawyers, that’s probably not a bad thing…

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1596 – 1795

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1596 – 1795

I brought the Colt to one of Step By Step Gun Training’s “Shoot And Scoot” events to work on my  movement and splits on a stage. The Shoot And Scoots are good for this sort of thing, as the stages are very simple and scores are not kept.

I didn’t keep track of my speed from run to run, but rather, concentrated on speeding up my movement and seeing the sights well enough to speed up my follow-up shots.

Overall, I’m pleased with this gun, and I’ll be shooting it often after the test is done. I put 200 rounds of Remington UMC .45ACP ammo through the gun, with no drama at all.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
200 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

1795 Rounds Fired
One Double Feed, Round #1347 (Remington UMC)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1568 (MagTech Defender)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1574 (MagTech Defender)

“I Just Want To Say ‘Good Luck, We’re All Counting On You’.”

“I Just Want To Say ‘Good Luck, We’re All Counting On You’.”

I’ll never forget the complete and utter feeling of helplessness I had, years and years ago, when we walked out of the hospital with the eight-pound bundle of cute stuffed into a car seat that was our first child.

“WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO NOW????” was the only thing that was going through our minds as we drove home. Yes, the hospital gave us a two-hour lecture on how to raise a kid and yes, I had already changed a couple of diapers and had been spit up on a few times, but neither of us had any clue about how to raise up another human being.

Fortunately for my wife and I, we had grandparents who knew what do, and guided us along the way to where we are now, with two healthy teenaged boys in the house. It was their previous experience and wisdom that allowed us to make good choices about how to we would perform the full-time job of raising our sons.

Now pause for a second.

Years ago, in my first CCW class, I had about two hours of hands-on training on how to shoot a gun, and even that amount wasn’t required to get a permit in Arizona. I was lucky: Because I shot at one of the best ranges in the country, there were people there that could and would help me undertake the full-time job of carrying a firearm. I was fortunate, but most people aren’t, and as such, the vast majority of people who get a concealed carry permit never carry their guns on a regular basis… They were never taught how to do it every single day.

You don’t raise a child on the days that you think you FEEL you should raise a child… you do it every day, whether you feel like it or not.

And you don’t carry a gun to protect your children on the days that you FEEL you should carry one… you do it every day, whether you feel like it or not.

… And All That Jazz

… And All That Jazz

I’ve been thinking a bit about what makes a “lifestyle of guns” recently, and I realized once again that there’s really nothing you can add on to Gun Culture 2.0 to make it into a lifestyle.

With the hunting that was/is central to Gun Culture 1.0, there was all the stuff associated with going into the outdoors in attempt to blast Bambi or one of his woodland friends into oblivion. Tents, flashlights, camp stoves… you name it, you needed it to go out into the woods. Heck, even I splurged for a pair of snake-resistant boots for my hunting trip.

But for Gun Culture 2.0, there is really else to buy to make it a lifestyle, because it’s all about integrating guns into our current lifestyle rather than building an idyllic vision of the countryside that smacks of Rosseau (with guns).

When I go shoot a match, aside from my guns and ammo, I use pretty much the same gear (car, gas, etc) I use to go grocery shopping. The same is true when I travel for a class: Aside from the guns, I might as well be going on a business trip.

This is really going to hinder any attempts to non-gun sponsorship money into Gun Culture 2.0, because why should Miller Lite spend their ad buck with Daniel Defense when they could spend it with NASCAR?

Now, there are exceptions to this rule. Brownells is teaming up with a UFC fighter, and that makes a lot of sense. More is needed though.

Hmmn, This Could Be Interesting.

Hmmn, This Could Be Interesting.

ShootingClasses.com bills itself as “Online Class Management For Instructors.” In the email that they sent me after I signed up, they describe their site as:

Guided by industry expertise and instructor feedback, ShootingClasses.com is an online system that simplifies the administrative side of the teaching process for instructors, helps students find an instructor in their area and even allows range owners to connect with instructors and students.

Interesting idea. I’ve been batting around doing something similar, as there is no “one stop shop” for finding out about new training opportunities in any given area (I found out about the SouthNarc and Vogel classes near me by accident), so someplace that lists all opportunities in a given area would be really useful.

Plus there’s the whole registration thing, where people are using a mishmash of EventBrite and WordPress plugins and all kinds of other stuff to sign up people online. This site might solve a bunch of problems at once.

Flash Site Pictures.

Flash Site Pictures.

I reviewed the Walther PPQ SC for Shooting Illustrated. It’s honestly hard to review guns these days, because it’s hard to find something wrong with guns these days. We are in a golden age of guns, which is great if you’re a consumer, but sucks if you’re looking to write a spicy review.

Oh, and I also channeled my inner Claude Werner and wrote an article on practicing at an indoor range.

I’ve carried concealed in an Inside-The-Waistband holster since Day One, so carrying in an Outside-The-Waistband holster took some getting used to, but I can see why people like it.

Speaking of Claude Werner, he’s got a great look at what’s really important for armed citizens.

Walmart is getting into the premium outdoor gear market. If they’re smart, they’ll learn from the mistakes that Dick’s have made and sell the sort of guns (AR-15s) they won’t sell in their big box stores.

How good is good enough? B Class USPSA, ish. Which is almost where I am, and that’s pretty cool.

You know what? 995 yards is a very, very long ways away.

Project ULTRA

Project ULTRA

In addition to being a gun nut, I’m a bit of a theme park / roller coaster nerd, so when something like this pops up that combines those two worlds, it piques my interest.

What happens when you attempt to create a living world, 100% immersed in the theme of a fictional universe? A world in which both employees and guests are encouraged to live and dress the part 24-hours a day? Before too long the world will find out.

To take that once step beyond, what happens when gun tourism goes full special operator, and you have something like The Jack Ryan Experience combined with a nice hotel that goes full Taran Butler / John Wick?

 

After Action Report: Florida Firearms Training 2 Day Long Range Rifle Class.

After Action Report: Florida Firearms Training 2 Day Long Range Rifle Class.

I’ve been remiss in following up on my class from a couple of weeks ago, so here’s the AAR.

This is my third class with Will and his crew: The first was a brief pepper spray class, the second was a hog hunting class that netted me 150+ pounds of free-range pork products, and now this class on theory and practice of hitting a target that is quite a long ways away.

I’ve had my Savage 16 for four years now, but to be honest, before this class, I had never even come CLOSE to getting what I could out of that gun. I didn’t chrono my loads, I was shooting ammo that wasn’t up to the task of long-range shooting (surplus 7.62 NATO from Greece is nobody’s first choice in target ammo), and to be honest, I just didn’t get along with the Millett optic I was using.

I upgraded to a Primary Arms 4-14 MOA scope, changed over to Federal 168 SMKs, and went to Florida Firearms Training to get serious about the long-range game.

Right off the bat, Will and his co-instructor Brad helped de-mystify the elements of long-range shooting that had eluded my grasp, and rather than teach us to shoot their way, thy emphasized the need for consistency in all things such as shooting position and ammunition in order to deliver consistent results. For instance, I had been taught that after you got into a shooting position, you wanted to “load up” your bipod by pressing forward on it slightly. However, as instructor Brad pointed out, there is really no way to do that sort of thing consistently, so the benefit your get from it (a more stable shooting position) is outweighed by inconsistency it introduces into your shot.

Makes sense.

After a half-day in the classroom, it was off to the range to chrono our loads, sight in our guns, set up our ballistic calculators and start to get some DOPE on our rifles. I was pleased to see that my gun was holding MOA and also pleased that my gun and ammo were dead-on to Strelok at 200 yards.

Okeechobee 500 yard range

That’s “only” 400 yards from the firing line.

The next day is when the fun really began. We shot at 100 yards to confirm zero, and then started to push ourselves out to 200, 300 and 400 yards, getting data on how our guns, optics and ammo were all working together, and then it was time for the 500 yard shot.

Where I pinged a 12×12 piece steel on the very first try. I’ll take it.

After that, we did some timed drills engaging targets at various distances, confirming DOPE and gaining confidence to make the shot when needed, and it worked, because later that week I went to Training Grounds to make the 1000 yard shot for an upcoming article, and whereas before, I could barely hit the berm out beyond 300 yards, I was getting first-round hits on steel plates out to 800 yards.

Not bad.

If you’re looking to ramp up your long-range shooting for either hunting or competing in Precision Rifle, give Florida Firearms Training a call. If they can turn me into a cut-rate Carlos Hathcock, they can help you, too.

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Gun Owners?

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Gun Owners?

Extending out the gay rights analogy that I’ve used before, how much of the bigotry against gays in the 80’s* was based on the fear of AIDS? People thought that to drink from a glass that a gay person drunk from was instant death, and that’s not even mentioning the irrational fear that AIDS would transfer over en masse to the straight community.

So people were shunning a minority based on a irrational, superstitious fear that just being around that minority might cause them to die.

Why does that sound so familiar….


* Having gay friends and straight friends in the 80’s was rather sad in some ways because I knew people in my circle of friends who would have gotten along great with each other, had it not been for the fact that one was gay and one couldn’t handle that fact. It was sad to watch people intentionally lead a smaller life, just because they couldn’t conquer their prejudices.

Narrative Matters.

Narrative Matters.

First off, pretty much every single firearms trainer out there needs to watch this short video on how to give a presentation.

It’s given by Garr Reynolds, who makes his living helping the world’s biggest companies do better presentations, and it got me thinking…

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I took my CCW class many years ago, my teacher told me that only one in three of us would take the steps needed to make concealed carry a regular part of our life.

Firearms trainers are pretty good at teaching technique, where we suck, however, is helping people live a new lifestyle. This is because we approach concealed carry as a thing to be learned, not a life to be led.

Duh.

Make your course about how their lives will change for the better. Mix in some fear because it is a scary world, after all, but give them a reason to WANT to carry their guns, rather than a fear that they need to carry them or they’ll die.

Don’t just survive, but thrive.