My lovely wife recently bought me a couple gifts. One was a new stripped upper receiver from BCM. I asked for it because I was frustrated that the ELCAN would not mount up on the old Spikes Tactical one. Once I had the new receiver in hand, she noted that I was not rushing to have the barrel remounted. I mentioned that I was waiting until I could install a new rail as well, since I wanted to commit to a lighter and handier carbine. She surprised me with a 13″ BCM KMR-A a few days later.
After my last range session out with Ascalon, the RECCE, I was frustrated that the configuration just wasn’t meeting my needs The 2.5-10×32 scope on top was simply too much magnification for the type of shooting I’ve been doing with such a light carbine. At the same time, the excellent ELCAN SpecterOS4x that I’ve been running on the 20″ musket really is an ideal RECCE optic, since its BDC is tailored to a 16″ barrel and it is relatively lightweight.
This new configuration feels noticeably lighter and snappier than the previous iteration, and significantly more so than the Musket (which feels positively weighty in comparison). This is also my first experience with keymod, and I gotta say that I’m pretty happy with it. Mounting accessories is much easier than the Rainier/Samson Evolution rail that I was running before. This feels much more like a great general purpose carbine, which was the original intent.
The musket is now set up in my own approximation of the Marine SAM-R (Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle) with the 2.5-10 scope. Why would the scope that I was frustrated by on the lightweight 16″ upper be any better on a 20″ barrel?
It comes down to a question of balance. A rifle with a slight forward balance will better “hang” on target by helping mitigate wobble and provide a more stable sight picture. As I noted when shooting Ascalon the last time, the rifle was lightweight enough, particularly in the front end, that any movements I made were frustratingly visible through the scope. The 20″ Musket, with its balance point sitting about a half inch forward of the delta ring, is much more front heavy than Ascalon (whose balance point now sits towards the rear of the magazine well).
My theory, which will have to get tested through range sessions, is that I will be happier with the 2.5-10×32 on the Musket rather than the lightweight 16″ RECCE. Time will tell, though. In the long term, I plan to put a Trijicon TA11 on the Musket and move the 2.5-10x to a 308.
When building up any rifle, most people get concerned primarily with overall weight, and rightly so. As I found during my combat load development exercise, overall gear weight adds up very quickly. If you can save yourself a pound or two by using a lighter weapon without giving up much capability, then it seems like a worthy trade off.
But you should also consider how your weapon balances. A more rearward balance makes the weapon feel easier to handle. The more weight in the rear, the quicker the front end of the gun feels. The IMI Tavor is pretty well known for this. However, the light front end will show more movement in the sights, as it does not settle very well. The more forward the balance, the slower the weapon feels, but the better it settles on target.
For now, this is all theoretical. I’m not sure when I will get to the range again in order to test these new configurations out, but hopefully it won’t be too long.