Every social group has its cadre of leaders that drive the fashion for the entire group. In the firearms community those people can range from highly respected trainers to popular posters on a high-traffic discussion forums, and everyone in between. In the age of the internet it only takes a few milliseconds for a fad to take root and spread like wildfire throughout the community.
Let me give you an example. How about the ever popular hand-forward grip that’s all the rage these days? If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, this is the grip made popular by 3 gun competition shooters and adopted by the tactical rifle community to increase the speed at which they could “drive” the rifle from one target to the next. It’s accomplished by hyper-extending the support arm and grabbing the rifle as far forward as humanly possible.
Does such a grip help in competition shooting? I think the general consensus “yes”, it does. Most top trainers and competition shooters use such a hold it seems, but how popular is it on the battlefield? One way to ascertain its worth on the field of battle would be to ask, or even watch, Soldiers engaged in a fire-fights. You can get a glimpse of how Soldiers use their rifles by watching hours of video on the popular YouTube channel Funker530. But I can save you a few hours of your valuable time — you won’t see it being used by grunts very often, if at all. Heck, you won’t even see Special Forces using the method much.
Surely SWAT cops use it though, right? Nope. You’ll be lucky to find footage of them using the method either.
I don’t use the hand-forward method because for me it’s not practical. Having served in the Marines, I can tell you that walking around for hours with your support arm hyper-extended will eventually become physically taxing. I served in a Marine Corps Security Forces Company, and we trained to clear buildings fairly regularly. We “rolled up” on our rifles and tucked our appendages in as tightly as possible to both make for a smaller target and to minimize our profile making it easier to navigate the confines of a structure.
Sure, the hand-forward grip works great for going from one static target to the next in a competition on an open range where you’re shooting for only a few seconds, but in more practical applications it doesn’t work for me. It seems others would agree given the lack of its use in the field. Is it a bad thing in general? I don’t think so, it’s just not wildly popular outside of the tactical training community and competition shooting.
Then we have the whole co-witness buzzword / fad. I will never understand the insistence some have for being able to see their iron sights through their red dot sight (RDS). Advocates of co-witness claim such a sighting arrangement is mandatory thus allowing the operator to quickly fall back to irons should something go wrong with their RDS.
If you’re having problems with your RDS, get a better sight. I have a couple of Comp M2 Aimpoints that are getting close to being 10 years old that have never once failed. I’ve dropped them, submerged them, froze them, left them turned on for months on end, and they’ve never once choked. The newer Aimpoints such as the T-1 Micro are even more indestructible. As a matter of fact, out of all my friends with Aimpoints I can’t recall one of them having any type of failure — ever. Even the batteries last for 6+ years. I finally changed the batteries in my Comp M2′s because after almost 7 years of constant use I figured it might be a good idea to swap them out.
That’s not to say failures on high-end RDS like Aimpoints don’t happen, they do. My point is that such failures are exceedingly rare in my experience.
The military has switched to using RDS’s and sights like the ACOG. Iron sights are a thing of the past, as they should be. Sure, it’s good to have a set of irons for when the unexpected happens, but given how rare sight failures are these days having a co-witness requirement seems a bit misguided in my opinion. Let’s not mention that the most likely problem you’re going to encounter with your RDS is having the lenses obscured by mud or other debris. At that point, how useful is co-witness? In such a situation you’re going to need to remove that sight ASAP so you can get back to shooting. I would think a quick detach mount is far more valuable than a co-witness requirement.
The same is true for a complete failure of your RDS — lose it. Flip a lever, get it off the rifle, and get back to shooting. If you buy a good quality sight, being hit by a meteor will be more likely than a sight failure though.
I not only fail to see the value in a co-witness requirement some have, I particularly dislike the cluttered sight picture an absolute co-witness affords. Ironically, an absolute co-witness seems to be the pinnacle configuration for advocates of such sighting arrangements. If they can’t have an absolute co-witness, they’ll begrudgingly settle for a lower 1/3rd.
I find the lower 1/3rd co-witness to be of dubious value, especially in low light situations.
While some fads seemingly linger forever, others eventually fade into obscurity. One such example would be the practice of hooking your support finger around the trigger guard of a handgun. In the 1980′s this fad took the handgun world by storm. Before this fad hit, trigger guards were typically round and in the case of handguns like the Beretta 92, were kind of sexy in appearance. Once the fad took root, all of the gun manufacturers raced to re-contour their trigger guards to include a flat textured surface for wrapping your finger around. They uglied up a number of otherwise fine looking pistols, but did the practice have any merit?
I found that hooking my finger over the trigger guard moved my point of impact to the left. One of the tenants of good marksmanship is applying even pressure on the contact points of the firearm, and to avoid applying lateral pressure. This is true for both handguns and rifles. Any lateral pressure can cause a considerable point of impact shift. When under stress, some shooters would get a death grip on their pistol, apply oodles of lateral pressure they normally didn’t apply when on the firing range, and thus would miss their targets entirely. If you watch some of the top shooters in the country in action, you’ll almost never see them wrapping their fingers around the trigger guard.
While most people today would agree that hooking the finger over the trigger guard is generally a bad idea, the notched and squared front straps on trigger guards persist on modern pistols. Thanks, fadsters.
Then there’s full length guide rods on 1911′s… but I’ll save that for another rant. I could go on for hours.
If you would like me to continue rambling on, let me know in the comments below.