Gun Technology Articles

One of the reasons that LTS/Graphite Dynamics was started was the lack of new technology in the weapons industry. The only folks who had access to advanced materials and engineered designs were military and law enforcement. If you wanted something high tech, you either had to be part of one of those two groups, or else you had to have a million dollars to spend. LTS/Graphite Dynamics was started by a shooter who is also an engineer, metallurgist and mechanical designer, to make high technology weapons components and designs accessible to everyone.

In this new section we call "Gun Tech", we will present easy to follow articles that enable you, the end user, to understand why certain technologies help to improve your weapon, and improve the way you use your weapon, for target shooting, hunting, or otherwise. Gun Tech articles are here to cover the various technologies that we leverage when designing components here at LTS/Graphite Dynamics.

The goal of our Gun Tech page is to make you a more informed customer; to help you to navigate through all of the marketing BS that some companies use to get you to buy their products. We believe that as much as there are great products out there, that there are also products that don't do what they are designed to do. Our goal is to help you to avoid those products, and to learn how to technically understand WHY you are using a certain product on your weapon. Technology is free, and we aim to educate our customers to make you more informed, more aware, and to make your weapons and your hobby more enjoyable.

As always, feel free to contact us with questions, comments and ideas that you have.

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TIME DELAY RECOIL (TDR), ADVANCED TIME DELAY RECOIL (ATDR) & MUZZLE BRAKE TECHNOLOGY, 03/07/15 


Most shooters are familiar with muzzle brakes and flash hiders; that cage-like item threaded on the end of many rifle barrels. But what exactly does one of these things do for you?

A flash suppressor, also known as a flash guard, flash eliminator, flash hider, or flash cone, is a device attached to the muzzle of a rifle that reduces its visible signature while firing by cooling or dispersing the burning gases that exit the muzzle. Its primary intent is to reduce the chances that the shooter will be blinded in low-light shooting conditions. Contrary to popular belief, it is only a minor secondary benefit if a flash suppressor reduces the intensity of the flash visible to the enemy. A flash suppressor is different from a muzzle brake, although they are typically mounted in the same position and sometimes confused with each other. While the former is intended to reduce visible flash, a muzzle brake is designed to reduce painful recoil inherent to large cartridges and typically has no effect on visible flash.

Early designs, such as the original M16 3-slot flash hider and later the A2 "birdcage" flash hider, used slots to help direct flash and disperse it so that the shooter would not see a huge ball of flame every time he pulled the trigger.  

But shooters began to ask whether the flash hider could help improve recoil and muzzle rise. So what is recoil and muzzle rise?

Recoil is the rearward force generated by ignition of the fired bullet. As the explosive force pushes the bullet forward, an equal and opposite force (known in physics as Newton's Third Law of Motion) pushes back on the rifle. The more powerful the force, the more powerful the recoil. Though some of this force is damped by the weight of the rifle, this recoil hits the shooters shoulder, and over time it can become annoying and even painful.

Muzzle rise is a secondary reaction of the rifle to recoil. As the rifle pushes back, it hits the shooters shoulder. Since your shoulder is a hard stop, it acts like an obstacle, causing the rifle to swing around it, the same way that a log on a river swings around an obstacle it runs into. This takes your muzzle off of your target, making a quick and accurate follow up shot difficult.

Muzzle brake technology uses the exiting gases from the barrel to deal with recoil and muzzle rise.

By using slots on the sides of the muzzle brake, the gases push forward on the slots as they pass by them, like wind pushing on a sail as it flows around it, to provide some forward-push on the brake. This forward-push helps counter-act the rearward push caused by recoil.

To deal with muzzle rise, the brake must be capable of generating force to counter-act the upward swing of the muzzle. Why does the rifle swing upwards? Mainly because shooters generaly hold a rifle by the pistol grip which is on the bottom, and underneath the hand guard. To deal with muzzle rise, some brakes will use slots and holes on top of the brake to direct gases upward to push downward on the barrel.

The Graphite Dynamics Spearhead advanced muzzle brakes use a technology called TDR, or Time Delay Recoil, to help reduce both recoil and muzzle rise. The geometry and position of the characteristic three side slots are timed to expanding gases to generate optimum recoil reduction. Additionally, the Spearhead series of advanced muzzle brakes use precisely located slots to help minimize muzzle rise. The Spearhead MOA uses ATDR or Advanced Time Delay Recoil geometry to enhance recoil reduction and muzzle rise even more than the Spearhead SPR.

So how do we do this?

TDR and ATDR use a technology called CFD, or Computational Fluid Dynamics

CFD is a technology that enables analysis of gas or fluid flow around and through an object. It is typically used to evaluate aerodynamics of jet fighters, cars and racing bikes. CFD is also used to evaluate the efficiency of flow through valves and around turbine blades. With CFD, you can find out where the gas or fluid is going around an object, and also how much the gas or fluid is pushing and pulling on and around that object.

The Spearhead muzzle brakes were designed using CFD to optimize the shape and location of slots, bores and grooves to provide the optimum recoil and muzzle rise reduction.

What's the difference?

The TDR design of the Spearhead SPR is primarily designed for maximum recoil reduction. For long range shooters who typically shoot from rests or bipods, muzzle rise is less of an issue with the heavy weight, long barrels used for precision shooting. The design of the TDR ports is leveraged towards maximum recoil reduction.

The ATDR design of the Spearhead MOA is a modification of the TDR port shape, which enhances BOTH recoil reduction AND muzzle rise reduction. Meant for rifles with barrels shorter than 18" or rifles hand supported during firing, The angled portion of the ports bias the muzzle downwards. Users, especially those with SBRs and AR15 pistols, have subjectively noticed as much as a 40% reduction in recoil kick and muzzle rise with the Spearhead MOA brake, when compared to a standard A2 flash hider.

So if you're considering a muzzle brake to help you deal with recoil and muzzle rise, know that the Spearhead series muzzle brakes were developed with CFD technology for the utmost in performance. Available in 4140 steel and Melonite finished, or in lightweight Ergal 7075-T6 and Class III hard anodized.

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THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY FOR RIFLES, 03/08/15 

 

It has always been assumed that for a gun, one would use steel or some other metal as the material. The reasons include handling high heat, rigidity, toughness, wear and tear, among others. The only other material you really saw on guns was wood, used for handles, grips, forearms and stocks.

But Eugene Stoner, famous developer of the AR15 rifle and also famous aerospace engineer, had it right when he asked why other materials couldn't be used. After all, jet airliners, which arguably had as much importance in human life by providing safety for passengers, were made with special materials that weren't steel but were just as strong and safe. He started the use of aluminum and other metals in firearms design.

We at LTS/Graphite Dynamics are continuing in the work of Eugene Stoner by employing new, strong and lightweight materials to weapons components. Here are some interesting engineering facts that help explain how and why.

  • Various carbon steels have been used for many years in weapon components, such as 4130ss for barrels, 8620 steel for bolt carriers, and 4140 for triggers and hammers

  • We employ Ergal 7075-T6 aluminum for many of our products. Ergal 7075 is a special, hard version of aluminum, and is about half the weight of steel

  • Aluminum has greater Thermal Conductivity - The ability for a material to conduct heat. The better the thermal conductivity (measured in units "K") of a gunpart, the quicker it can suck up and get rid of heat. So parts like barrels, bolts, muzzle brakes and other parts that get wicked hot can benefit from higher thermal conductivity.

  • A cooler gun part suffers less from warping, bending, and heat-induced stress, that can hurt accuracy severely

  • When compared, aluminum has a thermal conductivity of about 204 watts/meter Kelvin, while carbon steel has a thermal conductivity of just 36 watts/meter Kelvin - the higher the number, the better a material sucks away heat

  • Metals with great thermal conductivity tend to be lighter in weight than steel - great for firearms that need to be lugged around

  • Metals with great thermal conductivity can also be softer than steel - care must be taken by the developer to use materials based on their intended use

  • Additional metals we work with include MMC (Metal Matrix Composite), Sandvik 6AL/4V Titanium, Nitinol (Nickel Titanium), and Magnesium Alloy

  • New engineered polymers known as thermosets are finding their way into weapons, such as Ultem 1000 and PEEK (Polyetheretherketone). Though these materials don't conduct heat that well, they do handle high temperatures and have great impact strength

So when you hear about all the strange and unique materials that we work with at LTS/Graphite Dynamics, don't be surprised if people talk about our products and ask "How the hell do they do that with that material?" We use our expertise in advanced materials so that you, our customer, can reap the benefits of high technology.

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A WORD ABOUT THE GRAPHITE DYNAMICS HEAD LOCK MUZZLE BRAKE LOCK RING - 03/22/15

We're excited to introduce the Graphite Dynamics Head Lock muzzle brake lock ring.

For years, muzzle brakes and flash hiders have been mounted using the "crush washer"; a concave metal ring that is designed to deform as you tighten the hell out of your brake, only to have the brake scratched, crooked or upside down. And every time you remove that brake or hider, you use a NEW crush washer! At $6 a pop, it adds up, and so do the dings on that expensive muzzle brake!.

But also keep in mind that tightening that crush washer takes upwards of 20 foot pounds of torque - twisting force that you're applying to your barrel! Any time to twist a long metal tube, you leave what's known as Residual Torque Stress - a slight amount of leftover twist that will unwind the barrel like a twisted rubber band, which can result in loss of accuracy, especially at long ranges.

How can a flash hider or muzzle brake be crooked or upside down, you say? Here's how.

Flash hiders were meant to get the flash out of your sight picture by diverting the flames and flash to the sides of the rifle, keeping your sight picture clear and preventing the flames from blinding you, especially at night. Muzzle brakes, which are advanced flash hiders, are designed to direct the gases exiting your barrel to help reduce recoil (kick) and muzzle rise (barrel tip).

If your flash hider is mis-aligned so that the top of the hider has a slot facing upwards, then flames will shoot straight up into your sight picture when you fire your rifle, blinding you temporarily especially in the dark. BAD.

If your muzzle brake is mis-aligned with side slots that are not at the sides, or top slots that are not on top, your muzzle brake will not do a very good job at reducing muzzle rise. Recoil reduction may be okay, though you stand a risk of your muzzle being pushed sideways or even upwards with every shot.

Buffer tubes use a simple castle nut to lock the tube in place... why not the muzzle brake?

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THE EVOLUTION OF CARBON FIBER AND WHY EVERYONE WANTS IT - 03/24/15

Carbon fiber is the mystery material of the 21st century. It has been around and in use since the age of the light bulb, but has only recently seen use as high strength/light weight structural material.

In the late 1800s, Thomas Edison carbonized cotton and bamboo to make filaments for his early incandescent light bulbs. By the Late 1950s, Rayon was made using high tensile strength carbon fibers. Rayon was later replaced by pitch and polyacrylonitrile (PAN). In the early 1960s, the first practical commercial use of carbon fiber, with high performance, light weight, and high stiffness and strength, resulted in lighter and faster aircraft. Plus, aircraft were better able to withstand the extremely high temperatures of atmospheric re-entry because of the heat resistance of carbon fiber. 

In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, carbon fibers were produced mainly for the Department of Defense. Carbon fibers were also used in NASCAR and Formula 1 cars to make them lighter and more efficient. In the late 20th century, we saw reduced defense needs following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which resulted in a decrease in the demand for carbon fiber in high-dollar defense programs.

But in the early 21st century - Carbon fiber production has expanded significantly due to increased demand in the industrial, sporting goods, energy, aerospace, wind energy and firearms industries. Production capacities expanded in Asia, the United States, and Europe.

Almost all carbon fiber is made from a common industrial fiber called polyacrylanitrile fiber, also known as PAN.  Most PAN fiber is used to make acrylic fiber.  It is also used to make carbon fiber with a pyrolizing process, which means it is heated to ultra high temperatures to remove all elements except the carbon.  Most carbon fiber is sold at this point and it has a tensile modulus of 33 million pounds per square inch (MSI).  (Tensile modulus is a measurement of stiffness.)  This 33 MSI fiber, if seen up close, looks like a a redwood tree trunk, with deep fissured bark.  If processed further, the “bark” is stripped off, leaving a smoother round fiber that is smaller in diameter.  More of these fibers can be packed into a smaller space, making it have a higher stiffness per cross sectional area.  42 MSI fiber is the result and it is informally known as Intermediate Modulus fiber or IM fiber.  The benefit is that you can use less material to get the same stiffness and therefore a lighter structure.

Fibers are bundled in various sizes designated in thousands (K) of fibers.  1K, 3K, 6K, 12K, 24K, 50K and others are common bundle sizes.  There is also "UD" or unidirectional carbon fiber, which is very dense and heavy but super strong. These fibers are woven into fabric with various weave patterns.  3K fabric is most common.  The various types of fiber will have the same “K” designation to indicate the number of fibers in the bundle.  These numbers describe the size of the bundle used and have little to do with the quality of the fiber itself.

Most carbon fiber products are made with either 3k, 12k, or UD carbon. At Graphite Dynamics, we typically use Toray carbon fiber from Japan, which is a high precision material. Carbon fiber, like fiberglass, is woven into a sheet, and then wetted with high strength epoxy resins. The wetted sheet is then formed into a shape and cured in high heat while being compressed to squaeeze out any bubbles in the carbon weave which can weaken the carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is found mostly as tubes, because flat sheet can be rolled easily into tubes. Forming carbon fiber into other shapes is also done, but requires special tooling and techniques. Molding carbon fiber, the holy grail of carbon fiber, is both expensive and time consuming, which is why you don't see a whole lot of molded carbon fiber products. Once completed, the TENEO carbon grip and the SCYTHE carbon fiber adjustable stock system will be some of the first pieces of molded carbon fiber weapons furniture on the market. And those of you who sport the GD-7 are already experiencing the magic of carbon fiber on your AR pistol.

Carbon fiber is roughly HALF the weight of aluminum, and roughly twice the strength of steel. It's easy to see why carbon fiber is so sought after.

We at Graphite Dynamics have worked with all grades of carbon fiber since the early 1980s. We are also COMBINING carbon fiber with engineered metals, advanced polymers and ceramics, to bring space shuttle level technology to today's firearms industry.

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MODULARITY AND THE AR15 - 03/28/15

 

One of the reasons why the AR15 and it's variants is so popular is that it was the first real modular rifle. You could take it down with few tools, and parts were 100% swappable from gun to gun. The ability to build and take down the weapon, and change its configuration without any gunsmithing skills, meant that a single rifle could go from CQB weapon, to mid-range combat rifle, to long range sniper rifle very easily. The added benefit of advanced materials which made the weapon lightweight, made it an easy sell to militaries around the world. 

Worldwide, there are easily 3 million AR15's and their variants! This includes militaries and military organizations, law enforcement, and civilian groups. What drove the huge increase in AR15 ownership here in the US was the advent of the 80% lower receiver, which meant that a person could buy all the unregistered AR parts he needed, including an unregistered 80% lower receiver that he could machine on his own, to build a complete, personal weapon. The modularity of the AR is what enabled the 80% lower receiver to be viable to the masses whoc could finish it on their own and just snap it in place.

A look at any gun magazine or website will show the power of modularity, affecting every gun company and every rifle platform. Even large calibers, which have been classic bolt-action designs for years like the Remington 700, are being redesigned as modular rifle platforms. The AR10 is now the standard for .308 caliber AR rifles, and companies like Barrett Industries have been doing large caliber modular rifles, like the M82A1 and M107A .50 caliber semi-auto rifles, for many years.

As the cost of using and maintaining firearms goes up year by year, civilians too are drawn to the ease of repair and upgrade that the AR platform offers. Like a Volkswagon Bug, anyone can gather the parts they need online, and spend some time in the garage to build a lightweight, reliable, easy to shoot rifle. The options for various optics, handguards, barrels, stocks, and sights meant that you could customize your AR anytime you wanted without ever filling out a government form.

Graphite Dynamics has been in the business of developing the next generation of precision firearms with an emphasis on better materials and better functionality, which also means better modularity. We have developed modular components for the military, which have enabled special operators to carry a long range Special Purpose Rifle, capable of 1/2 MOA at 1,200 meters, which weighed in at less than 7 pounds and collapsed to less than 24". That was a lot of carbon fiber and Sandvik 6/4 Titanium in one weapon.

We are now developing components for the civilian market, with an emphasis on the same modularity, lightweight, and reliability.

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AN INTRO TO TITANIUM, LIGHTWEIGHT + STRENGTH - 04/22/15

It's commonly known that metal is pretty strong stuff. It's the reason why tools like sledgehammers and chisels are made from metal, and it's why armored cars are covered in metal. But metal is generally heavy material. It's why fishing weights and demolition balls are metallic.

Titanium, named after the Greek god "Titan", has been around since 1790. But it took almost 120 years before titanium made it's way into industry. Due to its corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance, and its high strength-to-density ratio, titanium is commonly used in aircraft, naval ships, armor plating, and even in missiles. Its weight is similar to aluminum, while its strength is similar to stainless steel.

But titanium is costly material, costing almost twice the cost of steel. Because of this, titanium products tend to be super expensive. 

There are various grades of titanium (like many other metals). Unfortunately, various industries don't like to make note of what grade their titanium products are, assuming that as long as you tell customers that your product is "titanium", that is must be expensive. Not all titanium is the same.

The purest grade of titanium, CP or Commercially Pure, is 99.2% titanium, but it isn't the strongest grade of titanium. Grades 1-4 are typically pure titanium, and the other grades are alloys.

Grade 1 is generally low-medium strength and high ductility (soft). Typical use is in heat exchangers.

Grade 2 is the most-used pure titanium. Great combination of strength, ductility and weldability. Used in piping systems.

Grade 3,4 is high strength, and used in structural matrix plates.

Grade 5  (6AL/4V) is the most manufactured titanium, and is an alloy of 6AL/4V. Exceedingly high strength, corrosion resistance and high heat resistance, it is used in structural applications such as aerospace, military, and undersea industries.

Graphite Dynamics exclusively uses 6/4 Titanium.

Grade 6 (5AL/2.5V)  has high corrosion resistance and good strength. Used in structural engineering.

Grade 7 has high corrosion resistance, and is used in the chemical industry.

Grade 9 (3AL/2.5V) is high strength and corrosion resistant. Used in bike frames and hydraulic pipe systems.

Grade 11 is similar to Grade 7.

Grade 12 is best in heat resistance, but average in strength.

Graphite Dynamics will soon be offering weapons components in Grade (5) 6/4 Titanium. The difference is that we will (and always have been) offering high technology materials at a price point that makes technology affordable for all of our customers.

That's what separates Graphite Dynamics from the competition - we make technology advanced and affordable to all.

Stay tuned... The Spearhead Aggressor Titanium is coming soon! Contact us for details.

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A WORD ABOUT ALUMINUM - IT'S NOT JUST FOR BEER CANS ANYMORE... - 05/11/15

JSF

Everyone is familiar with aluminum beer cans. They're thin, light, and you can crush them in your hand once your beer is done. Aluminum is known for being relatively cheap and in big supply. But what many people don't know is that aluminum is an engineered material, and it's not just for beer cans anymore.

Aluminum has been around since 1807. It is lightweight, being about 50% the weight of steel. It is strong material, and like Titanium, comes in various grades. Aluminum does not corrode like steel, and will not rust. Furthermore, aluminum conducts heat better than steel, making it great for getting rid of heat from a gun.

Aluminum can be compounded with other metals like magnesium, silicon, copper, chromium, and manganese, to gain specific features like higher strength, flexibility, better corrosion resistance or higher surface hardness. Most people know aluminum for its use in aluminum drink cans and in aluminum foil.

But it's a mistake to call aluminum "weak". Aluminum is used regularly in aircraft structures, and is commonly used alongside carbon fiber in fighter jet aircraft and automobile bodies.

Eugene Stoner knew this about the material while working as an aircraft engineer, which is why he first introduced it to firearms with the prototype AR-10 rifle. Before then, no one believed that aluminum belonged anywhere on a gun.

At Graphite Dynamics, we use only Ergal grade 7075-T7 hardened aluminum, known as "aircraft grade", for our lightweight products. Grade 7075-T7 is the hardest grade of aluminum, at around 73,000 to as high as 83,000 psi. On top of its inherent hardness, we also hard anodize grade 7075-T7 at Mil Spec Class III, for even more hardness.

Most people only know about grade 6061 aluminum, which is around 40,000 psi. Its cheap and plentiful which is why your beer cans and foil are made from it. 

Grade 7075-T7 is super tough material to work with. It's even tougher to anodize right. But at Graphite Dynamics, we are advanced technology. We use technology and engineered processes to advance the art of firearms design like no other company. We make technology available to all shooters.

We make firearms - technology - evolved.

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TORQUE EFFECTS ON PRECISION SHOOTING... - 05/29/15

 

If you've ever tried to stop a spinning bike wheel with your hand (like I did when I was a kid) by grabbing the spokes, you quickly find out that even though a bike wheel isn't very heavy, it has enough force to twist your fingers off if you're not careful. Rotation has a couple of elements working together - momentum, rotational inertia, velocity, centrifugal force, and kinetic energy to name a few. Even though the science of rotation can be complex, the basic idea of torque, and how it affects a shooter's ability to hit a target, isn't too tough to understand.

When a bullet is pushed out of a rifled barrel, we have Newton's 3rd Law of Physics first kick in. It says "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction". This happens in two ways; one "action" is of the bullet moving forward pushing the rifle backward, and the other "action" is the barrel rifling causing the bullet to spin - the bullet reacts by trying to resist twist as it tries twist the barrel instead. The first action causes recoil, and the second action causes rifle torque.

Rifle torque doesn't seem like much of an effect on shooting, but it depends on what type of shooting you're doing. Rifle torque is affected by a few things.

One of these effects is the ratio of the bullet weight and the weight of the gun. Obviously a bullet is much lighter than a rifle, so the bullet doesn't have much inertia to twist the rifle out of your hands. Inertia is basically having the mass or weight needed to move something. Think of a hammer that's smaller then the nail you're trying to drive - if the hammer is too small or too light, it doesn't have much inertia to drive the nail, even if you hit it as hard as you could. Inertia is basically "push".

Another effect is something called the Moment of Inertia or MOI. The MOI is basically the distance from the center of the rotational axis to where you measure the force. Remember the bike wheel example? If you were to measure the force to grab and slow down the bike wheel at the hub, that force would be different from if you were to measure the force to grab and slow down the bike wheel at the tire. Why? Because the tire is farther away from the center of the wheel than the hub is. That distance, known as the radius, determines the MOI. The longer the radius (the farther away from the center) the lower the MOI. Lower MOI equals leverage.

Now in bullet terms, a .223 slug is roughly .224" in diameter (across the grooves) coming out. That's a radius of .224" / 2 = .112" If you were to measure how far away your non-shooting hand was from the axis of the barrel (basically the diameter of your hand guard), it might measure 1.5" in diameter, giving a radius of 1.5" / 2 = 0.75". This basically says that the MOI of your hand is lower than the MOI of the bullet. The LOWER the MOI, the more leverage you have in order to counteract the force. In effect, a bigger radius acts like a long lever. A bullet is just too small to generate enough leverage to twist the rifle enough to affect most shooters.

But if you are into long range precision shooting, torque can be one of many variables you've got to deal with. Externally you have temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, angle to target and distance (among others). Internally you have things like ammunition ballistics, muzzle velocity, canting, rifling, accuracy of chambering, eye focus, breathing, and a whole bunch of other things. Because of what we discussed above, torque may happen, but it's probably lower on the list of things to watch out for.

Rifle torque is a pretty complex thing. Lots of physics and formulas and calculations to consider... probably more than was mentioned here. But if you pay attention to other, bigger factors, and hone in on them, torque will slowly become lower on your list of things to worry about.

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WHEN A TEST IS REALLY A TEST - 06/08/15

 

If you've ever tried to figure out if a gun or gun part is right for you, you may have gone to the internet looking for reviews, YouTube videos, forum insights or advertising info. But of all the information that you gather, how do you decide what makes sense for you and your needs? It depends partly on how serious you are into shooting, and partly on what improvement you want or what problem you're trying to fix.

Information about products usually comes down to some sort of test - a user or reviewer (who may be both) will test the product and give you his insights and opinions. But is a person's opinion about something enough for you to spend your hard-earned dollar on? Sure, us shooters rely on the opinions of fellow shooters, who may do the same type of shooting, with similar firearms, or in similar types of shooting (such as target shooting or skeet shooting). 

But when someone "tests" something, is it really a test?

Sometimes you will find tests which are "comparisons" of products. Many of these are YouTube videos that will compare things like recoil, muzzle flash, accuracy, cycling, reloading, among other things. If the product is an upgrade part like a hand guard, the "tester" may talk about things like feel, fit, and weight.

But we at Graphite Dynamics take testing to a new level. After all, some of us come from stringent testing backgrounds like aerospace and defense, where the word "MilSpec" or Military Specifications has real meaning, such as Mil-STD 810G, used for materials testing, or Mil-STD 961 which covers the content and format for defense specifications. 

Scientific testing is a LOT more than grabbing a video camera and filming the flames that shoot out from a muzzle brake.

As an example, the Spearhead muzzle brakes were developed using CFD, and tested using very specific scientific methods.

The testing followed a "protocol" or specific list of directions meant to ensure that tests are done the same exact way every time. Measurements are taken with precision calibrated equipment to gather data such as force, distance, heat and weight. Muzzle brake testing would evaluate force only. Testing did not evaluate target accuracy.

The Spearheads were tested using a DPMS AR15 rifle, direct impingement, 16" 1:9 barrel, carbine gas system, retractable stock, carbine hand guard, A2 gas block, AR15 BCG, 10rd mag, no sights, and a standard A2 birdcage flash hider as a reference. Ammo was 55grn 5.56 NATO BTHP rounds. 

The test bed was a Caldwell Lead Sled, modified with (2) Chatillon 250 lbf force gauges; one mounted horizontally directly behind the stock, and one mounted vertically above the barrel 1.0" behind the flash hider. A kevlar loop was used to pull the trigger and fire the weapon. The rifle was allowed to move both horizontally and vertically to measure forces felt by an actual shooter who would be shouldering the weapon. A nylon safety belt strapped loosely across the top of the rifle and attached to the Sled ensured that the rifle wouldn't completely fall off of the test bed during testing, which it did not.

A total of (10) rounds were fired for each muzzle brake, zeroing the force gauges with each shot fired. One gauge measured peak rearward recoil force, and the other measured peak upward muzzle rise force.

An A2 flash hider was tested for reference. All other tests would be compared to the forces based on the A2 hider. The Spearhead SPR was tested. Recoil reduction was averaged at 34%. Muzzle rise reduction was averaged at 9%. The Spearhead MOA was then tested. Recoil reduction was averaged at 32%. Muzzle rise reduction was averaged at 27%. These forces were based on comparisons of forces generated by the A2 flash hider. 

As far as "aesthetics", both Spearhead designs present a flash profile similar to other devices with similar large rectangular slots.

As you can see, this is an example of a REAL test - one that gives you information to help you to both make an educated decision and also to have an intelligent conversation about gun technology.

After all, that's what Graphite Dynamics is all about... bringing technology to the shooting community.

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UNDERSTANDING THE MATERIAL SCIENCE OF ADVANCED GUN DESIGN - 07/18/15

 

It's been awhile since my last gun article. As many of you now, I injured my back a month ago, and am now recovering slowly but surely.

Something that I wanted to share with everyone is some of the science behind advanced gun design. In this article I'll discuss material properties and how to understand the characteristics of a material.

Every material on earth has a short list of properties that tell you about that material. Things like its Strength, its Weight, and its Thermal Conductivity, help engineers decide what material to use for a certain application. Lets look at this basic list of characteristics.

STRENGTH

A material's strength is called its ULTIMATE TENSILE STRENGTH or UTS, and measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. But plain old PSI is usually too small to measure most materials, so the basic unit used is KSI, which is "thousands of pounds per square inch"... the K stands for thousand. A metal such as steel has a typical UTS of 64,200 PSI or 64.2 KSI. What this means is that a 1" round bar of steel will break when 64,200 pounds of force is applied to it. But there is a second tensile strength called YIELD STRENGTH or YS (sometimes called TENSILE MODULUS). Yield strength is the force where the material will start bending but not yet breaking. For our steel example, the YS is 54,000 PSI. So basically the material starts bending at 54,000, but will break at 64,200 PSI.

When we compare strength of materials, we find that their UTS to YS differs. For example, Toray T700F carbon fiber has a typical UTS of 76,500 PSI, but a YS of 34, 800 PSI. So carbon fiber is slightly stronger than steel, but begins to bend at a lower force, meaning that it is less stiff. 

WEIGHT

A materials weight is measured in grams/cubic centimeter or gm/cc. This is the weight of a cubic centimeter block of the material. Steel has a density of 7.85 gm/cc. Carbon fiber has a density of 1.61 gm/cc. So when we compare the density of steel and carbon fiber material with their weight, carbon fiber is stronger than steel while being much lighter.

THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY

Thermal conductivity is a materials ability to conduct heat. Thermal Conductivity is measured in Kelvins or "K", which is "BTUs in degrees Fahrenheit per Hour per Foot of thickness", shown as BTU/degF/Hr/Ft. The Thermal Conductivity of steel is about 26. The Thermal Conductivity of carbon fiber is 900. Its higher because it is a non-metal, and non-metals conduct heat differently than metals do. The thing to know is that carbon fiber conducts heat faster, but it also bleeds off heat faster because its conductivity is high. So, as fast as carbon fiber heats up, it cools down just as fast, where metals will "hold onto " heat longer, and eventually feel hotter than carbon fiber.

So how is this information used? Well, lets say we're designing a barrel. We want the barrel to be stiff, take lots of heat, and be hard to handle a speeding bullet. If we designed a barrel out of pure carbon fiber, it would run cooler because of its thermal conductivity, and would be almost seven times lighter than steel, BUT it would not be as stiff, and would flex under fire. This is why some companies will combine a steel inner barrel with a wrap of carbon fiber as a composite barrel; the steel handles the stiffness, while the carbon reduces weight and adds heat transfer for cooling.

So now you know a little bit about materials science. Websites like Wikipedia , MatWeb, or Engineers Toolbox can provide materials properties information. As long as you know what the material name is, you can find out its strength, weight and thermal conductivity. 

At Graphite Dynamics, we utilize scientific data like these and others to develop improved weapons components to make rifles stronger, lighter and cooler-running...

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ADVANCED .22LR BULLET TRAP TECHNOLOGY, AND A NIFTY DESIGN - 8/16/15

 

So it's been awhile since my last article. I received a great email from one of our Australian customers, asking about a blog wrote about 4 years ago concerning a .22LR bullet trap design. This design came to me from a good friend of mine who is a military armorer. 

The basics of the design, and any good bullet trap design, involves three things; slowing and stopping a projectile, capturing any shrapnel, and filtering thee lead dust that is created. This design, as simple as it is, does all three things pretty well.

Slow it down - The first thing to to is to slow down the bullet. Note we want to slow it down to a stop, NOT stop it dead in its tracks. Why? Because the slug carries energy that needs to be bled off. The faster you stop the bullet, the more energy your trap has to withstand, which beats up your trap quickly. Bullets are actually pretty easy to slow down, because their energy is a function of the mass of the bullet. A .22LR bullet flies at about 1300 feet per second, BUT weighs about 40 grains. As soon as it hits something it slows down right away. The strength of whatever it hits defines how fast it slows down. If it hits a brick wall, it'll stop faster than if it hits a pillow. But make no mistake, EVERYTHING it hits slows it down somewhat. Instead of stopping the bullet the first thing it hits, we can slow it down gradually using steps or layers as the bullet fragments. This is the technology of reactive armor. Depending on the number of layers and the layer materials you use, in theory you can make a trap to catch almost any bullet caliber.

Catch that shrapnel - Once you have that bullet smashing into things, it starts to break up into smaller pieces if the first layer is hard. A good trap catches these particles. The same layers that slow down the bullet also do a great job of catching particles. How? As the bullet penetrates each layer, it slows down. If it starts to break up, each of those small pieces weighs less than the whole bullet, so they now have even less energy, and can be slowed to a stop pretty easily. Each layer provides additional slowing - much like pumping your car brakes so that you don't lose control. The more layers, the more slowing. And as that shrapnel tries to bounce away from the trap, the direction change slows the particles even more.

Filter that lead dust - Lead dust is a side effect of lead bullets hitting and fragmenting against objects. The lead of a bullet can break apart enough to generate lead dust which is really bad stuff to breath. A good bullet trap catches lead dust and stops it from getting into the air. This bullet trap, which uses layers, can use foam, cloth, or other materials to act as filters to filter out lead dust. Just remember that depending on the layer material, it will eventually get beat up and require replacement after a while of shooting.

Make it modular - Because every bullet trap gets beat up with holes and rips, make your trap modular. This means making it so that it is easy to take part and replace layers, as well as empty out any slugs that get caught by the trap. The easier it is to work on, the more time you'll spend shooting, and less time doing maintenance!

If you're interested in this great bullet trap design, feel free to contact us a Graphite Dynamics, and we'll email you a free copy!

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THE QUESTION ABOUT LIGHTWEIGHT ASSAULT RIFLES - 10/5/15

 

If you're seeing the latest forum blogs, the current fad is lightweight AR15s. Shooters are doing anything and everything to get their AR's to lose weight. This can be fun and cool, but it can also be dangerous.

Depending on how you use your rifle, how you handle it, and how it is stored and transported, your AR may be liable to some damage that can make the gun an accident waiting to happen.

Firearms are designed with safety and reliability in mind. Taking a drill and turning your AR into Swiss Cheese is no real way to make it lighter. It might look cool, and save you a couple of bucks, but you can bet that you are actually weakening your gun in the process.

In general, the best way to lighten a firearm is to replace the heavy parts with parts that are made of lighter materials. That means that anything made of steel can be switched for lighter parts made from polymer, carbon fiber, or lighter weight metals such as Grade 5 6/4 Titanium.

Here at Graphite Dynamics, we are driven to provide high precision firearm parts made of these engineered materials. They are not just light weight, but also stronger and more reliable pound for pound than any metal.

The safest and best way for you to lighten your AR is to start investing in light weight parts. The thing you'll find is that these parts are awfully expensive. This is because of two reasons. One reason is that light weight material is usually expensive material. The other reason is that fabricating parts from these light weight materials is very difficult and time-intensive. It can be done, but it's the reason why a Formula One race car costs over $1 Million dollars to build - you're paying for technology, the materials in the car, and the fabrication efforts to make the parts.

But GD is different, in that we don't try to gouge our customers while developing high strength/light weight components. We won't charge you $200 for a Titanium muzzle brake, and we don't charge you $200 for a real carbon fiber buffer tube. Could we? Probably. But we don't and we won't.

We are currently developing new components using Grade 5 6/4 Titanium. It is light weight, strong, and will never rust. The new Spearhead TriBore will be offered soon in 7075 Aluminum and 6/4 Titanium, as will the upcoming Teneo AR pistol grip and the Thunderbolt Race BCG.

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GAROLITE G10 PHENOLIC; THE UNKNOWN HIGH PERFORMANCE POLYMER - 10/15/15

Everybody and their grandpa knows about fiberglass and carbon fiber; reinforced polymers that combine lightweight, super high strength, and other features like slipperiness (lubricity), non-conductivity, and the handling of high temperatures. But there is a relatively unknown reinforced polymer that has been around for years, with uses typically in electronics and oven applications. This material is known as Garolite.

Garolite comes in many names, including Bakelite and Phenolic. In general, Garolite "IS" an actual phenolic thermoset polymer material, very similar to Ultem, which is another phenolic thermoset polymer.

Plastics come in two flavors - thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics are polymers that can be reheated/remelted more than once. Thermosets typical setup or "set" when they cool, after their first heating. After this, they crystallize into a very hard structure, and can't be remelted. Thermoplastics are typically softer than Thermosets because Thermoplastics do not crystallize like Thermosets do. Examples of Thermoplastics are Nylon and Polystyrene. Examples of Thermosets are Garolite and Ultem.

Phenolics like Garolite have typically been used in applications where impact exposure would be minimized. Why? Because Phenolics are super stiff, basically rigid like glass, and can actually shatter like a glass window because they are so rigid. They have very little yield, and can crack or break if not designed correctly for the right application.

When designed right, a part made from Garolite will benefit from super high tensile (as much as 40% higher than Thermoplastics), very rigid surface hardness, and really high temperature handling.

At Graphite Dynamics, we have been going through a variety of pistol grip materials for the upcoming TENEO AR-15 pistol grip, including 12k UD carbon fiber and even Grade 4 Titanium. Like the handle of a hammer, the AR pistol grip IS the control handle of the weapon, and so it must perform flawlessly. As with all of our products, we over-engineer the sh*t out of every design to squeeze as much performance out of the design and the material. Does that make our products somewhat "experimental"? I suppose it does, and on occasion we find room for improvement while providing our money-back guarantee with every product. 

The new Garolite G-10 (Grade 10) TENEO AR pistol grip is currently in prototype, and will soon go out to our testers for evaluation. It will be lightweight, super strong, and a great edition to any AR build.

Stay tuned!

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STATISTICS AND MECHANICAL DESIGN - 01/04/16

 

FIRST OF ALL, WELCOME TO 2016. ITS A NEW YEAR FOR ALL OF US IN SHOOTING SPORTS. THE ELECTIONS LOOK TO BE SCARY, BUT INTERESTING.

IN THE PROCESS OF MECHANICAL DESIGN, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE "S" WORD - STATISTICS. STATISTICS IS THE PRACTICE AND SCIENCE OF COLLECTING AND ANALYZING DATA IN LARGE QUANTITIES. WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN STATISTICS ARE TRENDS, SIGNIFICANCE, DISTRIBUTION, DEVIATIONS, AMONG OTHER THINGS. THESE FACTORS HELP THE DESIGNER TO DETERMINE THE PROBABILITY OF HOW A MECHANICAL DESIGN WILL WORK, HOW IT MIGHT FAIL, AND HOW OFTEN. STATISTICS GIVES US A VIRTUAL PICTURE OF HOW A MECHANICAL DESIGN WILL FUNCTION IN THE REAL WORK, AND IT HELPS US TO DECIDE WHAT DESIGN WE GO FORWARD WITH.

IN MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY, WE LOOK FOR A SPECIFIC TYPE OF STATISTIC KNOWN AS A CONFIDENCE/RELIABILITY INTERVAL. THESE ARE STATISTICAL EVALUATIONS OF A SAMPLING OF A GROUP OF PARTS OR ASSEMBLIES, TO EVALUATE THE RELIABILITY OF THAT GROUP, AND THE CONFIDENCE LEVEL THAT WE HAVE IN THE REPEAT-ABILITY OF THAT GROUP.

BUT ONE THING THAT STATISTICS DOES NOT HELP US WITH IS VARIATIONS OUTSIDE OF OUR TEST GROUP.

FOR EXAMPLE, WE CAN TEST A NEW TRIGGER GROUP IN 1,000 RIFLES FOR FUNCTION AND RELIABILITY. EVEN IF 100% OF THESE TRIGGER GROUPS WORK WELL, ALL IT TAKES IS 1 RIFLE THAT IS OUTSIDE OF THIS GROUP OF 1,000 TO FAIL. WHY? BECAUSE STATISTICS ULTIMATELY RELIES ON SOME LEVEL OF CONTROL OF EVERY RIFLE TESTED. HAVING A TEST GROUP MEANS THAT WE KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERY RIFLE IN THE GROUP. WE CAN VERIFY THAT THEY ARE EACH FUNCTIONAL, UNDAMAGED, WITH THE CORRECT PARTS INSTALLED TO THE CORRECT SPECIFICATIONS. 

ANY RIFLE THAT IS NOT IN OUR CONTROL IS A BLACK BOX - TOTALLY UNKNOWN. ALL WE CAN DO IS HOPE THAT THE RIFLE THAT OUR PART IS GOING ONTO IS IN 100% SAFE WORKING ORDER.

FOR GRAPHITE DYNAMICS (OR ANY COMPANY) TO HAVE 100% TRUE RELIABILITY, WE WOULD HAVE TO CHECK AND EXAMINE 100% OF EVERY RIFLE THAT OUR PARTS GO INTO, WHICH IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE. EVERY FIREARMS MANUFACTURER KNOWS THIS, AND SO THEY WILL "BACK OFF" ON THEIR PERFORMANCE SPECS TO A CERTAIN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL, TO ENSURE THAT THEY CAN COVER ANY POSSIBLE FAILURE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. BUT EVEN WHEN THIS IS DONE, IS DOESN'T GUARANTEE THAT A CUSTOMER WITH A DIRTY RIFLE OR A CRACKED BARREL USES ONE OF THEIR PRODUCTS AND REPORTS A FAILURE. 

IN SHORT, YOU CAN'T COVER EVERYTHING.

SO WE DO EVERYTHING THAT WE  CAN TO ENSURE RELIABILITY AND FUNCTIONALITY. BUT LIKE EVERY COMPANY, ONCE AND AWHILE WE GET A RETURN. LUCKILY THIS HASN'T BEEN OFTEN. EACH TIME, WE REFUND THE CUSTOMER, AND ASK FOR THE PART BACK SO THAT WE CAN EXAMINE IT FOR WHATEVER THE REPORTED PROBLEM WAS. AS A SMALL, INNOVATIVE COMPANY, WE GO 110% TO DEVELOP PRODUCTS THAT ARE "NEWER AND BETTER" THAN WHAT'S OUT THERE. SURE THAT'S A TALL ORDER, AND YES WE DO PUSH THE LIMITS OF DESIGN AND MATERIALS, BUT WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU PUSH TECHNOLOGY TO THE LIMITS, THE STATISTICAL POSSIBILITY OF A PROBLEM GOES UP. JUST ASK NASA ABOUT THE SPACE SHUTTLE, AND YOU'LL UNDERSTAND. 

WE WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH HARD TO PROVIDE COOL NEW PRODUCTS FOR THE SHOOTING SPORTS. AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR CUSTOMERS 110%.

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THE FUN LIFE WHEN WE WERE KIDS; A PERSONAL THOUGHT  - 01/27/16

I WANTED TO TAKE A MINUTE IN THIS GUN TECH ARTICLE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE GROWING UP. WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN MEMORIES AS KIDS, WHEN LIFE IN AMERICA WAS SIMPLER AND, WELL, FUN. IN THE CASE OF MY BROTHER AND I, WE GREW UP IN SILICON VALLEY BEFORE IT WAS KNOWN FOR TECHNOLOGY. THE VALLEY WHEN WE WERE KIDS WAS LITTERED WITH ORCHARDS OF EVERY KIND OF FRUIT YOU COULD THINK OF. OUR BACK YARD HAD ALL SORTS OF FRUIT TREES IN IT, AND ALSO FACED AN APRICOT ORCHARD OUT BACK. WHEN WE WEREN'T CLIMBING TREES OR HOPPING THE FENCE TO GRAB A SNACK, WE WERE FACING OUR DAISY BB GUNS AT VARIOUS FRUITS TO DO SOME SHOOTING. 

ANYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD A BB GUN UNDERSTANDS THE TEMPTATION TO SHOOT ANYTHING THAT MOVES OR ANYTHING THAT'S SMALL. OURS WAS NO DIFFERENT, AND IN FACT WE WERE SPURRED ON BY OUR DAD, A USMC PLATOON SERGEANT WHO WAS ALSO A PISTOL EXPERT AND RIFLE MARKSMAN AT CAMP PENDLETON, CA. WITH A DAD LIKE THAT, YOU "ARE" GONNA BECOME A CRACK SHOT.

LIKE ALL KIDS, WE STARTED SHOOTING CANS, STICKS, AND MILK JUGS. BUT OF COURSE THAT GOT OLD REAL QUICK. SOON WE WERE SHOOTING AT APRICOTS 20-30 YARDS AWAY, AND NAILING THEM LIKE SITTING DUCKS. WE SHOT DOWN ALMONDS AND CHERRIES FROM THEIR BRANCHES TOO. SURE, THIS WAS DANGEROUS, BUT DAD DIDN'T KNOW, AND HE WOULD KICK OUR ASSES IF HE DID.

WE THEN MOVED ON TO THE GOOD STUFF - BIRDS.

NOW, ADMIT IT, ALL OF YOU HAVE SHOT BIRDS WITH BB GUNS BEFORE, AND ADMIT IT, YOU LIKED IT. WE STARTED OFF WITH BIG BIRDS, LIKE BLUE JAYS AND SEAGULLS THAT WOULD PASS BY ON OCCASION. WE THEN STARTED GOING AFTER SPARROWS, WHICH WERE SMALLER AND FASTER. WE ALWAYS MADE SURE TO RECOVER THE CARCASSES, AND BURY THEM BEFORE DAD FOUND OUT. BUT MORE THAN ONCE, HUSH, OUR GOLDEN RETRIEVER (AND DAD'S BIRD DOG) GOT A HOLD OF A DEAD BIRD THAT WE SHOT BEFORE WE COULD REACH IT, AND OF COURSE BEING A BIRD DOG, BROUGHT IT TO DAD AND DROPPED IT ON HIS LAP. MY BROTHER GOT AN ASS WHOOPIN' THAT DAY.

THE POINT IS THAT WE GREW UP WITH FIREARMS SINCE WE WERE KIDS, AND THAT DIDN'T TURN US INTO TERRORISTS OR CRIMINALS. ASIDE FROM THE STANDARD POSITIVES, LIKE LEARNING TO HANDLE FIREARMS, GUN SAFETY, RESPONSIBILITY, FOCUS, AND DISCIPLINE, THERE'S THE SIMPLE IDEA OF WHAT WE GREW UP LEARNING WHEN WE WERE KIDS - FIREARMS ARE A PART OF ANY AMERICAN'S PAST. THEY ARE IN OUR HISTORY, IN OUR BLOOD, AND FORM SO MANY OF OUR MEMORIES. A USMC RIFLEMAN KNOWS "THIS IS MY RIFLE", A POEM THAT DESCRIBES HOW A RIFLE BECOMES A PART OF THE SOLDIER. FIREARMS ARE A PART OF US AS AMERICANS.

TO THOSE WHO FEAR FIREARMS, CONSIDER HOW WE TREAT CANCER WITH TODAY'S TECHNOLOGIES. WE DON'T MAKE LAWS TO STOP THE CANCER, AND WE DON'T WISH FOR THE CANCER TO GO AWAY. WE ATTACK THE CANCER WITH WEAPONS IN THE FORM OF RADIATION AND CHEMOTHERAPY. WE FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE.

THE WORLD IS A MUCH DIFFERENT PLACE THAN WHEN WE WERE KIDS. BUT THE IDEALS WE GREW UP WITH ARE THE SAME, AS WE PASS THEM ONTO OUR OWN KIDS. 

THANKS FOR READING, AND THANK'S FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF GRAPHITE DYNAMICS. THE NEXT SHIPMENT OF GD-7'S ARE ON THEIR WAY!

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SHOOT ANY DAMN WAY YOU WANT TO- 04/18/16

IT'S BEEN AWHILE SINCE MY LAST ARTICLE, AS WE HAVE BEEN BUSY BUILDING NEWER AND GREATER AR'S FOR OUR CUSTOMERS. I'M GLAD TO SEE THE RESURGENCE OF 80% LOWERS, WHICH IN MY MIND IS A GREAT WAY TO PRESERVE YOUR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.

LATELY I'VE SEEN A LOT OF ARTICLES THAT TALK ABOUT HOW YOU SHOULD SHOOT YOUR AR. WHAT THE HELL? I SEE VIDEOS OF GUYS HOLDING THEIR RIFLES LIKE BROOM STICKS, WITH THE SUPPORT HAND WAY OUT BY THE END OF THE HANDGUARD.

WITH THE FLOCK OF NEW, LONG HANDGUARDS AND FREAKY HAND SUPPORTS YOU CAN ATTACH TO YOUR RIFLE, IT MAKES ME WONDER WHETHER THIS IS ALL JUST A BIG SALES PITCH BY THE INDUSTRY TO GET YOU ALL TO BUY NEW, CRAZY DOO-DADS FOR YOUR AR15.

I GET VERTICAL FOREGRIPS. THOSE MAKE SENSE.

BUT I DON'T GET "HAND STOPS", OR "ANGLED GRIPS" OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF STAR WARS. THE AR15 HAS BEEN AROUND A LONG TIME, WITHOUT THE NEED FOR THESE GOOFY LOOKING GRIP ACCESSORIES.

AND ABOUT YOUR GRIP - SHOOT YOUR AR ANY DAMN WAY YOU WANT TO. WANNA HOLD IT BY THE MAG WELL? GO AHEAD! STANDARD GRIP AT THE CENTER OF THE HANDGUARD? THAT'S COOL. HELL, IF YOU WANT TO HOLD IT BY THE BARREL, HAVE AT IT. BUT FOR THESE SO-CALLED EXPERT SHOOTERS WHO TELL YOU THAT YOU HAVE TO HOLD YOUR AR AT THE PISTOL GRIP AND AT THE END OF THE HANDGUARD - MAN THAT REALLY ANNOYS ME. THESE "EXPERTS" WHO ARE ALWAYS RETIRED MILITARY OR LAW ENFORCEMENT, SEEM TO HAVE GIMMICKS TO MAKE YOU THINK THEY THEY ARE THE SHIT. MAYBE THEY ARE THE SHIT, BUT THAT DON'T MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING THEY TELL US TO. 

THE LAST THING - NEVER TELL A MAN HOW TO SHOOT HIS OWN GUN. PERIOD. THAT'S JUST PLAIN UNAMERICAN.

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GOVERNMENT VERSUS CIVILIAN FIREARMS DEVELOPMENT- 06/22/16

 

DAMN IT'S BEEN AWHILE SINCE I WROTE ANYTHING ON THE SITE. WE AT GRAPHITE DYNAMICS HAVE BEEN BUSY FOCUSING OUR EFFORTS BACK ON THE MILITARY MARKET. WHY, THE MATH IS SIMPLE, BUT THE REASONING ISN'T.

THE US GOVERNMENT SPENDS SEVERAL BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON VARIOUS WEAPONS SYSTEMS. EVERYTHING FROM TANKS TO REFUELING SYSTEMS FOR JET FIGHTERS TO BODY ARMOR, THE US HAS THE BEST FIGHTING FORCE IN THE WORLD, AND NEEDS TO KEEP THIS BEAST FED WITH THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY. WITH ONGOING MILITARY ACTIONS AROUND THE WORLD, OUR WARRIORS NEED TO BE SUPPLIED WITH THE FINEST AND MOST EFFICIENT EQUIPMENT, GUNS NOTWITHSTANDING.

ANY BUSINESS WHO DEALS WITH THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO GET THROUGH A GAUNTLET OF FORMS, APPLICATIONS, VALIDATIONS AND TESTS IN ORDER TO EVEN QUALIFY TO WORK ON MILITARY BIDS. BUT IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET THROUGH ALL THE B.S., YOU STAND TO MAKE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OVER A 20+ YEAR PERIOD FOR YOUR COMPANY. I'M TALKING RETIREMENT-LEVEL MONEY HERE.

ON THE OTHER HAND WE HAVE CIVILIAN FIREARMS. THIS IS MORE OF A RETAIL SITUATION WHERE YOUR WORK IS SCRUTINIZED BY ANYONE WITH A COMPUTER AND AN INTERNET CONNECTION. IN LIGHT OF THIS, I'VE LEARNED THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS ACTUALLY EASIER TO DEAL WITH THAN CIVILIANS. WHY? BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT IS DIRECT AND EFFICIENT IN THE WAY THEY DO BUSINESS, ACTUALLY MORE SO THAN DEALING WITH CIVVIES.

CIVILIANS ARE MORE TOUCHY-FEELY. THINGS LIKE "OOH I DON'T LIKE THAT SHADE OF BROWN", OR "AW MAN, MY STOCK IS SCRATCHED, NOW I GOTTA GET ANOTHER ONE". WHAT THE HELL? 

I HAVE GOTTEN RETURNS FOR PRODUCTS FOR CRAZY THINGS LIKE "I DIDN'T LIKE HOW IT LOOKED ON MY GUN" OR "IT FELT FUNNY ON MY SHOULDER". SINCE WHEN DID GUNS BECOME DISPLAY OBJECTS? AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO SHOOT YOUR GUN? WHO THE HELL DOESN'T HAVE SCRATCHES ON THEIR AR15? ALL OF MINE DO BECAUSE I USE MY GUNS. GUNS ARE MEANT TO BE USED, NOT DISPLAYED IN A GLASS CASE. ANYONE WHO WORRIES ABOUT A SCRATCH ON THEIR GUN NEEDS TO RECONSIDER WHY THEY ARE IN THE SHOOTING SPORT TO BEGIN WITH.

THE GOVERNMENT ON THE OTHER HAND HAS VERY STRICT FUNCTIONAL TESTS - PERIOD. IF YOUR STUFF WORKS, IT WORKS, AND IF IT DON'T, IT DON'T... NONE OF THE "OH, THAT LOOKS FUNNY" TYPE OF B.S. . BUT WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IS THAT YOU GET SEVERAL LEVELS OF TESTING WHERE YOUR PRODUCT IS SUPPOSED TO FAIL. THIS IS CALLED "LIMIT TESTING", AND IT'S MEANT TO FIGURE OUT THE LIMITS OF YOUR PRODUCT. BASICALLY, WHERE DOES YOUR PRODUCT FAIL? IF YOUR PRODUCT FAILS WITHIN THE FUNCTIONAL LIMITS OF THE REQUIREMENTS, THEN YOU'RE OUT. BUT IF YOU WORK FINE WITHIN THE FUNCTIONAL LIMITS OF THE REQUIREMENTS, AND ONLY FAIL OUTSIDE OF THOSE LIMITS, THEN YOU'RE GOOD TO GO.

WE HAVE BEEN FOCUSING ON THE MILITARY MARKET FOR THIS REASON. NO "OH THERE'S A SCRATCH HERE" OR "HMMM, I DON'T LIKE THE COLOR OF THE ANODIZING THERE". SO FOR NOW WE CONTINUE TO PUT MORE OF OUR WORK INTO MILITARY BECAUSE OF THIS, SO OUR CIVILIAN OFFERINGS ARE SLIM FOR NOW.

I HAD A TALK WITH MY DAD ABOUT THIS SUBJECT, AND HE JUST SHOOK HIS HEAD. "IN THE MARINE CORP, YOU MADE SURE YOUR RIFLE WAS 1005 FUNCTIONAL AND CLEAN, YOU DIDN'T GIVE A SHIT WHETHER IT HAD A SCRATCH OR WHETHER THERE WAS A DING IN THE STOCK. GUNS ARE TOOLS THAT NEED TO WORK EVERY TIME, NOT FUCKING PAINTINGS. IF IF FOR SOME REASON YOUR GUN DIDN'T FIRE, YOU DIDN'T GO TO YOUR C.O. AND CRY ABOUT IT, YOU FIXED WHATEVER FAILED AND GOT BACK IN THE FIGHT". IN SHORT, FOLKS ARE TOO DAMN SENSITIVE NOWADAYS.

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