KISS Part 2
This is the biggest thing that comes up in the Guns, Tactics, Gear discussion. KISS Carbines. The opinions on what KISS stands for on a Carbine range from an Irons only non freefloat A2 style handguard and maybe a collapsible stock with a 2 point sling to the efficient only the bare bones for a Fighting Practical Carbine – Red Dot, White light and 2 point sling with a Magpul MOE style handguard.
The vast majority of the Iron sights only crowd when questioned will admit that they don’t have the money for a quality red dot hence preaching the irons only mantra. The other part of that crowd is broken up between the crowd who hasn’t used a quality red dot – i.e. Aimpoint – and the crowd that just shoots paper bullseyes during the day when Irons are somewhat useful.
The Fighting Practical KISS Carbine crowd is commonly found to say the following things are a must on a fighting rifle; Optic (red dot or ACOG style), 2 point adjustable sling and quality white light. Some will say that the white light is truly optional as well. A good non free float handguard like the Magpul MOE line is perfect for this application. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m covering a Home Defense, LE patrol rifle in the definition of a Fighting Carbine.
KISS doesn’t mean you skimp on the parts or neglect items that are a must have because of the goal of saving money. KISS means making it streamlined and efficient for only the given task.
There are several things that people buy that are not a must have on Practical KISS Carbine, but are useful items nonetheless. Repeating, THEY ARE NOT A MUST NOR ARE THEY CRAP.
· Vertical Fore Grips
· Visible Lasers
· Free Float Rails
· Rail Covers
· Upgraded Flash Suppressors
· Sound Suppressors
· Aftermarket pistol grips
· Triggers, Ambi-Safety’s, Charging Handles, etc.
The one caveat to all of my parts/gear recommendation is that I refuse to use or buy junk when a quality option is available. Generally I’m a made in the USA only person as well – with the very noticeable exception of Aimpoints.
I’m going to use the topic of Visible Lasers to cover why I’m a “gear snob.” There is a reason why a quality visible weapon laser costs over $200-1,700 a piece. These items need to be able to retain zero from the recoil of a weapon as well as have a good run time and bright enough laser to not be washed out with the use of a 200-250 lumen weapon light. An excellent comparison of the quality of the Surefire X400 to the Streamlight TLR-2 is found here: http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=67758
If you didn’t know already by using the two companies products, there is a huge quality difference. I am working on a longer term review of the X400 and its possible uses for a future post.
Back to KISS and what is the minimum needed gear setup for a KISS carbine. First. Sighting systems. Why is a red dot a must? Simple. World is not always light out. Can you see your iron sights in the dead of night? No. Can you see them in the poor lighting of dusk/sunrise? No. Can you see them in a poorly lit house? No. Can you see them in the same low light or no light situation with the aid of a flashlight, either hand held or weapon mounted? Maybe. Do you always need a light to see your target and have confirmed it’s a threat? No. Do you need to make your goal acquiring your sights before shooting? Yes.
Now that the theory has been covered, I’m going to post a suggested range drill. This will be done with a carbine in multiple variations. This is to be shot in a no light range condition – i.e. NIGHT! Starting at 7 yards, see if you can even see your iron sights on the rifle. Next, Red dot only. Then try both sighting systems with a handheld light and weapon mounted light. Then its time to shoot. I personally recommend you shoot the course of fire with a Irons and Weapon Mounted Light Carbine first and then a Red Dot and Weapon Mounted Light Carbine second.
Keep your shot timer and a piece of paper and pen handy. The drills will be started from the low ready position.
· 7 yards, 2 shots 1 target, 2.5 seconds
· 15 yards, 2 shots 1 target, 3.5 seconds
· 25 yards, 2 shots 1 target, 4.0 seconds
· 50 yards, 2 shots 1 target, 6.0 seconds
· 7 yards, 2 shots per 2 targets, 3.5 seconds
· 15 yards, 2 shots per 2 targets, 5.0 seconds
Compare your times. Personally I barely make the times with a iron sighted rifle with weapon light carbine whereas I cut the times in half with the Red dot weapon mounted light carbine.
Next I urge you to take both weapon set ups, verify that they are cleared and safe and your house is empty. Then practice clearing it with the various lighting modes you leave the house in during dark hours. See if you could identify a threat vs. a non –threat. Is that bump in the night and dark shadow my kids, the neighbors kids sleeping over, visiting relatives, or is that a thief?
I’ve done this both in the practice “square range” as well as the real world – building clearing, barricaded subject situation, etc. What have I found? Red dots are king at everything buy one topic by a landslide. The one time they might be less efficient than irons is on a static day light bullseye shooting. MAYBE. And since square range is not the real world, don’t let it dictate something that could save your life.
So now that you see the must haveness of a red dot, next I’ll cover a weapon mounted light. Obvious use, to see with. More defined its to identify a threat/non threat in low light/no light conditions. I personally will only use Surefire lights on guns that my life may depend on at this time. However the Inforce WML is something to watch for as they are a serious contender in the market at a very reasonable price point. For a KISS Carbine, you will be best served by something simple like the Surefire G2X or P2X Fury single stage lights in a VTAC mount. This can be mounted to the excellent Magpul MOE drop in handguard.
Sling. Needed to carry the gun. Two point is the way to go. This will allow for easy carry and control of the weapon in the vast majority of scenarios you may find your self using the gun in. For a LE viewpoint, you have to go hands on with someone, you’ll need to sling the weapon in a way to use both hands for going hands on. If you happen to have a weapons malfunction with your rifle and are carrying a pistol, it will allow you to safely drop the rifle and draw your pistol. Going much more into the topic of slings is not the point of this post though. Either the Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Applications Sling or the SOB-B Sling. You can secure them with a simple piece of 550 cord to keep things simple.
Handguard. I already mentioned the best option for this role, the Magpul MOE drop in handguard. It has a far better feel than that standard USGI drop in and is versatile and modular where the USGI is not. Pick up the Magpul “illumination kit” or the add on rail section for weapon mounted light compatibility and your ready to go.
Anything beyond this is nice and has it’s purpose, but is not mandatory for a fighting carbine when your on a budget – most individual LE and CCW budgets.
An example of something that is a good first upgrade to a Kiss weapon, is free float handguards. Kyle Lamb of VTAC said that pressure on a non free floated rail will result in point of aim point of impact shift of up to one foot at 100 yards. That is a big difference if you are having to make the shot to save a loved one or a hostage. Just keep that in mind.
As for the other mentioned upgrades to a carbine, I’ll cover them at some point but not in the KISS topic.
Hope this helps provide a bit of insight into the topic. KISS should not mean ineffective, it should be simple without removing any equipment advantage gained in the year 2012.
Here is a picture of a rifle that fits my definition of a KISS weapon (with a few non KISS accessories that were lying around) and a rifle that is clearly not a KISS weapon.