Tactical VS Tacticool Part 1: Self Defense Rifles

By on October 15, 2015

Outfitting and modification of the AR-15 rifle

2015-09-16 15.55.13

                 We live in a generation of First Person Shooter (FPS) videogames. While I enjoy the occasional chaos of a FPS, I fear that too many people think that how the guns are set up in the video games is the best way to set up their actual firearms. Yeah, they look really cool to have a laser, suppressor, vertical grip, IR (Infrared) scope and various other random pieces of gear; but, will these things actually help you when you are shooting, or will they prove to be a hindrance? Here are a few thoughts I have on how to outfit a rifle for actual use in a combat/self-defense situation, instead of making it look cool. For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing a combat/self-defense rifle setup, specifically for an urban environment.

First up, optics. There are a huge variety of combat/self-defense oriented optics that are now available for purchase by your average every day gun owner. A lot of people out there think that you should be using whatever the military is… because well, they obviously need them for combat right? Wrong. I would have been perfectly happy using a non-magnified reflex sight or red dot (with wide field of view) over the magnified ACOG that we were given in the Marine Corps. The magnified optic was nice while shooting at the 500 yard line during the Marine Corps rifle range for qualification. Real world application wasn’t quite as nice though. In the tight spaces of an alley way or inside of a residential or commercial space, the magnification was a nuisance. I have found that shooting in a confined environment with a reflex sight was much easier because I could keep both eyes open in order to assess any other threat that wasn’t centered in the glass of my optic. I think that the reflex sight make target acquisition much quicker and more effective than it was with the ACOG.

Next, let’s talk about added grip accessories. Now, I personally like to run a vertical grip on the fore-end of my rifle, but it really isn’t needed. I like having the vertical grip to improve my handling or maneuverability. The thing is, I could do the same thing by simply putting my forward hand (left hand) on the magazine well. Just be careful not to apply any torque on the magazine while gripping the rifle. Doing this could actually cause magazine feeding issues, and you don’t want your gun to go down because of something silly like that during a firefight. There are companies that actually make a device that rests around the magazine well to improve your ability to grip and reduce the malfunction factor, if you want to go that route.

The last point; Less is more! Ounces mean pounds! I am sure that there are many other ways to put that, but we’ll stop there out of fear of babbling. If you have never carried your fully loaded ‘tacticool’ rifle on any type of extended patrol, trust me when I say that you will be uncomfortable carrying it for too long. When you start adding all sorts of craziness such as bipods, laser boxes, double mags (or even the 100 round drum mag), or any other nonsense that you can think to put on the gun, the weight of your rifle will quickly climb to the 10-15 pound realm. Yeah, I know, 10 to 15 pounds isn’t really that heavy, right? Wrong answer. I can feel confident in saying that I can fight longer and more effectively with my rifle with minimal gear than someone with all the bells and whistles on theirs could. Try it out though, go walk around with your fully kitted out rifle (no ammo) for a good hour or two then tell me how well you think you could run that gun when things go south. The point is that you have to carry your rifle, your body armor, extra magazines and ammunition, water, gear bag, food etc., the last thing you want along with all that weight, is an extra ten pounds attached to your rifle.

At the end of the day, you can outfit your self-defense rifle however you want. I just hope that you take in to consideration some of the points that have been discussed in the article so that you are more effective at defending yourself and your family. Remember, train how you fight and you’ll fight how you train.

Prepare for the worst… and hope for the best,

John V.
Sparks Firearms