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trob09

customized M4 AAR

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Hi. I've been a member here for a while, I don't post much but have learned a lot. I just wanted to post a quick after-action report of my M4 from a week-long shotgun class.

 

The shotgun:

Benelli M4, factory collapsable stock

FFT full length magazine tube and 922r compliance parts

Scalarworks rail with Trijicon RMR (I forget which model, 3.5 moa adjustable brightness)

AVA tactical light mount with Surfire light/remote pressure switch

FFT charging handle

tacstar side saddle

mesa tactical single-point sling QD mount

GG&G oversized release pad

 

The class:

Gunsite 260 and Shotgun ATP. The 260 is primarily square-range drills on using the shotgun (patterning/zeroing, manipulations, positions, target engagement, etc) and the ATP is more dynamic application (indoor/outdoor simulators, shoot/no-shoot discretions, time pressure or other pressures, etc.) more info is available from Gunsite.

 

Rounds fired:

600 rounds 00 buck

200 rounds slug

100 rounds #7 bird

 

thoughts:

The Benelli performed as expected, I was only slightly surprised that it seemed to need a bit more cleaning than other firearms (I tend to not clean my guns during these kinds of cases - test out how they work in more adverse conditions like after a few hundred rounds) This resulted in a couple of FTE issues, but only a couple - as in 2 or 3 during the whole class. I did clean the Benelli on Wednesday and saw no further failures. maybe it was under-lubed.

 

The Rail/RMR combo is just about perfect. my only wish is that there would be an option of reversing the mount so the RMR would be at the front of the rail. Still, I was very happy with this set-up.

 

The AVA mount with the Surefire worked very well also. I did have an issue on day 1 where the light was not held firmly in the mount. I first tried some rosin - which did not do the trick, but a couple of winds of electrical tape did the trick - no future issues.

 

The only real issue I faced with the set-up all week was with the FFT charging handle, which would come out at inopportune times. On one occasion, it ended up 10~15 feet behind me after a string of fire. While I like this handle, I will be going back to the stock charging handle as I feel it is more secure within the bolt carrier. At least 1 other person in the class had the same charging handle and experienced the same handle ejection as I did, So I feel a little more confident that it wasn't just me.

 

Anyway, Thanks to the forum and members for leading me to these valuable additions to an already solid platform.

Edited by trob09
stupid auto correct keeps making Benelli say Bengali...

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Know I have to remember if I have the FFT or GG&G Charging Handle.

 

How was the course itself?

?eta: I have the GG&G, I wonder if it would have the same issues.

Edited by Retired
added info

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The course itself was very good. I've been to Gunsite multiple times so I know what to expect and generally how things operate there. It was fairly typical for a Gunsite class. my hands were pretty beat-up from loading and unloading the shotgun for a week. A typical expectation at Gunsite is that it's the student's responsibility to keep their firearm loaded and ready, so everyone automatically loads up after every string of fire. While Gunsite is a hot range, they do not permit racking of loaded firearms, so if you're leaving the line and not going to keep the firearm slung or holstered on you, you unload. this means that each round was probably loaded and unloaded at least twice before being fired...

 

A friend of mine has commented in the past that he will never trust his life on a firearm unless he has taken it to Gunsite for a shake-down cruise. I tend to agree with his assessment. I never would have seen the issues with the light mount or the handle without the stress of the class. In 'normal' operation like going to the range for a day with 2~5 different firearms, putting 50~100 rounds through each, neither would have likely shown up. the light mount issue was ultimately no big deal, the charging handle is more concerning for me. Having no way to manually run the bolt could be a big deal.

 

I've had similar experience in handgun and rifle classes - some things just didn't work for me and I changed them after the class. Gunsite isn't the only resource for doing this - by far - but they have been around, seen a thing or two and have some experience.

Edited by trob09

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Good write up. It mirrors my experiences with the M4 except the cleaning part. On mine, I've just periodically added more oil and the firearm never had any failures related to dirt and grime. I went about 2500 rounds before I got bored and cleaned it for the **** of it. No surface rust or corrosion was detected, but I also live in Arizona, so your mileage may vary. You need to shake it down hard before you trust your life on it. 12 gauge recoil is brutal on accessories. Expect your light to hit the dirt if you don't have your rings tightened up sufficiently. Using tape can help with a little more bite on the ring's grip.

 

I mark my fastener screws. Sometimes just with a silver sharpie. Sometimes with a paint pen if I have one. It will give you a visual reference to your fasteners to determine if they're loosening up under recoil.

 

Check your choke periodically. Even tightening one down with a Briley choke wrench can still come loose.

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yes, as I say it may have been under lubricated. Once I cleaned and lubed it - not a single problem.

 

In truth, I showed up at class without having ever put a single round through the M4 - either before or after the mods. while that may have been a bit foolish, I did have my trusty M1S90 as a back up - and I have put thousands of rounds through it in the couple of decade I've had it.

 

I hear you on the effect of 12 gauge recoil. even the 'bone crushing recoil' of 5.56 can shake loose an accessory or two. I am not really sure what happened with the light mount, everything was tightened down properly and hadn't moved. my specific light mount and my specific light might be a thousandth or two off. the light was assembled from some spare parts I had laying about. it 'felt' secure until the rounds started to go downrange. As I say, 10 or 50 rounds would not have shown the issue, it wasn't until we'd shot a few hundred rounds that I noticed it was loose - not falling out, but moving.

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the tacstar side saddle worked, but it is not the best solution as far as I am concerned. since the shell holder part is plastic, it expands/contracts with heat changes, making shells either easier or harder to remove. That means first thing in the am, the shells you'd put in previously are difficult to remove - an important consideration for a speed-load. later in the day, after it's been in the sun a while, shells are close to falling out under recoil. also not a great situation. The Tacstar saddle also requires removal of the trigger guard pin and replaces it with a bolt that holds the carrier backing in place. This bolt needs to be tightened just enough to keep everything snug but not so much as to cause binding on the bolt travel. once that sweet spot is found, it needs some blue lock tite to keep it there or it will loosen with a few dozen rounds. any time you want to take out the trigger-group, you would also need to remove the carrier and then find that sweet spot again. Lastly, the plastic shell carrier part needs to have those 6 tiny screw lock tite-ed down to the mounting plate or they'll come right out within a few rounds.

 

the product available from asguard defense or mesa tactical are superior in my opinion, but they would eliminate the possibility of using the scalarworks rail/trijicon RMR. I had contemplated using my asguard rail (which I bought a long time ago - when I first got the M4) with an aimpoint micro or irons or using a less-than-optimal carrier. I decided the sight/mount was used for every round, the carrier was used far less frequently.

 

An ideal solution would be for Scalarworks to look into a side-saddle/rail/RMR mount (cough cough....)

Edited by trob09

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Thanks.

I am swapping an Insight (now someone else) MRDS for the Trijicon RMR with the Scalarworks mount. I plan on cutting the rail portion of the mount off and cutting part of my (GG&G) side saddle off to run the gun that way.

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excellent write up. I too plan on doing the same Gunsight courses. I just got the FFT charging handle and was noticing that it does remove very easily, thinking I will look into a different handle as I expect that I will experience the same issue once running the gun harder than a few rounds at the range. If anyone has opinions on a better charging handle alternative hopefully you can post up here with real world experience..

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@Retired - yes, I contemplated the same with my Asgard rail, but I thought I'd see how things work out before I started cutting up things.

 

@ PCKLST - with the FFT handle I just got into the habit of tapping it into place every so often and that seemed to work ok. Given an option, though, I would have just used the stock handle. If you've not been to Gunsite before, I think you will enjoy the class. Make sure to do the 260 + SATP together if you can. If you've been there before, you know what to expect. I'm a big fan of Gunsite, having made my first trip back in the early 90's to orange Gunsite. I try not to clog up boards with promotional content.

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excellent write up. I too plan on doing the same Gunsight courses. I just got the FFT charging handle and was noticing that it does remove very easily, thinking I will look into a different handle as I expect that I will experience the same issue once running the gun harder than a few rounds at the range. If anyone has opinions on a better charging handle alternative hopefully you can post up here with real world experience..

 

GG&G charging handle.

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Same with my fft handle. They claimed not to know anything about it. I tried to file mine to fit but I ended up making a mess of it. Tossed it and went back to original and never looked back.

 

I use fft trigger and disconnector and followers though.

 

I do really like Asgard products BTW, super nice cleanly made stuff

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