Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sighting In With Iron Sights

So you got a new AR-15, and while you may have or will soon have an optic to use on it, you definitely want to make sure the BUIS (back-up iron sights) are ready for use in case you ever need to use them.  There are a few different methods to sight in iron sights for the AR-15.  Some of the methods are better than others depending on what type of BUIS you have as well as how you plan to use them (application).  In this blog post, we will offer one simple way to make sure an "A2" style iron sight set-up will be good to go for practical use on your AR-15.


Basic Information:
The rear sight of an A2 upper receiver or detachable carry handle is adjustable for windage and elevation.  Some styles of detachable or flip up rear sight are only adjustable for windage.  Most AR-15 rear sights have a "dual aperture" peep sight.  There is a larger aperture for short distance (marked 0-2 for 0-200 meters), and a smaller concave aperture for longer distances.


When using the short range, larger aperture, your elevation knob should be set at 8/3 for an A2 upper or 6/3 for a detachable carry handle sight on a flat top upper.  When your distance is beyond 200 meters, use the smaller aperture and set the elevation knob to the correct numeral for known distance: 8/3 or 6/3 for up to 300m, 4 for 400m, and so forth...8/3 would also be used for 800m.  You will notice there are positions in-between the numerals for fine tuning at distances in between the 100m settings.

All rear sights have a windage knob, usually on the right (ejection port) side of the weapon.  If you need to move your point of impact to the right, move the knob clockwise.  If your rounds fired are hitting to the right of point of aim, move the windage knob counter-clockwise.

Zeroing:
To "zero" your rifle, you must have the front sight (elevation) and the rear sight (windage and elevation) adjusted so that you and your rifle can hit your point of aim at a given distance.  Here is one easy way...

Set your rear sight elevation knob to 8/3 or 6/3 and raise it (clockwise) one click.  This is the only elevation movement you should perform with the rear sight elevation adjustments during the sight in process.  All other elevation adjustments should be made with the front sight during the sight in process, and once the sights are zeroed, no further elevation adjustments should be made with the front sight (they should hereafter only be made with the rear sight).  For the zeroing sight in process, make sure you are using the small (long range) aperature on the rear sight.  Make sure that the rear sight aperture is in the middle of its adjustment range.  You will notice a small mark on the aperture that will correspond with a center mark on the rear sight base (this is known as a mechanical zero).  Check the front sight's mechanical zero by ensuring the base of the front sight pin is fairly level with the hole for it in the front sight base.


Using a 25 meter zeroing target, aim and fire at the target.  It is a good idea to fire at least 3 rounds and maybe more to be sure of where the bullet is impacting and control any variables that can be a result of improper technique that can occur with just one shot fired.  Take your time and use proper trigger manipulation.  Try to maintain the same cheek weld and sight picture for all three shots (avoid the temptation to disrupt your sight picture to view where your initial shots have impacted).  If the shots did not impact where you would like, measure the vertical and horizontal distance from the center of the "3 shot triangle" to the "bullseye". 

If the group of shots impacted high or low from point of aim, remember to only adjust the elevation on the front sight.  Moving the front sight clockwise will lower the sight and raise your point of impact, counter-clockwise will raise it, and lower your point of impact.  A front sight adjustment tool makes this a fast and easy process, but if you have something with which to depress the plunger on the muzzle side of the front sight pin, needlenose pliers can be used to change the elevation.  One "click" will move the point of impact 1/8" at 25 meters (or 1" at 100 meters).

If the group of shots impacted to the right or left of point of aim, move the rear sight windage knob.  All rear sights have a windage knob, usually on the right (ejection port) side of the weapon.  If you need to move your point of impact to the right, move the knob clockwise (the rear sight aperture will move to the right).  If your rounds fired are hitting to the right of point of aim, move the windage knob counter-clockwise (the aperture will move to the left).  Each "click" will move the point of impact 3/8" at 25 meters (or 1 3/8" at 100m).

Once you have calculated and performed the adjustments to the front sight (elevation) and the rear sight (windage), fire another group of shots and repeat these steps until point of impact matches point of aim.  When finished, move the elevation knob back to the 8/3 or 6/3 setting and flip the rear sight aperture back to the larger, short range aperture unless you will be firing at distances beyond 200 meters.

There are many different methods for setting what is known as a "battlesight zero"...this is a practical method for those whose shooting application is mostly related to personal defense or duty use.  The goal of this type of sight setting is to achieve acceptable battlefield hits from 25-250 meters (acceptable=target vital area hits).  While it is most accurate to do this at as long of a range as possible, adjusting your sights so that point of impact is 2.4 centimeters or just under 1" below point of aim at 25 meters will allow you to achieve a fairly accurate battlesight zero of this type, and place effective hits at the typical distances encountered.

Again, depending on your application (how you plan to use your weapon most of the time), weapon configuration, and range/distance availability, modifications to the suggested procedures in this post may be necessary; the method(s) described here are just one practical way to get your BUIS on target.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we manufacture or the parts we offer at www.del-ton.com, please feel free to contact us.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trigger Manipulation Techniques



Accuracy is the goal of anyone involved in shooting a weapon.  Whether the weapon is a handgun, shotgun, or rifle to be used in self defense, sporting competition, or hunting, placing your shots exactly where you need them to go is likely a high priority and a skill you desire to attain and maintain. 

There exists a great selection of upgraded fire control groups (single stage triggers, two stage triggers, etc...see our previous blog post for basic info) for the AR-15 in the marketplace right now.  These are incredible tools to improve the feel of the fire control parts in your AR and can have a positive effect on accuracy for various applications; however, they are not a substitute for proper technique.  Learning proper trigger manipulation will provide you with a skill foundation that can transfer when you are shooting another weapon that does not have this beautiful, upgraded trigger.  Increased accuracy in shooting your handgun or bolt action rifle is a benefit you may enjoy if you have learned these basic principles in marksmanship with your "stock" AR-15 trigger.

Practice and experience are essential, but practice must be done correctly or it loses much of its value.  In this post, we will provide some general trigger manipulation techniques for an AR-15 with a mil-spec, standard fire control group that should help you begin shooting well or address any bad habits that have been acquired (and without practice or proper technique, we all are prone to this-marksmanship is a VERY perishable skill).

We will start with the interface:  for most shooting applications, the "pad" of your index finger (between the tip of your finger and the first joint) is the area that should be in contact with the trigger.  Moving too far to the tip or closer to the joint can cause the trigger to not be pulled straight to the rear and may even cant the entire weapon, moving it from point of aim or disrupting a good sight picture.  For those new to shooting, or those who have a mil spec trigger that is on the high side of trigger pull weight, this may feel uncomfortable or even difficult.  I think this is one reason why an upgraded fire control group is so popular even with those new to the AR platform.  As stated earlier, developing the strength in your trigger finger and hand and learning to shoot your AR-15 in this manner will only improve your accuracy with the weapon and other weapons you may fire.  Learn your stock trigger first, install that "high-speed" upgrade later.

Magpul MOE K2 Grip

Now, the grip that is on your AR-15 can also have an effect on how comfortable this technique may be and how easy it is to repeat from "muscle memory" if your application prevents you from being able to concentrate on it.  We have already addressed various aftermarket grips and their benefits in a  previous post, but will spend some time here on the subject because it is pertinent. Manufacturers of aftermarket grips offer them in various degrees of angle and size to provide a comfortable grip and proper placement (reach) of the trigger finger for anyone, regardless of hand size or preference.  Recent additions to product lines include grips with more of a vertical, (perpendicular to the rifle) angle.  The Magpul MOE K2 grip is a good example of this style and may work well for those with smaller hand size or finger length.  Its design is for a short AR-15 PDW type rifle, with a shorter length of pull than a typical carbine or rifle.  Standard AR-15 grips have a more "swept back" angle and grips like the TangoDown Battlegrip have a more aggressive angle yet.  The Magpul MIAD grip has a traditional grip angle and interchangeable front and backstraps to meet the needs of just about any shooter. 
Magpul MIAD Grip
When the grip is acquired with proper hand placement (high) and strength (firm, but not overly tight), the pad area of the finger should rest comfortably on the trigger.  The web of your hand should be centered directly at the rear of the grip and at the proper height.  Many of these aftermarket grips have an extended section on the top of the backstrap to cover this area of the lower receiver and allow a very proper and repeatable grip.  So muzzle is on target, safety is moved to fire, and now we squeeze...
 
With only the pad of your finger  touching the trigger, visually imagine it being drawn to the rear to intersect with the middle of the web of your hand at the back of the grip.  Slowly and smoothly (slow is smooth, smooth is fast) pull the trigger to the rear.  The speed and amount of pressure should stay the same while working on these fundamentals.  For focus, mentally say (or verbally, if you want) "smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth..." the entire time until the disconnector releases and the hammer falls.  Especially at first, this should come as a complete surprise.  After this occurs, keep the trigger pulled to the rear; slowly release the trigger while keeping the pad of your finger in contact with it until the fire control group resets from cycling.  Don't release the trigger quickly. By releasing it slow during practice, you can ascertain where your fire control group resets and avoid some of the "take up"  you felt during the initial trigger pull.  As soon as the group resets, you can slowly and smoothly (in the same manner as before) retract the trigger to fire again.

Before following this technique at the range with ammunition, why not practice it at home without? Its free!  Make safety a priority by ensuring that the weapon is unloaded (in fact, make sure ammunition is not even in the same area) and be constantly aware of what is beyond your muzzle. If you are inside at home, select a target from something on the wall across the room, and using your desired shooting position, practice this trigger manipulation technique.  Focus intently on going slowly and smoothly as you pull the pad of your finger directly to intersect with the middle of the rear of the grip.  Now continue to do this, making sure that the weapon is as still as possible throughout the exercise.  Finally, while mentally focusing on the pad of your finger retracting the trigger correctly, be sure to visually focus on your sight picture to make sure that while this technique is performed, proper sight picture/sight alignment is not disturbed.  Practice this way, a lot. Practice it even when you feel proficient in marksmanship.  Practice it before you practice with ammunition on the range.  Practice "dry-firing" after you perform these techniques perfectly while sending rounds down range.  Perfect practice of marksmanship fundamentals like trigger manipulation and sight alignment makes perfect accuracy.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about any of the parts mentioned in this post that we offer at www.del-ton.com or the AR-15 rifles we manufacture, please feel free to contact us.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

AR-15 Triggers And Trigger Upgrades

The critical link between the marksman and the rifle is the trigger.  Yes, the entire "fire control group" (trigger, hammer, disconnector/sear, associated pins and springs) can affect accuracy. The shooter's ability to learn and perform proper trigger manipulation/control has a definite impact on accuracy as well.  Without proper trigger squeeze and accurate shooting skills, most weapons are more accurate in and of themselves than the individual employing them.  However, once these skills are learned and consistently performed, a synergy between an accurate rifle and a trained marksman can result in an impressive degree of accuracy, even from most "stock" factory firearms.  The topic of trigger control and shooting mechanics/skills will be saved for a future blog post...this one will provide some information about simple trigger upgrades that can offer a benefit for some shooting applications.



When upgraded triggers became available, they were mostly designed for, marketed to, and used by those involved in shooting sports like target competitions or other applications where a higher degree of focus is placed on extreme accuracy.  Everyone wants an accurate weapon and the ability to shoot accurately-but these are shooters desiring to achieve truly miniscule shot groups because that is what their application required.  In recent years, the technology and techniques that offered benefits in the "precision shooting arena" has been recognized to offer benefits to other shooting applications, such as 3-gun competitions (where speed is a more important factor), personal defense/training/combat, and hunting. 

Upgraded triggers provide a crisp break without the typical weight, travel, and sometimes "gritty" feeling of a standard, mil-spec, stock trigger.  An upgraded trigger is NO substitute for proper shooting technique/trigger manipulation, but it has the ability to greatly benefit a shooter that has these learned skills, and it can even make it a bit more simple for an individual new to the sport to learn proper technique and enjoy success.

Upgraded triggers usually come in either a single stage or two stage model.  A standard, "mil spec" trigger is a single stage type.  The single stage upgrades simply offer a much smoother and lighter pull, often with a reduced length of travel and a dependable and consistent reset.  Two stage triggers have a longer initial "take-up" (the first stage), followed by a clean, crisp, and light break (the second stage).  Knowing when this break occurs becomes very intuitive to learn and expect-which can be a good thing, provided the shooter has no bad habits and understands proper shooting technique.

Two stage triggers once were primarily used by shooters who were involved in precision applications where this style of trigger offered the greatest benefit; the accepted idea among those in the shooting community was that they were excellent for this type of shooting, but not so much for those applications where speed may be necessary.  Recently, this idea has been challenged by successful performance in other shooting sports and situations and it has become more accepted that the two stage trigger can benefit almost any shooter and shooting style or application.  I would have to agree.
JP Single Stage Trigger

There are quite a few manufacturers who produce great trigger upgrades in both styles.  Del-Ton offers a few examples in a varied price range for any shooter's application and budget.  The Knight's Armament Two Stage Trigger is amazingly engineered and very adjustable for weight and travel, but is also one of the most expensive due to these features.  JP Enterprises makes some of the best feeling and application specific upgraded fire control groups available.  DTI offers a few different versions of their single stage trigger upgrades.  At roughly the same price point is the Rock River Arms Two Stage Trigger that has a loyal following among those who prefer this trigger design.  Del-Ton also offers a  DTI Two Stage Trigger.  It is most similar in operation and design to the Rock River Arms model, but retails for a bit less.  The blue highlighted text areas above will provide a link to each model on our website.  Click here to link to the Midway USA product page and read reviews on the DTI Two Stage Trigger. 

DTI Two Stage Trigger

Installation of any of these is fairly easy, especially with the multitude of online videos and tutorials that can be found with a search engine query.  Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the upgrade triggers we offer at DTI, or how they may work in your AR-15 rifle platform and increase your shooting accuracy and enjoyment, please contact us.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

An AR-15 Holiday Gift Guide


Its now been three days since we set aside some time to give thanks for all of our blessings with some of our most important blessings while we devoured more blessings.  Tonight also marks the 5th night of Hanukkah, and Christmas is only 24 days away!  Since it is a season where we focus on giving as a way to celebrate and remember a Gift given to us, this blog post will be used to offer some gift ideas for the AR-15 owner and enthusiast.  These suggestions would be great gifts and may help stimulate other similar ideas for a perfect black rifle related Christmas gift.  Blue highlighted words in the post below feature links that will take you to the product on our website for easy ordering.

The AR platform's popularity has much to do with its modularity and ability for a single weapon to be tailored for a multitude of specific applications.  If you're looking for a gift for a hunter who wants to get into competitive sport shooting or vice versa, many parts of the AR-15 are relatively easy for the owner/end user to alter.  There are a few essential tools that (along with reputable online instruction) can allow most anyone to make some dramatic changes to their weapon.  If you have a vice and vice block for the weapon (or access to one from a friend, etc...), the TAPCO AR Armorer's wrench makes an awesome gift for the owner of an AR-15.  This wrench is a multi tool, allowing the user to perform barrel swaps, muzzle device changes, remove or replace buttstocks, and a few other tasks as well.  It is important to have a good knowledge of the weapon in order to perform some of the mentioned tasks safely and successfully.  If you are unsure of anything, it is imperative to seek the assistance of a qualified gunsmith to ensure safe assembly and proper testing of variables like headspace any time components like a barrel, bolt, or receiver are altered  Not doing so could result in life threatening, dangerous results.  With the proper tools and knowledge, it is not as difficult or frightening as these last few sentences may have made it out to be.



The barrel kits that are offered on our website are another great gift idea.  They include everything one needs to have a differently configured rifle from the receiver forward (receiver not included).  The barrel and associated small parts, handguards, delta ring assembly (if needed for handguard choice), gas tube, roll pin, and flash hider are all included in the barrel kit product.  Much like our rifles and rifle kits, barrel kits are customizable to allow choice of barrel, gas block, handguard, and muzzle device  from our extensive product line for whatever specific application is desired.  The optional upgrades for these choices are offered at a discount from what the specific part would cost if purchased individually, so it is a great way to give a new look and capability to your current weapon platform...your 16" M4 barreled upper can be transformed into a 20" upper, perfect for predator hunting this winter and for an amazing price.


If your gift recipient has everything "good to go" on  his/her DTI rifle, our website has some great gift ideas in apparel and Del-Ton accessories, too!  There are t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and decals that will help display the pride and enjoyment that is a part of being the owner of a DTI AR-15.  A couple of different apparel options are offered for both the ladies and men, and in some cool designs, fit, and color styles.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we produce or the parts we offer at www.del-ton.com, please feel free to contact us.  Have a safe and fun holiday season!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: Duvdevan, Israel


In our final installment of various foreign special operations military units that use the AR-15 weapon platform as a primary weapon, we have decided to highlight another special forces unit from Israel, the Duvdevan Unit.  Israel has many amazing, elite military units, but the function and capabilities of Duvdevan are both interesting and incredible.

In Hebrew, Duvdevan means "cherry".  There are a couple of reasons offered on various online unit descriptions as to why they were given this name; however, former unit member Aaron Cohen, in his book Brotherhood of Warriors, explains the unusual moniker to clear things up.*  In Israel, there is a species of cherry that looks identical to a normal, edible cherry, but this particular species has a strong and sometimes lethal poison.  By the end of this post, it should be clear that the design and capabilities of this special operations unit mimic (in a tactical and operational manner) its namesake fruit.

Unit History:
The unit motto comes from Proverbs 24:6, "For by wise counsel thou shalt make war."  Duvdevan was formed in 1987 when the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) was under the command of General Ehud Barak.  Around that time period there was a Palestinian uprising (the 1st Intifada) that unleashed an increased tempo of terrorist attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets.  Standard military units and special forces units already in existence were not well suited for responding to and preventing these types and numbers of attacks.  The concept of the Duvdevan unit was implemented and initial unit members were drawn from Shayetet 13, the "Navy Seals" of the IDF.

Duvdevan is tasked exclusively with counter terrorism.  The national police force has a similar unit (YAMAM), but Duvdevan is the exclusive, elite unit of the IDF trained and equipped to prevent and respond to incidents of terrorism.  The unit is designed to infiltrate deep into Palestinian controlled or populated areas of Israel (Gaza, The West Bank, areas of Jerusalem) and arrest or neutralize terrorist targets.  Unit operators "become" Arabs...they speak their language and even dialects, follow their customs, manner of dress and appearance, and behaviors all in order to gather intelligence and ultimately apprehend terrorists and prevent future terrorist attacks.  So, much like their namesake, Duvdevan operators may appear "safe" and normal, but in reality they are quite lethal.

Training and Equipment:
Around 2002, the Duvdevan unit saw some changes made, especially in regard to the recruit training design and process.  Potential unit members have to go through basic and advanced infantry training like any standard IDF infantry soldier.  They do this alongside the IDF Paratroopers Brigade (Tzanchanim), at their training facility.  An initial 24 hour long unit specific test is given prior to their basic training and in later training, a 5 day long qualification test must be passed before admission to unit specific training. In depth psychological interviews and background investigations are also performed prior to any "real"  Duvdevan training.

Following completion of basic and advanced infantry training, the recruit attends an 8 week long "Duvdevan basic training" where urban land navigation skills, counter terrorism training, and combatives techniques are learned.  It is then on to the IDF Counter Terror Warfare School, where all IDF special operations members who are tasked with counter terrorism operations receive training.  Eventual members of the Duvdevan unit receive the longest (duration) and most in depth training at this facility.  This is followed by 16 weeks of Mistavarim (undercover operations) training, where the student is instructed in language and cultural specifics in order to successfully assimilate into Palestinian Arab settlements.  Additional training for unit member specific skills (sniper, medic, demolitions, etc...) occurs before the successful recruit is assigned to a team and begins operations.

Duvdevan operators have access to any of the weapons in use by the IDF.  Due to the nature of  their primarily undercover operations, smaller, concealable weapons are the norm.  Glock and Sig Sauer pistols in 9mm are the standard handguns used by members, and sub machine guns like the Micro Uzi and H&K MP-5 are small enough to be employed in a discreet manner.  Much like their fellow special forces operators, Sayeret Matkal, when a battle rifle or rifle caliber ammunition is desired, Duvdevan operators seem to opt for the Colt Commando configured AR-15.**  The 11.5" barrel and collapsible stock allow concealment and ease of movement in urban terrain and operations, but still offer a weapon with the ballistic advantage of a fast rifle caliber and the mission specific customization provided by the AR-15 weapon platform.

Duvdevan is an important element in the IDF defense against terrorism.  In 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented an award to the Duvdevan unit in recognition of their having the greatest impact of any IDF unit on the war on terror.**  Their selection and use of the AR weapon platform is yet another testament to the value of this amazing rifle for a multitude of applications, but definitely in the defense of life and nation.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we produce at Del-Ton, Incorporated or the AR-15 parts we offer at www.del-ton.com, please feel free to contact us.


*Brotherhood of Warriors, Aaron Cohen
**Interview with former Duvdevan operator, Garret Machine on www.realfighting.com




Thursday, October 31, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: The Special Forces Brigade, Georgia




Sometimes there is power in understatement.  Many special operations units have intriguing or even fear-inducing names...The elite unit of the Georgian military is simply known as, The Special Forces Brigade.  It may not sound all that "cool", but as someone who has trained with members of this unit, I believe their skills and capabilities to be unquestionably elite.  A couple of decades ago, Georgians were part of the Soviet Union.  Georgia became an sovereign state in 1991, but its initial government (s) experienced a fairly tumultuous beginning.  It wasn't until 2003-2004, after yet another political revolution, that reforms were instituted to stabilize and strengthen the nation's government and military.

Unit History:
Small teams of individuals with special skills and who underwent some form of special operations training were active immediately after the state gained its independence.  As stated earlier, the nation struggled as opposing political forces backed by their own armies fought for control and power.  Many of these "special forces" units/operators had previous training and experience in past conflicts, but since the political environment was so fluid, there was not much in the way of training standardization or structure.  Soon after, Turkish and other NATO advisors formulated and instituted a professional training doctrine to begin a quality special operations capability and school for future development.

The Brigade's operations headquarters is located in the national capital of Tibilisi, but unit bases are located throughout the nation.  The Special Forces Brigade served along side U.S. and NATO troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2008.  In 2008, the unit was called home to deal with pressing domestic threats and needs.  It has been reported that they were involved in a very tangible way with USSOCOM components in Operation Enduring Freedom--quite probable since Georgian Armed Forces units have served in OEF alongside the U.S. Marines, and have received praise from NATO command staff for their combat medical skills in this theater.

Training and Equipment:
Modeled after other highly successful NATO special forces training systems, the Georgian Special Forces Brigade provides excellent and thorough instruction for potential unit members.  Schools of instruction include an Airborne School and Ranger School.  Upon successful completion of these two phases of instruction, candidates may apply for The Special Forces Ranger School.  If an applicant succeeds in this course of instruction, he may be admitted to The Special Forces School.  In each course of instruction, students are trained in airborne and airmobile operations, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain), combat medical skills, advanced land navigation, and mountaineering.  It is reported that, from start to finish in these phases of instruction, there is a less than ten percent success rate.  Sounds pretty elite to me.

A multitude of weapons have been employed by the Georgian Armed Forces due to the nature of events the Georgian military has experienced.  Russian military weapons were extensively used in the early days of the nation's forces; as NATO political, financial, and military support increased, so did NATO weapons.  AR-15/M4 (M4A1) weapon platforms have been the primary battle rifle used by the regular army and The Special Forces Brigade.  Recently, the Heckler and Koch HK416 has been issued and in use; the Georgian military has even designed and begun production on a similar model known as the G5, as an alternative to the M4A1.  The main difference in the HK416/G5 and the M4A1 is that the former uses a piston operating system rather than the standard AR direct gas impingement system.


The Georgian Special Forces Brigade is truly and elite special operations unit that has been of genuine assistance to U.S. forces in the GWOT; their selection to use the AR platform to defend their nation and fight against terrorism is further evidence of the amazing value and dependability of this weapon.  Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the  AR-15 rifles we produce at Del-Ton, Inc. or the parts we offer at www.del-ton.com, please contact us.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: Sayeret Matkal, Israel



Our previous blog post in this series highlighted Shayetet 13, a special operations element of the Israeli Navy.  If Shayetet 13 bears a resemblance to the U.S. Navy's Seal Teams (and since they share the same design history and train together, they do), then Sayeret Matkal can be viewed as strikingly similar to the U.S. Army's Special Forces elements.

Unit History And Operations:
Sayeret Matkal may be understood as General Staff Reconnaissance Unit in Hebrew.  The unit originated officially around 1957, and took part in active operations during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and Operation Wrath of God (detailed in the previous blog entry). Due to the threat of terrorism in Israel, the unit's activity has been and remains quite high. Their main tasks consist of deep reconnaissance (intelligence gathering), direct action raids, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue.  This last function is what may have gained them the most notoriety. 

IDF Lt. Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu
On July 4, 1976, a Sayeret Matkal team performed a hostage rescue raid on a hijacked Air France plane containing 248 passengers at the Entebbe airport in Uganda.  The plane had been hijacked by a PLO "predecessor" terrorist organization (PFLP-Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).  The Ugandan government, headed by dictator Idi Amin, supported the terrorist organization and welcomed them to his nation's airport.  Israeli and Jewish hostages were separated from other passengers by the terrorists and threatened with death.  With the benefit of Mossad intelligence, a raid/rescue was designed and Sayeret Matkal operators were flown from Israel to conduct the mission, Operation Thunderbolt.  For the most part, the mission was a success:  the majority of hostages were rescued, only three hostages were killed-but all the terrorists and 45 Ugandan soldiers were also killed in action.  While only five Sayeret  Matkal operators were wounded, the Unit Commander Yonatan Netanyahu was killed during the mission.  Lieutenant Colonel Netanyahu is the brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also served in the unit.

Sayeret Matkal has been involved in more recent (2006) missions of known importance as well.  Unit members performed reconnaissance tasks and collected evidence to support Operation Orchid, where IDF airstrikes were carried out to destroy a secret nuclear facility within Syria.  Though Syria denies having a nuclear facility, post mission analysis, CIA intelligence, and evidence collected by the International Atomic Energy Agency seem to prove otherwise.

Unit Weapons, the AR-15/M-16:
The weapons used by the operators in Sayeret Matkal are similar to those used by many IDF elements.  Battle rifles chambered in 5.56X45 Nato include the historic Galil and more recent and innovative Tavor bullpup style rifles.  The main battle rifle throughout the IDF, however, is the AR-15/M-16 platform.  It is seen in use by multiple elements in a variety of configurations.  M16A1 style rifles are used by many "regular army" IDF units, including federal law enforcement and border guard entities.  These weapons are often allocated to and used by civilians for defense.  M4 variants and configurations with much shorter barrels/overall lengths tend to be those most used by elite units within the IDF.  The Colt Commando/XM-177 style rifle with an A1 upper and 11.5" barrel is noticeable in photographs of various IDF special operations units. 

A number of companies produce and market AR-15 rifles and parts in Israel.  FAB Defense/Mako Group, Gilboa Rifles, and Meprolight sights and optics are all manufacturers of quality and literally "battle tested" AR-15 components.

While special operations units have at their service the latest in weapons and accessories to perform their mission, it is at least interesting and perhaps educational to notice (in rare photos of the units) that many of the AR platform weapons are "arranged" in a farily basic manner. There may be some mission specific accessories mounted and employed, but it is rare to see them weighed down with a zillion unnecessary attachments.  This may be an even more powerful point considering the operational tempo in which the IDF in general, and Israeli special operations units in particular experience.  Just something to consider...the weapon (regardless of features) doesn't make you tactical-you make the weapon tactical. 

The use of the AR weapon platform by the IDF and Sayeret Matkal is simply another testament to the amazing capability of this rifle to excel in the purpose of its design.  Thanks for reading our blog; if you have any question regarding the AR-15 rifles we manufacture or the parts we offer at www.del-ton.com, please feel free to contact us.

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