Written by ILya Koshkin
Revisited in December 2017: If I could Have Only One, Alternate Scenario
This is a follow up to the post I wrote earlier where I think my way through three weapons (handgun, rifle and shotgun) that are all supposed to do a bit of everything.
Now, I am going to change my boundary conditions a bit: this time around I am not looking to have everything do everything. I like having some crossover, but I am not going to mandate maximum versatility for every weapon system. Also, I am going to open the door to potential carry, concealed or otherwise, for the handgun.
When I was looking for maximum versatility for everything I settled on Remington 870 with ghost ring sights, AR-15 in 6.5 Grendel and long slide 10mm Glock.
I will leave my choice of a shotgun alone since I am not a shotgun guy and a pump gun with ghost ring sights covers defensive scenarios and hunting within a reasonably close range well enough for my needs.
The selections for handgun and rifle, however, change.
A handgun for me is primarily a defensive and plinking weapon. Hunting with a handgun, while interesting, is not much of a priority, so if I have a different weapon system for hunting I can compromise on that. Also, once you need to carry a handgun, a longslide Glock is less than ideal, and a 10mm cartridge in a smaller gun is a bit more pop than I am looking for. I have experimented with it a little and the after shot recovery is slower than I like.
With that in mind, the choice of a handgun changes to a different Glock. The ideal option would probably be Glock 19 with co-witnessed red dot and irons, but I do not own one of those (something I may rectify if I manage to get my hands onto a Gen 5 Glock). So, in the spirit of trying to work with the guns that I actually own, I will settle on my Glock 17. Mind you, it is a bit modified, which makes it very suitable for this. The grip is made a bit smaller and shorter, so it can accept both Glock 19 and 17 length magazines. It also prints quite a bit less when you carry (not that I can carry in public in California, but that does not prevent me from experimenting at my own house and where legal). The slide is the Atom from Unity Tactical, which makes it fairly easy to mount a red dot, co-witnessed with iron sights. At the moment, I have Insight MRDS on there, which is not an ideal choice. It is a nice red dot, but it is bulkier than I like, uses a battery that noone else uses, and mine has a 3.5 MOA dot. On a handgun, I use primarily for defensive purposes, I prefer a larger dot (7-8 MOA seems ideal). With handgun mounted red dot sights, out of all I have seen, the two I like the most are Doctersight III and Shield RMS. My Doctersight III also has a 3.5 MOA dot, but since it sits on a long slide 10mm that I built for hunting, I am OK with that. Shield RMS sits on a Glock 43, which was one of my contenders for this and if concealed carry was the primary purpose, it would be my choice. Hence, until such time as I get my hands onto another Doctersight or Shield, Insight MRDS it is. I just took a class with it at Frontsight and it worked well enough, but eventually it will end up on a carbine of some sort. I think it works better there.
The trigger is, again, Travis Haley’s excellent Skimmer design. It is about as good as non-competition Glock triggers get.
A natural question, of course, is why I am going with a 9mm vs a host of other cartridges people like. While cartridge discussions can go on forever, all data suggests that with modern bullets there is no practical difference between 9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP, etc for defensive use. I’ll leave it at that. I can shoot 9mm well, with rapid follow up shots and reasonable accuracy. It does not hurt that it does not jam. For basic defensive use, anything smaller than a 9mm seems to compromise effectiveness, while anything bigger compromises shot-to-shot speed. With hunting out of the picture, 9mm seems to be the sweetspot.
With rifles, I am probably going to make the most radical change of all. As much as I like my ARs, if I have a shotgun and a handgun aimed at home defense, my rifle becomes a bit more dedicated for hunting and precision shooting and that means “bolt action”. Also, since the shotgun covers closer distances quite nicely when hunting is concerned, I want the rifle to be able to reach way out there. If it was precision shooting only, the choice would be obvious: I have a DTA SRS bullpup precision gun that is freakishly accurate with both barrels I have (338LM and 6.5x47L). It is, however, kinda heavy.
My general purpose hunting rifle is an old Tikka M695 in 280Rem that sits in McMillan. It is more accurate than any gun this inexpensive has any right to be, but the barrel is on a thin side. While it is an absolutely superb hunting rifle (especially with the stunning Leica Magnus 1.8-12×50 scope on it), it is not the best fit for target shooting since the barrel heats up pretty quickly. It maintains accuracy well enough, but I do not want to overheat it.
Enter The Fix. It is a new bolt action rifle designed by a company called Q out of New Hampshire. It appears to be a very new take on boltguns and with their design I get a 7lbs rifle with a 20” 6.5 Creedmoor Bartlein barrel, AR-style ergonomics, compatibility with AR-10 magazines, fully adjustable folding stock and an excellent two stage trigger. With the Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15×50 scope in an Aadmount and a sling, it will weigh less than 10lbs. That is something I can use for both hunting and target shooting, with 6.5 Creedmoor taking me out to 1200 yards on targets and further than I need to on game.
The Fix has a very short lift bolt ( 45 degrees), so it remains to be seen how quickly I can manipulate it. Another nice feature is that the barrels are easily user replaceable, so I plan to take advantage of that and add a 300WSM barrel/bolt combination to it for hunting purposes (and a wider, softer recoil pad…). Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, The Fix is still sitting at my FFL, so I can not make any pronouncements on how well it really works.
Until I spend some time with it, my choice is the DTA SRS. It is a bit on a heavy side, but the bullpup configuration makes it surprisingly well balanced. Besides, I do a hell of a lot more target shooting than hunting anyway. I have two barrels for it: 338LM and 6.5x47L. While the 6.5x47L is a very pleasant cartridge to shoot, the 338LM is a bit of a handful, while still manageable. The reach, power and stability at distance with the 338LM though is something you simply do not get with smaller calibers. With a If I can see it, I can hit it. With a 250gr Bulldozer bullet from Badlands Precision moving out at close to 3000fps, if I can hit it, I can destroy it. Here is a picture of the DTA with the excellent VORTEX Razor HD AMG 6-24×50 on it:
While with a smaller caliber, I would default to the Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15×50, with the 338LM, I want a bit more magnification. On a rifle where weight did not matter, I would just step up to the Tangent Theta TT525T 5-25×56. This is where the AMG 6-24×50 comes in. It is barely an ounce heavier than the TT315M, while offering excellent optics and turrets. On a gun where I want more than 20x of magnification and that might be carried into the field, the AMG is an easy choice.