Friday, December 25, 2015

Philosophy of Use - POU

When you're building, buying, adding equipment, or upgrading an AR, you need to do so with a concept of how the gun will be used. You need to determine what POU the gun is meant to fit into. The POU, or Philosophy of Use, is the way you envision using the gun - and that governs what is best for your rifle. If you don't have a defined POU, then you might be spending a lot of money to make a rifle useless or difficult to operate. When you see a guy with an AR that has a high-power scope, a bipod, a 100-rd drum magazine, 45 degree offset folding back-up sights, a Nightvision optic, and a laser sight/flashlight combo on a 12" barrel rifle, it means they have no clue what their POU is and likely haven't even considered it. Don't be that guy!

There are three well defined POUs that virtually all AR15s fall into:
  1. CQB - Close Quarters Battle-rifle. What this is, is usually self-explanatory. This POU competes with Sub-Machine Guns and compact Pistol Caliber Carbines for use in close quarters, but it provides a more powerful rifle cartridge instead of 9mm or some other erstwhile handgun caliber. There is a strong tendency to shorten the barrel to adapt a rifle to this POU, which reduces the power of the cartridge, but makes the gun easier to use in tight spaces. That is a valid approach, but not required. Many also favor Red-Dot sights for this POU and that makes total sense because the fastest optics (in terms of target acquisition) are Red-Dots because they have unlimited eye relief. Speed and ease of action with these rifles are huge. The key thing here is to have these characteristics:
    • Light weight
    • Fast into action
    • Fast/easy target acquisition
  2. SPR - Special Purpose Rifle. This is a distance shooter in real-world circumstances. Hunting would be a sub-category of this philosophy. The goal here is to make an AR15 that will be able to accurately fire out to 500 or even 600 yards for engaging enemies at a distance. To fulfill that goal, you'll need to make smart weight additions, such as 18 or 20 inch barrels, actual rifle scopes, and maybe even have a bipod. Many people try to make these CQB-capable by adding a very small Red-Dot sight at a 45 degree offset, which is a good idea if you might need this rifle to fill a CQB role from time to time. (That is especially true if you're using something like a 3-9x40 scope.) Again, the focus is on adding as little weight as possible, only "good" weight if you will, so it's easy to carry around over long distances along with the ammo and other gear you bring with you. These types of rifles will have certain key features:
    • Scopes for accurate distance targeting
    • Minimum 16" barrels
    • Extremely accurate, yet corrosion-resistant barrels
    • Smooth/short trigger pull
  3. Competitive Shooting Rifle. This is exactly what it sounds like. Competitive shooters aren't going to war with these guns, so durability is less of a concern. (As long as it won't break or wear out during a match.) Weight is also not a real concern, so heavy optics, having multiple optics, using extremely heavy barrels to increase accuracy, etc are all par for the course. The goal here is to produce the most accurate gun possible. The most common barrel material for these guns is Stainless Steel because of the wear properties and the precision rifling that comes from not chrome-lining or meloniting the bore/barrel. These are very short lifespan barrels, but for this POU, that doesn't matter - you're trying to win tournaments. As Wyatt Earp said: "Accuracy is everything."
So, which is the right POU for you? Let's be honest. If you're reading this blog to learn about the platform, given the little information I put out about competition shooting, you probably aren't a competition shooter, so we can eliminate that POU for your initial rifle build, at least. For most people, the most practical use of an AR15 is for home defense, which is by its nature a CQB POU. What is the greatest possible distance you'll be shooting at within your home? CQB is certainly my focus with an AR15. From my perspective, I tend to think of AR15s in terms of being a 0-300 yard rifle that is capable of reaching out past that if needed. Many would say I view the platform as close-range and I agree. The actual bullet from a 5.56 cartridge is generally only a little larger than a .22lr and one has to use more expensive, heavier rounds (77 gr, for example) to really be effective much past 300 yards. Also, I would have to drive nearly 2 hours to get to a range that had longer than 300 yard targets, so trying to build a 600 yard AR15 would be very impractical for me. As you're considering which POU is best for you, some of what I just mentioned might be a big factor. As for the 3rd option, SPRs, this is where some people will be drawn - whether it be for deer hunting, survivalist uses, or because you don't want to have to get up close and personal to fight if you can help it. If you're going with a SPR build, I think that's excellent, but I have 2 suggestions: 1. Consider making an SPR upper instead of a complete rifle so you can save a little money on the lower, maintain the familiar ergos, and really specialize the uppers for CQB and SPR. 2. If you want to make a single upper that is a "best of both worlds" set up, get a 45 degree offset Red Dot and don't go longer than 18 inches on the barrel.

In general, I tend to ignore the competition use of these guns because I think of them as implements of war and self defense. (And, hunting smaller game or varmints, if you can get magazines that meet the "sporting" requirements for hunting.) However, that doesn't mean they aren't great for competition shooting or that sport shooting isn't a valid reason for owning the guns. It's just expensive and impractical - but, if that's something you enjoy, the expense is well worth it. Golf is expensive too and so are NFL season tickets. To each their own. Unfortunately, there will be a lack of information on the trends of competition shooting on this blog because of my bias.

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