Arsenal M5 Range Report - 16 Dec 2003
Yesterday I finally received the Robinson Arms AK scope mount I had ordered several months ago. They were out of stock, but expecting a shipment from Russia when I ordered. Finally the first week of November they called and said the mounts were in country awaiting customs in Los Angeles and would be shipped in a week or two. Last week they called and said they had the scope mounts in stock and asked if they should still ship my old order. Well, I got it yesterday.
The nice thing about this mount is that it has four adjustment screws so you can do rough sight adjustments that are way beyond what many U.S. Scopes are capable of. Their website says the instructions come with the scope, but I didn't get any. No worries though, it's simple enough.
Surprise! The scope mount would not slide all the way onto my VEPR that it was supposedly designed for. I had pushed it so tight, it took a hard pull to get it off and in the process I scraped a finger. No worries. I have bled upon every U.S. Army weapon system I have ever worked with, so why not an AK scope mount. I tried it on the Arsenal M5S and it slide right on and clamped nice and tight. I took it off, put it back on the VEPR and it got stuck short again. Ohh well, I can figure that out later.
As a follow up to the last accuracy test I picked up a BSA MilDot 6-24 (MD624X40IR) as a cheap way to get high magnification for the range. On it went.
Today in Oregon it was 42 degrees and raining, but I had time after lunch, so off to the Sherwood range I went. On the plus side I had the 100 yard range to myself.
I brought 120 rounds of Winchester Q3131A, preloaded in Bulgarian waffles. The first thing I noticed was I was not anywhere on the paper at 50 yards. I finally figured out I was hitting about 8 feet left and 8 feet high on the rain soaked berm 100 yards away. The scope won't adjust that much.
The scope mount has 4 pins already installed to lock it in place. I thought they were to be user installed after you adjust it yourself and drill the holes. Mine were installed, and everything looked like it had been done at the factory. I was only able to pop out the elevation pins with my meager tools at the range, so could only move the scope up. Now I was hitting low left so made a few scope adjustments.
If I fired center of the target I was getting far left hits at 50 yards, but by centering the third to the left Mil dot, I could at least get a group on paper. Those dots are nice in extreme situations. Power was set to six. Pouring rain. Wet target. Roof covered shooting bench.
50 yard groups:
Five shot group one: 4 ¼”
Five shot group two: 2”
During this phase of the testing I had to burn up over a magazine to figure out where I was hitting and another to get the scope sighted. I had one failure to feed with three rounds remaining in the magazine. Later I had what I thought was a repeat situation, but when I pulled the bolt back a live round came flying out. It was a light primer strike!!! How did that happen? Arsenal?!!!?
Next I moved to 100 yards. Whoa did it hit way to the left. I finally figured out that by aiming on my right target I could get a group on my left target, so that is what I did. I set the scope to 24x. The group looked a little large, like a Romanian .30 cal AK would do, so I decided to fire up the whole magazine for a 30 round group, but I only found 29 holes on the target. I never got as steady as I would have liked so the group suffered. Conditions were not all that good either, but the rain had turned into a drizzle. I had no point of aim for the right side target so I couldn't shoot it anyway.
100 yard group:
8 ¾” maximum spread
6 ¼” if -3 shots
15 of the shots were in a 4” circle
I was disappointed. I've been having a lot of bad luck with this rifle, like Murphy keeps rearing his ugly head. I started loading up the car. When I picked the rifle off the concrete table and started to sling it over my shoulder, the rear plastic attachment clip came unclipped and the rifle swung, but I caught it by the sling, somehow keeping it from slamming the table and started to set it back down on the table. Just at it touched the table the front sling clip came unclipped as well! The rifle just barely escaped damage as its weight shifted to the table and I was left holding only the sling! WTF!? What's up with these Israeli Army slings? Murphy again? I think M5 stands for Murphy5 now. I started laughing. How could so many things go wrong? Next I was hoping my car would start when I got to it and fortunately it did. I made it back from the range alive. Maybe I have a Guardian Angel that steps in to protect me just as things are about to hit the fan.
Fussing with the scope mount so things are more centered should help a lot. The throw lever has an adjustment so it can be changed to accomadate varied rail thickness. Just stare at it for a while in a warm dry place with the correct tools and the revelation will follow.
And feel free to feed it cheap Wolf and Barnaul.
On the RA mount I popped out the final two pins last night in the garage so I can do all the windage adjustments with a screwdriver now.
The throw lever is another matter. I have another type of Russian scope mount that went loose at the range a couple of months ago. I tightened the rail clamp like the tacked instructions in the scope section says and it fits both the VEPR and the Arsenal equally well now. It makes me wonder if it's really that simple a matter with the RA mount. The problem is the mount stops an inch or so short of being fully slid on. I don't think this has anything to do with the throw lever being too tight.
More tests will follow.
Arsenal M5 Range Report – 17 Dec 2003
I went to the range again today.
My intent from the start of these test has been to sight-in at 50 yards, then check the accuracy at 100, 200, and 300 yards, but today I did not make it past 100 yards either.
I was mistaken about the Robinson Arms (RA) scope mount. It does fit on the VEPR. It has a much longer lower rail then other AK mounts, requiring precise placement, and has a tighter fit. The scope mount rail on the VEPR rifle also has a longer lower rail than is typical. I suppose it makes for a more solid mount, but is harder to install and dismount. You would not want to do it in a hurry, and might need a table edge to get it off. The elevation locking screws were extremely handy at the range. When I moved the mount over to the VEPR the point of impact was so low I was splattering mud on the front of the targets, but it was easy to loosen two screws and lower the front of the scope mount.
So along with the M5S and the RA mount with the BSA 6-24x Scope, I also brought along the VEPR K, as well as a cheaper Russian scope mount with a Tasco 3-9x zoom attached.
The ammo was again Winchester Q3131A Lot TG32 and the magazines were Bulgarian waffles. The temperature was 49 degrees.
Well, I blew it. At 50 yards I set up two targets that have 5 aiming circles each. I crossed over a few times so I don't have legally precise groups to report. Some of the groups have extra holes which I am counting for maximum group size, but I am not listing groups with fewer than 5 holes.
Arsenal M5S, BSA scope at 24x, 50 yards:
When I moved the target to 100 yards I thought my shots really spread out. Since I was still using the targets with 5 aiming circles, there was just not enough target space available.
Arsenal M5S, BSA scope at 24x, 5 shot groups, 100 yards:
7” or 2 1/2” if one flier excluded.
8” or 3 1/4” if one flier excluded.
6” or 2 1/2” if one flier excluded.
The rest are so spread out and off target I can't tell what is what.
Without my ruler those big groups looked just awful through the spotting scope. I thought I had a problem. It was not until I got home and measured that it looks better. The strange thing about some of the fliers is that they happened when I thought I had near perfect shots. I was steady, on target, perfect trigger pull, surprise break while precisely on target, and off it goes to the side. A real confidence breaker. I am getting nowhere near the 2” MOA groups this rifle was supposed to deliver.
So I changed scopes and mounts.
Arsenal M5S, Tasco scope at 9x, 5 shot groups, 100 yards:
8 1/4” - minus one missing shot (4 shot group).
Yikes! Very, very bad. What happened? Is something wrong with the mount or scope? Going from 24x to 9x should not do this. But without my ruler it looked only a little worse than the previous results. I thought I had a problem, so switched rifles to compare both rifles and scope/mount.
It was getting dark and I had to leave soon, so I was a bit rushed, and not quite as careful as before for these last shots. But I also noticed the VEPR is a much steadier rifle on the shooting bench. It felt much more solid and locked on target.
VEPR K, BSA scope at 24x, 5 shot groups, 100 yards:
4” or 2” if one flier excluded.
VEPR K, BSA scope at 24x, 10 shot groups, 100 yards:
6” - mostly spread vertically. No more than 2 1/2” L/R.
5 3/4” - eight shots in 2 1/2” group!
So the overall best results at 24x if fliers are excluded:
M5 – two 2 1/2” groups.
VEPR – one 2” group.
The best results if fliers are not excluded:
M5 – 3 1/2”
VEPR - 4”
The worst results:
M5 - 8”
VEPR – 6”
There were no malfunctions of any kind with the M5. The VEPR experienced 4 ejected live rounds. When I had about 3-5 round left in a magazine I would get the dead mans click. When the previous round was ejected, the next live round also flew out of the rifle as if it was ejected spent brass. The bolt then closed on an empty chamber. I need some clues on this folks!
Comments, suggestions, and experiences are welcomed!
Thanks for your range report and your account of problems and solutions.
You fired just the Winchester? Change ammo, bring an assortment, and shoot again.
Have you tried using the iron sights at all?
Also, for curiousity sake....have you tried using the VEPR 5.56mm (converted 5.45) magazine in the SA-M5 for function check?
Keep at it man!
I did an iron sight 5 shot group multiple ammo test a while back. I'll bump the thread called, "What's the latest on the Arsenal SA-M5 series?." Some of those groups at 50 yards were too good to be true and were not repeated with the scope yesterday, so I'll have to do more testing. I really like the 10 shot groups for testing, so will do more of that.
VEPR 5.56mm (converted 5.45)function test - Last night I loaded 4 of them for future tests. I am going to check if the VEPR still ejects live rounds with them, but I can add the M5 to the test as well. I loaded 30 rounds in them. They appear to take up to 32. The rounds don't quite align with the feed lips, the same as with unmodified AK74 mags. If you shake them (30 rounds loaded) you can hear rounds rattling around in the middle like they don't have full spring tension contact.