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Old November 17, 2009, 11:06 PM   #1
parallel
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Magpul Dynamics "Dynamic Carbine" 1&2 (A VERY surprising Colt failure)

I attended a firearms training course (Magpul Dynamics Dynamic Carbine 1 & 2) for the first time in 15 years from November 6th through the 8th. As most of you know I am former military and former law enforcement. For much of my twelve years in the U.S. Navy, I was a Combatant Craft Crewman in a Naval Special Warfare Boat Unit and a Military Police Patrolman. Firearms are tools of those trades, and just as I still have and use the tools that I used when I made a living as an electronic alarm technician, I still have and use the tools I used back then. Also, I think it’s fair to say that my current firearms hobby is my version of a mid-life crisis. It reminds of the good ol days when I could run and jump and do things that I just can’t do any more. The difference though is that, unlike a shiny new Corvette, my hobby can help keep my family safe during a whole different kind of crisis. Hurricane Katrina opened my eyes to the reality of just what can, will and obviously has happened when the basic building blocks of society breaks down (even if for only a few days). Another factor that led me to participate in this training is the change in my physical ability since an October 2000 vehicle crash. I have worked long and hard to rehabilitate my broken body to be able to do the physical activity required to participate in a rigorous training program. I also felt that I needed to know what my physical limitations were/are so that in the event I find myself in a situation to need to use these tools for real, I will have a much better chance of survival. I will get into some of the lessons learned concerning physical ability later in this review.

Anyway, now that I have explained my motivation for taking this course, let me get to the review of the course. As one can imagine, finding a location ideally suited to this type of training is difficult to say the least. We were very fortunate to have a couple of guys from BayouShooters.com who did a great job of organizing this event and even more so to have Tommy and Joe Wong who allowed us to use their very fine private range facilities in Robert LA. The amount of preparation and hospitality was over the top. I will be referring to some of this preparation and hospitality later in this review.

I have been through a LOT of firearms training programs in my life and I was bracing myself for the kind of “my way or the highway” format that has been the hallmark of the vast majority of training I have attended. I was pleasantly surprised by the very down to earth, fact based instruction provided by Chris Costa, Travis Haley & Mike Lamb. Their lack of ego was surprising given their backgrounds (I had to google the names as I didn’t know until after I had signed up for the class just how extensive those backgrounds are). These guys truly do live (or at the very least train) by their motto; “Reality. Efficiency. Consistency.” The weapons handling techniques that they teach are aimed at helping their students live by those principles as well. They show the student the technique, then it is up to the student to try it and decide if it works for them or not. If a person is truly honest with their self and gives the technique a fair shake, it is very unlikely that it won’t work better for them. That is not to say that a student might not happen to have a better way. That was one of the things that just simply amazed me about the Magpul Dynamics instructors. During our lowlight/night shoot, there was a suggestion made by one of the students. Travis thought about it for a second and decided that they would see about getting a helicopter and give the suggestion a try, if it proved superior the new way will be implemented not only into the training program, but also into any future operations that the instructors may be a part of. THAT to me was VERY impressive. It showed me (and I’m sure many others present) that when these instructors say that they are only interested in what works the best, they mean it.

I am not going to go into all of the weapons handling techniques that are part of the course. There are several very good reviews of these courses that do a great job of breaking down the mechanics of this course. Brannon LeBouef of NOLATAC did one such review. Efficient motion drives every technique, as well as gear choices and placement. When done well the result is more accurate rounds on target in a shorter time. These techniques take into account our body’s natural response to what they call “body alarm reaction”. As Brannon LeBouef of NOLATAC pointed out in his review, “their techniques work in conjunction with your body’s natural reactions instead of against them.” I couldn’t have said it better myself… so I didn’t.

During this training I experienced a few things concerning my personal mindset, physical ability and gear. Some I had feared I would, and some that I had hoped I would. I will share the realizations that these experiences have brought even though some of them are a bit embarrassing. I do so in the hope that anyone who has never experienced these things, be they the realization of a failure point, or of a better than expected performance, find a training program that fits them and do so. As Travis said so many times during the three days we trained with them, “if you do not fail you aren’t training hard enough”.

My ability to actually finish this course without injuring myself again was my biggest concern going in. I had to find my limitations and I did so. In many ways I was pleasantly surprised that at 325+ lbs I could move pretty well and my back was holding up well. At the same time though, it was obvious that if I were going to able to be truly effective in a firefight, I would need to get into better shape. This was never more apparent than when I was trying to shoot reaction side, modified urban prone (fetal) behind the front wheel while trying to shoot a target from under the front of a Jeep Wrangler. I was flopping around out there like a fish out of water. My belly (while certainly beautiful in it’s Buddha like glory) literally got in my way at times. It made shooting prone quite difficult, and while trying to perform the above-mentioned technique my knees were pushing my belly into my lungs and I could barely breath. That is just simply unsat! I have my work cut out for me in this area to be sure.

The biggest thing that I took from this course was that if that had been a real firefight I might not have survived due to my lack of physical conditioning and my gear issues. My mindset was/is pretty good with the exception that I realize now that it was my mindset that allowed me to kid myself about my physical ability. I do move pretty damned good for a 325lb + guy, but that is exactly what allowed me to kid myself that I would be able to handle myself in a bad situation. My speed on target and accuracy suffered from being arm weary after a few hours of training also. Although, carrying a SIG556 SWAT with a TA11 ACOG optic (several pounds heavier than my Colt 6920) didn’t help either. I will get to the drama that ensued when I switched to my Colt 6920 soon enough.

As for gear issues, there were several. Right away I had an issue with the vest that I had bought on a whim. I had bought the vest with the notion that I could load it up and hang it in the closet. Then, if I ever did need to use these tools, I could just grab the pistol and carbine out of the safe, put on the vest and go. When I got out to the range and began to don all of this stuff it occurred to me that the vest was overkill for my situation. I will likely still load it up and hang it in the closet, sort of like a bail out kit of sorts. However, the Blade Tech AR-15/M16 Kydex Magazine Holders that were loaned to me were the best way I seen to handle the extra magazines. I will be buying some as soon as I remember that I need to when I have the time to order online.

Some of my gear issues were simple fixes such as switching to the Magpul ASAP sling mount from the Midwest Industries MCTAR-13. The MCTAR-13 is solid and easy to install, but binds/fouls up when switching from weapon hand to reaction hand shooting. The ASAP is a bit more involved to install, but it minimizes the binding/fouling problem. I also switched to a Magpul MS2 sling from a Blackhawk Storm single point sling. I bought the MS2 for it’s ability to convert to a two-point sling very quickly and because during the training the Blackhawk sling was hanging much too low and I couldn’t get it to adjust any tighter. The Blackhawk Storm might just need some adjustment that I didn’t have the time to look into while training, because it is otherwise a damned fine sling.

I had optics issues damned near the entire time but it had little to do with the optic itself (ACOG TA11) and much to do with my having set it up while employing a stance that was significantly different than the stance that I adopted. The instructors helped me prove to myself that the Magpul Dynamics stance is far superior. However, in changing my stance so substantially, I had a difficult time getting my sight picture. I had to move the mount position of the optic in order to get my sight picture. I not only moved it, I switched it from the SIG556 to the Colt 6920 and back. I bought the ACOG TA11 due to it’s generous eye relief, yet even the 2.4 inches of eye relief was not enough to overcome having it mounted in the wrong place. I never did have the time to get it dialed in after that and had to aim a foot to the right of my target to hit the combat effective zone at 50 yards.

That leads us to the most dramatic Gear failure of all. Once I had determined that I would need to move the ACOG on my SIG (and therefore would need to re-zero it) I decided that I would mount it on my much lighter Colt 6920. The SIG556 was heavier by nearly four pounds than the 6920, so I decide to give the Colt a go. I switched the ACOG to the Colt and got on the firing line. The drill was firing from the urban prone, weapon side position. We loaded and made ready and I waited for the threat command. When the threat command came I went into the urban prone position and fired. On the second round the upper receiver blew apart. It took a few seconds for me to get oriented and realize what had just happened. I checked to see that there wasn’t another round in the chamber and raised my hand to let Travis know there was a problem. Travis was already on the way as he said that he thought that I was on fire from all of the smoke that was rising from me. There was a medic who checked me out real good to ensure that some shrapnel hadn’t penetrated my skin anywhere without my being aware of it. I sustained only minor injuries (a bruise on the left forearm and some flash burn to the face). After the medic gave me the green light I went to my Pathfinder and got my SIG556 back out. I put the ACOG back on it and got back on the firing line.

As I told my wife and my mother, who were both incredulous at my nonchalant attitude towards this incident, it couldn’t have happened at a better time and place. The safety brief each morning consisted of details such as showing a cell phone on a table with a written script that included physical address of the range, directions and descriptions to and of the site from the road and from the air. Latitude and longitude coordinates that were taken the last time a Police helicopter used the facility for a training exercise. There were first responders with their Sheriff’s Department and State Trooper units with comms and even a medic on site. This was one of the things I was referring to earlier when I said that the organization of the two guys who set up this event was first rate.

Lessons learned from that event? Well, safety gear is a must. This could happen at any time. My eyes were definitely saved by quality eye protection and long sleeves that at least kept my forarm from being burnt as well protected my arm. Also, had this happened during a firefight, I would likely have been shot. A few seconds is an eternity under fire, and I was disoriented for at least a couple of seconds.

The 6920 is on its way to Colt Manufacturing for analysis as of this posting. I will certainly post the results of the analysis as well as the resolution when that information is available. I would appreciate it if the wild guesses as to the cause of this failure were withheld until Colt Manufacturing has had a chance to check it out. I will give a few facts that will help to keep the conjecture to a minimum. The barrel was clear before and after the event and the ammo used was factory XM193. I don't know if the brass was ejected, it appeared to be, however, there could have been part of the brass case left in the chamber, I was too busy trying to get back to training to check, then the gun went via FEDEX to Colt before I had the chance to check because I was trying to catch up on all of the work I had neglected while out running and gunning.

I had a great time at this training course. I learned a lot about my gear and myself. We had lunches brought to the site (another over the top aspect of the hospitality of the Wong brothers), which allowed us more time shooting and learning. We all went to dinner together at the Wong’s restaurants (4 stars for a reason) Friday and Saturday night and we all got along well. Chris, Travis and Mike were a just awesome. They answered questions and gave advise during breaks, at lunch and even at dinner. Chris Costa became ill Friday night and spent much of the rest of the weekend at the hotel. I hope he is feeling better as he looked pretty sick still on Sunday. I WILL attend an advanced Dynamic carbine course in the future. I would very much have liked to sign up for the one they are doing at the same site in March, but I have too many failure points to work on to be able to get the most from the class that soon after this one. For anyone who is looking for a carbine training course that WILL make you a better (or at least a more efficient) shooter, look no further.

Here are a few pictures of the training and of my Colt 6920 post failure. The fat dude with the beard is me.











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Old November 18, 2009, 01:07 AM   #2
Powderman
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I think I might be able to give an insight...

Your Colt was probably not defective; indeed, the manner in which it failed--forcing all the debris forward and to the side--might have saved you from serious injury.

Here is what probably haoppened...

If the ammunition for your rifle is not properly crimped, upon the feeding stage it will force the bullet back further into the case. This is especially true for the long bullet .223 loads. The round still chambered; but upon firing, pressure spiked and vented away, causing the upper receiver and BCG failure pictured.

What kind of ammunition were you using? Hopefully it was factory; if forcing of the bullet into the case was indeed the cause, they might owe you a new rifle.

I carry an LE 6920 on duty, and I shoot both factory/issue ammunition in it (Federal TRU 55 grain JHP) and my reloads. All of my .223 reloads get a heavy crimp from a Lee Factory crimp die to prevent exactly what you experienced.
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Old November 18, 2009, 01:24 AM   #3
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hey parallel, i saw a couple of notices for that course at my range. thought it sounded like fun, but i have no AR yet.
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Old November 18, 2009, 09:49 AM   #4
parallel
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Quote:
but i have no AR yet
I have a Colt 6920 that I'll sell ya...lol.
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Old November 18, 2009, 11:34 AM   #5
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What type of magazine were you using, and what happened to it when the blowout happened?

The one overpressure kaboom I've seen (at the Ft Lewis shoothouse during a blankfire run) involved an M16A2, blanks, and a GI mag. It blew off then end of the extractor claw (I was a safety, up top the catwalk, and a sizable fireball came out the ejector port) and blew out the bottom of the magazine.

It would seem to me that that route would offer considerably less resistance than through the sidewall of the upper receiver.
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Old November 18, 2009, 02:25 PM   #6
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some people do not read

It's obvious who read the full article, and who didn't.

To those that didn't read:

He asked everyone to keep their guess to yourselves, until Colt took a look at it. I'm sure he's had a million people give him their opinion of why it happened, so give him some breathing room. You're not saying anything that most of us haven't considered, anyway.

He clearly stated that it was factory XM193, NOT reloads.
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Old November 18, 2009, 02:42 PM   #7
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Very nice writeup of your course. I'm glad no one was injured when the Colt failed.

Keep us updated on your rifle's progress with Colt.
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Old November 18, 2009, 03:41 PM   #8
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You stated that the ammo was XM193. Was it manufactured by Federal or American Eagle, or other, and do you happen to know the lot number?

Thanks for the write up and photos.

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Old November 20, 2009, 06:20 PM   #9
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wow - glad everyone is okay. Sucks about the rifle =\

-Max
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:48 PM   #10
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Great write up, and I'm glad you didn't get hurt!

I just took a carbine course using a Colt 6920, and I find it shocking that that happened. It has to be ammo related.

Have you contacted the ammo manufacturer?
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Old November 20, 2009, 11:28 PM   #11
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SovT where is your AAR? HUH?
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Old November 21, 2009, 09:34 PM   #12
vox rationis
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Damn Kelly, you busted me..I was planning on doing one, but I didn't take any pictures (and I'm kicking myself for forgetting my camera cause there could have been some cool pictures to be taken)..plus I just haven't had the time to write up a proper AAR
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Old November 30, 2009, 10:17 AM   #13
parallel
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New information (that I have had to find and then have clarified) concerning the ammo

I posted that I had used factory XM193 before I had the invoice from the ammo purchase. That invoice was unclear as to the designation (it had an item number versus a designation). During that training I used Hornady TAP Practice and PRVI Partizan 5.56 The PRVI Partizan, it has been confirmed by the retailers item number on the invoice, is M193. The internet "experts" that are making unsubstantiated claims as to the cause are doing nothing more than guessing. While some of the theories are interesting and some are even couched as theories versus stone cold fact, lets leave the verdict to those who not only have the knowledge, but have the physical evidence (the actual gun and whats left of the case) to support their claims.

By the way, I was using a Magpul Pmag and it didn't come unseated and was not damaged.
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Old November 30, 2009, 05:06 PM   #14
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Wow. Nice post! Nice insults, too, by the way.

By the way, I'm not saying that everyone who posts has a definitive cause. Of course, without the actual rifle everything is speculation based on your accounts.

However, in some cases, you might be getting some pointers from people who (gasp) actually KNOW what they are talking about.

On one forum I post to, I started seeing posts about eyesight, correction and its relation to shooting. I had no idea that the person posting was a VERY successful optometrist. On the same forum, a person conversing about medical problems and difficulties in very easily and understandable terms turned out to be a research physician.

On the shooting side, I have been able to post questions--and have them answered by--actual gunsmiths that are members of the American Pistolsmith's Guild; National Champions and others.

So, go ahead and have fun with your AR15. Of course, I'm not saying that myself--or anyone else--has an answer for you. But of course, we'll just keep our uneducated opinions to ourselves from now on. You just have a nice day.

Cordially,

Your friendly neighborhood Powderman
(Who is currently--or has learned at a Holiday Inn)
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And, itinerant builder of M16's for a LONG time.

By the way, do we have any machinists on here, in this thread? Or perhaps engineers? Just curious.
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Old December 1, 2009, 01:21 AM   #15
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thicken the skin

All of that at the bottom of your post is very impressive, however, without the actual firearm available for analysis it is truly just speculation. Also, this was a form post (like a form letter), in other words pretty much the same post was posted on multiple forums, so if the shoe doesn't fit then don't wear it. By the way, my doctor is a damn smart man... but he insist on seeing me before he gives a prognosis... that's all I'm saying.

ETA: Due to my own failure in communicating, I'm running into this on a few forums where the speculation is reasonable (as yours surely was). I should have included in my post the fact that , for the most part, the comment on speculation is aimed toward those who are being linked to these pages and then speculating wildly even going so far as to say that this has happened to me specifically before and that I used the wrong powder in a reload, etc, etc when nothing could be further from the truth. So, I apologize for coming across as rude, I just got tired of reading so many post that speculated and hypothesized as if there were NO doubt. The biggest problem with that is that this is happeneing on forums that I'm not even a member of. I should have followed my instincts and just ignored it when people were sending me emails with links to some of the rubbish that was being posted.
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Old December 1, 2009, 04:42 AM   #16
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Point taken.

One question: In studying the photos of the right side of the rifle, I see that the BCG is still in the fully locked condition. It appears that the side of the barrel extension has been breached. Am I correct in that? If so, all indications point to a round seated deeper in the case then it should have been.

Also, consider this: There are times when an incorrect bullet can make its way into the assembly line. There has been more than one occasion where I have found a 62 grain bullet--or two--mixed in with a bag of 1000 55 grain FMJ. If this occurs on the loading line, then you have a 62 grain bullet seated on a charge suitable for a 55 grain bullet. Not pretty.

Add to that the possibility of a setback, and the stage is set for a failure like the one you experienced.

Edited. I just re-read your post. I think I spotted something. First, what exactly is an "urban prone", and how is it different from a regular prone position? More importantly, what kind of surface were you on--grass, loose dirt, gravel--what? Were you firing from under an object, or cover? Did you remember how the shot felt--was the recoil/cycle impulse normal, stronger, or weaker? Finally, were you able to check your bore prior to firing--and did the instructors have range safety personnel to check your weapon for function and serviceability?
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Old January 14, 2010, 06:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
I posted that I had used factory XM193 before I had the invoice from the ammo purchase. That invoice was unclear as to the designation (it had an item number versus a designation). During that training I used Hornady TAP Practice and PRVI Partizan 5.56 The PRVI Partizan, it has been confirmed by the retailers item number on the invoice, is M193.
I'm sorry. Maybe I have reading comprehension issues but this was not clear to me. Which type of ammo were you shooting that resulted in the catastrophic failure? Prvi M193? Federal XM193?
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Old January 31, 2010, 01:39 AM   #18
parallel
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I'm sorry. Maybe I have reading comprehension issues but this was not clear to me. Which type of ammo were you shooting that resulted in the catastrophic failure? Prvi M193? Federal XM193?
Sorry for the delay in my reply. I posted that I was using xm193 (I don't know why, I guess becuase that was what my last purchase had been) before I checked the invoice for the actual ammo that I used that day. The invoice for the ammo that I was using had an item number listed versus a designation. It took a while for me to contact the retailer of the ammo to verify what the designation was. The answer that I received was that the item number referred to PRVI Partizan M193. I have to take their word for it as I am NOT an expert on ammo, I just shoot it.

Anyway, the verdict is in, see my new post titled; "The verdict is in on Colt 6920 Catastrophic Failure".

Powderman, sorry I didn't get to reply to your question(s). When I get some time, I'll answer as best I can.
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Old January 31, 2010, 05:25 AM   #19
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Oops, nvmd.
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Old January 31, 2010, 05:26 AM   #20
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Link to the new thread:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=396019
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