Should the Air Force rebuild Tyndall? – Important to note: Tyndall has easy access to the Joint Gulf Training Complex, where a good deal of high-altitude supersonic combat training is done. Personally, though, I’m fine if they just move it all to Nevada.
Speaking of, the Air Force has a $1300 coffee mug – Also, the handle breaks when you drop it, and you can’t buy replacement handles. Granted, they’re fancy mugs with internal heating elements and a plug to connect to aircraft power, but still. To their credit, airmen at Travis AFB pointed out that this was a ridiculous price, and the Air Force is looking into fixing it.
Yes, it’s the Wednesday What We’re Reading post, definitely posted today, which is Wednesday.
Should Big Army buy tiltrotors for combat? – As a rotorhead, I’m not at all sure I would want to make the switch. Tiltrotors are compromise designs: landing vertically is useful for a transport plane, as is going fast, and they’re competing goals. An attack helicopter has much less need to fly at airplane-like speeds, and is more likely to want to sit in a hover for an extended time. Much better to stick with tradition for now.
It isn’t just the Air Force who took hits from Michael – The Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter contract is held entirely by Eastern Shipbuilding Co., of Panama City, Florida. Which is a shame, too, because the first unit was only going to cost $110 million, per the contract. Slap a VLS in (or even some box launchers!), bolt some torpedo launchers to the deck, and install a towed array and some sonobuoy launchers, and suddenly you have an inshore patrol craft and convoy escort for I-can’t-imagine-more-than-$200-million each.
Belgium picks the F-35 over the Eurofighter – Planning now to retire its F-16s, is Belgium. Sad for the Vipers, but another they-must-know-something-we-don’t win for the F-35. Then again, with the UK buying F-35s for its carriers and France snootily building its own fighters, maybe Belgium doesn’t want to tie its air defense to das Luftwaffische Wunderkampfjet.
I picked this up mostly because I heard from a couple friends that this series was great. I only found out after the fact that it might have made more sense to start with the prequel Yakuza 0. No matter. I have Yakuza 6 and that’s where I started the series. So what do I think?
I love Yakuza 6.
There, that’s out of the way. Now, let’s get down to the why. Yakuza 6 is one part soap opera about criminals, one part fantastic beat-’em-up, and one part sort-of-open-world game. Let’s look at each of those.
The story is very much dramatic soap opera. I don’t speak Japanese, so I’m doing a lot of reading of subtitles. I don’t really mind. I think the story is loads of fun, mostly because it’s so different. It does have a bit of an anime feel to it in the ‘awesome drama trumps some realism’ department, but that’s ok. If you want to skip the cutscenes, you can. You’re missing out on some great story though. Just because it’s a little stylistically different doesn’t mean it isn’t well written. And fun. It’s lots of fun.
I also want to take a moment to commend Yakuza 6 for doing a great job of bringing someone totally new to the series up to speed with a minimum of fuss. And I didn’t feel like I was being lectured to. That’s rare.
Combat is pretty fantastic. There are some combos, but they’re pretty simple. It doesn’t feel like an old-school fighting game with giant lists of button press sequences to memorize. What sets Yakuza 6 apart from say, the Arkham games, is that the environment is full of weapons for you to use. There’s a lot of fun in picking up random things and beating your foes with them. Plus, there’s a “Heat Mode” which lets you power up, punch with awesome blue flames, and use larger blunt objects to smash people in the face. Things like mopeds.
There are also a good number of cool unlockable moves. Not so much that it ever felt grindy, but you can definitely unlock some fun extras.
Yakuza 6 has some open world elements in that there are a lot of optional sidequests and minigames that you can do. Some of these can get annoying, so it’s good to space them out. However, I never found them to be anything but fun. I think my favorite was running around trying to befriend stray cats by feeding them. Or perhaps the spearfishing rail-shooter minigame. In any case, these are all nicely optional.
Overall, there’s a good, fun story, an excellent combat system, and a solid grab bag of minigames. I give it a thumbs up. Definitely worth the asking price.
There are a number of shotguns released today designed to avoid classification as a “short barreled shotgun”. For our international readers, under the complicated and confusing US law, a “short barreled shotgun” has to be registered with the ATF, which means a $200 fee, fingerprints, photos, and a six month wait. But a short, “stockless” gun like the Tac-14, Shockwave or V3 Tac-13 is not legally an SBS, and so you can buy it and take it home with you immediately, with no extra fee.1
Now, lots of people will debate the utility of such a weapon. I think the utility might be best understood with a little history, not that every weapon needs to serve a practical purpose. Some guns are fun guns, and that’s awesome. But this weapon has good applications. For one, shotguns with slugs are good bear repellent, and a very compact, stockless shotgun can be strapped to or thrown in a backpack pretty easily.
What many may not know is that the US Marshals had a professional gunsmith make something an awful lot like the Tac-14 back in the 80s. They called it the Witness Protection Shotgun. Being law enforcement, the US Marshals could buy what the NFA would call “Short Barreled Shotguns” with 14″ barrels and stocks no problem. But that’s not what these were.
The Witness Protection Shotgun started life as a Remington 870. It had a 12.5″ barrel, which was as short as they could cut the 870’s barrel given how it attaches to the rest of the gun. It also had a cut, shaped, and refinished “bird’s head” grip of wood, shaped a lot like you’d see on the Tac-14. They also added a sling plate at the front, much like the Wilson Combat vertical sling plate. The idea here was to both attach a sling and provide a handstop to make sure that the support hand didn’t end up in front of the muzzle. Magazine capacity was four 2 3/4″ shells.
You may have figured out the intended role from the name. The idea was to have a tremendously powerful, concealable weapon for use in the witness protection program. With a very short barrel, no stock, and general lack of bulk that comes from a pump shotgun (as compared to say, a Colt Commando), the Witness Protection Shotgun was easy for a marshal to hide under his coat. These were popular with the US Marshals in the 80s, and then fell out of favor.
And with proper technique you won’t hit yourself in the face when shooting one either.
Your mileage may vary. Some restrictions may apply if your state is run by communists. ↩
At AUSA 2018, we saw three possible candidate vehicles for the OMFV Bradley Replacement: BAE’s CV90 Mk. IV, Rheinmetall/Raytheon’s Lynx, and General Dynamics’ Griffin III. Of these, the Griffin III looks to be the frontrunner right now, in so far as it very closely matches what the US Army says it wants. Let’s take a look.
Griffin III is based on the ASCOD hull. This checks our already in service box; the ASCOD is used by Spain and Austria, and was the basis for Britain’s Ajax (and related family of vehicles). It is a newer chassis than the CV90, which is also in service in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and some other places. The Lynx is not in service in any version anywhere, which is points against it, though it is also a contender in Australia’s new IFV competition.
Both the CV90 Mk IV and Lynx have 35mm guns. However, US Army really wants a 50mm. Both BAE and Rheinmetall claim to be able to oblige. General Dynamics, on the other hand, went ahead and mounted the XM913 50mm gun in their AUSA show vehicle. General Dynamics also has a turret design with an incredible +85/-20 elevation range, which looks pretty spectacular on a show floor and is expressly directed at urban warfare scenarios that the US Army worries about. A near-vertical autocannon looks great for anyone who remembers Grozny.
Continuing to hit all the cool future features, General Dynamics has partnered with Aerovision for UAV integration. The Griffin III comes with a nine tube vertical launcher for Aerovision’s Switchblade UAV/Missile, with all the related digital datalink equipment installed. The turret can also accommodate ATGMs, but these weren’t fitted for the show model.
Additional systems fitted for the show model were the Iron Fist (hard kill) APS system, with associated radars and launchers, a gunshot locating system, and Armorworks Tacticam multispectral camouflage. A situational awareness system (i.e. a whole bunch of cameras) was also fitted. I’d guess it’s Leonardo DRS’ system, but this wasn’t stated.
Protection levels are not clear yet. At the show, the Griffin III model as configured weighed about 38 tonnes. With all of the supplemental armor kits mounted, the vehicle would weigh about 50 tonnes.
In terms of capacity, the Griffin III is at a bit of a disadvantage, being designed around no more than six dismounts, where the CV90 can accommodate eight and the Lynx can hold nine. But the US Army has stated that it’s happy enough with a lower capacity vehicle. Their documents indicate that six or even five dismounts is acceptable, and their plans call for a six vehicle platoon with five dismounts in each one.
Let’s also talk about the crewing needs. General Dynamics designed the Griffin III to have space for a three man crew, but automation and crew aids sufficient to enable a two man crew. They’ve done a good job of hedging their bets, being prepared to deliver the future-looking vehicle the Army says it wants, but being prepared for a more conservative design if that ends up winning out.
It’s still really early in the race, and the US Army might change the requirements somewhat. But it’s clear that General Dynamics did their homework when putting the Griffin III together. They seem to have a reasonable idea of what the Army wants, and what tradeoffs they might be willing to accept.
Time to get rid of ICBMs? – A surpassingly stupid take, in my opinion. The author argues that having a bunch of ICBMs in the US means that any nuclear exchange is going to involve a bunch of bombs landing on the continental US. What the author fails to recognize is that any exchange which involves striking at the US missile force is probably a pretty all-out nuclear war anyway. Even if I don’t much like big cities, it’s inarguably better that any nuclear foe has to spend a few hundred warheads bombing the snot out of Nowhere, Montana than on, say, having them to hit metro Los Angeles.
80% of F-35s return to flight – Apparently, it was a fuel tube of some kind. I think the real story is that 20% of F-35s have a part sufficiently faulty as to ground them.
France thinking EMALS for its next carrier – The way I see it, there are only two countries on the planet which currently operate real aircraft carriers, the definition of ‘real’ being ‘CATOBAR’. Good on France for staying in the club.
Early feedback on the F-35C is good – Having flown the DCS Hornet for a little while now, one thing I notice about the F-35C is how much less rugged its landing gear looks. I wonder how the F-35’s relatively straight, non-gigantic-trailing-arm gear will hold up in the long run. Also, I’ve heard rumors about issues with nosewheel strut bouncing on catapult launches and unexpectedly rapid tailhook wear. The article doesn’t address those directly, but hopefully they’re sorted out.
On the topic of aviation, Japan wants more F-35As to counter China – This goes to one of parvusimperator’s favorite thought experiments: if the F-35 program was in as dire shape as is reported in public sources, why would places like Israel and Japan with an existential dependence on good fighters be so eager to buy them, and to buy more of them? Also, it has a current F-35A price of $140 million, although it isn’t clear exactly what that includes.
The Russian Orthodox Church splits with Constantinople – Enormous ecclesiastical news, this. The magnitude is similar to the Reformation, or indeed the Schism of 1054 which created the Orthodox-Catholic divide in the first place. The Russian patriarchate is the biggest Orthodox church, but junior to the Constantinople patriarchate (to simply things a bit). Constantinople granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephaly, which pulls Ukraine (at least officially) out of the Russian Orthodox orbit. State propaganda organ Russia Today, in the article above, says that this is terrible and that Ukraine is properly Russian Orthodox territory, hence the split.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The US Army is looking to replace it’s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles with…
Okay, yeah. We’ve been down this road a few times. And we at the Soapbox are super skeptical. But let’s look at this “Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle” anyway.
Obviously, it’s supposed to do double duty as a UGV. Not really a surprise there. We do have some ground drone kits, so that might work out okay.
It’s also supposed to be “better” than the Bradley in terms of protection, dash speed, and lethality. Unsurprising. Better can be kind of an annoying word though, because it make you vulnerable to the sort of Lucy-with-the-football stuff we’ve seen before.
Hopefully continuing the trend of this program having some restrictions in it to help it actually go somewhere, the Army is keenly interested in buying something that’s a derivative of someone else’s already-in-service vehicle.
We also see that they’re looking to fit a pair of the new OMFVs in a C-17, giving a maximum weight of about 38.75 tonnes. Or can be stripped down to that weight. Again, this is pretty reasonable given the capacity they want, which we’ll get to in a minute.
The fun begins when we look at the manning numbers. The US Army is specifically requesting a crew of 2 and capacity for 5 dismounts. Let’s look at those in turn.
A crew of two means some faith in your sensors and computer systems for observation and fire control. In practice, this means distributing the gunner’s work between the computers, the driver, and the commander. There have been tests of two-man armored fighting vehicle crews in Germany, the United States, and Israel going back to the 90s. The conclusion has been that it works if you had quality situational awareness aids (i.e. electronic sensors with some computer systems for ‘sensor fusion’), and faith that those aids would actually work. The Israelis have been working on a next gen combat vehicle called the Camel, which also has a crew of two. So it’s very possible, but it requires some forward thinking. Big Army is not usually fond of being forward thinking, so good on them.
Five dismounts is a bit more than half of the old GCV’s goals. It’s nice to see the Army realizing what gave them so much trouble last time and trying something else. Five dismounts reduces the size of the armored volume. It also is smaller than the standard six-man dismount capability that seems to be the common standard. The army is not changing the number of dismounts per platoon though; they’re planning to have six OMFVs in each platoon.
I’m coming around to the idea of smaller, well-protected vehicles with fewer dismounts. I’m a little skeptical of a platoon of six vehicles with thirty dismounts though. That seems a lot for one platoon commander (probably some Lt.) to manage. Maybe modern technology makes it easier. Maybe they plan to give platoon command to some other rank. Or maybe they know something I don’t.
Scouts indicate that a rebel force is moving in the direction of Bear’s Bruisers, who have been bearing the brunt of the fighting so far. The Bruisers move slightly toward Second Lance to take up defensive positions amidst some hilly scrubland, and position themselves so that the rebels will come across their positions in darkness. A snowstorm blows in as they wait.
Second Lance is on the march, but won’t arrive for eight rounds.
The rebel force appears to the north, looking battered already. The length of this campaign is wearing them down pretty seriously, especially given their lack of logistical support compared to us.
The Bruisers deploy in the middle of the battlefield, in formation. The darkness means it’s going to be difficult to shoot at long range.
The two forces move closer together, but remain well outside of effective weapons range.
A solitary Wasp is now quite close to our forces, but impossible to hit based on its movement, the falling snow, and the darkness.
Teddy Bear and Wizard both stand still this turn, hoping to get good shots off at the Wasp or perhaps one of the vehicles. Severe moves closer. Her Koshi’s weapons are best at short range. Euchre follows her.
As it turns out, only Wizard‘s large laser and Severe‘s ER medium lasers are sufficient. They both take shots best described as speculative at the Galleon tank.
Predictably, everyone misses.
The rebels continue to pull back as the Bruisers advance, staying just out of medium laser range. Wizard takes a shot and misses.
The rebels seem to commit to an attack as the Bruisers continue to push forward. The Wasp dead ahead is the primary target, but if shots at the vehicles are more plausible hit chances, we’ll take those instead.
Even at this relatively close range, hits are unlikely on a moving target, as our mech pilots try to put their sights over a very slightly darker moving shape in the darkness of the night. Teddy Bear‘s medium laser bites deep into the Wasp’s torso armor. Everyone else misses.
Now this we can work with. Severe took the unusual step of not moving. Her Koshi has very good alpha strike damage, which we’re going to try to exploit by giving her the best chance to hit we can.
Finally, some results! Teddy Bear hits the Wasp again, though only with his flamer. Wizard puts five of her six SRMs into the side of the Galleon tank, the explosions ripping through its armor, cutting cooling lines in its engine, and exposing its turret-mounted small laser. Severe hits the Locust, cutting off its right arm and nearly blowing its right torso out its back armor, and Euchre‘s medium laser severs its left arm.
Teddy Bear kicks the Wasp’s left leg out from under it to close the round.
The Wasp falls after taking Teddy Bear‘s kick, and fails to stand this round, so Teddy Bear turns his torso on the Locust and plans to kick the Wasp again. Wizard likes her chances shooting at the Locust, so lets her sights settle on it while Euchre and Severe take aim at the nearby Galleon.
Wizard and Teddy Bear combine to knock out the Locust’s right torso, while Euchre notches the kill on the Galleon with a medium laser shot that punches right through the battered front armor and into the crew compartment.
For reasons unclear to me, Wizard doesn’t get the option to make a physical attack. Teddy Bear kicks the through the prone Wasp’s right torso, while Severe turns her Koshi’s fists on the Locust, hitting twice. (The Koshi’s weapons are all torso-mounted, which means Severe can attack with all of them and still punch.)
The two mech pilots eject, leaving only a Vedette on the field. Wizard and Euchre pause to pick up the ejected enemy mechwarriors, while Severe and Teddy Bear advance to finish off the Vedette. Severe gets the kill with a devastating punch, cracking the tank’s side armor with an uppercut which flips it onto its back.
Damage, Injuries, Salvage
It was very nearly a perfect mission. Teddy Bear and Euchre took some hits, but only from machine guns.
For salvage, we take the Wasp and the two burned-out vehicles. We’ll strip the armor and weapons and sell the chassis.
Special Mission: Star League Cache
On October 1, Rook‘s Stalker finishes its refit, now kitted out with Artemis-capable LRM-15 launchers along with ER Large Lasers and sufficient heat sinks to fire everything. She takes it out for a little shakedown run in a peaceful area of the Bastards’ AOR, only to see a big blip on her sensors.
It’s an Emperor EMP-6A, a Star League-era mech packed with advanced Inner Sphere technology. It’s not entirely clear where the rebels got it, but it’s on Rook to knock it down, hopefully in such a way that we can salvage it and add a third assault mech to the Bastards’ roster.
Rook starts on the north edge of the battlefield, her view of the Emperor blocked by buildings in a small outlying town.
She moves south. The Emperor stays out of range, keeping behind the buildings.
See round 1.
Rook tries to get around the east side of town to get a shot on the Emperor, but can’t quite manage.
The Emperor moves into range. Rook lets him have it with everything she can bring to bear.
Her alpha strike costs 43 heat, but deals a whopping 35 damage, knocking the Emperor prone. In return, an LBX-10 burst clatters against her right arm.
Rook has to be a bit more circumspect with her weapons fire this round, sticking with her LRMs and the ER Large Lasers. She doesn’t want to get too close—the Emperor’s weapons fit is deadly at short range.
Her goal for the next few rounds is to sneak around further to the east, whereupon she can collapse the building on which the Emperor is standing out from under it.
This round, Rook’s weapons deal 43 damage, as 27 of the 30 missiles she fired find their marks.
One more hex, I think, and then Rook can knock down the building. Moving more slowly, she finds the shot on the Emperor even easier this time.
Unfortunately, the Emperor’s shot against her is easier, too. A bit rusty at driving the Stalker, she puts a foot wrong as autocannon fire slams into her armor and tips over.
That was the opening the Emperor’s pilot was looking for. The enemy mech uses its jump jets to descend to the ground, closing inside Rook‘s missile range. That’s fine by Rook, though; she has medium lasers to spare, and in lieu of firing her LRMs, switches to those.
It’s an old-fashioned slugging match now. Rook is a better gunner, but seems to have a little bit less damage on tap than the rebel pilot. Thanks to her efforts at longer range, however, she’s still ahead on the damage race.
Rook backs up as the Emperor jump-jets closer to her. She’s finding the Stalker’s performance most agreeable. Thanks to its combat computer, she can fire either her large lasers and missile launchers, or her large lasers and medium lasers, without worrying about her mech’s heat. That’s a major improvement over her previous ride.
Alarms begin to flash in Rook‘s cockpit, indicating that her armor has been blasted away over her mech’s left arm. In return, however, her sensors indicate that she’s broken through the Emperor’s armor in multiple places.
The Emperor jumps up onto a ridgeline, so Rook moves into a hull-down position at its edge.
Rook backs up slightly, hoping to stay out of melee range, but the Emperor is able to jump into position on the ridge above her, where it can kick down at her mech’s head.
She consults her cockpit displays quickly. With a worrying lack of armor on her left side, right where the Emperor is, she decides to try a risky close-range shot with her long-range missiles, hoping to knock him down before he’s able to bring a leg to bear.
She pulls her triggers, and weapons fire flashes back and forth between the two mechs. Alarms blare loudly in her cockpit as an LBX-10 shell impacts her mech’s left arm. With a sound of shearing metal, it breaks free.
Her missiles strike true, arcing out of their launch bays and arming just in time to pockmark the Emperor’s right torso. Her lasers, too, carve deep into it, and just as they finish their bursts, she sees the telltale signs of internal explosions. The force directed outward, the blossoming fireball nevertheless bends back a panel on the Emperor’s center torso armor. With her last large laser, Rook steadies her aim and squeezes the trigger. The large laser strikes true, slicing in behind the damaged armor to penetrate the Emperor’s engine. It staggers back, then falls to the ground, raising a vast cloud of dust as it hits.
Damage, Injuries, and Salvage
It takes some doing, but Drake manages to talk our ComStar liaison into letting us keep the Emperor in exchange for October’s paycheck.
The bad news is that the Stalker is pretty badly beaten up. The good news is that it won’t take all that long to fix, especially now that Rook‘s tech Edina Cameron is familiar with the design and can direct the repairs. Rook herself is unharmed, and permits herself a rare grin as the rest of the Bastards congratulate her on her victory in a most unexpected combat.
In addition to the pictured kills, Rook notches one by taking down the Emperor.
On the strength of her Koshi, Severe is really rising up the board.
“Rook” Ishikawa (28, 9 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
“Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
“Woad” Kohler (14, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
“Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
“Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
“Teddy Bear” Jamil (7, 4 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
“Severe” Payne (6, 5 mechs)
“Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
“Hanzoku” Yuksel (5, 4 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
“Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
“Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
“Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
“Euchre” Kojic (3, 2 mechs)
“Blinky” Stirzacre (2)
“Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
“Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
It is now October 8, 3052. I really wanted to get a full month in, but there’s yet another battle pending.
We have 69.736 million C-bills in the bank.
Repairs and Refits
The techs managed to get Rook‘s Stalker turned around. The Emperor is under repair, pending arrival of a few parts.
Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments
For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
It’s time for another assault mech organization question. We now have three of them. We could combine them with a heavy mech to make a proper assault lance, or we could continue to split them out among the other lances to make top-of-the-line heavy lances.
Also, we have to decide who gets to drive the Emperor. Linebuster is a prime candidate, being one of our better pilots in general and specializing in ballistic weapons, of which the Emperor has several. That would also free up his Lancelot for someone else to drive.
If we do build three heavy lances around our three assault mechs, I think it would make sense to reorganize Bear’s Bruisers a bit, moving Simona and the Ryoken in, and probably Hanzoku and Severe out to the heavier lances.
TFB ran an article about a so-called “Combat-Reliable” AR-15 build. It’s silly.
First, the concept is dumb. What does “Combat-Reliable” even mean? Looking at the parts list, lots haven’t been used in actual combat. And that would be “combat tested”. If you want a “combat reliable” rifle, here’s one, albeit one with a slightly longer barrel. And technically, without burst or auto fire capability. Let’s say you’re an army and looking to buy carbines. You’re not going to gucci it up and spec out specific parts. You’re going to call your preferred FMS-approved vendors, buy some M4s,1 and go have beers. You don’t want to bother with parts compatibility and testing. And carbines aren’t all that important anyway. They need to work. Savings can go into more important things like bombs and artillery.
And really, if we look at how many rounds are fired in combat, it tends to fall way short of the MRBS numbers on an existing Colt/FN/whoever M4. Not to mention that there’s a big supply chain for parts for boring old M4s already. If your bolt breaks, replace it. Which you can do with the existing supply system.
But ok. Let’s suppose we want to make a rifle as reliable as possible for our own reasons. Which is fine. That’s a thing we can do as a civilian with our own money. Let’s just not make too much of a fetish of combat. It’s not 2006 anymore. So let’s look at the particular parts.
Lower, why? Billet because it’s cool? There are other lowers (Radian AX556, LMT MARS) that do all this one can AND let you lock the bolt back from either side, so they do ambi better. The LMT is also forged, so it should be lighter. Billet lowers look awesome, but do nothing for reliability.
Upper: Why?! Again, are we picking this part because it looks cool? Fine, but don’t try to tell me it’s somehow “more reliable”. Why still have the forward assist? Where’s the reliability/functionality gain? If you want “more rigidity” (not that I think it matters), get the Vltor MUR. Otherwise, go forged. On the other hand, if this build was sponsored by San Tan Tactical, good on your for getting a sponsor, and why aren’t you touting their awesomeness for being part of your project?
Bolt carrier: It’s a standard full-auto spec carrier, which is a fine part. Let’s look at the coating though. There are a lot of coatings out there. Hard chrome is chosen here, but there’s also DLC/Ionbond, NiB and NP3 (nickel-teflon). What I have never, ever found is any actual data showing that these are actually better than the standard parkerization in field use. Yes, some coatings are harder or more naturally lubricative. But the AR-15 is normally run with oil on the carrier and bolt, and the mil-spec phosphate coating “holds” lubrication pretty well. Now, if you want to make the argument that some other, non-standard coating is better, you need to tell us what we’re trying to improve. NP3 is the slickest and DLC is the hardest, so those seem like obvious choices. Hard chrome is great for abrasion resistance, and it looks awesome, but these are internal parts and the existing phosphated carriers don’t really have a problem with abrasion.
Bolt: This is a standard bolt with a hard chrome coating. There are bolts out there made of better steel that have extractors with better tension and lugs that are more resistant to shear. If your goal is to make a super tough rifle, you should probably have one of those.
Rail: The centurion rails are a nice upgrade to a milspec rifle build because they fit the stock barrel nut and are freefloated. But this is built from scratch, so why use the “stock” barrel nut at all? Geissele Mk 16 (from the URGI) seems the obvious choice here, because MLOK is lighter, cheaper, and doesn’t require rail covers. Geissele claims that their rail is the most rigid, which is good if you plan on attaching lasers to it and are looking for the last 1% of awesomeness. Also, most aftermarket barrel nuts that are reasonably modern don’t require timing for the gas tube, which is great. As a builder, timing is an annoying step.
If you want to argue that quad rails are the right choice, you need to tell us why. Most people are going another direction, including USASOC. USASOC going mlok seems to indicate that it’s certainly tough enough. Even if you want to go quadrail, why 9″? Why not go longer and have more room for accessories/your hand/bracing on a support? I’ve seen no data indicating that quadrails are actually any better at retaining accessories, if that’s a concern. They’re also more expensive.
Gas block: Why bother with a folding front sight block in 2018? Irons are not your primary. Get a longer rail and put folding BUIS on that like a normal person. You can’t even make a durability argument here, because those still fold. A fixed FSB would be more rugged, but that’s not what you have here.
I would argue, like Ian and Karl did with the WWSD rifles, that buis are superfluous these days, but I recognize that not everyone agrees. If you want irons, get something that is made of better materials than the ARMS sights and is elevation adjustable. Those rear sights aren’t all that durable, and isn’t that our goal here? Not to use old parts from 2006?
Barrel: Why is midlength gas optimal on a 16″ We’ve just seen Crane testing show that midlength is better than carbine gas on a 14.5″ barrel. So maybe intermediate gas is better on a 16″. Also, that is a government profile barrel, and that is a stupid, muzzle-heavy profile. Either go with a lightweight profile to save weight, or go with a medium profile for better accuracy/automatic fire capability. The government profile makes no sense.
The chosen flash hider should be able to mount a suppressor. If we want “combat” suppressors, maybe the Surefire SOCOM ones that have seen combat. But in any case, suppressor capability should be there. Even the basic “A2” flash hider can mount some suppressors.
Stock: Again, a really old part. Why? There are better stocks. There are certainly tougher stocks, to the extent that such things matter.