I recently watched a video by Youtuber Garand Thumb, in which he performed an extreme cold weather torture test on a relatively diverse spread of firearms. I found it surprising, initially, that a few weapons choked on the first round of abuse. After considering it though, only one was really surprising. The three weapons were a Sig MCX, KAC SR15, and SCAR17s. I have never owned any of these, but have held them in high regard, and still do. All three stuttered pretty significantly, at an application of water in below-freezing temperatures, when the water was allowed to sit and freeze on/in the weapons. I don't recall the exact trouble each rifle experienced; the bottom line is that they choked at all. After thinking about it though, as the title of this discussion implies, I don't think it's unreasonable that a weapon's performance on the ragged edge of extreme conditions be compromised, when the gun has been tuned and refined to perform at an elevated level under all other conditions. I considered my efforts over the past year, in playing with different aspects of a suppressed build, in an effort to mitigate negative effects of the silencer; those tinkerings and fine-tunings serve to optimize the rifles function in the conditions I find myself in over the course of a year, but I would wager that the gun would fail in any kind of circumstance that really taxes the system. I was surprised at the SCAR though, considering it's military adoption, likely extreme testing associated with adoption, and 7.62x51 chambering. I can't help but wonder how a Sig 550 would have done, considering it has an adverse gas setting, for these exact conditions. The MCX has adjustable gas, but only in a downward direction, that I know of; as does the SCAR, I think. Anyway, I thought it was kind of neat. The video certainly gives some ammo to the AK crowd, in their war against the AR15; though I don't think folks bother much with that debate anymore.
|One Who Knows|
That was an interesting video, thank you for sharing it KSGM. I agree with the comment under the video by the person who was in the Swedish military, explaining that he underwent training in similar icy/frozen water conditions, and they had a procedure to drop the mag, hand cycle the gun a few times, and check for ice/snow in the barrel. Such a procedure after freezing water exposure makes sense to me (time and situation permitting, of course), to hopefully clear up any issues, rather than jumping straight to shooting after the exposure.
I follow ice tests, seeing as I plan to move to a colder area with more snow. It’s not practical for testing this many samples, but going from a warm area with lots of water vapor to an extended period around 0 degrees is a test I would like to see. I have many firearms from the Alaska test, and many used by Northern European militaries in such conditions. These tests make me think about building out a Galil Ace, perhaps in 7.62x51mm. I also have a 551 waiting at my dealer that would be a candidate. None of these rifles will be as easy to accessorize as my AR15s, especially when it comes to night vision. On the flip side, Canada has been using the AR15 for a while now, so there must be a way to negate some of the shortcomings seen in these tests.
|Fighting the good fight|
If you're interested in cold weather rifle testing, check out the 1984 rifle tests by the Alaska State Police. I believe I have a copy of the full report somewhere around here, but in the meantime, here's a scan of an article from SWAT magazine with some details: http://imgur.com/gallery/uLfvt
The test is obviously a bit dated, but still interesting.
Galil in both .223 and .308
H&K-91 and 93
Not surprisingly, the AK-based Galil and Valmet rifles performed the best.
The Swedish military did a similar series of cold weather testing in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the FN FNC and Galil performing the best, which led to their adoption of the FN FNC as their standard rifle (known to the Swedes as the Ak 5). Other weapons tested, including the M16, AR-18, Beretta M70, Sig 540, and Steyr AUG, couldn't hang.
But military units that patrol extreme northern polar areas, like the Canadian Rangers and the Danish (Greenland) Sirius Sled Patrol, stick to manually operated bolt rifles. Although that's geared more for polar bear protection than military combat effectiveness.
The SR15 was not the only AR15 he subjected to his test. The others didn't do as poorly as the SR15, hence the real motive of my initial post: to highlight that a gun tuned to be smooth and enhance desirable aspects of function under normal conditions may not do well under extreme circumstances. An M4 would likely be fine, aside from the safety selector and mag release hiccups.
I’m not familiar with how current KAC guns are set up, do they have full ambi controls? If so that’s a lot of exposure of what’s considered the weak point of the AR15. Being lightly gassed and not using a suppressor won’t help. It reminds me of a video that made the rounds years back of a canless MK18 performing poorly in combat. Without an adjustable gas block you might have to choose between gamer speed and adverse performance. Honestly I’m shocked it did that much worse, unless there was a “no back pressure” can used on it.
I believe he had a KAC QDC can on it, which is supposedly a lower-pressure can, but a KAC silencer on a KAC rifle ought not be the cause of problems. They are "lightly gassed" by design, I believe. I think they do have ambi controls, but that might actually be a perk in defeating frozen controls, considering you can exert twice the leverage on the mechanism. One could also argue it may get twice as frozen in the first place though.
Thinking about the FCG, I wonder if a low friction coated FCG and BCG would assist in this environment.
|Veteran of the |
I saw the vid and it was interesting to say the least.
However, as a former light infantry guy, I would never let my weapon sit wet in freezing conditions. I would do what ever it takes to remove as much of the moisture possible/warm it up/etc to ensure that it was good to go. To us, your weapon was your life. If it was not good to go, you were not good to go.
Having said that, the first test where the weapons were 'sprinkled' with some water was the most realistic; as it simulated being out in freezing precip conditions. In my opinion, good, low temp (and water washout resistant) lube would be critical to preventing issues.
Just my opinion.
"just look at the flowers..."
During my days on the SAC Ramp I was often out in -20 degree weather and it was often snowing like hell. Not unusual to have my M-16 (USAF model-no forward assist) coated with snow. If I got the chance, I would sneak out to the base dump and shoot it in very cold weather. Ran fine for me. What lube or lube methods used by the Armorers might have been, I could not say. I will say I never let ice actually form on the gun and I shook the snow off it every chance I got. YMMV.
End of Earth: 2 Miles
Upper Peninsula: 4 Miles
An interesting video, but whenever I see someone conducting a test like this the first thing I’m looking at is the test protocol. Despite the fact that it’s probably better than most on the ’net, I believe it could have been better still.
My first question was what sort of situation/incident/condition was he testing for? When the air temperature is 20° or colder, what situation would involve copious quantities of liquid water being poured on the gun? Even if we allow for that possibility, there is the question of how the experiment was conducted (as is usually true of YouTube video tests, unfortunately). When water is simply poured on the gun there is the possibility, as he himself admitted, that there were differences in how the water entered their actions. Then we must question how probable it is that if our gun had water poured on it that we would just ignore the incident and allow everything to freeze solid for an hour or so.
I appreciated the video and his efforts, but if I had the resources I would do it differently.
First is a more realistic (IMO) scenario: We are in the field in the dead of a cold winter in a tactical situation that demands we move as fast as possible and not advertise our location (escaping from a zombie horde?) As we’re moving cross country, we slip and drop our rifle in a fast moving stream or after breaking through the ice over a hidden pond with water below. The weapon and its loaded magazine are completely immersed long enough for the water to reach all the interior parts, regardless of the type of rifle.
Now, what would we do in that situation?*
What I would do:
Strip the magazine out shake out as much water as possible (no time to unload, dry, etc.). If we have another magazine that didn’t get dunked, switch, but we’ll assume we have only the one.
Cycle the bolt several times to help clear the barrel and eject as much water as possible from the internals, such as from the bolt carrier and receiver extension.
Dry fire the weapon several times. To try to break whatever ice formed, we should probably do this again after whatever water remained in the gun had had a chance to freeze.
Lock the magazine back in the weapon, chamber a round, and keep moving with hopes that we could disassemble the gun later for a proper cleaning and deicing.
Even if you disagree with those specific actions, I believe most would agree that we wouldn’t just leave the gun covered and filled with water long enough to allow it to freeze solid.
(The best way to get the gun back in shooting condition would be to immediately fire it several times after pulling the bolt back to let the water drain out of the barrel, but that’s not possible in our scenario.)
I believe that conducting a test involving full immersion and then immediate efforts to clear as much water as possible would be a better evaluation of how different weapons would perform in a more realistic scenario.
* No, don’t ask me how we’d manage to survive as our clothing turned to ice as well; this is about the guns.
My other nit to pick about the video is his recommendation to use a graphite lubricant. If we’re operating in cold temperatures, there are more conventional lubes that could be used. The Lucas gun oil I use mostly these days remains fluid to –34°. TW-35B lube is rated to –85° or some such (as I recall without looking it up). There are other options as well.
“Cet animal est très méchant, quand on l’attaque il se défend.”
I agree with everything in your post, sigfreund, per usual. I did not observe the test through quite such a literal and critical filter. My main takeaway was that all the guns were subjected to the same extreme conditions, and some deluxe, high-dollar, state-of-the-art firearms performed somewhat poorly, when compared to some other not-so-fancy guns. Also, I feel as though I should reiterate that I am not knocking the guns that had trouble, nor am I saying this test ought to have any realistic repercussions, when it comes to someone evaluating the effectiveness of any of the guns subjected.
Not realistic to expect weapons to function with water poured in them then freezing.
As a former arctic infantryman, you want to keep your weapons cold. If they warm up, you get condensation and if any snow gets on them it will melt…then freeze.
Keep ‘em cold and the only way to have this problem is if somehow you accidentally get water on them but that would have to come from a canteen or camelbak since everything in the environment is frozen.
When in our heated tents we put the M4s under the tent flap at ground level on the edge so they were covered, accessible and cold.
“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” –Chuck Palahnuik
Be harder to kill: https://preparefit.ck.page
It’s a good point to question why there was a difference in how the various guns performed during the test. That’s why I’m wondering why the AUG didn’t have the same problems as other guns that I would consider to be in the same or similar category as far as parts fit is concerned. Is there something about its design that kept it from freezing up in the same way as an AR?
And even though I would like to see a test more along the lines of what I described, his was certainly of value—if for no other reason than to learn to not pour water on our guns in freezing weather.
“Cet animal est très méchant, quand on l’attaque il se défend.”
Quite a few click and no bang.
The ones that did fire the first shot probably have a firing pin area that's better protected from water entry.
The AR BCG has lots of easy access passages for water to turn to solid.This message has been edited. Last edited by: powermad,
I think the video is silly, unrealistic. Test your stuff for what you believe is the worst case scenario where you live.
Years ago signed up, paid for a 2 day bolt rifle match that I knew there was a very good chance I'd be rained on. These matches go on rain or shine. Knowing that I wanted to test my rifle to see how it would do wet. Submerged my bolt in a bucket of water, sprayed mag and rounds with a spray bottle, muzzle down poured water down the barrel. Gun went bang in a good way, no problems, definitely a little more pressure. I don't load hot loads, if I did it would be a problem. A friend submerged his complete rifle in a cattle watering tank, $3500 scope and all. Shot many matches in very dusty, dirty, heavy rain, snow... The talcum powder like dirt is something else in New Mexico, add 30mph winds to it...My guns run. One benefit of shooting in rain and snow, a million little wind flags! Seen plenty of stuff fail at matches in shitty conditions, also seen others check out mentally in those shitty conditions. If my guns and gear are able to run throught the above, good enough. Highly doubt any of them would pass the Garand freeze test.This message has been edited. Last edited by: offgrid,
The video isn't science, it's to get views. Which is fine.
I've seen a few of his video before, but this one was killing me with the "weapon","weapon","weapon","weapon","weapon""weapon","weapons"..
(I watched the whole video and none of them were used as a weapon)
The fun/funny part of the video was the "M14" went out in the first round, the only rifle of the group with any significant real world actual winter war fighting history (Not the m14 itself obviously, but the trigger group / bolt design being basically the same as the M1 Garand).
Maybe the "pee on them" test should be next, might make for an interesting video. Which is the easiest to get back in action! lol A long tough one to make for sure and probably get de-monatized.
Testing protocol sounds completely unrealistic.
All of these bizarre torture tests are weird, IMHO. A better test is one of practical metrics. Things that might actually happen. Filling my weapon with water and allowing it to freeze in that condition is only slightly less probable than dropping my rifle in molten lava......
A few years back when we had a 'polar vortex' (according to the local meteorologist) I took some ARs to the range and allowed them to reach ambient temp when the wind chill was something like -43.
Aside from the magnification ring on the optic being VERY stiff, the rifles all functioned normally. I use a very low viscosity grease called CherryBalmz winter balm when it is cold outside.
The interesting part of this test was when I carried the rifles back in the house after shooting. They immediately frosted HEAVILY and so thick that the optics would have been useless had I needed them.
The relevant data that I took from this experiment is that if you have a 'trunk gun' or something similar that gets below freezing and you need to use it inside a warm structure, your scope or red dot will likely be temporarily useless due to fogging/frosting.
The extreme mud tests, extreme firing schedule tests, don't really tell us much that is useful because it is unlikely that we will submerge our rifle in a wheelbarrow full of mud or fire 2000 rounds through it in 11 minutes.
A quick dunk and a shakeout like Sigfreund suggested above is a reasonable testing metric that might happen.
FWIW, there were contemporary accounts of the M1 Garand freezing up and/or becoming inoperable in both Italy (WWII) and Korea. Unfortunately I never saw any details of how that happened but because of its totally exposed bolt, I would expect it to be more prone to problems if it were caked with mud or heavy dirt.
“Cet animal est très méchant, quand on l’attaque il se défend.”
I gather it happened quite a bit. But I would think probably a lot easier to deal with by the design of the rifle. (You can beat on the charging/op rod handle. You can pull the trigger group out and stick it in your coat.)
I don't know why he didn't just rip the trigger group out when it didn't fire? (maybe he tried. That function can freeze solid too I suppose)
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