T1, T1 Mk18, T3, and GWOT
I recently was able to take a day and head out to my friend’s farm and do a little bit of shooting. I had a lot of guns, many of which I had not been able to shoot since they had been purchased, but there were a few I wanted to focus on. The Tier Rifle Program that I mentioned in previous posts has thus far been all on paper. I wanted to use the rifles and see how they perform in practical application. I also wanted to shoot the clone of my service rifle from my second deployment. I will say this: the results were exactly what I had expected.
I’ll start with the GWOT Rifle. It is everything I remember my service rifle being when I was still on active duty. It offered accuracy, basic function, and simple reliability. I built it using an ALG Defense QMS Trigger, which does the job of copying a military trigger without the select fire option. It’s not super heavy, but it requires deliberate action to run the trigger. The accuracy was good. Without any zeroing of the ACOG I was ringing a 10×16″ C-Zone target from about 40yds without having to do any sort of funky holdover. It was every bit as good as I remember my original rifle being and I really enjoyed the dip into my nostalgia.
The Tier 3 was not as enjoyable as the GWOT. At least not for me. I brought my friend Roman along and he thought it was just fine. The issue I had with the T3 wasn’t honestly with the rifle itself. My biggest complaint was how absolutely terrible the optic is. They say you get what you pay for, but I feel the raw materials to make the scope would not equal what I paid for it, and that is about all its worth. The light transmittance on the glass was bad. The parallax was terrible. The reticle is garbage. It was atrocious. Along with the bad optic, the irons are purely ornamental and the handguard is noticeably canted from the centerline of the receiver and barrel. Roman’s one complaint was the spoon-on-cheese-grater sound of the basic chrome silicone buffer spring rattling around in the buffer tube the first time he fired it. Roman has never used a 5.56mm AR before. His experience had been limited to his .50 Beowulf from Alexander Arms. The T3 was a very different experience, but because he hasn’t had much experience with the platform, he felt it was adequate. And I will agree with that sentiment to a point. It fired and cycled reliably. It does its job. I feel with a few parts changed out it could be a decent rifle. The big question I have is how long will the low grade parts last? The T3 is running a carbine gas system, so it has a bit more pressure and a more noticeable recoil impulse. The BCG is a no name unit with a titanium nitride finish. The gas key appears to be properly staked, but time and use will inform us whether or not it is worth the low cost I paid for it. With a better handguard, sights, and optic the T3 would probably be a good first rifle for most people.
The T1 was a real treat to shoot. From first to last round, if it missed the target it was entirely the shooter’s fault. The T1 was dead on out the gate and ran so smooth it was like shooting an airsoft rifle. I didn’t even feel it. The midlength gas system is perfect and the whole rifle ran flawlessly. The Nightforce optic was everything an optic should be. The glass was clear and crisp and the reticle was easy to pick up through the entire magnification range. The Griffin Armament barrel is a high quality part that I am glad I chose to use. I wish they offered a 10.3″, 18″, and 20″ option for Mk18, SPR, and DMR respectively. The 16″ barrel used on this rifle makes for a fantastic general purpose rifle. I am looking forward to seeing how this rifle does when I get a flash hider mounted suppressor for this project. The BCG on this rifle is designed for suppressed rifles, so I have no doubt it will continue to be a performer.
The T1 Mk18 was just as much a joy as the T1 was. The only thing that will make it better is getting the suppressor for it. I have purchased the suppressor, I am just waiting for the ATF to release it to me.Until the powers that be deem me worthy of ownership, however, the T1 Mk18 has the suppressor mount muzzle device and that’s it. Even so, the Mk18 was very fun to shoot. Like it’s full size counterpart, the T1 Mk18 ran flawlessly and accurately. The Eotech was functionally accurate with a simple lollipop zero on the iron sights.
I plan to take the guns to an indoor, known distance range for a proper zero. I did use a bore sight to get the Nightforce scope and the T3 optic to the point where they would be on target, but the Nightforce didn’t require much adjustment and probably would have been on steel right out of the box anyway. I want to take the opportunity to reiterate that when you are setting up a rifle, spend the money on your glass. A nice rifle isn’t worth anything if it can’t hit a target. You can’t hit a target if you can’t see it. Good quality glass is important. Light transmittance is often overlooked, but cloudy, poor quality glass can make or break the experience of shooting a firearm. If you are on a budget I highly suggest looking at the offerings from Primary Arms. I have used a couple of their optics and even at the lower price points they offer, the optics are good quality.
I did bring out another rifle for it’s first range day, but I will be highlighting that build in a later article. The Tier rifle project is off to a great start though. I very much look forward to stacking the T1, T2, and T3 against each other once they are all properly set up and zeroed. I’m excited to see what weaknesses and failures present themselves as we run the rifles through their tasks and drills.