Today I took a trip out to the land mass that has been dubbed Range 25. My intent was to blow off some of my ammo in preparation for my upcoming move, since they won’t ship ammo. While I didn’t end up shooting nearly as much as I would have liked, due to a little ill-preparedness as far as targetry and equipment (seriously, who makes screws that small?), I did get the opportunity to test out my new arctic camo jacket that I made. I must say, for simply being a retrofitted goretex DCU top, it performed well as far as warmth, waterproofing, and camouflage are concerned.
As you can see here, I have very little additional camo on the gun. Though for good measure I am using a white turtle fur balaclava to help hide my face and to keep it warm. A little consideration for those of you who aren’t out in this mess often, putting face paint on below freezing is asking for frostbite that you won’t see coming. If anyone ever suggests using white face paint in the winter, kick them in the junk because they’re setting you up to fail.
A little bit of a distance shot showing my shooting position. Even silhouetted as I am here, it doesn’t immediately stand out on a glance which speaks wonders for the jacket being what it is. If I had actually tried to mummy wrap my gun to conceal it here, the amount of visibility on me would have been greatly reduced, despite being in the open.Here I moved into a slightly concealed position. From less than 10 feet away I am clearly visible as I purposefully didn’t go too far off of the trail. This shot is meant to show you that nothing is a fit all when you’re close enough to spit on them. You can’t substitute making an effort to conceal yourself, no matter what equipment you have. Though, under the right conditions, this position would still go unnoticed by a patrol passing by.
From the last picture, I remained in the same position and the cameraman moved about 25 feet away. You can look around in there all you want, but the only thing you may see is the circle of my scope. I assure you that shadow that is center and near the edge of the brush is not me. I only went about 3 feet off of the trail. In fact, the guy with the camera had to have me wave so that he could actually find where I was for the picture. So use this shot to know that a little bit of screen goes a long way when you do it right.
That being said, during this shoot I didn’t have much concealment on my gun. (Yes, I said gun. For those of you who are still living in the “Full Metal Jacket” days of marching around with your hand on your junk, whilst distinguishing between your rifle and your “gun”, I never bought into that and call my projectile spitter whatever I please.) Mainly because I had removed some of it while hunting moose and bear in the taiga in September. Not much snow on the ground (none below 5000 feet) and it didn’t require using snow camo because of it. After removing most of it I never got around to throwing it back on.
What i have found that works best is cloth sports tape. Standard medical tape gave off too much shine for my tastes, though it can be used, and engineer tape doesn’t stick so you end up just tying a funky looking mess onto your gun. However, when using the cloth sports tape, or mummy wrap ad i call it, and done properly it would look something like this:
Functionality of the bipod, bolt and scope were all intact by covering it this way.
Now, I have already been asked, “why not wrap the barrel too?” Short answer, adding extra material will interrupt the natural barrel harmonics. While that may not do that much to something like the m4 that has an allowance of four minutes of angle (4 inch shot group at 100 yards), a precision weapon operating at sub-moa could potentially be effected enough to change to a 2 or 3 moa gun. So to counter interrupted harmonics you would want to use a veil of lightweight material to drape or loosely wrap over the gun. Turns out a white mesh laundry bag does just the trick! (Side note, your wife may start getting pissed when you cut up her laundry stuff)
Maximum camouflage efficiency while retaining functionality! That is a winning concealment combo!
A lot of people like to brush off winter training simply because its cold out and no one really wants to go sit in -10 degree weather. Its easy to think that we will never need this training, that we will never fight in these conditions. That is simply untrue. Many battles have been fought in sub-arctic environments. Many of those battle included Russia, who is one of our leading global competitors. Some of those battles were in mountainous areas in the Alps that just happened to have near arctic conditions. Its not outside the realm of possibility that one day, we may encounter a force that we will have to fight in the snow. Our history is teeming with examples if you only do a little research, the Frozen Chosin in North Korea for example (another country we consider to be a potential threat).
Even looking outside of battles that America was involved in; one of the greatest snipers in history made his name in the frigid, snow covered fields of the Soviet-Finnish Winter War. Simo Häyhä, also known as The White Death, was a little 5 foot 3 inch Finnish soldier that managed to rack up 505 kills in less than 100 days. All because he embraced the concept of fighting in the snow and used it to his advantage. He didn’t balk at the idea because it was cold out. And neither should you. Get out there and get training for the fight you may one day be in. It doesn’t gotta be pretty, as long as it works.