My local gun club hosts Civilian Marksmanship Program-sanctioned rifle matches. I’ve been interested in this sort of competition, but I’m not sure the best approach to get into the game, as it were. I figured the collective wisdom of the Armed Intelligensia would come in handy here. For a good overview of the CMP/NRA High Power match process, check out Foghorn’s excellent post here. One thing that the CMP does for its competitions is to level the playing field, so to speak, and insure that all of the competitors are shooting similar weapons . . .
This allows the competition to focus on skills rather than equipment and also stays true to the historical roots of the program which grew out of military competition. What this means is that you’re restricted to a large degree as to the type of rifle you can shoot. At the very least, it must be similar to a service rifle issued by one of the Armed forces. This generally means M1 Garand, M14, and AR-15/M-16. I’m not clear on whether the M1 Carbine meets the criteria of a service rifle, but even if it does, I’m not sure if the ballistics of the .30 carbine cartridge would put you at a disadvantage.
The issue I am facing is the best way to get into the game given what I have or what I can purchase. I currently own an M1 Garand and an M1A (Semi-auto version of an M14 pattern rifle made by Springfield Armory). Either of these would obviously work, but I’m wondering if an AR15 might be better for the general competition since it’s a good deal lighter than those two.
If the AR15 is the way to go, then I’m still confused. I currently own a SIG Sauer 516 rifle. It’s equipped with flip up front and rear BUIS with a red dot as its primary optic. Obviously, I would have to toss the red dot for CMP matches, but I’m concerned that the SIG Sauer-provided BUIS may not be the ideal iron sight for serious competition. Add to this is the fact that the collapsible M4 stock is specifically disallowed by the rules, so I’d have to replace the stock with a fixed one. One final concern is that, as a short stroke piston rifle, I’m not sure if it’s capable of the accuracy needed over longer distances.
If I were going to get a new rifle, my initial choice would be an Armalite National Match rifle with a 20″ barrel, but in the current environment, I can just about forget that option unless I want to pay through the nose on Gunbroker. For that matter, 20″ barreled AR15 uppers are in rather short supply, so I’m kind of stuck.
Option two would be a SIG Sauer M400 Hunter The good news is that this rifle has a 20″ barrel, fixed stock, and lacks both a threaded barrel and a bayonet lug meaning that I could take it across the border for matches in Massachusetts (assuming of course that they don’t change the rules on me which is probably likely…but that’s another story for another day).
While I am admittedly a SIG Sauer whore, my main reason for looking at this rifle is the fact that it’s in stock and with the SIG Sauer Academy discount, my price would cost south of $1,000. The downside to this option is that it’s clearly intended to have an optic mounted. The rifle lacks any built-in sights and in fact has no way of even attaching a front sight. This latter issue could be overcome either through replacement of the existing gas block with one sporting a rail or an A2 style tower sight or by replacing the foregrip with something like a Samson Evolution Series 15″ Rail. I could then mount front and rear sights on it.
So with that information as background, what is your recommendation? I’m leaning in the direction of the M400 with the Samson rail, but am not sure what sights I should get. There’s a wide range of prices for sights and I want to know what’s going to give me the best chances of hitting the target.
Replacing the gas block with something mounting a short rail or the A2 tower seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. The CMP Service Rifle matches have courses of fire of 200, 300, and 600 yards. This latter distance makes me wonder if the AR15 is simply not the best tool for the job here, but from what I understand, AR15s are used in a lot of these matches, so what do I know?
What if you have experience in CMP matches, what would you do? If I get some good feedback, I I’ll write up the recommendations for people getting into CMP rifle matches in a subsequent post. One note – I’m interested specifically in CMP matches. NRA high power is another animal with a different set of rules and a different topic for another time.