Watching last might’s episode of Top Shot, I kept expecting to see a crane shot of a large tank of water with a shark swimming idly from side to side. Followed by the show’s contestants on the back of a motorcycle shooting at exploding targets as the bike jumped the shark. Instead, I watched the remaining contestants run an obstacle course—some of them some of it, two of them all of it—-and then fire an AK-47 at targets 50 and 75 yards away. Feet? I really should rewind the DVR to check. I’m afraid that running Episode Two at 5X would be five times more boring, rather than less. Seriously. I’ve seen sailboat races with greater drama. Watching continental drift is a pacier prospect. Anyway, the guns . . .
There was a lot of AK love last night. Given American gunmakers’ sensitivities, I was bit surprised to hear The Unshaven One call the AK-47 an “assault rifle.”
If the scriptwriters meant a rifle that can or has been used to assault someone then all rifles are assault rifles. In the same sense that all baseball bats are “assault bats.” By the same token, as all rifles can be used for defense, hunting or target shooting, all rifles are home defense hunting sporting rifles. Or, if you prefer, rifles.
OK I quibble. There is a working definition of “assault rifle” and the AK-47 meets it. The hive mind at wikipedia.org sets us straight:
It must be an individual weapon with provision to fire from the shoulder (i.e. a buttstock);
- It must be capable of selective fire;
- It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle;
- Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine rather than a feed-belt.
- And it should at least have a firing range of 300 meters (984 feet)
Selective fire, as in both semi-automatic (one bullet per trigger pull) and automatic (lots o’ bullets per trigger pull)? Fail. Top Shot’s AK was your basic neutered civilian semi-auto only model.
Why? Running through a genuine obstacle course shooting at targets with an AK-47 in machine gun mode would certainly liven things up at the danger-free zone known as the Top Shot gun range. Note 1: not all the competitors hit the water with guns in hand. Note 2: prolonged exposure to overhead electricity cables is the competitors’ biggest safety threat.
And what’s up with box fresh AKs? I would have liked to have seen the competitors try a full-auto crapped out AK from a pile of broken ass guns captured from the Taliban. Scooping a handful of bullets of an indeterminate age and provenance from a heap of ammo poured onto/into sand. Historical accuracy demands it.
But no. The Top Shots ran the obstacle course with brand new semi-automatic AKs zeroed to a nano-millimeter of their lives. In fact, the Top Shot drones ran the obstacle course with unloaded guns and empty magazines—they had to swap mags when they arrived at the sandbagged shooting area.
I bet that wimp-out was ordered by the same lawyer who mandated that the course be low to the ground, in case someone should fall off a rope wall and sprain their ankle. Was that barbed wire even barbed?
Anyway, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the AK-47 (and the rest) by reading ace war reporter CJ Chivers’ excellent tome The Gun. Or you can click here for The History Channel’s Weapons Rundown. Or click here and watch the AK competition recap. Done.
Also in Top Shot Season Three, Episode Two, Part Two, Verse Seven Hundred and Eighty-Five; policewoman Sara Ahrens faced off against Christian Camp Counsellor Dustin Ellermann. (After some sexist remarks about Sara’s size.) Facing elimination, the competitors shot a Smith & Wesson M&P .45 at a line of rotating blue and red lightbulbs.
The SWAT cop’s “Meet the Marksman” page declares that “Sara Ahrens doesn’t feel like she has anything to prove.” She certainly lived up to her expectations. She blamed her piss poor performance on competition nerves. I repeat: an eleven-year Army vet with 15 years on the Rockford, Illinois police department—four of which were spent on their SWAT team—complained that shooting next to another human was too much pressure.
At least she didn’t blame it on the gun. Why would she? As long as you don’t buy Smith’s semi-automatic striker-fired M&P in The Bay State—where its safety-minded “Massachusetts trigger” does for accuracy what Adriana Lima does for celibacy—the M&P is a terrific piece. Top Shot made the Smith seem like a military and police model that somehow managed to “seep” to mere mortals. Fair enough. It did. And it’s great to see the old girl in action.
God knows there’s a lot of inaction on Top Shot. I reckon a large part of the boredom is down to the fact that Top Shot is more Survivor than History Channel. Trash talking is nowhere as interesting as actual real-life blood and guts stories of firearms used in anger. Or competitions based on same. But that requires creativity, risk (i.e. insurance) and money.
Yes, there is that. Or isn’t. I’m not saying that the program suffers from a lack of financial resources, but I am saying that Top Shot must be amazingly profitable. I’d also like to state for the record that Top Shot is generally devoid of interesting firearms shot in interesting competitions by interesting people with what’s commonly known as a sense of humor. Still, the season’s young. We have rock throwing to look forward to.
[Click here for The Guns of Top Shot Season Three Episode One]