Broadsword Saga – 2

The Broadsword, how did this all come about? As I said in my last post, I had been watching Crusader Weaponry with interest. I really wasn’t interested in an AR pattern rifle. I had it in my head that a gas piston based weapon, that had the ergonomics and user interface of an AR pattern rifle was the right place to be. Having spent too many days of my life making M-16s clean enough to pass an inspectors Q-Tip test, I really was not enamored of having a gas impingement rifle of my own. As a result, I went out a few years back and acquired a SIG 556 rifle. That’s my semi automatic carbine in 5.56.

Time to diverge and provide a bit of background.

Gas impingment system, or Stoner system is the system designed by Eugene Stoner in the 1950’s and forms the basis for all AR pattern rifles (AR-10, M-16, M-4, etc). Essentially, this system takes a bleed of the cartridge exhaust gases from the barrel of the rifle (near the crown of the barrel), and delivers it through a small tube directly to the bolt carrier group of the rifle. This gas them causes the bolt carrier to cycle back into the buffer spring that is in the stock of the rifle, in the process of this movement the bolt extracts the expended cartridge. When the buffer spring pushes the bolt carrier group back to the chamber, the bolt carrier strips a cartridge from the magazine and places it into the chamber of the rifle, and then locks in place. This process means that a portion of the gas is directed into the operators face, and there is an amount of carbon build up that takes place on the bolt, and related components.

The gas piston approach essentially is the same as the Stoner design, except instead of the bas flowing back into the bolt carrier, the gas is used to actuate a piston that pushes a rod back against the bolt carrier. The result is less build up of exhaust products on the bolt, and receiver components, and less gas in the operator’s face.

Note:  Please don’t slam me for detailed inaccuracies, the above two paragraphs are summary level, to provide a broad background.  Details of the direct gas impingement system can be found here.

Getting back to the basic requirement I wanted to come up with a weapon that was somewhere between a Designated Marksman level rifle, and the full blown all out specialized “sniper” rifle. It was to be a semi-automatic platform (I am very happy with my bolt action CZ550 I don’t need another one) and it had to be able to reach out, within the limits of my abilities, to the 800 to 1000 yd range consistently.

The first decision that I had to make was did I really want to go down the road of a gas impingement system. Given my experience, I was a bit reluctant to go this route. What mitigated my concerns?

  1. Slipstream. All of the Crusader weapons get a permanent slipstream treatment. Not only does this improve performance but it makes them easier to clean.
  2. This isn’t the Marine Corps any more. If the component looks clean but that Q-tip comes back off white… it’s OK.
  3. Using an optic instead of iron sights, I should have enough eye (and face) relief to reduce the unpleasantness of a snoot full of exhaust gas.

With that major decision made, the next was really what caliber was I going to use. There are all kinds of options out there. What I am really interested in though is long range use. I have found that I am very adept in the 100, 200, even 500 hundred yard ranges. Whether 5.56 mm NATO, or 7.62 NATO I work very well in the sub 500 yard domain consistently from a variety of positions. At greater than 500 yards, particularly with adverse weather conditions, I am challenged. My focus then became, what caliber and weight of bullet can:

  1. Consistently perform at those ranges between 500 and 900 yards.
  2. Is that round readily available, and
  3. Is it affordable.

After much research, I narrowed it down to:

  1. 7.62 NATO (.308 Winchester)
  2. 6.5 Creedmoor

I have a rifle in .308, so I was really leaning toward 6.5 Creedmoor. While both cartridges are about the same in price I only found one 6.5 Creedmoor manufacturer that was readily available. Since reloading is not in the cards right now, .308 was the winner. This also allows me to build on my experience and absorbed knowledge base of the ballistics of the .308. Introducing a new set of ballistic behavior for a new caliber into my brain is probably asking for confusion.

At this stage in the process, I would be ready to head down to the local gun shops and start shopping. But wait, the AR platform is like buying a muscle car. Once you have the basics you get to begin the “hot rodding” process.  Since this is a custom project, the fun was just beginning.

Stay tuned. Our next look at the Broadsword is where the fun began.

BTW:  New pictures of Broadsword S/N 002 are up at Gundoctors site.  They were taken outside of Vegas this week.

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