Light Is Right

There will always be a tipping point, where too much of a good thing can be bad. One scenario I have paid more attention to is with rifles; their weight and its effect on performance.

It’s Always About The Ounces

Ever since I can remember, there has always been an association with lighter being better. Again, not a blanket statement you can easily make when you factor in durability and reliability. The lighter option may not have the ability to take higher use. I saw this first hand in my military career when we were always trying to shave ounces off our gear. Having to carry the weight is one thing, having to fight with the weight is a completely different story. You feel its effect most often in a negtive manner. But, there was always the need to have a high reliability on the gear we used so it still had to be tough. Flash forward to modern times and you can still see a similar trend.

If You Know, You Know

We have a rifle weigh-in at the beginning of our rifle classes. What we are doing is collecting metrics to compare with performance. Do we see a trend of heavy to light weight rifles effecting shooting performance. By shooting performance we are talking about scores and overall final grade. Generally speaking the lighter the rifle, the higher the chance of passing the class. There could be a lot of different reasons for this trend. Maybe it has more to do with the end user understanding the idea of minimizing his loadout to the bear necessities. Someone with this mindset, might already have the prerequisite skills to be an above average shooter. Their marksmanship skills are tied to the idea of understanding performance.

Define The Mission

When we see rifles weighing more than normal, does it help or hurt the student’s performance. In general, weight and its effect on performanceit has hurt their ability to score high or achieve a passing grade. While we have only been collecting the rifle’s weight and its effect on performance for about three years, it does illustrate a belief that I have had for as long as I can remember. Having a light weight rifle with the minimum gear necessary to complete your mission should be your top priority. This goes further into defining your mission, specifically the mission of the rifle. Here is where we see many folks make mistakes. Without having a weight metric to include with their decision making matrix this very important point is left out. When you start to get into the weeds you have a better chance of identifying your needs more clearly.

Needs Vs. Wants

Define the mission for your rifle. For the vast majority, the rifle will fullfil an urban defensive mission. The range to target in these self-defense shootings will be close. What you need, versus what you want are two different subjects. When you start adding up all the accessories are they offering you advantage, a force multiplier. Or are they just there as a decoration. I refernce decoration for a lot of add on’s because most truly have no real need for some items. But, just because you don’t need them doesn’t mean you don’t add them on to the rifle. If you do, how will it affect your performance. Rather than tell you what you need, I will provide you some observations as it relates to the overall weight of the rifle unloaded.

What Is The Magic Number

Rifle Weigh-in 2
Nice, optical weight

I have found if you can keep your rifle to 8 pounds or less you are heading in the right direction regarding weight and its effect on performance. While I’ve seen rifles much heavier in our classes, the scores were also lower. I’m not saying don’t add to your rifle, but before you do ask this question. How will this positiviely and negatively effect my performance. If the added weight is going to push you over that 8 pound mark then you have that information in advance and make a more informed decision. Does the percieved advantage outweight the added weight…literally. Here is what we typically see on rifles in our classes that come in at the 8 pound mark. They are a light weight rifle to begin with, with some type of optical sight, usually a red dot sight with back up iron sights. They are all equiped with a sling and some have a weapon mounted white light. We will see short barrel rifles come in much lighter and when we add surpressors they typicaly come in a bit heavier. If you can combine the SBR with suppressor you get the best setup regarding weight.

Of course, you can still use a heavier rifle. You can build up a tolerence to the extra weight and to some extent bring balance to the equation, but always consider if it is a want versus a need.

2 thoughts on “Weight And Its Effect On Performance

  1. Don C Wilson says:

    I appereciate your article on rifle & optic weight. Thought you might find this interesting; I served with USMC, as a FMF Corpsman, in Vietnam. Back then, some Combat Units I observed, the Marines often selected some of the smaller in size & stature to operate a belt fed machine gun and usually had two of the largest guys to tote the ammo.
    Still trying to figure that one out’

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