My love affair with the SPR (Scoped Carbine/Recce/DMR/whatever...) began the second I was handed a MK12 Mod-1 to put in my "golf bag" for deployment. It was lightweight, accurate, had low recoil, and could dominate the 0-800 distance threshold. It wasn't however, totally without faults.
First was the A1 buttstock...not a fan. So like many others I swapped the upper onto my M4A1 lower when I wanted to use it. I changed the trigger over as well to get the benefit of the two-stage. The optic was decent for the time it was selected, but even then there were better options emerging. On one trip in 2012 my Battalion Gunner nearly had a aneurism when he saw I had signed out one of the new new Leupold MK8 CQBSS slotted for the Machine Gun sighting system and slapped it on the mk12. Despite my best fact based argument, I got rock-paper-ranked and had to turn it back in...where it sat unused.
feelings grow deeper
Getting back to the world I wanted to find out more about my new love and its program of record (POR). If anyone really cares, it's fairly well documented on the internet from the SEAL Recce rifle lineage up through the development of the MK12 mod 0 and then mod 1. One mod that saw very limited fielding, and that many are unfamiliar with, is the MK12 mod H. The "H" stands for Holland, or MSG Daryl Holland. As the story goes, while MSG Holland was serving as the Force Modernization NCO at 5th Special Forces Group when he used his connections in the Industry to refurbish their MK12 mod 0's, and make the changes they desired based on enduser feedback coming straight back from the front. The PRI forend and ARMS mounts remained, but the buttstock was changed to an adjustable M4 type and barrel was replaced with a Noveske 16" SS match barrel that still allowed the use of the OPS INC suppressor, mount, and collar. The end product was exactly what I wanted.
The Rifle pictured above is the first gun I ever owned. I bought it before I joined the Marine Corps and really learned about guns, shooting, or the Industry, and as such it's not exactly the crown jewel of my personal arsenal. It started life as a bone stock STAG AR-15, complete with the plastic handguards and detachable carry handle. Despite its lack of pedigree, it is the gun I cut my teeth on. After the Corps had given me the basics, I began spending leave seeking out training classes on my own. I can't even fathom what the total round count is on this thing. The gun has seen several configurations as I've progressed as a shooter, and as my preferences and industry offerings have evolved. For the last 4-5 years though, it has sat at the back of the safe as other rifles from Noveske, BCM, and Knights have been my go-to's.
In mid-2017 the need for a dedicated light precision rig and having some parts sitting around got me thinking about finally putting together the MK12 mod H that I wanted, and that the industry could currently provide. Every part was chosen specifically for the overall goal of a setup that is, at its heart, a fighting rifle. I wanted it to be absolutely dominant from 0-600 yards, and able to stretch to its transonic threshold with only slightly more effort.
I tore the gun completely apart and everything went in the parts washer. With the receiver set sitting naked on the bench I began the reassembly process. First was a new Lower Parts Kit from ALG Defense. For those unfamiliar, ALG is Geissele's sister company and their quality is unrivaled. The buffer tube, buffer and spring are from VLTOR/BCM and is the A5 buffer system which provides longer travel and a heavier buffer that is more similar to a rifle length system. I really like the recoil impulse of the A5 and use it on all of my AR's. I reinstalled an original Magpul aluminum trigger guard and also a BCM Gunfighter Pistol Grip, my preference is the original version that doesn't have the added beavertail. Last up for the lower was installing a Geissele SSA trigger. Many will choose the SSA-E as it's break is a pound lighter, but I specifically choose the SSA's 4.5# weight as it meets the requirements of any competition I may wish to enter. Also, as a two stage trigger, the final break weight is 2# which is nearly identical to all of my bolt guns. With the lower complete it was time for the upper.
I started with the barrel. It was actually one of the parts I had lying around. My wife had bought me a BCM 16" SS410 mid-length barrel when our first son was born. I had pined after it for a while but never pulled the trigger, imagine my surprise when that box of awesome showed up. The barrel is chambered in .223 Wylde with a 1:8 twist. For those that don't know, that chamber and twist rate combo was pioneered (as is most AR development these days) by Service Rifle competitors, and also nearly matched the MK12's spec. Supporting parts are a BCM low profile gas block and a melanited gas tube. I've considered upgrading it to a Knight gas system setup as it is a superior design, but by having the gas block built by the same people that spec'd the gas port size of the barrel, I felt that was probably a better choice. Before this barrel went in this gun it has shot 3/4moa 10 shot groups at 100y and has been pushed out to 854y with ease, both done with mk262 and Prime 77gr match ammo. It also seems to be relatively immune to heat generated at the pace I typically like to drive this thing. At the end is a Surefire Close Tined Warcomp. Warcomps are on every one of my 5.56 guns.
The rail is a Knights Armament URX 4 MLOK. I like it, a lot. Slightly beefier than the BCM KMR or MCMR it has less flex but is similar in dimension. I chose MLOK to "future proof" the gun. With SOCOM and therefore much of the Industry choosing MLOK, it is the future. Mounted at the 6 o'clock is the Badger Ordnance Low Profile Bipod Kit which is nice because it removes the linkage from the front of the bipod allowing the gun to be loaded onto more supports with more surface area contact. It also rotates the releases 90* to the inboard, alleviating the age old problem of the legs extending at free random when bracing the gun off of various prop and supports. When all is said and done the rail will also have my MAWL-DA and one of my Surefire Scout lights mounted, the latter using an Arisaka mount.
Optics are the key to the SPR world. Size, weight, magnification power, focal plane, and reticle choice are all key components of SPR optic selection. Obviously the smallest and lightest option, durable enough withstand the style of use it will see is preferred. When it comes to magnification, this can really dictate the capability of the rifle. The more magnification, the more refined I can make my sight picture, making it so I can truly shoot the capability of the weapon and ammo combination. The point of diminishing returns though is limiting your situational awareness by shrinking your field of view. The way I intend to employ this rifle, I chose a Nightforce 4-16 ATACR with the Mil-R reticle, mounted in a Geissele Super Precision Mount (34mm/1.54). For the size/weight penalty this thing is killer. First Focal Plane is a must for me in the precision role. Many will ask why not some type of distended reticle such as a Horus or a Tremor? I run a Tremor3 in almost every other one of my precision rifles so it makes sense to have continuity, but the way I intend to use this rifle forced my choice. The mil-R reticle is a traditional cross-hair type reticle, and as such works very well for the human eye to center the cross hair even low in the magnification range. It is also much easier to center up from the sorts of alternate positions you may find yourself fighting from in an urban environment. Some will say this is too much magnification, but I'm very used to running around with a 4x ACOG, so by rolling with it set on 4x and able to quickly ramp it up, I don't find myself at too much of a disadvantage. For indoor and close range work, an Aimpoint T1 micro (2 moa) will be mounted at the 1 o'clock.
I'm in the final stages of putting this thing together, so I'll report back with a review as to whether or not it meets all of the performance requirements I'm hoping it will. For those of you attending our Scoped Carbine classes this year you'll see first hand how much this thing rocks and have the privilege of basking in its awesomeness. In all seriousness though, this is a supremely capable tool that I look forward to using to show the world how the SPR is truly one rifle to rule them all.
Receiver: Stag Arms
LPK: ALG Defense
Trigger: Geissele Automatics SSA
Rail: Knights Armament URX4 MLOK
Barrel: 16" BCM SS410 Nitrided, 1:8rh, .223 wylde, mid-length
Stock: Magpul CTR w/Larue P.O.D
Grip: BCM Gunfighter
CH: Geissele Automatics Super Charging Handle
Muzzle: Surefire Warcomp Closed Tined
Bipod: Badger Ordnance LPRK (MLOK)
Optic: Nightforce 4-16 ATACR (mil-r)/Aimpoint T1 micro
Mount: Geissele Super Precision (34mm/1.54)/Larue 1 o'clock