B5 Systems

Gunfighter Moment – Daryl Holland


I get more questions about the “Black Gun” with a suppressor than any other weapon that I post. I called this black beauty my Recce Rifle, which the unit armorers could take an ordinary M-4 with a 16″ barrel and make it shoot 1/2 MOA groups at 100m. As a sniper, I chose this gun from my gun lockup over the other dozen guns if I needed a light weight, precision instrument for a mission that I could also use as an Assault Rifle inside a structure if needed. The suppressor was made by Knight’s and never failed me, but as much fun as these suppressors are to shoot, the extra cleaning balances it out.


Daryl Holland, US Army SGM (Ret)


Larry Vickers offers these additional observations:

The early Recce rifle efforts started in the Delta Sniper Troops in the early 1990’s – post Operation Just Cause timeframe.

A variety of things were tried (such as stainless steel match barrels) but the improvements narrowed down to a few areas; improved ammo, improved triggers, a variety of optics and lastly free float hand guards and eventually rail systems. These efforts pre date the Mk12 in NSW use by many years.

Knights Armament played a big role with development of both enhanced triggers and free float rails coming out of this program. Reed Knight said from an early stage that better ammo would yield much better results than match barrels and he of course was correct. Delta pushed forward with acquiring better ammo that has led to much of the specialized 5.56mm ammo on the market today. Black Hills and Hornady both offer loadings as a direct result of these efforts.

The rifle shown in this picture had an early SR-25 carbon fiber free float tube adapted to it. This became a common modification in Delta to get more real estate for lights and lasers and better zero retention vs the carbine length KAC rail. This led to the development of the KAC MRE rail which was the first extended length rail of its kind.

Also the scope in this pic is a Microdot – a Japanese 1.25 x 4 off the shelf commercial grade scope that had a red dot in addition to a reticle. This was a stop gap optic after the need arose in Mogadishu Somalia for better target ID vs a red dot sight in the street fighting of that battle. Eventually Leupold offered an optic ( the CQT) at Deltas request to fill this need. It didn’t really answer the mail for Delta so I approached Schmidt & Bender on the Units behalf to build a more suitable optic. This is how the S&B Short Dot was born.

Delta played a critical early role in the SPR program ( later Mk12) that we know of today. In typical Unit fashion they did it quietly without books, movies and public spectacles of ‘who shot who’ played out for the world to see. The True Quiet Professionals.

-Larry Vickers, US Army MSG (Ret)
Vickers Tactical Inc.
Host of TacTV

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer us some words of wisdom.

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24 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Daryl Holland

  1. Vince says:

    Ding Ding! Round One…

  2. ThatBlueFalcon says:

    Fascinating stuff. I love these segments on early rifles used in SOF – the evolution to what’s out there now and the contributions by some of the major players early on (especially the Knight’s crew) is very interesting history!

  3. Kaos-1 says:

    That’s cool looking , it’s like a cross between a PRI tube and a KAC free-float.

  4. Tim Utley says:

    This is quality stuff! I would love to see Larry Vickers write a book on weapons development I the Unit during his time. Great stuff. Larry….hint hint!

  5. Dellis says:

    Very cool and this would be akin to a bad ass street/track machine not getting its full potential because its being fuled with subpar fuel.

    Love to see the evolution of this, and many other firearm platforms, and often wonder how just a few of those changes would have an effect, if any, on battles of the past?

    Nice stuff, thank you

  6. Ed Hickey says:

    and this is why I choose to buy time tested SOCOM weapons. There’s a reason they use what they use.

    • Henrik says:

      Yes but sometimes the reason is boring why they choose what they choose.

      Like the Beretta M9. From what I have read Army SF often (not always) choose it over Glocks etc. This is because there will always be mags the Beretta around.

      • Rick says:

        No, they use it because there aren’t enough Glocks to go around.

        The only dudes Ive seen chose the M9 over a Glock is because only 19s were available and they have incredibly large hands.

        Any decent SF guy should have Glock mags laying around his house anyway.


  7. Hubb says:

    Delta did a hit on a duck?

  8. bulldog76 says:

    ok what hand guard was that, its time to build an old school pre spr rifle

  9. BravoMike says:

    Thanks for this article. Larry, ditto on what was said above regarding you writing a book to compile some of these anecdotes. Your knowledge of exotic weapons, the development of the industry, and the deployment of these weapons by the Unit are second to none. I enjoy reading these stories.

  10. H.C. says:

    +10000 on a writing a book… I get most of my fill from Augee on ar15.com, but his info is more recent… love Larry’s articles. So, yeah… when can you get started on your literary masterpiece, Mr. Vickers?

  11. va beach says:

    Interesting tidbit of history, that i bet a few (myself included) didn’t know about the recce rifle/sr25/Mk12. However assuming comments are read, all of the self lauding of, “Delta STARTED this whole ting and did the MOST to get it to where it is” while taking (unmentioned) shots at members of other organizations who publish books undoes a bit of the quiet professional mentioned at the end. While 99% of any member in any SOF unit is disgusted by members who write books for personal gain, especially when the instance being wrote about is very fresh, writing a blog piece on how its because of Delta that we now have whatever recce rifle we have, is not to terribly different, especially with all the backslapping you built into your comments on how Delta made it all happen. Again thank you for the history, and any literature from any person on history is most certainly among the great gifts given to society, I hope no one hear holds their breath on you writing something Mr Vickers because that stands to make you a hypocrite simply because of your feelings shown at the end.

    • AlexC says:

      The difference between the two is that members of a unit talking about themselves or their unit is very different from someone who IS STILL SERVING talking about their experiences for monetary gain, and also very different from OTHERS talking about yourself and your unit.

      You cannot control the actions of others you can only control your own actions. Also, the information posted here about the rifle development is already around 20 years old. We are not reading about what Delta is up to today in regards to weapons development.

      • Joe says:

        Did either of those dudes in that “other unit” write books when they were in? No they did not.
        Also, let’s see how much monetary gain either of them really got.
        The critique is on the thinly veiled shots at the other unit, not the fact that information about weapons is being offered.

    • SSD says:

      I don’t think setting the record straight is a form of hypocrisy.

  12. Cgggoose says:

    What brand and style of hiking boots are they wearing in the top photo?

  13. Vince says:

    The cheap shots are what overshadowed this article. Although I have great respect for LAV and have nothing but confidence in his knowledge, the cheesy reference to NSW only served to take away from the material presented. This was the point of my original post at the top. Each unit, Delta, Devgru, Force all have shared in the development of something and if a third party could shitcan the bias to provide an accurate account of the information surrounding the development history of our fighting tools, that would be a good read.

    • I don’t care what you think about the article – some members of the NSW community seem to think everything in SOF starts and ends with them; that is simply not true. The Mk12 is a good example – the concept for it was started outside of their community years before it was adopted as the Mk12.

      I for one am tired of this and this was meant to set the record straight on this paricular weapon – end of story.

      Your approval was not a requirement – plain and simple

      • Davey Sickboy says:

        That’s bad ass LAV! Thanks for sharing! I have learned a lot over the years from you, along with a lot of other people who follow you. All these spurts of valuable information put into one book would definitely be a piece of kit that I would buy.

    • If you look at the author of those statements it isn’t out of the norm for his usual behavior. Nothing new to see.

  14. JWC says:

    Like others, I’d LOVE a book on Spec Ops weapons.

  15. Noslorob says:

    Interesting article, and SUPER interesting pics. Especially considering how many times I saw guys riding those dirt bikes around Range 19 while I was on patrol at Ft. Bragg from 1991-96. A lot of interesting things were going on during those times that we never knew about. It is a part of history that I, for one, find completely intruiging. Especially the Mogadishu time frame. Lots of lessons learned from that event. I spent many hours at a holding location, hoping to invade Somalia as part DRF for the 82nd during this event. As far as the dig on the Navy. It is what it is. No need to take up for those guys, they are big boys playing a game with big boy rules. They understand fully that they belong to a community of professionals who live and die by lessons learned, and being discreet. Therefore they should know comments are coming, and can handle it. They don’t need anyone here to take their part for them. I have been in a class with LAV in which my shooting buddy was a SEAL. Larry spoke of him, and treated him as an equal. Please keep in mind we all are constitutionally given our right to our opinion, but some have EARNED the right in ways most of us cannot imagine. LAV is one of those guys. Enjoy the article for what it is, a glimpse into SOF history. Stay safe!