Salomon Forces

Gunfighter Moment – John Ellison

Scoped Combat Carbines

Close Quarter Battle is the most dangerous mission that anyone can undertake, so it is important to mitigate risk en route to an objective and to gain every advantage possible before committing to a fight. Above all else, maintaining surprise is paramount. There are configurations and components that will help end users retain this advantage in the field.

The weapon system can run as short as an 11.5” 5.56×45 given the 50-200 meter range that most engagements will occur, but typically a 16” barrel is the maximum length manageable without potentially degrading shooter performance.

Fired from a 11.5” BCM carbine, the Barnes VOR-TX 70 gr Triple-Shock X(TSX) bullet delivers an average muzzle velocity of 2500 FPS. Barnes internal testing has demonstrated repeatedly that the 70 gr TSX performs as designed at velocities down to 1800 FPS. That means when fired from an 11.5” upper, reliable terminal performance can be expected out to 220 meters.

When employing a defensive marksman type rifle, ie a 16” BCM, a 77 gr SMK Sierra Match King delivers a muzzle velocity of 2671 FPS. Ballistics testing performed by Crane indicate that the round will yaw and fragment as designed reliably out to 300 meters. The match characteristics of the round improve hit probability on targets out to 600 meters.

Suppressors both reduce visual signature from a shot and give the bullet a potential 15 feet per second(+/-) bump in muzzle velocity (which is essential for lethal effect on target out of short barreled rifles). There are also shorter CQB suppressors(4” +/-), built specifically for 14.5” carbines, that will reduce the visual signature of the weapon, but will have less of an effect dampening the report.

Variable power scopes can look into buildings, through windows, sometimes 1-2 rooms deep depending on the layout of the structure. This means seeing who is present inside a structure and if they are armed. Gathering this information before the element enters a building allows them to plan and prepare detailed first hand data about an area before they commit to owning it.

Today, there are 1-6 scopes that are compact enough to work on a short carbine with an eye box generous enough at 1x to be employed as fast as a red dot with some good training reps. Adding a Throw Lever – referred to colloquially as a cat tail – to a scope will allow the end user to quickly cycle from 1x to max magnification and back, giving the shooter the best platform for their situation as it evolves.

Today’s raids are often conducted from an offset position, requiring the element to patrol into the target from as far out as 10 kilometers. This adds to the likelihood of maintaining surprise, and allows for a continual reconnaissance with scopes, gathering detailed information on nearby structures as the element approaches. If a threat presents itself, suppressed weapons do not produce sounds typically associated with gunfire and reduce the likelihood of alerting the local population.

Once at a target structure, commandos will often spend only 60-90 seconds inside clearing and capturing the building before establishing and maintaining security in and around the location. This can take the form of both rooftop overwatch or blocking positions on the street itself. Time on target can range from 10 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the objectives of the raid.

During this time, it is not unusual for nearby neighbors to observe the scene from their rooftops or leave their homes entirely, and approach the target on foot to further investigate. With variable powered scopes, security teams can quickly and accurately scan for the presence of weapons, web gear, radios, phones or threatening actions and respond to them before they can be employed against the element. There are also clip-on thermal and night vision scopes that can be added to a carbine that will allow the user to collect this information even in low light/no light settings.

There is no one-size-fits-all weapons system. Optics and carbine should be tailored to your setting and objectives to increase your performance and survivability in situations the user is most likely to encounter in that setting.

John Ellison
Instructor – Marksmanship, CQB
Northern Red

John is a Special Forces Combat Veteran With Service in 3rd Special Forces Group’s Commanders In Extremis Force. Currently, he’s a Marksmsnship and CQB instructor with Northern Red, a Private Military Firm specializing in training elite military and law enforcement units for counter terrorism, hostage rescue and close quarter battle missions.

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they regularly bring us different trainers to offer words of wisdom.

Tags: , , ,

10 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – John Ellison”

  1. Joe says:

    Good write up. As some would say “the advantage is undeniable.”

  2. Geoff says:

    John can sling the info as well as he can the lead.

  3. Darkhorse says:

    These guys have become the industry high water mark-

  4. Ben leidhecker says:


  5. Buckaroomedic says:

    Great article. Concise and easy to read. Thanks!

  6. Sam says:

    Nice article. Well written. No fluff.

    Interesting (to me, and perhaps only to me) that Northern Red calls itself a private military firm. They have expanded from just teaching. Good for them.

  7. Sumdood says:

    Yeah… “…as short as 11.5″ …” Ok.

    I guess we never heard of a Mk18, or we don’t know the barrel length on our carbine… Either way, it sounds like we are selling a gun configuration here. This reads like one if those crappy 90s “Commando” coffee table books, not golden nuggets of operator training.

    • H-dizzle says:

      He says weapon system.. meaning barrel and flash hider/flash suppressor. Which if you’re the pompous genious you come off as, you understand the 1 inch to 1.5 inch FH situation. Additionally, the MK18 has not been in service for years, so get with the times and get your facts straight before you start to call out an Actual SOF veteran

      • Jeff S says:

        To be fair… He also mentions a 16″ rifle and 14.5″ carbine; which would lead a reasonable person to believe he’s referring to barrel length, not overall length. It should also be noted that BCM specifically does not sell a 10.5″ or 10.3″ barreled upper because they believe the 11.5″ is more forgiving when it comes to ammo selection and what not.

        I have no opinion on Sumdood’s post nor am I familiar with Mr. Ellison. I’m just sharing what I know about BCM’s product line (of which I own many items).

      • Ed says:

        Dizzle-, You stated in your reply “the MK18 has not been in service for years..”

        Did you mean to type “has been in service..”, curious so the reply makes sense?