I don’t know what it looks like – that “average” police gunfight that everyone talks about. One of my mentors in law enforcement wrote that of the 11 armed encounters he was involved in, there was never a man with a stop watch and tape measure present.
Here’s what we do know. Things are very violent on the streets right now at a time when law enforcement agencies throughout the country are reducing officers on the street through lay-offs or attrition. Armed violence against law enforcement is higher than 2010 which was an increase from the year before. The ambushing of law enforcement officers and attacks by suspects using rifles is on the increase as well. It is not paranoia to train hard, mentally be in the game and equipped with the best kit available.
Rifles in law enforcement are no longer thought of as anomalies or too “militaristic.” Large agency to small, rural to urban, cops are carrying and deploying carbines. The advantages are many and numerous including – increased ballistic performance, accuracy, round count, intimidation factor and more. The “low bid” process is a terrible way to approach arming and outfitting for very violent encounters on the two-way range of the street. Guns and gear purchased with only the bottom-line as the deciding factor leave officers with firearms and accessories that seldom survive a realistic training program let alone a fight for your life when performance truly matters.
This article is not about a “stamped out” assembly-line mass produced carbine. That’s not to say that the makers of fine mass produced carbines are doing anything wrong. I have several of them myself and as long as they are well made and reliable they can be carried on patrol. This article is about a small upstart company which has looked at the carbine market and found a niche – well designed and high quality carbines which are exceedingly accurate.
Vince Lord of Valor Arms
is a shooter. When this young entrepreneur looked at the AR weapon system he believed that he could improve the design as well as include the best of the lot in terms of reliability and accuracy. Valor Arms is not a mass production shop. His goal is to average about 50 of his rifles each year to begin with and increase up to that point that he can still maintain quality. About 75% of the components that Lord uses are made in his home state of Ohio to his specifications. With calibers including 5.56 NATO and 6.8mm SPC, his OVR-16 carbine is designed to provide a highly accurate but ultra reliable weapon system to law enforcement. OVR-16
The upper and lower receivers are machined of stainless steel to Valor’s specifications with an improved balance designed for the rifle. The forearm is a Valor design and is a free-floating quad rail. The finish is called Valorite™ and is highly durable as well as attractive (functional but looks good). The barrel is match grade and in the 5.56 NATO version I tested has a 1 in 8-inch twist. Vince states that the barrel is a bench-rest quality made from 416-stainless steel. It is 2 ½ times thicker and more rigid that a standard AR barrel.
In addition, the barrel includes a longer and stiffer barrel nut. The trigger is a re-engineered single stage design that breaks at four pounds. The full-size carbine version I tested had an overall length of 31.25” with a 16.125 inch barrel, unloaded the OVR-16 weighs in at 7.9 lbs. On the carbine Vince had installed a Troy Battlesight Rear Di-Optic Aperture (DOA) and an HK style folding front sight from Troy as well. The stock was an ERGO® 8-position
Several members of my agency’s tactical team have purchased the shorter barrel version from Valor Arms for use as entry guns. In addition, my friend, fellow firearms instructor and former Top Shot™ runner-up Chris Cerino from the Chris Cerino Training Group has used Valor Arms carbines as his primary carbine for a couple of years. Chris states, “The Valor upper and lower receivers are great looking and a great fit. They give a custom look and make for an accurate combination with Valor’s quality barrels.”
Shooting the OVR-16
I traveled to KC’s Range in Lawrence Twp., Ohio to do my testing. The owner Dan Clevenger is a recently retired police officer and runs a fine facility with pistol and rifle ranges out to 300 yards. During the entire testing process the OVR-16 lived up to Vince Lord’s claims, it was exceedingly accurate (a better shooter than me) and did not have one feeding, extraction or ejection malfunction. I shot the carbine from 20 feet out to 280 yards. Not just confining my tests to bench-rest accuracy, I shot from standing as well as kneeling and shot on the move both laterally as well as forward and back. Although the full-size version is not a light weight carbine at 7.9 lbs. it was easy to manipulate and shoot. The trigger was one of the best I’ve tested in a carbine for length of pull, trigger weight and clean breaking.
Leupold VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope
I topped the Valor carbine with Leupold’s new patrol rifle scope, the VX-R with the new FireDot™ reticle. This new scope is a more affordable glass for patrol officers. The VX-R is a variable 1.25 X 4 scope which allows the officer to handle problems both near and far (remember not stop watch and tape measure present in armed encounters). Using a Safariland 30mm Scope Mount the VX-R was an easy mount atop the carbine.
The VX-R tested was the SPR (Special Purpose Reticle) model. According to Leupold the SPR “was designed to allow users to successfully engage targets with greater flexibility than generally possible with other reticle styles…preserves the instinctive fire capabilities.” The scope is 9.5 inches long and 11.5 ounces in weight.
Once set for a 100 yard zero the manual the mill-dot reticle allows quick shots at two hundred and extended distances using the lower dots. The manual contains more sophisticated mathematical formulas for ballistics. This is certainly appropriate for a police counter-sniper but not really relevant for the patrol function. The large knobs with ¼ MOA adjustments eased the sighting in process.
Once locked down for a 100 yard zero, it was off to the steel range. To be honest, shooting steel from a bench was too easy. So I turned on the FireDot illuminated reticle to make it more fun. This adjustable dot in the center of the crosshairs incorporates a fiber optic system and turns on with movement of the rifle. The combination of 4X and the FireDot made shooting a breeze even out to 280 yards.
Backing off the magnification to 1.25X, I moved over to the pistol range where I used the VX-R Patrol Scope on a target while stationary at 50 feet and moving from that point inward. Once again the FireDot worked like a traditional red dot scope but with magnification that increased my ability to hit quickly as well as accurately.
The VX-R Patrol Rifle Scope is designed to provide a quality variable glass to law enforcement at an affordable MSRP of $500. It does that and provides the real cool FireDot illuminated reticle as well.
The role of a patrol carbine in the hands of a well-trained officer is to solve problems of the armed variety within the parameters that are forced upon them. That could be from a position of cover on the street on a barricaded gunman in a house 100 yards distant. For urban cops that could be covering a location at the end of an alleyway that same distance away. So too, it could mean entering a school or business in pursuit of an armed and shooting active killer. The OVR-16 from Valor Arms is up to that task and more including a role as a semi-auto tack driving counter-sniper arm.
We respond to the environment and situations we are called to or thrust into. That means having the skills and the equipment with which to take care of business. This is not a time for stamp-out low-bid firearms. At an MSRP of $2,500 fully equipped the OVR-16 is not cheap but what exactly is your life worth? Times are tough, violent suspects are out there. Are you and your rifle up to the task?
Kevin R. Davis is a full-time officer with 29 years experience. Assigned to the Training Bureau he specializes in firearms and tactics instruction. Kevin is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency’s SWAT team. Visit his website at www.advancedtacticalconcepts.com He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org