America is at a crossroads. The Left wishes to destroy traditional American civilization and replace it with their socialist utopia. At this moment, America needs good men, old men as well as young. It hasn’t become a war of bullets yet, but if and when it does, ALL good men will be needed. This article speaks to a rifle build suitable for an older man. An older man has three primary traits that need to be addressed; aging eyesight, aging strength, and aging patience. The rifle best suited for him will meet his needs in those areas. I am close to 50 years old now and the criteria for this rifle started as I considered myself getting older, and so I will use myself as the model for this build. I will include links at the end of the article for relevant material.
Whatever You See… Boomer!
Aging eyes: The biggest challenge I’m facing, and that I think all aging men face, is deteriorating eyesight. I’ve worn glasses my whole life but have recently noticed my eyesight taking a serious hit. The minimum distance that I can focus at is moving farther from my face. I have bifocals now to help with reading things close, but I have a hard time looking through the bottom of my lenses when I use iron sights on a rifle. You too? The only iron sights I can clearly focus on now are rifle-length, and I’m sure in a few years they will be too close as well. So that leads me to conclude that an old-man rifle needs to be optics-only. The Okay Boomer build uses an optic exclusively , with no provision for iron sights at all. I’m not even going to use back up iron sights, for I don’t have back-up young eyeballs to go with them. Because the rifle is going to be optics-only, the build does not need a standard front sight base. In fact, it’s useless, so I got rid of it. Without an A-frame front sight base, I am free to mount the optic a bit lower than normal if I want to since the field of view is uncluttered. The next question becomes which optic to use.
The optic selected and the mount for it must primarily be rugged, for if it fails the rifle will have no sighting system. Don’t use a cheap Wal-mart or airsoft grade optic. Choose something mid or high level, with a good and long reputation. In addition to ruggedness, the optic needs to collect more light to the eye than naked vision, magnify the image, and have an adjustable diopter. The three primary types of optics that I considered for this build are a red-dot, a low-powered variable optic (LPVO), and a fixed power prism. In the end, I chose an LPVO for the Okay Boomer build. The high-end of those three optic options are the Aimpoint, the AccuPoint, and the ACOG respectively. All of them are extremely robust and will be reliable options. But having recently tested my Aimpoint red dot and compact ACOG for a previous article, I decided against them for this build.
The red dot type of optic is very easy to use, but it does not gather any additional light to the eye compared to normal vision, and it does not offer any magnification, even slight magnification. It offers no visual help except to provide a clearly seen aiming point (maybe that’s why the company is called Aimpoint). Since vision is an issue, the red-dot is not much help. I need a lens-type optic that gathers more light into my eye than naked vision and that offers some kind of magnification to help me clearly see the target. Even if I’m not shooting, the ability to resolve the target and see it brightly is crucial. In addition, people with astigmatism see red dots as a blurry blob. I have astigmatism. So the red dot optic is out; it’s a young man’s optic.
So the red dot has problems, and the lens and prism design of the ACOG overcomes most of these shortcomings. The lenses funnel additional light to the eye making the image brighter, magnification can be had in 1.5x, 2x, 3x, and 4x making image resolution better, and the reticle is much easier to see in focus for those with astigmatism. But ACOGs lack user-adjustable illumination like a red dot, which can be problematic when shooting from a dim environment into a bright one, and the magnification is fixed. My 1.5x mini-ACOG was better than the Aimpoint red dot, but I decided against it as well.
The optic I settled on is the low powered variable traditional rifle scope. It is the happy, middle ground between the red dot and the ACOG. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best in this application, and one often overlooked thing that makes it the best is the user-adjustable diopter. An adjustable diopter allows the user to adjust the focus of the reticle to the user’s own eye, usually by turning a ring found on the eyepiece of the scope, like what is found on a good pair of binoculars. I didn’t know how much I needed an adjustable diopter until this past year, but once I discovered it, holy smokes- does it help! With the reticle focused for my eye and prescription lenses, I can relax my vision rather than having to strain to focus on the target and reticle. You want an optic with an adjustable diopter for your old-man rifle, especially for astigmatism. The ACOG is much better than the red dot for astigmatisms, but the ACOG does not have an adjustable diopter. A LPVO also provides some magnification and is user-adjustable, usually from 1-4x. The LPVO can be used at 1x like a red dot, and then switched over to 4x for a longer shot or to look at something in more detail. Most LPVOs have user-adjustable illumination for shooting in dim or dark environments. But they’re not perfect. The liabilities of LPVOs are usually size, weight, and durability compared to the Aimpoint and ACOG. Those are true concerns for this build, so choose wisely.
I don’t have an AccuPoint, which would probably be the king of LPVO, but I do have an older Weaver 1-3×20, a Primary Arms 1-6×24 , and a Burris 2.5-10×32, three mid-level optics that have a long and good reputation. The PA and the Burris scopes both are newer designs and have a 30mm tube and a bullet drop reticle, but the optic I settled on is the old Weaver 1-3x. Its 1” tube makes it much smaller and lighter compared to the other two, and the Japanese glass is excellent. Plus, the reticle is stupid simple, just a standard duplex crosshair. This was the “original” LPVO that was all the rage on the 3-gun circuit many years ago, and it functioned well in that role. The only real feature that the Weaver 1-3x is lacking is illumination. Other alternatives are the newly released Primary Arms GLx 2x prism scope (which I reviewed in another article) which is similar to an ACOG with illumination, an adjustable diopter, and outstanding clarity and field of view, and the Leupold VX-Freedom line of 1.5-4×20 scopes. But the basic Weaver 1-3x with a duplex crosshair reticle will be just fine. Sadly, this optic appears to be recently discontinued. It would do the shooting community a great service if Weaver, or Primary Arms, or somebody, picked this 1” diameter tube Japanese 1-3×20 scope back up and added red illumination to it. It fits the small, lightweight, and simple LPVO category like no other. Newer LPVOs have all gotten bigger, heavier, and more complicated. Which brings me to my second consideration.
Aging Strength. Proverbs 20:29 says the glory of young men is their strength, and the glory of old men is their gray hair. Maybe that’s because you can only glory in what you’ve got. I’ve been semi-athletic most of my life, and so long as I exercised somewhat regularly, I was moderately strong. But during this (damned foolish) quarantine, I could almost feel myself getting weaker. Once men hit a certain age, if we don’t use the muscle we have, we lose it. Instead of hitting the weights to gain strength, we have to hit the weights just to keep what we have. So the second criterion is that the Okay Boomer carbine must be lightweight. The AR-15 excels at this feature since it was originally designed to be an extremely lightweight rifle… but over time, mission creep has crept in and so now we have heavy barrels, the even-worse government profile barrel, a myriad of accessories, heavy optics, and modular err-ray-thang that add weight to the rifle. The pendulum certainly swings the other way with a host of companies making lightweight barrels, bolt carrier groups, optic mounts, and so forth to make the ultimate lightweight rifle, so you can go to either extreme.
I decided that this build was going to be reasonably light without getting silly or obsessive about weight, and I would be happy if I got the rifle in under 7 pounds total. I accomplished that task by using a Faxon 16” mid-length pencil barrel, polymer furniture, the lightweight Weaver 1-3x scope and Aero Precision mount, and 20 round magazines. The barrel and the optic are the two biggest weight concerns. The Faxon pencil barrel is the heart of the build and it is actually smaller in diameter than an old Bushmaster “superlight” carbine barrel. Faxon seems to have the stress-relieving process-perfected that allows the thin barrel to maintain its accuracy even when hot. As for the optic, the Weaver 1-3x scope with the mount only weighs 11 oz compared to the PA 1-6x which weighs 21.5oz. My unloaded old-man rifle, with an optic, weighs in at six and a half pounds. That won’t quickly make me weary. And I like that this rifle doesn’t have much crap attached to it, which brings me to my last point.
Aging patience. Let’s be honest. The phrase “grumpy old men” is a stereotype because it’s generally true. I find that my irritation threshold is getting lower and lower every year. I increasingly identify with a statement like “I’m too old for this”. I’m not a fan of new things, especially if they are complicated and don’t give me any advantage over the old things. I like old things, and in becoming old, so that means I need a rifle that is familiar and as simple as it can be. The Okay Boomer carbine needs to be as basic and simple as possible. Adjustable carbine stocks have become common, but they often don’t fit securely and instant adjustability means somewhat complicated. For this rifle, I used a Magpul Fixed carbine stock, which has the simplicity and stability of an A1 or A2 stock (no wobble or rattle of a telestock, and no lever to adjust), yet it IS somewhat adjustable to the user’s preference. The included spacer lets you choose either a short or a long option. The optic as discussed earlier has a simple, familiar duplex crosshair reticle, which is fine for general work out to 400 yards or so, and the only adjustable feature is the zoom ring. The Aero scope mount is not quick-detach nor complicated but securely mounts with three snag-free cross bolts. The handguards are basic A2-style plastic, no free-float rail for gadgets, and gizmos. The sling can be mounted by re-appropriating a gas block set-screw hole with a 10-32 swivel stud, or a KNS handguard adapter stud will work. The only thing missing perhaps is a white light mount, and switching to Magpul MOE handguards will give easy mounting points for a light.
So how does it perform? After assembly, I compared the balance to several other rifles and it feels most similar to my Bushmaster A2 “superlight” pencil barrel carbine, which is really light and handy. I took it to the range and zeroed it at 50 yards, then took it to a 3-gun match and ran it hard. It performed fine on all the close action targets with the scope on 1x, and then at the 200 yard line I could easily hit steel torso plates and an 8-inch round plate with the scope on 3x. As expected, the other guys using red dots had a hard time at the 200-yard line; they could not clearly see the dull 8-inch plate against the backstop, and you can’t easily hit what you can’t easily see. The old-man rifle combination worked very well.
A simple, lightweight, optics only rifle is a good idea for more than just an aging man. And there are many ways this concept can be produced, my result is only one of them. Be creative, and think of whom might need one. Father’s day just passed, and one of the Commandments is to honor your father. If you don’t need an old man rifle yet, does he need one? Perhaps your father, grandfather, uncle, or family friend could really use a rifle built with his needs and preferences in mind. An Okay Boomer carbine with five 20-round mags, a mag carrier, and a cleaning kit would make a great gift and would honor an old man, especially if you seriously thought about his needs and preferences when building it and then took him to the range. Even if you don’t need one yet, the time to act on it is now. There is no guarantee that the opportunity to acquire an Okay, Boomer rifle will be there when you finally need it. But what we can be certain about is that America needs good men, including the old and getting-old.
Editor: If you have no idea what’s going on with the “Okay Boomer” headings… click here. Please refrain from hurting yourself or others after viewing.