AAR: 17 South Sweat N Bullets – Run and Gun 5k Part 1

Note: I ran this event twice, so instead of a giant written piece I’ve split my AAR into two parts. Here’s a link to Part 2 for the second run with iron sights. Here’s a link to the Loadout for a more in-depth look at the gear used.

The 17 South Run and Gun 5k outside Savannah, GA was the inaugural event of hopefully many more to come in the Georgia low country. Tim, Mark, Brian and the rest did a great job running a very smooth RnG with great stages and a good running course. In short, they ran the event like they had been doing it for years. The match was located on the grounds of the 17 South Rod & Gun Club near Richmond Hill, GA. This facility has beautiful shooting ranges, but also a great clubhouse and outdoor area to hang around talking to old friends and making new ones…perhaps the best thing about events like this!

17 South Run n Gun Course Map

This Run and Gun was setup as a charity event, with half of the proceeds going to a local shooter in need, and the other half to the match winner’s charity of choice. After seeing some space on the initial run order, the match director granted my request to pay for a second run to try some different guns. I normally shoot a rifle optimized for the game, but I wanted to see how I’d stack up with a “retro” run of sorts using an M16A2 clone and a Beretta 92FS for my second time through.

Loadout Article here with more specifics on each setup

On match day, the MD’s setup a brief every hour so competitors didn’t have to be there first thing if their run was later in the day. My brief was at 8am for a 9:48 launch, with my second run being at 11:38. The usual safety, acknowledgements and procedures were covered swiftly, and with just a few questions we were off to prepare. Since I had some time, I watched some of the first runners head out before getting kitted up.

The First Run (Scoped .308)

While I was running twice, I wanted my first run to be my “competitive” run with normal gear. I maintain that a properly setup 5.56 carbine is the best rifle to use…but I deviated here and chose to run a .308 to see how it stacked up. I setup a Knights Armament SR-25 carbine very similar to my 5.56 carbine to use for this RnG. With the lower magazine capacity, greater recoil and more work to run it well, I knew I’d have to be on point with my rifle shooting to keep the .308 competitive. Due to the size and weight I only brought three of the 25-rd Magpul PMAGs, with two on my belt and one plus 15 loose rounds in my Hill People Gear chest pouch. This worked out to be good placement without too much weight bouncing around while running.

For reference a loaded 25rd .308 PMAG weighs 1lb 13oz while a 32rd Daniel Defense 5.56 mag weighs 1lb 2oz loaded. Keeping an almost 2-lb weight out of my thigh pocket seemed like a good idea.

Start to Stage 1
Exactly on time, you began the run around the lake in front of the clubhouse. After you worked your way around the lake for about 3/4 of a mile, you took a detour into the water to get wet from the waist down before exiting into Stage 1. The weather for my first run was thankfully overcast, but the temperature was climbing with significant humidity (which would rear it’s ugly head).

Stage 1 had an ingenious prop that had a weight with a rope attached and run through a pulley. Shooters began with 5 push-ups, after which the timer started while you were on your way back to standing up. The pistol is then loaded and 4 plates on the left and right sides had to be engaged with the left and right hands respectively. However the plate also had to be off the ground while shooting or jumping jack penalties were applied for hits with the weight on the ground.

As for my shooting on stage 1, my glasses fogged up significantly about 4 shots into the stage so I burned a lot of ammo missing, even having to reload on the last plate. I wasn’t going to risk a ricochet from the steel targets and not shoot with glasses, so it was to be a battle for the rest of the match. After finally getting through Stage 1 feeling a little uh-oh about the glasses, it was a half mile run to Stage 2.

Stage 1 “Walking The Dog” – 35.71 – 4th place

Stage 2 “Ammo Drop”
At Stage 2 the RO’s gave the brief for this rifle only stage. The shooter began standing behind a 40mm ammo can that had some undetermined amount of weight in it. After running it about 15 yards to it’s drop point, the shooter engaged 3x B/C zone targets with 1 hit each standing, followed by kneeling off of a tank trap/hedgehog and then prone. Once completed the shooter ran back to the start point for another B/C zone target with 3 hits from any position.

Engaging targets standing on Stage 2 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

My run with the .308 went well, firing an extra couple shots standing, then quickly making it through the other positions without missing. At the final position I just stayed standing to make the hits. With the recoil of the .308 it was advantageous to make a good shot, see the hit as the muzzle pushed up and then drive the gun to the next target through the recoil to let it settle on the next target. I shot at 2.5x on my scope, which gave a little greater precision in defining where my aim point was at while still having a wide field-of-view for transitioning between targets quickly.

Stage 2 “Ammo Drop” – 45.07 – 2nd place

Engaging targets prone on Stage 2 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

Stage 3 “Getting Easier”
After completing Stage 2, it was a little less than a quarter of a mile to Stage 3 for pistol and rifle shooting. Competitors first had to crawl through a tunnel of barrels and sticks with Spanish Moss snagging on everything. The stage had shooters load the pistol on the clock, making 5 hits on a torso plate at about 40 yards, then advance about 10 yards to make another 5 hits on the same plate. Once the pistol was done it was re-holstered and the shooter advanced another 10 yards or so to load the rifle for 5 head shots each on two different paper targets. If you missed any of the head shots a 5 jumping jack penalty was incurred. I had my only wait time of about a minute when I got to this stage.

Engaging pistol target at start of Stage 3 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

My run began with taking an extra 3-4 shots at the first distance, then having to fire an extra at the second pistol distance. Despite cleaning my lenses right before the stage I still had issues with fogging and seeing my sights. At the rifle portion I shot at 2.5x on my ATACR with the illumination on, breaking shots as the red blob of the reticle was at the top of the brown blob of the target through my fogged up glasses. I fired an extra 2 shots per head target to account for 1 or two that felt low on my shot break. I didn’t run up to see my hits, instead I stuffed a few loose .308 rounds into the magazine while waiting for the RO to call my targets.

Stage 3 “Getting Easier” – 33.10 – 3rd place

Engaging head shots on Stage 3 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

Stage 4 “Getting Tired”
While Stage 4 was located between 2 and 3, it was tucked behind some berms and wasn’t obvious when running by the first time. Here, the shooter had to flip a tractor trailer tire, then engage a torso plate with the pistol for two hits each from 4 positions through a barricade. Then the tire was flipped again and two hits with the rifle were required on a 75-yardish target using the same barricade.

Engaging Stage 4 Rifle Steel – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

My run with the pistol went 8 for 8, beginning at the top port and working my way down quickly. With the rifle I started at the bottom port and worked up, needing 1 extra shot from the 90-degree angle position. I again shot at 2.5x here, which was a good magnification to find the target easily but have a little more precision to ensure a good hit.

Stage 4 “Getting Tired” – 43.33 – 1st place

Engaging from lowest port on Stage 4 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

As a note if you’ve never shot with the rifle rotated, it’s a good idea to at least try it and see what you point of impact change is…a good hint is to hold on the side of the target that the magazine is also oriented on (IE if the magazine is right, hold right on the target).

Onward to Stage 5 “The Moat”
After Stage 4, the run route took you down the main range road and around the clubhouse, but then back out a trail in the woods for about six-tenths of a mile. Right before you got to Stage 5, there was a canal that needed to be crossed, which sucked your feet in and depending where you stepped went waist to chest deep. After you emerged from the water you were standing at Stage 5.

Shooting rifle targets on Stage 5 – Image from 17 South Run n Gun Facebook Page

Here, shooters began with 3x pistol plates in the woods and 3x knockdown plates before re-holstering. Then the rifle was used to engage 3x mini-poppers at about 100 yards or so, for one hit each with the right and left shoulders. Once the mini-poppers were engaged a further B/C plate was to be engaged with 4x hits.

My pistol run went fairly well with the last knockdown target requiring a few rounds with the fogging. When I went to rifle, I pulled off my glasses as it was a soupy mix to look through, but then engaged the mini-poppers which required a few extra shots to hit, particularly weak shoulder, plus an extra shot on the B/C target.

Stage 5 “The Moat” – 41.70 – 1st place

Bonus Shots
On the run to the finish line there was a bonus pistol target that was engaged without a stage time. Shooters had 5-rounds to earn a minute per run time reduction with each hit. I made 4 out of 5 hits on the 45-yard plate and took off to the end for the final .4 mile stretch. Something to think about here is although it is unlimited time to engage for a bonus, if between the brief, engaging the target and resetting for the run you burn 3-4 minutes, you’ve already lost your bonus time in stopping to shoot. So shoot fast AND get your hits to make it worthwhile. Looking at my Garmin watch data it appeared to take about a minute from stopping to starting again.

At the finish line I verified unloaded pistol and rifle and then sat down to drink some water for a few minutes. It was about 10:25 when I made it across the finish line, with my second run starting off in just over an hour.

Thoughts on 1st Run

Normally my preference is for a 5.56 carbine as I believe it to be the best option with greater capacity, minimal recoil, being very easy to shoot and an overall lighter system weight. However I wanted to give the .308 a try for the fun of it and the experience.

Post-Run Gear Drop

My belief that good execution of stages with minimal extra shots allows someone to do well without needing Gucci gear. Being able to shoot a stage clean (not dropping targets) with minimal extra shots, while doing it with an elevated heart rate, dirty, wet, tired and probably bleeding goes a long way versus shaving a few tenths of a second or two on a couple targets when considering what to bring.

The little bit of practice I was able to get in for the match focused on being able to manage the .308. Dry-fire practice included the manual of arms and getting used to the bigger, heavier rifle and magazines. Live-fire consisted of getting a good zero, then 100-300 yard positional shooting and precise but quick shots at close range. Despite the SilencerCo ASR muzzle brake, optimized gas tuning by KAC and shooting lighter 150-grain ammo the .308 is still a beast. The gun will move around on you, but it can be managed with technique. At the match the stages had a good mix of speed and precision that allowed a .308 to be competitive if someone was accurate and driving the gun hard. I was very happy with my rifle shooting, despite my pistol work leaving some room for improvement.

My overall takeaways to the .308 are:

  • Anyone can shoot a 5.56 carbine well, but a .308 requires concentration and practice to run the gun or it’ll run you.
  • 150gr ammo has less torque than 175gr stuff, so leave the heavies at home unless it’s past 600 yards. Perhaps the best all-around load for a .308 is sending 155gr Hornady ELD-Ms downrange at good speed to keep the trajectory flat with a higher velocity, but having a higher ballistic coefficient for reducing wind deflection versus other 150gr bullets.
  • Having a good zero, knowing your impacts and offsets for different angles and distances provides confidence during a stage.
  • While a light .308 might be similar or a little heavier than a 5.56 gun, the magazines are bigger and ammo is heavier, with fewer rounds, making planning and ammo management more critical. I generally never take loose rounds, but did so to reduce having to take a 4th .308 mag that would be bouncing/jostling around.
  • Real men (and women) shoot .308s!
  • While every RnG event is different, a well setup .308 can be a competitive rifle.

In total, I fired 59 rounds of pistol compared to 37 required. and 56 rifle against 40 required.

My biggest failure was in not having a better plan for fogging glasses. I generally don’t have an issue with my Oakley M-frames, but the humidity and heat were so great that it was an issue. I’ll be investigating some anti-fog sprays to see how they work to hopefully prevent the issue in the future. Instead of staying calm and making hits, I got a little undisciplined and sent more rounds than I should have, burning up time.

Heart Rate & Pace according to my Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. The drops in pace are the shooting stages.

My Scores
Shooting Scores – 2nd Place Overall
Stage 1 “Walking The Dog” – 35.71 – 4th
Stage 2 “Ammo Drop” – 45.07 – 2nd
Stage 3 “Getting Easier” – 33.10 – 3rd
Stage 4 “Getting Tired” – 43.33 – 1st
Stage 5 “The Moat” – 41.70 – 1st
4/5 bonus pistol hits

Run Score – 42 minutes 59.2 seconds adjusted run time – 8th place Overall
Overall Placement – 2nd Place

Click HERE for Part 2 discussing my second run with an M16A2/Beretta 92FS and other thoughts.

Click HERE for link to Practiscore Scores