Modern Urban Rifle Evolution – My Enlightenment Continues ~ VIDEO


Ft Collins, CO –-( “The chicken is just an egg’s way of making another egg.” ~ Richard Dawkins

Modern Urban Rifles

Some years ago, I (with the aid of several prominent gunsmiths) produced a shortened Garand Rifle (“Tanker” style).

I wanted a suitable “car gun” that was short and handy.

The “FDR,” as I called it (for “Farnam Defensive Rifle”) was in 308 (7.62×51) caliber instead of 30-06 (7.62×63), as I calculated the former would be more generally available than the latter.

Caliber change necessitated a “spacer-block” installed in the receiver. Regular “M1 en bloc clips” work fine.

I added a compact forward-mounted 2.5x “scout scope” and a flash suppressor.

Existing iron sights were unusable with the optic installed, but I left them in place, as they can still be used when the optic is removed.

The resultant FDR had no pistol-grip and no detachable magazine, which meant it could be legally owned by my students living in “non-permissive” states, like NJ, NY, CA.

It was short and handy, but not light.

A number of my students bought copies, and they’ve always run fine. Still do.

Farnam Signature M4 Rifle

Farnam Signature M4 Rifle
Farnam FSM4 Signature M4 Rifle

Four years ago, a gunsmith and friend suggested that I set-up an M4 that is exactly suited for domestic defense. He reminded me that I’d been using the AR System for serious purposes, in both a military and police context, since 1967, longer than most.

So, we created the “FSM4″ (for “Farnam Signature M4) and sold several hundred.

The FSM4 is a quality M4 that comes to its new owner with an Aimpoint T1 (or H1, or one of several other Aimpoint variations), co-axial flashlight, BGF Vickers two-point sling, co-witnessed BUIS, LAW folding stock, Geissele trigger, and a number of other enhancements. It is sighted-in at 40m, which is what I recommend for domestic defensive use.

It has a NATO (5.56×45) chamber, per Ned Christiansen specifications

My copy continues to serve me well, and has been my faithful companion on hundreds of road-trips and commercial flights.

FSM4s are currently being made by Vang Comp, but quality M4s are hard to find these days, due to domestic political developments upon which I need not expand.

I typically transport my FSM4 in and out of hotels (stock folded) inside of a tennis-racket case, or a Sneaky-Bag case, garnering scant notice.

Recently, several SROs have approached me with the idea of magnifying optics, instead of a non-magnifying red-dot.

I love Aimpoints and most other red-dot (non-magnifying) optics, because they’re fast, relatively compact, and with generous eye-relief, I don’t have glass in my face! Yet, SROs tell me that for their job they need more downrange detail than an Aimpoint will provide, even at ranges under 100m.

With Aimpoints (and most other red-dots), you can get a “swing-out magnifier,” but it is bulky, precarious, and gets in the way.

As a practical matter, when shooting in a congested environment without magnification, past 100m I can’t tell what I’m shooting at. In many cases, I can’t adequately identify a threat past 75m.

It is truly said (first by Jeff Cooper), magnifying optics don’t let you shoot better. They let you see better!

So, I equipped my wonderful IO (International Ordinance) M4 with a 1×4 Steiner optic (P4Xi) and their excellent low-profile mounting system.

Ned Christiansen performed his magic on it, equipping it with a LAW Folding Stock, 45 degree offset folding BUIS, BFG two-point Vickers Sling, a slim Arisaka E2HT 500 lumen Weaponlight, along with numerous other adjustments and tweakings.

With the Steiner glass I, of course, inherit close eye relief, but the rear lens is so clear and bright (even in low light) that I’ve really learned to like it.

My students and I used it extensively during a DTI Urban Rifle Course last weekend in UT, and it was most satisfactory.

An excellent set-up.

I might call this the “FSM4/SRO Model.”

Urban Rifle Evolution (and my enlightenment) continues!


Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, Ammoland will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matt in Oklahoma

Congrats you joined to rest of us.