Monday, August 03, 2015

Gun Plumbing

If you want to see a gunsmith laugh, watch what they do when someone puffs up and informs them that they were an armorer in the Army.

I knew that the armorer situation at the unit level was pretty grim, but apparently it's even worse than I thought.
" It does not help that the standard M12 rack does not accept a rifle with optics*. In the Arms Room, it’s still 1988.

Moreover, the Army’s weapons records are a chaotic mess of rack numbers, serial numbers, weapons cards, hand receipts, pencil sheets, green-and-white property book printouts (that may not put all your unit’s rifles, for example, together on the same pages), and unofficial Excel-spreadsheets and Access databases, which interface more or less (mostly, less) with one another and with the unit’s personnel assignments. This means that every time you cross-level personnel from 2nd platoon to 3rd platoon, if your arms room is nicely organized by platoons, Joe Rifleman is going to get a new rifle and be off zero until next range trip, and so is Bill Bulletician who’s coming from somewhere else… that’s another reason why no Army unit beyond the Ranger battalions and the 82nd Division Ready Battalion actually dares to ship out to combat without a trip to the zero range."
There's a followup post that examines the problem in more detail.

*One of the good points about modern Aimpoints is that the battery life is so good you can store them with the optic turned on and replace batteries biannually or annually merely as a prophylactic. Meanwhile, the Army dismounts M68 CCOs and removes the batteries on racked rifles. It's disheartening to think how much the taxpayers paid to put all those sexy optics on all those weapons only to have y'all Doing It Wrong.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Music time!

While the Navy is flatly denying that the officer who returned fire at the caliphate franchisee in Chatanooga will face any charges, we'll note that the orders that keep our fighting men and women disarmed sitting ducks while at work stateside still stand.

Thus, my friend Staghounds' mad lyrics skills come into their own.
In the navy
You had better not shoot back
In the navy
You'll get your ass in a crack
In the navy
Come on now, people, don't you stand
In the navy, in the navy
You had best not raise a hand!
In the navy
You can protect the mother land
In the navy
But just not your fellow man!
In the navy
Never never make a  stand!
This is just the chorus, go read the whole thing.

This is just unbelievably vapid.

This is wrong on so many levels:
1) The car is still named "General Lee", so apparently there was still a horrible racist war slavery murderdeathkill army, they just didn't have flags.

b) I'll bet the Messerschmitt kit on the shelf above it had a decal sheet with both black and white swastikas, depending on which variant you planned to complete it as.

iii) Isn't it about time for our next round of chiding the Japanese for their historical revisionism regarding the whole Co-Prosperity Sphere era?

Bobbi's been DLSRing...

I gave her a slightly wonky Digital Rebel some time back (the first one I bought had a mirror that wouldn't return fully if you took a picture with the camera pointing down; you'd have to snap another frame holding the camera level or pointing up to get it to return properly.) She'd been using it to take pictures of electronics projects for the most part.

Since I switched over to a Nikon DSLR for work, I basically handed over the Rebel XTi and the EOS 20D and the EF-S lenses*. Last night she pulled the 20D off the shelf for the first time to photograph a denizen of the back yard. I need to show her where the macro lens is and watch her go to town with it.

*I still can use the EF lenses with the couple late Canon film SLRs I have.

Times change, people change...

American Mercenary is generally a pretty thoughtful guy, and reading back through some of his early archives, I stumbled across a post containing these lines...
"Ninjas like to have elegant and refined weapons. These are the guys (and gals) that like to shoot tricked and tuned AR-15's and Glocks. They like manageable recoil from the 5.56 and 9mm cartridges. If a ninja shoots a bolt action rifle, you can bet it's got a heavy barrel and a buttpad. Ninjas find hours of meticulous cleaning a meditative experience.

On the other hand you have Vikings. Warriors so burly that they choose weapons with little ergonomic flair, instead of adapting the weapon to them they adapt themselves to the weapon. They shoot AK's and 1911's. They like weapons that go BANG every time and pack a whallup at both ends. If a Viking shoots a bolt action rifle it'll be a Mauser or Mosin, a full power battle rifle with a steel buttplate. Vikings don't obsess about cleaning, they do it and get it done."
This... let's say it's not something I would expect to run across on AM's page these days. I think it would be interesting to see him revisit the topic. I know I've occasionally gone back and looked at my old stuff with a new eye, and been a bit surprised.

So close...

On Meet the Press this morning, I almost got to see Chuck Todd crackersplain to Ben Carson how he was being black wrong, but Chuck I think caught himself at the last minute, perhaps warned by the half-smile starting to cross Carson's face. I wish it had been a less savvy interviewer; an oblivious prat like Chris Matthews would have walked right into the propeller blades on that one.

Speaking of Chris Matthews, Chuck had Debbie Wasserman Schultz on and watched her squirm while he replayed her interchange with Matthews from the other day:
I used to think there is a big difference. What do you think it is?" Matthews tried again. "A Democrat like Hillary and a socialist like Bernie Sanders."

Wasserman Schultz again was unable to answer and instead tried to tell Matthews what the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is.

"The more important question is what is the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican," she said.

"What's the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?" Matthews again asked.

"You're chairman of the democratic party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist," Matthews reminded her.

"The relevant debate that we'll be having this campaign is what's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican," Schultz said.
After watching the recording of her deer-in-the-headlights performance with Matthews, Chuck asked her the same question, with a smile that indicated that he knew what the answer was going to be...

...and he got it. A flummoxed "Well, I can tell you the relevant question is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican..."

"My God!" I blurted, "She's like a paler Michael Steele with boobs!" Apparently the nation's major political parties have decided that the ideal party chairmen are, like ideal union leaders, genial simpletons who can no more be knocked off message than a tree sloth can be knocked off a fat branch.

Saturday, August 01, 2015


Took the P320 to the range yesterday. Fired 100 rounds total with no malfunctions of any type to report.

Did some chrono testing while I was there...

They're pink so you know that they're like ammunition, but for girls. I was worried that the Critical Defense Lite load would amount to little more than .380 Long Rifle. It uses a light-for-caliber 100gr bullet traveling at a claimed 1125fps from a 4" test barrel. The numbers for a 10-shot string from the actual 4.75" tube on the P320 were close to the box flap claims:
LO: 1110
HI: 1154
AV: 1140
ES: 44.18
SD: 13.67
Like most Hornady ammo I've tried, it's remarkably consistent stuff. I found three of the spent cases in the empty chrono box by my right elbow, indicating that they weren't ejected with a ton of force, and I do have to wonder how much margin of error you have for running the gun with a 100gr bullet at ~1100fps. That's not a whole bunch of recoil energy. I need to get more of this ammo and see how well it runs this duty-size gun with a less-than-perfect one-hand grip.

Remington's selling their "High Terminal Performance" line of JHPs ammo in 50-round boxes with sealant on the primers, which tells me that they want LE agency biz. Let me Google something...

...yup Remington's LE- and Military- specific pages haven't been updated since '11 and '10, respectively, and this stuff appears to be their old line of regular JHPs with new frosting on the packaging. It's hard to say, since their web info is such a soup sandwich. I'd try and compare test velocities to what's claimed on the website, but the website data doesn't seem to include 9mm for some reason.

Anyway, here's what I got:
LO: 1224
HI: 1294
AV: 1254
ES: 69.14
SD: 21.54
After the Critical Defense Lite, it was a reminder of why some folks might want Lite ammo, and had enough muzzle flash that a little of it was visible in the dappled shade on a sunny afternoon. It did run the gun with authority, however. I kinda have to wonder about the bullet's terminal performance, since I haven't seen anything to tell me that this isn't old late-'80s JHP technology with shiny new buzzwords on the box. If you work for Remington and you're reading this, feel free to drop me a line.

The New Hotness: Federal's 147gr HST in +P flavor.
LO: 970.8
HI: 1050
AV: 1010
ES: 79.80
SD: 25.86
As an example of lot-to-lot variations, this was illustrative, since it was actually slower than my last run of standard pressure 147gr HST out of the M&P, which has a half-inch less barrel. Also, that last batch of standard-pressure stuff was some of the most consistent ammo I've tried, while this +P stuff was pretty average in that department.

I finished up the day with 70 rounds of 115gr CCI Blazer, dinging the steel plates at 25 yards, which is a lot of fun with the P320.

This brings the total to 1800 rounds fired with one failure to feed (#978) and three suspect primers (#903, #1323, #1495). The firearm has not been cleaned or lubricated in any way.

Hang on, typing furiously...

Work, work, work...

"Really? I live in Canada. What town?"

Friday, July 31, 2015


"Well, that'll certainly teach Muffy not to get kidnapped by her skeezy dope dealer boyfriend and his buddies."
Over in a great big RTWT sort of post at Mountain Guerrilla, JM wrote:
"More importantly, don’t be deluded into thinking the gun is a magical talisman of protection. Your CCW certification class is NOT a defensive handgun course. Take a practical shooting course with pistols. Here’s the catch though, not all defensive handgun courses are created equal.

It’s cool to take a course that focuses on shooting fast, accurately. In fact, that’s probably the first pistol course you should take. It helps start developing the fundamental skill sets. In the real world though, it’s entirely possible that you’ll end up shooting TOO fast, and TOO accurately.

Too many shooting courses focus any “decision-making” on simple, binary decisions. “Gun or no gun?” is NOT a valid decision-making matrix for shoot-or-no shoot in the real world. It’s more complicated than that. Hell, even “that dude is pointing a gun at me” may not be adequate grounds to drop the hammer.

A solid, practical, real-world shooting course MUST include practical, complex decision-making processes in the course work. You’ve got to learn to SEE and PROCESS information FASTER, so you can shoot SOONER. A sub-one second shot is great…right up until it takes you two seconds to determine that the apparent target is your wife/best friend/father-in-law, coming to help."

Muffy, in the photo above, was a no-shoot* target slightly occluded by the bad guy, in front of and overlapping her. The pair were situated such that you came upon them pretty abruptly on rolling through a doorway, and you can see the result of poor trigger control under surprise. I think only two teams did not put any holes in Muffy, and I'm kinda happy that none of those bullet holes are mine.  I almost tried a body shot on the bad guy by reflex, and only a last-second realization of what that meant made me shoot him in the grape instead.

However, that's just basic marksmanship under pressure, which is not the same as target discrimination and decision-making in the same circumstances.

One early run we went into the shoot house with a briefing that the guy who'd called 911 was in there with his cell phone. A couple of people shot him.

Our most frequent antagonists in these shoot house runs were the hardened terrorists of the Mongolian-Irish Liberation Front. One late-night run had you exit the first room and into a hallway and there, right in front of you, was a guy in a red MILF t-shirt. He got tagged by a couple people, too, despite being unarmed, and despite the briefing mentioning that the MILF leader was in there, probably not packing heat himself, and should be taken into custody if possible.

These were obviously artificial scenarios, structured to induce thinking on your feet, and everybody improved in that respect over the course of the weekend. But...

* I clarified that from "hostage", which is too often used as slang for a no-shoot target placed near a shoot target. I just casually used it that way myself, and it really wasn't correct. In the shoot house we had good guys (yourself and your partner), threats (which you shoot until they stop being threats), and "unknowns", which is everybody else.

Upcoming Gun School Opportunities

Just so I can close more of these open tabs...

*I've said it before and I'll say it again: If my mom told me that she'd decided to carry a gun and was only going to take one gun class ever, I'd send her to MAG-40.

It's a funny ol' world...

I joked about it yesterday, but you really have to wonder what the Venn Diagram  of "Dudes who were saddlin' up to bust caps over the Bundy Ranch thing" and "Dudes with rifles currently being shooed away from their guard posts at recruiting centers" looks like.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

That's a puzzler, and no mistake.


How many lumens?

On the left, some of the lumens. On the right, all of the lumens. Photo courtesy of Pat Rogers/EAG Tactical.
When I got to gun school, I was reminded that EAG Tactical's rules for the pistol shoot house class specified no IWB holsters. Pat probably would have let me run mine, but since I had learned my lesson from June's class and brought the whole range bag, I just did a little bit of swapping around frames and slides to get a more rules-compliant setup...

Since the OWB holster I had was a Raven Phantom for the TLR-1S, I moved the slide from the Tactical Dirt Color gun onto that frame (no backup irons on the DeltaPoint gun yet, and I didn't want to tempt fate). I moved the CTC Lasergrip onto it, too, because I've become a big believer in lasers in the dark. So the gun I used in class was the setup you see in the photo below.

I'm glad I switched.

See, the CTC Lightguard on my day-to-day carry gun is a pretty specialized tool. At ~100 lumens on a fresh CR2 battery, it's not up to much more than illuminating something at which you've already decided you probably need to shoot. And that's fine! It's not for searching dark corners and hunting for bad guys, which are activities I don't plan on doing anyway.

If I'm pulling my gun out and pointing it at something, it's generally because I've already identified it as a threat. Sure, it's possible to dream up scenarios where a light on a CCW handgun, especially one with a grip-activated switch, could be a detriment ("Suppose you're in a store and terrorists cut the power and you want to pull out your gun but not give away your position? And maybe ninjas!") but most of them are so far outside the likely uses of my CCW gun that I have yet to be persuaded that being able to better see my target is a bad thing.

Proper use of a pistol-mounted light is something very few non-cops (and too few LEOs) ever get taught. I certainly don't have much knowledge of it, and what I have is mostly theoretical, gleaned from keeping my ears open when smarter people are talking.

One thing I do know is that for that application, more lumens are generally better lumens. In the picture at the top of this post, that's my gun light on the left: A TLR-1s with less-than-fresh batteries, and so putting out less than its full rated 300 lumen output.You can imagine how swallowed up the LightGuard would have been, with less than a third the output and a generally more diffuse pattern at that.

That pattern part is important. See the light on the right in that top picture? That's the current industry standard, the "U-Boat", a Surefire X300U . With 500 lumens on tap, it has enough light output for a very bright center and a nice corona that helps illuminate the periphery of your vision. The spill from my partner's light was pretty useful to me a few times, since my light didn't give off near as much.

The picture at the top illustrates another point: How long an "indoors" shot can be. That one looks close to twenty yards right there, and if you look around hallways at work, down the aisles at the store, and corridors at your church or other public buildings, you'll quickly come to realize that "Indoors" does not equal "In the same broom closet."

More on this class to come...


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


...other than these two hackers, did anybody else ever buy the full-on Tracking Point rifles?

While the nerd community on social media is absolutely freaking out over the possibility of "hacking sniper rifles", I can't help but think that being able to hack a Tracking Point rifle is like knowing how to hot-wire a Ferrari Enzo: Fascinating at parties, but not a skill you'll get much chance to ever use.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Public Service Announcements...

  • Helpful hints for being a customer of gunsmithing services, as well as tips for being a good provider of gunsmithing services as a small FFL. I've worked in four retail gun shops: Three had a mill and a lathe and at least one guy with a diploma from a real gunsmithing college in the back room, while the first was a pawn shop that had a part time gun plumber who swung through on Mondays and Thursdays to pick up and drop off work. Don't oversell your shop's abilities, and when it comes to turnaround times, underpromise and overdeliver. Weaponsman has a good post and it's worth reading and digesting in its entirety.

  • At last Saturday's bowling pin match, there was one shooter who brought his teenage son and a sprinkling of guys in their late twenties or early thirties, but I'd say that I was comfortably in the bottom half of the age demographic and I'm dangerously close to having to throw away my first AARP mailer. Some of this is that it's not a cheap hobby and requires time, cash, and personal mobility, which are three things that are often not had at the same time in one's early twenties. I remember long stretches where I had plenty of free time, but no money, while my friends who were making the money had no free time. Still, like Kevin and Caleb are always pointing out, the Call of Duty generation is full of easy converts to the shooting sports. Keep recruiting.


I normally keep three tabs in my browser window dedicated to Wikipedia links for educational reading or future blog post fodder. Somehow I currently have four.
Now I can close one.