Saturday, August 23, 2014

"Fit and Finish"

Flawless Fit and Finish
 Elsewhere on the intertubes, some AR-lovin' California tactical dressup guy was going on and on about the "Fit and Finish" of a new brand of top shelf AR, using the analogy of a custom Wilson 1911 versus a generic Springfield Armory 1911 when other people dared ask how it differed from, say, a BCM or DD or whatever.

Just to copypasta my FB rantings because I hate wasting the keystrokes:
That thread is making me sad. All the gawping about "fit and finish" and comparing custom ARs to custom 1911s from that ██████ dude. Look... a custom 1911 takes a bunch of time with hand tools and power tools because it starts with oversize steel components that are fitted to each other, not to mention any external cosmetic work, such as blending the back of the slide or doing funky treatments on the front of the slide or frontstrap texture work. Not counting the metal finishing, a really good 1911 'smith is lucky if he can do a gun a day, and that's starting with a bunch of relatively pre-fit stuff.

By comparison, talking about the "fit and finish" on an AR... ANY AR like talking about the "fit and finish" on some kid's Lego Millennium Falcon model. The value of an AR is determined SOLELY by the value of the prefabricated parts, which can be assembled by a chimp (seriously, staking is not that hard) and how much someone is willing to pay for the roll mark on the magwell. There is practically NO labor cost in an AR.

And that post from █████ is the most hilarious bit of douchery I've ever seen. Don't hand-wave at me about what goes into building an AR, █████. It's not like it's some kind of secret formula.

I love how it's all "MILSPEC" and "TDP" until it comes time to defend some fawning idiocy from that ██████ dude. 
I've never timed it, but it wouldn't shock me if it took more time to do a decent stippling job on a Glock frame than to assemble a quality, reliable, sub-MOA AR from a pile of parts. Almost certainly if you're doing a grip reduction on the Glock.

With most "custom" ARs from small builders (if they're open enough to provide a parts list) you can sit down with you Brownells or BCM catalog and decide if you're willing to spend the difference to let them put it together for you*. In the case of some of the bigger assemblers, it might be a good deal, since they get a price break on barrels and BCGs for buying them by the case lot, as it were.

*I almost always am with uppers, because I can't be arsed to put the thing together myself, so it's either buy it preassembled or carry a box of parts down to Tennessee on one of my quarterly pilgrimages.


I was on the radio yesterday. It was harrowing for my introverted self, because it combined two things on which I'm borderline phobic: Talking on the Telephone, and Talking to a Bunch of People.

I think it's somewhere around the 1:20 mark.

Buried under the idiocy...

...this guy has a point.

"Militarization of the police" arguments from Team 2A need to be carefully crafted, and not just "zomg look they have AR-15s!" because to an outsider, it looks more than a little crazy to be talking about how normal and wholesome your "Modern Sporting Rifles" are one minute and then flipping out about the cops having them the next.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summertime in SoBro, 2014 Edition...

Went to an interesting local used car lot yesterday with roomie, mostly to kick tires. The cars displayed out on either corner of the front row were a Porsche 928 S4 and a '79 MGB...

They had a pretty interesting selection for a medium-sized "tote the note" lot. The 'Vette in the foreground was clean, even if it did come from the Dead Ball Era of automotive performance.

1990 Ferrari 348 ts, from about the time that they started being real cars. Before this? Well...

If you haven't been in one of the Italian exotics from the Seventies or Eighties... Have you ever seen some of the props from a SciFi movie or TV show up close? You know how you were like "Wow, this isn't the battle steel bridge of a space warship! This is all sheet styrene and crappy off-the-shelf LED indicators from Radio Shack! It's flimsy!"? Well, that's what the interior of a Maserati Bora or Magnum P.I.'s 308 was like. Flimsy trim that fell off if you looked at it funny and switchgear outsourced from some third-rate manufacturer that didn't work or came off in your hand; people would have revolted if their Pinto or Cavalier had been that much of a slapdash, kit car, school play production inside, but... Maserrghini! It's the price you paid for the ride.

1958 Ford Thunderbird. From the Baroque period of Detroit auto design. Interestingly, of the two designs competing to be the new T-bird, the losing one was eventually stretched by a back seat and a set of suicide doors and became the understated, immortal 1961 Lincoln Continental.

The T-bird above is some odd sort of restomod, with a lot of the chrome emblems blacked out and the interior done up in the same yellow-and-black motif.

After walking the car lot, we were a little hungry and ready for some A/C, so...

...we went to 317 Burger. I had the "None the Wiser" burger, which is topped with Swiss cheese, pineapple, bacon, jalapenos, and BBQ sauce, and washed it down with a pint of Bier's Weizengoot. Bobbi ordered a custom "build your own" burger and iced tea.

On the way home, I stopped to get beer and saw that the store had Zombie Dust! There was a one six-pack per customer limit, and while I was standing in line, people holding smart phones in hand suddenly started streaming through the door and collecting their one six pack. By the time I walked out the front door, they were out. Sure enough, it was a Zombie Dust flash mob. Follow the Twitter hashtags to buy the stuff, I guess...

Up near where 61st crosses the Monon, I asked Bobbi to swerve into the parking lot so I could get a pic of this awesome Mad Max Honda CB650-based rat bob.

Automotif XLVIII...

Walmart is the great American cultural leveler, as this slammin' Jaguar XJR parked two spaces over from us attests...

Bad Ideas

A guy elsewhere was asking about the effectiveness of beanbag or baton rounds out of a shotgun. He was asking because he was thinking about using them for home defense. You know, a couple rounds of less-lethal in the magazine ahead of the warshots, so that maybe he could encourage the bad guy to leave without actually having to shoot them for real. I commented:
I don't think it's a good idea to point a 12 gauge shotgun at someone you don't want to kill or seriously injure. There's a reason that police department ones used for less-lethal munitions have orange furniture and aren't used for anything but less-lethal munitions. 
It's called "less-lethal" these days rather than "less-than-lethal" for a reason, you know. It's eminently possible to kill or maim someone at close range with an unlucky shot, even with "less-lethal" ammunition. And if you do kill or maim somebody with it, the very fact that you used a beanbag or baton round is prima facie evidence that you didn't think the guy was enough of a threat to shoot him with real bullets. This will not look good to a jury.

Like the old "Just shoot 'em in the leg!" thing, this is another example of the fool notion that it's somehow okay to shoot people just a little bit.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Round number one thousand three hundred and ninety two...

A day at the range. Gen 3 Glock 19 w/CTC Lightguard.
So, I started keeping track of the round count on my Glock 19 in January of last year, partly because I wanted to do that "2,000 round" thing with it out of curiosity more than anything else, and partly to help field test a part.

1400 rounds so far, and it's not been eating just the good stuff.
The round count accumulated slowly, partly because the Glock isn't my carry gun and partly because I started the affair right as the worst ammo drought in my adult lifetime hit the retail shelves. Yesterday I crossed the 1400-round mark on the gun, basically doing it fifty rounds at a time, when I remembered to bring it to the range or squeeze it in to whatever else I was doing there.

Yesterday was fifty rounds of that Sumbro 124gr FMJ, and on the second round of the last magazine, the recoil felt funny. It was too loud to be a squib and I was sure I'd heard steel get hit, so I risked my fingers and tried the trigger again, to be rewarded with a "click" instead of a "BANG!".

There was an empty case still in the chamber and when I locked the slide back and checked the bore, there were unburned powder flakes in there. I don't know if it was just contaminated or what, but apparently it fired with enough force to launch the bullet downrange, but not enough to fully cycle the slide, rechambering the empty brass.

Not counting that against the gun, then.

I'll be hesitant to use this stuff for anything other than fairly sedate slow-fire at the range for a while.


Overheard in the Office...

Me: "Huh. There's a browser extension that replaces the word 'literally' with 'figuratively'."

RX: "I literally love that."

Then we got in an argument about whether or not periods should ever be put outside quotation marks. (She's American, but I'm right.) It's hard to find people who are actually passionate enough about this stuff to hold strong opinions on the topic.

"Whose side are you on? Ours? Or ISIS's?"

The ratings, baby.

I wouldn't tell a CNN or NBC reporter his own debit card PIN for fear he'd leak it just to get the scoop.

(I'm letting Foggy Bottom off the hook in this post because everybody with a room-temperature IQ knows they've been a branch office of the Lubyanka since the 1940s.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Automotif XLVII...

Seen in the Fresh Market parking lot yesterday:

Super-tight Benz 450SL

Yellow calipers, cross-drilled rotors, and AMG wheels

Canary yellow

Immaculate interior

You must be this nerdy to enter.

So, as I was heading toward GenCon last weekend, I reflected on the fact that I hadn't set foot in a Con since... what year did Cool World come out? ...since I helped work the computer gaming broom closet at Dragon*Con in '92, helping folks run Wing Commander and Aces of the Pacific on a couple dozen 386s.

Anyhow, I was a little unprepared for the size and scope of the convention, as well. I mean, I didn't get to see Larry or Mike while I was there, but with 50,000 attendees, that's like going to Elkhart, Indiana and saying you didn't bump into Fred or Joe.

I was amazed at the makeup of the crowd, too. Playing wargames back in the day, I was never very surprised if I wound up the only chick in a room full of people that looked like a casting call for Revenge of the Nerds V: The Undiscovered Country. Now? Endomorphic cracker neckbeards are still probably the largest single demographic, but it was a bare plurality; there were all shapes, sizes, and colors of nerd on hand. And why not? It's an easy club to join: All you gotta be is a nerd who likes to play games, and let's grab some d20s and throw down, friend. Hell, Curt Schilling's a gamer, and he's a known jock*.

As we were walking back to the car, Shootin' Buddy commented at how much more like a Benetton ad the exhibit floor looked like than the gaming stores of our youth, and we agreed this was a cool thing.

Apparently we were at a different GenCon than the one attended by the Tor columnist who received a brutal and well-deserved fisking from Larry, because the convention he attended was some horrible throwback to the Raj, where mustachioed white male villains were being waited on hand and foot by cringing dusky-hued servants.

I'd hate to live inside that dude's head; it's a messed up place.

*Anybody who holds onto the silly jock/nerd stereotypes past high school is doing themselves a disservice, BTW. Smash your cliques; like what you want; befriend who you want.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Speak softly and carry a 3-wood."

Savages gonna savage.

The Good Ol' Days

There's an odd ahistoricity to some of the "militarization of the police" discussion kicked off by the Ferguson rioting. Joel, one of my wookie-suited moral compass needles, has pointed out to the people suddenly noticing that the po-po had scary guns that
Cops have been gunning up very publicly since the seventies...
Which is true enough, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough back.

In the Twenties, cops had better guns than the military. Submachineguns and self-loading rifles were widespread in law enforcement before they ever were in the Army. People need to stop getting their history from Andy Griffith reruns. Frank Hamer didn't gun Bonnie and Clyde down from ambush with a flintlock musket, you know.

In the Sixties, they’d have already turned the dogs and water cannons on the Ferguson protestors. In the Twenties, Andy and Barney would have broken the old Potato-Digger out of the armory and started mowing them down. The po-po used to be pretty quick to go weapons-free on unruly crowds, especially if such crowds were made up of black folk or commies.

Delaware Statie in the '60s.
Realistically speaking, the rate of police violence (like all violence) is probably at a low ebb, but in this age of social media, ubiquitous cameras, and the 24-hour news cycle, you get to hear about every bit of it. (And of course the media is 100% infallible when they report on police brutality, the way they are with gun-related stuff. We mock the "shoulder thing that goes up" utterances and then Gell-Mann our way across the page to nod in sage agreement at reported use-of-force abuses.)

Sure, in the old days, Officer Flatfoot walked a beat and said "Hi!" to the kids and helped people carry their groceries in. He also "tuned up" the occasional vagrant with some brass knuckles for giving him lip or helped a black guy ensure that the sun didn't set on his back in Pleasantville, and everybody just shrugged and went on, because that's how things were.

Let's everybody be thankful that, so far, Ferguson 2014 hasn't turned into either Los Angeles 1992 or Tulsa 1921.

The MIM meme continued...

When Og talks about MIM and manufacturing and machining and such, you should listen. He very likely helped make the stuff that made your stuff.

Pockets must have been sturdier...

Nearly a hundred years separate the two pistols above. The Pieper Bayard 1908 was, for many years, the smallest .380 self-loading pistol ever made. The derringer-sized auto held 4+1 rounds of .380ACP and fit in the palm of your hand, or a vest pocket...

...but it would need to be a sturdy vest pocket, because the Bayard is a little brick of a gun. Based, to an extent, on John Browning's original 1899/1900 pocket pistol design, the recoil spring is above the barrel, and it and the slide's mass are the only things resisting the rearward force of the cartridge in this straight-blowback design. By contrast, the BG380 is a locked-breech short recoil pistol, and its slide can be lighter since it and the barrel are locked together for the first few millimeters of travel.

The Bayard is 15.8 ounces empty and 17.6 ounces with five rounds aboard, compared to 12.4 and 14.7 for the Smith (and the Smith holds 7 rounds; almost half again the capacity, if you want to look at it that way.)

The Smith is much easier to shoot well, with the Bayard having a fairly wretched single action trigger, unlike the Smith's heavy-but-smooth DA pull. The Bayard also has, like almost all pistols of its vintage, only the most notional of sights. Still, if you dropped one in a sock, you could really mess someone up with it, I suppose.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Automotif XLVI...

Seen at lunch today:
1958 Chevrolet Corvette

'58 Vette, with Porsche 944 Turbo and Lotus Eclat in the background.

1972 MG Midget

Bentley Continental GTC

Morlocks and Eloi

My first thought was "How do you reach adulthood without knowing what foam earplugs look like? Have you never been on a shop floor and seen the dispensers? Or rode in a military aircraft? Or been on a shooting range?"

No. No, they haven't. Same planet, different worlds. Speciation is well underway.

Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle.

In the picture above, you can see the polymer Picatinny rail on the underside of the KSG's foreend, to which the Magpul vertical foregrip is attached.

Yesterday, Unc linked to a report of a KSG user who had been running a ProMag VFG on a Kel-Tec KSG and managed to blow part of his hand off when the grip's attachment to the rail failed. Apparently on the forward stroke his hand continued on out past the muzzle, probably still clutching the busted grip, while his trigger finger said "F&#$, I Got My Orders" and went ahead and pressed down with predictably gory results.

As noted over at The Firearm Blog's post on the incident, the ProMag grip in question does not use a crossbolt to secure itself to the rail, but a little plastic nubbin that is conspicuously lacking in confidence-inspiring qualities. While not at the Tapco level, ProMag stuff does tend to be pretty chintzy, and this is an extreme example of what can happen when you cut corners on things like this.

On an AR, this grip failing would have been a little "Ha ha!" moment. On the stubby pump shotgun, it had permanently life-altering effects. But, hey, the ProMag unit is half the price of a Magpul MOE VFG and a full fifty bucks cheaper than a Troy modular VFG!

I hate cargo cult crap.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Paging Og...

Can anybody decode the dimples on the underside of the BG380 slide? Paging Neanderpundit...

I've got the laser, now all I need is the shark.

Both my 432PD and the Bodyguard 380 have lasers. The latter sports an integral laser made by Insight (new ones are by CTC) and the former has a set of CTC Lasergrips.

My feelings about the two lasers couldn't be farther apart.

I think the J-frame lasergrips are handier than a pocket on a shirt. I wouldn't carry a J-frame without them anymore, given the choice, and that set right there is on its second gun, having first been installed on a 442 a dozen years ago. They're fantastic dry-fire aids on the snubby revolver, and for a gun that may be fired from an awkward position in a hurry and under less than ideal lighting conditions, they're a boon.

Meanwhile, the laser on the BG380 is next to useless for me.

The difference? The CTC Lasergrips on the J-frame are grip-activated. There's nothing you need to remember to push or nudge or whatever; grab the gun and the laser switches on.

Meanwhile, on the BG380, the activation switch is a lightly countersunk rubber nubbin in front of the trigger guard that takes a deliberate press with your trigger finger to turn on. It might as well be in Albania for all the odds that I'll remember to hit it in a hurry.

Building the frames with a built-in laser using a button on the front- or backstrap would probably add too much cost to the little guns. There's a no-laser variant available now, and if it had been around when I bought mine, it's what I'd have gone for.

Silver King tractors...

1939 Silver King
1939 Silver King. I think an R-38?

Closeup of the sign in front of the little Silver King.

silver king tractors
Nicely restored 1948 Silver King on the right, unrestored original finish on the left.
silver king tractor steering wheel
View of the unrestored tractor's dash.

"Weight, weight, don't tell me..."

Out of curiosity, I threw them both on the postal scale:
  • 6-shot 432PD revolver: 14.0 oz. empty, 16.0 oz. loaded
  • 7-shot BG380 pistol: 12.4 oz. empty, 14.7 oz. loaded