Saturday, December 31, 2005

Boomsticks: The Ghosts of Evil Black Rifles Past...

It's true. I have fallen out of love with Evil Black Rifles.

Don't get me wrong; Project Housegun does yeoman duty at the job once filled by a Remington 870, and my 9mm AR, while justified on the roster as an indoor-range-capable trainer, is an amazingly fun plinker, but I just don't collect accumulate Scary Black Long Guns the way I used to. I've traded them all off or sold them in order to fund more purchases of derelict Mausers in odd calibers.

That phase did allow me to get some hands-on time with some interesting guns that didn't make the "tools" cut, however:

There was, for instance, the Beretta AR-70. To your rabid He-Man AR Haters, this gas-piston poodle-shooter would seem to be ideal. After prolonged exposure, though, I grew disenchanted with the mediocre ergonomics, flimsy stamped receiver, and magazines priced like imported sin. It got turned into a stainless Delta Elite with a ton of extras and a stack of hundred dollar bills.

Beretta AR-70. Photo by Oleg Volk.

There was also my all-alloy .223 FAL, built on a Williams Arms receiver. While undoubtedly handy and light, it was a pain to get set up for reliable running, and even then the "almost as handy as an AR's" controls and the knowledge that the receiver would eventually get beaten to death made it, in the long run, disposable. It's gone, and now I have a one-of-200 3" 625 in .45 Colt to replace it, plus the associated stack of C-notes.

These, and others like them, such as my Daewoo and a .223 AK, are gone, while my ARs linger on. The end result? For all its alleged flaws, I've found the oft-derided plastic poodleshooter to be a handy, reliable, and versatile rifle, while other guns came and went.

I still don't like my ARs, but I can't argue with what works...

Blog Stuff: New discoveries...

A couple-few finds via SiteMeter:

Prince Wally's World

The Ten Ring


Fore Left!

If they're not already in your heavy rotation list, go check 'em out.

Books: Gun Pr0n for your coffee table.

A friend gave me a copy of Steel Canvas: The Art of American Arms, by R.L. Wilson, and I haven't stopped drooling since. Page after page after glossy, full-color page of engraved, inlayed, and ivoried pistols, long guns, swords, and Bowies. More beautifully-figured wood than you can imagine. A whole herd's worth of carved ivory. Enough gold inlay to unbalance the market. When I say "Gun Pr0n", here, I am not kidding. With a capital "P", no less.

I highly recommend it.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Blog Stuff: "...and some blogs just suck."

SayUncle has some reasons as to why he doesn't read every single blog on the planet.

To ensure that he reads this post, behold: A gun.

Best of...: Chrinukwaanvusdan Swag '05

Towards the latter end of December, I celebrate the High Holy Day of my religion: Capitalism. On this day, we Capitalists try to give friends gifts that, either in their fiscal grandiosity or their perfect Target Marketing, make the recipient squeal with glee. In return, we often get cool swag. In no particular order follows some stuff that made me squeal:

5: A gunslinger's belt.

A Milt Sparks belt: In double layer black leather with a silver buckle, this subtly-contoured belt is just perfect for toting a heavy 1911 in an IWB holster.

4: Happy Tam In A Bag.

A thoughtful friend provided a quart bottle of St. Theresa's Cold Mountain Winter Ale and a bar of hand-imported Sarotti Marzipan, handily stuffed in a paper sack. Add a book, and you have one happy Tam for a night. :)

3: A chunk of Victory.

Another dear friend bestowed an authentic 1"x1"x1" chunk of teak from HMS Victory's orlop deck on me. For a compulsive closet museum curator like myself, this is a gift beyond price. It now sits in a plexiglas container next to my authentic Roman pilum head. Speaking of pila...

2: A gynormous toadsticker.

The same friend ordered the hardware for a pilum, and then sat down to whittle and fashion the weapon herself. Tres cool. Now all I need is a Gaul at which to chuck it...

1: The expensive part of a pistol.

Another really cool Chrinukwaanvusdan gift was a bare 1911 frame that a friend purchased from my employer to gift me. Such a noble gift deserves a noble build: When it's done, it'll be a 5" gun in 9x25 Dillon, with a Caspian damascus slide. Yum.

...and much more, but I seem to have painted myself into a corner with my "top 5" format...

Blog Stuff: Martha Stewart doesn't have this problem...

Laundry day. Still have to make a guest appearance at the shop. Moving at eleventy jillion miles an hour. Can't find my warm Patagonia capilene legging-thingies. Jeebus, it's cold in here! I yank the dresser drawer open a little too vigorously and... *crash!*

It looks like I'll be needing to re-sight in my little Browning .22 rifle. I hope the scope's okay.

Hmm! With this drawer out of the dresser, I now know where all my old Mac floppies went. Maybe I can play with the Color Classic tonight. Doubtful, though, as now I'm totally obsessed with the vanished clothing. I imagine it'll be Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Long Johns around here all night.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Best of...: Historical fiction reads of 2005

As a history buff and a voracious reader, it's only natural that I devour way too much historical fiction. Here are my five most enjoyable reads of the past twelve months:

5: The Ten Thousand, by Michael Curtis Ford.

A modern English re-telling of Xenophon's Anabasis (or "March Upcountry".) A thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat pop-novelized, interpretation of the 5th Century BC Blackhawk Down.

4: Wolves of the Dawn, by William Sarabande.

A coming-of-age tale set in Britain at the dawn of the Bronze Age. This is a period in history that has always fascinated me; what was Europe like in the days when the Pyramids were still young and Stonehenge was already old?

3: The Corridors of Time, by Poul Anderson.

Nominally a Science Fiction writer, Poul has always been more at home in the past than in the future. This book takes place largely in the same setting as the one immediately above, and combines a good yarn with painstaking attention to historical detail.

2: The Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, by Lindsey Davis.

Sam Spade in a toga. Moonlighting set in Flavian Rome. Engaging characters, excruciatingly correct history, hilarious wit, and the best romantic sparring since Dave and Maddie ran a detective agency on prime-time TV.

1. Rhinegold, by Stephen Grundy.

The Nibelungenlied / Volsunga Saga in English. If you don't like this stuff, it's bleak and depressing. If you do, it's absofrickinglutely magnificently done.

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 16

Behold, the Special Introductory Revolver...

It's a Smith & Wesson Model 31-1, circa 1971, in .32 S&W Long. With its mild cartridge, easy-to-hold small frame, 4-inch barrel, Barney Fife appearance, and innocuous "Regulation Police" moniker, I've used it to introduce a good half-dozen people to the joys of handgun shooting.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly politically correct, new (read: Non-Traditional) shooters are how we are going to keep guns around for the next generation. Whether your interest lies in sport shooting, collecting, or keeping the King of England out of your face, it's important to recognize that we already pwn the Middle-Age White Dude market. If we, the ballistically-enlightened, wish to grow as a demographic in the future, we need to actively cultivate people outside the traditional hunting grounds. We have Bubba: We need Bubbette, Bubbalito, and Bubba: The Next Generation. It's important to have a fun, non-threatening gun to let new shooters use when you invite them for their first range trip.

You are inviting new shooters for their first range trip, right?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Blog Stuff: T-t-t-talkin' 'bout my generation...

Kim Du Toit takes a poke at the petulant narcissists of the Baby Boom generation here. One of the quotes from the referenced article disturbed me:

For example, Marian Marbury climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year with a group of women 37 to 65 years old.

Okay, I'm 37, and I'm pretty sure I'm not a member of the Baby Boom generation, but rather one of their Gen X successors. We need an Official Line of Demarcation here, so I'll propose this:

When I say "Black Trans Am", which washed-up celebrity do you think of first?

A: Burt Reynolds
B: David Hasselhoff

If you answered "Burt", you can go hiking up Kilimanjaro with Ms. Marbury.

Best of...: Long gun scores.

Now's the time to look over the best long gun catches of the past twelve months. Without further ado, I present:

5. MAS Mle. 49/56.

Too bad this rifle is chambered in such an inaccessable surplus caliber, because it has an amazing features list, otherwise: It's the size of an SKS 'Paratrooper', has detachable mags, is chambered for a .308-class round, has fairly easily-manipulated controls, and sports a receiver-mounted aperture sight. An extremely handy little package marred only by its obscure Frog chambering.

4. MAS Mle. 36.

See below.

3. Carcano Mo. 38 carbine.

This Terni-manufactured rifle and the St. Etienne-produced MAS above join a Kar.98k, a No.4 Enfield, an M1 Garand, a Type 99 Arisaka, and a Mosin 91/30 to complete my set of service issue longarms of the major participants in the Last Global Unpleasantness.

2. Mega/RRA 9mm AR carbine.

Of all the guns I currently own, this is the absolute, hands-down, no-holds-barred champeen winner of the Most Fun Gun to Shoot on the Indooor Range at Work competition.

1. Springfield M1903 Mark I.

The current crown jewel of my milsurp collection. And not just because the Gringo Pistolero used one...
Hidden high above the canyon
Where the falcon rides the wind
Chico's best hawkeyed aviso, Juan Romero,
Placed his mirror in his shirt and gazed with worry towards the rocks
Where he last had seen the Gringo Pistolero.

Put the sights up to eight hundred
Hold a yard left for the wind
And there's one by-god aviso that will never flash again,
Weeping red tears from a third eye that's a gift he cannot feel
From the Springfield of the Gringo Pistolero.

Boomsticks: Check your saltiness...

Take the carry gun off your hip, lay it on the desk, click on this link at The Munchkin Wrangler, take the test, and find out just how untactical you are.

I made a -9, and would have done better if Springfield wasn't so proud of the fact that FBI SWAT likes my gun...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Politics: Keep your hands off my paycheck...

SayUncle reports on a fresh attack of heartstring-tugging to distract us from another grab at our wallets. Apparently we're to feel so sorry for the mathematically-challenged Ms. Abel that we agree to let our paychecks be plundered to keep her in low-tax Ho-Hos and Tab. After being exposed to (il)logic like Ms. Abel's, our frequent electoral farces are starting to make a lot more sense.

Raise your hand if you think that the sales tax would be cut if they passed an income tax.

Now raise your hand if you think we'd be left standing with a dazed look on our faces, empty wallets, and our trousers around our ankles.

Thought so.

Best of...: Annoyances.

To continue the "Best Of..." listings, allow me to present the Five Most Annoying People of '05:

5. The Karmic Turner.

You know this one: she navigates her Lincoln Landmass out of Champion's Downe Greene Hills Acres Estates and onto the public thoroughfare, and then immediately cuts her left blinker on, then drives around with it flashing for an hour and a half like some moronic semaphore. She's apparently not planning on turning left any time soon, you see, but she knows a left turn is somewhere in her future that day, and she wants to be ready.

4. Mr. What'llyatakeferthat?

I don't mind Mr. What'llyatakeferthat? when he comes in to haggle over the price of a used gun: Folks expect to haggle over used guns. I don't even mind it when he wants to haggle over a new one, although he's got some pretty skewed views over how much markup I have in those. It's when he wants to buy a $5 cleaning supply item or a $1.50 box of .22's that he really gets catapulted to the forefront of the Annoynted. I have nightmares about getting stuck in line behind this guy at Kroger, while he holds up each individual can of soup and pack of lightbulbs and asks the cashier "What'll ya take fer that?" Speaking of getting stuck in line...

3. The Innumerati.

Hey! Dolt! The sign says "10 Items Or Less", and "chips" & "beer" are not two items when you have 24 bags of chips and 12 cases of beer. All I want is this pack of smokes and a frozen pizza; would it kill you to let me past?

2. Mario Poppins.

Nothing can disrupt a pleasant Sunday morning ride on the Zephyr quite like rounding a bend to find my lane full of an oncoming family bus being (quasi) navigated by an eight-armed Hindu goddess trying to simultaneously change a diaper, get the backseat DVD player to play UNICEF Nukes The Smurfs, feed the tot in the passenger seat, chat with grandma in Sheboygan on the cellie, and play UN Peacekeeping Force for the spitwad war that's broken out way back in the wilds of ThirdRowistan, all while hurtling down the road at sixty and barely keeping it between the ditches. I admire your multitasking skills, ma'am, but I have no desire to start a second career as a hood ornament.

1. Michael Moore.

Would you please shut the hell up?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Poetry Corner: Little Willies.

As the possessor of a somewhat morbid sense of humor, I've always had a fondness for an obscure form of Humor in Verse from early in the last century: droll little poems known as "Little Willies". Allow me to share a few of the better ones:

Willie found some dynamite.
Couldn't understand it, quite.
Curiosity never pays;
It rained Willie seven days.

Little Willie, in bows and sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burned to ashes.
Though Winter's come and days grow chilly,
Noone wants to poke up Willie.

Willie and some other brats
Licked up all the Rough-On-Rats.
Father said when Mother cried,
"Never mind, they'll die outside."

...and my personal favorite:

Willie fell down the elevator.
Wasn't found 'til six days later,
When all the neighbors sniffed "Gee whiz!"
"What a spoiled child Willie is!"

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Best Of...: Handgun scores.

It's the last week of the year, and the time when folks are traditionally inundated with "Best of..." lists and retrospectives of the previous 12 months. Not wanting to feel left out, I figure I should include some Best Books, Bikes, and Boomsticks compilations. So, for starters I'll offer up my five best catches of '05 in the handgun department:

5. S&W Model 21-4 Thunder Ranch Special:

A fixed-sight, big-bore N-frame M&P with a tapered 4" barrel and round-butt frame: What's not to like? Well, the goofy lock-zit thingie and the gold pimpalicious Thunder Ranch billboard on the sideplate, actually, but even with those flaws, this is a revolver I'd been pining for for years; a no-BS fighting sixgun.

4. 3" S&W Model 657:

Completing my 3" N-frame collection with one of my favorite N-frame calibers. I still haven't decided if I'm going to have it MagNaPorted to match my 3" 629 or not...

3. SIG GSR Nitron:

Some of the early guns were plagued by teething problems, but mine is quite impressive. An all-star list of quality parts assembled into a stone reliable, hella accurate package. Holster availability is still a problem, but Milt Sparks is only about eight weeks out from making me a very happy woman.

2. S&W Model of 1955 Target (aka "Pre-Model 25"):

A 6.5" five-screw target N-frame from 1956. From its precise fit to its lovely bluing, it's an eloquent reminder of why these early postwar S-prefix large frame Smiths command such premium prices on the collector market. They were S&W's flagship offerings, with an extra level of attention lavished on them by the factory, and it shows.

1. S&W Model 53-2:

I had never even seen a 4" .22 Remington Jet revolver before I purchased this one; the few examples I'd seen floating around dealer's tables at gun shows were all 6" or 8 3/8" guns, many of which looked as though they'd been dragged behind a truck, and were priced like imported sin into the bargain. When this 4" smallbore magnum crossed my path I just hadtahadtahadta have it.

Next up: Long guns. Or maybe books. Possibly favorite roads to ride down. Something, anyway...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Blog Stuff: More Christmas stuff.

MauserGirl has a neat post up entitled A Soldier's Christmas. It's worth a read.

So go read it.


Blog Stuff: A Waffle House Christmas.

Christmas Eve was very fun. What I remember of it, anyway. What's that mnemonic? "Wine after beer, oh dear"? Anyhow, I woke up to the soundtrack to Zulu pounding in my skull and the discovery that my tongue had been mysteriously replaced by a tongue-shaped piece of flannel. A quick stagger about the house confirmed that there wasn't an aspirin tablet to be had this side of the local convenience store.

I got dressed and decided to combine the aspirin run with a long-standing Christmas tradition beloved by misanthropic hermits across the South: A hearty holiday meal, alone with a book, in the quiet confines of the local Waffle House, while sipping eleventeen cups of coffee.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I could tell something was amiss. All the parking places were full, and every available nook and cranny that wasn't a parking space was also full. The chaotic result looked as though a demolition derby had been stopped in mid smashup, with all the drivers just parking where they were to hop out and get a cup of joe. What were all these people doing here? Didn't they have families? Upon opening the door, I found that the situation was worse than I thought: Not only did these people have families, they were families. The little row of chairs where one is supposed to patiently wait for a booth was a teeming, seething mass of aberrant humanity; half of it knee-high, and all of it loud. It was like the extras from a school play production of Deliverance had all suddenly gotten a craving for country ham. Not the best place to bring a hangover.

Muttering "Aren't y'all all supposed to be over the river and through the woods someplace?", I elbowed and kneed my way to an open spot at the counter and attempted to shout my order to the harried-looking waitron over the clash of plates being washed and the hissing roar of twelve pounds of hash browns being cooked simultaneously. A pleasant-looking gentleman took the stool next to mine, and asked "Hey, don't you work at Coal Creek Armory?"

I did not growl "Not today, I dont."

I did not shoot the place up in a hail of gunfire, resulting in a standoff with the local SWAT team.

I did not break down crying and beat my forehead against the countertop.

I smiled and said "Why, yes sir, I do." and finished the conversation with a promise to score some more cases of bulk 9mm for sale by this Thursday, so he'd be able to buy some for the shooting outings he takes with his son.

I stopped at the inconvenience store on the way home, drawing a knowing chuckle from the guy behind the register as I plopped my bottle of aspirin, bottle of V8, and bottle of Gatorade on the counter. "A very Merry Christmas, huh?" he asked.

"You don't know the half of it," I replied with feeling, "but you can read all about it when I get home."

Merry Christmas to my peeps!

Another holiday season in retail has been survived.

Mad props to the whole crew at Coal Creek Armory; if you're reading this, folks, thanks for doing a great job! Have a happy holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Boomsticks: My indoor rifle...

SayUncle has been musing on the fun possibilities of a 9mm AR-15 of late.

I just thought he should know that the pile of DPMS and Rock River fire control bits that got stuffed into a Mega lower and push-pinned to a *cough* Double Star, but don't tell anybody fergawdssake, 9mm upper just the other night got taken out on the range today, whereupon they chewed through boxes of Speer Lawman 9mm like Rosie O'Donnell through a pint of Ben & Jerry's Rainforest Crunch, just as fast as I could pull the trigger.

Cheap-o, reliable, indoors 9mm AR blasting. Yum.

Think I should spring to get it SBR'ed?

Blog Stuff: Merry Christmas to me!

The Buffalo Bore order finally arrived at work yesterday. In amongst the stock for the shelves (.45 ACP 230gr +P and some .45-70 Magnum Lever Gun,) was my Chrismas present to me: 50 rounds of righteous 265gr .41 Magnum, and some of their groovy "Heavy .44 Special" loads for my Model 21 Thunder Ranch Special. That big ol' N-frame sure felt silly shooting lighweight little 200gr Silvertips and Gold Dots...

"Strictly Big Bore, Strictly Business." Yay!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Politics: School's in Session.

There's a wonderful essay on the basic laws of supply and demand up over at The Munchkin Wrangler.

Maybe reading it would help some of those alleged conservatives who keep calling for legislation to repeal said laws, because a basic lack of knowledge of simple economic facts is as pervasive on the right side of the political spectrum as it is on the left.

This was brought home to me yet again the other day when I was reading the current The Complete Newsstand Rag of the 1911. (Yeah, I know, it's from Guns & Ammo; it's okay, I wore gloves.) Anyhow, in it was an article by S.P. Fjestad on collecting old 1911s. For those who don't know Mr. Fjestad, he's a respected firearms collector, and the publisher of The Blue Book of Gun Values, which is used as a rough rule of thumb in assigning values to old guns. Anyhow, Mr. Fjestad was lamenting the modern influence of internet auctions on gun prices, claiming that a bunch of parvenues have invaded his sacred hobby and are paying more for old guns than they are "worth". Where his analysis falls down is in assuming that "worth" or "value" is some intrinsic characteristic inherent in the gun, like "weight" or "length", that can be easily measured and announced by the seller. It isn't. "Value" is determined by only one person: the buyer. Years ago, when collecting old military 1911s (or LC Smith shotguns, or S&W revolvers) was confined to a couple of old crocks who passed them back and forth at gun shows, "value" was a fairly fixed and static number, and Mr. Fjestad had an easy time writing his book. Everybody knew how much Fred's old Singer 1911A1 had traded for the last time it changed hands, and this made it simple to assign it a value in the Blue Book. The era of has knocked all that into a cocked hat, and one can tell that Mr. Fjestad doesn't like that one bit, no sir.

Suddenly his Blue Book is no longer quite as relevant (which is why I referred to it as a "rough rule of thumb" rather than "the price bible".) He can state, for instance, that S&W 27-2's are worth only $425 in 100% condition 'til he's blue in the face, but anybody with an internet connection and the time to peruse auction sites and gun boards knows that he's out of his mind. (I think I paid purt' near $600 for my 99%+, 3.5", '64-vintage 27-2, and was happy to do so.) When Joe Blow bids up a 90% Remington Rand to $925 in an auction, he's not "paying more than it's worth", he's paying exactly what it's worth... to him. Everyone else can look at that auction, note where the other bidders dropped out, and adjust the price tags on their 90% Remington Rands accordingly, and if this upsets the old boys who've been passing them back and forth for decades at $500, then tough. That's how the free market works. Buy a helmet.

As it goes for 1911s, so it goes for every other commodity out there, from infant formula to a gallon of gasoline. When you stick the fuel nozzle in your Lincoln Landmass and punch the "Pay Outside" button at $5/gal, you have just announced to the world that that is how much that gasoline is worth to you; you have helped set the price. Likewise, if you shop around to find the guy selling it for $4.95/gal, you have told the market that it isn't worth $5/gal to you. This is not a theory, or an ideology, any more than is the law of gravity; it's a description of how the world works. It'd be nice if folks demonstrated an understanding of Newton before calling for legislation to repeal his laws...

(To return to the opening topic, by the way, Marko's actually quite the essayist. If you haven't read his Declaration of Civil Disobedience, you should read it, too.)

Blog Stuff: Pseudo LiveJournal post...

Another raging night of insomnia setting in...

Thank Shiva that Christmas is almost here.

Folks ask me "What are you doing for Christmas?" My smiling response is something vague, unthreatening and noncommital, like "Spending it with friends!" because most happy suburbanites don't want to hear "I work in retail, darling. What I'm going to do is be happy for the day off, lock my doors, drink my way clean past drunk until I come back 'round to sober, and cheer the post-holiday return to normalcy. If that fat guy in the red suit tries to come down my chimney, he's gonna stop a mag-full of 75gr Hornady TAP. This is Tennessee; they'll never convict me for sparking an obvious home invader..."

[mood| Borderline pathological.]
[music| Front 242, Animal: Cage/Gate/Guide]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Blatant Capitalism: Don't forget...

If you're in the Knoxville area, come by the Armory and burn some powder tomorrow night; we're gonna have out-of-town company.

Blog Stuff: About the weather...

Yeah, Josh, it's frickin' cold here. 22 degrees right now, as a matter of fact; a lot colder than it is down by you in San Diego.

At least I have my teddy bear to keep me warm. ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blog Stuff: I weep for the future of America.

My participation on various internet gun boards has tapered off over the past year or two. Partly this is due to the time demands of my gig at Coal Creek Armory, but it has as much or more to do with the tediousness engendered by the very nature of the Errornet: ie. Anybody with a keyboard can offer an opinion. This is, in itself, good. However, they can then claim, with the full backing of all the Self-Esteem training they received in public school, that their opinion is as valuable as anybody else's. This is manifestly not good, as all opinions are not equal.

Check the first poster in this thread: He loves to crawl on his belly looking for deer, much like a recent presidential candidate. He has a custom rifle. It is a:
"modified kar98k/lee enfield/mosin nagant rifle (enfield bolt action, mosin nagants magazine system, and kar98k caliber and body)"
Riiiigght. Then again, who am I to criticize someone who was a sniper in the "Marine Core[sic]"?

Or take this thread at The High Road as a f'rinstance. Several posters attempt to share their opinions on the new MEUSOC pistol. A poster going by the handle of "Pat_Rogers" shows up, attempts to offer a few opinions of his own on the topic, and winds up leaving in disgust. As well he should have, since he wrote the specifications for the pistol in question.

I can empathize.

Newbie1: "What do you guys think of the BlastOMatic 2000?"

Tamara: "Well, the design seems like a good idea, but we've stopped stocking them after having to send eight of the last ten we sold back for warranty work. I'd recommend against buying one, or at least waiting to see if the pending recall solves the problems."

DeAtH aNgEl 007: "Dude, my older brother has one and they ROCK!"

RONIN DragonClaw: "I used one when I was in Force Recon. They issue them to all SOCOM units, but you'll never read about it in the press because it's Black Ops."

Old Cuss: "Heay newbie1! Come over to Blastomatic fan forums! Its' my new EZboard sight!"

DeAtH aNgEl 007: "Dude, all the clerks at my gun store are so stupid! They didn't even kno that BlastOMatic was coming out with a version of the 2000 in 9x25 Dillon! There's been a thread up about that at BlastOMatic Fan Forums for two days now! God! When are they going to hire somebody who knows anything!"

Newbie1: "So, y'all think it's a pretty good gun then? 'Cause I read your posts and ordered one."

Tamara: "Screw this."

And so it goes...

Boomsticks: They don't make 'em like they used to...

Marko at The Munchkin Wrangler picked up a gorgeous S&W Model 27-2 from us the other day.

I've handled lots of high-end wheelguns over the years: Colt Pythons, the primo single actions from Freedom Arms, even a Korth or two. Every time I play with a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum (what these guns were called before S&W went to using prosaic model numbers in 1957,) I wonder what the fuss is about in regard to those lesser guns.

Rhapsodizing on his new sidearm (and associated gratuitous gun pr0n) can be found here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Economics: It's an omen.

It must be time to buy a new gun: Some dude googled "Ramen Pride" and got my blog as number one with a bullet.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Politics: A slumping economy?

I have been working in the firearms industry since Winter of '93. Coal Creek Armory is the fourth FFL I have worked for.

I was slinging guns across the glass on September 12 of 1994, the eve of the Assault Weapons Ban taking effect. I was selling guns on December 31, 1999; the day before Y2K. September 11, 2001? I was selling guns. I was selling guns on the day the AWB sunset took hold in 2004, and I was selling guns in the post Hurricane Katrina buying frenzy of '05. These were the biggest red-letter days in the retail firearms industry.

On Friday, December 16th, 2005, I saw more guns sell in one day than I have on any other day since I started doing this for a living.

Economic slump? Phhhththththht!

Politics: Trying to shift the boot to a more comfortable part of our necks...

Via SayUncle: Thank gawd for Larry Craig (and, though it pains me to say it, Russ Feingold.)

At least there are a few members of the Senate who can summon up the gumption to admit that the Bill Of Rights can't be defended by putting on rubber gloves and asking America to bend over.

From the Vault: The Arm of Empire.

The adoption of the Snider breechloading conversion of the old P.1853 Enfield by the British army in 1866 was never intended to be more than a stopgap. Indeed, the commission to select its replacement was formed in 1867, and soon weeded a field of over 100 entrants down to nine finalists. While bolt-actions were considered, a falling block with an internal striker ignition system designed by Swiss engineer Friedrich von Martini was selected, mated to a barrel with 7-groove, 1-in-22" rifling that had been the brainchild of Scottish gun-maker and rifle marksmanship enthusiast Alexander Henry. From such dry technical details was a legend born.

Martini-Henry Mark II. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The Martini-Henry was the standard issue arm of the British military from 1871 through the early 1890's; twenty tumultuous years, spanning such famous names as Khartoum, Isandhlwana, Rorke's Drift. The rifle itself has been the star of Kipling poetry and Hollywood film, with a sword bayonet on one end and Tommy Atkins at the other.

Loading the Martini. Photo by Oleg Volk.

Operation of the rifle is simple: pulling down on the lever behind the triggerguard causes the beechblock to drop at the front, exposing the chamber and automatically cocking the striker. The lever is then raised, closing the chamber and preparing the weapon for firing. There is no safety, but a pivoting indicator on the right side of the action gives visual and tactile confirmation of the weapon's cocked status. After firing, operation of the lever causes twin extractors to eject the spent case. There is a lug for a bayonet on the right side of the first barrel band, and the weapon's sights are graduated to 1,450 yards (experiments in India against screen targets representing massed troops showed that trained riflemen could achieve 6% hits in volley fire out to 1,650 yards!) Recoil was, as they say in the gun mags, "brisk but manageable", and a cutout was placed in the right rear of the receiver to remind one not to wrap one's thumb over the action, which could cause it, upon firing, to meet one's nose with enough force to make one see stars.

A girl and her rifle. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The Martini was truly a weapon of transition; a crusty veteran issued one in 1871 may well have received his first marksmanship instruction on a smoothbore flintlock, while the senior NCO's at Mons and First Ypres had undoubtedly cut their teeth on this old black powder warhorse. Ammunition, usually formed from 24ga shotgun brass, is still available from some specialty houses, such as Old Western Scrounger and Rocky Mountain Cartridge, LLC. Be aware that these black powder cartridges are loaded with .451" bullets, and that the bore on a well-used Martini (like mine) can mike out to .458" or more, resulting in keyholing at ranges as close as seven yards. I would encourage any military rifle enthusiast to snag one of these while examples are still available from International Military Antiques and Atlanta Cutlery; there may be no more romantic breechloader to own.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Boomsticks: My gun makes Dianne Feinstein cry.

As predicted, visits from friends can sometimes result in pictures of some pretty swoopy hardware.

On the left is a pretty deluxe Bushmaster, complete with Surefire M900A and Aimpoint. On the right is the now-completed Project Housegun. Well, almost completed; I still need an Ergogrip (In Coyote Brown, of course. "Coyote Brown: It's the new black.") I decided to go with the EOTech 512 because... well, I'm lazy and didn't want to wait for an ARMS throw-lever ring to get restocked at the shop. Plus, it has the Donut-Of-Death reticle, which is pretty cool...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Boomsticks: Victory!!!!

So, I had my day off all mapped out:

Wake up. Chill and surf the 'net a bit. Do some laundry. Go eat some barely-dead cow. Go spring a pistol from the hock shop. Nice, relaxed, and...

*ring, ring*


"Hey, didn't you want a 3" Model 657?"

"Yeah, that's the only 3" N-frame Smith & Wesson caliber I'm missing." (I have a .357 Mag, a 10mm, a .44 Spl, a .44 Mag, a .45 ACP, and a .45 Colt; the Model 657 is chambered in .41 Magnum...)

"There's a guy here who's selling one. Apparently you'd told him that if he ever wanted to part with it, you'd take it."

"Dammit, I need my spare cash to... Never mind. How much will he take?"

"He says he has $400 in it."

"Will he take $400 for it?"

"Hang on... Yeah."

"Tell him I'll be right there, and that he has lousy timing."

On the downside? I still have a pistol languishing in Durance Vile at the local prawn shop.

On the upside? I have managed to call "Bingo!" in the 3" N-frame game. Now, on to my next Collector Quest. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pssst! There's no such thing as memes. Pass it on...

Josh at South Park Pundit snuck up and taped a meme to my back when I wasn't looking. Apparently I'm supposed to relate to the crowd my five weirdest habits. Okay, I can do it. The only hard part is picking which ones are the weirdest from the dozens I have to choose from.

1) Tamara Tourette's.
When I moved to my current domicile, my then-roommate and I opted to go with a cable modem, and decided not to activate the land line to the new crib. This meant that I had to finally give in and get a cell phone. I picked a cheapo Cricket that doesn't play games, take pictures, or do much of anything but let me talk, reluctantly, to people who have weaseled my phone number out of me and folks who fumble-finger the occasional wrong number. Of course a cell phone, unlike a land line, is in a different place every time it rings, and therefore sets off a torrent of curses as I fumble around trying to remember where I left it. This has become Pavlovian, as now the ringtone of my cellie triggers an impressive cascade of profanity, even when the phone is in my hand when it goes off. Friends find this amusing.

2) Telephone Tam.
A previous employer explained to me that a curt "Yeah?" when answering the phone at work was Not Cool, and that new customers wanted their first phone contact with our business to be with a pleasant Suzie Receptionist and not Bea Arthur with Tourette's Syndrome. He drummed this into me until, to this day, my phone voice is half an octave higher and ten times as bubble-headed as everyday me. This is funniest if a phone call interrupts me in mid-rant at work: "I don't care what we have to do; the guy's a good customer and we need to get his gun to him tomorrow. Just make it happen, even if we have to eat the *&%$#@ loss, and... *ring, ring* Hel-lo? Thank you for calling Coal Creek Armory!"

3) Bad Table Manners.
If I sneak a book onto the table while we're out at a nice restaurant, it doesn't mean that I don't like you, it's just that my digestive system doesn't work right unless I'm reading...

4) The Other Side Of The Above.
...which is why there's also a bookshelf in the loo.

5) The Black Hat.
When I started riding a motorcycle every day some six years ago, I needed a handy way to combat Helmet Hair. I took to sticking the bill of a baseball cap (black, natch') down the front of my jeans when I rode so that I could yank my hair into an easy ponytail when I pulled the helmet off. Of course, the hat gave me a way to make clever personal statements ("Glock", "NIN", "Molon Labe", "Quake: Arena", et cetera,) and rapidly became, not just a part of my everyday wardrobe, but part of Public Image Tam.

Now to pass this meme infection on to, well... to whoever hasn't caught it yet, plus Xavier, Tiff and Alston.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 15

A special post for the politicians in The Great White North and elsewhere who think they can wave a magic wand and make guns go away.

The two guns in the picture below are interesting: Guess which one was made at Smith & Wesson's Massachussetts factory by skilled craftsmen using advanced machine tools in 1928 and which was made by a village blacksmith using hammers, files, and saws somewhere in SE Asia in the 1930s:

EDIT: For those who want to get in on the detective work:

I purchased the upper firearm from a gentleman whose father had been in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII. He had retrieved it, and its holster, from a Japanese junior officer who, in war story parlance, "didn't need it anymore." The weapon is chambered in .38 S&W and is obviously a copy of the I-frame Regulation Police shown with it. Cost was $125, or, as my gunsmith put it, "five dollars for the holster, twenty dollars for the gun, and a hundred for the story."

Further pictures, including detailed closeups, can be viewed and much head-scratching about the weapon's origins can be read (and participated in) at The High Road.

Blog Stuff: This 'n' That...

'Tis the season...

A bunch of the East Tennessee Riders crew descended on the Armory last night for an evening of fun powder-burning and the telling of two-wheeled tales, as motorcycle-unfriendly weather swirled around outside. Always a fun time.

Blogging may be light for a couple days since, between the Christmas rush at work, out-of-town company in the shape of Mr. Byron Quick of The High Road and The Firing Line fame, and taking a bulldozer to my little apartment, my free time is a bit short for the nonce.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Books: The Collecting of Guns

You have to love a book that states, in the third paragraph of Chapter One:

An ideal field of collecting embraces subjects which combine the qualities of beauty, fine craftsmanship, historical importance, fascinating interest, and established values. No field meets these requirements better than gun collecting., they're cheaper than vintage Ferraris, and you can't use Roman coins to fend off Zombie Apocalypse.

Bikes: Anticipay-ay-shun...

Just waiting on that guy to show up with the ducats to pick up the 1000 Interceptor. I've got my sights locked on that CB-1; 415 lbs wet, 54-in. wheelbase, 45 rwhp @ 13,500... I've wanted one for sixteen years, now. Once it's in the driveway, I may just toss a car cover over the Beemer, buy a warm oversuit, and get all hardcore and 24/7/365 again.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

All is Vanity...


I'm glad someone got as much of a chuckle out of reading that line as I did when it bubbled, methane-like, to the surface of the swamp I have by way of a mind. ;)

Politics: Way out in the left grandstands...

Via Jeff at Alphecca, we hear that the Prime Minister of Canuckistan and his shaky Junta wish to solve the lilliputian crime wave in Toronto by emulating the successful strategies used in such southern utopias as Chicago, NYC, and Washington, DC.

Cynics, of course, are pointing out that such grandstanding is merely an attempt to generate feel-good vibes in order to stave off being handed their pink slips by angry voters. One would think that they could have paid a bit more attention to their Spiritual Kin here in Los Estados Unidos, who found out the hard way that gun control is hardly the vote-getter they thought it would be. Those who were likely to applaud various victim disarmament schemes are likely already voting a liberal line, while the threat of confiscating valuable private property from voters isn't going to draw undecided ballots towards your side of any issue.

My prediction?

Nice shootin', Tex; you didn't need that toe, anyway...

Boomsticks: The last Carnival of Cordite...

...of 2005, that is.

Go read, and we'll see y'all at the fairgrounds again in 2006. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Blog Stuff: Urggh... Saturday...

If you walk up to someone at this time of year and greet them with a cheery "Merry Christmas!" and they respond by curling into a fetal ball and whimpering or by punching you in the mouth, then it's a safe bet they work in retail...

Books: The Lion, The Witch And The Allegory.

With the big screen debut of C.S. Lewis' wonderful The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe comes a new HarperCollins single volume edition of the entire Chronicles of Narnia that is (bonus!) available for the low, low price of $9.96 from WallyWorld. I'd always loved these books, but the only volume I had retained over the years was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so going back to read the others after a twenty-year hiatus made for an extremely enjoyable Friday.

I note that there is actually debate in the MSM as to whether the story is an allegory or not. I think it points out that some critics are a very special kind of dense to even wonder about it. Of course it's an allegory, but it's a gentle, well-written, charming allegory, and if even a mean old atheist like myself can enjoy it, then I think some others can lighten the hell up and do likewise; any dolt should be able to tell the difference between Good Christians and Bad JeezoNazis, and on which side of the line these sweet children's tales fall.

Incidentally, there is no truth to the rumor that I am writing a retrospective on the Bill Clinton / Hillary Clinton / Monica Lewinsky scandal entitled The Lyin', The Bitch And The Wardrobe.

(Sorry, I just love that last gag and have been dying to figure out a way to work it into a post. Sue me.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Blog Stuff: Little guilty pleasures.

Laundry day.

Not enough whites, blacks, or colors to make three separate loads.

Hooray! Laundry Thunderdome! Dump it all in one load and let it be Survival of the Fittest! A Texas cage match between the White Socks and the Black Tees! Will the eggshell turtleneck come out gray? Will this be my poor old knit top's last hurrah, tangling with the zipper of some jeans? Who knew laundry could be so much fun?

(I know, I know, somewhere my mom is crying. She taught me better than that...)

Yesterday in History...

Mark David Chapman: Three feet to the right, and he could've been a hero.

Blog Stuff: The Freemasons are poisoning the wells!

...or flouridating the water, or something. Anyhow, courtesy of the soon-to-vanish In Deo Veritas comes the best bit of barking moonbattery I've read this week. (Don your Reynold's Wrap yarmulke before reading...)

What makes this stuff so appealing to the human psyche? Why do we, like Fox Mulder, Want To Believe? Obviously, there's the human instinct for pattern recognition; the same cognitive process that helped us figure out which bananas were edible and where the python was hiding in the tree now lets us see faces in the clouds and vast, over-arching conspiracies behind pretty much anything that moves. Our brains are wired to see patterns, sometimes whether they're there or not, and if one looks for a pattern, one will certainly find one.

Also, there's an oddly comforting feeling in the knowledge that someone is in control; that there's a rhyme or a reason to all the bizzarre, chaotic, or tragic events that constantly occur. In an age when it's unfashionable to blame Lucifer for hurricanes and tsunamis, one can blame Skull & Bones and HAARP; either is more comforting than the bald truth that, well, Shit Happens. Our pagan ancestors attached personal forces to every phenomenon, and we are no different: An old Norse farmer had Loki, god of Dirty Tricks and Crappy Harvests, and we have Bill Gates, god of Computer Crashes, and Dick Cheney, god of War.

We like this so much because to comprehend is to control. If we understand that everything is caused by the machinations of the Nefarious "Them", then we can predict and we can prepare, which are things one cannot do against random chance. The Norse farmer could try to influence the cosmic chaos with prayers and offerings to the gods, while his modern counterpart can Spread The Truth on the Internet, and both feel like they have done something to retain control.

There's something telling in the fact that, in the face of the imminent global conspiracy of the New World Order, the most ardent believers tune into Art Bell after work and write posts on the web during their lunch hour, rather than quit their job to go and dig slit trenches in the tomato patch. Why is this? Because no matter what tricks Loki is up to, the Norse farmer knows that that grain ain't gonna harvest itself, and tomorrow's going to be another long day on the farm...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Blog Stuff: Funny.

Shots Across The Bow offers a conclusive breakdown on why prospective parents of a frugal bent should hope for a boychild.

Boomsticks: Confessions of a junkie.

I ran into an acquaintance yesterday who had a rifle he wanted to show me. "Ever seen one of these?" he asked.

"Sure. That's a Gewehr 98," I responded "I have a Spandau '16 mysel..."

"No, here," he said, holding it out to me, "look at it."

"Let's see. Sliding bolt cover? Omigod! This is a Siamese Mauser!"

"Yeah," he replied with a smile, oblivious to the fact that I had started dancing from foot to foot like a child who needed to use the restroom in a bad way, "It's missing the follower and mag spring, but it's in great shape. I got it in a big package deal wit..."

"How much do you want for it?"

"Huh? Well, I hadn't really thought abou..."

"How much do you want for it?"

"I reckon I'd take $200 for it."

"Hang on."

A quick call to 1-800-AMI-BROKE? revealed that I could just barely swing it, as long as I didn't mind being stone cold sober and eating Ramen Pride noodles 'til payday, but what's more important: Food and beer? Or a Siamese Mauser? Any good gun junkie knows the answer to that one.

This is one of the hazards of getting way off into the weeds of the milsurp hobby. As long as one confines their collecting to Mosins and Yugo M48's, everything's cool. Those guns are being imported by the container load every day, and if you don't get one this week, you can always call AIM Surplus or SOG next week and pick one up then. It's when one gets interested in the older, the more obscure, that the monkey really climbs on your back. If you don't pick up that Chilean M1895 carbine now, when are you going to see another one? Is the price being asked for that Japanese Type "I" fair? Who knows? You've never seen another one for sale, and the gun isn't even mentioned in any of the standard price guides. You're constantly ruining your bargaining power by blurting out "Omigod! That's a Short-Lever Martini!" or "Omigod! That's a Kar. 71!" But, hey, Ramen Pride noodles don't taste all that bad, anyway.

Milsurp collecting offers a lot of fun on the side. You get to become an amateur sleuth, tracing the age and origins of the rifle; hoarding books and scouring the internet to decode obsure markings and discover fascinating tidbits of information. For instance, most Siamese 1903's were Japanese-made, and had the distinctive 2-piece stock and upper & lower receiver tangs seen on Arisaka rifles. Mine lacks these tangs, and has a one-piece stock, despite lacking the "1901" marking that Oberndorf-built guns have, and bearing the emblem of the Koishikawa Arsenal in Tokyo on the left-hand receiver rail. Figuring out what all this indicates will involve much searching the 'net and reading old books, learning how to read Siamese numerals, talking to old guys, and probably wind up by getting pointed to some eccentric who is considered to be the national expert on Siamese Mausers; a guy who only eats Thai food, has a basement full of the guns, and wrote an unpublished book on the meaning of the Charkra stamped on the receiver ring.

And, really, that's the allure of it all: Where else can a measly two bills buy you an artifact, a story, an adventure, and an education?

Anyone know where I can find 8x50mmR ammunition?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blog Stuff: Thanks to the magic of SiteMeter...

...I found another new favorite site.

A date which will live in infamy...

64 years ago today.

Never Forget.

Politics: Don't whine to me, Argentina...


Saddam, dressed in a dark suit and white shirt and clutching a Quran, complained that he and the seven other defendants were tired and had been deprived of opportunities to shower, have a change of clothes, exercise or go for a smoke.

"This is terrorism," he declared.

Fetch the wood chipper, Achmed; this clown obviously needs a refresher in Terrorism 101.

"I live in an iron cage covered by a tent under American democratic rule. You should come see my cage," he told Amin. "The Americans and the Zionists want to execute Saddam Hussein."

Er, well, yeah. And your point is...?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 14

An almost-complete set of 3" fixed-sight K-frames:

Left to Right: Model 547 9mm, Model 10-8 .38 Special, Model 65-2 .357 Magnum, and a PC13 .357 Magnum.

Most of the old shooters I looked up to when I first got interested in handguns considered these to be just the berries in a CCW gun. Their ideas must have stuck with me, because I still get weak in the knees over these wheelguns in a way I don't over any other pistol.

Boomsticks: Software upgrade.

There is an alarming notion popular in our culture that tends to equate possession with competence. The guy in the new 350Z who thinks that he can drive like Michael Schumacher, despite knowing nothing about heel-and-toe downshifts or trailing-throttle oversteer; the new YZF-R1 owner who, despite never having ridden anything more powerful than a Schwinn before, is eager to go out, get a knee down and scuff up his "chicken strips"; both are well-known recipes for disaster. They have their equivalent in the world of firearms, too: Just because you have Rob Leatham signature grips on your Springfield or a Jerry Miculek signature revolver from S&W doesn't necessarily mean you'll be filling the guys at the next IPSC match with terror. Likewise, just because your pistol comes highly recommended by Massad Ayoob or Clint Smith doesn't mean it can shoot its own way out of danger while you stand passively by and watch; the fact that LAPD SWAT or the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team uses the same type of gun you carry doesn't automatically make you a fearsome trigger-puller.

This is a time of year when most folks don't necessarily want to freeze off body parts at outdoor schools, but there are plenty of drills that can be practiced home and at indoor ranges, and several good books to help you broaden your understanding and skills. Try not to latch onto any one of them as Holy Scripture, but rather be willing to cherry-pick from them, and always be on the lookout for new ideas to broaden your skill set. Here's a few to get you started, in no particular order:

Guns, Bullets, and Gunfighting, by Jim Cirillo.
Shooting From Within, by J. Michael Plaxco.
The Book Of Two Guns: The Martial Art of the 1911 Pistol and AR Carbine, by Tiger McKee.
No Second Place Winner, by Bill Jordan.
Up To Speed: A Practical Guide to Handguns and How to Use Them, by John Mattera.

Stay warm, and have fun learning!

Breaking News...

The Titanic may have sunk fast enough to drown Leonardo DiCaprio after all.

Thousands cheer.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bikes: War wounds.

I noticed a little bump on my right shin just below my knee today. Hmm. It appears that one of the screws left over from my last big asphalt surfing experience might be working its way out. I should probably go get that looked at in my copious free time...

Blog Stuff: The Meme From U.N.C.L.E.

Via SayUncle, it's Seven by Seven.

The questions:

Seven things to do before I die
Seven things I cannot do
Seven things that attract me to (…)
Seven things I say most often
Seven books (or series) that I love
Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time)
Seven people I want to join in, too.

Okay, then; here we go:

Seven things to do before I die:
Finish writing just one book. (Publishing optional.)
Have a drink with P.J. O'Rourke.
Get in shape to be seen in public in a bikini again.
Hunt Cape Buffalo.
Get a pilot's license.
Build a 1911 from the ground up all by myself.
See Stonehenge, the Isle of Man TT, the Flavian Ampitheatre, and turn a lap on the Nurburgring, all in one whirlwind vacation.

Seven things I cannot do:
Carry a tune. Not even in a bucket.
Resist commenting on idiocy.
Fathom why any sequels were made to Star Wars.
Balance a checkbook.
Remember birthdays or anniversaries.

Seven things that attract me to (well, this is a gunblog.)
They're mechanically interesting.
They make loud noises.
They're ownable, durable, historical artifacts.
They're very rarely bad investments.
Gunsmoke smells cool.
They are useful tools.
They keep the King of England out of my face.

Seven things I say most often
and "Darn."

Seven books (or series) that I love
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
Atlas Shrugged
Lord of the Rings
pretty much anything by P.J. O'Rourke
Anne Rice's first four or five vampire books, before they started to suck
Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco mysteries

Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time)
Way Of The Gun
Suicide Kings
Blackhawk Down
Dr. Strangelove
Life of Brian
Gladiator (swoon)

Seven people I want to join in, too.
Alston (though he won't.)
The Munchkin Wrangler
Grampa Pinhead
Zendo Deb
South Park Pundit

Boomsticks: Eek!

Jeff at Alphecca is a little late with his scary Halloween post.

No, not this one; this one.

A return of the Scary-Looking Gun Ban? Brrrr!

I was running a gun shop when it came around for the first time, too, and I find the difference in my responses interesting. Back then, I was all about the wondernines and scary rifles, and I rushed about in a tizzy, stocking up on mags for my Glocks and SIGs and Astras and CZ clones. I picked up another MAK-90, a couple of AK drum mags, and a bunch of 30-rounders.

For a hypothetical '06 repeat?

Well, I don't even own any handguns that take large capacity magazines, nor do I accumulate scary-looking rifles anymore. The only self-loading rifle I own that was made after 1950 is Project Housegun, and it's more a tool than it is part of my collection. I'd probably spend a chunk of my next paycheck on some durable steel HK 30-rd SA80 magazines, and swap one of my more expendable 1911's (probably the Springfield Lightweight Loaded) for a couple of AR lowers with collapsable stocks. I'd go ahead and take pictures of the lowers, assembled together with my eeeevil bayonet-lugged upper, sitting atop today's newspaper, and then put the upper back on Project Housegun and stash the lowers in a closet to await eventual completion.

That'd be it, really. The rest of my time would be spent tearing off angry rants at my congresscritters and jogging them to the mailbox.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Blog Stuff: A good evening...

The house to myself.

Cool, but not too cold.

A fire in the outdoor fireplace.

A half-rack of Memphis dry-rub ribs in my tummy.

A pint of Fraoch and a pint of Kelpie.

March of Cambreadth on the boom box.

The last couple hundred pages of Atlas Shrugged in my right hand.

It'd be pretty hard to sell me on any popular notions of an afterlife right now. ;)

Blog Stuff: Hmmm...

I wish I read Russian.

Blog Stuff: Funny.

James J. Na posts about the impending disaster in the Blackberry patch.

Personally, I think the Blackberry is the second-silliest handheld communication idea ever, behind only cell-phone text messaging. ("If only there was some way I could use this cell phone to get a message to my friend, who also has a cell phone." The very first text message I ever saw someone send? "Call Me." I am not kidding.)

Remember, folks: Email is only one third of the Computing Triad. Until a gizmo can also handle games and porn, it won't catch on.

Politics: "Justice: Regular or Extra Crispy?"

Countertop is rightly happy at the thought of another rabid dog put down, unable to bite society again. Zendo Deb is equally rightly worried about the possibility of government incompetence smoking the wrong guy.

I still maintain that the death penalty is appropriate for attempted rape, attempted homicide, or attempted assault, when meted out on the spot by the intended victim.

I'm often asked why I have this atavistic tendency. Is it a love of vengeance? Do I somehow think that killing the bad guy will return his victims to life? No, it actually stems from something more pragmatic than that: When someone has violated the basic rules of the monkey cage so flagrantly, there's only one surefire way to make certain that they won't do it again.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Politics: T(s)ANSTAAFL.

"To call something public is to define it as dirty, insufficient, and hazardous. The ultimate paradigm of social spending is the public restroom." P.J. O'Rourke

Via Les Jones, we learned that the lagoon of New Orleans will be the first sub-aquatic municipality with taxpayer-supported WiFi internet acess.

Wait, wasn't I supposed to say "Free"?


I wish people would stop using that word. There still ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You can, however, sell crappy, insufficient service to anybody if you:
1) Tell them it's free.
2) Steal small amounts of money from them here & there to pay for it.
3) Loot their neighbors to make up for any funding shortfalls, whether the neighbors use the service or not.

The vast majority of Americans seem to tolerate, for instance, substandard educations for their children, because they don't get presented with a bill every month showing, in all its itemized glory, how much they're being fleeced to send junior off to William Golding Memorial Junior High School every morning. Instead, they cough up a few extra pennies for their Big Gulp at the Stop & Rob, fork over a few dollars on the rent they pay the county for their land every year, and generally get filched left and right without really noticing it, all the while moping that they wish they could get Piggy into a good private school, but just can't afford it.

The only thing worse than being overcharged for something, of course, is being overcharged for nothing, which is how costs get held down in this system. Piggy's folks don't have to pay too much to have some sense knocked into their kid's head because, hey, I'm helping to pay for it too. Whether I like it or not. Which I don't, in case you hadn't figured it out.

Now you and I and everybody else, thanks to the miracle of federal relief dollars, will get to provide New Orleans with a WiFi network which will, no doubt, be every bit as efficiently run as William Golding Memorial Junior High School as soon as the shiny wears off and it's just another public service. Ah, well, they may be able to make me pay for it, but at least they can't make me use it.

Boomsticks: Carnival of Cordite XL

(No, not "Extra Large", but "Number Forty".)


Friday, December 02, 2005

Blog Stuff: Missing link.

Why this one wasn't on my list o' links is completely beyond me. It's fixed now.

Politics: A Tennessee David vs. the Media Goliath.

I would like to preface this post by stating one simple truth: If all the executives at US gun companies had one tenth of the cojones that Ronnie Barrett possesses, there would be no threat to the Second Amendment in this country.

This is an incontrovertable fact.

Coincidentally, "facts" seemed to be the one thing in short supply at the desk of one Ms. Rose French, alleged journalist and perpetrator of a drive-by on one of the most respected businessmen in Middle Tennessee. Armed with the intellect of a turnip and the ethics of a syphilitic rat, this moral cripple lied her way into an interview with Mr. Barrett and a tour of his plant. After two and a half hours of letting facts bounce off of her well-armored ignorance in much the same way that bullets from Barrett's rifles bounce off tanks, she repaired to her cave, whipped out her Ouiji Board, and channeled an article straight from the mind of Tom Diaz, an article that would have done Joseph Goebbels proud.

Anyhow, I come here not to bury French, but to praise Barrett.

This is a guy who has never flinched from the Meejia. When Ms. French attempted homicide, he didn't roll over and show his belly in a craven attempt to demonstrate what a nice guy he was; he counterattacked. When the public overlords in California banned their serfs from owning his weapons, Barrett retaliated by refusing to sell to government agencies in CA, and mentions that fact in his advertisements. When the LAPD sent their M-82 to Barrett for servicing, he publicly refused to fix it, or to ship it back, telling them that if they wanted their damn broken gun back, they could send someone to pick it up. Here is a guy who instinctively knows that The Good Guys aren't going to win by waving flintlock muskets; Ronnie would have waved an M-82.

Folks have sometimes expressed astonishment that we use big ol' pictures of M4's on our billboards and actively pimp machine guns in our TV ads; what they don't understand is that nobody ever won a war by bending over backwards to make their enemies feel comfortable.

(SayUncle has point on this story.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Politics: Those who do not learn from the past...

The Munchkin Wrangler reminds us that Kipling is still relevant:

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name.

He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms —- arms we may not bear.

He shall break his judges if they cross his word;
He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

From Kipling's wonderful (and amazingly applicable) "The Old Issue".

(With a nod and a tip of the baseball cap to Marko.)

Boomsticks: I feel cheated.

While our Drill Team Garands were arguably cooler, they weren't so much with teaching us their maintenance or their operation (much beyond "Inspection Arms", at least.) These kids, on the other hand, are obviously having big, dirty fun. What a rip.
(H/T to Kit at Forever Vain.)

Boomsticks: An industry insider looks at the Joint Combat Pistol.

The internet gunblogging community is ablaze with speculation on the new "Joint Combat Pistol" requirement tendered by the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Let me go ahead and tender a few thoughts based on my experience in this industry:

1) When we grow up, we are said to become our parents; SOCOM has become the Big Army it was intended to circumvent.

When folks hear that there's to be a new SOCOM pistol, their thoughts turn to images of SFOD-Delta door-kickers crashing through Al Qaeda hideouts with handguns drawn, or DevGroup guys taking down oil platforms held by tangos. What they forget is that SOCOM has become so huge that the primary users of a new SOCOM sidearm are going to be 160th SOAR pilots and mortarmen in the 75th Ranger regiment. These are the kind of users that caused the military to start looking for a double-action pistol in the first place, back in the dark ages of the Viet Nam conflict, when draftees were poking holes in themselves with alarming regularity using the non-decocker-equipped single-action M1911A1. The requirements are set up to yield a pistol with least-common-denominator controls for idiot-resistant safety, yet one that still packs a .45 ACP wallop and can mount a flashlight for use by the door-kickers.

2) Some Ordinance Wonks wrote these specs.

No trigger-puller I know insists on a DA/SA or DAO trigger mechanism. More importantly, not one single snake-eater of my acquaintance has ever mused "You know, I wish our weapons had built-in Microsoft-compatible shot counters." These specs reek of the slide-rule toters who have brought us such previous flops as the HK Mk. 23 "Crew-Served Handgun", the OICW, and the XM8. Every interesting development in US military small arms technology in the last decade has come from small units thinking (and buying) outside the box: NAVSPECWAR getting tiny ammo company Black Hills to develop the Mk. 262 5.56mm load, or USMC Det One taking a purchase order to Kimber for some off-the-rack "Interim CQB" pistols that are now better known as Kimber's "Warrior" line.

3) It ain't gonna be a Glock.

US service pistols need to be domestically-made, if Congressmen want to keep their jobs. SIG, FN, HK, and Beretta all have plants here, and have profited thereby. Gaston Glock, on the other hand, won't license production of his gat, and has shown no desire to build a plant in the US. That, and the Ordnance Establishment loves hammers on pistols the way sixteen-year-old guys love Camaros; they may not be able to articulate why, but they know they're super-bichen.

4) It won't be a ParaOrd.

Spotty QC and fragile lockwork, plus the fact that they've never even had a large LE contract, let alone a zillion-pistol military deal pretty much rules this one out. (...and good riddance.)

I'll lay a wager right now: If a ParaOrd LDA is submitted, wins, and is made general issue to SOCOM troopies, I'll shoot a mag through our Uzi on lane 10, buck nekkid'. I'll even allow cameras.

5) HK and SIG's Jobs Program.

HK and SIG have long considered USSOCOM as their private playground and advertising cash cow. It's no coincidence that SIG hired Matt McClearn and rumors of an HK 1911 started circulating right after there was chatter about NAVSPECWAR floating a potential 1911 contract last year. They will do whatever they need to do to keep their toe in this market, to the delight of Counterstrike Kiddies everywhere.

6) My fearless prediction is:

Most likely? A DAK P-220R ST. Second most likely? A .45 variant of the P-2000/3000, or just a plain ol' USP-45. Dark horse? Ruger's tasted the first hint of FedGov contract success since being snubbed in the Eighties. Perhaps some variant of the P-345? (Rugers are more mechanically accurate than most folks give them credit for.)

The toes of mortarmen in the 75th should be safe if this pistol ever becomes reality.

[EDIT: Much hoohah is being made over the accuracy requirement, without mention of the "out" given by the "Baseline Accuracy" bit.

"3.2.2. Accuracy. When fired from a rest, at a range of 50 meters, the mean radius of a 10-shot group fired from the JCP shall not be greater than A) 3.15 inches or B)1.8 inches over baseline ammunition performance, whichever is less (T). Baseline ammunition performance is defined as the average mean radius plus two sample standard deviations of three 10-shot groups fired from a test barrel at 50m."

Anyone who remembers the RFP that gave FBI SWAT the Springer Pro will remember Wilson's complaint that the accuracy demand the FBI issued with 230gr Golden Saber was only 1/2 inch better than the round would do out of a barrel fixture.]