Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Problem Solved?

I had a suspicion from something I read in this article by David Merrill that the off-center light strike problem in the G39 was caused by the recoil spring not being able to overcome the striker spring if the slide closed while the trigger was still to the rear. This issue in the Glock 32 and 20 was solved with heavier recoil springs able to close the slide with more force, but that solution is more difficult with the subcompacts.

So I tried coming at it from the other end by installing a lightened striker spring.

For the first time since I got it, the gun ran through a box of fifty rounds without a hitch, even when I pinned the trigger in an attempt to provoke the out-of-battery off-center light strike problem.

I'm cautiously optimistic and plan on running another couple boxes through to check.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A pox on Ian Fleming and Eon Productions.

Relics

The American mall continues its death spiral.

Specialty retail still has a niche, I think, but the department store is going the way of the dinosaur, it looks like, with the big box Martmarts and Amazon fighting over the carcass. Without department stores, you don't get the foot traffic that keeps the little specialty retailers and food court shops open.

What goes in those spaces?

We already had our nearest mall die. Glendale Town Center went through the entire cycle of opening as an open-air shopping center, being converted to an enclosed mall, and having the mall demolished and being converted back into an open air shopping center. The super Target and the Lowe's are thriving there, but I don't know how much longer that particular Macy's is for this world.

Muzzle Blasts

Last Tuesday's project was to expose the Surefire XC1-B to some muzzle blast and recoil. I put some clear tape over the lens, but it was blown off with the first shot even though I'd taken pains to make the side toward the muzzle as flush-fitting as possible.

Fortunately, the position of the lens doesn't appear to accumulate much cack. I'll fall back to the old trick of a smear of Vaseline or similar for long range sessions, and then wipe it off afterward.

While I was there, the Smith 745 got a box of Armscor 230gr FMJ through it, just for fun. I heart this gun rather a lot, even if I did have to tighten the grip screws when I got home. Fortunately, I keep one of these on my desk. (I can't believe those are bringing thirty bucks now. Of course, if we hadn't pitched so many of them back in the day, they wouldn't be, so...)

Shooting the 32 fast is rather harder than shooting the 19 at speed. I feel like I'm wrestling the gun more. To get a scattering of holes like that with the 9mm Gen4 19 I carry, I'd be shooting at a wheels-coming-off pace, whereas this was probably mostly done at a .4-.6 clip? Anyway, the flashlight still works, the Apex trigger is still too fat for my tastes, and I still like the Trijicon HD XR sights. (Enough so that I want to get a set for my carry gun.)

Also, this recoil spring is starting to close the slide a little sluggishly, especially when having to fight the striker. The 20# CrSi IMSI recoil spring has 2,070 rounds on it. I may replace it to see what effect that has.
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Monday, December 11, 2017

The last warm day...

Monday last week was sixty degrees and sunny, most likely the last day of its type until late March unless we get some truly unseasonable weather. I drove up north and got in one last fair-weather outdoor range trip with Mike Grasso out at Atlanta Conservation Club.

I finally got to run some ammo through that Grayguns-built HK P7M8 longslide. It shoots exactly like you'd think it would: Like magic.

I had some leftover 9mm ammo with my, ten rounds of Estate 115gr FMJ and eight Speer 124gr +P GDHP. Mike was burning up some surplus Winchester Ranger and so I fired eleven rounds of that, which meant a total of 29 more rounds through the CZ.

I also function tested the Smith & Wesson 745 to the tune of 40 rounds of 230gr Winchester White Box FMJ. It ran fine, too.

I'm pretty pleased with the way that CZ 75 is running.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1159 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 841 rounds to go.
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Actual Improvement.

When Surefire first started shipping their original XC1, I was completely uninterested. At 200 lumens, it was almost twice as bright as its closest competition in the low-profile CCW weaponlight category, Crimson Trace's LightGuard, but the switchology on the thing was a complete soup sandwich.

The rocker switch on the back of the light was momentary only; for constant-on, you needed to manipulate a little nubbin of a crossbolt-style switch on the light body.

Well, Surefire has fixed that with the new XC1-B, thankfully.

For starters, it's now putting out 300 lumens from a single AAA cell. That's as much as the TLR-1s I used in the Pistol Shoothouse class back in '15, albeit in a much tinier package.

The switchgear is upgraded as well. The rocker on the back can be tapped for on/off or push and hold to use it as a momentary. The crossbolt is still there to serve as a positive on-off.

These two upgrades transform the light from one that seemed kind of pointless into one that is a lot more viable. It's small enough that it adds no meaningful bulk to make concealed carry more challenging, the switchology is 30% less dumb, and it's bright enough to be reasonably useful. It's on the .357SIG compact to see how it responds to muzzle blast. I'll report back after I've got more than the one box of Speer GDHP warshots through the thing.

I would personally probably rather accept the challenges of carrying a regular WML, were I to decide to CCW a light-bearing gun again, but I wouldn't give someone side-eye for using this one, the way I would have the original.
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Intent...

Huck is debating whether he wants to fight the proffered pencil or not. Spoiler alert: Yes.

Shot with the Olympus Pen E-P1 and the excellent little Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, which I heart rather a lot. It's a stupid good portrait lens for the price.
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Friday, December 08, 2017

Blah.

This is the Monday-est Friday I've ever experienced. Getting out of bed was a mistake.

Incidentally, a friend went to purchase one of those Empire Strikes Back coats six minutes after they went on sale, and they were all sold out. My friend did report that you can find them on eBay now for 200%+ of the original selling price.

There's a pimp-slap from the Invisible Hand in there someplace.
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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Fair Market Value ≠ The Most You, Personally, Will Pay

I've seen whining around the 'nets about the price tags of things like Columbia's Empire Strikes Back repro coats and the forthcoming CMP M1911A1 surplus pistols. People are in full "REEEEEEEEEE!" mode, demanding that these prices should be set at a "fair market value".

I will point out that both these things will sell out with a quickness. (The Star Wars coats likely within hours*.)

I will further point out that there is a limit to the number of units an individual customer may purchase, in order to keep them from selling out too quickly. This is, if anything, an indication that an item is priced below fair market value, since otherwise someone would buy the lot and sell them at the actual market value on eBay or Gunbroker.

The irony is that this is the same half of the political spectrum who can expound at length on market theory and price signalling whenever the topic is minimum wage or anti-gouging laws. Let the topic of discussion be a tchotchke they desire, however, instead of a generator or an hour of a teenager's time, suddenly we're all about some reasonable restrictions on capitalism.
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*EDIT: The Star Wars coats sold out in minutes, and were promptly selling on eBay for better than double MSRP.

"I'll stay here in the van while Jim poses that tame puma."

Apparently some of the wildlife you see in photos isn't all that wild...
" Audubon has sent me to lots of wild places over the past 31 years, but I’d seen only one wolf and three cougars (a litter) until December 8, 2009. On that day, before noon in the Glacier National Park ecosystem of northwestern Montana, I encountered not just one wolf but two and not just one cougar but two! What were the chances of that?

Well, they were 100 percent, because I’d rented the animals for a photo shoot.
"
I'll admit, that'd still be a super-fun photo session. 
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Overheard in Front of the Television...

RX: "I don't like that dress she's wearing."

Me: "I dunno, I think it's pretty cool if you have the figure for it, and she does."

RX: "It's unprofessional. She's supposed to be a journalist!"

Me: "Now she's a morning talk show hostess. This is the new warm-'n'-cuddly Megyn Kelly."

RX: "Isn't cuddling why she left Fox News?"

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Good Guys Win!

So, archives of my "Good Guys Win" column from S.W.A.T. Magazine are up on the magazine's website now.

They've also got a ton of content up dating back to the early Aughties, including Tom Givens' great review of the Taurus Judge and apparently some dude wrote a review of the Louis Awerbuck pistol class I took back in '08, complete with a picture of Shootin' Buddy.
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Monday, December 04, 2017

Radar Rider



Speaking of space stuff, Elon Musk is going to attempt to launch his Tesla Roadster into Mars orbit with the Falcon Heavy test launch in January.

He says that, if successful, it will just remain in space forever and ever. I'm not buying it. If you look at the attached video, I think we can see what he really intends to do with a sports car in orbit around the Red Planet.

And wouldn't you, if you had the dough to get up to awesome Tony Stark antics like this?
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Well...

Outside of a good range trip and some coffee & gun talk, it was pretty Monday out today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Good Neighboring ProTip:

I grew up in a SciFi dystopia...

...and I didn't even know it.

Well, to be fair, it was before it had appeared in quite so many movies.

The architecture was such that among my friends we had pet nicknames for certain landmark buildings. For example Bank of America Plaza (née C&S Tower) was "The Blade Runner building", for its internally-lit spire of open girders, while 191 Peachtree Tower was "The Batman building" because the two columnar structures atop it seemed ideal for a climactic punchout scene between the Dark Knight and Joker. SunTrust Plaza was "The Q-bert building".

The traffic was already pretty dystopian, though.
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Friday Range Day

Friday's range trip burned up the last hundred rounds of this lot of TulAmmo I had on hand.

I ran the target out to seven yards and broke the range speed limit pretty badly on the 8" circle, but kept it down to a dull roar on the 3x5". I'm starting to get the hang of the trigger on this thing.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1130 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 870 rounds to go.
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Earworm...

A friend was playing the new Tay Sway album while we were on vacation a couple weeks ago and I somehow caught this crazy persistent earworm from it...

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Reliability

I once had a '75 Ford Granada coupe that I was trying to kill. Well, not "kill", per se, but I had resolved to not interfere with its process of dying.

The transmission, a three-speed slushbox, had started slipping dramatically pulling away from stoplights and I just didn't feel like dumping any more money into a high-mileage car that I'd paid a couple hundred dollars for.

When I moved in with a boyfriend back in the early '90s, the car sat, parked and unloved, out front while I drove his spare car. I hadn't changed the Granada's oil or done a lick of maintenance to the thing for probably six months before I parked it.

When I moved out and needed some spare dough, I sold the car to his neighbor across the street for exactly what I had bought it for. I assumed the old guy would need help pushing it into his driveway. Instead, I handed him the key, he hopped in, and that old 250c.i.d. straight six turned right over, caught on the first try, and the car lurched right into its new home with only the normal amount of groaning and clunking.

Thirteen billion miles from Earth is another piece of human machinery of about the same vintage as that '75 Ford. This one is a '77 JPL, and NASA scientists recently wanted to reorient it so the big antenna would point back toward Earth. Unfortunately the maneuvering jets on Voyager 1 have seen a lot of use and are pretty worn out.

They had another option though: V'ger has a set of rockets on its backside called Trajectory Correction Maneuver thrusters. The only problem was that the TCM's hadn't been run in...oh, over thirty times as long as my Granada sat parked in front of my ex's place. Further, as bad as the near south side of Atlanta can be, the environment out past the heliopause is even harsher.

Nevertheless, when they went to start up those hydrazine rocket motors that had sat dormant since I was in middle school, they cranked right up on the first try and the Voyager 1 spacecraft groaned and clunked and lurched right into its new orientation. (Or it would have groaned and clunked if there was atmosphere for sound to travel through and it had a slipping Ford C4 gearbox.)

I have seen this happen...

“Am I buying the right gun?” freezes up more first-time gun buyers than anything else. They know they don’t know exactly what makes a good first gun, and when faced with dozens and dozens of choices (and probably some really bad advice from gun store clerks), they go into vapor lock, succumb to analysis paralysis and then require extensive hand-holding and guidance in order to make a purchase.
Resist the urge for your gun store to try and have every style of every brand in every price range. You can't, anyway.
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Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #168...

Chugging right along...

Thursday afternoon saw me at Indy Arms Co with two hundred rounds of TulAmmo and the See Zed.

The range was crowded, so I basically loaded and fired about as quickly as I thought I could get away with it. Big, long strings of fire, up to and including mag dumps, are a lot more controllable with the VZ Frag grips as opposed to the stock plastic. Recommend.

There were no malfunctions of any kind to report.

This makes 1030 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 970 rounds to go.
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Friday, December 01, 2017

I used to think folding shotgun stocks were cool...

...until I actually started shooting shotguns much.

Testing, testing, two, three, four...

Back in October, I intended to do the shooting portions of ECQC with my carry gun, a Glock 19 Gen4. In the first string of fire, I remembered just how much of this course was shot from the Two...

You'll see that Craig has a good mechanical index there, with his elbow up, a locked wrist, and his strong-hand thumb flagged along his pectoral muscle. (Sharp-eyed folks who enlarge the picture will notice the bullet impact, the spent case, and the shadow of the spent case on the target.)

When I do that with my Glock 19 carry gun, the muzzle line is...slightly behind the parts of me that are farthest forward. Now, this is not a safety problem as there is rather a lot of horizontal offset, but still, I had a longer-barreled Glock 17 in my range bag and a couple hundred rounds of muzzle blast over the course of two mornings' worth of shooting...

So I swapped over to my Gen2 17.

Now, that 17 hadn't been cleaned in...I'm not opening my spreadsheet to check, but it may be as much as 3,000 rounds. More importantly, it hadn't been lubed probably since I shot it in that Tom Givens class more than a year ago. So the gun was drier than a popcorn fart and pretty dirty, and I was shooting it in the blowing grit on a range in the high desert, in a one-handed hold that I don't practice near as much as I should...

On top of it, I blew off shipping ammunition out to New Mexico, and so the night before class, we hit a seedy gun shop in Albuquerque and I picked up a few hundred rounds: A couple boxes of Estate brand 9mm 115gr FMJ and the balance in Independence 115gr FMJ. I had no idea that, in addition to lousy shotgun ammo, Estate also loaded awful pistol ammo, but they do.

So...combine the gun being drier than a popcorn fart, uncleaned for almost 3000 rounds, blowing New Mexico grit, weaksauce 115gr range ammo, and all that shooting from Two, and I had probably nine or ten FTFs in only 275 rounds.

I held some of the Estate and Independence out from the class to do chrono testing when I got home and, in addition, the Atomic Nerds sent along ten rounds of the 9x19mm Georgia Arms "Canned Heat" remanufactured ammo they'd been shooting, just out of curiosity.

Tuesday morning I took this motley assortment of ammo, along with fifty rounds of Federal Premium 124gr +P HST and a hundred and fifty rounds of Winchester 124gr "NATO" FMJ, down to Marion County Fish & Game to do some chrono testing.

At ten til eleven on a Tuesday, I had the entire facility to myself.

Here are the numbers:
Estate 115gr FMJ
LO: 1148
HI: 1189
AV: 1174
ES: 40.75
SD: 14.38
On the weak side for 115gr FMJ, but so is most cheap plinking ammo these days...
Independence 115gr FMJ
LO: 1127
HI: 1172
AV: 1158
ES: 45.01
SD: 14.14
I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that the Independence had more ass behind it than the Estate, but there you go. Both are still pretty marginal. Now let's look at the remaufactured Georgia Arms stuff...
Georgia Arms 115gr FMJ
LO: 1174
HI: 1237
AV: 1215
ES: 62.94
SD: 17.52
Definitely hotter, but more erratic than either of the factory new loads. Incidentally, with the rounds sitting nose-down in the "egg carton" cartridge tray in the box, you could tell that bullet seating depth was pretty variable.

And the factory new stuff I had along for the test? Well, the Winchester Q4318 performed like it usually does.
Winchester 124gr FMJ "NATO"
LO: 1135
HI: 1198
AV: 1178
ES: 63.27
SD: 20.73
Even more erratic in velocity than the Georgia Arms reloads. I wish I were surprised.

Finally the Federal Premium 124gr +P HST hollowpoints...
LO: 1213
HI: 1253
AV: 1227
ES: 40.60
SD: 13.67
Had to snug the left grip screw down. It hasn't loosened since.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 830 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1170 rounds to go.
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

If schadenfreude had calories, I'd weigh 500 lbs.

A wee dram...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Tomorrow: yesterday on TODAY!"

First the TODAY show gets saddled with Megyn Kelly, who drags the 0900-1000 slot down, trying to play warm and charming variety talk show host.

I didn't know I could feel sorry for Kathy Lee Gifford, and yet I do, because I can't imagine many people sit all the way through Megyn's forced and awkward hour to get to Kathy Lee and Hoda's 1000-1100.

Now we find that there was a reason I've picked up a creepy vibe from Matt Lauer for all these years. I can't believe the dude was pulling down $25M/yr....as much as the rest of the cast...unless he had pictures of a senior exec doing something unsavory with a barnyard animal.

Given the nature of his work, who his employer is, and the fact that we're talking a contracted salaried employee making eight figures a year, this was not just water cooler rumors and innuendo that got him binned. They didn't move unless the risks of not moving were worse than the risks of firing him. They know what kind of lawyers Lauer can afford.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Since I already had the one magazine loaded...

Yesterday morning saw me at Indy Arms Co with two boxes of TulAmmo plus the extra magazine I'd forgotten at home on Friday.

Since I had the range to myself, being the first customer of the day, I violated the range speed limit pretty badly, trying to push for some speed on the lower A-zone. This is going to take some work.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 600 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1400 rounds to go.
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Wowww! Woauuughh! Woe!


Rannie has been roaming the hall and singing the mouse baby song for over five minutes straight. It's got to burn calories for something that small to make sounds that loud.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

New holster from Raven Concealment...

It's time again...

...for my annual Cyber Monday rant, where I ask "How is this even a thing anymore?"

See, twenty years ago, when everybody was on dialup, nobody bought anything online on Black Friday, The Biggest Retail Shopping Day of the Year, because they were all out shopping in meatspace. Even if they'd been at home, they would have had to fight to use the lone dialup connection since the kids were out of school and playing Ultima Online and dad was home from work and patiently waiting to download some porn.

The reasoning behind "Cyber Monday" was already waning in relevance when this was the new hotness.
But when you went back to work on Monday, you could screw off at your desk for a couple hours and use that big ol' T1 fat pipe internet connection to get some quality shopping in at boo.com and Pets.com and all the other .coms that are no longer with us except for Amazon.com.

Nowadays you have a broadband internet connection in your pocket and could theoretically be using it to shop while you're standing in line out front of Mart-Mart on Thanksgiving afternoon waiting for those Black Friday door-busters. So why is "Cyber Monday" even still a thing?

That said, here are some of the ads clogging my inbox this morning:
  • Sig Sauer has 25% off...well, almost everything, it looks like.

  • VZ Grips has 20% off today.

  • KEH Camera Brokers has $50 off if you spend $300+, $100 off if you spend $600+, and $200 off if you spend $1000+. Discount code is "CYBER17E".

  • Maxpedition has a BOGO sale on all Legacy Series backpacks, bags, and accessories. (I have been using the Fliegerduffel suitcase Shootin' Buddy gave me for years now. Recommend.)


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Falling just short of 500...

So I decided to take my chances with a potentially crowded range on Friday morning. To minimize time in the crowd, I loaded up a box of TulAmmo 115gr ball into three magazines before I left the house (I have the one 18-round magazine that came with the pistol and a pair of Mec-Gar 17-rounders I bought separately.)

I was curious to see how this lot of lightly-loaded TulAmmo would function the gun. This is, after all, the stuff that was having a hard time cycling the P30L.

When I got to the range I discovered that I had tucked two loaded magazines in the case with the pistol and left the third sitting on my desk at home. So it was just going to be 33 rounds of the TulAmmo and a box of Winchester NATO FMJ, then.

Shooting at the 3/4 scale IDPA target, the upper -0 area is the TulAmmo at five yards and the lower -0 is a box of Winchester at seven.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 483 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1517 rounds to go.
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Four hundred down...

Wednesday's trip to the range involved loading up three mags at home and then having another box of the Winchester 124gr NATO along, for a total of 100 rounds.

Weird issue with the 17-round Mec-Gars, where the first two rounds don't shift as the mag gets loaded and remain one vertically atop the other, instead of staggered side-by-side. See how there's brass visible in the "17" witness hole, but there are only sixteen rounds out of the box?

I have only documented this occurring with the magazine I have numbered "3" on the baseplate, but I'll be looking for it in the future.

I was in a hurry, so I just dumped mags into the target from seven yards.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 400 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1600 rounds to go.
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Friday, November 24, 2017

'Nother Black Friday weekend sale...

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #167...

The test gun is now wearing VZ "Frag" grips in black & gray*. The little diamonds on the plastic grips were sharp enough to be annoying, at least to the heel of my weak hand. These give even greater grip without any pain. It doesn't hurt that they'e good-looking, either.

*Which I bought at retail from VZ's web store because I didn't know that Amazon sold them for the same price (and they were Prime-eligible from there! See link above.)
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More Sales...

Black Friday stuff from my in-box...

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving.

Y'all know who you are. I'm thankful for you.
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Overheard in the Office...

Me (talking aloud to computer screen): "Do you often find yourself surrounded by a bunch of people and they're all laughing and you don't know why they're laughing? See, on Earth, we have these things called humans, and humans have this thing called humor. Humor is often caused by a discordance between what is expected and what actually happens; we laugh at our discomfort or conf...wait, why am I wasting my time explaining this to you? Go choke yourself."

You could write a bot to post for them.

Straight Talk

If you or any of your friends or loved ones are using this dumpster fire of a "holster", please read and share with them this excellent review by Annette Evans.
"I absolutely cannot recommend this product. In fact, I would encourage anybody currently using the Lethal Lace product to stop using it immediately and replace it with a safer option right away.

Let me tell you why.

The basic functions of a holster are to hold a handgun securely including protecting the trigger, conceal the handgun comfortably, and keep the handgun in a position that allows it to be accessed and used if and when necessary.

Lethal Lace fails every one of these criteria to varying degrees.
"



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hey, look!

More words at Shooting Illustrated.
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Range Time Again

Yesterday morning featured a quick range visit at Indy Arms Co with a hundred rounds of Winchester 124gr "NATO" FMJ. The cerakote is unmarred; that's just schmutz oozing out from the frame rails.

I was in a hurry, so this was just stuffing rounds into mags and burning them downrange in mag dumps.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 300 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1700 rounds to go.
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Overheard in the Office

As linked by Unc, some dude in England had his undercover gun stash exposed to the po-po when his house caught fire. Seems the firefighters putting it out caught sight of his gats and all those burly hose-draggers no doubt had to retreat to the fainting couch having been exposed to deadly gun radiation.

Bobbi is perusing the photos of the inevitable junk-on-the-bunk display at her desk...

RX: "Nice looking Sten!"

Me: "You know, I'm not sure I've ever heard those words used in that particular sequence before."


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It's pretty obscure; you've probably never heard of it.

Mirrorless Musings...

So, it's been coming up on a decade now since modern, mainstream Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras made their debut. Countless pixels have been slaughtered over when they'll completely replace DSLRs, but I think we're a long way from that day, especially for professional and advanced hobbyist use.

I do think that they will continue to erode the sales of low- and midrange APS-C DSLRs, but a savvy consumer (or at least one well-educated by a good sales clerk) understands that buying that cheap Nikon or Canon DSLR with its janky kit zoom lens gives you a camera body that can use a huge variety of lenses. On the Nikon side, the narstiest plasticky entry-level D3400 can use pretty much any Nikon F-mount lens going back to the late Seventies, or even earlier if the lens has been altered to work with newer cameras.

This means that the DSLR still has the advantages of a vast lens library and if you decide to get more serious and buy a higher end prosumer or pro-grade camera, you don't have to pitch your lenses and start over. (Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but we'll talk about full-frame vs. crop-sensor/FX vs. DX/EF vs. EF-S issues in a later post.)

At least two Mirrorless systems are starting to catch up in terms of lens availability, though. There are a huge number of Micro Four Thirds lenses out there, and Sony's E-mount is to the point where there's a pretty respectable lens variety for both crop-sensor and full-frame offerings.

It's interesting looking at the variety of directions different manufacturers have taken with MILCs. The Micro Four Thirds offerings from Olympus and the mid- and upper-end Sonys are very photography-hobbyist oriented, with a ton of manual control available over the picture-taking process and the buttons and dials to go with it.

These are aimed at the photographer who just doesn't want to carry a big camera around with them, and they further leverage the small sensor size to allow them to use physically smaller lenses. I've got a Panasonic Lumix 40-200 zoom here...that's an 80-400mm in 35mm terms...that's the size of the 24-70mm f/4 on my full-frame A7. Bigger sensors need bigger glass.

Nikon's MILCs are aimed very differently. Obviously worried about pillaging sales of its own low-end DSLRs, the Nikon 1 series it marketed toward people who were looking to step up from a compact camera to something with interchangeable lenses, but didn't want to be bothered with knobs and dials and settings and such. Sales have understandably been tepid, and first gen cameras and lenses are at giveaway prices on the used market.

Canon is...I don't know what Canon is trying to do with the EOS M. Like Nikon, they are obviously loathe to poach sales of their own EOS Rebel entry-level DSLRs, so they initially launched a largely button'n'dial-less offering. However, succeeding models were offered with more controls and bigger numbers on the price tag, essentially becoming slightly smaller Rebels, only more expensive and without as many lenses available. Which may explain why I don't think I've yet seen one in the wild. Maybe they're popular in Japan?

Since it's winter and I have big coat pockets available, I'm happy to toss an Olympus PEN E-P5 in a coat pocket as my walking-around camera. Sure, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is small when compared to an APS-C or Full Frame, but it's positively ginormous when compared to the tiny sensor on my usual Ricoh GXR pocket cam.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Tale of Two Sonys...

Sony Mavica FD-88, a 1999-vintage 1.3 Megapixel camera with a 1/3" CCD sensor (Actual dimensions and explanation here.) Shooting in the highest resolution mode, you got three images like the above on a 3.5" floppy drive, and it takes a couple seconds of gronking and chortling to write to the disc after each shot.

Sony A7, a 2013-vintage 24.1MP full-frame mirrorless camera, with a sensor the same size as a 35mm negative. The A7 had an MSRP of $1699* when it came out, which is considerably more than the $999 the Mavica cost, and the A7's price is just for the camera body, so figure another few hundred for even a basic 50mm prime lens. Then again, the FD-88's price was in great big 1999 dollars and not tiny little 2013 ones...

Of course, the differences amount to a lot more than just the pixel count on the sensor.

*They just released the latest A7R III, which means that new old stock A7's are about the cheapest way into full frame these days...
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Range Trip No.2

So, after the last range trip with the CZ75, vacation intervened and the gun sat unused either locked in the trunk of the Zed Drei or cased up in my room at the cabin until Friday, when I got it to the range along with a hundred rounds of Winchester NATO 124gr FMJ.

Fifty rounds in the 8" circle, not really pushing speed, but fast-ish. Then a magazine of eighteen rounds fired at the 3x5, still at seven yards. Then a mag of fifteen rounds at the three 2" circles, again still at seven yards, shooting right-left-middle DA/SA/SA for five reps. Then I brought it back in to three yards and ran a magazine of seventeen rounds, shooting DA from the press-out at the 2" circle in the top right followed by a single action shot on the 1" square above it, repeated until I was out of BBs.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 200 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1800 rounds to go.
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

The dude literally cannot keep his mouth shut.


Not trending on Twitter this morning? Worried people might start thinking you're a little low energy, a little sad?

Hey, I know! Why not try and remind everybody about the awkward allegations of Campaign '16? Can't let Al and Roy grab all the squicky headlines, now.
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Next test is underway...

Coming off the DA/SA HK P30L test, I figured I'd stick with a theme and try the CZ75. My local gun store, Indy Arms Co, had a used CZ75 in the showcase. specifically a CZ 75 B Ω Urban Grey Suppressor-Ready version. Actually, like most "used" guns it was more "pre-owned" than "used". Does anybody actually shoot their pistols? Judging from the almost total lack of wear on the various bearing surfaces, if this thing had more than a couple boxes of ammo through it, I'd be shocked.


On Monday the 6th, I field-stripped the pistol, lubed it to spec with Lucas Oil Extreme Duty Gun Oil, and took it to the range, where I purchased a box of Winchester 124gr "NATO" FMJ and a box of Sellier & Bellot 115gr FMJ.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 100 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1900 rounds to go.
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Spelling is tricky...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

I can't believe I stuck the landing on "Lacedaemonian" on the first try, but flubbed "Amenhotep". Too much Tolkien probably causes me to get my Egyptian and Sindarin confused.
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Today's No Context Required Quote...

"I keep getting the government my next door neighbor deserves." -Me on the Bookface

Double Standards?

What I found interesting was how many of my internet acquaintances... the same ones who lose their minds if a model in an ad has her finger on the trigger or some n00b makes the grievous error of calling a magazine a "clip" in earshot...were absolutely silent when Roy Moore whipped a J-frame out of his pocket, handling it like a can of corn, and then muzzled the entire audience stuffing it back in his trousers.
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Seems legit...

"Dear Costumer..."

I'm surprised they didn't ask me to do the needful and send bobs and vagene while they were at it.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Home Again, Home Again...

A much needed vacation in a cabin in the Smokies with a few friends. I didn't do anything remotely work-like after the first day, either.

Since writing is work now, that meant I kinda neglected the blog, so... sorry-not-sorry?

Also, after four full days of low-level debauchery, half-assing my carb counting, and way overshooting my daily calorie budgets, I only gained six tenths of a pound, and that's not enough to be worrisome. It'll be gone in no time.

Anyway, home and back to the keyboard.
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Other things I did.

I learned how to play two fun new party games yesterday.

First, I was secretly Hitler and managed to get elected Chancellor!

Then I built amazing monsters to destroy armies of babies!
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The only way I could feel like this...

...would be if I stayed up until 4AM sipping bourbon in a hot tub on a balcony in the mountains.
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Still cracks me up...


Thin Yellow Line o' Heroes...

So, first were the "blue line" license plates and bumper stickers sported by the po-po. When I saw red ones, I knew that hose-draggers decided that they wanted a little signifier, too. Then came the green line, for deer cops and tree police.

When I saw the yellow line license plate, I was stumped, until the car it was on turned and I saw that the Crown Vic with the light bar and antenna farm was not, in fact, the IMPD, but rather was operated by a private security company.

So the yellow line represents the thin yellow line of heroes standing between civilization and higher retail prices caused by shoplifting and skateboarding on the sidewalk. We finally have a way to acknowledge the selfless service of the rent-a-cops, the mall ninjas, the brave men and women of loss prevention.

This is getting wack.
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Ugh.

My email inbox is a horror show. There's still stuff in there from the last week or so in New Mexico that I haven't dealt with.

No matter how much I pretend it's not there, it keeps not answering itself.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A fun project...

Almost all the the photos I posted on this blog from its inception until the middle of 2011 were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 that was a hand-me-down from Oleg. He asked, just before SHOT Show this year, if I still had it. When I answered in the affirmative, he asked if I wouldn't mind letting him have it back so that he could see what kind of pictures he could make with it now, versus the ones he took more than fifteen years ago, when it was one of his first forays into digital.

That gave me an idea. The camera I had before Oleg gifted me that Nikon 990 was a Sony Mavica FD-88. I handed it on to Marko, and it's long gone, but it wasn't too hard to track one down...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

These were taken with the Mavica back in the day...


I wonder what I could do with it now?
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Using vs. Collecting

This post about de-cluttering one's photographic gear resonated, especially since I'm in the process of paring down a couple decades' accumulation of old military rifles for very similar reasons. I don't shoot them and, in fact, I don't really have them stored in the sort of accessible fashion that allows me to really get them out and appreciate them, so I reckon it's time to get them back out into the marketplace and let them find homes where they will be loved appropriately.

In general, however, I don't really have a problem drawing a distinction between "using" guns and "collecting" guns. The former tend to need to justify their keep and I have minimal attachment to them as objects, while the latter don't have to be objectively useful to be appreciated. I give you exhibit A:
They don't even load .32 Rimfire anymore, but that's okay. All this gun needs to do to justify its existence is sit there and look pretty. Further, since it's over a hundred and fifty years old, I reckon it's probably already done plenty of shooting. With a durable artifact like this, I'm just a temporary custodian, holding on to it for the next person.

I still haven't put a roll of film through the IIIb, either, although I fully intend to. I'd like to do at least some shooting with a Barnack Leica, if only to say I have.
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Monday, November 06, 2017

It kinda grew on me...

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

The system uses a sort of "chassis" that has the screen and the controls and the battery/memory card compartment, and then has interchangeable modules that slide in and out. I'd originally had my interest piqued by a piece at Leicaphilia, where it was pointed out that with the module installed that accepts M-mount Leica lenses, this thing was a sort of modern day Minolta/Leica CL.

In the process of trying to track down one of the (now years discontinued) bodies and a Leica-mount sensor module, I wound up with two bodies and not only the M-mount module but one with a small sensor and a superzoom lens that could take over from where my dear departed Nikon P7000 left off.

In the picture are two chassis units and, from left to right, four lens/sensor modules.
  1. A module with an APS-C sensor and a 24-85mm f/3.5-5.5 zoom

  2. The Leica M-mount module, which has a 12MP APS-C sensor and is here wearing a 40mm f/1.4 Voigtlander Nokton

  3. The superzoom 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 module with a 1/2.3" 10MP CMOS sensor

  4. A 24-72mm f/2.5-4.4 zoom lens on a 1/1.7" 10MP CCD sensor

Heckler & Koch P30L 2000-rd wrapup, part 1...

To wrap up the 2,000-round test with the Heckler & Koch P30L, I dropped in at the local indoor range on Thursday with a fifty-round box of Federal Premium 124gr +P HST, which is my preferred carry load in Federal Ammo, and is pretty much a coin flip with Speer's 124gr +P GDHP in terms of proven effectiveness.

In order to finish out the two thousand round test, I bought three fifty round boxes of 9mm FMJ ammo from the range: One box of Aguila 124gr ball, one of Winchester 124gr "NATO", and one of Armscor 147gr subsonic.

The Aguila ran fine, and I used it to shoot the 1" and 2" targets in the top right corner, first shot double-action from the low ready on the 2" circle and then transition to a single shot on the 1" square. Lather, rinse, repeat 24 more times until the box of ammo is gone...

Next was the Winchester 124gr "NATO" and the Armscor 147gr FMJ shot at the lower 8" circle at about a half-second pace. It was with the Armscor subsonic that some problems cropped up...

Out of the fifty round box, I was greeted by this sight six times, with only the angle of the spent case varying. It didn't matter how firmly I clamped the gun (and as softly as these rounds were recoiling, it wasn't hard to grip hard enough to nearly eliminate muzzle flip.)

Spent Armscor brass litters the tray in lane six, from where it had dribbled out of the ejection port, instead of flying over my right shoulder as is proper for spent brass from this pistol. So, I don't know whether it's just this lot specifically or if all Armscor 147gr is complete weaksauce, but I wouldn't run it in this pistol.

The 1-inch square and 2-inch circle at top right were shot at a leisurely pace from the 3-yard line by presenting from the low ready and firing double-action at the 2" circle and then transitioning to a single-action shot on the 1" square. The upper 3x5 box was the HST at five yards, and the 8" circle is a hundred rounds fired at a .5 or so pace at seven.

The HK P30L has now fired 2000 rounds since it was last cleaned or lubricated with ten failures to eject (#1,568, #1,578, #1,606, #1,750, #1,965, #1,972, #1,980, #1,985, #1,988, #1,998) and one failure to feed (#1,664). This concludes the 2,000 round test. Stay tuned for dirty gun pics and a summary post.
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