Sunday, December 17, 2017

Overheard from Down the Hall...

I don't know what Bobbi is doing in her room, but I just heard her loudly and frustratedly exclaim "This is a topological nightmare!" which made me think of something in a Lovecraft novel that, when looked upon with mortal eyes, would blast a person's sanity to tatters.

Friday Range Day

Friday morning the Fed Ex dude left another case of TulAmmo on the front porch, and so the CZ-75 testing resumed at its usual pace.

I have no ides where my front sight was for a couple of those. Trying to push speed until the wheels come off unfortunately does involve the wheels coming off.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1259 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 741 rounds to go.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Subsidized light rail.

So, there was this time I was house-sitting up at Marko's place, and it was a fairly long trip.

I had brought a long gun along that I was working up some review stuff with. I figured, what with it being February in New Hampshire and there being rather a lot of nighttime, I should probably throw a light on the thing. So we stopped by Shooter's Outpost in Hooksett on the drive from the airport to Castle Frostbite. (Shooter's Outpost, by the way, might be the most squared-away gun store in which I've ever set foot. It's a real treat.)

They were having an extremely good sale on Inforce WML lights, and so I grabbed one that had IR and strobe and such to throw on the gun. I got it out of the box, and the build quality felt...well, chintzy. Cheesier than the other Inforce I had, for sure.

When I got home, the Inforce was quickly relegated to my backup carbine, and I moved my ancient Mini Scout onto the new gun. I'd rather have 110 lumens that can take a beating than 500 lumens with a reputation for spontaneously disassembling under recoil.

Since I bought my Mini Scout, it had been superseded in Surefire's catalog by a 300 lumen version and now, as of a couple weeks ago, that 300 lumen version had been replaced by a new 500 lumen light. A review copy of the new 500 lumen M300 Mini Scout arrived from Surefire the other day, and it immediately supplanted the Inforce on my backup carbine.

Well, not immediately, because I had to figure out how to get it on the gun with some offset so I could thumb the tailcap switch properly.

Surefire makes a 45-degree offset mount, but I don't have one of those handy. However, I remembered something down on my workbench that might finally get some use...

 In the media goodie bags at the second Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational was a 45-degree Warne mount intended for mounting offset sights. It had been gathering dust in the basement for four years now, so I decided to see if it would work with the light. It did, and should function fine until I finally get around to getting the Surefire mount.

 Sure, it looks silly in red and will no doubt get me killed on the streets. I mean, if I ever take this gun on the streets for some unexplainable reason.

(The M&P15/22 is in the picture because I had it out looking for sling stuff. And that's not a blunderbuss or recoil enhancer, it's a TLR-1 HP.)

Friday, December 15, 2017


I need to go to bed earlier and get back in the habit of my morning walks.

The darkest month always brings the SADs, plus all the year-end stuff, the ramp-up for SHOT, and the holiday season things to do have stuff stacked on my plate so high things are falling off. I need something to give me a feeling of control and a schedule, and getting up on time and walking around the block is a pretty easy thing to do.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Parenting & Guns...

I am not responsible enough to have children. I'm not even responsible enough to have a dog or an aquarium. A cat or a ball python is about the level of involvement with another living creature with which I can be safely entrusted, and they don't take much involvement at all.

When a reader sent an email asking for some pointers to blogs with material covering the safe storage of guns around kids, I immediately referred them to Kathy Jackson and Melody Lauer, who are go-to sources on armed parenting.

I can't think of any dudes who have written on it more than tangentially, so if you know of any good armed parenting blogs written from the dad's point of view rather than the mom's, shoot me an email.

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.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A pox on Ian Fleming and Eon Productions.


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.

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.

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.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


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.

Friday, December 08, 2017


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.

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.
*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. 

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.

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?


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.

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.


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


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.

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.

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.