Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Politics: I've got one word for you...

Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude (denn sie kommt von Herzen.)

Hat Tip to James J. Na at Guns and Butter Blog.

Boomsticks: A Public Service Announcement.

Despite the fact that his phone line is Tango Uniform at this time, Jeff at Alphecca would no doubt like to let us know that the MSM is every bit as clueless about Second Amendment issues as they were last week.

Blog Stuff: Down on Fascination Street...

Despite a paucity of black lace in my wardrobe and a distinct preference for mail-ordering 5.11 garb to crawling consignment shops for vintage clothing, I've been listening to a lot of old stuff by The Cure lately. Must be a combination of the season (cool, bare branches on the trees, nostalgia wafting by on the chimney smoke) and the fact that I'm trying to bear down on my unGreat American Novel again, which seems to be largely set in a lot of smoky nightclub nooks around the fin de last siecle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blatant Capitalism: Yay!

They're here! They're here! The Kalashnikitty shirts are finally here!

We have both Mediums and Larges in stock at CCA for $19.95/ea. We're happy to ship. Tell 'em Tamara sent you.

Blog Stuff: Filler post.

Busy day at work ahead; probably won't get to post 'til late tonight.

Here's a boilerplate filler post:

"Dear Diary,

Most folks are still too dumb to pour piss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.

One of my bikes is broken.

Saw a cool gun at work today; it was dreamy.

More later..."

Intermission: A love scene from Atlas Shrugged.

Dagny: "Oh, Hank! Your wondrous bridge of Rearden Metal has saved my railroad!"

Hank: "Ha ha ha. Dagny, don't talk like a looter! What do I care for your railroad? I built the bridge to advertise my metal."

Dagny: "Take me."

Yeah, I'm re-reading Atlas Shrugged. Philosophically, it's as close to Holy Scripture for me as anything on my bookshelf, but... Jeez-o Pete! Is Ms. Rand one ham-handed novelist, or what?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 13

1953 Smith & Wesson Military & Police, with Spyderco Shabaria.

(A note to the marketing department at S&W: The above pistol is a Smith M&P. You have built this pistol for over a century. It has settled a lot of dirty business in all fifty States and in every corner of the globe. You have built over six million of just this model alone, not counting all of its variations in stainless steel, or with adjustable sights, or chambered in the newer .357 Magnum cartridge. This pistol, on the other hand, is not an M&P, regardless of what it says on the slide. It may be a fine service handgun. It may be the next Great Duty Pistol. It is not an M&P. Tradition and Heritage are two of the strongest things you have going for you; please be aware of the fine line between "paying homage to..." and "peeing all over...". That is all.)

Bikes: It's Bike Night at CCA again...

...and I'm starting to notice a pattern here.

I need to buy a rainsuit.

A jog around the blog.

PistolPackingMama tells a pretty funny joke.
TFS Magnum gives idjits a poke.
The Munchkin Wrangler shows us Quinn's First Stand.
Xavier Thoughts fills Clement Hurd's empty hand.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

All is Vanity...

"Marauding Marsupial" to "Slithering Reptile" in 20 minutes. I don't get it.

Ah, well, I'm ranting into thin air for my own benefit, anyway. If it amuses someone else to read it, hey, bonus. :)

Politics: Goodnight, buffoon.

In a desperate attempt to stem the rising tide of preschool nicotine addiction, the hand-wringers at HarperCollins publishers have sent Mr. Clement Hurd's cigarette to join all the dead Soviet cosmonauts down the memory hole.

Having shown their willingness to engage in a little historical revisionism to keep the kiddies from trading in Marlboro Miles for Spongebob Squarepants gear, one wonders why they stopped halfway? Most four-year-olds these days have mad 1337 Photoshop skillz that would leave the geezers at HarperCollins in the dust and can therefore tell that there was supposed to be something held in Hurd's paw, so why leave the obvious empty hand dangling in space, sans cigarette? Why not fill the now-extraneous mitt with something of social value with which to teach the kiddies, like a card with the D.A.R.E. "fink on your parents" hotline number, or a condom, or something else the socially-conscious want to make sure the PlaySkool crowd has committed to memory?

Hat tip to Les Jones.

Blog Stuff: About the "From The Vault" posts.

Some of you may have noticed that I'm a little into old military rifles. I find them fascinating both for their engineering, as well as for how they fit into history, how the design of one influenced the design of others, and how they helped shape the turbulent years of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

I've been collecting them for a while, now, and have managed to turn up a lot of interesting information in my research. What I've always wanted was a good, slick General Overview book; something like Scarlata's Collecting Classic Bolt Action Military Rifles, but spanning the gamut from the first cartridge breechloaders to the last semi-auto selfloaders (ie the arms available to a non-NFA collector.)

So, from time to time I'll be using examples from my own collection (hopefully I'll be able to strongarm Oleg Volk into photographing more of them) to write about and, if I think my writing is un-sucky enough, maybe I can compile it, expand on it, and write the book I'm looking for myself, rather than waiting for someone else to do so.

Blog Stuff: It's really not "Black Friday"...'s more like "Black Weekend".

Friday and Saturday down, Sunday to go.

The range traffic has been booming, as folks seek a timeout from the Mall Madness to burn a little powder. On the retail end of things, gun sales have been brisk. Little single-shot .22's like the Chipmunks and Cricketts have started moving; I predict some happy kids on Christmas morning. This is a good time of year for .22 plinking pistols, too; Buckmarks, Mark III's, and P-22's get hard to keep in stock. It'll be interesting to see how SIG's Mosquito does in its first Christmas season. Two things I need to try to keep in stock here in the final windup for Christmas are reloading kits and cases of ammo, both of which are popular gunny gifts.

The staff is only slightly more glassy-eyed than normal, and it looks like nobody will turn into a mindless zombie between now and the final frantic rush on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Boomsticks: A moment of silence, please.

79 years ago today, the most prolific genius in the history of firearms design passed away in the city of Liege, Belgium.

His achievements include 128 separate patents and more than eighty distinct firearms designs, including such enduring favorites as the Browning A5 and Superposed shotguns, the M1918 BAR, the M2 HMG, the 1897 Winchester pump-action shotgun, the Winchester 94 and 95 leverguns, and, of course, the M1911 Government Model pistol.

John M. Browning, 1/23/1855-11/26/1926.

Blog Stuff: A hell of a thing to wake up to.

It seems that at least one Minister of Defense of a neighbouring country has quietly gone nucking futz. I keep telling you people, this is exactly why we need to keep a closer eye on Canada. All that space on the map, and where are all the Canadians? Sidling right up against the border, that's where. They're up to something, I tell you, and Mr. Hellyer is proof.

(Mad props to Jeff at Alphecca for alerting us to the Halliburton angle.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Politics: Beelzebub on a bobsled...

Zendo Deb reports on a sign of the End Times: The NYT talking almost-nice about firearms.

Boomsticks: An unusual coincidence...

You know what got traded in today? A nice International Harvester Garand. It's now sitting on the rack right below the Harrington & Richardson Garand.

I can't remember the last time I saw an International Harvester and an H&R in the same gun shop at the same time.

Pretty cool... :)

Politics: Everybody's gotta right to be an expert.

The latest attempt at scandal-mongering has some unfamiliar words popping out of unlikely mouths. It's unusual, to say the least, to hear the Birkenstock-and-patchouli crowd attempting to discuss white phosphorous rounds and thermobaric warheads. What's raising it to the level of high comedy is, however, their earnestly-held notion that what they are saying makes any sense whatsoever.

What makes someone believe that they can become an overnight authority on anything? Does Cliff's-Noting your way through college give one the ability to cheat sheet through any other topic? I have a book in my library that suggests that there must be a certain demographic out there that thinks so.

Let me first say that history, military history, and military science are three loves of mine. I have, quite literally, thousands of volumes on the topic, ranging from personal memoirs to treatises on tactics; from glossy "weapons worship" coffee-table books to yellowing Field Manuals, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that all this reading was unnecessary. You see, browsing through the stacks at the used book store, I stumbled across a slim pamphlet from Penguin Books called The Disarmer's Handbook, by one Andrew Wilson. In breathless tones, the back cover blurb informed me that, simply by reading this little 300-page booklet, I would be (and I quote) "as expertly informed as any professional" who supports the nefarious military-industrial complex. I was flabbergasted! All those years, all that time, all that skull-sweat, all for naught. All I needed was this one book.

I bought it as a novelty, but actually decided to read it yesterday. I knew what I was in for when I got to Chapter 2, which promised to give our young Grateful Dead fan a thorough grounding in Military History and Strategic Thought: It listed, with a paragraph for each entry, the great military thinkers who shaped the history of warfare: Napoleon, Clausewitz, Jomini, Mahan, Douhet, Mitchell, Liddell Hart, and (I'm not making this up,) Marx, Engels, Trotsky, and Lenin. Needless to say, on technical matters and recent history, the book was factually accurate, but all information was presented through a lens so distorted as to give PostModernism an even worse name than it already has.

One almost feels pity for someone who reads this book and believes its promises. Mistakenly thinking they're some kind of expert, heaven knows what kind of gaffes they'll set off to commit. Why, with their head bursting with newfound knowledge, they might try to talk about Willie Pete shells on the Errornet.

From the Vault: The proto-FAL.

In the 1930's, the day of the bolt-action military service rifle was about to draw to a close. In the Soviet Union, designers were turning out limited-issue weapons like the SVT, while in the US, the American Army was about to adopt the first general-issue military self-loading rifle, the "Rifle, .30 Caliber, M1" (now more widely known by its designers' name: Garand.)

Meanwhile, in little Belgium, Dieudonne Saive and the engineers at Fabrique Nationale were hard at work on their own self-loading design, but were still in the prototype phase when WWII halted work. Skipping town ahead of the advancing Jerries, the FN crew attempted to interest the British in their new weapon, but the Brits preferred to stick with the Enfield rather than change horses in midstream.

After the war, development work resumed, resulting in the weapon being adopted by the Belgian Army as the SAFN-49. It's a well-made rifle, with an intricately-machined steel receiver, a tipping bolt operated by a gas piston over the barrel, and a ten-round magazine that does not detach for reloading, but is topped off through the top of the receiver with stripper clips. Belgian rifles were in .30-'06 to take advantage of NATO largesse, but export rifles were done in other calibers as well, including 8x57mm and 7x57mm.

SAFN-49, Egyptian contract. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The sights consist of a receiver-mounted aperture on tangent adustable for elevation, and a front blade adjustable for windage, protected by beefy wings. The safety is a simple pivoting lever next to the trigger. The gun was remarkably successful on the export market, especially in light of the fact that it was not very simple to manufacture, and the additional fact that the US and USSR were giving rifles away pretty much for the asking. It saw service in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and all over South America. Mine was made at FN Herstal for the Egyptians. It's chambered in 8mm Mauser, and has its sight labeled in Arabic numbers.

Detail of receiver. Photo by Oleg Volk.

In the end, what put paid to the rifle was the move of the world's armies to select-fire weapons using intermediate-length cartridges. While the SAFN itself didn't survive this change, its genes did, as anyone who looks at one of these side-by-side with a certain more famous FN rifle can see.

As a footnote, this is probably the most modern military surplus rifle a US collector can own without NFA paperwork. Most subsequent designs were select-fire, and while parts-kit guns like FALs, CETMEs, and G3s can be fun to own, there's always something different about holding a true milsurp; a gun that was once actually a service arm, and is now honorably retired without having suffered the indignity of being chopped up with a cutting torch.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blog Stuff: Thankful.

A day off work? Check.
Closest family 250 miles away? Check.
Well-meaning friends with dinner invitations successfully fobbed off? Check.
Cell phone "accidentally" left turned off? Check.
Beer and a frozen pizza in the fridge? Check.

I'm heading up the hill to hop in the hot tub, then, and later I'll wander back down here and revel in the thing I'm most Thankful for: A day when I'm left the hell alone. ;)

Books: Survival 101.

What do you get when you take neurophysiology, Zen Buddhism, physics, Clausewitz, chaos theory, the Gospels, the woodscraft of indigeneous peoples, Marcus Aurelius, astronaut training, WWII anecdotes, the Tao Te Ching, complexity theory, Jack London, survival school, Plato, and dozens of compelling stories and put them under one cover?

You get Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Laurence Gonzales, that's what you get. This may be the single most amazing book I've read in the last several years, and it's well worth tracking down a copy. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Blog Stuff: Auntie Tam says...

..."Aawwww! He's so cute!"

(It was a tossup on which bib he got. First Runner-Up had a picture of a frightened-looking Bambi with the caption "Petting Zoo Stalker". Bib is from Gut Pile Style.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Blog Stuff: Black Friday approacheth...

Those of you in retail know what that means.

I've got my work cut out for me today: Probably twenty guns waiting to be booked in when I get to the shop today, and a like number showing up Friday morning.

I wonder how many will be left on the shelves come Saturday night?

Boomsticks: You know you're a gun geek when...

So, like any 1911 nut with a few project guns under her belt, I've managed to accumulate an impressive array of various bits and pieces removed from guns I've customized over the years. I finally managed to come up with a little plastic box (sorta like a tackle box, with little compartments and all) in which to store the excess bits, as well as having a larger space for spare grip panels, my bushing wrench, and my handy-dandy Wilson multi-tool gizmo.

Poking through the parts, it occured to me that, what with all the thumb safeties, triggers, sears, disconnectors and other impedimentia, I have everything I need to make a dedicated frame for my Ciener .22 slide, except the actual frame itself. Now the only decision I need to make is whether to buy one of the steel frames we have at work, or go ahead and order an alloy frame on which to park the alloy upper.

Decisions, decisions...

Blog Stuff: Go leaf through The Liberty Papers.

Eric, of Grumbles Before The Grave fame, would like to introduce us to The Liberty Papers. Anyone who can write stuff like this is worth paying attention to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blog Stuff: From the inside, looking out...

Go read a great post from The Munchkin Wrangler:

"I've often joked that I've always been an American that just happened to be born in a German's skin, but there's a core of truth to that joke. I've always felt more comfortable with American attitudes than German ones, especially when it comes to personal liberty, obedience to (or defiance of) authority, and individualism in general.

In truth, that's what sets Americans apart from all other countries. Being an American is not so much a nationality as a state of mind. Now if we could only get rid of the "there ought to be a law" kind of crowd, and invite more of the "you're not the boss of me" crowd..."

Home is where your head's at. :)

Boomsticks: Jeff at Alphecca would like you to know...

...that the vast majority of fluff-heads making their living off of their liberal arts degrees by toiling in the fields of the propaganda industry still know absolutely nothing about firearms, like them even less, and wouldn't know the Second Amendment if it walked up and bit them on the ass.


Boomsticks: No Ammo Love.

So, my clever promo for Ammo Day was a flop. Not one person took advantage of the 10% off coupon. There goes my Marketer of the Year award...

More disturbing was the fact that on a busy Saturday that was also National Go Buy Some Ammo Day, only one customer came in and specifically stated that's what he was doing.

National Ammo Day.

Hyped all over the Blogosphere.

Busiest gun store in town.

One person who was even aware of it.

Not good.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Politics: Takedown.

Quick, identify the following photo:

Is this a picture of:

A) Dangerous tango al-Zarqawi being taken down by a team from SFOD-Delta in Mosul, or

B) A suspected loiterer being taken into custody by Rochester, NY Officer Greg Carnes and his squad during a random street sweep in "Operation Law and Order".

Answer found here.

(Hat tip to SayUncle.)

A jog around the blog.

Mauser*Girl goes a-romping with her well-behaved dog,
PistolPackingMama starts her very own blog,
GrampaPinhead can tell you all about hockey,
Phil Fulmer's future is looking quite rocky.

Boomsticks: A New Level of Hunting Snobbery.

Did you know that hunting with an atlatl-propelled spear will be legal in PA soon? Aside from providing grist for some truly hilarious comedic material, it also adds a whole new apex predator in the constant petty nattering about whose hunting style is the "most sporting" and "true to the ways of our ancestors".

The atlatl guys will get to look down their noses at the guys who are using yew self-bows and hand-chipped arrowheads as uncommitted slobs who are only interested in bagging a deer easily. The yew self-bow guys think that people using compound bows with graphite-shafted broadheads are wussies. The compound bow users can in turn snub the guys using sidehammer frontstuffers as parvenues, which parvenues will get to mock the guys using inline muzzle loaders, who get to make fun of the folks using single-shot Ruger No.1's and Thompson/Center Encores, who can deride the guys using bolt- and lever-action repeaters, who can in turn...

Remember, kids: Someone is always more "authentic" than you.

Me? I'm gonna run down a deer on foot this year and rip out its jugular with my teeth. Everybody else is a technology-dependent pansy.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bikes: Gotta love that Southern climate...

Think I'll ride to work today, since it's supposed to be a balmy 61 degrees this afternoon...

...and snowing by Thursday. Go figure.

All is Vanity...

Less than two months ago, I got all excited over my thousandth hit. Yesterday morning I had my ten thousandth.

I haven't had this much fun since I stood on a street corner and feigned Tourette's syndrome while screaming random entries from Roget's Thesaurus at passing traffic.

Thanks, y'all. :)

Blog Stuff: It must be contagious...

Joining Alston, Dr. Strangegun, the Official Store Blogger, and myself, is the newest blogger from Coal Creek Armory: Meet the Pistol Packing Mama, Tiffani.


Now whenever I try to make myself out to be the heroine of the day's story, there'll be a second opinion to keep me honest.

Blog Stuff: Hilarious.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blog Stuff: Anonyblogging.

The chatter on the virtues and vices of anonymous blogging is going strong over at Say Uncle. Some folks seem to get pretty spun up over the fact that any human with a keyboard and a 'net connection can speak their mind without having to show their ID. The less tightly-wrapped more vocal critics even wax hyperbolic with comparisons of anonymous bloggers to everyone's current favorite bogieman, terrorists.

How exactly making snarky comments about someone online is the moral equivalent of donning a Semtex sweater before heading to the mall is a point that eludes me, but then, many viewpoints enthusiastically embraced by the perpetually high-strung manage to escape my comprehension.

For myself, the use of my real name on the 'net isn't due to some vague commitment to uprightness or John Hancock-like urge to be identified with a certain stance, but rather due to a spectacular lack of creativity when I signed up at GlockTalk back in '99. Wanting to ask a question, I needed to register to do so, and was in too much of a hurry to come up with a clever screen name (in retrospect, I wish I'd used "Auntie Tank".) One thing led to another, and I just started to use my real name on all the forums I belonged to, merely refraining from using my last name as a fig-leaf of stalker-conscious 21st Century sensibility. Of course, that precaution is kind of a joke, since the address of my workplace is one click away from my blog or BBS sigline.

Potential stalkers should, however, take note of the fact that the aforementioned workplace is, in fact, a gun store.

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 12

A S&W Model 296 .44 Special and a CRKT Lightfoot Urban Shark.

Politics: From the Department of "We're Not Making This Up"...

If Les Knight's Dr. Evil-esque plans to wipe out the human race actually came to fruition, who would help chimpanzees file suit in court? (via Coop at Guns and Butter Blog.)

Fiction needs to be believable; reality obviously operates under no such constraints...

Boomsticks: Safety first. Accidents last.

From Xavier Thoughts comes a sobering reminder of why they're the Four Rules, not the Four Suggestions.

Be safe. The Four Rules are Life.

1) All guns are always loaded.
2) Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot.
4) Be aware of your target and what's beyond it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Boomsticks: Carnival of Cordite XXXIX is up...

...over at Gullyborg's site. Clicky.


This is three weeks in a row that I've written a post specifically for the Carnival, and nodded off Thursday night before I could remember to submit it.

Maybe I should stop waiting 'til the last minute?

Blog Stuff: The View From The Porch... 6:20 this morning.

Boomsticks: Oh, the shame...

As many people know, S&W has decided to come out with a new polymer service pistol that they have named, with no respect for tradition, the "M&P".

For those who don't have the backstory, "M&P" (or "Military & Police") is the official moniker of the fixed-sight K-frame .38 Special revolver that S&W has had in constant production since 1899 (its current catalog designation is Model 10-12, signifying the 12th engineering change to the Model 10 since 1957,) and which was the nearly-universal law enforcement sidearm in America for most of that past century, as well as being used by armed forces around the free world. More than 6,000,000 of them have been produced in that time, many during WWII, when they were called the "Victory Model". The new executive team at S&W seems to think that, like Harley-Davidson, "heritage" is Smith's most valuable commodity, hence the hanging of this hallowed old moniker on a newfangled plastic po-po gun.

Here're some possible suggestions for future developments of this line from S&W:

1) Chamber the gun in .357SIG and call it the "Registered Magnum".

2) Equip the gun with a key lock, fingerprint-recognition lock, and magazine safety, and call it the "Triple Lock".

(There is, apparently, no truth to the rumor that the "M&P" designation on the new pistola stands for "Molded Plastic".)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blog Stuff: What do you get when you cross a vegan and a lemming?

(Via SayUncle) Apparently the lunatic fringe is even lunatic-ier than I thought:

Knight's position might sound extreme at first blush, but there's an undeniable logic to it: Human activities -- from development to travel, from farming to just turning on the lights at night -- are damaging the biosphere. More people means more damage. So if fewer people means less destruction, wouldn't no people at all be the best solution for the planet?

Hey, buddy, if the biosphere wants me, it's gonna have to come in and get me; I didn't spend the last fifty thousand years beating it into submission to roll over now.

Gear Ho': Confessions of a Gear Snob.

Alston's voice wafted out of his office: "Hey, I'm putting in an order with Milt Sparks. You want anything?"

Do I want anything?! "Hell, yes! Get me a Summer Special in rough-out horse hide with sharkskin trim and 1 3/4" belt loops for a SIG GSR with a light rail!" SIG's freshman effort in the 1911 market is a tough gun to find good leather for, combining a non-standard slide contour with the light rail frame, and I've been meaning to get a good skin for mine for purt' near a year now, since a pistol that good deserves to be toted.

"Okay, the order's placed," he told me, "Delivery time is supposed to be something like 16 weeks."

"What's the tariff?" I asked.

"I forgot to ask," he admitted, "Probably somewhere around $100."

It's at this point that some folks ask "Isn't that a lot for a holster?" to which I must respond: No, it really isn't. The mass-produced Galco Royal Guard I'm wearing now cost almost $98, and it's devoid of the sharkskin trim and handmade cachet of the holster I just ordered. Combine that with the fact that the GSR is an almost-$1,000 pistol that isn't easy to find leather for, and the Milt Sparks rig is a steal. The main advantage of the Galco product for any gun is that it doesn't require a 16 week wait.

Yet I see this selective stinginess all the time, as witnessed by a couple of recent examples:

1) Example the First: Mr. Customer comes in, looking for an Inside-The-Waistband holster ("Just like the one you're wearing") for his new SIG P-226. I start showing him stuff from Galco and Bianchi; both companies offering quality leather IWB holsters starting just under $70. He nearly gets the vapors at the price tag. Here's a guy who has just shelled out north of eight bills for a CCW gun, but is balking at spending 10% of that price for a quality, comfortable means of carrying it. Further, he was surprised that the good leather offerings didn't offer a spring clip, rather than belt loops, for means of attachment (spring clips tend to allow the holster to get drawn with the gun; an embarassing faux pas at the ATM at 2 AM) or a "spare clip pouch" attached to the holster (rather than a separate magazine pouch worn on the off side to counterbalance the gun.) As he left with his sub-$20 nylon sausage-sack of a holster, I noticed he was driving a $50k+ European import. Five gets you ten his brake pads and tires came from the "Wear Rite" line at Sears, and he wonders why his Nazi Rocket Sled "just don't handle like it did when it was new."

2) Example the Second: A customer came off the line and asked for my help in looking at his jammed gun. I donned eye and ear protection and wandered out to the range to be greeted by a horrible sight: His Springfield Armory Professional Model, a $2k+ hand-built firearm, was locked up tighter than a drum. Next to it on the lane tray was a box of A-Merc ammunition. I had to take his gun back to the gunsmithing shop where our 'smith needed to knock it open with a rubber mallet to get the deformed case out. To our customer's credit, it wasn't entirely his fault; he had been sold the ammo in good faith by another shop, and he just hadn't noticed that we'd recently banned the use of that brand from our range, due to the high incidences of case failures and squib loads. Still, though, in an attempt to save a couple of bucks a box on range ammo, he'd very nearly trashed a two kilobuck pistol. Sometimes it can cost an awful lot to save a dollar or two.

The point of all this? Your gun is part of a system; there's no point in spending a ton of money on one part, and then not spending a dime on ammo, training, holsters & belts, or other assorted support systems. As Southpark Pundit has proven, the gun is absolutely useless by itself; don't skimp on the stuff that makes your shiny new toy actually function.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blatant Capitalism: National Ammo Day promotion.

To make it easier to do your part on National Ammo Day, just bring a printed copy of this post into Coal Creek Armory on Saturday the 19th, and receive 10% off your ammunition purchase. Such a deal!

Blog Stuff: Under my radar...

Nashville pal and photo demigod Oleg Volk has a presence in the blogosphere.

The next time I get a day off, I'm driving west to give the lad a noogie for not telling me. ;)

Boomsticks: Go check the bias.

Jeff at Alphecca brings us the Weekly Report On The Bias: clicky.

Good stuff on Women & Guns, the San Fran Gun Ban, hunting, and more.

Blog Stuff: Can't I just be bummed, please?

Everything's a 'disorder' now.

I always thought that my mood this time of year resulted from long hours at work without getting into sunlight much, a healthy dread of the Xmas Retail Crunch, the knowledge that it's going to be damn cold for the next couple of months, and having to deal with well-meaning friends saying "Oh, gosh, it must be horrible to be alone for the holidays!" (No, darling, the holidays are one of the few times I really get to be alone. Now get your hand off my shoulder and go write Xmas cards or something.)

Now I find out it's "Seasonal Affective Disorder".

Also, it appears that my compulsive posting in search of laurels and back-patting is actually "Internet Addiction" and not "Keyboard Diarrhea", and my reluctance to deal with large groups of knuckle-walking morons is not caused by a smug sense of superiority over lower primates, but rather by something called "Social Anxiety Disorder".

What I want to know is this: When did a normal change in mood suddenly require a DSM IV entry to describe it and a pill to fix it? How in Vishnu's name did H. Sap. make it for fifty millennia without drugs to fix these oh-so-debilitating problems? When did the social maladepts that so thickly populate college psych departments grab hold of the reins of definition? (And what thimble-headed gherkin decided that spamming is the way to market these modern Soma variants? I think I'd rather wade through a hundred 419 Scam and Breast Enlargement emails than another one of these...)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Books: A Commentary on the Anglosphere.

As an occasional Turtledove fan (his very fecundity prevents my total allegiance), as well as a major history geek, this essay on "The Anglosphere" (via the Blogfather) makes for an interesting read.

As an aside, if you like the Turtledove books and are curious as to what separates an "Alternate History Novel" from an "Essay on Counterfactual History", may I recommend What If? and What If? 2?

Blog Stuff: Random cool blog find of the week...

I was nosing around through my sitemeter when I discovered this cool blog: The Adventures of Mauser*Girl.

I feel like I have kinfolk I didn't know about. :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Boomsticks: National Ammo Week, Round One.

Today I picked up another 20-rd box of 75gr Hornady TAP .223. Combined with the loose excess I had lying about, that'll allow me to stuff another AR mag with premium instead of plain ol' M855.

(Note to self: Order some more damn LULAs when you get into the shop tomorrow!)

Bikes: Oh, frabjous day! Now you can profit from my good luck!

Okay, Plan A was to use the VF1000F as a commuter and occasional project bike, while the Zephyr 550 was going to be a backroad playbike.

This plan got turned on its ear when I was offered the chance to buy a 1990 Honda CB-1. Faithful readers will remember that I pine after a good, sporty 400cc lightweight, and the CB-1 has long been one of my dream bikes.

Unfortunately, I need three motorcycles about like I need a hole in my head, so one has to go. Ergo, the Interceptor goes on the block:

For Sale: 1984 Honda VF1000F Interceptor, good condition, ride as-is or restore, 11,700 miles on the odo. $1000 firm. (That's only $1 per cc!) I'll probably put it on eBay when I get home tonight, but I figured I'd give y'all the first crack at it...

EDIT: It's on eBay now.

A jog around the blog.

MotorcycleCommuter tells of a sexy new bike.
Alphecca wishes dumb laws would just take a hike.
Zendo Deb wants a smackdown on wife-beating spouses.
Overworked Alston's as quiet as a mouse is.

Politics: Fueling with the numbers.

Les Jones was recently pondering the change of gas prices over time, and that got me to thinking, too. The pre-post-Katrina high point in gasoline prices in the US was in 1981, with unleaded regular spiking to $1.80, which doesn't sound like much, until you adjust it for inflation.

To put things in further perspective, I remember the very first time I saw gasoline dip below $1.00/gallon. The year was 1986, and the gas station at the Dunkin' Donuts on the corner of Sandtown Road in Marietta, GA had the magic numbers "99.9" lit up on its sign. "Woo hoo!" I thought, "No more Coke Classic for me; I'm drinkin' regular unleaded now! Heck, it's so cheap, I'll water the lawn with it!"

Of course, that $.99/gal gas had to fill the 20 gallon tank of a '74 Gran Torino that got 12 mpg downhill with a tailwind, and was paid for by a poor high school chick eking out some spare coinage babysitting and working as a part time drug-store clerk for $3.40/hr. You can imagine how bad it was just a few months earlier, when gas was $1.25/gal and it took almost a quarter of my part-timer's paycheck to fill a tank.

Anyhow, back to that 1981 peak: Gas was $1.80, the minimum wage was $3.35, and a brand new sporty hatchback from Plymouth (TC3 Turismo) would set you back $7920 if you got crazy with the option boxes. Now gas is $2.20ish, the minimum wage is $5.15, and a new sporty roadster from Pontiac (Solstice) will set you back $24,640 if you pile on the goodies.

It's all in how you look at it...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

From the vault: The last antique rifle.

The late 19th Century was witness to a frantic global arms race; the introduction of the Mle. 1886 Lebel by the French had, almost overnight, obsoleted every other military rifle in the world. The Germans responded by fielding the Gew. 1888 "Commission Rifle", so called because it was designed by a committee, rather than any independent factory. Mauser, feeling snubbed, set to work designing a rifle that eclipsed the Gew. 88 in every way, and shopped it to the Belgians. Due to the fact that the Mauser works were running nearly at capacity supplying the Turks, Ludwig Loewe & Co. (the owners of Mauser) and the Belgian State arms factory at Liege formed a new syndicate, known as Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (now known universally as "FN") to manufacture the new rifle. The design was wildly successful and, in 1891 Argentina, who had completed their transition to Remington Rolling Blocks only 11 years earlier, purchased an improved version: the Modelo 1891 rifle, in 7.65x53mm (a caliber now known as "7.65 Argentine.")
Modelo 1891 Argentine Mauser. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The new rifle incorporated a couple of significant advances: First, the bolt was a strong, one-piece unit with dual horizontally-opposed locking lugs at the front, and second, it operated from a box magazine that was loaded from stripper clips (a design first) and unlike most every other military rifle of the day, it had no magazine cutoff; it was intended entirely to be used as a fast-reloading repeater, rather than as a single shot rifle with a magazine held in reserve for "emergencies".

Detail of action; note how ejector assembly forms part of charger guide. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The action, with its dual locking lugs and push-feed, pivoting-extractor design, would be familiar to anyone owning a modern sporting rifle from Remington, Savage, or Winchester, being much closer in mechanics and operation to these current rifles than its later, claw-extractor controlled-feed brethren from Mauser.

The rimless cartidge specified by the Belgians, and known (inexplicably) to posterity as the 7.65 Argentine, is modern looking, and a close ballistic cousin to the .308 Winchester/7.62x51 NATO, throwing a 174- or 155-gr bullet at 2460 or 2710 feet per second in its military guise. Commercial hunting ammo is still available from Norma.
L to R: 7.62x51 NATO, 7.65x53 Argentine, and 5.56x45 NATO.

Possibly the most fascinating thing about the rifle, aside from how teriffically modern it appears compared to designs only a few years older, is the fact that, due to its age, it's not considered to be a firearm by the BATF. The example in the photos, built by DWM in Berlin, is remarkably well-preserved for being such a senior citizen, and is still just as fine a rifle today as it was when it was made; maybe a finer rifle now, since the meticulous craftsmanship and all-machined-steel construction harken back to a bygone era. The BATF may think it to be the last antique rifle, but thousands of shooters know better; it's really the first modern rifle.

Politics: al-Zarqawi aims at USA, hits own foot.

Proving that he doesn't have much talent in the PR department, the cowardly back-shooting murderer insurgent managed to piss off a large slice of his former countrymen by blowing a fair number of them up.

Compounding this display of maladroitness was evidence that tangos smart enough to pull a string are getting harder to find. Here's hoping that Abdullah II gives Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi some of that Islamic justice she obviously craves. With a sword.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bikes: A Safety Reminder.

'Tis the time of year for folks to sport-tour their way through the hills, "ooh!"-ing and "ah!"-ing at the pretty colors in the leaves.

AdrianT at MotorcycleCommuter would like to remind us that, in addition to wet leaves in a corner, there are other dangers in the woods: Rats with hooves, f'rinstance.

Boomsticks: It's the Carnival of Cordite!

The 38th weekly edition of The Carnival of Cordite is up for your reading pleasure: clicky.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blog Stuff: A nearly perfect day off.

I've been feeling sorry for myself way too damn much lately. I've been putting in brutal hours at work as we ramp up into another wildly successful peak season, with all the attendant retail worries over adequate sales floor coverage, adequate stocking (the downside of selling a whole bunch of stuff is that you have to get a whole bunch more stuff into the store to sell), and all the familial woes of keeping a mixed bag of a sales staff happy and pointed in the same general direction. This doesn't leave a lot of time for keeping myself happy, though, and the grind was really starting to give me the gloomies.

So, I woke up this morning, turned to face the birthplace of John Moses Browning, and swore a mighty oath that I was really and truly not going into work today.

Well, there we go: a whole day for me, me, me.

I started by seeing my neighbor off on his vacation, then settling on the side porch with a cup of coffee and my current book, watching the rising sun paint the fall foliage over the lake in a riot of color. As is usual for this time of year, something about the falling leaves and the cool, scented air brings out a tremendous sense of nostalgia. I shuffled the discs in car's changer to include a couple of blasts from the past (Enigma's greatest hits album Love, Sensuality, Devotion, and Republic, by New Order, both guaranteed to combine with the Autumn atmosphere and trigger a full-on attack of reminiscing.)

I tooled over to Bearden Hill for a knosh of pretzels with hot beer cheese dip at Calhoun's, and, with a companionable mug of their pale ale at my elbow, polished off my book (the wonderfully witty The High Crusade, by Poul Anderson,) while the usual '80s/'90s pop played through the resaurant's speakers, further enhancing the nostalgic mood of the day.

Back in the Beemer, it was just warm enough to enjoyably drop the top, and pick some of my favorite backroads on which to zip homewards. I got to wend my way past rolling fields, see a beautiful view of the distant mountains all dressed up in their Fall finery, and, as a special bonus prize, while tooling down the curvy country lane leading back to the Batcave, I had to brake the Beemer to a halt to allow five wild turkeys to grudgingly move off the right-of-way and into the woods.

Come to think of it, when I first heard the tunes I was playing on the car stereo today, it was ten years ago, and I was depressed because I was unemployed and my crappy car was always in the shop; now I have the gall to get upset because I'm so busy at a job I love that I can only drop the top on the Zed Three once a week?

Nostalgia ain't all it's cracked up to be. I feel better already. :-)

Blog Stuff: Auntie Tam the matchmaker...

Doesn't Quinn, star of The Munchkin Wrangler and hovercraft pilot extraordinaire, seem enthralled by young Katie, diva of "Kiss Me, I'm Peevish"?

Okay, okay, my secret is out; I'm a sucker for adorable baby pictures. Sue me.

Politics: They're so cute when they're angry...

Pat Robertson, knickers all a-twist at the decision of some Pennsylvania voters, threatens to send God to beat them up.

Thankfully, in this day and age, ol' Pat has to wait for divine retribution to happen on its own timetable, and isn't allowed to give God a hand, like his predecessors could. Gotta love that 'Bill of Rights' thing (at least what's left of it.)

UPDATE: Pat "Apocalypse" Robertson can't even get normally credulous AOL subscribers to take him seriously anymore. Rumors that his show's name will be changed to the "7 Club" remain unfounded, however.

Boomsticks: Cool old guns on the web.

Dirtcrashr is showing off a neat old Colt 1909 New Service over at Anthroblogogy. Its serial numbers even match up with the lot rushed over to the Phillipines during the Moro Insurrection. Maybe Colt could crank out a few more for the current fight against the juramentados.

Meanwhile, down Louisiana way, Xavier has proof that you can find the coolest things by rummaging through sock drawers...

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

...the guns fell silent.

Remember to thank a veteran on this Armistice Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Politics: Some pretty bizarre priorities.

What do San Francisco, Philadelphia, Nashville, Anaheim, and Portland have in common? They all seem to believe in the importance of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Free WiFi Access.

"Free", that is, in the sense of "a free education" or "free health care". In other words, the taxpayers take it in the shorts, and this time you can't even pass it off as a benefit to the poor, since the bag lady under the bridge is unlikely to be using the service to update the iTunes on her laptop.

Here's a hint: if you just absolutely have to loot money from the productive classes; if you just positively can not help exploring the wallets of others with your itchy city-council paws, then how about using the ill-gotten fruits of your non-labor to update your Victorian sewer systems or Eisenhower-era transportation grids, rather than pouring the loot down an inane sinkhole in a desperate attempt to be the first "CyberTown, USA."

Boomsticks: A gun in the car.

Via Alphecca, we see that Utah is attempting to loosen restrictions on transporting loaded firearms in vehicles. Having spent most of my life in Georgia, which has fairly sensible laws on that point, you can imagine my surprise on finding that Tennessee had such byzantine rules on transporting firearms. I'd wager that I spend fifteen minutes out of every workday trying to explain the easily misinterpreted Tennessee law to customers. It's written vaguely enough that if a prosecutor really wanted to, he could probably nail you for having your ammo in the same range bag as your unloaded pistol if you don't have a toter's permit, although in practice, simply having accoutrements like pistol cases and range bags generally marks you as one of the good guys. Here's hoping that the good guys win in Utah, and that we can get an equally sensible law here in TN.

Birthdays today...

Happy Birthday, USMC!

(For those who didn't know, the birthdate of the United States Marine Corps is November 10, 1775.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Politics: Robot Revenooers on Thunder Road.

Apparently, it's now official: The Sheriff of Knoxingham has enlisted the help of R2D2 to swell his coffers.

Everyone outside of the PR department of Redflex Traffic Systems and various revenue collection law enforcement agencies (both with no dog in the fight, of course) agrees that the cameras do dick-all to reduce traffic accidents, a fact made more infuriating by the news that the myopic little HAL9000's can't even seem to ticket the right car with certainty, so why are we being forced to subsidize this little revenooin' scheme?

Oh, yeah, the "revenooin'" part... Forgot. Sorry.

Breaking News: 58% of San Francisco voters are dumb as stumps.

In an effort to prove that slightly over half of the adult population of the city is dumber than an acre of fungus, the denizens of Moonbat HQ have voted to join hands and wish those evil handguns into the cornfield.

Actually, no, wait... I'm sorry. It's wrong for me to call all those voters dumb. More than wrong, it's technically incorrect. See, the very definition of insanity is performing the same action over and over again while expecting different results, so technically the voters in the Asylum By The Bay aren't stupid, just nuts.

Boomsticks: Guess what? The media is still biased.

Alphecca has the weekly scoop.

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 11

Untactical guns & knives:
S&W Model 34, .22LR, circa 1957
M1895 Nagant, circa 1941
Benchmade Park Avenue
Kershaw Chive
Benchmade Benchmite
CRKT Tighe Tac

Monday, November 07, 2005

Blog Stuff: Hilarious.

More strangeness from SiteMeter: Apparently, if you use the following sentences in your blog:

"(T)he Chinese have completed the Glorious People's Gemini Program, hot on the heels of their finishing up the Great Leap Forward Mercury Launch."

"I just finished Melissa Holbrook Pierson's The Perfect Vehicle, an introspective account of how a nice, well-educated girl from the metropolitan Northeast wound up doing something so disreputable as zipping about on Moto Guzzis and enjoying doing so."


"The bedwetters at The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence have launched their *ahem* way cool online FP(n)S game to teach kids that guns are bad, h'mkay?"

then your blog, too, can come up Number One With A Bullet when someone plugs "hot girl bedwetters" into MSN search. I feel so dirty...

There's obviously weird stuff shakin' in the suburbs of Fort Dodge, Iowa...

Boomsticks: You think you've got problems?

I had a customer who was absolutely overjoyed the other day, because we carried 7mm Mauser ammo. Not only did we have 7mm Mauser ammo, but we had two different kinds, giving him a choice between plain ol' S&B soft points and Federal Premium stuff topped with Nosler Partition bullets. He cleaned us out of the Federal.

Lucky guy! He could be trying to scrounge ammo for a Mle. 1874 M.80 Gras. (It appears that Rocky Mountain Cartridge Company carries it, for the princely sum of $54 for 20 rounds. Yikes.)

PS: Of course we carry 7mm Mauser, silly! I have two rifles chambered for it, and I'm in charge of ordering stuff. :-)

Blog Stuff: Not a book, bike, or boomstick...

My daily driver just passed the 80,000 mile mark on the drive home from work yesterday, so I figured this would be a good time to offer up an off-the-cuff "long term review" for anyone interested.

Some four years ago, I had the chance to outright purchase a new car in the $20k-$30k range. I knew I wanted something sporty, and preferably a convertible. I initially started looking at the domestic ponycars, which are some of the best "bang for the buck" performance buys out there, but I planned on keeping this car for a long time, and the maintenance issues that crop up on those (especially the GM offerings) as the odo readings reach apogee were enough to turn me off. So, off to the import roadster offerings I went.

The Miata, MR Roadster and S2000 were eliminated first, mostly on issues of size and space; this was going to be my daily driver, and would be asked to perform roadtrip chores, too, and the Japanese offerings just struck me as a mite too cramped and narrow-focussed for my needs. That left the roadster offerings from the German Big Four, which could be held within my price range by shopping used: The Audi TT lost out on an uncomfortable interior and its FWD layout. The Boxster went down for lack of stowage, plus daunting maintenance costs as it reached its golden years. The first-generation SLK's were dismissed for being underpowered and saddled with Granny Gearchange slushboxes. This left the Z3 as the winner by default, and I selected a well-maintained 1998 2.8 in silver that had every option box checked from the lot at USI Motors.

My '98 model has the sports wheel & tire package, heated power seats, power top, and the 6-disk CD changer. I bought it in September of '01 with some 30k miles on it, and have put almost 50k on it in the intervening four years, including numerous roadtrips to Nashville, Atlanta, and Augusta. It hasn't had any maintenance issues other than normal wear & tear, except for the auxiliary air pump going out, which has had an adverse impact on mileage, and the hood sensor for the alarm going wonky, which temporarily kept me from being able to use the keyfob remote. Tires can be a pain, as the 17-inch rims call for 245/35 tires on the rear, and 225/45 rubber up front; Michelin Pilot Sport A/S skins are over $600 for the rear pair alone.

The 2.8 motor still pulls strongly at 80k, and turns in mileage figure in the low 20's around town and the low 30's on the freeway. The gearbox still shifts smoothly, and the big ABS-assisted rotors will still slow the car from speed with a feeling like driving into a sand dune. The retro-Sixties roadster styling still draws appreciative comments, and the silver metallic paint is unfaded despite not having seen a garage in four years. All in all? I think I could live with this car for another 50,000 miles with no complaints.

A jog around the blog.

Marko watches young Quinn roll.
The Gun Guy takes another poll.
Zendo Deb pokes fun at Frogs.
Xavier has to... er, "tutor" Dawg.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Blog Stuff: A Rant....

This one goes out to the knuckle-walking microcephalic troglodyte who wittily scrawled "I Wish My Wife Was This Dirty" across the decklid of my Beemer with his webbed finger.

Well, Gabby Hayes, let me tell you what I wish. I wish they weren't doing construction on the lot next to where I work, leaving every vehicle I drive coated in red dust. I wish I had a garage to park the Beemer in at home. I wish I didn't work 'til close six days a week so I'd have a little more time to do the really important things in life, like wash my car. But most of all, I wish folks had the common goddam courtesy to keep their plebeian mitts to themselves and not touch things that don't belong to them.

In a spirit of benevolent cheerfulness, let me see if I can help you with your wish, Al Bundy: maybe if you tried to seduce your wife with something wittier and more subtle than fart jokes during commercials on Monday Night Football, she might be willing to get a little dirty with you, allowing you to live the content and self-satisfied life of someone who doesn't feel compelled to wipe their booger-hook all over other people's belongings.

Have a nice day! :)

Random Musing...

What have I become,
My Swedish friend?
Everyone I know,
Goes away, even Sven...

ABBA covering Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor...

Miscellaneous: Stupidity on the High Seas.

Via Zendo Deb, a little on the current prevalence of piracy on the high seas.

Folks, knowing this, why in the hell are so many ships out there totally unarmed, especially in this neck of the woods?!? The Horn of Africa has, historically, never been one of Earth's better neighborhoods; as far back as 1,500 BC, Egyptian bureaucrats would come out of the wine shop to find their chariot was up on blocks and their horses had been hot-wired. Yet now, in the middle of a global upswing in terrorism and insurgency, we have a whole boatload of future hostages Western tourists with more money than sense placing their futures in the hands of a ship's crew so placidly innocent that they didn't have so much as a super-soaker amongst them. What were they going to do in case of an attack? Dial 911? The last time I checked, 100 miles out to sea is pretty much outside of any police department's jurisdiction, and besides, cell phone reception is lousy out there anyway.

The price of one passenger's ticket would have covered a couple of Ma Deuces for boat-borne baddies, as well as purchasing enough shotguns to make the ship an unhealthy place to be for any wannabe Achille Lauro re-enactors in the bargain, plus trips to Valhalla to allow selected crewmembers a modicum of proficiency with the hardware. Folks, there are places on this earth where you are on your own, and few places moreso than outside territorial waters...

Bikes: To ride to work, or not... Plus, bike-y blogs.

I find myself sitting here, squinting into the western sky, coming back in and refreshing the screen, going back outside and sniffing the air... Do I ride to work today, or no? On the one hand, a front is blowing through and there are supposed to be scattered thundershowers through the day, and I have yet to pick up any rain gear. But they're supposed to be done by the time I'm off work, and besides, it's not like I'm made of sugar or salt. But the road could be wet. But Sunday is the only day during my work week that I get to ride home while it's still light out, and enjoy the twisties on Canton Hollow and Mourfield, rather than a blast down the superslab in the dark. But the Beemer must be getting lonesome, having hardly been driven all week.... Wish I had a chicken whose entrails I could consult.

Judicious use of sitemeter has turned up several blogs'-worth of bike-y goodness, on topics as diverse as Box Stock racing, zooming through the hills and valleys of East Tennessee, and (near and dear to my heart) jousting with the cagers on the daily commute.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

From the Vault: A 19th Century assault rifle.

The year is 1869. The U.S. military is pondering the cheapest way to convert its overstock of muzzleloading Springfields to single shot breechloaders, and the British are doing likewise with their large supply of P1853 Enfields. For countries whose only real zones of conflict are scattered brushfire wars against primitively-armed opponents, this is a cost-effective move. Continental European armies, however, are driven by a more serious imperative: The Prussians. For twenty nine years now, the Prussian soldier has been issued a veritable wonder-weapon: a single-shot breechloading bolt-action rifle, the Dreyse "Needle Gun", and has demonstrated its effectiveness against both the Danes and the Austrians. The French, ever anxious of their arch foes across the Rhine, have responded by fielding a similar arm; the Mle. 1866 Chassepot. Both of these rifles used primitive, combustible cases that were vulnerable to damp and mishandling, but the ability to fire from prone or kneeling and still reload rapidly that they granted their users was a large leap forward over the awkward frontstuffers of the day.

Rightly paranoid of the saber-rattling powers on their northern border, and ever-jealous of their independence and neutrality, the tiny nation of Switzerland responded with a weapon that, compared to other standard infantry arms of its time, was pure science fiction: The Gew. 1869 Vetterli. ABOVE: Gew. 1869/71 Vetterli. Photo by Oleg Volk.

While the Prussians and French had to worry about gasses blowing back into their face from badly-sealed breeches, and fumble with loose rounds after every shot, the Swiss rifleman had a 12-shot breechloading turnbolt that used self-contained metallic cartridges. The 10.4x38R rimfire cartridge was no great shakes ballistically, lobbing a 334gr bullet at a leisurely 1345fps, but magazine capacity can cover a multitude of sins, especially in the hands of of an experienced rifleman, a commodity that the Swiss have never lacked.ABOVE: 10.43x38R, flanked by 7.62x51 NATO and 5.56x45 NATO.

The mechanism of the Vetterli was simplicity itself, being drawn from the 1866 Winchester; the bolt operated a bellcrank that knocked the cartridge lifter up and down. The bolt cocked itself on opening, and dual firing pins helped mitigate the occasional priming deficiencies of the rimfire cartridge.ABOVE: Gew. 1869/71 Vetterli action detail. Photo by Oleg Volk.

Never tested in battle, and superceded in only 14 years by the excellent Schmidt-Rubin series of rifles, the Vetterli often draws fire for its anemic cartridge and rear locking lugs, but compared to every other service rifle of the day, the fact remains that the Swiss were issuing the future while everyone else was still fumbling in the past.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Blog Stuff: Uh oh...

I see that Dr. Strangegun's been into the chocolate-covered espresso beans again.

Boomsticks: The Carnival's in town!

Click here for the 37th weekly Carnival of Cordite; a festival of recoil, powder smoke, and the heady smell of Hoppe's No.9.

Boomsticks: Just so you know...

...Oleg Volk still kicks ass.

Politics: It takes a village... ...idiot.

I'd like to preface this post by making it plain that I don't even have kids. I mean, there are people who should have kids, and do, and make wonderful parents; there are people who shouldn't have kids, but do so anyway, and wind up on Jerry Springer; and there are people who are perfectly suited to being the crazy old lady who lives alone down the street with just her cats and lots and lots of guns, and I'm honest enough to know which of those three categories I fall into.

No matter which of those categories you fall into, this recent opinion from the Ninth Circus (thanks to dirtcrashr) should, by turns, chill and enrage you. Read the following exerpt very carefully:
"There is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children....Parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students."

Now, the unavoidable corollary to that is that there is someone who has a right to determine what information, on matters sexual and otherwise, gets fed to their future chattel slaves children, and that someone is (you guessed it,) the presumptive owner of those future proles: Nanny State. Folks, when I see someone in a position of authority get all proprietary like that towards their little minions, it makes me want to jet to Bed, Bath & Beyond for some goosedown pillows, and then duck into Home Despot for some roofing tar. How have people with opinions like that been allowed to walk the streets, much less been put into positions of responsibility? Why are little tin Napoleons with such Skinnerian ideas of social engineering even allowed access to pens and paper, let alone robes and gavels?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blog Stuff: Will be back in ____ minutes.


Not too cool outside.

Been riding.

Now to ride to work.

Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Do Laundry. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Eat out. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Blog. Do laundry. Eat. Ride. Work. Eat. Work. Ride. Read. Blog. Sleep. Wake up. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

More later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 10

S&W 625-7 3" in .45 Colt, with Steve Corkum Shobu.

Books: Bikes and Brains.

I just finished Melissa Holbrook Pierson's The Perfect Vehicle, an introspective account of how a nice, well-educated girl from the metropolitan Northeast wound up doing something so disreputable as zipping about on Moto Guzzis and enjoying doing so. It's rare that someone so polysyllabic writes about Why We Ride, and I'd recommend it to anyone struggling to put words to their feelings when asked why they'd risk life & limb on something so outrageously dangerous as riding a motorcycle.

I'm currently re-reading James P. Hogan's Minds, Machines, and Evolution, a collection of essays, short stories, and commentary from one of the better Hard Science types still active in SF. He has a long-running website with articles about topics as diverse as AI, plate tectonics, nuclear power, global warming, and AIDS. Personally, however, his recent seeming conversion to strident Velikovskianism is disturbing; like watching an old friend turn up on your doorstep with shaven head, saffron robes, and calling himself "Moonbeam".

Politics: The lesser of two weevils...

The vapid article writers at USAToday want to know which of the two squishy limousine liberals masquerading as President on the arid wasteland of prime-time TeeWee is your favorite. "Can't we kill them both?" is not a choice in the poll.

I guess, having seen not a single episode of 'The West Wing' or 'Commander In Chief' (since neither is shown on Discovery, The History Channel, or during rain delays of Braves games) I should recuse myself from the debate, but I find I'm forced to out myself as one of those pesky intellectual snobs by asking: "Does anybody with enough cerebral activity to nudge an EEG still watch prime-time network television?" I haven't held a conversation with a solitary human being in the last half decade who has admitted to faithfully watching anything shown on weekdays on the major networks between the dinner hour and bedtime other than sports or (through sheer morbid fascination,) the news. Why haven't specialty cable channels and the proliferation of cheap DVD players killed these dinosaurs yet? I mean, for gawd's sake, in its quest to be deep and artistic (and to throw off the image of the '80s when it was cheesy and fun, or the '90s, when it was at least fun-ny,) Prime-Time network television now lacks even the campy charm of daytime talk shows, or the schlock Americana of "reality shows" like 'COPS'. Is there some vast demographic of Easily Amused Couch Potato with whom I don't normally interact that is keeping this dreck afloat? Inquiring minds want to know...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Boomsticks: Too many hurricanes, or something in the Autumn air, or...

...maybe the succession of recent stompings of the Vols is causing it. Whatever the reason, people are buying guns like crazy. The sales over the last five days were probably as good as they were in the whole month of May, and the range has been packed. Tuesday nights (Ladies' Night) have been SRO, with all ten lanes usually reserved from 6pm to 8pm by mid-afternoon. The shop is starting to turn from a gun store into a social club.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you...

Politics: My view of Alito, as if you cared...

Well, he seems to get all Strict Constructionalist-y on Second Amenment issues, or maybe he just thinks the commerce cause is being abused. On other Civil Liberties manners, he displays the typical GOP tendency to get all moist & runny over the topic of Law and Order. All in all, he's not all I'd dream of, but better than what I'd hope for. A tentative thumbs up.