Thursday, August 31, 2006

Boomsticks: The clever plan to disarm California proceeds...

With the passage of the "Microstamping" bill by the California state senate, gun ownership in California moves a microstep closer to death by a thousand cuts. The situation in the Granola State is a fascinating illustration on how civilian disarmament in this country could finally be effected.

If one reads the gun boards, one constantly hears the chest-thumping affirmations of keyboard heroes who are never going to give up their guns. Offering up their visions of how they will resist the UN gun confiscation teams which are apparently going to land in their black helicopters to go door to door looking for guns, they blithely ignore the attack that is already underway. The strategy is threefold:
  1. Make gun ownership a hassle. Require permits to buy, to sell, to carry, to shoot. Make these permits cost money. Make people stand in line. Make them buy heavy safes or clunky locks. Dictate how they may store the weapon, transport the weapon, dispose of the weapon. Charge for all of this. Make it expensive and annoying.
  2. Make gun ownership non-hereditary. Teach kids that guns are bad. Encourage kids to tell authority figures, such as school teachers or policemen, whenever they see anything involving a gun that seems bad or wrong. Make sure that the very presence of the gun itself is bad or wrong.
  3. Make the gun business unprofitable. Require onerous fees, outrageous zoning requirements, inane engineering changes in the name of "safety". Keep the legal pressure on to drain profits, while at the same time restricting advertising to stifle income.
The fruits of this are already apparent in California, where citizens can't own lots of guns that would otherwise be legal, simply because gun manufacturers are unwilling or unable to submit examples of every possible combination of caliber, color, and barrel length to the California DOJ for destructive testing just to get on the approved list. If the latest "microstamping" nonsense passes, expect more manufacturers to just drop California as a market. Californian gun nuts try to reassure each other that gunmakers would never abandon them entirely; that they represent too large a market, that they subsidize gun owners in the rest of the country. To that, all I can say is that Bushmaster, DPMS, and Olyarms gave up on CA a while back, and they seem to be doing okay.

California, seen as a progressive state by the victim disarmament crowd, is their test lab; the thin end of the wedge of laws they'd like to try elsewhere. Thus far it's not working, not spreading to other states the way they'd like it to, but that doesn't mean that gun owners elsewhere in America can stop watching that train wreck on the left coast; it contains lessons needed to stop our rights here from being derailed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Buzzword goes on rampage; kills one, wounds more than a dozen.

This story has all the modern iconography one could possibly hope for: Mental un-wellness, multiculturalism, urban pedestrians/cyclists, and an SUV.

It seems that one lad who had grown up in California and achieved that pinnacle of Western success, the keys to a Honda SUV, had a little problem. The problem was that his name was Omeed and while he considered himself Californian, his Afghani family didn't so much and, in fine Afghan fashion, had picked him out a bride back in the Old Country. Being less than willing to exchange San Francisco for Kandahar and a Honda Pilot for a camel and an AK-47, the last threads connecting Omeed to what we all term as "sanity" snapped.

Having informed kith and kin that the boogieman was after him, Omeed hopped in his Pilot and proceeded to play Death Race 2000 across the landscape of the Bay Area. Shouldering Priuses (Priii?) onto the median and bunting pedestrians and bicyclists into the shrubbery, he barrelled along until the heat got him boxed in after he'd racked up 8,000 points.

This being San Francisco, and CNN being CNN, what did the link to the story at the site say? That's right: *SUV hits 14 people in 20-minute rampage, 1 dead. The link itself will even take you to a page headed "suv.rampage.ap". Not "nutjob.rampage.ap", not "Americandudevictimizedbythirdworldculture.rampage.ap", but "SUV.rampage.ap".

Mr. Popal could, apparently, have stayed in bed this morning and let his Pilot carry out his grisly plans and saved himself a lot of prison time and lawyer's fees. Instead, he gets charged with 14 counts of attempted murder, and the Honda remains an unindicted co-conspirator (at least, outside the court of the media...)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Politics: This should be interesting...

The Punchline-In-Chief of the Iranian government has challenged W. to a televised debate. One would assume that the winner gets to keep their nukes. No word as to whether Bush's counterchallenge of Ahmadinejad to a Texas Cage Match was accepted.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Yay, me!

As b&n has so thoughtfully pointed out to me, today is the one year Blogaversary of the little corner of the web that is View From The Porch.

To celebrate 365 days, 844 posts, and 135,000 hits, I think I should buy a gun.

Coincidentally, a fine little Venezuelan FN Model 24/30 Mauser carbine in 7x57 wandered into the shop this weekend. I think I'll make it mine...

The worst earworm ever...

I have found myself unable to get Charlie Daniels' Uneasy Rider out of my head, except it's not just Uneasy Rider; it's some weird hybrid of Uneasy Rider and Hadji Girl...
So he looked at me and I damn near died,
And decided that I'd just wait ouside
So I laid a dollar on the bar and
Headed for the door.
And she said:
"Dirka dirka mohammed jihad
Sherpa sherpa baclava..."
If I can't get this out of my noggin by noon, I fear I may be a danger to myself or others...

Blog Stuff: Weekend Update.

  • My internet buddy Kaylee appeared in the real world this weekend, bearing gifts and waxing enthusiastic over her visit to Alaska. She gave me a copy of the Hank Cramer CD A Soldier's Songs, and a neat old book entitled Textbook of Automatic Pistols, written back during the late '20s and early '30s. Thanks!
  • There was some pondering going on over the weekend as to the heirarchy and likelihood of various dangers. For instance, we know that zombie apocalypse is at the top of the list, but what's the next most scary thing out there? A sudden drop in pirate numbers that causes a ninja population explosion? Killer space robots? What's more dangerous: A vampire ninja or a werewolf pirate? Any information y'all have will be welcome.
  • Do you know what they don't have in Alaska? Waffle House. Mmmmmm... There's nothing like a whole big greasy pile of meat and eggs to get your day started off right. :)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Conversation with a wholesaler.

Me: "What's the story on cheap 7.62x39?"

Him: "We got some Wolf in. Both the 'Military Classic' hollow poin..."

Me: "W00t! Give me two cases of that. You have the plain old FMJ, too?"

Him: "Yes, and..."

Me: "I'll take... how many boxes to a case?... I'll take five hundred boxes."

Him: "You can have thirty."

Me: "Is it allocated?"

Him: "That's all that's left."

Me: "Oh."

Waaaayy off Broadway:

Romeo. Juliet. Montague. Capulet. Pirate. Ninja.

A pair of throwing-star-cross'd lovers take their life...

If some starving artist out there is looking for the next big webcomic idea, there it is...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

For your viewing pleasure...

...a Talbot-Lago.

Once upon a time, aerodynamics was an unknown science, and automakers apparently labored under the idea that "If you make it real curvy, like a nekkid woman, it will go fast."

Today on the road, driving back from my errands with the top down on the Beemer and a rack of yummy-smelling ribs and two six-packs of Mash House Hoppy Hour IPA perched in the passenger seat, I passed in short order an MGB and a Jaguar E-type, both heading in the other direction on the twisty backroad I'd taken to avoid traffic. Their occupants waved. I waved back. In a world full of people-moving, gas-efficient, cupholder-laden pods it was pleasant to connect, if only for a fraction of a second, with others who were out to move nothing but their souls...

Boomsticks: The Carnival's in town!

The 70th Weekly Carnival of Cordite is up over at Gullyborg's place, and I stayed awake long enough on Thursday night to remember to submit something! Yay, me!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Patriots don't wear flip-flops!

How can you wear flip-flops and be a patriot? Johnny Cash didn't wear flip-flops.


(H/T to Jay G.)

Baseball: ...and whoever's playing the Dodgers.

Growing up in Atlanta, back when there were only two divisions in the National League and the Braves were in (riddle me this) the National League West, the old joke went "Who are an Atlantan's two favorite baseball teams?"

The answer, of course, was "The Braves, and whoever is playing the Los Angeles Dodgers."

It seems that these days the Braves are the Dodgers. I can tune into an LA game and cheer for folks who either stopped over in Atlanta briefly in their careers (Kenny Lofton and J.D. Jones), or who came up through the Braves farm system and established themselves as players in a Braves uniform (Rafael Furcal and Wilson Betemit). Now, thanks to a grinding couple of weeks at work, I seem to have missed out on even bigger news: Mad Dog is pitching for the *&^#ing Dodgers!


After I finish burning Scott Boras in effigy, I guess I should go to the Dodgers online shop and pick myself up a number 36 jersey.

What is this world coming to?

Boomsticks: Holy rifle, Batman!

Okay, here's some geekiness for you: I have a new Holy Grail gun. And by "Holy Grail", I mean Holy Grail.

Courtesy of the ultimate obscure gun nerd's site,, I give you the official rifle of the Papal States from 1867 to their demise in 1870: The M1868 Remington (Pontificio).

Every kid needs a .50cal black-powder cartridge rifle with the Keys of St. Peter stamped on the receiver, right?

Someday, one will be mine.

Blog Stuff: Google results...

Sitemeter is a wonderful tool. Trying to eke out that good blog post? Stuck on the second revision? Stumped for filler material to hold the cheering throngs over until you finish it? Go to Sitemeter and dredge up some recent Google searches!

hat etiquette on porches : Google apparently thinks that on this topic, much like horrible screaming death, I am the definitive go-to source. So, uh, I think you should wear one. A hat that is. On a porch. At least, I do.

light rifles : Being not too terribly burly, I'm all about the light rifle. Except the actual shooting part. It'd be nice if they could suddenly get a lot heavier right before I pull the trigger.

"email to cellphone" : Bad idea. I can ignore it on my computer just fine; I don't need someplace else to not read it.

rifle bolt handles : I am in favor of rifle bolt handles. They make operating the rifle's bolt much easier.

m&p "failure to feed" : My M&Ps have never failed to feed. Wadcutters, semiwadcutters, snakeshot: If you can cram it into the cylinder, it works just fine. Oh, wait...

VW type 3 custom hardback : WTF? I'll go out on a limb, though, and say that even though I have no idea what you're talking about, I probably hate it.

history of march of cambreadth : Absolutely badass.

and finally:

gewehr kommission+ 1888 : Also known as the Frogenschutzen.

Blog Stuff: Ubercute.

Having mastered the Amazingly Cute Quinn Picture, Marko has decide to branch out into posting other random cute pictures on his blog.

Books: Readin', Ritin'...

In 1997 Jared Diamond published a book entitled Guns, Germs, and Steel, in which he postulated that the denizens of an inhospitable corner of the Eurasian landmass conquered the world in the 17th-through-19th centuries because they had shiny rocks, some cows, got sick alot, and liked to pick on each other. Guilt-ridden cultural apologists felt his message resonate within their sunken chests and gave him a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts to expunge their collective angst-y guilt. Victor Davis Hanson, on the other hand, got ticked and decided to write a rebuttal...

I've been re-reading his Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power over the last few days, and thoroughly enjoying myself. Hanson has a good grasp on what makes an army work, why it wins battles, and whether or not it can effect a successful peace at the end of war. His lucid analyses of battles ranging from Salamis through Tenochtitlan and Rorke's Drift to the Tet Offensive offer an incisive outlook on why, whenever Western armies have met foes from outside their culture in open battle, the long-term result has been annihilation of The Other.

Written before the events of 9/11/01 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, he looks downright prescient in some passages, such as the following lines on the effect of the Tet offensive on the American home front:
In the context of identifying support for the war, the traditional rubrics "Republican" and "Democrat" began to mean little. Even the more rigid binaries "hawks" and "doves" often evolved to "fascists" and "communists," and ultimately "war criminals" and "traitors" - all reminiscent of Thucydides' gripping portrait of the stasis at Corcyra (Corfu; 427 B.C.) in the third book of his history. Consensual societies, Thucydides relates, when confronted with debilitating wars, steadily rip away the thin veneer of hard-won culture - civility, moderation, and honesty in expression becoming the predictable first casualties of extremism.

This is one of those books that goads me to work on my own two projects, both long-a'borning, and not just because of the similarity of the first one's topic to that of his opus:

An argument that ranged over two days with a houseguest some fifteen years ago planted the seeds in my noggin for the project that will hopefully someday bear fruit as Better Killing, Incorporated: (A Lighthearted Look Back At How Four Thousand Years Of Slaughter And Greed Have Made Life Better For You And Me.) This book covers some of the same territory as Mr. Hanson's, but doesn't have as militaristic a flavor overall. Well, more to the point, it's focussed on how nearly everything that makes modern human life worth living, from the keyboard I'm typing this on, to the internet it's being sent over, to the phosphor screen you're reading it on, has been brought about by an innately human desire to kill better and more cheaply.

The other book is the fault of Mr. Paul Scarlata. See, his Collecting Classic Bolt Action Military Rifles is such an excellent overview of the development of the military rifle from the adoption of the Lebel to the dawn of WWII that it just begs for a companion volume; one that runs from the adoption of the Dreyse in the late 1840s to just before the Lebel Revolution in 1886. Just as his book has chapters on straight-pull Mannlichers, Mosins, Mausers, and Enfields, so would this one have chapters on Martini-Henrys, Comblains, rolling-block Remingtons, and flop-top Springfields. The era itself is doubly interesting: a working title is The Age Of Rifles (stolen from an old computer wargame) due to the nature of warfare in the period. For this brief forty year interval, the rifle-armed infantryman was king of all he surveyed. There was no air force and no machine guns worth speaking of. Cavalry could be burned down as soon as they appeared on the horizon. Artillery, in the days before wireless communications, was limited to operations against line-of-sight targets, and a company of infantry could shoot the crew of a twelve-pounder to ribbons long before their horribly exposed, slow-firing artillery piece could do serious damage to the grunts. All-in-all I think it would be a fascinating period on which to write a collector's manual. There was a lot of innovation going on before Paul Mauser perfected the manually-operated infantry repeater. I wanted to find a good reference book on the guns of the period out there, and since none exists in the format I'm seeking, well, I'd best get to typing...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Boomsticks: W00t!

Smith & Wesson geeks everywhere, rejoice! The Third Edition of the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson is now available for pre-ordering!

(H/T to Les Jones.)

Understatement of the week.

"She obviously had a gambling problem," said Donna Planty, assistant district attorney.

Really? You think so, Donna?

This just flat boggl... I mean, it stagge... It's just frickin' asto...

WTF? I mean, really, WTF'inF?

How in the name of Vishnu's bunions does two-point-freaking-three MILLION dollars just vanish over the course of three years and nobody even bats an eye? The article claims she "wrote company checks for cash, petty cash, or checks payable to herself and falsely listed them as payments to vendors associated with the medical office." Yet nobody ever said "Gosh, we're seeing a ton of patients, but we don't seem to be getting ahead here. We sure are spending an awful lot on tongue depressors. Better look into that."

The cherry on the icing of the cake of this article, however, is the fact that the reporter apparently felt the need to laboriously point out that
Donnelly may have won jackpots of $5,000 or even $25,000, but never enough to cover the amount stolen overall, Planty said.
Well duh, there, Enrico Fermi. May I remind you (and the rest of America that apparently slept through Probability & Statistics 101) that the purpose of the Lotto is to generate money. The odds are in favor of the house. The more money you spend, the less likely you are to recoup your losses. If you bought every lotto ticket ever printed and won every prize ever offered, including all the big jackpots, you would still lose money! Get it? More money goes in than comes out! Capiche?

No wonder they call it the "Stupid Tax"...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Boomsticks: This post is worthless without...!

Here are the .22 handguns I've been nattering on about for the last couple of days.

First up is my Model 34. It was made in 1957, the first year that Smith used model numbers rather than names to designate their handguns (prior to '57, it would have been called a ".22/32 Kit Gun" for reasons explained in Xavier's ode to his.) Being one of my nicer Smiths, I've often considered tracking down some of the proper "diamond" grips for it, and maybe getting a factory letter from Mr. Jinks. Anyhow... The shots on target are in two clusters; the first, off to the right, is before I had Bob give the sight a clicky, and the large cluster at 6 o'clock below the bull is after the sight had been fixed. It's amazing how often one finds sights on trade-in guns adjusted slightly to the right; there must be a lotta flinchin' individuals out there.

Next is the '66 Colt with the Ciener .22 conversion on it. The benefits of being able to use your regular carry gun, with the same grip, control placement, and trigger pull, for cheap target practice and plinking fun can not be overstated, especially in this day and age of spiralling ammo costs. If your carry gun has a .22 conversion available, you should run get one. Now. If you're really tactical, like my neighbor, you'll even get night sights put on your .22 conversion units, so that they have the same sight picture as your CCW piece. Looking at the above picture, it is sad to admit to all you really good shots out there, but I am absolutely tickled pink with the performance I turned in on the lower right hand bull. That, for caffeine-and-nicotine-soaked li'l ol' me, is some durn good shooting. Hopefully my commitment to shoot a little every day will get me to where I can do that routinely and in rapid fire, rather than have it be something that I get all jump-up-and-downy over.

Music: My inner hooligan...

I never listen to the radio, so I find new-for-me music mostly by accident. The soundtrack to this video at Grouchymedia had me look into Linkin Park, and on a recent trip to McKay's, I snagged a copy of Hybrid Theory. Yeah, yeah, it's six years old for the rest of y'all, but it was new to me.

What a great CD for putting the top down on the roadster, turning off the traction control, and getting in touch with my inner hooligan. Pretty good for getting my game face on for the ride into work, too. :)

Boomsticks: More trigger time...

In my new quest to put more Shooty Goodness back into my life, I've resolved to try and put some lead downrange every day at work. I dragged the little Model 34 Kit Gun in for a second consecutive day and put about a box of ammunition through it. I was relieved to see that my mad 1337 skillz hadn't completely atrophied. Despite the mediocre Federal American Eagle .22LR ammo, the Kit Gun's miniscule sight radius, and my lack of practice, once the sights got corrected everything went into about 2.5" at the seven yard line. I'll take it.

Yesterday I upped the ante, dropping my Ciener .22 conversion unit on my '66 Colt. Things started out iffy. The American Eagle shot 2" and slightly high-and-left in my caffiene-trembling hands. Aguila SE 38gr Subsonics put 5 rounds into an inch and a half, but each round failed to extract, putting an end to that experiment. Remington's 40gr Target load really made the gun happy, though. When I buckled down, six shots went into a .75" ragged hole, nine shots opened that out to maybe an inch, and a tenth shot flyer made for a 1.25" group.

Whenever I use my debit card to get Mountain Dew money at work, I always make sure to buy something so that the store doesn't take a hit. That something is probably going to be Remington Target .22 from now on. I figure that some ATM's charge a $2.50 fee for their use, and wouldn't it be cool if they dispensed 50 rounds of match .22 ammo in exchange for that fee?

Welcome to the blogroll...

...PDB. I've been meaning to put him there for quite some time, if only for my own convenience since he's a daily read for me, but adding someone requires me to think of something semi-witty to put after their name, and "Toiling in the pixel mines under Retail Mountain" wrapped to two lines, a stylistic no-no...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Boomsticks: Every time a gun company...

...goes toes-up, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth on the gun boards. "Oh, noes! A precious piece of our heritage is gone!" and suchlike. Does anybody stop to think that maybe some of these companies go Tango Uniform because their product sucked?

I mean, sure, Winchester (to use a f'rinstance) had a storied heritage, but they've spent the last forty years squandering it. The 94 was a shadow of its former self; no sober person purchased one over a Marlin for anything other than nostalgia reasons. The Model 70 was gutted in '64, and an attempt to revive an upmarket claw-extractor version was shivved in the liver by shoddy workmanship. The last megabuck Model 70 Classic we transferred in for someone had a stock that looked like it had been checkered with Husqvarnas by drunken orangutans.

So I've become a cynic. The last time Charter Arms flatlined, in the midst of all the hand-wringing about the loss of another gun manufacturer, my only thought was "Will someone please remember to put a stake through its heart this time?"

As the gag goes in our gunsmithing shop:

Me: "They sure don't make 'em like that anymore."

Shannon: "Yeah. There's a reason for that, too."

What's he gonna do about it? Declare war on Columbia?

In a lack-of-caffeine induced freudian slip, I misread this headline as "Karzai says world not doing enough Afghan drugs." My initial thought was "Well, Hamid, if your price support programs weren't so effective, you could probably get better market penetration..."

Politics: I'll drive, thanks.

Can I get an "amen"?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blog Stuff: Have y'all never seen Falling Down?

When Cranky Gun Store Lady wheels up to your drive-thru mike and orders her customary "Two sausage burrrritos (I lurve rolling that "r"!) with four packets of hot sauce, please!" and you say "We're serving lunch now, ma'am," and the sign on your restaurant says breakfast is served 'til 10:30 and it's only 10:22 and she's driven like a crazy woman to get there on time, it would be wise to remember that the trunk of the Beemer contains a very scary-looking M4 carbine.



Boomsticks: "Shooty Goodness".

Okay, so I stole the title from Kit. The first time I saw it over at her page, I thought it was the cutest thing ever.

The relevance for me is this: I haven't had a lot of shooty goodness in my life lately.

"But Tam!" you say "You work at an indoor firing range for gawd's sake!"

Yes. Yes I do. Shoemaker's children and all that. The realization dawned on me yesterday morning that I hadn't pulled a trigger in months. Well, to be more accurate, I hadn't pulled a trigger for fun in months. All the shooting I've done in at least two months (maybe longer) has been either checking that a customer's gun is shooting to point of aim, or doing rapid-fire mag dumps from rental guns to demonstrate that our rental gun is working just fine, thank you, as long as you don't limp-wrist the darn thing.

So, yesterday morning I went in thirty minutes earlier than usual, and I took my little S&W Model 34 to the range with me. It's an itty-bitty little 1957-vintage .22 on Smith's "Improved I-frame" with a 2" barrel and adjustable sights. It makes a swell trainer gun for a fighting J-frame, but it also provides for an enjoyable quiet time alone at the range. I did something I normally don't do, which is firing a S&W wheelgun single action, and spent some time just concentrating on the abbreviated sight radius in deliberate slow fire. It was amazing how much that cleared my head and left me all charged up for the day. (That little gun shoots like a house afire, too...)

I should do it more often. :)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Random Notes...

  • I am beginning to think that guy's jeans have some kind of germicidal substance woven into them. Have you ever noticed that a guy could handle, say, fermented goat entrails with his bare hands and then, with a quick swipe of his hands on his trouser legs, he acts like he's now sterile enough for open heart surgery?
  • You know you've been putting in too many hours when you dream that you've been fired and you wake up with a smile on your face thinking "Woohoo! A day off!"
  • We got cool custom holsters in at the shop! We're going to be the sole retail outlet for Gary Brommeland custom leather! W00t!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On this day in 1942...

...British and Canadian forces attacked the port of Dieppe in France. Included in the raid were small contingents from several other countries, including fifty US Army Rangers.

Although a disaster, it provided valuable information that would be used in the planning of the D-Day invasion of 1944.

Friday, August 18, 2006

This Just In:

My Horrible Screaming Death rating is now up to five.

Come on, folks, help me out here; my new goal is to be the interweb's premier provider of Horrible Screaming Death.

Quote of the Day:

Free men have free tongues. -Sophocles.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Blog Stuff: Shopping!

As evidenced by my tone towards the end of the comments here, I was getting a mite testy at work yesterday. One of my coworkers, lor' bless him, noticed the vein bouncing in my forehead and said "Hey, I'm staying late anyway, why don't you go ahead and split early; I'll close for you tonight." So I completed the one or two things immediately on my plate and trudged outside to... light? It's still light outside? How can this be? I'm leaving the store on a weekday and it was still light outside... It felt disorientingly like playing hooky.

I motored over to the new Pinnacle complex over at Turkey Creek to scope out a tip on the World Market from a friend. It's a funky upscale strip mall in which they've taken the strip and wrapped it back around on itself so that it encloses the parking lot. It feels like driving into some gated community meets High Temple of Commerce. Mostly upscale stores and restaurants. With the top down on the Beemer, you could hear the upscale Muzak wafting through the air. I found World Market and... Nirvana! Imported chocolate! Imported beer! Snob food! Spices! Knicknacks! Tchotchkes! Beads! Trinkets! All kinds of imported stuff!

I only had time for a fast reconnaisance run, because I was trying to indulge in a fantasy of sitting on my porch, book in hand, while the sky was still light enough to read it, but I'll definitely be back.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Boomsticks: Bingo! (Again.)

Between 1871 and 1945, the Germans issued five different bolt action rifles. It started with Mauser's seminal Gew. 71, an 11mm black-powder cartridge breechloader. This rifle was standard issue to the armies of the newly unified Germany for thirteen years, when it was replaced by the Gew. 71/84; essentially the same weapon, but with the addition of a tubular magazine below the barrel. After the shock of the French Lebel, the Germans put the Gewehr Prufungs Kommission (Rifle Testing Commission) at the Spandau Arsenal to work designing a new rifle. The committee-designed weapon, a hodgepodge of Mannlicher, Mauser, and other odds & sods, went into service in 1888 as the Gew. 88, but is better known to us as the "Commission Rifle." Paul Mauser took der Vaterland's acceptance of a non-Mauser rifle as a personal snub and set to work designing a series of rifles that eclipsed it entirely. The culmination of the resulting evolutionary tree was the Gew. 98, which replaced the Commission Rifle after the latter had only been in use for ten years, and is regarded by some (including your humble scribe) to be the pinnacle of the era of the military bolt-action rifle. In 1935, the Germans finally followed the lead of so many other countries and did away with issuing distinct rifles and carbines to infantry and other branches, and went with a shortened 98 called the Kar. 98k as a service-wide standard longarm.

Keeping up with contacts paid off for me again: My 1877 C.G. Haenel Kar. 71, 1888 Spandau Gew. 71/84, 1916 Spandau Gew. 98, and 1943 "byf" (Oberndorf) Kar. 98k are now joined by an 1890 Danzig Gew. 88.

I just love shopping. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Air Travel Scenario: Reality bites.

Breathless reporters, a jittery TSA, and frustrated customers passengers are beginning to realize that the air travel scenario has crossed the event horizon of sanity and is being stretched toward the naked singularity of reductio ad absurdum.

"X-ray machines can't see liquid or gel bombs in shoes!" panics an Associated Press hack. Well, duh, Sherlock. X-ray machines can't see your tummy when they take pictures of your insides, either. Any third-grader can tell you that; it's why they use them to look at your bones.

Listen to me, folks. Put down the legislation and step back away from it. Let out a cleansing breath. Now, chant along with me:
Okay? Are we clear on this? In the long run, we're all dead. Nobody gets out of here alive. Some risk is inherent in life. If the Bad Guys are patient enough, they will bring down a plane, and making everbody fly naked and handcuffed to their seats won't do a damned thing to stop it. Any moderately competent fiction writer (indeed, anybody with enough imagination to have a daydream) could think of a half-dozen ways that the Muj could drop a jetliner without even having anybody aboard. There's no way to hermetically seal the things. Are you trying to kill the airline industry to appease the Hadjis? Is that it? Because that's what you're doing. Every element of our society that you cripple in the name of safety is a victory for them, and they just sit back in their Madrassas and laugh and laugh.

If they "hate our freedom" so much, Georgie, then why are we doing everything we can to help them kill it?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wanna buy a hoodie?

For those interested in owning the possessions of a deranged serial-killing technophobic hermit, the assorted paraphernalia of The Unabomber is to be sold at online auction in order to generate funds for the bazillions in restitution due his victims.

I find it deliciously ironic that the world's most infamous (and pathological) luddite will have, at least vicariously, a gold star feedback rating on eBay.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Boomsticks: Definitions.

In order to clarify my previous post in re: "Unsatisfactory Triggers", let me offer the following definition, using S&W double action pulls as an example:

1) "Excellent": Light pull weight (less than seven pounds; in some cases much less), free of any hesitation, grit, or stacking. Will probably only ignite Federal primers. Only really suitable for competition. No hammer spur or single-action capability retained. Costs a mint.

2) "Very Good": Light pull. Requires spring kit and extensive polishing and stoning of various mating and bearing surfaces. As light as you'll want for anything that requires 100% reliability.

3) "Good": Smooth-ish pull. Somewhat lighter than stock. Some spring replacement required. Some attention paid to hand & star. Only trigger job you can get for less than $50 from most gunsmitheries.

4) "Adequate": Found on well-broken-in older Smiths and some Performance Center guns.

5) "Unsatisfactory": Everything else. Why we have in-house gunsmiths.

Yeah, I'm a gun snob. So sue me.

Boomsticks: Things were more like they used to be, back then.

In one of the forums I frequent, a poster has offered up the old "Oh, these modern times suck! Ah for a return to times of yore, when the world was better!"

In this case, he was focussing on S&W revolver trigger pulls, claiming that all the new ones are wretched and things were so much better in the old days. Now, I currently have... let's see... over forty S&W revolvers, ranging in age from a .32 Double Action Third Model made in 1883 to a Model 431PD made in 2004. A couple of dozen more have passed through my collection over the years. I've been in the retail end of the gun business since 1993. I regard myself as qualified to offer a considered opinion on the topic of S&W wheelguns.

Here's the deal: The out-of-the-box trigger pull of a new Smith is about what it's been since I can recollect. (Which is to say "Unsatisfactory." No factory gun has a good trigger. If you think one does, you have low expectations.)

Marko and I were contemplating a new Model 520 when he commented "The trigger pull on this thing just doesn't compare to my old Model 10."
I replied that the new gun hadn't been dry-fired 50,000 times over the last 30 years, either, which will tend to have a certain smoothing effect on the action.

If you are lucky enough to run across an old S&W wheelgun that is truly "Unfired, In Box", see if you're allowed an experimental dry-fire or two. I think its trigger pull may be a little heavier and grittier than you'd expect.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Molon Labe.

The coin on the left is a 1/12th Stater from the Greek city-state of Miletos, which is located on the Turkish mainland. It was minted sometime between 500 and 480 BC, when the city was under the rule of distant Persian overlords.

Perhaps one summer, two thousand, four hundred, and eighty six years ago today, it was in the pouch of a free Greek in the allied contingent near the spa waters of Thermopylae.

Probably not.

But I'd like to think it was.

Molon Labe.


You might be more convincing if you could spell "revealed".

And "thermite". And "demolition". And "controlled". And... Oh, hell, why bother? I think I'll just do like LawDog's brother...


Boomsticks: Gratuitous Gun Pr0n No. 35

In 1896 Smith & Wesson introduced their first solid-frame revolver. Rather than ejecting its spent cases automatically when the two halves of the frame were hinged apart, a latch allowed the cylinder to be swung out to the side and then the ejector rod was operated by hand, leading to the name "Hand Ejector" for this line of wheelguns. In the 110 years since, the S&W Hand Ejectors have come to typify revolvers in the American cultural psyche.

The first hand ejector was a fairly small weapon chambered for a lengthened version of the old .32 S&W cartridge from their top-break line. This was followed in 1899 by a slightly larger gun chambering a new round labelled the ".38 Smith & Wesson Special". In 1907, the massive "N-frame" hand ejectors debuted, chambered for the new .44 S&W Special cartridge...

The pictured revolver (a .44 Hand Ejector, 2nd Model) is a little bit special: Production of the .44 Hand Ejector was discontinued from 1918 through most of 1920, not resuming until December of that year. By the serial numbers, the gun shown is the 472nd one produced after the line started up again. The .44 Hand Ejector is notable as being the sidearm of the famous archaeologist/action hero, Dr. "Indiana" Jones. Owning this one makes me want to buy a bullwhip and a fedora, although (given the slightly more blingin' nature of my Smith) I think I'll get one in a natty shade of teal.


Thanks to one of my fantastic commenters, if you type "Horrible screaming death" into Google, I'm the ninth result! It's like a dream come true!

Oh gawd, do my sides hurt...

I mean big, girlie, shrieking laughter, with tears running down my cheeks and all...

See Paul Simer's post with the Pug Bowling video.


Gratuitous Gun Pr0n...

Not that I'm trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I'm kinda proud of these pictures.

And the gun is just plain lust-inducing.

(I thought this picture turned out pretty cool as well. I just fricken' love my job. Does it show? :) )

Politics: The "B" word...

In talking with a lot of folks who have considered opinions on the situation in Iraq, many of whom have actually had boots on the ground there recently, a disturbing word keeps popping up:


P.J. O'Rourke once wittily remarked that Tito had a great strategy to keep Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and all the other constituents of his polyglot ersatz nation from killing each other. His plan was a brilliantly simple one: he did it for them. After he was gone it didn't take long for the denizens of the synthetic republic of Yugoslavia to start rummaging through sock drawers and digging behind loose bricks in their fireplaces to drag out long-dormant grudges and start beating each other over the noggin with them. The country went to pieces so fast that nations as far away as the USA were hit with the shrapnel.

The situation in post-Saddam Iraq is starting to look depressingly similar. Now that Saddam is no longer available to kill them wholesale, his liberated subjects (liberally goaded by outside agents provocateur from various Muj factions) are happily back to slaying each other on a more retail scale. This of course raises the troubling question as to which is the proper approach for us: Do we keep applying splints and bandages and hope the country knits itself together stably over the long term? Or do we accept the centripital forces at work and try to manage the fragmentation, letting the country split itself into the three chunks into which it's so desperately trying to shatter, and thereby focus our attention on the breakaway republics that need it most? Either way is a gamble, and the potential payoff for each path has its upsides and downsides.

I'm just glad it's not up to me to make calls like this...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Airports go to alert level "Plaid", rest of nation still at "Bert".

If this still-developing story turns out to be even 50% factual, it illustrates the quandary that the Western governments are in: If they use the alert system for every terrorist operation they break up, they risk turning into the "Government That Cried 'Wolf!'", and get accused of trying to scare the nation into surrendering more freedoms via their hype. Conversely, if they try and keep things low key and something does happen, then they're blasted from both Left and Right as lazy and incompetent.

If the US and British governments were as cynical and scheming as the Konspiracy Krew like to paint them, don't you think they'd have let this one go down in order to whip up flagging support for the Global War On A Noun? I mean, if there were smoking wrecks littering the tarmac of American airports, aluminum showers raining crispy critters on the 'burbs of DC, would I even now be making snarky remarks about "alert level Bert"? Doubtful...

Blog Stuff: Miscellaneous trivia...

Ever since high school, I've wanted a Chevrolet Impala so I could get a vanity plate that said "Vlad".

Geeze, I crack me up... :)

(Incidentally, while we're on the topic of four-wheeled vehicles, today is International Biodiesel Day; an international holiday set aside for all twelve people worldwide who lust after slow cars that smell like carburized french fries.)

Sign of the times...

I never thought I'd do this, but I've just made shelf space at the shop to keep 7.62x39mm reloading dies and .311" bullets as a regular stocking item. Haven't seen a drought like this since the Winter of '99.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Boomsticks: Typhoon in a thimble.

Desperate as usual for something to panic about, the fluff-headed cretins that clutter the newsrooms over at ABC have decided to engage in a bout of hand-wringing over a novelty Swiss micro-revolver. In an almost hysterical parody of Ralphie's mother in A Christmas Story, police officers are warned that bad guys could use this weapon to, well, shoot their eyes out. (I wonder how long it takes before the LE wires start burning up with stories of this gun, the way they have with the time-travelling FN FiveSeveN and the semi-mythical 'cell phone gun'. Somebody needs to point the cops at Snopes. Anyhow, I digress...)

The gun itself seems to be a gem-like miniature replica of the Colt Python. There is a long tradition of miniature functioning firearms, and a long tradition of miniature replica firearms, but it is indeed rare that a firearm strives to be a functioning miniature as well as an at least quasi-accurate replica. It remains to be seen how the internet gun world will react to the little pistol (and if the BATFE actually allows importation, because this thing definitely won't make it on import points, even if you add target stocks.) As has been pointed out rigorously by luminaries such as SayUncle and Ninth Stage, this little gun, with its .09 caliber bullet that weighs not quite all of two grains, is less dangerous than a felt tip marker wielded by a malnourished toddler with severe hand/eye coordination problems. That is, until Cor-Bon releases its 1.5 grain load, which will bump velocity over the 450fps threshold, and will cause Marshall and Sanow to give it an estimated One Shot Stop rating of 0.02%, which is a considerable increase from where it stands now.

All I know is that I didn't even know of its existence until this morning, and now I'm deep in the throes of gun lust over this little oddity. Good job, ABC. :)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some days it's just not worth getting out of bed...

In a world full of South Pacific earthquakes, Alaskan pipeline breaks, American soldiers indulging in a bit of freelance murder and rapine (PLEASE tell me that the UCMJ has provisions to execute them by firing squad...), and lying reporters, it's reassuring to know that Paul McCartney's divorce is proceeding along normally. At least, I guess it must be for some people, because they felt compelled to let me know about it...

Politics: Gee, thanks guys!

To paraphrase blatantly rip off P.J. O'Rourke: "To label something as 'public' is to define it as filthy, insufficient, and dangerous. The ultimate paradigm of this is 'Public Restroom'."

What just kills me is the knowledge that there were people on that flight who were probably turned into immobile, quivering blobs of jello after hearing that a Bad Guy might have been among them. They'll probably clamor for more "safety" as soon as they can get to a voting booth, rather than realize that the uselessness of the whole system was just demonstrated to them, and vote to scrap it. It never ceases to amaze me that herd animals like these logic-challenged microencephalic Chicken Littles can somehow muster the wherewithal to peek out from under the bed every morning without a support team consisting of a Policeman, a Physician, and a Psychiatrist to give them the all-clear, as well as promises of protection and reassurance should the stroll across the room to the loo for morning ablutions turn out to be fraught with danger, uncertainty, low self-esteem or polyunsaturated fat.

We are reaping the fruits of a generation or two that was allowed, nay, actively encouraged to halt their emotional and ethical development at a childlike level...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Overheard At Work...

Feeling whupped from my grinding schedule of too many open-to-close days, I paused behind the counter and muttered: "Gawd, I feel like a zombie!"

As twitchy co-workers turned to goggle at me, I remembered I was in a gun store, and quickly blurted "I mean tired! I feel like I'm tired! Your brains are safe!"

Remember, kids: If you're ready for Zombie Apocalypse, you're ready for anything. :)

Another memo from the Gnomes of Zurich:

Our paid-off Zionist co-conspirator architect who mouthpieced for us in the comments here now gives the full Official Storyline here. Read and believe, serfs of the NWO. We're off to have a mint julep on the veranda of the global plantation.

Overheard at Calhoun's...

While I was dining at Calhoun's on my day off, I couldn't help but be fascinated as two guys at the bar regaled a local EMT with their experiences contracting in Iraq:

"Yeah, a lot of firefighters and cops over there are civilian contractors. These people need a lot of help just setting up basic... I mean, think about it: They've never been able to just pick up a phone and dial 911 to get help before, so they just don't know what to make of it. And when they do call, they've got real problems. There's not much rescuing kittens, it's.. I mean, like, 'Hello? Hello? Yes, my child has bring into the house an anti-tank mine. It is sitting on the living room floor. I live in the four story apartment, on the third story. Can you help me, please? What do I do?' ...and I'm thinking An anti-tank mine? Buddy you don't need the fire department, you need the army!"

Can't swear to the veracity of any of it, but the bit about the anti-tank mine was just too funny to not pass on.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Boomsticks: Sometimes it doesn't pay to be first...

Making fun of French military prowess (or lack thereof) is almost a cottage industry in the blogosphere, and makes it easy to forget that they were responsible for the biggest revolution in military small arms since the invention of the flintlock.

In 1884, France's archnemesis across the Rhine upgraded their thirteen year-old Mauser rifles with the addition of a tubular magazine, giving their troops a significant advantage over the French, who were still using the single-shot 11mm Gras turnbolts. The French, who had already issued a tubular-magazine repeater, the Austrian-designed Kropatschek, to their Naval Infantry, immediately began to modify the design for general issue to the army.

Work on the project was halted by the news that one Mssr. Vieille at the French state gunpowder factory had invented a remarkable new propellant that didn't foul the bore, produced greater velocities with less pressure, and (most importantly) didn't fill the air with a dense cloud of white smoke when fired. The importance of the last can't be overstated: on the pre-radio battlefield, command and control would break down rapidly once everything became obscured in a thick fog of powder smoke.

Realizing that if their chemist could discover it, so could anyone else's, the French rushed to get a small-bore smokeless powder repeater into the hands of the troops as fast as possible. The off-the-shelf Gras-Kropatschek hybrid designed by Lebel got the nod. Conversion to the new smaller bore was done by the simple expedient of fitting a smaller barrel to the existing and proven design. The case for the new round was made by shortening and radically tapering the existing 11mm Gras cartridge case. This would allow older rifles to be re-barrelled and would get the radical new weapons into the field as fast as possible, but the decision would return to haunt the French for decades to come.

When the veil of secrecy over the new French wonder-weapon was lifted in 1886, the result was world-wide military panic. Every nation's rifle (especially the Germans, who had just re-armed their troops with expensive new Mausers) was obsoleted overnight. Committees around the globe began looking for modern designs to outfit their troops. In the next twelve years, any country with even a pretense of military prowess adopted a new rifle, many of them designed from clean sheets of paper and firing brand-new cartridges.

Among the storm of new innovations was the charger-loading system designed by Mauser, whereby a rifle's magazine could be filled instantly by thumbing rounds in off a stripper clip. The French, saddled with their tubular magazine Lebels, began casting about for a box magazine rifle. They settled on a design by Berthier which mated a Mannlicher-type box magazine to the Lebel's action. The only problem was that, due to the chubby, tapered, adapted-from-a-black-powder cartridge, the magazine only held three rounds in an era when Mausers held five and Enfields, ten.

As WWI engulfed the continent, the importance of organic automatic weapons at the company or even platoon level was grasped. Designs like the Lewis gun and the BAR would etch their names in history. The French effort, chained to a relic of a cartridge that was completely inappropriate for a box-magazine-fed automatic, has become a synonym for dismal failure in gun lore: The Chauchat.

Every time you get the urge to be an early adopter, think of France and the 8mm Lebel.

(This post also available on Betamax.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Boomsticks: Another bingo square covered...

Some time back, at a gun show, I chatted with a young guy about old military rifles. When he mentioned that he had quite a few older French pieces, I indicated that if he ever wanted to part with any that were of WWI vintage he should give me a call. It paid dividends yesterday when he got in touch with me and let me know that he was preparing to sell off a Berthier Mle. 07/15 M16 and a Berthier Mousqueton d'Artillerie Mle. M. 16, along with some ammo and some once-fired brass. I asked if he'd take a Spanish Oviedo Mo. 1893 and a small amount of cash for the pair. He seemed stoked about the idea.

If all goes well, I'll be an octagonal-receivered Mosin and an uncut M.95 Steyr-Mannlicher away from having an example of the issue longarm of every major combatant in WWI and WWII. W00t!

It's a good omen.

You know your day is off to a good start when you get your first good cackle of the morning by clicking over to to be greeted with the headline: Dog goes berserk, destroys Elvis' teddy bear.

Don't ask me why, but for some reason that just completely kicked over my giggle box. *Snicker*

Boomsticks: Reductio ad Absurdum.

It needs a 50-rd magazine. And a Surefire M900 vertical foregrip light.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Quote of the Day:

From the comments section here: "It is amazing when someone who cannot spell computer is trying to use one." -BobG.

Blog Stuff: The Illiterati.

Thanks to the computer revolution, some pundits say, the lost arts of grammar are being borne back to our shores on a rising tide of electronic journals, letters, and bulletin boards. The thinkers who opine that obviously do not have internet connections, or they would grasp the fatuousness of their claim. The truth is this: Thanks to the computer revolution, keyboards have been plunked down in front of millions of people who, judging from the available evidence, have difficulty figuring out which end of the spoon goes in their mouth, let alone composing a grammatically proper and correctly spelled English sentence.

Marko has ably tackled the They're/Their/There conundrum that seems to daily stump tens of millions of my proto-simian countrymen, so allow me to offer another free lesson or two:

1)"It's" means "It Is", as in "It's going to use a good dictionary intead of some idiotic spellchecker, just to make sure it isn't making an ass of itself." Conversely, "Its" is the third-person neuter possessive pronoun, as seen here: "Its LiveJournal became the laughingstock of the internet because it couldn't be bothered to learn to write at a third grade level."

2) Ditch Spellchecker, buy Webster's. "Reek" is what your skivvies do if you don't change them for three days running; "wreak" is what you do with havoc. If I read one more professionally edited and published novel where someone "reeks havoc", I'm going to wreak havoc go on a killing spree.

Pass this along. There are some fantastically literate people out there. Don't let Marko and I be left shouldering this burden alone. Help us...

...spread a bit of ridicule, I guess. It ain't like we're actually going to change anything, so we might as well get a chuckle from the cretins.

For some moments, there are no words...


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

From the "Couldn't happen to a nicer guy" department...

It looks like Ol' Whiskers is circling the drain.

Politics: To my readers in the UK.

It appears that your government is about to institute the same "Look! We're doing something!" terror alert system that we over here have been blessed with for almost five years now.

Having reaped the benefits of this system myself for lo these many years, and in the grand tradition of anglo-american friendship, I'd like to offer y'all some pointers on its interpretation:

1) You will spend 99.9% of your time at "Alert Level: Bert". What this means is that the government doesn't know what the hell is going on, everything seems to be business as usual, but they don't want you to forget that Achmed Amatol and Seamus O'Semtex are still running around loose someplace.

2) You will occasionally see "Alert Level: Ernie". This means that the federales have captured someone with a swarthy complexion who babbled vague and heavily-accented threats about blowing up the infidels. You should go to the store and buy duct tape.

3) You will never see "Alert Level: Cookie Monster", because if they set the alert level at that, and then someone ran over Mrs. Smith's toy poodle and claimed they did it because Allah told them to, the howls for sacking the government would be audible in Kuala Lumpur.

Enjoy it, and remember: It may not be any damned good for protecting against terrorists, but it makes for good punchline material.