Thursday, July 24, 2008

Everybody's an expert.

KdT offers his opinions on rifles.

Perhaps he'd like to hear my opinions on supermarket loyalty cards. After all, I own and use several of them quite proficiently, and I've read about them, so surely my opinions are every bit as valid...

I hate to single Kim out like this, and it's mostly because his post happened to cross my line of sight while these thoughts were percolating in my brain, but this is one reason I've shied away from intarw3bz gun boards so much; everybody's an expert, and nobody's opinion counts for more than anyone else's. Any enthusiastic hobbyist can hang out a shingle and profess their expertise.

As time has gone by, the list of people whose opinion on guns to which I give any serious consideration has gotten mighty damn short. After all, if I know more about the topic than you do and have more hands-on experience than you do, why should I listen?


Anonymous said...

Because you might accidentally learn something?

Anonymous said...

So how about some expert factual criticism of what he wrote?


Tam said...

Why, James? It's been done to death a hundred jillion times over the last decade on the intertubes.

In case you didn't get the vibe from my post, when you've done it to put bread on the table for a decade and a half, it gets pretty f$cking boring doing it for free in your spare time, too. I think the only people still chattering about "9mm v. .45" and "DGI v. piston" are doing it to hear their heads roar and would be much happier arguing over "Kirk v. Picard" or "Wolverine v. Han Solo".

Keith said...

Bah! Everyone knows that even armed with an AR Han Solo could kick Kirk, Picard, and Wolverines asses at the same time.

Jayson said...

Pfft. Wolverine would totally beat Han's ass.

I notice a lot of online people getting...testy, lately. Is it the heat? Obama? Flouride in the water?

Farmer Frank said...

Tam: As someone who HAS done it for more than two decades to put food on the table, you said it well.

I just wrote a couple of pieces on my blog of a similar nature but I wrote them to straighten out some of MY OWN thinking, not to change opinions. (I've long since given up charging at windmills.)

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Don Gwinn said...

Wolverine is supposed to be "The best at what I do" and I love the guy and all, but . . . he loses. A lot. I think they figure people love Logan, so they can afford to throw him to the wolves every once in awhile when the Hulk needs an ego boost or something.

Similarly, I like Kim, but I sorta drifted away from reading him when he insisted to me that public school teachers have the legal power to force kids to take Ritalin against their parents' will. I'm not even allowed to recommend such a thing unless the kid's already got a prescription from a doctor. This is not speculation on my part; I do this for a living.
But on the internet, we're all experts, and I'm sure there's somebody out there rolling his eyes at something stupid I've said right now.

Which reminds me, I need to go check the martial arts thread at Last I looked, somebody was explaining that it IS TOO possible to kill somebody with a palm strike to the nose by shoving a broken chunk of nose bone into his brain. Never mind that it's physiologically impossible, never mind that Pancrase in Japan has had heavyweights like Bas Rutten knocking people out with palm-heel strikes to the face for 15 years and nobody's gotten killed yet. What does that matter on the internet?

pdb said...

So how about some expert factual criticism of what he wrote?

I believe KdT's use of the words "knockdown power" made that effort entirely moot.

(I know, I know, like I'm one to talk!)

og said...

I know two things about guns:
1: I like to shoot 'em.
2: I don't have enough.

If someone wants my opinion on those two items, I are an expert. Beyond that, I are an amateur. I'm not even qualified to say someone else isn't qualified.

Did I mention I like shooting?

BryanP said...

I first encountered you online when I joined THR shortly after it got started. My knowledge of and experience with firearms was quite limited, mostly to firing a Taurus revolver I had acquired as my first gun.

It didn't take me very long to figure out which people seemed to have a pretty good idea of what they were talking about. I posted occasionally, but mostly I read and asked questions.

Today I consider myself rather more knowledgeable than the average bear on the subject, but by no means am I an expert. I did learn quite a bit though. The internet has been quite helpful to me in that regard.

Unfortunately well over 2/3 of the people I found most informative no longer (or VERY rarely) post on THR, TFL or the like.

the pawnbroker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trebor said...


You might want to add Zak Smith to your list. While his experience stems mainly from 3 Gun, he is a serious competitor and shooter and knows his equipment. When he talks about equipment performance, maintainence, and related issues, I pay attention. I also notice he present's his experience as what it is. He doesn't claim to be a secret squirrel or anything.

When it comes to AR's, I've been reading Pat Rogers very closely. It's amazing how many internet experts will argue with him to his face on subjects they know 1/100th as much about. I think he's given up on THR for that reason.

Canthros said...

The Internet is a fantastic reminder about the adage concerning the correlation between opinions and sphincters.

Not that I'm not an offender, but I do try to be careful about opening my trap, given its habit of attracting my feet.

John said...

The comments left on Kim's entry emphasize your point even more. Everyone with an ax to grind regarding the M16/M4 or the 5.56mm added their expert opinions to the mix.

Divemedic said...

Tam, you DO know alot- for a girl!!

Just kidding- you are one of the most knowledgeable people I know of on the subject- my respects. My own knowledge is limited to:

1 I am not as good at shooting them as I would like to be

2 The ones I like are expensive

3 I don't own enough guns OR ammo OR mags for them

4 Kirk would kick Picard's Frenchie little butt, and then have intimate knowledge of a green chick with red hair (To loosely quote Eddie Murphy- you know you have been in space too long when you are willing to screw a green chick)

Stingray said...

"I think the only people still chattering about "9mm v. .45" and "DGI v. piston" are doing it to hear their heads roar and would be much happier arguing over "Kirk v. Picard" or "Wolverine v. Han Solo"."

If I was a woman, this would've made me spontaneously ovulate with the urge to have your babies, as Rachel Lucas puts it. Hell, I think I might've ovulated anyway, which is slightly puzzling, to say the least.

alath said...

KdT said: "penetrate most body armor (or at least render the armor-wearing shootee incapacitated from the shock)"

Is this another version of the knock-them-down-with-sheer-kinetic-energy-even-if-there-is-no-penetration story? Or is it a version of the disable-them-with-a-shot-to-a-nonvital-area-via-mysterious-shock-waves theory?

Like you say, Tam, it's useless to aruge the truth/falsity of these things. I treat them something like narrative genres or cultural myths. As in, "This is another version of the old urban legend about how oil companies have the technology to make cars run cleanly for free, but they're keeping it secret."

Or, "Bill told everyone at the gun store the story about how the NRA and the Brady Bunch secretly conspire to keep the gun control debate going and thus keep drumming up business for each other."

These things are almost like religions. If someone is a believer, you aren't going to talk them out of it and if they are an unbeliever, you aren't going to talk them in to it.

It's fun to catalog the genres of stories, though; to analyze the psychology behind them, to see who is going to buy into which ones and speculate about why, and to judge them for literary merit. As in, "Golly, what a clever retelling of the old 'shotgun that will save your life through sheer intimidation' story!"

I almost think you could generate a psychological profiling tool by asking the profilee to respond "believe" or "disbelieve" to a standardized list of these things.

bumper sticker philosopher said...

I dunno, I read gun boards including Mr. DuT's. Yeah, there's a lot of horse puckey there, but you have to have your BS filter engaged like you would anywhere else.

Similarly, I've been in legitimate gun shops where the guy behind the counter tried to feed me a line of crap 6 inches wide. ("Sure you can fire LRN 9mm in a Glock. No, their rifling is just like any other pistol".)

My advice is to listen politely and engage your preemptive mental flushing mechanism when the BS trips your meter.

Carteach0 said...

Tam, I didn't think about it much till I read your mini-rant, but you are right.

I'm not an expert on anything, but I have a few years experience behind my 'opinions'. I used to frequent various shooting forums, but have slacked off in the last year or two.

Just to vent, and mostly for the joy of writing to myself I started my own shooting blog. In a year it's gotten only 25K hits and most posts pass without comment. I'm happy with that... it means no stress or arguments.

As for choosing a new weapon for the military, my only opinion is this: Ask the people who will have to use it, and NO ONE ELSE. Those are the only people who's opinion really counts. Even mine is pretty much worthless (g)

BobG said...

The "9mm vs .45" debate will go away when the "Mac vs PC" arguments stop; I'm not holding my breath for either one...

amcz said...

"Wolverine v. Han Solo"

Wolverine wins, of course. He's got the Adamantium Advantage.

Adamantium is also useful in firearms: Adamantium receivers, sights, and "barrel shrouds".

Just don't put Adamantium grips on your gun. So tacky!

Steve Skubinna said...

And of course, adamantium armor in Master of Orion II is the shiznit!

As for opinions on firearms, or anything else, I enjoy reading them when presented as opinions, especially when backed up by personal experience. Where I tune out is when the "Glocks are all crap and anyone who uses one is an idiot" types show up. The people who will out of hand dismiss a caliber or manufacturer or design simply because... well, for no good reason presented.

Early on in the military, I became very suspicious of the stories about the lethality of the 5.56 round. It was described doing things that just didn't seem possible, from my limited knowledge. Now that troops are having to deal with the effects of reduced muzzle velocity as a result of the M4, the emperor's clothes are looking less and less substantial. I wonder how much of our commitment to that round was due to barracks rumor being taken as gospel?

Of course it doesn't help when Hollywood perpetuates such nonsense, so most non shooters think any hand held weapon will send the victim flying ten feet. Sadly, I sometimes speak with shooters who appear to have internalized a few myths.

Anonymous said...

"Never argue with an ID10T. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

That's his opinion and he's welcome to it fwiw, well said on your part.


GeorgeH said...

It doesn't take a computer to bitch.
Guys with M14/M1A fetishes loathe the 5.56 and spend their evenings rubbing secret sauce (you don't wanna know) into their birch stocks. I remember their spiritual fathers, perhaps actual fathers, who claimed the replacement of the Garand with the M14, a rifle that couldn't be made to work reliably or accurately and had a wimp cartridge besides, spelled doom for the US Army. They wrote articles in The American Rifleman, and letters to the sporting mags and newspapers and blathered endlessly on the firing line and in every gunshop.
No doubt their grandfathers had stroked out when the Trapdoor 45/70 was replaced with the Krag and were part of the grumblers when the Springfield replaced the Krag.

aczarnowski said...

Point taken. I was an agreeing opinion over at Kim's post, but I hear you too.

To the particular post, I didn't take it so much as bashing the current (though that's there) but more of a request to look around the playing field. After 30 years, why shouldn't the .mil re-evaluate small arms?

If somebody chirps up with "change over costs" then we'll just have to disagree on that point.

PS: Han. He shoots first. ;)

staghounds said...

And if you read century old gun magazines, or century and a half old gun books, you'll see the same controversies.

There's seldom one right answer.

James said...

You mean that there is someone who takes him seriously? I'm always afraid to go near that site in case his ego fell over and crushed my computer.

Tam said...

"There's seldom one right answer."


Heresy! Blasphemer!

Reno Sepulveda said...

It's just amazing how we get so... invested in these matters. I once had guy put a knife to my throat because I voiced disdain for Zepp's Physical Graffiti.

Ahhhh good times.

Steve Skubinna said...

GeorgeH, your point about American Rifleman and heated opinions reminds me of the Great Disaster that befell the Winchester Model 70 in 1964.

Everybody knows what happened concurrent to the redesign: the skies darkened, the Earth trembled, the dead rose from their graves, and life has been a hollow mockery ever since.

So last year sometime I read an article in Rifleman by somebody who wanted to see what the reaction was at the time. He searched and... nothing. Nada, zip, the big goose egg. Winchester blasphemed against nature and nobody complained. The phenomenon grew up long after the redesign, when gun people retroactively decided that it was The Worst Thing Ever.

Oh, and don't get snide about the secret sauce. Although I prefer to call it "gunstock paste." It does a terrific job on my M1 Garands and Carbine.

Tam said...


Yea, I've bitched here before about how silly and impassioned folks can get about these things.

Steve Skubinna said...

By the way, Tam, I'm still waiting for your obiter dicta on supermarket savings cards.

What is, bar none, the best possible card for all around shopping use, and anyone using a different one is a fag?

HokiePundit said...

I don't know...KdT's served in the South African military and seems to have hinted that he's either shot or been immediately been present when attackers were shot (I don't know about rifles, but he's made it all-but-for-sure that he's seen it happen with 9mm ball ammo). If what he's saying about these things is a somewhat roundabout way of describing what he's seen happen firsthand to men being shot then that gives him a leg up on the discussion, even if he's using debunked terms to describe a concept.

Tam said...

"What is, bar none, the best possible card for all around shopping use, and anyone using a different one is a fag?"


BTW, they just opened a Fresh Market around the corner. I like Fresh Market, because I do not need to keep plebeian dogtags on my keychain to shop there. ;)

Michael said...

""Wolverine v. Han Solo"

Wolverine wins, of course. He's got the Adamantium Advantage.

Nah - Han's got the luck!

Anonymous said...

I view the gun boards as a collective pile of comments with a few nuggets of real knowledge. The key is to figure out what is what.

I continoually follow the same topics and keep up with all of the different posts then store them on my computer. I sort them out into related topics and then I can search for trends and learnings.

This approach works great for reloading or the like. Truly bs responses stick out badly when compared to the collective experience.

The problem with this approach is dogma. Therefore one must keep an open mind and verify internet facts.

HTRN said...

Tam, not to step on any toes, but by your logic, you should only be commenting on the selling of firearms, not the quality, or elegance of design.

Lets face it, to really wear that "expurt" badge, one should really have a Mech E. degree, and real world experience in the design, manufacture, and testing of firearms, and honestly, is there anybody like this blogging about them?

Joseph said...

On the gun blogs I have read, many people post about personal experiences. I have noticed that not very many of them are able to differentiate between personal opinion and factual information.
So, to many posters, personal experience becomes fact, since it is all they know.

I get a kick out of the "9mm vs. .45" debate. I think it's more about shot placement, myself....:)

Tam said...


"Tam, not to step on any toes, but by your logic, you should only be commenting on the selling of firearms, not the quality, or elegance of design."

I try and make it abundantly clear that my observations are purely based on what I've seen break, my own hands-on experience, and information gleaned from people I trust as SME's (and I'm leery with handing out that trust.)

I always try and make sure that I include plenty of qualifiers and that I am in no way speaking ex cathedra, unlike certain other commentators.

But If I say "I wouldn't buy a Brand X because ten out of twelve that we sold over a six month period were returned with broken framulators", then you can cool believe that what I said was true.

staghounds said...

I understand the framulators have been redesigned.

Verification word zhtam

Don Meaker said...

Right up front. My patent is 6,079,138. Permits a 24 inch barrel in a 28 inch rifle. With a longer barrel the 5.56 has greater effectiveness. I like straight down ejection, so that you can use left or right handed firing, for better use of cover.

In house to house, I like 12 gauge shotgun, so 25 each .30 caliber pellets (number 1 shot) can each have a chance to take out my opponent's spinal chord. Can't fight to well with no spinal chord.

The 5.56 is great when you don't know quite where the bad guy is. The 7.62 is better when you do, or when you need the bullet to blow through concrete blocks first. But for arms length social situations, a 12 gauge gives you multiple chances to hit and kill.

Earl said...

I was not too happy at Kim's post, but because I see another weapon purchased for the worst reasons and given to soldiers because it will be better for ( fill in your favorite ). I served in an army that picked up three fool weapons, two of them for some mistaken belief that women couldn't handle what the military had and one that had to have tracks to keep the infantry armored up with the tankers... but then I only had to use them as best I could - and I survived, so they must have been a success.Right? Wait until the next war to pick your battle rifles and give it to the grunts in the Army and Corps to play with and break and fix and use... legislative aides don't cut it. Ah, well, and ironing all the shirts had mellowed me out - until I heard from the experts about too many things. When you decide what the military should arm up with Tam, tell me and we will work on Congress.

Jeffro said...

Gun discussions are politics and religion wound up into one issue, with the corresponding effects.

Oldsmoblogger said...

9mm is better if you have an unobtanium shoulder thing that goes up. It's worth an extra 24 furlongs per fortnight muzzle velocity, easy.

Owlau: What they call the owlery at Durmstrang, I think.

Kristopher said...

Rifling ... bah.

It's just a passing fad.

Kim du Toit said...

"I try and make it abundantly clear that my observations are purely based on what I've seen break, my own hands-on experience, and information gleaned from people I trust as SME's "

Yup. Two years in the South African Army, and sundry "tours" to combat zones, coupled with some visits to Army field hospitals, all happen to have given me some small background when it comes to discussing military rifles.

Also fortunately, my milserv happened to coincide with the substitution of the Galil (R4) for the R1 (FN-FAL), so I have some small passing familiarity with the effective differences between the 7.62 Nato, 5.56 Nato, and the 7.62 Soviet.

As for "knockdown power": I don't bother with any of the Sanow stuff, and try to apply some geek formulae to make a case. What I saw was a goblin absorb 7 torso hits with 9mm FMJ and continue to threaten until his little rampage was ended by a single chest hit from a 7.62 Nato bullet.

My experience with centerfire guns, therefore, happens to be a little more ummm personal than exchanging them for money over a shop counter or playing cop/soldier at some tacticool training center (both of which I've also done, by the way).

None of which matters, really, because the post in question was all about the .mil's intransigence in replacing a weapon wihch is manifestly inferior, with one which actually works.

I even beseeched people not to start the platform/caliber arguments, but I have little control over how people respond in my comments section.

It had very little to do with my knowledge of firearms -- which, as I always stress, is limited to the shooting thereof, and not much to the mechanics.

I know an absolute shitload about supermarket card programs, however, and you debate me on that issue at your peril.

Nice knowing you, Tam.

Tam said...

To be fair, that was about as sanguine as I expected.

Ed Foster said...

O.K., here goes. One and a half tours with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, MOS 2111, Bravo 1/5. Engineer at Colts, M-4 project. Ran Q.C. and design at Continental Machine Co for 8 years (Stag, Rock River, Bushmaster, and some Armalite).
I designed the left handed upper Mark has been taking credit for, and they still haven't done anything with the .22rf conversion I patented and signed over. But, I have hopes for the new .50 cal, so I won't make waves. Design engineer at Smith and Wesson (great revolvers, O.K. semi-autos, shabby to unsafe longarms), but I bailed in a hurry when I found out the rifle program was being run by lunatics.
Worked with Mack Gwinn up at MGI industries, developing his switch barrel, switch magwell AR, and hope to finish up the beltfeed for it in the next few weeks. So,I think I'm competent to comment.
I was massively bummed when they took most of our M-14's away, but I soon noticed something that made scientific sense years later.
With a jacketed bullet, diameter doesn't matter, velocity does. Hydrostatic shock and penetration are pretty much the entire show in a military cartridge.
With softpoint bullets (which I favor for non-uniformed scum) the situation changes dramatically. All that extra lead mushrooming spreads the projo's energy quite effectively, spending it inside the target instead of pushing gravel half a mile beyond it.
As for the stories about Abdul taking 5 or 6 hits and still returning fire, it's actually been true a few dozen times, after being hit with both 5.56mm and 7.62mm. Thank the tens of thousands of syringes found after almost any Iraqi firefight, filled with massive doses of adrenaline.
The Marine Corp (admittedly using 20 inch barrels and the fragile, "splatable" 77 grain Sierra Matchking bullet) have had no problems putting down non drugged up Afganis out to almost half a mile, even though they're bigger, tougher, and a whole world meaner than Arabs.
As for the famous M-16 "unreliability", Bullshit. I carried the weapon for 3 years, I have been responsible for the production of more than half a million of them in the last 15 or so years, and it just doesn't happen in a combat unit. Do you honestly think people would knowingly go in harms way with weapons that don't work, and not tell anybody?
O.K., perhaps my personal experiences were atypical, or my memory is getting a bit clouded. Let's consider the opinions of folks more current than me.
A friend of mine, Bobby Cromer, returned from Afganistan a few months ago, after serving in security and counter sniper jobs with the 10th Mountain Division, covering mine removal teams.
Not a word about reliability problems, in one of the driest, dustiest places on earth. Although I did have to send his unit quite a few charging handles about half way through the tour. They do take a beating from the grit.
Next case, J.B. Stern, a SEAL buddy and former Marine who just returned from his fifth tour, one in Afganistan, four in Iraq. He's doing quite nicely on the titanium knee he won in Haditha. Again, not a word about the weapon doing anything but work.
I mentioned Mack Gwinn up at MGI. You hear all kinds of sea stories in the firearms industry, so I had my brother Ray, a retired Navy Commander, check him out through the Officer's Association. His comment was"two thirds of his record is still blacked out, but what's available reads like three John Wayne movies back to back".
The most decorated SEAL still living is CPO Wilson. Supposedly, he runs off for three or four pages in his biography about some whack-job Special Forces Captain he worked with named Gwinn. I think the bonafides are reasonably well established.
Mack ran CIA operations in Laos for 9 years, 2 of which were spent in hospitals. With the exception of a doorgunner I know who was wise enough to not use tracers, he's probably killed more badguys than any other person I have met. Tell him the -16 jams all the time, and expect a VERY salty response.
As a bit of related history, after retiring from the Army in '72, he settled in Maine and, with nothing but his pension and 13 purple hearts, started a little thing called Bushmaster.
Moving along to shooting buddy Air Force Captain Ken Hagenow, who trains designated marksmen down at Ft. Benning. Reliability, long range markmanship? The norm is head sized groups all day at 500 meters.
Simple fact: the weapon has been type improved for 40 years, and gets better and better, regardless of what the gun store commandos preach. Anything that uses an M-16 magazine but is not a -16 is inferior to the real deal.
Go to any rifle match in the U.S. today, and you will see M-16's and AR's taking every trophy, at 200, 300, 600, and 1,000 yards. Lots of guys are using the 6.8mmSPC as a cheater round at 600, but the 77 grain load works as well in the 5.56.
The NRA actually had to start a new class for my beloved old M-14/M1A, because it couldn't compete with the AR's, even at 600 or 1,000yards.
If the AK is so wonderful, why is it that the Russians, the people who invented it, have replaced it with a clone of the M-16, which they claim gets 200% more hits than the Kalasnikov and doubles it's effective range?
The AK was designed as a full automatic replacement for the otherwise superior SKS (which is lighter, somewhat more accurate, much better pointing and handling).
If you're not doing full auto fire at less than 200 meters, you're not using the weapon in the only area if has any real worth.

Anonymous said...


Everybody kno that:

Adamantium is +5.56

Han's Blaster is +6.8

Solo wins.

Marry me Tam.


Kristopher said...

Mosin-Nagants for the win!

John B said...

as to why you should listen?
cos even a complete id10t might just have a thought, or point of view that hadn't occurred to you before. If nothing else, it just might give you a laugh.

Just remember when I disagree with you, it's always respectful. Because I do treasure and adore your opinion and attitude. Mostly though, despite the fact that 1700 miles separate us, you couldn't miss my fat tush with your sweet foot at any range.