Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Automotif LI...

Spotted this in the parking lot of the Marsh supermarket out in Brownsburg while heading home from Premier Arms...

It appears to be somebody's '63 Chevy Bel Air wagon, being driven around while halfway into project car status...

 Check out the metalflake candy-apple red interior! With matching shift knob!

And although it's not immediately apparent in this photo, yes the engine is painted metalflake candy-apple red to match the dash.

Monday, September 29, 2014


A hundred rounds of Remington UMC ball ammo today with no malfunctions to report. Total round count now at 1500; five hundred to go until bath time. Although I've got a reasonable amount of trigger time on the PPX at this point, the long and light trigger still gets me throwing the occasional shot a little low when I try and run it fast.

I figured out one way to shave time from my glacially slow reloads from concealment. At some point during a string of "1-reload-1" drills I realized that my hand is clearing my gun burkha by throwing it way back out of the way, thereby moving way past the magazine on my hip. I then have to move my hand back forward and make a complete second motion to grab the magazine. I don't know how much time I'll get by just "wiping" my hand toward the mag under the shirt, but it's got to improve the 2.75-3.55 reload times I was seeing today. (The PPX's mag well is a separate issue. It's not friendly for the speed reload...)

None of those are the biggest surprise.

The other day, CNN ran a piece on the "five biggest surprises" of our not-really-a-war,-honest in Syria. (This is kinda like a war, only our president has promised we won't stick our military in too far.)

Oddly, not one of their five line items was about how suddenly cool bombing hadjis is with mainstream Democrats when it's Barry's idea. No giant papier-mâché Obama heads on the local campuses or picket signs with caricatures of the president as a warmongering Pan troglodyte (you can only do that when the prez is a cracker, otherwise it's disrespectful of the office and racist... which have been pretty much the same thing since January of '09, come to think of it.) Instead it's just more "Kumbayah", only with a chorus about drone strikes.

I found this image at Random Nuclear Strikes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More on Moore...

The fact that Mr. Vaughan apparently fetched a heater from his vehicle has triggered mention of "gun in parking lot" laws, like Indiana and many other states have enacted.

It is my considered opinion that those laws are entirely about the convenience of CCW holders, in that they allow a person to tote to and from work, but they don't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to stopping a fox that's actually gotten into the chicken coop.

Let me think over some of the last office-type gigs I worked...

There was the one where I was working in the shipping & receiving room of a Fortune 500 company's regional offices: I was in a windowless back room on the twelfth floor of an office tower. If I'd heard shooting and craziness out in the offices, I could have bailed out the service door and headed down the fire stairs... to fetch my gun in the parking garage twelve floors below? Sorry, I left my cape at home today.

The secretarial gig at the scientific equipment company in the office park? If somebody had come in through the front door, he'd have been between me and my car. A pistol locked in the trunk of the Fiero might as well have been on Mars for all the good it would have done. Again, I'd be bailing out the back door yelling "Feets don't fail me now!" like a Looney Tunes character.

At the airport? I had a motorcycle. Where the hell was I supposed to lock the gun? Besides, the motorcycle was parked in the hangar right next to my office door. If I heard somebody yelling "Aloha Snackbar!" over in the FBO and I could get to the bike, my next action would not be to pull a Beretta Tomcat out from under the seat and go face down an unknown number of Kalashnikovs with it. No, I'd be takin' the highway to the danger zone across the taxiways and out the airport gates.

Besides, if I get out to the parking lot and get my gun from wherever it's secreted in the vehicle, by the time I could get back into the building, the first responding officers would be showing up. They'll be amped up, switched on, and looking for a crazy person with a gun running around inside the offices of I.N.C. Inc., and the batteries are dead on my "DON'T SHOOT! GOOD GUY!" beacon.

There's the occasional instance of a good guy running out to safety and then back in to the sound of the guns to save the day, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. While a gun in the parking lot might be a few minutes closer than the gun in the holster of a responding cop, the fastest response is the gun you have on your person right then.

Certified by Undertaker Laboratories.

My roommate often says that she commutes from the 1930s, and let me tell you, the 1930s are a dangerous place!

Because I hate wasting good material at an away game...

From a conversation at Joel's place about the Oklahoma nutter and the Last Boy Scout (no, seriously) who busted the necessary caps in his ass:
I have heard reports (which I have not confirmed, but why wait for that? Nobody else does,) that he ran to his car to fetch a piece, and if I had a Glock in the glove box and an AR in the trunk, you’d better cool believe it’s the trunk key I’ll be fumblin’ for.

If so, that raises a couple further interesting questions:
  1. Did Vaughan Foods have a No Totin’ policy?
  2. If so, was the COO, despite being not only the top banana but also a reserve po-po, following that policy?
  3. Also if so, will that policy be changing in light of recent events?
A bit of googlin' later...
Nosing around, it does seem from this account (the most detailed I’ve found yet) that Vaughan fetched a carbine from his trunk. Which makes sense, because if I’m heading off to shoot somebody, I’m grabbing the biggest heater I have access to.
As folks who work in emergency services can tell you, while some volunteer po-po, firefighters, or EMT are whackers, the majority of them are actually painfully earnest and civic-minded people.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

His opinion means less than zero to me.

Bret Easton Ellis is running his suck about kids these days and how they need to get off his lawn, because they're not all studly like they were when he was one back in the '70s and '80s. (Like the pages of Vanity Fair are such a bully pulpit for calling people "wusses" in the first place; it's enough to sprain your eye-rolling muscles.)

Keep on truckin'.

I'm normally not a big fan of off-road pick 'em ups, but this video is just sick. I've watched it, like, three times already.

Wait, seriously?

Actual trigger tag seen today at the Mountain of Geese. Rendered doubly chucklesome by the fact that the company's gone by the much easier to spell "Para USA" moniker for a half dozen years now.

"Is that a dirk in your sporran, or are you just happy to see me?"

Kilted To Kick Cancer team fundraising totals as of 0700 today. Go pick an underdog and put 'em over the top! Only a few days to go!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Religion of "Workplace Violence"

This blood's no good for dancing, I guess.

Although much is being made in news articles about the guy being shot by "a sheriff's deputy", if you listen to the briefing, the "deputy" in question was the Chief Operating Officer of the food company who came out of his office and shot the bad guy off of his employee with a (presumably) concealed handgun. He just happened to be a "reserve deputy", maybe as a civic service thing, maybe because he'd contributed to the sheriff's election campaign; I don't know how those things work down in Oklahoma.

I bet he didn't think he was going to need to use that gun on a decapitation crazy Muslim convert when he went to work at his office job in suburban Oklahoma this morning.

I shouldn't have made fun of Hornady Z-Max.

Judging from the internet, part of being a "prepper" is that any time a news story comes on about something that could be bad, Solar flare EMPbola 5N stock market ISILflation crashes, or whatever, you warn everybody that "This is it!" and then run down to the basement and load magazines while rolling around atop a pile of MREs until it's time to go to work the next day, and sometimes that seems a little silly but...

...zomg! This is it! ZOMBIES!

Be right back. I gotta go load magazines while rolling around on my pile of MREs.

On a more serious note, this is a good reminder about how hard it is to treat diseases like Ebola with the resources of a Third World medical system, where not-actually-dead-yet people are getting carted to the cemetery. (And remember, if you're a prepper of the doomsday variety: If there is a TEOTWAWKI event, you'll wish that your post-apocalypse medical system was as robust as that of, say, Liberia.)

(H/T to Jim at SurvivalBlog.com for the link.)

Holder's Legacy

Fast & Furious, "Civil Rights" investigations that amount to pandering at best (and vote-buying with double jeopardy abuses at worst), the beat goes on...

Like most Attorneys General, the outgoing occupant of one of the highest patronage positions in the land was the Long Arm of his patron's ideology, and the Department of Justice's "Operation Choke Point" was a splendid example of Holder's DoJ acting as the current administration's whip hand.

Going to flea markets or walking the floor at GenCon, little smartphone-operated credit card swipers from Square, Inc. are ubiquitous, but you won't see them at gun shows (or, if you do, they're playing chicken with the company's user agreement.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tab Clearing...

Amazing mashup...

I really hates me some cancer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Moved a hundred rounds closer to the PPX getting a bath as well as burned up a hundred rounds of that nasty Sumbro stuff, so yay for killing two birds with one stone.

Getting somewhat more comfortable on the 25 yard plates. Gotta pick up the pace.

A hundred rounds of 124gr FMJ through the gun with no malfunctions to report, bringing the total to 1400 rounds. (Nasty-smelling, dirty, unburned-powder-leaving Macedonian ammo with probably a 100+ fps range in velocities, if muzzle reports and previous chrono runs are anything to go by.)

Gun Fixery...

Good basic post on getting started with simple home gunsmithing chores at WeaponsMan.

A few years back, when my visits to the gunsmithing shack became quarterly rather than hourly, I had to start doing more of my own gun chores rather than just dropping them off with the guys. This post would have been a handy headspace check when I was in that "Ohmigod, now I have to go buy my own copy of one of everything they had out in gunsmithing" phase.

Kilted To Kick Cancer 2014...

...is winding up in about a week and I haven't thrown the official, albeit diminished, VFTP Endorsement & Support to anybody yet. I've usually eschewed traditional juggernauts like Team JayG because "rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel" and picked the underdogs of Team Atomic Nerds, however Stingray has thrown his support to the also fairly juggernautish Team Ambulance Driver this year.

Since Team Borepatch is performing strongly without needing my help, I'm going to split the official endorsement between Team McThag and Team Guns & Coffee this year. Go Team(s)!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Jeeper Threeper...

Future Is Now Then!

Typing up the opening pages for what I intended to be a near-future cyberpunk-esque thriller back at the turn of the millennium, I had the protagonist's boss driving "one of those thunderously gauche new Cadillac two seaters, all slabs and angles."

The Allanté at the time being seven years in the grave, I was postulating that something might come of Cadillac's Evoq concept car, which was then making the auto show circuit.

Cadillac chickened out of the XLR 8 nameplate at the last minute, I bet.
Something did, of course: The XLR, Cadillac's Y-body Corvette stablemate. Sadly, it only lasted five model years and is now a half decade in the grave itself, just one of several details that will need fixing if I ever decide to dust that story idea off and keep it near future instead of recent past.

Scarce resource...

"Grandma? You look funny..."

I've gone down hard on motorcycles a few times, the kind of cataclysmic get-offs where, once the world and sky stop spinning and return to their regular places, you lie there and realize that you're not going to hop up and walk this off and so you just lay there for a bit to see what happens next.

I have to admit that this would have startled me:
Attorney Stephen Stubbs said his client, 29-year-old Ryan Chesley, was on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday when a taxi cut him off and he went down.

Stubbs said Chesley was lying on the ground when he looked up and recognized Tyson, who was yelling at people not to touch Chesley in case they inflicted further injuries.
Although, given how odd my dreams are, I guess I wouldn't be terribly shocked if the last thing I hallucinated as my CPU powered down for the final time was Mike Tyson directing traffic rather than Grandma beckoning at the end of a bright tunnel...

Malkin could be the skeptical Velma...

More PSH.

I liked it better when the news story was just about a crazy guy who'd hopped the White House fence and gone zig-zagging across the lawn. I felt pretty sure that the as-yet-unnamed dude was an off-his-meds loon who was obsessed with the president because that's generally who does that sort of thing; sane people with jobs rarely take a day off work to go get gang-tackled by the Secret Service White House detail.

Of course the media then revealed he was... dum-dum-DUMMM ...a homeless Iraq vet! And you know how crazy those vets of The BAD War are...
Further, they tossed his car and (in the breathless words of the talking head on the Today show) it contained a machete and two hatchets, as well as 800 rounds of ammunition... in addition to a small knife in his pocket! This was the signal to go to Brown Alert, as the newsreader went into full pants-$#!+ting hysterics.

I was quite literally rolling with helpless, shrieking fits of laughter as this island-dwelling herbivorous midget put a quaver in her voice describing this (and I quote) "arsenal of weapons". I suppose she thought the guy was going to get inside the front door, telepathically summon the junk from his trunk, parked blocks away, like he was Magneto or something, and then he'd load the "800 bullets" into the hatchets and use them to do some stupid thing from a bad Quentin Tarantino knockoff I guess because this whole train of thought is so stupid that I just can't even.

Seriously, people, pull yourselves together and use your heads for something other than a place to hang earrings. And whatever you do, don't look in the trunk of my car, because I was too lazy to drag the range bag in last night. If you flip that badly over some Boy Scout camping supplies, then a couple pistols and some ammo cans full of BBs will blast the sanity from your mind like reading book bound in human skin in a bad H.P. Lovecraft pastiche.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Spent the morning in my happy place again.
Fifty rounds of CCI Blazer 115gr FMJ with no malfunctions to report. Total now at 1300.

Summertime in SoBro, 2014 Edition...

Pedaled over to Zest for a late lunch with Bobbi yesterday when she got home from working the funky shift, forgetting that they closed at 3:00PM on Sundays. Luckily, it's not like there's any shortage of eateries in the neighborhood, so we turned the bikes around and headed for Twenty Tap instead.

Normally, one of the advantages to bicycling is there's no worries about finding a parking space, but not when it's Chamber of Commerce weather here in Broad Ripple on the official Last Weekend of Summer...

Despite there being a regular bike rack and three "hitching rail" type loops along the curb, we wound up having to chain up to a street sign. The picture above was taken as I was leaving, after the herd had thinned somewhat.

An ecosystem out of whack...

Is that not the headline of the century? Journalism school majors lie awake nights dreaming of being able to write a headline like that maybe once in their careers if they're lucky.

As an aside, this is what comes of an unbalanced ecosystem. Everybody knows that ninjas, polygamist or otherwise, are the natural prey of pirates. When pirates have been hunted to near extinction outside the Horn of Africa,the Straits of Malacca, and certain corners of the Caribbean, then the ninja population is bound to explode with consequences like the one in the headline.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Gotta go 2 #beheading, C U l8r"

Tweeting your way to jihad.

It's almost hypnotically appalling.

And in the vein of the previous post...

Here's something both fascinating and vaguely disturbing: Digitally skinning somebody.

Overheard in Front of the Television...

Man in TV Insurance Commercial: "There are always things between you and your dreams..."

Me (happily): "Horrible, eyeless things from outside of time!"
Having a bit of a Hello Cthulhu moment, I guess.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19th.

Today is the day to put on an eyepatch and go to the range with your ARRRRR-15.

(AK fans can't play, unless their gun is an Arrrrrsenal, of course.)

Excuse me, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

MkIII 22/45 with a lotta miles on the clock
I've been a member at the Marion County Fish & Game club for, I think, three years now. Those first couple years, my range time probably worked out to $50+/visit. Not so, this year. So far I've been successfully busting caps at least weekly, and sometimes two or three times a week.
Glock 19 in Dark Star Gear holster
More importantly, I've been more consciously trying to improve specific things, rather than just "shootin'". Working from the holster against the clock. Shooting smaller or further targets. Working on speed and transitions. And because I'm trying to keep track of benchmarks, I can see where I'm improving.

It's a lot easier to see improvement that way, as opposed to just shooting the same old holes in the same old B-27 at seven yards. Maybe I'll even start a training journal over at p-f.com, because I have SO much room for improvement. I'm just getting started.
Glock 19 with CTC LightGuard
So anyway, the point of this is that yesterday, as I was shooting steel plates at 25 yards weak hand only, I was happy that I'd been putting in the effort that I usedta wouldn't so that now I could do things I usedta couldn't.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #112...

Star M45 Firestar.

WhyHow We Fight

In writing my "Good Guys Win!" column for S.W.A.T., I spend a fair amount of time searching up news stories on the intertubes where honest citizens use firearms to defend themselves from bad guys. It's not a straight-up "Dead Goblin Count" because in armed self-defense, there's very rarely a dead goblin. There's often not even a shot one, although those certainly make for more dramatic reading than "Mr. Johnson said the burglar fled into the night. Police are searching for..." or "Mrs. Blascowicz held the intruders at gunpoint until police arrived."

I try to take a different tack from the NRA's "Armed Citizen" by picking four incidents every month that have a common theme and put a little fortune cookie wisdom in the photo caption. October's issue had four incidents where a good guy used a gun against an attacker with an edged weapon, and before anybody starts with the "Hurr hurr! Bringing a knife to a gunfight!", two of those incidents ended with the badly cut-up good guy getting an ambulance ride to the hospital right along with the shot-up assailant.

That's why I'm noting with interest John Johnston's "Sentinel Event" concept. We like to read the stories about Mrs. Blascowicz holding the perps at gunpoint with her deceased husband's service revolver, but is "Mr. Johnson was found dead in his Rochester home. The police say several valuables, including a coin collection and a registered handgun, were stolen," also a Defensive Gun Use story, just with a less happy ending? What about the ones where the citizen screws up and gets horsewhipped through the public square by the media? Could those have ended differently if the good guy had prepared differently?

I'm not saying everybody needs to be a ninja. I know people who are absolutely fearsome with everything from pistols to P'Kals to rolls of pennies, and I also know what it took for them to get that way and maintain that edge and frankly that level of dedication would seriously cut into my naptime.  There's got to be some sort of bell curve at work, but where's the sweet spot?

I'm gonna probably be coming back to this again, because there's a lot of grist for the thought mill here. But first I gotta go to the range and bust some caps. Just for fun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Fifty rounds of GECO FMJ. No malfunctions. Total now at 1250. Scored some gun show kydex because the lack of a holster was making me itch.

So, let me get this straight...

Americans are rightly leery of getting into yet another land war in Asia (I mean, other than some bombing, which apparently isn't "war"-war, in a Goldbergian sense) despite arguments that could be made about national interests, such as the proximity of the short-fused neolithic goatherds to the world's oil spigots as well as more mundane things like trying to build a successful YouTube empire based on shortening American citizens.

So the White House, sensitive to public opinion about "boots on the ground" jerks a general's leash short for even hypothetically suggesting that such a thing might be necessary to fight an overseas contingency kinetic-aliocious, or whatever it is we're calling not-actual-"war"-type-wars these days...

...and then turns around and orders 3,000 troops (that's six thousand individual boots on the ground, in case anybody's counting) to West Africa to... I don't know, shoot Ebola viruses or something.

I was going to get outraged and say "The military is not there to boost the president's poll numbers!" but that would be disingenuous; of course they are, and presidents have been using them for that since George had to make a standing army to go shake down Pennsylvanian farmers. But they should at least be used for military-type missions.

The administration says that the troops in West Africa will be there for logistical support reasons, to build hospitals and refugee housing and whatnot. But haven't I just spent a whole damned Iraq war hearing about how KBR and DynCorp and Spacely Sprockets can do that stuff cheaper and more effectively than the lumbering dinosaur of the DoD?

Are we sending 3,000 personnel into even theoretical danger so that congresscritters in tough races can go pose with carefully-selected-for-diversity photo-op platoons of ACU-clad troopies stacking rice bags and building hospitals among throngs of smiling wogs right before election time? It's cynical of me to think so, but if true, then for shame! (As though the parties responsible would know shame if it bit them on the ass.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hey, look what's on newsstands now!

I bet that article right there is especially insightful and witty and worth reading. You should buy a copy for yourself, and maybe one for each of your loved ones and pets, too!

(Although I have to give somebody else credit for the best cover blurb in the history of cover blurbs, which I am still kicking myself for not coming up with on my own...)


So, one thing I'd been curious about was the effect of, not only barrel length, but the presence or absence of a barrel/cylinder gap on various rimfire loadings. So I scooped up four different firearms and four different rimfire loadings I've used a lot in the past and headed to the range. There were Smith wheelguns in both 2" and 4" flavors, my trusty and much-abused bargain-basement fixed-sight 4.5" Ruger Mk III 22/45, and my beloved little Papoose, now sexied up with an inexpensive Tasco red dot.

For ammunition, I brought 20gr Aguila Super Colibris, Remington's 40gr Target blue box standard velocity, my ammo can of Federal Champion 36gr High Velocity bulk pack Wally World fodder, and a box of CCI's 40gr flat-nosed SGBs.

Aguila Super Colibris generate a bit more velocity than regular Colibris, making them usable in rifles, but they still have no powder and rely on the primer to propel the little conical 20gr bullet. This doesn't mean they turn the gun into a harmless toy, however; they will kill a possum or a groundhog deader than a hammer, especially if you walk up and shoot them behind the ear while the dog's got them cornered and you can guess how I know that.

From the 2" revolver, they averaged 522 fps; they were a little faster from the medium-sized handguns (543 from the 4" revolver and 532 from the 22/45) but the surprise was that they gained velocity in the Papoose. With only the primer to burn, the point of diminishing returns was probably halfway along the barrel someplace, but nevertheless they still managed a 623 fps average. They were probably moving at similar rates of speed from the Browning BL-22 I used with good effect on garden pests some years ago.

Remington's Target ammo did not much like short barrels or B/C gaps. It averaged 863 fps from the 2" Smith and 933 fps from the 4" gun and in both cases it had a velocity spread of ~100 fps and a Standard Deviation over 30 fps. From the Ruger pistol, the Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation were cut roughly in half relative to the 4" wheelgun, and the round averaged 946 fps.

It was ever so slightly more consistent from the 16¼" barrel of the Papoose, but in the carbine-length tube it belied its Standard Velocity descriptor by turning in an average velocity of 1124 fps, which is probably flirting with being supersonic at 68° and ~700' above sea level and I don't know what the humidity was but it wasn't too bad yesterday.

The Federal bulk pack ammo was a reminder that cartridges packed loose in cartons of five hundred or more and sold inexpensively aren't packed and sold that way because they were carefully assembled and weighed and sorted by white-gloved hands.

The Federal plated 36gr hollowpoints averaged 917 fps from the 2" revolver and 1021 from the 4" gun and had the rather dubious distinction of a velocity spread of 162.7 fps in a ten shot string from the 4" Smith, which is the largest I've yet seen in my chronoing experiments.

From the Ruger, they averaged 999 fps, and 1203 fps from the Papoose. It's hard to say too much based on a ten-shot string from ammo where the outliers can be so outlying, but in general the longer barrel and lack of a B/C gap again seemed to have a positive influence on consistency.
I am very fond of CCI's rimfire ammo in general and the SGB in particular. The 40gr LFN bullet will whack a critter but good, by all reports, and you rarely hear any complaints about the quality. I was prepared for it to show good, consistent numbers over the chrono, but what I was not prepared for was how consistent those numbers would be.

Even from the 2" snubby, the round averaged 911 fps with a spread of less than 50 fps between the fastest and slowest, and 978 fps with a similar spread from the 4" revolver. From the Ruger pistol, the average was 971 fps, and it was 1190 from the Marlin carbine. In no case was the Standard Deviation for a string over 20 fps, and it was actually 14.86 in the Kit Gun. I'd be nodding my head approvingly if that was centerfire duty ammo from a service pistol; for rimfire loads from a 2" revolver, that's freaky good. Good enough that I want to get some from other lots and see how much of a fluke it was.

I've got a fair amount of 22 match ammo, Wolf and Eley and Gold Medal Match and suchlike, squirreled away, and now I want to sacrifice some of it for science, too.

Anyhow, the takeaway from this, broadly, is you get what you pay for in consistent performance from ammunition. If you're plinking cans and it doesn't matter if the speed of your bullets varies by almost 200 fps from shot-to-shot, it's probably not that big a deal. If you're shooting a bullseye for score or a squirrel for the pot, you want the next bullet to go to the same spot as the one you used to sight in the gun. And that's why some kinds of .22LR cost more than others.

"The signal is coming from inside the house!"

Slowly, in the dark of night, the robot orbits your house. Using entirely passive "x-ray vision", without emitting telltale RF beams of its own, it builds a map of the floorplan, the furniture, and where everybody is.

It doesn't need to use an active emitter for its see-through-walls magic, you see, because it's using yours.

It's still right at the edge of SciFi, but only barely.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #111...

A 1955 Smith & Wesson K-22 Combat Masterpiece and a 1957 Smith & Wesson Model 34 Kit Gun. It was an excellent and relaxing morning at the range, thank you very much.

Weird dreams...

Renting a room in a seaside resort town. Riding my bicycle to a little cafe to do writing. The bike path skirted city parks and wended under the soaring overpasses of a tangle of highway interchange. While the scenery was SoCal, the weather was suspiciously Portland/Seattle. Apparently there are cool, wet deserts in dreamland.

It was raining and there were flash floods. Some of the tire ruts on the bike path were flooded and much deeper than you'd think: Only as wide as a bike tire but filled with water and deep enough to swallow a bicycle wheel to the axle. And ISIS was putting mines in the bottom of some of them. I think this is what comes of dreaming while the news is on.

There was this old Bosniak guy at the cafe every day with one dead eye and his skull obviously deformed from a long-healed injury. The guy behind the counter told me that he'd been hit in the head by a Nazi rifle bullet when he was with the partisans as a kid, and now he was going to head to Syria to fight jihad.

I decided to look for a new apartment closer to the cafe and the seaside, so I didn't have to ride under the interchange. LabRat had a car and offered to drive me around looking for places with good balconies; I wanted something in town, but with an ocean view where I could sit outside and look out over the buildings at the sea and write.

Then I woke up.

I'm doing this for you, internet!

(Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.)

In the interest of chronoing All The Things, I've got other things I'd like to try...

  • .22 Stingers or SGBs or similar loads from my M&P15-22, 4" Ruger 22/45, and 2" revolver. I'm curious to see the difference between latter two, especially; how much velocity is left after the Kit Gun's stubby tube and barrel/cylinder gap have taken their toll?

  • .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, and .32 H&R Magnum out of the same gun. (I've also got .32 S&W Long revolvers with 3" and 4" barrels...)

  • This gun needs to meet the chrono. For science.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

QotD: Understatement Edition...

Regarding the latest statements from Vlad, Aaron golf-clapped:
"Great example of the results of sophisticated adult soft-power diplomacy there guys, very nicely done."
I LOL'ed, but ruefully.

Thanks, internet.

Jesus wept, I was lying there in bed waiting for the Sunday morning grownup shows to come on TV, surfing a forum on the tablet, and I've already got so much ‪#‎sheepdog‬ and ‪#‎fitandfinish‬ derp all over me that I've completely lost heart about going back to the fun show to pick up some more .32 Magnum ammo later today. Some Cletus in the aisle would make a comment about racking a shotgun to scare burglars off or flashlights giving away your position* and I would just completely lose my $#!+, which I had just succeeded in getting back together into a tiny little ball after a deadline.

Thanks, internet, for ruining my plans for the day; now I'm just gonna drink beer and bitch on the Facebook.

At least I have the ammo guy's phone number so I can get the hookup for a weekday face-to-face delivery.

*No kidding, Bobbi and I walked past this couple of guys yesterday, and Jasper was earnestly explaining to Cletus about lasers giving away his position. "Did you hear that?" I asked Bobbi, "He was saying that if Sumdood used a gun with a laser on it, he'd..."

"Go hand-over-hand back up the beam and stab him with his ninja knife?"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fun Show Time!

Let's sing the Fun Show Song!
Flintlocks and Flop-tops
And Number Three Russians
Black-powder Mausers
From jackbooted Prussians,
Shiny Smith PC's from limited runs
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Socketed bay'nets
On Zulu War rifles,
Engraved, iv'ried Lugers
That make quite an eyefull
Mosin tomato stakes sold by the ton
These are a few of my favorite guns.

Rusty top-breaks!
Smallbore Schuetzens!
And all of Browning's spawn
I just keep on browsing my favorite guns
Until all my money's gone.
I've pretty much shot my gun show bolt for the month, but there's no harm in going to look, is there? The little show at the National Guard armory at Stout Field is one of my favorites. Mostly old guys with collectables and light on new stuff. No Beanie Babies. If you're looking to comparison shop plastic Glock'n'Wesson .40 cals, this isn't the show for you. If you're hoping to stumble across a good deal on a Martini Cadet or a Savage 99, it's more your speed.

Polite requests.

As Glenn Reynolds is fond of pointing out, the courts follow where the culture leads. Hopefully it will not become the cultural norm to discourage personal carry of firearms.

Panera Bread and Target are making polite little coughing noises at you.

God's Own Pistol Caliber

If America had a vote for the National Pistol Cartridge, the only contest would be for second place, because .45 ACP is the handgun round Mom would use to hunt wild apple pie from the back of a giant bald eagle. In the list of Great American Institutions, John Browning's thumb-sized thunderbolt falls somewhere between baseball and Mount Rushmore, and it's associated with one type of pistol.

The .45 ACP cartridge and the 5" barrel of the Colt's M1911 Government Model are as evolutionarily intertwined as Thomson's gazelles and cheetahs. But the round is available in every sort of firearm these days, from 2" derringers to 16" carbines; what effect does barrel length have on the velocities of your classic 230gr projectiles?

'Murrica! (and Spain.)
Here assembled we have three .45 ACP pistols with barrel lengths ranging from under four inches to over six. I also brought a box of standard velocity Winchester Ranger 230gr Bonded JHP and a box of Federal Tactical HST 230gr +P. Winchester claims 935fps from a 5" test barrel for the bonded Ranger loading, versus 950 for Federal's +P HST. Let's play with the chronograph!

My personal stable of handguns chambered in .45 ACP has dwindled to a handful of full-size 1911-pattern guns and a 6½" Smith & Wesson Model of 1955 Target, so Bobbi was kind enough to contribute her Star M45 Firestar to the cause of science.

The Firestar is a chunky little thing. With its 3¾" barrel and 6+1 magazine capacity, it's about the physical size of a Colt's Officer's Model, but its all-steel construction and beefy frame with full-length rails that the slide rides inside, a la the CZ75, give it an unloaded weight of 35.6 ounces, only a couple shy of a full-size Government Model.

Consequently, recoil was not unpleasant for such a tiny launch platform. Winchester's Ranger loading averaged 855.9fps from the stubby barrel, while the Federal +P HSTs turned in an 865.1fps average. These velocities were close enough that the fastest of the ten standard pressure loads was actually a couple feet per second faster than the fastest +P. Clearly there's still some powder left to burn.

My Jedi light saber. Built from the ground up on a bare Rock River frame by Gunsmith Bob, it was my last carry 1911. It's sat, unfired, un-lubed, and unloved on a shelf for almost three years and was drier than a popcorn fart. Not gonna lie: I took the bottle of FP-10 out of the range bag in anticipation of having to lube the bejeezus out of the thing to get it running, like a Briggs & Stratton for the first mowing of the season.

I needn't have worried.

From the 5" Kart barrel of the CCA gun, the Winchester Rangers averaged 941.1fps, almost exactly as advertised. The Federal +P load also slightly exceeded expectations, with an average velocity over ten shots of 963.9fps.

As an aside, I had forgotten how good the trigger on this pistol was; measuring a consistent 3.25 lbs on my RCBS fish scale with minimal takeup and no overtravel, it transparently converts the mental desire to fire the pistol into a loud noise and a hole.

If modern custom 1911s can see so far, it is because they are standing on the shoulders of giants, like this Hoag/Auto Shop custom 6½" longslide Colt's Government Model, borrowed from Mike Grasso.

Jim Hoag's longslide conversion is cosmetically seamless and looks factory, completely belying all the welding and refinishing that goes into such a project. It gave the pistol a pleasantly muzzle-heavy feeling, like a heavy-barreled target revolver, as well as providing an extra inch and a half of sight radius. But how much would it affect velocity?

Hardly at all, as it turns out. The standard pressure JHPs averaged 945.5fps, while the +P loads averaged 962.8; essentially the same as the 5" gun. In other words, while going from 3.75" to 5" gains almost 100fps, adding another 1.5" doesn't really gain more speed from these two loads, obviously tuned by their makers to run in a specific type of pistol.

As a footnote, I was well on the way to the range when it occurred to me that the borrowed longslide did not have a magazine in the pistol rug with it, and I'd grabbed my own 1911 without running up to the attic to snare a magazine. I was on the verge of detouring to Premier Arms to grab a couple 47Ds when I remembered there was one magazine in the car, after all. See, that first AFHF class I took with ToddG, back in 2010, I was loading magazines on the morning of the first day and one of the brand new Les Baer mags I'd just pulled out of a baggie felt less than perfectly smooth as I was thumbing rounds into it. Knowing Todd's reputation as a 1911 hater and unwilling to give him a chance to bag on my heater, I tossed the suspect mag in the side pocket of my range bag with the sunscreen and handi-wipes and foam earplugs, where it has remained, lo these four years. As it turned out, I was probably unnecessarily paranoid and yet uncannily prescient at the same time, because who knows when you might find yourself needing a 1911 magazine?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #110...

Classic Hoag longslide Government Model
How about the effect of different barrel lengths on .45 ACP? Post to follow...

Not thinking this through...

I don’t feel justified in shooting somebody, so I’m going to spray nerve gas in their face instead” said no sane person, ever.

They were playing that idiocy on the Today show the other morning and only an extremely somnolent state kept me from throwing something through the screen while yelling "No! Who told you that was a good idea? Don't listen to this $#!+head!"

Seriously, in most imaginable scenarios, I'd rather stand in front of a jury having shot a home invader as opposed to having filled his eyes with insecticide or oven cleaner. If you don't have any business busting a cap in a dude, you don't have any business giving him a facefull of organophosphates.

(H/T to Unc.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

They also scare off pirates.

It's got electrolytes!

Beginning as "Decoration Day" for the custom of tending to the gravestones of the war dead, a loosely-organized grassroots day of observance for the casualties of the recent bloody Civil War eventually became established on May 30th as Memorial Day. In 1968, Congress moved it to the last Monday in May where it now serves as the endcap of a weekend full of motor racing and barbecues and the beginning of summer.

"On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent" and this was incorporated in the U.S. official calendar as Armistice Day, until Congress changed it to a day to remember all American veterans. Too late in the year for good picnicking, it's now a good time for sales at Macy's.

Similarly, Mike at Cold Fury asks how long it will be until people are wishing each other "Happy 9/11!" on the way to get a discount on mattresses or linens.

If history is any guide, probably another thirty or forty years.

The venerable...

So, the other day we looked at some modern loads for .44 S&W Special, a cartridge that dates to 1908. Instead of looking at a newfangled cartridge like that again, today I'm going to take a gander at modern self-defense cartridges for a really old handgun chambering...


Seriously, DWM introduced the now-ubiquitous 9mm Luger 'way back in 1902 by blowing the existing bottlenecked .30 Luger cartridge out to a (more or less) straight case. Ponder that every time you hear the .45ACP, two years the Nine's junior, referred to as "venerable".

Here we'll look at three different JHP bullets from three different eras and see how they stack up, velocity-wise, to their advertising claims in two different Smith & Wesson autopistols with differing barrel lengths...

Back in the day, Federal's 115gr +P+ jacketed hollow point, cataloged under the designation "9BPLE", was the ticket in 9mm rounds as far as many people (including your humble correspondent) were concerned. The loading claimed a 1300fps muzzle velocity out of a 4" test barrel, and tended to live up to its claims.

The 10-round string fired through the 3" barrel of my Smith & Wesson CS9 averaged 1247fps, and moments later another 10-shot string averaged a blistering 1369fps out of the 4¼" barrel of a full-sized M&P 9. It was very consistently loaded, too, with the extreme velocity spreads of each string being under 50fps.

The 9BPLE, however, uses a jacketed hollowpoint bullet that was state of the art back before anybody knew what Gene Simmons looked like without makeup. In addition to a susceptibility to clogging if fired through heavy clothing, the lightweight bullet would expand violently, sometimes shedding the jacket or bits of the core, and under-penetrating.

S&W CS9: Last of a forty-year evolution of single-stack 9mm pistols from Springfield, MA.
The second load tested was the Remington Golden Saber, in 124gr +P flavor. The Golden Saber bullet, which debuted in the '90s, uses a thick brass jacket to not only control the projectile's expansion, but also as part of the wounding mechanism. The spiral petals of the jacket protrude out past the lead core as they fold back, in much the same fashion as Winchester's "Black Talon" bullet; perhaps unsurprising considering that the same guy was behind the design of both bullets.

The 124gr +P Golden Saber (also known as the "HPJ" for "High Performance Jacket") was a newer generation of hollowpoint, whose design benefited from computer modeling not possible a decade or two earlier. More resistant to clogging, with more reliable and consistent expansion, the bullet was claimed to leave a 4" test barrel at 1180fps according to Remington. At the range yesterday, the Golden Sabers averaged 1091fps from the 3" CS9 and 1208fps from the 4¼" M&P 9.

Federal's HST is among the current state-of-the-art self-defense pistol bullets, and in its 147gr configuration it is claimed to launch its projectile at 1000fps from a 4" barrel and deliver reliable penetration and expansion whether through heavy clothing or not.

From the little 3" Chief's Special, the 147gr HST turned in an average velocity of 954fps, while the 4¼" barrel of the M&P upped that number to 1032fps.*

Incidentally, there was one malfunction during this range session: A round of 9BPLE (the oldest hollowpoint design tested) suffered a failure-to-feed in the CS9 (the older of the two pistols tested.) Make of that what you will.

*Incidentally, from the longer barrel of the M&P, the HST was extremely consistent, with an Extreme Spread of 33.15fps and a Standard Deviation of 9.27fps. That's match ammo consistency.

Would you say we are headed into a zone of danger?

This is why TV was invented, in case anybody was wondering...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's a small world...

...but I have dim memories of it being freakin' huge.

It's even in the beer.

They must be like the De Beers of the produce world.

I liked it better when we didn't have a strategy.

Among the Middle East "experts" summoned to the official White House dorm room bull session on what to do about these ISIS people that are f%$#ing up the president's poll numbers was Zbigniew Brzezinski. Bear in mind that the last time Zbig was allowed anywhere near official Middle East policy, the result was Ayatollah Khomeini,

I'd be worried he'd try to dump sand in the gears in order to make the Carter administration look less feckless in retrospect, but the current White House is handling that chore just dandily without outside help.

Who ever thought that, almost thirty-five years to the day later, we'd be pining for the mature, sober leadership and steely-eyed resolve of this guy?

Tab Clearing...

  • "Her Smiths are Tiffany-twisted..." Bitter shows pics of a couple of gorgeous antique top-break Tiffany Smith & Wessons from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think that every time I see a picture of a Tiffany wheelgun, I'm forevermore going to think of this story from Phil Schreier. Can you imagine dropping $80,000 on something (and in great big 1982 dollars, not the bitty ones we use today) and then finding out it was fake? "Ill" does not begin to describe it; they'd be talking me off a ledge.

  • High-speed video recoil comparison between .38 Special and .357 Magnum.

  • Future Is Now!: 3D-printed 1911 from Solid Concepts has hit 1,000 rounds.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #109...

Federal 115gr +P+ 9BPLE jacketed hollowpoints. Twenty years ago, I thought this stuff was the heat. I could quote you its Marshall & Sanow "One Shot Stop" percentage in my sleep. I had some in my SIG P-228 from a couple boxes that I sourced and treated like it was gold.

I ran some over the chrony today; it averaged 1369fps out of my backup M&P 9. A sub-one-second quarter mile time is ticking right along, I don't care who you are. (That's 478.7 foot-pounds of energy, if you're the sort who puts great stock in that number.)

You might be a gun nut...

...if you find the magazine for a Frommer Stop in your purse...

...and you can't remember which of your Frommer Stops you thought needed a new magazine.

I can quit anytime I want to, honest.

The long and the short of it...

The .44 S&W Special is among the older handgun cartridges still on the market, having debuted with Smith's New Century "Triple Lock" revolvers in 1908. With its case lengthened so it would not fit in older top-breaks designed for .44 Russian, it featured a 246-grain lead roundnose bullet moving at a leisurely ~750fps out of the big N-frame's standard 6½" barrel.

Its modern incarnations as a self-defense loading come from a series of medium-frame five-shot wheelguns, beginning with the Charter Arms Bulldog and including a variety of offerings from S&W, Taurus, and Rossi, as well as its use as a downloaded "urban" loading in .44 Magnum revolvers. Exemplified historically by Winchester's Silvertip and Federal's lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint offerings, these tended to feature bullets of about 200gr advertised at moving at just under 900fps.

Federal's 200gr LSWC-HP is advertised as having a muzzle velocity of 870fps. A ten-shot string fired out of my 2½" Model 296Ti averaged 785.5fps, indicating that Federal's test barrel was likely much longer. I carried this load in several small .44s, looking at it as a sort of giant-size version of the 158gr .38 Spl LSWC-HP +P FBI load. (As my friend Marko put it, there was something reassuring about cartridges that went *tunk!* instead of *tink!* when you dropped them in the chambers.)

Despite being soft lead and not having any jacket to retard expansion, the Federal LSWC-HP had a minuscule hollowpoint cavity and a reputation for iffy expansion through heavy clothing, but hey, even if it didn't expand, you still had a .429" projectile with a sharp shoulder, right?

When CCI started offering the aluminum-hulled Blazer load with a 200gr Gold Dot hollowpoint, it rapidly became a favored choice for self-defense in .44 Special revolvers. A modern, bonded JHP, advertised at 920fps out of a 5.15" test barrel, the projectile was not constrained by the requirement of feeding in self-loaders and consequently featured a hollowpoint cavity that looked like it could do double duty as a shot glass.

Out of my 4" Thunder Ranch Special, the Blazer GDHP averaged 880.7fps, dropping to 811.9fps out of the 2½" barrel of the AirLite snubbie. Like the Federal offering, recoil from the 296 with this load was approaching being outright unpleasant, although without the sharpness of a magnum J-frame. Later shots, with hands sweating in the sun, it was not uncommon for my left hand to lose purchase on the gun entirely, and my right elbow is tender from where I was steadying my aim by resting it on the table.

Comes now Hornady's Critical Defense offering, using a 165gr version of its patented FTX bullet. The FTX takes a novel approach to preventing the hollowpoint cavity from plugging by plugging it from the start with a little rubber dingus whose job is to initiate bullet expansion by being forced back into the cavity when fired into something squishy.

Further, Hornady tacitly acknowledges the realities of the modern .44 Special market by measuring its advertised velocity claims out of a 2.5" test barrel. A ten-shot string from my 2½" test gun averaged 925.3fps, which actually exceeded the 900fps claim on the box flap, and from the 4" N-frame, the load averaged 996.2fps, which was moving right along for a factory .44 Spl load.

All this comes at a price, however. As can be seen on page 12 of Hornady's LE brochure (pdf here), the round expands as advertised in jell-o, even after going through heavy clothing, but the reduced sectional density of the 165gr bullet means a test penetration depth of 10" after heavy clothing, a performance equaled by such questionable manstoppers as the .380 and 9x18 Makarov (albeit with a slightly larger wound channel.)

For the last string of the day, I tried some of the boutique 185gr LHP loads from Sand Burr Gun Ranch, recommended as ideal for using in the 296Ti and offering a claimed 900fps from the snubbie. I just didn't feel up to the beating from the flyweight gun by then and so I cheated and launched them from the TRS, where a ten-shot string averaged 1042fps. This leads me to believe that they'd have no problem matching the claimed velocity from the shorter tube, and that it might in fact be a little conservative.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #108...

.44 Very Special
.44 Special day at the range. The 4" Model 21-4 Thunder Ranch Special on the right is pretty light in weight for a carbon steel N-frame, with its tapered barrel and round butt; it weighs 38.3 ounces on my postal scale and you could fire it all day with reasonable loads.

The 2½" Model 296Ti AirLite Centennial on the left weighs 18.5 ounces on the same scale, with its aluminum alloy humpback L-frame and 5-shot titanium cylinder. After thirty rounds through it, resting my elbows on the table to make doubly sure I didn't shoot the chronograph, I was well into the "not having fun anymore" portion of the festivities. It's been a year and more since I fired the thing and I'd plumb forgot how zippy it was. It was, as the gun magazines say, "brisk but manageable", which is Latin for "there may be bruises tomorrow".

Chrono data to follow.

Odds multiplier...

The dude that got found dead of a gunshot wound to the head over near 46th & Emerson? You're going to find this shocking, I know, but the po-po just happened to have a recent portrait photograph of him on file.

I wonder what percentage of homicide victims in this country have a booking photo on file at the local cop shop from within the last year? The last two?

PPX Range Trip Part Two...

 When the first malfunction occurred, I knew immediately what had happened. The round was nosed radically up, with the nose of the bullet jammed almost vertically into the underside of the barrel hood. The breechface was jammed against the case wall, and the cartridge head was down in the mag. The rounds in the mag rattled loosely when the gun was shaken.

Dropping the mag and inverting it caused the top five rounds to just tumble loosely out, revealing the two rounds you see in the above photo.

Mag disassembled, looking at the bottom. See the two rounds wedged in there like that? One of them had enough friction with the side of the magazine that it bound up, and the spring and follower tried to force the bottom round past it, They were wedged tight enough that they needed to be poked out with some vigor.

The exact same thing happened to my M&P at Blogorado a couple years ago, using nasty TulAmmo in dirty mags in a dusty environment.

I don't know if there were any COAL issues with this batch of WWB, but regardless, I guess it's probably a good idea to clean my magazines every so often. These three have an average of 400 rounds through them since they have been cleaned.

Automotif L...

I have to say that the new 'Vette makes a badass droptop. It absolutely looks like something a superhero would drive in a Marvel summer action blockbuster.

(I think that, after the C2, the C4s were the best-looking Vettes, at least early on. They were nice and understated and tended to look worse when all fruited up with aftermarket ground effects or Greenwood or Callaway bodywork. Later ones got a little busier-looking with the ZR-1 inspired convex butt and weird side gills. Then came the C5 and C6, which seemed torn between trying to stay subtle and trying to look like a supercar. The new one has finally thrown subtle to the winds and embraced its inner flamboyant supercarness. If you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

PPX Range Trip Part One...

One hundred rounds of Winchester "White Box" bulk-packed ammo went through the Walther PPX this morning, bringing the total to 1200. The gun experienced two malfunctions, each of which really rates its own post.

The second one was the more interesting because in the middle of a rapid-fire string, I got a dead trigger. Looking at the pistol explained why:
The slide was too far out of battery to fire, fortunately. A smart rap on the rear of the slide only succeeded in getting the case stuck further. With the assistance of an RO, the round was extracted and a quick examination of the breechface, extractor claw, feed ramp, and chamber mouth showed nothing obviously out of the ordinary.

The culprit is the round on the right, with a random exemplar round from the same box on the left. Now I need a good caliper to measure it. It appears almost to be roll-crimped rather than taper-crimped.

I can't count this malfunction against the PPX, since the round was subsequently tested in my Gen 3 Glock 19 and one of my M&Ps and wouldn't fully chamber in either.

As a side note, this malfunction tied the gun up hard; if somebody had been shooting at me, I'd have been hosed. This is the sort of thing that's an argument for backup guns and/or chamber-gauging your carry ammo. You'll find horror stories on the 'net about ammo that looks like this, warning you to carefully examine rounds before loading them, but the defect with this particular round would not have been picked up by the naked eye.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sorry about this.

At Rob's request, I've turned it back on so that the archives are usable. Comments are disabled. I'm still on indefinite hiatus.

Again, my apologies.

Monday, September 01, 2014


Date of Manufacture, Left to Right: 1911, 1914, 1915, 1919, 1921
Having been more-or-less priced out of the Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector market, I have turned my attention to filling gaps in my Tip-Up and Top-Break Smith collections, as well as learning about Savage pocket pistols.

Above you may behold a selection of striker-fired, double-stack, vest-pocket-sized semiautomatic pistols that were marketed to tenderfeet and housewives more than a hundred years ago. I'll have fun learning the ins and outs of this particular field of firearms history!