Sunday, December 31, 2017

Overheard in the Office

RX: "Do you have a flashlight?"


RX: "No, I mean, do you have a flashlight ready to hand?"

Me: (looking at a literal pile of flashlights behind monitor on desk) "How many lumens do you need?"

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Holiday weekend, 7°F outside...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Breaking 1911 Nerd News...

From my inbox...
Wilson Combat® Acquires Chip McCormick Custom/Shooting Star Industries.
Berryville, AR & Spicewood, TX

Wilson Combat is pleased to announce the acquisition of Chip McCormick Custom/Shooting Star Industries, a leading manufacturer of quality 1911 magazines and related products. This purchase solidifies Wilson Combat as the quality brand leader in 1911 handgun magazines and related product development. The new company will be known as CMC/Shooting Star Industries during the transition.

“The CMC/Shooting Star line is a very important group of products within the 1911 industry and has a great history of innovation and success. Wilson Combat is committed to ensuring the broad availability and future development of more quality and innovative products under the Shooting Star banner for years to come.” - Bill Wilson, President and CEO Wilson Combat.

“Bill Wilson and I have been good friends, shooting competition competitors and friendly business competitors since the early 1980s. When I made the decision that I wanted to simplify my life and retire there was no one that I felt more comfortable selling the company to than Bill Wilson and Wilson Combat. With Ryan Wilson now running the daily operations of Wilson Combat and his son’s Josh and Hunter being interested in firearms, I’m confident Chip McCormick Custom will be in good hands well into the future.” - Chip McCormick, President and CEO Chip McCormick Custom, LLC

CMC/Shooting Star will remain headquartered at its current location in Spicewood, TX while a new Shooting Star facility is built in Northeast, TX. There will be no interruption of service from CMC/Shooting Star during the transition of business ownership. All orders for magazines and customer service will be handled at the current CMC/Shooting Star location listed below.

CMC/Shooting Star Industries
105 Sky King Drive
Spicewood, TX 78669

Stop buying hot garbage.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Internet-Know and Know-Know

It's a weird period in history where you can "know" someone, even collaborate closely in real time for years, and never see their face.

There are few people now who wouldn't understand what you meant if you said "Joe Jablonski? Yeah, I know him...well, I don't know-know him, like, face to face. I internet-know him."

And there are whole nuanced tiers to internet-knowing someone...
  1. You recognize their name because they run in the same circles you do online. Further, people you know and trust have mentioned them, and never with negative connotations. This is like the baseline level.

  2. You recognize their name because they run in the same circles you do online. Also, you read their stuff every now and again, and maybe even been in the same conversations or message threads, but never directly interacted.

  3. You find yourself in the same discussions and directly interact on a reasonably regular basis.

  4. You find yourself in the same discussions and directly interact on a reasonably regular basis. Further, you have exchanged the occasional PM/DM/emails regarding the topics of those conversations.

  5. You find yourself in the same discussions and directly interact on a reasonably regular basis. Further, you have exchanged the occasional PM/DM/emails for purely off-topic, social reasons.

  6. You talk on the phone or Skype/Google Hangout/FaceTime at least semi regularly.

  7. You've hung out in person, at which point they have earned the "IRL" designator and are no longer an imaginary person who lives in your cell phone and computer

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Proof I don't understand Kel-Tec's target demo

I mean, I've had a few customers I've thought were piss-drinkers over the years, but I don't know as I'd have called them that to their faces. Maybe I was doing it wrong. Bold strategy, Kel-Tec.

Hey, look!

My review of the XD-E is up at Shooting Illustrated.


-1° fondly Fahrenheit. Wind chill is -12F°.

We won't be going anywhere until noon, probably, by which time the sun will have warmed things to a toasty 10°F or so.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Overheard in the Office...

Me: "Did you say 'This sounds like a bad chemical breakfast'?"

RX: "'Practice'. I said 'This sounds like a bad chemical practice'. Although Bad Chemical Breakfast would be a great name for a punk rock group."

Me: "Actually that's the title of my band's next album."

Nostalgia doesn't belong in your CCW gun.

Super Vel Ammo: I have to vent.

What kills me is how they're hyping 90gr +P .38 Spl & 9mm and 185gr +P .45ACP bullets as if the last thirty years of accumulated terminal ballistics knowledge hadn't even happened.

Flying dimes with no sectional density moving at Warp Factor Six are how we got Miami and then wound up spending twenty years wandering in the .40 caliber wilderness, and the shit is being pimped by people who should goddam well know better because, I dunno, Cameron Hopkins is a nice guy or something and the boxes make older gunwriters feel nostalgic.


It's eleven bleeping degrees and blustery out there and I absolutely have to get to the store.

My joy knows no bounds.

Cars of the future from the past...

From conversation elsewhere:
Man I remember back in 1982, we all thought we'd be driving nothing but 3-cylinder diesels by the turn of the millennium. If you went back and told some gearhead in my high school class that in 2017 Dodge would be selling a "street legal" 10-second Hemi Challenger, he'd think you were talking about the 0-60 time of a 4-cyl car.
The computer changed everything. Not only in engine tuning and performance, but in design and modeling.
I had an example of a classic late Dark Ages car, an '84 Trans Am with the LG4 305c.i. Rochester Quadrabog motor. A hunnert and fifty horsepower and nearly every engine function powered by enough dry-rotting vacuum tubing to reach to the moon and back...
Only a few years later and exotic computer-designed and controlled long-runner port fuel injection systems were common on domestic performance cars and HP numbers were on the right side of 200 for the first time in a decade.
It was coming out of an awful time. Like a friend wrote: When he went into seminary you could buy a Mustang with a nearly 400bhp engine option. When he left seminary, the Mustang was a Pinto.
Being a car enthusiast in America in the latter half of the 70s/first half of the '80s was like being a dirt farmer in Fifth Century Britain, marveling at the weed-grown roads and disused aqueducts left by a race of giants and building your pig shed with stones looted from a burned library.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Overheard in the Office...

Someone in a discussion group has mentioned the sometimes regret that can come from lowered inhibitions mixing with the instant gratification of Amazon. Discussion ensued in the Roseholme Cottage office:
Me: "Tuesday is the day that sober weekday you gets to find out what presents you're getting from inebriated weekend you. Marko joked that Amazon One-Click should have an available USB-powered breathalyzer lockout device."

RX*: "That's why I do not have One Click enabled. I do not have it enabled. I will not have it enabled."

Me: "But it wants to enable you!"
*Roberta Ecks hardly partakes so's you'd notice. The fifth of Pimm's that is her occasional luxury lasts her a year or more.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Last blast before the pause.

 'Twas the Friday before Christmas and all through the local gun store, the customers were crowding and queueing and pewpewing.

Needless to say, I was glad I'd taken the time to load the first box of fifty Remington .357SIG from Lucky Gunner into magazines before I got to the range. When it gets crowded on an indoor range, I feel like the proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

I dumped the first fifty on the lower A-zone at seven, jammed the mags full again, shot up the upper A-zone, and called it a day.

The XC1B is still working like a champ after 250 rounds and shows no sign of loosening.

Friday, December 22, 2017


So, for the XD-E launch event back in spring of this year, Springfield Armory's people sent a form asking for shirt and hat and belt sizes among other things.

When we got there, they had little backpacks with our names on them with logo-wear and belts and holsters and such to use on the range that day. This is pretty typical. They let you keep some of the tchotchkes, which is cool if you're into gun company logo t-shirts and ballcaps, I guess.

I was dumb and kinda fudged a bit and gave a vanity size for my belt.


In the backpack was a heavy leather Crossbreed gun belt and, after stuffing the holstered XD-E into my waistband, it was all I could do to suck my tummy in enough to get the belt to close on the last hole. Even at that, it was so tight that sitting down was physically painful and I only picked at lunch and probably risked dehydration to avoid 'sploding that belt.

Out of curiosity, I wore that belt today instead of my usual Galco Instructor's Belt, and I'm using the fourth hole on the belt. Even after a biggish lunch and a steak dinner, there's still enough room to get both hands between me and my waistband if I suck my tum in a little.

If I had known there was a legit booze and steaks diet like this, I'd have been doing it years ago.

Stress check...

A complaint I'd heard regarding the original SureFire XC1 was that it didn't hold up to much shooting, which is not the sort of thing you want to hear about a light that's attached to a, you know, gun.

In addition to having better switches and having 50% more lumens, the new XC1B is supposed to have corrected the fragility issues of the original. I could think of no better way to check it out than by clamping it to the accessory rail of my Glock 32 and shooting the snot out of the thing.

The .357SIG in the compact Glock 32 not only exposes the light to ferocious muzzle blast, but also to the battering of recoil in a gun with enough slide velocity that it took the starch out of a 20# CrSi recoil spring from ISMI in only 1,700 rounds. (I've seen lighter ISMI CrSi recoil springs in soft-shooting race guns go to five figure round counts without seriously affecting function.)

Lucky Gunner was kind enough to sponsor the ammunition for the test and sent some Remington UMC 125gr FMJ. This is the stuff that, when tested through this gun last year, chrono'ed at an average of 1,355fps for a ten-round string. That's a lot of sauce for a compact auto pistol.

I'd already run a box of Gold Dot 125gr through the gun, and yesterday I grabbed the 32, the first hundred rounds of the Remington, and a QP-T target and headed to Indy Arms Co.

As I was getting ready to head out to the range, some women came in with a Groupon for a deal on range time and firearms rental. They were telling the clerk that they hadn't shot before, and so I rushed the range session so as to be mostly done by the time they got out there. .357SIG is pretty loud from this gun and I didn't want to make things any harder than they needed to be for the newbs.

The gun ran fine, the light functioned properly during and after shooting, and didn't loosen on the rail at all. If you have grownup-sized hands and shoot with a thumbs-forward grip, you may inadvertently activate the light while shooting, BTW.

So that's a hundred and fifty rounds on this light. More to come, thanks to Lucky Gunner.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Longest night of the year. And me without any mead.

All Linky, No Thinky...

I'm Still Not A People Person, Apparently

Tuesday night was shorter than usual and Wednesday began early for Bobbi's Big Sinus Adventures. I got to enjoy the seething mass of aberrant humanity that is the crowd in Big City Hospital's waiting room, which confirmed that yup, I'm still a raging classist.

There was a woman who flopped down on the loveseat next to the table where I was sitting who looked like Flip Wilson's Geraldine had aged badly after picking up a horrible meth habit and joining the Hep C Generation, to boot. Or perhaps someone had boosted ol' Amenhotep II from the Cairo Museum and done him up in bad drag before reviving him.

She had a full-volume conversation on her cell phone until the battery died, whereupon she got up, leaned over me without so much as a "sorry 'bout your personal space" and plugged it into the wall next to my chair. She smelled like a Bob Marley concert during a Cheech & Chong film festival in a bad perfume factory.

Across the table was Bubba, Bubbette, and Bubba Jr. having the sort of conversation that was so mind-numbingly banal I was considering eating the gun I wasn't supposed to have with me just to make it stop, but Bobbi doesn't have Uber and wouldn't have been able to drive herself home, so I persevered.

While not as bad as the crowd at the courthouse downtown, most of these folks would have had to dress up to make it onto the People of Walmart page. If this was the outpatient surgery waiting room, the ER waiting room must have been like the cantina from Star Wars.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Designated Driver, Designated Shooter

In a comment thread at Oleg's to a post containing a picture of a pistol and a bottle of liquor, someone felt compelled to remark:

Which, I mean...Ell Oh Ell.

My thinking (which coincides with the law in Indiana) is that public intoxication is illegal. There's no special law in Indiana about public intoxication while strapped. I think getting drunk in public isn't a good idea anyway, but if your plans involve going out and getting turnt up, leave the gat at home. Let your Designated Driver be the Designated Shooter, too.

I personally have no issue with the idea of a beer or two or a glass of wine with dinner, or an after-dinner drink while toting, but too buzzed to drive is too buzzed to tote.

Other states have different laws, of course, and most seem to frown upon alcohol consumption (no matter how little) while strapped. Know yourself and your state and local laws and ordinances...


 Tuesday morning meant another hundred round range trip to Indy Arms Co. with the CZ-75.

I started out with a box of fifty at the 8" circle, with the target out at fifteen yards. I was having pretty serious trigger control issues, which was frustrating. I pulled the target back to five yards and put a mag into the right hand 2" circle and the remaining two into the 3x5.

I wish I could say that the shot in the 1" square was intentional, but alas, it was the result of prepping the trigger in recoil too aggressively. My sights were nowhere near settled when that shot broke.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1459 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 541 rounds to go.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Realism In Training...

None of which is as fun as shooting cardboard terr'ists with an AR-15 from twenty-five feet.

Self-defense stuff overwhelmingly focuses on "stranger danger", partly by necessity and partly because that's how people imagine crime happens, but that's really the minority part of violence.

This Lens Exhibits Heavy Vignetting, Part I...

So, here at the tail end of 2017 and going into 2018, my road back into photography has wandered from crop-sensor Canon DSLRs through crop-sensor Nikon DSLRs and now to mirrorless.

My lens situation is a little bit of a mess though, because I have Sony E-mount cameras in both APS-C and full-frame sizes, as well as some Olympus Micro Four Thirds bodies.

While the Sony lenses will physically interchange between the full-frame ɑ7 and the APS-C bodies, the situation there is analogous to the Nikon DX/FX situation. If you put one of the crop-sensor lenses on the full-frame body, it will only use the chunk of sensor in the middle to avoid giving you the big black circle around your picture.

So, in Sony E-mount full-frame lenses, I have a decent fast 50mm prime lens and a Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 zoom. This camera is mainly intended for work stuff.

In the APS-C crop sensor E-mount category, I have most of my lens bases covered. I have a sweet Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for a prime lens, as well as a Sigma 60mm f/2.8 ART for portraits. There’s a Sony 18-105mm f/4 G-lens for a vacation lens and a 55-210mm kit zoom for a zoo lens. I really only need a good wide-angle and a macro.

So what about Micro Four Thirds? I own MFT cameras for a couple of reasons…

The most important reason is this: While my Sony NEX-5T, with its 16MP BIONZ sensor, is technically superior in most benchmarks to half the Micro Four Thirds cameras I own, it feels like its interface was designed by a guy Sony transferred to cameras from the alarm clock or DVR divisions three weeks prior.

By contrast, my Pen E-P5 or OM-D M5 is oozing photographic charisma. You want to grab those little condensed cameras and go out and start making pictures as soon as you pick them up.

Maybe because the lenses are physically smaller, Micro Four Thirds glass is cheaper than APS-C or full-frame. Maybe because both Panasonic and Sony are working at it, the lens library is much larger than that for the Sony E-mount.

It didn’t take long before I’d built up a pretty decent lens selection for MFT. Panasonic’s 20mm f/1.7 and the Olympus 45mm f/1.7 were no brainers for fast primes. A deal on an Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO set me up with a good fast zoom. I bought an extra Pen E-P1 body that came with a Panasonic 40-200mm that would make a good zoo lens. Now I needed a vacation lens.

In my book a vacation lens is the one I keep on the camera that is slung around my neck more or less constantly. I’m never on vacation by myself, so when I want to pause to take a picture, I don’t want to inconvenience the people I’m with by juggling lenses and setting up the shot. I need to keep a lens on the camera that will handle everything from wide-angle landscapes to middlin’-long telephoto.

For a few years I used a Canon 18-135mm on my EOS 20D, which was supplanted by the Nikon 18-140mm on the D200. I had a good vacation zoom now for the Sony E-mount, but what about Micro Four Thirds? I started digging around online, prowling KEH and the used sections at Roberts, Adorama, and B&H.

I finally spotted a good used Olympus 14-150mm lens for sale at Roberts cheap enough to be affordable. Since they’re local, I could buy the lens online at midnight and check “Pick Up At Store” instead of having it shipped, which appealed to my instant gratification needs.

The next morning, I hopped in the Zed Drei and drove downtown to one of the last camera stores in Indiana.

To be continued…

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wee Dram

A post shared by Tamara Keel (@tamarakeel) on

I'm not sure there's actually such a thing as a basic white girl single malt Scotch whiskey, but if there were, Glenfiddich 12 would be in the running. It's a solid mainstay in the cabinet, though, so there's that.

Sunday Shooty Sunday

Sunday saw me dragging the now seriously filthy CZ to the range for some more dirtying. I met my old IAC coworker Zach there, and he'd brought along a different CZ product, an 805 BREN, which seems like a pretty cool rifle.

The lower A-zone was two mags at fifteen yards. The bit in the logo at the upper left was Zach fam-firing a mag at seven.

I really dislike the sights on this thing once they get dirty. They're an indistinct gray-black blur against the indistinct gray-black blur of the target. Combine that with fogging eye pro and I was basically having to use a Cirillo-esque "silhouette point", which is no way to be landing good hits at forty-five feet. If I decide to keep this thing to get my gamerfag on with, it's getting some Dawsons.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1359 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 641 rounds to go.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Overheard from Down the Hall...

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

Friday Range Day

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

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

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Subsidized light rail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 15, 2017


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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Parenting & Guns...

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Problem Solved?

I had a suspicion from something I read in this article by David Merrill that the off-center light strike problem in the G39 was caused by the recoil spring not being able to overcome the striker spring if the slide closed while the trigger was still to the rear. This issue in the Glock 32 and 20 was solved with heavier recoil springs able to close the slide with more force, but that solution is more difficult with the subcompacts.

So I tried coming at it from the other end by installing a lightened striker spring.

For the first time since I got it, the gun ran through a box of fifty rounds without a hitch, even when I pinned the trigger in an attempt to provoke the out-of-battery off-center light strike problem.

I'm cautiously optimistic and plan on running another couple boxes through to check.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A pox on Ian Fleming and Eon Productions.


The American mall continues its death spiral.

Specialty retail still has a niche, I think, but the department store is going the way of the dinosaur, it looks like, with the big box Martmarts and Amazon fighting over the carcass. Without department stores, you don't get the foot traffic that keeps the little specialty retailers and food court shops open.

What goes in those spaces?

We already had our nearest mall die. Glendale Town Center went through the entire cycle of opening as an open-air shopping center, being converted to an enclosed mall, and having the mall demolished and being converted back into an open air shopping center. The super Target and the Lowe's are thriving there, but I don't know how much longer that particular Macy's is for this world.

Muzzle Blasts

Last Tuesday's project was to expose the Surefire XC1-B to some muzzle blast and recoil. I put some clear tape over the lens, but it was blown off with the first shot even though I'd taken pains to make the side toward the muzzle as flush-fitting as possible.

Fortunately, the position of the lens doesn't appear to accumulate much cack. I'll fall back to the old trick of a smear of Vaseline or similar for long range sessions, and then wipe it off afterward.

While I was there, the Smith 745 got a box of Armscor 230gr FMJ through it, just for fun. I heart this gun rather a lot, even if I did have to tighten the grip screws when I got home. Fortunately, I keep one of these on my desk. (I can't believe those are bringing thirty bucks now. Of course, if we hadn't pitched so many of them back in the day, they wouldn't be, so...)

Shooting the 32 fast is rather harder than shooting the 19 at speed. I feel like I'm wrestling the gun more. To get a scattering of holes like that with the 9mm Gen4 19 I carry, I'd be shooting at a wheels-coming-off pace, whereas this was probably mostly done at a .4-.6 clip? Anyway, the flashlight still works, the Apex trigger is still too fat for my tastes, and I still like the Trijicon HD XR sights. (Enough so that I want to get a set for my carry gun.)

Also, this recoil spring is starting to close the slide a little sluggishly, especially when having to fight the striker. The 20# CrSi IMSI recoil spring has 2,070 rounds on it. I may replace it to see what effect that has.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The last warm day...

Monday last week was sixty degrees and sunny, most likely the last day of its type until late March unless we get some truly unseasonable weather. I drove up north and got in one last fair-weather outdoor range trip with Mike Grasso out at Atlanta Conservation Club.

I finally got to run some ammo through that Grayguns-built HK P7M8 longslide. It shoots exactly like you'd think it would: Like magic.

I had some leftover 9mm ammo with my, ten rounds of Estate 115gr FMJ and eight Speer 124gr +P GDHP. Mike was burning up some surplus Winchester Ranger and so I fired eleven rounds of that, which meant a total of 29 more rounds through the CZ.

I also function tested the Smith & Wesson 745 to the tune of 40 rounds of 230gr Winchester White Box FMJ. It ran fine, too.

I'm pretty pleased with the way that CZ 75 is running.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1159 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 841 rounds to go.

Actual Improvement.

When Surefire first started shipping their original XC1, I was completely uninterested. At 200 lumens, it was almost twice as bright as its closest competition in the low-profile CCW weaponlight category, Crimson Trace's LightGuard, but the switchology on the thing was a complete soup sandwich.

The rocker switch on the back of the light was momentary only; for constant-on, you needed to manipulate a little nubbin of a crossbolt-style switch on the light body.

Well, Surefire has fixed that with the new XC1-B, thankfully.

For starters, it's now putting out 300 lumens from a single AAA cell. That's as much as the TLR-1s I used in the Pistol Shoothouse class back in '15, albeit in a much tinier package.

The switchgear is upgraded as well. The rocker on the back can be tapped for on/off or push and hold to use it as a momentary. The crossbolt is still there to serve as a positive on-off.

These two upgrades transform the light from one that seemed kind of pointless into one that is a lot more viable. It's small enough that it adds no meaningful bulk to make concealed carry more challenging, the switchology is 30% less dumb, and it's bright enough to be reasonably useful. It's on the .357SIG compact to see how it responds to muzzle blast. I'll report back after I've got more than the one box of Speer GDHP warshots through the thing.

I would personally probably rather accept the challenges of carrying a regular WML, were I to decide to CCW a light-bearing gun again, but I wouldn't give someone side-eye for using this one, the way I would have the original.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Huck is debating whether he wants to fight the proffered pencil or not. Spoiler alert: Yes.

Shot with the Olympus Pen E-P1 and the excellent little Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, which I heart rather a lot. It's a stupid good portrait lens for the price.

Friday, December 08, 2017


This is the Monday-est Friday I've ever experienced. Getting out of bed was a mistake.

Incidentally, a friend went to purchase one of those Empire Strikes Back coats six minutes after they went on sale, and they were all sold out. My friend did report that you can find them on eBay now for 200%+ of the original selling price.

There's a pimp-slap from the Invisible Hand in there someplace.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Fair Market Value ≠ The Most You, Personally, Will Pay

I've seen whining around the 'nets about the price tags of things like Columbia's Empire Strikes Back repro coats and the forthcoming CMP M1911A1 surplus pistols. People are in full "REEEEEEEEEE!" mode, demanding that these prices should be set at a "fair market value".

I will point out that both these things will sell out with a quickness. (The Star Wars coats likely within hours*.)

I will further point out that there is a limit to the number of units an individual customer may purchase, in order to keep them from selling out too quickly. This is, if anything, an indication that an item is priced below fair market value, since otherwise someone would buy the lot and sell them at the actual market value on eBay or Gunbroker.

The irony is that this is the same half of the political spectrum who can expound at length on market theory and price signalling whenever the topic is minimum wage or anti-gouging laws. Let the topic of discussion be a tchotchke they desire, however, instead of a generator or an hour of a teenager's time, suddenly we're all about some reasonable restrictions on capitalism.
*EDIT: The Star Wars coats sold out in minutes, and were promptly selling on eBay for better than double MSRP.

"I'll stay here in the van while Jim poses that tame puma."

Apparently some of the wildlife you see in photos isn't all that wild...
" Audubon has sent me to lots of wild places over the past 31 years, but I’d seen only one wolf and three cougars (a litter) until December 8, 2009. On that day, before noon in the Glacier National Park ecosystem of northwestern Montana, I encountered not just one wolf but two and not just one cougar but two! What were the chances of that?

Well, they were 100 percent, because I’d rented the animals for a photo shoot.
I'll admit, that'd still be a super-fun photo session. 

Overheard in Front of the Television...

RX: "I don't like that dress she's wearing."

Me: "I dunno, I think it's pretty cool if you have the figure for it, and she does."

RX: "It's unprofessional. She's supposed to be a journalist!"

Me: "Now she's a morning talk show hostess. This is the new warm-'n'-cuddly Megyn Kelly."

RX: "Isn't cuddling why she left Fox News?"

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Good Guys Win!

So, archives of my "Good Guys Win" column from S.W.A.T. Magazine are up on the magazine's website now.

They've also got a ton of content up dating back to the early Aughties, including Tom Givens' great review of the Taurus Judge and apparently some dude wrote a review of the Louis Awerbuck pistol class I took back in '08, complete with a picture of Shootin' Buddy.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Radar Rider

Speaking of space stuff, Elon Musk is going to attempt to launch his Tesla Roadster into Mars orbit with the Falcon Heavy test launch in January.

He says that, if successful, it will just remain in space forever and ever. I'm not buying it. If you look at the attached video, I think we can see what he really intends to do with a sports car in orbit around the Red Planet.

And wouldn't you, if you had the dough to get up to awesome Tony Stark antics like this?


Outside of a good range trip and some coffee & gun talk, it was pretty Monday out today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Good Neighboring ProTip:

I grew up in a SciFi dystopia...

...and I didn't even know it.

Well, to be fair, it was before it had appeared in quite so many movies.

The architecture was such that among my friends we had pet nicknames for certain landmark buildings. For example Bank of America Plaza (née C&S Tower) was "The Blade Runner building", for its internally-lit spire of open girders, while 191 Peachtree Tower was "The Batman building" because the two columnar structures atop it seemed ideal for a climactic punchout scene between the Dark Knight and Joker. SunTrust Plaza was "The Q-bert building".

The traffic was already pretty dystopian, though.

Friday Range Day

Friday's range trip burned up the last hundred rounds of this lot of TulAmmo I had on hand.

I ran the target out to seven yards and broke the range speed limit pretty badly on the 8" circle, but kept it down to a dull roar on the 3x5". I'm starting to get the hang of the trigger on this thing.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 1130 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 870 rounds to go.


A friend was playing the new Tay Sway album while we were on vacation a couple weeks ago and I somehow caught this crazy persistent earworm from it...

Saturday, December 02, 2017


I once had a '75 Ford Granada coupe that I was trying to kill. Well, not "kill", per se, but I had resolved to not interfere with its process of dying.

The transmission, a three-speed slushbox, had started slipping dramatically pulling away from stoplights and I just didn't feel like dumping any more money into a high-mileage car that I'd paid a couple hundred dollars for.

When I moved in with a boyfriend back in the early '90s, the car sat, parked and unloved, out front while I drove his spare car. I hadn't changed the Granada's oil or done a lick of maintenance to the thing for probably six months before I parked it.

When I moved out and needed some spare dough, I sold the car to his neighbor across the street for exactly what I had bought it for. I assumed the old guy would need help pushing it into his driveway. Instead, I handed him the key, he hopped in, and that old 250c.i.d. straight six turned right over, caught on the first try, and the car lurched right into its new home with only the normal amount of groaning and clunking.

Thirteen billion miles from Earth is another piece of human machinery of about the same vintage as that '75 Ford. This one is a '77 JPL, and NASA scientists recently wanted to reorient it so the big antenna would point back toward Earth. Unfortunately the maneuvering jets on Voyager 1 have seen a lot of use and are pretty worn out.

They had another option though: V'ger has a set of rockets on its backside called Trajectory Correction Maneuver thrusters. The only problem was that the TCM's hadn't been run in...oh, over thirty times as long as my Granada sat parked in front of my ex's place. Further, as bad as the near south side of Atlanta can be, the environment out past the heliopause is even harsher.

Nevertheless, when they went to start up those hydrazine rocket motors that had sat dormant since I was in middle school, they cranked right up on the first try and the Voyager 1 spacecraft groaned and clunked and lurched right into its new orientation. (Or it would have groaned and clunked if there was atmosphere for sound to travel through and it had a slipping Ford C4 gearbox.)

I have seen this happen...

“Am I buying the right gun?” freezes up more first-time gun buyers than anything else. They know they don’t know exactly what makes a good first gun, and when faced with dozens and dozens of choices (and probably some really bad advice from gun store clerks), they go into vapor lock, succumb to analysis paralysis and then require extensive hand-holding and guidance in order to make a purchase.
Resist the urge for your gun store to try and have every style of every brand in every price range. You can't, anyway.

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #168...

Chugging right along...

Thursday afternoon saw me at Indy Arms Co with two hundred rounds of TulAmmo and the See Zed.

The range was crowded, so I basically loaded and fired about as quickly as I thought I could get away with it. Big, long strings of fire, up to and including mag dumps, are a lot more controllable with the VZ Frag grips as opposed to the stock plastic. Recommend.

There were no malfunctions of any kind to report.

This makes 1030 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 970 rounds to go.

Friday, December 01, 2017

I used to think folding shotgun stocks were cool...

...until I actually started shooting shotguns much.

Testing, testing, two, three, four...

Back in October, I intended to do the shooting portions of ECQC with my carry gun, a Glock 19 Gen4. In the first string of fire, I remembered just how much of this course was shot from the Two...

You'll see that Craig has a good mechanical index there, with his elbow up, a locked wrist, and his strong-hand thumb flagged along his pectoral muscle. (Sharp-eyed folks who enlarge the picture will notice the bullet impact, the spent case, and the shadow of the spent case on the target.)

When I do that with my Glock 19 carry gun, the muzzle line is...slightly behind the parts of me that are farthest forward. Now, this is not a safety problem as there is rather a lot of horizontal offset, but still, I had a longer-barreled Glock 17 in my range bag and a couple hundred rounds of muzzle blast over the course of two mornings' worth of shooting...

So I swapped over to my Gen2 17.

Now, that 17 hadn't been cleaned in...I'm not opening my spreadsheet to check, but it may be as much as 3,000 rounds. More importantly, it hadn't been lubed probably since I shot it in that Tom Givens class more than a year ago. So the gun was drier than a popcorn fart and pretty dirty, and I was shooting it in the blowing grit on a range in the high desert, in a one-handed hold that I don't practice near as much as I should...

On top of it, I blew off shipping ammunition out to New Mexico, and so the night before class, we hit a seedy gun shop in Albuquerque and I picked up a few hundred rounds: A couple boxes of Estate brand 9mm 115gr FMJ and the balance in Independence 115gr FMJ. I had no idea that, in addition to lousy shotgun ammo, Estate also loaded awful pistol ammo, but they do.

So...combine the gun being drier than a popcorn fart, uncleaned for almost 3000 rounds, blowing New Mexico grit, weaksauce 115gr range ammo, and all that shooting from Two, and I had probably nine or ten FTFs in only 275 rounds.

I held some of the Estate and Independence out from the class to do chrono testing when I got home and, in addition, the Atomic Nerds sent along ten rounds of the 9x19mm Georgia Arms "Canned Heat" remanufactured ammo they'd been shooting, just out of curiosity.

Tuesday morning I took this motley assortment of ammo, along with fifty rounds of Federal Premium 124gr +P HST and a hundred and fifty rounds of Winchester 124gr "NATO" FMJ, down to Marion County Fish & Game to do some chrono testing.

At ten til eleven on a Tuesday, I had the entire facility to myself.

Here are the numbers:
Estate 115gr FMJ
LO: 1148
HI: 1189
AV: 1174
ES: 40.75
SD: 14.38
On the weak side for 115gr FMJ, but so is most cheap plinking ammo these days...
Independence 115gr FMJ
LO: 1127
HI: 1172
AV: 1158
ES: 45.01
SD: 14.14
I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that the Independence had more ass behind it than the Estate, but there you go. Both are still pretty marginal. Now let's look at the remaufactured Georgia Arms stuff...
Georgia Arms 115gr FMJ
LO: 1174
HI: 1237
AV: 1215
ES: 62.94
SD: 17.52
Definitely hotter, but more erratic than either of the factory new loads. Incidentally, with the rounds sitting nose-down in the "egg carton" cartridge tray in the box, you could tell that bullet seating depth was pretty variable.

And the factory new stuff I had along for the test? Well, the Winchester Q4318 performed like it usually does.
Winchester 124gr FMJ "NATO"
LO: 1135
HI: 1198
AV: 1178
ES: 63.27
SD: 20.73
Even more erratic in velocity than the Georgia Arms reloads. I wish I were surprised.

Finally the Federal Premium 124gr +P HST hollowpoints...
LO: 1213
HI: 1253
AV: 1227
ES: 40.60
SD: 13.67
Had to snug the left grip screw down. It hasn't loosened since.

There were no malfunctions of any type to report.

This makes 830 rounds since the weapon was last cleaned or lubed with no malfunctions of any type. 1170 rounds to go.