Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Versatile Light

When SureFire unveiled the Guardian at the shoot house event last year, I didn't really pay it much attention. The dual lamp setup seemed gimmicky, and it wasn't tacticool at all. The sample light arrived at the house and got set aside and ignored...until I decided to bring it along on my house-sitting trip to New Hampshire earlier this year.

Spending a week or so alone in a big house on a few acres way out in the woods completely changed my opinion of this light. Between the two lamps, each with three brightness settings, there wasn't a lighting chore it couldn't handle.

The larger lamp assembly is the traditional SureFire reflector you've come to know and love. It outputs 900, 250, or 15 lumens, depending on how many times you push the activation button in quick succession. The nine hundred lumen beam easily illuminated even the farthest corners of the property without stepping off the porch; it has a lot of throw.

The smaller lamp assembly uses SureFire's newer MaxVision reflector. This throws a wider, more even beam that lacks the intensely bright center hot spot. Again, it has three illumination levels that you step through by poking the button one, two, or three times. The brightest is a full 1000 lumens, stepping down through 300 to a minimum 15 lumen setting excellent for nighttime navigating to the loo without using full aircraft landing light power.

Between the lenses is the photocell that controls SureFire's "Intellibeam" technology, that dims the light based on reflection, so that if you hit a reflective surface with the full 900 or 1000 lumens, the light will throttle itself back.

The body is a solid-feeling polycarbonate shell, the halves of which are welded together for water resistance. There's a metal inset panel on the the side opposite the buttons that serves as a radiator.

The shape of the light makes it easy to turn on to the desired setting and then set it down to use as a work light.

It charges via a USB-C port, which features a rubber cover for weather resistance. It can also be used as a battery pack to charge small devices, if necessary.

It's right on the outside limit of what I'd want to carry in my jeans pocket, but really not any more difficult than my usual EDCL2-T.

If I could change anything, it would be to put a different shape or texture to the two buttons. It's hard to put your thumb on the wrong one, but a little added insurance wouldn't hurt.

Anyway, my opinion on the thing has changed from "gimmicky" to "actually rather versatile and useful". It's better than my EDCL2-T at pretty much any flashlight chore that doesn't involve simultaneously holding a pistol.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sandhill Cranes

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II & 70-200mm f/2.8L lens

Death of a Salesthing

If you're a Gen X'er, like me, Sears loomed large in your childhood. They sent out this huge catalog that was full of cool stuff. When I was home sick from school, I wasn't allowed to watch TV (being sick wasn't supposed to be fun) and so I'd while away my time in bed with a calculator, a note pad, and catalogs, "spending" a million dollars. Sears got a lot of that imaginary money, because they had everything.

They were such a huge retailer that they had their own house brand lines of a lot of stuff. Craftsman tools, Kenmmore appliances, DieHard car batteries...all that was Sears.

As a teenager and into my early 20's, with a nascent sense of "coolness", Sears became associated in my mind with store-brand knockoffs. There was the Sears Tele-Games console, which was a re-labeled Atari 2600, Sears-branded cameras, and working my first gun counter job in a pawn shop meant I was constantly running across J.C. Higgins or Ted Williams-branded firearms.

By that time, Walmart was already eating Sears' lunch in the retail business.

Ironically, however, the company that started out as strictly a catalog business and didn't move into brick-and-mortar retail until it was well into corporate middle age got put into its death spiral by an online book store from the Pacific Northwest.

This week, what's left of Sears filed for bankruptcy. And so it goes.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Deck of cards on a Coke can...

That's the approximate dimensions of the Panasonic Lumix GM1 fitted with the excellent 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom lens.

Yet it's capable of grabbing the action from clean across a not-terribly-well-lit gymnasium.

I'll note that the GM1 was having an easier time of getting fast shutter speeds in the available light than the mighty EOS-1Ds Mark II. It may be just a pocket Micro Four Thirds enthusiast's camera compared to a monster full-frame Canon pro body, but a lot of water passed under the sensor bridge between 2004 and 2013.

Back in the day...

About fifteen years ago, a guy walked into Randy's Guns & Knives and asked if we could convert his Rossi .357 Mag to accept .38 Super.
"Uh, dude, it's semi-rimmed. You could shoot it now if you wanted to. But why?
"Versatility in a grid down situation." 
"I'm trying to picture a post-apocalyptic world where you can't find any .38 or .357, but have an ample supply of .38 Super."
Gratuitous Colt .38 Super pic because the internet likes gun pictures. Also, younger, dumber me used to stick things through trigger guards for pictures. Older, smarter me cringes.

Live and Learn

So, 'way back in 2012, this meme from Robb Allen gave me the giggles...

"Great, I just had my pajamas pressed and now this midget comes charging down my hallway!"
Back in those days I expended a lot of keystrokes saying that .22WMR was almost as good as 5.7mm, at least as far as private citizen self-defense use went.

I've changed mind since then. These days I think that, given the right loads and circumstances, .22WMR can be rather better.

Shooting jello with John Johnston of Ballistic Radio
There's an aphorism regarding defensive handgun ammunition that states "Shot placement is king, penetration is queen, and everything else is just angels dancing on pinheads."

The wounding mechanism of pistol bullets is entirely based on poking holes in things. There's no magical "hydrostatic shock" at these velocities. The bullet has to penetrate deep enough to go through something vital.

The block of clear gel below was shot without any layers of denim or anything. Bare gel is generally easy work for a good bullet. Hollow points will often expand with catalog picture perfection. In fact, that's the problem with the .380, there.

That .380 bullet expanded, and the round just doesn't have enough steam to expand like that and still wind up down there where the adequate service calibers are. It stopped nine or ten inches in.

Here's where I digress to point out that that fourteen to sixteen inches of penetration in gel is not a direct correlation to fourteen to sixteen inches of penetration in bad guy. Bullets that penetrate fourteen to sixteen inches in gel are the ones that are found in the bad guy's clothes on the far side. Bullets that penetrate nine inches in gel are the ones that don't get all the way to the spine.

Anyway, you'll note that the service calibers all went deep and expanded. (The .38 just went deep, but that's a discussion for another time.)

See what else is there next to the .380? That's right, the SOOPER PENETRATOR 5.7x28mm.

See, the pointy spitzer bullet gives the bullet a rapid yaw cycle. Now, if you're a 5.56mm rifle bullet traveling at rifle velocities, that rapid yaw cycle is what causes you to break in half at the cannelure and cause massive internal injuries as two big chunks of bullet and bunches of smaller ones go all over the place.

If you're a little FiveSeveN bullet traveling at pistol velocities, turning through 180 degrees really puts the brakes on penetration. The SS195 is not going to the spinal column today.

You know what bullets aren't radically spitzer-shaped and therefore tend to penetrate pretty okay? .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. Note the table at the end of that article. And remember that .22WMR is in that ballistic category where trading penetration for expansion is not necessarily a good thing. Solids penetrate real good.4

Oleg's CMR-30 at the Lucky Gunner Blogger Shoot back in the day.
Unless you're facing zombies wearing body armor, I'd generally prefer the .22WMR over the 5.7x28. In fact, I know some pretty clueful individuals who use small-frame .22WMR J-frames and LCRs as "gym shorts guns".

So, hey, I learned new things! I wonder what I believe right now that will have me looking back in 2024 and shaking my head?

Roller Derby!

Indoors shooting, and in not the best light. I used my trusty old manual-focus Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 lens on my Sony a7 II, via a Fotasy adapter. Shooting wide open with the ISO set to 800, I was able to get useably fast shutter speeds, although depth of field got a little tricky when the action was closer than about mid-track.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Automotif CXLIX...

1976 Plymouth Duster. My ex had a '75 with a 318 in it that he'd put mag wheels on, as well as a little ducktail of a spoiler on the decklid. He'd added a true dual exhaust that sounded a lot healthier than the 2-bbl smog motor actually was, and between that and the Direct Connection front license plate, its bark was entirely worse than its bite. Those were my peak redneck girlfriend days.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


I also used the combo of the EOS-1Ds Mark II & 70-200mm f/2.8L lens to snap a couple candid portraits of my friend JPG, which he was kind enough to let me share.

Although he'd no doubt demur, I think he's a treasure in the shooting world. This is a dude who turned a young cop named Jim Wilson onto the 1911 as an alternative to the service revolver. He was active in the earliest days of IPSC. And he still does pretty okay with a Thompson.

Because that's how I roll...

Gets full-frame Canon pro body and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens.

Uses it to take pictures of cats.

Can't lose a fight you're not in.

Claude Werner, aka "the Tactical Professor", had an interesting series of posts that analyzed the recent shooting in Texas where a father & son gunned down a neighbor during an aggressive dispute over dumping trash, of all things. He entitled it "Lessons from the Duel at the Dumpster" and it spanned three parts: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The memes appeared almost immediately.
Claude has often expressed the sentiment that what the average CCW carrier could use more than any tactical pistol-shooting class would be a Dale Carnegie course. Being abrasive and confrontational and insisting on MUH RIGHTS! when carrying a deadly weapon is tap-dancing on a landmine.

I park way out in parking lots, where there's nobody contesting me for a space. Besides, I can see all around my car, and it's not like I couldn't use the extra walking distance anyway.

If I'm approaching a door at the same time as someone, they always get to go first.

I'll step off the sidewalk for the mom pushing the stroller or the old man walking his dog...or pretty much anybody. And I'll do it preemptively and with a smile. Goodwill is cheap.

I look at it this way: It's easy for me to be benevolent; after all, I'm the one with the loaded gun.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Reach Out & Touch

Objectively? It's big, heavy, holds only eight rounds, uses an ammunition feeding setup a lot more awkward than a detachable box magazine, has an external op rod of Rube Goldbergian complexity, fires an unnecessarily large round, and has the mechanical safety lever placed in an unsafe location.

Also objectively? The weight soaks up the recoil of the powerful round, the sights are nearly ideal for long range accuracy with irons, and it was the best general-issue infantry rifle of its day.

Watching Stingray use his to lay down some hate on the long range steel targets made me miss mine something fierce.

Having at one time owned the SVT-40, M1 Garand, and FN-49, my practical side doesn't regret selling the first two and keeping the FN, but my sentimental side sometimes does.


Bobbi points out an upcoming ballot question that will be put to Hoosier voters in November:
"Shall Article 10, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended to require the General Assembly to adopt balanced budgets for state government that do not exceed estimated revenues unless a supermajority of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives and two-thirds of the members of the Senate vote to suspend the requirement?"
This is shiftily written, since (as Roberta points out) the state constitution currently prohibits the government from going into debt for any reason unless we're, like, being invaded by Ohio or something. The reasons for this are historical and closely tied to the scenic canal that runs through the heart of Broad Ripple Village.

This water-filled ditch caused Indiana to amend its constitution.
Would it surprise you that the GOP currently holds supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly? I wonder what Mammoth Improvements they want to go into debt for this time?

Thursday, October 11, 2018


I was all ready to type something when I looked out the window and noticed the sunrise was simply spectacular, so I grabbed a couple cameras and ran out into the dawn chill.

Now I can't even remember what I was going to type about except that it was something pointless and political.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Civics Fail

That was done for a reason and, contrary to revisionist history, that reason wasn't "but...but... slavery!"

Illustrative Analogy...

Every time someone points out that it might not be too wise to base your home-defense plans on bayoneting the bad guy in the back from ambush with your bump-stock-equipped Saiga that has Confederate-flag-pattern Punisher skulls cerakoted on the drum mags, it triggers the same thing:  A whole chorus of people baying "A good shoot is a good shoot!" and "Show me the case law!" and "But muh rights!"

A criminal defense attorney of my e-acquaintance offers up this brilliant analogy*:
"Your training and gear should, if possible, be as rational and understandable to the police & court system as possible. Think of it this way – I can put a medium rare porterhouse steak & a bottle of cabernet in front of you. That shit sells itself. I don’t need to explain it. Almost everyone likes it. (Vegans don’t count…and even then, all but the most extreme would understand that you are eating what normal people eat.) 
Sushi – a lot of people like it, some don’t…but everyone knows what it is and doesn’t think it is fucked up, weird and the people who eat that shit are fucked in the head. 
Guinea Pig? You try to get someone to eat it and they will look at you like you are a nut-job. Doesn’t matter if it is higher protein, lower fat & great flavor – it is a fucking pet. OK, some people in other countries eat it…but, er…not here.
Cat or Dog? You are a fucking nutter. Call the ASPCA. 
If your training or your gear cannot be explained to people who don’t know you without in-depth rationalization, convoluted reasoning and the suspension of disbelief… 
You have been feasting on the equivalent of Guinea Pig. 
Now, that may be just fine to keep you fed…but explaining it to your date may not work out well. 
When someone needs to explain what you did to a cop or a prosecutor, make sure they are selling a medium rare porterhouse & a bottle of cabernet, or at least some sushi. 
Don’t make your attorney sell roast Guinea Pig, let alone cat or dog."
*Which will be ignored by the people who've already ignored every other argument, but what the hell, why not throw it out there anyway?

A good summary...

...of the weekend's events can be found here.

This past weekend was the pole star of my year, holiday time well-spent with my family of choice. Only three hundred and sixty five days to go until next year.

What gun for Bigfoot?

There's been a discussion elsewhere on social media (as opposed to my blog, which is antisocial media) regarding the old shotgun vs. carbine for home defense question.

Both a 5.56mm carbine and a good repeating shotgun are fantastic home defense long guns that will absolutely wreck a bad guy's day at across-the-living-room ranges. Back about 2003 I sold my home defense gauge and went to the carbine and have only recently been flirting with going back to the shotgun. There are posts here from when I was a dozen years younger and a dozen years dumber on the topic and I guess it's one I should revisit.

Anyway I made the statement that if I knew one or two dudes were about to come through my front door, there was no gun I own that I'd rather have in my hands than my 870 stuffed full of buckshot. One commenter asked if I'd still prefer a shotgun in the case of "four dudes, one with an AR?", with a still from this ASP video:

Well, yes, even then.

These are the scenarios that get used to justify all kinds of esoteric gear purchases or training classes (although the former far more often than the latter, sadly.)

Time for some Real Talk:

  • Carbine, shotgun, pistol-caliber-carbine, paw-paw's lever-action deer gun...all of those are perfectly adequate to mess up a bad guy from a bunkered-in safe position in your house, but you ain't answering the door with any of them.

  • The best way to avoid a home invasion by multiple suspects with long guns is to not be in the unlicensed pharmaceutical distribution business. Of course, sometimes people buy a house or rent an apartment whose previous occupant was, and I suppose that rip crews get addresses wrong even more often than SWAT teams, so it's not a foolproof solution.

  • I have a whole bunch of ARs and cool go-fast gear because I think it's neat and I occasionally like to LARP in a carbine class, not because I think I'm gonna suit up in a plate carrier and NODs to defend myself from Joe Crackhead trying to kick in the front door. Its real-world use scenarios are pretty limited, but real handy inside those limits.

  • The best defense against typical crime remains immediate and ferocious resistance, preferably of the armed sort. Resource predators are unlikely to advance through a wall of lead for the chance at getting a wallet and a mediocre TV set.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

It begins...

My range day at B'rado mostly consisted of me busting open the Case Club 8-pistol case and letting the other attendees get their hands on trying out some of the test goodies inside. (Incidentally, I bought this case last year and it's seen two Blogorados and one New Hampshire trip and has put up with everything Delta baggage handlers and sliding around in the back of a pickup on dirt roads can throw at it. Recommend.)

I mostly took pictures of other people shooting*, but MattG was kind enough to use my camera to grab a few shots of me putting rounds downrange. Above is me with the Grayguns P225. Obviously my recoil control is still awful because of pain in my left shoulder.

That's me busting caps with the Langdon Tactical 92 Elite LTT.

The improvement in shootability for both these guns has to be felt to be believed. Both have been 100% reliable thus far, as well.

*Me going to the range on vacation is something of a busman's holiday these days.


Eastbound across Colorado, the sun was putting on a spectacular enough performance that I couldn't resist a cliched rear view mirror shot or five.

Slumping barn makes a photogenic foreground.

Both pictures were shot with the Sony a7, the top with the FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3, and the bottom with the FE 24-70mm f/4.

Missed flight, forgot stuff.

So the night before I was supposed to fly out, Bobbi had some unexpected work drama and before I knew it, it had gotten too late for me to go to bed.

See, I'd booked myself a 7:30AM flight from IND to ABQ via MSP. I like getting to the airport two hours before flight time to make doubly sure there are no TSA hiccups with the big case full of guns. There never are, but it's cheap insurance against the eventuality and I don't mind airports anyway. Once you're past the hassle of TSA, you're just hanging out in an overpriced mall.

So a 7:30 flight meant I wanted to get to the airport at five thirty, which meant leaving the house at 0500, which meant calling for an Uber at 0445 or so.

No problem, I'd just sit on the futon and read my newest P.J. O'Rourke book for a few hours and then summon my ride.

There was a front moving through. I could tell by the way my right knee and shin were twinging with pain. I rotated in my seat to elevate my legs, propping them atop my luggage stacked on the futon, and kinda laid back a little to

The next thing I was aware of was Bobbi yelling "Tam! It's six o'clock!"

Holy crap.

I grabbed the small camera bag and slid it down over the extended handle of the big camera bag, tossed the assembly onto the porch, followed by the suitcase and gun case. While doing this, I summoned my Uber, which was fortunately only six minutes away. I grabbed the camera on the way out the door and slung it around my forgetting it this year!

The Uber driver got me to the airport in record time, and there was no line at the Delta counter, but it took a good ten minutes to shuffle through TSA, not helped by them wanting to run my bag through the scanner a second time.

I gathered up my stuff and bolted to the gate...just in time to see the jetway disconnect and the plane get pushed back.

That's the first flight I ever missed.

Fortunately, I had built in a 3-hour layover in MSP because I didn't want to arrive at ABQ too early, and so I was able to catch the next flight out and still not miss my connection. They gave me seat 29A in a full Airbus 319. Seat A! A window seat! A miracle!

Row 29 in a Delta Airbus 319 doesn't have windows, if you want to make note of that for your next seating selection chart.

Got to ABQ, checked the weather for Blogorado and...whoopsie. Looks cold on Saturday! I may have made it out of the house without forgetting any camera gear, laptop power supplies, or gaming mice, which are the usual things I forget, but I forgot my coat. In fact, I had not packed any jackets or sweaters of any kind.

On arriving at our final destination, however, we stopped at the local Tractor Supply analog for ammunition and other sundries, and I went to look for a jacket. They had a clearance rack of Carhartt coats and I found one I liked marked down to $50. Even better, the cashier scanned it and pronounced the actual price to be $40.

When I reported this to my fellow Blogoradans, they descended like locusts on the clearance rack until the place looked like a Carhartt convention and the clearance was truly cleared.

This is my first piece of Carhartt apparel, and I'm pretty impressed so far.


The first couple times I went to Blogorado, I still had my first smartphone, an LG Optimus burner from Virgin Mobile. Cell phone service was nonexistent for me for the weekend, but I'd eagerly update the blog from any pirated wi-fi source I could find.

Conversely, switching to T-Mobile meant that my current iPhone was almost never without signal the whole weekend. I used my Amazon app to order replacement eye cups while we were driving along a stretch of highway where you could see to the horizon 360 degrees and not glimpse a single man-made structure other than the road. But I took a little vacation from the blog, the longest one ever since I started, I think.

But I'm back now!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

I can't make up my mind...

...about whether I think the bling-y M17s Sig Sauer just made for the purpose of being carried by the honor guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns are garish or super cool.

All I know is that if a BB pistol or airsoft replica version is ever offered for sale, I'mma be on that thing like a fat kid on a Twinkie.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Double Action Summer Autumn

This summer was supposed to be an experiment for me. Having had good experiences on the 2,000-round tests with the HK P30L and the CZ-75B Omega, I was going to spend three months or so extensively shooting several of the better traditional DA/SA guns on the market with an eye toward adopting one as my next carry gun. This would coincide with me switching to an AIWB holster, having lost a bunch of weight.

Well, all that got put off by the broken collarbone, so now it's going to be the autumn of Traditional Double Action instead of the summer of ditto.

It started with yesterday's range trip:

My HK P30L just got back from Grayguns, where it had received their Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package. The DA pull is indeed lighter and smoother, and the shorter reset is immediately noticeable.

Also on deck was the Langdon Tactical Beretta 92 Elite LTT. The trigger on this thing is phenomenal. Between the "D" mainspring and the Wilson Combat trigger bar and a few other enhancements, it's among the nicest DA/SA triggers I've played with.

Both guns shot extremely well...

This target was from me just railing on the guns, doing big goofy mag dumps from seven yards.

This is gonna be a fun few months, because there's more to come...

Monday, October 01, 2018

...and that makes 2,000*.

When I first got my hands on the Wilson Tactical Carry Professional a couple years ago, the first thing I did before launching the 2,000 round test was to glorp a generous amount of Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil down the slide rails as well as schmearing it all over the chamber hood and muzzle end. The gun ran through the whole test without a bobble.

With the EDC X9, I didn't glorp. Instead, I put a single drop of Liberty Lubricants CLP on the barrel hood and muzzle end and dripped two drops each on the frame rails.

I don't necessarily think anything was wrong with my choice of lubricants, but definitely there was with the amount. By the 1,700 round mark, the slide was noticeably sluggish in closing, due to the presence of fouling and the absence of lubricant. On rounds 1,711 and 1,724, the slide didn't close all the way.

Rather than turn this into a display of me possibly damaging a dry gun, I grabbed a bottle of FP10 out of my range bag and glorped some onto the four major lube points. The gun proceeded to chew through the remaining 270 rounds like it was brand new, despite being as filthy as filthy can be.

I'll be doing a detailed teardown post and a Q&A in the comments over at the Patreon page.

Free Speech Enforcer

Great piece up at BuzzFeed News on Marc Randazza, possibly the most entertaining member of the legal profession at this moment in time. I'm a longtime fan.

It's a conundrum these days that our "public squares" tend to be hosted on various corporate servers where a desire to keep customers allows the heckler's veto free reign and there's a never-ending war between callout culture and shitposting trolls, and where the First Amendment is nominally not in play at all. I wonder how long such a situation can hold?

Meanwhile, listen to this: