Thursday, October 01, 2020

"Like a Mullet in 9mm"

 It looks like the entirety of my review of a used Ruger P89 is online now, if you would like to read it.

"Normally, complaints about high-bore axis are overblown. For most shooters, the effect of the bore axis height on Pistol A versus Pistol B in split times is lost in the statistical noise. Not the Ruger, though. The slide is a massive casting, and the shape of the backstrap ensures that said massive casting is positioned well above your grip. As it slams back and forth under recoil, you notice it; it’s like shooting a Shake Weight."


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Tab Clearing...

 Time for a reduction in the number of open Wikipedia tabs...

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Oh, yeah!

 This commercial has purely tickled my funny bone...


Redux, but explained.

 Someone on social media was again talking about how their travels had been taking them to mom'n'pop gun shops in small towns, and he was surprised to find the stock and pricing in most of them to be pretty near normal. He speculated that ammo manufacturers were prioritizing small shops...

It’s not that they’re prioritizing deliveries there, it’s just that they don’t do as much business so they’re the last to sell out. As a matter of fact, those shops are the exact opposite of prioritized; when they do sell out, they’ll be the last to get restocked. Wholesalers and manufacturers prioritize buyers who purchase by the skid, not who buy a case or two a year.

 What happens with those smaller shops that are off the beaten path is that their inventory lasts about until one of their regular customers goes on social media or a gun forum and says "I don't know what all you people in big cities are talking about with this 'ammo panic'. Ain't nobody panicking here in Two Mules, Kansas. We've all got our guns, I guess. Why, I just stopped by my regular LGS, Billy Bob's Tradin' Post, and their stock and prices were all normal."
 
 Three days later, after the locusts have descended, Billy Bob's is sold out.

 Three months later, Billy Bob's....which was run by Billy Bob as a side gig to his regular welding business using his wife as a bookkeeper/office manager, a retiree to basically run the place four days a week, and a college kid as part time counter help...hasn't been able to restock and closes, behind on its mortgage because they had zero reserve capital to weather ninety days of sub-hundred-dollar gross sales.


(SOURCE: I have worked for three or four Billy Bobs and known dozens personally. Like most small businesses...and especially most hobby businesses...your typical brick and mortar gun shop is dramatically undercapitalized.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

L'enfer c'est les autres

 Back when I was maintaining the S.W.A.T. Magazine Facebook page, every time I posted a link to a self-defense incident from Texas, I'd cringe a little inwardly, because the news story would inevitably reference that the matter was being referred to a grand jury.

Common Taters would then erupt in outrage..."A grand jury?!? What kind of communism is this? It was clearly self-defense!"...because people, some of whom were licensed gun owners in the state of Texas, seem stunningly ignorant of the fact that all homicides in Texas go before a grand jury.

The latest example of this phenomenon on social media has been triggered by an AP headline:

Texas grand jury: No action against killer of church shooter

This has led to the usual painstaking attempts at explaining, which are as frustrating as trying to push a rope uphill because the whole internet has a JD from the Law & Order University Richard Anthony Wolf School of Law and doesn't want to hear what it doesn't want to hear.

Hence you get conversations like the following:

"Why was he even charged?!?" 
He wasn't charged. 
"But why was the case even brought before a grand jury!" 
Texas requires all homicides to be brought before a grand jury. 
"But think how much he had to pay to defend himself!" 
Nothing. You aren't represented before a grand jury. 
"Why did it take nine months? It should have taken nine minutes!" 
If you'd take two seconds to type 'Tarrant County grand jury' into Google like I just did, you would see that Tarrant County grand juries, of which two are empaneled at any time, hear 14,000+ cases a year. They meet three days per week. And that's not taking into account disruptions caused by the Time of the 'Rona.
"But...but...!" 
I hate the internet.
And then, after this entire exchange, you get to do it again, because people don't read through threads and instead just charge to the blinking cursor in the comment box at the bottom to upchuck their typo-laden misspelled spleen, usually complaining about something that's been addressed half a dozen times upthread.
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Monday, September 28, 2020

Seasons Turn

 We've been having an unseasonably warm and very dry September here in Hoosieropolis; the sort of weather that would have had Farmer Frank blogging about the drought. At least we were right up until about three hours ago when a cold front blew in from the west, bringing much-needed rain and ensuring that we've already seen the warmest temperatures of the day.

 Looking at the forecast for the next week, it was time to put the top up on the Zed Drei, since I couldn't guarantee temps warm enough to keep the rear window pliable for any length of time in the near future.

 Much like 2018 and the broken collarbone, 2020 has turned into another year without a summer...or at least any semblance of a normal summer.

 Sadly, the long hot dry spell doesn't bode well for a colorful autumn, either. Neighborhood oaks are already shedding leaves without even changing color much.

 Blah. Maybe I'll try to get to the zoo this week.

 Have a picture of a floofy dog from the neighborhood.



Saturday, September 26, 2020

...it was the style at the time.

 

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #192...

Coming soon to an issue of Shooting Illustrated near you...

There's a large tree stump by the left-hand berm in the south bay at Marion County Fish & Game that's only partially in the shade of the new awnings. In the mornings, when the light is right, it's like a natural stage for shooting by available light. 

This shot was with the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro, which practically qualifies as a vintage camera these days, at least by digital photography standards.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Armor

 

Official Shutterbug

Yeah, yeah, the movie itself is going to be full of political whingeing, but candid portraiture is my favorite kind of photography and Pete Souza is a master of it, so I'll be watching it.

(I'm also enough of a geardo that I want to see the setups he was using during the Reagan years.)

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

This gives "ship's cat" a new meaning.

 How I missed this story when it was fresh is a mystery to me.


Greatness and the Profit Motive

 My internet meanderings this morning caused me to run across a vintage Car and Driver piece from the launch event for the Porsche 928, back when it was still intended as the 911 replacement and the Porsche of the future. 

It's a great article with classic writing from David E. Davis and L.J.K. Setright, among others, and includes this quote from Ernst Fuhrman, then-chairman of Porsche:

"It's not surprising that a car that is designed to be good at 230 kph would be good at 100. It would be very surprising if cars designed to be good at 100 kph could be good at 230. Our cars are not as they are because we are better engineers than General Motors. Our cars are as they are because Germany has no speed limits. If I was running General Motors or Ford, my cars would probably seem just as dumb as Estes's or Ford's. I run a small company with very few customers, and it is easy for me to look smart—only my risks are proportionately greater."
 
He warmed to his subject as we wrecked a perfect sea bass and ordered red wine for the cheese. "I design cars for a thousand people or so. I don't have to design cars for everybody. At Daimler­-Benz or General Motors, I would have to listen to this one or that one: 'The car is too small; it is too big; old people won't like it; it must have four doors.' I am in an enviable position. If I don't like it, it won't get built." 
 
"One man can design a car. A small group of men can design a car. But a large group of men will always design gray mice. I promise you that anyone who has owned a Turbo or a 928 for one year will never forget it. On the other hand, a man who has owned a gray mouse—no matter how good it is—will look back twenty years later and say to his wife, 'What was that car we had? It was a very good one, but I can't remember the name.' "

I was reminded of the flip side of that coin, a quote from Carroll Shelby regarding the Porsche 959, which I can't find online, but paraphrased was something like this: "The 959 is an amazing car, but Porsche is losing money on every one they sell. You think the engineering department at GM or Toyota couldn't design a car like that? They could, but they're in business to make money."

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Fakery on the internet? Say it ain't so!

 How good are you at spotting bogus social media profiles, the kind that are just being used to agitate or exploit social divisions? (For some reason these are called "trolls", which doesn't seem entirely accurate, but the term has stuck.)

I got six out of eight right at this link.

I'd have gotten seven, but I managed to outsmart myself. 

"This is such an obvious troll account that it must not actually be a troll and there's some little tell that I'm missing. They just want me to think it's a troll account, so I'm gonna say it's not.

Spoiler alert: It was a troll.

(h/t to OnHerOwn)


Automotif CLXXXV...

 

There was a time when I actively disliked the lines of the C3, but that's softened over the years. I've warmed up to them rather a lot, but I think it's the body style easiest to ruin with aftermarket bodywork.  This clean, stock model from...well, 1970-'72, somewhere in there...is rather attractive, but sticking spoilers and such on them inevitably winds you up in Corvette Summer territory, and nobody wants to go there. Nobody who's sane and has good taste, anyway.

Part of my mixed feelings might also come from the fact that the C3 straddled two eras. 

The earliest ones were right at the peak of the muscle car era, with an array of ferocious big block options and capable of blistering acceleration, but the tail end of the body style saw such ignominies as a 305 cubic inch motor for California cars, smog motor 350s with sub-200bhp output, and the final model year saw the debut of the baroque Crossfire Injection setup. 

For most of the later '70s, stock Corvettes struggled to break into the 14's in the quarter and turned in 0-60 times in the sevens, but then again, pretty much everything was slow from '75-'85. Those were dark times for horsepower fans.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Slogans are Replaced, by-the-bye...

 Man, watching the backing and filling on both sides explaining why they're flip-flopping on their positions from four years ago has been hilarious. The august adults elected to our nation's senior deliberative body are trotting out talking points that are little more than long-winded, polysyllabic versions of the ones familiar to parents of toddlers: "She started it!" and "Billy did it first!"

Ted Cruz's convoluted but consistent arguments on This Week showed that he got his money's worth out of that Harvard law degree. 

"If you look at history, if you actually look at what the precedent is, this has happened 29 times. Twenty-nine times there has been a vacancy in a presidential election year. Now, presidents have made nominations all 29 times. That's what presidents do. If there's a vacancy, they make a nomination. 

While it doesn't necessarily jibe with his or his party's statements from four years ago, he'd obviously done his homework before going on the show and had his answers prepared and ready.

Hillary on Meet the Press was visibly flailing and out of practice.

"Oh, it's absolutely broken, Chuck. And I was able to watch your previous interviews with Senators Klobuchar and Barrasso. And Senator Barrasso is, you know, doing an epic job trying to defend the indefensible. The system has been broken for quite a while. But clearly, the decision that Mitch McConnell made back in 2016 in the midst of that presidential election but at a much earlier time when Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away is what should be the standard now. They talk about, "Well, you know, we had other standards before." Well, they made a new precedent. And that new precedent, which they all defended incredibly passionately, is to wait for the next president, whoever that is, to make the nomination. But as you clearly heard, that is not what they are intending. And it's another blow to our institutions. You know, what's happening in our country is incredibly dangerous. Our institutions are being basically undermined by the lust for power..."
And Hillary Clinton is absolutely a Subject Matter Expert on the lust for power. 

Unfortunately, while Chuck Todd absolutely loves politics, he's got zero killer instinct as an interviewer, so he didn't press the issue of the the Dem's 180° with the person most likely to give an entertaining answer.

The whole situation is so up in the air that anyone making confident predictions about any of it is pretty much guaranteed to be talking out their ass, but I can state one thing for sure: The Democratic Party's senators are right now rueing the day they voted for the "nuclear option". And all Americans should be, too. 

The day that we decided that a straight 51 senator party line vote was all it took to confirm a SCOTUS pick, we ensured that only nominees who appeal to party bases would be picked. 

Compounding the problem, Big Data is doing to electoral politics what Sabermetrics did to baseball. With the "swing voter" turning out to be a myth, the old "Primary to the base, General to the center" is collapsing, and elections are turning into a contest to see who can radicalize and enrage their base more, while discouraging the other side's base from even turning up.

This is just going to crank the divisiveness to eleven, while both sides' leaders are doing their best to discourage their loyalists from trusting the results of the election. Uncool.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Well-played, Mopar. Well-played indeed.

There's a little Easter egg in the airbox of the Ram 1500 TRX...

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Polititainment

 As I would have expected, the Sunday morning political talking head shows this morning are lit, y'all.

As someone who is somewhat of a Meet the Press partisan, it pains me to say that This Week With George Stephanopoulopoulopoulos consistently has a better panel discussion, what with Rahm Emmanuel and Chris Christie as permanent fixtures sparring with each other.

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Wherein I Realize I'm A Poor

 A good ballistic helmet and NODs would be sweet, but that's just way too gucci for my income bracket.


Plus, that's only the start of a very expensive rabbit hole that leads to IR illuminators, taller optics mounts, and all kinds of other unforeseen expenses. "It's not the camera body that's the big expense, it's the sum total of all the lenses and accessories."


Thursday, September 17, 2020

We're living in a straight-to-video '90s SciFi flick.

 

Disappointing, actually...

 Just as a data point, dude running a G48 with Shield Arms 15-round mags in last weekend's Rangemaster Instructor Development class was having constant problems with them. Tom mentioned he hadn't seem them running well in a class yet, to his knowledge. 

 I don't mean to get off on a rant, here, but the 48 runs fine with factory 10-rounders, and Glock also makes a 4" gun that runs like a top with 15-round mags and has been more or less the industry standard for a reason. 

 "But have you tried...?" Hey, if I wanted to maybe have to dick around with a gun to make it run reliably, I'd buy a Kimber. I thought the whole point of a Glock was to pull a soulless piece of combat tupperware out of the box and get to blasting with no more preparation than stuffing rounds in the magazines?

Messing around with sights or trigger shoes is one thing, adding a magwell or a Gadget or a backstrap plug doesn't affect reliability, but magazines? I have yet to run across an aftermarket Glock magazine I'd entirely trust for carry. Maybe Magpul, but only if I absolutely had to, and I'm having a hard time envisioning a scenario where I had to.

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The most British battle name ever.

 So King Henry VIII of England decided he wanted his kid Eddie, who was, like, six years old at the time, to be promised the hand of little Mary, daughter of the Scottish king, in marriage. (She wasn't even two yet, so it's unlikely she was asked her opinion on the matter; dynastic politics are creepy as dammit.)

Now, if you wanted your son to marry your neighbor's daughter, what would you do? Well, if you were Henry VIII, you'd invade your neighbor's house and try burning it to the ground.

England went to war with Scotland in an attempt to fuse the dynasties in a conflict now called...in as British a manner as possible...the "Rough Wooing".

This conflict culminated in the English shooting up the Scots army at the Battle of Pinkie (I'm not making this up), a crushing English victory...only the Scots had already bundled Mary, now aged five, off to France and betrothed her to the Dauphin, which is what the French called the king's senior manchild. What a dolphin has to do with being a prince is one of those things that only monarchists understand, I guess.

Anyway, with the Scottish princess married off to the French prince of Viennois the odds got flip turned upside down and troopships began disgorging French soldiers and mercenaries from the Holy Roman Empire in Scottish harbors. It was obvious that, despite the shooting having tapered off with England holding a good-sized strip of southern Scotland, the Scots were willing to keep on fighting to the last Frenchman. 

A peace treaty was concluded and, despite England having won on the battlefield, they went home without any territory or Scots princesses to show for their efforts.

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Automotif CLXXXIV...


Side marker lights, red FORD in the grille, no doors, dual wipers, 302 badges... I'm guessing this is a '70 Bronco Sport with aftermarket fiberglass door inserts done to roadsterize it? (I'm not enough of a Ford nerd...especially a Ford truck nerd...to tell the model years apart at a glance, but I do know the Roadster disappeared after 1968 and the 302 didn't debut until '69, and '68 side marker lights were low on the front fenders.)


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Countercurrents...

 Kevin Creighton jumps back into the blogging game:

Social media is addicting. Social media is a drug. And it was a drug that was taking over my life.

So this is my methadone to social media’s heroin. I’m getting back into the blogging game. Look for my links and longer content and rants and snarky remarks to show up here, rather than on Facebook. I may write about politics here, I might not. I might write about music here, I might not. I probably won’t write that much about guns, though, as I get paid to do that sort of thing for other people.

What kind of loser still writes a blog in 2020, anyway?

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Now the orcas are going loopy...

 Who had "killer whales get cranky and attack sailboats" as their September 2020 prediction?

 The latest incident occurred on Friday afternoon just off A Coruña, on the northern coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts was taking a 36ft boat to the UK when an orca rammed its stern at least 15 times, according to Pete Green, the company’s managing director. The boat lost steering and was towed into port to assess damage. 

When asked why the orcas, who are known for generally leaving humans alone, had started doing this all of a sudden, marine biologists shrugged and looked at each other and said "Dude, it's 2020. Who the hell knows?"

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This is where we start gene splicing, right?

 Permafrost is becoming a lot less perma in many areas of the arctic, which has already led to the discovery of some well-preserved wooly mammoths. Now the thawing of long-frozen ground has unearthed a couple of well-preserved cave bear carcasses.

This has allowed the species, which was formerly known only from fossils, coprolites, and steamy historical romance novels, to be seen in the flesh for the first time.

Like anyone who's read a Crichton novel, my first thought was to hope that someone was going to gene-splice these things back to life. My second thought was to title this post "Pleistocene Park", but it appears that name has already been taken.

Maybe we'll get a really intact wooly rhino! (Most of the rhino finds thus far have been partial finds* or juveniles.)

Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Because I'm imagining the safari possibilities...

*The usual method of these things getting uncovered in colder years was via riverbank erosion in tundra country, which tended to kinda dismember the carcass by the time anyone came along to find it.

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Rawr.

 When is a Ferrari not a Ferrari? Wait, that's not entirely correct... When is a Ferrari still mostly a Ferrari except not exactly the kind of Ferrari it's pretending to be?

GTO's Revival cars are designed to be driven and used. They take the legal identity of what are normally basket-case Ferraris from the same period, most often 330s or 365s, and are then rebuilt with a new chassis, bodywork, and a fresh V-12 engine. In the case of the GT SWB, that means hand-formed aluminum bodywork, with the big change being an effectively invisible one: GTO Engineering rolls the panels rather than hammer-beating them as Scagletti's craftsmen did.

I don't normally pine after cars with seven digit price tags, any more than I pine after Gulfstreams or sports teams. There are things that are just so out of the realm of possibility of me ever owning that the desire to do so just doesn't cross my mind, but that 250 GT SWB repro is almost enough to get me to buy a lotto ticket.

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Gun School...


 

In the era of the traveling firearms instructor, a cert from Rangemaster's Instructor Development Course is as close as there is to a blue chip credential for a trainer from whom you may be looking to get schooling.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Automotif CLXXXIII...

 

The 911 was always my "someday" car and, like most people, the versions that were cool right when I was getting around to driving age were the ones that I kinda wanted the most.

Sadly, it looks like air-cooled 911's of any variety have passed the bottom of their depreciation curve and even a driver-grade SC is comparatively silly money these days compared to not all that many years ago. As a matter of fact, I went nosing around the auto sales sites thinking that maybe early '90s cars might still be low, but it turns out that in 2020, you can pick up an early Aughties 996 in daily driver shape cheaper than you can score a decent 964/993 Carrera 2, on average.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Handycam

 The problem with taking a class that you're trying to document for a writeup is that it's hard to get good photos. Sure, you can pull your phone out of your pocket every so often, but that has limitations. Either you have to get up in the instructor's grille or you have to crop heavily to get decent shots.


I tend to stash a DSLR somewhere along the sidelines. If we're running two relays on the line, I shoot pics while the other string is shooting bullets. If we only have one, I ask to be put at either the far left or far right end of the line so I can fall out during a drill and grab some photos while causing minimal disruption to my fellow students.


Stashing a camera on the sidelines is okay under most circumstances, although I did have blowing grit put paid to the little motorized lens cover on my beloved first Nikon Coolpix P7000 when I left it hanging off my range bag on the sidelines of that inaugural Citizens Defense Research class outside of Topeka; that's a job best left to moderately rugged DSLRs.


I have found a use for pocket cams under these circumstances, though. My Sony RX100 fits in my shirt pocket as easily as a cell phone and, unlike my cell phone which offers me a 24mm & a 50mm equivalent lens, it has a 24-105mm equivalent zoom, and a nice fat 1" 20MP sensor to go with it. In those second two photos above, I'm actually exploiting the zoom on the camera by standing behind fellow attendees and shooting past them at a longer focal length.

It's a whole lot easier to pull the little Sony out of my pocket in a hurry than to jog over to the sidelines and grab the real camera when I'm in a hurry. The DSLR still sees a lot of use, but the little pocket camera fills a niche, too.


Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Sad Trombone

 "These thirty pieces of silver are counterfeit!" -Josh Powell, probably, on reading the NYT's panning of his book.

I guess no matter who he shanks, he's not getting let back into the Bien Pensant Clubhouse & Cocktail Party Circuit.

The money quote from the review:

"Now he’s a singing insider in the year of the singing insider, a misfit chorus performing a cappella around a trash can fire."
That's pretty much summing up the publishing scene in 2020 thus far, yeah.

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Listen to Vimes

 

Automotif CLXXXII...

 Out picking up some shandies at the local 21st Amendment the other night, I was greeted by quite the sight in the parking lot when I emerged with my purchases.


In comparison to the screaming orange McLaren, the Zed Drei...even with its top dropped...was as pedestrian as a Fairmont wagon with mismatched hubcaps.

They say that Zoomers aren't interested in cars or driving anymore, that they just want to live in an entirely virtual world on their phones while being Ubered around in the back of generic self-driving hybrid transportation pods.

I dunno, though...

This thing managed to stop an entire gaggle of teenaged boys on their bikes right in their tracks, sucking them in like beetles to a bug zapper. Also, one middle-aged chick with a Nikon.
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Monday, September 07, 2020

IRIS Jon Frum

 So I'm wikiwandering around the world and wind up in Bandar Abbas, which apparently means "Port of Abbas". Abbas was the Safavid Shah who, with English help*, took the port city of Comorão from the Portuguese (who had themselves taken it from the Persians a hundred years earlier**) and promptly named it after himself.

These days the city's port serves as a major base for the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, having, as it does, a commanding position on the Strait of Hormuz.

The harbor facilities are very noticeable from the Googlesat, with what looks to be a standard cargo and passenger harbor at twelve o'clock and the IRIN facility branching off to the right, there, and... hello, what's that?


That sure looks like a carrier down there by the lower left breakwater, only the Iranians don't have a carrier...


"Googlesat, zoom and enhance."

Oh my lawlz. The Iranians have been busying themselves refurbing their Cargo Cult Target Carrier, last seen being sunk in a propaganda short.


*I went looking for details on this in the history of the Royal Navy and came up empty handed. The reason being that while the help offered to Abbas was indeed English, it wasn't from the government, but rather from Ye Olde Dynecorpe equivalent, the British East India Company, which had its own army and navy.

**When the Portuguese captured it, Europeans knew it as Bamdel Gombruc, a corruption of "customs house port". This is probably yet another incidence of a foreigner standing in the middle of the harbor and asking a local "What is this place?" while gesturing around him, with the local thinking "Duh. You're in the port. Where do you think you are?"

Decades

 

Sunday, September 06, 2020

I had no idea that Holden could read.

 

Biting is Holden's love language, and one of his favorite methods of communication. Not hard, nor enough to break skin, but he has a surprising variety of bites for conveying info...more types of bites than words the apocryphal eskimos had for snow.

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Saturday, September 05, 2020

I shouldn't have to say this, but...

Every so often some Cletus on social media goes "Hyuk hyuk! I dunno what 'ammo panic' y'all are talking about. I live in FREE AMURICA, and my local gun store, Joe's Freedom Blasters in Two Mules, Kansas, has plenty of ammunition!

Care to guess what Joe's Freedom Blasters doesn't have any more of forty-eight hours later, and isn't going to get any more of for months?

I wouldn't be giving away the location of that secret fishing hole, dude. There are major distributors who don't have that much ammo right now. 

 

Icepicks and Safety Blossoms

 


Look at that mean-looking bullet on the left. That's a Winchester Ranger T projectile, a product-improved version of the old Black Talon bullet. Specifically, it's a 127 grain bullet from their "+P+" RA9TA loading.

That's the load I used in my M&P9 back in the day. As a matter of fact, that bullet was fired from one of the last three rounds left over in a box that had actually been used to load my carry magazines.

Looks mean, right? All expanded like that with the fang-looking points on the jacket petals, you can see why some people would get the vapors and make up stories about "spinning like a buzzsaw" and such. (That "spinning like a buzzsaw" thing is such malarky. Given the twist rate of most pistol barrels and the thickness of a human torso, it's unlikely that the bullet would make two complete revolutions inside the body unless it were, say, an abnormally thick dude and a fast twist barrel.)

Anyway, when I noticed I had that one box with only three rounds left in it, I dragged it along to the range last time I was there with a gel block. I figured a nicely expanded death blossom would make a cool desk tchotchke.

My normal procedure is to wrap a 16" "FBI" gel block from Real Clear Ballistics in a pair of old jeans so that there are four layers of denim on the front and then four more in the back. Ideally, you'll find a nicely expanded bullet tangled in one of the denim layers on the far side of the block.

When I fired that first 127gr +P+ Ranger T, it icepicked right through the block without expanding, augered cleanly through the four layers of denim on the far side, and continued downrange to bury itself in the berm fifteen yards away.

Huh. That was less than ideal.

But, hey, flukes happen, so I lined up a second block behind the first to catch the projectile and fired a second round. It proceeded to icepick right through the block without expanding, drilled straight through the four layers of denim on the far side, poked all the way through a second 16" gel block without expanding, and also continued downrange to bury itself in the berm fifteen yards away.

Remember that next time you hear about people "shielding" someone else with their body. With a hot loaded non-expanding pistol bullet in most duty calibers, a human body is concealment, not cover.

The final remaining round, I cheated by firing it into bare gel, and it's the one that expanded prettily and is posing up there like a catalog bullet picture. It was dug out of the block, having come to rest fourteen inches in.

The RA9TA was, at the time I was carrying it, on Doc Roberts' approved list, but it looks like Winchester QC slipped on this batch. Possibly the assembly process had done a less than perfect job of skiving the jackets such that, when faced with the additional problem of having to defeat the denim, they just didn't expand.

This will also illustrate the actual purpose of bullet expansion with a 9mm round, which is to prevent the bullet from going through extra people who maybe didn't need bullets going through them. If they'd called the Black Talon the "Safety Blossom" instead, it might not have achieved notoriety.

Once upon a time, we had all kinds of weird theories about energy dump and foot pounds and secondary cavities and "violent expansion", and so they tried to get lightweight 9mm hollow point bullets going as fast as they could and expanding rapidly on impact. That usually resulted in underpenetration issues, which is what led to the 115gr Silvertip shot of Miami Shootout infamy.

Anyway, the bullet to the right is one that performed ideally. It's a Remington 124gr +P Golden Saber Black Belt, which is the current iteration of Remington's Golden Saber projectile (incidentally designed by the dude who'd designed the Black Talon when he worked at Winchester).

It went through the four layers of denim, expanded properly, and was found entangled in the denim on the far side of the block. That's about all you can ask from a pistol bullet unless you can figure out a way to have it make a u-turn on the far side of the bad guy and come through for another pass.

Anyway, wrapping up this post, I was going to give you the lot number of this particular batch of RA9TA but, frankly, if you've got decade-old ammo in your carry gun, you need to shoot that stuff up next time you're at the range and put some fresh BBs in the tank. (Besides, the box is in the next room and I'm feeling lazy after being on the road yesterday. I'll put it up later.)


Fun Gun Nerdery

 There's a fun post on rifle chamberings and modularity over at Counter Jockey Chronicles.

"The AR platform is pretty damn effective. And thanks to its modularity it can be tailored to any situation that arises. 

 But unfortunately, the DOD seems to think the pistol is where Joe and Jane should have modularity. And that's the dumbest damn thing done in the name of jointness since Robert Strange tried to make the F-111 a carrier based interceptor."

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Test Pattern

 One last day of gun school this week. Normal blogging should hopefully resume tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #191...

The 3913LS: Maybe the best single-stack DA/SA CCW auto ever.
The internet likes gun pictures, right?
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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Off the (Virtual) Shelf

Brian Aldiss's Helliconia trilogy in omnibus format on Kindle was priced low enough that I went ahead and added it to the library. I've read the first and third books, Helliconia Spring and Helliconia Winter, several times and enjoyed them. My first reading of Helliconia Summer, however, was really more of a skim than a read and it had never set its hook enough to make me want to come back, so I've decided to return to it and give it a fair chance.

The setting of the book is a planet that orbits on the fairly outer edge of the life zone of a dim star. It's naturally an icy, dark place, with a sapient species that sort of resembles upright musk oxen or bipedal yaks. The dim star has been captured into a highly elliptical orbit around a bright supergiant, so that now the planet Helliconia has two "years"; its regular 480-day trip around its own sun, plus the 1,800+ year trip around the big supergiant. During the big year it goes from frozen glacial wasteland to a tropical planet with equatorial temperatures over a hundred degrees small-year-round and then back again.

Oh, and the radiation from the big star caused evolution to run wild on the planet, including among the yak-people's pet monkeys...

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Now there's a name I haven't heard for a long time

The headline read "Napster sold for a song to UK virtual events company" and I was like "Wait, Napster is still around?"
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Automotif CLXXXI...

What's this I spy? No, not the Alfa station wagon in platform shoes* although that's pretty hawt, too; I mean the car in front of it.

Matching trilby and W113 Benz is, paraphrasing Kevin Creighton, approaching maximum hipster. I couldn't tell if the Becker was tuned to WICR, but I wouldn't bet against it.

I would definitely roll around Broad Ripple in this Pagoda with the top down & listening to smooth jazz if it were mine, and I'm not even a huge jazz fan.

I think it was a 280SL. The front end is Euro, lacking the bumper override guards and sporting the one-piece headlamp/fog light assemblies that were verboten on U.S.-market automobiles back then. However, the rear-view mirror appears to be a later post-'68 black-bordered safety unit and the rear fenders have the FMVSS-compliant side marker lights.

Could be a gray market car, could be that a later owner just liked the cleaner Euro schnozz. I mean, my '94 Mustang has '96 taillights because they look better and I've had people notice that.


*The sight of that Alfa Stelvio, which is one of the few members of the "Compact Crossover SUV" genre that isn't as dull as a math class in mid-May, did make me wonder what the odds were of the hawt-looking Italian station-wagon-in-platform-shoes still being on the road in 2072.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Unrealized Potential

Last year I had intended to carry the Langdon Beretta as a temporary stopgap until I picked a polymer-framed DA/SA gun with more mainstream pricing and finish out the year with it. One thing leading to another, I wound up carrying the LTT for the entirety of 2019 and into this year, until Milt Sparks got me fixed up with a Summer Special for the SP2022.

This means that instead of having already taken the Sig to a year's worth of classes and matches and shooting it a bunch on my own, I've had it in a holster for four months of apocalyptic ammo drought and no gun school. Lame.

I'd intended to switch back to something striker-fired next year after finishing up this project, but now I feel like I haven't given it a fair shake. I'm still torn, because I've wanted to get to putting in some real work with a MRDS gun.  My eyes aren't getting younger and if I'm eventually going to wind up shooting a dot for vision reasons, why not get a head start?

I dunno what I'm gonna do other than at least ride out the year with the SP2022.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Unexpectedly Sage

Kitteh actually has good advice for shooting a slide-mounted MRDS...


A lot of folks recommend using iron sights to learn how to find the dot, when actually doing that is holding the shooter back and slowing them down.

With a slide mounted MRDS, it seems like people's biggest failure is trying to look at the dot, rather than looking at the target and sticking the gun between their face and what they're looking at.

It's actually harder for people who've trained themselves for years to perform the completely physically unnatural act of looking at the gun instead of what they're shooting at. Shooting a pistol with iron sights well, you are training yourself to do a completely counterintuitive thing, which is to look at the weapon rather than what you are trying to hit with the weapon; it's a hard skill to learn and takes a lot of repetition to ingrain it.

But when you swing a stick at something, you don't look at the stick. When you throw a rock, you don't watch your hand. The advantage of a red dot sight is that it allows you to do the natural thing, which is to look at the target, while still delivering precisely aimed shots.

Just stick the pistol in front of your nose while looking at the target and the dot will be there. Your hand knows how to put something in front of your nose; you've been doing it all your life. You can do it with your eyes closed, even.
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Monday, August 24, 2020

Bats in the Belfr...er, Breakfast Nook

Our next door neighbor has pretty much decided that Bobbi is her preferred bat evictor, which occasionally makes for some good stories.
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Overheard in the Office...

RX: "You should look up the Tibetan fox." 
Me: "Why, what does the Tibetan fox say?"

Survivorship Bias

From Wikipedia:
"During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald took survivorship bias into his calculations when considering how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. The Statistical Research Group (SRG) at Columbia University, which Wald was a part of, examined the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions and recommended adding armor to the areas that showed the least damage, based on his reasoning. This contradicted the US military's conclusions that the most-hit areas of the plane needed additional armor. Wald noted that the military only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions; any bombers that had been shot down or otherwise lost had logically also been rendered unavailable for assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Thus, Wald proposed that the Navy reinforce areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed, since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost. His work is considered seminal in the then-nascent discipline of operational research."
What brought this to mind was a discussion on Facebook, prompted by my quipping about music:
Man, I just {LISTENED_TO_ALBUM/WENT_TO_CONCERT} by {$GROUP_FROM_MY_TEENS/EARLY_TWENTIES} and they still kicked ass just like they did when they were new. 
{$GROUP_LIKED_BY_KIDS_WHO_SHOULD_GET_OFF_MY_LAWN} just won't have that same kind of staying power."
Part of that phenomenon is that as people age, we're less likely to form strong emotional connections to specific pieces of music the way we were when we were younger, and part of it is that the music that gets remembered from the good ol' days is just the good stuff that's survived the sieve of time.

The year 1968, for instance, had huge chart hits from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but also from 1910 Fruitgum Company and Tiny Tim.

The airwaves had plenty of crap in my teens and early twenties, but I prefer to forget that. Say what you will about the Kids These Days, but they aren't listening to Milli Vanilli...of course, as it turned out, neither were kids back then.

Survivorship Bias is baked right into a lot of hobbies that interface with older things. “Man, they really knew how to build [cameras/pocket knives/watches/revolvers] in the old days!” is skewed by the fact that only the well-built stuff has survived. The handgun counter at the hardware store in a hypothetical Old West town had Colts and Smith & Wessons and Remingtons, and plenty of cheaply-made Victorian equivalents of Hi Points and Jennings, too.

Above you can see an 1875-vintage Colt New Line in .38 rimfire and a janky Red Jacket No.3 in .32 rimfire

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Automotif CLXXX...

1985 Toyota Celica GT-S convertible. All convertible Third Generation Celicas were done here in the U.S. by ASC of California; 200 in the '84 model year and a couple thousand for the '85 model year, which was the end of the line for the angular A60 3rd Gen body style.

The U.S. market was hungry for convertibles in the mid-'80s, having gone through a serious convertible drought for the last decade or so, largely due to stringent rollover standards. The American Sunroof Corporation handled factory convertible conversions on everything from Pontiacs to Porsches.

That angular look is so very mid-80s Japanese sports coupe. Celica/Supra, Subaru XT, Mitsubishi Starion, Honda Prelude...they all had that style about them. It's also notable that back then you could still market a car as having sporting pretensions with a 113bhp 2.4L four-banger under the hood. Very Eighties.


Photos shot with an old Nikon D7000 body & 16-80mm f/2.8-4E VR DX lens.

Ignorance in the Era of Freakout Journalism

Steve Bannon, who's always whiffed of the grift, was actually arrested, along with several of his accused co-grifters, the other day on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

The feds claim that the accused have been using money that marks and rubes sent to their "Build the Wall" online crowdfunding campaign to build walls around heated swimming pools and four-Porsche garages, rather than along the border to keep out swarthy foreigners and terr'rists.

Lou Dobbs flipped out over the mechanics of the arrest:
Addressing the story on his show on Thursday night, Dobbs, one of Donald Trump’s favorite Fox hosts, said Bannon “was arrested this morning, not by the FBI or US Marshals but by inspectors of the US Postal Service while Bannon was cruising aboard a mega yacht, owned by a Chinese billionaire”.

“Yes, you heard that correctly – an elite police unit of the Postal Service. They’re called the US Postal Inspection Service and they had authority to arrest Bannon and they did so … Somehow, the deep state launched agents of the US Postal Service to arrest Mr Bannon.”
Apparently Lou was unaware that wire fraud, being basically a spinoff crime of mail fraud, falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Postal Inspection Service.

This is a law enforcement agency whose roots date back to 1775, thereby antedating the actual, you know, United States itself. It obviously isn't some newfangled bureaucratic construction.

If Lou had paid attention to the Saturday morning Westerns on the ol' black & white Motorola as a kid, he might remember those guys riding in the mail coach with a shotgun. Those dudes weren't working for the FBI. I guess this isn't a part of America Lou wants to Make Great Again?

Settle down, Lou.

Meanwhile, a political candidate's campaign took out an ad at a newspaper. This would seem to be pretty unremarkable, as candidates buying advertising happens all the time.

In this case, however, the campaign is Donald Trump's, and the newspaper it bought ads in was the online edition of the Washington Post (to which I subscribe).

Commentators have been losing their tiny little minds about this. They've been calling out the newspaper's motto, "Democracy Dies in Darkness", and demanding to know how the newspaper could use this tagline and still, you know, accept ads from a political candidate.





Apparently in their minds, in a real democracy only one candidate is allowed to buy advertising? How...Soviet of them. I don't know whether democracy dies in darkness or not, but it sure doesn't seem to thrive in dimness.

Settle down, Gertz & Calderone.
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Friday, August 21, 2020

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #190...

FN 509 Compact MRD, doing some gel tests last week...


Not the time nor the place for your O.D.D.

A former Navy SEAL who has said he killed Osama bin Laden has been banned by Delta Air Lines after removing his face mask during a flight.

Robert O’Neill tweeted about his ban on Thursday, and the airline confirmed the action.

“Part of every customer’s commitment prior to traveling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which includes wearing a mask," the airline said in a statement. "Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future.”
"Thank you for your service, sir. Now please cover your germhole."

Look, dude, it's Delta's airplane. If they say you gotta sing "I'm a Little Teapot" to fly, then you sing "I'm a Little Teapot" or you don't fly and I don't care if you shot thirty-seven Osama Bin Ladens or not.

Now stow your bag and sit down, the rest of us kids have connecting flights we gotta catch.

Jesus, my personalized version of Hell will be filled with all the "Special" people I've run into on airlines.

"No, honey, don't worry; when they said 'all carry-on bags must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you', they didn't mean you."

I know that 'being a sheeple and doing what you're told' does *not* come easily to some people, because it sure doesn't come easily to me, but the miracle of modern air travel only goes smoothly if everyone on the plane does exactly that.

Frickin' swallow your dignity for twenty-nine minutes so we can all get to Detroit on time and then you can go on a tirade to the gate agent when we get there.
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You may not like it, but this is what Peak 2020 looks like

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Revenge of the Nerd Calibers

The Rest of the Internet: “There’s no ammunition!”

Me: ha ha boxes from Lucky Gunner and Target Sports go thumpthumpthump