30 October 2010


Being a gun guy and a gamer, I ask questions that don't seem to occur to the authors.

I'm doing research about equipment for a SEAL platoon working in the Mekong in late '67 early '68.

The players will have their choice between the M79 and XM148 grenade launchers.

The question is about the length of the rounds.  The XM148 is conceptually similar to an M203.  It mounts under the barrel of an M16 and the barrel of the GL slides forward for loading.  Some rounds, like the parachute flare M583 are quite long, 5.272".  The normal HE round in Vietnam is the M381 and it's 3.89" long.

The rules as written indicate that some 40mm grenades are considered "long" and that the M203 cannot use "long" rounds.  The problem I have is that I know for damn sure the M203 can use the M583.  The rules indicate that a parachute flare is an "illum" round and those are "long".

Damn reality messing with a perfectly good rule.

The stats I have for the XM148 predate the "long" rule, so I don't even have that for guidance.

So I grab the internet and start looking for pics.  The M203 appears to open 4.83".  The XM148 appears to open 4.27".  I scaled off of photos so there's prolly a ±0.075" here.  If I assume that the M583 just barely fits and is the maximum length round you can load in an M203; then an XM148 cannot load any rounds that are longer than 4.7" or so (assuming the same geometry).

Basically that means that if the 40mm round has a parachute, you cannot fire it from an XM148.

Also listed in the equipment with the rules as written is the Naval Warfare Center, China Lake Pump-Action Grenade Launcher.  The date listed for this is "1968", so I am not sure if the players will have access to one.  The breech opening appears to be sized at 4", just long enough for HE, but not for any smoke or illum rounds.  Plenty long for the M576 Buck-Shot round though.

26 October 2010


I am reading about cost effectiveness and military aircraft procurement.

the author has some valid points and I agree with many, but he's missing something vital about one thing.

V-22A is not a helicopter.  It's a totally new form of aircraft.  His proposal to save money by buying helicopters ignores the main reason the Osprey was considered at all.  Speed and range.  It is a quantum leap in performance over a helo with the same lift capacity.

He cites money spent and lives lost and how it should have been scrapped long ago.

Pray; tell me how much was spent making fixed wing aircraft as safe and reliable as they are today?  How many lives lost pursuing rotary wing?

The V-22 is neither a plane nor a helicopter.  The entire regimen between flight modes is unique and was unknown until they actually flew them.  There were lots of places where it simply could not be known until someone did it.  Too many to test every single one.  Because of this a huge consideration is not even the machine, but the pilot.  At least one of the "let's end the program it's killing people" accidents was because the pilot was still flying a plane and not yet flying a helicopter, even though his aircraft was no longer flying like a plane.  The phenomenon was well known and understood by rotary wing pilots, but the Osprey pilot hadn't changed modes in his mind.  A mode change that a chopper pilot never has to make.

Newb blogger questions.

When you read the gun blogs and start to frequent a few key sites you encounter some unknowns that everyone else seems in on.

The World's Most Dangerous Librarian has a prosthetic limb.  She's made it clear she's sick of people asking.  But lots of people seem to know how she came to wear it.  I came within one surgical procedure of wearing one myself, so I am intensely curious about it.

My near miss was from the Army where I had the misfortune of taking the quick way down off a tank and into a ditch.  I broke both tibia and fibula and messed up my ankles pretty good.  The left was worse and they didn't know if they could set it so that it would heal.  To stop me from making it harder the docs put me under general anesthesia.  The jarring part of this was the, "we might not be able to fix it, and amputation is generally the best way to go with this kind of break if it's as bad as it seems at present.  Sign here to give us permission to do so."  Gulp!  I was also told that I would likely lose 50 to 70 percent use of my right ankle.

When I woke up I still had lefty.  And two new casts.

That was 21 years ago in September.

I did the physical therapy.  I have 85% use of my right foot and limp on that side.  The left healed perfectly and the docs were very pleased about that.

Healing up means I can walk unassisted.  The VA graciously gave up a 10% disability for it and some vocational rehabilitation education.  It's a service connected disability, so the VA is supposed to pay for it.  I avoid them if I can.  There's someone who needs it more than I do, I am sure.

HR 6240

This is a bill to get the State Department out of the business of blocking the return of US property that was loaned to foreign governments as military aid.

If this was made law, then the return of a large quantity of M1 Carbines and M1 Garands from Korea would be facilitated.  ODCMP should have these guns and, Gods willing the influx of these guns will drop the price of an M1 Carbine to something sane.

Call your representative.

25 October 2010

Well crafted rant


Open Carry Poll


79-21% in favor of open carry when I took it.

h/t Mr Morris.

Really? You're serious?

Part of paying my debt to society for my failure to yield to a pedestrian ticket was an optional 4 hour traffic safety class.

I took it online.  It had a lot more to do with speeding and drinking than the fine points of FS 316.130(7)(c).

Once you complete this course, you print out the certificate and take it in to the county clerk of the court.

In Florida, that means disarming in the parking lot and going through the metal detectors.

So I left the 1911 at home and put the P238 in the glove box when I got there.  I also left my two pocket knives in the cup holder.

Into the building!

They have metal detectors set up to make sure people don't bring in dangerous items.  Just like an airport.  I always have to suppress an urge to cry, "Nobody move!  I am taking this court house to Cuba!"

So I toss my everything in my pockets plus my belt and phone into the bin.

Where-upon the deputy running the x-ray says, "This is a P38."


"Where are you going?"

To give this piece of paper to the clerk.

"You don't have court?"

Nope, just going to the traffic window.

"You shouldn't have this here."


His partner grabs my tub of stuff and waves me through since my playing stupid was holding up the line.

This; is what was the problem was.

You're serious?  A teeny can opener?  I thought you deputies had guns.

Hell, whipping my belt around like a flail would do more damage faster than this thing, but you didn't even worry about the belt, did you?

This is just the capper of a ludicrous adventure in law enforcement.

The ticket is from the New Port Richey police putting a crosswalk in the middle of a block.  The day I went through there they had it staked out and were three cops writing tickets for the same thing.  It was a crosswalk trap.  The law is wonderfully vague about when you have to stop for a crosswalk that isn't at an intersection.  The law does state that it's illegal for a pedestrian to step out in front of a car that cannot reasonable stop in time.

The cop said that I'd "almost hit him".  Officer, he almost dived on the hood.  He was standing there and ran for the street when I approached the line.

If I "almost hit him" doesn't that mean he was in the wrong and not me?  Well, the fine for the ped is $15.  The fine for me is $164.  Revenue enhancement.

I would not be surprised to hear that the city had hired people to walk back and forth across that crosswalk to generate more tickets.  New Port Richey has a reputation for this sort of thing.

The problem is hiring a lawyer to fight it is almost double the cost of the ticket.  I talked to three lawyers about my case and none of them gave me the impression they'd be winning the case.

24 October 2010


Think about it the next time someone complains that the rich people get the lion’s share of a tax cut. Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ” Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

23 October 2010

Second guessing

While it's nice to get some feedback about the mistakes one makes, it would be thrilling to get some credit for what one did correctly.

Nobody is more critical of my performance than I am; self doubt hovers over me.

22 October 2010

Today's Meme

Today is October 22nd.

10/22, get it?

21 October 2010

Altercation at the Oldsmar Wal Mart

Last night I was confronted by several teens in a mini-van concerning my driving.

Seems that I came too close to the rear of their vehicle when they slammed on the brakes and suddenly swerved into the left turn lane.

Finger gestures were exchanged and I sped away.

They got back on the road and followed me to Wal Mart.


They didn't tail-gate me to the store.  They were far enough behind me that I had time to check my shopping list, get out of the car and close the door.  I had taken about two steps from closing the door when they pulled up behind my car, blocking it in.


Driver: "What's your problem!"
Me: "huh?"
(repeat six or seven times).
Driver: "Why'd you flip me off?"
Me: pointing at his front passenger, "She flipped me off."
Driver: "What are you going to do about it, huh?"
Me: "Wait for you to leave."
Driver: "What if I don't?"
Me: "Call the cops."
Driver: "What are they going to do, tough guy?"
Me: grabbing phone, "Let's find out."

They leave.  I waited near my car for a few minutes just to make sure they didn't come back to vandalize it.

All the time I am praying, over and over that none of them got out of the van.

I am sure I didn't want to shoot them and I am reasonably sure none of them wanted shot.

Unfortunately, the decision was in their hands.  Fortunately, they chose not to create a situation where I would have had to shoot.

I never threatened to shoot them.  I did not draw.  I did not warn them I was armed.

I was really more perplexed by their behavior than scared.

So if you see teens driving a dark green mini van with [something] #1 written on the back glass in or around Oldsmar, Florida, they're idiots, give them a wide berth.

20 October 2010


Ms Peterson has expressed that the background check required by the Brady Act has prevented some number of "criminals" from buying a gun.

John Lott Jr reminds me of false positives. ht Alphecca.

Well, Ms Peterson?  I was denied two years ago.

I am not a criminal.  I have never been accused of a felony, let alone arrested, tried or convicted.

I have passed two very stringent background checks to obtain my conceal carry permit and own a short barrel rifle.

Why was I denied in 2008?  A false positive.  Am I banned from owning guns because I was denied?  No. In fact I took possession of the guns I was denied on a few days later.  It was a system glitch.  It was a little unnerving, but I hear that it's not uncommon.

So those two guns are counted by you as preventing a sale to a prohibited person?  It's wrong on both counts, it didn't prevent the sale, only delayed it and a prohibited person was not involved.

This is why we mock you and your friends at Handgun Control Inc; or whatever you have changed the name to lately.

Racism, Slander and Libel.

One of the neat things about the American way of doing things is the truth is a positive defense against the charges of libel and slander.

For example: if you accuse someone of being a two-bit whore you can assert that they charge 25¢ for sex.  If it is true, you are not guilty.  If it is not true, it's slander or libel depending on if you said it or printed it.

I propose that we apply the same standard to the accusations of racism.  Or rather, to the statements or actions that have caused someone to be accused of racism.

If I am robbed by a black man, saying that my assailant was a male of negroid descent is not racist; it is descriptive.  Saying all black men are thieves, even if based on this single assault, is.

Saying that the vast majority of illegal immigrants to the US are Mexican is not racist.  It's the truth.  Saying so should not cause an accusation of racism.  I would like to point out that calling someone a racist for noticing that there sure are a lot of illegal aliens from Mexico is defamation.  Since I see this in the media a great deal, that makes it libel.

The press will attempt to say that they have every right to level these accusations of racism because of the 1st Amendment.  I will agree; they have the right to say that.  They also are responsible for what they say.  The 1st Amendment is not a license to commit libel or slander.

It all ties into the truth.  If the person you are accusing of racism is a racist then the truth is on your side and you can say it and print it all you want without fear.  But if they aren't; you are committing defamation of character and you are liable for your words.

It's high time we start confronting the accusations of racism with libel suits.

19 October 2010

Fun with changing times.

There's a famous chart showing all the brands of M4 clone compared to each other attempting to show how close to mil-spec the vendors are getting.

Just for fun, I figured out what the Colt AR-15 model R601 had in comparison to the chart.  Bold where it has the desirable feature.

No MPI bolt, No HPT bolt, No shot peening, No extractor spring insert, Improperly staked gas key, M16 bolt carrier, 4150 barrel steel, No MPI barrel, No HPT barrel, No chrome in the barrel, but the BCG is, 1:14 rifling, 5.56 chamber, No M4 feed ramps, Rifle FSB, Taper Pin FSB, Parked under FSB, single heat shield, 1.12 receiver extension, No castle nut at all, rifle buffer, 0.154" FCG pins. Fixed rear sights, what warranty, $32,000+ if you can find one.

18 October 2010

Quote of the Day

But the horror isn't that there are ignorant rubes in the Tea Party. The horror is that a lot of those "ignorant rubes" are less ignorant than either the newsies covering them or the political officials that they're protesting.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Oleg Volk

17 October 2010

Trying to figure it out.

I am attempting to figure out why the Larry Vickers video of him making fun of Arfcom bugs me so much.

He's telling the truth.  The place is full of assclowns.

I think it's tone and body language.

I was and am a geek.  I got bullied every single day from 5th grade to mid 10th and a short period of 11th.

It was the result of moving every two years.  I was "the other".  The established cliques don't welcome the other unless I was obviously already a member through sports or wealth.  I had neither.  My parents divorced right at the time when a boy should have been developing a membership in a mainstream peer group.  They did this just after a move away from the only place I had ever lived for my first nine years.  When we moved to my Mom's parent's home town, I had no friends at all.  I imploded.

I did not return to my happy extroverted self at all.  This worried mom to no end.

Shortly after starting fifth grade I got a lesson in being and outsider and bullies.  I was not part of any of the pecking orders, so I was fair game to all of them.  School stopped being a happy place to go and learn and became a hellish place that must be endured.  When I'd finally had enough and attacked one of my tormentors on the bus in 6th grade, I was punished at school and at home severely enough to not consider defending myself at all for at least four years.  My assault on my bully would have ended the torment, I know now, but my Mom moved us closer to her job.  Begin 7th grade and start the cycle all over again.

The constant torment was definitely having an effect on my mental well being.  So much so that my mom shipped me off to live with my dad for the beginning of 9th grade.  This was a disaster for me since I had just started making real friends again and the bullying was slacking off some (gaming geeks are kinda boring to make fun of).

Begin cycle again; except this time I was as much of a loner as I could get away with.  I had A friend.  I got beat up, I got spit on, I got made fun of for being different.  Dad could see something was wrong, but Dad is a jock so he didn't get what was wrong.  He did put me into karate, hoping that would help the confidence.  It should have, but the schools have policies about defending yourself; DON'T.  They punish the victim and perpetrator with equanimity.  Early on in 10th grade I snapped.  All I remember is my morning bully telling me of the beating I would be getting come afternoon and me asking him if he somehow got super powers after lunch and was too weak to take me then. DISCONTINUITY.  The bully is on the ground, I am on top of him trying to get my teeth on his throat, two teachers are barely succeeding in pulling me away.  All bullying stopped from that point on.  Yes, the school punished me, but there was enough school year left for me to see what happened.  Bullies only like easy prey.  Prey that fights back is not easy, it carries risk.  Bullies are basically cowards.

For 11th grade I moved back to Mom's where I at least had some friends.  The bullies attempted to pick up where they'd left off, but I now knew their measure.

What does all that have to do with Larry Vickers?  His tone and carriage are exactly like those bullies.  If you aren't seeing it in him, you weren't bullied more than every once and a while.  I see people like him and I think, "fuck! the only way this ends is to fight."  It colors everything he says from then on because I am waiting for him to start his attack.

Is this more my problem than Mr Vickers'?  Yes.  These are my emotional scars.  It means that he's a bad choice for a spokesman to sell me things.  It means he'd be a bad teacher for me.

What he should remember is that he chose to become a sheepdog instead of a wolf.  I am not a sheepdog.  I am not a wolf.  I am not a sheep.  Again, I don't belong.

16 October 2010

Why do they do this to themselves?

Larry Vickers, with his foot firmly in his mouth.

First, we have a drinking game, drink whenever he says "attention to detail" and "kit".

Second, while he's being offensive, I am not offended.  I don't repair laser printers.  I don't watch Spongebob Squarepants.  I don't think I am an assclown.

He's an acknowledged expert in his field.  He really does know what he's talking about.  What he needs to learn, which would not have come up in getting that experience, is a different way of saying it.  He's paraphrasing "We hate you; and you suck."  I wonder if he got that from helping H&K with the HK416?

A note to Daniel Defense.  Since I am not a member of the special forces or even a normal grunt, I do not need the quality products you are making.  To be perfectly honest, rails made for an Airsoft rifle would probably suit those needs.  I am not going, and pray to my numerous gods that I never go back, to combat.

OK, DD, we have NEED out of the way; let's talk about WANT.  You make an excellent product. While I may not ever need the edge that your quality provides, I want it.  Always nice to have even if you never need it.  Plus I enjoy owning fine craftsmanship.  To me, merely owning a well engineered, well designed, well made item is a reward in and of itself.  The utility of the item becomes secondary to the craftsmanship.

Why did you hire Larry Vickers to run his ass off at the mouth about the lowly beings beneath him?  What did he say in his opening remarks to make me WANT your product?  Clearly from his tone; only Larry Vickers is worthy of your fine product and that his opinion is the only valid one in the whole world.

If that's who you want to be associated with, fine.  What I will say is there are plenty of companies making components for my AR that are just as good as yours who don't hire people who hold me in contempt for failing to be them.  I do not want to be such a monumental asshat and I work hard to avoid it.

I have a personal policy concerning businesses that announce that they don't want or need my business in this manner.  I stop buying from them and start ignoring their work.  Colt, Ruger and H&K were charter members, welcome to the club, Daniel Defense.  Say hello to Dick Swann.

Edit: numerous grammar and style choices.

15 October 2010

Why not a pint?

When the government decided that 3 gallons was enough per flush and not the universal (at the time) 5 gallons; did you ever ask yourself why five gallons was universal?

Think hard.  A seller of commodes could have made a three gallon unit at any time since Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet and advertised, honestly, that it would save you money by using less water.

There are very few useful things that are wasteful just to be wasteful.  The flush toilet is no exception.  Through lengthy trial and error it was discovered that it took five gallons to reliably work.  They would have loved to use less water because it would have taken less time to cycle.

Ever notice you often have to flush a 3 gallon unit twice to make your offer to Spurculious successfully?  Isn't 2x3 more than 1x5?

Learn why things work!

Spinning .40 cal bullet on ice

Embedding is disabled, so you have to go to the video on Youtube itself.


More SEAL's in 1/35

I made a figure for each of the players in my initial session.  I had the figures done for about two years before I painted them.  Procrastination is enhanced when one doesn't wish to paint an intricate tiger-stripe pattern on a 2" tall man.

Pics!  My guy, left, has an XM177E2 "submachine gun" and a suppressed M-3 OSS.  Anglave's character, center, has an R607 carbine with an AN/PVS-2 STANO, a China Lake pump-action 40mm grenade launcher and a holstered S&W Model 15.  Geff's character has an H&R T223 rifle and a S&W Mk 22 Mod 0.


When I started this, I knew that Anglave's character had the Naval Warfare Center, China Lake pump-action grenade launcher.  At the time I was unaware that Dragon had included one in their "Vietnam War Infantry Weapons" kit.  So I kit bashed one together out of an M79 GL, M203 GL and an Ithaca 12ga.

It got damaged removing it from the figure, but I didn't do too bad considering that all I had to go on was this picture:

14 October 2010


There are some ads where Democrats are accusing Republicans from accepting campaign donations that originate from foreign sources.

It would appear that some organizations that have accepted foreign funds have indeed contributed to some politicians.  Under the campaign finance laws, this is perfectly legal as long as the donor keeps track of the foreign funds separately and has enough money from domestic sources to cover the donation.  The Democrats should not be throwing stones in this glass house, I think.

At any rate, this is an example of how our laws are messed up.  Two economic things are important here.  Opportunity cost and fungibility.

Money is fungible.  A dollar is a dollar.  What that means here is that every dollar I can't spend on donations is a dollar I have to spend elsewhere.  What we have here is I am allowed to spend foreign bucks on the rent, but not for campaign contributions.  OK.  This law means that I have somewhat less to spend on candidates, but doesn't really slow me down much.

This is the core of opportunity costs.  A dollar spent on the rent is a dollar I can't spend at the movies; and vice versa.

Organizations who accept foreign funds can use those funds to pay for non-campaign items, freeing up other monies for contributions.

It's kabuki!  There's no real differentiation between fungible items and by saying that pile is foreign and the other domestic you are not changing things one iota!

Plus there have to be a billion ways to change your filthy foreign lucre into pure domestic coin of the realm.  Do these laws encourage or discourage this?  If they encourage this kind of laundering, is it better to have an openly foreign contributor or a domestic contributor in name only?

These laws just don't make sense and aren't really keeping the money from getting to the politicians.

13 October 2010

A gaming note.

The H&R T223 pictured below was selected by the player to be a little different and because the rifle had 40 round magazines.  Extra capacity is a good thing and since the game was set before 30 round mags became available for the AR this was a sensible decision.

It's also a munchkin decision.

It's also the real reason.  A few of these were used by SEAL Team 2 in 1968 and the users cited the larger magazine capacity as their reason for choosing the T223 over an M16 despite the weight penalty.

Edited to add pictures to make what I was saying clearer.

H&R T223 on finished figure:

The making of an H&R T223 from an H&K G3A4, H&K MP5 and Walther Mkb.42(W):
First I needed a stock: which the MP5 provided.

Then I needed a rifle body.  The G3A4 is actually a tad too long and the handguard here is the later type instead of the more squared style that would be correct.  I am not talented enough to take 2.1mm off the length of the gun and change the contour of the handguard.  However, when you see it in person, the illusion is convincing.

Finally I needed a magazine: provided by a smashed up Maschinenkarabine that was in my parts bin.
Then I assembled.

Tax Stamps

I've made a short barrel rifle.  It's a clone of an XM177E2, a "submachine gun" based on the M16.  Mine's semi-auto (fuck you William J Hughes and fuck New Jersey for electing him) but it still needed to be registered with the BATFE.

Isn't she cute?  Her name is Sabrina.

What you get for your $200 is the original ATF Form 5320.1 (aka The Form 1) back with a little stamp attached to it.

You can see the stamp here, it's the little blue patch.  It's just like a lick and stick postage stamp!  I had not idea what it would be when I sent the forms in; I had it in my head that it was an ink stamp not a paper stamp.

I realized that I was already familiar with tax stamps.  The little sticker on my car's license plate is a tax stamp too!

The XM177E2 is just about my favorite AR variant.  It was not widely issued and it's time in combat was brief; but it was issued to the Cool Kids in Vietnam.

I'd known about "CAR-15's" for a long time.  I didn't know until I participated in the play test for Steve Jackson Games' "GURPS SEAL's in Vietnam" what the carbines were called.  In fact, I picked the XM177E2 partially because the character I made for the play test had one.

Yes, I am a geek.  A gamer geek.  A pen and paper role playing game geek.  I even made a 1/35 scale figure of my character... MR3 Wodaszak, SEAL Team 2, 8th Platoon (fictional).  Eventually I will get some lead foil and make a sling.

Also the XO of the platoon, Ensign Dietrich.  I am pretty proud of this shot.  A friend of mine taught me about cranking the F-Stop out to increase the depth of field which worked splendidly here.  Also I want to point out the hand crafted wire stock for the M-3 OSS and the H&R T223 I made from kit bashing parts from an H&K MP5, G3A4 and StG.44.  In the background you can see the rest of the squad waiting for paint.  Waiting for like three years since I tend to wait for my muse.

10 October 2010

How (some) guns work.

Gas operation seems to be a confusing topic for some people.  I am going to try to make it better.

There are several types.  Piston, annular, direct impingement and some others.  What distinguishes them?

First, lets talk about some terms.  The "stuff" made by the powder igniting when you fire the gun is called "gas"; this is what pushes the bullet out of the barrel.  In the way-back days gun designers like John Browning (but not just him) noticed that a lot of gas was being wasted and they wondered if it could be harnessed to work the action of the gun.  It could be, and they did.

The Bolt is what locks into the breech and keeps this from being a bomb when you pull the trigger.  A bolt carrier is the part that moves and unlocks the bolt from the breech and lets this be a repeating process.  This is called "working the action".

Lets start with the most common type:

Piston: A piston gas system is almost the simplest in concept.  There's a port drilled into the barrel, this lets gas pass into a tube (called a cylinder) where there's a piston.  This piston is driven back (just like the bullet is going forward) to move the bolt carrier.  Springs push everything back forward, lather rinse repeat.  This is what the famous AK uses.

Annular: This is actually a piston system, and is the second gas system developed.  here the piston tube surrounds the barrel, and so does the piston.  So we have three concentric circles.  An outer casing for the gas tube, the piston and then the barrel.  It works the same as a piston system, it's just harder to make and maintain.  The German G.41(M) and G.41(W) used this system.

Lever: The very first gas system!  Here the gas port vents the gas against a lever that then works the action through linkages and camming.  It's not very efficient and has parts moving around outside the gun.  The Colt Potato Digger is an excellent example (perhaps the only example).

Direct Impingement: Here's where some confusion arrises.  Direct impingement is where the gas is bled into a small tube and fed back to strike the face of the bolt carrier directly.  It's not a popular way of doing things since it makes a mess in the feed area and the gas hitting the bolt carrier tends to erode it.  The Ljungman Ag m/42 and MAS-49 employ direct impingement.

Stoner: This is often called direct impingement, but it's not.  It is its own thing.  Gas is passed through a tube, like in direct impingement, but instead of striking the bolt carrier, it is ported into an expansion chamber inside the bolt carrier.  The expanding gas pushes forward against the bolt (which has nowhere to go) forcing the bolt carrier to move to the rear.  In effect, the bolt is the piston and the bolt carrier is the cylinder.  The huge advantage this system has is all of the reciprocating forces are directly in line with the barrel.  This lets the recoil forces move straight back instead of trying to rotate slightly.

There are also variations on the theme.  Very early Garands used an expansion chamber forward of the muzzle to capture enough gas to operate the piston.  In some piston guns, the piston and bolt carrier are the same part or the piston is attached to the bolt carrier permanently.  It can be very confusing!

In the Garand the  bolt carrier and piston are one part (called an operating rod or op-rod).  What makes this a piston system and not direct impingement is the end of the op-rod is in a cylinder and there's no small tube running gas back to the carrier.  The M14 (and M1A) is based on the Garand but a small, separate, piston is added near the end of the op-rod.

The Mini-14 has a bolt carrier that looks a great deal like a Garand, but is actually a variation on direct impingement.  Instead of a tube carrying the gas to the carrier, the end of the carrier is up against the port.

I hope that cleared up some confusion.

08 October 2010


Since I now have at least 25% more Weer'd Beardly Goodness off LJ, welcome to everyone who clicked in from Jay's place.

07 October 2010

Full Circle?

This is a bit of a ramble.  It's my path to owning a 6.8x43mm SPC AR.

I have always been a fan of military style firearms, especially the Evil Black™ ones.

I have, occasionally, thought that 5.56x45mm NATO was inadequate; but mostly I think it's a decent round.

My first rifle was a Ruger Mini-14.  There's a lot to like about the Mini, it's simple and has a decent trigger.  It's light and handy in stock form, but I didn't leave it that way.  I added a folding stock and a combo flash-hider bayonet lug.  I made a 9.5 lb. rifle out of a 7.5 lb. rifle and ruined the balance in the mean time.  It looked cool though.  I added an Aimpoint 1000 and B-Square mount for another 3/4 pound too.

There were two big problems with the Mini.  The first, and largest, was the wandering zero.  The point of impact would move up to 5" at 50 yards between range sessions, it got tiresome.  The second problem was once the Assault Weapon Ban (AWB) hit good magazines for it dried up.

Before the AWB hit I dabbled in 7.62x51mm.  I had a Chinese M-14S for a while and as the ban loomed I built a British L1A1 from a parts kit.  Poor financial decisions on my part required me to sell the .308 guns (thankfully the AWB had made them worth more than I paid.)

The sale of the battle rifles had gotten me caught up on my bills and left enough left over to replace the Mini-14.  I was considering an AR-15 just because magazines were all over the place at the gun shows and still reasonably priced.  At this point one of the gun rags did a review of Korea's new assault rifle, the K2; nice but the AWB only allowed a few semi-auto versions in and they were more than I had.  A letter a couple of issues later pointed out that neutered versions without the bayonet lug and with a thumb-hole stock were being imported as the DR200.  So I borrowed my room-mate's credit card and ordered one from an ad in Shotgun News.  Two weeks later I picked up my gun from the local gun store.  As a bonus, I sold the Mini to a friend who was getting interested in firearms.

The DR was a nice rifle, much lighter than my Mini had ended up and while not as accurate because of the wide front sight, the zero stayed put between trips to the range.

What soured me on the DR was the importer failed to dot a tee or cross an eye or something and coupled with the executive order banning further importation there would be no parts support should something break.  It began to matter a lot less when the AWB expired in 2004.

Which got me thinking of AR's again after a friend of mine demonstrated how easy it was to make one from parts.  Much easier than an FAL!  And gobs cheaper than buying a complete rifle.

The AR has been a love/hate thing for me for a long time.  Thanks to the Army, I didn't understand how they really worked and how to properly clean one.  The ergonomics have always been "just right" for me.

So, I bought a parts kit and a lower receiver and some tools and built myself a 16" carbine.  I also used my tools to put together two rifle kits that friends had bought.  I love learning!  The very first thing I learned about my new AR was that the Army had never issued me proper cleaning materials.  Commercial solvents were much better than Break-Free CLP® at removing carbon.  The second thing I learned was really something I'd known all along, bearing surfaces should be lubricated.

The next thing I learned was how wonderfully modular the AR family is.  There were so many interesting configurations and patterns to choose from.  I made several.

Eventually, the looming specter of "5.56 inadequacy" showed up.  Since I was covered for the Zombie Apocalypse with several guns that used standard 5.56, I felt I could afford to make one in a non-standard caliber.  My choices at the time were 6.5 Grendel, 6.8x43mm SPC, 7.62x39mm and .300 Whisper.

7.62x39mm was my initial choice.  It appeared to offer stopping power advantages over 5.56 and the lack of range seemed to not matter since any place where it would matter it would be illegal to take the shot.  The main problem with it in an AR is the magazines.  The round wants a constant curve that doesn't fit into the straight magazine well the AR is designed with.

.300 Whisper became my favorite when I found loadings that emulated 7.62x39.  It was handy in that the only part that was different from a normal AR was the barrel.  Unlike all the other alternate calibers it used the 5.56 bolt and magazine.  .300 Whisper is proprietary, but identical to .300-221 or .300 Fireball.  The real problems were finding a barrel without an excessive wait and there's no factory loaded ammo.  I am not ready to trust myself reloading yet.

6.5 Grendel should have won.  It's a pretty impressive long range round that still fits in a standard AR's magazine envelope.  Three huge problems asserted themselves rather quickly while I was doing research.  First was the long wait times.  Second was Bill Alexander (owner of the proprietary round) making an ass of himself.  Third was the 6.5 fan club, they simply omit any data that undermines their predetermined conclusion; drowning out the reasonable people who have valid reasons to share about why this round is excellent.  Reliable magazines are a problem from what I have read since the case is based on the severely tapered 7.62x39, but good ones are out there.

6.8x43mm SPC should not have won.  The specs that got me interested weren't the same specs that were achieved in the real world because the chamber dimensions were messed up in the SAAMI application and the ammunition sent to Afghanistan was not properly specced for how it would be treated.  Luckily for me, there was a dedicated fan base who worked hard to get the round to realize its potential.  What they had at the end was a round that fit in a standard AR envelop that hit harder than 5.56x45mm and farther than 7.62x39mm.

Dottie has been a sweetheart.


AAC has introduced a new take on the .300 Whisper; .300 AAC Blackout.  This will have all the advantages of .300 Whisper, but will have factory loaded ammo and short wait times for barrels.  Should I convert Kaylee or just get a spare upper in the new caliber?

06 October 2010

Limited Gubmint

I've read a couple places where people are saying we need a Constitutional Amendment to require a limited government.

No.  No we do not.  The constitution itself is such a limiting document.  The situation at hand is government ignoring the limits placed on it by it's constituting authority.  To be fair, the consent of the governed is at fault for letting it do so; but it doesn't change that our government has and is exceeding its authorized bounds.

In all seriousness, read the Constitution.  EDIT: What the US Constitution is is a limiting document; simply it's a listing of the powers that we the people are granting to the FEDERAL government.  No more, no less.  The ninth and tenth amendments are supposed to be reminders of that; the 14th changes to a degree what powers the states are still granted. END EDIT Seriously.  It's not that long at all, really.  It's striking how little there is to it.  There are two things to bear in mind about it, 1. it was not written for a contract lawyer to read and 2. it's meaning is the plain one, no penumbras are intended.  With that in mind, read it again.  Now, pick a government agency and try to figure out where in the constitution the authority to do what that agency does comes from.

An amendment to require the government to limit itself to the Constitutional bounds will be ignored, just as the Constitution itself has been.


Because there are no consequences to violating the Constitution!  They can ignore it with impunity and they know it!  The absolute worst thing that can happen to one of them is to be removed from office.  Law you've written is found to be unconstitutional, oh well, guess you need to rewrite it and see if it finds a loophole the Supreme Court will accept (cough gun free school zones cough).

What if we amended the constitution to say No Secret Votes in Congress and that laws found to be unconstitutional require the author and sponsor of the bill to be executed for treason.  All those voting for said bill (but not authoring it) are removed from office and may never receive funds from any government source again nor may they work as lobbyists.

A second amendment I would make here is to require the states to ratify Supreme Court appointments and that each state gets one mandatory cert per session.  This lets the people have more of a voice in the proceedings and keeps the court from simply ignoring an issue they don't want to talk about.

The third amendment I propose is repeal of the 17th amendment.  There was a reason the founders had two houses of congress and two different procedures for placing them.

The fourth amendment I'd go for is repeal of the 16th; but income tax bothers me far less if the federal government can be dragged back to it's proscribed limits.  It's not going to take a huge amount of revenue to pay for the small amount of services they're allowed to perform, really.

05 October 2010

The Marks of the Thunderhood.

And, oh, brothers and sisters, I ask you to look at him. Does he have the marks? Do you see them?

The tell-tale signs of recoil therapy.  This is from the tender ministrations of Rosie, but I get this from .22's as well.  I guess I just bruise easily.

Thanks to Roberta X for the term, "Thunderhood"!

04 October 2010

Dottie and Rosie Range Day!

I've had the barrel from Bison on Dottie for almost a year now, so it was about time to get her to the range.

Rosie has been languishing in the safe for even longer, I didn't even know if she worked correctly.

Great news!  Both are now zeroed and gave zero problems!

Dottie (bottom) is my AR in 6.8 SPC II (aka 6.8x43mm SPC).  Rosie (top) is a 1945 production Springfield M1 "Garand".

Rosie at 50 yards.

Rosie at 100 yards.  As you can tell from how much the group widened up, I need more practice at 100 yards.  Gimme time, I'll get there.

Dottie at 25m for zeroing.  I need a second trip to the range to move the zero out to 100 yards, a 25m zero gives about 10.5" high at 100 yards.  A 100 yard zero give about 2.5" low at 25 yards, but I ran out of time at the range.  The irons, which have a range adjustment are peachy with a 25m zero.  I've actually adjusted the Aimpoint down the requisite number of clicks for a 100 yard zero, I just need to confirm it.

The Garand speaks with authority at the indoor range.  I am happy I use ear-plugs and muffs.  Recoil was stout, a bit harsher than the FAL, but very manageable.  Not once did I hear a "ping" from the ejecting clip.  I love this gun!  I have wanted one since I can remember and regret not having any money when a friend of mine sold his (to a mutual friend who still has it).  I despaired when "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" came out since popular movies with prominently featured guns tend to dramatically increase the price for said guns.

03 October 2010

Not about safety at all...

All about the Benjamins!

I am not advocating running red lights in my opposition to red light cameras.

Heck, I would accept them as a fine idea if they were done properly. But they won't be and they never have been.

Study after study has shown the way to reduce the number of accidents at light controlled intersections is to make the yellow longer and give a brief pause before changing the cross traffic's light green. Absorb that for a second. Giving people a bit more time to get stopped and then giving some time for the intersection to clear of traffic before releasing the side traffic reduces the number of accidents more than any other factor.

But red light cameras are not about reducing the number of accidents.

Why do I say that?

I say that because every single article about them mentions revenue generated.

Studies again: They show, over and over, that when first implemented, there's a lot of tickets issued; then over time the number of violations drops to nearly zero. If this was about safety, we'd declare victory at this point. But these cameras always come with a company that processes the tickets and maintains the cameras. If there are no tickets issued, there's no money for the company and (depending on the contract) threaten to take their cameras and go home (with dire warnings about the chaos that will ensue should there be no robotic guardian watching the maniacal drivers) 
or they collect their fee without the ticket revenue stream to support the expenditures.

What does the municipality that installed the cameras do now?

They invariably 
shorten the yellow time! Creating a situation where it's more difficult to get stopped safely in time; on purpose to get more money.

Remember what I said about increasing the yellow being the single most effective means for increasing safety at a light controlled intersection? Some places have shortened the yellow so much that you cannot safely stop from the speed limit before entering the intersection.

"But you said the number of violations drops to nearly zero, doesn't that mean there are fewer accidents?"

No, that does not mean there are fewer accidents. That means there are fewer t-bones. What we trade them for is rear-endings. People don't want a ticket for running the light, so they slam on the brakes. With the shorter yellow, they know they don't have much time to get stopped. Think a 2,800 lb Civic can out brake a school bus? I know it can.

While we are talking about accidents... The recent articles on the topic stated that just over 50% of the accidents in Florida occur at light controlled intersections (they infer that it's because people are running red lights, but don't actually say it). Light controlled intersections are not 50% of the intersections, by a wide margin. I could make a statistical case that the lights are causing a disproportionate number of accidents.

If we are going to be honest about this, we also need to look at why people push that yellow and run the red. I've been conducting an experiment. I've been driving the speed limit, accelerating very moderately and stopping when the light turns yellow. At a few key intersections, if I catch the red I will have to stop at the next ten red lights. If my timing is good, and I catch that one light green, I catch the rest of them green along this route as well. Congratulations traffic planners! You have created an incentive to run that key light.

I have also noticed that if I take a detour and sit at one of the cross streets that I am staring at a clear intersection for the entire red light (30-90 seconds). When the glob of traffic that was stopped at the previous light arrives at the intersection, it turns red for them and green for me. Seems to me that the time to let the cross traffic out is during that huge gap.

Let us also add in another observation. People have figured out they are going to have to stop at the next light so they don't bother getting up to the speed limit; they lolly-gag along at 5-10 under. This can be very frustrating.

Now, lets correlate the frustration with the timing. I know that if I'd made that first light green I would not have to stop at the second one. This means there's a much faster than the posted limit speed that will allow me to get back in sequence with the lights and catch the rest of them green. If the traffic in front of me doesn't get up to the limit and pulls the rolling road-block routine, that just means that when I get clear air I have to go 
even faster to make that next light. Fast enough that there's no way I can stop for the red given the short yellow. Look! An accident!

If this was really about safety, they would have the lights timed so that the huge mass of cars didn't have to stop at every light. They yellow would be long enough so that someone obeying the speed limit has plenty of time to stop. But they don't because this isn't about safety at all, it's about money.
A good third to half the red lights in the greater Tampa area were put there in response to some gruesome accident. One in particular locally stands out.

Where the intersection of Old Highway 54 T's into FL-54. The original plan was to have old 54 dead end where the intersection is now. When they first opened the new section it was simply a stop sign. Then one night around 2am a mother and her two young children stopped at the sign, looked both ways, pulled out to turn left... and were killed when a drunk driving 110 mph broadsided her. So we have a light to keep drunks from driving a buck ten? In addition to the idiot drunk, that section of road was planned with the idea that there was not going to be an intersection there at all, the sight distances suck. The deceased likely never even saw him. The question that should have been asked is not, "why wasn't there a light there?" but "why was there an intersection there?" Guess why the plan was changed. Yup, 
MONEY! There were a few businesses along that short stretch were 54 used to dogleg. Those businesses lobbied hard to keep that section from becoming a dead end; they said it would hurt their business when people stopped driving past.

LEO Pricing

I'm interested in the SCAR 17S.  I think it will look great next to the FAL.  Prices are in the stratosphere at present, and I am pretty much broke, so I will have to wait a bit.

I am, however, watching prices.  One thing that stands out, over and over, is the people selling SCARs are selling to the law enforcement officers at cost.


There's 150 million plus gun owners and about 800 thousand cops of all kinds.  Every gun owner I know is not a cop and owns something evil and black.  Every cop I know is not a gun owner outside of their duty firearm.  The civilian market is almost two hundred times bigger than the LEO market.

I wonder if economics is really that hard, since I see so many people getting it wrong so often.

What benefit comes from selling to a cop at cost?

Hoping to get all his business?  He's likely not coming to you for ammo or accessories, which are either issued or sold to him through a specialty store.  You might get all of his future gun sales, but at what cost?

The SCAR 17S is a decent example to work with.  Dealer cost is rumored to be about $2,300.  Street price for us unwashed is about $2,800.  They just aren't selling at this price, I have seen quite a few posts indicating that people are waiting until the "new shiny" effect wears off and street prices drop to about $2,500.  That means that charging $2,800 is not selling a gun to most people.

Let's say that there are 200 people in the market for one.  On average 1 will be a cop in this size group; 199 will be everyday gun owners.  If 5% are willing to pay the premium price (which seems to be the correct percentage) to be early adopters that nets you a profit of $5,000.  Seems like a good amount, doesn't it?  What if you sold them at the market break price of $2,500?  Just $200 profit per gun now, but it adds up to $39,800.

You now have 199 people who remember that you sold them a gun for $300 less than "market" and if just 5% of them are shopping exclusively with you from now on, you have ten times the sales that Mr Cop would bring if your discount got him to do the same; but you're not making as much of a profit off him since you've decided that the smallest segment of your market gets a steep discount.

How much profit from that cop?  ZERO!  You sold to him at cost, you actually lost money because it cost you time to process the sale.  I'll say that again, you made no money at all selling to that cop, and likely did not generate enough good will to get him back into the store for anything else.  Why?  Because the LEO discount is so common you are not offering him something he can't get someplace else!  Which is precisely why you shouldn't offer such a discount, you don't make anything off of it, so sending him to the competition doesn't hurt you and has a slight negative effect on your competition.  WIN WIN!

What if you can only get 30 rifles from FN, and not 200?  First, it doesn't seem that demand is high enough to get people bidding against each other for the scarce number of rifles.  Our group of 200 still has 10 people willing to spend $2,800 for one, still netting $5,000 and we still have one cop buying at cost.  the other 19 rifles are sitting in their boxes unsold at a cost of $2,300 each for a sunk cost of $43,700, so you're down $38,700 so far.  There are 189 people out there waiting for the price to drop to $2,500 which covers your costs and makes a profit of 3,800 for a total of $8,800 once the dust settles.

But, let's look at this again...  We sell the early adopters their guns at full tare, sit on the stock for a while, reduce prices and sell the rest.  We made $8,800!  What if we'd priced it at $2,500 per gun from the git-go?  That would give us just $5,800!  Oh, we still made zero from that cop; but can you see what the gun shops are doing now?

I should point out there's also about 5% who will try to hold out for the $2,300 price, so if there were enough guns to sell, there'd be ten unsold guns waiting on the cheapskates; but if there are fewer guns than the market can sell, these people don't matter.

By the way, what we are seeing is a real world inelasticity in price where demand exceeds supply.

Two economic lessons in one post!

01 October 2010


Why is it that so many people I know who are completely dedicated to laissez faire economics so completely opposed to iPods and iTunes?

The iTunes/iPod is the market decided standard for music player, and by extension program for buying and ripping that music.  I thought you liked free markets?

It's because it's Apple, isn't it?