Friday, March 28, 2014

Your Friday giggle.

Via the useful Gunmart Blog, this funny for gunnies:


Now anyone who has read me for a while (no snickering, you two) knows that I've got little personal use for full-auto fire, but since it seems to perturb the priggish out of all proportion to its actual utility, it's also easy to get behind and defend on principle alone. (Oh, and I'm sure it's all kinds of fun, too.)

Jeff Cooper used to say that he never understood the setting on some select-fire guns that provides for a three-round burst...but he might understand the desire for a two-shot burst.  Then again, with an understanding of how to ride the disconnector and just a little attention, effective "hammers" are certainly available to mortals on semi, without having to be Jerry Miculek.

Still...for anyone that has seen him run a revolver, you get that joke instantly, and for a reason.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Redneck action targets.

Tried a new idea for Airsoft targets today:  steel can lids suspended with baling wire.

An old paint can lid, two punches with a nail, a couple of twists of the wire:

A baked beans can top, done up the same way:

This strikes me as very workable.  They should be easily movable and weatherproof, should interchange easily as they get shot up (note the two minor dents in the second picture, a test pair from the green-gas 1911 from very close--maybe three yards), and should respond well to spraypaint when visibility or contrast is required.

They're inexpensive, obviously, but they solve some other problems as well.  Ricochet is much, much better than with heavy steel (e.g., steel spinners for .22 rimfire) or other fixed surfaces.  With the baling wire attached at two points, they actually seem to strike a nice balance between reactive feedback (the ping sound and movement) and not spinning so much that you can't put a pair on it at speed.  The wire loops should be friendly to tree-branch attachment, without being so heavy or tight that it would dig into the tree.  And of course there are all kinds of sizes for steel can lids.  (The paint can lid, actually, produces a most satisfying sound on being hit, and being larger can be used at greater distance with normal perspective, rather than being used at closer distance with reduced perspective.)

With a little more thought, I wonder if I could get even fancier with the concept.  Different-colored disks could be brought together for shoot/no shoot scenarios, or maybe I could fashion Airsoft Pepper Poppers (maybe by tin-snipping open the can itself, and using the whole thing) and learn how to calibrate them for a given power level.  I hadn't thought about this before now, but if ranges are kept Airsoft short, target resets for thing like falling Poppers may not be nearly so annoying.  :-)

Their big dependency, really, is that they presume that the BBs really are biodegradeable.  I'm still running my first test on that, but if these things really do break down reasonably well, this may be a great poor man's solution to fancy reactive targets. 

Next:  get in a few serious testing sessions, and see how they hold up.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I shoulda known better...

I was checking up on one of David Codrea's Examiner articles, of the "call-out-Master's-intrasquad-shenanigans" variety that he has become so deliciously good at over the last few years.  I confess, I love these articles, even though I think their primary value isn't in "improving" the system so much as simply showing people in lurid detail how hopelessly broken it is.  (Who knows, maybe that's David's point too.)  At any rate, it's always fun to laugh at the pernicious piddlewits when they can't even navigate their own morass without fudging everything.  A cheap thrill, perhaps, but nonetheless real.

This particular article was about asking the perfectly reasonable question of just how this new fancy-pants Armatix pistol managed to get OK'd by the Bureau of Thou Shalt over in Respublika Kalifornia...without the microstamping requirement.  Huh.  Surely they didn't resort to...shenanigans in order to make it happen all legal-like...naw!

Anyway, in that article David thoughtfully links to the URL for the pistol's "features" (which don't include microstamping), and I figured I'd take a look.  So I did.

I shoulda known better.

Oh, it's not like I was expecting anything legitimate, or anything crazy like that.  Far from it.  But among the list of "features" (that nobody who actually trusts his life to a pistol would ever accept), this one actually stuck out at me:

an operating distance of up to 10 inches

Wait, am I getting this right?  The whole system is based on simple proximity to an RFID watch?  And here I thought the whole point behind this "smart gun" thing was to make the piece proprietary to the user...

But maybe I shouldn't lose faith.  After all, changing course in midstream is something this crowd is certainly known to do--and they do have to make sure that after they mandate this technology for everyone, that the next outrage becomes possible, timely, and above all enabling for the next round of Hobble Us All Some More, Please, Really We Like It.

Maybe they're not content to stop at regular people getting killed due to dead-battery failures, electrical malfunctions, or interference hacks, whether by freelance cretins or (far more likely) the enforcement apparatus (sporting weapons with no such limitations in them) which simply decides to shut everything off at a really bad time for the "legitimate" "owner".*

Nah, the next "loophole" will need to be something more...gruesome.  Hey, how about going back to the "murdered with your own gun" trope?  Let's say all batteries and electronics are working, and the po-po are too busy ventilating pets two doors down from the bogus address their paid CI gave them.  Home invaders with edged weapons swarm in and overwhelm the homeowner, who manages to get one of the attackers (with 6-7 rounds of .22) before being konked from behind by another.  Seriously irritated by the loss of one of their own, the unconscious homeowner's execution is simple:  place his watch-bearing hand over his eyes, and shoot him through it.

Bingo!  The final proof that gun owners will just shoot their eye out if they try to use the piece defensively, even with a state-of-the-art "smart gun".  That's it, we'll just have to get rid of them once and for all.  (The guns, I mean.  Of course it's the guns.)

Oh sure, laugh.  Laugh like you did lo those many years ago, when you first heard that those stupid Russkies and Germans had to--get this--show government tracking papers just to travel within their own borders.  And lived in constant fear of being spied on by their own government...and....

* Anyone wanna bet against the idea that this won't become a game for enforcement types?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quote of the day.

What would we do without William Norman Grigg?  The man is quite simply a treasure.

Only in a universe in which the rules of logic follow the contours of a Salvador Dali painting would that warrant be considered “reasonable,” if the objective had been to avoid unnecessary violence.

I have a love of language and the construction of a good mental image, and Grigg regularly qualifies for wizard status in this regard.  When I need to point someone to an example of how to describe the world as it is, rather than as viewed through the beer goggles that so much of society insists on wearing, I go to him.  He combines razor-edged ridicule and sarcasm with a straight-up delivery style (it'd be deadpan if it weren't quite so sizzling with scorn) that reminds me of what we were all taught a "reporter" (remember those?) is supposed to be like.

That is:  it's a regular story, only told straight, without all the bullshit, and with terms and comparisons that are, like, contextually accurate.  (And it's hard to describe how refreshing that is, to someone who doesn't already understand.)

The world is not just more tolerable with him in it.  It's better.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Score one for Facebook.

Oh, it's nothing institutionally flattering, what, do you think I've gone crazy or something?  :-)

Quite the contrary.

It's just that were it not for Facebook I might not have seen this.  So I'll give credit where credit is due.  (It happens so infrequently these days, that it's actually kinda fun sometimes, being the target market and all.)

I love it.  It's not just (gasp!) anarchy--hell, that gives nearly everyone the vapors already--but the word that even scares many tentative anarchists:  chaos.  You know, the singular operating principle of the entire freaking universe.  Well, except for us, who--work with me here--"know better".

"Nothing is under control"?  Eeeek!  What will we dooooo?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More on the Airsoft 1911.

So I have now had a few initial sessions with my new WE Airsoft "green gas" 1911 pistol, and wanted to document a bit. 

Let me say up front I am starting to get really, really excited about the possibilities here.  With this purchase I made an investment in an idea--that Airsoft might be a viable means of serious personal training--and I was both hopeful and cautious about what I might find in this experiment.  With a couple hundred rounds downrange now, I am starting to feel very much that the idea is sound and worth pursuing with vigor.

With that in mind...

Despite all my research (and I'm generally thorough about that), there were still a few surprises.  The most eye-rolling of these is that the pistol does not fit most of my leather.  You may notice that the slide at the muzzle is not scalloped forward of the dustcover, like it is on a regular Commander:

Well, great.  And guess who has high-quality holsters with impressive boning and fit?  Grumble...okay then, at least the old classic Yaqui Slide design doesn't care about such things.  But I'd hoped to be able to run the piece from several other designs, and now I'll have to re-assess that.  Okay, annoying, but ultimately pretty minor.

Another thing I wouldn't have expected is that the slide release does not cam down when the slide is pulled fully to the rear, like it does on the firearm.  This is actually a bigger deal than it might appear, as it negates the technique of attacking the slide to close the action after a slidelock reload:  effectively it forces you to use the slide release as a slide release.  (One might think "big deal" to that, but that technique has evolved to what it is because it engenders a consistent and uniform response to cycling the slide, not just on a 1911, but any auto pistol out there--whether or not it even has a slide release lever in the first place.  I haven't quite figured out how this is going to work yet.  (One thing I am hoping to get from Tom Gaylord's Airsoft "primer" series, is how 'smithing and modifications are done in the Airsoft world.  If they're easy, and if the metals are worth working on, I might take on some of these things myself.)

There are a few other things that I would want to improve, as well.  The ambi safety lever is nice, but it's not very positive (it's even come off, once, while in the holster, and while that may be as much because of the presence of the offside lever as because of its stiffness, that will nonetheless get your attention!), and I would prefer positive.  (Theoretically, a stronger spring in the plunger tube plus a well-executed detent could solve both the positive safety and the auto-cam-down-on-the-slide-stop-lever, at the same time.)  The front sight is not black, and can produce a muddled picture in some kinds of light.  (That, of course, should be an easy fix.)  I, of course, would also like to see a "slimline" version, and one that not only uses the Commander-length slide but also the "Officer's"-length frame, so that it would match the 1911 style I am most likely to carry.  And of course the orange tip is not only annoying, but can be a problem with closed-bottom holsters.

Magazines are excellent, although they seem to be ever-so-slightly larger than the firearm mags--just enough that their fit in my leather is either just-barely or just-barely-not.  They are weighted, and in fact seem like they are pretty similar to a magazine full of .45 ACP cartridges.  (I can't quite decide whether I'd want them this way, or whether I'd want it weighted to simulate an empty magazine instead.)

For those new to Airsoft and especially to the "gas blowback" guns, it is the magazine which holds the "powerplant":  via an adapter needle and a couple of drops of silicone oil, propane from a standard camping canister is forced into the base of the magazine (about four seconds seems to constitute a full charge, which has been giving me somewhere around thirty shots, or two full loads of the 15-shot magazine).  When the hammer falls, a striker knocks open the gas port on the rear of the magazine, releasing a charge of gas which both propels the BB out of the smoothbore barrel, and also provides the blowback that cycles the action and loads the next BB into the chamber.  It's a pretty slick system, actually.

The gun came with one magazine, and I ordered two additional ones.  Initially I thought one or both of these might have been defective, but when I took care to make sure the seals were nice and wet with silicone oil before charging, the leaking sounds stopped, and now the two spares seem to behave just about like the one that shipped with the gun.  I've now had several sessions wherein all three mags have been running 100%, even (especially) when left charged overnight.  I suspect I'll learn a number of quirks of this gas system, as I use it more and more.  The best part, of course, is that once you've got everything running smoothly, it really is the same manual of arms that you use to run the firearm (excepting that slide release behavior and of course the lighter springs), and that puts me in the position I want to be in.

So, with all that, what is shooting the piece like?  Pretty sweet, actually.  My last couple of sessions have seen me distinctly shift gears, away from focusing on simply ensuring that the piece functions, and more toward addressing the "what am I going to do with this?" question.  That is a Good Thing.

Today, for example, I got a short session, call it roughly 100 rounds, mostly consisting of singles and pairs, both from a ready position and presented from concealment.  This was almost entirely from about five yards' distance, against two .22 spinners (ram and chicken silhouettes), with their obvious auditory response to hits.  (As expected, ricochet was pretty impressive;  one of my projects will be trying to figure out the right way to do steel for Airsoft.)

It was, simply, valuable training time.  No, of course it's not the same recoil impulse as firing a .45, but the blowback is absolutely enough to disturb your sight picture, enough to make you work for your next shot--which is The Point Entire on multiple shots and/or multiple targets.  Even moreso than with a firearm, you can feel the piece cycling, and the sensation is authentic enough to be valuable.

The gun does have a slightly weird feel, in handling.  It's not "loose", specifically, but it doesn't feel nearly as solid as my .45, either.  Part of it, I'm sure, is the accumulation of the looser tolerances and lighter springs, but I think there's something more to it than just that, as well.  It doesn't at all feel like a plastic toy, but it does rattle a bit.  I'll keep on the lookout for this and if I figure out what it is, I'll document it here.

I treated today's session simply as though I were running my carry piece, and that practice worked well.  One item of interest:  at slidelock, my normal speed reload actually worked more often than not, despite the non-camming of the slide stop;  it may be that the violence with which I attack the slide simply drives the stop down in spite of itself.  Magazine changes are just like running a "real gun";  the only thing I notice is that the magazine release spring seems noticeably light on the Airsoft piece.  In practice, I didn't really notice the BB tower--which probably means I'm getting the correct angle for my changes.

Riding the disconnector is going to be possible, and that is one art I hope to get closer to again.  The trigger on this piece is actually very nice, and although the disconnect isn't quite as positive as it is on the better 1911s, you can feel it, and actually I will welcome the ability to train with a slightly subtler sensation than the one I'll have in hand on that horrible day I finally fail to avoid a fight.

All in all, I did okay, today.  Clearly I was feeling out a new system, but I was also wanting to see where my skills are, given that live-fire training is nearly impossible to afford in any quantity, and dry-fire training ends rather abruptly, for a single-action auto, at the drop of the hammer on the first shot.  This Airsoft experiment promises to change that balance dramatically.

And I think it's going to.  The sensation of triggering multiple shots, and engaging multiple targets, is indeed very much like live-fire;  even although the recoil impulse is "lighter" than with a centerfire cartridge, the gas blowback disturbs you enough to make you focus on the followup shot in just the same way--and if your grip technique is what it should be, performance should be highly interchangeable between the two formats.  So long as I resist any urge to hold the gun lightly just to game it to go faster, differences in recoil should be minimal.

And my word, the cost efficiency.  Five thousand rounds of (fancy, biodegradeable) ammunition costs $20;  today I spent less than 50 cents of that.  A single, full-price canister of camping propane costs about $5 and I've been using the same one for a half-dozen sessions so far.  Two drops of silicone oil every few magazines, and a little spray of the same on the gun innards every not-so-often, are my unit costs.  Anyone who shoots even a little live ammunition can see how the math is working out here--swimmingly.  Even a rimfire setup--for those who can find rimfire ammunition these days--can't compete with Airsoft for cost effectiveness.  Hell, just consider my 100-round day today:  I nearly made back the cost of the pistol itself, in comparison to .45ACP ammo.  Certainly I've already made back my whole initial investment, when I consider how many BBs have gone downrange in the last month.  Yes, more of this, please.

The most exciting promise, I think, is that this level of cost-savings will allow me really to try things out on their own merits, rather than have to compromise based on the amount of testing I could afford to apply to a given idea.  And the ability to run this system off my own porch, with three minutes' notice to go fetch the gun, gas and BBs, means I can reasonably test an idea out at any time, rather than only when the range jockeys decide they're going to be open. 

I was hoping that if the gun would really run, these sorts of things might be possible.  I'm still learning, for sure, but I think I can already see that it is very possible, and very attainable.

I'll document more here as I learn it!


The next step, provided this all continues down the same path, will be to try a CO2 gun;  I suspect that will either wind up being the Tanfoglio LTD Custom:

or possibly the SIG P226 "X-Five", which seems like it might be be closer to the P220 SAO than to a true P226:

Anyway, I'm curious about the CO2 powerplant because lots of experts tell me that CO2 is mostly useless below a certain temperature, which some would have you believe is as high as 70 degrees F.  Thing is, CO2 is apparently very popular up here, and nobody seems to note a serious performance problem despite the fact that it's a rare summer day that makes it up to 60, much less 70;  for most of the year, we're in the 40s or below.  So, I intends to gets me one of these CO2 jobbies and see just how it does.


Finally, I'll try to update soon, as well, on the spring pistol experiment, the Walther PPS.  That one is at once a different beast, and yet also potentially very valuable as a tool.

Happy range time!

Did I mention I love my Bronco?

Got just enough quality time today with the Air Venturi Bronco, with the new sight riser in place, to get downright excited about this here airgun adventure.  It may be fair to say that I actually started training with the rifle today--not precisely structured training yet, but it had the distinct feel of purpose, and accomplishment to go with it.

The goal today was to see where I am with snapshots.  Right now, using the front deck as a firing line, I've got two .22 steel spinners (chicken and ram silhouettes) at 10m, and a third (ram) at somewhere between 20 and 25 yards.  About with that third spinner is a hard-to-see (red, against the spruce trees in winter light) 4" self-sealing disk, and finally there are two more-visible disks, at about 25 yards (6" orange) and...somewhere between 30 and 40 yards (8" yellow).  If I move up and down the deck, I get a variety of looks at these targets, some of which are visible only in certain lanes, and there are even a couple of post rest options for practicing that most useful position.  The steels obviously make a "pink" sound when hit, and if you listen carefully there is a distinctive "thwap" when the self-sealing disks take a hit.  So, there's good feedback and no need for target resets.  The deck is a nice firing line, with only the limitation that I really have to stay standing up to get over the railing.  (For other field positions, I need to get down off the deck and onto the ground, which is easy enough.)

So, snaps.  And singles, of course, since this is a single-shot rifle.  I worked a variety of start positions, always with eyes off and the rifle somewhere other than shouldered, and often involving moving into the lane appropriate to the selected target.  Acquire, mount, sight, press.

It was outstanding.  With the sights improved, it really is just like mounting and firing singles from a firearm;  the Bronco's safety is ergonomic, the trigger just exactly what it needs to be, and there is even a tactile recoil impulse from the piston releasing to fire the shot.  This is just exactly the rifle I was hoping that it would be--and I haven't even got "serious" yet about seeing just how accurate I can be with it, either.  (I suspect that pursuing that goal will be worthwhile--that there is plenty of room in the system to satisfy the small-groups interest, as well as the "hit fast" interest.)

And I was even pleased with me, too.  I was hitting so well that I actually realized I needed to speed up--and did, too, until the balance started to tip the other way.  Without a shot timer I could only guess at what my times were, but right now I'm interested in solid fundamentals and smooth, consistent motions anyway, so a timer is of mostly academic value.  Suffice it to say that I ended the day faster than I started, and hits were just as fast as I could make them.  I'll take that and build from there.

And boy, I think that is what is so encouraging about this enterprise:  the ability to build, with real trigger time, on short notice and at low cost.  I was able to fit the session into well less than an hour, before dinner, right on the porch, with no noise or setup.  I'm sure I shot somewhere over 100 rounds from the rifle, and at a list price of $12 for a tin of 500 match-grade pellets...well!  (It can be better than that, too:  going forward, I will probably stick with the pellets that I now know the gun likes best, which are also match grade and can be had 1250 to a tin for $26.)

It was good time, too.  I don't think I'd have got anything more out of the session with a rimfire or a centerfire.  For basic fundamentals work on single shots, this is turning out to be a very encouraging idea!

There will be more of this.  Much more.  :-)