Saturday, November 29, 2014

Perhaps there will be a guest post.

I was about to post this as a responding comment here, but instead thought it better to separate it from something unrelated.

If this turns into something backchannel, I will keep it that way.  Or, perhaps there will be a guest post that captures the exchange with topical continuity.   Who knows?  It all depends on--of course--"Anonymous".  Who said the Election Day post:

Why don't you post on Facebook how we're all idiots rather than hiding your last word on a blog after you've exhausted the BS arguments on Facebook? It's crap that you repost the arguments here with some BS "courtesy" of using our first initials here…and your final word...why, because you have the need to whine about it in a place you have a very few followers, who are yes-men/women, and will "like' the crap rather than deal with those, who think you're full of yourself and your BS?

Which, I admit, just made me furious.  (On the other hand, it's also kinda funny...calling my paltry but loveable "Commentariat"...sycophants.)  And so here's the comment-that-became-a-post:

Well, "Anon", if you want to stand up and claim your part in one or more actual conversations, you feel free to do that.  You might also want to direct your comment to a more appropriate post--perhaps you noticed that this post makes no mention whatever of Facebook.

Now...if you really are one of the principals in one of my Facebook-related posts here, you have doubtless noticed that I no longer post "[my] last word" anywhere on my own Facebook stream;  the last evidence of any kind I see is from January, and prior to that April of 2013.

On the other hand, the principals that have "inspired" most of the FB-related posts here seem to offer, on their own streams, a steady diet of uncritically regurgitated talking points that ultimately go back to a small universe of transparently biased sources.  I ignore 95% or more of these, but every now and then my baser impulses override my self-discipline, and I momentarily forget that nothing in all the fecal flingery (which is, to be clear, usually from the linked source, moreso than from the principal--who is nearly invariably an otherwise marvelous person) is anything about wanting an actual two-way conversation.  And so I will make an isolated appearance on another's stream, calling out "BS", with as much support as is required for the exchange.  And every time, I ask questions and/or make points that go unanswered--even if the overshouting and retreat to the original talking points continue.

As well, "Anon", if you're actually privy to the history, and even dimly honest about it, you will note that I do not call the whole crowd "idiots";  in fact I do my best to avoid dehumanizing people because I view that as a great deal of the problem in the first place.  (That observation is usually written right into my first comment.)  Do not conflate--or project--my attacking of poisonous, dehumanizing thinking with an attack on the people that are taken in by it.  Jeez, I make no secret of the fact that I myself was taken by much such thinking for nearly thirty years of my life, and while I may pull no punches when calling BS on items that represent real threats to everyone (a sad lot of those, these days), I always have time for someone who actually does want to engage in dialogue.

Given that latter observation, I suppose I really should stop my few remaining attempts to engage.  Based on the nearly invariable response I get, I must conclude that nobody is interested.

As to Rifleman Savant, that's an outlet for me.  I've made no attempt to increase readership over the few people who either know about it or wander by, but nothing here is "hid[den]", either. 

You necessarily assume and/or project much, to arrive at your definition of "crap".  Foremost among that:  based just on the offensive Facebook exchanges that are catalogued at this blog, to say nothing of the other 95%+ that get no attention from me at all, the idea of attacking me for operating in some sort of echo chamber is...pretty damn hilarious.

You pursue me here, post from anonymity, and beat your chest over "[my] BS"?  Very well then, bring it.  Stand up with a name, and call me on "my BS".  Do here what you would not do on Facebook, and answer my core questions.

You insinuate somehow that I argue from ignorance?  Oh, I'll take that bet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

They're so cute when they puff themselves up like that.

My wife (who has a bit of training in genetics and classification) has confirmed for me that in the realm of scientific classification, the difference between a subspecies and a cultivar is principally that a subspecies might occur naturally, while a cultivar is essentially designed and created for a purpose.

In that regard, meet the hominid cultivar Gerald Ensley, who might well deserve the appellation homo narcissus invertebratus.  Or maybe homo sanctimonious hoplophobus, or even homo recto-cranio-invertatus.  There would seem to be many possibles, but regardless it would appear that sapiens he is distinctly not, warranting something a step beyond a simple "what color is the sky in your world?" or "please, please, make your unicorn shit the rainbows again, it's so cute when you do that".

See, ol' Gerald deigned to address Us The Unwashed in this fashion:

We're coming for your guns. And someday, we'll take them.

Thanks Gerald.  Seriously.  I mean, we already knew that and all, but thank you at least for being plain about it.  It gets tiresome to watch others who try to hide the obvious with sophistry and semantics, even when it doesn't fool anyone, and it is always both refreshing and invigorating to speak plainly.  Even if you do broadcast a near absolute lack of understanding of the people you would subjugate with the guns of the state, and how things actually work outside of your Hive-approved echo chamber.

Perhaps you'll even try some day.  ( won't, of course.  You fancy that you have...people to do that work for you.)  Then, once and for all, we will find out if you are right...or not.

Just remember that whatever happens, you own it, Gerald, because you insisted on it.

NOTE:  Article comments, when I first looked, were running about 95% "Molon Labe" and 5% "Moar! Defenselessness! Now!".   Curiously, there were 850 comments when I first looked, and now it's down to 805.  Also, the article has been quietly updated to correct at least one embarrassing error, while he was frothing on about Newtown, N.J. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vanderboegh behind enemy lines. Godspeed, Mike.

The man is dedicated to his mission, and although I truly don't know if I think it's the best play, he fully deserves the Big Brass Balls moniker for doing it--at considerable personal risk.

Since the firearm and magazine registration act went into effect on 1 January 2014, state authorities have elected not to enforce the law when faced with a non-compliance rate as high as 85%. since then, Connecticut firearm owners who refuse to obey a law that they believe is tyrannical and unconstitutional have been waiting for the other jackboot to drop.

It hasn't dropped because Governor Dannel Malloy very cynically wanted a second term. Now that he has it, the raids that his "Gun Czar" Mike Lawlor promised Ron Pinciaro and other firearm confiscationists can begin.

Mr. Vanderboegh is here to show solidarity with the Connecticut resistance and to urge them to stand fast in their promise of "We Will NOT Comply!" Armed civil disobedience, Mr. Vanderboegh believes, is the only course left open by the Governor's insistence upon enforcing a law that the Supreme Court has not yet ruled as constitutional.

Boy, do I wish him well.  The country needs people like him right now, and I continue to be amazed at his sincerity.  May he achieve the effect he is after--because all of the other alternative outcomes are far worse.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dude, more squee.

Wasn't expecting this so soon, but today a gift from my folks arrived, a Caldwell "Ballistic Precision" chronograph

Well then, excellent!  With a little luck I'll both get zeroed and be able to do a preliminary test on both chrono and TalonP, this weekend.

UPDATE:  Grr.   I couldn't get anything at all to record today;  the unit kept failing consistently on the stop screen.  I may have to do an exchange.

UPDATE 2 (12/1):  Well, credit Battenfeld Technologies for a positive customer service experience.  It seems that I may have acquired an earlier edition of this model, wherein this problem is not unknown.  A later-edition replacement has been promised as soon as they can get it out the door.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Squee. Assembly and first shots.

Boy, I have so much learning to do.  :-)

The AirForce TalonP arrived a couple days ago, along with the Leapers "scout scope" for sighting and the Hill pump to fill the tank.  Today, I got to put it all together and take the first shots.

I'd say "awesome", but that would shortchange the experience considerably.

So much of this is new to me that it will take a number of posts to cover it all, but I do intend to get around to it.  Here, I'll offer a simple pic or two and a short list of initial observations.  (And my next step is to tap the community of AirForce owners at Tom Gaylord's commentariat, for several no-longer-so-abstract questions.)

This is what I have now.  Stipulating that it is not yet tested, it matches the concept I had in mind nearly perfectly.

Click to behold the glorious embiggenationment of a totally quickie photo.

Really, all the elements except a viable Ching Sling are in place, and if this thing proves to shoot as configured, I'm going to be pretty stoked.

A few of the details of the other side (note the power adjustment wheel midway down the barrel housing, and the onboard pressure gauge at far right).

I was actually expecting that the scope just wouldn't clear the frame bridge, requiring me to get taller rings, but instead it just did.  Awesome.

Okay, so here's what I need to know next:
  • What is the proper way to think about zeroing this airgun?
  • How difficult should it be to rotate the power wheel?  (It seems really stiff.)
  • Can the gun be dry-fired without the tank attached?
  • What is the "lowest low" one can run the tank down to safely?
  • What's the preferred way to store the gun?  This is more of a conundrum than you'd think, since if the action is closed and the power source (the air tank) is on the gun, it's kinda like storing a half-loaded gun (missing only the pellet);  and if the action is open, there's always the possibility of grit getting where it shouldn't.
  • How might one go about getting a middle stud for a Ching Sling?
Here are a few observations in general:
  • I do think this is going to be what I wanted it to be.  Sweet!
  • There are so many details to this system that are new, to learn.  Sweet!
  • There are several things that I now understand much better from having now held things in my hands.  Proportions and dimensions especially, but also more subtle things like the distinct advantages of the (two) different styles of onboard tank.
  • I intend to try two different sighting systems, as I learn about the gun.  One is this Leapers glass, representing the potential ideal, and the other is a small, nonmagnifying dot sight, representing the potential for maximum compactness.  (I may even try a Leupold scout scope on it some day;  at one-third the weight of the Leapers glass, it may prove to be the right "in-between" option.)
  • This, I think, is going to be how I really learn about sight offset.  Very well!
Here are a few about the gun:
  • The power is obvious.  Steel rimfire spinners...spin.  No, it's not a .22LR, but I doubt I'll need to quibble about pellet weight for any of the game I'm thinking of pursuing up here.
  • I now understand a lot better how this gun can be thought of as loud, for an airgun, while its stable-mate in the AirForce lineup, the EscapeSS, can show very nearly the same peak SPL on a simple meter, but be considered far quieter.  The shape of the sound signature seems to explain that, to my ears.  But...even though it is considerably louder than my Bronco, this is not a sound that is going to scare my girls, and that is important to me.
  • The carbine-ness of it is right on.  Total length is 26" on the nose, with a 12" length of pull, and both sight height and cheek weld on the tank is comfortable.  The balance is definitely forward, with that giant glass, but it seems to mount easily enough.
  • Trigger seems to be very workable, at least initially.  The (Garand-style) safety is smooth.
  • I now understand the value of a valve protector.
  • This is a very clever design;  unconventional looking perhaps but well-thought-out.
Here are a few about the scope:
  • Holy crap-tons, Batman, this thing is large and heavy!
  • Truly impressive light gathering and optical quality.
  • Build quality seems pretty solid.
  • The illuminated reticle gizmo may actually be useful, and "fails over" to plain black. 
  • I look forward to learning the mil-dot system, at least for my airgunning.
Here are a few about the pump:
  • I suspect I'm going to be happy I ponied up for the Hill unit (there are other hand pumps that are cheaper, but everyone seems to suggest that the Hill is truly that much better a pump).
  • There are lots of little things that I'm learning about dealing with high-pressure air in a small tank.  For just one example, I've already noticed the gauge on the pump and the gauge on the AirForce tank being out of sync (and you're supposed to trust your pump, first!).
  • Refilling in the field is a great idea, but must take into account that pump is heavy!  I may choose to acquire a spare tank or two for field work--they would be much more portable.
  • It seems pretty clear that safety procedure for high-pressure air is worth investigating further.  Very well, here I go!

Yeah, that's "brief" for me.  There will be more later, when the new chronograph (many thanks to my parents for that) arrives and I get to do some meaningful performance testing, and of course for the zeroing operation.  Perhaps this weekend...  :-)


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

...there was a battered spouse.  Let's call her Libby.  She'd been with Sam for what seemed like forever, and yet no matter how she tried to work with him, the control, and the threats, and the abuse only and ever got worse.  She agonized perpetually over how to make it better.

Yes, Libby had a problem, and she knew it.  And her problem was Ana, who kept suggesting that she simply leave Sam and go on her own.  That she try something--different.

But Sam understood Libby's problem too, and he had the perfect solution.  Every two years, to prove that he was fully committed to making it work on with Libby, he remarried her, in a great big ceremony that always promised her just enough hope to make it through the holiday season.

And thus it was.   Sam kept Libby in her place.  Libby never had to worry about life on her own.  And the biennial renewal really did bring them together--at least in their hatred for Ana.

Ana.  That little corner of Libby's mind that just wouldn't go away.  But it could be...managed.


The End.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gear squee: the hunting airgun is ordered.

One of the things I simply must appreciate about airgunnery is that so much of The Stoopid that attends all things firearm is notably absent.  You can order, online from a site like Pyramyd Air, your favorite short-barrelled, folding-stock, sound-suppressed, full-auto rifle or pistol, with as much tactical plumbing as you care to hang off of it and ammunition by the five-thousand, and they'll ship it all to your door, for nothing more than a credit card number, with a smile and a thank you.

A lot of that gonzo stuff I've got little or no interest in, but that's just damn near civilized.

But there is a lot more in the realm of airgunnery than just things that bring out the tax-stamp crowd in the firearm world, and I now have the order in for my first general-purpose and hunting airgun.  For more than two years now I have followed airgun ace Tom Gaylord's outstanding blog, and my first two steps into the air-powered world (the Air Venturi Bronco .177 breakbarrel rifle and the Airsoft 1911 'green-gas' powered pistol), selected largely on analysis fuelled by Gaylord and his "commentariat", have been huge successes.  I've got a lot more planned with what I've learned, but between the economic realities of life in Alaska and spending so much time (absolutely by choice!) with the girls, I tend to do a whole lot of planning before the spending, to make sure that when the time comes, it's done wisely.  And so there is...rather a lot of mental energy behind this order.

I wanted short, light, and more than enough power for the local spruce grouse and snowshoe hares that are the intended quarry for hunting.  Firearm folks have a (very) general rule of thumb for establishing "enough" power for hunting big game, whereby a cartridge that develops 1000 foot-pounds of kinetic energy is considered adequate for taking deer-sized game, and 2000 fpe is considered adequate for elk, moose and bears.  (This oversimplifies, of course, but lots of people are aware of the measure and thus it is a helpful point in discussion.)  In a similar way, the airgun world considers a 12 foot-pound airgun to be adequate for squirrels, many birds, and cottontails, and a 20 fpe airgun to be adequate for larger woodchucks, raccoons, and critters of that size.  (There is a further world within airgunnery that uses larger bore sizes and larger projectiles to go after even bigger game, but that's a specialty and not the mainstream.  I may well get there, but first things first.)

There are actually a number of choices that would have fit the power bill, but most of those are the size of (large) firearm rifles, and as heavy, with lots of attributes that I don't like.  Ultimately, I narrowed it down to two candidates:  the Benjamin Marauder pistol, and the AirForce TalonP pistol.  The "P-rod", as the Marauder pistol is known, would have been a fine choice, with the advantages of being an 8-round repeater, internally sound-suppressed (we're talking under 100 dB peak, and most of its sound well below that level), more efficient in shots-per-fill, and somewhat less expensive to feed with .22-caliber diabolo pellets.  It develops 15 fpe, which is hot stuff for an airgun with just a 12" barrel, and is plenty accurate enough to put pellets of 14-28 grains into sub-1" groups at 25 yards.  It comes with both a plain pistol grip and a carbine buttstock attachment, which I would just use permanently.  That one is, absolutely, planned for the future, but for the first one, I went with the AirForce gun.

 Click to embiggenate.  (It's worth it.)

Like the P-rod, the TalonP is a "precharged pneumatic" airgun, and one of its selling points with me is that (again like the Benjamin) its air tank is small enough that it can be reasonably filled in the field by hand, with a hand pump that resembles a bike pump built for truly high-pressure air (2000-3000 psi).  It doesn't get nearly as many shots per fill as its larger-tanked AirForce siblings, but for hunting especially, the idea of 10-15 full power shots before a field-fill, instead of nearly 100 shots before requiring a scuba tank, doesn't bother me at all.   And, the large-tank AirForce rifles do not permit shortening their very long length of pull, which is an important thing for me.  (The basic AirForce gun design is very clever and modular;  one of the nifty points is that the air tank actually serves as the buttstock.)  The TalonP and the Escape rifle series (derived from the TalonP), though, use this smaller tank and then add an adjustable buttstock extension that allows you to set your length of pull from 14 all the way down to 10 inches.  Bingo!  I can set it at my preferred 12" or 12.5", or down even lower for when my kids are ready to start shooting airguns.

The basic frame design will remind firearm folks of an AR, in having an EBR aesthetic and considerable modularity.  AirForce advertises it as a shooting system, and they do have a point, with interchangeable barrels, tanks, and of course rail-mounted gizmos.  One of the design points I intend to take advantage of is an adapter that turns the standard 11mm airgun dovetail atop the barrel into a Picatinny/Weaver mounting surface, and elevates nearly to the level of the frame's top-bridge so that the whole thing is nearly a flattop surface.  If I've done my pencil work correctly, this is going to permit me to mount an actual scout scope out there in front, and I've been meaning to try out the new Leapers glass anyway, so if this works, I'm not just going to have my first hunting airgun, it's going to be a "scout-style" airgun. 

The AirForce design is a single-shot, with a bolt that you push forward to open and backward to close.  My biggest concern with that is how easy it will be to load individual pellets in the cold (snowshoe hares are hunted from August through March, and definitely through the winter), but other than that, the design seems like a proven winner.  I'm not worried about it conflicting with my firearm technique, since it's not a repeater, but on the other hand, with a Garand-style safety, forward glass, short LOP and reportedly excellent trigger on it, I do suspect I will be tempted to work snapshots. :-)   I don't know yet for sure, but I may even be able to fit a Ching Sling on it somehow, which would make it an awesome little field piece.

And then there is the power.  The TalonP is a .25 caliber gun, which is known to propel its 25-43 grain diabolo pills fast enough to achieve nearly fifty foot-pounds of energy.  (Consider that 9-pound "magnum" spring-piston rifles, usually about 45" long and requiring forty to fifty pounds of force to cock for each shot, generate less half that figure.)  Being unsuppressed, it's known to be louder than the P-rod (peak SPL is about 103 dB, and much of its sound signature is up near that peak), but it's still far quieter than any .22 Long Rifle*, and yet nearly half the power.  (The Escape rifle series, which is based on the TalonP's frame and tank, can generate nearly 100 foot pounds with a 24-inch .25 caliber barrel, and I could achieve basically that same performance by swapping out my 12" barrel for a 24".  Maybe someday, but for now at least I want the short:  the TalonP with LOP set at 12" is going to be about 26" long, where even the P-rod is going to go at least 30", and my "short" Steyr Scout .308 is starting to look enormous at 39".)

It's going to be overkill for snowshoe hares, for sure, and even moreso for spruce grouse--at least at close range.  But that much power also means I've got a lot more available range to work with, and the AirForce guns are renowned as tack-drivers.  What this all means is that I should be able to apply that power out to ranges that are very unusual for smallbore airguns, with the accuracy required to hit reduced-sized targets.  (Check out Tom Gaylord's series on the TalonP.)

I'm psyched about this project.  It's the product of a lot of cogitation and learning, and may well represent "starting at the top" for design and function, for what I wish to do with it.  I do have long-term plans to add a few others to the stable, including the aforementioned P-rod in carbine form (having a 15 fpe airgun, especially one renowned for being so quiet and an 8-round repeater to boot, will be a nice niche to fill), an AirForce EscapeSS in .22 caliber (for the ability to shoot the cheaper and more ubiquitous .22 caliber pellets at the 50fpe level with sound suppression), a Crosman 1322 iron-sight carbine for fun (and, its ~5fpe level is certainly adequate for birds and squirrels at close range), and a good .177 pistol for developing pistol accuracy (I'm currently leaning toward the CO2-powered replica of the S&W M&P 45, for that, but the jury's still out), but one must begin somewhere, and this seemed to be the right combination of desiderata to serve the most purposes.

Now, to wait.  Then, the squee.  And then, the T&E.  Finally, with a little luck, a day on snowshoes with the five-year-old, a hare or three within range, one good shot each, and the subsequent task of figuring out how to prepare the little beasties for the table.  :-)

* A .22LR out of a rifle generates around 140 dB, and adding a good suppressor reduces that to between 115 and 120 dB.  Even loud airguns are quieter than suppressed firearms, and some airguns, such as the P-rod's big brother the Marauder rifle, are known to be so quiet that the loudest sound you hear is the (muffled) thonk of the hammer knocking open the air valve.