Tuesday, December 22, 2015


An unexpected twist in my current nightmare.

I can't unequivocally say that it makes me "happy", per se, to be in direct conversation with an Assistant US Attorney, for any reason whatever, but I'm now pretty sure that having done so in this case may well help my chances of getting my property back. 

As of this morning, according to the AUSA assigned to the case (and the staffer cc:d to modify the paperwork), my deadline for filing a Claim on my property is now being extended to January 30, specifically so that said AUSA can respond in detail to my inquiries about the process, and give me time to file with confidence.

Needless to say, I was not expecting that.

I'll not feel good, exactly, until I actually have '03 in hand and 1911 on belt, but I will admit this does constitute better, and right now I'll take that.

Perhaps it's also a useful reminder of what my lovely wife has often said:  that when institutions work at all, they usually do so because there are actual people there, trying to do what the institution is advertised to do--despite any amount of rules and incentives to the contrary.

Maybe--hopefully--that's what's happening here.  I should remember that, for starters, they're not after me in the first place--their "case" is against someone else.  (I may separately have strong suspicions about the morality or ethics of that case, but this does not seem the right hill for me to wage that on.)  It's possible that the AUSA, in this case, may actually view me as a party they are trying to serve.  As well, this seemed to me to be as good an opportunity as any for me to put my money where my mouth is, regarding approaching each individual politely and as an individual, regardless of what implications might be inferred by their job or associations.  I did that honorably here, with just the same sort of presentation I'd do for anyone, and the response thus far has been as accommodating as I could hope for, from a such a party in such a position.  (In that way, it has rather mirrored the direct-interface responses I've had from much of the officialdom I've had to navigate in the last year, given the as-yet-fruitless job hunting, wading through the healthcare morass, etc.:  most of the institutional people I've approached directly, have openly commented their appreciation for the way I approached them.)  So, maybe it's another good reminder that good manners still count for something, and might even be helpful.  Even with Leviathan's functionaries.

Now we'll see how (hopefully how, not if) the clarifications shape up, and what that may suggest about what is to come next.  Please keep fingers crossed;  I'll continue to post what I can on it as it comes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mockingjay, Part 2.

I do love my better half.  She basically engineered yesterday to allow me time to make it into town and see the second Mockingjay film.  (This is not nearly the trivial matter it may sound.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Man, is it a tiresome time.  We seem to be in one of those periods in which the perfectly inevitable disasters of the disarmament mindset are in crescendo, and the professional crisis exploitation crowd is in a feeding frenzy to match any in history.  Allusions to Solzhenitsyn and the Milton Mayer chorus just seem to write themselves out of daily events.  The level of dehumanization is reaching the point of inspiring genuine alarm among the historically literate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh, this. All kinds of this.

Via Claire, I just saw this essay, "What Anarchism Means To Me", over at Vin's place.  Just a tidbit therefrom:

Anarchism is my declaration of independence from corrupt and debauched systems which institutionalize the dominance and submission of the mind and conscience, pillaging the property of the peaceful and raping the human spirit. Authority is a form of privilege. There is one kind of wealth that one can only gain at the expense of another, and that is privilege; money may follow privilege, but it may only buy privilege when there exists a warehousing authority to assign it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What is it with people named Bob?

And so over at Mike's place there has been a bit of back-and-forth between MBV and this Bob Nicholson character, who originally penned this anti-NRA hitpiece.  Mike gave him one of his nearly-patented responses, and somewhat unusually, this time he got a reply back.  To which Mike volleyed, bringing us to today, with Nicholson attempting what might be called a "who, me?" tactic to dismiss and avoid.

Ol' Bob offers us all the smarmy confidences of the professional Astroturfer, with the added narcissism that comes from thinking you're the smartest guy in the room because you have a professional license.  He goes to lengths to make sure we know he's one of us--in just exactly the sort of loudly self-outing way that only the completely tone-deaf can manage--even as he repeatedly condescends to the simplistic projections of himself that he has somehow convinced himself that we are.

Sadly, you know the type.  They're coming out of the woodwork again.

Anyway, he must have been a little flustered as he concluded his most recent facile attempt to dismiss Mike, as his ability to spell started to crack a bit there at the end.  No matter.  He'd have to work a lot harder at bad mechanics to get me to look past the inherent chutzpah of his content here:

"I beleive that thothing I supported infringes on rights. You disagree. Fine we will leave it there."

Oh Bob, please do piss up a rope, willya?  We both know perfectly well that you won't "leave it there".  You toss that phrase out there like you expect others to believe you mean it, but you don't.  See, the one thing--the one, single, solitary, only thing that free people require, in the absence of having actually harmed someone, is to be left in peace, unmolested.  And that is the one thing that you absolutely will not do, no matter what sort of sophist drivel you may spout to the contrary.  You will continue to agitate for the forcible prior-restraint violation of untold masses of people who have not harmed anyone.  Violation that, whether you choose to admit it or not, will be carried out with all the fervor, sanctimony, abuse, and blowback of the functionally identical War On (Some) Drugs.  At the point of the government's guns.

The government's guns, Bob.  You know how you thought you were being so smart in trying to chide Mike for calling you a "collectivist"?  Well, it's hard to get more functionally collective than forcibly imposing your political will--in the form of total State control over the exchange of private property between individuals engaged in peaceful commerce--with government "gun cops" running naughty-and-nice list operations.

Yes, Bob, you're a collectivist.  (Sadly, most people are, so don't let it get you down too much--but you do need to own that.)

You also need--seriously--to let go of these delusions you have, that you understand either the people you claim yourself to be among, or the people whose stank you are pimping.  You don't.  You think you do, but you don't.  The former can see right through what David Codrea calls your "big but", and the latter, giving you benefit of the doubt by presuming you are earnest-and-merely-stupid rather than a willfully contributing Astroturfer for them, ...well, they are playing you and your desire to make nice like a cheap accordion.  Seriously, if you actually think that the NRA represents gunnies, or that resistance to gun control is somehow about the prurience of protecting a hobby, or that MBV is somehow agitating for conflict rather than trying to prevent it, or that anything that the disarmament crowd wants is in any way about protecting life, liberty, and property:  your ignorance is weapons-grade.

You may think you want to live in the world you ask for, Bob.  But you don't.  Maybe you think that you can violate people just a little bit, no harm done, and that's the end of the matter.  Especially if some of those people are vulgar and unwashed, or (even worse) uppity.  And it's something that you're okay with, so forcing it on others must be okay too--even if they've not harmed anyone.  (Yet.)

It's not like they'll ever come for you, after all.  You're a model citizen.  (No, seriously, you're exactly what the Establishment wants.)  You think all the right things.  You haven't harmed anyone (ahem), or even broken any laws.  You're safe.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Oh, okay, I get it now.

Had a "duh" moment, among all this discouraging mouth-frothery since the latest perfectly inevitable disaster in Paris.  Some well-meaning gunnie (I forget where, actually) was waxing agog about the disarmament crowd's latest attempts to hold up another "gun free zone" mass murder, as somehow evidence that what we need to correct the failure is to impose the same failed policy everywhere.  Pretty standard stuff, really, and of course a valid point.  Not arguing that.

But then it hit me.  Sure, governments always tend to want to disarm their populaces, on the general principle of monopolizing power.  But within the context of this newest Menckenian hobgoblin--the deliberate planting of action-not-words Jihadis in refugee populations (and the larger Rube Goldberg plan that ISXX may or may not have, to drive all Muslims worldwide "back" into their loving, caring arms by deliberately causing their worldwide persecution with all the butchery in their name)--there is actually a very specific risk that a protection racket needs to button up, to avoid being outed.

The risk of being shown up by the victims population served.

Of course we can't have the peasantry armed.  If they are,  then common plebes might just take it upon themselves to Indiana Jones the Jihadis on the spot.  On its own, this is old hat for gunnies, who have long noted how often the concept works for individuals on mean streets.  But that's small potatoes, just showing up the cops.  Regular people taking out policy-blowback Jihadis when they actually attack, though?  That's showing up militaries, and governments.  

Think of all the denied exploitation opportunities--the wasted crises!  Hell, if that happens regularly enough, their wars may (gasp!) never happen.  

And, even worse:  if people learn that they don't need their governments to put down an "international threat" that really, actually did come to their very doors--well, then the little people might just start asking dangerous questions that really matter.  

The State can tolerate much, among "its people", but it can never tolerate that.  People will die first.  As good old Maddie Albright said, "We think the price is worth it."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Another fun shop installment.

Worked a fun shop visit in to our business today, and wanted to document a few observations.

Mossberg MVP boltgun

This one wasn't the "scout" model that I still hope to meet some day, but it was the same turnbolt action on which the "scout" model is based, and I'm happy to have learned what I did.  As expected, extraction is (very small) sliding-plate and ejection is boltface plunger, so boo, but other than that, it was actually pretty nice.  Loading/ejection port access is actually not as restrictive as I would have guessed, even with the Weaver rail straddling the receiver rings.  Bolt operated smoothly, with a convenient bolt stop and friendly cocking effort.  The safety was ergonomic and pleasantly positive;  I'd prefer that it lock the bolt as well as prevent discharge, but that seems a minor point.  I'm not a fan of "open" rear sights on rifles, but this one was well-done, and hey, kudos that the rifle has them at all, in an age that seems to automatically presume conventionally mounted moonscopes. 

I'm happy to say that the trigger is no joke.  No, it's not a Savage Accu-Trigger, much less a Mannlicher Scout or Blaser R93 trigger, but it's good enough that you'll not need to improve it.  Presuming the rifle runs reliably and durably, it seems like a reasonable platform, and I look forward to seeing the "scout" trim, both the glassed and glassless models.

Mossberg 464 levergun

Now having met this piece in person, it seems to be just exactly what I figured it might be, and I think I may need to add one to my stable some day.  It feels just a hair long with the fancy flash hider, but it balances like a '94 levergun, which is always a win.  I'm happy to say that the fore-end is slimmer than I was fearing, and the rail segments seem to be integral with the fore-end composite.  Presumably they can be either replaced with a separate fore-end, or simply cut off, if like me you prefer keeping things as compact as possible.  (I might keep the bottom one for a sling attachment point, although it does seem rather grandiose for that simple purpose....)

The tang safety works, and is a welcome addition to a levergun which is to serve "serious social purposes" as well as traditional hunting ones.  (I could tolerate Condition Zero in an urban levergun if necessary, but would prefer Condition One if I could get it.  The tang safety makes that possible.)  The sights are excellent, but again as on the bolt, why bother with an "open" rear sight when the 464's receiver has a beautifully placed rearward ring in just the right place for a compact ghost-ring aperture?  I simply do not understand why anyone would prefer open sights to an aperture:  the latter is superior in every way that matters.  (And then, of course, the top of the fore-end could get its own rail space for forward mounting of "scout" glass or dot sights.)

The buttstock is exactly what it should be, and the quick adjustments are very nice to have.  An excellent feature for working with noobs, especially the smaller-statured.  Action seems smooth enough, and presuming it runs--it's a '94, and should work well.

The trigger...is rough.  Nearly painful, actually.  Consider all the bad press you've heard about levergun triggers before;  that's because of triggers like this one.  Okay, so it needs work. Theoretically, with a '94 action, gunsmiths should know how to do that--and the effort would be worth it.  With a crisp trigger in the 3-4 pound range, this seems a seriously useful rifle.  As a 6+1 in .30/30, it really is a full-blown rifle, limited mostly by the range limitations of iron sights, not horsepower.  I still think it would also be worth offering as an intentional carbine, chambered in .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, or even .357 Magnum, with a 9- or 10-round capacity.  Again, within the limitations of iron sights, these revolver rounds have surprising reach, and more thump than I'd have guessed.  And if we ever sort out The Great And Pointless Rimfire Shortage, there is the idea of this levergun as a 14-round .22...

Browning 1911-22 pistol

Wanted to check this fit in the 6yo's hand today.  Glad I did.  She can get a good grip, with thumb on safety and no H-gripping, and the pad of her trigger finger is within a quarter-inch of right on.  Essentially, she's ready, ergonomically.  She's also strong enough to rack the slide, properly.  Squee!

Great.  Now I just need to get the whole "earn a living" problem sorted out, and find some .22 ammo, and add this lovely little piece to the stable.  

Ruger LCP pistol

6yo very sweetly requested to see an LCP accoutered in pink camo, and an LC9 in solid purple.  Very well then!  She learned a little about ergonomics when she tried to rack the wee slide on the LCP, against the DAO hammer, but this gun fit her hand nicely if she consciously took a high grip.

The LCP seems okay.  .380 doesn't thrill me, but with the right ammo and the right attitude, I'd sure use one over throwing rocks.  It doesn't seem that much smaller, to me, than the Diamondback DB9, which I still see here and there, and I'd take the DB9 in a heartbeat for the pocket gun role.

Ruger LC9 pistol

I was a little less impressed with the LC9.  In 6yo's hand, trigger reach was much too far, and sizewise, the piece seems right in there with the Kimber Solo, DB9, Kahr, G43, etc., designs, all of which have better ergonomics.  Well, now I know!  :-)

Kimber Solo pistol

Dang if I don't continue to like this little pistol, even though I've heard some unflattering things about it here and there--that I haven't fully vetted one way or the other.  Trigger, at least on this sample, was really excellent, with a somewhat long but positive reset, and despite the diminutive size, controls and ergonomics are very nice.  Sights are excellent.  The manual safety design in particular seems outstanding, and perfectly intuitive to 1911 aficionados.  It seems to be right on the cusp between true "pocket pistol" (such as DB9, DB380, LCP, etc.) and "subcompact" (such as Kahrs, G43, S&W Shield, etc.) and with a lightweight frame, would become my instant first choice in a 9mm pistol.  (It's not exactly heavy, even with a steel frame, but its weight does exclude it from the sub-one-pound class.  Suffice it to say that if I were to choose a 9mm based on weight and size alone, it would be the DB9, and if I were to choose the best shooting subcompact--suitably small but still requiring a holster for support--I'd probably go to the Solo.)

Kimber Micro 380 pistol

This was unexpected.  Got to see Kimber's mini-1911 in .380 ACP;  more than anything it seems to be exactly the sort of update to the Colt Mustang that I always hoped for before the Browning 1911-22 and 1911-380 came along.  It's small.  It's 1911ish, but with pivoting trigger, slightly different safety lever, and the full-on Kimber treatment.  Looks promising in many ways, but again, .380 does not thrill me, and there is now the 1911-380, which may be the superior choice for most uses.  

Will keep an eye out, and look again as .380 options become more immediate for up-and-coming kids.  :-)

S&W Shield pistol

The "what mood will Shield be in today?" effect continues.  I continue to like the general ergonomics, and the price point is actually pretty compelling too.  But today, this one's trigger had horrible backlash and a mushy, very un-positive reset.  Hm.

Still, I like the piece in general.  The safety still works every time, despite its diminutive appearance.  Grip comfort is conspicuous.  It has a reputation for running without fuss.

S&W M&P pistol

I wanted to renew my acquaintance with a standard M&P pistol frame, mostly because I am intending to go this route with airguns.  (A separate topic for another post;  suffice it to say that I needed a core design among the polymer-framed, striker-fired, doublestack guns to go with, and the S&W is getting the nod based on several factors, including ubiquity of models across the spectrum of pellet guns, BB guns, and Airsoft guns of multiple powerplants.)

After a few minutes in the hands, I think it's the right choice.  The M&P frame is pretty comfortable, for a double-stack, and otherwise ergonomics are plenty good enough.  Trigger on this one was surprisingly good;  perhaps a bit heavier than ideal, but with a very nice, positive reset, and without the noticeable backlash problem of the Shield.  

I'll be posting more about M&Ps as the airgunnery experiment unfolds.  Given that I don't like doublestack designs as a rule--on simple account that they feel like two-by-fours in the hand--M&P is definitely one of the friendlier ones.

Springfield Armory XD-S pistol

Picked up one of these again, just to compare it on the same day with Shield.  Glad I did, too:  it confirmed that I really like this pistol.  Ergonomics suggest a much bigger gun, but XD-S is slim and compact.  This one's trigger was crisp (for a striker gun), reasonably light, and with a notably positive, short reset.  I still think that the XD-S "4.0" is the logical heir to the Colt Lightweight Commander, for the working man's general purpose pistol.  Now having seen probably a dozen examples each of XD-S and Shield, I think I'd always opt for XD-S first, for my own purposes.

Colt Commander CO2 BB pistol

Saw this in blister pack on the way out of the gun section.  I hadn't come to look at airguns today, but it caught my eye, and I'm considering this piece as a possible training/education tool anyway.  It's a reasonably faithful 1911 reproduction, powered by a CO2 12-gram cartridge contained in the detachable magazine (which also houses the BBs), and is developing a decent reputation for accuracy ("accuracy" being something you have to adjust your thinking to, with smoothbore round-ball shooters like 'BB guns' and Airsoft guns).  The gun does "blowback" on firing, which is good in a trainer to disrupt your sight picture, and in general the manual of arms is nearly straight 1911 firearm.  It's really only missing a ducktail grip safety among the most common updates, and with the minimal blowback of a CO2 BB pistol, I suspect it won't be the problem it is with a .45 ACP anyway.

So there it was, and I took a second to look at it.  It is indeed "full metal", as weighty as a steel 1911, with good sights, functional safety, and in general looks well-built.  I look forward to trying one out, especially with some of the new low-ricochet plated BBs that have become available.  

Until next time, then.  Much cogitation to do.  :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


I know I've said this before--please forgive the vent--but I just can't get over the sheer amount of derp in the manual safety design of the Benjamin Marauder*.  I keep thinking about the idea of building a "school set" of air rifles for students to learn on and train with, and the basic Marauder design (reliable boltie 10rd repeater, internally suppressed, adjustable power, hand-pump friendly PCP reservoir, topflight trigger, conspicuously accurate barrel) keeps coming up as being almost the obvious platform choice.  

But seriously...just look at this:

Yes, you can click to make it bigger, but why would you?

So...what you're saying is that in order to on-safe my loaded piece, I stick my finger inside the trigger guard and pull the lever to the rear.  

derp derp derp 

Look, I know I'm a pain in the ass about gun safety, and about gun safeties, and ergonomics in general...but at least there is a consistency to my own neuroses, and I'd like to think that a design like the above would have been laughed into oblivion before ever even coming up for serious approval, on the simple account of maybe, just maybe, the ergonomic action to make the loud noise and the ergonomic action to prevent the loud noise SHOULD NOT BE THE SAME.  But this damned thing actually made it out of committee and through legal!

The Garand safety is bad enough, but at least there you can say that the on-safe motion is outside the trigger guard.  This...I just don't know if I could ever see using it as a training tool--unless I just ignored the safety lever entirely as a...well, a safer option.  I still think that it wouldn't take too much effort to build a dogleg connector to a more ergonomic lever or button, and then the M-Rod would be nearly authentically there as a platform, lacking only iron sights, a short LOP, and if optics are important, a means of mounting an IER glass forward over the shroud.

Until then...well, I keep wondering how to turn a Benjamin Discovery into a repeater with sound suppression, or if it's possible to drop a Marauder pistol (which uses a simple trigger-blocking cross bolt safety...crude, but at least not idiotic) into a rifle stock.  

Grrr.  So close on the whole...and yet for training, so completely unusable.

* Not to pick on the M-Rod specifically;  the basic trigger group/safety design was around well before the Marauder was launched, and lots of airguns, especially spring-piston breakbarrels, use some variation of the damned thing.  (I suspect it is probably a very economical way to get a complete trigger/safety group into a stock with minimal cutting.)  I harp on the Marauder because it is such an otherwise outstanding piece of kit, that the derp hurts that much more.

At least say it out loud.

The indispensable David Codrea, here, vamps on yet another authoritarian nitwit's dutiful recitation of one of the classic facile sophistries of Ye Oulde Statist Playbook:  the Resistance Is Futile(TM) fiction.  To wit, according to the nitwit:

Assuming the military was part of the tyranny (which it would have to be for tyranny to have any meaning), any rebelling national band of “patriots” would be told something like, “you either lay down your arms or the entire city of Dallas, Texas will disappear. You have one hour. If you continue, the next city to disappear will be Atlanta, Georgia.”

As usual, David does a fine job at pointing out the obvious:  that anyone even dimly aware of human history can see that resistance is absolutely not futile;  that superior force of arms does not always translate into victory;  that tyranny's footsoldiers do not always run to stereotype;  etc.  There is no need to restate any of that.

What sticks out at me is that this "nuclear option" garbage, at least said out loud like this, seems to get trotted out in the early endgame, usually as a petulant reaction to the realization that the bloody peasants might actually mean it when they say no.  "Wait, you're just going to say no?  Well then, nukes!"

And that is but one setup to a classic exchange that we need to have so very much more of:

"I just can't believe you'd be willing to die over this."
"Well, not exactly willing.  But that's hardly the point.  The point is that you have made it abundantly clear that you are just fine with having me killed over this."

Well, at least they're saying it out loud, when they trot out "the nuclear option" like this.  The funny part is that I'm not even sure the state, itself, is stupid enough to nuke its own populace, for whatever reason.  Statists, however--QED above--may yet be even worse than the horror they support.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How cool is Marilyn Williams?

Pretty durn cool, from initial reports.  (H/T David Codrea)

The pair of alleged burglars then tried another house nearby, but little did they know that homeowner Marilyn Williams is a trained sharpshooter.

There's all kinds of irony in this story.  The one that jumps out to me at first is her (say it breathlessly, now) "sniper rifle":

Click you to embiggenate the awesome.

Hey, nice airgun!  That's a Benjamin Marauder, for which I myself lust in both rifle and "pistol" form.      It can certainly put its little pill into just the right spaces out to 75-100 yards, and I've no reason to doubt that this lady can perform up to her piece.  And her "M-Rod", presuming it begins with a suitable starting fill, has a 10-round magazine to work with.  Within its limitations, it would indeed be a viable choice for "sniping", for anyone who actually cares about the non-pejorative meaning of that word.

It would not have been pretty, though, if the thugs had come prepared for a fight.  Airguns are not "stoppers", and the powerful ones tend to be unwieldy--especially with the moon-scopes that airgunners love to put on the really accurate pieces.  As a "gunnie", I'd advise her toward all sorts of preferable alternatives in the firearm realm--revolvers, pistols, short leverguns and shotguns, etc.--but she may well already know about that.  I don't presume to know her story.

Fortunately, these seemed to be typical thugs, who wanted a score, not a fight, and Ms. Williams waged and won her fight purely with her attitude.  For that alone she earns my respect, to the point that I will make sure my girls are aware of what she did and how she did it.  (Is she a "freedom person"?  Who knows?  I don't need to know.  She doesn't have to be, to do what she did, which stands by itself.)

And I like the way she carries herself on camera.  David's comment was "Not Cooperating with the Narrative", which (as usual for him) is right on.

The ironies only get thicker from this point.

Take a moment to watch the video under that breathless headline "Female sharpshooter scares off crooks with sniper rifle".  (That is a separate H/T to David, as well.)

Now how does that title go with that content?  It is a wonderment, isn't it?  The title screams PSH, but the content is pretty golden, and even the talking heads (I know nothing else about "Fox & Friends") are pretty transparently into Ms. Williams.

After seeing that, I want to talk to her even more.  She just has to know the difference between an airgun and a firearm, and yet she parades that M-Rod all over the camera without saying a word about it.  She's never even asked about it, which is like division-by-zero in this tiresome age of "always-indict-the-hardware".  It's almost as though it's the way things should be, in a sane world--and I have this niggling feeling that she may be perfectly aware of the ironies, and may simply be enjoying them.

Oh sure, perhaps I am being overly generous.  Again, I don't know her full story.  But I can see what she did, and in my book at least, that's earned her a cut above impartiality.

Not a trivial cut above, either.  Remember, she won her fight with her attitude, which more than made up for her sub-optimal hardware.  (Really, if her comments during the video are accurate, she didn't really "need" that rifle at all.)  I'll take that over any number of "gunnies" out there, who may have vastly superior hardware, but not an inkling of attitude to go with it.

Pay attention, girls.  This is what empowerment looks like.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fun shop research.

Got a few minutes today to stop in at a local fun shop;  a few items seemed worth recording here.

Benjamin P-Rod airgun.

I had remembered that this place had carried a P-Rod before;  since this "pistol" uses the same bolt mechanism as the M-Rod rifle I've been considering for the Scout-Rod concept, I thought I'd put it to shoulder with that in mind. 

Yeah, that bolt throw is really short.  I was hoping it wouldn't feel that much so, but it does.  That's just not going to be an honorable trainer for a real turnbolt centerfire.  I suspect there's still a lot of value in the "Scout airgun" concept, but I may want/need to modify my thinking a bit on it.  Boltwork is important.  (Maybe when--if--my financial ship comes in and I can fully go at a new custom project, I'll try to convince someone like Tom Gaylord, or a Dennis Quackenbush, or some other innovator in the airgun space, to work with me on a concept piece.  I still think that some sort of slow-indexing cam is a worthwhile pursuit, to get a faithful bolt function.)

Conceivably the not-fully-optimized airgun could be thought of more as an adjunct piece to a carefully plan, that includes both live- and dry-fire of the centerfire Scout, live-fire airgun focused on singles, and/or live-fire rimfire.  After all, so much useful work can be done dry, with a manual repeater, and of course that would be the very bolt to practice on...  okay, set cogitate mode on.

I do still want me a P-Rod, though.  The carbine length is nice, and with the right sighting arrangement it should be a nice workhorse.  Downside:  the dang stock is too long, and doesn't lend itself well to shortening;  there is an AR stock adapter available but believe it or not the shortest LOP is still too long.  (I suspect there's a good answer available, but haven't found it yet.)

Benjamin Discovery airgun.

This air rifle is what I think I'd go to, if asked to put together a "classroom set" of noob training guns.  Since they had one, I thought I'd look at it in that context.

Yeah, okay, I really am on to something here:  the Disco is impressive.  It looks heavier and bigger than it really is, and should prove most useful for working with the small-statured.  Stock is workable wood, which means shortening LOP and adding Ching sling studs will be simple.  It shoulders naturally, and in this age of insistence on carbine-style vertical pistol grips it actually feels like an honest-to-goodness rifle.  Safety is indeed acceptably located--would be better at front of trigger guard rather than rear, but it will do.  Rear sight seems plenty good for an open sight, but of course I'll discard that and put a ghost-ring on instead, and probably replace the front with a solid square post.

The bolt seems solid enough. but the action is not "positive".  As a reliable teaching rifle, it is probably perfect.  I'd love to see positive clicks and snaps, but that is really just preference talking.

I like the Disco more and more the more I learn about it.  It may not have the repeating mechanism or the sound-suppression of the Marauder, but its safety is vastly superior to its upscale brother, and it is both lighter and shorter besides.  It's quite possible that the route I will take may not to go to the Marauder at all, but rather to have a custom Disco with sound suppression.  Will think further.

Kel-Tec KSG shotgun.

Ah, the storied and famed KSG.  And now I've met one in person. 

It is indeed luxuriously short.  (Muzzle blast must be impressive to the shooter.)  Short enough that I admit I have, somewhat surprisingly, a visceral hesitation to it.  Sure, it's probably irrational, but I can't deny that it's there.  Sight radius will necessarily be limited.  The forward sling stud would necessarily be right there at the muzzle.  And I believe the horror stories about shot hands after shearing off vertical foregrips during chambering.  (I'm not a vertical-foregrip kinda guy in the first place, but still.  This is a pump shotgun, after all;  one works the action briskly, and the idea that your hand winds up right out there at the end of the stroke is somewhat sobering.  One might reasonably observe that the pistol is even shorter, but the pistol's chambering stroke is away from the muzzle, not toward it.)

And yet there is much to like about the piece.  It is, if nothing else, ingenious.  Controls seem reasonably sized, positive, and easy to reach.  14 rounds of 12-gauge in a package this compact is impressive to my "size efficiency" aesthetic.  It doesn't feel nearly as heavy as it really is. 

So, jury's still out.  But I'm glad it's here.

Glock G43 9mm.

I happened to notice one of the new Glock G43 single-stack 9mm pistols in the rack, and of course had to see that.  No, I've never been a Glock guy, but really, that has been mostly because of two very specific personal reasons:  1) they just feel like two-by-fours in my hand, and 2) the trigger has always caused my trigger finger to nearly go completely to sleep over the course of 20 shots or so.  (I first noticed that on my ex-wife's G23 a lot of years ago, and every Glock I've shot since then does the same thing.  I really wanted to like that G23, but I kinda need to retain sensitivity in my trigger finger, ya know?)

Anyway, the G43 does indeed dispense with the "feels like a two-by-four" problem, and that makes me happy.  It's not the thinnest of the breed, and it won't displace my interest in Kahr, Shield, XD-S, and Solo, but it is certainly of the breed, and that will probably make it the Glock I'll go to when I want to get serious about Glock-fu.  The rest of the gun was...Glock.  Which means it seems well-built, simple, logical, and probably runs like a top.


Le sigh.  I think I've run into this particular counter-jockey before;  he'll make you work to avoid having to tell him how full of shit he is about...oh hell, a lot.  His ignorance about airguns is nearly weapons-quality, and he shows no sign of being really interested in learning otherwise.  His gunhandling was awful, as was his attention;  he didn't even seem to notice me repositioning myself nearly constantly whenever he was handling something.

He insisted I look at a PX4 Beretta for how "comfortable" and "safe" it was;  I said upfront I could guarantee I wouldn't like it, and that my safety was between my ears.  Fat in the hand, DA/SA fire control, decocking slide mounted safety, and size inefficient.  I'm sure it runs fine, and some might like it, but after hearing me working over the G43 and discussing what it was about that piece which interested me, one would think he could manage a little less tone-deafness than this.

Perhaps I should have made it a point to make a point, but honestly it's frustrating that one should have to do that, and given the reasonably clear signals he ignored in the first place, I'm not sure it would have made much difference anyway.

The fun shop...should be, damn it.  But sometimes, research can be painful.

One of those 'because Claire' bookmarks.

"What are we as a society going to do?"

With Claire*, you don't get a magnum opus, you get a lupine opus.  This is one of those, not so much because of the size of the response, but because it just seems like it's all in there.  Nothing is perfect, but it's good enough that it becomes very difficult to quote it merely in part.


One feels a bit sorry for the original "first-time" commenter, who at least implicitly gets fairly savaged by the force of the article, and then by the Commentariat.  Claire does a perfectly fine job of declaring that she's speaking to attitudes rather than singling out ad hominem (she's better than most at this), but still...whoosh.  (I admit, full disclosure, that I am familiar with such criticism myself, and perhaps I make more of it than I should.)  Truth is, unless he speaks up again (and as of this writing he doesn't appear to have done so), we may never know what his actual intention was.  In one way that's a bit of a shame, but on the other hand, if someone really does need to learn this particular lesson, it's probably gonna leave a mark anyway.

Anyway, that aside, it's a truly excellent summary statement on the question, and what the question usually implies in society-as-it-is-now.  Duly bookmarked here, because I have a feeling I'll want to refer back to it.

* Claire Wolfe.  Get it?

Um, hey, a note to all those 'good apples' out there...

...now might be a rilly rilly good time to get get all up in these people's faces about protecting the gun culture you claim to be a part of...demonstrating to the plebes that you're not out to destroy us...that it's not really all about the revenue stream...you know, all those things I keep getting told "real cops" are all about.  "Real cops."  That underappreciated mass of you who I keep getting told so vastly outnumber the thugs and the cowed-into-silence, despite all appearances to the contrary.


Gun Shop Forced to Pay $6m to Two Cops Because they Sold the Gun that was Used to Shoot Them

This unprecedented civil award will encourage efforts to hold gun retailers – and, perhaps, firearms manufacturers – civilly liable for crimes committed by other people. It also reinforces the prevailing (and factually impoverished) narrative of an ever-escalating “war on cops.” Ten additional lawsuits similar to the one filed against Badger Guns are working their way through the courts.

Oh, swell.  Just what, do you suppose, might be the topic of conversation at police unions all over the country now?  (I'm envisioning drool buckets, and yet more futures in ambulance-chaser legal quackery.)

I know, I know, I must be fulla shite, making something of nothing, insensitive to the dangerous job, cancerous and fattening, et cetera ad nauseam.

Just don't try and tell me I don't understand about this judgment "sending a message" to those who might behave badly in the future.  Make no mistake, a message was sent here.  And heard, with crystal freakin' clarity.

We'll be hearing about it for years to come.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Outsourcing empathy: what could go wrong?

A Facebook friend--a good man, let me be clear, and one who is a bit of a personal inspiration to me regarding outlook on life--asked, today, after hearing of another hive-publicized shooting incident which may or may not have much in common with other mass shootings:

Again? My friends who are responsible gun owners--what's going on? Sorry, I don't want to put you on the spot (as in, you don't really have to respond), but something has to change, I think.

He then amended;

I guess I didn't state that right: Just because you have a gun, you don't have to know what's going on. I'm just curious what people have to say. I think I'm at the tipping point where I think we have to have some kind of licensing process.

I thought he deserved a response.  He's no sort of hard-core state bootlicker, and is more thoughtful than most.  And so, privately, I sent him the following.  It seemed worth posting here.

Hi, [S].  Thought I'd give a more thoughtful answer to your "what's going on?" question in the backchannel.  It is offered respectfully;  I know you to be a thoughtful person, and I'd not bother if I didn't think you would listen.  

Full disclosure:  I speak strongly.  I am contemptuous of all politics.  And I seem to say things that most people don't want to hear.  That said, I can assure you that I do not argue from ignorance, and I try to speak to attitudes rather than ad hominem to people.  (And so, for example, any reference to "you" in here isn't directed at you personally, etc.)  

With that in mind, here you go:

I don't think "tipping point" is a rational concept here. The core argument for gun rights, to the extent that even has any logical relation to today's shooting case (the few details available now don't suggest persuasively that it does), is not a statistical one, but a moral one. To wit: there is no magic statistical threshold that, once crossed, will suddenly make it morally acceptable to impose forcible prior restraint on people (gun owners, in this case) who have harmed no one, and never will.  The reverse, of course, is equally true:  gun controllers will never be persuaded by any amount of evidence that guns in the hands of the peasantry save more lives than they take.  For all the grandstanding to the contrary, the notion that either gunnies or gun controllers actually care about "performance" statistics is arguably the biggest fiction you'll ever hear on the subject.

What I find most depressing, though, is that so many otherwise intelligent people are convinced that gun control schemes will somehow do what they are advertised to do, despite all of history and basic human nature. The salesmanship may be stunning and slick, but the "performance" has been abysmal and even counterproductive (which, an uppity peasant might observe, makes it no different than the War on (some) Drugs, imperial warmongery, domestic surveillance...). And so after all the worst mass shooting disasters, we eventually* find out that 1) the site was already a de jure or de facto "gun-free zone", 2) there were other laws in place already that also failed to protect the innocent, and 3) none of the gun-control proposals on offer to fix the problem would actually have prevented the incident in the first place...oh, gee whiz! And it really doesn't take a whole lot of analysis to figure out that the "gun-free zone" is a much preferred site for a sick creep to work without interruption.

And yet somehow, the only socially acceptable remedy is more of what has (QED, each time) demonstrably failed to perform as advertised. Because simply entertaining other options is somehow prima facie evidence that you would spit-roast your own children for another box of ammo. "What's the matter with you cousin-humping redneck ammosexuals, who would rather hug your rifle than your kid? Why won't you have that 'national conversation' with us?" It's hard to get more tone-deaf than that, and yet most control-freaks I've met consider themselves far more subtle and nuanced than the rest of Us The Unwashed.

Adding to the chutzpah is the more recent sentiment that gun-rights supporters are getting too in-your-face and (buzzword alert) "extreme". Yes, more and more are exercising their rights with less than elegance. But the gun-controllers own this "problem", because they produced it from nothing. Who really thinks, seriously, that the gun-rights folks just up and decided one day that they needed to start carrying carbines to the local coffee shop to make a point? That's a politician's logic**, not that of a rational person who can see simple cause and effect. The aggravating displays we see now are an absolutely natural consequence of having been hounded, marginalized, and even dehumanized for decades by people who absolutely would NOT leave them alone, despite their never having harmed or threatened anyone, and despite having been promised many times along the way that "all we want is..."  Consider the pious (and very vocal) "reasonableness" of the idea that we must deny guns to "the mentally ill":  this is certainly designed to sound unassailably agreeable, but consider that these same people are also pushing the idea that simply wanting a gun is evidence of mental illness in and of itself.  (This is a great strategy, of course, because the disarmers can argue both that any pushback means that you must somehow want to hand carbines to the insane, and also that your obvious paranoia at being thus persecuted must be indicative of a pathology of your own.)

The disarmers' outright lies, the deliberate misdirections, the procedural shenanigans, the manufactured "stats", the nearly continuous astroturfing...and above all, the sanctimonious insistence that you, simply because you are a "gunnie", are somehow responsible for the actions of others and an enabler of future evil... All this, simply to provide empty absolution for a mind-set that cannot conceive of a non-political approach to a social problem. 

Jeez, I'm frankly amazed at how polite the gunnies have remained, for all these years.

Yes, something has to change. The concept of gun control, as forcible prior restraint on those who haven't harmed anyone, is morally repugnant on its face.  As "crime control" it is an absolute bomb, despite what you may have heard from the propaganda factories. And as any sort of "solution" for the disaster of mass shootings, how is it not the absolute height of irony and cynicism to advocate further disarming the victims when it's clear to anyone paying attention that the perpetrators simply ignore the law entirely?

Given all that, my own question is this: for anyone who believes in gun control as a deterrent to crime, where does your faith come from?  I mean seriously: why, exactly, do you think that anything that is proposed now, will somehow accomplish what the thousands of gun laws already on the books have failed to do?  Is it because a politician told you so? Is it because you believe that the NRA is hopelessly politicized and in it only for itself, while the Brady Center, SPLC, and Everytown for Gun Safety have only the best public interests at heart? Is it because you suffer from the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, or perhaps a simple hatred of The Other who you don't understand?

Which, ultimately, brings me back to the beginning. The biggest problem we have--as a society--is that we have created a world in which people outsource their empathy, and their morality, to others, rather than retaining it for themselves. That "we" are willing to outsource these core functions of our humanity to politicians, is chilling beyond words to anyone who has studied the history of genocide and mass atrocity. (And to be clear, here, a whole lot of "gunnies" do that too--drives me crazy to see it.) In such a world, an event as incomprehensibly nihilistic as Sandy Hook, or UCC, or Columbine, seems not only plausible but inevitable.

How to turn things back toward sanity?

Well, trying to remove, reduce, or control guns is doomed to failure, and will just get more people killed. And it does nothing to strike the root.

Arming the peasantry may well help a little by giving people a chance to fight back in desperate circumstances, but in and of itself that is not going to reverse sociopathic nihilism either. At best it will displace it, with an elevated threat of tactical failure.

Ultimately, the problem is in our minds. No law, no rule, no attempt to control other people against their will, will ever fix it. We have to take our empathy back, each one of us, and not let it go again.  (I think it was Jung who said "The salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual soul."  I'm no sort of religious man, but I don't think you have to be, to recognize the truth in that.)

Some say this is impossible, that it would be too much work, and in the end people will sooner accept devolving into civil war. Well, maybe. It sure looks that way some days. But I can't let myself believe that it has to be that way.  If nothing else, I have to answer to my daughters, and I want them to see me trying to build the world as I want to see it, from the ground up. 

* This information is usually available right away, but is drowned out underneath all the sanctimonious grandstanding, and is often never reported in the mainstream at all.
** You know, politicians:  those folks who dream of a day when their approval ratings might make it up to their hat size.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

File this under "Do you understand?"

Sure, we've long known that the Establishment propagandizes for the Establishment.  But this Greenwald article does make the case in a way that should be digestible by a larger audience of fence-sitters than I'd ever be able to reach.

We’re bravely here to report that these two incidents perhaps coincidentally occurred at “about” the same time: There was a hospital that blew up, and then there was this other event where the U.S. carried out an airstrike. As the blogger Billmon wrote: “London 1940: Civilians throughout the city were killed at about the same time as a German air strike, CNN reports.”

The entire article is designed to obfuscate who carried out this atrocity. The headline states: “Air attacks kill at least 19 at Afghanistan hospital; U.S. investigating.” What’s the U.S. role in this incident? They’re the investigators: like Sherlock Holmes after an unsolved crime.

This, too, pretty much says it all:

Now, if only we could get more folks to remember how this all works when the subject is "Plebes with gunz, ZOMG!", or "Working within the system is the only way to get results."

(That includes you too, Glenn Greenwald.  You may be better than most, but you too have your blind spots.)

A metaphysical lament. When those who say they get it, don't.

As I was writing this, I had already been thinking about making it into a post of its own, because the topic seemed to be worth it. The following was inspired by one of Mama's insightful comments, and once Blogger told me it was too long to be a comment, it was reasonably easy to say, "okay, Blogger, fine...I'll make it into its own post."

As a "contextual continuity clue": the following relates to several posts I've got here at Rifleman Savant, in which something relating to a Jeff Cooper topic--scout rifles, Ching slings, gunhandling technique, etc.--struck me as so far off the mark of what Cooper actually said or intended, that I felt the need to vent about it. Mama's comment got me thinking about that, and I responded as follows:

Maybe it's just a normal phenomenon that accompanies middle age, but I am really starting to grasp the wistful frustration that I so often read as a younger man (without really understanding) in Jeff Cooper's work. Or, maybe it is a natural outgrowth of a long-cultivated appreciation of deliberate design. (And really, I suspect strongly those two things are quite related.) But whatever the reason, it seems like the "...how often they do very badly at it" observation comes frequently in recent years.

I'm certainly not without my own history of jumping in to something before fully understanding it, but I like to think that I am learning that it always--always, without exception--fails to achieve full value, or at least full synergistic value. Probably these days I go too far the other way, where the biggest risk is in missing the window of time for which the whole idea has currency.

With something like this [a "scout rifle" missing critical features or implementing others badly], or like my recent lament about misunderstanding the technique of the speed sling, I wonder if the bigger problem is less the people whose well-intentioned exuberance carries them into a place they do not understand, and more the problem of chest-thumpery among those who purport to know, but don't. How do the consciously ignorant know that they are not following the unconsciously or willfully ignorant?

The position I'm in myself is a real challenge, in this regard. Anent the observations and teachings of Jeff Cooper, I tend to minimize how much I actually know, since 1) it's kinda my personality in general (I like being underestimated), and 2) I don't have a CV of "official" credentials that say I know what I know. But know it I do, both because I have long paid really close attention to matters of design and the history of design, and because I have tested nearly all of it myself and understand why it works from that perspective. And so when something misses the mark, it jumps out at me like nails on chalkboard, and I can both quote chapter and verse, and then defend it extemporaneously.

But who am I, really, to speak with authority on it in the first place? I only met Col. Cooper, in person, once. I have never "been in a gunfight" (and am quite happy about that, no joke). I'm no sort of master marksman, nor particularly fast. I've never got into formal competition, and I get quite a bit less trigger time than it would require to impress a good number of people. And so I try, at least, to minimize my own authority, because I can't really argue that I have it. Shooting, for good or ill, seems to carry an expectation that "experience" equals "analysis".

On the flip side, I am reminded of how much I really do know, and at what level of explication and depth, pretty much every time I engage with someone else, even those with years of shooting experience. I couldn't even tell you the number of people I've met who know simply astonishing minutiae about how to wrest a tenth of an inch of group size from their precision fitted boltgun, at exactly 100 yards, from a bench--who have no idea how to use their own body, much less a shooting sling, to shoot from an unsupported field position with any stability; or how to zero their rifle to optimize a "maximum point-blank range" for what they will be most likely to encounter in the field; or how to manage their ammunition supply without looking at it; or even how to run the bolt from the shoulder... It's a little better for pistolcraft, but not a lot. There's been a depressing resurgence in the concept of unsighted pistol fire, usually declaring loudly a complete non-understanding of the flash sight picture. The "high-speed, low-drag" tactards have convinced far too many that "two to the chest, one to the head" is nothing but a speed drill, rather than the observation-and-problem-solving technique that it is. The "cold range" mentality, as understandable as it can seem, continues to retard any general improvement in safe field gunhandling. And so on.

It's hard to say simply that people need to be more observant, although that seems like an obvious part of the solution. "Try it yourself, before you believe or disbelieve" would seem to be another obvious one, as would "go to the source, after you hear it second-hand". But a really substantial part of the problem is also those who stand up and loudly say "Lookit me, I know!", and then don't. When it comes to things that Cooper taught (both the gold and the stuff that really does need re-thinking), I usually know, immediately, when someone is wrong. But does that make me right? I struggle with that, but I also don't want to see such an immense reservoir of knowledge and history simply forgotten, or worse, revisioned by people who didn't really understand it in the first place.

Sorry. Metaphysical lament.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Airgunnery may now include a viable shotgun.

Need a quick bookmark for this idea, which I think is significant.  Via Tom Gaylord's excellent blog, which I have been following for a few years now, I now learn that there is a production air shotgun, and at least initially it looks pretty promising.

This new .50-caliber shotgun seems to be about half the payload of a .410, delivered at nearly the same velocity, for at least 3 shots in Foster-fill PCP format.

I'll want to learn more about the ability to home-roll the shot "shells", of course, but the idea of a 10-25 yard scattergun, quiet enough not to need hearing protection when shooting outside, that is not dependent on gunpowder or primers, is pretty appealing.

Gaylord saw, with #8 shot, nice, even patterning of 9-10" at 10 yards, 12" at 15 yards, and 16" at 20.  Check out his 15-yard paper:

Promising, indeed!  I'll be following this report with interest.

I got to thinking, too, about this "half a .410" idea.  For most of my life I'd have simply said "ho hum" to this entirely unsexy idea.  What's the point, right?  But I am really starting to think I've been shortsighted all this time.  Airguns are not firearms, and even now I'm not interested in trying to make them into something they are not, but what they are is, I do believe, something that can actually get a surprising amount of work done.

I've already concluded that in smallbore airguns, my .25 caliber TalonP is fully "half a .22 Long Rifle", and you know, that can cover pretty much all my pest-control needs and any small game I care to go after around here, with little fuss and noise.  (Going to the EscapeSS model, which is a bit longer than the TalonP but with sound suppression built in, is on my list.)

The newly exploding big-bore airgun market has PCP rifles delivering 2-6 shots of .357-.45 caliber cast bullets at a performance level that will take unexpectedly big critters at close range.   The AirForce Texan, a 2-shot .45 that is like a big brother to the TalonP, can launch a 405-grain .45/70 bullet at 750 f/s!  Or smaller bullets in the power range of the .45 ACP.  And the Benjamin Bulldog seems to be able to spit out 10 .357-caliber bullets at about 170fpe each before a refill.  Again, there is much that can be done with these ballistics.  Nobody is expecting these things to be stoppers, but they may be very effective hunters.

And so now there is the possibility of the air shotgun.  Half a .410, at close range, may wind up being an excellent off-grid tool.  I intend to keep my eyes out for how the new gun does in the field, and I admit I like the idea enough that I'm pulling for it to work famously.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Apparently Mossberg has been busy.

I haven't paid hardly any attention to Mossberg in...a long time.  By complete accident today, I encountered a couple of items that seem quite interesting.

Scout Rifle

I never realized they had an entry in the "scout rifle" space, but lookee here:

Oh, I can immediately see problems.  It doesn't make weight.  The glass on the "with-glass" model seems to offer most of the problems of a conventional eye relief without delivering the value of a true intermediate eye relief.  The rail with integrated ghost-ring sight is indeed nice, but it ruins access to the loading/ejection port without offering anything of real value.  The bolt design appears to be push-feed, plunger-eject, and sliding-plate-extract--exactly what the Scout Conferences codified as the configuration of last choice*.  The LOP is too long, with no apparent means of adjustment.  And there is no stud for a Ching Sling.

But at least someone is trying, and there are a couple of nice features here.  The ability to use both AR10 and M14 magazines?  Yeah, that seems like a goodness thing--provided it turns out to be suitably rugged and reliable.  The trigger may be nice as well, but I've got no sense of field feedback on it yet.

All in all, from the look of it, this might yet be a decent platform for the concept.  It should be reasonably trivial to shorten the LOP and round the buttpad, cut out the rail space obstructing the objection port (or replace with a more suitable alternative), and add a middle stud for a Ching Sling.  Acquire a Leupold M8 2.5x Scout Scope and mount it as low as possible with QD rings, add the Ching Sling itself, and include some magazines, and--again, provided it runs--this might be a very nice little rifle.  It would have the magazine advantage over the Ruger, but require a bit more fiddling to get it close enough to spec to get the complete system synergy--and the Ruger's bolt is closer to the Scout Conference spec.  Hey, if nothing else, choice is good, and I'm happy to see it!

Lever Gun

I also--and again, accidentally--ran across this levergun, offered both as a 6-shot .30/30 and a 14-shot rimfire:

This struck me as a cross between "very encouraging" and "total facepalm".  On the "encouraging" side, I love the adjustable LOP idea, and a tang safety on a levergun is the right way to include what is arguably a not-strictly-necessary feature in the first place.  The front sight base seems reasonably sturdy, and the rear receiver ring should both permit a compact ghost-ring sight, and clear access to the ejection port.  Very nice.  I've got no idea how it runs or how the trigger is, but presumably any kinks could be worked out with some comparatively light gunsmithing.

Then I noticed the fore-end rail space.

Seriously, Mossberg?  You put rails on all sides except the top?  Okay, look, I admit I don't really speak tactard in the first place, but I think most of us would look for a top rail first, and then maybe--maybe--a bottom.  One of the principal attractions of the levergun in the first place is its luxurious flatness, and side rails would seem to be inherently counterproductive to that end.

Look, it's a levergun, not a plumbing main.  The more stuff you hang off those rails, the further away you get from what attracted you to the design in the first place.

Despite that irritation, though--a single rail on top would have permitted scout scope or dot sight options and still allowed a svelte fore-end--I like the idea of this piece, and hope I get to meet one some day.  May it sell well enough that Mossberg offers it in other calibers too--I'd love to see .45 Colt or .44 Mag, and even .357 is a worthy option for an iron-sight carbine.

Youth Boltgun

Finally, Mossberg also seems to offer a youth-scaled rimfire boltgun:

I'll have to look into this one some more, but I like the concept of the single-shot adapter/plug, plus the ability to take 10-round magazines as well.  Gives the kid something to grow into.  I've no idea about trigger or accuracy, but the safety seems well-located, the receiver sports a dovetail that should permit a good ghost-ring rear sight, it's light enough and looks amenable to some light gunsmithing should that prove necessary.  The fore-end looks a little short for a proper shooting sling, but I'd have to see it in a kid's hands to know if it was too short.  The LOP is just about right for adults (12.25") but should be shorter for kids;  since it's wood, this should not prove to be a daunting problem.

Again, I'd love to meet one and see how it feels in the hands.  

So, cool!  Mossberg has been busy.  Will have to cogitate, investigate, and see what if anything comes of it.  :-)

* Once again, full disclosure is that even the Steyr Scout is not controlled-feed, nor inertial-eject.  The Scout Conferences were clear enough in their preference for controlled-feed, inertial-eject, full-claw-extract...but Cooper must not have thought it a deal-breaker for the production Scout, as I'm not sure he ever even mentioned the Steyr SBS's use of plunger-eject and Sako-style mini-claw extractor.  The Steyr also has restricted access to its ejection port, and (just barely) doesn't "make weight" either.  Clearly, this arrangement can run just fine despite being "out-of-spec", and I always try to apply a few grains of salt when evaluating another take on the concept.  :-)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cognitive dissonance.

Via Claire, here's one for anyone you know who needs a working example of cognitive dissonance.

It seems that a former director of the Nobel Institute has now stated in a memoir that he regrets awarding Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.  Okay, plenty of ink has been spilled about that absurdity already, and justly so.  Here, I'm more wanting to call attention to the pluperfect cognitive dissonance that illustrates how Statist Beer Goggles* can produce such a shark-jumping result in the first place.

Behold, from the article:

According to Lundestad, the argument which swayed the committee was that the prize would help him [Obama] achieve his goals.

"Help him", roger that.  Scary enough just taken on its own, of course.  But then, later:

The Nobel committee, which fiercely guards its independence from the politics of power, ...

I know:  ha!  funny!  Sing it, cheese shop patron:

And yet, people still believe contradictory nonsense like this.  Or, if they don't, they nonetheless continue to give power over other people's lives to "leaders" that do believe it--which is not only worse in a practical sense, but it's also a fractal representation of the same cognitive dissonance problem in the first place!

Oh well.  At least this "revelation" was able to wait long enough for the desired effect to run its course...


* Because really, that's what this is, isn't it?  I find myself using that term more and more;  just like the battered-spouse analogy, it works.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Surprisingly, that was first blood for the Scout.

"Isn't this first blood for the Scout?" my father asked on the phone when I told him I'd just scored on a caribou just off the Denali Highway around Mile 13.

Well shut my mouth.  It is.  I've certainly carried the Scout afield a few times, but never actually got a shot with it until now.  Excellent!

I was very pleased with the "gunnie" part of it.  It was a quick stalk;  my hunting partner said he couldn't believe how fast I covered the half-mile distance from the road to the mound where I took the shot.  I do remember moving around a bit on the mound to avoid shooting in the direction of a distant someone on an ATV, skylighted on a ridgeline;  in the end I accepted an angle of convergence of about 135 degrees, which I still don't entirely like, but which was the best I was going to get.  The shot was at a little over 150 yards, rested on my pack to get above the willow, and the cow was mostly broadside.

I remember being surprised at how not-loud the shot was;  I am well aware that field shots for blood are never as loud as they seem at the range, but this was conspicuously soft;  I suspect that much of it is the acoustic absorption of that fantastic quantity of biomass in the tundra.  Anyway, she didn't move at all, so (having instantly run the bolt at the first shot) I hit her again, and saw her stagger, down into a shallow gully that got her out of sight.  As it happens I didn't need to do that, but I am a whole lot more into followup shots than I used to be, especially up here where sometimes a very big animal can get itself into a place you don't want to go.  I love the "one shot" philosophy, but I want a hit critter to go down even more.  Alaska is not a place for bushwhacking.

She only made it a few steps;  both shots landed within a couple inches of one another and completely scuttled her lungs.  The Barnes "VOR-TX" 165 grain load did exactly what it was supposed to do, and I'll be happy to use that on much bigger critters as necessary.  Excellent!

From there, things got nearly comically poetic.  I ran back out to get my partner;  we were at the very end of our available time and I figured we could both go back together and have this critter gutted and out in a single trip.  But on the way to turn the truck around, he spied his own 'bou and had it down within half an hour himself.  Great results, but the day just got...much longer.

A "quick extract" of his animal with the ATVs turned into a six-hour ordeal involving a broken frame, a real scare of a broken hunting partner, and some bona fide anxiety about attracting ursine attention at the kill site.  We got his bull out, though--on the wheelers, no less--and by the time we got back to the truck, it was getting dark.  Partner wasn't in the best shape by that point, and anyway he had lots of things to do to get the wheelers back on the trailer, etc.

And so I wound up walking back out to my kill site, alone, in the dark, to gut an animal laying in a small gully with no real visibility, entirely by headlamp--in an area famous for bears.  (In an area that another hunter had just told me he'd spotted a brownie that he was going to see if he could chase.)

Does that make me brave, or stupid?  I can see both arguments--and I now know just exactly how to avoid that problem going forward ('cos I got no problem not having to be brave).  But nonetheless, there I was, because she needed to be gutted to cool properly, even if we couldn't do a full packout until morning.

It certainly seems foolhardy in hindsight.  Yes, I had my Ruger Blackhawk with Buffalo Bore 325-grain loads as a last-ditch backup.  Yes, I had a bear flare.  Yes, I was listening carefully, and working quickly.  But still--moving over more than a half-mile of damp tundra and willow is neither fast nor sure-footed, even in the daylight, and the consequences of attracting a thousand pounds of nocturnal, carnivorous company are potentially severe.  Let's just say I was particularly on my guard.  And honestly, I was pretty efficient at getting her dressed and cooling, even slightly away from the gut pile.  It was most welcome to see the truck lights on my way back, and hear the sounds of partner's assembly of all our broken and unbroken gear.

It was only slightly less trepidatious the next morning, when we went to pack her out in the light.  On one hand, I had a partner, with extra eyes and his own sidearm and flare;  on the other hand, we were going into a kill site, invisible from view until you're right up on it, in which a gut pile in a bear area had been out overnight, with meat cooling nearby.  Nerve-wracking is the right word.  But to my intense relief, nothing had been in either the gut pile or the meat, and we got her packed up and out in one trip, moving slowly but surely.

Whew.  Felt a lot better after that!

Lots learned on this trip, in general.  The area is simply spectacular, and I'd be happy hunting it again with a little more time and no need to separate from partner.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Now that was more like it.

Got back to the zeroing range today.  After last week's frustrating attempt with handloads, and without the time to find and remedy the problem at home, I ponied up for some good factory loads, and today was...much better.

I was a bit paranoid--after all, maybe it was just me:  you know, my shooting.  So I brought some of that good old M80 ball to shoot first, just so I could see if I could hit anything, and see where my sights might have been left over after last week.  So, at the 100 yard line, I shot my first three.

Click to embiggenate.

Well hell, that's a lot more satisfactory than anything I did a week ago.  The aim point was the diamond to the lower left, so the group is about 2.5" high and 2" right.  And importantly, it's a useful group, at a bit over an inch in dispersion.

Okay then, that's where the 147-grain load hits.  Lovely.  How about the Barnes VOR-TX 165-grain load?

First shot at bottom, next three above that, next three at top.

The first shot is the lowest one.  Works for me!  Now to raise the point of impact to about 2" to 2.5", to give me a good "maximum point-blank range" for a 6-inch target diameter.  (Both moose and caribou are much bigger than that, of course, but I figure this gives me a margin of error in my own shooting.)  I moved the reticle adjustment up a bit and shot three, and you can see the next three shots right above and to the right of the first one.  Nice tight group, but not quite as high as I wanted, so I went a bit further--and as you can see it was a bit too far.  Not only that, but the point of impact moved to the left at the same time!  (This is why you never adjust both planes at the same time.  :-)

And by this point I was feeling much better about my shooting.  A 2.5x scout scope is not exactly made for benchresting, and lots of people pooh-pooh it as being "underpowered", but as you can see it certainly can work!  But 3.5" is a bit too high.  Okay, back it down just a bit and shoot three (new target).

Good enough to hunt with!  1/2" right and just over 2" high.
This should give me just over 250 yards of MPBR and about 9" of drop at 300.

Now we're talking.  Back over to the right, okay, but more importantly just about the right height.  Using JBM Ballistics, and presuming about 2600f/s of muzzle velocity from the Scout's 19-inch barrel (I didn't chrony today), the two points of intersection with the line of sight should occur at exactly 25 yards and exactly 200 yards, with a MPBR of just over 250 and about a 9" drop at 300.  If for some reason I'm seeing the full 2700fps claimed on the box (which I'd not expect, but that Mannlicher barrel is known to shoot a bit faster than its short length would suggest), the numbers are little different:  0.1" down at 25 yards, 0.4" up at 200, MPBR of 265, and a drop of 8" at 300.  If for some reason I shoot well enough in the field to notice that, I'll...well, I won't, so no matter.

What's important to me is that I know that trajectory already, and I'm confident to 300 for hits with it. (Actually, I'm reasonably confident to 400 with a good steady rest, but I'm also of the opinion that you have to apologize for shooting that far away, and at any rate the problem out past 300 isn't so much setting the holdover properly, as it is being accurate about range estimation.  On a wounded animal getting away, sure, but I won't go that far for a first shot.

Okay, so I'm happy now, with zero.  I figured I'd finish with a quick test of position skills.  Using the M80 ball, which I know shoots a bit high and right relative to the Barnes, I shot one round from each position at a pistol target at 100.  The first three positions (squat, sitting, prone) used the Ching Sling, into which I looped up while acquiring the position;  the fourth was bipod prone;  and the fifth was an offhand shot, completely unsupported.  Each shot was acquired and delivered as fast as I could get a good position, sight picture and compressed surprise break--this was supposed to be "under pressure".    Of course, I snapped the bolt at each shot as well, and quitted each position reloaded and on-safe.

Yes, I'm happy with this as a quick test.  About 8" total dispersion, including offhand.

The aim point was the orange center on the pistol target;  I did not make any attempt to "Kentucky windage" any of these shots, even though I knew the ball load would print a bit higher and more to the right than the one I'm using "for blood"--which itself is zeroed about 2.25" high at this distance.  The offhand shot is over on the far right, at the edge of my "wobble zone", but it was within the zone, and delivered within about three seconds--yeah, I'm happy with it.

The supported shots, again taken as fast as I could manage them, show a dispersion of under 5", with an apparent center about 1.5" right and a little over 5" high.  If the ball load really does print about 2.5" higher and 2" to the right of the Barnes load, this would seem to suggest a group center of...about 2.5" high and within half an inch of right on for windage...  Yeah, I realize that's at least a bit of academic reasoning there, but still, if the purpose is to instill confidence, I'll take it.

Now...for the problem of finding the critter at the right time, and getting close enough for a good shot.  I think I can say now that if I get such a shot and blow it, it's on me, not on the rifle or the ammunition.

Good.  That's the way I like it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The unexpected hazards of an air rifle match.

Had a delightful afternoon providing a bit of assistance at a small 4-H air rifle match about 80 miles up the road.  It was held at a gun club that I may have to look into further, as they do have bona fide facilities to run rifles at a distance (meaning:  300m plus), which is oddly missing around here.  For this event, we were in a pistol bay, with a tow-strap-in-the-sand firing line and a rather clever clothesline-style target apparatus at the 10-meter line.  Add in an unusually sunny, brilliant day, and things were looking good.

A lot went wrong.

The poor fella running the match (who I know to be both perfectly competent and a genuinely nice guy) just couldn't catch a break.  One by one the rifles (Daisy Avanti 888 Medalists, powered by removable 2.5g CO2 cylinders), ran out of gas, and of course the refill tank was with someone else.  It got down to one working rifle, and thus one shooter working at a time, before the ability to recharge arrived--and even then it was not a slam-dunk.  "Recharged" cylinders...weren't.  Some didn't seat correctly.  A couple of new shooters repeatedly dipped muzzles into the (very fine) sand on the prone mats.  The same sand found its way into bolts, making it a challenge for some of the kids without well-developed hand strength.  Once new cylinders started making it properly seated into rifles, sights needed to be adjusted for the fresh fill of gas (normally this wouldn't be much a problem as the CO2 is largely self-regulating, but there is a difference between a cylinder at exhaustion and a completely-topped-off one).  And of course what to do with a shooter who was interrupted by a failing rifle in the middle of her string?  Some of the kids are good enough shots that it doesn't seem fair to handicap them with erratic equipment.

Oddly enough, I had recently been thinking about what I'd do myself, with what I've learned about airgunnery, if I were asked to build a "school set" of rifles to handle a wide variety of conditions.  The 888 Medalist certainly seems a nice rifle, but the dependency on specialized fill equipment seems to make this sort of problem inevitable at some point.  Personally, I find the 888's trigger spongy, the bolt a little awkward and stiff, and the loading tray a challenge for the tiny .177 pellets.  And I admit, I just do not care for target aperture sights--I can't stand not being able to see around what I'm shooting at--but this is probably just part of the game and not something I'd have much influence over.

What I'd do is go with the Benjamin Discovery, instead.  For about the same money as the 888, you get the "Disco" rifle and a hand pump to feed it!  I'd spend a little more, though, and find a simple receiver sight to replace the open rear that comes on the gun, and replace the fiber optic front with a plain square post.  With this slight upgrade, I think we have an outstanding training and match rifle which can be entirely self-supported.  The Disco is renowned for being durable, accurate, and easy to work with.  The fill pressure is much lower than most PCPs, and so almost anyone can operate the hand pump.  It can still be filled from a tank, of course, if need be, but I rather like the idea of having each shooter fill her own rifle prior to stepping up to the line--knowing exactly how much air is in the gun on account of having just put it there.

Especially with a ghost-ring aperture in the rear, the Disco is a much more suitable rifle to learn and train on, than a specialized 10m competition gun.  I think we do people a disservice to start them on a sight system so specialized that it deliberately obstructs everything around what you are supposed to shoot at (honestly, how can you even observe Rule 4 when all you can see is the bull?), and then wire it so specifically to that precise little bullseye that it's essentially useless for anything else.  Sure, maybe I'm a slave to practicality, but I also know that I am very little, if any, better with target sights than I am with general-purpose sights, and the latter is far superior to the former in every realm other than formal competition.

And besides, I remind myself, I am not looking at the 10m competition as the end point, but the starting one.  Once you can get shots in the bull at 10m, it is time to start a) going faster (acquiring position), b) going farther (effectiveness of position), or c) both.  This is what will develop you beyond basic mechanics, and which will set you up to appreciate the use of efficient sights, shooting slings, and good ergonomics, along with understanding why the technique is what it is.

Which then segues into the Scout-Rod* concept all over again.  See?  There's at least a convergent consistency to my geekery.  :-)

* And the Scout-Rod, at least at this writing, is modeled on the Disco's refined descendant, the Marauder, which takes many of the Disco's nice features and adds to them (e.g., a bolt-action repeating mechanism, internal sound suppression).