Sunday, September 30, 2007

Advice to a Single Mom

A friend of mine, a single mother, and I were corresponding via emails, and the topic of shooting and her 12 year old son came up. Initially she made it sound like he was enthused. TOO enthused, though.

I told her that my advice isn't ideal. I'm too new at this. I don't even think I would be a good one to teach her son.

I related how he's at the age or just past where you want to introduce a boy to shooting. It's a part of being a man. And if she thinks she is falling down on the job, she should not be too hard on herself about missing this important part of his development because she is a single mom. Single momhood has got NOTHING to do with it, as way too many intact families have FATHERS in them that overlook this for various reasons, all of them bad. Boo, wimpy fathers. Naw, and its not too late to get the boy going on the right path.


She made it sound like the boy was over eager. That raises red flags. It's good to have enthusiasm, just not TOO much enthusiasm for it. And it sounds like he has an overabundance of enthusiasm. No. He needs to wait and mature and demonstrate self-discipline. And he must not be told she is waiting for signs of maturity, less he put up a facade to short circuit the process. And when he DOES get to shoot you still watch for cracks in the maturity facade before proceeding to the next level. But that's the Shooting Mentor's job. At his age... a few trips to a rifle range to shoot a .22 bolt action rifle to learn how it all works and to practice a bit. Borrowed weapons from the instructor, of course. Plus I'd train him on Windex, first. And she'd like that. She'd get her windowns clean, and he learns about guns like Mr Miaggi taught the Karate Kid to do wax-on/wax-off. (Learned this trick from Tammy.) If he can treat the Windex spray bottle like a real gun, keeping his finger off the trigger untile ready to squirt, and not pointing it at anything he doesn't want to get blue death on.

Apparently I totally misread her Liberal Mom lamentations. She was WAY ahead of me. The boy wasn't begging for a real gun to be irresponsible with, he was begging for an airsoft gun to be irresponsible with. Mom said no to Airsoft, but yes if he wanted to shoot a real gun. She knows well-trained Mentor types that are experienced riding herd on pre-pubescent boys and could teach him properly. But no BB gun.

To the boy, this makes no sense! Single Mom went on about the boy's confusion -- "that I would allow him to fire a real weapon but not possess a 'fake' one. I've tried explaining my position and I think it's a reasonable one -- that firing a real gun with real bullets is a much different experience than the 'toys' and hence gives one a better appreciation of the inherent dangers of them (i.e. he knows that they can indeed kill a person with little effort). Oh well perhaps at some point he'll take me up on the offer and maybe not. "

This friend of mine has a good head on her shoulders. And my feeble attempts at counsel were unnecessary.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Guns!

Yup, I splurged and spent the big bucks.

Well, not actually. My brother came home from Iraq recently and decided I'd have better use of Dad's and Paw Paw's guns than him. THESE guns at least.

If you look WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY back to July, at my second post on this here blawg thingy, I mention a single shot break action 20 gauge shotgun my grandfather used to dissuade rabbits from raiding his garden. I got that. The last time it was fired was 1986. The last time it was cleaned was 1986. Got a bore snake to remedy that at Ye Olde Local Gonne Shoppe, Potomac Traders. Gonna go clean it as soon as I post this. Guess what brand it is? Sears. Sears Roebuck. My grandfather was a firm believer in the power and value of Sears. It makes sense he'd get a reliable, inexpensive firearm there, too. It's not a Craftsman shotgun, it's a Sears.

The other is the .22 bolt action my father used when he was on his High School Rifle team in Bethesda Maryland back in the 50's. Yup, they had a rifle range in the basement, nary 4 miles from the District of Columbia in what is now Uber-Leftist People's Glorious Republic of Montgomery County. The rifle is a Mossberg Model 144. It has Lyman style peep-through that I just love. It's not a primo target .22, but it isn't shabby, either. It has some stamped metal and bakelite furniture on it. Like the trigger guard is bakelite. Has Mossberg ALWAYS put plastic trigger guards on stuff? And the trigger is a bit sloppy. If I were to do anyting to it, I'd replace the trigger guard and get the trigger works themselves tuned up by a gunsmith. That's the bad. The good is, it's my Dad's, bought by my Grandfather FOR him, so there is the HUGE familial connection I like so much. The stock is real walnut. The bolt has cool looking case hardening discoloration and mottling that people are spending so much money on these days because it looks so cool.

Oh, and the bolt handly doesn't have a regular knob, but a t-handle arrangement. That's good for me, as I can more easily reach over to work the bolt with my left hand without losing sight pucture.

I can't wait to try it out at the range.

Ooo, AFTER I get a magazine for it. Dunno where the origninal went. My local gun store had some Mossberg magazines, but they wanted me to bring the gun in to fit the magazine to be sure. And I've seen websites with a few for sale.

And MBtGE has a whole turd-ton of .22LR ammo that he is at a loss to use up. It was a good value so he bought bricks of it, but that particular ammo doesn't feed well in his Ruger semi-autos. Well his folly is my gain! He's a small-minded slow-head and he never reads this blog (I don't think he CAN read, actually) so I can probably talk him out of his ammunition and make him enjoy the experience of me fleecing him out of his hard earned gummint workman's comp check. Oh I didn't tell you? He worked for the county road deptartment until he faked an on the job injury. Ever since he's been suckling on the taxpayer teat.
UPDATE: MBtGE is a fine, upstanding, well-educated citizen, that always adheres to a high-minded civic duty. He is a tax paying private sector professional with a work ethic beyond reproach, and would never DREAM of taking a dime not earned. This statement was not coerced in any way. -Bolt
Anyway, here's a pic:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

snub nose sights

Hey! Do ANY snub nose .38 revolvers have rear sights?

I was perusing Kin Du Toit's website and saw his smallgun/snub nose revolver comparison page. No rear sights. I'm checking Smith and Wesson's teeny weeny revolvers, and darn few of them have sights.

Hmmm. I guess you are meant to shoot those things at bad breath range.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Book: To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth

by Jeff Cooper.

A meaty Cooper book that nevertheless went by too fast despite its 350+ page length.

The Colonel goes over 5 sections that are near and dear to him. The Present (combat mindset, personal defense), The Pistol (and how to use it), The Rifle (and what it's good for), the Hunter (hunting stories!) and the Past (History).

Cooper explains he got the title from Teddy Roosevelt, and that it was a favorite saying of the Rough Rider. But Cooper reminds that TR got it the Persian Empire. 3000 years ago, a proper training of the elite's sons was to send them to houses of war lords in the hinterlands, where they are to learn to rough it, 'to ride like Cheiron, shoot (arrows) like Apollo, and to speak only the truth.' What else would you need to know to become a proper prince?

The hunting stories are a wonderous indulgence, as Cooper is nothing if not a story-teller.

I may post ANOTHER book review, someday, after I re-read this one. Lots of ground to cover, as it is info dense into the Cooper mind.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Manassas Gun Show

MBtGE invited me to a gun show near his house in Virginia.

This isn't the BIG ONE that is at the Dulles Expo Center. This was a Virginia Gun Collectors Association event. Lots of Military Surplus weapons, which is fine by me. I went to look for an extra barrel from my Remington Model 11 shotgun (they didn't have one), magazines for a Colt 1908 pocket hammerless (bupkis) and ammo (bought some South African .308 at a good price). Mainly the purpose was to walk around and drool.

What did I drool on? Well there were Rock Island Arsenal M1911 style .45s for about $400. Cheapest I've seen. I'm wondering what is wrong with them, actually. Sure it's a Phillipin made gun, and it is a bare bones .45, but still. It's $400. If I was lucky and got a decent one right out of the box I might never need another one. I better put this on the list for .45s. There is a review from a fan of RIA here.

Speaking of .45s, MBtGE got his Glock 21 on this trip. He loves Glock, and nothing I say will ever dissuade him. Plus he already has a lot of the accoutrements that go with Glock and can fit on any model. The flashlight mount is his favorite. I think he paid $500? Maybe 6. Don't remember, and I'm too lazy to pick up the phone and call his big behind. They through in 2 extra mags with it, too.

But I drooled the most on the Springfield M1As. I always thought I'd want to get the SOCOM II, which is a M1A with a synthetic stock, short barrel, and extensive rail system to mount all sorts of accessroies. But the weight feels all wrong. The rails shift the center of gravity forward too much. And this with a rifle WITHOUT any accesories. Better to get the simpler SOCOM 16 or Scout Squad, the only difference being barrel lenth. Or the Super Scout from Fulton Armory.

I'd show pics of the Springfield offerings, but their site is all flash animations. But here is the Fulton one, and it has a nicer rail than the Springfield offering:

See? More than enough rails to hang stuff on, 2 extra inches of barrel is fine. I'd live to try some 3rd generation night vision on a platform like this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Anti Tank Rifle

Remember when I referenced .50 cal anti tank rifles being sold as surplus in Gun Magazine? I found a Canadian Trainig file about them on YouTube.

This is the file for part 2 Parts 1 and 3 are in there too, but this one had the best 'action shots'. Part 1 is all Disney Cartoony.
That rifle is .55 caliber to be precise. Called a Boys Anti Tank Rifle. And there is a whole website devoted to the weapon.

Canadian World War 2 Training Film Part 1

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Safari Ching Sling

No one uses a sling much, but they come highly recommended. Old training films show how to use the Military style sling, but it is time consuming to set up on that type, and the film itself mentiuons that you may often not have the time in battle.

This slowness bothers Jeff Cooper, but he had no immediate solution to combine the advnatages of sling aimed fire with fast shots. But he kept his eyes open.

Eventually, while in Latin America, he noticed a shooter using an odd sling. This man, Carlos Widman, was using an old British system that had been forgotten about in the rest of the civilized world. Cooper adopted it and called it a CW Sling in Carlos' honor.

But an improvement could be made on the CW, by extending the loop with another strap down to the rifle butt. This allowed you to use the sling for carrying as well as aiming. This was done by Eric Ching, under Jeff Cooper's influence, and this sling is called a Ching Sling in his honor.

Now, none of these slings work for me, because I want to steady a Garand fast. The military sling is slow, and the CW and Ching require me to make another swivel mount on a 1943 walnut gunstock. Galco leather came to my rescue with a split sling, and a connector between the split to adjust on your upper arm. Viola, the Safari Ching Sling. I've gone to the range with it, and it works fine. Here is a pic from the Galco wehbsite, showing the Safari sling in use:

Here is a pic of the Garand with the Galco sling and a military style sling with it:

Friday, September 21, 2007


One thing I’ve noticed about the blog biz: It’s a good idea to write something every day. For one thing I owe to my HORDES of loyal fans and readers that would universally slit their wrists, en-masse. All of them! Well, both. (Is ‘two’ still considered ‘en masse’ if they act in concert?) The real reason is for me. To keep me in the habit of writing. Lots of blogs die a lonely death when the author loses interest, and you lose interest and the writing isn’t a habit. A habit can push your through times of low interest, and then the bug strikes again. Yay.

But how do I keep the subject matter fresh and interesting for YOU, the reader? I DON’T This is for me. And it’s going to appear repetitive as I have this internal dialogue with myself, trying to convince myself one way or another. So their may be more than one post on subjects like, ".308 or .30-30, which way should I go?..." And you may or may not sense which way the internal barometer of Thunderbolt opinion changed, but rest assured, it did.

In fact that is gonna come up here soon. Been thinking about the "bolt action hunting rifle with a 10x scope" on my wish list, and trying to refine the details down, plus I go back and forth on the some of the critical details where I have to choose one feature OVER another, and can’t have my cake, and eat it too. Well, the blog serves as my notes. I might forget something and have to refer back. I thought of this stuff cuz of Kim Du Toit reminding me: "You know, everyone should own a rifle that you can use to really get out there, with confidence."

Well, so far I've kept it up pretty good. Except for when I went on vacation I've post something nearly every day. Nearly.

Update: fixed my horrible spelling of 'Repitition'

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

gun registration

I am against the gov't starting a gun registration system. Tracking what guns are where amoungst the law abiding has lead to bad outcomes in history when the tracking and registration turns to restriction and confiscation.

But another idea I am mulling over I haven't necessarily rejected out of hand. Gun owner registration. Once you are a registered shottist, you can own any firearm, and as many as you desire. You can even choose to get the registry on your 21st birthday and then never ever get a weapon. In fact, that should be encouraged. Regulate the actor, not the object. If we got gun banners to think about the actor, the gunman, the criminal and the crime, and not the means to the crime, THAT would be something. [And when there, maybe we can apply to the EVIL SUV. You never hear, "careless driver plows over pedestrian" anymore, its "SUV plows over pedestrian", unless it is a regular car, then they still might say 'careless driver' . If a pedstrian is hit by a hybrid car the headline reads "Oil exec damages hybrid car with elbow in attempt to increase global warming and his profits."]

To get the license you take a shooting course, get a provincial license, you practice and pass a competency test on gun handling, marksmanship, and shoot/no-shoot scenarios. Once passed you get the full license. You can borrow a licensed shooters firearm for practice too. That sort of thing.

This all leads to "why?" Why register ANYTHING to do with shooting? Well, maybe to placate the gun grabbers that insist we meet them on the middle ground (I think we are way past middle and deep into their territory already, but...) Once a registry is in place maybe they'll shut up for once. And maybe playful monkeys will fly out of my butt in order to charm rich, generous super-models into liking me.

No, a better thing such a registry would accomplish would be a convenience for the gun owners. No waiting period would be necessary, the NICS check would be easy to check against your license number once cross checked with a photo ID. Commit a felony of get sent to the nuthouse and your number get's flagged.

And registration would also assume that you can carry concealed, if you desire, making the US a Shall-Issue nation. You passed the test already. Why not?

The more I think about it, the more I think of ways this new system could/would be abused by anti-gun types in the future. The license fee could get inflated into the thousands of dollars, the class and test to pass could take 8 years and cost as much as a college tuition. And we don't make a Journalist pass a test to publish something, or make a preacher get a license to conduct a roadside sermon, or charge you fees before you get the full protection against warrantless searches. Naw, the current system is still a little constrained, and it is a little wonky, but no NEW regulatory system can be tacked on to make it better. Better to just peel off the current layers of onion rind of gov't regulation as we go, see if we can't get to a REAL happy medium.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NRA Range is a bust

Went to the NRA range with MBtGE yesterday. It was closed for some event. I KNEW I shoulda checked the calendar before going out there. Dangit!

But the range up he street is open. Blue Ridge Arsenal, just head down rt 50 west from the NRA, and just past rt 28. It was the first place I shot my revolver, years ago, when I worked out that way.

Not too bad, shooting wise. I still am not happy with an Double Action shooting with that revolver. Pulls too far right. My Single Action is a bit more consistent. More practice always needed.

My buddy, MBtGE, brought a couple items I hadn't tried before. A Beretta .25 and a 5 shot Brazilian .38 revolver with a short barrel. Maybe three inches. And Brazilian is right. Shooting that thing was about as pleasant as ripping out your short hairs with strips of cloth dipped in hot wax. That .38 made a very noticeable flame burst out the barrel. I could feel the warmth. And it had NO rear sight. I didn't aim it, I guessed it. Probably couldn't reliably hit anything beyond bad breath range. I'd hate to have to rely on a gun like that to save my life, but I guess it would be better than pointing a pack of cigarettes at a bad guy.

The Beretta as a bit more fun. Teeny tiny .25 caliber centerfire cartridges. The trigger was spongy, but it still hit what I pointed at. Darn cute little thing. Naturally, it is an underpowered round, but so is the .380 I covet. The coolest thing is, MBtGE brought the gun into the range in his ankle holster. I had no idea he was wearing it, and couldn't tell he was even after he informed me of it. Here's a pic of a similar Beretta, at any rate:

Guns Magazine

Someone on another blog linked to Guns Magazine having posted a few of their archived magazines online. I love looking at old stuff like that. Gun articles from 50 years ago. Just looking at the ads from way back when dirt was young and rocks were soft can hold my attention for hours (A British Sten or Enfield for less than $40!!! I guess that was about a weeks pay then, so the Enfield for that isn’t far off.)

One article was about the then new interest in .50 caliber rounds as a sniper cartridge. Ah, everything old is new again. And then you could buy a single shot .50 cal surplus anti-tank weapon for about $150. It was determined that the rifles were heavy and clunky and kicked like a mule, but very accurate up to a mile away. Pretty much today’s verdict.

Lots of articles on women shooting, but there was some mixed signals there to a 21st Century reader. Nice that they were trying to get women interested in the sport by highlighting successful woman shooters, but the prose describing them was a bit dated, mentioning that, "they could whip up some ammo just like whipping up some cake batter with their electric mixer" kinda stuff. Jeez O'peas.

Everyone shoots pistols one handed like they had never heard of Gunsite or the Weaver stance (well I guess they hadn’t) and some Marine Colonel was bad mouthing bolt action rifles in a way that Colonel Jeff Cooper would find laughable.

Monday, September 17, 2007

new blog

I just found a new blog. Well, new to me. There are postings there from 2002, so it is ancient, by blog standards. Dirt-was-new and rocks-were-soft old days old.

It called The Other Side of Kim du Toit

Ok, so he is one of the biggest EVAH, of the gun bloggers, and inventor of Buy Ammo Day, November 19th. I just found him. New to me.

I found his blog seeking reviews of the Marlin 1894CS chambered for .357. What can I say, I'm enamored with a few models out there...

And there was NO .357 magnum rounds as Bass Pro, today. There was enough 9mm to use as fill-gravel, but no .357. Except that SIG stuff. Pah!

Anyway, plenty of new gun reading material to go over. New. To me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hunter Safety Class, last day

Today, the last day of Hunter Education, there was less lecture, more practical stuff.

The lecture finished up the bit on trapping and there was some bow hunting info, too. The trapping section was very hands on, as the trapper had a plethora of traps to pass around to try and catch our fingers in. Plus he had examples of pelts he had accumulated. Lots of pelts. Bobcat, fox, raccoon, coyote...

Now I'm a child of the 70's. I got the full indoctrincation, from Bambi, to the Endangered Species Act, to Ranger Rick magazine. Killing critters you don't then eat is bad, mmm'kay? At the back of old 1940's Boy Scout handbooks there were ads for camping equipment, shoes, and, yes rifles. One ad showed a kid shooting a bobcat and being congratulated for ridding the woods of a dangerous pest. That was laughable to me in the 1980's. Because I knew the score as a teenager. I knew then that bobcats and foxes and such would be extinct by the time I was 40 years old. Well, I'm almost 40 now, and coyote are a pest, foxes are plentiful, and there have been black bear sighted inside the District of Columbia. When I was a kid I never saw any wild animals bigger than squirrels except for the occasional dead possum in the road, but only once a year or so. Now I see a couple of NEW roadkills every week, and I see 3 woodchucks and 2 deer nearly everyday on my commute, and the area is much more built up than when I was a kid. Time and experience certainly has made me change my attitude about wildlife. I am still interested in conservation, but not the 'seal humans and wildlife off from each other forevermore' that was pushed on us as kids during the evil evil 70's. And it might not hurt to get a bobcat pelt for myself now and again.

Now poaching and market-hunting, I haven't gone soft on those less-than-savory practices.

After the lecture, there was a nature walk and a fence-negotiation drill. The nature walk showed various decoys and whether they were in shoot or no-shoot situation, they showed how hard it is to even NOTICE a big man in a gilly suit, and they went over some basic tracking of simulated blood trails. Fence-negotiation is just firearms handling and how to get over a fence without blowing yer darn fool head off.

The worst part about this is how woefully unprepared kids are for gun-handling. They just cannot get it into their heads not to point that one end at stuff, even inadvertently. I'd recommend that kids get a lot more range time and a lot more gun-handling time. Even simulated gun-handly. Tam from View from the Porch gave me an idea that you can use on kids. Have them treat EVERYTHING with a trigger as if it is a firearm. Bottle of Windex glass cleaner? Good practice on muzzle control and keeping your finger off the bang switch. Garden hose and a dirty car? If a kid wants to get good enough to go shooting more often he has to point that hose only at legitimate targets (dirty cars, not little brothers) and he has to think about fields of fire and that is behind his target. A kid can be given a bottle of Round-Up to attack weeds on the walk. As an added bonus, while the kid simulates safe firearms handling, parents get a lot of crap cleaned up for free.

I hope the kids are closely supervised on their outings.

After that, a quick jaunt to the range to shoot .22 rifles 5 times. I didn't do too bad, and the shots at the end were better than the first of the 5. All in the paint, at any rate. The sights were those target shooter peep sites and circle at the fore end.

The test was easy. Fifty questions, multiple choice. I might have been able to pass that test even without the class, just cold. Lots of silly answers that can be eliminated quickly: "Conservation is defined as: A) A chat between two people... B) etc." That one made me laugh out loud.

I think most everyone passed. We got our card and everything. Now I just have to apply for the hunting license.

UPDATE: Within half and hour of posting this, I quick step through of the online form and now I have a hunting license on the way. Less than $30.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Atlantic Guns

I went to the Silver Spring store of Atlantic Guns after breakfast today. It is a twin to the Rockville store, the layout and displays are very similar. That probably makes it easier on the sales clerks, if they work both stores.

I did notice that it is hard to get the attention of the clerks. When I went to the Rockville store weeks ago I thought it was because they were a bit busy, but I was the only one in the store for a good while today, and they acted like they were alone. Now I like Potomac Trading, but I am not remiss to buying stuff from Atlantic Guns, I decided to play a game once I noticed they were doing the 'soft sell.' They only had to acknowledge my existence and I'd have bought something. I saw a range bag that I could have used, that full length bore cleaning rod, or even that one double barrelled shotgun I saw. Nothing special, and about $140. I'm not saying that a salesman should have hovered over me, but a mere "Good morning, let us know if you are looking for something," would have worked. I know that gun store customers like people to mind their own business, but not in a social pariah fashion.

Ah well.

I'll go back and probably buy something someday. But my enthusiasm isn't there now.

They had a gold plated Desert Eagle there. That was interesting. One of those .50 cal S&W snub nose revolvers, too, in an "Anit-Grizzly" kit. Kits comes with other survival equipment. Like a knife. I saw a .30-06 from Ruger in a left handed bolt config. Perhaps one day....

Friday, September 14, 2007


The anti civil rights types have a new gun target to loathe. Cheap handguns, again. I mean their most recent crusade was against scary looking black rifles that they called Assault Rifles but couldn’t properly define one way or another. Other than "scary lookin’". Folks aren’t buying the Assault Weapons Bans recently. Not even in Maryland, one of the big 7 for anti-gun regions (MD, DC, CA, NY, NJ, MA, and IL) which within the last year actually rejected a new AWB (assault weapons ban). If you can’t get traction there as a gun banner you need to shift gears, and the previous fad was against Evil Handguns. It looks like they might turn back on them again, these quashers of civil rights. The phrase back in the day was Saturday Night Specials. Inexpensive handguns that were often poorly made, but TODAY’s cheap handguns are decently made. I’ve been reading range reports on the Hi-Point 9mm and folks tend to like it when they get the ammo the gun likes to shoot. SayUncle gets the hat tip for the heads up.

And the pistols Hi-point goes retail for sometimes less than $200. A good cache gun. And it is plastic, so less rusting in a buried WTSHTF TEOTWAWKI cache. Made in Dayton Ohio. The one i would get in order to keep ammo inventory simple is the .380 to go with my future purchase of the Colt 1908 Pocket Hammerless. Retails for $109. Might as well get 2 at that price.

You see, they are cheap, and you meth and crack dealers, being profit driven, understand the value of inexpensive firearms. The anti-gun types can't succeed in the villifying "Scary Gun-nut Kooks with Scary Black Rifles" so they will turn tactics again to "Scary Criminals with Saturday Night Specials." No thought to families trying to protect themselves on a budget. Anti-gun types are sure the police will protect threatened families and they won't need guns.

I'm thinking how could something that cheap, brand new, be even a little bit desireable for me, personally. Quality must suffer, right? But Shooting Times did a review and called it reliable. Hmmm. Not a first choice, but better than nothing.

I'd put them on the tertiary list. After primary and secondary list acquisitions are accumulated. Unless something changes my mind in the meantime. Like trying one out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

hunting ed. day 2

The Second day of class informed me Sunday's class is EIGHT HOURS!


Instructors went over First Aid, trapping, and survival.

I realized a hunter's kit is essentially a bug out bag, BoB, backpack with basic necessities. Which makes sense, as you can get stuck out there and need to survive until you unstick yourself. At least society doesn't usually collapse while you are out hunting.

Speaking of which, I need to fine tune mine a bit more. BoB that is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hunter Edumacation Course 1

I went to the Maryland Hunter Education brought to us by the State Department of Natural Resources course this week. A class yesterday, again tonight, and one more follow up course on Sunday and a test, and that class is satisfies the safety course requirements in all 50 states and Canada if I want to get a license elsewhere. I hope I pass the test.

The course is held at an Isaak Walton League chapter and conducted by members of the local club. The instructors were stereotypical hunting types. Clearly not city bred, middle-aged men that look like they’ve been hunting since they were 8 years old, and probably were. They had an obvious happy enthusiasm for hunting and the outdoors and appeared genuinely pleased to impart their knowledge and positive experience on to others. As you’d expect, the course stressed safety above all else. They touched on the 4 rules, but they concentrated most on rule #2. Never point the muzzle at anything you wouldn’t want to destroy, mentioning THAT one several times. Which is all and good, but I like to hear all 4 rules, and the mention that bad things happen when you violate 2 of them.

They course also stressed hunting ethics, and that was also nicely treated. Very thorough. You could tell the instructors were probably a bit wilder in their youth, but had a Come-To-Jebus moment at some time in their lives that rounded over their rough edges, leaving them in a state of calm, responsible fortitude, and reflected in their conduct. This responsibility bug was contagious in their instruction, I hope. It certainly made the class enjoyable.

The class was made up of a cross section. There was a gentleman from India, and one from Africa, it seemed, from their accents. There were a LOT of kids taking the class, too, including girls. The only thing missing from the class was non-English speakers and adult women. And there were about 40 pupils, at least. Almost too crowded.

Class on the first day covered firearm types, and was a pretty basic overview. Things like the difference between Single Action and Double action and what a pump shotgun is and what a break-action shotgun is, that sort of thing. Someone with less exposure would certainly take more away from that part, but it wasn’t useless, and their WERE people with a lot less firearm experience than me. Like the kids. And the Indian gentleman. And like good instructors everywhere they tried to engage the class by asking them to answer question. My only complaint about the questions was, though I was sure I knew the answer, I wasn’t sure what answer they were looking for. But they were veterans at actually DOING that Q&A that I don’t think they would even dream of letting a pupil feel stupid about a wrong answer. I admittedly DID learn a little more about muzzleloading rifles that I didn’t know before, like how to render them safe and how to safely check if they are loaded and to safely UNLOAD one, especially after a hangfire. I hadn’t considered some of the unique permutations of the muzzleloading experience until this class.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Movie: Panic in Year Zero/Last Man on Earth

Saw a double feature thanks to Netflix, of classic old B movies. Black and White stuff. Classics. For B+ movies.

The Last Man on Earth was starring Vincent Price in THE proto zombie movie. It was the proto Omega-Man movie, too, where a single immunized human goes up against photo sensitive plague victims that are difficult to kill. (vampire-zomibes. I don't think the viewing public was ready for just regular zombies yet.) Their symptoms were vampire like, ie: hating their reflection, allergic to garlic smells, and healing very fast so killing them required a stake in the heart. All side effects of an airborne disease that float over from Europer. This was in 1965, all bad stuff starts in Yoorip back then. But the infected shambled about like zombies. Vincent didn’t even bother with firearms, just wooden stakes. The first time he has a gun he has to take it from a zombie-vampire, and IT is a vest-pocket gun like the Colt 1908 mouse gun. It turns out that some of the zombie-vampires have developed half a cure/vaccine for their ailment, but their bogeyman is Vincent Price, who, to them, is a relentless monster that prowls the city during the day when they are vulnerable, killing them while they sleep. The horror... They eventually rise up and chase down Vincent with a plethora of surplus Russian SMGs like PPSh-41 'Sashas' and also M1 Garands. He still takes out 5 or 6 with the little mouse gun before they corner him. With an abandoned city to pillage in the daytime I have no idea why Vincent didn’t arm himself better.

The other movie was Panic in Year Zero. A family of four with a crotchety no-nonsense dad jump in the car with a small trailer to go camping. On their way to the campsite LA is nuked behind them. Society falls apart pretty quickly after that and the family survives under a very serious patriarch. It goes from "nuke scare" movie to "survive the teenage hoodlums" movie at that point. The Russians aren’t the bad guys so much as those damn Teens with their Jack Kerouac beatnik/greaser angle, driving in their Jalopies and listening to that long-hair Elvis. Kids today.

Anyway, when Dad decides they can’t go back to LA, they need to go to the campsite to hole up, he has a level head for post apocalypse survival. He finds a small town off the beaten path and buys $200 dollars worth of groceries and then goes to the hardware store for guns. He has to owe the hardware store owner because he needs the guns NOW and the guy won't accept an out of town check and the local constabulary have a law that saws they have to ok gun purchases (criminal records check) and that takes a day. Well this is nuclear war and Dad doesn't have a day. So there is a scuffle. He get's out with a shotgun, rifle or 2, and a magnesium alloy 1911 style .45. He fills up gas and kerosene next at a gas station that is already inflating prices to an unheard of $3 a gallon. He clocks the gas station attendant and leaves a $10 instead of the $90. When they get to the campsite he tears out the bridge over the creek and eschews the thin skinned aluminum trailer for a cave to protect against fallout. That crotchety dad was a no-nonsense adult. I hope those whiny kids of his learned a thing or two. The Mom was a bit weepy, too, and needed to realize the direness of the situation quicker.

Monday, September 10, 2007

.45 Comparisons

One day, I will be in the market for a .45 ACP. Choosing is the hard part. Requirements are, 5 inch + barrel, and ambidextrous. (How hard is it to retrofit an ambidextrous safety? I saw the parts at Cylinder and Slide and was wondering if I need to pay a gunsmith to do that, or can I do it myself). I might as well get one new, and if I did it will be my first new gun. Gotta throw a bone to the manufacturers eventually, instead of haunting the used gun market.

I don't know enough to have any more opinion. I hear that beaver tails are bad, and that there us nothing wrong with them. That grip safeties are bad, and that if you have one and shoot 100 rounds through it you will never notice the grip safety again. Materials preference, steel, plastic, unobtanium alloy... (my preference leans toward steel) Consider this a solicitation. Full length guide rod is good for super accuracy, but it can jam. Single action only, or double action. I dunno.

My starter list to think about, based on respected manufacturers

Glock G21, 13 rounds.

Colt O1970CM Special Combat Government or XSE (only $950) is probably highest on my list. Because it is Colt.

Springfield Armory Operator (nice and full featured) or Mil-Spec (good, too, and only $700, sometimes as low as $600 something, and I'd have to customize with an $80 safety here, a $70 hammer there, a $90 trigger there), or the XD Tactical (plastic, like a Glock).

Smith and Wesson makes a 1911 style like this Tactical Rail SW1911 and are the 'forgotten' 1911 clone. It looks like they might start at north of $800. The Smith and Wesson M&P .45 is polymer and are a little too short in the barrel department.

There are many other 1911 clones I'd also consider. Kimber stands out. Taurus, a Brazlilian company, (I DO like that country's waxing innovations) is full featured, ambidextrous, but at a budget price of $700.

Of course, dreaming of all these .45s without any test firing may be a moot point. Ideal on paper may fall short in the way it fits my hand, or a half dozen other unforeseen details that might make it unsatisfactory. And value for my money is a factor as always. I'm not going to skimp and get a poorly made gun, but I won't drop $2.5k on one either. I have a feeling that out-of-the-box $600 plain Jane Mil-Spec will shoot as well as I can shoot it, and function reliably. If I was shooting 400+ rounds a week through my pistol, with good coaches, with a goal of entering and winning shooting competitions, THEN a $2k+ weapon might me appropriate, but that is not my goal now.

Help. Which one, and why?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cocked and Locked

Of the many things that have shaped my opinion of future weapon selection, either by reading of practice, is that Single Action pistols are probably the way to go. If you are defending your life you want the speed and accuracy SA offers.

There is a small compromise, where you use a Double Action combination pistol. The hammer is down and the first shot is fired double action, but when the slide racks back after the first the weapon is in single action for the rest of magazine. The chances of accurate firing on that first one is reduced, but it MAY hit, and it certainly may make a goblin you are trying to put down a bit more nervous after that bang. But I can see why police officers, accustomed to DA revolvers originally, would prefer their old habits not get them in trouble, but also not require slide racking in an shooting situation. Cops aren’t known for first shot accuracy. And too many are known for poor 2nd through 14th accuracy.

I am not sure how I feel for that compromise, but I am also wary of the single action alternative. To be fast when action is called for it is necessary to keep your weapon holstered in Condition 1. Jeff Cooper is where I learned the Condition numbers from, and Condition 1 for a single action is round in the chamber, hammer cocked, and safety on. That part about the hammer being cocked and relying on a mechanical safety is what will take some getting used to. And TRAINING. 1911 style .45 have a grip safety you have to be squeezing to fire it, so it has a double safety going on, and the pistol should be safe in a holster, certainly, where the biggest risk for a negligent discharge, perhaps, is when drawing it from the holster and letting your finger touch the trigger, violating the 3rd Gun Safety rule (keep your finger off the trigger until your sites are on the target.)

But Condition 1 is one of the reason that phrase, ‘cocked and locked’ comes from. ‘Lock and Load’ is a rifle term, where you engage the safety and then insert the magazine. Of course with a Garand it is funny. You have to load it before you engage the safety, generally, but and order of ‘Load and Lock!’ sounds funny. Though why you don't just engage the safety the moment you pull the bolt back to load it, I have no idea

But if you keep a 1911 at a higher safety number you’d have to cock the hammer manually if in Condition 2, or rack the slide if in Condition 3.

When I was in the Navy, in peacetime in friendly ports, the .45 was kept in Condition 4, chamber empty, no magazine inserted. Much safer condition unless you actually need to USE the weapon to fend off bad guys running up the brow.

Friday, September 7, 2007

NRA HQ Range Report

I went to the NRA shooting range at Fairfax Virginina NRA HQ, this week. I wanted to check it out. Range rental is $12 an hour for members. Not too shabby. A yearly open-range membership is close to $300, so if i wanted to spend that kind of money I'd just use Gilbert's nearby.

To use the range you have to take a short open book test about range safety and sing a waiver. They sell ammo, cleaning supplies and targets there.

While there I wanted to get some time in with the .S&W 686 .357 revolver. I need more practice with handguns, and the rifle has been taking up a lot of my time recently, so this was a nice change. MBtGE was there with a bunch of handguns and I got to try a S&W 9mm pistol he's had since 1979. I did much better shooting with that one that I thought, but it was a Single Action semi-auto and most of my revolver practice was Double Action. So that was fun.

With the 686 it was not bad, but not good, shooting. I need lots more practice. Recently I found a shooter error analysis target picture for lefties, on a website called Aaargh, The Home of Jonah's Two Military Guys. Jonah is Jonah Goldberg, a proud and serious pundit/columnist for the Los Angeles Times. The two military guys saved Jonah's life in the Nam or something. I'm fuzzy on the details. Apparently they are the go-to guys for this powerful Beltway talking-head whenever he needs the military angle on something.

Here is the analysis:

Here is a typical target for my evening:

And that is aiming dead center, Double Action. I pull a bit to the right, clearly. It's not the sights, as MBtGE doesn't have the same issue, and on single action and on a good steady shot I do much better. The Analysis says that finger placement was wrong and that hadn't occurred to me at the time. What DID occur to me was Pushing and Jerking. I can only rarely surprise myself with the trigger squeeze and when I go I hit very well (those are the halfway decent hits in this group.) When I try to shoot the 'seventh' bullet in the six shooter I see the push and the flinch, too. I need to work on that with dry fire and live fire drills to correct that. I need to count too so I don't keep shooting after six and actually do something useful like reload. I let that slide this time because I liked the diagnosis a dry fire was giving me. Not a good habit for the future, take a note.

Anyway, I don't think the flaw is in the trigger finger placement but with jerking hte trigger and anticipating recoil. I will keep and eye on all 3 next time out though.

These are all at 7 yards. I shoot as well or better with the rifle at 100.
Update: Hmmm, just checking old records. ALL my shots on EVERYTHING are low and right. Jerking the trigger, prolly. Not surprised by the trigger break often enough. And when I drill with snap caps I do better because my brain knows that there ain't gonna be no boom. There are 3 drills I know of. Bump Drill, Wall Drill, and Modified Russian Roulette (load one or two into a revolver, randomize, but point it down range, not at your melon.) I need more drilling and more drills.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Book: Art of the Rifle

by Jeff Cooper.

Ok, I've been on a Cooper kick. I read ALL the Cooper Commentaries available online. In doing that, I became interested in a hard copy of the same, and was not disappointed. Online, is a collection of individual magazine commentaries, detailing what was then current events, and touching on subjects that interested the Colonel at that point in time for the most part relevent to shooting. This format leads to repitition. That repitition is GOOD. Jeff Cooper was a teacher and he'd appreciate the utility of drilling important points home with reptitition. Just reading the Commentaries inadvertently got me to memorize the 4 safety rules: 1) All guns are always loaded. 2) Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. 3) Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. 4) Identify your target, and what is behind it.

You get a lot of what's online in the books, just better presented. Think of the Commentaries as a digest of the books, and the books are the originals, and made out of paper instead of 1's and 0's.

The first book of Jeff Cooper's I read was Art of the Rifle. In it he expounds on the value of the rifle as the individual tool of power, and it is where I got the term Jovian Thunderbolt. The book is about rifle shooting, not rifles. It goes on about targetting, improvised and classical shooting positions, sling use, and gun handling. And in everything I've seen about Cooper it stresses safety and shooters mindset. It isn't a long book, it's not chock-a-block with Sea-Stories and Hunting Tales, but I am glad I bought it for the wealth of information distilled into a small space. I will re-read this book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ammo scarcity

You know how ammo is scarce and expensive now? Many factors. Some erroneously blame the war for it all (Lake City makes ammo for the military and they can produce 1.5 billion rounds and the military is using 1 billion annually right now, so the story goes, so the military doesn't want for bullets). More accurately is a HUGELY increased Chinese demand for base metals driving up prices, plus police demand has quandrupled in the last 7 years.

But, while the war is a minor cause (they need base metal too and are driving demand, as well) it will also be a bonanza one day. As long as demand is high, more ammo will be made, and that will lower prices as production lines world wide ramp up. Most importantly, one day the war WILL end, and there will be the increased supply from ramped up civilian makers and a crapton of surplus ammo out there. Prices on 7.62x51, and others, will go through the floor.

I'll get a case then. Two. Dozen.

As an aside, there are warnings about reloading 7.62 brass, especially for the M1 Garand. When I get into handloading/reloading I will make rounds for the revolver, a bolt action rifle, but what about OTHER weapons? Is there any reason NOT to handload or reload for a .380 automatic or a .45 ACP?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Zombie Round

Me and MBtGE had a discussion on what the best anti-Zombie round is. The argument is over whether you need .30 caliber like NATO 7.62 to be sure a head hit puts them down, or whether you can get away with .223 or even .22LR.

Obviously, super-reliable, high capacity semi-auto is a pre-requisite.

Slow moving masses that present their unarmored melon as a target readily is a help, so you concentrate on volume of accurate fire. I think the bench rest shooter, if in a good position, and woodchuck hunters are going to be kings of the ‘battlefield.’ And .223 will be the round of choice, it being more than adequate to disrupt an undead skull, and easier to pack large quantities. On the rare occasion a .223 doesn’t put Zed down, and a .308 or .30-06 would, the extra round of .223 needed still puts you ahead of the same weight of .30 required.

Of course the .30 will do the job very well, and if you have 12,000 rounds of it at your remote house on stilts, ready for a Zombie Apocalypse, you probably don’t have to sell off the ammo and convert to .223.

But will a .22LR do the job? Probably, but at shorter ranges. Good backup ammo that you’d have anyway in large lots. Use the .223 on the long distance ones, but if you are in your tree-stand, use .22LR when they are surrounding the trunk.

Something to think about… dispatch them at long ranges, if possible, to have less stink when they rot.

And night vision and spare batteries will be critical for the night watch. People better get used to sleeping with the pop of anti-zombie sniper fire. Suppressor might be in order for quality of life issues and to avoid attracting more zombie or bandit attention.

Might as well use a fine Ruger product. M-1 carbines have been recommended in the past because of their cheapness, but the cartridge it uses is oddball and they are getting more expensive all the time. A Ruger Mini-14 and 10/22 is cheaper and just as reliable.

And remember, this is just for the zombie head shots. I know other weapons will be needed in the Zombie Apocalypse. Like to bring down a migratory bird or rabbit for dinner. And to keep freeloaders off my porch.

MBtGE is leaning match grade .308. If you got zombies coming you want to off them as far as possible away when you head shot them so they don't stink up the place as they decompose.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Job Search

Well, I like my job, and the people I work with, but I am sub-contracting out to that company from my home company. My home company got bought up by some private equity hoo-hah, and now the new management decided that almost no one gets a raise. Fine. That's their perogative, but from my perspective that business model is a little 'off.'

You see, in the computer solutions contracting biz, the 11th Commandment is "Thou Shalt be Billable..." I am. 100%. I work 40 hours a week (I have to get special permission from high up in the prime contractor hierarchy in order to bill overtime.) and all 40 is money for my home company. I, and people like me, pay the bills for rent at the home office, the salaries of management, the receptionists salary, the sewer bill... And if I leave, the spot on the contract sit on doesn't 'belong' to my home company; chances are someone else will get that money when they fill that spot, so home company is SOL (sure outta luck.) And all because my home company didn't want to give me 1 dollar an hour from the 3 dollar increase the contract gave them this year. So, trying to keep 1 dollar means they lose about $100 an hour. For 40 hours a week. Until 2011. Or approximately $800,000. Well good luck to them. I don't understand their reasoning, but then again I am not a CEO type.

And I work with lots of other sub contractors, all from many different companies, and all of whom get a bounty if THEIR home company hires me. So my co-workers are selling benefits packages to me, trying to get me to submit my resume to them. I am. I have even gotten a few nibbles since Thursday.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and the reason for this is the whole List I want to get stuff on. There is a gun show coming up in the fall and I'd like to have some folding, walking-around money.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Marksmanship and Sniper Doctrine

In college, a lot of my military buddies were Marine and Army types. I never wanted to be an infantry type. I preferred an airplane or a ship. Less mud that way. And bugs. That didn’t mean I didn’t think about infantry strategy and tactics. As a hobby, and with my History Major studies. The late 80’s and early 90’s was all about Manuever Warfare. And we saw it demonstrated in the first Iraq war to great effect. But even success can be improved. Me and my buddies had late night bull sessions long into the night about improving strategy and tactics.

I lighted upon a book about a single Marine named Carlos Hathcock. The infantry guys didn’t seem as interested in it as me. That book and articles about Israeli snipers gave me plenty to draw on in the bull sessions (and it was bull, we were 20 year olds with no real world military experience, just book learning.) My arguments were for a whole platoon or even company size unit of snipers in a Fleet Marine Battalion. A squad can take down the effectiveness of a fire base by shooting at the right place on an artillery piece and vulnerable spots on helicopters on the ground in a minute and then withdraw. It’s a huge force multiplier. And even if you didn’t train that many snipers, shooing 3 round bursts of 5.56 mm ammo wasn’t really hitting anything with bullets two and three, and that the services have dropped the ball on marksmanship since World War II. A rifle firing semi-auto with a .30 caliber round had a value on the battlefield at least with the more elite troops. The infantry guys I was arguing with were all about volume of fire for suppression then flanking an objective. And nothing else. Their counters to my arguments was about the high expense of sniper training being prohibitive in the kind of numbers I was considering. Good marksmanship training would be expensive too, cheaper than sniper school on an individual basis, but with the sheer numbers of recruits contemplated, the cost would be as high. And .30 caliber is heavier, a troop can carry twice as much .223 for suppression work.

Another bull session topic was the unpopularity of the Beretta 9mm. That the gun broke (we were told) too easily and the size round didn’t have the stopping power you’d want on the battlefield. We all mostly agreed on this point, but didn’t have a consensus on any replacement.

We all left school and went out separate ways.

It’s now 2007 and a lot of arguments have actually been implemented! Hmm, whoda thunk it? Am I a genius? No, but I am a lucky guesser that was just picking up the undercurrents and rumblings going on inside the military regarding doctrine.

Sniper schools were growing from before our amateurish bull sessions. There are times when a whole platoon of snipers is available to a Battalion Commander. In the second Iraq war, soldiers on the attack do want a semi-auto .30 gun like the M1A and are carrying them, and engaging the enemy at longer ranges with aimed fire, even without snipers. And there are 2 types of people with sidearms in Iraq, I hear. Those with a .45 ACP and those that want one. Did my Oracle like prophesizing become doctrine? Not quite. In defensive engagements, and meeting engagements, in the dark especially, contact is often very close and volume fire with .223 is wholly desirable. And the military very effectively deploys fire supremacy. Guys that I’ve talked to that have fired both prefer the SAR (.223) over the old M-60 (7.62) for automatic fire, (mainly because the M-60 gives off too much gas when fired) if they are super serious about shooting full auto they want the M2 machine gun (.50 caliber). The M2 is a design older than their grandfathers.

There is talk of a compromise round. 6.5 or 6.8 millimeters or so. More stop than a 5.56 (.223) and lighter to carry and a 7.62 (.308). The military is still testing so I don’t know what the future of that round will be, but changing calibers and the issued infantryman rifle is a BIG DEAL and the decision won’t be taken lightly.