Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Calling All Razorbacks

The State of Arkansas is in a jam, and only state legal residents willing to volunteer can get it out. What kind of jam? And volunteer for what?

A traffic jam. Specifically, on Death Row; and volunteer, to witness the executions.

First, two answers before you ask the questions that are already on your mind:

  1. Yes, you really have to be domiciled in Arkansas; and,
  2. No, you can only witness, you can’t throw the switch.

(We asked). Heh.

The State has eight murderers queued up to pay their debt to society this month, and is plumb out of death penalty witnesses.

The state of Arkansas is struggling to find enough volunteers to witness eight death row inmate executions scheduled in April. Witnesses are required to ensure that the execution is carried out according to law, but so far volunteers are scarce.

“It’s a very sobering thought,” says Bill Booker acting as substitute president of the Little Rock Rotary Club.

Why? How is this different from swatting a mosquito?

At Tuesday’s meeting Booker says after a presentation by Wendy Kelley, Director of the Department of Correction, she casually asked the audience to volunteer as citizen witnesses for the state’s upcoming executions. “Temporarily there was a little laugh from the audience because they thought she might be kidding,” says Booker.  “It quickly became obvious that she was not kidding.”

Hey, if Ms. Kelley is still having trouble, just put an ad on Craigslist. That’s how Soros does it when he needs warm bodies. In Arkansas, you’ll probably have plenty of warm bodies turning out to watch other warm bodies become cold bodies.

Volunteer witnesses, hell’s bells: you could probably sell tickets and plug any gaps in the corrections officers’ retirement fund.

Eight inmates are scheduled to receive the death penalty between April 17th and 27th.

State law says six to twelve citizen volunteers must be present at the executions in order for them to take place, but right now the state is short volunteers.

You have to wonder, Arkansas and all, if an idiot and a banjo were involved in the writing of this lunkheaded law. “Sorry, Jethro, your execution doesn’t count, on account of we was a witness short. So we’re gon’ hafta execute you again.”

“I could understand not even wanting to read about these occurrences let alone have to be in the room or watching,” says Michelle Frost, a Little Rock resident.  Frost is not sure how she feels about the death penalty, but is sure she would not want to witness an execution.

Say it with us, kids: “Mercy to murderers is violence to victims.”

Solomon Graves, spokesperson for the Department of Correction, says they are taking an informal approach to find those witnesses and are confident they will be able to do so by the set dates.

Solomon Graves! What a great name, one worthy of Dickens (or at least, Rowling), and bedamned if it isn’t the guy’s real name.

Marianne McKinney supports the death penalty.  She says “they made their decisions and have to suffer the consequences.”  McKinney believes the inmates on death row have been rightly convicted and would not mind witnessing an execution. “I know it may seem cold, but we need justice on our streets to protect us,” says McKinney.  “I don’t think it’d bother me at all.”

Your head’s in the right place, Marianne.

The Department of Correction says nothing prohibits a volunteer from witnessing more than one execution.

Collect ’em all! Some day it will be a category in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Attorney General’s office released a statement saying: “She’s fully committed to working with the Governor and the Department of Correction to ensure that the law is followed as executions are carried out.”

We still like the tickets idea. If that’s not in the law now, somebody light a fire under the legislature.

Finally, for any Razorback readers:

If you want to sign up to volunteer as a witness you can write to the DOC Director.

Arkansas Department of Correction
Attn: Director Wendy Kelley
PO Box 8701
Pine Bluff, AR 71611

via State Needs Volunteers to Watch Inmate Executions – Story.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Box Trucks

Welcome to New York, where guns are outlawed, but outlaws still can cut a swath (white arrows) through peaceable citizens with relative impunity.

The nephew of model Tyson Beckford was found guilty of manslaughter and other charges Friday in the death of an MTA bus driver in which he was drunkenly driving a stolen truck.

If you haven’t heard of Tyson Beckford (who has?), he’s famous for being handsome in a black thug way, which apparently gets hybristophiliac women to unlimber their charge cards and buy overpriced clothing. It’s a talent the market values highly.

Domonic Whilby, 24, was found not guilty by the Manhattan jury of the top charge of murder in the death of driver William Pena, who was killed on February 12, 2014.

Remember, Whilby is not a celebrity, but he’s a celebrity’s relative, which is celeb-by-proxy. In NYC, that means the laws that don’t apply to celebrities don’t apply to you, either. You get the Celeb Discount on all your crimes.

His lawyer used the interesting theory that he was so drunk he’d drunk the knowledge of right and wrong clean out of his sloping skull, and the star-struck (by proxy!) jury bought it.

Whilby drunkenly plowed a stolen truck into Pena’s bus on 14th Street after getting tossed from celeb haunt 1OAK after a night of partying with Beckford.

This article understates just how drunk Whilby was. Another article describes his condition:

Beckford, with Whilby in tow, walks right into the Chelsea hotspot past a line of people waiting to get in.

In a clip from inside the trendy establishment, Whilby is seen hugging up on a woman who seems annoyed and uninterested.

She resists his kisses and turns her head away from him as he stubbornly persists. When she eventually pushes him away, a visibly drunk Whilby backpedals into a table and knocks glasses over.

A scuffle ensues and Whilby is hauled out of the popular celebrity hangout on W. 17th St.

Whilby spent the next couple of hours loitering in the area, wandering into hotels and an apartment building, trial evidence has shown.

At one point, he tried to get into a cab that was waiting for someone else. In another instance, he passed out on a floor in the Dream Downtown hotel.

Whilby’s defense is that he was too drunk to know what he was doing.

An even earlier story has him arguing belligerently with cops after the accident: “Get out of my face.”

“He woke up, looked around and said, ‘Kill me. Shoot me. Get out of my face,’ repeatedly,” [Officer Suzanne] Kelly testified.

And the earliest one described the accident:

Pena was driving eastbound before the collision, which left another four people injured.

The two vehicles finally crunched to a stop at the intersection’s southeast corner after smashing into several parked cars, a yellow cab, a person on a scooter, sidewalk scaffolding and a subway entrance, witnesses and police said.

The scooter driver was dragged for about 50 feet but survived.

“He didn’t even brake,” said Eddie Abdelmoty, 51, of Long Island City. “My tires blew up … He went right through the red light at the end of the block.”

All of the other victims suffered non-fatal injuries as the double-length bus and box truck cut a path of devastation onto the sidewalk.

“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Michael Edwards, 34, who works security near the wreck site. “By the time I got outside police were already here..”

Whilby, the driver of the stolen 18 Rabbits Granola truck, suffered minor neck injuries in the crash, police said. He was taken into custody at the scene and later slapped with a whopping ten charges including manslaughter, two counts of grand larceny, three counts of criminal assault, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass, police said.

Back to the most recent article.

Prosecutors say he left the club wasted and hopped into a commercial truck at about 5:20 a.m.

Just to make it clear, after all the above he “hopped into” a truck that was idling at a loading dock, and took it for a joyride. He was certainly too drunk to drive, but not too drunk to steal — indicating it’s a skill closer to the core of his character.

Peña was killed instantly, and the plastered, loose and rubbery Whilby wasn’t seriously injured. His lawyers managed to stall the case for over three years, and rejected plea bargains, trusting star power to get their killer off. He was convicted of lesser charges that have the potential to jail him for 25 years, but no one expects a star-struck judge to give him more than a slap on the wrist.

Why did the club keep serving a guy so drunk he was falling down? Celebrity, natch. It’s a place celebs go to to be free of the constraints of law and society, and the management obliges. That’s why they have insurance.

Whilby sped through traffic lights and struck several parked cars before smashing into William Pena’s crosstown bus on W. 14th St.

via Model’s nephew convicted of manslaughter in MTA bus driver death – NY Daily News.

William Peña lived in New Jersey with his wife and teenage daughter, but nobody in NYFC cares about them. They’re not celebrities, nor even by proxy.

Great Special Operations: A Platoon Seizes a Fortress, 1940

We have mentioned the German airborne forces’ capture of the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael before a few times, but we’ve never explored it in depth. In this incredible special operation, an overstrength engineer platoon, 78 men, led by a first lieutenant who wasn’t even there for the bulk of the battle, captured a fortress held by a garrison of approximately 1,100 men. It was not an old, obsolete fortress, either: it was one built just a few years prior. The concrete was scarcely dry!

The place was the Belgian fort of Eben Emael, named for two villages it sat between: its function was to protect the approaches to Liége. Ir did this by puttin the crossroads at Maastricht and the Albert Canal under gunfire, especially the bridges crossing the canal and related rivers, which were natural choke points. It was well equipped with 120mm and 75mm artillery pieces and 60mm AT guns, in reinforced concrete, steel-armored casemates.

This documentary shows how the Germans used new weapons (shaped charge explosives, assault gliders) to deliver an effective, economical attack that the defenders had not even conceptualized a defense against. It has five parts, which should load and play after the first.

It was produced by a thing called the History Channel, which used to exist before it discovered that more of the sort of people who watch TV like welfare recipients do drugs were interested in Finding The Ghost of Sasquatch than the history of a global war.

There are some interesting small arms in the video, including some MG.34s mit und ohne Lafette, and the relieving engineers are seen marching in with an MP.34 (or -28, perhaps) slung over an officer or NCO’s shoulder.

Eben Emael is the subject of a number of worthwhile books and papers; it’s a frequent flyer in war and command-and-staff college papers (here’s an example), and it was one of the case studies in Admiral William McRaven’s compendium, Special Operations. 

We’ve been reading a lot about European fortresses of the 20th Century lately. They essentially were a lesson mistakenly learned from the First World War, where defensive technology, tactics and operational art deadlocked offensives, a lesson obvious in 1914 that did not sink in until the generals who ran up the butchers’ bills on all sides were looking back at the event over port and cigars postwar.

Four nations built fortress chains, none of which availed them much in the 1939-45 unpleasantness. They were France, whose fabled and well-engineered Maginot Line was flanked; Germany, whose post-repudiation fortress construction seems to have been a propaganda effort; Belgium, the fate of whose fortresses in the face of Blitzkrieg is here recounted; and the Czechoslovak Republic, whose fortresses, similar to those of the francophone nations, were in those regions of the nation inhabited primarily by ethnic Germans, and ceded to Germany by the Munich Agreement in 1938.

In fact, the ex-Czech fortifications in the Reichsprotektorat Böhmen u. Mähren were used by Lieutenant Witzig’s Abteilung Granit troops to practice fortress takedowns, before they had to do it for real.

This is a tourism video promoting visits to Eben Emael in the here and now. Five minutes.

Here’s some B-roll (mostly) of a 2010 reenactment. In the historical case, there does not seem to have been this many Belgian defenders on the surface… just a few AA gunners with Lewis guns. The gliders also had wings, and the German guns didn’t jam this much…. Voice-over en français.

And this is a video of the fort today, with some role-players at work. Best part: you get to hear the actual sound of the fort’s alarm siren. And see what’s for sale in the gift shop.

Here’s another recent-day visit. Different views of some of the same role-players as above!

A tactic, technique or procedure is only new once. Even though Billy Mitchell proposed vertical envelopment in 1918, and even though Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR had been training for it since the 20s and 30s, the paratroop elements of the invasions of April-May 1940 took Britain, France, and the neutrals by complete surprise.

The cost of the German victory in Crete the next year took the Germans, who had been encouraged by their 1940 results, by even greater surprise. But that’s another story!

USMC to Issue M27 More Widely?

A dog’s-breakfast of an article at Marine Corps Times suggests that the Marines are considering issuing the M27 IAR, now issued to squad automatic riflemen, for issue to all riflemen — not all Marines, in the sense of “every Marine is a rifleman,” but to MOS 0311 Riflemen, who apparently haven’t been named Genderfluid Riflepersons yet, in a crushing blow to the one USMC initiative of late unlamented SecNav Ray Mabus.

The 0311 Rifleman, we are assured by no less an authority on all things Marine than R. Lee Ermey as Sergeant Loyce, “is the &%$ing United States Marine Corps.” Let’s pick up a few things from the article, starting with why the Marines love the IAR:

While the M249 can put more rounds downrange, the IAR allowed Marines to provide suppressive fire with greater precision, Marines said.

“It’s been almost a paradigm shift in understanding what suppression is,” 1st Lt. Tom Rigby told Marine Corps Times. “It’s always been understood by the junior Marine that volume of fire and the sound of the machine gun equaled suppression.”

For the love of God, random noise was never “suppression,” but we suppose that’s what the reporter gets for interviewing a lieutenant. “In my experience…” it’s Baby Duck’s First Day!

Only accurate fire suppresses enemy fire. This is not a new discovery… people throughout history have had better luck shooting right at the enemy than sort of at him.

What’s next, on this Baby Duck’s First Day when All Is New? The distilled wisdom of a mosquito-winged PFC, speaking from his six months’ Marine experience?

Well, funny you should mention that:

“On single-shot, you can hit 800 yards no problem,” Lance Cpl. Joshua Houck told Marine Corps Times. “I love that you can go from single shot to full auto with the flick of a switch.”

Gee, what a novel feature. The Marines never had it before… except in the M16A1. And the M2 carbine. And the Thompson Submachine Gun, designed in 1918-1919, and bought by the Marines in the twenties, for crying out loud. But you can’t expect a boot PFC to know that.

Then, on the superiority of the HK 416 (which is all the IAR is) to the M4, the authority they cite is — a long retired Army Major General, a professional camera hound who has zero combat (or even training) experience with either weapon. Seriously, look at this (emphasis ours):

The M27 that the Marine Corps currently uses for the IAR, is “hands down, the best automatic rifle in the world,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, author of the 2016 book “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.”

“It outclasses the M4 in every single category,” said Scales, who is not affiliated with Heckler & Koch.

FFS, it is an M4, except with two 1980s-vintage improvements, a free-floating barrel and a gas tappet system.

“The key category is reliability — particularly in dusty, sandy, muddy terrain. The HK has a solid rod system, like the AK-47.”

“Solid rod system?” Is that a thing? And no, the HK 416’s gas tappet system is nothing like the AK’s gas piston system. Unlike Scales, we have examples of both, and have shot and maintained ’em. (From a Larry Vickers video, this is the HK 416 gas system).

The M27, sold to civilians and overseas as the HK 416, uses a piston to control the function of the bolt, and that eliminates problems with gas-tube operating systems used in the M4 ­carbines and M16 rifles, according to the company’s website.

“Uses a piston to control the function of the bolt?” This is retarded, although it’s not Scales talking, but the reporter. It’s pretty clear that neither of them has the foggiest notion what goes on underneath the handguards of any modern military rifle.

But hey, Scales does step up to double down on the Full Retard:

If you have a solid rod, then the action can literally blow through things that would normally slow down a bolt action, because you’ve got more mass,” Scales said in a March 27 interview.

This is beyond being stupid about weapons… he’s galactically stupid about physics, too. Hey, we just noticed that there’s a solid rod on all our bolt actions, and you actually have to grab it and waggle it around to load a new round. That definitely slows things down.

“Whereas, the M4 has a floating bolt that’s not attached to the rod. The gas goes down a long, thin tube — and the gas itself blows against another tube on top of the bolt, which throws the bolt back instead of carrying the bolt back.”

Two little sentences, more fail than we can count. Proof positive that one can “be ‘tarded, and still live kick-ass lives.”

Now the reporter gets to to paraphrasing rather than quoting Scales, so you can’t be sure whose retardation is radiating stronger in this particular Superfund Site of a sentence:

The HK 416’s floating barrel makes it much more accurate and stable than the M4, especially in automatic fire, he said.

Aargh.

The rifle also gives troops between 100 and 150 extra meters of effective range than the M4.

Mostly, as Shawn at LooseRounds has demonstrated, because we underestimate the M4 and undertrain with it… but yeah, the longer barrel and free-floated barrel of the M27 are helpful at longer ranges. Where, alas, the terminal ballistics of the 5.56 are comparatively anemic, and where an infantry unit has much more effective weapons, something Scales would know if he were still an infantry officer and not a quote-generator-for-hire.

And let’s close the quotes with another direct quote from Scales:

“It’s the only weapon better than the AK-74, according to people I’ve talked to,” Scales said.

Oh, Lord. “People that he’s talked to.” Well, we defer to that! 

If the AK-74 is so awesome, why is Russia only exporting them to places that get them, essentially, for free, courtesy of hard-working Russian taxpayers? Has he shot an AK-74? Of course he hasn’t! He’s a general, he has people for the shooting stuff. And he talks to people, who may be complete random souls but we’ll defer to him because we are impressed with the Argument from Authority logical fallacy.

If you want to read the whole article, it’s not entirely retarded. There are quotes from Marine Commandant Neller, and those are OK. The reporter has also stealth-corrected his original error in which he said the Marines envisioned issuing the IAR to every mortarman, anti-tank infantryman, etc., while what he meant was that the Marines don’t envision issuing the rifles to infantrymen who are not MOS-designated riflemen.

Ten Rules for Collecting

These are not original, not any of them. But they are wisdom passed down from generations of collectors before us. And almost every collector has a story to go with each one. These are specifically aimed at gun collectors, but they’re general enough that they’ll work for whatever you collect, whether it’s Spiderman comics, barbed wire, or cats.

Wait, not cats.

1: Some Day Your Item Will Be Sold Again

Perhaps you will sell it to deal with a financial calamity, like your daughter being accepted to college. Or a sixteen-count Federal indictment. You never know what the future holds. Moreover, if you keep eating red meat (or anything else) and breathing oxygen, one of these days you’re going to up and die. (Sorry to break it to you). What then?

You should probably think, before you buy, about the potential circumstances in which you will sell, and plan accordingly. The default option, “Let my heirs sort it out, it won’t be my problem,” does not do those heirs any favors. Most of them will cut some deal with a dealer and your collection will be dispersed for 30¢ on the dollar, if that. Set it up so the heirs get as much of the whole dollar as possible, and they can spend it on whatever silly $#!+ they collect! Or donate it to a museum, but if you do that, you’d better know that the museum might want a piece or two but will just auction your stuff to get cash to buy whatever the curator’s priority is.

Collection entropy. It happens. You can’t prevent it.

2: Buy the Book Before You Buy the Item

This is old, old, old advice, and almost everyone has a story. “I thought this was incredibly rare, and then I got Roger Kaputnik’s book where I learned that all 600,000 produced, minus the one in the Royal Museum of Ruritania, were imported to the USA by Val Forgett in 1966. After that, I started seeing them in every shop in Podunk for half what I paid.”

That’s why gun collectors say, “Buy the book before you buy the gun.” It’s not just gun collectors. Every serious car collector looking for a Shelby Cobra has the SAAC book that documents, to the extent possible, the provenance and disposition of every chassis by CSX Number. This protects you against fakes, misrepresentations, and (most common problem) your own errors. Buy the book. It armors you with knowledge. Books aren’t perfect, but there’s stuff in that book you’ll never learn without it. Learn from the other guy’s mistakes!

3: Rarity has no Direct Effect on Price

Something could be the only one made, or the only one surviving, and yet nobody cares, or almost nobody. We watched one of the rarest and most historic rifles in existence expire, and get re-listed, for over a year on GunBroker — before we finally up and bought it. And as far as we know, nobody else was even following it. The gun was a survivor of only a few thousand made, ages and ages ago. We didn’t snap it up right away because, like the French knights’ master, we already had one. Finally we gave in to the impulse to corner the market, kind of like the Hunt Brothers but in a much smaller pond. That doesn’t mean our two ultra-rare rifles just got more valuable. It just meant we have two examples right here to write about, and whoever liquidates our collection has double the rare-Brno-rifle headaches.

Meanwhile, have you seen prices on GI 1911A1s lately, or M1 Carbines? A beater GI M1 Carbine, which was produced in a quantity of over 6 million, is worth over double the value of the above-mentioned extremely rare rifle, of which around 1000 times fewer were made, and which seems to have had a much lower survival rate than the common Carbine. And the Carbine will almost certainly appreciate (although that appreciation will have its limits).

Rarity does affect supply, but that’s only one side of the equation. The rarity of Colt Walker revolvers only adds up to headlining auction numbers because of the firearm’s historical importance and high collector demand. For all we know, Italian Rigarmi .25s may be nearly as rare as Walkers, but as a crummy, derivative gun from a forgotten company in a secondary gun-manufacturing country, they’re functionally orphans. We’ll give you a Rigarmi for a case of beer — and you can owe us the beer.

Here’s a very direct example of how rarity does not impact price. If you were to machine, yourself, a steel copy of an M1 Carbine receiver, engrave your own name and “Serial Nº 1” on it, and build it up with available parts, you would have the only one of its kind. But people want an Inland, ideally one that is documented to have hit the beach on D-Day, but remains in new condition (yes, those are contradictory objectives. That’s collectors for you). They will pay much more for the Inland than they will for your copy, even if you spent 10,000 hours making it, and even if it is machined and finished far better than anything produced during the war.

(Incidentally, this example also proves the untruth of Karl Marx’s Labor Theory of Value, the principle on which the whole monstrous lie that is Marxian economics stands).

4: Highest Price, Highest Appreciation

A rising tide lifts all boats, perhaps, but if you want to appreciate faster than average, you need pieces that are higher quality than average — which means, they are already higher priced than average.

This also means that the value of these high-flyers will take the greatest hit in a market downturn; but that’s temporary. Over time, the most in-demand pieces (Winchesters, Colts, Lugers, that original FG-42 that went for nearly $300k) will outpace the general market consistently.

5: Junk Just Becomes Old Junk

And popularity gets magnified. While some things are so rare and historic that even beater-condition examples are valuable, that’s not the house bet. If it was el cheapo crap when it was new, it may be an interesting way to have a collection of cheap crap culture of the period, but there’s just never going to be that much interest in no-name spur-hammer .22 short revolvers of the 1870s, or crummy Spanish, Italian and Belgian.25s of the 1945-68 era. You can call your junk “vintage” if it amuses you to do so, but when you go to sell it, it will bring junk prices. Unless you sell it on a street corner in the Engelwood section of Chicago, which we don’t recommend for health reasons.

6: Buy the Piece, Not the Patter

Every gun comes with a story. But absent proof of provenance, it’s just a story. Some dealers are extremely skilled at selling you the sizzle, but all that you will have when you open the package is the steak… and if you aren’t a similarly skilled purveyor of sizzle, you won’t be able to pull off the same stunt. (Even be careful of provenance documents. We’ve observed computer-faked Colt and S&W letters, and there’s some jerk out there that’s used one CMP document to “authenticate” dozens of inauthentic M1 Rifles with the help of some digital Wite-Out. See Rule #9).

7: “Instant Collectibles” — Usually Aren’t

Things that are manufactured and sold, new, in large quantities, as collectibles? Like Franklin Mint, American Historical Foundation, various gaudy el cheapo commemoratives, those kinds of collectibles? Well, they aren’t, much. There are a few exceptions in commemorative or limited-run guns by makers that make proportionately few limited-run guns. If an outfit’s business is commemorative-heavy, it’s selling sizzle and not steak.

8: Don’t Let Yourself be Rushed

There are a very few items that exist in single digits, and a very, very few deals that will never be equalled. Don’t let yourself be rushed into something prematurely. Remember that the “higher price later” will probably just reflect general inflation, and may even be short of that. It will almost certainly be short of what your money will make in an index fund in the same period. Being able and willing to walk away from a piece puts you in charge. Make Je ne regrette rien your motto, when the Deal Of The Century scoots away from you. There are other days and other deals.

9: Not Everyone is as Honest as You Are

This is a painful lesson to learn, but we’ve found that there are two reasons a piece might be misrepresented: the seller doesn’t know his representation is incorrect (a real possibility; maybe he didn’t buy the book); or, the seller does know his representation is incorrect. A seller misrepresenting one gun may be making a mistake; a seller misrepresenting many guns, whether he does so in series or in parallel, is a different thing entirely. Most sales take place on an as-is basis, and the buyer has no recourse. The seller will always deny any intent to deceive, and he may be telling the truth, or think he is. (Some of these guys are so bent, they deceive themselves). If you suspect someone is this kind of guy, look over his return policy (3 days if the firearm is unfired and unmolested, no other questions asked, buyer pays shipping back, is fairly standard; deviations from this against the seller’s interest should be a caution signal). But as a buyer, you have the right not to do business with anyone (as a seller, likewise). It’s a right well exercised.

10: It’s Not an Investment

We can’t hammer this enough. While this is a great fiction to tell yourself (or your wife, or in one case we know about, husband), as an investment collector anything is speculative, risky, and almost certain to lag the stock indices.

That said, it does have a purpose for some people. Just as equity in a home is some people’s only savings — savings because it has been forced upon them — for some people, the only store of wealth they have is in their firearms. Firearms are always convertible to cash, unlike most other collectible items.

Bonus: In the End, You Do this for Entertainment

Don’t take it too seriously, don’t expect too much of it, don’t be freaked when others in your life don’t understand. You’re doing this for your own entertainment and education, and the only one you have to please, as long as you keep the obsession short of 12-step-program levels, is yourself.

You do keep the obsession short of 12-step-program levels, don’t you?

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Fourth-Floor Terraces

When you’re completely lacking in a deadly weapon, there are some things you can always count on — like gravity, the mystery force that accelerates everything corewards at 31 fps/s (9.81 m/sec/sec for those of you experiencing gravity in the rest of the world).

Charles Murphy, 56, whose hedge fund reportedly invested billions of dollars in clients money with Bernie Madoff, leaped from the 24th floor of the 45 W. 44th St. building around 4:42 p.m. and landed on a fourth-floor terrace, according to police sources.

Why are we blaming the terrace this time, and not the leap? Well, it has been brought to our attention that gravity’s acceleration does no harm to you at all… it’s the deceleration that hurts. To put it in the traditional couplet: the fall doesn’t hurt at all… it’s the sudden stop at the end.

As always in these cases, you can’t ask the guy why he did it. The NY Post takes a wild guess:

The New York Times reported in 2009 that Murphy’s hedge fund, Fairfield Greenwich Group, invested more than $7 billion with Bernard Madoff, and lost much of their clients’ money in his infamous Ponzi scheme.

Somehow we doubt a massive 2009 loss of other people’s money induced a hedge fund guy to kamikaze himself in 2017, but we suppose it’s possible.

More likely, untreated depression.

Emergency crews had a hard time getting to his body on the terrace but eventually did, authorities said.

The incident was reported at 4:42 p.m. at 45 W. 44th St., when witnesses said the man leaped from the tower of the hotel, then landed on a roof that is in-set from the street, about four stories up

via Investor burned by Madoff leaps to death off Sofitel hotel | New York Post.

It’s nice to see, in a world in which the old folkways are gradually dying out, Wall Street is keeping one of its greatest traditions, the loser’s leap, alive. Er, maybe alive is not the right word.

The impact of the landing shattered concrete tiles, and he could be seen lying in a business suit.

Well, if he was a hedge fund guy, didn’t he spend most of his working life lying in a business suit?

The tragedy was the third high-profile suicide connected to the Madoff ponzi scheme.

For some loose definitions of the word “connected.” Also, they just said “the third” — then they list three more! Well, reporters are usually English or Journalism majors, this is just one more proof that the breed (and its layers and layers of editors) is innumerate, all the way to grade school level.

Madoff’s eldest son, Mark, was found hanged in his Soho apartment in December 2010 — the second anniversary of his father’s arrest.

One.

Two investors also killed themselves. William Foxton, a 65-year-old former Army major, committed suicide in 2009 due to the shame of going bankrupt.

Two.

Rene Thierry Magon De La Villehuchet, a French aristocrat, whose AIA Group had lost $1.5 billion, was found dead shortly after the scandal broke in 2008.

Three. And the late Mr Murphy makes four.

It’s funny how, even in NYFC where guns are outlawed (except for the connected and payers of bribes), would-be suicides still manage to accomplish their baleful mission.

Our condolences to Mr Murphy’s friends and family. He shouldn’t have done this to them, but he did.

History of SF Documentary

Here’s another video for you. We watched this with an occasional cringe as they got something wrong, but a great deal of delight to see old acquaintances and one or two old friends.

To call this a “complete history,” even to its circa 1999 broadcast date, is a bit of an overreach. And since then information about other SF antecedents, like the 6th Army’s Alamo Scouts who operated in the Pacific, and the OSS Maritime Unit which operated in the Med and the CBI, has become available.

Among the old acquaintances and friends of Your Humble Blogger that appear as talking heads in this film include the late Robin Moore, the late MSG and Ambassador Ed Sprague, now-retired Colonel Jack Tobin, O&I school buddy and later CW3 “Joach” Griffith, CW3 Don Mills, an acquaintance we’ve known so long we forget where from, Dan Winschel who went on to success as a Physician’s Assistant, and good friend and teammate Steve Kalvelage.

The original, unofficial SF crest was a winged Trojan Horse.

As well as those guys, who probably won’t have the same meaning for you that they do for us (except, of course, for Moore), there are real SF luminaries interviewed here, like Lieutenant General Bill Yarborough, Col. Vladimir Sobichevsky, Col. Ola Lee Mize MOH, CSMs Hank Luthy, Tyrone Adderly and Joe Lupyak, and founding SF Group Commander Aaron Bank. (Whom people keep calling Aaron Banks, but his name was singular). Many of these men are no longer with us.

This has to be one of the last interviews Bank gave before he became seriously ill and passed away at, IIRC, age 99. Our guess is that it happened around the time the 2000 SF Association Convention was held in Boston. (Your Humble Blogger missed it, due to a JCET to Jamaica). Moore is wearing the shirt of Chapter LIV, SF Association, which is based in the Boston area, and of which he was a member. That chapter sponsored the Convention that year, and the SF Convention is a great place for a documentary filmmaker to get a whole bunch of normally camera-shy SF guys before the red eye of the camera.

Yarborough is the guy who got President Kennedy to sign off on the Green Beret as SF headgear (forever irritating Big Green), and he tells the story in this video.

3D Printed Custom Target Grips

This grip on a Ruger target pistol was made using the latest in additive manufacturing technology.

Here’s a Benelli similarly configured, but with an added shelf to cure “slide bite” that bedeviled the owner…

… and a Russian .22.

Target shooters have long had custom grips made to fit their individual hands. (Indeed, you can buy many exotic pistols with a grip that is fully inletted but externally a block of wood, ready for you to shape it yourself). But it was probably inevitable that an entrepreneur would surface, doing this with 3D scanning and printing: Precision Target Pistol Grips.

After making precision target pistol grips for Air, Standard, and Free Pistols, for a variety of hands and guns for the college team I coach, I’ve recently begun a business doing the same.  Using 3d scanning and printing techniques I’ve modeled many different guns and hands from XS to XL, left-handed and right, straight inset and cross-eye dominant.  Now you don’t have to own a high-end gun to get a precision or  custom-fit grip.

Your grip can be manufactured from either a plant-based polymer (called PLA) in your choice of color or one of three colors of a wood composite that is half polymer and half wood fiber.  In hand, the composite grip feels like a traditional wood grip but one made exactly to your hand.   Best of all, these grips start at less than half the price of a traditional custom wood grip.

Custom grips have mostly been used on very high end Euro target pistols: Pardini, Hammerli, etc. But now you can have the grip that works perfectly on your Free Pistol duplicated (within regulations) for your Rapid Fire pistol, for example. The grips are made of PLA plastic or of a wood composite material that contains wood dust in a PLA binder — and retains the feel and warmth of wood.

For a basic grip, only a few basic hand measurements are needed (how to do that is explained on the site, too). You can also customize your grip with putty or sanding, and send the customized grip in to be scanned and duplicated.

As you might expect, if you’ve been following our writing on 3D printing, one of the greatest benefits of this technology is not its prototyping speed, or its ability to enable “mass customization” (exactly what’s happening here). Those are great features, but the real wonder of additive manufacturing is that it enables technologies that previously didn’t exist. 

Two of these novel developments are a target revolver grip that lets the shooter fire single-action without having to shift his grip at all…

… and an ability to print an “imitation 1911 grip” for a 1911 shooter’s practice air gun or .22, like this very un-1911-like Pardini that now emulates the feel of a 1911A1.

And it’s still “early days” for this technology. Who knows what it will enable next?

Simonov Sunday

No rest for the wicked, as Your Humble Blogger (and Small Dog Mk II, who is invited) meets with a business partner today. (SDMkII may be meeting the partner’s dog-in-law, that bit’s not clear).

Meanwhile, back at Hog Manor, it snowed off and on all day yesterday. Spring can spring any time, honestly. It reminds us of this, and that’s freaking Finland in the Winter War. (Observe the rifle… there will be questions).

Re the title of this post. We’ve just heard from a gentleman who has a registered Simonov AVS. The AVS is an extremely rare Soviet automatic rifle, adopted in 1936 and rapidly replaced by the broadly similar Tokarev SVT and AVT. Many AVSes were used in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War and large quantities were captured by the Finns.

 

Most Soviet 1945 and earlier semi and auto rifles that are in US circulation without import marks were imported before 1968 — in the late fifties, actually — from Finnish stocks. This rifle is suspected of being one of those, although the owner has not observed a Finnish property [SA] stamp.

He is missing three parts:

  1. The screw that goes into the rear of the trigger guard, through the wrist of the stock, into the receiver. It’s an oddly shaped screw indeed, not a standard part;
  2. The gas tappet;
  3. The 15-shot magazine. He did manage to find a 5-shot magazine, in a former Soviet republic. (The mag in the photo is a Tokarev mag adapted to fit).

Objective is to get this rare rifle running again, and so we’d like to hear from anyone

  1. who has any of these parts and can be induced to part with them;
  2. who has drawings of any of these parts;
  3. who has any of these actual parts and is willing to lend them for reverse engineering;
  4. who has a Simonov AVS (registered, dewatted, parts kit, anything) and is willing to turn one of us loose on it with nondestructive measuring tools.

The screw is odd, but it’s something any machine shop should be able to duplicate with a good drawing. It’s possible that a Tokarev SVT or Simonov SKS gas tappet could be adapted.

Previous WeaponsMan Content on the AVS:

  1. 20 Jul 16: SVT-Inspired Italian Rifle: It’s Strange
  2. 30 Dec 15: Rare Simonov AVS-36 Sold for $5k — as Parts
  3. 31 May 13: More Finnish Archive Rarities!
  4. 38 May 13: Are You Finnish with Russian Weapons?

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Onion Knives

In England, where guns are just barely short of outlawed (and whence English anti-gun activists infected the same EU that they’re now Brexiting with the same magical belief), all violent crime is at an end.

Yeah, riiiiiight. Police are still responding to scenes like this: 

[P]olice found Natasha wrapped in a blood-stained duvet in a cupboard under the stairs at her home in Bournemouth.

[Prosecutor Sally Howes] said: “The body was curled up into the fetal position. Her body was rigid, her eyes were open and fixed.

“She was not breathing, she had no pulse, she was very cold to the touch and completely unresponsive.”

Uh, that’s not ‘pining for the fjords,’ ma’am. That’s “dead.”

The barrister said police found three notes written by [perp Jay] Nava, including one apologizing to Natasha’s mum Shelley.

It said: “Tasha died at 11. I was ashamed to take my own life. She was the only person that I loved and loved me.

“Shelley, I’m sorry for hurting your daughter. I’ll take my own life soon, I loved her. Why I did this is beyond me… that’s why I killed myself.”

Another read: “I wish I had a gun to shoot myself, if I did it would have been done by now but I needed to get all the kids away as they shouldn’t see this.

This guy wanted a gun, but to off himself. Gun control advocates think this is a bad thing, but really, what’s better, this guy in Hell now or him getting out of British prison in the usual ten or fourteen years, still with the character and impulse control that put him inside in the first place?

“I’m very weak and scared, I have been for a long time now. I’ll see you again Tasha in the next world x.”

Not if she sees you first, we think. Chicks may generally dig jerks, but there’s a time to draw the line.  If she can’t do it before he kills her, presumably she can after. 

What, exactly, did he do?

A soldier on leave who stabbed his girlfriend 11 times told a child that blood on the walls was “ketchup” after she found the young mom lying dead under a blanket, a court heard.

Great. A soldier. There’s millions of us, and only one that makes the news is this crumb.

Jay Nava, 27, tried to kill himself after butchering Natasha Wake, telling a cop who intervened to save his life: “I want to die,” jurors were told.

Pity that the cops are not in the wish-fulfillment business. For that particular wish.

Nava is said to have rowed with on-and-off girlfriend Natasha, 26, after she discovered he was investigated by police for an alleged sexual assault.

So impulse control is not a new problem for Jay.

She was stabbed with such force six of the wounds went through her torso and out of her back.

Lord, have mercy.

One young child was “woken by a scream” and came downstairs to ask Nava for a drink, jurors heard.

Prosecutor Sally Howes said “She saw him in the kitchen. He had a knife in his trousers. There was red spots on the blade and handle.

“She recognized the knife as the one Natasha used to cut onions. (Nava) had blood on his shirt and trousers.

“She saw Natasha lying on the floor in the lounge with a blanket covering her.

“(She told police) the blanket had big, medium, and small red dots on, there was red on the walls.

That kid’s going to have issues.

“Nava gave her orange juice and said ‘Go upstairs and don’t come back down’.

Or else what? Was he threatening the kid, too?

“In the morning she asked why he had a knife in his trousers and why Natasha was on the floor.

“He said they were being silly, Natasha was asleep and it was ketchup on the walls.”

The soldier took the children to his grandparents’ home.

He then contacted his mum in Australia, confessed to killing Natasha and said he was going to kill himself, the court heard.

Cops found him just in time to revive him as they searched beauty spot Hengistbury Head near Christchurch, Dorset.

Funny how when it was time for him to check out, he didn’t go with multiple violent stab wounds, but something gentle and, apparently, easily reversed.

Nava began a relationship with Nationwide bank worker Natasha in January 2013, the court heard.

He joined the Army two years later and served with the Royal Artillery’s 29 Commando Regiment based in Plymouth.

We bet the Royal Artillery could come up with a creative way to get rid of this blot on the service’s escutcheon. Preferably involving a 203mm gun.

via Man accused of butchering girlfriend told her kid blood was ketchup | New York Post.