Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s a Whit Worth?

OK, it’s really “What’s a Whitworth Worth?” But we can’t resist wordplay sometimes. In any event, Fred Ray pinged us earlier this week, notifying us of a post of his on the TOCWOC blog about two Whitworths that have come up for sale. These two Whitworths were very interesting; while neither had Confederate provenance, both were in staggeringly good condition, and were for sale on GB by an estate liquidator. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and before we could post on Fred’s find, the guns were gone, so we regret the tardiness, if any of you were serious buyers for these firearms.

On the plus side, we now can record what these Whits were worth! So, there is that. 

Take it away, Fred. Let’s start with a rare and beautiful target rifle.

Couple of very nice period Whitworths have come up for sale recently, and the outfit selling them has been kind enough to allow me to post the photos of them.

First up is target model. Whitworths were the rifle to beat in 1860s long-range matches and were competitive well into the 1880s in Britain, and longer than that in the Empire.

You can see here the tang sight for fine adjustment, as well as the pistol grip. Note the beautiful workmanship and checkering.

A look at the business end shows Sir Joseph’s distinctive hex bore, and since this is a target rifle, the globe sight with adjustable windage.

For a muzzle loader it’s often easier to do a quick windage adjustment at the muzzle, since you have to upend it anyway to load. The folks selling it did an unusually good job of photography, and there are many more here, which you may enjoy for a while until the link goes bad.

via A Whitworth of One’s Own — TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

The auction seller has this to say about the target rifle:

“Deluxe wood.” He’s not kidding.

Scarce Whitworth rifle with signature hexagon bore and deluxe wood is listed for your consideration.  One of the last ever made in the “F” serial prefix.

Bore: Very good condition with hexagon bore.  Bore is smooth and well cared for by previous owner(s).  See photos for more complete details.
Barrel: Barrel exhibits a majority of its blue finish.  Surface is fairly smooth and bluing at an average of 80% or better.  There is some surface spotting extending the length of the barrel.  We believe this finish to be original.  Pleases view photos for more details.

Barrel top has the rare, late Whitworth logo stamp.  See photos for more details.

Stock/Grips: Stock may show some light surface dents, dings and scratches.  We cannot confirm if the wood has been professionally refinished at some point, but we ask that you study the photos and come to your own conclusions.  We did not find any chips or cracks in the wood stock.  We were unable to locate any other significant signs of damage.  See photos for more details.
Receiver: Excellent condition with some color case hardening color present in the appropriate locations.   Stamping/maker marks are crisp and clear.  See photos for more detials.
Other Parts: Well checkered butt plate with what appears to be a varnish/laquer stains  Rear barrel flip-up sight is not included (only base included).  No case or other accessories included.  Please view photos for more details.
Mechanicals/Action: Rifle was not tested with live ammunition nor is any ammunition included.   Due to the age of the rifle, it would not be unusual for small parts, including springs and other delicate mechanical parts, to need replacement/repair.

There is also a military rifle, but not a Rebel one. You see, the Whitworth was also used by the British Army’s rifle units, engaged in the Crimean unpleasantness and various colonial wars in this period.

There’s also a very nice Whitworth in military configuration. By that we mean not for the Confederacy but for the Rifle Brigade of the British Army, which used it briefly. What makes this rifle a bit unusual is that it was made by Whitworth rather than by the Enfield factory, which made the rifles used by the army. It may have been a special order for a private customer.

The rifling is in remarkable condition, and there is no mistaking the Whitworth profile.

This one has military sights, three barrel bands, and a lug for a sword-style bayonet, which seems a bit excessive.

The auction seller adds this about the military rifle:

Scarce Whitworth rifle with signature hexagon bore and chained nipple protector.

Military Whitworths were often used by the very best sharpshooters during the Civil War. We are unable to track the history of this rifle, but we are certain that this rifle is in the military configuration.  Whitworths are still considered among the most accurate percussion rifles in the world.  This rifle is 100% original.

Bore: Very good condition with hexagon bore.  Bore is smooth and well cared for by previous owner(s).
Barrel: Barrel exhibits a majority of its blue finish with a gradual change to patina.  Surface is fairly smooth with signs of handling.  There is some light surface spotting extending the length of the barrel.  We believe this finish to be original.  Pleases view photos for more details.

Barrel top has the “Whitworth Patent” stamp.  See photos for more details.

Stock/Grips: Stock may show some light surface dents, dings and scratches.  We cannot confirm if the wood has been professionally refinished at some point, but we ask that you study the photos and come to your own conclusions.  We did not find any chips or cracks in the wood stock.  We were unable to locate any other significant signs of damage.  See photos for more details.
Receiver Excellent condition with some color case hardening color still present in the appropriate locations.   Stamping/maker marks are crisp and clear.  See photos for more detials.
Other Parts: Butt plate is mostly blue with some wear in high areas and patina.  Rear barrel flip-up sight is complete and in fine condition.  Hammer and trigger work well.  No case or other accessories included.  Please view photos for more details.
Mechanicals/Action: Rifle was not tested with live ammunition nor is any ammunition included.   Due to the age of the rifle, it would not be unusual for small parts, including springs and other delicate mechanical parts, to need replacement/repair.

Perhaps the rifle would need small parts or repairs to be ready to fire, but you’d need your head examined to have anybody take a tool to this old survivor. Both of these rifles, indeed, seem to be in a condition indicative of very little firing. The characteristic pitting around the nipple, for example, is not present. Instead, these guns show signs of painstaking care over a span of nearly two centuries. The bluing remains; the case-hardening colors remain. The military rifle lacks the fine checkering and stock figure of the target gun, but both are uncommonly rare and beautiful, and firearms don’t stay that way without systematic and sustained caretaking.

You wouldn’t want to mess that up.

Fred has many more insights about the two rifles, so do Read The Whole Thing™ as well as catch the seller’s auctions of the military rifle and the target rifle for the month or so that GunBroker will keep them live. There are dozens of pictures of each! The pictures of the rifles may last longer on the seller’s Photobucket: target rifle and military rifle respectively. Or they may not.

So, what did they go for?

Target rifle: $8,550.00

Military rifle: $9,125.99.

Like the boys say, they’re not making any more of these. Imagine what one would go for with documented Confederate provenance.

Yes, There Have Been Neo-Nazi Murders

Not here, perhaps, but in Germany (where neo-Naziism is even more of a fringe activity than it is in North America). And the funny thing is this: as a small group of low-rent serial killers who were on the police’s radar committed almost a dozen shootings, including ten murders, over seven years, the police clung to an idée fixé of who the killers would be: a completely wrong idea.

It took blind luck, and a confession out of the blue, to break the case; it took an examination of this firearm to confirm that the break was the right one.

Germany today still has essentially the same police organizations and traditions that existed under the Weimar Republic, and that the Nazis co-opted into their 12-year police state, and that were denazified under the Bonn republic. They have always had all the policies that all European centralizers have long associated with proper order and social control: national identity documents, police registration of persons, strict (and ever-tightening) firearms laws, centrally managed police, and crime labs where no expense was spared.

None of this helps if (1) your murderers are reasonably careful, (2) avoid exposure to the grid where possible, and (3) aren’t the murderers you expect to be looking for.

When a spate of brutal murders of Turkish immigrants kicked off in the early oughts, the police were taken aback by the violence of the attacks: in most cases, two men faced the victim and shot him multiple times in the face with a suppressed pistol. The murders looks like gangland hits, with an unusual twist: the killers kept using the same gun, something pros generally don’t do. (A previously used murder weapon is pretty much the pinnacle of “incriminating evidence,” after all).

The Federal Government’s highly efficient crime labs made excellent use of ballistics evidence. They determined that two handguns were used in the murders, one in 6.35 mm caliber (.25 ACP for us Yankistanis) and one in 7.65 mm (.32 ACP). Those were the two calibers most widely distributed in Europe in the years before gun control became universal, and pistols firing them had been made in the millions from 1900 to the present day. Two world wars, the chaotic collapse of Communist dictatorships, and the sanguinary Balkan wars of the 90s all combined to scatter pistols far and wide.

But the Germans caught a lucky break. The recovered pistol slugs tied some shootings to a very generic 6.35 mm pistol, but evidence let them tie nine of the killings — almost all of them — to a single .32 pistol. (Some victims were shot with both pistols). This was of limited use to them, without a suspect or suspected murder weapon in custody. But they learned something not just from the unique characteristics of the slugs fired in that pistol, but also from the class characteristics: the bore diameter as impressed on the bullet, and the unique pattern of lands and grooves marked there, revealed that the pistol was a rarity, a Czech CZ-83. (The .32 ACP’s page in firearms identification books is chaos: some .32s have right turns, some left; some a .308 barrel, some .311; some five lands, some six; and some one turn in 240 mm, some 250 — roughly 10″ — and some 400 mm, roughly 16″. The combination of characteristics impressed on the murder slugs fingered only one specific firearm, the 1:250mm RH CZ-83 [link to .pdf manual]). Accordingly, the police began calling these serial killers — there were at least two — the “Ceska murderers,” a politically correct term that replaced the original media-coined term, “Kebab killers.” (In German, Dönermörder).  You see, the victims were almost all Turks, and the cops were fixed on the idea that ethnic Turkish organized crime was whacking them. “Döner” or kebab is an all-purpose pejorative for anything Turkish.  (One victim was Greek, and may have been mistaken for a Turk. The last victims were German police officers). Al Jazeera, of course, blamed the “Kebab Murder” term on, wait for it, racism by the German police.

The CZ-83 was a pistol made for export to all those small police forces who wanted a modern pistol without changing their 7.65 x 17 SR caliber. Derived from the far more common CZ-82 service pistol (which fired the 9 x 18 mm Makarov cartridge, to suit the Czechs’ then-masters), the CZ-83 is fundamentally the same pistol but chambered in Western calibers: 9mm Browning Short (9 x 17, aka .380 ACP) and the above-mentioned 7.65 mm. Of those, the 9 mm chambering is overwhelmingly more common.

Traditional police work was at a dead end with the pistol, unless they lucked into finding it, ideally in the hands or home of one of the killers. Witnesses reported that the killer had a suppressor on the pistol. None of the crimes had taken place in front of video surveillance (Germany, with its Nazi and Stasi surveillance history, has been slower to camera up than Britain, for example). So instead the cops kept investigating the victims, their families, friends and business associates, looking for the link to the Turkish mafia.

But there was no link. The Ceska Murders had been committed by members of a band of underground neo-Nazis, whose trials continue in Germany to this day.

The CZ-83’s actual path from legitimate commerce to being used to shoot foreigners in the face is unclear, even after reading trial reports. Some reports in English (as well as German and Turkish) are available at a (left-ish) trial blog, which explains its raison d’être as follows:

In the fall of 2011, it was revealed that a neo-Nazi group was responsible for a series of murders which at first seemed unimaginable. Over the course of almost a decade, the Nazis of the “National Socialist Underground” shot and killed several people of primarily Turkish descent, carried out two bombing attacks in districts inhabited primarily by migrants, and robbed several banks. That their killing spree was discovered is not the result of the investigations by the police and the domestic intelligence agencies: those agencies worked on the assumption that these crimes, which they referred to as “Kebap killings”, had been perpetrated by “Turkish criminals.” Rather, the crimes were discovered due to confession videos presumably sent out by the main accused Beate Zschäpe after two of her co-perpetrators – Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos – had been found shot dead after a bank robbery.


The main focus of the trial will be on establishing whether the charges brought by the Federal Prosecutor General against the accused Beate Zschäpe, André Eminger, Holger Gerlach, Ralf Wohlleben and Carsten Schulze can be proven.

Böhnhardt and Mundlos were found dead in a trailer home that had been burned. The murder CZ-83 was recovered from that fire, along with other weapons, including the HK P2000 pistol of a murdered policewoman. It is speculated that the reason they killed her was to take the weapon.

The CZ-83 had had its serial number defaced, but an expert was able to recover it. Unfortunately this did not bring any further enlightenment about the weapon’s provenance.

Trying to track down the travels of the firearm before it came into the murderers’ hands is proving difficult for the court. The prosecution theory brings the pistol from Switzerland to a Nazi cell in Jena in the former East Germany as follows:

The court also read out the minutes of an interview conducted by Swiss authorities with Hans-Ulrich Müller, who according to the indictment was responsible for transporting the Ceska pistol from Switzerland to the mixed scene of Nazis and common criminals in Jena, from where it then found its way, via accused Wohlleben and Schultze, to the NSU. Müller had refused to come to Munich, but had testified to Swiss authorities.

The court has learned (in July 2016) that other neo-Nazis had been approached for firearms, and that the police had infiltrated that network.

Blood and Honour leader Jan Werner from Chemnitz in 1998-2001. On 25 August 1998, Werner had send a text message “What about the bang?” to a cell phone belonging to secret service informer Carsten Szczepanski. This indicates that Werner was tasked with buying a gun for Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt and trying to enlist Szczepanski’s help, and thus also that there was an opening to effect an arrest of the three who had gone underground – a chance the Brandenburg secret service chose not to use.

And… 14 July 16:

They also moved … that two witnesses be called to testify in order to show that (Blood and Honour Chemnitz) and Ralf Marschner (Blood and Honour Zwickau and informer to the federal domestic secret service) were tasked with providing guns to Böhnhardt and Mundlos. Finally, the secret service case file on Marschner is to show that the secret service knew the whereabouts of the three who had gone underground, but had not given that information to the police.

The defense has tried, but has not succeeded, to shake the story of the “Ceska’s” perambulations. They’ve also tried a rather desperate attempt to disconnect the accused from the specific murder weapon.

A weapon expert with the Bavarian criminal police, summoned upon a motion of the Wohlleben defense, stated that the Ceska murder weapon weighed a bit over 700 grams, the silencer about 240 grams. The defense is of the opinion that, as Wohlleben and Schultze had given differing estimations of their relative weights, this proved that they had held a totally different weapon – another desperate attempt by the defense in light of the crushing evidence against their client.

The trial has been going on for over a year; Spiegel reported on Day 333 of the trial in January (Awful German Language link).



Friday Tour d’Horizon, Week 09

Tour d’Horizon is more honestly a tour of open tabs that have been annoying and irritating us.


I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Glock Protests M17 Contract Award

No details at present, but the protest showed up on 24 February at this GAO link that should also show any other protests of this contract as they develop.

Protests are a fairly routine activity in defense contracting, nowadays. That does not mean that Glock has no chance to win their protest, but it also doesn’t mean a win is probable. If they were to win, it is unlikely the contract would just go to Glock (or to another protester). Instead, it would require the Army to take some action or other to address the complaint, for example, a partial retest of some part of the competition. Then, the result of that decision may be protested.

If you look at it as a system designed to produce weapons, it’s abominable. But if you look at it as a system designed to transfer as much of the defense budget as possible into the pockets of Washington lawyers and lobbyists, it’s brilliant.

Layoffs at Colt

The extent of them is unclear, but there are some details in a post by Nathaniel F. at The Firearm Blog. If you go to later posts in the pistol-forum thread Nathaniel cited, the situation is still fluid but not as severe as it originally was. Either way, it looks like America’s most drama-prone gun company is on stage again.

Market Correction?

In that same PF thread, someone says a distributor has told him the amount of product they’re moving is down 30% relative to Q1 2016. If that’s the case, we can expect to see prices soften and perhaps some consolidation. The way to get through a downturn is by having more attractive products or prices than competitors, so any manufacturers that don’t have compelling new products in the pipeline are going to be looking at price cuts, promotions, and any other way to differentiate their stuff from Brand X.

One thing several retailers have told us lately: they can’t keep cheap guns on the shelves. They could move every $150 pistol they can get their hands on. Food for thought, designers.

Gun Stocks update

Anyway you want it: we have the table, our analysis, and the popular chart.

Gun Stocks since the Election
11/8/16 (pre-election) 64.40 28.45 38.94
11/18/16 53.20 24.13 40.02
11/25/16 52.50 23.82 41.05
12/2/16 50.25 21.10 39.66
12/9/16 51.90 21.07 38.62
12/16/16 53.45 21.59 36.81
12/23/16 54.05 22.11 38.03
12/30/16 52.70 21.08 36.90
1/6/17 54.15 21.00 38.08
1/13/17 51.35 20.60 28.70
1/20/17 50.65 20.13 27.78
1/27/17 51.90 20.58 28.33
2/3/17 50.05 20.12 26.18
2/10/17 50.15 21.08 21.58
2/17/17 49.70 19.22 20.89
2/24/17 49.85 19.45 20.72
3/3/17 48.75 18.83 20.47

Everybody’s down this week, and the funny thing is, they were all up at Thursday’s close. The biggest hit was taken by Ruger, probably as a result of some negativity by analysts; the Motley Fool, for instance, suggested that the days of the Ruger dividend may be numbered. (The numbers don’t really seem to support that idea, but people do pay attention to analysts).


Next month, we’ll probably add Olin to the mix. Unlike all these other firms, the maker of Winchester brand ammunition has seen its stock rise steadily during this period.

Certainly, Olin apart, the Street seems to be pricing a downturn into gun stocks. Is the Street right, or is this a buying opportunity? Unfortunately this is one of those real-life deals where you take the test first and get the lesson later.

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov 16. It bottomed in the 40s later that day before rebounding a little by close, but it hasn’t recovered since.

Gun Poly-Ticks

The Moral Turpitude of Gun Control Proponents, Proof #7682

California state legislative leader Leland Yee never met a gun-control measure he didn’t like. Why? Well, he said it was for public safety, to prevent gun crime. Meanwhile, all along, he was plotting to run guns to Chinese Tongs in the Bay Area. He finally ran out of appeals and started his sentence in Club Fed a year ago this week. We just checked, and he’s still making bed-check daily. Inmate number 19629-111 is expected to get out sometime in 2020.

Of course, strict gun controls mean an arms smuggler can charge his criminal customers more. Whether that’s a factor or not, we can’t say, but like every politician, he got stinking rich on an upper middle class salary. We could ask, “How ever do they do that?”, but we have a pretty good idea.

Yee was also beyond soft on crime, at one time proposing a bill to roll back young offenders’ life sentences for murder to a maximum of ten years.

Usage and Employment

 The hardware takes you only half way. Nothing this week. 

Don’t Go Stupid Places With Stupid People and Do Stupid Things, I

Or, from gadfly to jailbird. A confrontationally-inclined amateur journalist in Oregon crashed a Black Criminal Lives Matter demonstration, intending to video them. They assaulted him. He drew in self defense.

The local prosecutors who are in cahoots with the protesters steered the case to a crony lefty judge, and the former gadfly is now convicted and looking at fifty years. Is it a miscarriage of justice, as Mark Walters at AmmoLand sees it? Probably. But did he “go stupid places, with stupid people”? He just bet his liberty on the answer being, “no,” and rolled snake eyes.

People, do not go where you might well need your gun. Everybody understands that the world would be a better place if, instead of just brandishing his Glock, Mike Strickland had plugged a few of the Black Criminals’ Lives Matter gang. Who knows how many future rapes, murders and assaults he’d prevent with each one brought to room temp? But then he’d be looking at spending the rest of his life in prison…

… oh, wait. He still is.

If you want to help Strickland, this page has background, many links, and a couple of ways to donate to him.

And if you’ve been thinking about any kind of business, tourism, or hunting and fishing in Oregon, stop and consider Alaska instead. Oregon is not safe; Alaska is.

Once is Happenstance, Twice is Coincidence?

Initial reports had two negligent discharges by a French policeman. The police “sniper” (scare quotes… well, you’ll see why) was providing overwatch for a speech by lame-duck President François Hollande. He decided to reposition and picked up his weapon by the trigger. Needless to say, he did not have the safety on. Needless to say, he was not paying attention to the position of his muzzle.

The single negligently-fired round nailed two people, a waiter and an attendee of Hollande’s speech.

Don’t Go Stupid Places With Stupid People and Do Stupid Things, II

Quick, how stupid is this: walking into a police station, rifle-armed and masked. With a buddy similarly attired.

Baker and Vreeland tried to argue with officers while holding weapons apparently held in a low-ready position in which they could have immediately opened fire. …. The officers showed incredible restraint in this incident.

Yes, they are lucky they were not subjected to kinetic perforation. Yes, they are charged with a bunch of felonies.

There’s open-carry as a practical means to transport a firearm, and there’s open-carry because you’re a troll or some other species of attention whore. Well, Bob Owens, who restrains himself and only calls these two Michigan mongs “morons,” has the whole story on these assclowns.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment. Lots of Cop Was a Crim this week.

Remember What ‘Non-Profit’ Means?

Sonja McQuillar, the former director of health and information management at Northern Children’s Services, created phony invoices … and pocketed the money herself.

She helped herself to over $600k over a dozen years of unsuspected embezzlement. Now, if she’d simply paid herself an additional $50k/year in salary, or contracted business to a for-profit direct-mail fundraising firm that she owned, that would have been perfectly legal. The orphans or foundlings or depraved-on-account-a-they’re-deprived, whatever the PC term is today would still be screwed, because this result wouldn’t have changed:

[T]he agency’s financial struggles prompted officials there to issue public pleas for help in funding repairs to a broken boiler, which had rendered some facilities on their Ridge Avenue campus in Wissahickon unusable during the winter.

Administrators have since said that some of the money taken by McQuillar might have been used to fund the necessary maintenance.

You Never Know Who’s In That Car You Cut Off

Posted without comment.

The Perils of Kathleen: Time for Accounting

We have had a spate of Kane-related news this week, much of it bad, at least to the PA taxpayers who have to pay for this never-ending clown cavalcade.

  • Item 23 Feb: Direct Dollar Costs of $3.6 Million is new AG Josh Shapiro’s first cut at what Kane’s crime wave cost the Commonwealth — not including the opportunity costs in having the entire office caught up in trying to frame Kane enemies or defend Kane cronies, or the money wasted on paying a salary to an AG that didn’t even come in to the office as the water levels rose and the band played Nearer My God to Thee. Shapiro seems shocked by the numbers: $1.8 million for a crony law firm to review emails, $877k defending the office from lawsuits, $791k settling those and other lawsuits, $191k for criminal lawyers for other AG employees during the Kane trial. (Note that these numbers actually round to $3.7 million. Numeracy is not a lawyer thing, is it?)
  • Item 22 Feb: Different take on the same story, Shapiro calls the bills “extraordinary.”
  • Item 28 Feb: Kane crony Patrick Reese’s appeal failed and he’s closer to spending a short stint in state lockup. He violated a court order in order to feed back grand jury testimony about her own case to Kane. All along, he’s also been collecting a fat tax-free disability pension, a benefit that is apparently untouched by his final conviction. There are many other stories, here, here, and here, for example. (Update: Reese is going to spend more of that tax-free money from his phony disability on lawyers: he intends to appeal to the State Supreme Court).
  • Item 3 Mar: BREAKING: Kane’s First Appeal Fails. The trial judge, Wendy Demchick-Alloy, explained her evidentiary rulings and defended Kane’s trial as fair, and the verdict just, in a 104-page ruling issued today. Now Kane appeals to Superior Court (which must take her appeal), and if defeated there, Supreme Court (which need to take the appeal). If she fails in both appeals, as expected, she’ll report to prison in just over two years. Stories:;; TV-6 ABC; Bucks Co. Courier-Times; Main Line Times.

Everybody thinks his own state is the most corrupt one, but Pennsylvania isn’t about to give up its quest for the title. However, so far, politician or not, Shapiro seems to be focused on trying to repair the damage the pol before him — Kane — did to the office.


  • It’s amazing just how big organized crime is in trademark fraud and counterfeit products. All the profits of drugs, none of the 0530 warrant service. And the bogus Coach bags and Air Jordans both support and are supported by a vast quantity of other crimes.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

SF Invades the Oval Office

Well, it was less an invasion than an invitation. As part of their specialty training, the phase in the SF Q Course where the communicators are beating their heads against wave propagation, the medics are sweating trauma lab and the weapons men trying to learn the ins and outs of mortar FDC, one of the things the O’s do is take a field trip to several places in the national capital area, including the Executive Branch’s foreign and military policy shop, the National Security Council. One recent class got a surprise that’s not usually on the schedule — a chance to meet with President Trump. And then the President made a suggestion. (Of course a presidential suggestion carries considerable weight with the

“Halfway through the discussion, [Trump] said, ‘Hey — we’re not supposed to do this but follow me, and he brought them all into the Oval Office, took a group photograph around the Resolute desk, and then — throwing the schedules into a bit of a tizzy, said OK that’s not good enough,’” [NSC Aide Sebastian] Gorka told Breitbart News in an interview.

“He said, ‘everybody stand in the corner.’ They all stood in the corner, and one-by-one we took photographs they can take home to their family with each future Green Beret next to the president at the Oval Office desk,” Gorka said.

Gorka noted that he didn’t think such a thing had been done by the prior President. Special Forces itself, though, was plucked from obscurity by one President long ago — John F. Kennedy. There are several intertwined JFK/SF stories in SF lore, passed down through the years.

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?  Just shorts this week, or we’d never get the post up….


Is it time to disband this thing yet? (To Shulkin’s credit, every time he speaks, he asks for more authority to fire bad employees, for the sake of the good employees as much as for the vets; so maybe it’s not time yet).

Health & Fitness

Nothing new. 

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

The Patron Saint of Handgunners?

Well, he isn’t officially, but if there was one it would be Saint Gabriel Possenti, who disarmed bandits and then used their revolvers to hold them at bay. Monday was his feast day.

I, for one, welcome our new robot entertainment lords…

Minitaur was made by a university robotics lab (we think, Penn). Here it deals with rough terrain for a little ‘bot:

And here’s a little more background on the critter:

You can definitely imagine these things in a science fiction movie. Probably a dystopian one.

New Rules of Engagement?

Neca eos omnes. Deus suos cognoscen. We could get behind that.

It’s from Chris Muir’s daily, mostly political, cartoon, Day by Day. We’ve been reading it since the beginning, when there were only four characters, and it was obvious to everyone except the characters that they were destined to form two couples. We’ve also supported the strip when possible, and visited Chris in his home studio, in a unique house designed by his father, who worked on the space program in its first great days.

Three Important Phases of the Revolver-Automatic Transition

One advantage you can get from reading out-of-date books is insight to what was current thinking many years ago. Looking over L.R. Wallack’s American Pistol and Revolver Design and Performance from 1978 (one of a series of four books Wallack produced beginning in the seventies: Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol & Revolver, and a combined sporting arms Design and Performance) reminded us of what it was like to live the transition from revolvers to automatic pistols.

It didn’t happen all at once; instead, different groups of shooters transitioned at different times or in different phases. These phases were defined less by nation or area of the world, and more by the functional purpose of their firearms. The phases went approximately like this:

  • Phase I: First tier armies chose semi-autos to replace revolvers as service pistols.
  • Phase II: Bullseye target shooters embrace semi-autos for competition.
  • Phase III: Police transition from .38 or .357 revolvers to semi-autos as service pistols.
  • Phase IV: Private-Sector shooters follow, mostly, those three groups, which are more or less influential on informal sport shooters and those who purchase firearms for self- or home defense.
  • Phase V: The last group to transition are criminals, who depend on weapons stolen or otherwise diverted from the streams of lawful commerce.

Three of these phases deserve a little more explanation, for each of the first three phases was keyed to a specific need of those particular shooters.

Phase I: Militaries

Colt 1905 pistol from the US Army 1907 trials.

The armed forces of the world, often reviled as backward and hidebound, were by far the first to transition to auto pistols, most of them beginning in the fifteen years from 1899-1914. Most of these services had adopted cartridge revolvers in the 1870s, so their previous service sidearm was barely more than two decades old. (The US, for example, adopted the Colt revolver in 1873, but by 1903 was experimenting with auto pistols and by 1906 had selected a cartridge and shortlisted three pistol designs). By 1907 the Colt was nearly final, and by 1911 it was adopted and in production.

What drove the military adoption of the auto pistol was the same thing that drove the adoption of Col. Colt’s own magnificent invention fifty years earlier: the advantage more portable firepower gave to the army’s scouting, screening, and shock arm, the horse cavalry. The auto pistol trumped the revolver by providing not only more shots without reloading, but also rapid reloading, via the clip of Steyr or Mauser, or the detachable box magazine of Luger or Browning designs.

Sure, the gallant mounted branch was due to be rendered obsolete by both the superior scouting and screening that could be done by the airplane, the superior shock that came from tanks, and the increased lethality that modern machine guns and artillery brought to the battlefield. But in 1907 (Steyr), 08 (Luger), and 11 (Colt 1911) military planners expected the cavalry to be as vital as it was in the American CIvil War or Napoleonic Wars, and their preferences in a sidearm not only helped select those pistols, but also drove some of their detail design (the Colt’s grip safety was one such horse-soldier request).

Having bought the guns with cavalry in mind, services worldwide continued to use them even after the last cavalry mounts had been put out to pasture (literally or figuratively.

Phase II: Bullseye Shooters

We hadn’t thought much about why paper-punchers transitioned from revolvers to autos in the sixties and seventies of the last century. But Wallack did, and had a pretty good explanation (pp. 194-195).

Most target shooters use autos in preference to revolvers. There are several reasons. A revolver poses more problems in target shooting because it must be cocked for each shot, has a longer hammer fall and thus longer lock time, and, many shooters claim, is not as well-balanced for target work.  These are not factors for any sporting use. the point is that if your interest is purely target shooting, your choice ought to be an autoloader; but if it’s a sporting gun you have in mind, then you may choose either one according to your personal likes. ….

 The big advantage autoloaders have over revolvers would seem to be that there is only one chamber rather than the revolver’s cylinder with six to nine charge holes. This doesn’t necessarily mean better accuracy, but it does mean that it costs more to machine all the parts necessary to perfect alignment in a revolver. That means that dollar for dollar you have a better chance of getting a more accurate gun at a lower price with the auto simply because there’s less manufacturing time involved.

Autoloaders do not require you to recock the gun each time it’s fired, which is a big advantage for the target shooter, because he doesn’t have to change his grip, nor does he have to take the time to cock, but gets back on target quicker. More or less in the same breath it should be mentioned that the longer hammer fall of the revolver produces slightly lower lock time. on the other hand, it also provides a heavier and more consistent hammer fall with corresponding better indignation ignition. I suspect these to might cancel each other out.

Which gun provides a better grip is purely subjective and need not be a consideration, except that it is frequently given as a reason by many top target pistoleers and so cannot be ignored completely.

These advantages were tangible enough that a strong majority of ranked bullseye shooters were using automatics by the late seventies.

Phase III: Police Forces Transition

The police were not influenced rapidly by military or target-shooting trends, but by the late 1970s some departments were issuing auto pistols and more of them were authorizing privately-owned ones. But one particular incident out of many created enough of a stir in the law enforcement firearms community that pistols (mostly in 9mm) began replacing revolvers in a huge preference cascade that shows the inflection point being 1986.

What happened in 1986? A black day for the FBI, known forever as The Miami Shootout (it was actually in Homestead), in which a squad of FBI special agents thought they brought overwhelming force to bear on two fugitive bank robbers, only to have the robbers see their force and raise them long guns. The Bureau won the gunfight, killing both robbers, but it was a Pyrrhic victory,

Here is a clip from a TV movie that depicts this shootout with considerable accuracy. We do believe the Ruger that one robber was carrying was semi-automatic, not automatic as depicted here. In addition, the three revolver rounds a mortally wounded robber fires at wounded FBI agent Ed Mirales were fired from behind his back, and he never knew the bandit was behind hi shooting (other eyewitnesses saw this). Apart from those two details, it’s pretty close. (We’ll post an FBI training video about this shootout down below so that you can see for yourself).

Here’s the FBI training video. It doesn’t have the production values of the Hollywood version, but it’s official. Make sure you get through the full-speed re-enactment to get to the slowed-down, annotated version with narration by a surviving (wounded) agent.

The FBI was transitioning to 9mm Smith & Wesson Model 459 automatic pistols at the time of this shootout; but the shootout drove a stake into that gun’s future with the Bureau.

This shootout drove the auto pistol transition faster, encouraged many other departments to follow the lead of the FBI, and also was instrumental in (1) the creation or adoption of more powerful police rounds (first a hotter 9mm for the FBI, then 10mm auto, .40 S&W), and (2) the provision of patrol carbines and training on them to law enforcement officers.

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2017 Week 08

Tour d’Horizon is more honestly a tour of open tabs that have been annoying and irritating us.


I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Copper Alloy Hunting Bullets

Very interesting link sent in by a reader, showing these remarkable hunting bullets made by Lutz Möller. They are available in Europe, and these particular ones are for the Continental big-game caliber, 9.3 x 60 mm. The hybrid design produces fragmentation (of the point section only) and also penetration (of the main slug, the base of which is hollow to control for weight and stability). Note the five narrow driving bands, and how they alone are marked by the rifling lands. The Möller site is fascinating and full of things we did not know, like the European CIP playing games with throat sizes for the .50 BMG (12.7 x 99) cartridge. (Möller, cued by one of his customers, calls it “castration” of the round, as the oversize throat CIP specifies ruins accuracy). The bulk of the site is in the Awful German Language®, so know that tongue, or (shudder) pop the URL into

DeLisle for Our Euro Friends

We’ve covered a couple of the DeLisle clones made in the USA, but they’re scant consolation to our European friends, who may have difficulty importing firearms from the New World (their authorities seem to see the United States as something like Isla Nublar, home of Jurassic Park).

The Firearm Blog has found a Scots manufacturer, Shandwick Engineering, that clones the silenced carbine in regular or folding-stock, and firing or display, and such a thing may be an easier import to the Continent — at least, until Brexit. More pics at the link.

In the States, unfortunately, Special Interest Arms is discontinuing their less accurate copies, citing a lack of available actions and parts

ARs, Ammo, and Accuracy

Herschel Smith takes a deep dive into accuracy and what it means for the practical AR or military rifle/carbine shooter. He concludes that M855A1 has been oversold, but that any decent AR with decent ammo with a bullet that is matched to its twist rate can probably outshoot most of the guys who shoot it.

Therefore, the best thing any of us can do: buy quality ammo, and practice more. Sounds reasonable to us, but you will want to Read The Whole Thing™ and watch the videos and follow the links he had provided in this most thorough post.

Gun Stocks update NEW-ish

Anyway you want it: we have the table, our analysis, and the popular chart.

Gun Stocks since the Election
11/8/16 (pre-election) 64.40 28.45 38.94
11/18/16 53.20 24.13 40.02
11/25/16 52.50 23.82 41.05
12/2/16 50.25 21.10 39.66
12/9/16 51.90 21.07 38.62
12/16/16 53.45 21.59 36.81
12/23/16 54.05 22.11 38.03
12/30/16 52.70 21.08 36.90
1/6/17 54.15 21.00 38.08
1/13/17 51.35 20.60 28.70
1/20/17 50.65 20.13 27.78
1/27/17 51.90 20.58 28.33
2/3/17 50.05 20.12 26.18
2/10/17 50.15 21.08 21.58
2/17/17 49.70 19.22 20.89
2/24/17 (2/23) 50.15 19.40 20.19

Everybody’s down this week, in the absence of concrete news, some approaching or achieving 52-week lows. Ruger released its Q4 and year-end 2016 financials Wednesday. The numbers were good: sales were up over 20%, Earnings Per Share over 40%, and sell-through (from RGR’s distributors to retailers) up 12%, while NSSF adjusted NICS were up 10%. Taken together, this suggests that inventory may be starting to build up in the channel, but Ruger also noted that what was driving sales and revenues (both of which beat Wall Street estimates) was primarily new products sales. AOBC was up a little, and VSTO continued a slow decline. (needs new chart below)

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov 16. It bottomed in the 40s later that day. We do like the dividend, as mentioned before; we received 44¢ per share for Q4 2016, announced Wednesday.


  • Sumdood 3D Printed a Suppressor, after getting an approved Form 1. He used a threaded insert to increase what would otherwise be the butterfly life of this thing.
  • Cheap .303 British, on sale for $81 a can from Midway. Stuff is nasty: dirty outside, corrosive primed, nonreloadable brass, Pakistan production. But it is cheap. Do not tumble these rounds as the filling is cordite and 40 or more years old. It’ll shoot fine with tarnish on it, it will not shoot fine with the cordite propellant replaced by little random sized flakes.
  • Gander Mountain to File Bankruptcy Case. TFB is reporting (as are financial sites) that the hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation chain is deep in the hole. If there’s any hope for the chain to pull it out, the filing will be Chapter 11; otherwise it will be a Chapter 7 liquidation.

Gun Poly-Ticks

Appeals Court Erases 2nd Amendment

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has, in a new ruling, made the 2nd Amendment null and void by ruling that, we are not making this up, it doesn’t apply to any weapon having a military use. (Yes, this is a complete reversal of the ruling in Miller, the 1939 Supreme Court case that was about half of all 2nd Amendment case law until recent decades, not to mention Heller and McDonald). Sebastian explains:

[T]he 4th Circuit sitting en banc, in a 10-4 ruling deciding the fate of Maryland “assault weapons ban” have held that weapons that are “most useful in military service” are simply categorically unprotected. Because almost all modern firearms have a military pedigree, this interpretation would allow nearly any firearm to be banned.

The ruling was 10-4. Just let that sink in. That’s not even close. We have had to convince four additional judges to prevail here.

Sebastian goes on to show how this decision was the consequence of, primarily, two two-term presidents packing the court with liberals. (Some judges don’t dance with the party that brung ’em; the worst judge on the 4th Circuit for 2A is a Reagan appointee, and the author of the stinging dissent was appointed by President Clinton. But by and large you can predict a judge’s vote if you know who appointed him).

Guy Goes to Prison for Sharing His CNC Machine

Once again, Sebastian has the basic facts of the case. By his conduct and attitude this guy, Daniel Crowninshield aka Doctor Death(!), made himself a target for the ATF. With more violations found when the warrant was served, he wound up with him pleading out; a cleaner suspect might have won on the manufacturing charge (he essentially talked customers through operation of his CNC. ATF says that’s manufacturing w/o a license) but a guy looking at an unlicensed MG rap had better not.

This ATF case was enough of an overreach that mild law professor Glenn Reynolds called for the agency to be disbanded: “Abolish the ATF.” The libertarian-leaning Reynolds is pro-gun, but not the sort of Establishment figure who declares war on Federal agencies.

And then, ATF Had this Slush Fund… as we reported yesterday.

Virtue Signaling Costs Money

And The National Shooting Sports Foundation has quantified it for the innumerate Governor of Connecticut (.pdf), Dannel (“Mom was too baked to spell ‘Daniel'”) Malloy. NSSF:

During a period of strong growth in other states, companies have left the state and shifted new production to other states after Gov. Malloy’s public attacks against the industry.

Over 3,000 jobs lost, in-state wages down by 36%, state taxes paid declined by 37%, contribution to state’s economy down by nearly $700 million.

Geez, NSSF. Didn’t Napoleon tell you never to interrupt an enemy while he was making a mistake?


Usage and Employment

 The hardware takes you only half way. Nothing this week. 

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment. Lots of Cop Was a Crim this week.

Assault Rifles? That’s Not How People Get Killed

In 2014, you are 67% less likely to be murdered by an assault weapon or rifle than you were in 1995

Revolving Door, Pardons and Commutations Dep’t

President Obama freed thousands of violent criminals and drug dealers, causing cynics to predict that they’d be doing new crimes in no time at all. So far, the crims are not letting cynics down. You heard about the guy that got whacked right after his release. Well, another coke dealer whose life sentence the last President had erased, was just recaptured after a violent vehicle chase — with a kilo of coke. The guy is 68 years old, and now he’s back inside for a while — at least, until the Democrats get back in.

Huh, This One Didn’t Fight Deportation

Why did criminal alien Abdulrahman Abduljalil stop fighting deportation? While he was likely to be released under the ancien régime, he was probably going to prison after the administration change: he is a kiddie diddler who raped two children in Weymouth, Massachusetts. (They were a boy of 9 and his younger sister, whose age wasn’t reported).

Abduljalil was deported by immigration officials on Jan. 24, a day before he was due in court for a pre-trial hearing.

The mother of the victims says she was shocked to hear he was sent home and is now looking for answers.

Under Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of sharia law,  there’s no crime in what he did, as long as the victims are of a lower social class, female, or non-moslems.

The Perils of Kathleen: Send in the Clones!

We should have known that the anti-gun felon AG’s absence from the news last week was only a tease. She’s baaaaack  — and there’s a clone growing in the test tubes of the AG’s office. .

  • Item 19 Feb: A New Rising Star in Kane’s Image is new deputy AG for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Michelle Henry. Like Kane, the new deputy was a prosecutor before taking on this political role (her boss, Josh Shapiro, is a career politician bereft of courtroom experience). Like Kane, her last be case was the Kane case — but Henry was the prosecutor.

We’re getting a strong signal that Oennsylvania law is not going to settle down and fly right under the nouveau régime any more than it did under the last.

There’s a New Sheriff in Town, and One Crooked Card Game Just Closed

Chelsea Clinton’s in-laws are both former Congressthings, but one in-law is an outlaw, too; her father in law Edward Maurice Mezvinsky wore Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate number 55040-066 on his orange jumpsuit for five years, for running a crooked hedge fund and cheating his investors. (Somehow, the investors never got made whole, but the Mezvinskys stayed rich).

Her husband, Mark Mezvinsky, is a chip off the old block, running a hedge fund that lost vast sums, but looked an awful lot like a marketing scheme for access to the Clinton (H.) Administration. For whatever reason, Mezvinsky’s top cover from the White House and the DOJ having ended on or about 20 January, his hedge fund Eaglevale Parters is now being liquidated, and what remains of would-be influence buyers’ money is being returned, according to Bloomberg.

The decision to liquidate Eaglevale was taken after the election.

Speaking of Fraud Dep’t

An Iranian scammer who bilked investors of $300 million, including investors in two paper mills here in New Hampshire, is about to be released from prison after serving a fraction of his Federal sentence — and Mehdi Ghabadazaydeh’s health, which always plagued him at convenient junctures during his trial and incarceration, seems to be looking up as he gets closer to freedom — and to the money, which was never recovered.

He’s clearly not a good citizen; if we’re not going to keep this rotter locked up, shouldn’t he get to enjoy his money amongst the mullahs and chadors of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Don’t do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time Dep’t

Call him a Waaahmbulance: also here in the ‘Shire, murderer Alberto Ramos sued NH for shipping him out to a Florida prison, on the interesting claim that he had ineffective assistance of counsel, since the then-mouthpiece didn’t tell the minor-tried-as-an-adult he might get a prison far away from his friends. (Like his special prison pal, the pedo priest). He lost [.pdf]. Sad!

Shorts (none)

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. 

The Nature of Islam is Political Islam

At his own blog, where he’s normally focused mostly on human biodiversity, polymath Razib Khan makes a good-faith effort to understand Islam — he himself is of Islamic extraction but apparently no personal religion — and points out several instances where other analysts either helped him along, or fell short.

Some of these fell short of good-faith; others fell short of effort. Razib’s attempts are a model we might all benefit by emulating.

This Doesn’t Mean He’s Going to Fix Windows Security

Bill Gates has decided that bioterrorism is bad, m’kay, and he’s going to stand up and warn us all about the dangers of viruses.

Trust us, Bill, any of the sad sacks who bought a computer with one of your operating systems any time in the last thirty years is all spun up on the dangers of viruses. First hand.

You know, when facing a thorny problem, the first thing everyone thinks is, “we need the input of a rich lawyer’s son who got fantastically richer by cheating an inventor out of his product for $50k.”

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™? 

Hundreds of VA “Employees” are Paid by Taxpayers, but Work for Unions

The VA actually pays union representatives to negotiate against it. About 350 of them work full-time for the union representing bad employees and negotiating for even plusher pay and benefits, while being paid out of money that was appropriated for veterans, not pinky-ring union bosses. Thousands more work part time for the union, but still on the taxpayer dime.

Is it time to disband this thing yet? It only runs for the benefit of the insiders, not the ostensible beneficiaries.

Health & Fitness

Back on a Cardio Schedule

Finally. That’s in addition to to strength training with Jason Gould of Seacoast Strength. We’re ramping back up to our status-quo-ante objective of 1000 kcal/day per the machine readouts (which, we know, are somewhat bogus. But it’s a goal that will get our carcass onto the machinery).

About Strength Training & Seacoast Strength

Two words: highly recommended. Just this evening (Friday) we were walking the edge of the (unfilled) Endless Pool that’s part of a family member’s home addition, swinging around stairs and scaffolds over a bone-crushing drop with the agility and confidence we haven’t had since before another bone-crushing drop (that one, involving a parachute, a hook turn too low, and a paved taxiway) in January, 2004. Actually, the drop wasn’t bone-crushing at all, but the sudden stop at the end…

You may laugh, but the ability to stand on either foot, over a decade after being assured by orthopods, podiatrists, and physical therapists, that that was over, is an absolute freaking joy. 

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

Chinese Catholics Fear Betrayal


Members of the underground Catholic church in officially-atheistic China hold Mass in secret, and fear betrayal to the authorities, with all the consequences that can bring. What has changed is who they see as a threat — “liberation theology” Pope Francis.

And to Close on an Upbeat… literally.

As recommended by another guy on Gab. Classic rocker Rick Derringer is a gun guy (with a name like that, naturally!) who always travels with a gun… some 50 times on a commercial jet. Well, Time 51 and the TSA caught him, and he has entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge and paid a $1k fine (and TSA gets to show off his pistol).

You may not remember Rick, but he’s probably best known for two guitar outings — the solo on the sappy 1960s pop hit, Hang on Sloopy, and his own Greatest Hit, performed here in 1973 with his buddy Edgar Winter’s band.

We saw Winter live (can’t remember with or without Derringer) in college in 1977 and it was a hell of a show.

How Do You Avoid Making Immoral Decisions?

This is an interesting question; now, the word “immoral” will probably offend everyone who grew up in the slipstream of the “do your own thing” sixties, but even if you have been conditioned to be uncomfortable with the word “moral,” you have a set of unspoken, moral beliefs: that it is preferable to tell the truth than to lie, to play fair than to cheat, to do the hard right rather than the easy wrong.

Turns out, scientists study this stuff, with clever experiments designed to see what conditions break people loose from their integrity and encourage cheating. Some people will never lie, cheat or steal, no matter what; others will always lie, cheat and steal, even when it’s obviously not in their best interests. But most of us are somewhere closer to the center of a bell curve of behaviors centered between those outlying points of Never and Always.

The Art of Manliness has a profound post on this research and what it means for the man (or, equally, woman, even though men are the target audience) who wants to do the right thing and be known for that.

Some things, some conditions, some choices, increase the likelihood of success in that endeavor. Consider the “honor group.”

Become a member of an honor group.…[T]he more you consider the person you see being dishonest to be a member of the same social group, the more they can influence your ideas of right and wrong. Somewhere in your subconscious you think, “They’re like me and they think doing that is okay, so maybe it’s okay for me to do that too.” We’re even more vulnerable to an example of bad behavior from an authority figure we respect, like a parent, coach, or pastor; these should-be mentors aren’t just like us, they’re people we aspire to become and look to as exemplars.

Courtney Massengales may be born, not made, but their very existence spawns imitators. But it also spawns… resistance!

The really interesting thing, however, is that it also works the opposite way; seeing someone act immorally who we consider outside our social group can inspire us to be better.

In one of the most interesting [studies], instead of the actor/confederate being someone who seemed like all the other student participants, he wore a sweatshirt from the college’s rival school. In this so-called “outsider-Madoff” condition, the participants claimed to solve 6 fewer matrices than in the straight Madoff group. When we see someone act badly whom we consider to be from a different and morally inferior social group than our own, we are reminded that we don’t want to be like them and increase our good behavior in order to distance ourselves from identifying with them.

It’s distancing, not scapegoating, but the same dynamics of human/group psychology are at play.

Honor groups are essentially premised on this principle; the group compares itself to other groups and considers itself to be better/stronger/more moral than any other. The group competes to maintain this reputation and members police each other to uphold standards that will buttress their claim to pride. This kind of “us vs. them” mentality isn’t very popular these days, but I believe it can counter-intuitively be quite healthy in bringing out the best in us.

Wow. But wait! Where have we seen this before? Why, certainly, in military training. Doesn’t every unit and branch of service try to inculcate both a feeling of separateness and righteousness in its members? You’re better than the other platoon, company, battalion, brigade, division, and everyone’s better than those bell-bottomed sailors. (Of course, the Navy has its own version.

In a way, it’s a bleak outlook for humanity, because the tincan sailors whomping on the guys from the next DD over will join together if faced with the submariner threat, and they’ll all fight the Marines or Army, but how is that any different from the Afghan tribesman’s, “me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother and cousin against the next village; us and our village against…”?

Well, psychologically, it isn’t. But you can deplore it, or you can exploit it. You can even ignore it, but you can’t make it go away. It is. 

Of course, group morality only works if you have a group. In or out of the group, a personal code is a rock you can lean upon.

Know and be firm in your honor code. While we all may be influenced by our friends to varying degrees, the firmer and clearer we are as to our principles and standards, the less swayed we will be by the actions and examples of others. Is your personal honor code vague and squishy, or is it set in a firm foundation and as clear as the noon-day sun? Have you taken the time to reflect on your principles? Do you know how and why you arrived at embracing them or are they unexamined beliefs you have absorbed from your upbringing and culture?

Whether you are amongst members of your honor group or far afield with those who do not share your values, your personal honor code will act as a constant source of direction so that you act as the same man wherever you go and with whomever you meet.

They conclude with a reminder that this morality stuff is real and solid:

There is a popular viewpoint these days that ridicules the idea that one individual’s personal decisions and behavior could possibly have an effect on the behavior of others. But what the scientific research on the subject tells us is that it is in fact ridiculous not to realize that each person’s actions have an ever-so-subtle ripple effect that influences others and the culture at large.

…and if you put it to work for you, the benefits will redound to you, of course, but will spread far and wide. The concept of immoral thought, expediency and misconduct as contagious pathogens is something that has broad and deep application.

This thoughtful article is Part III of a series that has four parts so far.

When You Screw up in the Workshop

This is a plane story, just because our latest screwup was in fabricating a landing light, but it could definitely be a gunsmithing story, so we’re going to run with it.

The lights, a kit option, are not shown on this factory drawing. The landing light has two little stub ribs to hold it in place, and fits between the most outboard two nose ribs in the right wing. Image: Van’s Aircraft.

After several weeks stalled by finicky wiring issues, the Blogbrother and Your Humble Blogger finally had the wiring to our second and last wing completed. First, a little stage-setting. Both wings have tip strobe/position lights, with several wires that have to be connected just so using archaic Molex connectors. Each wing has one extra challenge: the stall warning system on the left side, and the landing light on the right. The stall warning side is done, so completing the tip light wiring and connectors, and completing and installing the landing light parts, were the last hold-ups.

The RV-12’s left wingtip (shown) has been put to bed. Before we can do the right one, we have to tackle the landing light.

Working with the smallest size Molex pins and connectors is finicky, mentally demanding work, and you have to be fresh to do it. At last the tip light wiring was done, and the landing light assembly was ready for its moment in the spotlight. The wiring and Molexes all went swimmingly — over several days, because the necessity of turning words on a page into wire positions in the connectors was brain-frying. Small Dog MkII could detect the stress, and he went off and hid in our messy office, and ate something that turned his muzzle black. (Inkjet printer cartridge is the odds-on favorite. He also ate the lower half of the book jacket of The Bay of Pigs and part of a package that OTR used to send us some info). It’s not like he goes unfed, the toothy little thing.

The landing light itself bolts, with bolts you absolutely, positively cannot reach once the wing is closed out, to two small ribs, and so adjusting the angle is important as you really only get one chance. Then the ribs are riveted in place. With much imprecation and a blasphemy or two we got the assembly into place and clecoed in.

Then the lens goes in, held by eight screws that go, four each, through the acrylic lens, into a pair of brackets that took too long to fabricate themselves. (Each bracket has a rivnut that is held on with two flush rivets. People think of flush rivets as something used on an aircraft’s exterior for aerodynamic reasons, but they’re often used internally when a fastener head must not interfere with part fit, especially on 110-knot airplanes where it isn’t the rivet heads standing between you and the speed of sound). It was clear that the lens could not be put in without a hand in the back holding it.

You know, right where the light assembly and sub ribs were.

So out came the ribs, the light assembly (now wired in place) was lain down, and a hand snaked through to put the lens and Cleco it in place… which meant going to get smaller Clecos, as the ones we used with the Nº 30 holes in the sheet metal were too small to go through the threaded part of the rivnut. (Fortunately, the right Clecos were available downstairs in the gun, etc, shop’s toolboxes, not requiring a wait until Fastenal opens in the morning).

If we had not already cut the hole in the leading edge of the wing, we’d have thrown the light somewhere out in the trackless snow, to puzzle us in spring, and resolved to fly in daylight only.

But we worked through it, got everything Clecoed into place, and when Blogbro arrived for the night’s work, we had cunningly arranged it so that all that needed to be done was screw in 8 screws in place of the small Clecos, start up the compressor, rivet 10 rivets to permanently install the landing light, and then, rivet the wingtip skins in place, leaving the wing complete except for a fiberglass wingtip strobe/position light fairing (glass work awaits warmer weather).

For one brief, shining moment, all was going swimmingly. Like the Red Baron, a photo jinxed us.

Ten minutes later, tightening the brass screws that hold the landing light lens in place, we heard a soft crack. Reacting to our emotions, probably, rather than the sound, Small Dog alerted.

Yep, the lens had cracked.

We now faced a decision, and that’s what makes this story of airplane building germane to anyone who smites guns, or, really, builds anything out of anything: what do you do when you screw up?

Fortunately, screwing up is not a novel experience (we are the Rong Brothers after all, because we’re two brothers building a plane, and we’re not the Wright Brothers). And we have a drill for when we bugger a part.

  1. First, Stop. This is something that has to be considered dispassionately. You’re never dispassionate right after you have blown something, as the color of your language attests.
  2. Second, consider your options. For most screwups of this nature that have damaged a part, the options are three:
    1. Use the part as is;
    2. Replace the part;
    3. Repair the part.
  3. Understand why you damaged the part so that if you are working with a repaired or replaced part, you don’t do the exact same thing.

This is a pretty generic, top-level troubleshooting menu that will work for anything. Sometimes only one of the three corrective strategies works. In this case, we could have used any of the three.

  1. A cracked lens is not a safety of flight item. We could have made a command decision to sign off on it and live with it. Since a crack in acrylic will propagate until it stops (usually at the opposite edge of the part) this did not seem like an optimal solution.
  2. Replacing the part would have the factory ship us a strip of properly curved acrylic from which we would cut, drill, countersink, and generally fabricate a replacement part. It’s probably the right answer for a part on a new airplane. “I’ll order the part in the morning,” Blogbro sighed (it was his turn). “But I’m not going to pay a fortune for next day air, like you do. It comes when it comes. We can work on the fuselage.” (That’s easy for him to say, it doesn’t cost him another stall in the garage to work on wings and fuse simultaneously).
  3. There is an approved repair for acrylic cracks in low-speed aircraft, and if you look closely at older small planes you will often see it. This consists of drilling a hole at the very end of the crack to stop further propagation of the crack, and reinstalling the part (this is called, logically enough, “stop-drilling”). Stop-drilling is used for cracks in acrylic, and non-structural fiberglass or aluminum parts like fairings, every day. But we already know that we will not do this. We are not trying to make the best RV-12 ever built, but we’ve seen a lot of builders’ handiwork and we are trying, and so far, succeeding, in building a very good one.

You will always have these choices. Repair, replace, let be.

Here’s a concrete example: in the past six months we’ve received not one, not two, but four firearms with inoperable or frozen safeties, three of them collector pieces. “Replace” is of little interest in rare collector firearms, and may not be possible in a product that was discontinued 50 or 70 or 90 years ago; although one could always fabricate a replacement part. (Someone, once, built it. Therefore, you can rebuild it. Whether that is cost-effective or wise is another question entirely). “Use as is” obviously was satisfactory for the last owners, because, let’s face it, most collector firearms never see a round and most dealers disclaim any idea of their safety or suitability for firing. But being unable to apply a safety bugs us, so we’re going to fix three of the four. (The fourth was bycatch in an auction lot, and is a junker not worth fixing. We will disclose the safety problem when we dump it, unlike the large auction house that sold it to us).

Yes, we’ll definitely choose repair as our fix for those safeties. As soon as we get the %#^#^!! landing light and wingtip done.

ATF Headquarters Ran Fraud to Fund Undercovers

Unable to spend appropriated funds on some agency priorities, agents ran an operation, under direct verbal control of headquarters, to sell off stolen property (cigarettes and tobacco). They didn’t do this as a smuggling sting as they have done before, but to raise money secretly for further clandestine, off-the-books and outside-the-law operations. The New York Times received the leak (probably as a result of the Mob War of Succession between the Ron Turk and Tom Brandon “families” in ATF HQ):

How that arrangement began is unclear. Ryan Kaye, an A.T.F. supervisor, testified that the [slush fund] was created “as a result of verbal directives from the A.T.F. program office and other headquarters officials.” Mr. Kaye’s full statement is sealed, but excerpts are cited in one publicly available document.

Verbal directives, i.e. “commit nothing to writing,” are not a standard or remotely legal way of doing any undercover operation. They are, in fact, a crime.

We smell the Chief Counsel’s Office, ATF’s equivalent of the Ninth Ring of Perdition. The only other ATF agent publicly identified as involved in the years-long fraud is one Thomas Lesnak, since retired, but dozens of ATF officials seem to have been involved — and, possibly, to have profited.

The operation came to light because the ATF and its informants cheated a group of tobacco farmers out of $24 million, for which the victims are now suing. At least $1M of the farmers’ money was skimmed by the ATF on behalf of each of two of the ATF’s paid informants, Jason Carpenter and Christopher Small. The whereabouts of the other $22 million are unknown at this time — spent on undercover operations, pocketed by agents or supervisors, or some combination of the above, most likely.

The Obama Justice Department fought a battle to keep the corruption trial out of the press, and until something happened in January, the New York Times went along.

It gets better… the government denies all wrongdoing, and have gotten a rubber-spined judge to seal nearly all documents in the case. But somehow the IRS has decided that they ought to make an example of the cheated farmers in this case: by demanding they pay taxes on the money the ATF stole from them. Read The Whole Thing™.

It seems like this is a case made for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.

Updates on Two Stories: Rock Island Auction, and NH Constitutional Carry

The Rock Island Auction company and our fellow bidders were completely unimpressed with our 28 bids, and we got nothin’ to show for it.

Don’t feel too bad about us missing the bids, though. We just landed an uncommon .32 CZ-82 on GunBroker for less than we bid on either of two we got outbid on at Rock Island, and that’s before we’d have had to pay the buyer’s premium.

Anyway, while the auction might have been a skunker for us, it wasn’t for the bidders on around 6,000 lots containing around 10,000 firearms.. and it definitely wasn’t for the auction house. They cleared $8 million for themselves and their consignors… and that also tells us that, despite some rare Colts and Winchesters going for nosebleed prices, the average price of a firearm was under $1,000. This is not only a game for people who send their butlers to the auction in the family Learjet. You can still play even if all you got is an RV-12, and it’s in pieces. (Although, technically, it’s the Blogbrother’s RV).

One of the things that sold was this World War II German sniper rifle… for $13,800:

A trifle, that rifle! (We think that’s more than our Mausers. All of them. Combined). And another was this World War II Jeep… for $9k and change (hey, the sniper rifle was in better shape. This Jeep is actually pretty rough).

Breaking industry records and selling 10,000+ guns in four days is a fantastic way to start off a year of exceptional firearms auctions. Thankfully, you all thought so too. Accompanying this record number of firearms was a record number of sealed bids, a staggering amount of participation from our collector friends, and a result that is both humbling and impressive.

They’re actually a pleasure to deal with, so they probably mean that “humbling” bit.

Because of the support from you and thousands of like-minded firearms enthusiasts, 2017 begins on a previously unimaginable threshold. For that, we offer our sincere gratitude and will continue to strive to make buying or consigning with RIAC better than ever before.

They have some more details on the results of the auction on their website. If you’re one of the skunked, like us, you might want to look at the .pdf of the prices realized and see just how badly you were skunked. (We haven’t done the correlation yet, but at a glance it looks like we were laughably low. On everything).

Like the Jews used to say, “Next year in Jerusalem” (maybe the ones who are not in Jerusalem still do?), next auction we’ll be in there bidding, and we’ll be bidding harder for the things we really want, which were not present in great quantities in this auction (Czech and Czechoslovak rarities).

More auctions are ahead at RIA.

The first is our March 23rd Online Only Auction, the catalog for which is up now and may be browsed at your convenience.

We’ve often found good stuff in the Online Only Auctions, but our definition of Good Stuff may not be yours. We didn’t find anything of buying interest in this one, but a lot to look at.

The next is the year’s first Premiere Auction, to be held May 5 – 7.

The best stuff is at the Premiere Auctions (bigger stuff than some of the six-figure sales this last auction had). How good is that “best stuff”? Well, here’s a Luger. A US Army test Luger. In .45. One of two.

No, we won’t be bidding on that. But we’ll enjoy looking at the rest of the pictures when they post ’em.

Constitutional Carry NH

Let’s not forget the political news, also: as expected, Governor Chris Sununu signed SB12, Constitutional Carry, into law in New Hampshire. Half the states in New England now require no permit. Thirteen states are CC or limited CC already. And the trend is accelerating. Several more states may go CC this year; others will only be prevented by an anti-2nd-Amendment governor’s veto. Here’s what it looks like as a rough chart (apologies for the missing labels. The years run from 1990 to 2017):

This happened despite a purple state, a pro-gun community that was divided among several factions (the NRA even thanked the “local groups,” plural; at one time there were three squabbling gun rights groups) and an NRA paid lobbyist who was a Fudd and single-handedly killed the bill in a previous session. It took the election of a solidly pro-gun majority in both houses, and a pro-gun Governor. (The previous governor had vetoed the bill… twice). The large small-l libertarian minority in New Hampshire were crucial allies in this effort, as well; other Republican legislative priorities (like right-to-work) haven’t passed in this session, but there was real grassroots support for SB12, and the only opposition was paid lobbyists and out-of-state paid activists.

One of the three squabbling factions’ website is no longer active, so perhaps we fractious and flinty New England turkey herders can learn to speak with one voice, even if we can’t always get along. And maybe you can help add your state to the baker’s dozen on this list:

Year # of States State Comments
1990 1 VT Since 18th Cent.
1991 2 VT, MT MT exempts municipalities though.
1992 2 VT, MT
1993 2 VT, MT
1994 2 VT, MT
1995 2 VT, MT
1996 2 VT, MT
1997 2 VT, MT
1998 2 VT, MT
1999 2 VT, MT
2000 2 VT, MT
2001 2 VT, MT
2002 2 VT, MT
2003 3 VT, MT, AK True CC in AK
2004 3 VT, MT, AK
2005 3 VT, MT, AK
2006 3 VT, MT, AK
2007 3 VT, MT, AK
2008 3 VT, MT, AK
2009 3 VT, MT, AK
2010 4 VT, MT, AK, AZ True CC in AZ also
2011 5 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY WY limits it to residents
2012 5 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY
2013 6 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY, AR True CC in AR
2014 6 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY, AR
2015 9 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY, AR, KS, MS, ME +3 year!
2016 11 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY, AR, KS, MS, ME, WV, ID +2 year
2017 13 VT, MT, AK, AZ, WY, AR, KS, MS, ME, WV, ID, MO, NH +2 and the year is still young

Your humble blogger called Governor Sununu’s office and urged him to sign the bill, and will call again to thank him. You can thank him too when you come to the Granite State and carry your personal firearm.

Oh, and One Last Thing…

We only promised two updates, but here’s a third: as he said he would, Kim du Toit is blogging again (he’s got an enormous splash picture, so scroll down to find the content). And his GoFundMe is still live; he’s using the money to pay down medical bills from Connie’s long illness, and to pay down his own student loans. (Guy finally went and got a degree, God bless him).

Make Army Uniforms Great Again

Army Times did a survey on uniforms recently, and either did it in cooperation with, or at least discussed the results with, the Sergeant Major of the Army.  Traditionally, the SMA is a very influential voice on uniforms, although it’s always the Chief of Staff — top general — whose decision is final. Several messages came through loud and clear, and they’re quite interesting, especially to old fossils who mostly wore other uniforms than the ones the boys and girls are rocking in 2017. (We’ve got bottle green service station attendant fatigues and Okinawa-made tiger stripes hanging up in a closet, not to mention other uniform styles of the sixties through the nineties. Perhaps some day we’ll actually fit into those ancient uniforms, maybe for burial).

Our take on the survey results:

  • Wow, the troops really despise the black beret.
  • The blue Army Service Unifom which replaced the dressier Army Blue uniform and the standard green service uniform worn (in a couple of variations) since 1957 is not quite as loathed, but there is no love for it.
  • There’s heavy nostalgia for great-granddad’s service uniforms of World War II, especially the tan khakis and the officers’ “pinks and greens” (tan trou and shirt with an OD jacket).
  • There seems to be a big difference between what men and women want in terms of uniforms, and there’s a schism between what young women and career female sergeants major want.

The Black Beret

SMA  Dailey has made it pretty clear that the beret, which is now worn as little as possible (due, naturally, to everybody hating it) is not going away. Having to be the adult in the room, he asks the reasonable question: if we get rid of it, what next? The previous hats worn with the service uniform were both hated, too: the bus driver’s saucer hat, and the overseas cap, known to all in the service by a female-anatomically explicit pejorative. (Women had different hats, which they hated, too). But the troops are quite clear in wanting to return to the status quo ante of berets being worn only by SF, Rangers, and Airborne soldiers. (This survey result is the same whether you survey those guys that would keep the berets — although a significant minority of them would gladly toss them, too — and the guys that would lose them under a reversion to pre-Shinseki rules).

No one seems to discuss one reason that the specialist forces prize their berets: the berets bear considerable unit personalization. Paratroopers wear the flash of their brigade or even battalion; Rangers have a flash that is their own (and the Ranger training establishment a different one); every Special Forces Group has its own flash with its own significance. For example, after a period in which the red and gold of the Free Vietnam flag was banished, 5th Special Forces Group recently reclaimed those colors on its black flash. Initially, when the black beret was inflicted on the Army as a whole, and the Rangers given a tan beret as a consolation prize, there was some talk that regular Army units would be permitted to develop their own flashes to accommodate their own unit pride, but this was quickly crib-smothered on cost and uniformity grounds, and every soldier wears the same blue flash with white stars. (There is a small pin-on crest, the Distinctive Unit Insignia, that is worn with every beret, but it’s often of a large unit rather than a natural nexus of unit pride. For example, all SF soldiers in all groups wear the same SF crest over their unit’s distinctive flash).

If you’re going to make every soldier in the army wear the same hat, it should be a sharp-looking hat. This may mean different hats for men and women, which the men and women are cool with but the womyn and social justice warriors are not.

The field uniform hat, which basically is the old 1951 vintage field cap (and which the Rangers kept alive during the grim baseball-cap years), seems popular enough. It’s better than any of the WWII field hats, as long as there’s also a boonie hat for field use, too.

The Service Uniform and the WWII Tradition

The Army started down an unhappy path in 1957 when they began to phase out World War II era uniforms in favor of a new green uniform modeled in part on the open-collar version of the Wehrmacht uniform, and in part on the uniform issued to metropolitan bus drivers at the time. This Army Green uniform soldiered on for about 50 years (with some slight changes of hue and material) until its recent replacement, supplemented by a blue uniform for semiformal occasions, a variety of officers-only full formal rigs, and a service undress “class B” uniform that was a shortsleeved khaki nod to WWII until 1981 or so, and thereafter just the pants and shirt of the Class A greens.

Unkind commenters noted that the green uniform was picked in 1957 because it was better at hiding out of shape middle-aged generals’ and NCOs’ rotund physical condition, than the pinks and greens or Ike jackets of wartime. Kinder commenters noted that it was more like the suits won by businessmen; that was one of the official justifications for the change, at the time.

The green bus driver uniform was replaced by a similar sack suit, only in blue, so it’s more of a doorman suit, or perhaps a 1920s Officer-Paddy-McGillicuddy-of-the-NYPD suit. For daily service wear, it lost the soaring NCO stripes and other flourishes of the formal Army Blue uniform, which harkened back to the Civil War and Indian Wars.

Anybody who’s watched period documentaries or war movies set in the unpleasantness of 1941-45 has noted how much better looking those uniforms are that today’s formless, characterless bags. (Although it’s hard to untangle that from how much better looking the Hollywood stars playing soldiers are, than actual soldiers — except that we really were a stunningly handsome bunch in the 10th Special Forces Group, who could have been matinee idols if we hadn’t felt the call to service).

The old uniforms are approved both on tradition and on style grounds — on fit troops, they look great. We note the Marines cleverly played into this by still wearing their WWII vintage service uniform. And their troops are consistently the sharpest looking. Coincidence?

While some of the other changes are definitely not going to happen, we can definitely see SMA Dailey bringing in a recommendation for a return to WWII styles, perhaps pinks and greens (for all ranks this time) or Ike jackets (probably as an option). And for Pete’s sake, put patches and tabs back on the shoulders, and officers’ branch insignia in the collar area, of all uniforms. Rank in the center of the chest was created in order to have a place to pin rank on Gore-tex jackets without losing the waterproofing, but what started as an unwillingly-forced Least Bad Option has spread like ebola. You want your soldiers looking at each other’s face and head area for rank cues, not center of mass. And you want to know if the captain who corners you in the TOC is the battle captain (guy running things for the commander) or some inconsequential dweeb from MI or the Quartermaster Corps.

Women Trouble?

While male soldiers are all in favor of such changes, women are ambivalent. This is especially true of long-service NCOs, who are more likely than one-termers to be — how shall we put this delicately? — sexual minorities, and to enjoy dressing up just like men, in male or unisex clothing. (They’re the ones who go off duty in plaid flannel shirts and Herman Survivors. In August. At McDill). And during World War II, the relatively small percentage of women in the service generally hated their uniforms, which were designed in great haste, and which they considered crude and frumpy. The Marines and Navy have struggled to keep their women happy with their uniforms, and whoever’s going to tackle this problem for the Army had best get a lot of input, including from current soldiers and from people who lived through the controversies over in the sea services.

We don’t know what the perfect women’s uniform would look like, but it would have to:

  1. Please the women who wear it, unlike the frumpy WWII version;
  2. Clearly be the same service as the stuff the guys wear;
  3. Be of sufficiently practical style it can be worn every day by office workers and not put them at a disadvantage relative to women in other services and civilian co-workers.
  4. Be of sufficiently classic style so as not to look dated by 2022. Or 2077.
  5. Be clearly female in design; flatter the wide range of shapes that comprise our fit female soldiers. (Fat people looking fat in it is not a reason to reject a uniform. Sorry ’bout that, Chief. It’s a reason to reject the fat people. Trigglypuff, this means you).

How do you get to that end state? Why not hold a design competition, and invite the nation’s (or world’s) fashion designers to take a shot at it? Make a panel of judges, mostly women soldiers who will have to wear the things, mostly young women, but include some of the guys who will have to look at it for their whole career, a design professional or two, and a couple of reps from the veteran, purple heart and gold star family community. That’s the optimizing approach (and it gets the design community invested in their country. And you could get a highly rated reality show out of it).

If that’s too much work, start with the Marine women’s uniform, listen to Marine ladies’ objections and complaints, get a survey of the good-bad-and-ugly of WWII Army uniforms, and remodel them appropriately, in Army colors. That’s the satisficing approach (and you could execute it in six months. Find an ambitious woman officer who’s not afraid to look her best, and give her a free hand).

What to Do After The Change

So what do you do after you change uniforms, the gentlemen’s and the ladies’ alike, this time? The Army has, to the great mirth of our Marine peers, been through lots of hasty and ill-considered uniform changes. So don’t execute this one hastily or half-assed. And once it’s done, commit to it. Freeze it, in terms of design language, for fifty years. Sure, you’ll want to take advantage of material breakthroughs but don’t change the look for a half-century. By then, soldiers wearing these new uniforms will have added incredible new tales to Army lore, and brilliant new streamers to the Army colors.

By then, no one will want to change it. It will be the classic Army uniform.