Monthly Archives: July 2012

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Loose Rounds

Loose Rounds is modestly bllled as “just another gun blog” but the thing that makes it stand out is this: it’s a good gun blog. The participants are ex-servicemen and law enforcement personnel, apparently, and they seem to talk sense rather than nonsense.

Recent postings on the blog have included some informed commentary on Smith & Wesson’s QC, a series of evaluations of the new Colt 901, a 7.62mm NATO AR that is neither an SR-25 nor an Armalite clone, but instead has a character of its own (image right). When it shot pretty well at 600 yards, they tried it at 1000 and beyond, and report their results. There are also posts on practical carry and practical shooting, and recently they provided a capsule history of the USMC M40 sniper rifle.

They are clearly guys who find weapons interesting in proportion to their accuracy and utility, but also their history. One conclusion that they did not draw, but is readily accessible from their data, is that the Colt 901, a 16-inch carbine, is intrinsically more accurate than the M40 was designed to be. That’s progress, which doesn’t alter the “cool factor” of the old M40, or the Army’s gas gun of the era, the M21, which the Marines laughed at at the time: “It’ll never be as accurate as a bolt gun.” That belief is still widely held, but it has little support in the laws of physics. Or, on the range.

One last comment about Loose Rounds: the guys can shoot, have access to a range with reasonable distances (something we’re finding a problem in our part of the world: most sport-shooting clubs think “long range” is 200 yards), and are not timid about posting their targets when they go shooting, especially when evaluating weapons or ammo. A lot of gun reviews online and in paper magazines comprise a bunch of words about styling and a description of a “range test” which sounds a lot like casual plinking. Of course, the services also teach some bad habits (three-shot zero groups, for one) which they then have to teach back out of their precision riflemen. Basic Rifle Marksmanship instruction in the Army or even the Marines is just that: an entry level course to bring the lumpenproletariat to basic combat effectiveness, informed by the fact that 90% of these guys will never file a rifle in combat unless something goes grievously wrong. The Loose Rounds guys (it’s a group blog) get that. And if they’re putting out bad info, we’re missing it: everything they say about shooting sounds to us good and grounded in reality.

All in all, it’s a very good site, all quality, no filler. WeaponsMan likes it.

(And yes, this post is backdated and actually went up Thursday. It’s one of those weeks, with a lot of work and a lot of travel).

The Curtain Falls on [Stolen Valor] Ken Aden’s Candidacy

We’ve previously covered phony Special Forces soldier (but real infantry soldier!) Ken Aden, who stood by his lies even as they crumbled around him. Aden might have succeeded woofing his SF $#!+ to anyone who would listen, if he hadn’t invited media scrutiny with a variety of stunts leading up to his shooting star of a campaign for Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports on Aden’s departure from the race. Good use of alliteration in the hed, we approve. Aden, we don’t approve. Boy’s got some growing up to do.

We didn’t even get to an Assclown of the Ides this month, and it’s a pity, as in Aden we had a pearl of a candidate. And he wasn’t the only one! He never is. These guys are like the weeds in your lawn.

Hat Tip:  Congressional Candidate Claiming to be SF. – Page 10 – SOCNET: The Special Operations Community Network.

The bottom line is this: lie about your military service, we will catch you. If we catch you, you will wish you hadn’t lied. That is all.

Mlitary Wannabees are One Thing, but Fake Indians?

Actually, Native Americans may be the only group in history more outnumbered by their poseurs than SF and SEALs. Reason Magazine recently weighs in on a current political race where one candidate has been riding the “Native Indian Affirmative Action” horse like a championship jockey all her life, and is about as Indian as Prince Harry. They go on to identify several famous “Indians” who were even phonier than the politician.

We’re not sure why exactly fake Indians (or soldiers for that matter) ply their … what is it, craft? But we suspect that the same motivations are at root in both cases, merely the vehicle for self-aggrandizement changes. We notice that one of the Reason wooden Indians, Ward Churchill, was also a notorious Vietnam War wannabe as well. Churchill told tall tales about his combat service, derring-do, and traumatization — what else? — in Vietnem. He was actually a Vietnam vet, but his MOS? We are not making this up: projectionist. Yeah, he was the guy that ran the projector for the REMFs.

If you have a mind that can parlay a military career like that into tales of combat recon, you might as well give yourself a race list in the process, as Churchill did. If it also nets you the bonus lowered bar of affirmative action — because of Churchill’s “Indian” status, he was tenured without a PhD and nobody ever checked his academic writing, which was largely fabricated and plagiarized.

As we never get tired of pointing out, it’s never just one fraud with these poltroons. And there’s usually something more than just story-telling at stake: Like Churchill and candidate Elizabeth Warren, these phonies not to just claim unearned status, they monetize the living daylights out of it.

Off to Reason, where they identify the obvious fakes (like actors playing TV indians) and the more puzzling ones (like our photo guy, who like Churchill lived as an Indian, even though he was as Italian as Garibaldi):

On the surface, the blue-eyed, blonde-haired Warren is the least convincing Indian since Paul Newman starred in Hombre. But if Warren’s evasive replies to inquiries about her ancestry cost her the election, she can at least take comfort in knowing she’s hardly alone in passing herself off as having Indian blood.

Here are five other memorable fake Indians from America’s past.

via 5 Other Fake Indians Besides Elizabeth Warren – Reason.com.

Read the whole thing even though it’s annoyingly scattered across three pages. (Not sure why online pubs do that. In Reason’s case, another big cause of theirs is dope legalization, which might explain it at least as far as their website goes).

ATF Renews Attack on Shotguns

BATFE wants to ban shotguns like this Benelli M4, and would have done it by now if Congress hadn’t put a restriction on their appropriations.

In early 2011, the ATF moved unilaterally to ban the import of many foreign shotguns on the grounds that, (1) they were not readily adaptable to sporting purposes, as defined by the ATF, and (2) in the ATF’s view, only sporting purposes allow gun ownership.

This is the original ATF document mounting their attack on modern sporting shotguns.

The key finding remains that, in the ATF’s world, new sports that have been invented or have grown popular since the ATF’s 1968 mission-expansion, like 3-gun matches, aren’t really sports, and the only legitimate reasons to own a shotgun are hunting, skeet, and trap shooting. (Even the ATF is smart enough not to mess with the 1% and its upper-class claybird busters).

Congress enjoined the ATF from this particular regulatory stretch, but the agency hasn’t given up. After receiving comments on the proposal — the vast majority of them negative — the ATF has put forward a modified version now.

The new version of the document is here.

ATF seems unable to make up its collective mind on whether shotguns are good weapons or bad. This report says they’re evil, but of the thousands of weapons supplied by ATF managers to Mexican drug cartels, none were shotguns. Even if someone were killed with one of these shotguns every day, which isn’t happening, it would take years, decades, perhaps a century to catch up to the butcher’s bill of current ATF management — because the ATF-supplied crime guns are averaging better than a corpse a day, and over 1,400 are admitted to be still in cartel hands.

The new document includes an idiosyncratic reading of Heller that seems to deny and reject the court’s finding that armed self-defense, not skeet or trap shooting, is the underlying and pre-existing right protected by the Constitution, but we’ll defer to the law professors on that one — the law is an increasingly foreign land for an ordinary American, and maybe it says what the ATF lawyers said.

And then again, maybe the ATF lawyers are hacks who wound up here when they couldn’t get a job with a big firm or s more prestigious agency, like the DOJ itself. We know which way Occam’s Razor points.

The authors of the document are not known, and ATF has refused to name them (at least, the authors of the first document, who are presumably the same as the authors of the new “modified, limited hangout” version) to Congress, but they are believed to be members of the notorious Chief Counsel’s Office, which is feared and loathed even by line ATF agents, and contains some of the most militant anti-gun activists within ATF.

(Note: we don’t have a shotgun category. They just don’t come up all that much here, so we file shotgun stuff in “Rifles and Carbines” which is our term of art meaning “long guns.” We don’t have a category about the ATF because we try to minimize the amount we write about them.

Sharks, Action, and Reaction

Sharks

The toothy fellow on the right is known to all, thanks to TV’s Shark Week and the decades of exploitation films that have chummed in Jaws franchise waters. It’s Carcharodon carcharias, the Great White Shark. and sharks have been doing what sharks do off Western Australia (which is one of OZ’s states, not ust a geographical description) with a little more vigor than usual. Movies notwithstanding, Great Whites are not a statistical threat to life and limb in that great continental nation: about one unlucky swimmer or diver a hear becomes Purina Shark Chow in Australian waters.

But that’s statistics, all smoothed out and orderly-like. Right now, we’re experiencing a spike in shark predation on humans: five killed (and, mostly, eaten) by Great Whites in the last ten months. That he’s a statistical outlier is small consolation to 24-year-old Ben Linden, who was killed instantly yesterday (15 July) when a 16-foot-long Great White that surfers had nicknamed Brutus bit him in two, swallowing the lower half. As a jet-skier tried to bring the rest of Linden’s remains ashore, the fish attacked again. Of the surfer, nothing remained but “blood everywhere.”

Action

The government of the state of Western Australia rather sensibly concluded that it isn’t the sharks that are endangered any more. The Independent (UK):

Western Australia called on the federal government yesterday to lift a ban on the fishing of great white sharks following an unprecedented fifth death in its waters within less than a year.

…He added that he was “open to any suggestions from anybody as to where we go to now, because we seriously have got a problem”. …. A hunt for the fish that killed [Linden], believed to be up to 16 feet long, was called off yesterday afternoon. Ministers had ordered any shark of that size to be killed on sight.

Warning that the attacks were harming the state’s tourism industry, [WA Fisheries Minister Norman] Moore said he would lobby Canberra to lift the ban on commercial and recreational fishing of great whites. Anecdotal evidence suggested that their numbers had recovered significantly since they became a protected species in Australia in the 1990s, he said, adding that the government would not sanction shark hunts or culls.

Ben Linden, 24, lived to surf. RIP. Image: The Independent.

Now, the fish are doing what fish do. Surfers or divers in black wetsuits are close enough to Carcharodon’s favorite snacks, seals (not SEALS… yet) and sea lions. Which probably under the circumstances fit the evolutionary niche of sea wildebeest a little better. And scientists note that, as is happening in the USA with terrestrial predators, humans are pushing deeper into predator habit.

But in our opinion, and evidently that of the WA, what applies here is the Humpty Dumpty rule: “What matters is who is to be Master. That is all.” Either we rule or the sharks do… there’s no accommodation to be made.

Reaction

That’s not the way, of course, “animal-rights” extremists see it. Reading the original article, we snarked that some fuzzy-thinking spawn of a 60s screw-in would suggest hat the sharks are not bad fish, just misunnerstood. And as if on queue,  Janita Enevoldsen of the Wilderness Society surfaced to condemn the hunting of man-eating sharks. She said: “We need to really understand them….” Sure thing, Janita. Let’ you and Brutus have a conversation, shark to shark-lover as it were. See how far your empathy gets you.

Our guess is that Brutus would just love Janita, but maybe not in a way she’d find respectful enough of her, like, boundaries, man. She may even  change her mind about “the Neanderthal reaction of a hunt and kill.”

If the Neanderthals and their successors the Cro-Magnon men had taken Janita’s non-violent, sophisticated approach, they’d have been evolutionary dead ends, and the sharks really would rule the world.

What’s the right weapon for a 16-foot great white?

Wounded SOF vets tackle Rainier

SFC (Ret) Chad Jukes climbs Mount Rainier. Mark Seacat photo via the Daily Caller.

Some wounded SOF vets, along with SOF groupie reporter Alex Quade, ascend Mount Rainier, and Quade writes it up. She’s so emotionally close to the men and the task that it has an impact on her usually clean writing, but, well, read the whole thing, and you’ll see why. She can be excused a little emotion: she’s writing about doing good things with better people, and it’s gotten to her. It’ll get to you, too.

This has become a repeat event and is one of the many ways in which serving troops and committed citizens reach out to the community of wounded warriors.

The most moving part of Quade’s article is her discussion of Ryan Job, a Navy SEAL that we met in the pages of Chris Kyle’s American Sniper. (One line review: read it). After the emotional whiplash of the story as Kyle tells it, it was a shock to get the same emotional whiplash a second time from Quade’s story, which told Job’s tale from a different angle.

And oh, yeah, we were just teasing with the groupie thing. Is she a groupie? Who cares? If someone was going to be a groupie, there are worse bands to go on the road with that our special operations forces. So trip on over to the Daily Caller and read the whole thing.

And You Thought the AR WAS a ‘Plastic Gun’

Now it really can be.

Unlike the plastic lowers from the ill-fated Cavalry Arms Corp., the new ATI Omni Lower Receiver is designed to mate with conventional AR-15 parts including buffer tubes, stocks and grips. “ATI” stands for “American Tactical Imports,” the guys who import cheap (in both senses of the word) .22 clones of combat weapons. From the press release:

The Omni is a multi-caliber AR15 lower made of reinforced polymer. It is designed after a mil-spec lower and is compatible with most current AR15 lower parts kits, grips and stocks. Made with a high-grade durable polymer material, the Omni can withstand harsh environments as well as everyday wear and tear.

The Omni stripped lower has an MSRP of just $49.95 while the complete finished kit has an MSRP of $129.95. The Omni will be available in a color choice of black or dark earth.

via ATI Introduces the Omni Multi-Caliber Polymer AR15 Lower – Just $49.95.

The big news, of course, is the price. No other AR lower is offered at such a low suggested retail price — although one can match the $49 price on an alloy lower with some careful shopping, patience, and perhaps willingness to buy more than one.

ATI also offers the lower dressed out with a parts kit, buffer and stock assembly for $129. As a serialed lower it must transfer through a Federal Firearms Licensee.

How durable is this lower going to be? ATI suggests that it has been tested with “.22, .556, and .410” and is not recommended for higher calibers, which means your hope for a $50 host for your .50 Beowulf upper is not going to happen. (We also suspect that they meant 5.56mm, not a .556 Destructive Device. But hey, it was their press release, they’re supposed to know what they’re doing).

We have our doubts about the durability and reliability of weapons built on these. Even in the publicity shots, they look flimsy and of uncertain formation. (You can click to expand the photos). But we’ll give them a fair look when they’re actually around. And they can only increase the popularity and reach of AR-style weapons, making an entry-level M4 clone a sub-$500 proposition, and putting these guns in the racks of many more owners.

The press release is found several places on line, but we couldn’t find it on ATI’s website — yet. (Hat tip: AmmoLand.com).

Sunday Driver Yeah….

Ah, the Beatles. The title’s a quote from one of their songs. What is it about them that’s still entertaining decades after their ten years at the top of the charts? Perhaps it’s that their message, at least in their music, was always positive and upbeat. Quite remarkable for four working-class guys whose personal lives were as disordered as anyone’s. But they seem to have tapped into something that was greater than them, or their fans; some energy greater than us all.

There’s a thought for a Sunday.

Today, the two overdue Saturday posts (Saturday Matinee and TW3) will be posted (and backdated into place). Monday, tomorrow, a new week begins. And between now and then, some timeless music, preserved like a bug in amber by the magic of electromagnetic recording, may just be heard at the WeaponsMan Lair.

Saturday Posts… will be backdated again

Sorry about that. But various events in meatworld mean that our Saturday Matinee and That Was the Week That Was posts will be posted late, and will be backdated, in the case of the matinee (movie review) to 1400 today, and in the case of TW3, probably 2300 hours.

Again, our apologies. But this is something done in and around a life, although we try to keep it full and interesting, it isn’t the whole life!

Another One Bites the Dust – BG Jack Kern

We weren’t close to Jack Kern. We followed his military career, and wished him well, because he was one of the good guys. So it came as a bit of a shock to learn through a somewhat ritardando jungle telegraph that he passed away unexpectedly from surgical complications on July 3rd.

We did know him years ago, as a good staff officer (a rare commodity in SF, and one much treasured by commanders) and a good man, one who worked hard and played hard. Reading an obituary of him that will run in the Washington Post today, tomorrow, and Monday, we learned a lot of interesting details we hadn’t known. Like the fact that he ran 10 Marine Corps Marathons.

The faint smile in his official Army photo is an expression all who knew him will remember.

Seeing the names in the guest book at Demaine Funeral Home was like Old Home Week. Ray Wierenga was, we believe, in Ranger School with us (it’s possible there was another USAR officer named Wierenga, but what are the odds?) Dick Nazzaro is very widely known.

It wasn’t his fate to distinguish himself in combat, although he had a crucial civil affairs command early in Afghanistan, and poured himself into Afghan reconstruction. But he came in as the Vietnam army drew down and then served the rest of his career as a Reserve officer, with many interesting deployments to tough locations, but no headlines. He was a Quiet Professional. Guys like Jack Kern are much, and unjustly, maligned or dismissed, sometimes even by active-duty soldiers who ought to know better. But they kept the pilot light burning when the Pentagon and Washington had turned their backs on the reserve components. In the end, performance of ARNG Special Forces and USAR Civil Affairs units on the battlefield showed that BG Kern and many like him, who toiled in obscurity, at least did not toil in vain. That’s something, and not a small thing.

Our memories of then-colonel Kern are not very significant in the light of his long triple career (in SF, Civil Affairs, and as a DA Civilian on the Army Staff). They’re good memories, private ones.

Tonight, in Valhalla, BG John Hunter Kern will not be the one moonwalking on the O-Club table. Instead, he’ll be sipping his drink — Lagavulin by preference — smoking a cigar, and watching the moonwalking with a shake of his head and an even-tempered grin.