Monthly Archives: July 2015

Snap, Crackle, and Pop

Well-known (and respected) trainer Kyle Defoor was conducting training at for a military unit when one of the unit’s long guns went down, due to this:

defoor bolt failure

Yes, that’s an AR/M16/M4 bolt with a single lug fully failed. Possible causes for the failure include (at a fundamental level) manufacturing error, corrosion or fatigue. It’s hard to judge from this hole, but going way out on a limb, it looks like there’s a somewhat granular failure at the left end of the fracture, with a smoother “sudden” fracture face on the right end nearer the extractor, presumably because the fatigue failure left too little of the remaining metal to bear the stress of firing locked in battery, and the remainder of the part failed from the crack due to overstress. But it could also be caused by swapping a fresh bolt into a gun with a worn barrel extension (or vice versa) in the field, so that only one lug was bearing all the tension of locking — result, failure. Or the gun may simply have been made without the locking lugs all engaging properly — it’s happened before.

A gun with a failure like this may or may not continue to fire for a while. But if overstress on one lug was a factor, the loads formerly too much for seven lugs now bear upon six — it would not be wise to bet your life on this firearm.

Kyle, though, had another issue with the failure — and the unit whose arms room coughed up the firearm that did it.

On 9 July, he posted this image to his Facebook feed, saying:

Maybe I should start to amend contracts to include an armorer and spare parts?

With a hilarious set of hastags including, but not limited to:

#‎takecareofgear‬ ‪#‎ittakescareofyou‬ ‪

…and the snark-infused:

‬ ‪#‎logisticswinswars‬ ‪#‎waistingtrainingtime‬ ‪#‎youdontpaymetoplumb‬

The part was, as you can see from the markings, a factory Colt, magnetic particle inspected, bolt (or a counterfeit thereof that somehow got into the supply system — not impossible). It had unknown hours and rounds, because Big Green is not in the habit of keeping meaningful usage and maintenance records on small arms.

Apart from spelling “wasting” wrong, there is not much to argue with in Defoor’s response. Apparently the unit in question did not provide an armorer for the range event. In most units, the armorer doubles as a supply clerk and is not thought of as necessary for a range evolution (except to manage draw and turn-in of weapons at the Arms Room). In addition, the Army has been working to reduce the number and kind of spare parts available at organizational level. This is due to politically anti-gun policies, and Army civilian political appointees who believe (however lacking the evidence may be) that Army stocks are a significant source of crime guns.

Even if the parts were by some miracle on hand, the standard Army armorer, one each, is neither trained nor authorized to replace a failed bolt. Armorers given scant and cursory training on maintenance.  Instead, their course, an add-on for supply clerks, concentrates very extensively on paperwork, records-keeping, and the process of appearing to be conducting scheduled maintenance. This is also borne out by what actual combat units and their commanders value, based on how they judge and critique their armorers. No one is ever graded on the only maintenance measure that ought to count, the combat serviceability of the unit’s firearms; everyone is constantly graded on the process, on the appearance of maintenance, and on maintenance busy work. While we’d bet nine out of ten of the readers of this blog could fix this rifle in minutes, the only thing a company, battalion or even brigade armorer can do with it is turn it in.

Military maintenance bureaucracy does all it can to limit effective maintenance of small-unit equipment, notably including small arms, optics, and radios. Problems with these are most effectively solved by trained, experienced personnel at the lowest organizational level, so naturally such personnel are just flat not available.

Instead, you must tag the weapon or other piece of equipment down. Naturally, there are different rules for weapons and weapons equipment, vehicles, radios, and special weapons (i.e. WMD-related stuff), although the Army does try to squeeze them all onto standard forms (DA-2404 for regular maintenance, DA-2407 for turn in, nowadays it’s an electronic form, DA-2407E, done in the SAMS logistics computer system).

The weapon can’t be sent directly to the level that can fix it, even when (like this) the level is obvious and the weapon could be inspected and classified by a well-coached Helen Keller. It must go up the operator-organizational-direct-depot support chain, getting a new inspection at each

Plus, while the weapon is turned in, what is Joe Snuffy supposed to shoot? No Army unit maintains operational floats or spares (unless it is, by happenstance, or the customary incompetence of all Army personnel managers and activities, understrength). So Joe will get the weapon of whoever is on sick call or leave when the unit goes to a range, unless it’s one of the very large number of units that does an absolutely crap job of tracking who is assigned each particular weapon, in which case it’s musical chairs and the last one that shows up gets a new weapon.

The Army actually tries to bill giving a guy a new rifle for every annual, semiannual or quarterly trip to the range as a plus, believe it or not: “Everybody gets valuable experience in zeroing.” (Meanwhile, of course, everyone loses confidence in the ability of his gun to hold zero).

It does not help that the standard M12 rack does not accept a rifle with optics. In the Arms Room, it’s still 1988.

Moreover, the Army’s weapons records are a chaotic mess of rack numbers, serial numbers, weapons cards, hand receipts, pencil sheets, green-and-white property book printouts (that may not put all your unit’s rifles, for example, together on the same pages), and unofficial Excel-spreadsheets and Access databases, which interface more or less (mostly, less) with one another and with the unit’s personnel assignments. This means that every time you cross-level personnel from 2nd platoon to 3rd platoon, if your arms room is nicely organized by platoons, Joe Rifleman is going to get a new rifle and be off zero until next range trip, and so is Bill Bulletician who’s coming from somewhere else… that’s another reason why no Army unit beyond the Ranger battalions and the 82nd Division Ready Battalion actually dares to ship out to combat without a trip to the zero range.

In addition to the deployment delays that come because no one has confidence in his optic zero right now, we also endure a colossal waste of time because weapons inventories are unnecessarily hard. (One of the nice things about HK 416s? Their serial numbers are highlighted. Seems like a small thing, until you’ve tried to inventory a couple hundred M16A2s by the light of a flickering fluorescent bulb that there’s no budget to replace. And if you highlight the number with paint or permanent marker, you can actually get dinged on inspection). Every arms room needs to be inventoried periodically by senior personnel who have better things to do, and many aperiodic inventories are demanded by regulations. The faster these go, the better for everyone, but the Army has a settled way of doing things that proceeds from the assumption that the net value of a soldier, NCO or officer’s time is always zero.


Sunday Showers

As July — our favorite month, as the too-short summer at 43º North Latitude is our favorite season — winds to a close, we have enjoyed a morning of showers that are expected to yield to a partly sunny day.

A lot of family this weekend, which is A Good Thing. The crowd (minus) for dinner last night, and the dinner seemed to be a success, judging from the extra helpings the kids pursued. (Don’t listen to what kids say; their critique of your chef skills resides in what they do). And off to the Blogfather’s hotel for dinner tonight — as the hotel hasn’t a proper restaurant, but he has a kitchen, we will actually nuke prepared food and sit and talk. Hey, it’s a social event, right?

Some more thought about elderly parents and we’d not have bought Hog Manor. A traditional New England Colonial, with some of the architectural excesses that let an expert date it to the late 1980s-early 90s at a single glance, it had the bedrooms traditionally upstairs, and if you want your parents to stay with you as they move into their 80s and 90s, that’s a non-starter.

Still, the Blogfather did the math, and it actually costs him less to come up for the summer and stay in a hotel, than it did not maintain a home, or even to rent one, year round. In the hotel he gets waited on, doted on, even; and he never has the feeling of being underfoot. And his temptation to issue constant on-the-spot corrections to all family members is diminished accordingly.

He just left, having come to retrieve a vest he left last night, draped over a chair back, lending a note of elegance to the place. And we’ll see him in his hotel tonight.

Friends, enjoy your family members; cherish them, even their idiosyncrasies. It costs you so little, and some day they will be gone  — or you will be, and any small degree to which you’ve put yourself out will not have mattered. The Japanese are on to something with all their comparisons of human life to cherry blossoms, you know? Very wise bunch, those Japanese.

Outside the office window, the sun is striving to break through the overcast. See you tomorrow at 0600 with a technical post.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30

That was the week that was TW3Here’s the latest in our occasional (supposed to be regular) weekly wrap-ups, named for the successful British TV show and its non-as-successful American knock-off of the early ’60s, That Was the Week that Was, or TW3 to save time. We really, seriously, are going to get an updated logo for this feature one of these days, when all the other stuff on the to-do list is done.

For anyone new to, first, welcome! We try to post according to a schedule here, but there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. The refund window keeps somewhat irregular hours, but we try to keep a site going that is worth the expenditure of that resource that is more precious than your money, to wit, your time. Thank you for reading and (for that subset of you who do) for commenting. Some of the best writing and most insightful ideas you’ll see here are in the comments… not entirely sure what to make of that, but there it is.

The Boring Statistics

We obsess about these because, we’re not sure, it’s probably the MBA thing and some unrequited need to monitor everything leading us to focus blindly on those numbers that are easily gotten. This week was a better than average week, we think. We posted 26 posts with some 323 comments by press time for this post (which was actually posted some 12 hours late and backdated), and a total of about 21,000 words.

Since the inception of the blog, we have posted nearly 4,000 posts (that milestone will pass next week) and you have left nearly 22,000 comments (ditto). Doing a back of the envelope calculation based on average post size, we’ve posted about 600,000 words this year, and about 3.2 million since Day 1 on 1 Jan 2012. (We could pull the actual numbers, but we’d probably see a squirrel! before we got them all lassoed).

(Fun fact: when we first templated this section of the post, a typical week might have 22 posts, less than one comment per post average, and about 15,000 words. A typical genre novel runs from 90-150k words, they tell us, so we should be writing those and getting paid instead, eh).

Any way you look at the numbers, that’s a lot of content and discussion, mostly about weapons, warfare, and the various forms of urban mayhem we write about.

Comment of the Week

There are some excellent comments by Tom Kratman and Kirk in .

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

  • Sunday Shambles was our Sunday ramble.
  • Do We Need A Bigger Bullet? Jim Schatz says yes, with some puzzling claims about small arms overmatch. Now, we think it would be nice to have overmatch, but we think (1) it’s more than just effective range, (2) if it was we might have it already (we definitely outrange enemy rifles on the ground, as a practical matter, although MGs are a problem), and (3) if one nation makes a breakthrough in small arms technology, the others copy it — witness Picatinny rails showing up on Russian rifles.
  • What passes for brilliance inside the Beltway: Hey, Let’s Release a Traitor!
  • The USA seemed capable of great things once upon a time, in fact, 46 Years Ago Today
  • Self-Defense: Where’s This Guy’s Error? This is a question meant to get you questioning. He got away with it, but it was a risky thing.
  • One Downside of a Much Younger, Latina Wife is… you have a much younger, Latina wife, who just might get bored with you — and have you whacked.
  • When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Firewood. Although it may not be the wood that’s the problem, but the evil that dwelleth therein.
  • We recount A Sad Gunsmith Story — And How to Avoid One
  • What’s the historical, archealogical truth about The Battle of Jericho? Stand by for a shocker: scientists argue about this, and don’t necessarily agree.
  • Here’s a mass murder by a career criminal that you might not have heard about: When guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Excavators.
  • Did she really make One Bad Choice? More like “one bad choice after another.” Fortunately her victim survived. Her friends suffered more. With incompetent people, it’s just better to be their enemy.
  • Ever curious about pinfire and other early-early-early cartridge guns? Check out Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week:
  • Brrrrrt! Legal Full-Auto-Like Firepower. Maybe there’s something to that slide-fire thing after all.
  • Here’s a Lost PLA Based 10/22 – From Data to Print to Cast Aluminum. Note, authorities: we can make stuff, and you can’t stop us.
  • This is really just a tragic accident. When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Bungees
  • We admit, we’re partial to the small ones, so Isn’t She a Beauty? What? No, we mean .25s. Pervert!
  • If you are interested in self-defense, you need to consider The Alternative to “Judged” or “Carried.”
  • Fun fact: when we titled this post Is this a “Red Not” Sight? we actually made a typo for “Dot.” But since it was not a Red Dot sight, we let “Red Not” stand. Ah, sweet Serendip.
  • Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid? Don’t let this shake your faith in deserters and the peacenik parents that raised ’em, m’kay?
  • Philosophical question: if someone kills himself, whether deliberately or whilst participating in extreme sports, is it his business or also society’s? When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Wingsuits
  • Friday <i>Tour d’Horizon</i> Week 30 collects a lot of stories we wanted rid of… but not badly enough to get off our duff and write them.
  • Video and images of Testing Polymer Receivers to Destruction: Factory and Printed
  • New Oath of Allegiance: Bearing Arms Opt-Out. Because it’s not fair to Hyphen-Americans to ask them to be, you know, Americans. 
  • When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Accessories to Schmurda. Don’t let this shake your faith in the rap community.
  • We find a time capsule within a time capsule and call it Saturday Matinee 2015 30: Aces High (1976).
  • That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30 — that’s this post, so a link.

Going Forward

We’re not sure what we’ve got for this week yet, but we bet it’s going to be good.

Saturday Matinee 2015 30: Aces High (1976)

Aces HighA fellow could get hurt doing this — that’s the case for just flying the planes of World War One. By the time of the events in this film, 1917, the machines were far more sophisticated and deadly to their enemies than the start-of-war machinery had been; they don’t seem to be very much safer for the friendlies, either.

Aces High follows a new arrival at a British Royal Flying Corps squadron on the Western Front through his first week. As is often the case for combat replacements, the question is, will he live long enough to learn what he needs to know to live?

He encounters the usual suspects: the young but frazzled CO holding himself (and the unit) together with booze; the grounded, older adjutant, the font of avuncular wisdom; the winsome French girl; the stolid mechanic; the pilot officer whose nerves are shot. These scripted archetypes, already as well worn then as they are 40 years later, are saved from banality only by the skill of the players.

Acting and Production

The cast is a who’s who of 1970s British actors, with Sir John Gielgud in a brief role as Etonian headmaster, Malcolm McDowell as the troubled squadron leader, Maj. Gresham, and a splendidly mustachioed Christopher Plummer as Capt. Sinclair, Gresham’s non-flying, limping adjutant. Peter Firth is the youth who gets the stereotyped questions on arrival (“How many hours in S.E. 5’s?” “Four and a half, sir!”) and Simon Ward a squadronmate who has, er, issues.


The websites say the movie was based on a play about a ground unit in the same war, but it doesn’t really have any “tells” that would indicate that.

It is a characteristic 70s war film in its nihilism; much like many Hollywood films had been tortured into allegories illustrating how eager Hollywood was to surrender to Eurasian Communism, the film is, in part, a message film, and the message is that nothing good comes of war, nothing is worth dying for, and the combat soldiery has their lives thrown away by the fatcats far behind the lines.

In other words, these Brits too were anxious to get on with surrendering to Eurasian communism. (if any of them are alive today, they’re exploring their potential future as dhimmis, perhaps).

The characters and situations have appeared in virtually every WWI flying movie since Hells Angels, and sometimes the tropes and stereotypes buzz around you like Richthofen’s Flying Circus; as characters are introduced you can probably guess their entire character arcs and their disposition at the end of the film, one week after the arrival of the green Lieutenant Croft at 76 Squadron.

That said, why see the film? Principally for the action scenes.

Accuracy and Weapons

There are some interesting guns if you watch for them. At one point, a German two-seater crew lands to take a souvenir, and the observer-gunner winds up firing at an Englishman with a broomhandle Mauser. There are also some realistic scenes of Lewis gun magazine rotating under fire, and being changed.


The airplanes aren’t a terribly good or convincing job, with converted Stampes playing SE.5s, and a dressed-up Valmet Viima (not a Tiger Moth, although it generally shares the Moth’s swept-wing planform) aping various German single- and two-seaters. However, the actual stunt flying is quite good. The aerial scenes were all shot by a second unit director, not Jack Gold.


A couple of good scenes may have been lifted out of earlier movies, for example, The Blue Max (1966).

Flip side of the previous picture.

Flip side of the previous picture.

An extra, unairworthy Stampe was set afire in one scene. The biplanes actually used in the movie were all designed and made in the 1930s, but were technologically similar to the WWI planes, apart from much more reliable motors. There is one genuine WWI type in the film, an Avro 504 trainer that is used strictly as a prop.


Firth and Plummer again with one of the star “SE5’s”

The  sounds of MG firing are unfortunately canned sound-effects disc audio. Still, within the limits of a low budget for a period war drama, and considering the technology of 40 years ago, they did quite well.

The bottom line

Aces High is fun to watch, it’s a bit of a dual period piece, redolent of the 1970s as much as of 1917. Watch it wisely (that is, don’t overpay) and you’ll likely enjoy yourself. (If you’re a real expert on WWI aviation, don’t let it drive you nuts).

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

Or free streaming for Prime members, which seems to be higher quality video than the DVD:

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:
  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

  • Wikipedia  page:

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Accessories to Schmurda

shmurda GFMurda, Schmurda. The pachyderm on the right is the girlfriend of a rapper who just happens to be, in what is surely a remarkable, strange and coincidental juxtaposition, a career violent criminal.

No rapper ever did that before, eh, class?

(Funny, musicians never have parallel lives of crime when they’re playing in the orchestra at the Symphony or the Met. Ever wake up to the radio news saying, “An aspiring flautist is dead this morning after last night’s drive-by…”? But we digress).

Anyway, she was trying to slip a shank to Shmurda the rapper, the better, we suppose, for him to get his shmurda on, but she was caught and went from visiting someone in jail to being someone in jail. Awwwwwwwww.

The gal pal of incarcerated Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of slipping her beau a shank hidden in her bra while visiting him on Rikers Island.

Why do they call her “gal pal”? Why don’t they call her by the term Schmurda uses for her? Is it because it’s not a nice word?

Kimberly Rousseau, 18, was busted June 21 after a guard at the city jail allegedly spotted her lifting a white latex balloon wrapped in black electrical tape out of her bra and handing it to the 20-year-old rapper.

The Rousseaus have come a long way since philosopher days, it seems. Down, mostly.

Inside the balloon was a “sharpened metal object,” court papers claim.

Shmurda, whose real name is Ackquille Pollard, is being held on $2 million bail for allegedly helming a violent street crew responsible for several shootings and drug sales.

via Not guilty plea for jailed Brooklyn rapper’s gal pal – NY Daily News.

The stout skank with the shank is now getting a new appreciation for her boyfriend’s career, at least the half to 2/3 of it that he will spend in prison.

And as for Shmurda? At half to 1/3 the mass of his former squeeze, 18 years old, and newly arrived in jail, he’s getting a new appreciation of what it is to be a girlfriend.

Young love, it’s so sweet.

New Oath of Allegiance: Bearing Arms Opt-Out

US Customs and Immigration Service's new Model Citizen

US Citizenship and Immigration Services’s new Model Citizen, Mohammod Abdulazeez, is about to get thousands of brethren.

For all but two years1 of the entire history of the United States of America, new citizens have sworn an Oath of Allegiance. But an important ingredient in the oath is being stricken by the Administration. No more will immigrants have to promise to be willing to bear arms for the United States; they now will have an opt-out based, not even on religious belief, but any kind of inchoate and general “feels.” Like Abdulazeez here, maybe they want to bear arms against Americans? That’s fine!

Now, because Congress has delegated them the authority to do this, it’s perfectly legal even if it’s not especially smart. Legally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is allowed to change the oath, as long as the “five principles” outlined in Section 337(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are adhered to. Being as the principles are:

  1. Allegiance to the Constitution;
  2. Renunciation of any foreign allegiances;
  3. Defense of the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic;
  4. Willingness to bear arms in the Armed Forces;
  5. Willingness to do civilian duties of national importance.

The Willingness to Bear Arms clause should stay in. But the CIS is now changing the clause, to streamline the path to citizenship of those preferred immigrants who not only don’t want to bear arms for the United States but are interested in bearing arms against. 

A new provision allows the would-be Americans to opt out of defending their fellow Americans if they have any reason not to want to.

The Legal History of the Bearing Arms Clause

In 1929, the Supreme Court ruled that pacifism was no justification for refusing the oath.

In 1950, the McCarran Act (much of which was subsequently found unconstitutional or repealed, but the rump of which is still used by Army lawyers to support the disarmament of off-duty soldiers) added the bearing arms lines as mandatory.

In 1953, their presence aborted the application for citizenship of British writer Aldous Huxley. Huxley, a wealthy Hollywood screenwriter, was oriented more towards a state socialism like that of the Soviet Union, but not enough that he ever considered living there.

Why Now?

Well, have we ever had an Administration more hostile to arms, or to the bearing of them, in defense of the country? Or one who seems to value immigrants inversely to the benefits they bring to us, and proportionately to the crime, violence, and treachery that they come a-bearing?

It’s not as if the nation is so hard up for people that we need to admit more unassimilable, truculent, hostile persons. There are hundreds of thousands of people who would be a credit to our country waiting patiently in the 200 countries of the world, but we seem intent on ingesting human pathogens rather than sources of societal strength.

What Exactly?

USCIS sent a policy guide on 21 Jan 2015 (.pdf) to all hands that explains wordily:

In general, a naturalization applicant must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony, in addition to meeting other eligibility requirements, in order to naturalize. The oath includes the clauses to bear arms on behalf of the United States and to perform noncombatant service in the U.S. armed forces when required by law. An applicant may be eligible for certain modifications to the oath to exclude the clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection. This guidance updates Volume 12 of the Policy Manual to clarify the eligibility requirements for the modifications.


And further:

when an applicant is unwilling or unable to affirm to all clauses of the oath… [he or she] may be eligible for modifications… [and] …is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief…

And the corker… an applicant who wants can provide evidence supporting his or her unwillingness to swear to defend the USA, but…

is not required to provide… evidence to establish eligibility

In other words, it’s Washington’s favorite word, an entitlement for anyone desiring to be an asp at Lady Liberty’s breast.

So, get ready to welcome lots of new citizens… whose loyalty is to something, anything, other than the United States.

Sure, hostiles could always lie and get naturalized (which may explain the Abdulazeez family and their celebrity son), but now they don’t even need to hide their contempt and hostility for our nation.

This will end well.


  1. The first recorded Oath of Allegiance was given to foreign-born soldiers in and camp-followers of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on 30 May 78. (That’s 1778). The first Naturalization Law came 12 years later, in 1790.


US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Washington, n.d. Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Retrieved from:

USCIS. Policy Alert: Modifications to Oath of Allegiance for Naturalization. Washington, 21 July 2015. Retrieved from:


Testing Polymer Receivers to Destruction: Factory and Printed

Here’s another embedded video from’s InRange TV, where Ian and Karl do their level best to destroy a Cav Arms polymer lower.

They step on it, stomp on it, run it over with a Jeep, and shoot holes in it, and still it keeps on shooting. One is reminded of the old Timex ads, “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Maybe it should be “Takes a drilling and it keeps on killing (IPSC targets).”

We’re not really shocked by this. We had AKs and SKSes in the foreign weapons arms room in 10th Group that were Vietnam captures, complete with bullet and claymore holes, and they all worked. (We kind of doubt their previous owner Mr Nguyen was still in such adequate operating condition). And we’ve seen ARs take some pretty brutal treatment and keep on shooting, including carbines that would still chamber rounds after their plastic was all burned off and their magazines blown out by a helicopter post-crash fire (we didn’t shoot them, though), and an M16A1 that still functioned (albeit inaccurately) with the barrel bent 30º off axis at the FSB1 (it was under a trooper’s armpit when he executed a really craptacular PLF2, dislocating his arm and bending the rifle).

A really good design is overwrought enough that it can be degraded by wear, corrosion, or, yes, combat, a good bit before it fails to function. And a really outstanding design delivers that with the smallest weight and bulk penalty possible.

Cav Arms made quite a few of these lowers out of durable Nylon 6 before the company was singled out for destruction by the ATF, which is a long story and off this topic. (A seemingly complete technical history of the Cav Arms lower has been prepared by Russel Phagan, aka Sinistral Rifleman, who assisted in the video). A successor manufactures the lowers today. (But the most significant thing about the lower wasn’t the company’s grim fate; it was that the lower was redesigned from the ground up to be made of polymer, to take advantage of this material’s strengths, and to shore up its weaknesses).

As Ian points out towards the end of the video, a polymer lower designed to be a polymer lower is a better bet than one that is just a molding of the traditional 7075 alloy machined forging. (Conversely, a steel receiver that follows the form factor of the alloy lower is going to be overstrength and overweight). These follow from the differences in the strengths of the three materials.

Ian notes the weakness of the buffer tower if the normal lower receiver is modeled in anything other than metal, and that gibes with the results that early lower-receiver 3D printers had, substituting much weaker ABS or PLA material for the 7075. The first point of failure to be made manifest was the buffer tower area. This led to reinforced buffer towers and ultimately such heavily-reinforced lower-receiver designs as the modern Aliamanu-Phobos.


Along with the reinforcements named in that slide, the massively reinforced buffer tower is evident. But even this beefy design can fail. This one started to delaminate with just 20 rounds fired. Test firing the lower:

trouble1 aliamanu-phobosHere’s the first image of the delamination. Since all the fire control group parts are above the delamination line, the weapon should still operate, but this obviously bodes ill for any probability of it surviving further testing. (Yes, these do embiggen for more of a close-up look).

trouble1 delamination 1Here’s the other side at that 20-round point:

trouble1 delamination 2


Firing more rounds just cause more failure, in this case it seems that the area around the grip screw also began to delaminate, releasing the grip:

trouble1 delamination 3At this point, stick a fork in it, it’s done.

Others have had much better results, including from pretty low end perimeters, and the equipment and parameters that FOSSCAD member trouble1 used didn’t seem out of step with what the successful printers did. But you can’t call this a successful print. It seems highly probable that there is some failure in the print setup or materials (moisture in the filament?) that no one has figured out yet.

That delamination is an interesting failure mode that’s fairly common in fused filament fabrication printing, is only one reason the technology is not yet ready to compete head-to-head with plastic injection molding. The much slower production of the additive process, and its higher per-unit variable cost, also argue against this for production. However, injection molding, with its generally higher fixed costs (for tooling), is unsuitable for prototyping and very short production runs. A hybrid of technologies that uses printed molds to reduce that fixed cost for short runs offers the potential of closing the gap. But a proper part is a part that is designed in conjunction with its manufacturing technology — engineered for production from Day One, with materials  chosen to meet the mission and simplify, speed up, and save money on production.

As Ian noted about the Cav Arms polymer lower (which is injection molded), it’s necessary to design the part to make best use of the materials and technology. Simply trying to reverse-engineer a popular firearm in a new material or manufacturing approach will only take you so far. It may, given enough iterations, be far enough.


  1. FSB = Front Sight Base, the triangular-shaped forging that holds up the front sight on the nose of AR-15 series rifles through the early M4A1. It also locates the gas tube and hosts the bayonet lug — a busy small part.
  2. PLF = Parachute Landing Fall, a specific roll that reduces the risk of injury when a para touches down.

Friday Tour d’Horizon Week 30

Due to time pressure, we’re going to limit this to simple links-and-lines tonight. Sorry ’bout that, Chief.


Sporting Shotguns and Rifles? Or works of art? Check out the creations of Austrian gunsmith Phillip Ollendorff. We want one but are afraid to ask what they cost.

Like a single-point sling? Like AKs? These Texans have the glue for you:

(Their AK underfolder cheek rest is an idea whose time has come, and they can sell you Paki tape if you’re going for the in-country Hadji look).

Q: Who has the most gun permits in the violent Chicongo? The answer may surprise you (if you haven’t been in an urban gun shop in 10 years). A: People in the wealthy white  neighborhoods — and the poorest minority ones.

The Sun-Times seems to have collected this data in hopes of finding Raaaaacism (it has to have 5 a’s to be authentic raaaaacism), but to their credit, seem to have reported what they found, anyway.

War, and Rumors of War

If war there be, let it start over… lobsters? Between Canada and … Maine?

This story tells how the Kurds are winning. (But are the Kurds really winning, or is this wishful thinking?

The US will not defend recruiting stations… among other things, Pentagon mouthpiece Capt. Jeff Davis says teaching these NCOs and POs to use firearms would cost too much money. Naturally! Letting ’em die in place is cheaper.


We should probably write more about this, but the three women, all West Pointers, are still hanging in there in Mountain Phase, under the glare of media scrutiny and the close eye of commissars (aka “observer-advisors”).

Here are two stories that are so similar they seem mutually plagiarized in places, or maybe they both plagiarized a third source. Maybe the Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe, and McClatchy’s Chuck Williams are just retyping press releases.

This interesting quote, from Williams’ story, gives you some idea of the swollen heads for which Academy graduates are deservedly noted:

“West Point teaches leaders to be tenacious in overcoming obstacles,” said [Sue] Fulton, who chairs the West Point Board of Visitors that reports to the President of the United States. “At some point – probably more than once – you have to do a gut check and call on inner reserves to do something that you never thought you could do. Am I surprised that the three remaining women in Ranger School are West Point graduates? Not at all.”

It’s lucky we have these West Point graduates, for no one else knows how to be tenacious and call on inner reserves.

Fulton is one of the VIPs kibitzing and tinkering at Ranger School during this cycle.


President tells Star-struck Brits he Regrets Failing, but only on Gun Control

Hey, give the guy the credit he deserves. He finally did lower Fed flags to half-staff over the Chattanooga shooting — after he realized that his guy Abdulazeez got croaked, along with five mere servicemen.

Meanwhile, the brain trust at the FBI is completely stumped by Abdulazeez’s motivations. He was probably a Rush Limbaugh listener or something!

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Wingsuits

This video is something you might want to skip. It’s American wingsuit jumper Ian Flanders tumbling to his death in a low-quality spectator video, followed by an interview shot shortly before by a Turkish TV crew. Flanders died, his friends will say, doing what he loved.

The statistical record of BASE jumping over the years suggests that it is either the most dangerous sport ever invented, with the possible exception of Russian Roulette, or the most technical means of committing suicide.

Some people react to that by trying to ban BASE jumping from certain areas (like Yosemite National Park, for one example) or in general, naturally, for the well-being of its voluntary participants. If that national-socialist your-life-is-our-concern approach sounds familiar, maybe it’s because it is also the putative motivation of the antigun activists who would ban guns for the ostensible good of the gun owners themselves.

We are not fans of BASE jumping; it’s stupid, pointless, and extremely hazardous, and leads one practitioner after another to an early death in pursuit of a momentary thrill. But we’re even less fans of banning BASE jumping. At some point you have to accept the fact that “it’s a free country,” and people’s lives are their own, and they’re not always going to live them as we would choose to do so, which is no business of ours.

From the New York Daily News’s coverage of Flanders’s death:

An American BASE jumper filming a documentary about the perils of the high-adrenaline, high-danger extreme sport died in Turkey when a jump went horribly wrong.

Ian Flanders, 28, got tangled in his parachute lines and plummeted into a gorge along the Karasu River. The tragic fall from 900 feet above the Karanlik canyon in eastern Turkey was captured by a TV station during a nature sports festival.

The Southern California adrenaline junkie had the day before completed a similar jump wearing a wingsuit, the first wingsuit jump ever undertaken in Turkey, friend Donald Schultz told the Daily News. A smiling Flanders gushed about the experience during a TV interview ahead of his ill-fated flight.

That’s the interview included in the video above.

The disturbing July 21 disaster was all caught on camera. Flanders, obviously tangled among the chute lines, falls fast from the sky before a rock face obscures the view of him landing in the river. People can be heard screaming as the amateur footage cuts out.

He’d jumped from a cable suspended between the canyon above the river from about 900 feet up. Schultz said Flanders did a flip or two as he jumped and either over- or under-extended. The parachute never properly deployed, something called a “horseshoe malfunction,” Schultz said.

“Ian was such a safe guy – for this to happen to him is just a shock,” he said.

He was a safe guy in a dangerous sport. Parachute jumping of any kind has one thing in common with guns — they are intrinsically hazardous things that need to be operated within narrow parameters to be successful.


The jump went wrong from the start when Flanders immediately began tangled in his parachute lines.

The tragedy comes just two months after wingsuit pioneer Dean Potter, 43, died during a jump in Yosemite National Park.

“Everyone in this sport has now seen enough really skilled, careful people die,” climber Chris McNamara told People magazine at the time. “There’s just this very thin margin of how things can go from ‘totally fine’ to ‘it’s over.’ And it’s really hard to do this sport a lot and have that margin not catch up with you.”

The epidemic has become so bad that some 264 people have died BASE jumping since record-keeping began, Outside magazine editor Grayson Schaffer told CBS News.

What Schaffer either didn’t mention, or they didn’t bother to quote, is that many of the founders and luminaries of the sport are among that number. Perhaps there are always some characters who gravitate to an avocation that gives you only a gladiator’s odds, and very little control over whether you win, or it’s Game Over, No Respawn.

The sport — an acronym representing the four fixed places people jump from: building, antenna, span and Earth — is inherently dangerous and often illegal. Schultz, who met Flanders through BASE jumping, said he’s now retired from the sport. The buddies last saw each other in Perris, Calif., where they did some jumps before Flanders took off for Turkey. The adventure enthusiast even served as a best man in Schultz’s wedding earlier this year in South Africa.

One last bit. Emphasis ours:

“At the time of his death, Flanders was actually working on a documentary about all of the deaths that have been happening in the BASE world, and… it’s just an incredible tragedy that he would die this way,” Schaffer told the outlet.

Pity that the documentary will probably go unfinished. We think that Ian Flanders was out of his mind to make this suicidal sport the focus of his life. And we will defend his right to do that. It is — it was — his own life, and if you are only free to do the things others approve of, you’re not really free.

Say what you will about Ian Flanders, but he lived — and died — a free man. Ave atque vale. 

Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid?

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlWho was it that turned up in a raid on an industrial pot facility? Everybody’s The President’s favorite deserter1, who’s supposed to be in the jug awaiting trial for desertion, turned up in a massive marijuana raid in California.

The cops looked to return the peripatetic accused to his military base, only to get a “don’t bother” from military officials.

The Unique and Special Snowflake™ whose desertion to the Taliban led to the loss of a half-dozen lives of loyal Americans looking for him, as he gave them aid and comfort, wan’t AWOL at all. Knowing how Special he is and how much people in High Places prefer him to the usual ruck and scrum of enlisted swine, he’d been basically told, in that favorite phrase of sergeants everywhere, “You’ve got nothing to do. Don’t do it here.” The authorities knew he was in California and were cool with it.

Bergdahl was visiting with “old family friends” who apparently just happened to be hemp-huffing hippies. We hope this doesn’t shake your faith in Taliban-Americans.

Meanwhile, the President finally got around to putting flags at half-staff for the Chattanooga jihad victims, although the Partisan Political Police that are the FBI still express utter bafflement at the shooter’s motivations. Several commentators have been very critical of the President’s reluctance to memorialize the deaths of service members, something he does not like very much, at the hands of an Islamic nutball, something he seems much more kindly disposed towards.

Who’s saying he lowered the flags for the victims? Maybe he did it for the shaheed, Mohammod Abdulazeez.


  1. Yeah, the court hasn’t convicted him yet. But we have.