Friday, December 26, 2008

All the best from the 4th Street Irregulars

To all of you who take the time to stop in and peruse these musings now and then - all the critters and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and the very best in the coming New Year.
I often reflect on the fact that we despair over the state of our world and our lives as if we truly were living in the end times.  Yet our world is not engulfed in a global war such as those that devoured past generations.  Our scientific resources are greater now than they've ever been.  The state of science is greatly advanced over even that from which our parents benefited, and more is being learned about how things work every day.
The tools available to us to protect and improve our health are amazing.
The toys and electronics and other things which enhance our leisure have become ever more incredible.  In my lifetime I have seen a transformation in consumer electronics which would have been fit for a science fiction novel in the 1950s, and perhaps hardly credible even then.
Yet people despair about the state of the world, and perhaps that is the cause for greatest concern.  I look around at the children who I see, and examine the people who appear on TV, and that, more than anything else, causes concern for me.
At a time when our store of knowledge is vast beyond imagining, when just keeping up with what's new and being discovered is almost beyond our ability each day, the human race is failing to live up to its promise.
Children are getting fatter and less fit.  People don't value education and intellectual attainments, preferring simply to consume mediocre amusements that don't challenge the intellect at all.  Curiosity, asking questions, challenging the conventional thinking and popular assumptions is a lost art.
The popular culture places a greater premium on "reality" shows than it does on dealing with reality itself.  When the promise of a world filled with technological wonders is being brought to life all around us, a significant portion of the human race is failing even to meet the most mundane standards.
People, many, many people, are becoming slobs and THAT worries me.
I don't care if people are slobs.  There will always be those who do nothing, contribute nothing, value nothing.  What does concern me is that we are subsidizing these slobs when we should be marshaling our resources to give to our best and brightest, letting go the ones who are content to sit and stew in their own juices so that we can direct life's rewards to the ones who excel.
Working in health care I see so many people who are basically just zeroes who devour the resources of our health care system.  Alcoholics, drug addicts, idiots who destroy their own lives with bad choices are using up millions of our dollars and wasting our time.  Jerks who take turns shooting each other waste millions more.  And yet the nanny state insists that we're not doing enough for all these losers.
Worse is the fact that they come from long lines of losers in many cases, people who live in a state of consumption of resources while doing little or nothing to improve the state of the world.  And our political and social systems are increasingly geared toward simply giving them more, on demand, regardless of their values or the value of their contributions to our world.
We have so much that we know and can share, but we foist our wealth on people who waste it and don't appreciate it.  That, to me, is the great tragedy.
Colonel Jeff Cooper often despaired that the Age of the Common Man gave you just that - common men and women with little to recommend them.  He championed the idea that it was far better to exalt the Uncommon Man - the few who displayed higher standards and achieved more with their lives.  And I agree with him.
TV programs that are filled with the foolishness of stupid people teach us nothing about being exceptional.  They simply take up time better spent in many other pursuits.  Yet people sit and ingest this crap.  It defines their lives, in my estimation.
There is too much left to learn, to do, to know for this to define our species and our age.
We live in a time of great opportunity and great attainments, yet we stand - no, we sit, too lazy to stand for long - ready to squander the vast wealth that still fills the world.  People are happy to be mediocre and worse, as long as their bellies are full and pap fills the airwaves.
I despair not for the state of the world, but for the decline of the human race at large and the political institutions that foster this idiocy.
Yet even these things are reversible.  Humanity did not get to this exalted position by being inadequate, but by hunger for knowledge and being willing to do the work to find it.  There are many of us who still feel that burning to learn and achieve, and it's incumbent on us to devise systems that reward that mindset.
We are only defeated when we admit defeat.  I'm not there yet, not by a long shot.
As long as free people are willing to take stock of the state of their world and set out to improve it, to preserve their freedoms and their values, to give their children a better place, to deny triumph to the sloths and the mediocrities then there is hope for the future.
Merry Christmas!  And let's do what we can to make this a Happy New Year, the start of many to come!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Para LTC at 500 rounds

I made it out the range in the cold today (temps in the 20s with a very brisk wind, Arctic air whipping through, lows tonight in the single digits) and quickly put another 300 rounds through the 9mm Para lightweight LTC 1911, bringing to 500 the number of rounds of Federal 'American Eagle' 115gr ball ammo fired to date.

The gun runs just fine, never missing a beat no matter how I shoot it, fast or slow. It hasn't been cleaned since I started this T&E, only field-stripped and lubed with LSA at the outset. The only hiccups have been related to one factory magazine, which is now labeled and being watched as we work to identify the glitch. The gun itself has never had any problems. I like the feel of it the more that I shoot it. The trigger is starting to break in nicely so that just thinking about it more or less breaks the shot. When you haven't shot a 1911 regularly for awhile, it's so nice to feel that kind of trigger quality again.
The Wilson ETM 10 round mags are very high quality and have worked perfectly so far. I've had them apart and the details of their construction will be the subject of another posting in future. They are definitely the ticket for anyone using a 1911 in 9mm.
More to follow later this week, including photos of the gun, mags and targets. I hope to get some more powerful ammo and some JHPs through it at some point, budget permitting. We know it shoots, now what will it shoot?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

AR magazines

With all the frenzied buying of ARs, AKs, magazines and ammunition going on now it's hard to get the stuff that you want without running into 'out of stock' messages on all the web pages I shop at.
Since so many of the AR magazines that I would normally use have been sold out, I considered various options that popped up. One of those is a polymer magazine from the Lancer company. Another is a new steel magazine from a company named Fusil USA. They've both more expensive than the current benchmark magazine for ARs, the MagPul P-mag, or any of the conventional aluminum or steel mags from high-quality makers such as C-products and Brownell's. Are they worth the bucks, even in times when mags are in short supply?
Samples of all of these became available at somewhat reasonable prices, and we picked up several in order to test and compare them. My work schedule during the Christmas season has made it hard to get much done on the blog and with testing in general, but we've taken one of each of the Lancer ($25-40), the Fusil ($25-40) and the P-mag ($15-25), loaded them to capacity (30 rounds) with 55gr ball ammo and set them aside until we can get them out to the range and see how they do. Photos and detailed comparison to follow later this month.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The new carbine is one fine machine!

I was able to get the Noveske Light Recce mid-length 5.56mm carbine out to the range just long enough to put 30 rounds through it the other day, to see how it felt and functioned. Yowser! Bloggo is happy!

It was cold and time was limited so I simply loaded the Noveske GI-style magazine that came with it with 30 rounds of Federal 55gr ball (M193), aimed it at the center of that large flat rock out at 150 yards on our range and pressed the trigger.
Bingo! Hit!
Continued to do that until the magazine was empty, and got hits every time. I don't know how it shoots for group, but if someone had been out there who had just needed shootin' they would have been hurtin' fer certain.
A guy who was on the range with his 24 inch Bushmaster .223 AR varmint gun shot a couple of rounds through the Noveske and he commented that it seemed to kick less than his own 16 inch carbine. I hadn't told him about the mid-length gas system before he fired it, so his impression coupled with my own seem to indicate that the longer gas tube does help reduce recoil - or maybe it was just shooting such an obviously well-made carbine!
Looking forward to getting it on the bench and shooting for group in the next couple of days. As of now, I'm very happy with it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is it the winter blahs?

I've been in a rut between being too busy, doing work for KC3 and just doing nothing but hanging out with the dogs.

So not much blogging going on, hardly any shooting.  Just reading, drinking coffee, playing with cooking different foods and hanging out with the dogs a lot.
We've put up bird feeders in the back yard, and have had to deal with learning how to secure them against the ravages of the squirrels and the larger birds, but we have most of that dealt with now.  We're even feeding the squirrels so the little buggers will mess less with the bird chow.  I like watching birds and reflecting on how fragile they are.  Getting through the winter here is no joke. The lowly sparrow, shivering and striving to survive, has my deepest respect.
There will be some shooting to report on soon.  The Noveske mid-length Light Recce carbine has arrived and it is a beaut!  Now we have to get it to the range and see how it shoots.  Photos and more on that to follow.
I just went through the process of buying a computer for my son, Jared, but since he knows nothing about what's been done on that front I can't speak of it yet, don't want to tip him off when he checks in here at the blog.  Sure do wish that I could have talked him into a Mac instead of a Windoze Vista machine, but maybe next time.
I'm still getting over losing Lucie, which I think accounts for a good deal of the blahs I've had lately.  That, and working nights, working a lot, working hard when I'm at work in the ICU is wearing me down.
I've logged a lot of time making phone calls and writing emails for KC3 to get our web page upgraded, finding an ISP, finding an attorney, answering questions and researching answers, meeting with one of our legislative friends and mentors, taking over the newsletter and getting it ready to print - just a lot of stuff to do, some of it things that have languished for years due to the neglect of the former president and vice president who did NOTHING during their tenure!  Just trying to get back up to speed on a lot of this stuff is taking a lot of time.  The good thing is that I have more time than most of the board members to do this stuff, so I do it.  The down side is that doing it uses up MY time.  One look at the mess that I live in tells you where my priorities lie.
So if you've wondered what's going on with the blog, that's it.  I've been busy or I've been blah.  And just like everyone else, I have to make some preparations for Christmas so adding that to all else that I've volunteered for I've had some busy days and nights.
But we're making progress!  And for those of you who care, you can start monitoring our KC3 blog at and keeping up with what the pre-eminent personal rights group in Kentucky is doing to defend our right to self-defense.  If you live in Kentucky, you owe to yourself and to everyone who has a concealed carry permit to get on board and work with us to keep our Commonwealth free!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Range report on the Sabre Defense 6.5mm Grendel rifle

This is what I posted to fellow Gunsite alumni about the rifle my friend just bought.
(photo copyright Sabre Defense)
Since this was written, Sabre Defense overnighted to us the remaining parts and box for the scope, along with a free digital camo boonie hat. Based on the quality of their product, the speed with which they fixed things and their willingness to fix their errors, I'll do business with them again. Next up, an M5 upper in 6.5mm Grendel for my AR?

Quoted text below -

A friend of mine decided last year that he wanted to get some kind of rifle for long-range shooting that would allow him to engage multiple targets fairly quickly and when he saw the designated marksman's rifles that the Army and Marines were building in .308 he liked them, but decided that he'd rather have it in 6.5mm Grendel for the reduction in recoil and the ballistic advantages.
I took him to see the Precision Marksman's Rifle (PMR) at the Sabre Defense booth at the NRA show this spring and he decided to buy one of those.
Late this summer he ordered one, and it arrived FINALLY last week. Yesterday we took it out to the range to get a rough zero on it and to see how it functioned.
It's on this web page, fifth item down.
The Leupold scope is very nice - crisp, clear, easy to adjust and focus. It was easy to pick out gray rocks from brown leaves on an overcast day with these optics. It's an M4 6.5-20X with the mil-dot reticle. We haven't checked out the illumination of the reticle yet because Sabre Defense didn't include the battery with the scope when they shipped. They also didn't send the box for the scope or the manual or the front Butler Creek lens cover - more on that later.
The rifle comes in a padded bag with an Otis field cleaning kit, a pad to lie on and a single shoot'n'see-type target to use with it, as well as two C-Products 25-round steel magazines of excellent quality.
The rifle is very well made. Everything felt crisp and secure. The fit between the upper and lower receivers is tight. The Magpul buttstock is well made and nothing on the gun in the way of parts or assembly quality was lacking. I disassembled the bolt, scrubbed the dried carbon off of it, lubed it and we started shooting.
We were using the Wolf Gold line of ammunition, with the 120gr open tip ball bullet loaded. The ammo is clean and the brass bright, with the annealing lines apparent on the brass. The ammunition would be a match for any US commercial production that I've seen lately and I understand that it's made by Prvi Partizan.
We fired three rounds at 25 yards and found that it was pretty close to zero already - three inches low and an inch left. After shooting and adjusting, we ended up using about 15 clicks right windage and four clicks up to bring it in roughly where I thought it should be. Checking it at 50 yards seemed to confirm that. The match trigger in the gun is EXCELLENT, the best that I've ever used in any AR. There was a failure to feed in the first magazine and I don't know why, but it didn't happen again.
Since we were short on time and the weather was chilly, we then shot it for fun at a very large rock at 150 yards. We weren't just hitting it, we were putting all the rounds into a fairly small area on the rock. So I started shooting at 8-12 inch rocks, then at 3-6 inch rocks and we were hitting them all. Basically, the rifle was dead to point of aim at 150 yards with what little adjusting we had done to the scope. Hitting small rocks was so easy it was like shooting beer cans at 25 yards with a .22 than shooting targets 1/3 that size with a full power rifle at 150 yards. Once we get it on sandbags on a good day we'll tune the zero to the cartridge's ballistics.
The muzzle brake is what SD calls a 'gill' brake because of its appearance, I suppose. It may have contributed slightly to the muzzle blast, but what it did to lessen recoil and keep the gun down was worth it. It was easy to watch the strike of the bullet through the scope and stay in the scope for succeeding rounds. Shooter fatigue with this rifle should be more or less inconsequential.
So for a very brief (60 rounds) range session it was very satisfying. The rifle and scope performed superbly. I couldn't believe how easy it was to shoot this rifle. I could shoot one rock, see it hit, pivot on the bipod to another, hit it and keep doing it until I decided to quit. I've shot .223s that had more apparent recoil than this gun. The trigger was another key contributor to this ease of shooting.
The only downside has been Sabre Defense's customer service. My brother ordered the gun, then checked on the order and they'd lost it. He placed the order again, then called some time later to find out where it was. He was promised a delivery date. That date passed and he called again, and got another date, which also passed. We waited nine weeks for this gun, and one of his conversations with a woman there was less than satisfactory, which led him to ask to speak to someone else to whom he very frankly described his dissatisfaction.
When I saw how they'd shipped this rifle, missing the scope accessories, I called them and spoke with a young man named Aloysius who explained that the delay had been caused by delays in receiving the scopes from Leupold. I told him that I was personally embarrassed because I had recommended this gun and his company to my friend, and had been let down by their performance and by their broken promises.
It appeared to me that when they became anxious to ship this rifle they just put the first scope that they had on hand onto it, then sent it out without the box, battery, etc. since they weren't lying around nearby. They're supposed to call me back today to tell me when they're going to send the box and the other accessories that SHOULD have been with it out to us.
Final impressions - the customer service was lacking. Delivery was delayed and I'm not sure that I accept their reasons for that. But the final product is superb! The rifle is easy to shoot and I'm looking forward to when we can run some of the Alexander Arms 123gr Lapua Scenar ammunition through it at longer ranges so we can see how it performs in its proper role. This was also my first exposure to the 6.5mm Grendel round and I really like it! This round is everything that I'd been led by my reading on it to believe. Even this basic Wolf ammunition is capable of excellent practical accuracy. The Leupold scope is excellent and I look forward to trying it with the illuminated reticle.
If SD can do better on delivery there would be nothing to complain about with this system. For long range shooting it would appear to be the thing. Respectfully submitted this 24th day of November in the year of our Lord 2008, I remain, yr obdnt srvnt - Charles

"A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level."
- Unknown

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Data points, winter

I told myself that I was going to the range today. Then I got outside and saw what a nasty day it was and changed my mind.

I'd had some of that lovely breakfast casserole that we learned about from Brigid at the Home On the Range blog, so I was content on that count. Thinking about things Celtic last night had reminded me of 'Rob Roy' with Liam Neeson, so I had already downloaded that movie from iTunes. There - I had plenty of reasons to stay socked into the house and slurp coffee and write stuff. God knows that I have plenty of housecleaning to do, too, as well as things to follow up on for KC3 before our meeting this coming weekend.
But I couldn't resist it. I hadn't put any rounds down range in too long. The sky cleared and I packed up and headed out.
Took the dogs along and since no other IDIOT was out there but ME, we had the run of the place. You take a pack of pooches to a large grassy area on a cold day and you have a formula for fun. They got to run and check their pee-mail for a bit, then got bundled back into the car and it was down to business. They got to get back out every time I had to go set or check targets so they didn't get bored.

The quick data set -

The ParaUSA LTC 1911 Commander-sized lightweight 9mm pistol ran through a hundred rounds of Federal 115 grain ball without a hiccup. Both the 9 round factory magazines and the Wilson Combat 10 round mags are very smooth now as they wear in, as is the trigger. It shoots to the sights at 25 yards. I was going to try to do a nice group to photograph for the blog, but with the temp at 40 degrees and the light failing at 1700 hours that wasn't happening. Still, 100 rounds fired at a fairly brisk rate ate the center out of the target quite handily.
Second, I'd put the new Swift Premier 1.5-4.5X32mm variable scope on the Remington M660 .308 in the Warne steel rings so today I did a rough zero using milsurp ball ammo. Put three rounds touching in one cloverleaf at 25 yards. Put three rounds within 4 inches of each other at 100 yards. Good enough for conditions and the ammo I was using. This little carbine can shoot, the scope is very clear and bright, and the rings are tough as hell!
Third - the Prvi Partizan commercial ball 7.5x54mm ball ammo runs just fine through the French MAS 49/56
semiauto rifle. It'll require re-zeroing since it was hitting way high but it grouped well enough to smack a paint can around at 75 yards. However, the trigger slap was NASTY! Hmm. No one's mentioned that in any reviews of this gun that I've read. Maybe cold hands made it worse, but my finger was swollen and numb for a bit after firing ten rounds. Can I put Sorbothane on the trigger face to fix it? What else to do? Something to ponder.
So all the guns ran fine, the dogs had fun, the guns still need cleaning but I can do that while 'Rob Roy' plays on iTunes and the bean soup is slowly cooking down on the stove.
So what if it's winter? Life is good. I'm glad we went.

Quantum leap ahead in James Bond movies

Thank God for Daniel Craig. He's saved the James Bond franchise.

Of course, he couldn't have done it without the intelligent scripting and high production values that have been evident in the two movies he's done as Bond, first 'Casino Royale' and now 'Quantum of Solace'. Craig plays Bond with the kind of unhesitating savagery that a man in his line of business would have to possess, the sort of borderline sociopathy that Ian Fleming originally wrote into the character in his books. I saw 'Quantum' twice this weekend, going to matinees on two days, just like I did when 'Dr. No' and 'From Russia with Love' came out all those years ago. I could quibble about some minor points in the film, but I won't. That would be petty and mean-spirited given all the enjoyment that I derived from seeing Craig playing a Bond that was vital and powerful again, not bogged down in foppishness the way that Roger 'dipstick' Moore played him, or burdened with silly gadgets that way that Sean 'gun control' Connery ended up. Bond doesn't dick around in this film. When he's attacked, he responds with ruthless and effective violence that has nothing in common with the silly stage-ish 'fighting' that prior Bond films displayed. As a student of the martial arts, with and without weapons, and lover of cinema at large I exult that they've taken Bond back to the basics in a big way, while making the production look better than ever. You like Bond? You should see it.

Damn, don't you HATE when that happens?

Big 'oopsie' for the climate change ninnies in the British online newspaper the Telegraph today, but Al Gore won't be telling you about it, nor will the mainstream media in this country if they can avoid it.
Read about it here.
Seems that Dr. James Hansen, the agenda-driven bozo who's been the NASA cheerleader for ruining the world's economy in the pursuit of nebulous reductions in carbon dioxide in the mistaken belief that it drives climate change, has been fudging the numbers - and got caught! Ooops, my rosie red ass. They've known all along that they had to juggle the numbers to get the results that they've obtained.
Just like any fraud, the longer it's exposed to the light the worse for wear it looks. Some serious fraying showing these days. Follow the links in the story for some web pages that are of value for those of us who could use some ammo to debunk the climate-Kool-aid swillers.

Comfort food for winter

A lady named Brigid has a blog called Home on the Range that I discovered from links on the pages of some other bloggers. I've never met the lady but I like her style.
She's a woman of many parts - pilot, shooter, artist, writer and most importantly this morning, a chef. I could say that she's a cook, but that hardly captures the degree of skill she brings to the subject. The appellation 'chef' is more in keeping both with her expertise and her quality of presentation.
This morning it was cold and wet and windy in Kentucky, so I baked this as-yet-unnamed casserole for which she posted the recipe on her site.
It is really, really good!
(photo courtesy Brigid @ Home on the Range)
I can foresee that we'll be using variations on this one for some time to come. By substituting in mushrooms or other vegetables, different meats and different cheeses there would seem to be no end to the ways you could jigger this around and come up with something very nice each time.
Today we used half-n-half instead of the milk and 'country-style' bread stuffing instead of the cornbread type that she lists, but it was wonderful just the same. Delicious! Perfect for steeling you against this foul weather! The dogs and cats had mushed-up salmon in their dry food while I chowed down on the casserole and sipped coffee, and all of us are sated. Well, the dogs were paying attention while it baked and are still waiting for some of that casserole to fall off the plate onto the floor, so they're not completely sated!
The man who runs the grocery down the street from me started off as a meat cutter, and each week they make their own ground sausage right there in their store from the trimmings and cuts they've accumulated. It's so lean that you have to cook it in a little water in the skillet to keep from burning it. Next time we do this recipe, we'll try it with that sausage, some mushrooms and some onion to see what happens.
Brigid's page is full of beautiful work. Her writing and her photographs are masterful. At the risk of losing readers (all three of you), I urge you to do yourself a favor and cruise on over to her page. You might not come back to this plebeian blog again after seeing hers.
Great food! The 4th Street Irregulars give it 4 Paws up!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kentucky in the fall

When I was a boy, I used to go out in the car with my Dad on the weekends to go groundhog hunting along the Old Frankfort Pike, the old road to Lexington. It's lined on both sides with old trees and rock walls that have been there for centuries.

On the other side of the walls you'll see great long fields rolling away in the distance. Beautiful, especially at this time of year -

There's a tree in a lot that's surrounded by a wrought iron fence not far from our house. The house on that lot burned down long since and the owners have left it wild, letting the trees and flowers grow in it. This tree has grown up twisted and strange and I love to look at it through the changing seasons.
I've been in a lot of countries and seen a lot of places, but the simple beauty of Kentucky always draws me back.

The K9 Krew

I may have told you that the dogs have their own car, with their own vanity plates. The front plate reads 'Dog Sled 1'.

I had this wagon and was going to sell it when I bought a new Suzuki Forenza wagon, but then I realized that as long as I had this one, the new one would stay clean. This one was paid off and cheap to insure - why not keep it?
They love to go riding out to the field along the river to run around, and they love just to ride around, hanging their heads out the windows.
The bumper stickers are mine. They let me put them on there in exchange for my driving for them. When they grow thumbs and Sunny gets her license, I'm out of luck! Well, until Sunny has her first wreck, anyway.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

On November 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps was founded. Since that time they have been in the forefront of almost every action and conflict in which the United States has been engaged.

One of the first heroes of the Marines was Lt. Presley O'Bannon, who led them into action against the Tripoli pirates in the effort to break the pirate trade against the USA in that region. He's buried here in Frankfort, Kentucky and we visited his grave today to pay our respects to him.

He lies at the foot of the slope leading up to the memorial for Kentucky's war dead, which includes an obelisk on which the words of the poem "Bivouac of the Dead" are engraved. It was written to commemorate Kentucky's fallen soldiers from the Mexican-American war.

There's also a plaque that details his history and his exploits.

Happy birthday, Marines, from an ex-NCO in the US Army! Semper fidelis!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sad news from the pack

Despite the good news about guns and testing to do and the usual day to day events, there's something sad to add.

I'm not talking about the election. I'm resigned to that. It just means that we will finally be in the fight for our rights that we've been fearing for a long time. This will be the test of our resolve and our mettle that we've needed. We'll see who's committed to the fight, and which of us are only fair weather warriors.

No, the sad news now is that Lucie, our senior lady in the pack, has left us and gone on to scout ahead of us in the hereafter. It was very unexpected and abrupt, not at all something easy to accept or talk about just yet, probably not for a long while. She's just gone.

We lost Vanya only last year and I'm still getting over that. Now I have two kennels sitting side by side with their personal toys and bowls in them, doors closed - great dark empty spaces echoing and lonely.
In our family our dogs aren't just pets, they're our friends and mates, our siblings and our partners in life. They make our lives whole, richer, fuller. Their zeal and sheer joy in living is contagious. I treasure their companionship and relish the feel and smell of them, the sound of their baying when they're tuning up for a ride in the car.

Now we won't have Lucie leading the chorus with her special talking voice "woo-oo-ooing", dancing on her toes, eyes bright, ears up, eager.
I found myself standing by the open door of the car as they loaded up for a ride the other day, counting to be sure that they were all on board, and caught myself saying "come on, Lucie" since she and Churchill are always the last to mount up. Then murmuring again, softer, "come on, Lucie" when I realized what I'd said.

Come on, Lucie. Let's go riding. God dammit.

I hope she and Vanya are together again, working the trails, scenting the wind, relishing the smells like they always did here - tails up, noses down, quick, intent. I hope that they've found Sergei and are working as a pack again, cruising the tall grass, seeking game, running deer.

God, I miss those guys. Every time I lose one it's another shadow on my heart.

Glock swap shop

Try saying that title really fast three times!

Got the idea for this from some friends on an email list for Gunsite alumni when I was thinking about selling a Glock G21 9-11-01 commemorative that I'd inherited from my Dad. I like the G21 okay, but prefer the G30 .45 compact. I've owned both and found them extremely reliable and extremely accurate. The G30 was easy to shoot and easy to carry as well. Making hits on pepper poppers at 100 yards was literally no problem with that pistol.
What I really wanted was a G20, the large frame 10mm pistol that they make. I've wanted one for years but never got around to buying or trading for one, and I thought that this was an opportunity to do that. But a friend suggested that I just swap out the barrel and magazines to 10mm and then I'd have both calibers in one gun.
Subsequent research showed that he was right. The barrels would interchange, the magazines had the same dimensions, the ejectors would work and the recoil spring assembly was the same part in both guns. Wow! I used to work with Glocks a lot - selling them, shooting them, competing with them. I went to the Glock armorer's school when we owned a gun store. I had just forgotten how much commonality of parts there was in the Glock system.
I checked out different barrels and searched around for parts. I ended up with a Storm Lake barrel with cut rifling and a fully supported chamber, which is all bright and shiny and fits into the cut in the slide very nicely.
After replacing the slide stop lever that I broke while trying to bend it to where I wanted it (it is not for nothing that I was called "Captain Overtorque") I took the whole shebang to the range for a super quick range session. Taking the stock gun I loaded it with Blazer .45 230gr ball and fired eight rounds through it. I then swapped out the barrel, loaded it with 10 rounds of Blazer 200gr 10mm ball and without any other changes to the gun, let fly.
End result - 18 rounds through the gun, two different calibers, perfect functioning!
A couple of days later I got to shoot it a good bit more and found that the .45 ball shot about 3-4 inches high at 25 yards with the stock original sights, while the 10mm ball shot directly to point of aim with the stock sights.
Amazing. Now I can load it up with whichever caliber seems appropriate to the situation, and carry on. Of course, now I also have to get a holster for it, maybe something from Rocketman kydex hoslters. With the .45 load it'll be fine for personal defense, and with the 10mm I can carry it into the woods with heavy loads for use against beasts with fang and claw, and carry a reserve magazine with defensive loads suited to hominids.
Maybe at some point in time I'll send it out to a friend in Kali for a grip frame reduction. I've always been lucky and have had no problems with the way that the Glocks point for me, but since this is already a project gun I might try it anyway.
Whichever, I'm happy. Now I've got that 10mm I always wanted, not just a hot .40 load, but a real zinger!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama in 2-D

Mark Steyn is one of the most insightful and fun to read writers on the conservative side.  He's sharp and incisive.
He has a new piece at the National Review Online about Obama that's excellent, about the charade that is this construct.  Pass it on - Obama in 2-D

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AKs are okay!

I also fired 60 rounds through a new Romanian WASR-10 semi-auto AK yesterday.
I put 30 rounds of basic ball and soft points into 3 inches at 25 yards from the standing offhand position. Another 15 in rapid fire opened the group up to 5-6 inches. I was able to hit rocks and dirt clods of about 6-8 inches size at 100 yards from standing. I nailed a torso-sized flat rock that's set upright at the 150 yard line until it was boring. Aside from mounting an A1-style birdcage flash hider on it, I'm going to leave this one pretty much stock for the time being.
I was able to induce one failure to feed by pushing the magazine from side to side. The round just sat in the magazine, wasn't picked up and chambered by the bolt. I was doing this check because the mag well opening seemed a little, shall we say, generous? But it only happened once in the first 20 rounds and I couldn't induce that failure again. Short of really whacking on the magazine, I don't see how it would be a problem. The mags locked up tight and were securely in place.
Like all the Romanian AKs I've handled it was full of metal chips and grease when I first opened it up, the chips coming from where they ground out the metal to allow it to feed from standard magazines. Brushing and cleaning and lubing it with LSA made it run slickly.
I considered a Saiga SGL10 at much more money, but they require either that you modify the locking lug on your magazines or modify the mag catch. I didn't feel like fooling with it. This will do what an AK does - runs, hits, tolerates abuse.
It might not be purty, but it works. Photos to follow.

Happy Bloggo!

I took the Para USA 9mm lightweight Commander-style LTC to the range yesterday and quickly fired 100 rounds of Winchester white box generic 115 grain ball through it. I like it.

I included the Wilson Combat 9mm magazines in this initial testing as well. They hold 10 rounds, are easy to load and are very well made. They ran without a hitch through the LTC.
I field stripped the gun before going out, inspected it and lubed it with LSA (lubricant, small arms). This isn't a torture test so I'm not going to run the gun dry and see if it breaks. I will run it for awhile without cleaning it to see what that reveals.
I fired one 10 round group at 25 yards of about 4 inches size. I was shooting very casually and when I really held tight and worked at it, the gun laid the rounds right on top of each other. It shot to the sights at both 25 and 50 yards in casual plinking at dirt clods and cans.
The only malfunction was a failure to feed the last round from one of the Para 9-round magazines. I was shooting to see how rapidly I could empty and reload it and carry on. I realized that one round remained in one mag when I picked it up. I then fed it in and shot it, and it locked back the slide as it should. I don't know if it was the mag that locked back the slide, prompting my reload, or if I hit the slide stop or what. There were no other malfs. It could have been me so I don't consider that a failure of the gun or mags. This is not a stringent collection of data, this is an ongoing evaluation of the gun.
Impressions to date - sights are right, trigger is crisp, shoots like it should with generic ammo and no faults found. The Wilson magazines are first rate.
I'm going to have fun with this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First look at the new Para LTC

I was able to pick up the Para LTC from my brother today and get some first impressions of it. I didn't get to shoot it but plan to do that tomorrow.

First, the pistol looks really good. The finish is very dark, a blue so deep it's black. The edges are crisp and the finish on the parts I examined was good. I field-stripped it and gave it a quick look, found nothing to be unhappy about and put it back together.
The trigger is very nice. It has very little take-up and lets off crisply, with almost zero overtravel. You wouldn't guess that it has the series 80-type trigger safety in it just from the feel. I've handled some guns in which you could feel every millimeter of travel of the parts in the trigger mechanism, but not with this one. The first impression the gun gives you is that it's solid and well made. The stocks have a good figure and are properly checkered. I do wish that the front strap was as well. The mainspring housing is very crisply checkered and gives you something to sink your skin into.
The two magazines that come with it have that same look of being properly constructed and finished. They're brightly polished, have extended base pads, hold nine rounds and slide in and out of the pistol smoothly.
The gun came in a very nice locking plastic box. The gun makers all seem to be putting more care into the packaging of their guns now, which is good because it makes them easier to store and protect. It was packed with a bushing wrench and two Allen keys for adjusting the sights and other hex head screws on the gun. They included a lock, of course, and it's going to stay in the bag it's in. There's a basic manual which I'll read at greater length later. It appears that it has a picture tutorial by Todd Jarett in it - nice touch.
The first impression is of a well-made, well thought-out pistol and package. Let's hope that it shoots as well as it looks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An open letter to Mitch McConnell

Dear Mitch - I hope you win this election. I know that you've been having to work harder than you're used to against this Lunsford boy. It's bound to make you nervous, knowing that for the first time you've got serious competition for your seat.
You should have seen it coming. Watching Ann Northrup get knocked off by that uberliberal in Louisville should have told you something about the mood of the electorate. But I bet you drew the wrong conclusions so let me explain it to you.
You and Ann and McCain and Bush are all suffering from the same problem. You've misplaced whatever conservative credentials that you ever had. You're so busy trying to be everybody's buddy, trying to outspend the Democrats, that the conservatives think you've died and been replaced by clones. You know, like Stepford Republicans who make faintly familiar noises while self-destructing.
Mitch, you can't outspend the Democrats. Ye gods, man, look at how much they've squandered on The Great Society in the last forty years! Sarah Palin spends $150,000 on clothes and the Left goes bats, but Barack NO!bama spends FIVE MILLION on a stage and not a peep! How you gonna keep pace with that, bubba?
As McCain might have learned by now (we're not so sure he can be taught, but that's another column for another day), reaching out across the aisle to the Dems only means you're gonna draw back a bloody stump. Maybe he's been doublecrossed and badmouthed by the guys he thought were his pals enough times in this campaign that he's getting the picture. I have my doubts.
But you're a Kentucky boy, Mitch, and I'm more inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, if only not to feel embarrassed for both of us.
There is no compromise with the Dems, Mitch, for two reasons.
One, they want to win this culture war, and they already KNOW that it's a war, while you guys are still waking up. Didn't any of you read about Pearl Harbor in school? You can't win a war if you don't know you're in it.
Two, there is no compromise on principles. You remember principles. I know you do, just close your eyes and think really hard, you can do it!
You had them before you went to Washington, I bet. Now you're so intent on trying to pass legislation, ANY legislation, that you can point to and say "See! We did that!" that you've forgotten that just passing bills isn't the same thing as crafting laws that are based on principles.
Republicans are getting their butts kicked because we don't love you no more. There, I put it in a form that any C&W fan can relate to. We have a lot of those here in Kentucky. I'm not one, but I understand the genre.
We're tired of voting for Republicans only to find out that they're Dems in disguise. (Are you guys lying to us just so you can go to DC and hang out in the gym with your Dem buddies? If that's the case, just go on over the DNC and let 'em sign you up, and quit lying to us.)
When the GOP decides to knuckle down and field candidates that we can point to and say "that is NOT a Democrat!" then you'll see some changes in our support for the GOP. Did you notice how folks got all fired up about Sarah Palin when she came on the scene? Didja hear a lot of "hot DAMN!, I LIKE that girl!" floating around?
We call that a clue, Mitch. You don't have to be frickin' Columbo to see that.
It's time to quit being nice and trying to get along with guys who hate you.
If a pack of thugs was kicking you in the teeth while they were taking your car, and dragging your furniture out the door and emptying your gun safe, would you be trying to shake their hands and kiss their bipartisan butts? Okay, McCain would, but surely you're smarter than that, Mitch? Or did you turn in your huevos at the door when you entered the Senate cloakroom?
To the Dems, to Schumer and Reid and Pelosi, bipartisan means TWO of them jumping on ONE of you. You need to start reading their playbook.
That's what the Dems are doing, Mitch - looting our house. Pillaging our way of life. They're slapping you guys around while you keep seeking approval like a bunch of little boys who aren't sure that their mothers love them, and they're piling all our principles into a heap getting ready for a cultural bonfire.
WAKE UP, Senator McConnell!
The Dems are NOT your friends. They're trying to drag you down, boot you out and they'll dance on your grave when you're gone. They're masters of showing a conciliatory face while their hands are doing a tap-dance with a dagger in your back!
So that's why you're teetering on the brink of defeat, Mitch, and why we're going to grit our teeth and vote for Palin and that other guy and yes, for you - one last time.
We can see what you're doing up there in the swamp and we don't like it. We don't relish defeat and we're not getting a payoff that will mollify us for the screwing that's going to follow this election if the GOP tanks as badly as it seems that they will. You can lie back in your retirement while we foot the bill for your errors and try to hold the Obamabarian horde at the gates.
You may not mind losing a war that you don't even seem to see is being waged but I can assure you that we most definitely DO resent it, sir!
Maybe the only bright side to all this mess is that if you lose, you're gone, and there might be a new generation of Republicans coming up behind you who took notes and learned something from it, and have decided to go for the win, not a draw. Maybe enough people will be sufficiently pissed off at the GOP to start speaking up even more loudly than we have in the past, and not putting their money behind "moderate" clowns.
I hope you win your race, Mitch. I hope NO!bama loses and you have another chance to get back in the Senate and start kicking some Left-wing butt. Good luck - we'll have our eyes on you - Bloggo

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A journalist speaks out against his own profession

Let's face it, the mainstream media are so obviously supporting NO!bama, rooting for NO!bama and doing all that they can to help him be elected that it's stunning to behold!
In this piece in the Pajamas Media this writer speaks about his intense embarrassment over the blatant partisanship of the media, not just in this presidential election but in many other major stories that he's covered.
There are also links to stories about illegal campaign contributions to NO!bama in the comments at the bottom of the page that you should follow and read.  Frightening.
More than anything else, all this is being played out in plain view, with virtually no shame, no contrition on the part of the players.  The Left apparently has decided that this is their hour, their time to seize the day and make their big move for power.
I can only sit and read and wonder when the big push is going to get pushed back by the majority of us who don't accept this corruption.


Iowahawk nails another one, in his inimitable style, lampooning the socialist hypocrite and NO!bama lover William Ayers in this piece.
I wish I had this guy's talent for satire.  Pure genius.  What's scary is that he's only pointing out what the world knows about this little slime toad, and the world that supports the Chosen One doesn't care!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Excellent interview about taxes, trade and wealth

An interview with the CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith, where he makes a lot of sense.
Read it here in the Wall Street Journal Online Opinion page.
It's hard to argue with success and we should be listening to a man whose company is doing so well. If the government was half as efficient as his company we'd be in clover. Worth reading just to make you wonder why all of this isn't obvious to a lot more people. But then, a lot of people don't think, they emote - and they back NO!bama.

Fred Thompson unmasks the Obamination

He may not have run the best campaign this year, but when Fred's working from a script he's hard to beat.
Here he gives an excellent exposition of what to fear from a NO!bama presidency with a congress full of lackeys along for the ride. He delineates many of the things that the Left is dreaming of doing to this nation, and what the damage would be.
(I would like to have embedded the video but don't know how to yet. If you have info on how to do that please leave me a comment about it, thanks!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Para LTC 9mm is here!

Or rather, it's at my brother's house where it was delivered since he has the FFL. And he's out of town at a gun show. And I can't get it until Monday. Damn.

Oh well. I've waited this long and I can wait a little longer. There's ammo in boxes in the hall, two of Bill Wilson's 9mm Wilson Combat magazines for the 1911 in the safe (thanks, Bill!) and lots of time before the snows come to wring out this puppy and see if it's as good as Kerby says it is.
This is the gun that Kerby Smith of Para USA, Inc., whom I've known since I used to work as a Safety Officer at the IDPA Nationals, promised at the NRA show this spring to loan to me for T&E. I'd seen one of their little bitty LDA 9mm carry guns that Michael Bane's told you about the previous spring at the Jeff Cooper Memorial in New Mexico. I told Kerby that most of the folks who I knew were very interested in a Commander-sized 9mm for practice and training and instruction. So Kerby, being the generous soul that he is (or just plain nuts, you decide) agreed to send me one. Some delay and several emails later, which must have had Kerby pulling his hair and debating the wisdom of ever agreeing to do this, here it is. Or, here it ALMOST is! Nearly. Kinda. Sorta.
Not much longer now. Be still, my heart!

The Pack

I keep talking about dogs, and this is, after all, the Dog Boy's blog. But I haven't yet really written much about them.
Time to fix that and to introduce the 4th Street Irregulars.

(all photos by Julia Riggs 2007)

I don't just have a dog or two, I have a pack. Whether humans understand it or not, even if you have only one dog, to that dog you and he and whoever else lives with you are a pack. Knowing this is the start of understanding how to live with your dogs and to teach them how to live with you.

My oldest dog, Lucie, is a Husky mix who came to live with me 10 years ago when she was four. She'd been in Husky rescue and was being bounced out of yet another home when the kids who had her passed her on to me. She's the alpha bitch in the house and she lets everyone else know it. She has a really sweet face and is such a socialite, making sure when we go out that everyone knows that she's there, making the rounds and demanding her due of attention ("yes, I am here, you may adore me now."). At fourteen she's starting to slow down just a bit, but she hasn't lost her absolute sense of her own role as the queen of the pack, second only to me in the hierarchy.

Our oldest male is Fooss, probably a Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix. We originally spelled this in the correct German way, 'fuss', the word for 'foot' since the size of his feet was remarkable at first meeting! But Americans didn't catch on to that so we went the phonetic route. Mr. Fooss was about a year old when he wandered up out of the woods at a friend's house in the country where someone had dumped him, came up on Jeff's porch and sat in my lap. Julia picked ticks off of him, I scratched his ears and Jeff fed him bologna. He looked around with an expression of "Thank God I found you guys!" and he never left. As big and intimidating as he is, he's as sweet and considerate a dog as any alive. But he takes no guff and when a local thug-wanna-be leaned over too close to me one day, running his mouth, Fooss slid in between us and made it plain that he wasn't having any of that without having to say a thing. He's a good boy. Learning how to work with him was how we were introduced to a new way of thinking about dogs and training, kind of similar in principle to what the dog whisperer on TV does. At 100 pounds, he still likes to sit in my lap whenever possible.

Sunny, our other female, about 65 pounds and probably a Husky/shepherd mix, came to live with us in 2003 when she was 2 years old. She'd been dumped in a pound by some folks who decided that an active, intelligent and affectionate dog was too much trouble. They'd probably also smacked her around a little, but today she's the live wire in the pack. I'd just lost Sergei that winter and I was still sore at heart about it, so our friend Liz Norris, the dog trainer who taught us how to "speak dog", told me I needed her and she needed me and that's how it was going to be. Sunny is the spark plug in the pack, the one who gets things going and who raised Churchill when he came to us as a puppy, teaching him about tussling and being a big dog. She also made it plain from the start that she wanted to be alpha bitch, which led to some confrontations with Lucie and required that I actively referee them for some time until we finally sorted out their place in pack. But she's still keeping an eye on Lucie, and waiting for her chance to move up. She's smart and manipulative and never slows down, always scouting the terrain.

Churchill is our baby. Yeah, he's three years old now and 86 pounds at last check, but he joined the pack as a puppy picked up as a stray and to us he's still the baby in the bunch. I got an email from the Shamrock Foundation dog and cat rescue in Louisville saying that they were desperate for a foster home for "Big Puppy" - and that's what he was! Brought him home and fell in love and here he stayed.
He's some kind of mix of mastiff or Labrador or boxer or pit bull or some such, who knows. He has a head the size of Texas, a soft heart and more teeth than a piranha, but what he loves most in the world is to cuddle up next to you and flop his head down on your arm and go to sleep. He recently had an injury that required him to wear a plastic collar for a week, and he bore it with a stoicism and acceptance that I would never have believed had I not seen it. Loves to play, leads the pack on its runs through the field, is a serious scent hunter in the woods and has the goofiest, happiest expressions you've ever seen.

Seamus also came to us through the Shamrock Foundation rescue group in Louisville. We agreed to take him in to foster him after he'd been picked up as a stray, and like the other big boys, he never left. At 120 pounds he's the largest lad in the crew and he lets the world know he's here with his huge voice. But he's so soft to train, so eager to please and if he thinks you're ticked off with him his brow furrows, he drops his head and he just melts. He's the classic gentle giant, the perfect example of what I love in large dogs. Not sure what he's mixed with, probably Rottweiler and some kind of hound, but it could be Labrador, or it might be bloodhound, all of which would give him his substantial size. He's infatuated with chasing a ball or stick or anything thrown and can't wait to bring it to you to show it off. But he doesn't like getting into the water at all and that makes me wonder about the part that might or might not be Lab. Who cares! He's a happy boy!

Bodi joined up with the Irregulars last year after being picked up running loose. We were told that he'd been abused by his previous owner. Things like that make me crazy. He's so gentle and sweet and eager to please, so desirous of your attention and praise and affection that it's impossible to understand why anyone would abuse him. And he's so happy to be alive, each and every day, every hour of the day, so good with every other dog and with every human he meets that it's hard to believe that he ever was abused. His sweet demeanor is a testament to the resilience and basic good nature of dogs. Do what you like to them, abuse and mistreat them, but give them a chance to bounce back and be loved, given a job and a pack to belong to, and all the past and all the hurt just goes away. Bodi is certainly the embodiment of that. Seeing that he's likely a Ridgeback mix and 100 pounds of solid hard unstoppable muscle it's a damn good thing that he's so good natured, or he'd be hell on wheels!

Some day I'll tell you about our departed friends, Sergei the Noble, and Vanya the Crafty Fox who was Julia's favorite dog. We lost Sergei in 2003 after a long bout with seizures. But Vanya died unexpectedly only last year, and my heart still aches every time I look at her empty crate. I keep it closed with her toys in it, can't bring myself to let another dog sleep in it yet. Maybe soon. Maybe another dog will need a home and a K9-Krew to run with and a crate, and we'll add them to the pack. God knows we don't need another dog, but when the right one shows up, head cocked and ears squared and gives you that look, that special look, how can you say no?

One down, now where to go?

The decision as to which AR to buy has been made and in the end, as it should, quality won out over quantity.
I've always believed in getting the best quality firearms that you can afford, but in today's market there are so many choices that it's hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff, and cash is limited. The AR industry has so many manufacturers making rifles and carbines now that it's very difficult even to know who's making them, let alone what models they have and which features those models possess. How to decide what's really necessary, what's hype and what's dangerously unreliable in the long run?
The Noveske brand of ARs has many admirers among the people who really care about such subjects, so I ended up ordering the Noveske N4 Light Recce basic carbine that you see pictured here.

There were some other contenders for the best AR, notably Lewis Machine & Tool and Colt, as well as the mid-range guns by Rock River Arms, Bushmaster and our own Kentucky boys at Double Star. But I haven't forgotten that Colt's management betrayed gun owners when they stopped sales to civilians during the Clinton era, even though many in the gun owning public are willfully amnesiac on this point in their slavish allegiance to that brand and their perception of its superior qualities. And I simply don't see that the Colt, which offers virtually nothing in the way of options or modernizations in its stock form, is better than the other top brands like LMT or Sabre Defense. Of course, I did have a high dollar mark that I simply couldn't afford and that ruled out those super-fancy versions that easily exceeded $2000 in price. With even the collapsible buttstocks now ranging from $100 to over $300, it's easy to load a carbine up with options and optics and price it through the roof.
Finally, I ended up with the Noveske because it features a mid-length gas system in addition to all the primary features that I required.  I knew about the Noveske guns but not their mid-length system until I read something about it written by John Hearne, another Gunsite alumnus who also builds and sells his own reactive steel target systems.  If you shoot for play or for serious social reasons, you should investigate his DVC targets.
So what, you may ask, is a mid-length gas system and why is that to be desired?
There are presently three major types of gas systems in use in ARs (we'll avoid getting into pistols and super shortys and all that) and those are the standard rifle length as found in the M16A4 with the 20 inch barrel - then the carbine or CAR short version that began with Colt's CAR and XM177E2 guns in the Vietnam war as the barrels were shortened to make the guns more handy and compact (ranging in different models from 11.5 inches to 16 inches) with the current issue M4 most often seen in the photos of our troops now in the field having a 14.5 inch barrel plus flash suppressor (seen here with the addition of the Aimpoint red dot sight, picatinny rail fore-end and a sound suppressor) - - then on to the newer mid-length system that's configured in between those two and is most typically found in AR carbines with 16 inch barrels. I'm not sure who originated it but the first manufacturer that I saw with a mid-length gas system in production was Armalite. Now there are more, though some gun builders with whom I've consulted still don't believe that it offers any advantages and don't make them.
The major problem with all direct-gas-impingement systems such as that used in the AR is that the propellant gases are vented into the receiver in order to provide the propulsive force for the bolt and mechanism. This is what leads to all the carbon fouling inside the receiver and it was this excessive fouling in the very early M16s in use in Vietnam that caused the malfunctions that were notorious at that time.
Modern ARs are substantially less prone to stoppages from carbon due to changes and improvements in the design, as well as user awareness of the need for regular cleaning and maintenance, but the reality is that the gas still goes slamming into the receiver super-hot and super-fast in the carbine-length guns. This accelerates wear on the internals and has caused the development of a different set of parts for the M4's bolt versus what's used in the M16A4 full length rifle
The mid-length carbine addresses this by moving the gas port, where gas is tapped from the barrel into the tube that ports it to the bolt carrier key, further up the barrel toward the muzzle. This in turn slightly reduces gas velocity, temperature, the recoil impulse and the wear on the internals.
My thinking on this topic is largely influenced by the fact that at one time several years ago I had what was called the "Dissipator". It was made by Bushmaster with a 16 inch barrel (which appeared to be a cut-down LMG barrel with a REALLY heavy contour!) but outfitted with full-length handguards and a sight tower at the end of the barrel for a rifle-length sight radius. It also had a longer gas system and the combination of those elements gave it a balance and feel that I liked a lot. I made the mistake of trading it in for a mock-M4 made up for me by Jesse Starnes at Double Star in order to get a flat top, since it had a fixed carry handle. Should have kept it but didn't. The only people making anything like it now are CMMG. The other companies now producing what they call "dissipators" use the long hand guards but employ the short gas system underneath them, which defeats the purpose to my mind.
I still believe that the future of the AR platform is a piston system of the sort found in virtually every other modern military firearm, going back to the FAL and AR18, carrying on today to the Heckler & Koch G36 that Germany issues.
The US Army recently evaluated a piston system prototype, the XM8 based on the G36, but dropped it for the usual arcane political reasons. Now, however, they're being forced into re-evaluating piston system guns by reality and some members of Congress, ac
ting on end-user complaints from the field. This is in part because of the success of the H&K 416 that's been used by the Spec Ops community, and partly because the new FN SCAR rifles are piston driven, which leads some to ask why we would shouldn't go that route with all our guns in light of the known failings of the direct gas ARs?
At this time, which of the currently made and sold commercially available piston systems - POF, LWRC, CMMG, Adams Arms, et al - is the one to use, the one that will last and be available in the long run is still very much up in the air. So for now I've opted for what I believe is the best compromise. I still get a very handy carbine with a 16 inch barrel and all the good features like a flat top with rail for mounting optics and sights, combined with the mid-length gas system in a high-quality basic gun.
Later I can retro-fit a piston top end to this gun, but that's a luxury that can wait for now. It's more important to look next at which AK to get (another Romanian WASR utility type versus a semi-civilian spec Saiga SGL10 from Arsenal?) as well as which magazines to buy for both carbines, and how much ammo I can afford versus how many pistol magazines to try to work into the budget, and that's on top of continuing to pay off a certain young lady's college loans and doing maintenance on the house as winter comes creeping in. And then there's another Aimpoint with a Larue mount, and maybe even a suppressor - woohoo!
There's always something to spend the bucks on, even if you're not looking over your shoulder and worrying about the Obamanation lurching and slouching toward D.C.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mah baby LOVES me!

My birthday was last week and Julia came through in stellar style, like she always does!

I got a package from her, straight from France, that was full of chocolate bars of all kinds, some Bretagne-style cookies and other good stuff.
Have to ration it so it doesn't run out too soon, and so I don't pass out in a sugar-induced coma on the kitchen floor.
And NO, I ain't sharing!
Lessee, what're we gonna munch on next?

NO, Churchill, you can't have any!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to buy, oh my, oh my!

With the prospect of an Obamination looming large on the horizon, the consideration of what to start buying up is on my mind and those of a lot of other gun owners.
As much as I want Sarah Palin to win this election (and drag McCain along with her, sigh) I'm realistic enough to know that it might not come to pass. So I'm looking at what to put down some money on, figuring what's most likely to be embargoed if the Chosen One gets his smooth-talking ass elected.
Of course, magazines of all types are high on the list, particularly those for the nasty "assault rifles" that drive the Left into a lather. Anything over 10 rounds capacity is on the must-buy list. Ammunition can wait for now, since that's going to be harder for them to legislate against (though they'll be trying as hard as they can, those little shites) and pistols are another item that can be put on hold for the nonce.
So the NEXT big ticket item is those semi-automatic carbines that the Brady Bunch have managed to misname "assault rifles" in the minds of their journalistic allies and the unwitting public. But what to buy? An AR? An AK? How much to spend? What type to get? Is this the time to get one of those new piston-system ARs that are coming on strong to replace or supplant the traditional AR direct-gas-impingement system, or is it better just to get a quality AR and hope to get the piston top end at a later date?
Hard to decide. The best ARs are judged by most to be the Colt, the Lewis Machine & Tool, the Noveske or the Sabre Defense, among others. Other brands are also front runners, but controversy over what constitutes "milspec" makes selection problematic. Do you get the $2200 LMT or three of the DoubleStar carbines at Centerfire Systems, and upgrade the top ends at a later date? Are the lowers up to snuff? Seems most of the controversy revolves around the uppers and the bolt groups, so that's the part that could be purchased later on. It's also the part that's free of transfer restrictions for now, since the lower receiver is the serially numbered and restricted component. I almost hate to mention it, since that could change if some Obamanite gets wise and manages to get that legislated away from us as well.
It's a quandary, that's for sure, and while I continue to pull for Palin the latent survivalist in me says "GET THAT GEAR NOW!!!" in tones too strident to ignore!