Monday, December 29, 2008

On Bullpup Triggers.

One of the common complaints about the bullpup-configuration rifle is the lousy trigger that almost always results from the long linkage between trigger and sear.

Why not make it a single set trigger? Add a sprung hammer or striker above the trigger. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer/striker strikes the trigger linkage, with force independent of trigger pull weight, and lets off the sear. Reset the second hammer/striker on recoil somehow.

You add 3+ parts to the overall package (depending on configuration of parent rifle), but the trigger is much more configurable for the end user. There would be a tiny amount added to lock time, but hardly enough to affect accuracy for 99% of shooters.

I realize the bullpup is considered sub-optimal by many, but since so many militaries out there issuing AUGs, L85s, Tavors, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there already tried it.

On Dissapointment.

If you are offered a spectrum of offerings from Baltika Brewery, get the bottles you can't see through without a flashlight.

The "Classic Beer" and "Export Lager" offerings would not be out of place if re-labeled as a Vietnamese offering.

Luckily, I had a proper goddamned lager tonight with dinner, and boy did it taste good. Lighter beer's supposed to have a satisfying, sparkling note on the end, y'know? I live in the first world, and we have indoor plumbing. I can get enough watery finish to irrigate my own damn wheat, barley, and hops. (And personal Oxford comma supply.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Baltika Dark Lager.

Between 7.62x25 and Baltika beer, I'm developing something of a soft spot for Russia. They don't seem to be big on subtlety, and sometimes green tea and airguns just doesn't cut it.

There's about eight different products by them at ¡BevMo!, and so far they're 2 for 2. I've already waxed poetic about their Stout. The number six dark lager is very dark indeed, with a much richer color than, say, Newcastle. In the grand scheme of lagers, this is about as heavy and malty as they get, while retaining the sparkling hoppiness one expects of lager.

It is, in summary, awesome.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work.

So I was doing That Which I Get Paid For today, and I was interrupted from my usual MO (run around, do stuff, remember one of the fifteen other things which need doing, put down stuff half-done, repeat) by a would-be customer. She had wandered right past the line, which is usually acceptable if they're making an inquiry rather than a purchase. As always, I inquired as to her needs, and she immediately asked to be served by someone else. (The thought of actually queuing with the other would-be customers never seemed to cross her mind.) Fortunately, Cheerful Shift Lead took the baton, and would-be customer calmly explained that:

1. The person that enthusiastically offers help is on Their payroll;
2. She has suffered food poisoning in the past;
3. Person on Their payroll is responsible for said food poisoning.

A word of warning to those interested in being a covert tool of the shadow government: the pay sucks (why else would I be working retail?) but you get your Gray Death vaccinations on time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Blunt Object.

I just discovered the joys of said blog.

I realize this is archive material, but it's priceless.

“Came to be shot”. That’s an interesting turn of phrase — it doesn’t even admit the possibility of a shooter’s existence. This language suggests that shootings have nothing to do with personal conflict; one can just come to be shot out of no-where. Hell, one needn’t even be shot — one might discover later on that one has come to be shot at some unspecified time in the past.

Dark Beer Roundup.

So an old chum of mine was bugging off to Japan for a year, and apparently they're not too keen on dark beer, what with the triumvirate of Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi. They're all shiny as pilsners go, but other than Asahi's unicorn-horn lager Stout, they're about as common as legally owned handguns, so we hit up BevMo! for some lovin', and came back with:

Baltika - based in Leningrad, the employees cut a deal with Carlsberg after they had to change their company letterhead. As part of the Danish Beer Borg, they fill the "ass-kicking Imperial Stout" niche in their lineup. It's dry as fuck, and by dry I mean actual overtones of ethyl, like one would get from the hard stuff. As stouts go, it's not well-behaved, but damn if it isn't rich, malty, and delicious.

Zywiec Porter - as discussed previously. I now realize it falls firmly in the Imperial realm of Stout.

Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter - we picked it because it had a cool, old-school label. I now realize that the best way to pick beers is by how cool and old-school the label looks. It's creamy, buttery, and rolls right off the tongue. Lots of body, but a clean finish. Not a hint of alcohol or hops, making it a good beer for people who don't like beer.

Guinness - The Irish have a talent for importing bulk Nigerian mediocrity, cooking it into wort, letting it ferment in kettles, and then storing it large casks before bottling it and shipping it across the globe. I suppose this'd explain all those times in college where I asked for beer, nay pilsner explicity, during an alcohol run (hey, I was 19 at the time) and the only thing that ever came back was Guinness. Guinness and enough Bailey's to stun a small horse. Sometimes you have to do it yourself if you want it done right...

On Gears of War.

Well, indirectly.

Gun Nuttery.

You might be a gun nut if...

You hear the line "They're hollowpoints, Walter, but they're not Hydra-shok hollowpoints," and think "Wow, this must be from the 80s."

You buy footwear from Midway.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Slaying Pins.

Today was the first big downpour of the year, and it was predictably awesome. Rain, and the cold, gray, overcast days that come with it, invigorating. (There are varying schools of thought on this, shockingly.)

One side-effect was the de facto cancellation of the Saturday night steel shoot. Last year, all four of us crazy people blasted away merrily in similar conditions, and it was buckets of fun, even if the ground in front of the ammo table was a mudpit. This year, the only attendance was Fearless Organizer, another regular, and YT. We blasted suspended pins in the covered 50-yard range, shot bull about sighting systems (fiber is useless except in sunlight, or if someone is kind enough to shine a flashlight on your gun while you're shooting), and generally had fun.


- If I ever get mugged by a gang of pins at fifteen yards, those suckaz are going down hard.

- Bowling pins have a limited lifespan as targets. When multilated sufficiently, they will disgorge a shower of splintery entrails, leaving an empty, shredded resin casing. It's a pretty cool effect to watch, especially if you like George Romero movies. Time to find some new pins, though...

- Shooting suspended pins is easier than it sounds at 50 yards, if you have your fundementals down. The first magazine was great, but as fatigue and The Flinch set in, the shots vs. hits ratios skewed heavily against the desired results. Which is to say I missed a hell of a lot.

- Interestingly, the 155gr reloads I shoot (5.7gr Titegroup, about 1100 FPS) are flat-shooting enough that they seem to hit POA at that extended range.

It was a rare and pleasurable set of circumstances. Shooting a handgun encompasses a huge range of activities, and sampling new ones is always fun. Furthermore, setting a high goal (pins at 50 yards) and just touching it is a powerful drug. It says, essentially: my gear is good, I have the potential, I know what needs to be done; do it. The challenge level was spot on - hard enough to make succeeding an achievement, but not impossible. It's also a huge confidence booster. On the other hand, I'm going to have to pow-wow pretty heavily with messrs. Ball and Dummy.

Those moments are why I enjoy shooting - I refer to the act of chucking projectiles with a firearm, not the care, feeding, and study of the firearms themselves. While making those chunks of metal go where they're supposed to is theoretically straightforward, the refinement is never-ending. With so many variables, there are thousands of small goals which one can set and overcome - shoot group this big, master this trigger pull, hit this target at this range, shoot this fast, control recoil, and so on - and overcoming each of those goals is incentive to keep going.

On Attack Ads.

Oh so wrong. But oh so right.

H/t to Atomic Nerds.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quote of the Day: Boomstick Edition.

Don Gwinn, over at Tam's...

"Riot gun. I don't even care what the question is.

Best gun for zombies?

How can I open this jar of jelly?

Do these pants make me look fat?

Is a 529 plan really the best way to save for college?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On The Mare's Leg.

So it turns out that the 1958 TV Series "Wanted: Dead or Alive" was not only a launchpad for Steve McQueen; it's actually very watchable.

The signature of the show is the Mare's Leg, a chopped Winchester 1892 rifle in .44-40. Oh, it's not particularly practical by any means - with 6 rounds on tap from a 12" barrel, you may as well just pack a Buntline-length SAA - it'll be faster shooting to boot. Load speed might be a bit faster, because the action ejects the empties, but it's still loaded a shot at a time into a gate.

But it's so damned cool. When someone with natural presence like McQueen swaggers on the shot with a gun that big on his hip, everyone pays attention. Plus, it's the same kind of appeal the Lupara has, and to a lesser extent the very late 1800s/early 1900s obsession with shoulder-stocked pistols - making a gun do something it wasn't originally intended to.

If one wanted to make a Mare's Leg that did something a 12" SAA couldn't, perhaps basing one off a Model 94 (in .30-30) would give it a bit of a boost, and make it a wrist-breaker. I shudder to think what shooting a Marlin 1895-based one would be like...apparently the 18" .45-70s sting bad enough.

The Mare's Leg is also legal conundrum, but that's another rant...

On Distilled Awesomeness.

So over yonder at PDB's place, I discover a movie I might actually drop $10.50 on...

Besides featuring a very grizzled Clint with a Garand, the preview touches on so many fundemental human experiences - isolation, confronting one's demons, racism, xenophobia, manly virile 70's gas-guzzling muscle-wagens vs. ghetto-tastic rice-burning douchemobiles...

Though I have a feeling it's not going to end like The Fast and the Furious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local IPA Throwdown.

After drinking plenty of Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, it occurred to me that there might be merit to the whole India Pale Ale concept. And with that I trolled about the local Alcohol Bazaar and selected the first three things I saw with "IPA" on the label. Results?

Lagunitas IPA
Surprisingly subdued for an IPA. I expect a kick in the jaw, but this is more "Pale Ale" with fewer Indians added than I expected. It's crisp, tasty, and generally malty and delicious; however, it's not quite what I'm looking for...

Lagunitas Maximus IPA
Sometimes just adding hops can go awry. It's big and full-bodied, but has an unfortunate vegetal quality. This stuff tastes like a rejected batch of SNPA-Anniversary - same flavors, wrong amounts. If they adjusted the hop mix, it might work better.

Rubicon IPA
Ok, this is what we're going for. This stuff is intensely bitter, which I find a good complement to my personality, but still crisp and malty, with a full body. It's not what I'd call a traditional IPA taste per se, but a very interesting interpretation.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On Radeberger Pils, Take Two.

It is awesome. Like "Top 5 Pilsners" awesome.

Yes, folks, tasting beers with a congested nasal cavity is a waste of perfectly good beer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Wrong.

Something just exude wrongness. Not to be confused with evil. No, wrongness results from a fevered imagination with too much free time. Witness.

Of course, wrongness usually needs a chaser.

H/t to Blissful Entropy. Now I'm randomly saying "oh no you di'int!" at work. Baah.

On Davis-Monthan AFB.

Absolutely fascinating link over at Sevesteen's place - the Google Maps satellite image of Davis-Monthan AFB, AKA the Boneyard. Interesting mix of planes there.

What I find fascinating is that it's not just retired types - it looks like there's retired airframes of current-run aircraft, such at the C-5 Galaxy, the B1, lots of F/A-18s, and a line of A-10s (kinda want to cry seeing that). There are plenty of F-5s, interestingly enough, what appear to be some surviving A4s.

Everything's got to die sometime, and aircraft are no exception. Airframes tire out, or are replaced, or whatever, but it's still affecting to see old warbirds like the BUFF or the Tomcat being neatly chopped up - like pulling the wings of a pinned butterfly.

Home on the Range mentioned this a while back, actually.

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Training.

So I'm looking to get some competent instruction, and on the horizon are two options in my area:

1. Yavapai Academy Stage 2. (Peligro! PDF!) It's taught by Louis Awerbuck, who needs no introduction, and probably seals the deal right there. 2 days on a weekend, $500, 500 rounds.

2. Tactical Response Fighting Pistol. Two dates to choose from, which is nice. I've heard good things about their program. 2 days on a weekend. $400, the savings of which will be eaten up by the doubled round count.

As for personal training aids...

I ordered "Shooting Missology" and some Action Trainer dummy rounds from Tactical Response Gear. The Action Trainers seem to be scads better in terms of durability than the classic A-ZOOM snap caps. While they're just peachy for protecting the firing pin, the A-ZOOM rims fall to pieces rather quickly, and at $3 a hit, that hurts. The Action Trainers are nickel-plated Starline brass and a polymer insert that fills the entire case - no set-back as with home-made dummies. So far, they show no wear from plenty of malfunction clearance practice, except for a big dent in one from accidentally inducing a simulated stovepipe. Oops. There's no firing pin contact whatsoever (in fact, there's a big dimple built in so as to avoid it), so value as a dead cap is nil. Plus, shiny nickel + fluorescent insert = very visible rounds, which are easy to find after being ejected hither and yon in dim light.

Shooting Missology is pretty solid stuff. Biggest takeaway? Repeating "front sight" as a mantra whilst taking the shot. This makes every shot a surprise, since you're not focusing (and panicking about) your trigger pull, which is the single biggest shooting problem out there. Works so far in dry-fire - improved my weak hand double pull noticeably. Other fun stuff includes 'negative targets' (cut a hole, shoot through hole - no holes = good shooting) for fixing 'bullet hole fixation' (where one looks at their target obsessively after each shot). An interesting demonstration was the human tendency to push forward in anticipation of recoil - such that the gun lunges forward on a ball-and-dummy drill.

Also - dry-fire potentially increases a flinch, because the shooter is mentally aware that dry-fire is not real - as they should be, for safety reasons. The only way to cure a flinch is ball-and-dummy work. Good thing I have proper dummy rounds...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Google Reader.

A grand scheme by which the denizens of the Inter Nets pour forth a mighty torrent of words and Google sluices off but a fraction for your enjoyment; but, nay, this mere sliver is of itself a deluge, and in this grand flow your free time atomizes and is dashed into oblivion.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On Scary Barrel Texturing.

So all the cool kids at the Saturday night shindig are shooting Montana Gold Bullets, which to my eyes had the advantage of being the same price of the bulk Raniers that dissappeared off Midway right at the time my last box was running short. $293 for 3000 155gr slugs, including shipping? Yes please. These are FMJs, as opposed to plated totally-encapsulated slugs, with an exposed base. They also have what seems to be Montana Gold's signature brass-colored jackets.

I'm not fingering Montana Gold in particular, but my SIG P226 barrel was mirror-like, with infinitesimal lines forming parallel to the rifling, until I popped 291 of the bastards towards the rack o' despair, took the gun down three days later, and noticed what looked, and my heart skipped a few beats here, like lines of rust forming. What the hell? I don't carry it, I don't store it anywhere near moisture, I haven't shot it in the rain for nine months...surely it's not corrosion that's magically manifested its eldritch visage in my barrel?

I soaked in Tetra for 30 minutes and scrubbed vigorously with a nylon bore brush. Stuff came up, so I repeated that process three times. There's still brass-colored streaks running along the rifling, entirely unchanged. The texturing is limited to strips flanking the rifling lands, and the center of the grooves is still mirror fresh. The problem seems to manifest primarily at the bore; everything's still blinding immediately forward of the chamber.

The only variable that's changed is the bullets, and frankly I'm a bit miffed.

On Titegroup.

It works. It's cheap (per pound), economical (per charge), and consistent enough for popping steel plates.

Downsides: a bit grimy (I might do well to amp the load a bit). It sticks to the inside of the powder measure (standard RCBS), so loading anything that's *not* titegroup is somewhat problematic. Nothing else had this problem - AA7, Trail Boss, Bullseye, stick. Peculiar, and a bitch when I want to load up some .455. Doubtless this would become even more critical if I decided to start loading 7.62x54r...

On Sins of a Solar Empire (abridged)

It's fucking amazing. Think Masters of Orion meets Supreme Commander with liberal doses of Homeworld and Escape Velocity. With the finest micromanagement-management I've ever seen.

Much more thorough analysis one of these days (saying 'later' seems, from analyis of blog archives, a great way to forget to ever follow through)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

40-round Impression: Walther P99

So I was at the Saturday night shoot, and I inquired about a regular's P99. His response: "wanna shoot it?" One of my rules to live by is to never pass up the opportunity to shoot new guns and ammo. And so...

The Occam's Razor crowd (Glocks and/or 1911s) will doubtless go into conniptions when they find out that the P99, as configured, has *three* trigger pulls. That's right. Not content with a standard DA/SA configuration, the good folks at Walther have given in to the German tendency to over-engineer everything, and have given the shooter DA, pre-cocked DA, and SA. How's it run?

The DA is, well, a DA - long and heavy. The SA isn't horrible - not excessive amounts of movement, and a break of 4 pounds or so. The pre-cocked DA is really the SA with a take-up the length of the DA stroke, so it still breaks right around 4 pounds. When you shoot it in this mode, the first shot is SA with the long take-up, and each successive shot resets at a standard SA position; when you remove your finger from the trigger it returns to the full DA sweep position, so the first shot of a new string is the long, 'safer' pull. Other than the take-up, it's the same pull, so you don't *really* need to learn two triggers. Judging from the position of the decocking lever (out of the reach of a standard grip, right in front of the rear sight), the full-strength DA is not the intended mode of carry, but available for the litigiously minded, or as a second-strike capability on a reluctant primer. The utility of that feature is questionable, but it's nice to have the option.

How's it shoot? In 9mm (light loads, admittedly), the gun is child's play to run double-taps with. Ergos are impressive, or at least they felt good in my hands. The German-style mag release is fucking bizarre. Give me a button, please.

I'm quite impressed. I usually dismiss the P99 as another space-age polymer-frame wunderpistol, but it's a very well engineered space-age polymer-frame wunderpistol.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Random Thoughts.

Apparently, the huge cloud of smoke generated by the discharge of cast lead bullets is actually the wax lubricant burning off. I knew all those facts, but never put 'em together...also, 500,000 lead rounds apparently doesn't come close to wearing out a 1911 barrel, while 50,000 jacketed ones will shoot it out. Good to know.

Double-taps are hard. More precisely, double-taps work a lot better when you actually have a sight picture for both shots, and your grip is neutral such that the gun returns from recoil to the place whence it came, instead of seven o'clock low. I saw the sights there, so it wasn't a jerk/flinch (entirely), so methinks I'm overcompensating for something at speed. Runs OK slower, the same, slower, but faster. Or something.

The original Ghost in the Shell movie is still amazing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Cor-Bon DPX and Setback.

Or, it doesn't.

I stopped measuring after chambering the same round five times. The first time, the OAL dropped from 1.118" to 1.115", and the next four times it stayed there. Interesting.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Affligem Dubbel.

Alright, I'm nominating the Belgians for beer sainthood.

This shit rocks. It's Duvel, but cleaner more mellow. Rich and balanced, but with a sourness, like biting into a green apple. Plus, being bottle-conditioned, the last dude to hit up the bottle gets a slug of yeast, for a nutty, dry finish. Yes, this'll do nicely.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

On Radeberger Pilsner.

And for something completely different...

It's pale, it's crystal clear, it was made by someone who may have read about hops once in a trade journal...yes, it's Pilsner!

Seriously, I love this stuff, when it's done right. Light, crisp, the slightest hint of's a great home-from-work beer, or a mowing-the-lawn beer. Brisk and enlivening, like first flush Darjeeling.

Radeberger is definitely light, with a lingering crispness, but a clean finish. I'm going to reserve final judgement until I try it whilst not congested.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Zywiec Porter.

No, I don't have the foggiest idea how to pronounce it. I do, however, know a couple of things:

1. This stuff is opaque. It's the epitome of 'dark beer.'
2. It's a fantastic porter, with a rich, malty, bittersweet body, and an understated, pleasing hoppy finish. Very full-flavored, with a hint of licorice.
3. The fact that it's 9.5% ABV explains my sudden lack of fine motor control.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On Firearms Drills.

The MEU(SOC) pistol course (warning: PDF) is an awesome all-around set of skills to practice. (No carbine? subtract 2 seconds or so). I think it's safe to assume, however, that the carbine in question is not supposed to be a Mosin-Nagant M38.

On Original Equipment.

I'm no car nut, but I'm pretty sure that high-intensity xenon headlamps are not standard on early 70's Beetles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky.

Ways to make Eric happy:
1. Make a game with brilliant art direction and is breathtakingly beautiful even at low detail.
2. Improve combat balance, making all weapons fit into a 'niche' rather than a 'ladder' of progressively better guns.
3. Give the player lots to do right out of the gate, like participating in a ground war between two rival factions, and reward the player if they act decisively, striking the enemy hard and fast and clearing the way for the good guys.
4. Show the player that they're accomplishing something by showing faction strength.

Ways to make Eric unhappy:
1. Insert an unavoidable crash bug three levels and five real hours into the game.
2. Provide a patch to fix a bunch of stuff immediately after release.
3. ...that invalidates your save games, wasting five hours.

So far, it's a bit more 'gamey' than the original, but Clear Sky is a lot more polished, with less pointless walking between actions, more clearly defined objectives, and cool touches like the equipment upgrade system. (Branching tech trees to tweak a weapon to the player's specs is always good.) But that crash bug (right at the beginning of The Garbage) is just inexcusable. Merely walking into a new area should not kill a game. Period. Which is why I'm withholding "play this now" from the tag list until I confirm that particular gremlin has been banished.

On the Fall of the Wall.

Guns Magazine, December 1956. There's some other gems in the ads there, like some PTRDs that apparently dodged the 'destructive device' bit from the NFA.

"Their sale in no way aids any iron curtain country." Those were the days...

(If the Internet doesn't lie, that's $129 for the rifle, and $23.60 for a box of JSPs. Ammo was just as expensive back then, apparently.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Firefly and Guns.

One of the umpteen awesome things about Firefly is the selection of firearms. Because the aesthetic is a melange of everything from Old West and British Colonial up to Starship Troopers, just about anything looks right. It must be a great excuse to dust off those old pieces that have been lying unloved in the darkest corners of some gun-rental house's vault.

PRODUCTION DESIGNER: "Hey, guys, got anything kinda...different? We're arming some ship-jacker/chop-shop types."
GUN WRANGLER: "How's about a Webley Mk.6, a Browning Hi-Power Mk.2, and a Vigneron M2?"
PD: "Sounds good."

Sunday, September 14, 2008


So around these parts one of the staple beers is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It's notable for an almost creamy cascade hoppiness that's pretty damned tasty. Sierra Nevada released an Anniversary brew that is essentially the same, but with a shit-ton more hops. Which figures, seeing as it's described as an "American-style IPA."

And, yes, it's awesome.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Salvo Fire.

So it occurred to me as I was thinking about the G11 project one day that the 'salvo' approach to improved hit probability may be somewhat flawed. Obviously, it was sound enough for H&K to develop a weapon system to maturity, so I must be missing something, and I'm going to ignore the "just learn to shoot" argument for a moment, because that's a separate ramble.

For those not familiar, here's the abstract: use caseless ammunition to remove the extraction/ejection portion of the firing cycle and speed up the firing rate to 2000+ RPM, fast enough that the gun can fire three rounds before the shooter feels the recoil; in effect, the gun throws three rounds at the same place and kicks - the shooter would perceive it as a semi-auto. The problem is that all three rounds are going the same place, and they're not far apart; there's a very slight time lag between round 1 and round 3, but at 3000+ feet per second, not much at all (~.03 of a second x 3000 feet/second = ~90 feet between rounds, with a total salvo impact time of .09 of a second). The accuracy of the barrel determines the dispersion; a little is good, because if hit probability is to increase we want to have a larger 'beaten area,' but an inaccurate barrel is going to cause problems when attempting to shoot precisely instead of 'taking an average.' Say the barrel shoots 2 MOA; that's a 2-inch diameter beaten zone. Not much of an improvement on a single round. With .09 seconds between the first and last impacts, there wouldn't be much of an advantage against moving targets. I'm reminded of a 'spread of torpedoes,' a tactic whereby a submarine fires three torpedoes dispersed at a target ship; if the ship continues abreast to the submarine, two hits are guaranteed, and the dispersed torpedoes diminishes the effectiveness of evasive maneuvers. On a land battlefield, not much is going to move fast enough for .09 of a second to matter, so it would essentially be three hits simultaneously. Compare to an M16A2's three-round burst: you have a quarter-second between the first and last round, and those three are going to disperse more in close quarters, giving a larger, though less regular, beaten zone. The irregularity is the tricky bit; automatic small arms take some skill to use to their full efficiency.

So we have three rounds essentially going in the same hole, give or take a few centimeters at range. There would be an improvement in terminal effects - close hits break through body armor, which was the stated objective of the AN-94 Abakan's 2-round burst at 2000 RPM - but if that were the case, why not just use a bigger, traditional round and save the complication? Furthermore, while there is an option of 'suppressive' traditional automatic fire at 480 RPM vs the 3-round 'salvo' for improved terminal effects, the stated goal is improved hit probability.

Project SALVO, the US Army's 1960s vintage project with similar goals, produced a modicum of experimental cartridges, with duplex slugs and flechette rounds the main avenues explored. And this here round seems to present the most logical approach to improved hit probability from a non-human engineering (sights, ergonomics) perspective.

The cool feature of that round (6.35x53mm) is that the duplex load has a symmetrical first round and an asymmetrical base to the second round - it's slanted slightly, producing a first hit that strikes the point of aim and a second hit that lands somewhere nearby. In automatic fire, the rounds would be randomly oriented, so as to produce a pattern around the impact point over time. Since it's a traditional cartridge, a single load, with optimized ballistics, can be used for precision work. With a larger cartridge to push the heavier duplex load, the simplex target loads could be powerful enough for single-shot interdiction at extended ranges. Say a cartridge size a bit larger than 6.8 SPC - 115gr at 2650 fps for that cartridge; bump it up a bit, with two duplex rounds of 5.56 size (50-60 grains, so 100-120 total), at 5.56 velocities to ensure terminal fragmentation. I'm no ballistician, but the first round could be optimized for stability while the second is given a calibrated dispersion.

If that were scaled up to triplex or more, there would be a very significant improvement in hit probability at battlefield ranges; say, give it 3-8 MOA worth of wobble (in the games biz, there'd be a note scribbled in here: playtest this!). Package the lead in a weak jacket and throw it fast enough to fragment, a la M193 ball ammo, and it'd do well, at least in close quarters. Since your rate of fire is effectively doubled, the cyclic rate of the firearm can be backed off so as to make very controllable; since it doesn't need to run at warp speeds, something like the constant-recoil system used by the Ultimax 100 SAW or the AA-12 automatic shotgun would result in very dense saturation for a rifleman. Such firepower could be devastating in close quarters, where the shooter can turn his rifle into a submachine gun with merely a magazine swap. Build the system in a bullpup format and you have a winner.

The problem comes in when one needs to account for every projectile fired; this would definitely be a military expedient, not a civilian law enforcement one. It would only be legit for a free fire zone, unless the users policed simplex and multiplex rounds carefully. Also, this would improve the lowest common denominator at the disbenefit of the skilled operator; for a disciplined and experienced operator of automatic weapons, the extra dispersion could be an unnecessary distraction. I suppose the cyclic rate could be boosted and the system used with simplex rounds only in this instance.

I'm tired, so there's probably a hole in the reasoning. But effectively it's a 'shotgun' approach scaled to 'assault rifle' size.

On Gripping a Pistol.

Or, Sailor Curt wins the Inter Nets. I've read about and watched videos about this grip, and none of it actually stuck until that post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On Mojo.

When I first started shooting, back when I spent my gun money on guns and not ammo to shoot said guns, I picked up a Mosin-Nagant M38 Carbine at Big 5. Seeing as I lacked a rifle, and the price point on that particular arm was $80 (this rotating between the MN91/30, M38, and M44 rifles; list price being an appalling $179), there was no reason not to. This was all well and good until I got it to the range.

I took my dad that day, and neither of us could get the damn thing to print on the paper. My dad is a pretty good shot (despite the fact that he hadn't shot anything since he left the army in the mid-70s, he printed a 5" group with my CZ52 at 25 meters), so I gathered something was amiss with the rifle. In retrospect, there were three factors that contributed to this mess:

1. Loose stock screws
2. Crappy Hungarian surplus purchased mainly for its price
3. Retrograde sights

Problems 1 and 2 were simple enough to fix; Winchester and HotShot (Prvi Partisan) JSP worked better, but still not 'groups' so much as 'patterns.' The bore was not anywhere near shiny, but there was still conspicuous rifling, and from what I gathered elsewhere on the Inter Nets, a bit of pitting wouldn't completely trash accuracy. That leaves #3, or probable operator error (with this being my *only* rifle experience, I suppose a big boomer like this would encourage the development of a flinch). Meanwhile, I shot a lot of pistol ammo and forgot about rifle shooting after about three attempts. After nearly two years, I decided to give it another whirl, preferably with the gun I already had.

Luckily enough, there was a solution to problem 3, courtesy of Mojo Sighting Systems. Mojo offers drop-in peep sights for a plethora of milsurp rifles - Mausers, K31s, SMLEs, and Nagants, as well as the AK series and the SKS. While one can get the rear aperture sight only, their signature sight is the SnapSight, an 'aperture within aperture.' There's no front sight post to block your target, and I'd imagine a ring is naturally easier to focus on (this theory being based on my experience with enhanced visibility pistol sights). Conspicuously, the price of the sight set (front/rear apertures) is slightly more than the baseline C&R price of a new if the experiment didn't work I could keep the sights, chuck the rifle, and buy a new one.

A nondescript manila envelope arrived about five days after wiring the good folks at Mojo the appropriate scratch. Inside were the sights (wrapped), an installation sheet, front and back, and an allen wrench for the windage and fine elevation adjustment.

The rear sight is a precision engineered and manufactured chunk of steel, finely crafted and asembled. This makes it look completely wrong on the Mosin-Nagant; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was illegal in 17 states and damned my soul to eternal torment. Performance trumps appearance in this case, though, so...

The rear aperture is screw-adjustable for windage. The large wheel on the sight body is click-adjustable, with a fine adjustment in the center, which can also be adjusted with an allen wrench.

Installing the rear sight sounds easier than it ended up being. The instructions merely said to knock out the pin (a 1/8" punch worked fine), remove old sight, press in new sight, and replace pin. Apparently the rear sight is kept in check by one hell of a leaf spring, and even my double-stack-magazine-strengthened thumbs couldn't press the new sight down far enough to knock the retaining pin back in. Eventually, it took two people and a C-clamp. The good news is that it's not going to come out on its own.

I neglected to install the front sight, partially because it would remove the front sight hood (which is even more wrong looking), partially because I wanted to see if the aperture-post set-up worked, and partially because the task required a sight-base file and lots of patience, neither of which I had handy at the time. I smell a follow-up article somewhere in the future.

So it was off to the range. With a freshly-opened tin of the well-regarded Polish silver-tip 147gr light ball ammo, I decided to see if this rifle could indeed shoot.

I'm still pretty sure that Col. Townsend Whelen wouldn't find the M38 interesting, but the results were promising. Namely, it actually shot groups! Not small groups (try 4" at 50 yards and 7" at 100 yards), but that's doubtless my own doing as much as the rifle. The point is, I actually have a baseline to work from now, as opposed to nice big shotgun patterns of 30-caliber holes, courtesy of my wildly broken computer eyes and that wee little rear notch sight. Peep sights rock - you see twice as much target in the picture, which helps immensely.

The 100-yard target was a bucket of suck to shoot, though, if only because this was the first time I'd shot at that range, and the front post covered a good third of the paper, so to get it lined up I had to focus on target, focus on front sight, get picture, focus back on target to confirm alignment, re-focus on front sight and get picture again, and shoot. I was expecting a pattern, and I got a group, so yaay for that, but I can see where the advantage would come with the front aperture. Time to go digging for a file.

Thusly, I left the range with a shoulder made out of bruise and a big grin on my face. Yes, this'll do...though if the balloon goes up, I suspect I may be shunted to the kitchen rather than the front lines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On Peppercorns.

Not all pepper is created equal.

I've never been a ground pepper person, really; it didn't add much flavor, and if I wanted something spicy there was usually a bottle or seven of hot sauce handy. Even fresh-ground Tellicherry pepper didn't do the trick for me.

However, I'm a new believer, courtesy of Penzey's Sarawak Black.

Bright, fruity, intensely spicy; it's actually flavorful, not just...peppery. Goes well with just about everything. Who'da thunk?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wait a minute...

I did a double-take at Big5 today while stocking up on BulkFed (tm) .22. On the rack was a Serbian SKS with what sure as hell looked like a grenade launcher. Google-fu confirms it's merely a muzzle brake, but...

I really want a semi-auto fighting arm, but at four C-bills, that one's probably not following me home.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Tea.

Or Why Orwell Was Right (Mostly)

Many people (Anyone who's browsed Volk Studio, for starters...) have heard of George Orwell's classic essay, A Nice Cup of Tea. There's a good chance those who have sought that piece out are the choir to which I am preaching. Sixty-two years later, his wisdom is still sound. Nonetheless, I share my method with the hope that someone out there can experience a proper cup of tea.

Americans, by and large, drink coffee first and tea second. I don't mean this as a value judgement, certainly, but it means that good tea is harder to find. Certainly not impossible, though. The internet has many good sources. The brick-and-mortar establishments I most commonly patronize are Peet's and Imperial Tea Court. The former is good for everyday and premium teas; the latter is definitely high-end, ranging from $2/oz for everyday greens up to investment wheels of Pu-Erhs that can hit $45/oz or more. (Apparently, the Chinese treat Pu-Erh blocks like fine wines, with multi-year vintages going for exponentially increasing prices.) Since I still have to buy my own ammo and the former gives me an employee discount, guess where I do the balance of my tea shopping...

Teas fall loosely into a handful of categories, based on their level of oxidation - in ascending order, white/green, oolong, and black/pu-erh. Natural tea leaves are green; for black and oolong teas, the leaf is bruised or torn to bring the natural enzymes to the surface, where they interact with the air. Oolongs vary in level of oxidation, from almost green to almost black. Green teas are not oxidized, but they are processed; the Japanese use a steaming process, while the Chinese use several methods, such as pan-searing for Dragonwells. White tea is a very delicate variety, barely processed. Pu-erh is the polar opposite, a black tea that is pressed into blocks and left to ferment.

Picking a tea is a process that is a great deal of fun on its own, and would require its own volume to properly address. But in brief, for a good, stout, edifying cup, I recommend a solid black tea. Peet's Pride of the Port is damned near perfect as a breakfast-style tea - rich, malty, slightly floral, and with the slightest sparkling astringency. Their Darjeelings are brighter, good afternoon teas, while the Assams are richer and maltier. Indian is definitely the way to go. China blacks are sipping teas, to be sampled carefully, like fine wines. They aren't rocket fuel.

One must have the proper equipment. A good kettle is paramount. Water needs to be brought to a boil or slightly off boil efficiently, the user needs to know unequivocally when that happens, and the design should engender easy pouring. Furthermore, the kettle should only be used for water, for obvious reasons. Brewing and serving vessels should be made of ceramic or glass. These provide good insulation while not retaining flavors. Metal is a weak substitute, even as a drinking vessel; while I'll use a stainless travel mug as required, it doesn't compare to a good teacup. Also needed are a kitchen strainer and a timer. The timer needs to be precise to the minute. If you're really hurting for timing apparatus, I suppose you could use your Pocket Pro and set the par time for five minutes...

Good tea needs good fresh water. Water needs to be oxygenated (i.e. not flat). This seems minor, but makes a surprising difference in the final quality. I am lucky enough to live in a place with good tap water. Running the tap briefly purges any flat water standing in the plumbing. Any water that has been heated before, such as leftover water in the kettle, is definitely flat and should be tossed. I have no experience with purification systems such as Brita or using bottled water. They would doubtless be a distinct improvement on foul-tasting tap water, where experienced.

Black teas and pu-erhs need a full, rolling boil for maximum extraction. Greens, and especially whites, are a great deal more delicate, and will actually burn with boiling water, dulling the subtler flavors. Greens usually work best at 180 degrees, and whites down around 150-160.

There are a number of methods for steeping loose leaves. The most widespread, especially in the commonwealth countries, seems to be the 'leaves in the pot' method, whereby the tea is steeped directly in the serving vessel, and strained when it is poured to the teacup. It's not my favorite, simply because I prefer a bit more precision with regards to steep time, but it does the job, especially with stout blacks. A traditional method favored by the Chinese is the Gaiwan, which is a cup with a fitted lid. The tea steeps in the cup, and the user drinks straight from it, using the lid as a strainer. For sampling smaller quantities, especially of more delicate teas, the Gaiwan does good work. Commonly encountered are various 'spoons,' 'tea-balls,' and other devices made of slotted metal or mesh and designed to be dipped in the water. These are sub-optimal, because they are far too cramped for good blooming.

Tea needs room to move around when it is steeping. In fact, one indication of proper water temperature is that the tea is moving around in the steeping vessel. Without room, the resulting brew is going to be much less complex. Teabags produce functional but hardly edifying liquor for this very reason; they are by nature far too cramped. (Some manufacturers have produced high-end teabags that seek to rectify this problem.) When browsing tea-making apparatus, keep this in mind. If it has a removable basket or filter, does it restrict the tea to a small percentage of the volume of the vessel, or does it use the full space? There are plenty of devices in both categories.

I learned from a young age to skip the fancy devices and just use a measuring cup. Pyrex beats plastic every time. Glass doesn't retain flavors, and it keeps the heat in. The tea will not infuse fully if the temperature drops during steeping; this is especially true with blacks. The often-skipped step of pre-heating the brewing vessel ensures that cold glass or ceramic will not leech the heat out of the tea too soon. An instant hot water tap is a great way to cheat here, but absent that simply boiling a half-cup of water before starting on the tea will work fine. I throw a plate over the measuring cup; water vapor rising off the tea will pull out a great deal of heat.

I usually toss the pre-heating water from the brewing vessel into the teapot to warm it up. After the prescribed time (usually five minutes for blacks), remove pre-heat water, strain, pour, and enjoy. A batch will remain really fresh and sparkling for 10-20 minutes.

This process seems to work fine from one to six cups. I make two at a time, which is as much as I can drink leisurely in the optimal freshness window.

In summary:
1. Fresh water.
2. Pre-heat steeping vessel and pot.
3. Boil water. (or off-boil, for greens.)
4. Steep tea (5 mins).
5. Strain tea.
6. Drink.

Good black leaves can be re-steeped once. The second batch will not be as strong, or as complex. However, caffeine is very water-soluble, and nearly all is steeped out of the leaves in 30 seconds, so the second batch is decaffeinated. In fact, to make any tea decaf, steep the leaves for 30 seconds, discard the liquor, pour fresh boiling water, and steep for the normal time.

The first cup of a fresh batch of good black tea needs to be experienced by every man, woman, and child on this earth at least once. Beyond a modest equipment outlay, the price of leaves is infinitesimal compared to, say, beer, wine, or spirits - one ounce of tea can give you several cups of tea, at pennies a cup, and it's the best way to start a day, or as an accompaniment to one's daily activities.

On Case Failure.

It took me a year and half, but I finally had a case fail. More specifically, a rather dramatic split neck. It wasn't the disgustingly grimy Webley brass that's been loaded 7+ times without annealing (twice with Goex Pinnacle FFFg, no less), nor the S&B I bulk-ordered the day I brought the P226 home last November and have been reloading ever since. (Fairly stiff brass, and primer pockets two sizes too small, but it seems to work. So much for the warnings, I guess...) Nay, the offender was once-fired police nickel-plated brass that started a bit too ovoid, re-sized OK, but I'm guessing doesn't like being worked that much.

So nickel does fail earlier, and partially squished cases aren't necessarily salvageable. Good to know...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On Duvel.

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

And Duvel makes me me very happy indeed. The Belgians are known for thick, heavy, intense beers, and this is the crown prince of thick, heavy, intense beers. An immediate caramel sweetness gives way to a powerful dose of hops, a sourness that becomes a pleasant, lingering bitterness.

The first time I had Duvel was in a bar in Hue, Vietnam, decorated with Tintin prints and run by a Belgian ex-pat with good taste in beer. After my traveling companion and I had been loosened up with a Huda (Hue's local brew) and some Hoegaarden, the Belgian pulled out two bottles of the good stuff. "You have to try this," he said, "but promise me you'll drink it slowly." Hardly necessary; it's far too intense to quaff.

Ironically, perhaps, one peculiarly Vietnamese tradition is that of Bia Hoi, very thin and watery lager that is brewed up by tiny storefront breweries and sold for something like $.50 a liter. It's fun to share with friends - I spent July 4, 2007, in the company of about 20 Aussies and a metric fuck-ton of Bia Hoi - but the beer is not the reason, merely the excuse.

On Pr0n.

Gun Pr0n, at any rate. Vintage.

Courtesy of Dr Strangegun's archives.

On Rule 3, Continued.

IM Transcript ahoy:

[23:54] [redacted]: which one is rule 3? I Google image searched "rule 34" and let me tell you... that sure is something

On Rule 1.

Three hours after I got home, it occurred to me that "All firearms are loaded" is a declarative statement designed to ensure that people treat guns with respect, not an assurance that a particular firearm is in fact loaded. Pity, that'd be a great logic hole by which to spawn new ammunition. Unload a gun, hide it somewhere, come's loaded. Where'd that come from? Beats me, but all guns are loaded. It also reminded me that I should probably chamber-check the SIG.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On Rule 3.

I don't think there's a single animator in the gaming industry that shoots. I've yet to see a single character follow rule 3. Sigh...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Improvised Weapons.

Here I was, thinking beating a fool down with the first object you pick up only happened in Feng Shui campaigns. (I don't get in fights, can you tell?) Then here comes Xavier with enlightenment and/or an amazon link.

I guess my idle musings at work on the same subject weren't for naught after all...seeing as I work retail on Friday nights. Of course, if I muse too loudly, I'd violate the company weapons policy by picking up a portafilter. Something about posessing anything that could be used as a deadly weapon.

"When Vin Diesel walks into a room, he's thinking of a way to kill you with everything in the room. Including the room itself."

On Banter.

Do not watch the first disc of "Firefly" and any of the hit 70s cop show "SWAT" in the same week. Banter has evolved too much in the intervening 30 years. Chase it with "The X-Files" or something so your forehead doesn't get a keyboard injection.

SWAT's actually a good deal of 70's cop show cheesy, mostly family-friendly fun. The writers are getting more into it as the show progresses...the stock 'mafia hitman,' 'VIP protection in hospital,' and 'homicidal stalker' plotlines have given away to some fun episodes. For instance, a gambling kingpin hires a high-end assassin, who flies out of New Delhi. Problem is, he's infected with Pneumonic plague. Another one involves an armored car being lifted and pressed into a plot to lift a scepter and tiara from a beauty pageant. And then there's the frogmen advancing over the beach with Wilkinson Linda carbines to bump off a senator...oh, it's not mentally taxing in the slightest. Great laundry-folding or hand-priming background. The theme song is grade-A earworm agar. Mein Gott in Himmel.

The guns, though...

"Deadly AR-18, modified for full auto, with a folding stock so it can fit in a briefcase. A man equipped with that could take on an army."

Please. Especially since the villain used it in a sniping capacity from 500 meters. Previously, Hondo suggested the standard length for a .38 Special revolver was 6", which is approximately two longer than the ones that, at the time, inhabited just about every police holster in the country. The WCPD did get style points when it became apparent that the standard patrol shotgun was the...Winchester 1897.

And the silenced revolvers...

It's also impressive how they work the same bar/restaurant set into EVERY episode. Repaint, new props, and they won't notice, right? Right?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Controlled Feed.

Warning: dense, rambling gun technical talk by a rank amateur follows. Don't take this to be anything other than an essay sitting in the writer's backpack which said writer feels good about but which has yet to be tossed to the instructor's mighty Red Pen of Despair.

It's pretty well known that the TT-33 Tokarev pistol is essentially a 1911, down to the old-school swinging link locking system. After reading about the Controlled Feed principle, I decided to see how the feed worked on my NORINCO Model 213, which is a faithful Tokarev copy in 9mm.

(As an aside, there's a whole family of cartridges here - starting with 7.63 Borchardt, which is identical to 7.63 Mauser and 7.62x25 Tokarev except for loading; the 7.65 Parabellum, which is essentially the Borchardt shortened to 19mm for the Parabellum "Luger" pistol, the 9mm Parabellum, which is the 7.65 blown out to a straight-walled 9, and the rather more obscure 9mm Mauser, which at 9x25mm has the potential to be stout as hell and was chambered in some very nasty Hungarian sub-guns as well as the Mauser Broomhandle. Upshot is, the case web and rim are identical for all of them, except the extraction groove, which can cause some issues with certain extractors when switching. So a 7.62->9mm conversion is blisteringly simple, even more so since the muzzle energy is roughly the same, so the recoil spring works for both...the CZ52 is known for its easy conversion thusly, though the cartridge length leads to feed issues. Anyway...)

I loaded one magazine with six empty cases for space (didn't have enough dummies) and my single 9mm snap cap, and closed the slide slowly. Sure enough, it did a perfect controlled 1911-style feed - the round plunges down the feed ramp a few degrees before being lifted into the chamber - if it doesn't (at extremely slow slide speeds, mind you) the round log-jams between the feed lips and the feed ramp. This is why 1911s are rather finicky with regard to bullet shape compared to SIGs, Glocks, and other modern guns with their straight-in feed angle - the ogive guides the round through the dip, up the ramp, slipping the extractor groove under the extractor hook in the process, and generally maintaining control over the round at all times; one could cycle the slide at any orientation (upside down, in zero-gee, etc) at extremely slow speed and expect the round to slip in. The ramp holds the round solid in all three axes, maintaining tension with the magazine, and then guiding the round into the extractor to finish the feed. Chambering an empty case almost works; the round dips, but the bottom front edge of the case jams into the feed ramp. It actually might feed fine, if the ramp didn't have visible toolmarks on it. Feeding is the one kind of malfunction I don't usually experience with this gun, so with nicely rounded 9mm hardball (or Pow'R'Ball, for that matter) the finish of the ramp is inconsequential. It's actually a rather nasty lock-up, which clears rather similarly to a double-feed, as long as the round doesn't snap out fo the magazine and lodge between the top edge of the barrel and the bottom of the feed ramp. This is all academic, because we don't feed empties except for silly little exploratory tests like this. Actually, I can see why feeding empties makes sense as a function check on 1911s.

My SIG has a much simpler feed - the round gets pushed out of the magazine, guided somewhat by the barrel ramp, but the round simply pops out of the mag in time to slide behind the extractor hook and be pushed into the barrel, guided up by the ramp. Running it very slowly, there's a very noticeable 'snap' where the round escapes control of the magazine and pops up to chamber height in one motion. Since the ramp gently guides and assists rather than controls (and to wit there's about half as much ramp), the ogive (or lack thereof) of the round isn't too important. Overall cartridge length isn't too important either, since the moment the round snaps out of the magazine, it's (loosely) controlled by the extractor. There's a brief period of very loose control between the extractor catching the rim and the front of the case entering the chamber, so an empty can flop forward and stop the slide from closing; however, it's almost there, so it usually goes in by pushing the back of the slide (the rim might slip out of the extractor in some cases, at which point it logjams, with the rim below the extractor and the case angled up into the chamber).

It's all stated better elsewhere, but it's a cool bit of gun geekery, and explains the need to polish a 1911 ramp as opposed to changing the geometry of a 1911 ramp. Note the complete lack of control that gun now has - getting rounds into the chamber is a crap shoot.

Inspiration for this idle fiddling was this here fascinating comparison of 1911 magazine choices. Us tacticool SIG mall ninjas have it easy - OEM or crap. Hat tip to Xavier.

On Angry Screaming Chunks of Metal.

I keep hearing from the powers that be at my club that .22 ricochets more than centerfire off steel. O rly? The velocity of Federal Bulk is 1020 fps (minus a bit from a pistol), which should be enough to splatter copper-plated lead, right?

On Revolvers.

They're awesome, and I need one in a caliber a bit more common than .455.

The double-action slows you down enough that the sight picture always has enough time to settle down. Single-action autos, I find, are quicker to touch off, and the temptation to rush and fuck up is greater. Consequently, for big targets close up (plate rack at 10 yards), the gun practically shoots itself, so long as the shooter is paying attention to the sights. Plate 5 (second in from right) gives me consistent trouble with the Webley for some reason. The same phenomenon seems to happen with the small, distance rack for other people as well - a particular index doesn't want to work consistently; it's happened with IDPA champions, even.

That revolvers shoot themselves was confirmed by putting 32 rounds through a friend's recently acquired Smith & Wesson model 627, which is pure distilled awesome. With powder-puff .357 loads and wood grips, it's absurdly easy to shoot. I'd wondered what the fuss was with gold bead front sights. They seem to work a lot like fiber, except they don't drop out in low light. Fine aim point in the middle of the front leaf, with a traditional picture if you want it. Good set-up. Also, don't go cheap on moon clips. The ones that come with it are utter shit. It's impossible to get the bloody things in the chamber when the rounds flop about excessively. The $5 a hit (!) aftermarket ones make loading a lot simpler.

On the other end of the scale, using a SIG/Hämmerli Trailside on the rack is blatant cheating (we have a sensitive rack, so they go down with a hit on the top half of the plate). When the trigger is like a mouse click, the shots look themselves off effortlessly. Now to get the 226 to shoot like that...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On Customers, Part Two.

So apparently there was an "Out of Order" sign on the restroom when I came in. When informed by a customer seeking use of a restroom, I confirmed functionality of the major fixtures and general cleanliness, and removed said sign. I figured that someone had short-stroked the flush handle again, sailed right past the sensible step 2 (same, only press harder) and went straight to step 3 (panic and inform guy making drinks). In fact, the reason was thus:

Someone had hot-boxed the restroom.

With crystal meth.

Oh joy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On Build.

So there's apparently two paths to getting Build engine games to work in XP:

1. Follow an obtuse and capricious path to the letter, hoping and praying that you didn't mess anything up, or

2. Adjust the DOSBox settings accordingly:


Guess which one works. (On an Athlon 64 3500+ single-core, so YMMV)

Back to being a vengeful undead cowboy with a pitchfork, a sack-full of dynamite, and the complete scripts of the Evil Dead trilogy on tap for one-liners.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

On Artistic Movements.

I think we have a winner.

On Diaspora.

It just occurred to me that Israel and Russia have a common advantage.

With a global (and distinctly heterogeneous) Jewish community, Israel has supporters in most cultures, including potentially hostile ones. Therefore, if they need logistical support or double agents, the resource is there, and can blend in. The fact that one Israeli double almost became the defense minister of Syria says a lot. In a way, the US' multiculturalism allows this as well.

The Soviet Union controlled huge amounts of currently sovereign territory, and in the process deposited millions of Russian citizens throughout the 'Stans. Thus, whenever they have imperial ambitions, they can fall back on "protecting our fellow countrymen" as a one-size-fits-all casus belli.


(on further consideration, such a comparison may be, in my standard style, thoroughly tangental. Ah, well.)

On Model Numbers.

Perhaps I'm not as gun-aspergic as I thought.

Were I to start a firearms company, I'd deign to make every model's designation communicate some information, or at least be distinctive. Reason? It's kind of obnoxious keeping, for example, REMTEK's Glock page on speed-dial so I can cross-reference the completely uninformative tupperware desginations. At least Smith puts a caliber designation in front of their autopistols, so you know something; their revolvers are a bit nuts. The named weapons in Colt's lineup (Lawman, Python, Police Positive, etc) are a bit easier to remember, and the Russian habit of naming weapons after their designers is a boon to quick memorization.

Or maybe I should just hit the books harder.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Random Musings part whatever.

"Looking the shot off" is a really cool experience. I was dry-firing a faux plate rack the other night, and decided to go back and try transitioning to a plate with a cocked hammer, to make sure the pseudo-trigger pull and the real trigger pull worked about the same. Sure enough, I transition from one plate to the next, and the hammer drops automatically when the sight picture is good. Now that I can re-create that experience, I need to transfer it to live fire and absolutely murder the rack.

"Sensory deprivation" works really well for de-stigmatizing recoil. With good solid hearing protection (plugs + muffs, even?), get a bead on the berm (or something else safe), close your eyes, and feel a perfect trigger pull. As I read somewhere, you feel more recoil pounding nails. When you're staring down the sights, the trigger feels twice as heavy, and the bang seems twice as loud. I can see this drill being great for new shooters.

Carbon fouling around the muzzle of a handgun looks really cool. Kind of a de-motivator to clean the damn thing, not that it really needs attention.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

On Long-term goals.

To do before I die: incorporate "anschluss" into a Glock vs. ____ debate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On AIM Surplus.

Dear AIM,

I know that you aren't familiar with me (other than the C&R FFL you have on file), but I can't help but feel you're being somewhat devious. See, I'm trying to conserve my liquid resources, so I can put something away and still take a few classes on the side. However, you're playing to my big weakness for commonwealth firearms, and I fear my self-control may be insufficient.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the Second.

One point about the wording of the Second Amendment that is often overlooked is the phrase "Free State." The usual assumption is that the Free State is the United States of America, in the modern Nation-State construction (a body of people with a common identity and the sovereign government that represents it). However, examination from the thoroughly jaundiced Anti-Federalist view does not bear that out. Any government will tend toward infrigement of natural rights, in the Anti-Federalist view; the only acceptable amount of government is the barest minimum to ensure the public good. Thus, by the Modern definition of State ("A political association with effective sovereignty over a geographical area", according to Wikipedia), a "free state" in the Anti-Fed view is simply a non sequitur.

Rather, what a "free State" must then mean is in modern parlance a free nation. A nation is a group of people with a common identity, which can (and do) exist without associated states. This fact is responsible for a significant chunk of global conflict; Kurdistan and Chechnya are the first ones that come to mind. The American Revolution would not have happened if this separate identity had not been created.

America has faced only one external enemy on its own soil - the British, in 1812. For obvious reasons, the need for a defensive standing army (as required in most of Europe) simply has not existed. An army needs an enemy to justify its existence, and the monumental resource drain it represents. With no external enemy, a standing army turns inwards, with historically predictable results. The Founders recognized this, which is why America had no peacetime standing army until after World War I. The Anti-Feds saw a standing army as an explicit threat to the freedom of the American Nation. Even then, the militia as a defensive body against external enemies is a secondary function.

The militia is the body of people capable of bearing arms, and thus synonymous with "The People." This was the prevailing definition at the time of the Constitutional Convention, and the one referenced by the Militia Act of 1903 (which created the National Guard). The National Guard, incidentally, is a federally controlled reserve military force. When deployed, the Guard functions as standard Army or Air Force units, answerable to the Federal command stucture (Joint Chiefs and the POTUS). To suggest that this is the same militia that requires the people to keep and bear arms is absurd, as it would convert the people's militia (when activated) into a tool of a government which, by nature, tends towards tyranny. This is recognized by the Posse Comitatus act of 1878.

This would lend credence to a States' rights reading, except that the States are a layer of government between the people and the federal government, as indicated by the Tenth Amendment. Furthermore, the States are still government, who exist to preserve the rights of the people (and provide for the public good). The State is a construct that exists because The People create it and allow it to exist; it is not The People.

The Second Amendment is thus the right of the people to organize against a government hostile to the people's natural rights. This right is any sort of free association up to overthrow, and the arms indicated are merely the tools that give the association teeth. If The People can keep and bear arms, it reaffirms that government exists by the good graces of its constituents. While self-defense is a natural right, defense of one's person from criminal actors is secondary in the context of the Second Amendment to defense of one's rights from a government. The former was recognized by English common law, and subsequently American law. (recognition of that right in certain jurisdictions is a bit spotty, but that's another rant.) The latter makes any restriction of the right to Keep and Bear Arms blatantly hypocritical, especially on the Federal level. These are the guys the second is supposed to reign in, and they're reigning in the second? One would assume an untoward vacuum in civics education at the Congressional level, or a wanton disregard for the Constitution. Neither possibility provides much reassurance.

Whatever percieved social benefits to firearms prohibition (at any level), the security of a free State - we, the American people - is an absolute requirement. The free State is threatened from without, but the threat from within is more insidious and potentially far more dangerous, and requires constant vigiliance...and the right tools.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Addictive Gameplay.

The trick seems to be as follows:

1. Make the gameplay at least reasonably compelling.
2. Remove all hard stops and even softish stops from the game flow.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. does a really good job on both points, especially if you like to pick up side quests. When you're juggling seven missions (not including the main progression) and are bouncing around the game world, there's no definitive "I've had a breakthrough" moments, except finishing main progression quests. You're always seven different places in the "talk to dude - go somewhere - assassinate/exterminate/defend/collect - come back - talk to dude again and get rubles" process; it's never stopped.

And thus it's about as easy to put down as a suitcase full of crystal methamphetamine (the Central Valley experience). Good morning, paper delivery SUV!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On Customers.

Ma'am, you cannot have a free 12 oz. Mango or Berry-Pomegranate freddo. As the e-mail printout you have proffered as proof clearly states (in the same typeface, color, and size), the free 12 oz. freddos were offerered today between the hours of 2 and 3 pm. At present, the time is 6:07. However, the e-mail is still good for a two-for-one on the medium size...yes, I understand you 'drove all the way over here' for this deal. (This fact does not entitle you to partake of a promotion that is four hours expired; it merely proves you are a dullard, the sort of penurious lummox that would spend four dollars in gas to redeem a promotion worth $2.50.) However, as the e-mail clearly states...the manager is not on duty at present, but I can refer you to my shift lead.

Ah, retail.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Random Musings.

I just realized, a mere 15 days after the fact, that the mistress of snark became the third person who found my musings sufficiently amusing as to warrant further discussion. I am so amazingly alert, I should become a nuclear power plant operator.

I also just realized why my hand feels the way my jaw does after chewing an entire pack of gum in one dose. Hogue rubber grip panels (the non finger-grooved variety) are clown shoes. It's no wonder everything, including double-stack .45s, felt so slim...also, you're supposed to be able to apply pressure to the mag release without flicking the gun 45 degrees to the left? Daaaamn.

On S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

For many of us hardcore Fallout fanboys (yes, I had the stink about me my 8th and 9th grade years...oh, the folly of adolescence), the future held great things. After the practiced mediocrity of Fallout:Tactics and the unforgivable (nay, unexplainable) cash-in of Fallout:Brotherhood of Steel, we stood vigil for the true Third Coming. In the interim, a new herald sent heart rates skyrocketing everywhere. An unknown studio in Kiev was pounding away on what looked like nothing less than Fallout, the FPS. This was S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost.

Four long, impatient years stood between my first glimpse of this perfect concept and my returning home from GameSpot on launch day. The cellophane survived about as long as it took me to walk back to the car. A ten-minute install later, and I was finally ready to enter Chernobyl.

The result was the most atmospheric game ever made, surpassing even the soul-searing dread of System Shock 2 for pure emotional impact. As a virtual museum of the Exclusion Zone, GSC Game World had triumphed.

As with all ambitious developments, the result was a bit...shallower than promised. A-Life turned about to be a bit sparse and predictable; there are doubtless more species growing in my microwave as I write this. The feral dogs showed a remarkable breadth of action...for a video-game NPC. Effective images? How about cresting a hill and seeing a very determined mutt tugging the remains of a newbie stalker to a bush so as to feast upon his flesh...unscripted, in real time. The ability for a dog to sense whether he is running in a sufficient pack to overcome an enemy was likewise remarkable. That was about the extent of the impressive scenes. The faction wars promised amounted to a pair of scripted mission ladders and a set-piece battle. Vehicles were excised, though the codebase remained intact (don your walking shoes, and expect to re-sole them a few times).

The gameflow could best be described as screwy. The AI was quite sharp, capable of flanking maneuvers, use of cover, and otherwise not presenting you with a standing, stationary target. The fun of overcoming such worthy foes was dampened by a bizarre damage system that rendered most weapons useless; the headshot bias was absurd (try 30 body shots for a kill vs. one headshot), meaning the only useful guns were accurate ones, and perfect aim on the part of the player was the only effective tactic. And the tech ladder for equipment...possibly five weapons out of thirty showed much utility.

Apparently, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game-data has proved eminently amendable. Thus, nearly a year after launch, a deluge of tweaks have surfaced, and the game's very hardcore fanbase has finally hammered the game into the form promised, in the form of the mega-mod "Oblivion Lost."

Nearly everything has been tweaked in some way...cut enemies restored, vehicles re-implemented, every weapon re-skinned (the Makarov is now blued with red grips...finally), new assets added, and string-tables tweaked.

And weapons actually do damage when you shoot people with them. Combat falls somewhere between CounterStrike and Rainbow Six in lethality. As it bloody well should have been to begin with. I want to sit on a rooftop with an AK74 on semi and actually hit a soldier standing 150 meters away. Is that too much to ask of a modern military rifle?

The flow is now much more RPG-ish, with health a difficult resource to replenish unless you find a quiet corner, throw down a sleeping bag, and sack out for a few. Did I mention the quiet corner? You will be woken up by the first creature that trips over your incautious ass, and they will have the drop on you. As a nice aside, the team has implemented clips of the in-game cinematics as 'dream sequences.' This is polish, folks.

Climate and the day/night cycle are much more pronounced. This isn't a 1950s-daytime-with-filters night, this is a pitch-black, can't-see-past-your-nose-without-a-flashlight night. Scared of the dark? I recommend against playing Oblivion Lost, or at least making sure your heart medication is filled and within reach of your computer.

The extreme lighting differences make HDR enhancements very noticeable; the interiors are very dark, as befitting abandoned buildings lacking for windows, and the exteriors are quite bright, at least with a blue sky.

Oblivion Lost also turned the 'blowout' phenomenon described in the setting materials into a non-scripted experience, rather than the one scripted (and underexploited) scene in Vanilla S.T.A.L.K.E.R. It needs to be experienced first-hand, but the only thing I could compare it to would be rolling nuclear explosions on the horizon mixed with the X-Files alien encounters. Utterly amazing.

It's a testament to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s fans that they believed in the promise of this game so much as to bring it to fruition on their own; and the payoff is sweet. Finally, I can play the game I've waited for these six years.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

On Fireworks.

Chucking smoldering clods of gunpowder into the sky with a mortar and having them explosively disperse incandescent shards of metal is lots more amusing when you're standing about 300 yards from the launch site, rather than a mile away, and thus the detonations are above you (where they are concussive and enveloping) instead of on the horizon (where they are a pretty particle-driven screensaver with a poorly-synchronized audio track).

Also, being a fireworks technician looks like fun. Wandering around mortar tubes stoked with what can only be black powder (judging from the gouts of white smoke issuing from them on ignition) must be a treat for the olfactory and auditory senses. There's that ballistics stuff to fiddle with, too - bomb of weight X propelled at angle Y from mortar tube of caliber Z and backed with A mass of powder. And safety concerns, but bollocks to that.

Happy Fourth of July.

Pyromania ends.

On dubbing.

When watching anime, one thing becomes dramatically apparent when a character opens their mouth: the English dubs, at least for the programs I've viewed (GITS:SAC, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun), are horrifically bad. If one is grasping for a What's up, Tiger Lily? appeal, this is beneficial. The sillier moments of Trigun actually gels fine with bad dubs. With a predominantly sober, mature series like Stand Alone Complex, it's about as welcome as a squib load blocking the barrel of a .44 magnum revolver.

Thusly, the procedure is as follows: watch opening credits (with Japanese theme song). Start settling into the theme and atmosphere. Panic and stab at the screen, trying to get back to the set-up menu.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Trail Boss + .455... a winner.

Except the bullet is hanging on by a precious little sliver below the first cannelure, so they tend to pop out unceremoniously under recoil. Not that there's a lot of recoil. Hmm. This could be a problem.

But they're very mild, burn completely, and get the slug down range (sloooooowly). Perfect. Need to run a few more to see if they're accurate, but I'm not worried.

On an unrelated note, blogger's internal auto-correction dictionary doesn't include the word "cannelure."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

On Hip-Hop.

I wish Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind would release a few instrumental albums. Every time I listen to a Jedi Mind Tricks or Army of the Pharaohs album, my thoughts usually go something like this:

Wow, these beats are really lush and creative.

Vinnie Paz, shut the bloody hell up.

Monday, June 9, 2008

On propellants.

Nitrate fertilizer makes a nice explosion if properly employed...wonder if one can make a halfway-functional gunpowder substitute...

Not that I'd want to try, but surely it wouldn't be dirtier than Goex...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I must be tired, otherwise this wouldn't be amusing.

A thread on The High Road devolves into an argument between (wait for it) 5.7x28mm and a .44 Lever action. Only on the Internet, folks...

Friday, June 6, 2008


Graf & Sons has new Hornady Webley MkII brass.

Lord of War.

Good flick. And they actually got the guns right - there was the Beretta with the missing guide rod assembly and the Ukranian warehouse full of vz.58s...oh, and the AR-15A2 lying on top of a pile of arms in 1983 Lebanon...ok, that's probably the extent of it. The "Navy" trigger group on Ethan Hawke's MP5k seemed a bit off for the late 80s, but at least it wasn't an MP5k-PDW... The flick itself was surprisingly well-balanced...other than certain end users, they didn't go out of their way to vilify anyone, and just let things unfold. How refreshing.

Is it just me, or is the "unskippable" FBI track on DVDs being filled with more crap? I really don't want to five production companies worth of labels and the "don't sue us for anything anyone says in the commentary track" disclaimer. Anime is the worst...I have to leave the room for five minutes, make a pot of tea or whatever, and come back.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Double-action, or staging is bollocks.

Brian Enos has it right. I've finally mastered the double pull on the P226. By mastered, I mean the sight stays more or less the same, not jerking in a random direction. The cure:

1. Full contact grip. Doesn't need to be tight (again Enos: like holding a hammer), but weld your hands together (especially the fleshy bits behind your thumbs).

2. No chicken-finger. Pull that sumbitch with conviction and not an iota of hesitation. This means no staging.

And bingo, lots of .40cal holes in the target. As they say on the internet, "squee."

My lizard brain is happy.

Something about spooling a "Dieselboy" station on Pandora and loading Quarantine up in DosBox that really does the trick. Distorted jungle two-step + splattering pedestrians = win.

Oh, and one of the amusing quirks about Quarantine is that, despite being armed to the teeth (headlight machineguns, 11-barrel 60mm autocannon (!), flame belcher, bumper-mounted buzz-saw, etc.), you never actually *need* to use your weapons, save for a handful of story missions. So, really, it's just a road-rage simulator. Little goddamned hoverbike just cut me off? A fusillade from Mr. Mulch (that's a quad-barrel semi-automatic 10-gauge anti-vehicular shotgun) will set things right.

No, really, I'm perfectly well-adjusted. Honestly.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Utterly useless C&R trivia bit #392.


Neither the HKS S&W M25-2 (.45 Auto Rim) or the M25-5 (.45 LC) speed loaders will fit .455 Webley. You can sort of wiggle in the mk1 cases (or at least these Dominion .455 Colts) into the .45 Auto Rim version, but the necessary ejection procedure (the negative end of a AAA battery) is antithetical to the concept of a "speed loader." And my well-loved Fiocchi Mk2's...fuggedaboudit.

This makes me a sad panda. Back to practicing the time-honored "pocketful of loose cartridges" reloading method. And if anyone reads this, it may just save them $13 trying out speedloaders.

You may be a gun nut if ... (#2)

You get in the car after work and start grinning like an idiot when you notice the trip odometer reads "76.2."

Monday, May 19, 2008


All of us have been yelled at for slouching - my generation in particular. (I suppose we've given up on the current generation of elementary-aged kids, but that's another matter.)

It's not, as one might expect, to save one's back. Nay, the purpose of this life lesson is that it's a hell of a lot easier to clear a belt holster when you are sitting up. Next time you're armed at the computer, get that butt against the back of the chair.

PSA ends.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lessons Learned #2.

1. Those lower limits in the Speer manual actually are there for a reason. Not necessarily because of squibbing or suchlike, but because knocking the load down a half-grain results in a hell of a lot of unburned powder.

2. Unburned AA7 + Brian Enos' Far Superior Slide Glide (tm) = Lapping Compound.

3. The full NP3 + Roguard treatment is only $285.

You may be a gun nut if...

You can't get through a movie or episode of a TV show without stopping at least once, returning to the beginning of a scene, and stepping forward to get a good angle on someone's gun, then spending three hours online to find exactly what AR15 upper (or whatever) that is. Oh, and fifteen other things. Such is the sum of hypertext and tabbed browsing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A bit of perspective.

From the inimitable Chris Byrne, persuasive and articulate as always.

Lessons learned.

1. California politicans can be monumental assholes.
Okay, so I already knew that.

2. Discharging a .22 three inches from a B-8 target produces a not inconsequential amount of confetti. Anyway, that round was sorta bent from a misfeed and I didn't want to shoot it for accuracy, but I didn't want to waste it either.

3. Dot Torture = wicked troubleshooter. Recommended distance is three yards. Back it off until stuff starts missing, repeat. Lesson: Shoot more with left hand. Where'd them bullets go?

4. Natural shooting angle seems to matter for one-handed shooting. Running the Olympic Rapid-Fire course (well, reduced for 9.4 meters, at least), the middle target is sorta passable and the outside edges get progressively wider. Lesson: turn with waist, not with arms!

5. Load with large amounts of unburned powder = high probability of squib. 2/45. Not reassuring. Finally time to execute the Grand Webley Trail Boss experiment.

6. Webley No.1 Mk.1 Trigger pulled DA 24 times = worn out trigger finger. Holy shit. When one simply cannot pull the fucking thing again, one needs to exercise one's finger (or something).

7. Concurrently, worn-out trigger finger = double-sized groups.

8. High quality black tea lasts for about three steepings. Afterwards, you can see the bottom of the cup. This simply will not do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Short version: Comp-Tac rocks.

Shortly after signing up for Louis Awerbuck's Yavapai Stage 1 at Reed's (recommended, for you SF Bay Area gunslingers with seemingly undiagnosable shooting problems), I realized I didn't actually have a magazine pouch. My attempt to order a Blade-Tech from Midway resulted in an incorrectly oriented model ("right-handed" in midway-speak apparently means "right-side", and though I love the guys to death I was a bit cheesed), so I started shopping around. Comp-Tac had well-respected product and fast turnaround (ToddG lamented that the wait time had risen to a full week) and so in the order went. Two, actually. I put in the mag-pouch order, then a replacement for my trusty Uncle Mike's belt holster. The latter was not being problematic per-se, but it's got personality - it is possible to jam the gun in at the wrong angle if you re-holster firmly enough, and the proper re-holstering angle is actually quite small.

I was pleasantly surprised to check my e-mail and note that Comp-Tac informed me that they had combined the orders and refunded the difference in shipping. Quoted turnaround was a week and a half.

The class passed (I waited a bit too long), and the quick-fix Blackhawk! single mag pouches, while certainly convenient, were a one-size-fits-all, sub-optimal solution. A half-inch of belt contact with an oversize 1 1/2" clip meant the pouches had way too much play. The tensioning system good enough; while bulky, they held the mags tightly and released them without too much protestation. I got the confirmation e-mail the night before, and they arrived the monday after. Oh, well.

The holster's fantastic. Much stiffer than the Uncle Mike's, it's also a lot smoother in profile; it fits the gun like a glove, but there's no projections to hang up on during re-holster, so it's butter-smooth from any angle that will get the gun in the holster. It's lower profile, not more than 2mm bigger than the gun. And it simply refuses to let go of the belt, contacting it for a full two inches. It just doesn't move. Consider the preceding a glowing endorsement.

The mag pouches are equally well-engineered - grip the mags just enough, but let them go - at the right angle (the rear one takes some practice to loose, which is a bit time, I'll go with dual single pouches). Problem is, they shipped with screws too short. Comp-Tac bounced fresh ones (with an extra!) and another allen wrench to boot.

This is the way things should be done. Great products and flawless customer service.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The joys of C&R, episode 139.

I've raved previously about the joys of the CZ52. My opinion still stands, though working out almost exclusively with a slightly more modern handgun has reminded me 1) how much ergonomics have improved between the WWII generation and the Cold War generation and 2) how blindingly fucking fast a button magazine release is. My SIG choked for the first time (fortunately, I have a hunch about the culprit - how I fucking hate you, you beautiful, plush Hogue grips - though the solution will take an e-mail/visit to SIG-Sauer), and I decided to warm up a bit on the ol' CZ, in the off chance I don't have the SIG on Saturday.

I finally built some proper frankenmags, and they work...with 6 or fewer rounds. Triple-K (and man that is an unfortunate name for a company) builds a quality product, except they built the follower out of bent heavy-gauge sheet metal, and they evidently didn't bother to run the fucking things through an actual CZ because when I used them the skinny little followers jumped the slide stop and jammed the bloody magazines into the bloody magazine well until I stripped off the bloody grips and extricated the bloody thing. Let's just say I'm a bit peeved by the experience.

CZ-Brno, of course, didn't build magazines with this problem - the Czech followers have a fat lip on them that nothing is getting past.

Since the rest of the Triple-K product is excellent - some very nice two-piece baseplates that are both sproing resistant and easy to disassemble, nice strong springs, and the thickest phospating I've ever seen - you can probably see where I'm going with this.

Only problem is that the Czech followers are a wee bit thicker than the Triple-K ones, and anything past six requires some banging and/or poking with a cleaning rod to get the follower back up.

Here's hoping they run.

Oh, and if you disassemble a magazine upside down and don't bother to catch the recoil spring and spring plate, at least aim it at an empty patch of floor, not three baskets worth of laundry and a heap of boxes that would only in the most nearsighted and charitable corners of Christendom be called a "neat stack."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Monday, March 17, 2008

The way to get amusement out of the 'funny' papers is... delete a main character.

Now, it's blissfully hilarious, and strangely affecting. Who would ever expect that from Garfield?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Demo Review: Blackwell Convergence

Dave Gilbert has seen fit to tease the adventure-game-consuming public once again...with a 30-minute playable demo of the third Blackwell game.


Now I have to wait until "Mid 2008" (whatever that means) to continue. I remember this feeling. It was when I first read about S.T.A.L.K.E.R., back in 2003, and the same feeling lasted about four years. Mid 2008 is a lot less time, fortunately.

But enough about that. Convergence is going to be awesome, if the demo is any indication.

For starters, the chemistry between the leads has gelled even more than in Legacy. The change in voice actors, if anything, has only pushed Rosa's character forward; she sounds more confident, more mature, and seems to have picked up the slightest hint of her aunt's world-weariness (I suppose I would too if I was stuck with Joey for a lifetime). She's also starting to dish it out, as opposed to bowing to Joey's browbeating and misogyny. Joey's mellowed out just a smidgen, but otherwise, we all know Joey.

Graphical quality is on par with Legacy. The environment is lush; nothing looks unpolished or unfinished, and the rainscape and color scheme is quite evocative. As for the new sprite art, it's again on an equal footing.

And the dialogue...well, the humor level's ratcheted up a notch or three. The combination of laughs and human tragedy is concise and well-handled. Within 20 minutes, we experience exploration, exasperation, awkwardness, frustration, anger, self-pity, pithy barbs, and revelation. Pretty wide range of emotion for your average video game. Perhaps this is why Dave Gilbert's games work so well; the characters are very much real, human, and flawed, and seem to be getting deeper with each iteration. Three cheers!

Now for the long thumb-twiddling stage. Damned pre-release demos.