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.