Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Reliability.

It occurred to me the other day that in 12,700 rounds or so, my P226 has only choked either when I fucked up and didn't crimp my reloads, or when a part broke (extractor, firing pin). No limp-wrist failures, nothing.

I'm so spoiled sometimes. (Perhaps it's karma for shooting 2,000 rounds through a Norinco 213...)

On Netflix Instant Queue.

I was moved to get an XBox Live account by the promise of Netflix movies on demand. Yes, I had a perfectly good computer, but running stuff in a tabbed browser is horrible when you get an itching desire to fact-check exactly what flavor of Kalashnikov that mook is carrying. So I tried Netflix on XBox.

If you like sub-YouTube postage-stamp resolution, frequent interruptions, and a lack of audio options (because some anime dubs are just that bad), Netflix on XBox is the bomb diggety shiznit. (If I had a better internet connection, my opinion may well differ.)

In a moment of curiousity, I tried the browser-bound version, and suddenly this whole 'movies on demand' concept started to show promise. I suspect the main issue is that the XBox flavor doesn't store anything on the hard drive, whereas the PC version runs almost like YouTube or Quicktime - downloading the movie in the background, and holding it there in your temporary internet files while you watch it. Therefore, connection speed is no particular liability. (For values of connection that qualify as 'broadband.' I'm not sure anyone is masochistic enough to actually dial up these days.) Wow. Almost-DVD quality, right there. That's how it's supposed to work.

At least I can use my Gold account to kill people in other time zones from the comfort of my desk.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Random Firearms Trivia.

From the There-Are-No-New-Ideas department, I discover that the fine folks at Ashley Express (now XS Sights - 73.6% more eXtreme!) lifted the idea for their Express pistol sights from old English Elephant-In-Tall-Grass handcannons. It makes a lot of sense, really - I don't imagine it takes a lot of precision to crack an elephant's brain case at fifteen paces, just suicidal unshakeable nerve. (Of course, as Jeff Cooper pointed out in his Commentaries, absolute confidence in one's marksmanship produces iron nerve, so in a way the ability to deliver precision indirectly contributes to the resolution of a situation where precision isn't required. But I digress.)

Bruce Gray recommends - wait for it - dry-fire with your eyes closed. After two months of doing so for fifteen minutes a day, I can safely say that that method will help work out perplexing shooting issues. Not watching the sights forces you to feel your way through a perfect smooth trigger stroke. Open your eyes afterward, and chances are the sights are pointing to where your off-center group usually goes. For me it's up - I seem to be heeling the crap out of the gun, especially strong hand/weak hand. Consciously focusing on the trigger finger and where I put pressure on the grip seems to have rubbed that problem out.

It turns out that one of the features of the Mosin-Nagant rifle is a magazine interrupter - the top round in the magazine is not under tension, and can move around enough to prevent rim lock. File that in the Things-I-Never-Thought-Would-Be-An-Issue-Until-Someone-Fixed-Them department.

Friday, December 4, 2009

On Flickr.

I'm sure you folks out there value your free time. So don't check out Telstar Logistics' photostream. Especially not Modern Military Ruins of San Francisco. Really. Bad idea.

In fact, just skip Flickr entirely. Nothing good can come of it.

And forget this blog post, too. Never happened. Fnord.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On Modern Warfare 2.

Much ink has already been spilled on the biggest entertainment launch evar, and most of what I'd write is probably redundant. However, playing through 3/4s of the campaign (the game is currently living with a friend, what with my alabaster monolith off at Microsoft) netted a few interesting details.
  • Since Bushmaster has adopted a very videogame-like release schedule for the ACR ("When it's done"), MW2 offers about the closest anyone is likely to get to said rifle for a while. Or ever, given that the giggle switch is fully operational in this case.
  • Beyond the usual tacticool polymer goodies, the game includes some fun stuff like the Winchester 1887 (Terminatorized). In fact, the shotgun selection is the most varied and interesting in the game - no two handle the same, but all are useful. Finally a game seems to get shotguns. (Mostly - the SPAS12 is used in pump, and comes off the shoulder for each dramatic rack, but old habits die hard, I guess.)
  • Tom Clancy's in-game-radar applied phlebotinum gadget, the heartbeat sensor, is alive and well, and looks comfortingly like a motion tracker. (Now is this a stand-up fight, sir, or another bug-hunt? Closer to the former.)
  • At the beginning of the Brazil unit, there's a shout-out to a particular Michael Mann movie, or rather a particular scene that's quite popular with gunnies. I was giggling like a schoolgirl, which confused the hell out of the guy I was playing with, who hadn't seen said movie. (For shame!)
  • Wolverines! I rest my case.
  • Extrinsic rewards in multiplayer have finally broached the absurd in MW2 multiplayer. Consider - 30+ unlockable weapons; each with 8 attachments (each requiring a specific challenge to unlock, usually kill X number of people with prerequisite gadget A). You can expect to unlock something or other every time you play, since the game rains XP down on you regardless of performance. Whatever else the game may be, it takes "RPG elements" a bit too seriously - levelling up perks? Catchup perks? The good side is that there's enough variety for five FPS games. The various killstreak bonuses are varied and interesting. Nothing like a Hellfire missile to take out that pesky sniper. Or a tactical nuke...
  • Akimbo? Akimbo Winchester 1887s? This presumably isn't John Woo's Modern Warfare 2, unless the doves are very artfully hidden.
Other than a few minor nitpicks, MW2 is top-tier gorgeous, rarely so much as bobbles in the framerate department, controls like a dream, and presents a near-perfect difficulty curve (for me, on hardened). If you want the current apotheosis of the realistic-style FPS, look no further. If I didn't receive it as an early birthday gift, it'd be money well spent.

Friday, November 20, 2009

On Grammar Nazis.

While reading Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, I come across this gem:

"I find it curious that various people find time to write me to the effect that popularity equates to rectitude. This has to do with my expressed annoyance of the barbarism of using the word 'decimate' to signify 'devastate.' It seems to me essentially presumptuous to publish a lexicon in the first place, and, of course, we find that lexicographers disagree amongst themselves. The notion that if enough people do things wrong that will make a wrong into a right is essentially immoral. To say that a good many people use the word decimate incorrectly, and that therefore it is all right, is to justify such other phenomena as lying, infidelity, and public indecency. A decimal is a decimal. See 'decimal point.'"


Heh. "Evolution of language," Mother Theresa's ineffable left tit. The same applies to grammar.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Uncanny.

People have been wondering about Subcommandante Marcos' identity for more than a decade now. In a flash of brilliance, I realized that I had seen at least one of those distinguishing characteristics somewhere...


Yes, don't deny it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Extra! Ale.

Safeway's selection of inebriates is underwhelming, to say the least.  About the only local color present were Lagunitas IPA and another selection, the Little Sumpin' Extra! Ale.  Because I've yet to drink a Lagunitas that is less than exceptional, and I had already drunk about three cases of their IPA this year,  the choice made itself.

Short verdict: Why are you still reading this?  You should have your keys in hand, headed to the local Inebriation Bazaar.

Long version:

An approximation of Little Sumpin' Extra! would be:

2 parts Lagunitas Maximus IPA.

1 part Darjeeling tea, brewed triple strong, so your teeth feel like they've grown a layer of shag carpet.

1 part lemon juice.

The phrase "wall of flavor" describes this sort of beer perfectly.  In fact, anything with less body and kick (which means just about everything but Arrogant Bastard) tastes like making love in a canoe.

Monday, November 9, 2009

On Undead.

I saw Undead last night. I suppose I could write out a synopsis and full review, but there are only two things you really need to know about this film.

1. There is a triple quadruple pump-action shotgun.* (As seen on the poster.)

2. A fisherman punches a zombie trout in the face, then shoots it with a 1911.

Is it actually a good movie? I was somewhat consistently entertained for 106 minutes. There is a noticeable absence of things that high-falutin' critics like (such as, for instance, characterization), and the brisk pace almost covers up the lack of coherent progression. There isn't consistently funny enough to file it next to, say, Bad Taste on the ANZAC horror-comedy shelf, but the tongue stays firmly in the cheek the whole time.

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* That seems to be made out of Mosin-Nagant and SMLE parts, but never mind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Perspective.

So Tam linked up a piece over here about Australian gun laws. RTWT, and all that.

Here in the People's Republik of Kalifornia, any law-abiding citizen* can walk up to their local gun counter, pick out a handgun, haggle up an appopriate price, fill out a 4473, and come back 10 days later to pick it up. Sounds like a Libertarian paradise by comparison. Hell, if you are forced to shoot someone in self defense you're nominally in the right, if a jury of your peers thinks so, which is a damned sight better than that fetid 'equal force' codswallop.

Oh, sure, Sacramento's stacked to the gunwales with people who think the Aussies are doing it right. But as it is, I feel pretty goddamned happy to live here. Even if we have the highest Brady rating in the country.

(Which surprises me, really. Shouldn't the Bradys be in love with the Illinois and Massachusetts FOID schemes? Nothing like having a GP to certify you sane and providing character references to exercise a right. Anyway...)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Time To Join The Human Race.

Halfway through Easy Rider, my 360 stopped being a statistical anomaly. C'est la vie. (Though I think the hippie compound had something to do with it.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oh, wow.

So I was playing Forza the other day, and...

Oh, hell, I'll just cut to the chase. 380 bhp in a 2400 dead sexy pounds? Going on the Powerball list.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Well, Crap.

How exactly is a low-flush toilet 'water-saving' when you have to flush it seventeen fucking times?

First Impressions: 5.11 Tactical Pants.

After wearing Tru-Spec 24/7's for a few months (and liking the heck out of them, mostly), I noticed the good folks at LA Police Gear had these things on clearance, and...

Good:
- Comfy as hell.
- Higher threadcount makes Tru-Specs look like they're stitched out of canvas.
- Waistband automatically adjusts, using an elastic strap. No more popping the fly button off when you strap on an IWB.
- Backslash pockets are way cool. I might actually use them, which is more than I can say for any other back pockets - you're always sitting on them, and they always struck me as less secure than a front pocket (please steal this wallet that's clearly printing).
- Cell phone pocket is conveniently placed. A bit deep, but with super-cheap reusable earplugs on the bottom and cell phone on top, the phone is very accessible.
- Reinforced knees.
- Reinforced pocket corner, for knives. Which is really good when you have a knife that deploys by ripping it across the corner of the pocket.

Bad:
- For some reason, they only put a cell phone pocket on one side.
- The Cold Steel Ti-Lite has a pretty tight clip, and I just loc-tited it down since it kept coming loose. So the reinforced corner doesn't actually accomodate my EDC knife.
- Cargo pockets are somewhat cramped, and have no organizers in them. The Tru-Spec pockets not only have a velcro accordion to allow them to hold truly monumental amounts of crap, but have loops that make lugging around four double-stack pistol magazines easy and comfortable.
- Belt loops are unevenly placed and are an inch wide, so like the Tru-Specs they don't play nice with my Comp-Tac belt holster. All the cool kids in the magazine spreads have Safariland thigh rigs. I guess that's what they're going for.

Overall:
If I had to choose and money was not a deciding factor, the Tru-Specs win out slightly, for the better (and roomier) pocket configuration (dual, small cell phone pockets and very nice cargo pockets).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On NewSpeak.

From AB962:

SECTION 1. This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the
PROTECTION Act of 2009: Providing Regulation and Oversight
to End Community Terrorism in Our Neighborhoods.

Anti-Gang Neighborhood Protection Act of 2009.


Because any legislation sounds positively fucking peachy when you string enough meaningless buzzwords together. The only thing missing is an oblique reference to 'sustainability.'* How a piece of legislation that (being gutted) now only bans ammo sales and ammo posession by 'prohibited parties' (you know, the ones that can't own the guns to shoot said ammo in the first place) will do anything to...oh, hell, nevermind.

California residents: Easy Money. 1-916-445-2841, 1 for English, 2 for pending legislation, 2 for AB962, 2 to oppose. If it's busy, call later or try again. I like buying ammo online. I'm not made out of money, and for whatever reason Big5 continues to not stock 7.62x25mm or .455 Webley. Imagine!

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* This word officially doesn't mean anything anymore. I suppose vague externalities are being sustained in most of the contexts in which the word is encountered. Of course vague externalities can be just about whatever you want to cast them as. The only thing concrete about it is that it is some sort of inverse Fnord for the eco-conscious yuppie crowd - you see the word, you can feel good now.

On Shoeboxes Full of Ruger Parts.

Reason number 243 why the Ruger Standard and its progeny are so popular: they're stupidly simple to detail strip. After a fact-checking expedition at Xavier's place that ended up in a Ruger archive binge, I found a handy guide and got to work. Remove grips, knock out a couple of drift pins, make sure to shake the parts out where you can find them all again, run in reverse order. Since BulkFed(tm) blows a lot of crap into the exposed lockwork, this is a good thing.

There are a couple of hang-ups, none serious:
- The trigger pin in the Standard is held in place with a clip, which is unnerving to poke out (with a very small drift or something) and requires patience and a set of tweezers to re-install.
- There is a pin across the mainspring housing cutout that the sear spring needs to be set against, lest the sear flop about uselessly.
- The sear needs to be pushed forward during re-assembly. Ingeniously, re-installing the safety lever holds it in the appropriate position.
- The above issues can result in a gun that seems to go together properly until a certain point, whereupon the builder stares blankly and wonders why the stupid thing doesn't run properly. Hey, like field stripping a Ruger Standard or something. Perhaps Bill Ruger collected matrushka dolls as a kid.

Detailing a MKI is identical to a MKII or III detail, except the new stuff (bolt hold-open, slide stop, loaded chamber indicator) can be ignored.

Friday, August 28, 2009

On AB962.

California gunnies, this is a big one. Kevin DeLeon has once again recycled the noxious AB2062...er, AB776. No mail-order/internet ammunition, because all purchases must be face-to-face. Creating a million-dollar database of ammunition purchasers, who must transfer any quantity of ammunition greater than 50 rounds through a registered handgun ammunition dealer. Which of course requires millions of dollars to set up, never mind being, in the finest tradition of expansive

The Senate themselves noted that a 10% hit to ammunition sales would result in a million dollar loss in sales tax revenue. Assuming the damage is that low, and not including Use Tax from internet/mail order sales. (Does anyone actually order by mail anymore? I assume they're also the ones that pay with checks at the supermarket.)

Soooo...what we have, in the midst of a catastrophic budget meltdown, is a program that spends millions with the aim of reducing revenue by millions. Oh, and makes life pointlessly miserable for gunnies and collects even more information about their habits and movements while creating even more bureaucracy and without doing a single goddamned thing about (I assume) crime.

And it just left the Senate suspense file. Shit.

If you live in the Golden State, please take a moment to write or call your Senator. (I say call only as an afterthought, because frankly I don't think I could present a coherent and reasoned argument on the fly whilst vibrating with rage.) A letter to Der Gubernator wouldn't hurt either, what with the veto and all.

(Passing thought:

Mr. DeLeon, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Moar Nostalgia.

A co-worker ran a playlist of retrotastic metal the other day. I found myself thinking: "hey, that's E3M1! That's totally E1M7!"

Yes, Bobby Prince really is a filthy thief.

Hardware and Software.

Tricky question at the range: is that seven-o-clock group really a flinch? 99% of the time it should be, but when you're running ball and dummy and lots of dry-fire and you can't detect a flinch, but it's still there, then it's really obnoxious.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Blade-Tech Training Barrel.

On a whim, I picked up one of these babies a while back. It's a pretty brilliant concept - a molded-plastic barrel that replaces your regular one and renders the gun completely* safe for dry-fire. Like everything, the training barrel is a mixed bag.

The good news is, of course, that dry-fire is noticeably more idiot-proof. There is certainly still some risk - for instance, since the barrel is not visible from the rear of the gun, it's entirely possible to complete a drawstroke thinking that the training barrel is in when it isn't. It does add another fence to jump over, however, one that requires a field strip to traverse, and the training barrel is painfully conspicuous from every other angle - and it protrudes several millimeters from the muzzle. This allows completely* safe practice of draws, speed reloads, tac reloads, trigger pulling, and such. Trigger manipulation seems unaffected. I had a small bit of trouble

The downsides...one, there is no chamber. While this is of course a feature instead of a bug, this means that malf clearance practice isn't going to happen**, and unless you use a Blue Mag you're not going to be able to even run immediate action drills. Furthermore, if you're unsettled by the prospect of extended dryfire without a snap cap, you're SOL. The ideal would be a setup like the Glock 17R (3rd gun down - bandwidth and ooh shiny warning) - a completely functional gun, but the slide lacks a striker port and the barrel is actually a piece of steel drilled perpendicular to the bore; even if a real round ended up in there, it couldn't go off, and if it did the explosion would be vented out ports drilled in the chamber. Not likely to justify that sort of expense, of course...

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* No Such Beast.
** Actually, it's type 3 (doublefeed) practice for goldfish. Hey, a doublefeed! Tap-rack-noclick-lock-rip-rack-rack-rack-load-hey, a doublefeed! (repeat until you run out of dummy rounds.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Breaking the Shot.

Shooting airgun has allowed me to really bone up on shot calling, and I'm starting to see a good shot as the product of two interconnected processes: technique and targeting. Bear with me if this seems really obvious.

The former is the 'gun-shooter interface;' grip, stance, hold, sight alignment and focus, and (most critically) trigger pull. If these fundamentals are performed correctly, the shot will go where the aim-point is; let's assume the sights are properly regulated/adjusted for a given load.

The latter is aligning the aim-point with where you want the projectile to go on the target. At 6m with an air rifle, this is a point-and-shoot deal; presumably, at range with a rifle one will get into the nuts and bolts of wind, atmospheric effects, etc.

Essentially, if you get the technique right, you should be able to tell where the bullet goes if you're watching the front sight. This is 'calling the shot,' what Brian Enos considers the single most important skill to master for high-speed pistol shooting, or indeed any high-level shooting. Other than total confidence with your gun-shooter 'weapons system,' knowing where the bullets are landing before they hit means you can, for instance, pick up missed shots the moment you let off the meandering round, with the only delay your perceptual response.

Thus, with correct technique, even incorrectly targeted rounds are 'half credit.' Knowing is half the battle, indeed. I personally am at least somewhat satisfied with a flier if I can call the flier. Still aggravating as hell to open up that nice, happy 1cm group, but at least I have a feedback loop going.

Much more frustrating is a bad shot, where the technique didn't happen. Sometimes you can feel it, other times you read the target and it doesn't conform to what the sights said. Even if the round wiggles its way into the bullseye, it didn't really deserve to be there, so I don't like to count it as a 'hit.' In fact, if I have a tight, slightly off center group where I could account for every round, I consider that ideal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Rimfire. (Cont'd.)

California's AWB begins with "any centerfire rifle." That's right, evil features are a-ok on any rifle using a different priming method.

While working up an AR-type rifle in .22 WMR, .17 HMR, or even .41 Swiss certainly has potential, I wonder if somehow we can resurrect the pinfire. Use a two-part case that can be disassembled to remove the 'pin,' and a standard rifle primer mounted sideways that can be decapped an re-primed somehow. There'd be issues with fragility, and stacking and then aligning the pin with the chamber. I'm thinking a pin would be easier than a cylindrical case with a side primer, since there's no projection there to align and actually hitting the damn thing would be a crapshoot.

That, or someone could cook up a rimfire 5.56x45mm. Merely for malicious compliance purposes, of course.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Aguila Colibri (Cont'd.)

I ran a box through Das Cheäterpistole today. (The Trailside grew a new appendage, and now I'm out of excuses for missing. Which is very much the point.)

Feed reliability was distinctly better than the Ruger. Rounds stacked neatly in the magazine, and as long as the slide was enthusiastically cycled, no issues were encountered. (All sorts of wierd stuff happened if I tried to cycle the gun slowly - top round stovepiping, rims interacting in the magazine and causing nosedives, etc.) If loaded to capacity, the first two rounds had a tendency to nosedive; manually aligning the top round with the feed lips seems to solve that problem. Running both mags with five rounds each allows for shooting at a very consistent, aggravation-free clip.

Accuracy seemed about the same as the Ruger - as good as my hold. Interestingly, use of a red-dot sight resulted in an immediate halving of group sizes at 25m with full-power ammo at the range; here, at 20 feet, group sizes were nearly identical (not counting fliers, of course).

And holy hell is my weak-hand shooting inconsistent. Back to the salt mines.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Recoil Control, Cont'd.

I think the issue is that I have too much strong hand tension and too much weak hand tension. Given that two separate teachers have told me that I should apply more force with the weak hand, perhaps I should make that a training issue... Strong hand tension also results in the symptom of clamping down on the slide lock; thus, grip looks good in dry practice but tightens up while shooting fast and the slide doesn't want to stay back.

As a bonus, trigger work looks a lot better when I adjust tension away from the strong hand (where it interferes with fine index finger motion) and towards weak hand (where it's just a clamp to keep the gun running in a consistent manner). One of these days, I'll make it stick.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On .22 and Reliability.

LonelyMachines brings up a really good point: the reason .22 is less reliable than .25 isn't just that it's a rimmed cartridge instead of a semi-rimmed one, but because the priming method is more prone to failure. I seem to recall from somewhere that the Swiss Vetterli had dual firing pins for that very reason. I can't see that peculiarity being replicated in this day and age for anything other than the neato factor ("dude, what's up with your brass?"), but now I want a .22 pistol with dual firing pins.

Interesting food for thought. Yet another reason that, for serious social work, rimfire technology is more dead than Dillinger.

(Oh, and completely as an aside, in this age of doom and gloom, it's nice to read something optimistic for a change.)

On Recoil Control.

"What I've noticed with shooters who use .22 kits is that they tend to have problems with recoil control." - ToddG (paraphrased, at the 3/15 Aim Fast, Hit Fast class)

Ah-yup. First time shooting steel in 3 months, and I totally got schooled. Shooting a real caliber magnifies any problems you have with grip consistency. Edge-of-performance speeds mean that those problems translate to embarrassing misses. While running the rack, I noticed that 'driving the dot' doesn't work when the rear sight is 10+ degrees off boresight due to grip.

EDIT: On further rumination, I'm realizing that under stress - pseudo-competition, not wanting to look like a total doofus, acting like a total doofus anyway, social pressure (interacting with a bunch of guys that I haven't seen in a couple of months; all great folks, but still) - my grip went completely to shit. Not to mention the whole 'riding the slide lock' habit coming back with a vengeance. Which is kind of odd, since my grip's been consistenly pretty awesome, more so than usual, at my last few range trips.

With my ego properly adjusted downward, it's time to get back to work. Also, sight in from a bench to find out where exactly these Big Dots are hitting.

Friday, June 26, 2009

On Mailing one's Elected Representatives.

So vis-a-vis the CBP's delightful attempt to destroy a healthy market sector and criminalize 35 million knife owners, I decided to mail my representatives, despite the Latta-Minnick amendment (to slap that shit down proper) not exiting committee. How could it hurt?

Tauscher's contact form included a text field to input a topic. Since 'customs and border knife regulations' isn't too terribly common in public discourse (ah, but more is better), this was a good thing.

Feinstein and Boxer (and oh boy am I screwed there) had a handy drop down list to select the topic of interest. Here, I am stumped. It's not a 'crime' issue per se (other than the making J. Random Knife Owner a felon), it's not a 'trade' issue (other than the interstate commerce part making it impossible to mail knives without felony charges), it's not strictly a 'gun control' issue* (though of course it's an arms control issue, which is fundementally the same thing). I'm tempted to go with 'civil rights/liberties,' though I suspect it's not strictly what they're talking about.

Civil Rights is probably the closest match, what with the 4th Amendment and 8th Amendment issues ("A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.").

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* Representative Boxer used the euphemism "Sensible Gun Laws." I'm just gonna quote the wisdom of Inigo Montoya on that one: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Damn you, Forza.

Overheard in my head at work:
You think the way you live's okay/you think posing/will save your GOD DAMMIT TO HELL GET OUT OF MY HEAD

Damn you, Forza 2, and your awesome soundtrack.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Better Late than Never.

Wherein I discover that CTone has hit the jackpot in a big way. Rarely does one (vicariously) lay eyes on a collection wherein a Pedersen Device is fairly mundane.

Awesome work!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Brain is Broken.

Lawdog has details.

Since your blood pressure will likely be elevated to dangerous levels, I will offer you an extended version of Sasha's Xpander in the interests of cardiac health.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Something That's Been Bothering Me.

The whole "liberals are mentally ill" thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and a few days ago I finally figured out why. The whole concept is teetering dangerously close to an ad hominem.

The pattern goes like this: observer notes Liberal 1's views on subject X. Per observer's views on subject X, Liberal 1's views don't make any goddamned sense. Observer likewise has issues with Liberal 1's views on W, Y, and Z. Since clearly (by the subjective observer's logic) Liberal 1's logic is broken, only a crazy person would persist with such views upon receipt of the fact.

Since aformentioned Liberal has clearly been identified as batshit fucking loco, logically it follows that any person that holds such views and/or self-identifies as liberal must likewise be a few fries short of a Happy Meal, or whatever the hell macrobiotic worker-owned cruelty-free restaurants are paid by the welfare state to give to kids.

Observer stumbles later upon Liberal 2. Liberal 2 has been identified thusly because of their opinions on subject W. However, their opinion on subject Y actually makes a certain degree of sense. However, we've established that due to their liberal views on W, anything Liberal 2 says is New Age Marxist word salad, and not worthy of consideration.

Of course an objective observer will simply agree with Liberal 2's point, but subjective observers, which represent everyone but Lt. Commander Data, may (and I admittedly paint with broad strokes) be influenced by a preconceived notion that whatever liberals say is feel-good cods wallop.

Swap 'liberal' for 'conservative' and insert 'Bible-thumping,' 'Gun-toting,' 'Heartless,' or whatever where appropriate, and oddly enough both sides start sounding the same at the facile, identity politics level.

I won't deny that there are people that hold 'liberal' views that could very well be diagnosed with something unpleasant (or 'libertarian' or 'conservative' views, for that matter), and I have no problem with a well-earned fisking, but the key word is well-earned. There's enough real idiots out there that it's not necessary to wrap everyone that disagrees with you in straw and fetch one's trusty scythe.

MattG was a lot less clumsy about this a while back, really.

On Super Cheap Targets.

Free, really, if your gun nuttery is comorbid with a chemical dependency on Corn Flakes.

Yes, just hack up the box. It seems cheap cereal box cardboard allows for nice holes without tearing the way copy paper does. Wadcutters, like diabolo airgun pellets, work particularly well. The targets may need frequent changing, because the centers tend to fall out of tight groups, but for zero outlay, I'm not complaining.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Aguila Colibri.


These days, with ammunition availability being what it is, interest in .22 kits has spiked. As it turns out, Aguila makes a .22 kit for your .22. The Colibri is a .22 LR case loaded with priming compound and a 20-grain conical-point cylindrical bullet. Being significantly less powerful than, say, BulkFed .22LR - the muzzle energy difference is more than an order of magnitude - these rounds don't even play at cycling the action.

Judging from Midway's customer reviews, the Colibri (and its beefier cousin, the Super Colibri, which has received the Carteach0 treatment here) is something of a sleeper hit. It seems to fill two distinct niches: training and pest control. The former is the focus of my interest.

At less than 10 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, any backstop built strongly enough for airgun pellets will suffice. A mailer box stuffed with old clothing, shot end-to-end (about 14" of padding), with some paint cans and a heavily-insulated load-bearing wall behind it, worked just fine.
I can see a potential issue with mixing up .22LR and .22 Colibri rounds, which would of course render said backstop pretty useless. While unlikely, verifying each round's identity is probably sound.


As expected, the Colibri turned the Ruger MkI into a caliber .22 straight-pull bolt action (with automatic bolt return!) airgun. The average velocity from a 4.75" barrel was 428.5 fps, which is nearly the same as my Diana Model 25 in .177 (though with twice the projectile weight). I had much better luck than Carteach0, with an extreme spread of only 48.65 fps (for very generous values of 'only,' mind you...) and a standard deviation of 13.37. At back-of-garage ranges (20ft was all I had to work with) this doesn't appear to affect accuracy too terribly.

In a word, usable. As a short-range, minimum flinch, limited backstop training and practice round, it serves my needs, which is to say it shoots better than I can. My best group (offhand, slow-fire) measured .61" at 20 feet. That is more than sufficient to hone my skills, especially neglected ones like strong and weak hand shooting. If I ever get to Bullseye-level shooting (ha!) the round may prove insufficient.
The group was below and about a centimeter left of the point of aim. Knowing my personal tendency to skew the sights left, and that I was using a 6-o-cl, ock hold, this is probably shooter-induced.

The Ruger magazine did not play nicely with the Colibri. The rounds tended to curve in, such that the top round would be pointing several degrees down into the magazine. Passable results were obtained with no more than 5 rounds in the magazine. Fortunately, the Ruger seemed to be very forgiving, chambering rounds way out of the ideal feed position.

For optimal results, exuberant extraction is recommended, unless you want to incorporate type-III malfunction clearance drills into your practice regimen.

Compared to a .177 air rifle (10gr at ~430fps) the Colibri was slightly louder, and sounded like a quiet gunshot rather than an airgun. In an enclosed garage the air rifle is quite comfortable; the .22 round scratched the top edge of the comfort zone. If you're plinking in the garage, earplugs are a good idea.

Recoil? Oh, sure, there's recoil. And about 2mm of muzzle rise, even.

I like this round a great deal, for several reasons. It bridges the gap between dry-fire and range day, allowing you to apply what you've worked on without leaving the house. When training new shooters, you can let them practice fundamentals on a real gun, with extremely mellow noise and nearly nonexistent recoil. For very sensitive shooters, the difference between a .22 CB and a .22 LR is pretty noticeable, especially indoors. Furthermore, if you can shoot in the garage, you can avoid the usual range hubbub. Nothing distracts like someone lighting off a .357 SIG or a 7.62x25mm in the next stall.

Seasoned shooters can benefit, too. You're shooting with your actual gun, rather than a separate airgun. Thus, the same grip, sights, trigger pull, etc. apply. Michael Bane sounded off on this topic a while back. In fact,a carry gun with a .22 kit shooting .22 Colibri allows you to do everything not requiring semiautomatic fire in the comfort of your garage (allowing, of course, for backstop considerations. At some point in the future, I'm going to go all Box O' Truth on some surplus wallboard and see what 'backstop' really means in this case.) Being able to draw, press-out, and then confirm that there's a hole where it should be sounds like good reinforcement to me. And with the doors closed, no one outside the garage is likely to notice what chicanery you're up to.

It looks like I have yet another kind of ammo to stockpile, now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Ammo.

Wow, DPX is in stock!

Two observations:

1. How is paying an extra four bucks a box to have Clint Smith's logo on the box worth it?

2. How is 7.92x33mm Kurz handgun ammo? Metallic silhouette guys with T/C Contenders, maybe?*

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* I heard a fun rumor that Prvi Partizan still makes that stuff for some irregular forces in Lebanon that are still nursing some MP44s along. And I've seen some videos of guys with what I presume are transferrable bringbacks, so I guess that explains the demand stateside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Springs.

So apparently removing the ejector spring from a Tokarev is a great way to see if all that type-II malf clearance drilling you've been doing has paid off. Don't ask me how I know this. Wolff appreciates the business, though.

Furthermore, the Tokarev's "improvements" to the 1911's recoil spring arrangement are peachy keen so long as you don't need to remove the muzzle-end recoil spring retainer; say, if you want to replace the recoil spring so as to not have the gun batter itself to death (err, sooner than it would, anyway). Expect the use of vice grips, a flathead screwdriver, and a few points increase in blood pressure, as well as indentations in drywall matching whatever solid object is closest at hand.

I also took a queue from ToddG and tried applying a JohnO-type high-visibility sight. Using a Tactical Sight Enhancement Applicator (found in art supply stores erroneously labelled as a gold paint marker), the result stands out nicely against a target black. Wonder how it'll do at the range.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On Primers (Cont'd.)

Midway actually has percussion caps (in one size), .50 BMG primers, and EtronX primers. And there's where I burst into spontaneous and uncontrollable fits of laughter.

Now if ever there was a wall banger of a rifle idea, the Remington EtronX would qualify. In principle, the concept of an electronic trigger makes a modicum of sense, in applications where the presence of batteries (dead batteries, most noticeably) in one's bangstick was not life- (or trophy- ) threatening. If all that is needed to let off an electromagnetic sear is a closed circuit, the trigger can be tuned to an absurd degree without affecting function. Walther (unsuccessfully) and Morini (quite successfully) rolled an e-trigger into free pistols, and the majority of competitive paintball guns are equipped with them.

The reason the e-trigger works there is that it's just the trigger that's being messed with. The EtronX used proprietary primers in special runs of ammo for full-electronic ignition. So essentially you're trading a tiny decrease in lock time and a potentially nice trigger for a gun that relies on batteries and obscure-ass ammunition. Predictably, that went over about as well as a lead balloon. Worse, really, since one could melt down a lead balloon and cast bullets from it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dammit, JayG.

You're making me break the Tenth Commandment again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tru-Spec 24/7 Pants: First Impressions.

Good:

  • The small utility pockets are super handy, either as a discrete cell-phone carry, for a reload (sort of - the flap *barely* closes over a P226 mag - single stack is good to go), or as a shotshell carrier. Six 12-ga 2 3/4" shells stack snugly in the pocket, and the pants are not only the same price as a belt carrier, they keep you from getting arrested for public indecency! Talk about value.
  • Reinforced knees. I slay knees.
  • They seem to come Scotchguard-ed, so they resist water, coffee (both grounds and brewed), sugar water, and general grime and nastiness pretty well.

Bad:
  • The belt loops are a good inch wide. The gap in a Comp-Tac holster's belt tunnel is about 3/4". Anticipate some futzing when kitting out. (At least there's enough flex to make it happen somehow.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Winchester 97 Manual of Arms (Abridged).

After watching AGT's Winchester 97 Armorer's Course DVD, I found out a bunch of cool stuff that I didn't know previously about this old warhorse. I also took the receiver down to individual parts and put it back together again, removing all 100 years of accumulated carbon fouling in the process (there's dirty, and there's caked).


There are a couple of buttons on the receiver. 1, above, deactivates the carrier lock, so you can cycle the action without lowering the hammer first. 2 is attached to the cartridge stop. There's an identical assembly on the other side of the gun. What the button allows you to do is unload the magazine tube without cycling the gun. Press one and then the other to eject a single shell. Depressing both buttons simultaneously causes the magazine tube to enthusiastically disgorge its contents. The front of the trigger guard does not appreciate such tender ministrations (and don't ask me how I know this). One at a time is definitely the way to go.

One unique* feature of this gun is that all the lockwork is built into the shell carrier. The entire assembly hinges on a large pin (3 in the above picture). Everything, including the hammer, swings down when the gun cycles.


On the bottom of the carrier is the sear, which interfaces with the trigger guard at the back of the reciever. It turns out that the trigger stop (somewhat visible above) functions as a timing screw as well. Because the gun lacks a disconnector, it will fire when the gun closes. If the timing is off, the hammer may fall when the gun is not fully locked up, which would be bad. Therefore, the angle of the trigger vs. the sear lever can be adjusted with this screw.

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* I assume, since this is the only shotgun I've really handled, much less detail stripped.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On Heat.

The power went out at work the second time in a row; I'm guessing the local circuit blew from air-conditioner overload. Fortunately, we were just about to leave, so we were 90% squared away. In an uncommon display of fickleness, we had a 100 degree weekend a week after a 60-degree-and-rainy weekend.

I know the thesis of Guns, Germs, and Steel (I suppose I'll read it when my to-read list dwindles down to 15 or so), but I'll further a different theory.

I'm astounded that a place where it's a hundred-and-thirty degrees at night year round was the cradle of civilization, but it's no wonder Europeans have become so dominant in world culture. It's hard to devote time to science and art when you're napping all the goddamned time.

You're a Child of the Internet When...


...you open up Remington's website and you involuntarily hum the "dramatic prarie dog" theme.

Friday, May 15, 2009

On Painkiller and Achievements.

It just occurred to me while archive-diving Shangrila Towers (Blogroll +1 - god-DAMN) that Painkiller hit on the achievement concept back in 2004.

Painkiller mixes up the distilled classic FPS formula a bit by including the tarot card system; each card provides a minor ability that is either passive and contextually activated, or activated with a hotkey. The abilities are not terribly useful (with exceptions) but do have noticeable utility. Each level in that game features a bonus objective; the reward for completing these is a mildly useful tarot card.

What makes this very much like the achievement system is:
- The objectives are often far from the orthodox way to play. For instance, corpses drop 'souls' when they fade out; these give a minor health boost and charge up a temporary Killing Spree mode that is shockingly reminiscent of Rise of the Triad's take on God Mode. The objective in one level is to not pick up any souls, and since these litter the battlefield after an engagement, this is harder than it sounds.
- There is a difficulty spread from "happens accidentally" to "frigging impossible."
- The reward, while providing a tangible gameplay benefit, is limited enough that the primary reason for unlocking the bonus objective is ego points or completionism.

What you Get for Paying $90...

...for a steenking flashlight.

So like a maroon I fumble my shiny new Surefire 6P LED and drop it from waist level straight on the edge of the bezel, cracking the Pyrex lens window. Not finding the part anywhere on the Inter Nets, I shoot an e-mail off to Surefire's help desk, asking if this is covered under warranty.

"Just give us an address, and we'll send you a new bezel."

Not just the lens, the whole damn bezel. No questions asked, no copy of receipt or anything. They even apologized for the inconvenience. Heh!

Oh, and it still turns night into day and lasts forever on a single pair of rechargeable CR123s. Beats the hell out of a Coast LED Lenser, what with the anemic performance on a trio (how the fuck do you recharge three batteries efficiently?) of AAAs and bizarre crossthread-happy threading that often results in me pulling a flashlight body out of a belt carrier instead of a complete unit. Sometimes being a gear snob is a good thing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Top Five Cool-But-Impractical Firearms.

Oh Noes, A Meme. 'Cuz the cool kids are doin' it.

The AR-15 or AK Pistol

About the only reason I can think for these to exist is because someone realized they could legally get away with it. (AWB state folks: you're SOL.) Sure, the muzzle velocity drops to 1700 FPS and the flash is akin to a star-shell, but...okay, I'm out of ideas. Anything this can do, a real rifle could do better. It looks like fun...I guess that qualifies.

The Mare's Leg

Continuing with the above theme. Six rounds of .45 Colt from a twelve-inch barrel, slower and bigger than a single-action Colt. Other than playing Steve McQueen (and, hey, who doesn't want to do that?), there's no reason for this gun to exist. Not to mention the whole rifle-reciever-loophole-thing.

The Ruger 10/22 Gatling Kit

It's a machinegun, but completely legal!* This is probably the only time you'll ever see a crew-served .22. For those of you with $10k burning a hole in your pocket (and who doesn't), you could go whole-hog and get an actual (repro) gatling.

Smith & Wesson 3566

Because 9x19mm +P+, 9x21mm, and .38 Super (and, post-facto, 9x23mm Winchester) apparently don't get 'er done, S&W conjured up the 9x21.5mm .356 TSW cartridge and stuffed it in the Performance Center 3566 handgun. About the only thing good about this cartridge is that all the components and dies are exactly the same as every other 9x(something), so unless you run out of wackybrass it won't sting too badly.

The Thunder Five

Predating The Judge by about a decade, the Thunder Five is a .410 snubbie revolver. The optional .45/70 cylinder looks like pain fun. A solution in search of a problem, unless that problem is snakes, and like the Judge is tragically mistaken for a serious gun because "shotgun" in this case does not mean what you think it means.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thought of the Moment.

"Pirates! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of Ninjitsu, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

Monday, May 11, 2009

On Addiction.

Combine:

- One "Shoebox" sized mailer (surely as a gunnie you have mountains of cardboard boxes)
- Enough old pairs of pants to fill said box, thus creating a backstop
- One Break-barrel .177 air rifle of modest velocity (430 fps) but high quality (Diana Model 25)
- A whole bunch of targets (warning: PDF) and some method of affixing them to backstop (push-pins are mess free)
- Six meters of air space

Crackalicious. Why am I not shooting more air rifle?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Modularity.

I was cleaning the PDFs off my desktop the other day, and came across the UN's plan for Small Arms and Light Weapons control. Other than inducing a Red Curtain of Blood moment, it did mention South Africa's registration scheme (as an exemplar, of course...).

Under the current law, a shooter can register exactly one self defense firearm and four(?) sporting firearms. Obviously, two is one and one is none, so yeah. However, it gives the P250 and to an even greater degree the AR15 platforms a new level of utility.

Each of those platforms has a single serialized frame - the P250's frame/fire control assembly, or the AR15's lower receiver. In both cases, the caliber and ergonomics can be tweaked until the cows come home and legally it's still the same gun. Thus, your 'one self-defense arm' can be adapted to:

- Use whatever stocks of ammunition are available (.40's the only thing you can buy these days, but 9 is usually cheaper, to throw out an example)
- Tailor one's response (.223 nightstand gun, 6.8 deer gun, etc)
- Adapt for a different shooter (say your significant other has dramatically larger/smaller hands than you, so pull off the P250 'small' and attach the P250 'large' grips)

I'm sure there's other advantages. I'm a little disappointed* that the P250 frames are not one-size-fits-all - the full-size, compact, and subcompact seem to use different frames - but the AR is as modular as they get; there's no shotgun or .375 H&H upper (yet) but from 10.5" to 24" barrels and everything from .22LR to .50 Beowulf (and crossbow bolts) the AR will do anything a rifle needs to do.

It's a great way to make that 'three gun battery' do a lot more, too. And I suppose, if your S/O isn't gun savvy, you can slip a new upper receiver past them better than a whole new blaster...

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* I'm sure someone will bring up the dichotomy of begging and choosing...but it'd be an interesting design challenge to build one usable frame that could handle everything from a 6" open blaster down to a 3.5" subcompact and still be one registered serial number.

It's Vocabulary Time.

I finally stumbled across the text of that DHS "rightwing extremist" press release.

Other than the obvious problems, one little issue stood out, and for the record I'd like to set it straight. "Historic" is not the same as "historical." If (as I assume the good folks at DHS do) consider the election to be noteworthy in the annals of history (beyond the election of any other POTUS), the proper term is "historic." Perhaps continuous interchange of the two has rendered them synonymous in our living language. Perhaps we should make their, there, and they're similarly identical in usage, or accept the dropping of vowels to fit messages into a 250-character SMS text. This is not a "living language" so much as sloth-accelerated entropy.

"Historic" refers to a noteworthy event. "Historical" is an adjective describing something pertaining to history, regardless of its lasting significance. A "historical society" is a convocation of people interested in history. If the society in question becomes somehow noteworthy, it is a historic historical society. A historical presidential election is merely one that can be proven to have occurred. I suppose in this sense DHS is factually accurate. However, the context usually offered with the phrase suggests 'historic' would be more appropriate.

For a similar dichotomy, I recommend a certain scene in The Boondock Saints involving "sssssymbolism."

Monday, May 4, 2009

On Probability.

Over at Schneier on Security is an abolutely brilliant essay about the reaction to very rare but high-profile events. Two years old (holy crap that was fast) but damned good stuff.

...but the gist is this: Our brains are much better at processing the simple risks we've had to deal with throughout most of our species' existence, and much poorer at evaluating the complex risks society forces us face today.

RTWT.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Question Your Market Research.

Three words: Springtime For Hitler.

On Ramen.

As that one dude in Heat said, "Have some sympathy, brother, it's a substance abuse problem."

Truth be told, Ramen is the great enabler: not only is it goddamned tasty, but think about it this way: between $.50 a meal and, say, $6.33 after tax for a Chicken Fajita Burrito at Chipotle, you'll be up to your eardrums in discretionary cash in no time! And discretionary cash means making noise. There is no way this can fail.

The way to do it:

1. Get decent ramen. Maruchan cup o' noodles is bizarre. Nissin ramen is the Hi-Point of the ramen world - cheap, and it'll work (sometimes, maybe), but even at 10/$1 it's not a best buy. The real deal is Sapporo Ichiban, particularly Beef and Original flavor. You'll be high-rollin' at 3/$1, but you're now in Bersa territory - goes bang all the time, puts holes where you want 'em, and so forth.

2. Score some proper chili garlic sauce. This is the stuff. Do not accept inferior substitutes. The aformentioned is ambrosia, and was probably offered as a condiment at the Last Supper. I'd say get small quantities to keep it fresh, but it goes too fast for that to be a problem. Add one tablespoon or so to ramen, once prepared.

3. Acquire fresh green onions, preferably nice fat ones. Dice one into discs. Add to ramen. This step is surprisingly important - the bite cancels a lot of the salt, which is legion.

4. Prepare some cheap jasmine tea. The linked variety is crazy inexpensive and almost as good as, say, Peet's Jasmine Fancy. I like my greens rough and nasty, so YMMV.

5. ???

6. Profit.

Oh, there's that nutritional stuff to worry about, like the fact that one packet of Sapporo Ichiban has 475 calories and 45% of your RDA for sodium, but surely you have blistering metabolism or run cross country or something, right? Just drink lots of water and sacrifice a goat so you don't get kidney stones.

Made. Of. Win.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the double-barrelled bolt-action rifle. Looks like .375 H&H. Price in the high five figures.

WANT.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moar Dakka.

"Yep, shotguns kill everything." - Traditional saying, Wasteland Half-Life forums. (I feel really old now.)

Since apparently buckshot in a full-choke barrel is apparently a-ok, I loaded up the '97 with some full-load 00 buck (now with 50% more bruising!) in cruiser ready. I had no idea how much mag this gun had. Six in the tube is definitely sufficient dakka for most social purposes. Insert evil grin here. I should probably pick up some #1 buck; even in reduced-recoil form, that'll be crazy lots of dakka.

Oh, and by six I mean *exactly* six, with not a single millimeter of wiggle room. Absent significant (or, for that matter, any) shotgun experience outside this gun, I consider this more proof that they don't make 'em like they used to.

Quote of the Moment: OS Wars Edition.

Quoth PDB:

Much like handgun calibers, operating systems all suck.

Just in different ways.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Forza 2 Ramblings, Part Deux.

The 'test track' uber-version (whatever the long and twisty one is) is pretty much 3 minutes and 54 seconds of cornering at various speeds. Which is damned fun, if completely unforgiving. Don't zone out and interface with a wall at 60 mph. And if you do, whack the handbrake before impact so you mess up your rear bumper rather than your engine. Forza doesn't do day/night, and no one's gonna pull you over for a busted tail-light.

Factory Spec races may be my favorite category, since everyone drives the same exact vehicle; it's a pure test of skill. Mind you, part of the reason I got hooked on this damned game to begin with was the endless gearhead mischief one could attend to, so I suppose that makes me a hypocrite. That said, trading in your Viper Competition Coupe for a Porsche 914/6 is like playing in slow motion. Non-instantaneous gear shifting? An engine that takes a second or two to hit 6k RPMs? What is this malarkey? If anything, it's a vacation. The Porsche's got some rear-end slip, being RWD and all (more so with TCS and STS turned off), so it feels a hell of a lot like the Comp Coupe, just more sluggish. Since everyone drives the same car, referencing the fastest runthroughs on the scoreboard is a great 'cheat sheet' if some turn is kicking your ass (end serpentine on Silverstone, I'm looking at you). The guy that holds the 914/6 record on Silverstone has a bad ass Mondrian paint job. Check it out.

Why didn't I take up Manual transmission earlier? If anything, it adds a whole new level to vehicle management - far from being 'same as automatic, but you have to press buttons', gear-shifting becomes highly tactical, and a reference point for turn tactics - "downshift from 4 to 3 and ride it here; slide through and follow the tach up there; enforce diminishing turn radii in serpentine by taking final turn at 2;" that sort of thing. Made of win, it is, and a great inoculation for 'straightaway hypnosis.'

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Everyone,

Why have you not played Psychonauts yet?

Seriously, it's only $10 or so, and instantaneous if you do take the XBox Live route.

You will thank me.*

Sincerely,
Bunnyman


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* Only if you have a whimsical-yet-twisted sense of humor and would be unreasonably amused by blistering dialogue, brilliant art direction, re-appropriated psychobabble, and truly ecstatic luggage. One word: Lungfishopolis.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

On Flow (Psychology).

Zen (n.)

1. In Forza Motorsport 2, taking 26 test laps with the #23 Viper Competition Coupe, to the point that one is not consciously operating the controls but apparently has wired their optical response directly to their fingers.

Laguna Seca is a great track. Between the Andretti Hairpin and the Corkscrew you need to be paying attention. The hairpin needs to be taken conservatively - there's a strong temptation to power out of the first apex, but that'll fuck you up on the second apex. And the corkscrew is a 40mph turn at the end of a 150mph straight, so it's easy to get cocky and slam on the brakes too late, tossing you over the 'screw and into the dirt (if you're lucky) or the wall (if you're not).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tacticool Caffeine Consumption.

Because everything is better with rails. I suppose you have one shot of hot liquid, and then you can use the crenelated strike bezel to finish off any hajis that get within bad-breath distance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Because I Need More Expensive Hobbies.

I finally got my ass and the 1908-vintage Winchester 1897 (takedown model, 30", full choke) to the Skeet Trap range, and brought a co-worker. Between the two of us, 200 rounds of #7 1/2 birdshot disappeared in about five minutes (subjectively). Trap singles has the same 'one...more...round' appeal of, say, Strange Adventures In Infinite Space, except each new round totals $15.50 when range fees and shotshells are considered. (Bizarrely, the trap field has cheaper shotshells than Big 5's on-special stuff. So until I reload, I guess I know where my cash is going.)

For a centenarian, the old girl still gets it done, when the shooter steps up (ahem). 8 pounds even is a bit much to swing around, but ergonomically the gun is right on point - the elegant semi-pistol grip points intuitively. With a $20 Uncle Mike's recoil pad slipped over the stock I can shoot low-brass birdshot all day. (I keep hearing that fit is everything; my friend's shoulder doesn't get along as well with the gun as mine does, so perhaps that's what's going on.) The 4-5lb trigger is all sorts of manageable. Plus, 1897's just sound awesome, and all the moving parts popping out has a certain steampunk appeal to it. About the only bad thing about the design is that while taking down is easy, re-assembling is a bit fiddly - you have to feel around quite a bit to get the lugs lined up.

The fellow running the machinery recommended sighting down the barrel rather than following the bead, which works well, at least for deflection shots. Just park about a clay's width of daylight between the muzzle and the clay and good things seem to happen.

That said, with an average score of 10/25, I need to A) pay attention more and B) practice. Co-worker mopped up, with a high score of 20/25 on his first time out. Between pistol shooting and paintball, I don't know how much of that I can really justify these days. However, the co-worker and I are hopefully splitting on the reloading setup, so once we can actually get some fucking primers practice will be a viable option.

If BAG Day Was A Competition

Roberta X would win it this year.

And now Road to Perdition slips from the DVD shelf to the 'to-watch' stack.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Targets.

Constraining one's 'acceptable hits' area on a target does wonders for one's concentration. (And by 'one' I mean 'yours truly.' YMMV and all that.)

ToddG of pistol-training.com loves shooting 3x5 cards and 8" paper plates (or equivalents). When shooting a 3x5 card as part of a drill, only 100% hits are acceptable. These represent precision shooting. On the plates, 90% hits are acceptable, as long as you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone with speed. The FAST drill is both shurikens and lightning* and a good illustration of this philosophy.

What's crazy is that it goes both ways. Once one commits to getting 100% hits in a 3x5 card at distance X, one is more likely to get 100% hits in 3x5 card at distance X, while merely 'shooting a group' at distance X results in a 6" shotgun pattern. In my experience, at least. Similarly, I find that 'shooting the black' results in shots that all make their way into the black, but not a small group in the middle that should be more representative of a skill level I've demonstrated at said distance.

As a bonus, 3x5 cards and scotch tape are cheap. Plus, you can stick those 1" paster circles from Shoot-N-See packs (I never seem to use 'em otherwise) in the middle as a handy aim point. Thus configured, it looks an awful lot like The Black Spot, and what with shooting pirates *finally* being in vogue, that's pretty ninja.

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* Adj. 1. Worthy of kudos; awesome. Origin: Zero Punctuation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bitch-Slap: Defined.

ErnestThing lays one down on Diane Sawyer.

(Also, Blogroll +1. Great stuff here - check out his greatest hits, among other things.)

On STALKER.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is deeply divisive, and not just along the love it/hate it line. Both games are a combination of brilliant concept, unrealized potential, and shaky execution. People either love the concept enough to overlook the manifest flaws, are disappointed by what's clearly a good start, or just outright frustrated by its quirky gameflow.

For those of you that like it, but are frustrated by the unrealized potential (raises hand), the good folks at GSC Gameworld have released a pre-alpha from the "Oblivion Lost" days (2004). I'll post my reactions when I get 'er downloaded.

Incidentally, if you own Shadow of Chernobyl, check out the Oblivion Lost mod. It re-implements a lot of disabled features that are still in the code (all Hot Coffee style), which results in a much richer experience, even if it's distinctly rougher around the edges. Recommended!

On Exercise and Motivation.

It's all about carrot and stick. In my personal week of experience, Samuel Jackson Adams Boston Lager makes for a wicked good stick. Creamy enough to fill, crisp enough to refresh, rich enough to satisfy. Hell yes. Enough to make me want to punch out some push-ups; more proof that anyone who uses the word 'impossible' hasn't pondered the situation long enough...

(Yeah, those dudes had something to do with it. Word up.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life Imitates Art.

When Da Fed releases a press release ripped near-verbatim from Deus Fucking Ex, one might be a bit concerned.

H/T Alphecca.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Thought I Was Being Creative

Rarely is this actually the case. Witness Marko:

I believe that the desire to become President should automatically be a disqualifying factor.

Ah-yup.

Latin is Useful

And here's a useful Latin term: Abusus non tollit usum.

Latin for abuse does not take away use.

That is to say, just because something can be (or is) abused does not mean it should be banned, destroyed, denied. (That is abused while there also is prefectly legitimate use for it.)

Sound like anything you might know?

Thank you, Blunt Object.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Capsule Reviews.

The Professionals - Like The Wild Bunch, but less pessimistic. Good for fans of Lee Marvin, Vintage machineguns, or the Colt New Service. The action is brisk, the plot is twisted enough to be fun, and the characters have chemistry. What's not to like?

Duck, You Sucker - James Coburn as an IRA sapper and Rod Steiger as bandito make for a great odd couple. Slightly mislabelled as a Western, it veers hard and becomes a Mexican Revolution war movie. Pretty roundly awesome. Sergio Leone owns the epic, expansive Spaghetti Western. The action reminds me of no one so much as John Woo - it's easy to see the roots of the balletic 'heroic bloodshed' style. Hell, this movie has a very Blood Opera feel - strong friendships, intense emotions, massive body count...

Friday, April 10, 2009

On Chutzpah, Vietnam, and Zombies.

I was poking around my bloated e:\games directory the other day, and came across an old favorite: Heart of Evil. Actually, no. I was reminded of it when I read about Shellshock 2: Blood Trails on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Vietnam? Zombies? It seems random, but HoE's got enough chutzpah (and South Park-like racial sensitivity) to make it work like nuoc mam and rice.

For starters, Heart of Evil is possibly the only game to get the escort mission right, which is good because the ENTIRE GAME is an escort mission. You must drag Barney ("I'll be god-damned if I know what his last name is!") through all six episodes, both because your character lacks the basic mental processes needed to operate the motor vehicles that take you between hubs, and because you'll feel uncontrollable guilt and commit hara-kiri if he dies. This works where every single goddamned FPS/TPS has failed miserably before it. Since each episode is broadly hub-based, you can park Barney somewhere convienent, kill everything else at your leisure, retrieve Barn, and proceed. And Barney actually can handle himself in a fight. Sort of.

What really makes this series great is that it ladles the action on old-school, dropping HL's entire weapon line-up for a more Vietnam-flavored collection. While strictly speaking the balance is iffy, every weapon is fun enough that you'll want to use it, and not just because everything else is out of ammo (being a warzone, you're usually up to your solar plexus in all the common calibers, up to and including 40x46mm LV for your M79), but because it fills a niche. And speaking of niches...

The enemies neatly fall into three categories: human, zombie, and nuisance. The humans act much as they did in Half-Life, which is of course a good thing; for some reason, there's both good Americans (who fight alongside you with the standard "walk with me/park your ass" HL NPC control) and bad Americans (it's complicated) along with the 'Cong. Zombies soak *amazing* amounts of damage (try 3 full AK mags...to the head), so blast weapons aren't so great, but dumping hundreds of bullets works; humans go down easier, but actually hurt you at range, so you can't stand there with the trigger down and dish it out. Ferreting out shooters with explosives works satisfyingly well, especially when a black-pyjama'd corpse arcs lazily through the air from a hidey-hole. Satisfaction! The enemies are surprisingly balanced; both are equally threatening, but in totally different ways - you try to maintain distance from zeds while hosing them continuously, and you try to keep hard things between you and humans while putting accurate fire and/or explosives in their direction. Things get really fun when more than one is in a battle at one time - up to four-way battles. Do you hold back and let one side get wasted, or do you try to keep one side alive (and thus dealing damage) long enough to weaken the other, so both are easy pickings? Being sneaky is beneficial; since everyone hates you the most, having two sides on you simultaneously is a world of pain.

Being a blend of Half-Life, Apocalypse Now, and early Resident Evil, episodes C-F are chock-full of bizarre key puzzles and RPG-like flourishes. If you put your crosshair on a usable object, you get a subtitle ('door,' 'roast moose,' 'useless key'). Furthermore, there's expository text lying around (notes, diaries, etc.). This stuff is displayed using the scrolling-text function used for, among other things, the opening credits, so it scrolls past in real-time at a fixed speed (plenty slow enough to read), so you need to park your ass in a quiet corner for a while, but it's a huge boost to atmosphere. Plus, the writing's flat-out hilarious. The insane key puzzle mechanic falls flat when you have no idea whatsoever where the next quest item is, which is compounded by the labyrinthian quality of these maps. It's a lot more fun when you know where to look, truthfully; some mechanics are dead and buried for a reason. Still, there's a walkthrough if you need it.

So yeah, it's worth digging out your old copy of Half-Life for, or downloading a steamless version (I don't think it plays nice with Steam, and anyway the oldschool version's a lot less obnoxious).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

.221 Askins.

For all you folks that think 'gaming the rules' is a modern phenomenon:

"In 1937, while preparing for the National Matches, I developed the .221 Askins. This was a .22 caliber automatic which fired a .22 centerfire ctg. The NRA rules in '37 stipulated that "any centerfire caliber" could be fired in the Nationals. At that time the only useable centerfire cal was limited to the revolvers. You could fire the .32 S&W long which was the smallest caliber and one yet accurate enough to compete with. I concluded if I could develop a .22 centerfire I'd have the boys over a barrel."

"The .221 Askins was the 5.5 Velo-Dog ctg shortened in length to exactly the .22 long rifle casing; the bullet was the standard .22 long rifle leaden slug at 40 grains. The Velo-Dog was designed to be fired in a French revolver; it had a rimmed casing. My gunsmith and I ran every case through the lathe and reduced the diameter of the rim to the same specs as the .22 long rifle rimfire shell."


Whole thing here.

On Enfields.

It's an Enfield No.1 Mk.3 that shoots little tiny groups all day for dirt cheap.

WANT.

Monday, April 6, 2009

On Handguns and Killing.

One of these days, I should make up some flashcards with the following handguns pictured, one on each:

1. Smith & Wesson Model 36
2. Glock 34 with a 2-pound trigger, Warren Tactical sights, and strategically-placed skateboard tape
3. SIG P226, West German, Bone Stock
4. T/C Contender rebuilt into an IHMSA open gun (metallic silhouette)
5. Remington XP-100
6. Hämmerli Model 208
7. Remington Rand M1911A1, circa 1943
8. Browning Buckmark with a C-More sight (hooray for Steel Challenge!)

Next, I should find one of those 'the only purpose of handguns is to kill', show the cards one by one, and ask if the design purpose of that firearm was, in fact, to deliver lethal force; and furthermore, if so, is the handgun suitable in present form for said task. The results may be instructive.

Quote of the Moment.

Just To Be Sure edition.

"If I saw that coming out of an alley in the middle of the night, I think it would be legal to keep firing until the autopsy started." - James R. Rummel

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Because I just finished Twin Peaks.

David Lynch's A Goofy Movie.

On Extractor Placement.

Wow, Carteach0's got a whole bunch of cool stuff on his YouTube channel.

Witness:



Check out that extractor! Also, the nearly straight-in feed angle.

I Do Not Think You Know What That Word Means.

Wikinews serves up yet another Inigo Montoya moment.

IANAE*, but I'm going to have to question your organization's commitment to 'free market economics' if you blacklist tax havens.

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* I just play one on the internet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Gordon Biersch Czech-Style Pilsner.

I'm liking the product produced by messrs. Gordon and Biersch more and more.

As pilsners go, this is definitely on the full-flavored side, with a heavier-than-normal body and a satisfying dose of bitter hops. It fills the gap between lawnmowing beer like Tsing Tao and heavy ales like ESB. As a bonus, unlike some lagers, the hop content is stout enough that it still refreshes after it's dropped closer to room temperature. (I drink slowly.) Plus, like their other products, they drop into the $1/bottle range in case form. As bang for the buck goes, this is a very good investment.

What He Said.

"Gun Control is not a Matter of Statistics"
RTWT.

OK, I'll add one more thing: combine his thesis with the principle of 'when in doubt, err in favor of liberty' and the proper course of action becomes obvious. For just about every gun-blogger, this is second nature, but it seems that many politicians (I would say 'most,' but the Blue Dogs have made me slightly less pessimistic as of late) find this concept alien. So do many of the voters who put them in power.*

The United States is a polyglot meta-culture with a drug and gang problem. We seem to do multiculturalism better than some, but there is still tension. The reason I'm hesitant to fully agree with the Libertarian ideal of legalizing drugs is that they are a social blight. The late 80's/early 90's violent crime spike is directly attributable to the crack cocaine epidemic. Gangs are universally bad news. Get rid of those two problems and the crime rate would plummet overnight.

(h/t Syd.)

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* I don't mean the Evil Strawman Liberal, because I don't buy that any more than the Evil Strawman Conservative. Whole 'nuther rant, right there.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On Malf Clearance.

Good news: All that dry-practicing doublefeed clearance paid off. I can clear a spontaneous type 3 like a motherfucker.

Bad news: See above.

(All kidding aside, I discovered a good use for those molded-plastic dummy rounds. The rims break a bit too fast, but when they do break the sumbitches won't come out of the chamber without some gentle caressing. So my "how do I spontaneously induce a type 3 to practice clearing them?" question appears to have been answered.)

On Caliber Wars.

Giggle Button, meet Robb.

10 Print "Begin Flame war"
20 GOTO 10

Holy Rollin'.

Tam links up some genuine Vatican shooting iron.

(And that is a Dundee of a bayonet.)

On Madlib.

The dude can assemble a beat. Good lord.

(Parental Advisory: cussin' an' shit.)








Oh, and Quasimoto is Madlib's alter ego, with his voice pitched up. So if you see a track by Madlib "feat. Quasimoto" (or vice versa)...yeah.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Primers and Panic Buying.

I'm checking the small pistol primer page daily on MidwayUSA, and, like every day since the election, it's a wall of 'out of stock, no backorder.' This is expected. What's not expected is that the 'expected back in stock' dates keep backpedaling, so either the primer companies are completely backlogged and can't make their committments, or people clean out Midway's entire primer stock in about an hour and a half.

These days, I wouldn't be surprised. In unrelated news, everyone I bump into these days seems to be wearing a sinister glint and a goatee. Strangely, the retail customers are more logical than normal.

On .327 FedMag.

I was perusing the Real Guns archives recently, since I haven't checked them out in a while, and came across an article on the Ruger SP101 in .327 Federal Magnum. The Federal load was quoted as 100 grains at 1500 feet per second. Sound familiar? How about 85 grains at 1400 feet per second (the reduced recoil load)?

Yep, they went and packed the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round into a revolver.

I'm not entirely sold about the effectiveness of such a round in social situations, but now I really want that gun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Dance.

I realize it's a long damn way from being law, but for all the Golden State gunnies: check this out.*

It's been referred to the unfortunately-named Committee for Public Safety, here.

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* As an aside, do Legislators get to pick their bill numbers? HR1022, HR45, AB357, 30-06 signs...

On Calling Shots.

You know what's cool?

Firing a five-round group, reading the front sight, imagining the shape of the group, and then pulling the target in and seeing exactly what you pictured.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On EDF2017.

I got a sudden urge to dust off my copy of Earth Defense Force 2017.

The operative term here is "cathartic bliss."

Strictly speaking, this game is a mess. With 150 weapons, they basically chucked the concept of balance out the window (arc welder dealing zero damage? wtf?). As far as I can tell, they made up as many variations on the basic types (assault rifle, shotgun, grenade, rocket, etc) as they could think up, utility be damned. Framerates are wildly unstable, and for a game that runs at 20 fps the graphics would not impress on the PS2 (but for the sheer mass of objects on screen). The difficulty curve is wildly unstable, until ramping into the stratosphere for the last act. And vehicles? Why did they bother, exactly? When a mech traverses at half a degree per second, or a helicopter's weaponry is impossible to aim, one would be better served staying on foot.

What this game reminds me of is, of all things, Syndicate. Perhaps with some Rampage thrown in.

Seriously. You're tossed into a cityscape with bottomless firepower and plenty of stuff to destroy, and no one cares one iota about collateral damage. Is it tactially prudent to level the five city blocks between you and the objective? To hell with prudence, does it sound like fun to level every skyscraper on the map with hand-grenades, because you can? Yes, you can drop an apartment block with anything explosive, as long as it's close enough. Hilarity ensues. Especially with low-res wackyphysics in place.

Oh, and the enemies are a combination of giant insects and giant robots, two things that need nothing but lots of killin'. Never mind the torrents of (awfully-rendered) green blood or *huge* explosions when the killin' is accomplished. Oh yes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On AIG.

I find it hard to be offended when my bullshit-meter is pegging. Look, guys, I like to think that I have some critical thinking skills left. I would like to be informed of a development in neutral terms and form my own reaction, rather than be informed of how I should feel and then provide limited reasons as to why.

Or, I don't trust you weaselly, emotionally manipulative bastards.

In the interests of fairness, the NRA does the same thing when memberships are up for renewal. Dammit, guys, I don't like giving you money when you do that.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Flinching is Like Alcoholism

You never stop being a flincher, you're just sober for a while.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On Big Dots and Results.

I finally got the Big Dots out to the range.

Result? Nice, normally-sized group, about four inches high. Since I haven't loc-tited the rear down, the wee allen wrench supplied can loosen the setscrews and allow for horizontal adjustment with your own fingers. Knocking the group over two inches was no big deal. I have no idea how i'm going to adjust vertically, since there's no front sight to file down, and the rear is not going anywhere vertically.

Clearly, they aren't an impediment to accuracy, at least at my own level of competence. In fact, they block out a lot less of the target, so they're a lot easier to use.

On Extractors.

They might break, eventually.* This one had 10,800 rounds on it, and the hook broke clean off.

The good news is that replacing them is a piece of cake. On milled-stainless slides, the extractor sits in its own slot. The extractor is one piece of metal, and a separate spring provides tension through a pin.

To remove, simply stick an appropriately-sized flathead screwdriver between the pin and the extractor, rotate 45 degrees, and lift the extractor out from the breech end.


Good Lord is it nasty in there. Q-tips and Hoppe's, away!

Re-installation is a snap. Re-insert the pin, and wiggle the extractor into place.

From now on I'm stocking replacement extractors and firing pins. No point gettting caught with my pants down.

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* First sight replacement, then a broken firing pin, and finally a busted extractor. Problems all come at once.

On Firing Pins and Dry Fire, Denouement.

The firing pin is pretty straightforward to install. First, stick the firing pin spring on the pointy end. The firing pin spring is tapered on one end; the skinny part goes on the firing pin - it should take a bit of effort to push on, and stay put once installed. Insert the firing pin safety lock, half-moon side backwards, and push the lock in while inserting the firing pin. The scalloped sections need to be up. If the pin is in the proper orientation, it will snap into place.


The trickiest bit is re-inserting the roll pin. The pin needs to be in the forward position (as through striking the primer) - push it forward with a punch or something. The roll pin will fall into place up to the striated section, at which point one merely needs to bludgeon it into place. (The striations came off in tiny metal beads - this really is a one-use item.)

On John Adams.

(The miniseries, not the man.)

I'm glad I spaced the discs out, because if Netflix dropped all three in my mailbox simultaneously I would be very much inclined to shoot up...err, watch them in one marathon 8-hour session. Between this, From the Earth to the Moon, and Band of Brothers, HBO has evidently found a way to freebase televisual crack cocaine.

Really, there's nothing about this series to complain about. The performances are electrifying, the visual design is seamless to my untrained eye, the pacing is breakneck.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

On CZ52 Parts.

Makarov.com was a great source for CZ52 parts, but they discontinued their online storefront a while back. Fortunately, it looks like you can get Harrington firing pins and rollers straight from the source.