Monday, May 25, 2009

Tru-Spec 24/7 Pants: First Impressions.


  • 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.

  • 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.


* 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... 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.


- 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...


* 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.


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.