Sunday, April 23, 2017

Can't gather any moss...

I have commented before that I've finally reached that age where People Magazine has somehow turned into Who Are These People? Magazine. So it was a moment of relief in the checkout line the other day to realize "Hey! I recognize the dude on the cover of People!"...

...followed by the immediate bringdown of realizing the only reason I recognize the dude on the cover of People is because he's been dead ten frickin' years now.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today in History: Pax No More

So, people tend to confuse the Pax Romana with the period of history during which the Roman Empire existed, but that's not really how it worked.

The late days of the Republic and the period of civil wars that ended with Octavian as Augustus were anything but peaceful. The salad days stretched across most of the first two centuries AD, when transfers of power were mostly peaceful and when they weren't, they were at least brief and disrupted the life of the ordinary people of the empire very little. What wars there were happened out on the frontiers and Rome was generally victorious. The rule of law more or less functioned properly, and the aqueducts ran on time.

Omens of future problems came with the reign of emperor Joaquin Phoenix who (after going crazy and arranging for the murders of a bunch of senators) was not actually stabbed in the Coliseum by Russel Crowe, but rather was strangled in the tub by his wrestling coach and personal trainer.

There was a brief period of semi-stability under the increasingly silly and neurotic Severan Dynasty before the wheels came off in the Year of the Six Emperors, which kicked off the Crisis of the Third Century, a period when two centuries' worth of chickens came home to roost in Rome.

The crisis began when Maximinus Thrax, a "Barracks Emperor" who completely lived up to his anime villain name, got folks fed up. Some younger, well-to-do Romans in North Africa stabbed the local tax collector to death and talked the provincial governor into declaring himself emperor. Since the dude was an octogenarian, he nominated his son as his co-augustus.

Unfortunately the governor of the next province over not only remained loyal, but was a better general. The rebel army got crushed in the field at Carthage, killing the son (Gordian II), and on hearing the news, the dad pulled an Aaron Hernandez to avoid capture and execution.

On this date in 238AD, the senate then appointed a couple of elderly senators, Pupienus and Balbinus, with good military histories and prominent committee memberships (most importantly, both were ranking members of the What the Hell Do We Do About Emperor Maximinus Thrax Committee) as co-emperors.

This proved about as popular with the general populace of Rome as would the Senate suddenly appointing John McCain and Lindsey Graham as co-presidents to unseat Trump. The PR problem became apparent when the new co-emperors couldn't appear in public without people throwing stuff at them, and so the senate named the Justin Bieber-looking 13-year-old grandson of the recently-hanged Gordian I as Gordian III.

Anybody with a room temperature IQ could see that Balbinus and Pupienus were still in charge and the barely-pubescent Gordian was a figurehead, but the populace of Rome was mollified by this move, which doesn't speak much for their collective smarts.

Meanwhile, Maximinus Thrax was making his way from his home base in the Balkans toward Rome. He arrived at the city of Aquilea but, rather than welcoming him and resupplying his troops, the city shut its gates and forced a siege. With the senatorial army led by Pupienus closing in from Rome and supplies growing short, Maximinus Thrax wound up getting shanked by his own troops, along with all his family and staff.

With the guy with the anime villain name dead, McCain and Graham naturally started quarreling and plotting against each other. Before it could come to open war, the Praetorian guard killed them both and left Justin Bieber lookalike Gordian III sole emperor at the end of the year.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Seeming Dichotomy...

"Tam, you're so inconsistent! Just a few weeks ago you were talking about how if someone took a basic four-hour class, stuffed an LCP in a pocket holster every day, and made it to the range quarterly to make sure they still knew how it worked, they'd be way ahead of the game. 

Then yesterday you're talking about working on speed and buying yourself a timer and shaving half a second off your concealed draw to a 3x5 card. What gives? Which is it?"
I don't think there's a dichotomy at all. I think if you do all the stuff in the first example, you have probably immunized yourself against most sorts of random crime you're ever likely to encounter.

However you probably also don't have "gun owner" or "firearms enthusiast" as part of the terms you'd use to identify yourself and you probably aren't reading this blog. If you are reading this blog, it is very likely that those are terms you use to identify yourself and shooting is probably something you do for fun and more often than once in a very great while. If that's the case, wouldn't you want to be better at it?

I see the guys come into Indy Arms Co. two and three times a week, and they've been coming in since the store opened, and they're still scattering bullet holes all over a B27. They haven't improved one bit, and that's just foreign to me.

I mean, if you're only popping off a box of ammo every three months to make sure the gun works, that's one thing, but to grind out two or three hundred rounds of ammo a week and never see any improvement in your ability to hit what you're aiming at? At what point do you ignore your ego and admit maybe you might could take some lessons?

Such a deal!

CDNN is a gun store in Texas that is also known as a purveyor of closeout and overstock merchandise that they apparently buy from manufacturers for dimes on the dollar and sell off via catalog sales. If you're looking for one of that limited run of Millard Filmore Commemorative Grade III engraved 28ga over-and-under shotguns from two years ago, chances are that CDNN has the remainder of the lot.

 So, I haven't mentioned it because I wanted to wait until a check cleared so I could buy one, but CDNN currently has Sig Sauer P250 Compacts in .22LR for $289.99. Not only do these things make use of regular P250/P320 holsters, but the fire control unit in the rimfire gun is the same as the FCU in the centerfire guns. This means that you could buy the .22 compact for a practice/play gun and a Caliber X Change kit in, say, subcompact .45ACP format...

Local News: Hard(ish) Target & Start Snitchin'.

Another attempted gun store burglary using carjacked vehicles as battering rams happened last night here in Indy. They knocked the little entry foyer half off the front of Bradis guns out on the southwest side of town, only to be confronted with another, inner hardened steel entry door.

Like anybody raised on Hollywood, they tried to shoot that lock off, which appears to have only put a hole in the doorknob. Stymied, they then fled in the non-battering-ram vehicle.

One supposes that a larger vehicle and a more judicious choice of ramming points on the rather large half frame building and they probably would have made entry, but if they were smart, they'd have jobs and could just buy guns.

The easiest way to prevent crooks from using carjacked cars to break into gun stores would be to shoot them when they were trying to carjack the cars, of course, but I doubt Mayor Hogwarts will stumble across such an obvious solution.

Last night Mayor Hogswatch was giving the State of the City address and proposing a gun crime snitch line. See an illegal gun, call it in, and get $750 if they bring charges against the guy. "Hello, yes, gun snitch line? I see a guy with an illegal gun. Where? Right here at 38th & Post. He's sticking it in my face and telling me to get out of the car."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4/19, Part III...

"People like the militia have a whole bunch of crazy ideas... However, they have two pieces of truth in all the craziness. One is 'Look at what happened at Waco. And the government hid its mistakes and concealed its misdeeds.' And the other piece of truth is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms made this attack on Waco because Koresh's followers had guns. And the militias have guns. So the militias have these two kernels of truth in all their craziness about our government: Waco, and the fear that the government will come after them because they have guns." -Dr. Alan Stone

4/19, Part II...

On this day in 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began...

4/19, part I...

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world"

Happy Patriot's Day to each and every one of y'all. :)

Slow is slow. Fast is fast. Smooth is smooth.

So, the other day I ran across a defense of the old aphorism:
"Lately, I’ve seen a lot of criticism over “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”  I think part of it is that a lot of folks have seen, heard, or possibly even said that line without actually knowing what it meant."
I can assure oddball that many, if not most, of the critics are well aware of the meaning. The problem is with how it gets used in the broader firearms self-defense community.

My first class with ToddG was the single biggest light bulb moment of my shooting career. You see, actual performance tracking is not something you ran into in the defensive shooting community very often back in the day, and it's still not super common.

On the one hand you have the people who hit the range every month or so and spray an even distribution of holes across a B27 target and then excitedly point out the lucky ones that "would've hurt that dude for sure!" On the other hand you have the guys who profess their martial skills with the gun fu, and can indeed keep a reasonable group on a B8 repair center, but seem to be nowhere to be found when there's a timer around.

The best contribution Gamer culture makes to shooting is the lack of fear of people finding out how much you suck. It's the main reason a lot of folks avoid action pistol shooting or metrics-heavy classes: It's easy to talk like a ninja on the internet if nobody can look up your scores. If you compete, or attend the sort of classes where metrics are involved, your ego may take a hit when you find out that you're maybe not where you thought you'd be in the standings.

And the thing about getting faster is it's not a thing that happens naturally. It's a skill that needs to be learned, the same as accuracy. In fact, it is a harder skill to learn. Shooting accurately with a pistol in slow fire is not that difficult: Line up a good sight picture and then control the trigger straight to the rear without disturbing that sight picture and your bullet will impact right where you want it to, every single time.

And you do need to be smooth! Herky-jerky movements all add up to extra time. Watch a USPSA GM draw their pistol: There's no jerking or hunching of the shoulders. When an experienced IDPA competitor is reloading from concealment, their hand only goes far enough under their fishing vest to acquire the spare magazine, rather than blowing past the mag to dramatically clear the cover garment and then come back to the reload.

But shooting fast? You only learn how to do that by shooting fast; you won't know even know what fast is unless you feel it. And to do this, you have to give yourself permission to miss in practice. (There's a reason why dropped shots on the 3x5 of the FAST are a two-second penalty while you only lose a second for each dropped shot on the 8" circle.)

So if you're sitting there doing the same reps slowly and smoothly over and over, waiting for the magic of speed to somehow come along, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. I've heard more than one trainer mention that people don't need to be encouraged to shoot fast in a gunfight; they do that all by themselves. Well, the middle of a gunfight is a lousy time to try and pick up a new skill, right?

Me? I'm slow, but I'm getting faster. I managed a personal best on a clean FAST from concealment yesterday. I think I've got at least another second I can shave off that time just in the draw and reload...

We are diminished...

RIP, WeaponsMan...

One of the smartest and most clueful writers on firearms and history on the whole of the interwebs has passed away.

Kevin and I were infrequent email correspondents, and he was always complimentary and encouraging of my work. My last trip up to New Hampshire, we'd intended to meet for a beer and to shoot the breeze about guns and history, but a combination of procrastination and a bit of feeling under the weather caused me to put it off until the next trip.

Don't put things off until the next trip.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It is finished.

Yesterday morning saw me at Marion County Fish & Game bright and early, with three hundred rounds of 9mm ammo and a grim determination to finish up the Wilson's ordeal so I could clean it.

This is weird. I normally don't care if a gun is filthy, but for some reason I want the Wilson to be all shiny and pretty.

And soon enough it was done. There were no malfunctions of any type to report, and I'd even saved that box of 124gr HST jacketed hollow points for last, to see if they'd function in maximum filth and dryness. Of course they did.

This gun has run like a sewing machine for 950 rounds of Winchester 124gr NATO Q4318 FMJ, 950 rounds of Speer Lawman 147gr FMJ, and 100 rounds of Federal 124gr HST ammunition with no cleaning or lubrication. The only malfunction was an underpowered near-squib round of Q4318 that left the empty case in the chamber. That one doesn't count against the gun, since it would have done the same in any other pistol. Nice QC, there, Winchester.

Would I trust this gun enough to carry it? Hell yes. Sample of one, and everything, but it's as reliable as any Glock or Sig I've tested, and way more so than the Canik or the Steyr were.

I'll take it apart this afternoon and get some closeups of the filth.

Overheard in the Office...

RX: "What's wrong?"

Me: "I can't find it!"

RX: "Can't find what?"

Me: "Mas Ayoob sent me a review copy of his book, and I can't find where I put it."

RX: "Did you open the envelope?"

Me: "I read the book! 'Did you open the envelope?' That's a little harsh, don't you think?"

RX: "Well, sometimes people send you things and you don't open the envelopes."

Me: "They could be bombs!"

RX: "From Massad Ayoob?"

Me: "Good point."

RX: "Besides, that was long enough ago that any anthrax or smallpox would have died by now."

Hey, look!

A Brief History of the .38 Special as a People-Shootin' Cartridge, Part I...

Monday, April 17, 2017


I'm currently watching The Expanse (only three episodes in) and really digging it. That's some great big classic sci fi, there.

Speaking of which, TJIC has his SF novel ready for printing. Sample chapters are available for the reading. I liked what I read enough that I'll go ahead and order a copy of both books in dead tree.

Outdoors, on my own...

Yeah, I spent some time outdoors in Vegas, but my schedule was on rails, it was all in a group, and that desert landscape always feels a little more like a movie set than actual outdoors. I guess it's the lack of trees and grass, which are normally the two most handy indicators that you're not inside anymore.

Today, though... Today is supposed to be chamber of commerce weather here in Hoosieropolis. Sunny and seventy-something degrees. Time to drop the top on the Zed Drei and drive out to Marion County Fish & Game and see if I can't finish out the last three hundred rounds on the Wilson test, and then maybe pedal the Broad Ripple SUV up into Broad Ripple Proper and get lunch at Brugge or the Brewpub or Public Greens.

I need some Vitamin D.