Friday, February 14, 2003

Fusilier Pundit pointed me to this post, where a reader of Daily Pundit is asking for advice. Seems that they're about to buy their first firearm.

Some people left some comments, and I can tell that they really know their stuff. Every comment has something of merit in it, but I can tell right off that they haven't had much experience teaching someone who's never fired a gun before.

See, it's like this. Let's say that someone says "Glock M20", and the the experienced shooter will see something like this in their heads. If someone should mention "10mm auto" then they'll see this. All of the pertinent info right behind their eyeballs.

Most non-shooters have only experienced guns through the movies. Mention a Glock M20, a Colt 1911 or even a .357 Magnum revolver and something completely different will occur to them.

This doesn't mean that you can't introduce someone to the shooting sports, it's just that you have to approach it in a different way than you would if you're surrounded by people who've already shot their 100,000th round. It would help things along if you restrict yourself to some very basic concepts.

Revolver or Autoloader?
This is the first thing that a new shooter has to decide. Most people have an opinion about which one is better, but it's important to keep your opinions to yourself. What works for you might just not work for someone else. If you think that revolvers are antiquated designs that are clearly inferior to an autoloader and your student wants to buy one, then it's part of your job as a mentor to suck it up and give them your support for the decision. Conversly, if you think that autoloaders are just too complicated for a new shooter and they're going to buy one, then you should let them know that it will certainly be adequate to protect them. Be polite, be supportive, point out the positive aspects of their decision.

Big or Small?
This all depends on whether the gun is going to be an in-house defender or if it's going to be carried concealed. Larger guns are easier and more comfortable to shoot, and it's easier to improve your shooting skills with them. Both are important considerations for someone just starting out.

But let's say that the need to carry is immediate (woman stalked by an ex-boyfriend, or a small business owner who's been attacked when depositing the day's receipts). Then the overriding concern is defense, and the gun should be small enough to be carried at all times. Carrying a gun around when you haven't had time for adequate training isn't the best idea in the world, but being helpless before someone determined to hurt you is even worse.

The hardest thing for experienced gun fighters is to ignore their own preferences when it comes to caliber. Everybody has their favorite, the one man-stopper they're SURE is the best possible round. I've had many shooters tell me that I'm a slack-jawed idiot because I won't favor their own pet caliber over all others. But the instructor has to think of the needs of his students before all else and put his own emotions away.

As a general rule of thumb I'd suggest that you find the largest caliber that your student is comfortable shooting as long as it's not any more powerful than a .357 Magnum (calibers larger than the .357 tend to overpenetrate). Remember that any gun in a gunfight is better than no gun at all, even if it isn't something you'd use yourself.

What Not to Do
Just as there are things that an instructor is supposed to do there are things that they should avoid. Besides trying to force them to conform to your idea of the best way to do things the only real danger is overloading them with details. Like I mentioned at the start of the post, specific manufacturers and model numbers mean absolutely nothing to the new shooter. It just sounds like babble to them, and many of them will assume that your just showing off with your superior knowledge. Also keep in mind that all of these subtle differences between the different guns might loom large in your mind but they're insignificant and unnoticable to someone who's never fired a gun before.

Good luck, everyone. Remember that the more people who shoot the better. If we can encourage an interest then it's all for the best.

Try to be a nice person and other people usually try and give you the shaft. It's unfortunate but true.

I think that one of the nicest guys on the InterNet is DavidMSC. In this post David considers starting a blogger coffee mug collection. If you should have persoanlized coffee mug (from your business, say) you might think about shipping him one. He can be reached at

It seems that everyone is interested in listing the contents of their emergency kits. It's a really good idea to plan for the worst (and I've had emergency kits around for the last 20 years or so), but it's better late than never.

If anyone should happen to be interested, here's mine.

What's in the Car 24/7/365
2 blankets
sleeping bag
folding shovel
flashlight w/batteries
first aid kit
full tank of gas

What's in the House
1 lbs. margerine (most concentrated emergency rations I can think of)
3 lbs. home made beef jerky (mmmm, terayaki flavor)
2 gallons (5 liters) bottled water
20 lbs dry dawg food (I can eat it, too. And the package says that it helps keep my teeth clean!)
waterproof/windproof matches
winter clothing
water purification pills
water filter (small camping model)
frame backpack

What's in the Gun Safe
9mm autoloader
3-15 round magazines for 9mm (loaded with Winchester Silvertips)
Swedish Ag 42 autoloading rifle
200 rounds for the Ag 42 loaded into stripper clips
Winchester 1300 Defender 12 gauge pump-action shotgun
100 shells loaded into bandoleers (35 magnum deer slugs, 50-00 buck magnum loads, and 15 loaded w/#4 birdshot)

I figure I could just strap on the guns and throw everything into the trunk. After using the restroom and leashing up the dawgs I'd be ready to go. Elapsed time-10 minutes.

Or I could pack everything, clean and oil the guns, take a last shower and eat a good meal before leashing up the dawgs and leaving. Elapsed time-1 hour.

Or I could strap on the handgun, drape bandoleers loaded with shotgun ammo over my shoulders, grab the matches and margerine, load the shotgun with magnum 00 buck, leash up the dawgs and leave. Elapsed time-two minutes.

Well, there you have it. My bug-out kit and my strategy for leaving. When I read the list of items the other bloggers have in their kits they seem to be rather light on the guns. This is, in my opinion, silly in the extreme. What happens if you barely have enough to keep you and your family alive through the cold dark night and some guy with a gun wants to take it from you? How could you possibly stop him?

If you were near someone like me when the armed bozo shows up you wouldn't have to worry about it. But we can't be everywhere at once.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Right now, just this minute, as I type this, I'm staring at an ad in the Shotgun News for a Russian M44 Carbine in excellent condition for $44.00 USD.

That's not a typo. I said an almost-new gun for $44.00. Keep in mind that it will probably cost you about $100 bucks more to actually get the gun. But a perfectly fine, working bolt action for less than $150.00?

Most surplus guns are weapons bought long ago by a government to equip their armed forces, and most of them were bolt action. They warehouse most of them, storing them against need. When technology maves on by and renders those guns obselete they usually sell them off to whoever wants them, and they take just a few bucks per gun from the dealer. After all, getting something for them is better than getting nothing at all.

These guns are perfectly fine for either target shooting or hunting. The M44 mentioned above is chambered for the potent 7.62X54R cartridge (the "R" stands for "rimmed"). This was the standard rifle cartridge used by the Russians all through WWII, and sniper teams still use it today. It's powerful enough to harvest any North American big game, including grizzly or polar bears.

Most of the surplus bolt action rifles on the market are chambered for heavy duty cartridges. You can almost always find great deals on the cartridges they're chambered for, usually in the same ad where you see the rifles. In the ad I'm looking at right now they've got 740 rounds for $90.00. Not bad! That would be a pretty productive trip to the range, I'm thinkin'.

Keep in mind two things if you're going to buy one of these rifles. First off, they're heavy. Most hunting rifles are lighter so you won't have to lug any extra weight over hill and through dale. You have no idea how much of a difference this makes until you actually get out there and try to climb the tenth hill of the morning with that damn metal and wood contraption slung on your back. But the extra weight means that the guns are very rugged, and you can usually find light plastic stocks on the market to make your burden an easier one.

The second thing to keep in mind is that you're probably not going to be able to get really good accuracy out of these old warhorses. They weren't made to make the really small groups at really long range. Still, you shouldn't have any trouble at all making a good shot out to 200 yards or more. And there's always scopes that can be attached with some modification so you could take the tricky shots out to 300 yards or so.

Bottom line: these guns are great starter guns for someone who wants to get into shooting full-power rifles. If you have a few extra in your gun safe you can teach the new guys the finer points of either hunting or target shooting, and they're so cheap that you won't care if they drop them a few times. They also make great stocking stuffers at Christmas time.

So go and get a copy of a trade periodical and see what they have to offer. Remember my past posts about gun condition, Curio and Relic FFL's, and how much you'll have to pay the gun shop and the gunsmith. I don't think you'll regret it.

Now let's see what I have stashed in the gun safe.

The gun on the far left is a sporterized Krag-Jorgenson, which was the official US military rifle for a few years before being replaced by the 1903 Springfield. The Krag is chambered for the .30-40 Krag cartridge, which is a reasonably powerful round. The rifle can easily harvest game the size of a black bear, no problem. I'd like something a bit more powerful if I was hunting moose or grizzly, but I bet I could make it do in a pinch. The gun usually sells for $400.00, but I got mine for $250.00. Just another reason why you should try to talk to the owner of your favorite gun store and learn his first name.

So what's next to the Krag? Well, I've got to get to work right now, so I'll modify the post later on and tell you guys.

Update I get home from work and then school and I see that Fusilier Pundit has beaten me to the punch! He's already left a comment that names the two unidentified guns.

The middle gun is a 98 Mauser that is chambered for the 8mm Mauser cartridge. Although considered an underpowered round by many shooters today, please keep in mind that the Germans equipped many of their fighting vehicles with machine guns that fired the same cartridge in WWII. It wasn't considered an underperformer then.

I bought the 98 Mauser for $100.00 USD, plus the usual extra fees.

The gun on the right is a 96 Swedish Mauser chambered for the 6.5X55mm cartridge. The stock is in very good condition, and the metal parts are in New condition (look how shiny the bolt is!). Still, the gun store was selling it based on the condition of the stock, so I paid $85.00 USD for it. A very good deal.

Well, that's about it. I hope I've helped you trim some of the cost from a new gun. Remember, every dollar you save means more money for ammo!

According to the Yahoo! news server, Sean Penn claims that he lost out on a $10 million movie deal because of his pro-Iraq activism. He's sueing the producer that he claims screwed him over.

Weepy weepy. Penn's out 10 mil. Now he won't be able to buy that fifth mansion in Bali. My heart is bleedin' over his bad fortune.

Steven den Beste has another looong and insightful post, this time about how the disasterous diplomatic situation with the US on one side and France and Germany on the other came to pass. He says that it's all probably a case of misunderstanding.

Probably is. He quotes a WaPo story, and what he put up in the post certainly resonated with me.

"The Americans are pushing their weight around and doing it with rhetoric that may go down well in some parts of the U.S. but rubs us the wrong way all of the time," said Christoph Bertram, research director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. "And the fact we're aware of our continuing dependence on the U.S. doesn't help. It's American power, but also the rhetoric of American power that has exacerbated the sense of weakness, alienation and uneasiness that we see all over Europe."

Let's look at Japan for one minute. See, Japan was virtually cut off from all outside influences for close to a thousand years. They developed a culture and society that certainly works for them, but they have profound trouble developing any empathy for other points of view. Most Japanese (though certainly not all) would characterize the way they deal with each other and the way their society functions as moral and correct. If someone does things in a different way then they're either immoral or screwing things up.

Robert Ressler, the FBI agent who coined the term "serial killer", relates an anecdote in one of his books that I think illustrates this point. He was in Japan and being interviewed for a program when the reporter asked him to comment on a case that had the police baffled. Seems the wife and two young children of a mid-level executive had been found strangled and dumped in Tokyo Bay. The killer had carefully and meticulously wrapped each body in plastic and duct tape, which would have taken considerable time. The executive had also lied about his family's whereabouts after they had been murdered.

So Ressler made a few comments that would strongly indicate that the executive was the killer. This made the interviewer extremely uncomfortable, and even though she didn't come right out and say it she obviously thought he was wrong. What's an open-and-shut case to an American was very puzzling to the Japanese, since people with high social standing simply don't commit crimes! (It eventually turned out that, yep, the executive was the guilty party. Duh!)

America is referred to as the Melting Pot because we have so many different people from so many different cultures landing on our shores everyday. If they adopt our core values (hard work, law-abiding, tolerance) then they're welcomed with open arms. The only way this works is by being as clear as possible in everyday speech.

"Plain spoken." "Forthright." "He get's straight to the point." These are the things that someone says in America if they want to praise someone. In most other parts of th world the culture is more of a single-source. They have elaborate rituals and rules when dealing with people in order to avoid offending someone. This oblique way of speaking causes a great deal of frustration to American's. Why the heck can't these bozos just come right out and say what they mean??? Of course, if someone did that then they'd be considered rude and arrogant in most other countries.

So look back up at the quote. What's got this guy's panties in a bunch, anyway? American's are rubbing them the wrong way. They don't like the rhetoric of power. They don't like the way their noses are being rubbed in their own weakness and impotence. They think that this sort of talk might go over well with an American audience but they're having trouble with it.

Well, boo freakin' hoo! The way I see it we Americans are just trying to make the situation clear. If they don't like the way that they have to depend on the US to keep them safe then they shouldn't have decided to cut their military spending and subsidize social programs. If they want America to pay more attention to their concerns then they have to bring something to the table besides rhetoric. If they don't want us to point this obvious and inescapable fact to them then they should change the situation. Reality over fantasy, results over rhetoric.

One last thought. Notice that it's the guys who try to deal with reality with as few illusions as possible that are the world leaders now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Kevin has posted a Cliff's Notes version of the military history of France.

I have to say, it doesn't look at all good for them.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Go over to Anna's blog and read her post about how the Brits were thinking of building ships of ice during WWII to fight the Germans.

Blogger's screwing around again. I can't get a permalink to the post, so just go on over there and read it yourself.

Hey, whattya know! The blog just turned one!

The actor who played the slacker trash Dell spokesman has arrested for buying marijuana.

Dude! You're gettin' a cell!

Sunday, February 09, 2003

I asked Jack Burton to post a few thoughts about the debate to require police departments to record all interviews and interrogations. He's done a much better job than I ever could.

I think that many people are interested in their police. They want to make sure that they do a good job while also making sure that the authority that goes with the position isn't abused. Unfortunately, most of the stuff that people "know" about police procedure is completely wrong. TV and the movies simply don't portray it accurately.

Jack's post should give the layman a small idea of some of the rules that the cops have to be conscious of every minute that they;re doing their job.

Jane's Defense has come out with the free non-subscriber items for the month. Let's see what they have for us.

The Mother of Invention
According to this item the recent decision by the UK to award the bulk of the Future Aircraft Carrier program to BAE instead of Thales isn't a blatant example of favoritism. No, instead it's just the best decision that could be made considering the capabilitis of both companies.

All that lobbying and gifts and contributions and stuff had NOTHING to do with the decision. Just put it out of your mind completely.

I just hope that this doesn't delay the completion of the project. I'm really interested to see how these Future Carriers work out.

Maybe It's Due to Budget Considerations
It seems that the NATO forces in Kosovo will soon be recuced. Related video can be found here.

This Ain't Like Dustin' Crops, Boy!
Powell recently revealed that Iraq had modified some fighter planes to fly without a pilot and spray chemical weapons. This was mentioned a few days ago by DefenseTech.

Like most people who have commented on this subject, I don't really think it would be much of a problem. It seems like an act of desperation more than anything else.

Well, that's about it. See you Jane's groupies next month.

Prof. Reynolds has posted this link to a very insightful post about the popularity of some blogs. The author, Clay Shirky, states that the popularity of some blogs over others has nothing to do with fairness, since people given free choice will tend to gravitate towards the very few that offer exactly what they want.

Let's not have anything about pandering to the baser instincts, since numero uno is Prof. Reynolds himself (no surprise). I don't think anyone could claim that he was appealing to anyone's darker nature.

Or is he?

Prof. Reynold's is scrupulously fair, including links to those who send him items of interest. I think it would be fair to say that most of the people who Email the good Professor are hoping that he will link to them, and so they'd benefit from his enormous readership as people click on over to their blogs. So they're hoping for more attention themselves, which is pretty base.

Once I posted this, which discusses how China's disasterous One Child Policy has resulted in a huge number of young men who have zero prospect for marriage. I speculated that, should civil unrest become grave, China might even start a ruinous war with a neighbor to kill off some of the excess males. Megan McArdle was kind enough to link to my post (sorry, I'm having trouble linking to it since Megan upgraded her blog). Next thing you know she has over fifty comments on that post. Some of the people that left a comment even speculated that China might start a ruinous war to get rid of the excess males. I think I got maybe three comments on my original post.

This isn't because Megan had more insights about the situation than I did, or that she was willing to take part in the discussion. It's just that everyone who read her blog wanted to have the maximum amount of people see their comments and respond to them. Maybe someone might even click on the bloglink under the comment itself and go see their blog. Hey, maybe someone will be so impressed with their blog that they'll link to it! It could happen, right?

This sn't to say that the driving force behind the popularity of the top ten blogs is undeserved or unfair. I just don't think that this very human desire to have people listen to what you have to say is taken into account.

So I'm over at Megan McArdle's blog and I notice this post, where Megan comments on a news item. Seems that a proposal to videotape police interrogations is being opposed by Chicago's mayor because it would be a drain on the budget.

Okay, whatever. Slow news day. But I was very surprised to find that most of the people who left a comment were simply discussing which way the interrogations could be recorded that would cost the least amount of money. Most were technically feasible but would clearly fail to provide the necessary safeguards that are necessary to preserve the "chain of evidence" rule that would allow the records to be admitted as evidence (which was one of the main justifications for the scheme). One of the people who commented tried to justify the expense by stating that the records would save more money than it would cost by preventing lawsuits that are lost by the cities after the police kick the crap out of a suspect to get his confession.

My take on the situation is that illegally obtained confessions are just plain wrong, but it's hardly a problem. Happens once in a blue moon, maybe. It's certainly such a rare occurance that they always make big national headlines. If it's not a problem then why are we trying to fix it?

Another point that should be considered is the budget crunch brought about by the recent recession. Some police agencies are so strapped for cash that they're actually allowing businesses to place ads on the cruisers for a fee! Another burden such as this isn't reasonable even if we were swimming in cash.

Computer expert Jack Burton was a police officer before he quit the force to start his own business. While in uniform he did good work setting up computer systems for the Columbus PD. I'm wondering if he would post some thoughts as to the cost of maintaining such a system, as well as the cost of training everybody to use it.