02 September 2014

Survival firearms, The Saiga 308

Back in the day, sniper teams would use an M14 as the spotter's rifle. This gave the spotter ammunition commonality with the primary sniper rifle. In later configurations, M21 or M25, the spotters rifle became a sniper rifle in its own right. The Army moved away from the M21/M25 platform with the widespread adoption of the M24, but later on went back to the semi-auto option with the M110 (aka Knights SR-25).

So it is in that history of tactical usage that I decided I needed a semi-auto 308 rifle to complement the Savage 10.

When I got the opportunity to acquire a Saiga 308 I jumped on it. The current one in my stable has been converted, is 922(r) compliant, and wears a "Druganov" style wooden stock. I call it my Saiganov. The optic is an Israeli surplus 6x40 Nimrod scope, with BDC turret for M118 ammunition. The scope mount allows the use of the built in iron sights. Handloads of M72 bullets in M118LR brass with a charge of IMR4064 (as opposed to 4895) create my M118 clone load. I used 4064 for two reasons, the first being it is what I had on hand, and second, of the powders I had on hand it is the most temperature stable. My handload uses 1st Gen bullets (M118), 2nd Ben brass (M118LR) and 3rd Gen powder (IMR4064). 

Buy in bulk whenever you can.

The standard 8 round magazines are great from the prone, and aftermarket magazines of greater capacity are available.

In my stable this weapon is a bit of an anomaly. It is the only AK pattern rifle I have left, having traded off all the AK-47 pattern rifles in favor of AR-15 rifles. And it is the only rifle that I never plan to hunt with.

This rifle is there for that pure chance I need to conduct offensive operations in a survival scenario. It is hard to gain fire superiority with a bolt action rifle, and my AR-15s don't have the downrange punch of a 308. When I say "punch" I mean actually punching through things, like walls or vehicle wind shields.

Having heard what an M14 sounds like when it is pointed in your direction, I'm of the opinion that a semi-auto 308 with a 20 round detachable magazine is a good thing to have on your side.

The goal here was to have a rifle that fills the role of a "Designated Marksman" rifle the way an SVD or PSL does for the former combloc nations. It has done that nicely. Easily printing 1.25 MOA groups using the same ammo that is sub-MOA in the Savage 10, it has definitely filled its niche quite well. The range estimating reticle and BDC turret are there so that I can hand that rifle off to someone with little experience and they should still be able to hit an E type target at distances out to 800 meters with minimal practice from a good 200 meter zero. Yes the wind will still come into play, but it is a lot easier for a beginner to use a BDC turret than count clicks.

This is a rifle I hope to never have to use for anything other than a range trip to re-confirm zero at distance or let a new shooter shoot something "cool."

01 September 2014

The heavy barreled bolt action carbine

So this will be the first post in a series about "weapons for survival" as a follow up to the "How many guns do you really need?" post started by Ryan.

A lot of what I am writing about all goes back to personal tastes, I like shooting long range so my rifles are going to reflect that. The only AR upper I own that has less than a 20" barrel is a rimfire. My choices may not be applicable at all to your situation.

Now as much as a lever action 30-30 should be ideal for me, I spend the bulk of my time shooting AR-15s and bolt action rifles. One of these days I'll buy or build an AR-10 pattern rifle and combine the hitting power of my bolts with the soft recoil and shootability of my ARs. But that will be sometime to come in the future.

So first up is my Savage 10, it is my current "do all" rifle. It has a Timney Trigger (being pre-accutrigger vintage) a Karsten adjustable cheekpiece, oversized bolt knob, and the stock cavities filled in with bondo and lead. The scope is an IOR 2.5-10x42 SSG that I bought used, with a 2nd focal plane MP-8 mil line reticle. It is ugly, as even after the forend was filled with bondo it wasn't stiff enough for my tastes so I wrapped the outside in fiberglass, added a bipod, and spray painted it black.

Ugly, but accurate. It is not a rifle you want to carry for a long time at the ready, but it is a great rifle for a tree stand, or watching over a clear cut, or hauling around in your truck during deer season, or on the 500 yard line. With the bipod off, it actually shoulders well, and is nicely balanced.

Yes it will qualify as a "sniper" rifle if you want to define it that way. Yes you can kill me with whatever firearm you have too. I'm not bulletproof.

But getting down to the nitty gritty of why I like heavy rifles, there are two reasons. The first is recoil reduction, the second is stability.

When you are building a rifle, mass matters. Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. F=MA. To solve for "M" it becomes clear that Mass equals Force divided by Acceleration, which is to say that Mass is resistance to force.

That same resistance to force also makes a rifle more stable, resisting the little movements from your pulse better than a lighter rifle.

There are some folks that can evidently handle recoil and not have their marksmanship affected. I am not one of them. Give me a hard kicking rifle and within a few shots I'll have flinch. It is my experience that recoil sucks. An inexpensive twelve gauge has enough force in a normal mass shotgun to detach your retina from your eyeball if you don't take the recoil properly.

There are other ways to get rid of recoil, including butt pads, muzzle brakes, stock inserts, but mass is always a good starting point, and I've upped the mass of my rifle to the point where I am comfortable shooting it for long strings during competition.

The 2.5-10x42 optic is completely adequate at low power for hunting the forests of the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascades and the open plains and high deserts east of the Cascades. The 308 Win is a good compromise cartridge in that it does most everything well enough to not complain too much about it, plus surplus brass is cheap.

It isn't the perfect survival rifle, but it is my "do anything" rifle in that it can do everything well except fire rapidly. Firing rapidly is more of a requirement for offensive operations than defensive operations. Since I don't plan to attack anyone during "survival" I think this rifle setup is a good compromise for me.

31 August 2014

Necessary Powers

In "Leviathan" Hobbes noted quite correctly that without a strong government a true state of "unprincipled anarchy" would be the natural result. I say unprincipled anarchy because if everyone participating were to act in a principled manner, then the state would be serene. Unfortunately humans consistently fail to act in a principled manner which is why Marx was wrong about a classless society and why Hobbes was right about the need for government.

Hobbes echoed the ideas of Plato's "The Republic" that there would be a sovereign. Maybe not a "Philosopher King" as described, but our Founding Fathers recognized the need for a central government, in the Declaration of Independence (the right of men to break with a political system and form a new political system to their desires), the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States.

The most philosophical of those documents was the Declaration of Independence. The most practical was the Constitution.

So better thinkers than I have asked the question, "what are the necessary functions of Government? And what are the necessary rights of government to see to their necessary functions?"

I posit that government is required to maintain the social contract, either written or unwritten. Thankfully there was a social contract included in the Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights. It isn't perfect, but it has largely worked.

So first up the power to tax is necessary. What form of taxation takes place (income, property, tariff, excise, transport, etc) is immaterial as the government has the need to tax to fund itself.

Second the government must have the power to enforce laws through punitive measures. Fines, jail sentences, paroles, and even death. This is necessary in order to uphold the social contract (individual rights, etc).

Third the government must have the power to arbitrate and pass binding judgement upon that arbitration. This is to deal with non-citizen legal entities, such as two counties fighting over water rights, or two corporations suing each other for something.

Forth, government must be able to own property. Roads, court houses, etc.

None of this seems unreasonable, but when you see the "right to own property" pushed into "eminent domain" laws and "National Parks" you see a right abused. When you see "sin taxes" or deliberate fees to drive something out of business you see a right abused.

So the question becomes, how do you create a government strong enough to defend your freedoms, without being so strong that it can be abused to take them away? How do you create a Republic that does not descend into mobocracy Democracy? What set of checks and balances do you put in place? What do you do when those checks and balances stop working?

Heinlein thought that political enfranchisement of "veterans" would solve the problem. I'm not so sure about that. The "Greatest Generation" had more veterans per capita than any before or since at least as far as I know. And they let FDR swindle them with going off the gold standard and starting Social Security.

I'm not sure that the problem can be solved. America started out pretty "Libertarian" but then went straight into crushing internal dissent in the Whiskey Rebellion, and back to war with Great Britain in 1812. I think that then, as now, that the answer lies with a civic minded populace ready to grab their rifle from the mantle and march to the sound of the guns.

Unfortunately I have no clue as to the building of an actual civic minded society willing to bear the duties of citizens, and not live as subjects.

Comments are open for all armchair philosophers.

30 August 2014

How to write like a Rabid Feminist

I've noticed a trend in feminist rants. It seems very formulaic, and it seems like the formula is something like this:

Step one, pick a topic.

Step two, research the topic for any time a man had anything to do with that topic.

Step three, rant about how sexist those men were. Use the term "ensuring the patriarchy" and "oppressing women through institutional sexism" at least once each.

Step four, show how women today engaging in the subject are victims of something. Generally blame "society", "the patriarchy" or "brainwashed sisters" who are too dumb to know they are being exploited.

For example, let us take the subject of "automobiles."

Automobiles first showed on the scene in the late 1800s and by the early 1900s had become a fact of life. Henry Ford, the misogynist and anti-semitic industrialist did his best to make his product universally accepted by men everywhere. And it worked, cars became associated with masculinity early on, with bootleggers setting the hot rod example that has turned into the testosterone fueled NASCAR of today, where only the token female, Danica Patrick, still remains no threat to the leaders of this so called sport having never once won a major race or series.
You can do that with something as simple as "canning."
 Canning came about as a food preparation for Napoleon. As his wars of aggression became mired down in logistical nightmares the egotistical tyrant put forth a royal competition for a solution to get fresh food to the front lines of his expanding empire. One result was canning, and it quickly became women's work to preserve the food to feed the men who were off fighting. This condinued even in the supposedly egalitarian new world where "Padernales Chili" was canned and shipped to Europe to feed those hungry Texas boys during World War Two. Despite the successes of women doing the same work as men during the war the patriarchy quickly asserted dominance upon victory over Germany and Japan, with men coming home to make their wives go back into the kitchen, and preserve food for the household by canning.
We could go on with any given subject, from wrestling to computers. Heck even hot dogs and apple pie.

But really I think that all I've done here is show that much of the modern "femirant" writing is really nothing more than using a standard formula to apply spin. When you are using a standard formula to write anything I guess at least your writing skills can improve with practice and use. But whole novels have been published that weren't worth the pulp they were printed on because they were formula books. You know, like Harlequin Romances, or Golden Eagle adventure books for teens (and for those who never grew up).

If someone criticizes your femirant as unfactual simply declare them part of the patriarchy attempting to silence feminist dissent. Easy to win every argument when you own both sides.

Now people who are nominally on my side are guilty of their own formlaic "freedom rants" where they will take a single piece of information, such as some school district somewhere doing something stupid and claiming that it is proof positive that them libruls are out to destroy our way of life. Murica. Obviously there are stupid people all over the nation, and if there were a grand conspiracy it wouldn't be a very good conspiracy if all those dumb folks who get caught suspending students for praying, or writing fiction involving guns and dinosaurs were part of said conspiracy.

But outrage is easy, no matter your political persuasion. Thoughtful analysis is tougher.

Comments are open.

29 August 2014

How many guns do I REALLY need?

Ryan asked the question, "How many guns do you really need?" and then gave a decent analysis to support his answer.

My answer to the same question is, "Honestly, none." I want to be clear, there is no right or wrong answer, only the answer that applies to you in your situation. When your situation changes, make sure your answer changes too.

But, getting into the meat of why I don't "need" any firearms for survival....

What you really need is the capability to hunt food, protect yourself, and maintain proficiency with whatever tool you've decided does that.

Considering that firearms are the most effective tools for hunting and protection, I generally assume that to meet my particular needs they are the only suitable tools (and in reality they are, I simply suck with a bow or blowgun with poison darts although I could work hard to get better).

Bare minimum survival list, for "general" survival situations:
A hunting rifle.
A defensive pistol capable of taking game.

This is my base level "survival" setup because it can be mobile. It is redundant, the old "two is one, one is none" method. It is as lightweight as I can make it in case I need to travel, or spread my hunting out over a very large area.

If you choose wisely, the hunting rifle will serve as a defensive rifle if you are actually defending something. A heavy 20" barrel 308 Win with a 2.5-10x42 scope on top would work just fine. As would a Saiga 308 or AR-10. A "multi-purpose" hunting rifle is easily adapted for defensive use. A lever action 30-30 is just as good in this role as a top end Weatherby in terms of actual survival.

The defensive pistol is there to keep you alive until you can get to a rifle. This is where "carry lots, shoot little" big bore revolvers come into play, especially in bear country, or where you might get a chance to take a deer but for some reason can't use the rifle.

But since "survival" doesn't always mean just gathering food and defending your home, we can add more guns to the list all day long, each with a specific purpose to fulfil a specific function.

A 22 pistol and rifle for marksmanship practice and taking small game.
A 12 gauge shotgun, because shotguns are useful for taking birds in flight.
A military pattern rifle of intermediate caliber, because you might need to clear rooms rescuing your loved ones from a gang of delinquent thugs.

Now the idea of a "survival shotgun" is weird to me. They are short ranged, and generally optimised to take birds in flight. In a survival situation I think it would be better to use a 22 or air rifle to shoot them in the head while they are stationary. Yes it is called "poaching" or "unethical" if you do that now, but in a survival situation, a shotgun has some distinct downsides, mainly you don't get a lot of range out of the amount of weight you have to carry in firearm and ammunition.

In a home defence situation, where you aren't carrying the weapon to hung, a pump action shotgun is loads better than a bolt action rimfire. So if defence is a huge concern, then weighting a shotgun as an essential purchase is pretty smart. But, in pretty much any defence scenario, I'd rather have a 30 round magazine than a 7 shot tube so you'll have to weigh your options with what you want and what you know. If you are a dyed in the wool water fowl hunter who has never bothered with semi auto military pattern rifles, then a pump action shotgun is the perfect choice for you.

My firearm collection has gone beyond the, "hey I can afford it and this looks interesting!" stage, and now I just buy weapons to shoot. Some are for hunting, some are still around just for sentiment, but the bulk of things I shoot regularly are built for competition. Nothing wrong with that, and your choices are going to be different. Heck, I always thought that even just having a few spares to give a way should the need arise, or for barter material.

No matter how you cut it, I have way more guns than I need, not as many as I want, but more than enough to take care of my survival necessities.

Comments are open for your thoughts on the matter.

28 August 2014

Tempest in a pot of you don't know any math.

Let's play with math!
In a 100-friend scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends; one each of black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races; and three friends of unknown race. The average black person, on the other hand, has 83 black friends, eight white friends, two Latino friends, zero Asian friends, three mixed race friends, one other race friend, and four friends of unknown race.
Everybody get that?

White average:
91 white friends.
9 different race friends.

Black average:
83 black friends
17 different race friends.

If you take the numbers on face value it is interesting, but there just isn't enough data to draw any real conclusions.

The US population is largely white at 72.4%, with a 12.6% black minority. Of course "white" is a variable number if you include "non-hispanic whites" the number goes up from there to around 83.6%. Numbers from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

So we don't have an even distribution of "races" in America, but more importantly we don't have an even distribution of races in America geographically.

You are more likely to have a lot of hispanic friends if you live in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or Calfornia than if you live on the North Slope of Alaska, rural Maine, or on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. You won't find many Pacific Islanders in rural Wisconsin, or African Americans in Havre, Montana, or Jackson, Wyoming.

If you live in Louisville, Detroit, or Chicago, having black friends will not be a problem. If you work for the US Army, having black friends won't be an issue. If you spent your life on a farm in Iowa two hours from the nearest major city, might be kind of a tough slog to find your token black friend.

Sorry, we really haven't done any math here yet, so I promise to get around to it.  So here it is, calculating the "standard deviation" of races in the US based on the wikipedia data gives us 25.6%. If you use a different subset of data breaking out non-white hispanics and the rest then you'll get a different standard deviation, but it won't be so different as to disprove the point I'm about to make.

If we assign every human being in America with a statistical chance of being "white" of 72% then every American should have 72 white friends, plus or minus one standard deviation. That means anywhere from 97 white friends, to 47 white friends.

When we look at the numbers quoted in the linked article, whites fall in at 91 white friends, which is a tad on the high side, but within the realm of standard deviation.

Blacks on the other hand, blacks are way outside the standard deviation, like really outside, beyond two standard deviations. Is that because they are racist? Or is it because of all the other factors already noted, such as geographic clustering? I would say that it is more likely do to geographic clustering than anything else.

Race relations in America are getting better. Not as fast as some would like, and I think mainly in spite of the current administration rather than because of it, but crap like "white people don't have enough black friends, RACISM!!!" isn't helping.

If you really want to help all Americans stop telling people they need a college education to be successful. Bring back our respect for skilled labor. Welding, plumbing, construction, even truck driving and warehousing are all honest jobs. Stop the madness in dumbing down our schools and start holding back children until the do measure up. It isn't a punishment to teach someone at their level, it is a punishment to pass them through an uncaring system and toss them out into a world with no marketable skills or even basic math and language skills.

I say this now because this is what I want for my children. I want a world that challenges them as they grow into competent adults. I don't expect them to win a Nobel Prize, I do expect them to know how to work hard and treat other people with decency and kindness. Having me for a father is just a handicap they'll have to overcome on their own.

27 August 2014

Winter is coming. Brace yourself for the coming of pumpkin spice flavored everything.

I'm sure you know that Food Babe owns this image....
Ok kiddies, "made with ammonia" is true. So are amino acids essential for life. The specific molecule that Vani the food babe goes on to demonize, 4-methylimidazole in her write up, has not been shown to be harmful at that level, despite Food Babe declaring no safe level. If that is the case, I'd like to remind you that there is no safe level of water, you risk drowning from a teaspoon or more.

Absolutely no real pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte. Got a news flash for Food Babe, there is no coffee in coffee cake, no canines in hot dogs, no Franks in frankfurters, no wieners is wienershnitzel, no dick in "spotted dick" and no actual "Fives" in five spice.

As far as "Mansanto Milk" goes, give it a fucking break already. No one has ever been able to "show harm" from dairy products derived from the milk of cows who were fed GM grains. This is simply "scare mongering" which is evidently bad if Bush does it, but somehow ok when your side does it? As far as "holy shit soy milk is bad because it contains carageenan!" without any reference to the inability of scientists to actually quantify any sort of risk. When studies conflict, some showing no symptoms, other showing gastric distress, it means you need to do a meta-analysis to find out what the best knowledge is, and that is that carageenan is a safe food additive, as it has been for centuries.

I have to laugh at "Toxic dose of sugar!" because the word "toxic" literally means something life threatening in the medical field. 50 grams of sugar is a lot of sugar, but it is most definitely NOT toxic to anyone without diabetes.

"Ambiguous Natural Flavors" is ambiguous. A "flavor pack" is essentially the distilled "essence" of scent and flavor chemicals, and chemicals always come with scary sounding names. Coffee alone has over 900 chemical flavor compounds, and yet Food Babe doesn't require that every alkaloid and oil be named by IUPAC conventions, with specific molarity concentrations per drink. Obviously such a label would be impossible to put on a cup, and even quite difficult to put into something smaller than mid sized phone book.

"Preservatives and Sulfites" that can cause allergic reactions. Oh Noes! Somebody forgot to mention that milk and soy can cause allergic reactions! Quick hold a press conference!!! If you have an allergy to sulfites, you don't need Food Babe to tell you to check the labels. If you don't have an allergy to Sulfites, CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG!!!!

"Possible Pesticide Residues from using non-organic coffee beans." This is literally the dumbest of the dumb shit that Food Babe has published. Organic doesn't mean "no pesticides" it simply means "organic approved pesticides" which all have to be used at higher concentrations (such as copper sulfite) because they are LESS EFFECTIVE AND LESS SPECIFIC than better engineered conventional pesticides. Getting back to that word, "toxic", organic approved pesticides are MORE TOXIC than conventional pesticides. This is sheer ignorance on display, about the same level as Jenny McCarthy on vaccines.

"Contains conventional condensed milk, not vegan even with soy milk." Which is something that Starbucks has addressed for years. Latte means milk, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte mix they use has milk products in it. There are some very good food chemistry reasons for this, and even if Starbucks were to specify a vegan friendly alternative it would have to come from soy. You know, that horrible Monsanto soy Food Babe has already assured you is poisoning you, without providing any sort of scientific evidence of harm.

The most interesting thing about "Food Babe" is her ability to get people to protest against shit they know nothing about. She has led several campaigns against restaurant chains including Subway, Chic-Fil-A, and Chipotle which have accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of public health, but she counts them as victories. I looked through her bio, and found no resume of scientific accomplishment even so basic as a BS in anything.

But "Food Babe" will continue to be influential because she is photogenic and outspoken. Much like Jenny McCarthy.