30 July 2008

Modern Army Combatives

A few years ago the Army abandoned the old form of Combatives and embraced "Modern Army Combatives" based largely on Gracie Jiujitsu.

There was nothing wrong with the old form of Combatives except that no one really used them. We had the manual, it had the drills, but no one embraced them as a training asset. They still remain viable techniques, but for the purposes of having "something" that we could integrate into training MAC is a pretty good system.

MAC is broken up into 4 levels. Level one is mastery of drills 1 and 2 over 40 hours of instruction topped off with the successful completion of the clinch drill. Level two is more classroom hours and more techniques. Since the Level 1 portion of the class has been incorporated into IBOLC I've had to complete level one. The clinch drill is kind of pointless but I didn't design the class. Sometime this year I should attend Level 2.

Any grappling intensive style is good, fully body exercise. And we use it to supplement our low impact PT training days. However I have my own ideas and experiences that don't exactly fall in line with the instruction set of MAC.

First off I believe that knowing how to impact the ground without getting hurt is just as important as how to achieve the mount or rear naked choke. So I incorporated side falls, back falls, and forward rolls into the combatives session. I've come to the conclusion that my guys really need more training on side falls, back falls, and forward rolls. In order to teach those techniques effectively I had to incorporate some offensive techniques that cause one person to need to do a fall or roll. So I introduced some drills that I learned from Aikido.

And we are right back at the same techniques we were using in the old Combatives programs. Hip throws, hand releases, blocks....

Another officer in my Company is a former Marine, and he is doing the same thing with his guys. We are adding to the training by fleshing out a basic Jiujitsu skillset, his from the USMC, mine from Aikido/DanzanRyuAiki JiuJitsu. But my boys are learning how to hit the mat without injuring themselves, and no matter how ugly they look now, in six months they'll be better.

At least until we get into breakfalls and face falls.

But in the end it will give my boys a solid base to expand their martial skills. Whether they stick with some form of jiujitsu or branch out to Krav Maga or Kung Fu, the basics in body movement will help them learn safely.

Pilots and Paratroopers

Part and parcel of being a professional soldier is earning various qualifications.

In the Army someone will have a Military Occupational Specialty such as 11B1P or 11B3V. The "P" identifier stands for "Parachutist" and the "V" identifier stands for "Airborne Ranger".

Earning your wings doesn't mean that you will be assigned to an Airborne unit. The Army believes in intangible benefits come from successfully completing Airborne School and earning the right to wear silver wings. No one has ever explained to me exactly what those intangible benefits are, but I have my guesses.

I often wonder what a pilot thought when we piled into his bird only to jump out of it with no more assurance of successful landing than can be had with a parachute built by the lowest bidder. Does the pilot really believe that "Only bird crap and fools fall from the sky."?

Or does the pilot simply not care, too wrapped up in the job of keeping a heavy cargo plane barely above stall speed while we jump out the door? All props to the Air Force, but the paratrooper was the original smart bomb. The Kamikaze pilots were a the first guided missiles.

Maybe the pilot pities the poor souls that leap from the big iron bird into a cruel and capricious sky.

Sun Tzu wrote, "In death ground, FIGHT". When you take a step into the sky, the terrain means that you are committed. There is no turning back. There is no changing your mind. The only way down is powered by gravity, the only thing keeping you alive is a few yards of nylon fabric.

When you hit the dirt (and you really hit if you are a big guy like me) it's time to regroup and get to the task of breaking things. And maybe that is why Airborne units have such a proud history and high esprit de corps, because the only way out alive is through the enemy.

Whether it was two divisions worth of soldiers at Normandy or a single SFODA in Vietnam, there is no ready retreat from a DZ. Helicopters are a wonder extraction tool, but they are not always an option. Military historians gloss over the fact that for the men of the 82nd and 101st, Normandy was a one way ticket. The boats delivering the other divisions could be called back even within sight of the beach. But there is no going back once that canopy opens.

And that is what is means to be a Paratrooper or Ranger. When you volunteer for that title you volunteer to fight on, alone, cut off from aid if that is what is asked of you. And you'll do it with only the gear you can shove out of an airplane or strap to your body.

So if there are any pilots who have ever felt pity for those who jump from their craft, forget it. Pity the enemy on the ground without enough sense to flee.

29 July 2008

Science and Religion

A while ago a post at "Random Nuclear Strikes" referenced a very insulting reply from a scientist to a creationist about the validity of E. Coli citrate uptake after X generations.

A few days ago Kim do Toit posted "Creation Science at Work" which showed the question, "Why is triclorophosphate polar?" and the hand written answer "Because God made it that way".

Both of those responses do injustice to the scientific process.

To all those who don't know, triclorophosphate is polar because the halogens are very electronegative and the resulting geometry of the molecule has areas of greater and lesser electron density.

As far as the citrate minus E. Coli go, in order to prove that the ability to metabolize citrate is evolutionary you have to sequence the genes of the beginning stock to prove that the information for the enzymes necessary for citrate metabolism is completely removed from the genotype. Otherwise the phenotype of the bacteria could indeed by citrate minus but with all the necessary information for citrate metabolism unexpressed due to a faulty start sequence. This means that the citrate plus progeny wouldn't have to evolve anything except a functional start sequence for the peptides in question. After reading the release for the research in question it is clear that the disrespectful scientist didn't ensure that the genotype matched the phenotype.

If you didn't completely follow the above two paragraphs, then just maybe creation science isn't so backwards after all (if you did follow it good for you). Anyone who can bring rigorous questions to the scientific arena deserves respect, because it is just as important to be proven wrong as it is to be proven right. Those "whacky creationists" deserve the respect to be proven wrong.

I'm not saying that scientists needs to prove that there isn't a God (and it's impossible to prove a negative). I'm saying that the mechanisms of evolution theory need to be proven true (which they haven't yet). And not sharing data (and laughing at an ignorant students answer) are not appropriate for serious science.

I'm just as angry about serious science being co-opted by religious movements. Global warming anyone?

28 July 2008

How much do you want to spend to customize your firearm?

Customizing a firearm is a money pit. You'll spend more in after market parts (and possibly labor) than you'll ever get back if you must sell it.

The vast majority of modern firearms are perfectly adequate right out of the box. The number one fix that is also a bonus if you need to sell is a nice trigger job. Either tuning the trigger or replacing it outright.

After that there really isn't much that doesn't fall into the money pit.

The reason why I'm writing this is because I just bought two muzzle brakes for my AK rifles. At 20 bucks a pop it's a pretty "cheap" upgrade, but it won't increase the price of the rifles should I need to sell.

The functionality that I want to upgrade is reduced recoil so that I can use the AK as a training platform for new shooters. A FAL in 308 with a good muzzle brake had less felt recoil than my AK last time I was at the range. I figured that if the brake was that effective on a full size battle rifle that the intermediate 7.62x39 would feel like a 22. 22's are fun, but sometimes a new shooter just wants to handle a "real" weapon. (Remember kids, 22s ARE real weapons)

The reason why I want new shooters to be able to handle an AK is because it is recognizable from all the Hollywood exposure. I want to take that scary symbol and put it into a new shooters hands so that the next time they see an AK on the big screen they can say "I've shot that, you can't hit crap shooting from the hip like that!"

Everybody smiles after their first trip to the range, everybody. So that 40 dollars is an investment in smiles, and it's really hard to put a price tag on what a smile is worth.


In every war there come stories of wounded men trying like hell to get back to their unit. This must baffle the crap out of the anti-war crowd who thinks "You got your ticket out of combat, why would you want to go back?".

The answer to "why" is very personal, but it usually stems from two sources, duty and love. Loving your brothers to the point that you care more for them than yourself makes it easy to understand why someone would crawl back into the fight.

Duty is a little more difficult to pin down with words. A sense of duty is a moral obligation requiring physical action. This brings up all sorts of questions about morality, the nature of right and wrong, and when it is justified to act. I'm not going to address those questions just yet.

My wife, bless her long suffering soul, likes to watch "Army Wives" because she can relate a bit to the characters and situations in which they find themselves. Last nights episode (which I stayed awake to watch with my wife) had Trevor trying to redeploy to Iraq, and popping pain pills to try to recover faster. My wife said, "great, now he's going to get hooked on pain pills". I replied that situation isn't uncommon.

In his book "In Search of the Warrior Spirit" Richard Heckler wrote about a soldier who had slept on only one side for fifteen years because of a neck injury. Fifteen years of just sucking up the pain and driving on.

A SEAL once told me that there are no healthy SEALs, just guys who drive on in spite of the injuries. That is why 800mg ibuprofen caplets are called "Ranger Candy" and 500mg acetominophen pills nicknamed "Airborne M&Ms". You do what you've got to do to not let your buddies down. Because no matter how bad the joints hurt, somewhere down in your soul it would hurt worse to give up and fail your team mates.

That is the flip side of duty, honor, and country. It is a body used up and worn out prematurely housing a mind and soul that never back down, never quit, never waiver.

There is a Japanese poem that translates roughly into english:

Death, lighter than a feather.
Duty, heavier than a mountain.

I think on those words from time to time. It is inspiring to be among those who continually choose the heavy load, choose others over themselves, choose to believe in something larger than their own individual needs.

At the end of this post I am no closer to explaining duty and love than when I started. I guess if you understand duty and love you don't need to be told why men went AWOL from hospital units to make their way back to the front lines in WWII, or why a soldier whose leg was ripped up by an IED dedicates himself to physical therapy just so that he can regain his unit in theater.

26 July 2008

My "Expert" opinion

The Lady Tam has written various snarky posts about the value of opinions on firearms given over the internet, especially on webforums.

Her latest references Kim du Toit's comments about the M4/M16 and it's possible replacements. Now Kim has earned the right to talk about what makes a good infantry rifle, having served in the South African Army for a stint. But it doesn't make his opinion gospel, it just makes his opinion count a little bit more than the guy who claims he was in "Omega Group" which was comprised solely of Seals and Delta Operators who took the missions too tough for the regular spec ops crowd.

Unfortunately there seem to be a lot more secret squirrels out there than real operators, and just because you earned a Ranger tab or SEAL trident doesn't make you an expert on firearms. I watched a former SEAL turned journalist proclaim in all seriousness that a "near miss from a 50 cal is still lethal because of the shockwave of the bullet".

But no matter what the exact level of expertise a service member or veteran actually has, it is more important to get to the bottom of the gripe than the actual words. What does a soldier really mean when he says the 5.56 is "too small" and the m4 needs a gas piston system?

When we say we want a bigger caliber, what we really want is increased lethality. We want every round out of the barrel to be inherently more lethal than the current M855 ball ammunition. If this can happen by using some super projectile in the current 5.56 brass, by all means let's do it.

When we say we want a gas piston system, what we really want is increased reliability. If a change of powder in the current 5.56 loading can stop the fouling problems associated with direct impingement then by all means let's do it.

A government contract shouldn't specify a design, it needs to specify a performance parameter. A rifle weighing no more than Z, dimensions no larger than A and B, reliability greater than X, lethality as measured by permanent wound channel D% greater than m855 ball, a ballistic path that allows a battlesight zero to 350 meters, recoil the same or less than the m4 shooting m855.

If you give a bunch of corporations those parameters and then have a competition for the winner, I'm pretty sure we'd get a dang fine rifle out of it. As a soldier I really don't care about what "Gucci Gear" is currently "tacticool" I just care that it works.

I have written in the past that the m4/m16 system IS very good weapon system, and it will remain a good weapon system. The Mauser 98 has been continuously manufactured in some corner of the world or another since 1898. Good designs withstand the test of time. The m98, the AK-47, the AR-15, the FAL, the 1911, the Glock. The list goes on and on, it doesn't mean that those designs are perfect, only that they are very good.

Then again, government procurement replaced the m14 with the m16 and the 1911 with the m9. There is logical rational for more numerous smaller bullets, but there is an equally valid rational for few larger bullets.

The data suggests that our kill to loss ratio is more dependent on our superior technology and teamwork than the size of the bullets we carry, however the data also shows that our medium machine guns (30 caliber) are our most effective weapon at the platoon level.

At some point there has to be an optimal balance between cartridge size and therefor mass, and projectile lethality. I think the 7.62x51 is a tad on the heavy side, and the 5.56x45 a tad on the light side, but I don't have any graphs to prove or disprove my hypothesis.

So to end this rambling post, I really don't have a dog in the fight for the next Army service rifle. I just want something that is lighter, more lethal, more reliable, and at least as accurate as what we currently have.

Section 8 Housing: FAIL

Here is a good thought provoking article. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime

Earlier this year, Betts presented her findings to city leaders, including Robert Lipscomb, the head of the Memphis Housing Authority. From what Lipscomb said to me, he’s still not moved. “You’ve already marginalized people and told them they have to move out,” he told me irritably, just as he’s told Betts. “Now you’re saying they moved somewhere else and created all these problems? That’s a really, really unfair assessment. You’re putting a big burden on people who have been too burdened already, and to me that’s, quote-unquote, criminal.” To Lipscomb, what matters is sending people who lived in public housing the message that “they can be successful, they can go to work and have kids who go to school. They can be self-sufficient and reach for the middle class.”

Lipscomb must be a world class douche bag to completely ignore the data. The same technique Betts used is the same technique that the CDC uses to track diseases, so yes you CAN say that they have caused all these problems.

I'm probably a bad person for thinking that the solution to poverty is to embrace the fact that I can't change other people. In the words of some wise person, "Change comes from within".

Government intervention is a bad idea. First it built low income housing that concentrated crime and poverty, then it gave "Section 8 Vouchers" and exported the crime to a larger area. Had the social crusaders not gotten there way back in the 60's through 90's we wouldn't have the unintended consequences of their folly today.

When policy is based on feeling instead of facts it isn't unsurprising that the outcome is worse than the initial situation.

25 July 2008

Not the result that I expected at all

Your results:
You are Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)

Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Medicine and physical healing are your game,
but wooing women isn't a strong suit.

Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz


Prayer is an interesting topic.

If you are an atheist prayer might seem to be a silly ritual form of talking to your imaginary friend. If you are an atheist you might believe that talking through problems on your own is a valid approach to seeking a solution or resolution in your life. Whether you are talking to your imaginary friend or to yourself, the effect is more important than the intent.

When we pray three things happen that I want to blog about.

It outlines the outcome we desire.
It helps us realize our feelings on a conscious level.
It helps us realize our individual powerlessness.

Now no Priest or Rabbi will tell you that your prayers will be answered in the manner that you want all the time. But they will tell you that prayer is time well spent. The reason why it is time well spent is because prayer eventually leads to acceptance or rejection.

Either we accept an unpleasant outcome as God's will and move on, or we reject it and work towards our desired outcome until we can reach some level of peace and acceptance.

If you want Grandma to get better (desired outcome) because you love her and would miss her terribly (recognized feelings) but you can't fix the cancer because you are not God (individual powerlessness) which is why you happen to be asking (or verbalizing to work through it if you aren't praying)...

Whether we speak the words to God or to a therapist (to yourself in self-therapy) the words need to come out. I'm not advocating that anyone stop therapy and start praying, I am saying that prayer has benefits outside of the off chance that the prayer will be answered.

Therapy isn't about changing everyone else. Prayer isn't about getting what we want. Both are about the growth we go through to deal with what life throws our way.

A side note, not every form of prayer is a laundry list of complaints, some prayer traditions are simply praise to the Creator of the Universe, which in and of itself is a tacit acknowledgment of our own humanity and lack of supernatural power.

12 Mile foot march

In the Army there are various levels of fitness. They fall into three categories; lazy fatbody; passes the PT test, and Stud. I normally hover between "passes the PT test" and "Stud". Since I got a desk job forced on me I've been solidly in "passes the PT test", In the last few years I haven't scored below a 240 out of 300 on a PT test.

The Army standard foot pace for marching on roads and carrying a 35 lb load is 4 miles per hour.
Some simple math gives us a time standard of 3 hours for 12 miles.

My boss finished in 2 hours and 24 minutes. I finished in 2 hours and 57 minutes, 58 seconds. His example raises the bar to what I have to achieve.

Physical fitness is a matter of routine and little else. Your body will get used to the demands put on it. So it's time for me to start demanding more out of myself.

24 July 2008

Feminism Failed?

Firehand posted a nice long read about how radical feminists are lamenting that they didn't succeed in their goals. One particular quote stuck in my craw, "feminism failed because while we changed the workplace we didn't change men."

From my perspective feminism succeeded. A woman who has choices to do whatever she wants, whether CEO or housewife. That is empowered by any reasonable standard. The reason why men haven't changed is simple, our choices haven't changed. For the most part we can go to work or go to jail. There are exceptions to every rule, Marko being a stay at home dad and budding author immediately comes to mind.

It seems that the feminist ideal that somehow failed is for women to "have it all". Case in point that even men can not "have it all".

It is dang near impossible to get a high paying job that doesn't eat up family time.
It is dang near impossible to raise healthy, well adjusted children without at least one stay at home parent.
It is dang near impossible to not compromise with your spouse.

When you add up all the "near impossibilities" you come up with a lifestyle that is so far from possible that even wishing for such a utoptia will leave you feeling depressed.

I love and adore my wife, but our marriage isn't always going to be wine, roses, and Barry White. I am lucky enough to have a partner who can choose the most logical choice even if she doesn't like it. She knew that my Army career would make a career for her an afterthought, but we have a plan in place to continue inputting into her IRA so that just because she won't put in 30 years at the same company she won't have a retirement of her own.

My wife worked and paid the bills while I finshed up college. The fruits of my labor are the fruits of her labor. But she doesn't see it that way, she feels that if she isn't working that somehow she's a failure. It isn't a logical viewpoint, but both she and I grew up with with parents who struggled financially. Some of our worldview is intricately tied into that experience.

So when I read that "feminism has failed" and that a woman should work at all costs, it pisses me off. I don't need outside sources telling my wife that she's failing some esoteric philosophy of a few feminazis. My success came about only because of my wife's success.

You can't put a dollar value on a happy home and loving marriage. I choose not to live in a world where success is measured in dollars or home value. One of the things that I've learned while bitterly clinging to religion is that rich people die the same as the rest of us, but the relationships we have are truly precious.

Someone once observed that no one on their deathbed wishes that they spent more time at the office.

23 July 2008

Old Young Men

There have been essays written by smarter and more eloquent people than I about healthy male culture. The bottom line is that old men are instrumental in the development of young men. When there is a lack of old men the young men have a tendency to turn "feral". It has been argued that to have well behaved young men you need dangerous old men, and I believe this is true.

This is a simple, even "Darwinian", concept. Successful men have survived their environement, they have achieved a level of success that gives them the authority of experience. It is the whole "been there, done that" factor.

The US Army and Marine Corps turn young men into old men very quickly. Not only in body, but in the mind and soul. The amount of "experience" that one can amass while serving is intense. And experience is what seperates the old men from the young men.

I don't know about or understand the processes that women have to bring up a girl into adulthood. Maybe there isn't a need for dangerous old women to keep the young women in line. As an observer I think that girls don't go "feral" but they go "tomboy" without the feminizing influence of a successful woman. I don't use the word "feminizing" lightly, it is a magical thing full of power and mystery. But that is enough on a subject about which I know next to nothing.

Soon I will be in the last year of my 20's, and I'm guessing that 30 is the gateway year into middle age. By the norms of the Army a Lieutenant is supposed to be a young man 21 to 23 years of age. The War on Terror opened up a lot of officer slots that prior service NCO's like myself volunteered to fill. Right now we have the largest population of OCS graduates filling the junior officer ranks since Vietnam. One could write a dissertation about aftermath of Vietnam, transitioning to an all volunteer force, and the officers who were commissioned through OCS such as Gen. Tommy Franks.

Which leads to some interesting questions. When my peers and I start retiring in a decade how will we have affected the Army? Will we leave behind a leadership or competency gap similar to the mass exodus of experience that happened after the first Gulf War (and Vietnam, Korea, and WWII)? Or instead will we have brought up and developed the young men to take our place? Will the influx of prior service officers be a force for innovation or will it stifle progress? There are a lot of questions running around my head that simply cannot be answered now. My suspicion is that the type of people who become officers and NCOs simply will not allow any one generation of leaders to become the linchpin of organizational competency. After all, the military has more experience developing young men into competent leaders than any other organization I have ever encountered.

21 July 2008


Calling Cadence is something that chain gang prisoners and Soldiers have in common. Slaves picking cotton would do a call and response cadence. I imagine the Greek Hoplites sang to unify their movements to maintain the phalanx. What songs have the Roman roads forgotten as the legions who marched them faded into history?

You can hear cadence calling in the Blues and Gospel, soul and jazz. The rhythm of the words and notes uniting different people into one effort.

There is freedom in cadence, but only within the framework. That is what separates jazz from noise. Random sounds are noise, but variation and expression controlled within a framework is art.

The framework for cadence is the beat. The familiar "Left, Left, Left right left" called out by a Drill Sergeant to new recruits as they learn to move their bodies in unison. Two beats followed by three beats that take the same space in time. It really goes "Left (right) Left (right) Left Right Left". The emphasis placed on the spoken words makes the silences between them pop as everyones right foot hits the marching surface.

How does this apply to anything larger? Maybe it doesn't. Maybe you hear the rhythm, maybe it touches your soul in a way that affects who you are, and how you see the world. Then again, maybe not.

Kossack's Comment

This is a comment from Kossack,

Hey now. The LEFT in places like Colombia knows a thing or two about the mercenary life, too. And this flaming liberal (social democrat at heart) exercises her right to bear arms. Point being: I like your spirit, but I'm not sure about the labels you use. I think they can divide and obscure more than they clarify sometimes, and make us feel that we have an easy "us" and "them" to divide our friends and neighbors into, instead of engaging with them. I think the facts are on our side, and we need only speak the truth and - as you communicate so effectively - refuse to be afraid. Self-defense is a human right - not a "right" or "left" issue.

I agree that self-defense is a human right.

But I also know that the Left embraces civilian disarmement. Mao, Castro, Hitler, Stalin, the usual cast of suspects. I applaud your ideal to engage with those that want to disarm you, but fundamentally they won't be happy until you are disarmed. They don't want reasonable restrictions, they want disarmement so that they have power over you.

If you don't think that Democrats do not want to confiscate firearms here in the US, take a look at the confiscations that took place after Hurricane Katrina. When people need the ability to defend themselves the most the Democrats in New Orleans began systematic firearm confiscation based on the gun registry.

The very same gun registry that CANNOT be used to prosecute a criminal for failing to register an illegal weapon, because that would violate said criminals Fifth Ammendment protection of the right to not self incriminate. I wish I was making this stuff up. The only purpose left for gun registration is to have a list of who is armed, so that when the time comes you can disarm them.

I thank you for engaging in discourse with me, I'm glad that we have Democrats like you who believe in the right to keep and bear arms. But the proposed legislation this year to renew the AWB was championed by Democrats (the usual crowd; Boxer, Feinstein, etc). The original AWB was the product of the Democrats. GCA 68 was the product of Democrats, and GCA 34 was the product of Democrats. I can't paint the picture any clearer than that, the Left wants us disarmed. If telling the truth is "dividing" or "polarizing" then perhaps division and polarization should be embraced instead of avoided.

I am not going to address FARC in this post, maybe some other time.

20 July 2008

Glock 19, S&W Sigma

Today I met up with my older bro for some trigger time. I brought my 1911, he brought a Glock 19 and Smith and Wesson Sigma that didn't get bought or traded at the gunshow.

The only real difference between the two is the trigger. The Sigma trigger is awful, but the pistol goes bang every time you pull it, I couldn't execute a double tap. I'm not a fan of the Sigma trigger, but it's not a bad gun, just the poor man's Glock. A quick Google should tell you quite a bit about the Sigma/Glock patent case.

The Glock, well it's a Glock. The little black plastic fantastic. And it's in 9x19 which is really cheap to feed compared to the 1911.

Then we informally plinked with some AK's. Then we pulled out the 308's and sighted them it at 25, 50, 100, and 200 yards. The new scope base on the Savage needs to be loctited into place and I need to work on my bench technique as I wasn't getting better than 2.5 MOA at 200. Everybody has a bad day behind the scope, hopefully next time I'll remember my sandsock and shoot better.

My wife has been pistol shopping for a bit, and while she wants a revolver (good choice on her part) my bro didn't have a revolver in the trade pile, but the Glock is a good pistol for training/plinking. So I traded one of my rifles for the pistol, and took it home to my wife. She wasn't as excited as when I got her a wedding ring, or even the mountain bike, but she is pleased. She now has a pistol of her own, one that is simple and fun to shoot. She can always put it up for trade later for a revolver, but I felt it was important for her to have something of her very own.

Tip for husbands. DON'T TRAIN YOUR WIFE. You can have all the qualification/certification in the world and to your wife it doesn't mean squat. Have a buddy, brother, sister, someone your wife isn't emotionally involved with, someone she can take correction from without feeling like a failure, have that guy or gal train your wife. When you shoot with your wife it should be FUN. Training is work, and oftentimes work isn't fun.

When your wife realizes on her own that she might benefit from practicing her draw and shoot from her concealed carry position and ASKS for your help, then you can HELP her, not instruct her.

* UPDATE * The above advice is valid only if you happen to know someone who is qualified to teach your spouse. If you don't then there are plenty of us out here who would love to help a new shooter, and there are professionally taught classes as well.

You Can't Disarm Me.

The Left doesn't fear the gun, they fear me. Specifically they fear the power that me and a gun have over other people (like them) who don't have a gun. So instead of getting a gun of their own or taking Karate or any other healthy method to make themselves powerful, they seek to disarm me.

I am a professional soldier, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I can clear a room or engage a single target from 600 meters away. As an individual I am a formidable force, and as a member of a team I am an unstoppable force.

It is time for EVERY gun owner to realize that. Politically we are unstoppable if we stick together and fight the good fight. Physically if we train, individually or in groups, we can protect ourselves and loved ones from those who would do them harm. UNSTOPPABLE.

Because the LEFT fears us. They think that taking our guns will make us powerless. But I have a secret.

I don't need a gun to kill. I guess it's not a secret anymore.

I have a degree in Chemistry for crying out loud, I can poison someone three different ways without breaking a sweat. I can build effective bombs that are considered "weapons of mass destruction". Heck even making a toxic gas is child's play (blood agents are particularly gruesome yet easy, carbon monoxide anyone?).

And so can you. Humans have been killing each other since the Dawn of Time with little more than sticks, stones, and willpower. Can we outlaw tall buildings because I might push a liberal off? How about banning bodies of water where I might drown one? How about banning gasoline because I might burn one? Ram one with a car, poison ones food, poison ones air, poison ones water, electrocution, the list is seemingly endless (kinda like the song "6 Million Ways to Die").

I am a powerful individual, surrounded by powerful individuals, and we have no desire to kill anyone. We don't want to break into your house, rape your loved ones, and steal your stuff. We want to live our lives in peace. And being powerful helps us ensure that someone else doesn't break into our house, rape our loved ones, and steal our stuff.

The gun doesn't turn mild mannered people into raging lunatics searching for a clocktower. The gun doesn't make Homeboy drop out of school to deal drugs. The gun is not a societal ill.

Thinking that if everyone is gun free that somehow all of recorded history would fade away and people wouldn't go back to murdering each other with knives, sticks, rocks, and fists? Just like they have in merry old England?

You can't disarm me, you can confiscate my possessions but at the end of the day, you'll have to kill me to take away the power that I possess simply because I choose not to be a victim.

A healthy society NEEDS powerful individuals. If we don't have them, then we don't have freedom. We would become the oppressed, unable to break free of the chains we put ourselves in. And then when the situation became intolerable, would we have the brave few who would pledge their lives and livelihood to bring "Liberty or Death"?

So here's a message to the Liberals. You Can't Disarm Me, so Don't Even Try.

19 July 2008

Double Fun Gun Day!

Well at least it's a Double Good Gun Day.

I got my 9.3x62 Mauser back from the gunsmith AND I went to a gunshow. I brought a duffel bag of old BDU's and sold them all, which frees up exactly one duffel bag worth of space in the house.

But most important I spent time with my older brother, which doesn't happen nearly enough.

So the details of the 9.3x62. It's an old cartridge, and a good one. It launches a 286 grain projectile around 2,400 fps in it's modern loading and has been used quite successfully in Africa on the Big 5. For those of you not familiar with the Big 5 they are; Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Rhinoceros, Lion, and Leopard. Some like to add Hippopotamus for the Big 6, and possibly Crocodile.

While there are parts of Africa that have the 375 Bore (9.5 mm) as the minimum legal caliber there are still places where the 9.3x62 is legal.

For many years the Mauser B grade commercial rifle in 9.3x62 was the most powerful commercially available rifle to the farmers in Africa. Kim du Toit has written about his ancestors and the hazards they faced. I bet there are quite a few modern white farmers who wish for the firepower advantage that a heavy hitting rifle offers.

Brigid wrote an informative and interesting passage on the Turk Mauser. http://mausersandmuffins.blogspot.com/2008/07/no-neither-on-mine-are-re-barreled_1747.html

I have one turk Mauser that is pristine, an ATF that is really a reworked Gew98. My other two are K.Kale m98 Large Ring Small Shank rifles. One I got in pristine condition and sporterized, had the bolt bent by a real gunsmith, added a Weaver rail, and recrowned the barrel. It shoots fine and while I've ruined any collectors value, I'm happy with it and that's all that matters.

The other K.Kale I bought simply as a lone action that had the charging hump removed, drilled and tapped, and bolt bent. I sent it off to a real gunsmith, Mike McCabe . http://www.mccabeguns.com/

Mike trued the action, fixed the bolt handle cut to make the bolt index true, and had it case hardened. He installed a Lothar Walther heavy sporter barrel and set the headspace. He had the metal manganese phosphate coated for a durable finish, and installed Williams sights for my backup irons. Mike did great work and it is amazing how he turned a $75 action into a serious hunting rifle.

One of these days I'll get around to actually posting pictures.

Best part of all I found a real Mauser banner marked 2.5x scope for $85 at the gunshow. It doesn't have the German post reticle that I would like, but it fits my vision of how this old school safari style rifle with an American twist should come together.

18 July 2008

I got schooled, Torah style.

An anonymous commentor has given me correction

There is more to Kosher beef than just draining the blood. But it would be a doctoral dissertation to list all the requirements and the variations on them (removing the fat, purging nerves, etc) and when I rant I just want to rant.

The sciatic nerve (along with the fat) must be removed from the hind quarter to be considered kosher.

The removal of Chelev and the Gid Ha'Na'sheh - known as Nikkur in Hebrew ("Treiboring" in Yiddish, derived from the Czech) - is complicated and tedious, and special training is required to be able to do it properly. Since the Gid Ha'Na'sheh and most of the Chelev is found only in the hind quarters of the animal, the custom developed in most Jewish communities outside of Israel to eat only meat from the front of the animal, thereby avoiding the concerns of ensuring that all forbidden fats and nerves in the hindquarter are properly removed. Such an arrangement is feasible in countries where a large non-Kosher market exists, especially since the non-Kosher market considers meat from the hindquarter as more tender and desirable. It is interesting to note that Rabbi Yaakov Yosef zt"l, the first (and last) Chief Rabbi of New York City, instituted this custom in the United States in the late 1800's. Many of Rabbi Yosef's efforts to improve the standards of Kashrus in the New World were resisted by the established "Kosher" meat market, and went unappreciated in his lifetime. Indeed, the aggravation and calumny to which he was subjected brought him to an early death. His lasting achievement in this field, however, was the successful promulgation of the policy to avoid the use of the hindquarter, thus ensuring that issues of Gid Ha'Na'sheh and most of the Chelev in the animal would not pose a significant concern to the Kosher-observant community.

I did not know that this particular practice was uniquely "American", but it makes sense as any complicated meat cutting that has to be done by hand will raise the price of the finished cut of meat.

But while this is a good point, my original point still stands, that if the preparation of the animal is kosher, then the meat is kosher. So if you want a kosher leg roast you'd better get to know a a kosher butcher.

14 July 2008

EGW 25 MOA base

So I got the EGW 25 minute scope base, and it almost bottoms out the scope. I didn't realize that the scope zeroed offset of center. Now I have over five full turns of "UP" adjustment.

A 20 minute scope base would have been better, but we'll see how it works out on the next trip to the range.

13 July 2008

Hebrew National commercial....

I like Hebrew National hot dogs, but I prefer all beef hot dogs anyways.

So the newest Hebrew National commercial has got me kinda pissed off.

It shows the outline of a cow, the kind you would find in an Agriculture textbook. The voice over narrates "We only use the choicest cuts of kosher beef" and the front quarter of the cow lights up in pretty reds and orange tones. The voice comes back, "No fillers" and the hind quarter of the cow lights up in depressing blue and gray tones. Then the voice says in a smarmy tone "No ifs ands or 'butts' about it!".

And all this means is that the advertising agency hired by Hebrew National has absolutely no flipping clue as to what makes beef kosher.

First off the animal has to be listed as "clean" meaning it chews the cud and has a cloven hoof. This includes cows, sheep, goats, deer, elk, antelope, buffalo, bison, and giraffe.

Secondly the animal has to be slaughtered in the prescribed manner. This boils down to draining the blood. There are different methods but it ends up that the meat contains less blood than if the carcass wasn't drained.

Third really depends on who you ask, some salt the remaining blood from the meat, some soak and rinse repeatedly. There is an old saying, "Ask three Jews how to keep kosher, get three different answers". But that is neither here nor there.

Because there are no "unKosher" cuts of beef. The leg roasts are not any less Kosher than the front shoulder roast. As long as the slaughter was kosher, ALL the meat is kosher.

There is no flipping "cuts of beef" chart in the Talmud that makes the hindquarter of a cow "unclean".

So why did one end up on a commercial? Probably because the average American has never bothered to learn what Kosher means AND has only a Foodnetwork level understanding of cuts of meat (at best). Those who live or grew up in rural areas probably have a much better chance of knowing something about butchering.

In the grand scheme of things it isn't worth even the effort it took to post this blog. But you can bet cash money that some housewife somewhere is going to put the dots together and choose shoulder roast instead of a leg roast because this commercial showed her a picture that listed the meat from the front half of the cow as kosher when she entertains Jewish friends.

The Militia Movement of the 90's

Having done the High School and College thing in the 1990's I remember all the hullabaloo that the Militia Movement generated amongst the bedwetters.

The basis for the Militia movement is the belief that Government will begin forcibly disarming the American people, and that the people should be trained to resist.

As an American citizen I am all for people being able to resist a tyrannical government. George Orwell was the completely opposite side of the political spectrum as me, but he believed that the rifle on the wall in the peasants cottage kept him free. And he was correct.

Remember Ruby Ridge and Waco. Remember that the only charge that ever stuck to Randy Weaver was "failure to appear". Remember that not every Federal employee is a law scholar, many see themselves as your masters and not as your servants.

It seems more often that our public servants have become rules Nazi's who refuse to make a decision, or act with common sense. Death by regulation is going to be the final death of this country.

Experiencing the Dawn

Brigid asks a question that I can actually answer, "Yes, yes I have".

Have you ever watched the color of the dawn? Really watched it as it turns from black to pink to orange to the brilliant white of the world. When the dawn lightens behind the stark shapes of your life, and like a rose unfolding, like a lovers first kiss, there's a quivering beginning of hope.

In the course of executing my obligations to Uncle Sam I've had the pleasure of dealing with a lot of dawn and dusk time. The changing light is the hardest time to see, the light and shadows play tricks on the eyes.

The phrase "It's always darkest before the dawn" is one that I believe from my subjective experience pulling "Stand To" and the night marches that end after daybreak, and land navigation exercises that start at night and end in the morning. There is no deeper dark than an hour before dawn in some thick swamp, where a tiny flashlight seems to shine like a solar flare.

When dawn finally comes after a night of hard movement through the brush, a 55 pound life sucking tick of a rucksack on your back, it is like a rush of hope/life/energy into your soul. The ground hugging fog still sticks to your wet uniform, but you know that soon you won't be cold, wet, and miserable. You'll either be warm and dry, or warm, wet, and miserable.

Another thing is the silence of the night is broken when the dawn comes. As if every bird and insect waited for the downstroke of a conductors baton to sing.

I've been lucky, to do what I do and all the opportunities that it has opened up. Which is probably why I love to sleep in on weekends.

12 July 2008

America's New Motto

Don't Start a War With US, Cause We Ain't Got Nothing Better to Do!

Kinda has a nice ring to it....

Acer Laptop touchpad mouse

Back in January I bought an Acer brand laptop. The specs were right for the price, dual core proc, 2 gigs of memory, etc.

But the touchpad mouse sucks big fat donkey anatomy.

Other folks have had the same problem as testified by the activity on computer webforums. The fix at most places has been the same, update the drivers.

So I updated my drivers, and so far it seems to be better.

My advice, right now laptop prices are so cheap for every brand make sure you do your homework reading the reviews on every brand you are interested in. I've been happy as a clam with my purchase except for the mouse, but I wish I'd done more homework.

10 July 2008

MadOgre talks about the Barrett 50

The Barrett M82A1 is also known as the M107 is an awesome rifle.

I respect Ogre, but I disagree on his choice of optic, and his reasoning behind it.

For a sniper set up – this is the ticket. Lots of police snipers have said that this is too much scope. I really don't think so. The first job of a Sniper is not just for putting firepower into a target, but observing, reporting, and identifying the target and what's in the target area. It's foolish to say more magnification is not a good thing for identifying a subject at long range. Is that guy down range the subject you are looking for or does he just look like the guy you are looking for? At 20 power you might not know for sure... you are too far away. At 32 power, you can make a positive ID.

The average police sniper sniper shot is around 80 meters. You don't need 32x magnification to make a positive identification at 80 meters. Long range positive ID is accomplished by the spotter, who talks the sniper onto target. If you aren't working in a team you are not working at full effectiveness. I cannot think of a situation where the sniper would need that much magnification on the rifle.

A 20x magnification scope very difficult to work with at close range on a hard kicking rifle. 16x magnification is as high as most tactical shooters will go in a fixed power scope. Anything higher than that and you need to be able to dial it down do deal with mirage, and open up your field of view to scan for targets.

Now the US Army chose a fixed 10x scope for the 308 caliber m24 Sniper system. The Marine Corps used a fixed 10x for years until going to a 3-12x variable. For the 300 Win Mag used by SOCOM a fixed 16x optic is the day optic of choice (which makes sense for those long shots the 308 just loses the oomph to reach out and touch). For the M107 the Army chose a 4.5-14 variable scope.

Now Ogre has spent a lot of time laying lead down at some pretty impressive distances. And from his perspective magnification makes sense, especially when looking for hard to spot coyotes. But more magnification isn't always better, the more magnification the lower the field of view. The lower the field of view, the less you can see. Your eye will focus in on movement before color or shape. Which is why the quality of the glass is more important than the magnification of the optic.

But Ogre doesn't work with a spotter. Ogre wants a riflescope that he can spot through. This makes sense for a one man operation, but not for an operational team. The wider your field of view the faster you can acquire targets.

He isn't wrong for liking the scope he likes, but many of those police snipers who say it is "too much scope" are probably on to something.

09 July 2008

I hate it when...

A company advertises something on their websight that they don't actually make or sell simply because the hack they paid to set it up can't make a websight without using FrontPage.

Case in point, the Army Knowledge Online websight allows usernames to be generated automatically that violate the administrators username guidelines. Instead of fixing the code they pay administrators to MANUALLY approve or disapprove each new user.

Next case in point. Evolution Gun Works advertised a 20 minute scope base for a short action flat rear (that's pre-accutrigger) Savage. I ordered one last week. I paid using PayPal.

I paid for a product that doesn't exist. Got an email saying, "We only manufacture 0 and 25 minute bases for flat rear Savages, would either of these work for you?"

A 25 minute scope base is pretty steep for most scopes, but I should be OK with the Bushnell Elite 3200 10x40 mildot I'm using. It had 70 (advertised) minutes of total adjustment (although this one is a few years old, Bushnells websight advertises 100), so offsetting 25 will give me (in theory) 60 minutes of elvation up, and 10 minutes of elevation down (or 75 up, 25 down it the total adjustment is 100). One of these days when I'm really bored I'll count ALL the clicks and find out exactly how much adjustment my scope has.

But I digress. It only takes around 45 MOA (or less) to reach a thousand yards with a 308, so either way I'll be plenty good, if EGW's canted scope base is better built than their web page.

The AK/AR difference.

In the world of modern warriors the you have the "Ninjas" and the "Vikings".

Ninjas like to have elegant and refined weapons. These are the guys (and gals) that like to shoot tricked and tuned AR-15's and Glocks. They like manageable recoil from the 5.56 and 9mm cartridges. If a ninja shoots a bolt action rifle, you can bet it's got a heavy barrel and a buttpad. Ninjas find hours of meticulous cleaning a meditative experience.

On the other hand you have Vikings. Warriors so burly that they choose weapons with little ergonomic flair, instead of adapting the weapon to them they adapt themselves to the weapon. They shoot AK's and 1911's. They like weapons that go BANG every time and pack a whallup at both ends. If a Viking shoots a bolt action rifle it'll be a Mauser or Mosin, a full power battle rifle with a steel buttplate. Vikings don't obsess about cleaning, they do it and get it done.

Now there are people who have traits of both Ninjas and Vikings. People who have the worst habits of both mistreat AR's by never cleaning them and shooting crap ammo. People who have the best of both spend hours actually cleaning an AK, taking great care to know their weapons inside and out.

Now there is no point in arguing who is deadlier, Ninjas or Vikings. A warrior is a warrior. Sometimes the Ninja will win, sometimes the Viking will win.

So if deep in your soul there is a warrior with wild hair swinging an effective if crude axe, you are a Viking. If deep in your soul is sneaky little bastard who dresses in "tactical" black, you are a Ninja. If you dress in black, have wild hair, but deep down in your soul is a kid playing XBox, you might be a Mall Ninja.

07 July 2008

Oak firewood.

One of the things that we do in the summer is cut firewood for the winter.

My grandparents had a few trees felled. The logs needed sawing up into rounds for splitting. Today I got the oak cut into rounds. The maple and fir tree will have to wait for a bit.

Felt good to work with my hands and let my brain take a vacation. The Bible says that the rest of the laborer is sweet.

Depth of intelligence and character.

Kim du Toit has written on the failure of American higher education to truly educate, and Firehand has written a post with links to interesting articles on the same subject. One of the articles illustrates the authors view that colleges propagate a class system. I've been working on this post for a while, trying to put my thoughts into a coherent package.

There are people in my life who have depth of intellect but a shallow character. Also there are people in my life who are the complete opposite, salt of the earth honest and decent, but not intellectual. There are a precious few with both great intellect and great wisdom. What is surprising to me is how you can't tell any of that by how they appear. There is the old saying, "The clothes make the man", but that isn't true. The clothes give others expectations of the man, as do the trappings of an education wrapped up in a diploma or two.

One reason behind this post is based in part on a conversation that I had with my brother in law yesterday evening. The topic of discussion was how he treats his sister, my wife. Repeatedly my wife has asked him to modify behaviors that she finds unpleasant and hurtful, and each time he has refused on the grounds that "it wouldn't be true to himself" to do that. If being true to yourself means being rude to others, that is a very egocentric way to live.

The other reason behind this post is that I'm dressing differently in civilian attire to live up to the expectations of what is acceptable for a commissioned officer to wear in public. I miss my ratty jeans, sneakers, torn T-shirt and "gimme cap". I am at heart a redneck country boy. But in my head I'm an educated individual who knows that how I dress affects how my superiors and subordinates see me. Which is why I let my wife pick out my clothes, so I don't end up looking like a hayseed with a degree in chemistry.

Labels like "Noble Savage" or "Country Gentlemen" have been used in the past to categorize people of "low" station that were surprisingly civilized or genteel. And this is why it can't be misplaced modesty when Joe Huffman describes himself as a "rednecked, knuckle dragging Neanderthal". Having met the man briefly I am persuaded that this is not the case, but not because of any attire he wore. There are several other bloggers that I read religiously that are the same way, if I passed them on the street I probably wouldn't think twice about trying to strike up a conversation (and if I did I'd probably come across as some sort of fanboy).

The depth of character shows through their words and thoughts, not dress code. I think that I am not alone in wishing that I could share a few moments of conversation over a cool lemonade with the folks on my blogroll.

And when I compare those folks to others that dress to impress, maintain high grooming standards, but have words and thoughts that defy logic and common sense. The facade of intellectualism wrapped around a core of inconsistent emotions. We can just call them "Democrats", they have a look that gives an expectation of depth of intelligence, a depth of character, and it just isn't so. Of course there is an exception to every rule, I happen to think very highly of Joe Lieberman (oh wait, he was kicked out of the Democratic party, no wonder I like him).

The people I most enjoy associating with may not have a liberal arts degree, but they are educated by any reasonable measure. They may not be a theologian, but they have a moral code that includes firm definitions of right and wrong (and if they don't personally support someone elses choice, they respect their freedom to choose regardless). These people are not confined to any single "social class" and could suck down a beer with a welder or sip tea with aristocracy.

I know that I don't fit in amongst my peers. I can dress like them, and do the same job. But I will always be the son of a machinist who likes to tinker with computers, guns, and knives. And that's ok, the new American dream is to define your own success. I think retiring to a fairly remote area where I can brew my own beer, shoot long range targets, maybe even grow hay and run a few head of cattle sounds a lot like paradise.

06 July 2008

Drug prices

With the cost of prescription drugs very high in the good old US of A it stands to reason that drugs will be part of the impending campaigning about healthcare.

I am not a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or someone on the inside of the healthcare industry. I'm just a guy who studied Biochem.

Drug companies make a lot of money. This is not a bad thing to investors. Drug companies are continually searching for another new drug to bring to market that they can keep "on patent" for as long as possible to make as much money as possible. Having profitable drug companies is important for two reasons. 1) it funds the large scale studies needed for FDA approval of new drugs and 2) it gives incentive for researchers who don't work for the drug companies to investigate new molecules for theraputic properties.

Most new drugs don't come from Big Pharma. Most new drugs come from research done through NIH grants. NIH is the National Institute of Health. NIH grants go to research colleges and universities to fund the work Ph.D's and Ph.D candidates are doing in their particular fields that relate to improving human health. Not all of these grants are drug related, but many are.

Once a promising compound has been "discovered" by some enterprising Ph.D. candidate somewhere this is where Big Pharma steps in. They buy the rights to that molecule and take it through the various trials needed for FDA approval. This is where Big Pharma takes some risks, the biggest being that the FDA does not approve the drug at all, or that the drug is approved late into it's patent (less profit).

As such Big Pharma has used it's lobbyists to very good effect to change the legal rules to it's own benefit. They do this to make more money. It isn't a fluke that it is cheaper to buy American made drugs in Canada than it is in the US. The Canadian healthcare system uses it's collective bargaining power to bargain for lower prices, and it gets them. The VA does the same thing, as does GMC's health plan. Medicare/Medicaid is prohibited by law from collective bargaining, even though it would save the FedGov (and therefor taxpayers) some dollars.

Now here is a fix, deny on patent prescription drug benefits to Medicare/Medicaid participants with a few exceptions. This sounds heartless, but it really isn't. And the reason is this, most drugs do the exact same thing, there are VERY few "novel" drugs. In the human body there are a limited number of pathways that drugs can affect, and most "new" drugs are really old drugs with a minor change to let them stay "on patent".

For example, Prilosec and Nexium are both proton pump inhibitors for treating gastric reflux. They have THE EXACT SAME ACTIVE INGREDIENT. The only difference is in how the drug is prepared chemically. Nexium is chirally pure, prilosec isn't. But they do the exact same thing. Generic versions of prilosec cost pennies on the dollar compared to prescription Nexium. Not one single Medicare/Medicaid participant would be hurt by using the older, cheaper drug.

Hypertension medication is the same way, older medications are just as effective or more effective than new drugs. In the chemical world, newer does not automatically equal better. A comparison study of hypertension medicines determined that a simple diuretic (water pill) is safer and more effective than any beta blocker in the study.

Now diabetics have tons of generics, but there is ONE on patent drug that acts as a sulfonylurea without containing sulfur (for those who have allergies to sulfa drugs). That would be an acceptable exception to the rule, where a generic isn't available, but since it is on patent a copay should definitely be required.

How this affects you. If you have private insurance and your doctor prescribes you medication, you have the right to request a generic, and if your doctor won't you need to know his exact reasoning. Your doctor isn't a good doctor unless he/she understands how drugs work and can see through Big Pharma advertisements.

If you are a taxpayer you need to complain to your congresscritter that Medicare/Medicaid be allowed bargaining power and that the programs will not pay for on patent drugs. To cut costs we need to decrease benefits, bargain for lower drug prices, and require copays for medical supplies and services.

Reloading and range report

Had a nice trip to the range with a friend of mine.

I loaded up a "ladder test" for my buddies 7mm Rem Mag. Starting at 10% down and working up to max for a particular bullet by .5 grain increments until within a grain of max then progressing by 0.2 grain increments up to max charge. We found out something quite interesting, between 62.0 and 64.0 grains of IMR 7828 there was very little difference in point of aim/point of impact between loads. No signs of pressure all the way up to 66 grains of powder. Once we got above 64.5 grains of powder the grouping opened up considerably, which leads me to believe that the next higher accuracy node is above max charge and out of reach in this particular rifle. Not that I couldn't load above max charge, just that it isn't worth it to push the safety boundary.

So I'll load up a bunch of 7mm Rem Mag with the following, Federal Brass, CCI large rifle magnum primer, 63.5 grains IMR 7828 powder, Sierra GameKing 175 grain bullet. If you can get your brass for cheap you can load up 100 rounds of 7mm Mag for under 44 dollars, which works out to 44 cents a round for high quality ammunition.

The handloads for my 308 shot well, sub MOA at 200. I might be able to tweak the load for a little more performance, but at some point you just have to stop tweaking and say "good enough". I'm not sure if I'm at that point just yet, there are a few more things I'd like to try to the rifle before I tweak the load anymore. If I can't get the rifle to group better with this load, I'll try a 0.2 grain ladder test between 41 and 43.4 grains of IMR 4064 to see if I can find a point where the successive impacts of increasing charge have a very tight group. By picking the middle charge weight in a tight group you get a load that has some built in lenience as far as the powder goes, if you don't get the charge weight exactly right it doesn't throw the bullet impact outside of the normal group.

The load shot today; Winchester brass, 43.7 grain IMR 4064, CCI BR-2 large rifle benchrest primer, 168 grain HPBT (Nosler J4).

One of these days I'm going to get a chronograph so I can start testing velocity and standard deviation of my handloads. But as for right now, I'm just happy to get loads that shoot sub moa at distance. Besides, it's more fun to get your bullet drop data by the old fashioned method of actually shooting at distance instead of plugging in numbers to a ballistics program.

Remember, these loads are safe in the rifles I use, make sure that you do a proper load workup for your rifles as my powder scale (or yours) could be off one way or another, or our powder could be from different lots and have different burn properties. I publish these to help other people, not as an endorsement of the safety of any particular load. Being safe EVERY time means you won't get hurt that one time.

05 July 2008

Scrapyard Knives YardGuard.

I'm not a huge fan of expensive knives, but I got a reasonable deal on eBay for a YardGuard. Standard SR-77 (a variant of S7 shock steel) blade with molded Respirene C handle.

The blade is 0.280 inches thick at the spine, and the blade is saber ground. That means that it would take a metric ton of force to break this blade. The saber grind means that the spine portion of the blade is flat stock until the V grind starts. This gives you a blade that can take more lateral stress than a flat V grind blade of the same steel.

Others have called Scrapyard knives "Sharpened Prybars" and I can see that is an accurate description (or criticism). I don't think that the special steels that Busse kin knives are noted for are as important as the blade geometry and proper heat treatment for taking abuse. Ranger RD knives used to have a saber grind, but since customer feedback was negative about the saber grind that a full flat grind was adopted. This means that an earlier RD knife would have survived longer in NOSS's destruction test, but also that it wouldn't be as useable a knife as the current model.

Getting a knife that functions as a knife, well you can't go wrong with an expensive knife like Fallkniven, any of the Busse kin knives, and Ranger. If you shop around you can get a Ranger for under 100 easily, a used Busse kin for 150 to 250 (or if you get in on one of Dan's releases you could actually pay only asking price), and a new Fallkniven around 110. Anyway you slice it this is a serious investment in a tool that should give you a lifetime of trouble free service.

Or you can buy a sub 50 dollar knife that will also give you a lifetime of trouble free service. Cold Steel, SOG, and Buck all make quality durable knives. I am equally comfortable trusting my life to any of these less expensive knives.

On to more applicable comparisons. The handle on the YardGuard is smaller than on the RD-9, but it has a better finger groove for the index finger which feels more secure. It isn't hard to modify the handle on an RD, something that isn't an option with the YG.

I haven't been able to compare edge retention, but since both knives have essentially the same Rockwell hardness (58 for the RD, 57-59 for the YG) both should have excellent edge retention.

Pretty soon I'm going to have to thin the herd a bit and sell off some knives that are doubled up on features (how many big choppers does a guy need?).

EDIT: Follow up here, and here.

02 July 2008

Interesting day today...

My 14-50x60 Kruger spotting scope came today. It has a projected first focal plane mildot reticle for accurate ranging at all powers. So far it seems that it will fill my needs nicely. I'm going to let the company sniper team play with it and see if it is something they would be interested in.

Secondly I went shopping with my wife, we drove a bit further away than normal for groceries because only one store carries the brand and size of coffee creamer that my wife likes. And we ended up buying a couch that required a return trip with the truck.

I can't complain, the price was right (on both the couch and spotter). I'll need to pick up a tripod for the spotter before my next range trip.
By way of MadOgre we get news that Ben Thompson, whose blog "AmericanWarmonger" is in my links section, is in need of prayer after colliding with an antelope at freeway speeds on his motorcycle. He was air lifted to Salt Lake City.

Pray for his wife as well. They've had a rough patch of bad luck with the medical situation lately.