31 May 2009


The rack, strapato, iron maiden, hot coals, pincers under the fingernails, cat-o-nine tails, bullwhip, are all examples of torture.

They are examples of torture because they leave lasting injuries and scarring on the body. Mental scarring is a nice simile but if you can overcome it with therapy, it isn't a permanent scar.

Waterboarding does not leave scars.

The UN definition of "torture" is so broad that not refunding someone their money after they walk out of the latest Rosie O'Donnell movie is torture.

...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.
—UN Convention Against Torture

So now that the broadest definition of torture has been given, let us look at the correct definition.

1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony b: something that causes agony or pain
2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure

Waterboarding is uncomfortable, but it is not torture. Real torture is much more severe.

You can't fix stupid

To the old woman driving the Black Volvo XC80, Washington Plate 406 VRW, may you rot in hell.

When she changed lanes into me I damn near lost control of my vehicle, with my wife and three month old son in the car.

30 May 2009

Conventional/Unconventional Warfare

One of the reasons that the US Army was successful in the quelling the Phillipine insurrection is that not a single officer involved said, "We can do this the same way we did in WWII." Obviously they couldn't say that because the history had not yet happened. Many of the senior officers in the Phillipines at the turn of the century were handed down the wisdom of the Indian Wars and the pacification of the South after the Civil War.

The culture of competence in the Army at the time of the Phillipine Insurrection was shaped by a long history of localized junior officers working in concert with civilians and other government agencies to accomplish tactical tasks supporting overall strategy.

The single reason why the US Army failed in Vietnam was because the prevailing wisdom of the bulk of the US Army Officer Corps was fighting WWII set in Southeast Asia. The spectacular success of rapidly increasing the Officer Corps through Officer Candidate School during WWII was an innovation that worked in that war. Looking at the curriculum for OCS it was completely appropriate for WWII, and completely lacking in any coherent COunter INsurgency (COIN) doctrine for Vietnam.

Our greatest triumphs in WWII lead to stagnated thinking, and stagnated thinking was reinforced by Posse Comitatus, which in effect limits the policing powers of the US Military to quelling insurgency and imposing martial law.

One of the spectacular successes of Vietnam was the legitimization of Special Forces as its own branch. One of the spectacular failures of OIF is the failure of Special Forces to stop the insurgency in Iraq before it started. As the regular Army adapted to the realities on the ground Special Forces were insufficient in number to stabilize the country. In order to boost numbers Military Transition Teams (MTTs) and Police Transition Teams (PTTs) were created to provide advisers to the Iraqi military and National Police. The Regular Army developed doctrine and schools from lessons learned on the ground by junior leaders. The role of SOCOM forces have been largely focused to Ranger style raids and ambushes and intel gathering.

The ability of large organizations to change is largely a function of the mental agility of its members and the willingness of senior leaders to embrace new solutions. The difference between the officers who grew up in WWII and served in Vietnam is completely different than the officers who grew up in or post Vietnam and served in Iraq. The massive UN deployments of the Clinton Administration also shaped Army thinking to support and stability operations, just one step shy of full COIN doctrine.

Based on our current trend, our armed forces should be quite adaptable for the next 25 to 30 years. Our ability to fight a conventional war will remain high as well as the added ability to conduct irregular warfare.

29 May 2009

Thoughts on the ammo shortage

Tam noted that the "oddball" calibers get shot more because there is less competition for things like 44-40 and 257 Roberts than there is for 223 Remington or 308 Winchester.

I concur. I have not seen a shortage of 7.62x54 or 8x57 in the stores, which makes it all the more ironic that I'd already stocked up on those cartridges.

Secondly, reloading components are easy to buy in bulk, but common caliber projectiles are the first to go. After all the 30 caliber projectiles work in all the popular 30 caliber cartridges. The only 30 caliber rounds I could find were 130 grain or lighter, good for varmints but not much else.

However there were plenty of 6mm, 25 caliber, 7mm, and .311 bullets to be had.

Lessons learned. Buy primers and powder in bulk, and buy powder that can work in a bunch of different rounds. When bullets get scarce it is good to have a few rifles on hand in various bore sizes, that way you can always load up something to shoot.

Comments are encouraged, if you noted anything to help get through the next big ammo shortage.

New Job

After one year of service as a Company Executive Officer I have been given the priviledge of taking charge as an Anti-Tank Platoon Leader.

I couldn't be happier.

25 May 2009

Gun Design

There are exactly two major factors that you need to account for when designing a firearm to hold a controlled explosion in the chamber. First there is pressure, second is recoil impulse.

Recoil impulse is pretty easy to deal with, and is the basis for semi automatic firearms everywhere. Manual action firearms such as bolt action, falling block, radial lock, or revolver are designed to keep the brass in place. There are a lot of different ways to stop the rearward movement of brass, and a couple different ways to allow it to move rearward in a controlled manner. Recoil impulse begins when the brass begins to expand from pressure and ends after the projectile leaves the bore and the gas pressure equalizes with the ambient atmospheric pressure.

The other major factor is pressure. Pressure is what causes guns to go "kaboom" and turn from functioning machines into scrap metal in the blink of an eye. Pressure is your best friend for reliability and worst nightmare for barrel life.

For example, a few "low pressure" rounds, the 30-30 Win and 416 Rigby. Now one is a "marginal deer round" and the other is a classic "stopper" cartridge. How can they both work at low pressure? Surely the one that pushes more energy has to work at a higher pressure?

Not necessarily true. Pressure is what pushes the bullet down the bore, nothing more. The faster the bullet needs to go then more pressure is needed for the same bullet. Comparing the working pressure of the 416 Rigby and the 416 Barret shows that the Barret works at a higher pressure than the Rigby.

The "water capacity" of a cartridge has a lot to do with how much pressure it can generate by how much powder it can store. The burn rate of a powder has a lot to do with how pressure is generated. The faster the burn rate the quicker the pressure spikes and then drops off as the projectile travels down the bore. The slower the burn rate the slower the pressure will spike as the bullet travels down the bore. The chemical energy in a fast powder is exactly the same as a slow powder, but the burn characteristics will have a tremendous impact on the pressure spike experienced by the firearm.

Now that we've taken a look at how pressure is generated we can take a look at how firearms are designed with a maximum working pressure built in. All metals have a fatigue point, where they have been work hardened to be brittle or work softened out of tolerance. If you take a 30-30 Win in a model 94 lever rifle the locking mechanism cannot handle the same pressure as a Savage 10 bolt action rifle in the same chambering, the reason why is that the pressure will either cause a the metal to expand beyond designed range and fail, or expand beyond normal range and the locking mechanism will fail.

You can always generate more pressure by packing more powder or a faster burning powder. PO Ackley even did destruction tests of common milsurps after WWII. Everything fails eventually with enough abuse.

Now, to get specific, let us talk about bolt action rifles. The amount of steel around the cartridge and the amount of interface between the bolt lugs and recess area are going to determine how much pressure the rifle can take. The more the better the steel surrounding the chamber and the more and better steel surrounding involved in bolt lug engagement the stronger it will be. This means that the amount of steel in the barrel shank contributes more to withstanding pressure than the outer receiver ring diameter.

I bring this up because of the Turk m38 Large Ring Small Shank style Mauser rifles. They take small ring barrels, which means that the receiver ring is actually thicker than a normal Large Ring Mauser. This does not mean that they are safer, it means the opposite because the first ring of steel around the cartridge is thinner than in a normal large ring m98 action.

Comparing a Mauser barrel with a Savage barrel brings the point even closer to home, a Savage barrel shank is really just a threads cut into a barrel blank. When the Winchester Short Magnums were introduced Savage increased the barrel shank diameter because that is the number one factor in strength.

So what follows is almost blasphemy in some circles, the M98 is not the strongest, safest action ever built. The M98 is a strong and safe action, well designed and capable of handling any cartridge from the 22-250 all the way up to the 458 Win Mag, but in terms of stronger and safer there are modern alternatives. In practical terms it doesn't mean much as M98 is suitable for all hunting on the planet.


Scrapyard Yardguard Update

I took the Yardguard camping this weekend, and it did various chores involving the splitting and chopping of wood and food.

With the Yardguard along we didn't need a hatchet, and didn't realize that we hadn't brought one until the second day.

Bottom line, edge retention is ok under hard use. Having a second knife to handle small slicing chores is a must. I don't think that I will be selling my Yardguard any time soon.

19 May 2009

The Fall of Empire

Every civilization has a rise and fall.

The devaluation of the dollar right now can mean two things. Either this is a normal glitch in the economy and those of us who are investing like mad in stock based mutual funds will laugh all the way to the bank when we retire; OR this is the beginning of the end and all our money will be about as useful as toilet paper even if not as absorbant.

To hedge my bets I'm buying as much ammunition as I can get my hands on, and selling off rifles that I don't use in order to get more supplies that I will use.

I figure that either way I'm doing ok, just need to get more supplies on hand and see if I can't get buy a shipping container to stow food and supplies in over at my brothers place...

17 May 2009

Gun Show

Once again I went to a gun show and sat at my brothers table so that he could attend church with his family. No crimes were committed by any of the guns crammed into the place. Nor did any of the bitter clinging rednecks commit any crimes other than fashion felonies. Not to middle aged men everywhere, a Hawaiian shirt does not make up for the fact that you are a middle aged man with a gut.

Afterward my brother and I went to the range to see if a Zastava/Remington Model 5 can shoot as well as a CZ 22. In a nutshell, the factory trigger leaves a lot to be desired, but the Model 5 is a nice rifle. The CZ is a nicer rifle. Accuracy wise there isn't much of a difference, but there wasn't much of a difference between the pricey CZ and my base model Savage MkII.

Life is good.

16 May 2009

Remington Model 5

Cabela's had a 4 hour sale and one of the leaders was a Remington Model 5 for 189 US dollars.

I figured that if I showed up an hour after opening and there was still a Model 5 available that I would purchase it. The good thing was that they did have a few Model 5's still available, and I did purchase one.

These are manufactured in Serbia by Zastava, and have been for years. This is an old design that has been on US shores at least twice before imported by Interarms and Charles Daly.

The bolt design is similar to every other bolt action 22lr out there, the bolt handle doubles as the recoil lug. There is nothing wrong with this, and why screw with something that works. What is different between the Model 5 and others is the size of the receiver. My Savage MkII is basically a tube of steel, the Model 5 is a much more massive receiver. The only other 22 that has such a massive receiver is a CZ.

Haven't shot it yet. Plan to do that tomorrow. Still plan to buy a heavy barrel 22lr Savage.

15 May 2009

A bird in the hand...

I do my damndest to always have ammunition on hand.

Six months ago it was been hard to get components and I was happy that I had bought in bulk. The market hasn't gotten any better since then, so when I see things that I know I'll use eventually I buy them. Today I snagged two bags of Winchester brand 308 Win brass.

The price of bulk 22lr has gone up considerably, and I'm down to buying what is available instead of what is a good price. 27 bucks for a 500 round pack of Winchester brand 22lr. Sure it came with a neat looking wood box, but I'd rather have a 500 round brick for 12 bucks the way it was a year ago....

I'm glad I bought so much 8x57 and 7.62x54r while it was cheap. Just wish I'd bought a pallet of South African 308 while it was cheap.

14 May 2009

Meme, Impractical but COOL guns

Hat tip to Tam, but with a twist (I'll list what I think is the practical alternative).

Broomhandle Mauser. Impossible to conceal carry but oozes sophistication and history, possibly the coolest "steampunk" pistol of all time. Practical alternative, the classic 9x19 Luger.

Walther PPK. Easy to conceal carry, but expensive tiny bullets. If James Bond didn't carry one there wouldn't any appeal at all. Practical alternative, 9x18 Makarov

44 AutoMag. It's revolver only hunting in some GMU's in my state. Reloader only proposition. No practical reason to own one, but oh so cool. Used in Mack Bolan novels. Practical Alternative, A 44 Rem Mag hunting revolver by Ruger or Charter Arms.

Desert Eagle in 357, 44 Mag, or 50 AE. The gas system fouls quickly, they are heavy as sin, not concealable at all. Also used in Mack Bolan novels. Practical alternative, 1911 in 45 ACP with a 400 Corbon barrel and spring.

Comments are open for any additions to the list.

Home Again

The first thing that I noticed was how green Western Washington is, grass and trees are foreign concepts to the Mojave.

The elevation change and higher humidity level have also helped a bunch of us with nose bleeds. Going from over 2000 feet elevation to 200 feet and from 9% humidity to over 50% has made life easier.

My wife and son are healthy and well. My dog seemed to be the most enthusiastic about my return, she did her very best to never leave my lap. People understand with their head why I have to go away to do my job, but dogs can't grasp ideas like that and I think my poor little puppy dog has abandonment issues.

Last night I slept for 15 hours. I feel better.

11 May 2009

Loaded up

There are few things that truly frighten me. The common denominator is that they all are beyond my control and the consequence of other peoples actions.
I am glad my wife learned to shoot a pistol, but I need to take her to the range more often.
My family is my worry spot. I can't protect them while I'm gone. The best I can do is prepare my wife for the worst and pray it never happens.
I get to go home soon, for a few weeks. Time becomes very precious when it is a countdown.

09 May 2009

Back from the box

But still posting from my iPhone. We did well this rotation, and I pray that it is a sign of success to come.
In a few days I should be home, conducting final training for the big sandbox.