You Don’t Think of “Beautiful” When You Hear “Skeletal.” You Should.

skeletal doubleWe like to pride ourselves on our gun knowledge, but we know there are things that we don’t know at all well. Some of these things we know we don’t know, like fine double sporting shotguns. (The scary bit is, as Don Rumsfeld knew, not the stuff you know that you don’t know, but the stuff that you don’t even know that you don’t know).

But when we look at a beauty like the Hugh Snowie/Thomas Horsley on the right (which you really must embiggen), we want to know more. Fortunately there’s an article by Douglas Tate in Shooting Sportsman: The Magazine of Wingshooting and Fine Guns that assumes you know nothing, teaches you the basics, and leaves you wanting to know more.

Before we dive into the article, take a good look at that beautiful Snowie piece. What looks like the side lockplates of a percussion fowling-piece are actually protrusions of a receiver that is so cunningly inletted into the fine French walnut stock that it looks like several pieces, when it is really only one perfectly-shaped one. The quality of the materials and work are staggering, which is par for the course in the examples that Tate shows in his article. (The pictures come in the case of current guns from the makers, who take a justifiable pride in these works of art; and in the case of vintage guns, from the auctioneers who handle these fine-art firearms).

Bar-in-wood shotguns owe their graceful good looks to their parents: They are the direct descendents of muzzleloaders and can be defined as breechloaders in which the lockplate or action body and sometimes even the knuckle and hinge pin are enclosed in a forward extension of the walnut buttstock. They come in hammer, hammerless, round-action and even bogus boxlock configurations known as “body locks” and have become desirable collectors’ items.

According to Gavin Gardiner, who has worked with Sotheby’s gun auctions since 1987, “Bar-in-wood guns were a way of maintaining the gracefulness of a muzzleloader in the early breechloading era, but the easier-to-make and stronger designs soon cast them into the shadows.”

“Pretty much all makers made them—certainly the better-quality ones, anyway. It is just that not many of them continued to make them for long. Westley Richards, Purdey and Horsley are the three that jump to mind as makers that produced good numbers, and of course we have MacNaughton, with their bar-in-wood Edinburgh-actioned hammerless gun. MacNaughton is probably the only one who has made a modern version, though I am sure if you ask, others might.”

MacNaughton is one of the last firms to make them, but it was also one of the first. In July 1867, James MacNaughton registered improvements to a slide-forward-and-drop-down hammergun that was “applicable to the conversion of muzzle-loaders into breech-loaders.” The patent illustration and surviving examples feature wood-covered actions. Common enough in the 1870s, timber-shrouded actions were felled by stronger competition. The few hammerless sidelock ejector examples surviving from beyond this era are some of the most coveted wood-covered actions.

via Skeletals in the Closet – Shooting Sportsman.

Tate goes on to describe the different types and makers of double “bar-in-wood” or “skeletal” guns, with a few illustrations to whet the appetite (and links to the makers). Of course, these guns, painstakingly handcrafted by Old World craftsmen, are not priced for the middle-class upland hunter. But anyone can look and admire them. It’s a good respite from looking at utilitarian M4s and sewer-pipe STENs, you know?

bar-wood-pairWe showed an example of Philipp Ollendorff’s work, which we learnt of from this article, in a previous Friday Tour d’Horizon post here, but we think you will enjoy the article, even if, like us, you’re not much of a hunter and your taste in shotguns runs more to a Winchester M12 riot gun or a beater no-name boat gun or breaching tool.

We’ll leave you with the brace of James McNaughton doubles on the left. We are not sure if royalty still hunts birds any more, but if you do hunt birds and want to feel like royalty, well, the kids can earn scholarships (or go to the Military or Navy Academies) if you blow their college fund on their heirlooms instead, yes?

A man after our own heart (but, alas, probably with better taste), Mr Tate closes his article with links to the two surviving bar-in-wood/skeletal gun makers, Dickson (who makes McNaughtons these days, also) for the classic Scots gun, and our previously linked Ollendorff for the Mitteleuropaïsch variety — both of which make guns of admirable beauty.

Author’s Note: For more information on bar-in-wood guns, contact Philipp Ollendorff,; or John Dickson & Son,

Hey, your kid’s gonna learn more in Hard Knocks U anyway, you know it.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have IKEA

Beware, beware, the wardrobe of doom.

Beware, beware, the wardrobe of doom; its drawers that slide, its weight that crushes.

Yes, it’s official: we’ve become too paranoid if the full power of USG is cracking down to prevent unsupervised toddlers from pulling topheavy dressers down on their own heads.

But there’s a real epidemic of accidents here. Two in the USA since the dressers were introduced here in 2002; three more for a total of five worldwide since 1989. We don’t know the worldwide number of these dressers but the US number is 27 million.

27,000,000,000 to 2.

That’s very roughly 7.4 thousandths of a thousandth of a percent.

Of course, there were nonfatal accidents too: the safety nazis know of a total of 14 tipover accidents, with 10 uninjured toddlers and 4 injured ones — it’s not certain if this includes the 2 US fatalities or not. That’s about 5 to 6 hundred-thousandths of a percent.

Obviously, we need to ban flimsy dressers, since we can’t prevent lazy people from putting everything in the top drawer, so they don’t have to compress their midrange bulk by bending over the lower drawers.

But as a “commonsense dresser safety measure,” we’ll encourage people to bolt them to the wall. We’ll have a comment on that after some more of this jaw-dropping insanity.

IKEA customers are being warned not to use larger wardrobes and drawers unless secured to a wall after the deaths of at least two young children.

The victims, aged two and 23 months, were killed when dressers purchased from the store tipped over on them, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found yesterday.

The dressers just attacked! We are so unwilling to find fault in ourselves that we blame the objects all around us. Stupid world, enforcing Evolution in Action. It’s not fair!

And now the company, based in Sweden, is offering wall fixing kits for 27 million of its items.

Free wall-anchoring kits for its MALM three and four-drawer chests, two styles of six-drawer MALM chests, and for other chests of drawers and dressers, will be made available to concerned customers.

We don’t know these particular units, but one word we’ve never applied to IKEA furniture is “robust.” Another: “durable.” Anchoring the dresser to the wall through its 1.5mm paperboard sheet back is unlikely to prevent your Perfect Little Treasure from upending it on him- or herself.

It was found that the chests and dressers can pose a tipover hazard if not securely anchored to the wall.

Curren Collas, a two-year-old boy from West Chester, Pennsylvania, died in February 2014 when a six-drawer MALM chest fell on him and pinned him to a bed.

This is tragic, but where was the adult watching this kid? You can’t bolt down and kid-proof the universe. Until kids have enough brains to keep themselves alive (seems to happen about Age 40, in the case of boys) somebody needs to have eyes on.

Later that year a 23-month-old child from Snohomish, Washington, was killed in June when a three-drawer MALM chest tipped over and trapped him.

“Trapped” and “Pinned” don’t sound like instant death. They sound pretty horrible — asphyxiation while no adult was any wiser. And how does a dresser fall over with enough oomph to trap an active boy without someone coming to check out the sound.

Think about it. You ever here your kid get “too quiet,” then a WHARANG!, then more “too quiet”?  Did you go check the kid, or get a tighter grip on the MalloMars and the cable remote?

The company and the consumer panel had heard from 14 reports of tipover accidents involving MALM chests, resulting in four injuries.

The MALM products began being sold in 2002, and the chests and drawers are available from £49 to £100.

Following the hearing, IKEA spokeswoman Mona Liss said the company will “continue to collaborate with the CPSC to find solutions for more stable furniture.”

Like the good old fashioned, make the dresser heavier than the stuff folks put in it? Don’t see that as a direction IKEA could or would go in. How about the old standby: put your heavy stuff in the bottom drawer? It’s not rocket surgery, people.

IKEA also knows of three other reports of deaths since 1989 from tipovers involving other models of IKEA chests and dressers, a statement from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

On a Facebook page dedicated to her son, Curren’s mother wrote: “A huge breath of relief for me this morning […] knowing that this information is getting out there.

“Thank you so much, CPSC! So many precious little lives are being saved.”

If you need a government agency to save your toddler, Christ help us when he grows up to full adult dependency.

“Today is a positive step, and I commend Ikea for taking that step. But they need to do more and to make more stable furniture and they need to help lead industry,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye.

Please tell us how a furniture vendor that plays in the affordable carry-it-home-and-DIY market can make “more stable furniture”? What’s Elliot know about stability, production, or even the laws of physics? (We’ll wager the beer money he’s a lawyer/lobbyist/leech, not anyone who have ever produced a product or made a payroll in his parasitic life… hey what do you know, bingo, lawyer/lobbyist/leech, he’s never held a job in the productive economy).

About seven million MALM chests and 20 million other IKEA chests and dressers are involved in the program which will see additional components issued to customers to secure the products.

via IKEA safety alert for 27 million chests and dressers that pose tip-over hazard after two children die – Mirror Online.

“You Have to Go Out…”

Sure, you have to go out. The flip side of that old Coast Guard saying is: “…you don’t necessarily have to come back.” Rescue Swimmer Darren Harrity went out and came back and did it over and over again to rescue four fishermen whose boat was hard aground in pounding waves. This picture shows it the next day, wrecked along the shore, but the night of the rescue — it’s always at night, isn’t it? — the men were in a lifeboat 250 yards offshore, through pounding waves and treacherous rocks, from dry land.

wrecked fishing boat

The USCG shot video of the rescue.

The Coast Goard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter took off from Coast Guard Station North Bend, about 60 miles north of Cape Blanco on the Pacific. It arrived at the scene fine, and began what seemed at first like a standard rescue, lowering Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity carefully into the water.

But then something went wrong and they couldn’t get the hoist back up. “A mechanical failure,” Chief Petty Officer David Mosley, a Coast Guard spokesman in Seattle told The Post.

“I think the pilot said, ‘Harrity, you’re going to be doing a lot of swimming tonight,” Harrity told KPTV.

And he did.

He swam 250 yards over to the lifeboat, said Mosley, in five-foot waves, water already slick with fuel, the air thick with fuel.

He got the first man to leave the life raft, grabbed him with one arm, and with the other and the aid of his fins, swam 250 yards back to shore.

Commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous jobs in the USA, maybe the world. It would be more hazardous yet if it wasn’t for Harrity and men like him.

And while it’s nice to have all the high-speed, low-drag gear, it’s still only stuff. And stuff breaks. When stuff breaks, unbreakable people take up the slack.

Then he swam back to the lifeboat, another 250 yards, grabbed the second fisherman and hauled him back to shore.

Then it was back to the lifeboat, another 250 yards, and back to shore with the third man. Then he returned to the lifeboat, yet another 250 yards to get the fourth fisherman, and safely returned him to shore.

Only then did he stop swimming.

“It was just me and my muscles and that’s it,” Harrity told the TV station.

via A ‘monumental’ rescue: Coast Guardsman swims a mile in choppy seas to save four fishermen, one at a time – The Washington Post.

As the Post notes, Harrity was this close to not becoming a rescue swimmer, a lifelong dream. He had a dangerous blackout in training and his heart stopped, but he lived (obviously), and he was, in the end, medically cleared. (The phenomenon of shallow water blackout is incompletely understood, and victims are often prime athletes like Harrity).

This is what the Jamie K looked like before running aground.

Jamie K from Jake LEachs Facebook

It’s also notable that the crew did all the right things that helped them get rescued (well, apart from running aground. There is that). They made an early decision to abandon ship and got out a distress call with an accurate location. They got in the lifeboat together, and they apparently had survival gear (drysuits, etc). Speaking as a guy who has been rescued by the Coast Guard (although we were in swimming distance from shore on a warm day, and they even helped us save the boat, so it was nothing like the harrowing experience these fishermen just went through), it’s a lot easier to get rescued when you don’t fight the Coast Guard and give them every opportunity to do their thing — which they tend to be pretty good at.

Skipper Jake Leach and the three hands aboard her might be missing their boat today — but their families aren’t missing them.  Swimming a mile is not big deal — the way we do it, in laps in a nice heated pool. Swimming a mile in the cold, choppy Pacific, while dragging one guy or another for approximately half that distance, that is a big deal. Well played, swimmer.

We bet the crew chief has even figured out why his winch went down when he needed it. And he’s not going to have that happen again (in the meantime, he should be buying Harrity’s beers for the next approximately forever).

Let’s Further Abuse the Army’s Primitive Small Arms Maint Policy

Guns and uniforms change.  but progress eludes maintenance and storage.

Guns and uniforms change. but progress eludes maintenance and storage. Q: Do you maintain your car like you did in 1955? Your home?

Yesterday, we said a few unkind things about Army small arms maintenance policy, more or less in passing. Let’s elaborate on that today.

If you have been an armorer in the Army for many years, you could very well be pig-ignorant of how firearms fail and what maintenance they require, without that lacuna in your knowledge having the least effect on your advancements and career prospects. You will, however, have mastered maintenance paperwork and the Illusion of Maintenance. Then you can become a Small Arms Maintenance Warrant Officer, and reign over all kinds of rusty barrels, mismatched parts, and forgotten & unrecorded round counts. Finally, let’s not forget the defunct optics, which as everyone knows, are merely storage repositories in which unit armorers and supply sergeants keep dead batteries.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at this 2014 list of “Small Arms Do’s and Don’ts” that was sent out in February of last year by Fort Stewart’s stalwart maintenance support organization, and published here on an Army maintenance website. Blockquoted text, indented and in italics, is what the original document says; bold inside that is their emphasis. Plain text like this is our commentary. At the end, your own opinions may be solicited.

Small Arms Do’s and Don’ts

    The Ft Stewart Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) offers these do’s and don’ts to keep your small arms armed and ready:

Do understand how to fill out a DA Form 2407-E.  That’s how you open a job order to get something fixed at LRC.  The SAMS system generates the form for you.

Like we said, it’s all about the forms. As far as Army big-L Logistics is concerned, an SF company with 84 ready-to-rock M4A1s and a company with 84 correctly filled out 2407s are utterly fungible. However, only one of those is capable of engaging the enemy, a matter of indifference to Army logisticians.

Don’t lock bolts back for storage and transport.  If bolts are left locked back, the springs can’t relax and soon have to be replaced.

This is, for any term or period in which this model firearm, let alone this specific one, will be in United States Service is complete and utter bullshit. Springs can experience elastic fatigue when held in compression for a very long time, but given the specification of this particular spring it will still work if you lock the bolt back and forget it until you dig the rifle up in 2065. Like most well-designed springs, it is actually designed for infinite life1. Spring design is not rocket science, no more is it the sort of voodoo to which comments like this try to raise it. It is engineering, and a well-developed, well-supported, branch of engineering that anyone can learn with a little mathematics and application.

If the spring is left deflected under full load and the load is more than the yield strength of the material, then the “resulting permanent deformation may prevent the spring from providing the required force”2

But even worse, if the bolt is locked back and someone forgot to remove a round, the weapon can fire if the truck hits a bump during transport.  This happened at Ft Stewart.

We call bullshit, again. The only weapons in the world that can do this from this cause alone are open-bolt firearms guns with fixed firing pins. If this happened with an AR, think about it: sudden blow releases bolt carrier group from hold-open. Bolt slams home, into battery, chambering the round carelessly left in the mag carelessly left in the truck. Then what? Until somebody pulls the trigger, the hammer’s held back.

Maybe that’s what the statements said happened, and somebody’s covering somebody’s ass here.

Do change machine gun barrels at the range and keep barrels matched to receiver.  Many M249, M240 and M2 barrels are ruined every year because units go the range and fire hundreds of rounds through the same barrel.  A single barrel can cost $800.  Simply switching barrels, which takes just seconds, can save your unit money and grief from your CO.

This is actually really, really good advice and unfortunately most small arms users (including armorers!) are never taught the hazards of sustained low rate of fire in damaging a barrel, sometimes in ways that physical inspection won’t find.

Don’t grab just any barrel.  The M249 and M240 barrels have been headspaced to a specific weapon.  If you use the wrong barrel, you could damage the weapon and injure yourself.

You would think this would not be the case in this era of interchangeable parts, but it is — for these weapons. But what about the self-headspacing latest version of Ma Deuce?

Even with the new M2A1, which can use any M2A1 barrel, it’s a good idea to  use only the two barrels dedicated to that particular M2A1.

That’s the Army for you. “Hey, this anal retentive program has no practical value, but it shows how concerned we all are.” “Yeah, let’s also do more than it requires!”

That will save you accountability problems later when you turn in the two barrels for that specific M2A1. All barrels should have a dog tag with the serial number for their weapon.  It’s a good idea to use a marker to highlight the receiver’s serial number so Soldiers can quickly find it.

Do transport M2s either in a rack or lying flat and secured to the truck bed.  If you stand up an M2 and its barrels, they will take a tumble within the first mile.  That breaks components like the sights and ruins barrel threads.

But… but… but… Big Green says weapons transport cases are a waste of money, and that SF and other SOF have been “squandering” their money on this kind of thing.

Millions for broken sights and barrels, not one cent for prevention. There’s Army Maintenance in a nutshell.

Don’t disassemble your weapon more than you’re supposed to.  If you do, the  parts are often lost or the weapon is reassembled wrong.  With the M16 rifle, it’s usually the trigger assembly that is put back together wrong.  Then the rifle can fire on auto when you’ve got it set for single shot.  That’s dangerous. Clean and lube your weapon like its -10 says.  Then stop!

You know, if more people were taught how to do that, someone in the unit could fix it if Joe over-disassembled his M16 or M4. We understand why higher echelons of maintenance discourage this; there are at least four reasons:

  1. They do indeed get weapons that some idjit disassembled, in a unit where no one can assemble a weapon, or that some idjit reassembled improperly. (Note that Army armorers often can’t fix this kind of problem, because they know less about the weapon than you learn in the Colt or SIG or S&W (etc). 4-hour “armorer school.”)
  2. They do get weapons where some idjit who disassembled them improperly assembled minus a part. The parts most vulnerable to improper assembly are springs; the parts most vulnerable to loss in the field are extractor pins and extractor springs. (Last we checked armorers at company and battalion were allowed to keep spare extractor pins and springs for just that reason).
  3. They do get weapons damaged by improper assembly. Since hardly anybody in the Army has been taught to properly detail-strip a weapon, there are cases where improper tools are used, or pins are forced in or out violently. This is happening less thanks to the dissemination of correct information online, but it still does happen. One of the most common damaged parts is the pistol grip attachment screw, which tends to get scarred up from wrong-sized, hardware-store screwdrivers that don’t fit right.
  4. If you know how to do it, it’s not their secret any more. That’s why they have the jaws even when SF weapons men (who are trained and authorized to do this on organizational weapons) maintain lower receiver internals. They will often fall back on shibboleths about the Army’s holy Echelons of Maintenance at this point, like an imam trapped in a losing argument, groping for a suitable hadith. The Echelon concept is, of course, part of the problem, not the solution (don’t get us started on what it means for radios).

Do turn in both machine gun barrels when you send a weapon to maintenance.  Your direct support will need both barrels to do the required repairs and gaging.

Want to know a secret? In 1942, the army fielded a machine gun in which any barrel would headspace “well enough” to any gun. And spare barrels became a supply item rather than a serial numbered weapons component. Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, it wasn’t our Army, but the enemy. Naturally, when we tried to copy that weapon,the German MG42, we botched it. Then we incorporated a few features from the Rheinmetall wonder gun on our next GPMG, and got most of them wrong, including barrel interchange. Now that we can ignore serialization on one single weapon (the M2A1 .50 caliber machine gun), the maintenance griots continue to pass down the same primitive, voodoo folkways on that weapon, too. Pitiful.

Do thoroughly clean your weapon as soon as possible after firing close combat mission capability kit (CCMCK) rounds.  If the wax left in the barrel from the rounds becomes too hard, it’s very difficult to clean out.  Then a round can stick in the barrel.  Sometimes it’s impossible to remove the round without damaging the barrel.  Pay particular attention to the chamber and barrel.  If you can’t clean out all the wax, tell your armorer.  He’ll use dry cleaning solvent.

We should probably write about the CCMCK system, which is the Army’s attempt to standardize (and bureaucratize) the Simunitions type force-on-force training SOF has been doing for what, 20 years now. One advantage of Sims is that they don’t use the same barrel as lethal munitions; the CCMCK was specified to use the standard barrel, and they’re right that it leaves the barrels messy and congeals into a difficult plaque.

Don’t forget to remove batteries from sights before storage.  Each year, many sights are ruined because batteries  left inside leak. There’s no fix for that.

The ARMY way -- optics off. (This commercial, non-issue rack would support storage optics on).

The ARMY way — optics off. (This commercial, non-standard rack would support storage optics on — of course these old A1s have fewer optic options).

Well, as the saying goes, you can’t fix stupid. This is a valid point, but there are several layers of ways to prevent this from happening. Why would an armorer accept a weapon for turn-in that still had batteries in the optic? OK, things get hurried, mistakes get made. So you have a Joe assist and double-check? Just having a system like that reduces your quantity of mistakes by an order of magnitude.

Then, why not have the armorer get a Joe once a week, and while doing an inventory, double-check optics (assuming, of course, the optics didn’t have to come off to rack the guns anyway) to see that the nasty little acid containers are out of ’em?

(And, incidentally, it is possible to design electronics so that failed batteries don’t damage the gadget, or at least damage only inexpensive, and easily replaced, contacts. The Army just doesn’t specify this when they order stuff).

The guys who wrote and disseminate this list of Do’s and Don’t’s are trying. The problem is, they’re trying in a system that is stacked against them. And their weapon of choice remains tribal knowledge (at best), voodoo folkways (at worst), and passed-on oral sagas and legends that they don’t understand.


  1. Valsange, P.S.  International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA), Vol. 2. Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2012. P. 514 (section 1.1.3). (Note particularly the application of Zimmerli’s data that renders torsional endurance limits for all intents and purposes a constant in steel springs). Retrieved from:
  2. Ibid., p. 514 (section 1.1.5).

What Can Beretta’s AR Competitor, the ARX-160, Do?

Like any other gun, depends on who’s shooting it, eh? Here’s Jerry Miculek.

Your mileage may vary. (Hat tip, One of the best parts of it (for us) was at about 5:20 into the video where Jerry comes in from the rain and compares the ARX’s features to the Bushmaster ACR; IWI Tavor and the FN SCAR.  Here, Jerry’s millions of rounds of experience is interesting, although a service rifle needs to shine off the range, too. (And all of those, except the ACR, are proven military rifles; so, of course, is the competitor that Jerry admits all of these are striving to beat, the AR-15 series).

A few years ago we played around with a Beretta pistol-caliber carbine (CRX) and liked it. It took M9 magazines, which we have in great profusion, and was easy and fun to shoot, and like most Berettas throughout history, attractive to look at.

The pistol-caliber carbine was a fun plinker, but not a great defensive gun. A 5.56 will always be a better defensive round than any handgun round. And we recall thinking, “If they put some of this engineering into a 5.56 carbine, they’d be on to something.” Looks like Beretta may have been thinking along the same lines.

The Beretta is sold as the ARX-100 and the ARX-160 in 5.56 (we can’t explain the two names, although it might be European arms export laws). In addition, there are low-quality licensed .22LR knockoffs out there, which makes searching GunBroker a pain in the neck.

The ARX has some interesting features. (For another video with a review of it, check out this page, again at It’s all-ambidextrous (convertible left or right-handed), which should get a left thumb up from 10-15% of you. It has a slightly-AK-ish short-stroke piston system, but with an adjustable gas cylinder that lets you up the impulse if you have a temporary problem with anemic ammo or a fouled, sluggish gun. It has a quick-change barrel that should let you change caliber, but none of the promised conversions are shipping yet.  The box markings show that Beretta plans to ship this rifle in .300 Blackout as well.

Beretta 5.56mm ARX shows that the .300 Blackout version is coming... of course, so's Christmas.

Beretta 5.56mm ARX shows that the .300 Blackout version is coming… of course, so’s Christmas. From an over-list-price for-sale ad on GunBroker.

It also has some limitations. As Jerry notes, the flip-up sights don’t cowitness with an EOTech (they do, with an Aimpoint Comp M2). The magwell is a strict STANAG well, so it doesn’t always play nice with aftermarket magazines; specific mags that are known not to fit are Gen 3 PMags and Surefire large-caps. If you really love your X Products drum (and who doesn’t?) then you probably want to check it out before dropping coin.

In fact, however much you think you want this example of Italian style, or just to add the neutered civvy version of the current Italian Army service rifle to your collection, it might be strategically wise to hold off for a while. The current sales in GunBroker include a lot of sellers that look like they’re hoping to make above the manufacturer’s recommended list price, suggesting that pent-up supply is still excess of demand.

We do note something interesting about the Italian Army’s adoption of the ARX, and that’s that it’s one more announcement of a military power going to a compact carbine rather than a long (20″ or so) barreled rifle. The ARX comes standard with a folding and telescoping stock, so it fulfills the long-promised potential of a single weapon for crew members, technical troops, assault troops, and line infantry. This is something that’s on our mind with the USMC finally announcing that their riflemen’s M16s are going to be replaced with M4s. (They’re also replacing M16-based Designated Marksman’s Rifles, sort of, by assigning that task to the Auto Rifleman and his HK M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle).

Of course, while the Marines don’t leap till they’re sure, some armies have used carbines for a long time. Russia (then the USSR) went to a carbine in 1944 in the middle of the Great Patriotic War, replacing long rifles, and their postwar semi- and select-fire rifles were also in the compact carbine format with roughly 16-18″ barrels. Indeed, they’ve never gone back to a long barrel except for crew-served and support weapons.

In Italian service, the ARX replaces other 5.56 rifles (the AR 70 / AR 90) and also some submachine guns (PM 12S). It is part of a mix with 5.56 and 7.62mm machine guns and precision rifles.

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Reproductive Health Services

Behold, one more iteration of The Mug Of Bat Guano Crazy.

Behold, one more iteration of The Mug Of Bat Guano Crazy: Dynel Lane.

Some things are perfectly legal, just not if some undifferentiated ordinary citizen does them. But when someone does something for free for which a well-connected non-profit organization charges $175 plus what they get for the scrap value of leftover parts, the authorities tend to move in. Especially when the victim wasn’t looking for, er, “reproductive health services” in the first place.

The woman accused of cutting the unborn child out of a pregnant stranger’s womb earlier this year has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

She’s not doing it right. She’s supposed to auction off the parts!

Dynel Lane showed little emotion at Thursday’s hearing in Boulder County court, The Denver Post reported.

Prosecutors say Lane lured 26-year-old Michelle Wilkins to her home on March 18 with an online ad selling maternity clothes, attacked the 8-months-pregnant Wilkins and removed the fetus.

Wilkins survived, but her baby did not.

via Woman charged with cutting fetus from womb pleads not guilty – NY Daily News.

It’s a pretty safe bet that this woman, even if the court finds her sane from the narrow point of view of trial competence, is Bat Guano Crazy.

Another story explained how Lane’s ad-hoc clinic was equipped:

The alleged assailant, Dynel Lane, beat and choked Wilkins before using a kitchen knife and broken glass to slice out the baby, police said.

Lane turned up at a hospital with the dead baby, claiming it was hers and she’d had a spontaneous miscarriage. It took about a millisecond for the ER crew to call bullshit on that.

Meanwhile, police officers who gave the near-mortally-wounded mother first aid initially kept her from knowing her baby had been stolen, because the mom was hanging on to life for the baby’s sake.  (She learned the miserable truth in the hospital the next day, after her survival was assured).

Wilkins is recovering in the hospital, but she’s “scarred beyond imagination,” her parents said in a statement Friday, speaking for the first time since the tragedy.

“We cannot begin to fathom the depths of depravity and evil which drove her attacker,” they wrote.

Neither can we, and we write about people like that practically every day.

“One life was ended and another scarred beyond imagination in this senseless act, with scores of others negatively affected.”


While the parents and grandparents of the victims say, “One life was ended,” Colorado law disagrees. In some states, killing the baby would have been murder, but in pro-choice Colorado it’s a choice, not a child — even if someone else makes it for you. Therefore Lane is only charged with attempted murder (of the mother, whose life is the only one that counts under CO law). She is additionally charged with “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” which is the charge for performing an abortion without a license.

How could such a crime have happened in Colorado, where anti-gun Governor Hickenlooper and one-party majorities (including the pols from the city where this happened, Boulder) solved crime and violence by banning magazines over 15 rounds, and driving Magpul out of state?

Apparently, the Bat Guano Crazy folks with knives, broken glass, and stranglin’ thumbs, weren’t in the distro for the Crime Is Over memo.

Why Not Give ’em Nukes? We Gave ’em Tanks!

Badr Org M1 tankLadies and gentlemen, the Iranian (IRGC)-controlled, Iranian-led, Shi’a sectarian militia, the Badr organization:

Yes, that is an M1 Abrams tank they’ve got there. As you can see it’s flying the green flag of the Badr. Note the other flag has a picture of some bearded, probably illiterate imam on it. Images like this of human visages and the Shia practice of venerating great imams of old are viewed as haram (forbidden) or even shirk (polytheism or paganism, anathema to Moslems).

Fortunately, there are some modern 21st-Century values that both sides agree amount to the best of Islam, like slavery, beheading, wife-beating, honor killing, clitoridectomy, bacon, buggery and pedophilia.

We just slipped “bacon” in there to see if you were paying attention. All the other things really are sacraments of the bizarre and uncivilized cult that is Islam.

The next picture shows some Badr Org commanders posing with this M1, or with another. (Probably the same one, as it shows the same flags).

Badr Org M1 tank 2Yeah, that’s an AT-4 in the hands of the goon on the right.

The Badr boys, this month, are not the first militia claiming to have received M1s. That would be the charmingly named Hezbollah Brigades. They displayed M1s last month, although they may have been Iraqi government M1s merely cooperating with Hezbollah. The Hezbollah Brigades use a yellow flag as a distinctive marking.

M1 Hezbollah Brigades

The Hezbollah Brigades seem to comprise in part the survivors of former Iranian-sponsored terrorists who fought against US forces in Iraq, mostly with EFP-based IEDs.

Former mech heads, what’s the over/under on any of these tanks being serviceable on 1 January 2016? ’17? We’re guessing the number’s already in free fall.

Who are the Badrs? The Hezbollah Brigades? Both of these groups are subordinate, sort of, to the Popular Mobilization Committee in the shi’ite sectarian government of (rump) Iraq. The PMC falls under the command of Transportation Minister (?)  and is headed by one Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former Badr Org guy whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed and who is also a direct subordinate of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force, the external terrorist wing of the IRGC.

A simplified who's who of Shia ostensible friendlies.

A simplified who’s who of Shia ostensible friendlies.

The Iraq Army having melted away in the bug-out of all bug-outs, these Iranian-controlled militias are about all that’s really fighting for the Shia rump government against both ISIL and the Kurdish Regional Government.

And the US really has no call to get too upset about our Iraqi allies arming their Iranian-controlled allies with the tanks we gave them. After all, we just guaranteed the Iranians themselves nukes in 8 years, and even promised to defend them against the Israelis, hatred of whom is the common tie that binds the State Department and the IRGC.


  1. Roggio, Bill, and Weiss, Caleb. Badr Organization fighters pose with US M1 Abrams tank. Threat Matrix, a Blog of the Long War Journal. 12 July 2015. Retrieved from:
  2. Roggio, Bill, and Weiss, Caleb. Hezbollah Brigades flaunts US equipment in Anbar operation. Threat Matrix, a Blog of the Long War Journal. 25 June 2015. Retrieved from:

Snap, Crackle, and Pop

Well-known (and respected) trainer Kyle Defoor was conducting training at for a military unit when one of the unit’s long guns went down, due to this:

defoor bolt failure

Yes, that’s an AR/M16/M4 bolt with a single lug fully failed. Possible causes for the failure include (at a fundamental level) manufacturing error, corrosion or fatigue. It’s hard to judge from this hole, but going way out on a limb, it looks like there’s a somewhat granular failure at the left end of the fracture, with a smoother “sudden” fracture face on the right end nearer the extractor, presumably because the fatigue failure left too little of the remaining metal to bear the stress of firing locked in battery, and the remainder of the part failed from the crack due to overstress. But it could also be caused by swapping a fresh bolt into a gun with a worn barrel extension (or vice versa) in the field, so that only one lug was bearing all the tension of locking — result, failure. Or the gun may simply have been made without the locking lugs all engaging properly — it’s happened before.

A gun with a failure like this may or may not continue to fire for a while. But if overstress on one lug was a factor, the loads formerly too much for seven lugs now bear upon six — it would not be wise to bet your life on this firearm.

Kyle, though, had another issue with the failure — and the unit whose arms room coughed up the firearm that did it.

On 9 July, he posted this image to his Facebook feed, saying:

Maybe I should start to amend contracts to include an armorer and spare parts?

With a hilarious set of hastags including, but not limited to:

#‎takecareofgear‬ ‪#‎ittakescareofyou‬ ‪

…and the snark-infused:

‬ ‪#‎logisticswinswars‬ ‪#‎waistingtrainingtime‬ ‪#‎youdontpaymetoplumb‬

The part was, as you can see from the markings, a factory Colt, magnetic particle inspected, bolt (or a counterfeit thereof that somehow got into the supply system — not impossible). It had unknown hours and rounds, because Big Green is not in the habit of keeping meaningful usage and maintenance records on small arms.

Apart from spelling “wasting” wrong, there is not much to argue with in Defoor’s response. Apparently the unit in question did not provide an armorer for the range event. In most units, the armorer doubles as a supply clerk and is not thought of as necessary for a range evolution (except to manage draw and turn-in of weapons at the Arms Room). In addition, the Army has been working to reduce the number and kind of spare parts available at organizational level. This is due to politically anti-gun policies, and Army civilian political appointees who believe (however lacking the evidence may be) that Army stocks are a significant source of crime guns.

Even if the parts were by some miracle on hand, the standard Army armorer, one each, is neither trained nor authorized to replace a failed bolt. Armorers given scant and cursory training on maintenance.  Instead, their course, an add-on for supply clerks, concentrates very extensively on paperwork, records-keeping, and the process of appearing to be conducting scheduled maintenance. This is also borne out by what actual combat units and their commanders value, based on how they judge and critique their armorers. No one is ever graded on the only maintenance measure that ought to count, the combat serviceability of the unit’s firearms; everyone is constantly graded on the process, on the appearance of maintenance, and on maintenance busy work. While we’d bet nine out of ten of the readers of this blog could fix this rifle in minutes, the only thing a company, battalion or even brigade armorer can do with it is turn it in.

Military maintenance bureaucracy does all it can to limit effective maintenance of small-unit equipment, notably including small arms, optics, and radios. Problems with these are most effectively solved by trained, experienced personnel at the lowest organizational level, so naturally such personnel are just flat not available.

Instead, you must tag the weapon or other piece of equipment down. Naturally, there are different rules for weapons and weapons equipment, vehicles, radios, and special weapons (i.e. WMD-related stuff), although the Army does try to squeeze them all onto standard forms (DA-2404 for regular maintenance, DA-2407 for turn in, nowadays it’s an electronic form, DA-2407E, done in the SAMS logistics computer system).

The weapon can’t be sent directly to the level that can fix it, even when (like this) the level is obvious and the weapon could be inspected and classified by a well-coached Helen Keller. It must go up the operator-organizational-direct-depot support chain, getting a new inspection at each

Plus, while the weapon is turned in, what is Joe Snuffy supposed to shoot? No Army unit maintains operational floats or spares (unless it is, by happenstance, or the customary incompetence of all Army personnel managers and activities, understrength). So Joe will get the weapon of whoever is on sick call or leave when the unit goes to a range, unless it’s one of the very large number of units that does an absolutely crap job of tracking who is assigned each particular weapon, in which case it’s musical chairs and the last one that shows up gets a new weapon.

The Army actually tries to bill giving a guy a new rifle for every annual, semiannual or quarterly trip to the range as a plus, believe it or not: “Everybody gets valuable experience in zeroing.” (Meanwhile, of course, everyone loses confidence in the ability of his gun to hold zero).

It does not help that the standard M12 rack does not accept a rifle with optics. In the Arms Room, it’s still 1988.

Moreover, the Army’s weapons records are a chaotic mess of rack numbers, serial numbers, weapons cards, hand receipts, pencil sheets, green-and-white property book printouts (that may not put all your unit’s rifles, for example, together on the same pages), and unofficial Excel-spreadsheets and Access databases, which interface more or less (mostly, less) with one another and with the unit’s personnel assignments. This means that every time you cross-level personnel from 2nd platoon to 3rd platoon, if your arms room is nicely organized by platoons, Joe Rifleman is going to get a new rifle and be off zero until next range trip, and so is Bill Bulletician who’s coming from somewhere else… that’s another reason why no Army unit beyond the Ranger battalions and the 82nd Division Ready Battalion actually dares to ship out to combat without a trip to the zero range.

In addition to the deployment delays that come because no one has confidence in his optic zero right now, we also endure a colossal waste of time because weapons inventories are unnecessarily hard. (One of the nice things about HK 416s? Their serial numbers are highlighted. Seems like a small thing, until you’ve tried to inventory a couple hundred M16A2s by the light of a flickering fluorescent bulb that there’s no budget to replace. And if you highlight the number with paint or permanent marker, you can actually get dinged on inspection). Every arms room needs to be inventoried periodically by senior personnel who have better things to do, and many aperiodic inventories are demanded by regulations. The faster these go, the better for everyone, but the Army has a settled way of doing things that proceeds from the assumption that the net value of a soldier, NCO or officer’s time is always zero.


Sunday Showers

As July — our favorite month, as the too-short summer at 43º North Latitude is our favorite season — winds to a close, we have enjoyed a morning of showers that are expected to yield to a partly sunny day.

A lot of family this weekend, which is A Good Thing. The crowd (minus) for dinner last night, and the dinner seemed to be a success, judging from the extra helpings the kids pursued. (Don’t listen to what kids say; their critique of your chef skills resides in what they do). And off to the Blogfather’s hotel for dinner tonight — as the hotel hasn’t a proper restaurant, but he has a kitchen, we will actually nuke prepared food and sit and talk. Hey, it’s a social event, right?

Some more thought about elderly parents and we’d not have bought Hog Manor. A traditional New England Colonial, with some of the architectural excesses that let an expert date it to the late 1980s-early 90s at a single glance, it had the bedrooms traditionally upstairs, and if you want your parents to stay with you as they move into their 80s and 90s, that’s a non-starter.

Still, the Blogfather did the math, and it actually costs him less to come up for the summer and stay in a hotel, than it did not maintain a home, or even to rent one, year round. In the hotel he gets waited on, doted on, even; and he never has the feeling of being underfoot. And his temptation to issue constant on-the-spot corrections to all family members is diminished accordingly.

He just left, having come to retrieve a vest he left last night, draped over a chair back, lending a note of elegance to the place. And we’ll see him in his hotel tonight.

Friends, enjoy your family members; cherish them, even their idiosyncrasies. It costs you so little, and some day they will be gone  — or you will be, and any small degree to which you’ve put yourself out will not have mattered. The Japanese are on to something with all their comparisons of human life to cherry blossoms, you know? Very wise bunch, those Japanese.

Outside the office window, the sun is striving to break through the overcast. See you tomorrow at 0600 with a technical post.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30

That was the week that was TW3Here’s the latest in our occasional (supposed to be regular) weekly wrap-ups, named for the successful British TV show and its non-as-successful American knock-off of the early ’60s, That Was the Week that Was, or TW3 to save time. We really, seriously, are going to get an updated logo for this feature one of these days, when all the other stuff on the to-do list is done.

For anyone new to, first, welcome! We try to post according to a schedule here, but there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. The refund window keeps somewhat irregular hours, but we try to keep a site going that is worth the expenditure of that resource that is more precious than your money, to wit, your time. Thank you for reading and (for that subset of you who do) for commenting. Some of the best writing and most insightful ideas you’ll see here are in the comments… not entirely sure what to make of that, but there it is.

The Boring Statistics

We obsess about these because, we’re not sure, it’s probably the MBA thing and some unrequited need to monitor everything leading us to focus blindly on those numbers that are easily gotten. This week was a better than average week, we think. We posted 26 posts with some 323 comments by press time for this post (which was actually posted some 12 hours late and backdated), and a total of about 21,000 words.

Since the inception of the blog, we have posted nearly 4,000 posts (that milestone will pass next week) and you have left nearly 22,000 comments (ditto). Doing a back of the envelope calculation based on average post size, we’ve posted about 600,000 words this year, and about 3.2 million since Day 1 on 1 Jan 2012. (We could pull the actual numbers, but we’d probably see a squirrel! before we got them all lassoed).

(Fun fact: when we first templated this section of the post, a typical week might have 22 posts, less than one comment per post average, and about 15,000 words. A typical genre novel runs from 90-150k words, they tell us, so we should be writing those and getting paid instead, eh).

Any way you look at the numbers, that’s a lot of content and discussion, mostly about weapons, warfare, and the various forms of urban mayhem we write about.

Comment of the Week

There are some excellent comments by Tom Kratman and Kirk in .

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

  • Sunday Shambles was our Sunday ramble.
  • Do We Need A Bigger Bullet? Jim Schatz says yes, with some puzzling claims about small arms overmatch. Now, we think it would be nice to have overmatch, but we think (1) it’s more than just effective range, (2) if it was we might have it already (we definitely outrange enemy rifles on the ground, as a practical matter, although MGs are a problem), and (3) if one nation makes a breakthrough in small arms technology, the others copy it — witness Picatinny rails showing up on Russian rifles.
  • What passes for brilliance inside the Beltway: Hey, Let’s Release a Traitor!
  • The USA seemed capable of great things once upon a time, in fact, 46 Years Ago Today
  • Self-Defense: Where’s This Guy’s Error? This is a question meant to get you questioning. He got away with it, but it was a risky thing.
  • One Downside of a Much Younger, Latina Wife is… you have a much younger, Latina wife, who just might get bored with you — and have you whacked.
  • When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Firewood. Although it may not be the wood that’s the problem, but the evil that dwelleth therein.
  • We recount A Sad Gunsmith Story — And How to Avoid One
  • What’s the historical, archealogical truth about The Battle of Jericho? Stand by for a shocker: scientists argue about this, and don’t necessarily agree.
  • Here’s a mass murder by a career criminal that you might not have heard about: When guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Excavators.
  • Did she really make One Bad Choice? More like “one bad choice after another.” Fortunately her victim survived. Her friends suffered more. With incompetent people, it’s just better to be their enemy.
  • Ever curious about pinfire and other early-early-early cartridge guns? Check out Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week:
  • Brrrrrt! Legal Full-Auto-Like Firepower. Maybe there’s something to that slide-fire thing after all.
  • Here’s a Lost PLA Based 10/22 – From Data to Print to Cast Aluminum. Note, authorities: we can make stuff, and you can’t stop us.
  • This is really just a tragic accident. When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Bungees
  • We admit, we’re partial to the small ones, so Isn’t She a Beauty? What? No, we mean .25s. Pervert!
  • If you are interested in self-defense, you need to consider The Alternative to “Judged” or “Carried.”
  • Fun fact: when we titled this post Is this a “Red Not” Sight? we actually made a typo for “Dot.” But since it was not a Red Dot sight, we let “Red Not” stand. Ah, sweet Serendip.
  • Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid? Don’t let this shake your faith in deserters and the peacenik parents that raised ’em, m’kay?
  • Philosophical question: if someone kills himself, whether deliberately or whilst participating in extreme sports, is it his business or also society’s? When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Wingsuits
  • Friday <i>Tour d’Horizon</i> Week 30 collects a lot of stories we wanted rid of… but not badly enough to get off our duff and write them.
  • Video and images of Testing Polymer Receivers to Destruction: Factory and Printed
  • New Oath of Allegiance: Bearing Arms Opt-Out. Because it’s not fair to Hyphen-Americans to ask them to be, you know, Americans. 
  • When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Accessories to Schmurda. Don’t let this shake your faith in the rap community.
  • We find a time capsule within a time capsule and call it Saturday Matinee 2015 30: Aces High (1976).
  • That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 30 — that’s this post, so a link.

Going Forward

We’re not sure what we’ve got for this week yet, but we bet it’s going to be good.