Superbowl Sunday

With much trepidation, your humble blog will attend Blogbrother’s Superbowl party. Why trepidation? Football moves us not, although we plan to enjoy the ads. But Sister-in-Law is a dyed-in-the-wool Patriots fan, to the point where a Pats defeat today will have us put her on something like suicide watch.

Me, I don’t care who wins, blasphemous as it may be for someone who grew up when there were only three TV station on our rabbit ears and all of them followed Boston sports. But I’m looking forward hopefully to the ads.

The First Month of 2015

One thing we’ve learned about the blog’s stats is: we’re going to break 2 million hits and even 2 million unique visitors in this year, unless we screw up or croak or something. We’re humbled by your continued patronage, and want to continue to deliver a quality reading and entertainment experience to you!

Fitness… or Lack Thereof

Months of idleness and mostly-idleness have left your WeaponsMan as rotund as a muzzleloading cannonball, and about as ready for the modern battlefield. And our most beloved  exercise machine (an Expresso bike, highly recommended) has just kicked the bucket again. So We’re about a month late

This Week’s Gun Stuff

It’s been too long since a range trip, so we have to get the problem with the range membership (where we’ve paid for it, but don’t have the current codes) squared away. We haven’t fired the M4 SBR or the Can Cannon at all.

We also have to round up and inventory our ammo and mags. Seems like an overdue thing, but the bullets are scattered hither and yon around the house, workshop, garage, outbuildings, Lord knows where. (More than one house guest has come out of a guest room with a raised eyebrow and a missing HK 416 or AR-10 mag that was in an out of the way corner).

Rong Bros. Aeroplane Factory

We have made some progress on the RV-12, which is to say we’ve sorted out how to finish-drill parts. We’ve found a Scotchbrite wheel to be the cat’s pajamas for deburring parts. We’re not so sure about deburring the insides of holes. Gotta work on that. We don’t want stress risers in critical bits like rudder hinges, which we’re assembling now.

We had a small problem with the bearings not fitting into the brackets that hold them. How do you address that? Leave the bearings in the freezer till they cold-soak and shrink a tad, and then whack ‘em in with a rubber-faced mallet. Worked for us. If freezing the bearings alone hadn’t done it, we’d probably have heated the bracket before we changed the size of the factory hole.

Aluminum is wonderful stuff to work with, especially the 2024 that makes up most of the airplane structure. Easy to cut, drill, rivet, etc. It’s very prone to corrosion, compared to elemental aluminum, so it has a layer of pure aluminum laid on at the factory (this is called by the trade name turned generic, “Alclad”). Still our parts will be primed before final assembly. It’s too cold right now to prime, and the paint’s too noxious to use indoors, so we’re just preparing parts and test-fitting them with Clecos, small, barrel-shaped temporary connectors that hold parts ‘tl they can be permanently riveted.

Saturday Matinee 2015 04: The Man in the High Castle (2015, TV)

mah_high_castle_iconWe’ve already reviewed one of Amazon’s should-we-or-shouldn’t-we pilots, Cocked. (We were pretty ambivalent about it, mostly because we don’t trust Amazon, based on past performance, to deal with the gun-culture central to the story fairly or even competently). Now we’re on to the pilot that seems to be getting the most buzz, and therefore, the one most likely to turn into a series: The Man in the High Castle. This 60s alt-history period piece is based on a Philip K. Dick story, the one sure way to get Science Fiction or Spec Fiction funded in Hollyweird.

Despite the Dick imprimatur, and the involvement of Frank Spotnitz and Ridley Scott, the program has struggled to find an outlet; it was developed as a miniseries for BBC and SyFy before being picked up by Amazon.

man_high_castle_splashThe show opens with a title sequence featuring a breathy singer intoning “Edelweiss” with a nearly inaudible accompaniment, scenes of an almost-recognizable war superimposed on almost-recognizable cityscapes and monuments.

Then it launches into a movie-in-a-movie of bland propaganda, and then exits the movie to show one of our protagonists in a theater. But he’s not there to watch a movie; he’s there to make a contact in spy-movie classic style. Then it’s out into a Times Square that’s almost recognizable: the digital signs, though (one of the few real anachronisms in the setting) are a mixed bag of normal advertising and political propaganda: Nazi propaganda.

Man_High_Castle_(TV_Series)_map

The show’s fundament is this: It’s 1962, and the Axis won World War II sometime in the 1950s (the pilot seems to cite two different dates). They did this, in part, by nuking Washington DC (and they say that like it’s a bad thing!). The Germans occupy the eastern two-thirds or so of the former USA, and the Japanese Empire the western third. A “no man’s land” called the “neutral zone” exists precariously between the two empires.

Acting and Production

heiling nazis bowing japs

It’s film noir, literally: most of the other images, we deliberately lightened. This one of hitlerheiling Nazis and bowing Japs is what the whole production looks like.

We didn’t see any acting that stood out either way, not for excellence nor for failure. The actors seem comfortable in their characters. (Some of the support actors do best, in their less self-contradictory roles). The Nazis are a mix of Nazi-next-door and Central Casting No. 2 Nazi Torturer; as you might suspect, the former have a depth that the latter, standard television caricatures, don’t, but it’s a queasily disturbing depth. Would Americans have collaborated, and rationalized their collaboration, just as men of every European nation did? You bet, and the show nails that, and it’s grim to watch.

Cain't be Nazis without some torturing.

Cain’t be Nazis without some torturing.We lightened this screenshot so that the actors are visible.

Michael Rispoli, Jackie Aprile Jr. on the Sopranos ten years ago, has a tough role as a leader of a demoralized, probably doomed, and definitely infiltrated Resistance cell. Unfortunately the nature of his part means we’re unlikely to see him in future episodes.

The pilot ends with a cliffhanger/reveal that’s quite a surprise in light of what we’ve seen so far. The pilot is cunningly constructed so that, at every stage, you think you know things the characters don’t know, and you do, but the characters also know things that they haven’t revealed yet, so what you know might be so far from the whole story that it’s misleading.

It’s a truism in entertainment that it’s easier and vastly cheaper to put on something in a contemporary or timeless setting, than it is to put on a period setting. In this case, the producers are trying to reproduce a setting that never really existed, but is both speculative and set in the past. As a result, they have created an Axis 1962 that falls into an uncanny valley; it’s convincing enough to be all wrong and disturbing and in that it’s very true to Dick’s vision.

This screenshot was lightened substantially, too.

This screenshot was lightened substantially, too.

Unfortunately, someone in Hollywood read somewhere that Dick’s vision was a dark vision, and ever since then his stories have been brought to the screen without ever using more than half of the light necessary, and The Man in the High Castle is literally dim and hard to make out. It’s even worse than that, because it’s an Amazon online delivery show, and the show’s already left-biased histogram gets further skewed by compression so heavy you can see it, especially in the gross pixelations of  large areas and the 1988-vintage jaggies disrupting diagonal lines. (And that’s in alleged HD).

Not lightened, this is what the whole thing is shot like.

Not lightened, this is what the whole thing is shot like. Dark, out of focus, jaggy. Venetian blinds + too little light to tell the story ≠ “film noir,” sorry.

This seems to be one of the most likely Amazon series to see production, based on viewer response and reviews, despite what must be staggering production costs. Our concern with this series, though, is this: knowing the end of the original story, which was a classic Dick job of lame negativity, where do we go? Can they make us care about something when we know that it’s Philip K. Dick and they’re going to call the Science Fiction equivalent of a deus ex macchina cheat at the end? So far so good, but the tale of Amazon original series so far is a tale of promising launches and leaden thuds.

Accuracy and Weapons

The Nazi troops of the show dress and are armed like Nazis of 1939, not those of 1945. (The American Nazis have red and white stripes on their Nazi armbands. Nice touch… Betsy Ross was not available for comment). We have to suspect that the K.98k, as beloved as it may have been by your basic German Landser, would have been, shall we say, substitute standard by 1962, and they’d have been carrying K.43s or Mp.44s. But nope, it’s a mixed bag of K.98s and MP.40s. The Sons of Nippon, likewise, are brandishing Arisakas and Nambus.

man_high_castle_sst_flyingThe producers weren’t entirely mired in 1940 for their Axis technology; a functionary of the elderly, ailing Führer visits the Japanese zone, and he doesn’t come by Ju52 or even Fw200 Condor (the planes that were executive transports in the Nazi state), but by a triple-sonic transport, much like the SSTs that American, French, English and Soviet engineers were really developing in 1962. They lavished some CGI on this critter, and it shows.

man_high_castle_sst

The weapons don’t have a big role in The Man in the High Castle. They’re mostly an adjunct to the plot. There are not any glaring anachronisms, apart from the usual Hollywood fail of pre-1970s guys using a two-handed pistol hold (the only place this was taught prior to Weaver and Cooper, was the Imperial Japanese Army; in 1962 American police and military were still generally learning a one-hand aimed shot for 25 yards and out, and a hip-level “point shooting” one-hand stance for close in, 7 yard, shots). The Resistance guys seem to use a .45 1911, reasonably enough.

The bottom line

The Man in the High Castle is the kind of thing that’s likely to be loved by the usual Philip K. Dick fans, to one of whom, Roberta X, a hat tip is due (we’d not have watched it without her recommendation). Like other Amazon series pilots, it has considerable potential, which Amazon has yet to deliver on.

It’s free with Prime. Wouldn’t it be nice if they would leave TV to the TV nets, and instead put that money into improving their currently anti- position to at least neutrality towards the gun world, and hold the line on price and shipping?

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • Amazon.com streaming page:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RSI5EHQ/

  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1740299/

  • IMFDB page:

None, it would probably have to be picked up as a series.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the-man-in-the-high-castle/s01/

  • Wikipedia page (quite detailed, in this case):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_in_the_High_Castle_(TV_series)

More on Jesse James’s Aero-Sonic deflated football (or is that, “Moron Jesse James’s…”)

Again, these show nothing like scientific testing, and they seem to be hard to make anything out, whether that’s deliberate or accidental, we can’t say.

Sound suppression:

Flash suppression, night firing:

Conclusion: these promo videos are not significant. Compare the “night test” video to Andrew Tuohy’s flash suppressor tests at Vuurwapen Blog (which seem to have lost their photos, but the links to the narratives still live).

There is a site that purports to test silencers independently, Silencer Research, but it does not seem to have been active in several years, and Silencer Tests, which was tied to one vendor (AAC?), is paws up.

James, for his part, has both yellowbellied out of a comparison test with Liberty (suggesting that even he knows the Aero-Sonic deflated football is a failure and a fraud designed to scam money off novices with false claims), and doubled down on social media claims of the vaporware gadget’s performanc, with (of course) extra self-promotion and empty boasting:

I’ve never been much of a follower, and I rarely ask for permission. Never half-ass anything… We gave #ShotShow2015 attendees a peek inside the #JJFU Aero-Sonic sound suppressor. I think most were very surprised at the thought and science behind it. I totally lied about the decibel rating…Its actually way lower..

At Silencer Talk, this vaporware suppressor has been the subject of discussion (and derision) since 2013. Some of the unkind comments in this long-running thread include:

  • . I find it absolutely laughable that a man who popularized the phrase ‘Cake Decorator’ when describing other bike builders that merely hung superfluous crap off a bike checks in with the absolute dogsh*t he has put out.
  • The Aero-Sonic suppressor looks like a vibrator for a horse.
"Honest, the Aero-Sonic is undergoing testing."

“Honest, the Aero-Sonic is undergoing testing.”

  • I actually had customers asking me why my 30cal suppressor is rated at 135db on a 12″ Ar 5.56 if his were 78db.
  • His suppressor likely fell off the desk and is stuck between his time travel machine and the other machine that turns straw into gold.
  • Now look at what sort of bikes JJ and WCC usually makes. You can buy 20 year old production bikes that will outperform those pig-iron hogs in every aspect except the ability to make you look like a poser with more money than sense.
  • He’s marketing to the dolt who has no taste or idea what he’s buying community, not the well-heeled ‘collector’ community.
  • He … turned a perfectly good BAR into a cross between mall ninja porn and a lowrider from the barrio.
  • He’s a flatbill dumbass that wandered *way* out of his area of expertise.
  • the March Hare is going to show me his 105 Db. metered suppressor for my .50 Barrett.
  • Jesse is putting car muffler and manifold technologies into a firearm silencer. It doesn’t work.
  • His shop should be called “Pimp my Gat”.

As pointed out in the comments to our post on the Aero-Sonic Deflated Football, “You Can Tell He’s Lyin’, ‘Cause His Lips Are Movin’,” when asked to put up or shut up, Jesse James made sissy-boy excuses and then sniveled away into the arms of the clueless posers that are his fans.

The guy’s a thoroughgoing phony, and his designs are styled-not-engineered rubbish, and buying one is like putting on a sandwich board saying, “I’m a Bigger Dumbass Than Jesse James,” and that’s putting yourself out way on the tail of the dumbass distribution bell curve.

Devilry, Thy Name is Germany

Such was a British headline a century ago. after Germany released poison gas on French Algerian troops in May, 1914. But the Hun actually introduced posion gas into warfare 100 years ago today, making today the centenary of WMD.

The BBC has an interesting article with some of the history, as well as some interesting observations on the effectiveness of gas weapons in the Great War. That first introduction on 31 January 1914 was a disappointment to its Trutonic authors, says the Beeb:

As he climbed to the top of the church belfry in Bolimow, west of Warsaw, General Max Hoffman of Germany’s Ninth Army was expecting a bird’s-eye view of a military breakthrough – and a new chapter in warfare.

The date was 31 January 1915, and he was about to witness the first major gas attack in history.

Gen Hoffman watched as 18,000 gas shells rained down on the Russian lines, each one filled with the chemical xylyl bromide, an early form of tear gas. But the results left him disappointed.

“I had expected much greater results from the employment of this ammunition in – as we then imagined – such large quantities. That the chief effect of the gas was destroyed by great cold was not known at that time.”

But the failure at Bolimow proved to be only a temporary setback.

By April, German chemists had tested a method of releasing chlorine gas from pressurised cylinders and thousands of French Algerian troops were smothered in a ghostly green cloud of chlorine at the second Battle of Ypres. With no protection, many died from the agonies of suffocation.

via BBC News – How deadly was the poison gas of WW1?.

The actual effect of the gas was much less than its large presence in the public consciousness of World War I would indicated:

Casualty figures do seem on the face of it, to back up the idea that gas was less deadly than the soldiers’ fear of it might suggest.

The total number of British and Empire war deaths caused by gas, according to the Imperial War Museum, was about 6,000 – less than a third of the fatalities suffered by the British on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Of the 90,000 soldiers killed by gas on all sides, more than half were Russian, many of whom may not even have been equipped with masks.

Far more soldiers were injured. Some 185,000 British and Empire service personnel were classed as gas casualties – 175,000 of those in the last two years of the war as mustard gas came into use. The overwhelming majority though went on to make good recoveries.

According to the Imperial War Museum, of the roughly 600,000 disability pensions still being paid to British servicemen by 1929, only 1% were being given to those classed as victims of gas.

“There’s also an element of gas not showing itself to be decisive, so it’s easier to… not have to worry about the expense of training and protection against it – it’s just easier if people agree to ban it,” says Ian Kikuchi.

In the end, gas was a psychological weapon, but with war gases and gas-countermeasures such as masks and suits equally available to all sides, the prospect of a decisive employment of gas was unlikely. That makes it a little clearer why postwar conventions banned gases.

Gas After the Great War

Gas research continued, and the Germans made numerous interwar breakthroughs, which then inspired British breakthroughs (producing the nerve gases, G- and V-agents respectively). But Germany never used gas in World War II, perhaps because of Hitler’s experience being gassed at the Front in the First War, perhaps out of fear that the Allies had equaled German research (they hadn’t, until very late). Russia never renounced the use of gas, and used it postwar in various peripheral conflicts (as well as supplying it to numerous client states), but never used it in the Great Patriotic War. Russians, as the Beeb noted, suffered more than anyone from the gas warfare of the First World War.

chlormethine

Clormethine — the form of HN (HN-2) released in the Bari Incident.

In World War I, every nation tried to be the one that used a new gas first. In World War II, every nation held its war gases back, to retaliate if someone else did — and no one did. The most serious gas casualties of World War II resulted from an American stockpile aboard ship in the harbor of Bari, Italy, being inadvertently released by a German Ju88 night bomber attack on shipping in the harbor on the night of 2 December 43. One of the 16 sunken ships contained 100 tons of nitrogen mustard, HN (methyl-bis(beta-chloroethyl)amine hydrochloride). The HN was reportedly not in bulk storage, but loaded into M47 series chemical bombs:

M-47 chemical bomb.pdf

Most of the HN burned off, but the part that mixed with bunker oil in the water injured 617-628 men (numbers in sources vary), of whom 83 subsequently died. Ironically, because of HN’s effect on lymph nodes and leukocytes, follow-on studies on the Bari bombing survivors were helpful in developing chemotherapy for leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, and other lymphomas.

War gases (mostly nerve and blood agents) were a critical part of Warsaw Pact and Soviet war plans, and were used widely in Soviet proxy wars, mostly against civilians. The US developed safe-handling binary chemical munitions as a counterweight, but has since destroyed its chemical stockpiles and production capacity.

We’ve come a long way from the Kaisers 1914 “Devilry.”

Loose Rounds on the M14

We have a soft spot in our heart for the M14 rifle, even though we experienced it in the service primarily as the M21 sniper system, a fiddly, unstable platform with, “no user serviceable parts inside.” (Seriously. The operator was not permitted to field-strip the gun — that was strictly for the armorers who built the thing. You could swab out the bore, but they’d rather you didn’t). Some of the fiddliness was caused by the Leatherwood ART II scope, an early bullet drop compensator telescopic sight. The Leatherwood was adopted, we always suspected, because Jim Leatherwood had been an SF guy, not because the scope was incredibly great. The replacement of the M21 with the M24 bolt gun, a gun that was developed primarily by SF marksmen (snipers and competitive shooters), was met by hosannas. Its Leupold mildot scope took the onus off the scope’s internals and put it on the shooter, and we liked that.

m24army4

So when Shawn at Loose Rounds penned a post critical not as much of the M14 but of its somewhat unsupported legend of battlefield prowess, he was aiming right up our alley. He has technical support in that post from Daniel Watters, arguably the most knowledgable man on post-WWII US small arms developments not to have written a book. And his arguments are generally supported  by the M14-related books in our collection, some of which appear in footnotes or Sources.

The M14’s history is interesting. It had a long and arduous gestation, involving many false starts and dead ends, before finally settling on a weapon that was a little more than an M1 with a box magazine and improved gas system. This whole process took 12 years (from 1945 to 1957) and cost a surprising fortune, considering that what came out of it was essentially an M1 with a box mag, useless selective-fire switch, and improved gas system.

From the operator end, it looks just like an M1, except for that dopey and wasteful giggle switch,  but you can actually reload an M1 faster.

us-rifle-m14-POV-candrsenal

The M14’s prototype, the T44, came this close (Max Smart finger gesture) to losing out to the US-made FN-FAL version, the T48. The final test found the two weapons roughly equivalent.1 Previous tests greatly improved both arms, and made one lasting improvement in the FAL hat benefited FN and foreign operators: the incorporation of the “sand cuts” in the bolt carrier.2 One deciding factor was that the FN rifle did not have “positive bolt closure,” a way to force the bolt closed on, say, a swollen cartridge. (Never mind that that’s a crummy idea, it was Army policy. Some say, in order to accept the home-grown, Springfield-developed T44 instead of the foreign-designed FAL, but that’s certainly not written down anywhere important).

The M14 went on to have a surprisingly difficult time in manufacturing — surprising because it had been sold on extensive commonality with M1 Garand design, and sold as producible on M1
Garand tooling. All manufacturers (Springfield, Winchester, Harrington & Richardson, and TRW) struggled to make the guns. (Stevens calls M14 production, in a chapter heading, “A Tragedy in Four Acts.”3 In H&R’s case it was not surprising, as H&R had struggled with an M1 contract and only had an M14 contract because of political corruption in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, TRW, which is generally thought to have produced the best rifles of the four manufacturers.4

The M14 was supposed to replace the M1, but also the BAR, carbine, and SMG. Until you see them side by side, most people assume the 14 was smaller than the M1 (image: Rifle Shooter mag).

The M14 was supposed to replace the M1, but also the BAR, carbine, and SMG. Until you see them side by side, most people assume the M14 was smaller than the M1. This “M14″ is actually a civilian Springfield M1A.  (image: Rifle Shooter mag)..

In fact, only a few M1 parts are interchangeable with the M14, including most internal parts of the trigger housing group, and some of the stock hardware, A few other parts, like the extractor and rear sight aperture, interchange but aren’t quite “right.” (The M14 extractor works better in either rifle; the M1 and M14 sights are calibrated in yards and meters respectively).5

The M14 had a short life as a US service rifle, and a controversial one. (Congress, for one, couldn’t believe the amount of money that had been spent for a relatively marginal improvement over the M1). But it has had a long afterlife as stuff of legend. And this where Loose Rounds’ most recent effort in mythbusting comes in. Here is a taste:

Go on to any gun forum, and it won’t take you long to find people willing to tell you how great the M14 is. How accurate,like a laser, tough as tool steel with no need to baby it or clean it. powerful as a bolt of lightening, and how well loved it was by those early users who refused the M16 because they wanted a “real” weapon made of wood and steel…. .. But, is all that really true? Maybe it is a triumph of nostalgia over common sense and reality. One truth is, it was never really liked as much as people think they remember.

The M14 was having major problems even before ARPA’s Project AGILE and a Defense comptroller reported the AR15 superior to the M14;the famous Hitch Report stating the AR15 , the M1 and the AK47 superior.

(Loose Rounds then quotes those exact conclusions from those reports, which are also referenced in many of the Sources we list at the end of this document).

My own Father had this to say. Dad was in Vietnam from 67-68 in the 4th Infantry Division.

“I liked the M14 in basic, It was the first semi auto I had ever fired. It got old carrying all that weight fast running every where all day and night. I qualified expert with it. Once I was issued an M16 right before we over seas, I never looked back.”

For every person who has told me how great the thing is, I have found two who had nothing by misery and bad experiences from it. I myself among them.

The M14/M1a  will be around for as long as people will continue to buy them.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with owning them liking them and using them. By no means is it useless or ineffective.   But its legendary reputation is something that needs to be taken with a grain of salt and careful study of the system if you intend to have one for a use your like may depend on.

If you are curious  posts on shooting rack M14s and custom service rifle M14s with Lilja barrels fired at 1,000 yards can be found here on Looseorunds using the search bar.  There you can read of the M14/M1A compared against the M1 Garand and M1903.

When we sat down last night to start writing this, we were going to analyze their post in great depth, but we can only suggest you go Read The Whole Thing™. The M14 is very beloved, but then, many soldiers come to love their first military rifle quite out of proportion to its qualities. (Indeed, we feel that way about, and retain a limerent attachment to, the M16A1, while recognizing that progress has left the original Army M16 behind).

If nostalgia drives you, LRB has this rifle on a new T44E4 marked receiver in stock -- for nearly $3k.

If nostalgia drives you, LRB has this rifle on a new T44E4 marked receiver in stock — for nearly $3k. We want it but not $3k bad!

Indeed, there is a space on the gun room wall marked out for an M21, sooner or later. But that;s where it is likely to stay most of the time. (Shawn’s post at Loose Rounds has some details about the fiendish difficulty of keeping one of these in accurate shooting trim).

Notes:

  1. Stevens, North American FALs, p.106; Iannimico, p. 62.
  2. Iannimico, p. 59.
  3. Stevens, US Rifle M14, pp. 197-224l
  4. Emerson, Volume 1, pp. 41-70
  5. Emerson, Volume 3, pp. 129-130.

Sources

Emersom, Lee. M1 History and Development, Fifth Edition. (Four Volumes). Self-published, 2010-2014.

Iannimico, Frank. The Last Steel Warrior: US Rifle M14. Henderson, NV: Moose Lake, 2005.

Rayle, Roy E. Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapon Developer. Bennington, VT: Merriam Press, 1996.

Stevens, R. Blake, North American FALs. Toronto: Collector Grade Publications, 1979.

Stevens, R. Blake, US Rifle M14: From John Garand to the M21. Toronto: Collector Grade Publications, 1979.

They’re Saying this guy is Aryan Brotherhood, How Come?

Geez, look at how the cops talk about this guy. “Suspected Aryan Brotherhood member.” And they say they think he’s a “member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood.” They’re “working to confirm it.”

Gee whiz. Well, take a look at this angel, who showed up in the local fishwrap after threatening to burn his mom’s house down. (Yes, really):

stephen_sanders_mugshot

We don’t know about you, but looking at his face, we had to go check our tackle box for missing lures and spinners. (Nope, we’ve got all our fishing tackle, that’s somebody else’s adorning Herr Unter-runter-führer’s fugly mug). We don’t know where anyone would get the idea he’s in the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison gang fond of Nazi symbology and posturing. You?

OK, well, apart from the three AB tats showing in the mugshot. They do seem to hint that he’s either onboard with them, or very disrespectful of their copyrights.

Story follows.

Suspected Aryan Brotherhood member Stephen Sanders pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and criminal mischief at his probable cause hearing Jan. 15.
Sanders, of 16 Lita Lane in Newmarket, offered no plea on two counts of criminal threatening. According to court records those counts were dismissed by Judge David LeFrancois.
According to an affidavit signed by Officer Wayne Stevens, on Jan. 8, Sanders’ mother came to the police station telling officers that she had ordered Sanders to move out of her house. He reportedly came angry, telling his mother that “he would have his Aryan brothers burn her house down.”
Sanders also alleged that her son had threatened to stab another family member with a large kitchen knife.
Sgt. Jeremy Hankin responded to the Lita Lane address with the intention of arresting Sanders based on his mother’s information. Hankin and two other officers found Sanders sitting in his vehicle, police said. When asked to step out of the vehicle, Sanders initially refused, but then complied, police said.
Sanders argued with the officers after they informed him that he was under arrest for criminal threatening. Eventually Sanders was subdued on the ground and tasered, according to police.
Sanders is currently in Rockingham County Jail awaiting a trial management conference on Feb. 3.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Lt. Jeff Simes said police believe Sanders is a member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood and are working to confirm it.

via Alleged Aryan Brotherhood member pleads not guilty – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

We’d just sum up by saying, there is nothing more pathetic than an American seeking to portray himself as a Nazi, the most thoroughly discredited identity since the Romans salted the fields of Carthage and destroyed the human-sacrifice temples of Baal (temples that perfectly prefigured the National Socialist regime’s Final Solution). By the summer of ’45 every Nazi from Ferdinand Porsche to Rudolf Hess was denying he had ever really been on board with the program — so where do these chuckleheads who want to join up with in now come from?

American Nazis. Lord love a duck. Although, we’d grant than an American seeking to play Communist is just about the same pathetic thing.

“Smart” Guns: Potemkin Safety

space invadersThis dumb idea keeps regenerating itself like respawning enemies in a zombie game, or, given the age and technology behind this dumb old idea, like the bad guys in Space Invaders, the ancient arcade video game (if you recognize the screen on the left, “the hill” is something you’re officially “over”).

Fortunately, not everyone is as weary of battling this issue as we are, and comes Herschel Smith with what it would take to convince him, or any of us, that these things work:

[L]et’s talk yet again about smart gun technology.  I am a registered professional engineer, and I spend all day analyzing things and performing calculations.  Let’s not speak in broad generalities and murky platitudes (such as “good enough”).  That doesn’t work with me.  By education, training and experience, I reject such things out of hand.  Perform a fault tree analysis of smart guns.  Use highly respected guidance like the NRC fault tree handbook.

Armatix iP1: bulky, underpowered, and unreliable. And they say it's the wave of the future -- if their coin-op politicians command it so.

Armatix iP1: bulky, underpowered, and unreliable. And they say it’s the wave of the future — if their coin-op politicians command it so.

He’s got a good point there. If you run an Ishikawa diagram of potential faults in a Glock 17, there are not a hell of a lot of branches on your fault tree. There are more on the venerable 1911 (and the 1911’s general reliability illustrates how dogged engineering can sometimes overcome baroque design). Now imagine the fault tree diagram for an Armatix iP1. Don’t forget the various modes of battery failures, radio frequency interference, need to use a weapon weak-hand or by a third party, etc. (The diagrams may suggest why the failed iP1 never seemed to exceed about 90% reliability, failing at a rate of about one round per magazine, and that may suggest why Armatix’s honcho, Ernst Mauch of HK’s you-suck-and-we-hate-you days, tried to get governments to order people to buy the piece of dung. But we digress).

Assess the reliability of one of my semi-automatic handguns as the first state point, and then add smart gun technology to it, and assess it again.  Compare the state points.  Then do that again with a revolver.  Be honest.  Assign a failure probability of greater than zero (0) to the smart technology, because you know that each additional electronic and mechanical component has a failure probability of greater than zero.

Get a PE to seal the work to demonstrate thorough and independent review.  If you can prove that so-called “smart guns” are as reliable as my guns, I’ll pour ketchup on my hard hat, eat it, and post video for everyone to see.  If you lose, you buy me the gun of my choice.  No one will take the challenge because you will lose that challenge.  I’ll win.

Yep. What he is asking the Smart Gun proponents to do is resolve an asymptote to zero, which is mathematically impossible, and probably, in this non-mathematical but real-world-physical case, functionally impossible. If you want to know why adding “Safety Technology” to firearms has never banished mishaps, a good book is Charles Perrow’s Normal Accidents.

Now, Perrow wrote the book as an anti-nuclear jeremiad, which may turn off some readers, especially those aware that a nuclear-power reactor control room is historically a safer environment than a Senator’s Oldsmobile, but he notes a very interesting thing: when you get the low-hanging fruit all plucked, that is, say, when the Air Force addressed items in the 1950s flying culture that had them pranging 1000 planes a year, you get a safety system that’s so optimized that adding anything more to it produces new, unintended and unanticipated points of failure.

We see this in aviation safety. American Airlines was concerned about loss-of-control accidents and so encouraged its pilots to seek “upset training” in aerobatic competition airplanes. One such pilot then tried the control inputs that worked in an Extra 300 (stressed to ± 12G in all directions, IIRC), in an Airbus whose tailfin was stressed to ± 1.5G. The result was a disaster, one caused by trying to increase the airline’s already very-high levels of safety!

Likewise, attempting to add safety features to firearms has led to fatalities and injuries. A classic example is the Glock “New York Trigger,” unquestionably a factor in several recent incidents of dreadful cop marksmanship, including incidents where bystanders were shot in addition to and even instead of armed criminals. The NY and NY2 triggers can be shot accurately by experts, but they greatly increase the dispersion of shots fired by average cops, and mandating them is tantamount to ordering your cops to shoot a few random citizens over the next decade or so.

But it looks like safety, to a superficial view (journalism, anyone?), and therefore it’s likely to spread. The “Smart Gun” is another example of this Potemkin safety. If it is discussed in your legislator (or, God forbid, your local police consider something like it), real experts need to come forward to counter the antis’ and interested manufacturers’ paid pushers.

Headshot at 100 Yards… With a 1911

We’ve mentioned before the old Paul Poole / Sandy Ballard trick of nailing target after target with a .45 at 100m, which they used as a way to wake up us young pups in SOT and make us pay attention. It was more of a stunt than something combat-useful, but it made us realize that those old guys (Hell, Poole was a SOG and Son Tay vet who must have been in his 40s, ancient!) had some powerful tricks to treat us new dogs. Here’s three missed shots until the fourth goes “ding!” at 100 yards. You can do learn to do this.

And it is a huge confidence builder with your pistol when you do.

The video is from a trainer named Israel “Ish” Beauchamp, who commented on our site and thereby incentivized us go look him up. We don’t know the guy, but he’s s cop who’s been plowing the fields of PSD work and training for years now, and we liked his video for these reasons:

  • It shows you what can be done with a non-magical, ordinary service pistol. (Can’t do this? Then you need to train more).
  • It’s directly focused on the matter at hand, unlike videos that ramble or digress.
  • It’s completely absent the bluster and self-promotion that some YouTube “stars” indulge in.
  • Dude knows how to stay on point, and to edit a video.

Unlike that famous ex-PSD legend-in-his-own-mind on YouTube, we get the impression that Ish is a grown-up who would be great to take a class with, no matter whether you’re an ace shooter, a pro with some too-long-off-the-range rust on him, or a novice wondering what all those gadgets on the left side of your .45 actually do. 

UW Bleg: Imperial Japanese Special Operations Forces?

Every once in a while, we expect to find something in the historical record that just doesn’t seem to turn up. A perfect example of that is the special operations forces of the Empire of Japan in World War II.

What Imperial Japanese special operations forces? We could find scarcely an indicator of such a thing. Now it’s true that there were amphibious 46, which in Japanese doctrine were primarily Army forces. And it’s true that the Naval special landing force was a sort of a maritime ranger or commando force. And it’s true that they had airborne forces, parachute forces. But while every other WWII combatant except pre-1940 France (including Free France) had competent SOF, the Japanese seem not to have done.

It’s not that the officers of the army or navy of Japan were incompetent; their incredible run of victories in the first months of World War II, and the fact that much of the Japanese Army was still in the field undefeated when Japan surrendered, suggest otherwise.

It’s not that they didn’t have the technology. Their technology was limited by Japan’s industrialization but they worked around it. Lacking a robust aluminum forging capability like the US or Germany, they made parts that we’d have forged out of riveted assemblies of shaped sheet aluminum, and developed a stronger sheet alloy — one we’d reinvent as 7075, and use mostly for forging — to permit that. Lacking some of the welding technology the West had, they made ships of riveted assemblies of smaller weldments. Kaiser would have been shocked, but it worked.

When they defined a need, they met it. Japanese landing craft, whether used by the Army or Navy (command of an amphib op, except for Special Landing Force raids, chopped to the Army once the fleet anchored to launch landing craft)  were faster and more seaworthy than their American counterparts, meant to travel 150 miles overnight and surprise an enemy from outside the combat radius of his fighters and dive bombers.

So… we reluctantly conclude that either (1) we’re missing well-known sources; (2) the Japanese never defined a need for an SOE/OSS/Brandenburg/Commando capability'; or, (3) they did really, really well at sanitizing their records at war’s end and keeping us long-noses in the dark..

We’re guessing, based on their crude COIN techniques in China and the Philippines, that the answer was (2). But what do you guys know?

You Can Tell He’s Lyin’, ‘Cause His Lips Are Movin’

Now, we never watched this jamoke’s TV show, although the promos we saw made motorcycle builder Jesse James look like a self-promoting blowhard. Now his new business is firearms, and he really looks like a blowhard. To wit, here is his new silencer:

Aero-Sonic

Here’s the innards of this deflated-football-shaped suppressor.

Aero-Sonic_innards

Notice that they’re made of aluminum and stainless, but mostly aluminum. We’ll get back to that. Meanwhile, here are one set of claims he has made for the suppressor:

JJ aero-sonic claims

Here’s another set of claims:

Test fired with 5.56 ammo, sound was 78 decibels at the muzzle.
Zero Optic Heat Signature
[tl; shortened to] doesn’t get too hot to touch in one 30 round mag
Zero Muzzle Flash
Zero muzzle flash …from 25 yards in front of the shooter. Filmed from 10 feet to the side of the shooter a very dim flash was visible for the first 2 semi auto rounds fired.
Fired on full auto, NO muzzle flash was visible from the front or sides.
Zero Loss in Round Velocity
Rounds picked up 100 meters per second of velocity.
Aero Sonic equipped guns [are] MORE accurate, showing no typical suppressed round drop.
Most common suppressors have a 2500 round lifespan. We have several active prototypes with 20,000+ rounds and counting.

He did have someone who could spell clean up “gentile manor,” after several days of internet japery, but some of the SHOT show facebook nonsense persists, and other numbers have been transmogrified.

Jesse James’s Velocity Increase Claim is Suspect

The velocity-increase claim (a physical, shall we generously say, unlikelihood) has been circumcised from 200 to “merely” 100 mps increase.

 

Meters per second is a kind of unusual choice for an American company dealing in the ballistic realm, where the whole indutry, for better or for worse, runs on feet per second in ballistic terms and always has. To translate these outlandish claims into the units you usually work with, one foot per second is 0.3048 m/s. That means he is claiming that his magic football accelerates a projectile approximately 656, or 328,  feet per second. What’s the science behind this claim?

The inner barrel acts much like a barrel extension.

So, he’s claiming his 8 inch barrel (hmmm, that wasn’t in SI units?) adds 300, or 600, plus, fps. Well, in 2012, we noted in a post on some Swedish magic claims a variety of tests of barrel length vs. velocity show a loss of 12 to 25 or so fps in a shortened barrel — however, that’s for a barrel, not an ersatz barrel with a lot of big slots milled in it. One outlier produced 44 fps/inch-shortened on a .300 Win Mag.

In 2013, we cited Ballistics by the Inch as a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. BBTI has done a lot of tests on many calibers; their 5.56 results are here, showing a more extensive drop than any other study; this may have been James’s source for numbers as it shows an accelerated drop off when barrels are shortened beyond usual carbine lengths.

James is claiming his ersatz barrel boosts MV 41 to 82 fps per inch, numbers that disagree with five barrel-shortening chronograph studies cited in our 2012 blog post. His derivation of these numbers, compared to the existing body of data, suggests irreproducible results.

We notice that his claims of sound reduction or sound pressure levels come without any information on standards. There is a MIL-STD for measuring suppressor sound, MIL-STD 1474D (.pdf @ silencertalk.com) . We pretty much guarantee he isn’t using this standard. Which standard is he using?

78 dB? The number is almost certainly a produce of the SAE method — Scientific Anal Extraction. As this test video of a Liberty multi-caliber suppressor shows, closing the bolt or slide on most firearms produces from 106 to 118  dB or so (you can see examples in the video below). A 5.56mm rifle with a 16″ barrel produces 164 dB or so, bare. With the Liberty Mystic multi-cal suppressor (at about 5:05 in the video) it produces 149 dB +3 on the first round according to the MIL-STD, and 137 dB at the ear. Now, that’s really a handgun suppressor, but good carbine suppressors (including some of the same vendor whose multi-cal suppressor is tested in the video, Liberty) can get you down to 133, 135 dB or so at the ear.

An important note is that a suppressed AR is significantly louder (anywhere from 3 to 10 dB) on the ejection port side than it is on the blank side. This is a concern for left-handed shooters because a suppressor can come with completely legitimate paperwork indicating that it’s hearing-safe for the user, but the fine print may note that it’s tested for a right-handed user. Someone who left-shoulders a “safe, 135 dB” carbine-can combo may be taking 142 dB at his ears.

So, how does Jesse James’s magic get to 78 dB, approximately 40 dB lower than the sound of the bolt sliding home? Bearing in mind that decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale? His explanations are the mumbo-jumbo of someone who does not understand sound, the decibel scale, or, frankly, physics. At all. Things like:

Our unique design lets the air expand in the pulse shape of a super sonic sound wave. All internal surfaces are machined with organic curves in an effort to reduce turbulence. Turbulence = Harmonics = Sound. The more gently you can slow down the air, the quieter the results.

Super Sonic air pressure is also regulated with our patented inner barrel design. Pressure relief slots are machined in an oscillating pattern. This regulates the outward flowing air to the suppressor chambers. This helps the already expelled air to bleed off, and not be hyper charged as it passes thorough the suppressor chambers.

If, after reading that, you’re saying, “Whaaa…?” you just might have a STEM degree. Or a significant quantity of common sense. Or some experience with suppressors.

If, after reading that, you’re saying, “OMG Take my money!” then he has a magic deflated-football to sell you. And we left out the best bit till now: he wants $4,500 for it.

Aero_tun

We call bullshit on the whole thing — but this guy’s whole career has been selling people the sizzle, not the steak, so some chuckleheads out there are going to buy this thing. Don’t be that guy.