Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Jets (and Vehicles) with Frickin’ Lasers on They Heads

Doctor Evil’s technological dreams, not to mention Auric Goldfinger’s and Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s, are inching closer to reality. That’s the only possible conclusion an avid movie-goer will draw from a fascinating Bill Sweetman article in Aviation Week. 

Today, on an armored vehicle as an air defense weapon that doesn't need to "lead" a target; tomorrow, an aerial precision-strike capability? (Bill Sweetman AWST photo).

Today, on an armored vehicle as an air defense weapon with a functional MV of infinity, so it doesn’t need to “lead” a target; tomorrow, an aerial precision-strike capability? (Bill Sweetman AWST photo).

In fact, Sweetman deploys a bunch of pungent prose that sounds like something out of The Strategy Page, but with the essential difference that Sweetman knows what he’s talking about and has been wired into defense RDT&E since the second coming of laser weaponry (and the first serious, non-Bond-villain one) in the 1980s. Sweetman starts with a dismissive swipe at US and USSR laser weapons programs of the 1980s (“The only thing of consequence that any of them destroyed was confidence in laser weapons”), and then leaps into “that was then, this is now”-ville.

New HEL [High-Energy Laser] weapons are smaller than the 1980s monsters, with a goal of 100-150 kw, and powered by electricity rather than rocket-like chemical systems. Modest power permits more precise optics and—in some cases—the use of commercial off-the-shelf fiber-laser sources, improving beam quality (that is, focus) and reducing cost.

Star Wars lasers were intended to hit things that missiles could not touch. The new generation exploits different characteristics: a magazine as deep and easily replenished as the fuel tank, and a low cost per shot (about $1, says Rheinmetall). The idea is to deal with targets that missiles cannot engage affordably.

A mini-UAV is a threat because it can target ground forces for artillery. It is cheaper than any surface-to-air missile, but a laser can blind it, destroy its payload or shoot it down. Rocket and mortar defense is another application. Rafael’s Iron Beam laser is a logical follow-on to Iron Dome, which is practical and affordable only because it ignores rockets that will fall on open ground; that will no longer work when weapons are guided.

Hmmm. Thinking about the implications of what Sweetman is saying here, there are several paths around Iron Dome which the Palestinian terrorists may choose to adopt: they could try overwhelming it with quality, overwhelming it with accuracy (by guidance, as he suggests, or simply by increased ballistic accuracy and precision of aim), or overwhelming it with speed by using gun artillery instead of relatively-slow rockets.

Wile-E-Coyote-Genius-Business-CardNo doubt the cagey Israelis (has any nation’s paranoia ever been more justified?) have already thought this through and have counter-countermeasures in development (one of which certainly is a laser system). The Palestinians, in their ongoing attempts to outsmart the smarter Israelis, are the Wile E. Coyote of weapons development.

Anyway, let’s return to Sweetman’s rundown of current and very-near-future directed energy weaponry.

Close behind the systems already shown by Rheinmetall, Rafael and MBDA—certainly not a technological leap away—is the new Gen 3 HEL being developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to fit on an Avenger unmanned air vehicle (AW&ST Feb. 16-March 1, p. 30). If what we hear is correct, it combines an output as high as 300 kw with high beam quality; it can fire 10 times between 3-min. recharges; and a version might fit in the 3,400-lb. pod that Boeing designed for the Advanced Super Hornet (see photo). A bomber or a special-operations C-130 could carry it easily.

This is a tipping point, because what you can do with 300 kw also depends on what you are trying to protect. If the goal is to knock down a supersonic antiship cruise missile (ASCM), there are two problems: water in the atmosphere (which attenuates laser energy) and the fact that a damaged ASCM can still hit the target. But if the target is an evasively maneuvering aircraft, it will often be in clear, dry air; and it is enough to destroy the missile’s seeker, put a hole in the radome, even at well-sub-kilometer range or weaken the motor tube to cause a miss, even at well-sub-kilometer range.

This is one where you’ll find it rewarding, we think, to open the mind and  Read The Whole Thing™. Sweetman is no more infallible than any of us, but he is a more informed aerospace analyst than almost any of us, and bears close watching.

Real Men of Criminal Genius #031: Burglar Chris Wallace

burglarThere are basically two kinds of criminals in the world: TV criminals, who act like they’re staggering geniuses, and real criminals, who act like they’re severely retarded.

Chris Wallace (not the TV newsman, but the rural Maine criminal), come on down!

Wallace was wanted by the sheriff’s office on burglary charges stemming from the January theft of propane and wood stoves in Pierce Pond Township.

In late February, the sheriff’s office asked for help from the public to find Wallace after recovering the propane stove at his home.

But it turns out the cops got help from an unexpected source: Wallace himself.

Wallace, wanted by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office in connection with a Pierce Pond Township burglary, made two mistakes Sunday night.

The first one was posting a message on Snapchat saying he was back in his Norridgwock Road home after the department made it public several weeks ago they were looking for him.

The department was tipped off about the post, and that’s when Wallace, 24, made his second mistake.

Actual mugshot of actual wannabe burglar.

Actual mugshot of actual criminal mastermind..

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. This criminal mastermind was using Snapchat to communicate with friends, and, unbeknown to himself, and indirectly, with the very officers tasked to apprehend him.

The sheriff’s office received a phone call about the first Snapchat post about 6:30 p.m. Snapchat is a messaging service that automatically deletes messages seconds after a user posts them.

Cpl. Ritchie Putnam, Deputy Ron Blodgett and two Fairfield police officers went to the residence at 336 Norridgewock Road and found Erika Hall, 20, of Waterville, at the home, Lancaster said.

Hall allowed officers to search the home after they told her they had information that Wallace was there, Lancaster said.

But they didn’t find Wallace. That’s when Mistake #2 came into play.

During the course of the search Sunday night, Wallace posted the second message on Snapchat, saying that police were looking for him in the house and he was hiding in a cabinet, according to the posting. The new message prompted more phone calls to department dispatchers.

“A search of the kitchen cabinets turned up some food, some pots and pans, and also a pair of feet,” the [Police] Facebook post said. “The pair of feet just so happened to be attached to a person, and that person was Christopher Wallace. He was removed from the cabinet and placed under arrest.”

megamind-movie-posterNow everyone can take a lesson or two away from that, and it’s even possible that Wallace did. (He’s going to have time to think about it, where he’s going, at least). But the Portland Press-Herald’s Pete McGuire took this one:

Wallace learned the hard way that if you live by social media, there is more than one way to die by social media.

And the police? They suggested a somewhat different one:

[T]he sheriff’s office said that Wallace had become cocky after the department asked for help from the public to locate him.

“All of that brings me to the moral of the story. Always remain humble, my friends.”

Chris Wallace, small-time burglar of camp stoves, would seem like a fellow who has a great deal to be humble about.

“Scary Ivan” Fail

Newspapers these days pride themselves on excluding anyone that knows weapons, and especially veterans, from their airtight newsroom monoculture. So you get things like this illustration, which ran in the UK Telegraph with the caption: Alarming: Putin is positioning tanks across Europe. 


If you’re alarmed by those tanks, you’re either a very old Nazi, or a complete bozo. It looks like a V-E Day parade by “living history” World War II vintage armor. The four leading vehicles are T-34/85 tanks, and the following vehicles are SU assault guns, probably SU-122s, all of wartime origin and obsolete for over 50 years.

The slogan partially visible on the Red Star in the left background is “SSSR Pobeda” meaning, “USSR Victory.” Again, history, not threat.

(It’s made worse by the fact that the metadata for the picture, taken by Sergei Chirikov for the European Press Agency, accurately if generally identifies these tanks).

It speaks well of Russian official interest in history that they are able to generate a parade of 70-year-old armor and run it in front of God, the media, and everybody. Anyone who has ever worked with armor can tell you it could benefit from some modern Japanese Kaizen continuous improvement in reliability engineering.

The article itself is a rather good — once you get past the stuff they emphasize — with American NATO commander, GEN Ben Hodges.

Cooper’s Scout Rifle: Two Instances

In the 1980s, famed gunwriter Col. Jeff Cooper proposed what he called the Gunsite Scout Rifle. Essentially, it was a small, light, compact bolt action rifle, minimally scoped, with as much attention given to totability as to accuracy, and with firepower defined as a strong first shot rather than rapid-fire capability.

Here are two takes on that concept, one newer and one quite old:


Now, let’s look at Cooper’s definition, from the original American Rifleman article circa 1984:

It is much easier to specialize than to generalize, and the definition of a general-purpose rifle is a complex task. Let us attempt it by declaring that: a general-purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target. This involved statement will not meet with everyone’s approval, but certain elements of it must be accepted before we proceed. Convenience is important. Power is important. Practical accuracy, as opposed to intrinsic accuracy, is important. If we add the desirability of ruggedness, versatility and speed of operation, and finally throw in a touch of aesthetics, we complete a workable set of parameters. Such a piece is eminently suited for taking the vast predominance of four-footed game, and equally so for men.

While Cooper is credited with the Scout Rifle concept, he spread the credit around by holding conferences where he solicited others’ opinions — and then gave them to ‘em. (He was a forceful guy).

In 1983 a conference was convened at the Gunsite Training Center in Arizona to examine the subject of the modernization of rifle design. The members of the conference included gunsmiths, stocksmiths, journalists, marksmanship instructors, inventors and hunters. It was called the First Scout Rifle Conference (“scout” being the term settled upon for the definition of the new concept), and it adjourned with the objective of exploring all elements of design during 1984 and meeting again in October. When the second meeting was held much progress had been made. The project is not complete and at this point certain technical innovations remain to be perfected.

This idea has, of course, been somewhat supplanted by advances in gas guns, which are miles ahead of where they were in the 1980s when Cooper popularized this rifle, let alone in 1966 when he claims to have first gotten the idea, from the short-lived lightweight Remington 600.

But, of course, a small carbine is nothing new. Let’s check out the two in that picture. (The pic is on the dark side, but it does embiggen with a click.

Rifle No. 1: Ishapore Enfield 7.62 NATO

This rifle is an Indian-made Enfield Mk 4 modified to very nearly  Gunsite Scout requirements. It is converted to 7.62mm NATO, has detachable 10-shot magazines because the Enfield strippers for the rimmed .303 British round no longer work with the rimless 7.62 x 51.

It has most of Cooper’s preferred attachments, such as a long-eye-relief scope, a lightweight synthetic stock, and a muzzle brake that, according to the owner, “makes the guys on either side of you at the range really hate you.” One violation of Cooper’s principles is the complete absence of iron sights. In defense of the decisions by whoever modified this rifle, scope reliability has made Bunyan strides since Cooper first formulated his Scout Rifle ideas in 1966 or formalized them in 1983-84.

One of the most interesting features of this rifle is the apparent manufacture of some parts (including the entire bolt) from stainless steel. That’s not something one sees often on an Enfield.

Rifle No. 2: Spanish FR-8 Carbine

The FR-8 is a Spanish Mauser modified by Spain’s La Coruna arsenal into a 7.62 NATO carbine. This was an attempt to extend the utility of old Modelo 43 Mausers (a companion piece, the FR-7, was made from Modelo 1916 “small ring” Mausers). This happened as a backup, even as Spain adopted the select-fire CETME rifle. The FR’s iron sights resemble those of a CETME (or, to an extent, an HK), as does its flash hider and bayonet attachments. It loads only from strippers. This particular example has been modified in the interests of scope mounting, with both the safety and bolt handle having been altered in the interests of making this military rifle better suited to its post-retirement life.

The two rifles compared

Without shooting them, only a few notes can be taken of these rifles, but some distances do emerge. The Enfield has the legendary speed and smoothness of bolt operation for which the type is justly renowned. The Mauser has the legendary Mauser strength.

But then, the similarities: both are 7.62mm rifles with about 18-19″ barrels barely tamed by flash suppressors. Both were made by modifying full-size infantry rifles, and yielding a much handier firearm. Both of these rifles have been modified, sacrificing some of their collector value, in quest of some other value proposition.

Would they please Cooper? And is that even a good idea any more? Reader and sometimes commenter Nathaniel F. of The FireArm Blog posted a good roundup of some Cooper primary sources, along with some more recent and critical thinking about the bolt-action Scout Rifle’s remaining relevance.

Sunday Satisfaction

We’re dictating this post, because we’re back at home after a roughly 1500-mile one-wy journey, with Small Dog in our arms making displays of doggish affection.

The Mash House promotes this sentiment

The Mash House promotes this sentiment. Who could disagree?

We met a longtime net friend face to face in Fayetteville and found that the friendship there was not simply electronic, over a couple of sociables at The Mash House (highly recommended when you’re in town, and it was helpfully in staggering distance of my usual hotels, not that two beers — their Munich Helles is quite authentic, by the way — induces staggering even in our normally judicious person).

Fayetteville is a company town in a way that even Goodyear, Arizona is not any more. Even the brewmaster at the Mash House is an Army vet.

We also stopped in NoVa to meet an old friend going back to 10th MI Company days. (He showed up in that unit to be one of the insane CI guys, just before your humble host left for SFQC, and we’ve been firm and fast friends, united by a love of books, languages, and ideas, ever since. He and his wife are raising two high-energy bilingual boys). We RON’d there and in the morning got a tour of a unique gun collection (with some interesting pieces likely to feature here shortly, if the pictures are OK).

To our amazement, the snow, which was still following when we flew out 9 April, is gone. Those We Left Behind say the last of it went two days ago. And what we’ve now come back to is a lawn that does look, as we feared, like No Mans Land in World War I, minus only the body parts and  mortally wounded mules and that sort of thing. But they could be there, in the mud.

So some part of today will be spent walking over the manor grounds, maybe putting the fountain back in operation, maybe cutting down some saplings or cutting back the raspberry bushes, maybe checking the mower out and hoovering up some leaves.

And some part of it will be spent, perhaps, taking Kid on an adventure of his choosing, either to the range (always a favorite) or to the airport to talk about flying lessons (in 2015, he’ll be 16 and first eligible to solo a powered aircraft).

And yet a third small part of it will be spent, we hope, on putting up a Saturday Matinee due yesterday. The best-laid plans of doing movie reviews whilst on the road died in the space where a disc crawls inside an Apple superdrive to die, and we now have to find the forgotten BSD commands for ejecting the beastly thing from the command line. (Yes, a button or even the industry-standard pinhole would violate Apple’s all-powerful design language, so one is SOL when the firm’s increasingly neglected, jury-rigged OS software fails. Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, not even close, and “Doesn’t suck as bad as Windows 8″ is too-low a bar to set).

Tomorrow is soon enough for things like thinning the herd of cars here (five is two too many) and starting to deal with the winter’s damage to the house (light fixtures destroyed by a storm, roof leak, gutters wiped out by icefalls). Today is a day to enjoy being home at last.

75th Anniversary of US Airborne Forces this Year

82_Airborne_Patch.svgThe US Army Airborne Forces are about to celebrate a rare anniversary: the 75th since its establishment. While several nations established parachute forces before the USA, including Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union, most of the others have not operated continuously all that time, raising the possibility that the American airborne arm is senior to all as a matter of continuous operation.

Here’s what we’ve got on the coming event. Geronimo!

The point of this event is to celebrate the US Army Airborne and Special Operations 75th Anniversary on National Airborne Day, which is 16 August 2015.

The event will be held on 12 August 2015, at the Rosen Hotels and Resort in Orlando FL…. The 82d Airborne Division Association annual convention will be held at the same location from 13-15 August.

The event will begin at 1930 hours with a free fall team jumping the US Colors and POW/MIA banner on the premises, then a short Memorial Service conducted by Col Dennis Freytes and then the band will begin. We have an eight member 60’s band scheduled for your entertainment. The event will be held indoors in the Main Ballroom. There will be light food, beer, wine and soft drinks, as well as a cash bar.

We will have numbered 75th Anniversary Coins and those with numbers of Airborne Battalions, Regiments and Divisions, along with SF and other Special Operations will be auctioned. The other coins, in the configuration of a silver dog tag, will be sold for $15.00 at the event. We also have a Ruger SR 762, which is a 308 caliber semi-auto rifle along with an ACOG scope, that we have been selling raffle tickets on for some time.

You can find more information about it at the 82nd Airborne Association website.

Some Thoughts on Police Trade-Ins

Favorite FFL emailed his list of customers to say that he had some police trade-ins:

Available starting tomorrow at 9AM are these police department trade in guns.

Bushmaster XM15E2S 5.56mm rifles.  16″ barrel, collapsible stocks, will come with one 30rd mag.  Used, cosmetic blemishes from being in cruiser racks however mechanically sound.  We also have a special going with our Cerakote vendor to get $25 off a refinish with Cerakote gun coating if you so desire.  $475

File photo of a Remington 870 tactical police shotgun

File photo of a Remington 870 tactical police shotgun

Remington 870 Police Magnum 12ga pump shotguns. These have 18.5″ standard barrels with sights.  Two have BlackHawk recoil reducing stocks and two have regular stocks with side saddle shell holders. These also will have some finish wear as well but are mechanically sound.  $325

They’re going to be gone by now, probably; he just had single-digits of each.

Meanwhile, SF Buddy on the phone described his new score:

An HK imported Benelli shotgun that the local detectoves used to use. They have changed (not upgraded) to Mossberg pumps.

Aside: asks your humble host: “Wha’s wrong with a Mossberg pump?”

Turns out, lots of things, but basically, the single aluminum alloy op-rod is prone to bending when used hard. When Army Mossbergs had this problem, the answer was, per Mossberg, a thicker aluminum op-rod… result? One thicker bent aluminum op-rod.

He’s very pleased with the new gun so far. It was a lot more expensive than the above-referenced 870s, but it was a good buy for an HK-era Benelli.

Pros and Cons of Police Trade-ins

Police trade in weapons when they buy new ones, in most states and cities. This lets them save a lot of money on this vital equipment, while keeping their equipment pool up to date (and sometimes, even, under warranty).

The strengths of these weapons usually are:

  1. The weapon design and manufacture was generally good. Police agencies seldom buy junk. When they trade them, it’s more likely to be because they are out of fashion than any real substantive difference between the new guns and the old.
  2. Police weapons are usually chambered for what is thought at the time to be an effective cartridge. All 20th and 21st-Century police firearms can be effective on homo sapiens, to the extent that a handgun can be, with well-selected or handloaded rounds.
  3. The weapons are usually little shot and in good mechanical shape. 90% or more of cops would sooner attend a Free Mumia rally that shoot a single round more than minimum to qualify, so few of these weapons are shot out.
  4. The weapon was subject to some kind of periodic maintenance and inspection.
  5. The police provenance may give you an entertaining story to go with the gun. Or not.


PSP Patch Beretta 2

The Pennsylvania State Police is one agency that disposes their used handguns — in this case, a Beretta 96.


Weaknesses of these weapons usually are:

  1. Because PDs so dependably follow trends, you’re probably picking up something from one trend ago.
  2. They generally only come in limited configurations. If you prefer, say, the 9mm to the .40 S&W, you don’t get to choose, the way you would with a new gun.
  3. The weapons are usually in fair to poor cosmetic shape, and may not have been cleaned in a long time — if ever.
  4. Cop trades, unless a very large agency suddenly gluts the market or the agency’s version of the gun had market-toxic lawyer “improvements” like a New York or DAO trigger, tend to be priced a little higher than similar used guns.
  5. Police guns are bought by collectors as well as users, especially if the firearm is marked with police identification.

Where Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Duffel Bags

Trust us on this: don't open the bag.

Trust us on this: don’t open the bag.

In Cambridge, MA, where guns are already outlawed, the outlaws are getting creative.

A duffel bag containing human remains was found outside a biotechnology building in Cambridge on Saturday morning, and one person was later arrested in connection with the grisly discovery, authorities said.

The duffel bag was found shortly before 8 a.m. near a building used by biotechnology company Biogen Inc. and a block from a police station, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said. Video surveillance of the area led police to an apartment complex across the street where additional human remains were found in a common area, authorities said.

You’d almost think something other than guns has some bearing on homicides, wouldn’t you?

All of the remains are believed to belong to one person, whose death is being treated as a homicide, Ryan said. She announced at an evening news conference that a person had been arrested in the case but provided no details. The name of the victim also was not released.

Gee, ya think? It’s pretty hard to imagine a suicide or death by misadventure that ends with the victim in pieces in a bag. Generally, that requires someone’s conscious action.

Come to think of it, like murder itself.

Ryan said the person under arrest would be arraigned Monday in Cambridge District Court on charges of being an accessory after the crime of assault and battery and improper disposal of human remains. Authorities stopped short of saying whether they believed the person arrested was the killer.

“We don’t think there’s a threat to the community at this point in time,” Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said.

The neighborhood where the duffel bag was found includes Kendall Square near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Square.

It’s Boston, so they have to be snobby about the neighborhood, even when it’s the neighborhood a bag full of person part pieces turned up in.

SF: Playing Hurt

SF Recruiting Poster pick it upOne of the things we’ve mentioned before about SF is that we are either bred to Never Quit, trained to Never Quit, or selected because we congenitally Never Quit.

The “why” is, as you can imagine, a matter of dispute to scientists, and of no more than casual interest to us. It’s just a fact of SF life. We are pretty deficient in the genetics, metaphysics, and epistemiology of surrender.

We actually have a course where we teach guys how, if through some screwup you wind up in the enemy’s hands, you can continue to take the war to him from what he mistakenly thinks is hopeless confinement. The course is based on the experiences of real-life SF soldiers like Nick Rowe and Jon Cavaiaini (and, to be fair, men from our sister services, and the experiences of others in history — ally and enemy) who did just that while in the jug in wars gone by. (There’s actually more than one course, but everybody does at least one these days).

Part of Never Quit is Playing Hurt. Sports coaches, players, and fans know what that is. It’s real rare to see an SF guy with a major valor award and no Purple Heart. (It happens. We know of one guy who got 10 Silver Stars and never got tagged, and probably could have had 20 if another part of SF wasn’t We Suck at Paperwork). You’re only at 100% on the first day of Game Season and the enemy, the weather, the conditions, and the mission start attriting you right away.

Over the years we’ve known some legendary guys who played hurt, and won.

The Guys Who Had to Cheat Their Way In

SF PatchLike every other thing out there, SF has entrance standards; before you can go and probably flunk SF Assessment & Selection and on, if you pass, to the SF Qualification Course, you need to tick a number of boxes. Some of these are germane to mission performance: you have to have a working cardiovascular system and decent, or repairable anyway, eyesight. Others are more marginal: is it a big deal if an SF guy has red/green color blindness, which about one in ten males have in some form? Experience says “no,” but the standards say, “yeah.”

Likewise, there’s a limit for corrected and uncorrected vision. (Now that surgery can fix nearsightedness, that’s less of a problem). But we couldn’t pass an honest vision test, back in the day. (So? We arranged a dishonest one. The statute of limitations has run out by now).

Of course, these standards are just one more way in which All of Life is an IQ Test, and yes, guys cheat their way past them. They memorize the order of all the tiles in the color-blindness test book, for example. We knew a guy, Art, who did that. And we learned that there’s a benefit to having a color-blind man on the team: he can see through camouflage better than people whose visual systems have a more normal frequency response curve.

The Guys Who Had to Cheat to Stay In

CrestThen there are the guys who were in, and had some major medical malfunction that was disqualifying.

Chris got news you’d never expect. He ate healthy, didn’t smoke (although he did dip), and was an avid runner and hiker who kept himself trim. And the doctors told him: he had diabetes.

That’s a career-ender right there. But it didn’t. An entire team and later, an entire company, and the battalion and group medical officers, helped him cover it up.

Andy had something that was a bit harder to cover up: a massive heart attack. But we did.

And then there was our own problem, yeah, apart from the vision thing. There was the fact that one leg didn’t really work after an unfortunate parachute jump. Yet we hung on for six more years, despite having an ankle that doesn’t exactly bend.

We’re reminded of an old SF maxim:

If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.

And its corollary:

If you get caught, you’re tryin’ too hard.


Now What Happens?

What happens to guys like Chris and Andy and Art when they get ready to retire? That’s a problem. Because they kept their problems out of their military medical records, they can’t get help from the VA.

Fortunately, that doesn’t leave them materially worse off than anyone else.

And doubly fortunately, there’s a nonprofit that helps special operators who hid their stuff through their time in service, to claim a disability. We have no direct connection to OASIS, but we hear good things about ‘em. If you are a former SOF guy who lied, cheated and stole to stay in Group /on the Teams / in an operational Squadron, they can walk you through doing the necessary stuff to get your paperwork straight.

Why This Guy is NOT Bubba

Here is a Glock pistol with a home-made modification: golf-ball like grip dimples. Whether you like it or not, it’s a personalization the owner is happy with, not that that alone prevents a hack job from getting the dreaded Bubba the Gunsmite label. (After all, some owners have extremely low thresholds of satisfaction).

Bubbas Glock

Nope, several things prevent this home-gunsmithing job from being the work of Bubba:

  • Not-Bubba did it with great care;
  • Not-Bubba made a plan first;
  • Not-Bubba followed his plan;
  • Not-Bubba took precautions to prevent damage to his Glock;
  • Not-Bubba practiced on other materials before taking his tools to the Glock, and even then,
  • Not-Bubba started on the least visible and most easily replaced bits of the pistol (in the case of a Glock G4, the replaceable backstraps).

Bubbas Glock 4

He tells his own tale on Reddit (with the ironic title: Burnt Plastic: How I Lowered the Value of my Glock, and the images of his work (with captions) are at Imgur.

Let’s let him tell a little of the story himself, beginning with why dimple your Austrian self-defense appliance:

I hate the grip texture on my G19. I have always shot Glocks well, but they feel like I’m holding a greased up pineapple. I’ve tried the grip tape. It greatly improved my grip for followup shots, but also had a tendency to peal off too easily and was too rough on my skin for carry also making my shirt ride up.
So I decided to take the plunge into grip stippling. Here’s the result. No, I’m not reselling it; no, I don’t care how it looks; Yes, I voided the warranty, and Yes, it feels MUCH better, both shooting and carrying against my back (8 o’clock, lefty).

This is a classic of home gunsmithing, actually, because Not Bubba took a generic, mass-produced pistol and made it better for him. Yes, it may punish him at resales time, but what’s the wholesale on a G19? They’re one of the least expensive firearms in class, new (especially if you get the LE discount, which we don’t know if he did). Nobody buys it for the resale value.

Remember how we said he practiced? He needed some Glocklike polymer to practice on and figure out what he was doing, and you may not have thought about it, but you probably have something pretty close, in your mag pouch.

Step 0: Practice and experiment. I bought a soldering iron with a bunch of tips. Some pointy, some round and skinny, some round and fat, some flat, etc. I used several of them to make different patterns on Pmags I had sitting around. Once I had a pattern I liked, I practiced on one of the back straps that came with my glock. Only after I was comfortable with the texture and pattern was I ready to work on the real thing.

That kind of incrementalism and thinking-it-through is evident throughout his activities. He drew out a plan for his dimples, once he figured out what size and texture he wanted, after sanding off the Glock factory sort-of-rounded-rectangles.

Bubbas Glock in-prog 2


The blue tape, put on before the sanding, keeps dust and grit out of the innards of the polymer frame. Note also that he steered clear of defacing any of the factory markings, which is a Federal (and most States, too) no-no .

A weird side-product of the dimpling process was a quantity of raised rings where the soldering iron had displaced plastic. The tool he used to shave them off is the razor-blade holder at left in the picture below. Bubbas Glock in-progress


Since he was hacking on the pistol anyway, he also relieved the rear end of the trigger guard to better suit his grip.

Bubbas Glock 2

End product: a customized Glock 19 that he likes better, can grip better and feels more confident about. And, not incidentally, the warm glow of having done it himself, rather than sending it out to a Glocksmith for the work. Note the regular rows of dimples, thanks to that sketched-on plan, as opposed to the random scattering that is the Mark of Bubba.

Bubbas Glock 3


Golf-ball dimples may not be your preferred surface treatment. In that case, don’t you do this to your gun. For this guy, it worked; it doesn’t look especially bad, and it’s not as if a Glock’s industrial design is gunning for a place in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art anyway.

You can get the whole story, as mentioned above, on Reddit (complete with very thorough descriptions of tools used, down to the grit of sandpaper) and the images at Imgur (linked in the Reddit comment).