Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

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

The DA/SA Pistol, Reconsidered

At LuckyGunner’s blog the LuckyGunner Lounge, Chris Baker has been running a series of really good articles on traditional DA/SA pistols and how he’s recently made the change to DA/SA after going striker fired for a while.

Chris Baker firing-beretta

While we call them “articles,” they’re really informational and instructional videos; but Chris and LuckyGunner present the full transcripts of the videos, which is a beautiful thing.  A video can show you, but if what you want is the words, you can read a lot faster than it takes to watch the vid. The way they set it up, you can pick your preferred learning method. ‘S’all good!

So far, Chris has presented three parts, which may be the whole thing for all we know; the first covers general double-action history.

The double action autos got to be pretty popular in the 20th century and various designs were used by Beretta, Smith and Wesson, Sig, CZ, and a lot of other gun companies.

And you probably know the rest of the story. In the 1980s, the American US military ditched the 1911 and adopted the double action Beretta M9. And then when police departments around the country started switching from revolver to semi-autos in the 80s and 90s, at least at first, most departments adopted double action semi-autos.

And then a few years later, Glock came along and shook things up.

His basic reason for defecting from the striker-fired camp, he tells us in the second part, on why he switched, is safety:

if you mess up and get on the trigger too early — which happens a lot to people under stress — or if you think you need to shoot someone and then realize you don’t, the length of travel of the double action trigger gives you an extra split second to correct your course of action before you put a bullet somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Double action pistols are also safer when it comes to holstering the gun. This is probably the most dangerous thing we do with our handguns, and it’s when a lot of accidents happen. With a double action pistol, you can put your thumb on the hammer after you de-cock, and that way, it’s impossible for the gun to discharge if you accidentally leave your finger on the trigger or you get a strap or a piece of shirt caught in the trigger guard. And if you don’t remember to de-cock the gun or thumb the hammer, then you’re really just a pound or two of pressure away from where you’d be with a striker fired gun anyway.

One reason cop shops went in for DA/SA in a big way in the 1980s is that it let you have a gun ready to fire without any fiddling, but with a long enough first-shot trigger pull that only intentional shots would be fired. Cops being cops, some of them from time to time found a way to outflank the idiot-proofing, but they’d done that with DA revolvers, too, and a DA revolver is about as safe a gun as you’re going to get without molding it out of Play-Doh.

A second reason, one that mattered to the military but not to police who generally use new ammunition, was that a DA pistol gave you a second poke at a dud primer. You will see this often mentioned in early-1980s documents, especially ones written by people with military connections. That’s probably because at the time we were still firing 1944 and 1945 headstamped ammunition from WWII production! After the adoption of the M9, the Army quickly ran through its supply of ammo that had only been feeding SOF secondary demands (like MP5s and foreign weapons training).

In the third part, on learning to use the DA/SA trigger, Chris says:

It’s only been about six months since I started the transition from primarily using striker fired pistols to using double actions for all of my personal self-defense guns, so I am by no means an expert. But I feel like I’ve started to get the hang of it, and I’ve had some good teachers, so I’m going to share a few tips that have helped me out with shooting double actions over the last few months.

The first challenge is the double action trigger itself. In order to master this, you have to actually shoot the gun double action. Some people are so intimidated by the longer and heavier trigger pull that they never actually shoot the gun this way. It’s possible for you to go to the range and just rack in the first round and now your hammer is cocked, and you could fire the whole magazine single action and never actually have to fire double action.

But if you own a double action pistol for self-defense then you have to have the discipline to decock the pistol and shoot both triggers so you can learn to run the gun the way you would if you had to draw it and shoot to defend your life. I decock the pistol after every string of fire and every drill and I never thumb cock the hammer. Whenever the gun comes off target, I decock. This is a good habit to get into anyway just for the sake of safety, but it also forces you to have to shoot that double action trigger.

There are several different variants of decock and safety on DA pistols. The Beretta 92S/92F/92SF/M9, which has a safety loosely based on Walther practice, is a bit awkward, thumbwise, for one-handed decocking. (The 92G has a decocker, which is what Wilson Combat does on their custom Berettas, and it’s nice but still in that out-of-the-way place. There are also DAO-only Berettas 92D and 96D, and all Beretta lockwork from at least the FS on up is interchangeable). We dunno what the polymer Berettas that Chris seems to prefer work like; just never tried one. SIGs have a separate safety and decocking lever, which is very handy, you just have to practice enough to make decocking second nature. CZs have to be different, and have one of two safety arrangements: a non-decocking, 1911-style safety that requires a careful manual hammer drop on a live round to decock, or a very nice decocker in the safety position.

A CZ cocked and locked. This was also possible on the very first Beretta, M92. The M92S with slide-mounted decocking safety soon replaced it.

A compact CZ cocked and locked. This was also possible on the very first DA Beretta service pistol, the Model 92. The M92S with slide-mounted decocking safety soon replaced it.

What works with you depends on the size of your hand, and how diligently you want to train on a complex system. People who are casual about shooting and indifferent towards practice might be better off with a striker-fired gun on which the trigger weight and throw never change. But striker fired guns have their own issues.

Having grown up with both SA (1911, et al.) and DA/SA (P.38) autopistols around, and going through the “wondernine” 1911->DA/SA conversion when that was a thing, we didn’t consider that many young shooters didn’t have hands-on with this system, but Chris sure did, and that’s what makes his articles especially valuable to today’s shooters. Maybe they’ll think better of those of us who still shoot these coelacanths of the range.

Their Tank will be a Memorial

Sultab-Yakub tank in Kubinka

If you were headed to Kubinka to see this tank, you can turn back now….

In war, you never get it all your own way. You win some, and you lose some. In the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in 1982, de facto Syrian territory at the time, Israel won some — sweeping the Valley clean of Syria’s latest surface-to-air missiles and destroying 29 MiGs in a day — and they lost some, when an exposed tank battalion was nearly surrounded and defeated in detail at the battle of Sultan Yacoub.

The Israelis withdrew with most of their 50-plus casualties, of whom 20 were dead. The Syrians captured some broken-down and disabled Israeli tanks — American 1950s-vintage M48s with many Israeli upgrades, including reactive armor — and three survivors of one tank crew: Zechariah Baumel (also an American citizen), Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz. The Syrians marched the three captives off and they were never seen again. The most intact of the tanks was presented by Syrian king-in-all-but-name Hafez Assad to his patrons, the Soviet Union. After analysis by Soviet technical intellience officers, it wound up in the museum of the Russian armored forces at Kubinka near Moscow.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu recently asked for a favor from his fellow head of state, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Would he consider returning the tank? Turns out, he would. He signed the order this weekend and Israeli and Russian officers are working together on the shipmen of the tank today. Netanyahu:

There has been nothing to remember the boys by and no grave to visit for 34 years now. The tank is the only evidence of the battle and now it is coming back to Israel thanks to President Putin’s response to my request.

It is probably the only tank in the history of the world to be shipped anywhere on humanitarian grounds.

One wonders what else the two presidents found to talk about, and whether there is a quid pro quo in the works for the return of the tank.

 

 

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have New Age Beliefs

New-AgeDoctors? What do they know, primitive barbers? We’re going to treat our kid’s diabetes with our new-age feels! Because medical-industrial complex, or something.

Guess how that worked out?

Alex Radita, 15, weighed less than 37 pounds at the time of his death in May 2013. His physical condition was so disturbing, many of the emergency responders who found the emaciated child inside the family’s home had to seek psychological services.

“It is hard to imagine what Alexander experienced in the last days, weeks and months of his life,” prosecutor Susan Pepper said in her opening statement.

“It must have been painful. It must have been profoundly lonely.”

The Raditas once had their son seized by B.C. social services after he nearly died from untreated diabetes — the same allegations they now face in relation to his death, according to Pepper.

“At some point the accused knew their plan was killing their son or they knew he was likely to die and they accepted this consequence,” said Pepper. “They knew this and yet they continued their plan.”

After their entanglement with the British Columbia authorities, the cruel, neglectful parents moved to Alberta, where authorities didn’t know their history of extreme child abuse and neglect. (Canada, like the USA or Germany, has a federal system where things like family law and basic criminal law are usually matters for the subordinate jurisdiction. Some criminals exploit this).

Police said at the time that Alex, who had Type-1 diabetes, died from a bacterial infection that arose from complications stemming from neglect and starvation.

The Raditas had several adult children who also lived in the home, but none of them were ever charged.

The family had moved from B.C. several years before Alex’s death, where court documents show his parents had a history of refusing to treat the boy’s illness.

The trouble began in 2000, when Alex was first diagnosed with diabetes at age three.

\The child was hospitalized several times before B.C. social services officials seized him for a year. He was returned to his parents in 2005.

via Alex Radita, 15, weighed 37 pounds when he died, parents murder trial hears.

Alex Radita, emaciated and nearly dead, at his birthday party shortly before his death.

Alex Radita, emaciated and nearly dead, at his birthday party shortly before his death.

As the trial continued, the parents’, particularly the mother’s, conviction that they knew better than mere doctors seemed to become even more clear as lawyers wrangled over whether to admit or exclude even more evidence of neglect and abuse.

Rodica Radita expressed to doctors and social workers over and over again that she did not accept her son’s diabetes diagnosis and was reluctant to treat it, according to evidence the prosecution wants allowed in the murder trial of the Calgary mother and her husband, Emil.

After his diagnosis, Alex went years without seeing medical professionals and was hospitalized several times, once when he was near death after his parents failed to properly treat him.

Throughout the years, Rodica told medical staff she did not agree with the diabetes diagnosis and did not want to give Alex insulin. At one point, she said she believed the insulin was giving Alex cold sores and resisted increasing the amount he was getting.

At one point, a hospital refused to release the kid back into his parents’ custody, noting that they were mired in unshakeable denial about his medical condition. Unfortunately, the hospital ultimately relented, and the parents just kept abusing and neglecting Alex until they killed him.

There’s a lot of people out there practicing medicine by blog and you-tube. If they don’t agree with a doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan, they’ll just search the intertubes until they find one they like better.

A milder version of that is the person who does not like what the doctor is telling him, and selects a homeopath (practitioners of a notorious, legendary quackery) to tell him what he wants to hear, while giving him placebos. (By definition, homeopathic “remedies” can’t contain therapeutic levels of anything).

Ask your doctor about, say, vaccination (that usually smokes out these “alternative medicine,” really “alternative to medicine”  barbers). If he ducks like a quack, it’s past time to change doctors.

“Happy Memorial Day?”

American dead in WWII were a relatively small minority. (Here, Arlington Cemetery in Washington).Somebody’s going to say it, or a lot of somebodies: “Happy Memorial Day.” And a veteran’s going to throw a wobbler. Or at least, grind his teeth.

Or, that other favorite, “This day is all about you. Thank you for your service.”

As readers of this blog certainly know, Memorial Day is not on occasion to celebrate those many of us who survive. At least, not in the USA. We’ve got a day for that, in the bitter month of November, for good and historical reasons. That’s the day for those who returned upright and animate. This day is to honor the ennobled among us, the ones that did not. And so many of us vets are thinking about absent friends, today; it may not be an occasion for happiness.

We are about to argue the opposite.

Nobody died so that you can mope around bewailing his fate. Let us consider an alternative way to think about him, about them. Let us, rather, take comfort and find joy in the fact that they lived, however briefly; let us remember them not as they died in a flash of HE, that unforgettable sound of a rifle-bullet impact, or an unstoppable running-down on the operating table; but rather, as they live: full of life and life’s joys, or even more honestly, life’s passions.

Surely you can call up that friend, or relative, or friend’s relative, in your mind. This was a person with a distinctive smile, a laugh, and a gait that you could spot in a throng at a hundred yards. Bring that picture into your mind, that man (or, perhaps, woman) in color and in three dimensions.

Now, take that fallen hero — for the foundation of our little world stands on the shoulders of these, and that makes them heroes if nothing else does — along with you. To the cookout, to the ball game, to the beach, to the water park.

Expect others to look at you funny, as you’re attentive to the old friend’s envy of your home or kids — or his mockery of your current state of physical fitness.

Don’t be surprised if he takes the last hot dog or the last beer — or if he leaves it for you. Either way, that’s just the kind of guy he was, wasn’t he?

We have been bringing our dead friends to holiday festivities for some years now. We haven’t told anybody, because we enjoy, most of the time, just passing as regular, sane, non-vet Americans. But now it’s time to let the secret out of the bag.

Maybe a pshrink would say it’s a coping mechanism or something, but like Tom Cruise, we stay away from those guys (maybe they could help Mr Cruise, but it’s still a free country, and that’s his business, not ours).

Anyway, when some smiling, secure, comfortable citizen looks at you and says, “Happy Memorial Day,” look right in his or her eye, shake hands if it’s suitable, and say, “Happy Memorial Day” right back. Say it like you mean it, because you’re saying it for two.

And if you’re sensitive to it, if you’re really tuned-in, that pressure on your shoulder is a squeeze from a dead hand, telling you it’s OK.

Happy Memorial Day.

 

Deal Alert: Polymer 80

We’re forgetting that for Muggles, Memorial Day is a time of great sales. We received a very nice email from Polymer80, leading with the right sentiment. We already had a Polymer80 pistol-lower unboxing post roughed out for this week, so it was on our mind, too. We just didn’t check email ’til this morning. Here’s our excerpt from their email — plus the all important code.

Honoring the Fallen

We want to take this time to acknowledge those who have sacrificed their lives for Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.  Your courage will always be remembered.

God Bless America.

Save 20% OFF ALL 80% Polymer AR Receivers, 80% Pistol Frames, and AR Accessories this Memorial Day Weekend*.

At check-out use promo code:  p80memday2016

*Does not include BBS Kits. Expires May 31st, 2016

Shop Polymer80

New Dealer SpotLight

Still looking for the illusive [sic] Glock Gen3 parts for your PF940 Pistol Frame? We have a new source just recently added to our family of dealers.  Visit Trick Glocks and check out their e-store, they currently have 30 kits ready to sell with another 70 on the way!

Their website url is: https://www.trickglocks.com/
You can also visit their Facebok Page: https://www.facebook.com/trickglocks

As we mentioned, we have two Polymer80 Glock-off frames here and were planning an unboxing post. We weren’t sure where we were going to get parts (we were probably going to just strip our own G17), and so we’ll check out Trick Glocks, too, but only after this post goes live. (We’ve got a thing about taking advantage of our readers. To be specific, we don’t do it!).

UPDATE

We’ve just been to parts seller Trick Glocks’s website, and we’re not impressed.

It looks like they spent a lot on the polish and shine. Then when we went to actually buy stuff, the sales cart engine is… unfinished. It looks like it’s working in general, because some things are selling out, but after a flaky dance with registration and prove-you’re-real and emails to click on, it then hissed at us:

Your City must contain a minimum of 4 characters.

We can assure them, our town contains lots of characters; our very dead-end street has more than four characters. But the name of the town has only three, which is not all that rare in this part of the world. At least 14 towns in the Northeast (NH, NY, MA, ME, VT) bear three-letter names, often since some time in the 17th Century. We were jolly well here first, but apparently our money’s no good with him.

To put it in three-letter words: Him? Huh. Fie. Heh.

UPDATE II

And the contact page on their web site doesn’t work, either….

What Did a Luger Cost? (Updated)

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures -- in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory.

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures — in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory. ($3,450!)

Well, that depends. There’s a lot of different ways to look at this question. But what we’re going to do, is look at what it cost to manufacture a Luger. As it happens, the great book Mauser Pistolen has a table of Luger production costs in 19401. From there we can calculate would it cost in 1940 dollars, and from there it’s possible to make an estimate of its production cost in 2016, in today’s dollars. Let’s start by transcribing the original document, from the collection of Mauser Pistolen co-author Jon Speed. We’ll apply our MBA-fu and a little search online to translate the quaint old German accounting terms.

Table 1: P.08 with Haenel Magazine — Full Cost Accounting

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM
Werkstoff Material 1.82
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32
Summe SubTotal 7.14
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65
SubTotal SubTotal 36.49
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78
Summe SubTotal 37.27
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48
Private sale cost 47.50

OK, now  convert to period dollars. UCSB Historian Harold Marcuse has posted a useful table of exchange rates here. (He also, to digress for a moment, spent a portion of last year embroiled (with some allies, like Prof. Atina Grossman of Cooper Union) in a battle of wits with the relatively unarmed Erich Lichtblau of the New York Times over fabrications and exaggerations in Lichtblau’s America-bashing “history” of the postwar area as published in a book and the Times — something that will not surprise anyone who’s read Lichtblau in any form). So what did it cost Mauser to make a Luger in 1940, converted to 1940 dollars? Marcuse’s set of tables includes two tables that cover 1940, but they agree: RM2.5 = US $1 for that year. So let’s add a  column, and see what that adds up to.

Table 2: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940.

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00

While what Mauser got from the HeeresWaffenAmt (Army Ordnance Office) for each Luger is not immediately apparent (it’s probably somewhere else in that excellent book), we know what they charged a German military or police officer seeking to privately purchase a Luger: RM 47.50 (that’s in another of Speed’s period documents on that same page). In American, $19.

These costs were reduced about one Reichsmark per unit from the previous year, but Mauser’s costs in 1936-37 were lower and highly variable over time, suggesting that the ~5% difference might just be normal variance over time. It’s surprising that you don’t see cost reductions considering that Mauser produced the Luger for about ten years, beginning in the early ’30s when they took over production from then-corporate sibling DWM in Berlin (drawings, parts, and one engineer, August Weiss, were sent to Oberndorf). Other evidence in the book suggests that Mauser had quite modern management for its day.

Well, there’s the outrageously-expensive Luger for you — compare that to the US cost for the 1911A1, about $14-15 in 1940. Adds up if you’re making hundreds of thousands of them (Mauser and DWM together produced about 2 million Lugers, according to Weiss).

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson Armory.

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson County Armory.

There are several different ways to calculate what a 1940 dollar is worth today (which was news to us, MBA and history degree and all). Marcuse also recommends the site measuringworth.com, which has this interesting discussion of which value comparison indicator is “right”. (The answer, it turns out, is “it depends.” Isn’t it always?)

Using Measuring Worth’s seven-index calculator, we get values for a 1940 dollar varying wildly from $13.40 (using the GDP deflator methodology) to $169 (using relative share of GDP).

one_1940_dollarAs it turns out, GDP deflator is a good measure of “how much it cost compared to the present cost of materials or labor”, but so are worker wages, which as you can see (for an unskilled worker) is double the CPI (reflecting a rising standard of living in the last 3/4 of a century); and relative share of GDP is a good measure of the national weight assigned to such a project.

The common Consumer Price Index which we’ve used for previous longitudinal price comparisons is close to the low end, at $16.90. A perfect methodology does not exist, but it might require us to use different metrics for different components of the Luger’s cost structure. Instead, we’ll just use the GDP Deflator and the Relative Share of GDP to get the min-max:

Table 3: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940 and 2014

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD Value, 2016 by GDP Deflator Value, 2016, Relative Share of GDP
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73 9.78 123.37
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13 28.54 359.97
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86 38.32 483.34
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08 54.67 689.52
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2 2.68 33.80
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46 99.96 1260.74
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6 195.64 2467.4
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31 4.15 52.39
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91 199.79 2519.79
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33 4.42 55.77
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24 204.22 2575.56
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58 7.77 98.02
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38 5.09 64.22
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19 216.95 2736.11
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00 254.60 3211.00

We’d be very pleased to be pointed to any such cost accounting details from other nations/periods/firearms.

Updates

This post has been updated. Total Luger production has been added, and the paragraph noting that earlier costs were higher has also been inserted (Mauser Pistolen contains another, earlier cost breakdown table on p. 226 that shows these costs for the years 1936-38, with 1937 costs broken down by quarter. Plenty of data in that book for anyone interested in a deeper dive than this.

Sources

Weaver, W. Darrin, Speed, Jon, and Schmid, Walter. Mauser Pistolen. Cobourg, Ontario: Collector Grade, 2008.

Williamson, Samuel H.  Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present. Measuring Worth, n.d. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/

Williamson, Samuel H. Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth. Measuring Worth, n.d.. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/indicator.php

Sunday Sleepwalking

Ever have one of those days without energy?

Got up, came downstairs, sat down, woke up three hours later. We’re not the Lone Ranger in this. Plaintiff II meant to attend a newly ordained priest’s first sermon, and arrived in time for the applause. He who slept through services in a plush recliner will not be the first to cast a stone, and the padre apparently thought it was funny.

In our defense that is a very comfortable chair. In fact, we hear it calling, and the calls will probably overwhelm us after lunch.

Yesterday was 86 degrees out, and we did some yard and lawn and airplane work, and bought a tool box at a neighbor’s yard sale, and got somewhat cooked with all of it. Today it’s in the low fifties, cloudy, with a fresh breeze. Bicycle wasn’t fun.

The tool box was a large double-stack Craftsman Pro box with a lot of Snap-On and Mac tools, and a story. Our neighbors are retiring to Florida. He is not a mechanic; his son was, a motorcycle mechanic. (There are some oddball Harley tools in the box, we think). After the son perished in a bike accident, the box of tools sat, until it was time to move. He put a reasonable price on the toolbox. We didn’t bargain (unusual for us, cheapskate New Englanders).

There is nothing of interest in the lawn work, except that we’re playing with a manual reel mower. It can’t cut any high grass, but seems like a great workout once the power mower gets us ahead of things. It’s silent and very neighborly.

Finally, the airplane. What we thought was a couple of nights’ work assembling the flaperons turned out to be more work than we expected (or that the plans let on). Flaperons are control surfaces on the trailing edge of a wing that serve as both ailerons (lateral control surfaces that roll the aircraft around its longitudinal axis) and as flaps (surfaces that change the effective camber of the wing, providing increased lift, and a steeper ascent and descent, at low airspeeds). All airplanes since about 1914 have ailerons, which were Glen Curtiss’s clever end run around the Wright Brothers’ patent on wing-warping; all airplanes that cruise at 100 knots or more have flaps (and many slower ones do, also). Combining the flap and the aileron lowers part count and empty weight (these are good things), and trades off a little control-system complexity for increased structural simplicity.

By and large, the parts fit extremely well. We are impressed and more with the quality of the Van’s RV-12 kit. We have encountered exactly one place where we believe the kit could be improved, one place (well, several places relating to the same thing) where the plans are a little off, and, we think, about four places where we had to refer to the builder forum at Van’s Air Force. (In addition to that, some bracket machining that would have been trivial for us but has caused other builders of earlier kits great stress is now done for you at the factory. Gotta love Van’s). For us, the journey is the reward, but you can also buy one already built at a factory.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Canoes

Drowning_Man_by_JanooshThere is a lesson in this nameless tragedy: two men went out in a canoe, and only one came back, but this isn’t the close of Godfather II. The survivor, too, came back without the canoe. He and his father had been fishing on a Sunday morning (22 May 16), and they capsized their canoe. The son swam to shore.

The father never surfaced. His remains were found an hour later — which is pretty quick public safety work, given the need to call out the dive team at 0730 Sunday — deceased, presumably drowned (although the ME has yet to weigh in).

As we’ll see, drowning should not be underestimated as a risk, but first, the facts of the case:

A New London man died this morning at Lake Of Isles in North Stonington, after his canoe capsized and he went missing in the water for approximately one hour, police said.

His adult son, who was in the canoe with him, made it safely to shore without any injuries.

The two were fishing when the 14-foot canoe overturned and threw them into them into the water.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was alerted to the incident around 7:30 a.m. after state police received a 911 call.

Police and local fire departments pulled the 50-year-old father from the water and he was pronounced dead on the scene at 8:45 a.m., police said.

via Man Pronounced Dead On Scene After Capsizing Canoe With Son – Hartford Courant.

As it happens, drowning is common. In this interesting comparison, interesting because one of the favorite claims of gun banners is that they only do it “for the children,” economists compared deaths of young children (<=5) in bathtubs to young children by gunfire. The bathtub is the more hazardous device by far.

Humans are fragile creatures. One aspect of that fragilty is that we cannot breathe anything but gaseous oxygen.

 

Loyalty and Love Led me to VA. (Guest Post by Dr. Steve Temerlin)

(Steve, a VA Physician and six-tour Navy Doc, has twice commented on our criticism of the VA, where he works. This comment, occasioned by the Secretary Bob McDonald’s brain-dead comparison of VA waiting lines to those at Disney attractions, moved us and deserved wider readership, so we plucked it out and shared it with you. He’ll get to the picture in a minute. We made one punctuation change, and inserted paragraph breaks. At the end we’ll link to both his comments. -Ed.)

NOW ZAD, AFGHANISTAN - APRIL 02: U.S. Marine Sgt. Jasen Wrubel drags his foot while patroling with his squad on April 2, 2009 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Marines follow behind a land mine sweeper while on patrol, dragging their feet to create a safe path for other Marines to follow safely in single file. Taliban fighters have buried IEDs throughout the city to kill U.S. forces on patrol. The military says the remaining civilian population left the city in 2007. It is now a battleground between Taliban fighters and Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NOW ZAD, AFGHANISTAN – APRIL 02: U.S. Marine Sgt. Jasen Wrubel drags his foot while patroling with his squad on April 2, 2009 in Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Marines follow behind a land mine sweeper while on patrol, dragging their feet to create a safe path for other Marines to follow safely in single file. Taliban fighters have buried IEDs throughout the city to kill U.S. forces on patrol. The military says the remaining civilian population left the city in 2007. It is now a battleground between Taliban fighters and Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

I’ve written a couple of times sort of semi-defending my fellow actual patient care providers of the VA, so I thought I’d share my reaction to Secretary McDonald’s statement.

It made my left hand hurt.

I few years ago I was in a FOB in Nowzad in Helmand Province Afghanistan.  We had had a rough 48 hours after two EOD Sgt’s were killed trying to disarm an IED. I went out with the Marines to recover the bodies and was caught in an ambush for an hour before we could break free. We spent another day trying to recover as much of the body parts as we could.

At the end of the second day I was going through their recovered gear trying to separate all the remains before we turned the gear in. I found a palm sized piece of skull in one of the plate carriers and had to walk across the FOB back to medical hiding it in my hand. Several Marines came up to talk to me and I remember almost cutting my hand as I involuntarily squeezed the bone. All week I’ve been imagining walking up to Secretary McDonald and handing him the bone, saying “Here, you put this in the body bag.”

I don’t know why. I have 6 deployments worth of other memories, but that’s the one I’ve been having.

I don’t want to shut down the VA, I just want to see the Ruling Class experience the same pain and loss that we’ve had. I doubt it would change anything though.

The image I attached was taken by a Wall Street Journal photographer from the last month of our deployment. He wrote about Marines wearing out the soles of their right boots dragging them behind them on patrol. He thought it was to mark a path to walk in through the IED fields. That’s close but he didn’t understand. It’s easy enough to walk in the footprints in front of you. They were dragging their feet to try to deliberately detonate any IED’s the engineer in front with the metal detector missed, so they would die instead of their brothers. That’s what loyalty and love really is.

That’s why I took the VA job when I left the Navy, because I can never repay the debt of that kind of loyalty. Some days I hate the VA as much as any other Veteran, but what else can I do?

(Ed. again: Steve’s previous comments are here and here, and this comment was placed here. Please read his comments for an insider’s view of the VA and compare that to its current notoriety in the press — including in this blog).

FireClean is Not Crisco

VIDEO Snakes Revenge As Severed Head Bites And Kills Chef

It slices the sssnake, it putss the piecessss in the juicer, it makesss the lotion, it putss the lotion on the gun….

Nope, it’s Snake Oil. As a bunch of stories at Vuurwapen Blog and TFB demonstrated, spectrographic analysis of FireClean is consistent with it being nothing but rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, and/or chemically similar oils. Some people called it Crisco. But Crisco is a very pure, food-grade rapeseed oil; you can fry your morning hash browns in it, and they’ll taste delicious. Neither we nor the FDA recommend doing that with FireClean, and neither do the makers of FireClean. Your cardiologist would probably be equally distressed to see you frying up with either, but hey, if we all ate right, how would cardiologists ever make their Bentley payments?

Naturally, the guys who were buying 55-gallon drums of this stuff ($800/metric ton) and selling it (and a bunch of hype) in tiny plastic plastic squirt bottles for weren’t happy to have their secret outed, and so they sued Andrew Tuohy, the writer who first broke the news that FireClean was predominantly vegetable, specifically rapeseed, oil. They also sued Everett Baker, a chemistry student who did some analysis of the suspect formula as a college project, and published his results.

Apparently, showing the world the spectrum of FireClean is supposed to be like saying the name of God was to the Ancient Hebrews, as you can see in this clip from a Biblical documentary.

Yes, suing people for factually describing your product is certainly the way a corporation acts if its business model is based on developing advanced technology. It’s certainly not what a bunch of con artists would do when their con was exposed.

Or is it?

You can read the lawsuit — Andrew has posted it — and form your own opinion. (His lawyers’ memo in support of motion to dismiss is located here. If you donated to his legal defense fund you helped make that document, now donate again). We’re not lawyers, but what they’re demanding is, first, that Andrew and Everett be muzzled with respect to Crisco, er, FireClean. (Please Crisco, don’t sue us for comparing your fine cooking oil to the generic version marketed as a gun lube. No defamation of Crisco is intended).

Then, of course, they want money, because, well, for the same reason you might put cheap stuff in a bottle and sell it as expensive stuff: because they want money.

Meanwhile, of course, because the only justice that American courts are really concerned about is making sure that lawyers get paid, get paid off the top of the stack, and get paid handsomely, it’s going to cost Andrew and Everett a bunch of money to defend against this shakedown.

So there are two things you can do: never, ever, ever recommend, sell, or use FireClean, and throw a few bucks the defendants’ way.

Don’t feel bad for the brothers who run FireClean — when their product was challenged, rather that post science defending their product (there’s no scientific substance in their suit, just spectra of motor oils that are not like the vegetable oils at issue here), they went on legal attack-dog attack.

And there is this: we do not now, and we will not ever, use or recommend FireClean. (Even though Andrew! says it’s good gun lube).

Not only will they lose their SLAPP suit, they, and their product, deserve to be sent to market Coventry. We’re talking nuclear Streisand Effect in the megaton range.

Their major malfunction seems to be that even though their goop is, by its spectra, generic canola oil, it’s really a blend of three vegetable oils, so you can’t call it vegetable oil. They’re also really PO’d that people (not Andrew, who has been adamant about this) are calling it Crisco. And indeed, it might not deserve such a comparison, because it’s unfair to Crisco. The FireClean oils are somewhat like Crisco, except probably not food-grade; you can cook in Crisco, and it might not be safe in FireClean.

It gets better. If you read the suit, you find out their blend of three magic rapeseed oils ingredients.

The suit (available here) is simply full of conclusory assertions and outright falsehoods. Here’s just one:

53. The suggestion that FIREClean is not suitable for military use is false.

Here’s what the US Army’s graphic maintenance publication, PS Magazine (Issue. 735, February 2014, inside front cover) says about using snake oil lubricants like FireClean:

army_on_unauthorized_lubricants

Which tells you all you need to know about how suitable FireClean is for military use. The assertion that FireClean is suitable for military use is false, according to the US Freaking Army, who apparently were not consulted by FireClean’s ambulance-chasers. The military people in charge of lubricants Just Say No (to FireClean and to many other snake oil formulations).

PS elaborates:

[I]f you think you can improve on what the TM instructs you to do, then you’re asking for trouble. For example, using … a different lubricant than what the TM lists, can leave you … not being able to fire at all because your rifle jammed.
Also, just because something has an NSN doesn’t mean it’s OK to use.

That tells you that the attorneys who wrote line 53 there, Bemara J. DiMuro, Bureau of Prisons Nº (oops, Virginia State Bar Nº, but the mistake is understandable, given that both numbers say the same thing about a person’s character) 18784, and Stacey Rose Harris BOP VSB Nº 65887, aren’t shy about just making facts up and lying to advance their lawsuit.

Well, what do you expect? They’re lawyers, not people.

What to Do

  • Gun owners, do not buy FireClean.
  • If you bought it, return it and demand a refund. If they refuse a refund, complain to the BBB and your state Attorney General or other consumer authority. They want to play with lawyers, let them.
  • Range owners and stocking FFLs, stock other products instead. Return any FireClean to your distributor and demand a refund. After all, even if the company didn’t deserve the Market Death Penalty™ for this, it’s not like you’re going to be able to sell the stuff now.
  • Most of all, support Andrew’s legal defense. We donated, but it looks to us like fundraising has stalled out and he can use some more lettuce to feed his lawyers.

If they want to know why you’re returning it, tell them you thought it was Crisco. But now that you know this product with uncannily similar spectrum to Crisco rapeseed oil is not Crisco, you don’t want it; you want your money back. Because it’s not Crisco, right?

It’s snake oil.