Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

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

Domestic Jihad’s Tennessee History

The incredible exploding deal.

What do most of the world’s terrorists have in common? The FBI confesses complete and utter puzzlement.

Writer James Kitfield has a remarkable article in Politico (not least, remarkable because an unsparing look at jihad seldom appears in such a reflexively partisan and multiculturist outlet) that ties the most recent Sudden Jihad Syndrome shooting to a much earlier one (2009), and casts superficial blame on Tennessee, an easy layup for Politico’s Beltway, Acela Corridor, and wannabe audience. He also makes the unsupported allegation that the 2009 incident was the first, which would be news to Nidal Hasan on death row

But it also looks into how an ordinary American kid was cut out of his family and radicalized, turned against his own people and acculturated to the most extreme and febrile strain of the death cult of Mohammed.

It notes something that the US media, which always prefers the pre-Islamic names for American jihadi converts/reverts1, seems loath to recognize: Carlos Bledsoe really did become Abdulhakim Mujahid Mohammed. Mohammed was the guy who shot up a recruiting office before, on 1 Jun 2009, killing one and maiming one soldier (Privates William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula respectively).

The Partisan Political Police formerly known as FBI remained utterly flummoxed by Mohammed’s motivation (as they are by the latest case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome, Abdulazeez’s — “maybe it was a domestic?”), and political appointees in the Pentagon displayed their contempt for Long and Ezeagwula by denying the victims recognition that they suffered their mortal and serious wounds in a terrorist attack, and spitefully withholding the Purple Heart medal from Ezagwula and from Long’s next of kin until Congress forced their unwilling hands.

Yet long before the five U.S. service members were murdered this past week in Chattanooga, before the Boston Marathon bombers, the Fort Hood shooting or the rise of the Islamic State, it was another troubled teenager from [Tennessee] who embarked on a journey of jihad and ended in the first deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil after 9/11.

The road to jihad began here, where Highway 40 bisects the state Abraham Lincoln once called the “keystone of the southern arch”….

Somehow, in ways that a heartbroken Melvin Bledsoe even now doesn’t fully comprehend, his beloved son Carlos was transformed into a murderous jihadist, a hate-filled man who called himself Abulhakim Mujahid Mohammed.

Carlos, to a certain extent, was patient zero in the phenomenon of homegrown, lone-wolf terrorism, a scourge that struck the nation once again this past week, when another young man went on a shooting spree at a recruiting station in Tennessee. The parallels between the life stories of that alleged shooter, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, and Carlos Bledsoe’s are chilling and, perhaps, instructive.

via Tennessee Is the Capital of American Jihad – James Kitfield – POLITICO Magazine.

The whole thing is long, and quite good, so good it’s a puzzlement why Politico ever published it. (Maybe the editor just skimmed it, and saw Kitfield’s dishonest description of Mohammed’s SKS as an “assault rifle,” and tagged him as a political fellow-traveler?). So do Read The Whole Thing™.

And take care to keep your distance from, and your eyes and your gun muzzle on, American practitioners of the terror cult of Salafi/Wahhabi Mohammedanism.

Note

  1. The term “revert” is often used by extremist converts, and may be a flag for extremism of the Sunni variety (Salafi/Wahhabi/Deobandi — the distinctions matter not, they’re all hostile to civilization, militant and violent). It is based on the theological conceit that all men are born moslems, but some are misguided into other faiths until they “revert” to extremist, murderous Mohammedanism.

ATF Shadow-Bans 40mm Practice Ammunition

Well, that’s going to make conducting our planned M203 class hard impossible. The ATF, pushing the limits of what can be done with a stroke of the pen, is declaring previously approved illumination and training-practice rounds (the orange chalk marking rounds) to be “explosives”. They’re following this up with trips out to individuals to confiscate the ammunition for their approved, stamped Destructive Device 40mm launchers, unless the owner happens to have an explosives license and an ATF-approved bunker.

M992 IR round

Ammunition they have confirmed they are confiscating is M992 infrared illumination and the M781 training practice round (seen below on the range, as featured in a WeaponsMan.com story last year).

m203 Firing

The practice round has a plastic shell and contains a day-glow orange (and naturally degradable, environmentally friendly, even) chalk filling. It’s supposed to be a ballistic match for the HEDP round.

Here are some comments from an Arfcom thread on the subject. The original post:

Apparently the 40mm M992 IR flares are considered to be a explosive round. This is news to me. They got my name from the dealer I purchased them from, apparently they didn’t know either. Any one have any info on this. I’ve been googling it for a couple of hours now and can’t find anything.

He left his card on my front door. He said he was going to bring a copy of the explosives tech branch ruling.

The follow-up after the ATF visit, emphasis ours:

Ok so a update. The agent that showed up was an actual bomb tech. I surrendered the rounds under protest per the advice of a attorney. The bomb tech was a really cool guy. He agreed that it was pretty stupid and he hated to do it but he was being forced to help out with the case. He did also tell me that they had sent him out to take 40mm chalk rounds under the same case. I walked out to the truck with him and watched him place the rounds in the explosive magazine in his truck. When I told him I was surrendering the rounds under protest he looked at me and said “good I hope you can fight it and get them back because this whole situation is stupid.” I’m not sure if I will go to court over it or not. I’m not out enough money for it to be a big deal but it’s an issue that has me concerned. I know there are not enough people out there with registered DD M203’s for this case to ever become a big deal but it is really shitty that as far as I can tell all 40mm rounds are considered to be Low Explosives and can not be owned unless you have a explosive licence.

Note that the “explosives tech branch ruling” has not been furnished, although this letter is circulating. It was addressed to the original Arfcom poster’s dealer, the one that had sold him the rounds.

40mm M992 Confiscation Letter.pdf

And, a comment in the same Arfcom thread by a different user:

I just contacted my Senator and OMB concerning this. My Senator is very concerned and OMB’s response was interesting in that they say ATF is citing one section of law while ignoring others that define what makes a DD. OMB believes that ATF may be outside of the law on this and will be contacting my Senator tomorrow. After a nice discussion with an investigator there, it appears ATF is fudging the language of the applied section of code to make a determination to allow them to confiscate. The investigator with OMB believes that this may warrant action against FTB in BATFE. We shall see what happens if anything. But there is absolutely no doubt that BATFE is deliberately incorrectly interpreting the section of code and is pursuing illegal action.

Meanwhile, another user’s comments show that ATF’s capricious volte face on this ammo is having the desired chilling effect:

This is some terrible news. I just got my 40mm LMT launcher approved last month and have been looking forward to getting chalk rounds and illumination. I guess I will have to wait and see what happens next. Total bummer.

Our friends inside ATF say that the initiative was conceived and planned in the Chief Counsel’s Office. That way, managers have explained to the rank and file, they won’t have to answer questions to the public, press or Congress “because everything is under lawyer-client privilege.” They seemed to split on whether Acting Director Thomas Brandon initiated this policy or merely signed off on it. “It wasn’t his idea,” one told us flatly. “He’s not that bright. It came from the lawyers, or from DOJ through the lawyers.”

The Chief Counsel’s Office is in an unusual position in the ATF org chart, coequal on the chart (but more powerful in practice) than the Chief of Staff, and superior to the Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: N6CC

What’s that? It sounds like a ham callsign? And we think that’s what N6CC.com stands for, although the site breaks it out as Navy 6 Combat Coms. But what we were flagged to was the site author, Tim Sammons’s, stories of his service in the Navy on a forgotten class of small combatants, the Trumpy class PTF patrol boats. The boats were American-made licensed copies of the Norwegian Nasty class boats that were used by the maritime operations wing of SOG in the Vietnam War. Tim has great stories of the Trumpys he knew, PTF-17, -18, and -19, boats that resembled in style, construction and size the classic Elco PT boats of World War II.

cropped-PTF17-Wtrmrk1

The names? The source of Nasty is not clear; during their brief service in the US Navy they were known only by numbers. Trumpy is easier to figure out; the American boats were built to the Norwegian plan by now-defunct yacht builders John Trumpy & Sons.

 

They were powered by the bizarre and tremendous Napier Deltic diesels, strange engines with three crankshafts arranged triangularly, with cylinders in between, and two pistons in each cylinder — one coming in from each end, until they’d compressed the charge enough to fire. The Deltics were turbosupercharged, put out a staggering 3100 horsepower each (the boats had two) and could drive the wooden Trumpys to 45 knots, sea state permitting.

 

They were also armed with a small arsenal of 40mm, 20mm, .50 caliber guns and an 81mm mortar. Tim has a page specifically on armament — you guys might like that.

In Tim’s day, he patrolled the Great Lakes, but he has some interesting information about the Trumpys’ predecessors, the Nastys, in Vietnam, and the Trumpys’ ill-fated successors, the Osprey class (whose aluminum hulls were found to be too fragile for the mission).

If you want more info on the boats’ wartime adventures, see pftnasty.com and warboats.org where there are a lot of firsthand stories of these fast little combatants.

It isn’t just boats. Naturally, there’s a lot of cool commo gear on his website, including a clever hack that uses a VFO to stand in for a crystal in an AN/GRC-109 radio. (If you don’t know what that is, just crank this generator while Tim and I tune the antenna….). The hack will work with the OSS/Agency clandestine RS-1, too, which is a very close sibling of the 109.

Other cool stuff on Tim’s website include camouflaged or covert antennas and many other communications rigs, and annotated photos of the communications gear from the commo wing of the museum that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam made of the Presidential Palace of once-free Vietnam. Poor Thieu’s, or maybe by then it was Big Minh’s, situation map still is stuck to a wall in there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

At Cu Chi, he laid out $17 to fire 10 rounds out of an AK. The NVA fought capitalism before succumbing to it.

VietnamTSAK47-2-2048x1536

There’s also an interesting exploration of the wreck site of a rare B-17C (no B-17 that old survives intact).

When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Bison

Mr Bison says, "It takes a special kind of stupid to crowd me, and then turn your back on me."

Mr Bison says, “It takes a special kind of stupid to crowd me, and then turn your back on me.”

Buffalo demand respect. So what happens to today’s tee-ball narcissus generation? You know, the ones for whom life has been a constant featherbed of praise without challenge or accomplishment? The Unique and Special Snowflakes™? The sublime selfie squad who respect only their own image, graven or otherwise?

Yellowstone National Park officials are warning tourists to keep their distance after a bison flipped a woman into the air as she posed for a selfie with the massive beast.

The dangerous encounter was the fifth run-in between park-goers and buffalo this year.

Looks like she got buffaloed.

Park officials said the 43-year-old Mississippi woman turned her back on the animal to get a photo with it near the Fairy Falls trailhead just outside Old Faithful.

Someone nearby saw the woman and her daughter about 6 yards from the animal and warned they were too close just before it came at them.

They tried to run, but the bison caught the woman and tossed her with its head.

Does that make her The Bisonic Woman? And the sound when she hit, a bisonic boom?

The woman’s family drove her to a nearby clinic where she was treated for minor injuries.

“The (woman) said they knew they were doing something wrong but thought it was OK because other people were nearby,” park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. “People are getting way too close.”

They “were doing something wrong but they thought it was OK.” Great Googly Moogly, is there ever going to be a better marker for Unique and Special Snowflake™-hood?

In separate incidents earlier this year, bison gored a 68-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl and tossed an off-trail teenager and an Australian tourist into the air.

Well, bison are herd animals. It could just be one rogue bull, of course. Egged on by the cows: “Bill, do that thing you do with the flying tourist again, please!”

Five bison encounters resulting in injuries is unusual during a tourist season, Bartlett said.

“We typically have one or two per year,” she said.

via Bison injures woman posing for selfie at Yellowstone Park – NY Daily News.

It’s a good job they’re not sentient, or they’d know your great-great-great-Uncle Tony was the guy who whacked their great-great-great-grandfather Lemuel, just to eat his tongue. Sure, this year the score may be Buffalo 5, White Man 0, but the buff could keep this up for centuries and not even things up.

Why did the Viper Centerpunch the Cessna?

The NTSB and Air Force are investigating a 7 July midair between an F-16CM Viper and a Cessna 150. Two aboard the Cessna died, the fighter pilot was uninjured, both planes were destroyed.

The NTSB and Air Force are investigating a 7 July midair between an F-16CM Viper and a Cessna 150. Two aboard the Cessna died, the fighter pilot was uninjured, both planes were destroyed.

It seems clear that the father and son in the Cessna 150 didn’t suffer. The F-16CM was traveling at over 200 kts over South Carolina 7 July, when it flew through the center of the 1670 pound light plane (and its two occupants). The damaged jet continued briefly, but three minutes after the collision, the pilot ejected. Most of the jet landed in a single crater, where it exploded and burned itself out. The little Cessna and its pilots came fluttering down in pieces; some of the larger ones, like the plane’s 100-horsepower engine, never were found. The jet pilot was, thanks to dumb luck, completely uninjured, neither by the midair nor by the ejection. Any other roll of the die and this would have been a mishap with three fatalities.

As is usually the case with midair collisions, it was 11 AM on a clear day (there were scattered clouds, but they were over 1000 feet higher than the collision) with excellent visibility. As is often the case, both aircraft were clearly on radar. However, only one of them was flying under positive air traffic control, under instrument flight rules. That was the Air Force jet.

Both aircraft were on the screen and known to the controller at the time of impact, as the F-16 pilot practiced instrument approaches (these are flights down electronic beams or pathways that are used for landing in bad weather. Because they’re a perishable skill, pilots practice them routinely in good weather, as this man was doing). He was very busy; he was vectoring to start his third approach in a flight that began only 40 minutes prior, this time a TACAN approach — a military electronic beam of 1950s vintage, conceptually similar but technically different and more precise than the VORs used by civilians. Instrument flying, and especially setting up instrument approaches, demands that the pilot be head down in the cockpit to some degree (you can fight the F-16 through the HUD, but you can’t set up an approach that way. You have to set a bunch of knobs and dials inside the jet). When civilians and most multi-crew military pilots fly practice approaches, they usually have the second pilot looking out of the cockpit as a safety pilot. In a single-seat fighter, that’s not an option. The pilot began to look for the Cessna when the controller called it out to him. He didn’t see it.

The controller made several calls to the F-16 as it became clear that the jet was on a collision course with the light plane. The pilot didn’t seem to react at first, and then, when told to turn immediately, he slowly began a wide sweeping turn that was too little, too late. The Cessna was not talking to approach control (and wasn’t required to); it did have a radar transponder squawking the Mode III code (1200) for an aircraft flying under visual flight rules.

Here’s a hasty transcript of the radio traffic, reconstructed from the NTSB preliminary. CHS is the Charleston approach controller; N3601V or 01V is the Cessna, not that it appears; we’ll use F16 for the jet’s callsign. The jet was heading about 215 degrees at about 200 knots, and the Cessna about 110 degrees at about 90 knots, so they were closing rapidly.

1100:18: CHS->F16, Traffic 12 o’clock, 2 miles, opposite direction, 1,200 indicated, type unknown.
1100:18: F16->CHS, Roger, looking for traffic.
1100:26: CHS->F16, Turn left heading 180 if you don’t have that traffic in sight.
1100:26: F16->CHS, Confirm two miles?
1100:32: CHS->F16, If you don’t have that traffic in sight turn left heading 180 immediately.
1100:49 (last radar return received from Cessna)
1100:52: CHS->F16, Traffic passing below you 1,400 feet.
1101:19: F16 (transmitting blind), Mayday!
1103:17 (last radar return from F-16, indicating 300 feet, near crash site).

The NTSB preliminary does contradict itself. It says, after the 1100:32 call demanding a turn from the F-16:

Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly.

However, it also indicates that:

At 1100:49, the radar target of the F-16 was located 1/2 nautical mile northeast of the Cessna, at an indicated altitude of 1,500 feet, and was on an approximate track of 215 degrees.

As we noted above, 215 degrees was the jet’s heading before the commanded turn; yet it was still tracking 215 on impact, it says here. However, after the collision the F16 was observed (on radar) to track “generally southerly”.

One thing that’s very clear from this is how quickly this situation developed and went thoroughly pear-shaped. When the controller says “immediate” or “immediately,” that’s a word that gets every pilot’s attention; they only use it when time matters. And from the first traffic call to the “immediately” call was about 14 seconds. Another 17 or so seconds after that, all opportunity to avoid the crash had been lost, two men were dead and one was about to take to the silk. A little more than a half minute elapsed from the controller’s first expression of concern to the collision. A little over three minutes had passed since the Cessna lifted off its runway and was immediately picked up by the ATC radar.

NTSB will have a final transcript with the final report, months from now.

Speculation Follows

The next couple of paragraphs are speculation about a possible contributing factor in this mishap. Speculation based on early reports, while it is the bread and butter of CNN, is often unwise in aviation mishaps, because early reporting is almost always as wrong as reporters can get. But nonetheless, we’ll go ahead and speculate. Therefore, to control the depth of speculation, the only source that we have used is the preliminary report from NTSB. –Ed.

When the radar images merged and the radar image of the shredded Cessna disappeared, the planes were reporting different altitudes. The transponder of the fighter said it was at 1500 feet (albeit descending); the transponder of the Cessna showed it at 1400 feet (and climbing), seconds before the collision. Because air pressure varies from time to time and place to place, a pilot uses a knob and a dial called a Kollsman window (after its 1930s inventor) to adjust the barometric pressure. A standard day’s pressure is considered to be 29.92 inches of mercury at sea level; locally, there was high pressure (that good sunny weather!) and the setting then and there should have been 31.15.

If the pilot of the jet mistakenly set his altimeter to 31.05, his altimeter would have read 1500 feet when he was actually at 1400 (or, if the pilot of the Cessna had set his to 31.25, he’d have been 100 feet higher than his reported altitude). We’re not sure that the F-16 transponder uses the pilot’s Kollsman setting like the civilian one does. We are fairly confident that if the two planes were correctly reporting that they were both at the same altitude, the controllers would have had much more of a sense of urgency (and automatic features of the system would have flagged their attention) much earlier.

What the Investigation Can and Will Determine

The investigators may be able to tell how the altimeters were set in both planes. On the Cessna, it’s a physical knob and dial, and should preserve its last setting if it was not physically destroyed in the impact. That may have happened. Here’s what the investigators found of the wreckage:

The wreckage of the Cessna was recovered in the vicinity of its last observed radar target, over the west branch of the Cooper River. Components from both airplanes were spread over an area to the north and west of that point, extending for approximately 1,200 feet. The largest portions of the Cessna’s airframe included a relatively intact portion of the fuselage aft of the main landing gear, and the separate left and right wings, all of which were within 500 feet northwest of the airplane’s final radar-observed position. Portions of the cabin interior, instrument panel, fuel system, and engine firewall were found distributed throughout the site. The engine, propeller, and nose landing gear assembly were not recovered. The lower aft engine cowling of the F-16 was also recovered in the immediate vicinity of the Cessna’s aft fuselage, while the F-16’s engine augmenter was recovered about 1,500 feet southwest. Small pieces of the F-16’s airframe were also distributed throughout the accident site.

Just to give you an idea how thoroughly even the F-16 was parted out inflight, here is the “engine augmenter” referenced above:

midair engine augmenter

Yeah, it landed on a trailer/RV park.

On the Viper, the altimeter setting should be retained in the data recorders, which were recovered in good order from the pilot’s ejection seat and the wreckage of the airplane.

The investigators were last seen dragging the river for missing parts of aircraft and people.

The investigators are likely to recommend that the Board note, among any other findings, that there are inherent limitations to the “see and avoid” principle, but, ultimately, the crew of the two aircraft failed to see and avoid one another.

The USMC Goes to the M4 for Infantry Marines

Somewhere, a cynical Devil Dog is saying that this is just to take a pound off so that maybe a female Marine can pass IOC one of these days. But the Marines are finally joining the Army in preferring the M4 to theM16 for infantry units.

M4_standard_accessories_delivered

According to Military Times and a range of Marines that they interviewed, the momentum has been building for this change for some time. Supposedly, the decision paper is on Commandant Joseph Dunford’s desk for his approval, which is expected. Military Times:

With the endorsement of several major commands already supporting the switch — including Marine Corps Combat Development Command; Combat Development and Integration; Plans, Policies and Operations; Marine Corps Systems Command; and Installations and Logistics — final word is possible in weeks or months.

“The proposal to replace the M16A4 with the M4 within infantry battalions is currently under consideration at Headquarters Marine Corps,” according to a jointly written response from the commands provided by Maj. Anton Semelroth, a Marine spokesman in Quantico, Virginia.

The change would be welcomed by infantrymen who say the M16A4 was too long and unwieldy for close-quarters battle in Iraq or vehicle-borne operations in Afghanistan. They tout the M4 for its weight savings, improved mobility and collapsible butt stock, allowing the rifle to be tailored for smaller Marines or those wearing body armor.

“I would have to say my gut reaction is it’s the right choice and will do a lot of good for the guys in the infantry,” said Sgt. Nathan West, an explosive ordnance technician with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, who carried an M4 on dismounted patrols and vehicle-borne operations during two deployments to Afghanistan as an anti-tank missileman.

We’ll have a couple more pull quotes, but (especially if you are a Marine) go Read The Whole Thing™.

Many other Marines have observed that the drawbacks of the longer M16A4 aren’t compensated for by the limited benefits of the longer barrel. For example, when using modern optics, the 5.5″ longer sight radius, a great accuracy advantage of the A4’s extra barrel length, is irrelevant.

No fight illustrated the need for a smaller primary weapon during ferocious close-quarters combat better than Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004, when Marines fought to wrest control of Fallujah from Iraqi insurgents, sometimes going hand-to-hand.

Rounding corners and getting on target in small rooms was difficult, leading to use of a tactic called “short-stocking,” when a Marine places his rifle stock over his shoulder – instead of securely against the chest and cants his weapon45-degrees so he can still use his optics. It helps in maneuvering, but compromises recoil management and follow-up shots.

“We were taught to short stock around tight corners when we got to our platoon for deployment — it was something unofficial,” said Ryan Innis, a former scout sniper with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, who left the service as a sergeant in 2013 after serving on the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s anti-piracy raid force near East Africa.

Innis trained for shipboard operations — the closest of close-quarters combat — and said he was fortunate to be issued the M4 because the weapon’s shorter length proved better for tight spaces.

When the weapon’s not quite right, the man adapts. It’s very unlikely that the doomed insurgents who stood against the Marines’ assault on Fallujah in 2004 noticed that the Marines were employing their firearms sub-optimally

It’s instructive to remember the history of CT and hostage rescue units here. Originally (1970s-80s) these elements cleared buildings and linear targets (like an airplane, train car or bus) strictly with handguns. The 1980s found these units experimenting with compact submachine guns (like the MP5) that could combine superior accuracy at close pistol ranges with handiness nearly as good as the pistol. And after Grenada, the pistol-caliber weapon’s lack of range and versatility put it into eclipse, relative to the compact rifle-caliber carbine.

The question that remained was, could the carbine, evolved from the very limited XM177 / CAR-15 series “submachine gun,” really replace the full-length assault rifle? It was optics that moved the answer of that question from “no” to “yes.”

The Marines like the accuracy of their M4s.

[Sgt. West:] “Anything that takes weight off and keeps guys from getting tired so they are more aware of things around them is good. It is just a little less weight and just as effective of a weapon.”

That is what the Marine Corps found when it began testing the ballistics of its infantry rifles and carbines using their improved M318 Mod 0 Special Operations Science and Technology round.

“The Marine Corps conducted an evaluation of its individual weapons (M4, M27 and M16A4), with specific focus on comparing accuracy, shift of impact and trajectory with improved ammunition, and determined the M4’s overall performance compares favorably with that of the M27 IAR, the most accurate weapon in the squad,” according to the written responses provided by [Marine spox Maj. Anton] Semelroth.

The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle is, you will remember, an HK 416 variant with a free-floated barrel and a tuned trigger. The Marines will also get rid of the select M16A4s being used as designated marksman weapons under the term Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle, by assigning the designated marksman role, optionally, to the auto rifle gunner already carrying an M27 for the squad auto rifle role.

Going to the M4 for infantrymen takes a pound of weight and 10″ of overall length off of every Marine grunt. The M4s will come from Marine stocks without any need for new purchases (all Marines may be riflemen, but only 17,000 are Riflemen by MOS and job assignment), and the M16A4s will be available to be assigned to other Marine troops.

The Times also got comments from Larry Vickers, who should need no introduction. Vickers is strongly supportive of this new intitiative.

Two things we can predict about Marine riflemen: someday soon, the saltier ones will be reminiscing about the “good ol’ M16A4″ to their New Guys. And none of them is going to miss “short-stocking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Skeletals in the Closet – Shooting Sportsman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have IKEA

Beware, beware, the wardrobe of doom.

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

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

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

27,000,000,000 to 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You Have to Go Out…”

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

wrecked fishing boat

The USCG shot video of the rescue.

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

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

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

And he did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only then did he stop swimming.

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

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

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

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

Jamie K from Jake LEachs Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Arms Do’s and Don’ts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

  1. Valsange, P.S.  International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA), Vol. 2. Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2012. P. 514 (section 1.1.3). (Note particularly the application of Zimmerli’s data that renders torsional endurance limits for all intents and purposes a constant in steel springs). Retrieved from: http://www.ijera.com/papers/Vol2_issue6/BY26513522.pdf
  2. Ibid., p. 514 (section 1.1.5).