Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

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

Sunday Slackin’

This is a Sunday for doing the most routine things around the Manor, like replacing the kitchen faucet (wait, aren’t we supposed to have people for that sort of thing?), blowing the leaves and mowing them up, and that sort of thing. So we took our sweet time putting up the Sunday nothing-much post. (And didn’t even look at a few overdue Saturday posts we have).

This may be our last unseasonably warm weekend of the year, and the bicycle sings out its desire to be ridden, and the dog needs a walk, and looking at glowing rectangles seems like an awful use of the day. So we won’t.

They come here searchin’ for:

"The game is afoot, Watson!"

“The game is afoot, Watson!”

According to the new stats plug-in (Rich Counter remaining dead as a mackerel) we’ve been serached out by various users of Google and Bing (alas, nobody from Baidu yet… where’s our Chinese gun bros?) using a variety of search terms. Some of them make more sense than others:

  • 1944 m1 carbine – We’ve written ’bout these from time to time, but we don’t think we’d be the most informative target of that search.
  • tactical shelf plans – We’ve shown pictures of such things and links to their makers, but no plans. Sorry ’bout that.
  • arfcom bolt carrier group –  Is there such a thing? And it’s better than a GI BCG exactly how?
  • PSP GLOCK 45 — (caps his). Yeah, we’ve probably had more detail on the Pennsylvania State Police’s hard-luck pistol program than anybody. For example, here and here. That is, it’s hard luck if you believe in luck. We think people make their own luck, mostly. Incidentaly, they’re still hunting Eric Frein, and he’s still on the loose, but we have a feeling it’s in the end stages for Frein.
  • yarborough knife history —  We don’t think we’ve written this up, but probably should, now that it’s been around for a few years the legends are already growing. On the other hand, we’re old enough to have received our SF certificate from the hand of Yarborough his ownself, which is kind of cool. A lot of classmates didn’t realize just how cool it was.
  • gunsmith classes – frequent subject of discussion here. Hope we hooked the guy up.
  • weapons man – now, there’s the search engine doing like it’s s’posed to! This one comes up a lot.
  • NRA Life Membership Deal – we offered up one of these years ago, and are not sure it’s still valid. We’ll check.
  • 5.56 documenting reality – There is a site called Documenting Reality that has linked here in the past — not sure why, as it’s basically a war-gore site, a descendant of a site called nowthatsfuckedup.com which was shuttered in 2006 because the first amendment apparently doesn’t apply in Florida. (Now that’s … you know what). Anyway, it’s a membership site so we don’t know exactly what’s up over there.
  • young naked – [Gunny voice] Some perv wound up on the wrong blog. [/Gunny]  But it turns out we have several blog posts that include the words “young” and “naked,” including one about a perv busted by cops (wait, he was a cop too: a chief of police, actually), one about a busted cop who was a perv, and one with the text of a well-known Great War poem, by a poet who was arguably a little light in the loafers. NTTAWWT; he was a success as an infantry officer and as a poet, at least so long as his poetry dwelt on the war. His postwar poetry was rather pale, although he had a pair of decent prose romans à clef.
  • no limits hairy armpits — We don’t think this is the blog that cat is looking for, either.
  • eaten by dogs idema — yeah, we knew Keith Idema, and that’s one of the rumors about his death. (Also, that he died of AIDS in Mexico. That is, in fact, what his death certificate says). We wrote it up here, and were deluged with quasi-literate Idema fans. He was the most greatest special opstitute ever, they explained. Sure.  We don’t believe he was actually eaten by dogs, we believe the US Department of State made some arrangements or other for his remains.

The Randall Knife

Singer-Songwriter Guy Clark with “The Randall Knife.”

It’s a kind of talking blues/folk/country thing, sentimental if not schmaltzy; not entirely to our taste, but the subject matter redeems it. You know there was a Randall knife in Clark’s house. You know he  knows the feel of the Randall in his hand.

You know his father was, by God, a man.

 

A man can make up a song, but he couldn’t make up this song out of whole cloth.

The Randall wasn’t an SF knife, before Vietnam. Since then, it has been, and both Randall Made Knives and Special Forces have benefited by the partnership. Sure, there’s now the Yarborough knife for SF grads (old-timers who are SF-Q’d can get them, too, although it’s a hair more complicated because your bona fides has to be checked).

It was just one of those things, like a Seiko or Rolex watch. Like owning a car that would go unreasonably fast, and getting a reputation for going unreasonably fast in it.  Like having access to a veritable petting zoo of the world’s most famous firearms, and still buying your own to plug real or imagined “training gaps.”

What TrackingPoint Must Do to Sell to SOF

Tracking Point ProductsWe think the guys running TrackingPoint know what they have to do. In fact, we think they’re already doing these things. But here’s what, from our point of view, is missing from the current iteration of TrackingPoint hardware and software for real penetration into the upper tier SOF market.

So, Who Do You Hit First?

SF Recruiting Poster pick it upIf we were their marketing consultants (we use our MBA, but not like that), we’d also press them to focus on sell-in to certain SOF elements that are image leaders in the international SOF community. Sell, for example, to SAS, and you will have Peru, the UAE, the Netherlands, and many other nations very interested in your product line (Indeed, sell to SAS or to their US counterparts, and you’ll get sale after sale, worldwide). It’s important, also, not to over-discount the stuff to your lead customers: confidentiality agreements are fine and good, but they probably can’t keep, say, American shooters from telling the foreign shooters they’re training with or competing against, what a good deal you gave ‘em.

Another possible launch customer is FBI HRT. As their history of reckless shots and whacked non-targets shows, they could use the marksmanship boost. Meanwhile, despite their record, they’re very influential on local police procurement. Tag/track/release technology is just the ticket for police marksmen who never get enough time for training, and yet have to make more consequential and more constrained shots than a lot of military snipers. (A military sniper, outside of some rarefied CT or HR gigs, almost always has the option to no-shoot. FBI or police sniper, scope-on a crim threatening a hostage, might lack that luxury).

Who Don’t You Hit?

While the Marine Scout Snipers could use the hell out of this thing, it’s too foreign to Marine marksmanship culture, which is a master-and-apprentice culture that demands effort, even hardship, and eschews automation or corner-cutting of any kind. So we’d put these excellent Marine precision marksmen way down the list, right now. We’ve worked with enough 8541s to know that they like to do things the hard way, and they take particular joy in doing it the hard way faster than an Army guy can do it the easy way, and take a positively indecent glee in breaking the dogface’s easy-way technology. Bringing this to the Marines first means that they will use their considerable intellect and energy to break your machine and send you away with a duffel bag of expensive pieces (so they’re great for finding unimagined points of failure — there is that). Bringing it to them after selling it to the Army is not a panacea. It might be even harder, because they will be energized to demonstrate that the Army did Something Stupid, because if Marines believe three things about the Army it’s that: we have too much money, too little guts, and way too little brains.

You’ll probably need a Marine sniper on board to sell to Marine snipers. Once you do, you won’t get quite the global reach that you do by selling to SAS or its American counterparts. But you get in with the world’s greatest military image machine, and there is that. 

You have to be very careful about selling in to Hollywood. (One TrackingPoint precision guided rifle is already in the hands of the most successful firm that supplies movie and TV weapons and armorers). The reason is that an inept display of your product can hurt sales. (It would be very Hollywood to put the TrackingPoint system in the hands of a villain, to be overcome by someone like a Marine sniper or James Bond willing to use superior skill and old school firearms).

What’s Missing From 1st-Gen Tracking Point

While the extant system has undeniable SOF applications, it also has limits, and some technical improvements — none of which are impossible or require TrackingPoint engineers to schedule an invention — would increase its marketability in military precision riflery circles.

Emission Control / Encryption / ECCM

It’s great that you have a computer in a scope, and it’s the wave of the future. But the computer can be located by enemy SIGINT. The video and wifi links need strong encryption, and in addition they need to be controllable so that emissions can be closed down. Even third world enemies often use electronic support measures these days, and so you need some RF low-observability measures, and you also need to have electronic counter countermeasures to ensure usability of the system in an electronic environment.

Two-way communications

This one engenders some risk, but there should be a capability for the opetator to hand off control of the PGM’s optoelectronic systems to someone’s telepresence from a support station. Or even from another field station.

Intelligence gathering MASINT capability

There is everything in this weapons system that’s needed, for instance, to remotely measure a prison camp or a suspected SS-20 missile TEL. This capability would also tie in beautifully with the improved communications and encryption capabilities mentioned above.

A Ballistic Development Interface, SDK or App

Now that we have that in-scope computer, fully integrated with the hardware of the firearm, we need to have a way to make it more adaptable to different ammunition loadings, including one-time, single-mission loads. And that has to be done at the unit level; otherwise you’ve got a potential breach of compartmentation.

tracking_point_trad_mode

This is a sales stopper with top tier units. They develop their own long range capabilities, including, at times, loads, and they do it because they think they, like benchrest shooters, can handload a more consistent, higher-precision round than even premium ammo suppliers can do.

Demonstrated, Documented Durability

The running joke is that a soldier or marine can break a ball from a ball-bearing — just leave him alone in a room with it, and you’re a half hour from looking at a broken ball, and hearing, “Uh, I dunno, sarge. It just broke!” (Bearing-ball, hell, these guys could do that with a wrecking ball). You want your machine to be wrecking-ball strong.

Demonstrated “Fail Safe” mode.

The capability of the system has to degrade gracefully. If you’re sneakin and peekin’ on Day 38 of a “14-day mission,” dead batteries can’t leave you in shoot-randomly mode (let alone, can’t-shoot mode). Even an ACOG, which is probably harder to break than the gun it’s atop, has cast-in backup sights. But with a TrackingPoint gun’s scope being dependent on a CCD display at the shooter end, you can’t afford to have dead batteries.

Full Auto Stabilization Mode

We can’t be the only ones who looked at this and thought, “tag, track & x-act really could up the game of a door gunner and/or Boat Guy.” Hell, those Chenoweth sandrails might come back from the dead, if the gunners in them could actually hit things instead of just contribute morale-raising decibels to a fight. Imagine this Hollywood concoction, except real, and with the boost in hit probability than TrackingPoint promises.

You know you want one (more on the movie gun soon).

Note that these are just for the military employment of tracking point, as combat weapons technology. We haven’t even addressed the utility of tracking point for big game hunting, which is what the thing was developed for in the first place. Its applications for everything from African plains game to heliborne predator control seem self-evident. We haven’t even hinted at the potential for a rimfire TrackingPoint squirrel slaughter system, something that would sell itself once the price comes down.

As we all know, the guys running TrackingPoint are not stupid. They are probably thinking of most if not all of these things already. If not, hey, our rates are reasonable; drop us a line.

Shotgun Stolen: Situation Strange

A Luciano Bosis 'Michelangelo' 12-bore shotgun (not the stolen gun, every Bosis is unique). From the Bosis website.

Look at that case color! A Luciano Bosis ‘Michelangelo’ 12-bore shotgun (not the stolen gun, every Bosis is unique). From the Bosis website. Click to embiggen. 

This one is just damned difficult to figure out. Let’s just leap into the lede from the Burlington (VT) Times-Argus:

A man arrested this week in Boston is expected to be arraigned next week on a charge that he stole a shotgun valued at $89,000 from the Covey and Nye store on Main Street last month.

David Goldberg, 58, is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Bennington criminal court on a felony count of grand larceny, State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said Friday.

A police affidavit in the case was written before Goldberg was arrested. It is unclear whether the shotgun was recovered.

Now, the case is going to get weirder, but even in Ben and Jerrystan, casual shoplifters don’t usually make off with long guns valued at more than half the average house in Bennington. Also, one hates to stereotype, but when was the last time your city had a shoplifter or other small-time crook named “Goldberg”? It’s just one more oddity around this case. Then, there’s the way the case was broken:

The shotgun that had been at the Manchester store was made by Luciano Bosis, an Italian artisan who specializes in high-end guns often used for bird hunting or clay target shooting.

Police said media coverage of the theft and tips that came from people who had seen the coverage led them to Goldberg.

Officer Abigail Zimmer of the Manchester Police Department said in an affidavit the theft was reported Sept. 18.

After conversations with several employees, Zimmer said, she believed two men had come into the store Sept. 17 with a large Great Dane dog and left driving a black Ford Focus. One employee said the men were acting strangely.

Zimmer sent out a news release Sept. 18 and by the next day got a tip from a woman who said she recognized the description of the men because of the dog and the vehicle.

Cowboy the Great Dane -- his unwitting participation in the shotgun heist was the theives' undoing.

Cowboy the Great Dane — his unwitting participation in the shotgun heist was the theives’ undoing.

The dog turned out to belong to a guy named David Paul, who has a brother named Peter Paul — a twin brother.  (That’s two identical twins sharing three first names, without a last name between ‘em. We told you it was going to get weirder).

But criminals never commit just one crime, and this two-boys-and-their-dog crime wave also hit a store that had a video camera:

Another tip came from an employee of a Bradford store. The employee called Zimmer on Sept. 19 to say two men matching the description from the website and driving a black Ford had been at the Bradford store Sept. 16.

The employee said he believed one or both of the men had stolen a pair of shoes worth $145.

Store surveillance photos showed the men and Zimmer said one showed a Great Dane.

The Great Dane, Cowboy, turned out to be featured extensively online, and the dog led to his master, David Paul — and one of the guys on the surveillance footage was either David or his twin brother. With enough information to think that one of the Paul twins and their yet-unidentified friend were up to no good, Officer Zimmer went to the logical place where she might find the stolen shotgun and shoes:

Police executed a search warrant at the Randolph home of Peter Paul, where his brother David Paul was staying, on Sept. 25. Zimmer said the shotgun was not recovered but police were able to interview David Paul.

No word on the shoes. The only open question: did David Paul throw his brother or Goldberg under the bus? Well, what’s that saying about “honor among thieves?”

Zimmer said David Paul told them he and Goldberg had been at the store Sept. 17 but denied any direct knowledge of the theft.

“(David Paul) stated that Goldberg’s behavior in the gun shop and immediately after made him think that Goldberg had stolen something,” Zimmer said.

“David Paul stated that he was very angry with Goldberg if he had indeed stolen the shotgun.”

Translation, he was very angry that he was at risk of getting caught. Seriously, you go into a store with someone and don’t notice that he shoplifts a shotgun? 

Criminal Mastermind Professor Moriarty these guys are not. What kind of genius takes, not just a dog, but a Great Freakin’ Dane on a pilfering patrol? And where’s the shotgun? Well, the trail led ever onward:

A neighbor in Randolph said he had taken Goldberg to catch a bus in New Hampshire around that time and said Goldberg had a bag “which appeared to have a tennis racket inside it.”

We don’t know if the gun was recovered or not. With the sort of genius Goldberg seems to be, he probably fenced the $90k shotgun for $20 to some crack head, and it will turn up sawzalled into a zip gun on some felon’s cooling body after a drive-by. But even if the story were to end where it is today, we think it’s the weirdest stolen-gun story of the year. Industrial-strength weird.

Hat tip, Jeff Soyer, who adds in the comments on his site:

[T]he funniest part of this incident doesn’t appear in the article, but did in the initial report of the theft last month (which is behind a paywall): Police had a description of the car, AND the license plate number. They asked the public to come forward with any information they might have… Because the license plate number wasn’t enough?

Eh. Crime in New England is a little… different. Wait till about four months of snow shoveling have got everybody’s nerves frayed.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have dirt bikes

Nathan Davan, from his MySpace account. If we love freedom, we love his freedom, too.

Nathan Davan, from his MySpace account. If we love freedom, we love his freedom, too.

We keep hearing that firearms accidents are preventible by the simple expedient of banning firearms. Of course, we hear this from people who are predisposed to ban firearms: Illegal Mayors Against Guns, Moms Demand Action, Americans for Responsible Solutions (like banning guns), and the leftover groups like the Brady Center, formerly Handgun Control Incorporated, formerly (and more honestly) the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.

You know, other recreational technology can produce tragic accidents too. Here’s a young man who’s very seriously injured pursuing his sport of choice. Should we ban dirt bikes?

“There are a lot of hills in that area, and it appears the rider didn’t quite make the jump over one of them, and suffered severe trauma when the bike landed,” Croteau said.

According to a news release from New Hampshire Fish and Game, Nathan Davan, 23, of Hudson came up short while attempting a jump in the pit. He and his bike traveled an estimated 75 feet in the air before hitting the top of the jump, causing him to lose control. The dirt bike itself traveled a total of 148 feet before coming to rest.

Croteau said drugs and alcohol do not appear to be factors. Davan was wearing a helmet and goggles.

via Hudson rider misses jump, crashes bike | New Hampshire Public Safety.

Ban? We say, “No.” A free society lets a man ride a dirt bike. It lets him join a church that handles rattlesnakes. It lets him buy dangerous machinery and do whatever pleases him with it, as long as it hurts no one else. It lets him sign on to a Mount McKinley climb in the certain knowledge that many climbers as good, as strong, as bold as he remain on the mountain for eternity. It lets him build an airplane in his garage and take it into the sky. It lets him do a lot of things that we ourselves might not want to do, but that we as individuals and as a society wouldn’t dream of taking from him.

Freedom is for everybody, not only for those who agree with us. That’s why a free society can tolerate a Mike Bloomberg or Shannon Watts, who would ban this guy’s bike along with large sugary sodas and the most common and useful firearms.

Of course, firearms are in a different class, in some ways: unlike a root beer float or a Kawasaki 250, they’re practically useful for defense of life and property. But if you love freedom, you love young Nathan Davan’s freedom to fly his motorcycle just as much as you love your freedom to protect yourself against the predators of the forest and of the city. Or you ought to.

Here’s hoping for a speedy and complete recovery, so he can go back to enjoying freedom in his own fashion.

Empties back in pocket in gunfight? Urban Legend?

Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965.

Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965.

This is one of those stories that will never die, because every instructor (us, too, they said sheepishly) has found it useful as a way to hammer home the importance of training as you will fight. (We’ll quibble with some parts of that on another day: for instance, nobody should do 100% of range fires with hemmet and bodammoor, and any military unit that requires that is commanded by Simple Jack). Here’s the story, as recounted by one of our mo’ entertaining commenters:

But at a certain point, too much bad practice will get you killed.
There were always field reports of cops back in the day trained to shoot on square ranges, found dead after a gunfight as they were trying to put their ejected brass in their pockets, just like the penny-pinching departments had drilled into them at the range year after year.

It’s such a great story, that everybody who doesn’t know where it came from thinks it’s an urban legend. Massad Ayoob thought it came from cop talk about the Newhall Incident (multiple CHP killed in the 1970s). In this link Caleb mentions self-promoting assclown Dave Grossman, who is an Old Faithful of bad information, and Caleb, being a smart guy, discounts Grossman’s typically unsourced bullshit. Then, though, he paraphrases Mas citing Bill Jordan as a possible source of what he calls “anecdotal evidence from 2nd and 3rd hand parties”.

In his Handgunner article, Ayoob mentions that former Border Patrol officer Bill Jordan wrote in the 1960s of officers finding spent brass in their pockets after a gunfight with no recollection of picking it up. Unfortunately, that information is anecdotal at best, and as we’ve seen with the Newhall incident, anecdotal evidence from 2nd and 3rd hand parties isn’t reliable.

Apparently Caleb hasn’t checked the reference, which is easy enough to do. Jordan does indeed include the story in his book, No Second Place Winner, but it’s not, as Caleb seems to think, an apocryphal story. Jordan names a name and refers to a single, specific incident. So for Urban Legend hunters everywhere, here’s your chance to bag that trophy. I give you, Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965. We have added some paragraph breaks to introduce some desperately needed white space:

A question often asked of themselves by young officers is, “How will I comport myself in the face of fire? Will I stand up or will I break?” On the surface this would appear to be a question which can be answered only if it becomes an actuality. As a matter of fact the answer can be given with very little chance of error. Almost invariably a man, provided he does not have too much time to think, will automatically do what he has been trained to do. Again provided that his training has been thorough and intensive.

An example in support of this statement comes to my mind: A few years back a Border Patrol team became involved in a discussion with some contrabandistas in which they were considerably embarrassed by one of the smugglers holed up in some brush about 200 yards away. His presence unduly complicated the proceedings in that he was armed with a .30-30 rifle with which he was enthusiastically underscoring points in the argument made by the main group of his compatriots. The Border Patrolmen were armed only with .38 Special revolvers which put them at somewhat of a disadvantage under the circumstances. However, two of the three men applied themselves to the task of routing the nearby enemy while the senior officer, Sam McKone, took up the question of the rifleman in the brush.

They tell of a western epitaph which reads, “Here lies Tom Jones. Committed suicide by betting his pistol against a rifle at 200 yards.” This could be a normal result of such a contest, but Sam McKone is not one of the Jones boys. Among his other marksmanship awards is a gold medal declaring him to be a Distinguished Pistol Shot.

Additionally, being shot at was not a matter to distress Sam unduly, since it was not exactly a novel occurrence in his life. To make a long story short, by applying a little Kentucky windage and an educated trigger squeeze, Sam scored three hits which made the rifle shooter lose all interest in the fate of his companions and start thinking solely of his own welfare, here and hereafter.

What has all this to do with the statement that a man will do unconsciously as he was trained, provided the training was thorough and extensive? Well, after the fight someone noted that McKone’s pocket was bulging and politely inquired as to what might be spoiling the drape of his trousers. Puzzled, Sam thrust in an exploring hand. The pocket was full of fired cases. During the fight, without realizing he was doing so, McKone, an old reloader, had saved every empty!

And there you have it — the probable ur-instance of the story of the guy who saved his brass in a gunfight. And no, he didn’t wind up dead. Jordan’s book was a huge success for a shooting book, and generations of shooters have read it, and, as you can see by the excerpt, it’s entertaining to read. A lot of his ideas on revolvers and leather have fallen obsolete in the last 50 years, but a great deal of good info is in there, and it’s one of the classic books of pistol shooting.

You can find it online here, and download it in .epub (iBooks), .mobi (Kindle), or scanned, OCR’d .pdf file and a handful of other formats. The scan is of the 1977 printing of the 1965 original. It’s a very worthwhile book, even back in the seventies when we bought it for the first time.

Incidentally, in the Massad Ayoob article referenced by Caleb in the quote above, he references a “forthcoming book” on the Newhall murders by Mike Wood, which did indeed come forth, in 2013. The book is called Newhall Shooting – A Tactical Analysis: Survival Lessons from One of Law Enforcement’s Deadliest Shootings, and despite the cringe-inducing “tactical” in the title, it’s a fantastic book — and germane to this discussion.

On pages 56 and 57 of that book there is an extensive footnote about the facts of Officer Pence’s brass (which he ejected onto the ground, it was not in his pocket) and some informed speculation about how the brass-in-pocket story got started: at the same time as many Newhall-driven changes in training, CHP also changed training to eject empties onto the ground, not to save them. Here’s a tiny excerpt of a very long footnote:

In the wake of Newhall, the CHP made an intensive study of training practices and made many corrections to ensure that bad habits that would jeopardize officer safety on the street were not taught during training. One of these corrections was a requirement to eject brass onto the ground during training and to clean it up later, rather than eject it neatly into the hand and drop it into a can or a bucket, as has been the practice before. It is believed that instructors and cadets of the era may have mistakenly believed that this change in policy was due to a specific error made by Officer Pence during the fight. The myth began, and it was innocently perpetuated throughout generations of officers in the CHP and allied agencies.

Wood’s book, like Jordan’s, is outstanding, but we can’t give you a link to a free one — you’ll have to buy it like we did.

New from TrackingPoint

TrackingPoint has refreshed its AR lineup in three calibers (5.56, 7.62, and .300 Win Mag) and also offers three things calculated to increase the appeal of their precision-guided firearms: lower prices, financing, and a virtual reality glass device, the Shotglass.

If you ever wanted to break the last taboo and enjoy a shotglass while shooting, now’s your chance. This one doesn’t hold a precise measure of amber nectar brewed by Scotsmen, though:

shotglass

The Shotglass can be used to aim and fire the weapon from complete concealment cover. It can record video. It’s most likely use in the real world, though, is as a way for the spotter to direct the sniper on target. We expect we will see more of these used with TrackingPoint’s long-range bolt action rifles than with its ARs, but time will tell. If you buy a TrackingPoint PGF by 30 November 2014, the Shotglass is free; after that, it’s an additional $1k. We’ll probably discuss it in greater depth when TP puts up their Shotglass video; for now, we can’t imagine anyone who wants or has the gun turning the Shotglass down.

The lower prices are relative — they’re still nosebleed-high, just not arterial-nosebleed-high any more. For example, the 5.56 AR is $7,495.

tp_ar-newest-use-me_1

For that, Tracking Point offers:

  • Perfect impact on targets out to 0.3 miles, moving as fast as 10 miles per hour.
  • The same Tag-and-Shoot™ technology found in fighter jets
  • Advanced target tracking technology
  • Comprehensive, purpose-built shooting system.

We’ve discussed the TrackingPoint technology before, but the implementation in the ARs differs from that in the bolt guns. First place, you don’t need the guided-firearm voodoo to just shoot. The optic comes up with a crosshair reticle with mil-dots and a red dot at center. Different TP releases have called this “Standard” or “Traditional” mode. Note that the interface does give you range in this mode, but not wind speed or direction.

tracking_point_trad_mode

Next up is “Freefire” mode, which is present, so far as we know, only in the gas guns, not the bolt guns. In this mode, you range something near a group of targets, and the scope adapts to that range and to the atmospherics (note that the wind speed is displayed in this mode). The reticle cues you that the Freefire Mode has been selected, and it eliminates the mildots. Those are not necessary in this mode, because your point of aim is computer adjusted to equal your point of impact. In “Freefire” mode, the Guided Trigger is not activated: the trigger works like any AR trigger.

tracking_point_freefire_mode

In Advanced mode, the reticle changes yet again. In this case, it takes several shapes depending on whether and where the Tag has been applied. In advanced mode, the tag is applied with the red button, and then the reticle changes color and shape. The illustration below shows a tag applied to the running coyote. The blue reticle indicates that the shooter is not ready to take the shot: he is not holding the trigger back. When he holds the trigger to the rear, the color changes to red, and the weapon will fire when it is in proper alignment. At any point, the shooter can safe the gun by releasing the trigger.

tracking_point_advanced_mode

Advanced mode does something that was considered impossible for centuries: it removes most sources of human error from marksmanship. This is the sort of thing that becomes possible, when you embed a complete Linux computer in a rifle optic, and tie it in to the physical rifle several different ways.

You’ve probably noticed that TrackingPoint expresses distances in decimal tenths of a mile, rather than the yards or meters common in the shooting world, which suggests that they may see their customer base as coming from outside the present limits of the shooting world. (To which we say: welcome! While it’s cool to have a gun that can calculate all this, it’s incredibly empowering to have a head that can calculate all this, and yet, it is possible and available to you. So may your new TrackingPoint firearm be a gateway drug to a new plane of existence for you).

In any event, 0.3 mile is about 480 meters (which the US Army considers the effective range of the individual rifle platform) and 530 yards.

The guns each have a limited effective range which seems like it was programmed into the weapon as a maximum “lock range” (the system has an integrated rangefinder and environmental sensors). This may be intended to ensure that shooters have a positive experience with the precision-guided firearm, but it may also serve to ensure that the ARs don’t cannibalize the higher-end sniper and hunting rifles.

precision-guided-300-wm-semi-auto_0

The top of the AR line, the .300 Win Mag monster, offers the same claimed benefits as the 5.56 version, except that it offers “perfect impact on targets out to 0.5 miles, moving as fast as 20 miles per hour,” for a more-than-your-pickup-truck $18,995. (Our pickup, anyway: 4-banger, 2 wheel drive). (Half a mile is 800 meters or 880 yards). Unfortunately, now that somebody’s actually built an AR that’s perfectly sized as a bayonet handle, there’s no bayonet lug.

The 7.62 AR offers slightly less performance (0.5 mi, moving targets to 15 mph) for slightly less money: $14,995. If these prices seem high for ARs, well, they are, but no other ARs do these things, this well.

precision-guided-semi-auto-7.62-new

 

 

When TrackingPoint first announced the AR line this spring, there was a .300 Blackout version available. A prototype, using a Daniel Defense upper, was clearly visible in their first AR video, but the gun is not on their price list today. The TrackingPoint technology offers the potential to have a firearm that automatically corrects its zero for the Point of Impact shift common with suppressors; it can also, potentially, store several load profiles. (The ballistics-adapting capability of the weapon depends on it being fired consistently with a load whose performance parameters are known to the software).

The bolt-action rifles, which have not been updated, offer similar performance, actually, in similar calibers. Only the mighty .338 LM extends range to 0.75 miles (1200m — 1320 yards). The bolts are priced differently than their semi-auto kin, a little lower in 7.62 but the highest-price version of the .338 is near-as-dammit $28,000. With great power comes great liabilities, Spider-man. In addition to that, you might want to think hard about budgeting for the extended warranty and the software maintenance contract — software maintenance alone is a stiff $2k/year.

The electricity to drive all this juju comes from batteries in compartments in the stock or the AR and in integral battery compartments in the optics of the bolt guns.

TrackingPoint’s managers are keenly aware that the prices of these guns are an obstacle to sales, and so they have a financing program with decent terms: 10% down, 36 months, 10% interest. (They don’t say how it’s compounded or what the APR is). There’s also a 30-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee, “You can feel completely confident that TrackingPoint stands behind its products.”

We’re not sure it’s really, in their words, “the most incredible shooting system known to mankind.” But we are sure want one of these pretty badly. Just not $18-30k badly. Yet.

For $2k you can spend the day at TrackingPoint in Pflugerville, Texas, meet the staff, see the plant and fire the gun. If nothing else, you’d learn how to pronounce, “Pflugerville,” and maybe even who Pfluger was.

Breaking: Pol’s Kid Got a Navy Deal You Couldn’t, Blows it.

Er... yeah, in this post, that logo's sarcasm.

Er… yeah, in this post, that logo’s sarcasm.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of Joe Biden’s sons has come to the end of a rather brief Navy career, a piece of information the Navy and Blair House have been sitting on for most of a year. Hunter Biden was selected for a Navy  commission after a nationwide search, despite needing not one but two waivers, one of them for drug abuse.

How did his career end? Write this down: “The best guide to future behavior is past behavior.” Young Hunter was holystoned right off the decks, out the scuttles and overboard after a day-glo piss test. True, the ads used to say, “Things go better with Coke.”

But that was Coke a capital C, dumb-ass. Not Bolivian marching powder.

Hunter Biden, who is currently a lawyer for some former Soviet mafioso/plutocrat or other, wanted the Navy commission to burnish his resume for a future political campaign. Both of Biden’s sons (and his daughter) have naked political ambitions; both of them inherited their dad’s rather limited intellect, but they got “celebrity admissions” to top colleges. Biden’s other son, Beau, also served (after a nationwide search) in a zero-risk, resumé-polishing military job, as an Army lawyer. (That’s about the same thing as enemy forces; spending your time grilling firefight survivors to see if you can send one to Leavenworth).

Beau is the brighter of the two, which isn’t saying much, but at least he wasn’t doing lines the night before checking in to a new unit and being handed a plastic cup with his social security number on it.

WASHINGTON—Vice President Joe Biden ’s son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve this year after testing positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the matter.

Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training who is now a managing partner at an investment company, had been commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve, a part-time position. But after failing a drug test last year, his brief military career ended.

Mr. Biden, 44 years old, decided to pursue military service relatively late, beginning the direct-commission process to become a public-affairs officer in the Navy Reserve in 2012. Because of his age—43 when he was to be commissioned—he needed a waiver to join the Navy. He received a second Navy waiver because of a drug-related incident when he was a young man, according to people familiar with the matter. Military officials say such drug waivers aren’t uncommon.

Mr. Biden was commissioned as an ensign on May 7, 2013, and assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element East in Norfolk, Va., a reserve unit, according to the Navy.

Well, easy come, easy go, kid. Anyway, that was last year, so he had a bit of a career, didn’t he? Eh, maybe not:

In June 2013, after reporting to his unit in Norfolk, he was given a drug test, which turned up positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the situation.

So he peed hot reporting in to his first assignment. That’s stupid even by drug-user standards.

Wait, though: that was over a year ago. Did it take the Navy this long to outprocess this dopehead nepotism case and release the information?

Well, no on the “this long to outprocess” question:

Mr. Biden was discharged in February, the Navy said.

via Biden’s Son Hunter Discharged From Navy Reserve After Failing Cocaine Test – WSJ – WSJ.

And no on the “release the information.” Turns out, the Navy didn’t release the information, treating it with more security than communications intercepts or submarine patrol areas. Until the Journal had it, and the jig was up.

Well, maybe the Navy can be excused for not making a press release. They were shorthanded one public affairs ensign, after all.

Some Insights into Drone Warfare

mq9 and JDAMsDeskbound managers, who have replaced leaders in most military operations these days, are extremely enthusiastic about drones. Combat leaders are somewhat less so, leading us to this:

Drones will not be late to briefings, start fights at happy hour, destroy Officers Clubs, attempt to seduce others’ dates, purchase huge watches, insult other military services, sing “O’Leary’s Balls,” dance on tables, yell “Show us your tits!” or do all of the other things that we know wins wars!

This quote is attributed to one “Ace” Jewell, CDR USN, Ret. about whom the source email says,  “Now about 88, Fighter Pilot in 3 wars and LSO extraordinaire.”

Those things he mentions do win wars. Do we need to explain why?