Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

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

Put a HRT on ‘em — 1985 style

This video, found on Soldier Systems Daily, is a 1985 briefing on the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. The HRT was riding high at the time, coordinating closely with military special operations forces assigned the hostage rescue mission (overseas; FBI had authority stateside), and years from its appalling 1990s performances that included a sniper team getting (deservedly) indicted for homicide and saved only by a legal maneuver that introduced a technicality preventing prosecution.

The video starts with some action video of live-fire training in tire houses, and then goes into individual section briefings on equipment, arms, snipers, etc.

As you can see from the video, their TTPs are really dated now, but at least in terms of HR assault this was the heat in the Reagan years. (So were the mustaches).

Unlike their military counterparts, the FBI HRT members are all very well compensated, sworn Special Agents, college graduates who must have already been selected into FBI and succeeded in training as SA’s before applying to HRT.

A significant minority of them were at the time military veterans, mostly former officers, and that’s probably even more true today. (The guy with the Randall on his belt is one who’s at least seen some ARSOF cross-pollination).

They’re obviously pretty tactically hopeless in the woods. This is one thing that hasn’t changed.

A wise old friend who had served his country as a combat soldier and as an intelligence officer once explained the mindset difference to us: “Soldiers suck as spies. Spies suck as soldiers.” He would illustrate this with many pungent examples from Army and CIA history, most of them unclassified now. But the whole thing extends into a nine-square matrix when you factor in cops (and the FBI are simply glorified cops), who suck at soldiering and spying. (Despite the fact that more FBI guys are doing spook stuff than chasing Mann Act violators these days).

And soldiers and spies? They suck at being cops, and we can quote further examples….

Scablands Sunday

OK, we’re actually in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the glittery end of the Atlantic Coast, but we just discovered the word “scablands,” which so aptly describes the areas where much of a long military career was whiled away, and we could not resist using it. Sure, there are scablands inland of us, but we’re in kind of anti-scablands. But there is no foul in unleashing one’s inner child sometimes.

Especially when one’s outer adult is up against unpleasant circumstances. The basic issue here is that a very good pair of parents, a blessing we’re keenly aware is far from universal, are at the stage of life where every day seems to bring a new hardship, a new limitation, and perhaps worst of all, a new indignity.

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of those guys who comes out of nowhere (well, not nowhere so much as a small cluster of eight private institutions of learning in the Northeast, who promise their graduates a sort of droit du seigneur over the serfs1), seems to think that a certain age is old enough, especially for the proles, and they ought to just be prepared to check out, optimally before Age 75. (Emanuel’s ideas are subtle and complex, often expressed in parables or thought experiments containing dilemmas requiring a physician or the public to balance or rank antagonistic and competing kinds of “good”. His ideas have been exaggerated by both supporters and opponents).

Life is harder for some people than for others, and it’s harder in some stages of life. There is no equality in suffering, no direct equivalency in consequences. Personal decisions (smoking is the classic example) can have consequences so deferred as to be intangible, and some may dodge the bullet entirely, which may be why people keep playing this chump’s lottery. But there’s no escape for the emphysema sufferer, even if there are treatments and medical devices available today that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Yet, today’s elderly grew up in an era where a doctor might advise a person to take up smoking. Far from the vilified criminal-class marker of today, it was thought to be a milepost to adulthood and a badge of sophistication.

One wonders what modern thing, that we now know and love, will turn out to be such a Judas as a simple cigarette was to the generations before us.

For the elderly, everything is an enemy. Your own physiology is no exception. Your lungs may fail, your skin break out in knobbly cancers, your kidneys give out after a lifetime of high blood pressure. Senses dim and fog. The earth itself turns on you; gravity becomes a deadly enemy for brittle bones. These things may not happen in isolation: you may indeed experience all of them. Life becomes a dreary routine of doctor visits and dialysis; medications and side effects; pain and effort.

And yet… and yet. And yet, joy springs from the light of the sun, the call of a nocturnal frog on the lawn (loud enough to penetrate the most elderly ocular system), the laugh of a child, a turn of phrase in a book.

As long as joy lights up a person’s world, even if there is only one part joy to ten parts suffering, who are we to do aught but support that person? As long as the thready beat of life exists, our parents are not helpless.

They have us.

May God be merciful with them.



  1. True, they can’t take the jus primae noctis (which doesn’t seem to have actually existed as a law anywhere; it seems to be an ancient version of an urban legend, given new life by revolutionaries looking to damn old systems; but we digress). Instead they just screw you metaphorically, all day every day.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have first dates

Have you ever had a bad date? Look at the bright side: it wasn’t as bad as this one.

When your number’s up, it’s up. Or to put it another way, anything you do can get you killed. Literally anything. Stacia Glenn at the Tacoma (WA) News-Herald:

Pierce County sheriff’s detectives on Monday were trying to sort out the details of a first date that ended early Sunday with a Gig Harbor man dead and his date hospitalized in critical condition.

Investigators believe the 47-year-old Port Orchard woman ran over her date, then crashed his truck 15 feet down a Lakebay embankment.

Because of her medical condition, she had not been interviewed, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Hang on. Wait till you see what “her medical condition” is.

The Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead man as Leon Shaw, 53. The News Tribune is not naming the woman because she has not been charged with a crime.

Shaw and his date, who hadn’t known each other more than a few hours, allegedly drank quite a bit Saturday night before visiting the home of one of Shaw’s friends.

While at the house in the 600 block of Cornwall Road, Key Peninsula North, the couple continued drinking.

The woman asked the friend, who was a tattoo artist, to tattoo her chest.

She and the tattoo artist became intimate while she was getting the tattoo, prompting an argument between her and Shaw, Troyer said. The woman allegedly punched Shaw; he reportedly slapped her.

The woman, wearing only a T-shirt, then fled from the house and started up Shaw’s truck, Troyer said. Shaw ran outside to see what his date was doing.

Moments later, Shaw’s friend came outside and found him dead in the driveway, Troyer said.

The woman crashed Shaw’s truck about one-quarter mile away from the home, Troyer said. She was trapped inside the vehicle when first responders arrived.

via Detectives: Gig Harbor man fatally run over by his date | Crime | The News Tribune.

We just don’t know what to say about this, except to note the unsurprising presence of Judgment Juice. And the miraculous presence of a dead guy, despite nobody having a firearm. Unpossible!

Rhodesian Spitfire Documentary

For many years after World War II, the aircraft of the war were just, “old.” In the heady Jet Age, wartime transports still had economical utility, but the combat types were quickly left behind. They were relegated to duties as instructional airframes for novice mechanics (“learn riveting on this, it’ll never fly again so you can’t screw it up”) or stuck up on plinths as gate guards, showcasing the raw roots of the world’s newest military forces. And those were the survivors: the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of warplanes built for the war ended as scrap metal in the greedy furnaces of postwar industrial recovery. The combat life of a warplane might have been 25 to 100 hours during the war, and perhaps two years from variant introduction to obsolescence; but after the war, the pace of research and development didn’t let up, and the frontline jets of 1946 were outclassed by time of the Berlin Airlift of 1949.


This devastated the world supply of WWII combat types, and entire types became extinct. Even those most historic, most pleasant to fly, most likely to wind up as a rich man’s toy, were endangered species.

In the 1970s, this began to change, as a new appreciation for the old types led to recoveries and restorations. Now, there are more Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs flying than there were ten years ago, or ten years before that, or ten years before that. Even “extinct” types like the Mitsubishi A6M2 “Type 0″ carrier fighter, and the Me 262 jet, have returned to the air. This is amazing, because while the Mustang, at least, was an industrial product whose documents are widely available, some of the others, especially the British and Japanese types, were more like machines that were “hand built in quantity,” and no two are quite the same. (The engineers of Packard Motor Car Corporation traveled to England’s Rolls-Royce plant to pick up a technical data package for the Merlin aircraft engine and see how the engines were built. They were appalled, and realized that they’d have to redesign the engine for modern industrial processes, which they then did very rapidly and so successfully that some marks of Spit were adapted to the American versions of Merlin engines).

One of the guys who was part of that early wave of Spitfire appreciation was John McVicar “Jack” Malloch, a former Spitfire pilot turned aviation entrepreneur in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which declared independence as a republic in 1965. Soon after independence, the UN placed sanctions on the Rhodesian government, and Malloch became an imaginative and effective blockade runner and sanctions buster. (He’d already had experience of clandestine aviation during the Biafra War).

And he renewed his love affair with the Spitfire. He and his team of mechanics restored Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk22 PK350, which had last flown 26 years prior. The restoration took 2 1/2 years, and saw Malloch’s initials “JMM” used as the plane’s buzz codes. When Malloch took the first flight, in March 1980, he had done high-speed taxi testing of PK 350 and had flown lots of other aircraft for thousands of hours, including some pretty hairy combat aviation (outflying MiGs in four-motored transports at treetop level, among other things). But he hadn’t flown a Spitfire in 20 years himself.

This video was produced by former Rhodesians in the Zimbabwe Air Force in 1982, after the death of Malloch in a mishap in this very Spitfire. In fact, quite a few of the long scenes of him dodging into and out of clouds in the Spit were filmed on his fatal flight on 26 March 1982. As near as anyone can tell, he entered a thunderstorm which either disoriented him or so upset the aircraft that he could not recover. He was killed instantly in a high-speed impact with the ground.  Nothing of PK350 was salvageable. To date, it remains the only fully evolved late (Griffon-powered, bubble-canopy) Spitfire to be restored to flight.

Not long after the video was made, Zimbabwean president-for-ever Robert Mugabe executed the first of several purges of the air force. Over the years since, it went from a force of unquestioned competence and doubtful loyalty to Mugabe’s person, to a force of laughable incompetence but unquestionable loyalty to the dictator. Rhodesia produced men like Jack Malloch; Zimbabwe never will.

30 Degrees South Publishing in SA says they’re working on a book about Malloch and PK350. We didn’t find the book on their website but we haven’t looked everywhere (it’s a confusing website).

Know your What-stop?

speeding bulletBullets, you know, have a life of their own. The life begins when the firing pin crushes the primer case and some of the impact-sensitive primer mixture against the primer anvil, and it ends when the spent bullet comes to rest.

In between, the bullet can get up to all kinds of mischief, like this one did. It’s almost like the seemingly-enchanted bullet in The Hole Book that we wrote about recently — through or past the target, through the window, off a refriger magnet, off a microwave oven… on and on and on, with, miraculously, no human casualties. South Carolina news station says:

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office says a woman heard gunshots at her home on Murph Road in Pauline when the bullet broke the pane of glass around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The incident report states the .30 caliber bullet broke the glass, struck a magnetic clip under a cabinet in the kitchen and dented housing on a microwave oven. The bullet then dropped onto the toaster and bounced into a burner on the stove.

The homeowner believed the target shooting was happening on Walnut Grove Pauline Road.

The SCSO deputy states he went to a home on that street and found out a man’s son was target shooting with an AK-47 at an empty propane tank in the back yard. The man didn’t says he realize his bullet went to the neighbor’s house behind him.

via AK-47 Target Practice Bullet Hits Neighbor’s Home In Pauline –

So, where did this Wile E Coyote Certified Genius™ think the bullet was going to go? There’s a reason everybody learns to consider his backstop, and what may be downrange beyond it: because it’s best safety practice. And there’s a reason that some people don’t do that: because some people are functionally brain-dead, even as they walk among us.

Fortunately, no one was injured, and, speaking well of the restraint of the Spartanburg County deputies, the shooter wasn’t shot, pistol-whipped, tased, or even charged, but we’d bet he got a good enough talking-to that he isn’t going to do that again.

Nossir, his next dumb stunt will be completely different. Well, that’s why we have deputies, to take those calls. Well done, SCSO, and best of luck next time. ‘Cause there will be a next time.

Some Rhodesian Recommendations

Rhodesia FlagThe following recommendations were slipped under the transom by a friend of the blog last night. We’re finally getting around to posting them. The first two are free PDFs, and we’ve taken a quick look at them. The third is a review of a book published by the South African publishing house that has been most prolific on Rhodesian memoirs.

“Rhodesia: Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat” (Marine Corps Command and Staff College)

We’re not terribly thrilled with this one so far, in part because the authors seem to have excepted a lot of conventional wisdom and conducted research mostly in secondary sources. It comes off a poor second to the Rhodesian African Rifles paper (from the War College) that we’ve recently featured in this blog. It does have a lot of the back story, but even there it’s dodgy (we do not know who the early, presumably Bantu, groups were that drove the Bushmen out; nor do we know that those groups were the same as the later builders of the Great Zimbabwe ruins. And to compare the GZ ruins to the construction of the Indian civilizations of Central and South America is to slander those lost races. The Zimbabwe carvings are cruder;  their builders did not know the art of building with interlocking stones, and they did not carve messages in a written language.

“The Rhodesian Insurgency: A Failure of Regional Politics” (US Army War College)

This brief paper makes the weakly supported argument that the war’s outcome was dictated by South Africa’s inter-African foreign policy. It’s a colorable argument but we’d need to see more diplomatic cables and South African player memoirs to give it credence.

“Winds of Destruction” (Peter Petter-Bowyes)

Petter-Bowyes was a Rhodesian Air Force officer during the entire UDI period. He has some unique insights and viewpoints. We’ve ordered the book.

Some Other Rhodesian War Books

These are some of the hard copy books in the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library. Links are to LibraryThing.

Bax, Timothy. 2013. THREE SIPS OF GIN: Dominating the Battlespace with Rhodesia’s famed Selous Scouts. Has a few stories in it that are not in Reid-Daly’s book. But get R-D’s if you’re only going to get one.

Baxter, Peter. 2011. SELOUS SCOUTS: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists (Africa@War). More of a photo book.

Croucamp, Denis. 2007. The Bush War In Rhodesia: The Extraordinary Combat Memoir of a Rhodesian Reconnaissance Specialist. A quite incredible memoir.

Nesbit, Roy Conyers. 1999. Britain’s Rebel Air Force: The War from the Air in Rhodesia 1965-1980.

Pringle, Ian. 2013. DINGO FIRESTORM: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War.

Reid-Daly, Lt.Col. Ron, as told to Peter Stiff. 1982. SELOUS SCOUTS – Top Secret War. Very good retelling of the Scouts’ unconventional COIN approach and concepts such as “pseudo terr groups,” by the Regiment’s founder and commander.

Smith, Ian Douglas. 1977. The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith. Our copy is signed by Smith, but this memoir at the center of everything from UDI to the end of Rhodesia as a nation is a vital viewpoint missing from many students’ Rhodesian studies.

Wood, JRT. 2011. Counter-Strike from the Sky, Second Edition: The Rhodesian All-Arms Fireforce in the War in the Bush 1974-1980.

Wood, JRT. 2011. OPERATION DINGO: Rhodesian Raid on Chimoio and Tembue’ 1977 (Africa@War)

There are more, but that’s what a crude search kicks up. We also have a lot of ephemera like leaflets and posters.

…and one more download link.

This Rhodesian site has further books, including downloads.

Bubba the Gunsmith proves 1911s are destructible after all

First, it’s an ATI to start with, and we’re unaware of anything made by ATI that’s liable to be mistaken for professional military armament quality. But if you had asked us, “Can you make an ATI pistol worse by giving it to Bubba for a style job,” we’d have had to admit that, although we could not imagine how, that if we’ve learnt one thing in this racket it’s this: do not wager against Bubba’s strange marque of insalubrious inspiration.  In fact, we wonder if it’s a Bubba attempt to convert one of ATI’s pot-metal .22s to a .45, with dire but not-yet-catastrophic consequences. Now on GunBroker:


ATI Bubba Gun

Here’s a 1911 that some amateur had a little too much fun with. We do not have the time or technical know-how to get this weapon working properly. Here is a description of the problem: Upon loading and firing the weapon, the cartridge casing is ejected. However, a new round fails to feed and the slide remains in the rearward position until manually moved forward. This is sold AS IS/For Parts and no returns will be made available.

via ATI 1911 .45 ACP gunsmith special – $199!! 45ACP : Semi Auto Pistols at

Great Googly Moogly, that thing was chased through the Ugly Forest and didn’t miss a tree. It’s really hard on the eyes, like that girl with all the piercings is going to be when she’s 40. Check out the harmonic convergence of household pliers and barrel bushing:

ATI Bubba Barrel Bushing


Yes, that bushing does look like something in the nose end of the slide does not fit quite right. We’d guess the failure to return to battery is a combination of really bad fit between frame and slide, resulting from “drop in and hammer to fit” soi-disant gunsmithing, and an anemic recoil spring, maybe one from ATI’s .22 roots.

This is one zombie that’s probably better off staying dead. But I bet the bubbas on GB bid it up over $300. If that happens, we’ll get a bag of ATIs and mass produce these things.

  1. Buy a pallet of lousy guns.
  2. Make them even worse.
  3. ?? Find fools?
  4. Profit!!!

We came across this example whilst enjoying our latest timewaster, the discovery that GunBroker can be searched for the grim keywords “Gunsmith Special.” We were actually looking for a project, but found them to be few and far between. However, the comic value is sufficient reward for time spent browsing the link. (We have it sorted by price, top down, and haven’t even got into the Gunsmith Special equivalent of penny stocks yet).


Road Trip Report

road-trip-signIt was an interesting road trip. Averaged ~38 mpg at 79 mph on cruise control. Stuck to the highway (mission, mission, mission) but got to see some interesting people — and guns — along the way.

Got to visit an old friend, whose happy family lives in nondescript midatlantic surburbia, in a small Cape above a basement with more gun safes than some of our readers have guns. 

Finally got to meet cartoonist Chris Muir (his strip is at face to face. Chris is an entertaining guy in person, as you might expect. Unlike many entertainers (except perhaps editorial cartoonists, which he once was) he does not bank strips in advance; he hits it fresh every day to keep it topical. Like us, he’s become more politicized over the last few years, and doesn’t like that feeling much.

Both friends had reason for pessimism about the nation and the world. We gave each, and now we give you, our Internet friends, the following Exercise for the Reader which may recover some of your innate optimism. Remember that optimism and pessimism is as good a division of humans, better perhaps, than liberal vs. conservative, right-brained vs. left-brained, or even really serious ones like Yankees vs. Red Sox (wait, isn’t that BOS vs NYC: “liberals vs. liberals”?)

Didn’t fall asleep in the car, except when it was safely parked, so people can use the car again. All LEO encounters were highly positive. The weather was beastly — lots of rain. It’s nice in FL.

Obligatory Gun Content

I got a good look and a little paws on, on a rare HK sporting rifle, an HK SLB 2000 in .30-06. The SLB stands for Selbstladebüchse, “self-loading rifle,” using the word for “rifle” that generally carries the connotation of “sporting rifle.” (In German, “Buchse” is for shooting Bambi, and “Gewehr” is for shooting Frenchmen or Russians). Some time we hope to go over it in more detail, because it’s like nothing the company ever built — or anyone else, for that matter. It was a rare gun that we had no idea of. How many others like that are there?

Back to the rambling…

Not everything is going so swimmingly. Tax extension is running out, no more procrastination, let’s get it in so we can get our due audit.

Naturally, plowing through a rainstorm in Virginia, the phone rings. Herself has somehow slain the wi-fi at home. Can a weapons man fix it by telephonic advice?

Hey, it’s a radio, we’re only crosstrained in commo, and all radios are FM. Can’t knock sense into it by brainwave. You were expecting Uri Geller?

This is three for three on WiFi ghosting when the laird of the Manor was over the horizon on a trip. Couldn’t fix it from those places, either.

Posting may be desultory for a while. We will try to make it not so, but…

Some days you eat the bear…

Angrybear…Some days, the bear eats you. That’s the calamity that befell Rutgers University student Darsh Patel, who fled from the bear and also discovered the velocity implications of one of Orwell’s famous sayings: “Four legs good, two legs baaaaad.”

This was the first documented fatal bear attack in New Jersey since sometime in the 19th Century.  Somehow we suspect that Patel would have happily foregone the distinction. And the bear’s jubilation was short-lived, as authorities interrupted its meal, permanently. (When seconds counted, armed law enforcement was hours away from doing poor Patel any good).

To make matters worse, this kid who was just out hiking gets lumped in with another Rutgers student (it’s a giant state university, teeming with tens of thousands of students) who apparently drank himself to death.

Rutgers student Darsh Patel, 22, was the second university student to die tragically on Sunday. Rutgers University is offering grief counseling following the possible alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old university sophomore from South Brunswick.

Patel, a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in information technology and informatics, was killed in the bear attack Sunday while hiking with friends in a wooded area near West Milford.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said Patel’s death in the Apshawa Preserve is the first fatal bear attack recorded in New Jersey in 150 years.

“As we grieve over his tragic passing, please know that our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones and to all his friends and fellow students at Rutgers,” said Richard L. Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers-New Brunswick.

Five friends from Edison were hiking in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford Sunday when they came across a bear, the Associated Press reported. The friends ran in different directions and after regrouping, they noticed one of their friends was missing.

Patel’s body was found by a search team. Evidence suggested he had been attacked by a bear, AP reported.

A bear at the scene was euthanized. The investigation is still ongoing

via UPDATE: Bear Kills Rutgers University Student in West Milford Area – Police & Fire | Wayne, New Jersey Patch.

Enter the environment, enter the food chain. Your armament and state of preparedness determines where along the food chain you slot it.

Note also that Patel was not hiking alone. The (unarmed) kid was hiking with a bunch of (unarmed) friends. So he’s not-quite-living proof of the old saying, “You don’t have to outrun the bear, you only have to outrun your buddy.”

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have chains

Didn't Arethra have a song about this? But that would not be "Chain of Fools," rather "Chain of Fool's".

Didn’t Arethra have a song about this? But that would not be “Chain of Fools,” rather “Chain of Fool’s”.

Anti-gun activists argue that the widespread availability of guns leads to suicides. In New York City, where it is impossible to get a permit unless you’re a politician or an organized crime figure, a man managed to commit suicide without any firearm at all, in a creative but grisly fashion:

Authorities say the 51-year-old man, who is from upstate New York, tied a metal chain around his neck and secured it to a pole at about 9:20 a.m in Hunts Point.

He then got into his car and accelerated, causing his head to be torn off.

It gets worse. He then violated one of Mayor Bloomberg’s most-prized ordinances:

The man’s body was ejected from the car when he hit another parked vehicle, police told WPIX.

Why, he wasn’t wearing his safety belt! No word on whether NYPD cited the scofflaw corpse.