Category Archives: Weapons Education

Why This Guy is NOT Bubba

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

Bubbas Glock

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

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

Bubbas Glock 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bubbas Glock in-prog 2


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

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


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

Bubbas Glock 2

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

Bubbas Glock 3


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

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

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: ?

question markGotta confess, usually we have a good candidate, or three. But right now we’re drawing a blank for a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

So the “right” answer seems to be to punt it to all of you. On the theory that none of us is as bright as all of us1, what are some of you guys’ favorite gun-related websites that haven’t yet been a W4?

Do you know a forum, or maybe a manufacturer or collector site that’s first-rate?

To check to see whether your site of interest has been a W4 before, run the following search (which finds our fourth-ever W4, Forgotten Weapons), and substitute the name of, or a keyword for, the website you’re interested in, for the word “forgotten” in the search string:

We’re going to be on the road up the East Coast for the next couple of days, but we have most of the posts we need queued up. We may be a bit slow about answering comments (and deleting you-know-who’s) but will read them all when we have the opportunity.


  1. Of course, the corollary or inverse of that is that none of us is as dim as all of us, either. Which explains the madness of crowds.

AR-15 Speedloader, Home Made

The neat thing about this homemade loader, similar to the earliest bench Magloaders, is, well, that it’s homemade. Looks like it could be routed out relatively easily. The loader video has been ripped off by various non-linking aggregators (who do you assclowns think you are? or BuzzFeed?) so we note that you should have the option to “Open on YouTube” in our post of it.

The poster, Bryan Lilly, writes:

My uncle made this speed loader and it takes about 20 seconds to load a p-mag. Update: Due to overwhelming positive response, my uncle is considering options to bring the speed loader to market. Please be patient and I will keep you informed of any new developments.

The real plus with this one is the “dish” area for straightening out and lining up your rounds before sweeping them into the curved “load” area.

While this one appears to be routed, someone without a router could make something like this by using any precise saw and making it in laminated layers.

Here’s another version that lacks the “dish” aggregation area, but it has something else that’s pretty neat.

Did you see the neat thing? You did not, because it’s the build videos. That’s pretty neat! This one is built with a bandsaw, and building it up in layers.

Video 1 (Build it by eyeball — about 30 minutes):

Video 2: Build it using templates you can buy from Larry at

Note that Larry’s templates only work with 30 round GI/STANAG magazines, not with pMags or any other non-standard mag.

There are a number of other DIY mag loaders out there, but these should open your mind to what is possible.

FN Teases New Civilian Versions of Military Weapons

This press release was so tempting that we had to double check — was it really dated April 10, not April 1? Turns out, it is (well, some versions are dated April 9).

(McLean, VA – April 9, 2015) FNH USA is excited to announce that three new products, including a brand-new product line, will be making their first appearance on the FNH USA Booth #2324 at the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings in Nashville, TN. Expected to be released in the Fall of 2015 are the mil-spec FN M249S™, a semi-automatic version of the U.S. Military’s M249 SAW light machine gun and two new additions to the company’s modern sporting rifle line, the FN 15™ M4 and M16 Military Collector Series.

Are they serious?


Serious as a heart attack.

Holy schnikeys, a semi-auto Minimi from none other than FN? True, we’d rather have the full-auto one (personal aside to William Hughes: may your soul’s torment in Hades never cease), but given the laws we’ve got, we’ll take it. The bad news is that, while they’re teasing the product now for a fall 2015 launch, they didn’t put a lot of prep into the website — it’s still all full of holes.

Machine Gunners Depend on Riflemen

And FN is also introducing two new “Military Collectors” versions of the M16 Rifle and M4 Carbine. These include DOD-like code labels on the magazine wells, unlike FN’s sporting AR-series guns which feature a very large FN logo on the mag well. As the press release puts it:


The FN 15™ Military Collector’s Series M4 and M16 bring to market military replica rifles made to FN’s exacting specifications. The semi-automatic rifles are chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO and feature M4 -profile 16 and 20-inch 1:7” RH, button broached and chrome-lined barrels, respectively. Each UID-labeled lower receiver is equipped with an ambidextrous selector switch, just like its select-fire big brother.

The web page for the Military Collectors carbines is better fleshed out than the M249S page.

Both of these product lines will find a niche market, and they’ll also help FN manage production when faced with the herky-jerky and unreliable nature of military orders. So it’s a win for FN, for the .mil (by helping to absorb overhead that would otherwise fall on the DOD budget), and of course, for those who want to own and shoot these firearms.

We want, we think, one of each. You?

HK’s Other 4.6: the HK36 in 4.6 x 36

HK LogoAround 1970, Heckler & Koch was doing well, but their restless engineers were thinking: what’s next? One thing we learn from history is that no weapons system lasts forever, and there was maybe one more go-around in the company’s present line of roller-locked weapons, trading some militaries’ 7.62 NATO weapons for 5.56 NATO ones. But what could offer stingy weapons procurers enough reason to stop sitting on their wallets?

HK 4.6 x 36mm, made 1971. For sale here. It seems likely that there was only one lot.

HK 4.6 x 36mm, made 1971. For sale here. It seems possible that there was only one lot each of the “soft core” (lead, this) and “hard core” (tungsten carbide) FMJ.

The company explored many ideas, in two major strains. One is now well-known: caseless ammunition with a radically new action and new modes of fire, which became the G11 through many, many series of tests and evaluations in the 1970s and 1980s. The second was, perhaps, meant as a technical backstop if the G11, a technical stretch, proved infeasible. It became the HK36 — not the G36, the technical backstop HK had to create after the G11 failed, but the very obscure G36. The rifle existed in, perhaps, three prototypes. It used a unique 4.6 x 36mm intermediate cartridge.

HK 36 factory photo, as published in Full Circle.

HK 36 factory photo, as published in Full Circle. This is the configuration we call Prototype 3.

The Big Ideas: Weight and Spoonery

When we referred to this as the “other” 4.6, we’re referring, of course, to the fact that this is not 4.6 x 30 HK round used in the familiar (at least, in appearance) MP7 series widely used by US and foreign special operations forces. The 4.6 x 30 is the latest of HK’s many attempts to make an even smaller caliber round, but it was aimed at a different objective: the short-range SOF and LE submachine gun, making most shots inside 100 meters; it has very light bullets (31-40 grains for warshots) and is a hair over half the weight of 9×19 or 5.56×25 ammo, allowing a reduction in operator burden (or an increase in ammo load, naturally).

The 4.6 x 36 was developed in the 1960s to meet a different requirement entirely: that of a normal assault rifle intermediate cartridge, with engagement ranges mostly inside 300 meters. Two ideas drove the 4.6 x 36: reducing ammunition and system weight for a given effect, arguably the longest-standing trend in firearms design, and increasing terminal effect in the intended target, to wit, enemy homo sapiens. The first objective drove the reduction in caliber and length. To get to acceptable lethality, higher chamber pressures (51,200 psi CUP) were accepted, but the light projectiles (42 grain hard core/54 grain softcore) didn’t reach outlandish velocities (2,600-2,800 fps). It required a fast barrel twist to stabilize the light projectiles; 1 turn in 6.3″ was selected. HK claimed the round shot flat, allowing it to print to point of aim from 0 to 300 meters without any need for range compensation by the shooter or the sight.

The “spoonery” of the subtitle refers to an invention of Dr Gunther Voss of CETME, which remained in symbiosis with HK itself at least at the time he applied for German and US patents in 1964 and 65 (his US Patent, 3,357,357, was granted in 1967).

Voss Loffelspitz US3357357-0

…to provide a rifle bullet wherein the tip of the bullet is of an asymmetric shape. When this bullet strikes the target, forces are generated which accelerate the bulet inclination.

It is stil another object of the present invention to provide a rifle bullet wherein the turning moment produced by the inclination accelerating forces increases and the bullet inclination is produced more rapidly when the distance between the bullet center of gravity and the bullet tip is greater. It is possible to increase the effect produced by the bullet tip asymmetry through the backward displacement of the bullet center of gravity.

The CG change could be produced by a dual-material cored bullet (later Russian rounds would take this approach, without using Voss’s tip).

Voss 4.6 x 36 Löffelspitz (l.) with 5.56 x 45 for comparison.

Voss 4.6 x 36 Löffelspitz (l.) with 5.56 x 45 for comparison.

Voss further believed that by increasing terminal velocity with the subtly asymmetric bullet tip he called the Löffelspitz or “spoon tip,” he could reduce caliber without losing lethality, and without having to “underspin” the bullet, which was widely understood to be Armalite’s approach to small caliber lethality.

In addition to the effective range increase, a bullet with these characteristics offers the advantage of the possibility of reducing its caliber without decreasing the detaining power obtained with the calibers used until now.

“Detaining power” is a euphemism used throughout the patent application. But clearly, the one biggest Big Idea in the HK36 was this ammunition.

The Three Known Prototypes or Versions

It is possible that some of these are actually the same rifle before and after rework. The fairly comprehensive (to its date) HK reference The Gray Room does not include a picture of an HK 36, suggesting that this may not have been preserved by the firm (or it may not be in display condition). Full Circle only includes handout publicity pictures.

The receiver of the rifle is very slender and short and, while surviving weight figures (6.3 lb empty) generated by marketing personnel based on prototypes are hard to reconcile with real in-service weights, it should have been much lighter than other HK rifles and more competitive with AR-15 based contemporaries.

Prototype 1 had a very conventional HK roller-lock styled receiver and magazine well, and very conventional HK (as far back as CETME) drum sight. It showed a relatively early plastic HK lower marked 0-1-30 and had an unusual sliding buttstock, clearly inspired by the Colt CAR-15, even though the HK36 did not require a buffer tube.

hk36 prototype 1


Prototype 2 also had a fixed magazine well, but the drum sight had been replaced by an, also Colt- or Armalite-inspired, carrying handle/sight mount. A reflex sight is contained within the after third of this sight, but we’ve never seen pictures of it, or of its reticle; we do note that apart from Prototype 1 (above), all HK 36 photos appear to be innocent of any foresight or any provision for iron sights. This image was featured in the 1975 Jane’s Infantry Weapons edited by FWA Hobart. Hobart reproduced a factory brochure for the rifle inside the book. He also, at the same time, featured this firearm in an article in National Defense, the magazine of the (then) American Defense Preparedness Association (which was earlier the Ordnance Association, and would later be the National Defense Industrial Association). By this time, possibly unknown to Hobart, the HK 36 was destined for the back burner as the caseless project was beginning to look feasible.

hk36 prototype 2

That picture doesn’t really do the sight-tower justice. It would be preserved in the next prototype and we’ll see it from some more angles.

Prototype 3 took another turn in the direction of space age looks with a fixed stock with a high center so that the recoil thrustline is barely offset from the stock centerline. This would have the  effect of reducing muzzle rise in high-rate fire, including auto- or burst-mode fire.


The selector now has four positions: 0, 1, 25, and 3, for a three-shot burst. This appears to have been a burst at normal cyclic rate.

The unusual magwell appears also to be a little bit inspired by Armalite concepts: a disposable waffle-reinforced magazine insert made of aluminum.


Changing a magazine was a Heath Robinson task on the HK 36; it appears from surviving photos that you have to move the mag well latch to the rear which would let the spring-loaded side door open and then you could insert the 25-Round magazine insert into the well and press the side door closed. At this point you could resume fire.

It may have been even more complicated than that. This is how Major Hobart explained it in the National Defense article (via Full Circle, p. 346):

The magazine is charged as follows:

At the bottom of each side is a milled button attached to a spring-loaded chain carried inside the magazine. When the buttons are pulled down, the chain is extended and held out. This pulls down the magazine platform and compresses the magazine spring. The rear of the magazine is open, and the 30-round box is placed on top of the followers. A further pull on the chain releases the holding catch.

The magazine platform rises under the cartridges and passes inside the containing box. The chain is taken up into the magazine. The first round is now in position for loading, and when the bolt comes forward the top cartridge is fed into the chamber. The magazine is sealed against the entry of dirt, snow, etc. As subsequent rounds are fired, the magazine spring drives the follower farther up inside the ammunition box. When the last round is fired, the bolt is held open. When the chain is pulled down, the empty box is ejected, the magazine spring is fully compressed, and the platform is pulled down to allow the next ammunition pack to be inserted.

(This is what happens when you ask a room full of guys whose names terminate in Dipl. Ing. to simplify something). HK claimed that this would “reduce weight and cost.”

It’s unfair to judge the magazine system based only on images and descriptions, but the temptation to pass judgment is strong. In any event, it is not the only ergonomic question mark with these firearms. The usual HK selector switch seems to call for the usual double-jointed thumb, especially on the burst setting; also, a stock weld of any type looks practically impossible, whether you’re using the fixed or sliding stock versions. (In true HK roller-lock fashion, they’re easily interchangeable. HK was modular before modular was cool).

The close-up of Prototype 3 shows the unusual shape of the forward carrying-handle pillars, and the only reason we can think that they’re bowed out like that is to keep them out of the field of view of the mysterious reflex sight. At around this time, HK was working with Hensoldt on a reflex sight for the G11; this might be the same sight.

Note that these “Prototype numbers” are not anything assigned by HK, but something that gun watchers have applied to these photos over the years as they’ve surfaced. We’re not aware of any picture showing more than one HK 36 in any one place at any one time, so it’s quite possible that there was only one prototype, and it went through several different reconstructions. It’s also possible that at least some of the weapons in the factory photos are actually mockups or dummies, and were never built as working firearms. The existence of quantities of the 4.6 X 36 ammunition argues for the existence of functioning prototypes.

What Happened to the HK36?

We know, in broad terms, what happened with the project. As the 70s wore on and the G11 project for a 4.9 mm (later 4.7 x 21) caseless Wundergewehr came together technically, the HK 36 and its unique 4.6 x 36 mm round vanished back into the swamps of, if not Mordor, at least Oberndorf. The G11 project was all-consuming, and it was this close to Bundeswehr adoption and standardization, having demonstrated a 100% pH improvement over the G3 rifle, when it was overcome by events. The Berlin Wall crumbled, and Germany entered the phase of Wiedervereinigung – the reunification of a nation divided in twain for almost 50 years. With the defense demands that resulted from this unexpected boon, including the challenges of merging two completely incompatible sets of armed services, it would have been irresponsible to sink great resources into rifle re-armament — so they kicked that can down the road, and stuck with the obsolescent G3.

The G11, which had already been rejected by the US Army when it cancelled the Advanced Combat Rifle procurement program in 1990, went into the lockers, too, and HK was briefly without a future in the infantry rifle market (right when worldwide Police/SOF enthusiasm for its submachine guns was running out of steam).

When HK found its future again, it wouldn’t be roller-locked or caseless. So one of the salient facts about the HK 36 is that it was, indeed, the last of a long line that began with the Mauser Werke StG 45. For that, as well as its innovative ammunition and concept, it deserves to be remembered.

We are aware that this post is far from comprehensive, but we think it tells the story of this rare experiment to the extent that it’s been made public. If there is a single thorough article on the HK 36 in the Intertubes somewhere, we did not find it. The best and most authoritative sources, based on factory information, are those 1975 Jane’s and National Defense articles, and three short pages in Full Circle, which reproduces much of the ND article’s content. 

Marathon Bombing Response Report: It’s Ugly

Other pressure cooker (and containing bag) remains of the bomb planted by Tamerlan Tsarnayev. FBI.

Pressure cooker (and containing bag) remains of the bomb planted by Tamerlan Tsarnayev. FBI.

There’s a reason they held this turkey until Friday night — it’s ugly.

The report also clarifies three things about the critical wounding of transit cop Richard “Dic” Donohue, Jr:

  1. Another cop did it;
  2. It’s a miracle he was the only cop wounded; and,
  3. They’re still trying to cover it up, and protect the cop who did it.

The Donohue shooting is probably the single most ate-up thing of the many wretched failures and blunders that took place during the bombing response. The uncontrolled mobbing, panicked lockdown, and contagious firing of the police response stands in stark contrast to the incredible job done on the medical side of things by a seamless combination of professional responders and citizen volunteers.

Indeed, it was a citizen who located the surviving suspect within a half hour of the time the cops gave up on their lockdown and dragnet-search, which found nothing but did delay the finding of the suspect and did impede the medical response by keeping staff away from the hospitals, and actually impeded the ambulance carrying their own guy to the hospital.

Here’s the summary:

A firefight ensued between the suspects and responding officers. As the shooting continued, additional officers arrived on scene from Watertown, BPD, MSP, Cambridge PD, and Transit PD. Over 200 rounds of ammunition were expended between the two sides.

The report talks about the shooting, but the suspects only had one gun and a few magazines. They did, however, have some homemade explosives, including “grenades” (which were mostly ineffective) and at least two more pressure-cooker bombs, which have to be taken seriously. For example, this was embedded in one of the cars on the scene:

watertown shootout bomb in car

Note that it not only tore through the door but it bent the much stronger structural-steel doorsill/rocker panel, typically one of the strongest components of a unibody. These two Up Brothers might seem like harmless buffoons, until you realize that by this point in time, they’ve shot a cop dead at point-blank range and that was after they killed three people with these bombs, and wounded 200-plus more, including 16 who suffered traumatic amputations.

The Tsarnaevs were violent criminals, terrorists, and they needed and deserved to go down hard. The police response wasn’t always helpful towards that end, and there are a lot of lessons that a cover-our-hiney approach will prevent from being learned.

In the course of the firefight, the first suspect was wounded. When he ran out of ammunition, he threw his gun and charged at a Watertown officer who subsequently wrestled him to the ground in the street. Meanwhile, the second suspect was able to enter the SUV and put the vehicle in gear. While fleeing the scene in the stolen vehicle, he struck the first suspect and dragged him a short distance with the vehicle, compounding his injuries.

tamerlan skidmark


Above: the scene. Below: Tamerlan, dead. He’s been rolled and searched by this point.

tamerlan dead again

As the second suspect fled the scene, a responding officer from the Transit PD was shot and critically wounded. The officer was transported to Mount Auburn Hospital, where medical professionals resuscitated him and performed life-saving surgery.

Did you notice that? Let us lay out the facts for you:

  1. The two sides of the firefight were the Tsarnaevs (with one black-market, defaced-serial-number Ruger pistol between them)… tamerlans ruger…and in the other corner, an uncoordinated swarm of cops from at least five agencies.
  2. The Tsarnaev with the gun (Speedbump, aka Tamerlan) shot his gun dry and threw it at the cops, and charged the cops. But the firefight, now one-sided, continued. Because the police were arrayed in a 360º Idiot Ambush around the suspects, they all perceived incoming and returned fire. Fortunately, they can’t shoot for $#!+.
  3. A Watertown cop tackled Tamerlan and took him down. But the one-sided, leaderless, uncontrolled “firefight” continued.
  4. Then brother Dzhokar (Flashbang) got in their jacked vehicle and took off… running over Speedbump and mortally injuring him. (Yes, he was killed by his and his brother’s incompetence, not the random, unaimed contagious fire of dozens of cops).
  5. As Flashbang exited, stage left (in Boston, all sides of the stage are left…), the police drumfire finally connected with someone — Dic Donohue, a Transit police officer. Note the passive voice: Donohue “was shot.” No wonder they’re all gun banners here, they never get the word about the people doing the shooting.

The deeper you drill down in the report, the worse it gets. It wasn’t a planned law enforcement response: it was lawless chaos, reminiscent of the Keystone ineptitude of the LAPD Chris Dorner response.

Take the swarms of cops in Watertown:

Thousands of law enforcement officers arrived in Watertown from across Massachusetts, other New England states, and New York. Many of these law enforcement officers did not come in re- sponse to a mutual aid request, but self-deployed to the area once it became widely known that one of the Marathon bombing suspects was at large in the town. These officers staged at the parking lot of the Arsenal Mall in Watertown; although officers received basic logistical support, including food, water, and toileting, few were provided oversight, situational awareness, or guidance. While most officers did not deploy into the field from the staging area on their own, there were a significant number of occasions when officers responded based on information or calls they heard on their radios, at times placing themselves and the officers with the authority to respond at risk.

Realizing that Donohue was critically wounded and exsanguinating, cops (CWCID) started treating him even before paramedics arrived (which was almost momentary). That part of the response went well… until they tried to transport him.

Officers on the scene tended to Officer Donohue to slow the bleeding with pressure and a tourniquet.

Many had already been en route from the Officer Collier murder scene in Cambridge.

At 12:51 a.m., Officer Donohue was loaded into the Watertown Fire ambulance for transport, but egress from the area was challenging given the numerous police vehicles parked in the vicinity and blocking street access. To circumvent the congestion made by the multitude of police vehicles and allow for the two paramedics to remain in the rear of the ambulance with the patient, a Watertown PD officer drove the ambulance to Mount Auburn Hospital, the nearest medical facility. Mount Auburn Hospital was approximately two miles away from the shooting scene, but did not have a trauma center. Nevertheless, the EMTs aiding Officer Donohue believed he would not survive a longer ride to a facility with a trauma center, and directed that he be brought to Mount Auburn. Officer Donohue had to be resuscitated upon arrival at the hospital, but the medical team at Mount Auburn was able to save his life.

That was a good and nervy call by the EMTs. A hospital that might not save him, now, was a better call than bringing his bloodless dead body to a better hospital that could have saved him if it wasn’t so far away. And more police CWCID, a cop took the wheel of the bolance so both EMTs could work on the patient. That probably broke elebbenty-twelve rules, and they ought to give that guy (and the EMTs) their shiniest medal.

The shooting of Donohue was only the first case of uncommanded, indisciplined, contagious fire. They did it again when they mistook other cops for the suspects, even though neither the cops nor the vehicle (a black full-size domestic pickup; the suspect vehicle was a small silver Mercedes SUV) bore any resemblance to the suspects. (Shades of Dorner, again). In this case the cops had, not quite a mad minute, but a number of mad seconds, and fortunately ceased fire before their eyes-wide-shut marksmanship could hit anybody.

An unmarked black MSP pickup truck is incorrectly reported as a stolen vehicle. The occupants of the pickup truck are a MSP Trooper and a BPD officer, both of whom are in plainclothes. As the vehicle drives down Adams Street in Watertown, a few blocks from the scene of the shootout, an officer on scene fired at the vehicle and its occupants. No one is injured.

But the random assemblage of random, ill-assorted, leaderless and unaccountable cops weren’t done. They collapsed into firearms incontinence again again, when they had the unarmed, wounded Flashbang (Dzhokar, nicknamed because he’d burned himself badly with one of his own IEDs) cornered in a boat.

Officers immediately responded to the home. The first officers on scene requested support from tactical teams and EOD units. A large number of law enforcement officers self-deployed to the scene after overhearing radio traffic about the location of the suspect. Within moments, more than 100 officers had gathered in front of and behind the home.

Note that the cops had eyes in the sky, and the eye in the sky had a thermal image of the wounded Flashbang:

dzhokar thermal boat


The boat was engaged from both sides and from dead ahead. However, Dzhokar wasn’t hit.

watertow boat damage

Several moments later, a responding officer fired his weapon without appropriate authority in response to perceived movement in the boat. Other officers then opened fire on the boat under the assumption the initial shot was fired at them by the suspect. Shooting continued for several seconds until a senior officer ordered a ceasefire.

After the MSP Airwing’s infrared camera confirmed that the suspect was alive, law enforcement officials made several attempts to coerce the suspect from the boat.

In both of the last two incidents the report seems to minimize the firing. Audio of the incidents doesn’t sound like one guy or a few guys firing.

One of the findings of the report is, not surprisingly, an absence of weapons discipline:

Weapons discipline was lacking by the multitude of law enforcement officers in the field during both the firefight with the two suspects near Dexter and Laurel Streets, and the standoff with the second suspect who was hiding in a winterized boat in a residential back yard. Although initial responding officers practiced appropriate weapons discipline while they were engaged in the firefight with the suspects, additional officers arriving on scene near the conclusion of the firefight fired weapons toward the vicinity of the suspects, without necessarily having identified and lined up their target or appropriately aimed their weapons. Officers lining both sides of the street also fired upon the second suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle.

Note what the report said. Cops from both sides of the street shot at the vehicle as Flashbang ka-thump-a-thumped Speedbump and fled. That’s when poor Donohue got shot. But look at this false diagram which was submitted as evidence in the Flashbang trial — it suggests that cops were shooting at Tamerlan when they hit Donohue. Nonsense, they were just firing blindly in the vague direction of a car, and Tamerlan was already down for the long count. This diagram is a complete fraud, yet it was submitted as evidence and widely publicized — that’s how far they’re going to CYA whoever plugged Donohue. A politician’s nephew?



Shortly after the firefight, an unmarked MSP black pickup truck was erroneously reported as stolen. This vehicle, with two occupants in it, was then spotted driving on Adams Street, near the scene of the shootout, and fired upon by an officer. Upon further inspection, it was deter- mined that the occupants of the vehicle were a BPD officer and MSP trooper in plain clothes, both of whom were unhurt.

Weapons discipline was again an issue during the operation to capture the second suspect who was hiding in a boat parked in a residential backyard. An officer fired his weapon without appropriate authority in response to perceived movement in the boat, in turn causing many officers to fire at the boat in the belief that they were being shot at by the suspect. Each of these incidents created dangerous crossfire situations.

Massachusetts police training on firearms is so poor to be nonexistent, or even counterproductive. (Remember Framingham PD, which blew a non-suspect’s head off because they teach keep your finger on the trigger and your M4 off safe?) Mostly, they teach rookies to hate and fear firearms, so it’s not surprising that most of them fail to master them.

Fortunately, their combat marksmanship was even worse than their fire discipline, preventing from doing more than hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage (which has gone unreimbursed: patch your own bullet holes, peasants) and crippling just one unlucky cop.

The biggest failing is that there are no lessons taken on board from this. Despite the occasional words of self-criticism, the report makes no attempt to identify the irresponsible cop who plugged Donohue, probably because the investigators didn’t really want to know. Overall, the report is saturated in smug self-satisfaction:

Overall, the response to the Boston Marathon bombings must be considered a great success.

You keep using that word….

Firearms Reverse Engineering

One thing about the people of the gun: we’re conservative. By that, we don’t necessarily mean that we want 15 carrier groups back, eager to cut taxes and services, or sorry that mandatory chapel was gone by the time we went to college. There are actually card-carrying ACLU members and ivory tower socialists among us, but they’re conservative about their guns. For every reader who’s up to date on polymer wonder pistols, there’s about three who wish you could get a new Python. (The reason they can’t is that they don’t want it $3,500-4,000 bad, which is what an old-style hand-made perfect Python would cost to make today). Or a new Luger. For every one of you guys following the latest in M4 attachments (hey, let’s play “combat Legos!”), there’s a few who’d buy a new MP.44, if they could.

Every once in a while, gun manufacturers decide to satisfy these consumer yearnings with product. Sometimes, they succeed. Sometimes, the 10,000 guys who told them they were down for a semi-auto Chauchat turn into 10 guys who buy one and the businessmen get to undergo the intensive learning lab called Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The question becomes, if you are raising a zombie firearm from the dead: how? Even the original manufacturers tend not to have prints and process sheets for >50 year old products, and if they do, the documents are ill-adapted to the way we do things now. If your original product was made in Hiroshima or Dresden pre-1945, or Atlanta pre-1865, odds are the paperwork burned. If the company went tango uniform even ten years ago, rotsa ruck tracking down the design documents.

So, you’re sitting here with a firearm you know you could sell. You have the rights to reproduce it, because any patents and copyrights and trademarks are either in your possession or expired or defunct. Your problem is reverse engineering. It turns out that this is a very common problem in the firearms industry, and the path is well beaten before you.

Some Examples of Reverse-Engineered Drawings

People can do this with some calipers, a dial indicator, and some patience. Rio Benson has done that for the M1911A1.

Screenshot 2015-04-03 09.58.55

He explains why he thought a new set of documents were necessary in a preface to his document package:

Historically, when the drawings for John M. Browning’s Colt M1911 were first created, there was little in the way of ‘consensus’ standards to guide the designers and manufacturers of the day in either drawing format or in DOD documentation of materials and finishes. For the most part, these were added, hit or miss, in later drawing revisions. Furthermore, due to the original design’s flawless practicality and it’s amazing longevity, the government’s involvement, and the fact that in the ensuing 100-plus years of production the M1911 design has been officially fabricated by several different manufacturers, the drawings have gone through many, many revisions and redraws in order to accommodate all these various interests. These ‘mandated by committee’ redraws and revisions were not always made by the most competent of designers, and strict document control was virtually non-existent at the time. All of this has led to an exceedingly sad state of credibility, legibility, and even the availability of legitimate M1911 drawings today.

He modeled the firearm using SolidWorks 2009, with reference to DOD drawings available on the net, and his own decades of design and drafting-for-manufacture experience. The results are available here in a remarkable spirit of generosity; and if you want his solid models or his help producing this (or, perhaps, on another firearm), he’s available to help, for a fee.

findlay-stenIn a similar spirit, experienced industry engineer David S. Findlay whom we’ve mentioned from time to time, has published two books that amount to the set of documents reverse-engineered  from an M1A1 Thompson SMG and from a Sten Mk II. The limitations of these include that they come from reverse-engineering single examples of the firearm in question, and the tolerances are based, naturally, on Findlay’s experience and knowledge. So his reverse-engineering job may not gibe with the original drawings, but you could build a firearm from his drawings and we reckon the parts would interchange with the original, if his example was well representative of the class.

Nicolaus M1 Garand bookOn the other hand, Eric A. Nicolaus has published several books of cleaned-up original drawings of the M1 Garand, the M1D, the M1 and M1A1 carbines, various telescopes, etc.

Nicolaus’s books provide prints like the Findlay books do, but they’re not reverse engineering. They’re reprints of the initial engineering, cleaned up and republished. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Sometimes the Industry needs Reverse Engineering

A perfect example is when planning to reintroduce an obsolete product. Most manufacturers that have been around since the 19th Century never foresaw the rise of cowboy action shooting, but now that it’s here, they want to put their iconic 1880s products in the hands of eager buyers. Or perhaps, they need to move a foreign product to the US (or vice versa). In this case, reverse engineering the product may be less fraught with risk than converting paper drawings which use obsolete drawing standards, measures and tolerancing assumptions. You may recognize this reverse-engineered frame:


If you are exploring a reverse engineering job, there are several ways to do it. The first is in-house with your own engineers. (You may need to ride herd on them to keep their natural engineers’ tendency to improve every design endlessly in check). The next, is to outsource to an engineering consultancy that does this. The third is to use a metrology and engineering company, like Q Plus Labs, from whom we draw that pistol-frame example. They say:

[W]e offer numerous reverse engineering methods and services to define parts or product. Q-PLUS provides everything from raw measurement data to parametric engineering drawings that correspond to a 3D CAD solid model! We also offer reverse engineering design consulting to point you in the right direction.

  • Digitizing & Scanning
  • Measurement Services
  • 3D CAD Solid Modeling
  • Engineering Drawings

In other words, you can go there to have them do, essentially, what Rio Benson did with the 1911 with your product. They can digitize an item from 3D scanning, or they can take a drawing and dimension it from known-good examples. Given enough good examples, they can actually determine tolerances statistically and substantiate them to a level that will satisfy regulatory agencies such as the FAA. (This lack of a range of parts and statistical basis for the tolerances is, in our opinion, a rare weakness in Findlay’s single-example approach).

Reverse engineering has gone from something in the back alleys of engineering or attributed to overseas copycats, to something firmly in the mainstream of modern production engineering.

Printed 10/22: Several Ways to Make Your Own Rimfire

In the world of rimfire rifles, the Ruger 10/22 lives in the equivalent mindspace of the AR-15 in Centerfire World: it’s the center of an entire ecosphere of modular customization. You can buy any component for a 1022 that you might like, except the receiver. Wait! Belay that: there are also aftermarket receivers1 and even “80%” receivers2. And then, there’s 3D printing.

A printed Ruger 10/22-based pistol.

A printed Ruger 10/22-based pistol.

There are several ways to 3DP a 10/22 receiver that’s a fair ringer for the pukka article.

Printed 10-22 with original 9 Mar 15

For years a drawing and 3D model [IGES] of the receiver has been available online. (We downloaded it years ago from CNC Guns, where Justin Halford may have intended to mill it from billet). It was only natural that people would think of duplicating it on a 3D printer in PLA or ABS. And it’s definitely been done. Voilá:

Indeed, 3D printed guns pioneer Have Blue posted about success printing a 10/22 receiver over two years ago. He may have been overlooked because it was an aside to his experiments with AR lower receivers. Here’s what it looked like on the printer:

10-22 as printed

And here’s what one looks like with the support material removed. This one was printed on Veterans’ Day, 2013 (Remembrance Day for our British and Commonwealth cousins):

This printed receiver image has been in our media library since February.

This printed receiver image has been in our media library since February, but it was already a year old then.

But there have been a bunch of new stories in 2015 addressing this3, and we have seen that a couple of the original gun-printers from way back have taken to the net again to point out their primacy, from 2013, and helpfully to organize it into a simple step-by-step process (but one, as you will see, that needs considerable machining tools and knowledge to correct for issues with the IGES file or the print). Most if not all of that detail was in Have Blue’s original post from St Patrick’s Day, 2013. But here’s the new iteration of that, from a new-ish site, Printed Firearm.


In comments to his post, Have Blue noted that

My hunch is that accuracy/precision will be pretty much the same with the printed receiver when using the factory iron sights (as both are mounted to the barrel itself). However, if using a receiver mounted scope or aftermarket rear iron sight, I expect to see very poor accuracy – given that the barrel would tip down with every turn of the clamp screws during the initial barrel mount, it’s not conducive to accuracy. The printed receiver is far more flexible than an an aluminum receiver, and is really quite impractical at this point (I wouldn’t want to do mag dumps in the summer due to heat concerns, to answer your other question).

But that’s where we were in 2013… “What is the use of a newborn baby?” as Franklin is said to have replied, when asked, what was the use of the Montgolfier Brothers’ balloon.

Since 2013’s initial reconnaissances of the 3D-printing world, we’ve seen printing evolve with new materials, vastly improved printers, and other individuals have solved some of the 10/22 printing problems Have Blue had to machine his way out of, by modifying the 3D file and printing the corrections (and adjustments for shrinkage, etc.) into the receiver. For example, the receiver can be printed in sections, oriented for accuracy and strength, and then epoxied together.

Here’s a pistol “Ruger Charger” version which was done just that way (in fact, the image is from this video) from 2014.

This is one cat that is just not susceptible to being rebagged. The authorities can’t issue the crackdown they’re dreaming of, without cracking down on a great deal of unrelated economic and technical growth and development.

GSL printed 10-22

Some European authorities have chosen to extend bans to other parts, perceiving that the manufacture of, say, bolts and especially barrels is beyond new technology or cottage industry in general. (They are very mistaken about this).

Pretty amazing stuff, but then, this is the twenty-first century.


  1. An incomplete list of 10/22 aftermarket receiver makers includes: KIDD (link is to a reseller), MOA Guns (review of their stainless 10/22 receiver), NoDak Spud, Tactical Machining (here’s a review), and Volquartsen Custom, each with some selling points or improvements built in.
  2. Makers include Select Fire LLC and Tactical Machining (uses this completion jig). Scare quotes because, while “80%” has some currency in gunners’ discussions, it means zilch to ATF Firearms Technology Branch. In their (legally binding) opinion, something is a receiver — and therefore a firearm — or it isn’t, and percentages don’t enter into it at all.
  3. The one that caught our eye was this one at Guns Save Lives.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Just Fieldstrip

Just Fieldstrip is not exactly a website, but it’s a series of YouTube videos posted via check gun expert. As the name suggests, almost all of them are simply how to field strip quite a collection of historic, and sometimes rare and unusual, firearms.

The only audio is instrumental music, so they’re useful to speakers of any and no language alike. There’s a playlist of the series, but it hasn’t been updated in two plus years, and stops at #75. (We’ve found examples up to #90) There’s also a playlist of the series with no music and running narration — in Czech. Great if you have the right credentials (say, Defense Language Institute Basic Czech 1979-80, FLTCE Immersion Czech 1986) but maybe not so great if you don’t.

Here’s one that isn’t actually a field strip, simply an example of how to operate the Kolibri 2.7mm automatic pistol, which looks like a Baby Browning’s premature crack baby with the Browning 1900 fingered as Baby Daddy. (Was incest illegal in Liège early last century? Enquiring minds, etc. –Ed).

The Kolibri is Number 054 in the long-running series.

One of the more fiddly and complicated disassemblies is the fiddly and complicated Luigi Franchi SPAS-12, a bizarre shotgun that worked as a semi-auto and as a pump.

After the jump there’s a list of some, perhaps all to date, of the videos. Some we could only find in the Czech variant, some in the dubbed-music variant. Going through that list, we found one from a pistol we didn’t know, the Slovakian polymer-framed DA/SA Grand Power K-100, reported to be winning IPSC events in Europe. So we’ll close the front page out with a third video, the K-100 — Just Fieldstrip! (Interesting, the barrel rotates to look like an Obregon or some Berettas, but it strips like a PPK. We’ll have to look into this thing).

The author of these videos is associated in some manner with a Czech gun dealer, The page is naturally in Czech. It has a video page that links to the Czech disassembly videos, too.

Click “more” to see the list of Just Fieldstrip / Rozborka a Sborka episodes we could find. (Unfortunately, not linked).

Continue reading

4 Men. 3 States. 2 Weeks. = 1 Rifle + 1 Good Deed of the Day

How a blogger, an FFL, a dad and a grand-dad ganged up across the nation to show a Boy Scout a Good Deed of the Day. Now, the Story Can Be Told, as a Hollywood narrator might say.

Ruger 10:22 Boy Scout of America Rifle01

It begins with a boy approaching a milestone in life and in scouting: Eagle Scout. The top level in Scouting, Eagle is achieved by a relatively small minority of Scouts. Kyle was proud of his accomplishment, and his dad wanted to do something for him. Knowing that Kyle was into guns, Dad heard about a Boy Scout commemorative that Ruger had made. Finding ads for it online, he called number after number only to find… nope, sorry. We forgot to take down the ad. He went to his local FFL, Moti Adika of MASA Firearms in Coral Springs, FL, a guy with a strong Israeli accent. Moti knew the gun, and knew the market — and he told the Dad, gently but unmistakably, that he was screwed.

boy scout 22 stock

You see, that commemorative was offered for one year only — five years ago, in 2010. Gun distributors and dealers buy guns to resell, not to keep, and if your inventory takes five years to turn over, you’re not going to make it as a dealer of guns or anything else. “I’ll keep my eye on the auctions,” is something like what Moti said, “but you better not count on it.”

So dejected Dad mentions it to Granddad Bill, his father-in-law. They get on like a house on fire anyway — Dad’s a line pilot, and Granddad Bill is a retired Army pilot, and they both like guy stuff, Mom, and the grandkids.

Enter Weaponsman

“Wait a minute,” says Granddad Bill. “I know a guy who knows guns.” and he sends an email to your humble blogger.

But the email crosses the wires as is relocating south to deal with family turbulence. It goes unread. But South turns out to be kind of diagonally a couple of streets over from Granddad Bill, and soon enough Weaponsman and the former Hook driver are at lunch with Weaponsdad and another buddy.

“Hey,” says Weaponsdad. “Did you ever answer Granddad Bill’s email?”

“Wha?” Weaponsman intelligently replies around a sandwich of some type.

And the facts about the Dad’s urgent need for a weapons intervention lest the Dad have to conceive a Plan B for an Eagle Scout gift.

“No problem. I’ve got this for action,” Weaponsman intones, his eyes smiling behind his WileyX’s. Because  this is going to be easy, right?  Most commemorative guns stay NIB for decades. Most of them have examples in the secondary market all the time. And none of these soi-disant collector’s items ever seem to appreciate much, compared with real collectors’ items.

We learn about the rifle.  It’s a nice looking thing, with a better than standard walnut stock, a schnabel forearm, and some Boy Scout markings. It’s quite the “attaboy,” and all we need to do now is find one.

We strike out. Our favorite FFL strikes out, and reaches out to his distributors.

They laugh at him. “We just had a guy from Florida asking.” Moti? “We laughed at him, too.”

Hey, anything to bring a smile to your face, you know? That leaves the auction sites. We hit the best and brightest, Gunbroker.


The former Auction Arms, now, the NRA’s preferred auction site.


And so on down the list, with synonyms for zero piling up. We even thought about trying GunsAmerica, even though they’re assclowns and we don’t trust them as far as we could throw them, but decided that some principles are stronger than helping a Boy Scout.

So we set some snares on the auction sites and take out the 18F google-fu. Like the Dad before us, we find lots of ads. “Oh, crap, what’s the URL for that ad? We sold out of those in about a year.”

Then, the klaxon goes off.  One has been listed on GunBroker! Initial bid $550, open auction. It was a nice one, in apparently new condition, with all the paperwork and junk that comes with a new one:

Ruger 10:22 Boy Scout of America Rifle02

Some Strategic Bidding Tips

This is how we bid on that gun in order to buy it successfully, make a Scout and his Dad happy, and avoid any suggestion of a legal violation.

  • First, in a case like this where you’re bidding for friends, make sure they’re friends you trust. Your credibility on the auction site is at risk. If you win the auction and the actual buyer taps out, you’re left holding the bag (which you can only rescue by buying the gun yourself and having it delivered to you, or making an arrangement with the seller).
  • Second, when multiple guys know that someone is looking for a specific gun, coordinate lest you bid against one another. It didn’t take Moti any longer to find the BSA rifle auction than it took us; he advised The Dad to set up a GB account and bid himself. Three-way coordination was necessary to be sure than only one of us bid on the auction, so as not to drive the price artificially high for a single customer.
  • Third, in an interstate deal, take pains not to violate Federal and state law. This deal involved domiciliaries of three states: IL, FL, and NH. Rather than buy and take possession of and deliver the gun, we chose to simply bid on behalf of the buyer, who isn’t likely to use GunBroker enough to establish a login of his own. If you buy a gun for someone else, that’s potentially a straw purchase, even if the end user of the gun is definitely not a prohibited person. (ATF prefers to pursue cases like this than actual violent criminals; in one case, they put an FBI agent in prison for buying his father a Glock to get the LE discount). So in this case, we just bid for The Dad. He bought the gun himself, sending the check to the listing dealer, and receiving it from his own dealer, Moti. We never touched the money or the gun, and it did its interstate travel from IL FFL to FL FFL — it’s even more on the up-and-up than it needs to be. Do not count on your being an honest person to protect you… make it tough for a dishonest ATF agent to screw you.
  • Fourth, an early bid in a long auction just signals your interest and brings out competing bidders. It’s some bizarre group effect of human psychology that relatively few want to be the first penguin in the water, but great swathes of the public will happily dive in once the first one has taken the plunge. So bid late.
  • Fifth and Finally, don’t let an item you want slip away because you only made one bid, and don’t overpay because you got caught up in the heat of a bidding cycle. Decide what the gun is worth to you before you make the bid, and set a max bid of that amount. That both ensures you won’t lose it to a bid you’d have outbid if you could have, and just as importantly acts as a cold-blooded check on the tendency to bid in hot blood.  (This is just like setting abort criteria for a mission, or a pilot setting a missed approach point on an instrument approach — it has to be done in advance, in cold blood, fixed and briefed, and then adhered to rigidly).

As it happens, no one else bid on the Scout commemorative, and it was The Dad’s for the minimum bid of $550. With Fedex shipping, it came to $571. It’s enroute to him, per the Fedex tracking number.

And the Scout? He doesn’t even suspect it’s coming. Heh.