Category Archives: Weapons Education

“Impossible” Alloys of the Near Future

Steel-Aluminum alloy? Any metallurgist would tag you as a n00b for bringing it up. “Can’t do it. Incompatible. It’s the metallurgical equivalent of dogs and cats lying down together. Winds up with crystallized, embrittled aluminum weakening the steel.” Three Korean scientists, all stereotypically named Kim, from the Pohang University of Science and Technology have almost managed to pull it off — after many years of theory, trial, and error, and standing on the shoulders of previous researchers, as always. The lead investigator is Hansoo Kim.

The resulting material has properties that sound like Ayn Rand’s fictional Rearden Metal — light, strong, potentially cheap. It exceeds titanium alloys, hitherto the lightest and strongest alloys known, for lightness and strength. Yet the aluminum that lightens the alloy doesn’t embrittle it — it leaves it ductile, or workable. That’s why this research has potential outside of the metallurgist’s lab.

The secret appears to be accepting that Fe-Al “intermetallic compound” inclusions (they call this compound B2)  within the metal will be somewhat brittle, and managing their size and dispersion so that they lighten the resulting steel without embrittling it. They did this by adding nickel, which “catalyses the precipitation of nanometre-sized B2 particles in the face-centred cubic matrix of high-aluminium low-density steel during heat treatment of cold-rolled sheet steel.” In much the way that windows don’t break and make a skyscraper fall because they’re not load-bearing structures, these fracture-prone B2 particles are individually so small and so widely and evenly dispersed that a crack has no pathway to propagate. Think of it as rip-stop steel at the nanometer scale.

This work is evolutionary as much as it is revolutionary. It builds on previous work on TRIPLEX steels, which are steels with significant amounts of manganese, aluminum and carbon serving to modify iron’s physical properties (and that in turn builds on 1970s research in the USSR). Previous TRIPLEX research by Springer and Raabe (details linked below) found that while holding manganese and carbon content constant at 30% and 1.2% respectively, strength went up as up to 8% aluminum displaced some of the iron in the balance.

steel strength with aluminum

strength with various levels of aluminum in alloy (Springer & Raabe).

Springer and Raabe, and others, built on Soviet work that developed high-strength but very brittle iron-aluminum steels.

How can a material be strong and brittle? They’re separate properties. Strong suggests how far you have to go to make the metal fail. Brittle suggests a material that then fails abruptly by breaking. It doesn’t deform. (Imagine a car that, crashed into a tree, shattered into shards rather than got dented). But that’s not just a problem for designers: it’s a hell of a problem for manufacturers, for many of our steel-processing approaches expect steel to be ductile. We bend it on anvils or stamp it in dies; we shear it with cutting tools; we curve pipes around; we hydroform it. All of those processes depend on the ductility of the metal.

The tables and graphs in the paper in Nature (one of the two most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in the world) suggests that this novel aluminum-bearing steel alloy not only has superior balance of strength and ductility to TRIPLEX, but also offers real ductility advantages over typical titanium-aluminum-vanadium alloy. (If you’ve ever worked with titanium, you know ductility is not its strong point).

nature steel-AL alloy figure 1

What do alloys like this mean for firearms? The three Dr Kims are excited about automotive and aviation applications, because those are the primary users of large quantities of lightweight alloys (and have been turning increasingly to more exotic materials, like carbon fiber, carbon-carbon, and lithium alloys, in pursuit of lighter strong materials). But the technology that shows up on the auto line and in the aerospace factory does make it to firearms, especially as every firearms designer now alive is alert to how 1940s aviation technology enabled Stoner, Sullivan et. al. to revolutionize firearms design in the 1950s and early 60s. If nobody in your engineering shop is getting SAE’s Aerospace Engineering, you’re either committed to traditional materials and processes, or a me-too design shop.

While the material itself is of great interest, the scientists think that the process will be, in the long run, far more important because it will allow the invention of entire classes of previously “impossible” alloys.

The process has one major hurdle before it can be commercialized: a method must be found to prevent the oxidation of the steel, in-process. Technologies used on conventional steels won’t work, and building the foundry on an airless asteroid solves the oxidation problem, but leaves you with the steel somewhere other than the planet where it’s required.

And right about now, perhaps in some unexpected corner of the world, a grad student is mulling this problem, and sometime soon a light will go on in his head….

For more information

Popular Mechanics article for laymen:

Nature article (abstract, references and tables only w/o subscription):

Information on TRIPLEX steel-AL alloys (Forerunner of this research):

Defending Against Armed Attack: Armed vs. Unarmed

More details continue to emerge about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. It is likely that, as more information proves out, many initial reports will be exposed as inaccurate (indeed, we speculated in comments that because the police were very slow to release the ID of the shooter, he was probably a Moslem. Instead, he seems to have been a native-born, religion-free nut job motivated by dreams of television celebrity).

The shooter was a confusing and confused individual, a militant atheist who called himself conservative, who linked to Islamists but apparently just for the murders, who admired several spree killers and expressed a desire to benefit from similar media celebrity — which, of course, he now has. Anti-gun politicians wasted no time calling for further punishment of those gun owners who didn’t do it, led by a typically self-referential and self-regarding speech by the President, and including such staple anti-gun figures as Texas State Senator John Whitmire, who may have set a new record for variations of the abnegatory but  (“I support the 2nd Amendment, but“) in an interview with two radio reporters and fellow anti-gun Democrats. (They are careful not to mention his, or their, party).

Oregon, increasingly North California, had already installed most of the legal panaceas pushed as first or interim “common sense” measures by the gun-ban enthusiasts: . The state had a law that permitted campus carry, but allowed individual colleges to opt out, which Umpqua did in righteous terms:

Possession, use, or threatened use of firearms (including but not limited to BB guns, air guns, water pistols, and paint guns) ammunition, explosives, dangerous chemicals, or any other objects as weapons on college property, except as expressly authorized by law or college regulations, is prohibited.

We won’t go into the politics of this issue at this time — that’s not the point of the post. The point is, what can you do?

Like the Westgate Mall shooters, this guy got his jollies asking terrified people a question about their religion. Wrong answer, they kill you.

If you are a student at a school like Umpqua that privileges murderers above defenders, you have certain choices:

  1. You can obey the policy and pray for salvation in the event of an attack.
  2. You can obey the policy and fight back, unarmed.
  3. You can violate the policy and let the chips fall where they may.
  4. You can drop out or transfer out.

That seems to cover it. We know what happened to those who followed the first line of defense. If they were Jews, Hindus, or some other minority religion, the gunman “spared” them, shooting them in the legs. If they were Christians, he made himself their judge and executioner.

We ‘re aware of at least two students who took approaches 2 and 3, both veterans. This is how those approaches worked out.

Attack Unarmed

chris mintzWe all know that an unarmed attack on an armed man may succeed, as we recently saw in France. (In a strange coincidence, one of the French train heroes, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, was a student at Umpqua, but he was out of state at the time of the shooting). Even in France, several of the men who attacked the gunman were wounded, but force of numbers, along with speed, surprise and violence of action, won the day.

Army vet Chris Mintz, a fitness buff learning to be a fitness coach at Umpqua, gave it his best shot — and was on the receiving end of a number of shots (some stories say five, some say seven) in his legs. The wounds took him out of the fight; he was unable to disarm the shooter.

Carry Despite the Policy

john-johnThat doesn’t guarantee a win for the good guys, either. In this case, a vet who identified himself as John (on camera) told Breitbart’s Lee Stranahan, that as a concealed carry permit holder, “Yeah, I purchased my rights back from the government.”

We were in a — there’s a special room, for just veterans to go to and study. We were just getting ready to go to our next class, someone left, came back in and said, “Hey, active shooter on campus. We’ve gotta leave.”

His first reaction was that it was probably a false alarm.

A few of us were not sure if it was just somebody across the river on county-owned land, target practicing, or if they were really a shooter on campus. So a few of us said, “Let’s check this out and go see what’s going on.”

At that time, we were told to go into a room. We went our separate ways into different rooms. We stayed in lockdown for about two hours.

And that was where your concealed carrier was, locked into a room by the gunless campus Paul Blart, whose emergency plan was apparently to concentrate the victims for the convenience of the shooter. Ultimately, the cops killed the shooter (or he killed himself) before he got to the room with the surprise in it.

John-John was unimpressed with the college’s self-designation as a Victim Disarmament Zone. And if he had been 200 yards closer to the shooting, instead of 200 yards away?

“Military… Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, whatever… we’re trained to run towards danger, not run away from it. I would have gone closer… to see if there was something I could have done, to intervene, to help. If that would have gotten me shot, I don’t know. If it would have gotten me to a point where I could have saved thirteen or however many victims…? We’ll never know. Speculation.”

Hmmm… while we’re speculating, what if brave Chris Mintz had been the guy with a defensive gun?


These are rare attacks, and each one has its own idiosyncrasies. Two things that seem nearly universal are the killer’s failure at life, and his desire for media lionization, something the media never fails to give him.

People who think these crimes are unique to the United States, or that crazies need firearms to carry them out, have blinders on.

When the fight comes to you, you need to fight as you are. Every bullet absorbed by Chris Mintz, who will recover, is one that was not fired into the head of a defenseless person.

There is not much that can be done in the public policy realm that will have any effect on these sorts of crimes, and nothing at all that will affect them in the short term. The best policy prescription might be to put more resources into basic research on mental illness, but are we prepared to launch an effort that might take a century to tell us, “We know a lot of fascinating new things, but nothing practical; predicting and preventing wig-outs remains impossible”?

One thing we could do is bring consequences home to those who disarm victims for the benefit of assailants. Congress should make any corporation or non-profit and its officers, trustees, and responsible decision-makers bear strict, unlimited, joint and several liability for the predictable consequences of this disarmament.

What Happened in Kenya’s Westgate Mall?

It turns out, what happened in September, 2013, is not what we’ve been told. The official line goes something like this: that up to a dozen armed jihadis attacked, killed hundreds, holed up with dozens of hostages and blew the place up, and were taken out in a determined assault by Nairobi SWAT.

"Fucking Americans!" Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow spat, and gunned down Ross Langdon, 32 who died in a futile attempt to save his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend Elif Yavuz. Neither was American.

“Fucking Americans!” Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow spat, and gunned down Ross Langdon, 32 who died in a futile attempt to protect his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend Elif Yavuz. Neither was American.

What actually happened was more remarkable:

  1. There were only four young gunmen, Somali expendables from as-Shabaab, lightly armed with AKs and hand grenades, presumably F1s.
  2. They seemed to enjoy playing with the defenseless people at the mall. For example, they’d ask people questions, and shoot them, depending on the answers. They took pleasure in shooting women and children and praised themselves to their god, and praised their god, every killing. In one case a Hindu man and his wife survived because he knew the words of the shahada, the mohammedan profession of faith. (Learning that shibboleth may be a survival skill. Saying the words doesn’t really make you moslem: you have to grow a beard, start wearing a shalwar kameez, insist on bagging your women, and develop urges to murder children).
  3. While the police hesitated, like the cops at the Columbine, Colorado school shooting in the USA, individual non-police gun carriers and a few bold individual policemen entered the mall in pursuit of the four gunmen. These guys are the ones you see saving those who were saved.
  4. Aside: hail to the photographers. A reporter can write a terrorist attack story from his hotel bar, and it’s clear that many of them did in this case, but the photog has to go there and put his or her quivering young body in the range of hostile fire. They’re men and women after our own hearts.
  5. The mall had only five exits including a single department store loading dock, and the mohammedans occupied two of them by force, each with a loose two-man team. This may not have been their plan — they don’t seem to have been very bright — but that’s how it shook out.
  6. The survivors used a variety of survival strategies: since no good guys were armed until the gun carriers and cops started filtering in, fight was out of the question, so they mostly depended on flight and concealment. A number of survivors, especially wounded survivors, played dead. Some who played dead were caught out and executed by laughing terrorists.
  7. There was a racial aspect to the attack as well as the religious one. Whites and Asians (including South Asians) seem to have been marked for death, although the killers said they were only killing Americans and Kenyans, and released some victims who claimed (truthfully or not) to be other nationalities. However, they didn’t ask the nationality of most of those that they killed.
  8. It seems likely that some of the attackers had been living as refugees in Kenya, as they spoke English and Kenyan Swahili. We are reminded of the old saw that one in ten refugees is an agent for a hostile power.
  9. Many of the survivors spoke about how calm the attackers seemed. We smell khat. 
  10. Nobody was more scared than the street cop who realized, as an ethnic Somali with an AK, he might be mistaken for the attackers by his own guys, despite his police uniform. But he went in and saved people anyway, despite being seriously wounded by the terrorists. You would hope the Kenyan republic gives him the medal he earned.
  11. When the Kenyan police and army finally attacked many hours later, they did it by an uncoordinated strike through separate entrances, and when they two forces met, they engaged each other. After that, the elite police SWAT-like unit took their casualties and went home, and the Army and other police proceeded to trash the place.
  12. The rescuers were too late to save much of anybody: most of the casualties were killed in the initial attack, or bled out during the hours it took officialdom to nerve itself up to move.
  13. All the significant damage to the mall was caused by the Kenyan military and police — this was all gravy from the point of view of as-Shabaab.
Ad hoc security: (l-r): non-Kenyan security professional with M9; Kenyan licensed carrier with Glock (note IDPA patch@); Kenyan citizen or (given lax trigger discipline!) plainclothes cop with CZ-75. The CZ is very popular in Kenya both with police and civilians. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Ad hoc security: (l-r): non-Kenyan security professional with M9; Kenyan licensed carrier with Glock (note IDPA patch!); Kenyan citizen or (given lax trigger discipline!) plainclothes cop with CZ-75. The CZ is very popular in Kenya both with police and civilians. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

The Kenyan security services did not cover themselves in glory here. Once again, we learn some timeless lessons:

  1. Afterward, the intelligence services find out they should have seen it coming, but oops.
  2. The rescue that matters is self-rescue and self-started civilian rescue. The cavalry only comes in time in Hollywood.
  3. Most untrained people are passive even in the face of certain death. 
  4. Talking to terrorists doesn’t work. The guys who stood up to remonstrate with the terrorists would agree, except they’re all dead.
  5. In the imagined “gun-free zone,” even the most inept miscreant with a gun is king. We’ve seen ten clowns with rifles tie all Bombay in knots for days, and here’s a mass-casualty (and mass-headline-producing, the terrs’ metric) event caused by four shooters with minimal training and basic equipment.
  6. Kenya’s policy of issuing concealed carry licenses to trusted individuals worked to the benefit of all here. Contrary to popular expectation, the licensees worked well with each other and with the police. We hope Kenya will consider expanding the policy.
  7. An ad-hoc, self-organized response right here right now, is not only “not necessarily bad,” but might be a lot better than the perfect, coordinated SWAT raid an hour from now. (And as we’ve seen, the raid was not perfect and coordinated).
  8. Once your forces are on scene, there is no more reason for delay — only excuses and pretexts. To be sure, the murders of those people at the Westgate Mall were on the heads of as-Shabaab, but a significant number of the dead would have been surviving wounded with speedy and resolute action, which was lacking.
  9. The time to make sure your radios are interoperable is before the attack. If you haven’t done that, and Kenyans hadn’t, you can pretty much guarantee they won’t be, and they weren’t.
  10. Finally: don’t expect the security forces to investigate themselves after a cock-up of this magnitude. After the initial raid at Waco, the ATF leaders of the raid shredded their raid plan and lawyered up. After the final incendiary attack, the FBI destroyed mountains of evidence. So it should surprise no-one that the promised investigation of the Westgate attack has never materialized in Kenya. It won’t, and if it does, it will be an empty whitewash.

The source for this is a remarkable and thoroughly reported analysis in Foreign Policy by Kenya-based reporter Tristan McConnell. McConnell has pieced together this story from dozens of interviews with survivors, and his conclusions are bitter and blunt:

Far from a dramatic three-day standoff, the assault on the Westgate Mall lasted only a few hours, almost all of it taking place before Kenyan security forces even entered the building. When they finally did, it was only to shoot at one another before going on an armed looting spree that resulted in the collapse of the rear of the building, destroyed with a rocket-propelled grenade. And there were only four gunmen, all of whom were buried in the rubble, along with much of the forensic evidence.

During the roughly three-and-a-half hours that the killers were loose in the mall, there was virtually no organized government response. But while Kenyan officials prevaricated, an unlikely coalition of licensed civilian gun owners and brave, resourceful individual police officers took it upon themselves to mount a rescue effort. Pieced together over 10 months from more than three dozen interviews with survivors, first responders, security officers, and investigators, the following account brings their story to life for the first time since the horrific terrorist attack occurred exactly two years ago.

We haven’t seen such a remarkable job of forensic reporting since Mark Bowden’s series of newspaper reports that became the book, and later the Ridley Scott movie, Black Hawk Down. It is to be hoped that McConnell has book-length ambitions also; he certainly must have more human-interest details in his hours of interviews. Some pieces of the puzzle are lacking still (how did the attackers die?) but McConnell has done more to shed light on this disastrous failure of public policy and police response, as well as its aspects of human tragedy, than any five other writers.

More than a hat tip: our attention was called to this by fellow combat vet (in, we think we have this right, the SADF in the 80s) Peter Grant, who writes science fiction books in the spirit (and he’d probably admit, shadow) of Heinlein, and who blogs at Bayou Renaissance Man. Here is his post on Westgate.

Two Police Officers Murdered From Ambush, 2012

Dale Cregan court caseCriminal depravity is neither uniquely American nor anything new. But this is a particularly cold-blooded incident.

The two cops were lured to their doom by a burglary call that turned out to be a pretext for bringing them into their killer’s sights. Both of the officers were women — Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23. They were killed by gunfire — a lot of gunfire, 32 shots — and a grenade, all delivered in a single fusillade in about a half minute. And neither got a shot off. There’s a good reason for that: this happened in England, where most cops don’t go armed.

The creepy one-eyed killer, Dale Cregan, 29, made the hoax call and then as the two WPCs walked up the path to the door, opened the door and began blasting with a Glock handgun with an extended magazine. Of his 32 shots at point-blank range, five put WPC Hughes down and three more were fired into her head as she lay there. WPC Bone was also hit eight times; somewhere in there she managed to discharge the one, feeble, defensive weapon she had, a Taser.

cregans glock

We generally consider extended magazines like this an impractical gimmick on a handgun, although we admit to owning several (including Korean 50-round Glock drums) simply for the amusement value. With training, a mag change does not interrupt accurate fire significantly, but the extended mags (even Glock-brand extended mags, which are more reliable than knockoffs) increase the probability of a stoppage. But we suppose when it’s “British criminal rules” and you don’t have to fear return fire you can “go big” in the magazine department with relative impunity.

Cregan was already wanted for another gun-and-grenade murder, and it turned out he’d committed a fourth murder and multiple firearms assaults before that. The 29-year-old career felon had reportedly had his eye removed by members of a rival gang.

Britain’s vaunted gun control laws are so effective — handguns have been banned since 1996 there — that Cregan had no difficulty amassing an arsenal of approximately ten weapons, including the Glock, and automatic weapons. This did not count his stock of grenades, which were mostly Yugoslav models. The ones used in the 2012 killings were M-75s; after Cregan turned himself in to police, they found some of his grenades in a storm drain stash (the black ribbed bodies are M-75s. They use NATO-thread fuzes, IIRC).

cregans nades

Note that Britain not only has nationwide gun control, it’s an island, with a modern, First World police force and a short menu of ports and airports of entry. Every one of Cregan’s weapons originated outside the UK and passed through that border barrier as if it were nonexistent. Of course, as the lessons of Australia, the Philippines, and several other highly firearms-restrictive jurisdictions suggest, this result is foreseeable if not predictable.

When Cregan finally stood trial in 2013, nine other members of his gang were tried with him. He got a very rare life sentence, something English and Welsh jurisprudence is extremely loath to issue.

So tell us again how disarming the fox hunters and the Olympic pistol team prevents crime. Apparently Dale Cregan didn’t get the memo.

Hat tip, Guns n Freedom.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: RSS Feeds

Some of our favorite feeds, plus our own site, shown in our RSS reader.

Some of our favorite feeds, plus our own site, shown in our RSS reader.

This is not actually a website, but a technology, and it’s one that will help you keep abreast of as many sites as you think you need to follow.

It’s RSS, which stands for Real Simple Syndication, and it’s an invisible (to most users) technology that “pushes” every post from most blogs and sites to “subscribers.” Many people don’t use this technology; when it was first introduced it was somewhat fiddly, but nowadays it’s very easy and user friendly.

rss_feedsYou can view RSS feeds in your browser, or in a dedicated application. We use NetNewsWire, a for-pay ($10) app for Mac. It’s this simple: type the name of a site whose RSS feed you want to follow. NNW will then offer you the choice of available feeds. Most blogs let you subscribe to both posts and comments. We can’t imagine a circumstance in which we’d subscribe to comments: just the five sites on the left from our initial setup of NNW offer more posts a day than we can practically read all the time. And since then we’ve added three more site. So you can imagine how buried we’d be with comments. If you follow many more websites, you can organize the sites into folders for convenience.

Other RSS readers offer different feature sets. A great many of them are free. There are also web-based (as opposed to app-based) RSS readers like Feedly, and as we mentioned, you can set up RSS feeds in some browsers, such as Internet Explorer (if you’re stuck using that, you poor wretch).

First Documented Successful 3D Printed Revolver (&c.)

Yes, we’re still in early phases with additive-manufactured firearms, but the technology is coming along, as are the users.

Washbear. This is an early version with tension bars (in red on the cylinder, retained by the cylinder's black end caps).

Washbear. This is an early version with tension bars (in red on the cylinder, retained by the cylinder’s black end caps).

Big News: Working 3DP Revolver

Proof of firing video:

What you just saw was a 3D printed, legal, double-action-only revolver firing six shots of live ball ammunition. This is the culmination of a lot of effort by a lot of people, not least Yoshitomo Imura who is doing three years in an unpleasant Japanese slammer for firing blanks from his original design. Through many iterations, 3D revolver and pepperbox design has improved until it’s reached the current state of the art, which is called the PM522 Washbear.

FOSSCAD writes:

The PM522 Washbear DAO .22LR Revolver by James R. Patrick. AFTER YEARS OF TRIAL AND ERROR we have the WORLD’s FIRST 3DPRINTED DAO (Double Action Only) Revolver!!!!!!!! WOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOO! With the body of the Songbird Pistol and an Imura-esque Cylinder and trigger system, this baby hold 6 dataloving shots of 22LR made for consistent shooting with a removable cylinder for easy reload. OH YES WE CAN!!!!!!! We are refining the recipe and will be releasing CAD VERY SOON! For now we have a lovely test video proving that this baby works!!MOARGUNS!!

Washbear in its case. Cylinder is designed to be an expendable part.

Washbear in its case. Cylinder is designed to be an expendable part.

Patrick is an engineering student; his own site is purported to be here. However, access is blocked by our antivirus software: “Access has been blocked as the threat  Mal/HTMLGen-A has been found on this website.” We were able to view the text on the site by looking at the Google cache of the site.

washbear printed cylindersCylinders in particular received a lot of trial, error, and trial again. The initial cylinder design took 20 hours of printer time to produce. (Who was the wag that called this technology “rapid prototyping,” and where can we get a case of whatever he was drinking?). Another iteration (see the green cylinder in the upper left) used the 3D printed part as an outer shell and filled it with epoxy resin; this is the “fill compositing” technique developed by Belter and Dollar at Yale and published in PLOS ONE.

Design for the resin-filled cylinder.

Design for the resin-filled cylinder.

Best one so far has metal chamber liners. Here’s what Patrick says:

Here’s a summary of the different cylinders we’ve tried:

  • The original multi-part cylinder with tension rods didn’t hold up. It fired two shots and cracked on the third, which deformed the cylinder enough to jam the action. The tension rods actually sheared cleanly at the point where the bullet exits the casing.
  • So we tried making the tension rods thicker. On that version, the tension rods survived firing but the cylinder still cracked.
  • So then we tried my resin-filled ABS idea. That one fired six shots, but was too damaged to reuse.
  • So I made a version with no tension rods and I tightened up the headspace, hoping that the front and rear of the cylinder would contact the frame when fired and the frame would take the pressure. FP has printed this version in Taulman Bridge (a nylon filament) and it awaits testing. He also modified that design to accept steel chamber liners.

It was printed on a Rostock Max, a deltabot-style open-source printer that’s popular with hobbysists for its open-source nature, large print area, and reasonable cost.

Washbear frame printed on the Rostock Max.

Washbear frame printed on the Rostock Max.

Much more information at the IMGUR page, and in Patrick’s website, if he can get it de-malware’d. Anybody’s guess what government agency did it to him?

Body Cam Footage: How Not to Release It

We have said that dash and body cams, as much as they creep officers out, save a lot more cops’ skins than they put at risk. (On the other hand, the military approach, where the eye on your forehead is being watched in the FOB, in Tampa, or in DC and desk jockeys from all those zip codes are murmuring advice in your ear, is not so good). But having a recording of what cops do from their own point of view is a life- or at least career-saver, and a primo slayer of conspiracy theories.

That’s because most cops do follow their training in interaction with the public. While there may be times they err, being, loath as the public is to give them the credit sometimes, human, most of the time the video shows that the cop was in the right. And the story the suspect or his survivors cooked up of poor li’l Dindu Nuffin bein’ set upon by Da Man is, how shall we put this? Horse puckey.

So the best thing to do, when you have a clean shoot, is to release the video early and often. Let the it-bleeds-it-leads ghouls on local TV have their blood meal. Let the relatives’ story of a “police assassination” be compared to video of a snarling nut-job charging cops with a knife.

Or you can botch it completely like the New Hampshire Attorney General and the state Supreme Court did in the case of the suicide-by-cop of a mentally ill man, Hagen Esty-Lennon, who charged two Haverhill, NH cops, Greg Collins and Ryan Jarvis.

What they ultimately did, egged on by Dindu Nuffin’s wife who wants to pretend that her whackadoodle husband didn’t functionally kill himself, was release the videos with the actual shooting redacted. So all it shows is Hagen Esty-Lennon’s agitated, crazy behavior. Then during the shooting you have the audio of Esty-Lennon being ventilated by multiple shots from the cops’ Smith & Wessons.

And then lots of audio of the chaotic aftermath that’s commonplace after a shooting.

One of the videos is above. Three more are at the New Hampster Union Leader, which was forced to sue for the videos — while the Dindu Nuffin clan spread nonsense about how their guy was heartlessly gunned down. For no reason. And thanks mostly to the AG, the agitators have been handed a video that they can continue to claim shows a bad shoot.

Of course, the AG is one of those individuals who has much more sympathy for criminals and their families than for the cops who spend their days trying to keep a lid on these people.

It gets worse. The very redaction they demanded, they’re now using as “evidence” of a “cover-up.”

Facts we can tell from the video:

  1. The guy was acting irrationally
  2. The guy had a knife.
  3. The guy had previously injured himself with the knife (that’s what the red stain is).
  4. The guy threatened the cops with the knife.

Everything else is speculation. But there’s nothing here that makes Esty-Lennon look like anything but one of those wretches who’s out on the street only because there are just not enough rooms with neoprene wallpaper, nor any working mechanism to send the nut jobs there.

Someone’s Flogging His Big Johnson

Of course, you can’t have it if you’re in Libya, North Korea, New York, New Jersey or Massachusetts because it’s a big assault Johnson, but what it is, is a rare Johnson LMG kit, restored onto a semi Johnson M1941 rifle receiver, producing a legal semi-auto Johnson LMG. And you can have it — if you win the auction.

big Johnson 13

Manufactured on the original Johnson 1941 semi auto receiver , using original US GI LMG parts , semi auto only . Excellent condition , park. military finish ,mint original barrel , beautiful wood furniture. Test fired only. The gun fires , extracts and reloads 100% , very accurate. The gun comes with bipod and 3 magazines. Shipping to an FFL or C&R holder. The gun will be shipped from FFL in PA.

big Johnson 02

via 1941 Johnson LMG light machine gun semi m1941 : Semi Auto Rifles at

There are a number of these around. By “a number,” though, we’re probably talking about a single digit number. The parts kits are rare, and the rifles are valuable enough to collectors that it’s hard to make the case for sacrificing one.

Johnson guns get their collector cachet from their rarity1 and their use in training and combat by elite elements including the Paramarines, the Marine Raiders, the Canadian-American First Special Service Force (all ephemeral, hostilities-only WWII units), the OSS, and Brigada 2506, the Bay of Pigs invaders. The Marines and Cubanos only used the rifles; the FSSF, only the machine guns. Any surviving Johnson has some part of this history.

Because the Johnsons were not standard arms with standard doctrinal spare parts and maintenance support, they were withdrawn and replaced with US standard rifles and auto rifles/LMGs. Carefully packed away, all of them except for probable OSS/CIA stocks were surplused after the war.

We don’t know what it will go for. The current bid in the $8k neighborhood has not met the reserve (the rifles sell for $4k and up). Some comments, and the rest of the photos, after the jump.


  1. 30,000 Johnson M1941 rifles were made, a large percentage of which survive, but only about 3,000 were machine guns according to ATF Form 2s filed by Johnson Automatics. The Johnson M1944 machine gun appears to have been produced only in prototype quantities.

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Rifle Training, Fort Jackson, 1970s

OK, so there’s a new toy at the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library, and it’s a book scanner. First thing we tried to scan was a 1970s basic training “yearbook.” Like every student yearbook, it’s 95% stock content with 5% varying with each class, being the pictures of the current teachers and graduates. We did a hasty scan of the document, then edited out all the non-gun stuff.

1970s rifle training.pdf

So this is what M16A1 era basic training looked like on the only base that was, then, experimenting with integrated male/female training units. Check out the funny women’s uniforms — there was a female fatigue uniform which was made from the nylon stuff of late jungle fatigues and survived about two pressings, and female drill instructors wore a hideous knock off of an Australian bush hat. (Pretty sure women now wear the regular Smokey Bear hat).

Most of the troops attending basic at Jackson would go on to Combat Support and Combat Service Support jobs. Other bases trained Combat Arms (Infantry at Benning, Armor at Knox, Artillery at Sill). The Engineers trained at Fort Leonard Wood.

Rifle training was supposedly standardized across all training bases, and had several distinct phases or blocks of instruction:

  1. Mechanical training: operate, strip, clean, reassemble, and function-check the M16A1.
  2. Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM). Hold factors, sight picture, breathing, trigger, etc.
  3. Zero. Achieve a good battle-sight zero on the M16A1 with the Canadian Bull target.
  4. Field Firing. On a Trainfire (pop-up target) range, trainees practice shooting.
  5. Record Fire. On a Trainfire record fire range, engage targets from 50 to 300 meters.

After record fire, the green-fatigued troops could put a camouflage cover on their steel M1 helmets. The cover had a green side and a brown side, the brown side is seldom seen.

There were also familiarization fires such as NBC fire (5 or 10 rounds with a mask on), night fire (shot at day through light-limiting goggles — yes, really!), automatic fire from the bipod, and support weapons including the M60 (a few rounds) and the M72A1 LAW (for all but one or two lucky dogs per cycle, using the subcaliber device). Some of these are shown in the excerpt.

Yeah, the excerpt is rough. We’re still getting the hang of the scanner. Fujitsu SV600.

Mindset and Life

Deadliest weapon ever devised. Use yours.

Deadliest weapon ever devised. Use yours.

Mindset is life.

Or, sometimes, death.

Faced with a survival situation, some fight. Some flee. Some just freeze and wait to die or be saved by third party intervention. And some are not faced with this situation because they saw it coming and absented themselves. That is, in our opinion, the smartest thing to do if you don’t have to stand and fight. In order, the best outcomes are:

  1. A fight you never have;
  2. A fight you win without fighting;
  3. A fight you win, killing the enemy;
  4. A fight you win, wounding or scaring off the enemy.

The reason (4) is not as good as (3) is that you leave a possibility for revenge out there. Dead guys can’t seek revenge.

Indicators and Warnings

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero at Pearl Harbor. Illustration by Darryl Joyce. (Actually, we think he has the color wrong).

“Where did all those ^%^#*!! Japs come from?!?”.

Every time the national security bureaucracy is caught flatfooted, a rather frequent occurrence, reconsideration shows that there were was a sufficiency of Indicators & Warnings, I&W. They just weren’t read right, or interpreted, or they were ignored.

You don’t have to find big screwups like Pearl Harbor, the Chinese entry into the Korean War, or 9/11, to find examples of ignored I&Ws. Consider two individuals whose demise was reported in these pages in the last few months: a young man in Maine who blew his head off with fireworks, and a young man (hmmm… first indication of a pattern?) in coastal Texas whose last words were, reportedly, “F the gator!” Yes, he was warned about a large alligator in his chosen swimming hole, and yes, he ignored the warning, and yes, the gator killed him. Likewise, the Maine decedent’s friends warned him that setting off a large fireworks mortar on his head was A Bad Idea.

They didn’t heed the indicators.

That’s the biggest problem with human beings and I&W, even when the I&W is pretty obvious: “Hey, setting off an explosion on your brain housing group might be a bad idea,” or “There’s a man-eatin’ gator over yonder.” And the I&W is not that obvious, always. People hear hoofbeats and they’re not looking for zebras.

The US is not the only nation to be get caught napping like this. A couple of patrolling Zekes formed up on two B-25s one sunny morning off the coast of Honshu, and, not believing their eyes, convinced themselves they were looking at two experimental Imperial Japanese Army bombers they’d been told about — and let two of Doolittle’s Raiders go on to bomb Tokyo. That was fair payback for the Air Corps lieutenant three and a half months earlier, who, knowing that some B-17s were inbound, told some radar operators not to worry about what looked like a 50-plane raid on Oahu. Didn’t heed the indicators.

Some indicators are transient, some are durable, some are eternal. Obviously the Kaga and Akagi air wings on Pearl Harbor’s radar is a transient indicator. A durable one? Certain neighborhoods’ reputations. There were four fatal opiate ODs in our little county last weekend, in two separate towns. All four of them happened in streets that would have come up in discussion if you asked a town cop, “If someone OD’d here in your town, exactly where would you find the stiff?” If you’re not looking for hard drugs, you probably don’t want to go to those places, even in these very safe (generally speaking) towns.

The character of a neighborhood only changes over time, and with a change of people. When a neighborhood is improved, it’s not because they built shiny new buildings or added street lamps. It’s because they removed (or the cost of living in a shiny new building removed) the people who made the neighborhood bad.


“The superior person uses his superior judgment so as not to have to make a vulgar display of his superior skills.” This has long been a saying among pilots, but we’ve torqued it to fit a more general set of superior persons.

In interpersonal conflict, judgment is displayed best by the party that seeks to avoid, evade, and escape the conflict, and only goes to the gun (or lead pipe, or barstool, whatever) when the evasion phase has failed.

In analyzing any conflict, certain inflection points are evident (in hindsight!) where better judgment might have defused the situation or deflected the juggernaut before the collision point. Consider the George Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon Martin. There’s no question that the evidence shows that George was in the right by any measure of morality or law when he plugged Trayvon (and made one small contribution to the cause of fighting future prison overcrowding in Florida). But if you mentally “walk” the scene with George, you can see some of these inflection points, even if he didn’t, at the time.  Once the fight started, of course, he had no choices except to take the beating and roll the dice on personal death or serious inury on the one hand, or use force to stop it on the other.

And, while we haven’t spoken to the man, we have no doubt that, in retrospect, George Zimmerman would have rather avoided his fight with Trayvon Martin than, as happened, won it; his victory was the very definition of a Pyrrhic one. His life will never be the same again and he will never be free from intrusive, hostile reporters (who continue to report a false narrative and vilify Zimmerman to this day).

And that’s a case of a guy who won an unnecessary but desperate, life-stakes fight. The guys who lost are not available to tell us what they wish they had done.

We recall that instructor John S. Farnam had (and has, he’s still working) several pithy ways of saying this, but the best fight is the one that doesn’t happen. (Farnam is hardly the only one with such a message. It’s as old as Sun Tzu).

Mindset & Judgment Can be Learned

To an extent, anyway. We’re not as confident as the Army is that it can teach anybody pretty much anything, but we do believe that anyone can, by a process of analysis leading to mental and physical drills, improve his mindset and therefore his or her odds of survival.

These odds of survival are improved by training to hone your skills and survive an armed encounter, but they’re improved more by using your superior judgment so as not to have to make a vulgar display of your superior skills. Too few people do the former, and far too few people do the latter. (A lot of cops who are involved in shootings are just unlucky. But there are others, where none of their cop friends are surprised they were in a shooting. Why do you think that is?)

Most of us are not cops, and not soldiers (any more), and therefore, do need to saddle up and go into places where you’re likely to be engaged by gunfire. So here’s our version of some guidelines for fight avoidance:

  1. Carcharodon carcharias: business end of a healthy one.

    Carcharodon carcharias: business end of a healthy one.

    Don’t swim where the sharks feed. Yes, home invaders can come to suburbia, but most criminals live in poor, lousy neighborhoods and prey on each other as well as the majority of non-criminals who have the bad fortune to live there, too. If you live there, leave. If you go there, stop.

  2. If you must go where the sharks feed — you may have reasons; we had a friend whose elderly mother would not leave her house in South Central LA until the Rodney King riots burned it down and settled the question for her — don’t look like bait. Don’t act timid, walk boldly with your head up, like you belong there — and are the baddest mother in the valley. Also, don’t flash stuff that is irresistibly attractive to the sort of people who have been listening to TV and therefore think they’re entitled to take it from you.
  3. When you have to go into the badlands, take a lesson from the cops and don’t walk alone. If you can’t help looking like prey (maybe you’re small, or elderly person), bring a buddy who looks intimidating if you can.
  4. Don’t get distracted. This is the wrong time to be facebooking, texting or reading on your jeezly phone. In fact, it’s the wrong time to be taking calls. You need to be 100% in the analog world. We don’t know what the percentage of mugging victims in NYFC and San Francisco is, who had their ear buds in, but we’d take a guess it’s fairly high.
  5. Be conscious of concealment. Don’t give anyone the chance to ambush you.
  6. Manage the Clock. Most criminals stay up late and sleep late, too. If you have unavoidable business in their precincts, do it at seven o’clock in the morning when they’re down for the count, not at midnight when they’re just warming up.
  7. Be conscious of the fact that you may have to be ready, and always be ready to deliver a violent counterstrike.
  8. Work on avoidance, but once avoidance fails you should immediately execute a drilled, conscious plan. Strike hard and decisively. (George Z. got this bit exactly right, and every day’s life he has now, he only has because he did).
  9. If you err, and are attacked, act. Save regrets and recriminations for later.


Tam has commented on this at her indispensable blog, with some references to an earlier post of hers that made many of these same points, and one more important one. Go thither. Read that. Return smarter. That is all.