Category Archives: Weapons Education

A Side You Might Not Know of a Company You Do

If you think you know Beretta Defense Technologies, the professionals’ side of the 15th-Century gunmaker… do you recognize this?

trg-m10-bolt-action-sniper-rifle-rifle-scope-folding-rear-stock-desert-tan

That state-of-the-art looking sniper rifle is a Sako TRG M10 bolt-action sniper rifle, availble in the three most common Western sniper chamberings: 7.62 NATO/.308 Win; .300 Win Mag; and .338 Lapua Mag. Beretta says this about that:

The TRG M10 is a bolt-action sniper rifle that is available in multiple calibers, manually operated and shoulder-fired, as well as magazine-fed. It has a high-capacity magazine and fully adjustable stock that make it a multi-functional system in a single weapon, suitable for many different situations. The M10 sniper weapon transforms from a compact medium range precision tool into a full-bodied sniper platform capable of engaging targets out to 1500 m and beyond–in minutes and virtually without tools.

Currently TRG M10 offers three different calibers (.308 Win, .300 Win Mag, and .338 Lapua Mag) and all these in multiple barrel lengths. Each of the calibers feature a high-capacity magazine. There are also three standard color options to select from: Stealth Black, Military Green, and Coyote Brown.

The folding stock shown on this example is an option. And the M10 is far from the only BDT sniper rifle; there are four separate sniper product lines, ranging from a light law enforcement Tikka T3 in .223 up to this Goliath in .338 LM.

That’s one of the things we learned stooging around Beretta Defense Technologies’ new website  today. BDT represents several other Beretta-owned brands including Benelli, Sako (as above), and Steiner (Optics).

Of course, Beretta has a whole line of pistols, for which it’s probably best known in the USA, as well as several carbines.

Aside — We’ve never understood why so many are eager to badmouth the M9. It deserved its selection, given the competition at the time, and back in the 1980s when they selected it we were very pleased. (Some military units had already jumped the gun and been using them, bought with a forerunner of MFP-11 money). Yes, there was the debacle of the locking blocks, and that shook the gun’s reputation badly. But once they got over that, M9s were back to running really, really realiably).

It’s almost as if familiarity with the M9 has bred contempt. And in some people, it’s such great contempt that they don’t even consider more modern weapons, like the PX4 or the new striker-fired APX.

End of Aside.

It is a mystery to us, as well, why Beretta’s rifle- and pistol-caliber carbines haven’t gained more sales.

Finally, the BDT website is a gateway into Beretta’s armorer courses, conducted at Beretta HQ in the People’s Republic of Maryland, or at various agency sites nationwide.

If You’re in Your 20s… Enjoy the Golden Age (and the CZs).

In a brief pretty much just-the-facts report on CZ-USA’s new Skorpion and Bren carbines, which followed the pistol versions to market by over a year, we saw this gem of insight, at a new site we like, 55 Grain Productions (one of the guys there is converting to CZ from Glock, so they’re men after our own heart):

15z_CZScorpionEVO3S1Carbine_R

If you’re in your 20’s reading this, consider yourself lucky. You’re in a Golden Age of firearm availability, we couldn’t get cool toys like this when I was a kid.

via 55grain Productions :: CZ launches Scorpion and Bren rifles.

A Brief Aside on Import Laws & Regulations

The import laws are profoundly irrational, and the ATF regulations implementing those laws add another layer of irrationality. (Although, in defense of the ATF, they have to work with the black letters of the statute). But by 2016, sophisticated importers like CZ-USA, FN-USA, Beretta, and others, have found work-arounds for most of the craziness in the law.

Irrationality in the application? Yes, for about a year CZ was still working to get a carbine Skorpion Evo approved, but you  could SBR a pistol on a Form 1 with no drama, just the usual ATF delay. In essence, it’s a tax of several hundred dollars (tax + cost of SBR engraving) on the guy who wants to own the semi version of the light Skorpion Evo SMG, and not wait for CZ-USA to jump through all the ATF hoops and get a 16″ rifle version approved. (In fact, we think you could always get a factory SBR on a Form 4, which were stocked for LE sales, is we’re not mistaken).

Irrationality in the law itself? Consider that one part of the two-legged law in question was called The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and the other leg, The Gun Control Act of 1968, was also sold as a crime control measure by its sponsors.

Question for the reader: How many imported semi-auto firearms with prices in the four figures or high three figures turn up in the hands of criminals?

Question two: How many of those were acquired in lawful commerce?

Don’t take our word for it. Almost everybody knows a cop or a Fed, or will meet one. Just ask the question: what kind of guns do violent criminals get bagged with? Based on our experience asking that same question, it will boil down to, “Cheap and/or stolen handguns.”

The law seemed rational at the time, to some people, but we’ve seen it proven out as, at best, orthogonal to crime control.

Back to our Main Point: What Generation Are You in?

OK, if you’ve borne with us through the long digression on Evos and Brens and the law, let’s talk about the insight in the little quote above.

We couldn’t get cool toys like this when I was a kid

That betrays the author as someone born in the 80s or 90s, who grew up when the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban cast its pall over civilians’ armament choices. Like the 1968 GCA (the term which combines the two 1968 restrictions), the 1994 law banned classes of weapons, and it also banned standard-capacity magazines, and imposed a new wave of regulations on an unwitting public, ostensibly for crime control. Its purpose shows in its Orwellian name, The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, while it was punitive to recreational firearms use,

Unlike the GCA, though, the 1994 law had a 10-year sunset clause; it vanished from the statute books in 2004, having provided a natural longitudinal experiment in what happens to Crime Control and Public Safety when you ban a class of firearms that are almost never used in crime: nothing.

The result was this: people have different experiences of the guns available, depending on when they received their youthful, formative experience.

  • 1962 ThunderbirdIf you grew up in the 1950s or 1960s, your experience was a mainstream gun culture focused on hunting and formal, bullseye target shooting; Gun Culture was Elmer Fudd Culture. NTTAWWT. There was a subculture of collectors of many different kinds, and normal firearms were available to them in shops but also from auctioneers and from mail order surplus vendors. Gun rights were only a matter of discussion towards the end of this period, and licensed concealed carriers did not exist in most states of the Union.
  • http://www.autogaleria.hu -If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, you grew up in a gun culture that was on the defensive  from attacks by well-organized and -funded gun-ban groups that represented a very broad sector of public opinion. But it was evolving in new ways, with increased popularity of military-style rifles, practical pistol competitions and the first three-gun competitions (which were rifle, pistol, and submachine gun), and states making the first tentative moves towards liberalized “shall issue” concealed carry regulations. These laws had always existed here and there, and Vermont had never required licenses, but the floodgates opened when Florida went shall-issue, and the gun-ban groups’ dire auguries of doom went unrealized).\
  • Corvette Z06If the 1980s was the inflection point where the allies began to advance against the anti-gun axis, the axis’s high point came in the 1990s and Oughts, with the Bush import ban of 1989 and Clinton gun ban of 1994 setting the firearms market (and firearms technology) back about a decade. But that high point was like a ballistic vertex: the anti axis had been coasting for a while, and it was all downhill from here. But if you grew up in these years, in the gun culture, you could be excused for thinking the best days were behind you.
  • 2016 Dodge ViperSo far, we don’t know what people will write about the Twenty-Teens in the warm glow of hindsight. But if you’re young today, and growing up in the gun culture, it looks to us like you’re living in a golden age.

Where we stand now is on the shoulders of giants whose names you might know, like John Moses Browning, Peace Be Unto Him, and names you might not, like Neal Knox. It is up to us to take those legacies forward, on the fronts of both technology and freedom: the better to honor those who came before us.

One last thought: we’ve used cars to mark the decades. We might have chosen better; that’s a 2016 Viper, but maybe the Viper’s more an icon of the 90s, for example. (It’s hard to think of a better marker for the tasteless 1970s than a chicken-chested ’79 Trans Am, though). But car culture people, too, have seen their fortunes wax and wane through the years. If you grew up in the 1950s and 60s, you expected every year to bring you new and better cars. In the 1970s and 80s, that was tossed on its head through a dismal succession of massive Lincoln Mark Crapboxes, chintzy Chrysler K-Cars, and BMWs that self-destructed around warranty’s end, as if there was a time bomb in there. If you grew up then, you expected that between the NHTSA, the insurance companies, and Ralph Nader, that each year’s cars would be worse than the previous one’s. Yet now, incredible machinery that sixties road-racers couldn’t have dreamed of sits in your local showroom.

And you know, a lot of the same people that tried to strangle cars with character want to take your guns away, too.

Bubba the Pistolsmith

Can you put a HK p2000 slide on an HK45?

Uh, no.

Wait, what if the HK45 is an airsoft toy?

No. Double no.

Bubba's HK

Posted on Imgur and on Reddit:

p2000 9mm slide stuck on airsoft hk45 receiver, wont come off, what do i do>???

He asked for help, but didn’t wait for it. Instead, he forged on furiously. As you might expect, his solution to boneheadedness was MOAR BONEHEAD.

Bubba's HK after

UPDATE: I FIXED IT, well more like ripped the lower receiver apart. Everythings fine on the p2k except the o ring, got a little stab wound from the knife, but the hk45 gbb is destroyed, Lesson WELL LEARNED :DD

via NEED HELP – Imgur.

Then, another aspect of the Supreme Godhead of Bozosity that is the immortal Bubba attempted a similar kitbash, of two Glocks. At least they were both real Glocks and neither was a toy. But they were almost equally incompatible, and once again, the Frankengun got stuck.

G34 meets G26

The two donors are a Glock 26 (frame and slide) and Glock 34 (barrel). There’s a reason Glock sells you a whole replacement gun, not just a barrel and slide, when you want to make large changes in barrel length.

This particular Bubba got his Frankengun apart without having to destroy it. So there is that.

When CMP Got Some Carbines In…

…they sold out. In one day. Twice.

Let us explain that. They sent a message on 28 January to their mailing list:

Monday, February 1, we will begin accepting orders for a limited number of M1 Carbines for mail order. Two grades will be available, Service and Field. They include the following manufacturers; Inland, Winchester, IBM, Quality Hardware, Saginaw, Standard Product and Underwood. The manufacturer you receive will be luck of the draw, please no requests. Each customer is limited to one total Carbine this year. You will not be allowed to purchase both a Service and Field Grade. You may put down your first choice and second choice.

cmp_m1_carbine

We DO NOT time stamp orders, we only date stamp them. All orders received the same day are put in one basket. Please do not call about your order. If information is needed for your order, our sales department will contact you. Be sure to complete the checklist for the order before you send it in. Questions about orders already in-house slow down our processing which means it takes longer to send out the end product. If your payment method is a check, we will not deposit your check until your order is processed. However, some orders may go on backorder. You will be contacted prior to depositing your check should your order be placed on a backorder list. To be placed on the backorder list, you must have a form of payment with your order.

There were two grades available, in a quantity of a few dozen each. (Images below are of a Service and Field grade carbine, but these rarer Saginaw-made firearms came from the CMP auction site).

M1 Carbine Service Grade: R017SERVICE $685/each Free S&H

M1 carbine saginaw service grade

Carbines may have been rebuilt and refinished at least once and will exhibit, in most cases, varying degrees of wear on many parts and generally nosignificant pitting on metal. Metal parts are mixed USGI. While all Carbines are USGI, some may have foreign markings. Muzzle may gauge 3 or less on muzzle gauge. Stocks may be replacement marked M2 type birch, beech pot belly or USGI walnut, but may have seen heavy use with possible rebuild or other markings. Each carbine will be shipped with an empty chamber indicator, CMP Safety Manual and a CMP reprint of FM23-37. The Carbine is also shipped in a CMP hard rifle case.

NOTE: Carbines will not be sold or shipped with magazines, slings or oilers.

M1 Carbine Field Grade: R017FIELD $625/each Free S&H

M1 carbine saginaw field grade

Carbines may have been rebuilt and refinished at least once and will exhibit, in most cases, varying degrees of wear on many parts. Bores may have some heavy pitting and exterior finish may show significant wear and surface pitting. Metal parts are mixed USGI. While all carbines are USGI, some may have foreign markings. Muzzle may gauge 3 or more on muzzle gauge. Stocks may be replacement marked M2 type birch, beech pot belly or USGI walnut, but may have seen heavy use with possible rebuild or other markings or repairs. Each carbine will be shipped with an Empty Chamber Indicator, CMP Safety Manual and a CMP reprint of FM23-37. The Carbine is also shipped in a CMP hard rifle case.

NOTE: Carbines will not be sold or shipped with magazines, slings or oilers.

They received enough complete orders (with eligibility information and payment) to cover all the carbines they had, except for a few dozen they’d reserved for in-store sales.

Note that we don’t have a dog in this fight, as we didn’t read any of these messages until after the sell-out had occurred.

So then they put the remainder… under 70 M1 carbines… out in their two stores at Anniston, AL (the Talladega Marksmanship Park) and Port Clinton, OH (Camp Perry) yesterday.

CMP M1 Carbine Release in CMP Stores

M1 Carbines will be released in our stores in Anniston, Alabama, and Port Clinton, Ohio, on Thursday, February 4. Since our mail orders sold out in one day, we thought it would be wise to notify our store customers that there will be less than 35 full M1 Carbines in each store. This is the extremely limited quantity referenced in our previous email. They will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. No rifles will be held. Please bring all necessary paperwork with you to the store. No agent purchases.

There may be someone who got a carbine in the store, and already had his paperwork in for a mail-order carbine, in which case he gets the one he picked out in the store, and his mail-order paperwork is void, and someone gets plucked off the back-order list. Other than that:

CMP’S Carbine Inventory has been exhausted and we do not expect to receive any additional shipments.

Expect many of them to appear on GunBroker at a $400-600 markup, CMP’s small contribution to the neckbeard contingent, which otherwise would only be able to survive on the profits of .22LR arbitrage.

CMP does have a few premium (condition, or rarity) carbines that were culled from the pack, including an M1A1, that they offer on their auction site.

Inland M1A1 Carbine

Note that the prices get high (here’s a carbine bayonet that’s into the hundreds with eight days yet to go in the auction). With eight days to go, this M1A1 is over $2k (it will likely wind up much higher than that).

Inland M1A1 Carbine 2 Inland M1A1 Carbine 3

It’s also worthwhile to look at the auction site to see what top-notch carbines and Garands are going for, and what CMP’s Service and Field grades look like.

See what we have to look forward to on the 1911s?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Archive.org

198We’re a little late on this one, and a little brief. But this site came up in a search, and we think we have not referenced it here before. (Yes, we didn’t search our own site to see. Shame…)

Did you know you can find a great deal of interesting stuff on Archive.org? For instance, here’s our little search for “Arms Production” and its first few hits among the documents archived there.

archive.org

A couple of those look tempting… and that’s the problem with Archive.org, is it’s a colossal time suck. We did find what we were looking for (text of a recent SF training circular, which did suck just as much as we remembered it did) But we also found that 1987 thesis on arms production in Venezuela1948 and 1949 documents from the National Military Establishment R&D Board; TM 9-2210 Small Arms Accidents, Malfunctions & Causes, 1942 (describes what causes typical accidents in the M1903 and M1917 rifles, the Browning .30 LMG and the M1917 revolver); a Britsh paper on Small Arms Manufacture, 1865, complete with some description of both the mechanics and the economics concerned….

…and yeah, all this stuff is free. You can read it on the site, or download it in one of many formats (.pdf, .mobi, .epub, etc.).

And that’s just the Documents. There’s also the Videos, and we haven’t even gotten to those yet!

So you see why we’re not really alarmed by the possibility of this W4 being a double-tap. If we used this once before, fine and good. It’s that interesting.

Here’s a Different Retro AR-15

The first thing we’re going to say is: it’s pretty. It’s meant to be a stylish upgrade to the Vietnam-era rifle, but it diverges from that not just cosmetically (with the beautiful walnut furniture and decent Cerakote job), but mechanically (with a heavy barrel, late-style generic lower, and .223 Wylde chamber). It’s styled after the XM16E1/M16A1 style gun that was used by the ground combat services in 1965-67.

AR-15 retro wood 04

It’s a gun that’s meant to be fun to shoot and to give an impression of an early AR — or as the seller puts it, a “resto-mod.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it comes from the 1990s California classic car scene, where outfits like Mustangs Plus (whose Ron Bramlett, we believe, coined the term “restomod”) would do a cosmetic restoration on a classic car, while upgrading its systems to late 20th-Century standards of safety, convenience and performance with things like disc brakes, air conditioning, five- and six-speed transmissions, and fuel injection.

This is a “resto-mod” build using an authentic Vietnam era m-16 upper receiver, front sight assembly, and bayonet. The lower is a new Delaware Machine AR-15 mil-spec receiver.”

“Delaware Machinery” and “mil-spec” are only passingly acquainted. The DM lowers can be in tolerance, out of tols high, or out of tols low, and sometimes things that should be square are a few degrees off. Most of them do go together alright, and if they don’t, it’s usually just a matter of custom fitting. Still, that’s the other end of the pool from a prestige lower.

One good thing is that there are no large logos on the magwell with this firm’s lowers.

AR-15 retro wood 02

Everything on the Rifle has been Cerakoted except for springs, detents, and the buffer. The wood stock furniture is real American Black Walnut. The receivers, sight base, compensator, and bayonet grips are a blend of Cerakote Graphite Black and Burnt Bronze. The rest of the parts are Graphite Black. Having all parts Cerakoted dramatically reduces friction which means less oil, less fouling, and less cleaning. The rifle has been pre-broken-in and burnished with Sentry Solutions Smooth-Kote. The rifle comes with the bayonet, bayonet sheath, 3 magazines, and a padded soft rifle case.

It is a nice looking rifle. If you only want one sort-of-retro AR, and you don’t think $1,800 buy it now is too much (we don’t know where the reserve is on this auction), maybe it’s for you.

There are numerous departures from retro “restored,” notably the heavy barrel with it’s .750 diameter through the front sight base (instead of the period-correct .675)

One good thing about this build is that the seller (and presumed builder) is providing comprehensive information about the firearm.

Everything is new EXCEPT the UPPER RECIEVER, FRONT SIGHT BASE, SIGHTS, CHARGING HANDLE, BAYONET, and SCABBARD. These parts are deemed to be authentic Vietnam era parts due to their design and forging marks “C H” on the upper receiver. “C H” stands for Colt Harvey forging (Harvey being the forging company used by Colt for the early m16 rifle). It should be noted that all of the components came to me as a complete upper half, which was in pretty poor condition, at the time, requiring the need for an overhaul. As can be seen from the pictures, you can tell the upper has been through a lot; there are dings all over. All parts were thoroughly degreased, sharp raised edges filed down, blasted smooth, and then coated with Cerakote H series finish. Below are the details on individual parts which were used on this build.

AR-15 retro wood 03

RRA Parts Kit
RRA Carrier with Chromed bolt (Also Cerakoted)
RRA National Match 2-stage semi-auto trigger
Stainless Steel Firing pin and Cam Pin
JP Enterprises® 3.5 lb trigger spring kit
KNS Perma Pin
HBAR Match Grade Chromoly Barrel 20″ 1 in 8″ twist .223 Wylde chamber
Bushmaster® rifle length Buffer and spring
M1918 leather sling
Walnut stock set from Black Guns Wood

AR-15 retro wood 01

via Custom retro AR-15 Wood Stock rifle with bayonet : Semi Auto Rifles at GunBroker.com.

Again, only you know if this is right for you.

And Now for a Bit of Philosophy

The gun is well done; it’s not a Bubba job. But one wonders if some day we will regret these sort of restomods as much as we regret the amateurish and ugly hack jobs that generations of Bubbas have inflicted on Mausers and, now, Mosins. We’ve been meaning to write about this but Tam posted a link to McThag’s impassioned jeremiad (hmmm… was there ever a jeremiad that was not “impassioned”? Methinks we adjective too much) about hack jobs on, specifically, Mosins.

I am sick of seeing Bubba rape kiv/27’s. I am sick of seeing Remington and NEW [New England Westinghouse — rare WWI contract guns. -Ed.) receivers drilled and tapped. I am sick of seeing US marked M1915 stocks shortened and cut for Timney triggers.

Far too often, Bubba makes changes he can’t reverse. Regret comes 20 years later when the supply of old guns dries up and the crufflers start fighting over what’s left. The Mosin that’s $240 on Gunbroker now was $150 last year. It was $70 five years before that.

Already modded guns are listed on Gunbroker for less than $500, and there’s no bidders. In Econ 101, we call that a market indicator.

That made us look at this site, where a Bubba enabler suggests committing all kinds of crude butchery on unsuspecting Russian service rifles.

At one point, he suggests you put your Mosin in a cheap plastic imitation of a sniper chassis stock, because “the look is incredible” (of course) and to save weight. Except the stock he recommends weighs more than the typical birch stick Ivan used, back in the day.

Q: What’s the value of a $150 Mosin in a $140 stock with a $80 muzzle brake and a $30 saw-off-bolt-on 90º bolt handle?

A: About $50.

And that’s why we’re of two minds about the whole Retro Black Rifle Restomod thing. We do believe that well-done smithing has its value, but when collectors enter a market everything takes third place to originality and condition. Now, no gun built from a “parts kit” extracted from a rare Class III weapon is going to be truly original, and an original retro AR is, thanks to the market distortions introduced by a Jersey grifter named Hughes, priced out of the range of most who would like one. So the market is a chaotic mess from the jump.

And with that, we think we’ve argued ourselves around to a position. To wit: it’s everyone’s right to customize their own property any way that suits ’em. We would hope that these customizations were done professionally (like this one), and added real value (like the creator of this one thinks he has done, from the asking price); and that Bubba entertains himself hot-rodding lawn tractors or building a Hemi Gremlin or something. But we can’t stop you from doing whatever you want to do, and we wouldn’t want to live in a world where we could.

And with that, we reserve the right to continue to condemn the actions, abilities and ancestry of Bubba the Gunsmite and all his legions. Fair?

Mold-Your-Own Plastic Lower

Here’s something new, a kit to mold your own plastic AR-15 lower receiver, from AR15Mold.com.

freedom15_group_v3_ar15mold.com_102115_2910x1245_970_415__56758

Here’s what the kit looks like, with some cleaned-up receivers. It produces a 100%, ready to assemble receiver, as soon as it’s extracted from the mold and the mold flash is removed (The flash is visible in the purple and black receivers in the image above; mold flash should be familiar to anyone who built plastic models, a once-popular boyhood hobby). If you look closely, you can see that the toolmarks in the mold are replicated in every produced receiver. It’s unclear without examining one whether the mold is machined directly from plastic (perhaps nylon) or whether it is injection-molded itself.

ar15mold_kit_with_output

The parts you make with this kit are not injection-molded, they are cast. What’s the difference? Injection-molding is done with heat to melt a thermoplastic (or thermosetting) and pressure to force the plastic in and air out of the mold. (Sometimes it is done in vacuum). Casting is done at ambient or near-ambient pressure and temperature, using gravity to fill the mold. (Some casting is done with an assist from centrifugal force, but not in this case). AR15Mold.com does suggest heating its two-part resins to approximately 100ºF for pouring into the mold. Complete instructions come with the kit, which costs about $360 with enough resin for five lowers.

The lowers accept mil-spec uppers and internals, with some caveats. The buffer tower is longer along its X (longitudinal) axis for more strength, making a fixed, rifle stock impractical without an alternative buffer retaining pin retainer. The part is also molded at the top limit of milspec (right on the +.003 tolerance line) for a tight fit, which is okay if your upper’s mating surfaces are +0/-.003 (or minus even a little more, at the price of some rattle). If your upper’s mating dimensions are on the plus side of the tolerances, you’ll need to do some hand fitting.

The bare molds look like this, but something is missing:

ar15mold_kit_minus_small_parts

The element that is missing is the inserts. You see, a complex part like an AR lower can’t simply be molded using a two-sided mold. That’s because it has some areas that are “blind” to the sides of the mold, or “undercut” from the point of view of that side. These blind, undercut areas require inserts that, in effect, extend the mold into the “blind” area, but are removable to allow the molded part to be removed. This picture shows the “small parts” of the AR15Mold.com “Freedom 15” kit, including the “inserts” (which are white).

ar15mold_kit_small_parts

The white “inserts,” clockwise from top center, include the trigger pocket, the buffer tower (if you embiggen the picture, you can see it bears a negative impression of the threads required here), the bolt catch slot and pin, the magazine well, the mold plug, the bolt catch detent pocket, the two inserts for the two sides of the magazine release, etc., etc.

It is possible to break some of these inserts if one were to gorilla-grip them during demolding. It pays to watch all the videos before making a lower.

No mold release compound is used or required with this combination of materials, although some wax on the pins is helpful. The  casting approaches we have covered previously have used RTV cast molds, and using of mold release compound has been crucial.

For the novice at casting, the how-to videos located on the website’s video page and on the company’s YouTube channel walk you through every step. The one that is likely to be most useful to kit buyers is called “Tips and Best Practices.” Another one shows them gingerly inching an F-150 onto a bare receiver. You can see the temporary deformation of the magazine well, but the receiver survived with no lasting damage.

That inspired Angus McThag (whom we thank for discovering this firm and its kit) and his friend Marv to conduct their own torture test, with a Mazda pickup (a Ford Ranger that identifies as Japanese) at 30 miles per hour.

We are reminded of the statement made in the ARMold video that they’re not claiming their receiver is indestructible. Good thing they’re not; McThag would take it as a challenge.

The manufacturer has already demonstrated reinforcing a lower with a steel insert and fiberglass.

There is now no earthly excuse for not making your own AR-15 lower, if you want to try, and live in a jurisdiction where it’s legal, which includes most (but not all!) of the United States. The methods include (in descending order of antiquity):

  1. Manual or CNC Milling from a raw forging;
  2. Manual or CNC Milling from billet;
  3. Manual or CNC Milling to complete a partially finished alloy receiver blank (aka “80% lower”);
  4. 3D printing a plastic receiver of PLA, ABS or Nylon, among other materials;
  5. 3D printing a plastic pattern of PLA, and lost-PLA-casting the receiver;
  6. Manual or CNC Milling to complete a partially finished polymer receiver blank;
  7. CNC Milling to complete a partially finished alloy receiver with the GhostGunner micro mill;
  8. 3D printing parts of a plastic receiver and gluing them together;
  9. 3D printing parts of a plastic “bolt” receiver and bolting them together;
  10. Cold-resin casting a lower using a mold taken from another lower; and, now,
  11. Cold-resing casting a lower using this kit.

We note that the resin casting has been done before; indeed, we’ve reported on it before. What ARMold.com has done is to provide a practical and complete kit for doing this. They have submitted to Firearms Technology Branch of the ATF for a determination letter; this may take some time, but it’s highly probable the determination letter will be forthcoming, because, frankly, nothing they send you can be plausibly defined as “a firearm” within the specific language of the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended.

We also note that the more recent methods, near the bottom require fewer resources and less skill than the old “take this orthotopic rectangular cuboid of alloy and mill off everything that doesn’t look like an AR lower” approach. In other words, the trendline is towards lowered cost and difficulty.

The “Maker” spirit so animates the hobby gunsmithing community now, that it probably can’t be overcome. You can’t stop the signal, Mal.

 

Classification of Automatic Weapons Actions

Chinn used this chart in 1942 (it’s in Part X in Volume 4, and can be read or downloaded at this link — warning, it’s a monster .pdf). In it, he classifies the actions of the machine guns he knew:

chinn_machine_gun_systems

His choice of classifications is interesting, and he includes some designs that are not machine guns (Webley-Fosbery, Williams floating chamber). But he doesn’t include everything, if only because he drew this up some three-quarters of a century ago, and designers haven’t been idle.

What’s missing, and why?

The first thing we note is that externally powered MGs are not on the list, but then, he does define “automatic machine gun” as “A weapon capable of sustained fire with its operating energy being derived wholly from the force generated by the explosion of the propellant charge.” That’s a reasonable definition, although we’d quibble about “explosion” and perhaps substitute “combustion,” and it excludes both the then-obsolete mechanical machine guns like Gatling, Nordenfeldt and Gardner, and the then-unimagined powered gatlings of the 1950s and beyond.

The next absence is the direct impingement gas system. At the time, it either had just gone into service, or was just about to go into service, in Sweden in the Ljungman AG42, which had been in development only for about a year before its issue. Of course, the direct-impingement system is best known to us today through the Stoner AR variant, which works completely differently (having a de facto gas chamber inside the bolt carrier), and secondarily through the French MAS-49 and MAS-49/56 rifles.

What else is Chinn missing? Is there truly nothing else new under the sun in threescore years and ten?

The FBI Trickles Out Some Video from Oregon

This is coming out selectively, and at a pace that indicates that they are basically happy with how this happened. However, the aerial video makes one thing clear: how eyewitnesses can claim that LeVoy Finicum was shot because he drew a gun, while other eyewitnesses can claim that he was shot while his hands were up. At different times in the video he has his hands up and appears to go for a gun, and it’s impossible to know — without information the FBI continues to withhold, if they have it — whether he decided to commit Suicide by Many Cops, or whether he drew his gun in desperate defense after they began shooting him.

Again, without knowing who said what, when, it’s impossible to say whether he became compliant with their instructions, whether their instructions (as so often in a police encounter) contradicted one another, or who fired first.

It’s a certainty that he and others in the truck were not, initially, compliant.

Our tentative conclusion is that both “sides” of this one-sided gunfight will continue to feel wronged by the other guys.

The “Highlights Reel” — about 1/3 of the duration of the whole thing. We watched the whole thing, which is embedded at the bottom of this post, and only sped through this clip.

Here’s the FBI comment:

This is a shortened and edited version of FBI footage showing the joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This condensed clip was shown at an FBI press conference in Burns, Oregon on 01/28/2016. The complete raw footage is available here: https://youtu.be/aAGxDWKrjPQ. Note regarding date/time stamp in the left corner of video: Pilots use Zulu Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), when they fly. Zulu time is eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Therefore, although this footage was taken on January 26, 2016 in Oregon, the date/time stamp on the video shows just after midnight January 27, 2016.

Our comments:

  1. We have said several times before, when Officer Friendly decides you’re going downtown, you’re going downtown. Further resistance at that point is not only futile, it just means you’re going downtown with a few lumps at best, or at the worst, going downtown to the morgue instead of the jail — as Finicum does.
  2. Without the audio, we can’t be sure who fired first. It could be any of three men in the video, or someone off screen.
  3. We can’t be sure whether Finicum drew or moved to draw first, or whether he did that in reaction to being shot at or shot.
  4. His hands were up at first, they went down it seems to keep his balance, and that seems to be when the officers lit him up, but we can’t be sure. (To the officers, at the time, this may have looked like he was going for a gun. In the overhead video it doesn’t look like that, but the guys on the scene didn’t have eyes on the overhead video, they had eyes on Finicum a mere three or four yards away.
  5. We don’t know if Finicum fired, but it seems unlikely. Whether he took shots before he attempted to draw, once he starts he’s clearly taking hits.
  6. We don’t know how many agents or officers fired, and how many shots. For reasons known only to the FBI, they’re sitting on that information. (most likely working out whether it’s better to bury it for good, or if it will be released, how to spin it. One of their concerns here will be the criminal cases against the truck passengers, and the jury pool. The jury pool’s probably not much of a concern, because they’ve set it up that the jurors will be predominantly from metro Portland).
  7. It appears that two or three agents or officers engaged Finicum: one with a pistol who had been on the flank, one with a shoulder weapon who had come up onto the snow, and possibly one who was at the fender of one of the roadblock trucks. Others may have fired as well, but these three are the closest.
  8. The left-handed officer who had been on the flank and fired down the hill fired directly towards his own guys. This may have caused the guys at the truck to think Finicum was engaging them, and they were taking incoming. (Well, they were taking incoming, albeit from their own guy. Which they might or might not have noticed).
  9. The same officer fired from the move — in deep snow — with no attempt to take up a stance. Some may interpret that as reckless, but it could also be that he could see he was threatened and needed to react immediately.
  10. In the case of perceived threats, there are certain psychophysiological reactions, including a narrowing of perceptual field both in breadth and depth. Thus, for the uphill officer, the friendlies behind Finicum might have been functionally invisible.
  11. Because of the angle of the helicopter’s video, the carbine-shooting officer is sometimes masked by trees and sometimes has his back to the video viewpoint. From this video alone, you can’t see what he’s doing.
  12. Several officers move towards Finicum as he appears to be trying to escape with his hands up. In retrospect they might have held their positions, as they had him surrounded. But once again, we don’t know what was said here. Finicum could have been screaming, “Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!” — or worse — for all we know.
  13. When Finicum goes down, he doesn’t move subsequently. It seems clear from the overhead video that he was DRT.
  14. Like the Soviets with Maj. Nicholson, the FBI makes no attempt to medically assess or aid LaVoy Finicum for well over ten minutes after he was shot. This is probably because they still had unknown persons in the truck and an unsecure scene, and possibly because or also because they could see he had unsurvivable, immediately fatal wounds, but it looks bad, and can be spun by conspiracy theorists. If you see a claim like that, remember the FBI’s probable reasons for holding their doc back.
  15. After the others all exit the truck, one at a time, hands up, and are taken into custody, agents move forward cautiously and clear the truck.
  16. Then, as a K9 comes forward to further check the truck, an FBI medic moves to Finicum and kneels beside him. It’s not possible to tell what he’s doing, if anything, but he stays there for some time.

This could have gone another way entirely. Our impression is that the lack of further shooting after Finicum goes down is an indicator of restraint on both sides.

One is reminded of the rockets the FBI took (deservedly) for HRTs staggeringly and incompetent reduction of the Branch Davidians compound, when the ATF, who wanted Koresh, could have just stopped David Koresh and arrested him any time on his peregrinations about Waco. Clearly the errors then informed their approach now, and they stopped and arrested the takeover ringleaders on their rounds (they were going to speak to the media and public in a nearby town). Had Finicum done what the other truck passengers did, he’d be alive and in jail and everyone would be sending the Bureau a Bravo Zulu.

It’s clear that the folks in the truck were not complying with instructions. They just sat in the truck for 5-6 minutes after the first attempted stop (from around 2:30 in the long video). And the authorities just sat in theirs. We have no way of knowing what was said, but it’s unlikely the cops told the truck occupants to stay in the running truck that long, or to just take off.

After they attempt to run away, the driver (presumably Finicum) tries to run around the roadblock through a thick snowbank and, naturally, bogs down. With no delay, the driver’s door opens and Finicum exits. Seconds later he is dead.

If the others in the truck were attempting to escape or resist — there’s no sign of this either way in the release — there was no indication of it after Finicum is shot dead. It appears that the rest of them exit slowly and individually and comply with instructions.

Lessons Learned So Far

There are some lessons learned here:

  1. If you provoke an armed encounter with the authorities, you’re going to get an armed encounter with the authorities. They can’t and won’t back down; they understand that any loss of face risks a collapse in the social order, so they will meet such a challenge every time.
  2. Cue the late Bobby Fuller: LaVoy Finicum fought the law, and the law won. Regardless of who did what, he’s still dead, and there were many times he could have made a decision that would not have left him dead, regardless of what the FBI did or intended. (Except for the occasional sociopath who slips through, and contrary to what a lot of Bundy supporters seem to think about them, Special Agents are not fangs-out hoping to kill anybody).
  3. The FBI, and most agencies, need more post-shooting transparency. Don’t believe us? Mental exercise: this shootout happens in Chicago or NYFC, and LaVoy and his crew are black gangbangers. What would The Reverends be saying by now? How would the Post and the Times be covering it? In this case, the Bureau lucks out: the national media sympathize with the FBI because the criminals are the media’s favorite boogeymen. Ask Wilson Goode what the media does when the criminal movement (in his case, MOVE) are minority members and your cops whack ’em.
  4. Absence of information (and media fabrications to fill the 24-hour news cycle in this absence) is the fertilizer that makes conspiracy theories grow. Conspiracy theories lead to people’s estrangement from ordinary society. Estrangement leads to “compounds” and standoffs. If you’re The Law®. you should want to disincentivize that process of estrangement and incentivize normal, rational paths of dispute resolution.
  5. Administrative law is increasingly looking lawless, with its administrative “courts” a rubber stamp, not a normal, rational path of dispute resolution.

Some More General Thoughts

This whole mess began because a Federal prosecutor (like all of them an effete urbanite with many years in Eastern elite colleges) thought it would be amusing to make a felony out of some careless brush burnoffs by a couple of ranchers, and send the hayseeds to prison.

People in the East (ourselves included) have little appreciation for the degree to which the people of the rural West find themselves at odds with the managers of Federal agencies like the BLM and the EPA. Those agencies have eastern, urban, even Luddite values, values that are foreign and inimical to the agricultural and extractive industries on which so many Western livelihoods depend. The agencies’ managers, based always in the Imperial City of Washington and fully socialized to Washington values, radiate contempt for their de facto serfs.

It’s impossible how to predict how LaVoy Finicum and the Bundys will be remembered some decades or a century down the road. John Brown, a similar lawbreaker, still does not produce a consensus almost two centuries on: was he principled, crazed, or both?

But it’s disturbing the degree to which this feels like the period of Bloody Kansas and the John Brown Raid. People are divided, bitter, and bloody-minded. We know where the failure to find a political resolution to the widening schism in the 1850s wound up. Anyone who wants the current schism to go there is out of his ever-lovin’ mind. American deaths in the Civil War were 2.5% of the population, predominantly productive-age men; that proportion would be about 8.25 million today. Both sides committed the sort of bestial atrocities that always seem to arise in civil wars. And while the two big issues were resolved: Slavery; and who is to be master, Feds or States — the cultural issues still fester like an antibiotic-resistant abscess.

We’re at the cusp of a Century of Enlightenment, or a new Dark Age, made more monstrous than Churchill might have imagined by not only the black lights of perverted science, but the raw power of unaccountable authority.

After the jump, the full-length video (and an Update):

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Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: This Ain’t Hell.us

this_aint_hellJonn Lilyea’s veterans’ site, This Ain’t Hell, isn’t really a weapons site, but it’s one of our first stops for checking on veterans’ affairs, and one of the sites that still keeps the heat on veterans’ impersonators and valor thieves.

If you see some drunken assclown claiming to be a Green Beret (what? You’re a hat, dude?) chances are he’s nothing such, like this assclown, and chances are good that Jonn and his writers have the goods on him — like that assclown.

It’s not all valor-stealing aassclowns all the time (although we’ll be returning to the bozo above in a bit). Sometimes there are “feel good stories” about criminals that have been given an opportunity to turn their lives around, like this Florida perv:

Our first stop this morning is the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida where a woman called the tribal police right before her housemate perforated the fellow she found peeking at her from her yard. According to the article the police took the peeper to the hospital to be treated for his six wounds.

Crime doesn’t pay, does it? Perv.

By the way, the valor-stealing assclown mentioned above, before the perv, is currently under arrest for telling cops he was going to kill them. He is also running for President. Why not? Among other things he says he will…

fix k to 12 and higher egurcation

That’s a relief. We had a feeling ergucation was broken.

Anyway, if you’re a vet, you may like This Ain’t Hell. If you’re not… well, we’ll have another W4 next week.