Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: ArmsVault

gunvaultThey bill themselves as the “Gateway to Guns.”

Gun owners and supporters of the Second Amendment, you’ve come to the right place! ArmsVault helps you find guns, gun information and gun dealers.
Browsing the ArmsVault gun site is like walking through a mall that was built for gun owners. Before you know it, hours have passed. BUT… before you are hit with a case of gun information overload, be sure to check out the ArmsVault Supporters. They are the ones who make it possible for us to continue bringing you great gun information.

via Gateway to Guns – ArmsVault.

Pretty heavy on the advertisements, which is understandable when you realize that Greg Summers started ArmsVault as a simple list of gun companies. It still has that, but has evolved into providing broader content. It is still primarily focused on what new stuff you can buy, and where you can buy it, so its appeal to the modern gun crowd is strong. It’s a good place to find a website or some information about something new you saw fleetingly but haven’t read the press release yet.

Unlike AmmoLand, once one of our go-to sites for press releases, ArmsVault doesn’t strip a press release of its original links, something which has come to irritate us with AmmoLand. On the other hand, sites like Guns.com and The Firearm Blog tend to have the press releases and much more original content, with a great deal of their content on historical firearms, not just today’s shiny baubles. Horses for courses, right?

One of the features we liked was the book reviews — a bit like one of our capsule reviews, but then the guy lists all the guns that were used in the book! He’s gotta read with a notepad or something. There’s probably a website in that, like the Internet Movie Firearms Database, but for books — IBFDB.org.

Product reviews are also interesting (all reviews are grouped together under a “Reviews” item in a pop-up menu). Like a lot of gun blogs, he seems to reviews freebies he gets sent (permanently or as loaners), which is not the way we do it, but then, we hardly ever publish a review, and their way of doing it is just as honest as ours, since they disclose the source of their review stuff.

We particularly liked a Starlight rifle-case review in which the author describes the process of cutting foam to match his own gun and accessories — including plenty of warnings and advice so that you might do yours better than he did his, and not make the mistakes he made. That kind of humility is rare on the net. You can tell the author wishes his readers well.

So this isn’t an epic W4. It isn’t one of the troves of historical documents we like to find, or some repository of arcane knowledge. It’s just a steady source of what’s-new, run by a guy who gives a damn.  And some Wednesdays, that’s really all we need.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week – Think Defence

think_defence_screenshotThe spelling “Defence” gives the game away — we’re talking about British defense issues here. Here’s what Think Defence says about itself:

Think Defence is a blog that covers UK (mostly) defence issues; images, videos, news items and in depth studies. It is not a campaign site and is funded wholly from donations and Google advert revenue, the objective is a simple one, to get people talking about UK defence and security.

Blog posts are short. Journal posts more detailed and sometimes part of a multi part series. Open threads are freeform discussion posts, one per month. The subject space contains consolidated multi part series posts and information centred on a single theme.

Come and join the discussion…

via Home – Think Defence.

We discovered it because the blogger there has commented here. Usually, we’ll take a look at a commenter’s home site. (Pro tip: if it could be mistaken for Stormfront you will not be a commenter here for long). Most of the time we find one more cool blog we’re not going to have the time to read every day, unfortunately.

Think Defence is in a somewhat different category. It covers the whole panoply of British defence issues — deployments, naval, air, ground forces and SOF, procurement and doctrine. Britain is a small country that for most of her history has fought like a much, much bigger place, and that provided the USA with its founding and many of its traditions that we think of as home-grown. (Rogers’s Rangers, for instance, was a British unit, and in the later Revolution Richard Rogers raised Rangers for King George III against the rebellious Colonials). Britain has been a key ally, and one of the few NATO countries that spends enough for its general purpose forces to be fully interoperable with the others, at the highest level of potential performance.

There’s always something worth reading, well presented, over there. So, if you want to know what’s going on where the Union Jack flies, well, Think Defence.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Art of the Rifle

art of the rifle analysisArt of the Rifle was sent to us by a friend who, like so many of us, constantly strives to improve. He noted that our recent W4, Precision Rifle Blog, was great. “Data-driven just the way we like it. And if you like that, you must like Art of the Rifle, right?”

“Sure, the book by Jeff Cooper. It’s a little dated now…”

“No, knucklehead. The blog.” So we hunted up the blog he was referring to. He liked the pseudonymous owner’s near-obsessive data collection and organization. We’ll show some examples of that momentarily.

What does the author say about his blog?

In May of 2011 I decided to begin documenting my progress in rifle shooting via a blog. Being extremely curious as to the finer points of using a rifle, and not being able to find information about that kind of stuff online, I decided to learn it and fill the information gap myself. I hope that what I do here will provide useful information or a source of some interest to you.

via About | Art of the Rifle.

To us, and perhaps to the friend who tipped us off, the most interesting part of the blog was his recent one-year attempt to hit a remarkably practically-opriented goal:

Develop the ability to hit an uncooperative moving target, no greater than 4” in diameter, inside of 200 yards at known or unknown distance, on demand, regardless of terrain, conditions, stress, tiredness, fatigue, or time constraints.

He analyzed ten different shooting positions, documenting things that are “common knowledge” (such as, a supported position is superior to unsupoported) but providing a quantitative measure of exactly how superior it is.

art of the rifle chartAt the end of his year, he posted comprehensive data (see the chart on the right for an example) and a rather bleak, but refreshingly honest, conclusion:

My actual performance in hitting the 4″ target is nowhere near my goal. It was humbling to see the results on a stationary target. It is much better to be informed than to be ignorant and to believe in capabilities that one does not actually possess.

Anybody trying that hard to get better at shooting is going to get better. Not without difficulties, plateaus, and reversals, but he’s going to get better, and if your personality is suited for his style of analytic approach, you can learn things at his blog that will help you get better.

Other parts of the blog we found very valuable are

  • the “Reading,” or sources/enrichment page, with both blogs and books referenced (indeed, Cooper’s classic Art of the Rifle makes an appearance here, suggesting that the blog’s name is inspired).
  • The Reference Section, which gathers key information and posts from the Art of the Rifle blog into a single page.

Enjoy this week’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, then, Art of the Rifle Blog.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Firearms History, Technology & Development

firearms_history_technology_developmentThis site is a worthwhile, irregularly updated look at, like the title says, the history, technology and development of firearms. It’s found at firearmshistory.blogspot.com.

Welcome to the Firearms History, Technology and Development blog. In this blog, we will trace the history of firearms development over the years, advances in technologies and the world wide development and spread of firearms technology.

via Firearms History, Technology & Development: Welcome.

Because of its very wide range, you will find interesting matters here, regardless of your present level of expertise, but it’s all presented on a level that makes it accessible to everyone, including beginners and English-as-a-second-language readers.

Over the years, hundreds of posts have covered firearms from the days of the lit match to the latest developments.

Recent posts have included a 12-part (and continuing) series on the metallurgy of firearms, and the metallurgical history of firearms development. The progress from bronze, to pig/cast iron, to wrought iron, to steel was necessary to progress from coarse powder, to fine powder, to smokeless powder, with the rise in chamber pressures permitted by the metallurgical improvements. Without steel, breechloaders and cartridge arms would not have been practical, and no sort of automatic or semiautomatic weapon would have been possible. You may think you know metallurgy, but do you know what a puddling furnace is, or why 19th Century manufacturers sometimes specified a product called “shear steel” (let alone, what “shear steel” was?).

Along with developments in metallurgy (firearm and cartridge metals) and propulsives chemistry (powders), the development of firearms depended, and still depends, on manufacturing processes.

The blog does cover such manufacturing processes as rifling, but also covers sights, actions and other firearms components that we may take for granted today, but that each has its own development history and technical rationale. Good stuff!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Tubalcain’s Machine Shop Tips

If you want to work on guns, you have to be able to work metal. Fortunately, metalworking is not brain surgery. Unfortunately, it is very complex and requires hands-on experience to develop any kind of skill whatsoever. So it’s good to have guides to the terra incognita of metal work, whether it’s something as simple (or is it?) as metals recognition, or as complex as making, installing and setting up repair parts for a broken lathe.

At one time, the only way you could get help gaining the experience to work metal was by apprenticing yourself to a master, or taking years of shop classes. But that was then, and now there’s YouTube, home of all kinds of how-to videos (some of them by Bubba or at least his mentors). But many of the instructional videos are of high quality. We’d like to single out “Tubalcain’s” series of videos as particularly useful to the beginner or learning machinist or metal worker.

We first found his videos when getting the hang of foundry, but this week discovered that someone had organized them all on a web page.

This extensive list of “Tubalcain” YouTube videos was sent by mrpete222.  To access them go to his YT channel and scan down the list.

The name “Tubalcain” is a Biblical reference, and an apt one.

From Wikipedia:

“Genesis 4:22 says that Tubal-cain was the “forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” or an “instructer of every artificer in brass and iron” . Although this may mean he was a metalsmith, a comparison with verses 20 and 21 suggests that he may have been the very first artificer in brass and iron. T. C. Mitchell suggests that he “discovered the possibilities of cold forging native copper and meteoric iron.” Tubal-cain has even been described as the first chemist”

via MACHINE SHOP TIPS.

This is definitely a page you’ll want to come back to. It’s edifying just to have one of these videos playing on another monitor while working — or we think it is. Hell, we may even learn something.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Impro Guns

impro_gunsAnother title for this blog might be, “Bubba the Gunsmith’s Wide World of Wonder.” But they call it “Impro Guns” and its URL is http://homemadeguns.wordpress.com/. This little information about who makes the blog, or why, but it features the improvised firearms often seen on The Firearms Blog.

The guns vary from crude zip guns that are arguably more hazardous to be behind than to be before, to rather sophisticated weapons that even feign manufacturer markings, serial numbers and even proof marks. They are made by tinkerers, criminals, terrorists and revolutionaries, mostly in places where governments take a totalitarian approach to firearms, but also in places where firearms are available, but criminals seek greater firepower than then can get over the counter.

There are artfully concealed guns, that look like cigarette cases or tire-pressure gages. There are even some guns captured in process, with drawings or process sheets, clandestine manufacture style:

improvised chinese guns process sheets

Impro Guns gathers all these without even falling back on the Khyber armorers in Darra Adam Khel.

A lot of them are blowback, pistol-caliber submachine guns. We’re reminded, again, of a prescient poster by Oleg Volk (that we can’t find, damn it) that showed something like a Sten and said something like, “If you ban guns, this is what crime guns start to look like.”

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week — JeffGusky.com

German combatants took shelter in the "Helden-Keller" (Cellar of Heroes).

German combatants took shelter in the “Helden-Keller” (Cellar of Heroes).

In this 100th anniversary of the Great War, there are still unexplored, privately protected sites along the Western Front. American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky was initiated into these secrets, and passes on an incredible set of photographs of forgotten WWI positions and the artifcts they still contain.

Frozen-in-time, these cities beneath the trenches form a direct human connection to men who lived a century ago. They make hundred years ago seem like yesterday. They are a Hidden World of WWI that is all but unknown, even to the French.

American medical doctor, fine art photographer and explorer Jeffery Gusky was introduced to these underground cities by landowners and dedicated volunteers and their families who fiercely guard the secrets of these spaces with loving care to prevent them from being vandalized and to preserve them for the future.

via Jeff Gusky – The Hidden World of WWI.

In lovingly carved Gothic script: "God Damn England"

In lovingly carved Gothic script: “God Damn England”

Gusky has an eye to the image, to composition, to the bathos of a rifleman’s name or a carefully constructed water fountain, still brimming a century on. He has an eye for the religious touches, including the one that wasn’t like the others — a German prayer for the damnation of England.

(The phrase “Gott strafe England” can be translated “God damn…” or the G-rated “God punish…” It was coined by the German poet Ernst Lissauer, also remembered for his Hymn of Hate. And it was inescapable in the Kaiser’s Germany: on posters, pins, graffiti, and, as seen here, trenches and dugouts).

That all this remains of the Western Front makes us wonder what amazing discoveries are yet to surface from the Eastern Front and the mountain war between Italy and Austria-Hungary.

Gusky did not take many weapons photos. This rusted rifle with a rotted-away stock is filed with photos from a French position.

Gusky did not take many weapons photos. This rusted rifle with a rotted-away stock is filed with photos from a French position. It’s not a Berthier. Lebel? Doesn’t seem quite right for that, either. 

Gusky makes no attempt to explain the pictures, or to parse out unit numbers or personal names. He just takes the picture, and lets the image speak. And a powerful speech it is.

Weds Thurs Weapons Website of the Week

spy vs spyIf you’re a prepper…

If you’re a veteran…

If you’re interested in how the world of intelligence works at the nuts and bolts level…

…you’ll want to read GuerillAmerica.

The blog provides practical, doctrinally-based instruction in intelligence tradecraft across a wide range of disciplines. In particular, its analytical tradecraft posts like this one about evaluating single-source information are pure gold (and something that is often covered poorly in analytical training, even inside the IC).

Few people think about UW intel tradecraft beyond collection, or perhaps beyond agent handling. Those things are important, but anything from networks to entire countries that has been rolled up after being taken unawares, usually had collected all the information they needed to see the fist that was about to hit them. It was their failure to evaluate and analyze this information — failure to process raw information into usable, actionable intelligence – that condemned them to be bystanders at Pearl Harbor, the roll-up of SOE’s réseaux in the Netherlands, the Nork invasion of South Korea in 1950, the abject failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, or the al-Qaeda attacks on 11 Sep 2001.

(Yeah, this was supposed to go up on Wednesday. It didn’t. So sue us. Our next scheduled date for lawsuit service is 29 Feb 15).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Luger LP08.com

artillery_luger_siteMauro Baudino, an Italian who lives in Belgium nowadays, is an expert on the very beast we’re currently wrangling; he’s written a book on the Artillery Luger, although his book is aimed more at collectors and historians than on our current role, poor beggars trying to make the thing run like Kaiser Bill intended it to. So Mauro’s website on the Artillery, LugerLP08.com, is of great interest.

At the very beginning, it has a graphic in which a commemorative Artillery photo fades into a cut-away four-color drawing, which then cycles, and you can see the intricacies of the action — which all appear correct.

Baudino also co-wrote (with Gerben Van Vlimmeren) a book on postwar Parabellums, The Parabellum is Back: 1945-2000.  There is a website with information on this book including errata, like drawings of the magazines developed by Haenel for the French. Here’s a review of the book by Ian from Forgotten Weapons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hztgmjJU7f4

Unfortunately, his Artillery Luger book, which is available direct from the author, is primarily in the Italian language, albeit with bilingual (Italian/English) photo captions. But the website is all in English, and quite entertaining to explore.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: KFSS.ru

These scenes aren’t from Chernobyl, although they have the same air of haunted abandonment. And they’re not from Detroit, although the site makers are reminiscent of the urban ruins explorers of the Motor City. They’re from various abandoned and forgotten military bases in the former Soviet Far East.

Posters of Lenin, and placards celebrating the Warsaw Pact, that celebrated bond of Socialist fellowship that evaporated as soon as Soviet coercion was removed from the slave states of Eastern Europe. Rows of tanks, caught in the middle of repairs that didn’t come, stripped and vandalized.

abandoned tanks 206 btrz kfss.ru

The photos are from a site called KFSS.ru, and they’re why it’s the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, even though it has other explorations on there (for example, of coastal forts). But for us, it was the post-Soviet ruins that were mesmerizing.

If you look at only one of KFSS.ru’s explorations, the 206th BTRZ — a tank-repair site strewn with the carcasses of armored vehicles — could be the most interesting.

The unit was originally established in 1936 as the V.G. Voroshilov Repair Base for the Far East No. 77. Over the years it had many other names, but basically kept overhauling tanks for the Red, then Soviet, then Russian, army, and its final identity was the 206th Broniytankoviy Remontniy Zavod — Armored Tank Repair Factory (or Facility). When it closed, a large amount of work-in-progress vehicles, from BRDM-1 and -2 light amphibious armored reconnaissance vehicles through T-64 tanks, were left behind.

In this photo essay, as in the others, the photos are always professionally, even artistically, composed. They speak of the fascinating beauty of ruins, a beauty which has captivated men for centuries.

Sometimes, men who did their national service on these bases comment on the pages, filling in details. It is jarring to see your old base, even your old barracks, workplace, or team room, reduced to ruins — we’ve been through that ourselves (the team room has since been torn down and no trace of it remains).

Every page of KFSS introduces military archaeology that is at once familiar and exotic, like the strange tubular bunkers that once held R-5s, the Soviet Union’s first nuclear-armed missiles, and the abandoned classrooms of a radio school.

You’ll need to read Russian to get the maximum knowledge and enjoyment from this site, although Google or some other online translator can probably help. But you don’t really need to  read the words to appreciate the haunting beauty in some of these ruins.

Buildings 30 and 40 years old, probably never all that watertight to begin with, given Soviet construction standards.

A pack of cigarettes, forgotten on a shelf. A naval officer’s uniform, hanging up next to the ironing board that got it ready for a next meeting that didn’t happen.

Naval Officer's Uniform kfss-ru

Abandoned Vozdvizhenka Aerodrome, home to a fleet of Tu-223M carcasses, late of Russian Naval Aviation:

Abandoned Bomber

Some of the architecture is similar to any European or American base, and some is uniquely Soviet. A large open-span area in a maintenance hall is built with precast concrete rafters that have an arched truss cast into them, for example — an ingenious and elegant solution.

The routine junk of military living. Propaganda exhortations (Your unit — your community!) of the inoffensive kind. Key control boards. Ammo bunkers. NBC posters: what to do when the Americans nuke you.

NBC poster kfss-ru

We never did, but they tried to be ready. So did we, during the Cold War.

While most of the world’s Army, Navy and Air Force bases look much alike, only the USSR left this one signature item behind when a base closed: Lenin.

Lenin kfss-ru

 

The soldiers, sailors and airmen who traipsed through these buildings, and unwittingly, through history, by and large did their duty: their homeland wasn’t attacked again after V-E Day. Perhaps the system they served did not deserve their loyalty, but their country, and their countrymen, probably did. And the artifacts they left behind exist in the strange limbo between abandonment and archaeology.