Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Sturmgewehr.com

Screenshot 2015-02-19 07.06.34Today’s Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Sturmgewehr.com, is a sales site. It’s a sales site that is, in our view, narrowcast to, well, the sort of folks that read this board.

Want an assault rifle? (Oh, wait, a “Modern Sporting Rifle”?) Or some other recent military or military-like firearm? How about an NFA weapon, a rare machine gun or destructive device?

Or maybe you have such an item, a rare one, where the buyers are few and widely distributed around the world?

We’re constantly referencing GunBroker.com here, and that’s because it is, in our opinion, the go-to auction site for rare and exotic weapons. We also like to keep tabs on two top physical brick-and-mortar-auction houses for 20th and 21st-Century small arms, James D. Julia and Rock Island Auctions. (We will concede this: Ian at Forgotten Weapons does better at this than we do. But gun blogging is his day job, and sometimes the weapons we like are far from forgotten). An auction is, by definition, the best way to find out what something is really worth to the world market.

But suppose you don’t want to auction your weapon. Maybe you have a very clear idea of what it’s worth, or at least, what it’s worth to you. Maybe you’re totally confident you can set the price high enough to maximize your recovery, and low enough to make the sale happen on your schedule. Maybe you want a trade: Jim Julia would be glad to get rid of your XM110 sniper system for you, but he isn’t going to get you a transferable MP.38 for it. YOYO for that. And maybe the economics of an auction, where you either must pay for a listing, or must pay a percentage, are not congenial. Likewise, maybe you, as a buyer, don’t want to monkey with an auction with all the attendant risk of losing your Precious to a last-minute sniper.

If that’s you, then you need to spend some quality time at Sturmgewehr.com. It’s a simple, free market board where literally anyone can post any firearm or related collectors item in a narrowcast board. Here’s a snippet of the NFA board:

Screenshot 2015-02-19 07.14.48

It’s not going to win any prizes for physical beauty, but man, is it ever dense with usable information. When you open a listing, most of them tell you a few more details and terms, some link to images, and some have an embedded image or two, but most don’t. This is Jack Webb approved MG sales: “Just the facts.”

The boards are clearly delineated:

Screenshot 2015-02-19 07.06.07

There are relatively few rules but owner Buddy Hinton enforces them with a firm hand, which is why Sturm has managed to retain a high value for the dedicated collector and dealer of rare military arms. Every day, many postings by the gentlemen who didn’t read the rules (or by Unique and Special Snowflakes™ who thought the rules didn’t apply to them) get dispatched to the bit bucket. Every two weeks, your sell or buy ad gets dropped. This assures you that the postings on the site are germane, current and available. There is no distinction between dealer posts and buyer posts.

One warning: because there are high-value items on here that are being sold interstate for cash, there are scammers on here. Buddy flags them when he sees them, but he can’t see them all. Be leery of emails that track back to a free service. Don’t send a money order to an address that has not just a street name but also an inmate number. Use your judgment; we always establish two-way communications first. (Many of the sellers here are reputable dealers that you’ll recognize from other sales modes, and many are honest individuals).

Take great care to comply with Federal and state laws. While we’re not aware of anyone being entrapped by law enforcement here, they’re certainly aware of and monitor the board. The best way to make sure that you don’t wind up in the back seat where the door handles don’t work is to know and not to violate any of the laws governing gun sales

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: CARL

carl_splash_pageWho’s CARL? Well, he’s an acronym, as the capitals should have hinted to you. CARL is the Army’s Combined Arms Reference Library. It is open to the public, worldwide, and is a great source of Army doctrine, Army history, and technical reports. (In fact, tomorrow’s first post willl be a historical one, based on a document from this library. We needed a one-day break from the 1970s and missiles, and will resume Friday with Arab-Israeli unpleasantness).

This link is to their General Military History page, which contains a wide range of subjects, and can be used as a springboard to other areas in the library. We’re still exploring it ourselves, and finding all kinds of serendipitious time-wasters!

Best wishes to you, and see you in another week with another link, if we survive what the news people are calling Snowmageddon, what Al Gore says is the consequences of global warming (one of his disciples wrote a book and an article in the NYT a couple years ago titled, we are not making this up, The End of Snow. Can you feature that? It takes a lot of school to make a man that stupid), and what we New Englanders call, “typical February.”

ETA: Ooops. Never hit “publish” last night. Tied up struggling with countersinking on plane parts. If your countersinking is perfect to contain the rivet, but has made the hole half-again as large as it started, it’s not really countersinking, is it? This is why we practice these things on scrap aluminum.

Question: is the runout in our countersink tool, or in the drill press itself? Or is it in both and it’s stacking up. It’s dial-indicator time. Sigh. Consequences of a cheap Sum Ting Wong drill press, we suspect. We have a nice Walker-Turner drill press with a Quadrill head that would be the cat’s ass for this stuff, if we could make it work. We can’t. I guess we need to find a local tool ace on the NH Seacoast or North Shore of Boston.

Of course, we can hand-countersink the holes. There’s only a few dozen of them.

Anyway, because this brief post is going up late, the morning post it references will be late too, and we’ll be playing catch-up all day. If you’re all caught up, you’re welcome to play in the archives! — Ed.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Art of Battle

the_art_of_battleEvery once in a while you stumble over something where, although the execution is ragged, the concept is so staggeringly brilliant that you’d tolerate even “slipshod,” and “ragged” is positively welcome. Such a concept is The Art of Battle.com, which delivers informative animated presentations that let you visualize famous battles in motion. “It’s like a museum, except not boring,” they claim.

The animations are ugly. The colors were selected by a fugitive from the Fashion Police. For some battles, there’s not even an ugly animation, there’s just a plug-ugly PowerPoint presentation. But if it’s ugly and it works, is it really ugly?

Land battles are divided into historical bins: Ancient (to AD 500), Medieval (501-1500), Gunpowder Battles (1501-1850) and Modern (1851-present). The divisions feel somewhat arbitrary, but they are only one way of looking at the battles; you can look at them by war, by faction, by commander, even by tactic.

There’s a rough-and-ready tutorial on some basic tactics. What makes it worthwhile is that each concept of maneuver is paired with historical examples of the maneuver succeeding in battle, and failing. For example, a “counterattack from a strong defensive position” succeeded for Babur against the Afghans at Panipat in 1526, but failed for the Gaul Vercingetorix’s stronger army against Julius Caesar at Alesia in 52 BC.

The Art of Battle scores most dramatically when it covers battles that are less well-known. A classic example is the battle of Kohima-Imphal in Burma in 1944, in which a British field army under William Slim, accepting very high casualties, closed with, defeated in detail, dispersed, pursued, and all but annihilated a smaller (but still formidable) Japanese field army under Renya Mutaguchi. Slim’s forces suffered 11% casualties, enough to make the unit combat-ineffective by most measures, but Mutaguchi’s force suffered over 50% casualties, most of them during the rout phase. (That will not surprise historians. A defeated army suffers its greatest casualties after it breaks and runs).

This site is no substitute for a terrain walk on the battlefield with an able historian (or an insightful serving or retired soldier). It’s no substitute for a stint at military academy. But nobody is saying it is. What it is, is, a great set of military history tutorials that has something for the beginner as well as for the experienced student of armed social action. If you watch your way through these potted battle scenarios, you’ll be better informed about military history than 97% of your fellow citizens.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Bergenschild.ru

Page for one of the reenactor units

Page for one of the reenactor units

Even on Christmas Eve, we don’t want to miss giving you all a W4. So go and check out BergenSchild.ru.

First, the bad news: it’s all in Russian. (Somewhere in Russia, Max Popenker shrugs. “What’s the big deal about that?”).

And he’s not the only one. The officers of the 54th Minsk Infantry Regiment are cool with that. Here they are, in one of the pictures on the site. The Polkovnik and his senior officers appear to be front and center. Apparently, you needed whiskers to be an Imperial Russian officer:

niva01_21_1905

Now, the good news: Bergenschild.ru is a treasure trove of primary documents we haven’t found elsewhere, including reproductions of Russian equivalents of what in the US Army are technical manuals (about stuff, like rifles and cannons) and field manuals (about how to do stuff, like fight with bayonets or employ an infantry unit in combat).

So what? We can hear you thinking. That Soviet doctrinal stuff is all over the net, what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that this isn’t Soviet stuff. In fact, it’s older: it’s Tsarist doctrinal material from the era of the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, mostly. We were able to negotiate it with our thready and weak Russian language skills, but you could also attack the site through Google Translate, always bearing in mind the Monty Python Hungarian Dictionary Sketch. “Your hovercraft is full of eels!”

Now, as you might expect, Tsarist doctrine went a long way to form early Soviet doctrine; entire units changed sides in the Revolution and Civil War, and they brought their way of doing things with them. The Soviets talked a good game about “a new way of war,” but that’s mostly what it was, talk. (One thing they did do is decrease the hereditary and increased the meritocratic input to officer selection, which brought Russia into line with other modern nations).

Whether you’re interested in this period or the later, Soviet, period, this next document should be especially delightful to you Mosin-Nagant fans who wonder how Ivan really intended to use that bayonet:

Both include the original plates illustrating the fighting positions and moves. Unfortunately there’s no whole-document .pdf download.

The site \ belongs to a group of historian-reenactors who call themselves “Mountain Shield,” and they are as fascinated and obsessed by the technology and culture of the pre-revolutionary Imperial Russian Army as any reenactors anywhere are fascinated by their  chosen period. Compared to even the Russian Civil War or the Russo-Polish War (let alone the Great Patriotic War, as Russian historiography styles their fight for survival in World War II), the military culture of Tsar Nicholas II is a historical black hole.

And some of it is just… mysterious. This 1905-dated photo, which appears to have been scanned from halftone in a book, shows Russian troops lounging in an unidentified port, possibly Port Arthur, on top of a Jules Verne vision, which the caption defines as an “underwater boat”. Russian, or Japanese? Ya neznayu.

1905 submarine with Russian soldiers. Anyone know more?

1905 submarine with Russian soldiers. Anyone know more?

It looks like a stouter CSS Hunley, actually. It’s part of a gallery that begins on a page described: Equipment of the Russo-Japanese War (“Niva,” 1905). Another picture from that page shows a soldier in a plowed field, about to handle an unexploded 11-inch battleship shell, with a smaller Japanese shrapnel dud next to his leg.

niva14_19_1905

 

As anybody from EOD can tell you, after the first couple ounces, all the rest of the explosives are “free.”

The following is captioned, “In position. Mounted machine gun before an enemy attack,” and is credited to “Special Correspondent V. Taburin” of “Niva” (presumably a news magazine of the period).   (Link).

niva01_29_1905The mount of the Maxim is very interesting, as is the gun itself which may be a bought British-made gun, not a Russian-produced M1905. The mount looks like it may have had a matching limber for ammunition, and been drawn by draught horses or by men. It’s also interesting that the crewmen do not have fixed bayonets. The casual stances of the officers on the right suggest that this photo was taken nowhere near the threat of enemy fire, caption notwithstanding.

In another photo taken behind the same gun, you can see that the rifles are definitely Mosin-Nagants. And in yet another photo, from a different gallery of Russo-Japanese War pictures, you can see a marksman taking aim (“at the enemy,” the caption assures us). His Mosin clearly has the bayonet mounted. If you blow up the picture you see that other soldiers formed a human ladder to assist him and the binocs-using officer up the tree.

niva01_16_1905

Treasures like this are why we like Bergenschild.ru. Perhaps you will, too!

 

Wednesday Weapons Website(s) of the Week: Two FOIA Pages

question markThis is one of those Wednesday Weapons Websites of the Week, where we send you out to make your own experience. The reason is that there is an almost unlimited amount of quality information available here, but it’s all information that’s going to need to be winkled out using some awkward search facilities.

FOIA stands for the Freedom of Information Act, a 1970s law aimed at government transparency that has made many lawyers indecently rich for finding exceptions to shield misconduct and wrongdoing by government agencies or (more often) by senior government officials. Nonetheless, these sites offer the secrets of two agencies that have had a great deal of success as well as some spectacular failures; released documents tell the tales of both.

CIA FOIA Page

The CIA is subjected to a barrage of FOIA requests daily and has developed robust protocols to respond to  these requests, whether serious or frivolous. (The most frequent request, we’re told? Information on UFOs. The kooks are out there). The CIA has one of the more comprehensive and, fortunately, easily navigated FOIA sites in the Federal government.

A perfect example of the sort of declassified historical information the CIA excels at providing is this collection on the building of the Berlin Wall and what US intelligence knew about it at the time.

cia_west_german_paper_1960Here’s a specific example of the sort of thing you can find on the CIA site: a translated West German set of political objections to the Western Powers potentially renegotiating the status of West Berlin with the Soviet Union, from 1961 or thereabouts. Some of these objections are quite prescient and were narrowly forestalled by statesmanship at the time; others did come to pass, without seriously impeding the Western defeat of the USSR in the Cold War. (Or the USSR’s defeat of itself, perhaps). But the Germans had no way to know it at the time.

In addition, the Center for the Study of Intelligence and the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis‘s Occasional Papers are not part of the FOIA page, but they’re also on the Agency’s public website and provide a rich trove of declassified as well as never-classified material. Here’s a recent posting from the CSI, an unclassified extract of the classified in-house magazine Studies in Intelligencewhich deals with a secret Australian unit in the invasion of the Philippines and conquest of the Sulu Archipelago in 1944-45.

USAF FOIA Page

We went to the FOIA page looking for something very specific that we were promised was there — an accident report on an aircraft mishap this year in Kyrgyzstan to a tanker flying from Manas. We couldn’t find that, but we found so many other good things that we shrugged it off.

winter_study_group_1

winter_study_group_3To set up a remarkable example of the material available here, we’re looking at a recently (28 Aug 2014) released report of the Winter Study Group’s sensing sub-panel from 1960. The Winter Study Group was set up by Lt. Gen. Bernard Schriever USAF and managed by the Mitre Corporation in approximately 1956 to examine the chaos that electronic systems procurement had become. The sensing panel made interesting assumptions about the Soviet bomber and ICBM threat and about systems for detecting an attack. It is no exaggeration to say that this work led to the DEW Line, NORAD, and satellite early warning, just as the WSG’s overall work led to the AIr Force Systems Command’s Electronic Systems Division (which was established within a year of the final report) and the entire concept of Electronic Command and Control.

The report is a priceless time capsule of 1960 thinking, and the fear of The Bear is palpable in it.

winter_study_group_2

Unfortunately, the bad news: the USAF FOIA website has a human interface that might as well have been designed by Mitre in 1960, and it’s a bear (as in difficulty, not Russian, although it is a bit like a long Russian novel in a bad translation) to link an individual report (and impossible to link an individual .pdf). Your only hope is to search the site for WINTER STUDY GROUP, and Lord alone knows what you’ll find.

More recent information includes a report of investigation of a green-on blue incident in a command center in Kabul, that we hope to analyze soon; there are valuable lessons for everyone in a “safe place” overseas, and some important facts about the limitations everywhere of “good guys with guns” vis-a-vis bad guys with guns.

Both agencies are host to a lot of documents that are low quality (microfiches, photostats, old mimeographs) and tend to do a pretty lousy job preparing them for the web (they’re seldom OCR’d or printed to .pdf yielding a searchable document). But they have information you’ll never find anywhere else.  That’s the trade-off.

Notes

1. For more on the Winter Study Group, see pp. 13-14 of the MITRE history, Fifty Years of Service in the Public Interest. (.pdf) and pp. 192-198 of Johnson, Stephen B. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965 (.pdf). Bolling AFB, DC: 2002. Johnson refers specifically to this study but it is another thing entirely to review the original document (as he no doubt did, writing an official history).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: full30.com

You may have been to Full30.com already, as it’s the home of InRangeTV, which we’ve been remiss about promoting, and have been meaning to plug. We’ll let Ian and Karl explain what InRange is:

InRange is a collaborative project between Ian McCollum (Forgotten Weapons) and Karl Kasarda. After watching the gun program landscape of cable television decline into a wasteland of explosions and ginned-up drama, they decided to produce a show that would appeal [to] the intelligent and sophisticated gun owners and gun enthusiasts worldwide.

In an internet video world that’s dominated by the childish play of FPSRussia and the soporific ramblings of 30-minute gun reviews, is there room for a show for the thinking gun enthusiast?

Here’s a far-out example: Karl in a 2-gun match with an updated FG 42. Before you laugh at the idea that a 70-year-old design can keep up with a “modern” AR (which is, after all, a 60-year-old design), watch to the end and see how Karl did out of 47 shooters. And here’s a follow-up with Karl and Ian discussing the features of the modernized FG. It’s like hanging out with two fellow gun nuts — in HD. “We’re putting out this video because we think this is an awesome gun,” Ian says.

In addition to those, there are a handful of other videos from InRange already posted. They’re all good, whether it’s Karl describing the forgotten battle at Dragoon Springs where a small Confederate foraging patrol found itself overwhelmed by… Apaches, one of their patented historical-gun matchups at a live 2-gun match, or an interview with AR pioneer Jim Sullivan.

“But wait!” our inner Ron Popeil cries out. “There’s more!”

Because Full30.com isn’t just the host of InRange TV, even though InRange is our favorite channel there (imagine a cable network with different channels; that’s what Full30 is for people interested in gun-related videos).

Some of the bigger guns (pun definitely intended) of YouTube notoriety are here, including MAC (the Military Arms Channel) and Iraq Veteran 8888. Here, for an example, is a very thorough video by MAC about the FN F2000 and especially FS2000 rifles that hits all the high points (ergonomics, for example, forward ejection makes it ambi-friendly) and low points (STANAG mags only, thank you very much) of the system. The video actually made us want one.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: M4Carbine.net

m4c_screenshotYears ago, we chose AR15.com for one of our W4s, and we got some predictable responses, along the lines of: “That’s where all the posers and neckbeards are, and all the real tactical operatory operators are on M4Carbine.net” or the absolutely true and non-exaggerated: “The signal to noise ratio is way better at M4C than at Arfcom.”

The fact of the matter is, the founders of M4 Carbine (aka M4C) were refugees from AR15.com (aka Arfcom). Those defectors were, originally, serious gun enthusiasts and pros who considered themselves above the amateurs, newbies and wannabes that infest AR15.com, and were sick to death of the juvenile grab-ass that infests that forum. M4C does tend to stick to business more, and so is less of a frat-boy hangout than Arfcom; of course, at either site, whether you pick up signal to noise depends entirely on where you hang out, but the overall s/n ratio is higher by design on M4C.

The Upside of M4C

There is a very great amount of expertise on the site, and it’s focused on subject matter. You’re not going to spend time here exploring the elections or reading a thread about how some guy’s girlfriend left him, dog passed away, and other bare-bones frameworks for country and western songs. That’s all endemic to GD on Arfcom. Here, the GD forum is titled AR General Discussion and anyone trying to drag it off topic is curbstomped by the mods. This is not the site you go to for puppy pictures, or childish hijinks, which probably ruins it for some of you guys (grin).

On M4C you’ll get pretty good advice from people with hands-on experience in combat tactical firearms or in competition (whichever you’re looking for). A number of real-deal armorers hang out here, as do some serious shooters, of targets and of deserving people. Several of the top instructors in the country maintain accounts here, and the advertisers are a who’s who of premium guns and parts.

For reasons we’re about to get into, the very well-organized and easily searched equipment exchange at M4C is more likely to have good name brand stuff, and like other forums, guys often offer it here before throwing it to the wolves on GunBroker, which is good if you’re looking for something high-end or exotic. It’s also a great place to sell something that hardcore AR aficionados might want, but your local gun shop won’t even identify on sight, like a carrier key staking tool.

Some of the users are prone to do evidence-based posts and extensive tests, and the data remains on the site for the benefit of all. If you are new to the AR platform the tuning and setup stickies here are freakin’ platinum.

It’s free to get a login, which gets you the usual forum benefits, mostly access to linked rather than embedded images, and a mailbox for instant messages (useful if you’re going to use the

The Downside of M4C

That said, the original sin of M4C is pride, evidencing as snobbery. There are frequently people there as brand-conscious as a trust-fund chick shopping Newbury Street. We detested those sorts of people as kids, and find the same personality traits (and same hunger for a saintly brand name) just as repulsive in grownups from our own gun culture.

Yes, there are some brand names that get attached to junk all the time, where buying the company’s product is an exercise in hope over experience, and there are some brand names that very seldom get attached to anything but first quality, where a failed or blemished product is distressing to the company’s representatives. In between there is the vast array of parts that will generally work together. It’s an AR-15 we’re talking about here, not a Fabergé egg. It’s a service rifle originally designed to be carried and used by cannon-fodder conscripts, and maintained by guys with 85 IQs and booklets of cartoon instructions. Yes, you can get smarter about the gun as an operator and/or builder/maintainer, and yes, M4C is a good place to do that.

But you’re going to have to endure some attitude. Now, the attitude seldom comes from the real pros, the founding members who were frustrated by the limitations of the Arfcom platform; instead it comes from their fanboys. It’s a bit like the letters guys write to Road & Track magazine disparaging the Ferrari in favor of the Lamborghini, where you can tell from their words and attitude that they drive to work in a nine-year-old Accord (NTTAWWT). We see guys get brand-snobbish on, for instance, upper receivers, and shake our heads. It’s basically a connecting part that has few critical dimensions (parallel of the sight rail to the bore axis is one) that are relatively hard to screw up.

Now, when one of the armorers says he opened the boxes on 400 Brand B carbines and the carrier keys were not staked, that’s a reasonable data point. When some kid whose mode of expression reminds one of the “Chevies eat Fords” t-shirts that grade school kids wore in the 1960s writes that “LMT sucks and BCM is way better,” that’s not. Fortunately newbies seem capable of figuring that out, and the M4C community doesn’t tolerate assclowns, but its toleration of empty snobbery sets them up.

While it’s great to build your dream AR, remember that the popularity of parts and accessories waxes and wanes, and today’s AR will be as clearly a marker of 2014 as an XM16E1 is of 1966. And remember that the guys who just did the incredible rescue of 8 al-Qaeda hostages in Yemen probably carried that were very carefully inspected and maintained, and somewhat personalized in their accessories, but fundamentally standard factory-produced guns.

The Bottom Line on M4Carbine.net:

The reason we go there, and the reason you should go there, snobs and all, is this: no one of us individually has the knowledge available at M4C collectively. Read and watch the threads, so that you can, when you need to, ask for help from those experts without inflaming the fanboy contingent, and your experience with the site will be very rewarding.

UPDATE

Sorry this did not post on time. Holidays, you know? Thanksgiving will be a normal posting day, just late, late, late.

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.