Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: CDR Salamander

Screenshot 2015-05-28 00.04.50There are some military blogs that have been around for a long time. One of the first we recall reading was CDR Salamander — a man in the long tradition of writing Naval officers. Before there were blogs, a military person separated from the service either had to find kindred souls locally, or subscribe to things that were printed on the pulp of dead trees.  During our short interregnum between active duty and finding a Reserve SF unit, we kept in touch with the military by joining organizations, and when it came time to join the Association of the US Army we jumped ship and joined the US Naval Institute instead. The reasons were simple: the swabbies could write. Our guys couldn’t. USNI’s Proceedings is stuffed with thought-provoking ideas expressed with verve, whereas Army was, in those days, as informative and lively as a gathering of Soviet agronomists celebrating the overfulfillment of the latest 5-year plan. (We don’t know if Proceedings still rocks and Army still sucks, but they sure did, then).

And Salamander? Dude can write. (In fact, these days he publishes his deeper thoughts on the US Naval Institute’s blog, but when he does, he links them via his blog.

He has a sense of humor, as his Buzzword-Bingo-champion blog tagline suggests:

PROACTIVELY “FROM THE SEA”; LEVERAGING THE LITTORAL BEST PRACTICES FOR A PARADIGM BREAKING SIX-SIGMA BEST BUSINESS CASE TO SYNERGIZE A CONSISTENT DESIGN IN THE GLOBAL COMMONS, RIGHTSIZING THE CORE VALUES SUPPORTING OUR MISSION STATEMENT VIA THE 5-VECTOR MODEL THROUGH CULTURAL DIVERSITY.

via CDR Salamander.

Recent posts include thoughtful adumbrations on PTSD; on how idiots keep expecting airpower without ground troops to accomplish anything, in the face of a century of contrary evidence; on the decommissioning of the USS Samuel B. Robertsa ship that was attacked by the Iranians in 1987 (and bears the name of a ship that fought with distinction in the Pacific in WWII); and one of our favorites, one wondering why the Navy has the free-for-all of ideas that characterizes the USNI, while the Air Force has generals that call pilots out for “treason”, because the jocks tried to save the A-10 by calling their Congressmen. (Oops, that actual post of his is at the USNI blog; the post in his own blog just links to it. By the way, the general in question has been defenestrated).

Another truly stunning post, stunning because we’d heard nothing about it, involved the shoehorning of female Midshipmen (wait, shouldn’t that be Midshippersons? Or maybe just Misdhips?) into grudgingly tailored male uniforms in pursuit of SecNav and Social justice Warrior Ray Mabus’s declared objective of a gender-neutral Navy1.

Now, we don’t much like Mabus. While happily presiding over a decline in naval strength more profound than, and nearly as tragic as, that of the morning of 7 December 41, his focus is on happily persecuting Christians. And he’s the guy who’s named ship after ship for undistinguished politicians.

Mabus just declared, today, that he wants female SEALs within two years. He orders it done, and orders that however it is done, it won’t be by lowering standards… just “changing” them. Gender-neutral SEALs. We can’t wait to see what Commander Salamander has to say about that.

Notes

  1. Yeah, that sounds bizarre as all get-out, but Sal’s got the message traffic that supports it (emphasis ours):

1.0 Background. In conjunction with the Gender Neutral effort endorsed by SECNAV, NEXCOM via N13 has tasked Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) to develop a Female Service Dress White Coat design that mirrors the Male Service Dress White Choker Coat design ….

They want to stuff all female naval officers into this male uniform (the Midshippettes have complained they can’t move their arms in the guy coats, only to be told, who knows more about what women want, you chicks or Ray Mabus?), but they’re starting with the Midshipmen, who are pretty  defenseless against the Gender Neutral buggernaut from the E-Ring. They plan to do the same to USMC officers, too.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: A View From the Porch

a_view_from_the_porchDespite the name, Tam Keel’s website isn’t really a view from her porch. Not usually, anyway. (And it isn’t always about what its URL suggests: books, bikes, boomsticks… in fact, those things usually show up in the exact inverse frequency). So what is in, then? It’s a view from her home in Indiana, or from the range (she gets there a lot, and is carving out a career as a “real” gun writer) or from the road as she drives around and takes photos of things that catch her eye.

Her scope is grand and her curiosity infectious, and her command of the language is truly master-class. She uses that command, frequently, to afflict, perhaps not the comfortable in the barnacled phrase of Finlay Peter Dunne, but perhaps, to afflict the smug and sanctimonious. 

Plus, we agree with her a lot, and that is a known indicator of genius to the military mind:

Today, for example, she’s had a post agreeing with Chris Hernandez (and your WeaponsMan) about the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy meltdown (she’s a genius!), an update on a SIG P320 she’s testing (for a dead-tree mag, we “thimk”); one on Sudden Jihad Syndrome in reference to the Garland, TX botched attack (more genius!), and a thoughtful and balanced post on the new Russian Armata T-14 tank (which we mean to write about, as Silicon Valley vaporware firms say, Real Soon Now, but this post brings her to Triple Secret Genius or something).

If you like her blog, you may not like WeaponsMan, but if you do like WM you will almost certainly like hers. If it seems slow over there, give her some time, there’s a lot of volatility in her posting schedule, and a little patience will be rewarded with something that will make you either smarter or happier — often, both.

We can relate to some of her interests (guns! cars! Even old film cameras, although we’ve moved on from those) more than others, but that’s OK, she’s always got something good for all of us to read .

A Brief Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Waffenkultur

Cover of the current issue.

Cover of the current issue.

Most of you can probably figure out what Waffenkultur means, knowing that the German language has an affinity for compound words, and that Waffen is the word for Weapons. And yes, while there are some false cognates between Deutsch and Englisch, as it happens, kultur is a true cognate, nearly the same in both languages. So the name of the publication is Weapons Culture.

Its subtitle is, “The Open-Source Magazine for Weapons Users.” It’s been published since 2011 and all issues can be found on the website.

It’s published online for the whole German-speaking (well, -reading) world, which may not include all of you. You can download the issues as .pdfs, or read them online; so for our fellow Americans who are convinced that the secret to communicating with any foreigner is louder, slower English, you can run them through Google Translate.

Cover of the first issue, 30 Sep 2011.

Cover of the first issue, 30 Sep 2011.

Run through Hoggle Translate, the contents of the latest issue (link’s to the .pdf):

  • More than just a “plop”: Suppressors on the hunt
  • Black Label M4: Long Term Test Intermediate Report
  • Made in Bavaria: TPG-3 A5 by Unique Alpine
  • Old Acquaintance: Aimpoint Micro T-2
  • IWA 2015: What we noticed (IWA is a large annual trade show in Nuremburg. 2015’s set a new attendance record)
  • EnforceTac 2015: Riding the Security Updraft (a report on a sub-expo devoted to law enforcement and security “stuff”).
  • Quality Close Up: The Gamsbokk Tacstar Professional (review of high-end field pants)
  • Interceptor: Foul Weather Jacket MIG 2.0 by Carinthia
  • Let’s blow some shit up: Tannerite exploding targets  (This was in English in the contents!)
  • Book Recommendations

Update

Here’s the link to the main site. Apologies for not including it A brief word about the contents: high-end modern guns and gear for the modern Teuton. (Not historic stuff).  Frederick the Great would probably approve.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: ?

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

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

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

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

https://www.google.com/search?&q=forgotten+wednesday+site:weaponsman.com

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

Notes

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

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Just Fieldstrip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: GridDownMed.com

griddownmed_screenshot_2Also known (at least until a certain authoress sets her lawyers on them) as the Hogwarts School of Grid-Down Medicine. We’ve always been interested in field medicine. It’s a basic fact that SF guys don’t work alone; along with the indispensable weapons men, and the sometimes indispensable team leader and team tech, there are four other enlisted specializations on the team, all of which come in handy sooner or later: engineering, communications, operations and intelligence, and, last but definitely not least, medicine. An SF medic has trained, and once he’s been around for a few years, practiced, medical treatment of his team, his indigenous troops, and often local civilians (and their livestock) in the operational area. He has become an artist; his paints are an aid bag and a sharp, developed mind, and his canvas is the sick or wounded human body. He also takes on the thankless task of training his team’s cognitively-challenged bullet-launcher operators, mad demolitionists, nerdy radio hams and vainglorious officers how to keep one another alive if he and his Junior Medic get hit by the proverbial crosstown bus.

The guys who write for this site (frequent commenter, and nearly as frequent SoCal job hunter, Aesop may be joining them soon) remind us of those dedicated medics who taught us how to bring a patient back from death’s door — and made us show them we were paying attention, with live patients. They know where the bodies are buried, as the saying goes, sometimes because their error put ’em there. And they know triage in a way you don’t “know” it until you’ve lived it: when to take their time, when the Reaper has hounded them into an all-out effort, and when efforts are futile. And they express this with the wit and sturdy black humor for which the profession is noted (see the bottom entry under “Irreversible shock” below).

shock-chart

The site is clear, thorough, and opinionated in a good way. (Hint: Jenny McCarthy will not like their opinion of her personal quest for the Ignoble Prize for Medicine. “Field medicine” doesn’t need to include arrant quackery. Nay, it needs not to).

Emergency medicine today is highly developed and systematized, and they’ve given a lot of thought to what from this system works in an off-grid situation, and what doesn’t.

One of the most intriguing things we saw here was a post (promising more to come) on manufacturing insulin in austere conditions. The glowing example is a refugee couple who rolled their own whilst besieged in Shanghai during World War II.

Another is this post about the Shelf Life Extension Program. It’s long been an open secret that we in SF, like many missionary and other austere-medicine groups, use medications past their expiration date. (We’re also kind of anal about how we store them… lots of environmental things, like UV light, can kill meds). And there’s a great post about cold weather and hypothermia — it’s simple basics, but a young woman just died an hour from here, for want of simple basics. The whole site is strongly recommended.

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!