Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: N6CC

What’s that? It sounds like a ham callsign? And we think that’s what N6CC.com stands for, although the site breaks it out as Navy 6 Combat Coms. But what we were flagged to was the site author, Tim Sammons’s, stories of his service in the Navy on a forgotten class of small combatants, the Trumpy class PTF patrol boats. The boats were American-made licensed copies of the Norwegian Nasty class boats that were used by the maritime operations wing of SOG in the Vietnam War. Tim has great stories of the Trumpys he knew, PTF-17, -18, and -19, boats that resembled in style, construction and size the classic Elco PT boats of World War II.

cropped-PTF17-Wtrmrk1

The names? The source of Nasty is not clear; during their brief service in the US Navy they were known only by numbers. Trumpy is easier to figure out; the American boats were built to the Norwegian plan by now-defunct yacht builders John Trumpy & Sons.

 

They were powered by the bizarre and tremendous Napier Deltic diesels, strange engines with three crankshafts arranged triangularly, with cylinders in between, and two pistons in each cylinder — one coming in from each end, until they’d compressed the charge enough to fire. The Deltics were turbosupercharged, put out a staggering 3100 horsepower each (the boats had two) and could drive the wooden Trumpys to 45 knots, sea state permitting.

 

They were also armed with a small arsenal of 40mm, 20mm, .50 caliber guns and an 81mm mortar. Tim has a page specifically on armament — you guys might like that.

In Tim’s day, he patrolled the Great Lakes, but he has some interesting information about the Trumpys’ predecessors, the Nastys, in Vietnam, and the Trumpys’ ill-fated successors, the Osprey class (whose aluminum hulls were found to be too fragile for the mission).

If you want more info on the boats’ wartime adventures, see pftnasty.com and warboats.org where there are a lot of firsthand stories of these fast little combatants.

It isn’t just boats. Naturally, there’s a lot of cool commo gear on his website, including a clever hack that uses a VFO to stand in for a crystal in an AN/GRC-109 radio. (If you don’t know what that is, just crank this generator while Tim and I tune the antenna….). The hack will work with the OSS/Agency clandestine RS-1, too, which is a very close sibling of the 109.

Other cool stuff on Tim’s website include camouflaged or covert antennas and many other communications rigs, and annotated photos of the communications gear from the commo wing of the museum that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam made of the Presidential Palace of once-free Vietnam. Poor Thieu’s, or maybe by then it was Big Minh’s, situation map still is stuck to a wall in there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

At Cu Chi, he laid out $17 to fire 10 rounds out of an AK. The NVA fought capitalism before succumbing to it.

VietnamTSAK47-2-2048x1536

There’s also an interesting exploration of the wreck site of a rare B-17C (no B-17 that old survives intact).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Wolfram Alpha

wa screenshot mainThis is not a weapons site at all, but it is extremely useful, and beyond its immediate utility, its potential is staggering. It came to mind recently when we were looking at some undersized holes, and couldn’t remember the decimal size of a particular numbered drill bit. We did the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass: asked Siri, the voice processor in the iPhone. She used Wolfram Alpha to tell us.

The website parses natural language (sometimes perfectly, sometimes comically) and can answer a wide range of questions.

The brainchild of Steve Wolfram, the genius behind Mathematica, Wolfram Alpha has a goal that is nothing short of staggering:

Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels.

Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram notes that when computers first began to spread in academia, government and industry, everyone assumed the day would come when you could just ask the computer anything, and it would answer. The television shows of the 1960s especially popularized this idea, but to Steve’s frustration, the computers of today just could not do it.

In the end, Wolfram Alpha is as much an attempt to deliver a new qualitative variety of encyclopedia, a quest they trace to Pliny’s Encyclopedia of 78 AD and further back to the invention of numbers and arithmetic 20,000 years before Christ, on a timeline of human knowledge  that’s breathtaking in its depth — and in the way it suggests both a secular trend of accelerating knowledge growth, and that clusters of roughly contemporaneous knowledge growth suggest a punctuated equilibrium in that growth.

Wolfram Alpha can be used for practical purposes, too. To get a general idea of the properties of a material, just type it in.

 

It has limitations. We struck out trying to get it to calculate end mill feed rates (perhaps we haven’t found the right syntax yet). And if you need the Young’s Modulus for 6061T6 and not for generic “aluminum alloy,” you’re SOL. And asking it to compare the Young’s Modulus of steel and aluminum, we got this:

wa_screenshot

It’s a comparison, alright, but not a terribly helpful one as it sits.

For over a decade, then, WA has felt like a public beta, but when it works there’s nothing quite like it, and for simple timewasting mind-expansion, it’s hard to beat.

Wednesday (?) Weapons Website of the Week: The Diplomad

(Yes, this was supposed to hit on Wednesday. We’re playing catch-up this weekend. -Ed.)

the_diplomadThe Diplomad is not a weapons blog, but it’s a blog by a guy who would have weaponized our foreign policy, if he had been in charge. But this is the State Department we’re talking about here: a bunch of reality-light college kids who are determined to play “lions lay down with lambs,” and moreover, convinced that the moral superiority of being the lamb in that scenario is its own reward.

We would have been terrible misfits in the Department of State, and we get a sense that W. Lewis Amselem, who outed himself only after retirement, was a misfit there too. He’s our kind of guy.

The original Diplomad blog was anonymous, and closed down at one point, presumably because the Diplomatic Security Service was on Amselem’s trail; fortunately, there are few safer ways to secure your backtrail than to put DSS, the armed and credentialed equivalent of the TSA, on exposing it.

Amselem was already legendary in the Department (both among angry leadership and closeted corners of competence) for a 1993 cable he wrote, tying the department’s fuzzy-thinking affirmative action bureaucracy in knots with its own words. A taste:

If you are serious about racial labels, then Department medical services should be brought in to determine degrees of racial “purity.” You can hire phrenologists and other experts on racial traits. There are lots of those people now unemployed in South Africa or under false names in Paraguay (better move on this last group fast, they’re getting old).

He reprints the entire cable here. It was a monument of snark, and made him beloved among a certain type of foreign service officer; conversely, it made him Target For Today every day in the department’s executive suites. Here’s one more snippet:

Diversity zealots are toying with explosive issues; no matter how “civilized” we think we are, eventually, as we have  seen in Yugoslavia and only God knows how many other places, we all will come out to defend our ethnicity, race, religion,  etc.–and at times violently. Call it tribalism or whatever  you want, but it’s there under the surface. Let it stay there; don’t stir it up with misguided polices.

Of course, his cautions were ignored, and the DOS is more of a mess today than it was twenty years ago when he wrote the cable.

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