Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

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.

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: Precision Rifle Blog

precision_rifle_blogWe don’t know how we missed this guy, PrecisionRifleBlog.com, until now. As long time readers know, we have always admired the empirical, side-by-side A-B testing, like the tests that Andrew Tuohy carried out on his own website, Vuurwapen blog, and later at the sadly moribund Lucky Gunner Labs and The Firearm Blog (just search for his name on those sites — if he did it, it’s good. He’s a young man, but he has his stuff in one bag). It reminds us of a scientific experiment. In the same vein, we have enjoyed some of the experiments that Phil Dater PhD did with barrel length, muzzle velocity, and sound pressure levels. Science FTW!

Now, wouldn’t it be neat if somebody did something like that with rifle scopes, among other precision rifle data sets? Turns out, somebody has; his name is Cal Zant and his website, Precision Rifle Blog, promises “a data-driven approach” to long-range, precision shooting. Cal delivers that, in spades. That’s why he’s the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

Let’s show you one example of his coolest recent research, an incredible comparison test of high-end rifle scopes. These are the sort of scopes you’d apply to a precision rifle for target, hunting, or war.  He has conducted a well-planned and thorough battery of tests of 18 high-end scopes, side-by-side, using a pretty solid array of methodologies. Then, he ranked the scopes according to a weighting scheme that he worked out based on what respondents to a survey said was important.

best-tactical-rifle-scopes

Every step of his way, he shows his work. Disagree with his weighting scheme? All the data are there; you can draft your own and see how that changes the ranks. Some features are not important to you? Delete them from the weighting scheme and recalculate. The data are all there, and will cost you only the considerable time needed to read and consider them.

The two essential links are to the Field Test Results Summary and the Buyers Guide and Features to Look For.

But those alone don’t tell the whole story, because he’s also included in-depth links and all his methodologies. Not surprising in the STEM world, especially in engineering, the end of STEM furthest from all the theory. And even if you read all the links, you may have further questions, especially if you’re not well-versed in optics terminology. (We thought we were; the site disabused us of that notion right smartly). So he provides an extremely useful online glossary. Confused by the difference between miliradian-based (Mil) and minute-of-angle (MOA) reticles? He’s not, and you won’t be either, if you read his page on the subject. (Short version: if you’re a yards-and-inches guy, you might be happier with MOA, if you’re metricated, you’ll want a mil reticle and turrets).

You can quibble with the weighting scheme, or bellyache that your favorite scope was not included, but we’re still just struggling with the disbelief of the whole thing: that someone would do all this work for nothing but the pleasure of doing it, and then bestow it on the rest of us.

best-long-range-cartridgesAt this point, you might think that Precision Rifle is all about scopes, and it’s not. That’s just an example of what he’s got for you over there. Here’s another example — a chart from a long article on the calibers most used by National Championships’ top 50 competitive shooters. It’s interesting that the question of caliber is now down to 6 or 6½ millimeters, at least among top 50 competitors. We didn’t know that before reading it on Precision Rifle.

Go, and return smarter, grasshoppers.

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Satan

There are murders that are just the routine day-by-day slovenly lives of the ghetto. And there are murders that shock the conscience. And there are murders that make you wonder what the hell the Burger Court was thinking when they limited the application of the death penalty to people like these two pictured rotters who just. Need. Killing.

Algarad satanist and burch satanist

But let’s begin with a moment of silence for one of their victims, Josh Wetzler, and his mother, Martha, from WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC:

Martha Wetzler… last spoke to her son in June 2009.
….soon after his disappearance…  police started looking into Pazuzu Algarad – a self-proclaimed Satanist.

Algarad’s home in Clemmons is painted with pentagrams, and his tongue is surgically forked.

Family members said he bragged about killing people and burying them in his backyard.

Boy howdy, is this guy sending all the signals of “I’m’a gonna get me SSDI for unemployability!” or what?

Neckbeard… check. Jobstopper tattoos and body mods… check. Phony-baloney name, “Pazuzu Algarad”… attention-whoring check. Bogus scary religion that says “look at me, I’m a unique and special snowflake”… check. Boasting about killing people, and boasting about where he buried them… freakin’ priceless.

Five years ago, police searched the backyard and found nothing.

Never underestimate the detective ability of PC Plod.

Recently, there was another murder investigation at the same home.

Meanwhile, five years of boasts about the deaders in the yard, so Plod comes back to look again.

This time, they found the remains of Joshua Wetzler and another man, Tommy Welch.
Algarad allegedly killed Wetzler, and Algarad’s wife, Amber Burch, allegedly killed Welch, according to arrest warrants.

Ah, so that’s where the body was… where the murderer said he left it! Imagine that. As Martha Wetzler notes, “They couldn’t have searched very well.”

Of course, imagine PC Plod finding poor Wetzler’s remains back in 2009. Algarad would be in Alcatraz (or the nearest thing NC has thereto) and Tommy Welch would not be any deader than the rest of us.

Algarad and Burch are each charged with one count of murder and one count of accessory after the fact to murder, police said.

Authorities believe the couple helped each other bury the bodies.

via Satanist and wife killed men, buried them in yard, police say | www.actionnewsjax.com.

Young romance, it’s so… special. How tragic that these two beauties will be confined in separate prisons.

Fortunately, the ACLU will help them get a Satanist chaplain (think we’re making that up?) and who knows, maybe they’ll be able to rack up a few more human sacrifices whilst they’re in the slammer.

Of course, don’t they need some test dummies for ebola treatments? What Would China Do?

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.