Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

Quick Consumer Tip: LOSD book, 25% off

Law of Self Defense Andrew BrancaWe have this book and we paid full freight for it, and it was worth every damn penny. You can get it for 25% off, if you act now.

Did we mention that we liked and recommend the book?

The book, The Law of Self Defense, is by the nation’s leading self-defense legal expert, Andrew Branca, a Massachusetts (of all places!) lawyer. And now you can get it for 25% off, and you can give credit to the CSGV, which is some anti-gun group. (They don’t have much of a real-world presence, they’re just more Bloomberg astroturf, which is why we forget how the acronym breaks out, but it’s something along the lines of Criminals Shooting Guns Viciously, or something like that).

You can get the book here, and put the following code in to save 25%: @CSGV.

Heh. As Andrew said in his Tweet announcing the price break, “No joke.”

So why did he give credit to his readers, in the name of the notorious anti-gun group? It’s like this: they’ve been trying to get him disinvited from the various universities where he’s been speaking on his summer lecture tour this year. They’ve been trying to shut him up. (Lotsa luck with that, kiddies).

Of course, they haven’t had any success; but that’s to be expected. Crazy Uncle Mikey Bloomberg’s money buys more persistence than it does competence.

Plus, he’s selling more books and getting more people at the seminars he’s been holding thanks to the attack. (Hmm. If a cyber attack can come from something we define as a Advanced Persistent Threat, is this inept and backfiring approach to silencing Branca more of a Retarded Persistent Threat? Could be. As he put it in his blog,  “Anyway, I certainly hope they keep it up–I couldn’t possibly afford to pay for this kind of advertising…. Indeed, I’m going to get both those tweets blown up and hung on my office wall, like animal trophies. :-)”

So what is best on a book tour? We don’t expect to hear from Andrew about that until he, and his motorcycle, are back in New England, but we would guess it sounds something like: “To crush your enemies. And hear the lamentations of their women.”

And, don’t forget you’ll be hearing the lamentations of their girly-men, too. So amble on over to the LOSD store, and get yourself (and maybe your pistol-packin’ pals; they need it too) a copy of this excellent book.

Hat tip, the estimable John Richardson at No Lawyers.

Guess how the VA solved their backlog problem?

VA-veterans-affairsHey, they just deleted the records of the problem — including the records of vets who were queued up waiting for their appointments to ripen in the sun for seven years and more.

VA Secretary Rick Shinseki: men follow him, but only out of morbid curiosity.

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.

The problem was that many patients had been delayed and delayed, some for years. But VA performance metrics tend to make any delay costly to the hospital or clinic that’s backlogged. The VA’s Los Angeles officials weren’t too bothered with delays in the radiology department that were seven years old or longer, but the backlogs threatened fundings and incentives — in other words, it was close to costing these payroll patriots money. 

What do you think they did? If you didn’t immediately think, “Cancel and flush everything a year old or older,” sorry, #youdonthavewhatittakestobeaVAbureaucrat.

“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” [former-Marine Oliver] Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

So, VA doc Suzie El-Saden just had the records flushed. Hey, if the vets really needed help, they could just resubmit for another 7-year-delay leading to another cancellation. That’ll teach ‘em to inconvenience the VA hospital system with actual patients. 

It gets better. Mitchell filed a complaint with the Inspector General. What did the supposedly independent VA IG do? Take the complaint to El-Saden. “Hey, this guy is complaining about you and advocating for the vets. He’s not a team player.”

So Mitchell was binned. And El-Saden? She’s still there, still too busy to see patients.

The Office of Special Counsel investigated and found that the records deletion was not unique to LA. In fact, it was nationwide. Therefore, It is the general policy of OSC not to transmit an allegation of wrongdoing to the head of the agency involved, where the agency’s OIG or its delegate, is currently investigating or has investigated, the same allegations. Consequently, this office will take no further action concerning this allegation.”

Get that? Rick Shinseki’s VA was destroying records nationwide, and OIG had already blown it off in other jurisdictions. So no point looking into it in Los Angeles.

You’re looking at contraband here

What, the guns? These three beautifully engraved guns by the late Indiana engraving wizard Ben Shostle — a Luger, a Mauser, and a Colt — are being auctioned as a lot by Amoskeag Auction Company of Manchester, New Hampshire next month. But as it turns out, it’s not the guns: it’s the grips.

Amoskeag 6393-171 Shostle engraved Luger etc


The little .25 hammerless Colt 1908 is out of the woods. As you can see from the picture (and do embiggen it), the Browning-designed pocket pistol’s grips are mother-of-pearl.

But the grips of the other two guns are ivory. We’re reminded of the famous statement by George S. Patton Jr.: “Only a pimp in a whorehouse would have pearl grips on a handgun! My pistols’ grips are ivory.”


But as it turns out, there’s trouble with ivory.

Ivory is a natural material, which comes from the tasks of elephants. All three species’ tusks yield ivory, but the pure white, durable ivory we know on gun grips comes from African bush elephants, loxodonta africana. Because of habitat destruction and poaching, all elephants are endangered species. Therefore, traffic in newly-processed ivory has been banned for 25 years in the United States. In the rest of the civilized world, ivory that has been harvested in accordance with environmental and species-preservation best practices is still available for sale, with appropriate certifications. But the US does not accept that. So the only ivory you see on American guns is either old ivory, that predates the 1989 Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), or it’s false, artificial ivory. Doug Bandow writes at Forbes about the way the law has worked, right up until now:

Until now the rules were simple and sensible. Ivory imported legally, that is, prior to 1989 or after 1989 with CITES certification that international standards were met, could be sold. Older ivory usually can be identified by coloring, stains, style, wear, quality, subject, and more. Some features can be faked, but most of the older work simply isn’t replicated today.

Moreover, the burden of proof fell on the government, which had to prove that you violated the law. That standard is inconvenient for zealous prosecutors. But that’s the way America normally handles both criminal and civil offenses.

A new administrative rule promulgated by the Obama Administration (1) bans all sales of ivory items that are not documented as having been imported pre-1989; (2) establishes a presumption that all ivory, anywhere, in the USA, is contraband, a presumption that can only be rebutted with comprehensive documentation; and puts the burden on the possessor of the ivory to prove his innocence, whilst relieving prosecutors of the burden of proving anyone’s guilt.

The rules will be enforced by armed agents — including, we are not making this up, SWAT teams — of the Fish & Wildlife Service, which has been frustrated by the difficulty of finding and prosecuting actual poached-ivory traffickers, and has decided to pimp its confiscation and conviction numbers. To do this, it’s going to refocus on heirloom ivory by turning all possessors into criminals with a penstroke, and make lots of busts rapidly so as to have an excuse for increases in headcount and budget.

Resources have already been shifted from pursuing the criminal element — Bandow cites a pair of New York contraband dealers who were busted with millions of dollars’ worth of poached ivory — to targeting the easier-to-find heirloom market. The shift in the presumption of innocence and standard of proof means that the F&WS Fishtapo needn’t be inconvenience by that pesky Constitution or the blatherings of defense attorneys.

Why? In a .pdf from last November that predates the new rules, the Fishtapo explains that:

It is extremely difficult to differentiate legally acquired ivory, such as ivory imported in the 1970s, from ivory derived from elephant poaching. Our criminal investigations and anti- smuggling efforts have clearly shown that legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade.

So they “solve” the problem, by making all ivory illegal. No decision for PC Plod to overheat his brain stem with; no pesky legal market. Not only do they no longer have to figure out who the illegal traffickers are hiding among the legal sellers, they don’t even have to look for the illegal traffickers anymore.

(Incidentally, that .pdf explains that the economic illiterates of the Fishtapo think that they’re reducing demand for ivory by destroying it… they explain how reducing the supply reduces the demand! Someone give those bozos the Nobel Prize for Inverted Economics).

We’re still looking for the actual NPRM, but if it’s as Bandow describes it, you know what else is banned? Bringing back your elephant trophy from an African safari. CITES allowed about 1430 sport-hunted elephants’ tusks to be exported from a variety of African nations last year, perfectly legally and with full international approval. After all, those nations use hunting as a key tool in wildlife management. Now, under the new rules, designed so that no Fishtapo agent need ever sweat, or even look for an actual criminal, to make a case ever again, they can’t be imported or possessed. Hell, they can’t be transported inter- or intra-state.

Whose idea was this? It’s hard to say, because it comes from Washington, where everybody lines up to cash his check, but no one lines up to take any responsibility. According to Bandow, the idea was cooked up in a star chamber somewhere in official Washington, with no input from the sort of people who might own an old Steinway with ivory keys — or an engraved, ivory-handled pistol.

Hat tip: Wizbang blog, which can’t resist snarking: “Of course, we know that Obama is interested in saving the animals from the land of his birth, and all, but…” Of course they’re joking. 

Optics for Beginners, by Chris Hernandez

Pick one. But how? (photo of a pile of scopes found on an online forum).

Pick one. But how? (photo of a pile of scopes found on an online forum).

Here’s a small snip from a post by Chris Hernandez at The New Rifleman, a blog aimed at rifle n00bs. Hey, everybody’s a n00b once, and the variety of optics available now can be confusing, so a review of the basics hurteth not.

Example: for complicated reasons, when the SOPMOD I gear shipped, we got bare equipment with no instructions and no training, so we had to figure it out on our own. That was not entirely fun.

In this snip, Chris tells you what he used, and a few facts about the civilian rifleman. Some of these facts probably qualify as “Tough love.”

I’m not a sniper, nor do I have extensive experience with optics in the civilian world. What I do have, however, is a decent background in military optics from my twenty-plus years in the Marine Reserve and Army National Guard, including two combat deployments where I used an Aimpoint CCO (Close Combat Optic), Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), and Leupold MR/T (Medium Range Tactical scope). In the Marines my secondary MOS was 8531, Marksmanship Coach. I’m also a school-trained Army Squad Designated Marksman (SDM), meaning I’ve attended a two-week course which taught me to hit man-sized targets with an M16A4 out to 600 meters with iron sights and ACOGs. So I’ve got a decent background in medium to long range shooting, with and without optics.

So, first thing: If you’re a typical civilian shooter with limited training time and limited money for an optic and training ammo, there’s no reason to try to make yourself a sniper. It’s not going to happen. In the Army, with government ammo and decades of institutional marksmanship knowledge, the average soldier only shoots to 300 meters. And some of them struggle with that. So it’s not really feasible for the average civilian shooter, with extremely limited training resources, to expect to shoot like a sniper.

Second thing: For most modern combat, 300 meters is plenty far. I carried an M14EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle) in Afghanistan, and I could consistently hit a torso-sized rock at 900 meters – at the range, with perfect weather conditions, a good firing position, on a stationary target at a known distance. In combat, with extreme heat or cold, unknown distances, hasty firing positions, adrenaline and moving targets, plus little annoyances like incoming fire, I would have been ecstatic to smoke a mofo at 200 meters.

Third: 300 meters is about the practical limit for civilians in any foreseeable domestic combat situation. If you’re preparing to defend your family from rampaging gangsters, it’s not likely you’ll find yourself sniping them from 500 meters. Urban combat is a close-in affair. In Iraq, enemy snipers sometimes engaged from within 100 meters. Unless you’re defending a farm in the middle of acres of cleared land, you probably won’t do any long range shooting

There’s a ton more good info on the site, so get thee hence and Read The Whole Thing™.

We’d add a few bullet points:

  • Almost nobody is as good a shot as he thinks he is.
  • If he hasn’t been practicing, he’s not the shot he used to be, either.
  • And he’s definitely not the shot he thinks he was. 
  • ACOGs are the heat. They have something many scopes don’t: durability. In our opinion, they lose sales because they’ve got so many variations and models that it confuses people. Just get one with the right BDC for your barrel length and caliber.
  • But for a home defense or truck gun, a high quality red dot is probably your best choice.
  • In optics, you get what you pay for except at the very high tail of the cost bell curve, where most people can’t exploit the marginal differences in performance.
  • The flipside of that? You’re better off buying a cheaper rifle and a more expensive scope than you originally planned.
  • Lots of phony optics out there. Protect yourself (we wrote about this back in 2012, a couple of times).
  • Scopes put the target and the aiming point in the same focal plane, so they’re extremely beneficial to novice shooters, and also to shooters who wear glasses or have some eye problems.
  • Night vision compatibility is cool. Shooting with night vision is also a perishable skill that needs to be practiced. If you don’t already have a night vision monocular or goggles, and don’t have a need or a way to practice with them, don’t pay extra for this capability; all you get is bragging rights, nothing practical for you.
  • Chris’s post is a great place for a beginner to, well, begin. Read The Whole Thing™ (you knew we were gonna say that, right?)

Finally, don’t be too eager to step in to complicated and advanced techniques like shooting at moving targets, shooting on the move, clearing structures, obstructed areas, or linear targets, or engaging targets that are higher up or lower than your position. Work on accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Speed will come in due course, once you’re consistent enough to be accurate.

It’s official: Now everything’s “tactical”

Tactical shelves. Lord love a duck.

Tactical Shelf

Still, the idea of having secret compartments appeals to the little kid in all of us. It’s also a great way to ingratiate yourself with kids, grandkids, or nephews — if you’re 100% sure they can be trusted — even then, don’t show them everything. They can’t give up what they don’t know, even under torture.

The guys selling this stuff do make one error, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

The shelves are reasonably priced for semi-custom concealment pieces. They’re available from Tactical (what else?) Walls, and we saw them in the following writeup at earlier this month:

Obscurity is best security.

The big one runs $380 and the little one runs $280. They of course can be modded with accessories tailored to a wide variety of gun configurations.

They are designed to work with standard 2×4 walls and the bookends are the fixture arms. The tops are cherry-finished hardwood and the shelf is suspended with pneumatic struts to ensure smooth opening. It uses hidden magnet keys to unlock.

Currently Tactical Walls is taking pre-orders on their Tactical Shelves and expect delivery to begin in February.

via Does your shelf need more gun? Meet the Tactical Shelf (8 PHOTOS).

Tactical Walls also has other concealment products, including wall inserts you can cover with the artwork of your choice, and “built-in mirrors” the slide away when unlocked with a special magnetic key.

The shelves have one benefit the wall-based products don’t have, and that’s that they can be used even in a rented house. While it would be better fix them much more securely, they can be held on with just a few screws into a stud, almost as if you were hanging up a mirror or artwork.

We mentioned before that Tactical Walls is wrong about one thing. It is this: obscurity isn’t security. Any pro will find these. Even sketchy hophead burglars routinely remove all mirrors and artwork from walls. And they’re usually not very fastidious about it; they have a tendency to leave your Vermeers in a pile. On the other hand, if your taste in art runs more to Elvis on velvet, they will actually take that stuff. After all, unlike a Vermeer, they can find somebody that will fence that for them. Obviously, if your Vermeer, or Elvis, or mirror concealed your firearms, you’ve made a bunch of very happy burglars.

For real security, you have to put some obstacle to them removing your stuff, even if they know it is there. There’s nothing that’s perfectly secure; even a heavy gun safe can be carted off to be worked on at leisure using heavy tools or even a torch. Physical security experts classify things like safes in terms of how long they can resist an attack by manipulation, or an attack by brute force. So the very best security would combine the obscurity of these great designs from Tactical Walls, with something that would actually slow down and inhibit a burglar’s attack and making him spend more time on site. Burglars don’t like that. With increased time on site, their exposure to capture is increased exponentially, especially if you have alarms and other physical security measures in place.

Another physical security measure is a honeypot. One honeypot you can use is a cheap gun safe, the kind you can buy at Walmart, with a couple of cheap and nonfunctional guns inside. The burglars will be so thrilled to find the safe that they will stop looking for concealment measures. Conversely, if the word gets out that you own guns, the burglars will keep looking until they find them, even if they have to tear out all your walls and bust all your shelves.

Layers of security, you see, beat any possible single security measure. In a layered security environment, Tactical Walls’ wall concealments and shelf concealment products can be an excellent part of an overall security plan.


‘Legendary’ 704 bolt guns to return

You might not have heard of the Ed Brown bolt actions — Brown is much better known for pistols — but they used to make a hell of a bolt-action rifle on what was an improved clone of a Remington action. Until 2006, this was the Model 702 and from 2006 to 2010, it was the Model 704. But in August of 2010, Ed Brown Products pulled the plug on its bolt rifles, perhaps to address the pistol backlog. Ed Brown never restarted production of the gun — but it’s coming back anyway.



The Model 704 has a Mauser-style controlled feed instead of the 700′s push feed. One difference between the two is in the design and action of the extractor. In a Mauser, or a 704, the cartridge from the magazine comes up under the extractor and the extractor holds it from the very beginning and controls its path into the breech. It is a very positive feed. In the 700, the cartridge is pushed out of the magazine and into the chamber, very much like the cartridge from an M16 or AK magazine. As in those gas guns, the extractor doesn’t snap over the cartridge rim until the cartridge is seated and the bolt is closing its last millimeter.

An Ed Brown Damara hunting rifle.

An Ed Brown Damara hunting rifle’s action. Fluted bolts are primarily for styling and secondarily for weight reduction in a bolt gun. (Unlike, say, the Sterling SMG, where their primary benefit is trapping combustion by-products and foreign matter. They can do that here, but it’s less of a concern). 

One pro of the push feed system is that it makes it possible to design a bolt with 360º coverage of the bolt head. In theory, this could lead to a stronger gun. In practice, the world is not littered with the carcasses of detonated Mausers, Model 70s and Springfields (well, let’s leave low-number Springfields out of this). One pro of the controlled feed system is that it eliminates a couple of failure to feed failure modes, especially double-feeds — but Africa is not carpeted in the bleached bones of would-be hunters whose push-feed Remington 700s or Weatherby Mark Vs doubled, either. In fact, either gun, well designed and crafted, is more than strong and reliable enough.

The Brown action has the controlled feed of a Mauser or Winchester M70, with the plunger ejector of the Remington or Weatherby instead of the Mauser’s slotted bolt — a nice, and hard-to-execute, combination of technical features. Like most modern bolt guns it has a three-position safety: safe, and bolt locked (best position for hunting, keeps the bolt in battery ’til you need it); safe, and bolt unlocked (best for unloading safely; two-position safeties require you to dump the mag or unload through a hot action); and fire.


Brown guns were premium priced and delivered premium performance. Brown models included a dangerous game rifle in serious African big-game calibers (the “Express”, which replaced the earlier “Bushveld”); a medium hunting rifle (“Savanna”), a light hunter (“Damara”) and a varmint gun. Each had an appropriate McMillian stock, and many had a Shilen match trigger and other premium components. These guns were just an optic away from hunt-ready; a common comment by Brown rifle hunters is that they did not need to customize the rifle in any way.

In addition to the hunting rifles, they made a Tactical (what else?) model in 7.62 NATO or .300WM, and an “M40A2 Marine Sniper” in 7.62 or .30-06 for the traditionalist, a rifle that duplicates a Vietnam era M40 except for the Brown action.

Gee, it’s a shame all this cool stuff went out of production in mid-2010, huh? But it’s coming back! Trop Gun Shop of Lancaster, PA (one of the first vendors to pull out of the Reid version of the Harrisburg gun show, last year) has a manufacturing arm ready to start producing the Brown actions, although they seem to have different plans for the models:



LANCASTER, PA – (January 6, 2014) Trop Manufacturing, LLC announces its acquisition of the Ed Brown 704 rifle from Ed Brown Products, Inc. Under the brand Legendary Arms Works, the storied, but formerly elusive, 704 action, will be joined by the recently acquired High-Tech Specialties stocks and Bansner’s Ultimate Rifles to produce one of the finest, most durable sporting rifles in America, under the direction of master gun builder Mark Bansner.

Referred to by Guns & Ammo magazine as “the most significant advance in bolt action rifle technology in over 100 years,” the 704 action features controlled round feeding, mechanical ejector and 3-position safety. Ed Brown Products had ceased production of the rifles in 2010. Trop Manufacturing has now acquired the means to produce these rifles and, in doing so resurrects, the Ed Brown 704 action.

Trop Manufacturing’s creation of Legendary Arms Works marks the genesis of a new era of sporting rifle manufacturing in America. Incorporating American-made component parts with excellence of craft means a new standard of shooting and hunting rifles in the market.

About Trop Manufacturing, LLC -

Trop Manufacturing, LLC is a rifle manufacturing company located in Lancaster, PA. USA-made components are vital to Trop Manufacturing and as a result, no component part of rifles built by Trop Manufacturing is produced outside of the USA.

via Press Release – TROP Acquires Ed Brown 704 Rifle | Trop GunTrop Gun.

This does at least three things. First, it brings the 704 back to life. Did you get that we were pretty high on the Ed Brown 704? Second, it makes whatever Brown models Trop’s new Legendary Arms Works doesn’t reproduce into instant classics — even more than they already were. Third, it may produce the rifles from a business that is more, shall we say, customer oriented, than Ed Brown Products, whose customer service has been known to extend to “and the horse you rode in on.” (And don’t get us started on his stolen valor shtick, naming a pistol model Special Forces. Other vendors have licensed names or symbols from the association, which helps take care of the widows and orphans).

Ed Brown has a reputation, though, for quality guns: a halo that the handguns extended to these rifles until people figured out just how excellent this rifle action is; now the rifles extended the halo, too. It will be interesting to see the guns out from the other half of Brown’s reputation, and especially to see where Legendary takes this modern classic next.

Limited Production Noveske “Johnny” Rifle

Noveske Johnny RifleHere’s a short-barreled rifle that looks good, and stands out both as a premium AR and a limited production piece. There will be only 250 of these special “Johnny” rifles produced. They’re .300 Blackout guns with 10.5″ stainless barrels, and they’re unusually finished in Foliage Green — the stocks and grips molded, the receivers hard anodized.

The gun’s well-adapted to being suppressed, of course; it would also make a fantastic short-range hunting rifle. But we suspect most buyers will hang them up and admire them, which is a bit of a pity — this gun was clearly meant to be run hard, and what would Johnny have wanted, after all?

There’s no point in us reprising the specifics which are readily at hand on Noveske’s website. We’d just add that if you’re looking for a .300 BLK, here’s one that comes all sorted out, has a really nice set of quality parts, and has a solid name behind it. Not to mention, since we already have done, it looks sharp!

They’re taking orders now. The rifle goes for $2,420

Past Noveske coverage here includes a story on Johnny’s untimely death in a motor accident,  and a story on the company’s first tribute product, the “Johnny Mag” — proceeds from which went to Johnny Noveske’s kids.

Enlisted’s on tonight, we’ll be watching.

Screenshot 2014-01-24 09.28.44Thanks to the generosity of show creator Kevin Bieger (and his assistant Colin Whitman), we’ve seen tonight’s episode in a preliminary review version. We missed tipping you to last week’s episode, Randy Get Your Gun, and apologize to the show folks, but the ones who missed out were you guys — the episode  was both fun, and sweet. We don’t want to throw spoilers out there — in this day and age, people can catch up with that last episode. But it turned on the youngest brother Randy and his difficulties qualifying with his M4 and one end of the skill scale, while the competition, and therefore tension, between platoon sergeants Hill and Perez was dialed up a notch — with both coming across as good and conscientious. 

The qualification wasn’t especially realistic (unlike, say, the barracks rooms sets and scenes, which seem to have had a touch of advice from someone who dwelt there, or maybe it’s just college-dorm transference). The range looks like the old LAPD range, not a military range. But it was a plot device, for crying out loud, in a situation comedy, not a documentary. And one scene will resonate with anyone who’s been on a range in the last dozen years or so. In a search for a tie-breaker between SSG Hill and SSG Cabral’s identical range scores, this took place:

Screenshot 2014-01-24 09.30.35PETE HILL (he and Perez arranged behind two crouching soldiers): OK. Leapfrog a private, barrel roll, and pop up and shoot. How’s that sound?

PEREZ nods, seriously but –

RANGE SAFETY NCO (waving red range paddle): Like a HUGE safety violation… As Range Safety Officer, I need you to vacate the premises!

While some of the activities and situations portrayed are over the top, the depiction of Army life is, in its own way, respectful. This may be part of why the critical response has been so good (from the pro critics, not just from us). The show is gentle, sweet, and patriotic without being the least bit political. We saw one review that called it the best comedy this season.

Everyone who has an important, recurring role in Enlisted does indeed represent an enlisted troop or NCO — this is an Army without officers in the daily mix. When an officer does appear, he’s a fresh-from-the-Academy n00b 2nd Lieutenant, who will immediately run into the buzzsaw that is the unit’s sergeant major. If you were in the Army (or Navy, Marines…) you have lived this situation.

Screenshot 2014-01-24 10.06.30Five casting decisions are probably key to the artistic success of the series, and will be key to its commercial success (touch wood). The three Hill brothers are the core of the show, of course: Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell and Parker Young as Pete, Derrick and Randy Hill. All are broadly experienced TV actors. They are, respectively, the eldest/father-figure (the characters’ father was a soldier, and is dead), the smart-aleck middle brother (“I’m so glad you’re back. I’m tired of being the big brother,” he’ll tell Pete tonight), and Randy as the earnest, decent and innocent kid brother. Parker Young really brings Randy to life. The other two brilliant casting decisions are Angelique Cabral as Jill Perez, and Keith David as the rear detachment sergeant major. Cabral delivers as an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better woman NCO of the non-obnoxious variety, and David plays a rock-solid command sergeant major, with the gravitas that makes him the voice of many of Ken Burns’s documentaries. If there is a character experiencing a guilty pleasure, it will probably be Cabral’s lively-but-contained Jill Perez. And if profundity or wisdom is called for, if these young folks need to be guided back to the correct path, David’s CSM Cody delivers it — which gets him out from behind his hated desk. Characters with depth – what a concept!

This is really good TV, funny where it’s trying to be, and, frankly, touching where it’s trying to do that — at least once or twice an episode. It’s an update of those sixties sitcoms, and has the same innocent feel, despite more up-to-date language (sometimes a little saltier than would have made a 60s broadcast). 

In tonight’s episode, oldest brother and platoon sergeant Pete strikes out on his own and moves into a trailer park to dial back his levels of unit, and family, togetherness.

We haven’t communicated with the producers about this, but the ratings seem to us to be weak, with only a couple million people tuning in. Kid and I will be two of them, tonight. Why not join us? Enlisted airs on the Fox TV broadcast network at 9 PM.

Early AR15 SP1s on Gunbroker

Someone’s been liquidating a collection of early Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1s for the last several months. The auctions are one-day auctions, so these particular numbers may have expired, but they’ll be relisted indefinitely if not sold. (If you’re more than a day or so behind, this link shows all that seller’s auctions, then “narrow your search” to AR or SP-1).

These guns differ in considerable detail from contemporary M16s, but they have their own collector following. They include:

  • Number 628:

AR-15 628 2

This is one of the earliest SP1s in circulation, and a rare one in this condition. It is a three-digit-serial number, after all, of a weapon that has been produced in the millions.

AR-15 628

The seller’s write-up is:

VERY, VERY, VERY EARLY 1964 production original, NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1, in the original M-16(602) configuration. “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, early saftey with hole, very early push pin w/ hole, non-chromed barrel w/1:12 twist, original solid split pin FP keeper, original bolt and carrier w/large head firing pin and the RARE original CHROME BOLT. EXCELLENT bore and chamber. VERY TIGHT fit. No magazine or box.

This is the most expensive of the early AR-15s he is offering, at a bracing $4,595 (buy-it-now). Despite that, it’s our opinion that this one is the one that offers the greatest potential for appreciation. This potential is limited, perhaps, by its already high price, but this is a rare high-condition survivor that is already fifty years old, and that has some rare features like early style “dimpled” pins. While retro builders strive to create guns like this (and they, too, will draw collector interest in the years to come), they’re not Colts and they’re not original time capsules like this.


  • Number 3387:

AR-15 3387-2

Condition-wise, this early SP1 is a standout. It does have a little trace of wear hear and there — handling, not firing, wear, it looks like. You can see just a little mark on the side of the magazine well from the rectangular pad on the ejection port cover.

AR-15 3387

Survival of these guns is fairly rare. For them to survive in near-mint condition, when many of their cohort were Bubba’d-up or parted out, is remarkable.  Remember, 1965 was almost fifty years ago, and for 20-30 of those years, these Colts were the only game in town for shooters, and shooters wanted to upgrade them. The seller knows this and has priced this example accordingly: Buy-it-now, $3,795. His description:

Collectors this is a 1965 production original MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16(602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, early saftey with hole, non-chromed barrel w/1:12 twist, original solid split pin FP keeper, original bolt and carrier w/large head firing pin and the RARE original CHROME BOLT. EXCELLENT bore and chamber. VERY TIGHT fit.

  • Number 4329:

AR-15 4329Excellent, in box, early production SP1. This one has a few dings, some wear on the flash hider and a little bit of mottling on the pistol grip and stock. Buy it now, $2895. Seller’s write-up:

Collectors this is a 1965 production original NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16 ( 602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, Bakelite plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, non-chromed bore w/1:12 twist barrel.

  • Number 7126:

AR-15 7126This gun’s a little later than the others. It’s in primo condition (view the pictures at the original auction) and is started at $2,550 with a Buy-it-now of $2,650. Seller’s description:

Collectors this is a 1966 production original NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16(602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, non-chromed bore w/1:12 twist barrel.

Now, technically, these early SP1s differ from military ARs in several ways. The most obvious is the pivot screw in place of the pivot pin, but other SP1 modifications (not found in all vintages of SP1) include unshrouded firing pins, and larger trigger and hammer pins. After parts changed in the running military production, leftover parts that were no longer usable for the military contract (examples include Edgewater buffers and three-prong flash hiders) continued to be used up on SP1s for years.

Each one is a time capsule into Colt production. Prediction, especially of values, is generally a mug’s game, but original guns from this period seem likely to appreciate.

New Book out from Chris Hernandez

How’d we miss this, indeed? Chris has been promising the new book (and teasing excerpts of it) for some time, so it’s kind of big news that it’s out as an ebook (paperback to follow in due course, but who can wait that long?). We’ve bought it already, but we wanted to tell all y’all (how’re we doing on a TX language code, Chris?) before we stuck our nose in the Kindle app until it’s done.

You may recall that we called Chris’s Proof of Our Resolve the best novel of the Afghan war. We haven’t read anything since then to change our mind. In this novel, Jerry Nuñez is back from the war and onto his usual life as a fulltime cop and part-time National Guardsman — when the borderlands explode.

This coming Saturday, January 18th, barring any unforeseen circumstances, my new novel Line in the Valley will be released by Tactical16 Publishing. As with my last book, it will first be an eBook only and will be available in print later. The more people buy and review it, the sooner it’ll be in print (hint hint nudge nudge). It will be offered on Amazon,, and iBooks.

I think you’ll like this book. It’s about a war on the Texas border. And what else does a story need? If you need convincing, please check out the sample chapters listed in the “Line in the Valley” category. If you do buy and read it, please feel free to leave a brutally honest review.

via New Novel Release and Book Signing, January 18th in The Woodlands, Texas | chrishernandezauthor.

We obviously missed the signing, but if you go to the link you can find links to Amazon, B&N, and ibooks or whatever the Apple version is. I’ll probably have to buy the ebook on a couple sites so I can drop reviews. Chris wants brutal honesty, we can do that.

We’re a bit jealous to hear his fellow Texans are reading in lawn chairs. If you have a lawn chair out around here right now, you’re ice fishing.

We don’t really know what to expect from this book, but we do know Chris is a good mo fo. He knows Texas and the Guard, he knows combat, and he knows how to tell the truths of these environments in ways the coastal MFA writer crowd never can hope to. Not to mention what we know from Proof of our Resolve: Chris writes a good story. And isn’t that what we all want to read, a good story? If you’re one of the timid penguins who waits for his buddies to check the water for orcas, well, we’ll have a review up soon enough.