Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

Some $1 Kindle Military History Books

100000-dollar-bill

Who says a good read has to cost a fortune?

These may not be available to users outside the USA, but you can try. We’ve had good luck ordering physical books from other nations’ Amazon stores, but have never tried an e-book. Maybe one of you guys out there can let us know if the system lets you order.

The cool thing about these books? Mostly older books, they’re on Kindle for 99¢. You can read Kindle books (in the .Here are four, oldest (in terms of war covered) to newest:

Three Years with Quantrill: A True Story Told By His Scout by John McCorkle & O. S. Barton.

This 1914 memoir was reportedly dictated by the then-elderly McCorkle to Barton. The smallest taste:

We rode up to a house and found two ladies at home. One of them asked me if we were in the fight that had taken place there shortly before. I told her “Yes.” She then asked me if any of us had lost part of a pistol in that fight. Jim Younger told her that he had lost the cylinder of his pistol and the lady remarked, “Well, we found some part of a pistol out there in the road; I don’t know what you call it, but here it is,” and it was the cylinder of Jim Younger’s pistol that he had lost in the road.

Yes, that Jim Younger. Both Younger brothers, Jim and Cole, are mentioned several times, but there is only one reference to their postwar partner in crime, Jesse James. We think we’ll really enjoy this one. At the end, the unit disguises itself in Union uniforms and tries to make is way to Virginia through swarms of victorious Unionists. (We just skimmed it).

Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War by Deneys Reitz

This is apparently one man’s memoir of the war from the Afrikaner side. Haven’t even opened it yet. Several other Reitz memoirs (sections of a lifelong diary, perhaps?) are also available.

Q-Ships and Their Story by E. Keble-Chatterton, Lt. Cmdr,, RNVR

This is the story of the daring Q-Ship operations of World War I, originally written and published in 1922. The author observes that the submarine war was one of imagination, more than brute force. One of the surprising discoveries here is the degree to which sailing ships were commissioned as His Majesty’s warships.

Vassili Zaitsev: Secrets from a Sniper’s Notebook By Robert F. Burgess.

This is a brief overview of the famous Soviet sniper’s wartime efforts. It’s one of a series of short books by WWII veteran Burgess on snipers and sniping. Short but informative, and includes as an appendix a list of rules for snipers that Zaitsev established. There’s a newer version of this book with a different title if your budget goes to $3.

Best thing about all these books is that, any one that you pick (here, Three Years with Quantrill), Amazon suggests a umber of other 99¢ specials for you…

99-cent_amazon_history

And there you have it. Four books, $4, and more just awaiting the discovery.

80% SIG P229 Frames and Jigs

Don’t know anything about these but we came across this video by Robert Germanelo, and it was interesting. It made us go look up the manufacturer’s website. Eight minutes.

It takes 16 or so passes to remove the right amount of material. Note his warning about breaking the carbide cutter inserts if you try to remove too much material in one pass. We don’t know if that’s the cause, but the guy whose homebuilt SIG 229 project videos feature after the jump did indeed break one of his inserts.

The manufacturer’s website is here. It has a comprehensive rig for doing 1911 and SIG frames without a milling machine (as seen in the video above). They sell the jigs, the cast 80% frames, and completion kits made from decommissioned 9mm German SIGs. (Parts interchange seems fine between German and USA made SIGs, FWIW).

Downside? It’s a lot more expensive to do a SIG this way than to do a Glock with the Polymer80 Spectre, much like SIGS cost about 2.x Glock in the real world. Indeed, this is not a way to save money on a pistol — you can buy a 229 or a G17 for less than you can build one for, whether you went SIG with Matrix or Glock with P80. But you can’t buy one you built yourself, which to us is the whole appeal of this thing.

However we won’t be doing this until we (1) catch up on other builds and (2) recover from some gun-related spending, eh.

If you want more information on how the Matrix jig works on the P229 frame, there is a whole series of videos after the jump.

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When Veterans’ Charities are Rackets

snidely-whiplash-close

“I just say ‘for the vets,’ and the money comes rolling in. Mwahahaha!”

It seems like one of the most common types of charity fraud is the bogus veterans’ charity. Here. we’re not even referring to something like the Wounded Warrior Project, which basically aims to enrich insiders and professional fund-raising scamsters, but does incidentally help vets. We’re talking about scams that never help anybody but the guy collecting the money, who pockets it.

A scam charity seldom ends as it should, to wit, with indictments, trials, and prison sentences. Who’s going to investigate it? The Department of Justice is maxed out as the legal arm of the Black Criminals Lives Matter movement; the FBI has its hands full as the partisan political police,  if we’re to take recent appearances of James Comey at face value.

If you’re lucky, it’s exposed by ambush journalism, but journalists are more likely to share a social milieu with the charity Ponzis and Madoffs, which is why there is the balance there is, of laudatory and cautionary ink spilled on the Wounded Warriors Foundation racket.1 That is the task of a journalist in this twenty-first century: to fellate the comfortable and micturate upon the afflicted.

So when a reporter actually does his freakin’ job, it’s a glory to behold, as in this persistent reporter for a Los Angeles TV station, facing charity scammer Jason Wirtzer, who collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fake charity that was supposedly going to teach vets to fly.

CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein asked Wirtzer how many veterans he’s been able to help through the charity.

“We’ve got about 25 in the system right now,” Wirtzer said.

“How many vets have you trained?” asked Goldstein. “None, right?”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you talk to my attorney if you want,” Wirtzer replied.

Now, a guy like Wirtzer, who’s up to no good, may actually have an attorney. But it’s more likely that his “attorney” is what internet wags call a “cartooney”: the imaginary lawyer behind most internet “I’ll sic my attorney on you!” threats. Reporter Goldstein found real people ripped off by this soi-disant “charity”:

Paul Williams, a retired Army pilot, told Goldstein he still has his raffle tickets purchased, he thought, for a good cause.

Via Skype from Alaska, Williams told Goldstein he twice bought raffle tickets from Winged Warriors.

“Well, even if I didn’t win, I am still supporting troops,” he said.

Williams may not have won, but San Miguel resident Mark Donnelly told Goldstein he saw his name on the Winged Warriors Facebook page as the runner-up.

“I got a phone call saying I was the second-place winner,” said Donnelly, who added he was supposed to win a pair of pilot headsets worth $1,000 but never received them.

“Anyone that uses veterans or any other type of organization to try and run a scam to make money for themselves, that is just pretty upsetting,” Donnelly said. “It’s too bad that those type of people exist.”

Yeah, we’d support the death penalty for this, but we’d never get it past the supreme court. Social milieu and scammers, again.

The plane Donnelly and others were hoping to win was this 1975 Beechcraft Sierra , which had been put up for sale by Bob Hancock of Lake Havasu.

According to Hancock, he cut the price and agreed to sell the plane for just under $50,000 when Wirtzer offered to buy it to raise money for vets.

“I thought it was awesome,” Hancock said. “A lot of military in my family, and I’m a flight instructor and I even volunteered to give free instruction if they wanted to come out to Lake Havasu, so I was thrilled.”

But the transaction never went through after all three Winged Warriors checks bounced, meaning Wirtzer never owned the plane that claimed was being raffled off to raise money for vets.

A spreadsheet included in a lawsuit filed against Winged Warriors by the website designer who claims he was also stiffed shows nearly 4,500 tickets were sold across the U.S., bringing in almost $175,000.

According to California Franchise Tax Board, Winged Warriors is not recognized as a charity, and the Attorney General’s Office told Goldstein it’s not registered to hold raffles.

But Wirtzer was doing just that when we caught up with him a few weeks ago in Marina del Rey, this time offering another plane on the Winged Warriors website being raffled.

“Can you prove that you’ve trained 25 vets?” Goldstein asked. “You can’t, can you?

“I’d like to, I’d like to,” Wirtzer said.

“You’d like to but you haven’t, right?” replied Goldstein.

When asked if he’s scamming people, Wirtzer said: “Absolutely not.”

“You claim to be raising money for vets, you claim to be training vets, raising money for veterans,” Goldstein said. “Where’s the money going?”

“To the programs,” Wirtzer replied.

“What programs? You basically said you weren’t training vets, were you?” asked Goldstein.

At that point, Wirtzer sped off on his bicycle, pedaling away from any more questions.

Wirtzer: "Curses! Foiled again." (File photo).

Wirtzer: “Curses! Foiled again.” (File photo).

Wirtzer could learn some lessons on “brazening it out” from some of our public figures, eh.

But for Hancock and likely many others who may have been caught up in Wirtzer’s raffles, there’s no question about Wirtzer’s motives.

“He is the worst scum of the earth,” said Hancock. “I can’t imagine anybody being worse than what he has done to these veterans.”
David Goldstein

via CBS2 Investigates Licensed Pilot Linked To Veteran Raffle Scam « CBS Los Angeles.

Note that while the guy is violating just about every charity solicitation law in the California state penal code, none of the state’s small army of regulators and cops could be bothered to look into it. Steal $175 from a 7/11,  the police will at least take a report and look at the surveillance cameras. Steal $175,000 from veteran-supporters with a scam charity, and the sound of crickets is deafening. Wirtzer is exposed not by the vast resources of the multibillion-dollar state government or of the trillions-throwing tribunes of the Fed, but by some local TV station’s news shop where you can probably count the investigative reporters on your thumbs. Kudos to Dave Goldstein, for scooping the slumbering FBI.

Charity Navigator, the  nonprofit watchdog, maintains a list of scam charities. (They put it a little more mildly, “Fake Charities,” and they like to say the charity has a “Donor Advisory” on it).  Not surprisingly, Wirtzer’s “Winged Warriors” is on the list. The whole list is here. It has 35 soi-disant charities on it; these 10 purport or purported to be servicemembers’ or veterans’ benefit charities.

Care Package Campaign
Disabled Veterans of America
I Care Foundation
Paralyzed American Veterans
Spotlight on Heroes
United Soldiers Outreach LLC
United States Disabled Veterans
United States Handicapped-Disadvantaged
Veterans Helping Nevada Veterans
Winged Warriors

Bottom line: before you give, check Charity Navigator, and your state’s registry of charities, first. Not to mention giving the charity’s name a bing with your search engine of choice.

Notes

  1. For another example, consider charity racketeer and socialite Pari Livermore, who received a laudatory profile about her work as a matchmaker who fund-raises for “Spotlight on Heroes” — a nonexistent charity — in the New York Times. Written, as usual, by a reporter in her own cozy social circle — a “lifestyle” or puff-piece hack. When a reader investigated and found the charity nonexistent and Miss Livermore a fraud, the Times haughtily refused to run a correction and still continues to promote Miss Livermore and her bogus charity. Dean Baquet, then Times editor, contemptuously dismissed a critic, saying, “You will notice in the stories about this particular charity that there are some people quoted praising its work.” — in other words, testimonials offset facts, when the Times is defending one of its staff celebrity-fluffers.

“Say Hello to My Little Friend!”

You too can greet people like Al Pacino, improbably cast as a youthful Marielito thug in Brian de Palma’s Scarface, did, if you drop a bit of coin on this. Actually, you can do it more quietly, because this M16A1/M203 is suppressed.“Tony Montana, political ref-oo-gee from Cuba” was many things, but quiet wasn’t one of ’em.

Jackson M16A1 01Flip side:

Jackson M16A1 02Just the thing, for when your betrayed Colombian partner wants to hold you to his interpretation of “free trade.” Along with the registered and transferable Colt M16A1 lower:

Jackson M16A1 05Which has a later Colt M4 upper on it (note the forged-in “C” below the rear sight and behind the forge’s keyhole trade mark):

Jackson M16A1 04…you also get a Colt M203, in what looks like the full-house 12″ barrel:

Jackson M16A1 06Jackson M16A1 03…but with the circa-1990s dual-purpose mount for A2 and M4. (If you buy this and just want the M16, drop us a line about the 203. Seriously). And yes, you can use the KAC SOPMOD I rail kit with this (not the bottom rail, obviously). We know ’cause that’s what we did.

But, now for the bad news. We might have been fibbing a mite about the “bit of coin” part. The stinging three $200 transfer taxes (which gives ATF three shots at delaying your transfer!) are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things: thanks to anti-gun politicians William Hughes and Charles Rangel, who jammed through the Hughes Amendment on a bogus voice vote in the middle of the night, it’s got an asking price of forty freaking thousand dollars.

If we pay that for anything that does’t come with a deed, the lawyer and the court need to assure us that the paperwork is final and she really is out of our life for good, and has no further comebacks on us. In writing.

Jackson M16A1 07Still, it’s kind of a nice gun.

Not Your Uncle Joe’s Webley

Even though it’s a perfectly ordinary Webley & Scott Mark IV, this is not your Uncle Joe’s Webley. That’s why the opening bid at auction is a stiff $1,850 — several times what your plain, average Mark IV goes for.

Foss Webley 04

But this is not Uncle Joe’s plain, average Webley. That is, of course, unless your Uncle Joe was the late Joe Foss, WWII hero, Governor of SD, and former NRA President.

Foss Webley 01

Let’s zoom in on that certificate:

Foss Webley 02

A Webley & Scott Ltd Mark lV revolver in caliber 38 S&W with papers from the collection of Joe Foss who was a Ace fighter pilot in world war ll, medal of honor recipient and former Governor of South Dakota among other achievements and the certificate comes with the gun. Condition of metal is very good with fading military finish and shows a couple pitting areas. Grips are original and excellent. The barrel is 5 inches and has a bright sharp bore and it comes with the original holster. This is a true collectors dream.

via Webley & Scott Ltd Mark lV revolver cal 38 S&W : Curios & Relics at GunBroker.com.

Technically, it’s in .38/200, but that’s just British English for .38 S&W. It means a .38 caliber bore with a 200-grain bullet.

Kind of amazing to think that today, a Briton could not own this long-obsolete artifact from his own national heritage, but that’s laws for you.

Foss Webley 03

These things are a hoot to shoot and have a certain Olde English, “Dr Watson, did you bring your revolver?” feel to them. Actually, any tip-up revolver is a blast; well can we recall the first time a spray of ejected cases made us giggle out loud.

The Mk IV has an interesting history. From 1887 to after World War I, Webleys in .455 were made and issued to British soldiers in Marks I to VI. After the war, they wanted a smaller pistol, and so Webley took the mighty .455 and scaled the whole gun down to the .38 S&W. (They had previously done a similar job, for police, which they called the Mk. III .38 Calibre). Thus, in a quintessentially British way, the Webley Mk. VI is older than the Webley Mk. IV.

Foss Webley 05Instead of issuing the new Webley, though, the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield began producing a modified copy instead. Webley sued, but lost, and was out of the service revolver business until the war broke out, whereupon they had all the contracts they could handle. All surviving .38/200 Webleys, of the rough half-million produced, date from the war years.

Foss Webley 06After the war, the Webley revolver lasted a long time in British service because of official parsimony. Not only did the War Office not want  to spend the money on new sidearms, they didn’t spend any money on training ammunition, either, so the revolvers never wore out.

They were finally surplused in the 1950s and 60s after being replaced by a version of the Browning Hi-Power.

A Webley is a historic arm and would be a proud addition to any collection. A Webley that had been held by Joe Foss? (Here is a pretty decent capsule bio of Foss, explaining why he’s famous). Foss was an amazing character, who after a day of defending Guadalcanal in an F4F Wildcat, would take a rifle and hunt Japanese soldiers in the field — until his CO found out and put the brakes on his nocturnal poaching.

 

An Anti-Gun Gun Store

They’re out there, of course; and the media loves them. For years, one of the most relentlessly self-promoting ones was Mike Weisser of Massachusetts, who billed himself in media as “Mike the Gun Guy” and never met a ban he didn’t like, even though he was an FFL. (Apparently he wasn’t a very honest gun guy, which will surprise no one who ever argued with the slippery Weisser. He is reported to have surrendered his FFL, and his records, deficiencies and all, to the ATF rather than face charges some time ago).

Now, Mark Patinkin of the Providence, Rhode Island, Journal, has found another anti-gun gun shop.

anti-gun-gun-store-midtate-coventry-riThe owner and employees of Midstate Gun Shop in Coventry, Rhode Island, hit the media hextifecta:

  1. They hate the NRA; if you’re an NRA member, you’re not only not “intelligent”  but also an “extremist.”
  2. They don’t care for hunting, mostly;
  3. They wish they could vote for Obama for a third term;
  4. They believe all guns should be locked up unloaded at all times, and no one should want or use one for self or home defense;
  5. They support a one-week waiting period for gun sales;
  6. If you disagree with that, you’re “crazy” and an “extremist.”

Patinkin thought he had died and gone to heaven: proof positive that gun people all agreed exactly with him!

I told myself it had to be a fluke. Aren’t gun people all mean survivalists with an anti-government chip on their shoulder?
I sat down with the owner, Kyle McCarthy, 44, and admitted to having that stereotype. It got a smile.
“People consider this to be a back-alley secret society of dangerous and evil people,” he said.
I asked where that comes from.
Mostly the media, he said: “They like to equate the criminal element of society with sportsmen.”
I asked if any media outlets are more fair — like Fox News?
McCarthy shook his head. “No, I don’t agree with Fox News. Fox likes to quote sensationalist NRA extremists.”
Wait a minute — I thought a gun shop owner would love NRA extremists.
“Intelligent people don’t like extremists on either side of the fence,” he said.
Then McCarthy told me he wasn’t even an NRA member.
What?
He said the NRA is as guilty of sensationalizing as the extreme anti-gun side.
“It seems they’re against any law that could be productive in keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” he said.
Such as?
“A proper storage law.” He said owners should be responsible for keeping their guns locked up and secure.
McCarthy also welcomes Rhode Island’s law requiring a week-long gun-purchase waiting period while both the FBI and local police departments do background checks.
One of his employees, Dave Champagne, joined us. Champagne used to be in restaurant management, including at the Cowesett Inn, until the recession.

We’re still trying to figure out how locking guns up keeps them out of the hands of criminals. The best safe we ever had — it was approved to keep Top Secret stuff in, materials which could do exceptionally grave damage to national security if they were lost — guaranteed to delay an attacker for half an hour. The gun safe you buy at Walmart or Dicks (or, if you’re exceptionally self-loathing as a gun owner, from the anti-gun Midstate Gun Company in Coventry, RI) will delay a dumber than usual burglar three to five minutes, max. Storage has to be part of a layered physical security plan, or it just keeps honest people out.

Back to Patinkin’s delight at finding kindred souls in an anti-gun gun shop….

via Mark Patinkin: In gun shop, stereotype gets shot full of holes – News – providencejournal.com – Providence, RI.

I asked Dave Champagne if he was an NRA member.
“Hell no,” he said.
Then he ruined my stereotype even more.
“I’m a liberal who works in a gun store,” Champagne told me. “I voted for Barack Obama twice, and I’d vote for him a third time if I could.”
And get this — Champagne doesn’t even own a gun.
“I don’t hunt,” he said. “My recreation is here at work, and I don’t fear someone kicking in my door and stealing things they wouldn’t want anyway.”
Of course, plenty of the employees have gun collections, including store manager Claude Lefebvre, 50, a Coast Guard vet and La Salle Academy grad.
He got his love of the sport from his dad, Donald, 79, who happened to be in the store. Donald Lefebvre has been hunting since he was 15, mostly deer and ducks.
“I don’t shoot anything I’m not going to eat,” the elder Lefebvre said, adding that shooting relieves stress for him.
Another employee, Eric Lunardelli, 42, told me much the same thing. He went to Toll Gate, has been a competitive trap shooter, and he doesn’t like the NRA, either.
I chatted with them for an hour as customers came in and out and, finally, I had to go.
I thanked McCarthy, and told him I was disappointed — I’d come down looking for gun nuts.
He said he was sorry. “We don’t cater to crazy,” he explained. “Or extremists.”

We thought this might be one of those cases where a reporter wanted that to be true bad enough that he just made the story up. Reporters do that all the time; that’s what Gersh Kuntzman of the NY Post did in the story where he claimed he gave himself PTSD and a bruised shoulder by firing an AR-15. (He later stealth-edited the PTSD claim, lie upon lie: again, that’s what reporters do). But while Patinkin found a store that matched his prefab narrative, a careful perusal of the Midstate website indicates that they really, really, are anti-gun.

From their lame instruction/test booklet (.pdf), there’s a bunch of real fright about using a gun for protection:

anti-gun-gun-store-01 anti-gun-gun-store-02

While asking a lawyer who practices in this field might be a good idea, asking a cop isn’t. Most cops have too many laws to keep track of. You might get a guy who knows the statutes and case law, or a guy who’s pulling it out of his nether regions.

There’s also this:

anti-gun-gun-store-03

 

Hey, how did that sear get into a 1928 Thompson?

If you don’t know what you’re writing about, guy, stop writing. (This may have come from the State of Rhode Island, an operating subsidiary of La Cosa Nostra, because the test is for a Rhode Island “blue card” required to buy pistols).

In any event, there you have it. Mr McCarthy does not want any crazy extremists, any NRA members, anyone that wants a gun for defense, or any one that is against a third term for President Obama to buy from him.

Make it so.

Troy XM177E2 Shipping…? Extensive UPDATE

Troy XM177 AR15 MagIt looks like the firearm we’ve mentioned before is shipping, at least to writers. Guns & Ammo’s “Book of the AR-15” magazine has it on the cover and has a review inside, beginning on Page 6, with an interesting combination of insightful points and egregious errors.

The magazine’s on newsstands now; we bought it at the Walmart in Big City.

We’ll try to elaborate on this post later today, but first shot suggests:

  1. Steve Troy has really put a lot of work into making an accurate repro of the classic MACV-SOG recon trooper’s personal weapon. In fact, there’s so much work this really has to be a limited production product.
  2. There are some hidden improvements that improve the function of the firearm compared to its historical prototype. For instance, it has 1:7 rifling and M4 feed ramps.

Let’s elaborate on both of those points first, then we’ll get to the “egregious errors”.

Details of the Troy XM177E2

Receiver: We assumed that Troy would be cutting some kind of deal with Nodak Spud for the company’s perfect A1-style receivers. It turns out that Troy is taking a modern M4 style lower and reprofiling it to A1 shape. This requires the later-production reinforcements to be removed, particularly from the pivot pin bosses and the buffer tower area. If you’re not going to run a bayonet assault course with this XM177E2, and we can guarantee you’re not, you’re unlikely to see failure there. (In many years of using A1s with this same lower, we never saw a failure of a receiver, except in a rifle that fell 800 feet (or maybe 1250, it might have been before we lowered static-line jump altitudes in the late eighties) and hit like 6.6 lbs of bricks. We did see a lot of A1 barrels bent.

The rifle naturally differs in marking detail from original XM177s, which were made by Colt. The trademarks and name and address are Troy’s, not Colt’s. Apart from that, though, they’re marked in as retro a style as one might ask, including US GOVERNMENT PROPERTY, SAFE / SEMI / AUTO markings and even a small “ring” that creates the illusion of an auto sear pin. To prevent owners from being jacked up by uninformed cops and agents, the shelf area is blocked, and a note that the rifle is REPLICA and SEMI-AUTO ONLY is placed on the receiver top, where it’s only visible when the takedown pin is punched out and the upper and lower receivers separated. That does mean that this firearm is an unsuitable host for a drop-in auto sear, but a DIAS is a rare thing these days.

Barrel: The barrel is claimed to be a perfect external match for the XM177E2 profile, except that it is ¾” longer, to allow a pinned and welded false moderator to make the barrel assembly legal Title 1 firearm length. The bayonet lug is ground off (as it was on original E2s). It’s impossible to tell from the available photos whether the profile just behind the moderator is correct (there should be a slight thickening here, as there is just behind the flash hider of an A1). The article says in different places that the front sight is an A1 and an A2 type. (The A1 is round in cross-section and tapered with five points of adjustment, the A2 is square-sectioned with four). The rear sight is an A1 type with A2 aperture.

Stocks: Here some of the most remarkable work was done: the six-hole early Colt handguard halves are reproduced, from the photos, accurately, and the plastic-covered aluminum alloy stock, long a sought-after part for retro-AR builders, has been duplicated. It’s unlikely that the plastic is the original vinyl acetate, and more likely it is a modern polymer (more easily handled, with fewer HAZMAT constraints), but the article only says “polymer.” The pistol grip is an original surplus M16A1 part (used).

Performance: In their testing, it was a 2½ inch gun over 5-shot groups at 100 yards. This far exceeds the military specification but it’s not great for a modern carbine. It’s adequate for most things you’d hunt with an AR, and perfectly fine for home defense, but most Troy XM177E2 buyers are buying for the nostalgia vibe more than as practical shooters. It’s not a dreadful choice as your only AR (especially if you’re buying in the context of a US martial rifle collection)

Disclaimer: Troy contributes $50 from each XM177E2 sale to the Special Forces Association and the Special Operations Association. Your humble blogger is a full life member of both organizations. Troy’s generosity to these groups has not influenced our opinion of its rifle — as we have yet to handle one, we’ll form that opinion when we do — but we are thankful for the company’s support of Special Operations veterans.

Tentative Conclusion: It’s an interesting rifle and we’re going to look for one to try out. We’re really interested in comparing it to the forthcoming Colt version. Competition should improve the breed!

Errors in the Article

We hate errors, but we make them as much as the next guy, so we understand how they get out there. Still, the sheer quantity of them in the Book of the AR-15 article was a disappointment. For example, it suggests that 55-grain bullets didn’t work well with 12-inch rifling; it’s actually the 63-grain M855, plus any heavier bullet like common 75 and 77 grain match ammo, that isn’t stabilized by 1-in-12 rifling. (The faster rifling in this rifle works well with all ammunition weights, so it’s something of a moot point).

For another example, it suggests the original XM177s did not have chrome-lined barrels (they did). It also elides the various dead-end forerunners of the XM177E2, including not only the first two 177 types, but also Colt’s Models 605, 607 and 608, all of which contributed to the definitive carbine design. The article is correct, however, to note that this original firearm was the forerunner of just about every short and adjustable AR derivative in military and civilian use today.

 

Innovation Routes Around Restrictions

If you are not a Californian, you may never have heard of a “Bullet Button.” This invention routes around bans on detachable-magazine firearms by making the magazine fixed, like the magazine of an FN 49 or SKS. With the Bullet Button in place, the magazine catch doesn’t work by hand, but the magazine can be released with a pointed tool — such as a bullet.

Bullet Buttons are made for many rifles, including this SIG MCX.

Bullet Buttons are made for many rifles, including this premium-priced SIG. The small button in the center is now the mag release, but that Bullet Button is only lawful through the end of the year. But wait….

This kind of to-the-letter compliance with the black letter, but not the gun-grabbing spirit, of California law can be fairly said to have enraged California politicians. They’re as upset by this kind of mockery as ordinary people are by the drumbeat of murders by criminal aliens (which, for some strange reason, bothers the politicians not at all).

These politicians, unwilling to penalize an important constituency like criminals, instead prefer to target gun owners. As a result, they sent eleven measures making California’s already extreme anti-gun laws more extreme to the Governor for signature. He vetoed four of them, but signed six, including a Bullet Button ban.

From Sebastian (quoting the “Firearms Policy Coalition” — a gun-rights nonprofit using the discarded name of a ban group. Troll level: grandmaster):

The bills Brown signed, which will become law on January 1, 2017, are:
SB 880 (Hall) and AB 1135 (Levine): Bans common and constitutionally protected firearms that have magazine locking devices.
SB 1235 (de Leon): Now competes with Gavin Newsom’s Safety for All Act/Ammo Ban.
SB 1446 (Hancock): Confiscation of lawfully acquired, standard capacity ammunition feeding devices.
AB 1511 (Santiago): Bans the loaning of firearms.
AB 1695 (Bonta): Makes some non-violent misdemeanors punishable by prohibitions on owning firearms.

880/1135 is the Bullet Button ban. The room-temperature-IQ de Léon (D-Los Zetas) is particularly spun up that people are complying with the letter of his last ban in ways he does not like. 1235 is a bill that requires a NICS check or something like it on ammunition sales.

These bills are all aimed at lawful users of firearms. Criminal gangs are well represented in the California legislature, and these legislators in particular would never want to inconvenience them. (We think the count so far is three Cal pols to prison so far this year, but we’re all the way across the country so we’re probably missing some).

For completeness’s sake:

The bills Brown vetoed are:
AB 1673 (Gipson): Redefines “firearms” to include items that are not firearms.
AB 1674 (Santiago): Bans buying more than one firearm within a 30-day period.
AB 2607 (Ting): Dramatically expands who can request a Gun Violence Restraining order.
SB 894 (Jackson): Re-victimizes victims by criminalizing the failure to report lost and stolen firearms.

(FPC also notes that one bill is still pending: this one criminalizes home gunsmithing).

So the bullet button, which was a technical reaction to Kevin de Léon and his Sinaloa Cartel and MS-13 pals’ last assault weapons ban, now has a ban of its own.

Enter ingenuity in the person of Darin Prince, the guy behind the Bullet Button. The same ingenuity that produced Bullet Buttons for everything from the MCX above to the M82 Barrett to a Hi-Point Carbine, has already produced a new device which is fully compliant with the new law.

Yes, it’s a little more inconvenient in one way — the shooter must open the receiver by popping out the rear pin. (There’s a special pin to make it easier). But once the receiver’s opened, the magazine release works normally… then the receiver can be closed and firing resumed.

If you don’t live in California, count your blessings. And, thanks to Prince, if you do live in California (you poor wretch!), count your blessings.

One Cool Tool

US Tool Manual Bolt Extraction Device 556-308Here at the Wile E Coyote Institute for Applied Aeronautics (and Gunsmiting) we occasionally find a tool we really like. Here is one such tool that not only belongs in your shop toolbox, but in your range kit, and that goes double if you’re a unit or department armorer (or a small department’s go-to gun guy), or an SF guy that has to run ranges for the Third World, or a range officer at a range open to the public (almost the same thing).

We’ve all seen the stoppage you get when an overpressure round, or maybe a nasty chamber in an unlined barrel on a bargain-basement AR, solidly stuck. It’s like the thing brazed itself in there! It’s hard to get enough leverage on a charging handle to move the bolt carrier back and unlock that damn-near-welded bolt. If the carrier is fully forward, you can separate upper and lower and attack the carrier from underneath, but if it’s back just a few millimeters it’s hard to separate the upper and lower.

You can get a similar problem with a double-feed, commonly caused by crummy or worn-out magazines. Your gun is out of action until you can reduce the stoppage.

And then there’s the circumstance, when some schmo brings the seized rifle in to the shop after getting the case stuck and then letting it sit for three months in the salty sea breeze, hoping that time heals all wounds.

The US Tool & Design Manual Bolt Extraction Device is simplicity itself: a lever with a yoke at one end that can be inserted through the magazine well and pry the bolt carrier back. That lets you open things up and get the gun back into action, or at least, troubleshoot the problem. Here’s an image showing how it works, with the upper absent for clarity:

US Tool Manual Bolt Extraction Device 02

It’s available in three versions: compact 5.56mm and 7.62mm versions, and a double-ended dual-caliber variety. (Of course these will work with other calibers on the same platform, so order the 5.56 one for .300 BLK, for example; the critical sizes are the bolt and bolt carrier).

US Tool Manual Bolt Extraction Device three versions

The dual-ended one is perfect for the shop workbench, and we could see the other attached by a clip to the rails on one’s field rifle. It would give you a way to clear this kind of stoppage in combat.

US Tool Manual Bolt Extraction Device

Here’s what they say about their tool, for which they’ve applied for a patent:

The Manual Bolt Extraction Device (MBED) is designed to be used in the event of a malfunction where you need direct access to the bolt carrier group (BCG) and the leverage provided by the charging handle is insufficient. The MBED is effectively used to clear the most common stoppages such as a double feed where the second round is wedged above the BCG. The MBED can also be used to clear an over pressured round or any stoppage where the casing is stuck in the chamber and has seized function of the rifle.

The MBED can be used to aide in any stoppage where direct access to the bolt carrier is needed. The AR-15/AR-10 platform does not allow for the user to have access to the bolt like the AK47, M1 Garand or M14 style rifles. The charging handle gives minimal leverage to the bolt carrier group and requires multiple tools and at least two individuals to clear these stoppages. The MBED is a single tool that a single individual can use to get the rifle back into working order in a short amount of time.

This is simple and that’s what makes it brilliant. We’re ordering one for the bench and one for the range bag, at least until we can figure out the rail clip that we want to make. You can buy the MBED here: https://www.ustoolanddesign.com/products/manual-bolt-extraction-device

Five Tips for Gun Shop Staff

Rather than rave about what we see people doing wrong, here’s some “do” bullet points for you.

5. Listen three-quarters of the time.

Your customers are not in the shop for what interests you, but for what interests them. Talking about what interests them is a good way for you to sell them products and services that you can provide. It’s also a good way to establish yourself as an excellent listener, a personality type that is never in oversupply.

4. Know your products and inventory.

We really, really hate to go into your store and be the know-it-all, and we’ll never do it just to kill your sale. But if you’re recommending something entirely wrong, especially to a newbie, we’ll probably set you straight — tactfully, if you let us.

3. Be careful with assumptions about your customers.

The ancient Greeks used to believe that the gods periodically took on human form, often the form of an inconsequential character. The gods would then reward the decent folks who had been kind to what they thought was a fellow human, and punish the folks who had abused them. We’ve never heard of a gunstore encounter with Apollo or Hera, but we’d just like to remind you that among the people who go to gun stores are people who really are experts on some aspect of your inventory.

2. Greet everybody who comes in your store.

No exceptions. Nothing you are doing is more important that a customer who just walked in, especially a new customer. It is the customers that enable everything else; it is the new customers that may need all kinds of nice, high-margin accessories.

1. Always tell the truth.

And stop when you run out of truth. If you don’t know the truth, don’t try to bullshit. Just say you don’t know, and offer to find out. The customer may know more than you do, for one thing.