Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

We’ll Be Watching the Patriots, not the Football

Whether the ball is inflated more or less is a true #FirstWorldProblem, and wasn’t on the menu of the original Patriots for whom Belichick and Brady’s band of spheroidal-ball abusers are named. Fortunately, the original Patriots are coming to TV in a scripted historical miniseries, beginning this Sunday, 25 Jan 15, at 2100 R (2000 Central Time). It will run on three Sundays, for two hours each. No, no; as clarified in the comments, “Three consecutive nights (Sunday, 25th; Monday. 26th: Tuesday, 27th) 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm ET.” Thanks, Qajagon, whoever you may be.

sonsofliberty

We’ve mentioned before that we see the American Revolution as an insurgency, and we think that some of the issues related to that will be covered in the new History Channel miniseries, Sons of Liberty. It covers the initial events of the revolution, taking place in and around Boston in 1772 to 1776, including such high points as the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, the initial battles of Lexington and Concord, the reinforcement of the Regulars, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. (It culminates, apparently, in the Declaration of Independence).

sonsofliberty_bunker_hilljpg

These battles were a fairly self-contained first phase of the Revolution. They were followed by the Colonial move to seize Fort Ticonderoga in the New York wilderness, and reinforce Charles Town and Dorchester Heights with the cannon (after an epic overland move), forcing the British and the throngs of loyalist refugees seeking their protection to abandon Boston and displace to New York and/or Canada. We don’t think those events are shown in this series, nor are some of the key events we’ve discussed here before, like the expulsion of the court from Worcester, or the raids on Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth. Paul Revere’s Ride is shown accurately (including its ignominious end, under the gun of a British officer; Dr. Samuel Prescott, whom Revere and his fellow rider William Dawes had picked up along the way, escaped and made it to Concord alone).

We grew up around the places where these events happened, and their history used to be taught in depth. As a result, many fictional depictions of the early Revolution sets our teeth on edge. But this one looks to have general historical accuracy, although there will no doubt be other issues with it.

For example, the actors speak in modern accents, rhythms, and language. This is probably intended to keep modern viewers interested.

But we think it will be a pretty good look at the underground and auxiliary, as well as the celebrated “Minutemen” militia that became the armed or guerilla element of the resistance to British rule. There is some effort spent on the intelligence side of the war, including an espionage ring that touched General Thomas Gage himself.

On the plus side, there are some great actors in this show. Fans of Breaking Bad will be pleased to see Dean Norris (“Hank Schrader”) in the role of larger-than-life Ben Franklin. Cousins Sam and John Adams, the radical firebrand and the even-handed lawyer, are played by Ben Barnes and Henry Thomas; John Hancock (Rafe Spall), Dr. Joseph Warren (Ryan Eggold), and Paul Revere (Michael Raymond-James) round out the headlining Patriots. George Washington (Jason O’Mara) makes a later appearance. On the British side, General Gage (Marton Csokas), his American wife Margaret (Emily Berrington), and Major John Pitcairn (Kevin Ryan) are represented. The battle scenes are small and closely shot (cable TV budget, after all) but the props and armory seem reasonable, based on previews.

sonsofliberty_attack

On the minus side, the show’s website is packed with spam and malware, including a pernicious   malware that tries to force connections to cdn.optimatic.com and collect personal information. Optimatic is supposedly an SEO tool (a fly-by-night business that attracts everything but legitimate businessmen in the first place) but testing seems to show it does not work. It does, however, collect information on you. So we’re not linking to the website.

Now, despite the category we put this in, it’s not a real review; we’ve only seen a few promos and squibs. We may have a review after we watch the first episode Sunday.

Kalashnikov, Made in USA

That news has the gunosphere going nuts. For the range of comment, you can look at this thread on Reddit — sane and sensible commentary scattered like gold nuggets in a poor vein of, well, the more usual kind of comments. But to the delight of gunnies, the main thrust of the article is that “real Kalashnikovs” will now be made in the USA. That sets the Redditors, particularly, off on jags and spasms of hope and longing for SVDs, SVD-M, Groza, Val and on and on and on.

A Facebook fan site, the AK Operators Union, put it this way:

AK News BOMB!!!! Kalashnikov concern is in process of opening production here in USA. If everything will go well, we will see first, made in USA Kalashnikov Concern AKs later this year!!! All calibers will be produced, including Saiga 9 in 9mm.

(That’s a good site for new AK products at SHOT, by the way). Kalashnikov Concern, a renaming of long-struggling Izmash, is not one of the success stories of the Russian economy right now, thanks to sanctions. We haven’t seen 2014 numbers yet, but even in pre-sanctions 2013, the company lost almost $3 Billion (yes, with a B).

The firm’s US importer, or perhaps we should say, former importer, put a brave face on it at SHOT.

Kalashnikov USA

No idea whether she’s domestic or imported. But if you look closely, there’s a rifle in the picture, and it’s an interesting one, despite our usual disdain for “tacticool AKs”. Because it looks left-handed. We found the pic linked on Reddit.

 

It’s a nice imaginary parade and it must be nice to beat a drum in it.

Well, there’s nothing we like more than a parade. So here we come to rain on it.

What’s really going on here is simple: the US importer of Concern Kalashnikov arms, RWC Group, of Tullytown, PA, has the US rights to the name and to sell the guns, but RWC’s boss, Tom McCrossin, enjoined from importing anything from Russia, and even from contact with CK or Izmash under the latest sanctions. It can sell the guns it already had warehoused and approved before the sanctions hit, but anything in Russia, stays in Russia.

Russian guns stay in Russia. Russian tooling stays in Russia. Russian ideas and concepts stay in Russia. So the only possibility is for them to be reverse-engineered here, unless RWC got hold of that information antes de the sanctions declaration.

There’s no political solution to this

The US is unlikely to end sanctions on Russia, with Russia still occupying Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Russia is even less likely to depart from what they do not consider an occupation, but rather a correction of a historical error.  Looking at the Russian point of view, Khrushchev’s assignment of territory from one administrative republic to another in a monolithic, Russian-dominated Soviet Union wound up with long-Russian territories departing when the Republics grabbed their independence. The Donbass area and the Crimea have long been ethnically Russian (especially since Stalin ethnically cleansed the Crimea, but that’s another story). These policies, especially when sold as protection of ethnic Russians minorities ill-treated by locals in the Near Abroad, are enormously popular in Russia.

Russian demo dollies show off new Kalashnikov branding -- in Moscow. Here, it's contraband.

Russian demo dollies show off new Kalashnikov branding — in Moscow. Here, it’s contraband.

It’s much like the situation with Chinese imports, where an anti-gun Administration (In this case, GHW Bush) took the opportunity to get a twofer and punish the “gun nuts” and the Chinese at once for Tienanmen Square. Over a quarter-century later, those sanctions still stand and are not even an irritant in Sino-American relations. Nope, the Russian import ban is probably for good.

So here’s what’s possible

CK branding can apply to American-made Kalashnikov clones. This will be a delight of the sort of fanboy who thinks that an Armalite brand AR-10 is somehow the most “authentic,” because the company making it bought Armalite’s brands, whereas it’s likely that not a single part interchanges from an original Armalite-licensed AR-10. It’s a bit like a guy, behind the times in 1957, buying a badge-engineered Studebaker from his Packard dealer because he always bought Packards.

What determines whether these AKs are good is not the brand that goes on, but the construction that goes in. In the short term, the way for them to maximize profit is to build an el cheapo AK and slap Kalashnikov’s name all over it. Presumably they have some arrangement with CK for royalties, in which case they’ll have to escrow the money. Probably forever. This means they probably can’t be the low-cost provider in the legendarily price-sensitive US AK market. But they can market their clone with the, “Everything else is just a clone,” tagline and see how that works.

In the long term, they might build a better and more sustainable business by taking care to make premium AKs with processes as near to the Russian firm as they can reasonably replicate; this also would leave them in better shape if or when the sanctions regime falls, but we just don’t see it falling. And the market for premium AKs is some small subset of the market for generic AKs.

What’s not happening, and why

Here’s what’s not coming: US-made SVDs, Krinkov SBRs, and other exotics that the already-got-the-easy-stuff collectors of AK-pattern rifles are jonesing for. The business case for these weapons is unchanged since before sanctions, and the business case did not support manufacture beforehand. (Some specialists make a few Krinkovs up from parts kits, but the annual demand for these may be in the single digits of units, at least at the prices the specialists must charge, $3k and up). The regulatory compliance regime (and months-long delays involved) kneecap SBR sales already.

The only reason that the US plant is happening is because the importer has been regulatorily dropkicked out of the import market. They have to do something other than import Russian guns, or fold when their stocks run down. Their way out is to attempt domestic manufacture. We wish them luck; we’re among those guys who have enough basic AKs but if they make a good product, we can always make room for one more.

SHOT is On. Where’s the Dope?

Posted at 1400R 20 Jan 2015; Update 1 at 1450R.

We may update this post. If so, the updated note above will change. If it hasn’t changed since last time you read it, there’s nothing new.

SHOT is on and We’re Not There. &^$&#^!! So where do you go for show dope? Here’s some recommendations.

Some Overall Sources (and Impressions).

You know The Gun Feed and The Gun Wire are going to aggregate the web stuff as best they can. A lot to aggregate. The staff of both sites are working their kiesters off. We love those guys!!

Shooting Illustrated has what appears to be the day’s dump of press releases.

One thing we’re seeing is a lot of .338 Lapua Magnum action, including several guys who thought they were the only ones making a .338 LM AR platform. Jeepers, we just got used to the idea of .300 WM in an AR, as in the Nemo Omen! The .338s are expensive. DRD Tactical’s takedown / backpackable .338, announced today, is called the Kiivari, weighs nearly 15 lbs (not a bad thing in a .338) and sells for $6900. Figure $2k more for a suitable scope.

You can always count on The Firearm Blog for more news than we all have time to read.

The Firearm Report (new site to us) has a slide show of really good images last year, but nothing yet this year. No text with the pictures, though. Of their photos from 2014, I liked the Spartan ballistic helmet, whoever made it. Heh.

TFR SHOT spartan helmet day1-172

We hope they’ll do it again in 2015, but we’ll see.

ARFCOM has a forum thread and a Day 1 Video thread.

If it’s Tweets you Seek

Then this is your link, grasshopper:

https://twitter.com/hashtag/shotshow?f=realtime&src=hash

 

ARFCOM’s Videos from the Show

The videos posted so far are (linked, not embedded):

2A Armament (Billet CNC parts of aluminum, titanium, and steel; new introductions are a rail system and the internally-adjustable lightweight bolt carrier assembly. They don’t make complete guns, but they do make receivers — lightweight, naturally — and many key parts to make a featherweight pistol or SBR).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2RBYwTaQUQ

Aimpoint (ACO, the Aimpoint Carbine Optic, an inexpensive ($393) compact sight that takes Comp series acccessories, and the T2, an $846 micro sight replacing the T1).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pERTN5U9sYc

Desert Tech (adjustable ambi stock, left-handed SRS, .375 suppressor, new prototypes of the MDR 7.62 and 5.56 bullpups, on sched for Q4 2015).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjdElOXVi0w

Lasermax (New Green Rifle Laser)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EpkPX4k7wg

Maxpedition (Backpacks)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIn_65XTJ0s

Samson (Our NH homeboys, introducing QR Return-to-Zero Scope mounts, Evolution rails for new-Armalite pattern AR-10; MLok Rail).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oikgRwdXFQc

US Optics (Appears to be a rundown on existing product liine. They make dual reticle scopes, that have a FFP reticle and a 2nd FP dot).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaHpILI1RJg

 

Other announcements we know about already:

Colt is selling its bread-n-butter LE6920 carbine in two OEM “stripper” versions for people who were going to customize the stocks, etc. anyway. One has a front sight and base, M4 style, and the other an FSB milled down to fit inside a rail. We think we lifted this picture from Shooting Illustrated, but Duncan at Loose Rounds had the basics a couple days ago. (We’ve been seeing very aggressively-priced Colt product in wholesale channels lately, too). Just the thing for the guy who has a 55-gallon drum of plastic handguards and carrying handles.

Colt-LE6920-OEM

Geissele’s daughter company ALG Defense has some Glock accessories, including a slick gadget that replaces the rail and lets you mount a red-dot like the Aimpoint T1. Geissele has new gas blocks and a new Mk IV rail. Both in this ARFCOM thread.

Exercise caution with the first-shot announcements because they may be erroneous. ARFCOM says the CZ Skorpion Evo 3 and Bren 805 are not coming to the USA, except for post-’86 LE only guns, but in fact the 9mm Skorpion is already here as a pistol, and the Bren is announced the same way. Holdup on stocks for SBRs is 922r compliance. What may happen is that CZ may expand US manufacturing to get through the regulatory minefield. (They are already shipping a US-made 1911).

Sharps has AR barrels and ammo in the “new” .25-45 Sharps. (Announced years ago, supposedly shipping RSN). We’re kind of meh about novel calibers. We don’t even have an AR in 6.8 ot 6.

Brownell’s “Edge” — Like Amazon Prime, but for Us.

If you’d like us, at some time or other you’ve probably thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if Brownell’s or Midway had something like Amazon Prime.” Wouldn’t it?

Well, Midway hasn’t been heard from yet, but Brownell’s now does offer such a thing; they call it Brownell’s Edge.

brownells_edge

In the gun and sporting goods world, deals like this can be good or not so good. For example, Sportsman’s Guide has a “Member’s Only” club which we found to be an incredible pain in the neck to operate. Coupled with the cellar-dweller quality of much of their merchandise, we let it lapse. So how does Edge stack up?

Amazon Prime is the daddy of loyalty programs. Prime’s “killer app” — free two-day shipping on most in-stock items — is a sweeter deal than Brownell’s is offering under Edge. Instead, with Edge you get free standard shipping, and discounts (the size of which do not seem to have been revealed) on 2-day or overnight shipping. There are also surcharges for FFL or signature-required items. (Of course, Amazon’s deal might be better, but Amazon is hostile to ambivalent towards firearms-related products. At least you know Brownell’s likes taking your money, something  that’s always in doubt with Amazon).

Free or discounted shipping, then, is the keystone of Brownell’s Edge offering, and the math is simple: are you likely to spend more than $50 this year on shipping? If so, Edge is probably a win for you. If not, it’s a loss. (What Brownell’s may be hoping is that all of us sign up for Edge and then make damn sure we buy enough tools and supplies that we earn back our $50. That was certainly Amazon’s plan for Prime, but they wound up losing money on it).

We did a quick look at Brownell’s, throwing some parts and tools we needed in our cart. A High Standard slide stop spring, a set of roll pin starters (we’ve gotten away with not having those, but they are convenient). $55 worth of tools. $8 worth of shipping. So we’d need a little over six orders this year to pay for Edge. That’s borderline for us — we have a metric crapton of tools already — but the temptation to “get something for nothing” is strong (despite it being as great a violation of God’s natural order as a perpetual motion machine, “something for nothing” still exerts a siren’s call).

There is one more benefit to Edge, that can pay for itself sooner, later or never. That is free return shipping, if you order the wrong thing. Those of us who are infallible don’t need this, but you guys out there may benefit.  Seriously, for the working gunsmith or armorer, ordering an extra or a mistaken part, or having a customer/client/cop/op change his mind about, say, a set of sights, is pretty routine. Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Hey, Jerry, those Trijicon sights for your Glock came in. Stop by and I’ll set ‘em up for you.”

“Oh, geez. I got a new one and it came with night sights, so I don’t need ‘em.”

“Well… okay then, keep us in mind.” Click. $%^$!! Now we gotta pay to ship ‘em back….

If you’re that guy, at least now you can send the sights back without paying shipping. Brownell’s Edge lets you print an RMA label and stick it on the box, and off it goes, with Brownell’s eating the return postage (hoping that they’ve capitated these costs adequately when they offered this for $50).

Hat tip, Tam, on whose site we first heard of this.

In addition to the Edge launch, Brownell’s is flagging four items as SHOT Show launches (the show opens today). They are:

  • Brownell’s own .308 magazine, for KAC/SR-25/M110/Mk11/DPMS type ARs;
  • Truglo TFX night sights, for several common defensive pistols;
  • The X-Products Can Cannon;
  • The X-Products 50-round drum for Colt-style 9mm lowers;
  • Several “Grace” brand premium tools with wood handles.

PARA USA: “Oops”

PARA USA logoPARA USA provided guns to the new Liam Neeson film, Taken 3. (Well, it’s a new version of the same old Neeson film, as the numeral indicates). And now they have egg on their face, as what they thought was a great marketing opportunity turned toxic. The naturalized American star went out of his way to slime them, other gun manufacturers, and all their customers, in his promotional interviews for the show.

According to the Daily Caller, Para USA has taken to Facebook to apologize to the community and vow never to provide another firearm for a Neeson film. (We can’t check this as we can’t seem to get the PARA facebook page to load, but we can’t stand Facebook anyway, even if one of our clients forbids us from keeping an account there — long story — anyway). Per the Caller, PARA said:

para_statement

We did get a screencap of the statement before press time, and the Caller’s quote is accurate.

PARA USA regrets its decision to provide firearms for use in the film “Taken 3.” While the film itself is entertaining, comments made by its Irish-born star during press junkets reflect a cultural and factual ignorance that undermines support of the Second Amendment and American liberties. We will no longer provide firearms for use in films starring Liam Neeson and ask that our friends and partners in Hollywood refrain from associating our brand and products with his projects. Further, we encourage our partners and friends in the firearms industry to do the same.

Note that, although Liam Neeson was born in Ireland, previously lived in London, he became a US citizen whilst living in New York at least five years ago. Unlike 99.9999% of Americans, he’s an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire, entitling him to use the postnominal letters OBE. (The order’s motto is For God and the Empire. Sounds a bit… off, to small-r republican ears, but hey, it’s his life and he can do what he wants with it). And, of course, he’s entitled to his opinion.

But it looks to us as if Liam Neeson does not want the half to two-thirds of Americans who own guns to attend his movies.

Transmission received, Irish-American brother.

We’ll do what we can to make him happy, including skipping this latest formulaic bloodbath, for which he was paid $20 mil. (To be sure, we weren’t going to see it anyway. It has a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting that those who did drop $10 or $15 on a ticket have regrets. Apparently many of the attendees are folks who go to see American Sniper and find it sold-out. Seriously, if you’re in that kind of a jam, try Paddington).

PARA USA 96641_lda_officerWhile we would (and did) put our unique and special epidermis on the line for his right to express himself, there’s something mighty odd about an actor who has reveled in playing characters responsible for hundreds if not thousands of onscreen killings, calling for firearms bans, as he did while bad-mouthing the United States to an Arab newspaper recently.

Maybe it can deploy caltrops like Bond's DB5.

Neeson’s ride for the next Taken outing. Maybe it can deploy caltrops like Bond’s DB5.

That’s certainly odd. But is that as odd as the Social-Security-age Neeson creakily playing an action hero? He was already visibly over the hill at 60 in the creaky Taken 2. What’s he going to do in Taken 4, run his Lark over the terrorists? Tune ‘em up with his walker?

Let’s face it, as an old man ordering a kid off his lawn, Clint Eastwood retired that setup for all time in Gran Torino. And went on to a directing career of some significance.

As far as PARA goes, we’re not sure how PARA-USA relates to the original PARA-Ordnance, but that was (is?) a Canadian company. (We think they were the first to double-stack a 1911). In any event, it’s always painful when a well-meant marketing move backfires on you. Our taste in .45s runs more to old 1911s or a Norwegian Model 1914, but we almost want to buy a PARA just to buck these fellows up. They do have a nice DAO compact in .45 or 9mm, the LDA Officer Model. We haven’t tried it but it looks tempting.

Nite Owl Can’t Spell, But Can Make a New Pistol

Here’s the Nite Owl. It’s being introduced to the world today at SHOT, although the web site and Facebook have been up for a while.

Nite-Owl-1795Err…. wait one. Wrong Nite Owl. Please stand by.

Here’s the Nite Owl, a 9mm and .45 caliber service pistol. It’s being introduced to the world today at SHOT, although the web site and Facebook have been up for a while.

niteowl-05

As you see, it’s a polymer-frame steel-slide of Glock-inspired conventional design, with a blocky slide, fixed 3-dot sights (what, not “nite” sights? Nope, not even an option yet, although adjustables are), and no safety. (There’s a firing-pin block drop-safety, and a trigger-bar safety of the Glock style). There are some detail differences of course, and the pistol has an aesthetic sense of its own. It is made in the USA; Nite Owl is a brand of Evans Machining Service of Clairton, Pennsylvania (isn’t that the setting of The Deer Hunter?), and Evans has been cutting metal for firearms industry clients for a long time. Making their own handgun is a big step up.

Nite Owl rendering

All we have so far are prototype photos, renderings, and specs. Rather than just pontificate on the specs, we’ll share them with you. Here’s the 9mm:

Model: NO9-R

Type: Striker Fired Semi-Auto
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 10+1 / 15+1 / 17+1 / 18+1 / 20+1
Barrel Length: 4.17″ (105.91mm)
OAL/Height/Width: 7.20″ (182.88mm) / 5.28″ (134.11mm) / 1.12″ (28.44mm)
Weight: 28 oz.
Construction: Polymer Frame with Steel Slide
Sights: Standard 3 Dot Fixed
Trigger: Single Action with 5.25# Pull (measured)
Safety: Firing Pin Block, Trigger Lever Safety
MSRP: $ 675.00 EA
Manufacturer: Evans Machining Service Inc
Handedness: Available in Right or Left Hand

That last bit is worth mentioning. The N09 is available in -R or -L models — not something you fiddle with to make ambidextrous, but a real left handed, mirror image version. (If CBS-era Fender had done this for guitars, would it have been better or worse for Jimi Hendrix’s visual impact?) Nite Owl says:

We thought about the left-handed shooters and have left out the universal word ‘ambidextrous’ out of the equation during the development of our products. Both right and left hand models will be available in 9mm and 45ACP. This is a true left-handed model that extracts to the left side of the shooter allowing the shooter to stay focused on the target. The casings that you would normally experience while shooting a right hand model is no longer a distraction.

Our guess: someone in management is a lefty. After all, the rest of us always fail to check our right privilege. Hollywood movie with duel-wielded consecutive-numbered guns in 5, 4, 3… well, we hear Liam Neeson needs a new gun supplier for Taken XLIV or whatever is next… although we wouldn’t recommend him to Nite Owl.

Another novelty that doesn’t come out in the specs is that, rather than go down the road of a proprietary magazine, they just lifted proven designs from other manufacturers: any Beretta 92 (92SB and newer, with the mag release where the frame joins the trigger guard bow) will fit the N09, and any Para P14 style will fit the .45. Speaking of which, its specs are not on the website yet.

Nite Owl plans, ultimately, to have 9mm and .45 in full size (that’s this one), compact and subcompact sizes — each one available righty or lefty. For now, just the full size is supposed to become available this week. If you like the Glock or S&W M&P style of pistol, here;s another alternative to consider. (Bearing in mind the Caracal disaster, nobody should buy a new product as an only pistol. Let the pros wring it out for a while. A lot of the guns that got on magazine covers are now collectors’ items exactly because they didn’t succeed in the market).

Breaking: ATF Revokes Some Shoulder “Brace” Letters

ATF-Molan LabeThe ATF has issued a new and undated letter — apparently on a Saturday — containing a blanket statement that firing a weapon with an “arm brace” from the shoulder constitutes a “redesign” of the device and a Federal felony.

Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.

The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF… (does).

The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item.

We bet you didn’t know that you “redesigned” that scabrous Hi-Point when you used it as a paperweight, or “redesigned” an old shotgun that’s bracing a door open. Ah, but that’s not how it works, you can only “redesign” yourself into peril of imprisonment, not out of same.

The key line, and the one most urgently pushed out by the ATF, is this:

Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.

That’s the SIG brace they’re talking about.

sigbrace1

Use it like this: you’re legal (at least until Kingery feels the urge to write a new letter). Hunch over it, they’ll throw you in jail, with their Mexican-cartel pals (at least, the ones other agencies catch), for a decade or so.

This preemptive strike, signed by Acting Chief Max Kingery of the ATF Firearms Technology Branch but according to our ATF guy, drafted by the Chief Counsel’s Office, is intended to chill development of new technology and is the second in a series (the first was the manufacturing letter) of new administrative moves designed to increase the scope of the National Firearms Act beyond its written language.

These moves are in the spirit of “a phone and a pen” and rely on Administration top cover against Congress, but also rely on extant case law which directs the courts to give great deference to administrative rulings, on the presumption that administrative agencies know better than the courts what they are doing.

In the last several years, the ATF have supplied more firearms to criminals than they’ve interdicted. They are working at cross purposes to the rest of Federal law enforcement (not because that’s what the 1811’s want to be doing, either). With the recent letters, ATF management have openly embraced the partisan political positions that have long been a ticket to advancement in the politicized agency.

Maybe it’s time for ATF to lose 1000 personnel slots in its administrative arms. That might get their attention. But even before that, it’s time for the NFA’s arcane prohibitions of Short Barreled Rifles and Short Barreled Shotguns, which are seldom applied except against otherwise law-abiding persons with “gotcha” rulings (like this one), to go away. It’s time for the wannabe gun gestapo to lose the authority over these products. They have mismanaged the authority they have, demonstrating that they can’t be trusted with it.

Meanwhile, nobody’s looking for the select-fire M4 that was stolen from an agent’s car while two agents made the beast with two backs. That’s not a priority for ATF. This is. They need some new priorities.

GhostGunner Update

It looks as if Defense Distributed’s original intent, to ship the initial batch of GhostGunners by Christmas, ran into the buzzsaw called reality, and the machines did not ship on time.

The [GhostGunner] team worked all through December to begin fulfillment just before Christmas Day, but due to two of our US suppliers missing their original and revised December delivery deadlines, we have been at the mercy of factors outside of our control.

The bottleneck came down to our steel enclosures.

enclose1

Though we are now delayed over ten days in our internal shipping schedule, we are fully prepared to begin fulfillment when we receive sufficient enclosures, which should be as early as the first week of January.

It’s not ideal news, but we are fully staffed for final assemblies and have run a really great catchup game in our V&V.

The delays have allowed some improvements to the machine. They’ve brought circuit-board production in-house:

Final GG software testing continues uninhibited and we’ve established our own board production to cut even more costs.

circuit board

This presumably means their own GrblO (pronounce “garble-oh!”) board, And, perhaps more usefully for end users, the machine will ship ready to handle 80% lowers that do not have the rear pocket milled out, as well as the ones that do. As late as November 2014, they were still saying that only the lowers with the pockets milled out would work.

Ghostgunner test

Unlike every other technology firm, they can’t put their software or firmware on the web, and they can’t even post their user manual.They have run into difficulties, not unexpectedly, with the various Fed agencies that are supposed to license technology “exports,” which theFed defines as having happened when you put software on the Internet.

At least one GhostGunner did make it into private hands, in Texas, where it showed up at a demonstration at the state Capital. Guns.com has a full report, complete with video, but we thought these quotes from Cody Wilson show that he’s playing a somewhat different game than your average entrepreneur:

I thought CATI [Come And Take It Texas] demonstrated the machine, and presented themselves, like men truly jealous of their Liberty.

As for my own objectives, if I can’t get you to stop asking permission from your Government, I can at least demonstrate its overcoming at its front steps.

Food for thought, that.

Personally, we just think a programmable, highly-rigid, easily fixturable and open-source CNC endmill has a lot of uses around here. Our revolution is a technological, not political, one. But freedom is the greatest and yet, the least harmful, of intoxicants, is it not?

Big News From MagPul: Glock Mags

MagPul has had several announcements of new products. We’ve featured their video press release on the D-60 60-round AR drum, because the product tickled our fancy. On the other hand, we initially let their AK announcement slide. There were two reasons that we might have included it here: (1) it’s a big deal that they have an AK product line, and it will give tacticool AK fans an alternative to TAPCO, and (2) the video is hell for clever, and humorous, and God knows we haven’t had enough grins lateley, and there are plenty in this. So we’ll run the video now, even though we didn’t run it here when they first put it up.

Now, there was one reason we didn’t originally run the video: the video was great, but the product didn’t excite us all that much. We’re not huge fans of the AR Stock of the Week club, and while we like Magpul’s mags, they didn’t announce mags for the AK. That got us thinking about why they didn’t announce AK mags at the same time as they made a humorous video launching their stocks. As we see it, the possibilities are:

  1. They don’t think there’s a market at all. AK owners tend to be bottom feeders, mag-wise; they buy dirt-cheap surplus mags, or cheap-in-both-senses TAPCO ones. Is there a void at the top of the market? If so, is it large enough for a new mag to have a positive NPV, considering tooling costs?
  2. They don’t think they could be price-competitive. Not only do their top-line AR mags sell for more than the popular AK mags, their budget-line AR mags do, too. We’d guess an AK mag (with its greater size) would cost more in material and take more machine time; we doubt they’d be able to bring it in for less than their AR mags.
  3. They’re planning to launch an AK mag, but it wasn’t ready for SHOT. Strong probability, because our instinct tells us there is a narrow niche at the top of the AK mag quality continuum, and Magpul with their brand ID could own that niche.
  4. They’re planning to launch an AK mag, but, Steve Jobs-style, they’re holding the Big Reveal for last (Jobs was legendary for his presentations that would seem near winding up, and he’d say, “Wait. There’s one more thing… ” and a roomful of Apple fanboys would go nonlinear. Under this scenario, the AK mag will hit Magpul’s facebook on Sunday night and be there to greet SHOT attendees on Monday. That’s our guess, and we have friends looking for stuff.

CORRECTION: Uh, we’re as dumb as a box of rocks. The reason Magpul didn’t announce AK mags is because they already have AK mags. In fact, it seems that they’re in their second generation of them. D’oh. Thanks to Shawn at LooseRounds.com for catching our error.

End of Correction.

Having a diverse product line has other benefits for a company so tightly wedded to injection-molding technology. Injection-molding tools and machinery are very expensive, but they need to run all day to earn back the investment in them. Many products means you can respond flexibly to the market, without idling machines for longer than a die change.

But the BIG News from the Colorado Escapees…

…Has to be the Magpul Glock mag. They teased it yesterday morning with this image on their Facebook page.

Magpul Glock Teaser

Then they announced at noonish yesterday. Video, with the soundtrack of a somewhat incongruous Jobim standard where the industry is fixated on death metal:

There’s no voiceover on the video, which makes us wonder if it was put together in hell-for-a-hurry.

And Da Facts:

The PMAG 17 GL9 is a 17 round Glock 9mm handgun magazine featuring a new proprietary all-polymer construction for flawless reliability and durability over thousands of rounds. High visibility anti-tilt follower, SS spring, easily removable floorplate for cleaning, Dot matrix for mag marking, ridged floorplate edges for better grip, 17rd indicator windows. Drops free loaded or unloaded. The same boring reliability you expect from an OEM magazine. MSRP $15.95

If you’ve ever paid $30 to feed your Glock, this has got to be tried out. The factory Glock mag is polymer overmolded on steel internal parts, which is part of why it’s so expensive. (Overmolding is high-value-added as injection molding goes). The Magpul mag has no overmolding — it’s plastics all the way down.

The Glock magazine is one of the cornerstones of Glock reliability. Gaston Glock understood in a way that the US Army does not understand that the magazine is an absolutely critical component of the interactive, even resonant system that is an autoloading firearm. (The mags for the AR system were originally intended to be single-use disposable). Glock mags are built like Glock’s knives and shovels (which ought to be more famous. The Glock field knife is a baby Ka-Bar). So MagPul has struck the king here, and struck him in one of his highest-margin fiefdoms. If they’ve got it right we’ll soon know, and the sad panda flag will be flying over the accountants’ cubicles in Deutsch-Wagram.

One last note to put a smile on your face: these mags will generate a lot of sales — many millions of dollars — and a lot of work hours and workers’ income, and of course, corporate revenue and, one hopes, profits. There will be some new pickup trucks in the Magpul lot in 2015, and somebody’s going to get a new kitchen or a big-game hunt out of it. And all that stuff is going to get taxed to some degree or another, and not a dime of those taxes will go where they would have gone, to the state of Colorado and jurisdictions within, if John Hickenlooper and his legislative loyalists had not declared war on the 2nd Amendment. That’s economic growth that Hick and friends chose to, shall we say, out-grow. But hey, he thinks magazines like this are a crime wave in the making, so they’re banned in Colorado anyway.

Yikes. Magpul Launches 60-Round Drum

Well, we guess we all know what Magpul is letting out of the bag at SHOT next week. The video dropped at about 1300 Eastern Time yesterday, and we don’t know anything else about it. It’s a 60-round drum with a loading lever to allow “easy” hand-loading. They show it with ARs, a 416 (wait, that’s an AR, HK fanboys!) and a SAW.

Looks like you could definitely melt a barrel with a few of these things. Looks like Magpul got close.

It’s pretty bulky. There are good drums on the market already, including a couple with NSNs, but drums tend to have problems as practical mags. (When we tried to use them in SF, it was as a single mag to use gaining fire superiority as part of an ambush drill. We wound up regressing to standard capacity, 30-round magazines).

Some of the drums out there work well, and each has some pros and cons. But none of them has Magpul’s name and brand recognition behind it. Maybe we need to gather a few drums for a drum-off?