Category Archives: Industry

Assortative Relocation Continues with Mossberg and possibly Stag

10x10_Mossberg-Logo_V01In an excellent report at Forbes, Frank Miniter covers what surely looks like the beginning of last days of gunmaking in Gun Valley.  An excerpt:

[I]n 2013 Connecticut rushed through legislation to ban some of Mossberg’s popular products. As a result, Mossberg CEO, Iver Mossberg, says, “Investing in Texas was an easy decision. It’s a state that is not only committed to economic growth but also honors and respects the Second Amendment and the firearm freedoms it guarantees for our customers.”

Mossberg has instead expanded its Maverick Arms, Inc. facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, with 116,000 new square-feet of factory space. Mossberg is not a small gun manufacturer. According to records kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Mossberg made 475,364 guns in America in 2011. Of those guns, a total of 423,570 were shotguns made for sportsmen, for shotgun sports enthusiasts, for law-enforcement and for people who want a shotgun to protect their homes and families.

More than 90 percent of Mossberg’s guns are now made in Texas. Some of its Connecticut jobs are going there, too. Tom Taylor, O.F. Mossberg & Sons’ senior vice president, sales & marketing, tells me, “We’re moving all wood gun stock production to our Texas facility. More of our product lines—like our modern sporting rifles—might move to Texas in the future. Texas has been very good to us. Also, our gun sales have been so dynamic over the last number of years. We’ve outgrown our facilities. This major expansion will help us keep up with demand.”

Assortative relocation from anti- to pro-gun states isn’t just companies that have left, like PTR, or companies that have moved most of their production, like Mossberg. It also affects companies that choose to stay, like Stag Arms.

After Malloy signed his gun ban and other gun-control measures in 2013, Mark Malkowski, president of Stag Arms in New Britain, Conn., told me, “Some companies have seen brand damage because they operate in a state consumers see as unfriendly. We have to take this into account. We have to consider all our options. Tomorrow, for example, I have a meeting on the schedule with officials from Texas. They and other states would like us to take our business to them.”

Another gun company, PTR firearms, left Bristol, Conn., with about 60 employees to South Carolina. Stag Arms, meanwhile, is still considering its options as Mossberg—like Beretta, Remington and many other gun makers—shift away from states that treat law-abiding gun owners like they’re the problem, not a part of the solution.

If Frank says Stag is “considering its options,” that’s new. (Malkowski’s comments about meetinf with Governor Perry were from 2013).  Last time around, Stag management concluded that because of their workforce’s family ties to Connecticut, the right thing to do was stay in CT and fight to reform the state’s primitive gun laws.

We can only report that whenever we mention positively some firearm made by a firm headquartered in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York, whether it’s here or in a gunshop in meatworld, we’re instantly countered with language indicating that a significant segment of the market does not want to purchase firearms and see the manufacturer in turn redistribute a large part of that to totalitarian states’ tax coffers.

And one recalls Smith & Wesson’s near-death experience after it conspired with the Clinton Administration to undermine gun rights in 1994.

Sniping and Satisficing

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

We had an epiphany while at a foreign weapons course, zeroing in on a target with a Romanian FPK with a badly maladjusted scope. Fortunately, the instructor was an ace spotter, so he was able to talk us on to heart shots by using Kentucky windage — aiming, in fact, at the silhouette’s hand in his pocket to pop him just (our) right (his left) of the sternum.

It wasn’t the optimum way to fire the gun, but it worked. It was satisficing, not optimizing.

A McMillan .338 LM with a Nightforce or Schmit & Bender scope might well be an optimum sniper weapon, but the organizations that spring for weapons like that are few and small. A small, poor country like Communist Romania could put an FPK in every  or every other rifle squad. The USSR did something similar with the similar-looking (but better designed and made) SVD (Dragunov Sniper Rifle, in its Russian acronym). What were they thinking?

These weapons would not impress M24-equipped SOF snipers, or M40-wielding Marine Scout Snipers. But they were adequate for their task. They gave every rifle unit a few precision riflemen that could engage point targets out beyond the effective range of assault rifles. They got all the other benefits of snipers, too: ISR through direct observation being, perhaps, the most important.

The Soviet and Warsaw Pact (now Russian and CIS) program was a success even though it was not up to SF or Marine standards. But, thing is, it didn’t have to be. For the Russian architects of Soviet sniping doctrine, which drove the development of the SVD rifle, “good enough” was, well, good enough. They chose to satisfice, not optimize, a decision that met all their needs while working within their constraints.

Satisficing is often a more satisfying process than optimizing. If something is optimized for particular requirements, it may be less adaptable than something that was just good enough. And it’s entirely at the mercy of the wisdom and foresight of the guys who write those requirements. (Six years after adoption, for instance, even Army Ordnance figured out that the nifty-neat magazine disconnector that let you use a Krag like a Trapdoor really wasn’t enough of a killer feature to pick it over the Mauser, after all).

The US has many riches in Small Arms Development, but consistency is not one of them. Consider two development programs that brought contracts to H&K over the years: the Offensive Pistol and the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System. Both of these contracts were successful, in that the US military procured (or in the case of the CSASS, is procuring) at least some of the systems. But both might have gone better, had a satisficing approach been taken instead of a maximizing one.

The Offensive Pistol was a special operations project mostly driven by a SEAL wish-list. It produced a pistol that checked every box, but that was nearly as bulky and heavy (with its suppressor) as a carbine. Despite the weight, though, the Mk 23 pistol was handicapped by being a pistol that fired a pistol cartridge. That meant it could never be a sole weapon, the guy using the Mk 23 (presumably in clearing a linear or confined target) needed to have a carbine too.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island. Without something for scale, the size of it isn’t obvious…

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

The Mk 23s are out there, but I’ve never heard of anybody using them for anything but playing on the range, or stylin’ and profilin’. It was optimized for its set of specifications, but nobody ever said, “Wait a minute, we say we want it to do X and handle Y, but did we ever do X and Y with a pistol before? Why not?”

In the case of the CSASS, the Army (in particular) had another firearm that was developed from a telephone-book-sized stack of requirements and specifications, the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. The M110 SASS had the same thyroid problem as the Mk 23: it was unweildy for the ways the soldiers wanted to use it.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system. And it was too long and unwieldy, hence, the compact semi-auto sniper system competition started to find a less unwieldy

The maker of the original M110, Knight’s Armament Corp., offered to modify the existing M110s to meet the new spec for short money but the Army wasn’t having any of that. They wanted all new guns, and hang the expense.

The CSASS, a cousin of the German G 28 (HK calls this variant the G28E), is basically a piston .308 AR, but it’s optimized for the new specification.

das-hk-g28e-im-cal-7-62mmx51What happens when the users of that rifle make contact with the enemy and suggest some changes? Or, somewhat more cynically, what happens when some new action officer replaces the old and brings a new set of prejudices to bear on the problem? Will the CSASS have as short a run as the M110 did? And be replaced, as it was, by what’s essentially the same gun?

Origins of the BAR, Part III: The BAR in WWI Combat

Val Browning with a BAR "Somewhere in France."

Val Browning with a BAR “Somewhere in France.”

The BAR was desperately sought by the AEF, and the officers of the Ordnance Corps recognized its brilliance immediately: while the equally brilliant M1917 water-cooled machine gun was subject to a degree of jiggery-pokery prior to adoption, the BAR was adopted, as is, at its very first demonstration.

But as we have seen, manufacturing took time to get started. There were drawings, and process sheets, and tools, and jigs and fixtures to prepare. John M. Browning typically worked in steel, and provided working prototypes: he never drew a set of production drawings in his life, and indeed, he is not noted for involving himself in questions of production, only of design. Therefore, the process of turning the BAR from his hand-tooled prototypes to a mass-producible arm for a citizen army took effort, which took time: about three months from contract kickoff with the outbreak of the war to first BARs with the AEF in France. Let’s go back to our expert, George Chinn:

In July 1918 the B.A.R’s arrived in France in the hands of the United States 79th Division, which was the first organization to be equipped with them and took them into action on 13 September 1918. The 80th Division was the first American Division already in France to be issued the weapons. It is an interesting fact that First Lt. Val Browning, son of the inventor, personally demonstrated the weapon against the enemy.

The B. A. R. was more enthusiastically received in Europe than the heavy water-cooled gun, and requests for purchase by all the Allied Governments were made immediately after it arrived overseas. The French Government alone asked for 15,000 to take the place of the inferior machine rifle, then being used by both French and American troops. The latter weapon was found so unreliable that many were actually thrown away by troops during action.

However, the War ended so soon after this that the bulk of the American forces were still equipped with machine guns supplied by the British and French.

While there exist some AARs praising the performance of the M1917, which went into combat about ten days later than the BAR, we’re not aware of primary source documents about the BAR’s performance. But while the contribution of a handful of BARs to the war effort might have been de minimis, the gun would embed itself in the American military postwar.

There is an interesting sidebar to the story of the BAR in France, as Tom Laemlein wrote in American Rifleman in 2012:

American divisions deployed to France after July 1, 1918 (including the 6th, 7th, 8th, 29th, 36th and 79th) carried the BAR with them. Incredibly, upon their arrival in France, most of these divisions had their BARs replaced with .30-cal. M1918 Chauchats, by order of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing. The first recorded use of the BAR was with the 79th Infantry Division, and that was not until Sept. 22, 1918, during the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Just three other divisions would carry the BAR before the end of World War I.

General Pershing determined the best course of action would be to wait until most of the U.S. divisions could be fully equipped with BARs (and with a ready supply of the rifles and spare parts available) to gain the full advantage of deploying the new rifle. General Pershing also feared that if the BAR were deployed too quickly that the Germans would inevitably capture one, and seeing its great capability would reverse-engineer the weapon and make it their own.

Records of the Automatic Arms Section of the AEF present the status of automatic rifles in France as of Sept. 8, 1918: “At the present time 18 U.S. divisions have been equipped with the Chauchat. No more divisions will receive this weapon in the future. At the present time there are nine U.S. divisions equipped with the caliber .30 Chauchat. However this gun has proved to be not at all satisfactory, the cartridges sticking in the chamber after the gun becomes slightly hot. For this reason the gun has been issued as an emergency weapon and will be withdrawn as soon as the Browning Automatic Rifles are available. At the present time 27 U.S. divisions have been equipped with the Chauchat Auto Rifle, and two divisions with the British are using the British .303 Lewis machine guns. All divisions over and above this number have been equipped with the Browning Automatic Rifle.”

There’s even another interesting sidebar in there, relative to the Lewis gun, the British counterpart of the BAR at this time (1918). Lewis was not a Briton; he was, in fact, an American ordnance officer whose gun, due to branch politics, was never considered seriously by the US Army.

Finally, another American Rifleman story reproduces the text of a 17 September 1918 report b the Automatic Arms section of the AEF’s Engineering Division about what the report calls the “Browning Machine Rifle” or BMR, a name which apparenly didn’t stick. While the rifle had been in combat by the time, that’s not reflected in the report. A couple of interesting points:

The similarity in appearance between a B.M.R. and our service rifle is so great that when the guns are in the field that they cannot be distinguished from each other at a distance greater than 50 yds.

And the tactical employment envisioned was not the “walking fire” about which so much has been written. Instead:

The gun will be used for the most part as a rapid firing single shot weapon. It can be fired from the shoulder, kneeling or prone, the greatest accuracy, of course, being obtained in the latter position with the front of the forearm resting on some rigid body. In cases of emergency where the ammunition can be supplied, and where a large volume of fire is necessary, this gun will be fired automatically. Five hundred rounds were fired in 3½ minutes under field conditions, but this figure is a maximum for fire volume. Under ordinary conditions 300 rounds should be placed as a limit for continuous automatic fire except in cases of emergency.

Do Read the Whole Thing™. Automatic fire was envisioned as something to be used “In cases of emergency where the ammunition can be supplied, and where a large volume of fire is necessary.” That just goes to show that doctrine was evolving dynamically in 1917-18, and that it would evolve further in later years. By World War II, not only was the M1918A2 version not used “as a rapid firing single shot, weapon,” it couldn’t be: it had no semi-auto setting, and offered a low cyclic rate option in its place.

In the end, it’s impossible to avoid the thought that the BAR did achieve one very important result in World War I: it showed what was possible in wartime production.

Origins of the BAR, Part II: WWI Manufacturing

Where we left you yesterday, Colt had delivered to the Government the gages, tools and drawings for BAR (and M1917 machine gun) production. We’ll continue with Chinn’s story:

During July and August 1917, more than 2 months after our entry into the war, a survey was made of facilities and plants thought capable of turning out the water-cooled version in quantity.

Several different plants began M1917 production. Then it was the BAR’s turn.

The production of the B.A.R. followed a similar pattern. Browning carried on most of his early development on the machine rifle at the Colt’s Patent FireArmsCo. Later, Winchester gave valuable assistance in connection with the preparation and correction of the drawings, adding many refinements to the gun. Winchester was the first to start manufacture on this model. Since the work did not begin until February 1918, it was so rushed that the component part of the first 1,800 to be put out were found to be not strictly interchangeable. Production had to be temporarily halted until the required manufacturing procedures were altered to bring the weapon up to specifications. At the end of the war the Winchester Co. was producing 1300 B.A.R.’s a day. A total of 63,000 items were canceled at the time of the Armistice.

Chinn just leaves this hanging here, and doesn’t answer the obvious question: how many BARs did Winchester produce prior to the end-of-war contract cancellation? For that we have to go to a Winchester source. R.L. Wilson’s Winchester: An American Legend, which is at once a beautiful coffee-table book and a fact-packed Winchester source, says “about 47,000” in its brief paragraph on BAR manufacture (p. 171), which is worth reproducing in full:

In September, 1917, Winchester was instructed to commence tooling up for the manufacture of the Browning automatic rifle (BAR). Edwin Pugsley, then manufacturing engineer, went to the Colt factory see the only existing model. Since the BAR was needed at Colt’s during the work week, it was borrowed for a weekend, and in that time drawings were made and the project begun. By the end of December the first Winchester BAR at been completed. Production was well along by March, and by Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, Winchester had made approximately 47,000. Winchester also had begun construction of the Browning .50-caliber machine gun and had a working model completed within about two months. That gun, however, never entered into production, because of the end of hostilities.

Winchester found wartime contracting not to be the lucrative profit center it was imagined to be: the company took in vast amounts of money from Britain (for whom it made the P14 Enfield), Russia (Mosin-Nagant M1891) and US (1917 Enfield, BAR) but it sank it all into plant expansion to fulfill the contracts, and was fortunate to escape bankruptcy. It did, however, end up with greatly expanded facilities and an immeasurable increase in manufacturing know-how. Back to Chinn (p. 180-181):

The Marlin-Rockwell Corp. intended originally to use the Hopkins and Allen Co. plant for the construction of this weapon, but found that a contract for making rifles for the Belgian Government fully occupied its facilities. The corporation then acquired the Mayo Radiator Co.’s factory for use in its contract to produce the B.A.R. The first run from this source was made on 11 June 1918, and by 11 November 1918 the company was turning out 200 automatic rifles a day. The postwar cancellation was 93,000 weapons.

If Marlin’s contract was, like Winchester’s, 100,000 rifles, then Marlin turned out 7,000 BARs before the cancellation telegram arrived. (As we’ll see, this assumption is far from certain).

The Colt Co., because of the heavy demands of previous orders, produced only 9,000 B.A.R.’s. The combined daily production by all companies was 706 and a total of approximately 52,000 rifles was delivered by all sources.

Here’s where the lack of a BAR-specific book on our shelves shows. Obviously Winchester’s 47,000, Marlin’s 7,000 and Colt’s 9,000 doesn’t add up to 52,000 (more like 63,000), plus we’re doubtful that the production actually came down to round numbers like this. Somebody smarter than us has already done this research and resolved, or at least explained, these discrepancies. (Both Chinn and Wilson are well-regarded for accuracy, for what it’s worth).

Apart from the errors on the first 1,800 BARs made at Winchester, BAR production was relatively trouble-free; a more serious error in M1917 machine gun production required a doubler to be attached to the receiver, and this hand rework cost more than the actual production of the guns in the first place, a reminder of the risks inherent in modern mass production in wartime.

Tomorrow we’ll conclude this mini-series with Origins of the BAR, Part III: The BAR in WWI Combat, again quoting from Chinn.

(Note: we do have a picture for this article, but lacked time to prepare and insert it before press time. We will catch up and insert it later, if we can).

Two Training Firms Accused of Stiffing Instructors

burning-wasting-moneyOver the weekend, an interesting situation began to develop in the training community. It was kicked off by a message from Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts, breaking off his longstanding relationship with Alias Training & Security due to longstanding nonpayment and bad communication. Soon, several other top-level trainers had joined Jeff, including Pat McNamara, Mike Pannone and Larry Vickers. Jeff wrote:

As many of you are aware we have been utilizing the services of Alias Training and Security (ATS) over the last 20 months. Recently, we have experienced some major problems forcing us to reconsider our association with ATS. They have been delinquent on paying us for the last several classes and more than likely will not be paying us for our CQB class in Alliance, OH I am currently getting ready for this coming week.

I am not the only one who has experienced these problems, good friends and fellow trainers Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara and Craig Douglas have all had similar experience both in delinquency of revenue owed as well as lack of communications with ATS. I feel and I know I echo the others my level of frustration has reached a point where I have exhausted all avenues and the benefit of the doubt has reached the reasonable limit.

Alias was slow to respond (which, if you’ve ever had any dealings with them, is par for the course) but finally stopped taking deposits on all open courses, marking them “sold out.”

Finally they posted this to their Facebook page:

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that as of Monday July 13, 1016 Alias Training & Security Services, LLC will be closing its doors. An ongoing dispute with our merchant services financial company has made things untenable. Our apologies to all affected students, instructors, etc. To all students of upcoming classes please expect an email early this week to explain the situation in more detail.

Again our most sincere apologies,

Alias Staff

What makes this interesting is the claim that “an ongoing dispute with our merchant services financial company” is the root of their problem. That certainly sounds like a Choke Point attack, the kind the DOJ, IRS and banking regulators have used in the past against the Administration’s political “enemies.”

But the problem with that is this: while Choke Point could keep you from paying Gonzales, Pannone or Vickers what you owed ’em, it can’t stop you from telling them about it. If that was the case, would Jeff really be talking about

…lack of communications with ATS…

…the rest of the group and I went above and beyond trying to remedy this situation. I take this matter very seriously and I’m sure you will all see how the group and I have acted in the most professional manner, but now it is time to move forward…

instead of criticizing the regulator?

By the way, it looks like Jeff is planning to go forward with the Alliance class even though he has not received and doesn’t expect to receive the money the students paid (through Alias’s web site).

Meanwhile, Paul Howe has been fighting his own battle with Pantaeo Productions. In his July newsletter (.pdf), he writes:

It is with regret that I ask CSAT followers not to purchase or stream any CSAT content at Panteao at this time. This is reference to not receiving compensation for my work.

Life is a people business and I try to give everyone chances and support them until I see things go in the wrong direction. Even then I still try to correct issues give positive advice. At some point I must step in and do what I think is right.

Pantaeo has made some dynamic videos and has an excellent e-commerce website. However, its principal, Fernando Coelho, is a convicted felon, and what’s more, what he was convicted for was, specifically, financial fraud. This was in relation to the long and drama-rich collapse of an ammunition firm, Triton Cartridge Corporation, he once owned in upstate New York. (The newspaper headline called him, “Swindler,” not an epithet we’d want to wear). He got five years’ probation and was ordered to repay $328k he had essentially embezzled from a creditor and/or stolen from his own employees by not paying them. We’re unaware of whether he ever paid that money back, or any of it. Maybe he did.

Unlike Alias, as far as we know Pantaeo hasn’t even tried telling a story about why they’re stiffing Howe.

So — are Pantaeo and Alias being squeezed by Operation Choke Point or some nameless, more deniable successor? Or are they themselves doing the squeezing, to the instructors they haven’t paid?

UPDATE

This story continues to develop. Soldier-Systems has a story with comment from both Mike Pannone and Larry Vickers (LAV is actually in the comments, not the story). Do read the comments — some of the background on Alias is, well, let’s just say it’s no wonder they called it “Alias.” They seemed to be planning on needing one.

 

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.

 

Auction Action

Tomorrow, the Rock Island Auctions regional auction is underway. We’ll be bidding on a few items. Some of the bids are for things we really want, and we bid appropriately. Others, we’d kind of like to have, and so we lowballed. Here’s one we’d like to win:

CZ 36 L

It’s a rare CZ 36, which was made from 1936 to 1945; it’s a compact, DA pistol in 6.35mm/.25 ACP, and that one’s in superb condition. It was replaced by the CZ 45, which is rare in the USA, but not worldwide — it was produced continuously from 1946 to 1970, when it was replaced by a new version, and in 1992, a newer version still; these latter-day versions have never been legally imported to the USA, under the “sporting test” that the Gun Control Act of 1968 borrowed from Nazi gun law.

A lot of the things are auctions for multi-gun lots where we only want one or two guns. If that’s the case, we’ll be selling the extras and thinning out the safe a little. We’re going to keep our own bid amounts secret for now, but here’s what we’re bidding on (we may mention a couple lots we considered bidding on but didn’t).

All the bids and some more photos in a table after the jump. (We may add more photos tomorrow).

Continue reading

The 3D Printing Revolution is Over, and other Developments

We’ve had a few interesting developments in home and small office firearms prototyping lately.

The 3D Printing Revolution is Over, Part I

red_flagIn a way, the 3DP revolution is over. The revolutionaries won. Every firm in the industry that we have personal knowledge of, from the great (exchange-listed Ruger) to the small (single-digit prototype shops) is using 3D printing in prototype development or even in manufacturing. For example, Ruger’s investment-casting shop, which also casts for competitors and other third parties, Pine Tree Castings, is directly printing lost-wax patterns on two industrial printers; time, energy, and recycling effort are all signally reduced.

The firms that are not using this technology are very small, practically one-man shops, and even they are often using 3D computer design tools and CNC. For the same reason that even the starving writer in his garret is hammering on computer keys and not his granddad’s Underwood: new tools have produced an explosion in individual productivity.

Productivity and Computer Technology

Computers directly enable productivity. For example, imagine this blog in the pre-computer (or even, pre-Internet) era. The “posts” or items would be typed on paper, then reproduced into a newsletter, and mailed to subscribers. It would lose immediacy and volume for sure; it would take us much more work to produce much less.

Computers also indirectly enable productivity by increasing information flow, both in terms of volume and rate. (An ironic by-product of that is that a whole new application for computers became necessary: tools to search, sort and amplify what is to any particular user his desired signal amidst all the noise (some of which is pure noise, but most of which is someone else’s desired signal). Economists have had great success in recent decades by describing economic activity in terms of flows, not of 18th-Century concepts like capital and labor, but of information. Freeing the flow of information from unnatural restrictions generally benefits the society and the individual. It usually scares the pants of some people, especially the ones who used to be able to control the flows.

Computers moved much more slowly into actual production of tangible products, but they’re there now, and making a similarly revolutionary change on the factory floor that Steve Jobs promised to “knowledge workers” in 1983-5 when he introduced the Apple Lisa and, later, the Macintosh Office. Some of those ideas misfired in their first implementation (early Lisas and Macs are collectors’ items today), but the marketplace iterated rapidly and effectively and still does.

Today’s computer manufacturing technology is still relatively primitive, when compared to its potential; we’re about where Steve’s “Macintosh Office” was 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC & Around the World

Just as manufacturing of products becomes disintermediated and dissociated from large integrating manufacturing/marketing/distribution organizations, we have our version of a Luddite spectacle. A bunch of politicians, most of them captive of the economic and political concepts of prior centuries, are making a childish display of themselves, and demanding restrictions on production and ownership of a product, firearms. But they are asking the impossible: guns can be produced under the most precarious of conditions by the most primitive of shops. They do this because they want to redirect anger and retribution away from the actual generator of the recent outrage, Wahhabi/Salafi Islam, and towards targets whose destruction they would find more personally gratifying.

The guy who last changed your brake pads and wiper blades probably has everything in his shop necessary to produce automatic weapons. In fact, another terrorist outrage you may not have heard about recently occurred in Israel where two assclowns inspired by Islam attacked a restaurant with submachine guns.

Back in February, more homebrew SMGs were used in attacks on Israeli cops.

Damascus Gate SMG 1

The SMGs, made under embargo conditions in clandestine workshops in the lawless Palestinian territories, were improvised weapons. (One of which did fail during the attack. Testing is an aspect of manufacturing that technology can’t replace).

You certainly heard about the murder of left-leaning British politician Jo Cox, in the land of no handguns, Great Britain. Cox was killed with a crude improvised pistol based on an ancient US Army improvised guns manual.

Non-factory guns can be very sophisticated

Don’t take our word for it, just peruse the Impro Guns blog. Here’s a Thai pepperbox in .22LR.

revolvingweaponthailand

This next picture is not a TEC-9. Take a good look! It’s a clandestine-shop knock-off open-bolt SMG, seized by cops in Canada last year. Restrict all guns and “prohibit” the scary ones, as Canadian laws do, and this is what anyone who wants a gun might as well build. He’s as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, eh?

Canada-firearmsoffences-submachinegun

Here’s a shot of Browning-style pistols produced in a one-house clandestine factory in Talcher, Odisha, India that was seized by police in the summer of 2015.

Indian Impro 2015

And here’s video of a (US, legal) home-built .25 pistol.

Here’s the build of the same (18 minutes). Tools used include a drill press, welding equipment and circular and saber saws. He does use some well-chosen cutting tools, like end mills and reamers, and uses a rifling machine of his own manufacture. ses At one point he improvises an end mill from a drill bit (per the plans he is using). He uses the name “Clinton Westwood” which we’re sure is what his mother named him; his YouTube Channel, Clinton’s Cheap Workshop, is full of must-watch TV.

Clinton’s new adventure is making a larger, 1911-styled .380 blowback pistol. He just started in April and has made good progress, so go to the YouTube channel, click Videos, and enjoy.

You might want to archive the videos, in case YouTube (which is owned by Google, which is either owned by or owns the Clinton — Hillary, not Westwood — campaign) disappears them and unpersons Westwood in the future.

The 3D Printing Revolution is Over, Part II

In another way, the 3DP revolution is over. Many of the revolutionaries of the first wave have gone much more quiet, perhaps because they’re involved in other things, or perhaps for some other reason. Maybe they’re under pressure from a lawless DOJ determined to find terrorists everywhere except among Islamic terrorists!

Cody Wilson? Tied up in a lawsuit, his new book, and the GhostGunner project. Now, the project isn’t idle. Here’s a new video posted this week on the GG2:

And the company released a new manual for the GG1 and GG2, and new software, on 1 June, including the first MacOS version of DDCut.

James R. Patrick? Website gone, although his .STLs have made it into the distribution. Have Blue? Hasn’t tweeted since December. Is he a Norwegian Have Blue, pining for the fjords? ArmaDelite? Not since April 7. Ma Deuce? Showing a heartbeat, at least. He posted a YouTube video in his channel about two months ago, for the first time in a year.

But RollaTroll is still with us (even if his last tweet was a Weaponsman link a couple weeks ago).

And the thing is, it doesn’t matter if some of the original founders of the 3D printed arms movement 3+ years ago have gone silent, gone Hollywood, gone to ground, or gone underground: a new generation is supplementing, and where necessary, replacing them. And the new generation is larger, and the generation they energize will be exponentially larger still.

The genie’s out, and anybody waving a bottle and muttering get-back-in incantations at this point just looks ridiculous.

New Silencer Venture Makes Progress

Business end of typical Maxim silencer. (file photo). Can Brittingham's team top what they did at SIG (which topped what they did at AAC)?

Business end of typical Maxim silencer. (file photo). Silencers have come a long way in over a century. Can Brittingham’s team top what they did at SIG (which topped what they did at AAC)?

Kevin Brittingham, founder of AAC and former employee of Cerberus/Remington Outdoor and founding executive of SIG’s silencer division, has formed a new company with a handful of trusted employees. Q, LLC, will be exclusively a design and prototyping shop. Any manufacturing will be done by partners. It’s right up the road in Big City. (Yes, the one that has entertained us from time to time with its Mayberry-like police blotter).

This court ruling tells a condensed story of how he came to leave AAC, which he sold to Cerberus/Remington. (He sued when they tried to cheat him out of payment. He won).

Brittingham_Remington_Judgment.pdf

During his year with SIG, he was responsible for some excellent suppressor designs.

Q, LLC is not quite up and running yet, because they need some local permits, but the venture was front page news, above the fold, in the local fishwrap today.

Jessica Gauvin, vice president of business development of Q, LLC, the company wishing to operate the business at 933 Route 1 Bypass, is asking the board for a variance to operate the light industrial business in a B-business zone, according to documents filed in City Hall. The company will be focused on “research and development” to design and engineer firearms, Gauvin said.

The use variance the company is requesting is needed for the company to get its federal firearm license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Gauvin said.

The ATF has already sent an agent to the Q’s proposed facility on the bypass and Q was “found to be in compliance with what we propose to do,” she said.

She contended in the paperwork that the variance will not be contrary to the public’s interest because it will be “conducted in accordance with all federal and state laws.”

We made an effort to visit the building today to see if anyone was in, but we went about it the wrong way — by bicycle — and the new venture is on (or perhaps, past) a section of Route 1 Bypass that is closed to human-powered vehicles.  We have some information to share with them before tomorrow night’s hearing on their request.

Maybe after tomorrow’s AM pain session in the new strength-oriented gym. Old man needs that.

CZ Scorpion Evo S3 Carbines Ship

The pistols came through first, long enough ago that some people have them SBR’d already, but the promised 16″ non-NFA carbine is arriving in shops in two models, one a conventional carbine and one a mock-MP5SD competitor with a fake silencer. Both versions have been posted to Reddit (conventional carbine / fake-can carbine) and IMGUR (same / same) already . (the “SD” a month ago).

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 05The owner of the conventional carbine wrote:

I had almost forgotten that I ordered it a couple months back. I’m still waiting on my urban grey P-09 as it’s back ordered, but this should keep me entertained. I haven’t seen one posted on here, so I hope you all enjoy the unboxing photos.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 01

This is CZ’s new Scorpion Evo 3 S1 carbine. I got the model that has a muzzle brake, which may or may not come off when my Optimus gets out of ATF jail. The pleasant surprise I got when I opened the box was finding 2 magazines inside. I assumed it only came with one. It shipped with 20 round magazines, which was the highest capacity I saw available with the rifle. I also ordered several 30 round magazines for maximum PewPew.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 04

Can’t wait to get this to the range and do a range report. Any questions just fire away!

The owner of the “SD” version posted a capsule review — 200 rounds’ worth —  of his $991 purchase, which we’ll excerpt:

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 07

Balance and Feel:
Decent, it’s not heavy at around 6lbs. It doesn’t really even feel like 6lbs. I thought that faux suppressor up front would add weight and make it front heavy, it doesn’t seem to.
The new handguard feels [bleep]ing guuuuureat. Love it. great change. The safety still eats dicks, and eats in to your trigger finger. The pistol grip is ok. I’ll probably replace it at some point.
The stock is wonderful. Simple, easy, feels great. Can’t compliment it enough. If you have a Scorpion pistol and haven’t SBR’d it to get this stock holy [bleep] are you missing out.
The folding mechanism is ok. It doesn’t really stick, but eh.
Trigger:
Same as the pistol I believe. No change, not awful, not great. Kind of battle-rifley.
Recoil:
What recoil? It’s 9mm to begin with and it’s 6lbs of 9mm. This is fun as hell and makes follow up shots a joke. I’m honestly not sure how much the faux suppressor is doing, if it’s compensating at all or what.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 08

His only complaint was that the stock mags are 20-rounders, and one has to pay extra for 30-round magazines.

Yes, the Czech Pistols book does mention the Scorpion and Bren pistols! And it explains why CZ chose to lead the market with pistols before carbines or factory NFA SBRs.