Yearly Archives: 2012

Effects of a Short Barrel

We’ve already met the Swedish firm CBJ Tech, with their interesting 6.5 x 25mm saboted cartridge, whose subcaliber (4mm) penetrator gives the pistol-sized round exterior ballistic performnce closely mirroring the standard American 14.5″ Colt carbine.

Noe here’s a report from the company that criticises the performance of the 5.56mm round from short barrels. Let’s cut to the conclusion of that report:

This report has shown the problems with terminal effectiveness associated with short-barreled 5.56×45 NATO assault rifles. The bullet travels too far before yawing, producing only minimal tissue disruption with a resulting low chance of rapid incapacitation of the target. Considering the generally short combat ranges when this weapon type is used, this is a serious deficiency. An important note is that the bullet in question is in no way “weak”; it certainly has the energy to produce a massive wound, which it very well may if it is caused to tumble earlier. This can be the case when the bullet passes intermediate obstacles, gear, bone etc. Still, the tendency of the 5.56×45 NATO cartridge to fail in terminal effect at lower velocities is important, when considering replacing standard length assault rifles with more compact weapons.

Now, before we flip our lid over this, let’s take a look at the limitations of CNJ’s study. There are some glaring anomalies in their experimental design and methodology.

  • They appear to compare only one shot from each barrel length. That’s statistically insupportable, if you want to draw any kind of practical inferences. The Law of Large Numbers doesn’t take effect from “2.”
  • They only use two barrel lengths.
  • The delta between the two barrel lengths (over 9 inches) is greater than the usual delta between a rifle and a shorter carbine or CQB variant. For example, the M16A2’s shorter substitute is the M4 or M4A1 with a 14.5″ barrel– difference of 5.5″. To get a difference of 9 inches you have to go all the way from the full-length M16A2 platform down to the SOF-unique 10.5″ CQB upper.
  • They use dissimilar weapons with dissimilar chambers and rifling. In fact, one of the weapons they use is an H&K, and that company made a lot of noise during the period that weapon was made about the ballistic superiority of their polygonal rifling. That claim remains extremely controversial thirty years later.
  • The weapons that they use are of unknown
  • They use a round that’s designed for long-range penetration (the Swedish SK5 is fundamentally a clone of the Nato M855 round, which was designed with no terminal-ballistic goal except to penetrate a Russian helmet at 800m).
  • They use ballistic gelatin, which is a very imperfect model of mammalian tissue.
  • They rely on bullet fragmentation at higher velocity, which practical experience teaches us is a sometime thing.
  • They have a strong interest in the outcome of the test, and are hardly a disinterested product lab. This raises the suspicion that the two shots that they did compare were not the only two shots, and were not two randomly selected shots, but were the two shots that produced the greatest disparity between the terminal effect of the short-barreled HK and the long-barreled FNC.

CBJ Tech got this fragmentation on their long-barrel, high-velocity shot.

The CBJ Tech guys are arguing that the muzzle velocity (and hence energy, V=1/2MV2 ) diminishes so rapidly as to render the round nonlethal at close range (these tests were taken at 8 meters) in a short-barreled carbine. The velocities they record — they don’t say at what distance, so we’ll assume muzzle, the standard measurement point — are 926 m/s for the long barrel and 708 m/s for the shorty. That comes out to about 3028 fps for the long barrel (449mm, about 17 2/3″) and 2323 fps for the short barrel (210mm, about 8 1/4″).  The difference is 715 fps over 9.4 inches or about 76 fps per inch less.

That seems to be an outlier for velocity loss from shortened barrels.

Here is a page by Chuck Hawks on rifle barrels, which reproduces several rules of thumb and specific claims about velocity, from fairly authoritative sources.  The high-end claim comes from the 2001 Shooter’s Bible and still falls short of the CBJ observed result: 50 fps/inch. O’Connor in The Rifle Book claimed 25 fps. But CBJ’s result for this number is higher than the Bible and Book results — combined. The Lyman Reloading Manual and Remington Catalog both suggest that velocity loss in a shorter barrel is dependent, in part, on the velocity range of the cartridge, and they give the exact same numbers — a round in the 3,000 fps neighborhood should lose 20-30 fps for every inch the barrel’s shortened. That’s functionally the same claim as O’Connor’s (is your chronograph really accurate to 5 fps?).

At this point, we remind you that it is in CBJ’s interest to show a very high reduction in velocity and lethality in short-barreled carbines, because their saboted round takes a short barrel with much less velocity loss.

Now, the real gold standard on velocity loss data would be if someone made a long-barreled rifle and then measured the results as he lopped the inches off. Has anybody ever done that?

  • Well, yeah.  Clint Smith at Guns Magazine tried it with a .300 Win Mag, a 2,700 fps neighborhood cartridge. They fired for accuracy and chronograph, trimmed two inches and recrowned and reshot, and repeated to minimum legal length (16″from a start of 24″). They lost 350 fps over those 8 inches (~44 fps/inch, close to the Shooter’s Bible number but only about 60% of CBJ’s).
  • David LaPell notes that Phil Sharpe tried it with a .30-06 and recorded only a 12 fps/inch loss. Sharpe started with a long barrel on a Springfield action and ended with a 12″ one, which must have been pretty odd-looking. Still, anything for science.
  • An Army shooter’s granddaughter (!) did an experiment with a .308, starting with 26″ and ending with 16″ — losing 274 fps total.
  • A very well documented undergraduate paper by Brandon Louis Clark of the University of South Florida collected data whilst a 7.62 x 54mm Mosin-Nagant rifle was shortened from its factory barrel length of 28.75″ to 16.75″. This 12-inch reduction, taken in increments of 2″, confirmed Sharpe’s 1950 conclusion that velocity was reduced linearly as a barrel was shortened from anything less than or equal to optimal length. The reduction was from 2827 fps to 2521 fps (306 fps, or about 25.7 fps/inch).
  • Finally, we’ve discussed Phil Dater’s experiments before. Here’s an article in Small Arms Defense Journal about his experiments with a progressively shortened 5.56mm AR-15, which he took from 24″ down to 5″. (Interesting: he says that 10.5 or even 9 inches may be reasonable in a CQB gun, but 7 or 8 is too short., based on his determination that 2,500 fps is the threshold for sufficient terminal ballistic effect. The CBJ Tech “bad example”gun was about 8 1/4”). And here’s a presentation he gave at NDIA in 2010. One slide:

There are some interesting points on that chart. First, this is the least linear of any of the sources on length and velocity, and yet it’s still pretty linear. Next,  note that the 5.56 had its peak muzzle velocity at the 20″ point. (Not too surprising — that’s the barrel length the M855 round was designed for). Finally, the red line shows the 2500-fps point that Dater considers the threshold for terminal-ballistic effect. The 8″ HK used by CBJ tech would fall to the left of the velocity line’s threshold crossing, while the 10.5″ CQB uppers now issued to SF are on the right side of it.

We’re not doubting that the CBJ Tech experimenters actually got their data, just pointing out that entirely apart from the methodological and experimental design problems, their velocity reduction numbers are out of line with the body of science that’s already out there. So why are the CBJ Tech data anomalous?

And what makes them think their saboted 4mm penetrator will not likewise be ineffective at CQB ranges (in this case by overspeed)? Of course, they know it will, which is why they also offer full-bore (nonsaboted) CQB loads for their 6.25 x 25mm round.

This is just wrong

Meet Orville Wright. He’s the cat. He’s putting up with the indignity in this picture because, well, as Eric Bogle sang, “He’s nobody’s moggy now.

Orville argued with a truck (an event which Mr Bogle presciently considered and handicapped in his song: “the truck is bound to win“), and his owner, Dutch artist Bart Jansen, had him turned from a defunct quadruped into a operational, if ghoulish, quadricopter — the world’s first cat drone. More pictures, and a video proving that the Orvillecopter is more of a success as an art… thing… than as an aircraft, at the link.

Mr Janson even describes this undignified stuffing with batteries, engines, radio and servos as being an honor for the late departed: “After a period of mourning he received his propellers posthumously.”

Mr Janson and his collaborator, radio-control pilot Arjen Beitman, have succumbed the the higher… faster… further… ethos of the flight-test engineer, and promise that Orville will get the propulsive and aerodynamic tweaks he needs to soar like a tweety bird.

When we watched our first Predator feed, ten years ago, identifying locations and crew-served weapons we’d have to deal with soon, it was almost magical. We could type, “hey, zoom in on that,” and the drone operators many thousands of miles away would roger our instant message and zero in on the target we specified. At the time, we knew that from an initial four drones on hand, the services planned an exploding number of unmanned aircraft.

“Where,” we wondered, “will it all end?”

Back then, we didn’t know. Looking at the bizarre creation that is Orville’s tenth life, we’re half afraid we now have the answer — and half afraid that this is just a milestone on a journey deeper into the uncanny valley.

From the Cold War Bunker – East German Recruiting Ad

“One of the great things about Communism,” old Professor Hampsch, who was a devotee of what Koestler had already called The God that Failed, “is this: no advertising!” A lecture hall full of freshmen dutifully bobbed their heads, whilst one — your future WeaponsMan — thought to himself: “Wait. What?”

(Gee, does this mean that the ad-free-so-far is a bastion of the Evil Empire? Perish the thought!)

That sort of clandestine double-take was a frequent occurrence in Hampsch’s class. He was prone to woolly-headed pronouncements about, for example, the beauty and superiority of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which grants many more “positive rights” than its US counterpart. The fact that the Stalin Constitution was no impediment to the barbarous Purges and the nightmare system of the Main Administration for Detention Camps, or GULag in its Russian acronym, washed off his thick coat of ideological Rain-X. The purges were capitalist propaganda, all false; Solzhenitsyn was a fabricator and wrecker, and the USSR never put anyone in camps, which in Solzhenitsyn’s case was a pity, because if there had been camps they would have been appropriate for someone like Solzhenitsyn, undermining the Great Experiment and the new religion with his stubborn, persistent belief in an old one. And so on, and so forth.

But to hear him tee off on advertising was quite remarkable. While it was fashionable to bash advertising in those days of Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders, a little thought produces an understanding of where advertising fits in an economy (even, as we are about to see, a Communist one). It removes friction from the market — and even Commies have a market, they’re just in denial about it — and lets sellers find buyers and vice-versa. False advertising, ultimately, fails. No company ever grew large by lying about their product. (What about Amway? –Ed. Eh. –WM). And, as Jerry Della Femina famously observed, nothing kills a bad product graveyard dead faster than good advertising. And as it turns out, even the most doctrinaire Stalinists turned to advertising to try to find the takers for unpopular goods and services — in this case, service in the East German National People’s Army, NVA in its German acronym.

The full-page ad (which you can see full size by clicking) appeared on Page 51 of an unknown issue the East German magazine, Armeerundschau, or AR for short. This single page, along with some other copies of AR, and several other Cold War primary source documents, turned up in the WeaponsMan Cold War Storage Bunker as some items in the cache were recovered. Some oddities in this particular box included a never-used .45 holster that we couldn’t find and paid a statement of charges for when PCSing from 10th Special Forces Group (now it turns up; we never used these things because we bought our own better holsters), an equally unused Air Force Survival Knife, and — we are not making this up — a pair of still-supple, Italian leather Beatle boots. It was an old box.

AR was aimed mostly at conscripts, and was full of the same kind of happy hogwash that fills most command-sponsored army magazines worldwide. Sports, technical material, and — because it was the Warsaw Pact — political indoctrination all had a place here. There were no commercial advertisements, but the military forces advertised professional positions, and some large “national enterprises” advertised for manpower, attempting to grab the year’s exiting draftee cohort.

This specific ad is for career NCO positions — a particularly lousy job in any Warsaw Pact military, where NCOs had little authority, and officer micromanagement was universal. (Seriously. Complaining American and British NCOs today have no idea). The ad contains several Communist and East German affectations, including the National People’s Army seal with a hammer, and not a sickle but a draughtsman’s divider, enclosed in a wreath and bearing the slogan For the defense of the Workers’ and Peasants’ State. The picture shows a dopey looking Unteroffizier standing next to an SA-6 Gainful Transporter-Erector-Launcher. The text reads:

Lead soldiers — master technology!

Whether they lead a launch-unit crew, take care of ammunition, refuel aircraft or maintain ships’ armament, the professional NCOs of the NVA always have soldiers to lead and technology to master.

Professional NCO of the NVA

That means, to work on modern technology; that means, to educate soldiers politically, train them militarily, and to become a dedicated combat collective with them.

Professional NCO of the NVA

is what you become through a basic theoretical and practical course of training that concludes with the Master Qualification.

Professional NCO of the NVA

That is a military master profession, a profession for young men, who want to do something for the reliable military defense of Socialism. A profession for you!

Sign up for the NCO’s Profession!

Your action has impact, you are a Master in uniform. You, a professional NCO of the NVA.

Inform yourself at the Military District HQ, by officials for career development at your school, or in the labor advice center.

Those are the literal words (mind you, that’s an off-the-cuff, non-certified translation, without reference to lexical aids). What doesn’t  quite come through is the degree of Ossi (East German) communist cant in there: the bogus familiarity of the “du” form, a characteristic of East German equality propaganda, and the reference to various East German organizations that are now, deservedly, in the dustbin of history.

The career on offer, moreover, was not a good one. Army NCOs rated little respect in the police state, and Soviet models assumed that NCOs were stupid supernumeraries used principally to amplify and distribute the commands of officers, like a network of Tannoy loudspeakers.

The US intelligence community, particularly the CIA, mistakenly believed that the East German NVA was supremely loyal and dedicated to the cause of communism, and that its professionalism was on a level with the West German Bundeswehr. One word: ha. East German officers, NCOs and technicians taken on board the West German army turned out to be miserably ill-trained. Pilots, for instance, could fly their planes competently but expected and needed constant instruction and guidance from ground-control radars. In the ground maneuver arms, the classically German “mission order” which left to a thinking subordinate how best to achieve the commander’s intent was fully extinct in the NVA.

The popularity of communism became immediately apparent when the Russians picked up their boots from East German necks; the Ossis not only opted for reunification, their own regions (and later states, after the historical states were reestablished) quickly swept in majorities from the most conservative of German mainstream parties, the dedicated Cold Warriors. The Communists (technically the Socialist Unity Party of Germany) are so unloved that they’ve reorganized and renamed themselves twice (the current tag is Die Linke, “The Left”, but they’re the same old Stasi creeps and Russian lapdogs) and still struggle for relevance and even headlines (which they usually get by walking out of parliament in a snit when others praise reunification).

In retrospect, it’s clear that the East German, like the other satellite/slave armies, would have fought at small unit level for the mens’ immediate comrades, and might have advanced into a collapsing NATO unit, but wouldn’t have advanced against a hard target without the Russians and Stasi echelons behind pressing forward. As far as the technology these NCOs supposedly would master goes, the Bundeswehr originally planned to incorporate some of it, but on examination, it was mostly junk. They operated a few airplanes for a few years, but the bulk of the offensive power of the former NVA went to scrap — which, again in retrospect, it would have done in days of a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact anyway.

One of the great things about Communism, the WeaponsMan observes, is that it is moribund. Just in case, we have a variety of weapons on hand, including a wooden stake and silver bullets soaked in garlic.

Today is Sunday

This day, Christians worldwide devote to worship (some more devotedly than others). What faith you have (or have not), and how you worship, is your affair; but we suggest that it is possible to overdo it. Meanwhile, later today we’ll post a backdated roundup of last week, and tomorrow posting resumes at the usual pace.

Here we give thanks not only to God. but to all of you sinners who read us faithfully as we explore some of the more interesting ways we mortals have evolved to smite one another over the centuries.

Saturday Matinee: The Sand Sea (1958)

Before he was the go-to guy to play the old admiral, Richard Attenborough played a joking, boozing, unserious trooper in the Long Range Desert Group, a British unit which played hell behind German lines in the Western Desert in WWII.

Apart from Attenborough’s Sergeant Brody, the main characters in the film are two officers. Tim Cotton is a war-service officer who has grown close to his men in LRDG service and, it seems, never had much patience with peacetime army games to begin with. He is, in fact, the archetype of a special operations officer. He was an architect in civvy street and wryly observes that he has progressed from building things to “knocking them down.” He gotten the British equivalent of a Dear John and his bitterness is never far from the surface. Bill Williams is a career officer, who enjoys soldiering and has known no other life. His home life is solid, with a wife and four kids expecting his return. He is proud of what he has learned in staff college, and takes a dim view of the scruffy LRDG men, and even more so, their officers. If Tim is the special operator, Western Desert-style, Bill is the archetypal conventional officer.

The performances, from actors who, apart from Attenborough, are little remembered today, are excellent. Some of the character-establishment scenes and dialogue were clearly targeted on a British intended audience. You don’t need to know why some think soldiers from the Brigade of Guards are out of place in the LRDG, or about the accents and steretypes of the regions of Briain, to enjoy the movie, but if you are attuned to those details you will enjoy it more.

The movie’s fictional events take place against a backdrop of real history. The Germans are at their historic high point outside Cairo, but at long last, the British forces have enough supplies stockpiled to go over to the offensive. All LRDG patrols will be sent out in a max effort to conduct deep mounted Strategic Reconnaissance and Direct Action missions in support of the exercise. The SR elements will be conducting road watches,but the DA elements are tasked to take out three vital supply dumps. Losing the fuel and ammo in these dumps could force the Germans out of their forward positions and into full retreat.  Tim Cotton’s patrol is assigned to hit one of the supply dumps. Bill Williams and a technician, Corporal Mathesen are engineers attached to deal with the minefields at the target site.

The plan is good and the LRDGs show off their skills at getting their vehicles unstuck,evading and confusing their German opponents, and long-distance navigation by dead reckoning and star sights. But the problem with the plan is that the enemy has his own plan. To get from their base to Jerry’s, the patrol has to run the gauntlet of armored car patrols, halftrack patrols, and worst of all aerial patrols. They can sometimes pass as German — so many vehicles have changed hands as the war’s rolled from Egypt to Tunisia and back that nobody shoots at truck shapes — but they can’t always count on the success of that ruse. The desert itself is an enemy, and the mechanical state of trucks, tires and accessories are all factors in mission success. A modern mobility troop or mobility team would certainly sympathize.

By the time they hit the target, they’re a smaller patrol than they started with. And there, they discover something that makes it imperative that they report back. And makes it imperative for the Germans to prevent that. From that point on it’s a high-stakes, sanguinary race, in which the desert is not a neutral but to both sides an enemy.

One of the best aspects of this film is seeing the mutual dislike of staff officer and field operator slowly yield to mutual respect as each brings the strength of his own knowledge, skills and character to bear. This was uncanny in the degree to which it is true to life in special operations, and illustrates one mechanism by which a team is greater than the sum of its individuals. Another high point is the growth of several characters as the movie wears on, notably Attenborough’s Sergeant Boyle.

The weapons, vehicles and equipment are a mixed bag. The British troops are armed with Enfield rifles, Sten MkIII submachine guns, Bren guns, and Vickers water-cooled machine guns, all but the last of which were used by the LRDG. They are mounted in 30-cwt (“hundredweight”, in other words, 3/4 ton) Chevy or GMC trucks, which again were the LRDG’s main mounts. Even the gas cans are modeled correctly: the early, flimsy soldered tin cans, which would be replaced later in the war by a copy of the Germans’ superior 20-liter can (which would give the English language the term, “jerry can” from one of many slang terms for Germans).

The Germans, on the other hand, use American halftracks, American trucks, and a single mock-up of a German armored car, from which they fire British machine guns. One gets the impression that the filmmakers used what they could get, and in 1958 no one paid much attention to halftrack styles. The film was shot at least in part in Libya, and the credits note the cooperation of the “British forces in Tripolitania.”

An excellent film, available stand-alone in DVD or in a single-package four-disc set of three other Rank Organisation classics of the British war experience, including The Waves Above Us, a streamlined version of the true X-Craft Raid on the German Navy battleship Tirpitz. That movie deserves its own review. Our set came from for about $25.

Wrist slap for conman who cleaned out Legion post

It wasn’t enough that the judge gave the guy a slap on the wrist, or that the state’s Attorney General, who prosecuted the case, let him do that without criticism. The AG had to grandstand about it: “This sentence reflects the seriousness and impact of this crime.”

We’ve covered con man and thief Ryan Byther before. We got interested in him again when his ex-wife’s sister posted, in comments to an unrelated post (the one about Byther was closed), that this utter waste of skin had done a number on his then-wife, too, and followed it up by turning their kids against their mother.

Well, we do always say that “it’s never just one con with these guys.”  Here’s the Portland Press-Herald’s story:

ALFRED — A Scarborough man was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail and ordered to pay back $50,000 he stole from the American Legion in York, money he used to fund two failed Old Port bars.

Ryan J. Byther, 36, convinced the American Legion Post 56 leadership in 2008 that he was an experienced fundraiser and could lead their $2 million fund-raising campaign, according to a statement from Attorney General William Schneider.

He blew the money on a beer joint and a sleazy hook-up dive. He never invested it, and he never tried to raise any money.

A York County Superior Court justice sentenced Byther to five years in prison, with all but six months suspended and three years probation.

via Scarborough man gets jail for stealing from Legion post | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.


Here’s a different caliber concept

6.25 x 25 CBJ (l.), 9 x 19 (r.)

In line with this week’s Scandinavian take on a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, we go to that site to take you to the tall pines and quiet Bothnian fjords of Sweden, where a company called CBJ Tech has developed an unusual 6.5 x 25mm concept.

It’s fiendishly clever. They neck down to 6.5mm a case that has the same diameter and initial taper as the familiar 9 x 19 mm Parabellum, which lets what appears to be an unusual, truncated-biconic projectile seat normally in the neck for an overall length the same as the 9mm. That means that any 9mm weapon can convert to this new round as simply as replacing the barrel — bolt faces and ejectors are exactly the same, and while a revised magazine is a plus, it doesn’t appear to be mandatory.

To go with the new round, CBJ has an interesting weapon. At first glance it is a submachine gun with a great deal of Uzi DNA in it. So you can be excused for thinking that what they’re doing is some kind of a PDW, and not expecting it to go much of anywhere — after all, the Uzi is a 1940s idea that reached service in the 50s. It belongs to history, and no one would adopt it now.

Until you see the ballistic claims CBJ is making for this round. How did they do this?


If you look, you;ll see that their tiny round from a short (200mm, about eight inches) barrel (the black line) is showing up as a ballistic near-equivalent of the 5.56mm round from the 14.5″ M4 (the adjacent green line) — close anough that you could use an ACOG’s bullet-drop compensating reticle to get you on target at combat ranges. Yet their round has a fraction of the powder volume of the NATO round, so how did they pull it off?

When you learn, the answer is obvious — they’re using a discarding-sabot round. Most associated with tank guns, DS rounds allow an extremely high velocity and a round with a great deal of length (which helps its ballistic coefficient), letting a small round punch above its weight. For example, the projectiles fired from modern smoothbore tank guns are fin-stabilized tungsten or heavy-metal penetrators of about 30mm. A discarding sabot in a 120 or 125mm gun lets all that area provide a motive impulse, and a kinetic energy round that would bounce off if it had to be propelled by a small-caliber auto cannon’s case can tear through a tank like  knife through butter.

The CBJ MS weapon andits accessories. Helical drum on right.

So a DS round for small arms remains an intriguing project. It could, if fin-stabilized, allow high accuracy without costly rifled barrels. It can reduce bore erosion, a murderer of accuracy. It allows higher velocities, which can mean more penetration, or longer ranges, or less wind deflection, or a combination of all the above. It has been attempted before; US designers have been futzing with saboted small arms ammo back to Project SALVO days, 50 years ago.

It also has real problems. Any money you save on making smoothbore barrels is lost time and time again on the higher costs of precision ammo manufacturing. There are few civilian applications to give you economy of scale. And a round that can go incredible ranges has the potential to make nondisabling “icepick” wounds in closer-in enemies. All of these problems are well known to the Swedes working on the 6.5 x 25, and they seem to have solutions for some of them. It is an interesting concept that bears considerable watching. The long-term secular trends in firearms (or projectile weapons in general, if you really want to generalize) are these:

  • Higher velocity
  • Smaller caliber
  • Greater practical rate of fure
  • Higher unit cost for arms and ammo.

These trends have been fairly consistent over hundreds of years. And the Swedish approach certainly continues all of these.

One more interesting concept that they’re promoting is a very compact drum or helical magazine. We think, despite the weapon’s Uzi style, it already uses the excellent mag of the M45B “Swedish K”.

Does this bullet hole make my butt look big? [Updated]

No idea if that’s what Mrs Lakita Owens asked Mr William Owens as he loaded her up and took her to the hospital for the very embarrassing wound she received at a family cookout.

Mr Owens, an 11-year veteran cop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (a small city that’s the state’s political capital), was showing his service pistol to friends when, according to the DA, “the gun discharged and struck the officer’s wife.”

We never knew guns had such single-mindedness.

The good news: Mrs Owens is alive, being treated at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and is expected to recover fully.

The bad news: Mr Owens’s career may have just taken a negligent discharge right up the wazoo. He’s currently suspended without pay — never a good sign for a cop in the news. At the time of the shooting, he was on light duty for disability, as he has been for the last year and a half.

One of the things that weighs against Mr Owens is that the DA is still investigating “the role that alcohol played in the incident.” Another is that, while only one shot found the south end of a northbound Mrs Owens, as many as six more shots were touched off in the incident — they just didn’t hit anybody.

The press across the nation seems fascinated with this story.

Officer shoots wife in buttocks showing gun to pals | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Especially the Pennsylvania press. Can’t imagine why.

UPDATE 6/1: The Thin Blue Line only goes so far. They’ve thrown the book at Mr Owens, charging him with simple assault with a weapon, recklessly endangering another person, false report to law enforcement and discharging a weapon in the City of Harrisburg. And… this may not shock you… alcohol appears to have been involved.

BG Tolley says Axe quoted him accurately

There you go. David Axe, the blogger who got a lot of stick (including here) for his report that BG Neil Tolley said US and ROK SOF were conducting SR missions inside North Korea, must be feeling well — if belatedly — vindicated right now.

Speaking to CNN, BG Tolley said: “After further review of the reporting, I feel I was accurately quoted. In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. I realize I wasn’t clear in how I presented my remarks.” Mr Axe has updated a previous post to note that BG Tolley made a similar statement to NPR.

We apologize to Mr Axe for impugning his integrity. He and the speaker agree about what was said at the conference, so just because it wasn’t true is no reason to assume that the general had it right and the reporter had it wrong. In this case, as BG Tolley admits, he misspoke and left any listeners who took his words literally with a completely false impression.

In this case of Media vs. Military, it’s Media 1, Military 0.

For the record, US and ROK SR teams have not been going North. That would be an act of war, and the conditions under which it would happen are extremely narrowly defined (but a student of these things might presume that it would only occur when the balloon was already up, or at least fully inflated and straining at its guy wires). BG Tolley confirmed that, too, to Paula Hancocks of CNN. She didn’t quote him but did write: “He insisted, however, that the United States has at no time sent special operations forces into North Korea.

There are many ways to gather intelligence from a denied area. SR teams are a high-risk method to be used on hard cases while an actual shooting war is underway — think of the SOG teams that infiltrated Laos and Cambodia, or the SF teams that hunted Scuds and monitored choke points in the 1991 Desert War. You don’t put those teams in at D-180, let alone at D-[war’s-on-the-horizon]. If we’d been there, we’d have taken BG Tolley’s statements as hypotheticals, as, for example, Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Online site/newspaper did. But then, we have inside knowledge of SR doctrine and practices, dating back to the bad old SICTA days.

This raises some uncomfortable questions about the media vs. special operations. We can’t, at the same time, beat up reporters for publishing secrets and discourage people with inside knowledge for “leaking” to them on the one hand, whilst crucifying the reporters who don’t have that inside knowledge, on the other. (Well, we do, but we can’t do that honestly). Mr Axe has spent a few days upon the cross and it’s unlikely he’ll come down from that perch burning with desire to write glowing things about us. This is one mechanism which producers reporters who instinctively mistrust the military, but roll over for the spin of military opponents. It’s not just the J-schools with their Boomer professors, and the press industry and culture with its Boomer luminaries whose attitude towards the military was shaped by Vietnam-era moral and physical cowardice. It’s our own distaste for their profession, too.

Some AR-10 News & Views

Alas, no new photos yet, but we have seen the AR-10 that we mentioned before, and it’s really nice. Photos soon, and a range trip, insha’allah. For the time being, here’s one of the auction shots to hold you. (A single click is your embiggenator).

We’ve discovered just how rare these things are: less than 1,600 Portuguese AR-10s were made, all in 1960. Because of American gun laws and the ATF’s regulatory import ban, the ones that were imported were imported primarily as NFA Dealer Samples or — like this one — as parts kits, then mated up with new-manufacture receivers. It’s unlikely that there were more than a few hundred made in all, by at least three makers of lower receivers; and due to the ATF’s subsequent extension of the ban to barrels, it’s unlikely any more of the parts kits or firearms will be imported.

Here’s the original auction for this one, which will remain on the net for a short while.

Handling the weapon, there are a ton of differences between it at the modern AR-15-based AR-10s, some of which favor each weapon.

In the meatime, an even nicer one, in the Sudanese variant, came up on GunBroker — and sold for $5,250. Yowza. The Portuguese one we have to examine is not as minty, and has replacement wood furniture, but it changed hands for a little over half that.

It’s the first one that’s always cheap and easy, like your first hit from the neighborhood crack dealer. It’s when can’t stop yourself from upgrading the collection that it destroys your finances and your life and you wind up living in a Kelvinator box under a highway overpass — with no money, personal hygiene, or teeth,  but with one of each variant of the gun.

The AR-10, though, is an unusually seminal gun. It did not see a lot of combat use, but where it did — in Portugal’s colonial wars of the seventies, and in some Castro-sponsored insurgencies like the one in the Dominican Republic — it made its mark. That was not its real “mark,” though, however much Portuguese paratroopers and European mercenaries on both sides of Third World Wars of “Liberation” may have loved it. More important was its position as the combat proof of concept for a weapon made of aerospace alloy forgings and molded composites, as the stealthy point man for the mass invasion of AR-15s, M16s, and M4s and all their cousins that would follow.