Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sunday is a Rainy Day

Well, that’s the prediction, as we set this up. It’s been cool and rainy all week, and last night was wet. So we’re expecting rain.

May the sun shine on you and yours today — figuratively, if necessary.

NRA life membership deal

The NRA really wants to grow its membership — parrticularly its roster of life members.

To do that, it’s offering one heck of a deal — through other Life members. As far as I know this deal is only available to US residents, but it might be open worldwide, and it can’t hurt to ask. This may be running out this weekend, so act on it NOW, if you plan to act on it.

Normally a Life Membership is $1,000, which you can confirm at NRA’s signup page here.

They offer a discounted membership — the Distinguished Membership, not to Distinguished Marksmen, but to senior citizens (65+) and disabled veterans. Maybe they figure we don’t expect to live as long, heh. That’s only $375. Since a regular membership is $35/year, you’re ahead of the game at 11 years (crudely accounted… a little longer if we take the time value or money into account).

But they’ve sent current Life Members a mailing allowing them to sponsor new Life Members. The new guy pays… drum roll please… $300. To take advantage of the deal, contact a life member. Several online forums have life members reaching out to would-be members, like the one we used at ARFCOM. The sponsoring life member must provide you with his or her name, zip code, and NRA Member ID (member number). Most life members don’t even known they can do this. 

It works like this:

  1. Call the NRA membership line at 1-877-NRA-2000 – option 3.
  2. Have the following info ready:
    1. Sponsor’s name
    2. Sponsor’s Zip Code (you don’t need the full address, and not all operators ask for this)
    3. Sponsor’s NRA Member ID (a nine digit number). They’ll look this up.
  3. Give them your information and credit card number. Finished business!

Now, the NRA is not the be-all and end-all of gun rights. It’s run primarily for the benefit of the insiders (and their massively profitable PR firm). It’s still largely controlled by Elmer Fudds who have no qualms about dealing someone else’s gun rights away in hopes the tiger eats them last. Another downside of the NRA is that it will roughly double the amount of junk mail you get.

But in 80 to 90 percent of gun rights battles, the NRA is not only on the right side but does the vast majority the heavy lifting. (Here in NH, we’re cursed by a NRA rep who works against gun rights, but there are 40-odd other states where he has no influence).  Who else represents you? NFATCA is a Vichy organization, comfortable in the pocket of the ATF. SAF and JFPO are much purer on gun rights (they were for Heller while the NRA was trying to torpedo the case), but they’re relatively tiny — state and federal legislators don’t react the same way they do when they hear the NRA guy is on the line or in the office.

So on balance, we’ve decided to be on the inside whizzing out of the tent, instead of on the outside whizzing in. The NRA may not thank us for that, exactly, but that’s the kind of riffraff that come in when you lower barriers to entry. Especially to $300.

Special Forces as seen by…

.. one of the conventional Army’s funniest cartoonists.

As the runner strode up to him, the stealthy ninja felt like the King of the Universe. He was camoflauge incarnate. To borrow a phrase from my appalachian herititage, if Patrick had “been a snake, he could have bit ‘em.” He was close enough to feel the breeze that stirred up as the runner passed.

Then, without missing a beat, his fantasy world fell apart with one word, “Sup.” To this day he doesn’t know how he was spotted. The leading theory is that he was betrayed by magical SF spidey sense.

via Sup | Delta Bravo Sierra.

As SF guys, it’s always interesting to see how we’re seen by all of Big Green out there. This strip is very well tuned in to life in today’s line units, and the pop culture of the infantry these days in particular. We’re reminded of a conversation a contractor friend had with some line dogs:

“We want your job! How do we get it?”

“First, go to selection and the Q course…”

“No, selection’s a bastard. How do we get it without going to selection?”

Maximum Strength Hiccup Cure

Myers mugshot. Killeen PD via CNN.

PFC Patrick Myers had a brilliant idea of how to cure his Army buddy, PFC Isaac Young’s, bad case of the hiccups. Just scare the living daylights out of him with a gun!

You know where we’re going with this.

Sure enough, Myers ND’d the gun. A single shot entered Young’s face and exited the back of his cranium. Police responded first, then paramedics, who realized while transporting Young to a helicopter landing zone that they were too late. The helicopter ambulance was called off, and Young was pronounced dead inside the wheeled one.

Myers is in the Killeen, Texas, jail, charged with manslaughter in the death of his Fort Hood buddy, a truck driver at the sprawling base.

His hiccups — and all his other problems — are over.

CNN reports:

“The victim had the hiccups. The suspect pulled out a gun to scare him in order to stop the hiccups,” said spokesman Carroll Smith of the Killeen, Texas, Police Department.

Pfc. Patrick Edward Myers, 27, was charged on Tuesday with manslaughter, and Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin set his bond at $1 million, police said.

Killed was Pfc. Isaac Lawrence Young, 22, of Ash Grove, Missouri, a motor transport operator at the Army base, the military said. Young entered active duty in May 2011 and arrived at Fort Hood in October 2011, the Army said.

Myers is a soldier at the base, as was Young at the time of his death, said Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug.

Police responded to a shooting shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday and found a man shot in the face and two other men at the residence, Killeen police said.

via Soldier charged with manslaughter after trying to cure another of hiccups – CNN.com.

Geez. Whatever would make a guy’s friend do something this galactically stupid? Or asTexas law sees it, criminally stupid?

Both soldiers, joined by a third man, were drinking alcohol and watching football at the time of the Sunday night incident, authorities said.

Ah. Figures. The old judgment juice.

Not a lot to say. There are no new gun accidents, just new people having the same old accidents. Many lives will never be the same again, because of one boozy asshat clowning with a gun.

We truly regret to have to write these kinds of reports.
Hat tip: Jonn Lilyea.

Miracle on the… Yangtze?

It sure looks like the Hudson River ditching and subsequent rescue of all passengers and crew that captivated Americans a few years ago. But the belching smokestacks and polluted sky should be a giveaway — this is an emergency response exercise in Shanghai, China. The plane is a mock-up purpose-built for the exercise

Over 150 volunteers, first responders and “victim” role-players, took part. The exercise tested how Chinese air, sea, and first-response agencies worked together. While the Chinese usually play these things close to the vest, in the USA such exercises have exposed and led to the elimination of a lot of bureaucratic fault lines.

No idea what they’re going to do with the jet mockup now. Maybe Jackie Chan can work it into a movie!

What was “the greatest gun ever”? Ted Nugent says…

Love him or not, you can’t ignore Ted Nugent. (Well, you can, and we did, take time getting around to blog one of his columns… this one’s from early July. But you can’t ignore him). The articulate and brash defender of all things gun and hunting put an essay in Human Events this past summer on the subject of “The Greatest Gun Ever.”

While the Nuge begins with a little boasting about shooting with military snipers, and then steps back with an uncharacteristic touch of humility vis-a-vis them, he mentions a couple of te high points of his battery of arms, only to wax poetic about the gun that taught him, “hand/eye coordination, discipline, and patience which is the essence of shooting and overall quality of life itself.”

Precision marksmanship, or playing the guitar the way Chuck Berry would want me to, has never come easy to me.  Gung-ho practice, perseverance and persistence is the only way I know.

Fortunately, as it pertains to guns, my dad and uncle introduced me to guns the way it needs to be done:  smart, slow and safe.

While I now own more guns than the 82nd Airborne, my first gun is still the most important gun I’ve ever owned. Many of you probably owned one just like it as your first gun.

via The greatest gun ever.

Nugent doesn’t cop-out like so many “greatest gun” articles do. He picks one and sticks to it. It’s a logical, sensible and defensible pick in our view, and yes, we did have one and shot it till it fell apart.

Which should be a clue for you all. Because we’re not going to tell you what Ted’s choice was — go there and RTWT. (And that’s why this post has no picture of the gun. Spoiler, eh).

RIP Gene Thacker, Army vet and sport parachuting pioneer

Gene Thacker at Raeford DZ. Fayetteville Observer photo.

Gene P. Thacker, an Army retiree who built the Raeford, NC, drop zone into a skydiving mecca from the 1960s on, passed away last Monday. He was 81 years old. The Fayetteville, NC Observer has more:

Mr. Thacker, a skydiving legend who did almost 4,000 jumps, owned the Raeford Municipal Airport. The family’s airpark, the P.K. Airpark, has paved runways and hangars for skydivers.

Mr. Thacker served three tours of duty in Vietnam with the U.S. Army and spent several years as a member of the Army’s parachute team, The Golden Knights. He was the organization’s first Golden Knight of the Year and earned the title in 1967.

Tony Thacker said his father began skydiving in 1960 and was a decorated war veteran. His father was a Purple Heart recipient.

“He was a really, really stand-up fella,” [Retired SGM Dave] Clark said. “He retired from the Army and bought land at Raeford, which he developed into a world-class place for people to jump out of airplanes.”

via FayObserver.com – Raeford’s Gene Paul Thacker, an ex-Golden Knight, dead at 81.

When they established a Skydiving Hall of Fame, Thacker was one of the first admitted. His was a skydiving family; his oldest son lost his life in the sport, after which the surviving Thackers jumped to celebrate his life. A list of prominent jumpers who passed through Raeford would be a who’s who of skydiving.

Wartime service has a way of planting ideas in young men’s heads. Just as many of the nation’s ski resorts were founded by 10th Mountain Division veterans, the American sport of skydiving was founded by Army paratroopers and special operations veterans from the 1940s and 50s. What will the veterans of Afghanistan do for us? While we salute the service and achievements of Mr Thacker, we look forward with excitement to what today’s troopers envision, create and build.

Another Relatively Rare Carbine — FNC in Libya

Yesterday we had a rarity for you — one of the first few AR-15′s off Colt’s production line, probably in 1959. Today we have another piece of arms history, on the front lines of today’s insurgencies. An Associated Press stringer snapped the accompanying photo in Benghazi, Libya, of the bitterly comical sight of a Libyan militiaman of some kind “guarding” the burnt-out ruin of the US Consulate there. (Yeah, now. Great timing, he-ro).  We saw it in this LA Times story. He has a walkie-talkie and a rifle that’s not exactly a rarity (it was adopted by the forces of several military powers, including Sweden as the AK-5) but not exactly common either.

The FN FNC was the follow-up to the market-dud CAL and is the predecessor of the futuristic bullpup FN2000 and the FN-SCAR. (We hope to have more on the SCAR soon, as friends of ours have been wringing them out). It was FN’s first successful small-calibre assault rifle. This guy’s is the folding-stock, short-barrel Para version, which has a stock similar to the FAL’s. We blew up the picture to confirm the ID; the forearm is common to the FNC and CAL but the curved mag flags it as an FNC even in this imperfect print. (We bet the original photo would blow up a lot better, but we have to work with the imagery the net gives us).

The FNC has a machined alloy lower that owes a lot to AR-15 practice and accepts AR (STANAG) magazines. Because aftermarket mags have usually been developed with only the AR in mind, you’d have to check your high-speed low-drag polymer mags in the weapon to be sure they work. (That beats the CAL, however, which used a proprietary mag).

Two pins connect the upper to the lower. They’re captive punch pins in AR style, but AR uppers and lowers won’t interchange here. The trigger mechanism is designed like the AR’s, but the safe-to-semi throw is shorter, the semi-to-auto throw longer (in FAL style), and none of the parts interchange. (This poses a problem for US FNC owners, as parts are extremely rare and costly when found).

The upper contains the secret sauce of the FNC, and is where the weapon differs the most from AR practice. In fact, it uses

Here’s an overview of the gun’s design and history. Note that this Russian site kicks up a lot of popup spam, and, well, it is Russian.

Before we talk about the market, we can watch Ian from Forgotten Weapons take it down, whilst discoursing on it. He makes AK derivation of the bolt and carrier mechanism very clear in this video.

FNCs on the US Market

Relatively few FNCs were imported to the USA — one seller estimates 6,000, through several importers. Production for the US market began in 1979 and ended in 1987, before the Bush import ban or the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban — low sales, not politicians, scuppered this one. The semi-auto version sells for around $3k to a primarily collector market and a transferable auto for around $8-9k to a primarily shooter market, with adjustments up or down for condition and those things collectors or shooters respectively care about. The FNC’s utility is limited by US regulations. Unlike an AR, the upper receiver  is the part ATF declared to be the firearm, meaning that unlike an AR, shooters cannot readily swap calibers and barrel lengths. That’s why a much rarer gun sells for much less than the more versatile AR to the full-auto shooter community.

Here’s a semi-auto one that sold last spring. Rock Island is a physical auction house that draws the real high rolling collectors. The semi-auto was originally a dog in the market and didn’t move many units, which leads to rarity, and collector interest, now. Initially, the weapon was priced higher than an AR-15, and yet its stamped construction feels cheaper to many traditional gun buyers. They were about $700 new retail when the AR was hundreds less, and it was hard to quantify their advantages (the folding stock was one). So when they do turn up, from time to time, they often wind up at specialized auction houses rather than at the the big mass-market auction sites like GunBroker.

Right now GunBroker has only two FNCs on it, one semi and one transferable. The transferable one has a four-position selector (safe, semi, burst, and auto) and folding stock, and has drawn no bids at an asking start of ~$!0k. There are a lot of pictures at that auction page. The auction ends October 2, 2012.

The semi gun is also a paratrooper version and is not a perfect collector piece (no box, manual, or original mag). But it’s not so bad for a gun at least 25 years old: it’s in nice condition and includes the pistol grip cleaning kit and factory scope mount, both rarer than the gun itself. Because the auction ends Sept. 27 (today), there are multiple bids and it’s a no-reserve auction, we can pretty much guarantee this FN is going to a new home.

Next one to be auctioned can honestly be billed as, “As used to defend the US Consulate in Benghazi!” Well… maybe not entirely honestly.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Gun Wire

Almost didn’t get a W4 to you all this week, but we’ve been meaning to share this one. This site is simple, clear, and does just one thing: the last 24 hours of gun news headlines.

TV stations, newspapers, blogs, they’ve got it. Gun industry, gun law, gun crime, it’s all there. Collectors’ guns, military guns. Gun shops moving or expanding. Just about anything, if it made the news they hoover it up and stick it on their very busy page for the day.

There’s a lot to learn at The Gun Wire. One thing that really struck us, in just a few days of watching, was how many defensive gun uses there are. But our favorite one was probably the selected victim who fought back against an armed robber — with a samurai sword. Fortunately, Tyler Michaels had better results than all those futile Banzai charges ever did. He and his college roommates wrestled the gun from robber Deadrick Gaines, and held Gaines at sword’s point, to the delight of the Murfreesboro, TN, police. But we’d never have heard his story if not for The Gun Wire.

So, add it to your blogroll, or bookmarks, or however you keep track of these things. Of course, if you read the headlines there, don’t be shocked if one appears here from time to time — with our own angle, to be sure.