Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sunday Slackin’

Some days we sits and thinks, and some days we just sits.

This has been one of those Type B days so far.

We scarcely posted anything Saturday, which wasn’t entirely intentional, but is just a consequence of life at this time of year, between holidays, family, weather, and projects old and new all getting demanding all at once.

Guard Encounters Armed Blacks with Guns in Ferguson — Cooperation Ensues

Some National Guardsmen patrolling the wreckage of Ferguson, Missouri came on a remarkable, and alarming, sight: black men with guns, their leader a 6’8″ giant cradling an AR-15. They stood in the forecourt of a Conoco gas station, a building that rose, unmolested, like a meth addict’s last solitary tooth in a micro-Hiroshima landscape of boarded-up, or, worse, looted and burned, small businesses.

This was a building that did not burn, despite containing fuel enough to delight the nihilistic rioters. It wasn’t just standing, it was open. 

The Guard soldiers demanded that the men put their guns down, and were actually starting to cuff them, when the owner of the station emerged. Doug Merello is a second-generation owner of the station, and even though he’s white, he and his shop’s neighbors, just about all black, had always been friendly. They were his customers, and the neighbors were where he turned for his workers, too.

The nervous Guardsmen soon learned that the giant, Derrick “Stretch” Jordan, 37, and his armed friends were local men. They were workers and former workers at the station, and their friends, who knew Merello and just thought it would just flat be a crying shame if his station went the way of so many other small Ferguson businesses. Especially when they knew so many good people in their town, of whatever race, and knew also that the looters were mostly outsiders with a sprinkling of local ne’er-do-wells, incited by an irresponsible media that dreams of a world in flames.

Nobody was paying them. Nobody made them do it. They just decided to be the kind of men who did the Right Thing, and that this was the Right Thing to Do.

The cuffs came off. Apologies were made. The Guardsmen waved to their unexpected allies, and went back to the hard business of trying to keep Ferguson from reenacting the Sack of Rome with a new generation of Vandals.

And the local men kept watch on their friend’s station. Stretch had his AR. R.J., 29, had a Taurus 9mm. Sean Turner brought his .40, and an older guy had a MAC-10. Kids came looking for trouble — they got shown off.

Neither the Guard nor the volunteers at the Conoco station shot anybody.

And, as far as we know, the little gas station is still standing, proof that the only thing needed for evil to fail is for good men to do something.

Source: Emily Flitter with Cary Gilliam, Reuters, in the LVRJ. Hat tip, Nathan Francis in the Inquisitr via The Gun Feed. (Naturally, the reporters play up the race angle, because race is their big thing. The human angle was more interesting to us, but seemed to elude Flitter, even as she got the facts).

Update: Dean Weingarten, whose Gun Watch blog is always worth reading, has an article on informal militias protecting lives & property where the Guard hasn’t been doing so. We’d like to note that in such situations the National Guard usually operates under extremely restrictive ROE, because political leaders are more concerned about the possibility of exacerbating the violence than they are about restoring the rule of law.

Bob Owens at Bearing Arms also tied the two self-defense organization together (the Oathkeepers that Dean noted and Stretch and friends who defended the gas station).

One Head Finally Rolls at VA

mishima1 severed headSharon Helman, the Director of the VA Medical Center in Phoenix, was fired this week. She was suspended (with full pay, so “placed on vacation” is more like it) back in April when it came out that she’d destroyed evidence in the agency’s cover-up of the deaths of dozens of neglected veterans. Seven months’ pay for doing nothing sounds like a rip-off of the vets and taxpayers, but it could have been worse: she could have been being paid for going in to work, and we’ve already seen how that worked out.

Lawmakers and veterans groups have demanded the firing of Sharon Helman since whistleblowers first reported that Phoenix VA medical staff manipulated data to hide the hospital was failing to meet the needs of veterans seeking care.
The VA’s Inspector General’s Office concluded that the delays in care contributed to the deaths of more than 30 veterans.
“Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving veterans, and VA will not tolerate it,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in a prepared statement on Monday.

We will not tolerate it, he said, any longer than seven more months after she was exposed. He said he was going to hold people accountable. This is one, and it’s one whose performance was so egregious that if she were the administrator of a civilian hospital, the battle her attorneys would be fighting now would be to get her bail. 

VA-veterans-affairsBut vets aren’t worth what civilians are, and a bunch of insiders with government jobs are always loath to punish a fellow insider, especially by cleaving him or her from his or her government job.

You know, Start the tumbrils rolling, they think, and maybe I’m next. Can’t have that.

A few dead vets are a small price to pay for the comfort of a bureaucracy.

McDonald has named Glenn Grippen, a former director of the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as interim director of the Phoenix system. Grippen had retired from the VA in 2011 while director of the Rocky Mountain regional VA network, according to The Arizona Republic.

Yes, because the best way to deal with pervasive mis-, mal-, and non-feasance as a feature of VA culture is to select one of the same old individuals steeped in that same old culture.

The good news? We’ll have plenty of VA scandal stories to write in 2015. The bad news? Same thing.

McDonald said he would name a new permanent director as soon as possible.
Though the IG found data manipulation of patient appointments, a systemic problem across the VA, Helman became the focus of frustration and anger from veterans’ service groups and lawmakers.
Previous VA Secretary Eric Shinseki ordered Helman and other officials put on paid administrative leave shortly after news of the data manipulation and patient deaths surfaced.

via VA Fires Phoenix Hospital Director after Wait Times Scandal | Military.com.

“After,” indeed. Long time after. That’s like saying the Apollo Program came after the Cretaceous Era — technically true, but it implies a taut connection that isn’t there.

 

A Mess of Accidents, Black Friday Edition

ND-shot-in-footItem 21 Nov 14: Two-year-old Trigger Man?

In Marion, Kansas a precocious child combined with a badly-stored handgun to give everybody a good scare.

According to Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft, the parents of the boy alerted authorities about the incident around 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21.

“We were advised they were transporting their 2-year-old son to St. Luke Hospital in Marion,” Craft said.

“When officers arrived (at the hospital), they found that the two-year-old had a single 22 caliber gunshot wound to the upper inside arm and rib area.”

The investigation, he said, revealed that the child gained access to the handgun being stored in a gun-safe.

While the door was open, and a parent was accessing some of the safe’s contents, he said, the child grabbed the barrel of the pistol hanging on a hook inside the safe door.

“While pulling on the barrel of the pistol, it discharged and the bullet struck the child in the upper inner arm, then the rib area,” Craft said.

So. The pistol either had no safety (sorry, Glock fans, a “trigger safety” is no safety) or the safety was not on, and it was loaded, and it was hung from a hook by the trigger. There’s at least three inflection points where better decisions could have prevented the little guy from shooting himself.

After striking the rib, the bullet fragmented with only a small portion of the fragment entering the child’s chest causing minor internal injury.

Fortunately, the kid is going to be okay, the sheriff is not going to charge anybody in what was an accident. This is a good call. Like most accidents, it was preventable and there are lessons learned; like most accidents, nothing would be gained by persecuting people who have already had a lesson they will never forget.

Item 25 Nov 14, FL: “Give me the lighter or the dog gets it!

Emery MugshotDennis Eugene Emery, 57, issued that threat to his wife Francisca, pointing a revolver at one of the couple’s pets. He was angry because he couldn’t find a cigarette lighter, which from the looks of him was not going to be used for cigarettes.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, he cocked the gun when he pointed it at the animal. It was when he went to lower the hammer that instead, he lowered the boom — on his crank-bugged face.

What Emery was doing with a gun was an open question, as he was a career criminal of remarkable versatility. The Times reports:

Emery has had 34 contacts with Pinellas Park police since 2012, the department said. He recently was arrested three times in six days: Oct. 12 for domestic battery; Oct. 15 on charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest; and Oct. 17 on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash. Those cases were pending at the time of his death.

State records show Emery was convicted of drunken driving in 1977; carrying a concealed weapon in 1978; and disorderly conduct and public intoxication in 1983. He was charged with domestic violence in 2013, but the case was dropped, according to records.

Well, that’s only the beginning. The paper also has these recent stories about Emery, who won’t be down for breakfast:

Just in case you were worried the local rozzers will have nothing to do, now that Emery is no longer cluttering up the court dockets.

The dog is okay.

ITEM: 22 Nov 14, NJ: If it Can Take Game it Can Take You

A goose hunt turned tragic for a father-son hunting team, after the son apparently shot himself while setting decoys.

On Saturday, it was initially reported that the man may have been shot by his own father, a man in his 70s , but the investigation revealed that the victim died of a single gunshot wound to the head and neck from his own firearm.

According to West Windsor Police, the man and his father were hunting Canada Geese when the accident occurred. The incident occurred around 4:16 p.m. in a patch of woods where the men had Canada geese decoys spread out in front of a blind at the Tindall Farm property at 1201 Old Trenton Road.

Police said that the pair were properly licensed and were the only people in the hunting party. The man’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, though they have released information that he was a Chesterfield resident.

“Although incredibly tragic,” Lt. Matthew Kemp said in a release. “It is believed that the incident was solely an accident and condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim.“

No gun is safe, no matter how familiar, no matter how innocent and pleasant your shooting sport may be. It’s a gun, and that means you must never give it an opportunity to take your life. Or it will.

ITEM: 9 Nov 14, MN: Only one Hunter per Deer Tag, Please

In Minnesota, opening day of the deer season wound up with two hunters tagged (but not cleaned and dressed, we think), one by himself and one by persons unknown.

A 69-year-old man was found dead from a gunshot wound in Carlton County Sunday morning, according to the Northland News Center. The hunter was pronounced dead at a deer stand northwest of Moose Lake, near the Kettle River, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff’s officials added that foul play is not suspected in the man’s death, although they’re still investigating the circumstances, according to the News Center. The man’s name has not yet been released.
The second man died on opening day, Saturday, in Mahnomen County in northwestern Minnesota. Authorities say Paul Scholl, 50, of Laporte, was shot while coming out of his hunting area about 16 miles southeast of Mahnomen, the Associated Press reports. The shooting was reported about 5:30 p.m.

The article points out that last year’s bag was only one hunter for the whole season for all game, although 17 more were injured, but most of them weren’t shot; they fell from their tree stands. There’s a rather staggering statistic from the State DNR:

he DNR says one of every three hunters who use a tree stand will fall out of it and be seriously injured. Doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester prepare every year to respond to such accidents, KAAL TV reports.
The Mayo’s Dr. Donald Jenkins tells the station that the clinic treats at least three or four hunters every year who fall.

You might want to secure yourself to the stand, Elmer.

ITEM 20 June 14, FL: Shoot Straight is Good Advice, not just a Proper Name

This is the accident mentioned in the second bullet point of the 25 November 14.

A man suffered minor injuries at the Shoot Straight gun range in Pinellas Park Friday afternoon.

Pinellas Park police said they believe a round discharged in the chamber of a rifle and fragments struck the man in the hand and face. The man said he pushed the bolt forward, heard a bang and felt pain in his hand.

Wonder what he “pushed the bolt forward” with, and against what resistance? It does sound like an out of battery ignition, but you never know with news reports.

If you wonder why ranges where they don’t know you treat you like you’re going to shoot one of their range officers, or yourself, stories like this are one of the reasons why.

If the ranges where they do know you still treat you that way, maybe your problem isn’t stories like this after all.

In Conclusion…

That’s enough of these for now. Any more of them would be depressing; never forget to take care out there, and never forget than the people in these stories were just like you. They might even have been just as safety conscious, except for that one time. And that was all it took.

 

How to Make People Hate Your Business Today

slickguns_black_friday_screenshotToday is Black Friday, one of the two most prominent shopping days on the American mercantile calendar (the other? Cyber Monday, coming up in three days). It has become a tradition for merchants to offer their best prices on these days, to stand out from the crowd.

For example, almost everybody in the gun world is offering Black Friday deals, and every year Slick Guns.com collects them on a web page. Here’s 2014’s:

http://www.slickguns.com/black-friday-2014

There’s something over 60 vendors on that page. (It’s not complete by any means. We’ve received emails from Wilson Combat and X Products with Black Friday deals that are not represented. But they’re trying). We’re not using it ourselves, because this season is about buying for other people, and our other people don’t want guns and ammo, the benighted souls. But one of the vendors’ results there illustrates the perils of one common Black Friday promotional stunt.

How “Limited Supply Available” Really Works

It’s legal, but it’s a con. It’s a con because it depends on information asymmetry (the seller knows things the buyer doesn’t, in this case) to mislead customers into shopping; vendors with transparency as to stock status can’t pull this off.

Buds black friday loss leaders

 

Let’s look at it from the vendor’s point of view. Since everyone else in the crowd is doing the same thing, it gets harder and harder for any one shop to do so profitably. You can cut your prices as low as they can go — and then still be undercut by someone willing to use a loss leader to lure your customers into his store.

Loss leaders are one way some merchants attract business. Those are products that are sold for less than cost in the hope that customers who buy (1) buy other things in your store as well, while  they’re there, and (2) maybe even become habituated to buying from you. The merchant then gouges the customers who do (1) and (2) in order to make up for his losses on the loss leader.

If you’re not the guy who got the loss leader, you only get the gouge.

Since it’s getting harder and harder to attract business in the buy buy buy chaos of Black Friday, some merchants go for the definitely legal, arguably ethical, and maddeningly frustrating approach of offering only token loss leaders. This lets you attract business to your store (or website), but minimizes your loss. For example, you advertise a $400 pistol for $100, “While Supply Lasts,” and then you have one or two of that unit. (You also recover some of your $300 x #-of-loss-leaders “loss” by expensing it to promotion on your balance sheet, letting you offset profits on your taxes). It’s a bait and switch deal, but it is technically legal (unlike bait and switch where there was no product, which is criminal fraud) because some lucky schmo did get one or two examples of the $99 firearm.

And the dealer almost has to do this, or he’s not going to get diddly for traffic or sales on Black Friday. To some extent, when you’re a retailer, you have to conform to what other retailers are doing, and conform to customer expectations of retailers. So even if you hate loss leaders with a purple passion, you have to at least consider them. What do you say when you get an email from SlickGuns asking what your Black Friday deal is?

Now Let’s Look at the Customer Side of Things

buds_screenshotBut now that we’ve looked at the joy this brings to the merchant, let’s look at how it looks from the customer point of view, remembering that the average customer is not an MBA, not a quant, and not the kind of sharp-elbowed operator that stays alive as a low-margin, high-volume retailer of anything.

Bud’s Gun Shop, a one of those low-margin, high-volume sellers, offered several loss leaders for Black Friday, and they were duly sold out in minutes — before the sale actually began, which makes one suspect the deals went to insiders, perhaps.

Now, we’re going to reveal a great feature of SlickGuns’ black friday reportage: customer reviews. Here are some pull quotes from reviews by real customers:

  • I guses the REAL question is; Will ANYONE ever get one? Even if you somehow paid and think your getting a $49 or $99 dollar gun will it ever show up? How many weeks will you have to wait to get it?
  • Absolute bullcrap bait and switch
  • My list of gun sellers just got smaller again now that Dicks and Buds are forever on my do not buy from list.
  • Should not advertise this if you cant keep your website up?
  • I tried and tried for the last 2 hours and got repeated crash notices.
  • I am very, very disappointed in Buds.
  • This was my first dealing with them and I dont know if I will come back.
  • I guess I will go with my second option J & G Sales
  • finally got two items in my cart at the doorbuster price, but couldn’t check out because the server couldn’t handle the traffic.
  • What a load of crap! After many attempts I had the items in my cart but it would not let me checkout.
  • I have bought several guns from Buds in the past, but they just lost me as a customer after watching this.
  • Bud’s lost a lot of customers during the AR scare, I will have a tough time ever buying there again after this.
  • What a clusterf**k. The sight crashed just prior to 8:00 and is still messed up now at 9:00. I’m going to stay away from these morons.
  • I plan on purchasing many guns in the future but I am going to make it a point not to buy them from buds because of this.
  • If this server was working I wouldn’t be so pissed off. What a joke!
  • This was a bunch of BS, I could have slept in for an additional 1 1/2 hrs before getting ready for work.
  • Same here…I’m convinced we had no chance from the get-go.
  • Here is a good, “How to lose customers through fraudulent business practices.” Was a loyal BUDS customer….will no longer be. Nice work.
  • As fraudulent as they come..
  • Nice, not one of those items ever displayed the sale price.
  • Absolutely absurd! Fool me once…
  • 20 minutes before the sale “started” all the doorbusters were already sold out. i was hoping it said that because they were going to add them at 8 EST, but it never happened.
  • I made an account just for this response. Bud’s is a complete scam. Bait and switch is all they did. Never again will they see any of my money. The people that work there are a bunch of liars and they like screwing people over!
  • I’m usually not on board when I hear people say “bait and switch” after missing out on a deal… but this one was SUPER suspicious lol.. Nobody got one, and those of us who got them in the cart couldn’t check out….

The Facebook comments are similar, although you have to catch them before Bud’s deletes them. One favorites we saw:

  • David T Chamberlin
    Looks like someone attended United Airlines customer service school.

Snork!

Well, there you have it. The 2 or 5 or whatever of the discounted-beyond-belief guns were gone and the servers crashed, and 20 or 50 or whatever would-be deal-seekers are pissed off. Is that a win? We’re not sure. Bud’s might think it is. As a volume seller, they don’t need to care about developing relationships with their customers. They know that many of them are bottom-feeders, “loyal” only to the lowest advertised price. (That’s why you get vendors who sell something for $30 under all their competition, but charge $50 extra shipping and handling)

But it hasn’t been the end of the fury raging in the comments at SlickGuns. Because two commenters taunted that they got their guns, and they didn’t know why all the losers were complaining. Were they shills for Bud’s, or just trolling? Hold that thought for just a second.

A couple other commenters said they did get one of the guns, but other commenters noticed something interesting about the trolls: they had just registered minutes before, and the trolling post was their first and only. Trolls for Bud’s? Trolls just for the sake of being trolls? Either is possible, but some people will believe they were Bud’s all along anyway, and therefore, for better or worse, Bud’s owns them as part of the blowback from this Black Friday stunt.

Finally, we’d like to point out that the guns the Bud’s was discounting were, uh,  totally top-tier. Canik, Tisas, and some no-name shotgun? They normally sell in the $180-330 range to people that are buying styling rather than quality or reputation. “Saving” money on something you would not have bought, otherwise, is not “saving” money, it’s “spending” money.

Only the owners and managers of Bud’s know how their loss-leader scheme is working for them, but from what we’ve seen, loss-leader marketing does less damage to brick-and-mortar store reputation that it does to cyber merchandisers for several reasons.

  1. The Net is necessarily a lower-trust environment than even the most impersonal physical store.
  2. Transparency of inventory. In other words, you can see when the doorbuster specials are gone in a physical store (you also can do it in a well-run cyber storefront; we noticed this at Apex Gun Parts, and Luckygunner’s ammo inventory is usually good.
  3. The shared experience of doorbuster-chasing. If you wait in line all night at Best Buy, you get to know the other people waiting in line with you, at least a little. This builds a sort of social cohesions. Conversely, on the Internet every man is an island at the end of a causeway of internet protocol packets. He has no lateral contact with the other islands, no reason to be in good cheer.

We suspect that some businesses will find that loss-leader doorbusters work, but others will find that they do not. The problem with discounting is that it’s like riding a tiger: once you’re onboard, how do you get off? And there’s always somebody who will trim his margins more by locating in a lower-tax jurisdiction or putting his kids to work instead of paid employees.

Ever see a “Flute Gun”?

This is a new one on us. It’s a little old — it was turned in during a gun turn in (which they did not, mercifully, refer to as a “buy back”) in Tampa, Florida in February, 2013, making it practically matchlock-era by blog standards, but it’s new to us.

Hillsborough FL flute gun3

Yep, that’s exactly what it looks like — a .22 bolt rifle built into a flute. It looks like an unfinished project, but the details are completely unknown.

Hillsborough FL flute gun

Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull was not available for comment. Naturally, the press fixated on the flute gun and two inert, fired AT weapons, an M72 LAW and an AT-4, to the exclusion of interesting weapons — including one far more deadly than any of these, at least, potentially.

Two rocket launchers and a flute fashioned into a gun were among the weapons turned into the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s Gun Swap program on Saturday. A total of 2,541 weapons were exchanged for $75 and tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays home game at five locations throughout the county.

via Rocket launchers, ‘flute gun’ among weapons turned in at gun buyback | wtsp.com.

Here’s a close-up of the muzzle area, where it looks like two flutes were grafted together to make the needed length. Or maybe that’s where a flute takes down. We’re guitar guys, we don’t pretend to know boo about flutes.

Hillsborough FL flute gun2

In all their fright over the flute gun and the harmless-but-scary-looking “rocket launchers,” the media ignored the heavy quantities of sawn-off shotguns in the turn-ins, and they missed the gun in the background here.

Hillsborough FL flute gun etc

Yeah, if you go past the Jennings pistol and the flute gun, and past the crude sawn-offs, that’s a Browning AN/M2 or M3 aircraft machine gun. It looks like an M2 to us, because the buffer is not the full width of the back plate (the dead give-away of the M3 is that huge buffer). Either way, that;s 1,000 to 1,200 RPM of 12.7×99 mm coming at you right there. (Of course, it looks to be in $#!+ state, maybe from a crash site).

The guns from the turn-in were sent to Jacksonville to be torched (which may add more costs). The leadership of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office opposes the private ownership of firearms, which is why they dropped $200k buying these odd guns, and a lot of armed robbers’ older sawn-off shotguns. Your tax (and forfeiture) money in action.

The $200k expenditure (so far) against a $60k budget tells you a lot about the fiscal management and overall priorities of the HCSO.

We Give Thanks

On this, our day of national thanksgiving, we give thanks for many things:

For God and Family.

For freedom and prosperity.

For the loyalty of a dog — who sleeps a foot away from this desk, because two feet is too far — and the warmth of a good house.

For the health to shovel the snow, less than two years after acquiring a cardiologist and a bunch of junk to keep the ticker ticking.

For the cold steel of a sword, the walnut stocks of a gun, the skill to use them, and the incredible blessing of a new generation of warriors that let us sheath the sword, rack the rifle, and retire, secure in the comfort that the ramparts are watched, the enemies are confounded, the frail are protected, and the fallen are avenged.

For the good fortune that lets us cook a turkey when so many in the world may have to skip their daily rice ball.

For the humanity that makes us wish to spread the freedom to all with the will to take it up, and anon, join us in the prosperity. Turkeys for all!

And, for good friends and family, here, far, and connected only by these novelties of electronic communication.

For all these things, we give humble and unworthy thanks.

 

UPDATE

For a look at how a friendly foreign nation developed a tradition of Thanksgiving, read this article by Keith Nightingale at Small Wars Journal. Since being posted last week, it’s become one of the most popular posts at SWJ. I don’t know Nightingale, but a friend of mine speaks well of him.

Improvised Weapons in Africa

“While expertise is high and growing in the art of weapons manufacture, the know-how in the production of cartridge [sic] and other ammunition is still lacking.” — Abdel-Fatau Musah, pull quote from the report in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Spring 2002.

Weapons recovered by South African police in 2010.

Weapons recovered by South African police in 2010.

Abdel-Fatau Musah is an anti-gun activist sponsored by Holocaust collaborator George Soros’s Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and while much of what he wrote in a 2002 article in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Small Arms: A Time Bomb Under West Africa’s Democratization Process, was tendentious nonsense, he made some comments on improvised weapons that illustrate a point we keep hammering on: you can’t really ban guns, because you can’t uninvent the technology. From the thatched secret armories of Mindanao to the Tribal Trust Lands of Pakistan, humans who believe they need to arm themselves find entrepreneurs that arm them.

Improvised firearms are not new; they were once a reaction to colonialists' disarmament schemes. Smoothbore gun used by Mau-Mau terrorists in the 1950s.

Improvised firearms are not new; they were once a reaction to colonialists’ disarmament schemes. This smoothbore was built and used by Mau-Mau terrorists in the 1950s.

These third world armories have yet to produce a John M Browning, but it just might happen. As Musah notes, after deploring the existence of massive war stockpiles and ill-protected government armories, and blaming the great powers for the fact that the end of colonialism could be mistaken for the end of civilization in much of Africa, if there’s no handy stockpile a gunsmith will invent himself and start building one.

And the more he does it, the better he gets.

If one looked up the Small Arms Survey of 2001 for the list of arms producers, one would find that only Nigeria and Guinea possess the capacity to produce limited quantities of light weapons and ammunition in West Africa. Throughout the sub-region, however, cottage industries with the capacity to produce sophisticated firearms and imitation assault rifles dot the countryside. Originally established to meet local demands for hunting, these secret factories have grown in expertise and capacity to satisfy ever-growing demands brought about by general insecurity.

He also notes that the unauthorized gunsmiths react rationally to government pressure.

To avoid detection and repression, producers in Ghana have established networks of parts manufacturers, with each cell specializing in the production of specific components of the rifle. The components so produced separately—barrels, triggers, butts—are later assembled at a secret location for distribution. While expertise is high and growing in the art of weapons manufacture, the know-how in the production of cartridge [sic] and other ammunition is still lacking. The high rate of inward smuggling of ammunition is a consequence of this fact; this dependence offers options to control the overall trade.

He writes the conclusion to that paragraph as if he didn’t understand what he just said in the preceding lines.

If you try to restrict ammunition, yes, they’ll just make that, too. It’s not rocket surgery.

FIR 11307

Here’s another Mau-Mau blaster from the IWM. We struck out on images of the recent Ghanaian weaponry. Even the Impro Guns blog doesn’t have any.

Ghana, for instance, banned the local manufacture of firearms in 1962. Ten years later, they amended the Arms and Ammunition Act to allow manufacture with a license — and no license has ever been granted, or, for that matter, applied for. Yet guns are widely made.

Ghana, under the ECOWAS treaty and with the help of the EU and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German foundation named after a Weimar era politician. The foundation’s politics are best understood by its veneration of the Karl Marx Haus in Trier, Germany, where it maintains a library of the “scientific socialism” it supports, and a hagiographic museum of the man who inspired the world’s greatest mass murders. It even says the baroque setting of Marx’s birthplace will “take you captive with its charms.” Well, if there’s one thing Marx’s ideology produced, it’s plenty of prisoners!

The Polish officers of 1939 were not available for comment, neither were the Old Bolsheviks of 1936-38, the 18 million who went into the Gulag, the millions that never came out, etc., etc.,

In Germany, the FES seems to overlap politically with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which is descended from the East German quisling government and which has an anti-semitic tilt (ironic, as Luxemburg was Jewish. But many of the founding “Communists” of East Germany were resprayed Nazis, and by 1945 the original Communists, many of them Jewish, had been exterminated under red star as well as swastika, so maybe not so ironic).

ECOWAS, the EU and the FES consider minimum small arms regulations to be national and international registration, extremely restrictive may-issue permitting, and confiscations “as needed”.

His ultimate conclusion is even further afield — that SALW (the international ban seekers’ term for “Small Arms and Light Weapons”) — need to be controlled internationally, like nuclear weapons. 

At least two problems with that conclusion arise:

  1. the nuclear nonproliferation regime is extremely costly, which has only been justified by a strong international consensus for it at most times; and,
  2. the nuclear nonproliferation regime has failed repeatedly, and is failing again with respect to Iran.

No one is likely to sanction homegrown revolver development like they do, say, homegrown enriched-uranium manufacture. And as he noted with respect to the Ghanian bush gunsmiths, bans have consequences, but never the intended ones.

This is just one more attempt by Africans and their enablers in international organizations to try to shift the blame for misconduct by African individuals and governments onto other powers.

An AK… in Pump-Action?

Not altogether sure what to make of this. We do know that for $2200 were not going to be buying it. But this AK, for sale on GunBroker right now, can’t really be called the work of Bubba: It’s far too well done. But it’s what was done that raises our eyebrows… this AK is a little idiosyncratic, shall we say, in its style and features.

Pump AK right

See what we mean?

Here’s what the auction says about it:

Up for auction, is a (RCCA)Roll Call Custom Armory Exclusive! A Fully Modified & Customized AK-47 Romanian Par-1 Pump Action AK47!

That’s right, High Capacity AK-47 Pump Action Rifle that has had a “Complete Make-Over”, both inside and out!

This baby is most likely a legal hunting rifle in just about every state. Check your state laws to be sure !!

This AK-47 Pump is like nothing that you have ever seen!

Yeah, he’s definitely got us there. The nearest thing we can think of is Marvin the Martian’s Disintegrator-ator-ator-ray.

Pump AK

 

But let’s let him describe what’s been done to this firearm.

Let me just mention a few of the Highlighted Features.

True Polish Under-Folder stock with a Billet Aluminum Adjustable Cheek Rest. A Red Star Arms Adjustable Trigger. A CSS Round Sloted Forarm Rail. A Texas Weapons System Picatinny Rail with Peep Sight. A Krebs Extended Safety Lever. A Billet Aluminum Extended (Pump) Charging Handle by MGM Mfg.. A Stainless Steel Ported Shroud Muzzle Flash Suppressor. A Fiber Optic Front Sight. A (Night Vision Compatible) Vortex Strike Fire Red Dot Optic with a See-Through Cantilever Mount. The entire Rifle has been done in Armor Black & Stainless Steel Cera-Koted Finish.

OK, we weren’t going to interrupt his sales spiel, but does this guy sound like Ron Popeil, or what?

WAIT! There’s More! It also comes with…

Yep. Ron Popeil. What does this Ronco AK-47 slicer and dicer come with, if we ACT NOW?

…a Two-Tone UPG/RWC Ergonomic Finger Grooved Pistol Grip, a Single Point Sling Swivel, a Non-Slip Pump-Slide Grip Cover, a Bolt Open Lock Safety Lever, and a U.S. Palm 30rnd. Magazine.

This Awesome AK47 Pump Action Rifle has been tweaked, tuned, and Customized “Over-The-Top” for Roll Call and we know you will enjoy owning, shooting, and hunting with what NO One Else Has!

So, Go ahead and try to find anything even close, Then, Check out the pics, the price, our Roll Call Feedback, and Place Your Bid with Confidence!

Again, it has us at a loss for classification. When you consider the amount of smithing that’s in this gun, and the individual cost of the many third-party parts, and factor in the CeraKote finish (one of the costlier options for a spray-on bake-on finish), the dealer/builder is probably not making a lot of money on it.

There was a lot of time put into this. Now, we have the archaic and suspect idea that a gunsmith, even one more of the parts-assembler/armorer/finisher variety, is worth at least as much as you pay the schmo who changes your oil at the Lexus dealer. It’s not what we would do with an AK, but it gives every appearance of being well done.

We suppose the pump action would appeal to people in ban states, where a semi-auto with a detachable magazine causes paroxysms of pearl-clutching on the part of newspaper editors, and dog-shooting (for starters) on the part of police.

But still, all this on a Romanian AK? This reminds us of an old saying about some things you can’t polish.

Maybe if you Cerakote them first?

Pump AK angle

Anyway, for the right owner, maybe this is the perfect AK, and all our skepticism proves is that we’re not the right owners. The gun has a certain video-game or Hollywood appeal — you could see someone using it in the remake of Man from UNCLE. It would be quite a step up from the original THRUSH carbine as a bad-guy weapon!

If you’re the property master or armorer for the UNCLE flick, or otherwise interested in this unusual AK, there are more pictures on the auction page.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: M4Carbine.net

m4c_screenshotYears ago, we chose AR15.com for one of our W4s, and we got some predictable responses, along the lines of: “That’s where all the posers and neckbeards are, and all the real tactical operatory operators are on M4Carbine.net” or the absolutely true and non-exaggerated: “The signal to noise ratio is way better at M4C than at Arfcom.”

The fact of the matter is, the founders of M4 Carbine (aka M4C) were refugees from AR15.com (aka Arfcom). Those defectors were, originally, serious gun enthusiasts and pros who considered themselves above the amateurs, newbies and wannabes that infest AR15.com, and were sick to death of the juvenile grab-ass that infests that forum. M4C does tend to stick to business more, and so is less of a frat-boy hangout than Arfcom; of course, at either site, whether you pick up signal to noise depends entirely on where you hang out, but the overall s/n ratio is higher by design on M4C.

The Upside of M4C

There is a very great amount of expertise on the site, and it’s focused on subject matter. You’re not going to spend time here exploring the elections or reading a thread about how some guy’s girlfriend left him, dog passed away, and other bare-bones frameworks for country and western songs. That’s all endemic to GD on Arfcom. Here, the GD forum is titled AR General Discussion and anyone trying to drag it off topic is curbstomped by the mods. This is not the site you go to for puppy pictures, or childish hijinks, which probably ruins it for some of you guys (grin).

On M4C you’ll get pretty good advice from people with hands-on experience in combat tactical firearms or in competition (whichever you’re looking for). A number of real-deal armorers hang out here, as do some serious shooters, of targets and of deserving people. Several of the top instructors in the country maintain accounts here, and the advertisers are a who’s who of premium guns and parts.

For reasons we’re about to get into, the very well-organized and easily searched equipment exchange at M4C is more likely to have good name brand stuff, and like other forums, guys often offer it here before throwing it to the wolves on GunBroker, which is good if you’re looking for something high-end or exotic. It’s also a great place to sell something that hardcore AR aficionados might want, but your local gun shop won’t even identify on sight, like a carrier key staking tool.

Some of the users are prone to do evidence-based posts and extensive tests, and the data remains on the site for the benefit of all. If you are new to the AR platform the tuning and setup stickies here are freakin’ platinum.

It’s free to get a login, which gets you the usual forum benefits, mostly access to linked rather than embedded images, and a mailbox for instant messages (useful if you’re going to use the

The Downside of M4C

That said, the original sin of M4C is pride, evidencing as snobbery. There are frequently people there as brand-conscious as a trust-fund chick shopping Newbury Street. We detested those sorts of people as kids, and find the same personality traits (and same hunger for a saintly brand name) just as repulsive in grownups from our own gun culture.

Yes, there are some brand names that get attached to junk all the time, where buying the company’s product is an exercise in hope over experience, and there are some brand names that very seldom get attached to anything but first quality, where a failed or blemished product is distressing to the company’s representatives. In between there is the vast array of parts that will generally work together. It’s an AR-15 we’re talking about here, not a Fabergé egg. It’s a service rifle originally designed to be carried and used by cannon-fodder conscripts, and maintained by guys with 85 IQs and booklets of cartoon instructions. Yes, you can get smarter about the gun as an operator and/or builder/maintainer, and yes, M4C is a good place to do that.

But you’re going to have to endure some attitude. Now, the attitude seldom comes from the real pros, the founding members who were frustrated by the limitations of the Arfcom platform; instead it comes from their fanboys. It’s a bit like the letters guys write to Road & Track magazine disparaging the Ferrari in favor of the Lamborghini, where you can tell from their words and attitude that they drive to work in a nine-year-old Accord (NTTAWWT). We see guys get brand-snobbish on, for instance, upper receivers, and shake our heads. It’s basically a connecting part that has few critical dimensions (parallel of the sight rail to the bore axis is one) that are relatively hard to screw up.

Now, when one of the armorers says he opened the boxes on 400 Brand B carbines and the carrier keys were not staked, that’s a reasonable data point. When some kid whose mode of expression reminds one of the “Chevies eat Fords” t-shirts that grade school kids wore in the 1960s writes that “LMT sucks and BCM is way better,” that’s not. Fortunately newbies seem capable of figuring that out, and the M4C community doesn’t tolerate assclowns, but its toleration of empty snobbery sets them up.

While it’s great to build your dream AR, remember that the popularity of parts and accessories waxes and wanes, and today’s AR will be as clearly a marker of 2014 as an XM16E1 is of 1966. And remember that the guys who just did the incredible rescue of 8 al-Qaeda hostages in Yemen probably carried that were very carefully inspected and maintained, and somewhat personalized in their accessories, but fundamentally standard factory-produced guns.

The Bottom Line on M4Carbine.net:

The reason we go there, and the reason you should go there, snobs and all, is this: no one of us individually has the knowledge available at M4C collectively. Read and watch the threads, so that you can, when you need to, ask for help from those experts without inflaming the fanboy contingent, and your experience with the site will be very rewarding.

UPDATE

Sorry this did not post on time. Holidays, you know? Thanksgiving will be a normal posting day, just late, late, late.