Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Classic Western on the Moral Standing of Firearms

From the movie that gave Sean Connery his first name (seriously! He saw it and resolved to change his name from Thomas to Sean, which is pronounced “shane” by Scots).

At approximately 1:00 into this minute-and-a-half trailer.

Marian: “We’d all be better off if there wasn’t a single gun left in this valley.”

Shane: “A gun is as good, or as bad, as the man using it.”

And there you have it. The essential core issue of gun control, as stated in George Stevens’s classic Western Shane, released in 1953.

Before there was a “sporting purposes” test borrowed from a Nazi law by a Nuremburg prosecutor turned corrupt Senator. Before there was a Form 4473, import bans, Hughes Amendment, Lautenberg Amendment, “constructive possession,” Ruby Ridge, Waco, “Economic Wacos” and their hellspawn Choke Point. Before there was any of that.

A baby born while Shane was in theaters is closing in on retirement, but the argument, already centuries old when it was boiled down into two lines of dialogue for the movie, endures.

Alan Ladd’s character had the right of it.

Yet he was surprised by the FOOM!

FOOM!The story says he was a “respected military reservist.” That is, before he got the bright idea of using a .50 tracer round as a firework.

By heating it with a blowtorch.

With his parents and sister right there. 

Let’s run that equation, shall we? Cordite + h (heat) + containment vessel (i.e. fixed ammunition) + t (time) = you guessed it, FOOM! And a trip for two to the hospital for removal of embedded brass shards, burnt and unburnt powder, and all the usual FOOM by-products.

As the French-looking Secretary of State, currently playing Lee at Appomattox with some random gang of mullahs, might have said whilst tugging his long chin, “Quelle surprise.”

The family was outside their home with the reservist, who had recently served in Afghanistan and returned home in the fall of 2014 with a souvenir — a .50-caliber machine gun round, said the commander.

“It’s one bullet but it’s not a regular bullet. It was a tracer round which, if you take the bullet out of the shell and light it on fire, it will act like a flare or a firework. So he took a blow torch to ignite it and he lit the bullet tracer round but it did not act like a firework,” said Moravec. “It exploded. It was a flash explosion.

“What he thought would happen didn’t.”

via Reservist, family injured by souvenir machine gun bullet – Lake County News-Sun.

Famous last words, those: “What he thought would happen, didn’t.” Seriously? What in the name of the naiads of Niffelheim (yes, we’re mixing our mythologies in shameless pursuit of alliteration) did he think would happen?

We could have told him what was going to happen: “A couple of you knuck-heads are getting a bolance ride.”  And indeed, the 25-year-old Prometheus and his 23-year-old Kid Sister got hauled to the ER, defragmented (it’s not just for hard drives any more!), and patched up. Mom and Dad were more lightly injured and refused medical treatment.

Way to make the reserves look like the Short School Bus version of the military, kid.

Still, the momentary lapse of forebrain activation that leads to “accidents” like this (scare quotes, because there’s nothing accidental about heating propulsive powder in a contained space and getting a bang) is not reserved for any particular unit, branch or contingent. A brash young SF soldier of our acquaintance did something nearly as stupid with a .50 round in Afghanistan. (Alas, he was an 18B). He has adjusted well to life with nine fingers, so there is that.

SunTrust Bank Celebrates Hitler’s Birthday with Choke Point

ssuntrust_logoMaybe it’s the snazzy, Hugo Boss uniforms, but SunTrust Bank is inviting Godwin to the party for Hitler’s Birthday, by sending letters to firearms businesses, punitively closing their accounts for dealing in Administration-disapproved goods and services. Effective on the day that was the highest holy day in National Socialism.

The cancellation comes with a 30-day deadline for some purposes, but with only 10 days before the business’s debit cards go tango uniform. It’s all part of a long-standing Administration plan to make lampshades out of the hides of America’s gun owners, and those businesses that dare to serve them.

American Gun and pawnThe Nashville-based bank has been a leader in sucking up to political overlords, perhaps in hopes that it too can grow to coveted Too Big to Fail (not to mention, Too Big to Be Indicted for Criminal Activity) status. Here’s an example of the form letter. This one was sent to Florida’s American Gun and Pawn over the computer signature of a minor bank (& The Party, no doubt) functionary, Quanisha Keel. Keel no more wrote the letter, which bears the stylistic imprints of SunTrust and possibly government lawyers and PR specialists, than you did, but her name is on one of the most blatant examples of banking corruption since the cell door closed on Carlo Ponzi.

suntrust hitlers birthday letter

It sounds like a one off letter, but when AG&P called, March 27…

…[T]hey said they are closing Gun stores accounts all over the country! We are a licensed and legal company!

OFA’s social media brigades are flooding the net with obfuscatory claims, including that (1) the letter is fake (it isn’t), the business must be crooked (so where’s the indictment?), and that maybe the account is being closed, but not because AG&P is a gun business, maybe because it’s a pawn shop (like that’s any better a reason?). To which the company’s Steve Champion replies:

You are wrong. Gun dealers are part of the account closings. I called and they specifically said it was because we are a gun dealer. I have the names of everyone I spoke with.

Even as these letters were going out, one of the great successes under the authority of Operation Choke Point, Administration Made Guy (FDIC Chairman) Martin J. Gruenberg was in front of Congress, mumbling non-sequiturs to avoid perjuring himself that Choke Point was not a thing, and if it was, it was over, and who were you going to believe, a Beltway and Wall Street Made Guy like Himself, or your lyin’ eyes?

Champion has gotten some small media play in outlets like Florida News Flash and local TV and radio, but this problem is not going away. If anything, it’s going to grow, because the Deep State bureaucrats haven’t backed away when exposed — instead, they’ve sought the cloak of secrecy. Not a good sign.

The NRA has a story with some of the industry’s (and other targeted industries’) responses to Choke Point. If you yourself have been a victim of SunTrust or another national socialist bank, the US Consumer Coalition wants to hear from you — also, if you’re an inside-banking whistleblower.

No one has been able to get a response from the Hitler’s Birthday celebrators at SunTrust. SunTrust has been one of the most aggressive participants in Choke Point, and has been evasive about its anti-gun policies and positions for at least two years. The participating banks have been threatened by the CFPB, the FDIC and the Department of Justice to keep the details of their participation secret.

Toggle-Locked Orphan: the Benelli B76

If you have a well-rounded firearms education, the name Benelli needs no introduction. Now part of the Beretta family, the marque has been known for its semi-auto shotguns since its founding in 1967. But Benelli made an attempt, in the 70s and 80s, to make a NATO service pistol. It’s interesting for its unusual toggle-lock mechanism (one we missed when we covered toggle-locking), its fine Italian styling, and its relative rarity: internet forum participants, at least, think only about 10,000 were made. (We do some analysis on this claim below, and posit a lower number).

benelli b76 pistol

There were other Italian semi-autos at about the same time, like the Bernardelli P-018, competing in part for European police contracts, as many Continental police departments replaced 7.65mm service pistols during the 1970s and 80s rise of European communist terrorist groups like the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof Gang. But the Benelli was a unique blend of design and functionality. Arriving too late into a market saturated with double-stack double-action pistols, it might have been a killer competitor for the P1/P.38 or the Beretta M1951 twenty years earlier, but by the end of the eighties, the market was heavily oriented towards double-stack, double-action, and often, ambidextrous-control service pistols. Even European police services who had thought 8 rounds of 9mm a real fistful of firepower had moved on — and so did Benelli, retreating to a concentration on its market-leading shotguns.

Mechanics of the B76

The toggle-lock is not truly a lock in the sense of a Maxim or Luger lock, but more of a hesitation lock or delayed blowback. Other weapons have used a lever in delayed blowback, like the Kiraly submachine guns and the French FAMAS Clarión, but the Benelli one is unique. It’s described in US patent No. 3,893,369. The toggle lock or lever is #5 in the illustration below, from the patent.

US3893369-1Benelli B76

Benelli often cited the fixed barrel of its design as a contributor to superior accuracy in comparison to the generic Browning-type action.

Aesthetics & Ergonomics

The styling of the B76 is a little like its Italian contemporary, the Lamborghini Countach: angular, striking, and polarizing. You love it or hate it, or like Catullus, both at once: Idi et amo. It came in a colorful printed box, resembling consumer products of the era…

BenelliB77Pistol in box

…or in a more traditional wooden case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The somewhat blocky slide needs to be protected by a holster with a full nose cap, if you intend to carry the B76. It’s a large pistol and it would be prone to print if you did, much like any other service pistol like the M9, the Glock 17, or various SIGs. Where the pistol comes into its own is when you handle and shoot it. The safety falls right to hand, like that of a 1911, although as a DA/SA gun it’s perfectly safe to carry hammer down on a loaded chamber. The grip angle is much like the P.08 Luger, making for a very natural pistol pointing experience. The pistol’s steel construction and roughly 1kg (2.2 lb) weight makes it comfortable and controllable to shoot. The heavily-contoured grip on the target models makes it even more so.

The guns are known for reliability and accuracy, and their small following is very enthusiastic, reminding us of the fans of the old Swiss SIG P210 pistol: the sort of machinery snobs whose garage is more accustomed to housing premium European nameplates than generic American or Japanese iron, and who not only buy premium instead of Lowe’s tools, but who can take you through their toolboxes explaining why the premium stuff is better.

Production and Variations

The Benelli company was relatively new when it designed the B76. The US Patent application for its locking mechanism dates to 1973, and the planned start of production was 1976 (that may have slipped).

There were several variants of the B76, most of them sold only in non-US markets. The B76 was the name ship of the class, if you will, but there were several variants. The B77 was a scaled-down model in .7.65 x 17SR (7.65 Browning/.32 ACP); it was a completely different gun. The B80 was a 7.65 x 22 (7.65 Parabellum/.30 Luger) variant, largely for the Italian market; only the barrel and magazine differed from the B76. The B82 was a variant in the short-lived European police caliber, 9 x 18 Ultra (sometimes reported, mistakenly, as 9×18 Makarov). In addition, there were several target pistol variants, including the B76 “Sport” with target sights, grip, longer barrel, and weights, and a similar target pistol in, of all things, .32 S&W Long called the MP3S. We’ve covered some of these exotic Benellis before, in the mistaken belief that we had brought this post live, which we hadn’t. (D’oh!)

The one modification that might have brought Benelli sales to police departments or military forces was never done, and that is to develop a double-stack magazine. A “mere” 8 rounds of 9mm was already insufficient in 1976, when many NATO armies already issued the 13-round Browning Hi-Power as their baseline auto pistol, and the novel Glock 17 coming on strong.

Benelli dropped the pistols from its catalog in 1990. The company still produces its signature shotguns and a line of high-end target pistols, and even some rifles based on the shotgun design, but its foray into the pistol market has left Benelli with bad memories, red ink and a few curiosities in the company museum. But the curious pistol buyer looking for a firearm with a difference will find here a remarkable and character-rich handgun. If you’re the sort of man who can rock an Armani suit or avoid looking ridiculous in a Countach, this might be a good companion piece.

We’ve mentioned the internet claims of production of 10,000. The highest serial number we found on the net (5462) was well below that, but we certainly don’t have a statistical grasp on production yet. With 7 known serial numbers we can make a rough calculation that there’s a 9 in 10 probability the total production is under 6400, and a 99% probability it’s under 8500. That’s assuming our rusty MBA-fu still retains its potency.

Market

No B76s are on GunBroker at this writing, and only very few — single digit quantities — have moved since 2012. The guns offered were all in very good to new-in-box condition, and they cleared the market at prices from $585 to $650. One went unsold at $565 against a reserve of $600, hinting that, despite these guns’ character and quality, there’s just not much of a market for single-stack full-size DA/SA autopistols.

For More Information

We’re seeking a better copy, but for the moment, heres a .pdf of the manual. Unfortunately, it takes greater pains to describe the mundane DA/SA trigger system than the rare, patented breech lock!

benelli_b76.pdf

CORRECTION: ICE Bosses Deny Shooting for S&W

This morning’s story created quite a stir in ICE, both in the field offices and at headquarters. In the headquarters our little story apparently alarmed an organization called OFTP, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs. OFTP used to be called NFTTU, and some ICEmen still refer to it by the old acronym.

Anyway, it’s OFTP that wrote the specs for a new handgun. And insiders say that we were totally wrong — not about whether they had written the contract with one particular gun in mind; a cursory read of the specs makes it pretty clear they did just that. Nope, we were wrong about exactly what handgun they were trying to buy.

OFTP wrote they spec, so they thought, to explicitly exclude everything but the SIG P320 Compact.

The SIG P320 family. The compact is the "Goldilocks" midsize -- about the same size as a G19.

The SIG P320 family. The P320 Compact is the “Goldilocks” midsize — about the same size as a G19. (The smallest is called the P320 Carry).

Some in ICE are in deep denial about that. They remember the fiasco with the SIG 250, SIG’s previous modular polymer pistol. They have fought NFTTU, which also specifies which personal off-duty pistols ICE agents are able to use. Any agent may carry a pistol from an approved list, but he or she must qualify with the pistol, and can only be authorized to carry two firearms. The qualified pistol list is strange: for example, the Glock 26 and Glock 17, compact and full-size 9mm pistols, are authorized, but the intermediate Glock 19 isn’t; fullsized Glocks are OK in .40 but the compact G27 is verboten. Why? No one has gotten a credible answer out of OFTP or its forerunner. Agents who prefer Glock pistols have long suspected NFTTU/OFTP of bias against the Austrian sidearm. OFTP insiders deny this, and claim that the new solicitation doesn’t exclude Glock.

“But it requires an ambidextrous slide release, which no Glock has.”

“Glock could make one.”

Whether that is possible for a company that’s already introduced several new models in the last year is an open question, as is whether it would be economical. (Beretta could tell you how lucrative it isn’t, making a new version of lockwork when a single client holds its breath until it turns blue). Glock has modified its weapons for a single customer in the past, but NYPD was a large customer with some 40,000 armed officers at the time. All ICE is probably a max of 12,000 gun carriers, split roughly evenly between HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations).

The interchangeable grip frames are possible because the trigger mechanism is the legal, serialized "firearm," a feature pioneered on the SIG 250. Absence of a hammer reveals this to be a 320 part.

The interchangeable grip frames are possible because the trigger mechanism is the legal, serialized “firearm,” a feature pioneered on the hammer-fired SIG 250. Absence of a hammer reveals this to be a striker-fired 320 part.

Another weird thing in the solicitation is this: when the competitors provide test guns, they also have to provide magazines. So far, nothing abnormal there, right? But they have to provide, we are not making this up, fifty-two (52!) magazines per pistol. We don’t think we could find 52 mags for any single make and model of pistol around here. We might have 30 or 40 M9 mags, but that would require us to shake out 30 years of rucksacks, ammo pouches, vests, and duffle bags. What earthly goal can one accomplish with as many pistol magazines as cards come in a deck?

UPDATE: Correction to the Correction

The only ICE employees authorized to carry the Glock .40 are members of the Federal Protective Service. FPS was consolidated into ICE after adopting the Glock 22, and so they’re grandfathered. However HSI and ERO agents can’t carry the G22, only 9mm Glocks. We regret not making this clear initially.

UPDATE 2: OFTP’s justification for not approving the G19 is that it supposedly failed an endurance test that the 17 and 26 did.

UPDATE 3: This issue is being discussed on the HSI SA’s forum on Delphi. Note that that is their sandbox and so we don’t usually go there to play. They are

A Tradition Upheld, Good Books Acquired

This post will be slightly more personal than usual, and it will be written in the first person. You see, my mother was a remarkable and curious person who lived nearly 80 years and spent all of them trying to slake an insatiable curiosity, a fortunate malady that was among the inheritances she passed to her sons. This insatiable curiosity is manifested, among other things, as reading and love for books that falls somewhere along the scale where passion and obsession are found.

Today would have been her 79th birthday.

She was buying books, in hopes of reading them, short days before her death after a long and physically arduous complex of illnesses.

We had a sort of mother-son tradition, when I used to visit the folks in Florida: the Friends of the Martin County Library operate a large used book store on the grounds of a large flea market in Stuart, Florida, and we would go there one day every weekend (the store, which is staffed by volunteers, is only open on weekends when the market is open). We would each buy a stack of books. They would be different books, of course: she read fiction and loved taut, sophisticated mysteries, especially 20th Century British writers; I sought out military non-fiction, although she did urge some novels on me, and I was always a better man for each of them.

Two Sundays ago, I went without her, for the first time. It was, perhaps, a tribute. The image is my stack of books (minus a couple already distributed among the bathrooms down south at Hogney World). You may see some ideas from some of these books emerge in the blog. Most of them await my next visit and return, at the wheel of a car; this trip was in the human mailing tube we call an airliner.

stack_o_books

An interesting set:

  1. Landfall by Nevil Shute, a novel of Bomber Command in the early years of the British bomber offensive. Nobody really understands the staggering casualties the bomber boys (British and American alike) took. Shute captures well the “live for today” ethos that resulted, and the fragile, flickering flame of hope that gave them hope for survival, and for life beyond the war. Some of them would even get that. Shute’s most-read novel, On the Beach, isn’t close to being his strongest.
  2. Warday by Whitley Streiber and James SomebodyIcan’tread [ETA: Kunetka] is one of those 1980s novels of nuclear devastation that served Soviet propaganda aims. Some of them were Soviet-sponsored, some were by independent fellow-travelers, and some were by people who weren’t on the Soviet side so much as they, too had been scared by all the nuclear propaganda. If I remember, Warday is not a good novel, and it’s a tossup whether it’s of the first or of the second set. Streiber was a writer for hire, and it’s not like the KGB paid its agents of influence in unconvertible rubles. But I got it as a period piece, kind of like Mein Kampf or an argument for the divine right of kings.
  3. The Grim Reaper by Roger Ford is pretty much straight in WeaponsMan’s wheelhouse: a history of the machine gun. It’s more of a social history than a technical one, and it’s pretty interesting so far. Ever hear of the Ager gun?
  4. The Rogue Aviator by Ace Abbott. Somehow we think “Ace” was not on his birth certificate. A personal memoir of military and airline aviation in the F-4 Phantom and 727 era; a quick read.
  5. Days of Infamy: Military Blunders of the 20th Century by Michael Coffey. As God is my witness, I opened this three times and read some of it, and can’t retain what it’s about. That’s not an especially good sign. Indeed, I only recovered the subtitle by googling the sucker. My impression was that there was nothing new or rare in there and that it had a snide Hollywood tone, and looking online, I see it is a companion book for a TV show. You might wonder how something so shallow gets published — well, the author is the editor of Publishers Weekly.
  6. The History of LandminesI’ve already treated you to a detail or two from that. Good, slim, quality book by Mike Croll, a former British soldier and civilian mine removal expert. It turns out that ten years later, Mike rewrote and republished the book, now called Landmines in War and Peace.
  7. Declassified by Thomas B. Allen purports to be full of explosive declassified secrets, but a quick skim revealed nothing that hasn’t been covered in more depth elsewhere. This is an exploitation book to go with a TV series, which probably accounts for its superficial nature.
  8. Women in War by Shelley Saywell appears to be a 1980s propaganda tract by a feminist writer. Expect no humor whatsoever. Stories are selected for their Sisterhood Appeal and some are exaggerated; others apocryphal.
  9. Hunt the Wolf is a novel by former SEAL Don Mann; the protagonist is essentially a better Don Mann, but the book is a fun, fast read. One hopes that SEALs don’t “wing it” to the extent they do in this book.
  10. Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant is the story of a wartime scientific lab sponsored by a secretive Wall Street potentate, told by his granddaughter and bearing on the “wizard war” of radars and sonars and passive detection systems.

In addition to those, there’s the bathroom books, including a photo history of SAAB and a couple others we can’t remember.

I have my receipt around here somewhere, but the total came to $28.

Serial Number ID10T: Negligent Discharge Edition

There’s a show on TV somewhere called Doomsday Preppers. Based on the clips we’ve seen, It’s dedicated to the Hollywood proposition that anyone taking measures to be ready for natural or (to use that wonderful DHS locution) “man-made disasters” is (1) an inbred, mouth-breathing moron, and (2) an irresponsible “gun nut.” The actors on the show seem intent on proving these propositions, in the limited set of clips that we’ve seen. In this one, Tim, one of the on-camera “talent” in the show, grapples with the consequences of a negligent discharge:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qth1k962_9A

Unfortunately, the camera picks up the “writing” but is not on time to snag the ND. Still you can figure it out by parsing out the lame excuses: 

  1. 0:10: “Damn thing uh, just misfired on it.” Er, no it didn’t. Misfire is what happens when a gun that is commanded to fire does not.  In this case, the problem was where his left hand was when his right hand commanded the firearm to go bang. 
  2. 0:31: “As soon as Tim’s gun misfired and hit his thumb…” Er, no it didn’t. See above. Well, it did hit his thumb… that we’ll concede.
  3. 0:45: “It was one of those… malfunctions…” Er, not it wasn’t, Tim. Man up. The gun functioned perfectly and did what your trigger finger directed it to do, which was, in this case, blow out most of the bone between the first and second knuckles of his left thumb. Guns are stupid, but generally obedient to humans’ commands. Humans, conversely, are just stupid. Q.E.D.
  4. 047: “My thumb went in front of the barrel…” Gee, no idea how that happened! It just went. Er, no it didn’t. Thumbs generally respond to motor impulses generated deep inside the brain housing group. Yes, it was dumb to do, but you did it, and you’re gonna own it.
  5. 0:49: “…and, uh, it went off.” Funny how guns owned by bozos have this propensity for just going off like that.

Now, this is not mere entertainment TV, where we’re meant to jape at Tim’s buffoonery and chortle at his pain and suffering. (Although it would take a heart of stone not to do that, and we’re not in that much of a granite state that we won’t). This is also meant, by its Hollywood impresarios, to educate and uplift people away from taking care of themselves, and towards Letting George Do It, or, perhaps, these days, Letting Big G Do It. That’s an insidious message, and you would do well to reject it. It is never a bad idea to look out for you and yours.

There’s being prepared, and being a “prepper.”

You don’t need to define yourself as a “prepper” to see the sense in being prepared for interruptions in the just-in-time flow of food, water, fuel, and electricity to your home (not to mention interruptions in Rule of Law). Two nice young Mormons came by yesterday; they didn’t sign us up for Latter-Day Sainthood, but their visit did remind us that their neighborly faith asks its votaries to be prepared, much as the Scout’s Motto does; their people tend to be prepared to weather hard times, even though it’s been a long time since their opponents put their ancestors to the sword and drove the survivors to Utah.

On survival, the best is the enemy of the good. It’s easy to get started by laying in a weekend’s, then a week’s, then a month’s worth of water and food and fuel. You may never need it (a fine thing, yes?), so use things that you can rotate through your daily life, not bizarre “survival” stuff. Interruptions in any normal traffic tend to be short; long interruptions are vanishingly rare. Preparing for a short loss of supply availability (or rule of law) will get you past most probable risks. If we descend into Mad Max Universe, yes, you may need to be like Tim (except, we hope, less stupid — imagine what happens to a guy who shoots his thumb nearly off in a situation without an EMT on hand and an ambulance and hospital on call). But that catastrophic outcome is a highly improbable one. Fire, flood, and extreme weather events are all much more likely than nuclear war or any of the environmental extinction-porn causes that generate over-CGI’d propaganda from Hollywood.

Now for the Gun Safety lesson

ND-shot-in-footThere was a guy years ago who loaded a .45 and put a webcam on it for years, waiting for it to “just go off.” It never did. (I think his hosting company went out of business, which ended the experiment).

However, we bet if you gave an empty, clear and inspected firearm to “Tim” here or to his gang of Dumbsday Preppers, it would not be long before “kaBANG!” echoed across the land, as Tim almost literally realized the last line of Kipling’s brilliant The Gods of the Copybook Headings.

And the lesson there is: guns are machines. It is incumbent on you to master your machine, and not be dictated to by it. Lest you wind up on TV making lame excuses for your lack of opposable thumbs.

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

Here’s a question for all y’all (or in our native New England turkey-herdish, for youse guys). Answer after the jump:

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

 
pollcode.com free polls

 

Continue reading

How To Sole-Source a Contract: ICE’s Next Pistol, S&W M&P

So, the gang at ICE want to buy a new pistol. The initial contract solicitation, a Request for Information, is here (the meat of it is in the bit called the Statement of Work [.pdf]).

They’re buying the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, even though that firearm is mentioned nowhere in the solicitation, which is ostensibly a request for several makers to provide guns for a run-off.

s_w_m_p

 

How do they get from a multi-vendor solicitation and, presumably, evaluation, to the apparently preselected M&P without mentioning either the pistol itself, or even the fact that “the fix is in”, in any of their documents?

Welcome to the wacky world of government contracting, where sole-sourcing a contract is generally forbidden — and common.

How do they do it? When they’ve decided what they want, they look at characteristics that set the preferred item they want apart from its competitors, and then they write those characteristics — whether they’re important, or not — into the Statement of Work.

For example, this SOW requires that the pistol have a polymer frame (so long, most SIGs, Berettas, etc), and that it have a consistent trigger pull on every shot (so long, every DA/SA automatic). At this point, only a plastic striker-fired gun or a DAO model is possible — and the trigger pull requirements rule out the DAO pistol (it has to be from 5-8.5 pounds pressure). So by this point you’re down to Glock, M&P, and Glock’s imitators. The solicitition demands an ambidextrous slide release: Tschuß! to the Austrian.

 

At this point, the new SIG P320 may still be in the running, because it has a striker-fired system, a polymer frame, and an ambi slide release. But the word we get suggests the fix is in; a few other detailed requirements like front sight configuration firm it up: and ICE’s solicitation writers have written a new-pistol acquisition document that complies strictly with the letter of the law, whilst turning the law on its head and sole-sourcing Smith pistols.

Now, they’re good pistols and most of the agents have fallen out of love with the current standard SIG in .40. (The agency has long been planning to revert to 9mm, as modern duty ammunition is almost as effective as .40 and the reduced blast and recoil translate to more hits on target, in the hands of real agents).

Of course, while we say, “they’re good pistols,” anyone who looks can find examples of agencies that had problems rolling them out. For example, NC Highway Patrol gave up on M&Ps in .357 SIG in 2013, and Texas DPS slow-rolled a rollout after having problems in early 2014.

Chris Costa also encountered a batch of M&Ps with abysmal accuracy problems last December, as reported at Monderno and on Chris’s Facebook page at the time. The photos show rounds keyholing at pistol distances!

Sunday Slippage

Yeah, uh, when we sat down at this computer we were going to write a quick Sunday post.

But we had a movie review, overdue from yesterday (and a production, actually, recommended by one of our commenters, so thank you, belatedly). And this happened and that happened and there was a plane building session and a grocery run and an exercise bike to fix and…

Well, it’s not as if we’d have said anything profound in this post if it had been up on time first thing in the morning, n’est-ce pas? 

It’s Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Noon will have to do.