Monthly Archives: February 2016

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 08

Tour d’Horizon is widely recognized to be French for “Hognose got stuck with a bunch of open tabs.” So let’s clear the spindle!

This week’s installment includes:

Guns

I don’t wanna work, I just wanna bang on my gun all day.

Beretta M17 Modular Handgun System Entry?

Everybody knows that Beretta’s MHS entry is a version of their often-shown, never-shipped APX pistol. According to TFB, these pictures obtained by French gun magazine RETEX show the actual entry. Note a lot of Glock-like features, as the spec was written with Glock and the SIG 320 in mind, and complete ambidextrous controls (except takedown lever, which may be reversible, and mag release, which is à la M9).

Beretta MHS APX

Beretta MHS APX open

Beretta MHS APX left

Beretta MHS APX kit

Cop M16 Goes Walkabout

A citizen driving a road in a southern state noticed a black rifle in a ditch, and called the cops. The citizen then waited on the scene with eyes on the firearm until the locals recovered it. One look at it, and the cops knew what they were dealing with: another cop’s gun.

lost strayed stole M16

It’s a military M16 (Marked AR-15 M-16, Property of US Government) that has been converted to semi-only by removing the auto sear and pin, and installing a semi fire control group. The armorer for Local PD knew that they had guns like this, but all theirs were accounted for, and this one had a rack number on the stock that they knew wasn’t on their guns.

The other department in the AO that had some of these ex-military, section 1033 “police militarization program” guns was the state highway patrol, so they dialed up that agency — where a red-faced cop had just reported coming up short one AR.

Trooper Red-Face’s supervisor showed up to claim the rifle, and the 1970s-vintage M16 is safely home in its rack. All concerned are writing reports, and Red-Face is probably never going to put anything on the roof or trunk of his cruiser again.

Oh, one last thing. Red-Face? Reportedly a rookie, in his probationary period. This is one way to make a lasting first impression.

The full details are at subguns.com and Bob had it at bearingarms.com first.

Thanks for the tip — you know who you are!

Army Has New Lube

Is it any good? Well, is it as good as FrogLube (which is coconut oil) (so is Seal1) or FireClean (which is canola oil)? Well,  according to the guys at Picatinny arsenal, speaking to KitUp, the Army’s new dry lube is all that, and isn’t going to get raped by some blogger with a spectrograph and a forebrain full of collegiate chemistry. “This is a high tech innovation…” and the warfighters are going to love it when they get it. Roll on that day. Since they’re not selling this to the public with SEAL promotional techniques, maybe it’s actually good stuff.

A Pox on your Serpa

We’re really, really, really tired of people defending this ND-inducing tupperware tub of fail and so we were delighted to see Tam reporting on a Karl Rehn takedown of a guy who should know better’s video in defense of one of his pub’s big advertisers. Read both of their respective Whole Things™, Tam for the snark and Karl for the content.

Yes, the military did buy lots of Serpas, one of the less advisable expenditure of unit funds. Our unit bought 84 of them. We threw 84 of them away before we had an ND, because we’re smart enough to learn from the other guy’s mistakes and don’t have to wait to make our own. We then bought 84 Safarilands, and didn’t ND with them. (Yes, you buy cheap holsters when you’re arming a whole company. If the geardos want upscale holsters, they buy their own because you could never get two of them to agree on one holster. The Safariland was a satisficing selection).

Can you run a Serpa holster without NDing? Sure. People do. Can you ND with any other holster? You bet your life. (Literally). But our point is this: safety is like a stack of swiss cheese, preventing an accident from getting through the holes because no hole goes through every slice. Safety is not having no holes, it’s managing risk so that the holes you can’t avoid don’t line up. The Serpa holster is one time you get to choose whether to have a hole in the slice or not.

(As God is our witness, Small Dog heard “swiss cheese” being typed, and came in, begging. He doesn’t do metaphor well).

Dumb Pols Throw Money at Not-So-Smart Guns

In Brooklyn, a guy with the laughable title of Borough President has decided he will bestow $1m public largesse on one of three local colleges to create a Smart Gun, by which he seems to mean one that only works when Government explicitly permits it to work.

We know a little about computers, a little about guns, and a lot about building stuff that has to work every time, like airplanes into which we place the proverbial single pink body (or whatever shad yours happens to be) for temporary safekeeping.

Jacob of NYSRPA has the details, and he and his commenters bring the snark this deserves.

Uber Official in NH Makes Excuses for Mass Murder, Blames Gun

Uber and former Administration official David Plouffe came to NH to try to forestall regulations that will cost the quasi-taxi company money. He began by saying nice things about the Uber driver who wigged out and shot a half-dozen people.

…highly rated driver and had passed a criminal background check, so unfortunately like so many of these instances we see around the country, it’s a deranged individual… and you cannot predict future behavior in that.

Shorter Plouffe: “Not our fault! Dindu nuffin.”

So what did he blame the shooting spree on?

 …this heinous gun violence…

Oh, definitely. Gun made him do it, radiating its rare eldritch waves into his ate-up head.

Just because David Plouffe knows he couldn’t be trusted with a firearm is no reason for him, and Uber, to want to take yours away.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way.

Who Needs Lion Hunters?

The animal rights extremists got their way and pretty much closed down lion hunting in Zimbabwe, a country that didn’t have a lot else going for it. The big losers? The lions, which will now be subjected to a massacre by whatever kind of professional shots they can find in Zim today.

Conservationists estimate about half of Zimbabwe’s wildlife has disappeared since President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned land began in 2000, but Bubye [Wildlife Preserve] has held on by attracting wealthy hunters whose fees support its wildlife work.

But last year’s shooting of Cecil, in a conservancy bordering Hwange National Park, sparked a huge backlash against big-game hunting, and bolstered a U.S. plan to ban trophy hunting imports.

Result: 200 surplus lions, that the state must now pay to have killed. Meanwhile, the surplus lions are cleaning out the other wildlife, even other big cats.

Bubye’s lions are decimating populations of antelope, along with other animals such as giraffe, cheetah, leopards and wild dogs, after the driest summer on record kept grasses low and made the small game easy targets.

Urban “animal lovers” and their organizations are to wildlife as… well, we can’t think of an analogy. Who else assists the object of their love to extinction?

All We’re Gonna Say about the Travis Haley ND Video

By now, if you’re not under a rock (or chained to a hospital rotation, you guys know who you are) you’ve probably seen the video where Travis Haley pops one off during a rehearsal from one of his Pantaeo Productions videos. If not, we’ll still be here when you get back.

Turns out — here’s the inside baseball — Travis and Pantaeo didn’t renew their contract, not, we think, for anything to do with that embarrassing video. After that, some Pantaeo associate leaked the video and has been canned (per Pantaeo, in that order), and both former partners have indulged in massive whinging and sniveling that is not what we expect from either party.

We’ve all laughed at the instructor who gave himself Gluteus Gloximus and put the video up on YouTube, but that’s a lot better than what Haley and Pantaeo did by burying this video until someone leaked it, and then all the ass-covering that both sides have  indulged in afterward.

You can learn a lot from Pantaeo videos. You can learn a lot from a class with Travis Haley. We’re disappointed in the self-serving, chicken-pluckin’ behavior of both sides in this.

To the rest of us: don’t ND. If you do ND — because even very experienced, safety-conscious guys like Haley can, if they slip up — put on your grown-up face and own it. And learn from it; you couldn’t ask for a better teaching point.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Chicks Dig Jerks. But Jerks Don’t Change

This guy is not actually Prince Charming, although the girl thought he was. She was mistaken.

Tellis and Chambers

Quinton Verdell Tellis, 27, was a career criminal with many property and violent crime arrests and convictions, who had just gotten out of prison in October, 2014 when he shacked up with Jessica Chambers, 19. The relationship was a brief one — it ended when Tellis murdered Chambers on 6 December 2014 — which he did by soaking her in accelerant and setting her on fire. She lived, briefly, in the agony that goes with being burnt over 98% of your body.

Tellis also is believed to have stabbed Taiwanese exchange student Meing-Chen Hsiao, 34, to death in her Louisiana apartment on 8 August 2014.

Chicongo’s Crims Setting Murder Records

murder_trend-2016While they’ve got a long way to go to break the all-time records set in the 20th Century, Chicago criminals are on track to double last year’s box score, which was already their Third Millennium record — so far.

A number of sources have the story, pick your favorite spin:

And our favorite: HeyJackass! Time to Panic?

Meanwhile, the city has a colorful report (.pdf) trying to blame the crime in their city on Indiana’s looser gun laws. But the report refutes itself. more crime guns originate right in Chicago than in Indiana.

 In the Ongoing Soap Opera, The Perils of Kathleen

With Pennsylvania AG (and anti-gun crusader) Kathleen Kane having withdrawn from her re-election campaign to fight felony charges, Korrupt Kathleen is now facing impeachment. Her true constituency (the Democrat newsmen and editorialists of the Keystone State) have swung into action to try to spare her the strain (and, not concidentally, spare her legal defense fund the outlays):

Kane faces trial on the corruption charges this summer, but is widely expected to plead out to misdemeanors. The Democrat candidate to replace her, Josh Shapiro, is a career politician and shares her passion for anti-gun activism.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields.

Long Distance is the Next Best Thing to Being There

Because we’re sure the SAS trooper would have happily strangled this particular teacher, but there was a certain raffishness in the way that he interrupted the Beheading 101 class with a .338-delivered beheading of his own.

No Fair Hunting Over Bait!

The SAS had another trick up their sleeve: ISIL decoys.

The sneaky move involves dressing the soldiers up in uniform, posing them convincingly and arming them with real weapons.

ISIS scouts and local contacts take the bait and inform their allies, who then move in for the kill.

In one single incident where 12 jihadis took the bait, and were gunned down by SAS snipers.

Yes, the last sentence is missing something (or maybe has an extra “where” in there. But hey, they’re the ones who are English; we just use their language.

A Guy Can Get Killed Doing This… And So Can a Gal

Out the door of the jump plane she went — and a second later, SGT Shaina Shmigel of an engineering battalion in the 82nd Airborne was dead. What killed her? A misrouted static line (and an underweight ruck/low-weight jumper combination that this article does not mention, but that the accident report does) made her a towed jumper, and a second later she was hit by the next jumper, breaking her neck. The jumper that hit her was unhurt.

Our own observation is that the T-11 chute is having some teething problems. Not really fair to compare it to the T-10 it replaced, with which the Army has over 60 years of experience. The T-10 was rapidly developed during the Korean War when the WWII-era T-7 proved to be a killer at the high jump speeds of the new C-82 and C-119 aircraft.

Veterans’ Issues

ITEM: The Surgical Nurse was $#!+faced!

Here’s the key bit from the news story, from Wilkes-Barre, PA:

Asked during a police interview why he thought he was being questioned, 59-year-old registered nurse Richard J. Pieri allegedly answered, “I guess it has something to do with me being drunk on call,” according to The Times Leader.

He now says he forgot he was on call, got drunk at a casino, and showed up knee-walkin’, commode-huggin’ drunk to the hospital — where he assisted in surgery.

The patient has since been readmitted for complications.

Are we ready to disband this thing yet?

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

Game Over, Man

What happens when you are so immersed in the gaming world that it is the world? Here’s a new take on an age-old science fiction dystropian trope (does that make it a dystrope?), visually gorgeous and sociologically as creepy as A Clockwork Orange. 

You do want to watch this puppy full size. Nine minute short, including titles.

Baaaas! The Train, the Traiiinnn.

If the future is dystopian, let’s bring the best of the past to new life. In Britain. where a sudden outbreak of nationalism is threatening the Brussels Eurocrats’ attempt to finally complete the task that Philip of Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler all failed at, one of the great achievements of 20th Century British Engineering just hit the road after a long restoration. Rail road, that is:

flying-scotsman-vi_3582510kThe Flying Scotsman was the first train in England to break the 100-mph barrier (and the Brits say the first in the world, although given the speeds of early 20th-Century American rail it doesn’t seem plausible). In any event, it’s got nothing  whatsoever to do with guns, but it’s a beautiful machine, operated by a crew that grins through the soot (one of the unromantic things about steam), and lovingly documented in this photo essay. They don’t seem entirely clear on what they’re going to do with in now that they’ve restored it, but they’re Britons; they’ll press on regardless.

Hognose’s Laws

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_079Hognose is not just another pretty face. He is also a law-giver, in the tradition of Hammurabi, Moses, Napoleon, Newton, Murphy, and Peter. It strikes us that there are enough of these laws that they ought by rights to be collected in a single place; for now, it is this Post. If more Laws are revealed unto him by the ultimate Giver of All Laws, then perhaps we shall make it a permanent Page.

Without further ado, the Codex Nasicus:

  • Hognose’s Law of Wars of Identity: Defines the possible outcomes of a “War of Identity” — a war where the two sides are not fighting over anything material, but over what one or both of them are A War of Identity™ has three potential conclusions:
    1. One side defeats and exterminates the other;
    2. One side defeats and assimilates the other;
    3. The war reaches an Equilibrium of Violence that is acceptable to both sides.Previous citations: 1 Nov 2013 at 1100 (this has the most thorough explanation); 7 Feb 2014 at 2311; 28 Oct 2015 at 1800.
  • Hognose’s Law of Hyphenated Names: A person with a hyphenated last name cannot display more than half the effective IQ that they would have available if they were using either half of the name. (Exception: if your ancestors actually show up hyphenated in more than one Queen Victoria’s Birthday Honours Lists. In that case, you’re still dumb, but nobly so).
  • Hognose’s Five Laws of Criminality:
    1. For some men, “crime” is just flat their job. For others, “criminal” is their identity. Good luck expecting anything different from them.
    2. The best guide to future behavior is past behavior. (Exercise for the reader: What 8-year-old in your third grade class was definitely destined for prison? How old was he when he first went?)
    3. The only thing that has ever made a child molester stop doing it is sustained cessation of respiration, blood flow, and brain wave activity. This is true for a lot of sex criminals, too. (Real ones, not guys who said something nasty about a fat chick at their college).
    4. No one ever stops after one crime. He only stops when he is stopped.
    5. Most crimes go unsolved, but all criminals get caught sooner or later.

First seen here on 2 July 14 @ 1400.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Exhaust

Mishap vehicle with a makeshift memorial to the dead, in Passaic, NJ.

Mishap vehicle with a makeshift memorial to the dead, in Passaic, NJ.

If you just assume that nothing ever threatens your life, and all you have to do is take care of whatever discomfort threatens you, Nemesis may have a terrible surprise in store for you.

It only took 20 minutes for Felix Bonilla’s whole family to receive a fatal dose of carbon monoxide, as he worked to shovel the family Mazda out of a snowbank last month.

Inside a snow and iced packed car in Passaic, New Jersey a mother, 23-year-old Sashalynn Rosa, and her one-year-old, Messiah took their last breaths as carbon monoxide filled their vehicle.

“It’s hard to lose them like that,” says boy’s grandfather, Felix Bonilla.

His son, Felix Bonilla, Jr. had been digging out the family’s car Saturday night while his girlfriend and their two children sat inside to stay warm. With the car’s engine on, and its tail pipe clogged by snow, the odorless, invisible gas seeped into the car in minutes, killing the mother and her baby boy. The little girl also unconscious, was kept alive by paramedics and a bystander who was not afraid to get involved.

“I tried to help the girl, and I put my mouth in. Girls and paramedics worked so hard, so hard to save the kid,” said eyewitness Isabel Carmona.

The little girl, Saniyah remained in very critical condition at a hospital in Paterson on Monday.

Her grandfather is hanging on to a thread of hope she may survive.

“The doctors say they don’t think she’s going to make it. Doctor says she has a slight chance to make it,” says Bonilla.

Friends say the father, when not working at his job at a restaurant depot, spent all his time with his children. Eyewitness News told he’s been by his surviving child’s bedside ever since the tragedy. His father says his son is devastated.

via Mother and child die of carbon monoxide poisoning in Passaic, New Jersey after snow blocks car tailpipe | abc7ny.com.

The news got worse for Bonilla. The three-year-old girl who was alive had irreversible brain damage and brain function never returned after several days on mechanical life support. In the end, she, too, was pronounced dead.

Carbon monoxide is an insidious threat. It is colorless and odorless, and for reasons of fundamental chemistry, forms a more attractive bonding partner with red blood cells than elemental oxygen. The result is death by oxygen deprivation; it is not an agonizing or painful death; the victim slips off, first into a sleep from which he or she can recover, and then to that sleep from which there is no return.

There is not much good to be found in this tragedy, but the victims did not suffer; and they can serve as a lesson to the rest of us. Inside the warm car is not the best place to be in heavy snow.

Not the Face, Not the Face!

The wind blew unsteadily up the valley. Not wind, really, more… at home you would call it a breeze. Here, in a place that felt like the geographic center of Afghanistan (and almost was), a word like breeze, with its pleasant freight of spring days and sailboat play, felt out of place. And somehow breeze was a day word, not right for a moonless night. So what’s the right word?

Absence of the right word left an abscess in the mind, an irritating hole in the sentence that none of the test words that came to mind seemed to patch properly.

There was a rustle in the night, a deer in the leaves, another soul in the sheets; but there were no leaves here, where shortsighted, needy humanity had denuded the landscape of every inflammable root and branch in winters forgotten by every living thing. There were no deer, although the King’s hunting and fishing preserve at Ajar was nearby, nothing but a sole, elderly,  dog-loyal caretaker had made even a futile effort to preserve it. There were no sheets, for it was time to be on watch, and no one was looking out for the souls of the whole task force but one man and the ANA kandak’s two dogs, one in their main camp, and one in the observation post on the stony summit to the east. To be sure, the Afghans were supposed to post a watch as well, but judicious night-vision use had told all of us all we needed to know about that: it was a responsibility honored more in the breach. The outpost’s vicious, abused mastiff was what they counted on to wake them, whether the approaching threat was the ancient enemy, angular Pathans with ready grins and robust knives with t-reinforced spines, or US SF who would chide them for the lack of security.

It was hard to generate enthusiasm for the grunt work of security in a race that accepts having one’s throat slit by night as just one of the breaks — “if allah wills it,” with a shrug. So security was a responsibility that devolved, de facto, on the Americans, one ODB and one to three ODAs from different Groups, states, and cultures.

The diversity of the Americans melted to insignificance against the foreignness of the natives. They were the dies that forged us as a unit.

They weren’t bad, and some of them were outstanding fellows, those Afghans. But the most westernized and cosmopolitan of them was very different from us. We loved them, but as with the Montagnards, just when you thought they understood them something happened that made you realize you would never understand them.

Even if you died for them.

And something was moving. It was rustling. It made no sense.

Time for a 360º scan with the NVGs. As high priority as we were, we still had either-or night vision googles or weaponsights. Most of us passed up the PVS-14 for PVS-7 goggles, not the absoute state of the art, but for a B-Team averaging well over 20 years’ service, who all remembered when you had one miserable PVS-5 per team and were glad to get it, we were rolling in clover, night-vision-wise.

Nothing.

So what was making that noise? It was closer. Is there some cover that a lean, turbaned warrior could be slinking his way through? Was there — –

Aaauuuuggggghhh

My face! Get it off my face! My –“ and the scream ended in a strangled gurgle.

An alien on the face? OK, this is a dream, aliens are not real, you’re not in Afghanistan, you’re awake now. Hell of a way to wake up and what is still attacking your face?

Ah. Good morning, Small Dog. Thought your human had slept in long enough, did you?

You would think the critter would know by now that tongue-in-nostrils is not the way said human likes to transition from REM sleep to fully awake. You’d think.

A Rare G.43 Variant

Unlike the armies of the USA and the USSR, the Deutsche Wehrmacht never tried to make a semi-automatic or automatic rifle their standard, and most Germans carried the venerable Mauser 98 bolt-action rifle until V-E Day. But they supplemented their Mausers with all kinds of other small arms, from the submachine guns common during the war to the assault rifles changing infantry armament at the end. One of these supplements was the semi-automatic K.43 and G.43 rifle (the same weapon was known by both names, we’ll call it G.43 for the rest of this post). This rifle fired 7.92 x 57mm Mauser ammunition from a 10-round box magazine. This is a standard G.43 (image from the Imperial War Museum, London):

g43_from_iwm

The G.43 was a gas-operated rifle using a tilting bolt, and was the product of several years of experimentation and preliminary models. (In the video embedded at this link, you can see Ian and Karl shoot a G.42 and one of its predecessors, the G.41(m), in a match).

As it was developed midwar, new developments were readily combat-tested, usually on the Eastern Front. The magazine was detachable, and in combat an empty magazine could be replaced with a fresh one, or reloaded with Mauser chargers, at the soldier’s option. Today, these standard but less-common German infantry weapons are collector pieces selling for several times the price of a K.98k, and the rare scoped versions are higher yet. But we’re going to show you a very rare variant indeed:

G43 in 792 x 33

What you’re looking at is a G.43 factory-built to accept the 7.92 x 33mm kurz, the MP-42/43/44/St.G.44 magazine, and with a selector switch. It was called the G.43 DFE, for Dauerfeuereinrichtung, or automatic-fire equipment. While it looks like it would have been a one-off or few-off prototype, Russian researchers found evidence that it was combat-tested near Leningrad (the Communist-era name for St. Petersburg), and, in fact, in the same area where the ur-assault rifle, the MkB.42(h), was tested.

The evidence? 7.92 kurz ammunition packed in Mauser-like chargers. Most often, 7.92 x 33 was packed loose in boxes.

Relic found near Leningrad battle site.

Relic found near Leningrad battle site.

These could, however have been used to reload magazines out of the firearm, like the chargers used with the US M16 or the Soviet AK-74. There’s Evidence for that proposition? There is an extant and known 7.92 kurz charger that is used to load magazines, and contains a wide area that attaches to the mag.

MP43 assault rifle ammo in chargers

In any event, production of these firearms was not extensive. The illustration above (from a book by S.B. Monetchikov, although the only book by him we know of — and have on order — is History of the Russian Assault Rifle) shows a firearm with a two-digit plus-a-leading-zero serial number, possibly 019. With a few more serial numbers we could run the Panther Tank Problem to estimate total production, but we can’t do it with one data point.

Monetchikov’s caption, po-Anglicky:

7.93 x 33 automatic rifle G.43 Dauerfeuereinrichtung (DFE). Probable designation model 1944. This firearm was equipped with the detachable 30-round magazine from the MP-43.

A close-up in Monetchikov shows the selector at the left rear of the receiver cover.

G43 in 792 x 33 action

Caption, quick and dirty meatball translation:

Close-up of the 7.92mm automatic rifle G.43 Dauerfeuereinrichtung (DFE) for the “short” cartridge 7.92 x 33. It contains a fire-control mechanism that enables both single and automatic fire. Probable designation model 1944 by the Walther firm. On the left side of the action is the switch to select mode of fire.

The G.43 DFE is also covered briefly in Senich’s The German Assault Rifle: 1935-1945, in both the 1987 hardback and 2008 paperback editions.

This whole discussion took place on the guns.ru forum back in 2007. (Pretty poor google translation). It would be interesting to see what else has been unearthed (literally) by those investigators since then.

Execution by Hanging

tyburn1Marriage doesn’t always work out. For Tom and Sarah Wilford, it really didn’t work out: within a week Tom had stabbed Sarah to death. Since he didn’t do this in Chicago in 2016, he didn’t have the ACLU to run interference with him; he did it in London in 1752, and he was tried, convicted, sentenced and hanged with the sort of vigor Britons brought to these kinds of things in Victorian days.

Laws having recently been reformed, Tom was spared the indignity of gibbeting after his hanging. They had another indignity in mind, as the Court made clear:

Thomas Wilford, you stand convicted of the horrid and unnatural crime of murdering Sarah, your wife. This Court doth adjudge that you be taken back to the place from whence you came, and there to be fed on bread and water till Wednesday next, when you are to be taken to the common place of execution, and there hanged by the neck until you are dead; after which your body is to be publicly dissected and anatomised, agreeable to an Act of Parliament in that case made and provided; and may God Almighty have mercy on your soul.

via History of British judicial hanging.

Tom was duly hanged at Tyburn, where the authorities had erected a three-sided gallows in an attempt to deal with the essential problem of hanging, for a society with a long list of undesirables to dispose of on any given day: hanging’s low throughput. After the hanging, Tom became an anatomical training aid for novice doctors, which was the usual disposition of a condemned man’s mortal remains; it’s not as if a consecrated cemetery would take them.

When you got sentenced to death in 18th Century London, they didn’t stooge about with appeals: you were dancing the Tyburn Jig two days after sentencing, unless you were fortunate enough to be sentenced on a Friday; then, they’d hold you over for Monday rather than profane the Sabbath with you.

tyburn tree

That website, Capital Punishment UK, has quite a few interesting tales of the highway robbers and pickpockets who got to dance the air jig, along with the murderers who now monopolize the extreme judicial sanction in most nations.  It also has a great deal of information on the practical application of hanging. How far does a 125 lb. person have to drop for a good clean neck-snap? A table there will tell you. You never know when a fact like that is an essential ingredient in mission accomplishment.

The death penalty in practice, at least in Georgian times, had a safety valve. Perpetrators of property crimes normally would have their death sentence commuted to transportation. (Murderers? They hung. Why ship that kind of problem to a colony to deal with?) One famous woman pickpocket was transported, but wound up hanged because she came back and resumed her prior trade. (The penalty, in fact, for returning from transportation was… death by hanging). Women were somewhat uncommon guests on the gallows, then and always. Violent and career crime is now, and was then, primarily a guy thing, despite feminists’ efforts to get their Fair Share of every profession.

It’s our firm belief that it is the duty of a healthy society to excise its human cancer cells, and that a robust and rapid death penalty is one means to that end. This is not an idea that has had any currency among the British elite for fifty years or more, and one that is nearly as outré among American bien-pensants. But no good has come of death penalty abolition, or even the sort of death penalty obstruction that is the coin of such murder groupies as the Atheist Criminal Lovers’ Union.

The death penalty is not cruel or unusual, and, indeed, it is the only humane response to barbarism and depravity.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have a Panoply of Edged Weapons

cleaver robberYes, that’s a meat-cutter’s cleaver in the hands of prolific armed robber Craig Adams, who committed a violent armed robbery every other day or so for a month — in London, where guns are outlawed. So he did it using the cleaver, knives, and even a sword.

The lack of firearms didn’t seem significantly to impede his criminal career. Only the rough knuckles of John Law on his collar did that.

Since their gun control is working so well, English authorities are trying to figure out what a London without knives would be like. If it saves one life, isn’t putting the nation on a diet of baby-food worth it?

Craig Adams was jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to 13 counts of robbery and three counts of burglary.

The 33-year-old, of no fixed abode, was jailed at the Inner London Crown Court after he admitted his crimes.

This shocking CCTV video shows the criminal brandishing a knife to rob two of the 13 shops.

Knife. Stabby thing #1.

He enters what appears to be an off licence and pulls out a weapon as the cashier calmly hands over cash from the till.

Then he’s seen in a takeaway and looks to be ordering food before he pulls a cleaver from his jacket inside pocket.

Cleaver. Stabber #2.w

Adams waves it at the woman behind the till in a frightening scene as she goes to open the register.

He targeted employees working late into the night, forcing them to hand over cash from the till using a number of different weapons including various knives, a large machete, a meat cleaver and even a large sword.

So we’re now up to at least five different stabby/slashy things: knives (plural), machete, cleaver, sword.

Detectives previously issued two CCTV appeals showing the terrifying robberies in an attempt to identify him.

He was identified as the suspect after his palm print was lifted from Foyles Bookstore on the South Bank, London.

The 13 offences were then linked by investigators using “super-recognisers” who had reviewed clips of the robberies on a Met database showing suspects committing offences.

Sherlock Holmes? No, the “super-recognisers.” Are those men, machines, or software constructs? We see some of the claims for facial recognition, and we’re reminded of the heyday of bertillonage.

Knife robber Craig-AdamsAdams was arrested on November 5 last year after he ran from police while robbing a Subway in Tulse Hill. Dog handlers were at the scene and Police Dog Bruno found the sword used by Adams that had been thrown over a fence

via Man jailed for seven years after he committed 13 knife point robberies in one month – Mirror Online.

So, “super-recognisers” and all, this criminal scantwit remained at large until he committed a robbery under the noses of the police, or more to the point, under the long, picky noses of the police dogs. 

And assuming that one does all one’s assigned time in a British nick (seems unlikely), he’ll be 40 when he gets out, right in his peak robbing prime.

No one has said what he did with the take from these 16 crimes (and, no doubt, others for which he has not been charged), but he had no traces of wealth on him, and in approximately 100% of North American robbery sprees like this, the crime take is immediately blown on alcohol, drugs, or, as the criminal embraces the conjunctive power of and, alcohol and drugs.

Mess Up and Move Up: VA Plays Musical Bad Execs

VA-veterans-affairsThere’s a difference between what the VA does with bad and failed executives and the childhood game “Musical Chairs.” But it;s not what you think. You see, in the VA, when the music stops, nobody is missing a chair. A very, very plush chair.

Well, except for the veterans. And it’s not like they count.

Take failed, incompetent St Louis DVA Hospital head Rima Nelson: the latest of her three transfers in a few years was to a do-nothing job in the Philippines, but she keeps the same fat salary she had as mismanager of the massive STL hospital and its thousands of professional and support staff.

In the Phillipines, the cost of housing is a lot lower, so Nelson’s $160k salary and her undisclosed, but probably huge relocation bonus stretch, if that’s teh word, farther. But wait! For Nelson there is no cost of housing, because one of the perks is a free home.

Are you a taxpayer? Of course you are. Did you have any idea you were this generous to the nation’s worst?

Rima Nelson disappeared from public view after the St. Louis Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital she managed potentially exposed 1,800 patients to HIV, was closed twice for serious medical safety issues and ranked dead last in patient satisfaction.

But Nelson wasn’t fired. Her VA superiors hid her literally on the other side of the Earth in 2013 at the department’s only foreign facility, a seldom-used clinic inside the palatial U.S. Embassy in the Philippines capital city of Manila.

She resides in a government-provided condo and gets the same $160,000 salary she made in St. Louis, which allows her to live like royalty in a country where the average person makes only $2,500 a year.

Why is there a VA facility in Manila? Well, it’s to take care of all the Filamerican forces who suffered so in the Bataan Death March and other battles in the Philippine Islands in 1941, and were imprisoned until 1944. Of course, those guys were born in the teens and twenties, and the few survivors among them are nonagenarians and centenarians. But they still exist, for now, and it means a pretty good job for Rima Nelson.

And really, isn’t that what the VA is for? The comfort, convenience, and self-aggrandizement of its employees?

The Manila VA office provides outpatient care and disability checks to the few surviving Filipino World War II veterans who fought alongside Americans against the Japanese. The occasional American veteran who happens to be in the country can also get outpatient care in the Manila VA facility.

The Government Accountability Office questioned in 2011 whether the office was still needed since the last members of the WWII generation of vets were rapidly dying.

Oh, those cheapskates at the GAO. What do they want, Rima to have to decant herself into the Dreaded Private Sector? And actually work for a living? Perish the thought.

On Monday, The Daily Caller News Foundation published a story and database documenting VA’s “bad bosses merry-go-round,” in which the department attempts to solve problems at one facility by bringing in a director who is often fleeing problems at another facility. The merry-go-round exists because civil service rules make it costly and time-consuming to fire top government managers.

Nelson — one of nearly 100 top VA managers TheDCNF found were transferred between three or more states within eight years — became director of the St. Louis facility in February 2009. In mid-2010, its dental unit shut down for a time after the hospital notified 1,800 vets that issues with sterilizing dental equipment could have exposed them to HIV and hepatitis.

The other side of these transfers is the VA’s unbelievably generous moving allowances for senior executives, which allow the executive to move and still pocket hundreds of thousands as an off-the-books bonus. As the song that those 90-something year-old vets might remember went, “Nice work if you can get it.”

via VA Hid Failed Hospital Chief In Manila | The Daily Caller.

On Nelson’s watch, the St. Louis DVA Medical Center blew off sterile precautions, spreading HIV and hepatitis through the veteran community through sheer indolence and indifference. Rosiak writes:

An inspection had found that dental equipment was “visibly dirty post-sterilization … Staff was not familiar with relevant VHA guidance.” A re-inspection found that some of the same issues “still existed 6 months later.”

Then in February, 2011, the hospital stopped performing surgeries for more than a month after surgical trays were found to be rusted. Nelson said the department had no clear explanation for how it happened.

Another follow-up “determined that routine environment of care (EOC) inspections did not adequately identify and resolve outstanding deficiencies.”

“The EMS cleaning log reflected missed cleanings of the area, and our inspectors’ surgical booties were dirty when they left the area,” inspectors wrote.

dithers_fires_dagwoodFortunately for Small Dog, he is not a veteran (even though he is from St. Louis), because no thinking human would send a dog to this place, or considering giving a manager like Nelson anything but a boot out the door, Mr Dithers-style.

But Nelson was not fired; the VA seems to be preening a bit that she wasn’t, as is more usual for poor performers, promoted. 

However, someone was fired. Not a member of the too-big-to-jail Senior Executive Service. Not a too-big-to-fail manager, or a too-bent-to-ever-straighten-out supervisor, or even a too-lazy-to-sterilize-medical-instruments laborer.

So who was fired? C’mon, think it through, you know the answer. Lowly technician Earlene Johnson, whose crime was reporting Nelson’s systematic avoidance of having things cleaned and sterilized. Yep, they fired none of the bad actors. They just fire the whistleblower. 

Is it time to zero out the VA’s budget line yet?

There are almost 400 Senior Executive Service managers in the department drawing fat six-figure salaries and matching benefits packages. Almost none of them are veterans, whom the agency actively excludes from positions. And the VA’s most important object — judging from what they do, not what they say — is ensuring that each of these underperformers continue to live a life Caligula would envy.

Here’s a radical idea: give the veterans’ benefits to the veterans, and eliminate the hundreds and thousands of self-serving middlemen.

Is it finally time? Or will next week reveal the VA sounding like Moby Dick to new depths of failure and depravity?

Auction: It’s On!

Crud. We meant to write about this one, and it’s on us, so we are giving you no advanced warning (well, maybe 1 hour, because we think they kick off at 0900 Central time), for which transgression we apologize: nostra maxima culpa. And all that.

But the nice people (and occasional furnishers of fine firearms for the Hogsafe, deep in the Hogcave naturally) Rock Island Auctions are running a, to steal an expression from Donald Trump, Yuuuuuge auction this week, with incredible amounts of cool stuff. It doesn’t matter what you like, from affordable needs-rewatting Class III to minty classic Winchesters and Colts from frontier days, to the most obscure oddities from the nether reaches of collecting, they’ve got it.

The auction will fun, ah, run, for four days, 25-28 February so it kicks off this morning. The lots are listed in a catalog that’s the size of a small-town’s telephone book (for those of you of a certain age who remember these things).

You can browse or search the catalog online. Looking for something specific?

Some Cool Lots

Here’s a set of three Ruger semi-auto carbines. We’re interested because of the first one, a Ruger Mini-14 in a folding stock that was one of several kinds available in the aftermarket prior to the AWB of 1994, and that never returned to the market afterward. It folds like an MP40 or AKMS.

three Ruger carbines2

There’s also a mint NIB Mini and a Ruger .44 Magnum carbine, a once-popular deer gun in these parts. It’s like a 10-22 that came back from boot camp with a deeper voice and more serious gravamen. All three guns are mass-produced 20th Century firearms, but if you like Rugers….

Here’s a Collector Prize and Collector no-Prize in One Lot. Everybody knows that the first double-action pistol was the Walther PP of 1929. Everybody is wrong. (And yeah, we’ve written that first sentence in earnest before). There are at least two prior claimants, a limited-production Russian firearm that’s mentioned in old books, and Alois Tomiška’s Little Tom pistols. The Little Tom was ahead of its time, as a DAO pocket pistol made even before World War I. Tomiška was a Czech, which meant nothing in the age of Empires; his state was the Habsburg Empire. Most Little Toms were made in Vienna (and are so marked: Wien auf Deutsch), but some earlier ones were made in Austria’s Bohemian province and are marked by the Prague proof house. This one? It’s in poor condition — for one thing, the trigger has not reset properly, suggesting a smith’s attention is needed — but it’s innocent of any markings whatsoever, and will provide someone with an interesting research project (as well as bragging rights for DA primacy over all us Walther collectors).

Little Tom and Friend

The other gun in the lot is apparently a FN1900 copy, a Mélior made by Robar et Cie., a prolific Liège manufacturer of small pistols, most of them copies of other designs, and not much of a collector piece. But it’s worth eating the Robar to own the Little Tom.

Of course, if you want just a Little Tom and in better condition, and will settle for a Wiener Waffenfabrik marked pistol from post-WWI Austria, Rock Island can hook you up there, too:

Little Tom Wiener Waffenfabrik 02

I didn’t check the calibers on these collector pieces, but I’d expect them to be .32 ACP/7.65 Browning caliber.

Want an NFA Gunsmith’s Special? Here’s a DEWAT registered Chauchat for relatively short money. As we understand it, this can be restored legally to firing condition, if it can be restored physically, with some documents filed with BATFE.

DEWAT Chauchat L

These DEWATs used to be sold from ads in gun magazines, just the thing to decorate your hunting camp or rumpus room (remember that term? That’s an easier way to date you than cutting off a leg and counting rings). You were expected to make up your own war story.

“The Sho-sho kept jamming, and the Boche were still coming… so I choked up on the barrel and began breaking skulls. Line drive to right field! Take that, Fritz. Then and there, I vowed I’d bring the thing back in my duffel bag and hang it on the wall, so I’d never forget.”

DEWAT Chauchat

Some of these old 1950s-60s DEWATS were only mildly demilled — they used to plug barrels with lead, for instance — and are an easy fix. That this one has not been fixed to date suggests that it might not be one of those.

Still, who buys a Chauchat to shoot? (Well, Ian or Karl would. They’d enter two-gun matches with it). But it’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it? Still, an 8mm Chauchat exuding World War I history, likely to go under the hammer for under $10k.

One last item: Three Chinese Mongrels. Two somewhat inept copies (of a Beretta and an FN 1900) and a Type 31 which is alleged to refer to 31 years of Chicom rule, but that would be 1980, and China didn’t make this in 1980. We’re guessing 31 years since Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Revolution, or 1950.

Three Chinese Copies

Don’t like these lots we’ve selected? There are over 9000 firearms in over 4000 lots, so you’re probably going to find something you want. Whether you can afford it — well, that’s between you and your next Roman numeral’d Plaintiff.

RIA’s  Own Tips on Maximizing your Auction Fortunes

RIA sends out an engaging email newsletter to its customers — you can sign up at the site, it’s free — and a recent one included these tips for getting the most out of a firearms auction. This is specific to RIA, but some of the tips apply when you’re working with other premium auctioneers, as well, and they get you in mind of thinking strategically about your auction bids.

That way you don’t ever take something out of the box and ask yourself, Why did I….? And you don’t ever see a hammer price and go, Dang I’d have topped that!

5 Bidding Tips to Help You Win the Guns You Want
1. Know Your Bid Increments
Lots of people already know that we used fixed bidding increments. So lots of people also know that instead of bidding $900, you should bid $1,000 so that the competing bidder has to make a larger jump in their bid. Many don’t make that jump, leaving you the winner. But many sealed bidders bid $1,000 (or $500, or $2,000) thinking that strategy will work the same as it does in live bidding. In fact, more people bid on round, even amounts than anything else, leaving many ties that are often broken by who bid first. Want to give yourself an advantage? Bid an odd number ($1,100 in this example), or consider adding a “+1” or “+2” to your bid. It just might be the difference you need.
2. Go Finish to Start, Not Start to Finish
Our catalogs are huge and many bidders don’t get through an entire one before finding the guns they want to win. Many guns on the third and fourth day of auction have fewer bids than those in the first two days. Take advantage! You could even start searching the catalog from the back to the front to help put some more collector firearms in your safe.
3. Early Bird Gets the Worm
As mentioned earlier, in the event of a tying bids, the winner will be the earliest of the bids placed. So get those bids in NOW for the third and fourth day items, because the early bird always gets the worm.
4. Use Bidder (Outbid) Notifications
We send these out 4 – 5 times before an auction, letting you know if you are outbid, tied, or the high bidder on an item. If outbid, This allows you to either increase your bid, or find a like item in a different lot. We will send our next notification later today and our last notification for this auction goes out on Friday, so there’s still time to take advantage of the outbid notifications.
5. Check Your Emails
Not only is this important before an auction with the outbid notifications, it can be very strategic to do so during an auction. After each auction day we send out notifications telling you if your bids were successful or not. If you didn’t get one firearm, there are often many like items in the following days of auction that you can still win. The bidding is FAR from over once the auction starts!

Another American Anti-Tank Rifle — Wait, Two of Them!

No sooner had we written that the T1E1 Anti-Tank Rifle of 1940-44 was “the only US AT Rifle” when we saw another AT Rifle mentioned in passing in a very interesting Bruce Canfield article on Winchester’s Light Rifle. (Hat tip, TFB). We got the notion to look it up and found this AT Rifle… but, while it’s a Winchester Anti-Tank rifle not the one Bruce mentioned. He referred to a WWII rifle that was a scaled up version of David M. Williams’s short-stroke gas-piston action.  This is a WWI bolt gun, and a strange one it is.

The Winchester Pugsley .50 AT Rifle

pugsleys__50_winchester_at_rifle

The gun in the photo (which comes from Houze’s Winchester Repeating Arms Company, where this oddball is briefly covered on pp. 189-192) is clearly not a finished work, but a development mule.

Edwin Pugsley. Detail of photo in Houze, p. 223.

Edwin Pugsley. Detail of photo in Houze, p. 223.

The firearm was designed by Edwin Pugsley, an important designer for Winchester in the first half of the 20th Century. Pugsley did not have the celebrity profile of Williams; he seems to have been quietly productive, a kind man with a mischievous personality. He rose over the years into engineering management; Winchester’s success shows he was a good selection, even if he’ll never have a biopic, a Bureau of Prisons history, or anecdotes about threatening co-workers’ lives over professional disagreements. He did have some remarkable friends, incuding Carl Swebelius of High Standard (Winchester’s toolroom wound up making several prototypes for Swebelius on the strength of this friendship) and cartoonist Charles Addams, who modeled a recurring character in his “Addams Family” strip (which ran in the New Yorker) on his friend.

pugsley

Returning to the rifle itself, its appearance is more redolent of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, than anything you’d expect to see from Winchester. The bare finish and exposed mechanicals show that it’s a long way from being ready to go to the Western Front, and it appears to have been put away when war’s end froze it in this state of arrested development. It’s clearly meant to have a bipod or tripod. What looks like it might be cooling fins actually appears to  be a spring, associated with the gun mount, and acting to moderate recoil. Assuming the .50 round intended here was the .50 BMG, the weapon appears to have a 10-round magazine and be approximately the same size as a modern Barrett.

The pistol grip, which is styled like that of an M1911 service pistol, also serves as the operating handle: it has a 90º counterclockwise throw, then the gunner slides it back and the top-mounted magazine presents the next round. Here’s an image from the patent for this unusual feature.

pugsleys_at_rifle_patent

The tubular receiver is billet steel. The strange pistol-grip/bolt has two forward locking lugs, and aft, has two widened bearing areas that slide on the inside of the tubular receiver. The extractor seems to be modeled on Mauser practice, and the ejector appears to be welded or otherwise secured inside the left side of the receiver to eject spent casings (or unfired cartridges) out the right-side ejection port.

The quantity built cannot be many, and it does not seem to have been ready for field trials at the time development was called off. Houze’s verdict was that “The anti-tank rifle, designed in 1918 by Edwin Pugsley, is of note more for its outlandish appearance than its mechanics.”1

But wait! That leaves the Williams gun still hanging out there, and we can’t have that.

The Winchester Williams .50 AT Rifle

Williams was an interesting character, an ex-con who became a firearms designer (couldn’t happen under today’s laws; ATF would yank one’s 07 FFL for hiring him) and had his own biopic (with Jimmy Stewrt, no less). The biopic is great fun but rather disconnected from real life, and definitely all wet about Williams’s design efforts — he did not design the M1 Carbine, and was not on the team that developed it. The Carbine only uses his patented gas system. What he did design, though, was a semi- and full-automatic action that scaled rather readily from .30 carbine to .30-06 to .50 BMG, and that was ultimately developed in four versions (with few cross-version interchangeable parts, but complete commonality of design and mechanical principles).

The four versions were carbine, rifle, automatic rifle (a BAR competitor that probably deserves its own post), and anti-tank rifle, the one that concerns us today. The principal virtues of the Williams design were light weight and simplicity compared to its competitors — even its carbine version was lighter and simpler than the light, simple M1 designed by another team at Winchester, using Williams’s patented gas piston. The Winchester Automatic Rifle was pounds lighter than the BAR, and the semi-auto service rifle version lighter than the Garand. A side benefit of this light weight was reduced material requirements, perhaps not a big deal when you’re making one rifle but of national significance when you’re making millions. (World War II German and Soviet weapons-selection documents also show that those nations took material use and machine time into account when downselection options for manufacture).

So of course, we had to keep looking, and in the same book we did find the 1940 Winchester Williams Anti-Tank rifle, just as Canfield told us.

winchester_williams_at_rifle

Houze describes it as one of…

…a series of arms based upon David M. Williams’ design. While the carbine he had developed, as an alternative to the M1 carbine, was not completed until December1941, it was viewed as “unquestionably an advance on the one that was accepted.”

One of the advantages of the Williams’ design (Plates 294 and 295) was that it allowed the action to be stripped for cleaning or replacing broken parts simply by removing a bolt housing that was secured to the receiver by an interrupted thread locking ring. Williams also employed a superior lockwork than that used in either the M1 carbine or M1 rifle. Plate293
In acknowledgment of the design’s advantages, samples were made in .30carbine, .30-60 and .50 caliber.

Though Ordnance Department tests of the .30-06 rifle version demonstrated its marked superiority over the standard M1 rifle, it was to be the light machine gun and anti-tank versions that aroused the most interest. Both of the latter incorporated an ingenious device to dampen recoil. By placing two strong coil springs on either side of the barrel breech that were attached to a recoiling lug on the barrel, Williams was able to transfer a considerable amount of the recoil forces into the springs, thereby absorbing its energy. The effect of this was to reduce the general recoil of both the light machine gun and the anti-tank rifle to the point that they were essentially recoilless. This meant that both arms could be used by infantrymen without undue stress being placed upon them during firing, a major benefit from the standpoint of accuracy as well as use. However, by the time these designs were selected for any serious testing, the war was almost over.2

One of the curiosities that surfaced during this investigation was the Winchester Tank Killer.

Curiously, it was during the testing of the .50 caliber Williams anti-tank rifle that the Winchester company seriously considered entering the automotive business for the second time in its history. On this occasion, however, unlike in 1909, the company toyed with the idea of manufacturing a light armored vehicle in which the anti-tank rifle could be mounted. Based upon a surviving photograph of the Winchester “Tank Killer,” it had an overall length of approximately twelve feet and a height of four feet. The forward section of the vehicle had sloping armor, and the tracks were powered by a 1939 Chrysler Imperial engine. No record exists as to its width or crew capacity, though the size would probably have only allowed two. Other than the one built in December 1944, it is doubtful whether any others were made.3

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find a photograph of the Winchester Tank Killer. Houze notes (p. 285) that the late Lt.Col. WilliamS.Brophy had “an 8×10-inch black-and-white print of this photograph with manuscript notations of the vehicle’s specifications,” but the current whereabouts of this image is unknown. We are also still in the dark as to how many of the AT rifles were made, and when, if ever, they were tested. It seems unlikely it would have had a chance, having less power than the .60 calibre (15.2 x 114) T1E1, although certainly being lighter and more easily handled.

Notes

  1. Houze, p. 189.
  2. Houze, pp. 276-278.
  3. Houze, p. 278.

Sources

Houze, Herbert. Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Iota, WI: Krause Publications, 2004.