Monthly Archives: March 2016

Learning Land Navigation: Second in a Series: The Topographic Map

compass-003The best case is to have a map and a compass. If you have a general idea of the terrain you can navigate without either, of course. But if you have to choose one or the other, unless the map is complete crap, choose the map.

Why not choose a GPS? A GPS depends on things that you cannot control, including satellites (vulnerable to interception and destruction in wartime, and failure in peacetime) and the electromagnetic spectrum (vulnerable to jamming, meaconing, EMP and other QRM — manmade interference — and sunspots, areas of bad radio propagation (like iron-rich geological formations), and other QRN — natural interference.

Jamming GPS signals is child’s play, because (1) the frequencies used are fixed and published, and (2) a satellite is sending a very low-power signal from very far away.

A GPS also depends on something that has a knack for letting a guy down: batteries. GPS navigators and other smart devices are an update of the old pilot’s joke about a flashlight: something you put in your bag to hold dead batteries. (There are circumstances in which this joke is the very living soul of not funny).

What’s a Topographical Map?

A map is a graphic description of a physical place in (usually) plan view, meaning from an imaginary viewpoint overhead. There are innumerable kinds of maps. Planimetric maps are drawn to scale (of which more in a moment), show borders and boundaries, (usually) cultural features like roads, and coast- or water-lines. If you own a house or land, you have probably seen your lot on a planimetric map. A Mapquest street map page is a planimetric map (it’s also a thematic map, which is a kind of map that has a theme, naturally. Thematic maps can be planimetric, but don’t have to be).

A topographical map is a type of planimetric map that also shows the height of the terrain. How do you show the Z axis of the real world on a two-dimensional map? The convention for depicting height on modern topographic maps is to use isometric lines. That scary foreign word just means “same distance,” iso metric, see? So each height-depicting line on the map represents the same vertical distance as the others. This has some useful applications in the real world, which is where we want to use our maps, right?

It is the isometric lines or contour lines (so called because each line follows the contour of the land at a given height relative to mean sea level) that set a topo map (as we call them to save keystrokes) apart from other kinds of maps.

Unless you have occasion to work with very old maps, military topographic maps will be calculated in SI units, with isometric lines a fixed distance apart in meters and marked elevations (of benchmarks, hilltops and other significant Z Axis features) in meters as well, and distances and a scale in kilometers. In the US, topo maps made for civilian use will have these items marked in Imperial units — feet and miles.

Globally, topographical maps are very similar. Anyone who has used a British Ordnance Survey Map, USGS Map, or NATO military map can pretty much make the translation to the others no problem. Even a Russian or Chinese map is very useful (the Russians have always made superior maps). Even if you can’t read the language you can still see the terrain. The various grid systems used are not always interoperable, though. (We’ll get to that).

What’s On A Topographical Map?

There are essentially three things: the geological features, which include the basic shape of the terrain, things like hills, rivers, coastlines, and slopes; the cultural features, which are the things that grow on the terrain or that people build on it, like forests, villages, roads and railroads; and navigational and informational features, including various things that let you use the map.

Geological Features

HILL terrain featureA map can give you a good handle on terrain features, if you read the contour lines. This bit of instruction uses the topography of human hands to walk you through the most common terrain features. There’s a lot more the lines can tell you, and you pick it up instinctively sooner or later. For example, on any given map, since contour lines come only at one interval, the closer together the lines on the map, the steeper the terrain. You will notice that watercourses are always in the low point, and that contour lines form a V across the watercourse, with the narrow end of the V pointing uphill and upstream. Bodies of water and watercourses are geological features, and they are always depicted in blue.

This web page recycles government training materials meant to train soldiers to understand the association between the contour lines on their maps, and  the terrain on the ground. It shows the basic terrain features; the hill above is one of them. (The page may have an annoying popup. Just dismiss it).

Cultural Features

Cultural features include vegetation, usually shown as green, and anything humans built on the land, including roads, bridges, trails, railroads, power lines, structures, cities, etc. As a rule of thumb, geological features are more stable and useful for navigation that cultural ones. Barring Air Force intervention, a hilltop’s height isn’t going to change. The shape of roads and borders of towns change all the time.

Navigational and Informational Features

There are many of these, including the Legend, which describes the sorts of features you might see on the map; the declination diagram, which we’ll deal with in the next installment; the indicator of north (part of the d.d.) which is rather important; and information about the datum used (this is the mathematical description of the shape of the Earth that undergirds the navigational features) and the grid system. This is where we run into differences by nation and even by purpose of the map and its recency. Datums are occasionally updated and this means grids aren’t interoperable (some US maps still used the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD27)  during our service, and other maps used WGS83 or another datum — a hazardous combination when you’re slinging lead and steel around). The Russians and their allies, for example, use a different grid system (Gauss-Krasovskiy) than NATO and their allies (MGRS, which is a superset of the Universal Transverse Mercator system). This gets interesting when you have lots of nationalities interoperating in one battlespace, but for most of you, the way to deal with this is:

  1. Check that everybody’s map has the same Datum and grid system.
  2. If not, get help! Your friendly SF intel sergeant can probably do MGRS to GK grid conversions, and your weapons guy can deal with artillery tuned with different numbers of mils in a circle.

how grids workMaps have grids that are set up for a military-type grid reference system, which should let you plot a point quite accurately, or alternately for latitude and longitude, depending on their intended use. Lat/Longs are hard to use in an on-foot situation, because in most of the world parallels and meridians don’t intersect quite squarely. The good news is, that even a map only gridded with lat/longs usually has ticks you can use to set up a UTM grid.

Grids are always read right and up. In map terminology, that’s easting and northing. How and why the grids are set up is part of every military map reading class, but do you know what? You don’t need to know it, any more than you need to know how a torque converter works to drive a car. Yes, it’s great to have knowledge in depth, but right now, you need knowledge you can use. 

Some Homework if you want it:

Reading Topographic Maps, by the OK Geological Survey.

Reading-Topographic-Maps-Oklahoma-Geological-Survey.pdf

 

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Neckties

Necktie2Maybe Ahmadinejad is on to something by not wearing a tie. As any bar fighter will tell you, the most pointless article of men’s apparel can be a choking hazard.

Cooley was found on March 16 after his worried sister called the super’s office from her home in Connecticut, asking that someone look in on him.

He was sitting up on the couch in his living room, a small throw pillow over his head and the shards of a broken table lamp scattered over his body.

“It almost looked like he was relaxing,” a law-enforcement source told The Post.

The lamp had been smashed over his head, sources said. But coroners said Friday that it was the necktie that killed him.

Cooley’s door had not been forced, and there was no sign of robbery — he had $192 in his pocket and was still wearing his good watch.

Investigators are eyeing two possible suspects, a source said Friday.

via Rich widower found strangled to death in apartment | New York Post.

The guy was strangled with the tie, apparently, but another story suggests he was also smothered with a pillow, and it’s a classic locked-room mystery.

A 78-year-old man was discovered dead with a pillow over his face inside his Upper East Side apartment Wednesday night, police said.

“All I saw was his legs. I was calling to him ‘Mr. Cooley, Mr. Cooley,’” said building super Ray Kasaj.

The 11th floor resident was declared dead by authorities shortly after – who also discovered blood on Cooley’s shirt and a living room in disarray.

A broken lamp lay by his feet, along with shattered glass nearby. Cooley had $192 in his right pocket and was still wearing his wrist watch, police sources said.

Investigators also determined the deadbolt to Cooley’s pad was locked, ruling out a break-in, police sources said.

So, who had his keys? This isn’t rocket surgery.

The New York Times Finds a Veteran they Like!

Vietnam Memorial Soldiers by Frederick HartThe New York Times usually can’t find anything to like about a combat veteran, unless the person is running for office as a Democrat, or is a Blue Falcon brought to their attention by some anti-military peacenik group, like IAVA=IVAW. So what’s this guy’s major malfunction?

Joshua Bunn was a rifleman in one of the bloodiest valleys in Afghanistan, where his infantry unit killed hundreds of enemy fighters and lost more comrades than any other battalion in the Marine Corps in 2009.

“We were so far out in Taliban country we rarely got resupply,” Mr. Bunn, 27, said in an interview from his apartment in Jonesboro, Ark. “We just got rockets and small-arms fire every day.”

Former members of the military like Mr. Bunn are being refused benefits at the highest rate since the system was created at the end of World War II, the report said.

via Report Finds Sharp Increase in Veterans Denied V.A. Benefits – NYTimes.com.

Oh, the mean evil VA that refuses him his benefits. What benefits are these?

And what report? Oh, that report:

More than 125,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have what are known as “bad paper” discharges that preclude them from receiving care, said the report, released Wednesday by the veterans advocacy group Swords to Plowshares.

What do you think “Swords to Plowshares” holds for a position on national defense? Without looking them up, “supine” is our guess.

OK, so the Times’s Dave Phillipps is engaging in retype-the-press-release and call-the-guy-the-press-contact-gave-you journalism. But it fits The Narrative™ (of which more anon), so there might just be a Pulitzer in it!

You don’t get a “bad paper” discharge because people are “bullying” you (in the Marines?), or because you’re too sensitive a soul for an organization that processes a hundred thousand souls of all sorts with a remarkably low “reject” rate, or because some sergeant or captain was an ol’ green meanie. You get bad paper because you’re a shitbird: a criminal, or a quitter, or someone profoundly toxic to the culture of a group of well-adjusted people, to wit, your unit..

And what sort of bad paper did Mr Bunn have?

After deployment, Mr. Bunn, suicidal and haunted by nightmares, went absent without leave. The Marine Corps charged him with misconduct and gave him an other-than-honorable discharge.

As a consequence, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not technically consider Mr. Bunn a veteran and has denied him permanent heath care, disability pay and job training intended to ease his return to civilian life. According to a new report, he is one of a growing number of veterans ruled ineligible for benefits because of less-than-honorable discharges.

Ah, a deserter!

So that’s the kind of veteran the New York Times likes.

It figures.

Of course, the Times, which employs rounds-to-zero veterans in the newsroom (and not accidentally), doesn’t get the difference between honorably-discharged-after-creditable-service and bad-paper-after-bugging-out. It would interfere with The Narrative™, and in The Narrative™ veterans are:

  • Down-and-outers from flyover country;
  • stupid and ill-educated;
  • damaged goods®;
  • victims; and most of all,
  • desperately in need of big-P Programs.

Ideally, of course, Programs managed by the wise producers and consumers of the Times (groups that can be understood as effete Manhattanites, and effete Manhattanite wannabees) and their Acela Corridor friends and families — people who were “too smart” to “waste their lives” in uniform.

You know what? Intercourse this guy. Intercourse all his bad-paper bugout buddies.

If he’s suicidal, like the article says, he’s a failure at that, too.

There’s always a great sympathy from those who won’t serve towards those that served badly. But nobody deserts because “the pressure’s too great” (or everybody would desert, rationally). He deserts because his character is deficient, and that fact needs to be written down for all time, lest someone else take a chance on him and get let down the same way this non-Marine let down the USMC.

No sympathy at this address, and the deserters’ pals at “Swords to Plowshares” can reach down deep past the fishooks in their pockets and give their own money, if they want to reward deserters.

In 2006, the British Parliament lost its mind and pardoned its World War I deserters. That was wrong, but this is even wronger: Dave Phillipps and the Times want to assault and insult every one of the millions of honorable vets by raising up these leeches above us. To Hell with the lot of them, and sooner rather than later.

Deserter? We’re with Kipling: sympathize with the man, but send him to his fate.

I could not look on Death, which being known,
Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.
The New York Times, ever AWOL from the camp of reason, and fugitive from the law of cause and effect.

Small News Items on Army Small Arms

There’s a bunch of little news bits going around the Army about maintenance issues and problems. We’ll cover them from most to least serious:

Item: Somebody Blew It

Beretta_M9_FAIL

File photo of failed M9 slide. Not the mishap firearm.

In late 2015, a very high (but unknown) round count M9 pistol had a catastrophic failure of the slide. With the Army scrimping on O&M money, especially on the ripe-for-replacement Beretta handgun, failures are not unusual and usually turn out to be fatigue failures from parts that have been carelessly used long past their service life. So was this one. The pistol was older than the soldier shooting it, and, as it turned out, someone, somewhere had pencil-whipped the maintenance records.

Slides fail every week, somewhere in an Army with hundreds of thousands of pistols that were almost all bought 30 years ago. But what happened next wasn’t supposed to happen. When the pistol slide failed at the slide’s weakest point, the locking-block cuts, the rear half of the slide kept on motoring, striking the GI in the cheek and upper jaw area and causing non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that a mandatory maintenance work order, MWO 9-1005-317–30-10-1, issued twenty-seven years ago in March, 1989, had never been complied with. They couldn’t track where the pistol was at the time it was not repaired; Army units and activities with M9s had until June, 1993 to comply.

Somebody reported that his M9s were in compliance, when they weren’t. This is what you get when a zero-defects, up-or-out culture undermines integrity while at the same time penny-pinching undermines maintenance. The soldier who drew that defective M9, and every soldier that’s been drawing and shooting it since 1989, is damned lucky to be alive. (Fortunately, when a slide fails on most pistols (or a bolt on a Mauser C96, etc.), gravity usually  ensures that the part hits below the eye, on cheek, jaw, chest or shoulder).

Meanwhile, the Army sent an urgent Safety-of-Use message mandating an Army-wide inspection of all M9s for completion of the MWO. Since the resources for completing the MWO no longer exist, the remedial action is to immediately deadline and turn in the offending M9 and draw a replacement.

How many units pencil-whipped their response to that ALARACT message?

Item: Safety? Sometimes it’s Evolution in Action

FOOM!Word is, some genius removed himself from the breeding population of Homo sapiens in 2014 by “improvising” M203 ammo (may have been 320) by cutting the links off of (higher-pressure) Mk19 belted ammo. The links were actually designed so they couldn’t snap off by hand, to prevent that.

Can we get a “FOOM!” from the assembled multitudes?

And oh, yeah, trying to belt up 203 ammo and fire it in an Mk 19 leads to FOOM also, of a different variety — out of battery ignition. Another opportunity for poka-yoke missed.

Item: Ambi Selectors Reaching Troops.. slowly

The Army has finally woken up to two facts:

  1. About 10% of the troops are left-handed, and
  2. There are lots of good ambi selectors available.

So the Army chose one and put it into the pipeline. So far so good, right? Not entirely. The selectors are only being replaced when the weapons are overhauled. And they don’t fit in the M12 racks many units still have. Work around is to cut a notch in the rack with a torch, or with a file and plenty of time, or to bend the part of the rack that hits the right-side selector out of shape so that the selector clears the rack.

Also, the slow migration of the ambi selectors means not all M4/M16 weapons in any given unit have them. Why don’t they just push the parts down to the unit armorers? Three reasons:

  1. The big one: they’re afraid of armorers stealing parts if they take rifles apart
  2. It doesn’t fit the concept of echeloned maintenance, even though that’s being streamlined;
  3. They don’t trust the armorers let alone the Joes, not to botch the installation.

On top of that, of course, it’s not penny wise and pound foolish in the great Army tradition.

Item: New Stuff Coming in, Old Stuff Going Out

A number of new arms are reaching the troops, and old arms are going away.  We’ll have more about that in the future, especially the M2A1 and the coming “rationalization” of an explosion of shotguns and sniper rifles. We just broke it out of this post to keep the length manageable.

ITEM: MG Maintenance Problems = Operator Headspace & Timing

m249-PIPThe biggest single problem the Army has with the current pair of machine guns (M240 and M249) is burned out barrels. That’s caused by not changing barrels, either in combat, or especially on the range. Often, units go out without the spare barrel so it’s not like they gave themselves any option.  (The M2 version of this is going out with only one set of gages for the M2s. The gages are not required for the M2A1). The Army is falling back into the peacetime mindset of “leave it in the arms room and we can’t lose it.” True enough, we’ll just destroy the one we take out instead.

The fact is, and it’s a fact widely unknown to GIs, MGs have rate-of-sustained-fire limitations that are lower than they think. (Remember the MGs that failed at Wanat? They were being operated well outside their designed, tested envelope).

The M249 should never be fired more than 200 rounds rapid fire from a cold barrel. Then, change to a cold barrel, repeat. The Army being the Army, there are geniuses who think that they can burn a couple belts in a few seconds, change barrels, burn a couple belts in a couple more seconds, then put the original honkin’ hot barrel back in and burn — you get the idea. If you have a situation where you’re going to fire a lot of rounds from a single position, like a predeployment MG familiarization for support troops or a defensive position, you might want to lay in some extra barrels (and yes, Army supply makes that all but impossible, so you have to cannibalize your other MGs).

The M240 is a little more tolerant but should still be changed every 2 to 10 minutes of firing, and even more frequently if the firing tends towards real sustained fire. (The deets are in the FM, which is mostly only available on .pdf these days).

One last thought, your defensive MG positions need to have alternate, displace positions, and you need to displace after sustained fire from one position — unless you want to share your hole with an exploding RPG, ATGM or mortar round. “Where’s your secondary position?” or “-fallback position?” should not produce the Polish Salute.

As ordnance experts have observed ever since World War II, a barrel can be burnt out due to overheat and still mic and even air-gauge good. You only know it’s hosed when it can’t shoot straight.

Well-maintained MGs are more accurate than people seem to give them credit for. Some SOF elements have selective fire M240s and really, really like them. (The standard M240 has no semi setting). They’re capable of surprising accuracy from the tripod.

ITEM: For Want of a Cord, a Career was Lost

GIs frequently lose or throw away the idiot cord on the PVS-14 night vision monocular. If these sights were being properly inspected, which they usually aren’t until a team comes in just before deployment, they’d be tagged NMC (non mission capable) for missing  that stupid cord. You don’t want to be in the bursting radius of a unit CO who’s just been told 85% of his night vision is NMC… especially when that news is delivered in earshot of his rater and senior rater. It’s a bull$#!+ requirement but it’s in the book, and if the Army ever has to choose between following the book or winning the war, the book comes up trumps every time.

You’re not going to stop GIs from losing cords, but replacement cords are in the supply catalog.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Paul Mauser Archive

mauser_archiveWe have already honored one of the creators of this site, Mauro Baudino, for his other site on the Artillery Luger. But Baudino and Gerben van Vlimmeren manage another must-view website in the shape of this delightful archive from their Belgian base. At the Paul Mauser Archive, they bring to light facts about one of the greatest minds in the history of firearms design, Paul Mauser; his designs, from the Prussian M/71 on; and the mighty company he built, which had such a profound impact on the industry that Heckler & Koch is but one secondary spin-off of the living legend that is the Mauser-Werke.

The bio of Paul Mauser alone is fascinating. I didn’t know his brother Wilhelm was his partner (European gunmaking is full of these brother acts, and Paul Mauser’s father and all of Paul’s brothers became gunsmiths, with one brother even working at Remington in Ilion, NY). Paul was the primary inventor and Wilhelm the primary contract-chaser, something he worked himself to death (literally) doing o that Waffenfabrik Mauser could succeed.

Their first factory burned down in 1874, a common hazard in 19th Century gunmaking (Colt’s burned down in 1862, for example). But they had already proven themselves indispensable to the armorers of the German principalities, and they were back in production in a few months.

The site is, in fact, so full of promise it’s a little bit disappointing that it doesn’t deliver it all at once! But Baudino and van Vlimmeren are conscious that they have a treasure trove here, and they’re taking care to see it’s properly analyzed, digitized and preserved.

Recommended without reservation, the Paul Mauser Archive.

Safety: Give the FOOM Plenty of Room

You’ve probably seen, and maybe used, Tannerite, a binary explosive that’s permissible to use in reasonable quantities and with reasonable safety precautions. It’s not a terribly high explosive, but it’s not trivial either: it’s based on ammonium nitrate, like many of the things terrorist bomb-makers like to use, and it’s shock-sensitive, so it can be set off with a hit from a bullet. Those two in combination should make you respect it, at least. And as this video shows, when you add unreasonable quantities (3 lb. packed in a sheet-steel lawnmower) and unreasonable distances (a foot over 14 yards, by police measurement), you’d be lucky to escape, like this young man, David Pressley, did, with a Life Flight ride and a lifelong disability.

Yes, he did blow his leg clean off. (Technically, it was traumatically amputated by shrapnel from the lawnmower. He can now tell people he lost his leg in a lawnmower accident, which is literally true). Tannerite comes with a whole bunch of safety precautions written right on the packaging that lots of guys know too much to bother reading. You know, men and instructions.

Zug.

As the nice news lady points out in the video, one of those advisories says give a standoff of 100 meters (or maybe just yards) per pound of the stuff. (Another tells you not to pack metallic stuff with it). So this yout’ gave the FOOM roughly 260 yards too little room. He’s damned lucky the mower-turned-shrapnel didn’t strike him in the cranium or neck instead of below the knee. He’s damned lucky he didn’t lose both legs. He probably doesn’t feel lucky, right now, with months of rehab ahead just to learn to walk again, but he is.

He was with two friends, who fortunately were not injured seriously in the blast. One of them secured a tourniquet around his stump, and they bundled him into a vehicle and ran him from the track they were on back out to a road, where EMS met them. (More info at USA Today).

To a former professional user of HE, some of the experiments we see people doing on YouTube, and the lackadaisical attitudes that sometimes accompany them, are chilling. We don’t mean to insult or demean Pressley, who’s got enough troubles right now; just to encourage everybody to have fun, but take care while you’re doing it.

The video also mentions that Tannerite blasts are a major cause of neighbor complaints. While more and more people shoot, most people don’t shoot. The majority of them seem to be fully supportive of our rights, so the least we can do is exercise some restraint and good neighborliness as to when and where we FOOM the place up. (Pressley seems to have been well out in the country, in a wooded area. Good for noise control, not so good for medical response. Everything in life is a trade-off, as any engineer can tell you).

The ATF has also been threatening for years to go after people that acquire, store or use “too much” Tannerite without an explosives license.  (ATF in 2012 via AmmoLand. ATF current explanation of the law on binary explosives). You may recall that they went after the people behind the juvenile YouTube channel FPSRussia on that score. But a little over a year ago, ATF also posted a prescient safety advisory from the interagency National Explosives Task Force on their Facebook channel. Had Pressley followed the four “nevers” in that list, he’d still be standing on his own two feet.

FBIAwarenessBothIn response to the Safety Advisory, Dan J. Tanner, the head of Tannerite Sports, told guns.com that “there has never been an injury by shooting Tannerite as recommended on all written and published literature and instructions.” Tannerite’s recommendations are found online, and, likewise, following them would have allowed Pressley to have his YouTube notoriety without having quite so much of it as he has right now.

Finally, it may occur to people that actual terrorists might try to use this stuff. It has certainly occurred to both ATF and FBI explosives investigators (the FBI has usurped a lot of ATF’s former bomb authority in recent years). If you are a retailer, you should probably have the attached joint Tannerite/FBI developed advisory (right) hanging up where your clerks can see it. Hat tip, Herschel Smith at The Captain’s Quarters.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Murphy Beds

murphy-bedsSure, Murphy Beds (c. 1900) predate Murphy’s Law (c. 1948), but have you ever seen a better juxtaposition of the two?

A Staten Island man trying to install a Murphy bed in his apartment was immediately killed when the contraption suddenly broke, his family claims in a lawsuit.

Joseph Annunziato, 32, had purchased the queen-sized bed, which connects to the wall and can be folded up and hidden away, from Murphy Bed Express in Manhattan, according to court papers.

The bed was down when the December 2012 tragedy occurred. But it popped back up and struck Annunziato. “It was a defective bed, and it snapped with such force that it crushed his skull and severed his spine,” family attorney Elias Fillas said. “It was instant. It was just like a gunshot.”

The family claims the Chelsea store was negligent by selling the bed “without instructions, warnings and all pieces necessary to properly and safely assemble the bed,” ­according to the Manhattan Supreme Court papers.

Annunziato had bought the bed in 2011, and it came with “parts and pieces” not intended to go with the product, which was “unsafe, unmerchantable and unfit for use,” the family alleges.

This whole story becomes clearer — what we’re seeing is the allegations from the family’s ambulance chaser.

The Annunziatos are seeking ­unspecified damages.

A manager for the store denied any knowledge of the lawsuit and claimed the company had delivered a bed to an Annunziato family in Midtown but not one on Staten Island.

Naturally, no story about a bizarre death is complete without a recap of the five other Murphy Bed deaths in the last century or so:

It’s not the first death reported in connection with the space-saving device, invented in San Francisco in 1900.

In 2005, two British sisters suffocated to death while on vacation in Spain, after an improperly installed Murphy bed with a wall-storage unit sprung on them, leaving them trapped for days, according to a report.

In 1982, a man in Los Angeles who had been drinking with a buddy died after he passed out inside a folded-up Murphy bed.

Where would When Guns Are Outlawed be without Judgment Juice?

According to reports, a missing grandmother in Liverpool, England, was found mummified inside her Murphy bed, which had folded up while she was asleep.

via Murphy bed snaps up and killed man: suit | New York Post.

Grandmaman wanted to die in her sleep, in England where guns are outlawed, but not like that, we’re thinking.

A New Rifle, a Reliability Problem

question mark(Apologies to all for the premature launch of this post at 0600 this morning. It was originally supposed to go there, then it was moved to the 1100 spot but the night shift botched the job. Those responsible have been sacked. Your comments and poll elections should be preserved.-Ed.)

The rifle had been praised wildly on the occasion of its adoption. Years of testing had proven its superiority, and it offered a revolution in rifleman’s firepower. Some of the claims made for the new rifle were:

  • Greater accuracy in combat conditions;
  • a greater volume of fire, firepower equal to five of the old rifles;
  • more effective against modern threats;
  • less demanding of training time;
  • lower recoil, and negligible fatigue from firing;
  • average size of production rifle groups, 1.75″ extreme spread at 100.
  • accuracy “better than the average service rifle, compares favorably with [a customized target] rifle”; and,
  • “every organization so far equipped has submitted enthusiastic reports of their performance under all conditions…”

Despite that glowing report from the men responsible for the decision, reports began to trickle in of unusual, crippling, and intermittent stoppages, and this reinforced many servicemen in their reluctance to give up their Ol’ Betsy for this new piece of technology.

What Rifle are we Talking About Here?

 
pollcode.com free polls

Answer after the jump!

Continue reading

Got Night Predators?

Tracking Point has night medicine:

We’ve previously mentioned their .300 BLK firearm, but now there’s an even better deal out there. The NightEagle is a precision-guided firearm optimized, TrackingPoint says, for predator control. The video makes it clear that the predators they have in mind are the four-legged variety, but there’s no reason the system wouldn’t work on bipedal predators, too.

The specs are solid: 400-yard lock range, 10 mph max target velocity.

One of the interesting improvements is that instead of having a separate “tag” switch as you had on first-gen TrackingPoint, their new capability, which they’re calling RapidLok™ Target Acquisition and Fire Control, tags the target when you take up the slack.

As you pull the trigger the target is automatically acquired and tracked. When trigger pull completes, the target is instantly eliminated.  Total Time-To-Kill (TTK) is approximately 2.5 seconds. RapidLok™ Fire Control is image stabilized enabling dynamic off-hand shots and shots on the run.

Think about those capabilities. Potential game-changers. The rifle of 2026 will do stuff the rifle of today can’t, qualitatively; in a way, today’s rifle is a lot closer to the rifle of 1966 than it is to the one of a decade ahead.

Note that the NV capability here depends on the electronic optics and an infrared illuminator or floodlight. While the resolution is similar to a more modern system, essentially what you have is computer enhanced 1st Generation Active Infrared. Per TrackingPoint:

NightEagle™ incorporates an infrared sensitive CMOS sensor that detects light not visible to the human eye.  Depending on the strength of the IR illuminator, targets can be engaged and tracked out to 300 yards at night.

That means it’s not a good choice for engagement with a human enemy who is night-vision capable. Searchlights work both ways, you know?

The system is also compatible with TrackingPoint’s ShotGlass remote control technology, and can stream video (annotated video, if the shooter feels like talking) to the rear. Given that the premier use of scout/snipers is for intelligence gathering, this is technology with real potential. (For military use it will need reduced signature, frequency agility or something like that, and encryption).

As they did with their .300 BLK system, TrackingPoint has offered a discount — nearly $2,500 — on the first one hundred 5.56mm Night Eagles.  Here’s the deal:

In case you missed our previous email, the NightEagle is being sold at the exclusive offer price of $7995* for the first 100 purchases. There are still a few systems available, but we would encourage you to make a call today to place an order and secure your system at this incredible offer price. Financing is also available for the NightEagle with payments as low as $182/month** for up to 48 months.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to sharing more exciting news and products with you as the year continues!

To place an order and lock in your NightEagle, please call (512) 354-2114

*MSRP $10,490
*To apply for financing on this product, please visit tracking-point.com/financing

The NightEagle page can hook you up with one. Tell ’em WeaponsMan sent ya.

One exit thought: this is the stuff being discussed in open source and sold to the public.

Military /SOF Themed Short – Operation Jericho

OK, here’s another short film, this time, one based on modern military operations, if a bit farfetched: a four-man special operations team is sent to clandestinely destroy a hydroelectric dam that has “been taken over by Russian rebels and turned into a chemical warfare plant.” Somebody probably knows what version of Call of Duty that scenario comes from.

The ten-minute short shows the strengths and weaknesses of Airsoft World as your ticket to an action film.

For a low-budget (no-budget?) short, this really isn’t bad. Sure, a lot of the shots and camera angles are very derivative, but you can probably say that about every big-budget actioner that’s going to hit the multiplex this summer, and what’s their excuse?

Some of the acting is pretty good. When Bravo Team is on the hill, talking to Alpha inside the dam — watch the facial expressions.

Militarily the whole thing is nonsense. Converting a hydroelectic dam to a chemical plant is not just bad science, it’s bad alchemy and pretty questionable magic. You’re about as likely to convert a pack mule to Pegasus. And a dam this size is not going to be destroyed by anything that four guys can pack in, unless they make a new SADM, which isn’t going to happen. Four guys is not what you send to blow up a dam; it’s what you send to surveil a dam, or a lot of other things. And if your primary means of attack is a covert, nonattributable demo attack, why ever would Plan B be a fighter-bomber strike? (Also, a small detail, but if a team is on a covert mission they’re not wearing American flags and other attributable patches and labels on their stuff).

The SOF TTPs are dated and weak (and if these guys actually shot as badly as they do, the Russians would have had their heads for trophies halfway through the show.

But the bottom line is that Operation Jericho is rapidly and well paced. There’s a few surprises and things keep moving. It’s ten minutes of fun, for free. Can you beat that?