Monthly Archives: October 2016

Confidentiality, 1917 Style

This text was printed in World War I technical manuals of the United States Army, in the front matter, immediately in front of the pages containing the Table of Contents, and immediately behind the page with the Chief of Staff’s statement promulgating the manual.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
The Adjutant General’s Office,
Washington, June I9,1917.

To All Officers of the Army:
You are advised that this and all subsequent documents of a similar character, which may be furnished to you from this office, are to be regarded as strictly confidential. They are to be kept at all times in your personal possession, and are not to be copied, nor are any parts of their contents to be communicated either directly or indirectly to the press, nor to any persons not in the military or naval service of the United States. In Europe these documents are not to be carried into the front-line trenches, nor farther to the front than the usual post of the officers to whom issued.

Strict compliance with this injunction is enjoined upon every officer into whose hands any of these confidential documents may come.

By order of the Secretary of War
H. P. McCAIN, The Adjutant General

This particular warning came from this specific document, but the same wording seems to be widely used in period documents.

The admonition to keep the document out of the grubby mitts of the press is reminiscent of Sherman’s attitude to those worthies — or ours, come to think of it.

The Colt Combat Unit

That’s a bit of a hard-core name for a relatively ordinary (but new to Colt) carbine that was just announced. Here’s the official press release, and we’ve got the released pictures. It turns out that the term applies not just to a midlength carbine, but to a group of shooters and trainers that helped develop it; Colt is calling them, the Colt Combat Unit, too.

Presumably available at reasonable rates for group instruction, county fairs, or African regime changes? We actually don’t know what Colt is going to do with the CCU, as in, group of Colt-promoting pros.

The CCU, as in, midlength carbine, is a TALO Distributors exclusive.

ccu-rifle-rh

The Colt Combat Unit™ carbine offers many of the features you love about the Colt M4 platform, but now Colt is introducing its first production mid-length gas system. “Producing a mid-length gas system was the logical next-step for us, and it’s long overdue,” said Justin Baldini, Director of Product Marketing for Colt. “Shooters will find that by moving the gas block closer to the muzzle as this mid-length gas system does, the felt recoil is more constant with what is fielded by our troops carrying a 14.5” barrel M4.”

ccu-rifle-lh

The Colt Combat Unit™ carbine was developed with the help of legendary trainers Mike Pannone, Ken Hackathorn, and Daryl Holland. It features a Magpul® SL® buttstock and pistol grip as well as a MOE® trigger guard. The carbine is the first to feature Colt’s new mid-length gas system. It has a low profile gas block which allows for the use of its M-LOK® capable Centurion CMR free floated forend. The Colt Combat Unit™ carbine (SKU – LE6960-CCU) has an MSRP of $1,299 and is available exclusively from TALO Distributors.

Everywhere, the Carnabetian Army marches on, each one a Dedicated Follower of Fashion. But hey, this is exactly what some people want in a carbine: mid-length gas, free-float, M-LOK and Magpul gear. Its weight isn’t mentioned, but it should be pretty light.

colt-combat-unit-carbine-daryl-holland

We also note that Colt has been pricing their firearms aggressively, especially when you consider that:

  1. Being a union shop (UAW) means higher costs in wages, benefits, and quality control than an open shop.
  2. They are located in the highest-tax state in the union, which adds to their costs; and,
  3. After their latest bankruptcy, they still have a crushing burden of debt, a vastly overmarket (in a high-priced market) plant lease, and senior management more interested in making money by playing Wall Street grifter than in making money by making guns.

And despite all that, Colt continues to make new, interesting and well-made guns, and sell them at competitive prices. Sometimes 150-plus years of tradition does create momentum, enough that some parasitic drag isn’t overwhelming.

OT: Whistling Past the Graveyard

bye-gravestoneWe first encountered Gerard VanDerLeun a seeming age ago, soon after 9/11, when he posted a thoughtful musing on a relative’s service in a war that slips out of memory. And the two thoughts that came to us, struck in the moment, were: (1), “This gentleman can write,” and, (2), “His heart is in the right place.” Clichés, both, but apposite.

So it is disturbing to us when sensible Gerard writes this. It is rather more disturbing because it’s true.

Whenever a class of people, self-anointed, seek to impose Utopia on the world, evil ensues. Whenever a group of people seek to arrogate the power of the people to themselves, evil ensues. It is not merely that power corrupts but that some people are compelled to corrupt democratically distributed power through statist centralization. If the age of kings was the age of rule by one monarch, the current age drifts towards the rule of many smaller kings acting in unison. This is the age of the Multi-Monarchists; of rule by the faction of “Little Hitlers.” Their accoutrements are not uniforms and stark symbols, but cap & gown, press passes, and union cards. Their collective policy is plague.

It is a bleak view of a time that should be a Golden Age. The world is, apart from the tribal throwback lands, at peace; the world’s prosperity is unprecedented; technology and the humane arts save human lives today that were forfeit a few years ago; the flames of freedom burn bright.

And yet. There are those whose only reaction to those flames is to extinguish them, and those whose black hearts year to possess and control (and misuse) them. There is always the urge to power, now with new flowery overgarments of words, but not concealing well the base urge that gives them shape and form.

All faction, no matter its origin or ideals, is in the end Fascist. The Founders knew Faction and feared it. Much of the Federalist Papers is taken up with the problem of suppressing Faction and the Constitution is the carefully wrought attempt at a solution to it. Of course, the Founders also knew that Faction as Facism is never finished except by fire and fire alone.

via Usurpations and the Plague of Locusts @ AMERICAN DIGEST.

There is no magic inevitability to the Golden Age of the 21st Century. We could as easily ruck back into a subsistence dystopia, as plenty of examples illustrate to us.

  • Zimbabwe? Far away, and her people so different from us. “A land far away and a people of whom we know nothing,” in the words of the great statesman who had his hour, and lost it.
  • Afghanistan? When we arrived there was scarcely a stone upon a stone; yet in 1973, when forward-looking progressives overthrew a King who was not liberalizing fast enough, there were cosmopolitan cities and decent universities. That is the wages of 25 years of civil war. But it is far away, and her people are so different from us.
  • Venezuela? Far away, and her people… but, she walked away from the 21st Century, to adopt the most spectacularly failed ideology of the 20th. And as a result, the citizens of that unhappy land are now living in an experience with poverty, sickness, child mortality and overall privation that hearkens back to the conditions of the 19th that produced the great literature of Charles Dickens — and the mistaken political theories of Karl Marx, which, in every single example to date, have recursively caused the conditions they were implemented to cure.

So, tell yourself “It can’t happen here.” If you whistle past the graveyard, there will not be one in your future, right?

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Rapefugees

newspaper-fishwrapIn which, journalists discover that not everyone is impressed with their status as Unique and Special Snowflakes™.

The shocking incident is just the latest example of the extreme violence plaguing the Calais migrant camp, and comes just a day after journalists from Sky News were attacked by asylum seekers hurling rocks.

Oh, what shocking incident?

In a statement local prosecutor Pascal Marconville said: “A 38-year-old interpreter from Afghanistan, who is living in Paris, was accompanying a freelance journalist from a production company who was preparing a documentary for [a French news channel] on unaccompanied minors.”

Ah. That kind of shocking incident.

They do realize, don’t they, that as a woman from a mohammedan country not wearing an all-encompassing trash-bag garment, she is interpreted by moslem vibrancy as a slut who’s just asking for it? Why, in this case it was something she wore — once the society made the decision to put the pathogens into its system and see what happens.

This is what happens. Imagine that!

He said the pair were attending a pre-arranged meeting with migrants inside the Jungle when they encountered “three individuals, speaking Pashtun, armed with a knife”.

He added: “They attacked them and stole their equipment and their camera. While two of the individuals threatened the journalist with a knife, the third raped the young female interpreter.”

Boy, that journalist sure rates some serious man points. Two scrawny Afghans threaten him with one knife and he folds up like an umbrella in a tempest.

The woman was immediately taken to hospital after the attack to be checked over, and she then filed a complaint of rape at the police station in Calais.

Journalists and aid workers have been frequently warned about the dangers of working in the Jungle camp, which contains a small hardcore of serious criminals amongst its approximately 6,000 refugees.

“…a small hardcore of serious criminals amongst its approximately 6,000 refugees….” Gee, did we ever say something about the Rule of 10 Percent around here? We thought we did.

This week Sky News journalist Mark Stone revealed how he and his crew suffered a terrifying ordeal in Calais when they were attacked by a gang of migrants hurling rocks.

Welcome to the new world, where Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, and Everybody Must Get Stoned.

Whatever happened to, “You throw stones according to your custom, and I shall erect a gallows according to mine?”

The TV reporter and his crew were left “cut, bruised and without one of their cameras” after being ambushed in the middle of the night near a petrol station on a road leading to the town’s port.

via Calais rape: Female journalist ‘assaulted by refugees’ at Jungle Camp | World | News | Daily Express.

Cue liberal journalists, moaning, “Why do they hate us, when we love them so?” They hate you because you’re not them.

Hognose’s Law: A War of Identity, a war that happens because of who the combatants are in ways they can’t practically or won’t change, can only end one of three ways:

  1. One side defeats and exterminates the other (Rome -> Carthage)
  2. One side defeats and assimilates the other (USA -> Apache Nation)
  3. The war stabilizes at an Equilibrium of Violence acceptable to both sides (Arab-Israeli Conflict, Norks v ROKs, Cold War).

That’s all there is, and there ain’t no more.

The War of Identity of moslems on civilization does not pause to mark the altruistic intentions of the journalists, the pensées nobiles that drive them, or their self-claimed status as neutrals and protected persons. It just notes that they’re Other, and goes first for Option One on the menu above.

Soldier and Achmed the Dead Terrorist Team Up

OK, he’s not really Achmed (Jeff Dunham’s famous ventriloquist’s dummy), but you can see the family resemblance.

veteran-and-skeleton

The dead guy in BDUs is, in fact, a dummy, made of a craft-shop skull and some pillows for stuffing. The live neckbeard is one John Newcomb, “who served as an infantryman for two years,” and who is trying to raise awareness about veteran suicide.

Newcomb is tired of losing his friends to suicide, and he wants fellow veterans to know their struggles are never too heavy and that he will help carry them.

That’s why he marches through different cities in upstate New York with a 20-pound skeleton dressed in a uniform on his back — he wants people to know veteran suicide is still an issue and he wants to raise money to help.

“I am not naive enough to believe that I will ever be able to stop this sadness in its entirety,” Newcomb said. “But I have to try.”

We’re not exactly following how you get from a dude walking with a dummy to suicide prevention, but whatever. You can go Read The Whole Thing™, and let us know if you can figure it out.

We’re not averse to the idea of preventing vet suicide. Indeed, we prevent vet suicide every day, by not killing ourselves, and giving other vets the benefit of assuming that they, too, are not suicidal or otherwise damaged goods. But that’s just us. If Newcomb wants to stroll around with Achmed the Dead Terrorist on his back, it’s a free country.

Armed Self Defense Gone Bad

law_of_self_defense_branca_standard_editionWhen we hear of Armed Self Defense Gone Bad, we think of those incidents Andrew Branca tries to educate people out of having — incidents wherein a would-be defender loses the mantle of lawful self-defense, and survives the gunfight only to end up on the muzzle end of the criminal justice system. But there are worse outcomes than that.

José Rodriguez was a good guy with a gun. He perished coming to a neighbor’s aid.

His neighbors across the street were subjected to a brutal home invasion by a gang of young black career criminals. (The robbery victims were black too). The cons had gotten the idea that the home was a drug house, and they burst in, armed with short and long guns, screaming at a young woman they found inside. “Get in the $@#^&ing closet! Shut the &%#&$ up!” As it turned out, the criminals were wrong about the house being a drug house (criminals wrong, imagine that!), there were neither drugs nor money within, and the cursing criminals had to settle for stealing the TVs and PlayStations.

José stepped out of his own home, with his .45, and commanded the home invaders to put down their guns. They didn’t. They lit him up instead. He desperately returned fire. “He was way outgunned,” one of the investigating officers determined. They found brass from an AR-15 and a 9mm pistol (when recovered, it seemed to be something like a TEC-9), and shotgun shells (12-gauge buckshot). Rodriguez was hit by all three calibers, at what was essentially point-blank range; he did not hit any of his assailants. He did not survive.

The investigation into José’s murder was featured in Season 10 (2010), Episode 18 of the long-running TV documentary, The First 48. In due course, all five members of the rip crew would receive long sentences for armed robbery or murder. The sheer typicality of the criminals was depressing. You know the type: slack-jawed, dull-eyed, greedy and idle; seemingly missing some of the forebrain functions and empathetic emotions common to the general run of human beings. Even though most of them were quite young, they all had criminal records. Not an Eagle Scout among ’em. Of course.

The three murder weapons were all recovered. The shooters bailed out of the getaway truck; two guns were left behind, and the AR-15 was found under a nearby house — alongside its erstwhile operator. Other perps’ prints were on the stolen goods in the truck bed. The truck was owned by and registered to one of them. They were rounded up, routinely; one was plucked off a jetliner as he tried to skip town, without as much as a change of socks. Each of the three shooters tried to claim that he personally was not one of the shooters, but gave up the other two. The major elements of the crime were solved in hours, and all five perps remain behind bars at this writing.

None of the cops had a word of criticism of José Rodriguez, who so looked out for his neighbors that they called him, affectionately, the “Neighborhood Sheriff”. He did not, after all, kill himself; he was murdered by these thugs, his life cut short at 49. It is a hard thing to criticize a dead man, but that’s not what we’re trying to do here. Instead, we’re trying to learn from his example.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Cover Counts. When you engage an armed enemy, or approach a possibly-armed enemy, protect yourself. Had José called them out from the minimal protection of his door frame, instead of advanced towards them across his front lawn, he might have lived. 
  2. You are not the cavalry. If your and your family’s lives are not in imminent danger, call the cavalry. They have the tools, the tactics, and above all, the experience to take armed criminals into custody safely. (Indeed, the Sheriff’s Office and other LE would bag the whole crew, one at a time, without another shot fired).
  3. Criminals are more gunned-up than ever, and all guns are lethal (it was the 9mm and buckshot rounds that killed José. His 5.56mm wounds were survivable). Understand the balance of forces before engaging.
  4. Don’t buy someone else’s fight. Maybe you have to, if someone’s being murdered. Absent that, not your circus, not your monkeys.
  5. Proportion in all thingsNot only did five worthless skells lose large chunks of their worthless lives for a couple of $200 TVs and consoles that they didn’t even get away with, José, who unlike the criminals was a productive member of society, got himself killed over those same stupid TVs.
  6. Don’t engage multiple assailants unless you can fire first. (And you can only fire first if the conditions for the lawful use of force are fulfilled). Get in the best ambush position in case you have to defend yourself, but observe and be prepared to be a witness.
  7. Don’t overestimate your shooting skill. Everybody’s shooting gets worse on the two-way range. The range of this engagement was 2-10 meters, and none of José’s shots connected with the bad guys. This is more common than you might think.
  8. Don’t be a hero. Heroes are dead. Like brave, doomed José Rodriguez.

One of the major problems involved in engaging with criminals is that your life matters to you, and their lives don’t — not even to them. If you kill one, you can expect to be the chew toy of the media, the press, and any prosecutor looking to level up in politics (damn near every prosecutor). Consider the case of George Zimmerman, who was absolutely justified in his shooting of an inexperienced but developing career violent criminal, but whose reputation is forever tainted by a political prosecution and a corrupt media. What would have happened to Rodriguez if his shots had connected and he had killed two or three black “children”?

Once you fire that first shot your life will never be the same. Even if you live. There will never be a greater need for you to be sure of what you are doing.

Total US Firearms: Not 300 Million, but 412-660 Million?

Fun With NumbersThe typical estimate of the total number of firearms in the USA is about 300 million, depending on whom is queried. For example (some of these links are .pdf):

The numbers are all over the place, and many of them seem to recursively refer to one another, not exactly building confidence in the rigor of their development. But they seem to cluster around a Narrative-friendly 300 million. But what if that number is wrong?

millions-of-guns

We believe that the correct number is much higher — somewhere between 412 and 660 million.   You may wonder how we came to that number, so buckle up (and cringe, if you’re a math-phobe, although it never gets too theoretical): unlike most of the academics and reporters we linked above, we’re going to use publicly available data, and show our work.

What if we told you that one ATF computer system logged, by serial number, 252,000,000 unique firearms, and represented only those firearms manufactured, imported or sold by a relatively small number of the nation’s tens of thousands of Federal Firearms Licensees?

ATF maintains a system, introduced in 1999, called Access 2000 or A2K (GAO report; details are in the .pdfs linked at that .html link). This system allows voluntarily participating manufacturers, importers and wholesalers (no retailers) to enter their firearms by the identifying data that goes on a 4473 directly into an ATF computer. The firms can’t see the data on this system, they can only feed it in. This system is then used by the National Tracing Center in West Virginia to respond rapidly to trace requests: given serial number, make and model they can produce an instant hit, saving field agents a trip to the manufacturer, wholesaler, or jobber. Sometimes this hit can instantly tell the trace technician what retailer was the firearm’s point of first retail sale, really expediting the trace.

The participating licensees get significant benefits from this system. They can dump their computer data directly to ATF (ATF actually provides a data-entry only terminal node for A2K in the participants’ premises) and then they never have to drop everything for an ATF trace, because ATF can track the firearm from creation (or importation) to sale out of point-of-origin from a desk in Martjnsville, West Virginia’s National Tracing Center. You can comply with your legal requirement to support crime (and found, and idle curiosity, and fishing expeditions and dragnet) gun tracing without any additional expense.

From the ATF’s point of view, it eliminates a possible source of security leaks in investigations. (This is not saying that they automatically suspect licensees more than anybody else. They just know, as Ben Franklin said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”) It also gives the ATF the bones of a future national registration system, a controversial idea even within the agency, but one that has its internal champions, including Deputy Director Thomas Brandon, who has been campaigning for Hillary Clinton on that exact issue.

Field agents and criminal investigators have no direct access to A2K. Only 44 employees of NTC (some of whom are sworn agents, mostly in case someone has to testify in court, but most of whom are support personnel) have access to the system. That access is controlled by an access roster set up to deny non-admitted personnel both physical access to A2K terminals and computer access to the data. Systems are supposed to be in place for intrusion detection and auditing.

millions-and-millions-of-guns

None of the current academic media and academic estimates were developed with A2K data, even though this data has been made publicly available. You’re probably reading about it here for the first time.

The participants in A2K include, as of fall, 2015, 35 firms representing 66 FFLs total.

Because some of the participants are wholesalers, some firearms manufactured by non-participating manufacturers are included, in addition to all the firearms made by participants.

For legal reasons, A2K is kept separate from all other agency computer systems, and while it is on the public internet for maintenance purposes, it has no direct connection to any other ATF database.

As of 2 October, 2015, the data in A2K included 252,433,229 records, representing one firearm each. That means that at least those 250 million firearms have been manufactured, or imported, or sold at wholesale in approximately 15 years.  (Duplicate records, say from a manufacturer or importer in 2000 a jobber as a used gun in 2007, don’t increment the count; the unique serial number ties those data points together as a single “record”).

For the total count of firearms in the USA to be 300 million, the following must be true:

(A2K + all firearms made and sold by non-A2K FFLs from 1999-2015 + all firearms made by everyone 1899-1999 +  all firearms imported 1899-1999 + all firearms made or imported since October, 2015) – firearms exported = 300M.

It seems unlikely that 5/6 of all firearms were made or imported in the last 17 years.

Because one or two of these big distributors or jobbers may account for many surplus and used-firearms imports, they may include used as well as new guns, but they almost certainly don’t include resales of individual guns. And if police guns are counted once (sales from manufacturer, etc. to police) they shouldn’t be counted again (sales of surplus police guns to the  distributors enroute to the public).

We know that the ATF collects the records of out of business FFLs, and that these records are very slowly digitized but never OCR’d (they are legally forbidden to do this. They had preserved out of business records from A2K, which they deleted when GAO caught them [.pdf] in March, 2016. The preservation seems to have been inadvertent). The ATF can only estimate the number of out of business records as “hundreds of millions.” Absent computerization, there are many duplications in these records as the same serial number moves around. How many times has that World War I Mauser Gewehr 98a changed hands? As far as we know, no one has even tried to estimate this. But with the use of make/model/serial as a unique key in A2K, we do know that this 252 million does not include any significant number of duplicates.

We also know that ATF compliance with the law in this case is slow and grudging — for example, ATF’s own Chief Counsel’s Office, the nominally subordinate department that is considered by many ATF managers and agents to really run the agency, noted aspects of noncompliance with A2K in 2009, but never corrected the problem until 2016, after GAO called them on it in 2015. But that’s another story.

Now, the question of estimating how many guns exist in the United States can be restated as a single question: what percentage of all the guns in the country were handled by these 35 firms / 66 FFLs in the period 1999-2015? 

It is a difficult estimate to make in any supportable fashion. While those include some of the largest manufacturers and producers, as of October 2016[.pdf], there are 2,451 licensed importer FFLs (Class 06) and 11,093 manufacturer FFLs (Class 07) outstanding. Thus your 66 A2K paricipants account for less than one half of one percent of operating manufacturers and importers. Also, these are last year’s count of A2K participants and this year’s count of FFLs; it seems likely the participant count was much lower when A2K launched, and possible the FFL count was lower, after the mixed successes of the first Clinton presidency’s attempt to push FFLs out of business. Thus, the percentage count of participant FFLs is not constant. (For example, in October 2013[.pdf], there were 2,336 Class 06 importers and 9,082 Class 07 manufacturers).

Applying the Pareto Principle, it is possible, probable even, that a small percentage of high volume manufacturers and jobbers produce the largest percentage of the nation’s new firearms. Selecting 80/20 as a rule, which seems improbably generous over the lifespan of A2K, during this period these 66 FFLs produced 80% of all firearms traffic. Thus, the 252 million is 80% of 315 million new-to-the-market firearms.

One easy thing we can do is add 2016’s numbers, because we know they can’t be included in A2K’s 1999-2015 data set. Two ways to estimate 2016 production are to use FBI NICS checks (which are an imperfect measure) and NSSF adjusted NICS numbers (which are an attempt to make a conservative estimate by eliminating sources of upward bias in the FBI data, like one state’s monthly NICS on all permit holders). According to the FBI, there have been 19,872,694 NICS completed through 30 Sep, 2016; and NSSF adjusts that to a conservative 10,837,308.

Using a conservative algorithm to extend these numbers through the end of the year, we get 26,496,925 from FBI and 14,449,744 with NICS. (This is done by adding up the nine months’ data we have already, dividing by nine to get an average, and multiplying that average by 12 to get an annual number. It is conservative because of the seasonality in the sales data; the top sales months are always November and December). As we are making a conservative estimate, we take our conservative average-based forecast from the more conservative data source, NSSF, and we round (down) to the nearest million. We now have 329 million firearms, with fairly trustworthy data and estimates in which all the most conservative assumptions were used, introduced to the US on-the-books market from 1999-2016.

Items Excluded

Some sources of firearms are probably not numerically significant, at this time, and can be excluded. The first of these is off-the-books private production. This has increased greatly in the last 15 years, as we known from our own built-from-non-firearm-80% receives. How big this market is, no one knows. We conversed with one manufacturer last year who said, not for attribution, that he had shipped in excess of 100,000 80% lowers in the previous year and was constrained by the production schedule of the forging subcontractor he used. Assuming 80% of those were spoiled by end users, ratholed for future use or held for resale, and only 20% completed (which seems to us like a very conservative estimate), then that’s 10,000 more from one off-the-books source. There are at least ten manufacturers in the position this one is in, so up to a million more incomplete receivers move towards the (horrors!) “ghost gun” home and small-business gunsmithing market annually, and 100,000 of them make it to test fire. Given the impossibility of measuring these, and their small effect on the totals, and our attempt to make a conservative-biased estimate, we chose to leave these firearms out. But we all know they’re there.

Clandestine production by unlawful entities can not be known. It is a known unknown. And illegal importation by smuggling is known to have increased since the essential abandonment of border enforcement in 2009, but it is not thought to be numerically (as opposed to criminologically) significant. It is a small known unknown which can probably be discounted.

The most significant thing about these non-traditional and clandestine producers is that, as we have seen in places as disparate as Australia and the West Bank of the Jordan, they are prepared to fill the gap, should firearms production be further restricted by officialdom. The market is like flowing water — it finds a path, or makes a path.

So What’s Left?

At this point we have a reasonable and very conservative, very low estimate of 329 million new firearms to the US market 1999-2016. The question becomes one of estimating how many firearms were made and imported in the period from the invention of modern metallic cartridge, smokeless powder ammunition from, say, 1899 to 1998 — and how many of those survive as practical, usable firearms.

There are several ways to estimate this number:

  • We can throw a Pareto 80/20 number out there (about 412-413 million);
  • We can make a SWAG that about half the guns in circulation are pre-1999 (about 660 million);
  • We can comb old books for production data (TBD);
  • We can ask the ATF (we’re sure they’ll be forthcoming… right?);
  • Or, we can ask you for your ideas.

Absent a better idea, we can say that the US inventory of firearms is almost certainly between 412 and 660 million, not the lower numbers recently trumpeted in the media. And your ideas are welcome, in the comments or to @Hognose on Gab.

UPDATE

Thanks to TheGunFeed.com for picking this up as its featured article on 25 October.

TheGunFeed links weaponsman

We’ve been linked by the site frequently, and it’s brought us a lot of new readers, but we don’t recall ever being the top dog before. We’re extremely appreciative. Many thanks!

WeaponsMan readers: If you ever want to know what the hottest stories in the gun world are, The Gun Feed has a constantly updated page of them for you.

TheGunFeed readers: welcome! Don’t miss the comments below, because we’re blessed by an unusually experienced, educated, and agreeable cohort of commenters. Consider joining them if you have a point to make, you’re always welcome. We try to keep it clean and civil.

UPDATE II:

Welcome to readers of Peter Grant (we enjoyed Brings the Lightning, by the way) and Vox Day (who linked Peter’s post at Gab).

 

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trenches

Major B Magrath, 8th East Lancashire Regiment, struggling through a flooded trench, Foncquevilliers, 1917. (British National Army Museum).

Major B Magrath, 8th East Lancashire Regiment, struggling through a flooded trench, Foncquevilliers, 1917. (British National Army Museum).

You would think that people wouldn’t be dying in trenches any more. After all, the Great War was about a century ago, and we’ve scarcely had any trouble since then.

But you’d be wrong. A couple of guys in a utility crew were killed stone cold graveyard dead, drowned like rats in a trench in urban Boston, where guns are just about outlawed.

The Boston Fire Department says two people were killed after they were trapped in a trench when a water main broke in the South End.

The water main break broke on Dartmouth Street just after 1 p.m. on Friday.

Firefighters said two people were killed, and crews are still trying to drain the area to safely recover their bodies.

Firefighters are using a large vacuum to remove water from the trench.

It is not yet known how deep the trench is.

Deep enough. For two guys, too deep.

Water has been shut off to the area.

Firefighters said they are now moving forward as a “recovery not rescue operation.”

Even the most routine acts in the world can end in sudden death. You might want to give whomever you love an extra squeeze or wink, on your way out the door tomorrow. Just in case, no?

Damon Linker, No Deep Thinker

Damon Linker isn’t particularly special today, he’s just an illustration of an immutable law: the more time you spend in the Acela Corridor, the more you see the Outside World through a glass, darkly. This makes most Washington and New York pundits entertaining to read on the subject of war: they can always be counted on to reverse cause and effect, creating what the late Michael Crichton called “‘Wet streets cause rain’ stories”; and they often miss very large beams that are clouded by the motes of partisanship and self-regard that multiply in their eyes, like some sort of virus, lofted in the foul air of their coastal enclaves.

See if you can guess what very large beam is missing from this emphatic statement by Linker (the elisions are for brevity and do not alter his argument, as you can see at the link):

Both … nominees, [and] journalists …avoid talking about the fact that the United States is waging war in at least five countries simultaneously: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

Anything missing there? We have a hint, and we still have ineradicable 15-year-old dust from the place on some of our gear: Afghanistan. The word does not exist in his essay. And that’s only one. Despite the current tensions the gormless incumbents of both Presidencies have produced, US Forces have been working intimately with Filipino forces in tamping down the Abu Sayyaf insurgency there, a process that occasionally goes to Bulletsville and more occasionally racks up a US casualty, who used to be, at least, counted as an OEF casualty alongside his Afghan brothers.

So it’s seven wars. Not counting the ones we’re not counting, and believe me, they’re there: Damon Linker doesn’t know about them because the Times and the Post don’t know about them, because most of their international bureaux are closed or are staffed by host nation stringers with their own agendas. And because one of the markers of the speciation of Homo acelaicus is his distance from and revulsion by Homo combativus. 

It’s a safe bet that nobody in the Linker bloodline has suited up for combat in the 45 years since Nixon ended the draft (or in the years before that, where an array of deferments spawned for the convenience of the children of Homo acelaicus kept them out of harm’s way). The whole point of having an aristocracy is hereditary rule, dissociated from standards or merit, for the benefit of the aristocrats. 

Linker is critical of the press in his article, but only because they’re not dumbing things down enough for the real retards, the American people. You see, wars are complicated, and journalists, well:

…journalists have no faith … in the American people to process and evaluate that information in a responsible way.

Well, when the public doesn’t trust the press, and when Damon Freakin’ Linker is the guy who’s going to heal this rift, maybe he’s got the arrow of causation characteristically ass-backwards. Who is it that mistrusts whom, here?

…the press actively contributes to making our politics stupider. Instead of enlightening members of the general public, it entertains them.

Of course, his idea of “enlightening” involves socializing them to Acela Corridor values, so he’s doomed to failure outside of his coastal Echoplex. And then he whines that, this election year:

…the media has come in for unprecedented hostility and abuse….

Perhaps it deserves it? When a guy pontificating about all the wars we’re in elides the fact that his boy and his girl are responsible for many of the new theaters of war in which this one conflict is being conducted, by abandoning Iraq and Afghanistan initially, and then fomenting new wars in Libya, Syria, and even Egypt? When a guy pontificating about the wars forgets about Afghanistan?

Almost everyone I know has been to Afghanistan. To fight. Only to return to the dripping contempt of the Damon Linkers of the world, the sunken, shriveled,  fans in the press box, to whom everything that is good and holy emanates from their beloved political sports-teams.

We’re not ready to lynch reporters here, not even Damon Linker, but we would vote “not guilty” if put on the jury of someone who did.

Guy in a Garage Gets Quiet… in 5.56 and 7.62 (.300 BLK)

(Yes, 80s-90s era SF’ers, the “5.56 and 7.62” is a Blank Frank Toney reference. For the rest of you, on with the story). Our good friend Guy in a Garage (hereafter Guy) has been up to all kinds of good. You may recall that some time ago he applied to the ATF to manufacture suppressors on ATF Form 1.

He didn’t go about it by half measures. Here’s his 5.56mm suppressor, showing 3D design, computer finite element analysis of the projected flows, and parts machined, mostly, from 7075 round bar stock. The tube is Ti alloy. There’s a large chamber, followed by a blast baffle.

giag-suppressor-internal-2While the baffles are generally made of aluminum, the blast baffle is 416 stainless. Guy says:

This took a lot of work and I’m glad everything came out so well. I knew from the start that I aluminum wasn’t going to hold up to 5.56. I also knew that excessive backpressure could cause some issues in this short of a barrel. My design is based on the AAC M4-2000. It has a large expansion chamber, one blast baffle, and several clipped cones spaced closely together. This blast baffle does a lot to keep backpressure reasonable. I milled it from 416 stainless.

Here’s the 3D design of the blast baffle:giag-suppressor-part-2

The regular baffles. These are very reminiscent of some baffles Gemtech uses, as discussed below.giag-suppressor-part-3 Here’s the FEA of the baffle, showing the projected pressure drop across it. Noise suppression is all about managing pressure, temperature and time. (Software: Autodesk Flow Design, which is free as in beer).giag-suppressor-flow-sim-2

And here’s similar beauty shots of his .300 Blackout suppressor.

giag-suppressor giag-suppressor-baffle

A look in at that type of baffle. That’s not a baffle strike, that’s a feature of the design:

giag-suppressor-baffle-in-placegiag-suppressor-flow-sim

And here are the pair of them, completed and installed:

giag-suppressed-carbines

There are some other Guy in a Garage features there, including a home-made lower and home-made thermal sight. He used a quick-detach system designed by Yankee Hill Machine.

A suppressor (or any muzzle device) made of aluminum alloy, even a strong one like 7075, is going to have durability issues relative to one made of steel or exotic material like cobalt alloys (Inconel) or titanium alloys. But the exotic metals are much harder to machine than steel. This is one reason that selective laser sintering has been cost-effective for prototyping and limited production in such exotics. If you’re limited to subtractive manufacturing, aluminum alloys and steels are much more easily cut.

A word on baffles. We just got to try out a Walther .22 with a Gemtech suppressor that uses a similar style baffle. The suppressor was Hollywood tiny, but with subsonic ammo it was graveyard quiet. In fact, close to Hollywood quiet. (You do know the sounds of “suppressed” firearms in movies are dubbed in in post-processing by the Foley artists, right?) It made our old Hi-Standards sound like a 2″ .44 Magnum by comparison. We didn’t try the pistol with supersonic ammo, but the guy who had the Gemtech (his organization’s, we think, not personal) says it’s still extremely quiet, just not that quiet.

In the Gemtech, the little notch that looks to the novice eye like an artifact of a baffle strike — it isn’t — is turned 90º from the one in the preceding baffle. The Gemtech’s baffles are made of titanium, one reason the suppressor is as light as it is small.

Update

We should have initially included these, in which Guy (username Flood_) answers many questions: Imgur thread and Reddit thread, both from three weeks or so ago. Don’t forget to click the “More comments” button at Reddit.