Monthly Archives: December 2016

Saturday Matinee 2016 052: Fargo (1996)

Fargo is exciting, imaginative, original, and compelling; it makes everybody’s best-of lists, and despite that, the famously imitative Hollywood establishment hasn’t knocked it off. It’s sui generis; it defies imitation, because all of its unique features lock together so well.

It’s the production/directing/writing skills of the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan), plus the acting talent of an ensemble cast, plus the absolutely unique but eerily authentic setting in wintry Minnesota that glue the audience’s eyeballs open for the entire runtime of the movie.

It also defies genre. It’s dark and thrilling, in places, for a comedy; it’s too funny, in others, for a drama. It’s not a police procedural, even though an unlikely but able cop effectively pursues a bizarre criminal conspiracy; it’s not a caper flick, even though an unlikely, impulsive and incompetent gang of criminals pursue a big score from end to end.

Guns don’t play that big a role in the production, despite the movie containing more murders of well-off white people than a typical year in Minnesota. Sure, there’s shootings, fatal and not, but there’s also an epic non-fatal beatdown, an ax murder, a chair murder (offscreen), and a firewood assault.

You also see Minnesota’s arguably greatest celebrity, the late Prince, in a bit role where he doesn’t show his face, and gets shot (he’s credited, as “Victim in Field,” by the unpronounceable symbol he once affected as a name).

Acting and Production

The acting is a strength of the production, or is it the script? Where does one leave off and the other begin? Frances McDormand won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Brainerd, MN, Police Chief Marge Gunderson, and seldom has a statuette been more deserved. McDormand could do 100 classic films, and this still will be the one for which she’ll be remembered. William H. Macy’s dangerous weasel of a car salesman, Jerry Lundergaard, is also a perfectly cast role. The two gangsters, Steve Buscemi as an impulsive, boastful sleazeball and Peter Stormare as a brooding, sociopathic menace, are the sort of criminals whose real-world existence the papers daily attest. You never think, “he’s acting a good criminal,” you think, “egad, what a criminal.” The second line supporting cast, mostly little-known but hard-working actors, make their roles come alive.

The production moves rapidly, and makes the cold, flat, barren landscape of the upper midwest into a character of its own, one that makes the viewer see the plausibility in car dealers’ get-rich-quick schemes and in the sordid interactions of professional, if small-time, criminals. The screenplay also won an Oscar, and like McDormand’s, it was well-deserved.

Accuracy and Weapons

For a movie with lots of cops on screen for lots of time, and depicting lots and lots of murders, guns are not as big a player in the movie as you might expect. The guns are plausible for the era and location. The cops still carry revolvers, Chief Gunderson, naturally, a Chief’s Special.

The bad guys seem to use one or more SIG 22xs, usually at “I seldom miss at this range” range.

There’s no rifles, shotguns, tanks, Bearcats, or gigantic fireball explosions, but that’s par for the course for the 1980s and 90s.

One inaccuracy of the on-screen gunplay is, well, excessive accuracy: every shot fired hits, even though they’re all fired by the worlds two least skilled classes of marksmen: criminals and cops.

Guns aren’t the only weapons used here. There are also many other personal and improvised weapons used in the various on-screen crimes and atonements therefor, including the legendary woodchipper.

There is an ax murder, that is not shown in graphic detail, but that takes place only after a ton of foreshadowing. Chekov’s Gun has nothing on Paul Bunyan’s Axe, and that’s all we’re going to say about that.

The bottom line

Fargo is a delightfully entertaining movie, with deep characters that deserve audience boos and hisses, and that earn that reaction by their actions on screen, not by moviemakers actuating tired old tropes. The Coens are famous for their refusal to ever make the same movie twice, and perhaps that is part of why they never make a movie that is dull or clichéd, but instead make entertainment that is not only worth watching, but almost impossible to stop watching. Fargo was 20 years old last year, and it’s time for it to find a new audience.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • Amazon.com DVD page:
  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116282/

  • IMFDB page:

http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Fargo_(1996)

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page (96%):

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fargo/

  • Infogalactic  page:

https://infogalactic.com/info/Fargo_(film)

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Tinder

It began as a missing persons case… and Francia Ruth Ibarra here, copping a selfie in happier days, wasn’t found the way a father wants his lost daughter to turn up. The Sun tabloid (UK):

Accused Emmanuel Delani Valdez Bocanegra, 26, was quizzed when friends and family of his victim reported her missing after she hooked up with him via the dating app.

The pair had met through the dating app Tinder and had then met several times over the past few months before Francia disappeared.

Her university friends backtracked her social media postings and found she’d been dating Boncanegra, a former student.

It was only after Bocanegra (left) did a runner to Mexico City from his home in Leon, Mexico, that the Federales pulled a search warrant on his house. There, they found Francia. Sort of.

Gruesome remains of human bones were found in bin bags on his apartment balcony beside canisters of caustic soda and hydrochloric acid.

Six kilos of human flesh retrieved from the bones have been DNA matched with the victim, Francia Ruth Ibarra, also 26.

Her clothes were found hidden in a bag inside the apartment in Leon, central Mexico.

Why did he do it? The cops say she went on the date with him, and then refused to put out. So he whacked her and used Breaking Bad for a how-to manual, only discovering too late to save himself that the show was written by, well, screenwriters, not actual chemists.

Anyway, the Mexican cops want us Norteamericaños to know that they don’t send us, as some Americans believe, all their criminals. The cops there would have an easier job of it, if they did.

Before the USS Albacore, there was the V80

Long before the United States experimented with a tuna-shaped submarine, the Germans did. The V80 was an experimental, unarmed research sub (and therefore a perfect analog of Albacore) that was intended to test new technology in propulsion and hydrodynamics. First underway in 1939, it was never commissioned into the Deutsche Kriegsmarine, formally, but it was intended to show the way forward in submarine technology.

Indeed it did — but not in time to benefit the Germans.

The two revolutionary technologies in the V80 were air-independent propulsion and improved hydrodynamics, from using a streamlined, tuna-like shape. In addition to the attempt to lower the form drag on the vessel, great attention was paid to eliminating all the usual parasitic producers of turbulence on then-current boats: handrails, drain holes, rivets and plates and bulges. In addition to the main benefit, speed, the V80 demonstrated that a cleanup of the sub’s shape and skin could greatly reduce its sonar signature.

Its name came from Versuchs (test) and its displacement, 80 tons.  It had bunkerage for 21 tons of concentrated (“High Test”) H2O2 which gave it a range of only 50 nautical miles at its ultimate top speed of 28 knots. It carried a crew of 4 and no arms at all.

The AIP installation used in the V80 was a hydrogen peroxide catalytic turbine. The engine, and the sub, were designed by rocket-engine and H2O2 expert Dr. Ing. Hellmuth Walter, whose fertile mind and sharp pencil also provided the rockets that drove the Me163 fighter jet and that were used as JATO boosters by German aircraft.

In the engine, the peroxide was exposed to a catalyst and produced an exothermic reaction that drove the turbine with the output gases: oxygen and steam (water vapor). With the efficient  (for the day) engine and the sub’s special shape, the V80 set speed records — 23 knots in 1939.

Admiral Karl Dönitz immediately grasped the potential of this technology, and Walter went to work designing larger boats. There was, first, a double class of weaponized research vessels, the Type XVIIA and XVIIB boats. Then there was the Type XVIII. None of these was made in quantity, or in time, to have a combat impact.

After the war, these technologies were pursued for a while, but they had safety implications that ultimately sidelined them, especially after the advent of nuclear power. The Russians use peroxide propulsion for some torpedoes (which caused the loss of the submarine Kursk and its crew), and in recent years, air-independent propulsion has made a comeback.

Sources:

Uboat.net. U-boat Types: The Walter Boats: The Walter U-boat Types. Retrieved from: http://uboat.net/types/walter.htm

Uboat.net. U-boat Types: The Walter Boats: V80. Retrieved from: http://uboat.net/types/v80.htm

 

What’s a Duffle Bag Cut?

It never occurred to us until recently that there were people in the gun culture unfamiliar with the Duffle Bag Cut, until a knowledgeable young gun guy asked us, “What’s a Duffle Bag Cut?” as we described such a cut on a Mauser that Santa brought us this year.

Some of the WeaponsMan related Christmas stuff, posing at the tree. The cut doesn’t show with the rifle at rest.

Thing is, if you grew up in collecting in the 50s, 60s or 70s, many WWI and WWII vintage long guns had this cut, and everybody knew why.

Rear side of the cut, which was done with the stock off the gun. The dual sling swivels (left side for cavalry, bottom for infantry) was often seen on Czech long arms like this early 7.92 mm vz.24.

But circumstances have changed, a lot. The military, especially the military police and the judge advocates, have fallen under the sway of gun control activists, and the guys are no longer permitted to take and keep war trophies.

Taking an enemy firearm as a trophy was widespread (and even encouraged, or at least permitted) in World War I and II and the Korean War. It came under some restrictions in Vietnam, and by the GWOT was totally and utterly banned.

Here’s the nose end of the cut. It looks like it was ineffectually (WECSOG?) glued in the past.

But during its heyday in the 20th Century, war trophy taking was a norm. The weapons were brought back by the frontline troops who took them, the rear-echelon troops who traded for them, and the MPs who confiscated them for their own personal benefit, which was definitely a thing, if you listened to the WWII guys when they were still around to talk.

There was a problem, though. A Mauser or Arisaka didn’t fit in a GI duffel bag (and often, all a troop had for luggage was a duffle bag and a field pack). Enter the Duffle Bag Cut. Someone would cut the stock where the cut would be hidden by the barrel band.

This WWII bringback in a genuine WWII duffle bag (late Great Uncle Ovide’s) shows how the cut made it possible to close the bag on a disassembled Mauser, where even the bare stock would have been several inches too long. .

A permanent alteration to a firearm usually gets collectors all wound up, but this cut now a 70-year-old marker, an authentic part of the gun’s history and the tale it would tell if it could talk. Under the barrel band, it doesn’t hurt the utility of the gun for display, and so few collectors would consider repairing the cut (although any gunsmith not of the Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing could). Those WWII soldiers who brought back Mausers and Arisakas, etc., were looking to keep them as trophies, or have them sporterized as deer guns, and the last few inches of the wood was not of any use on a sporting rifle.

A Duffle Bag Cut should not be seen on a gun with import marks. Instead, it’s the second-best indicator (after military capture or bringback papers) of a GI bringback. And it’s just one more interesting little thing about our Christmas VZ.24 Mauser.

(Note: We were expecting to put the 3rd Part of our M16A2 paper analysis up at this point, but have delayed and delayed and fiddled, waiting for a resource that has been unavailable; should we get our mitts on it again, we’ll have the post Monday morning. We regret the delay. -Ed.)

Friday Tour d’Horizon, Week 52

Last Tour d’Horizon of 2016, which conveniently ends on a Saturday.

Guns

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

That’s Not an Auction, Mate. This is an Auction:

Rock Island’s next Regional Auction is going to take place Feb. 16-19. Why four days, when past auctions have been two or occasionally three?

Ten thousand guns. That’s a one followed by four zeroes. Here’s the catalog. There are 2093 lots that are curio and relic firearms. Winchester? 892 lots. Colt, 784. Mauser is represented with 180, and Springfield Armory (mostly, the real Springfield Armory) with 230, including a rare Springfield .45 M1911 made in 1914.

You know you want it.

And a fake Luger prototype, which they give the dignified name of “professional copy” to:

That’s one of over 100 Lugers, including at least a dozen Artillery (lange Pistole.08) and at least one Navy model.

Gun Stocks update

Pre-Election closings: RGR 64.40, SWHC 28.45, VSTO 38.94.  [8 Nov 16]
-6 week’s closings: RGR 53.20, SWHC 24.13, VSTO 40.02. [18 Nov 16]
-5 week’s closings: RGR 52.50, SWHC 23.82, VSTO 41.05. [25 Nov 16] [short trading day and week]
-4 week’s closings: RGR 50.25, SWHC 21.10, VSTO 39.66. [2 Dec 16]
-3 week’s closings: RGR 51.90, SWHC 21.07, VSTO 38.62. [9 Dec 16]
-2 week’s closings: RGR 53.45, SWHC 21.59, VSTO 36.81. [16 Dec 16]
Last week’s closings: RGR 54.05, SWHC 22.11, VSTO 38.02. [23 Dec 16]

This week’s closings: RGR 52.70, SWHC 21.08, VSTO 36.90. [30 Dec 16]

Red means “lower than the previous week.” All three stocks are lower this week.

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov. It bottomed in the 40s later that day. We still think it has longterm growth potential, and we like the dividend, but we’ve lost (on paper) thousands of dollars.

 

Gun Poly-Ticks

Eurocrats Impose Sweeping Gun Restrictions

Pro-gun Activists Lost; the Euro restrictions passed. The New York Times is ecstatic. Their photog captured Jean-Claude Juncker in the early stages of his Hitler salute, fittingly enough.

California Laws

In California, loopy new laws effective tomorrow raise the minimum wage in steps to $15 (a subsidy for automation developers), encourage the distribution of EpiPens (from a company controlled by the family of politician Joe Manchin), banned sports teams named Redskins and redefined underage hookers as victims-of-trafficking instead, insuring a ready supply of the underage hookers so popular in Sacramento. There are also, being California, plenty of loopy new gun laws. ABC TV-7 LA:

People who own magazines that hold more than 10 rounds will be required to give them up starting Jan. 1.

Good luck with that. Previous bans everywhere have seen compliance rates from rounds-to-zero to approximately 30 percent, and no ban has ever seriously restricted criminal access to weapons.

But of course, this ban is not aimed at criminal access, but at yours. 

Buyers must undergo a background check before purchasing ammunition and will be barred from buying new weapons that have a device known as a bullet button.

NICS for ammo is just a “sickener” meant to shrink participation in shooting sports. The Bullet Button is a California-only perversion that turned a detachable-magazine firearm into a firearm with a magazine only removable by a tool, such as the tip of a bullet.

Law enforcement officers will be required to follow the same rules as civilians by securely storing handguns in a lockbox out of plain view or in the trunk if the weapons are left in an unattended vehicle. SB 869 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, closed a legal loophole that had exempted authorities and concealed weapons permit holders from those rules. The move came after stolen guns were used in high-profile crimes.

The reporter doesn’t want to mention that the “high-profile” crimes were things like the murder of Kate Steinle, committed by a criminal alien, who was free to commit the outrage under California and San Francisco sanctuary-for-violent-criminal-aliens policy.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. This week the theme is Safety

Safety: Don’t do this.

We”ll just put this out there:

[A] woman shot in the eye at a South Carolina gun range earlier this week has died.

Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore told local media outlets that 24-year-old Sarah Bonner from Lawrenceville, Georgia, died early Thursday after being on life support for several days.

She was shot in the face Monday while visiting friends and family for Christmas. Shore says an autopsy is being done, and the bullet will be examined to show which gun it came from.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Sheila Cole said in an email that investigators are examining whether the shooting was an accident.

Now, it might not be an accident. It might be one of those rental range suicides that have been creeping out ROs and range owners for the last few years.

Safety: And Don’t do this, either.

One suspects that “the second officer” has beaucoup ‘splaining to do, back at the cop shop:

Police in Weatherford near Fort Worth say officer Chris Bumpas was conducting the stop Thursday evening when he discovered there was a warrant for the arrest of one of three people in the vehicle.

Police said in a statement that the man became combative and struck the officer with a flashlight.

The second officer couldn’t subdue the suspect using a stun gun and fired multiple shots, striking Bumpas and the suspect.

Police say Bumpas is recovering from surgery on his abdomen. The suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, is in guarded condition at a hospital.

We’ll bet he’s in “guarded” condition. But while we often make fun of cop marksmanship, the joke’s not funny this time. May the officer recover.

Safety: It’s Always Loaded, Especially With Someone New

This guy should have known better — he was a 71 year old lifelong gun owner and NRA member, and one of the few friendly voices we had in the legacy media. But M.D. Harmon was showing a kid and his father a gun in his own house, and when the kid handled the gun, it fired a single shot, killing Harmon instantly.

What state is your firearm in, people? Loaded. Form the habit. Harmon never expected an accident, either.

Safety: A 12-Year-Old Boy

After hunting with family and friends, the party returned and were handling a gun.

Spencer Bennett Jr., died at a friend’s home in Noxubee County on Thursday after a high-powered rifle discharged.

Bennett had just returned from hunting with a friend and an adult shortly after 6 p.m. Calhoun said they apparently were passing around the firearm when it discharged accidentally. He said Bennett was shot in the upper abdomen and died at the scene.

Heartbreaking.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

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

Chicago Racks up Records

While the rest of the world was celebrating a Christmas message of peace and light, the black gangs of Chicago were braving cold weather to commit dozens of shootings and at least 13 murders, bringing the city tally to 785 homicides, of which about 90% (705) were by gunfire, by midway through the weekend.

New Years’ weekend is only getting underway, but as of 10 PM Friday night, it seems probable it will break the 2015-16 record of 4 killed 40 wounded is probable (3 killed, 4 wounded with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday’s day off still to be counted).

The box score is 793 homicides of which 713 were by firearm, with one long day yet to go.

In an interesting statistic, while Chicago and other police ended the criminal careers of 11 perps with well-placed gunshots, since the legalization of self defense over the objections of the Chicago political combine, non-cop self-defenders have nailed 9 of the varmints. One of them just today. (He actually shot two robbers, but Chicago’s very experienced trauma teams saved one).

One factor? With the police having “gone fetal,” in the memorable phrase of the cop-loathing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, arrests are way, way, down: 28% according to the higher-ups, and 35% by Second City Cop’s estimate. If you don’t arrest criminals, they’re available on the street to do killings. Funny how that works.

As the year ends, Chicago’s homicide clearance rate is a mighty 18.4%.

All stats, of course, are from HeyJackass.com.

The Perils of Kathleen: Back in the News

The anti-gun, convicted felon former Attorney General remains a headline producer.

  • Item: State Wants to Stiff Kane Email LawyersKane ran an investigation on a cost-no-object basis into off-color emails sent by other public servants. Her objective was, apparently, a tu quoque defense, which she should have learned in law school doesn’t work. The State has paid almost $400k but the lawyers want a total of nearly $2 million.

A spokesman for Attorney General Bruce Beemer said Thursday the office is trying to negotiate an “acceptable settlement.” The spokesman says the office has paid $385,000, while the Buckley Sandler law firm is seeking approximately $1.5 million more.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

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

Jews to Obama: Thanks, We’ll Pass on your Boxcars

After the injury of a UN vote to condemn Israel — something signaled years ago when the anti-Semite, seething, and man-jawed Samantha Power was named UN ambassador — the Obama followed up with an insult at a national menorah lighting ceremony. They sent, as the traditional government participant, a nominally Jewish entry-level political appointee who has been working to redefine zionism as terrorism.

But the rabbi leading the ceremony, Levi Shemtov, let the official, acting undersecretary for terrorism in the Treasury Department Adam Szubin, say he piece, then insulted Szubin in turn, albeit politely: he brought up the name of perhaps the most hated Jew in the most Jew-hating Administration the United States has ever had, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Szubin was left to seethe in silence at what was otherwise the high-water mark of his career as a payroll patriot.

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to o disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™? (Nothing this week, sorry).

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.(Nothing this week, sorry).

How Many Johnsons Does One Man Need?

New Market Arms has a range of Johnson M1941 rifles including a rare tolroom prototype. A couple of them are for sale on GunBroker — thanks to commenter Josey Wales for tipping us off — and more are on the website. We want them all, but we’ve already got a couple of Johnsons, and how many does one need?

The right answer, of course, is “need doesn’t enter into it” with these rare and historic firearms.

The rarest of them is this tool room prototype, numbered S-3. (And see the GunBroker auction here).

This is a very rare, one of only six manufactured, Johnson Automatics Model 1941 Tool Room Sample Rifle in .30-06, that is still in its military configuration.

An amazing set of almost 200 photos of this rifle is available. It includes comparison between this pre-production and production Johnsons that are of great interest to all Johnson students and collectors.

An agreement was ultimately reached between Johnson Automatics and the Universal Windings Company that resulted in the establishment of the Cranston Arms Company of Cranston, Rhode Island, which would produce Johnson’s Model 1941 Rifle. Cranston Arms also produced Johnson’s Model of 1941 Light Machine Gun, which shared several design features with his semi-automatic rifle. Cranston Arms (a subsidiary of Universal Windings), Johnson Automatics, Inc. and Johnson Automatics Manufacturing Company (JAMCO) set up shot next to Universal Windings and produced its first assembly line rifle, serial number S-1 in April 1941. On April 19, 1941, the employees gathered at the factory rifle range for the first firing of serial number S-1. As Bruce Canfield states in his book, “Maynard Johnson picked up the first rifle off the line and carefully loaded it. He took aim at the target located at the other end of the 100-yard range, carefully squeezed the trigger and fired the rifle. To his astonishment, and the other witnesses’ shock and amazement, the rifle did not extract and eject the spent cartridge case and it failed to function as a semiautomatic. It is reported that Johnson nearly bit his frequently present cigar in half in irritation, frustration and rage.”

Canfield goes on to explain that the rifle could only be operated by direct manipulation of the bolt. The rifle was quickly unloaded and disassembled with all of the component parts compared against the blueprints. It was quickly discovered that Cranston Arms had failed to properly machine one of the bolt cams. The bolt was machined to specification, reinstalled into the rifle and the rifle was loaded for firing. This time Johnson’s rifle performed perfectly.

This particular rifle, Serial Number S-3, was probably manufactured the same day or within a day or two of rifle S-1 noted above. It is believed that only six of these tool room sample rifles with the “S” prefix were manufactured. The full production rifles were serial numbered in accordance with Dutch military policy, in serial numbered blocks of 9,999 rifles. The first block from serial number 0001-9999 did not have a prefix. The second block had prefix “A” and the third and final block of production had prefix “B.”

S-3 is interesting because, unlike the early R-models, it’s almost exactly like production guns. The differences are small and subtle and are detailed on the sales page,

As noted, this particular Johnson M1941 Rifle is serial number S-3 and is one of the initial tool room sample rifles manufactured by Cranston Arms. As can be clearly seen in the comparison photos, this tool room sample differed slightly from the final production model as Cranston and the Johnson team made some additional refinements prior to commencing main line production.

This rifle is in fine condition. The original barrel is in its original 22” military configuration with the sight protective ears and the bayonet lug. The front sight assembly is slightly different than production models with the machining and height of the front sight post slightly shorter on this tool room sample than the later production models. The front sight pins remain correctly staked in place and have never been removed. The barrel has 98% of its original finish. The barrel has strong rifling and a mirror bore so this will be an excellent shooting rifle. The muzzle gauges at approximately 0.5 and the muzzle crown remains perfect.

The Barrel Bushing has the correct “.30-’06” and “41” markings stamped on the face. The font is different, however, than later production rifles. Near the breech it has the “O [Gladius Sword] I” in a circle stamp found on all early Johnson 1941 Barrels. It is also correctly marked “J.A./30-06,” still crisply stamped. The Locking Bushing is in excellent condition with normal wear on the lugs. This bushing is also slightly different than production models in that the lugs here are more squared whereas the lugs on later production models were slightly rounded. The breech face remains in the white. The threads can be seen, which also differs from later production models. Both the Barrel and Locking Bushing have the matching assembly number “6664K” stamp. None of the M1941 Johnson Rifles were serial number matching so all of the Johnson 1941 Rifles will have different numbers on the bolt and barrel. The original Bayonet Lug is present. The first tool room rifle, serial number “S-1,” did not have the bayonet lug attached. It is unclear if serial number “S-2” had a bayonet lug so this could be the first of the Johnson rifles with this lug configuration.

The Receiver retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish. It has the correct “CRANSTON ARMS CO.” triangle on the right rear of the receiver. Significantly, it does not have the star stamp above the triangle. The star indicated original Dutch acceptance according to Bruce Canfield, prior to Japanese occupation of Dutch possessions in the Pacific and before these rifles were then offered to the Marine Corps. Since this was a tool room sample, it would not have received the Dutch acceptance star since it was never intended to be shipped to the Dutch. The Receiver markings are still very crisp on the top of the receiver. These markings include Johnson’s patent information, “JOHNSON AUTOMATICS” over “MODEL OF 1941,” and the manufacturer’s location, “MADE IN PROVIDENCE, R.I., U.S.” The font and size of the receiver markings are slightly different than later production models. Below that is the serial number “S-3.” All of the stampings remain crisp. The ventilated forward portion of the receiver, which becomes a ventilated top handguard, retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish.

The Rear Sight Assembly is in very fine condition and it also differs slightly from later main line production rifles. The Windage Knob is in fine condition and adjusts perfectly. The Aperture remains in its original military configuration. The Rear Sight Protective Wings retain virtually all of their original finish and differ slightly than later production models. The Rear Sight Elevator has a different font than later production models. The numbers on the right side still have the original paint that has yellowed slightly.

The original Firing Pin Stop Assembly is present and it retains all of its original blue finish. The original Firing Pin is present and it differs from later production models by slight machining differences towards the point. The Firing Pin retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish. The pin has the assembly number “J9303” on the side along with a “0” stamp towards the front. The Firing Pin Spring remains in the white.

 

The Bolt Catch Assembly is present and differs from later production models by the length of the machined channel.

This Johnson Model 1941 comes with a very rare and original Dutch Model leather sling. .

This Johnson Model 1941 Rifle also comes with an original and very rare Johnson Model 1941 Bayonet and leather scabbard.

This is an extraordinarily rare Johnson Model 1941 Tool Room Sample Rifle and is just the third of these pre-production rifles manufactured.

What is its provenance?

This rifle was purchased by an employee of Cranston Arms when the rifle was manufactured and was passed down through his family to his grandson. This rifle is in the exact condition it was when it was manufactured in 1941 and undoubtedly was fired by Maynard Johnson himself.

On the website, New Market is asking $16,000 for S-3; on GunBroker, bids in the $7,500 range did not meet reserve and it’s relisted. There is a buy-it-now of $

In addition to S-3, New Market has several more Johnsons for sale.

They do provide, with each listing, a very solid capsule history of the Johnson M1941, which appears to be a distillation of Bruce Canfield’s book (this is a good thing; we recently recommended it to specialists in a book-review roundup (Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews #5). (If you want early Johnson history beyond this, there’s more at the sales page for S-3, and of course the most comprehensive answer is the Canfield book).

The history of the Johnson 1941 Rifle, and its designer, is a very interesting one that began on the eve of WWII. The designer of the rifle was Melvin Maynard Johnson, Jr., who graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He was also an avid firearms enthusiast from a young age and, around the same time that he graduated from law school he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. Johnson took advantage of his association with the Marine Corps to pen various articles for the Marine Corps Gazette in the early 1930s. One of his articles was a general critique of the new M1 Garand Semi-Automatic Rifle. Johnson took issue in his article with the M1s “gas trap” design and its en block clip loading design, as well as several other issues with the rifle.

Melvin Johnson began an early relationship with the United Automatic Rifles Corporation in the early 1930s, initially in his role as an attorney, and began to provide the company with mechanical and engineering work on various rifle designs. The relationship did not survive but it solidified in Johnson the desire to experiment with and develop his own weapons designs. One of his first experiments, undoubtedly as a counter to the gas operated M1 Garand design, was in recoil operated automatic weapons design. Johnson eventually partnered with Marlin Firearms to build a semi-automatic rifle and light machine gun, both of which used a vertical feed design through the use of Browning Automatic Rifle 20-round magazines. The magazines developed several problems during tests at Fort Benning but Johnson was undeterred and continued developing both weapons. This led Johnson to begin work on a rotary magazine design.

In the late 1930s, Johnson founded Johnson Automatics, Incorporated, which would be the operating entity that would own the patent rights (and hopefully obtain manufacturing rights) for all of Johnson’s weapons designs. Johnson then began a determined effort to sell his designs, and his weapons, to the US Army and Marine Corps and various countries, including Great Britain and France. The rifle design that Johnson settled on, which he felt was superior to the M1 Garand rifle, was what became his Model 1941 Rifle. This rifle had a detachable barrel, a 10-round rotary magazine, and was recoil operated. The US Army, however, had settled on the M1 Garand rifle, which was then in production at Springfield Armory. Johnson continued to believe that his rifle design was just as good as John C. Garand’s design and he began to lobby members of Congress in an attempt to reopen the weapons tests that led to the adoption of the M1. Congress eventually held several rounds of hearings and, after an additional series of “head-to-head” tests, the M1 Garand was deemed superior by the Army. This left Melvin Johnson continuing to try and win a contract from the Marine Corps, which had not formally adopted a replacement for the 1903 Rifle, and from various foreign governments. Melvin Johnson had finalized his Model 1941 design by this point and now needed the assistance of an established manufacturing business to go forward with large-scale production.

An agreement was ultimately reached between Johnson Automatics and the Universal Windings Company that resulted in the establishment of the Cranston Arms Company of Cranston, Rhode Island, which would produce Johnson’s Model 1941 Rifle. Cranston Arms also produced Johnson’s Model of 1941 Light Machine Gun, which shared several design features with his semi-automatic rifle. Only a limited number of M1941 rifles had been shipped to the Dutch in the East Indies prior to the Japanese capture of Dutch possessions in the Pacific in early 1942. Some of these rifles were ultimately captured by the Japanese near the airfield at Tarikan and the port of Balikpapan in 1942. The rest were evacuated and used by the Free Dutch forces fighting in Timor through 1943. Some of the Dutch M1941 rifles were even used for a time by Australian forces fighting in Timor. The remaining M1941 rifles were then embargoed to keep them from being sent to the East Indies and possibly captured by the Japanese.

After the United States entered the war in December 1941, demand for military arms soared. By this time, the Marine Corps had followed the Army’s lead in adopting the M1 as its standard battle rifle, but M1 production was initially unable to meet demand. In addition, much to the Marine Corps’ chagrin, the Army had first priority on available supplies and on future output from Springfield Armory and Winchester, the two manufacturers of the M1 Rifle. As a result, the Johnson M1941 rifle was adopted by the Marines for issue to Marine Raiders and to newly-formed Para-Marine airborne units (because the barrel could be removed for ease of jumping the weapon), and these rifles saw action in the Solomons campaign of 1942. As M1s became available to Marine units, the Johnson rifles were withdrawn from combat use. Only a few thousand of these arms had been procured by the U.S. government before production ended in 1944, and, in addition to their limited use with the Marine Corps, some Johnson rifles were issued to clandestine O.S.S. operatives. Because the rifle was never officially adopted by the US military, and because WWII prevented any opportunity Johnson may have had for robust foreign sales, the total number of Johnson 1941 Rifles manufactured was very small, only about 30,000. Johnson Model 1941 Rifles were serial numbered in groups of 10,000, with the first 10,000 having no prefix, the second group with prefix “A,” third group with prefix “B.”

For the tool room prototype, he provides more history.

The prices seem high to us (one of our Johnsons cost us $4k, and one $700 — decades earlier, when a 1911 was $225) but New Market has sold Johnsons they were listing for $6,250 and $7,500 recently.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Lighter Fluid

The horrific murder took place in full view of surveillance cameras — so the murderer, who remains at large, disguised himself. A week since the murder, and the trail has gone cold. The cops have the disguise, rain gear; the escape vehicle, a bicycle; and very little clue as to the perpetrator’s motive or identity. They’ve offered a reward of $10,000; rewards are often a sign of cops having hit an evidentiary wall, and hoping some associate will betray the miscreant.

Deputies about 7 p.m. responded to the Rocky Ledge Shell Station, about 3 miles east of central Burney on Highway 299 in the Johnson Park area, for a report of a fire at the gas station. There, medics found [54-year-old David] Wicks, who works at the store, suffering from severe burns.

Emergency workers took him via helicopter to a local hospital, where he died, Bertain said.

The how mystery was solved when they reviewed the video tape.

Sheriff’s detectives reviewed video surveillance from the store, which shows an unidentified person walking in, spraying Wicks with a liquid and lighting Wicks on fire as he walks out from behind the store counter, Bertain said.

The suspect was wearing what appeared to be yellow rain gear over a black hoodie and gloves, according to a surveillance image provided by detectives.

Deputies have no other description beyond what’s shown in surveillance footage, though they did find a bicycle nearby.

via $10,000 Reward offered in burning death of Burney man.

And once again we see that murder does not follow from guns. It comes from the dark places in men’s hearts and men’s impulses, and can emerge in myriad ways.

There are several other stories about this heinous crime on the site, but none of them provides the welcome news that this monster has been identified and neutralized. Here’s hoping for a break in the case. They have found no one seems to have had any reason to wish poor Wicks ill, let alone to have slain him in such a barbaric fashion.

Yeah, the Russians Probably Did Penetrate the DNC

Since the election, we frequently hear the charge that the Russians were behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s poorly-secured mail systems, and that they did it in order to influence the election. This is what has led the outgoing president to expel some three dozen Russian diplomats, some of whom are most certainly intelligence officers, and some of whom are probably just diplomats. It is interesting to note that he did not react to anything Russian intelligence has done for the last eight years, until it became entangled with the fortunes of his own political party. Iranians murder Americans, he did nothing; Russia invades neighbors, he does nothing; Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorism, he does nothing; China expands its borders onto Vietnamese or Filipino territory, he does nothing; Syria gasses civilians, he does nothing. Only The Party is worth defending.

Customarily, an expulsion of diplomats (often when an intelligence net is rolled up) is followed pro forma by the tit-for-tat expulsion of their opposite numbers by the competitor nation. By not doing this, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has expressed his and his nation’s contempt for Obama and his supine administration.

“The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin website. “We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”

“Moreover, I am inviting all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas parties at the Kremlin,” he said.

Troll level: Tsar. It gets even better, though:

Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, took to Facebook to call the Obama administration “a group of foreign policy losers, angry and ignorant.”

“My country, may it always be right, but my country, right or wrong,” is a noble statement, but it is hard to argue with Miss Zakharova’s assessment of the outgoing Russian policy of irregularly alternating periods of groveling supplication and periods of infantile tantrum that have comprised the last eight years.

Let’s get back to the crime at issue. Technically, it wasn’t a “hack,” this penetration: the “hacker” used social engineering, spearphishing, to induce officials at the target (and many others) to admit them onto the network and give up access. As is often the case, senior officers of the organization think they’re above the laws and rules that apply to mere mortals (consider the wrist tap David Petraeus received for mishandling classified, or the non-prosecution of the Bush-era leaker Richard Armitage, who was not prosecuted because he was too well-connected).

We believe that the Russians probably are responsible for the penetration, but that’s only one of the allegations that are made. In a moment, we’ll share our evidence for Russian responsibility, but we have to say that evidence for the proposition that the DNC was particularly or uniquely targeted is lacking, especially in light of the fact that the same APTs targeted their Republican opposite numbers, albeit less successfullly; and evidence of Russian motives is entirely absent.

Many in the media seem to assume that V.V. Putin preferred Trump because he feared Hillary Clinton, which is in our view both a vast underestimation of the Russian supremo and an overestimation of his would-be American opposite number. The only thing Russia had to fear from a Clinton Administration was more of the illogic and unpredictability of the Obama years. Trump could be predicted, perhaps, to behave rationally in American interests, and Russian leaders and diplomats might be relieved to have that, after the 2008-16 World Apology Tour.

Here is a technical breakdown of the DNC break-in, from consultants that the Committee itself used, which dates from prior to the election; in fact, the hack and the cybersecurity firm’s involvement date to 2015.

CrowdStrike Services Inc., our Incident Response group, was called by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the formal governing body for the US Democratic Party, to respond to a suspected breach. We deployed our IR team and technology and immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network – COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR. We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well. In fact, our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis. Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.

COZY BEAR is a CrowdStrike name for something other researchers call APT 29 (Advanced Persistent Threat is a term of art for competitive or adverse nation-state level permanent cyber establishments) and is associated in unclassified literature with Russian civil intelligence services, either FSB (internal security, broadly similar to FBI-National Security, or MI5) or SVR (external intelligence, similar to CIA or MI6).  FANCY BEAR, APT 28, is associated more solidly with Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

One of the more interesting observations by CrowdStrike’s Dmitry Alperovich is that there is no apparent coordination between the two APTs, with COZY and FANCY not only not working together, or even not deconflicting (as Western cyber entities might try to do), but not being aware that the other was at work here.

The implication of both military and civilian intelligence agencies targeting a single target is that the target is on the target list (EEI or CCIR, “Essential Elements of Information” or “Commander’s Critical Information Requirements,” depending on when you learned your acronyms) of some authority level to which both military and civilian intelligence are responsible. We leave finding that level on a Russian org chart as an exercise for the reader.

The “intelligence community” report published by the DNI seems to be a rewrite of a version of this report by CrowdStrike, probably the original, as provided to their client, the DNC (which tells you all you need to know about the incumbent DNI). There is much more on the CrowdStrike website about the DNC penetration, for the technically adept. Note that what would have prevented this is not some magical software or big-dollar consultant, but the basic blocking and tackling of network security, software updates, and better education of senior officials who think they’re too important to pay attention in the cyber briefing. In other words, prevention is very simple, but very difficult in the real world.

As far as Russian election-altering intent goes, Lew Amselem, a retired diplomat, “ain’t buying it,” and neither are we.

Regular readers of this blog may find another report by CrowdStrike, on the GRU’s use of cyber to negate a Ukrainian artillery threat, of greater interest. We mean to write about this but we’ll put the link here in case we don’t get to it.

 

 

When the Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 2 of 3

The M16A2 was adopted by the Marines in 1983, and then by the Army in 1986. Shortly before its adoption, an Army contract analyzed the M16A2 — and found it all wrong for  the Army. The report is here: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168577.pdf

This is the second of a three part series. In the first part, yesterday on WeaponsMan.com, the Army contractors noted the specific solutions implemented on the A2 and the problems the Marines solved thereby, but complained that the problems and solutions were too USMC-specific. In this part, we’ll discuss just what they thought was wrong about the Marines’ product. In the third part, which we’ll post tomorrow, we’ll list the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods.

M16A1 (top) and M16A2.

As we recounted in yesterday’s post, the Army let a contract to analyze the Marines’ product-improved M16A1, originally called the M16 PIP (Product Improvement Program but in November 1983, type-classified as the M16A2. Did the A2 meet the Army’s needs for an improved rifle? The contractors recounted 17 improvements in the A2 versus the A1, and traced those improvements back to four or five fundamental goals of the Marine program: more range, accuracy and penetration at that range, more durability, and a burst-fire capability in place of the full-auto setting.

The Army contractors recognized what the USMC had done — and damned it with faint praise.

The M16A2 rifle was developed and tested by the U.S. Marine Corps. The purpose of this present analysis was to evaluate M16A2 rifle features as they relate to U.S. Army training and combat requirements. It was found that the M16A2 did not correct major shortcomings in the MI6Al and that many M16A2 features would be very problematic for the Army. Accordingly, this report provides several suggested rifle modifications which would improve training and combat performance.

The A1 shortcomings that the paper’s authors thought went unameliorated, or were worsened, by the A2 included:

  1. 25 Meter Setting: The M16A2 does not have a sight setting for firing at 25 meters, where zeroing and most practice firing occurs.
  2. Battlesight Zero: The M16A2 does not have a setting for battlesight zero, i.e., 250 meters.
  3. Aperture Size: The M16A2 probably does not have an aperture suitable for the battlesight, e.g., the single aperture used for most marksmanship training, the record fire course, the primary aperture for combat, etc. The 5mm aperture used for 0-200 meters is probably too large and the 1-3/4mm aperture used for 300-800 meters is probably too small.
  4. Sighting System: The M16A2 sighting system is too complex, i.e., elevation is changed three different ways, leaving too much room for soldier error.
  5. Sight Movement: Sight movements on the M16A2 result in changing bullet strike by different amounts; .5, 1, 1.4, and 3 minutes of angle (MOA)*. The sights intended for zeroing, .5 and 1.4 MOA, are not compatible with old Army zero targets or the new targets being fielded.
  6. Zero Recording: The M16A2 does not have a sighting system which allows for easy recording of rifle zero. Also, the zero cannot be confirmed by visual inspection.
  7. Returning to Zero: The M16A2 does not have a reliable procedure for setting an individual’s zero after changing sights for any reason, e.g., using MILES or .22 rimfire adaptors.
  8. Night Sight: The M16A2 does not have a low light level or night sight.
  9. Protective Mask Firing: The M16A2 has not been designed to aid firing while wearing a protective mask.
  10. Range Estimation: The M16A2 sight has not been designed to aid in the estimation of range

Let’s consider those, briefly. Note that every single one of those objections relates to the sights. There are no complaints about the other Marine improvements (not even the hated burst switch). Most of the sight squawks were because the sight was different from the sights of the A1, which were pretty much as Stoner, Sullivan et. al. designed them circa 1959 (the earlier AR-10 sights are different, but the later AR-15 prototypes and their descendants all used something extremely close to the M16 and M16A1 sights. (The USAF/USN M16 and the Army/Marine M16A1 differed only in the absence and presence respectively of a forward assist). Even the protective mask issue is basically a sighting problem — with the then current US M17 gas mask, the rifle had to be held canted to use carrying-handle based rear sights.

Complaints 1-5 relate only to the M16A2 sights, but 6-10 are just as applicable to the then-issued Army M16A1.

Even at the time, it was clear that optical sights were better than irons — scopes for distance and red dots for close-in work. Army special operators had already tested — on the flat range, in the tire house, and on the two-way range — such early red-dots and both-eyes-open sights such as the Single Point and the Armson Occluded Eye Gunsight (OEG). In the early 21st Century, universal optics would end the long run of the M16A2, and sweep away all these problems the 1986 Army contractors worried about. But there was no way to predict that in 1986, not with any certainty.

And that’s Part 2 of our story. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the modifications to the M16 that the authors recommended in place of the A2.

The paper is available on DTIC: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a168577.pdf.

 

WWJLL? (What Would Jesus Look Like?)

He could have looked like Josephus, a Jewish rebel of 70 AD who betrayed his fellows and joined Rome (and wrote a history of the war in which he changed sides). Josephus looks like lots of modern Greeks and Jews, etc.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the broadly and deeply eclectic Lebanese-American scholar who is best known to the public, perhaps, through his Black Swan, has an interesting blast against an ahistorical view of the peoples of the Levant and the Middle East, especially the Mediterranean ones.

How did Judeans and Galileans look like at the time of Christ? Not according to your politically driven classifications; and not according to some BS in a 2001 article in Scientific American (based on “scientific” reconstruction of facial features and skin tone from … bones). And don’t assume that Jesus would have voted for neocon hawks, Salafi regime promoters, rent seeking “educated” bureaucrats and state-worshipping IYIs (intellectual yet idiots) — simply, Jesus wanted a separation of the holy and the profane, (see my article here).

No, Jesus was not a “Middle Eastern”, that is like inhabitants of the olive-oil free swath of land from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. Near East (Eastern Mediterranean) is not the nonMediterranean or antiMediterranean Middle East (I wonder which idiot made that classification; the correct heuristic is use of olive oil). Jesus looked like a typical Mediterranean, that is, just like a Southern European, and quite standard at that, as we will see below.

Olive oil? What is this guy thinking? (And, as we often find ourselves thinking when reading him, Can we keep up?) It turns out there are two generations of hard thinking analysis behind his claim. But first, let’s let him develop the WWJLL argument for another half graf (Taleb writes in complete thoughts and in long but clear paragraphs):

The inhabitants of the cities around the Mediterranean, by his time, were already quite similar in looks, even if they didn’t speak the same languages, and (as today, in many cases) much different from those that reside say, a hundred miles inside. And we know how Western Semites looked like, which is no different from today’s Western Syrians: like Southern Europeans; like generic Roman citizens (although most Jews were technically not citizens at the time of Jesus). Strikingly, Western Syrians (a.k.a. urban Syrians) still look the same today — in my experience they are usually indistinguishable from the Ionian Greeks, Cretans, or Cypriots who are in identity politics called “white”.

Or he could have looked like Emperor Caracalla, who was part Roman, part Syrian and part Punic. Most of us have known someone who looks like this guy.

OK, so his blast at identity politics that leads his post (we picked it up below that) stands on solid ground. Historians know that the whole Med at the time of Caesar, Cleopatra, and Christ was broadly Hellenistic. Taleb posits, and history and archaeology are on his side here, that Jesus Christ may have looked like our participant in yesterday’s history lesson, Hannibal, or like any of the Syrian Emperors, even Elgalabalus (eeeew. We hope not; he’s one of those guys that makes Caligula seem not so bad).

And that olive oil thing?

I have a heuristic. If people eat the same, they look the same and use similar body language. Western Turks eat the same as Levantines, Greeks and look the same. The Middle East, say Saudi Arabia has no ratatouille, tyme, oregano, olive oil, hummus, ouzo/raki/pastis/arak, pizza (lahmajun/manousheh) etc.

Reading Taleb reminds us, if we needed to be reminded, that “the Separation of Church and State” did not spring fully formed from the brow of Jefferson or Madison, but was, in fact, the project of Christ Himself, and it did not mean the State Atheism (or its milder French or Mexican shade, Anticlericalism) it has come to mean in the West nowadays. It is in His answer to the question, “Whose face is on the denarius?“, still a much-sermonized parable even in churches that reject the message!