Monthly Archives: March 2017

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2017 Lucky Week 13

This week’s Tour d’Horizon is publishing half a day or so late. The problem was it was just not coming together, and time was running out, and the Saturday run schedule was blank. So we dropped the blocked post, and did Saturday stuff instead. This’ll backfill.

We have never actually experienced the neurotic mindlock called “writer’s block,” but we’ve definitely come to a standstill on a single piece or project. Experience teaches us we can continue to push and shove at that boulder, or we can walk away and roll some other stones, and come back to it from a fresh angle. This obviously applies far beyond the simple act of writing.

Fortunately, we always have more writing, more actual work, more airplane work, more gun work than we can handle at any given moment.

Guns

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

Colt Bucks a Trend, Hires… or Do They?

First, the press release, as picked up by WTNH News:

Colt Manufacturing Company plans to add 100 jobs in West Hartford over the next five years.

Governor Malloy announced Friday that Colt plans to buy its West Hartford headquarters and manufacturing facility. The company emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization in 2016 and says it’s now positioning itself for growth.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the expansion project through a $10 million loan, with up to $2 million forgiven if certain job milestones are met. State funds will be used to help in the acquisition of the manufacturing facility and the land, which has a total price of $13 million.

Now, a little background. Colt’s lease of its facility was a racket used by the owners to leech capital out of the company for years. In the bankruptcy, the far-over-market lease was crammed down, limiting the cash flow of that particular stream, so now Colt “buys” it to give the owners another hunk of the company’s pretax earnings. Even better, they’re getting the taxpayers of Connecticut to pony up a $2 million grand and $8 million loan, at a time when most market lenders are aware of the owners’ habit of burning their lenders. You’re not going to see it reported honestly like that, in any of the places that print the state’s press releases, but that’s what’s really happening:

  1. Connecticut is giving Colt money now;
  2. Colt is giving the money to its owners now for title to some buildings the owners already own, but keep the deed in a different pocket;
  3. Colt is promising Connecticut that they will have hired some people later — specifically, by 2023.
  4. Colt is promising to give back 80% of the money, later, specifically by 2023.

That’s an investment only a government functionary (or a room-temp IQ like Dannel Malloy) could love: an unsecured loan at negative interest!

Miguel’s Thoughts on Gun Culture 2.0

One of the most entertaining and informative blogs around is Miguel’s Gun Free Zone. We either missed, skimmed, or just plain didn’t react to this 2016 post on Gun Culture 2.0, which itself is a bit of a reaction by Miguel to David Yamane’s thesis that we’ve mentioned here before. (David is an academic studying the gun culture from genuine curiosity, not as an entomologist studies pests).

A substantial portion of Gun Culture 2.0 has an aesthetic that could best be described as Blackwater chic.

Quite a number of new small gun companies have sprung up advertising their founding by ex-military.  The stamp of ex-military has become so important to Gun Culture 2.0 that some people are willing to lie to benefit from it.

No disrespect to our veterans, but this frustrates me.  I never served in combat.  I never cleared a house with my M4 pattern rifle.  I have no operational experience.  I am an engineers and a good one at that.  I know heat treating, GD&T, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, finishing, manufacturing, and everything else it takes to make a gun work.  I may not know how to stage an ambush but I do know how to take aluminum and steel and turn it into one of the finest firearms money can buy.  That took years of schooling and is not something taught in basic training or AIT.  The problem is, who in Gun Culture 2.0 wants to buy an AR or a 1911 from some fat engineer who sits behind a desk with gigabytes of test data to show how good his gun is?

There is nothing wrong with not being a vet. When we worked biodefense, it was amazing to see the contributions a bunch of scientists you never, ever are going to hear “boo” about have made to our national and personal safety. It was also very humbling: SF leaves a guy confident that he can go anywhere and do anything, and watching bright young people politely pause to let the “operators'” minds struggle and catch up was a profound reminder that we all don our pants one leg at a time.

A few of these scientists were also Gun Culture 2.0 types, as an aside.

But the US can field a decent Armed Forces in part because we have, behind us, great biologists… and oil frackers and graphic design firms and insurance companies, and you, whatever it is that you do so well that somebody pays you to do it. The economy is the hill on top of which we all make our stand, so never feel bad about your contribution, unless you know you’re not doing your best.

Gun Culture 2.0 wants to buy an AR or 1911 from some ex Navy Ranger F16 door gunner who designed his weapon EXPLICITLY for killing Taliban.  It makes me understand (but not condone) faking military service to get your fledgling gun company off the ground.

All of this goes double when it comes to firearms training.  ….  I go to these courses to improve my ability to defend myself in a home invasion or if I am caught in the middle of a convenience store robbery.  However, some of them seem to be “let’s pretend you are Delta Force” weekend retreats.

I think one thing that would make Gun Culture 2.0 more welcoming, not just to women, is a demilitarization.

Miguel’s advice to new entrants who find gun culture intimidating: “Never attribute to -ism what can adequately be explained by someone being an asshole.” He notes it’s “also seen in STEM, don’t take it personally.”

See, this is the kind of thought-provoking stuff we find when we read Miguel. Even the seemingly random links at the bottom of his current stories (which is how we found this) are worthwhile.

Union Switch & Signal .45s

We can’t even keep up with the stuff we’re bidding on, and this spring is shaping up to be an awesome auction season. Fortunately, the whole gun-o-sphere is catching some of the best ones. For example, here’s Chris Eger at Guns.com catching an entire collection of rare Union Switch & Signal M1911A1s that are up for grabs at Rock Island.

US&S was a secondary contract producer, but produced the fewest of any of the quantity manufacturers (Remington Rand made the most, followed by Colt — which had many other war production contracts — and Ithaca). But the railroad-signal company took great pride in not having a single pistol rejected by Army inspectors. If you’re a 1911 guy (and who isn’t?), you’ll definitely want to Read The Whole Thing™ and click over to RIA to drool… and bid.

Gun Stocks update

Anyway you want it: we have the table, our analysis, and the popular chart. We have simplified to one chart and table, incorporating Olin.

Gun Stocks since the Election
Week Ending RGR SWHC AOBC VSTO OLN
11/8/16 64.40 28.45 38.94 22.45
11/18/16 53.20 24.13 40.02 25.16
11/25/16 52.50 23.82 41.05 25.69
12/2/16 50.25 21.10 39.66 25.94
12/9/16 51.90 21.07 38.62 25.87
12/16/16 53.45 21.59 36.81 25.42
12/23/16 54.05 22.11 38.03 26.21
12/30/16 52.70 21.08 36.90 25.61
1/6/17 54.15 21.00 38.08 26.39
1/13/17 51.35 20.60 28.70 27.07
1/20/17 50.65 20.13 27.78 26.64
1/27/17 51.90 20.58 28.33 26.69
2/3/17 50.05 20.12 26.18 30.83
2/10/17 50.15 20.07 21.58 29.81
2/17/17 49.70 19.22 20.89 30.86
2/24/17 49.85 19.45 20.72 30.78
3/3/17 48.75 18.83 20.47 32.34
3/10/17 52.15 19.52 20.71 31.70
3/17/17 53.55 19.45 20.89 33.07
3/24/17 51.90 18.73 20.31 32.77
3/31/17 53.55 19.81 20.59 32.87

Everybody’s somewhat recovered from last week’s hit, Ruger exactly, which just looks weird. Q1 of 2016 ended today (Friday 3/31) and by mid-April we should have some financials to look at. Expect the media to write that the gun manufacturers are doomed — whatever the numbers say.

 

Disclaimer: Your Humble Blogger holds RGR, bought at about 56.40 on 9 Nov 16. It bottomed in the 40s later that day before rebounding a little by close, but it is taking its sweet time recovering. Yeah, shoulda bought OLN. (It’s still paying a dividend, though, so actually we’ve made a little bit of money on it).

Gun Poly-Ticks

Another State Constitutionalizes

This is what progress in individual rights looks like:

Source: Jeff at Gun-Nuttery.

There are now 13 states that have Constitutional Carry. Our own New Hampshire was not long in the “latest” seat, as North Dakota has joined us. There are now 13 Constitutional Carry states: Alaska, Arkansas (this is disputed among Arkansans, just how free it is), Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota (new!), Vermont (the first), West Virginia, and Wyoming. (Some, including Wyoming and ND, limit the right to state residents; Montana is not on the list, as it’s only Constitutional Carry outside city limits). Oklahoma is not a CC state for residents, but it is for residents of states that permit carry without a license.

In addition, other states have seen Constitutional Carry bills emerge from legislatures, only to be vetoed by anti-gun governors; in past years these vetoes have been overcome by override (over governors Nixon and Tomblin in MO and WV) or gubernatorial replacement (NH). This year, there has been one veto, by South Dakota’s anti-gun Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R). He has enough support from the legislature’s minority Democrats (!) to sustain the veto. The bills are mired in the legislature in still other states, although Texas remains a possibility this year.

While this means that over a quarter of states (26%) are CC, these are largely rural states with just under 10% of the nation’s population.

In each state where this law has passed, opponents have predicted mayhem, as they did for every state that went from no-issue to may- or shall-issue over the last 30 years. The mayhem has not eventuated. Culturally, this movement seems to be accelerating, but it may be hitting a political ceiling; there are quite a few states that are not yet ready for CC, and a hard core of five to eight that continue cranking up constraints on civil gun owners. There’s more information in this interesting John Richardson post, which was the main source of this item.

Media Lies About Tulsa Incident

Tulsa, OK police had to deal with a crazy female crook named Madison Dickson. Wanted for numerous violent felonies, known to be armed and dangerous, the cops finally caught up with her in an associate’s truck and pulled the vehicle over. Dickson exited the truck and ran, exchanging pistol fire with the police (ineffectively, on both sides). Trouble was: they were right next to an elementary school. Multiple dashcam videos released by the Tulsa PD showed what happened next. Dickson ran, periodically turning to aim and shoot at the cops, and one of the cop cars ran her down.

So far, so good.

Comes the Tulsa World newspaper and selects out of the video the one frame that does not show Dickson’s pistol in her right hand, blows it up and runs it on Page One with: “Police say she had a gun.” Why, those lyin’ coppers!

Except this: everyone can see she had the gun, including the fake news reporters and editors of the Tulsa World, in every frame of the GD video except the one they chose to print — and lie about.

Can you trust them on anything? (Hat tip, Miguel).

Shorts

  • In Russia, a shadowy, well-funded group is seeking a return to Soviet-era gun prohibition. They’re using a social-media stunt. Gabriel Beltrone, a national socialist writing for AdWeek, says “their heart is in the right place.”
  • In the Czech Republic, protesters demand “2nd Amendment or Article 50” in the face of EU pressure against gun rights. Photo Essay.
  • ATF appears to be overreaching on “silencer parts”. Along with declaring each replacement wipe to be an independent “silencer” needing an independent registration and tax, they’ve been cracking down on “solvent traps” and “parts kits” — with mixed results. The Winter Haven, FL operator of one such business has been charged — despite an ATF letter that his product was legal. An Ohio man who was arrested and charged with great fanfare was rapidly acquitted to near media silence (but there’s one story).

Usage and Employment

 The hardware takes you only half way. We’re talked out on this for now, after the Broken Arrow, OK shooting.

Cops ‘n’ Crims

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

Bullets for Buggery

Paul Gotta was sentenced Friday in federal court in Hartford. [Gotta] pleaded guilty last year to explosives and firearms charges.

What explosives and firearms charges?

Prosecutors say Gotta helped the 17-year-old boy purchase the ammunition in 2012, bought explosives powder for him and helped him build a pipe bomb.

He got the kid…

thousands of rounds of handgun ammunition and giving him 2 pounds of explosives powder.

Why would an adult man do that, in a jurisdiction (CT) where it’s strengstens verboten?

…former priest at two parishes in East Windsor…

In 2013, Gotta was suspended from the priesthood after he was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Prosecutors later dropped the charge as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to breach of peace and received no jail time.

The admitted pedo priest doesn’t have to register as a sex offender, either. Because in Connecticut, ammunition is contraband but buggering kids is your constitutional right. The gun running pervert gets off (no pun intended) with nine months in Club Fed.

(Incidentally, one way the Church can afford all the lawsuits over all the pedo priests, is because they make a bundle on every criminal alien that Catholic Charities gets paid — by the unwitting, unwilling taxpayers — to resettle in some unsuspecting neighborhood).

The Perils of Kathleen: Aftermath

Not much new and direct.

  • Item 30 Mar: Kane Crony on Hot SeatThis one is a new one — Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller. Good-government types have set up a post office box for tips, because of what they say is Miller’s abuse of wiretaps and email warrants to expose whistleblowers and retaliate.
  • Item 28 Mar: Philly Too Tolerant of Corruptionargues Ernest Owens, based on the convictions of Kane and Congressman Chaka Fattah (and son), and the indictment and coming convicton of Philly DA Seth Williams. Yeah, but people in every jurisdiction think theirs is the most crooked. Political corruption seems fairly universal. Owens is right that the monoparty political culture in Philadelphia is a contributor.

Better Marksmanship than Judgment

Chicago cop charged (and already convicted, in the press) with 6 counts of murder for shooting a PCP-fueled knife wielder dead catches even more charges. Point of the charges appears to be to appease Black Criminal Lives Matter. But the cop is in real trouble, as the hophead was moving away from him, and was shot in the back.

Figures that it may be a bad shoot, the one time ever that a cop fired 16 shots at a suspect — and hit him with all 16!

Shorts

  • Item 31 Mar: Serial Killer Gets KilledFormer nurse Donald Harvey, who was convicted of the “mercy murders” of 37 elderly patients but bragged that his actual box score was over 50, was beaten and stomped to death by his fellow inmates. Awwwww. Harvey was caught because a sharp pathologist smelled cyanide during a victim’s autopsy.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. Nothing this week — everybody else is talking about Korea, we’ll talk about it when we have something different to say. 

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™?  Just shorts this week, or we’d never get the post up….

Shulkin on Progress

At NPR, VA Secretary Dr David Shulkin puts the best face possible on VA performance. NPR has been very critical, of, for example, the way that $10B from the Choice Act vanished without a trace in the bureaucracy of the VA, and the way money for backlogged medical centers wound up hiring doctors at less overloaded ones. Shulkin addresses these problems frankly; he discusses his difficulty hiring providers, and his highest priority (also, perhaps, the most intractable): veteran suicides. One of his problems is something many of us have dealt with at a personal level: you can’t help  the guy who doesn’t want help. “[O]f the 20 vets who take their life every day through suicide, just six are getting care in the VA health care system,” Shulkin says.

VA Gets a New Nº 2

Well, if he isn’t filibustered, they do. And since Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs is not a post that requires Senate confirmation, John Ullyot can start work right away. Ullyot, a successful businessman, is also a veteran himself — he served in the Marines — and a former staffer for the Senate Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, so he comes with knowledge of Capitol Hill, for what it’s worth. The President appointed him a few days ago; the position’s been filled by an acting-jack since its former incumbent, Dr Shulkin, was kicked upstairs. Welcome, Mr Ullyot; good luck to you and to those veterans who must depend on the VA.

Why Dr Shulkin Wants the Accountability Law

A VA worker in the Jacksonville area was caught viewing porn — with a patient. But under the current bill, they couldn’t just fire him. In fact, he’s still employed by the VA.

Hope for Para- and Quadriplegics?

It’s new, crude, and highly limited, but it’s promising: experimental technology let a quadriplegic move his hand, eat, and drink, with a wired brain-nervous-system interface. While neural restoration is the Holy Grail scientists seek, neuroprosthetic devices are stepping out of the pages of science fiction.

Health & Fitness

Nothing new. 

As always, a trip to FL in the winter has been refreshing and has restarted the 1000-cal/day cardio clock. Swimming is a favorite, but there’s a problem with sneaking out at 11 PM to do laps (previous practice). Small Dog Mk II twigs to the absence of his human, and begins alternating piercing yips and mournful howls until the swimmer returns. Meanwhile, the Blogfather, happily in the land of nod, was awoken by this canine concert and was NOT amused.

This may have been SDMkII’s payback for being taking for a bicycle ride — in the basket. He loved that not.

Now to keep the 1000-cal up, along with the strength training, in still wintry Hog Manor.

Lord Love a Duck!

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

Broken Arrow OK Follow-up: Home Invasion as “Bad Decision.” (Long)

In the recent incident in Broken Arrow in which three young home invaders saw their dreams of stolen gold turn to a fusillade of hot lead, we’ve seen a common (but unknown to many) phenomenon come to the fore: criminals and their families feel terribly put-upon, and have an undeserved but telling contempt for their victims.

We’re going to look at three stories from the same Oklahoma City television station, first telling the story through the 911 call, then invoking the opinions of one deceased criminal’s family, and finally, the surviving accomplice.

We suspect that these links have autoplay video, but have discovered, to our delight, that by not updating Adobe’s horrible Flash software, we can skip the blaring videos and go right to the transcripts. Wonderful! We’ll never update that piece of crap again.

First: “I shot two of them, now I’m barricaded in my bedroom.”

This link goes to a complete transcript of the 911 call. Here’s a few highlights:

Peters: “I’ve just been broken into. Two men, two I’ve shot in my house (address).”

Dispatcher: “Was one of them shot?”

Peters: “Yes, two of them.”

Dispatcher: “Are they bleeding?”

Peters: “Yes. I believe one… one’s down, one’s still talking here with me now.”

Dispatcher: “And they broke into your home?”

Peters: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “What’s your name, sir?”

Peters: “Zach Peters.”

The Dispatcher elicited information that would be useful to the responding deputy, and Peters continued to keep his wits about him. But the Dispatcher also had a script to run.

Dispatcher: “OK, are they white males?”

Peters: “Um, I didn’t get a good look.”

Like, who gives a hairy rat’s what color the guys who busted down your door are? Well, of course, government agencies. By the way, Peters’s response is the only thing you should ever say to this question, especially if you and the crumb exsanguinating in your kitchen are nor the same skin tone.

Dispatcher: “OK, can you see them right now?”

Peters: “No, I’m, uh, I shot two of them, now I’m barricaded in my bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “You’re barricaded in your, in your bedroom? OK.”

Peters: “Correct. Southeast corner. They broke in a back door. I can hear one of them talking.”

Dispatcher: “OK, what are they saying?”

Peters: “I can’t hear them.”

Dispatcher: “OK, where were they shot?”

Peters: “Um, upper body.”

Dispatcher: “Upper body?”

Dispatcher: “Are you hurt, sir?”

Peters: “No.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Note that he withdrew, stayed safe, and stayed in communication with the dispatcher about his location and situation. At this time, there’s a real hazard of friendly fire, something that both Peters and the dispatcher were eager to avoid.

Dispatcher: “OK, what did you shoot them with?”

Peters: “My AR-15.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Peters: “I’m still armed in the southeast corner of my house.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Dispatcher: “OK, sir, my deputy wants in, I need you to go ahead and un-arm yourself and put the gun away.”

Peters: “OK. It’ll be unloaded on my bed, I’ll still be in my bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “OK, the gun’s going to be unloaded on his bed.”

Peters: “You said he’s on scene?”

Dispatcher: “Yes, sir, my…my deputy should be on scene.”

Peters: “OK.”

This kind of thing was repeated as everyone wanted to make sure that Peters was both safe from further threat from the criminals, and that he and the responding deputy were no threat to each other. Time to check on the whereabouts of the skells!

Dispatcher: “Do you know where they both are, sir?”

Peters: “It’s between the back door. One is in the kitchen. One crawled into the northeast corner bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Dispatcher: “OK, one’s in the kitchen, one’s in the northeast corner bedroom, and you’re in the southeast corner bedroom, is that correct?”

Peters: “Correct, and the third one, I did not shoot. He ran outside.”

Dispatcher: “The third one he did not shoot ran outside. OK.”

It sounds like the Dispatcher is repeating to the responding officers over the trunk, while handling the call with Peters. Cool heads all around. Peters was mistaken about the third guy, whom we now believe to be the late, unlamented Jake Redfearn — it’s possible a through-and-through of one of the other burglars nailed him.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes, right?

Dispatcher: “Do you know if he ran out the front or the back?”

Peters: “Um, he ran out the back door. The door they broke into.”

Dispatcher: “OK. The third, subject stated, he ran out the back door.”

Deputy needs to know that. As far as Peters knew, one or more criminals were still on scene!

And now Peters really displays clear thinking:

Peters: “Um, there should be two dogs out, around the house. They’re friendly.”

Peters: “And you guys need to start EMS, I believe one of them is shot bad.”

Dispatcher: “OK, sir, EMS is en route, OK?”

He’s safe, if he can avoid startling the law. The first Deputy is approaching the house, and Peters remembers to (1) alert the officers that there are dogs on the premises, and that the dogs are not a threat, and (2) express concern for the life of the threat guys, who are no longer a threat.

While it was undoubtedly a harrowing day for Zach Peters, there’s really not much fault to find with his response to a home invasion. He met violent crime with overwhelming force, neutralized the threat, retreated to relative safety, and called for help. He even remembered to be concerned for the lives of the dogs and the criminals (and, appropriately, in that order).

It will be interesting to see if Andrew Branca has a comment, because if Peters did this in some jurisdictions (CA, CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI) a prosecutor would be measuring him for striped pajamas; but in free America, it’s hard to see anything he did wrong.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Let’s get some criminals-and-associates’ viewpoints! (After the jump).

Continue reading

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Reticulated Pythons

Alas, poor Akbar Salubiro. Akbar went out harvesting, but never returned to his Indonesian village. His friends began to retrace his steps, beginning at his back door. But what they saw from there told them they did not need to go far.

Village secretary Salubiro Junaidi said: “People had heard cries from the palm grove the night before Akbar was found in the snake’s stomach.

“When the snake was captured, the boots Akbar was wearing were clearly visible in the stomach of the snake.

“Resident cut open the belly of the snake and Akbar was lifeless.”

Reticulated pythons are boa constrictors that suffocate their victims before swallowing them whole.

via Body of man swallowed whole by monster 7m-long python is cut from its stomach by horrified villagers – Mirror Online.

What a way to go!

Locals gathered round as one man used an 18-inch long hunting knife to slice open the serpent – and found Akbar inside still in tact.

The 25-year-old was still wearing welly boots, short and t-shirt when he was found inside the animal – which was sprawled out in his back garden.

Incredible footage shows the corpse being slowly removed from the killer reptile as the leathery skin is peeled away.

Neighbour Satriawan – who knew Akbar – said: “He was found in the location of the garden.

“Initially Akbar set out from his home to go to harvest palm, after not returning to his home people looked for him.

Well, at least they managed to recover his body for a decent burial, rather than have him eternally a town mystery disappearance… while providing enough of a meal for the snake that the beastly thing’d want another villager in another month.

Canoe U: Twilight of the Naval Academy

The US Naval Academy, bastion of 19th-Century traditions, producer of all our admirals for good or ill until after World War II, cradle of innumerable Navy and Marine heroes, has come to a milestone in its last decades of cultural decline: it recently threw an institutional wobbler over an opinion expressed by one of its most distinguished graduates of the Vietnam era.

An opinion he expressed in 1979, which for newspaper editors, Social Justice Warriors, this year’s USNA grads and other innumerates, was 38 years ago.

For the record, 38 years is more than double the amount of service the mean Academy graduate gives to the nation. And the Marine in question is still serving, albeit in a lesser capacity, as a United States Senator.

The individual in question was Jim Webb, United States Senator from Virginia, once (briefly: the high-strung Webb quit in a snit) Secretary of the Navy; once a bestselling novelist; and once, not long after graduation, a Marine platoon leader upon whom a grateful nation bestowed the Navy Cross, a decoration that used to be respected at the Academy. (Webb also has “lesser” decorations, including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts). Unlike today’s Academy persons, Webb sought out combat, sought out the fight, and fought to win. It is the sort of person the Academy no longer respects.

Webb was to have been honored Friday as a “distinguished graduate” by the Naval Academy Alumni Association, but withdrew Tuesday evening: “I am being told that my presence at the ceremony would likely mar the otherwise celebratory nature of that special day. As a consequence, I find it necessary to decline the award.”

Better he should have spit in somebody’s eye — but once an officer and a gentleman, always an officer and a gentleman, one supposes.

At issue was a paper he wrote in 1979 objecting to the admission of women to the nation’s military academies on the even-then-unfashionable, but still-not-unreasonable, grounds that assignment of women to frontline combat roles is at best disruptive, and at worst dangerous. Perhaps lethally so.

No one talks about the changes that have come to the Academies since female integration. The cultural change is part of it. There is less direct and physical athletic competition, and more bureaucratic, social-climbing, and backstabbing competition. That suits the girls better. There is less focus on courage — as the Webb hecklers’ veto shows, it’s no longer a value — and more focus on careerism. That’s what the girls want. But even the curriculum has changed: the challenging, engineering-focused and math-heavy courses of yesteryear that provided a pressure all of their own have given way to touchy-feely verbal-games courses, because the girls all were channeling Math Is Hard Barbie.

The initial SJW entryist women were all about: “don’t change anything for us, we just want to compete on a level playing field.” And maybe they thought they meant it. But their successors have demanded more and more coddling and kid-glove treatment.

They promised a feminized Academy would just keep cranking out heroes, they just didn’t have to have Webb’s testosterone overload, or Arleigh Burke’s ability to run fuel consumption problems in his head. How’s that working out for us?

We give you the spirit of the Naval Academy, post-feminization: Holly Graf, a “pre-designated woman-in-command success story” who was relieved in well-deserved disgrace.

The spirit of the Naval Academy: small craft misnavigated into Iranian waters and then surrendered obsequiously.

The spirit of the Naval Academy: the wooly-headed, near-lunatic procurement of ships that have no business in harm’s way.

There are still fighters in the Academy, but would they claim to be the majority? There are still fighters in the Navy, but why feed a tail of half a million to field a few platoons of SEALs?

The Academy is by far the most expensive way to produce officers. If it does not produce superior officers, meaning combat leaders — and we would defy anyone to demonstrate that it does — why do we have it?

Now, Bob McManus touches the third rail of why the Naval Academy has declined to the point where a graduate (’68), who’s a certified no-$#!+ he-ro, is unfit to be recognized for a degree of service to Navy and nation. A lifetime of service, like him or not, that is almost certain not to be matched by any of the Unique and Special Snowflakes™ of the enervated Class of 2017.

Webb could have been dead wrong about all of it, of course, even if 40 years of experience with gender integration strongly indicates otherwise. The Navy’s ongoing shipboard pregnancy epidemic and the difficulty most women have coping with traditional infantry-training standards suggests that the debate is far from settled.

via Silencing an American hero: the shame of the Naval Academy | New York Post.

The Navy cannot demonstrate that Webb was wrong. History, instead, seems determined to prove him right. But the new catechism of American public religion stands not upon a doctrine nor on an ideal, but a slogan: Diversity Is Our Vibrancy™. It’s the Mein Ehre Heißt Treue of a new orthodoxy that Shall Not Be Questioned. It’s institutionalized admiration for the Emperor’s New Clothes.

It’s careerism, institutionalized.

The Naval Academy and its recent, participation-badge and proportionately distaff Alumni may be celebrating their unpersoning of Webb. But what that says to the rest of us, whose taxes fund the Anachronism in Annapolis, is that our money has been squandered in this, as in so many other Naval endeavors.

It’s time to pull the plug. And while we’re at it, let’s retire the Army and Air Force Academies. They, too, have become controlled by people whose mission is the institution, not the mission (as Conquest’s Laws predict). They are fully converged social justice institutions, and at best orthogonal, and worse directly opposed to the mission of a functional military.

The Naval Academy has had a good run, but its glories are in the past. It’s time for it to go.

Fred Ray: A Confederate Whitworth Sees Auction (Corrected)

Here’s another amazing find by Fred, in an auction catalog that AFAIK hasn’t come to Hog Manor yet in the treebark edition. but is already online. (Uh, we just realized, thanks to a comment, that while we were sleep-writing this post last night we confused Rock Island, whose catalog we do subscribe to, with James Julia, whose catalog we don’t — and probably should. The two auction houses are entirely different, and are keen competitors; both have a seemingly endless supply of historic firearms).

Auctioneer James D. Julia has a rare Confederate Whitworth up on the block. This one even has the four power Davidson telescope.

 

The brass tube Davidson scope was adjusted for elevation by turning the knurled knob on the right side of the forearm. This loosened the clamp on the left side so the 1-1/2″ bar graduated in 1/16″ increments could be raised and lowered, pivoting on the rear mount secured by the rear lock plate screw. The normal long range ladder sight could be used for normal short range shooting. There is extensive documentation on the acquisition of this rifle, along with correspondence regarding the use of these guns during the Civil War. This gun was originally found with the telescopic sight missing which was later purchased from Confederate authority Steve Mullinax and put back on the rifle according to documentation. In a 1992 letter from noted Whitworth authority John Morrow The Confederate Whitworth Sharpshooters, 1989. “The telescope mounted Whitworth ‘2nd Quality’ No. C529 Rifle” described here conforms to the specification of all the other known surviving examples of the Confederate Purchase Special Arms. Specifically, it is in the correct SN range, the simple form of the iron sights, two bbl bands, lack of a safety bolt, common breech rather than patent breech, very short muzzle projection beyond the forend cap (note that the bbl appears to have lost 3/16″ at the muzzle, it should be 33″ exactly), the method of mounting the telescope the form of the checkering and everything else about it confirm this. The total number shipped in this telescopic configuration is not known but only 8 have been traced up to this moment.” One identical to this gun, is pictured in Firearms of the Confederacy, plate XXIII and discussed on pages 27 and 28.

Fred goes on to explain what the marking “2nd Quality” on Confederate Whitworths means, and as always, Read The Whole Thing™.

Along with many photos, Julia has published a detailed provenance (.pdf) on the rifle. It goes back to its “rediscovery” in March, 1991, so you’ve got 26 years of the rifle’s over-150, and 125 or so years of mystery. Better than nothing.

Whitworths have characteristic hexagonal rifling.

At that time it was acquired by one Tom Hutchinson of Alton, Illinois, and Hutchinson immediately began a search for the just-as-impossible-to-find telescopic sight. Which he did find and have reinstalled. Whitworth military rifles with possible Confederate provenance are you-can-count-em-on-your-fingers rare, and several are missing their scopes; it’s the sort of detail collectors argue about, whether this rifle is original or restored. We would say “restored with original and correct parts,” perhaps, and that is pretty much what Mr Hutchinson, subsequent owners if any, and the James D. Julia crew have done.

That is also a solid reason why you should read every line of an auction catalog item, examine every picture, and ask questions rather than make assumptions. Sure, you may be bidding on a $300 Glock rather than a five-figure Confederate sharpshooter rifle, but it’s your money, and you earned it (we hope), and don’t want to be disappointed, surprised or definitely shocked when you open the package.

In our experiences with premier auctioneers, mostly with RIA, we’ve had a couple of positive surprises when guns were better than described, and only one negative surprise — when we didn’t look hard enough and long enough at the images, which accurately showed the poor condition of the extreme rarity we were purchasing.

Rare Firearms… An Investment?

Julia estimates that the rifle will sell for $50,000-70,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Inflation Calculator, inflation alone has raised today’s value of the $17,500 that Mr Hutchinson presumably paid to approximately $31,200, or approximately 178%. If the gun sells for low estimate, 286%; high estimate, an even 400%. That sounds great, but remember it’s over 26 years, and 178% of it is pure inflation, so your real gains are 90% to 222% over 26 years. How does that compare to the stock market?

If you invested in the S&P 500, according to this calculator, in March 1991, you would have made an annualized return of over 9.5%, and reinvesting the dividends into the account would have made a total of ~977% (540% without reinvesting). The calculator lets you calculate while accounting for inflation, and as you might expect, deflates those big numbers. Your total is only 502% and that comes to an annualized rate of return of 7.47%.

Not what Jack Madoff promised, but a pretty good example of a real-world result. But it’s more than double what the Whitworth did.  If.

If? Yes, if Julia’s estimate is right, and not the usual auctioneer lowball. Some lots do sell for under estimate — and some lots blow estimates away. We would not be shocked to see this rare rifle rocket into the six figures. If it goes for a quarter-million, as some rare, historic, and beautiful firearms have done of late, then this rare rifle has blown the stock market away. But it’s not the way to bet your retirement fund.

In general, firearms are a lousy investment. On the other hand, they’re a very financially sound piece of personal property. And on the gripping hand, something you want to buy anyway, and that will almost certainly sell for as much, if not more than you paid for it, even if it’s not the very best economic use of your money… well, things like that are rare. If you’re that guy, jump on it.

This Post Has Been Corrected

Due to operator fatigue and lack of layers and layers of editors, the original release of this post discussed Rock Island and Julia as if they were the same thing, which was probably received by both houses as an insult. (Actually, we in the collector community depend upon them both).

While correcting that error, we also decided to expand on the penultimate paragraph of the original post (the one that begins, “If? Yes, if Julia’s estimate is right…”) to include a discussion of the probability and consequences of this rifle blowing through the auction house’s $50-70k estimate.

Naturally, we regret the error, are grateful to the reader that identified it, and take pride in correcting it. A correction or clarification is always welcome in the comments.

More on Cold Forging of Barrels

We’re under unprecedented schedule pressure here, and would like to apologize for delays in the posting schedule, comment approval and responses, and getting Kirk’s symphony-length opuses out of the comment cooler. It doesn’t help that we’ve got to work with crappy satellite internet, which has made us rewrite this post three times. Bear with us and we’ll try to keep the content coming -Ed.

In a comment, Daniel Watters noted that James Higley’s web page had been nuked by the ingrates at Purdue who inherited it, but that had been at least partly preserved by the diligent webcrawlers at the Wayback Machine. Sure enough, Prof. Higley’s page lives on, and there’s a remarkable document there:

Mr. Werner Augustin has considerable experience hammer forging rifle barrels, and he wrote possibly the only technical book on the subject. With his permission, the book is available here in pdf format.

It has far more information, in depth and detail, on the GFM process and how to design for, tool up for, employ, and troubleshoot the process than any extant document, in 36 short pages, with technical illustrations.

Hammer-Schlagzone: Hammer Impact Zone Berührungszone-Dorn: Contact Zone – Mandrel Dorn-Standardposition: Mandrel Standard Position

At the end of the document, Prof. Higley added this:

GFM is the largest supplier of hammer forging machines worldwide with equipment dating back to 1946 (www.agfm.com). The author of this book, Mr. Werner Augustin, was employed for 30 years by GFM as an engineer and cold forging specialist. In 1993, Mr. Augustin founded Augustin GmbH based in Steyr, Austria. The company specializes in tungsten-carbide tooling sales and consulting in cold forging processes. Hence, the author has vast experience in the tooling and processes used to cold forge rifle barrels. Mr. Augustin kindly gave permission for this book to be posted on an open website for all interested parties to share. A copy of the original book was scanned and lightly edited by Professor James B. Higley, Purdue University Calumet, in early 2006.

Mr Augustin’s book is extremely detailed. For example, here is a snippet:

The required material purity is essential in order to achieve a surface quality of the forged groove and land profile as far as possible without segregation lines. These segregation lines have a dark color and appear longitudinally on the barrel.

The more P & S exists in the material, the more the formation of folds can be observed in the entry area of the blank bore to forward of the forging profile.

“P&S” presumably refers to phosphorus and sulfur, two trace contaminants that bedevil steel producers and users.

Of course, this effect of fold formation is increased the greater the diameter difference is between the blank bore and the caliber dimension. The fold formation is moreover increased if the hammer entry angle is laid out too steeply.

That’s OK, as he goes on to provide a troubleshooting guide and some very detailed suggested dimensions for hammer faces.

The problem of fold formation will be the most frequent one when forging cartridge chambers. Thus, for this kind of forging, it is essential to use a high grade of steel. The more homogeneous the material structure is for cold forging, the less risk of cracks which might occur during the forging process. The safety of the rifleman always has priority.

If possible the barrel blank should be stress relieved prior to cold forging, in order to obtain an optimum straightness during cold forging. After forging the barrel should again be stress relieved to make sure that during further processing no stress can be released which would negatively influence shooting accuracy. The material strength of the barrel blank lies between 750 and 1050 N/mm2. After cold forging normally the strength of the barrel material increases by approximately 10%.

And no, that’s not the most detailed part.

Bear in mind that while we’re dealing with GFM machines, we’re dealing with radial cold forging. There’s also rotary cold forging. The difference between the two procedures is what moves, and how. In radial forging, the hammers move radially, and the mandrel and workpiece (barrel blank) rotate as they’re fed in, as in this illustration:

In the rotary forging process, the hammers are contained in a cage that rotates, with the rollers driving the hammers in and out, as in these illustrations.

The mandrel and workpiece (barrel blank) remain in the same orientation as they’re fed in, and don’t rotate.

While radial cold forging was developed by GFM and predecessors in Germany and Austria, rotary forging was independently developed in the USA by Torrington and Cincinnati Milacron and predecessors. The illustrations are from this article (.pdf), linked at Prof. Higley’s page.

Document

Purdue version (still there at this writing!): http://technology.calumet.purdue.edu/met/higley/ColdForgingBook.pdf

Backup at WeaponsMan.com: ColdForgingBook.pdf

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Axes

Is it just us, or does the Republic of South Africa produce more than its fair share of weird homicides?

In this case, a youth from a wealthy family killed ’em all, or tried (a kid sister survived), and then called the cops with a transparent story that Sumdood did it.

Henri Van Breda, who handed himself over the police in September last year, is accused of murdering his father Martin, 54, a wealthy businessman, his mother Teresa, 55, and older brother Rudi, 22, in a frenzied early morning axe attack in the heart of South Africa’s western Cape vineyard area.

His younger sister Marli, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was left for dead on a balcony. She survived, despite a cut to her jugular vein and severe head injuries.

Van Breda appeared calm and smiled briefly as he appeared in the packed court room wearing a blue suite.

The case was postponed to April 24 because the defense said it had not received crucial DNA reports about the murder weapon from the state.

Van Breda, who is out on bail, has agreed not to contact witnesses, including his sister. He is also forbidden from being within 500 meters (yards) of an airport or a harbor.

Kind of amazing that a guy charged in a crime like this is bailed.

According to police, when officers arrived at the crime scene they found Van Breda sitting outside the house, wearing sleeping shorts and white socks stained with the blood of the victims. He was taken in for questioning and later brought back to the house, where investigators found a bloodstained axe and kitchen knife. He was later released into the care of an uncle.

Marli van Breda, who has been living with other members of the extended family, is suffering amnesia and unable to recall the incident.

That’s a relatively common occurrence, after being brained with an axe, actually.

On the morning of the attack van Breda had phoned his girlfriend at 4 a.m. but only called paramedics three hours later.

A recording of van Breda phoning the emergency services emerged in which he can be heard telling the operator: “My family and me were attacked by a guy with an axe.”

via South African man, 22, in court for axe murder of his family – NY Daily News.

This certainly looks like one of those Richard Pryor jokes come to life:

“Why did you kill your whole family?”

(Pause, thinking). “They was home.”

You know, it’s sad when a mentally ill person kills himself, but it might not be the worst thing.

Chief of Staff on the Future: Smaller Units, Smarter Soldiers?

General Mark Milley spoke recently at a conference on what the Army of the Future might look like.

Urban warfare is the next battlefield frontier, and the Army will have to rethink both its command structure and soldiers themselves in order to adapt, the service’s top general said Tuesday.

This is nothing new. We’ve been saying for 30+ years that an increasing urbanized world means changes for both the traditional culture of fight-em-in-the-wilderness, and the special operations culture of sneak-by-when-they’re-not-looking. For special ops, it probably means more clandestine operations and tradecraft. (Something to learn from Russian use of SOF in the war to undermine Ukrainian independence, here).

However, it’s encouraging to see a general, the guys we pay to think big, indulging in some big-picture thinking. All the rest of the Army is off the clock when they’re thinking big, not that it stops us.

The Army isn’t going to an all-special operations model, but there’s some inspiration the conventional Army can take from that culture, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at the Future of War Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I think you’ll have smaller organizations, in 10 years and beyond,” he said.

That might look like company- or battalion-sized operational units, he added, but it wouldn’t mean doing away with brigades and divisions.

There’s a limit to how much span of control one individual has, whether he’s directing men or directing drones.

“The fighting element will probably end up having to be much smaller,” he said. “Think of special operations — that may be a preview of how larger armies operate in the future.”

One future factor that seems to be not overly considered is the increased lethality of fires. The same sorts of reasons that once militated against massing in the Pentomic Division days of battlefield nukes now apply to anyone fighting a conventional military. The artillery fires of the 21st Century are not like anything we’ve seen before, and while we developed much of the technology, we haven’t developed doctrine to support it, and we haven’t fielded it in quantity.

Meanwhile, regional and near-peer powers retain and make technical progress in non-nuclear WMD.

The future will also bring more unmanned capabilities and, as a result, possibly a lower risk for loss of life.

“We’ve lost a lot of soldiers in the past 15 years who were driving convoys, from point A to point B, and were attacked by [improvised explosive devices], and they were delivering food or ammunition,” Milley said. “Think about, if you could, a logistics convoy delivering the required supplies to a forward unit, but there’s no drivers in the convoy.”

And this also moves your war into the electronic and cyber domain, where the US military has not displayed world-class aptitude.

That technology already exists with driverless cars created by Google and others. It will take some time to make something that can negotiate rough battlefield terrain, Milley said, but it will happen.

Of course, lefties dread and fear the Army, which goes back to their ancestral memories of pogroms in the night, or worse, a draft notice to be evaded.

To those on that end of things, any change in the military brings us further down the slippery slope to overt Francoism, and means that Doctor Strangelove will be immersing us in nuclear Armageddon just for the sheer atavistic joy of hearing the bang.

Then the question becomes whether that lowers the bar for risk when deciding to go to war, said Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America think tank and moderator of the session with Milley.

via Milley: Future conflicts will require smaller Army units, more mature soldiers.

Then, there’s this:

Soldiers will have to be highly trained in discriminating fire, able to quickly and effectively tell who is a combatant and who is a bystander. Leader development will be key, Milley added, and lessons could come, again, from the special operations community.

“We’re probably going to have to have more mature, more seasoned leaders at lower levels than perhaps the organization design calls for now,” he said.

For example, special operations companies are led by majors instead of captains, as they are in the conventional Army. But special operations also often has the benefit of older, more experienced soldiers rather than brand new, 19-year-old privates.

“Our leaders at the pointy end of the spear are going to have to have very, very high degrees of ethical skill and resilience to be able to deal with incredibly intense issues in ground combat,” Milley said.

So the next task, over the following 10 to 15 years, Milley said, is figuring out how to recruit and quickly train the type of people who can take that special operations-style expertise and bring it to the regular Army.

SOF Maturity for General Purpose Forces?

Hard to do. And not because GPF guys are bad (after all, who’s the recruiting pool for most SOF?) But because there is no royal road to maturity, and no short course to combat and tactical judgment.

Basically, you can’t make privates into SF or SEAL type guys in the time you have for training a private. Truth be told, it takes ten years to make a versatile, well-rounded SF guy. You get some good work out of him during those ten years of seasoning, sure, but it takes that long just to be exposed to a significant percentage of the mission sets that come with the job. (We’d guess something similar applies over in the Teams — a 3-year or 5-year Frogman is a pretty good asset in most missions, but he’s still learning more than he’s teaching. But that’s just a guess; we don’t pretend to grasp SEAL culture or to speak for our web-footed friends).

You can make privates into Rangers in about double the time it takes to make them nugget infantrymen, but (1) you need a wide recruiting base and (2) you absolutely need attrition in your pipeline.  You can’t make everybody SF-like (and we’re aware of the important limitations on what the Chief was saying) for the same reason all the kids can’t be above average. Indeed, the stuff the Chief was carving out from SOF that he wants to see in the regular forces — the maturity, the low level leadership — are just the things that take longest to inculcate.

But there will be a Future Army, and it will be Different

There’s a line from an Al Stewart song (a song about smuggling guns, actually):

In the village where I grew up nothing is the same
But still, you never see the change from day to day

When we cynically dismiss Big Think conferences and the brainstorming of senior generals and their horse-holders, we forget that, even though we never see the change from day to day, the Army that holds your retirement parade isn’t the Army you were sworn into a generation earlier. Otherwise we’d still be this Army:

…or this Army:

US Army Tank Destroyer patch, never official but very widespread.

 

And we think you’ll agree that, for better or for worse, we’re not that Army any more.

Everything we take for granted today, such as attack and utility helicopters, anti-tank missiles, and satellite communications, was once somebody’s crackpot idea that caught the imagination of some general and took off.

How are Hammer Forged Barrels Made? And Why?

A European website has a reprint of an excellent article by Vern Briggs of Ruger and Professor James Higley of Purdue. We’ve discussed the various ways of rifling barrels; we thought you’d appreciate Briggs’s and Higley’s deep dive into the process and technology of the most capital-intensive form of barrelmaking, cold hammer forging. (Actually, it could be hot hammer forging just as easily, as we’ll see at the end).

They begin with a history lesson:

To speed up production, German engineers came up with the hammer forging process to pound machine gun barrels to shape from the outside in. Interestingly, Remington took the opposite approach when it perfected button rifling a few years later by forcing the rifling from the inside out. These two differences play a large part in the behavior of the two barrel types which we’ll discuss shortly.

In the aftermath of World War II, forging expertise ended up in Austria with GFM (http://www.agfm.com/ in the USA), and they have become the leading hammer forging machine manufacturer with machines dating back to 1946. European gun manufacturers began using the technology shortly after the war while American manufacturers didn’t start until the 1960s.

As far as we know, the first use of hammer forging in the USA was by TRW on the US Rifle M14 contract. TRW was selected, in part, because it wasn’t a firearms manufacturer, but instead was a maker of machinery and aeronautical and automotive parts. Ordnance officers thought that TRW might be able to bring down costs and improve quality by applying automotive mass-production technology — and that’s exactly what they did with hammer-forged barrels.

This is a big GFM rotary-forging machine with a robotic loader. GFM stands for Gesellschaft für Maschinenbau

Today, Sturm, Ruger & Company uses 6 GFM machines to make all their centerfire rifle, target rimfire, round handgun, and shotgun barrels. Remington has more GFM machines than Ruger, and other manufacturers have one or two machines each, some from other manufacturers. Hence, there are about 20 hammer forging machines actively producing barrels in the USA with none in the hands of small, custom barrel makers. The machines cost over a million dollars each, so it is no wonder only the largest firearms manufacturers have them.

Doing a little mental arithmetic, we can calculate that the sales of GFM machines to American gun makers only amounts to about $20 million over the past two decades or so, surely not enough to keep a large machinery manufacturer in business. In fact, barrel making is only a small part of GFM’s business; the automotive industry uses many of these machines, especially in Europe. American auto companies are starting to realize the benefits of hammer forging, and more and more forged car parts make their way onto the road everyday. While it won’t ever be as common as milling or turning, hammer forging has slowly become a common process in the manufacturing world.

The precision achievable with these machines is almost otherworldly.

While it seems like a rather crude process to beat the barrel down on the mandrel, the process actually requires quite a bit of finesse. Subtleties provide exceptional control of the bore and groove dimensions. For instance, the mandrel is tapered and can be moved in along the length of the barrel during forging. This provides two advantages. First, by precisely locating the mandrel in the bore, a specific bore size within 0.0001” can be obtained. Second, by adjusting the mandrel’s position during forging, the operator can create a tapered bore.

This was how the German war industries created the Gerlach taper-bore or squeeze-bore weapons during World War II. In essence, they used a tapering (but rifled!) barrel to squeeze down the driving bands on high velocity kinetic-energy rounds (with tungsten-carbide penetrators).

Here is how Daniel Defense makes an AR barrel, starting with steel rod, drilling a pilot hole, gundrilling the bore hole, then running it on the GFM machine, profiling it, chambering, etc.

One of the most interesting scenes (to us, at least) was the toolmaker using a surface grinder to reconfigure and restore the worn faces of hammers. The hammers last about 1,000 barrels before needing maintenance.

American GFM corporation links to a number of videos of these machines in operation. Here’s a sub-5-minute video of how a gigantic rotary forge machine takes a steel tube and forms it into a cannon or tank main gun barrel. It’s just like the Ruger or Daniel Defense process, except much larger — and the barrel preform is heated to roughly 2000ºF and maintained at that heat while being forged.

The Army designed and built its own machine, but it’s clearly a kissing cousin of the GFM hot-forge process.

The strengths of this process are speed and consistency. And the biggest obstacle to using this technology, of course, is the barrier to entry: such a machine is extremely expensive, even if you don’t need one big enough to work on 8″ guns.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Right by Ike

This is a classy memorial to Ike. Naturally, it wasn’t what no-class Gehry had in mind. (It’s in a traffic circle in Bayeux).

We’ve written before about the shambling zombie calamity of a memorial that the talentless po-mo society architect Frank Gehry designed for the Eisenhower Memorial.  Which is how we get to Right by Ike, our Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. (A bit light on “weapons,” even if Ike wasn’t, commanding arguably the most powerful combined joint force ever to bestride the planet).

The premise of Right by Ike is that any memorial should do right by the 20th Century military and political leader — which the Gehry selection and his deliberately insulting, demeaning design does not.

The selection of Gehry was done by a sham “competition” set up by Gehry pal Rocco Siciliano with the eventual “winner” — Gehry — preselected. The design itself is an eyesore, with steel chain-link-fence-like “tapestries” stretching high into the sky, signifying nothing. Gehry’s design contract has already experienced a 65% overrun, with one of the few things actually constructed to date — mockups of the “tapestries” — came in at 2,300% of budget. Still, Gehry insists that the overall project budget — initially $50 million — is finally stable at $150 million.

Gehry does not have a track record of successfully estimating costs:


A Poor Track Record for the Architect

Project Name Estimated Completion Actual Completion Estimated Cost Actual Cost
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles 1997 2003 $100 Million
(rev. from $50m)
$274 Million

Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago 2000 2004 $10.8 Million $60 Million

Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT, Boston January 2004 May 2004 $165 Million $315 Million

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 2005
orig. 2003
Cancelled for lack of funding $40 Million $200 Million
at cancellation

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial 2017
orig. 2015
$55-75 Million Currently $150 million

More than that, the buildings he has built have often had leaks, corrosion, and other structural problems. He’s very, very fashionable… he’s just not very good. And here’s what Gehry thinks of the guy he’s supposed to be memorializing, President and General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower:

Kind of like what the thinks of you. 

Then, there are the aesthetics of the memorial. The Eisenhower family was opposed until recently, but has been bought off by some added statues of Ike. Bruce Cole in The New Criterion described the architect’s jarring style as “gehrish,” in a review of a biography of the “starchitect” featuring this insight into Gehry’s love for chain-link:

Gehry… had a complicated psychological relation with chain-link fencing, which he discussed with the long-time Los Angeles celebrity therapist Milton Wexler.

…Wexler didn’t share Gehry’s admiration and deep feelings for chain-link fencing. He, Goldberger says, thought of the material “more in terms of prison yards . . . and he was troubled by Frank’s fondness for it.” Gehry was offended when Wexler told him he “was expressing anger with chain link” and that he needed to do “angry things with this corrugated metal and things to piss people off, to get attention.”

But wait. Why are we raving about a bad architectural design, from a poseur of an architect, in a Website of the Week? Because the Eisenhower Memorial is at a crossroads — rumor is that a few of the weasel Republican Congressmen who dream of circulating in Society are willing to suck up to Gehry to do it. For example, critic Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been bought off with a seat on the commission board — cha-chingg! Right By Ike, which wants to do right by Ike (naturally), is a website that consolidates everything you need to know about this fiasco.

Here’s one more graphic from the site: comparing the three most revered Presidential memorials with the Ikesore, what would it cost to build them in current dollars?

An Expensive Proposal

Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 1
Washington Memorial
Cost: $45.3 million*
Lincoln Memorial
Cost: $48.6 million
Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 1
Jefferson Memorial
Cost: $42.4 million
Eisenhower Memorial
Currently $150 million

Right by Ike’s Sam Roche points out (at Breitbart) that it’s not too late: there’s a guy in Washington who’s built a few buildings without 2,300% budget overruns before. What’s his name?

If there’s anything helpful to be done, it’ll be noted at Right by Ike.