Soldier and Achmed the Dead Terrorist Team Up

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Armed Self Defense Gone Bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons Learned:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Items Excluded

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

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

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

So What’s Left?

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

There are several ways to estimate this number:

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

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


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

TheGunFeed links weaponsman

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

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

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

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Trenches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is not yet known how deep the trench is.

Deep enough. For two guys, too deep.

Water has been shut off to the area.

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

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

Damon Linker, No Deep Thinker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

giag-suppressor giag-suppressor-baffle

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Spooky Sunday

At some time today, we’ll be putting the Demon Dog and other Halloween decorations out, which makes it Spooky Sunday.

We’ve been engaged on the new social media platform Gab, which is still in beta. Imagine Twitter, but with more than twice the characters per post, and an institutional commitment to free speech (vs. Twitter’s commitment to social engineering). Highly recommended. Your Humble Blogger is, of course, @hognose and frequently gabs about #guns.

Had a week of sticking to diet but off-and-on on exercise, so we saw — we are not making this up  — a one day gain of 3.3 lbs (1.5 Kg), followed by dieting off a half-pound a day… ending the week at a new low that was a half-pound below last week’s record. It makes for a weird looking graph for this month so far:


Especially when you consider our real objective has to be below the bottom of that graph. It doesn’t look quite so bad when we look at the whole thing:


It’s more work than we might like. We know what we need to do (doesn’t everybody, about most things?) and we just need to ruck up and execute.

Not all the news is even that good. Got the news that Tom Greer died after an incredibly brief illness. He is best known to the public as author Dalton Fury, a name guys ribbed him about. He was a legendary special operations leader, who came up from a private in the Ranger Regiment; even there, his contemporaries tell us, he was marked for advancement. (I do not recall him ever serving in SF, just Rangers and other special operations forces).  Here’s a non-fiction essay of his worth reading. We lost a good one there.

We spent 3:30 (that’s three hours thirty minutes, not three minutes and a half) on the phone with a friend (and former leader) in Fayetteville. He came through the storm all right, just lost power for a few days (others are worse off). His wife is fighting severe illness, and it gets him down. On the phone, all that dropped away and we solved all the problems of life, the universe and everything (especially special operations).

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon and evening with an old teammate (an 18E commo man, but he’s a gun guy, naturally) and introduced Small Dog Mk II to his rambunctious German Shepherds. (Yes, plural). However, because we wrote and queued this post up before leaving for his house, we can’t tell you whether SDMkII got eaten or not, unless or until we update the post.  Still, he has such separation anxiety, we didn’t want to leave him.

Finally, we’re meeting the Blogfather in New Orleans soon. We don’t know the city; we’ve never done anything except drive on through. We know the former D-Day Museum is a must see (now the National WWII Museum), and we saw online the LA Guard museum, an old fort, and a Confederate War Museum… we’re wondering if readers have any recommendations, and that’s not just gun stuff, but also food and entertainment options. We’ll be in town about five days.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Plunging Pickups

san-diego-crash-1It was a mass casualty event at the gritty urban park under the Coronado bridge in San Diego.

Four people were killed almost instantly and nine others were injured, authorities said. Two of the injured victims suffered major trauma.

Yikes! What happened?

[A] pickup swerved over a San Diego-CoronadoBridge retaining wall and plunged 60 or more feet onto vendors’ sales booths during a festival in Chicano Park.

The driver was traveling from a northbound lane on Interstate 5 west onto the bridge when he lost control of his GMC pickup about 3:45 p.m. The tan truck with Texas license plates landed steps away from a stage, where the Los Angeles blues-roots band The 44s was in the middle of its performance, witnesses said.

“I saw a truck come right off the freeway. It was going so fast it flew over the stage and landed in front of the stage on a tent, a booth that was set up,” said Chase Dameron, who was about 30 feet away.

Hmmm… we smell the unmistakeable aroma of Judgment Juice™. Are we right?

The driver, who was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, was in shock within seconds of the crash and asked witnesses who rushed to his aid to please contact his commander at a nearby military base.

via 4 dead as pickup plunges off Coronado bridge, lands in Chicano Park – The San Diego Union-Tribune.

san-diego-crash-2The dead were a couple who had participated in a motorcycle rally, and were browsing in a t-shirt vendor’s tent, and the couple operating the concession in the tent. They were killed instantly by the falling truck. The drunken sailor in the truck apparently was not seriously injured, although he was arraigned in the hospital. The nine injured were all expected to recover, although one woman had a compound fracture of the femur; for her, the recovery road will be long.

Comparing Nuclear “Deals”: South Africa and Iran



The Foreign Policy Institute has an interesting, brief comparison of the Iran deal, which they opposed, with the nuclear disarmament of South Africa.

They point out that the President said this, announcing the Iran deal:

An unprecedented inspections regime.

The most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated.

The most vigorous inspection and verification regime by far that has ever been negotiated.

Pretty much every word of that was a lie. There is, essentially, no independent inspection; there is no verification; there is instead a date certain that erases even the fiction of inspection. Iran, of all nations, has been put on the honor system, as if “honor” means anything to mohammedan savages, anything but a handy excuse to murder your daughter or sister.

The contrast they use depends on a fantastic report, Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program, that does a thorough analysis of the rise and fall of this historically unique program — the only time in history that a nuclear power unilaterally disarmed. The document is here with links to free .pdfs. FPI describes it thusly:

Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program provides a detailed account of the development of South Africa’s nuclear program, from its embryonic stages, in the 1950s, as a nuclear research and development center to its eventual production, beginning in the late 1970s, of six nuclear warheads. According to the authors, Pretoria, in the program’s early years, likely wished only to acquire the option to develop nuclear weapons but harbored no desire to operationalize this capability. Ultimately, however, the apartheid regime altered its strategy largely in response to rising fears of Soviet expansionism, hoping that the mere possession of the warheads — rather than their actual use — would deter aggression.

It’s actually quite a good study of a little-known armament program.

FPI then contrasts South African open disarmament with Iran’s mockery of international engagement, whilst maintaining a clandestine nuclear arms and delivery systems (the ballistic missiles are a key nuclear technology, after all) program.

The essential difference, however, seems to have been missed by FPI’s Tzvi Kahn. The RSA, unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran, wanted to disarm. (It’s also a fact that they didn’t want to leave a nuclear capability in the hands of a nation that has potential to give rise to a Mugabe or Amin). The Iranians are not the least interested in disarming. It sounds like madness, but their cult preaches to them that they will rule the world, and they mean to do just that. Nuclear weapons are a means to that end. Iran has no interest in disarming, and must be disarmed by force or economic pressure — neither of which is palatable to an administration more attuned to Iran’s aspirations and interests than to America’s.

Thing From the Vault: Pinfire 9mm Double Pistol; Worst Trigger Ever

In this Thing From the Vault, we have a double pistol gifted to us recently by a friend. It is a 9mm  pinfire of uncertain European (Belgian, perhaps?) make. It’s an oddity with a number of screwball design features; maybe it was French, because it has some of the sorts of quirks our long-departed Citroën had. Wait… it is Spanish, we just figured that out, and we’ll tell you why. First, a picture. (All pictures here do embiggen).


The pistol is furnished with a carved walnut grip and is finished in the white. We’ll give you a quick walk-around, starting from the hammers and proceeding clockwise. There are two single-action hammers, each with a full cock and a half-cock position. The hammers are serrated at the top of the spurs. The retractable triggers only extend at full cock; with the hammers at half-cock or at rest, they are approximately flush with the bottom of the pistol.


pinfire_pistol_3Forward of the hammers, atop the barrels, is the sight, a simple notch; there s no front sight. The sight slides and forms the safety (we’ll show you later how this works). The barrels are octagonal in section and 9mm in caliber. Beneath the barrel, the pivot screw, pivot spring and locking block are evident.

pinfire_pistol_6The main lock of the pistol shows trigger and hammer pins, and is curiously cross-hatched.

The grip is rather crudely formed to fit the decorative shape of a steel grip cap with lanyard ring.

The right barrel bears black-powder proofs from Eibar, Spain in the 19th Century.


The markings on the right side are Xº1 9,9 [an Eibar proof crest with antlers] [an Ebar black powder proof with three non-interlocking rings] and the strength of the proof, 700 Kgs (Kilograms/square centimeter pressure). The markings on the left side of the barrels are a serial number, 05435; what may be 2.2 in a lozenge shape; and CAL. 9.



The pistol must be half-cocked to be opened. With the hammers on half-cock, pushing the locking bolt from right towards left allows the barrels to be opened. No extraction is provided; the pins in the cartridges can be used for that.

Pinfire  was an early cartridge system that was quickly made obsolete by the rim- and later center-fire cartridges. There’s actually a lot to say about early cartridges (including a great three-volume work by George A. Hoyem). Pinfire allowed self-contained, more or less hermetically sealed, metallic cartridges, but they had to be inserted so that the pins fit into the slots in the barrel. The pin was like a little firing pin built into the cartridge, and activating an internal priming compound set against the inside of the cartridge case. It sure beat muzzleloading and paper and linen cartridges, but the popularity of the rimfire after 1850 consigned pinfire to the history books — and the Vault. By 1900, pinfire was a dead concept, but cartridges were made for existing firearms as late as World War II. A few die-hard enthusiasts remanufacture and reload pinfire cartridges today.

For more, including a look at the primitive safety, click on the link below.

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