Stable Sunday

Stable as in stability, not as in horses.

We’re not expecting much to happen today. Blogbrother’s brilliant new sprayer came with a DVD that won’t play, so we won’t be priming the insides of the wing skins today. (One supposes we could simply fix the old sprayer. Alas, the local dealer says the factory has no parts for the old industrial, rebuildable sprayers). Until we can prime skins we’re at a building impasse.

The Blogfather will be stopping by later and we’ll go for a drive up to Maine to see what’s on offer for seafood lunch. Formal Father’s Day Night Out is tomorrow.

So, the options for post-Rendering Unto activity today, pre- and post- hanging with the Old Man are:

  1. Continue working on the lawnmower;
  2. Continue working with the book scanner;
  3. Continue work on book writing;
  4. Load up the blog for the week;
  5. Tidy the office, which looks like the Wreck of the Hesperus;
  6. Square away the 3D Printer, for which the manufacturer has a neat new upgrade on offer (basically takes the Mark One to Mark Two level — this is a good thing).
  7. Prepare tax paperwork for the green-eyeshade brigade.

All those things need doing, and bandwidth being a real thing we can only do a couple of them today. Let’s see if we can finish the jeezly mower by the time His Dadship comes by.

So it’s going to be a pretty stable day today. We’ll get some things done, not everything.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Mountain Lions

Powerful defensive mountain lion guards its kill in the winter snow.

A mother’s terror: her five-year-old screaming in fright and pain.

According to ABC 7, the mother was inside their home on Lower River Road, approximately 10 miles from the center of Aspen, when she heard the boy screaming outside.

She ran out and managed to wrestle her son away.

Wrestled him away? From whom or what? From Puma concolor, the American mountain lion (aka cougar).

The boy’s father reportedly drove him to Aspen Valley Hospital with injuries to his face, head and neck.

He was listed in fair condition on Friday night.

The mom was also injured, but was released after being treated.

Is a safari gathering to hunt down the beast that now has the taste of long pig? Not necessary.

The animal was shot by deputies or a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer who also was at the scene, the Aspen Times reported.

What led to the attack is not known.

Hey, British Writer Genius, what led to the attack is that there’s no professional courtesy among apex predators. And many humans have had their predatory instincts — and their prey instincts — bred out of them.

There have been three fatal mountain lion attacks in Colorado since 1991

Not many, because the lions fear and avoid humans most of the time. But people keep building higher and higher up the slopes of the mountain’s… right in Mr Kitty’s habitat. And when you enter the biosphere, you enter the food chain, friends.

via Boy SURVIVES mountain lion attack after mother fights it off in Woody Creek, Denver | Daily Mail Online.

Good for the mom for her attack. In practical terms, an unarmed human can do nothing to stop a mountain lion attack, but again, they’re skittish cats, and if you make their preferred meal enough of a pain in the neck, they’ll choose another option from the menu.

Pity the cat had to die, but then, that was baked into reality when people started building suburbs in the cats’ range.

A Place with Two Names

The small town of Weipert was, in the German tradition, built up in the center, enough to have an urban feeling even though the population peaked at barely 12,000 souls. When the sun shone on the mountain town, the cobblestones gleamed, because the people pursued cleanliness and order. You could sometimes see a shopkeeper scrubbing the sidewalk in front of his small shop, which was a sign that everything inside was as clean as it could get. These souls spoke the German language, worshipped in the German Catholic Church, and were in all the usual small-town occupations, plus one: gunmaking. Gunmaking began here because iron ore, wood for fires and water power were all handy, and even the city crest came to be surmounted by a smith, dual-wielding hammers:

Nr.33 Weipert Wappen

Several of the kingdom’s most talented gunsmiths made their home here, who were gunsmiths already at the time people started having family names. All the way to the turn of the 20th Century, son followed father into the trade. At the end of the 19th, the most successful of these family firms even banded together to form a joint-venture factory and compete for military orders from the faraway capital. This was like the Liège gunsmiths around that time, when they formed FN; the Weipert smiths weren’t that successful, as the nation assigned rifle production to a pair of massive state arsenals, but the arsenals outsourced some parts to the makers of Weipert.

The names of some of the smiths of Weipert are footnotes to gun history. Late in the 19th Century, it was a hotbed of repeater pistols, manually actuated, magazine fed forerunners of the coming wave of semiautomatic pistols. Gustav Bittner finally had this more-or-less sorted out with a delightfully steampunk firearm that also has a Winchester-meets-Obrez vibe.

Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. We believe this pistol to be in the personal collection of Horst Held.

A beautifully case-hardeed Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. This is SN 192, sold by Julia two years ago; we’ve seen numbers from single digits to high 300s.

Bittner was one of those names. So was his competitor (and partner in the joint venture), Gustav Fükert. (No giggling please, the name does not share the meaning of its English false cognate. It’s just a German name. Pronounce FOOK-ert with FOO like in “fool” and you’re artillery close).


(The Fükert ad and a lot of information about the family and the firm can be found in this forum thread).

Before German orthography — spelling — was standardized, it was sometimes spelled Fückert. In fact, generations of Bittners and Fückerts made guns in Weipert, and kings and emperors collected their guns, like Fückert’s Kronen-Drilling (“Royal Three Barrel”). Fükert made some damned pretty guns. (There are some beautiful images in this thread — if you like such guns, keep scrolling and don’t neglect the following pages — but we couldn’t get them to save).

Weipert had its own proof house until 1918.

The German Hunting Gun Society notes that:

Although Weipert had fewer gunmakers than Suhl, Zella Mehlis, Ferlach or Liege, very fine hunting guns were made here. The first gunmakers guild was formed in 1734.

The society identifies the following as Weipert or nearby smiths:

Bartl, Josef
Bittner, Gustav
Bittner, Joseph
Diemelt, Anton
Fükert, Gustav
Fükert, Johann
Gahlert, Alfred
Gahlert, Vincent
Hoffman, Josef Jr.
Morgenstern, Wenzel & Son
Ritter, Josef
Schmidl, Norbert
Schmidl, Eduard
Thiele, Rudolf
Thiele, Xaver

Of these firms, only Morgenstern is known to have survived the war and produced sporting arms into the late 1940s, before his assets were nationalized into the Lověna Prague firm circa 1948. Because Weipert, you see, isn’t Weipert any more. It was always known by two names, the other being the Czech name, Vejprty. And thereby hangs a tale.

Weipert/Vejprty is right on the border of Germany and Bohemia — once a kingdom of its own, usually a vassal of or subordinate to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now the westernmost province of the Czech Republic. In the age of empires, no one really expected national borders to align with ethnic groups’ distributions, but by the 19th Century, the forces of nationalism threatened the Austro-Hungarian Empire (arguably the most successful multinational, multicultural state in history, certainly in European history). Of course, it was nationalism within the Empire that struck the match that lit the fuze of the Great War — which ended the Empire.

After the War, in which the Bittner/Fückert/etc factory produced parts for Steyr, Weipert was a part of the new state of Czechoslovakia. Its people were among many, many Germans in the new state, and by the 1930s, with the German population convinced they were suffering more than Czechs and Slovaks from the consequences of the Depression, the Germans turned to nationalism — German nationalism.

In the parliamentary system in interwar Czechoslovakia, there were numerous parties, including German parties that mirrored the political landscape in Germany — socialist parties, conservative parties. In the 1930s, the Sudeten German Party (SDP) rose as an analogue of the Nazi party in Germany, and became the most popular party among the German population of Czechoslovakia. The ethnic Germans welcomed the bloodless seizure of the Sudetenland and then the remainder of Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1938, and under the Nazi Reichsprotektorat they prospered.

By late 1944 the shoe was on the other foot, and the Deutsche Wehrmacht was retreating. Many ethnic Germans followed the Army back to Germany. Those that remained found that the new Czechoslovakia was done with having a German minority, and remaining Germans were expelled in a case of tit-for-tat ethnic cleansing.

Weipert was, for all intents and purposes, no longer in existence by that name. It is now known only by its Czech name, Vejprty, and the Czechs that made up approximately 6% of the prewar population are now functionally 100% of the population. Perhaps the cultural dislocation was inevitable, after the disloyalty of the German citizens; but one of the losses is the gunmaking culture of Weipert, which was completely erased. The factory stands in ruins.


And to the best of our knowledge, there is no gunsmith, nor even a gun shop, there today. As a Czech might say, To je škoda — that’s a pity.

10mm Fans Rejoice (Both of you!): The Delta Elite is Back

We missed the announcement at the NRA Annual Meeting that Colt was returning the 10mm Delta Elite to production, but Shawn from (who, unlike us, was at the meeting) didn’t. And a couple weekends ago, while we were deep in the trackless north woods hunting paper targets with an array of mostly obsolete Soviet firepower, Shawn was posting about his receipt of a sample DE and his first attempts at shooting it. BLUF: he likes it a lot.

He later would tell us, in an email conversation, that he was planning to buy the test gun from Colt. He really liked it. (This is one of his pictures of the test gun).

Colt Delta Elite Shawns

The new version Shawn tested is like some of the more upscale, customized models of the Delta Elite during its first rodeo, 30 years ago.

For young guys like Shawn, the origins of the Delta Elite and it’s smoking-hot round may be lost in time. In the early 1980s, the 10mm Auto (10 x 25 mm) load was proposed by Jeff Cooper as resolving the weaknesses of the .45 ACP (especially its relatively high trajectory caused by its low velocity). The original 10mm was made from .30 Remington rifle cases, cut to 20mm long and expanded in dies to have almost zero taper.  The round was not new with Cooper, actually, having history as the .40 G&A and .40 PGW, recounted here on The Gun Zone.

10_mm_AutoThe round has remarkable ballistics, even for today, let alone for 1980. They approached that of another wonderful also-ran in the market, Smith & Wesson’s .41 Magnum. The .41 Mag had the lasting problem of being the middle child in a muddled market, but it still managed to build a cult of enthisiasts (thanks in part to the beautiful revolvers Smith chambered in .41), and the same would be true for the 10mm, even as law enforcement turned to the .40 and then back to the 9mm in subsequent decades.

Catalog 1984 01The first gun chambered for the 10mm was the Cooper project, the Bren X aka Bren Ten of Dornaus & Dixon of California. Cooper announced the project in February 1981, in Combat Handguns magazine; Dornaus and Dixon had been working on it since the 70s, and brought Cooper in for his experience — and credibility. The project limped to a close after shipping perhaps 1,500 guns, of which hundreds towards the end shipped without magazines. Seldom has a product launched with a more thunderous bang, or failed with a more miserable whimper. At Peak Bren X in 1984, the company catalog showed no fewer than six models (Standard, Pocket, Military & Police, Special Forces, Dual Master Presentation, Jeff Cooper Initial Issue Commemorative).

It’s generally a bad idea to launch a whole bunch of models of a new product especially if you’re already struggling with production.


Despite the failure of the Bren Ten, serious shooters and hunters still wanted pistols chambered for Col. Cooper’s wonder round, and he didn’t stop promoting it, even though there was an interregnum with no claimant to the 10mm crown on the market. The first 10mm handgun to ship to all its customers with magazines was probably the Colt Delta Elite.

The Delta Elite went through numerous variants and versions during its original nine-year production life, from numbered Gold Cups to blued versions to the most common (which is not saying much) stainless version. In 2009 the resumption of production was announced, but we’re not sure how many shipped due to Colt’s then-perilous financial situation; guns are flowing to the market now.

The FBI, seeking to address firepower problems that were only one of several causes of the 1986 Miami shootout debacle, adopted the 10mm circa 1990, but eschewed the 1911 platform in favor of a Smith & Wesson auto. (They also adopted the H&K MP5 in that caliber. Some other Federal agencies also bought 10mm MP5s, but it’s doubtful H&K ever recovered their investment on that project). The FBI wound up having real problems. The 10mm had been selected by a cadre of dedicated shooters who had no trouble mastering the round, but the average street agent who was not a firearms buff found it unpleasant and difficult to shoot. The bureau ultimately had their rounds downloaded, which led S&W to work with Olin (Winchester ammo) to develop a shorter version of the FBI round which became the .40 S&W. Its big advantage was that it could fit in a pistol with a 9mm grip frame, unlike the longer 10mm. With all Law Enforcement interested in this new round, Glock actually beat the cartridge’s inventors into the market with a Glock .40, the Model 22.

Meanwhile, the 10mm, like the revolver equivalent the .41 Magnum, turned into a niche gun.

In 1987, just one model, #O2010, was in the Colt catalog, a blued gun.

Colt Delta Elite 1987 catalog

By 1990, the line had expanded.

Colt Delta Elite 1990 catalog

This 1990 catalog is also for sale on GunBroker.

Returning old guns to production is something Colt is getting very good at. We wonder what could possibly be next? But we do know that Shawn, who has a well-deserved both ways Mutual Admiration Society going with the venerable Hartford gunmaker, will almost certainly be the one to break the story.


This post has been corrected. The Glock in .40 S&W is the Glock 22, not the Glock 20 as we originally wrote, mistakenly. We regret the error.

The story of the Glock in 10mm is told, somewhat journalistically, in Paul M. Barrett’s book on Glock. (Buy it used. Barrett is hostile to gun owners; don’t enrich him like we did).

Update II

The correction has been corrected with links provided. We officially give up on keeping Glocks straight for the rest of the day. Who’s got the beer? (Actually, time to go repair a lawn mower. Joy).

Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2016 Week 24

This Tour d’Horizon is the laziest, most telegraphic, check-the-boxingest one ever.


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

Mohammed Was Doing Great…

until he got to the Background Check:

background check

Yes, it could be worse, and if Jean-Claude Juncker (click your heels and heil when you hear His name, peasant) gets his way it will be.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. (nothing this week)

Cops ‘n’ Crims

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

The Perils of Kathleen: Flaky is as Flaky Does

This is our ongoing series where we examine the ongoing meltdown of the paranoid, vengeful and extremely anti-gun Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane.

  • Kane Flaked Out on the one constituency that really expected her to stand by them, child abuse survivors. She issued a surprise about-face at a hearing on a statute of limitations extension bill.

In the continuum of bizarre episodes involving state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, her double-cross Monday of child sex abuse victims probably ranks pretty low. She has set a remarkably high standard for weirdness.

Still, Monday’s shocking turnabout — from powerful advocate to weaselly waffler — left a lot of people scratching their heads.

You F’d up. You trusted her.

  • Kane lost at an attempt to toss out all 22 judges in the Montgomery County court that will hear her case. If the other motion was a longshot, this was a barking moonshot.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields. (We’ll have more next week)

On the Efficacy of Tolerance Classes

The Aussie military, like ours, has fallen into the clutches of diversity training Wilberforce wannabees that teach them that Islam is The Religion of Peace® or I Keeel You™. It seems to be working. The source of the story, The Australian, has a nasty paywall but Arthur Chrenkoff has excerpted enough of it that it seems that making the diggers gather around proclaiming that they love Big Brother and We Have Always Been at War with Climate Change (and, Islam is The Religion of Peace®, naturally) makes them love Hadji less, says Dr Miller, author of the cited study:

I find little evidence that the official ‘Islam as a religion of peace’ narrative is widely ­accepted, nor is there evidence that cultural sensitivity training has any effect.

The best estimate … for the proportion of soldiers who have received cultural sensitivity training and who believe that the Muslim religion promotes violence and terrorism is 91 per cent.

The corresponding figure for those who have not had cultural sensitivity training is 17 per cent.

Excellent. All is proceeding as we have foreseen. You can read the whole study here. It is extremely interesting, but Dr Miller is proceeding from some shaky instructions.

Veterans’ Issues

Is it time to disband this thing yet, and letting all its bloatoverhead seek its own level in the Dreaded Private Sector™?

VA Inspector General Runs Interference for Nepotism

In Norfolk, VA, a city veterans’ official, retired Navy Captain John “Condor” Andrews, got worried about the way a vets’ project seemed to be run by the VA’s Rosye Cloud in part for the benefit of a software contractor — Chad Cloud, Rosye’s husband. He asked about it. He got fired. The Virginian-Pilot then asked about it:

Emails obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Andrews was frustrated with his supervisors. He said he had been shut out of discussions involving a Veterans Affairs project – the subject for which the city paid him a six-figure salary.

He also raised questions in his final weeks about what he considered to be a conflict of interest: A senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was married to a man who was trying to sell software that helps veterans and others transition to new careers.

“It is getting nasty at work,” Andrews wrote in an email Nov. 21, three days before he got fired.

Andrews’ emails show he was concerned about Rosye Cloud, a senior advisor for the Veterans Benefits Administration, and her husband, Chad Cloud, the president of Software Performance Group, based in Washington. Andrews learned that Rosye Cloud had been working with his supervisors on a VA program that involved Norfolk. Andrews also knew that Chad Cloud was pitching his software to colleges and others in Hampton Roads and elsewhere in Virginia.

The VA denied that they were investigating:

Curtis Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity at the VA, offered a two-sentence statement Friday: “Ms. Cloud is a principled leader for veterans and a valued member of the Office of Economic Opportunity. We have no reason to believe that these allegations have merit.”

But later, when POGO asked the VA for a statement, the VA IG replied that, conveniently, they can’t say anything because of a pending investigation.

POGO has in the past found that the VA OIG has buried the results of other investigations.

VA: Vets Can Apply, But Only if No Union Goon Wants the Job

One reason the VA has few veterans except for physicians (the agency does like to hire ex-military docs) is that members of the American Federation of Government Employees union have absolute priority over veterans for hiring.

It’s definitely comforting to know that the VA handles vets with the same care the UAW used to build our Chevy with (which is why we now drive Toyotas, an option not available to VA-dependent vets).

The VA does reserve one job for vets, though: janitor.

Lord Love a Duck!

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

12,000 Year Old Puppies

Something’s always turning up in Siberia. Two three-month old puppies froze into the permafrost there some 12,460 years ago, and were found and are being studied by Russian and international scientists.

yakutsk puppy

No word on whether they’re going to try to clone them and make Jurassic Dog Park. It would be totally cool.

A State Comparison: Do Gun Laws Save or Kill?

Law-ScaleAndHammerLet us consider a natural experiment. New Hampshire and Massachusetts are adjacent states that are culturally and demographically similar, in terms of population distribution, although MA is much larger (about 6.75 million persons to 1.33 million). That’s a ratio of about 5.08 to one. You would expect MA to have about five times as many murders as NH, if all things were equal, but it has eleven times the murders.

Could gun laws be the deciding factor? Massachusetts has among the nation’s strictest gun laws, and armed self-defense is subject to the entirely arbitrary whims of local officials. New Hampshire adds very few state strictures to Federal law: you need a license to carry concealed, but the license is easily come by at one’s local police station. These policies, if they are the cause of the disparity in per-capita murder rates, cause the unnecessary death of more than twice the number of people that more liberal gun laws would.

In the following table, the first row of numbers represents Massachusetts, the second row New Hampshire.

NH vs MA Murder
Population M Pop Ratio Homicides Murda Ratio Murders/100k If MA had NH’s murder rate Killed by MA laws If NH had MA’s rate Saved by NH Laws
6.745 5.08 132 11 1.96 61 71 132 0
1.327 1 12 12 0.90 12 0 26 14
2014 data Population: US Census Bureau;
Homicides: FBI UCR Table 5

The literal majority of the homicides in Massachusetts are due to the state’s differences from New Hampshire; more than twice as many would die in New Hampshire if Granite Staters murdered one another at Massachusetts rates. ; At a minimum this suggests that MA gun laws are ineffective; it may suggest that MA gun laws are counterproductive, perhaps because they hinder self-defense and encourage criminals.

The numbers may be small compared to other national per-capita hellholes like Chicago, Detroit or Baltimore, but that reminds us that the worst cities for urban violence all tend to have gun laws much like Massachusetts.

Now, you may say that this is a facile argument that keys off a statistical anomaly. But is an anomaly that recurs, year-in, year-out, all that anomalous?

You might further say that this table commits the logical fallacy of implying causation by correlation. That is correct. It is also what the anti-gun polemics masquerading as epidemiological surveys of gun homicides that appear in allegedly peer-reviewed journals do.

Certainly something makes the residents of the Bay State much more murderous than the demographically similar residents of the Granite State. It may be the state’s gun laws. Or it could be the toxic, polluted waters of Boston Harbor, or the presence of the faculty and grad students of Harvard University, a rum lot if ever there was one. It may just be that its judges coddle criminals more gently than their peers in NH. More research will be required to localize the cause.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Anti-Freeze

Antifreeze JugThe good news? He’s ready for cold temperatures.

The bad news? He has one.

A woman who serially knocked off two husbands with the glycol trick was 43 or so when sentenced to at least 51 years in prison in New York for one of the murders. It’s unlikely a middle-aged woman can do five decades in the clink, and Stacey Castor was no exception. She didn’t do the 51 years of her 51-to-life sentence — but she did as much as she could.

A woman who was convicted of fatally poisoning her husband with antifreeze, attempting to kill her daughter and trying to frame her for his murder, has died in prison.

Stacey Castor, 48, died Saturday morning while serving 51 years to life at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County, the Onondaga County district attorney’s office said.

Castor was pronounced dead at the prison at 6.48am.The cause of death investigation will be conducted by the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office.

She was convicted in 2009 of killing her second husband David Castor and trying to kill her daughter Ashley Wallace as part of a plot to pin the murder on her.

Castor was pronounced dead at the prison at 6.48am. The cause of death investigation will be conducted by the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Stacey Castor was also convicted of filing a fake will to inherit her second husband’s estate and was suspected of fatally poisoning her first husband in 2000.

The judge who sentenced Castor said she was guilty of the most reprehensible crimes he’d ever seen.

And the judge wasn’t a newbie. When he made that statement at Castor’s sentencing, he’d been on a criminal court bench since 1975.

Investigators originally said Castor’s first husband, Michael Wallace (pictured) died of a heart attack until his body was exhumed and authorities ruled his death a homicide

‘In my 34 years in the criminal justice system as a lawyer and a judge, I have seen serial killers, contract killers, killers of every variety and stripe,’ Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey said.

‘But, I have to say, Mrs Castor, you are in a class all by yourself.’

Castor’s 2009 trial is considered one of the biggest in recent Syracuse history, according to

Castor’s case spawned a two-hour 20/20 special on ABC and she earned the nickname ‘The Black Widow’ by some.

The case was featured on an episode of ‘Forensic Files’.

David Castor’s death at 48 in August 2005 was initially considered a suicide, but investigators later determined he didn’t knowingly drink ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in antifreeze.

Stacey Castor was charged in September 2007, just days after investigators in neighboring Cayuga County exhumed the body of Michael Wallace, her first husband and the father of her two children.

His cause of death had originally been ruled a heart attack, but after the exhumation, authorities ruled the 2000 death a homicide caused by ingesting ethylene glycol.

via Stacey Castor dies in prison while serving sentence after killing her husband | Daily Mail Online.

It’s not the glycol that kills you but its acidic metabolites, and the hospital can usually save an adult that knows he’s been poisoned with ethylene glycol. (If you lack a hospital try drinking heavily, vodka for example — seriously, ethanol competes with the glycol metabolites for the same receptors in specific enzymes). Because it causes intoxication, alcoholics may ingest anti-freeze, which is really unwise — one cupful of anti-freeze (which is usually 50% glycol) puts an average man right at the LD50 dose.

Footlocker Find: Exercise Cards

One of the joys of being a pack rat is that occasionally you find a forgotten treasure that you saved when almost nobody else did. One of them is this exercise TOC card from, if memory serves, exercise REFORGER 81.

exercise_cards exercise_cards02

Exercise Cards are used to identify exercise participants, sometimes for the play of the problem, and sometimes for local authorities, In the 1980s, Federal German authorities were used to foreigners running around their country with rifles. Every fall, REFORGER (which was a test and demonstration of REinforcement of FORces in GERmany) brought most of US Army Europe out of the field and brought a lot of US Army not Europe over for a few weeks of hard training and at least a couple nights of revelry.

Cards were issued to our Fort Devens-based team by the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, who isolated us at and launched us from Bad Tölz that September. As the team LNO, your humble blogger also had an exercise TOC (tactical operations center — buzzword for command post) and Isolation Area access card. You can see a faint blue ink notation LNO at the top of the obverse of the card (left). The Trojan Horse crest, with lightning bolt and wings, is the original 10th SF Group beret flash; rejected by the Army Institute of Heraldry, it remained (and remains) an informal but powerful symbol for SF elements in Europe, in 1981 the 1st Battalion at Tölz. The signature at the bottom is, we think, that of Captain Arthur Muschamp, the S1 (personnel officer) of the battalion, whom we all recall as a native-fluency speaker of German, and a great guy. The reverse of the card has a box where a mugshot, a number, or color-coded access strips could be placed, and a drawing of the Special Forces shoulder patch. No tab yet (it wasn’t invented).

Here’s another card from the dim and distant past. This is a Fieldcraft Exercise card from Special Forces Operations & Intelligence Course, Special Warfare Advanced Skills Division, in 1988-89. This is a more typical exercise card in that it includes contact information for “real world” emergencies.


Two small alterations have been made to these cards, for security purposes. Your Humble Blogger’s Social Security Number, then used by the Army as a universal identifier, has been erased, and the radio frequencies have been similarly erased, in case our Russian friends still have the tapes somewhere. (The phone numbers were published in the base phone book, so we let them stand).


We wouldn’t be shocked to see further exercise cards surface over the next months and years. God knows we had enough of them.

The Five Ws of Buying a Gun on the Internet

For Sale, on the Internet: Colt Gatling gun on Bronze Mount. Don't tell the media....

For Sale, on the Internet: Colt Gatling gun with Eccles Drum, on Bronze Naval Mount. Don’t tell the media….

It surprised us to learn that a lot of people have not done it. Going over our last dozen or so purchases, we haven’t had a single one that we saw in the Big Gun Shop Over the River® and we don’t buy guns from the gun counter in the Anti Gun Gun Store™. We’ve bought, in quantity order, from:

  1. Online auctions;
  2. Real auction houses, but by online or phone bid;
  3. Consignments brought into our Kitchen Table FFL® who then blasts ’em out by email.
  4. Online advertisements by specialty dealers to collectors.

Of course, our requirements are kind of specialized, so we can’t count on finding what we want in a little State of 1.3 million people. As the collection fills in, the rarities we’re still seeking are likely to turn up somewhere else (maybe not even in the USA, but that’s a story for another post).

If you have yet to pop your internet gun cherry, we’re here to help. (NCO traditions never die). Here’s our recommendation for how to make your first Internet gun buy, structured as a 5W — Who, What, When, Where, and Why — with plenty of How. We’ll do it in almost that order, although the How will always be embedded in the 5Ws, and we’re going to tackle Why first.

5W: Why: Why Buy from Some Guy You Don’t Know?

There are several good reasons to buy a gun remotely rather than locally.

  1. The remote seller has something your LGS does not;
  2. The remote seller may have something exceedingly rare;
  3. The remote seller, especially collectors liquidating or upgrading collections, may have a piece in superior condition or with superior provenance.
  4. Basically, online sales let sellers and buyer both extend their reach.

Most importantly, the internet acts to disintermediate the once very obstructed supply chain of rare and low-density firearms, and to let people cross-level these guns across a wider community. This is good news both for buyers seeking rare guns, and for sellers with rare guns that may need time and a wide net to find the right buyer. (Otherwise, as the degree to which a gun is “specialized” or expensive rises, its buyer pool evaporates).

5wsOf course, local stocking dealers let you find guns by serendipity. In the 1970s, we discovered a cool-looking firearm at a local shop, The Gun Room in Shrewsbury, Massacusetts. (Wonder if it’s still there? We believe the proprietor was a guy named Peter Dowd).  We didn’t know what an ex-Finnish Army Tokarev SVT-40 was, but it followed us home and got us started with Russian and Eastern European firearms.

There’s also a reason to buy online that’s potentially a bad reason: to get a new gun for less than your local guy stocks it for. Some online sellers have such market power vis-a-vis the manufacturers and importers that their advertised price is less than the wholesale price that the local dealer pays to to his upstream, whether it’s the manufacturer or a jobber or distributor. Most transfer dealers will transfer these for a fee, but it makes them heartsick to see someone walking out of their shop with a gun they can’t match price on. The problem with saving money this way (and shopping transfer dealers for the lowest price, too) is that you undermine the dealer system.

Some dealers are considering adding a surcharge for guns from these vendors like Bud’s Gun Shop or KY Gun Shop. Some may already be doing it.

So you want to think about whether a $20 savings is worth injecting some sourness into your relationship with your local guy. Because, buying guns is partly about guns, but it’s also all about people. The better your people skills, the happier you and the other two players in the deal will be.

1W: Who: The Three Players

The good news for our Aspie spectrum readers (you know who you are) is that you can improve your people skills by learning rules, if experience doesn’t work for you. There are three players in any online transaction: buyer, seller, and transfer dealer. All are equally important to a good transaction.

question markThe buyer is you. The seller can do things to increase or decrease the probability you will buy from him, which is a another tale for another day; you will contact him online or by phone. We strongly recommend dealing by both email and phone. Email is asynchronous, which is convenient for the many dealers who work part-time as well as for private sellers, and it provides a permanent record. (In any event, if you buy from an online ad or auction, save the ad or auction to your computer; you may want to refer back to it later). Phone lets you ease the trust barrier between stranger buyers and sellers.

The transfer dealer is vitally important. Your firearm will almost certainly originate out of state. We always establish the relationship with the transfer dealer first, rather that surprise him with, “We won the auction, please send a copy of your FFL to.” There are exceptions, but most dealers genuinely like guns and gun people (and are always surprised by the wide range of us out here), so making sure you and the dealer are on

2W: What: The Firearm, and Your Expectations

5Ws2In an online ad, you have limited opportunity to examine the firearm, and many sellers explicitly disclaim any responsibility for the thing after it hits the carrier. “As is.” We’ve never encountered a dealer who was a crumb about it, but things do happen. Understand that online, you’re no longer dealing with friendly Fred across the counter. You’re in a low-trust environment. The seller does not trust you, and you should not trust him too much on the first transaction. That’s why auction houses and online auctions have developed procedures such as feedback to encourage ethical dealing.

Don’t be shy about asking questions. Reputable dealers and auctioneers, especially with rarities and antiques, usually provide lots of good, well-lit photographs. If something about the gun is important, ask. And listen to the answer. We’ve seen relatively few problems caused by dealers, but an awful lot of problems caused by private sellers’ or buyers’ unstated assumptions.

Read the terms, for auctions and online sales. If the guy says money order only, and you call him after the sale to try to wheedle him into taking your personal check, he’s not the one being a [bleeep].

Dealers, especially collector-focused dealers, often include an inspection period. This is customarily from 24 to 72 hours. If you have buyer’s remorse — which is, by the way, the largest single cause of gun returns, with, “my wife flipped out when she heard what it cost” a solid #2 — you can usually return a gun inside this window. Shipping is your expense if you do that; don’t squawk about it, even having an inspection period is a courtesy the seller extends to you. If the gun is not as represented, that is a separate issue.

3W When: Some Time Factors

Interstate 5wHere’s another thing that favors your LGS. You can buy the gun and walk out with it after the NICS check. (Unless you’re in some statist kleptocracy with a waiting period — you know who you are). Immediate gratification beats nervous waiting; that’s how the pleasure centers of your brain are wired.

Let’s start with a baseline of online auction time factors. Here are some rules for success as an online auction buyer:

  1. Before: Have your transfer FFL picked out and pre-briefed before your buy. He will need to send his FFL to the seller (in the case of an FFL dealer) or show the seller how to verify his FFL (in the case of a non-FFL seller). Note that some dealers will not accept transfers in from non-dealers (and some jurisdictions won’t let a dealer do this, requiring all interstate shipments to go to and from Federal licensees).
  2. Before: Set a hard and fast top-line price, beyond which you will not be buffaloed (this is good advice for any auction because in live auctions also, it’s easy to let excitement get the better of you. Don’t ask how we know this).  In an auctioneer, not online, auction, factor in any buyers’ premium, a little fiction auctioneers use to encourage bidding by only tagging on a substantial charge — we’ve seen 17% — to the hammer price.
  3. Before: Pick a price you’d like to get it at. It’s a free country and you might get something for a low ball. (Which is why many auction sellers place a reserve). That is your first bid.
  4. Before: Note when the auction ends, and commit to being there at the end. If it’s a thirty day auction, it’s not going to sell on Days 1-29, so nobody bids then but chumps. The human race being what it is, somebody always bids then. Commit to being there at the end of the auction.
  5. Towards the end of the auction, enter a bid. Like most serious bidders, we usually don’t get into an auction until the last half hour or even 15 minutes. There’s just no percentage in wasting time earlier. Perhaps at the 15-minute point, the bidding is already over our preset stop line, and we don’t bid at all. That’s normal.
  6. If you win an auction, you’ll know just about immediately (online auctions) or within 24 hours (auction houses). You have a limited period for making payment. The terms are usually crystal clear.
  7. You may be able to pick up your purchase, in the rare case of an intrastate sale. Or it may have to ship to a transfer FFL near you. It is your responsibility to ensure the sender has the FFL’s contact information and license, although the FFL will usually prefer to send it himself.
  8. Expect a week from payment clearing for the firearm(s) to be shipped. We have found four to seven days is about standard. (An inexperienced seller can drag things out, and we’ve had to educate on or two).
  9. When the firearm arrives at the transfer FFL, he will unbox and inspect it (for the serial number and maker/importer information if nothing else), enter it in his Acquisition & Disposal record (“bound book” but these days it may be a computer database), and notify  you its in.
  10. At the transfer FFL, you will complete Form 4473, show ID, and (usually)

4W Where: Where to Find these Auctions?

There are three kinds of “places” we go to on the net for guns:

Online auctions. The best in the business is GunBroker, but we are irritated with them for supporting career criminal Trayvon Martin’s family and hangers-on over George Zimmerman. AuctionArms has a smaller selection, but seems to be rising; it’s the one that has a dope deal with NRA.

Live auction houses. There are three, off the top of our head, that offer firearms of great interest to modern arms buyers, shooters and collectors:

Of these, we have bought only from RIA. We’ve been outbid at Julia, and well, we’ll see how we do at Amoskeag.

Specialty Forums. Most every kind of firearm has a forum dedicated to it, and many of them contain a classified section.

5W Why: Hey, we already covered this!

But we’d like to add that, like most things in the gun world, you do it for education and recreation. (We’d be hard pressed to break down which of the two is paramount).

Textin’ With Jody

Who’s Jody? If you’re a vet you know him all too well. For the rest of you, he’s the star of numerous cadence calls that marching military trainees hear:

Ain’t no use in going home; Jody’s got your girl and gone.
Ain’t no use in looking back; Jody’s got your Cadillac.

(That should give you an idea how old these calls really are: they date to when Cadillacs were aspirational products, not badge-engineered Chevies indifferently assembled on the same production lines by the same truculent, hung-over workers).

In any event, a guy whose friend asks him for advice discovers, to his chagrin, that he’s advising none other than Jody his ownself.



First, how is somebody “kind of” married? Is this guy in some weird parallel dimension where marriage vows have an effective range of 1,000 kilometers or something?

But as bad as things were for young Jody, they were about to take a turn for the worse…


The organ making his decisions for him is probably not his heart, but as you see our former Marine (white text on blue) is handling this with aplomb.

As to Jody, the would be Marine recruit? He is being set up the bomb, as the old net meme used to go…


Amazing, but Jody doesn’t see it coming… click “more” to see the first whammy our hero puts on young Jody.

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