Sniping and Satisficing

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

We had an epiphany while at a foreign weapons course, zeroing in on a target with a Romanian FPK with a badly maladjusted scope. Fortunately, the instructor was an ace spotter, so he was able to talk us on to heart shots by using Kentucky windage — aiming, in fact, at the silhouette’s hand in his pocket to pop him just (our) right (his left) of the sternum.

It wasn’t the optimum way to fire the gun, but it worked. It was satisficing, not optimizing.

A McMillan .338 LM with a Nightforce or Schmit & Bender scope might well be an optimum sniper weapon, but the organizations that spring for weapons like that are few and small. A small, poor country like Communist Romania could put an FPK in every  or every other rifle squad. The USSR did something similar with the similar-looking (but better designed and made) SVD (Dragunov Sniper Rifle, in its Russian acronym). What were they thinking?

These weapons would not impress M24-equipped SOF snipers, or M40-wielding Marine Scout Snipers. But they were adequate for their task. They gave every rifle unit a few precision riflemen that could engage point targets out beyond the effective range of assault rifles. They got all the other benefits of snipers, too: ISR through direct observation being, perhaps, the most important.

The Soviet and Warsaw Pact (now Russian and CIS) program was a success even though it was not up to SF or Marine standards. But, thing is, it didn’t have to be. For the Russian architects of Soviet sniping doctrine, which drove the development of the SVD rifle, “good enough” was, well, good enough. They chose to satisfice, not optimize, a decision that met all their needs while working within their constraints.

Satisficing is often a more satisfying process than optimizing. If something is optimized for particular requirements, it may be less adaptable than something that was just good enough. And it’s entirely at the mercy of the wisdom and foresight of the guys who write those requirements. (Six years after adoption, for instance, even Army Ordnance figured out that the nifty-neat magazine disconnector that let you use a Krag like a Trapdoor really wasn’t enough of a killer feature to pick it over the Mauser, after all).

The US has many riches in Small Arms Development, but consistency is not one of them. Consider two development programs that brought contracts to H&K over the years: the Offensive Pistol and the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System. Both of these contracts were successful, in that the US military procured (or in the case of the CSASS, is procuring) at least some of the systems. But both might have gone better, had a satisficing approach been taken instead of a maximizing one.

The Offensive Pistol was a special operations project mostly driven by a SEAL wish-list. It produced a pistol that checked every box, but that was nearly as bulky and heavy (with its suppressor) as a carbine. Despite the weight, though, the Mk 23 pistol was handicapped by being a pistol that fired a pistol cartridge. That meant it could never be a sole weapon, the guy using the Mk 23 (presumably in clearing a linear or confined target) needed to have a carbine too.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island. Without something for scale, the size of it isn’t obvious…

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

The Mk 23s are out there, but I’ve never heard of anybody using them for anything but playing on the range, or stylin’ and profilin’. It was optimized for its set of specifications, but nobody ever said, “Wait a minute, we say we want it to do X and handle Y, but did we ever do X and Y with a pistol before? Why not?”

In the case of the CSASS, the Army (in particular) had another firearm that was developed from a telephone-book-sized stack of requirements and specifications, the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. The M110 SASS had the same thyroid problem as the Mk 23: it was unweildy for the ways the soldiers wanted to use it.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system. And it was too long and unwieldy, hence, the compact semi-auto sniper system competition started to find a less unwieldy

The maker of the original M110, Knight’s Armament Corp., offered to modify the existing M110s to meet the new spec for short money but the Army wasn’t having any of that. They wanted all new guns, and hang the expense.

The CSASS, a cousin of the German G 28 (HK calls this variant the G28E), is basically a piston .308 AR, but it’s optimized for the new specification.

das-hk-g28e-im-cal-7-62mmx51What happens when the users of that rifle make contact with the enemy and suggest some changes? Or, somewhat more cynically, what happens when some new action officer replaces the old and brings a new set of prejudices to bear on the problem? Will the CSASS have as short a run as the M110 did? And be replaced, as it was, by what’s essentially the same gun?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Partisan Rifles

partisanriflesThis is a site that deserves a lengthy write-up, but for now we’ll just hit the high points. We do promise you that, if you are interested in obscure European 20th-Century history, or in Mittel- and Eastern European firearms, spending time at Partisan Rifles will reward you handsomely.

The author of the site, who goes by the nickname — we are not making this up! — “Hairy Greek,”  expresses clearly what his site is all about:

This site is dedicated to rifles from the Balkans region – the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia), Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and also Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Turkey – especially those rifles with soldier graffiti on them.  I cover anything I can get my hands on, which is mainly WWI to WWII, though there are many examples from the earlier Balkan Wars, and recent Croatian and Bosnian Wars.  While not technically in the Balkans, I have found some fascinating rifles from the Spanish Civil War, and will include those also.

Balkans-region rifles from the 1800’s and earlier have shown me that decorating rifles was a common practice, possibly stemming from Turkish or Middle Eastern decorations.  This tradition has been carried on well into the 1990’s.  A number of the region’s rifles bear initials, names, cities, dates, kill counts, and political symbols on them.  Most of these markings were made by non-government irregular forces, or militia members.  These markings create a historical journey by showing who used the rifle, where and when.  For example, the above rifle was most likely captured from the Italians by Tito Partisans in WWII.

Every old firearm has a story to tell, and on some of these the story is carved right into the wood of the stock. Fascinating site.

PS — he’s got some really flashy Montenegrin Gassers, a revolver we discussed recently.

Carry Handle My Wayward Son

There’s been a rash of “carry handle” posting on Reddit’s /r/guns subreddit lately. Apparently some people think carry handles on firearms, which Stoner et. al. thought absolutely brilliant in 1955 or so, are old-fashioned enough to be quaint, or entertaining.

Some of the posts are clearly childish humor, but we guess someone had to compare our AR iron sight history with our CZ history. (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle cz

OK, this guy is coming in broken and stupid. On the other hand, that, and snarking at the bot, got the poster banned by one of r/guns’s mods, who are known to have itchy trigger fingers.

And then, there’s this A3, posted with the claim that carry-handle mounted iron sights handle mud better than optics.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle a2

He was trying to clone his service gun (USMC), but would do it differently now:

This is my carry handle, there are many like it but this one is mine. Unfortunately the rifle shoots like dog shit and the vertical stringing is legendary. Getting about 4″ groups with match 77gr and 69gr ammo. Wanted a semi-accurate service rifle clone for USMC nostalgia, went with PSA base tier. Was disappoint, gonna do it right next time and just pick up an RRA national match gun.

Some of them are highly personalized, like this custom-finished, wood-stocked A2.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source). On A1s and A2s, the carry handle is a forged part of the upper receiver.

carry handle A2-ish

The owner says:

Picked it up from my gunsmith buddy who had it laying around for a few years. LOVE this gun. No name upper, Anderson lower, Rock river barrel, internals/pieces, plus lots of stainless Ceracoat.

Just goes to show you can build a very attractive gun with popular-priced pieces. The only thing premium here is the walnut stock: find this set with the cheekpiece (and laminated options) at Brownells. (The Brownells product is made by Lucid, and on their own website they offer a greater variety of woods and figuring — also unfinished for custom fitting). A slightly more A1-ish and less custom set is here, and if you a real OG carry handle user, you’ll like the even more A1-friendly Ironwood Designs set.

Here’s a 9mm pistol with the Original Gangsta fixed carry handle. (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle 9mm

Poster describes it:

[M]y 9mm Colt-ish pistol (soon to be SBR I hope)…. built on a Black Creek Precision EF-9 lower, Colt upper, and RRA barrel.

And then there’s the guy who’s right in our wheelhouse with a retro collection.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle retro

He rather he’pfully defines them:

Thanks to the invention of the Carry handle i was able to bring all of these rifles outside for a pic in one trip.
From top to bottom: Colt 603 AKA M16a1
Colt 604
Colt 733
On the Side Colt 607, my XM177 is borrowing the 607’s lower until the XM177’s stamp is approved.


Asked for a parts breakdown on his XM177E1, the user, Admiral Ackbar, opbliged:

AdmiralAckbar86[S] 2 points 3 days ago
Upper: Nodak
Lower: Nodak
Barrel: Brownells 1:12 chopped to 10 inches by Retro Arm works
BCG: Colt
LPK: Colt
Pistol Grip, Handguards: Colt
Stock: Essential Arms
Buffer Tube: Nodak 2 Position
XM177 Moderator: Brick

Hey, whatever is fun for you. For most users a carry handle (and even iron sights) are a waste, all you need is a flat-top and a red dot for a defensive or plinking or training carbine. Of course, if you’re chasing meat, and that meat’s a Colorado elk, a red dot’s not going to do it for you (and neither is 5.56).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have M-series BMWs

BMWBang. And just like that, two people were killed instantly, one more mortally injured, and a fourth seriously injured (but she would recover — minus her family). All because a kid with rich, indulgent parents, no sense of responsibility, and a long history of driving offenses, felt like driving at triple-digit speeds.

The previous traffic offenses that were precursors to this killing spree? All broomed, evaded or minimized by expensive lawyers and the special deals available to the wealthy in America’s corrupt courts.

The one survivor who walked away? The speeding, reckless, self-centered kid. Naturally.

Behind the wheel of a turbocharged BMW, the 20-year-old shot down River Road in Bethesda at 115 mph — 70 over the posted limit. He was heading home after picking up Chinese food for his family.

Ahead, on the other side of a slight rise, a Chevrolet Volt carrying a family of four was about to make a left turn from the opposing lanes. They were on their way to a high school play and were five minutes from curtain time.

The crash was thunderous.

The BMW slammed the Volt broadside, killing three of the family members despite the heroics of horrified witnesses: the men who lifted an uprooted metal sign to try to pry open a door of the Volt; the ex-CIA officer who smashed a tool he had in his pocket into the car’s rear window; the petite doctor who was passed through the broken window into the Volt to try to give medical help.

“I did it! It’s all my fault!” the BMW driver could be heard yelling.

We suppose it’s admirable that he took responsibility post hoc but it’s still a weak substitute for actually being responsible.

That driver — Ogulcan Atakoglu — signaled in court records this week his intent to plead guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter after a lengthy police investigation into the Feb. 27 crash near Walt Whitman High School. The results of that probe, including Atakoglu’s speed and statements from witnesses, are detailed by Montgomery County police in a 16-page collision reconstruction report obtained through a public records request by The Washington Post.

via He was going 115 mph. They were driving to a school play. Then, a deadly crash. – The Washington Post.

The Post writer seems to be as eager as the kid’s paid mouthpiece to praise the kid. He’s bright and talented and from the right neighborhood (Bethesda) and does the right things (makes video documentaries enhanced by his father’s avant-garde jazz) about the right subjects (New Deal programs of FDR, one of the people Washington Post staffers worship instead of God). It would be terrible to make him feel any consequences for his misconduct.

And yeah, driving 115mph on an hilly, curvy suburban road, with many cross-over and turn-around points, and limited lines of sight; in the dark; in late rush hour drive time?  That’s misconduct on the scale of sending automatic fire into a crowd.

In a nation of laws, Ogulcan Atakoglu, the worthless kid, would never see the light of day again, unless there were rocks that needed breaking, out baking in the sun somewhere. But we don’t have a nation of laws. Especially in the National Capital Area — where this outrage took place — we’re increasingly a nation not of laws, whose applicability depends entirely on the person who would be their object, but of ranks. 

The state won’t punish him. His indulgent parents certainly won’t punish him. (Well, they might be angry that he broke their Beemer). And his underdeveloped conscience? That’s unlikely to register anything much. By this point, he’s smart enough not to say it but Atakoglu probably resents the unfair inconvenience of other people getting in the way of his time with the Ultimate Driving Machine.

The Radio Station at Gleiwitz

Sender_gliwiceIronically, it’s inside Poland now: the radio station at Gleiwitz, where the first actual shots of the Second World War were fired. Fittingly, for a war caused by 20th Century European utopian totalitarian ideology, the shots were fired into defenseless captives.

In the city now called Gliwice, the ethnic German majority is gone, never to return. Some fled with the beaten Deutsche Wehrmacht as it fell back before the Red Army; some were expelled postwar. Many of today’s Gliwice families are Poles who were ethnically cleansed from Polish territory annexed by the USSR in 1945.

The radio station’s antenna still stands, and is one of the tallest wooden structures in use globally. That radio station was the scene of one of the most significant false flag attacks in the long history of warfare.

The False Flag Attack on Sender Gleiwitz

On the night of 31 August 1939, a group of SS men under the command of one Alfred Naujocks stormed the station. It was one of a half-dozen or so “false flag” actions that took place to give Hitler the casus belli he wanted to seize the Lebensraum his ideology demanded a Greater German Empire needed.

Essential to the deception were a Polish troublemaker who’d been seized by the Gestapo — the general area of Silesia had mixed Polish, German, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian settlements — and a half-dozen nameless souls from Germany’s already-thriving network of Konzentrationslager. 

In the light of their part in the production, it’s a safe bet that they, unlike the SS men, weren’t volunteers. They probably didn’t know the codename for their part in the operation, which translates to English as “Canned Goods.”

The camp inmates and the Pole were dressed in Polish Army uniforms, and then given lethal injections.

Then, they were shot and their bodies were artfully arranged around the place, while a Polish-speaking Nazi read a script over the radio.

The next day, the media were brought in to see how badly Germany had been put upon. Gullible and easily played, then as now, many of them went along with it.

Did Erdo Stage His Own Coup?

You can’t turn on a glowing rectangle this week without seeing the suggestion that Erdogan’s coup was, well, Erdo’s coup. Was it the Radio Station at Gleiwitz? We’re agnostic on the subject: he could have staged it, but he could merely be refusing to “let a crisis go to waste,” to borrow a phrase. (Indeed, the latter is more likely). Some Turks are even suggesting that Erdogan knew about the coup in advance, and let it go so he could have a crisis not to waste.

Foreign Policy reports that the purges in the wake of the coup have begun to alarm outsiders:

NATO allies have been troubled by the massive government crackdown in the wake of the violence however, which has seen 50,000 people either arrested or fired from their positions. That includes the arrest of 6,000 military personnel — among their ranks over 100 generals and admirals — hundreds of police, and thousands of judges and academics. While events are moving quickly, Stoltenberg said that Turkish military officers working directly with NATO “are safe and secure,” and that the confusion “has not hampered our operations.”

When it comes to the military, Erdogan looks to be taking control. A Turkish government official told the Washington Post that “an outline” of a new military restructuring plan could be floated as early as Wednesday. Speaking on a conference call on Tuesday, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Steven Cook said that in the wake of the crackdown, “the military is now Erdogan, …it is now in chaos and subject to the control of President Erdogan.”

The purge victims include not only all generals not of Erdo’s party, but all college deans, tens of thousands of academics who are secularist or not the right strain of Islamist — particularly followers of exiled mullah Fatih Gulen, whose extradition from the USA Erdogan has demanded — and what is emerging is, in all but name, a sultanate.

The rapidity and breadth of the roundup does suggest that the Erdogan government had a plan (and a list) on file, if not actively in their pocket on the day of the abortive uprising. In fact, Al Jazeera quoted a member of Erdogan’s party as saying the coup was triggered prematurely by the imminent arrest of key plotters.

John Kerry, assuming his usual negotiation position (i.e., supine), has already said, with some weasel words, that if Erdo wants Gulen’s head on a plate — and Erdo most assuredly does — he’s got it. (And that’s literally head on a plate — Erdogan is talking about reinstating the death penalty which had been previously discontinued in hopes of Turkey joining the EU — something that is extremely unlikely now at any rate).

And Now for Coup Nº 2: Armenia

Another coup has been in the news, but at a lower level in the West. It was an attempt by a group of Armenian oppositionists to trigger a revolution — an attempt that has failed and yielded a hostage situation. Richard Giragosian, an Armenian think-tank head based in Yerevan, gives us a run-down through Al Jazeera (again! Has this blog ever quoted Al Jihad twice in one post before?):

More than a dozen people seized the police station, taking hostage several police officers, including the deputy head of the national police, Vartan Yeghiazarian, and Yerevan’s deputy police chief, Valeri Osipian.

The two senior police officials were reportedly taken hostage, willingly or involuntarily, after coming to the scene to negotiate with the group. One police hostage was subsequently released, reportedly for health reasons.

Although the gunmen may have genuinely expected some sort of popular support, they were quickly disappointed. Moreover, the incident and the lack of any popular reaction only confirmed the marginal standing of this radical fringe group within Armenian society.

Yet, this hostage standoff was serious, for two reasons. First, this particular police station was targeted for a reason – as one of the largest depositories of police weapons in the capital, with an onsite arsenal that was seized by the attackers.

Second, the gunmen were veterans of the Karabakh war, with little to lose and with extensive experience in handling the weapons at their disposal.

And after an initial police assault to retake the police station on the first day failed, the gunmen were better prepared, and strengthened their positions, using the hostages as human shields, making any rescue operation especially difficult.

Armenia has increasingly re-subordinated itself to Russia since 1992. For example, Armenia’s borders with non-Russian-controlled states are under the management of Russian border guards; thousands of Russian soldiers are based in the country; its air defense is managed by Moscow and staffed with Russian jet and missile crews.

Russian forces in Armenia, whom the Armenians believe are necessary for protection from Turkey and Azerbaijan, have a most unusual de facto status of forces arrangement: near-complete impunity. Like American sailors and Marines in Okinawa, the Russians have a few bad apples among their ranks, but unlike the Americans’ sensitivity to Okinawan sentiment which leads to miscreants getting the judicial hammering they deserve, Russians’ understanding of their relationship with their junior partners means, essentially, that Russian troops can do no wrong — or at least, bear no punishment for wrongdoing.

Two Russian soldiers, privates Popov and Kamenev, who murdered two civilians and wounded 14 during gunplay (yes, Judgment Juice™ was in da house) in the garrison town of Gyumri were given token sentences and allowed to serve them in Russia — which immediately released them.

In 2015 a Russian deserter, one Valery Pavlovich Permyakov, broke into a house seeking [more] vodka. (Do we see a pattern emerging in this misconduct? Pretty similar to the Okinawa cases, actually, young men and Judgment Juice™). He got his vodka and a change of clothes, leaving behind his uniform, his service rifle, a bunch of expended casings: and six murdered and one wounded members of the family that lived there. The mortally wounded victim, a six-month-old baby, suffered for a week in hospital before expiring from his wounds. The dead included two adult men, three women and a two-year-old daughter as well.

Permyakov was captured immediately — by Russians — and the Russians refused to allow him to be tried in an Armenian court. Instead, a court-martial was convened, but there was a sudden discovery that Permyakov was “mentally deficient” and thus unable to stand trial. (“Sorry about that!”) The fact that he had been drafted, the Russians explained, wasn’t proof that he wasn’t “mentally deficient,” but just a consequence of an error in the draft system. (“Sorry about that!”)

He was sentenced to 10 years — for desertion and unlawful possession of a firearm. The murder trial seems to have dropped out of the media.

If the Russians have lost the capability for dealing firmly with mass murderers, all faith in humanity is forfeit.

The present coup seems to be used, if not intended, like the Turkish coup, to identify, expose, and annihilate political opponents of an authoritarian government. Hundreds have already been arrested in Yerevan in what seems to be a “round up the usual suspects” purge.

The proximity, timing, and ultimate beneficiaries of these coups suggests that their may be a foreign hand in each. We leave his identity as an exercise for the reader.


SVT-Inspired Italian Rifle: It’s Strange

Ian at Forgotten Weapons spent some time last month  touring sunny Italy, and turning up unusual weapons everywhere he went. This is one we found most interesting, and it resides in the Beretta collection:

Copy of Russian Semi Rifle 01

It looks like a Russian semi-auto rifle, but it doesn’t look exactly like any of them. The muzzle brake resembles that of a Simonov AVS, for example, while the metal forward handguard looks like it fell off a Tokarev SVT. The gun overall has a certain elegance to it. SVTs tend to be well-machined and -blued, but this Italian prototype puts them to shame.

From this angle it’s a near ringer for an SVT. One wonders if the chamber is fluted as the SVT’s is. (Tokarev found it necessary to assist extraction).

Copy of Russian Semi Rifle 02

Here’s what Ian says:

Through inspection, we know it is a mechanical copy of the Soviet SVT 38 or 40 – it shares the same exact bolt, locking system, and gas system. Even many aesthetic features like the metal front handguard, muzzle brake, and sights are remarkably similar to those of the SVT. The biggest difference is the magazine, which is a fixed design fed only be stripper clips. The rifle is chambered for the 8x59mm Breda cartridge, and magazine capacity is unknown – probably either 9 or 10 rounds.

The clue that this is a Pavesi rifle comes from the safety lever, which is identical to the safety lever on the Model 1942 Pavesi rifle. The only markings on this piece are two repetitions of the serial number (875), on the receiver and stock. This serial number suggests that a significant number of these rifles may have been made, although I have not seen any other examples, nor any recorded information on when or where they were made, tested, or fielded.

We do disagree with him about the muzzle brake; at least on our SVT-40, the thing on the end of the muzzle is more like a Cutts Compensator than this brake, which resembles the AVS-36 brake more.

It’s not that unusual that Western copies of early Russian semi-auto weapons would exist. One suspects that the early Simonov and Tokarev rifles were instrumental not only in the design of this rifle, but in Dieudonné Saive’s SAFN (Semi Automatic FN) rifle, which would become the SAFN 49 when development, interrupted by the German occupation of Belgium, was resumed after the war.

We don’t know all that much about Italian ordnance in World War II. Certainly Italian surplus was little respected here fifty and sixty years ago, but the idea that Italian ordnance officers weren’t capable of delivering quality weapons to their troops doesn’t really hold water. Ian is one of the few Anglophone researchers online who has delved into Italian MGs and it’s great to see him unearthing information about these unknown (to us) Italian semi-auto trials.

More information, a video, and many more photos, of this rare (unique?) probably-Pavesi at the link.

Assclown of the Ides (late!): Wayne Simmons

Even as he was being sentenced to Crowbar Motel, Wayne Simmons kept insisting to the judge that he was really a super-duper secret agent. This Ain’t Hell has the report, linked below:

Wayne Simmons; sentenced and unbowed

(I’m not sure how we pulled that embed off… it just happened? Blogging with WordPress is like being Homer Simpson: “Life is a bunch of things that just happen.” Pardon the digression).

TAH’s story was based on one at the Washington Post, about which, more in a moment.

Meanwhile, TAH bagged not one, but two phony vets in relation to the Republican National Convention, a phonyish Woman Marine who was actually going to speak (she was dropped when exposed), and a phony Vietnam hero photogenically holding up a flag.

So why did the Post, which normally cares not a whit about phonies (they routinely tonguebathe phony Vietnam vets Richard Blumenthal and Tom Harkin, phony Indian Elizabeth Warren, and phony black Shaun King), suddenly get interested in a phony? Not just because it was a good news story (or they’d write about the others, yes?). Perhaps because among Simmons’s fraud victims was the Post’s arch-rival Fox News, which fell for the clown’s clown act utterly. The Post’s Rachel Weiner:

Wayne Simmons was a professional football player, a drug trafficker, a nightclub doorman, a Fox News guest analyst and an intelligence adviser in Afghanistan.

What Simmons, 62, was not, according to all available evidence, was a CIA agent. In federal court in Virginia on Friday, just before he was sentenced to 33 months in prison, he apologized for lying about his security clearance, his criminal history and his finances.

Wait, what? Criminal history?

Authorities first began investigating Simmons in the fall of 2013 when a woman he had a romantic relationship with came to the FBI saying he had taken her money in a real estate scam. The probe ended up going much deeper.

Authorities excavated Simmons’s life and career, starting with his claim that he was recruited to the CIA out of the Navy in 1973.

In fact, according to prosecutors, Simmons was discharged from the Navy for medical reasons just a couple of weeks after he enlisted. And former CIA officials told the government that they did not recruit agents out of basic training.

Simmons went on to briefly work on a pipeline in Alaska and then played football for several years with the semi-pro Baltimore Eagles and the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints.

Again, his career was cut short by medical problems, according to the records provided by the government.

Each of the missions Simmons claims to have then undertaken on behalf of the CIA was, according to a long court filing from prosecutors, merely the scheming of a petty criminal.

The Post article is replete with details about this guy’s scheming, always crooked, always self-serving, and always resolutely small-time. He seems to have been a hard-core narcissistic knucklehead who couldn’t stop playing Baron Munchhausen. Example:

Defense officials told investigators that a 1996 operation to “recover a very special alloy or object, most likely a Picosatellite,” simply never happened. Finally, Simmons’s Grasonville, Md., CIA safe house was, in the government’s assessment, just a dilapidated vacation home.

It just gets deeper and deeper. Read The Whole Thing™, because we’re only showing you a few highlights.

After starting at Fox, Simmons became part of a group of military veterans cultivated by the Defense Department under Donald H. Rumsfeld. He traveled to Guantanamo Bay with the group. Former Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld, told prosecutors that there was no vetting done to be in the program, because it required no security clearance.

Rumsfeld later wrote a letter supporting Simmons’s effort to have his wife buried at Arlington National Cemetery, according to prosecutors.

Eh. Why do these politicians think their buddies and their buddies’ wives need to pollute our national reliquary? No, just because it took you two weeks to medical out of Navy basic, and just because of the rich fantasy life you’ve lived since then, doesn’t mean you’re a hero outside of your own mind.

And as we often say, Stolen Valor is never an “only” crime. True for Simmons as for so many others:

Simmons pleaded guilty in April to major fraud against the United States, wire fraud and being a felon in possession of a firearm. His prior record includes firearms, assault and gambling offenses, prosecutors said.

Two years and nine months to reflect on all those crimes is not going to be enough. We need sentencing reform, something like 10-20-Life.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Traffic Jams

This picture taken on July 2, 2016 shows heavy traffic congestion at a major highway junction in Brebes, a city on the main Indonesian island of Java. Twelve people have died during a massive three-day traffic jam in Indonesia that stretched more than 20 kilometres (13 miles) and brought thousands of holidaymakers to a complete standstill, an official said on July 8. / AFP PHOTO / ATULATUL/AFP/Getty Images

File photo of heavy traffic congestion at a major highway junction in Brebes, a city on the main Indonesian island of Java. AFP PHOTO / ATULATUL/AFP/Getty via The Sun (UK).

Indonesia’s a big place. Big land, big coastline, big population, big highways. But when all that big population tries to go down the same big highway at the same big time, bad things happen. Big bad things. So many people were stuck in a traffic jam for so long — 35 hours! — that they started dropping like flies.

By the time traffic was going again, the death toll was 18.

Drivers were travelling from Jakarta to Tegal on the East Brebes toll road when they became stuck and forced to suffer stifling heat.

Brebes chief medical officer Sri Gunadi Parwoko said 12 victims died from fatigue.

Five were killed in an accident at a road crossing, while another death remains unknown.

Some of those who died had pre-existing health problems, Lensa Indonesia reports.

via 18 drivers die after getting stuck on motorway for 35 HOURS – The Sun.

We’ve never understood trying to drive at the exact same time that one knows everyone else will be driving. It’s asking for trouble, and most people only do it because they’re still trapped in Industrial Age work modes and schedules (in this case, holiday mode/schedule).

Maybe we’re a weird family but we have always time-shifted birthdays and holidays in the interests of convenience. (Two weeks at a beach resort in early September beats two weeks in August every time, because most of the people are not there, and the weather’s not the same). Europeans don’t take the summers off that American school kids and teachers do, but they do seem to lemming out at the same vacation time and jam the roads every year. It’s understandable for employees of industrial producers that use an annual shutdown to do maintenance, upgrades, or model-year changeovers. But why does every insurance salesman in Greater Teutonia take the same holiday as his brother, the Audi production engineer?

All well, it’s a free world. If you Germans want to pack the Autobahnen to a crawl next month, and you Indonesians want to live and die within a couple miles of the Brebes tollbooths, knock yourselves out.

Does the FBI Need Adult Leadership?

500px-US-FBI-ShadedSeal.svgA bizarre story in the New York Times, on the subject of whether violent news messes with people’s minds, messed with our mind to the extent that we wondered if the managers of the FBI were losing theirs. 

A guide to dealing with terrorism released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation encourages closing your eyes and taking deep breaths to feel calmer.

What happened to everybody that closed his eyes and took deep breaths in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. On the Promenade des Anglais in Nice?

Oh, yeah. They snuffed it, didn’t they?

Taking a walk or talking to a close friend can also help.

Those are all wonderful things to do on a sunny summer afternoon. Confronted by a terrorist? There’s only one right answer: fight back. 

The guide also recommends avoiding alcohol and drugs, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods — basic self-care guidelines that help reduce stress.

Make sure you have a plan to contact your family if something happens, especially if cellular networks are overloaded or transportation is disrupted, but remember that you most likely will not need it, experts say.

via What Is a Constant Cycle of Violent News Doing to Us? – The New York Times. (If that’s paywalled off, here’s the Google Backdoor).

And don’t forget, if you react to the enemy’s attacks, you lose, says the Times.

Lastly, keep your daily routine.

[Some pshrink] said that a primary worry in the field of psychology is people “going out of their way to be so safe that it shrinks their world.”

“Terrorists thrive on this kind of thing,” she added. “They want to see the population change their practices.”

We see this differently. Yes, it’s a mistake to fear terrorists.

But that’s because the terrorists should fear us. 

80% SIG P229 Frames and Jigs

Don’t know anything about these but we came across this video by Robert Germanelo, and it was interesting. It made us go look up the manufacturer’s website. Eight minutes.

It takes 16 or so passes to remove the right amount of material. Note his warning about breaking the carbide cutter inserts if you try to remove too much material in one pass. We don’t know if that’s the cause, but the guy whose homebuilt SIG 229 project videos feature after the jump did indeed break one of his inserts.

The manufacturer’s website is here. It has a comprehensive rig for doing 1911 and SIG frames without a milling machine (as seen in the video above). They sell the jigs, the cast 80% frames, and completion kits made from decommissioned 9mm German SIGs. (Parts interchange seems fine between German and USA made SIGs, FWIW).

Downside? It’s a lot more expensive to do a SIG this way than to do a Glock with the Polymer80 Spectre, much like SIGS cost about 2.x Glock in the real world. Indeed, this is not a way to save money on a pistol — you can buy a 229 or a G17 for less than you can build one for, whether you went SIG with Matrix or Glock with P80. But you can’t buy one you built yourself, which to us is the whole appeal of this thing.

However we won’t be doing this until we (1) catch up on other builds and (2) recover from some gun-related spending, eh.

If you want more information on how the Matrix jig works on the P229 frame, there is a whole series of videos after the jump.

Continue reading