Ghost Gunner Tips & Tricks #2: Setting up a GG Station

This is a follow-up to our previous post on this general subject, which was cleverly titled Ghost Gunner Tips & Tricks #1This post is the second in what we expect to be an ongoing series.

We have the GG sitting on a rolling tool cart. Here is what is good and bad about that.


  • Good: it’s easily rolled around, and plugged into the gunsmithing workshop computer, or disconnected and rolled out of the way, because the same computer is also used as the book scanning computer and station with the Fujitsu SV600 scanner. It provides a single location for the machine and its ancillary stuff from USB cable to jigs and fixtures and some manuals and instructions. We can even keep workpieces waiting to be run in one of the drawers.
  • Bad: The GG generates a good bit of force when its axes are running, and so it has a tendency to make the base move. But if you lock the locking casters of the tool cart, it actually walks on the rubber mat atop the cart. We’re thinking a thick pad from Tractor Supply will put this to a stop, but we fear the moving cart will have an effect on finish quality,

The cart itself is a WorkSmart model that we bought, on sale, from MSC Direct. We have tool boxes from Craftsman Professional, Snap-On, Craftsman (import), and other makers as well. You may have noticed that there is a wide range of prices for what superficially seem to be very similar boxes. In our experience, the difference between them comes down to several things, all of which favor the name-brand box over the cheap Chinese stuff.

  1. The better the box, ceteris paribus, the thicker gage the metal is.
  2. The better the box, the better the drawer slides are.
  3. The better the box, the more readily repairable it is and the more available spares are.
  4. The better the box, the better prepared the metal was before painting. This affects durability, but it also affects the comfort and safety of the user, as Chinese Slave Labor Factory Nº 76214 tends not to de-burr metal, and instead leaves sharp edges on everything.
  5. The better the box, the more likely you get extras like drawer liners.

However, if your budget only extends to cheap Chinese, there’s a few things you can do to get closer to the $4000-box experience. For example, being aggressive with abrasives and touch-up paper can keep rust from gaining a toehold on your toolbox. (So can dehumidifying the working environment). Likewise, patience, red ScotchBrite, and touch-up paint can correct for lack of deburring at the factory. Don’y hesitate to get a rubbery (and contrasting) drawer liner material; this will keep the bare insides of your el cheapo box from getting all beat up, and save your tools some scars along the way. And you can hunt for used or estate sale boxes. One day ours will be for sale this way!

Our intent is to have the Ghost Gunner related tools in the top drawer and the tooling (jigs/fixtures and fasteners) in the second drawer. Since we’re currently just using the factory AR-15 jigs, and the top drawer is full of cables and pulleys for another project, everything’s in the second drawer.


Clockwise from 12 o’clock, the tools are:

  • 12-3:00: The white tray is a separator we had handy, not our ideal one, and its contents are extra M4 fasteners. We keep duplicates of all the standard jig fasteners: M4-20, M4-45, and appropriate nuts and washers (it was pretty inexpensive to buy all of these). We also have some M4-50s that are used with a bunch of washers to create an M4-51 equivalent when the M4-45 doesn’t quite reach. The Fastenal bolts are made in Taiwan and the washers and nuts in China, and they come with lot numbers for tracking, which is not required for our purposes.
  • 3-4:00: We have some manuals tucked in here. And an extra box of M4-20s just for GPs.
  • 5:00: A Sharpie, a small magnetic wand, and a nut driver set up for the M4 nuts (that’s a 7mm socket).
  • 6:00: The bolts for the two standard setups on the AR-15 milling process.
  • 7:00: More jig bolts. One of these is the above-mentioned M4-50 with extra washers, and one has a small printed nubbin that shows that it is the bolt that goes through the pivot pin holes.
  • 8:00: Appropriate Allen keys (3mm) for the M4 bolts, drill bit and end mill, ER-11 collets.
  • 9-11:00: Mallet and assorted open end wrenches. The shop’s lousy with mallets and wrenches, so we probably didn’t need to put these in here, but it’s a timesaver to have extras in here, and it’s not like they’re our only ones.
  • 12:00 and Down to the Center: The three-component plastic jig for working on the AR lower receiver to the right of the simple rubber-headed mallet mentioned above. As they’re black on a black drawer liner they might be hard to see.

Stay tuned for further reporting on this remarkable tool. Happy building!

Note: the GhostGunner is a simple, compact CNC mill developed as an open-source project by Defense Distributed. The long-term plan is for it to be at the center of an ecosystem of technology, information, and shared files. That is currently suspended due to a legal attack by anti-gun appointees in the State Department.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: JSOU Press Publications

jsou_libraryHere is a fine example of Your Tax Dollars in Action (for our international readers, Some Other Guys’ Tax Dollars in Action), being returned to the public in the form of freely downloadable publications, all related in some way to Special Operations: The Joint Special Operations University Publications.

Is that whirring we hear the sound of hard drives spooling up? Be our guest. You’ve paid for the knowledge and expertise contained in these documents. They are yours to learn from.

In 2016 alone, JSOU published nine numbered Papers, a fistful of Occasional Papers, and some themed collections of articles. They’re all here. They cover subjects like: unconventional warfare doctrine, the history of how one 7th Group battalion task force took down an al-Qaeda underground/auxiliary network in Iraq, and an evaluation of how better to meet SOF language and human domain knowledge needs. Some of it is aimed more at the academic than the practitioner, but it’s all useful stuff.

For example, at this writing the most recent of them is The Evolution of the Global SOF Enterprise from a Partner Perspective, by Lieutenant Colonel Asbjørn Lysgård, Norwegian Army. (The .pdf is here, also). LTC Lysgård is a Norwegian Military Academy graduate and longtime veteran of an element we foreigners aggregate with all other Norwegian SOF as NORSOF, but that the Norwegian services know as NORASOC. In fact, each Norwegian SOF element has its own history and skillset, and each can reach back to earlier Norwegian SOF that were formed in close collaboration with British and American SO elements in World War II.

Norwegian SOF in training.

Norwegian SOF in training.

Norway, however, following the Second World War, disbanded all its SOF units to prioritize a larger conventional force structure to meet the Soviet threat. The legacy of OSS and SOE was still present though, especially in the reserves and the Norwegian Home Guard. Finally, almost a decade after the war, Norwegian Defense Forces started to reinvest in SOF. In 1953, the Navy established the first teams of Frogmen and, in 1962, the Army established Hærens Fallskjermjegerskole (HFJS), the Army’s Commando School, to train long-range reconnaissance units for parachute insertion behind enemy lines. During the Cold War, U.S. SOF worked closely with HFJS to shape the battlefield, fighting off a potential threat from the East. Throughout the Balkan wars and the Kosovo crisis, Norwegian SOF became an expeditionary strategic deployable force, which later developed into Hærens Jegerskole/Forsvarets Spesialkommando, the predecessor of the current strategic command.

The Norwegian Special Operations Command (NORSOCOM) was established on 1 January 2014, when its first commander, Rear Admiral Nils Johan Holte, took command of the two tactical Norwegian SOF units, Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK), and the Navy SOF unit Marinejegerkommandoen. Since that time, the NORSOCOM commander and his staff have strengthened the long-established relations between the different SOF units around the world.

LTC Lysgård explains, from the point of view of an Allied officer, what it’s like to be one of the over two dozen partner nations in the Global SOF Network, a functional and technical means of coordination and cooperation.

In reading his paper, we learned a thing or three about the current status of interoperation among friendly SOF, and in fact it goes quite a bit further than we thought it did. If you’re interested in such things, it’s a thought-provoking read.

And if you’re not? Keep looking around the JSOU Library. You’ll find something that’s more to your taste.

Artillery in Iraq, August 2016

artillery-02They came out of the sky in the night, using tactics invented in Vietnam and honed by generations of artillerymen since. Mobile warfare demands mobile fire support; overnight, a barren scrap of desert becomes a counter in the Game of War, a temporary home to a battery of M777 lightweight howitzers.

The Army describes a recent (August) mission involving the establishment of a forward firebase, and execution of multiple fire missions.

“Do you have eyes on?” Joseph radios to the CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots as they approach. Given the affirmative, he watches as they float toward the landing zone. With a dull thud and a cloud of dust the guns are released onto the ground and the CH-47s turn off into the night.

The 101st is known for air assault operations and Fort Campbell, the home of the unit, is where the Sabalauski Air Assault School resides. For the team on the ground, this operation is business as usual.

“Let’s go, let’s get a move on,” Joseph says to the gun crews. Working under the lime-green hue of their night vision goggles, they move their guns and begin setting up the systems, ensuring they are prepared to execute their upcoming fire missions.

The Soldiers work through the night, and by first light they’re ready to fire.


Staff Sgt. James Johnson, the fire direction chief for Battery C, sits in the back of his fire direction center truck looking intently at his radio, waiting for a call for fire.

“This is where the magic happens,” Johnson says as he concentrates on his console.

Observers, which can consist of assets from the ISF, unmanned aerial vehicles and other aircraft, acquire targets they need hit. Once the battalion headquarters located miles away in the tactical operations receives the data, they push it to Johnson and his team at the FDC.

“We process data,” says Johnson. “They [the artillerymen on the gun line] proceed to shoot.”

A few hundred feet away from the FDC, gun crews are moving around their guns in full kit, checking and rechecking minute details, making small adjustments, waiting to spring into action once the FDC sends a message.

Just then the radio crackles and Johnson grabs his hand mic, listening to the data. He then begins his battle drill, one he’s done many times before. Johnson sends a message to the gun line, “Gun 2, fire mission.”

Down at Gun 2, the crew, led by Staff Sgt. Johnathan Walker, springs up as the radio beeps; in seconds they are at the firing position going through their crew drill.

“Come on,” Walker yells to the crew as they prepare rounds and take their positions. “Let’s make money!”

The crew members look through the sites and adjust the gun as Walker yells the fire data. Attention to detail is critical during this mission; he must remember the data for each round his crew is going to fire.

“Fire!” yells the crew chief, and a Soldier gives the firing lanyard a slight tug. The gun responds to this small motion, shaking the earth around the position as a high explosive shell is launched.


The next gun fires soon after and the race is on between the two gun sections, a little company competition to see who can fire rounds the fastest and most proficiently. Even working in temperatures that exceed 100 degrees, the teams are driven.

“Let’s get through this!” Walker yells as he calls off the quadrant — up and down — and deflection — left and right — for the next round. Driven by their chief, the Soldiers move faster as the mission continues.

The dash endures for a while as the guns launch round after round. Dust hangs in the air after each round is fired and sweat stings the Soldiers’ eyes. The ammo carriers are running rounds weighing over 90 pounds from the holding point to the gun, heaving the shells into the firing tube. Walker’s voice grows hoarse as he yells adjustments and commands.

Finally, the last round is reached.

“Last round,” the ammo bearer says as he walks up to Walker. With a nod, Walker gets ready for his last command of the mission.


via The gun raid: US artillerymen support Iraqi advance on ISIL | Article | The United States Army.

And that was that. After taking fire missions from a variety of sources, the redlegs secured their guns and called the Chinooks. Where did they go?  Was it to another hasty and temporary firing position? Was it back to the FOB to rest and refit?


There are some members of ISIL who would like to know the answers to those question. And other, former, members, who are beyond knowing.

Is artillery useful in an unconventional war? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s not just useful, but indispensable.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Booze and Weed (and Knives)

bloody-knifeHyphenated name? Check. Artist? Check. Second-generation artist? Double check. Drug user and drunk? That gets all the rest of the checks.

What odds a guy like that has any contribution to make to society, except a negative one?  But most of his ilk are merely withdrawn, dull losers — like he was, up until the murder.

Render Stetson-Shanahan may not remember the merciless moment cops say he plunged a kitchen knife into his roommate three times, but he does know he shouldn’t walk free.

“Even if I had the option to get out of here, I wouldn’t want to go,” the 26-year-old Queens artist and accused killer told The Post in an hour-long jailhouse interview on Rikers Island.

“There’s something very wrong. I need to be in a psychiatric hospital,” he said in a strained voice, looking pale and exhausted.

Actually, in any kind of a just world, he’d already have been hanged by the neck until dead, dead, dead, but he’s in New York, so that’s not in his future unless he does America a favor and does it himself.

Stetson-Shanahan was charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly snapped on Sept. 28 and brutally stabbed Carolyn Bush, 26, in the neck, arm and back with a kitchen knife inside the Ridgewood apartment the two Bard College graduates shared.

Stetson-Shanahan — the son of famed New Yorker magazine illustrator Danny Shanahan — claimed he could not remember the grisly act, but pieced together in detail the moments before and after it.

“I remember taking my clothes off for bed and telling myself that I needed to go to sleep,” he said.

“I felt my mind shifting states. It was distinct and very sudden. I started being really loud, stomping around, calling people and talking loudly on the phone. I was also talking really fast. It was like I was someone else.”

Then, he turned his attention toward his roommate, Carolyn, whom he’d been introduced to two years ago through a mutual friend because she needed a new flatmate.

“At one point I . . . asked Carolyn how to use my phone,” he recalled of the bloody night.

“She laughed, gave me a weird look and asked if everything was OK. She knew something was off.”

Just before he murdered her.

Police say this is when the frenzied artist took Bush’s life — leaving her sprawled on the floor of their second-story Stanhope Street apartment in a pool of blood. He then maniacally sank the knife into his own leg.

When asked to recall the brutal crime during the Friday interview, Stetson-Shanahan looked down, closed his bright blue eyes and said, “I’d rather not talk about that.”

No kidding, he’d rather not talk about that, now that he’s in jail for it. He’s probably bummed that the weed isn’t quite as good inside.

“The next thing I remember is running down the street barefoot in my underwear. I was almost euphoric. The pavement under my feet was wet and I was a bit cold, but I didn’t feel any pain.

How narcissistic do you have to be to murder somebody, and then be analytically concerned about your own pain? This guy isn’t crazy. He’s evil.

“I started smashing people’s car windows with my fist and a knife, I think. I was also going around asking people how to get to Manhattan. I don’t know why,” he said.

His single moment of lucidity came, he recalled, “when I registered that I wasn’t wearing any clothes and felt a bit embarrassed.”

He murders a woman in a violent outburst and he feels embarrassment. He should be feeling the rasp of rough hemp on his delicate skin — briefly.

Neighbor Joshua Cruz heard “high-pitched” screams, and spotted Stetson-Shanahan outside in his underwear and covered in blood around 11:25 p.m., Cruz said.

Cruz went outside to talk to him, and the crazed cartoonist lunged at him with a knife, Cruz said. The terrorized neighbor then called 911.

via ‘It was like I was someone else’: accused roommate killer | New York Post.

Of course, this poor woman wouldn’t have had to take in a murderous boarder if not for New York City’s rent control laws. One wonders how many people have died so that the well-connected can pass around $450-rent apartments, while their “help” has to commute an hour and a half to come in and clean up for them.

A Scientist, a Fort, an Improvised Measurement

fort_prince_of_walesAt the climatology blog Watt’s Up With That, guest blogger Tim Ball has a story of how an obscure fort in remote Churchill, Manitoba on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay became the avenue for a scientific competition between France and the British Empire that shaped the world by validating Newton’s Law of Gravitation — or would have done, if the damnable instruments worked. A key player was a British scientist of unprepossessing background:

william-walesWilliam Wales (1734 – 1798), was born in Yorkshire to working class parents. He moved to London and married Mary Green, the sister of astronomer Charles Green.

He obviously showed mathematical ability because in 1765 he entered the employ of the Astronomer Royal, Sir Nevil Maskelyne. He began work on one of the two major scientific challenges of the day, the accurate determination of longitude. However, that was to become interlinked with the other challenge, testing of Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, published in 1687.

via Scientific Integrity is Constant Challenge: A Classic Historical Example | Watts Up With That?.

measuring_the_transitThere were several possible ways to do this, and the way that Sir Nevil proposed, Wales didn’t think would work. He got assigned to do it any way — he would go to Churchill, and on the other side of the world, explorer Captain James Cook would be in Tahiti, and they would observe the transit of Venus across the Sun, timing it with precision chronographs, and then by application of trigonometry, they’d have the missing ingredient to plug into Newton’s law of gravity.


Previous attempts by both European rivals had failed; the next window was 1769.

newtons_law_of_gravityThe major reason for the 1761 failure, inadequate instrumentation, was not resolved. Nobody knew this better than William Wales. In a parallel of today’s global warming fiasco, the scientists, who were effectively bureaucrats or relied on sponsorship, believed that political support and more money was the answer. So Wales faced a dilemma, keep your mouth shut and do what the King and his lackeys like Maskelyne wanted, or face incarceration and possibly even hanging.

Wales didn’t think the instruments were accurate enough.

Finally, Wales agreed to take up the challenge, but only after negotiating a generous contract that included provision for his family should he not return….

Wales knew the accurate timing was essential to success. He also knew the problems of producing an accurate chronometer. One was specially constructed, and on the Atlantic crossing, he tested it rigorously only to discover it was losing several minutes every day. It was inadequate.

They took a prefabricated observatory with them and on arrival set it up on the SE bastion of Fort Prince of Wales.

It was a working fort, and England was intermittently at war with France.

It was a working fort, and England was on a brief respite in its intermittent war with France at this time.

In the Georgian era, Wales couldn’t just send for a new chronograph from the remote wilderness of Churchill. And he couldn’t use the one the Royal Observatory had given him. He was trying to measure an angle that would turn out to be 9.57 milliradians. So what options were left?


He built a sundial. (Image at right). Archaeologists unearthed it at the Fort and it now rests in the Parks Canada museum in Churchill.

The challenge for Wales was to establish some way of determining time more accurately than with his failed chronometer. During the restoration of the Fort, a remarkable sundial was dug up at the base of the wall. They also found an iron spindle that allowed the user to turn any of 24 faces toward the Sun.

Ball and Leslie Ross were able to demonstrate that the sundial definitely was Wales’s: it contains the same exact error that is in his after-action report to Sir Nevil and the Royal Society.

In a 1984 article “Observations of the Transit of Venus at Prince of Wales’s Fort in 1769” I identified the latitude Wales had calculated for the Fort. Leslie Ross, a researcher at the National Museum of Canada, was also doing research on the sundial. He asked where I obtained the latitude. I told him it was the one Wales recorded in his journals. He said the latitude matched his calculations for the latitude of the major sundial face (June 1983 Stone sundial from Fort Prince of Wales. Research Bulletin #193). It was clear evidence that Wales made the sundial because both latitudes were different from the actual latitude by 11 minutes. I was skeptical that a sundial could be better than even a faulty chronometer, but Ross told me it could determine the time to within two minutes, which made it superior to the watch.

And the report itself says something about Wales:

On his return to England Wales … refused to submit his report. He said the results were of no value. The timing was imprecise, and the telescope optics were inadequate. Wales was finally ordered to submit a report that was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

We are fortunate he complied because Wales did not waste his time but carried out countless other experiments and made many observations. He brought the first barometers and thermometers, constructed to Royal Society specifications to northern North America. He produced an excellent instrumental record beginning in 1768. This continued after he left because he instructed the surgeon in their use.

In the end, Wales’s imperfect measurement of the transit of Venus was overtaken by better measurements, validating Newton’s law. And he resumed work on his other great challenge, measuring longitude.

Far from being angry with Wales, his peers were impressed with his integrity, and when he resumed work on the longitude problem…

Two years after his return to England, the Board of Longitude commissioned him to sail as astronomer and navigator with Captain Cook. Wales job, in association with William Bayly, was to test Kendall’s K1 chronometer based on the H4 of John Harrison.

cooks-chronometersThese superior chronometers resolved many problems, and Wales is a fine representative of the many nameless scientists who toiled (and still toil) in the shadows, gradually dragging the world of the past into a better informed future. Do Read The Whole Thing™.

And what of Fort Prince of Wales? This may have been its high point. While it had 42 guns and another battery of six more across the Churchill River, its garrison was depleted and construction ceased after 1771. During a French raid in 1782, the garrison comprised only 39 civilians, and the fort was surrendered to the French with no resistance or loss of life, and its structures and goods sacked and burned. The cannons on its walls? They never fired a shot in anger. It’s now a Canadian national park and tourist attraction… for tourists willing to travel to someplace that is still quite remote.

What Good is a Dirt-Cheap Pistol?

Here’s an interesting appreciation of the Jimenez J.A. NINE 9mm pistol, an el cheapo blowback 9 x 19 pistol, as sold to those self-defenders who can’t spend $200 after tax on a pistol, and as disparaged by all right-thinking pistoleros.

The Jimenez has an interesting corporate history and uses some purpose-selected manufacturing technology. The die-cast Zamak parts (the cheap pot metal used in cast toys, like Matchbox cars) are cast to near-net shape, and that keeps costs down. The simplicity of the pistol does, also. (It also means the heavy slide and stiff spring are hard for some percentage of humans to manipulate). Everywhere you look in the design, you see that simplicity and low cost were the design objectives. Aesthetics and durabilty and, really, everything else, took a back seat. For instance, look at the magazine floorplate with its clever little bend.

It’s not a Glock, but you can’t buy a Glock for the price of this. Not a used Glock. Not for the price of two Jimenezes (Jimeni?), actually. (Ugh. Vision of dual-wielded Jimenez pistols whilst leaping through the air in a Hollywood blockbuster). But it works with cheap ball ammo (which is what it will almost certainly be loaded with, the cheapest 9mm in the store), and it hits a price point that poor people can meet.

Yes, they can get better used guns for that money, if they shop around and know what the hell they’re doing. But who knows what he’s doing, when he buys his first gun, if he didn’t grow up in it? For most of the people who buy these, it’s a rational buy.

Now, two kinds of people tend to tut-tut at the Jimenez and its Jennings and Bryco ancestors. Those are gun snobs like us, and anti-gunners. We tend to dismiss the pistol as cheap junk, and the anti-gunners have named guns like this Saturday Night Specials. And it’s true: every Monday morning, there’s probably a couple of Jimenezes or their antecedents in the evidence lockers of Chicago. But many thousands of these are made — almost a quarter million in the last five years, according to official ATF production reports.

Year Report Link Production










 five-year total of Jimenez production: 229680

This sounds like a lot of guns, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t. It’s half a year’s SIG domestic handgun production, for instance, but spread over five years. Still, it’s obvious that for all that the gun-ban groups like to call them Saturday Night Specials, and even our fellow gun culture members dismiss them as, for example, “evidence-locker stuffers,” most of these guns must not be used in crime… instead, they’re the home-defense gun of choice for the home defender who doesn’t have any of the good choices that most of us take for granted.

The history of Jimenez is interesting. It is the descendant of several companies that made small, cheap pistols in California and Nevada. The ur-founder was George Jennings, whose original product was the Raven .25,  and his son Bruce and son-in-law Jim Davis founded various similar companies making similar firearms. Their names include Raven, Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin, and some others. Jennings and Bryco were sued into nonexistence in the California courts after one clueless idjit shot another clueless idjit with one. (He didn’t know that if you take out the mag the gun still has a round in the chamber, and he pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger. Moral of story: choose better friends. But a California jury thought that was proof that the gun was unsafe. Moral of story: choose better states).

How the same apparent operation went from Jennings to Jimenez is a tangled tale. The story in the industry is something like this: at the bankruptcy auction, the high bidder for Jennings’s assets was one Jimenez, previously a foreman at the company. The source of his half-million dollar bid is not clear. Jennings/Bryco had operated in California under some kind of questionable deal where the company’s pot-metal pistols passed the California tests that Colt and S&W and SIG flunk all the time, to the benefit, no doubt, of some state official’s off-the-books retirement fund.  That same dope deal wasn’t available to Jimenez, so he relocated to Las Vegas and later Henderson, Nevada.

Former owner Bruce Jennings sheltered some of his assets by redomiciling in Florida. Under the Florida homestead law he was able to shelter assets from the judgment by investing in an expensive home. As far as we know, while  the plaintiff’s attorneys got paid (being lawyers, they always pay themselves first), the actual plaintiffs, we believe, have gotten skunked.

That was not Jennings’s only unhappy result in a courtroom. For one thing, he had previously been convicted for busting his wife’s jaw, in 1985.

[I]n a newspaper interview in 1992, Jennings admitted that he had assaulted his wife. “I lost my cool, and I hit her,” he said. “My wife had taken all the bonds, the Rolexes, the diamonds and the gold.”

And he would subsequently be convicted for some kind of child porn or child sex offense, and is now Federal Inmate number 57403-018, who’ll get out in 2020-something, if he lives that long. That is some of the ugly backstory to this ugly gun.

It’s fair to say that this unlovely and unloved firearm is not going to evolve into a swan. That only happens in fairy tales, kids. But it does fill a market niche, and

Here’s To the One-Hitch SF Guys

The Special Forces Memorial Statue -- Bronze Bruce -- memorializes our sacrifices in war and peace, and has done so since the 1970s. Image: SFC Jason Baker, US Army SF Command, 2010.

The Special Forces Memorial Statue — Bronze Bruce — memorializes our sacrifices in war and peace, and has done so since the 1970s. Image: SFC Jason Baker, US Army SF Command, 2010.

When originally conceived, Special Forces was not for beginners, and you couldn’t expect to just join up off the street. In the 1950s, most of the members were career NCOs, especially from the Airborne Infantry, then the Army’s corps d’elite; many were Lodge Act immigrants, prized for their language skills; and a few were young bucks whose potential had caught the eye of one or more of the grizzled World War II and Korean War vet sergeants. You always had to be a triple volunteer: for the Army, for Airborne, and for SF.

Not many of those Originals are left. We can think of only one guy we know from the original manifest who’s still looking at the grass from the blade end, although there’s certainly a few others that we’re not in touch with. But from the very first, Special Forces had a guerrilla mindset (as well as a guerrilla warfare mission) and called for the knowledge and maturity of long-service soldiers. On the enlisted side, it was a specialty for career men. (In those days, tours in SF would usually be interleaved with tours in infantry, or even recruiting or drill-sergeant duty).

The officer side was a little different, because Special Forces was deeply mistrusted by most of Big Green, and a promising career officer might well poison that career by putting on the unofficial Green Beret — or even the post-1961 official one. SF tended to collect free-thinkers and eccentrics, ranging from men with Lawrence of Arabia potential to men with Lawrence of Arabia narcissism (the movie didn’t help). This was good and bad at once.

SF Recruiting Poster pick it upOver the years, it also developed that SF had some great assignments that were in high demand and one assignment that was proportionally much smaller than Big Green’s commitment to the area — Korea. This is significant because Korea, which has been expected to break out in war at any time since 1953, was an unaccompanied tour, often shunned by married or family men — if they could. As an Infantry officer, there was only one way out of orders to Korea in the 70s or 80s — volunteer for SF. (In the early part of that period, the separate SF Officers’ Course was less demanding. Starting about 1981-82, the difficulty for officers rose to equal and later to exceed the challenges facing the NCO students). A guy who went SF to stay out of the Land of the Morning Calm was probably not going to impress us, and there was high attrition among characters like that.

But for all the career guys who came in and did one tour after another, whether they were Managing a Career like some, or just having the time of their lives and unwilling to stop, teams were filled out with junior commo, weapons, engineers and medics who were in for one tour and out. As it was, it was rare to have a “12-man ODA” of more than nine men. This was, in a way, deliberate; we’d rather hold the standards and roll shorthanded than lower the bar to meet the applicants. It often meant a very junior junior had to step up into a senior commo, weapons, engineer or medic position.

Sometimes one-and-out was always their plan. Sometimes it was the many sickeners of Army culture that drove them out. Sometimes these guys had high-functioning wives that needed to live somewhere other than an Army town where shopping meant pawn shops, and entertainment, pole-dancing bars. They did one and out. And they did it honorably and they did it well.

Of our Light Weapons section only a few of us stayed in beyond that one tour. Most of the real memorable characters from SFQC were one and out. Guys went to college, to their family’s business, to other agencies, or they tried to please wives for whom the team was always the Other Woman.

But we’d never have been able to field 54 teams in a major exercise without those one-and-out SFers. They were as SF as any of us, we needed them, and by and large they performed and we missed them when they were gone.

But there’d be a new crop of young guys, who paradoxically got younger every year, and they kept the team young and kept us from losing track of the basics or overlooking any fundamentals. It was great having them, and we wish them all well in the rest of their lives.


Re: sickeners. Our observation was that everything that was bad about SF was something that it inherited from Big Army, and everything that was good about SF was SF-specific.

Our class was big, and Light Weapons was divided into two sections, one that met in the HALO Barn behind the closed-due-to-stabbings Yntema Club, and one met in Arms Room #4. So most of us only kept track of the guys in our own section.

The club, yclept the Enema Club by one and all (soldier humor is not subtle), was named for an SF hero — posthumous MOH — from Vietnam, Gordon Yntema, but SF men were well advised to steer clear when it was open. The crowd was more like a seething mob of violent minority privates from the support units of the 18th Airborne Corps, and the knife fights were officially out of hand when one of them killed a responding MP.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Saudi Royals

arab prince pitching wooRoyalty. The word is freighted with meaning: power, and dynasty. In Europe it has come to mean, in most royal houses, breeding, and refinement, and exquisite taste.

Oh, wait. We’re talking about Arab royalty, which is kind of the trailer trash of global bluebloodry.

A SAUDI Arabian princess reportedly made a painter and decorator kiss her feet inside a palatial Paris flat before telling a bodyguard: ‘You have to kill this dog, he doesn’t deserve to live.’

In the latest alleged example of royalty from the Gulf kingdom abusing overseas staff in France, the unnamed multi-millionaire is said to have attacked the worker in the French capital earlier this summer.

The bizarre incident happened inside a luxury flat in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe

He had arrived at the property in Avenue Foch, a hugely prestigious road that runs off the Arc de Triomphe, to carry out some basic decorating.

But when the Princess saw the workman taking photographs on his smart phone camera – something decorators do routinely nowadays – she is said to have accused him of preparing to sell them to the media.

She allegedly then ordered her bodyguards to beat him up, tied his hands and feet together, and then made him kiss her feet.

This is all extremely weird, but then again, we are talking about the Saudi Royal Family, which comprises inter alie 7,000 princes. (We doubt they count the princesses. They’re females after all… being a female in Saudi Arabia, even if you’re royal, is a bit like being a dog. A princess is just a well-tended dog.

So this one has not been well-tended, really: after all, she is a bit nippy.

Le Point, the French news outlet, reports the ‘You have to kill this dog, he doesn’t deserve to live’ allegation, saying it has been passed on the police.

The entire ordeal is said to have lasted for up to four hours, before the man was kicked out of the flat, and told to ‘never return’ to the area.

Later he asked for the equivalent of some £16,000 for work done, and for the return of his tools.

Ha. Peasant. You didn’t think they were going to pay you?

Le Point said he then made a report to the police, showing them bruises on his head, which he said were caused by the attack.

The dispute over the money may well hamper any future criminal enquiry, as will the privileged manner in which Saudi royalty is treated in France.

Not only is the country a massive market for French arms sales but some of the most prestigious real estate in the country is owned by Saudis.

Unlike French security guards, their protection staff are allowed to carry guns thanks to diplomatic agreements.

via Saudi princess ‘made decorator kiss her feet’ inside palatial Paris flat before allegedly telling bodyguard: ‘You have to kill this dog’ – The Sun.

We’re doubtful that she actually told the bodyguard to “kill this dog,” for one solid reason: the bodyguard didn’t kill the guy. You don’t get aead in the Saudi Bodyguard racket by disobeying your client.

Wise tradesmen are leery of nobility, celebrity, and snobility clients for a reason.

Two Views of Declining US-Russian Relations

Are the bear and the eagle at it again? (Image from teh sculptor's website).

Are the bear and the eagle at it again? (Image from the sculptor’s website).

There’s the Acela Corridor blob model, competently marshaled into a thumbsucker in the New York Times by Neil MacFarquhar. Referring to “the implosion of relations between the Kremlin and the West,” MacFarquhar hits some high points (very condensed here):

…the United States distanced itself from cooperation on Syria and suggested that Russia should be investigated for war crimes.

And that’s what caused the breach, because in the Times, it’s always America’s fault.

Putin instantly unplugged several nuclear accords…formulated a list of unattainable economic and legal demands… deployed sophisticated antiaircraft weapons to Syria … redeployed long-range ballistic missiles to Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad…

That would be Occupied Königsberg, in one way of thinking… one of many victims of ethnic cleansing over the years. The Serbs invented the term, but the practice is centuries old, and almost every Russian government back to Ivan the Terrible has tried their hand at it somewhere. (Right now, it’s coming back to the hapless Crimean Tatars, in fact).

… canceled a scheduled trip to Paris… weigh[ed] reopening military bases in Cuba and Vietnam dispatch[ed] 5,000 paratroopers to participate in military maneuvers in Egypt

Canc’d the trip to Paris. Quel horreur! And Egypt, well, let us put one reminder in your head: formal US foreign policy been hostile to the al-Sissi military government, and openly agitated for the returned of the elected Moslem Brotherhood anti-american regime. (That doesn’t mean Islamists can’t chum up to Putin, too, as Erdogan is doing — one of the Russian advances MacFarquhar missed, or perhaps cut to fit space). Then there’s the nuclear saber-rattling.

…40 million Russians, 200,000 rescue workers and 50,000 specialized vehicles took part in civil defense exercises. The Kremlin’s bellwether weekly news program also repeated its stark reminder, first rolled out two years ago, that Russia retained the ability to turn the United States into radioactive dust.

Well, they wouldn’t if we’d built the missile defenses that were canceled in 2009. Canceled, we might add, in part in trade for the demilitarization of Occupied Königsberg. Turns out another administration policy triumph came with an expiration date.

MacFarquhar suggests that none of this is what it appears to be, and instead it is a political game, aimed in part at US electoral politics, but mostly at Russian domestic consumption. He uses the classic Times “analysts say…” locution to turn the supposed report into a vehicle for his own opinon, which is that Vladimir Vladimirovich is….

…positioning himself to make maximum demands of the next American president and to pursue his perennial goal of getting other world leaders to treat him as an equal.

raising the stakes for the anticipated resumption of negotiations over Syria…[but, mostly] to distract attention from gaping holes in the federal budget and the painful, politically unpopular steps needed to close them.

President Putin poses for a portrait with President Obama.

President Putin poses for a portrait with President Obama.

And there’s the contrarian view, expressed by dependably contrarian John Schindler in The Observer, that he’s simply taking advantage of the long-running foreign-policy power vacuum in the United States, with a President who doesn’t understand much (and doesn’t care), a Secretary of State who is a cretinous stuffed-shirt out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

There is one certainty that even Yogi Berra could predict about an uncertain future: anything Putin does between now and the inauguration of the next president is guaranteed to be unresisted by a supine Washington. Quoth Schindler:

As I told you on Friday, the Kremlin’s deployment of Iskander missiles, what NATO calls SS-26s, into Kaliningrad is a direct challenge to the Atlantic Alliance, since it puts all of Poland and the Baltic republics into range for a sudden nuclear strike. An Iskander’s flight time from Kaliningrad to Warsaw is just two minutes, so NATO would functionally have no warning.

In military terms, this is a game-changer for the Baltic region. Politically, it’s deeply destabilizing too. It’s nothing less than a regional version of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with Moscow placing nuclear missiles close to the Western camp for strategic advantage. Why Putin would do this when Obama has just three months left in the White House is the key question—and answering it reveals disturbing truths. As I said on Friday:

This constitutes a direct challenge to Washington by Moscow—and by Vladimir Putin to Barack Obama, personally. The KGB officer in the Kremlin is seeking to get in one last, grand strategic humiliation for our president before he leaves office. And why not? Such reckless antics have worked well for the Russians so far, given Obama’s preference to avert eyes and hope for the best whenever Moscow misbehaves.

Vladimir Vladimirovich knows he has a doormat in DC right now. Who knows what he’ll have in January? Has DC done anything to make him think he faces a worthy opponent across his geopolitical chessboard?


Indeed, four days into Putin’s Cuban Missile Crisis on the Baltic Sea, our president remains invisible. There has been no public statement…. the lack of any public support or demonstrations of NATO solidarity by Washington right now is deeply troubling to our allies in Eastern Europe, most of whom had minimal confidence in Obama’s courage even before his latest no-show.

…Barack Obama seems to think that letting the Kremlin do whatever it wishes will bring peace and stability. Ukraine and Syria tragically demonstrate that Obama’s laissez-faire attitude towards Putin beings anything but peace, yet it seems highly unlikely that our president will grow a backbone with just three months left in office.

We are in a dangerous period between now and January 20, when the Russian bear feels—not unreasonably—that he can get away with whatever he wants, without consequence. That’s not true, of course. Privately, President Obama has expressed to our NATO allies facing Russia exactly where his “redlines” are vis-à-vis the Kremlin.

Our allies, however, scarcely believe Obama, and who can blame them?

And the key question is not whether, say, Poland and Lithuania believe President Obama’s statements, but whether Vladimir Vladimirovich does.

If he did, would the Iskanders be in Occupied Königsberg?

Join a Minority (Pistol) Group

join-a-minority-groupOK, so “It’s Over. And Glock Won,” as we posted a while back. But as we never really warmed up to the G17, we went back to a CZ.

Like we did when we filled out the first of many sheaves of volunteer paperwork, we Joined a Minority Group.

When you join a minority group, you can find yourself, well, not fitting in. You’re different. People look at you funny. You might be feared, shunned, even hated. You tend to band together with people like yourself.

There’s probably something about it in the Bible, or maybe the Book of Mormon (in the Book of John Moses?), that says that the bearers of the 1911 shall cleave to one another, and not suffer the bearers of the unclean European wondernine to pass among them; and the Pharisees of the K-Frame and Python listened not to the gospel of the autopistol, but gathered among themselves and called for the stoning of the autopistoleros, especially those whose frames were cast of polymer, which is unclean.

Well, there’s a certain sense to that. With your only six rounds gone, aren’t fist-sized stones the handiest Plan B?

The cultural Siberia to which the odd-brand pistol-packer exiles himself is not the whole problem, or even the largest part. More practically, changing pistols is a royal pain in the part where Glock operators occasionally puncture themselves. If the pistol were the be-all and end-all of your self-defense, that’d be one thing, but think of all the other parts of the self-defense handgun ecosystem:

  1. ammunition;
  2. spare magazines;
  3. sights (factory sights peak at “fair,” and some are horrible. And they are usually day-only. Take a look at what side of the clock defensive gun units happen on);
  4. holsters, and magazine carriers.

beretta_m9_kyle_defoorThen, there’s training. Some trainers will expect you to run what you brung and will work to make you better with it (here’s Kyle Defoor discussing training a Beretta-using entity). Other trainers will use a training class as a platform to disparage your selection (or worse, your agency’s or service’s selection, as if you, a gravel-agitating bullet-launch technician, could influence it), and promote their own 99% solution.

(But we do agree with Defoor’s aside — if you’re going to carry the Beretta, or any safety-equipped DA/SA auto, carry it hammer down on a loaded chamber, safety off. We also agree that even better than the 92F/M9 is the decocker-only 92G).

Fortunately, most trainers can teach you something that will make your shooting better. If you’re already really good, there are specific trainers that specialize in wringing the last 4% of potential out of any given platform. (So maybe it’s necessary to change trainer when you change gat).

It’s wonderful that those guys can make a living, but the fact is, you probably don’t need that kind of specific training. You might still seek those trainers out — because they’re probably pretty darn good, overall. (If you’re going to do heavy maintenance on your pistol, of course, you’re well advised to attend the factory or importer armorer course, if you can. But operation, many experienced trainers can help you with).

Some of those things often aren’t that big a change. If your old and new guns are in the same caliber, and the new gun will feed your old ammo, there’s one change you don’t have to make or consider. Your mag carriers often will take any other mag in the same caliber. And sights? You’ll be at the mercy of the aftermarket, and your pistol’s standard or not-so-much sight dovetails.

With all that out of the way, the real thing that’s a problem is a holster. These don’t interchange among pistols, much. (Unless they’re crappy holsters that “fit” many pistols because they don’t actually fit anything). So we went to the holster maker that skinned our Glock, Raven Concealment, only to find out our CZ was not on their supported list.


The P-01 didn’t really fit in the concealment holsters we had for the old CZ-75 Pre-B. It has a squared off “chin” with a light rail, and a larger trigger guard.

We heard that Black Storm Defense in Tennessee made a decent holster, so we went on line and ordered one each of their Signature and Pancake holsters for the P-01.

And waited.

And waited.

D’oh. This is what happens when you join a minority group, kids. We could get forty-eleven holsters for a Glock 17 within twenty miles of Hog Manor, nearly as many for a SIG, and even a few for an M9. CZ-75 P-01? Not so much.

Welcome to the minority group. But then, in the process of rounding up some stray tax paperwork in the pile of untended paper on the breakfast table, we discovered (along with a pile of unread magazines, a $355 rebate check from our health insurer, apparently for not having another myocardial infarction in the last twelve moths, and a box of hollow points) a holster we’d bought on a whim on eBay of all places, for the old CZ, months or maybe years ago.

And never taken out of the bag, because were were rockin’ the Glock when it came.


It was a very inexpensive, an “Anatolia” brand from the Turkish company Anatolia Hunting & Nature Sports, Leather Products Company, which is quite a mouthful in English, and must be a remarkable jawbreaker in its native Turkish. The holster seems well-made, it’s made of solid leather and appears to be hand-stitched. Will it hold up?

And… will the P-01 fit? It just might, because the holster’s a simple slide-in job, with a free muzzle. It might not care about the P-01’s prognathous jaw, and it looks like it’s shaped to take a protruding or squared-off trigger guard, and not just the rounded one of the Pre-B.

And it did fit.


And with delight, we started carrying the P-01, finally.

The next day, we got an email from Black Storm that our holsters had shipped. The wait wasn’t even that bad (three weeks from order to ship) but we’d gotten impatient. Now the Black Storms will have to play King of the Hill with this $15 Turkish special — which starts out at the top of the hill.

That, too, is life in a pistol minority group. The delights, as well as the sickeners, come in clusters.