Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Of Primary Importance Here In Virginia

Spent a busy hour yesterday a.m. getting the voting precinct ready for action. By my watch we opened one minute late, but who's counting? Normally I place myself at the head of the line but this morning I fell in behind about a dozen folks waiting. That was more than usual for a primary, but not as many as I thought there would be.

I marked "Mitt Romney," in case you're wondering. Why? Because I have the luxury of knowing what the outcome will be, and I wanted to stage a little protest. I was not a die-hard Mitt fan, but I considered him the best of the viable choices, and I wish he had stuck it out. My thoughts on The Arizona Maverick can best be summed up as follows: My admiration for McCain the fighting man borders on awe; but my disdain for McCain the politician is just as deep. He has made too many deals with vile people, and bitten the hands that fed, or would now be feeding, him.

However, I have to agree with Our Favorite Beefy Afrikaner. Frau Klinton and Mr B. Hussein Obama must be defeated. So, you can lead me to the polls and make me vote. You just can't make me like it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It Keeps Calling My Name, But I'm Going To Resist

For now, at least.

Here's the reason why: after much thought, I've come to conclusion that the M1 Carbine is a great little piece and would be the perfect truck gun-- or house gun, or whatever gun-- if you had one already, or could pick one up for a hundred or two hundred bucks. Then you could, with very little effort, slap a rail and a good sling on it and you'd have not only a piece of history but a fine functional gun as well.

Since I can't get one for a couple hundred bucks, and I don't have one already, I realized that buying one now would be to take a step backwards so that I could take a step forwards. That would be great if I had a yen for a particular gun and the money to put toward it, or indeed if I already had one. Again, I don't have either.

So, instead, I'm going to take a step forward by sticking to my original plan for the next gun: an AK-clone, preferably the WASR-10. Rough and unrefined, but cheap and effective. Plus, it's a system I need to learn. I have my sights set on taking ownership on 15 April-- National Buy-A-Gun Day.

BTW... also on the gun topic, check out the video CT found. Outstanding!

Monday, January 21, 2008

That M1 Carbine Keeps Calling My Name

I took Son & Heir in to Loudoun Guns the other day to soak in the atmosphere, when I spied with own covetous eye an M1 carbine, made by Inland. It called out to me, so I had to pick it up.

You know, I don't think I had ever really handled one before. I'll be damned if that wasn't a neat, light, handy little piece. Now I know why Farnam extolls its virtues as a solid "100-meter" truck gun, when paired with the new CorBon loadings.

Two other aspects appeal to me. The first is that it's a military antique, and so even though it's a magazine-fed military semi-auto, it doesn't suffer from the stigma attached to "black rifles" and AK clones. Nor would it be subject to bans and confiscations.

The second is that it's set up for the proper tactical carry, with port-side sling mountings. I would guess that just about any modern M4-sized two- or three-point sling would fit it.


The price tag on this one was $850, which squares with others on

Just the other day in a conversation with another Marine gunman, I said that I'd only get an original (i.e. WWII) M1, but wouldn't want to pay more than about $400 for it. Might have to reconsider.

The Tap Runneth Dry On Hop Pocket Ale :-(

A gross shock awaited me at Old Dominion Brewery this weekend, where I went to fill the growler with Tuppers Hop Pocket Ale.

"We poured the last glass of that last Sunday."

"When are you getting more in??"

"We're not, at least not for a while. We're not making it any more."

Hellfire and damnation. That's like Remington saying, "We're not making .308 anymore." Both are commodities I try to acquire and consume in decent quantities.

According to the folks at ODB some issues with the owner of the recipe caused them both to turn off the taps. (It seems that Hop Pocket Lager is still being made, although it's not the same.)

I sent a plaintive note to Mr Tupper, who very kindly replied that he's hoping someone else will pick up the recipe and it'll be back in production soon, although he pointed out that the global hop shortage wasn't helping matters.

I replied that I was content to wait, hopefully, until a solution could be reached. I'll just have to make-do with second tier choices as, like the Loudoun County motto cryptically reads, "I Byde My Time."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Recommended Products and Services Across The Fruited Plain

For my vast national and international audience:

Airtran: Cheap and on-time. I have flown with them exclusively to and from drill for all of this year (and part of the last). They are on-time pretty much as SOP, and early departures aren't unknown. They board and deplane quickly and efficiently, too, which can't be said for other airlines. Online gun shopping. Need we say more?

Smith & Wesson: Although I've by no means put my M&P-15T through an exhaustive test, so far I'm fine with it. It could use a few minor product improvements, but I think the company has hit on a good thing. And their customer service seems to be right on the mark.

Cabela's Ammunition Sales: Online ammo shopping! Delivered right to your doorstep. Ain't this a great country?

Recommended Products and Services in Northern VA

As the year draws to a close, let me highlight some of the good people and quality gear I've run across here in Northern Virginia. (Another, more national post will follow.)

White Hat Chimney Sweep: Call Jay at 703.761.4333. He has more than taken care of us for a couple years now, since I installed the wood-burning insert.

Loudoun Guns: Good old local manly gunstore. If they ain't got it, they'll get it.

Blue Ridge Arsenal: Good old local indoor range. If it wasn't there, I don't know where I'd be shooting.

FPF Training: John Murphy's high-speed one-man-band operation. His courses would be a bargain at twice the price. Highly recommended.

Old Dominion Brewery: Directions are on the website, but the only sign to the place is on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, at about milepost 25.5. Great beer, good chow.

Partlow's BBQ: Outstanding barbecue joint, right on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, at milepost 27.5. Make it a day and hit ODB and then Partlow's. And then ODB again.

Healthy Kids Pediatric Center: Dr Davis, our pediatrician. If I had three hands I'd give her three thumbs up.

Blood On The Hunting Knife!

I went out to some private land this past saturday afternoon, as the guest of someone who is a member of the club that leases the hunting rights there. It's near Warrenton, VA. I didn't see a thing, deer-wise, but my hunting buddy, Steve O. (VMI '87) nailed a doe with his 7mm Magnum. I asked him if I could do the gutting, since I'd never done it before and needed to know how. Plus, I really wanted to share in the success.

So, the hunting knife which had been bloodless since 2000 saw its first action. I did OK, I must say. I'm not sure I scored over a C-, but I felt good about it. We'll have the meat in about three weeks.

Other items of note from that day: Despite seeing no deer, I did have a delightful afternoon. About 200-300 meters from my stand was a large beaver pond, and from it flew the largest flock (skein?) of ducks I have ever seen. Normally I see them around here in pairs and threes, and if I see ten or tweleve I think that's a lot. Here, there were at least 60, probably more. What a sight. And a good education too-- I got to hear all of the calls and sounds they make, the quacks and the chuckles. Good stuff.

And it made me think again how important it is to conserve the existing wild lands even in suburban and semi-suburban counties. No wild lands, no wild life-- no beavers, no beaver ponds; no ponds, no ducks. Hunters are the best conservationists around. We need to be more vocal.

(And I *will* be getting one of these.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Anti-Gun Stupidity in Colorado?

OK, here's another item I saw while in Colorado Spring this past week-- "More Firepower For Security Guards?"

"...Next week, the City Council will decide whether to change an ordinance limiting guards to revolvers, and let them use semiautomatic weapons. Law-enforcement officers already carry semiautomatic weapons like the .40-caliber handgun, the 9-mm handgun or the AR-15 9-mm assault rifle."

The article is rife with idiocies, but none more stupid than the essential point, that the Colorado Sprimgs City Council sets arbitrary limits on what arms a security guard can carry. Like every gun control ordinance, this one is not rooted in common sense. If you are asking a guard to place himself (or herself!) in a position where he might have to employ deadly force, then shouldn't he be allowed to choose the weapon that he is most comfortable with?

Note that the article asserts that one is "outgunned" if armed only with a revolver. I don't think so; a .38 or a .357 is a very effective weapon, especially at the conversational distances that characterize most gunfights, and they probably have an edge over semi-automatics at longer ranges. They do require learning and mastering a different set of gunhandling skills, but that's a training issue, not a suitability issue. Remember that volume of fire does not constitute firepower; effective hits constitute firepower. I can't remember who said that-- it may have been Jeff Cooper himself-- but the truth of the matter remains.

The problem here is not that the city council says that you can only use revolvers, but that the city council places any limits at all on the choice of armament. If a security guard carries a .38 Special revolver and an M1 Carbine, but can make these guns perform up to their capabilities, then he's certainly not outgunned. But let him make the choice. It's his life at stake.

Anti-Hunting Stupidity in Colorado?

Just got back from a week spent in Colorado Springs. Work, not pleasure, but I was able to hoist a few at a great brewpub downtown, Phantom Canyon. I can also recommend the Antlers Hilton, but not its attached brewpub, where the beer was a-w-f-u-l. The chow was ok but the beers were flat and tasteless, so much so that the waitress asked how I liked them and wasn't surprised when I said I didn't. Anyway, Phantom Canyon is right across the street from the Antlers, and has everything you want.

While there I took in some of the local news, which included of course the church shootings. Also dismaying, in its own way, was this-- "Elk To Be Shot In RMNP." Note that the headline reads, "to be shot," not "RMNP to open for limited hunting season." What this means is that the National Park Service will pay "sharpshooters" to cull the herd, because the current elk herd there is more than the land can support.

I say there's a better way to do it. Instead of paying people to come and cull the herd-- Capstick once wrote that culling was a "dismal business"-- why don't they get Congress to change the law, and then issue permits and tags by lottery to the TENS OF THOUSANDS OF HUNTERS WHO WILL PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF HUNTING THERE. Right now, nonresident Colorado bull and cow elk tags go for $501 and $251 respectively. If we allow for, say, a five-to-one ratio in the number of permits and tags issued versus the number of animals actually taken, RMNP could put a big dent in the elk herd and raise a large sum each year. All of that money could go directly to that park, to improve and preserve the habitat. There would also be, as there is anywhere else big-game hunting is practiced, a substantial boost to the local economy.

The article says also that some of the meat will go to Indian tribes. To hell with that. The last thing those people need is more handouts. If the NPS won't open the park up to hunters nationwide, let them open it up to hunting parties from the Indian tribes. Now that would be something to see.

But I tend to think that the powers-that-be in the NPS won't want to hear any of it. I think that organization is riddled with anti-hunters and is one of the biggest obstacles to real wildlife conservation in the US today. This is all despite the facts in front of their faces. Sad but true, and I bet Teddy Roosevelt is spinning in his grave. Might have to write my Congressoids about this.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Steyr Scout

This post has been in the works for some time, spurred on recently by Countertop's mention of my rifle and Brother Rat BullNav's subsequent prodding.

I carry a Steyr Scout rifle in caliber .308 Winchester. (Yes, it's now properly the Mannlicher Scout but mine says STEYR.) It is an outstanding piece of gear, although one that is not as widely or well understood as it should be. This post is about how I came to own one, and why I think it's a damn good rifle.

A bit of history to get us started. I did not grow up shooting or hunting, so my real experience with firearms has been as an adult, and mostly in the military with open-sighted rifles. Thanks to the Marine Corps I had a good grasp of the fundamentals of marksmanship (although my scores didn't always show it), and the added benefit of no pre-conceived notions of what a basic 30-caliber rifle should be. Until I got the Scout, for example, I had not ever shot a weapon with a telescopic sight. Thus when I found myself looking for a 30-caliber rifle I was free to examine the options and give it some real thought.

When I began to peruse LtCol Jeff Cooper's Commentaries in 97 and 98-- looking for something specific on the M1 Garand-- I came across references to the "scout concept" and later the Steyr Scout itself. The discussions interested me, and I began to examine the concept more and more closely. What Cooper was driving at was the design and production of an idealized general purpose rifle, a weapon that combined several specific features into the proverbial better mousetrap. Such a weapon did not exist, except as a custom piece made at great expense and effort.

A rifle is an instrument, the purpose of which is to allow the shooter to be able to effect a decision at a given distance. Given that basic premise, and discounting the needs of specialized arms-- for biathlon, big game, or whatever-- what sort of rifle does that best for the practical range of potential targets? Better still, what features should the rifle have that will enable the shooter to achieve a first round decisive hit, on an appropriate target, under field conditions?

Cooper worked out the answers. His own experience coupled with a culling of various sources led him to conclude that the features of this idealized general purpose rifle could be boiled down to "handiness" coupled with enough power to knock down a target up to about 800 pounds. He wanted it to have the shortness and lightness of the old Winchester lever action, but with a more powerful 30-caliber round, since that sort of cartridge had proven itself across the 20th Century. And he wanted a short list of other features that could otherwise only be had by custom work, and which would enhance its utility for the single man operating alone. And that is what he got in the Steyr Scout. (See this site for a more detailed history.)

And that is what I like about the Scout rifle. I like the whole thing, not just its litany of interesting features. It really is a package wherein the whole far outweighs the sum of the parts. It's a rifle that's made to be taken afield and shot under field conditions. Carry it slung or at the ready, shoot it from various positions, engage targets from 25 meters out 300 (or beyond, depending on your skill), and then you'll begin to appreciate how handy and shootable it is. It mounts beautifully, and the longer eye relief of the scout scope allows you to track the target with your non-dominant eye in a manner not possible with the conventional scope. Every aspect of this rifle is geared toward the practical, to making this as useful an instrument as possible.

A few things pop out instantly about the Scout rifle. The first is that it's odd-looking. Yes, it is. So what? It's not built for looks. Next, that it's not a bench-rest rifle, although it's plenty accurate. If all you do is shoot it off the bench, you'll just end up saying, "What's the big deal?" People also notice how light and short it is, and wonder if that doesn't affect the accuracy. I assure you it does not. For practical accuracy under field conditions, you want to be able to place shot after shot into about a 6-inch circle out 300 meters, without any holdover. This is what the Scout will do, if you're up to the task. If you can shoot better than that, so can it. (Go here for more observations from Father Frog.)

I have seen and heard some objections to the price, which is around two thousand dollars. You get what you pay for, and a rifle is not necessarily something to go cheap on. At any rate, think of what you might dish out for, say, a Ruger M77 Frontier. Add in the scope and mounts, and the sling and swivels, and a set of ghost ring sights (installed by a competent gunsmith no less), and a modified magazine well, now you're in for way over a thousand bucks and you still don't have a real scout rifle. (Sorry, Ruger, we applaud your effort, but you missed the mark.) Nope, might as well spend the money on the real thing and be able to shoot it right out of the box.

In closing I'll say this: the best rating I can give the Steyr Scout rifle is that it rewards the shooter who knows how to shoot. That I can't always shoot up to its potential is my concern, but it has nothing to do with the rifle. It is ready and able to do whatever I need it to do. If you're interested in practical marksmanship, this is the rifle for you.

Scout Resources Online:

Mannlicher Scout at Steyr USA

Cooper's Commentaries (The rifle made its debut in Sept 97, but I suggest you Google "Steyr Scout" and follow every like that comes under Cooper's Commentaries. Many critical references to the project and buried throughout the issues, and it's fun to browse them anyway. I dare you not to learn something.)

Father Frog's Scout Rifle Pages (Indispensable)

Andy Langlois Rifle Leather (He made my Ching sling)

My report on the Gunsite General Rifle Course

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More On The SCOTUS/DC Gun Ban Case