Tracking Tease

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Weapons Man got a call from some friends who tried out a new Tracking Point smart rifle, and it lives up to the hype:

  • Best packaged gun any of them had ever seen. In the gunsmith’s experience, that’s out of thousands of new guns.
  • First shot, cold bore, no attempt to zero, 350 meters, IPSC sized metal silhouette: “ding!” They all laughed like maniacs. It does what the ads say.
  • By the day’s end, the least experienced long-range shooter, who’d never fired a round at over 200 meters, was hitting moving silhouettes at 850 yards.

A Precision Weapon with No Precision Targets

Friday, September 5th, 2014

In Normandy, American infantry units did not do a good job of overwatching from their own hedgerow as they attacked the next, Gen. DePuy explains:

You see, one of our training deficiencies was that almost all suppression was done by indirect fire weapons. Very little suppression was done by small arms. Occasionally, we would use our heavy machine guns. People thought first about mortars and artillery, then heavy machine guns, and finally, light machine guns. Really, they didn’t think much about using riflemen for suppression. They just thought of using riflemen for maneuvering and sharpshooting. The M-1 rifle was a precision weapon but there were no precision targets. This problem was not confined to the 90th Division. You have read SLAM Marshall and know that even in the 101st only 25 percent of the troopers fired.* And, we only had eight heavy machine guns in a battalion. So, it didn’t work very well. We didn’t do direct fire suppression very well in my outfit until the latter part of the war.

Defensive Gunplay

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Tom Givens of Range Master has had 64 students involved in defensive gunplay:

These were ordinary citizens, mostly white-collar and professionals, and only about seven percent “blue-collar” workers. The majority of our students are in sales, management, IT work, the medical field or other professional activity.

The majority of these incidents involved an armed robbery, which I believe is probably the most likely scenario for armed self-defense by private citizen. We’re talking about business stickups, parking lot robberies at gunpoint, carjackings and home invasions — all crimes likely to get you killed. The reason the bad guy uses a weapon is to create standoff and to terrorize the victim into compliance, before closing in to take the wallet, purse, car keys, etc.

The thug will, however, need to be close enough to his victim to communicate his desires and to easily close the distance and take the goods when the time comes. Thus the typical armed robbery occurs at anywhere from two or three steps, to roughly the length of a car — between the robber and his victim. That is, then, about three to seven yards typically, or say nine to 21? or so. This is the distance at which most of my students have had to use their guns.

I believe we should do the bulk of our training and practice at these “most likely” distances.

Only two of my students’ shootings occurred at contact distance. In one of those cases the physical contact was purely accidental. In the other case physical contact was intentional, but the victim missed a large number of cues before he was struck with a club.

At the other end of the spectrum we have had three students who have had to engage at 15, 17 and 22 yards. The other 92 percent of our student-involved incidents took place at a distance of 3 to 7 yards, with the majority occurring between 3 and 5 yards. The rule of thumb then is most civilian shootings occur within the length of a car.

Only about 10 percent of our student-involved incidents occurred in or around the home, while 90 percent occurred in places like convenience stores, parking lots and shopping malls. The majority of the incidents began as armed robberies or carjackings, with a few violent break-ins involved.

The success/failure tally among the incidents involving my students is 62 wins, zero losses and two forfeits. Every one of our students who were armed won their confrontation. Only three of those were injured, and those three recovered. To the best of my knowledge, two people have gone through training with us and subsequently were murdered in separate street robberies — but neither was armed. This is why we put a great deal of emphasis in our training on the necessity of routinely carrying your gun.

Based on this data, we believe the following are key skills the private citizen should concentrate on in their training:

  • Quick, safe, efficient presentation of the handgun from concealed carry.
  • Delivery of several well-placed shots at distances from 3 to 7 yards.
  • Keeping the gun running, including reloading and fixing malfunctions.
  • Two-handed firing. We train our students to use two hands if at all possible and most have done so in their fights.
  • Bring the gun to eye level. This is the fastest way to achieve accurate gun alignment. All but two of our students brought the gun to eye level, and as a result got good hits. Two had to shoot from below eye level due to unusual circumstances.
  • Some effort expended on the contact distance problem, including empty hand skills and weapon retention skills. However, these are secondary skills for the private citizen.
  • Some effort dedicated to longer shots in the 15- to 25-yard range.

One of the things we stress in our training is the likelihood of your needing a gun in self-defense is not a one in one million chance.

Fards

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Egyptians are buying homemade guns:

With the big guns out of reach, many Egyptians, particularly those in exceptionally poor communities where crime rates are often higher, tend to opt for cheaper weapons known as fards, hand-crafted handguns that shoot 16 [gauge] and 12 [gauge] shotgun cartridges. These are made locally by blacksmiths using scrap steel originating from discarded water pipes and vehicle spare parts.

Before the revolution, these improvised guns sold for LE300 to LE500. “These are regular blacksmiths, who are very skilled. They make the guns under the table for more money. A kilo of scrap metal worth LE3 can be made into these guns and sold for LE1000,” Ibrahim said.

Egyptian Shotgun Pistols or Fards

The rise in demand for weapons during and immediately after the uprising caused prices to shoot up significantly. Despite increased supply, however, increased demand has kept prices high. During the zenith of the security vacuum, however, prices of the locally made fard shot up to LE1000, while decent sawed-off shotguns sold for LE2000.

One LE (Egyptian pound or livre Egyptienne) is worth 14 cents now — and was worth more, 16 cents, a couple years ago, when “freedom” came to Egypt.

Operational Requirements for an Infantry Hand Weapon

Monday, September 1st, 2014

After World War II, the Operations Research Office at Johns Hopkins produced its Operational Requirements for an Infantry Hand Weapon, based on these key points:

1. The ranges at which the rifle is used most frequently in battle and the ranges within which the greater fraction of man targets can be seen on the battlefield do not exceed 300 yd

2. Within these important battle ranges, the marksmanship of even expert riflemen is satisfactory in meeting actual battle requirements only up to 100 yd; beyond 100 yd, marksmanship declines sharply, reaching low order at 300 yd.

3. To improve hit effectiveness at the ranges not covered satisfactorily in this sense by men using the M-1 (100 to 300 yd), the adoption of a pattern-dispersion principle in the hand weapon could partly compensate for human aiming errors and thereby significantly increase the hits at ranges up to 300 yd.

4. Current models of fully automatic hand weapons afford neither these desirable characteristics nor adequate alternatives. Such weapons are valueless from the standpoint of increasing the number of targets hit when aiming on separated man-size targets.

5. Certain of the costly high standards of accuracy observed in the manufacture of current rifles and ammunition can be relaxed without significant losses in over-all hit effectiveness.

6. To meet the actual operational requirements of a general purpose infantry hand weapon, many possibilities are open for designs which will give desirable dispersion patters (and accompanying increases in hit probability) at the ranges of interest. Of the possible salvo or volley automatic designs, the small caliber lightweight weaon with controlled dispersion characteristics appears to be a promising approach. (Low recoil of a small caliber weapon facilitates dispersion control.)

7. To create militarily acceptable wound damage at common battle ranges, missiles of smaller caliber than the present standard .30 cal can be used without loss in wounding effects and with substantial logistical and over-all military gains.

8. A very great increase in hit lethality can be effected by the addition of toxic agents in bullet missiles.

The original study notes that rifles are designed for aimed fire:

Earlier work done by the ORO on the defense of the individual in combat, and a preliminary study of the offensive capabilities of the rifle, yielded definite indications that rifle fire and its effects were deficient in some important military respects, and that further study of the problem would be necessary fully to establish the facts. In these former studies it was found that, in combat, hits from bullets are incurred by the body at random: regional distribution of bullet hits was the same as for fragment missiles which, unlike the bullet, are not “aimed.” Further, it was found that exposure was the chief factor responsible for the distribution of hits from bullets and that aimed or directed fire does not influence the manner in which hits are sustained. Stated briefly, the comparison of hits from bullets with those from fragments showed that the rifle bullet is not actually better directed towards vulnerable parts of the body.

The discover of these facts, along with evidence of prodigious rifle ammunition expenditure per hit, strongly suggested the need to extend the study of the rifle problem. The facts known at this point also prompted one to regard with some dubiety the employment of the present, highly accurate, precision-made rifle as a general purpose infantry weapon.

With that in mind, it’s surprising that our military didn’t look into better sights earlier.

The study came out strongly against automatic rifles:

To answer these questions, tests were arranged at Fort Benning, Georgia, in which both expert riflemen and marksmen used current models of full automatic rifles. Type E silhouette targets were mounted in front of six by six-ft target screens. The first firing serial was at 100 yd using controlled bursts of five rounds each. Never did more than one round hit the target or screen from any of the short bursts, and consequently no information could be obtained at 100 yd on the nature of the dispersion patter. To obtain more than one strike on the six by six-ft screen, the range had to closed to 50 yd. At this short range it was noted that the man-silhouette target in front of the screen was not hit more than once from any burst. Since single round firing with the M-1 rifle at 50 yr yields a probability of hit of near unity, the effectiveness of automatic fire at such short ranges was of no interest.

This aside about training caught my attention:

An examination of the current basic training program shows that 76 hours are allowed for marksmanship training with the rifle, of which only 48 hours are involved in “wet” exercises, that is, actual range firing of the weapon.

In the 48 hours of training, each man fires at least 400 rounds, which indicates roughly the total amount of time spent in the actual employment of the rifle.

Shooting 400 rounds takes nowhere near 48 hours, even if you’re chatting with shooting buddies and walking back and forth pasting targets.

That said, a half-hour of dry-fire per day plus a half-hour of live-fire per week, for 22 weeks, would add up to 77 hours and would constitute a good start for a hobbyist shooter.

Myths of European Gun Laws

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Gary Mausera and Darrin Weiner debunked two myths about European gun laws in their study “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide: A Review of International Evidence,” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol 30 (2007):

First, that European gun laws are much more restrictive than American; and second, that Europe has less violence than America.

Now it is true that European gun laws are often different from ours. This is largely because they aim to stem political violence, not apolitical gun crime. But they are not generally more restrictive. [...] Moreover European gun laws generally allow far more extensive gun use against crime than American law does.

[...]

In the 1920s a German farmer was tried for shooting starving children who were stealing from his orchard. Now under our law, which is based on what is deemed reasonable, the farmer was clearly guilty. But he was exonerated by the German court because European law follows the thought of Immanuel Kant: There is the Right and there is the Wrong — and never need the Right yield to the Wrong! The farmer is in the Right and the starving children are in the Wrong. So if the only way to stop their thefts is to shoot them, then shoot them he may.

A later German statute overturned this – but in a way that reinforces it. The statute only overrules the case if children are shot. But the farmer may shoot if an adult steals his fruit.

[...]

A rapist attacks a woman but retreats when she draws a gun from her purse. The woman, frightened and outraged, shoots him anyway. Under our law this is called “imperfect self-defense.” It is manslaughter (not murder) if the rapist dies; assault with a deadly weapon if he does not.

But under Austrian, Dutch, French, German and Italian law the result is entirely different. If she shot him from “outrage” (i.e., vigilantism) at his attack the court can just acquit her.

As to buying and owning guns, European laws are generally as permissive as American. It is true that you need a special permit to buy a 9 mm. handgun in many European nations. What ignorant American gun prohibitionists don’t understand is that this is a special control on “military-caliber weapons.” Similar controls ban military caliber rifles without special permission. But there is no restriction on other rifles or on handguns in, for instance, .380, .38 Super, 9mm Ultra and many more powerful handguns e.g., any of the magnums or .40 S&W, .45 auto, .45 Long Colt, .454 Casull, .460 S&W Magnum, 475 Linebaugh, .480, .500 and other powerful handguns.

Unlike residents of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts or California, law abiding responsible Italians can buy any revolver or semi-auto they want. No permit is required nor is there any waiting period. Though the handgun must be registered, buying it involves less fuss and red tape than Americans face even in Texas.

Austrians require permits for semi-automatic pistols but not to buy a revolver. Moreover law abiding responsible adults have a specific legal right to a permit for a semi-automatic pistol for home defense. Permits to carry are much more available to law abiding Austrians than to Americans in New York, Massachusetts or California. For a population of over 37 million, California has about 40,000 carry permits. For its population of around seven million, Austria has over 200,000 carry permits.

In France and Germany permits (easily available to responsible adult householders) are required to possess a handgun of modern design. But if you are satisfied with a cowboy-style gun, France requires no permit at all to buy a newly manufactured revolver of pre-1895 design.

Consistent with its focus on political crime, European law precludes stockpiling guns. You might be able to own multiple guns in different calibers, but not 10 or 20 in the same caliber.

There are no magazine size restrictions on semi-autos.

Nine European nations have fewer than 5,000 guns per 100,000 population. Seven have more than three times as many guns per 100,000 population. The nine nations’ violent crime situation is disappointing, even shockingly contrary to the myth that restricting guns diminishes murder. Their murder rates are three times higher than those of the seven high gun ownership nations!

We collected many examples: Norway has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership (32% of households), but also its lowest murder rate. Holland has the lowest gun ownership in Western Europe (1.9%), and Sweden lies midway between (15.1). Yet the Dutch murder rate is half again higher than the Norwegian, and the Swedish rate is even higher yet, though only slightly. Greece has over twice the per capita gun ownership of the Czech Republic, yet gun murder is much lower in Greece and the Greek murder rate with all weapons is also lower. Though Spain has over 12 times more gun ownership than Poland, the latter has almost a third more gun murder, and its overall murder rate is almost twice Spain’s. Poor Finland: it has 14 times more of these evil guns than its neighbor Estonia. Yet Estonia’s gun murder and overall murder rates are about seven times higher than Finland’s.

TwistRate

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have decided that they simply cannot allow firearm projects to sully their mission, so now TwistRate aims to fill the gap:

TwistRate is Americans coming together online to build the innovations, dreams and causes of America’s veterans, service members, law enforcement, outdoor enthusiasts, fishing and hunting communities. We bring your ideas to life, giving you the tools to take your great ideas to others in your community so they can benefit from your ingenuity. TwistRate brings communities together to fund their own, build their own and make their own – all on their own.

TwistRate and you make the American Dream a reality by connecting the dreamers with the dollars.

My first thought is, TwistRate? You couldn’t think of a better firearms metaphor for getting something going?

Soldiers’ Kit from 1066 to 2014

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

The Telegraph has compiled photos of British soldiers’ kit from 1066 to 2014:

Soldier Kit 13

Soldier Kit 12

Soldier Kit 11

Soldier Kit 10

Soldier Kit 09

Soldier Kit 08

Soldier Kit 07

Soldier Kit 06

Soldier Kit 05

Soldier Kit 04

Soldier Kit 03

Soldier Kit 02

Soldier Kit 01

Terminating Interest in Leading a Riot

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Col. Jeff Cooper suggested a system that “would make sure, first, that a riot would stop; and second, that only the leaders would feel the weight of social disapproval.”

Of course, since this is Col. Jeff Cooper we’re talking about, his recommended system was a weapon system, a suppressed .22:

This weapon, properly sighted and equipped with a noise suppressor, may be used with surgical delicacy to neutralize mob leaders without risk to other members of the group, without noise and with scant danger of death to the subject. A low-velocity 22 bullet in the lung will not knock a man down, and in these days of modern antisepsis it will almost never kill him if he can get to a hospital in a reasonable time. It will, however, absolutely terminate his interest in leading a riot.

The Israelis took his advice.

Targamite TargaBot

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

The Targamite TargaBot looks like it has some potential:

The MSRP of $2,995 seems a bit steep though.

Watch what Jerry Miculek can do with a pair of ‘em:

Pro- or Anti-Gun Ad?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Apparently this is supposed to be an anti-gun ad:

As gun-nut Caleb says, “Seriously, that’s their commercial?”

The only difference between that and a commercial for self-defense is “if the mom had a gun.” Seriously, I’ve seen commercials by gun companies that looked exactly like that, except instead of cowering in fear, the mom pulls out a gun and smokes that fool.

[...]

It practically contains all the pro-gun talking points: home invasion, restraining orders not stopping a badguy, and how a badguy with a gun easily kills a defenseless woman.

Seriously, Everytown, thanks! You’ve made a great pro-gun video, and I’ll make sure to show this to people as an example of why they should absolutely be armed in the home. Good job! You should probably fire the person whose idea this was, though.

To be fair, the goal of the ad is to support legislation that will keep domestic abusers from getting guns.

Electric Knives

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Young men want to test their courage, but most good tests of physical courage are also great ways to get killed — or at least injured.

If you modify a dangerous sport to make it safe, it’s no longer a good test of courage.

Some hobbies successfully ride the edge between too-dangerous and not-scary — most forms of grappling are mildly dangerous and, in competition or when you’re new, fairly scary — but other martial arts have lost their edge — literally.

Fighting with foils or rubber knives isn’t scary. Fighting with more substantial weapons can lead to broken bones.

Burton “Lucky Dog” Richards has done his share of fighting with rubber knives and wooden sticks, and here he talks about the benefits of using a Shocknife in training:

The downside is that a Shocknife costs $500.

But you can make your own from a cheap electric fly-swatter:

  1. Make sure any residual charge is bled off by tapping the racket into something metal and grounded, making sure that both mesh sides touch. Remove batteries. Unscrew the housing.
  2. Pry apart the plastic “racket” portion and snip off the leads to the three attached wires, or simply cut them as long as possible. Discard racket.
  3. Since this is supposed to simulate a knife, the leads will need to attach to something of a similar shape. The template should also be non-conductive. I found a piece of wood to be the best option, since it was easy to adjust to the desired shape. Take the overall length of the weapon into mind- how long does the training weapon need to be? With the body at 8 inches, I cut the wood template to a little under 3 inches.
  4. [...]

“Please don’t be stupid with this thing.”

Making Cannons with Lasers

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Alexander Sarnowski designs fully functional mini cannons that are then manufactured with CNC metal machining and laser wood cutting:

For as long as he can remember, Alexander has been building everything from his own morse code machines to home made rocket motors. For his 16th birthday his father bought him a mid-sized lathe, and since then he’s been designing and cranking out parts every chance he gets.

[...]

Alexander knew his way around a lathe, so the barrels wouldn’t be a problem. The wood carriages however, would have been impossible to make by hand at the scale he wanted. That’s where Ponoko came in:

“My roommate had ordered laser cut parts from Ponoko for one of his robotics projects, so I asked him if Ponoko also cut wood. I had plenty of CAD experience, so discovering Ponoko was the last piece to the puzzle.”

Once he learned what was possible with Ponoko, designing the first prototype “only took me a few hours” he says, adding that “the time it took me to bolt it all together was only a few minutes, thanks to how accurately the laser cut parts were.”

Ajax Gun Shield

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Modern body armor that can stop a rifle round is heavy, which raises the question of which body parts should be armored. For now, most soldiers wear a helmet and a vest with a chest plate, because those targets are vital — and because the head is often exposed, and the torso is the easiest place to carry a heavy load.

Another option is to use some kind of gun shield.

Ajax Gun Shield

The Ajax gun shield attaches to now-standard side rails:

The Ajax consists of two spring-loaded frames extending on each side of the weapon, each holding one of the bulletproof side plates available for the U.S. Interceptor protective best. Each side plate weighs 1.6 kg (3.6 pounds) and is able to stop multiple hits by heavy (7.62mm) rifle bullets. When a bullet hits one of the plates the spring system absorbs much of the impact and returns the plate to its normal position that protects the face and shoulders of the user. Thus with Ajax the soldier can be looking for targets with his head and shoulders exposed. Without Ajax and despite the Kevlar helmet (also able to stop 7.62mm bullets) the face and shoulders (protected by some Kevlar, not bullet proof plates) left the soldiers exposed and likely to get hit if the enemy put out a heavy enough barrage of bullets. The face was also exposed to grenade and shell fragments. Ajax eliminates most of that vulnerability. Even most of the hands and arms that are still exposed now have some protection.

Ajax is meant mainly for troops on the defense (like guarding a base) or those on vehicles or boats. Troops manning light machine-guns or sniper rifles are particularly vulnerable because they generate the most effective firepower but can only do that it they show themselves so they can see targets and fire at them. Ajax is not really meant for troops out on foot patrols troops, because these soldiers tend to not carry the side plates. Being more mobile is a lifesaver and the side plates are but one of many items often left behind in order to reduce the load carried by the foot soldier.

An Outstanding Weapon

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The RPG is a really, really outstanding weapon, Weapons Man says, and it fits in a sweet spot of direct-fire AT and AP support weaponry that’s really missing in the US infantry squad:

Instead, we have more riflemen, and additional-duty weapons like the AT-4. The RPG is cheaper and reusable, and it has a range advantage over most US disposable non-guided weapons. Its effective anti-tank range is about double that of the AT-4, and the disposable AT-4 costs $1,500 a round.

The evolutionary history of the RPG is fascinating. The Soviets began by copying a weapon they’d felt the sharp end of: the German Panzerfaust. There were many versions of this disposable AT weapon available, and by war’s end the Germans were evolving this weapon in the direction of a reusable tube. It was the Panzerfaust that originated the grenade-launch boost and rocket sustainer operating system, and the weapon evolved rapidly under the pressures of mechanized warfare. Early Panzerfäuste had a mere 30 meter range, demanding bravery, or recklessness, from a rifleman under the pressure of hordes of T-34s or Shermans. And the warheads were marginal, at least on the well-protected T-34. By 1945 most of the initial weaknesses had been allayed by the intense development taking place behind the lines, and the industrial and R&D plant fell into Russian hands.

Unlike the USA, where captured German scientists and engineers came to be trusted, with many staying on as employees and seeking American citizenship, the Soviets, who suffered terribly at German hands, never trusted the Germans and held them in rigid captivity. As quickly as possible, they transitioned German projects, including rockets, guided AA missiles, and turbine engines as well as AT weapons, to Soviet design bureaux and shut the Germans out, generally releasing them back in the USSR’s occupied zone of Germany.

The Soviet engineers proved to be quick and imaginative. They continued to improve the Panzerfaust operating system. It is generally believed that a Soviet-produced version of the late-war Panzerfaust 250 was given limited issue as the Ruchnoy Protitankovniy Granatomet or RPG-1. A Soviet-improved version was widely issued as the RPG-2 in the later 1940s, as part of the systematic re-equipment of the Soviet Army that also saw new rifles, machine guns, and soon, tanks in service.

The limits of the RPG-2 led to the larger, heavier, more solid, and tactically longer-ranged and more accurate RPG-7 in 1961, and the versatility of the RPG-7 has kept it on the world’s front lines to this day. While most of the world knows about the remarkable longevity of the Kalashnikov rifle, its AT counterpart is just as ubiquitous, and won’t be going away any time soon. (In fact, a US firm makes a modified version for Foreign Military Sales).