Playing The Star-Spangled Banner with a Gun

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Do you hear that? It sounds like freedom!

New from TrackingPoint

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

TrackingPoint recently introduced the Shotglass:

The Shotglass can be used to aim and fire the weapon from complete concealment cover. It can record video. It’s most likely use in the real world, though, is as a way for the spotter to direct the sniper on target. We expect we will see more of these used with TrackingPoint’s long-range bolt action rifles than with its ARs, but time will tell.

Tracking Point Shotglass

The company now offers three ARs, including a .300 WinMag model:

Tracking Point AR in 300 WinMag

It’s Impossible to Build on Failure

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

It’s impossible to build on failure, Tony Robbins says:

You build only on success. I turned around the United States Army pistol shooting program. I made certain that the first time someone shot a pistol, instead of shooting the .45 caliber pistol from 50 feet away — which is what they were starting these guys out at — I brought the target literally five feet in front of the students. I wouldn’t let them fire the gun until they had rehearsed over and over again the exact perfect shooting form for two hours. By the time they held the gun, they had every technique perfected, so when they fired, they succeeded. BAM!

At first the Army thought it was stupid, but it put ignition into the students’ brain — “WOW! I’ve succeeded!” — versus shooting bullets into the ceiling or floor the first few times. It created an initial sense of certainty.

I believe in setting people up to win. Many instructors believe in setting them up to fail so they stay humble and they are more motivated. I disagree radically. There is a time for that but not in the beginning. People’s actions are very limited when they think they have limited potential. If you have limited belief, you are going to use limited potential, and you are going to take limited action.

Projected Recoilless Improvised Grenade

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The Projected Recoilless Improvised Grenade (PRIG) was a shoulder fired weapon developed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) for use against lightly armored vehicles:

The launcher consisted of a length of steel tube adapted to accept a charge of black powder in the middle by way of a capped off perforated pipe welded in place. The charge is wired to a simple circuit, often utilizing a light bulb holder as an arming switch and fired by a long arm micro-switch which serves as a trigger.

PRIG Diagram

The warhead itself consists of a standard food tin filled with 600g of Semtex, complete with a frontal explosive lens to create an armor piercing shaped charge. This round was designed to explode on impact, being an adaption of an earlier used improvised stick-grenade known as a ‘drogue bomb’ which was sometimes fitted with a trash bag to act as a guide parachute.

PRIG Round

To the rear of the launcher was placed the ‘counter-shot’, incorporated to utilize the recoilless principle (Reduced to as little as a .22lr rifle’s, according to some!). This consisted of two packets of digestive tea biscuits, wrapped in j-cloth.

PRIG Counter-Shot Digestive Biscuits

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

From 2004 to 2011, American troops repeatedly encountered chemical weapons remaining from earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule, C.J. Chivers reports:

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.

The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

Pig Carcass Wound Ballistics Lab

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Two (humanely killed) pig carcasses were shot with various weapons in order to take a look at the accompanying tissue damage:

Blunt injury to the base of the skull and chest with a pipe left insignificant visible damage. Although the skulls were not dissected, no obvious fractures or depression of the skulls were noted on external exam. Blunt impact to the chest wall did not result in any broken ribs. This may be a testament to the elasticity of the ribs in these relatively young animals. Conclusions: blunt trauma may indeed be an effective strategy through pain compliance (and may potentially be deadly force) but a large amount of force is required to cause significant tissue damage.

A single slash wound to the lateral chest wall with a small (~2.5 in) blade easily cut through the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle. A single stab wound to the abdomen with the same blade penetrated through skin, muscle, peritoneum, and nicked the large bowel. A Special Circumstances, Inc. custom push dagger effortlessly punched through skin, muscle and rib into the chest cavity. Conclusion: a small, fixed-blade edged weapon provides an ideal balance between concealable and effective.

There was essentially no discernible difference between the Federal HST .40 and 9mm wound channel. Both rounds penetrated through chest and pelvic cavities leaving small but ragged wound channels. Both penetrated through interceding bone leaving comminuted fractures (to include sturdy structures such as scapula and pelvis.) Neither round exited the opposite side of the carcass. The 9mm round that had gone through the chest cavity was found under the skin of the opposite shoulder and retrieved. The round appeared intact and had fully mushroomed. Conclusion: “9 is fine.” Users of a high quality 9mm round should not feel outgunned.

The Hornady TAP 5.56 rifle round penetrated deeply into the chest and pelvic cavities. There was a large permanent wound cavity of macerated tissue. Both ribs and pelvic bones were fractured. Tiny fragments of metal jacket were recovered from the wounds, but the rounds otherwise appeared to have completely fragmented prior to stopping. Neither round penetrated through the opposite side of the carcass, although tissue deficits on the opposite side could be palpated through the intact skin. Conclusion: rifle rounds create devastating wounds due to significantly higher velocities than handgun rounds. The TAP round performed as advertised, creating a large permanent wound channel with massive tissue damage, dumping all energy into the target without exiting the opposite side. Again of note: there were no interceding barriers such as clothing, glass, or drywall.

Shotgun wounds were delivered to the lower extremities at what I believe would be the equivalent of the human equivalent of the lower leg near the ankle. Both bird- and buckshot left large diameter soft tissue wounds, and penetrated to and fractured the underlying bone. However, the birdshot penetrated no further than the bone. All buckshot pellets penetrated through the bone, out the opposite side of the limb, and into the contralateral limb, again fracturing bone. Several of the pellets penetrated completely through the contralateral limb, with one moderately deformed buckshot pellet being recovered deep in the tissue. Conclusion: for defensive purposes, buckshot is the way to go. Indeed, birdshot at close range left a devastating wound channel and fractured the underlying bone, but that was all. A shot to center mass with birdshot, even at close range, could stop short prior to contact with any vital structures and fail to stop.

Longpoint

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The New York Times reports on Longpoint, the historical European martial arts (HEMA) tournament:

Unlike re-enactors or role players, who don theatrical costumes and medieval-style armor, Longpoint competitors treat swordfighting as an organized sport. Matches have complex rules and use a scoring system based on ancient dueling regulations. Fighters wear modern if sometimes improvised protective equipment, which looks like a hybrid of fencing gear and body armor. They use steel swords with unsharpened blades and blunt tips to prevent bouts from turning into death matches.

Skill and technique, rather than size and strength, decide the outcomes. Fights are fast and sometimes brutal: key to the art is landing a blow while preventing an opponent’s counterstroke. Nevertheless, even the best swordfighters earn large bruises in the ring, which they display with flinty pride.

Longpoint began in 2011 with 60 participants; now the largest HEMA event in North America, it drew about 200 this year. The open steel longsword division had 55 entrants, eight of them women.

The Popularity of the AR-15

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

What explains the popularity of the AR-15?

There’s a perception in the media that the AR-15 is some kind of weird outlier in gun culture. How many times have you heard since Sandy Hook that nobody needs an AR-15? Well it turns out everyone needs an AR-15; it’s the only gun anyone wants. Have you ever fired one?

No.

If I put one of those in your hands and you shot at a target you would be awestruck at how well you shot. It’s like a guitar that makes everyone play like Jerry Garcia. It was not a particularly popular gun until the assault rifle ban of 1994. The second thing that made it very popular after the ban was lifted in 2004 was the Iraq War and the war on terror. Everyone has seen these guns a million-billion times because it’s the gun our soldiers and marines use. So we are bathed in free advertising for the AR-15 with all the coverage of the wars. But also, it is enormously popular precisely because it’s just so cool. It shoots so well, it’s lightweight, it has a spring in the butt-stock so you don’t feel much recoil. It’s accurate and modular and it has all those great accessories. It’s just a fucking awesome consumer product. It’s the iPhone of guns. When gun guys hear all this talk, they just don’t get it. They’re like, “Are you kidding me? Everyone needs an AR-15!”

How the Left “Blew It” on Gun Control

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Baum may be a gun guy, but he’s also liberal. He explains — in Mother Joneshow the Left “blew it” on gun control:

You will hear people say gun owners are accessories to murder, and it’s just the wrong way to talk about people. I spent my whole life among liberal Democrats who are so achingly careful to say all the right, supportive things about Hispanics, immigrants, gays, transsexuals, and blacks, and they will say the most godawful things about gun owners, calling them “gun nuts” or “penis compensators.” The gun represents a worldview that we on the left do not share. The gun represents individualism over collectivism, American exceptionalism over internationalism. It’s a totem of the other tribe and we don’t like the other tribe. The tragedy is, we seem to think by attacking the totem we’re going to weaken the opposing tribe, but it’s just the opposite. Republicans love it when we do this sort of thing. It’s their best organizing tool. Gun owners are kind of a free-fire zone for lefties.

[...]

I personally have met very few gun owners who oppose background checks. But very few of them, even the ones that don’t want an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine, believe that limiting the amount of rounds in a magazine is going to contribute materially to public safety. What worries them is being told you are not to be trusted with these things, and that is really offensive because gun owners derive a tremendous amount of pride from being able to live alongside very dangerous things, use them effectively, and not hurt anyone. When a politician or a pundit who obviously has very little experience or no experience with guns, like Charles Schumer or Dianne Feinstein, says to your ordinary gun owner, “You cant be trusted with more than 10-round magazine,” it really strikes the wrong chord.

Letting Kids Shoot Guns Is Good for Them

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Marksmanship builds concentration, confidence, and trust, Dan Baum says, which is why letting kids shoot guns is good for them:

It’s a terrible time to say this, right after a 9-year-old girl killed her instructor with an Uzi, but shooting guns can be great for kids.

Of course, there’s shooting and there’s shooting. Handing a loaded submachine gun to a small child is patently crazy. Sadly, Charles Vacca, the instructor in Arizona, both paid for that mistake with his life and inflicted on the unnamed girl a life sentence of horror and regret. Lest anybody think that the gun-owning and gun-rights communities are defending Vacca’s judgment, rest assured that they’re not. I watch the gun blogosphere as part of my work, and even the most hard-core gunnies are appalled and infuriated.

What the shooting community worries about is that people will conflate this tragedy with proper marksmanship training for children. A lot happens in a good shooting class before a kid touches a gun. The first class often involves nothing but drilling on the rules of gun safety. When it comes time to shoot, that’s done prone, for stability, and the guns are long-barreled, single-shot .22s with minimal recoil. Kids are given one cartridge at a time, and any deviation from the rules — a muzzle moving in the wrong direction, a finger on the trigger too early — stops the whole class for more drilling. Compare that to an unschooled 9-year-old in standing position with a short-barreled, full-auto gun and a magazine holding 32 rounds of powerful, 9mm ammunition. It’s the difference between leading a child in circles on the back of a docile pony and sending her alone around a track on the back of a thoroughbred.

Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.

Other activities build skills and concentration, too — archery, calligraphy, photography, painting — but shooting guns is in a class by itself precisely for the reason highlighted by last week’s accident: it can be deadly.

A single-shot .22, while easier to control than an Uzi, can kill you just as dead. So how can such rifles possibly be appropriate for use by children? Again, context is everything. Under proper instruction, shooting is a ritual. You do this for this reason and that for that reason, and you never, ever alter the process, because doing so is a matter of life and death. Learning to slow down and go through such essential steps can be valuable developmentally. The very danger involved gets children’s attention, as it would anybody’s. But there’s an added benefit to teaching children to shoot: it’s a gesture of respect for a group that doesn’t often get any.

Invite a child to learn how to shoot and the message is: I trust your ability to listen and learn. I trust your ability to concentrate. I welcome you into a dangerous adult activity because you are sensible and trustworthy. For young people accustomed to being constrained, belittled, ignored and told “no,” hearing an adult call them to their higher selves can be enormously empowering. Children come away from properly conducted shooting lessons as different people, taller in their shoes and more willing to tune into what adults say.

While traveling around the country talking to gun owners, I met several who told me that when their teenage sons or daughters were going “off the rails” — drinking, experimenting with drugs and getting poor grades — they started taking them shooting. The very counterintuitive nature of the invitation — giving guns to druggies? — snapped the children into focus. The chance to do something as forbidden and grownup as shooting overcame their resistance to spending time with dad or mom. The discipline and focus that marksmanship required, combined with its potential lethality, not only brought these adolescents back from self-destructive habits but deepened the bonds of trust between them and their parents.

Again, it has to be done right. You don’t buy a girl a rifle and let her keep it in her room; you keep it locked up and let her use it only under supervision. You don’t let a boy new to shooting touch a gun until he’s been well schooled in the safety rules. You don’t ever let people shoot guns they can’t handle. But when done right, marksmanship training can be just what a young mind and spirit needs.

Raids

Friday, September 19th, 2014

This early 1970s Federal law enforcement training film, Raids, seems positively quaint:

I couldn’t help but notice a few tactical details. First, everyone keeps their finger on the trigger. They don’t seem comfortable drawing or handling their revolvers, either. I love the way the raid leader switches his revolver to his left hand so he can knock on the door with his right.

I wouldn’t want my cover team armed with revolvers, by the way, twenty yards back, sitting in a catcher’s squat behind the car, either.

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.