More Grasshopper Stories

Oh, great:

Ammo Shortage May Last Until 2021

As I read this story, I decided to do a little digging to see how bad the problem actually is.

Now I can understand that SHTF ammo (.223 Rem, 7.62x39mm Soviet, 7.62x51mm NATO etc.) and hunting ammo (.30-30, .30-06 etc.) might be in short supply.  And we all know about handgun ammo (9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Mag etc.) being scarce to non-existent.  But .22 Long Rifle?  Seriously?

And where it’s not out of stock, it’s running anywhere from 11 cents to 40 cents per round.  (19 cents for Remington Golden Bullet in the 525-pack?  I used to use this stuff as ballast.)

Here’s a sample of what’s (not) out there:

SGAmmoAmmo.comMidwayClassic FirearmsSportsman’s WarehouseJ&G Sales — (un)Lucky GunnerCheaperThanDirtBrownells* — and so on.  (Check AmmoSeek for a longer list.)

(I know, it’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s a big enough sample.)

This is the equivalent of all supermarkets being simultaneously out-of-stock on salt, sugar and bread, never mind toilet paper and bleach.

Just out of curiosity, I checked my “tote” bag, which contains my “everyday plinking” supply that follows me to the range whenever I take my .22 rifles or pistols.  I gave up counting at 5,000 rounds.  In Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer, of course… well, ’nuff said.  I think my lowest brand quantity is CCI Green Tag, and that’s at about two bricks.  I last shot Green Tag about two years ago.

It’s a funny thing.  I think one always felt a little silly when buying that 500-round brick of .22 online, and checking the “10” quantity (which used to be my standard practice, per brand).  Hell, I’d buy a brick just to see how it shot, or as a cheap Christmas present for my buddies.

No more.  What interests me is what will happen when ammo supplies “stabilize”.  Given the situation now, I’m not sure they ever will.


*By the way, I’ve heard good things about the SK brand now available at Brownells, but unfortunately they’re only offering it in the 5,000-round bulk pack — and at 13 cents a round, it’s still too expensive for a bulk purchase.  When / if the ammo supply situation ever returns to sanity, I’ll buy a couple boxes and test them.

About Time

The only question here is:  “What took them so long?”

Kimber Manufacturing is moving its corporate headquarters to Troy [AL] and will “aggressively hire” in all departments. The firearms manufacturer last week announced it is moving to a new facility it built last year on 80 acres with more than 225,000 square feet of space, with design engineering, product management and manufacturing space.
In an announcement, the company said Troy was chosen for, among several reasons, its proximity to engineering schools as well as pro-gun, pro-business support from the city of Troy and Alabama.

They’re going to find out how much cheaper and more congenial it is to do business in the South.

The company said it is seeking applicants across several categories, including CNC technicians, machinists, quality control specialists, lean technicians, design engineers, compliance analysts, customer service representatives, materials planners, maintenance technicians, finishing operators, and assembly technicians.

And I’m glad they’re going to hire locally as well — obviously a bunch of Noo Yokkers are going to make the move with them, but as they all work for a gun company, they can’t be too NYFC, can they?

Best part of this is that if you buy a Kimber from now on, that part of your money is no longer going to support the tax base of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York State.

Next up:  Henry Repeating Arms, in Bayonne, Noo Joizee.  It’s time this All-American company moved to America.

The Browning Conundrum

We all know that I’m a huge fan of the Browning P-35 High Power pistol (despite its piddly Europellet chambering) because to me, it is the absolute zenith of John Moses Browning’s engineering handgun design (albeit with a huge assist from Dieudonné Saive).   It is one of my favorite guns to shoot, and is much easier to disassemble (and reassemble) when it comes to after-action cleaning.

I also love my Browning 1885 High Wall rifle in .45-70 Govt:

That “bank-vault-closing” feel as you pull the lever back up and close the action after reloading:  not much feels and sounds much better in the firearms world.  And the satisfaction one feels when pulling the trigger to send a giant 405-gr bullet downrange… ah, my friends, if you haven’t experienced it, it would be like trying to explain the beauty of a desert sunset to a blind person.

And everyone knows of my love for Browning Auto-5 shotguns like the Sweet 16 or the Light 20:

And yet those are the only three Browning guns I’ve ever owned.

That’s not by design, by the way.  I’ve fired many Browning rifles and shotguns — all belonging to other people, either at the range or while hunting — but for some inexplicable reason, I’ve never felt compelled to own a Browning long gun or pistol in the way that I am drawn to, say, a Mauser 98 or WinMar lever rifle.

It’s inexplicable, really;  there is no reason for me to turn my nose up at, say a Browning lever rifle (BLR), especially when chambered for a manly cartridge like the .308 Win:

…especially when the BLR’s stacked mag allows for spitzer-tipped bullets while the WinMar’s tube mags do not.  Would I feel in any way disadvantaged with the BLR out in the field?  Hell, no;  and yet for some reason, I’m drawn more to the Henry/Winchester/Marlin offerings than to the BLR.

That also goes for Browning’s bolt-action rifles.

Combat Controller uses one of these, an X-Bolt chambered in -300 Win Mag, for his Scotland hunts with Mr. Free Market, has never had a problem with it, and his deer tally over the years would certainly give one no reason not to use one (especially in those difficult conditions).  Yet I’ve never owned one, nor come close to getting one;  and the same is true for the excellent semi-auto BAR / Safari models:

(For some reason, I’m not a fan of hunting with semi-auto rifles, but that has nothing to do with Browning.)

Needless to say, I would never turn down a Browning double-barreled shotgun, except that they make mostly over/under models — but once again, my preference for side-by-side shotguns has nothing to do with Browning.  Their reputation and success in shotguns is very well earned, and thousands of people use them as religiously as I use Mauser rifles or John Moses Browning’s 1911 Government pistol.

This, by the way, is one of my “lottery” shotguns at Steve Barnett’s:  a rare older “BSS” model in 20ga:

…which has absolutely everything I desire in a SxS:  splinter forearm, double triggers and straight “English” stock.  The only thing that has stopped me from getting it is not the fact that it’s old and second-hand:  it’s the price:  $5,750.  Which, for an old secondhand gun, pushes me away a little.

And here, finally, may lie the the answer as to why I’ve never owned many Browning guns:  cost.

Loyal Readers know that I always go for quality in my guns — and nobody seems to have any arguments against Browning guns in that regard — but at the same time, Brownings always seem to cost just a little bit too much when compared with guns which are functionally their equivalent and whose quality is as good or in some cases better.  Once again, I have no problem with quality costing more than average;  where possible, I always go for quality (in all things) even though I know that it does carry a higher cost.  But Browning always seems to be just a tad over that tolerance, and I walk away.

How say you, O My Readers?  Is this your experience too, or am I missing something here?

Why Not The .243?

I was sucked into the Forgotten Weapons Matrix a little while ago, and during Ian McAllum’s dissertation on the Sig-Manhurin 542 rifle, my train of thought went off down a branch line — I’m an old guy, it happens — and I ended up wondering:  why was the .243 Win never adopted as a military cartridge?

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out here that I am a HUGE fan of the .243 Win, especially when loaded with a 90gr bullet.)

Run with me on this one.  The .243 Win is based on a necked-down .308 Win casing so that it can shoot a smaller 6mm (.243″) bullet. Here’s the side-by-side comparison:

That’s a lot of powder (assuming that it stays the same amount as in a .308 Win cartridge) to send a much-smaller bullet downrange, which means of course that there’s a lot of velocity involved — and, as a welcome side-benefit, because there’s less inertia to overcome to get a smaller bullet moving than a bigger one, less recoil.

The latter was given as being one of the reasons that the 5.56mm NATO was adopted, by the way (that and the reduced weight of the cartridges themselves), but it came at the expense of knockdown power.  Also of interest is that the 5.56 NATO generally uses a 55gr bullet — but, for that matter, the .243 can handle a 55gr bullet as well, and it really races out of the barrel.  Once again, a comparison:

The only problem with the 5.56 NATO is that if you try to increase the knockdown power of the poodleshooter by shooting a heavier bullet like (say) one of 90gr, that little casing can’t hold more powder to make up for the severe loss in velocity — whereas in a larger casing like the .308 Win, bullet weight could even be doubled to 110gr without too much effect on velocity, or recoil.

So just as an intellectual question, I ask myself:  why would the .dotmil settle for a hot .22 cartridge when a downloaded .308 would do the same job (at worst), and could easily do a lot more with only a modest increase in bullet weight (say, from 55gr to 75gr)?

If we accept the fact that the earlier .30-06/.308 Win battle cartridges were just Too Much Muscle (or required too much muscle) for our soldiers (as suggested by the military brass), and we ended up adopting a vastly inferior cartridge (the poodleshooter .223);  then why should we not have compromised and used instead a 6x52mm / .243 Win cartridge?  (Of course, I am still of the opinion that the British suggestion of a .276″/6.5mm chambering was the best of all, but let’s not revisit that old story.)

Frankly, I think we missed a good opportunity here, and I think that had we adopted the .243 Win chambering in something like the aforementioned SIG-Manhurin 542 (essentially, a higher-quality AK-47 design) as our mail battle rifle, we would have been a lot better off.

For that matter, the AR-10 (suitably barreled) would have been just as good a choice, if the thought of dumping Eugene Stoner’s rifle for Sergei Kalashnikov’s gives one the vapors.

Either way, the question is this:

Social Distancing

Over the past weekend, Mr. Free Market obeyed the BritGov’s stupid social distancing rules in the proper manner:

Yes, I am insanely jealous.  Why do you ask?

Also, re: my post about the Beretta 687 a week or so ago, he sent me this snippet:

…and a bonus pic from one of his earlier shoots, this time for vermin:

Fit For Purpose

Reader JohnO asks the question:

I just finished reading “Vengeance” about the Israelis’ revenge operation for the Munich Olympic massacres. One aspect that piqued my interest was the agents’ use of a .22 for close combat fire. I found myself reading the eliminations via the .22 and thinking, “Kim duT would never approve”. But it seemed effective for the operation. So what’s your opinion on this? I mean, I already ditched my Glock 19 9mm in favor of a Springfield 1911 and a Walther PPQ both in .45 based. Is the .22 a viable self defense calibre?

No.

Now, is a .22 a better self-defense weapon than a Whiffle bat or a rolling pin?  Of course, but as a self-defense caliber, it falls far behind pretty much all the larger ones.  Would I like to be shot with a .22?  Of course not;  but I’d far rather be struck in, say, the leg or arm by a .22 than by a .357 Mag or a .45 bullet from your 1911.

All that said:  the .22 LR cartridge is a nigh-perfect assassin’s caliber.  At any distance under twenty feet and especially at very close ranges, a head shot with a .22 bullet — properly placed, as opposed to a glancing blow — will generally result in instant death:  the little boolet will penetrate the skull easily, and then pretty much bounce around inside the cranium, turning brain tissue into something resembling rice pudding, functionally speaking.  (In passing, I should note that when my Dad lived on the farm, they used a .22 rifle to slaughter cattle — a close-range single shot into the animal’s skull had the above result, every single time:  drop, a couple of kicks, and then game over.)

The .22 has a couple of other advantages for the assassin:  in a silenced semi-auto pistol, the noise is negligible compared to a shot from a 1911, for example (a “silencer” doesn’t do much to attenuate the blast from a larger caliber);  and using a .22 revolver means that you don’t have to bother about leaving expended cartridge cases bouncing around the room as clues for the investigators.  Likewise, it’s easier to conceal a .22-sized handgun about your person than a large-frame revolver or semi-auto pistol.  Using even a 9mm pistol shooting subsonic rounds requires a longer moderator to achieve the same degree of noise reduction as a much-shorter .22 moderator, so even a silenced .22 pistol is less bulky and more concealable.

And it’s in that capacity that the Mossad agents used .22 pistols, with excellent results, rather than as self-defense weapons.  Certainly, the end result seemed satisfactory to all except the deceased terrorists.