Bedside Guns

Over the years, many people have written to me asking what I would consider the ideal home-defense handgun. (And yes: I know that a handgun is what you use to fight your way to a shotgun. But sometimes your shotgun in locked away in your safe. So let’s just stick with the handgun, for the moment.)

Now, let’s understand what I mean by “home defense”. I don’t mean that your house is under siege by Al-Qa’eda fanatics or even the local neighborhood homeowners’ committee (California residents will know exactly what I mean).

No, what I mean is that you’re fast asleep, when suddenly you wake up and realize there’s mischief afoot, inside your house.

Let me be perfectly clear about what I’m going to say next.

If you have practiced and practiced and practiced with your trusty 1911 or SIG whatever, and the operation thereof is as automatic as breathing, by all means keep a semi-auto in your bedside drawer.

But unless you’re a total loony, if there’s a round in the chamber you should have the safety engaged. Or, if there’s no round in the chamber, it means you have to chamber one first — noise and fumbling may ensue. In other words, operation of your gun is a two-step process.

Or you can just do it the easy way, and use a double-action revolver. Nothing to think about, nothing to operate except the trigger (like that wonderful line: Smith & Wesson — the original “point and click” interface).

Ultimately, of course, you’re going to do what you want to do, with the gun that feels the most “comfortable” to you — i.e. the gun that you feel is most likely to get the job done.

And that’s fine. Just be aware of the potential drawbacks and advantages of all the options.

After all the hundreds of hours and many thousands of rounds I’ve spent with my beloved 1911 pistols, my bedside gun is a double-action .357 Magnum revolver, chambered with Federal Hydra-Shok 125gr. JHP (jacketed hollowpoints).

Ultimately, as I’ve said before, it all depends what you’re comfortable with—and if you’d rather park your Glock 17 next to the bed, be my guest. Just be sure when you’re half-awake and fumbling for the thing that you don’t hit the magazine release by mistake (it’s been known to happen, more than once)—and that can happen with any semi-auto pistol.

A revolver is like a fork: you pick it up, and it works. Here’s my old S&W Model 65, just to illustrate the concept:

 

Now for some other thoughts:

I talked a little about ammo earlier, and I need to offer some advice to people who own guns in GFW states like Massachusetts, California or New York.

If you whack a goblin in your home in a Righteous Shooting, there’s always a chance that some asshat prosecutor (or lawyer for the dead goblin) will go after you because you used “killer” ammo.

Yes, I know, all ammo is supposed to kill, but there’s no arguing about this when you’ve just used a full cylinder of Black Talons you picked up at that gun show in Alabama. If that happens, you’ll be painted as a “bloodthirsty vigilante killer” quicker than Tom Sawyer’s fence.

Here’s a tip: Use the same type of bullets as your local police force does. If you use “police” cartridges, then no one can paint you as a vicious killer.

Ask one of your neighborhood cops what kind of bullet (not just caliber) his department uses. Mostly, they’re going to use CCI/Speer Gold Dot, Winchester PDX or Silvertips, Remington Golden Saber or Federal Hydra-Shok. The caliber may vary, but the bullet type is probably going to be one of those brands. Generally, the same bullet type will be available in your caliber.

(Ditto shotgun shells, by the way—you may think it’s a really cool idea to BBQ the goblin with one of those “Dragon’s Breath” rounds, or turn him into a pincushion with a “flechette” shell, but, regrettably, it’s not a good choice. Use “game” loads: you’ll be a “sportsman”, not Rambo, and he’ll be just as dead.)

And one last caveat for everyone: whatever you’ve got in your bedside drawer, make sure that your kids or grandkids can’t get hold of it.

How you arrange that is up to you.

My kids, even when small, knew better than to go into my bedside drawer — but even so, I used to lock my bedside gun away during the day anyway, and take it out again at night. Did I ever forget to do that? Not once. After a while, it becomes a ritual, like cleaning your teeth in the morning and at night.

Trigger locks are okay, I guess, if you don’t want to mess with locking the gun away — just remember to lock it every morning, and unlock it every night. That I have forgotten to do (unlock it, I mean) — and it’s no fun to be fumbling with a trigger lock when all hell is breaking loose in your house, which is why I prefer to lock it away during the daytime.

I can’t stress this enough. A gun is a lethal object in a kid’s hands. A dozen or so kids, and their parents, find that out every year, and I just want to smash my head against the wall every time I hear about another incidence of that, because it’s so unnecessary.

And when the kids get older, teach them about guns and about gun safety. The incidence of accidental shooting deaths among kids who have been trained in gun safety is almost zero. Follow the stats, folks.

But most importantly of all, if your kid have friends over to play, lock the damn gun away. You may be able to trust your kid, but a group of kids has the collective responsibility of a treeful of drunken chimpanzees, and that will include yours.

Don’t give yourself a broken heart by your carelessness — and don’t give the gun-fearing wussies more ammo to use against other gun owners, either.

Here endeth the lesson.


15 comments already!

No Chance

When I was at university in South Africa back in the early 1970s, our group of friends developed a game known as “Poor Man’s Monopoly” using a regular Monopoly game, but wherein each contestant started off with no money whatsoever, collected only $20 (not $200) when passing GO, and the winner was the the first player to own any property at all. (Let me tell you, those little brown properties next to GO became much sought after.) And of course, the “Chance” cards which casually allowed a player to collect $5 from each of the others could cause a fistfight. The only “Chance” or “Community Chest” cards we stripped out were the ones requiring income tax payments — because, obviously, no one earned enough to pay taxes and we didn’t want to see our friends committing suicide. The games took forever to spit out a winner — kinda like life itself, really — and were played in an atmosphere of grim desperation — once again, kinda like real life.

Which brings us to this wonderful concept.

According to Black Lives Matter (and their White liberal supporters), this is their life, according to the White Man’s Monopoly rules:

Suggestions for the “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards in Comments, please. As always here on my back porch, political correctness and trigger warnings can be safely ignored as long as it’s funny.


By the way: I didn’t spell “Monopoly” with the little circled R after the y because a.) I don’t know how to create it in WordPress and b.) fuck you, Parker Brothers’ lawyers or whoever.


13 comments already!

Same Ol’, Same Ol’

From Longtime Reader Ed:

Sorry to say, but you have become redundant. Reading your “New” blog is like going back to High School thirty years later and seeing the people who never left and are bitching about the same shit. AMF!

I have no idea what AMF means, but whatever. Anyway, Ed… let me not keep you here and bore you. Feel free to find something new and exciting, somewhere else.


23 comments already!

Putting In The Asterisks

Via Sarah at Insty comes this thoughtful piece:

Yes, an intolerant minority can control and destroy democracy. Actually, as we saw, it will eventually destroy our world.
So, we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.

I’ve often pondered this issue. If we assume that the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact — by no means a certain assumption, by the way — then yes, of course we can attach asterisks to certain socio-political movements (e.g. Nazism, Communism etc.) which rely on the tolerance of the typical Western-style democracy (and in the case of the U.S., the tolerance entrenched in its Constitution), and use that tolerance to further their own brand of intolerance. As an example, note that a considerable percentage of U.S. Muslims support the idea of Shari’ah law as first an adjunct to, and then a replacement for the existing U.S. legislative system. And in the name of “tolerance”, or “cultural appreciation” (or whatever term liberals use to disguise “eventual submission”), we should allow such ideas to become not only acceptable, but accepted?

No.

Here’s a little thought for the Intolerants to ponder. Even our Constitution is not written in stone; it can be amended — admittedly with considerable difficulty —  but there is nothing to stop a majority of members of Congress, and a majority of states, from creating an amendment to the First Amendment which says, simply, “except for [Islam / Nazism / fill in your brand of intolerance].” Here’s an example of such an action, a funny one but still one that is absolutely possible:

Our “group” here in the United States is one which supports tolerance. But if you think for one moment that we are incapable of expelling an intolerant sub-group, think again.

One of us is going to have to change their outlook and philosophy, and we’ve probably changed ours enough — or too much (which is what I think). Beware of mistaking gentleness for weakness, of tolerance for submission. Start acting like citizens of the United States, accept the principles of our Constitution, or risk losing your place at the barbecue. It can happen. Pray that it doesn’t.


7 comments already!

At Long Last, Sanity

Yeah, and it’s about time.

After carrying the M16 or one of its cousins across the globe for more than half a century, soldiers could get a peek at a new prototype assault rifle that fires a larger round by 2020.
Army researchers are testing half a dozen ammunition variants in “intermediate calibers,” which falls between the current 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm rounds, to create a new light machine gun and inform the next-generation individual assault rifle/round combo.
The weapon designs being tested will be “unconventional,” officials said, and likely not one that is currently commercially available.
Some intermediate calibers being tested include the .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .264 USA as well as other non-commercial intermediate calibers, including cased telescoped ammo, Army officials said.

All those who’ve heard me rant endlessly about the Mattel (M16/M4) rifle and its poodleshooter (5.56mm/.223 Rem) cartridge may now breathe a sigh of relief at the upcoming cessation of ranting, as the Pentagon is finally facing up to the reality that the aforementioned were inadequate pieces of shit that our kids should never have had to carry into combat.

I really have no input into what rifle/machine gun/”delivery platform” the Army is going to implement, other than I hope its an adaptation of an existing, proven design — “ground-up” (i.e. wholly-new) designs are generally shit unless created by John Moses Browning (BBUHN) — but considering that the Army always has to dabble with the new-and-untried (because otherwise how else could they kill more of our troops unnecessarily?), I’m probably wasting my time.

As for the cartridges: Doc Russia and I had a long and detailed discussion about this topic. I like the .260 Rem because of its meaty energy at 500 meters, while he likes the 6.5 Creedmoor because of its proven accuracy — as he says, all you need for a combat round is accuracy, range and power. Any half-decent quarter-inch- to 6.8mm bullet with a mass of about 140-150gr will do the job, almost without exception. Here are two of the cartridges mentioned in the article (from left to right), the .260 Rem (142gr) and the 6.5 Creedmoor (140gr):

  

Either would be an excellent choice, and there’s absolutely no need for the Army to come up with any new cartridge. Why? Because over the past century of cartridge design, just about everything has been tried and tested, and quite frankly, the answer is already out there e.g. with either of the above cartridges.

All the talk about the need for a bullet to penetrate body armor is mostly silliness, by the way. If you’re hit at short range in the body armor with a high-velocity medium-caliber bullet, the bullet will penetrate any armor, and even if it doesn’t — say, with a glancing blow — the impact is most probably going to knock you unconscious and/or cause massive internal trauma — broken ribs, collapsed lungs, etc. (Steel-core 6.5x55mm Swede — my favorite of all medium cartridges ever made —  can blast straight through both sides of body armor at 300 yards, but it’s not an optimal cartridge in today’s world because of its weight and length.) Penetration is also a moot issue because anything would be better than the current poodleshooter 5.56mm cartridge, which can barely penetrate drywall at 300 yards (some hyperbole there).

Regardless of the bullet size, though, I love the idea of lightweight polymer cartridge cases — brass is great but heavy, relatively speaking — and the Army doesn’t reload, so polymer seems to fit the bill. And brass is a commodity metal, prone to supply shortages, whereas if you’re running low on polymer sheets, you just build a new factory and the problem goes away. (Of course, should the military demand for brass slacken, that could make regular ammo cheaper for the civilian market, but let me not be swayed by base personal motives here.)

I worry, of course, that too much time will be spent trying to create a perfect cartridge (to do “everything”) and the perfect rifle (with a jillion bells and whistles), instead of getting something which is a 90% solution and running with it. In truth, I think an intro date of 2020 is far too distant, and the M4/5.56mm system sucks so badly, it should be replaced now, let alone three years hence.

I welcome additional thoughts and input in Comments.


29 comments already!

Malware, Change, And The Whole Damn Thing

Over at samizdata, Perry Metzger (not De Havilland) has a few trenchant observations about stupid people who don’t use condoms when they have unprotected Internet intercourse, or something. (For those who don’t know him, Perry’s writing style is often blunt and dismissive, which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading his stuff. Go figure.) Read it all, including the comments, because a lot of what I say from here may be otherwise incomprehensible.

I’m not going to argue with Perry’s main point about the need to upgrade your computer’s software regularly. From a security standpoint, it makes sense to install the patches which cover the gaping holes in the thing. I also understand that the software companies don’t care to maintain elderly platforms, for the same reasons that Ford no longer maintains Model Ts. (The fact that software changes occur at an exponentially-quicker rate than automotive ones is just the nature of the beast.)

The problem, as noted the the Comments, is that system “upgrades” are not devoted exclusively to security patches anymore. Instead, all sorts of crap is included which at best causes irritating changes in functionality, and at worst undoes a lot of the learning and experience that one has accumulated. I understand why this occurs, but that doesn’t mean I’m at all happy about it. And so far, Microsoft has accommodated us Old Farts by including a “traditional” desktop view for all new Windows operating system versions, so I don’t have to memorize all the silly new pictograms in Windows 7 – infinity. (Note to MS: remove that feature and I’m gone.)

And this is the point. One of the commenters at samizdata made the excellent point that Microsoft (and all software developers, as far as I can see) are more interested in getting new customers, who would be more comfortable with apps, pictograms, symbols and what have you than they would be with the old icons or, gawd forbid, text (all those words and stuff? dude!). That’s stupid, for all sorts of reasons, and here’s why.

I might not be worth much to Microsoft as an existing customer right now; but there was a time when people like me — the early personal-computer adopters — helped build Microsoft into what it is today. When you have a person who like myself has been through all the hardware iterations of the PC, XT, AT, 386x all the way through to the current whatever-it-is-I’m-writing-on-right now, and has likewise been through all the software iterations of DOS 2.0 through Windows 7/8/not-9 [ahem] and 10; when you have a longtime customer group like that, then surely I, and all the countless millions of people like me, deserve just a little accommodation in the Grand Microsoft Marketing Plan? (Okay, you can stop laughing now.)

I know, everything these days falls into the “But what have you done for me lately?” category, but it’s still a basic truism of marketing that it’s ten times easier to get an existing customer to stay with your product than it is to lure a new one away from a competitor. But if you persist in changing your product so that it not only becomes a purely new-customer attractant, but also an existing-customer repellent, then I would suggest that someone in Marketing needs to go back to business school and/or get a swift kick in the teeth to adjust their thinking.

I know that it’s expensive and resource/time-consuming to maintain old products. Of course it is. But I would suggest that it’s also a lot easier than new product development — we old-timers don’t ask for much, because we’re used to working with, by today’s standards, relatively unsophisticated products.

Using the automotive industry one more time: Ford, GM and Chrysler have discovered that there is a huge market for nostalgia models such as the Dodge Charger/Challenger, Ford Shelby Mustang and the like. These new iterations of the venerable hot rods of yore have been improved, of course: better brakes, suspension and so on; they’re still simple and unsophisticated by modern whizzbang standards, but their manufacturers can’t make them quickly enough. Let’s go exotic: a new 2016 LaFerrari costs about $1.5 million; a 1966 275 GTB recently sold for $2.1 million. (I know, that’s mostly a factor of scarcity; at the same time, however, the 2016 model is a hundred times better than its 50-year-old counterpart — and still, someone was prepared to pay good money for it.)

Somewhere is all the above rambling is the seed of an idea for Microsoft. Or maybe, for someone not in Microsoft who can see a niche in the PC market which is similar to the automotive restoration market.

Or maybe I’m just an old fart “shaking his fist at heaven”, as Perry Metzger suggests. Still, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way — in fact, there may be more of us than of them. Software developers — or to be more accurate, software maintainers — might want to take a look at that.

 


10 comments already!