Part Of A Trend

A number of people have been angered by Walmart’s recent decision to stop selling guns and ammo of various types.  I’m a little angry myself, but no that much — because I was wise to Walmart’s game a long time ago.  Here’s what I wrote about the giant chain back in 2003 (!!!):

Guns, And Walmart

February 26, 2003
8:10 AM CDT

I’m aware that a whole bunch of people out there buy guns and ammo from Wal-Mart (not to mention all the other household stuff), and that’s fine.  A couple of people know that I don’t especially care for Walmart myself, and have written to talk about it.

I’ve worked in and around the retail industry for over twenty-five years, for small operations and huge chains, and on two continents, so I know a little whereof I speak.  Here are my thoughts on the matter.

1.  I don’t like one organization, especially a retailer, to have a huge (or near-monopolistic) market share.  I don’t think it’s healthy for the economy, despite the short-term consumer savings that a large organization brings to the market.  When most of the smaller operations get put out of business, the community suffers, both economically and in spirit.

2.  Despite the folksiness of their public demeanor, Walmart is a pretty damned predatory company in their dealings with both suppliers and competitors.  They go after competition with a ferocity and lack of conscience that are truly disturbing.  That’s fine, of course—it’s good business—but at some point, that attitude will turn around and bite the consumer too.  When you become the only game in town, eventually you become arrogant.  If Walmart tries to deny that this will happen to them, they’re ignorant of history:  it always happens.  Always.

3.  Most insidiously, when one store becomes the sole channel for a specific product, it becomes progressively easier for that product to be controlled by legislation.  When there’s only one faucet, it’s easy to stop the flow of water—when there are thousands, it’s more difficult.

4.  Along the way, eventually, product choice becomes narrower when only one or two stores control all the sales.  When all a store cares about is what sells now, the more esoteric items disappear because they either don’t move quickly enough for the store to generate profit, or the price is increased to generate a larger profit.  So you either won’t find it, or it will be too expensive.  This is Retailing 101.

That’s it.  I don’t think that Walmart is good for the country in the long-term:  near-monopolies seldom are.

As far as the gun business is concerned, I don’t think Walmart is good for the country right now.  To their credit, they’ve made guns and ammunition cheaper in rural areas, and many people swear by them.  But when you live in Wahoo WY and Walmart is the only game in town, don’t think for a moment that you’re going to have the ultimate gun store in Walmart, because you won’t.

Frankly, Walmart doesn’t give a shit about the gun business.  It’s just another product category to them, like shirts or jeans, and most of their decisions are made at head office in Bentonville, not at the local level.  If guns and ammo become too problematic for them in terms of regulation, product movement or return on investment, they’ll drop the category without a second thought—once again, that’s good business, and you can’t fault them for it—but gun owners will be totally screwed.

Sure, the gun store is more expensive:  because he doesn’t have the daily profits from other categories like toys, CDs and sweatshirts to keep him in business.  I know how it works:  you shop around at the local gun stores, get all the information from the guys behind the counter, and then go to Walmart because that Remington 870 is $80 cheaper there.  Congratulations.  You got a great deal—and shafted the guy whose entire living depends on your dollars.  If you’ve done this kind of thing before, and this paragraph didn’t give you a twinge of conscience, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Walmart can survive without selling guns and ammo.  Your local gun store can’t.  Think about it.


Then in April 2006, I noted this development:

Walmart Stores Inc. has decided to stop selling guns in about a third of its U.S. stores in what it calls a marketing decision based on lack of demand in some places, a company spokeswoman said Friday.
The world’s largest retailer decided last month to remove firearms from about 1,000 stores in favor of stocking other sporting goods, in line with a “Store of the Community” strategy for boosting sales by paying closer attention to local differences in demand.

Once again, Walmart demonstrated that as far as they’re concerned, guns are no different from jeans or audio CDs:  no sales, bye-bye.

None of our Plano-area stores sell guns or ammo, I suspect because there are about a dozen gun stores (including Bass Pro and Cabela’s) in the immediate area;  and I suspect that we’re not a price-sensitive group anyway so cheap shotguns aren’t going to attract too many buyers when for a dozen dollars more you can get personalized service from a proper gun store.  And as far as I can tell, most gun owners up here have been buying their ammo online for over a decade — I being one of them, for sure.  So it’s unsurprising, from a purely merchandising rationale, that Wally World doesn’t stock any gunny goodness in this neighborhood.  Frankly, I wish WalMart would make it policy across all  their stores (although I don’t think they will because of their rural stores’ contribution).

Now read what the CEO of Hornady has to say about dealing with these assholes:

In my previous life, I worked for a company that lived and died by Walmart.  And like many companies, Walmart treated them poorly.  And, as we were going through these things with Walmart, I decided that if I was ever in a situation where I didn’t have to do business with them, I would not.  And when I got to Hornady, we were doing some business with them, it wasn’t a lot, but they started to become difficult to work with again.  I was in a situation where I made the decision for our company to walk away and everybody in the company supported my decision. And we have not looked back.

And here’s my favorite part:

“As long as there is a Hornady at Hornady, we will never sell Walmart direct. They don’t support our industry.” – Jason Hornady, 2007

He points out, by the way, that if perchance you see Hornady products at Walmart, those would have come through a wholesaler — and from his tone, I don’t think Hornady is too happy about it.

So there you have it:  Walmart is not our friend.  Make changes to your own shopping habits as it suits you.  And support your local gun store, regardless.

Alternative Carry Option

Tami Keel on carrying spare parts for one’s guns around:

I actually have two spare-parts trays for my Glocks. One is a larger tray that stays at home and has all the things that came off guns when replaced by aftermarket bits, as well as routine-maintenance parts like recoil-spring assemblies and such. There’s a spare set of uninstalled night sights in there in case the ones on my carry gun start leaking tritium or spit their little vials or inserts out.

I too always carry spare parts for my 1911 or High Power (whichever I’m carrying at the time), and it’s not recoil buffers, extractors or springs.

It’s a collection of parts known as “Smith & Wesson Model 637 Airweight”.

And Tami provides just such a rationale when she writes (emphasis added):

With Glocks, it’s generally trigger-return springs or extractors that break, and I’ve got a couple of each in the tray.  And, thanks to the reminder in the discussion that started this train of thought, it’s going to have a couple spring-loaded bearings in it now, too.  When I used 1911s, I generally had a second, fitted extractor, as well as a recoil-spring plug.  With revolvers…well, there’s not too much that’s likely to break or fall off on a revolver, and what there is generally can’t be fixed while watching TV in a motel room.

Actually, all this is making me increasingly want to carry a revolver  as my primary goblin repellent.  Either of these would do:

Whether the blued Colt Trooper MkIII (~$1,000 secondhand) or the stainless S&W Mod 65 (~$650 ditto), I would suggest that either of these oldtimer .357 Mag wheelguns would do the trick (along with, it should be said, a couple-three speedloaders)*.  And instead of the S&W 637, I’d carry a small semi-auto  in my pocket as backup, such as the Kahr PM9 (~$400) in 9mm Europellet:

I await with equanimity my Readers’ scorn, insults and opprobrium in response to this plan.


*Of course, given my druthers I’d go for a Python, but the price (~$3,000) makes my nose bleed.  Even the King Cobra (~$2,000) brings the red stuff from my nasal passages,beautiful though it is:

I wish I wasn’t so damn poor…

Simple Lesson

By now, everyone should be familiar with has-been-Congressman Butt-Boy O’Rourke’s promise to take away our AR-15s and AK-47s at the Socialist Clown Car Debate the other night.

Needless to say, that provoked a response from firebrand Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain, who tweeted “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis” (echoing the sentiments of probably every AR- and AK owner in the Lone Star State).

Whereupon Beta-Boy crawled into a fetal position and whimpered, “Anytime you have somebody threatening to use violence against somebody in this country to resolve a political issue, really for any reason, that’s a matter for law enforcement!” then promptly reported Cain to the Fibbies.

Pussy.

There are two lessons to be drawn from this.  The first lesson is that Commiesymps like Skateboard Jesus are always going to use the KGB cops to do their dirty work for them — whether it’s “investigating a threat” (LOL) or confiscating guns from the populace.  (We already knew that, but the lesson bears repeating.)

The second lesson, though, is for ex-Congressman Fake O’Hispanic and his ilk:

When you threaten gun confiscation — that is, having the police forcibly disarm citizens — then YOU are the ones threatening violence.

And provoking violence, as we all know, often begets violence in return.  At least after all this, nobody can say that the socialists haven’t been warned.

As have we.

Sighting In On The DOJ

I can understand why people are getting all bent out of shape about this atrocity:

Own a rifle?  Got a scope to go with it?  The U.S. government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you.
That’s because the government wants Apple and Google to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered.  It’s an unprecedented move:  Never before has a case been disclosed in which American investigators demanded personal data of users of a single app from Apple and Google.  And never has an order been made public where the feds have asked the Silicon Valley giants for info on so many thousands of people in one go.
According to an application for a court order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on September 5, investigators want information on users of Obsidian 4, a tool used to control rifle scopes made by night-vision specialist American Technologies Network Corp.  The app allows gun owners to get a live stream, take video and calibrate their gun scope from an Android or iPhone device.  According to the Google Play page for Obsidian 4, it has more than 10,000 downloads.  Apple doesn’t provide download numbers, so it’s unclear how many iPhone owners could be swept up in this latest government data grab.
If the court approves the demand, and Apple and Google decide to hand over the information, it could include data on thousands of people who have nothing to do with the crimes being investigated, privacy activists warned.

What I don’t  understand is why people would want to get this poxy app in the first place, because of all the things you’re going to do with your hunting rifle, zeroing the scope is one of the easiest.  No?  Allow me to explain.

Step 1:  Remove the bolt from your rifle so you can see clear through the barrel.

Step 2:  Wait for nightfall.

Step 3:  Line your barrel up with a light source (street light, neighbor’s porch light etc.) that’s between 50 and 100 yards distant.  (If the latter light source, try not to let your neighbor see you pointing a rifle at his house;  for some reason, people get upset by this.  Sit back from the window.)

Step 4:  Anchor the rifle down so that the rifle is straight upright (i.e. the vertical line of the stock is at right angles to the floor).

Step 5:  Install your scope onto the rifle, making sure that the vertical line in the scope points straight up and down (i.e. that it corresponds to the vertical line of the stock).

Step 6:  Make sure that you can still see the light source through the barrel, and then zero the scope’s cross-hairs onto the same light source.  Re-install the bolt.

Your rifle is now guaranteed to “print onto the paper”, i.e. your shots will all fall within a 6″ square at 25 or 50 yards.

Step 7:  Zero your scope onto the bull, trying to get a 1″ minute-of-angle (MOA) at the distance you will most likely be shooting at (or just use 100 yards, as most do, and make further adjustments in the field as needed).

Now I know that this may seem a lot more tiresome a routine than just holding up your phone to the scope and letting some system do all the work for you, but as we are all fast learning in today’s world, what makes things more convenient is often either part of someone else’s profit margin (e.g. automatic gearboxes) or else malevolent (e.g. self-driving cars and, to whit, this scope zeroing app).

Giving your data to someone else has always been fraught with risk.  With this Obsidian 4 thing, it seems as though Gummint has found a great way to identify a large proportion of gun owners, simply by leaning on a couple of phone companies (who are always at the beck and call of gummint bureaucrats anyway).  What makes things easy for you makes things even easier for Gummint, as it turns out.

Caveat emptor, my friends.

Oh, and fuck the DOJ.

RFI: Low-Cost AR-15

Question(s): 

  • Is the Ruger AR556 a good deal (at just under $500)
  • Is it a rugged gun
  • Is it a decent product (trigger, ammo feeding etc.) and
  • Does it require moar $$$$ / massive effort to set it up with a tac-light and red-dot scope?  (ignoring the cost of the doodads, of course)

…or is this one of those things needs a bucketload of cash to make it a decent gun?

Asking for a friend.  (Seriously;  it’s not for me.  And I should point out that the guy just wants an off-the-shelf, grab ‘n go gun and isn’t interested in building one from parts.  He is  my friend, after all, and we share many traits and characteristics.)

From my admittedly-inexperienced perspective, the AR556 seems like the bees’ knees for a one-stop shop, plus the Ruger brand gives some degree of comfort.  Am I wrong?


Update from A Concerned Reader:

#1 I am not a fan of Ruger and their quality control with AR-15s is suspect. So for something “off the shelf”, I would not look to them.

#2 S&W is abut the same as Ruger. I’ve heard and seen some corners cut to bring the price point down. This MIGHT be ok. The again I was at FEDEX and the guy next to me in line was sending his S&W MP AR-15 back. Apparently nothing S&W customer support could tell him to do could get it to work reliably. We didn’t go into details, but he was completely dissatisfied with the S&W AR.

#3 PSA (Palmetto State Armory), seems “OK”. PSA is cheap but they seem to work. I have not bought a complete AR from them. I bought an AR upper with a free float handguard, but the aluminum was so thin it would flex and touch the barrel. But PSA AR’s do work. I would say if you want a cheap AR, that would be the way to go. Most of the internet commentators, focus on the cheapness, but don”t complain about them not working.

#4 DPMS used to be considered a bottom tier AR maker. IMHO, their quality has improved and other manufacturers have found more corners to cut in order to reach lower prices. I would put them in the same tier as Anderson Manufacturing.

#5 I’ve heard good things about Spike’s Tactical. In my dealings with them, I’ve found them to be excellent (I ordered a charging handle from them and they offered a free return and refund while it was en route to me, since it had been advertised as made in USA and apparently their supplier was getting the part from overseas-China).

#6 I’ve also been happy with all things Aero Precision. Right now I’m building an AR in 458 SOCOM (as a 45-70 fan you have to appreciate that) and I am mainly using Aero Precision parts.

At a minimum, your friend is going to need to add a decent 2 point sling… I call a one point sling a noose and I just don’t need a complicated 3 point sling. Finding a good sling these days is difficult. I don’t think people carry long guns enough anymore to appreciate the need fora good sling.

So in summary, NO to Ruger and S&W. Shop around for a PSA or spend a little more for a DPMS or Anderson. Maybe go for a Spike’s Tactical or Aero Precision.

Gratuitous Gun Pic — Uberti Stallion Target (.22LR / .22 Mag)

Whenever we look at modern single-action rimfire revolvers, the common model we think of is the Ruger Single Six, with its swappable .22 LR / .22 Win Mag cylinders.  I have one, I’ve owned a couple in the past, and I don’t have a single bad thing to say about them.

However.

I happened upon the same offering at Collectors Firearms, only this one’s made by the Italian Uberti company, and good grief, it’s a beauty:

…and at an old GunsAmerica listing, I found it in non-stainless:

Now we all know Uberti makes fine cowboy replica guns (and I’ve shot several of them, in .44-40, .45 LC and .357/.38), but I missed that they also make some other .22 revolvers, featuring a scaled-down Colt Peacemaker action.  When I went to their website to see what was what, there was this beauty (which looks more like a Ruger Bearcat, incidentally):

Case-hardened, brass sub-frame, AND there’s a 10-shot model option?  Be still, my twitching trigger finger.

And from what I can see, you’d be in for less than $500 each.

Want.  All of them.