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.

Home Is The Hunter

Doc Russia finally released his African safari pics for publication, with the understanding that I blur his features — ever since that Minnesota dentist got into trouble just for shooting Cecil The Geriatric Lion in Zimbabwe, hunters have become skittish about showing their kill pics on Teh Intarwebz — so here we go.

In case anyone missed the stats: the rifle used was a CZ 550 Safari (essentially the old 602 Brno ZKK) chambered in .375 H&H Magnum. Ammo was Buffalo Bore 300gr solids. Also, the hunt took place on a game farm in the far-northeast area of South Africa, near the town of Hoedspruit (full details on request by email for anyone who wants to give this a go themselves).

Doc told me he wanted to pot a hyena just because its skull is unlike that any of the usual predators one sees about the house. Being Doc, he had to bag Giganto-Hyena:

Apparently, this was done over bait at night, and despite his first shot being a killing-blow (i.e. sucking chest wound), someone neglected to inform the hyena, so a second shot was necessary.

Then on to serious business,: Cape Buffalo. The pic below shows Doc, his buff and Mr. Free Market (features likewise blurred because of Cecil-bullshit):

Mr. FM also got a buff, and declared it so much fun that he might do it again next year. Because I’m not keen to lose yet another friend to African silliness, I’ll try to talk him out of it; but I must admit that for someone who did several tours with the 1st Paras in Northern Ireland during the unpleasantness of the late 1970s, “danger” is probably a relative term. And Doc’s a rifle-company Marine, so ditto. Maniacs, both of them.

Maybe next year I’ll go along, just to keep an eye on things, and the lads in check.

Crossing America – 2017

Time to play this game again.

The Challenge: You have the opportunity to go back in time, arriving on the east coast of North America circa 1650, and your goal is to cross the North American continent, taking as much time as you need. When/if you reach the Pacific coastline, you’ll be transported back to the present day. Your equipment for this journey will be as follows (taken back in the time capsule with you):

— enough provisions for the first five days’ travel
— a backpack containing some clothing essentials
— a winter coat, raincoat and boots
— waterproof sleeping bag
— an axe, and a small sharpening stone
— a box of 1,000 “strike anywhere” waterproof matches
— a portable water filtration system
— a topographic map of North America
— binoculars and a compass
— a current U.S. Army First Aid kit
— ONE long gun, shotgun or rifle (and 800 rounds, but no scope; and no interchangeable-barrel rifles like a Thompson Center Encore or Blaser; drillings are acceptable, but you still only get 800 rounds of ammo, total)
— ONE handgun (and 1,000 rounds)
— and TWO knives (can include multi-tool knives like Leatherman).

Once there, you’ll be given a horse, a mule and a dog — but apart from that, you’re on your own. Remember you’ll be traveling through deep woods, open prairie, desert and mountains. You may encounter hostile Indian tribes and dangerous animals en route, which should be considered when you answer the following questions (and only these):

1. What long gun would you take back in time with you?
2. What handgun?
3. What knives?

Unlike previous surveys, I’m not going to tabulate the answers; just have at it in Comments. Feel free to add any supporting arguments. I’ll post my choices over the weekend as an update below the fold.

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No Time To Think

When examining the Snowflake Test a while ago, I answered this question thus:

You’re in Starbucks with two friends. Someone runs in and says someone is coming in with a gun in 15 seconds to shoot patrons. They offer you a gun. Do you take it? What do you do next?
— I don’t need someone else’s gun because I always carry my own. Next, I’d tell everyone to get on the floor (so I get a clear field of fire), then find some cover from which to shoot behind, and finally slip the safety catch off the 1911. It’s an unlikely situation per se because I never go to Starbucks, but I understand the general issue you’re addressing.

…whereupon Longtime Reader Felix Estrella made this comment:

“I’d be concerned about your “Starbucks and gun” answer. How do you know that, for example, the guy running into the Starbucks didn’t just steal a cop’s gun and the ‘assailant’ about to come in isn’t the cop chasing after the stealer? Why would you want to get into a fight on the say-so of a complete stranger? Wouldn’t you want to assess the situation before opening fire? Why are you trying to be the hero? Do you thrive on hero-worship?”

Leaving aside the two snarky comments at the very end because they’re not worth answering yet, it’s an interesting comment which I’ve had to think about for a while. “Interesting” because it’s one of those intellectual discussions which works well when one has a great deal of time to analyze it but  which, when one has literally only a couple seconds to make life-and-death decisions, is far more likely to cause indecision and ultimately, tragedy.

In the first instance, a guy who has just stolen a cop’s gun isn’t going to run into a Starbucks hoping some hero is going to waste the pursuing cop — a gun store, maybe, but Starbucks? No. And why would the guy with the gun be looking for protection from the guy without the gun? Even if this were the case, the pursuer is going to be holding his cop’s badge in his hand (or should be), whereupon Hero Kim will hold fire, you betcha, and start looking for the first guy. Unless I see a gun in the second guy’s hand, I’m not going to fire. Rule #1 in COINOPS, Felix, and you should know that.

In the second instance, “assessing the situation” is one of those actions which sounds nice when it’s asked in a courtroom, miles away from the Starbucks and light-years away from the situation itself, but in the few seconds available, it just isn’t a sensible option. Hesitation, in this case, means that the guy running into the store with a gun is going to shoot a couple of folks while I’m standing there, pondering (like Teddy Kennedy at Chappaquiddick) the implications of what’s happening in front of me.

Sorry, that ain’t gonna happen. I stand by my original answer, because I think it’s the correct one.

Now for Felix’s snarky closing comments. I don’t have a hero complex — in fact, given the choice, I’d prefer to be at home and far away from this situation. But I do take my civic duties seriously, and this would be one of those times when obligation takes precedence over druthers.

And Felix, you committed the first cardinal sin on this website: gratuitously insulting the host. Here’s my comment: go fuck yourself. Longtime readership earns you no favors against rudeness.

This topic is now closed.

Beauty, Beholder, Eye Thereof

Somewhere on my meanderings through Teh Intarwebz, I stumbled on this photo, which depicts the typical G.I. squad weaponry of World War II.

For those unfamiliar with Ye Olde Weaponrie, they are from the top: M3 submachine gun, Colt 1911-A1 pistol, Thompson 1928-A1 submachine gun (standard and “commando” versions), M1 Carbine, M1 Garand, M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). All in manly chamberings like .45 ACP , .30 Carbine and .30-06 Springfield, and there’s not a single piece of plastic to be found anywhere: just wood and steel and death and stuff.

I’ve fired every single one of them, of course, and loved the experience more than is proper to discuss in polite company.

Feel free to tell me why I shouldn’t feel a sense of longing for the Good Old Days.


(Yes, I know the M3 could be altered to fire the silly 9mm Parabellum Europellet, but like dear old Uncle Ernie who liked to fiddle all about, we just don’t talk about such wickedness.)

Bucket List Entry #2: High Birds

I get this letter from the foul Mr. Free Market, who torments me with visions of shotgunning Over There:

So tomorrow afternoon I will be driving down to Exmoor – it’s a 3 to 4 hour drive depending on traffic & we will be staying at Morebath Manor near Tiverton. “Set in 21 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland in a sporting area renowned for its highflying birds, the grand, nine-bedroom manor house dates from Domesday, but was rebuilt between 1892 and 1894 for Charles Digby Harrod, founder of the landmark Knightsbridge store, following his retirement in 1891”

& then on Tuesday & Wednesday we have two big days at Haddeo, which is generally regarded as one of the best game shoots in the country – stick it into Google & see what pops up. So, double gunning with loaders it is ! My Berettas will be glowing…

Here’s what Haddeo is all about:

HADDEO & LOYTON
Entry in the Field’s Top 50 Shoots, 2012
In perfect partnership, the Loyton shoot joined with the prestigious Haddeo ground. Entering its fourth united season and covering some 6,000 acres, the pairing offers an outstanding spectrum of high-bird drives situated around the magnificent Exe Valley. Haddeo has for many years been cited as an epitome of Exe Valley shooting, alongside its near neighbour Milton’s. Brought to fame by the legendary Ned Goschen in the days when it was shot as ‘Pixton’, with an interim period in syndicated hands, Angus was thrilled to be given the opportunity to take the shoot on in 2011.
The Loyton shoot was set up by the late Alick Barnes in the 1960s as a low-key family affair and, over the years, developed into an impressive and competitive Exmoor ‘great’. Its proximity to the more famous Haddeo made it the natural partner and has been successfully managed as one for the past four years.
Covering some truly beautiful terrain, it is easy to feel the essence of old Exmoor uniting these two shoots, enriched by a distinguished heritage and family presence. Many of the drives are set along the Haddeo River – you cross the ford at the old village of Bury – and the Exe, a setting which is both spectacular and daunting at once! Famous drives such as St Paul’s will stay in memory for a lifetime, presenting a ‘leisurely’ flow of incredibly high, soaring birds, to be seen way over the treetops – an unforgettable sight for spectator and participating sportsman alike!
There are many key drives between Haddeo & Loyton but be prepared for Brookside, Lloyd’s, Swine’s Cleave, Beech Cover, Buckley’s, Woodcock Corner etc. Predominantly pheasant, they also release partridge on five of the drives.
Quarry: Pheasant and partridge from early October to the end of January.
NOURISHMENT
Lunch is most usually served in the Shoot Tent, set in the grounds of Loyton Lodge. This is a large and hugely comfortable safari-style affair, views of the surrounding countryside and offering the best of both worlds: Bask in the sunshine early on in the season or warm yourself sitting by the log burner on the colder, later days. Whatever the weather, this is a highly enjoyable experience and something a little bit different. In keeping with years of family tradition, expect an irresistible interpretation of the more traditional shooting lunch: delectable pies, roast chicken or our famous curry. A converted Land Rover Series 90 is used to serve celebrated mid-morning breaks with home-reared pork sausages, soups and pies from a luxurious purpose-built bar.

Are you getting the idea yet? No? Then spend a little time with ace shotgunner Dave Carrie at another beautiful shoot, Warter Priory (about 15 minutes — don’t bother trying to understand what he’s saying, even other Yorkshiremen have trouble — just enjoy the atmosphere and marvel at the difficulty of the sport). Happy dogs, good shooters, Range- and Land Rovers… the list goes on and on. Note too that the shooters are wearing ties and waistcoats — my kind of dress altogether. Yeah, it’s all a bit old-fashioned… like me.

All jokes aside, I want to do this so badly, it makes my trigger finger itch like it’s been bitten by a mosquito. And then there’s Mulgrave, which makes me want to hitch-hike across the Atlantic.

And here’s the gun I want to use: an AyA No.4 (Bournbrook) in 20ga but to be honest, I’d take just about any old shotgun in any chambering, as long as it has side-by-side barrels — because as any fule kno, shotguns barrels belong side-by-side, like a man and his dog; not over-and-under, like a man and his mistress. And double triggers, please.

Mr. Free Market’s original letter was entitled: “This Is Why You Hate Me”, and it is. One day, Rodders… [obscure British reference].