Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Watertown shootout

Whatever network news program is on right now is running a special on the recent shootout between the Boston Marathon bombers and police in Watertown, MA.

Part of this includes video taken by someone who lives on the street where the shootout occurred, via their smart phone.  The video looks directly down onto the shooters, who are in a prolonged firefight.  From the video, it looks like the shooters are maybe 40-50 feet away and down from the window.    There is an exceptionally clear view of both of the bombing suspects, for extended periods of time.

The firefight resulted in the death of one of the brothers, and the escape and an extended manhunt for the other.

Imagine if you will, had that citizen's smart phone been replaced with an AR-15, how those events might have ended a bit differently.

It's a sad state of affairs when all people are able to do is to video evil, while the state-appointed agents struggle to fight it.  There's a time in this country, even in places like Boston, when you didn't have to search for someone willing and able to put their own lives on the line to do something about monsters such as these.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hollywood Guns

Dear Hollywood,

While I appreciate the appearance of the Browning Hi-Power in the bank robbery scene of whatever crime investigation show I happened across earlier this evening, there are a couple of things I would like to point out:

a) The likelihood of a Hi-Power as the pistol of choice by a bank robber is pretty slim.  Likewise, the frequent appearance of the 1911 in use by TV and movie scumbags in similar scenarios is just as unrealistic.  I am sure it happens upon occasion "IRL", but most crime reports I've read place a significantly different kind of pistol in the dirtbag's hands - generally something of a double action design, or something more compact and easily concealed without a proper holster.

b) If you're going to use a single action pistol in your production, you may want to have said robber ready the gun in a state where the threat is realistic.  Hammer down on a Hi-Power means anyone with a basic knowledge of common handgun designs has opportunity to either relieve said robber of his (or in this case, her) firearm, or to ventilate said robber before she has the opportunity do something about it.

PS:  Female bank robbers are incredibly rare.  They do exist, but in exponentially smaller numbers than you portray in your productions.


John the Texaner

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

.458 SOCOM project - the beginning

Since building the 5.56 AR, I'd been debating in my mind a project to build an AR-pattern rifle in one of the many alternative calibers.  There are many competing purposes I had in mind, but the most pertinent of these was for hunting larger game, namely hogs.  While 5.56/.223 is appropriate for the kind of deer we get in this part of Texas, the hogs are a much tougher creature. 

I'd debated a number of calibers, including .300 Blackout, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel, and .458 SOCOM.  Knowing FlintKnapper from the Texas CHL Forum, I'd caught wind of the long-running thread he's got over at THR describing his efforts at controlling the rampant pig problem.  At current count, there are 1232 posts in that thread, and it's totally worth the read.

He had a .458 SOCOM purpose-built for his hog control efforts, at which it has proven more than effective.  The more I read about the caliber and its effectiveness, the more it seemed to be what I wanted.  It is not a long-range round, being mainly effective under 200y.  Long distance shooting is another interest of mine, but that will likely have to wait for another build, possibly in 6.5 Grendel.

Sometime late last year, I decided the .458 SOCOM was the direction I was going to take with my future rifle.  When Wally over at York Arms announced that he would be starting production of custom-engraved lower receivers, I took the opportunity to have one made, marked in 458 SOCOM to start my project.  The resulting lower is of excellent quality and finish.  Thanks to Wally for putting up with my ridiculously long custom serial number.  Here she is:

(Thanks to Wally for the image)

I'm working on getting the lower finished in Duracoat, at which time I'll post new photos.

Being a fan of stout rifles, I decided on the following details:

20" Barrel, heavy profile, carbine gas system
Magpul PRS stock in FDE
RRA Advanced Half Quad Free-float handguard (same as my 5.56 AR, but in rifle length)
Magpul MIAD grip in FDE

I've got a Weaver Classic Extreme 1.5-4.5x24 scope to top the rifle off with, and will be getting a Larue LT104 for mounting.

As production rifles in .458 SOCOM almost universally come with 16" barrels, I'm having Wally make a barrel for me to get the barrel length that I want, along with opening of the ejection port and a couple other custom items.

We haven't quite worked out a timeline for everything, but I'll update here as the project progresses.

With loaded ammo in .458 SOCOM difficult to obtain and quite expensive (around $3/round), I've already procured dies and components for loading for the caliber.  Expect updates regarding my efforts in that area as well.

Phlegmfest 2012 AAR

I know I'm a little late on the report, but I wanted to express my most sincere thanks to Phlemmy and Lawdog for opening up their home to the likes of a bunch of gun nuts for some quality socializing.

This year I was accompanied by my lovely wife, who had her doubts that she was going to be able to get along with a bunch of gunnies.  These were proven to be unfounded, as she did manage to have a good time with everyone.  She had several interesting conversations with KatyBeth, and spent much time in the living room area with the folks congregating there.

There were not one, but TWO range trips this year.  We arrived too late for the first one, but a bunch of us packed up guns and headed out to the gun club for some good shooty times Saturday afternoon.  Having the opportunity to shoot a roughly 12" steel target out at 330y, I thought I'd test out the IMR 3031 accuracy loads I'd developed for the AR.  Much to my satisfaction, they rang the target every time.  I had MattG test them out as well, and he got the same result.

I was feeling pretty good about that, until I peered over to my right at MattG spotting for JPG, who was shooting that same steel target with HANDGUNS.

In retrospect, I think we all wished we'd spent more time shooting each other's guns.  It was pretty hot out that day (and we forgot to bring water), so I think we only got an hour or so of range time in before we packed it up and headed back to the house.

Jennifer and Michael whipped up a delicious crawfish alfredo sometime in the mid-afternoon, which was quickly gobbled up by those of us fortunate enough to get some.  Later in the evening, there was brisket and other tasty goods for dinner, and we continued our socializing well into the night.

I cannot express how happy it makes me to hang around in the back yard with so many friends, telling stories, discussing assorted topics, and passing around guns for show and tell and to illustrate points in our discussions.

Sunday morning, most of us headed out to the local convenience store/restaurant combo and summarily threw the staff into a panic with our overwhelming numbers.  Breakfast sorted, we headed back to the house and hung out a little while longer before saying our goodbyes and making the trip back home.

Great times were had by all, and I certainly look forward to the next time we get to gather.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just An Observation...

When The Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" is playing over the PA system at Home Depot, EVERYONE walks to the beat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Incremental Update

It's fairly common knowledge at my workplace that I'm a shooter. From time to time I will get questions from coworkers about guns or shooting, and sometimes even about buying firearms. Last week a coworker expressed interest in going to the range. I'm happy to oblige any new shooter, so we're tentatively going to be heading out this weekend. The forecast calls for 104 degrees, so the plan is to head out early to avoid the heat of the day.

In other news, while Michael works on the custom rig I requested for the LCP, I figured that I really ought to get that pesky recall service thing out of the way. I would have done it sooner, but the LCP is my everywhere gun. If I'm going somewhere where I can't carry, I won't strap on the OWB pancake for the Hi-Power - that setup is nigh-impossible to unload discretely in a parking lot. But the LCP can drop in the pocket with an Uncle Mike's pocket holster (or soon-to-come OWB clipper rig) and get secured in the truck in a matter of a couple seconds. Having nothing to stand in for the LCP in this capacity, I've put off the recall service.

Well, along came someone at work selling a NAA Guardian .380 at a good price, so I jumped on it. I had the opportunity to try one out a few years back, and was quite surprised with the accuracy of such a small gun. The NAA was on my list of prospective pocket guns for a long time until I bought the LCP. What I didn't realize was that NAA produced a version to cater to California's ridiculous regulations, and installed an integral "lock" on those guns. My newly-purchased NAA happened to be one of these.

If you know me, then you're probably aware that I'm not a fan of unnecessary potential points of failure in firearms. Fortunately, this turned out to be a tack-on solution, and was easy enough to remove without affecting the functionality of any other systems. I appear to be the only one in the history of the internet who thought it would be a good idea to put up a guide for this procedure, as my search for such information returned nothing. Look for a guide on removing the Integral Locking System from the NAA Guardian here in the near future. I'll also be putting the pistol through reliability testing and should have a review soon with my general observations and photos.

I haven't done a food post in some time, so I'll be putting one together in the near future. A comment on my last post from Jim (flier389) over at Granddad's Corner got me over to his blog, which got me thinking about foods of years past, and those that remind me of my childhood. I thought it would be a fitting subject for an upcoming post.

Anyhow, there's a preview of things to come. See you then.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Custom Leather

Shortly after I started carrying, I switched to the Hi-Power mentioned previously in this blog. I wanted something that made the gun easy to conceal over the bowling/work type shirts I tended to wear. The Galco Combat Master fit that bill - a high-riding OWB holster with a significant cant, meaning the gun tucked up underneath my arm and was easy to draw.

Over the past 4 years, the holster has served me well, but over time it has become more relaxed and floppy, not holding the Hi-Power tightly to my side like it used to. I had resolved to get another holster of the same model to replace it. A little over a year ago I went to a party over at Christina's place up in North Texas, where I met Michael from and About this time he'd jumped into the entrepreneureal unkown, starting his new business making holsters. He'd brought samples of his wares, which were passed around the party during gun show & tell.

Fast forward 7 months, and Michael's business had really started to pick up. He'd done some interesting custom holsters, with some particularly cool IDPA/IPSC race holsters. My holster budget had expanded a bit, and I started thinking about what could be improved from the Galco. The most prominent area for improvement was stiffness. Just like my boots and pants, I'm not easy on holsters. I'm a pretty solid and big dude, and the things I wear need to be well-made and durable, or they're garbage in short order. I'd read about horsehide leather, with its wear and moisture resistance, and its exceptional stiffness. The problem is, horsehide is not in common use in the United States, and there's no real source for domestic horse hide. Because of this, mass-produced horsehide holsters simply don't exist.

This is where Michael comes in. I'd seen on his site that he deals in some exotics, most notably stingray. So we got to talking in IRC one night, and I ask about the possibility of getting a horsehide holster made for my Hi-Power. He'd not worked with horse leather before, but seemed eager to check his supplier and get me a quote. A few days later, we figured out pricing for a holster and magazine carrier to my specifications, and I gave him the go-ahead. Since he'd never worked with the material before and I wasn't in a hurry, I asked him to take as much time as he needed. Over the weeks, we corresponded back and forth about his impressions of the material and his efforts putting together test items. Along the way, I added on a request for a flashlight scabbard as well.

For the holster itself, my requirements were simple: a high ride and cant, similar to my Galco holster, with beefed up belt slotting (the Galco slots had stretched out over time, I wanted to avoid that). The mag carrier, on the other hand, had to be a completely custom design in order to hold two magazines and ride at the 7:30 position that I needed. He was able to come up with a design that created a back channel for the belt to ride in, while keeping the carrier high and close to the body.

When Phlegmfest started to roll around, we found that we would both be attending and my order would be finished shortly prior. So, a personal handoff it was. I arrived at the party, and Michael handed me my new holster, mag carrier, and flashlight scabbard. To say that I was pleased with the holster would be an understatement. Every request had been met, and my expectations exceeded by a great margin. This was a serious piece of leather. It rode beautifully on my belt, fit the Hi-Power perfectly, and kept the gun snug to my side. It was the most solid holster I'd ever seen. Likewise, the mag carrier was a VAST improvement over the Safariland carrier I'd been using.

Unfortunately, as I started to wear my holster back home, I found that the glue between the layers of leather was starting to come apart. I corresponded with Michael about this, and he was quite disconcerted about this development. I took some photos for him, and upon review he insisted that the problem be made right. I mailed the holster back to him, and he found that the issue appeared to be with the glue itself not correctly bonding to the leather, and that the holster would have to be remade entirely. Without going into too much detail, some testing was done with a different glue more suited for horsehide, and he constructed a new holster for me in short order.

The new holster arrived a few days ago, and I am quite pleased - both with the quality of Michael's leather work, and his commitment to great customer service. I got the mag carrier and flashlight scabbard (both of which I've been using since Phlegmfest) together with the holster for a photo shoot:

Here's a couple more photos of the holster:

If you're looking for some custom leather, drop Michael a line. I can't recommend him enough. Both his quality of workmanship and his customer service are top notch.