Monday, February 28, 2011
Proving that not all Europeans are bleating sheep-like statist pussies, an anti-gun national initiative was overwhelmingly defeated by Swiss voters. The initiative would have banned the age-old Swiss practice of allowing citizens to keep their army-issue weapons at home as part of the militia and would have set up a national gun registration system.
Over 56% of Swiss voters voted against the measure. Unlike its "enlightened" gun-banning neighbors, Switzerland can look forward to retaining its usual blissfully low crime rates and traditional lack of invasions and genocide. Those poor dumb mountain folk!
National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Bill Introduced
According to the NRA-ILA, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that "would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes. A state's laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within its borders." H.R. 822 was introduced by Republicrat reps Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.).
While this bill would still allow P.O.S. states like Illinois and Wisconsin and gun-banning localities to restrict carry, it's definitely an improvement over the status quo.
ATF Seeks Shotgun Import Ban
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (still just ATF) has proposed banning the importation of shotguns that it deems not suitable for the "traditional sports of hunting, trap and skeet target shooting." Unfortunately, tactical competitions (like 3-gun shoots) are NOT sports according to the ATF, so only shotguns like your granddaddy had could be imported if the ban was enacted.
The ATF is accepting comments on its proposed regulations until May 1st. Comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (202) 648-9601. All comments must include a name and mailing address.
The very first and probably most important thing is to secure your weapon against becoming jammed with snow. The manuals all just say “be careful”. I say do everything humanly possible that you can. A muzzle cap, a piece of tape over the muzzle, or the old WWII GI expedient of a condom is a must to keep even small amounts of snow out of the barrel. If you have a weapon with a dust cover, keep it closed. Keep a magazine in the well. If you have optics, get and use scope covers or caps.
Carrying your weapon on skis or snowshoes presents some unique problems to solve. The Gebirgsjaeger manual suggested:
“On skis and snowshoes weapons and equipment must be arranged in such a way that the ski trooper can take long, sliding steps and move his arms freely. The rucksack or the pack must be packed as flat as possible, with most of the weight in the bottom. No hard objects should be carried in the trouser pockets. The manner of carrying weapons depends on the degree of readiness for action required by the situation: changing from one method to another sometimes must be executed quickly and therefore must be practiced. With conventional slings, the rifle is generally slung across the back, the barrel pointing upwards to the left.”
The slung crossways-on the-back method is not much good if you have a ruck on your back. I can get by with just the crap on my LBE most of the year, but then I don’t use skis or snowshoes then anyway. In winter I have to have a ruck for over-nighters or multi-nighters, merely to combat Ma Nature, who can be quite a bitch sometimes.
Another idea: “To prevent the rifle from swinging during the march, it may be tied to the side of the pack with an auxiliary strap or carried with a double sling as shown in figure 4. When the double sling is improvised, the auxiliary strap, which leads under the left arm and across the chest, should be arranged to enable adjustment without unslinging the piece.”
I personally found a couple of solutions. With the above method, I attached camping-style bungee cords to the LBE with a D-ring carabineer. When skiing, you really do need a strap on the butt end even if you have the muzzle end of the rifle pulled over and attached. Otherwise, it doesn’t stay up on your shoulder during movement and eventually slides down where the rifle butt interferes with things.
Assault sling are also a benefit. I only use mine for slinging the weapon diagonally across the back. I’m not sure how well carrying the weapon conventionally on the front of the body with an assault sling would work. I’ll leave that for someone who doesn’t have four bad discs in his or her neck.
If you’re carrying a ruck, the first double-sling method is about the best, unless you can carry the weapon in front of the body on the assault sling. I’m sure one could find a way to keep it secure during movement with a strap/bungee and a D-ring.
In a similar note, the old school solution with a conventional sling was: “In case of an urgent battle alert, the rifle is slung around the neck in front of the body (upside down), with the barrel to the right. When in contact with the enemy, the soldier carries the rife in his right hand, ready for firing; the ski poles are carried in the left hand.”
The following is an interesting article written by a colonel in the Swiss Mountains Brigades, dating from the days of the K31 rifle:
Reduced Pack for Patrols
The successful execution of certain missions at times demands great mobility and speed. The complete pack of our modern infantry tends to be so heavy that it interferes seriously with the accomplishments of a difficult assignment.
By taking along only those objects which are indispensable to the combatant for fighting, nourishment, and shelter for a certain period of time (24 to 48 hours, for example), it is possible to cut the pack down to a reasonable weight (22 to 33 lbs, including arms and ammunition).
Our problem is to make up a simple and practical pack which is well balanced on the back of the man carrying it, making use only of the equipment employed by our army.
In offering the following solution, it seemed well and even necessary to us that both of the carrier’s hands should be free for use in skiing or climbing over rocky surfaces with the greatest possible degree of safety.
The only difficulty confronting us was how to attach the gun on the pack so that the man would be best able to bring his weapon into use, fire, and reload with the utmost speed and accuracy.
However, the solution we offer possesses one disadvantage which is of no great consequence; the soldier is able to fire only in a prone position after having removed his pack. But this disadvantage is compensated by one definite advantage; the possesses and excellent rest in any terrain, especially in snow, and the man, out of breath and exhausted by a long climb, is able to fire in a more accurate and surer manner.
The pack is very flat and rests uniformly over the whole surface of the back. The carbine does not interfere with movements of either head or legs. The construction of the pack does require, however, a little practice and care if a bad surprise is to be avoided during the course of the journey.
It will be an excellent chance for the sergeant major and the patrol commanders to check the degree of preparation of each man. “As the pack is—so is the man.”
The tests carried out while training infantry recruits in the winter on military ski patrols were entirely satisfactory from the point of view of the march as well as from the point of view of fire results.
A. Fasten the carbine and tent case firmly together in the form of a cross with the aid of a strong piece of cord. (Figs. 1 and 2).
B. Make up a pack with the 2 shoulder straps of the “mountain bag”, the 5 small straps, coat made into a roll, the tent square (containing kindling wood and paper), bread bag (containing a change of shirt, 1 pullover sweater, 1 or 2 pairs of socks, the canteen, and a little food), mess tin containing food (bread, Ovos, tea, sugar, cheese, dried fruits). The ammunition (a maximum of 48 cartridges) will be carried in the cartridge cases.
C. Fasten the tent case with the 2 upper straps of the pack. Fasten the carbine firmly to the pack with the tent rope. A slip knot will permit a quick removal of the pack.
The total weight (not including ammunition and food) is:
Mess tin, canteen and bread bag………. 2.86 lbs.
Tent square……………………………….. 3.08 lbs.
Tent case…………………………………..1.54 lbs.
Straps, etc………………………………….0.88 lbs.
In certain cases, the patrol will be provided with a snow shovel or engineers’ equipment, a first aid kit, repair equipment, ropes, an ice axe, etc., depending on the mission or the terrain.”
While I think the author over-stated his case and under-stated the true weight, one does have to strive hard to reduce weight by any means possible. The old backpacker saying is, “Take care of the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves.” The “snivel” gear must be separated from the survival gear, although I don’t personally subscribe to the old Ranger adage, “Pack light; freeze at night.”
Now, the last question is, what kind of rifle do you want to carry out there in the snow and wind? In mountains, snow-covered plains and farmland, and across the tundra and taiga, range is king. Anyone who’s known me for over five minutes will know I prefer the main battle rifle over the assault carbines. Unfortunately, range usually equates with weight.
A British brigadier summed it up best in a study on mountain warfare: “The rifle and ammunition of the soldier weigh about 15 pounds, and that can scarcely be reduced. A light rifle or carbine would not be sufficiently accurate for the long ranges that obtain in the mountains.”
There really is no perfect solution, but only an adjustment of the best compromises possible.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
“The men struggle against the blowing snow in the extreme cold crossing an open muskeg, push through dense woods, and climb steep hills instead of simply bypassing them. Their bulky clothing, the heavy packs they carry, and the overloaded sleds they pull slow the unit. Rucksacks are loaded with double sleeping bags and many other “nice to have” items. The over-snow vehicles towing overloaded cargo sleds have bogged down in guIIies and creek beds into which deep snow has drifted, because the route the unit selects has not been reconnoitered previously by a trail-breaking party on skis.
The parka hoods cover the faces of the soldiers so they are unable to observe anything. Soon many members of this unit become overheated and dehydrated followed by exhaustion. These individuals do not have necessary endurance and stamina. Some men lag far behind and among them are many who suffered frostbite, most of them with frozen toes and fingers. Major difficulties are encountered. Slowness of movement, caused by lack of trail-breaking, and problems of navigation and security are the worst. Weapons are attached to the rucksack; hence when removing the pack during the halt, many men throw the pack into the snow thus filling the barrel and breech with snow.”
Lt. Col. Erkki Lahdenpera, on how NOT to do it
Skis or snowshoes? It’s like asking Ginger or Mary Ann (Mary Ann for me, thank you.) Everyone has a little different take on the choice. You definitely can’t learn either technique from a blog entry. However, the Marine Corps cold weather manual offers some advantages and disadvantages of each mode of travel to help you decide what’s best for you.
1. Little training is required to gain a high degree of proficienct.
2. Little maintenance is required.
3. Carrying and pulling heavy loads on gentle terrain is relatively easy.
4. Movement in confined areas and around equipment is easy.
1. The rate of movement for a unit is extremely slow and inefficient in terms of energy expended.
2. Movement on moderate to steep slopes is difficult.
3. Movement through thick or cut-off brush is difficult.
1. Rate of movement is fast and efficient in terms of energy expended.
2. Carrying and pulling heavy loads on moderate to steep terrain is relatively easy (compared to snow shoeing).
3. Each skier expends less energy if done properly.
4. Movement of a ski-borne unit can be expedited.
1. To become proficient and efficient scout skier requires a lot of training.
2. Regular maintenance is required.
3. Movement in confined areas and around equipment is difficult.
Mode of travel
On foot (less than one foot of snow)
1.5 to 3 kph
2 to 3 kph
On foot (more than one foot of snow)
0.5 to 1 kph
2 to 3 kph
1.5 to 3 kph
3 to 4 kph
1.5 to 5 kph
5 to 6 kph
NOTE: Expected rates of march for troops carrying rucksacks over gently rolling terrain.
No matter the method--foot, ski, or snowshoe—the goal is mobility. With the latter two, in the depths of winter, you can pass over swamps, muskeg, bogs, streams, lakes and, at higher altitudes, blow-downs that would all be major obstacles in the summer.
This increased mobility in turn depends heavily on the soldier’s load, which needs to be as light as possible, even though harsh winter conditions can turn some snivel gear into survival gear. While this has been studied to death and the lessons learned over and over again, the U.S. military still has to figure it out every generation.
Despite quite a few initial problems, I went with skis for winter mobility. Although I do of course have snowshoes, my thinking is that skiing is a sport, while snowshoeing is merely an ordeal. Trapping marten in the backcountry, I ski but also have small lightweight aluminum snowshoes strapped to my pack. You don’t realize just how much flotation skis give you until you step off them and sink into the snow to mid-thigh.
I’m still using my big old klunky Swiss Army surplus skis. I used to have a pair of American military skis with cable bindings which seemed to be developed to work only with the infamous Mickey Mouse boots. These boots are indeed warm, but warm for stationary work, observing or sitting around an ice fishing hole or in a tree stand. I can’t think of poorer foot gear to wear when engaged in strenuous physical activity. Your feet are soon sweating, there is no way for the moisture to escape, and your footsies are soon wet. Wet feet are the quickest way to frostbite.
Reminds me of a guy we had in Germany during a month-long field problem in what was, at the time, the coldest winter they’d had in 30 years. One of our newbies tracked down the field kitchen and filled his Mickey Mouse boots with hot water, apparently on the theory the boots worked like Thermoses. I don’t think I need to tell you how well that worked out for him.
Last year, my wonderful little wifie bought me a pair of sleek new modern lightweight supposed “telemark” skis and new boots. I have yet to be impressed. As near as I can tell, they were made pretty much for just cruising up and down groomed trails; they are nowhere near durable enough for anything else, especially backcountry bush-whacking in the mountains.
They required special boots, whereas the SAS (Swiss Army Skis) can be adapted to fit most boots—I’m using mine with German Lowas. The commercial stuff has, IMHO, a rotten toe binding system useless for anything but ready-made trails. To release the binding requires pushing forward on a little plastic cap on the toe of the binding. I’ve been through three of these little plastic caps; they seem to pop off all the time. The first time I suffered this fate was on my maiden voyage recreational test drive. I was in about a foot and a half of fresh deep fluffy powder, and I needed to cross an unfrozen stream. Well, the little plastic dealie was gone. In that much powder, it was nigh impossible to see the binding, let alone figure out how to work the thing with the release knob missing. I got a little pissed and while attempting to escape, jabbing blindly at the binding with the metal tip of a ski pole while prying on the ski between two small fallen lodgepole, I managed to break the ski.
Yes, I caught hell for it, but can you imagine being in a tactical situation, taking fire, taking cover, and being unable to escape from your skis? You’re like a turtle on its back or, perhaps more appropriately, a sitting duck. Being attached to your skis in an avalanche means you’re even more screwed than usual, “usual” avalanche conditions being bad enough to begin with. To top it all off, even on pleasure cruises without gaiters the zipper on the front of the commercial boots have failed and wound up stuffed full of snow. I only use the civvy combo for light recreation trips on existing trails and don’t even go near the bush with them.
I don’t think I could break the Swiss skis if I tried. About three times thicker than my civilian wonder turds, wider, and steel-edged, I could probably build a bridge capable of supporting a deuce-and-a-half with the things. One of the primary requisites for military skis is the ability to get out of them quickly, in any position. With the Swiss skis, you can flip off the heel lever (1) in an instant either with a quick poke of the ski pole basket or with your hand. In a real emergency, there is an adjustable-poundage plate release (2) that allows you to just kick the things off.
My little accident with the civvy skis did, however, solve my greatest problem with the Swiss behemoths. They need to be waxed, which is a great big pain in the ass. I had four different waxes for four different temperature ranges, and I don’t think I ever got the wax exactly right. When the temperature changes or the sun comes out, snow conditions change and you need to switch to a different wax. In fact, even wax that’s working perfectly in the timber may be suddenly all wrong when you come out where the sun is hitting the snow. If you don’t have the wax right, you can get into the whole two steps forward and one step back mode of locomotion, repeated a few thousand times. Progress sucks and you arrive sweat-drenched and panting like a steer.
Having broken the civvy ski, I cannibalized that set, peeling off the bottom plastic fish-scale waxless layer, scraping and sanding down the wood it was still laminated to, and then attaching them to the smooth bottom of the Swiss skis with JB Weld. It didn’t work. In hind sight, I should have known it wouldn’t work due to the hard set of the stuff vs. the flex and camber of the skis. Live and learn.
Round two, I used screws. Wood screws work better than metal screws going into the Perspex and can be counter-sunk a bit to bring them level with the bottom of the ski to reduce drag and friction. This system of attachment seems to be working out just fine so far.
Voila, no more waxing and I am able to get a great deal more use out of the Swiss skis, ascend slopes much better, cover more ground more easily, and had more control. I’ve been happier than a gopher in soft dirt with them ever since.
The heavy old Swiss skis have some other excellent features that are made specifically for use and abuse in rough back country use. They feature Fritch plate-type bindings which allow you to cross-country-style “free heel”, the plate pivoting at the toe (3), or you can lock the plate down (4) like a downhill ski. It’s a compromise, as the free-heeling requires tipping your foot forward in a different manner than regular cross-country toe bindings, since the plate keeps your feet flat when they want to flex. I’ve had blisters on the balls of my feet from this during the learning curve; now I’ve learned to kind of lift the heels rather than push off the ball of the boot. I still think the plates are a good compromise all things considered.
As I said, there is an adjustable pressure-release so you can just kick out of the skis in an emergency(2). They also have heavy wire heel lifters (5: in the down position) to make it easier to go up steep heels. They come with a pair of climbing skins (6) so that you can ascend hills steep enough to need heel lifters. They have tethers (7: this is just the attachment point, tethers not pictured) you can attach to your boots so you don’t lose the skis if you wipe out, admittedly probably not quite as good as the brakes on downhill skis, but very functional. There are holes in the ski tips for attaching a cord to pull them behind you when moving tactically, or to help make them into a sled or stretcher. The weight, solidity, and steel edges enable me to bite into crusted snow of the type that the civvy skis leave me skating helplessly over the top of with little control.
So the Swiss skis are heavy; I'm willing to pay that price for bulletproof gear. Every infantryman hates weight, but shit doth happen. As long as the skis stay on your feet, the weight is less of an issue. I would still recommend these skis for tactical use for all of the above mentioned reasons, despite their weight.
One last trick most people don’t seem to know about is that the two outside pockets of the good ol’ ALICE pack have a hollow sleeve beneath the pockets made to insert skis through. When you run out of snow or into an area where skis cannot be used, you slide them into the ALICE side pocket sleeves and bind them once top and bottom, and you can carry them without worry, although it can be awkward in the dark timber with them sticking up and this is where you pay for the weight of klunky military skis.
As an aside, I never use anything bigger than a Medium ALICE. No matter how big the pack, you will always find the gear to fill it up to the top. The smaller the pack, the more you have to prioritize the gear, the less you can have, and the lighter the weight will be.
The last hurdle to surmount is how to carry a weapon while skiing. I don’t think the James Bond method of going without poles, using one ski, and firing a submachine gun in either hand would work very well for most of us.
Next go ‘round, we’ll examine the very real problem of mixing weapons and skis…safely and efficiently…which is easier said than done.
Monday, February 21, 2011
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Out here in Fly-Over Country, we're used to Eastern senators forcing edicts down our throats. If you write to those senators to weigh in on what he or she is doing outside their districts and inside yours, you get a politely-worded "F***-off. You're not in my District" letter, so you have no say in regards to what they are enacting upon you. Smacks of taxation without representation.
Anyway, the 10th Amendment of that pesky ol' Bill of Rights is rearing it's head again over wolf "management" in the "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem". IIRC, when the wolves were re-introduced, the government and eco-fascists who signed on to the program agreed the goal was: "To remove the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf from the endangered and threatened species list by securing and maintaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs in each of the three recovery areas for a minimum of three successive years." At one of the early meetings on the reintroduction subject, a dog-and-pony show where locals got to voice their opinions before they were ignored, I remember one old rancher's preemptive "I told you so."
"You watch." He said. "Every time we hit these agreed-upon number limits, they'll just raise the bar."
Ten years and a thousand wolves (official Fed.gov artificially very low number) after the initial reintroduction, they were still raising the bar, and Federal judges were still insisting that the wolf was "endangered". The pesky ol' States of the Union naturally have no say in what goes on with woofs in their own backyard.
Of course, it's not just Montana. In 1995, 66 wolves were reintroduced in Idaho with a goal of 10 breeding pairs to call the program successful and take them off the endangered list. Over a thousand wolves and around 50 separate breeding packs later, you guessed it, they're still endangered.
(NWMT=Northwest Montana, GYA=Greater Yellowstone Area, CID=Central Idaho)
These things breed like rats. Two packs in our valley have been "managed" by the government in our area for stock predation in the last couple of years, one just this past summer; another pack has already moved in. A friend whose family had outfitted guided hunts out of Gardiner, MT for three generations told me five years ago that his brother sold the business and quit. Hunters won't pay money to hunt elk where they no longer exist; he was talking three calves surviving per hundred head of elk. So much for "they improve herd health by taking only the sick, lame, and lazy."
We once came upon a cow elk which strangely would not get up even as we approached; she could barely raise her head a bit to look at us. We took a closer look to see if she was sick or what. Turns out wolves had ham-strung her back legs, crippling her, and then had torn the calf fetus out of her stomach and eaten it, leaving her (barely) alive.
The head of the Fed wolf program (whose predictions thus far have been considerably less accurate than those of an Ouija Board), has been trying to dodge doing any predation studies during calving season because he knows what the results will be, but says not to worry. The wolves and elk will "regulate" themselves. When the elk numbers fall, so will the wolf numbers. Bullshit. When they wipe out a herd they just move to the next drainage and take out the next herd...and the next...and when the elk run out it's time to come down out of the hills and take out livestock...all the while reproducing exponentially, worse than registered voters in Chicago.
Life-long campers and visitors in my area, especially in the willow heavy drainages, have asked me, "Where are all the moose? We used to see them all the time up here. We could go out in the evening and always see several; now we haven't seen any all this summer."
The moose are now part of the hair you find in the wolf turds around the area. In the winter, when the snow gets belly deep on the long-legged moose, they can hardly move. Then the wolf packs help themselves.
The fern-feelers insist that humans are the only animals that kill "for fun" and that wolves only kill just what they can eat and actually improve the herd health by taking only the unfit animals. Not knowing this, wolves have been known to lay into a herd of sheep (after killing the Great Pyrenees dogs or llamas protecting the herd) and slaughter 10 or 15 sheep but only eat 2 or 3. Or sometimes 41 sheep. Or perhaps 120 sheep in a single night. A pack can get into a killing frenzy, doing lots of "thrill kills", when it comes to easy targets, and they'll do this to any group of critters they can corner. All kinds of livestock and pets are popular targets, whether they bother to eat them or not.
Of course, every time it happens the wolf lovers scream "wild dogs". Never mind the fact that no one has ever actually seen any of these roving swarms of escaped wiener dogs and black labs...but they have sure seen plenty of wolves. Never mind that plaster casts reveal footprints bigger than Great Pyrenees or Great Danes, leaving one to wonder just what in the hell breed it is of invisible wild dogs are swarming the ranchlands. An "unconfirmed" wolf kill means that everyone from the rancher's grandkids to the local game warden easily identifies it as an obvious wolf kill but then some big shot from the Feds comes down to investigate and says, "No, it must have been a renegade Chihuahua." The Oregon Stockman's Association claims only one in seven wolf kills is reported as such.
Meanwhile, while wolf "recovery" goals continue to inflate in excess of ten times the supposedly agreed-upon original number, the granola-crunchers and their pet Federal judges of the 9th Circus Court (based in California but having jurisdiction over our area) continue to keep the wolves on the "endangered" list and prevent the Rocky Mountain states from managing their own wildlife. Hard to believe Fed.gov not only fudges their figures, but they won't even stand by their own numbers...NOT.
As to those numbers, the government officially says there's 1,700 wolves in the northern Rockies. Just like unemployment figures, you need to double that to get an accurate count. Even Montana FW&P says real numbers may exceed official numbers by as much as 44%. Some sportsman's groups put the number closer to 5,000. As Will Rogers said, "There's liars, damn liars and statisticians."
People out here have had about enough. Wyoming has been telling the Feds to stick it for years. Idaho and Montana had a limited hunt last year, but the bunny-huggers got it tied back up in Federal court and shut down. With niceties and asking the Feds and eco-fascists to live up to their own agreements having failed, the states are fed up with Feds and telling Washington to go take a flying...telling them to bugger off.
So now, the state of Idaho said to hell with it. The governor told State game wardens to forget about arresting wolf "poachers" or even investigating wolf killings.
Now, Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer is similarly telling the Feds to take a hike.
Hearteningly, this is but one of many instances of individual members of these United States telling the Feds to butt out of things far beyond their Constitutional reach...unfunded mandates, healthcare, sovereignty, firearms, law enforcement, and more. It's long overdue.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Niall Ferguson (who I still can't believe works at Harvard) hands PMSNBC's talking chimp Mika Brzeznski her ass on a platter, showing that the media's propaganda Newspeak and the president's Random Platitude Generator are no match for the power of the human intellect, on those rare occasions a thinking person is allowed to speak on TV.
How dare he go off script and refute the Party Line like that! I don't think they'll be inviting Niall back again anytime soon.
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Hope and Change!" "Yes We Can!" "Gimmee Money!"
To hell with that noise. For real change I prefer, "Who is John Galt?"
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand has long been a kind of manifesto for Libertarians. It is a masterful and brilliant 500-page epic done in 1,000 pages:) Still, everyone should read it once in their lifetime, which is about how long it took me to read it.
All joking aside, you really need to read it. At the time it was written, 1957, it was inconceivable that America wouldn't even have a railroad or steel industry, but I guess one could argue that we still do, even though there are only two foundries left who can make armor quality steel. At any rate, the political and social aspects of the book are terrifying spot on. When I read parts of it, a chill went down my spine as I could have been reading today's headlines (and the real story behind the headlines). I put it up there with my other rebellious/libertarian/anarchist/anti-establishment favorite books and movies such as Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, Unintended Consequences, Catch-22, About Face, V for Vendetta, The Matrix, (the Mel Gibson one, not the Stephen Seagal one, eh) and Braveheart & The Patriot, and Annotated Minutes of the Italian Parliament.
The question is, can the left-wing kook capital of the world, Hollyweird, pull this off without screwing it up eight ways from Tuesday and turning it into an anti-Atlas Shrugged, making it just another Socialist/Communist/Multi-Cultural Propaganda wet dream. You know, like Tom Clancy's Sum of All Fears where they didn't dare portray terrorists as Muslims and instead substituted the ridiculous hackneyed old "Fourth Reich Nazis Hiding Underground Since 1945" boogie-man. On the plus side, talk was originally bandied about of Angelina Jolie being involved and/or playing the main character, Dagney Taggart. Apparently, she is out of the picture, which bodes well for less Socialism and more freedom in the movie.
There doesn't seem to be much detailed information on producer/financier John Aglialoro or director Paul Johansson. It's probably too much to hope for that they're a couple of Hollyweird's underground conservatives who are coming out of the closet, the next John Milius and Mel Gibson. But hey, I can dream, can't I?
We shall see. If the usual leftist Hollyweird movie critics lambaste Atlas, I will immediately be out to door to go see it on such an iron-clad recommendation.
In case they do screw it up, here's a brief excerpt from the real Atlas Shrugged, so you'll know what it's supposed to be.
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."
Thursday, February 10, 2011
FN FAL TOP 10 PROJECTS, PART I
I love to tinker with my toys. Especially when it’s cold and damp out and I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s time to get that quadruple fusion done on my neck. My wife sometimes erroneously refers to this as “puttering around the house”. I must point out that only old men putter. I brilliantly re-engineer ingenious solutions. My favorite projects have been to improve the performance of my supposedly “junk” CAI Franken-FAL, which has already proven capable of 1 MOA at surprising ranges. I either won a crapshoot, or they aren’t as bad as most folks say they are.
At any rate, here are a few ideas for my fellow old FALcohalics to putter around the house with to make the good ol' FAL/STG58/L1A1 even more user-friendly.
1. Recoil buffer: Cheap, easy to install, reduces wear on guts, slightly reduces recoil. One reviewer claimed this thingie reduced how far his FAL ejected the brass, but since mine throws them halfway out of the county anyway, I don’t consider this a particular “problem”. Well worth your $15.
3. Remove bipod: Sell it on gunbroker. Use the money to buy more ammo. Or not. It may actually work on your particular FAL, but I have never been a big fan of bipods, and in decades of hunting I have found the instances in which I could actually go prone, still see the target, and use the bipod are very few indeed. SHTF, you may find that you can’t make every single shot from the prone with the bipod. You need to know, as the Brits in Malaysia and the light infantry boys in Rhodesia, to shoot from all positions. A bipod mounted on a free-floating stock which does not touch the barrel itself, ala sniper rifles, actually works. A bipod like the FAL/STG’s is mounted directly to the barrel, steel on steel, which can do nasty things to barrel harmonics and degrade accuracy. At long ranges, the bullets’ point of impact without bipod versus with bipod is readily noticeable. Plus its removal shaves close to a pound of weight from the weapon, which is not exactly light.
A bipod is right handy on a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), automatic rifle, or light machine gun, but then these weapons are supposed to have dispersal of bullets into a beaten zone. If you’re a wealthy Class III kind of guy, an FAL with the Israeli heavy barrel and bipod with the 30-round mags actually works pretty well as a suppressive fire critter somewhere between the old American BAR and the British Bren Gun. The Aussies, Canadians, Israelis and a few others used heavy barrel FALs as SAWs. And these guys have 50-round drum magazines available now, oh so tacti-cool and guaranteed to give you a big woody. If anyone here can figure out how to get the little wife to allow you to buy one of these, please let me in on the secret immediately.
I’ve never tried it, but I always thought it would be pretty cool to try one of those with a heavy barrel FAL off the bipod and one of those little Gat trigger cranks to see how it would work as a legal home-made ersatz SAW of your own, as opposed to a battle rifle. Of course, I can only afford so many toys, so I haven’t been able to give this idea a good going over. I suspect the Gat would not be rugged enough for extended field use.
But I digress. And, as is usually the case when I digress, I don’t care.4. Trigger job. A good trigger is probably the single most important factor to good shooting. As Jeff Cooper said, by dint of hard work a real rifleman can do good work with a bad trigger just as a marathon runner can compete with a 50-pound ruck on his back, but it’s not what either would choose to do given an alternative.
DSA, which is THE name in FALs, has a Speed Trigger and a Match Grade Set Trigger for $175 and $250 respectively. Entreprise, a company which initially had a bad rep but now seems to be quite diligently improving on their products, can “adjust” your trigger for $85 or has a Match Grade Trigger with set-back for $75. There are some gunsmiths out there who can also do wonders with a FAL trigger but although their prices can be reasonable, the shipping quickly adds up as well.
For the do-it-yourselfer, the first and easiest step is to install the Falcon Arms FAL trigger spring kit. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I didn’t know my FAL inside and out, Mark introduced me to this. Falcon makes good shit, and swapping out the springs is easy enough, and they do indeed reduce the poundage on your trigger pull, which can be as heavy as 9 pounds or so on some FALs.
Now it’s lighter, but still a little creepy and spongy. There’s still plenty you can do yourself. Here’s the advice from the Canadian Army Shooting Team, you hosers:
a. Polish the bents of the hammer and sear with crocus cloth or a fine stone, taking care to maintain existing angles.
b. Reduce the depth of the bent of the hammer by removing metal from surface “A” until the required weight is obtained. It is important that bearing surfaces be highly polished to avoid friction.
c. Now kick back with a two-four of Elsinore, eh.
I polish the living hell out of all the contact points till they’re smooth as a baby’s bottom. I start with a very fine small Arkansas knife stone and finish up with lots and lots of polishing with a soft buffing wheel on a Dremmel tool. If you don’t have special polishing compound, you can use case polish from your reloading bench or Soft Scrub.
The trigger plunger pin is easy. I don’t know how much effect it actually has on the trigger pull, but I make mine shine. Wrap it with a little masking tape, chuck it into your drill, add polish, and then polish away with the finest grade steel wool. Repeat process on the other end. Then polish the living hell out of the knob on the trigger end that fits into the socket on the back of the trigger.
5. Shooting Sling: Thanks mainly to the Appleseed Program (if you haven’t been to one, shame on you) many shooters in this country are rediscovering the very, very useful art of the shooting sling. The old US Army manuals said this system improves your shooting by at least 30%, Timothy Mullin likens it to an 8-ounce bench rest, and the late great Jack O’Conner called it one of mankind's great inventions in the same league with fire and the wheel.
But there is a problem with shooting the FAL/L1A1 with a tight sling. The sling swivel is mounted directly on the barrel, and near the muzzle end. Horsing down on the barrel at that point in real shooting sling hold will pull your shot group low and left for you normal folks and low and right for us southpaws. What’s a boy to do?
Fortunately, in answer to the prayers of FALcohalics everywhere, I personally am working on a quick and easy solution so brilliant that it may change life as we know it and maybe even cure male pattern baldness. But wait there’s more. It’s not found in any store. Order now and you also receive a set of ginsu knives and a handy appliance that will scramble an egg while it’s still inside it’s shell!
Unfortunately, this idea is still in the puttering stage. In the meantime, here’s a neat trick from the Aussie Army for the web sling. Pull the sling straight back towards the receiver, make a half hitch around the handguard, and then go about your business using it as a shooting sling. You'll need to practice throwing that half hitch on there quickly, but it works. The most common American web slings, however, can be a tad short for the really tall and/or "large-boned" folks. The Aussie shooters who used with method modified the longer Bren Gun sling to use in this manner.
Now, for those of you who still insist on using the M16/AR15 platform instead, HERE is a product you may wish to try out.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
The epidemic of vehicle violence is turning our once hunky-dory nation into a festering bag of puke! According to the latest online statistics that I could find without much effort, there are about 33,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. Compare that with about 642 accidental gun deaths and you see the scope of the problem. It's clear that mere licensing and registration of vehicles is not enough, politicians need to quit being wussies and implement a complete ban!
Unfortunately, such bold but necessary action is not likely forthcoming. Our government has entered into an unholy alliance with automakers (big car) and are kept in check by a powerful car lobby (like the AAA). The Obama administration is so infatuated with automobiles that they took over a car maker of their own and have promised an emphasis on building small, fuel-efficient shitbox cars that will surely cause a rise in highway fatalities.
The vehicle lobby spews its venomous message of "a car in every garage" and continues to encourage the use of these destructive devices by children as young as 16. (Some states allow their use by children as young as 14, while parents watch complacently.)
If you don't think that the vehicle lobby is out of control, consider the chilling responses I got from William "Bud" Anderson who works for AAA, one of the nation's largest vehicle extremist groups, during a recent telephone interview:
Anderson: Groundskeeping department; this is Bud.
Me: How can you f**king extremists justify allowing civilian automobile ownership when there are over 30,000 vehicular deaths every year?
Anderson: [Long pause.] Are you high on something, fella?
Me: Vicodin and Wild Turkey. And I'm not wearing any pants.
Anderson: Is this that creepy blog guy again?
Me: [Coyly] I'dunno.
Anderson: You need to leave me alone or I'm gonna call the police.
Me: If you control the grammar you control the world, Bud. I am the trumpeteer of our destiny!
Anderson: [Clattering sound of a telephone receiver being put hurriedly back onto the cradle.]
How can you reason with an organization so rigidly entrenched in its own twisted dogma?
While a ban on vehicles in unlikely at this time, there are a few common-sense measures that those of us who are smarter and more compassionate than the unwashed masses can demand that Congress enact now, while we bide our time. Here they are:
Common Sense Measure #1: Ban the sale of military-style "assault vehicles" except to appropriate military and law enforcement groups. Vehicles such as the "Jeep" and "Hummer" were designed for military use and have no legitimate civilian use.
Common Sense Measure #2: Limit the capacity of all civilian vehicles to 10 miles per hour or less. The only reason someone would want to go faster than that is to kill people!
Common Sense Measure #3: Shutdown so-called "car shows" where knuckle-dragging troglodytes go to ogle the latest (and most lethal) machinery of destruction.
These laws could all be enacted under the authority of the U.S. Constitution's "general welfare" and "interstate commerce" clauses, two provisions that the framers included in the Constitution that conveniently negate the entire rest of the document.
If Congress enacts all of these things I still won't be satisfied, but it would be a decent start. Let's do it for the children. I can't wait to tell Bud!
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
H/T to Jim over at Real World Libertarian.
A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that a news story broadcast by CCTV (the Red Chinese government's own official state-run network--think PBS without Red Green), purports to show the Red Air Force testing a new air-to-air missile. Only problem is, the footage of the target being destroyed just happened to come from the movie Top Gun.
While Western mainstream journalists insist that all Communist propaganda is completely true, American intelligence experts believe that the Chinese government is not above faking and suppressing news. This could make other Communist broadcasts suspect, claims an anonymous CIA expert.
For instance, a frame-by-frame dissection of the Korean War-vintage Red Chinese documentary Chairman Mao Personally Takes to the Air to Wipe the Imperial Yankee Pig Dogs' Jets From the Skies and Liberate the People's Republic of North Korea From the Capitalist Aggressor Swine reveals what could be doctored images, say Air Force Intelligence officials.
The film, purporting to show Chairman Mao personally shooting down American F-86 Sabre jets over Korea, appears to have some discrepancies, according to the Air Force.
Spokesperson Eileen Left from the news agency Reuters disagrees with Air Force officials, insisting the images are as real as those taken by their own award-winning photojournalists, such as Adnan Hajj. Al Jazeera, the Jihad Journal, also vouched for the Chinese film's authenticity, comparing it to their own live footage of American A-10 aircraft deliberately targeting and destroying their camera crews.
Here are the disputed Chinese film frames. Judge for yourself.