The "tactical" industry has been overrun by the use of the word "operator." It's been used too much in advertising for too long, but this has perhaps had a trickle-down effect, to the point where random people on the internet kick the word operator around like it's a ball on some dirty third world street. I've even seen people refer to me as an operator, which, quite frankly, horrifies me (and also caused me to write this article).
In the purest sense of the word (and leaving out the kind of operators that sit at a switchboard or who make computer systems operate or whatever), an operator is a person who has, among many other things, completed the Operator Training Course, run by very cool parts of the US Army. The term later was used to describe other SOF personnel, which, I guess, is still a bunch of hard dudes, but then everyone else caught on, and now you can't spend 15 minutes browsing gun and gear sites without finding some reference to the equipment "allowing the operator to execute critical mission blah blah blah," and that's not even in advertising, just some guy's blog.
An operator is not anyone who may or may not have been in the military, is not obese, can shoot an AR-15 without falling over backwards, wears Oakleys, and owns a plate carrier.
It's possible that the term is simply being used to describe the physical operation of something - which is fine, I guess - or it's there to give readers a tactical hardon. I guess some people get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when they read these sorts of things, but come on. The simple fact is that I'm not an operator, you're (probably) not an operator, and people need to stop making themselves feel special by calling each other operator.
When I started this blog, it was to put out good information, reliable information that every shooter could use. I didn't want to dumb down what I put out so that the bottom 10% could understand it, and I didn't want to make it so technical and hard to read that only the top 10% could understand it or cared enough to try to understand it.
I understood from the outset that people might take my opinions and advice into consideration when making purchases, so I've focused on being right above all else. I've tried to be concise, because your time is valuable, but some things just require additional explanation. I try to attack problems from a number of sides - the technical, as I am reasonably intelligent and have an eye for detail, but also the practical, for I have been deployed and understand what's really important about gear or firearms that might see hard use.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and I've reaped amazing and wholly unexpected benefits from my efforts. One thing I didn't expect was getting a job with a big internet retailer of ammo - LuckyGunner. Among other things, I have recently become the most visible part of the team for their new blogging effort. The new LuckyGunner Labs is a project that will, among interesting stuff put out by some of my coworkers, allow me to create and research and test things that I basically didn't have the resources to do on my own.
I say "me" and "I" - but it's not just me. Having people with an eye for perfection (and the power to withhold a paycheck!) look over my work with a critical eye has improved the quality of what I put out by leaps and bounds. And the other people I work with are very skilled - working with Chris, who makes great videos, has definitely forced me to step up my game on that front.
The first big project (and it has been a BIG project) is an in-depth look at what the real differences between 5.56 and .223 are. It's a topic that I have been considering and experimenting with for years, but without hard data, my lone voice would have been lost in a sea of opinions on the internet. Thanks to LG - and Paul and Brian and Maciej, who I have been working closely with for months - not only has the technical aspect of the content been thoroughly researched, but it's packaged in such a way that it should appeal to a broad audience, and manageable enough for the vast majority of shooters to understand, should they take the time to do so.
I would not be a good person if I didn't mention the assistance of other folks, outside of LG, who helped make this report what it is. Firearms historian Daniel E. Watters of TheGunZone provided a lot of historical and technical information, as well as insight into the project. Cagen and Thad of Barnes Bullets were invaluable in their assistance in verifying the pressure data and went several extra miles in conducting additional pressure testing with their equipment. I can't remember the name of the ballistician at H.P. White, my apologies - but he was extremely helpful and insightful, too. My friends Zach, Nick, Caleb, and Aaron proof-read early drafts of the article or offered technical assistance, and Mike the rocket scientist very rightly tore apart the way I had written it the first time around.
I certainly hope that this will continue for the time being - I don't see myself as a gun blogger or gun journalist for life, but I'm not done yet.
The only Dillon Blue Press article I've ever read was a passioned defense of the revolver, which criticized automatics for being finicky and unreliable. Revolvers were described as essentially perfect, although the author conceded that automatics could carry more rounds between reloads. I have since thrown away all the Blue Presses I get, with the exception of the one that had Julie Goloski-Golob on the cover (she's no fake "gun girl"), and the one with my friend Meredith on the cover with one of her 50 BMGs (she's also no fake "gun girl," and she's my friend).
Revolver maniacs don't just exist in the print media world. I was at the range several years ago when I overheard a few competition shooters arguing about whether revolvers or automatics were more reliable. After about half an hour of mostly useless back and forth discussion, I interjected with a simple statement: during the final US Army pistol trials which resulted in the selection of the Model 1911 pistol, the Colt 1911 fired all six thousand rounds without a malfunction, while the service revolver had several malfunctions in the same number of rounds (this was the first and last time a 1911 didn't malfunction). Unfortunately, my interjection of fact only stimulated more vigorous (and useless) debate.
The common belief among a few diehard revolver fanatics is that because the revolver does not have to feed or eject cartridges in the same manner that automatic pistols do, or because the revolver is somehow "simpler" than the automatic, it is better than the auto. Their idea of "better" is, of course, esoteric.
Revolvers remain mechanical objects, and are subject to problems arising from manufacturing defects, parts failures, ammunition failures, improper maintenance, and user abuse - just like pistols. While the casual observer might believe that because the revolver does not appear to have as many moving parts as the automatic, inferring from this that the revolver is therefore more reliable, the revolver is in fact a fairly intricate design, the proper function of which is based on a number of small, moving parts.
Abuse of a revolver, including spinning the cylinder and then slamming or snapping it shut, can cause damage and render the weapon nonfunctional. Similarly, dropping a revolver with the cylinder open can render it nonfunctional. I would go so far as to say that when it comes to physical abuse, revolvers are significantly more susceptible to damage than automatics.
Poorly made revolvers can have all sorts of issues that one would normally not ever conceive of. I have personally seen a revolver with a barrel which fractured just forward of the topstrap and separated from the rest of the weapon. The owner said it flew about fifteen feet downrange after he fired a few hundred rounds. Yes, it was a Taurus.
I have owned, carried, and depended on revolvers. I still carry a Smith & Wesson J-frame quite often. I do so for specific purposes, knowing the limitations of the platform. I also think revolvers look cool and thoroughly enjoy target shooting with a revolver that has a very nice single action trigger.
I would urge anyone who still believes, in the 21st century, that revolvers are superior to automatics as defensive or fighting handguns to strongly consider the facts about revolvers and the state of automatic pistols today. Also, you're insane.
This is not a review of the SCAR-H or SCAR-17S. It is a brief explanation of why I like the weapon system. It could almost be condensed into a Facebook post - but not quite. I will avoid a technical discussion in the interests of brevity.
Put simply, the 7.62X51 SCAR does what it was intended to do at a competitive price.
Although the AR-10 platform preceded the AR-15 platform, the latter has had considerably more refinement, development, and market competition. Thus, you are able to purchase a 5.56 AR-15 that could conceivably fulfill the exact same role as a SCAR-L or SCAR-16S for a fraction of the price of the SCAR. As a result, I find little point to straining one's finances in order to buy a SCAR-16S instead of a Colt 6920 and a pile of ammo.
However, if you want a truly reliable, durable, and accurate modern .308/7.62x51 battle rifle, you are essentially forced to look at expensive options - in my opinion, the lower priced .308 ARs are not acceptable. The SCAR-17S compares very favorably on price to some of the other options on the market. The platform is functional, reliable, durable, accurate, compact, lightweight, easy to maintain, and easy to operate. It is not without a few drawbacks and it requires a different, or perhaps similar yet more concentrated, technique to keep on target during full auto fire. But it is an excellent weapon.
I think the military has come to many of the same conclusions about this family of weapons, albeit for slightly different reasons.
So Father's Day is here, and I figured I would write an article about my dad. He has been the inspiration for many of the things I have done in my life.
Born in Canada, he came to the United States at 15. He graduated from high school in Reno and joined the Army, where he was an armorer for a mechanized infantry unit. He left the Army before the start of the Vietnam War and used the GI Bill to advance his flying career. He met my mother while working as a flight instructor, then worked overseas as a pilot (he's also an A&P and IA). He flew Cessna 310s and Douglas DC-3s in Saudi Arabia, more 310s in Chad and other locations in central Africa, and Bell 47s in Lebanon. He also worked as a bush pilot in Canada, flying Cessna 180s and 185s in remote areas.
I wanted to recount a few of the aviation-related incidents he's dealt with, which explains some of my extreme admiration for him.
- While flying a Beech 18 across the Atlantic Ocean, adverse weather and icing forced him and the rest of the crew to descend to a very low altitude. Not sure if he was going to have to ditch the airplane, he had the co-pilot inspect the emergency equipment that had been put in the back of the plane by their employer. Finding that all of it was labeled "for training use only," they decided to push on, and successfully reached their destination.
- Having been hired to drop leaflets over Beirut, he was returning to the airport when the passenger in his Bell 47G3B1 threw a cardboard box out of the helicopter. The box hit the tail rotor, which my dad felt through the controls, but there were no other effects. Upon landing, they discovered that the tab on the tail rotor (which serves to indicate damage) had been bent backwards 180 degrees.
- Immediately after takeoff, the right engine of his Turbo 310 died (the cause was later determined to be a fuel line problem). The flight instructor in the right seat said he didn't think they would make it back on the ground safely, but my dad got the plane turned around and landed without incident.
I could go on for a while with other incidents, but I think you get the point. Oh, and he built us a cabin in Alaska in the middle of winter (some photos here). He once had to shoot a bear from about five feet away, but that was in Canada, not Alaska. He turned 70 this year, but just a few years ago, he and a friend went on a snowmobile trip north of the Arctic Circle to recover a wrecked airplane. Yes, in the middle of winter. Yes, he's a badass.
Let's not forget the "little things," either - teaching me how to fish, how to hold a baseball bat, how to drive a stick shift, how to fly an airplane, how to safely maneuver a small boat, how to work on cars (and airplanes and boats). And, as it's quite relevant to this blog, he took me shooting for the first time - a 12ga side by side shotgun, a .357 Magnum revolver, and a .303 bolt action rifle - although his attempt to "scare me away from guns" as a child by having me shoot really powerful (for a 5 year old) firearms clearly did not work.
I always manage to be at loggerheads with him about something, but I always have respect for him and what he's done and how he's raised me, and I'll always love him.