Monthly Archives: April 2013

Vuurwapen Blog Firearm Essay Contest Winners

Due to some unforeseen issues, it took a long time for me to be able to publicly select and acknowledge the winners of the essay contest I announced on Facebook late last year. I announced the contest on Facebook and made it open only to those who had already “liked” the blog because it was not an attempt to inflate the number of “likes” on Facebook. I wanted to spend my own money to reward those who already followed my work and showed intellectual prowess.

As it turned out, it was a pretty difficult decision. There were no bad essays turned in – and there were more than those mentioned here. Of course I wanted to reward everyone, but in the end decided on three prizes.

Here are the winners and the prizes:

1st Place – Terence Nelan – Case of .22LR (6300 rounds)
2nd place – Matthew TY – 5 30rd Lancer mags
3rd place – Francis Sullivan – AR bolt and BCM GFH

And the beginning of each essay (see link for full version):

Gun Control as Race Control in the United States
Terence Nelan

This essay summarizes the legislative efforts by the white power structure in the United States to keep minority populations disarmed, and therefore more easily controlled. Although white concern over the possession of arms pre-dates the founding of the American republic, with even free blacks required licenses to possess or carry arms in Britain’s North American Colonies, this essay will begin just after the Revolutionary War Period.

Gun Control and Minorities
Matthew TY

Since the birth of the United States, gun control laws have been implemented to control or prevent minorities from keeping and bearing arms. To better understand the history of gun control laws passed with the intent to prevent and regulate the minority ownership of firearms in the proper context they have been categorized into laws passed within three distinct eras. These eras are Pre-Civil War America (1776 – 1861), Post-Civil War America (1861 – 1910), and Modern America (1910-present).

M9 Pistol Trials
Francis Sullivan

The JSSAPC tests in 1980 and 1984 to find the US military’s replacement to the M1911 service pistol are the source of many angst-ridden remarks throughout firearm internet forums. Allegations of foul play range from simple beliefs of favoritism to full-on tin foil hat level conspiracy theories. This essay will analyze the procedure and results of the 1980 and 1984 competitions in order to find the most severe problem with their design or execution.

Gear List and Info For Vuurwapen/Deliberate Dynamics AR-15 Course

As mentioned previously, I will be co-teaching an AR-15 course in Utah over Memorial Day Weekend. It will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 25/26. Here’s some info for those who may be interested in the course:

It’d be best to fly in to Salt Lake City on Friday evening, we should be able to pick everyone up from the airport. The range location is about 15 miles north of Tremonton, Utah. It’s pretty remote and the whole range is approximately 55,000 acres. This will let us do a lot of really interesting shooting.

With 55,000 acres and an 1800 yard known distance range, there will be no shortage of territory in which to learn.

Breakfast on Saturday will be at 0730, class starts at 0830. We will do some shooting at night on Saturday, but there will be a number of breaks throughout the day. We plan to wrap up Sunday late afternoon, but we’ll be around Sunday night in case anyone wants extra instructional portions or more one-on-one coaching.

The lodge where students will sleep and classroom portions will be held.

The cost of the class is $300. Lodging is available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, up to you as to when you stay there, it’ll just be $50 per night to cover lodging and food. The rooms have bunk beds, so you’ll probably have a roommate.

Payment can be by check or credit card – we’ll be setting up a “product” on the Deliberate Dynamics webpage that can be purchased, if you’d like to pay by CC.

As for equipment, it’s pretty simple:

Rifle with sling
400rds ammo
3 magazines and one magazine pouch
Flashlight (weapon mounted preferred)
Eye/ear protection (day and night lenses)
Bag, backpack, OR bipod (bipod not required)
Sturdy clothing appropriate for outdoor use in potentially inclement weather
Kneepads/elbowpads might come in handy
At least two and preferably three sets of footwear are recommended (boots, shoes, and flip flops or shower shoes for the lodge)

All experience levels are welcome. We have a curriculum that new and seasoned shooters will learn a lot from. As long as you can handle firearms safely, you’ll be most welcome at the class.

I'm Teaching An AR15-Centric Training Course

Next month – over Memorial Day Weekend, May 25/26 – I will be teaching a class which will largely relate to the AR-15 platform. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, and a fantastic opportunity has presented itself. Sniper Country in northern Utah offers a phenomenal environment for shooting – with a known-distance range out to 1800 yards – as well as a lodge which students may stay in as well as use for classroom portions.

The course has been designed to fill gaps left by other training courses that do not or cannot address certain skills and types of knowledge relating to the AR-15 rifle. The unique environment in which this class is held will allow the student to push themselves and their firearm beyond what they might have thought possible.

There will be an emphasis on making the time and ammunition invested by the student count. Students will receive a significant amount of classroom instruction which will be reinforced by range time tailored establish the skills discussed in the classroom. Marksmanship will take precedence over a high volume of fire, but the skills learned during the class may be applied to all aspects of shooting with an AR-15. Unique evaluation and feedback methods will be used to ensure that every student is learning and developing as much as possible throughout the course.

Classroom time will also be devoted to helping the student gain a higher understanding of the rifle – seeing it as a system, not as an assembly of discrete components. Through this process, the student will move from basic manipulation of the rifle’s controls to a thorough understanding of how and why the rifle functions – and malfunctions – as it does. The ultimate goal of the class is to enable the student to use their rifle in a variety of environments and situations with maximum effectiveness.

Because education is a primary consideration, two instructors will ensure that each student receives the instruction they need to develop necessary skills and knowledge. Jim Staley and I will be teaching the class. Jim was a Scout/Sniper in 1st Force Recon. My bio may be found at the “about” link on this blog.

The round count will be under 400 of centerfire rifle (.223/5.56/5.45 recommended). Price is $300 plus $50 per night for food/lodging (optional, but considering location, it’s a pretty good deal).

Temple, TX PD vs. Army MSGT

I like seeing the whole picture when I try to make up my mind about something.

When evaluating conduct between citizens and LE, it’s helpful to see video of the entire event. In the case of the Temple PD and that Army E-8, we don’t have the whole event on video. Just what appears to be a clash of egos. I instinctively dislike fat and/or disheveled cops (you may call me prejudiced, but any uniform should be worn with pride, not slovenliness). Furthermore, I don’t like an attitude among some in law enforcement that armed civilians are suspect. Fortunately, most cops don’t fall into either category.

That said, I also tend to dislike people who act irrationally when presented with something they don’t like. It dilutes any moral/legal high ground they may have had in the face of unjust action by a police officer. I also dislike people who think they won’t get any response when they sling an AR and walk around in anything but the most remote areas. Even if it’s perfectly legal in your area, most people don’t know that, and even many cops may be unaware of your behavior being legal and not probable cause for a stop. Unless you’re out there specifically to make a point about open carry – well, if you are out there for that purpose, then you definitely shouldn’t make the sort of statements the Army SNCO appears to have made. See my above comment about rational behavior.

When this person also has a history of making things up – then makes claims/charges that cannot be corroborated by their video – I become skeptical and do not wish to take a side.

I was once told by a state trooper during a traffic stop that if I reached for the handgun on my passenger seat, “it’s over.” The next words out of his mouth were “Now hand it to me.”

I could have thrown a hissy fit about “being disarmed” – or pointed out the cognitive dissonance involved in his statements. Shortly thereafter, I might have ended up with a free bullet or two from that trooper’s .40 caliber Sig, which he had his hand on in its holster, retention lever down. Or been arrested for some random charge, or gotten a much bigger traffic citation than he ended up writing.

But I chose to tell him verbally that I would pick it up with my left hand and pass it over. Then I did exactly that. He calmed down, we had a nice talk, and I ended up with no points on my license.

Sometimes, when dealing with police, it’s better to momentarily comply with their instructions than it is to make a mountain out of a molehill. If you so desire, you may contest the actions of the officer later without a high risk of damage to your person, your finances, or your career.

Gun Owners Need To Police Themselves

I think gun owners can and should play a role in identifying potential mass killers. We’re the people who will in some way encounter a lot of murderers before they act, and we know what stands out. When it’s appropriate, we need to discuss relevant facts with the proper authorities. That’s not to say we should report anyone and everyone for anything that looks mildly odd, but if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, you should act on that feeling.

Five Tips For Precision Rifle Shooting On A Budget

As firearm and ammunition costs have skyrocketed recently and once-common items have become… uncommon, accomplishing anything related to shooting is now extremely difficult. This is especially true for something that was already not particularly cheap. Case in point: precision rifle shooting, or long-range rifle shooting.

Long range shooting is fun. You should try it sometime.

Of course, “long range” is a relative term. If you rarely shoot your AR-15 past 25 yards, then hitting something at 300 might seem like a daunting obstacle. At the other end of the spectrum, guys shooting .375 CheyTac practically need satellite imagery to hit targets at the extreme end of their maximum effective range.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll cover shooting out to 600 yards, which is enough of a challenge to keep seasoned shooters on their toes without being too difficult for a new shooter to consider. As I occasionally shoot at informal 600 yard shooting matches near my home, this is a topic with which I am somewhat familiar. You might not want to enter matches any time soon, but you might still be interested in “going the distance.” What follows are a few things I’ve learned along the way which might be helpful to those looking to start shooting farther than they’re used to.

1) You Might Have What You Need Already

While most matches are won with accurate rifles, they are more importantly won by skilled shooters.

Almost any rifle capable of propelling a bullet past supersonic speeds at your desired range is suitable for entry level practice or matches. At 600 yards, that means your dad’s old hunting rifle or even that M4 Carbine clone you paid too much for will do the job.

This Ishapore Enfield in .308 proved to be more than accurate/precise enough for informal 600 yard shoots.

If you were looking to use long range shooting as an excuse to buy a cool new rifle, hey, don’t let me stop you. But if you take that money and invest it in range time, ammunition, and so on, it’s my personal opinion that you’ll be far better off – and you’ll have more experience with which to make purchasing decisions for the future.

2) Be Flexible

You might not have anything really suitable for long-range shooting right now. That’s okay. You have a lot of options! Of course, each one of these options has its proponents and detractors. Everyone loves to argue in favor of their pet rifle or cartridge.

As I said above, if the projectile fired by the rifle you’re looking at remains supersonic well past the distance at which you want to shoot, it’s at least capable of getting you started. Some are better than others, obviously, and it’s best to choose something that’s intended for maintaining accuracy and velocity at extreme ranges. For long range shooting, strongly consider getting a rifle with a fast rate of twist for a given caliber. That will enable you to use the largest range of projectiles. If you’re not sure what that means, see point 4.

However, some very suitable candidates may not be immediately obvious. Conversely, the most obvious choices may not be suitable for you – for example, due to ammunition availability issues.

.260 Rem offers low recoil and exceptional external ballistics, but good luck finding it on the shelf at Walmart.

 I like my .260 Rem and 6.5 Creedmoor rifles because they’re eminently suited to the task, but it’s sure a lot easier to find ammo for my .30-06. When I’m really serious about a match, I’ll take the time and spend the money to prepare accordingly. But if I’m just looking to maintain proficiency and/or have fun, I won’t hesitate to use surplus or bulk-grade ammunition in less-than-ideal rifles.

Others might be overkill. You could use a .338 Lapua to snipe midgets on other continents, but many matches prohibit such beasts for reasons of muzzle blast and additional damage to targets – not to mention that you won’t be shooting nearly as much at $4 a round.

Some have a lot of data or good factory loads, but aren’t ideal from a ballistic sense. One of the most popular cartridges for 600 yard shooting is .308, and there are plenty of known good .308 handload “recipes,” as well as a number of super-accurate factory ammunition SKUs. But .308 drops a lot more than some of the 6.5s or the more powerful .30 cartridges like .300 Win Mag, and it’s one of the first cartridges to sell out when there’s a whiff of panic in the air.

What I’m getting at is that each and every one of these cartridges is capable of “getting it done.” Try to avoid making a hard decision to include or exclude certain rifles/cartridges until you look at what’s available and affordable for you.

On that note, keep your mind open when it comes to rifles, too. I’ve had excellent results with rifles from a variety of manufacturers, including Remington, Savage, Tikka, and Weatherby. And some of my most accurate out-of-the-box rifles have been very inexpensive, such as the Tikka T3s, Weatherby Vanguards, and Savage Trophy Hunters.

Another thing to consider is that some people might be looking to unload good bolt action rifles as they switch to semi autos for long range shooting or as they try to buy ARs before they think they’ll be banned. So keep an eye out for good used rifles.

3) If You Spend Too Much Money On Anything, Make It Ammunition

There are a number of ways to approach the purchase of ammunition for long range shooting. The competition-oriented stuff will shoot flatter, farther, and with less wind drift than Walmart-grade soft point hunting ammo or 5.56mm M855, but a rifle and ammo combination mechanically capable of maintaining 3 MOA is more than enough to stay entirely on the black, or center of the target, if you do your part.

Of course, if you can get your hands on match ammunition for your particular firearm, you would be well-advised to do so. A quality rifle will shoot much more consistently with good ammunition than it will with mass-produced bulk ammunition. Examples of what I use when I shoot factory ammo include Federal Gold Medal Match and Hornady Match, as well as HSM ammunition loaded with Berger bullets.

Match ammo lives up to its name – but at $1 per shot or more, you’d be better off not wasting it.

However, if you pay too much for match ammo, you won’t shoot as much – so you won’t be able to maintain proficiency. Chances are that a thrown shot on your part will drop your score more than a slightly higher variation in muzzle velocity.

To that end, buy a lot of ammo when it’s available at a price you can afford. I’ve made a lot of purchases I regret – none of them involve ammunition, with the exception of poor-quality surplus ammo from third-world countries that ended up being unsafe to shoot.

Of course, this article would not be complete without a mention of reloading/handloading. I wholeheartedly recommend getting in to handloading, but right now, components are in extremely short supply. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t piece together what you can to get started, but unlike years past, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to start handloading in a short period of time. In the meantime, make sure you save all of your factory brass.

 4) Study Ballistics

Knowledge of a topic will help you make the right purchasing decisions. And since a lot of long range shooting involves a bullet flying through the air, you should learn about how bullets fly through the air.

.338 Lapua ballistics chart

There have been more recent books on the topic, but one of my favorites is The Bullet’s Flight From Powder To Target, which covers a lot of information about internal and external ballistics. The author conducted a lot of studies and experiments and then wrote a book about them. Although it was published over a century ago, physics hasn’t changed much since then.

Another great (and free!) resource is Fr. Frog’s page on external ballistics. Once you’ve learned a bit about the topic, you can use the JBM ballistic calculator to estimate the trajectory and wind drift of your chosen cartridge, provided you know things such as ballistic coefficient and muzzle velocity.

5) Shoot .22LR, But Do So Wisely

The most effective way to shoot smaller groups is to become more proficient at rifle shooting. If you have no formal or quality informal marksmanship training to use as a basis for skills development, see if there’s an Appleseed shoot in your area. Outside of the US or in areas where those shoots may not be frequent, try to find a range where precision rifle shoots are held and see if the range officers or competitors know someone willing to observe your shooting and offer tips for improvement.

.22LR rifles come in all shapes and sizes, but very few are unsuitable for marksmanship practice.

A common method for new or old shooters to improve skills involves the use of .22LR. Although it’s hard to find at the moment, and I wouldn’t recommend paying exorbitant prices for it, this is the method I use when I can’t or don’t want to shoot centerfire. That said, I don’t blast through as much .22 as I can whenever I feel like it. My most effective shooting trips generally involve firing 50 to 100 rounds in a deliberate manner. Once round counts start to reach into the hundreds, I feel that I reach a point of diminishing returns.

If you’ve been thinking about getting in to long range shooting, don’t let current prices scare you. Give some thought to exactly what you want to accomplish, research the topic, and then go have fun.

 

Gun Stuff That Doesn't Sell During A Panic

Anti-gun folks like to say that companies in the gun industry are gleefully profiting hand over fist every time there’s some sort of panic, but that’s not very accurate. Some companies do well – if they can keep a regular supply of desirable products in stock – and others do not do well at all, especially small local gun stores. If a company sells their entire inventory of desirable items in a few days, and is unable to restock within 3 or 6 months, they will soon face financial ruin.

As we enter what is hopefully the downward side of the price curve of the Great Firearm And Ammo Panic Of 2012/2013, I think it’s time to reflect upon a few things.

Of course, it’s interesting to note which items are in the highest demand during such an event – the current price of .22LR (according to my friend Kristofer at J&G, 500rd boxes of .22 are selling for as much as $200 at gun shows) comes to mind, for example.

Since I was hoarding before hoarding was cool*, I’m not going to run out of .22LR any time during the next century. The lack of a perceived desperate need to acquire things right now has allowed me to step back and notice which items aren’t selling.

Pictures of bare store shelves within a few days of the election were enlightening when they showed items like the Kriss Vector still available. I found great humor in this, as I see the Kriss as a firearm hopelessly outclassed by everything else on the market. Apparently I’m not alone in this.

KRISS: The very last defense-oriented firearm to leave store shelves.

Local to me, there were plenty of Thermolds available when a near-fistfight broke out over the last PMag. I’m not joking about that – tensions were reportedly high.

It turns out that consumers aren’t crazy about magazines made of papier-mâché.

And as the panic winds down, we’re seeing things like PS90 mags and M4 barrels remain in stock for more than a few days at a time. I’m hoping that this means we’re seeing the end of the whole panic, with the least desirable tulip bulbs items becoming available first. If so, that means I can go back to my normal routine of randomly visiting gun stores to grumble about how they smell and how their prices are $10 too high, not my latest routine of just staying home because nothing good is in stock.

For manufacturers and retailers, this might be an important lesson about the current state of their product quality/desirability or purchasing processes. On the manufacturing side, if your semi-auto-related firearm product wasn’t backordered 50,000 times, maybe you need to work on making it better or more desirable (or maybe your marketing sucks). For retailers, if you haven’t been able to secure any shipments of desirable product, you might want to consider strengthening your relationships with suppliers.

In any case, I’m glad to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

*I stole this line from a friend.

Correcting People About Magazines vs. Clips

With all the hubbub regarding “gun control” lately, there has been an abundance of people discussing firearms, many of whom really aren’t familiar with them. This leads to their inevitable use of “clips” or even “magazine clips” when the word “magazine” would be more appropriate. This leads to another inevitable occurrence – a “gun person” correcting them on nomenclature.

Don’t get me wrong, using the right nomenclature and understanding the facts are important. Otherwise you end up with people like this (and frankly, this Congresswoman’s ignorance of the topic should be appalling to people on all sides of the debate). But at a certain point, that firearm owner making the correction can’t see the forest for the trees. I know what some news anchor means when they say “high capacity banana clip.” I know what they want to accomplish when they say “high capacity clips should be banned.” I don’t see the point of saying “it’s a magazine, not a clip!”

Low capacity banana clip.

I think it’s more important that I focus on the facts of why they should not be banned than to eagerly point out the ignorance of a person who doesn’t know the technical difference between a magazine and a clip. Yeah, we’ll score a few points by making them look bad. But we won’t win over the undecided members of the populace who really don’t care what it’s called. All they know is that it’s characterized as something so dangerous that it shouldn’t ever be in civilian hands. It’s this characterization which should be addressed, not the name attached to the characterization.

So if you take anything away from this article, which I have tried to keep very brief and simple… just consider the level of derisiveness you attach to your statements towards someone who says “clip” instead of “magazine.”

Why I Don't Like The "Armed Citizen Project"

As a resident of the Tucson area, I have seen several local news reports about the “Armed Citizen Project,” an organization which plans to distribute free shotguns to low income residents of high crime areas. I looked into the project further, and do not like it. Here is why.

- The shotguns they choose are single shot break actions. The usefulness of this type of firearm for defense is debatable, but several of their stated reasons for selecting it are fallacious.

The single shot break action is chosen because it is supposedly of high value in defense, has a low risk of unintentional discharge, and would not be appealing to a criminal if it were stolen.

I beg to differ on several points. Criminals don’t particularly care about the quality or effectiveness of the weapons they use, and neither will their victims. In many cases, a firearm is to a criminal as much a tool for intimidation as it is for fighting. For the same reason that an intruder might be scared at the sight of a shotgun barrel, an unarmed, unsuspecting civilian would be scared of that firearm pointed at them by a random scumbag.

In addition, I am unaware of any statistics which show that a break action shotgun is safer than other types of firearms. From an objective standpoint, if the firearm is to be kept ready or semi-ready for defensive purposes, it must by design have a shell in the chamber.

Contrast this with a pump action shotgun, which may have a loaded magazine tube and an empty chamber. When the user is properly trained and familiarized with their firearm, this is probably not an issue. But that brings me to my second major problem with ACP.

- Only residents that take Armed Citizen Project’s “tactical training” will be given a firearm. However, the following is found on their site when describing the effectiveness of a shotgun:

I consider this weapon a hallway gun. If a home invader enters my home, this weapon is sufficient to cast a large spread that is capable significant damage, while reducing the potential of innocent bystander damage, due to the fact that the shot will not likely travel through walls or over longer distances without losing great amounts of energy. I can simply point 15 feet down my hallway, while aimed in the general direction of the intruder, and fire a shot that may take care of the problem.

What type of shot? Buckshot will penetrate plenty of interior walls, and birdshot is not sufficient to quickly stop 160-220lb mammals with dense muscle and bone. Even so, it’ll go through one wall with enough energy to cause injury on the other side.

No type of shot I have ever tested will spread enough inside the hallway of a small home or apartment to be fired in “the general direction” of an intruder with a reasonable expectation that it will incapacitate said intruder, let alone at 15 feet as stated on the ACP website. Doing so is a recipe for disaster, especially inside what may be a poorly constructed dwelling with multiple innocents in all directions.

The only example I have of this is something I shot several years ago. Even at 7 yards, the “loosest” buckshot is going to produce patterns barely larger than the size of a fist. And that’s a good thing!

Furthermore, any person who would make such statements and advocate such behavior displays an appalling lack of knowledge of and experience with firearms. I would not advise that anyone undergo training on use of force or even basic weapons manipulation from such an individual.

However well-meaning the people behind this project may be, they are going about this endeavor entirely wrong. If they manage to carry out their project, it is my opinion that the recipients – as well as their neighbors – will be put at risk, not protected.