Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
- Lord Acton, from letter to Bishop Creighton

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Natural Rights to Keep and Bear Arms

I don't know if I "chafe" at the prospect of making my blog have a political taint. We're all political; we all channel Machiavelli when we really want something. And writing a blog about being a gun enthusiast invites a politically motivated attack.

That all has the potential to be true, as long as I know the definition of politics. Well, at least this disclaimer is halfassed. 

I'm concerned that the leading defenders of our Second Amendment rights are painting us into a corner. Our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms are actually our natural rights. And that appears to have been the view of the original representatives that debated the inclusion of Bill of Rights in the Constitution to be ratified by the states. Many of the representatives felt the Bill of Rights were not needed, because the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were self-evident natural rights that every person was not "entitled to," but owned outright. The Bill of Rights was included to limit the power of government, not to entitle citizens privileges.

By treating our rights to keep and bear arms as a legislated right and therefore a privilege, we lower our moral platform to the level of the misguided statist socialists who are attacking our natural rights.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Applied Fun

The .22 LR .380 ACP and The Baking Powder Can
Millions enjoy the shooting sports. We run and gun, bullseye shoot, hunt, plink, reload, modify, design, and sometimes earn a living with guns. We have fun, we bond, but we are doing something that applies to darker circumstances. For example, when we run and gun we are preparing for a fight that someday might require us to defend ourselves, our family, or someone we have never met (where allowed by law, of course). That preparation also is focused on ending someone else's life immediately, or potentially by putting that person out of that fight - with deadly force. Our fun has an element of pain that we make into abstractions (e.g. the zombie-talk epidemic), or we avoid really thinking about it.

One fun area is ballistics. There are endless arguments and comparisons about downrange effectiveness. But how many people are going to actually shoot someone - or get shot. What percentage of the population has dropped something on their feet? 100%? I dare say.

A few weeks ago I reached into the fridge and a dinky little can of baking powder fell out and landed on my bare foot. It hurt a lot - figured I might have bruised a bone - and, not to be dramatic, but in the interest of full disclosure, I had trouble walking for a week. I didn't break out a pair of crutches and start calling for my wife to get my beer, but I noticed it every time I took a step.

I couldn't curl my toes all the way for a couple weeks, and the bones in my foot still hurt. I was amazed at how such a little thing falling such a short distance could cause so much distraction over a protracted period of time. So I did some calculations on line (Force, gravitational acceleration, etc.), and then I quadruple checked the calculations.

The can fell more than 5 feet (I used 5 feet to calculate), and I entered a generous half inch deceleration distance. When the can hit my foot it generated 239 ft-lbs of force. That bests most .380 ACP rounds!

Of course the force was spread out over a larger area compared to the maximum frontal area of an .380 ACP bullet, but maybe not a fully expanded hollowpoint!

Did I apply the fun I've had with ballistics? Yeah. Will I apply the fun I had dropping a baking powder can on my foot? Well, a .380 ACP doesn't fully expand until it has penetrated something, usually. So I won't be traded in my 9 mm ammo for a case of baking powder.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ruger Fanboy?

I like Rugers. I've liked Rugers for year. I like the name, I like the logo, I like their style (seriously), and I like the guns' claimed durability.

I owned a 2" SP101 .357. Great gun. Well balanced, loud, fun. I owned a 10/22 with several "high capacity" mags. They are the Hotlips design, so I quickly destroyed the feed lips on one. I sold those guns when I moved to NYC. I wished that I had stored them with a relative instead, because I really miss them.

Since I moved to the relatively gun-friendly state of North Carolina, I bought a P95. Though I have problems with the grip, I really like it, too. The only reason I didn't also buy a Ruger shotgun is that they don't make a pump action. And of course the Remington 870 is "legendary."

Am I Ruger fanboy? I doubt it. I might be a Ruger loyalist, or a Ruger enthusiast. But if they don't have the tool I want or need at the price I'm willing to pay, then I'll get it somewhere else.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Gun Review Is Dead

Long Live The Gun Review

I have mixed feelings about gun reviews. I love and hate the following parts and qualities of gun reviews, and I love and hate when they are missing: technical evaluations, ergonomics, concealability, range reports, photos, and, subjectivity. And that's the problem.

Gun reviews take into account so many subjective and "mission critical" factors that the reviewer often loves, hates, or grows to love or hate the same gun based on his (her) changing experience, skills, and the company he keeps. This parody of a Nutnfancy "Tabletop" comparison of a couple guns is a good illustration:

As I have stated, I like subjectivity in gun reviews - or I hate it. But a review of the Wilson ADP a few years ago in American Handgunner magazine was a good example of how objectivity can somehow get ridiculously lost in subjectivity.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time for A New Multi-Tool

   I started carrying my Eddie Bauer multi-tool regularly about a week ago. I had used it off and on over the last few weeks while doing various projects around the yard (e.g. landscape wall building, chicken coop retrofitting, paver setting, and well, just getting the nozel off the end of our new non-ergonomic male fitting on our garden hose). I started carrying it everyday, because: (1) it doesn't weigh that much, (2) it weighs less than my Ruger P95 but as much as a paperweight (I'm trying to prove a point to myself), and (3) who knows when you'll need a set of pliers.
   I received my Eddie Bauer 11-function multi-tool as a stocking stuffer a couple years ago. I probably would have ended up with a Coleman equivalent, but I fell for the the bonus flashlight. The tiny flashlight is convenient, but I never planned on replacing the four costly button cells, which are almost dead.
   One of the grip/accent-pieces disappeared a few months ago, so I was loosing faith in its durability.
   Then I started to use the blades to cut stuff - twine, primarily. Memories of my father-in-law's nerve-damaging accident with his company's promo pocketknife (which I had carried the same model until losing it in a swimming pool) came to mind.
   You saw, the blades do not lock in place or even have any tension that holds them in place, and neither do any of the other tools. The only usable stability is when the multi-tool is in the form of pliers.
   Though it was worth it at about $18, including tools that function adequately, I don't feel comfortable with those blades flapping around. Also, I've pinched my fingers multiple times with the screwdrivers.
   I went to the source - Leatherman - and discovered the Skeletool. I'm this --> || close to ordering one.
UPDATE: I don't have to worry about the blades flapping around anymore, because they fell out. I guess that a little tool maintenance would have prevented that, but I never thought I would have to tightened the screws on a "pocket knife." Lesson learned - even more!

 UPDATE: HOLY CRAP! While on my Independence Day weekend camping trip, all of the other tools fell out of the other side of my multi tool. And that side was tight before I left for the weekend. I'm glad I took my Swiss Army Champion as backup - the original multi tool.

Virtual Gunsmith

Being a bookworm that is not fully participating in the real world, I was excited when I saw that The Truth About Guns blog was reviewing some new software. But it turns about that "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" just has features where you can build up an AR. Not really gunsmithing. Where's the end-user-friendly CAD software that I can design my next pistol and email the file to a machine shop? Real gun geeks would be looking for that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Insane Classification Systems: Handguns

Handgun Size - Pocket, Subcompact, Compact, Service, Tactical

My favorite size difference is between Service and Tactical pistols. Springfield has made the most cut and dry division between the two, in my opinion. A Service XD has a full-size grip, a double-stack magazine, and a four-inch barrel. A Tactical XD is the same but with a five-inch barrel.

But what is "Service?" "Police Service?" What is "Tactical?" "Police Tactical?" So a police department's Tactical would be a military's Service, and a military's Compact would be a police department's Service. Uh, well, I'm not sure!

First of all, does Springfield really label their XDs that way, or am I getting delusional trying to make XDs fit my own thought process. Excuse me while I check out their website ... Yes they do.

I am prone to insane classification systems. I want everything to have its place. And because I want everything in order, it might be in my imagination that the terms "service" and "tactical" are used for the above distinction outside of Springfield Armory. STI has a Tactical model in 4.15" and 5" barrel lengths, so they are not following that rule. They apparently define tactical as having a double-stack mag and a "tactical" rail. And I think I'll dump revolvers in this mix, since revolvers can apparently be tactical too. included a picture of the Smith & Wesson 8-shot "Tactical" revolver in their 2006 SHOT Show coverage.

It looks like I have much to investigate. But first let's look at a rough mostly made-up classification system for handgun sizes that are related to size and based on opinions partially remember from many sources:

2"     concealed (bodyguard/detective/chief)
3"     concealable power
4"     service
5"     tactical
6"+   PDW

And since I got so caught up in the barrel-length distinction, I totally forgot about the overall size and weight issues of handguns. I guess STI hints at the overall size issue with its double-stack Tactical models.

Gotta go read up!

 A few definitions:

"Using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront"

That makes roundabout sense when you are talking about SWAT units. They are ready and called-upon to go into "combat" when situations go out of control, or when things are expected to go out of control.

Wikipedia describes a service pistol as any pistol (including revolvers) issued to military personnel in their "Service Pistol" article.

Google provides the following definition of "Service Pistol" attributed to the above Wikipedia article:
A service pistol is any handgun (revolver or semi-automatic) issued to military personnel, or in some contexts, law enforcement officers.
 But that article does not contain Google's definition.


So, is the "service" and "tactical" distinctions purely marketing? I don't think so. As far as I can tell, police service pistols have been trending toward 4" barrels for some time. That's semiautos. I am not sure about revolvers, but I think they were 3"-4" before the switch to semiautos. SWAT handguns seem to trend larger in the 5" range with Glocks and 1911s being the predominate choice [cite something!]. And it now comes to mind that another distinction needs to be made. Police "service"-size pistols are uniformed "service" pistols, though the trend toward 4" barrels has made the same pistols attractive to plain cloths officers and detectives. For example, multiple articles have reported that the Glock 19s/23s have replaced backup guns (carry a second 19 or 23) and off-duty guns, allowing officers to focus their training on one firearm type and size.

Initial Review: Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap - Size 5

I recently decided to get my concealed carry permit, so I've been shopping holsters and handguns. Due to a number of factors, I've decided to work with my Ruger P95 as a concealed-carry gun. One prominent factor is that I do not want to invest in another handgun until I have a better idea of what I can conceal and where. The process of getting aquainted with the Uncle Mike's ITP holster has shone some light on my personal concealability issues, which I'll touch on later in this review. Also, I like the idea of carrying a service caliber in a service-size gun, since I am not ready to step down in power or shootability. Of course, I do have some issues with the P95 grip, which I am addressing in other posts.

Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap is a budget holster. You can find it from about $11-19. I paid about $16, because I was combining Amazon shipments and saved overall on shipping.

I bought a cheap holster, because I wanted to experiment with different locations of carry: hip, between hip and lower back, appendix, and cross draw. I had looked at other makes, including Crossbreed, Blackhawk!, Bare Asset, and Bianchi. I was real close to purchasing a Crossbreed, but I could not commit to any carry location.

First, I tried between hip and lower back carry. It felt fine, but I think I would need a heavier untucked shirt than the t-shirt I was using to test concealability. No matter how I canted the gun, the butt kept catching my shirt.

Second, I tried appendix carry. It was the best for concealability. The gun did not print at all - as long as I was standing. Sitting was impossible. The gun dug into my leg, and half the time the gun and holster started to pop out of my pants. Canting the gun had no positive effect.

Third, I tried cross draw carry. The butt printed no matter what I did, so I quickly gave up on that location.

Fourth, I tried hip carry. It made me look like I had gained 20 lbs on my right hip.

While trying different locations to conceal my gun I was also testing how well I was able to draw the pistol. It was an UNMITIGATED disaster, except that it was the first time I was attempting to draw with a new holster. Every time I drew, the holster came with the gun. The plastic belt clip is just not strong enough to keep the holster in place, even when my pants were cinched down tight. With the retention strap in place the holster might not come off the gun at all. The retention-strap is NOT a thumb-break design, so you have to fiddle with it to keep it out of the way of your draw. The Velcro tends to restick once you've opened the strap. I intend to practice a two-handed draw, but really don't want to tie up both of my hands getting my gun unholstered. I was able to get the retention strap to fold inside the holster, and with the P95 the strap still helped to keep the gun from sliding around.

After I tried all those locations for IWB carry, I figured that the holster was worthless for it - between the gun printing (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to try a different shirt.) and coming out with the pistol (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to practice a two-handed draw.). So after one of my attempted draws, when I pulled the gun WITH the holster and the retention strap securing the holster TO the gun, I just shoved the whole lot in my front pants pocket. Hmm! It printed a little bit more that all the crap I carry in my pockets (e.g. cellphone, keys, change, pens). And with a shirt untucked it was barely noticeable. And that was while I was wearing run-of-the-mill dress pants. Then I tried cargo shorts. I had to cant the pistol forward to completely conceal it, whether my shirt was tucked or untucked. Food for thought: Full-size "service" pistol pocket carry!?!

I have decided to forget about reholstering a firearm while the holster is still in my pants. This holster completely collapses. I am afraid that I would shoot myself. Reholstering was ALMOST a nonissue for me. If I have to defend myself I would not care about reholstering.  But I want to compete in IDPA with the holster I'll conceal carry. I doubt this holster will fill those two roles.

PACKAGING: The holster comes in a nice plastic bag with a ZipLok-style closure that broke when I initially opened the bag.

DOCUMENTATION: Still haven't read it. But when I bought the pistol, Uncle Mike's size chart on their website said it fit full-size autos with 4-1/2 to 5" barrels. I bought a slightly "larger" size than was specified for my pistol, because I wanted to make sure the pistol sat as low as possible. But the packaging insert said it fits 4" autos. What should I trust - the website or the packaging?

ERGONOMICS: Felt fine IWB. It helped distribute the weight of the gun, especially with the suede-like grippy texture on the outside. The retention strap didn't work for me. It just got in the way. If anything, I'll tuck it inside - and with my gun it helps hold the gun in place. My opinion is that the only holster that should ever try to get shot off your gun is a pocket holster.

MANUFACTURER'S/CATEGORY'S INTENDED USE: Why manufacturer's and category's intended use? Because sometimes individual manufacturers bow to their lawyers and say a wolf is a lamb (e.g. firearms makers saying that you should never carry a loaded gun until you are about to fire, even though they manufacture concealable defensive guns.). It meets the minimum need of having a holster. But I don't think anyone would accept an IWB coming out with the gun.

MY INTENDED USE: To have a holster? Yes. To have a functional holster? Partially. To have a duel-use holster? No.

COST: Though this is one of the cheapest holsters you'll find, the quality is cheap. I got what I paid for.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wildcats – Minimum Threshold

Posted in Catridge, Chamber, Firearms, Guns, Wildcat on April 4, 2011 by Charles River Cobb
How much effort does it take to create a new wildcat cartridge? Does it have to be a new chambering also? Can you wildcat a sub-magnum cartridge and just use a magnum chamber? Could you wildcat a .458 Winchester Magnum in a .458 Lott chamber?

UPDATE: Looks like the dictionary definition of wildcating (Wikipedia) is that cartridge and barrel (chamber) are custom. So making a wildcat with out a change in chamber is the lazy gun enthusiast’s way?

Is North Carolina a Free State?

Posted in Sovereignty with tags on May 14, 2011 by Charles River Cobb
Just read on the Guns and Coffee blog that Wisconsin is a “Free State,” meaning that law enforcement cannot demand I.D. when there is no evidence of a crime. Is that true in North Carolina? Where else?

Friday, May 27, 2011

#1 Reason You Left Your Last Job

#1 Reason You Left Your Last Job

Posted in Employment, Interviewing, Job History, Job Seeking, Past Employer, Workplace Conflict on November 5, 2010 by Charles River Cobb

In a mildly heated discussion in a job seekers group on LinkedIn, one career expert commented that the number one reason people leave jobs is their FORMER BOSSES.

That doesn’t jive with what you are expected to say in a job interview, when asked why you left a job: “I am searching for a better opportunity to utilize my skills.” Or “Looking for more responsibility.” And you are expected to never say an unkind word about a former boss, but a new employer wants you to be “completely honest” with them.

In the end, does this really matter? We want former employers to, at the very least, not damage our future prospects. They want us to keep up their images in the marketplace. It’s the nature of social interaction: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. And that’s why your prospective employers don’t want you to be completely honest. They expect that you will honor this social convention with them, too.


The 1000 Round Trigger Job

I've been listening to Bob Mayne's Handgun World podcast lately. He often recommends "a 1000-round trigger job" before fully evaluating or modifying a handgun.
That got me thinking, so I emailed Bob:
I love your phrase "a 1000 round trigger job." When I first got my latest handgun (also my first centerfire semiauto), I really questioned whether I got a lemon in the first 50 rounds. After a good lube, a little research about limp-wristing, and a couple hundred more rounds, I am willing to give the gun a fair shake. And you have inspired me to do the next 700 rounds.

I have read over and over again that concealed-carry holders (and home-defense nuts) need to shoot often. The "1000 round trigger job" is a good way to get started.
So, my grand plans of modifying my P95 are going on the back burner. Well, I'll see - maybe a grip sleeve, or a little grip trim, index pad? Gotta get to the range.

Update (3-15-12): What is a 1000-round trigger job? It is simply firing 1000 rounds through a firearm. Why is it a trigger job?

Two reasons. First, it gives the shooter a chance to get used to the trigger of a firearm. Second, it breaks in the trigger of the firearm. Also, the shooter gets used to the basic operations of the firearm, such as its recoil impulse. Between the shooter becoming accustomed to the firearm, and the firearm's trigger becoming smoother (hopefully) with use, the owner replaces a gunsmithed trigger job with a use-and-familiarization "trigger job."

Ruger P95 Modifications I: Research

Jump To Some Real World Progress: Ruger P95 Modifications IV

About two years ago, I bought a Ruger P95 (KP95PR15). I had done some research and settled on the P95 for a sometimes-house, sometimes-carry pistol. I wanted a traditional DA/SA, because my wife was familiar with the type and not as interested in guns as I am. Also, I wanted the second-strike capability. I preferred a polymer frame with a stainless slide. I liked the price, and I like Rugers.
I had looked at many other pistols with the original purpose of getting a weapon for concealed carry. What I ended up with is a compromise. I settled on a “service”-sized pistol, not a sub-compact- or “tactical”-sized pistol.

Taurus 24/7 Pro, Ruger P95, Ruger SR9 (left to right)
Based on price and my personal preference I was close to buying a Taurus 24/7 Pro or Ruger SR9. I had read mixed reviews about the speed of Taurus service. I really liked the grip shape of the SR9, but the pistol felt extremely top heavy with an empty magazine. And the SR9 was less than a year old. A few months later, I was happy that I skipped the SR9 due to Ruger’s massive recall (But Ruger’s quality response to a huge problem would have made me feel really good about choosing the SR9.).
The day I picked up my P95, I went immediately to the range. It ran fine for a couple rounds. Then I started to have FTEs, failures to feed, stove pipes, double feeds, and the slide failed to lock back. The salesperson that sold me the gun asked how it went, and then she suggested I might be limp wristing and suggested I might try +P ammo. Of course, I thought that was perposterous.
Ruger SP101 .357
My last handgun was a .357 Ruger SP101. I loved shooting .357s in that almost-little revolver. But then I did a little reading, and understood that semi-autos need a stable platform to cycle the slide.
The next time I went to the range, I got through a mag and a half before problems. I removed the slide, put additional oil in the slide where it meets the abbreviated rails that are integral to the polymer frame, and did not have another hitch. Except that my hits were center of mass to start, then progressing toward the lower left with every mag, unless I regripped the pistol. The P95 is slick, so I considered a rubber, slip-on grip sleeve. But I have another problem – I have small hands.
I recently read an article and was reminded of a proper grip – center of the backstrap high in the web of my hand. But I really have to struggle to maintain that grip. My hand slides around to something like this:

Well, actually this:

So I decided on some modifications.

Next Post This Topic: Ruger P95 Modifications II
Jump To Some Real World Progress: Ruger P95 Modifications IV

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best Guns for Home Defense I

I searched that topic on Google. I've got my opinions, but every once in a while I like to read up on subjects and see if I need to adjust those opinions.

The general consensus seems to prefer shotguns. And that was the opinion on in their article, “Best Guns for Home Defense.” It is a basic, cautionary article with a rating system for different types of guns. But my favorite part was in the comments section:
5 Pieter July 23, 2009 at 4:46 am: The best weapon for home defense is a phone. If bad people try to get in: call the cops. The biggest bonus for the phone is that your kids can’t pick it up and blow their brains across the wall with it.
Even if you do decide not to own a gun, based on legal issues or personal choice, your job as a responsible adult in your home is to defend your family (or yourself), not cross your legs in an easy chair and call the police. If bad people try to get in, of course you should call the cops. But what if bad people do get in? Pick up a knife, ax, ax handle, bat, pepper spray, or gun. But guns are great deterrents, and especially shotguns.

Guns are tools that can be dangerous. Of course the safety of children is a concern. But reasonable caution and education can greatly reduce risks. I found the following in David S. Markowitz’s article, “Selecting a Home Defense Gun:”
I cannot stress enough that one of the worst things you can do is to hide the presence of guns in your home from your kids. Prohibition breeds fascination, especially in children. As gun guru Massad Ayoob says (approximately), “You cannot gun proof your home, but you can gun proof your kids.” As soon as your kids are able to understand, you should instruct them in gun safety rules. If they ever ask to see your gun, treat that as an opportunity to reinforce safety rules. If you let them see the gun under your supervision, they are a lot less likely to go looking for it while you aren’t around. The National Rifle Association has a good program to teach gun safety to kids called the “Eddie Eagle” program. (Also check out “Gun Play”, by David Kopel, to see the potential disaster that can happen when a “sheltered” child gets exposed to firearms for the first time in the absence of adult supervision.) Even if you choose not to have firearms in your home (unlikely if you’re reading anything on my website) you should still make sure your kids know about gun safety. They may go to a friend’s house where there are guns, and be exposed to them that way.
Education over hysteria. Responsibility over abdication.

NEXT IN SERIES:  Best Guns for Home Defense II

Promises, Promises!

I promised to ramble, so here goes. Matthew Perry checked himself into rehab, according to someone. I feel that it is dangerous that pampered celebs are seen as role models for dealing with crises. Not to trivialize their problems (which they often do themselves, e.g. Charlie Sheen), but celebs often have strong (often paid) support systems to keep them alive while they workout their problems.

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