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Archive for the month “April, 2011”

Picking Your Target

(This began as a comment I wrote at Tam’s)

Here’s something I’ve not seen mentioned yet.

Obama just publicly identified who he wants the Republicans to nominate to run against him.

Remember how McCain was the media’s darling prior to the ’08 Republican nomination convention? Let’s see if the same tactic gets recycled. Push The Donald as the “obvious” “best” “choice” for the Republicans, then savage him afterwards to Obama’s comparative advantage.

By declaring his intention to run for re-election as early as he has, Obama pre-empts any serious challenge from within his own party (something that was beginning to get MSM notice only a few weeks ago). Now he’s demonstrated the “effectiveness” of his potential opponent by apparently being bested by him on a long-standing issue.

Palin let herself be marginalized in ’08; who’s going to fall on his/her sword to give Trump some apparent political expertise in ’12?

As strategy go, Obama offers an interesting example. Deliberately make yourself a figure of mystery and target of extremist interest so as to control much of your opposition’s efforts to defeat your active efforts.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh posits (about 42 minutes into the first hour) on his radio show today that the timing of this data release is more in response to a recent poll showing only 38% of voters think Obama “definately was born in the USA”. I don’t think the two theories are mutually exclusive. Trump is a very beatable political opponent (when compared to any of several potential alternatives within the Republican party), and scotching this non-citizen idea now offering more advantage than continuing the charade, are both viable considerations in Obama’s re-election program. Either or both could have influenced the timing on this.


Gunning For Self Defense

“Don’t the Israelis all do it in Condition-3, and they have real issues…”, DirtCrashr in comments here.

I don’t actually think of myself as a “gunblogger”. I don’t have any special expertise about guns in general or any caliber or model in particular. On the other hand, I do own several examples, am licensed in Texas to carry concealed and (as the law allows) do so. I have some depth of experience with the guns I have owned upon which to draw, but that hardly makes me any one’s idea of an expert.

I am, and have been off and on for several decades now (sadly more off than on), a student of self defense. I got into the general topic by way of my reading Sun Tzu and contemplating how and by what mechanism his writings might be applied to my personal life in the 20th Cent. (and Beyond!) Following the traditional process of trial and error (further regarding which the deponent sayeth nought), I finally settled on Krav Maga as being the most broadly applicable and most logically structured course of instruction. Of particular relevance to me was that even the most basic student received modern weapons (handguns and knives to be specific) defense training as a routine part of the curricula.

Since starting this blog in August of 2007, I’ve been as inconsistent as a 9 year old written on a variety of topics, with my gun ownership and the more general topic of shooting numbered amongst them. I see now I should have made a better effort at distinguishing between gun carrying/shooting and etc. and self defense.

In comments to this post of mine, TamaraK chimed in, as did others. Much of what follows is based upon that comment thread.

As Tam commented in response to DirtCrashr’s observation, “Pretty much all militaries teach Condition 3 for people who aren’t actually currently shooting at the enemy.” And I will confess that my initial introduction to shooting came from a retired US Marine who was my town’s local NRA Small Bore shooting club instructor/range master (he also was involved with the local Big Bore shooting team too) in the mid- to late-1960’s. My quirks and kinks are many and deeply rooted, you see.

Part of my response to Tam was, “… my initial (and unchanged) belief that Condition 3 carry is more consistent with both the considered doctrine of professional self-defense and military instruction ..” has it’s genesis from my first military instructor in 1965 (I was 11 that summer). The balance of my response stems from my later reading, “… as well as being in greater accord with the philosophical underpinnings of personal self defense as that is commonly understood here in the United States (your rights end where my rights reach).”

There is, I think, a tendency to talk past one another in discussions of this type. The unexamined assumptions we all allow into our writing is a big contributor to that happening, so I’m going to go on a bit about what I regard as the distinctions between guns and self defense.

Since I began this discourse with a disclaimer of my gun expertise, I’m going to stipulate that anyone who’s made it this far has at least as much direct knowledge as I do about firearms, their history and operation and all the rest of the minutia an actual gunblogger brings to any discussion about guns. Except to ask, how much of your self-defense preparation involves your gun?

Self defense begins with personal recognition of your capabilities and their limitations. When you Look, do you See? When you Hear, do you Listen? How much of a fight involves moving your feet rather than your fists? What constitutes winning for the defender? Does your obligation to some “other” take precedence over your liberty?

There ought to be a formal ‘philosophy of self defense’ in the US if only because of the enshrined position weapons ownership has in our national structure. We make do with an ad hoc arrangement of (often contradictory) legislative mandate and social convention instead. Still and all, I think an important part of any such philosophy would include critical examination of a hierarchy of response to provocation as well as a consideration of the distinctions between actions taken in defense in a variety of circumstances, if only to help clarify when (and possibly to what degree) a proactive action might be consistent with “defense”?

It is here, I think, we begin to get into the question of when a gun is the appropriate defense tool.

As I stated in my earlier post comments,

“The original argument (to the extent it can fairly be called such) is whether or not proficiency with your hand cannon is sufficient for an adequate self defense. I contend it is not and offer my – limited – experience with Krav Maga (and specifically as that relates to gun defense) in support of that assertion.

Unless your self-defense training deliberately incorporates defense against weaponed and empty-handed assault, both with and against a modern weapon, your self-defense capabilities are woefully inadequate. Indeed, I’m tempted to argue that the time you spend training only with your gun, beyond the level of basic handling and firing competency, detracts from your overall self defense capability. Ideally, we should each train to fight with our weapon and without it, against both an armed and unarmed attacker(s). Krav Maga is the only structured system of instruction available to civilians in the USA that does all that to my knowledge, but learn some method of physical combat that doesn’t entirely rely on Samuel Colt’s PC self-defense crutch (or derivative).

Though not directly in response to the above, Tam challenged: “… name one US law enforcement department or serious firearms instructor who teaches empty-chamber carry.”

To which I respond that the first example is a false dichotomy in that it demands equal treatment of disparate circumstance, and the second requires a dissertation on market analysis.

Police do not practice personal self defense within the established meaning attached to the phrase as it is applied to that portion of US society not actively in military arms. The police are armed for the express purpose of imposing their will (as impartial officers of the court, of course) upon the rest of the populace. The common ruck are expressly prohibited from doing the same (on their own recognisance at least), and carry the additional burden of a more restrictive legal definition of “self defense” as well.

This is a false comparison of disparate society positions.

“serious firearms instructor” is equally mis-leading. By what standard or metric? Simple participation in the instruction market generally? Employment by a stipulated organisation for it’s other personnel? Is consideration of market demand by said professional instructor an acceptable criteria? You of all people are aware of the answer to the perennial question, “What’s it for?” Care to apply that to your “serious firearms instructor”‘s business plan?

I wonder Tam, if you would you be willing to stipulate any of these fellows as meeting the standard of seriousness, or perhaps this one possibly? I’ve personally taken classes from all three of the first group and the other certifies instructors in this very course of instruction (for civlian, police and .mil customers) all over the USA and Europe.

You areTam is comparing instruction in firing your gun wellcompetently with self defense. We agree the former is a critical component of the latter. The disagreement seems to me to be the extent of that importance within the entirety of the latterself defense preparatory process for non-police in a non-military spontaneous combat setting.

Another commenter, seeker_two, subsequently asked: Have you considered Condition Two carry?

I replied as follows:

I have.

I’m trying to put together a somewhat more cogent post about all this, but to expand on your question, seeker_two, in a physical assault situation your gun is a priority point of attack (as is your attackers weapon from your own perspective keep in mind). As such, routinely keeping the gun in a condition of one-handed readiness empowers you both equally; whoever can best control the muzzle’s direction determines who gets the bullet hole.

An apparently little considered factoid on the gun blogs (as far as my limited reading can determine). Whether a semi-auto is SA or DA, once the first round has been fired, a reasonably firm grip on the slide will prevent it from cycling the next round into battery and you’re in Condition 3 no matter what. It’s not quite as certain an eventuality, but the same effect occurs with a revolver too. If the assailants grip on the cylinder area of the frame is sufficient to contest your hold on the gun, it’s likely the cylinder won’t rotate by trigger pressure alone as well.

Ask me how I know.

Basically (and to bring this back to a more generalised construction), my contention is that Cond. 3 carry for a semi-auto pistol offers greater all around safety than any other condition as a basic self-defense posture. There are exceptions and special circumstances to consider also, but this discussion was (before Weer’d sensibly went on to other topics :)) about that distinction.

I would consider Cond. 2 to be the re-set position following a Cond. 0 confrontation for example (until the PD showed up and it’s “prone’d out, arms and legs spread wide”). My objection to Cond. 2 is that it offers an attacker at least as much advantage as it potentially does me. Carrying a gun is an important part of self defense, but it’s at best only 20% or so of a good self-defense posture IMO.

I think this a good point in this discourse to acknowledge that Tam has a distinctly different focus of gun interest than I do. She writes often about revolvers and I assume has far more experience of carrying them as a defense weapon than I do. I bring this up because (as should be obvious with only a little thought) DA revolvers in particular can’t be carried in Condition 3, they’re either in Condition 1/2 (depending upon the design of the gun) or Condition 4 (a SAO revolver w/o a round under the hammer might arguably qualify as C-3; I put the question to the commentariat for a ruling on that point). Consistency of carry condition is a valid consideration in arriving at any conclusion on this topic, and one I’m going to have to give further thought to once S&W finally poops out my replacement wheelgun.

Heretofore, the only revolver I’ve carried as a defense weapon has been my S&W 431PD. As it is a conveniently sized pocket pistol with an exposed hammer, I train to draw it from it’s in-pocket holster with the end of my thumb up against the end of the hammer spur. This facilitates firing the first shot SA for better first-shot accuracy and also makes it less likely I’ll catch the hammer on my pants pocket material when extracting the gun. As the gun comes clear of my pocket and settles fully into my grip, the thumb naturally slides over the top of the hammer and draws it back to full cock as the gun rises above the height of my waist.

Drawing an N-framed pistol from a waist holster is going to require very different mechanics from that, though I intend to investigate the possibilities of the gun as a pocket-carried weapon too. Without a gun to practice with, I’m unsure just how different drawing from the waist will be from the mechanics used to draw an auto pistol, but I don’t foresee too much difficulty. I believe my already established practice of firing revolvers SA on the first shot will work to my advantage though.

Carrying a gun for self defense ought not be different in principle from training to fight without a gun in self defense. In one sense it shouldn’t matter whether you do or you don’t carry as far as the philosophy of the activity is concerned. The fact remains that most other routinely available modern weapons don’t much exceed the users immediate reach, and guns are expressly designed to do exactly that. This being true, self defense training needs to specifically teach fighting with and without a gun against variably armed attackers in dynamic situations that prepare the student to keep the defense to themselves and not over-reach so as to involve bystanders.

I’ll close with a question in return for Tam; name one “serious firearms instructor” who teaches as a routine part of his/her course of instruction any other activity of defense that doesn’t rely entirely on a gun. [no fair throwing my own examples back at me :)] [no, “call the cops” doesn’t count either :)] If we’re going to use “self defense” as justification for carrying a gun, maybe we ought to give some thought to what defense with a modern firearm entails in modern society.

My Take Away From Tonight’s Vicious Circle


Mine’s Big Enough To Get Me Off

From Drudge comes notice of this France24 story in which two Italian scientists* review the literature regarding penile enhancement.

It seems surgical methods are risky at best as they often result in unsightly, and even … errr reduced, results. However, there is some measurable enlengthenment (is that even a word?) from, well let’s just quote the original:

Among the non-invasive methods, tested on 109 subjects, so-called penile extenders that stretch the phallus through traction were shown to be most effective.

One study reported an average increase of 1.8 centimetres (0.7 inches), while another measured an extra 2.3 centimetres (0.9 inches) in a flaccid state, and 1.7 centimetres (0.67 inches) when erect.

But the regimen for achieving these gains was arduous: six hours of daily traction over four months in the first case, and four hours every day over six months in the second.

No pain, no gain indeed.

One oddity of especial note:

Even the methods that did show some increase in length did not result in a gain in thickness, they noted.

But nor was their shrinkage.

Typical Frog; skinny right past the clitoris to better bruise the cervix. No wonder French women are such accomplished teases.

* Let’s see, two guys named Mark and Paul respectively write a paper on the penis. Do we strive for the Matthew/Luke or the George and Ringo joke here?

A Question Of Context

In his entry for Monday, April 11, Jerry Pournelle writes:

… the more corn we turn into alcohol to burn as fuel the higher its price will go. I do not see that this is well understood by the policy wonks in Washington.

I have to disagree, they understand very well indeed within their occupational context. Budgetary policy wonks in D.C. (who advise Congress) view the price of commodities like corn and wheat as components of national GDP. From that contextual perspective, the rise in corn price increases GDP, which works to reduce the inflationary influence of other more directly financial government policy (quantitative easing, or printing more money). From that viewpoint the price increases can be expressed as a desirable effect of Congress’s budget efforts.

Behold the power that automatic COLA raises has on the nation’s political decision-making process. Something the good Doctor is well aware of also.

He’s Working On It As We Speak, No Doubt

Via Instapundit comes notice of this Bill Maher video embedded at The Blog Prof in which that other William asks an important question: “Does he not even know a Jew?”

To which this William’s reply is, “Pres. Obama is no doubt working diligently organizing the final arrangements for transportation and accommodation of his Administration’s Jewish problem … solvers!

Running Your Gun, Not It Running You

Weer’d Beard makes the argument that carrying a concealed handgun in Condition 1 is a better option than my preferred Condition 3 status. I demurred in his comments and can see no reason not to quote my own argument here:

In what actually plausible circumstance would you be unable to draw and cycle the action but still be able to draw the weapon unhindered? My point being that any physical confrontation with someone who is so close to you as to preclude engaging with a gun from Condition 3 (loaded magazine in weapon, no round in chamber) is close enough to interrupt your doing so with a gun in Condition 1 as well. Ask any firearms-rated CQB qualified instructor, don’t just take my Krav Maga-novice word for it. I won’t clog up your comments with YouTube links, but search “krav maga gun defense” there and see for yourself.

Just for the record, I prefer to concealed carry my Colt Commander in Condition 3, primarily because I’ve taken the trouble to learn how to take your gun away from you from 5-7 yards initial distance and am painfully aware just how susceptible I – anyone really – am to the same maneuver under the same conditions. The remedy to this threat is to maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness and be willing to act upon it pre-emptively. This means noting something “wrong” about your surroundings and maneuvering to a defensive position as you exit the area. Drag your companion by the hand if necessary; shop elsewhere or later if necessary.

If any of us are ever compelled into a defensive shooting, it will be as a result of either a deliberate, intentional attack from cover (the classic “ambush”) – and I include home invasion in this category – or a failure to exit the area upon notice of the onset of an armed attack in your immediate vicinity (there are justifications for this last, but the basic mindset must be one of “personal defense” rather than “proactive defense”). The former situation is time for “coffee-do” or some other form of hand-to-hand combat and the later permits sufficient time to cycle your weapon into Condition “0″ as you seek out cover from which to defend yourself.

You’ve practiced carrying in Condition 1 (and, yes, I do practice first shot placement from Condition 3) so you should continue as you’ve trained to do, but give some informed consideration to expanding your personal defense options as well. I can’t fully express how much less psychological burden I experience because I don’t have to rely on my gun to violently defend myself.

His (and others) points regarding potential gun sub-system failures (like redundant “safety” mechanisms) all strike me as obfuscation of the primary thesis; is it better to train yourself to operate your gun or let your training be dictated by the gun’s optional conditions? I train to carry (and if necessary, fire) my gun from what I regard as the most all-around safest condition of general (that is, concealed under one or more layers of clothing or within a container of some description) carry, Condition 3. I arrive at this decision in large part due to my also training in Krav Maga – specifically, training to engage with or against a firearm. In my opinion, while these tertiary concerns regarding potential weapon mechanical failure are valid, they would be better addressed in a gun maintenance class (or by a hired professional smith) then as part of some carry condition justification.

Variation On A Theme

Tam throws out a “modest proposal”:

… I think that you could drive a half-dozen gun companies to the brink of bankruptcy if you sold a sealed, non-reloadable, disposable, 10-shot pistol … Discus.

The comment thread is entirely too predictable though.

For added context, JayG posted this video back in February about the Girandoni rifle carried by Lewis and Clark during their trans-continental expedition.

Back to Tam now. She proposes a disposable handgun, but sticks to the traditional bullet, powder, shell casing, primer model. My alternative is to build an air gun having the same general terminal ballistics performance of the historical Girandoni rifle.

Since unit cost is going to be perhaps the principle consideration, I propose using an established bullet in a widely available caliber; .45 acp in 185 gr. JHP configuration. Please note that no gun powder, shell casing or primer are required, thus allowing savings in materials as well as design and safety considerations.

Using the 1911 platform as illustration, by placing the compressed air cylinder in the same location as the return spring and guide rod occupy in the traditional gun (along with the area occupied by the ejection port and firing pin mechanisms) ought to permit sufficient volume to project 15 bullets at a muzzle velocity of ~900 fps. The upper portion of the same volume of 1911 slide also becomes usable barrel space of course, with a fixed, bead-type front sight in the traditional location.

Making the trigger assembly/grip portion of the frame a separate item makes penetration of the sealed compressed air cylinder impossible until the user unpacks the gun and assembles the two components which assures an extensive shelf life for long-term storage.

The bullets are factory stacked into the rear of the grip with a plunger below them which receives compressed air pressure to advance each round into the breach end of the barrel. A simple view port showing the number of bullets remaining is inlet into the grip also. Pulling the trigger releases a mechanically metered volume of compressed air to fire each bullet. Unlike the JMB design, this gun would have a DAO trigger that cycled a cambered block from top-of-the-magazine into breach (and back again after discharge either by means of a simple spring or by air pressure). Also unlike the JMB design, the two sub-assemblies would go together by means of an open hinge and pivot pin arrangement similar to that used by SKS/AK magazines instead of sliding together along grooves.

By appending a hinge pin to the bottom rear of the grip, a hinged frame can be revolved to meet the rear of the grip assembly and onto the top rear of the upper (barrel/compressed air cylinder) portion of the unit to achieve several things, 1) lock the two sub-assemblies together, 2) provide a rear sight and 3) mechanically engage the air cylinder needle to charge the unit and make it an operable gun. While it would not be impossible to remove the hinged frame from the upper portion, there would be no mechanism provided to do so (you could use a file or saw to cut it out of the upper, but you couldn’t do it by hand). Once the 15th bullet has been shot, any remaining compressed air is released around the trigger telling the shooter the gun is now a flimsy hammer.

As should be obvious, this concept easily converts into a carbine-type rifle having a factory loaded under-barrel tube magazine and the compressed air cylinders in the detachable butt stock. Unlike the pistol, this configuration would lend itself better to an LED-type laser sight as both hands when in the normally used in shooting position(s) better allow the fore-hand to activate the laser as required without altering the grip to do so.

Regarding packaging, I think a preformed “sardine can” containing the disassembled sections in a nitrogen gas-rich mixture would make for better (ie: more stable) storage. This could be pressed into a PVC outer shell which is sealed with a glued-on top having a wire embedded into it. To open, lift the pull ring on the wire and cut the top off by pulling the wire through the glue material (if the wire should break, I presume there will be a knife of some description present). Once open, pop the “sardine can” top, lift out the sub-assemblies, latch and lock them together and – viola! – you’re armed.

Based on the reported terminal performance of the Girandoni rifle, this concept would permit 15 shots from a .45 acp hand gun using 185 gr. JHP bullets and a carbine holding between 25 and 30 of the same bullet. Reserving the hand gun for targets within 25 yards max, the carbine ought to be effective out to 100 yards. Even though air powered it won’t actually be “silent”, but it will certainly have a much quieter sonic signature than traditional gun powder weapons have.

It also occurs to me that a concealed carry defense model ought to be fairly straight-forward too. The gun (think Colt “Officers” model – barrel long enough for six bullets max) comes in a kydex-type “holster” pre-assembled, fully loaded and charged with air. Pulling the gun from the holster punctures the gun’s air cylinder. Some mechanism for releasing the air pressure (without pulling the trigger :)) ought to be crafted that a gunsmith/armorer could use to safe the gun and replace the air cylinder (not just by re-holstering though). Specialty market option maybe.

If the pistol could be MSRP’d for under $50 and the carbine for under $100, I think Tam’s target market would be vulnerable.

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