22 May 2006

Tactical Rantings:

So watching a few TV shows...I've got some issues. First off is 24. Of all TV shows it is the most faithful to proper tactics and firearms training, but here are two issues. In season 2 which I am watching courtesy Netflix right now Jack shoots a thin young woman in her arm to get her to drop a gun. Jack, who never seems to carry anything but a medium frame automatic, may in fact be an excellent shot but no one trusts a sidearm to have that kind of accuracy, or at least no one should. I realize he needed to take her alive, but that's why he needed a 12 gauge with less-than-lethal rubber slugs or something. But I can forgive that. The other issue, which is also somewhat understandable from a TV show standpoint, is that for some crazy reason, he is always the first to enter hostile environments...which in itself is unlikely...and he does so never equipped with the body armour, helmet, ballistic face shield, and M4 carbine that all the other members of the assault team have. I'm sorry, but he should at least take an MP5 if he's going to go point on every single entry on the show. But I am grateful for this, they actually look like they've been trained on their weapons. Jack readily assumes the Weaver stance on a weekly basis and I did see him use the Harries technique once. None of this one-handed garbage.

Speaking of, I don't watch this show, but it is the feminine equivalent of 24...Alias. If I watched it (I've seen snippets) I could probably write reams about how it is unrealistic, so I should probably not open that box anyway. I doubt people expect realism from it. But the TV advert for it showed the heroine holding a large frame automatic with one hand, aimed at a target (presumably not the broad side of a barn...which would most likely be a challenge for her). Pardon my nerdliness as I emit a guffaw and a "yeah right". I don't care how much you train, one handed shooting will always be a fraction as accurate as a properly supported two handed stance, like the Weaver. It's a bloody fashion shoot, that show. Which reminds me of another (funnier) advert showing Wes Anderson, for a credit card company...the money quote was "can you put a bayonet on a .357?".

And lastly, last night's episode of Desperate Housewives. Admittedly the last place you'd expect to see accurate portrayal of CQB or SWAT tactics, but the final scene where the young killer guy has the mother (Bree, yes, I know most of the character names, I will admit that) at gunpoint...he's using a one handed stance but its at close range and you expect an untrained thug to do just that anyway. But when the SWAT team takes him out, apparently with an M4 carbine through the window, it gets a little trickier. First off, you don't hear the shot...totally unlikely, they didn't have silenced weapons and even if they had them off camera no one would put it on a sniper rifle for SWAT purposes. Secondly, the suspect was hit and made no immediate physical recognition of the hit...no jerking, no reflex, no jolt upon impact...highly unlikely. When a 5.56mm FMJ bullet strikes you in the chest, I would see it as highly unlikely that you'd stand stone still, then realize you've been hit, then fall down. And lastly, they went for a chest cavity shot. Unlikely...he was pulling the double action trigger and the chamber was cycling, with the hammer raising. The only way to stop that suspect was a careful shot to the cranio-ocular cavity. A shot to the chest would have a very likely reflexive action that would complete the shot.

OK, enough ranting, back to work.

18 May 2006

Hello lads I'm back for another post of generally ponderous and shallow drivel. Let's start with the more intellectual crap and move on to the unimportant banter (saving the best for last).

C.S. Lewis has always been one of my favourite writers and lately I ran across a very interesting article regarding his views on pacifism. All the more interesting as I was having an internal debate (and still am, as a matter of fact) on acceptable use of force, and moral implications of both self-defence and defence of innocents for a Christian. It is a complicated subject, to say the least. C.S. Lewis as always has seemingly radical views that shock you at first (such as the thought that killing should be neither loved nor hated...you'd have to have context for this, honestly). There is a lot to consider in this area, and I've heard good arguments from what I would call "semi-pacifists" that I don't consider to be incorrect or anything, but while their particular philosophy (which I'm not going to take the time to spell out) works under many situations there are some situations that I think they would either act differently or perhaps be morally at fault for not doing so. All very, very complex. Let's put it this way...a guy has a gun on you, you have the capacity to draw and take him down. The argument would be, you are
going to heaven, you don't know about him, so your life is a fair sacrifice. That is fair. When you start to talk about home invasions, and the threat of death or worse to your family, things get a bit dicier. An innocent on the street about to be murdered, when you have the capacity to draw your weapon and intervene, or simply look away and walk on. What would the Christian do in that case? What is the selfless act, and what is the selfish act? Lewis makes an interesting case
regarding killing, and the difference between murder and killing. If a woman desperately fights off a man attempting to rape her, and he is pushed back, strikes his head on a rock and dies, she has killed him. Or if you're going to say "that's an accident" let's change it slightly...a woman about to be raped at knifepoint, grabs a rock off the ground and strikes her attacker on the head, killing him. Has she sinned? She committed an act of violence and killed a man, albeit in the most dire of self-defence situations. There are countless scenarios that could be presented, but enough with my one-way internal debate.

24 is a very tense show. I would not recommend that anyone purchase the DVD sets, because if I had all of the DVDs at one time I would stay up a very very long time and stay home from work, and probably start to hallucinate. I'd also start to believe that I worked for CTU and that President Palmer had authorized me to hunt down Sayed Ali and dispatch him. Just not safe, hehe. But one thing that cracks me up is how women are portrayed on the show, in two areas...the IT workers, and the terrorists. The IT workers are comically mostly women, which is almost exactly the opposite of the real world. Computer techs and specialists tend to be geeky left-brain guys, and we all know this. I grant you that Chloe is a funny and worthwhile character to have on the show, but all of the rest of them, its just a bit unlikely. And the other part is the "femme fatale" thing they have going through the series. Each season has at least one twenty-something American woman who apparently is a trained, heartless, and ruthlessly efficient killer-for-hire. How many twenty-something American women do you know who have even fired a pistol before, I ask? I can vouch for at least one, my wife, but the generally the only interest she has in guns is a sweetly sympathetic interest to share with her husband. Am I a chauvinistic bigot? If you say so. But I'm just being realistic. I'm not saying anything bad about women; in general women tend to be less interested in combat, violence, and using terrorism to accomplish political goals. Obviously there are exceptions but in 24 it is more the rule than the exception. Oh well, its just a show.

Still haven't taken my Kel-Tec out...maybe this Sunday? I should get some more ammo for it. I need to clean it fully before getting it out there. I broke it down and reassembled it, which is ridiculously painless in comparison to field-stripping a 1911 or my Ruger .22 MkII. The Kel-Tec PF9 looks good too...an extraordinarily small and lightweight 9mm handgun. Single-stack, it holds 7 rounds in the mag and 1 in the chamber. Double action only. Weighs about 1 lb (16oz) fully loaded, 13oz unloaded.

And lastly, Chicago II is a great album. Musicians don't do work like this any more. I'm sorry, I know it isn't the proper thing to say, but I'm not going to couch it in the premises of preference or evolving styles or any of that...modern music is lackluster, hit-and-mostly-miss garbage with sporadic moments of at least mediocre quality music. And it isn't just the music styles...musicians today just suck in comparison. Name a single guitarist played on modern rock radio who had the chops of Terry Kath. Or a bassist as good as Peter Cetera. YES THAT PETER CETERA. If you get outplayed by a guy who did a DUET with AMY GRANT what does that say about you. I mean, even though we are talking about the same guy who sang "You're the Inspiration"...he can hit the groove hard on the bass and lock in with a drummer, without being locked in to a song structure. "It Better End Soon", "I'm a Man", virtually anything of the first several Chicago albums, its all a showcase of some excellent bass chops. And let's get right down to it, you snivelling talentless hacks whose greatest musical achievement so far was learning a few Weezer songs from online tablature...you wouldn't know a groove if it was wedged up yer arse, sodding wankers. *ahem* No, but let's have some exemptions. The Chili Peppers definately have chops...they are a modern day AC/DC, good chops, good sound, but not too innovative and they tend to sound the same on each song. Radiohead was marginally technically gifted but only in comparison to the morons that surrounded them. They can play but they avoid anything too challenging (and then claim that choice to be motivated by artistic sensibility and not by technical limitations). Cake is good, they know how to groove and balance creativity and instrumental ability very well, and above all they don't take themselves too seriously (one would assume). The bassist who played with Ben Folds reminded me of my own style, due to his notey playing and use of fuzz. Maybe we both dug Chris Squire?

If you wanted to know who the REAL musicians were, take away the stages, take away fans who knew your names and your songs, take away all hopes and aspirations for success, recognition, and even the possibility that anyone would take the time to listen to your music. Strip all of that away, and you'd find untold numbers of musicians, particularly rock musicians, walking away. But jazz musicians...real jazz musicians...there is something about the way a guy who has unbelievable skill can sit in the corner of a restaurant with a small combo and groove and play these mind-blowing things that everyone else in the room just thinks of as "background music". No recognition, nothing. He's not going to get a record deal. He does it because his instrument is his voice (and for singers the reverse is true). I don't know, I'm a rocker by nature but I get so tired of the gigantic ego stuff that is pretty much the petrol in the tank of the rocknroll bus. To all the musicians I've ever known, I quote the aforementioned Radiohead: "ambition makes you look pretty ugly".

But even that stuff doesn't interest me all that much. Musicians ought to be free to do what floats their flotilla, I admit.

We have reached the end of my rant.

12 May 2006

I'm reading a number of tactical handgun defence books right now...tomorrow I'm taking a CCW course in Platte City. I've noted that firearms/self-defence authors tend to be comically opinionated, egotistical, and entirely dismissive of any views other than their own. However, they still have a lot of good points, and I tend to take all of their advice with a grain of salt and use what I can. No use becoming an acolyte of some particular instructor (although I've found myself generally in accord with Gabriel Suarez) and then dismiss the valuable teachings of other instructors. Sometimes unfortunately I get very mixed information...one teacher recommends the Harries technique for holding a handgun and flashlight, another dismisses it offhand as a foolish technique taught by inexperienced organizations (without clarification of its purported flaws).

The books can be humorous in their frankness though...an example is from the current book I'm reading (name and author escape my memory): "Chapter Eleven: Shooting Into Vehicles and Shooting From Vehicles". As horrible as that sounds, it did contain some very useful pieces of information that are better to know beforehand than to learn the hard way (in one of those God-forbid type scenarios).

While the quote down below (attributed on the net as being from Mark Twain, but I've not seen that substantiated) retains the much-sought-after position of My Current Favourite Quote, here's another good (if a bit sad) quote:

"Shoot straight, you bastards, don't make a mess of it!" - Leftenant Harry Morant, calling out a final request to his firing squad before shuffling off this mortal coil and joining the choir invisible.

08 May 2006

Well, I borrowed a cheap digital camera to let you see my happy family of firearms:

On top is my circa-1918 Lee Enfield SMLE No1MkIII...for the uninformed this was the standard battle rifle for the Brits for a long time (although during WWII it was a slightly modified variant, the No4). 10 rounds of British 303 with a surprisingly smooth bolt. Shame you can't see the Wilkinson bayonet in the photo...its a huge saber style bayonet, very beautiful.

Lower left, that's my Llama M1911 copy, chambered in (what else) .45ACP. Always on duty for home defence. A good gun, and after a thorough cleaning and oiling, a very nice, smoothly operating pistol. Lots of power, and fun to shoot.

Next is my wife's old Smith and Wesson .38 Special snubnose. 6 round cylinder loaded with hollowpoint currently. I keep this one....close.

Next is that beautiful new addition to the family, the Kel-Tec PLR-16. 30 round capacity of 5.56 NATO rifle ammunition, it's a big beast as you can see. For those times when "enough" just isn't enough.

Lastly, my first handgun, the Ruger MkII. A nice little .22LR plinker pistol, very accurate if unsuitable for defensive handgun purposes. A great way to have an inexpensive day at the range (22 rimfire ammo is ridiculously cheap).

Upcoming additions will most likely be first an ultra-concealable, sub-compact 9mm single-stack automatic (Kel-Tec PF9, most likely) for licensed carry, and eventually a tactical shotgun...the Mossberg 590 for extra home defence firepower.

Favourite Quote of the Moment:

"I like my beer dark, cigars strong, coffee black, bourbon straight, and politicians on the end of a rope." --Mark Twain

05 May 2006

My gun collection is growing. Got the Kel-Tec, and a big mammajamma it be, most definately. I also snagged a nice Brit 30 round mag in black...although burning through that would cost somewhere around 7 bucks with the ammo I bought (WWB). I'm not sure when I'll get to fire it because I'm so blasted busy, but perhaps down at the lake in the next several weeks (where rapid fire isn't grounds for getting kicked off the range!).

Here is what I plan on adding to it. First the fore-end, depicted in the previous post. That gives you a solid grip on the front for firing SMG-style. Also adds a lower rail. Then, a Phantom (YHM 5C1) flash suppressor, to lessen the huge muzzle blast and recoil this thing will have. Then, a red-dot sight. For rapid aiming and low-light environments this will be priceless. Finally, for the lower front rail, a laser dot sight, which allows you to shoot from the hip. I always think about guns in the tactical environment of my house, which realistically is the only place they would ever be used for anything but target practice, and these mods would give me advantages and flexibility in one of those "God forbid" situations. Is it overkill, you ask, when a simple revolver or 12 gauge is the accepted home defence system for most people? Perhaps, but I don't really care about overkill and the last thing I'm going to do is play fair if someone invades my home and threatens my wife and me. And my kitty (said in an Eric Cartman voice, of course). My active assumption if someone breaks into my house is that they are elite and well-equipped professionals (which I grant is highly unlikely) and therefore I'm prepared to use whatever force I have at my disposal to counter them. I suppose you could take it to extremes. An M249 would be a little excessive for a home defence weapon, as would a crate of frag grenades.

Right now I've just got FMJ ammo, which I'll use for target practice, but due to the lower muzzle velocity of the PLR (a result of the short barrel) I'll pick up some hollowpoint eventually, and fill a mag to have at the ready for the home defence scenario. Still got my S&W 38Spl snubnose, as well as my Spanish 1911 copy. I love that 1911...I field stripped it and spent a whole evening cleaning and oiling it. The slide is smooth and crisp now. Ready to launch a clip worth of .45 caliber lead at a moment's notice. I've only fired it a few times but it has never jammed or failed on me. The Ruger MkII is, well, a pretty target pistol and a fun plinker, that's about it. But I like it! Extraordinarily accurate. The Enfield, which I also stripped and cleaned, is as always, a beautiful old gun with a lot of class. I may mount it in my dining room. Next to the javolina head that I don't have.

I'm still pondering the ideal concealed carry weapon. The Kel-Tec P3AT weighs in at a ridiculous 7 ounces, and I held one at the gun store (insanely small!). The other one I'd consider is a Bersa Thunder 380, which is admittedly heavier but would fit my hand nicer and be a bit more accurate...it doesn't matter how lightweight the gun is if it can't put steel on target. Oh well, one gun at a time. Me and my hobbies...