"walls of the city" will be ceasing operations as of 01JUN15. Please see this post for more details.
"walls of the city" will be ceasing operations as of 01JUN15. Please see this post for more details.
Please be advised: “walls of the city” will be ceasing operations as of 01JUN15. All posts, images, and other web content will no longer be linkable. As such, please avail yourselves of the “Download [insert post name here] as PDF” link now at the bottom of every post, as well as downloading any relevant images you want to retain in a full-size state.
Full permission and authority is granted to any pro-rights or firearm-related weblog to republish, in part or in whole, any post, image, or other content on this site for any purpose that furthers civil, individual, or human rights, so long as all copyrights watermarks are retained and the content is attributed to “Linoge, formerly of ‘walls of the city'”. Organizations or individuals promoting restrictions on ownership and use of firearms, or any other rights, are prohibited from using any content from this site, as is any site/organization/etc. affiliated with Robert Farago.
Last weekend, I had the chance to visit the National Firearms Museum at the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, and let me just say this upfront – if you ever are in the area, you should definitely make the time to stop by.
I am not going to say that I am the world’s leading expert on firearms, but the number of things I saw that I had never heard of before was… impressive, plus I got to add all kinds of items to my “I always wanted to see…” list. For example, I can now say I have seen a Gyrojet Pistol (and Rifle – one of the things I never new existed), a Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver, a Dardick Series 1500, a Chameleon polymer revolver, a legitimate “Red 9” Mauser, a variety of Gatling guns, a Harmonica pistol, a Nazi belt gun, more engraved shotguns than even the Robertson clan would know what to do with, and a German wheel lock capable of shooting off 16 rounds without reloading (originally made before 1600… so much for “The Founding Fathers could not even conceive of firearms with ‘high capacity magazines’.”).
Simply put, the museum is huge, occupying the whole ground floor of one of the NRA building’s two towers, and completely worth the time to stop by.
In fact, my visit was only really marred by three things.
First, the “9/11 Revolver” – the Smith & Wesson J-Frame carried by NYPD Officer Walter Weaver – was absent. It was at the Great American Outdoor Show, so I guess I can spot them that.
Second, the firearms were not well-labeled in the cases. Oh, they were all identified… by numbers. Which you then had to remember, go find a computer, try to figure out which case you were looking at (the cases were not numbered, as far as I could tell), and navigate their kludgy and not-very-responsive touch-screen interface, just to get a name. I certainly grant all of the pictures of the items from various angles would not be easily displayed by the items themselves, but they could at least put a name on the number tag.
Third, speaking of pictures, I cannot post any of the ones I took. Before I went in, I actually had to sign an agreement stating that I would not post any pictures I took without first asking permission, though the document did not actually specify who I would/should ask permission from. In credit to the NRA possibly leaving the technological stone age, they did call out “blogs” specifically as somewhere to not post the pictures.
I am not really sure I understand the mentality behind that policy.
According to his Facebook page and now-closed Twitter account, Adam Mermer is 42 years old, a present resident of Boston, Massachusetts, and unsurprisingly single. Predictably, he somewhat vociferously supports the Patriots, though I do not at all understand his liking of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged. He used to work at Burque Jewelers a few years ago (which he apparently inherited from his father – only notable on account of how happy he seems to not work there any more), and, oh, by the way, he wants to murder you.
I wish I were joking.
… and …
Do not bother looking for the “@Delt72” Twitter account – the coward shut it down once he realized people were screencapturing his tweets and recording them for posterity. Unfortunately, he somewhat neglected to remember to appropriately protect his Facebook account…
Do you defend Constitutionally-protected human rights? Adam Mermer believes you are “scum” and “threatening” people.
Do you like a hobby that Adam Mermer does not like? Well, you should be punished, and preferably murdered by your government.
Do you own an inanimate lump of metal illegally? Adam Mermer thinks you should be murdered. Of course, he thinks it should be illegal to own all inanimate lumps of metal of a certain configuration, so he wants to murder a lot of people.
Do you express a willingness to defend your property, your rights, and your life from unjust and unconstitutional attacks? Adam Mermer would like to put you at the head of the line for riding the lightning, even ahead of mass murderers and rapists.
I confess to being easily amused at times, but it is just fascinating how Adam Mermer so vociferously claims to be anti-death and anti-violence and so forth, but then calls for outright murdering anyone who even so much as holds an opinion different than his own. Just as some people do want to take your firearms from you – despite no shortage of claims to the contrary – some people really do want to murder you for the simple act of standing up for your rights.
Why do I carry and own firearms? People like Adam Mermer are just one of the many reasons.
As I grow older, I discover that my political leanings appear to be somewhat approaching those of Professor Bernardo de la Paz of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, in that I am increasingly voluntarist – I do not like the idea of forcing people to do things – but I am willing to work within the current political construct simply because the cost-benefit analysis of bucking it does not end in my favor. Professor de la Paz is, unsurprisingly, a bit more revolutionary than me, as perhaps best summed up by this interchange between he and Wyoming Knott:
Why do I bring this up? Well, the anti-vaccine movement seems to be picking up again, in a curiously bipartisan fashion, and I thought I would provide my two cents on it. I am not going to bother linking to any of the big players or articles on it, simply because you have probably been inundated with all of that already, so this should be all nice and concise.
Given the above explanation, it should be no surprise that I am wookie-suited enough to believe that vaccines should not be mandated by the government, and should be an individual choice of the families in question. The very notion that a government is capable of forcing – and I do mean that term literally – a parent to inject their child with a substance is… beyond distasteful.
If you do not vaccinate your children, you are a goddamned moron.
Furthermore, and – dare I say – consistent with my aforementioned wookie-suited-ness, all businesses, enterprises, corporations, organizations, groups, and so forth where children regularly congregate – up to and including public schools and the like – should be capable of denying access to you/your children unless you can provide proof of up-to-date vaccinations. After all, business owners have rights too, and among those is the right to deny access to a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction*.
If that means I have to carry around a notarized vaccination card for a hypothetical child in the future, I will make that sacrifice so you can have your choice.
To be a goddamned moron.
And, really, if you sincerely believe it to be acceptable to return this hellish experience to “commonplace” in order to assuage your objections to a functionally non-existent risk, there are a whole host of words that would be more-accurate descriptors for you and your behavior.
These folks use some of that accurate language; you have been warned:
(* – No, I am not using that term lightly or facetiously. “Weapons of mass destruction”, as defined by the military, are “nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons”, and the idea of using smallpox as a weapon is not exactly a novel one.)
Apparently Robert Farago of The Truth About Guns recently tried to refer to Mr. Colion Noir as the “James May of guns”, or so a friend of mine recently brought to my attention. Honestly, I do not watch Top Gear, and have not watched many of Mr. Noir’s videos, so I am not going to wade into what amounts to a schoolyard “he smells bad!” screaming match*, but my friend provided this counterpoint:
Yeah, that seems about right.
(* – In retrospect, “match” is rather the wrong word, as I highly doubt Mr. Noir cares in the slightest what Robert thinks of him, so this is more of a “crazy nut-job screaming at a brick wall ‘match’”. Oh well.)
In that I did manage to give myself a procedural error at last night’s Wake County Action Pistol Match.
One of the stages ended with proceeding down a short hallway, stopping at a foul line, and engaging four targets hiding behind no-shoots and barrels. By the time I took care of the targets and was preparing to show safe and clear, I suddenly realize that I had both feet well over the foul line in question.
I certainly was not the only one to make that particular error, and no one got hurt, so it falls under “Live and Learn”. The good news is that I was able to shave 4 seconds off my total score, which bumped me from 37 to 29 on the match ranking; the bad news is that I seem to have done that by simply moving faster, at the cost of accuracy. Some of that loss of accuracy is entirely my fault, in that once the fans come on in the range there is a constant ~5mph breeze of outside air, which was at a brisk 30° or so last night. While I did learn my lesson from last week’s shoot and while I did wear more layers, it apparently was not enough. By the time I got to the final stage and had to do headshots at 20+ yards, my body was vibrating enough that I completely shanked them.
Note to self: dress for the conditions, and even though the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center is “indoors”, that is only relevant from the “precipitation” angle.
Anywise, I can only repeat myself from last week – if you are in the Raleigh area and want to get some trigger time doing things that might actually be useful in a self-defense scenario, take a look at the Wake County Action Pistol Match. They shoot twice a month, it is a good group of people, and more trigger time is always a good thing.
Yup, I still have it, and yes, I would still very much like to sell it. Changes from the last time it got posted include better differential gear ratios (3.54:1 versus 4.7:1, which means the V8 can maintain highway speeds all day long without any heat problems), the heater core works now, and all of the exterior lights are 100% good to go. The Craigslist ad is live, and it is reproduced here:
Yes, you read that right. I have a completely unissued, unfired CZ-52 (more accurately known as a vz. 52) pistol for sale. How, you ask? The good folks at CzechPoint stumbled across them a few years ago, and I will let them tell the story:
I snagged two when they were available, shot one, and held on to the other until I wanted the investment for something else, and here we are.
The gun comes with its original plastic shrink wrap (complete with the cosmoline I have not cleaned off), a magazine, a holster, a lanyard, a cleaning rod, and the aforementioned instruction manual. And, yeah, it has not been fired, as far as I can tell. I will the pictures tell the story.
As with the previous ad, the funds from this will go towards something worthwhile, if that helps your decision (and, hey, I would just be upgrading from one CZ to another).
… And not because of people disqualifying themselves either.
So regular readers will know that I have shot in all of two competitive shooting events since first taking up firearms – that shindig at Gunny’s Range in Tennessee where I managed to walk away with a shotgun, and a demonstration of Caracal pistols at ORSA (though I have heard rumors that Caracals are dead in America for the time being). Not exactly a stunning resume, I admit.
Honestly, one of the biggest hurdles to getting into the competitive shooting sports, for me, at least, is all of the stupid rules – your gun has to fit in this arbitrary box, you have to hold on to any magazine that still has a round in it, you have to engage targets in a certain order, you have to keep 57.376% of your body behind this wall, you have to stand on your head while reciting the alphabet backwards…. and so forth. Yes, I know that once I had a few rounds under my belt, I would get the hang of the rules and just run with them. And, yes, I know that in any competitive environment people will try to find ways to give themselves an edge, so rules like that become necessary over time. Still, I would rather spend my time shooting rather than keeping up with some hundred-page rulebook.
So I showed up yesterday with my Baby Eagle in its leather paddle holster and a few magazines, and did exactly that. I ended up scoring 37th out of a field of 56 shooters, which is not exactly amazing, but I probably cost my self at least 5 positions by very nearly giving myself a massive procedural error. Instead, I took the time to recover, which probably cost me less in the end.
The folks who attended ran the full gamut of genders, skin tones, and ages, and were fielding the full range of firearms, all the way from fairly stock .22s in Fobus holsters to custom-built-and-tuned race guns in dedicated, ready-to-go-out-of-the-bag competition belt rigs. Semi-autos did rule the day, but when individual stages required 20 rounds, a revolver would have taken a while.
I would like to especially thank the Range Officers at the match last night; their efforts in setting up interesting stages, and their patience for newbies like me asking admittedly stupid questions, is definitely appreciated. Also worthy of note is that PractiScore is a pretty nifty piece of software; all the ROs had tablets and were recording scores to a central database as we were progressing through the matches. The scores were posted online basically by the time I got home from the range.
Take-aways from the shoot? Pay attention to when the rules tell you that you have to reload. Practice draw strokes… a lot. Slow down a little – I was twice as slow as the top scorers, on average, but also had 30% more penalty points. Dropping those down will not help my position too terribly much, but accuracy always beats speed. And, I kind of hate to admit it, but it may be time to start moving away from my Baby Eagle.
Yes, it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but hear me out. The Baby Eagle was the first firearm I ever purchased, and it was bought with one goal in mind – to provide a trainer for the M9 I was having to carry in the military at the time. Well, I do not carry an M9 any more, and never will again if I have any vote in it, and I have concluded I dislike both slide-mounted safeties and Double-Action/Single-Action triggers. Unfortunately, I do not have any other full-size, semi-automatic handguns, and I do not want to have to start up another logistics train.
So, in the interest of not having to acquire another stash of magazines, I am vaguely looking at a CZ 75 SP-01. I would like to get away from manual safeties entirely, but I cannot find a striker-fired handgun that takes CZ magazines, unfortunately (feel free to point one out if you know of one), and this arrangement at least allows me to carry “cocked and locked” with the safety on the frame where it should be. Plus, finding holsters for the SP-01 is basically trivial, while a holster for the Baby Eagle took a custom job from a friend… or shipping one in from Israel.
Anywise, just a thought. If you are in the Wake County area, I would definitely recommend taking a look at the Action Pistol shoots. There is another one coming up next Wednesday, and they explain how to register on their Facebook page; at the very least, they let you practice two things most ranges do not let you touch – drawing from a holster and shooting while moving.
To give you a better frame of reference, here are the “before” pictures of my AR pistol.
In a beautifully coincidental turn of events, a package from Thordsen Customs arrived in the mail the same day the BATFE reversed their previous decisions and concluded that shouldering the SB15 is a Very Bad Idea™. In any case, the SB15 came off and was replaced by one of Thordsen’s “Enhanced Buffer Tube Cover Kits”, on which I also mounted a CAA Saddle, courtesy of a Saddle Adapter Kit.
There were no real problems with installation; the only slight catch is that the Buffer Tube Cover is designed to go over a “normal” buffer tube and use the stock key on the bottom of the tube to center the cover. Since my tube lacks that feature, I just had to eyeball it and go. It is worth noting that Thordsen sells keyed buffer tubes without stock detents milled into them, so you can have both the advantage of not having to worry about centering and not having to worry about some overzealous BATFE weenie claiming you “intended” to install a “real” stock on your pistol. In any case, the Buffer Tube Cover worked just fine with the KAK SB-15 Pistol Buffer Tube, so no worries on that count, and it gives me a little more clearance so my monkey arms are not all bound up.
My only real complaint is that the CAA Saddle is… well, crap, which tends to correlate with my other experiences with that brand. It gets the job done, sure, but the amount of flashing on the plastic I had to scrape off one way or another was absolutely atrocious:
If I had known for certain that an MFT E-VOLV would have fit, I would have bought one of those instead, but I was not sure if it was compatible with the necessary Adapter Kit to get it to mate up with the Buffer Tube Cover. Oh well, the CAA thing works just fine, but it solidifies my inclination to shy away from that company.
The only other change is that the previous end plate was swapped out for a rather interesting Damage Industries QD Thin Profile end plate – basically it allows a quick-detach plug to be inserted into the divot in the lower receiver directly beneath the buffer tube. The QD gadget is then rotation-limited by the buffer tube, and happily ambidextrous to boot, which works out pretty well when coupled with a Single-Point Sling from the same people.
The intent – which has been tested with dry-fire at home, but not live-fire at the range yet – is to adjust the single-point sling appropriately that the saddle is perfectly positioned for cheek-welding when the sling is taught, and then use my right hand on the pistol grip to push out on the firearm and the sling to pull back to create something of a dynamic tension, with my cheek stabilizing the whole thing (kind of like the middle image here, but definitely not like the bottom image). Obviously this is an AR pistol, just like it always has been, so it is not exactly going to be the most accurate thing in the world, but it will work just fine for entertainment purposes. My only slight glitch is that the single-point sling has a rubber strip on the inside, which complicates repositioning it; not the end of the world, though.
Better Half asked why not just cheek-weld on the buffer tube itself, and the answers are pretty straightforward – the bare metal is uncomfortable, the recoil spring inside is loud when not dampened by surrounding material, and most AR sights are optimized for having material on the buffer tube. Basically, this all comes down to user comfort.
As folks on the Book of Faces have noted, the Thordsen rig is not immune from the BATFE whimsically changing their minds in the future (Thordsen posted the current letter they have from the BATFE), but I figure it has two things going for it. First, it is not a “stabilizing brace” or “arm brace”, and thus does not fall under the purview of the recent bout of F-Troop idiocy, and, second, it does not have the “foot” of a actual stock, and thus the likelihood of idiotic people ruining a good thing by bombarding the BATFE with “clarification” letters is markedly diminished. Yes, I do believe that they would have eventually reversed their “shouldering it changes nothing” decision, just because even the imbeciles at the BATFE would eventually realize how badly that was endangering the validity of the NFA*, but I have absolutely no doubt that idiots looking a gift horse in the mouth and bombarding the BATFE with “mother, may I?” letters accelerated that process precipitously.
So, for the love of God, shut up and stop asking stupid questions you do not really want the answer to.
(* – I am not a lawyer and all that, but before this most-recent “clarification” letter I could totally see an argument being made along the lines of, “So, DC v. Heller mentions that firearms ‘in common use for lawful purposes’ are protected by the Constitution. Y’all at the BATFE have indicated that shouldering a pistol with an SB-15 is lawful, in that it does not change a firearm into an NFA-regulated device, and given the number of SB-15s in circulation right now, they are certainly ‘in common use’. So if shouldering something that looks like a stock – but is not – is ok, why is shouldering something that is a stock not ok?” Obviously, this is no longer valid with the most-recent letter, especially given how they called out and “revoked” the previous letters, but I have to wonder if this thought occurred to them. Only their underwear will ever know.)
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and Screwing Up a Good Time decided to go ahead and make itself clear regarding “stabilizing” “arm braces” on pistols. The takeaway you should take to heart is as follows:
Or, to put it another way, if there is a picture of you firing a pistol with your SB15 or equivalent item braced against your shoulder, and the BATFE gets their grubby little mitts on it, you could be facing up to and including 10 years in prison.
I particularly like how they specifically call out the previous letters and “revoke” them. I wonder if the people who wrote them still have their jobs? Given the state of “civil service”, I would wager yes.
Of course, the fact that anyone at the BATFE still has a job is a damning condemnation of “civil service” if there ever were one.
(Originally brought to my attention by WizardPC.)
On the surface, that is an all-too-appropriate characterization of how anti-rights cultist treat any argument that boils down to “blame the person not the tool”, but think about the larger concept for a second.
You know that people – not the tools they happen to be using at the time – are responsible for their own actions. I know this. Any sane person knows this. But we still have people, even to this “modern” day, who blame the object, not the wielder.
And, as Seneca the Younger there demonstrates, this is not a new concept – after all, apparently it needed to be said, even back around 50 AD.
Think about that for a second; nearly 2000 years have elapsed since Seneca last picked up his pen, but we are still saddled, both legislatively and culturally, with the positively bizarre notion that objects are to blame for people’s actions, or objects cause people to act in certain ways, or so forth. For all that we consider ourselves modern, our society certainly has not matured very much past fetishists being terrified of little clay idols.
So I have had a Cannon gun safe (basically what turned into their Scout Series before it was actually named that) for a number of years now, and I have been planning on exploiting their ethernet/USB-pass-through features for almost as long, without any easy way of actually accomplishing that. The safe was always too far from the router for an ethernet cable to be anything but a trip hazard or eyesore, homeplug-style hardware works, strictly speaking, but I have never found it to be terribly reliable, and shoving a full computer in the safe did not exactly seem… well, safe, on account of heat build-up.
This past Christmas, Better Half provided me a solution by way of getting me a Raspberry Pi. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Pis are really, really small form-factor computers that can run basic Linux distributions (among other operating systems, but those are the big ones). They have no hard drive to speak of, and no real heat source, but they have USB connectivity, which is all I really needed for my little project to work.
I started by installing Raspbian by way of the NOOBS install package, which was about as painless an OS install as one can get. After turning on SSH (by way of the command “raspi-config”), I did not need to have a keyboard or mouse plugged into the Pi any more, and to keep things simple and always know “where” the Pi was, I had my router assign its MAC address a permanent IP address (I initially tried to have the Pi handle its own static IP, but that proved beyond my limited Linux abilities). Better Half also got me an Edimax EW-7811Un nano USB wireless dongle, and while there are instructions on how to get it set up and running from the command line, I will admit I was never able to get those to work… so I gave up and used the GUI interface inside “startx” which was about as painless as getting the adapter to work on Windows would have been.
After that just came the question of mounting an external, self-powered (or hub-powered – the Pi does not have massive USB power output abilities) hard drive and installing/configuring samba, and I now had a network-accessible hard drive that I could put basically anywhere in the house.
So I did.
Above, on the left, you can see the Pi resting on top of a Seagate 2TB external hard drive. Yes, it is that small. In the middle, you can see the inside of the safe’s power / USB / ethernet pass-through – the top two plugs are for the Pi and the hard drive, with the bottom plug being for the dehumidifier rod Better Half also got for me. Obviously the safe is a very large metal box, so wifi signal inside of it will not be optimal, if available at all (do safes count as Faraday cages?), so I had to use a male-to-male USB jumper to plug the Pi into the safe’s pass-through, and then a male-to-female USB extension to get the dongle on top of the safe, as seen in the right picture. Better Half also included this case with the Pi, which I still need to install.
The only other big thing I did was told my home router to refuse any and all incoming and outgoing traffic to/from the Pi (after updating it thoroughly, of course). The Pi and its hard drive are providing a tertiary backup to the RAID’d hard drive in my home computer, so there is no need for it to even know the internet exists.
Once that was all set up, I went into SyncBack and changed the destination of its nightly backup routines, and I was done.
Now, the Scout series is only good for 1200° for 30 minutes in fires, by which Cannon means the interior of the safe should not exceed 350° within that timespan given that exterior temperature. That is all good and well for paper and wood, but I have no idea how temperature-resistant external hard drives are. Still, that beats having the drive just sitting on a desk, and that is, of course, the bare minimum of most fire ratings these days – Cannon has pass-through-capable safes running all the way up to 90 minute fire ratings, and other companies claim fire resistances of even higher temperatures for as long or longer. Plus the safe offers a degree of physical protection for your data as well, in the event of a theft or other break-in.
I will not lie, you should at least be aware of command line interfaces before undertaking this project, and we definitely checked and rechecked everything before plugging a hard drive with backup data already on it into the Pi. But, all said, it really was not that bad, and gives some degree of security to those those 63,000 pictures I somehow managed to accumulate.
[Update] I had to implement this change in order to prevent the wifi connection from going to sleep. [/Update]
In case you have not heard, 12 people were murdered today by a couple of undereducated, over-indoctrinated, violent radicals who got their lace panties in a twist over a couple of cartoons depicting their chosen messiah in less-than-flattering ways.
And even without me specifying the religion of the attackers in that sentence, I bet you can figure out which one the murderous assholes adhered to without clicking through the link. Which is part of the problem.
Anywise, I had originally made this graphic to address anti-rights cultists who were demanding that I surrender my rights/property/etc., but it seems equally applicable to religious radicals who demand I surrender my rights/speech/etc.:
This variation is my current Twitter header:
(Original photo by Oleg Volk.)
Finally, there is a (graphic – you have been warned) video of the terrorists shooting a police officer begging for his life in the street. Assuming that video was taken with a cell phone, and assuming that cell phone’s field of view is anything like mine’s, a shot on those terrorists would not be difficult for a decently-practiced individual with a handgun, much less an actual carbine or rifle. At the very least, unexpected return fire from an elevated position would have distracted the terrorists and possibly saved the police officer’s – and others’ – life.
As I said on the Book of Faces and Twitters earlier today, just imagine if everyone with a camera or cell phone recording the shooting had a firearm – along with the training and will to use it – instead.
Or, as someone with a little more first-hand experience once stated:
Feel free to use these as you like, but remember that far better artists than me are risking their lives to express themselves. For some particularly disgusting individuals and groups, simply holding to or verbalizing a position different from theirs is sufficient cause for them to want to murder you; what is your planned response should they decide that you are next?
Me, I do not plan on going home in a body bag, and thus I will equip and train myself accordingly.
As of 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was processing 200,000 NFA-related applications a year, which was a growth of over 380% from 2005. Each of those applications carries a check of $200 (assuming they are not for Any Other Weapons, which only cost $5 to transfer), which results in around $40,000,000 in revenue for the New York Avenue Boys. Obviously not all applications are for short-barreled rifles (I would bet the plurality, if not majority, are for suppressors), but if people are buying “pistol braces” instead of paying tax stamps, well, that is unrealized revenue for the BATFE, and we just cannot have that.
And after the BATFE came out and said, “Using such an accessory improperly would not change the classification of the firearm per Federal Law,” you know and I know and everyone knows why people were buying SB-15s – to brace their AR pistols on their forearms, of course.
Anywise, things have changed, and while the potential impact “pistol braces” had on the NFA tax stamp market may not have been the motivating factor in the BATFE’s changing opinions, it is always good to remind ourselves that the Bureau’s roots can be traced back to part of the Department of Treasury, originally as the “Revenue Laboratory”. The revenoors may have diversified from their original purpose, sure, but the government rarely gives up a source of revenue – any source of revenue – without a fight.
Just look at how many toll roads persist in keeping their tolls long after their construction has been paid for…
It seems the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives wants to make itself abundantly clear on the topic of “pistol braces”, this time in the form of a letter to Thordsen Customs, a company that makes “buffer tube covers” that allow for saddle kits to be attached to them.
As Mr. Adam Krout, Esq. says, the takeaway you want to pay attention to is this:
(Alright, seriously, does the BATFE just not proof anything that goes out their door any more? I could write a better sentence than that, and do so frequently.)
How will the BATFE, in its infinite wisdom, determine that you have changed a firearm such that it is now “intended to be fired from the shoulder”? I have not the foggiest, but I would reiterate that if there is any documentation of you using a pistol with a “pistol brace” attached to it by means of placing said “pistol brace” against your shoulder, I would go ahead and remove that from the intertubes now.
As for my SB15-equipped pistol? Well, like I have always said, it was built as a pistol and it is presently a pistol. I am contemplating replacing the SB15 with one of Thordsen’s kits, though, just to make that abundantly clear.
Also, given my prospective, and now cancelled, next build was going to be something that was not an AR-15 but used an AR-15 pistol buffer tube, I direct your attention to this paragraph:
On the one hand, a buffer tube serves absolutely no “legitimate, vital function” on a pistol built around a Charger receiver. On the other hand, the BATFE claims putting a buffer tube onto any given pistol does not make the pistol an SBR. On the gripping hand, now that the BATFE has mentioned it, I think I will just keep my distance.
I will not lie – I bought now-both of my SB15s to poke the bear, but I think it is safe to say that the bear is now fully aware of the situation and paying attention. What the bear does now is anyone’s guess, but I am betting it will not be pleasant for those to whom it does it. Like I said before, I sincerely hope the SB15 and its brethren are the foundation for knocking out at least the SBR portion of the NFA, but until that happens, the potential for Very Bad Things™ to happen to people over arbitrary and whimsical “determinations” remains pretty high.
(For bonus reading material, the Prince Law Offices blog has a couple of posts up about how “pistol braces” have… magically transformative properties. If honest-to-God lawyers are having difficulty figuring out what the BATFE is saying, I think I will back away slowly.)
So I was going to write a post about how my next firearm build was going to involve Ruger’s re-released Charger in a Nordic Components AR22 Stock Kit with an SB15 attached to the back end, but then the BATFE, in their infinite wisdom, went and said this:
Leaving aside their positively horrific grammar (seriously, learn what a semi-colon is and how to use it), apparently the act of taking an AR pistol with an SB15 brace attached and placing it against your shoulder “makes” the firearm in question a rifle. It is worth noting that this was written by Max M. Kingery, the Acting Chief of the Firearms Technology Industry Services Branch; on the other hand, these paragraphs were written by Earl Griffith, the Chief of the Firearms Technology Branch:
Now, the former blockquote – from FTB # 907010 – arguably supersedes the latter blockquote – from FTB # 903050 – just on account of being “newer”, however, here is the stickler: neither of these are legally binding, in any sense of the word. Both are simply “opinions” provided by the BATFE and only applicable to the specific case / question that they are responding to.
Which, as far as I can tell, means the BATFE is trying to set people up to be an example. The unfortunate truth is that we will not “really” know if the SB15 is legal to use as a stock until the BATFE does make an example of someone and the case goes before a court… But, suffice to say, if you have any pictures online of you using one from the shoulder, I might suggest taking them down at your earliest possible convenience.
(And for those people who incessantly whine, “Just get the tax stamp and make an SBR,” my answer remains, “No.” Having to pay $200 and pass a background check that verges on a proctology exam all for being allowed the “privilege” of shaving an inch off your rifle’s or shotgun’s barrel is completely and utterly asinine. I am all for finding any and all workarounds for that particular piece of archaic idiocy, and I sincerely hope the prevalence of the SB15 can and will be used to overturn the National Firearms Act, in part or full. I am not particularly optimistic about that happening, but I still support the attempt.)
(I do have to wonder what happens if you put a Glock in a stockless RONI and hold it up to your shoulder, though…)
While I was waiting for Remington to unscrew themselves, I concluded that a Savage Model 11 Long Range Hunter in 6.5 Creedmoor would be my next choice for a Boomershoot-able rifle, and went ahead and ordered one from Dragon Leatherworks.
Oh, did you not know? Dragon Leatherworks is presently a fully-operational FFL, from which you can order firearms and parts online. Obviously any firearm you purchase has to go through a local FFL, per the relevant federal laws, but here is the cut-above-the-rest detail for working with Dennis – he is planning on personally inspecting everything people buy from him before he sends it out. In the case of my rifle, he shipped it first to himself, checked it over, and then sent it on to my FFL; at least that way, I was sure I was getting a rust-free rifle.
The extra step added a few days, but given my last experience with mail-ordering firearms, it was worth it.
If you have not heard of Vortex Optics, they are worth a look based on their warranty alone, and aside from that, their upper-end stuff gets consistently good reviews. Admittedly, I purchased the upper end of their middle line, but I have been pretty happy with it so far.
Evolution Gun Works Inc. is kind of an interesting company, if only because everything they make is serialized (well, that I have seen so far, at least). Sure, the scope mount is serialized, and that is not too surprising, but the scope rings are serialized as well – all four parts. Front and rear rings are made together, on the same machine, at the same time, so they are as close to “matching out the box” as you can possibly get.
Assembly of all the parts was about as easy as it is supposed to be. I ended up getting a Wheeler FAT Wrench to properly torque the mounts – I figured if I was going to spend that much on glass, I might as well do it right – and a couple of cheapy bubble levels to get the scope properly lined up with the bore. Amusingly, the leveling was the most annoying aspect of the installation – I would get everything more or less where I wanted them, torque down on the screws, and then see that everything shifted ever so slightly. I must have tightened and loosened the screws… honestly, I lost count.
The only other slight hiccup is that, while it does come in a Accustock, the Savage was not fully free-floated. The very tip of the stock touched the barrel, and apparently this is an issue that Savage has been aware of for a number of years now. I called up their customer support line, and they said I could send the stock back and they could fix it, or I could simply sand down the offending part of the stock and call it a day. 30 minutes of effort later with a piece of sand paper and a metal punch I had out in the garage, and I figure it is good enough for my uses.
With the rifle and optics sorted, the only thing remaining is ammunition – I went with Hornady’s Match 140gr A-Max rounds just based on their impressive (on paper, at least) performance, which, coincidentally, is exactly what Savage recommends for the rifle as well.
Alright, enough with the yammering; how did it actually shoot? Once I got the optic mostly sighted in (I ran out of ammo to get it really where I wanted it) and after I did shoot-five-swab for 50 rounds, these were the best three groupings in increasing awesomeness (all of them are 5 shots at 100 yards at an indoor range with a sandbag under the fore-end and my hand under the buttstock, and the squares are 1″):
0.88” grouping center-to-center if you include the flyers, which I did not call, so you probably should. 0.2” without the flyers.
1.1” grouping with the flyer, 0.47” without.
0.45” group, period.
If this rifle is starting as a 0.5 MOA rifle with my sorry arse-who-has-not-seriously-pulled-the-trigger-on-a-long-range-target-since-the-last-Boomershoot behind it, I think this is going to work out just fine.
I did have some interesting notes from the range… 24x allows me to self-spot my own hits without a spotting scope, which is something 16x did not. And after fooling around with glass at the last NRAAM, I realized I honestly cannot tell the difference between a $5000 scope and a $1000 scope in terms of clarity and color, but I definitely can tell the difference between a $850 scope and a $160 scope (I am trying to work up a post with photographs of the differences, but taking pictures through rifle scopes is annoyingly challenging). The adjustable comb on the Long Range Hunter model is nice, but I need to remember to try it on while wearing hearing protection before going to the range next time. I am never going to mix MOA and mil measurements on an optic again; the PST has an MOA reticle and MOA adjustments, which makes life so much easier. Apparently the muzzle brake on the LRH (which I left open – I will examine how closing it changes the point of aim later) makes the rifle quite loud, according to other people, though the noise was not that bad right behind it. Likewise, the recoil for the new round really was not that much worse than .243 Winchester – I know there was more energy being thrown downrange, but apparently the muzzle break counteracted it or the new rifle is heavier or something. And I have no idea if this is a normal characteristic for 6.5 Creedmoor, but the barrel never really warmed up (i.e. it was never uncomfortable to touch), and the brass was hardly even warm straight out of the chamber. Honestly, it was kind of strange, though I am not strictly complaining.
And, in reality, I think I am pretty happy with this outcome. Now I just need more trigger time.
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