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"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

presented without comment, updated

On account of me potentially fumble-fingering the last version, and new yearly data being available, here is an updated version of the last one

USEnglandMurderRates

If anyone has any data from England and Wales that goes farther back than 1967, I would appreciate it – I have data on the US going back to 1960, but I want to compare equivalent time spans.  The intersection point of those two trendlines is now about 40 years out, for those curious. 

(United States murder rate from Disaster Center / FBI UCR.  England/Wales murder rate from Office for National Statistics, Crime Statistics, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/2013, Appendix Table 2.01.  Readers are reminded that the murder rate in the United Kingdom as a whole is much higher than published, potentially up to two times higher, due to their … questionable … categorization methods.) 

‘tis the season

There is an advantage to having a vehicle with a built-in 120V adapter and a roof rack: 

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North Carolina being North Carolina, I figure it is only a matter of time before I am pulled over for having non-DOT-approved lights. 

we now have the most awesomest christmas tree ever

ChristmasLightYup, that is a real, live, honest-to-God, NCDOT traffic light underneath it. 

No, I am not saying where we got it. 

Yes, I wired it up myself. 

Yes, there is a fire extinguisher handy. 

well, that was different

I have a thing about raw meat.  Blood does not bother me in the slightest, but I go out of my way to not touch raw meat – I use forks to hold things I am cutting, I am very careful about unwrapping the whole thing, and I am obsessive about washing my hands afterwards, regardless of whether or not I actually touched it.  Honestly, this is probably one of the primary reasons I do not hunt*. 

On a completely related note (I promise), Better Half and I elected to totally slack-out this past Thanksgiving, and got one of those all-in-one-meal-deals from Kroger, wherein they provide the turkey, the side dishes, and so forth, and we provide… well, the utensils.  Frankly, it was awesome.  I mean, the quality of the side dishes obviously did not measure up to what we could make for ourselves, but, by the same token, “preparation” consisted of shoving what could be in the oven for a few hours, and microwaving the rest, and “clean-up” consisted of putting a few plates in the dishwasher and throwing away the trays the food came in. 

Yeah.  I could get used to that. 

Anywise, one of the primary reasons we went with a preprepared Thanksgiving meal is because we wanted to try a fried turkey, but had absolutely no interest in actually frying one ourselves.  Kroger provided exactly that, so what the hey? 

I want to stress that the turkey came from Kroger pre-cooked, and we followed the instructions for preheating – X amount of time in its foil, Y amount of time outside of the foil, and so forth.  We accounted for its weight, and even left it in the oven a little long as we got everything else ready.  In other words, we were not actually concerned over the meat being cooked. 

Well, at the end of it, this is what the dark meat from the leg – arguably the most-definitely cooked portion of the bird – looked on my plate: 

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That red stuff at the back was the cranberry salad, but I did not get any on the piece of “dark” meat there at the center. 

Yeah, given my difficulties with raw meat, finishing my dinner was… a challenge.  After we wrapped up Thanksgiving proper, we shoved the turkey back into the oven, uncovered, and roasted it for another hour or three.  After that, the meat reached more the consistency we were expecting, though the pinkish coloration stuck around. 

So, yeah, fried turkey is tasty, but be prepared for an… unusual… coloration and consistency, unless you reheat the crap out of it.  Though I have no idea if a freshly-fried turkey would have the same result. 

(* – Another off those reasons being, as my father once phrased it, “It’s called ‘fishing’, not ‘catching’.”  And a third reason is that I am not convinced that my accuracy is good enough.  I think I am ok with killing prey**, but it would upset me to no end to mortally – or even not – wound an animal, only to be unable to finish the job because it got away.) 

(** – Though, me being me, I would only kill something if I (1) planned on eating it or (b) was exterminating vermin (coyotes, prairie dogs, etc.).) 

bottoms up

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For being such an… interesting… drug, methotrexate pills are rather… unimpressive. 

Anywise, I have managed to kick my rather persistent cold to the curb (that was a fun way to spend Thanksgiving), so we figured it was time to attack my immune system a new and different way.  Because that sounds like fun. 

Hopefully this stuff helps with the psoriatic arthritis.  Or hopefully it does not suck too bad.  With my recent history, though, I would not be surprised if I were 0 for 2. 

for a less civilized age

I am certainly not encouraging my readers to knowingly break the law, nor am I saying I am going to break the law, but we all know how absurdly ineffective security theater really is, and the notion that law-abiding, peaceful citizens should be forcibly disarmed while criminals will simply ignore, bypass, or plow through the “security” measures is… distasteful. 

Thankfully, people have been thinking outside the box when it comes to self-defense implements for inside “non-permissive” zones; for example, my tactical pen has been through airport security repeatedly on two continents with nary a problem.  Or, if you want something a little more purpose-built, you can consider something like the SOB Puncher, created by the “Sheriff of Baghdad” John McPhee

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The Puncher measures 4.57” in overall length, and 2.165” in overall width, and is made of two laminated scales of G10 micarta and thus has no magnetic signature. 

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The handle section is 0.51” thick, with the blade segment being 0.255”, and the blade itself extends 2.6” past the finger guards. 

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This is definitely not meant to be an everyday-carry kind of knife; the G10 is dense enough that the grind does provide it a noticeable edge and a point that will assuredly work, but sharpening it is not really an option and the handle does not lend itself to trivial tasks like box-opening. 

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From a scant day of fooling around with it, I have found that gripping it, at least for me, has to be done carefully.  If I just grab it quickly, the blade has a tendency to protrude out from my proximal interphalangeal joint (basically, the first one out from your knuckles), which cants it down about 30 degrees.  It is still in the right direction, but one punches with one’s knuckles, not one’s fingers. 

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When I grasp the grip between my first and last phalanges, however (i.e. not involving my palm at all), the result would work just fine for an average punch. 

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Obviously strikes can be modified for the direction of the blade, but it is something to bear in mind. 

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I do not have any mil-spec-correct MOLLE equipment handy at the moment (the blade width – 1.03 at its widest – was designed to fit in those loops), but I dare say my tactical sporran provides a convenient place to mount it. 

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I am still contemplating how to make a kydex sheath/holster/holder for this thing, given I do not always have tactical gear on (no, really); I have a few random ideas, but am not sure whether or not I can execute them, especially since the goal is to use a minimum of metal, if any at all. 

Alton Brown regularly warns against unitaskers, and I generally agree with him.  In fact, SGM (ret) McPhee makes it quite clear that he intended this little implement for people who Go Places, Do Things, and intentionally put themselves in harm’s way… in other words, not lazy slobs like me.  However, this tickled my irony bone, and serves as a wonderful reminder that if people really want to circumvent security measures, they can and they will.  It is wise to plan, train, and possibly equip accordingly. 

(Speaking of, I have no idea of the legality of carrying this gidget in your state, much less my own.  I am not sure if this legally counts as a “knife” on account of having no metal or cutting edge to speak of, or what other category it might fall under.  I imagine that if you were to use it, you would have larger issues to contend with, but, as always, your remaining lawful is up to you, not me.) 

(If you want an SOB Puncher of your own, you will have to email SGM (ret) McPhee directly at “john (at) sobtactical (dot) com” on account of SOB’s marketplace not being operational quite yet.) 

in honor of gt beating uga

And as a palate-cleanser from the last post, I give you: 

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Have not had a chance to start the exciting meds yet… some stupid cold tackled me the day after we decided to proceed, and something told us that taking an immunosuppressive when already sick was something of a bad idea.  Shocker, I know. 

i really wanted to title this post something else

… But I figured I probably should not.  We will get to that. 

Anywise, regular readers should be familiar with the multi-year, still-ongoing saga of my gimpy pinkie finger, but here is the quick recap for people who do not hang on my every word. 

Back in December of 2011, I managed to slice open the first interphalangeal joint of my right pinkie finger on the pull-top lid of a can of soup.  This resulted in about a dime-sized flap of skin attached on one side, and I cleaned it out as thoroughly as I could at the time, went to see a doctor as soon as I could and he pretty much said, “Yup, that’s what we would have done,” and I went back about my life. 

About six months later, the joint started swelling, and its range of motion/strength really started diminishing rapidly.  It got to the point where we had it MRI’d in November of 2012, and the tentative diagnosis at the time was a ruptured pulley.  Unfortunately, months of physical therapy did not seem to provide any improvement on the situation, so we decided to see a few more doctors and get a few more opinions… which, of course, wildly varied and often contradicted

After discussing the options with one of the doctors, we decided to go ahead and do an exploratory surgery where the doctor could lay eyes on the pulleys and other mechanisms directly, take biopsies for full cultures, and drain off some of the fluid that was obviously clogging up the joint.  However, despite basically flaying my finger open and growing God-knows what in a lab somewhere, the doctor could not find anything mechanically or pathologically wrong with my finger, aside from “swollen”.  His final verdict was, and I am more-or-less directly quoting, “You are just going to have to live with it.” 

Shiny. 

Fast forward to the NRAAM this past April, where I managed to jam my left ring toe (is there a better name for it?) in a door.  Within a few days, it was exhibiting the same symptoms as my pinkie, and, predictably, it refused to let go of its swelling; in fact, it gets to the point where simply wearing shoes hurts, and walking for more than a mile is pretty much right out thanks to the pain.  On good days, it does not look too bad… on bad days, you have to wonder if it is not having a massive allergic reaction the way it swells up.  Alright, this is no longer a one-off thing; this is starting to look rather systemic. 

So we go see a general practitioner, who refers us to a rheumatologist, who says, “Well, it could be this, and it could be this, and it could be this… do you have any other symptoms?”  It turns out that some small rashes I have had on my head for a while might be relevant, and the rheumatologist sends me over to a dermatologist, who slices off part of one of the rashes and, a few days later, proclaims “psoriasis”. 

It turns out that “psoriatic arthritis” is a thing, and the most likely explanation for all of my various symptoms. 

Yay!  We know what the answer (probably) is!  That means we can fix it, right?  ….Right?  Well… not so much.  Just like psoriasis, there is no “cure”, strictly speaking; you can convince both to go into remission, but they will never really be fixed.  In reality, the medical community does not know a great deal about psoriasis, up to and including its root causes, so “treatments” are strictly palliative in nature. 

The first order of treatments is Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, and we tried that for about a month – the swelling was diminished and the pain was controlled, but it was not worth the stomach upset and the symptoms returned rapidly after I came off the horse pills. 

methotrexate2So, it is time to move on to the second level of treatments – I get to start chemotherapy*.  Now, before people start viscerally reacting to that word, let us clarify a few points.  First, “chemotherapy” strictly means, “the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs,” it is just that the latter half of the definition is implemented a lot more often than not these days.  Second, my doctor is recommending methotrexate, which, amusingly, meets both aspects of the definition depending on doses.  At high levels, it is quite handy at beating back a number of various cancers, but at lower levels (like 1/10th the dose, if not even less, taken much less frequently), it is a treatment for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and, of course, psoriatic arthritis.

At the smaller doses, methotrexate functions as a Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug, and is strictly an immunosuppressive – basically it controls the body’s desire to produce more skin cells (the symptomatic rashes of psoriasis are due to out-of-control skin growth, basically) while simultaneously diminishing the inflammatory response at the joints.  Honestly, I do not really understand the “how” of this – it involves T-cells and purine metabolism and methyltransferase activity and other things I barely comprehend – but somewhere around 50 years of use indicates it does work, at least for most people treated with it.  Plus, it reduces the inflammation in such a way to prevent future damage to the joints by way of continual erosion, which, considering I developed this at the ripe old age of 29, seems like a good thing to me. 

It is important to note that this is not a radiological drug, so no “glow in the dark” jokes, please.  Still, my parents were mildly amused at their son starting chemotherapy so soon after my father wrapped up his.  Situational humor… what are you going to do? 

Compared to what some people are going through, I guess I should not complain too much, but this was not exactly the answer we were expecting.  Still, we have an answer, and a path forward, so I guess there is that. 

And on a related note, if you ever need any rheumatology work done in the Greater Raleigh-Durham area, we strongly recommend looking up Dr. Tony Ning at Triangle Orthopaedic Associates

(* – This is what I really wanted to title this post, but I figured the explanation was really necessary, for honesty’s sake.) 

(Note:  I am not a doctor and I am not your doctor.  A lot of what I am saying may be wrong; take this all with a grain of salt.) 

aaaaand… meme-ified

airriflebisonmeme3

(See here for the explanation.) 

delivered straight to your doors, no questions asked

I realize I may be telling you something you already know, but I want to highlight this quote from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Based on Section 921(a)(3), air guns, because they use compressed air and not an explosive to expel a projectile, do not constitute firearms under Federal law — unless they are manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm. Accordingly, the domestic sale and possession of air guns is normally unregulated under the Federal firearms laws enforced by ATF.

In other words, and barring any kind of state legislation that might say otherwise, an air rifle can be mailed straight to your door, no background checks required, no questions asked, no paperwork (aside from the actual invoice, of course) necessary. 

Of course, when I say “air rifle”, the vast majority of people probably think something along the lines of this: 

daisyairrifle

Well, allow me to reproduce a portion of an article that came with a recent catalog from Pyramid Air

IMG_20141117_100947234In fact, a modern big bore air rifle that shoots a 500-grain .45-caliber bullet at half the muzzle velocity of a centerfire buffalo rifle will still shoot all the way through a 2000-lb. bison, sideways, exiting on the far side.  Unless vital organs are hit, that animal will not drop anytime soon.  But, hit the heart of a full-grown bison with a .45-caliber air rifle bullet, and it’s just as effective as the same bullet driven twice as fast from a .45/70.  Both bullets pass entirely through the animal and do major damage if they hit vital organs or large bones. 

Stephan Boles (right) dropped this bison with a Quackenbush .458 Long Action.  His bullets passed entirely through this large animal.  This hunt was guided by Eric Henderson.  Photo provided by Eric Henderson. 

The full story of the hunt is available here

The Quackenbush .458 Long Action Outlaw Air Rifle can launch a 430 grain bullet at 732 feet-per-second at the barrel, translating to 509 foot-pounds of energy.  For comparison, the once-ubiquitous Springfield Model 1873 could launch a 405gr bullet at 1394ft/s with an energy of 1748ft-lbf; for a more-direct analog, the energy output of the Outlaw is equivalent to some hotter loadings for .45 ACP. 

And lest you think this is a new development, the Girandoni air rifle was employed by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804 for hunting deer with its 20-round magazine and 30-round air tank.  Regardless, the Outlaw air rifle shoots exactly the same bullet as a .45-70 Trapdoor, and can achieve exactly the same end results. 

And the Outlaw can be delivered straight to your door, no questions asked, no background checks executed. 

So remind me how “universal” background checks are so necessary to ensure everyone’s safety?  When anyone can go out and purchase an air rifle that can, quite literally, longitudinally perforate a buffalo, do we really care who can buy a .22 bolt-action rifle?  To unironically quote our former Secretary of State, “What difference does it make?”  When you can literally build a functioning firearm out of a shovel and spare parts, or when you can go out and mail-order a device that can put a buffalo in the dirt, or when barely-skilled laborers can craft frankly-terrifying firearms out of spare bits of scrap metal in their huts with scant more than hand tools, are you so stupid as to really think having to undergo a pointless and blatantly unconstitutional background check is going to serve as a functional impediment to someone looking to procure a means of killing someone at a distance? 

The simple fact is “universal” background checks simply will not work, even looking past alternative methods for procuring ranged weapons.  Firstly, criminals will continue to steal firearms, and a black market will continue to exist where those stolen / illegally procured firearms are sold and passed around.  Secondly, without a universal registry of firearms, there is absolutely no way to prove whether or not a firearm was transferred before the “universal” background check law was passed, and, as such, people will keep selling firearms privately regardless of the law.  Thirdly, both “universal” background checks and firearm registries will be met with massive civil disobedience, as they already are.

For heaven’s sake, states are not even bothering to prosecute background check failures as it is right now; how will adding more failures to the system make a difference? 

If you do not know who owns what firearms (and you do not), if you cannot know who sold whom what firearm (and you cannot), and if you cannot stop people from selling each other firearms (and you still cannot), exactly what good are “universal” background checks? 

Well that is an easy question to answer: 

594flowchart

(Found at The View From North Idaho, originally crafted by OpenCarry.org.) 

I admit that I have no bothered to wade through all 18 pages of I-594, but everything I have read from people better-versed in legalese than me who did leads me to believe that the above flow chart is more-or-less accurate. 

As you can see, “universal” background checks like I-594 are plainly crafted to accomplish one thing, and one thing only – create more felons.  Criminals will simply look at that nightmarish graphic and go, “F*ck it, I’ll get my gun from Tommy down the street,” and that is it.  But if my wife were to go to the range with my parents and one were to hand the other a firearm… congratulations!  They both just committed a misdemeanor.  A couple of range trips like that, and, congratulations, they are both now felons. 

All the while, criminals will steal their guns, or buy them on the black market, or, bizarrely enough, buy air rifles that are more than capable of killing a person if someone were to choose to do that.  And while criminals are continuing to prey on increasingly defenseless victims, as more and more otherwise law-abiding citizens fall victim to byzantine idiocy like the image above, anti-rights cultists will pat themselves on the back and proclaim a job well done.  After all, the “gun control” movement cannot remain relevant if firearm-related crime were to drop, and what better way to prevent that than make it functionally impossible to remain law-abiding? 

I continue to oppose background checks, of any type, because they are morally and Constitutionally wrong, but the simple fact is the accomplish nothing at all (aside from making a few statists feel better about themselves for “doing something”), and anyone who tries to convince you they do is either lying or clueless themselves. 

In any case, I-594 was the straw on my parents’ back – they are abandoning Washington state in the near-ish future, but given all the other idiotic laws that have been passed while they lived there (for example, the state laying claim to all rain water and banning rain barrels), I cannot blame them in the slightest.  And, hell, I do not hunt and have absolutely no plans of ever starting, but I kind of want one of those Quackenbush Outlaws myself… it would be a nice complement to the Trapdoor Carbine I already have. 

i think i need a data intervention

Alternative post title: “oh, right, that is why I do not reload yet”. 

Now that I am seriously considering a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle to replace the .243 Winchester Remington 700 (which is still for sale, by the by), the desire to save a little money on what could be moderately expensive ammunition drove me to considering whether or not I should get into reloading.  By now, anyone who is familiar with me will know what the outcome was: 

ReloadingPayOff

Ideally that should be a fairly straightforward table.  All of the prices are from Brownells or MidwayUSA, and the cost of the Commercial-Off-The-Shelf ammunition is for the loading that most closely mirrors what is in the reloading columns.  I already have digital calipers, so they did not get factored in, and I mostly stuck with calibers that are easily reloaded by having the easiest-to-recover brass; the notable exception, of course, is 9mm, but I was just curious on that point.  The cost-per-round for powder is a little off – I rounded anything less than $0.01 up to that – but otherwise the costs would just look strange.  Individual calibers are calculating by adding the total of the “Fixed Costs” column with the relevant “Variable Costs” items (e.g. Large Primer equipment, 6.5 dies, and 6.5 shellplate for 6.5 Creedmoor), and then dividing that by the cost difference between COTS ammunition and reloads.  Random details like tumbling media and replacement parts and so forth are not included, just for simplicity’s sake.  I am sure I omitted a few pieces of equipment people would consider essential – the most notable are case prep being a rabbit hole I did not really want to go down, and cartridge boxes because I am not sure those count as consumables or not. 

Once you reach the “Approximate Total Cost”, your equipment has been paid for, and you should basically only be paying for the materials necessary to reload – in other words, that is when you really see the “difference” go back into your pocket. 

The other things that are not included are my time (which is, in fact, worth money), the value of being able to build up custom loads that I could not otherwise purchase off the shelf, and the lifespans of cases (mostly because then the question becomes whether you buy empties or all-up rounds and I was just not going to get into that). 

So, apparently, the answer to “should I get into reloading?” is “I need to shoot a crapton more.” 

boomershoot 2014 execution, the weather

So long-range shooting is not too hard… under controlled conditions, and there is absolutely nothing “controlled” about Boomershoot.  Joe likes to quote the average conditions as 3000 feet in altitude (well, that much never changes), 55°F, 29.53 inches of mercury, and a 10 mile-per-hour 90° crosswind. 

But “average” does not really sum it up very well. 

Some days, you almost wish you had brought shorts as temperatures hit the 70s and you are in direct sunlight for hours. 

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Some days, the sky tells you that it should be in the 70s, but you are lucky to hit 50… and freezing your tail off in 20mph gusts. 

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Some days serve as a warning… 

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And some days remind you why that warning was valid. 

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That is FuzzyKBP out there, getting drenched while trying to block the wind with his Pelican case.  My happy ass was in Barron’s trailer, being pleasantly less-wet. 

Hell, it does not even need to be actively precipitating for the visibility to get wonky. 

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And some of those days were the same day

My three big recommendations when it comes to weather and Boomershoot are as follows: 

Bring nothing to the firing line that cannot get wet, including yourself, your firearms, your equipment, and so forth.  Even those folks who had fully three-sided tents were getting soaked underneath thanks to random-assed gusts and further craziness. 

Bring lots of layers.  Being able to shed them or add them as the conditions change on an hourly basis – and they will – is handy. 

Bring at least one of everything you brought to the firing line.  It is easily a 30 minute drive, on a good day, back down into Orofino from Boomershoot’s location, and you do not want to realize you left your raincoat down there. 

remington pulls through. finally.

So my 700 coincidentally went in the mail the day I publicly posted a letter to Remington I was working on, and it made it to my doorstep today.  The end verdict? 

The “Reported” column includes “V010 – Barrel – Rusty, fouled, pitted; V032 – Bolt – Poor finish; V055 – Receiver – Finish (polish)”, and the technician comments are “refinish barrel & bolt assembly / check headspace / test fire for function”. 

The conclusion seems to be “A003 – Return to factory specifications”. 

I think, from looking at the “Repair Information” part of the ticket, the rifle might have gotten an all-new bolt, material number F94098, since that is identified as a “part” (specifically a “REGULAR 700 BOLT ASSB S/A POLICE MATTE”), rather than a “service” (like “SERVICE GR-LABOR”, for example).  If so, that is the best outcome I was honestly hoping for; sure, it would have been nice for them to compensate me somehow for the rifle arriving in the condition it did, and then them taking forever to get it back to me, but we all knew that was never really an option.  Regardless, a new bolt basically solves all of this rifle’s problems, so I guess the case is closed on Remington’s customer service. 

At this point, I will no longer recommend against buying Remington products, but I am certainly not going to recommend to buy them either. 

The plan remains the same – sell the 700 (and a gun show is coming up, conveniently enough), and figure out what will serve in its stead. 

[Update] And the listing is live!  Feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might be interested. [/Update]

boomershoot 2014 execution, fuzzykbp’s fireball

It occurred to me after I put up yesterday’s post that I have done a miserable job of actually documenting last year’s Boomershoot experience.  Granted, I did not end up taking very many pictures – my DSLR was down at the time, and I was too busy shooting/spotting to take pictures – but I should put up what I have. 

So, in an effort to do just that, this was FuzzyKBP’s personal fireball: 

We have seen how those look in slow-motion previously, but they are just as impressive at “normal” speed.  And, yes, “feeling the heat” is pretty much unavoidable at that range. 

back to the pretty graphs

Regardless of whether Remington has fixed my rifle or not, I will be selling it in the near future.  As far as I know, it is a perfectly functional rifle, I am simply tired of dealing with it.  While I doubt anyone who reads this blog would be particularly interested in it, given the trials and tribulations I have been through with it, it is a Remington 700 SPS Varmint in .243 Winchester with the recall work already done to it, has had fewer than 500 rounds down the tube, and can come with a Boyd’s Varmint Thumbhole stock in Sky along with a Brownells 20 MOA picatinny rail mount, if you so desire.  Email me (linoge (at) wallsofthecity (dot) net) if you are interested, but, otherwise, it is going up on Armslist and the local gun forum, as well as being toted to the next gun show. 

Plus I have a few boxes of never-fired .243 and a bucket full of once-fired .243 brass, if you are interested in that, too. 

So, if I am getting rid of the rifle, what should I get to replace it, and do I need to stick with .243 Winchester?  I am still working on the first question, but the second question’s answer seems to be, “Not really.”  The 700 was the only .243 rifle I owned, and that caliber’s performance at Boomershoot was… ok.  It certainly bagged me a few boomers, but when the wind picked up (and it always does), the Cone of Accuracy got… well, big.  The two rounds I predominantly used were a 100gr Hornady Whitetail BTSP and a 100gr Winchester Super-X, with their relevant ballistic data documented below: 

Drop over distance: 

OrigBoomRoundsDrop

Velocity over distance: 

OrigBoomRoundsVel

Wind drift in inches over distance, assuming 10 miles per hour at 90 degrees: 

OrigBoomRoundsWind

Obviously the Hornady Whitetail comes out ahead on paper, and had almost as small an average grouping with a much smaller standard deviation than the Winchester Super-X. 

Why the difference, when the weights are identical?  The simple, easy, and potentially wrong (but we will still run with it) answer is the difference between the two rounds’ ballistic coefficients – the Hornady round has a coefficient of .405 while the Winchester has a coefficient of .356. 

So what is “ballistic coefficient”?  Well, that is complicatedReally complicatedComplicated enough that I am not going to bother explaining it, except to say this: you can kind of think of “ballistic coefficient” as being sort of equivalent to an inertial coefficient – the higher a bullet’s BC, the more velocity it will retain, and the less it will be affected by wind. 

One of the problems, though, with using BCs as a measurement between calibers and bullets is that most coefficients are based off the G1 model, while most modern rifle cartridges are more like the G2 or G7 model.  What does this mean?  Take BCs with a grain of salt. 

So what calibers are known for having high BCs?  Well, .50BMG can hit BCs above 1.000, but the idea of slinging $5 downrange with every trigger pull does not exactly get me excited.  Well, thankfully, Fr. Frog has put together a comprehensive (if a little outdated) list of commercially published BCs, and once you wade through his very pertinent disclaimer regarding them, it is an interesting read… if you like tables and tables of data. 

Anywise, while I was slumming at gun stores this weekend, I noticed that .270 Winchester can be had for around half the price of equivalent .243 Winchester these days – there must be something about the production costs of .277/7mm bullets versus .243/6.2mm bullets or factories for .243 are making more money making the .243’s parent cartridge (.308 Winchester).  So, how do their bullets fare?  Looks like they top out at around .500, but the cartridge requires a long action (neither good nor bad, just is), and the muzzle energies look like they top out at the bottom/middle range of what I consider “painful”… at least on the day after

Well, holdon.  FuzzyKBP swears by his 6mm BR, but COTS ammunition for that is almost impossible to find.  He did, however, mention that 6.5mm bullets are respectable in their own right, and Bill mentioned 6.5 Creedmoor last year when I was shopping for calibers, so what about it? BCs that stretch up above .550, muzzle energies (and thus kick, all other things being equal) about 20% higher than .243’s (compared to 30% higher for .308), and affordable-ish ($1.20 a round) COTS ammunition. 

To the Theory Ballistic Simulator

Drop: 

65120AMaxv243WhitetailDrop

Velocity: 

65120AMaxv243WhitetailVel

Wind drift: 

65120AMaxv243WhitetailWind

For those graphs, I was comparing the best of what I brought to Boomershoot against the “worst” of Hornady’s line of 6.5 Creedmoor – their 120gr A-Max.  Basically identical drop, better velocity retention over distance, and noticeably higher resistance to wind.  So what about the “best” case from Hornady’s selection (the 6.5 Creedmoor originated from Hornady, hence my reliance on their product line) – the 140gr A-Max

Drop: 

65140AMaxv243WhitetailDrop

Velocity: 

65140AMaxv243WhitetailVel

Wind drift: 

65140AMaxv243WhitetailWind

Again, almost identical drop, significantly better velocity retention, and… wow, ~30% better wind resistance, and all this at the cost of about 20% more muzzle energy – and thus perceived recoil, all other things being equal.  Ideally that increased wind resistance will also translate to a smaller cone of accuracy, and a better tolerance of the gusts and wind that seem to love the Boomershoot field.  On the other hand, 6.5 Creedmoor was basically built for reloading, and I have acquired absolutely… none… of the necessary tools for that somewhat daunting task. 

At any rate, I certainly have not made up my mind yet, but I have started thinking about the various details, and graphical representations have always helped me.  I might as well share my findings, so here we are.  I was rather hoping to not have to go through this again, though, but since the opportunity has presented itself, I might as well consider the possibility of an upgrade. 

coincidental customer service

Yesterday, at about 1000, I posted to Facebook a draft of a letter I was considering sending to Remington concerning the rusty-arsed 700 SPS they still have not gotten back to me from its second trip back to the mothership.  The draft got a lot of constructive feedback, along with the predictable less-than-useless comments that a post of that nature is invariably going to attract on Facebook, and I had worked out a final version that I was going to sit down with Better Half, go over one last time, and send off to Remington this morning.  That draft is posted “below the fold” here, since it is already basically public knowledge by way of Facebook. 

Then, at about 1800 yesterday, I received an email saying that the rifle was back in the mail to me, the repairs to it having been completed. 

That timing could be entirely coincidental.  Or, as someone pointed out on Facebook, Remington could have a halfway-decent social media department (unlike, say, their Quality Control department) who set up automated Google Alerts for their company name, or, more likely, the names of the people I was planning on copying the email to. 

Either way, the rifle is on its way back to me, for the second time, so… yay? 

On the other end of the customer service spectrum, I sat down and sifted through the last three months’ worth of shipments from Montana Rarities last night, and discovered that a 1965 half dollar had snuck into my shipment of normally 1916-1964 half dollars (the former is only 40% silver, while the latter is 90%).  I emailed Mark Haythornthwaite, the proprietor, at 1813 last night, he emailed back at 1905, and I am getting an additional half-dollar in my next shipment to make up for it. 

In the over-three years I have been doing business with him, Mark has only slipped up on three half dollars, and every time he handles it the same way – I offer to send the wrong one back, he declines, and promptly includes a replacement in the next shipment.  And, realistically, I can totally understand how a ‘65 can get mixed in with ‘64s, given their faces are identical except for the dates; rather, it is the unerring willingness to immediately make the glitch right that is worth noting.  Given how little I am spending with him, I cannot imagine Mark’s profit margin with me is particularly large, but his customer service is and has been unparalleled. 

If you are looking at buying precious metals on the intertubes, whether it be the “junk silver” I am buying (though I do hate that term) or even things like palladium or rhodium (?), take a look at Montana Rarities


continue reading coincidental customer service →

today i cheerfully “wasted” my vote

Or, at least, that is what I would think I did if I were a benighted simpleton who genuinely believed that false dichotomies and circular reasoning are good reasons to vote for a party rather than a person. 

IMG_20141104_100845246_HDRIn any case, I happily pulled the lever (or, in this case, filled in the bubble) for Sean Haugh to fill North Carolina’s senate seat that was up for grabs during this election.  Why?  Well, a variety of reasons, but the most important ones are that I agree with more of his platform than any other candidate running for the office and I want to see a rise of third parties in American politics. 

Unfortunately, he was the only third party candidate on my particular ballot, so after him, I did what I always do – vote for the candidate I feel would best represent me while simultaneously doing the best job.  In a lot of cases, specifically in the County Commissioner category, that involved voting for Democrat candidates, simply because their Republican counterparts did not see fit to publish their positions anywhere I could find.  If they cannot take the time to let me know where they stand on issues, I cannot take the time to vote for them. 

The real eye-opener, however, was how easy voter fraud would be to commit here in North Carolina.  I showed up at my polling place, and the only thing I had to do in order to get a ballot was verbally tell the volunteers my name and street address; I did not have to prove I was actually that person or actually lived at that address.  If I got to the polling place early enough, and was good enough at disguises, I could have pretty much voted for everyone in my neighborhood – all I needed to have done beforehand is raid their mailboxes for their respective names and addresses. 

Yeah.  That is a secure system.  Which is why this does not really surprise me: 

Hell, someone actually told me on Twitter that a friend of theirs in Fuquay-Varina showed up at her polling place only to discover that “she” had already voted.  Suffice to say, she had not. 

The good news is that NC will be requiring photo ID to vote in the 2016 elections, and all of the people I interacted with at the polling place made sure to ask if we voters were (a) aware of that impending requirement, and (2) in possession of an appropriate form of ID.  Thankfully, NC makes it fairly easy to get an appropriate ID card, up to and including free ones for eligible folks. 

I guess I should be happy that my vote was my vote.  Aside from that, something tells me this election will simply be more of the same, with the possibility of a party of a different name, but same end goal, in charge. 

fifth fj mod

Apparently Toyota engineers get upgraded eyes when they sign on to work at the factories, because about the only thing that can be said for the dome lights in FJ Cruisers is that they exist.  The light is the typical incandescent-yellow, and with the black/grey interior, it is better than having absolutely nothing, yes, but not by a significant degree. 

On the other hand, the map lights over the front seats are usefully bright, but given that the roof of the car extends so far over the passengers, it is invariably in the driver’s face. 

Enter SuperBrightLEDs.com – the same company I used to upgrade the lights on my old Mazda 3.  The dome lights are DE3175-type, but the take-away from that is that they are about a ~31mm festoon bulb, which means one of these universal LED arrays (part number UCOB-CW36-R-FES30) will work just fine as a replacement.  For the dome over the passenger area, I was able to get away without having to use the adhesive backing, but I did use it for the trunk dome, on account of the angled setting.  The end result?  See for yourself – both pictures are taken at ISO200, f/1.4, 1 second exposure: 

IMG_6848smallIMG_6849small

Yeah, that is an improvement. 

The map lights are the standard 175 bulbs that pretty much every car out there uses, so finding an upgrade (part number WLED-RHP5) is easy, but I decided to go for decreasing the blindingness simultaneous with increasing the output a little: 

IMG_6844smallIMG_6845small

Obviously not something everyone would like, but it will let us do things like sort out fast food without completely ruining night vision. 

Is it worth the cost?  Well, that is your call.  In my experience, though, upgrading internal auto lights to LEDs has always been a net win.  Oh, and since the question came up previously, the only incandescent-to-LED conversion that requires additional resistors is your blinkers; everything else is plug-and-play unless you have a stupidly-expensive car that can actually tell you if non-blinker bulbs are dead.

Anywise, this weekend I had the opportunity to hang out with the North Carolina FJ Cruisers club, and lay eyes on all kinds of other interesting things one can do to one’s FJ.  For the time being, I am in a holding pattern for any further modifications until I sell the Defender, but I am narrowing down some other options.  After the show and tell, we headed back into the Uwharrie National Forest, wherein I learned that following the truck with the 3” lift exactly is not such a good idea.  No actual damage, but I am rapidly discovering where all the low points on the truck are. 

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on background checks

One of the favorite “arguments” circulating amongst anti-rights cultists these days is that the only reason one would oppose “universal background checks” for firearm purchases is because one is concerned about not passing them.  Obviously this is complete and utter nonsense, but let us take a moment an examine how nonsensical that position is. 

I oppose “universal background checks”.  In fact, I oppose any background checks for firearm purchases – having to prove innocence to exercise a right is wrong.  Having to pay to prove innocence (what, you did not think NICS was self-supporting, did you?) is an absolute outrage. 

alisonamartingoebbelsSo, according to “gun sense” “logic”, I should not be able to pass a background check… except…

- I have maintained three separate security clearances with two separate branches of the United States Government. 

- I applied for, received, and renewed by Type 3 Federal Firearms License, and am an FFL in good standing with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 

- I applied for, received, and updated a tax stamp allowing me to own a National Firearms Act-regulated device, and still lawfully own that device. 

- I applied for and received firearm-carry permits from three separate states, most recently in March of this year. 

- I have purchased numerous firearms from FFLs, including filling out the federally-mandated Form 4473, most recently in April of this year. 

In fact, now that I look at the list, I am quite certain I have passed more background checks than the overwhelming majority of the useful idiots claiming I could not pass background checks. 

Despite being endorsed by the Moms Demand Action New York Chapter Leader, Alison A. Martin (do not bother looking for her Twitter account – she deleted that one, and the one she created after that one, shortly after the screencap to the right), the notion that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is patently false and a demonstrably dangerous road to go down

The irony, of course, is that those self-same “gun control” supporters who want every firearm transaction background-checked and vetted throw an absolute hissy fit if you in any way suggest that people should have to verify their identity before casting someone else’s vote.  And, in fairness, a large number of them at least superficially speak out against the NSA’s surveillance, but given that “gun control” supporters are statists by dint of that support, I have to wonder how deep that objection actually runs. 

No, I do not oppose “universal background checks” because I cannot pass one – I can, and I have literally more times than I can count.  I oppose them because they are wrong, because they are an unjust limitation on a Constitutionally-protected right, and because they fly in the face of every tradition of jurisprudence in the United States.  Hell, can you imagine the hue and cry if the same restriction were applied to any other right mentioned in the Constitution? 

fourth fj mod

The trunk of the FJ is about what you would expect (with the added bonus of both having no carpet back there and having tie-down points in the floor), but the wheel wells create these odd quasi-shelves on both sides that serve no particular purpose and cannot really be used for anything.  On the right side, the subwoofer (where equipped, and mine is) is bolted in on the “shelf”, but on the left side you just have these two “shopping bag hooks” that will likely tear through the plastic bags common today. 

So, the ingenious mind behind Springtail Solutions created the FJ Cruiser Basket

IMG_6747small

The basket bolts into the holes left after removing the shopping bag hooks, and then rests directly on the plastic trim of the wheel well; I added some kitchen drawer liner material to the bottom of the basket to keep it from scratching up the plastic.  The end result is a basket that can hold a lot of odds and ends, which is good, considering the FJ has a strange shortage of enclosed storage, along with a MOLLE-compatible frame on which you can mount just about anything. 

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Inside the basket I have a fairly standard ABC fire extinguisher (held in place by its mount, attached to the basket), my standard car first-aid kit, the blow-out kit that everyone ignored in my get-home-bag post, a really old-and-worn-out 12V compressor that I need to replace at some point, a multitool with the ability to accept standard screwdriver bits, and a 2”x30’ 20,000LB tow strap.  Inside a MOLLE-compatible admin pouch I had laying around (you can just barely see it in the first picture behind my backpack), I have a 1000LB ratchet strap and a fairly standard D-ring.  Finally, as recommended by Keith and Haus of Guns, and attached to the outside of the basket by way of two Quick Fists, a Cold Steel “Special Forces” shovel fills the role of both shovel and machete – the edge comes sharpened from the factory, and its sheath is strongly recommended. 

It is also worth noting that the hatch underneath the basket in the first picture contains the truck’s jack, the tools necessary to remove and replace tires as well as operate the jack, my jumper cables (which have been used to help folks more times than I can count), a pair of leather gloves, and some hand wipes. 

And, of course, my get-home bag can be seen in the pictures, happily hanging from a Springtail Solutions Back Pack Hook – the alternative is simply putting the headrest post through the hand loop of the backpack. 

Some of that stuff is in there because we plan on taking the FJ up to Carova at some point, and getting stuck in the sand seems like a bad way to spend the day.  Some of the stuff is in there because it just does not hurt to have.  We have already used the compressor to help some kids at Uhwarrie (they had a dead-flat tire, but it was the backup to the backup), and the tow strap helped remove some trees from our yard.  Like I told Better Half, I sincerely hope to never actually need any of that equipment, but if I do turn out to need it, I would rather have it than not. 

Oh, and the best part?  I managed to figure out how to attach my Dogfish Head bottle opener to the basket (not in the pictures… I only figured it out recently).  Winning. 

(Friendly note about the fire extinguishers:  a lot of household fire extinguishers, like the one in the pictures, employ suppression agents that can be very bad for the wiring and other metal surfaces of your car.  Simply using the extinguisher does not guarantee you will corrode anything, but the possibility exists… though, conversely, not using a fire extinguisher if your car is on fire can guarantee that it will burn to the ground.  If lives are on the line, it is rather a moot distinction, but if you care about such things, and can afford “better” equipment, there are halon-based automotive fire extinguishers which have none of the potential negative side-effects.)