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

tiwhatnraam – choate machine and tool’s emergency car tool

Choate Machine and Tool is definitely an interesting company, where form always comes after function.  I would never go so far as to call any of their products singularly attractive in any aesthetic way, but they all appear to work just fine, and often have really useful features included at a very affordable price. 

In fact, if they had one at the NRAAM, I would have forked over for one of their Tactical Remington 700 Short Action ADL stocks with full-length aluminum bedding, especially since they were offering a screaming convention price; unfortunately, all of the models they had on-hand were equipped for removable magazine baseplates rather than the factory Remington one. 

Anywise, while Fuzzy and I were talking with the remarkably helpful folks at the Choate booth, I happened to ask about a random little thing they had on their table; specifically, their Car Rescue Tool

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Apparently this little tool was created after some Choate employees saw a couple of other folks in serious car accidents where they were unable to get their seatbelts to disengage or open their doors. 

It is an unfortunate truth that if you lock up your seatbelt hard enough, it will not release at the button, which is where that double-bladed-and-hooked razor blade comes in.  I do not have any webbing I want to destroy, but after playing around with it on paper, it would seem to have no problems tackling a seat belt. 

On the other end is a molded-in Phillips-head screwdriver bit, which functions just fine for turning screws, but also doubles as a glass-breaking implement.  Put your fingers through the holes, cover your face with your other hand, and swing the point of that hard into your side window, and it should shatter.  Safety glass beads are nowhere near as “safe” as their name would lead one to believe, but it beats being trapped in a car when your door latch refuses to work. 

Finally, for less-catastrophic events, that straight edge above the finger holes is designed as an ice-scraper, should the need arise. 

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Of course, if you do not get a couple of ideas for how else this handy little tool can be used, you need to hang out on this guy’s site a little more. 

One thing this particular device has on a lot of its competition is its mounting methods – most of them come with their own brackets that are meant to be screwed into interior trim, and not many people are too keen on putting holes in their cars.  The folks at Choate recommend using the finger-holes and a few strands of dental floss to tie this thing where you know it would be after an accident – under your seat or your dash, for example.  Single strands of floss are fairly easy to break by hand, but probably will not snap in an accident, and do no permanent damage to your car. 

The only catch with this particular unit is that once you factor in shipping you can procure two of these “original” Life Hammers for the same price; granted, you have to figure out how to mount those, and they are not Made in the USA, but it is something Choate should consider. 

your government, hard at work

Why do I oppose firearm registrations?  Well, one of the many reasons is that the government cannot seem to keep track of the registries it has already. 

For those of you who do not follow me on the Book of Faces, I seem to have acquired employment, and hopefully start getting paid again on this coming Monday.  In order to facilitate that, my employer has to run background checks on me, as well as verify that I am eligible to work here in the US (in short, be a citizen or legal alien). 

When I was born, I was, of course, enrolled in the government-run Ponzi scheme known as “Social Security”, and of course have a unique identifier number to go along with it.  Likewise, since I have been out of the States on occasion, I have a passport with its own, disjoint unique identifier number on it. 

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security, in all of its infinite wisdom, firmly believes that some combination of my birthdate, my SSN, and my passport number do not match, and is therefore tossing an E-Verify “Tentative Noncomfirmation” back at my prospective employer and me. 

The best part?  It is on me, the private citizen, to unscrew this idiotic federal Charlie Foxtrot.  I have verified the information repeatedly now, I have held multiple security clearances, I have passed more background checks than I care to count, and I am obviously an American citizen, but the DHS is refusing to own up to it. 

If the FedGov cannot keep track of essential data like who is or is not a citizen and what identification numbers are or are not tied to the person in question, how good of a job do you honestly think they will do when it comes to keeping track of non-essential data like who owns what firearm?  Do you think no-knock raids are bad now?  Just wait until tac’d-out door-kickers hit up Jane Smith, 90-year-old arthritic grandmother, because James Smith has an “assault weapon” he neglected to inform the feds about. 

When did “land of the free” get replaced with “papiere, bitte!”? 

compies go “squish”

This game is totally worth $1 – as one of the reviewers says, you get to take on a T-Rex in a mech.  Do I really need to say anything else? 

(Ignore the Metacritic score; apparently this game has evolved over the years and they have never seen fit to re-review it.) 

tiwhatnraam – a. g. russell’s odin’s eye

So on the last day of the NRA Annual Meetings, we arrived in the Media Room and noticed that someone had left sheets on all the tables proclaiming, “Writers, we have a present for your wives! Stop by booth #XXXX to pick it up!”* 

I will not lie, we did not really make any serious plans to actually do so, but by complete happenstance we stumbled across the booth, which happened to be owned – and manned – by none other than A. G. Russell himself.  Let me get my fanboyism out of the way and just say that Mr. Russell is an outstanding individual, and it was a distinct pleasure to be able to chat with him about his business and what he does.  I will not lie – I have lusted after a few of his knives for quite some time, but I have never really reminded myself of that when I happened to have the necessary money free. 

Anywise, the gift Mr. Russell had for us was, predictably, a knife – specifically, one of his Odin’s Eyes

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As you can tell, this is meant to be a “punch” knife, with one of your fingers through the hole, which is just a hair over an inch in diameter.  The knife comes with a ball chain for neck carry and a keychain ring for attaching it there, with both accessories fitting through a loop at the tip of the sheath.  The blade is made of 8Cr13MoV steel, for those of you who know what that means, and is about 1.75” long overall and has about 1.5” of edge.  It is important to note that this is a double-edged knife (and both are double-bevel edges, not chisel grinds), and thus may not be legal in all jurisdictions.  Additionally, the knife is manufactured in China, but Mr. Russell has an honest explanation for that

Anywise, the gift was only half the experience – the other half was Mr. Russell explaining exactly how he came up with the idea and who he intended it for.  To put it very simply, Mr. Russell is very much on our side, in that he very much believes in and supports the right of self-defense, and by that I mean he wants people to be able to do whatever is necessary to stop a threat against their person. 

His concept for the Odin’s Eye (and please bear in mind this is all hypothetical / fictional) was that a woman was walking back to her car after work one day, alone and in a darkened parking deck.  An assailant approached her and she held out her full keychain in her off hand and shook it at him, indicating she would whack him with it if he came any closer, and screamed at him to go away.  He continued to close the distance, making all outward indications of wanting to physically assault her; she put her off hand to her side as if she were prepping to do a swinging backfist at him… and then hacks and slashes at his face with her Odin’s Eye in her dominant hand once he was close enough.  The knife was on her keychain, and she used the distraction of the keys itself to draw it.  Mr. Russell was quite clear that he meant this knife to only be deployed as a surprise, and that he wanted folks to consider slashing their opponents diagonally across their face one way, and then diagonally across their face the other way, to get the full impact. 

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His demonstrations were quite energetic, involving demonstrating the slashes and targets he had in mind… on me.  With a sheathed knife, and at a distance, of course. 

Perhaps the best part was at the conclusion of his demonstration, where he indicated the victim should just go home and have a stiff drink to steady her nerves after successfully defending herself.  I commented that calling the cops might be good as well, and his response was something along the lines of, “Oh, yes, that too, if you think of it.” 

The man is not wrong, though; I would never suggest a push dagger as a primary defensive tool, but as a back-up or emergency tool, the simple truth is that punching is a natural movement, and if that punch happens to have something sharp-and-pointy included with it, all the better.  Once you get your finger through the hole, you are not going to drop this knife, and even flailing becomes a potentially lethal threat to your assailant.  I am sanguine with that, and apparently Mr. Russell is too. 

(* – As I was talking with some of the folks behind the booth with Mr. Russell, one of the ladies there passed on a story that the sign they left in the media room was not a hit with everyone.  Apparently a female media person – I do not know who so asking me will be of little use – came by the booth and vociferously expressed her displeasure at the gender-specific phrasing of the signs.  I will not deny that “spouse” would have been a better term to use, but the truth is an older man from a past generation was trying to be nice and give a family member – or you, he did not actually require people to be married – a gift, regardless of how he phrased it.  Sometimes we are embarrassed by what old folks do, but the polite thing to do is to smile, say “Thank you,” and move on with your life.  Or maybe I was just raised right.  (And, yes, I have run this line of reasoning past Better Half and she agrees.)) 

t-shirt reminder

If you were saving up some spare change to jump on this

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Now is pretty much your chance.  With three days, 17 hours to go, we have sold 16 t-shirts, with another 14 necessary to sell to make the run.  It is possible that I will be able to request a goal drop, but I have no idea what the probability of success is… so buy one!  Get your friends to buy oneBuy two!  Spread the word and get the deed done, because you know these need to exist in the real world. 

helpful hint

If you buy an SB15 Stabilizing Brace, do not mount it on a KAK Super Sig SB-15 Pistol Buffer Tube until you have a bare, never-built or pistol-designated lower, a castle nut, and an end-plate handy. 

The KAK buffer tube was built specifically for the SB15 brace, and the latter fits over the former very snugly. 

Ask me how I know… 

The good news is that my previously-bare, never-built lower is now officially a pistol lower, which means it can be used for either pistol or rifle purposes in the future, assuming I am careful as to how braces / stocks / tubes and various uppers are attached simultaneously.  This is important for one silly reason: if you build a bare lower as a rifle, it is always a rifle lower and can never be used for anything else.  How stupid is that? 

tiwhatnraam – kel-tec cl-42

Alright, so what is that gibberish at the front of the post title?  “Things I was handed at the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings.”  These will be brief blurbs about things that companies at the NRAAM handed me; no promise or even discussion of a review was made or had, though I feel certain the companies in question were really, really hoping I would do what I am doing now.  Might as well indulge them. 

So, first off, we have Kel-Tec’s basically-brand-new CL-42 flashlight

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The good?  It does one thing, and it does it absurdly well – Kel-Tec claims it can throw 420 lumens out of its CREE LED, and while I have no way of testing that exact number, I will not disagree that it is blazingly bright. 

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The bad?  It only does one thing – be absurdly bright.  There are no modes, no settings, no output levels, nothing but a regular clicky (meaning you can partially depress it for momentary or push it all the way down for it to stay on) switch and a belt clip. 

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The ugly?  It costs you $85 for a flashlight that only does one thing, though it does that one thing quite well. 

My only other two complaints with this flashlight is that the button needs to be guarded in some way so it is not inadvertently activated and so maybe it could tailstand, and the lens assembly is occasionally way too tight.  I actually had to take the first one Kel-Tec handed me back to their booth simply because I could not take it apart; neither could the person I talked to there, and they handed me another one.  I guess tight is better than the alternative, but one does need to replace batteries from time to time. 

On the plus side, the finish is nice and subdued, the machining on the tube affords you a very solid grip, the flashlight is waterproof, and the light is very focused and bright, but still has some splash around it to illuminate the space around your target too.  This model takes 2 CR123 batteries, and the button is where you would expect it to be; the CL-43 FuzzyKBP scored takes 3 CR123s, and has a grip/button arrangement that seems more-suited for being used with a pistol. 

I guess at this price-point, Kel-Tec is intending the CL-42 to be a direct competitor for the Surefire G2X Single-Mode (at least at MSRP), but, for $10 less (again, at MSRP), you can get a brighter flashlight with more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at.  I think the CL-42 could be an interesting competitor on a somewhat flooded market, but Kel-Tec is going to have to work on the price, and that involves increasing production, which is something that company has always struggled with. 

start the clock

Remington admitted to receiving my 700 SPS Varmint at the factory yesterday for repairs to its rusty bolt and receiver.  A timer has been added to the left side of this site to keep track of how long it takes them to address the rust and perform the recall replacements

I figure if I get the rifle back in time for next year’s Boomershoot, I will be ahead of the curve. 

primary arms 4-16×44 – a review

So as I previously mentioned Oleg paid me for services rendered / to be rendered by calling in a favor with Primary Arms and convincing them to let me use one of their 4-16×44 Illuminated Mil-Dot Scopes for Boomershoot.  I am just going to go ahead and say this up front, in case you do not want to read through the rest of the review: 

For the price, I do not think you can find a better scope. 

Seriously.  For about $172 to your door, you get a 4-16x optic with a 30mm tube, illuminated mil-dot reticle, 1/4 MOA lockable and resettable turrets, and a range of adjustment of 80 MOA.  No, it is not perfect, and we will get to the few details I had issues with in good time, but it is really hard not to see the value in this product. 

From the top, it is pretty obvious that Primary Arms saves money where they can, and I have nothing against that whatsoever.  For example, their packaging is perfectly functional and resulted in the optic getting to me in one piece and undamaged, but it had pretty much no adornment whatsoever.  Hey, it works. 

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In a similar vein, the instructions (pictured to the right) are not exactly War and Peace, but this is not exactly a complicated system either.  Clarification on how the resetting turrets work is always appreciated, and they included the appropriate torx wrench to undo the screws holding the turret caps on.  Also included are the ubiquitous lens wipe and the two factory flip-up lens covers, which were already mounted on the optic itself. 

The finish on the optic is a uniform, shiny-but-textured (Is that “satin”? I have no idea.) black, which worked just fine for my non-stealthy purposes, but hunters may want to rough it up or paint over it with something a little more matte.  Branding is limited to the single “Primary Arms” stamp on the left side of the objective bell, which I definitely appreciated. 

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All of the markings on the controls were clearly stamped in bright white and all of the knobs have enough purchase on them to make them easy to rotate even when the optic is soaking wet.  The parallax / focus ring is gradated from 10 yards to infinity on something of a logarithmic scale, the reticle illumination dial ranges from 0 to 10, and the elevation and windage knobs clearly show you which way to turn them to move your point of impact, and remind you that they are 1/4 MOA, or 1/4” at 100 yards, adjustments. 

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DSCN1337The bottom of the middle segment is stamped with what I assume to be a unit-specific serial number, and that is about the extent of the features. 

On account of the previously mentioned – and rapidly corrected – problems with the original rings I received, I ended up using a set of 30mm Medium Tactical Rings, which functioned… well, like you expect rings to.  These too were packaged with the appropriate torx wrench to operate the six set screws per ring, and the ring-clamping nuts were compatible with wrenches or wide flathead screwdrivers (coins work in a pinch).  I had no problems at all mating them to the Brownells 20MOA Remington 700 rail I used, and they are supposed to be compatible with Weaver rails as well, though I have no way to check that. 

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So, I think those are all the features… what did I actually think of the optic?  Like I said, it worked great for my purposes – I was able to distinctly make out 1MOA targets at ranges up to 700 yards, and was even able to spot my own splashes assuming I could come back down on target quickly enough.  Hell, I could make out bits and pieces of leftover targets, so clarity, at the reticle, is not a problem (I cannot speak to seeing bullet trace because, apparently, I suck at doing that even on some of the most expensive glass I have ever handled).  I did not actually end up using the Mil-Dot functionality, but the reticle is calibrated to be what appears to be a standard measurement of 1 MIL between dots with the dots themselves being 0.22 MIL at maximum (16x) magnification.  I never really had call to use the reticle illumination, but setting 10 is more than bright enough for daylight, and the rig runs off now-standard-for-optics CR2032 batteries, which should make your logistic chain easier.  The scope and rings held up to the admittedly limited recoil of .243 just fine, as well as my own occasionally rough handling, and the glass showed no signs of fogging during Idaho’s crazy weather and temperature swings.  As for waterproofness, I did not exactly go swimming with it, but: 

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(Photo by Oleg Volk, used with permission.) 

That was not even the worst of the weather – the rain actually ended up coming down hard enough to affect visibility to the 375-yard line, and the rifle and optic sat out in all of it.  No leaks, and no problems, aside from me forgetting to close the front lens cover and then forgetting to wipe off the lens. 

The simple truth is that the Primary Arms 4-16×44 just plain worked; I did not have to worry about it, so my time was free to worry about why I could not hit a boomer to save my blessed life. 

So what are the compromises made to get such a nice package at such a nice price?  Well, to start at the front, the flip-up optic covers are worth exactly what you paid for them – nothing.  That said, since they are included in the price of the optic whether you want them or not, I am glad they are bottom-rung, so the optic can retain its affordable price.  They work great as slip-on covers, but the front one had a tendency to fall off after about 20 rounds, and the hinge pin worked itself out at my last range trip. 

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The good news is that, as you can see, the front objective is threaded for a sun shade, but the bad news is that it really needs it; even at my indoor range, if I catch the overhead lights just right, the optic whites out.  Unfortunately, Primary Arms does not appear to make a shade for this optic quite yet, but I will see about bugging them. 

Moving backwards, this is not Nightforce glass, obviously, but it also does not have a Nightforce price tag.  The sight picture gets a little fuzzy out towards the edges, and there was a definitive chromatic aberration – I cannot recall if the pink stickers on the boomers looked orange or vice versa, but FuzzyKBP and I had to occasionally clarify which target / color we were talking about. 

I was an idiot and forgot to get pictures through the glass at Boomershoot, then when Fuzzy and I went to his local range to do it there, I was a further idiot and forgot to bring a backup battery for my camera.  I did snap a few shots with my cell phone through this optic and his Kowa spotting scope, but, honestly, the camera on the cell phone is sufficiently crappy that I do not think they are worth anything.  Sorry about that. 

[Update]  And Oleg swoops in with a save – turns out he had a perfect picture through the optic at 16x that shows a little of what I am talking about: 

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Now, I do not have much experience with truly awesome glass, but Oleg does and he describes what is going on at the edges of the siding and trim as “red and cyan fringe”.  [/Update]

Finally, the locking turrets can occasionally be troublesome.  The “locking” aspect of them is handy, but takes some getting used to; unless the turret is precisely lined up over the teeth, you can press down with all your might and not get it locked in.  Likewise, there are two detents or stops when pushing down – the teeth engaging, and then the bottom of the movement – and unless you get to the latter, the turret will still turn.  I got in the habit of kind of wiggling the turret as I pressed it down, and then tentatively turning it once it was there to ensure everything was locked up.  The “resettable” aspect is likewise handy, but, for the life of me, I could not get the windage turret to reinstall indexed on “0”.  It could be that the optic-adjustment teeth do not line up with the turret-resetting teeth, or that they use a different ratio, or something, but it just would not work. 

Are any of those items deal-breakers?  Not for me.  I am not making 1000-yard shots on enemy insurgents concealed in the bush, so little things like a little color shift or a little fuzz around the edges does not really annoy me.  I do wish I could get the windage turret zeroed, but as long as I know where the zero is supposed to be, I am in good shape… and at Boomershoot I never really had time to fight with resetting the turrets regardless, so it was kind of a moot point. 

But when it comes down to it, the only reason I would replace this optic is if I decide Boomershoot calls for higher magnification than 16x, and by the time I make that decision, I am hoping Primary Arms has something that can fill the desire. 

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(Photos by Oleg Volk, used with permission.)

(Dear FTC:  This optic and its mounting hardware was provided as payment for services rendered.  No agreement for a review – positive or negative – was made; I am exclusively writing this because I was satisfied with the product and believe it could serve other people equally well.  In other words, you are kindly invited to pucker up and…) 

browning auto-5 magazine spring retainer

If you own a Browning Auto-5 and, for whatever reason, want to remove the magazine spring and/or follower, if you put the magazine spring retainer back into the magazine tube in any other orientation than this one: 

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YOU ARE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] DOING IT [EXPLETIVE DELETED] WRONG.

In other words, if that flat side of the clip with the holes in it – holes that would have made my life a lot easier if my clip had them – is not facing you as you shove the clip into the magazine tube, you are doing it wrong, and need to fix yourself NOW. 

It took a pair of vice grips, some penetrating oil, a hammer, more elbow grease than I care to admit, and the sacrifice of two toggle bolts to get the backassward retainer clip out of my A-5, and then significant quantities of patience, sand paper, and free-handed metal forming to undo the burrs and deformations I caused at the end of the magazine tube.  It probably did not help that the magazine tube had not been cleaned in… ever (this has since been corrected), but still, put the damned clip in the right way. 

All that said, this makes me giggle more than it probably should: 

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Yes, that is a 9+1* round Auto-5.  Why?  Because I can.  Something tells me Mr. Browning himself would approve.  And the good news is that since I started with a Light-12, the overall rig is not very heavy, even when loaded fully. 

It is, however, worth noting that the Nordic Components Low Drag Follower does not work in Browning Auto-5s – the ring inside the magazine tube to keep the follower from popping out is sufficiently far back in the tube that the last round does not feed properly.  You can see how far back the follower catch is on the original Browning follower; I will probably toss one of the bright-red Brownells followers in my cart when next I place an order with them, since the picture indicates it should work just fine. 

(* – Depending on the specific shells used.) 

plr16 + sb15 = ?

So, what would happen if I took one of these

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…replaced its existing pistol grip with one that could accept an AR-15 buffer tube

KelTecSUPistolGripARStockAdapter

…inserted one of KAK’s pistol buffer tubes into it: 

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… and then wrapped a Sig SB15 Arm Brace around it: 

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My understanding of the BATFE compliance letter (IANAL and all that), the PLR-16 started out as a pistol, and neither attaching the AR-15 buffer tube nor the arm brace changed that, so one should still be in the clear.  Furthermore, “constructive intent” only seems to apply when you have no other purpose for the parts you have on-hand except violating the laws (IANAL again), so the fact that I happen to have a spare carbine buffer tube and stock is irrelevant on account of my still having the AR15 they came off of (they were replaced with a Magpul UBR). 

The question only comes up because my SB15 is winding its way towards me as we speak, as is one of KAK’s pistol buffer tubes, and I have been pricing out AR-type build options and prices once I have a steady stream of income again.  It appears that purchasing and kitting out a PLR-16 is marginally cheaper than using the bare, never-built AR-15 lower I have in my safe as a basis for an AR pistol, plus the PLR would not have the stupid-assed buffer tube hanging off its back end if/when the BATFE finally recants their approval of the SB15.  OTOH, it is a Kel-Tec, which can open up a whole ‘nother can of worms in and of itself. 

Anywise, just idle speculation. 

customer service: compare and contrast

At the risk of turning this into an all-Oleg-all-the-time weblog, another reason Oleg Volk is a rather awesome individual is that upon hearing that I was trying to assemble equipment for Boomershoot as affordably as possible, he offered to pay me for modeling services rendered in the past, rendered at Boomershoot, and probably to be rendered in the future by calling in a favor at Primary Arms.  This favor basically consisted of me receiving one of their 4-16×44 Illuminated MilDot scopes, and the mounting hardware to make it work, free of charge.  There is, of course, a review forthcoming of the optic*, because, honestly, I was rather impressed with it, but right now I want to talk to you about the company. 

DSCN1358smallPrimary Arms was quite willing to work with my unfortunately compressed schedule surrounding getting to Boomershoot, and, more importantly, having time to test everything out beforehand, and when the package from them quickly arrived, I of course tore into it and started putting everything together.  That is when I discovered that one of the scope rings they sent me – a “Deluxe Precision” model that is no longer available on their site – was formed, well, wrong. 

I will concede that the picture to the right is not the best in the world, but it kind of shows how the left side of the right ring is noticeably higher than the right side of the right ring.  This difference in height literally allowed the optic to slide back and forth freely, even with the ring screws tightened all the way down. 

I shot off a quick email to my contact at the company (coincidentally, the president), and basically said, “This does not appear to be right?”  After a quick back-and-forth exchange with me providing him a few pictures, just so everyone was sure of what everyone else was saying, he agreed that it definitely was not right, and sent me out a replacement set of rings immediately.  This time, they were a different model from a different factory and worked flawlessly: 

Primary Arms 4x16 and Rings

(Picture taken by the aforementioned Oleg Volk.  Used with permission.) 

It was that simple.  A problem was identified, proof of the problem was provided to the company, the company concurred that something was wrong, and a replacement was shipped to me post haste.  Hell, they did not even want the original set of rings back, and they got me the replacement set in time for some testing before Boomershoot. 

The best part?  I was not even a paying customer; like I said, Oleg called in a favor.  If Primary Arms provides this level of customer service to people who are basically freeloading on the good will of their friends, just how awesome do you think their customer service will be when you actually give them money? 

On the other hand, I am a paying customer of Remington, and their response to an absolutely heinous fault in one of their products basically amounted to, “Send it back to us and we will get around to it when we get around to it.” 

The problem, as I see it, is one of caring.  Primary Arms is legitimately interested in ensuring their customers are as satisfied as they possibly can be.  Remington, well, is not.  And, realistically, this is not terribly surprising – PA is still something of an up-and-comer in the market and are working on carving out their particular niche, while Remington is a positively gargantuan company and they know that people will keep buying their products regardless of my dissatisfaction. 

Hell, just consider the situation of the poor R51.  It is a reincarnation of a classic design, it fills an arguable market slot that Remington had not exploited yet, and the styling is sufficient to grab people’s attentions; even I wanted to like it.  And then I saw the videos.  And then I heard the report from the SHOT Show (in January, mind you) about how none were available for the media to shoot and the example models on the floor were gritty, rough, and poorly finished.  And then I handled an R51 for myself at the NRAAM in April, and discovered that it was gritty, rough, and poorly finished.  The slide felt like I was trying to drag a grand piano across the Sahara, the trigger was no better, and the machining marks on the interior were absolutely atrocious. 

In other words, Remington had at least three months to fix some rather egregious and clearly-identified problems with their brand-spanking-new product, and they simply refused to do so.  They did not care that they were releasing a borderline-defective product into the world, and just kept doubling down on it.  I guess the good news is that by the end of the NRAAM, enough people had cycled their slides and pulled their triggers that the R51s were… tolerable, so at least the problem is possibly fixable by the end user. 

When it comes to deciding what companies to do business with, I strongly recommend on sticking with ones that are interested in your satisfaction as a customer, like Primary Arms is.  Of course, if you have a thing for cleaning up other people’s mistakes, there are no shortage of companies like Remington… 

(In fairness, there are a lot more interesting legalities involved in transferring firearms to people than there are in transferring firearm accessories to people.  However, I would have been quite willing to pay the transfer costs associated with a new rifle if Remington had been willing to send me one.  Likewise, there is a huge difference in costs between a $50 set of rings and a $550 rifle, but I believe the same principle applies, if not moreso with the more-expensive product.) 

(* – Do note that the optic was not provided as a Test and Evaluation unit, but rather as payment for services rendered / to be rendered, and thus does not violate my rule against doing “test and evaluation” reviews on this site.) 

mauser in kydex

I know, I know, I promised you pictures after the NRA Annual Meetings, but, honestly, I was expecting more people to take more pictures there.  As it was, they largely seemed pretty dumbfounded and completely… confused?… by what they were seeing.  In fairness, the folks at Daniel Defense and Bansner’s Ultimate Rifles could not get enough of it, and a Chinese gentleman was absolutely enthralled by it (apparently C96 Mausers are a Big Deal over there), but, by and large, the reaction seemed to range from, “WTF?” to “… Why?” 

As can be expected. 

However, THOTpolice of Bending Spoons had enough presence of mind to snap a picture, and then post it, so he deserves first credit. 

By the time I got to Boomershoot, though, I knew something you did not – Oleg Volk had taken pictures of the holster, and, at that point, I might as well wait until he put them on the intertubes. 

And so he did

linoge_C96_kit_4584small

I will not lie – I am rather pleased at how the whole rig came out, especially considering that this is only the third actual holster I have made.  The holster itself is held on by a Tek-Lok, mounted upside down to make attaching and removing it a lot easier, and the clip holder is just using standard metal J-clips.  You have to twist and yank a bit to get the clip out of its holder, but I could probably loosen that up a bit if I really cared; the Mauser is held quite firmly in place courtesy of the shape of the magwell and presence of the two “rails” on either side of the upper receiver – you see it best in the last picture on Oleg’s site. 

There.  A kydex holster – and specifically a race holster at that – for a C96 Mauser actually exists now.  …Which is pretty much the only reason I made it. 

(Picture taken by Oleg Volk and used with permission.) 

oleg volk is the man

As if you did not already know that.  But why am I saying this right now?  Because he can make even schlubs like me look like they know what they are doing: 

ultimak_M1scout_linoge_3510hiressmall

The funny thing about that picture is that I was not really intentionally posing for it; I was just showing Oleg a potential pose one of his models could use, and specifically how to alleviate the rather front-heavy nature of M1As (it is not immediately obvious, but I am standing in front of a garage-door-type-thing, and my front hand is resting on the frame of the door and taking up most of the weight). 

Anywise, go take a look at the article where that picture showed up “in print” – having handled one of Ultimak’s M1 Carbines with their Scout Mount and Carbine Folding Stock installed, I am thinking my own Carbine has a date with an upgrade, and maybe one of those newfangled See All Open Sights to go on top. 

seriously, get off my side

I think, by now, I have established that I am a firm, if not ardent, supporter of open carry.  I absolutely believe that it should be legal everywhere, regardless of its “acceptability” to the the general public, and that not even a permit should be necessary to do it. 

All that said, get the hell off my side, Open Carry Texas

Seriously.  If your half-baked tactics have functionally failed three times in a row, it is well past time to rethink those tactics, not double-down on stupid.  And, yes, Open Carry Texas, you have failed, and it is specifically your fault. 

This is not to say that the useful idiots at Moms Demand Action and the rest of the “gun sense” crowd have won – they decidedly have not, despite their vociferous claims to the contrary – but OCT has unquestionably lost, and along with them, the pro-rights movement as a whole is losing ground thanks to their actions. 

No, Chipotle has not actually banned firearms on their premises, just like Starbucks and Jack in the Box have not actually banned firearms on their premises, and that is why Shannon Watts’ claims of “victory” ring hollow; until those companies legitimately post their premises, nothing has changed.  However, all three companies have come out with varying versions of, “Leave us the hell alone, and leave your firearms at home,” all thanks to OCT actively making this an issue and forcing the companies to respond. 

The simple truth is that these fast-food joints, like all companies, just want to make money.  Introducing a contentious and strife-ridden concept into their business plan – which Open Carry Texas has enthusiastically and clumsily done – is bound to annoy them, and when someone offers them an easy solution to the situation, they will jump on it.  Obviously they are not going to actually post their premises, because they know that will cut into their revenue stream, but they are going to do exactly what they have done – take a stand against being used as a soap box for someone else’s political hobbyhorse. 

So how about we stop doing that, huh? 

If you actually want to normalize open carry, you do that by acting normal while openly carrying.  This is not rocket science folks.  And, no, making a spectacle out of yourself, and posing for pictures, and all the rest of that nonsense is not “acting normal”.  Nobody likes the in-your-face evangelical who runs around restaurants shoving those freaky little mini-Bible-books into people’s hands, but no one bats an eye at someone wearing a religious-themed shirt (unless, of course, you try to wear it into a public school, but that is another topic for another time). 

Open Carry Texas, your tactics are not working, they have not worked, and there are absolutely no indications they are going to work.  How about you take the time to reconsider your tactics and perhaps figure out something that, I dunno, somehow manages to not alienate every restaurant and commercial establishment out there? 

Or you can keep doing the same stupid thing over and over again and expect different results; you know, the very definition of insanity

In related news, did you hear about the restaurant in Durham that posted their premises as “gun-free” and, wait for it, was recently robbed by armed gun men?  One hopes the “gun sense” movement takes note of this, but something tells me they are incapable of such introspection. 

remington 700, range test 2

As you have already heard, the Remington 700 setup I took to Boomershoot was less than a huge success, but there are so many variables at play that it is difficult to determine which one or ones were specifically responsible. 

So, what I did is replicate the first range test, only with the following changes:  the barrel has been free-floated courtesy of a stock from Boyds’, I used sandbags fore and aft to support the rifle rather than a bipod and my shoulder alone, and I single-fed the ammunition into the rifle rather than using the internal magazine.  As before, in all cases I was aiming at the red dot at the center of the targets, except the top two targets of the Federal Power-Shok string – they were hitting high enough (80gr bullets vs. the 100gr. the optic was sighted in with) I was concerned about them falling off the paper, so I aimed at the bottom point of the diamond.  These were shot at 100 yards, so the groups are in inches and MOAs, equally. 

Winchester Super-X: 

DSCN2062

Hornady Whitetail: 

DSCN2063

Federal Fusion:

DSCN2064

Federal Power-Shok: 

DSCN2065

Wolf Gold: 

DSCN2066

I used up all of the Prvi Partisan ammunition I had at the last range test, but since we are figuring that Wolf Gold is basically rebranded Prvi, I do not consider that a huge problem, aside from possibly resulting in a slightly smaller overall average group size. 

Ammunition Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Average StDev
Winchester Super-X 2.85 1.13 0.86 1.75 1.64 1.65 0.77
Hornady Whitetail 1.15 0.85 1.36 0.99 0.77 1.03 0.24
Federal Fusion 0.58 0.95 1.30 1.22 1.46 1.10 0.35
Federal Power-Shok 0.45 1.02 1.60* 0.43* 1.29 0.92 0.43
Wolf Gold 1.17 1.00 1.50 1.22** 1.42 1.27 0.23
            1.19 0.40

(* – I lost track of which corner I was working on, and put six shots into Group 3 and two into Group 4.  Oh well.) 

(** – I have no idea where the fourth shot of this string went… it is possible I one-ragged-hole’d it, but doubtful.) 

Recall that the last average group size was 2.12 MOA with a standard deviation of 0.616.  I suppose this is an acceptable level of accuracy out of the rifle, though it is still going back to the Remington mothership, for obvious reasons

Was it the free-floating, the single-feeding, or the sandbags that made the difference?  Honestly, I have no idea, and I lack the time and money necessary to isolate the variables.  I do know that both Fuzzy and I were shooting off bipods and with rear sandbags at Boomershoot, and I was single-feeding ammunition there as well, which boils the possibilities down to the front sandbag, operator error, or defective equipment.  Given Fuzzy was having not problems whacking boomers with his completely-un-floated-barrels-on-bipods, I rather doubt the front sandbag is a significant contributing factor, so I obviously need more trigger time and a reloading bench.  At some point. 

Anywise, the rifle has been stripped of its new stock, optics, and everything else, and will be gone for… who knows how long.  No, literally, Remington basically refused to provide an estimate on how long repairs would take; I appreciate the honesty, but that is not at all encouraging. 

boomershoot 2014 execution, the thanks

First off, a huge thank you to Joe Huffman for continuing to organize Boomershoot year after year.  This is not exactly a small undertaking, and he does a great job of it. 

Thank you Barb, Janelle, and Kim for handling the paperwork side of things, checking everyone in, and functioning as Range Safety Officers. 

For that matter, thanks to all the Range Safety Officers, and I apologize for not getting all of your names. 

In the same vein, thank you everyone who slaved away in the Mecca creating those wonderful explosive targets for us to detonate. 

Thank you Barron for bringing a trailer to Boomershoot and letting us hide in it when the weather became suboptimal. 

Thank you Tango for guiding us up the hill to the field the first time, and for teaching your Utah carry class (note to self: file paperwork). 

Thank you Rolf (and Barron) for letting us take part in Clean-Up; after a fairly unsuccessful day of Boomer-hunting, that was rather cathartic. 

Thanks to the crew at Random Nuclear Strikes for bringing a grill and letting us make use of it (I might have spent some time hiding from the weather in their pavilion). 

Thank you Gene Econ for putting on the Precision Rifle Clinic every year before Boomershoot, and for bringing along some fantastic instructors. 

Thank you John, for being such a patient instructor and dealing with not only faulty equipment, but also occasionally faulty shooters. 

Thanks to the folks at the Konkolville Motel for providing us one of the nicer motel stays we have had. 

Thank you Oleg Volk for taking pictures of the event and for compensating me for my oh-so-very-skilled modeling in hardware. 

Thank you Primary Arms for providing that compensation (review forthcoming). 

Thank you Boyds’ Gunstocks for literally letting us pick up a stock as we drove cross-country. 

And I suppose I should thank fuzzyKBP for providing most of the hardware that actually made attending Boomershoot possible, though, dear God, the snoring. 

Finally, thank you Better Half for actually allowing me to attend, considering what else I could have been doing with that time.

i r srs gnblggr

irsrsgnblggrfrontDo you tactically operate in tactical operations?

You know you do.

And you write eyeball-melting posts about it when you are done.

So you know you need one of these.

Yes, you are seeing that right – I am doing another t-shirt run.  But this time, I am doing none of the work.  This marvelous place called TeeSpring is basically willing to print out the t-shirts and mail them to you… but only if we reach 30 shirts sold in the next 22 days.  This way I do not end up with a closet full of shirts that apparently no one wants, and you get the shirts straight from the manufacturer allowing you all kinds of size options and as many color options as I could fit with only being able to “guarantee” 30 shirts.

Those options are American Apparel Crew t-shirts in Black, Asphalt, Army, and Olive from XS all the way up to 3XL, Gildan Athletic Performance Tee in Black from S to 3XL, and Hanes Womens 4.5oz Nano Tees in Black and Deep Forest from S to 2XL.

And if you cannot find something there you like, I cannot much help you.

Oh, and if we do not reach 30 shirts sold, no one gets a shirt.  So buy one already!

Are you a serious enough gunblogger to wear this shirt?  Well are you? 

boomershoot 2014 execution, the fireball

So yesterday’s video was of “a” fireball – specifically one of the Private Fireballs Joe Huffman offers.  You and a select group get up-close-and-personal with the set-up (as close as you and Joe feel is safe, really), and whoever paid for the shindig gets to shoot the initiation boomer.  Not a bad way to spend money, IMHO. 

Today’s video is of the fireball – the one that kicks off Boomershoot every year: 

For those curious, this was the “before” that Ry Jones crafted: 

DSCN1772small

Yeah.  That will do it. 

The gentleman who set off the shindig – Monte Milanuk – did walk away with his eyebrows and, more importantly, beard intact, though he said afterwards that he was pretty much done setting off boomers, at least for a little bit. 

For those curious, both this video and yesterday’s video were taken with a Nikon Coolpix AW100, which is a surprisingly capable little thing.  It’s image quality is a bit poor, even accounting for its point-and-shoot nature, but it is waterproof to 10m and can record not only 1080p video like this one but also slow-motion video, ranging from 60 frames per second at 1280×720 all the way down to 240fps at 320×240.  I certainly would not rely on it as my primary camera, and felt quite constrained at Boomershoot that it was my only camera (on account of my XTi refusing to autofocus any more and all of my then-available funds going to a rifle and equipment), but for certain specific tasks, it performs quite well for its price-point. 

boomershoot 2014 execution, a fireball

I know, I know, do not hold the camera sideways, but since I was filming in high-speed mode, the resolution drops dramatically, so you are not really losing anything. 

I find it fascinating how you can see the fuel (in this case, a mixture of gasoline and diesel) get dispersed by the boomer going off underneath it… until it finds a lit flare and the predictable happens.  It is also interesting how, despite there being four lit flares and not really that much wind, only a mere fraction of the fuel actually managed to light off. 

Fire is fun.