Go Long

May 21st, 2015

One of my major frustrations with the majority of my students s the high regard they hold for handguns, and the lack of interest they displayed for long guns.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  There are plenty of good things I can say about handguns.  The only problem is that comparable long guns are much, much more powerful than their handgun counterparts.  Handguns are the perfect size for go anywhere emergency defense tools.  A carefully chosen long gun is perfect for just about everything else.

But why would that be?  How much more powerful are long guns when compared to handguns, anyway?

To illustrate what I mean, let us take a look at the main US infantry battle arms for both World Wars and Korea.  These were the M1 Garand rifle, and the M1911 handgun.

m1 garand with clip

1911a1 with holster and magazine

(Pictures source.)

The rifle is chambered for the .30-06 Springfield round, while the handgun is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge.  This means the rifle produces about 2,800 ft/lbs of muzzle energy, while the handgun delivers a mere 350 ft/lbs.

There are a great many factors that contribute to the effectiveness of firearms, of course, just as there are a great many loads available for every popular cartridge which changes the performance of the gun.  But comparing muzzle energy is a fairly reliable quick-and-dirty method, and it is very clear that this particular long gun far outclasses that handgun.

Okay, so what about the present day?  New weapons have replaced the old and boring guns that are pictured above.  What are the standard infantry weapons of today, and how do they stack up?

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Bad Tidings

May 9th, 2015

The volcano of Hunga Tonga erupted recently, forming a new land mass between two islands.

Hunga Tonga island after volcanic eruption

That looks familiar.  What does it remind me of ….?

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A Question Of Funding

May 7th, 2015

Those of us interested in law enforcement issues have been following the story of a fake police force centered in California with interest.  The story raises some questions I don’t think anyone has asked.

The details are that Brandon Kiel, an aide to the Attorney General of California, was arrested for parading around in a police uniform.  This isn’t a crime in and of itself.

kitty cat dressed as police officer

The crime was committed when he presented himself as the member of a fictional law enforcement agency, passing out business cards and directing people to a website.  It seems the guy also used his work documentation, which identified Kiel as an employee of the California Department of Justice, in a fraudulent manner.

At least he didn’t claim to be the boss.  That honor was reserved for David Henry, a guy who said he was the chief.  It seems that he was so proud of his exalted position in the fake law enforcement agency that would take his kids out for dinner two or three times a week at a local restaurant while wearing a police uniform.  The people who encountered him while he strutted around with his gun and badge said that he insisted he was a real, honest to God, not fake police chief.

Okay, so we have a number of people with rather bizarre delusions that were arrested.  But I am really interested in what the actual cops found when they searched the homes of these freaks.

According to news reports, the usual props were collected when the search warrants were executed.  Guns, badges, ID laminates, business cards, uniforms.  But they also mention that the police seized ” police-type vehicles” while conducting their investigation.

Okay, hold on a minute.  Guns and uniforms and the rest can be had for maybe a thousand dollars per person, but they also had police cruisers?  More than one, since the news reports “vehicles” with an “S”?

police cruiser

Where in the world did they get the money for that?  Even if they bought a few junker cars and fixed them up, we are talking a serious investment.  Who coughed up the dough?

It seems that a few of the people involved in the conspiracy owned a security company, now defunct, which focused on guarding property owned by Freemason lodges.  Maybe the police type vehicles are cars used by the firm when it was a going concern.

Even so, I would like to know how these guys financed their little trip into cloud cuckoo land.

I Don’t see How That Is News

May 6th, 2015

The Silk Road was an online black market exchange, most famous for using bitcoins as a way to pay for illegal goods and services.  The US government, amongst others, investigated and shut down the site.  Several arrests have been made around the world, and a fair number of people have been convicted of illegal activity that they conducted while Silk Road was still operating.

One of the strangest aspects of the case is the involvement of Carl Mark Force IV, a DEA agent tasked with investigating Silk Road.  It seems the lure of easy and supposedly untraceable money was too much for him, and he attempted to rake some of it in.  He set up  few accounts in order to hijack the accounts of others, trusting in the anonymous nature of bitcoin to hide his identity.  Using his authority as a government law enforcement official, he froze bank accounts of suspects in order to transfer some of the money to himself.  Apparently he even sold details of the official investigation to the people he was tasked with investigating, an egregious violation of trust if true.

This online article provides a brief thumbnail of the twists and turns of the story, and is worth the time to read.  But what I found odd is how the author seems to think that the most important aspect of the tale is that the DEA agent had firearms at home when arrested!

well dressed man with dual shoulder holsters carrying 1911 handguns

The rogue agent had a 9mm handgun in his possession, as well as four other firearms scattered about his home.  It also appears to be shocking (SHOCKING!) that there was also 650 rounds of ammunition stored at the house.

So the prosecutors are in a tizzy because of 650 rounds.  You know what I call that?  A good day at the range!

I hope I never get falsely arrested for crimes I would never commit.  They would probably give me life for the supply of .22 ammunition I have on the bookshelf, let alone the 9mm rounds stacked next to the desk.

pile of 9mm parabellum cartridges

Stupid Jihadists

May 4th, 2015

Two gumen in a car attempted to kill a security guard outside of a contest for the best Mohammad cartoon.  Police were already on the scene for added security, and they killed the gunmen on the spot.

chalk outline with caution tape

The guard was injured but is expected to survive.  I wish them a speedy recovery, and my prayers are with them and their family.

What is the score?  Leaving the world no poorer, two examples of human filth are erased from existence.  One decent person is shot, which is extremely sad, but they should live to tell the tale.

The thing that strikes me as insane is that the contest was being held in Texas!  What were the violent criminals thinking?  How far did they think they would get, anyway?

I think Charlie Hebdo should relocate from Paris to Dallas.

 

UPDATE

Steven has some important background.

Looking Through The Keyhole

April 27th, 2015

Yet more reader questions are answered.  This time around, it concerns yet again my past post on derringers.

I heard that derringers will usually keyhole.  Is that bad?”

Is keyholing bad?  Yeah, pretty much.  But to understand why we must first discuss what is meant by keyholing.

The way to make bullets stable in flight is to give them a spin.  If they are revolving around their long axis while flying downrange, they will be much more accurate.

bullet spin

This spin is imparted to the bullet by the rifling cut inside of the barrel.  But what happens if the barrel is so short that the bullet pops out before it has time to start to spin around the long axis?  If that happens, the bullet most usually starts to tumble around any old way.

tumbling bullet trajectory

This significantly reduces the range and accuracy of the shot.  The bullet tends to drift around wherever it likes, wandering about like a dog sniffing trees.  Not only that, but it also tends to strike the target in some way other than nose first.

KeyHole-Tear-1

KeyHole-Tear-2

(Picture source.)

Those might not look much like keyhole, but the name comes from the wounds that are made by such tumbling bullets.

keyhol bullet wound in skull

old keyhole

Not a perfect match, it is true, but descriptive nonetheless.

So tumbling bullets can produce oddly shaped wounds, and those wounds resembled a keyhole shape.  Why are all tumbling bullets referred to as keyholing, since all of them do not produce such shapes when they strike the target?  Pretty much because people think it sounds cool.  (“My gun is keyholing!“)

Getting back to derringers, their short barrels increase the chance that the bullet will not pick up enough spin before it leaves the barrel.  This doesn’t mean that every shot from a derringer will keyhole, but it does seem to be a fairly prevalent situation.

engraved derringer

Okay, so bullets that tumble are not as accurate, nor do they have as great a range, as bullets that behave themselves and spin in the proper manner.  This problem is relatively common with derringers.

But is it really a problem?  Derringers are not known for their long range accuracy, and are intended to be used against violent criminals that are right on top of the defender.

angry man pointing finger

Who cares if the bullets tumble?  They will still hit as hard, won’t they?

Tumbling bullets do tend to slow down much faster than those which spin due to air resistance, and derringers are intended to be used against targets that are close enough that this wouldn’t be much of a factor.  But keep in kind that tumbling bullets also tend to strike the target at an odd angle.  This means any defensive ammunition used, such as hollow points, won’t work as advertised.  They have to hit nose first in order to expand.

expanded hollowpoint bullets

Obviously, this isn’t going to happen if the bullet strikes the criminal any old way.

If one favors boring old ball ammunition, then one should be pretty confident that their derringer will work about as well whether or not the bullets tumble.  But if one pays for defensive ammo, then bullets which tumble can mean that the extra cash was wasted.

It Isn’t Really A Jet Of Flame

April 18th, 2015

Time to answer some reader mail.

I enjoyed your post on derringer’s, but had heard that shorter barrels increased barrel flame.  Is this going to be a problem if they are shot indoors?

Do guns emit vast jets of flame when fired?  Certainly seems so if you go to the movies!

james bond muzzle flash

val kilmer in heat

expendables 2 muzzle flash

(Picture source.)

My goodness!  It is a wonder that they don’t catch the entire neighborhood on fire!

Muzzle flash is exciting in the movies, which rely on visual cues to indicate drama and conflict.  Many times the flash is added in post production as a computer image laid on the film.  Average guns loaded with normal ammunition don’t look like that under normal lighting conditions.

Okay smart guy, so what does it look like?

Machine gun

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Derringers – Not A Fan

April 6th, 2015

Henry Deringer was an American gunsmith who came up with a pocket pistol for self defense in 1825.  It was an amazing collection of innovations, a clear example of a flash of brilliance.

flintlock derringer

I know what you, modern reader, is thinking.  “Yeah, so it is a derringer.  So what?

Mr. Deringer’s sole act of brilliance was to take an extremely short barrel chambered for a large bore, man-killing bullet and mate it with teensy tiny furniture.  This created a gun which might be doll sized, but which still packed a devastating punch.

The time for the idea had clearly come, as the public bought these guns as fast as Henry could churn them out.  This brought Mr. Deringer considerable economic success, but counterfeit versions of his gun started to be produced at an amazing pace.  Henry sued some of the gunsmiths who would build copycat versions of his invention right down to his proof marks, arguing that they were just cashing in on his fame.  He won enough court cases that the copycats started to call their works “derringers”, with an extra R.  Since the copies outnumbered the authentic by several orders of magnitude, and so made a much greater impact on the public, we now refer to Henry’s invention by the mangled version of his name.

But don’t cry for Henry.  As I mentioned before, he made out pretty good and died with cash in his pockets.

This basic idea of tiny guns made for ultra-concealment has proven to be amazingly durable, and the basic design has been constantly upgraded.  It only took a few years before Henry dropped the original flintlock mechanism for a percussion cap ignition system, placing derringers at the cutting edge of firearm technology at the time.

percussion cap derringer

The demand for such guns has continued into the present day, with double-barreled versions chambered for the .38 Special cartridge being particularly popular.

38 caliber derringer

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Improvised Shotgun Made From Materials Bought At Airport Stores

March 29th, 2015

 

Very clever!

 

I don’t think it would cause much damage, but the cobbled-together ammunition explodes with impressive force.

(Hat tip to Bryan.)

 

Living Large, Carrying Concealed

March 24th, 2015

What springs to mind when you view the following pictures?

small of back holster 1

small of back holster 2

Those of you interested in armed self defense would say “Ess-Oh-Bee!  Small Of Back holster.  I mean, DUH!”

That is certainly true.  The two holsters shown are designed so a defensive handgun can be carried in the rear of the body, at the center of the waist.  But what is also true is the two people who are choosing to use such holsters must be reasonably fit, without mobility or flexibility issues.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to use such holsters.

Were all of my students disabled, or suffering from some sort of reduced physical capability?  Not all, but a sizable percentage certainly were.  Some were fully capable of performing all standard tasks, but some quirk of body shape kept them from using some of the most popular holster designs.

What I would like to do now is explore some of the ways that disability, age, body shape, or chronic physical ailments guided the choices my students made in how they carried the guns they needed to fend off violent criminal attack.

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