Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It Isn’t Really A Jet Of Flame

Saturday, 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


Derringers – Not A Fan

Monday, 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


Improvised Shotgun Made From Materials Bought At Airport Stores

Sunday, 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

Tuesday, 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.


Four Times The Fun

Monday, March 16th, 2015

There was a lull of activity at the workplace.  My coworker shared a dream he had, where he was living back in time during the Old West.  When a wolf ate his daughter, he gathered a posse to hunt down the beast!

snarling wolf

The reason he wanted to relate this example of night time daring-do was because one of the posse members was equipped with a strange shotgun.  It consisted of four barrels, all lined up next to one another.

“Oh, you mean like in Phantasm II!” I piped up.

This puzzled my fellow wage slave.  “Phantasm two?”  He claimed to have never heard of the horror film franchise, let alone seen any of the movies.  But when I pulled up a picture of the quad shotgun wielded by one of the protagonists, he clapped me on the shoulder and yelled “THAT’S IT!!

phantasm ii shotgun 3

phantasm ii shotgun 2

phantasm ii shotgun

He might not remember ever seeing or hearing about the horror film that featured the quad shotgun so prominently, but his insistence that the prop is an exact match for his dreamtime weapon indicates that he must have caught a glimpse of it somewhere over the years.

This does lead to the question: Are there actual 4 barrel weapons out there that are intended for serious use, as opposed to novelty items and conversation pieces?

The answer, of course, is that there are!


Keeping An Eye On The Help

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Long time reader Milo was kind enough to send me this article, which discusses a bakery in Yonkers, NY with an open door policy on new hires.  It seems that anyone walking in off the street will be considered for a job as long as a position is open.

job fair employment line

The business is getting some free publicity about this policy, mainly because standard practices to filter undesirables from those seeking a job are done away with.  No resumes, background checks, letters of recommendation, or past employment history is required.  If someone is a recovering drug addict or convicted felon, they are given a job as long as they apply when workers are needed.

criminal background check form

This hiring procedure has apparently worked well for the bakery.  Proof that society is prejudiced against those few who made a few mistakes in their past?  Vindication for the Liberal canard that all it takes to make a career criminal into a productive member of society is a job and a fair shake after they have served their time?

The author of the article I linked to above would certainly have you think so, and the people running the bakery waste no time patting themselves on the back for being oh so concerned about their fellow man.  But I notice that, while the jobs offered at the bakery are entry level positions, the workers who are hired are not treated as entry level workers.

I’ve had my share of minimum wage jobs, and management at all of them wanted me to start producing as quickly as possible.  Cookies needed to be baked, ditches needed to be dug, toilets needed to be scrubbed.

pushing a mop for that old minimum wage

Training consisted of following around a more experienced employee for two or three days.  Monkey see, monkey do.  I had to get my ass in gear and sling that mop.  After all, the vomit on the floor in the Ladies Room wasn’t going to clean itself!

This changed when I moved up to more skilled labor.  Training would take place over weeks instead of days.  The paychecks were bigger, but there was a lot more to remember as well.

This is how the bakery trains the “entry level” workers they hire for minimum wage scutwork.  “New workers go through an intensive training period and a 10-month apprenticeship.”  This is simply remarkable!  The current job I have now is fairly technical, and I didn’t have any experience in the field, yet I was fairly well trained in less than a month.  To spend that kind of time on people who are going to haul bags of flour around and mix up batter is something I never heard of before.  With such long-term scrutiny being leveled against new employees, no wonder the company doesn’t have to bother with any sort of pre-hire screening process.  If their employees are the recidivist type, it is unlikely they will be able to control their darker impulses for such a long period of time.

Anyone who has ever worked in law enforcement will tell you that those with multiple felony convictions have probably made a lifestyle choice that they aren’t going to change anytime soon.  The same people keep committing crimes again and again.  Catch them red-handed and you will probably just have to arrest them again in a few years because they will go back to their old ways very soon after being released from jail.

hands on prison bars

It has been my experience that it is possible for someone to turn their life around and follow the straight and narrow if they have been convicted of only one felony.  If they get punished but still decide to turn their hand to crime then, the occasional exception notwithstanding, it is a pretty sure bet that they are without the quality of redemption.

There is some speculation in the article that other companies may follow the trail blazed by the bakery, and hire without bothering with a screening process.  I suppose it is possible, if the company in question is rich enough to have a supervisor follow around the new guys for ten months while they scrub out toilets.

A Crushing Weight

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

This news article from 2011 claims that a fully equipped police utility belt weighs up to 40 lbs.

portland police utility belt

So how much does a full suit of plate armor weigh without the helmet?  About the same.

suit of plate armor

Thinking Outside The Box

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

A long-time reader was kind enough to send me a link to this news video.  (Thank you kindly, Greg!)

The short CNN segment reports on a device offered by Alternative Ballistics.  It consists of a mounting bracket that fits over a handgun, and a ball which sits in front of the muzzle.

alternative ballistics ball and mounting bracket

alternative ballistics bracket and ball attached

The idea is that a bullet will clear the barrel, only to slam into the base of the ball.  This causes the ball to fly downrange, striking a violent criminal with less lethal force.

alternative ballistics ball with bullet imbedded in base

It reminds me of bean bag rounds used in shotguns.

beanbag shotgun round

Increase the surface area of the projectile to try and prevent penetration, and hope that it still has enough energy to discourage the bad guys when it strikes the target.

So we have a new way to turn a handgun into a less-lethal impact weapon.  Would it work?  Yeah, probably.  Don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t, although I would be worried that it would interfere with the slide and cause the gun to jam.

But that isn’t the main issue.  The very first thing that popped into my mind was “So what is wrong with all the other less-lethal options modern police officers haul around with them?”


Thrilling Tales Of Wonder!

Monday, February 16th, 2015


(Click on all pictures for larger versions.)

Why is that guy wearing a breast implant for a hat?

breast implants

See?  Can’t be anything else!


Dammit, will you get off the phone already?


For Pete’s sake, woman!  Can’t you see that now I’m on the phone?


Cripes!  Now she’s on the phone again!


Seems that Saddam Hussein had a copy of this painting hanging on his wall.


This is for all you cat lovers out there.

All of these came from the excellent site Pulp Covers.  As many of the magazines and pulp novels featured are in the public domain, links are provided so you can download those available for free.

Read a few of the novels and stories, however, and you will discover that most of the cover art is far more interesting than the tale.


A Tale Of Woe

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Columbus, Ohio is like most college towns in that there is a high population density near the campus area.

columbus ohio short north district and ohio state university

Lots of rental property, and lots of businesses to cater to the students.  Restaurants, bars, clothing stores, video game and music stores.  Things like that.  Everything is jammed together so closely that it is possible to walk everywhere you need to be.

Dan worked as a waiter in on of those restaurants.  After the eatery closed its doors, he liked to stop in for a few hours at a bar along the way home.  He made good tips, but spent whatever was in his pocket every night.

inside a rowdy bar

One evening he downed a few too many.  Four guys offered to walk him home in order to make sure he “… got there safe.”  He thought nothing of it because he had been drinking with the same fellows off and on for the past few weeks, and he knew all of their first names if not their last.  The erosion of sound judgement that comes from too much strong drink was on full display.

When the group arrived at Dan’s rented duplex, the four almost-strangers forced him inside and beat him up enough to ensure passivity. They ransacked the place, but became enraged when they found that there weren’t piles of cash lying about for them to steal.  Burglary and simple assault turned into rape.

Yes, men do get raped.  My experiences have convinced me that it is a far more common crime than anyone realizes, just as I am convinced that it is extremely difficult for male victims of the crime to report their experience to the police.  All of the support for rape victims, either cultural of institutional, is designed to help female victims.  Males often feel stigmatized and alone.

To his great good credit, Dan went to the police.  All of his attackers were arrested, and they were sentenced to lengthy jail terms.

A happy ending?  Well, not exactly.