Cooking Off

April 11th, 2016

Regular readers of my unworthy scribblings already know that I have moved from snowbound Ohio ….

snow cthulhu 1

… to Sun-blasted West Texas.

desert between Odessa and Pecos

I got here in the dead of winter, so it was actually very comfortable for me at the time.  But the seasons are turning, summer is coming, and the temperatures are on the rise.  In a month or so, I expect that the midday heat will top 110 Fahrenheit (44 Celsius).

Thinking on the coming warmening, a memory floated up from the depths.  A reader once asked me if it would be alright if he stored his defensive handgun in his car during the hot times.  Would his ammo, perchance, cook off inside the baked interior?

I first determined that the inside of a car can’t heat up much more than about 50 degrees F (26 degrees C) hotter than the outside temp.  After that equilibrium is reached, and the car is radiating energy at the same rate it is absorbing heat from the Sun.

So how hot are we talkin’?  Worst possible scenario sees the inside of a dark car with large windows reaching 200 F (94 C).

bursting thermometer

Plenty toasty!  But is that enough to cause your ammo to cook off?

I reached out to all of the major American ammunition manufacturers, and received prompt and kindly replies from all except Winchester.  They were in agreement that modern ammunition in good condition only starts to cook off when the temperature reached 500 F (260 C).  As long as one loads up with recently purchased ammo, and cycles it out every year or so for fresh, then there is almost no chance that there would be  problem.

Stable and reliable as modern ammo might be in extreme conditions, the same cannot be said of most surplus ammunition.  Rounds manufactured prior to the 1960’s might well be primed with mercury fulminate, a chemical compound which is more volatile than the stuff which is used nowadays.  Not only are cartridges primed with mercury fulminate known as being corrosive, since the residue will react with steel to cause rust to form, but they also degrade fairly quickly with the passage of time.  Even if such ammunition was properly stored since it was first shipped from the factory it could still have become sensitive to high temperatures, and so should not be left inside a hot car on a blistering summer day.

burning car

So there you have it.  Buy new factory ammunition for your defensive handgun, and replace the carry ammo with brand new every year or so.  But you should be doing that anyway, shouldn’t you?

As for the ammunition engineers at Winchester, I am still waiting for your reply!

Better Lawyer Up

April 7th, 2016

It isn’t a secret that I am a strong advocate of legal armed self defense.  It is obviously the only way that the most vulnerable members of our society will be able to fend off violent criminal attack.


And, of course, those of us who have yet to reach that most vulnerable stage of our lives can use all the help we can get!

People of a similar conviction do what they can to prepare for that most terrible of situations, when lives are on the line and there is only the time between ticks of a second to act.  They do this by training for that moment, usually by going to the shooting range as often as possible.

practice at the range

If they have the money, they upgrade their gear to something that might just give them an edge against armed attackers.

standard glock 17

glock 17 tricked out with laser sight extended magazine threaded barrel

If they have even more money, and if they are smart, they attend firearm training available to civilians.

private civilian handgun training

These are nothing more than common sense precautions, but that pretty much seems to be about as far as most people are willing to go.  They get as ready as they can to protect themselves and other innocent lives, but then they just sort of stop thinking about it.  They want to continue living after a violent criminal attack, but they don’t consider what they have to do when the dust settle and the bullets stop flying.

What am I talking about?  What will someone who employs lethal force need when lethal force is no longer needed?

Well, just off the top of my head …

national association of criminal defense attorneys

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The Times, They Are A’Changin’!

April 6th, 2016

Steven has an interesting post on his blog, where he discusses how technology that is repurposed as weapons will bring about some unforeseen consequences.  His specific example is how the terrorist group ISIS claims to be assembling an air force out of radio controlled drones.  Not the military versions that have existed for years, but the small ones you can buy in convenience stores around where I live.

tom cruise movie obivion with cgi alien drone

Consider for a moment.  It is possible, though extremely unlikely, that drone technology and control software will become so sophisticated and cheap that people of moderate wealth could one day own swarms of drones in order to safeguard their own homes.  A few could fly aerial patrol overhead, switching off with fresh machines when the batteries are low and they have to go back to their charging stations.  If an anomaly is detected they could alert the homeowner, or even just call out the armed drones to attack.

synchronized drones

Reminds me of some libertarian science fiction I came across back in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

I Want One!

March 27th, 2016

every hit is a natural 20

(Image source.)

Thanks to Sam L for giving us a heads up to this manly example of gaming geekdom.  As the original source states, it just has to do better than 1D8 damage.

I’ve been searching the dark corners of the Internet, trying to see if such decisive weaponry is available for sale.  Unfortunately, I’ve come up empty.  Many people post the image without knowing where it came from, and there are some rumors that the sweet bashing implement is originally from Australia, but there doesn’t seem to be anything like this offered by the various fake weapon manufacturers.

I have no use for such an item, as I don’t LARP and my days slinging rattan for the Society are long, long gone.  But I would still shell out some hard earned for a D20 mace in a heartbeat!  How could any self respecting gamer not?

The Heartbreak Of False Advertising, Part Two

March 21st, 2016

d&d photo printing one

d&d photo printing two

Not only don’t they play Dungeons and Dragons, they don’t play any tabletop games at all!

The Charge Of The Rhino

March 20th, 2016

Bryan was kind enough to leave a question…

“What do you think about the Chiappa Rhino?”

Before we answer that, we have to explore which gun is at the heart of the question.

Chiappa Firearms is sort of an odd duck when it comes to firearms manufacturers.  Based in Italy, it started out by making replicas of famous guns, such as cowboy arms.  Most of those were chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge.

chiappa cowboy replica box

chiappa cowboy 22 replica

They also offer shotguns, air guns, blank firing guns, and a whole lot more.  But for our purposes today, we need to focus on what is probably their most famous gun.  That would be the Rhino, a really nifty and innovative revolver.

chiappa rhino chambered for the 357 magnum cartridge

There are a lot of interesting features about the Rhino, but the one thing that seems to surprise people the most is that the barrel is slung down low on the frame.  Instead of the top chamber in the cylinder firing, the bottom chamber is the one where all the bang happens.

(Picture source.)

The idea behind this is that the majority of the recoil will be pushed straight back in to the hand of the shooter, keeping muzzle flip to a minimum.  In theory, this should allow for faster follow up shots and greater accuracy.

But wait, there’s more!  The cylinder is squared off, though I’m not sure why.  Cutouts that function as mounting platforms similar to a picatinny rail allow one to mount a variety of accessories, the standard factory sights are highly visible, the gun can be had in a wide variety of configurations and finishes, and one can find models chambered for an interesting array of cartridges.  (9x21mm in a revolver?  Really?)

By all accounts, the good people at Chiappa have come out with an innovative, finely made revolver that functions very well indeed.  So what is my opinion on the gun?

Well, I really don’t have any opinion concerning the Rhino at all.  You see, I have never fired one.  In fact, I have never even seen one except for pictures on the Internet.

How can this possibly be?  Am I not an expert?  Did I not accrue a quarter century of experience in the shooting sports?  Have I not shot everything to be found under the sun?  (Am I not, Did I not, Have I not!  Not not not!)

Nope, haven’t.  Sorry to disappoint.

One of the major reasons why I never came across a Rhino is because we don’t run in the same circles.  My experience is with low income folks who are operating under extremely limited means.  As of this writing, a bargain basement Chiappa Rhino retails for about $750 USD (£520, or €665).  This is a bit more than twice the price of a no-frills revolver from Taurus.

taurus 605b2 revolver chambered for the 357 magnum cartridge

To put it another way, you can buy two self defense revolvers from Taurus, as well as a box or two of ammo.  Or you can buy one Chiappa Rhino and throw it at the bad guys because you can’t afford any gun food.

So where to go to find out about the Rhino?  I would start here.  The author seems to know his stuff, and he has actual hands-on time with the gun.  That certainly puts him head and shoulders above me!

That Hideous Weight!

March 9th, 2016

I previously discussed retiring my old defensive tool, a 9mm autoloader from the firm of Taurus called the PT111 Millennium Pro.

taurus millenium pro

Or maybe it was called the Millennium Pro PT111?  Can’t remember.

Well, doesn’t matter.  The guns aren’t made anymore, and the company that made them had to recall massive number of defective guns.  Looks like I was lucky to bail before having to use mine to defend life and limb, huh?

Anyhoo, I decided to switch things around a bit. Why not carry a revolver for a time instead of an autoloader?

This actually isn’t something new for me.  I prefer autoloaders because they usually have a greater ammo capacity than revolvers, and because they are easier and quicker for me to reload, but a number of my students like wheelguns over something fed from a magazine.  This is why I always make sure to carry revolvers for at least one month out of the year, so I can give advice based on experience.

The sixgun I usually carry is a pretty big Magnum.

model 686 357 magnum revolver

The size didn’t bother me all that much, mainly because I carry it in a shoulder holster.

357 magnum shoulder holster

But this time around I wanted to carry something smaller, mainly so I wouldn’t have to wear a jacket all the time to cover up the gear.  Lucky for me I have just the thing.

snub nosed 38 with six rounds

It is a snub-nosed revolver that was made back around 1952 or so.  All steel construction, and a standard sized frame so the grip and the guts are the same as a common duty gun of that era.  The only difference being that the barrel was two inches instead of four.  But, standard size or not, it was still a great deal smaller than the Magnum.

hard used 357 magnum and 38 snubby in seoia tones

So, hey, let’s do it up old school.  I had visions of off duty cops and G-men on the job as I strapped it on.  This is what those tough old birds used to rely on when the Cold War was in full swing!  Should do a good job for me!

So how did it stack up to my defunct autoloader?  What was the main difference?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Heartbreak Of False Advertising

February 18th, 2016

wings and donuts

There are no wings!!!

(An actual business in Odessa.  They have a Facebook page.)

I Have A New Job

February 4th, 2016

As previously mentioned here at The Handbasket, I recently left my home state of Ohio for the sun blasted plains of Texas.

desert and mountains in west Texas

This decision was not made lightly, nor without anxiety.  But more than half a century of northern dwelling didn’t pan out like I hoped.  Jobs were scarce, and employment with good wages were almost nonexistent unless one had an advanced college degree.  My lack of disposable income meant that I was forced to live in a craphole apartment complex, smack-dab in the middle of a high crime area.

chalk outline with caution tape

How bad are we talkin’?  I would have to reach for my gun about twice a year to fend off aggressive criminals, although I never had to draw when they realized I was armed.

old man with hatchet, musket, and pistol

Nothing ever came of it, because the vast majority of criminals are base cowards who will do almost anything to avoid going up against someone who has the legal means for defense.  Although, I must admit, I might just be a bit more prepared in the means department than most.

So I quit my job, which barely paid the bills, and relied on the kindness of some friends who put me up while I searched for employment.

It took six weeks to find my dream job.

So, better money?  On paper it is a bit less, but I take home more cash.  How is this possible?

Because I was beset with taxes in my old life.  My former home of Columbus, Ohio sports income taxes for both the state and city, both governments burrowing their mandibles deep to suck their fill on the sweetly flowing lifeblood of my labor.

bloated tick

Critics will point out that prices in Texas are inflated due to a statewide sales tax, but Ohio also has a sales tax.  At least now I only have to budget for one tax, instead of three.

So I’m enjoying small town life, the people are much friendlier and polite than at my old place of residence, and the entry level position at my new job pays more so far as dollars in the bank. What could be better?

Howsabout that I can carry my concealed self defense handgun when at the office?

Businessman With A Gun

Why in the world didn’t I move down here decades ago?

Geek Is As Geek Does

January 21st, 2016

I was reading this essay about Aragorn’s claim to the throne of Gondor.  (Hat tip to Sarah at Glenn’s.)

What is that?  You don’t know what or who Aragorn or Gondor is or are?  The two names come from the Lord of the Rings books, and you should probably just ignore the reference if you aren’t interested in really involved high fantasy novels.  After all, discussing whether or not a fictional character is entitled to rule other fictional people smacks of way too much inside baseball.

Still, I am hardly immune to such discussions myself.  In fact, one such geekout occurred way back in 2002 when I went to see The Two Towers, the second movie in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.  I made the mistake of bringing along Ralph, a buddy of mine who is blessed with an extremely active imagination.  This means that he is rarely bored like the rest of us, but it also means he has never come across a work of fiction where he could resist putting himself in the middle of the action.  This was no exception.

A little background.  See, some Viking dudes who ride horses had a vast enemy army bearing down on them, so they bunkered up in an ancient fort.


Up on the wall were the good guys, hugely outnumbered and looking worried.


Down in the plain below the walls were these guys.

orc army at helm's deep

orc soldier at helms deep

Things went along well enough for me so far as the cinema experience is concerned, but then the defenders decide to thin out the invading army via some bow-and-arrow work.

archers on the wall at helms deep

That is when Ralph leaned over and started to voice his opinion as to what the guys on the wall were doing wrong.

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