Security In A Digital Age

Cast your mind back a few decades. It was 2000 AD, and wifi was all the rage.

Wireless router.

It was more expensive than the standard wire coming out of the wall, so just about all of the early adopters were people with money. A couple of computer geeks I knew at the time, guys that were really savvy about all this internet stuff, decided to make a play for the brass ring.

Their idea was to load up one of their cars with computer equipment, and drive around the swanky neighborhoods. If they detected a wifi signal, they would park on the street in front of the house and listen in. Almost always, they would get loads of personal information with virtually no effort on their part. Not only would the majority of wifi customers never bother to change their default passwords, a fair number would have no encryption at all!

So my buddies would record all this. Bank account numbers, bank balances, loan and mortgage information, credit card info, retail purchase history, a list personal friends and relatives, phone numbers, addresses, employment history. You name it, if it was on the computer they could get to it.

Armed with these sensitive and personal facts, the two would ring the doorbell and introduce themselves.

Door to door salesman.

They would explain that they were internet security experts, and that the people living in the house really needed their services. Why, look at all the info they sucked from the ether just by parking in the street!

So they demonstrated that the residents of a wifi equipped house needed to guard against unauthorized access, and that the financial or personal damage could be immense. What kind of reaction do you think they received?

Home Invader Regrets Kicking Down Door Of Gamer Geek

Ex-con decides to kick down the door of a nerd who was playing computer games and watching Rick and Morty. Big, big mistake!

The nerd spends a lot of time with a group that recreates bladed combat. Kind of like the Society for Creative Anachronism, but different. All of that training stood him in good stead. When the crash of entry forced Ben Ball to drop the controller and take his eyes off of the TV, he came up swinging with a bearded axe!

Picture source.

Kind of like that, but different. I don’t think that the weapon had much of an edge on it, as the felon managed to flee with his life after a brief struggle. Police used dogs to track the suspect via the blood trail he left behind, and he was taken in to custody and provided with medical attention. Ben Ball managed to defend his home and his person with only minor injuries.

Mr. Ball is a hero. He was willing to live and let live, tried to avoid trouble, but when trouble kicked down his door he didn’t hesitate to reach for his favorite axe and stand his ground! Not to mention that the edged weapon sparring he takes part in looks like a lot of fun.

You can get the skinny by watching the local news segment of the incident.

(Hat tip to Glenn for the heads up.)

Firearms History Blog

I came across a blog that I think my readers would find interesting. It is Firearms History, Technology & Development.

What is it about? The title pretty much says it all. It hasn’t been updated in a few years, but I don’t think the info found there has become stale in any way.

What caught my eye and interest was a series of posts where the author discusses the effectiveness of old firearms.

Short barrelled flintlock.
Louise Brooks with a pair of flintlocks.

Antique firearms are tested for accuracy, penetration, and velocity. The results were compared to modern military arms so one can judge the old stuff to the new hotness. Really interesting, at least to me.

Plenty of other stuff there as well, such as the development history of prepellents. Worth a look if you are in to this sort of thing.

Best Choice : Handguns VS Long Guns

Considering some of the recent active shooting incidents that have occurred recently, I have been asked by concerned people what the best choice is for self defense. This surprised me, as I thought people living in Texas would already be pretty up on these things. But I suppose the basics never truly go out of style.

So that is what this is, a series of posts that will go over the bare basics of choosing a firearm for self defense. If you, dear reader, are already familiar with the subject then please pass on by.

Ruger P94
Krag-Jorgenson chambered for .30-40

Okay, handguns and long guns. What is better? Long guns by far!

Hey, that was easy! I should go throw the frisbee for my dogs!

Well, maybe not yet. I should probably explain WHY long guns are almost always superior.

A Prayer For The Dying

A crazed gunman went on a rampage yesterday in my adopted home of Odessa, Texas. As of this writing, 5 people are dead and another 21 are wounded. One of the injured is a 17 month old girl.

It seemed to have started during a routine traffic stop, when officers of the Department of Public Safety (what they call the highway patrol around here) pulled over a car. The driver fired through the rear window of his vehicle, striking and injuring one of the officers.

After that, he roared off to see how many innocent people he could kill before the authorities brought him down in a hail of gunfire. He shot random people, and killed a female mail carrier in order to steal her delivery van in an attempt to throw police off the scent. He was finally stopped in the parking lot of a crowded movie theater. God only knows what the death toll would have been if the police had not stopped the suspect before he could get inside.

Chief Michael Gerke of the Odessa Police Department has described the deceased suspect as an “animal”. Considering how he deliberately killed people who had never done him any harm, it is hard to disagree.

The police are still collecting evidence. Locations of shootings are blocked off by the police, with officers guarding the crime scenes until the forensic teams can get there. I had to make long detours when I was out and about this morning. It seems to me to be a great deal of effort expended for a lone gunman who has been killed by the police. I wonder if there isn’t something wider going on.

I mentioned earlier that 21 people had been injured. It is unknown if any will succumb to their wounds in the coming days or months. If you are a person of faith, please include them in your prayers.

Lost and Alone

It was early morning, and I was waiting for the doctor’s office to open. Daily temperatures get over 100 degrees F (37 C), but the sun had just come up and it was still relatively cool. I had rolled the windows down to enjoy the breeze.

The parking lot was next to a busy street, but I thought I heard something between herds of hurtling traffic. I followed the noise into an overgrown vacant lot and found a crying puppy. Mom had probably been hit by a car and crawled off into the weeds to die. The puppy was terrified, and wouldn’t have lasted through the heat of the day. As for the rest of the litter, not a sign.

Did I keep my appointment? No, I scooped her up and made a beeline for the vet. I didn’t see myself as having a choice.

That is the pup at the vet, maybe seven weeks old, 15 minutes after I lifted her off the remains of Mom. What the pic doesn’t show is how she is shaking, scared out of her mind. I doubt she has ever known the touch of a human before this day, or been indoors. She had finally stopped crying, but she would start to shriek every time I took my hand off her. So I just held on and waited.

The vet gave me the usual litany of woe when it comes to stray dogs. Dehydrated, malnourished, ticks, fleas, intestinal parasites. The baby dog got some shots, some medication to knock the worms out of her guts, and a pill to make the ticks and fleas drop away. Bring her back in 3 weeks for more shots, payment is accepted cash or card.

I named her Katy because I like the sound of it. What to do, what were my options? Try to get her in a no-kill shelter, take her to a high-kill shelter where she would be put down in three days, or take her home. Long time readers already know what I decided. Besides, I had given her a name. You lose your heart when you give them a name.

She had finally stopped shaking by the time I got her to my rented shack. The problem was that she had also pretty much stopped doing anything else.

She had shut down, showing virtually no interest in anything. Not catatonic, not like a human being, but listless and without energy to do anything but breathe. Katy wasn’t acting like a puppy at all.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I knew exactly what to do. I introduced Katy to my other rescue dog.

Hotter Than a $2 Pistol

I knew it was going to get pretty hot when I moved from Ohio to Texas. It isn’t unusual for the temperature to climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).

One of the questions my students would ask is if they could store their defensive handguns inside a car during the summer months. Would it get hot enough for the ammo to cook off?

Some years ago, I reached out to all of the American ammunition manufacturers that I could think of. All of them had the same response. As long as the ammunition is brand new, factory fresh product that has been stored in a cool and dry place, then the primers should not cook off unless temperatures exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius).

That is all well and good, but how hot does the inside of your car get when parked in the sun with all the windows rolled up?

This study by the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University has some interesting data. It would appear that the interior temperature of a car can rise above the outside temperature by as much as 50 F (27 C). I’ve also seen studies where the interior temperature could rise as much as 60 F (33 C). Any way you look at, the interior of your car will not come anywhere near the temperatures needed to cook off new, properly stored ammunition.

The one thing that has to be stressed is that we are talking about brand new, factory fresh ammunition. High temperatures will cause the components of ammunition, the propellant and primers, to degrade. Give it enough years and the ammunition inside your defensive handgun might well become volatile.

Note that I said “Give it enough years...”

Your defensive arm is subject to a great deal of harsh environments, starting with increased humidity just by being carried close to your skin. That is why I strongly suggested to each of my students that they change the ammunition in their gun for new every year. Take the old stuff to the gun range, shoot it off for practice, and buy new boxes for carry. I do this on my birthday, sort of a gift to myself.

Also note that one should not be using old surplus ammunition for defensive purposes. Reserve that stuff for training, and rely on newer for defense. If you do that, you should never have to worry about ammo cooking off in your car.

Supply And Demand

In my previous post, I discussed a new revolver intended for self defense use chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge.

2 barrels, 2 shots with each pull of the trigger.

Long time reader knirirr has a question ….

I’ve heard that handgun ammunition prices can be quite high at the moment (the rifle rounds I buy are certainly so). Would there be any significant advantage to the .22 you mention in saving on ammunition costs?

That is a very good question, although a bit tough to answer. To dig out some data I went to Lucky Gunner, a website that not only sells ammunition but also lists the cost per cartridge to help the budget-minded make a decision. Just to make things as uncluttered as possible I decided to compare the cost of .22 WMR with the cartridge I use most often for defense, the 9mm Parabellum.

The page for .22 WMR shows prices all over the map, which is to be expected when the largest possible variety of manufacturers and loads are offered. At the time of this writing, 22 different WMR loads are offered with the price per round ranging from $0.17 USD to $0.75 USD (£0.13 GBD to £0.58 GBP). Ammunition that I consider suitable for defensive use, the hollowpoints, are actually the cheapest on the list with a cost per round of $0.17 (£0.13 GBD).

.22 WMR hollowpoints

Two For The Price Of One

When I started to learn about firearms, I was extremely fortunate that I was mentored by a gentleman named Charles. He was extremely knowledgeable about just about every aspect of the shooting sports, and he was kind enough to share his experience.

One of the things I gained from him was a library of magazines he had been collecting for decades. Some of the articles were a real hoot.

(Picture source.)

One of the old magazines discussed using duplex rounds to increase the stopping power of a defensive handgun. This is where more than one projectile is loaded in to a cartridge, thus turning one shot into two or more as more bullets fly out of the gun with each pull of the trigger. I actually tried this out for myself, and I discuss the experience here.


My conclusions were that it was a neat idea, but loading multiple projectiles into a standard self defense handgun chambered for a reasonable caliber resulted in some pretty wicked perceived recoil and muzzle flip. Not unusable, but it didn’t provide enough advantages to make me switch from traditional self defense ammunition.

Enter a new gun chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, or .22 WMR.

(Picture source.)

The .22 WMR is a potent round for a twenty-two, but it is still a twenty-two. Added to that is the fact that the round is a rimfire, which is not known to be as reliable as standard center fire cartridges.

Click on this link to get the skinny. Two barrels, eight chambers, 4 shots until empty The idea is to have a self defense revolver, compact and light, but which is chambered for a very potent .22 round. The double shot is intended to address the problems with reliability and lethality. If you have two rounds being fired at once, the odds of both of them being misfires is really remote. And, of course, two bullets striking the target at the same time has got to up the chances for stopping a violent criminal.

It isn’t a bad idea, really, and I doubt dual firing .22 rounds will result in the extreme recoil that I experienced when firing .57 Magnum rounds loaded with four projectiles. If it functions as advertised, then I have to admit that it looks like a very well engineered bit of technology.

Does this mean I am going to buy one? No, I don’t think so, even though the price is in the reasonable range for a self defense handgun. The .22 WMR cartridge might have been around for a long time, but it is still off the mainstream enough that I have rarely encountered a gun chambered for that round. I certainly don’t own any, so I would have to lay in a supply of ammunition that would only work in that one gun. That is a big minus for a dedicated shooter right there.

The other reservation I have is that it seems to be a solution in search of a problem. The gun fires two cartridges with each pull of the trigger, resulting in four shots before reloading, but does that provide any advantage over a traditional snubby?

The gun pictured above is an old K-frame chambered for the .38 Special cartridge with a short barrel, hence the 6 rounds. But there are J-frame models chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, and they offer 5 rounds. I already own one of those.

I think that I would choose five chances to stop the bad guys with a .357 over four chances with double-shot .22’s. If you have a different opinion, that is just fine. Whatever gives you comfort. I am just more comfortable with what I have, is all.

(Hat tip to Glenn for the heads up about this gun.)