Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All Hail the Police State, part 2

Want to file a complaint against a police officer?  Good luck.  Here is a video clip showing dozens of instances where simple questions regarding filing a complaint are met with intimidation and even arrest.  The police in this country have been elevated to a place where apparently citizens aren't allowed to ask questions without risking arrest.

This won't stop until we make a an issue and try to enact positive social change.  Keep that in mind when you are at the polls or engage in correspondence with your representatives. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is This Where We are Heading?

History seems to support that as governments exist they become more authoritarian.  More laws get passed, more bureaucracies are formed, more forms have to be filled out for increasingly minute actions and personal freedoms are reduced.  We can certainly see that over the last few decades in the US, and it seems startlingly evident in other countries.  I can only assume we're on the path towards countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.  We have a similar form of government and seem to be following the same path as them, albeit about 20 years behind.

So when I see stories from those countries, it makes me sad, because I see my country trending in that direction.  What sort of stories am I talking about?  Well, here are two from today.

In Canada a man has been arrested because his daughter drew a picture of a gun in her kindergarten class.

In the UK dozens of professional responders allow a man to die because their regulations prevent them from wading in waist deep water in a park pond.

This is the path we are on unless we change our ways.  Think about that next time you vote.  If we keep voting the same two parties in, we'll continue getting the same results.

2012 Election Thoughts, part 3

Of course Obama is being blamed for high gas prices even though he has very little to do with it.  Remember when pundits blamed Bush for the same thing?  This is how politics is played, with very little basis in fact and a focus on sensational headlines and baseless propaganda.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Matched Pairs

To get good at anything you have to put in the practice time.  Practicing with guns by shooting them at the range can be expensive!  This has driven many companies to offer training analogs of popular models chambered in 22.  This gives the user a gun that is much cheaper to shoot that has the same feel and controls as their centerfire gun.

This is a great idea.  If you want a 22 handgun or rifle to practice with being able to get one that operates like your more powerful gun is an excellent choice.  In this post I'm going to run through some of the handgun options that I'm aware of. If you want to see what the options are for rifles, you can read this post.

Defensive Firearm Choices

By no means do I think this list will be all-inclusive, but I wanted to call out some popular choices in defensive firearms as a follow up to this post.  Which one best meets your needs is up to you.

An effective choice for a century
There are a variety  of good options at various price ranges.  If you're on a tight budget you can find a used Remington or Mossberg pump action shotgun for $200 or less.  Other options would be a semi-automatic 22 like a Ruger 10/22, the most common 22 rifle sold today.  There are few handguns that come highly recommended in this price range, the only choices are surplus eastern bloc handguns, like Polish and Hungarian Makarovs.  These handguns tend to be durable but not finished to a level we've come accustomed to today.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Carry Gun, part 2

If you read my first post about a new carry gun I picked up, you know I wasn't satisfied with it's reliability.  It's unusual to find a modern firearm from a reputable manufacturer that isn't 100% reliable.  One should be able to buy a Smith and Wesson and have good faith it is going to work perfectly every time.  But this one had problems with both factory ammo and my reloads, so I needed to do some work before I could trust it as a carry gun.

I was at the range last night with a couple of neophyte shooters (who both did very well!) and took the opportunity to put a few dozen rounds through my 357 sig M&P compact.  I still love the way this gun shoots.  For a little gun shooting a rocket of a cartridge it has pretty reasonable recoil and is very accurate.

A Basic Approach

I tend to view life with a basic approach.  It's certainly not rocket science, although it can be applied to rocket science.

I am often flabbergasted when people don't use this approach.  Too often I notice people wallowing in sucky situations they don't have to simply because they are comfortable with the suck and afraid of change.  Change can be weird, and it could be worse than what is happening today, but you'll never move to a better place if you don't try.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Election Thoughts, part 2

I find it incredulous that people like Santorum.  In my mind he's the worst sort of conservative- socially conservative (and hateful about it) and fiscally liberal.  We don't need another person who favors crony capitalism and throwing borrowed money at failed ideas.  How people see him as a good choice I do not understand.  He's publicly said that "contraception is not OK".  What the hell?  I mean, I almost don't have words to describe how screwed up that is.  I'm amazed that he has any support much less a lot of support.  At least he's managed to push out Gingrich from the spotlight.

I guess at this point, based on polling, I think my only hope for the Republican ticket is maybe Ron Paul is picked up as Romney's VP.  I'll probably end up voting Libertarian Party again if Paul doesn't make it on the R ticket.  I honestly don't see a big difference between Romney and and Obama.  Romney may be less imperialistic than Obama at least, but not in a significant enough way to make a big difference.  Under either of them civil rights and civil liberties will continue to be cast to the wayside under the guise of security and we'll continue to decline as a world power as we spend ourselves deeper into debt.

Thoughts on Who to Hire

This article has nothing to do with guns or politics, but I found it interesting.  In our lives we are constantly called on to evaluate people and I enjoy reading thoughts on the subject.  I liked this viewpoint enough to share it. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All Hail the Police State, part 1

A great article at Reason that looks at how police in New York city have taken to systematic searches without warrant.  Of course this is selectively enforced against minorities.  As the police state advances it will be the people who aren't in power that pay the highest prices- the minorities, the activists, the artists and the people at the edges of mainstream society. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are Firearms an Investment?

First, let me start off by saying "no".  If you want to invest money go talk to a financial adviser.  Money put into stocks, savings, land or a small business can be considered an investment.  Firearms really can't.  Of course, neither do they quickly become worthless, like say a computer or a television set.

The important thing to consider is unlike many consumer goods, firearms don't generally wear out or get superseded by models with significant improvements every few years.  Firearms innovation has really plateaued, there aren't many new "must have" features being introduced each year.  Unlike your cell phone a 4 year old revolver is just as good as one fresh off the assembly line and because of that guns tend to hold their value pretty well. 

S&W stock is an investment
Money put into guns can't be considered an investment in that one can expect them to appreciate, but they are a durable good and hold their value quite well, especially if you buy used.  Most firearms don't experience a high enough round count to bring about significant wear.  Modern quality guns have lifespans in the tens of thousands of rounds.  So if you buy a used Glock and put a couple thousand rounds through it (the cost of ammo has likely exceeded the cost of the gun at this point) it's still a used Glock.  It has the same relative value as when you bought it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Carry Gun

As a firearms enthusiast I have more than one carry gun.  I tend to select the most powerful gun that holds the most cartridges that I can conceal on my outfit.  My favorite is a S&W 327 Night Guard, a snub-nosed 357 with an 8 shot capacity and a big tritium sight up front.  It's a relatively easy gun to shoot full power 357 loads through for it's size.  The downside is it's a bit bulky and it's rare I can carry it except when wearing bulky winter clothing.

Contrast that with the smallest gun I carry, a Ruger LCP.  At less than 10 ounces and a small, flat form factor it's the gun I can carry when I can't carry anything else.  Shorts and no shirt?  I can totally carry the LCP in a pocket.  Very tight jeans that my wife likes and a metrosexual shirt?  It's about the only gun that can be carried and not print.  But it holds 6 rounds of .380 acp and has pretty crappy sights, so it's not a great tactical choice.

My carry options from extra light weight to more bad ass (L to R)


As a man in the summer of my life I am aware of the effects of aging.  Mostly I don't mind it.  I'm a lot more open minded than I was in my youth and I certainly have better control of my temper.  It's possible I may have even accumulated some wisdom along the way.  There are really only 3 things about getting older that get on my nerves.

First is how long it takes to heal.  I play in a hockey league and in my 20's my bruises would be gone in 4 or 5 days.  Now they take 4 or 5 days to really come and 2 weeks to fully heal.  That's seriously uncool.  I can only imagine what it'll be like in my 50's.  At some point I may have to start wearing some pads.

Next is grey hair.  I'm not sure who invented this but I'm not a fan.  It's like some of my hair is dying on top of my head and on my face.  And I know one day one of those grey buggers is going to show up in my pubes.  That is seriously uncool as well.  I mean, I'm not going to start coloring my hair, I just think grey hair is kinda dumb.  We should evolve beyond that as a species.

The last thing that's annoying about getting old is the accumulation of nagging injuries.  Ever half decade or so I end up screwing up my body in some way that has lasting effects.  When I was 20 I screwed up my back and have had problems ever since.  If I don't keep up with exercises to keep my core strong it causes constant pain and other problems.  I tore a ligament or tendon in my groin in my 20's and it didn't heal right.  I've got about no flexibility as it is and it's more limited in my right leg.  It takes almost nothing to pull it again so I have to be mindful about the sort of exercise I do.  A few years back I buggered up a knee pretty good (fracture, torn cartilage and sprained mcl) and like my back I have to do certain exercises to keep the muscles around it strong or it causes me problems.  I fear the older I get the more of my life I have to devote to maintenance exercises just to stay healthy.  It's annoying.

But, I guess growing old certainly beats the alternative, so I may as well rock it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Being a Credible Threat

I recommend this article by Oleg Volk on the Cheaper Than Dirt blog about being a credible threat when faced with a violent aggressor.  It's a worthy topic for consideration as one considers their self defense options.

Firearm Safety

Firearms are powerful tools, and need to be treated with respect. This post will attempt to highlight some commonly held guidelines to follow when handling firearms.

Failure to follow these guidelines increases your chance of incurring serious injury or death to yourself or others.

There are many versions of firearms safety rules. First, we'll go over the basic rules recommended by the NRA which you can find here. The first three are the most important:

Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Always keep the gun unloaded until it's ready to use.

There are many variations of these rules recommended by a variety of people, but if you follow any version of them you are off to the right start. I won't cover the variations here, simply put "gun safety rules" into a search engine and you'll experience the variety first hand. Here are some variations:

Jeff Cooper's Rules of Gun Safety
Wikipedia on Gun Safety
Armchair Gun Show Rules
Great Safety Article on
Doctor Ocks excellent Safety post, add your ideas here

Other tips I'd like to offer:

-Adjust your mindset - Firearms injuries are not caused by accidents, they are caused by negligence. If you are handling a firearm that discharges unintentionally, it's your fault. You caused the negligent discharge. Any injury caused by a negligent discharge is your fault, and you should be prosecuted and convicted by a jury of your peers for assault. If you have this mindset you will be more likely to take handling firearms as seriously as you should.

-Get some Training! - Training and practice reduce the chances you will do something stupid. Get trained on the right methods of safe handling and practice them. People make mistakes, but the more you practice and train, the less likely you are to make a mistake that could have deadly consequences. Check with your local range or gun shop for local classes. The NRA offers a tool to search for local classes.

- RTFM - Read your manual. Pay attention to the warnings. Know how to operate your firearm safely in all situations. Even if you are a gun guru, new innovations and mechanisms are introduced each year. Know how to load, operate, fire, unload, maintain, clear jams, and maintain your gun. If you gun doesn't have a manual, most manufacturers provide a copy for free. This is the age of information, there is no excuse to not be knowledgeable. Some firearms don't shoot well with steel-cased ammunition, or lead bullets, or sealed primers, or certain bullet types. Know this before you handle that firearm. Google is your friend!

- You are Responsible for Your Firearms - It is your responsibility to secure your firearms. This includes securing them from children; telling a 10 year old to stay away from your "Secret Closet of Mystery" isn't enough. This also includes securing them against theft, or handling by untrained parties. Treat each firearm like it's a stack of hundreds with a poisonous bite. There are many ways to lock up or disable firearms, research and select a method that is appropriate to your firearms and lifestyle. More information on firearm storage can be found here and here.

Other safety notes:

- Ammunition contains toxic substances. Proper ventilation is required. Wash hands before touching mouth, smoking, or eating after handling ammunition.

- Follow the rules of your range. They will likely include rules not captured in the above links or text. Know and follow them both for safety, and to avoid looking like a noob. If the place you shoot is not safe, don't shoot there. It is not worth the risk.

- Always wear hearing and eye protection. Gloves and sturdy clothing is also recommended. Make sure these items are available for other people you may go shooting with.

- Be aware of people around you any time you handle a firearm. This applies for any place you handle a gun. Someone can disrupt you when you are ready to fire. Someone else at the range can be operating in an unsafe manner. Be aware of your surroundings, and if you can't make them safe, remove yourself or the firearm, as appropriate.

- Be wary of handloads or reloads. Handloading (or reloading) is an excellent hobby and offers a potential source for reliable, affordable and accurate ammunition. I've also been made aware of two people who have sustained disfiguring injuries from reloads that were misloaded. Don't use handloads that you don't trust.

- Be aware of the dangerous parts of your gun. This is more than the muzzle end. Hot gasses can escape from the chamber that can cause severe injury. Hammers can break skin and trap a hand. Moving parts can cut hands and break noses. Scopes on some rifles draw more blood than the bullets shot from them.

- Don't shoot while you are drinking, dumbass. In fact, food, beverages, smoking implements should not be in the area where firearms are handled, and hands should we washed thoroughly before handling any of these items after handling firearms or ammunition.

- Keep your guns clean. This will help them maintain good working order, their beauty and their value. When cleaning guns you may notice something that is not in proper working order that you otherwise may not. A good thread on gun cleaning on the ZS forums can be found here.

This is not a conclusive list. Get out and research on your own. If you feel there is something glaring I have missed, PM me and I'll add it here.

Be safe out there people!

An Odd Occurrence

If you happen to see me out and about more often than not I'll be wearing a kilt.  I have to wear pants at work and enjoy the comfort of kilts when I am able.  I have a couple utilikilts and they are super comfy plus they have pockets big enough for all my stuff.

In general I don't leave the house without a minimum amount of gear.  In the prepper community this is referred to as Every Day Carry (EDC).  A Leatherman, a knife, a flashlight, a bandana and a lighter are standard items I have in my pockets every day.  It's amazing how often I use most of the items.  When I'm suited up at work I carry a little folding knife.  On my kilt I carry a short fixed blade CRKT knife.  It rests in a sheath I made myself that covers the entire blade and 2/3 of the handle.  The blade is around 3" and the handle maybe 5".  It's a perfect utility size, a grip that's easy to hold and a short sturdy blade. 

I've had this knife on my sheath every time I leave the house in a kilt.  I figure I've been in restaurants and bars 250 times with this particular knife and never had a problem.  Well, until last night.  I went to the St Louis Science Center with my wife and her friend to see the Star Trek exhibit.  After being there about 45 minutes I was approached by a security guard who asked me if it was a real knife.  I responded affirmatively and he asked me to come with him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Case for Cheap Guns

I spend a lot of time with firearms enthusiasts or gun nuts, depending on which way you vote.  As with any topic focused peer group they can trend towards elitism.  People who race cars or bicycles, folks that climb mountains, people who use power tools for their job all tend to have strong opinions about using quality gear.  So it's reasonable that people who are enthusiastic about shooting, who shoot in competitions or use guns in their career would be passionate about selecting quality gear.

But just as a regular joe would be better served with a Toyota Corolla with all-season tires instead of a Porsche with track tires on it for daily use, I think a neophyte or occasional shooter can be served with a firearm that isn't class leading in performance.  Too often I see people who try to talk friends and strangers out of buying X model of gun because it's not going to hold up as well as Y model.  Or suggest X is not as accurate, or has a worse finish, or is just a piece of crap compared to Y.

Lots of those things are true.  A Smith and Wesson revolver is likely to be more accurate, more durable, have a better finish and a nicer trigger than a product from Taurus.  A 1911 from Springfield Armory is likely to be a better gun overall than one from Rock Island.  A AR-15 from Noveske is going to be superior to one from Bushmaster.  But to a person who is building skills, any of these tools will work well for practice.

Carry Like a Pro

Good advice here from my friend Rob.