Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Looks like they've either made it better or MUCH worse. I grew up with the A-Team, so you better not screw it up, Hollywood!

I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Concealed Means Concealed

I've only been carrying concealed about 10 days, but I already had some kinks to work out in the way I carry my hog leg. The most important thing I've learned is the difference a holster can make. In a lot of states you MUST use a holster to carry legally. Even in states where a holster isn't required, it's still the smart thing to do. Just ask Plexico Burress.

The difference a holster can make became abundantly clear when I tried to carry my P64 in an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. Thankfully, I never got out of my driveway before I discovered that the finger rest at the bottom of the magazine was getting caught under my shirt as I sat down and pulling it upward when I got out of the truck. The P64 was pulling itself out from concealment as I moved around, which isn't cool because displaying your concealed carry piece is against the law. Concealed means concealed. Note the problematic finger groove below.

Then I tried carrying my M&P9C today in exactly the same position (just above my wallet, most people call it the "4 O'Clock position"). No problem. Now let me show you why this was surprising:

The M&P9C (Left) is much wider than the P64. Thickness is a problem with a concealed carry gun, especially if you are tall and skinny like me. I can get away with the M&P9C though. The P64 should be easy to conceal, but the $5 holster I have it in doesn't do a good job of holding it against my body and keeping the magazine's finger rest from getting stuck on my shirt. James uses a Desantis Tuck This (or Tuck This II, not sure) and he doesn't have this problem. He also carries in a different spot, but that shouldn't really matter since the problematic finger groove has equal access to his shirt.

The reason I can conceal the M&P9C so much easier is that I use a Desantis Tuck This, which was only $30 or so, but is infinitely better at holding the gun up against my body and spreading out the "print" across a much wider area without looking lumpy.

P64 at left, M&P9C right.

My point here is that you might want to spend a little more on your holster to make your life easier. I'll be ordering a Desantis Tuck This for my P64 on my next order from Midway. I think I've also made the case as to why you should do some dry runs with your CC rig before you go in public. A tiny bit of forethought will go a long way toward keeping you out of trouble.

Before I go, I'd like to remind you that even if your holster clips onto your waistband, you should also wear a belt! The belt will help steady and secure the gun, and keep you from drawing your Galco when you meant to draw your Glock. Avoid nylon belts, as they expand with temperature and moisture. Get a decent $20-ish leather belt that fits you properly. Higher end belts are great if you have the money. I've got my eye on a $160 shark skin belt. I may settle for horsehide though, as they're considerably cheaper, but resist weather just as well.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Police Dream

I'm going to test for a position with a small town police department this weekend. I stand a good chance of getting the job, what with me being in excellent physical condition and being college educated. It doesn't pay much, but it's what I want to do. At least until I find work as a highly paid mercenary or win the lottery. Anyway, this job opportunity is solid gold for me as a gun nut. Not because I plan on using my gun, or even want to. The last time this town lost a police officer was in the mid 1920s, and I think he was hit by a steam engine (I'm not kidding). It's solid gold because now when my wife asks "Why do you need ANOTHER gun?" I can say "But honey, I need it for work!". Perfect!

For a handgun , I would prefer an M&P40. I'm not a fan of the 40S&W, but I've spoken to the Chief about it, and it is their S.O.P. to carry 40S&W. They issue Glocks, but the Chief said he could make an exception as long as the unit armorer approved (this is a 3-man police department, and they have an armorer). I shoot Glocks well, but I'm faster and more confident with the superbly ergonomic M&P.

James and I have been arguing at length over what I should carry for a long gun. As I've written several times here, it is foolhardy NOT to go for the long gun when violence is expected. Now, this is a very rural town with a population under 2000. If I need a big gun it will be either for killing wounded animals, or blasting away at bank robbers (it happened in 2001 or 2002-- our Chief of Police had his eye shot out by 1920s-style bank robbers). I have three ideas in the running. First, a Benelli M2 Tactical with a standard stock.
I've also beaten this dead horse quite a bit. It doesn't get any more versatile than a 12ga shotgun. And this is one of the fastest semi-autos available to people who can't afford an AA12. Yeah, a pump (like my Benelli Nova) would get the job done, but this is just slicker. And nearly $1000.

Another absurdly priced gun on my list is a DSA FAL Paratrooper (OSW model shown with 13" barrel not available in Iowa).Because I live in Iowa, I'd have to have the 16" barrel, or the ATF will lock me up forever. And I'm not built for prison. Anyway, the 16" barrel version measures 27" with the stock folded, making it very compact and easy to store. I'd have it set up largely as shown...which would cost about $3000. I cringed too. This isn't really any better than an AR-10 now that Magpul is making 20rd AR-10 mags for a VERY reasonable $20 each. AR-10 mags used to run around $45 each, and FAL mags were $15-$25 each.

Another one I'm looking at is the DPMS LR-AP4 in .308. Slap an EOTech 512AA on there and I'm done. This one goes into the running because I can have one more or less built-to-order for $1700. They're only around $1000 for a base model. They're good rifles, so I hear. The best part here is that this operates exactly like my AR-15 and the M16/M4 series rifles I've been shooting for almost 10 years now--this one's just been stuck in the copier at 125%. I could also nearly afford to shoot it because the AR action is very gentle on brass so I could reload the empties and plink on my days off. Maybe one day there will be cheap 7.62x51 NATO surplus again. I won't hold my breath.

This is what I plan to blow your taxpayer dollars on. Well, if I get the job.

Contradicting Myself Again

I'm about to do something that irks me to no end--bloviate about the war from my nice, safe house here in the US. What brings this on is that some soldiers, congressmen, and gun nuts are up in arms about the supposed fragility of the M4 and M16 series rifle. I have a lot of experience with the M16A2, and am getting to know the M4A3 professionally. I have my own neutered civilian version of it, the M&P15 carbine, but we got issued M4A3s in my 'guard unit last summer. So far, everyone likes them. Most of us liked the M16A2 too.

Any Counterstrike ninja or internet commando will tell you that the M16/M4 (hereafter M4 for brevity) is fragile and requires constant, intricate maintenance to operate in inclement conditions. A lot of the guys in my unit five years ago when we deployed were fretting about it, even though the only people who experienced malfunctions were office rats who insisted that running them dry made them easier to clean (which meant turning them in faster, which meant more downtime). I always ran my M16A2 with a good coat of CLP, and it never did me wrong.

Overseas, I had occasion to see the M16A2 (and M240B) used in combat when my squad got cornered by a slightly larger force, and the result was an hour long gunfight that ended with all of the good guys alive, and a number of bad guys with a severe case of lead poisoning. But I admit we were lucky. Tactically, we were in bad shape--surrounded on three sides with our backs to a 500ft shear cliff. We had the high ground and plenty of cover provided by the stone and concrete skeleton of a half-built school building. The bad guys were also disorganized, and not terribly motivated, as the attack slowed considerably as soon as our SAW and M240B started laying down fire. So I do have some experience with the M16A2 in combat. Everyone who fired had their weapon work just fine. I only expended about six rounds before taking up a spot marking targets for the M240, but several guys ended up shooting four or five magazines. Our SAW spent 300 rounds, and the M240 spent about 350 over the course of 45 minutes to an hour. This against a hailstorm from probably 18 AK47s, at least 3 RPG launchers (we found the tailfins from 11 rockets all together), an RPK, and two PKMs. Well aimed fire, and judicious use of machineguns on high-priority targets won the day.

Then I find this story of a couple of very unfortunate service members who were killed when their M4s and SAWs quit working. I am sincerely sorry for their loss, and extend my condolences to their friends and families. This is not something to make light of, and it isn't terribly fair of me to armchair quarterback this like I'm about to do, but I think I have a point, and I think my point could save lives.

The following quote makes my case: "My weapon was overheating," McKaig said, according to Cubbison's report. "I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight. I couldn't charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down."

He had fired 360 rounds in thirty minutes! Our standard combat load was 210 rounds! I'd like to know how many of those 360 rounds hit anything at all. One SAW had fired 600 rounds in 30 minutes! That's just too much shooting with NO effect at all. I wasn't there, and I don't know how heavy the incoming fire was, but if you are shooting that much with no effect, you need to either move to flank, or break contact. I know how hard it is to stop pulling the trigger when tracers flicker and pop over your shoulder--I've been there and done that. But that sort of fire is just plain excessive, and would probably have overheated a piston-driven M4 like an H&K416, which is what a lot of SOCOM guys and internet commandos are pushing for.

They say direct-impingement guns like the current M4 run too dirty and too hot, and cause jams, cook-offs, and other malfunctions. My case is that while piston-driven guns keep the dirt and heat away from the bolt, they still get hot and dirty. The heat and dirt just accumulate in different places. And shooting 360 rounds in 30 minutes will make anything way too hot, especially when you consider that some places in Afghanistan are 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year.

What would have kept these guns in the fight, and what may have saved these brave young men's lives is leadership that took control of their team's fires. Standing there blasting away with no effect may make you feel better, but it won't win the fight. What do you do if you do win the fight with no casualties, but shoot off all your ammo? How do you defend your patrol base until supplies reach you? How do you fight off a second wave if everyone is blowing their whole allotment of ammo in the first 30 minutes of the fight?

Is the M4 perfect? No. I actually like the idea of the Remington ACR a lot more. I also like the SCAR and SCAR-H. Is the M4 a death trap? Is it a detriment to our troops? I hardly think so. Yes, you have to maintain and lube it. Yes, it gets hot. But if you as a trooper train hard and control your adrenaline--and therefore your trigger finger--you'll stand a better chance. If you are a team leader, it is your responsibility to direct your team's fires and that includes rates of fire. If your SAW gunner is ripping through belts too fast, it's your job to say something. I know how hard it is to do these things under fire, but training will help, and keeping things like this in your mind will help a lot more.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Open Letter to Ford

I'm a Ford man by birth, but when I get back from my deployment next year, I'll probably not be buying a Ford. Why? Because they don't make the car I want. Mitsubishi and MINI (BMW) each make a car that makes me want to rush out and sell a kidney--the (2009) Lancer Ralliart, and Cooper S respectively. They're both small, fun cars with favorable power-to-weight ratios, reasonable fuel economy, and shocking practicality. Ford, listen carefully and you could still get my business.

Ford, you have the recipe. In fact, it may already exist in your top secret testing labs.
This is what I want. Yeah, go ahead an de-tune it a bit, and maybe relax the boy-racer fender flares (but don't lose them entirely). Keep the ridiculous wing. This particular Ford Fiesta 3-door was blown up north of 800HP. I'll settle for about 210-240HP with that 5-speed all-wheel-drive transmission. Price it around $24,000-$26,000 and you're in the running with an Impreza WRX, Lancer Ralliart, Golf GTI, and Mini Cooper S. But I have faith, Ford. I think you can do it better. Please, for the love of Carol Shelby, release a turbo'd up AWD manual transmission Fiesta. You're already burying Government Motors. Now throw the last shovelful of dirt on their shallow, taxpayer-financed grave.

Oh, and see if you can sweet-talk Mazda out of a 2.3L 4cyl turbo from their Speed3, and put that motor in a Ford Ranger Edge. Think about it. People love to off-road in Rangers because of their light weight and ruggedness. Now imagine making it lighter and more powerful than ANYTHING GM, Toyota, Dodge, or anyone else can offer the American redneck...err truck enthusiast.

Thank you for your time, Ford. Now go out there and give GM another reason to start bawling for a handout.