A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Guns and Gear’ Category

Gun Control is Futile

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I know that I’ve beaten this horse to death but people still call for gun control so I have to keep pulverizing the equine’s carcass. Today we’re going to travel to Brazil, where gun control laws are pretty strict.

The reason gun control is futile is because a gun is something that can be easily built with a few modest tools. Police in Brazil recently confiscated a homemade machine gun. Unlike a lot of homemade guns, this one is actually pretty nicely finished and decently designed:

The pistol shown above, chambered to the .380ACP round, has an unusually decent overall finish and came with a very large capacity (30-round +?) box magazine. The tubular receiver extends to a muzzle area extension made of a brass-like material. The magazine housing just ahead of the trigger guard is a box-like structure, the ejection port being vertically-located there. Since no fire-selector or applied safety devices are visible, it would seem that the contrivance is a full-auto-only gun (confirmed in one of the videos), as it’s often the case with such DIYs. Sights? Who needs them?

Truth be told, guns aren’t unique in being impossible to control. Anything that has been created can be copied. But the simple the device is the more easily it can be copied. Trying to control the spread of any technology is futile and it only becomes more futile with simpler technologies.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 30th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Forgetting a Bunch of Zeros

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I’m lead to believe that the author of this article left off a bunch of zeros:

Capt. Troy Balcar of the San Antonio Fire Department said a family member found a sealed box with about 75 rounds of decades-old ammunition underneath the house. He said the rounds were about 40 years old, based on a date written on the box. Half a dozen nearby homes were evacuated for about three hours.

Perhaps the author meant 7,500,000 rounds of ammunition? Honestly, I’d expect less overreactions from Texas than this. That state seems to have its head mostly screwed on right when it comes to firearms.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Fantastic Specimen of Corporate Speak

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Rumors of Gander Mountain’s demise have been on point. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody who has walked into one of its stores. Its prices are ridiculous, especially in this age of online shopping. A lot of its used guns go for the same price as new guns elsewhere. And when it runs a sale the prices finally come down to normal prices elsewhere.

In the last week people have been claiming that Gander Mountain is in the process of filing bankruptcy. The company finally put out a statement on the matter. I think the statement will go down in history has one of the best examples of corporate speak:

As a privately held company, it is our longstanding policy not to comment on our business affairs. Unfortunately, recent speculative news articles have caused concern among some of our customers, employees, and trade partners, and require us to make a rare exception.

Gander Mountain is the nation’s largest outdoor retail network with 162 specialty stores across 26 states. We are a fully integrated Omni-Channel retailer dedicated to servicing the hunting, camping, fishing, shooting sports, and outdoor products markets. As ‘America’s Firearms Supercenter™,’ we are a market leader in the shooting sports category with an extensive offering of firearms, ammunition, and accessories.

Like most retailers, we are subject to normal economic cycles, changes in our industry and shifts in consumer demand that require us to adapt our business accordingly. It’s been that way since 1960, when we started out as a catalog company in small-town Wisconsin, and it remains the case today. It is this constant adaptation and desire to offer our customers the best selection, best value and best service that has been our hallmark for generations.

Gander Mountain and its ownership group have undertaken a best-practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success. When we engage in such a review we often seek information and advice from external advisors to inform our decisions. To assist in this process, we have retained Houlihan Lokey as independent advisors and we are confident that the outcome of the review will identify the right go-forward strategy. In the meantime, our Gander Mountain stores and gandermountain.com remain the place to go for all of our customers’ outdoor adventure needs.

That is a lot of words put together to say nothing meaningful. If I had my corporate buzzword bing cards out I’d have probably screamed bingo at least a dozen times. I could have cut that statement down to a single sentence: Our financials are fucked and we’re brining in outside help in the hopes of fixing this shit.

I’ve periodically told gun control advocates that if they really want to land a blow against the gun industry they should vote for Republicans. The industry does best when the fear of gun control legislation is on the table, which is generally higher when Democrats get into office. Since the Republicans have pretty much taken everything we’re probably going to see a great culling of gun manufacturers and resellers as sales drop. Business like Gander Mountain, whose propensity to overcharge is well known through the shooting community, are in trouble.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Army Selects Its Polymer Framed Striker Fired 9mm Pistol

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The United States Army has been slowly working towards replacing the Beretta M9 as its standard issue sidearm. Under the name Modular Handgun System the Army held a competition, and delayed it multiple times, to determine which pistol was the best for its needs. Yesterday the winner was announced. The M9 will be replaced with the Sig P320:

LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun.

Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

I think that the hardest part about this competition was decided which of the 3 million polymer framed striker fired 9mm pistols (PFSF9) to go with. In the end the Army chose, as one of my friends said, the perfect government pistol. The P320 isn’t a bad pistol per se but it doesn’t really having anything that distinguishes itself from any other PFSF9 pistol. Its only unique feature is caliber modularity, which doesn’t seem like much of a selling point for an organization that standardizes on a caliber. So the Army chose a pistol that is adequate but not stellar, just like its predecessor.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 20th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Gun Sales are Up

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This year’s presidential election is notable for many reasons. Somehow both major parties managed to nominate the single worst option that was available to them. The level of hatred supporters of both candidates have for supporters of the other candidate has reached unprecedented levels. And both parties have managed to nominate advocates for gun control. This last point is likely what has lead to yet another month of very impressive gun sales:

There were 2,333,539 gun-related checks processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS, last month, according to FBI documents posted on Monday. That represents an increase of more than 350,000 checks over the previous October, itself a record. It’s also the 18th month in a row to set a record.

With two months to go, 2016 has already seen 22,206,233 NICS checks, making it the second highest year for checks in the history of NICS with only 2015 seeing more.

I sometimes wonder if gun control advocates are secretly being funded by firearm manufacturers because their actions do more to increase gun sales than anything else.

If gun control advocates really wanted to decrease the number of guns in circulation the easiest thing they could do would be to stop pushing for gun control. The only reason people are buying pallets of AR-15 lowers, AK-47s, and standard capacity magazines is because they believe that they can make a significant profit if the manufacturing of those items is prohibited. It’s basic economics. The more scarce a desirable product is the more expensive it becomes. If I can buy a pallet of AR-15 lowers for $50.00 a piece today and the manufacturing of those lowers becomes illegal tomorrow the profit I can make off of those lowers will only increase over time.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 3rd, 2016 at 10:30 am

Yet Another AR-15

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Springfield Armory’s greatest product isn’t its guns but its marketing (that’s not to say their guns are bad, I several Springfield Armory firearms and they’re all solid). Other gun companies could learn a lot from Springfield Armory’s hype producing machine.

Case in point, a few weeks ago Springfield Armory started teasing its soon to be unveiled SAINT firearm. One of my friends asked me what I thought the SAINT was going to be. Because I’ve been exposed to enough marketing to have become jaded over the years I snarkily said “Probably yet another AR-15.” As it turns out, my snarky response was correct:

After weeks of advertisements, videos, and other vague references to the Springfield Armory SAINT the anticipation has to be killing you, or at the very least driving you a bit crazy. After I threw up my hastily written sneak peek, some of the theories I saw in the comments went anywhere from the downright ludicrous to spot on.

[…]

So, what does the SAINT mean for shooters? Frankly, it means another AR-15 to choose from on the rack at your local gun store. The catch is, it is going to be easy to overlook the greatness they built into the rifle. In over a decade of shooting the AR-15/M-16 platform almost exclusively, I have never come across a rifle that offers this level of performance for around $850 MSRP.

Besides the gaudy SAINT logo engraved in gigantic letters on the magwell, the rifle doesn’t look half bad. It appears to be a decently specced AR-15 for a price point that isn’t entirely stupid. But for the amount of marketing hype that was being pumped out of Springfield Armory you could have reasonably expected something new and unique instead of another version of a rifle that everybody and their grandmother already produces.

Thanks to Springfield Armory’s name, which is partially built on the nonexistent ties to the old Springfield Armory and partially on having a history of releasing pretty solid firearms, I’m sure the SAINT will sell well. But this announcement makes me grateful for the likes of Israel Weapons Industry, Beretta, Bushmaster (I never though I’d say that), and Fabrique Nationale for releasing the Tavor, ARX, ACR, and SCAR rifles. While those rifles aren’t revolutionary they are modern rifles that aren’t yet more AR-15s. They’re something different and while I really like the AR-15 platform it has become so common that it’s boring.

Although I expected the SAINT to be yet another AR-15 I was still disappointed because part of me was hoping for something interesting, like an announcement that Springfield Armory was going to bring in a civilian version of the VHS, the new bullpup rifle manufactured by the same company that currently manufactures Springfield Armory’s XD line of handguns. Still, I have to give respect to Springfield Armory’s marketing machine. It managed to build up hype for yet another AR-15, which can’t be easy to do in a market that is already saturated with AR-15s. Perhaps Springfield Armory should start renting its marketing department to other firearm manufacturers. It would probably make more on that than its firearm sales.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Branding

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Hoping everybody will forgive it for the R51 fiasco, Remington has unveiled two newly designed handguns, the RP9 and RP45.

The RP9 and RP45 are Remington’s entry into the striker fired polymer framed handgun market. Here are two renders borrowed from the linked Firearm Blog post. Tell me if you notice anything.

remington-rp45-right-side

remington-rp45-left-side

Remington appears to be worried that users of its RP9 and RP45 pistols will forget who made it because the company’s branding appears to cover every single available surface. Big Remington logo on both sides of the grip? Check. A big Remington logo on the right side of the slide? Check. The word Remington on the left side of the slide? Check. Even the magazine floor plats have the Remington logo imprinted into them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they engraved the word Remington on the inside of the slide as well.

Compare the RP9 and RP45 to either a Glock or Smith and Wesson M&P pistol. Glock engraves its logo on the front lefthand of the slide and imprints a small logo on the lefthand side of the grip. Smith and Wesson is slightly more pretentious in that it imprints a small company logo on both sides of the grip and also engraves the company’s name on the righthand side of the slide. Still, the logos aren’t huge and gaudy. Remington, on the other hand, seemed to have some mandate that every available surface must be as covered as possible by either the company name or logo. I’m almost shocked that they didn’t just forego slide serration so more logos could be engraved on the slide.

Gaudy branding is a particular pet peeve of mine. When I was building my AR-15 I actually had a somewhat difficult time finding parts that weren’t covered in the manufacturer’s branding. BCM and Fail Zero (and others whose names escape me at the moment), for example, have their logos printed on the front of their bolt carrier groups (so everybody is sure of what brand of bolt carrier group you’re using when its locked forward).

I get it, companies need to advertise. But if you expect me to be a walking billboard for your company then I want something in return. For example, if a gun manufacturer did something similar to Amazon with its Kindle line where it charges you slightly more to not display ads (which is what company branding is) plastered everywhere on the gun I’d consider paying (or, more likely, going with a less pretentious manufacturer). Or the company could pay me a minute monthly or yearly fee to use the gun I purchased as a billboard.

I greatly appreciate companies that keep their branding on their products to a tasteful minimum.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 26th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Your Fingerprint Sensor Sucks But You Shouldn’t Feel Bad

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Kai Kloepfer’s fingerpint based firearm access control system is back in the news:

Presented at the 2016 International San Francisco Smart Gun Symposium (ironic, considering the city shuttered its last gun shop in 2015), then 18-year-old Kai Kloepfer presented a new handgun design that incorporates a fingerprint reader. Young Mr. Kloepfer is sponsored by angel investor Ron Conway, who’s Smart Tech Challenges Foundation is spending $1.5 million for the development of “firearms safety technology.” Kloepfer is one of about 15 start-ups that Conway is sponsoring.

The design has been in skunk-works for over four years. Kloepfer’s start-up, Biofire, is “just a few months from a live-firing prototype, which assuming it works, will be the first gun to unlock like an iPhone.” This is untrue, as multiple finger-print reader base firearms have existed before, specifically Kodiak Industries with their Intelligun

Needless to say, the Internet gun community is flipping its shit again (in the comments sections of gun sites). A lot of valid criticisms have been made against Kloepfer’s technology. Some of those criticisms are the fact that his prototype isn’t lefthand friendly, people don’t always grip guns in the same way, fingerprint readers aren’t 100 percent reliable, batteries die, etc. I won’t go into detail on those. What I will go into detail on is the fact fingerprint sensors suck for access control.

As far back as 2013 the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) was bypassing Apple’s TouchID by obtaining a photograph of an authorized user’s fingerprint from a glass surface. No big deal, right? After all, somebody would have to find something you touched to lift your fingerprint from to bypass Kloepfer’s authentication system. That would require either breaking into your home or following you around in the hopes that you will touch something that your fingerprint can be reliably lifted from. Of course you also have the fact that in 2014 a member of the CCC was able to replicate a politician’s fingerprint from a photograph. You don’t need to follow somebody around to lift their fingerprint. You can just take a high resolution photograph of their hand when they’re out and about. And unlike Touch ID, which allows you to use any finger for authentication, the position of Kloepfer’s sensor means you know exactly what fingerprint you need to bypass the mechanism.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, fingerprints suck as authentication mechanisms. There are two reasons for this. First, you leave your fingerprints everywhere. Second, if your fingerprints are obtained by somebody you can’t change them.

With that said, I think criticisms against Kloepfer have been unnecessarily harsh. While his product is defective he should receive credit for trying to create something new. I know many gun owners like to scream “Never!” whenever somebody mentions firearm authentication systems but I believe there is a market for such products. Households with small children or mentally disturbed individuals, for example, could benefit from firearms with authentication systems (I know, people should lock up their firearms, but shit happens and having another barrier between a child or mentally disturbed individual and a functional firearm isn’t a bad thing). Kloepfer shouldn’t receive a bunch of hatred for exploring a market. And I say this as somebody who isn’t even in that market (I have no interest in complicating my firearms with access control technology but different strokes for different folks).

This is where some gun owner usually brings up New Jersey’s law that will mandate all firearms sold in the state be equipped with access control mechanisms once the technology is available. In response I will point out that the anger should be directed at the government of New Jersey, not Kloepfer and other people trying to bring access control technology to firearms. They’re building a product that may be useful to people even in the absence of such a law, they didn’t pass the law and aren’t sending goons out to enforce it.

In summary Kloepfer’s technology sucks but he shouldn’t feel bad for developing it. Also, governments suck but that’s more of a summary of this entire blog than this specific post.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 19th, 2016 at 10:30 am

History Repeats Itself

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Without divine intervention it’s obvious that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. Between Trump and Clinton I have no preference but there will be one annoyance with a Clinton presidency: a shortage of everything gun related. A gun store in Las Vegas has sent out an advertisement that has been getting a bit of attention:

The Las Vegas gun store Westside Armory is predicting a Hillary Clinton victory in November, and it has a message for customers: Buy now, because things are going to get expensive.

In an advertisement over the weekend in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Westside Armory said it was holding a “Pre-Hillary Sale” on tactical rifles, warning of a price surge if the Democratic nominee wins the election next month.

“Don’t wait!” the advertisement reads. “Prices will skyrocket after Crooked Hillary gets in.”

While the advertisement is playing off of fear it also isn’t wrong. Panic buying has already started. Most gun stores are sorely depleted of AR-15s, AK-47s, and most of modern rifles. When the election results are announced and Clinton is the new president the panic buying will likely kick into high gear.

And it’s fucking stupid. Clinton won’t even take office until January. She will literally have no presidential powers until then. So panic buying immediately after the election results are announced is stupid. Furthermore, once in office she won’t be able to wave a magic wand and make all of the guns go away. She’ll have to wait for Congress to pass her legislation that she can sign. As of now Congress is split between the two parties so the likelihood of her receiving such legislation is low. At most she can continue Obama’s tactic of demanding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) tweak regulations to make them more annoying to gun owners and buyers.

What I’m trying to point out is that there’s no reason to start panic buying. But I also know any plea I make will be futile. Fear makes people do stupid things. Once somebody is afraid logic tends to go from moderately useful to mostly useless. And gun owners, by and large, are petrified of Clinton.

I’m sur there are a few gun control advocates laughing their asses off about this. To them I will point out that their cackling is also stupid because the panic buying will flood guns into circulation quickly, which means a lot more grandfathered modern rifles if a ban is ever signed by Clinton. It also means standard capacity magazines, ammunition, and modern rifle parts will flood into circulation. Basically, everything the gun control advocates are trying to prevent comes to fruition during a panic buy.

In the end nobody wins during a panic buy.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 18th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Celebrating Mikhail Kalashnikov

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While our country is busy celebrating shithead politicians Russia is preparing to throw one hell of a party for Mikhail Kalashnikov’s 100th birthday:

The order states that considering the outstanding contribution of M. T. Kalashnikov to the development of Russian small arms, president accepts the offer of government to celebrate the designer’s birthday. It rules that a committee should be formed, whose duty will be preparation, scheduling and conduction of the main events. It also recommends local government bodies to take part in the process. Reportedly, head of the committee will be Dmitry Rogozin, who is the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of defense and space industry.

According to TASS (Russian news agency) the celebration will cost Russian budget more than 20 billion rubles. That is equal to about $322 million by today’s conversion rates. There are no other details specified in the executive order, but judging from the amount of money they are going to spend, it should be a pretty impressive event.

Unlike politicians, Kalashnikov changed the world. The AK-47 is probably the most pervasive rifle in history. And it’s easy to see why. The AK-47 and other rifles based on the platform are easy to produce, affordable, and reliable. You can literally make the receiver out of a shovel and the various other parts are easily available due to how widespread the rifle is.

What’s more interesting is where the rifle proliferated. Due to the relative affordability of the rifle the AK-47 is a common sight in many third world countries. Just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean you can afford a reliable rifle.

There are few individuals whose inventions impacted the world quite as much as Kalashnikov’s. If anybody’s 100th birthday is deserving of celebration it’s Kalashnikov’s.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 11th, 2016 at 10:00 am

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