A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Guns and Gear’ Category

My Biggest Concern with Smart Guns

with one comment

The subject of smart guns, that is introducing electronics into firearms to boost their capabilities, is a touchy one. A lot of capabilities could be added to firearms but one side sees the introduction of electronics as a way to forward the goals of gun control while the other side has legitimate concerns about reliability. Me? My biggest concern is a smart gun manufacturer pulling a stunt like HP:

On September 13, owners of HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X began contacting third-party ink vendors by the thousand, reporting that their HP printers no longer accepted third-party ink.

The last HP printer firmware update was pushed in March 2016, and it appears that with that update (or possibly an earlier one), HP had set a time-bomb ticking in its customers’ printers counting down to the date when they’d begin refusing to follow their owners’ orders.

With a simple software update HP locked third-party ink providers out of its platform. This isn’t new. HP has had a long history of trying to stop consumers from using their ink of choice in HP printers. Hell, HP isn’t even alone in this pursuit. Lexmark was nailed to the wall for attempting the same shit in 2003.

It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine firearms manufacturers pulling a similar stunt. Can you imagine, for example, a Remington smart gun that disabled the use of third-party ammunition with a simple firmware update? With software copyright laws as they are and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act what it is, this is the kind of thing that really worries me about introducing more electronics into firearm.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2016 at 10:30 am

New Rifle

with 2 comments

I don’t have much for you guys today since I spent last night sighting in an AR-15 I finished building:

ar-15-18-inch-barrel-magpul-furniture

It’s nothing too special. I wanted to build either an 18″ or 20″ rifle. Palmetto State Armory had an 18″ .223 Wylde barrel with a 1:7 twist on sale for $99 so I ended up building an 18″ rifle. As far as components I used the following:

  • Alex Pro Firearms (a local receiver manufacturer) upper and lower receiver.
  • Bravo Company lower parts kit (their trigger is basically a smooth milspec trigger).
  • Magpul MOE rifle stock.
  • Magpul MOE handguard.
  • PRI railed gas block.
  • WMD nickel boron bolt (it’s shiny and that’s what’s important).
  • Magpul MBUS Pro flip up iron sights (I plan on mounting an optic at some point).
  • Smith Enterprise Vortex flash hider.
  • Bravo Company Mod 4 charging handle.
  • Magpul Battery Assist Device.

As you can see, it’s nothing terribly fancy but it shot well. I put 100 rounds through it yesterday and experienced zero malfunctions. It’s more accurate than I am but that’s not saying a whole lot. I think I’ll end up replacing the trigger at some point. The Bravo Company trigger isn’t bad but I have a far better trigger in my AR-pattern .308 and I’m kind of missing it. On the other hand I really like the Magpul Battery Assist Device. I wish I could fit one on my .308 but the upper receiver isn’t cut out enough for one.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Guns and Gear

Tagged with

My Completed AR-15 Lower

without comments

Here’s what I did last night:

completed-ar-15-lower

I apologize for the shitty photography but photography was never my speciality. Since the election is coming up and that will likely mean a post election panic buy I decided to step up a rifle build that I’ve been planning for a while. It’s nothing fancy, I just want a 5.56mm rifle that is reasonably light and reasonably accurate.

I used a Mega Arms forged lower receiver. The lower components are nothing special. I did go with a Bravo Company lower parts kit mostly because I wanted the grip and the trigger. Because the lip on the Bravo Company grip doesn’t work with the Magpul trigger guard (and I didn’t want a trigger card with “BCM” embedded on it), I ended up using a Magpul grip that I’ve had lying around and will end up using the Bravo Company grip on another rifle that still has a standard A2 grip (which I hate) on it. I’m satisfied with the trigger. It’s basically Bravo Company’s version of the ALG trigger, which is a smoother version of the milspec trigger. The trigger isn’t gritty and has a decent pull weight (I don’t have a gauge to measure it). For the stock I went with the Magpul MOE Rifle Stock. Why didn’t I go with an adjustable carbine length stock? Because I’m a tall guy and have long arms so I always use those fully extended anyways. The A2 stock is actually very comfortable for me so I wanted to go with that kind of setup.

I still have to finish the upper but I dropped an upper from another rifle on this lower and function tested the controls. Everything works, which just demonstrates that any monkey can slap together an AR-15 lower.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 2nd, 2016 at 10:30 am

Posted in Guns and Gear

Tagged with

Mossberg To Courts: Muh Intellectual Property

with one comment

Drop-in triggers are nothing new. There are approximately one bajillion drop-in triggers available for AR pattern rifles and some rifles, like the Tavor, are designed around drop-in trigger packs. The fact that everybody and their grandmother manufacturers drop-in triggers hasn’t stopped Mossberg from suing basically everybody because it believes a patent it purchased some time ago grants it a monopoly on the bloody obvious:

In another instance of the firearms industry feeding on it’s own, it appears that Mossberg is exercising it’s control on the original Chip McCormick patent (US 7,293,385 B2), that it acquired a while ago, and bringing lawsuits against a number of manufacturers of drop in triggers.

Mossberg currently licenses the design to the new CMC company, who has apparently decided to get Mossberg to go after their competition, i.e. anyone making drop in triggers.

This is an example of patent trolling. Mossberg didn’t invent drop-in triggers, it purchased a patent covering their design. It also conveniently waited to file a lawsuit until after numerous manufacturers were making drop-in triggers, which coincidentally allows Mossberg to reap more wealth than it could have if it filed a lawsuit the moment somebody violated the patent. Then there is the fact that the patent is absurd. The idea of packaging up the components of a trigger so it can be easily inserted into a firearm isn’t novel or innovative. It’s bloody obvious.

I can only hope that a court renders this patent invalid and Mossberg is forced to pay the attorney fees for all of the companies it’s trying to exploit.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 24th, 2016 at 10:00 am

FIREClean Sues Andrew Tuohy And Everett Baker

with 2 comments

Gun owners had a spot of fun at FIREClean’s expense. FIREClean, a product sold for cleaning and lubricating firearms, turned out to appear very similar to Crisco when analyzed with infrared spectroscopy. Many of us laughed and a lot of FIREClean customers weren’t amused by the thought that they were charged a premium price for what appeared to be essentially Crisco.

Now that FIREClean’s profits have fallen they’re looking for a scapegoat. That scapegoat took the form of the two individuals who kicked off this entire fiasco by having the audacity to analyze FIREClean’s product:

FIREClean did respond, insisting that “allegations do not focus on actual performance or relevant tests, and draw a misleading picture”. The response did not deny that their product was similar to the oils tested alongside it in the spectroscopy.

Now it seems that on March 17th, FireClean LLC has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Tuohy and Everett Baker, a man who performed his own tests to verify Tuohy’s findings. In their complaint, FireClean LLC claims that “Tuohy initiated a public smear campaign against FireClean” and holds that Mr. Baker “contacted Tuohy for the express purpose of conspiring with him to further defame and damage FireClean”. FireClean LLC also states that since the publishing of the test, their revenues have fallen by over $25,000 per month.

Before this lawsuit I simply found FIREClean’s situation amusing. But now I think the creators of FIREClean are assholes.

Performing independent analysis and publicly releasing the findings isn’t a smear campaign. Neither person, as far as I can find, every said FIREClean is Crisco. In fact Andrew went to some lengths to clearly state that he didn’t think FIREClean was Crisco. What they said was that FIREClean and Crisco appear very similar when analyzed by infrared spectroscopy. That isn’t a false statement because the data showed exactly that.

The lawsuit itself [PDF] even admits that the defendants didn’t claim FIREClean was Crisco:

47. The statement, “FireClean is probably a modem unsaturated vegetable oil virtually the same as many oils used for cooking,” and its implications, are false.

Notice the word “probably” in that sentence? That makes it speculative and a speculation based on evidence isn’t false. Had the statement been, “FireClean is a modem unsaturated vegetable oil virtually the same as many oils used for cooking,” then there would be grounds that the defendants made a false statement.

One point in the lawsuit note that, “infrared spectroscopy is not scientifically suitable for comparing oils from the same class of compounds, such as triacylglycerides or hydrocarbons.” Another point notes that the tests weren’t performed with any controls. Refuting findings because of insufficient or incorrect testing methods is a perfectly valid rebuttal. Such a rebuttal can be posted publicly without a lawsuit. The fact that FIREClean only brought up these points now and not in its initial rebuttal just makes the company look like a gigantic asshole.

The lawsuit also makes a big stink about the personal opinion expressed by Andrew:

50. Defendant Tuohy also quoted the anonymous professor as saying: “I don’t see any sign ofother additives such as antioxidants or corrosion inhibitors. Since the unsaturation in these oils, especially linoleate residues, can lead to their oligomerization with exposure to oxygen and light, use on weapons could lead toformation o fsolid residues (gum) with time. The more UV and oxygen, the more the oil will degrade.” (Ex. C at 3-4, emphasis in original.)

51. Based on these purported facts, Tuohy wrote that “[g]iven that people in the military are often exposed to both UV and oxygen (such as when they go outdoors) and also need corrosion protection for their firearms, I would not recommend FireClean be used by members ofthe military.” {Id. at 4.)

52. In fact, FTIR spectroscopy is not an appropriate tool to test for corrosion resistance.

53. The suggestion that FIREClean is not suitable for military use is false. The assertion that FIREClean® is not suitable for use in settings with UV, light, moisture and oxygen is false.

Again, the defendant didn’t say, “FIREClean can’t protect against corrosion and breakdown when exposed to ultraviolet radiation and oxygen.” All he did was express an opinion that was based on analysis of the product. That’s not a smear campaign.

This lawsuit, as far as I’m concerned, is entirely frivolous in nature. A lawsuit is also an improper response to diminishing profits. If FIREClean wanted to address the potential damage done by the analysis it should have publicly posted a detailed rebuttal explaining why the testing procedures were insufficient or incorrect. Under such a rebuttal the company could then explain why it found the speculative statements and opinions of Andrew and Everett to be in error.

I’ve never purchased FIREClean so I can’t make a big deal about never doing business with that company again. But I will say that I will never do business with FIREClean in the future. I also threw a few bucks towards the defendants’ GoFundMe legal defense campaign. While I can’t withhold money from a company I’ve never done business with I can give money to help people being legally targeted by it.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 1st, 2016 at 10:00 am

AR Hacking

without comments

When you think about starting points for hackers what comes to mind? For many people images of Arduinos and Raspberry Pis connected to strange looking robotic parts are the first things they think of. But there’s no reason you have to start there. Deviant did a good presentation about hacking the AR-15. If you’re into firearms and want to get into hacking it’s a good video to watch since it explains how the two intersect very well:

Written by Christopher Burg

March 17th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Glocktendo

without comments

Admittedly, I’m not big on customized guns. I don’t care if other people spent a great deal of time and money customizing their guns but it’s not something I would do. With that said, this customized Glock by Black Sheep Arms is fucking awesome.

glocktendo

I would totally operate with that.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 15th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Smith And Wesson Don’t Believe You Own Your Gun

without comments

Update: Smith and Wesson has apologized for being legal cunts. I guess they didn’t have their lawyers on a short enough leash, which is a problem common to most companies. Glad to see they backed off.

My original article is below for preservation purposes.


For years now I’ve been contemplating buying a Smith and Wesson M&P. They’re wonderfully designed pistols. The only thing I don’t like about them is the trigger doesn’t have a tactile reset. Fortunately Apex triggers add that functionality so I need only buy one and drop it in, right? Wrong. According to Smith and Wesson making such modifications violates their precious intellectual property rights:

That’s one of Brownells’ series of ‘Dream Guns‘ (above), highly customized, one-off project guns Brownells gins up as examples of what’s possible if you want to put some money, time and love into your stock pistol. They use these as come-ons for trade shows and such, as attractions to get passers by to stop and check out their wares. Their latest effort, a Smith & Wesson M&P, wasn’t well received by the venerable Springfield gun maker…

They had their IP attorneys send a love letter to Brownells and the other aftermarket companies who collaborated on the M&P Dream gun.

There is a picture of the legal threat Smith and Wesson mailed to Apex, Brownells, DP Custom Works, Blowndeadline Custom, and SSVi. Although I find this entire situation ridiculous I do appreciate Smith and Wesson going out of its way to save me the money I would have otherwise dropped on one of their pistols.

I believe it’s perfectly valid to void the warranty if a customer makes a modification to a product. But threatening a lawsuit over imaginary property being violated is absurd. But this is becoming more common. John Deere already claims farmers don’t own the tractors they purchase because those tractors contain software and that software implies the entire piece of machinery is being licensed. Automotive manufacturers are also using intellectual property laws to justify preventing customers from making certain modifications to their vehicles.

What’s interesting about Smith and Wesson’s case is that it doesn’t involve software, which is the goto excuse used to claim owners don’t actually own the products they buy. Instead it’s claiming that displaying its logo on one of its own guns violates the company’s trademark. I guess anybody who modifies a Smith and Wesson firearm is supposed to file off any logos.

While I fully admit I haven’t purchased a Smith and Wesson firearm in years, the last time I did I didn’t sign any contractual agreement to remove all of the company’s logos if I modified the firearm (if such an agreement were demanded I wouldn’t have bought the gun). Since there is no cause for Smith and Wesson to claim I don’t own the pistol and I didn’t sign a contract making me responsible for removing its logos I’m curious on what grounds they plan to enforce this newfound legal power trip. Granted, I won’t have to worry about it because this kind of nonsense will ensure I take my money elsewhere.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 23rd, 2015 at 11:30 am

The Dumb Smart Gun

without comments

Remember the Armatix iP1? It was a supposed smart gun that utilized a wrist-mounted authenticator to allow the gun to fire. The gun, as far as I know, never mad it to market. While the inability to bring the gun to market causes anti-self-defense advocates to blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) it turns out the real problem was likely technical. As it turns out the NRA actually had the chance to perform range tests on the iP1 and were left wanting. Here is a list of technical failures exhibited during the NRA’s testing:

Does the Armatix operate perfectly? Well, no; we found it to be troubling at best. NRA’s tests, conducted with staffers trained by Armatix, found a number of very serious problems:

  • The Armatix pistol initially required a full 20 minutes to pair with the watch, even with the aid of an IT pro trained in its use. Without pairing, the Armatix functions like any other handgun, capable of being fired by anyone.
  • Once paired, a “cold start” still requires a minimum of seven push-button commands and a duration of 12 seconds before the gun can be fired.
  • While the gun holds a maximum of 11 rounds (10+1), the best our experts could manage was nine consecutive rounds without a failure to fire (and that only once). Three or four misfires per magazine were common, despite using various brands of ammunition.
  • […]

  • The pistol must be within 10 inches of the watch during “start up.” This slows and complicates the use of the pistol if one hand is injured or otherwise unavailable.

This is uncommon for a version one release although the fact the authentication system doesn’t prevent the gun from firing until it has been paired makes the entire system rather pointless. I would have thought such an obvious mistake wouldn’t have made it to a range test. The fact it did makes one wonder what other obvious mistakes were made.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Sometimes You Just Have To Have Fun

without comments

I’m an oddity in that I don’t really enjoy playing most of the Metal Gear games. They’re great titles but stealth has never been my thing. Of the series Metal Gear Rising is the only one I’ve played through multiple times, which I’m pretty sure qualifies as heresy amongst the Metal Gear community. But I really enjoy the characters from the games and I’m not alone. Most fans of the series are happy simply dressing up as the characters for cons but one guy decided to replicate some of the gun slinging shenanigans of Revolver Ocelot and it’s goddamn impressive.

That guy obviously invested a lot of time into learning how to do that so it was inevitable that somebody would come along and shit all over his accomplishment. Of the people I shared this video with most thought it was amusing but a couple had to comment about his violation of the four rules of gun safety and the fact that those skills aren’t practical.

I think we all need to take a moment to reflect on the fact that sometimes it’s OK to have a little fun. Firearm safety isn’t something I take lightly but I’m not even sure if those revolvers are real. If they are they are single-action revolvers so the chances of something bad happening, even if they’re loaded, is pretty minimal so long as the hammers aren’t cocked. While I won’t go so far as to say it’s totally cool to fling real guns around like toys I’m also not going to get too worked up over it.

And what he’s demonstrating certainly isn’t practical but who gives a flying fuck? I don’t know about everybody who shoots but I certainly spend time doing things with firearms that have no practical value. Sometimes you just need to have some fun. Yeah, I get it, time spent learning impractical fun tricks could be better invested in practicing practical skills. But sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself, which is why there are impractical things like televisions and movie theaters.

Some people seems to have a propensity for shitting on anybody they’re jealous of. If you’re on of them and feeling jealous of somebody why not spend the time you would normally take to bitch about them to learn how to do what they do? It would be a lot more productive and far less annoying. Who knows, you might even have a bit of fun.

The moral of the story: there’s no need to be so serious all the time.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am