A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Guns and Gear’ Category

Gun Control Fails Once Again

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Proving once again that there is no way to actually control the proliferation of simple mechanical devices, law enforcers in Brazil discovered a factory that was producing illegal submachine guns:

Coincidentally, the day before TFB published Part 1 of a photo report on DIY weapons seized in Brazil (http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/10/17/bunch-diy-weapons-seized-brazil-part/), news broke that the São Paulo State Civil Police had just busted a small – but very active – illegal weapons factory in the Ferraz de Vasconcellos suburb of São Paulo, the capital city. Although clandestine firearms manufacture is not something unusual in the country, this particular facility called the attention not only due to the fact that its main product, a 9x19mm stockless submachine gun, shows a somewhat decent general finish and apparent (hand-operated by agents) smooth functioning of components, but also that the type has for long (four years, at least) been found in criminal hands in different parts of Brazil.

Some anti-gunners will probably point out that the discovery and shut down of the factory by law enforcers shows that gun control does work. While they desperately grasp at straws I will point out that this factory has either been running for four years, isn’t the only factory producing illegal submachine guns, or both because the article notes that the type of submachine gun that was being manufactured at the factory has been found in criminal hands for at least that long.

If you follow the link, you’ll find that the submachine guns, although crude, are actually pretty decent looking for a gun that is probably manufactured largely by hand. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. If the model has been manufactured for at least four years, there has been a lot of time to improve and polish the design. More refined versions of these submachine guns are likely to crop up as other illegal factories continue to crank them out in spite of the law.

A Strange Dichotomy

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I’m sure a good percentage of my readers are aware of the drop safety issue with the Sig P320. For those of you who aren’t aware, the P320 appears to have a problem when the gun will fire if it’s dropped on its ass end. Sig has announced a free trigger upgrade (which is a nice way of saying voluntary recall), which will likely resolve the problem.

But here’s something I’ve found amusing about this entire fiasco. I’ve heard more than a few P320 owners claim that this issue isn’t a problem because they don’t drop their guns. What makes this funny is that quite a few of those individuals are also range safety Nazis. Don’t get me wrong, being strict about range safety rules is something to strive for. But to say that range safety rules are absolute while claiming that a malfunctioning drop safety isn’t an issue sends mixed signals. Can you violate the rule against sweeping other people at the range with a loaded gun if you know that you always keep your finger off of the trigger when doing it? Of course not because everybody screws up, which is why range safety rules are create in a way where screwing up isn’t likely to lead to serious injury.

While you may have never dropped a gun before that doesn’t mean you never will. Having a reliable drop safety is important because if you do screw up, and there’s always the possibility that you will, it won’t lead to you or fellow range member taking a bullet.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 16th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Posted in Guns and Gear

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When Smart Guns Aren’t Very Smart

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Many gun control advocates believe that access control technology should be mandatory on every firearm. The fact that reliable access control technology doesn’t exist is actually part of their strategy since it would act as a de facto gun prohibition. However, the technology does current exist in an unreliable form, which I would argue is as useless as not having access control technology at all:

At the Defcon hacker conference later this week, a hacker who goes by the pseudonym Plore plans to show off a series of critical vulnerabilities he found in the Armatix IP1, a smart gun whose German manufacturer Armatix has claimed its electronic security measures will “usher in a new era of gun safety.” Plore discovered, and demonstrated to WIRED at a remote Colorado firing range, that he could hack the gun with a disturbing variety of techniques, all captured in the video above.

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But Plore showed that he can extend the range of the watch’s radio signal, allowing anyone to fire the gun when it’s more than ten feet away. He can jam the gun’s radio signals to prevent its owner from firing it—even when the watch is inches away and connected. And most disturbingly, he can mechanically disable the gun’s locking mechanism by placing some cheap magnets alongside its barrel, firing the gun at will even when the watch is completely absent.

What good is access control technology if it can be easily used to prevent authorized users from using it and fail to prevent unauthorized users from using it?

As I said above, supporters of mandatory firearm access control technology know that the technology currently doesn’t exist in a reliable form and likely won’t for a very long time. To them it’s just a way to prohibit gun ownership. But there is also legitimate interest in the technology and, unfortunately, it will likely go unfulfilled because of several factors.

The first factor is size. A firearm, especially a handgun, doesn’t offer a lot of room to add reliable access control mechanisms. The second factor is how a firearm operates. A firearm has to contain a small explosion to propel a piece of lead out of a barrel. On modern firearms the firearm then has to have a way to reliably remove the brass casing that held the explosive material and bullet. Reliably removing the brass casing on a semi-automatic firearm usually requires a pretty violent mechanism. So you have a device that is designed around contained explosions and often violent operating mechanisms. It’s not an environment that’s conducive to finicky and fragile parts, which mechanical access control technology, especially of the form that can fit into a firearm, generally involves. The third factor is legal. New Jersey, for example, has a law that will mandate access control technology on all firearms as soon as one firearm is released to market with it. Firearm manufacturers aren’t in a hurry to kick that requirement into play because it would upset their customer base (while access control technology may be desirable by some it’s not desirable by all).

I’m glad Plore demonstrated how ineffective the Armatix gun’s access control mechanism is. There are few things I hate more than unreliable or falsely advertised features on devices. If a gun advertises itself as having access control technology then I want it to work reliably. The Armatix solution obviously doesn’t work reliably and buyers should be aware of that so they can give their money to somebody else.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 28th, 2017 at 10:30 am

When Seconds Count

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When seconds count your neighbor is closer than the police. In Oklahoma a man attempted to drown his two babies in a bathtub while holding their mother at knife point. Another child in the household ran to get their neighbor who arrived and resolved the situation:

A heroic man shot dead his neighbour in Ada, Oklahoma, after he tried to drown his three-month-old twins on Friday (2 June).

Cash Freeman fired twice at Leland Michael Foster as the former tried to submerge his baby twins in a bathtub, while holding their mother at bay with a knife.

Foster’s 12-year-old granddaughter told Freeman what was happening and he rushed to the premises with his gun at around 12.30pm (5.30pm BST).

As I said before, when response time truly matters the police are seldom a valid option. Police are fairly centralized, which means their response time is going to be measured in minutes. In a situation where somebody is trying to drown two babies minutes are too long. Neighbors, on the other hand, can respond almost immediately since they are next door.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 6th, 2017 at 10:00 am

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.

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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