A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Guns and Gear’ Category

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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My Biggest Concern with Smart Guns

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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

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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

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My Completed AR-15 Lower

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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

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Mossberg To Courts: Muh Intellectual Property

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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