Saturday, May 31, 2003

Great Read

Stephen Hunter's Pale Horse Coming is now out in paperback. It is a great read if you like hard-boiled detective stories with lots of action.

Hunter's books are notable because he knows guns. You won't find the common laughable mistakes-- men bowled over 380 automatics, etc. Hunter is careful with the details-- it is not just a sniper rifle, it is a Model 70 in 30-06 or a Model 700 in 308.

The most interesting thing about this book is that Hunter fills his posse with gunwriters who are only slightly disguised versions of the real thing: a big bore revolver man from Idaho named Elmer Kaye, a tall Border Patrol officer from Texas named Bill Jennings, etc. Since i grew up reading the real life models, this conceit was a bonus. (And he seems to handle it pretty well).

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


I'm well past the first gun/one gun stage of life and I'm not immune to the charms of the big bore and 1911-- i own several and plan on owning more in the future. But for home defense and general field use I've come to rely exclusively on DA revolvers in 38 SPL/357 Mag.

I don't have to make one handgun serve for all purposes-- a shrouded-hammer snubbie where it is the best choice (see here), four inch carry gun with adjustable sights where i am more interested in groundhogs at 50 years than goblins at 12 feet.

But the great thing is-- they all work alike no matter who makes them. If they are loaded they are ready to go; there is no safety to worry about operating. The DA trigger pull is smooth but heavy so there is little chance of a accidental discharge.

To choose an auto for some self-defense purposes introduces non-trivial risks if i should have to use it. Under stress, would i remember the safety or would i try to shoot it like a revolver? since stress impact fine motor control , a light single action trigger pull could go off accidentally and i don't want that. Practice can minimize these risks, but i don't know if it can eliminate them. As it is, my current practice with any revolver carries over to any of my self-defense pieces.

At the small end, no auto can fill the niche of the shrouded hammer snubbie, For field use, the 357 shoots flatter than any of the common service autos. So i'm going to use and practice with revolvers anyway. Using them as my primary self-defense choice just keeps things simple.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Isntapundit has a fine post

on the gun-grabbers at American's for Gun Safety.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Libourel and the 38 Colt

In the June Gun World Jan Libourel tackles one of the most famous stories in handgun lore and says it ain't so. In his telling the 45 Colt did not perform much better than the 38 Long Colt against the Moros in the Philippines during the fighting there after the Spanish-American War.

I think Libourel has too much fun being a debunker and overstates his case. But then we big bore lovers probably overstated the effectiveness of the 45 Colt in our telling as well. I'll grant that the 45 is not the Hammer of Thor. And I'm on record as liking 38 caliber revolvers. But all else being equal i think i'd rather tag a goblin with a 45.

That said, the Brits, who learned alot about CQC in Ulster, Flanders, and the colonies, eventually dropped the .455 Webley for the 38 S&W (not the 38 Special) with a slow (610 fps), heavy (200 grains) bullet.

I think this is an interesting concept for a snubby-- high SD, low muzzle blast. It is sort of the anti-magnum and contra-Glaser since it substitutes penetration for hydrostatic shock.

The key point is that all else isn't usually equal. There are times that a smaller. lighter, or more controllable handgun is required even if it lacks the bore size or kinetic energy of "better" options.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Looking for a 1911?

Then head over to Gunblast--- the guys test eight models head-to-head.
The End of Marksmanship?

The Esteemed Col. Cooper recently wrote:

Having been involved with marksmanship all my life, I am made uneasy by the idea that personal marksmanship may no longer be relevant to modern war. Today the rocket propelled grenade bids to replace the rifle, and with an RPG you do not have to hit an enemy, you just have to plant a bomb in his close vicinity. At present these gadgets are too cumbersome to replace the infantry rifle, but miniaturization may eventually alter that. This is very bad news from several directions, but because of this 21st century Age of the Wimp, it may be indeed the wave of the future.
(It's in Vol. 11 No. 2)

Now, I tremble to disagree with a man whose experience on these matters dwarfs my own. And I'm not saying he is wrong. But here are a couple of points that I think argue in favor of the continued maybe even the growing importance of marksmanship for the US military.

Admittedly, in a short-range slugfest between poorly trained conscripts or militia members, the RPG is more effective than an AK-47 or AR-15. At night, in a city, the RPG does give a larger margin of error when the shooters aren't very skilled or have no time to aim. (Those were the same conditions that prompted the Germans to invent the assault rifle in WWII.)

But the US doesn't relish short-range slugfests. It negates our technological advantages and increases casualties. The American Way of War is embodied by the M-1 Abrams tank which can see, hit and destroy targets at long range and on the move.

A battle rifle will always have an advantage over RPGs in terms of range, weight, accuracy, rate of fire, and speed into action. The RPG wins in terms of terminal effectiveness and margin of error.

If the world is moving to RPGs (which i do not doubt), that could be an argument for dropping our current AR-15 with its .223 poodle shooter cartridge. This is a great assault rifle but it seems that a good RPG may be better than a great assault rifle. If we were to focus more on longer-range aimed fire, a larger caliber round would do a better job.

Chuck Taylor-- who once worked with Col. Cooper-- has long argued that a battle rifle in 6.5mm is a better choice for an expert than the .223. It provides superior long-range performance in terms of accuracy and terminal effects. (The commercial .260 Remington would seem to fit the bill, although Kim du Toit might argue for the .243 Winchester).

One of the reasons that the US Army adopted the assault rifle was the research of S. L. A. Marshall which argued (based on WWII and Korean War battles) that only a small proportion of infantrymen fired their weapons in combat. Training was changed to promote area fire ("spray and pray") instead of aimed fire in order to get more soldiers involved in firefights. This in turn argued for a round which was smaller than the 30-06 of the Garand so that the soldiers carry more ammo and could fire their rifles at full-auto.

Later researchers have raised questions about SLA Marshall's research and the lessons drawn from it. Further, whatever the facts were in 1944 or 1951, it is hard to argue that they are applicable to the modern American infantry soldier. He is a volunteer with intensive training at state of the art facilities, not one of a million draftees nine months out of civilian life.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Good Primer on Holsters

Read it at Hell in a Handbasket